Critique of the book 'Dynamics, contradictions and crises of capitalism', Part 2

Overproduction, a fundamental contradiction of capitalism, is linked to the existence of wage labour. This will be analysed in this second part of our article in order to reply to important questions on which we have serious disagreements with Marcel Roelandts’ book Dynamics, contradictions and crises of capitalism: Why does increasing workers’ wages not resolve the problem of overproduction? Where does the demand exterior to the workers come from and what are its role and limitations? Is there a solution to the overproduction at the heart of capitalism? How to characterise those currents that propose wage increases as the solution to capitalism’s crises? Is capitalism doomed to a catastrophic collapse?

Critique of the book 'Dynamics, contradictions and crises of capitalism', Part 1

At the time of a major acceleration of the world economic crisis we have decided to return to the fundamental questions of the dynamic of capitalist society. Only by understanding them can we fight a system that is condemned to perish either by its own contradictions or by its overthrow and replacement by a new society. These questions have already been looked at in numerous publications of the ICC, so if we judge it necessary to raise them again it is to critique the vision developed in the book Dynamics, contradictions and crises of capitalism.

The post-war boom did not reverse the decline of capitalism

The last few articles in this series have demonstrated the high level of agreement among Marxists (and even some anarchists) regarding the historical stage capitalism had reached by the middle of the 20th century. The devastating imperialist war of 1914-18, the international revolutionary wave that came in its wake, and the unprecedented world economic depression which marked the 1930s were all seen as irrefutable evidence that the bourgeois mode of production had entered its epoch of decline, the epoch of the world proletarian revolution. The experience of the second imperialist bloodbath did not call this diagnosis into question...

Decadence of capitalism (vii): Rosa Luxemburg and the limits to capitalist expansion

As we saw in the last article in this series, the central target of the revisionist attack on the revolutionary core of marxism was the latter's theory of the inevitable decline of capitalism, resulting from the irresolvable contradictions built into its relations of production. Eduard Bernstein's brand of revisionism, which Rosa Luxemburg refuted so lucidly in Social Reform or Revolution, was to a large extent based on a series of empirical observations derived from the unprecedented period of expansion and prosperity the most powerful capitalist nations lived through in the last decades of the 19th century.

ICC internal debate on economics (Part 5): Chronic overproduction - An unavoidable fetter on capitalist accumulation

World debt has reached astronomical proportions, no longer making it possible to go on "re-launching" the economy through a new spiral of debt without threatening the financial credibility of states and the value of their currencies. Faced with this situation, revolutionaries have a responsibility to make an in-depth analysis of the ways in which capitalism has up till now kept its system artificially alive by "cheating" its own laws...

ICC internal debate on economics (Part 4): The causes of the post-1945 economic boom

For the fourth time since we began to publish elements of our internal debate in the International Review n°133 , we reproduce below a text on the explanation of the period of prosperity that followed World War II. The article below defends the thesis of "Keynesian-Fordist state capitalism", which considers that the prosperity of the 1950-60s was based on the bourgeoisie's development of various Keynesian measures.

ICC internal debate on economics (Part 3): War economy and state capitalism

The principal purpose of this article is to develop some of the groundwork for the analysis of the post-1945 economic boom that was sketched out in International Review n°133 under the title "State capitalism and the war economy".

Our contention is that it is capitalism's driving forces which determine both the extraordinary dynamism of s ascendant period, impelling it from its beginnings in the city-states of Italy and Flanders to the creation of the first planetary society, and the enormous destructiveness of capitalism's decadent period that has subjected humanity to two world wars whose barbarity would have made Genghis Khan blench, and which today threaten our species' very existence.


ICC internal debate on economics (Part 2): The bases of capitalist accumulation

The thesis we have titled "Extra-capitalist markets and debt", as its name suggests, considers that the outlets which made it possible to realise the surplus value necessary for capitalist accumulation in the 1950s and 60s were constituted by extra-capitalist markets and credit. During this period, debt gradually took over from the world's remaining extra-capitalist markets as these became inadequate to absorb all the commodities produced under capitalism...

ICC internal debate on economics (Part 1): The causes of the post-1945 economic boom

In this issue of the International Review, we are continuing the publication of our internal debate on the explanation of the post-war boom during the 1950s and 60s.
In this issue, we open our pages to the two positions which have not yet been the object of extended examination, with the following articles: "The bases of capitalist accumulation" (which defends the "Extra-capitalist markets and debt" thesis), and "War economy and state capitalism".

Reflections on Loren Goldner’s article The Biggest ‘October Surprise’ Of All: A World Capitalist Crash

In our view, the latest phase of the crisis, summed up under the short-hand ‘credit crunch', will certainly be a factor in challenging existing views and convincing people that we are seeing the real putrefaction of capitalism as a mode of production. In this context, we welcome a recent contribution by Loren Goldner, who would describe himself as part of a "left communist mood" which has been growing in the recent period.

Crisis of neoliberalism or crisis of capitalism?

They are all telling us that this crisis announces the end of ‘neo-liberal' capitalism and that hopes are turning today towards ‘another kind of capitalism'. This new capitalism would be based on production and not finance, liberating itself from the parasitic layer of financial sharks and speculators who were presented as its champions under the pretext of ‘deregulation', ‘limiting the state', and the primacy of private interests over ‘public interests' etc. To hear them speak, it's not capitalism that could collapse, but a particular form of capitalism.

ICC internal debate: The causes of the post-war economic boom

In International Review n°133 we began the publication of a debate within the ICC on the underlying causes of the period of post-war prosperity during the 1950s-60s, which has proven to be an exceptional one in the history of capitalism since World War I. In that article, we posed the terms and framework of the debate, and presented briefly the main positions around which it has turned. We are publishing below a new contribution to the discussion.

This contribution supports the thesis presented in n°133 under the title "Keynesian-Fordist state capitalism", and attributes the creation of solvent demand during the post-war boom essentially to the Keynesian mechanisms set up by the bourgeoisie.

In future issues of the Review we will publish articles presenting the other positions in the debate, as well as a reply to this position in particular as regards the nature of capitalist accumulation and the factors determining capitalism's entry into its decadent phase.


The Indian boom: Illusion and reality

The Indian part of the world capitalist economy is growing in a dazzling manner, the world and Indian bourgeoisie and its scholars tell us. There is of course some reality behind this dazzling glow. But what is the Indian economic "miracle" really based on and what does it mean for the working class?

Capitalist Economy: Is there a way out of the crisis? (part 2)

In the first part of this article (see WR 315 and the ICC website), we tried to understand what the current economic crisis represents. We saw that it was only a particularly serious episode in the long agony of decadent capitalism. We showed that, in order to survive, capitalism has had to resort to a kind of drug: debt to capitalism is what heroin is to an addict.

All wage labour is exploitation

After a six-year campaign the TUC and the CBI, with government prompting, have recently agreed that 1.4 million temporary and agency workers should, after 12 weeks, have equal rights with full-time and permanent workers. Dave Prentis, the TUC President, said that "This is good news for agency workers, particularly those in workplaces where low pay, long hours and exploitation are the norm"...

Capitalist Economy: Is there a way out of the crisis? (part 1)

Since August 2007, with the collapse of the ‘sub-prime' loans, we have seen further convulsions in the world capitalist economy. Bad news is followed by worse news: rates of inflation are spiralling (in the USA, 2007 was the worst year since 1990); unemployment is rising; the banks have announced billion dollar losses, the stock exchanges have gone down and down; the indicators for growth in 2008 have been revised downwards several times....

Internal debate: the causes of the post-1945 economic boom

In spring 2005, the ICC launched an internal debate focused on the underlying causes of the economic boom that followed World War II, a period which remains an outstanding exception within the history of capitalism's decadence, achieving spectacular and then historically unprecedented overall growth rates for the world economy. The purpose of this article is to introduce briefly the framework of the debate as well as the main positions that have so far been adopted within it.

The sources, contradictions and limitations of the growth in Eastern Asia

Up to now capitalism has shown a conspicuous inability to develop the countries where two-thirds of humanity live. Now, with the incredible economic growth in India and China - and throughout East Asia generally - we hear it shouted from the roof tops that from henceforth it will be able to develop more than half the world and that it would be able to go even further if only all the constraints imposed on it were to be eliminated. If wages and working conditions were to be levelled down to those obtaining in China, it is claimed, then growth in the West would also rise to 10% a year.

This raises theoretical and ideological questions of great importance: does the development in East Asia represent a renewal of capitalism or is it no more than a stray occurrence in its on-going crisis? To answer this question we will consider the phenomenon throughout the whole of the sub-continent, though we will examine China more closely as it is the most publicised and the most representative example.

Profit rates and capitalist decadence - reply to the CWO

The first part of this article, published in the previous issue of the International Review, showed that the CWO's theory of the role of war in capitalism's decadence has little enough to do with the marxism of Marx. In this article, we will go on to show that it has equally little to do with empirical reality.

“International Conference of revolutionary Marxism” in Korea

In October 2006, the Korean group "Socialist Political Alliance" called a conference in the towns of Seoul and Ulsan under the title "International Conference of revolutionary Marxism" , with the explicit purpose of reinforcing the presence of Left Communist positions within the Korean working class and its political minorities.

The conference in Korea was the first of its kind in the history of the workers' movement of that country and indeed in the whole of East Asia. That such a conference should be called today, in a country still divided by the consequences of the imperialist war launched more than 50 years ago, is an event of the greatest importance. It opens a perspective for the development of the international unity of the workers' movement between East and West for the first time since the brief experience of the Third International. However modestly, it heralds the appearance on the historical stage of the proletariat of the East.

War in the decadence of capitalism - introduction to the series

Our organisation has undertaken a series of articles on the marxist concept of the decadence of a mode of production, and more particularly of the decadence of the capitalist mode of production. This series is demanded by the need to reaffirm and develop the basic marxist analysis of the evolution of human societies, which is the basis for understanding the possibility and necessity of communism. It also aims to defend the thesis that war under decadent capitalism is essentially an irrational phenomenon in relation to the overall needs of human society.


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