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)
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.”
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.»
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