From: ‘De Nieuwe Tijd’ (Vol.21 #5, May 5, 1916)
By way of an introduction
For a critique of the theory of the decadence of capitalism, Pannekoek is important because he has always opposed the view that capitalism would automatically and irreparably collapse. In “The Economic Necessity of Imperialism” (1916) he summarizes his critique of Luxemburg’s underpinning of the saturation of the markets at the hand of Marx’s reproduction diagrams. We will not go into this further, but do point out that the ICC’s theory of decadence relies on Luxemburg’s argument. Further, Pannekoek has taken down the tendency of the rate of profit to fall as a theoretical underpinning of Grossman’s and Mattick’s crises theory as well. Instead of an automatic and irreparable collapse of capitalism and an economic necessity of imperialism, Pannekoek argues that the periodic crises arise from the imbalance between economic factors inherent in capitalism. Instead of an economic necessity of imperialism, he posits a social and political necessity that follows from the power of big capital. Only at the margins of his reflections Pannekoek speaks of an end to capitalism in a then – in 1916 and 1946 respectively – distant future: through the exhaustion of the “material” conditions for the expansion of production. In 1916 these are “unlimited quantities” of raw materials in nature; in 1946 he already speaks of “the raw adventurous methods of capital – which on all continents are in the process of destroying the fertility of the earth”. Not unimportant, and even highly topical in the light of the current environmental and health crises. The second material condition mentioned by Pannekoek that capitalism would no longer be able to fulfill, is that of a labor force in “sufficient” quantities to expand production.
F.C., January 2021
(Last edited: March 15, 2021)
‘To think of emancipation’, a century after the global revolutionary wave that began in 1917, is to question the very term emancipation. Who is the subject of this emancipation and who emancipates who, in a struggle that is anything but an ideological game between four walls. This emancipation has its source in the working class (manual and intellectual). It cannot be assimilated to a “struggle of the people”, whose “Cause” would be national and patriotic. ‘To think of emancipation’ in  is to look back at the great proletarian revolutionary insurrections in Russia and Germany and draw lessons from them at the beginning of the third millennium. In doing so, the revolution in Germany from 1918 to 1921 is an essential milestone, since it raised the question of the forms of organization of any revolutionary class struggle: workers councils, workers’ unions, revolutionary factory organizations, factory committees or action committees. Like the Russian Revolution, it raised – albeit to a lesser degree, in the absence of a real takeover of power – the question of socialization of the means of production, and therefore of the abolition of the capitalist system based on profit.
» 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? «
The German Marxist Willy Huhn (1909 – 1970)
Jochen Gester: Auf der Suche nach Rosas Erbe. Der deutsche Marxist Willy Huhn (1909-1970); Die Buchmacherei, Berlin, 2017.
Paperback, 628p. + CD 207p. (Pdf); €22,-. ISBN 978-3-00-056463-5. Orders via Die Buchmacherei, with postal charges.
In this article you find:
The book description by the Editor
The review: Willy Huhn, an unknown council communist