Understanding capitalism's decadence

Part 8: The 'real domination' of capitalism and the real confusions of the proletarian milieu

There’s a brand new fashion in the proletarian milieu, a smart little theory which its trend setting designers present as a long-lost secret of marxism, permitting them to explain the historical evolution of capitalist society without - and here’s the beauty of it – having to drag in that commonplace, old-hat theory of decadence which the ICC in particular has been going on about for so long.

Part 7: The Convulsions of Ideology

The ‘ideological crisis’, the ‘crisis of values’ which journalists and sociologists have been talking about for decades is, contrary to what they say, not a ‘painful adaptation to capitalist technological progress’. It is rather the expres­sion of the halt in any real historical progress by capitalism. It’s the decomposition of the dominant ideology which accompanies the deca­dence of the economic system. All the convulsions which capitalist ideologi­cal forms have gone through over the past three quarters of a century in fact constitute not a permanent rejuvenation of capitalism but an expression of its senility, demonstrating the necessity and possibility of the communist revolution.

Part 6: Understanding the Decadence of Capitalism

In two previous articles, we demonstrated that all modes of production are regulated by an ascendant and a decadent cycle (International Review no. 55), and that today we are living in the heart of capitalism’s decadence (International Review no. 54). The present article aims to give a better description of the elements that have made it possible for capitalism to survive throughout its decadence, and in particular to provide a basis for understanding the rates of growth in the period following 1945 (the highest in capitalism’s history). Above all, we will demonstrate that this momentary upsurge is the product of a doped growth, which is nothing other than the desperate struggle of a system in its death-throes. The means that have been used to achieve it (massive debts, state intervention, growing military production, unproductive expenditure, etc) are wearing out, opening the way to an unprecedented crisis.

Part 5: Understanding the Decadence of Capitalism

In the fifth article in this series (see International Review Nos. 48, 49, 50 and 54), we are returning to the critique or rejection of the notion of decadence by a series of groups in the proletarian political milieu (the Internationalist Communist Party (Programma, Bordigist) or ICP, the Groupe Communiste Internationaliste (GCI), A Contre Courant (a recent split from the GCI), Communisme ou Civilisation (CoC), and in part the External Fraction of the ICC (EFICC) . We will demonstrate that these critiques in reality hide a rejection of the marxist conception of historical evolution which is the foundation of the necessity of communism, and so weaken the necessary historical dimension in the proletariat’s coming to consciousness, or else in cases like the GCI end up presenting the revolution as the old utopia of the anarchists.

Part 4: Understanding the Decadence of Capitalism

We are continuing here the series of articles begun in International Review Nos. 48, 49, 50, which aimed to defend the analysis of the decadence of capitalism against the criticisms levelled at it by groups of the revolutionary milieu, and by the GCI in particular. In this article, we aim to develop different aspects of the decadence of the capitalist mode of production, and to answer the arguments that reject it.

Part 3: The class nature of the social democracy

Understanding the decadence of capitalism also means understanding the specific forms of proletarian struggle in our own epoch, and how they differ from those of other historical periods. The continuity that ties together the proletariat’s political organisations emerges from the comprehension of these differences.

Part 2: Understanding the political implications of capitalist decadence

rade unionism, parliamentarism, mass parties, the struggle for social reforms, support for struggles to form new states... these are no longer valid forms of struggle for the working class. The reality of the open crisis shaking capitalism, the experience of social struggles which this crisis has engendered, is making this more and more clear to hundreds of millions of workers all over the world. But why were these forms of struggle, which were so important for the workers’ movement last century, transformed into what they are today? It’s not enough to be ‘against’. In order to have a solid intervention in the class struggle, to be able to combat the disorientation which bourgeois ideology always imposes, we also have to know why we are against.

Part 1: The rise and decadence of capitalism

The increasingly apocalyptic character of social life all over the planet is neither a natural inevitability nor the product of so-called ‘human folly’, nor is it a characteristic of capitalism since its beginnings. It is an expression of the decadence of the capitalist mode of production which, having been from the 16th century to the beginning of the 20th century a powerful factor in economic and social development, has transformed itself – by becoming locked up in its own contradictions – into a more and more powerful barrier to the continuation of this development.

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