101 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. @John Quiggin

    The AEI will never listen to any case that is not for pure unfettered montarist capitalism. Not sure how arguing with them would achieve anything.

  2. The thing about the falling rate of profit is that in the early 19th century, the rate of profit was visibly falling, and all economists knew it. Marx wasn’t claiming to have discovered the falling rate but to have explained it and to have shown how it would lead to the final crisis of capitalism.

    But, the rate of profit stopped falling a long time ago, and capitalism has survived a lot of crises. So, the TPRF is now an article of faith rather than part of a serious economic analysis.

  3. @Ivor

    Marx could not have foreseen all the developments which would affect his theory. Capitalism, even industrial capitalism, was formatively young when Marx worked and macroeconomic data was scarce. Some aspects of Marxism have stood the test of time and some have not. I see no evidence of a falling rate of profit to date. Piketty found returns to capital surprisingly constant over 200 years or so. The rapid growth of the mid-twentieth century and the concomittant profit surge was a one-off anomoly due to rapid demographic and technological growth. That demographic and technological surge will never be repeated due to limits to growth (this last is my assertion not Piketty’s).

    But I certainly agree that capitalism is the problem. It’s an untenable system in the long run. The external contradiction is with limits to growth. The internal contradiction is to do with its undemocratic control (oligarchic command) of the means of production. These two contradictions are linked as undemocratic command of production means environmental damage and hard environmental limits are disregarded for short-term, elitist and “enclavist” (or metropole-centered) benefit. With full democratic command of production, issues other then economic issues are actually considered. Social and environmental issues also get consideration from the the workers who exist not only at work but also live their lives in families, neighbourhoods and environments affected by production decisions.

    The oligarchs don’t care about such issues. They live in protected enclaves and are buffered from almost all negative externality feedback… until it is too late for anything to be done to arrest a total catastrophe. By the time the oligarchs start feeling environmentally induced pain it will be far too late.

  4. @John Quiggin

    Here is the real problem.

    So, the TPRF is now an article of faith rather than part of a serious economic analysis.

    That statement looks like more an article of faith than the analysis underpinning the falling rate of profit.

    No-one expects the rate of profit to fall while there are countervailing tendencies. When profits decline capitalists make changes and avail themselves of countervailing tendencies which increase productivity. As long as there is scope for countervailing tendencies profits will not fall.

    Every economics undergraduate probably runs into a tutorial question on long-run entry in a free market, and shows how profits decline or are competed away.

    Even Piketty recognises that profits must decline but for countervailing tendencies (productivity increase, population increase) [Piketty, page 228f].

    And further. Alfred Marshall similarly noted that as the proportion of product to labour and capital increases that this “is likely to be accompanied by a fall in the rate of profits” [Principles of Economics, 8th edition, Macmillan, p511].

    Stilwell covers the falling rate theory at page 139 of his Sydney University textbook “Political Economy the Contest of Economic Ideas”]

    The Journal of Australian Political Economy cited evidence that US profit rates declined from 1947 to 1985 [JAPE 25, (October 1989) p47, fig 1.]

    need I go on …. why not?

    Many other points of view are at: Wikipedia – falling profits

    If the rate of profit did not fall we would have had no need for Thatcherism or the Australian Accord, and Japan would not be the disaster it now is. There would be no need to inject debt or otherwise fiddle with the value of money, if capitalism maintained profits.

    It is obvious – if capital increases but wages stay the same – the rate of profit must fall.

    Similarly, if capital increases more than wages increase – the rate of profit must fall.

    The only ways the rate of profits can stay constant is if;

    there is no accumulation of capital; or

    the amount expropriated from workers increases (or relatively so) in appropriate proportion to the increase in capital; or

    there is some other permanent, sustainable countervailing tendency.

    But you would not even need to increase expropriation or seek for other countervailing tendency if the rate of profit falling ceased a long time ago.

  5. @John Quiggin

    Here is the real problem.

    So, the TPRF is now an article of faith rather than part of a serious economic analysis.

    That statement looks like more an article of faith than the analysis underpinning the falling rate of profit.

    No-one expects the rate of profit to fall while there are countervailing tendencies. When profits decline capitalists make changes and avail themselves of countervailing tendencies which increase productivity. As long as there is scope for countervailing tendencies profits will not fall.

    Every economics undergraduate probably runs into a tutorial question on long-run entry in a free market, and shows how profits decline or are competed away.

    Even Piketty recognises that profits must decline but for countervailing tendencies (productivity increase, population increase) [Piketty, page 228f].

    And further. Alfred Marshall similarly noted that as the proportion of product to labour and capital increases that this “is likely to be accompanied by a fall in the rate of profits” [Principles of Economics, 8th edition, Macmillan, p511].

    Stilwell covers the falling rate theory at page 139 of his Sydney University textbook “Political Economy the Contest of Economic Ideas”]

    The Journal of Australian Political Economy cited evidence that US profit rates declined from 1947 to 1985 [JAPE 25, (October 1989) p47, fig 1.]

    need I go on …. why not?

    Many other points of view are at: Wikipedia – falling profits

    If the rate of profit did not fall we would have had no need for Thatcherism or the Australian Accord, and Japan would not be the disaster it now is. There would be no need to inject debt or otherwise fiddle with the value of money, if capitalism maintained profits.

    It is obvious – if capital increases but wages stay the same – the rate of profit must fall.

    Similarly, if capital increases more than wages increase – the rate of profit must fall.

    The only ways the rate of profits can stay constant is if;

    there is no accumulation of capital; or

    the amount expropriated from workers increases (or relatively so) in appropriate proportion to the increase in capital; or

    there is some other permanent, sustainable countervailing tendency.

    But you would not even need to increase expropriation or seek for other countervailing tendency if the rate of profit falling ceased a long time ago.

  6. @Ikonoclast

    Capitalism may well collapse based on limits to growth and conflict with democratic standards.

    This will save humanity from having to be confronted with the hellish reality of a structural crisis.

    If progressive politics can abolish capitalism before its crisis tendencies burst forth – so much the better.

  7. Profits of financial sector are 40% it went up from historically 8-13% of all profits.
    There are profits from stocks too, what part of total profits paper asset profits are?

    Why there is decline in economic activity? Ah, yes, there is no profits in productive industries so there is no investment. There is too much supply allready.

    TPRF is alive and strongest now but only in real economy.

  8. I think it would be more useful to talk about the tendency of the rate of profit to oscillate. Surely, that is the historical record.

    Michael Roberts says; “I don’t think that I or other supporters of Marx’s law (TRPF) as the basis of the cause of crises have ignored the countervailing tendencies to the tendency of the rate or profit to fall as capital accumulates. That’s because the law is both the tendency and countertendency.”

    So Micheal Roberts (whom David Harvey has called “monomaniacal” with respect to the TRPF) says “the law is both the tendency and countertendency”. This puts the debate in far more interesting and potentially valid territory. It now becomes (as I said above) “the tendency of the rate of profit to oscillate”. Thus the “law” is misconstrued if it meant to imply that the rate of profit (while oscillating) tends to fall in the long, long term (over many decades and even centuries).

    The large periodic oscillations of capitalism (meaning in the down-cycle, depressions and major recessions) constitute one of its defining features. The rate of return on capital falls as capital over-accumulation occurs. A depression or major recession and/or war destroys capital in bulk and solves the over-accumulation crisis.

    This inherent contradiction is at heart a contest between capital and labour for profits and wages. If capital is too successful for its own good it causes the linked crises of capital over-accumulation/over-production and low wages which mean inadequate aggregate demand. This inherent contradiction in and of itself will not necessarily lead to the collapse of capitalism. Capital can re-constitute itself after each such crisis and has done so to date. Government that is even minimally democratically responsive also plays a role in saving capital from itself by re-distribution and other macroeconomic measures.

    The real and final contradictions of capitalism are linked. One, the capitalist system by its internal logic is committed to endless growth. After each crisis, it grows anew to new heights. Competing capitals (companies, firms, conglomerates, transnationals) must grow or be supplanted by capitals which will grow. Two, a system predicated on endless growth cannot continue in a finite environment (the earth’s biosphere). A levelling to a more or less steady-state or oscillating plateau is required or else overshoot and collapse will occur.

    The elite (who are the oligarchs and their elite managers, econocrats and technocrats) control the bulk of the decisions about production because they essentially own and control the productive apparatus. The elite are insulated from the common human pain and the environmental negative externality damage of their decisions. Only the disempowered people feel that pain and damage immediately. The elite, insulated from this pain and damage in their financially and physically protected enclaves of great wealth, are free and indeed attracted and induced to inflict ever worsening human pain and environmental damage. They don’t see it, they don’t feel it and when they do they ignore or deny it.

    Only a true democratisation which includes worker control of the productive apparatus (and so means decisions are made with economic, social and envirionmental costs and benefits all accounted for and accounted for for everyone) can overcame this terminally damaging dynamic of capitalism and its inherent character which is antithetical to common human good and a liveable, survivable environment.

  9. > Ah, yes, there is no profits in productive industries so there is no investment.

    There’s no profit because there’s too much competition. The lower prices through competition have to come from somewhere, and where they come from is the profit of the owners.

    The drive for competition has destroyed the profitability of any industry it’s applied to. That’s what it’s supposed to do: If that makes it impossible to actually run a business that does anything useful then so be it, I guess.

    [the only answers are communism or dirigisme.]

  10. @Ivor

    Footnote to my above post (which I hope you read). Our views are not so far apart really. Part of the problem is Marx’s now archaic and somewhat idiosyncratic terminology.

    The TRPF is really (if one even follows Micheal Roberts) the Tendency for the Rate of Profit to Oscillate. There are a great number of tendencies (forces) and counter-tendencies (counter-forces) tending to move the profit rate down and up. These include both micro and macro effects.

    The OCC (organic composition of capital) is another misleading term. “Marx argues that a rising organic composition of capital is a necessary effect of capital accumulation and competition in the sphere of production, at least in the long term. This means that the share of constant capital in the total capital outlay increases, and that labor input per product unit declines.” – Wikipedia.

    This means a rising OCC entails more capital (machinery) and less humans (labour). To me this is a rise in the INORGANIC composition of capital if one is being literal in the biological and chemical senses. Marx should have termed it the ICC (the inorganic composition of capital).

  11. @Collin Street

    Other answers (for the capitalists) are imperfect competition, oligopoly, monopoly, price fixing and cartel behaviour. You can’t assume perfect or free markets. They don’t really exist anywhere.

  12. @Ikonoclast

    Yes there are counter tendencies – but the point is they are unsustainable, and due to the accumulation of capital at a constant rate – must increasingly become available at an exponential rate.

    Anyway it may be too late as our capitalist keepers have taken us to the brink – or so it seems according to this view:

    http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/2554931c-ac85-11e4-9d32-00144feab7de.html#axzz3W0eMHaTQ

    I think we can blame all those who dare make such claims as:

    So, the TPRF is now an article of faith rather than part of a serious economic analysis.

  13. @Ivor

    I think we might have to agree to differ a bit. I see a tendency for the rate of profit to oscillate (boom and bust) at least until environmental limits are reached. Capital is destroyed in the bust (mainly paper values) but real capital (plant and equipment) might also be destroyed, broken up and obsoleted. A new cycle begins after much capital (especially paper wealth) is destroyed. I do not locate the final contradiction of capitalism in this process in itself. The fundamental dialectic is that the formal system of capitalism (as ownership and finance) operates in the real system of the environment. The axioms of capitalism (for a formal system really has axioms) are not “analogically congruent” (my term) with the laws of the environment (especially the laws of physics, thermodynamics and ecology).

    For a formal system (like capitalist ownership and finance with very limited democracy ) to interact successfully with a real system, the formal system must be at least substantially “analogically congruent” with the real system. Let me explain this by an example. Maps and plans that work (allow us to travel and build successfully) do work because they are analogically congruent with physical reality. For example, drawn plans may have 2 space dimensions but they use special techniques (floor plans and elevations for example) to show how to build in 3 space dimensions. There is an “analogical congruity” between good plans and reality in terms of 3d space being depicted in such a way that information can be successfully transferred from the plan to reality.

    The whole point of analogical congruity in a formal system (be it plans, language or mathematics for example) is to allow the successful and accurate transmission of information both ways. I mean from the formal system to reality and from reality back to the formal system. If a formal system (capitalism) posits endless growth in a finite real system (the biosphere) then this is a fundamental disjunction which does not allow the transmission of ultimately viable orders (orders are information) from the formal system to the real system nor for accurate transmission of feedback information from the real system back to the formal system.

    The final contradictions of capitalism inhere in its endless attempts to accrue (endless growth) and the endless struggle between capital and labour but most especially in the control of production by the elites for their own purposes which purpose are antithetical to the interests of the workers and antithetical to the interests of maintining a livable, sustaining environment.

    Capitalism might theoretically be of endless duration IMO, albeit riven by cyclical upheavals; an egregious one of which could possibly destroy the system, if the environment were infinite. However, the environment is limited and those invioable limits are very close now. It is the analogical incongruence batween the axioms of capitalist ownership and finance and the physical and biological laws of the real world which means that capitalism will fail. Capitalism is an arbitrary unempirical formal system fundamentally out of step with empirical reality.

  14. It seems strangely apposite to this thread that today’s edition of Prosh (the University of Western Australia’s annual satirical newspaper) is entitled ‘The Marxist Ejaculation’. 😉

  15. @Ikonoclast

    I must be too old-fashioned. You are adopting a very subjective approach that can be easily contradicted with the same veracity.

    At this stage people should be looking for explanations based on hard evidence and concrete analysis.

    Maybe you would be better off criticising Marx.

    If you want to say;

    Capitalism might theoretically be of endless duration IMO

    then what is the objective basis?

    As a subjective opinion it is a waste of time and can be easily contradicted by an equally valid subjective opinion:

    “capitalism theoretically may not be endless”

    Most people will be bored with this sort of dueling opinions.

  16. @Ivor

    There is nothing theoretical about my saying;

    (1) Capital over-accumulation is wiped out by depressions. Capitalism takes off again after depressions. This is empirical fact. It has happened a number of times. It does not prove it will always happen nor does it prove it finally won’t happen. (Point 3 proves the latter.)

    (2) The rate of profit under capitalism to date has cycled over the long term and has not shown a consistent downard trend. Again this is empirical fact. It has happened a number of times. It does not prove it will always happen nor does it prove it finally won’t happen. (Point 3 proves the latter.)

    (3) The biosphere is finite therefore capitalism or any other system which seeks to grow indefinitely in the biosphere will not be able to do so.

    My statements are all strongly rooted in historical and empirical facts. Clearly the combined or synthesised Marxian-physical-ecological aspects of my thinking do not follow standard and received Marxist orthodoxy. I pay attention to developments since Marx.

  17. The average real rate of return to corporate equity is around 6 per cent and this has been true, as far as can be determined, ever since the late 19th century. So, there is no apparent tendency for the rate of profit to fall, at least if “the rate of profit” has its usual meaning, which is the only one that matters to the owners of capital.

    Here’s some data showing both the medium-term variability and the long-term stability referred to by Ikonoklast. The data refers to the equity premium, that is the excess return over that for government bonds (around 1 to 2 per cent real, again very stable over long periods)

    http://www.theskilledinvestor.com/ss.item.10/how-stable-have-common-stock-equity-risk-premiums-been-over-time.html

  18. Ikonoclast :
    @Collin Street
    Other answers (for the capitalists) are imperfect competition, oligopoly, monopoly, price fixing and cartel behaviour. You can’t assume perfect or free markets. They don’t really exist anywhere.

    If you adopt these as a matter of public policy you’re back at dirigisme. If you adopt these as a matter of nod-and-wink public policy — where we are now, I’d say — you’re running nod-and-wink dirigisme. If you actually enforce your anti-anti-competitive laws against all violators you’ll blow up your economy, which is widely regarded as a Bad Thing.

  19. ALP Qld senator Jan McLucas (the one who stepped down from the junior ministry after News Ltd and LNP allegations were raised against her over her Canberra living arrangements and travel allowance claims), is quoted in a Guardian article today about Billy Gordon:

    McLucas, Gordon’s former employer, says the embattled MP should have told her and the Labor party about his juvenile history. If Gordon had been upfront about it, she says, it would have been an opportunity to show “how a young man with a difficult history found the right path”.

    So she is essentially saying that his story could have been spun positively. Well, couldn’t the ALP have taken that approach when News Ltd and the LNP started the recent hatchet job on him?

    Instead they hung him out to dry and demanded he resign from the parliament. Nice to have the family of true believers standing shoulder to shoulder with you.

    After all, the “domestic violence allegations” have yet to be tested or established and Billy Gordon not only denies them but welcomes the police investigation.

    So shouldn’t you stand by a colleague who has been, as you yourself have, the subject of allegations originating from News Ltd working with the LNP? No, apparently. “Allegations” are all it takes to require your resignation:

    But had Gordon told her of the domestic violence claims, she would have ruled out any political career for him. “He can’t be a public figure with allegations of domestic violence,” she says.

    Just to repeat: these are “allegations”, just like the “allegations” about Jan McLucas rorting her travel allowance and living away from home allowance.

    The ALP is hopelessly compromised. They are double-standards hypocrites and everyone knows it.

  20. @John Quiggin

    However, we should not forget that this steady rate of return (r) has returned to the “natural” condition of r > g as Piketty demonstrates. This implies the need for government re-distribution by taxes and welfare if ever greater immiseration is to be avoided. This in turn implies we currently tacitly accept a system with a “steering bias” which veers towards ever greater inequality. Only by applying a steady steering pressure (governmental control) against the bias of capitalism do we get capitalism to “go straight” as it were.

    Any engineer dealing with a system with a severe bias which needed excessive outside inputs (efforts, expenditure, energy) to perform in the required manner long term, would then seek to re-design the system such that the inherent bias was removed. So, we have to ask ourselves the following question. Is capitalism so effective at mobilising productive effort that net productive effort after the costs of corrections (wealth redistribution etc.) is still greater than the net productive effort of any other system?

    The questions do not end there. In a finite world, we do have to ask the question about capitalist growth. I mean specifically quantitative growth as more and more material infrastructure and consumer goods. Is capitalism predicated upon endless growth? I tend to think it is because that is how it performs in practice. This is not enough to prove it is predicated upon endless growth. However, its nature as a formal system with certain axioms of ownership and financial accounting seems to be predicated on an endless return on capital and thus expansion of capital: at least until the unplanned and generally unwanted busts. Could the current system of (capitalist) ownership run a steady state economy? I don’t know without more investigation and more thought but it seems to me unlikely at first glance.

    Another movement of concern is increasing automation. I mean this in the sense that where industrial capitalism first exploited the worker, late stage automated capitalism will discard more and more workers altogether. The immiserated class will not be poor workers but a vast unemployed under-class for whom automated capitalism has no need at all (except perhaps for some part-time service workers and servants).

    While the productive apparatus is owned by a rich elite decisions are made only on the basis of profit and capital returns to the rich elite. “Wealth buys resources including politicians” is how I saw it expressed by one writer. The lower (insert rising percentange here) and the sustaining environment itself get no real consideration from the 1%.

    So rather than redistribute wealth after the current ownership-production system has made a misallocation why not change the ownership-production system?

    Since the right has stolen the word “reform” we must “transform” our system.

  21. @Ikonoclast

    Is capitalism predicated upon endless growth?

    Yes, it is. The answer is no riddle. It is in Locke, who was a shareholder in some American corporate adventure, maybe the East Virginia Company, whose vision of America, by first hand experience, was of a cornucopia of forests, lakes, rivers, prairies and free protein (buffalo, migratory species of birds – ducks and geese and pigeons – whose multitude literally “darkened the skies” for weeks on end.

    The children of Locke, the liberals, neoliberals and libertarians, are captives of this vision of unending plenty. Their utopia of cornucopia, an old human vision, is bankrupt but they are so stupid, uneducated and historically uninformed as to be resistant to this advice.

    Your prognostication t’other day as to the likely short human future in our current trajectory is accurate only in so far as you count in as human those who are not. That is, we will have a short and unpleasant future only so long as you allow an equal voice to subhuman idiots (the ethically and morally incompetent) who constitute the ruling oligopoly and their lickspittles.

  22. Ivor writes ‘This is, of course, entirely consistent with Marx’s analysis.’

    I am interested by the inclusion in that sentence of the phrase ‘of course’.

    Is there a difference between the sentence ‘This is entirely consistent with Marx’s analysis’ and ‘This is, of course, entirely consistent with Marx’s analysis’? If so, what is that difference? I don’t know, but I wonder.

    In my opinion, everything is consistent with Marx’s analysis. Profits going up? Consistent with Marx’s analysis. Profits going down? Consistent with Marx’s analysis. Rate of profit stable? Consistent with Marx’s analysis. Rate of profit oscillating? Consistent with Marx’s analysis. Revolution succeeds, revolution fails, revolution does not happen? Each one consistent with Marx’s analysis.

    The entire purpose of Marx’s dialectical analysis, as I perceive it, is to make whatever happens consistent with whatever the dialectical analyst was saying beforehand. No matter what prediction you make, and no matter what actually happens, you can always apply Marx’s dialectic afterwards to prove that you’ve been right all along.

  23. @Ivor

    In a letter to Engels in 1857, Marx wrote ‘It’s possible that I shall make an ass of myself. But in that case one can always get out of it with a little dialectic. I have, of course, so worded my proposition as to be right either way.’

    (There’s that ‘of course’ again!)

  24. @J-D

    People deliberately quoting words out of context are trolls.

    You quoted out of context. Any schoolboy can set you right.

    Marx was indicating that he was only standing-in for the usual correspondent and relying on rumours presumably deliberately spread by the government to maintain unrest.

    Given the uncertainty, he therefore worded his text appropriately so as to ensure he did not make an ass of himself.

  25. @Ivor

    Ah, I see.

    What you’re saying is that when Marx wrote ‘I have, of course, worded my proposition as to be right either way’, what he meant, ‘in context’, was not ‘I have, of course, worded my proposition as to be right either way’, but actually ‘I’m only standing in for the usual correspondent and relying on rumours’; even though those two sentences look as if they’re dissimilar, ‘in context’ they’re really the same thing.

  26. @J-D

    No. You are just making stuff up.

    If you want to make a substantive point, try it.

    Attacks on Marx are a dime a dozen, and J-D doesn’t even get to this level.

  27. @Ivor

    If you want to make a substantive point, try it.

    My assertion is that Marxist dialectical analysis is a device which can be used, no matter what happens, and no matter what the analyst may have said beforehand, to prove in the aftermath that the analyst was right all along.

    To show that my assertion is false, all anybody has to do is produce examples where a Marxist dialectical analyst has acknowledged, in hindsight, that a Marxist dialectical analysis has been proved wrong.

    You are under no obligation to discuss my assertion. Equally I am under no obligation to discuss any assertions you feel like making.

  28. @J-D

    Your assertion is incompetant.

    What happens is always true.

    What an analyst says beforehand does matter.

    And whether an analyst proves whether they were right or wrong depends on what they said beforehand. This is simple empiricism which is at the core of Marxist dialectical materialism. Knowledge comes from experience and scientific understanding of experience.

    If you assert otherwise then you are talking about something of your own perception and private manufacture.

    A simple childish act of vanity.

  29. @Ivor

    I note that you have not produced examples where a Marxist dialectical analyst has acknowledged, in hindsight, that a Marxist dialectical analysis has been proved wrong.

  30. Prof Q, Megan, anyone – can anyone remember the name of that commenter who got banned here fairly recently, and who loved making patronising comments to or about Megan? I think he may be operating over at CT, only now it’s me he is targeting in particular.

  31. @Ivor

    I am aware that hindsight is not available beforehand.

    But hindsight is available, and there’s nothing stupid or silly about using it.

  32. @Val

    I don’t want to mention his original nickname here in case I get it wrong and impugn someone unfairly. Although he pretends to have some progressive ideas much of his thinking seems to be neocon underneath. There is a particular strand which seems consistent with far right ideas. This is the strand of undisguised contempt for greens, feminists and even it seems all females. He is a cyber bully. Pretty sad but also disturbing when an adult behaves like that.

  33. @J-D

    You are confused. Hindsight concerning a proposition is not available when a proposition is made. Hindsight always comes later. You cannot use hindsight to change the past. Basic, basic, basic. I cannot use the hindsight I will have next week to make propositions today.

    Being aware that hindsight is not available beforehand is not adequate. So what?

    It is how you use it that is relevant. Hindsight is only useful as valuable past experience.

    Those who prance around the place using “20-20” hindsight do not understand the nature of knowledge. By definition, no-one has hindsight when making propositions. They only have experience. Experience and analysis is the basis for predictions.

    You cannot argue something was wrong simply based on hindsight if conditions change. Something that is true now may not be true in some later aftermath.

    There are no social or political truths that hold for all time. All truths are based on conditions.

    All truths evaporate if the conditions change (either fairly or unfairly).

    Marxism uses historical experience and scientific method. It does not rely on hindsight or waiting for the aftermath.

    In fact Marxism is often known as historical materialism – the exact opposite of hindsight mongering and aftermath confusion.

    Anyone who tries to pretend that something was wrong based on hindsight is either naive or falls into the category of denialists. We have seen these opportunist elements in the climate debate.

    Sometimes they will use false data to pretend that propositions in the past were false such as cigarette lobbyists.

    As with climate and nicotine, we need a profound, scientific understanding, not to be provoked by the likes of J-D.

  34. @Ivor

    In scientific practice there is nothing unusual about a theoretical analysis (developed and advanced at one point in time) being rejected as a result of later scientific work.

    Even some of the greatest names in the history of science have been affected. Newton relied on a theoretical concept of space and time which is now rejected on the basis of later scientific work. Darwin offered a theoretical view about the mechanism of biological inheritance which is now rejected on the basis of later scientific work.

    The fact that this happens demonstrates that scientific analysis is not solely a technique for proving that you’ve been right all along.

    If there were examples where a Marxist dialectical analysis was rejected as a result of later work, that might demonstrate that Marxist dialectics is not solely a technique for proving that you’ve been right all along. I’d just like to see the examples. You don’t seem to have any.

  35. @J-D

    I am not aware of any examples where “a Marxist dialectical analysis was rejected as a result of later work” of the same calibre.

    Most changes are due to cultural shifts as society went from steam power to electricity and then to computerisation. The analysis remains.

    You are asking for an example of your own imagination.

  36. @alfred venison
    Thank you a.v. Every claim of Žižek’s is defensible. He may be the last revolutionary but he certainly is the first for these times. I liked the conclusion:

    The clash of cultures should not be overcome through a feeling of global humanism, but rather through overall solidarity with those struggling within every culture. Our struggle for emancipation should be coupled with the battle against India’s caste system and the workers’ resistance in China. Everything is dependent on this: the battle for the Palestinians and against anti-Semitism, WikiLeaks and Pussy Riot — all are part of the same struggle. If not, then we can all just kill ourselves.

    That’s how I operate.

  37. @J-D

    If the thing you imagined existed – you would have provided an example.

    You did not.

    You only confirm your own imaginations, base assertions, and series of confusions.

    It is meaningless for anyone to confirm their own fantastical constructions.

  38. @Ivor

    I assert that there are no examples of X.

    You say that you know of no examples of X.

    As far as I can tell, you think you’ve shown that I’m wrong. If so, your reasoning is faulty.

  39. I think the J-D vs Ivor dispute needs to go to the sandpit, and future interactions between the two of you should also go there. I’ll open a new one.

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