250 years of Capitalism: A reconstruction of its dynamics (Part 1)

A Work in progress

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.

Taking up a longstanding concern of Marx’s he was unable to fulfill, the following presents the first part of an article series treating 250 years of Capitalism at the hand of examined statistic sources on its economic dynamic, in order to draw out its perspectives.

The consecutive parts of this series will be published on the ‘topics’ pages of this blog and announced on this roll. The original version in French language is published at the ‘Capitalisme & Crises Économiques’ website.

The editor

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Robin Goodfellow in the Land of the ‘Yellow Vests’

A critique by the Pantopolis blog (March 15, 2019)

We are happy to [refer to] the latest text from the group Robin Goodfellow (RGF). (1) Coming from the Bordigist camp, it has striven to always be in tune with the class struggle, despite the desperately academic tone of its publications.

This text shows a positive spirit of openness towards the movement of the ‘yellow vests’, in which proletarians predominate. Contrary to some sects falsely laying claim to left-wing communism, Robin Goodfellow did not spit on the movement, quite the contrary. These sects did, by the way, not manifest an “aristocratism” of revolutionary “purists”, but rather the ubuesque (2) holy fear of micro-bureaucrats, ready to hide under their beds at the first signs of serious confrontation with the “forces of order”, shamefully describing the healthy reaction of the yellow vests to the terrible force of the capitalist state (3) as “useless violence.”

The text of Robin Goodfellow is very precise on the classes, or rather the heterogeneous layers that have intervened in the movement of the ‘yellow vests’. It deserves to be welcomed for demonstrating that, in the ‘yellow vests’ movement, the proletariat is very much present (workers, employees), even as a vast majority.

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Marxist-Humanism at the crossroads

A Press Review on the inter-imperialist standoff about Venezuela

After the fuss about the failed “humanitarian” aid operation, the economic crisis and the boycott by the United States drag on. As usual, the proletarians in particular suffer from a lack of basic necessities and medicines. In this case, they are also called upon to defend the interests of one of the two groups within the ruling class of Venezuela, those around the incumbent president Maduro (supported by the corrupt army summit, Russia, China, Turkey and Iran) and the self-proclaimed interim president Guaidó (supported by entrepreneurs and the US and — in an unprecedented action — the EU). This false choice is fought by (as far as known) all publications that defend the standpoint of proletarian internationalism, that is, those who invoke the Communist Left against both Stalin’s ‘socialism in one country’, and against the defense of the Soviet Union by most Trotskyists as a ‘workers state’, despite its ‘degeneration’ and ‘bureaucratization’, later followed by a ‘critical’ defense of the Eastern European ‘popular democracies’ and other ‘socialist’ countries that participated in the Russian bloc.

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A Balance Sheet of the ‘Yellow Vests’ Movement in France

In its second communiqué on the ‘yellow vests’ movement in France the IGCL  provides a balance sheet of its strengths, weaknesses and dilemma’s, together with an updated summary of the situation at the 11th Saturday of demonstrations and their prospects.

2nd Communiqué by the IGCL (January 27, 2019)

The eleventh Saturday of the ‘yellow vests’ movement in France, 26 January 2019, has seen the mobilization continue throughout France. According to the police, there were 69,000 demonstrators across the country. It is nevertheless obvious that this figure is largely underestimated: 2,500 demonstrators in Paris were announced, whereas there were in fact between 8,000 and 10,000 when the two main parades met at 4 pm at the Place de la Bastille. The clashes that subsequently broke out there allowed the police to disperse the crowd that would gather in the square. But the exact number doesn’t really matter. The fact is that this movement of ‘yellow vests’ expresses a rage and a willingness to oppose the growing misery imposed and promised by capitalism and to confront the state, that the bourgeoisie does not succeed to extinguish. Just like the strikes in Iran in 2018 or the mass strike of tens of thousands of workers in northern Mexico as we speak, to mention but a few, (1) the radicalism, combativeness, [and] obstinacy of the ‘yellow vests’ movement signals the degree attained by the class antagonisms, and the fact that we have entered in a new period of massive confrontations between the classes at the global level. This generalized climate of potential social revolt, already partly in action, is essentially the result of the effects of the 2008 crisis, which are still being felt, exacerbating capitalism’s current contradictions of all kinds, political, ecological, imperialist, migratory, social, etc. Today, these contradictions have accumulated and are exploding one after another. In this international climate of general social revolt in the making, the “slowdown of world growth” – to use the words of bourgeois economists – and the risks of a financial and stock market crash can only accentuate this atmosphere of “the end of the world”, the end of the capitalist world to be exact, and bring the current generations of proletarians to the necessity, to consciousness and willingness to oppose capitalism’s misery as well as the generalized war that it is preparing and, finally, to destroy it. The entire capitalist class, at least its most enlightened fractions, is so concerned with this situation that “the eminences gathered at the Davos summit believe that it is time to ‘re-moralize’ globalization (according to Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum) and to seek the paths to a ‘more inclusive’ world economy” (‘Liberation’, 23 January 2019), and that States are already preparing for it both politically and in terms of violent and massive repression.

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What workers in yellow jackets can learn from the proletarian struggle in Iran

As we understand the general rise in fuel taxes has been withdrawn by the French government and certain categories most in need have been granted a (temporary) financial relieve. Faced with this partial (and possibly temporary) retreat by the French authorities, flanked by measures like attempting to foster a nationwide “social dialogue” while simultaneously trying to turn on the screws of state repression, the “yellow jackets” mobilization in France seems to be in decline.

The following text undertakes an attempt of drawing lessons from this inter-class mobilization in comparison with those that may be drawn from the recent wave of struggles in Iran, which has shown a more clearly pronounced proletarian character, but so far has met relatively few echoes within political milieus claiming adherence to proletarian internationalism.

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On the movement of the “Yellow Vests” in France

The following communiqué by the International Group of the Communist Left has been released after the demonstrations on Saturday December 1st, which  appear to have been the apogee of the “yellow vests” mobilizations in France so far. Beyond a characterization of this movement as “inter-class” it provides some important reflections and an orientation that tries to overcome the impasse of this kind of movement.

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The Dilemma’s of Capitalism apropos of ‘Trump’ and ‘Brexit’

Crisis– Conflicts – Struggles – Populism (I.)

In A Free Retriever’s Digest Vol.2#4 (August – September 2018) we have published the introductory section of this article: “Trump and Brexit: A new economic and imperialist orientation?” that sets out the question treated. Hereafter you’ll find the integral article, including its main dish: an introduction into the concept of capitalism’s successive “productive orders”. From this angle of attack reflections are developed on the characteristics of the present period and its perspectives. As the author has revised his overview table of capitalism’s four main productive orders, we include the updated version as an annex.

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Supplement to AFRD #03 (June – July 2018)

The G.I.C. and the Economy of the Transition Period – Introductory Article

As a supplement to issue #03 of A Free Retriever’s Digest we publish a two-part article that introduces the major political–theoretical work of G.I.C., and attempts to clarify the main misunderstandings that still mark its reception. It is freely available for download here. The following presents its summary.

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The IGCL on Marxism and the National Question

» The end of 2017 was marked by the renewal of nationalist quarrels in Europe. After Scotland, and Flanders in Belgium, Catalan separatism resurfaced in its turn, as did, to a lesser extent, Corsican separatism. These independence movements affecting ‘old capitalist nations’ follow the creation of new nations after the explosion of the Eastern bloc, the Baltic countries, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, former Yugoslavia. Very often, these nationalist movements are supported by extreme right-wing parties, but not always (Catalonia and Scotland). (1) What do these nationalist movements represent and what are the stakes, and especially what danger do they pose to the international proletariat, and particularly that of the countries or regions under consideration? «

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How to understand ‘May 1968’ in France?

« The struggles of May-June 68 in France have been part of a general wave of labor disputes and protests of various kinds (student claims, protests against the multiple wars in the world, a search for different values ​​and ways of life…) that flourished from the second half of the 1960s until the beginning of the 1970s. All these conflicts expressed the accumulated tensions in society after two decades of very vigorous growth that jostled all the ideas and structures in place. They manifested to the highest degree the contradictions between the rapid development of the productive forces and the obsolete nature of the superstructures that coordinated them: economic, political, ideological, legal, family, cultural, moral super-structures, etc. These blatant inadequacies are at the basis of the explosion and the radical character of all these movements, not in the sense of an exit from capitalism – a perspective that was shared only by a very small minority at that time – but in the sense of challenging old structures that are not adapted to the new realities of the post-war period. The article The significance of the struggles from 1966 to 1972” tries to draw up its tableau. Its first part is devoted, on the one hand, to the critical discussion of explanations commonly put forward to understand these events and, on the other hand, to lay the foundations of a coherent alternative explanation. »

(From the presentation of Controverses No. 5, May 2018)

The full version of this article has first been published in French on the Controverses website on May 11, 2018: La signification des luttes de 1966 à 1972. Hereafter we present an abridged version by the author. (Note from the editor)

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