The Real Movement

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Tag: Bretton Woods

Mandel’s strange argument on value, exchange value and prices

As I showed in the first part of this series, Marx’s argument is that the rate of profit falls because, over time, generally less labor is employed in the production of commodities. The falling rate of profit triggers a crisis during which capital attempts to restore the normal operation of the mode of production.

Among Marx’s findings: Even if an increased quantity of labor is generally employed throughout the ‘economy’, this increase in the total sum of labor is accompanied by a decrease in the labor embodied in each of the individual commodities produced. The result is that, over time, even if more value is created, it is embodied in even more use values, each of which requires less labor to be produced.

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Ernest Mandel on currency crises and the end of money

For people who care about how the dollar works to slow capitalist collapse, Ernest Mandel wrote an interesting piece in 1968, The Crisis of the International Monetary System. I found the essay both interesting and puzzling.

Why I find the essay interesting is probably obvious to anyone who reads this blog regularly. I think Marx’s view of money and associated issues is far too blithely dismissed by even those who consider themselves orthodox followers of his theory. My argument is simple: you cannot claim labor theory is legitimate and valid while arguing one of the most fundamental and critical labor theory premises of commodity production and exchange — that money itself must also be a commodity — is invalid.

(Which is to say, of course, you can hold this position, and may even be right about it, but the results of your analysis won’t be consistent with labor theory. Something has to give here.)

Before I explain why I found Mandel’s essay not only interesting but, more importantly, puzzling, I want to provide some context.

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Why Thatcher’s neoliberalism was the continuation of Keynesianism

I received this question on my ask.fm page:

“I’ve noticed that you hold a quite controversial position regarding Thatcher, when you say she was right. Do you mean that you endorse her policies? Wouldn’t it be insane for communists endorsing or proposing extreme Thatcherite policies? If not, would you mind explaining it a little better please?”

Not a problem, let me give some context for why in a certain sense, I argue Thatcher was correct about TINA:

In 1980, Margaret Thatcher argued “There is no alternative” to the policies she was pursuing. In the 36 years since she made her TINA speech, those words have been repeated on the Left as a declaration of class war. While the Left has been rightly outraged by her speech, assuming, as it does, that her neoliberal policies were a historical necessity, little or no context for her words have ever been provided by her Left opponents.

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Catastrophe: Modern money, the state and labor theory

1. Modern Money Theory, or the state as monetary sovereign

I am reading, “Modern Money Theory 101: A Reply to Critics by Eric Tymoigne and L. Randall Wray”. I like this paper because it is a comprehensive defense of the ideology of the modern money school (MMT). Because it is a comprehensive statement of this school, it is possible to show modern money theory is a theory of fascism on steroids.

teapartyI want to state at the outset that by fascism I do not mean Nazism or any other peculiar manifestation of fascist politics from the 1930s. (Indeed, the ideas associated with modern money theory are popular across the entire spectrum of American politics — from the Tea Party to the progressive Left.) Rather, I will show that MMT expresses a fundamental tendency inherent in the capitalist mode of production toward the displacement of the capitalist class as managers of the production of surplus value by the state.

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Labor Theorists, Money and Lies: A brief rant

So here is a case study for how our Marxist labor theorists work:

First you establish a position that is diametrically opposed to Marx; namely that he was wrong to say money has to be a commodity. Second, you “prove” why labor theory also shows why Marx was wrong, because, in your opinion, the “dialectical movement of money as a category” means money loses its commodity character. Third, you declare you are the real Marxist and Marx was just some witless Victorian who did not have the relevant data at his disposal.

Finally, you declare the collapse of the Bretton Woods in 1971 was not the collapse of production on the basis of exchange value, but the “dialectical movement of money as a category”, which you then top off with this sort of completely devious and deliberately misleading statement:

“Nevertheless we cannot deduce from this any sort of a ‘breakdown’ theory of capitalism.”

The actual breakdown of production on the basis of exchange value in 1971 — the collapse of Bretton Woods itself — having been dismissed as unnoteworthy, you are now free to state that there is nothing about the situation after this breakdown that shows the necessity of a breakdown!

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Class Struggle and the Breakdown of Production Based on Exchange Value

2002_currency_exchange_AIGA_euro_moneyYou have to notice what the labor theorist, George Caffentzis, asserts in his essay “Marxism After the Death of Gold“. Although, according to Anitra Nelson, Marx believed the credit system itself “signals the disintegration of capitalist relations”, according to Caffentzis, the final detachment of the credit system from gold refutes Marx. Caffentzis and other labor theorists had two ways of interpreting Nixon’s actions in 1971: the death of capitalism or the death of labor theory.

Guess which one they chose.

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