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

Ralph Johansen mdriscollrj at charter.net
Sat Feb 20 15:51:48 MST 2016


You're right of course, Hans, that Roberts is trying to explain that aspect of the working of the capitalist economy that has to do more specifically with the cause of crises. The primary cause for him is the tendency of the rate of profit to fall. 

But remediation for him does not occur under a system of capital accumulation through growth, and he is plain about that. He would agree that “productive growth”, whatever that might have entailed, has become “destructive growth.” 

So then, are you saying that Roberts wants “to advertise socialism as a system which allows everybody, not only the capitalists, to benefit from economic growth?”

You write (attributing it to Roberts?) “..but the only way to continue growth under the capitalist regime is by lower wages and austerity.”

I can’t see that Roberts would agree with that either. He sees the only solution in, as he puts it, “the end of the capitalist mode of production and the power of capital.” And that “Capitalism continues to exploit resources successfully (and rapaciously) at the cost of planet and climate” (https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2014/10/).


Hans Ehrbar wrote 

Ralph Johansen writes about 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. I think Michael is trying to explain the prolonged recession since 2008. His thesis is that the Marxist explanation by the falling rate of profits is the best explanation, and that even the better mainstream economists agree to it now. 

Since the fall of the rate of profits is the reason for this recession, it is not possible to climb out of it by giving people higher wages, but the only way to continue growth under the capitalist regime is by lower wages and austerity. 

Therefore if we really want recovery we must get rid of the capitalist system. 

Did I get this right?  I have troubles following because he makes so many unstated assumptions which were familiar to me in the past but which I am thinking now are no longer valid. 

The argument which I just outlined makes me feel like I am in a museum because if anybody is trying to explain the economy in the year 2016, the finiteness of the planet must be part of the puzzle.  I have the impression that right now this is a much stronger influence on the economy than the rising organic composition of capital.  Without the finiteness of the planet, you have no hope to explain the Paris Agreement, the low oil prices, etc.  And someone who has the finiteness of the planet clearly in focus will never try to advertise socialism as a system which allows everybody, not only the capitalists, to benefit from economic growth.  Instead, a 21st century Marxist must explain that what looks like economic growth in the books of capitalist firms is really destruction, that natural resources are being destroyed in order to maintain the accounting fiction of growth, and that eco-socialists want more growth only in the poor countries.  In the UK and US we need less growth and an economy which does not collapse if it does not grow. 

Hans G Ehrbar

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