The debates taking place recently on libcom about "decadence theory" have been stimulating and confusing at the same time. The ICC proposition that capitalism entered its decadent phase in around 1914 has taken a lot of bashing but continues to be supported by the ICC despite lots of evidence produced by libcommers to show that capitalism is really doing much better since the Second World War than it ever did before it.
In their a-historical frame of mind many libcom posters can't accept the idea of a capitalism at one time "ascendent" and today "decadent" because they say rightly that it's always been a disgusting and inhuman system and that to distinguish a time within it when it was "good and growing" from a time when it became "bad and diseased" is just a ploy.
But another position is to consider the decadence of capitalism to relate more to its social being than to its economic health so that its triumphant continuation as a money maker for the capitalist class does nothing to alleviate its continuing imposition of misery and austerity on everyone else; even those off whom it succours itself most, the working class.
Yet there is the impression that the ICC requires capitalism to be both decadent economically and socially at the same time and that you can't have one without the other. And nobody on libcom has made a distinction between decadence as an economic disease and decadence as a social poison. Nor has anyone suggested that the two don't always have to go together. Till now that is.
...capitalism is still capable of growth but is now socially regressive.
This quote Is brief and to the point. The ICC might dismiss it however, because it must be a nonsense in Marxist terms or indeed in any economic analysis. For how can "growth" be socially regressive? Unless of course capitalism in its later stages has become so removed and alienated from human life - the economy is now an ultra-reified abstraction of almost supernatural proportions - as to bear little relationship to human existence. (Somebody might point out that it nevet did anyway）
What does anyone else think about this? Is a "socially regressive" capitalism still capable of growth? Or is what appears to be the endless "growth" and prosperity of the financial system (despite Greece and the downturn in the Chinese stock markets) really a mirage?