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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/19/10

What Comes After Capitalism?

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The long taboo topic of the end of capitalism seems to be in fashion recently a consequence of the deepening economic crisis that shows no signs of going away. In fact there's even a website now www.endofcapitalism.com. This isn't the first time economists have declared that capitalism was on its last legs. Many, in fact, saw the Great Depression as symptomatic of its impending failure. British parliamentarian John Strachey was clearly the most articulate in his 1933 The Coming Struggle for Power. Moreover he makes some surprisingly prophetic predictions regarding the future of post-industrial capitalism.

I find interesting parallels between Strachey's analysis and those of Monthly Review authors Paul Sweezy (who first articulated "stagnation theory" in the 1960s) and Fred Magdoff and Michael Yates in 2009. All four are strikingly non-judgmental in their approach. There is no castigation of criminal banksters, sleazy corporate lobbyists or crooked politicians. Instead they quietly point out that neither the Great Depression nor our current economic crisis is the fault of any particular individuals or groups. They argue that there are natural laws of capitalist economics, just as there are natural laws of physics - that fundamental flaws mean that no capitalist economic system can continue indefinitely.

From a somewhat different perspective Alex Knight, who edits www.endofcapitalism.com, promotes End of Capitalism Theory. This argues that capitalism is breaking down owing to ecological and social limits to the continual growth that's essential for a capitalist economy to continue.

Strachey's Crystal Ball

As he writes in 1933, Strachey is of the definite opinion that the Great Depression is symptomatic that capitalism has reached its final stage of monopoly capitalism. It isn't quite dead yet, but clearly dying. He quotes from Lenin (who had nearly 50 more years experience with capitalist boom and bust cycles than Marx did) about "monopolistic" capitalism being the last stage of capitalism when begins to "decay." Lenin (and Strachey) describe specific political/economic transformations that characterize end stage capitalize (owing to a predictable decline in profits and growth). I find it uncanny that they describe our current economic predicament so perfectly:

The monopolistic corporations that control finance capital (the commercial and investment banks) essentially merge with the monopolistic corporations that control production and manufacturing (which they have done, due to massive buy-outs and takeovers and interlocking boards)

There is increasing focus on exporting capital (which is what happens when a company shuts down a factory in the U.S. and re-opens it in southeast Asia)

National governments, which are essentially controlled by their monopolies, are constantly in conflict with one another over who will control the resources, markets and cheap labor of the Third World.

Why Capitalism Didn't Fold in 1933 - Stagnation Theory

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I am a 63 year old American child and adolescent psychiatrist and political refugee in New Zealand. I have just published a young adult novel THE BATTLE FOR TOMORROW (which won a NABE Pinnacle Achievement Award) about a 16 year old girl who (more...)
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