Re: what makes a theory 'social democratic'?

From: paul cockshott (clyder@GN.APC.ORG)
Date: Fri Dec 19 2003 - 04:34:55 EST


As for inflationary monetary policy, it may well reignite
accumulation as a result of a higher rate of exploitation-- wages lag
behind the general price level (see Mattick on Samuelson, 1981). But
again a rising rate of exploitation cannot always neutralize FROP
from rising OCC.

Keynesian policies worked for 30 years then new contradictions
associated as you suggest with the falling rate of profit meant
that prohibitive rates of inflation were required to sustain
accumulation in the face of low rates of profit.

The next stage of reformism would have been to see a progressive
shift from private capital to state capital, with the state directing
investment. This would have been a progressive restructuring in
the context of the crisis of the 1970s just as the new deal was
progressive in the 30s.

To have achieved the progressive restructuring an appropriate
political balance of forces was required. I know that in the
UK the left of social democracy associated with Tony Benn had
some approximation to such a policy (The alternative economic
strategy ). I had considerable misgivings about the details
of their policy but the crucial point was that it addressed
historically necessary problems. As it turned out the social
democratic left lost out in the political struggle here,
where the crisis of profitability was more severe than in
other capitalist countries. This opened the way for the
neo-liberal restructuring carried out in the 80s.

But my point is that a theory of political economy should
not be judged on whether it is revolutionary or reformist.
It should be judged on its ability to identify causal mechanisms
and identify possible courses of action. The issue of reform
or revolution is not posed at this level, it is posed at
the level of the military coercive conjuncture.

In a restructuring crisis the first issue is whether what
happens is progress or regress in terms of social relations.
In either case this progress or regress may be by peaceful
means or by revolutionary/counter-revolutionary means, but
the issues involved here are not basically economic.

By the way you seriously misrepresent Kalecki by presenting
him as a left populariser of Keynes, his theory actually came
out before Keynes and its theoretical roots are clearly in
Marx and Luxembourg.

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