Jan 2022 SS: Reading Capital as Crisis Theory: Part 1

January 2022 Forums Socialist Standard Feedback Jan 2022 SS: Reading Capital as Crisis Theory: Part 1

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    It is to be hoped that in part II, the writer will succinctly advance a crisis-theory and judgmentally compare/contrast it with one or more of the others that are on tap, among which figure:

    1) Tendency for the Rate of Profit to Fall. (Especially as advanced by Mattick Jnr)

    2) Disproportionality:

    a) specifically, ‘imbalance between production of means of production and production of consumer goods and services’

    b) generally, ‘disproportionate growth between different sectors of the economy’, not necessarily Depts 1 and 2. (SPGB general but not official view?)

    3) Class-struggle (–> profit-squeeze)

    4) Underconsumption and or eclectic/mixed. (Harvey? Heinrich??)


    Thanks for your comment.  As you’ll see with Part 2, the theory of crisis I present is centered on the tendency for the profit rate to fall, but it is not simply the fall in the profit rate but the string of unexpected consequences (for capital) that this unleashes. And the tendency cannot be separated from the overall examination of the (normal) accumulation process of capital. But this is also a profit squeeze theory in a way, in that the competitive struggle between capitals that heats up as the profit rate falls (and the minimum level of capital investment steadily rises), drives up demand for labor power so that wages rise, and this drives down the profit rate even further, to the point where there is an “overproduction of capital” (= some capital invested will not be able to obtain sufficient profit to continue to augment). My article has something of a critique of underconsumption because I point out how the limited consumption of workers is hardwired into the system. I also note how the process of accumulation is uneven, as certain sectors lead the way of expansion, but I did not critique crisis theories centered on disproportion. I think it is important to not be too obsessed with finding the primary cause of crisis, as if capitalism had some achilles heel. I think instead it is necessary to look at the contradictions of the normal process of capital accumulation to understand how capitalism ultimately is a barrier to itself (although it continually pushes beyond that barrier and temporarily succeeds in so doing). Anyway, maybe my view falls into the eclectic category because it combines elements of the different theories you mentioned.

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