[Marxism] Fwd: Investment, investment, investment | Michael Roberts Blog

Ralph Johansen mdriscollrj at charter.net
Sat Feb 20 13:16:58 MST 2016

Hans Ehrbar wrote

Michael Roberts seems to think "growth" is a good thing, even though our planet is finite, and Mary Scully does not say a peep about the environment, other than calling socialists who vote for the Green Party "small-minded". Reading the debates on the marxism list sometimes seem like a visit in a museum to me.

Hans G Ehrbar



Isn't this unfair to Michael Roberts? He is not discussing the deleterious effects of growth on the planet. He is attempting to explain the workings of the economy under capital. He is as he acknowledges single-minded in that effort and I am persuaded by it, unlike by Michael Heinrich and Michael Hudson, one of whom derides the law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall for reasons still obscure to me, having to do mainly with Marx's subsequent musings after writing Cap 3 as purportedly disclosed in the new Mega mss - although Marx never explicitly repudiated as far as I know his declaration that the law was the most important one in the analysis of capital - and Hudson. who although persuasive in other respects doesn't even mention the law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall from what I have read of his works, relying on Keynesian "demand" and under-consumptionism as the cause and cure of crises of capital. 

I don't see Roberts anywhere minimizing the dangers of environmental collapse, or implying that "growth" is a good thing. And if it's not part of his discussion, it's because it isn't germane in the context of that discussion. 


Louis Proyect wrote

(I'll have to give this article careful attention but it would seem to me that investment is being neglected because there is no demand. Why invest in new steel mills when there is not an expanding market in the manufactured goods that are based on the output of basic industry like steel, rubber, petrochemicals, etc.?) 

This blog continually hammers home the view that it is investment not consumption that is the key to economic growth. Fluctuations in business investment in a predominantly business, profit-making economy decide, in the first analysis, whether output expands or contracts; whether there is a boom or slump. This view is contrary to that of Keynesian economics, which although it appears to recognise that investment plays an important role, sees investment and consumption spending (domestic demand) as driving employment, output and incomes and profit – in that order – not vice versa. 

full: https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2016/02/19/investment-investment-investment/

it seems self-evident as a matter of first impression to me as well. But when I accept that the sole purpose in a system of capital accumulation of investment in productive enterprise is to make a profit in a manner that allows the investor to compete, reproduce and expand, it becomes plain to me that those activities will take place not in the simple presence of demand, but when production in response to that demand will produce an adequate return for the realization of return for that investor. Otherwise, he'll do something else with his capital, like invest it in fictitious, casino-type (with assured taxpayer bail-out protection in the present system, however), non-productive ventures.

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