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Georg Grosz, Hochverräter / High Treasoners / Grands traîtres / Hoogverraders
Quelle: Das Gesicht der herrschenden Klasse & Abrechnung folgt! / Georg Grosz. – Amsterdam : Van Gennep, 1973. – (Originalausgabe: Frankfurt am Main : Makol Verlag, 1972)


de | Thema: Theorien über kapitalistischer Krisen und Imperialismus
en |Theme: Theories on Capitalist Crises and Imperialism
fr | Théma: Théories sur des crises capitalistes et impérialisme
nl | Thema: Theorieën over kapitalistische crises en imperialisme


Introduction

“Theories on Capitalist Crises and Imperialism” is a vast subject, of which only a small part (much to be extended) can be given here. Basicly, two theories have been advanced: one on the saturation of the world market, and the other on the falling rate of profit; both predicted a catastrophic collapse of capitalism. Although both theories were utterly false, they might lead to a new approach, based on new, further historic experience. Both were partial and also immature responses to real problems posed.

Capitalist crises and imperialism can be studied seperately in a limited sense only; in order to understand the whole question they need to be integrated into a broader outlook.


The Third International

On the First Congress of the III International it was proclaimed that capitalism was, in somewhat ambiguous wordings (a “compromise” between the Russian and the German Left, with different outlooks on fundamental questions), in its “death crisis”:

“The present period is that of the decomposition and collapse of the entire world capitalist system, and will be that of the collapse of European civilisation in general if capitalism, with its unsurmountable contradictions, is not overthrown.”
(Theses, Resolutions and Manifestos of the First Four Congresses of the Third International. – London : Ink Links, 1980. – p. 1)

Anton Pannekoek, in 1920, adhered to the argument, as he wrote:

“Wat betekent dit alles? De Amerikaanse bankier Warburg heeft het aldus gezegd: Europa is bankroet. Hij spreekt als een kapitalist, voor wie het bankroet gaan van een collega iets heel gewoons is, waarbij het stelsel blijft; hier is het erger; het kapitalisme is bankroet. Niet in de afgezaagde zin, dat het innerlijk niet soliede is en eenmaal te gronde moet gaan, maar in de letterlijke zin; het kapitalisme als economisch stelsel staat voor zijn ineenstorting.”

A ambiguity remained whether or not this applied to Europe alone, or to the whole planet.

At the Third Congress in 1921 this all too easy theory of collapse of a whole continent was abandoned and replaced by the idea that capitalism had gotten into a downward period, as expressed by Trotsky in a somewhat mind-boggling reasoning (and it was not specified whether this only applied to Europe or to the planet as a whole):

„Der Aufstieg, der Niedergang oder die Stagnation – auf dieser Linie hat man die Fluktuation, das heißt die bessere Konjunktur, die Krise –, die sagen uns nichts davon, ob der Kapitalismus sich entwickelt oder ob er niedergeht. Diese Fluktuation ist das gleiche wie das Herzschlagen bei dem lebenden Menschen. Das Herzschlagen beweist nur, daß er lebt. Selbstverständlich ist der Kapitalismus noch nicht tot, und weil er lebt, so muß er eben einatmen und ausatmen, das heißt, es muß die Fluktuation vor sich gehen. Aber wie bei einem sterbenden Menschen das Ein- und Ausatmen anders ist als bei einem sich aufwärts entwickelnden Individuum, so auch hier.“
( Protokoll des III. Kongresses der Kommunistische Internationale, S. 73, see there for further)

Here we will try to follow the debates, and, in time, to draw some conclusions.


Rosa Luxemburg

Although Rosa Luxemburg launched a theoretical false thesis (capitalism would not be able to survive without opening up ever new extra-capitalist markets) (1); she did have a very serious argument about the restrictions given by the constitution of the world-market. Other than she thougt, capitalist depressions are not caused by the saturation of markets; these are a consequence. However, the extra-economic fact that the world is round, does give a limit to capitalist expansion, about which the later Anton Pannekoek wrote:

“But the earth is a globe, of limited extent. The discovery of its finite size accompanied the rise of capitalism four centuries ago, the realization of its finite size now marks the end of capitalism.”
(The Workers’ Councils, see further on)

If the world would have been flat and infinite in all directions (the argument seriously surfaced in France, 1968), there would have been some more room, but when the centres start to lose profitability; the extension cannot compensate for it in the long turn (this also gives way to a whole discussion about the mass of profits compensating for the falling rate of profit). Great markets on the Moon and Mars (which has also been put forward as a solution, also in France, 1968) cannot be expected neither; so there is a serious problem; yet somewhat different than Rosa Luxemburg expected. The 1968 arguments, however interesting they are, have not yet been documented (most probably they came from “situationists” and later “communisators”).

Once the world was divided between capitalist nations towards the end of the 19th Century (firing power was much more decisive than trade, although low prices are compelling arguments), it can only be redivided through wars; bringing ever less expansion of capitalism, but mostly destruction.

Yet another distinction needs to be made: when the world market is divided by capitalist enterprises and nations, this does not imply by any means that the whole of the world population is integrated into capitalism through generalised wage labour; if fact, the great majority is not.

And a world market for merchandises does not imply a world market for investments to be made, something which came much later, and which, moreover, was much hampered by imperialism, particularly in the form of local autarkic  regions.

Rosa Luxemburg Rosa Luxemburg; source: a.a.a.p..

Wikipedia
ar | روزا لوكسمبورغ 
de | Rosa Luxemburg 
en | Rosa Luxemburg 
es | Rosa Luxemburg 
fr | Rosa Luxemburg 
gl | Rosa Luxemburg 
hi | रोज़ा लुक्सेम्बुर्ग 
nl | Rosa Luxemburg 
pl | Rosa Luxemburg 
ur | روزا لکسمبرگ 
zh | 羅莎·盧森堡 
For over a hundred more languages, see the Polish version; here name is known all over the planet, yet her works were hardly translated, and even less read.

marxists.org
de | Rosa Luxemburg 
en |  Rosa Luxemburg
Other languages |  Rosa Luxemburg Archive  (Cross Language Section)

de | Ökonomische Werke / Rosa Luxemburg. – Berlin [Ost] : Dietz Verlag, 1975. – 807 p. – (Gesammelte Werke ; Band 5)
Contains:

en | The Accumulation of Capital  / Rosa Luxemburg, translated from German by Agnes Schwarzschild, with a [highly uncritical] introduction by Joan Robinson. – London : Routledge and Kegan Paul LTD, 1951. – 475 p. – (Reprinted 1963, 1971)

fr | L’accumulation du capital  (marxists.org; a source is not given, but it is from the following edition:)

fr | L’accumulation du capital  / Paris : François Maspero, 1969. – (Œvres, two volumes, downloadable in Word, pdf and rtf)

fr | L’accumulation du capital  / Rosa Luxemburg.– [Marseille] : Agone/Smolny, 2019. – 768 p.
A new translation with new annotations

de | Programm der Kommunistischen Arbeiter-Partei Deutschlands. – Berlin : Kommunistische Arbeiter-Partei Deutschlands, Geschäftführender Hauptaussschuß, Januar 1924. – 47 S.


Владимир Ильич Ульянов (Lenin)

Владимир Ильич Ульянов (Lenin) made a substantiel contribution in 1915-1916 on imperialism, although he never studied Marx’ Capital and did not express himself on the further questions elaborated here. We only give references here to marxist.org, where he is remarkably absent in French and Spanish.

de | Vorwort zu N. Bucharin: Imperialismus und Weltwirtschaft 
en | Preface to N. Bukharin’s Pamphlet, Imperialism and the World Economy 

de | Der Imperialismus und die Spaltung des Sozialismus 
en | Imperialism and the Split in Socialism 
it | L'imperialismo e la scissione del socialismo 

de | Der Imperialismus als höchstes Stadium des Kapitalismus 
en | Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism 
it | L'imperialismo, Fase suprema del capitalismo 
nl | Het imperialisme als hoogste stadium van het kapitalisme 


The K.A.P.D.

Tampon KAPD Official stamp of the k.a.p.d., 1920-1921; source: collection Ph.B., a further source is not given.

„Die aus dem Weltkriege geborene Weltwirtschaftskrise mit ihren ungeheuerlichen ökonomischen und sozialen Auswirkungen, deren Gesamtbild den niederschmetternden Eindruck eines einzigen Trümmerfeldes von kolossalem Ausmaß ergibt, besagt nichts anderes, als daß die Götterdämmerung (a) der bürgerlich-kapitalistischen Weltordnung angebrochen ist (b). Nicht um eine der in periodischem Ablauf eintretenden, der kapitalistischen Produktionsweise eigentümlichen Wirtschaftskrisen handelt es sich heute, es ist die Krise des Kapitalismus selbst, was unter krampfhaften Erschütterungen des gesamten sozialen Organismus, was unter dem furchtbarsten Zusammenprall der Klassengegensätze von noch nicht dagewesener Schärfe, was als Massenelend innerhalb der breitesten Volksschichten als das Menetekel (c) der bürgerlichen Gesellschaft sich ankündigt (d). Immer deutlicher zeigt sich, daß der sich von Tag zu Tag noch verschärfende Gegensatz zwischen Ausbeutern und Ausgebeuteten, daß der auch den bisher indifferenten Schichten des Proletariats immer klarer bewußt werdende Widerspruch zwischen Kapital und Arbeit innerhalb des kapitalistischen Wirtschaftssystems nicht gelöst werden kann (e). Der Kapitalismus hat sein vollständiges Fiasko erlebt, er hat im imperialistischen Raubkriege sich selbst historisch widerlegt, er hat ein Chaos geschaffen, dessen unerträgliche Fortdauer das internationale Proletariat vor die welthistorische Alternative stellt: Rückfall in die Barbarei oder Aufbau einer sozialistischen Welt (f).“

(Programm der Kommunistischen Arbeiter-Partei Deutschlands, 1920, fragment)


a. Götterdämmerung , net als Kladderadatsch , een veel misbruikt woord; de laatste voor het eerst door August Bebel , in de Duitse Reichstag, in ironische zin.

b. De Eerste Wereldoorlog kan alleen worden verklaard uit de toename van de “geo-strategische”, imperialistische tegenstellingen die ontstonden toen de planeet in grote lijnen was verdeeld tussen de grootmachten, en niet als gevolg van een economische crisis. Het waren vooral de parasitaire koloniale aristocratieën die elkander wereldwijd bestreden, en waarin de geo-strategisch “anti-kolonialistische” Verenigde Staten van Amerika de doorslag gaven; tussendoor was er ook een conflict tussen Frankrijk en Duitsland over kolen- en ijzerertsmijnen. Sinds 1892 was er juist wereldwijde industriële opgang die een heel andere dynamiek had dan de koloniale, en die slechts werd onderbroken door de beurskrach van Wall Street in 1907 , wat bovendien vooral een Amerikaans verschijnsel bleef, terwijl de erop volgende recessie beperkt bleef in tijd en omvang (hoewel er sinds 1905 in Europa al een stagnatie was). De economische crisis in 1920 was geen gevolg van een “dalende winstvoet” of een “verzadiging van de markten”, maar vooral een direct gevolg van de oorlog, van de vernietiging van productiemiddelen, wat de gebruikelijke economische cyclus verstoorde, en tot een kunstmatige schaarste leidde, en was dus vooral een veralgemeende punctuele, een veeleer vervroegde cyclische, en in zichzelf, zuiver economisch, al helemaal geen structurele crisis, die pas in 1929 begon, 58 jaar na die van 1873. Voor de theorie van de “lange golf”, zie Kondratieffgolf . Een probleem blijft dat dit niet vooraf berekend kan worden; het gaat om speculatieve extrapolaties op grond van twijfelachtige cijfers, niemand weet het vooraf. Het helpt ook een beetje, wanneer Het Kapitaal eindelijk eens wordt gelezen als een “theoretisch model” van een “complex systeem”, in de taal van de “academici”.

c. Mene Tekel ; dat hoort thuis in hetzelfde literaire rijtje als Götterdämmerung en Kladderadatsch, zie boven.

d. Deze crisis nam een ongekende omvang aan, maar werd in de belangrijkste in de oorlog betrokken landen ook vrij gemakkelijk weer overkomen (ondanks 20 miljoen doden, 80 miljoen als we daar de slachtoffers van de “Spaanse griep” bij optellen), voor de bourgeoisie kwamen in de overwinnende landen (maar niet alleen, in Berlijn en elders werd er ook gefeest door sommige mensen) vervolgens de “gay twenties” op gang (vooral door het einde van de oorlogslasten, voor het proletariaat zag het er heel anders uit, net als in de verliezende landen, waarin binnen de bourgeoisie vervolgens fascisme, stalinisme en nationaal-socialisme tot ontwikkeling kwamen) totdat er een daadwerkelijke, cyclische zowel als structurele, zuiver economische, crisis begon in 1929, en die werd opgelost door massale kapitaalvernietiging in de Tweede Wereldoorlog, wat niet het doel was, maar wel het resultaat. Daarover is ook veel te doen geweest, want de bombardementen waren niet gericht op het behalen van industriële voordelen, noch kwamen ze voort uit humanitaire overwegingen; het waren vooral terreurbombardementen, gericht op de burgerbevolking, met een averechts resultaat, want die bevolking wilde overleven.

e. Dat werd het vervolgens toch, door tussenkomst van sociaal-democraten en stalinisten.

f. Een uitdrukking van Rosa Luxemburg ; verder wordt er in deze tekst geen enkel beroep gedaan op haar opvattingen; later wél, vooral door de Essen-tendens.


 Weltkrise und Klassenkampf. – [Berlin] : Verlag der k.a.p.d. [Verlag der k.a.p.d., Berlin NO, Landsbergerstraße 6; Druck: Richard Lantzsch, Berlin S 14], [1920]. – 16 S. – (Kleine Flugschriften der Kommunistischen Arbeiter-Partei Deutschlands ; Nr. 4)

„Die ungeheuerste Krise der kapitalistische Weltwirtschaft ist hereingebrochen. Der Weltkrieg war nur ein Symptom, ein besonders hervorragendes Anzeichen für den Anfang dieses letzten, endgültigen Zusammenbruches.“
Quelle: i.i.s.g. , Amsterdam


 Enwicklungstendenzen im Weltkapitalismus. – In: Proletarier, Zeitschrift für Kommunismus, [Jahrgang 1], 1921, Nr. 9-10
Quelle: i.i.s.g. , Amsterdam


 Die Todeskrise des Kapitalismus. – In: Proletarier, Zeitschrift für Kommunismus, [Jahrgang 2], [1921-1922], [Heft 2], Februar 1922
Quelle: i.i.s.g. , Amsterdam


Anton Pannekoek

Anton Pannekoek Anton Pannekoek in his Berlin period (ca. 1908, private collection)

 Literarische Rundschau (Rudolf Goldscheid, Verelendungs- oder Meliorationstheorie? 1906, Verlag der „Sozialistische Monatshefte“. 54 S.) / A[nton]. Pannekoek. – In: Die Neue Zeit, 25. Jg. (1906-1907), 1. Bd., Nr. 5, 31. Oktober 1906, S. 174-176


Die Ursache der Krisen / A[nton]. P[annekoek].
In: Zeitungskorrespondenz, Nr. 3, 15. Februar 1908
On cyclical crises


 Herrn Tugan-Baranowskys Marx-Kritik [1-3] / Ant[on]. Pannekoek
1. Wie Herr Tugan rechnet
2. Die steigende Profitrate
3. Die Zusammenbruch
In: Die Neue Zeit, 28. Jg. (1909-1910), 1. Bd., Nr. 22, 25. Februar 1910, S. 772-783


Rosa Luxemburg, Die Akkumulation des Kapitals : Ein Beitrag zur ökonomischen Erklärung des Imperialismus / Anton Pannekoek
In: Bremer Bürger-Zeitung, 29-30. Januar 1913, Feuilleton, Nr. 24-25
Reprinted in :  Proletarier, Zeitschrift für Kommunismus, [Jahrgang 2/3?], [1923], [Nr. 2?]
Compare Dutch, De Nieuwe Tijd, 1916

Quelle: i.i.s.g. , Amsterdam


 Theoretisches zur Ursache der Krisen [1-4] / Ant[on]. Pannekoek
1. Die Periodizität der Produktion
2. Die Reproduktion des Kapitals
3. Der Einfluß der einfachen Warenproduktion
4. Die Ursachen des Konjunkturwechsels
In: Die Neue Zeit, 31. Jg. (1912-1913), 1. Bd., Nr. 22, 28 Februar 1913, S. 780-792
On cyclical crises

nl | Een theoretisch vraagstuk over de oorzaak van de crises / Ant[on]. Pannekoek, 2016


 Die Krisen und der Sozialismus / A[nton]. P[annekoek].
In: Zeitungskorrespondenz, Nr. 285, 26. Juli 1913

 De crississen en het socialisme (Ekonomische Kroniek) / A[nton]. P[annekoek].
In: De Tribune, soc[iaal].-dem[ocratisch]. weekblad, 6e jg. (1912-1913), nr. 44 (2 augustus 1913)


 De ekonomische noodzakelijkheid van het imperialisme / A[nton]. Pannekoek
In: De Nieuwe Tijd, 21e Jg. (1916), no. 5 (5 mei), p. 268-285

 De economische noodzakelijkheid van het imperialisme / A[nton]. P[annekoek].
In: De Tribune, Rev[olutionair]. Soc[ialistisch]. Volksblad, 9e Jg. (1915-1916), nr. 73 (10 mei 1916)
“Wij geven hierbij het slot van Pannekoek’s artikel in de “Nieuwe Tijd”.”


 Wereld krisis / Ant[on]. Pannekoek
In: De Nieuwe Tijd, 25e Jg. (1920) nr. 1, p. 7-11

The Universal Crisis / Anton Pannekoek
In: The Call, 5 February 1920 [translated from Esperanto]; original Dutch edition Wereld krisis, in De Nieuwe Tijd, 1920, from there much shortened; a new edition is needed.


de | Die Zusammenbruchstheorie des Kapitalismus
el | Η Θεωρία Κατάρρευσης του Καπιταλισμού
en | The theory of the collapse of capitalism
fr | La théorie de l’écroulement du capitalisme
nl | De ineenstortingstheorie van het kapitalisme
sv | Teorin om kapitalismens sammanbrott


 Anton Pannekoek an Paul Mattick, 10. Dezember 1934:
«Über die Grossmann’sche Sachen war es nicht nötig weiter zu schreiben; ich sah mit Vergnügen, dass Sie in einer späteren Nr. unserer Korrespondenz die Sache von ihrem Standpunkte dargelegt haben, so dass die Leser sich nun selbst weiter ihr Urteil bilden können. Ich habe keine wesentliche Argumente in ihrem Aufsatz gefunden, die meine Ansicht umändern konnten; und offenbar sind Sie auch von meiner Darlegung nicht überzeugt worden. Immerhin, die Hauptsache war für mich eine Warnung, dass man nicht kritiklos die Lehre, dass dies nun die Endkrise sei, annehmen sollte und darauf seine ganze Propaganda gründen.»
«Ich gehe aus von diesem Gedanken: Der Kampf der Massen, der Arbeiterklasse, ist das einzige wesentliche, das wichtigste, auf dem alles ankommt, und aus dem alles fliesst. Sie kommt nicht in Bewegung, wenn wir, oder eine Gruppe, eine Partei ihr sagt: dies ist das Ende, es kommt nie wieder Prosperität; nur Untergang droht; also wehrt euch. Das rührt sie nicht, das hört sie nicht einmal. Eine Klasse macht keine Revolution, weil einige Leute ihr etwas sagen. Sie kommt in Bewegung, wenn sie selbst so tief das Elend fühlt, dass sie kämpfen muss, dabei dann noch gewisse grosse Weltumstände oder Ereignisse mitspielen, die man nicht abwägen sondern nur nachher verstehen kann. Daher wäre eine Theorie der Endkatastrophe für mich nicht sehr wichtig: hochstens für meine persönliche Erwartung, aber nicht für das tatsächliche Geschehen.»
«Eine grosse Partei kommt leicht dazu, zu sagen: folgt mir, und sich als Führer, Herrscher der Klasse zu entwickeln. Wir sind der Meinung, dass nur, indem das Selbsthandeln der Massen als Ziel gesehen, und dazu Aufklärung und Kenntnisse in sie gebracht werden, die Revolution gefördert wird.»
«Wie gut wäre es, wenn die Erfahrung früherer Arbeiterkämpfe klar zusammengestellt, ihnen übermittelt wurde, so der vielen Massenstreiks in Europa, so der ersten Jahren der russischen Revolution, so der Arbeiterkämpfe in Amerika, damit sie Kraft un Schwäche an beiden Seiten, Ursachen von Siegen und Niederlagen daraus erkennen.»
«Es will mir oft nützlicher erscheinen an die junge Arbeitergenerationen heranzukommen mit neuer Propaganda, als zu versuchen, die alten Generationen von Revolutionären von ihren alteingefussenen Vorurteilen zu befreien zu suchen.»


 Anton Pannekoek an Paul Mattick, 22. November 1935:
“Es handelt sich bei dieser Krise um etwas Anders als die vielen früheren; in dieser Wucht und Dauer ist sie, wenn auch keine ‘Endkrise’ doch eine Niedergangskrise, ein Zeichen dass die kapitalistische Ökonomie in unertrennbaren Niedergang gerät. Sie wissen, dass ich den Grossmann’schen Versuch, die Notwendigkeit einer Endkrise zu beweisen, für völlig verfehlt halte. So einfach ist die Sache nicht, dass ein simples Rechnungsbeispiel eine innere Unmöglichkeit des Weiterbestehens beweisen könne. In diesem Versuch ist Rosa gescheitert, und Grossmann ebenso; es lässt sich eben so nicht beweisen, weil mit Rechnungsbeispielen nur hervortritt, dass der Kapitalismus gleichsam ewig bestehen kann. Der notwendige Untergang liegt in den sekundären Faktoren, in die Trägheit des immer wieder Anpassens auf neuer Grundlage, die schliesslich infolge der steigenden clumsiness und Riesenhaftigkeit der Organisation die ganze Anpassung nahezu unmöglich, d.h. erst nach schwerster Depression so wie so möglich macht. Marx’ Theorie der Widersprüche in dem Fallen der Profitrate gibt die Grundlage, aber sie muss wohl sehr auf den modernen Weltproduktionsapparat erweitert werden.”


From The Workers’ Councils, 1950 (1947)

Source: The Workers’ Councils / Anton Pannekoek

Part 1. The Task

1. Labor

In the present and coming times, now that Europe is devastated and mankind is impoverished by world war, it impends upon the workers of the world to organise industry, in order to free themselves from want and exploitation. It will be their task to take into their own hands the management of the production of goods. To accomplish this great and difficult work, it will be necessary to fully recognise the present character of labor. The better their knowledge of society and of the position of labor in it, the less difficulties, disappointments and setbacks they will encounter in this striving.

The basis of society is the production of all goods necessary to life. This production, for the most important part, takes place by means of highly developed technics in large factories and plants by complicated machines. This development of technics, from small tools that could be handled by one man, to big machines handled by large collectives of workers of different kind, took place in the last centuries. Though small tools are still used as accessories, and small shops are still numerous, they hardly play a role in the bulk of the production.

Each factory is an organisation carefully adapted to its aims; an organisation of dead as well as of living forces, of instruments and workers. The forms and the character of this organisation are determined by the aims it has to serve. What are these aims?

In the present time, production is dominated by capital. The capitalist, possessor of money, founded the factory, bought the machines and the raw materials, hires the workers and makes them produce goods that can be sold. That is, he buys the labor power of the workers, to be spent in their daily task, and he pays to them its value, the wages by which they can procure what they need to live and to continually restore their labor power. The value a worker creates in his daily work in adding it to the value of the raw materials, is larger than what he needs for his living and receives for his labor power. The difference that the capitalist gets in his hands when the product is sold, the surplus-value, forms his profit, which in so far as it is not consumed, is accumulated into new capital. The labor power of the working class thus may be compared with an ore mine, that in exploitation gives out a produce exceeding the cost bestowed on it. Hence the term exploitation of labor by capital. Capital itself is the product of labor; its bulk is accumulated surplus-value.

Capital is master of production; it has the factory, the machines, the produced goods; the workers work at its command; its aims dominate the work and determine the character of the organisation. The aim of capital is to make profit. The capitalist is not driven by the desire to provide his fellow-men with the necessities of life; he is driven by the necessity of making money. If he has a shoe factory he is not animated by compassion for the painful feet of other people; he is animated by the knowledge that his enterprise must yield profit and that he will go bankrupt if his profits are insufficient. Of course, the normal way to make profit is to produce goods that can be sold at a good price, and they can be sold, normally, only when they are necessary and practical consumption-goods for the buyers. So the shoe-maker, to produce profits for himself, has to produce well-fitting shoes, better or cheaper shoes than others make. Thus, normally, capitalist production succeeds in what should be the aim of production, to provide mankind with its life necessities. But the many cases, where it is more profitable to produce superfluous luxuries for the rich or trash for the poor, or to sell the whole plant to a competitor who may close it, show that the primary object of present production is profit for the capital.

This object determines the character of the organisation of the work in the shop. First it establishes the command by one absolute master. If he is the owner himself, he has to take care that he does not lose his capital; on the contrary he must increase it. His interest dominates the work; the workers are his “hands,” and they have to obey. It determines his part and his function in the work. Should the workers complain of their long hours and fatiguing work, he points to his task and his solicitudes that keep him busy till late in the night after they have gone home without concerning themselves any more. He forgets to tell, what he hardly understands himself, that all his often strenuous work, all his worry that keeps him awake at night, serves only the profit, not the production itself. It deals with the problems of how to sell his products, how to outrival his competitors, how to bring the largest possible part of the total surplus-value into his own coffers. His work is not a productive work; his exertions in fighting his competitors are useless for society. But he is the master and his aims direct the shop.

If he is an appointed director he knows that he is appointed to produce profit for the shareholders. If he does not manage to do so, he is dismissed and replaced by another man. Of course, he must be a good expert, he must understand the technics of his branch, to be able to direct the work of production. But still more he must be expert in profit-making. In the first place he must understand the technics of increasing the net-profit, by finding out how to produce at least cost, how to sell with most success and how to beat his rivals. This every director knows. It determines the management of business. It also determines the organisation within the shop.

The organisation of the production within the shop is conducted along two lines, of technical and of commercial organisation. The rapid development of technics in the last century, based upon a wonderful growth of science, has improved the methods of work in every branch. Better technics is the best weapon in competition, because it secures extra profit at the cost of the rivals. This development increased the productivity of labor, it made the goods for use and consumption cheaper, more abundant and more varied, it increased the means of comfort, and, by lowering the cost of living, i.e., the value of labor power, enormously raised the profit of capital. This high stage of technical development brought into the factory a rapidly increasing number of experts, engineers, chemists, physicists, well versed by their training at universities and laboratories in science. They are necessary to direct the intricate technical processes, and to improve them by regular application of new scientific discoveries. Under their supervision act skilled technicians and workers. So the technical organisation shows a carefully regulated collaboration of various kinds of workers, a small number of university-trained specialists, a larger number of qualified professionals and skilled workers, besides a great mass of unskilled workers to do the manual work. Their combined efforts are needed to run the machines and to produce the goods.

The commercial organisation has to conduct the sale of the product. It studies markets and prices, it advertises, it trains agents to stimulate buying. It includes the so-called scientific management, to cut down costs by distributing men and means; it devises incentives to stimulate the workers to more strenuous efforts; it turns advertising into a kind of science taught even at universities. It is not less, it is even more important than technics to the capitalist masters; it is the chief weapon in their mutual fight. From the view-point of providing society with its life necessities, however, it is an entirely useless waste of capacities.

But also the forms of technical organisation are determined by the same motive of profit. Hence the strict limitation of the better paid scientific experts to a small number, combined with a mass of cheap unskilled labor. Hence the structure of society at large, with its low pay and poor education for the masses, with its higher pay – so much as higher education demands for the constant filling of the ranks – for a scientifically trained minority.

These technical officials have not only the care of the technical processes of production. Under capitalism they have also to act as taskmasters of the workers. Because under capitalism production of goods is inseparably connected with production of profit, both being one and the same action, the two characters of the shop-officials, of a scientific leader of production and of a commanding helper of exploitation, are intimately combined. So their position is ambiguous. On the one hand they are the collaborators of the manual workers, by their scientific knowledge directing the process of transformation of the materials, by their skill increasing the profits; they also are exploited by capital. On the other hand they are the underlings of capital, appointed to hustle the workers and to assist the capitalist in exploiting them.

It may seem that not everywhere the workers are thus exploited by capital. In public-utility enterprises, for instance, or in co-operative factories. Even if we leave aside the fact that the former, by their profit, often must contribute to the public funds, thus relieving the taxes of the propertied class, the difference with other business is not essential. As a rule co-operatives have to compete with private enterprises; and public utilities are controlled by the capitalist public by attentive criticism. The usually borrowed capital needed in the business demands its interest, out of the profits. As in other enterprises there is the personal command of a director and the forcing up of the tempo of the work. There is the same exploitation as in every capitalist enterprise. There may be a difference in degree; part of what otherwise is profit may be used to increase the wages and to improve the conditions of labor. But a limit is soon reached. In this respect they may be compared with private model enterprises where sensible broad-minded directors try to attach the workers by better treatment, by giving them the impression of a privileged position, and so are rewarded by a better output and increased profit. But it is out of the question that the workers here, or in public utilities or co-operatives, should consider themselves as servants of a community, to which to devote all their energy. Directors and workers are living in the social surroundings and the feelings of their respective classes. Labor has here the same capitalist character as elsewhere; it constitutes its deeper essential nature under the superficial differences of somewhat better or worse conditions.

Labor under capitalism in its essential nature is a system of squeezing. The workers must be driven to the utmost exertion of their powers, either by hard constraint or by the kinder arts of persuasion. Capital itself is in a constraint; if it cannot compete, if the profits are inadequate, the business will collapse. Against this pressure the workers defend themselves by a continual instinctive resistance. If not, if they willingly should give way, more than their daily labor power would be taken from them. It would be an encroaching upon their funds of bodily power, their vital power would be exhausted before its time, as to some extent is the case now; degeneration, annihilation of health and strength, of themselves and their offspring, would be the result. So resist they must. Thus every shop, every enterprise, even outside the times of sharp conflict, of strikes or wage reductions, is the scene of a constant silent war, of a perpetual struggle, of pressure and counter-pressure. Rising and falling under its influence, a certain norm of wages, hours and tempo of labor establishes itself, keeping them just at the limit of what is tolerable and intolerable [if intolerable the total of production is effected]. Hence the two classes, workers and capitalists, while having to put up with each other in the daily course of work, in deepest essence, by their opposite interests, are implacable foes, living, when not fighting, in a kind of armed peace.

Labor in itself is not repulsive. Labor for the supplying of his needs is a necessity imposed on man by nature. Like all other living beings, man has to exert his forces to provide for his food. Nature has given them bodily organs and mental powers, muscles, nerves and brains, to conform to this necessity. Their wants and their means are harmoniously adapted to one another in the regular living of their life. So labor, as the normal use of their limbs and capacities, is a normal impulse for man and animal alike. In the necessity of providing food and shelter there is, to be sure, an element of constraint. Free spontaneousness in the use of muscles and nerves, all in their turn, in following every whim, in work or play, lies at the bottom of human nature. The constraint of his needs compels man to regular work, to suppression of the impulse of the moment, to exertion of his powers, to patient perseverance and self-restraint. But this self-restraint, necessary as it is for the preservation of oneself, of the family, of the community, affords the satisfaction of vanquishing impediments in himself or the surrounding world, and gives the proud feeling of reaching self-imposed aims. Fixed by its social character, by practice and custom in family, tribe or village, the habit of regular work grows into a new nature itself, into a natural mode of life, a harmonious unity of needs and powers, of duties and disposition. Thus in farming the surrounding nature is transformed into a safe home through a lifelong heavy or placid toil. Thus in every people, each in its individual way, the old handicraft gave to the artisans the joy of applying their skill and phantasy in the making of good and beautiful things for use.

All this has perished since capital became master of labor. In production for the market, for sale, the goods are commodities which besides their utility for the buyer, have exchange-value, embodying the labor implemented; this exchange-value determines the money they bring. Formerly a worker in moderate hours – leaving room for occasional strong exertion – could produce enough for his living. But the profit of capital consists in what the worker can produce in surplus to his living. The more value he produces and the less the value of what he consumes, the larger is the surplus-value seized by capital. Hence his life-necessities are reduced, his standard of life is lowered as much as possible, his hours are increased, the tempo of his work is accelerated. Now labor loses entirely its old character of pleasant use of body and limbs. Now labor turns into a curse and an outrage. And this remains its true character, however mitigated by social laws and by trade-union action, both results of the desperate resistance of the workers against their unbearable degradation. What they may attain is to turn capitalism from a rude abuse into a normal exploitation. Still then labor, being labor under capitalism, keeps its innermost character of inhuman toil : the workers, compelled by the threat of hunger to strain their forces at foreign command, for foreign profit, without genuine interest, in the monotonous fabrication of uninteresting or bad things, driven to the utmost of what the overworked body can sustain, are used up at an early age. Ignorant economists, unacquainted with the nature of capitalism, seeing the strong aversion of the workers from their work, conclude that productive work, by its very nature, is repulsive to man, and must be imposed on unwilling mankind by strong means of constraint.

Of course, this character of their work is not always consciously felt by the workers. Sometimes the original nature of work, as an impulsive eagerness of action, giving contentment, asserts itself. Especially in young people, kept ignorant of capitalism and full of ambition to show their capacities as fully-qualified workers, feeling themselves moreover possessor of an inexhaustible labor-power. Capitalism has its well-advised ways of exploiting this disposition. Afterwards, with the growing solicitudes and duties for the family, the worker feels caught between the pressure of the constraint and the limit of his powers, as in tightening fetters he is unable to throw off. And at last, feeling his forces decay at an age that for middle-class man is the time of full and matured power, he has to suffer exploitation in tacit resignation, in continuous fear of being thrown away as a worn-out tool.

Bad and damnable as work under capitalism may be, still worse is the lack of work. Like every commodity, labor-power sometimes finds no buyer. The problematic liberty of the worker to choose his master goes hand in hand with the liberty of the capitalist to engage or to dismiss his workers. In the continuous development of capitalism, in the founding of new enterprises and the decline or collapse of old ones, the workers are driven to and fro, are accumulated here, dismissed there. So they must consider it good luck even, when they are allowed to let themselves be exploited. Then they perceive that they are at the mercy of capital. That only with the consent of the masters they have access to the machines that wait for their handling.

Unemployment is the worst scourge of the working class under capitalism. It is inherent in capitalism. As an ever returning feature it accompanies the periodical crises and depressions, which during the entire reign of capitalism ravaged society at regular intervals. They are a consequence of the anarchy of capitalist production. Each capitalist as an independent master of his enterprise is free to manage it at his will, to produce what he thinks profitable or to close the shop when profits are failing. Contrary to the careful organisation within the factory there is a complete lack of organisation in the totality of social production. The rapid increase of capital through the accumulated profits, the necessity to find profits also for the new capital, urges a rapid increase of production flooding the market with unsaleable goods. Then comes the collapse, reducing not only the profits and destroying the superfluous capital, but also turning the accumulated hosts of workers out of the factories, throwing them upon their own resources or on meagre charity. Then wages are lowered, strikes are ineffective, the mass of the unemployed presses as a heavy weight upon the working conditions. What has been gained by hard fight in times of prosperity is often lost in times of depression. Unemployment was always the chief impediment to a continuous raising of the life standard of the working class.

There have been economists alleging that by the modern development of big business this pernicious alternation of crises and prosperity would disappear. They expected that cartels and trusts, monopolising as they do large branches of industry, would bring a certain amount of organisation into the anarchy of production and smooth its irregularities. They did not take into account that the primary cause, the yearning for profit, remains, driving the organised groups into a fiercer competition, now with mightier forces. The incapacity of modern capitalism to cope with its anarchy was shown in a grim light by the world crisis of 1930. During a number of long years production seemed to have definitely collapsed. Over the whole world millions of workers, of farmers, even of intellectuals were reduced to living on the doles, which the governments by necessity, had to provide: From this crisis of production the present war crisis took its origin.

In this crisis the true character of capitalism and the impossibility to maintain it, was shown to mankind as in a searchlight. There were the millions of people lacking the means to provide for their life necessities. There were the millions of workers with strong arms, eager to work; there were the machines in thousands of shops, ready to whirl and to produce an abundance of goods. But it was not allowed. The capitalist ownership of the means of production stood between the workers and the machines. This ownership, affirmed if necessary by the power of police and State, forbade the workers to touch the machines and to produce all that they themselves and society needed for their existence. The machines had to stand and rust, the workers had to hang around and suffer want. Why? Because capitalism is unable to manage the mighty technical and productive powers of mankind to conform to their original aim, to provide for the needs of society.

To be sure, capitalism now is trying to introduce some sort of organisation and planned production. Its insatiable profit-hunger cannot be satisfied within the old realms; it is driven to expand over the world, to seize the riches, to open the markets, to subject the peoples of other continents. In a fierce competition each of the capitalist groups must try to conquer or to keep to themselves the richest portions of the world. Whereas the capitalist class in England, France, Holland made easy profits by the exploitation of rich colonies, conquered in former wars, German capitalism with its energy, its capacities, its rapid development, that had come too late in the division of the colonial world, could only get its share by striving for world-power, by preparing for world war. It had to be the aggressor, the others were the defenders. So it was the first to put into action and to organise all the powers of society for this purpose; and then the others had to follow its example.

In this struggle for life between the big capitalist powers the inefficiency of private capitalism could no longer be allowed to persist. Unemployment now was a foolish, nay, a criminal waste of badly needed manpower. A strict and careful organisation had to secure the full use of all the labor power and the fighting power of the nation. Now the untenability of capitalism showed itself just as grimly from another side. Unemployment was now turned into its opposite, into compulsory labor. Compulsory toil and fighting at the frontiers where the millions of strong young men, by the most refined means of destruction mutilate, kill, exterminate, “wipe out” each other, for the world-power of their capitalist masters. Compulsory labor in the factories where all the rest, women and children included, are assiduously producing ever more of these engines of murder, whereas the production of the life necessities is constricted to the utmost minimum. Shortage and want in everything needed for life and the falling back to the poorest and ugliest barbarism is the outcome of the highest development of science and technics, is the glorious fruit of the thinking and working of so many generations! Why? Because notwithstanding all delusive talk about community and fellowship, organised capitalism, too, is unable to handle the rich productive powers of mankind to their true purpose, using them instead for destruction.

Thus the working class is confronted with the necessity of itself taking the production in hand. The mastery over the machines, over the means of production, must be taken out of the unworthy hands that abuse them. This is the common cause of all producers, of all who do the real productive work in society, the workers, the technicians, the farmers. But it is the workers, chief and permanent sufferers from the capitalist system, and, moreover, majority of the population, on whom it impends to free themselves and the world from this scourge. They must [manage] the means of production. They must be masters of the factories, masters of their own labor, to conduct it at their own will. Then the machines will be put to their true use, the production of abundance of goods to provide for the life necessities of all.

This is the task of the workers in the days to come. This is the only road to freedom. This is the revolution for which society is ripening. By such a revolution the character of production is entirely reversed; new principles will form the basis of society. First, because the exploitation ceases. The produce of the common labor [will belong to] all those who take part in the work. No surplus-value to capital any more; ended is the claim of superfluous capitalists to a part of the produce.

More important still than the cessation of their share in the produce is the cessation of their command over the production. Once the workers are masters over the shops the capitalists lose their power of leaving in disuse the machines, these riches of mankind, precious product of the mental and manual exertion of so many generations of workers and thinkers. With the capitalists disappears their power to dictate what superfluous luxuries or what rubbish shall be produced. When the workers have command over the machines they will apply them for the production of all that the life of society requires.

This will be possible only by combining all the factories, as the separate members of one body, into a well organised system of production. The connection that under capitalism is the fortuitous outcome of blind competition and marketing, depending on purchase and sale, is then the object of conscious planning. Then, instead of the partial and imperfect attempts at organisation of modern capitalism, that only lead to fiercer fight and destruction, comes the perfect organisation of production, growing into a world-wide system of collaboration. For the producing classes cannot be competitors, only collaborators.

These three characteristics of the new production mean a new world. The cessation of the profit for capital, the cessation of unemployment of machines and men, the conscious adequate regulation of production, the increase of the produce through efficient organisation give to each worker a larger quantity of product with less labor. Now the way is opened for a further development of productivity. By the application of all technical progress the produce will increase in such a degree that abundance for all will be joined to the disappearance of toil.


Fritz Sternberg

Fritz Sternberg Fritz Sternberg; source: Alchetron .

Fritz Sternberg was an “epigone” of Rosa Luxemburg, in a failed attempt to recuperate her for social-democracy; and although he was in contact with the Communist Left, he never was a part of it; he rendered the confusions of Rosa Luxemburg even more confuse, yet he was strong in presenting “facts” and “statistics”; his influence was mainly restricted to Germany and to France much later.

Wikipedia
ar | Fritz Sternberg 
ca | Fritz Sternberg 
de | Fritz Sternberg 
en | Fritz Sternberg 
fr | Fritz Sternberg 
ru | Фриц Штернберг 

On marxists.org nothing for German, English, French or Dutch (2020)

de | Der Imperialismus  / Fritz Sternberg. – Berlin : Malik-Verlag, 1926, – 614 S. – (Reprinted 1971)

de | Der Imperialismus und seine Kritiker / Fritz Sternberg. – Berlin : Soziologische Verlagsanstalt, 1929. – 231 S.

de | Eine Umwälzung der Wissenschaft? : Kritik des Buches von Henryk Großmann: Das Akkumulations- und Zusammenbruchgesetz des kapitalistischen Systems : Zugleich eine positive Analyse des Imperialismus / Fritz Sterberg. – Berlin : R.L.Prager, 1930. – 143 S.

fr | Le conflit du siècle : Capitalisme et socialisme à l’épreuve de l’histoire  / Fritz Sternberg, traduit de l’allemand par Joseph Rovan (1918-2004). – Paris : Editions du Seuil, 1951. – 669 p. – (Les collection Esprit). – (Reprint 1958)

His main work is not yet known for having been translated into other languages, other works of his were.


Henryk Grossman

Henryk Grossman, too, once was in contact with the Communist Left, without ever having participated in it; he tried to make a university-carreer first in Germany, then in the United States, which failed; then he opted for a carreer in East-Germany, which was short lived, as he, curiously, died soon afterwards. He was important for the Communist Left in the sense that he rendered Marx’ Capital somewhat more accessible, but Anton Pannekoek was not impressed.

Hardly anyone has read his unfortunately mostly untranslated works, and his works became object of a nice controversy between “believers” and “disbelievers”. He explains very well the law of the general tendency of the average rate of profit to fall (related to the growing organic composition of capital; ever more technology and ever less labour force); he expands much on the counter-tendencies; yet he forgot (and regretted this) to write a chapter about how the counter-tendencies become ever less effective (and thus, the “tendency” only becomes visible at the “surface” in the long run – Rosa Luxemburg even held that we might have to wait for it “until the sun extinguishes”); moreover he never even tried to demonstrate his thesis by presenting empirical facts or statistics. It remained a mechanical-determinist theory, which, however, might be further developed; and then the whole problem of the constitution of the world market and imperialism (see particularly some ideas of Anton Pannekoek and Rosa Luxemburg) might be integrated.

The law of the general tendency of the average rate of profit to fall is to be understood as a permanent downward pressure on the rate of profit, which needs to be compensated for by other upward pressures, which gradually get exhausted, and thus the tendency could hardly be demonstrated in the 1930s.

In between, it can be demonstrated at the hand of g.d.p.-growth of the “developed” countries for the period of 1949-present: 1949-1974 (period of reconstruction) 4-6%, 1974-2007 (stagnation and neo-liberal recovery): 2-4%; since (global recession) 0-2%. It does not end in “collapse” but in long periods of stagnation. The 2020 punctual Corona-crises expedited and deepened a new cyclical recession which was already in the making and which came after twelve years of hardly any recovery, thus indicating a third structural crisis since 2007 (after those of 1873 and 1929).

Long before, capitalism already became obsolete through World Wars and the incapacity to provide some wealth to the whole of the rapidly growing human population. For a new (2020) statistical approach for 1869-2016, see: The Next Recession ; Michael Roberts Blog: Blogging from a marxist economist (though with a lot of simplifications, yet interesting for the outcome).

 At the end of the cyclical crisis we also see a fall of the rate of profit, but this is a wholly different phenomenon with causes not related to the organic composition of capital, and it was not the object of Grossman’s book.

Henryk Grossman Henryk Grossman; source: Sachsischen Staatsarchive Leipzig .

Wikipedia
de | Henryk Grossmann 
de | Zusammenbruchstheorie 
en | Henryk Grossman 
es |
Henryk Grossman 
fr |
Henryk Grossmann 
it |
Henryk Grossman 
no |
Henryk Grossmann 
pl |
Henryk Grossmann 
ru |
Генрик Гроссман 
tr |
Henryk Grossman 

marxists.org
en | Henryk Grossman (1881-1950) 
de | Henryk Grossman (1881-1950) 
nl | Henryk Grossmann (1881-1950) 
Nothing in French, Italian or Spanish (2020)

en | Collected Works in four volumes at Brill, three of them are to come:
Volume I, 2018, x, 696 p., €215.00 / $258.00 / paperback $36.00

de |  Das Akkumulations- und Zusammenbruchsgesetz des kapitalistischen Systems / Henryk Grossmann. – Leipzig : C.L. Hirschfeld. 1929. – 628 S.
Source pdf: Digibess , redirects to: Byterfly 

en | Law of Accumulation and Breakdown of the Capitalist System, being also a theory of crises  / Henryk Grossmann; translated and abridged by Jairus Banaji; foreword and introduction by Tony Kennedy. – London : Pluto Press, 1992. – 240 p.

de |  Marx, die klassische Nationalökonomie und das Problem der Dynamik / Henryk Grossmann. – Frankfurt am Main : Europäische Verlagsanstalt, 1969. – 133 S.
Includes: Briefe Henryk Grossmans an Paul Mattick über die Akkumulation (1931-1937), p. 85-113
Danke an die Hersteller von: Archiv Karl Roche  und: Barrikade 
Also downloadable from: Espace contre ciment 

fr | Marx, l’économie politique classique et le problème de la dynamique / Henryk Grossmann ; préface de Paul Mattick ; [trad. de l’allemand par Charles Goldblum]. – Paris : Champ Libre, 1975. – 169 p. – (Original title: Marx, die klassische Nationalökonomie und das Problem der Dynamik)

de | Aufsätze zur Krisentheorie / Henryk Grossmann. – Frankfurt am Main : Verlag Neue Kritik, 1971. – 213 S.

en | Capitalism’s Contradictions: Studies of Economic Thought Before and After Marx  / Henryk Grossman, translated by Ian Birchall, Rick Kuhn and Einde O’Callaghan, edited and introduced by Rick Kuhn. – Chicago, Illinois : Haymarket Books, 2017. – 304 p.

en | Henryk Grossman and the Recovery of Marxism  / Rick Kuhn. – [Chicago] : University of Illinois Press, 2006. – 352 p.

en | Henryk Grossman bibliography  / Rick Kuhn, 2006


The law of the general tendency of the average rate of profit to fall (some further references)

de | Gesetz des tendenziellen Falls der Profitrate 

en | Tendency of the rate of profit to fall 

es | Tendencia decreciente de la tasa de ganancia 

fr | Baisse tendancielle du taux de profit 

nl | Wet van de dalende winstvoet 


Herman de Beer

De beweging van het kapitalistisch bedrijfsleven / [Herman de Beer]. –  [Amsterdam] : g.i.c., 1932. – 38 p.
A never translated analysis of cyclical crises, and much more.


Paul Mattick

Also see: Paul Mattick, (1904-1981)

  Zur Marxschen Akkumulations- und Zusammenbruchstheorie  : In Erwiderung des Artikels: „Die Zusammenbruchstheorie des Kapitalismus“ [von Anton Pannekoek] in Nummer 1 der „Rätekorrespondenz“ / Paul Mattick.
In: Rätekorrespondenz, 1934, Nr. 5


Some academic studies

In general boring to read, with no clear conclusions, but with a lot of references, and a lot of “considerations” – mostly in idle view of some “carrier”. Yet, when we have the distinction between punctual, cyclical and structural crises in mind, it becomes interesting again.

Krise und Kapitalismus bei Marx. – Frankfurt am Main : Europäische Verlagsanstalt, 1975. – 486 S. – (Zwei Bände)


Some links for further reading

For the moment, only three external references, given with precaution and to be evaluated.

  • Dieter Wolf; Dieterwolf.net ; not really on crisis-theories and imperialism; very “philosophic” on basic concepts; yet interesting and highly critical in relation to the different academic “schools” of “Marxology” in Germany.
  • Michael Roberts Blog; blogging from a marxist economist ; with a trotskyist background; a lot of statistics on the falling rate of profit and a lot of polemics against other empiricist leftists (whom, in general, consider that only the “private” sector is “capitalist”, in contrast to the “public” sector; and who do not even try to clarify the difference between corporate profits before and after taxation); Michael Roberts knows the Communist Left, notably Paul Mattick; accompanied by many references for further reading.
  • Some historic s.p.g.b.-articles, which argue:
    • Why Capitalism Will Not Collapse ; 1932, there is no economic flaw in the workings of the capitalist economic system that will eventually lead to the final collapse of the system, its breakdown.
    • Crises, Catastrophe and Mr. Strachey ; 1957, that crises are caused basically by “disproportionality” as one key sector of the economy expands too fast for its market, the resulting cutback in production having a knock-on effect on the rest of the economy.
    • Further Reflections on Crises ; 1957, that slump conditions eventually lead to a restoration of the rate of profit and a recovery which will eventually lead to another period of expansion, leading to another crisis and slump; and so on in a repeating cycle of booms and slumps. The trend of capital accumulation is upward but in fits and starts.
    • Since 1957 the s.p.g.b. seems to have produced nothing noteworthy on the subject.

The disadvantage of narrow “economistic” approaches is to exclude from the analysis whole other factors, like ecological disasters, world wars and pandemics; disturbing the usual “cyclical” crises – which anyhow are hardly ever seen in a “pure” form; and they do not consider structural crises neither.


Editorial notes

1. For a somewhat more extended critic in French: Théorie des crises : Marx - Luxemburg I  / J. Johanson, C. Mcl, M. Luca, Vico, 2010; also translated into Spanish ; a follow up was never written because of divergencies between the authors; this also explains the absence of translations into German, English and Dutch, which were intended.


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Compiled by Vico, 5 January 2020, latest additions 21 September 2020





























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