Thursday, 23 October 2008

The Limits of ‘I Told You So’ Leftwingery....

Via the blog with no name
Marx on the credit crisis
FromCapital (Volume 3, Chapter 30):

"In a system of production, where the entire continuity of the reproduction process rests upon credit, a crisis must obviously occur — a tremendous rush for means of payment — when credit suddenly ceases and only cash payments have validity. At first glance, therefore, the whole crisis seems to be merely a credit and money crisis. And in fact it is only a question of the convertibility of bills of exchange into money. But the majority of these bills represent actual sales and purchases, whose extension far beyond the needs of society is, after all, the basis of the whole crisis. At the same time, an enormous quantity of these bills of exchange represents plain swindle, which now reaches the light of day and collapses; furthermore, unsuccessful speculation with the capital of other people; finally, commodity-capital which has depreciated or is completely unsaleable, or returns that can never more be realised again. The entire artificial system of forced expansion of the reproduction process cannot, of course, be remedied by having some bank, like the Bank of England, give to all the swindlers the deficient capital by means of its paper and having it buy up all the depreciated commodities at their old nominal values. Incidentally, everything here appears distorted, since in this paper world, the real price and its real basis appear nowhere, but only bullion, metal coin, notes, bills of exchange, securities. Particularly in centres where the entire money business of the country is concentrated, like London, does this distortion become apparent; the entire process becomes incomprehensible; it is less so in centres of production."

Yeah, but I still can't work out prices/resource allocation decisions from the Labour Theory of Value...

So, tempting as all this "Hey, We're BACK!" stuff is, I have yet to see anything thing from the Left which shakes me in my view that the Marxist tradition still has a lot to offer in terms of sociological and historical perspectives - even, stripped of the absurd blind alley of 'democratic' centralism, something to offer in terms of political theory - but it really, really isn't helpful when approaching directly economic questions.I'm with Dave on this one.

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