Is capitalism entering a huge crisis or will it (as it often does) somehow muddle through, perhaps even strengthening itself in the process? Socialists are divided on the issue, says The Unrepentant Marxist Louis Proyect, referring to a debate between Robert Brenner and Sam Gindin (videos)
(As an aside, there’s a funny opening quote on the video from the moderator. “We on the left are famous for predicting crises… Marxists have predicted ten out of the last six crises.”)
Proyect himself is undecided on the debate.
I confess to being wishy-washy on the topic. Perhaps I became immunized to the kind of hard-core catastrophist analysis associated with the Marxist-Leninist vanguard parties after hearing leaders of the American SWP describe the late 1970s in cataclysmic terms. For nearly the past 30 years, they have been predicting a global depression in the 1929 style. There is a certain logic to this. If you are trying to hold together an isolated and shrinking sect, hope takes the form of such predictions. While the rest of American society has fond hopes of prosperity, the far reaches of the Marxist left goes to sleep at night fantasizing about Hoovervilles.
Marxist organizers might wish to consider that gleefully predicting that millions will lose homes and jobs might not be the best of all possible organizing ploys to attract people to their cause. Also, an economic calamity does not magically guarantee workers will stampede to the left, they could also go right – or do nothing.
Sam Gidlin: “I think the crisis is on the Left, not in capitalism.” He also says employees now have often internalized the values of neoliberalism. Tell a Google employee he’s being exploited and he’ll probably look at you like you’re a Martian. He *wants* to work 14 hour days.
This brings me to a point that Gindin made in his presentation. He said that the problem today is political more than anything else. He said that if you had told him in 1975 that the U.S. would undergo the loss of good trade union jobs and welfare state social legislation with so little protest over the next 30 years or so, he simply would have not believed itâ€“and neither would have I.
Project thinks the only solution is to start a mass (emphasis on “mass”) leftwing party. Maybe we also need to take a tip from 4th Generation Warfare tactics, which posits that the winning side is the one that has the best story – and “whoopee we’re going to have a Depression” is not a contender story.