Luxembourg and pre-capitalist markets

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jk1921
Too Simple?

Fred wrote:

This seems very reasonable. But perhaps it's just too simple for this thread.

Maybe not too simple, but just too far removed from the familiar debate points of Grossman/Mattick vs. Luxemburg or FROP vs. Overproduction. Perhaps its telling nobody other than you, Fred, have acknowledged it or responded to it.

d-man
more orders

jk1921 wrote:
Who can possibly be aware and respond to the "whole literature" about Luxemburg? That's a tall order.

Yes there is a lot written about Luxemburg (I linked to an overview given by contemporary author) so the odds of finding new arguments are slight.

Quote:
Maybe not too simple, but just too far removed from the familiar debate points of Grossman/Mattick vs. Luxemburg or FROP vs. Overproduction. Perhaps its telling nobody other than you, Fred, have acknowledged it or responded to it.

It seems the author whose views you sketched is Hillel Ticktin, but it would make dicussion easier to just recommend a link or instead we would have everyone recapping views of this author they once read. Here are some videos by him (the video called rise of capitalism is actually about the decline).

 

Demogorgon
In terms of Ticktin's views

In terms of Ticktin's views (if that is who we're talking about) I don't have time to read up to deeply on his views. However, the idea that capitalism has "restrained" the crisis because of social concerns is not unique to him. In fact, Mattick makes a similar point here:

"If the crisis would completely and generally destroy the profitability of capital, capitalist production would stop. In reality, even in the depth of crisis a portion of capital remains sufficiently profitable to continue producing, although on a reduced scale. Another part falls victim to the crisis and thus helps preserve the profitability of the remaining capitals. If this process develops freely, as was generally the case with the crises of the nineteenth century, a shorter or longer period of suffering gives way to a situation in which capital, with an altered structure and a higher rate of exploitation, can recommence accumulation, pushing it beyond the level reached before the crisis. Under the circumstances of the present day, this “healing process” is socially too risky, requiring state interventions to avoid social upheavals."

But there is an economic root to this fear of social upheaval and need for the state. Firstly, the enormous mass of historically accumulation capital has rendered "healing" function of crisis less effective - crisis normally pushes forward centralisation of capital (i.e. big capitals buy up failing ones), but because capital is already so centralised and concentrated this can no longer take place within national boundaries, but on the international stage inevitably raising tension between states as well.

In addition, the enormous growth of productivity over capital's historic development pushes forward the contradiction of production vs consumption. In other words, capital needs the working class to consume more - in order to absorb the increased production - but be paid less  - in order to maintain the rate of profit). This contradiction sharpens with each cycle of accumulation, meaning capital requires ever more serious crises to restore a suitable ratio of exploitation and such crises have ever more devastating effects. (Incidentally, this should put an end to the idea that Mattick - and by extension other MAFROPists - doesn't appreciate the problem of the market or overproduction. In fact, he states that the discrepency between social production and social consumption "makes capitalist progress possible, at the same time it limits this progress").

"Grossman/Mattick vs. Luxemburg" may or may not be a correct characterisation (Grossman agreed with the intent of Luxemburg's project after all), but "FROP vs. Overproduction" is a serious misunderstanding of the subtleties of the (MA)FROP theoretical framework.

jk1921
http://newleftreview.org/II/7

http://newleftreview.org/II/71/wolfgang-streeck-the-crises-of-democratic...

Here is a link to the article I was referring to. Sorry it took me a while to find it again.

jk1921
Subtleties

Demogorgon wrote:

"FROP vs. Overproduction" is a serious misunderstanding of the subtleties of the (MA)FROP theoretical framework.

Now we have to understand subtleties in addition to being aware of entire literatures? Good Grief 

jk1921
Ignorance of the Literature?

d-man wrote:

jk1921 wrote:
Who can possibly be aware and respond to the "whole literature" about Luxemburg? That's a tall order.

Yes there is a lot written about Luxemburg (I linked to an overview given by contemporary author) so the odds of finding new arguments are slight.

Quote:
Maybe not too simple, but just too far removed from the familiar debate points of Grossman/Mattick vs. Luxemburg or FROP vs. Overproduction. Perhaps its telling nobody other than you, Fred, have acknowledged it or responded to it.

It seems the author whose views you sketched is Hillel Ticktin, but it would make dicussion easier to just recommend a link or instead we would have everyone recapping views of this author they once read. Here are some videos by him (the video called rise of capitalism is actually about the decline).

Do you think there has been an ignorance of the main axes of the literature on Luxemburg in this thread? Link seems to have that sense (even suggesting that the defenders of Luxemburg don't know what she said). Granted it seems like this material is fresher in the minds of some over others, but should that lead to the conclusion that there is a general ignorance of the state of the literature?

Moreover, what does that literature really have to do with anything? For every professional Marxist economist who dismisses Luxemburg; there are ten who think decadence is horse hooey. What does referencing the "literature" get us?

d-man
jk1921 wrote: Do you think

jk1921 wrote:

Do you think there has been an ignorance of the main axes of the literature on Luxemburg in this thread? Link seems to have that sense (even suggesting that the defenders of Luxemburg don't know what she said). Granted it seems like this material is fresher in the minds of some over others, but should that lead to the conclusion that there is a general ignorance of the state of the literature?

Moreover, what does that literature really have to do with anything? For every professional Marxist economist who dismisses Luxemburg; there are ten who think decadence is horse hooey. What does referencing the "literature" get us?

The texts I bring up are Credit romanticism (because the limits of credit was mentioned), Finance and the realization problem in Rosa Luxemburg and Rosa Luxemburg and the critique of political economy (both pro-Luxemburg texts obviously relevant to a discussion of Luxemburg), and also a Critical introduction to Rosa Luxemburg's economic works (as an aside here Kautsky is referred to as well). I can't estimate if you will get anything from reading these texts, but I hope you will.

jk1921
D-man, in your opinion, do

D-man, in your opinion, do the texts you reference break any new ground in Luxemburg scholarship or do they pretty much reflect where the field was in say 1995?

d-man
yes and no

The Russian translator of her works Sholom Dvolaitski made similar comments (e.g. here - in Russian). In Holland you have pro-Luxemburg Ravensteyn and on the critical side Sam de Wolff. In Germany among others Max Schippel was against (text here - in German). The text by Motylev and later the ones by Bellofiore do give some new variations on the theme, so to speak, but you should try to find out for yourself.

Leaving aside Luxemburg, I of course agree that in general there is a severe dearth of any progress in marxist theory. For example what Harvey likes to write about (I imagine) is explained earlier in this article (one-third down; On mobility and transfer of productive forces).

jk1921
OK

d-man wrote:

The Russian translator of her works Sholom Dvolaitski made similar comments (e.g. here - in Russian). In Holland you have pro-Luxemburg Ravensteyn and on the critical side Sam de Wolff. In Germany among others Max Schippel was against (text here - in German). The text by Motylev and later the ones by Bellofiore do give some new variations on the theme, so to speak, but you should try to find out for yourself.

Leaving aside Luxemburg, I of course agree that in general there is a severe dearth of any progress in marxist theory. For example what Harvey likes to write about (I imagine) is explained earlier in this article (one-third down; On mobility and transfer of productive forces).

 

Well, they may very well be worth reading then, but I haven't the foggiest when I could possibly get to them, especially now that I have to read Braudel again too. Of course, faced with an overwhelming reading list there is a tendency to focus on the shorter pieces, so maybe I can fit them in sometime before Christmas.

jk1921
Advance

d-man wrote:

Leaving aside Luxemburg, I of course agree that in general there is a severe dearth of any progress in marxist theory.

As evidenced by this thread perhaps? What new ground have we broken?

Fred
hijacked by leftism

jk1921 wrote:

Demogorgon wrote:

Now, we all hope that at some point the class will begin to move and begin to question what's going on around it. What will happen then? There are legions of leftists and their academic affiliates (who often have a far better technical understanding of Marx than most of us, even if they rip out its revolutionary guts) prepared to offer the usual leftist "solutions" to the crisis and convincingly demolish any talk about decadence. The only way to combat the insidious cancer of leftism is for the class to reappropriate its theoretical heritage: they've stolen our theory and we have to take it back!

Something doesn't sit right with me about this. How can people who are not really Marxists have a better "technical knowledge" of Marx than Marxists do? There is an epistemologic problem here. Didn't Lukacs and Korsh argue that Marxism can really only be understood in the course of
practicing it?

But I think this underlines some of the anxiety and exasperation that is expressed throughout this thread. There seems to be a sense among many of us (myself included) of profound confusion, almost embarrassment, surrounding our inability to really know, with any degree of certainty, what causes captialism's crisis. But how can it be that academics or leftists know it better than us if they strip out decadence? Should decadence be a deduction from a clear understanding of captialism's internal dynamics or can we infer it from the social conditions that we see around us? ...Still there also seems to be another tendency in these discussions--to assert the superiority of one particular theory, because the "model" works, whatever the empirical problems (both sides are guility of this at times). At least when we do this, we can assuage the anxiety that comes along with not knowing for sure. This may be perfectly understandable, humility in the face of big existential questions is not easy.

Maybe this thread has already succumbed to a kind of leftism. Isn't one of leftism's ploys to encourage and engage in long discussions with countless references that don't lead anywhere satisfactory but leave confusion and irritation in their wake? "They've stolen our theory, and are using it against us by removing it from it's relationship with class struggle." Leftism would be pleased to have one of its wicked machiavellian strategies named as "a big existential question" wouldn't it? Just a suggestion.

d-man
 'Accumulation' is itself a

 'Accumulation' is itself a long discussion of literature. And for me it's doubtful that Luxemburg herself added anything new to her precursors/ contemporaries (e.g. Max Nordau, the Narodniks, H.Cunow,..) about the idea of decline due to lack of non-capitalist market. So I don't believe the issue for jk or Fred is really that of references or theoretical progress in general. It would be fetishism to blame your irritation on this thread in general, instead of on specific arguments (or lack there of) made by the people (the Luxemburgists) on here (who you seem afraid to mention by name?). Leftism does have this idea of pluralism, "anything goes"; but let's be clear who you mean; is it the ICC's attitude on decadence, or is it me posting some links?

 

Fred
I'm talking about "leftism"

I'm talking about "leftism" not "leftists". The arguments made on this thread are not the point for me. My suggestion is that the thread, in losing a firm sense of purpose and direction ( posters have said it's going round in circles) is no longer furthering any proletarian/Marxist cause, and might just possibly be thought to have taken a leftist turn.

d-man
Leftism is the attitude that

Leftism is the attitude that the arguments are not the point. It's not the thread which fails to further any proletarian cause (as if the thread is a person of its own), but the Luxemburgists here. That's what is complained about (e.g. by ernie, why not use names Fred?). Now you and jk1921 try to be diplomatic and make it look as if its everybody's and hence nobody's arguments which are, not even wrong or right - that would be "taking sides", but without a purpose or direction (up its own bum?). Let the Luxemburgists and the critics continue discussion, without both you and comrade jk's diplomatic interventions, please.

jk1921
Contentious

d-man wrote:

Leftism is the attitude that the arguments are not the point. It's not the thread which fails to further any proletarian cause (as if the thread is a person of its own), but the Luxemburgists here. That's what is complained about (e.g. by ernie, why not use names Fred?). Now you and jk1921 try to be diplomatic and make it look as if its everybody's and hence nobody's arguments which are, not even wrong or right - that would be "taking sides", but without a purpose or direction (up its own bum?). Let the Luxemburgists and the critics continue discussion, without both you and comrade jk's diplomatic interventions, please.

I think you are being needlessly contentious (and rather unfair) now. Its perfectly legitimate to raise questions about the ultimate utility of the discussion (not that I agree with Fred's charges of leftism, although to be fair to him, he is only raising it as a question). This can be responded to without implying that the person should "but out" of the thread.

d-man
It is also legitimate for me

It is also legitimate for me to ask for the ultimate utility of your interventions here jk, but I think you would be right to feel that question implies that you should shut it, so I will do the courtesy of not asking it.

jk1921
Shut It?

d-man wrote:

It is also legitimate for me to ask for the ultimate utility of your interventions here jk, but I think you would be right to feel that question implies that you should shut it, so I will do the courtesy of not asking it.

D-man, instead of trying to chase Fred (and I have no idea why you are assimilating me with him) off the thread, you could try to respond to his concerns and give a defense of why this controversy is important to people who just want to change the world and have no interest in advanced political economy. I bet the younger searching generations would like to see that. Several have tried before (Luxemburgists no less), but apparently it was unconvincing. Perhaps you could do better? Either that or you could just ignore him.

As far as telling people to shut it, it seems that is exactly what you did in your previous post. I think there is a big difference between Fred's interventions and what you propose to do to me above. Fred is making a meta-critique of the controversy directed at nobody in particular as far as I can tell. You propose attacking me personally, thereby creating a hostile discussion envrionment. But you have already done enough towards that end. Its OK though D-man, we are all still trying to learn how to discuss and you are right, I am far from perfect in that regard myself.

 

LoneLondoner
Cool off?

For some strange reason, questions of economics can sometimes get very heated... in a way that is inappropriate to what ought to be a debate in a scientific spirit (which I know scientists don't always live up to). I seem to detect a touch of bad temper in recent interventions - I may be wrong of course.

It seems to me that two things would be useful here: first, for the ICC to try to produce a summary of the discussion so far - this is not easy and we all have much to do so it may take a little time.

The other would be an experiment. Perhaps all those who have participated in this thread could give some thought to what are their points of agreement. This might make it easier to be clearer about what are the issues that need clarifying, but also about what is the common ground (if any) which we all share. Perhaps it would be easier to go forward if we are certain of a common starting point. It would be interesting for example, to know what everyone thinks are the key questions that need to be explained (World War I, decadence yes or no, or why...)

Debate need not always be a struggle against. It can sometimes be a common struggle for clarity.

d-man
jk wrote:give a defense of

jk wrote:
give a defense of why this controversy is important to people who just want to change the world and have no interest in advanced political economy. I bet the younger searching generations would like to see that. Several have tried before (Luxemburgists no less), but apparently it was unconvincing. Perhaps you could do better? Either that or you could just ignore him.

You would rightly feel offended if someone told it's best to just ignore you. I would be glad to lose your attention however, because it should better be spent on reading up on some texts I linked. But you don't feel like it, so you speak about the younger generation's lack of interest in advanced political economy and that I should try to convince them why they should be interested in it. I can't convince you personally as someone already participating on this thread to even click on a link, but I think I could fulfill the latter task more easily. The issue of money, banks, crisis, "China", etc. are at the forefront of the news all day, are the key issues of daily life, discussed from the fringe right, the center to the left. The difficulty is thus apparently to convince some people on a thread dealing with political economy on a communist site to check out some links.

LoneLondener wrote:
For some strange reason, questions of economics can sometimes get very heated...

I was not in discussion with jk about questions of economics unfortunately. He seems to agree that Luxemburg's theory is obviously wrong!

radicalchains
I think this is probably the

I think this is probably the best place I could find to link Ticktin's new hopefully regular podcasts (right hand side of homepage): http://www.critiquejournal.net/ Nothing new if you've heard him speak before but a good summary of some of his views, I'm sure he'll develop them in future podcasts. He'll also be speaking at the coming (CPGB) 'Communist University' this year. p.s ICC ever considered a fringe meeting?? 

Especially useful for those with long reading lists and not enough free time!

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