[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". << 
 
Comment 
 
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)." 
 

Comment 
 
"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? 
 
III. 
 
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 
ride. 
 

WL.
 
 




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