Marxism and theory of crises

Economics and learning from the facts

Martin Thomas’s book Crisis and Sequels: Capitalism and the New Economic Turmoil since 2007 is constructed around 32 interviews, discussions, and debates with left wing economists and other thinkers. It takes the reader; mostly chronologically, along the timeline from the immediate aftermath of the crash itself in 2007-8 across the next decade, up to 2016. Thomas offers a substantial introduction, with overviews of the debates that take place across the book between the various contributors and himself. Issues in debate centre around Marx’s “tendency of the rate of profit to fall”, US hegemony...

Luxemburg, economics, crises, and the national question

This article seeks to review and reflect on the two volumes of Rosa Luxemburg's Complete Works published so far. Only a scattering - a much thicker scattering since the 1970s, but still a scattering - of Luxemburg's writings have been available in English until now. Since the 1970s there has been a "Collected Works" in German. Even that misses out a lot. The new Complete Works, edited by Peter Hudis, will be fourteen volumes. As Hudis explained in an article in Solidarity 356 (11/3/15: bit.ly/hudis-rl), "given the amount of time, care, and attention that she gave to developing her major...

Take over the banks!

Five years ago, the demand for the public ownership of the banks was the preserve of a small minority of socialists. Today it follows logically from the exposed venality of the banking system. There have now been three waves of banking failure in the recent past. Socialists should use these events to argue relentlessly for state ownership and democratic control of the banking system. First the advent of neoliberalism from the 1970s was premised on the renewed role of finance capital. Finance capital became in Lenin’s words “the typical ruler of the world”. It was “a power that is peculiarly...

Socialists and crises

Recent capitalist history has thrown up sharper economic declines and higher levels of unemployment than the ones we are currently witnessing in Greece and Spain. It’s just that they haven’t occurred in nice Mediterranean countries that Britons visit for beach holidays and long weekends. So while the latest estimates from the local central bank suggest that Greek GDP will fall 5% in 2012, marking a cumulative drop of 13% since 2008, it remains true that the Asian financial crisis of 15 years or so ago was far worse. GDP plunged 13% in Indonesia in 1998 alone, with reductions of 11% in Thailand...

Marxist insights on crisis

A particularly interesting session at the Historical Materialism conference in London on 10-13 November 2011 heard four contributions on Marxist theories of crisis and the current crisis. These are the abstracts supplied by three of the presenters. Michel Husson: Towards a chaotic regulation The period opened up by the crisis is leading to a “chaotic regulation” of the capitalist world economy. There is a kind of regulation, since capitalism does not collapse and continues to operate. But this regulation is chaotic because of a fundamental contradiction: capitalism is trying to return to...

Lively conference debunks academic economics

Several hundred people attended the annual conference called by Historical Materialism magazine in London on 11-14 November 2010. It showed that there is a wide and lively interest in Marxist ideas among university students and lecturers. One centrepiece was Ben Fine and Dimitrios Milonakis speaking in a Friday evening plenary on their book From Economics Imperialism to Freakonomics: The Shifting Boundaries between Economics and other Social Sciences. It was a vigorous knockabout polemic against mainstream academic economics. That economics is skewed, according to Fine and Milonakis, by two...

Thousands turn out to debate revolution

Not only the scheduled lecture theatre, but also an overflow theatre connected by video link, were crammed full when David Harvey spoke at the London School of Economics on 26 April about his latest book, The Enigma of Capital, a book which analyses the current crisis and concludes with a call for "revolution" to "dispossess" the capitalist class. And that was only one of four meetings which Harvey was doing about the book on his visit to London. Harvey has been an eminent academic figure in geography since the late 1960s. In the early 1970s he became a Marxist, and started writing a series of...

Packed lecture hall for call to anti-capitalist revolution

Not only the scheduled lecture theatre, but also an overflow theatre connected by video link, were crammed full when David Harvey spoke at the London School of Economics on 26 April about his latest book, The Enigma of Capital, a book which concludes with a call for "revolution" to "dispossess" the...

How economic crises shape politics

The reciprocal relation between boom and crisis in economy and the development of revolution is of great interest to us not only from the point of theory but above all practically. Many of you will recall that Marx and Engels wrote in 1851 – when the boom was at its peak – that it was necessary at that time to recognize that the Revolution of 1848 had terminated, or, at any rate, had been interrupted until the next crisis. Engels wrote that while the crisis of 1847 was the mother of revolution, the boom of 1849-51 was the mother of triumphant counter-revolution. It would, however, be very one...

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