The System

Fighting 9/11 Disinformation the Easy Way

Ecocide on the East Side: the Environmental Crisis in Eastern Europe

Yuppies In Moscow!?

Crisis in Ukraine

Runaway Planetary Warming

On Terrorism and the State

Clean, Sober and Obedient

In the Wake of the Exxon Valdez: World Capitalism and Global Ecocide

The Sick Planet

Occupy Needs To Target And Destroy The Ruling Money Fetish

The Global Fascist Terror State

Michael Hudson and Webster Tarpley Disseminate Disinformation

The Modern American Left Doesn't Get Capitalism

The Crisis of Value

9/11 In Context: the Strategy of Tension Gone Global

Retort's Response: Intellectual Dishonesty

Left Denial on 9/11 Turns Irrational

9/11 In Context: Plans and Counterplans

Established Left as Ideology Police

Henry the Great on September 11

9/11: A Desperate Provocation by US Capitalism

After Genoa: Reform or Revolution?

Socially-Responsible Investing: An Oxymoron

The Crisis of Value

by Sander, Internationalist Perspective

There’s no need to repeat that we are in the midst of the worst crisis of capitalism since the 1930’s: even in the mass media this has become a mantra. But why are we in this mess? The course of action (or inaction) that is advocated depends on the answer to this question. Already, the way in which the crisis is portrayed implies an answer. The mass media has inundated us with stories of greed, stories of mismanagement and of lack of regulation. The “Anglo- Saxon,” “neo-liberal” model of unbridled free markets has been thoroughly discredited, the economic heroes of the right have fallen from their pedestals, and good old Keynes is back in fashion. The new consensus favors more regulation, more state-intervention, and more debt creation by the state in order to counter-act the deflationary pull that is contracting the economy. The debate is only about how much. That is a debate that, by its nature, is waged within the left of the capitalist political spectrum. It pits those who believe that fine-tuning the symbiosis between the state and private capital leads to the best of all possible worlds, against those who hallucinate that, through gradual statification of the economy, they will ease capitalist society into socialism. But the latter support the first in their narrative of the crisis as a result of greed, mismanagement and deregulation. They both critique capitalism, to various degrees, but their critique is a positive one. They share and propagate the belief that capitalism can be improved upon. That makes them the most crucial defenders of capitalism today.... In contrast to the left, the pro-revolutionary critique of capitalism is a negative one. It claims that the current crisis will worsen, whatever measures are taken. At best, these measures will slow its acceleration, but any reflation will be a reflation of the bubble; because the bubble is not only in real estate and in finance. The world economy as a whole is a bubble that must explode or deflate, with terrible consequences for the vast majority of humanity, regardless of how and by whom this is managed. ... there is no other higher power that can come to the rescue. Capitalism becomes the most dangerous when the flight forward is the only alternative left. The negative critique of capitalism claims that it can’t be repaired because the crisis is the direct result of the historic over-ripeness of its very foundation: the value-form."

The deeper the crisis, the more capitalists suffer, the more the working class suffers, the more social tensions rise. The instability of value translates itself into the instability of society. The urge to stop the bleeding, to break the spiral and to start a reverse dynamic going becomes irresistible. To the extent that it still can, the capitalist state tends to act against the deflationary trend by pumping money into the economy so as to stimulate demand and shore up profit-rates.

To the extent that it is successful, it is sabotaging the crisis mechanism that the accumulation process needs to heal itself. Or rather, it stretches it out; it shoves it into the future. Fictitious capital is used to stem devalorization, but all that new fictitious capital in its turn lays claim to future profits. If the economy can’t provide them, the inclination grows to use industrial power for military goals, to forcefully take elsewhere the surplus-value it cannot create, in order to meet the claims of its capital and prevent its collapse. This fits very well with the need to control the turbulence in society with nationalism and the fixation of social anger on a common enemy.

So the development of real domination at some point quite “naturally” leads to war, if capitalism is in a position to impose it on society. This war is in the first place waged for plunder but at the same time becomes functionally necessary for the continuation of the value based economy. It must finish off what the crisis started. So it becomes an integral part of the accumulation cycle."

Hundreds of millions died, so that value could live ... War devalorizes capital by destroying it, thereby eliminating its claims on future profits, restoring a balance between the claims of existing capital and actual value creation. In that regard, World War II was much more effective than World War I, which was one of the reasons why the post-WWII boom lasted so long. That its end did not immediately trigger a global economic breakdown cannot be explained by state-capitalist intervention and the massive creation of fictitious capital alone, although these helped to postpone the hour of reckoning. But the main reason why it could be postponed was “globalization” and its beneficial impact on the rate of profit and the growth of productive demand. This was not enough however to restore the global growth rate, which plummeted in the early 1970’s and has never recovered. Meanwhile, the growth of fictitious capital has accelerated ever since. In this decade, the imbalance between money as a general commodity, circulating other commodities, and money as a particular commodity, hoarded for its claim on future value, has grown to grotesque proportions. It has been estimated that the former represents only 2% of money transactions on any given day. (30) All the rest is money traded for its own sake, that is, for its expected capacity to grow in value by claiming its share of surplus value yet to be produced. So the few trillions of dollars, euros and other currencies that evaporated since the collapse of the American housing bubble triggered the return of the crisis, represent only a small fraction of the capitalist wealth that still must disappear for the restoration of the conditions for accumulation.

So once again, capitalism is on a path towards collapse and/or war. But the future will not re-enact the past. I am not predicting World War III. What I do predict is that devalorization will continue and worsen. How the capitalist class, and more importantly, how the working class will react to that, is not a given. But the capitalist class really doesn’t have much choice, except in the ways and means it employs to try to keep its grip on society. The working class does have a choice. It can do nothing and cling to the irrational hope that in the end things will somehow work themselves out. Or it can take its future into its own hands and finally end the rule of the value-form over society.

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