Table of Contents
Chapter 1. Introduction
Chapter 2. Crises –– Divides –– Capital
Chapter 3. Giving Marx Another Chance
Chapter 4. Beyond Marx
Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Studies, University of Stavanger, Stavanger, Norway
“A Return to Marx – and Then Beyond” examines the current bourgeoisie capitalism. Capitalism is addressed as a unique concrete historically reality. This mode of production inherits traditional pre modern social forms that are cultivated as national identities. National sentiments are expressed as honor of possessions that are identified through diverse “we” and preserved as “our values”. Capitalism transforms and modifies such pre modern heritages into an undistinguishable mix of both modern and pre modern social forms. Focus in this book will be on the unique material features of capitalism.
Attention will be provided to the works of Karl Marx, particularly the second volume of Capital, where Marx apparently got stuck. His deadlock indicates a serious deficit associated with investigations of accumulation and innovation. Innovation and accumulation will, in this book, be linked to uncertainty and reoccurring crises that signify the incapacities of the capitalist system to operate as a viable mode of production.
In the theory of value, Marx places human social labor in a unique historical position, where social labor is applied together with previously produced means in order to deliver new output. Anarchism and the insufficiency to provide necessary and appropriate output causes disturbances and crises.
Several critical examinations of selected views on crises, uncertainties and dysfunctions of capitalism are offered. Selected strategies based on monetary solutions and financial instruments aim to regenerate balance. Rather than gaining a balance, reoccurring disruptive circumstances are assumed to be the normal state of affairs.
Michael J. Piore and Charles F. Sabel and The Second Industrial Divide: Possibilities for Prosperity from 1984 draws attention to a strategy based on a system of flexible specialization accompanying the introduction of Information and Communication Technology. Their second historical divide associated with the new production strategy is critically examined.
Thomas Piketty and his Capital in the Twenty-First Century from 2014 emphasizes capital, wealth distribution and inequality. A critical account of the concept of capital is a paramount assignment in the critical investigations into his contribution.
Marx is offered another chance through the critical investigations of some basic concepts introduced by David Harvey in A Companion to Marx’s Capital, Volume 2 from 2013. Harvey’s emphasis on the role of credit and finance are critically investigated and justifies an alternative return to Marx.
A renewed interpretation of Marx corresponds with his assumption that a balanced and stable economy is an illusion. Capitalism has to accumulate and create the necessary flexibility in order to reproduce. On the other hand, this system of accumulation is anarchic, arbitrary and contradictory.
Identification of sources for flexibility and accumulation becomes a deadlock for Marx. Innovation is insufficiently accounted for in his analysis. A serious deficit with his whole position emerges that paves the way for an alternative beyond Marx.
The alternative beyond Marx draws attention to a wider context of the critical investigations. Some philosophical implications concerning the concepts of freedom, independence, determinism and randomness are touched upon. Implications for the much-debated concepts of basis and superstructure are addressed. The consequences for the future possibility for the human species to cope with crises and other aspects of our destiny are sketched.