1980s >> 1982 >> no-935-july-1982

50 Years Ago: It has all happened before

It is usual to hear the present crisis spoken of as being unique. It is explained as being due to reparations and war debt problems, the hoarding of gold by Central Banks, the failure of creditor countries to lend to debtor countries, and again in the same quarters as being caused by over-borrowing by debtor countries. Economic nationalism and the raising of tariff barriers are blamed to a greater or less extent. Finally, every explanation involves a reference to the stultifying effects on business of the fall in prices. The explanations are as numerous as the suggested remedies, of which the most popular are those which aim at raising the price level through manipulation of the currency. In this group of proposals fall the suggestions for the introduction of bimetallism, managed paper currencies, and international monetary conferences. Only a slight knowledge of economic development during the past century is necessary to show that far from being a unique phenomenon, the present crisis is of the same kind as those of the past, and that the so-called “explanations” only repeat the explanations put forward by the men who lived through the crises of the nineteenth century. Further, the remedies now proposed merely represent a refurbishing of old ideas.

From an article “The Capitalist Never Learns-Bewildered by Every Crisis“. Socialist Standard, July 1932.