fwd: period of distress

Doug Henwood dhenwood at panix.com
Sun Oct 4 17:31:38 PDT 1998

Rakesh Bhandari wrote:

>Marx writes:
>"If the crisis appears, therefore,because purchase and sale become
>separated, it becomes a *money* crisis, as soon as money has developed
>as a means of payment, and this second form of crisis [non fufillment
>of a whole series of payments which depend on the sale of particular
>commodities within a particular time] follows as matter of course, when
>the first occurs [commodities are not saleable at their worth in a certain
>period of time].In investigating why the general possibility of crisis
>turns into a real crisis, in investigating the conditions of crisis,
>it is therefore quite superfluous to concern oneself with the forms of
>crisis which arise out of the development of money as a means of
>payment. This is precisely why economists like to
>suggest that this *obvious* form is the *cause* of crises. (In so far as
>the development of money as a means of payment is linked with the
>development of credit and *excess credit* the causes of the latter have to
>be examined, but this is not yet the place to do it.)" Theories of Surplus
>Value, Part II, p. 514-515.

Marx also writes in K vol 3, around p. 570 of the Vintage edition:

"[Credit is] the principal lever of overproduction and excessive speculation in commerce, this is simply because the reproduction process, which is elastic by nature, is now forced to its most extreme limit; and this is because a great part of the social capital is applied by those who are not its owners, and who therefore proceed quite unlike owners who, when they functio themselves, anxiously weigh the limits of their private capital. This only goes to show how the valorization of capital founded on the antithetical character of capitalist production permits actual free development only up to a certain point, which is constantly broken through by the credit system. The credit system hence accelerates the material development of the productive forces and the creation of the world market, which it is the historical task of the cpitalist mode of production to bring to a certain level of development, as material foundations for new forms of production. At the same time, credit accelerates the violent outbreaks of this contradiction, crises, and with these the elements of dissolution of the old mode of production.... The credit system has a dual character immanent in it: on the one hand it develops the motive of capitalist production, enrichment by the exploitation of others' labour, into the purest and most colossal system of gambling and swindling, and restricts ever more the already small number of the exploiters of social wealth; on the other hand however it constitutes the form of transition towards a new mode of production. It is this dual character that gives the principal spokesmen for credit, from Law through to Isaac Péreire, their nicley mixed character of swindler and prophet."


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