Sunday, January 11, 2009

Adrift on the neoclassical sea

A couple of quotes from jane dark's recent post:
Even economists able in some regard to have seen the crisis with a clear eye are still largely compelled to speak of it in almost purely cyclical terms. . .
It is tempting to assert that this waveform horizon results from being adrift on the neoclassical sea; had they their feet planted in the critique of political economy, they would see the drive of the world capital system toward terminal crisis. But this too may be a mistake, albeit one of scale rather than simplicity. The inability to think the crisis in relation to geopolitics and state power afflicts various Marxian analysts as surely as it does the doyens of the core institutions. That there will not be a recovery in the full sense is explicable only through the coordination of economic and state power, and indeed the horizon of knowability here is not that of an unforeseeable economic unfolding but the difficulty in conceiving of what form the transfer of global power away from the U.S. will take.
In The New Imperialism, David Harvey points out that when capitalism has hit its inevitable crises of overaccumulation, capital has invariably sought to solve its problems overseas, with imperial adventure and investment. In part this is because in general, as a class, the ruling class simply refuses to give up on the class war. Where the problem could perhaps have been fruitfully addressed via extensive investment in the social sphere, ideologically this is simply a non-starter. This is one of the many aspects of capitalism that reveals that the notion that the market involves rational actors, behaving rationally, making rational decisions, is nothing more than a fiction. Nevertheless, crisis is inevitable. The current crisis is one more necessary crisis, pointing towards, as jane puts it, a terminal crisis, not simply an awful downturn in the cyclical (read: natural) order of things.


Edmond Caldwell said...

Richard, you might find the work of Loren Goldner interesting as well. Personally I think he's able to make the "dismal science" gripping. Here's the url of his site:

There's a lot there; a good current text to start with is "Fictitious Capital and the Transition out of Capitalism." Great older texts include his "The Remaking of the American Working Class" and "Communism is the Material Human Community: Amadeo Bordiga Today," the latter of which pretty much defined the "Russian Question" for me.

Richard said...

Thanks for the recommendation and the link, Edmond. Looks like great stuff.