Re: what makes a theory 'social democratic'?

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@STANFORD.EDU)
Date: Thu Dec 11 2003 - 13:36:52 EST

>At 11:42 05/12/2003 -0800, Rakesh wrote:
>>>My real question is--- what kind of theory does imply that such an
>>>arrangement would work? Or, alternatively stated, specifically
>>>what are the necessary conditions/elements in a theory for it not
>>>to be social democratic?
>>>     in solidarity,
>>>     michael
>>My answer, Michael:
>>A theory whose diagnosis of crisis either gives confidence that it
>>will be self-correcting or that the state can correct it with
>>interventions that remain with the structural parameters of the
>>system, so to speak. See for example Mattick Economic Crisis and
>>Crisis Theory. I noticed that there is even a web edition now
>>Yours, Rakesh
>Hi Rakesh,
>       My question was not directly specifically at you--- as
>opposed to an attempt to open up a general discussion that I've
>tried to stimulate in various ways. Your answer was not one that I
>anticipated. Are you saying (a) that one designates a theory as
>social-democratic according to its crisis theory

and general theory of accumulation

>and (b) that a theory is social democratic that says economic crises
>are not permanent and contain within them (via the destruction of
>capital) self-correcting mechanisms?

I don't think there are permanent crises. However theories of crisis
based on disproportionality (of which underconsumptionism is a
variant) and deficiency of effective demand lead one to believe that
crises should be easily solvable. A simple redistribution of capital
or govt deficit financing should set the economy back on its growth
path. Only the falling rate and mass of profit theory makes sense of
protracted crises in which there must be a general devaluation of
capital, new political means have to be used to break labor (rather
than merely contain wage increases so that there is no wage-price
inflation) and the fraternity of capital breaks down into fraticidal
competition. This is not to say that any crisis is permanent; it is
only to say that protracted and deep crises are inevitable. To be
sure, they can be deferred through the geo-temporal displacements
that Harvey describes, but they can't *always* be solved even in
theory by the simple redistribution of capital or government deficit
It is important to remember that while Grossmann, Mattick, etc are
accused of monocausality, they both do not deny the validity in
specific contexts of the first two crisis theories. They just add the
third. Robinson and Sweezy however
denied that the third had any effective force at any time. Grossmann
and Mattick were in fact more pluralistic in their crisis theories.
They were not monocausal. The division is between those who would
want to "reconstruct" Marx without the third volume (the Kaleckians
stick pretty much to the second volume) and those who would extend
Marx's arguments in the third volume on the basis of the labor theory
of value.


>       in solidarity,
>       michael
>Michael A. Lebowitz
>Professor Emeritus
>Economics Department
>Simon Fraser University
>Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6
>Office Fax:   (604) 291-5944
>Home:   Phone (604) 689-9510

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