SPGB crisis-theory

January 2021

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    Within quotation marks below is from Michael Roberts’ review of The Economics of Military Spending: A Marxist perspective – by Adem Yavuz Elveren, Routledge, 2019.

    ‘Chapters 4 and 5 are excellent surveys of various Marxist theories of crises from underconsumption, profit squeeze and the Marx’s law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall.  He expertly handles Luxemburg’s view on imperialism and military spending, as well as the Baran-Sweezy thesis of military spending compensating for a stagnating monopoly capitalism – and the so-called ‘permanent arms’ economy idea promoted by Michael Kidron in the post-war period, that capitalism can avoid crises by milex.  If the reader wants to gain knowledge of all these theories of milex and crises without verbiage and confusion, he or she can do no better than read Elveren here.’

    (end of quotation)
    The boom/slump or crises theories with which I have a passing acquaintance are these:
    1) Tendency for the Rate of Profit to Fall
    2) Underconsumption
    3) 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’ ( ie not necessarily Depts 1 and 2 like with the above ). The SPGBs.
    4) Class-struggle (–> profit-squeeze)
    I wonder if (3b) gets any mention in the book. When Stewart conducted his interview with Kliman, I seem to recall that Kliman answered in a polite but dismissive way.
    I say ‘seem to recall’ because I can’t find the interview. Nor can I find his interview with Mattick (in which Mattick was asked about Harvey). Can someone tell me in which issues of SS these good interviews appeared?

    I hope what I just posted is readable. The spaces I put between paragraphs all vanished. I see no editing function to make use of. (Unlike on the old forum, I think.)


    Appears alright on my browser. The interview with Paul Mattick Jnr was in the October 2011 Socialist Standard and the one with Andrew Kliman in April 2014.

    Sounds interesting. I wonder how the author handles the contradiction in Rosa Luxemburg between her mistaken theory of capital accumulation and how military spending supposedly helps capitalism from collapsing.

    The trouble with Michael Roberts is that he stands for nationalisation of the banks and thinks that this has something to do with socialism.

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