Home > Occupy the Marxist Academy, political-economy, shorter work time > A Marxist Self-Help Book for Mr. Moneybags: “The Crisis of Neoliberalism”

A Marxist Self-Help Book for Mr. Moneybags: “The Crisis of Neoliberalism”

I am rereading Gerard Dumenil’s and Dominique Levy’s “The Crisis of Neoliberalism”, because, for some insane reason, I just want to be irritated beyond all tolerable limits. However, I am happy to say these Marxist professors have found novel approach to fixing capitalism — working people must be ready to make whatever sacrifices are necessary to save Mr. Moneybags from himself.

You see, what we need is one of those new New Deals. First, we have to rebuild the financial sector. This means: (1) increased transparency, (2) diminished risk taking, (3) the control of indebtedness, and (4) the moderation of high income. But it also includes, “the establishment of a new relationship between the financial sector and the real economy in favor of nonfinancial accumulation…” This, Dumenil and Levy tell us, is “a much more radical transformation”, involving (5) a financial sector in service to the real economy and (6) stabilizing procedures at the level of the global economy.

But this is not all we will need in Dumenil’s and Levy’s opinion — we have to restore the trends of domestic accumulation in the US. The internal and external debt of the US must be simultaneously addressed; the neoliberal trend toward disaccumulation must be reversed; we have to increase competitiveness and curb consumption.

But, Dumenil and Levy wonder, if we are reducing consumption and increasing exports, who will borrow to stimulate demand? Why, the state, of course. How silly of you not to know this; if we are reducing the consumption of the working class, the state must step in as the consumer of last resort and pick up the slack in demand. The state, which has already assumed the functions of the capitalist, must now assumed the functions of the consumer as well. Unfortunately, the state’s assumption of these functions cannot be extended to include the production of surplus value itself — even in the 21st Century, labor power is still the only source for that.

I know, I know — you were wondering how this magnificent set of proposals to fix the economy squares with Marx’s labor theory of value? You probably were also wondering how this argument squares with the centuries old fight for the emancipation of labor. Well, these sorts of old school concerns prove you are just subject to the sort of old fashioned thinking that will not be tolerated in the 21st Century.

It works like this: Dumenil and Levy explain that to “straighten the trajectory of the US economy”, working folks will have to limit their consumption, pay more for imports, increase their competitiveness, and place barriers to trade, in order to “re-territorialize production and demand”. Profits must be conserved within corporations to encourage productive investment, “that is, much less paid out as interest, dividends, and high wages to the upper fractions of wage earners”, in addition to the reduced consumption of the remaining portion of society.

And who decides how much consumption of society must be reduced? Who decides how much more working families will have to pay for imported commodities? Who decides how this alleged increase in “competitiveness” is to be accomplished? And, finally, who decides what is to be considered” productive investment”?

Well, all of this will be “implemented by a government committed to the restoration of the situation.” What the fuck is a “government committed to the restoration of the situation,” you may ask? And exactly what “situation” is this government committed to restore?

Well, I’m glad you asked!

Dumenil and Levy appear to want to restore “the main features of the new postwar capitalism” that emerged between 1930 and 1945.

“The market is there, in the sense that private enterprises decide on investment, output, and prices. The state is large. The financial sector is regulated. Serious limits have been placed on free trade and the free international movements of capital. The control of the macroeconomy is in the hands of central institutions. The right of labor to organize is, to some extent, guaranteed. The concentration of wages and, more generally, income to the benefit of the upper income brackets has been reduced. A limited fraction of profits is paid out as dividends, and the stock market increases moderately. A degree of welfare protection is ensured.”

Which is to say, Dumenil and Levy appear to want to restore the golden age of fascism which led directly to the global holocaust of World War II. They are nostalgic, can’t you see? When the Right pines for the ‘good old days’ when America was ‘innocent’, the Left rightly accuses them of wanting to put women back in the kitchen and blacks back hanging from the odd tree. But when the Left pines for the ‘good old days’, when women and the blacks knew their place, we call it the new New Deal.

This, folks, is not communism, it is a fucking plantation for wage slaves. The fascist state is the slave-master, and each capitalist operates as an overseer to ensure the slaves keep working productively. I would imagine the entire world market would then consist of insulated, self-sufficient plantations of wage slavery managed by some supra-national authority.

Is there any question why some working folks look at shit like this and join the Tea Party? All the Koch brothers have to do is order a million copies of this Marxist trash and hand it out at their next astro-turf event.

The idea that Dumenil and Levy are only trying to “restore” America to its Fascist Golden Age, when it was the undisputed industrial superpower amidst the carnage of post-war Europe and Asia, is just balderdash, right? Perhaps, you think I am being unfairly harsh to Professors Dumenil and Levy.

I sure as FUCK hope so! When even Marxists are trying to build the future of mankind out of the ruins of the most catastrophic event of the 20th Century, it is clear they need a sharp rap on the knuckles with a goddamned sledgehammer. Somebody needs to call these fuckers out! The Marxist academy needs a serious fucking wakeup call — somebody needs to tell them to stop living in the past.

I mean, really, did these assholes get a second opinion from a reviewer within the Marxist academy? Did anyone give them a clue to this perversity? Was there anyone among Marxist academics who politely pointed out to them: Hey, we are not the representatives of the past, capitalism is — we are the future of humanity. And that future has its own standard by which it is measured — and it can’t begin until we stop trying to “restore the situation”.

I went through the index to Dumenil’s and Levy’s book and found the following terms: labor compensation, labor costs, labor-management relations act, labor market, labor power, labor productivity, Marx on labor power, Marx on surplus value, Marx on productive capital, but not once in this entire useless fucking book did these two imbeciles mention a single word about Marx on the struggle over the social labor day itself. The very core category of capitalism — the social labor day — never even appears in this goddamned book.

Instead what we learn from Professors Dumenil and Levy is that to “restore the situation” working families will have to produce more, consume less, export more and import less, while the fucking state decides what of their material activities is to be considered productive and what is to be sacrificed to increase productivity. Because — can’t you see — communism is all about making sure the fucking workers are as productive as possible!

Nowhere in this book is there an argument for “restoring the situation” when mankind was free of compulsion to perform value producing labor. For Dumenil and Levy, the object of seizing state power is to restore the golden age of fascism! For these asinine Marxist academics, we seize control of the means of production so we can “limit” the fraction of profits paid out as dividends. Finally, while working families consume less and produce more, the goal is not to increase the material standard of living of this class — instead Dumenil and Levy propose this new surplus be exported to increase the public debt of the fascist state! Freedom from labor no longer even figures among Marxist academics as the entire point of the social revolution.

We are all capitalists now.

  1. Brian Gallagher
    August 8, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    btw, that’s Uncle Pennybags. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rich_Uncle_Pennybags

    Poor, poor historical materialism, how the Marxist academy has abandoned you!
    So, according to these “Marxists”, the working man’s golden era was all about economics but that horrible war part was A Tale of Villains and Heroes, a morality play unconnected to the passing away of capitalism.
    And what’s with these people saying, “Well, we have to try to prevent the barbarity that will explode when capitalism collapses.”?? What was the 20th Century then, civilized behavior?
    In his latest tome, Zizek makes the point that “Hitler didn’t go far enough.” It is, of course, a deliberately inflammatory Zizekism – his point is that seizing the state and exterminating/colonizing the east was all done by Hitler so that things could remain the same, or as they were previously. And that’s fascism: to aggressively abandon the future.

  2. Brian Gallagher
    August 11, 2012 at 12:25 am

    From the manifesto of the Krisis group:

    “We find ourselves, then, in quite a difficult situation for thinking about the formation of an emancipatory social movement. There is no specific social interest which one could say is opposed to capital and therefore the capitalist system. There is no social class (nor has such a class ever existed, and it never will exist) which could be defined as a potential revolutionary subject. And this means that the revolutionary strategies of traditional Marxism—and in a wider sense, of the traditional left—must be tossed in the gutter; strategies which essentially consist in the attempt to awaken the alleged revolutionary subject by means of agitation and propaganda and to organize it in the party form.”

    sadly, I just saw that Robert Kurz of Krisis passed away suddenly about a month ago.

    • August 14, 2012 at 6:13 am

      Yes. I just discovered him myself, although I did publish the Krisis groups piece on labor a few years back. I am going to examine his groundbreaking piece, “The apotheosis of money” sometime this week.

  3. Chris Wright
    August 16, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    Here is some newly translated material of Robert Kurz, worth going over, though I think it has significant limits, everything these day does.




    • August 16, 2012 at 9:33 pm

      Wow. This is some good stuff. Thank you very much. A lot to chew on in these three pieces.

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