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Marxism, Crisis, and Economic Laws: A Comment

Revitalizing Marxist Theory for Today's Capitalism

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

Publication date: 7 November 2011


In the 2010 volume of Research in Political Economy, Alan Freeman put forth the intriguing and original hypothesis that “capitalism's inner laws express themselves in … different ways during booms and during crises” (Freeman, 2010, p. 217). When the business cycle is in an upswing, Freeman argues, the tensions and contradictions that will eventually interrupt the process of capital accumulation are camouflaged by the commodity form, and so appear as natural laws of motion. With the onset of a crisis, however, these tensions erupt into overt class conflict and so become transparent. The open political struggle represents an opportunity for transformative progressive action. While Freeman's development of this hypothesis is in many respects illuminating, his analysis is marred by a gratuitous methodological argument that has little bearing on what he wants to say about crises. His remarks on method would be merely distracting if they were accurate. But they are in fact misleading and therefore stand in the way of productive discussion of the essay's many useful observations.


Mongiovi, G. (2011), "Marxism, Crisis, and Economic Laws: A Comment", Zarembka, P. and Desai, R. (Ed.) Revitalizing Marxist Theory for Today's Capitalism (Research in Political Economy, Vol. 27), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 271-284.



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