The Long Wave Revisited

Doug Henwood dhenwood at
Thu Sep 10 11:59:31 PDT 1998

Mark Jones wrote:

>But as Rakesh's truly marvellous writings on Grossman and Brenner show
>or imply (thanks, Rakesh, we are all in your debt) the Bretton Woods
>system could only have served to promote the unrestrained development
>(or rather, development without the usual cyclical vents and interrupts)
>of the contradictions 'within the abode of production' which was the
>reality of the postwar long boom: ie the stoking of the furnace of class
>struggle. The idea that liberalisation is the enemy (taken to an extreme
>here by Chris Burford) and that precisely a return to the postwar
>halcyon era is indicated, now being heard even in the rockribbed WSJ, is
>really an important one to address: it is the question of questions. Can
>a return to the conventions of Bretton Woods renew accumulation? Or is
>the bust here to stay? Actually it is only necessary to take a slightly
>longer views, say the 'short C20' to answer this question. Keynesianism
>has never and can never work. Bretton Woods was all illusion: the
>reality is one of an ascedning spiral of historical crises of
>accumulation which began in the late C18 and is now reaching an apogee.

Hey, why not follow Jim O'Connor's lead, and say capitalism has been in crisis since the 14th century?

I wrote a paper on narcissism back when I was in grad school. Next to my description of narcissistic personality disorder, the prof wrote "you make it sound like someone with NPD couldn't tie his shoes." I read stuff like this and I think "you make it sound like capitalism can't tie its own shoes." But it has for centuries, Mark. I get the same feeling reading Brenner's piece - he pushes the "crisis" back to like 1958, and describes the U.S. 1950s as "stagnant." Well, in comparison to what? If you want to say that capitalism is a system given to instability and crisis, ok, but what about those productive forces and cheap commodities that Marx wrote about?


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