Mattick and two others discuss

February 2024 Forums Events and announcements Mattick and two others discuss

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    A 1-hour 24-minute discussion, held on May 29, between Mattick jnr and two frequent contributors to Field Notes, T Smith and J Merchant:

    The title is ‘Money and Capital in the 21st Century’.

    (There will be a period of audio distortion, but it will clear up sometime before the 30 min mark.)


    I’m going to wait for a long car journey before listening to this.


    Finally got round to listening to this, till the end (I wonder how many do to a discussion lasting that long). It was disappointing.

    Trends in world capitalism were discussed such as the retreat from “neo-liberalism” back to a degree of economic nationalism, as instanced by the US’s ridiculously named Inflation Reduction Act (as if inflation could be reduced by legislation). This Act and the policy behind it was seen as aimed at doing down not just China, but also Germany and South Korea. More trade wars were predicted.

    The recent rise in the price level everywhere and the attempt to combat it by raising interest rates was also discussed. This wouldn’t work but would kill off hundreds of “zombie capitalist” firms (firms which survived by making only enough profit to pay their interest commitments). The massive amounts of central bank money created by quantitative easing together with low interest rates had just led to a huge rise in the price of financial assets.

    There was some loose talk about this money having been created “out of thin air” not just by central banks (true enough) but also by private banks (not true or possible).

    Mattick revived the theory that most of this money didn’t go into productive investment as the rate of profit from this was not high enough and so went into financial speculation. In fact he thought that capitalism would not be able to escape from its current contradictions which would end in its not too distant collapse into a 1930s type depression and/or a world war.

    It was mentioned that Mattick has a book called “The Return of Inflation” coming out in September. We will need to get a review copy to see if and how he elaborates on this.

    The Return of Inflation

    The low point came when a questioner asked what the panel thought was the alternative to financialized capitalism. In introducing it, the moderator said it might take 4 hours to answer. Actually they took only 4 seconds with Mattick saying “communism, anarchism, socialism” without going into detail and they moved on to the next question.

    What they could and should have said (if they believed it, as there is evidence that Mattick does) was a world in which finance and money would be redundant because there would be common ownership of resources and production directly to meet people’s needs. I’m guessing that they didn’t for fear of being mocked, as we have been here, for proposing something most people think is unrealistic.


    I don’t know the degree of overlap with that discussion on youtube (which I was unable to steel myself to actually listen to in whole) but:

    An article in the current Brooklyn Rail (section Field Notes) ‘The Economic Consequences of Neo-Keynesianism’ by one of those discussants, Jamie Merchant, is introduced by Mattick Jr so:

    ‘For an outstanding study of capitalism’s current predicament, readers can look forward to the publication in 2024 of Jamie Merchant’s synthesis of economic information and analysis, ‘Endgame: Economic Nationalism and Global Decline’, to be published by Reaktion in the Field Notes series. The article that follows, meanwhile, provides an invaluable account of the most recent state of political-economic play.’

    The Jamie Merchant article is at:

    And the article of which it is to a certain extent a critique, ‘Seven Theses on American Politics’ by Dylan Riley and Robert Brenner, is here: .

    The Jamie Merchant has a big footnote about Brenner, beginning: ‘In this respect, Brenner’s more recent output represents a methodological regression compared to his earlier, path-breaking work on agrarian capitalism.’

    And in the text of the article itself he says at one point of [Dylan/]Brenner:

    ”[…] With only vague allusions to the economic forces behind all this, political capitalism [referring to Brennerism] is basically indistinguishable from banal libertarian whining about “crony capitalism,” which is based on a similar claim that government corruption erodes the basis for the capitalist economy to function. Both views elide the system’s dependence on profits extracted from the exploitation of labor, which, pace Brenner, is still the basic foundation of the economic system.’

    • This reply was modified 7 months, 1 week ago by ZJW.

    Dylan Riley gets a mention in this month’s Socialist Standard in this article:

    Cooking the Books 2 – Was Marx really a reformist?

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