The Real Movement

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Tag: keynesian economics

How Marxist economists are failing our movement

One thing working for communists at the state and local level in the United States is that state and local governments don’t have access to conventional Keynesian economic policy tools: State and local governments can’t print currency and therefore can’t issue bonds based on a currency they control. If they issue bonds, sooner or later they have to raise taxes or cut spending to pay the debt off. This means state and local governments can’t spend their way out of the contradictions inherent in capitalism.

What does this mean practically?

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Can communists fix “the poorest big city” in the US?

According to this article, Philadelphia, the site of the Democratic National Convention and long managed by the Democratic Party, has another unmentioned and less savory reputation. It is “the poorest big city” in the US.

“The nation is focused on Philadelphia as a smiling, spruced up city hosting hordes of delegates, visitors, protesters and journalists. But away from the TV cameras, thousands who live in the poorest neighborhoods know it’s unlikely that outsiders will see their Philadelphia, one defined by poverty, hardship and hopelessness.”

While I was reading it, I found myself asking, “When was the last time I read anything by a Marxist on how to fix poverty?”

Now, obviously, poverty is natural to the capitalist mode of production. Capitalism has an inherent tendency to impoverish wage workers as it concentrates wealth into fewer and fewer hands. Marxists thus have argued that if we want to fix poverty we have to get rid of capitalism. There is nothing wrong with this statement in and of itself, but it does beg the question: How do we get from point A to point B? Is there nothing short of communism that can fix this?

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Growth, Stagnation or Collapse: A short comment on Anwar Shaikh’s new book

Here is a quote from Anwar Shaikh in the lecture series based on his new book:

“Capitalism is a growing system. Any analysis of capitalism must build into it from the start that it is growing.”

Shaikh’s statement is really rather incomprehensible given what he says is his starting point for analysis of the capitalist mode of production: the framework provided by classical theorists and Keynes.

How can he claim to base his argument on the classical economists and Keynes when, contrary to both of those schools, he characterizes capitalism as a growing system? In Keynesian theory the system tends toward stagnation; while in classical theory, the mode of production tends toward conditions that must lead to collapse, a falling rate of profit. Read the rest of this entry »

Greece and the long awaited collapse of the Marxist underconsumptionist school

No Grexit

Tank-Top---€With SYRIZA now appearing to be a lock for forming the next government in Greece, some Marxist writers are suggesting there is a serious problem with the party’s commitment to staying in the European Union and the euro common currency.

In a post to Left Flank, Thanasis Kampagiannis, argues that leaving the common currency is a precondition for an effective revolutionary politics today:

“There is an analogy between the question of the Euro and the Left’s approach to the First World War. The decision to break with the war effort — and, even more, to break with it unilaterally — became central to the realignment of the Left. This does not mean that everyone who was in favour of peace was a Marxist. The same goes today: not everyone in favour of breaking with the euro is a revolutionary socialist. For example, Costas Lapavitsas’ proposed “Grexit” program, which Richard refers to, is a radical anti-neoliberal program for restoring Greek capitalism’s competitiveness outside the straightjacket of the Euro through depreciation of a national currency. Nevertheless, there can be no doubt that breaking with the Euro is the necessary step for any anti-capitalist politics that wants to end austerity and start imposing a pro-working class agenda.”

But why is it revolutionary to pull Greece out of the euro and EU? I get the distinct feeling people think SYRIZA is to be faulted for its refusal to leave the EU and I am not sure why that would be. From reading Kampagiannis’s article I feel I have a much better grasp of some of the forces at work within the Left in Greece, but I have a lot of questions about his anti-euro, anti-EU, argument.

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The Left’s myopic defense of the Keynesian social state

The root of the Keynesian social state is the starvation of the working class

I think the post-war Left has never been able to properly understand Keynesian economics because it has never grasped capital itself. This problem has deep roots in labor theory back to Marx’s piece, “Reflections on Money”, where he criticizes a one-sided view of capital. He pointed out that capitalism is not just the exchange between consumers and capitals, but also between capitals themselves and the relation between the two. Another way to put this, I think, is that capital is not just the circulation of commodities, but capital in the form of commodities.

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