Marxism and theory of crises

Take over the banks!

Submitted by Matthew on 11 July, 2012 - 12:47

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.

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Socialists and crises

Submitted by Matthew on 2 May, 2012 - 7:36

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.

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Marxist insights on crisis

Submitted by martin on 14 November, 2011 - 10:42

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

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Lively conference debunks academic economics

Submitted by martin on 14 November, 2010 - 10:21 Author: Martin Thomas

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.


Submitted by martin on Sun, 14/11/2010 - 23:12

In his summing-up Stathis Kouvelakis made a big deal of Bensaid's allegedly appreciative attitude to Louis Althusser, a philosopher who was one of the leading (though very slightly dissident) intellectual figures of the French Communist Party in the 1960s and also strongly influenced one of the Maoist movements that emerged in France in the 1960s.

Aha, said Kouvelakis, when Bensaid's organisation, the LCR, published a book of polemics against Althusser in 1974, Contre Althusser, Bensaid was the only leading writer of the LCR not to contribute.

And later on Bensaid came to be positively appreciative of Althusser.

This seems to me another attempt to reduce the revolutionary Daniel Bensaid to a Professor Bensaid who of course appreciates the "interesting contribution" of Professor Althusser and would not dream of raising any "sectarian" disputes about Stalinism.

It is not true. Bensaid contributed to Contre Althusser. (And, as it happens, many leading writers of the LCR at the time did not).

The second, 1999, edition of the book omits Bensaid's article from the first edition, on the grounds it was too ephemeral, and includes instead a new article by him, prefaced by reminiscences by Bensaid on how, as a young student, in winter 1965-6, he studied Althusser and "decidedly" rejected his ideas - and does not regret that!

The tone of Bensaid's comments in 1999 is more laid-back than that of the 1974 book. Althusser had died in 1990, and had been a recluse (much of the time in a mental hospital) since 1980; and had been somewhat critical of the CP in 1978.

But in his acknowledged major work, Marx l'intempestif or Marx for our times, discussing many themes of Marxist philosophy, Bensaid mentioned Althusser substantively only once, and then scathingly.

By the way, Bensaid definitely did not see the fall of Stalinism in Europe as a "terrible catastrophe" (as Kouvelakis does). He wrote explicitly that the fall was "not to be regretted - quite the contrary".

Kouvelakis himself quoted Bensaid's quip that Marxists should celebrate the fall of the Berlin wall with champagne and alka-seltzer. Not what you'd drink to mark a "terrible catastrophe".

Submitted by AWL on Fri, 19/11/2010 - 22:58

...that he only fights the class struggle on one front (the ideological)?

Even if everything he says on that front of struggle (I don't know anything like enough about him to make a judgment there) is 100% correct, doesn't the fact that he has very little at all to say about struggles on the other fronts make him, at best, limited?

When was the last time Zizek had anything to say about, or anything to do with, a strike? (Genuine question.)


Daniel Randall

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Thousands turn out to debate revolution

Submitted by martin on 27 April, 2010 - 7:11 Author: Martin Thomas

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.

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Packed lecture hall for call to anti-capitalist revolution

Submitted by martin on Mon, 26/04/2010 - 23:26

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 capitalist class.

How economic crises shape politics

Submitted by AWL on 9 July, 2009 - 6:16 Author: Leon Trotsky

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.

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The thesis of "ruinous competition"

Submitted by martin on 21 April, 2009 - 8:24 Author: Martin Thomas

1 - Ruinous competition

The first service of Robert Brenner's book-length study of The Economics of Global Turbulence (New Left Review no.229) is a demolition of the myth of unparallelled US prosperity in the 1990s. Output, investment, and productivity all grew unusually slowly for a boom phase in the regular boom-slump cycle. Wages mostly stagnated. The limited advances in profit rates, and their exaggerated reflection in the gaudy rise of the stock market, were only the flipside of a punishing war against labour, described well by Brenner.

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