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Crisis Theory

Socialism Revolution Reform Crisis Theory Karl Marx

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#1
caltrek

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The introductory posts are taken from another thread.  A thread that promptly became buried in other matters.  So, I am extracting what was started and placing it here. Crisi theory, although it may have definite socialist roots, should not be considered as merely a school of thought within socialism, or merely a theory about capitalism. It is not even entirely political or economic in nature, as it also has a definite psychological component.  But I am getting ahead of my story.  

 

From Yuli Ban:

 

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The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#2
caltrek

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Or

 

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Drawing of Bernie Sanders by Nathaniel St. Clair via Counterpunch


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#3
caltrek

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Oh, how I hate coming across like some wise ass know-it-all, but I think my old college professor James O'Connor would be proud.  He wrote a series of books around crises theory. One of (if not the) earliest was The Fiscal Crisis of the State.  The book was published about four or five years before I was a student in one of his classes. After I graduated, I went to work for a County governmental agency.  I mentioned the book to one of my bosses and he later told me that the County Administrative Officer was known to keep a copy of the book in his drawer and sometimes sneak a peak before or after meetings.  Of course, he didn't advertise that fact because of the considerable prejudice that existed against Marxist tainted academics of that time. 


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#4
caltrek

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Here is an article by James O'Connor, who wrote extensively about crisis theory.  Allow 30 to 40 minutes to read:

 

https://libcom.org/l...n-james-oconnor

 

If that is just too long a read, go ahead and skip forward.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#5
caltrek

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From Cyber Rebel:

 

Real talk. If capitalism seriously collapses due to coronavirus & many other issues within the market, what's the alternative?

 

Democratic Socialism? We elect socialist & Soviets to solve the issue. 

State Capitalism? Seemingly the preferred method of handling irregularities within Capital, only permanent this time.

Communism? Explain which "type" if you believe so. 

Fascism? Again, explain which type if you believe so.

Capitalism+ with automation & UBI?

Something entirely new?

 

Yuli Ban's response:

 

Depends on what happens.

 

WJ Fox's response:

 

Neofeudalism is what we'll end up with.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#6
caltrek

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From Joe00UK:

 

 

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The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#7
caltrek

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In re-reading O'Connor, it struck me that he talks about (economic) crisis as having two possible attributes:

  1. A dramatic excess of demand over supply.
  2. A dramatic excess of supply over demand

I think a blend is possible.  Take the present crisis.  Policy makers seem to be most worried about a shortage in demand - hence a willingness to distribute checks to a sizable portion of the population.  Yet, on supermarket shelves, there are some items where those providing supplies are having a difficult time keeping up with demand. In my area, that includes paper towels, toilet paper, and bottled water.  There has also been discussion of a shortage of such things as ventilators and certain types of masks.  Still, I think the main problem there is that of hoarding. Panic has resulted in buyers stocking up on supplies well in excess of their immediate needs. So the shortage problem is likely to be of relatively short duration (I hope).  

 

That leaves the problem of sustaining demand.  There go those printing presses. Normally, a sure prelude to inflation.  Yet, in this case, the stimulus is meant to restore demand to previous levels.  So, supply is, for the most part, there to meet demand.  Moreover, the U.S. has a very strong currency.  It is likely to still be seen as a desirable currency to hold.  So that will also help.

 

True supply shortages may occur due to our overall destruction of the environment.  Depletion of fishing stocks, draughts, etc. pose a real threat.  Counter to that are new technologies to assist in increasing yield, and exploitation of new food sources, such as insects. 

 

Psychologically, crisis may take the form of manic depressive behavior.  Spurts of  perhaps unmerited optimism followed by deep  bouts of pessimistic depression, and so on and so forth. 

 

With that, I am taking a break.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#8
caltrek

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It Takes a Crisis

 

http://tsd.naomiklei...it-takes-crisis

 

Introduction:

(NaoimiKlein.org) Why do so many nations have economic policies more laissezfaire and social programs less generous than their citizens prefer? In her explosive counterhistory of global capitalism, against the glib accounts offered by mainstream economists and celebrity journalists, Naomi Klein argues that the answer lies in a simple two-step strategy, honed over three decades by an international cabal of freemarket fundamentalists: First, exploit crises—whether due to economics, politics, or natural disasters––to advance an agenda that would never survive the democratic process during ordinary times. Next, create a “corporatocracy,” in which multinationals and political leaders align to promote their interests at the public’s expense.


The idea that crises can produce openings for radical change is ancient, and Karl Marx surely ranks among its most notable proponents. Yet in The Shock Doctrine, Klein asserts that only in the late twentieth century did it become programmatic among a cadre of power brokers—libertarian intellectuals, corporate executives, and political elites— intent on inducing economic transformation on a global scale. Milton Friedman, the late University of Chicago professor who is commonly called the most influential economist of the last fifty years, was the inspiration. Friedman laid out his theory in the 1982 preface to his signature treatise, Capitalism and Freedom, originally published in 1962: “Only a crisis—actual or perceived––produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. . . . Our basic function [is] to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible”—by which he meant enacting radical deregulation, privatization of national industries and public-sector programs, and deep cuts to the welfare state— “becomes the politically inevitable.”

Klein, the author of No Logo (2000), a popular manifesto on the cultural politics of branding and anticorporate activism, calls this species of political opportunism “disaster capitalism.” Her new book is a broad survey of its rise as a mode of development imposed on unwilling populations throughout the world. It is also a searing indictment of its practitioners, from the “Chicago School juntas” of Friedman acolytes who collaborated with murderous dictators so long as they professed enthusiasm for free markets, to the international-development organizations that demanded “shock therapy” and showed little regard for the welfare of those who absorbed it, to the corrupt officials who profited from what they benignly labeled “structural adjustment.”

The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#9
caltrek

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From CyberRebel:

 

 

To reiterate what I said in the (another) thread, I just do not believe the current system can withstand wave after wave of crisis like what's currently going on with Covid-19. If we are being asked to sacrifice the lives of millions to safeguard an already broken system, then perhaps it's said system that should be sacrificed instead. I'll ponder more on this during isolation from the world, be well futurist.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#10
caltrek

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Still, I think the main problem there is that of hoarding

 

I meant of paper towels, toilet paper and bottled water.  Shortages in ventilators and certain types of masks are probably more due to a spike in demand in obvious response to the spread of the virus. Hoarding and theft, of course, can aggravate that problem.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#11
PhoenixRu

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It Takes a Crisis

 

http://tsd.naomiklei...it-takes-crisis

 

Yes, interesting text. But I think people intuitively knew this "only a crisis produces real change" idea for millennia before Milton Friedman. I heard (but not sure) that Chinese hieroglyph meaning "crisis" also means "opportunity".

 

There is the mathematical theory describing this process: when system (society) is in steady equilibrium, it takes a huge (impossible) effort to get it out of there. The system is just fluctuating around this equilibrium: "life goes as usual". But sometimes these fluctuations increasing sharply and the equilibrium becomes unstable. People may not even notice this qualitative change: "yes, some hardships, but life goes as usual". But then, suddenly, the whole system entering the bifurcation point, where fluctuations becoming fundamentally unpredictable (say, the will and actions of one single man can push the whole society on the new way). This bifurcation point is very brief (historically speaking) and society quickly finds a new steady equilibrium where, again, it takes an impossible effort to get it out of there.

 

Btw, I suspect this "coronavirus crisis" - not the pandemic by itself but its social consequences - may become one of those "bifurcation points". But maybe I'm exaggerating. Current events are always seems more important and meaningful than they really are.

 

Just my thoughts, I hope this didn't derailed the thread.



#12
caltrek

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I hope this didn't derailed the thread.

 

No, it does not derail the thread. Thank you for your contribution.

 

There is also such a thing as a crisis in scientific theory.  PhoenixRu's post is a nice way of transitioning into a discussion of that sort of crisis. That sort of crisis theory was developed by Thomas Kuhn in his work The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

 

In science the steady equilibrium can be disturbed by an accumulation of observations which cannot easily be explained by existing theory. Exiting theory is then modified so that evidence better fits the theory.  So a new equilibrium, or in this case new paradigm, is reached. Often, younger scientists are better able or more willing to adopt the new paradigm, while older scientists cling to the older theoretical outlook. An example being Newtonian physics being replaced by relativistic theories of Einstein and company.  It was Kuhn himself who coined the word "paradigm."  

 

Ordinary science was described by Kuhn as solving puzzles according to existing rules of science and technology. Revolutions introduced new rules that could be used. Part of a new equilibrium in which science can still progress through more cumulative quantitative processes.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#13
caltrek

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I've been reading The Meaning of Crisis by James O'Connor. It was first published in 1987.  On the jacket, it indicates that 
O'Connor's books have been translated into Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Japanese.  While his Fiscal Crisis of the State very much reflected the time in which it was written, The Meaning of Crisis is truly impressive in how it anticipates and thus explains current developments.  Sometimes in a somewhat accidental manner.  Other times by tracing trends that have only grown more pronounced since 1987.  Under the somewhat accidental category is this observation in which the very roots of the word crisis are explained:

 

 

In ancient Greece, crises were "moments of truth when the significance of men and events were brought to light."  Another meaning was the "turning point" of an illness "in which it is decided whether or not the (individual) organisms' self-healing powers are sufficient for recovery.

 

In a footnote to this passage, O'Connor expands upon this point:

 

 

...crises "occur in diseases whenever the disease increases in intensity or goes away or changes into another disease or ends altogether."  In Melvin Rader's words, "Hippocrates introduced the term 'crisis" to characterize the turning point in a disease when death or recovery hangs in the balance."   


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#14
caltrek

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One of the strengths of O'Connor's work is his contrast between orthodox Marxists and neo-Marxists.  A criticism he has of orthodox Marxists is their inability to learn from the developments of the twentieth (and now early twenty-first) century to build upon theories developed by Marx (and Engels) in the nineteenth century. Orthodox Marxists tend to focus too much on the declining rate of profit and the stresses this puts on the system.  Often missing is a more complete development of social and political crisis theory. 

 

I have notice that many orthodox Marxists fail to understand the importance of social justice work and fail to understand the importance of identity politics. Concurrently, many in the civil rights community fail to develop and incorporate a theory of class struggle into their work.  In my mind, identity politics should be seen as a gateway to developing class struggle.  Understanding the role of slavery in our past helps us to understand the historical role that institution played in separating blacks from the rest of the labor force.  Understanding the history of Hispanics, for example in the development of the southwest, helps us to understand how Hispanics are separated from the rest of the labor force.  Especially in the West, Asian immigrants also played an important role in the development of capitalism within the United States.

 

As O'Connor explains:

Only struggles which aim to unite the proletariat (broadly defined) create solid forms of social reintegration: they do so by reconstituting "individual" to mean "social individuality and indivisibility" and by re-creating within democratic processes good fits between real people and real social, material, and political activity.  Whether struggles by "quasi-groups" - for example, environmentalist and consumer groups, and ascriptive groups such as women and oppressed minorities - should be politically organized to defend against charges of anarchism (hence legitimating a return to authoritarianism, which Habermas feared) remains an open question.  Whether struggles within quasi groups and ascriptive groups should obey basic principles of discursive reason and democracy as the precondition for a diversified, non-totalitarian unity definitely is not.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls






Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Socialism, Revolution, Reform, Crisis Theory, Karl Marx

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