Mandelite Economics and Kondratiev Waves

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Mandelite Economics and Kondratiev Waves
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There isn't much about Mandel on this site, though some circles give him credit for predicting the end of the post-war boom in an article from 1964 by analyzing history through Kondratiev wave theory (he predicted that the post-war boom, despite the "obvious" rampant consumerism and thus prosperity of the period, would end in crisis at the end of the decade).

Like some of Trotsky's work, a lot of Mandel's economic work looks like it is approaching decadence theory- though instead of recognizing concepts like state capitalism (as era rather than command economies, as he did write articles polemicizing with Tony Cliff style state capitalism theory), he invents his own periodization of capitalism.

Nevertheless I am quite convinced that starting either with the great depression of 1929-32 or with the second world war, capitalism entered into a third stage in its development, which is as different from monopoly capitalism or imperialism described by Lenin, Hilferding and others as monopoly capitalism was different from classical 19th century laissez-faire capitalism. We have to give this child a name; all other names proposed seem even less acceptable than “neo-capitalism.” “State monopoly capitalism,” the term used in the Soviet Union and the “official” Communist parties, is very misleading because it implies a degree of independence of the state which, to my mind, does not at all correspond to present-day reality. On the contrary, I would say that today the state is a much more direct instrument for guaranteeing monopoly surplus profits to the strongest private monopolies than it ever was in the past. The German term Spätkapitalismus seems interesting, but simply indicates a time sequence and is difficult to translate into several languages. So until somebody comes up with a better name – and this is a challenge to you, friends! – we will stick for the time being to “neo-capitalism.”

Has anyone read any of his work at length?

The more I read, the less 'penetrating' his insight about the return of crisis appear to be- although he was technically correct, it looks like a vague guess rather than a more serious economic analysis. I think his best known book is "Marxist Economic Theory" and to a lesser extent "Late Capitalism".

I'd be interested to hear opinions and thoughts on the Kondratiev Waves or the work of Kondratiev in general, and whether any of it is 'useful', or if Mandel's article was just a fluke of a guess that turned out to be right.


Kondratiev waves were at one

Kondratiev waves were at one time all the rage among global historians. IIRC, they are appealing as they seem to fit in with an approach to history that appreciates the "longue duree." The Kondratiev wave issue is popular among epigones of Wallerstein, Braudel, etc. in that they seem to suggest some kind of deeper rythm to material culture that in some ways is timeless. I don't know how well they fit in with a Marxist periodization of captialism in the end.