Once more on decadence: What does it mean to say that capitalism is a historically transitory system?

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Introduction

In a previous article about a discussion on libcom[1] we commented on the fact that some comrades appear to reject the concept of decadence even though they agree that capitalism is a historically transitory system. An example of this line of argument is a 1993 text by the UK-based journal Aufheben which claims that: “The theory of the decline of capitalism is an interpretation of the meaning of Marx's insight that capitalism is a transitory system, an interpretation that turns the notion of a particular dynamic of development into a mechanistic and determinist theory of inevitable collapse”.[2]

For us, this seems contradictory to say the least. Surely the decadence of capitalism flows logically and inevitably from the materialist conception that all class societies are transitory, each going through an ascendant and decadent stage? Rejecting decadence implies that capitalism, unlike all previous class societies, is somehow able to avoid the consequences of its fatal contradictions and if that is the case, in what way is it a transitory system?

This article explores in more depth where exactly the concept of capitalism as a historically transitory system comes from and how it relates to the Marxist theory of decadence, with particular reference to the writings of Marx and Engels on this subject, drawing out some of the political implications of denying the intimate connection between these key concepts of historical materialism and showing that they have nothing to do with “mechanistic and determinist theories of inevitable collapse”; on the contrary, the active revolutionary role of human beings lies at their heart.

The discoveries and best insights of the revolutionary bourgeoisie

The highest maturity or stage which any Something can reach is that in which it begins to perish.” (Hegel)[3]

Marxism is sometimes criticised for taking the whole idea of a succession of modes of production going through ascendant and decadent stages from bourgeois political economy. This rather misses the point; from the beginning, scientific socialism, as the highest theoretical expression of the proletarian movement, consciously based itself on the discoveries and best insights of the bourgeoisie’s historians and philosophers. These included the existence of a series of historical epochs marking the economic development of society.

In the early stage of its ideological struggle against feudalism the revolutionary bourgeoisie’s main focus was on the need to empirically grasp the natural world in order to develop the forces of production. Its most important expression was a form of materialism influenced by discoveries especially in physics, which represented a huge advance for humanity over the theological and metaphysical thought of the Middle Ages.

Bourgeois materialism essentially conceived the entire universe as a machine in motion according to fixed natural laws; human beings were simply more complex and delicate machines whose thoughts and actions were the product of the motion of atoms. If the bourgeoisie could ignore the active role of human beings in history it is because its economic system appeared to operate according to laws as impersonal as those of astronomy in the general interest of human progress. But to consolidate its victory it needed to develop a scientific understanding of the workings of history in order justify its system as the final, perfect form of society.

The first open class struggles of the proletariat sounded the death knell of this attempt by the bourgeoisie to become critically self-conscious of the world and from now on its most important theoretical developments – in particular the development of political economy from Adam Smith to Ricardo and idealist philosophy from Kant to Hegel – could not help but reveal the contradictions of its position as the new ruling class. Above all the bourgeoisie was unable to recognise in the proletariat’s growing struggles the historically transitory nature of its own system.

The science of political economy begins as part of the bourgeoisie’s effort to comprehend empirically the new society it is attempting to establish. But with the first appearance of economic crises and workers’ struggles it retreats to become a justification for bourgeois class rule; a scientific investigation of the basic premises of capitalism can only be undertaken in the form of a critique of its workings from the standpoint of the new revolutionary class.

The development of idealist philosophy by Hegel is the last great attempt by the revolutionary bourgeoisie to grasp the entire movement of history. Hegel’s contribution to human knowledge is immense, fully acknowledged later by the founders of scientific socialism: “not only a creative genius but also a man of encyclopaedic erudition, he played an epoch-making role in every sphere” (Engels).[4] Hegel’s philosophical idealism is an advance over bourgeois materialism because it begins from the recognition of human society, including ideas, thoughts and beliefs, as a subject for scientific, empirical research equal to the natural world; it partially recognises the active role of human beings in history, and, drawing on the findings of political economy, it affirms the crucial role of human labour in the development of society. Above all, it systematically develops a dialectical method with which to comprehend the evolution of human history.

Dialectics, with its long history in the civilisations of Asia and the Middle East as well as Ancient Greece, is intrinsically a critical, revolutionary method because it affirms the transient nature of the existing state of things; everything in the world is in a state of motion, constantly coming into being, changing and passing away. The source of this motion is the struggle between the contradictory tendencies inherent in all phenomena and processes: “Contradiction is the root of all movement and vitality, and it is only insofar as it contains a contradiction that anything moves and has impulse and activity” (Hegel).[5] Only by analysing things in the context of this motion rooted in contradictions can we begin to understand the whole picture of the world, including its reflection in the minds of human beings.

Hegel’s lasting achievement is to use this dialectical method to represent the entire sweep of human history as a process of change, transformation and development, and to attempt to identify the laws that underlie this process. He was unable to do this, however, due not only to the limits of his own knowledge and of bourgeois society at the time but also to the flaws and contradictions in his method: having shown that all historical forms were transitory, for political reasons he tried to limit the concept of dialectical change to previous societies, and having proposed an empirical approach to analysing human thoughts, ideas and beliefs as abstract pictures of real things and real historical processes, he fell back into an idealist view that these were the products of an “Absolute Idea” that existed somewhere outside of history and the world; in other words he turned the relationship between ideas and reality completely upside down.

Understanding the real movement of history

Significantly, after Hegel bourgeois philosophers and historians progressively abandoned the dialectical vision of history and the search for the laws of the evolution of human society. Under the influence of the class struggle a new generation of radical thinkers was able to identify the flaws and contradictions in Hegel’s idealism and restore the dialectical vision of history but was ultimately unsuccessful in using a materialist approach to identify the laws of historical change.

It was the development of the proletarian movement itself that both demanded and made possible a clarification of the laws of historical change. Adhering to this movement, Marx and Engels were finally able to draw on the lessons of its struggles and the gains of its first theorists to identify the motor force of history as the antagonism between the classes, which are themselves the products of material conditions in a given historical period.

Turning Hegel’s method ‘back on its feet’, they were able to show that the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of human beings are determined by the material conditions of their social existence. Dialectics, rather than the workings of some “Absolute Idea” outside of the world, is a reflection in the human brain of real historical processes, and therefore the starting point for a scientific, empirical investigation of bourgeois society. For the first time it was possible to understand the historical conditions that had given rise to capitalist exploitation and therefore to discover the conditions for its ending.

Accepting the research of the bourgeoisie’s own theorists and historians as a “broad outline”, Marx and Engels identified a series of modes of production as historical epochs marking the progressive development of society, showing that, by developing the productive forces of humanity and creating the conditions for a classless society, capitalism was simply the final stage in the class struggle, its revolutionary overthrow concluding the ‘prehistory’ of human society.[6]

The historically transitory nature of capitalist society is thus the foundation stone of this new proletarian scientific method, which assimilates the most advanced methods and conclusions of the revolutionary bourgeoisie and, by extension, the accumulated wisdom not only of bourgeois but all previous societies.

A dialectical vision of historical progress

At the core of this method is a dialectical vision of historical progress driven by the growing social productivity of labour; the increasing power of human beings to satisfy the social needs of their existence. These needs are first and foremost physical, because “The first premise of all human history is, of course, the existence of living human individuals” (German Ideology).[7] But the satisfaction of these immediately creates new needs – emotional, intellectual, sexual – through which human beings express their life. The way human beings define their needs is determined in the final analysis by the way in which they reproduce their social existence in a given historical period and the way they satisfy their needs is through their labour, consciously transforming nature for this purpose.

As the productivity of labour increases, human beings are able to produce an ever greater surplus over and above the needs of the individual and the community; and as the productive forces available to humanity grow, an increasingly specialised division of labour develops, which is expressed in the development of ever more complex forms of ownership of the means of production leading to the evolution of private property. The growth of the social productivity of labour is therefore also expressed in the growing separation of human beings from the products of their labour, which increasingly appear as something alien to them, and from nature, which Marx in an early text describes as “man’s inorganic body”.[8]

This process of increasing alienation reaches its extreme form in capitalism. But at the same time, by rendering the great mass of humanity ‘propertyless’ and by making possible the unlimited development of the productive forces, capitalism creates the practical conditions for its abolition. Historical progress is thus a dialectical process; a working out, through a succession of different modes of production, of the contradictions between the growth of the social productivity of labour and the social relations which increasingly separate human beings from the products of their labour. For historical materialism, ‘progress’ is the extent to which the real movement of history makes possible the liberation of humanity; not economic growth or the development of technology in itself.

The critique of political economy: discovering the conditions for capitalism’s downfall

Having shown that capitalist exploitation was the product of specific historical conditions, it was necessary for the proletarian movement to discover the precise mechanisms that would create the conditions for its ending.

The Communist Manifesto locates capitalism’s contradictions in its inherent tendency towards the overproduction of commodities and the periodic crises that result. The response of capital to these only creates the conditions for even greater crises and further undermines its ability to prevent them; having conjured up a gigantic growth of the productive forces, the bourgeoisie finds its own relations of production threatening to destroy it. But these same relations also create its grave-digger, the proletariat, whose organisation as a class is the inevitable product of the development of capital itself; this is the fatal contradiction that determines its historically transitory nature.

The Manifesto triumphantly proclaims the fall of capitalism and the victory of the proletariat to be equally inevitable. But as we know, the defeat of the 1848 revolutions and the subsequent spectacular expansion of capitalism led Marx to develop a more sober, longer term view of the opportunities for capitalism’s overthrow – and also a more precise analysis of the mechanisms through which capitalism would eventually reveal its fatal contradictions and create the conditions for its overthrow. To do this it was necessary to expose the basic premises of capitalism hidden beneath the science of the bourgeoisie.

If Marx’s critique of political economy appears to be explaining history as an objective process, this is because bourgeois society is a particular form of the social life of human beings in which the relations between human beings in the social reproduction of their lives appear as relations between things. By generalising the production and exchange of commodities, capitalism both separates the producers from the products of their labour and tears asunder all hitherto existing social ties, leaving “no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment””. Instead of exploitation veiled by religious and political illusions it substitutes “naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation” (Manifesto). But this exploitation is now hidden behind the apparently impersonal workings of ‘the market’ or ‘the necessities of production’, so that capitalism appears to be based on relations between ‘things’ that are completely outside of human control.

For Marx, these ‘things’ – like ‘money’ or ‘commodities’ or ‘wage labour’ – are summoned into existence by the objective laws of capitalism and have their own material reality: “They are forms of thought which are socially valid, and therefore objective, for the relations of production belonging to this historically determined mode of social production” (Capital).[9] For political economy, of course, they are ‘natural’, eternal forms. But the critique of this bourgeois science reveals its most fundamental ideas and principles to be mere fetishes, distorted visions of underlying relations between human beings within a specific historical epoch: “The whole mystery of commodities, all the magic and necromancy that surrounds the products of labour on the basis of commodity production, vanishes therefore as soon as we come to other forms of production” (Capital).[10] The objective laws of capitalism themselves are historically specific forms taken by the class struggle at a certain stage in its development, which can only be destroyed in practice through the proletarian revolution.

The precise mechanisms that reveal capitalism’s historically transitory nature

In Capital Marx more exactly locates the tendency of capitalism towards overproduction in the specific character of capitalism as the first mode of production to have generalised commodity production, and specifically in the wage labour relation. Significantly he begins his investigation with the commodity, the basic unit of the capitalist mode of production, because it is in the commodity that we find the germ of all the contradictions contained in bourgeois society. It is these contradictions beneath the surface appearance of ‘things’ that provide its motion; the same contradiction that is experienced by the worker as “the accumulation of misery, the torment of labour, slavery, ignorance, brutalization and moral degradation[11] also drives capital to the point where it eventually becomes a definitive fetter on the productive forces.

Marx’s analysis of the precise mechanisms that determine capitalism’s historically transitory nature has been dealt with many times.[12] To summarise:

1. The first is in the process of producing surplus value itself. For capital only living labour can create value, but at the same time the capitalists are driven by the whip of competition to improve productivity; that is, to increase the ratio between the dead labour of machines and the living labour of human beings, thus reducing the rate of profit and increasing the mass of commodities produced. The more accumulation accelerates, the more the rate of profit falls, threatening the continuation of the production process. For Marx:

this characteristic barrier in fact testifies to the restrictiveness and the solely historical and  transitory character of the capitalist mode of production; it bears witness that this is not an absolute mode of production for the production of wealth but actually comes into conflict at a certain stage with the latter’s further development”.[13]

2. The production of surplus value is only what Marx calls the ‘first act’ of the capitalist production process. The increasing mass of commodities produced must be sold if the capitalist is to realise the surplus value extracted, but the conditions for this are again determined by the wage labour relation itself, which dictates that the workers can never consume the full value of what they produce: by definition they must always be overproducers, while at the same time capitalism is driven to produce an increasing of commodities without regard to the capacity of the working class to consume. This is why “The ultimate reason for all real crises always remains the poverty and restricted consumption of the masses, in the face of the drive of capitalist production to develop the productive forces as if only the absolute consumption capacity of society set a limit to them”.[14]

In order to try to resolve this inherent contradiction, capital must continually expand the market but this can never keep up with the expansion of production; the more productiveness develops, the more capital finds itself confronting the limits to consumption due to its own social relations.

We can see clearly here that capitalist production describes not a cycle but an ever-increasing circle or spiral and the continual attempts of capitalism to overcome its contradictions, which present themselves as imminent barriers to its own further development, can only create even more formidable barriers in its way, because:

The true barrier to capitalist production is capital itself. It is that capital and its self-valorization appear as the starting and finishing point, as the motive and purpose of production; production is production only for capital, and not the reverse. i.e. the means of production are not simply means for a steadily expanding pattern of life for the society of the producers.[15]

For Marx, what distinguishes capitalism from previous modes of production above all is that it is driven towards the unlimited development of the productive forces but, since it is based on class antagonisms, this is in contradiction with the definite limits of its own relations of production and therefore drives it towards “dissolution” (Grundrisse)[16].

In a nutshell; capitalism is doomed because it must grow without limit – yet it is itself its own limit. This is the fundamental contradiction, the specific reason why capitalism, like all previous class societies, is transitory: it’s only purpose is the self-expansion of capital, but in pursuit of this it confronts the barrier of its own relations of production, eventually reaching the point where these relations become a definitive fetter on the further development of the productive forces, or, to put it another way, the further development of the productive forces itself becomes a fetter on capital: “When it has reached this point, capital, i.e. wage labour, enters into the same relation towards the development of social wealth and of the forces of production as the guild system, serfdom, slavery, and is necessarily stripped off as a fetter.”[17]

Decadence: the growth of capital’s destructive forces

To exploit living labour, capital must destroy dead labour which is still useful. Loving to suck warm young blood, it kills corpses.” (Bordiga)[18]

In an abstract, a-historical sense, of course, capitalist social relations are always a fetter on the productive forces of humanity because wage labour and capital place artificial restrictions on their potential growth from the very start. But the real question is whether the material conditions for a new mode of production exist, since in the materialist conception of history, “new superior relations of production never replace older ones before the material conditions for their existence have matured within the framework of the old society” (Preface). Only when these conditions exist does capitalism’s continued survival become a definitive fetter on the development of all the productive forces available to humanity.

What are the productive forces? Far from defining these merely in terms of technological development or economic growth, for historical materialism the productive forces cannot be separated from the social relations of production in which they develop and operate, because: “a certain mode of production … is always combined with a certain mode of co-operation, or social stage, and this mode of co-operation is itself a “productive force” (German Ideology). Both must be considered as a totality.

The productive forces of humanity in the widest sense are the means available to human beings to reproduce their material life and meet their needs in a given historical epoch. These comprise not only physical means like machines but also scientific knowledge, technical skills and, most important of all, human labour and creativity. In capitalism the most important productive force is the working class itself; not just as the class engaged in social labour, the source of value in society, but as the class that is the bearer of communism, because for Marxism, “Of all the instruments of production, the greatest productive power is the revolutionary class itself”(Poverty of Philosophy).[19]

Decadence is therefore the fettering of the growth of all the means available to human beings to reproduce their social existence compared to what would be possible without the constraint of the existing social relations. This includes not only economic growth and technological development in the broadest terms but also relations between human beings and the ability of individuals to develop their potential knowledge, skills and creativity to the maximum possible given the material conditions.

Once a mode of production has entered into its decadent stage, development does not come to a halt; the dialectical movement of society continues, driven by contradictions that are now sharpened and increasingly come to the surface, while the barriers imposed by the outmoded property relations are pushed to their furthest limits in order to prolong the mode of production’s survival, giving every appearance of growth but in fact heralding its decay.

As the first mode of production to be driven by the continual need for the expansion or accumulation of profit, capitalism’s decadence is characterised not by long-term stagnation or a collapse of production like previous class societies but “bitter contradictions, crises, spasms”, together with “the violent destruction of capital” which for Marx is “the most striking form in which advice is given it to be gone and to give room to a higher state of social production.[20]

Starved of sufficient outlets for its expansion, capital must increasingly destroy the productive forces, above all through wars which no longer serve a rational purpose in consolidating national units or extending the field of accumulation but rather express the competitive struggle of the most advanced capitals for a share of the already-existing world market. The world wars of the 20th century, with their destruction of millions of proletarians, in the most developed centres of bourgeois society, along with the accumulated productive forces of humanity, are the clearest proof that the system has entered its epoch of decadence.

With the continued survival of the system, the productive forces themselves are progressively transformed into forces of destruction, in which we see a qualitative development of all the destructive tendencies that are inherent in capital’s mode of operation, including the expulsion of living labour from the production process, the severing of the connection between human beings and nature and the long term despoiling of nature itself in the drive for profit.[21]

The spiralling of this destructive dynamic ultimately poses the alternative for humanity of an advance to socialism or a descent into full-scale barbarism.

But if the entry of capitalism into its epoch of decadence is inevitable from the moment of its birth, its revolutionary overthrow is not. In the Communist Manifesto, despite describing the decline of previous class societies as resulting either in a “revolutionary reconstitution of society at large”, or the “common ruin of the contending classes”, Marx and Engels consistently refer to the downfall of capitalism and the victory of the proletariat as inevitable. But to be consistent with their scientific method we must indeed affirm that in the absence of the conscious overthrow of capitalism by the proletariat, the outcome of capitalism’s decline will be “the common ruin of the contending classes” – and quite possibly the destruction of human civilisation along with it.

Conclusions

At the heart of historical materialism is a dialectical vision of the evolution of human society unfolding through a succession of modes of production, each going through a stage of ascent and decline. There is no ‘theory of decadence’ separate from the materialist conception, based on the study of history, of historically transitory class societies.

The denial of the theory of decadence at the same time as defending the position that capitalism is a historically transitory system is at best contradictory and confused. At worst it is a deliberate piece of misdirection by those who want to pretend that ‘decadence theory’ is an invention of the ICC or of left communism.

Logically the denial of decadence must also lead to the rejection of the idea that each mode of production goes through a period of ascent in the first place. And since both ascendance and decadence describe the movement of a class society as the result of its inbuilt contradictions, this is also in effect a denial of the dialectical vision of history, or at the very least its taming and dilution.

We have shown that the decadence of capitalism is inherent in the wage labour relationship that is capital’s central contradiction. The same contradiction that is experienced by the worker as exploitation and oppression drives capitalism to the point where it becomes the biggest barrier to the further development of the social productivity of labour. This is why from the moment of its birth capitalist production describes not a cycle but an ever-increasing circle or spiral. But if this point is not reached, it implies that capitalism can somehow overcome its contradictions, or at least avoid their fatal consequences. According to this view, capitalist production thus describes not a spiral but a repetitive cycle.

Despite paying lip service to the concept of capitalism’s transitory nature, the denial of decadence, if taken to its logical conclusion, leaves us with a vision of capitalism as an enclosed, self-perpetuating system that cannot be undermined by its own internal contradictions.

As for the criticism that decadence is a mechanistic and determinist theory that ignores the subjective dimension of the class struggle, we have seen that historical materialism is founded on the recognition of the active, revolutionary role of human beings in history. By developing the productive forces and bringing into existence the proletariat, capitalism creates the material conditions for its own supersession. But human thoughts, ideas and beliefs are also a material factor, and the maturation of all the conditions for capitalism's overthrow depends on the ability of the proletariat to fully develop its class consciousness and understand its historic tasks.

This is the one point where our views appear to coincide with those of the deniers; unless capitalism is destroyed by the proletariat it will persist, albeit in a state of advanced decomposition; there is no ‘third way’. The problem with the denial of decadence is that it underestimates the implications of this for the future of humanity because, as we have seen, it is precisely the fettering of the productive forces by capitalist social relations that provokes a qualitative change in the destructive tendencies of capital, with potentially dire consequences for human civilisation and life on the planet. The alternative facing humanity today is socialism or barbarism; not socialism or simply the continuation of capitalist exploitation.

In fact, far from ignoring the subjective dimension, the ICC has written at some length about the immense difficulties the proletariat faces in taking on its historic tasks, due to both objective and subjective factors.[22] There are undoubtedly objective reasons why the proletariat has so far been unable to overthrow capitalism: for example, the slow rhythm of the development of the open economic crisis since the 1960s has allowed the bourgeoisie to spread out its attacks on the working class over a whole period and to use the apparatus of state capitalism to take measures to ‘manage’ the crisis. But even this has a subjective dimension in that it is also a result of the ruling class’ ability to learn the lessons of dealing with the proletarian threat to prevent the development of class consciousness. As a result we must recognise that, in the ICC’s phrase, the proletariat has so far missed its ‘appointments with history’, above all in the revolutionary wave that put an end to WW1.

Revolutionaries have undoubtedly underestimated the capacities of the bourgeoisie to manage its open crisis for so long. But this should not lead us to underestimate the importance of subjective factors in the survival of capitalism. The final irony of accusing the ‘theory of decadence’ of ignoring the subjective dimension is that it is largely because of this factor, in the negative sense, that we are forced to have this discussion today, a full 100 years after capitalism entered its epoch of decadence and announced its historically transitory nature.

But the time is coming when “the conditions themselves [will] cry out: Hic Rhodus, hic salta!”.[23] If it remains in the hands of the bourgeoisie, human society will never reach the next century, other than in shreds, nothing human any longer left in it. As long as this extreme has not been reached, as long as a capitalist system survives, there will necessarily be its exploited class, the proletariat. And there will therefore remain the possibility that the proletariat, spurred on by capitalism's total economic bankruptcy, will at last overcome its hesitations and take on the enormous task that history has confided to it: the communist revolution.”[24]     

 

MH



[1] “Once more on decadence: some questions for the ‘deniers’”, October 2013, http://en.internationalism.org/icconline/201510/13467/once-more-decadence-some-questions-deniers.

[2] Decadence: The Theory of Decline or the Decline of Theory?, http://libcom.org/library/decadence-aufheben-2. Aufheben were later forced to admit the failure of their attempted critique of decadence theory (see the introduction to the above at http://libcom.org/aufheben/decadence), but their arguments are still apparently influential in some parts of the anarchist-influenced milieu. Cf http://en.internationalism.org/internationalreview/201206/4981/decadence-capitalism-part-xiii-rejection-and-regressions

[3] Quoted in Herbert Marcuse, Reason and Revolution, 1941, “Chapter V. The Science of Logic”, https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/marcuse/works/reason/ch01-5.htm.

[4] Ludwig Feuerbach and the end of classical German philosophy, 1886, https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1886/ludwig-feuerbach/ch01.htmhis.

[5] Quoted in Lenin, Conspectus of Hegel’s Science of Logic - Book II (Essence), 1914, https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1914/cons-logic/ch02.htm/

[6] In The German Ideology Marx identifies three forms of class society: ancient, feudal and bourgeois. These are the ones described in the Communist Manifesto. As a result of further research, set out in the Grundrisse, he added the Asiatic or oriental system, which is incorporated into the Preface to the Critique of Political Economy. For the evolution of Marx’ and Engels’ thinking on this whole subject see Eric Hobsbawm’s introduction to Karl Marx: Pre-Capitalist Economic Formations, International Publishers, 1963.

[7] Marx, The German Ideology, 1845, https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/german-ideology/ch01a.htm#a2

[8]Nature is man’s inorganic body – nature, that is, insofar as it is not itself human body. Man lives on nature – means that nature is his body, with which he must remain in continuous interchange if he is not to die. That man’s physical and spiritual life is linked to nature means simply that nature is linked to itself, for man is a part of nature” (Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, 1844, https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/manuscripts/labour.htm.

[9] Capital Volume One, Penguin, 1976, p.169.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Capital Volume One, Penguin, 1976, p.799.

[12] See for exampleThe decadence of capitalism (v): The mortal contradictions of bourgeois society”, International Review no. 139, 2009, http://en.internationalism.org/ir/139/decadence.

[13] Capital Volume Three, Penguin, 1981, p.350.

[14] Op. Cit., p.615.

[15] Op. Cit., p.358.

[16] Grundrisse, Penguin, 1973, p.540.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Murder of the Dead, 1951, https://www.marxists.org/archive/bordiga/works/1951/murder.htm. Bordiga is commenting in particular on capital’s appetite for so-called natural disasters but more generally on its crisis of overproduction in the post-war period.

[20] Grundrisse, p.749.

[21]Capitalist production, therefore, only develops the techniques and the degree of combination of the social process of production by simultaneously undermining the original sources of all wealth — the soil and the worker.” (Marx, Capital Volume One, p.638.

[22] “Why the proletariat has not yet overthrown capitalism, Part 2”, International Review no. 104, 2001, http://en.internationalism.org/ir/104/why-no-revolution-02

[23] A quote from Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon. The phrase is a reference to Aesop’s fable about an athlete who boasts he made a stupendous leap in Rhodes; the crowd points to a rose (in Greek Rhodos can mean both ‘Rhodes’ and ‘rose’): “Here is Rhodes, leap here”.

[24] “Why the proletariat has not yet overthrown capitalism, Part 2”, Loc. Cit