Celebrating 60 years: Marx spoke to 1975 economic crisis

From the May-June 2015 issue of News & Letters

Celebrating 60 years of News & Letters…

In celebrating the first 60 years of News and Letters Committees, we reprint excerpts from the Draft Perspectives for 1975-76 by Raya Dunayevskaya, the first printed in News & Letters.

THE MOVEMENT KNOWS, of course, that the class enemy is at home, within each country. It knows full well that each existing state power is weighted down with fear of revolution. And it does not fail to appreciate that, no matter how deep the intra-imperialist rivalries, capitalist class solidarity holds tightest and strongest against its own people.

Raya Dunayevskaya

Raya Dunayevskaya

It is true, of course, that the economic crisis generates new forms of revolt, and with it the objective foundation for the self-development of the masses. The passion for philosophy has long been evident, but the “leaders,” “the Party,” the “intellectuals” have hardly met the challenge from below. Two full decades have passed since the movement from practice has itself been a form of theory, but intellectuals calling themselves Marxists are deaf to its call.

Be it in East Europe where the masses fought for freedom from Russian Communist totalitarianism, or in Africa where they battled for freedom from Western imperialism, or in China where the youth challenged existing state-capitalism as well as Mao’s Thought, or the Black Revolution in the U.S.A. as well as the anti­-Vietnam war youth movement—all hungered for total solutions, but all they were offered were mid-way houses, aborted revolutions, the Thought of the Chairman.

One thing is clear and that is that all profits come and can only come from labor in that hell-hole called automated production. And capitalism knows but one way of further raising labor productivity, by forcing wages down through an ever-larger unemployed army outside, as well as through inflation. But even that has its limits. When more and more machines are used and less and less, relatively, of labor, then there is no way of stopping the decline in capitalism’s rate of profit. Not only does the very method of production bring about crises, but what exactly do the billions spent on arms produce other than destruction?

Karl Marx in the 1840s

Karl Marx in the 1840s

IN ANY CASE, Business Week (6-23-75) did suddenly start quoting what Marxist economists were saying on the decline in the rate of profit as endemic to capitalism. It even produced official graphs from the Federal Reserve Board, the Department of Commerce, Data Resources Inc. and its own data which all go to show that the long post-World War II boom has led to a slump in the rate of profits. What is significant is that they had to stop laughing at “false” Marxist analysis long enough to show that it does exist. Which is certainly something that has not heretofore been admitted even as supposedly a “passing phenomenon.”

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