Andrew Kliman on “The Failure of Capitalist Production”

The Failure of Capitalist Production: Underlying Causes of the Great Recession
by Andrew Kliman,
Pluto Press

The recent financial crisis and Great Recession have been analysed endlessly in the mainstream and academia, but this is the first book to conclude, on the basis of in-depth analyses of official US data, that Marx’s crisis theory can explain these events.

Marx believed that the rate of profit has a tendency to fall, leading to economic crises and recessions. Many economists, Marxists among them, have dismissed this theory out of hand, but Andrew Kliman’s careful data analysis shows that the rate of profit did indeed decline after the post-World War II boom and that free-market policies failed to reverse the decline. The fall in profitability led to sluggish investment and economic growth, mounting debt problems, desperate attempts of governments to fight these problems by piling up even more debt – and ultimately to the Great Recession.

Kliman’s conclusion is simple but shocking: short of socialist transformation, the only way to escape the ‘new normal’ of a stagnant, crisis-prone economy is to restore profitability through full-scale destruction of existing wealth, something not seen since the Depression of the 1930s.

About The Author

Andrew Kliman is Professor of Economics at Pace University, New York. He is the author of Reclaiming Marx’s ‘Capital’: A Refutation of the Myth of Inconsistency and many writings on crisis theory, value theory and other topics.

Cyrus Bina’s “Oil: A Time Machine”

A New Journal: Review of Agrarian Studies

Review of Agrarian Studies is the peer-reviewed journal of the Foundation for Agrarian Studies (www.agrarianstudies.org), a charitable trust based in India and established in 2003. The major objectives of the Foundation are to facilitate and sponsor multi-disciplinary theoretical and empirical enquiry in the field of agrarian studies in India and elsewhere in less-developed countries. The Foundation does so in association with a wide section of people interested in the agrarian question, including persons associated with academic institutions, social and political activists, members of mass organizations working in the countryside, and other professionals and scholars.

Review of Agrarian Studies will appear in electronic and printed form. The online version is now live at www.ras.org.in or www.reviewofagrarianstudies.org. The online edition is free to all registered users. Do register now!

The journal invites articles on agrarian studies – on the forces and relations of production in agriculture and in rural areas, on living standards, and on different aspects of social formations in the countryside. The Review will carry theoretical and empirical articles on social, economic, historical, political and scientific and technological aspects of agriculture and rural societies. The Review also accepts photographic, audio and video material.

The Review will publish online first and aggregate online content into a print edition every six months. Rich media content (photographic, audio and video material, hyperlinks and interactivity) will be made available only online.

The print edition of the Review will be published jointly by the Foundation for Agrarian Studies and Tulika Books, one of India’s most important publishers of books in the social sciences. The HTML content of the Review is rendered online, and the print edition typeset, by TNQ Books and Journals, one of India’s leading providers of publishing services to scientific, technical and medical publishers worldwide.

Editor: V. K. Ramachandran (Indian Statistical Institute)
Editorial Board: Aparajita Bakshi (Indian Statistical Institute), Navpreet Kaur (Foundation for Agrarian Studies), R. Ramakumar (Tata Institute of Social Sciences), Vikas Rawal (Jawaharlal Nehru University), Madhura Swaminathan (Indian Statistical Institute)

Book Launch: Pothik Ghosh’s “Insurgent Metaphors” (October 1, 2010)

INSURGENT METAPHORS by Pothik Ghosh
published by Aakar Books
to be launched on October 1, 2010
Time: 2.00-5.00 pm
Venue: Room No 308, Indian Social Institute (ISI),
10, Institutional Area, Lodi Road, New Delhi
(Near Jor Bagh Metro Station)


Marxism’s cultural turn, which has been prominent in its operation over at least the past four decades, continues to belie the hope it had initially held out. The idea that such a move would eventually pull Marxism out of its ‘ontological crisis’ is on the verge of a miscarriage. That is certainly the case in sub-continental South Asia. Unsurprisingly, therefore, ‘culturally-turned’ Marxism survives as the sign of the very crisis it was meant to surpass. Its canonisation within the academia, and beyond, as a mere analytic of culture has led to the blurring of politico-ideological lines. The quietist impulse that this theory of the science of revolution has, as a consequence, come to share with so-called poststructuralism implies its complete detachment from all notions and conceptions of class and class action.

The 13 essays that comprise this book are envisaged as a small attempt from South Asia – where communitarian postcolonialism and ‘Marxist’ culturalism constitute the most respectable trend in radical theory – to remedy the situation.


A collection of provocative essays on culture in the best tradition of Marxism. By showing how the encounter of culture and class with the moments of critique and autonomy pertains to ever-changing situations, Ghosh highlights the importance of contingency and indeterminacy of any critique and autonomous culture, thereby introducing within Marxism a certain self-reflexivity and open-endedness that makes the proposed theoretical frame special.

Anjan Chakrabarti, Professor, Department of Economics, Calcutta University

The essays in the book cover issues that are of great importance to the praxis of revolutionary transformation at a moment when communist revolutionaries are a major internal security obsession. Readers who persevere will find in this intellectually stimulating endeavour much food for thought because it offers a new vantage point to look at social existence and the need to transform it.

Gautam Navlakha, Democratic rights activist and Editorial Consultant, Economic and Political Weekly

Can history be made as we please? Insurgent Metaphors is that book which has had the ambition to imagine Akhtaruzzaman Elias, Brecht, Augusto Boal, Kafka, Ramvilas Sharma, Ritwik Ghatak and Walter Benjamin in one room, not as competitors, but as texts that talk with each other about our times. The uniqueness of Ghosh’s approach to class derives from the heteroglossia and polyphony of his critical voice. This is why it is important that we listen to him.

Ashok Bhowmick, eminent artist and critic


Pothik Ghosh was educated in Allahabad and has worked as a professional journalist in Calcutta, Lucknow and Delhi. Active with various Left groups, he is currently based in Delhi and is one of the editors of Radical Notes. His monograph, Loss as Resistance: Towards a Hermeneutic of Revolution, too has just been published by Aakar Books as part of the Radical Notes booklet series.

RADICAL NOTES IN PRINT

RADICAL NOTES IN PRINT NOW!!! Major original contributions in Radical Notes, considerably revised by the authors in response to on-and-off-site comments, are now printed as books and booklets by Aakar Books.

Radical Notes-4 THE SRI LANKAN CRISIS AND THE SEARCH FOR SOLUTIONS by S. Sivasegaram, ISBN – 978-81-89833-85-5, Price: Rs 95.

Radical Notes-3 THE US FINANCIAL CRISIS by Deepankar Basu, ISBN – 978-81-89833-84-8, Price: Rs 50.

Radical Notes-2 NEOLIBERALISM AND HINDUTVA by Shankar Gopalakrishnan, ISBN – 978-81-89833-80-0, Price: Rs 50.

Radical Notes-1 AKHTARUZZAMAN ELIAS – BEYOND THE LIVED TIME OF NATIONHOOD by Pothik Ghosh, ISBN – 978-81-89833-50-3, Price: Rs 50.

To place your order, contact us at:
publications@radicalnotes.com
OR
Aakar Books
28-E, Pocket-IV
Mayur Vihar Phase-I
Delhi-110 091, India
Phone: 91-11-2279 55 05
Telefax: 91-11-2279 56 41
E-mail: aakarbooks@gmail.com

Correspondence – A Magazine for “Exchange of Perceptions of Reality”

ISSUE: 0001

A group of students from Delhi has published the first issue of their magazine called Correspondence. The Table of Contents and the editorial are given below. For the pdf version of the magazine CLICK. Please contact the editors for the hardcopies – submissions.correspondence@gmail.com.

Coverpage and Table of Contents

Editorial –Paresh Chandra p.1

On Permanent Revolution –Kumarila
Trotsky’s concept of permanent revolution is dialectical to the very core viewing revolution as a continuum embedding the particular in general and appearance in essence, with the latter necessarily getting represented through the former. p.3

Discovering Nuclear Energy for Justifying Bad Deal –Prabir Purkayastha
Not only is nuclear power more expensive, it will also have adverse effects on the entire electricity sector. Going in for huge investments for imported nuclear power plants – three times the cost of similar coal fired units — would mean starving the Indian economy of other investments. p.6

The Art of Naming: Meditations on Queer Activism in Delhi–Akhil Katyal
Queer activism, here and now in Delhi, as I have lived through for the past three years, is composed of varied definitional excursions that are precisely that, definitional excursions, baggy monsters, simplifying technologies that take enormous and complicated raw material, lets say of the morass of human sexuality and try to produce, indeed with success, finished products, peculiarly sexualized individuals, gay or straight. p.10

Q&A with Mahesh Rangarajan: On Ramanujan’s 300 Ramayanas and the Controversy –Paresh Chandra and Bhumika Chauhan
Mahesh Rangarajan, member of faculty of the Department of History, University of Delhi, speaks about Ramanujan’s essay and the protest that followed the decision to include it in the syllabus of a BA Honors course. p.13

Failure, Consumerism and a Counter Strategy – The IP College Protests: an Insider’s Diagnosis — Paresh Chandra
Without the clause of class-consciousness that makes the connection between career and exploitation plain resistance becomes a perverse (the usual) form of consumerism, the commodity bought and consumed is “peace of mind” and the cost is a few days out in the sun. p.16

Changing Class Character of the Campus: New Challenges of the Student-Youth Movement –Abhinav Sinha
To counter the contraction of the space for students’ politics on campus we need to think about a unified student-youth movement which will have equal and free education for all and employment for all as its central demands. Only such a movement will have the strength and potency to achieve such aims. p.19

Beyond the Veil of Identity Politics – Preliminary Explorations through Categories of Caste and Class in Indian society –Ravi Kumar
Identity politics, based on the principle of homogenizations, segregation of social realities into unconnected, autonomous modules, has allowed the expansion of capital, thwarting any possibility of resistance against the system. p.22

Q&A with Lal Khan: On Can Partition Be Undone — Paramita Ghosh
The interview brings out some of the important issues dealt in the book ‘Crisis in the Indian Subcontinent – Partition… Can it be undone?’ along with Khan’s perspective on the political situation and transformation in the subcontinent. p.26

Final Pages

———————–

EDITORIAL: Struggle and Dialogue –Paresh Chandra

It had already been decided that I needed to rework the editorial. Now I have to mention the Delhi blasts, though the addition might seem strained. I was returning from the University when I heard. A friend sent me a message. I had boarded the metro at the University at six and came out at IP in thirty-five minutes. I spent the next half-hour calling friends who were likely to be out. It will sound clichéd but the incident did drive most other thoughts out of my head. Five blasts all over the city and many bombs diffused. Apparently an Islamic outfit took responsibility.

The paranoia that an incident like this creates is huge. Blame is thrown on the police, on the Home Ministry, on Shivraj Patil’s softness on ‘terrorism’. Solution plans fly from all over the place. I distinctly remember how I annoyed I was with the manner in which a RJ kept repeating how such incidents can be averted if we like responsible citizens inform ‘concerned authorities the moment we see unattended objects’. The most interesting solution was proposed by possibly the biggest terrorist in the country—re-invoke POTA. For a moment I bracket out the interests of Hindutva in the re-invocation of the act and concentrate on other aspects. Everybody is bent on treating it as a ‘law and order’ problem. A few decades ago my criticism could have been different (discussions of socio-economic causes of acts of violence have becomes so common that they are not considered serious anymore) but I now feel that mere common sense and experience should be enough to teach us that the problem lies somewhere else. I do not suggest that law and order are not in question, nor am I taking the ‘terrorists-are-also-humans’ stand. I merely wish to point out the fact that stricter laws and greater protection have never ever helped in curbing acts of violence. However I do not wish to go into diatribes against this blindness nor is my agenda to offer an alternative solution (I have none to offer)—I seek to make a different point, or rather I wish to target a different bunch of people.

The situation of the Left in the country is very interesting. If I try to put my finger on the stand of the Left at large on issues like terrorism and communalism I am struck by a sorry realization—there is no stand to pinpoint. The Left is so stuck in the creation of counter-discourses or participation in discourses that are already ideologically compromised that its own discourses cease to exist. Try to locate a few genuine attempts in the country to understand fundamentalism and fundamentalist militancy (to name one issue) from a Left perspective and you will understand what I’m talking about. The ‘mainstream’ left is the busy guardian of bourgeois secularism and the not so mainstream left is busy attacking the mainstream left. When an incident like this one takes place the only thing the Left leaders can do is offer condolence. And because they themselves do not have anything to offer all they can do is try and counter what the Right offers—in this case it will probably be POTA.

* * *

Struggle provides us with what is perhaps our only real chance of continued freedom from reification. It entails the forging of alliances that can help transcend the experiences of fragmented modern existence. The process of changing society is also the most effective manner of transforming our own existence and the only way of bringing about fundamental change is struggle. This magazine is a medium to take forward the idea of struggle. The revivification of struggle (in all its possibilities) needs us to first understand what threatens this idea and then strategise to counter these threats. This magazine is an attempt at doing just that—it will try to bring together counter-hegemonic perspectives on important questions and help provide the sense of community essential for the participants in counter-hegemony. Without this community an idea will hold no bearing on reality—it will become a force only when shared by persons. In this editorial I will lay out some of my thoughts on the situation making some observations regarding problems that I think important.

I was in conversation with a person whom I know to be more than a mere sympathizer of the Left and I am using some of his words when I say that these are depressing times for those people in India who want to believe in the validity of a Left politics, with the organised Left in danger of succumbing completely to the social democratic “Third Way” and the fringe Left more often than not caught in the mires of sectarianisms and adventurisms. It is easy in such circumstances to give in to the lure of consumerism and it becomes compulsive to “enjoy one’s condition”; the easiest thing indeed is to give up the idea of struggle and go out to shop. This consumerism too is not limited to the mall but seeps into and becomes the defining signifier of all actions and social phenomena, even resistance. Trapped in the tri-partite struggle between i) the inertia of a long history of anti-establishment struggle ii) the apparent uselessness of this struggle and iii) the desire to join the system (that one cannot fight) by choosing a career, some call a truce and resistance is chosen as a career option—a symptom of this is the manner in which instead of the Party being a means for struggle, struggle becomes solely a way of “building” the Party (it is important to emphasize the word ‘solely’ because it alone signifies where the problem lies).

We discuss at length the importance of looking at things dialectically. In theory dialectics is something we have a copyright over, but it is hard to maintain it in practise. I do not deny that in concrete political engagements it is not that easy to constantly double check with what’s on paper but to completely lose sight of it is not altogether advisable. I feel that one needs to be vary of this ontological blindness that advertises itself on the name ‘practicality’ and allows not only actions that one would otherwise completely condemn but also disables faculties that the original idea had provided us with. But then we also need to question if the problem is that we understand and do not practise our ideas or whether there is a problem in our understanding of ideas that we call ours. I don’t think the former is possible.

A great sign of decay is the manner in which people are scared of ideas. Doubt is losing its self-reflexivity and is changing into callous lack of trust; conviction is being transformed into prejudice. Both acceptance and rejection lose their Hegelian essence and begin to precede understanding. The process is a vicious circle—because conviction comes before understanding it is shaky, because conviction is set on weak grounds one is afraid of the other’s convictions lest they be stronger and since one cuts communication from the other, one’s own convictions seem unquestioned, and since our own convictions go unquestioned there seems no need to engage with the other’s convictions. A fundamental lesson of dialectical materialism that no idea is completely false and all ideas are only partially true—seems lost.

There is need for a struggle to make struggle more dialogic—dialogue here refers to the capacity to be able to incorporate the other’s voice into one’s own without dominating it; it refers to the removal from language of the violence that destroys the heteroglossic nature of correspondence. Reviving dialogue is one of the most important tasks that face us. We must remember that though internal strife may affect the establishment, fear of revolt and the need to maintain a net profit keeps it together, united against us. On the other hand by keeping a large percentage of the working population unemployed capital makes sure that at all times every worker steps in the market against every other worker. Resistance to the establishment starts off with a huge disadvantage. If we have to counter this disadvantage we cannot allow dialogue to disappear from our interactions with each other, just as we cannot afford a non-dialectical approach unless a skewed and limited picture of reality is what we wish to achieve. Without dialogue neither solidarity nor true criticism can exist. Fear of ideas is a characteristic of hegemonic authority—hegemony has this funny property of being in a constant state of decay. Hegemony is also by definition based on violence and is opposed to dialogue. Resistance on the other hand is a process that survives and disseminates through collective action, solidarity and dialogue.

The preservation of dialogue and a dialectical understanding of things require us to stay in touch with our reality. It is vital that we grasp all that is typical and get rid of all that is superfluous. The commodification of resistance and the concomitant monologising of the space of protest is a sign of the failure of forms of resistance to comprehend the nature of capital. This will indeed be the eventual fate of all forms of resistance that lose what is actually the fundamental link that will allow them to truly engage with capitalist reality, the link with class struggle and the struggle for the interests of the working class. Capital is a result of exploitation—it exists on the production of surplus value and production of surplus value requires labour power. Any struggle as a result, to be a struggle against the system of capital needs to create and preserve its link with the “actual” producers (workers). Capital makes use of various methods to hide this essential logic of its running, to hide this essential fact, the key that has to be grasped to get rid of the chains that bind us. Perceiving the true nature of determination in capitalism would allow us to look through the various illusions that we have to confront each day and this in turn allow the re-establishment of productive ties between fellow beings.

To facilitate the re-establishment of such ties and to allow exchange of perceptions of reality, dialogue is needed. The role of this magazine is to participate in the building of this dialogue—to encourage discussion by actively participating in various discourses and by allowing discussion within its folds is the idea that will underlie its working. It will try to start a dialogue of ideas between individuals, between different organisational streams and also between the reified parts of the same whole that take the form of various disciplines in formal education today. The basic idea is to achieve the true likeness of the elephant and overcome our subjective blindness.

Book Announcement: Globalisation – An Anti-Text

Pranab Kanti Basu, Globalisation – An Anti-Text, A Local View, Aakar Books, New Delhi, 2008. ISBN(HB): 978-81-89833-53-4, Rs: 450; ISBN(PB): 978-81-89833-54-1, Rs: 225. Contact: aakarbooks@gmail.com

The focus of the book is on the international economic organisations: the World Bank, IMF and the WTO. In some sense one can also use this as common person’s guide to the logic of international economic organisations in the age of globalisation.

The age of globalisation is examined from a critical Marxist perspective. It weaves a fascinating and novel view of our age with a serious revaluation of the theory and practice of Marxism today. In spite of the density of the ideas, prior exposure of the reader to the theoretical approaches on which these ideas are based is not necessary. Knowledge of economics which is the stuff of globalisation is also not demanded. Wherever necessary, theoretical issues and concepts have been explained with adequate illustrations.

The book builds on the critique of globalisation to argue for a particular vision of the alternative course of development: nirman aur sangharsh (construction and struggle). This position advocates that a meaningful struggle against the suffocating order of global capital can take shape only if it is supplemented with a positive programme of construction (both material and moral) through community effort. This conception of struggle is rooted in the ideas of nationalists like Tagore and Gandhi as much as it is in the ideas of the Marxist revolutionary, Shankar Guhar Neogi.

Pranab Kanti Basu is presently on the faculty of the Department of Economics and Politics, Visva-Bharati, where he teaches Marxian Economics. Previously published books are both in Bengali. The first was a primer in Economic theory published by the West Bengal State Book Board. The second was on “A postmodern look at Feudalism”. His recent publications are “Political Economy of Land Grab”, Economic and Political Weekly (42:14), Mumbai, 2007; “Globalisation and Primitive Capital Accumulation”, Radical Notes, May, 2007; “Problematising Space”, Socialist Perspective (35:1-2) Kolkata, 2008. These articles expand on themes that are presented in this book. Abiding interest is in what has been termed New Economics Criticism the intersection of economics, literary criticism and philosophy. This book belongs to that genre.

Book Announcement: Marxism, Socialism, Indian Politics

Randhir Singh, Marxism, Socialism, Indian Politics: A View From the Left, Aakar Books, New Delhi, 2008. ISBN(HB): 978-81-89833-55-8, Price: Rs: 650 Contact: aakarbooks@gmail.com

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The collapse of Soviet Union and its ‘actually existing socialism’ has had the consequence of further disorienting the already much disoriented communist movement in the country. There is a continuing aversion to a Marxist understanding of this collapse, and the socialist project itself stands abandoned. Ritualistic noises apart, there is a refusal to think in Marxist terms, which is a prerequisite of principled revolutionary politics and fruitful tactical resilience. The lack of a revolutionary strategic orientation has meant reformist, pragmatic or opportunistic practices on the terrain of bourgeois politics. These are among the issues of major concern in Prof. Randhir Singh’s writings put together in this volume. He writes of the need ‘to think as Marx would have thought in your place’ (Engels), to recover the ‘Marxism of Karl Marx’ and its concept of socialism. It is his argument that its failure in the Soviet Union notwithstanding, the socialist project remains necessary and possible, and viewed as an epochal transition, what is on the agenda in the present day ‘underdeveloped’, ‘over-developed’ or ‘developing’ societies is better visualized as ‘socialism-oriented development’.

Randhir Singh, a distinguished teacher and former Professor of Political Theory, University of Delhi is the author of Crisis of Socialism – Notes in Defense of a Commitment; Reason, Revolution and Political Theory, Five Lectures in Marxist Mode and Of Marxism and Indian Politics. He has been associated with the communist movement since 1939. Of this writings, Harry Magdoff, editor, Monthly Review, has said: ‘I admire the solidity of your analysis as well as the firmness of your commitment’