New Discussion Contributions
We present the reply to “In Defense of Historical Materialism” by Aníbal (Forum Inter-Rev, Spain) in our supplemented translation. It sets forth what the latter regards as his main difference with C.Mcl. – whether capitalism has started its entry into decadence at the beginning of this century (as C.Mcl. argues) or it has arrived at its historical apogee (which Aníbal holds); it further proposes a series of topics and questions for further discussion, and finally points out some more objections and criticism.
The editor, May 31, 2022.
Aníbal, January 26, 2022 (Revised and supplemented version of May 28)
Introduction Article of I Quaderni dell’Istituto Onorato Damen Nº 1 (April 2022)
“A new dramatic front of the permanent imperialist war has opened in the heart of Europe. At the dawn of February 24, 2022, the Russian armed forces have unleashed their firepower against Ukraine, bombing the main cities of the country and invading the Ukrainian territory from several fronts with hundreds of thousands of soldiers. A war that in the plans of the Russians probably had to last only a few days, given the disparity of the forces in the field, whose prolongation [however] dangerously risks to widen, dragging the whole of Europe into the vortex of the conflict. This is the future that the capitalist system envisages for us, a future made of wars, generalized misery and increasingly precarious living and working conditions.”
Understanding the Decline of a Mode of Production
(Link, February 28, 2022)
The elaborate reply by C.Mcl. ‘In Defense of Historical Materialism – A reply to Link and Aníbal’, (1) has incited one of the protagonists addressed to a first response that we publish integrally here: ‘Understanding the Decline of a Mode of Production’, by Link.
This first part focuses on “the theoretical issues and criticisms raised by C.Mcl., because these issues are key to an understanding of Marx’s historical materialism”, which he esteems is a rather unilateral one with the latter. According to Link, “both the relations and the forces or production have an impact on the decline of a mode of production, not just the one that C.Mcl. believes” – i.e. the production relations. “There is no question that economic decline as a product of internal contradictions can be and is a feature demonstrated in a period of decadence, but to argue that economic decline is the only factor that demonstrates a mode of production is decaying is a rather narrow, dogmatic approach.”
Discussion of Historical Materialism
A Reply to Link and Aníbal – Continued
(C.Mcl., February 2022)
«In general, the dominant historiography “explains” history, the birth and disappearance of civilizations, by the action of “great men”, the fight for ideas, the triumph of certain religions, geophysical factors, external invasions, natural disasters, etc. In short, everything except the recognition that societies are crossed by internal evolutionary dynamics. And if certain historical currents are clearly more interesting insofar as they evoke economic factors or conflicts of interest between social groups, it is never in order to derive a key to the evolution of societies. The reason is simple: if this is the case, capitalism could, like all previous societies, also be crossed by an internal dynamic and not be eternal!
It is quite different for Marxism, if it does not neglect any factor, whether internal or external – even the struggle for ideas, the genius of great men, the influence of certain geophysical factors, etc. – it puts forward three essential elements that articulate them in a hierarchical and coherent whole: (1) societies evolve; (2) their evolutionary dynamics are above all based on issues around material factors (especially economic ones) and (3) factors that are carried and defended by social classes with antagonistic interests. In other words, it is mainly spurred on by the confrontation of the latter (the class struggle) that societies evolve, that is to say by an evolutionary dynamic internal to societies.»
This is the second and last part of an exhaustive reply to contributions and interrogations on the question: Has Capitalism entered its Decadence since 1914? that have been published on this site. The available chapters and paragraphs can be accessed via the hyperlinks below.
Critical comments and contributions are welcome. Please observe the modalities mentioned in the Colophon.
Henry Cinnamon, February 25, 2022.
The translation has been completed. The final two chapters: 6. What are the Real Changes in 1914? and 7. Conclusion have been added on April 9, 2022.
The first part of this reply can be read online here. It can be freely downloaded for offline reading as well: A Free Retriever’s Digest’ Vol.6 Nr.1 Supplement (February 4, 2022)
Discussion: A Reply to Link and Aníbal
(C.Mcl., January 2022)
This is the first part of an exhaustive reply to contributions and interrogations on the question: Has Capitalism entered its Decadence since 1914? that have been published by ‘A Free Retriever’s Digest’.
With this contribution we hope to advance a discussion within proletarian internationalist milieus, and those of the communist lefts in particular, that we esteem of major importance: to achieve a solid appreciation of contemporary capitalism in its historical trajectory, based on the scientific approach of Marx and Engels.
Our translation has been proofread both by the author and the contributor it specifically addresses. We thank Link for his genuine support. Source references have been included in footnotes and with the graphs. Unless mentioned otherwise, quotations from Marx and Engels have been translated directly from German language editions.
Critical comments and contributions are welcome. Please observe the modalities mentioned in the Colophon.
Henry Cinnamon, January 31, 2022.
This contribution is freely available for offline reading as well: ‘A Free Retriever’s Digest’ Vol.6 Nr.1 Supplement (February 4, 2022).
Over the last summer, one of the participants in the discussion on this site has engaged in an exchange at the ICC’s online forum apropos of the character of economic growth (“Growth as Decay”). As he has defended the position and questionings put forward in his text Is Decadence an Economic Phenomenon?, (Link, May 17, 2021), we have asked the author for a brief appreciation of this exchange. His summary can be read in the remainder of this post, on page 2.
In a new discussion text: What are fetters on the productive forces? the latter develops his views on the criteria for discerning whether a historical mode of production is in its ascendancy or in its period of historical decline in a more explicit way. He does so in reply to other contributions on this site, and specifically to C.Mcl’s., in which he seems to miss a due appreciation of the profound transformations of capitalism’s mode of functioning since the beginning of the 20th Century (for instance monopolies, imperialism and state capitalism). The text puts in question a way of conceiving the transformation of the relations of production from “forms of development” of the “forces of production” into their “fetters” – to use the terms of Marx in 1859 – that the author considers as more or less ‘purely economic’, or “economistic”, and which he regards as the underlying, common ground of most adversaries in this controversy, notably of both the ICC and C.Mcl. The text argues that rather factors ‘exterior’ to a mode of production’s core dynamic need to be taken into account to explain its ascendancy or decline.
We hope these new contributions lead to critical reflections and replies by our readers and contributors.
The Editor, December 12, 2021.
Contribution to a discussion on Marx’s accumulation and crises theory of Capitalism
Bibliographic data: Phil Sutton, A Critique of Luxemburg’s Theory of Accumulation. Independently published, 30 May 2021. Paperback, 98 pages. ISBN-13: 979-8733143033. Per copy: £6.23 Ordering information via Amazon-UK.
«From: The Accumulation of Capital by Rosa Luxemburg (1913):
“Capital accumulation progresses and expands at the expense of non-capitalist strata and countries, squeezing them out at an ever faster rate. The general tendency and final result of this process is the exclusive world rule of capitalist production. Once this is reached, Marx’s model becomes valid: accumulation, i.e. further expansion of capital, becomes impossible. Capitalism comes to a dead end, it cannot function any more as the vehicle for the unfolding of the productive forces, it reaches its objective economic limit.”
This pamphlet critically investigates how Rosa Luxemburg justifies her theory of the accumulation of capital and whether the events of the last century of capitalist development confirm or deny her theory.»
The Falsehoods of the International Communist Current (ICC) — A critique
Chapter 3: The national question before and after 1914
Extract: “Certainly, the productive forces have developed with the industrial revolution that began in the countries of Western Europe and North America. However, were we witnessing “a step forward in the development of the productive forces on a world scale” before 1914? Not at all, because the first Euro-American countries would limit this development to their geographical area and de-industrialize the rest of the world, destroying all potential for competing economic growth, as the study on the 250 years of capitalism that we have republished clearly shows. To this we add the very telling graph [above], whose data confirm this observation, since in 1750, 80% of industrial production was located in the world outside Western Europe and North America and only 20% in the latter two areas, whereas after a century and a half of ‘capitalist ascendancy’ (1750-1913), we are witnessing a spectacular geographical inversion in this distribution, as production had become almost exclusively concentrated in the Euro-American area (84%) to the detriment of the rest of the world (16%)! In other words, the development of productive forces following the industrial revolution, far from being “a step forward in the development of the productive forces on a world scale…”, remained confined to the Euro-American area to the detriment of the rest of the world. Once again, the reality is strictly the opposite of the idealistic postulates of the ICC. This divergence in geographical evolution is at the origin of the economic bi-polarization of the world between the so-called Developed Countries and what will later be called the Third World.”
Graph 3.1: Distribution of the Manufactured Production in the World (1750 – 1913)
Source: Les mondes insurgés, Altermanuel d’histoire contemporaine , Ed. Vuibert, p. 13.
The data come from: Paul Bairoch, ‘International industrialization levels from 1750 to 1980’ ,
published in The Journal of European Economic History, n°11, 2, 1982.]
Apropos of the recently started series The Falsehoods of the International Communist Current (ICC) — A Critique, we have opened a new section on our topics pages, which collects Discussion Contributions on the Question of Capitalism’s Decadence by commentators of this work in progress. At present it contains the following essays:
Decline and Senility of Capitalism with Marx, Engels and Communism.
A critical recapitulation and determination of capitalism’s historical phase (Anibal & materia, May 22, 2020)
Some Key Questions for Luxemburg’s Theory of Accumulation.
Problems for the modern day supporters of Luxemburg’s theory of total dependence on precapitalist markets (Link, November 27, 2020)
Capitalism is coming to an end. But how?
Does China’s further integration into capitalism lead to the latter’s “obsolescence”? Fredo Corvo replies to C.Mcl. (Version of March 14, 2021)
The Decadence of Capitalism. A Discussion
Aníbal & materia (Version of March 22, 2021)
New: Is Decadence an Economic Phenomenon?
Link, May 17, 2021
This section may be updated with new contributions. We invite interested readers to send in their commentaries and/or contributions. Please read the modalities in the Colophon.