Trescientos cuarenta y cuatro euros mensuales, 344. Ésta es la pérdida salarial que, en promedio, sufrió cada trabajador español sólo en 2006. Es el resultado de la caída de participación de los salarios en el PIB, desde el 63,3% de 1993 hasta el 54,9% de 2006; pérdida que totalizó 82.927 millones de euros y, por tanto, 4.130 euros anuales por trabajador o los 344 mensuales mencionados.
El período 1993-2006 abarca desde la entrada en vigor del Tratado de Maastricht, que inicia oficialmente el camino hacia el euro, hasta justo antes del estallido de la crisis. Se trata, por consiguiente, del período del euro, en cuyo marco se decía “España va bien”. Y esta pérdida salarial sintetiza con claridad el significado del euro, la intencionalidad con la que fue impuesto. De hecho, supone una caída de participación, en promedio simple anual, del 0,65%, mientras en el período 1978-93 fue del 0,28% y en el período 2006-2013, ya en la crisis actual, del 0,49%.
Esta contribución toma como punto de partida los debates – que pueden ser considerado exóticos o esotéricos – entre economistas marxistas, principalmente anglosajones. A continuación, se amplia en tres ámbitos: el regreso de las ideas keynesianas, el debate sobre el desarrollo concreto de la crisis y una incursión en las preocupaciones ecologistas. Para volver en un bucle a la idea de que la lectura marxista hace subir a la superficie cuestiones fundamentales sobre el capitalismo contemporáneo. No hace falta decir que este ensayo de discurso sobre los discursos refleja un punto de vista personal y no trata de considerarlos de acuerdo con su influencia relativa . El objetivo de esta contribución es más bien sugerir una posible explicación para la contradicción que existe entre la aparente gran coherencia de la argumentación keynesiana o regulacionista y su limitada capacidad de pesar en el debate público, para no hablar de las políticas que finalmente se llevan a la práctica.
“Marxist crisis theory to 1932 and to the present: reflections on Henryk Grossman’s ‘Fifty years of struggle over Marxism” Rick Kuhn
Henryk Grossman’s article and pamphlet ‘Fifty years of struggle over Marxism, 1883‐1932‘ provided a survey of Marxism and particularly Marxist crisis theory since Marx’s death. He identified both innovations in and major departures from Marx’s own approach amongst those who called themselves Marxists. The processes of innovation and departure have both continued over the period since. This paper explores Grossman’s assessments of Marxist crisis theories up to 1932, subsequent theoretical developments and grounds these in an account of the material circumstances of their production.
Heinrich’s article is mainly about the falling rate of profit and crisis theory, but another important point has to do with Marx’s logical method in Capital, and in particular with the levels of abstraction of capital in general and competition. Heinrich argues that Marx encountered difficulties in the Manuscript of 1861-63 concerning this logical structure, and as a result of these difficulties, Marx abandoned this logical structure in the final versions of Capital.
I argued in a 1995 paper that Heinrich is wrong about Marx abandoning the logical structure of capital in general and competition after 1863 (Moseley 1995). Capital in general and competition refer to the two main levels of abstraction in Marx’s theory – the production of surplus-value and the distribution of surplus-value. The key point of this logical structure is that the production of surplus-value is theorized prior to the distribution of surplus-value; i.e. the total amount of surplus-value is determined (by the total surplus labor) prior to its division into individual parts (first the equalization of the profit rate across industries and then the further division of the total surplus-value into commercial profit, interest, and rent). The pre-determined total surplus-value is taken as given, as pre-determined (as a “limit”; see below), in the subsequent theory of the distribution of surplus-value; i.e. in the division of this pre-determined total surplus-value into individual parts.
“The Unmaking of Marx’s Capital. Heinrich’s Attempt to Eliminate Marx’s Crisis Theory”: Andrew Kliman, Alan Freeman , Nick Potts, Alexey Gusev and Brendan Cooney
Michael Heinrich’s recent Monthly Review article claims that the law of the tendential fall in the rate of profit (LTFRP) was not proved by Marx and cannot be proved. Heinrich also argues that Marx had doubts about the law and that, for this and other other reasons, his theory of capitalist economic crisis was only provisional and more or less in continual flux.
This response shows that Heinrich’s elementary misunderstanding of the law––his belief that it is
meant to predict what must inevitably happen rather than to explain what does happen––is the
source of his charge that it is unproved. It then shows that a simple misreading of Marx’s text
lies at the basis of Heinrich’s claim that the simplest version of the LTFRP, “the law as such,” is
a failure. Marx’s argument that increases in the rate of surplus-value cannot “cancel” the fall in
the rate of profit is then defended against Heinrich’s attempt to refute it. Finally, the paper
presents evidence that Marx was indeed convinced that the LTFRP is correct and that he
regarded the crisis theory of volume 3 of Capital as finished in a theoretical sense.
Michael Heinrich is an exponent of what is known as the ‘New German Reading of Marx’, which interprets the theory of value that Marx presents in Capital as a socially specific theory of ‘impersonal social domination’. He is a collaborator on the MEGA edition of Marx and Engel’s complete works and has published several philological studies of Capital. He has also authored a work on Marx’s theory of value, The Science of Value, which is forthcoming in the Historical Materialism book series. And recently he has published An Introduction to all Three Volumes of Capital as his first full-length work to appear in English.
I am not going to do a critique of Heinrich’s views on the theory of value, as this has been done by Guglielmo Carchedi in his book, Behind the Crisis (see chapter 2). But I am moved to respond to a recent article of Heinrich’s in the American Monthly Review, entitled Crisis theory, the law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall and Marx’s studies in the 1870s (monthlyreview.org).
In this article, Heinrich makes the following points: 1) Marx’s law is inconsistent because its categories are indeterminate; 2) it is empirically unproven and even unjustifiable on any measure of verification; 3) Engels badly edited Marx’s works to distort his view on the law in Capital Vol 3; 4) Marx himself in his later works of the 1870s began to have doubts about the law as the cause of crises and started to abandon it in favour of some theory that took into account credit, interest rates and the problem of realisation (similar to Keynesian theory); 5) Marx died before he could present these revisions of his crisis theory, so there is no coherent Marxist theory of crisis.
“Crisis Theory, the Law of the Tendency of the Profit Rate to Fall, and Marx’s Studies in the 1870s”: Michael Heinrich
The development of crisis theory within the Marxian tradition has been central to much of our work in the last several years. The view that the various fragmentary references to crisis theory in the three volumes of Capital constitute a fully developed coherent structure, which only requires diligent exegesis, is a view that has never seemed sensible to us.
Recent research into the evolution of Marx’s manuscripts in connection with the production of the Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe (MEGA), the historical-critical edition of the complete writings of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, has confirmed our understanding in a very exciting way. It is now clear that Marx never ceased to develop his thinking on the phenomena of crises in capitalism, and never ceased to discard earlier formulations; for example, at the end of his life he was focused on questions of credit and crisis. Monthly Review rarely presents its readers with discussions of economic theory at a relatively high degree of abstraction; this, however, is such an occasion. We trust that the author’s exemplary clarity will permit ready access to readers with any degree of interest in Marx’s theory; for those who wish to become familiar with the conceptual outline of Marx’s work, we cannot do better than to recommend the author’s An Introduction to the Three Volumes of Karl Marx’s Capital (Monthly Review Press, 2012). —The Editors
This is the first published general refutation of the Okishio theorem. An earlier refutation based on a specific example was published by Kliman and McGlone in 1988. Okishio’s theorem, published in 1961, asserts that if real wages stay constant, the rate of profit necessarily rises in consequence of any cost-reducing technical change. It proves this within a simultaneous equation (general equlibrium) framework.
This paper establishes that this proposition is false within a differential equation (temporal) approach. In such a framework the denominator of the rate of profit rises continuously, regardless of whether or not there is technical change, unless capitalist consumption exceeds profit, as occurs in a slump.
Business As Usual: The Economic Crisis And The Failure Of Capitalism by Paul Mattick. Reacktion Books: 2011. £12.95
Just yesterday, we were all supposed to believe that the globalisation of capitalism and free markets was the route to freedom, peace and prosperity for all. Then, with barely an explanation, and somewhat out of the blue, the story changed. Now we are to believe that, due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, prosperity will have to give way to austerity. The good times are over.
It is characteristic of crises that the stories we are expected to believe suddenly change. But how can we understand the change? And might there not be better stories than the rather grim and gloomy one we’ve been ordered to swallow? Paul Mattick Jnr’s short book is just such an alternative. For him the crisis signals the complete bankruptcy and destruction of mainstream economics.
Why crisis is impossible
Why did the crisis appear as a bolt out of the blue? Why was it not expected or anticipated by any economist or mainstream commentator? In short, because there is no place in the standard economic story for crisis, any more than there’s a place for wizards and interstellar travel in a 19th-century realist novel. The old story goes something like this:
“Capitalism is a system for producing wealth to satisfy consumer needs. Individuals set up in business looking out only for their own interest, but in doing so produce for society. Only what can be sold will be produced; money will be borrowed, land rented and labour hired only because the resulting production meets a need. The money earned by selling one’s product will then be spent either on consumption or further production. The economy therefore tends naturally to a balanced state, in which all products find buyers. There may be momentary imbalances between supply and demand, but rising and falling prices soon take care of those. In this way, capitalism creates the wealth of nations, and all is well in the best of all possible worlds.”