Why the collapsing of the financial bubble is not the fault of “greedy bankers” and why there can be no going back to a social welfare capitalism

20Apr09

A crash course from Krisis, via Le Petit Canard Noir.

Opening:

A new version of the “stab in the back” legend of the 1920s and ‘30s is making the rounds: “our” economy has supposedly fallen victim to the limitless greed of a handful of bankers and speculators. Gorged on the cheap money of the U.S. Federal Reserve and backed up by irresponsible politicians, these greedy bankers have -– so the legend goes –- brought the world to the edge of the abyss, while honest people are made to play the fools.

Nothing could be more contrary to fact nor, given its demagogic and even anti-Semitic propensity, as dangerously irrational as this notion–now being broadcast across the entire spectrum of public opinion. It stands things on their heads. The cause for the current misery is not to be sought in the huge over-valuation of financial markets; the latter was itself not a cause but an effect, a mechanism aimed at avoiding the real, underlying crisis with which capitalist society has been confronted ever since the 1970s. That was when the post-WWII boom, and the long and self-sustaining period of growth made possible by the generalization of industrial production methods and their expansion into new sectors such as auto-making, came to an end. Mass production of commodities in the 1950s and 1960s required additional masses of labor-power -– labor-power thereby in a position to attract the flow of wages and means of subsistence that in turn enabled it to go on mass-producing such commodities. Since then, however, widespread rationalization of the core, world market-oriented sectors of production has displaced ever greater quantities of labor-power through processes of automation, thus destroying the basis for this “Fordist” mechanism and with it the precondition for any renewed tendency towards prosperity in the real economy. Capitalist crisis in its classical form gives way to an even more fundamental crisis in which the viability of labor itself comes to the fore.

More from Krisis here.

/////[Added 21 April:]

ALSO:

Labor and the Logic of Abstraction: An Interview …

Moishe Postone (with Timothy Brennan):

PDF here — taken from — South Atlantic Quarterly 2009 108(2):305-330)

In this interview, Moishe Postone, author of Time, Labor, and Social Domination, discusses the Marxian critical theory of capitalism against the background of the author’s intellectual biography and central historical developments of recent decades. The interview focuses on his reinterpretation of Karl Marx’s critical theory, especially on the notion of the historical specificity of the categories that purportedly grasp capitalism and its historical dynamic. It also engages the author’s understandings of Georg Lukács, the Frankfurt School, and poststructuralism, while addressing issues of capitalism’s historical transformations, its possible abolition, and the reconstitution of progressive politics.

On financial/economic shit

Paul Mattick’s (jnr) part 4 of 4 — ‘What Is To Be Done?” — here.

[both via Will, in comments]

/////Also relevant today: Henryk Grossman. Recommended: Rick Kuhn‘s intellectual biography of Grossman. For reviews, follow some links here and here. Mattick on Grossman here.

//////Lots more: Radical perspectives on the crisis.

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