What is going on here?

So Maps was kind enough to link here in an interesting post about what has happened to left-wing intellectual space in New Zealand, and he’s certainly right that as elsewhere much of it these days blooms on blogs. But those who have clicked through must have been disappointed with this particular moribund site.

I’ve had a lot going on since finishing the thesis – some tourism, some house moving, getting a proper job lecturing at Sydney Uni, and best of all getting ready for the arrival of my daughter. But I’m not planning on giving up on blogging. I now think, though, that political blogging is done better as part of a collective project rather than on an individual blog, especially one as low-intensity as this. I’ve promised to contribute to the excellent new Left Flank, and while I have yet to deliver, that’s where I’d like to put any Australian political-economic commentary. Here I plan to keep pottering along posting more of the demi-academic, semi-scholarly and quasi-theoretical stuff from time to time, like the Poulantzas material of the last few posts.

Sometime soon, anyway.

PS. I should say that despite Maps’ description I’m not really into crisis theory, I don’t think traditional Marxian crisis theory has been all that enlightening regarding the GFC, and that I agree with Panitch and Gindin that there are better things for socialists to do than predict the next crisis (or the indefinite extension of this one).

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Published in: on 25 January, 2011 at 9:13 am  Comments (2)  

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  1. Re. crisis theory. The symptomal thing for me about Marxist talk of crises has been the way that the history of the second half of the 20th C, for this Marxist talk, has been a discussion of the failure of capital to take the average profit it took in the 1960s, &c. To me, this is a straight non sequitur. I think it shows simply a bad way of thinking – what logical relation is there between the average profits taken in the 1960s and those taken today, for the operation of capitals today and for resistance to them? Capital isn’t interested in the profit it made in the 1960s. It can’t make it now; in fact those profits don’t exist now; the past is sealed away for all but the dreamers and sloganeers. Capital is concerned with the chance of turning a profit on its present investment, preferably on top of the curve of average profits, gaining what Harvey calls ‘ephemeral surplus-value’. The historiography that treats ‘the Long Boom’ as a norm for capital assumes that historiography ought to involve these sorts of norms; which is derivative of the Hegelian idea that history has some essential truth or pattern. The striking thing about the article you link to is that the authors note that this obsession with showing that average profits today are not of the same mass as they were in the 1960s, &c., means that attention isn’t paid to how capital is organising itself (and us) in the present. The only measure of capital ends up being against something that doesn’t exist, or have any relevance to capital’s present movement. Perhaps what you and those authors are saying is that it is one thing to write a history of the profit rate, it is another to suggest that this has any bearing on politics, or theoretical research into capital’s present.

  2. Surely the point for crisis theory is to note that capital has difficulty maintaining a rate of profit, and since capital seeks higher rates of profit, this drives the development of capitalism as it seeks new places to find profit, and moreover leads to crisis since capitalism can’t really cope with a decline in the rate of profit, but rather will start to consume itself bringing on its own supersession?


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