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Crisis Theory and the Great Recession: A Personal Journey, from Marx to Minsky

Revitalizing Marxist Theory for Today's Capitalism

ISBN: 978-1-78052-254-8, eISBN: 978-1-78052-255-5

ISSN: 0161-7230

Publication date: 7 November 2011

Abstract

There are two influential interpretative positions in the current debate on the crisis among Marxists. The first understands financialization as a consequence of the tendential fall of the rate of profit. The other interpretation, prevalent among those influenced by Keynesianism and Neoricardianism, refers to the tendency toward the crisis of realisation, because of the squeeze on the wage bill and the insufficiency of consumer demand. In both cases, the current crisis is the crisis of a feeble capitalism, permanently stagnationist. A Marxian interpretation of the crisis cannot be separated from the tendential fall of the rate of profit. This latter, however, cannot be accepted as it is presented by Marx, and it must be rethought as a meta-theory of the crisis, including within it the different crisis theories that can be derived from Capital. This article first provides a personal survey of Marx's crisis theories, often presented as opposed to each other. Second, it seeks to integrate the different positions into a unitary discourse, within a nonmechanical reading of the fall of the rate of profit. This discourse then mutates into an historical sketch of the long dynamic of capital: from the Great Depression of the end of the nineteenth century, to the Great Crash of the 1930s, to the Social Crisis in the immediate processes of valorisation of the 1960s–1970s (the Great Inflation). Finally, the “new” capitalism (the Great Moderation) and its recent crisis (the Great Recession) are read – integrating Marx and Minsky – as the conjunction between the real subsumption of labour to finance and the fragmentation of labour.

Citation

Bellofiore, R. (2011), "Crisis Theory and the Great Recession: A Personal Journey, from Marx to Minsky", Zarembka, P. and Desai, R. (Ed.) Revitalizing Marxist Theory for Today's Capitalism (Research in Political Economy, Vol. 27), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 81-120. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0161-7230(2011)0000027005

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited