Economic Crisis and Crisis Theory

By Paul Mattick

Revolt Library Anarchism Economic Crisis and Crisis Theory

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(1904 - 1981)

Paul Mattick Sr. (March 13, 1904 – February 7, 1981) was a Marxist political writer and social revolutionary, whose thought can be placed within the council communist and left communist traditions. Throughout his life, Mattick continually criticized Bolshevism, Vladimir Lenin and Leninist organizational methods, describing their political legacy as "serving as a mere ideology to justify the rise of modified capitalist (state-capitalist) systems, which were [...] controlled by way of an authoritarian state". (From:

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Economic Crisis and Crisis Theory

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6 Chapters | 81,077 Words | 523,466 Characters

(485 Words / 3,169 Characters)
It was not so long ago that Keynesian economics seemed to offer instrumentalities not only to overcome depressions but to avoid them altogether. This is no longer true, as we find ourselves in a post-Keynesian world in which neither the equilibrium tendencies of supply and demand nor Keynesian interventions in the economic processes are able to prevent the steady deterioration of the economy through rising inflation and growing unemployment. Due to the long postwar prosperity in the leading capitalist nations, this has come to many people as an unpleasant surprise and has led to a new concern with the problem of the capitalist crisis. Although largely ignored by bourgeois economists before 1929, crises accompanied the whole of capitalistic development as the decisive “regulator” of the capital accumulation process. It is thus worthwhile to take an overall look at the crisis cycle both as it has asserted itself historically and with respect to the responses... (From :

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The progressive development of the capitalist economy was from the start a process punctuated by setbacks. There were good and bad times and for this an explanation was sought. That social production was at first still dominated by agriculture made it possible to find the cause of economic distress in the inconstancy of nature. Bad harvests could be blamed for the general scarcity of goods. In addition, the low productivity of agricultural labor, in the context of a growing population, awakened the fear that the development of capitalist production would run up against natural limits, indicating the inevitability of a stationary state. Bourgeois political economy was colored by a deep pessimism, which was overcome only with the accelerating growth of capital. Although in classical economics social relations were regarded as “natural.” this did not stop the classical theorists from explaining the distribution of income specifically in terms of these... (From :

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The stagnation of bourgeois economics with respect to its content was for Marx a foregone conclusion. “Classical political economy,” he wrote, belongs to a period in which the class struggle was as yet undeveloped. Its last great representative, Ricardo, ultimately (and consciously) made the antagonism of class interests, of wages and profits, of profits and rent, the starting-point of his investigations, naively taking this antagonism for a social law of nature, but with this contradiction the bourgeois science of economics had reached the limits beyond which it could not pass.... In France and England the bourgeoisie had conquered political power. From this time on, the class struggle took on more and more explicit and threatening forms, both in practice and in theory. It sounded the knell of scientific bourgeois economics. It was thenceforth no longer a question whether this or that theorem was true, but whether it was useful to capita... (From :

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The crises of the nineteenth century displayed characteristics which were connected equally with the level attained by capitalist development and with political events. Thus the crisis of 1816 was without a doubt closely connected with the many years of war preceding Napoleon’s fall. In particular English capital, despite the increasing mechanization of labor, had grown too quickly in relation to its valorization requirements to be able to avoid crisis by way of further expansion. The stagnation that set in manifested itself as overproduction, which, as I Consequence of the impoverishment of continental Europe, could not be overcome by means of foreign trade. This resulted in a violent collapse of prices, which hit agriculture and the textile industry particularly hard and led to the introduction of protective tariffs in order to stabilize the still predominant agricultural production. There were many bankruptcies and bank failures. Wages were radically reduced, a... (From :

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The second global economic crisis of this century was transformed due to the provocation of imperialist competition, into the First World War. To the usual devaluation of capital by crisis, combined with its concentration and centralization, was now added the physical destruction of means of production and labor power. Connected to this was a shift in the balance of economic power from the European nations to the United States. America became the greatest exporting and creditor nation in the world. The territorial changes brought about by the war, the removal of Russia from the world economy, the capitalist reparations policy, the breakdown of currencies and the world market-all this made the reconstruction much more difficult than it would have been in the case of a “purely economic” crisis. The revival of the European economies proceeded so slowly that with the exception of America, the Crisis that had turned into the First World War extended through it in... (From :

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In the field of present-day Marxism, Ernest Mandel occupies a leading position. His industry and ambition have produced a small library of Marxism to which even bourgeois economists pay some respect. In his book Late Capitalism, Mandel practices a sort of self-criticism with respect to his earlier works. In particular he criticizes his Marxist Economic Theory, first, for its “exaggeratedly descriptive character,” and then for its “too small effort to explain the contemporary history of capitalism by its immanent laws of motion” (p. 7, German ed.).Since the later book contains Mandel’s corrections of his earlier works, Late Capitalism must be seen as representing, if not Mandel’s final conception, at least his ideas of the moment, which makes a look back at his Economic Theory largely superfluous. In the course of his various works, Mandel came to the conclusion, which should have been o... (From :


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