The Structural Crisis of Capital

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In this collection of trenchant essays and interviews, István Mészáros, the world’s preeminent Marxist philosopher and winner of the 2008 Libertador Award for Critical Thought (the Bolivar Prize), lays bare the exploitative structure of modern capitalism. He argues with great power that the world’s economies are on a social and ecological precipice, and that unless we take decisive action to radically transform our societies we will find ourselves thrust headfirst into barbarism and environmental catastrophe.

Mészáros, however, is no pessimist. He believes that the multiple crises of world capitalism will encourage the working class to demand center stage in the construction of a new system of production and distribution designed to meet human needs rather than serve the relentless pursuit of profit—a struggle which is already underway in places such as Venezuela. As John Bellamy Foster says in the foreword to this indispensable book, “Today the structural crisis of capital provides the historical setting for a new revolutionary movement for social emancipation in which developments normally taking centuries would flit by like phantoms in decades or even years. But the force for such necessary, vital change, remains with the people themselves, and rests on humanity’s willingness to constitute itself as both subject and object of history, through the collective struggle to create a just and sustainable world. This, Mészáros insists, constitutes the unprecedented challenge and burden of our historical time.”

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“István Mészáros illuminates the path ahead. He points to the central argument we must make in order . . . to take to the offensive throughout the world in moving toward socialism.”
-Hugo Chávez,President of Venezuela
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781583672082
  • Publisher: Monthly Review Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/2010
  • Pages: 218
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

István Mészáros is a world-renowned philosopher and critic. He left his native Hungary after the Soviet invasion of 1956. He is professor emeritus at the University of Sussex, where he held the chair of philosophy for fifteen years. Meszaros is author of The Challenge and Burden of Historical Time, Beyond Capital, The Power of Ideology, The Work of Sartre, and Marx’s Theory of Alienation.

John Bellamy Foster is editor of Monthly Review. He is professor of sociology at the University of Oregon and author of The Ecological Revolution, The Great Financial Crisis (with Fred Magdoff), Critique of Intelligent Design (with Brett Clark and Richard York), Ecology Against Capitalism, Marx’s Ecology, and The Vulnerable Planet.

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Table of Contents

Foreword John Bellamy Foster 9

Introduction: The Substance of the Crisis Ricardo Antunes 13

1 The unfolding crisis and the relevance of marx 23

1 "Confidence" and its Disappearance 24

2 A Pseudo-Hegelian Triad 25

3 The Nationalization of Capitalist Bankruptcy 29

4 U.S. Default is by No Means "Unthinkable" 34

2 The present crisis 39

1 Surprising Admissions 39

2 The Assertion of U.S. Hegemony 41

2.1 "Extra-Territoriality" 42

2.2 Industrial Advantage from Military Secrecy 43

2.3 Direct Trade Pressures Applied by the U.S. Legislative and Executive 44

2.4 The Real Debt Problem 44

2.5 Political Antagonism Arising from U.S. Economic Penetration 46

3 Wishful Thinking about the "Decline of the U.S. as a Hegemonic Power" 49

4 The Official View of "Healthy Expansion" 51

5 Postscript 1995: The Meaning of "Black Mondays" (and Wednesdays) 52

3 The necessity of social control 59

1 The Counterfactual Conditionals of Apologetic Ideology 60

2 Capitalism and Ecological Destruction 63

3 The Crisis of Domination 67

4 From "Repressive Tolerance" to the Liberal Advocacy of Repression 76

5 "War if the Normal Methods of Expansion Fail" 79

6 The Emergence of Chronic Unemployment 83

7 The Intensification of die Rate of Exploitation 86

8 Capital's "Correctives" and Socialist Control 89

4 Radical politics and transition to socialism: Reflections on Marx's centenary 93

1 The Meaning of Beyond Capital 95

2 Historical Conditions of the Socialist Offensive 98

3 The Need for a Theory of Transition 100

4 "Restructuring the Economy" and its Political Preconditions 106

4.1 The Dynamics of Postwar Developments 106

4.2 Alternatives to the Dominant "Economic Imperatives" 111

4.3 The Historical Moment of Radical Politics 113

5 Bolívar and Chávez: the spirit of radical determination 117

1 "Feathers Carried by the Tempest" 117

2 Chávez's Radical Critique of Politics in 1993 126

3 Prospects for Development 130

6 The Importance of planning and substantive equality 147

1 The "Invisible Hand" and the "Cunning of Reason" 147

2 The Long Historical Gestation of the Categories of Socialist Theory 152

3 The Key Role of Substantive Equality 156

7 A structural crisis of the system: January 2009 interview in socialist review 165

8 The tasks ahead: March 2009 Interview in debate Socialista 173

1 The Global Explosion of Capital's Structural Crisis 173

2 In Place of Neo-Keynesian Illusions: The Strategic Offensive of Anti-Systemic Forces 176

3 Monopolistic Economy and Credit Card Imperialism 179

4 The Irrationality of Capitalist "Down-Sizing" in the Age of "Monopoly-Finance Capital" 183

5 Deep-Seated Systemic Problems Call for Structural Remedies 187

6 Sectorial Interests and Class Solidarity 190

7 Labor's Historical Alternative to Capital's Social Order 195

8 A Radical Political Movement is Unthinkable Without the Creative Self-Education of its Members 199

Endnotes 203

Index 217

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