[Marxism] Marx's crisis theory and the Third World

Philip Ferguson philipferguson8 at gmail.com
Wed Apr 10 20:23:18 MDT 2013

Louis wrote:
>Just to repeat a point I once made about all this. How does the
over-accumulation of capital relate to places like Nepal, Bolivia,
Congo--for that matter where probably more than 60 percent of the
world's population lives?

Marx's crisis theory presupposes developed capitalism, so it doesn't relate
to impoverished, super-exploited Third World countries.

That's not a criticism of it.  It does what it's supposed to do, no more,
no less.

However, it does have *some* relevance to those types of countries, because
a major factor in capital from the imperialist centres going to those
countries is the falling rate of profit at home.

Indeed, the LTRPF is important for understanding imperialism.

Marx identified capital itself as the chief obstacle to its own development
and pointed out that at a certain stage it has to attempt to escape from
its own laws of motion.  Marx died at a very early stage of this
development.  But by the end of the 1800s/start of the 1900s it was clear
that capitalism had entered a new stage - the epoch of imperialism.  And,
of course, it was Lenin who analysed this.  Pretty much all the key
features of imperialism that Lenin identified are capital trying to find
its way out of its own limitations.

The country outside the imperialist world that I am most familiar with is
Ireland.  You can't understand the Irish meltdown without understanding
LTRPF, because it's that law which drove imperialist investment in Ireland
which created the Celtic Tiger phenomenon and it's that law which underlies
investment in fields that are non-productive of new surplus-value.  In
other words, it's the crumbling of both the productive and
unproductive/speculative elements of the Celtic Tiger which caused the
meltdown in Ireland, but both those things were *driven by LTRPF in the
first place*.

As I said before, attempts to come up with some other theory of capitalist
crisis that I've ever seen typically don't amount to much more than trying
to approximate Marx to some form of radical bourgeois economic theory and
the 'solutions' that result from that, from what I have seen, usually
involve great lashings of reformism.

One of the most important things about LTRPF is that it shows that
'solutions' within the confines of capitalism are always at the expense of
workers and capitalism can't be patched up.  It is a permanently
crisis-bound system, when it's not in crisis it's heading towards one.
Moreover, when capital is in crisis, LTRPF allows us to pretty accurately
predict what policies will be followed by the capitalists - and it's not
always slash and burn - and what the limitations are to different sets of
capitalist policies, whether 'neo-liberal' or 'Keynesian' or whatever.

LTRPF has explanatory power that no other attempts at crisis theory have.


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