250 years of modern Capitalism: A reconstruction of its dynamics (Part 2)

“I pre-suppose, of course, a reader who is willing to learn something new and therefore to think for himself. […] Every opinion based on scientific criticism I welcome.” (Karl Marx, Preface to the First German Edition of ‘Capital, critique of political economy’, 1867).

Taking up a longstanding concern of Marx’s that he was unable to fulfill, this work in progress treats the development of modern capitalism over the past 250 years, with special attention to the classic country of its origin: Great Britain/the UK, at the hand of examined statistic sources and according to criteria developed by Marx.

With its third chapter: “An economically polarized World” now available in the topics section of this site, our translation is up to date with the work’s version of March 17, 2020 at ‘Capitalisme & Crises Économiques’.

We invite our readers to consult the article through its Table of Contents.

The editor

Election of Biden: Successful democratic campaigns against the US and international proletariat

IGCL: Communiqué on the Situation in the United States (November 7, 2020)

“Trump has been beaten. After a week of counting the pro-Biden ballots sent in by mail, the  electoral ‘recovery’, announced by Trump himself as well, did take place. The American bourgeoisie can legitimately shout success. Isn’t this proof of its political mastery? Didn’t it succeed in imposing the presidential change that it had obviously deemed necessary since the outbreak of the economic crisis and the pandemic? And to appoint Biden? Wasn’t he supported by practically all the different bourgeois factions and the state apparatus, including the highest military officers, some of the Republicans themselves, and even by Fox News, the pro-Trump news channel? But, perhaps more importantly for its success, did it not succeed in mobilizing as never before for these elections? In a country where voter turnout has historically always been low, around 50%, all records since 1900 have been broken and 67% of the American electorate voted.”

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Topic: Has Capitalism entered its Decadence since 1914?

The Falsehoods of the International Communist Current (ICC) — A critique (Ch.1 & 2)

The following contribution challenges a fundamental programmatic position shared by several groups of the contemporary communist Left, in continuity with the beginnings of the III. (or Communist) International, namely that capitalism has entered its phase of decline as an historical mode of production since the outbreak of World War 1. It does so following the method that Marx applied in his (unfinished) magnum opus ‘Capital’, comparing the evolution of capitalism before and since 1914 at the hand of documented empirical data. These are summarized in a series of graphs and contrasted with the affirmations by one of the most outspoken protagonists of this position.

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The Tormented Land of the Cedars

G. Fontana (I.O.D.) on the Beirut explosion of August 4

The huge explosion that destroyed the port of Beirut and caused hundreds of victims is only one of the last episodes of the permanent imperialist war. A war fueled by the contradictions of the capitalist mode of production, which has in fact turned the cedar country into a theater of death.

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Capitalism, Wars and Epidemics (III)

4. The destruction of health systems and of the ecosystem. The commodification of the world

 

The outbreak of a violent pandemic, like Covid-19, has seemed to suddenly fall from the sky, like an umpteenth plague of Egypt. The U.S. economy seemed to be thriving, and unemployment was at a low ebb. Virtually everyone (except the homeless or the countless precarious workers) was going from home to work every day, hoping that everything would go well in the best possible of all capitalist worlds.

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Anton Pannekoek: Marxism and Darwinism (1909, 1914)

An Introduction by Ph. Bourrinet, October 2019

In A Free Retriever’s Digest Vol. 4 Issue #2, April – June 2020 (April 21, 2020) we have presented Anton Pannekoek’s classic work on Marxism, Darwinism and their thorny relationship at the hand of a summary written for its recent French translation. (a)

In the following we continue with the elaborate introduction to Pannekoek’s synthesis by its French translator, which endeavors a critical evaluation of this work and its reception in diverse quarters.

We wholeheartedly support this effort to review the ‘classics’ of historical materialism in the light of the lessons taken from the historical experiences of the working class struggle and in that of the evolution of science – not limiting ourselves to saving them from the “the gnawing criticism of the mice”, nor to simply repeating them – and hope this review contributes to a meaningful discussion among the political minorities that lay claim to proletarian internationalism.

Due to the length and scope of this contribution and its extensive annotations, we publish our translation on the portfolio pages. The following presents the contents at the hand of excerpts, with links to the full text.

H.C., September 7, 2020

a) “Marxismus und Darwinismus. Ein Vortrag von Ant. Pannekoek” (2nd German edition, Leipzig 1914). Its French translation is available with Moto Propio, Paris, November 2019.

Note:  The full text is available here since September 14, 2020.


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Essay: On unionism and its revolutionary overcoming

A contribution to a debate between council communists
(Roi Ferreiro, August 17, 2020)

The following essay is a discussion contribution on the (trade- or industrial) union question from the perspective of overcoming the latter’s inherent limitations, which has been proposed in a recently emerging, council communist discussion forum.

Departing from the radicalizing tendencies that openly combated the official trades’ unions during the revolutionary upsurge in Germany 1917-1923, the essay  takes care to reestablish the vision of Marx and Engels on the possibilities and limits of ‘unionism’, both in their own time and in general. It subsequently attempts a terminological clarification, relating the ‘union’ or ‘syndicalist’ types of organizations and struggles to their historical period and respective aims and origins. Based on these preliminary considerations, the essay engages in an  investigation of the limitations and pitfalls in the conceptions, slogans and practices embodied by the K.A.P.D. and the Arbeiter-Unionen, as the most advanced expressions of a workers’ struggle for class autonomy at the time. Limitations and pitfalls that can also be found in more recent manifestations of proletarian struggles since the 1960s, albeit in a profoundly altered political-historical context, engaging very different force relations. A series of reflections is advanced that amount, a.o. to situating the workers’ struggles of the past decades as marked by a decline of ‘unionist’ illusions, and to re-calibrating the question of self-organizing in workers’ struggle. It appears that the old theses defended by the GIC in the 1930s are considered as still of use.

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The Corona-virus and the Communists Today

I.O.D.: An invitation to an open debate among proletarian internationalists

Whereas ‘A Free Retriever’s Digest‘ does not adhere to Leninist conceptions of the role and function of politicized minorities of the proletariat, it is not blind to relevant analyses of burning questions either, let alone to promising efforts to contribute to a renewal of Marxism, that may originate from Leninist tendencies. As such we consider the Istituto Onorato Damen (I.O.D.), that has originated from a split of Battaglia Comunista in 2009. We present its latest revue and its long-term project (AFRD Vol.4 issue #3, on page 7 ff.). The following article sets forth their vision on the actual tasks and responsibilities of proletarian internationalists and a proposition for an open debate on the basis of an historical materialist approach, criticizing certain tendencies with origins in the historical Italian communist Left for abandoning this terrain.

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Iran: A New Wave of Strikes and Workers’ Protests and the Need for Workers’ Solidarity

A Communiqué by ‘Internationalist Voice’ (August 3, 2020)

The following communiqué provides a first time account of the acutely revived workers’ combativity in Iran, despite the corona-virus pandemic hitting the country hard, and the omnipresent state repression and political maneuvering by the local regime. For the first time in recent years, the workers in the oil- and gas industry are massively implied. The communiqué is followed by a brief commentary from ‘Arbeidersstemmen’. We hope to provide more details and analysis on the present struggles in due time.

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