Is capitalism decadent?

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Is capitalism decadent?
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: Is capitalism decadent?. The discussion was initiated by baboon.
Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!

I am on the "Is capitalism decadent" thread, am I not?

This is a good way to get into a discussion and I liked the previous effort with Chris Knight.

It starts off with the weaker theoretical basis of anarchism/libertarianism and the latter's rejection of decadence which is also based on their rejection of ascendency. And if the decadence of the system is taken on board (as it was in the 70s/80s by revolutionary minorities) then there has to be a real alternative - I agree that that seems to be lacking even among serious libertarians. There is a problem with seeing that capitalism is at the  end of the road and Aufheben's position that capitalism is on the verge of a new upswing should be answered by the ICC (not even the most optimistic bourgeois take this view). There is an ongoing discussion on the above on libcom for example, not least around the question of "reforms" and the union question.

Good points about the ICC's view of the sudden catastrophic collapse of capitalism (a view since clarified) which I think was also accompanied by the idea that revolution was just around the corner, ie a real overestimation of levels of class consciousness. But there's no sudden, purely economic collapse and this is what makes the question of imperialism important for the working class. The ecological questions raised are also extremely important for the analyses of decadence.

I thought that the discussion exaggerated a little the disappearance of the proletariat from the west with the closure of mines, steel works, etc., but the discussion on  China is very good. Not least from the attempts (attempts that are failing in my opinion) of the Chinese bourgeoisie to use these "extra-capitalist" elements (labour from the peasantry) and throw them away.

The discussion clarifies the response to the idea that the ICC is saying that the productive forces come to a halt. There are still developments in these forces but as alienated forces they become more dangerous for humanity.


Marin Jensen
I rather agree

baboon wrote:

I thought that the discussion exaggerated a little the disappearance of the proletariat from the west with the closure of mines, steel works, etc., but the discussion on  China is very good.

I rather agree on this point, however I think the idea is not that the proletariat has disappeared in the West but that the huge concentrations in a single factory do not exist in the way they used to. The car factory at Cowley where I remember leafletting in the '80s is a shadow of its former self (they turn out Minis for BMW now), and there's certainly nothing to compare with the factories in Guangdong employing 70,000 workers. This is a loss for the working class as a whole, because these huge factories contained generations of tradition of struggle and organisation that has been dispersed. And the big concentrations are beacons for the rest of the class, as the fascinating film on Mahalla shows. The problem in China is that the workers there are very recent arrivals from the countryside and don't have the tradition yet - but they're getting there...

Is there any scope for

Is there any scope for Britain to reindustrialise or is that simply not economically feasible/suicidal for the ruling class?

Ive been asking the same

I've been asking the same question radicalchains poses in regard to the US. I also wonder how the ecological crises affect that answer.

I don't think manufacturing

I don't think manufacturing will ever return to its previous form in the "developed" economies, at least not until the ruling class can beat living standards down to those on Bangladesh. Nonetheless, the end of industry in the West is often exaggerated. On the news this morning, I saw an item saying that 20% of UK GDP still comes from engineering (not the same as manufacturing, of course, but still interesting).

I agree with Demo that

I agree with Demo that deindustrialization in the West, while real, has been exagerated. We have been hearing reports for a couple years now that some industrial jobs are actually moving back to the U.S.  as U.S. labor is now more "competitive" (read cheap). This is something Obama hads picked up on in his re-election campaign, trying to paint it as part of a mounting recovery. There do seem to be some very real debates going on within the bourgeoisie right now about what type of economy is best for the national captial. However, it is unlikely we will see a return to the days of high fordism anytime soon. Although there is still serious debate as to whether or not this is possible in China if it can "develop its internal market."