This is a response to the text posted by the ICC entitled 'Correspondence on the decadence of capitalism - Growth as Decay
Growth as Decay
I do like this title as i think it poses a lot of questions about the exact nature of capitalist decadence and I do hope it provokes a range of issues to discuss.
I think myself that the ‘growth as decay’ is particularly relevant to the complex issues of environmental degradation and pollution that capitalist is generating as well as over-fishing of the seas and excessive use of land for meat production, let alone overpopulation and the over-industrialisation of various regions of the globe. Furthermore there is the issue of the growth in waste production (not just armaments production) and how much of a negative impact that has on the system. It also leads to questions of policies within communism and whether it can/will mean a reduction in industrial production.
I recognise that the response does mention some of these issues but i do not agree however with the response’s focus on China as an example of ‘growth as decay’ nor, as the ICC previous called it, cancerous growth.
The actual question posed is “How can the ICC maintain that capitalism is a decadent system since 1914 when there has been such enormous growth in the capitalist system since then?” and I don’t think the ICC has answered this that well
This response does not really answer the actual question posed by the anonymous reader because it ignores the reality the reality of the high growth of capitalism particularly over the past half century. The response quotes from a text (4. Decadence: A total halt to the productive forces? | International Communist Current (internationalism.org) which correctly states that the ICC does not deny growth takes place but it ignores Part 6 of this text which does suggest that the growth rate of capitalism is slowing down. This analysis is a product of Luxemburg’s markets theory which sees a reduction in economic growth taking place as the regions of pre-capitalist markets diminish and should have been an important part of the ICC’s explanation of its views.
There has been an ‘enormous growth in the capitalist system’ as the questioner suggests but China is not the only source of growth within capitalism indeed as far as I can see there are a lot of far east nations that have seen rates of growth above the world average. More than that though, ‘enormous economic growth’ has been true for the whole of the capitalist system and it is even true to say that the rate of growth of capitalism in decadence has been higher than the period we call ascendancy (see Sutton, A Critique of Luxemburg’s Theory of Accumulation, Chapters 11 and 12, for my explanation)
The ICC ignores the empirical reality of capitalism’s growth and this is needed to provide a solid basis for an analysis of decadence. I would suggest looking at C.McLeland’s text ‘Has Capitalism entered its Decadence since 1914?’ which contains a more substantial range of empirical data about the last century than my text. Whilst I do not agree with his analysis that decadence hasn’t started yet, I do think his data is important to consider and discuss for all of us and particularly the ICC. I think the data itself provides a strong argument for a reconsideration of decadence not as an economic phenomenon but as a political or social phenomenon
The change in period around about 1914 is expressed by the completion of the world market, the completion of nation states as the major institutions of power, by the emergence of imperialism in the last part of the 19th century and its result in the financial imperialism of the 20th century, by the emergence of state capitalism and its domination of politics and the economy, by the onset of a period of wars and revolutions, by the strengthening of ideological control over the working class. The ongoing economic development of capitalism certainly brings about crises at various points in time for which the state can find no solutions only temporary panaceas and, as suggested, the issue of growth as decay. I am not questioning the idea of decadence or obsolescence but i do this the factors that brought this about are more political and social than economic.
I presume I am agreeing with the reader when I say that any argument that poses capitalist decadence in purely economic terms ie as economic decline is in trouble because it just doesn’t fit the reality of capitalist economic and social development