[Marxism] Inevitable Collapse or Crises

Shane Hopkinson s.hopkinson at cqu.edu.au
Mon Feb 6 09:00:33 MST 2012


Perhaps I wasn't clear. We all agree that crises are endemic to capitalism - and that it won't fall over all by itself as its plainly evident that 120 years later capitalism still rolls on crises and all.

Heinrich suggests that the view that capitalism would inevitably collapse was widely held in the workers movement (not that he agreed with it) - and there does seem grounds for thinking that Marx thought so too - even if in his analytical works he doesn't say so explicitly The Manifesto (which is quoted in Capital Vol 1) and CCPE seem to echo this thought. 

Louis disagrees that this view was widely held.  So I am interested in the matter A. historically - did Marxist activist not operate with this assumption, by and large? And B. theoretically - if I was to write a new 'Marx for beginners' would it be fair to say that Marx outlines in Capital - a process by which Capitalism's own contradictions or 'laws of motion' would pull it apart. 

The sociologist Michael Burawoy gives what I thought was a nice summary of this based on 3 (simultaneous) processes: the deepening crises of capitalism, the intensification of class struggle, and the spontaneous creation of the material conditions for socialism which he describes as follows:

1. "First, competition among capitalists leads them to transform production through deskilling and technological innovation that has the consequence of expelling workers from production, increasing the reserve army of unemployed, bringing down wages, and finally leading to crises of overproduction on the one side and a falling rate of profit on the other. Crises follow one another, leading to bankruptcies upon bankruptcies, until only the largest (and therefore “fittest”) of capitalists remain.

2. "Enter the second process. As the crises deepen, small capitalists disappear into the ever more homogenized and degraded working class; there is a concentration of wealth at one pole of society and the concentration of poverty at the other pole.Because they cannot control the crises and because they appear as mere coupon clippers, capitalists are deemed incompetent and superfluous. Class consciousness grows among the increasingly massive and homogenized working class. Class polarization leads to the intensification of class antagonisms: first in scattered struggles against individual capitalists, then in trade union combinations across factories and even sectors, and finally at the national political level with the formation of a workers’ party.

3. The culmination of this second process coincides with a third process—the maturing of the material conditions of communism in the womb of capitalism. The advance of technology provides the basis of the shortening of the length of the working day, while the formation of monopolies, trusts, and state ownership provide rudimentary planning. It just takes a final act of seizing state power to realize the communist order. 

Does that seem like a fair description of Marx and/or classical Marxism? 

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