[Marxism] Crisis. What Crisis? Profits Soar!
Waistline2 at aol.com
Waistline2 at aol.com
Tue Aug 17 07:57:03 MDT 2010
>> In other words, these are "windfall gains" - not profits derived from
increased sales revenues and expanding consumer markets. How could they be -
if wages are declining and unemployment/underemployment/and lost labor is
over 22%? Clearly, this short-term profit boom, based on political and
social advantages and privileged power, is not sustainable. There are limits to
the massive layoffs of public employees and production gains from the
intensified exploitation of labor … something has to give. One thing is certain:
The capitalist system will not fall or be replaced because of its internal
rot or "contradictions". <<
Petras is correct - in my personal approach, to assert capitalism "will not
fall or be replaced because of its internal rot or "contradictions."
No form of private property is displaced - sublated, based on internal rot
of the contradiction that is the primary classes stabilizing a mode of
production. Bourgeois private property like "feudal private property" reaches
its historical limit as the result of revolution in its mode of production,
beginning with changes in the form of wealth, as these changes intersect
with revolution in the means of production. The struggle between the primary
classes of feudal society - serf and nobility, did not bring feudalism to
an end. This contradiction, the unity and strife of the primary classes
defining the system, pushed feudal society through all its quantitative
boundaries of evolution.
Development of qualitatively new means of production, new classes and new
forms of wealth draws an existing social organization of labor (defining a
mode of production) into antagonism with the new technology regime and its
new division of labor. Most students of history agree that the industrial
revolution and its broad social consequences brought the world of feudal
private property to an end, although changes in the form of wealth from land to
gold set the stage - prelude, for the destruction of the old world.
Marx approach is that a form of private property and its expression as a
political superstructure, reaches its historical limit as it confronts a new
technology regime or a revolution in the means of production. The
industrial revolution was such a revolution. The electronics revolution is to us
what the growth of the industrial revolution was to Marx.
II. Petras writes:
"The failed diagnosis of capitalist crises by the left and progressives has
been a perennial problem since the end of World War II, when we were told
capitalism was 'stagnant" and heading for a final collapse. Recent prophets
of the apocalypse saw in the 2008-2009 recession the definitive and total
crash of the world capitalist system. Blinded by Euro-American
ethnocentrism, they failed to note that Asian capital never entered the "final crises"
and Latin America had a mild and transient version (Financial Times June 9,
2010, p. 9)."
"The failed diagnosis of capitalist crises" by Marxists is not so much a
failure to unravel the impulse of cyclical crisis, but rather a historical
limitation - a historical error, or failure to grasp the dynamic of a mode
of production reaching its historical - not political, end. A thousand
years of peasant revolts could not bring the system of feudalism to an end
and 162 years of proletarian revolt could not bring bourgeois private
property and the mode of production which sustained it to an end. I see no reason
to beat up the previous generation of Marxists for their failure to grasp
the leap beyond industrial production - electro-mechanical process, back in
1950 or 1967, although in the 1970's every facet of the Marxist movement in
the advanced countries noted the increasing density in dead labor.
The history of awareness of emerging clusters of new technology can be
outlined several ways. For brevity I cite three books by the futurist Alvin
Toffler covering a 30 year span; "Future Shock" in 1970, "The Third Wave" in
1980 and "Power Shift" in 1990. Without question there is a litany of
writings on the impact of the new technology regime ranging from observation of
Sam Marcy, to writings on "monopoly capitalism" to several Soviet books on
what was then called "telemechanics."
A historical error is historical because one cannot see beyond the corner
of the actual building blocks of a mode of production, before the new
technology regime has partially arisen. Why "uncritically" criticize comrades for
failing to predict the impact of the internet in 1950 or 1967?
Individual writers within a general Marxist framework are always going to
differ in their insights and point of view. That is why we push and opt for
organization based on unity of action. My own view is that restoration of
profitability of financial institutions or rather; the new non-banking
financial institutions express a form of wealth the noted economist Henry C.K.
Liu coined as "notional value" or literally imaginary value. Marxists call
this "notional value" a form of wealth generated outside of surplus value
reproduction. Thus, when Petras speaks of the restoration of profitability
as the bottoming out of this downturn in the business cycle and contends
there was no increase in the productivity of labor, I can hardly disagree
because one is speaking in terms of months rather than 3 - 5 years cycles of
new technology application.
General Motors real time downsizing, dumping of old facilities and building
of new plants is with the new technology, further increasing the density
of machinery - dead labor, exacerbating the latent antagonism between
bourgeois private property and the new technology. Cyclical crisis and
restoration of profitability is not new to capital. What is new is the new
environment of a new post industrial revolution in the means of production.
We are now experiencing the social consequences of revolution in the means
of production in the form of the proletarian movement. The era of the
industrial form of trade unionism as dominant is over. We are in for a rough
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