Calling a recession and blaming it on interest rates

The latest US GDP figures for second quarter of 2022 renewed the debate about whether the US economy was in a recession or not.  Real GDP contracted in the second quarter of this year by a 0.9% annualised rate (or by 0.2% quarter over quarter). That meant the US economy had contracted for two successive quarters, and so ‘technically’ (by that definition) was in a recession.  Real GDP is now up only 1.6% from Q2 2021.  And business investment is slowing, up only 3.5% from this time last year, the slowest rate since the end of the COVID slump in 2020.

But calling the US economy in ‘recession’ was denied by the powers that be, like President Biden, Fed chief Jay Powell and many mainstream economists who point out that unemployment is still near all-time lows and consumer spending is strong. Moreover, it is likely that this first estimate of GDP will be revised up – it usually is.  Also, if you strip out the build-up of stocks and government spending from the GDP figures, then ‘core’ GDP did not fall in Q2.  The best measure of this ‘core’ is the value of sales (after inflation) made to Americans ie real final sales to private domestic purchasers.  On this measure, GDP was flat in Q2, while being still up 1.7% compared to Q2 2021. 

But even on this measure, the US economy is heading towards a recession, if not yet quite there now.  But what about unemployment? is the response.  That’s near all-time lows.  But unemployment is a lagging indicator for the health of an economy.  People start losing jobs only when employers stop hiring and start sacking and they don’t do that until they are sure that sales are dropping off, profits are no longer rising sufficiently or not at all; and then they cut back on investment in new factories, equipment etc.  At the moment, the US employment data show only the beginnings of a weakening situation.

The initial jobless claims (the number of people claiming benefits because they are out of work) are now on a steady rise.

And the number of new jobs available (called JOLTS) have peaked.

So what are the leading indicators of a recession: in the Marxist view, it’s profits and investment.  After reaching all-time highs, profit margins have begun to fall.

And nonresidential fixed (business) investment stagnated in Q2.  The big hit was to house-buying (called residential fixed investment).  Rising mortgage rates severely hit housing starts last quarter.  So far real personal income ex-transfers and real personal consumption haven’t dropped, but they are stagnating.  And wage income for the average American is diving in real terms as inflation spirals.

The powers that be say that you cannot call a recession unless the ‘wise men’ of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) do so and they have not yet.  For some unfathomable reason, the NBER economists have become the arbiters of an official recession and they take into account, not just GDP, but also all the other factors mentioned above. 

But the NBER always calls a recession in the long line of US recessions over the last century well after it has already happened.  And it’s worth noting that US recessions have happened just when people claim they are not happening and, most important, whether the Federal Reserve is hiking interest rates or not.  In 1957,1973 and 1980-2, recessions occurred when the Fed was raising rates, as it is now, but there were also recessions when it was not – as in 2007 before the Great Recession.

That poses the question of whether central banks have any significant effect on the economy either to sustain growth and employment and avoid slumps; or to control inflation.  That question has been debated through two new books that have recently been published or are forthcoming.  The first is by former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke, who presided over the Great Recession of 2008-9.  In it, Bernanke claims that the Fed saved the day in 2008-9 by pumping in credit for the banks and managed to keep inflation down as well.  Bernanke argues that ‘quantitative easing’ (monetary injections and bond purchases by the Fed) did not cause inflation as many monetarists and Austrian school economists claimed it would.  So central banks work.  Of course, he does not explain why there was such a huge financial crash and the ensuing slump in 2008-9, despite the good ministry of the Fed.  Apparently, that financial ‘panic’, as he calls it, was outside of the control of the central bank and can be blamed on lack of regulation.

At the other end of the spectrum, Austrian school economist, Edward Chancellor in his forthcoming book, The Price of Time: The Real Story of Interest, presents the case for laying the cause of crises and slumps fairly at the door of the Fed and in the case of the Great Recession, at Ben Bernanke himself.  Chancellor says “under Bernanke the Fed made a deliberate decision to ignore asset bubbles until they popped, seeing its job as simply repairing the damage.  The housing bubble did indeed pop, causing quite a bit more damage than the Fed seemed to expect. The Fed under Greenspan and Bernanke forgot (or ignored) lessons stretching back to Bagehot in 19 th -century England.”

The Austrian school start from the premise that the ‘market economy’ works just fine and will deliver a natural or neutral rate of interest that will balance supply and demand.  So things will then move on smoothly.  Occasionally, because of the uncertainty of making investments for the long term, interest rates will get out of line with investment needs, and there will be ‘malinvestment’, usually leading to either a slump or inflation.  These ‘business cycles’ will correct themselves, however, with a dose of unemployment and the liquidation of unproductive assets.  But when central banks interfere to try and control interest rates, they distort them from the ‘natural’ rate’ and just make things worse and provoke unnecessary ‘credit bubbles’ which can only be burst with severe damage to the otherwise perfectly working market economy. 

So for Bernanke, the issue is getting interest rates right to manage the economy; for Chancellor, it is stopping central banks interfering with interest rates and allowing the market economy to work.  From a Marxist view, both the semi-Keynesian Bernanke and the neoclassical Austrian school Chancellor are wrong because they look only at interest rates and not at the real determinant of the capitalist economy, profits and profitability.  The latter affects investment and growth much more than interest rates on borrowing.

A central bank controls only a component of the interest rate that helps determine the spread at which banks can lend, but it does not determine the rates at which banks lend to customers.  It merely influences the spread.  Aiming at the Fed’s supposed “control” over interest rates misunderstands how banks actually create money and influence economic output.

Marx denied the concept of a natural rate of interest.  For him, the return on capital, whether exhibited in the interest earned on lending money, or dividends from holding shares, or rents from owning property, came from the surplus-value appropriated from the labour of the working class and appropriated by the productive sectors of capital.  Interest was only a part of that surplus value.  The rate of interest would thus fluctuate between zero and the average rate of profit from capitalist production in an economy.  In boom times, it would move towards the average rate of profit and in slumps it would fall towards zero.  But the decisive driver of investment would be profitability, not the interest rate.  If profitability was low, then holders of money would increasingly hoard money or speculate in financial assets rather than invest in productive ones. 

What matters is not whether the market rate of interest is above or below some ‘natural’ rate, as the Austrians claim, but whether it is so high that it is squeezing any profit for investment in productive assets.  Actually, the Austrian, Knut Wicksell conceded this point. According to Wicksell, the natural rate is “never high or low in itself, but only in relation to the profit which people can make with the money in their hands, and this, of course, varies. In good times, when trade is brisk, the rate of profit is high, and, what is of great consequence, is generally expected to remain high; in periods of depression it is low, and expected to remain low.”

And the empirical evidence refutes the claim by both Bernanke and Chancellor that the setting of interest rates is key, not profits.  Indeed, the US Fed itself concluded in its own recent study that: “A fundamental tenet of investment theory and the traditional theory of monetary policy transmission is that investment expenditures by businesses are negatively affected by interest rates. Yet, a large body of empirical research offer mixed evidence, at best, for a substantial interest-rate effect on investment…., we find that most firms claim to be quite insensitive to decreases in interest rates, and only mildly more responsive to interest rate increases.”  But they are not insensitive to the profitability of their investments.

The US economy is moving into recession because profitability is falling and productive investment is stagnating.  Of course, the economy is not helped by the Fed hiking rates at the same time, but if profits and investment were doing well, interest rates could rise without damage to the economy.

It’s the same story with longer-term economic growth.  The key to sustained long-term real GDP growth is high and rising productivity of labour.  Productivity growth has been slowing towards zero in the major economies for over two decades and particularly in the Long Depression since 2010.  US labour productivity is currently falling and at its weakest for 40 years. 

In his book, Chancellor claims that this weak productivity is due to central bank interference. He explained why in the interview last week. “By aggressively pursuing an inflation target of 2% and constantly living in horror of even the mildest form of deflation, they not only gave us the ultra-low interest rates with their unintended consequences in terms of the Everything Bubble. They also facilitated a misallocation of capital of epic proportions, they created an over-financialization of the economy and a rise in indebtedness. Putting all this together, they created and abetted an environment of low productivity growth.”

According to Chancellor, ultra low interest rates led to ‘malinvestment’ and thus low productivity.  It’s true that much of the investment made in the last 20 years has gone not into productive sectors and instead has been moved into financial assets, leading to stock and bond market ‘bubbles’.  But surely the reason for that is not artificially low interest rates, but low profitability on productive investment, now near all-time post-1945 lows along with productivity growth.

64 thoughts on “Calling a recession and blaming it on interest rates

  1. There is a problem using chained dollars to determine the real increase or decrease in GDP in a period of accelerating inflation especially if the bulk of years since the base year of 2012 has been a period of subdued inflation. Thus if we look at the Implicit GDP Price deflator, it stood at 117.413 in Q2 2021 rising to 126.269 in Q2 giving an annual rate of inflation of 7.54%. But if we annualize the rate of inflation for the 6 months of recession it rises to 8.38% a difference of 0.9% or from 121.188 to 126.269. https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/GDPDEF/

    The question is posed, do we take the figure of 7.54% or the figure of 8.38% when annualizing the GDP trend. I would argue the latter figure as inflation was much lower in the first half of the year in question. Using the official figure the fall in GDP is 1.1% from Q4 rising to 1.3% when using the latter inflation figure. Furthermore Personal Consumption Expenditures which increased by 0.8% was not driven by real spending. Rather it was driven by Gross Housing Value Added which jumped by 3.2% in real terms over the quarter versus and average of 1.6% over 2021. (NIPA Table 1.3.1 https://apps.bea.gov/iTable/iTable.cfm?reqid=19&step=2#reqid=19&step=2&isuri=1&1921=survey) It is important to note that 75% of that figure is bulked up by Owner Occupied Rents, you know owners treating themselves as landlords and paying themselves a rent which has risen because of the rise in house prices. This is an imputed item, fictional, but in a period of rising house inflation as well as general inflation, it’s contribution rises as Table 1.3.1 shows.

    It is for these reasons and additional but more minor reasons, that my estimate for the annualized contraction in GDP for the two quarters is 2% which is higher than the official figure of 0.9% which means Q2 GDP is arguably no higher than Q2 2021.
    http://theplanningmotive.com/2022/07/30/at-least-fed-powell-has-stopped-saying-the-economy-is-strengthening/ This puts the current contraction in the mid range of contractions since the War.

  2. The USA is in [a technical] recession by definition (i.e. it is a definitional truth). I don’t understand why the American elites suddenly changed the meaning of the term.

    The main (structural) problem with the USA right now (therefore, also with capitalism) is that it doesn’t seem capitalism is able to initiate a new Kondratiev Cycle. The seven or so new revolutionary technologies that are being researched right now are not panning out and don’t see to going to in the foreseeable future. Indeed, an op-ed by declared pro-capitalist/West Brad Glosserman admitted precisely that last week:

    “Implementation, not innovation, is the key to economic success: The diffusion of new technologies separates winners from losers” – https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2022/07/26/commentary/world-commentary/technological-innovations/

    That is, it is slowly dawning on the capitalists and liberals that the likes of Elon Musks and other Silicon Valley unicorns are not going to deliver it to capitalism; the 2nd Cold War (against China) will be won on industrial capacity to mass produce and apply already existing technology, not on creating new ones – or at least not on creating revolutionary new ones. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is shelved.

  3. Two rude questions, I’m afraid: Doesn’t the orthodox Keynesian-style story always hinge on “expectations” in one form or another?

    And, does the Austrian school have any explanation at all as to why the business cycle is cyclical? I mean, it’s not like there’s any reason why malinvestment should lead to crises every five to ten years that I can discern, at least.

    1. Investment is prime in Keynesian theory.

      Keynes formulated a model in which interest rates are inversely related to investment (the marginal efficiency of capital schedule) except that Keynes believed investment is largely inelastic relative to interest rates.

      It was expectations which was the prime mover in investment behaviour. Expectations cause shifts in the schedule of the marginal efficiency of capital. It was these shifts that drove investment and changes in aggregate demand.

      1. But what causes those expectations? Do the capitalists simply have a good dream and, suddenly, they have good expectations, which makes the economy automatically grow?

        That’s the problem with idealism: it has no base.

      2. VK,

        Who the hell knows how expectations arise. It’s a deeply psychological process which proceeds in the face of radical uncertainty.

        In the capitalist system, economic activity is driven by the profit motive – nothing new there. Businessmen act because they believe (not know – we cannot be certain of anything) they can make a profit. That belief is subject to all kinds of enigmatic motivations.

        I cannot see that the process has anything to do with idealism.

      3. @ Henry Rech

        The “profit motive” is not a belief, but a sociometabolic necessity of the capitalist mode of production.

        You’re falling for the neokantian fallacy that everything subjective is imaginary. This isn’t true: human use their senses and their social relations to make a picture of reality, on which they act up to their possibilities. This is not belief.

        To make a profit, the capitalist has to concretely exploit labor power, which means a concrete relation of production. This is a solid base over which action is taken – very far from a simple “belief”.

      4. VK,

        You have misconstrued my sentence.

        Yes, I agree with, “The “profit motive” is ….a necessity of the capitalist mode of production.”. (No idea what “sociometabolic” means.)

        When I say “believe” I mean expect. Yes, they want to make profit but there are times when they believe/expect that future conditions will not be propitious for the making of profit so they do not engage in new investment.

  4. I agree with the NBER on one thing, and that is that it doesn’t make much sense to characterize a recession as a contraction that lasts two quarters. I also agree that a recession is a combination of three factors: duration, depth and generalization of the contraction. Although it is not necessary that all 3 are fulfilled, it may be that 2 of 3 is enough. The contraction during the pandemic recession (still according to the NBER) lasted only 2 months (Peak to Trough), but it was very deep and undoubtedly general in caracter. So much so that it ended up generating the biggest annual drop in gdp in 70 years or so. As for the denialism around the current recession both by the inept government of Biden and by the FED, I think it is due to purely political reasons: mid-term elections.

    1. The problem is the timing: the USA never had any problem with the definition of technical recession. Why does it have a problem with it right now, precisely after the WH, through its spokeswoman, refused to accept the term?

      1. Yes, of course I agree with you. What I said is that it’s not necessary two consecutive quarters contraction for declare “technical recession”. In fact, I think the term “technical recession” is a myth of economic journalism. For example, the reason why the pandemic crisis spanned two quarters (Q1 and Q2 2020), is because the contraction occurred between the last month of Q1 and the first month of Q2. What would have happened if the contraction had occurred entirely in Q1 or Q2? Wouldn’t there have been a “technical recession”? It’s ridiculous. Now, saying that 2 consecutive quarters of contraction are NOT NEEDED is not the same as saying that 2 quarters of contraction IS NOT A RECESSION. That is why I criticized the denialism of the Biden administration, and why I argued that this denialism is based on political necessity: midterm elections. But it looks like you didn’t read that part of my comment.

  5. O course the idiocy of forcing currency-issuing governments to borrow from private sector financiers during a pandemic is now obvious.

  6. As the average real wage of the producers declines, the rate and amount of total profit can and does increase. The wealth producers are constantly being told that they and ‘their’ government are in debt. The reality is that the working class is not in debt to the capitalist class; the opposite is the case.

  7. Another concise exposition on where we are at.
    Can you review efforts by capital to re-engineer economics to manage without growth? Is there any thinking going on?
    Some say the UK economy has doubled in size during my working life (40y). This is unsustainable. Where will we be in 2100?

  8. Question: If increases in labor productivity come from rising organic composition of capital, and rising OCC is the basis of the tendency of the rate of profit to decline, doesn’t increased labor productivity undermine the rate of profit over the long haul? Therefore is your statement “The key to sustained long-term real GDP growth is high and rising productivity of labour. ” only true in the short term, but undermining profitability in the long term?

    1. The rise in the technical composition of capital is like gravity tugging on the rate of profit. The fact that it can rise like a glider defying this gravity is due to the updrafts generated by the counter-vailing tendencies, such as the devaluation or destruction of capital, the rise in exploitation, the export of capital and so on. But these counter-vailing tendencies are temporary while the growing gravity is permanent as long as means of production function as capital because they are privately owned. Chapter 15 in volume 3 of Capital explains it all.

  9. In the USA the ruling class (Fed, capitalist economists, etc.) hides the recession and in Europe they cover it up. As Brian Green says in his last article, someone should tell Eurostat that European tourists do not visit several countries at the same time to thus increase the European GDP. They will not be able to cover the recession any longer.
    My prediction is that this recession is here to stay. The continued fall in capitalist growth since the 1980s has reached a recession and/or zero growth. A global, slow and permanent recession that will be the last and liquidating recession of the capitalist mode of production. The theory of the revolutionary cycle gives a socialist revolution around the year 2040 and, I hope not to be pedantic and pretentious, that date determines and requires a serious and long economic recession beforehand. Revolutionary cycle that is a modified Kondratieff cycle in its ultimate cause, but that is another topic
    The 3 main trap-contradictions (capital-labour, environment and geopolitics, as M. Roberts teaches) of the mode of production COME TOGETHER AND ADD, and the war in Ukraine is the trigger. The current trap of inflation and recession is only a detail of the general trap. Which is the general trap of class society. The trap of separate accounts and classes of productive capital across countries, firms, and individuals. The trap that extinguishes the model. A trap that, moreover, accelerates the habitual concentration of capital in monopolistic companies that eliminate their competitors (and their employment), as already happened in the 2008 and Covid19 crises. Why would governments and monopoly capitals want to stop anything? Why would they want to stop what they themselves have allowed and/or provoked?
    Only the people who really lose with the recession and the war will stop this ongoing social collapse: the working classes. And his solution has only one well-known name: a socialist revolution.

    1. It may be the case that Kondratiev Cycle is not a true cycle of capitalism, but just the longest cycle, therefore only a possible (i.e. historical) cycle. I don’t know if there is a study about this, but my guess would be that, the shortest the cycle, the more “guaranteed” or “automatic” and, therefore, “cyclical” (and not structural) it is.

      If capitalism could always guarantee a Kondratiev Cycle, then it really would be a trans-historical mode of production, one that could last forever, because then the development of the productive forces could proceed forever under capitalism, making the concept of the necessity of a [Communist] revolution superfluous.

      1. Revolutionary cycle and Kondratieff cycle are the same cycle. And, for that reason, the K cycle is not a cycle that only happens in Capitalism. It happened, it happens and it will happen in all modes of production.
        I will only make this single comment to avoid monopolizing the blog of the excellent M. Roberts. I will tell you briefly how I got to the two cycles because I think that way you will understand it better. 3 or 4 years before knowing the Kondratieff cycle I began to study the revolutionary cycles. When I learned about the K cycle, a very high coincidence in the start and end dates of the two cycles caught my attention. The Italian academic Stefano Screpanti saw that same coincidence and asked himself the same question that I did about whether the known technological cause (since J. Schumpeter) of the K cycle was correct or not. The answer is that technology alone does not generate growth across the board in a country or group of countries. Sufficient proof of this is that all the great innovations since the 1980s (robotics, digital, computing, etc.) do not generate any growth in a period of clear decline in growth throughout the capitalist system. And it is a period in which innovations, only initially acquired by large companies, take up to 4 decades to reach all companies. It is useless to growth that Microsoft, Tesla, IBM, Toyota innovate if that innovation is not spread quickly to all companies. So what generated the growth associated with technology in Capitalism, especially in the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century? Its rapid and global spread did. Innovation + its immediate diffusion is the winning formula. This is how the author of his linked article explains it and this is how I have explained it in a previous comment (in response to one of yours about the K cycle) and this is how other authors have done it (for example Nicholas Crafts and Pieter Woltje). But the author of your linked article does not explain how a wide diffusion of technology to all companies is generated. And that question only has one answer: only a revolution does. Because? Because it is the only historical medium with the capacity to expand ownership (by expanding the number of owners) of productive capital and personal wealth to a growing group of citizens. And after this increase in the number of owners of the capital and its corresponding increase in the social purchasing power is when the diffusion of the technology arrives. Therefore, the sequence in correct temporal order and its causal order is: 1st Revolution with an increase in the number of owners of capital and the corresponding increase in the number of buyers and 2nd Increase in the diffusion of technology in society. In Capitalism those revolutions were 3 main: Glorious English, French and American. There were 3 revolutions that expanded the ownership of companies and general wealth to a larger group of citizens. Companies that in Feudalism were only owned by the nobles and their relatives with a low historical growth of 0.5% GDP/year compared to 1.5% in Capitalism and its joint-stock companies with multiple bourgeois partners. In short, revolutions increase the size and number of owners of companies and growth skyrockets. The initial and revolutionary Capitalism of the 19th century tripled the growth rate of Feudalism. That was the capitalist growth that amazed Karl Marx. Modelski and Thompson have detected K cycles in Europe as late as the 9th century. Then you realize that all K cycles have an initial revolution and you link the two cycles into a single cycle. Why doesn’t Capitalism still have the capacity to spread technology in a fast way that generates growth? Because Capitalism has stopped making revolutions. It has stopped making revolutions that expand the ownership of productive capital. And it is that this power to make revolutions that expand the ownership of capital has been “stolen” from Capitalism by the socialist revolutions. It has been stolen from it by its substitute socialist mode of production since the Russian revolution of 1917. And so the USSR and Eastern European countries grew up to 6.5% in the 20th century until the 1980s, and China has also done so at two-digit annual growth until not long ago. In other words, socialist growth has multiplied by 5 the capitalist growth of the 19th century. The western Golden Age is actually a Semi-Socialism because its States, driven by the Russian and Chinese revolutions, grew as main producing agents from 10% to 60/70% of the total GDP, thus reducing the production of the capitalist private sector. Again, as in the capitalist nineteenth century, it is the expansion of the scale of companies, the scale of their owners and their associated technology that gives growth.
        Therefore, there will be no Kondratieff cycle that saves the Capitalism and there will only be, in 20-30 years, a Kondratieff cycle post-socialist revolution. For the fact that this revolution must take place in the temporary environment of the date 2040, I will leave its explanation for another occasion for the reason of not saturating the blog. But there are 4/5 economic and political factors (temporary symmetry of the phases, capitalist reports of global economic collapse, falling capitalist profit rate, etc.) that sufficiently support its validity.

      2. I agree with the premise that, if capitalism operates in cycles (it does), then revolution attempts must also happen in cycles. But that’s just for the specific case of capitalism, not other modes of production.

        There is no evidence of any revolution attempts in Antiquity (unless you want to, erroneously, treat slave revolts as revolution attempts) and Feudalism. Both systems were too close to nature, and were more susceptible to collapses – some of which resulted in de facto regime changes and may even have had some revolutionary flavor – induced by Nature – specially long planetary droughts and plagues – than by some kind of class consciousness.

        So, for example, the Bronze Age collapsed due to a very long and vast drought, which starved the entire Eastern Mediterranean except Egypt (the only Bronze Age empire which survived its end, even though at an extremely high, irreversible cost), which then, after decades, may have triggered some revolutions in this or that city, but was not its cause (the ending blow was delivered by the Sea Peoples’ invasion). Rome in the West was killed by accident by the Gothic invaders. Feudalism died by slow advancing cancer (the rise of capitalism within it, through a series of reforms and crises, and the accidental creation of a parallel system in the colonies).

        I don’t think the Kondratiev Cycle applies to other modes of production. That would be your personal hypothesis, I believe.

        –//–

        That the Kondratiev Cycle must be capitalism’s longest cycle, and, as its longest cycle, configures itself as a pseudo-cycle and not a true cycle, makes perfect logical sense through the lenses of dialectical materialism and don’t need anything further than simple empirical demonstration (i.e. data gathering) to test its validity. Every economic theory must presuppose the mode of production it is modeled after is given (as it is its object of study), which makes every point of contact between it and History (the world as a whole) a point of singularity.

        Hence, it is not surprising economic theory and equations “break” when trying to analyze the Kondratiev Cycle. They can’t – and will never be able to – explain how capitalism ensures technological revolutions for the simple fact that capitalism can never guarantee technological revolutions. Technological revolutions do not only depend on the effort of the mode of production alone, but also on luck and on the mercy and the limits imposed by the objective material world (Nature). This is self-evident because it is given, by axiom, that Humanity is not the center of the universe; its existence does not depend and will never depend on humanity.

    2. Antonio,

      “Only the people who really lose with the recession and the war will stop this ongoing social collapse: the working classes.”

      It seems that no-one has remembered to inform the working classes of their expected role.

      The workjng classes in the West are turning towards nationalist right wing politics.

      The armchaired and slippered revolutionary intellectuals may have to man the barricades themselves.

      1. One last answer because, as I have already said, I am worried about saturating the blog with this topic.
        “Revolutionary intellectuals in armchairs and slippers may have to man the barricades themselves.” Yes, you are right. Surely, and not because of a macabre revolutionary desire, but because of a suffocating economic reality, we will have to do it. I the first. The necessary explanatory theory must be attached to practice. I have been taught by all revolutionaries: from Marx to even all your previous liberal-capitalist revolutionaries of previous centuries. It is the practice, the economic reality of an ongoing social collapse caused by the coming permanent recession, that will bring us to the streets. If there is no prior economic collapse there will be no revolution. That is all. Revolutions only happen in the worst economic times and not before. Not a minute before, to put it graphically. And the previous economic and social collapse must have affected a hegemonic social majority and not just isolated sectors or regions. But the global economic recession is here to stay. Don’t hesitate.
        “It seems that no one has remembered to inform the working classes of their expected role.” “The working classes of the West are turning to right-wing nationalist politics.” Yes, you are right again but only partially. His argument has these flaws: 1º He only sees the short term of a permanent recession that has just begun. Look at the press, television, etc. in 10 years. Even earlier, in 5 and 2 years. Just as one more example of many around the world, in my country, Spain, in these very days, the newscasts of the main television networks are full of surprising and innovative news from the primary sector (agriculture and livestock) with companies that indicate lost 20/30/40 of its production in this summer scorched by the heat waves of climate change. Production losses of 40%! And the heat waves just started this year. This is the 2nd Contradiction (Environmental) of capitalism. Of the other two Contradictions (Geopolitics and Capital-Work) I understand that you do not need me to provide you with any data because you already know them. As I have said, in my point of view, the sum of the 3 Contradictions in conflict cannot be stopped and will cause the final collapse of the Model. 2nd defect: It only sees the official political market. And yes, it is true that today that political “supermarket” only has reformist left and nationalist right options on its shelves. Then, the worker-voter can only choose those options on the shelf, switching from one side to another to look for a political offer that will stop his decreasing wages. But, you are forgetting the total electoral market. You’re forgetting about people who don’t vote. It forgets the growing Abstention that already reaches 50% of the electorate in the entire World-System constituting the majority real party. Again, you will have to wait for 10 years (or sooner) to see that these people and the rest who vote for official parties have decided not to expect anything from official parties and have decided to go out into the streets and barricades. And a revolutionary party will accompany them.

      2. Antonio,

        If things keep going the way the are, you will probably be correct.

        But change is not impossible. Capitalism has saved itself before.

        Firstly, just to get it out of the way, the climate crisis is not merely a product of capitalism. It would take something to convince me that a socialist system would respond any differently to the climate change threat. There will always be people who doubt the science. And if even if the science is believed there will be people who will weigh up the costs of particular forms of action differently. There would also still be uncertainty about which courses of action to take.

        Regarding change. It is possible. For instance there are moves in the US to form a true centre party. The extreme political polarization in the US is devastating to its society. Left and right wing extremism will not work. It is forcing change. Society can be improved without the wholesale destruction of existing forms.

        It seems to me that Marx based his dialectical science solely on the relations of production. He ignored human nature. Human beings do have the capacity for compassion, decency and fairness as well as the proclivity for selfish and brutish behaviour.

        And there is also the question of whether the pandemic has shifted what humanity at large values. It might be an important factor.

      3. UCBP,

        “You are so wrong. Here even trade union leaders are actively considering a general strike while the state is gearing up against mass action.”

        Aren’t you confusing the expected revolutionary role of the working class against its industrial role?

      4. H.Rech
        ‘’It would take something to convince me that a socialist system would respond differently to the threat of climate change’’
        Socialism or Capitalism for climate change?. Let’s see if this works for you. The key to the difference between the two models is that socialism eliminates private (and individual) ownership of the companies-means of production, creating a single social productive property. If you eliminate private property, you eliminate the possibility that some private producers will take out and increase their profits in economic crises. And, then, you eliminate the interest of those few in maintaining and even fomenting and provoking crises. And if no one has an economic interest in generating crises, society will solve them more effectively and quickly. All crises: war, covid19, climate change. I guess there is no need to give you current data on the extraordinary increases in profits of energy companies (B.P., Shell, Exxon, Repsol, etc.) today thanks to the war in Ukraine. And also the arms companies grow. And you also do not need data on the increase in wealth of Amazon, and its main shareholder Jeff Bezos, and other technology companies of other large capitalists, just for the reason of the industrial and commercial closures generated by Covid19. Said simply and with some humor: Amazon and Jeff Bezos would be delighted if Covid19 lasted a few more years in order to generate profits that would give them to build more rockets and personal tourist-space trips. In the Climate Change crisis , the same phenomenon of acceleration of capital concentration with its increase in profits will occur in the primary sector (agriculture, livestock) and the agri-food industry, with monopolistic companies (Nestle, Danone, Unilever, etc.) that are already benefiting of the closure of small businesses that cannot bear the serious losses caused by extreme weather.

      5. “But change is not impossible. Capitalism has saved itself before.”
        Just like how the peasants in the 18th century thought that feudalism would last forever.
        “Firstly, just to get it out of the way, the climate crisis is not merely a product of capitalism.”
        All the major corporations are smiling and saying, ‘Yes Henry. Be a good boy and lick our boots while we mine the arctic and emit methane into the air’.
        “It would take something to convince me that a socialist system would respond any differently to the climate change threat.”
        Under Stalin, the USSR underwent a forestation program where trees were planted and deforestation was forbidden. It would take a disingenuous smooth brain to believe that a planned economy is not more capable of fighting against climate change than a market economy.
        “There will always be people who doubt the science. And if even if the science is believed there will be people who will weigh up the costs of particular forms of action differently. There would also still be uncertainty about which courses of action to take.”
        The climate denialism is largely due to misinformation spread by capitalists and their media. In a planned economy, everyone would be aware of the situation and the proletarian state would take any measures necessary. A radical transformation in ways of life are possible under planned economies, but impossible under capitalism.
        “It seems to me that Marx based his dialectical science solely on the relations of production. He ignored human nature. Human beings do have the capacity for compassion, decency and fairness as well as the proclivity for selfish and brutish behaviour.”
        Muh human nature. Human nature is shaped by the environment. Under hunter-gatherer societies, where class in a Marxian sense did not exist, it was human nature to collaborate because everyone’s relations to the means of production was the same. Under class societies like capitalism, this is not the case. Under socialism/communism, there are no classes, so it would be human nature to collaborate just like in hunter-gatherer societies.

        All in all, you seem like a reformist at best who seeks to reform capitalism because the thought of revolution scares you. So you try to convince yourself that capitalism did not cause the climate apocalypse and that capitalism can live on forever so that you would not have to admit that your ideology is flawed and against human nature. You then project this insecurity onto socialists and communists by claiming Marx didn’t understand human nature. But thankfully your wishful thinking has no bearing on reality and capitalism will inevitably die very soon. No amount of prayers or essays on the internet can keep it alive this time. It sucks that humanity would go extinct due to an obsolete mode of production based on profit, but it is what it is. At least I get to have the pleasure of watching the complete collapse of capitalism 🙂

      6. Antonio,

        Your argumentation is very poor.

        Arguing that capitalism will not manage climate change adequately is not an argument why socialism will.

        And in reality, it has been the bourgeoisie and business that have been the prime movers in having effective climate policy. Business, partly out of altruism, but also, because they can see profit.

        Socialist planners and managers are just as susceptible to pressures as are capitalists.

        China for instance is building over 40 coal fired power stations despite avowing the need to mitigate climate change.

        Reality cannot be ascertained through the very narrow slit of Marxist dialectical “science”.

      7. Nate D’Costa,

        “Human nature is shaped by the environment. ”

        Human nature is not shaped by the environment. The environment shapes the way human beings behave.

        Human nature is innate. Marx, as far as I can see, ignored this and focused on one narrow aspect of the environment, production relations.

        “All in all, you seem like a reformist at best who seeks to reform capitalism because the thought of revolution scares you.”

        The first part is true and there is probably some truth in the second part. And you think revolution is a pleasant walk in the park.

        “So you try to convince yourself that capitalism did not cause the climate apocalypse…”

        Firstly, that’s just bullshit. I don’t try to convince myself of any such thing.

        Capitalism, and just as easily, socialism, is and can be responsible for environmental vandalism. Look at the environmental disasters of the Soviet Union.

        ” At least I get to have the pleasure of watching the complete collapse of capitalism”

        Yes, no doubt from the comfort of your armchair, enjoying the cosy warmth of your slippers. 🙂

  10. But consciousness of the universe, earthly nature, and its own species nature is a specifically human and evoloving creation and responsible, for example, for your responce to Antonio.

    1. Note: “response” doesn’t have a “c” in it. …But on a more serious note, it would seem that most educated people (even among the bourgeoisie) believe that capitalism is responsible for the destruction of the natural world and its own civilization, whereas working people of the so-called Global South, educted and uneducated, live this reality. So Antonio’s prediction is supported both by theory and the evolution of human consciousness, but, of course, guarantees nothing.

  11. vk
    I’m sorry, but I didn’t understand much of your answer. And I don’t think it’s a problem of little understanding of mine because a little (quite a lot, I would say) of economy and revolutions I must know, no doubt about it. Therefore I will not debate because I do not see the possible debate in their “strange” arguments. I suspect that I have made a mistake by giving him so much explanation about the cycles because he has understood little or nothing. I know that strong economic knowledge is necessary to begin to accept them and study their validity, as my own personal experience in their dissemination indicates. To the non-expert reader, business cycles seem like ‘science fiction’ but they are, in fact, hard economic science. I suggest you study the “Cycles by Cycles” chapter of the book “The Great Recession” by M. Roberts. And don’t forget to study, in that same chapter, the revolutionary hypothesis of Kondratieff cycles. Only two corrections to his comment, a comment that has multiple corrections to make that I will not do. 1º.-The K. cycles in Feudalism are not my hypothesis. I give a lot of credit to the hypothesis but it is original from Modelski and Thompson, as I already indicated. They are two prestigious American academics. 2º.- The revolutions in Feudalism and in Antiquity did not exist? I do not understand at all how any historian can say this. The evidence of the revolutions is immense but this is not the time to review it. I will only leave you with a quote from someone you should know: ”revolutions are the engine of history”. But it is possible that neither K. Marx nor I have studied the same history as you.

    1. You said that “(…) the K cycle is not a cycle that only happens in Capitalism.” I disagreed with that, and gave my opinion on it.

      Before Capitalism (and even then, only after its industrial revolution), modes of production were, ultimately, natural economies, that is, nature was still the decisive factor in determining their long-term survival and evolution. Capitalism was the first mode of production where humanity gains control of nature to the economic scale, i.e. it gains conscience of Nature as something that can be systematically and consistently instrumentalized for sociometabolic reproductive purposes (Marx said that in more precise, elegant terms somewhere in Capital and/or Grundrisse). That means that, before capitalism, major technological developments only happened by accident, not by design.

      Capitalism is the first mode of production that tried to reign in technological developments, which, in this context, means submitting it to a cycle. My opinion is that this attempt can only ever partially succeed, because technological revolutions mean the development of the productive forces. Since the development of the productive forces tend to revolutions and deaths and births of modes of production, it is patent that capitalism cannot and will not keep Kondratiev Cycles going on forever.

      –//–

      @ mandm

      That’s only valid for the human world — i.e. only until human imagination can go. If, for example, a huge meteor crashes on Earth and extinguishes the homo sapiens, there’s nothing humanity can do about it; the universe will always have “the last word”, so to speak.

      The Earth will be destroyed when the Sun become a red star, which is circa 5 billion years from now, (i.e. when its helium runs out). Life on Earth will certainly disappear long before this deadline, and the homo sapiens will certainly be extinct long before life disappears from Earth. Science refutes the anthropocentric universe hypothesis (which includes here all religion).

      Both me and Antonio are humans (therefore, we are and are in the human world), so this logic doesn’t break my argument.

      1. VK, my point didn’t address the scientific question (no argument with you there) but the moral one raised by ecosocialism, the anthropocene, etc.–the extinction question. Too much attention to that question, humanly speaking, is a distraction from our real problem, the one that can be addressed: capitalism.

        William Blake put it this way: “If the sun would doubt, it would go out.”

  12. All this waffle about socialist production is anachronistic in the age of AI and IT. Greed is part of the human condition; the best way the state can intervene in markets, for the betterment of all, is via commanding the issuance of debt-free money via its central bank.

    Look at the covid debt now crippling all nations – debt which must be repaid to private financiers. Madness.. .

    1. If greed was generalised we would not have capitalism where the many work for the few but socialism where workers work for themselves by receiving back what they contribute after collectively agreed deductions. This has always been the contradiction concerning greed.

      1. There’s a difference in connotation/denotaton between greed and need. Greed has a negative connotation and denotes self-ishness. Need has a more positive connotation and denotes socialization/cooperation. “Greed is good” only to neoliberal ideolgogues.

    2. There’s no evidence this thing you call “greed” exists. As far as I know, it is Christian, neoplatonic propaganda created in the USA somewhere during the Cold War.

      The homo sapiens is an apex predator (trophic level five). It differs from other apex predators in that it is a social species (albeit not eusocial) and is an omnivore species, which allows it to reproduce to levels never seen before and to inhabit almost any part of the planet.

      It is common for apex predators to kill each other (intra and inter-species) for territory, so yes, in this sense, humans will never stop competing against each other and killing each other. But there’s a way to keep that to a minimum: develop the productive forces to a level where there is enough for everybody, making “territorial dispute” negligible. Marx had already solved the “human condition” question more than one century and a half before; his theory doesn’t require an ideal human.

      1. As usual, you base your moral deductions on the highest abastract categories, in this case “species being'”, from whch you coldly abstract out moral values. Yet you conclude by hoping that it is desirable that under perfect conditions of communism, human should finally not eat one another.

        ..Marx’s dialectic leaves room for moral choices. It lead him to his scientific critique of the stupendous productive and cruel capitalist mode of production, which led to his revolutionary conclusions, which require the will to resist.

      2. Retired science teacher button pushed here: “Eusocial” is not a well-articulated or widely spread concept and needs elucidating here. It seems to me set a bar for the social nature of humans by comparing to the eusocial insects, which is rather too far removed in phylum to count. It is a moot question I think whether humans can even successfully reproduce on a large scale outside the group, which strikes me as a much more reasonable notion of eusocial.

        Worse maybe, is the conclusion that omnivores will replicate the territorialism of predator species. This strikes me as a non sequitur or a wild leap or whatever you want to call it. If war was about food, reproduction of population, it might be reasonable to conclude it’s because humans are predators. But is this true at all?

      3. @ both

        This is not a “high abstraction” because Marxism presupposes human beings are natural beings (i.e. a species). As a natural species. Even though Marxism only requires us to take this as a given, by extension we must deduce there must be a material base for the homo sapiens as a biological species.

        Since the homo sapiens is not an eusocial species, it is given that class is not natural, but a social (historical) construct (the non-communists state that class is natural).

        Human beings are biologically capable of having a variety of feelings (hate, anger, love, sadness, grief etc.). All of them make a human, human, therefore they will never go away, with or without communism. To claim humans will behave absolutely different in communism is falling for the liberal fallacy of the “pursuit of happiness” (i.e. that happiness is the end goal of all of human existence).

        My argument is that “greed” is not a “feeling”, but just an idealist term to designate the pattern of behavior of the capitalist class. The thing is we don’t need this concept to explain capitalist behavior, and we don’t observe it empirically: capitalists don’t have an innate instinct that tells them “to have one billion dollars instead of one million dollars”, they have to keep amplified reproduction of their businesses for the simple fact they will be destroyed by other capitalists if they don’t. There are precise economic laws that determine a capitalist must accumulate indefinitely and ad infinitum. We don’t need the Christian concept of greed – not even as an umbrella term.

      4. @vk

        Greed isn’t “neoplatonic propaganda” “created in the USA somewhere during the Cold War”, and it’s not something that just Christians think about, either; it’s a concept that virtually every civilization and religion has attempted to define and explain since antiquity, from the Greeks to east Asians to Africans to the Indigenous tribes of the Americas. Plenty of these communal societies throughout history (what Marx dubbed “primitive communism” in Capital, Vol. III) referred to greed in one way or another from both oral stories and written records.

        Yes, capitalists have certainly used the subject of greed for their own propagandistic purposes, but we need to be careful not to assert things that are untrue.

      5. @ vk

        You might be surprised to know that some will agree with you that greed isn’t a feeling; they’d say it’s a choice. One doesn’t feel greedy; one acts greedy, in this case by deliberately dispossessing workers and/or refusing to allow them to control the means of production in the spirit of goodwill, cooperation, and respect. You had better hope that that behavior will be different with another system, or it’s doomed to unravel before it even gets off the ground.

        Anyway, currently, you may not see the necessity for this or other moral categories. The problem is that you’re going to have an impossible time convincing others that they can do better than capitalism without admitting to others (and yourself) that there is indeed a moral impetus here. If the pursuit of happiness is just a liberal, bourgeois idea, and so is greed, and we only need empirical observations, then we’re in a lot of trouble. The logical conclusion of this disastrous perspective is crystal-clear: empirically, we see that things live and die all the time. Planets, stars, etc. are born and die all the time. So what if capitalists want to accumulate and expand, and at your expense? The universe goes on. What’s the big deal, then? Stopping wars? Saving the human species? Aren’t stopping wars and safeguarding humanity bourgeois ideas? Who cares about those things? It all is what it is, right?

        I refuse to believe that greed and the pursuit of happiness are just “liberal fallacies” of no consequence. I hope you will, as well.

    3. Right, and all this magical thinking that “all the state has to do is…” raise itself above those mere mortals incurably infected with greed and print money isn’t a bit anachronistic– doesn’t embody the anachronism of Hegel’s state as the apotheosis of reason while combining it with the fantasies of the shopkeeper class.

    4. “All this waffle about socialist production is anachronistic in the age of AI and IT. ”

      Why? AI technology only enhances the case for socialism since it shows definitively that the Austrian school “planning is impossible” narratives are false, economic planning is trivially easy with the aid of computers.

      “Greed is part of the human condition; the best way the state can intervene in markets, for the betterment of all, is via commanding the issuance of debt-free money via its central bank.”

      What do the two clauses even have to do with each other? Even if greed is “part of the human condition” how does the MMT pitch logically follow from that alleged fact? And if greed is “part of the human condition” doesn’t that show your MMT utopia can never actually become reality since greedy people have no interest in the “betterment of all” as you call it? Of course, your little plan cannot work, greed or no greed, because state money, like all money in capitalism, ultimately derives its value from labor and there is no printing press can print labor. The “power to tax” does not give money value, the opposite is the case (at least in capitalism), capitalist governments can only tax the public as long as the capitalist economy is functional and it cannot function if the law of value were to utterly break down due to government money printing sprees in which case the capitalist class would put its might together to depose the state.

      “Look at the covid debt now crippling all nations – debt which must be repaid to private financiers. Madness.. .”

      Not madness, perfectly rational from the finance capitalists that hold the predominant power in global capitalism.

    5. To expand on my initial reply, the utopian “money printing” scheme you propose is just a watered down, shamefaced version of socialist state economic planning which, even if it (MMT) were a valid notion, does not really change anything vis a vis the need for socialist revolution. The state is not some neutral arbiter of power, bourgeois democracy is not real democracy: the state must be taken over by the working class if your plan is to even be attempted because such a plan would necessarily entail a massive shift in the balance of power between the capitalist and the working class. Let’s say an MMT government somehow came to power through the mechanism of bourgeois democracy (despite the media monopolies, the CIA and so on), do you think the ultra-rich would just idly sit by while “Their” wealth and power were redistributed to those who they view as their slaves? This isn’t to say that a revolutionary socialist state couldn’t use monetary policy during the transition phase but the idea that all we need is to vote people in who “understand” that “governments can create debt-free money” (as if the oligarchs who control the money supply don’t perfectly understand what they are doing) is just utopian nonsense.

  13. If human nature guarantees there will be no socialism ever, then it is not clear why it is necessary for any amateur culture warriors to haunt socialist websites to fight the wrong ideas of socialism. No wrong ideas will ever defeat necessity, against human nature no more than against inanimate nature.

    On the other hand: If human nature means an irremediable human selfishness, then it follows as night after day that the selfish working classes will inevitably struggle against their betters at the point of production. And no amount of amateur culture war on socialist websites will eradicate this evil, any more than sermons will eradicate crime or infidelity.

    In practice of course, despite the liberal misuse of the phrase “human nature,” somehow this irresistible force has met many immovable objects. The results have uniformly been, despite the alleged universal human nature, the prime mover of society, somehow bot the past and other lands have repeatedly not been the same. Human nature is usually a highly ideological concept. I would suggest that one aspect of human nature, the ability to learn, means that technology to use the term broadly, keeps changing the way people think, i.e., “human nature” as it in practice rather than apologetics for the time-honored evils. (Some people dismiss this as technological determinism, but since technology is unpredictable, it is more technological indeterminism.)

    But all this is really only a problem for Henry Rech so far as I can see, so apologies to any others reading.

    1. “Human nature is usually a highly ideological concept.”

      Yes, this is the nub of the inadequacy of the Marxist “scientific” quest.

      Human nature is not an ideological concept. Human nature evolved long before the notion of production relations was conceived.

      “And no amount of amateur culture war on socialist websites ..”

      Not much unlike the narrow minded musings of armchaired, slippered intellectual revolutionaries.

      1. Discussion of reality is something like the spread of perfume through the air. It is invisible and not even a microscope can see it. Someone not paying attention may carelessly think the aroma was suddenly there, instead of slowly diffusing in a material process. So, yes, amazing as it is to think, musings of even your imaginary version of intellectuals can have an individually negligible effect, even while collectively contributing to material changes. Shocking but true.

        But that’s not true of your nonsense. Your notion of a human nature that is like inanimate nature is nonsense, ideological. The invocation of evolution suggests cryptofascist scientific racism is your inspiration, but where you got the drivel is irrelevant. Your notion of human nature cannot explain the actual variations in human behavior we see in even a cursory study of the past or other extant societies. I suppose at bottom you “think” of it all as PR and PR takes money and that means the rich will rule forever.

      2. Your mistake isn’t in the postulation of a human nature, but in attributing this so-called idealist concept of “greed” to this human nature.

        Marxism already takes human as it is in the real world as given – in fact, it is the only theory in Humanities that do so nowadays.

      3. stevenjohnson,

        The power of words is palpable, it seems.

        Mention armchairs and slippers and a torrent of petulance arrives.

        You have no arguments to make so you resort to the strawman and blithely distort everything I say.

        “The invocation of evolution suggests cryptofascist scientific racism is your inspiration…”

        I just about fell out of my chair laughing when I read this.

        Take a chill pill ol’ boy.

      4. “You have no arguments to make so you resort to the strawman and blithely distort everything I say.”

        Projecting again, Henry.

        That description certainly applies to you You have no argument to make so you rely on that religious apology for capitalism, “It’s human nature.” And then you add your strawmen of armchair revolutionists.

      5. AC,

        ” You have no argument to make so you rely on that religious apology for capitalism, “It’s human nature.”

        What are you talking about? I expect more from you than that kind of nonsense.

        I made an assertion regarding Marx and human nature. You either accept it or not.

        “And then you add your strawmen of armchair revolutionists.”

        That’s me having an opinion about the people who write comments in this forum.

        I’m sure you don’t like it but as far as I am concerned it’s accurate.

        You guys rave on about the working class bringing the revolution. What are YOU actually doing to foster same, as in action on the ground. Zilch as far as I can see.

        You are big talkers, and when it comes down to it, afraid of your own shadows.

      6. That’s where we differ, Henry. I don’t expect anything better from you.

        At the same time, you have secured a place on the list of people I intend to keep on disappointing.

    2. Human nature, or Species Being, does not consist of a static collection of interacting human characteristic, but evolves, obviously socially and consciously more than than physically. If “greed” as VK points out, is an artificial concept, it was not created the day before yesterday as a mere word/concept by a group of Western polyannas, but is an English term that describes forms of human behavior, under certain social conditions, which Engles believed originated in the prehisoric subjugation of the female of the species and the establishment of patriarchal, hierarchal social orders. For obvious reasons related to the reproduction of early social orders, prehistorical social orders were female-centered and egalitarian. Need was not necessarily greed, as vk seems to believe.

      It would be foolish to morally wish away our own history, but more foolish to view even basic human natue (even our natural greediness) as unaffected by social/historical change.The present crisis of the capitalist political/economic global order has opened up all the props of this patriarchal hierarchy to question.

      …Maybe Guevara’s wistful hope for the evolution of socialist “man” (he should have added “woman”) is possible.

      1. I’m not sure if you mean to attack my comment, or not? At any rate, though Engels sketched a view of history according to the best science of his day, I’m not sure Lewis Henry Morgan and Bachofen are still the best science. In particular I don’t know what the subjugation of women means when humans were still in peril of their lives from other animal organisms.

        And greed as concept seems to trace back more to the origin of money. The desire for money has no satiation, nor even a limit in pathological cases. Even a glutton can eat only so much, but the rich can never have enough.

        Henry Rech cannot explain why human nature doesn’t still make some men slavers and others slaves. Or even why grave robbing is so rare today. Highwaymen are a thing of the past in most places, but human nature is still the same.

  14. There’s plenty of evidence for the existence (and subversion)–anthopoIogical, archeological, in ancient epic, classical drama, and in recent field studies all over the globe–of matrilenial social orders. What I object to are strictly technical interpretations of human “history” (for Marx, a ” history of class struggle”). The subjugation of women means taking their naturally given control of social reproduction from women and putting it in the hands of men, which is to say, alienating women’s sexuality as well as their “labor” in the production of society’s most essential product: human beings. The devil, of course, is in the details. Technicians tend not to have much of an imagination.

    It’s the dialectical relationship between the social orders that humans create and the evolution of human consciousness that Marx was most interested in…or maybe most interests me. I generally agree with your comments,

    1. Matrilineal is different from matriarchal. There is no evidence a matriarchal society, let alone a mode of production, has ever existed.

      There are a lot of definitions of History. Marx’s is just the only scientific one, but, if you don’t consider History a science, it is definitely not a crime to create/embrace/adopt another one.

      1. Don’t be afraid. When I said matrilneal, I meant matrilineal social orders, which tended to be egalitarian.

  15. Looks like the USA is draining its last geopolitical resource: SE Asia:

    “US Fed becoming Asia’s Public Enemy No. 1 — Buoyant US economy and muscular dollar are sucking capital from Asia and raising the specter of competitive currency devaluations”
    https://asiatimes.com/2022/08/us-fed-becoming-asias-public-enemy-no-1/

    Since the start of the Reaganian Era of the American Empire (1980-present), SE Asia has been the only region of the globe that really grew and prospered under capitalism. The USA is now using the Dollar Standard to recall all of that capital, to be used against Russia (via Ukraine) and China (via Taiwan and the SCS). Once that source dries up (i.e. the Latin-Americanization of SE Asia is complete), the American Empire won’t have any prosperous provinces left, and will start to eat itself.

  16. This back and forth serves little purpose. Blood sacrifice ended when irrigation provided a permanent agricultural surplus. The old testament considered slavery normal hence on the 7th day thy and thine slave must rest. The modern democrat was formed by the need of commodity owners to freely sell their wares, to assemble in markets, to travel, to have equality before the law and so on. Babies are not torn from their unwed mothers arms as they were after the War. Capitalism falls when it has exhausted its economic potential and its relations of production strangles the forces of production.

    Human nature adapts to changing circumstances otherwise we would not be having this discussion.

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