The economists have changed Marx, in various ways;
the point is to interpret him — correctly.
June 13, 2015
Honesty is the Best Policy: An Open Letter to the CWI Leadership
Dear Deputy General Secretary Hannah Sell,
The organizers of the June 27 debate between us at Birbeck College––the Marxist Discussion Group (economics) and independent Marxists––have decided that the debate is going ahead, “whether the Socialist Party’s Executive Committee chooses to defend its flawed position … or not” (see attached statement). I will honor my commitment to attend. And whether or not the leadership of your group is physically present, the debate’s organizers assure us that your positions on the causes of the latest crisis of capitalism will be represented “as faithfully as possible based on the written documents and video footage which is available.”
Your message to me of May 20, written on behalf of your group’s leadership, contains egregious misrepresentations. You wrongly state that I “supposedly” wrote to “invite Peter Taaffe or Lynn Walsh to participate in a debate.” As you well know, the truth is that you invited me. On September 6, 2013, you wrote to me that “We have never avoided debates on important issues, and will not do so on this occasion. We would like to organise a public debate in London to which you would be invited to speak.” You also challenged me to “a similar public debate on these issues in the US.” And five days later, I wrote back to “gladly accept your kind invitation to debate the causes of the latest capitalist crisis, at public events in London and the U.S., with whoever you choose to represent the leadership of your party” (both documents are available via the homepage of http://akliman.squarespace.com). You have had ample opportunity to respond to my message of acceptance and to organize the debate at a time and place of your choosing.
Another egregious misrepresentation in your May 20 message is your statement that I “have never produced a reply” to “Peter Taaffe and Lynn Walsh's document taking up your analysis of the causes of the crisis.” As the organizers of the debate note, this is simply false: “But Kliman did reply just weeks later in a two part article published on his blog (http://akliman.squarespace.com/). What is the point of this lie?”
You write that internal “debates have been conducted in the traditions of our organisation with equal time for both sides and comradely discussion.” I am not part of and have little in common with your group, so I did not participate in these debates.
However, I have had a taste of your traditions and what passes for “comradely discussion” in your group––not excluding threats of physical violence. Learning that the debate will take place on June 27, a prominent member of your group, Jamie M. Davis wrote to me in May 15 Facebook comments that “I invite you to my council estate where I’m sure you’ll get your oversized head kicked in. Wanker” and “I’m tempted to come to this [debate] now just to give you the slap you roundly deserve.” (These comments, posted on the page set up by the organizers of the debate, have been removed, but screenshots are available from me upon request.)
In light of this and other “comradely discussion” I’ve been subjected to, and in light of your groups’ suspension of members who disagree with the leadership’s position, I don’t find it surprising that the leadership won its “democratic” internal debate.
The organizers of the debate state, “Surely, there is at least one member [of the CWI] capable of defending the economic perspectives of his or her party, against the opinion of a well-known Marxist economist, in a democratic public forum.” One member who might fit the bill is Kshama Sawant, a trained economist. She has written that “Raising wages is a vital measure to break out of the depressionary spiral. … When working people have more income, their spending power goes up, which in turn boosts sales, which further increases jobs and overall spending power, and so on (http://slog.thestranger.com/…/the-minimum-wage-putting-some…). Might she be capable of defending this underconsumptionist claim against my criticisms––in a democratic public forum?
You wrote to me that “We have never avoided debates on important issues, and will not do so on this occasion.” It is now apparent that this is false. You do indeed avoid debates on important issues, and you are trying to do so on this occasion. You will not succeed. Those who attend the June 27 debate will hear what you say about the crisis. The only thing under your control is your corporeal presence.
Forward with the debate!
Kliman vs. Taaffe / Walsh: The debate will go ahead whether the CWI leadership chooses to defend its position or not
On Saturday 27 June at Birkbeck College Andrew Kliman will take up an invitation to debate the causes of capitalist crisis which the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) first issued in 2013 but has since repeatedly reneged upon. Last month, deputy general secretary Hannah Sell sent a message to Kliman on behalf of Peter Taaffe and Lynn Walsh stating that ‘we feel there are no grounds for us to participate in your meeting on 27 June.’ But the debate is between two theoretical positions, not two people. It will go ahead, whether the Socialist Party’s Executive Committee chooses to defend its flawed position before the 146 attendees, including dozens of Socialist Party members, or not.
Sell’s letter states that ‘Peter Taaffe and Lynn Walsh's document taking up your analysis of the causes of the crisis was published in September 2013. You have never produced a reply’. But Kliman did reply just weeks later in a two part article published on his blog (http://akliman.squarespace.com/). What is the point of this lie?
The organisers of this debate do not believe in the capability of Taaffe and Walsh to prove that a fall in the rate of profit did not precipitate the current crisis. But we believe that their position, which is widely held in the bourgeois press, deserves to be represented in this debate.
Many Socialist Party members agree with their leadership’s analysis of the crisis and support its political conclusions. To represent these views, a proxy for Taaffe and Walsh will represent the leadership’s position as faithfully as possible based on the written documents and video footage which is available.
We recognise that this is not ideal. The organisers of the debate therefore extend our invitation to debate the causes of capitalist crisis to any representative of the Socialist Party or of its sister parties in the Committee for a Workers’ International.
There are several thousand members of the CWI internationally. Many of them hold important elected positions in governments and trade unions. Surely, there is at least one member capable of defending the economic perspectives of his or her party, against the opinion of a well-known Marxist economist, in a democratic public forum.
There are 146 confirmed attendees for the debate, either attending in person or participating from all over the world via a live stream. They are attending because they understand the importance of understanding the causes of the crisis and wish to discuss the answers to these key questions:
• Was the 2007-8 crisis caused by neoliberalism and financialisation or was it a result of the central contradictions of capitalism?
• What is coming: stagnation, recovery or an even worse recession, and how do Marxists predict and respond to capitalist crises?
• Are corporations drowning in profits and cash hoards which could be spent on stimulus programmes to ‘save’ the economy from another crisis?
• Are crises caused by inequality or by the inherent contradictions of capitalist production?
• How do we build consciousness and prepare the ground for revolution? By winning reforms and building mass reformist parties, or by challenging the basis of the capitalist system itself?
We believe that the inability of the Socialist Party’s leadership to attend a debate with a noted Marxist economist on the doorstep of its headquarters is an expression of its political and organisational weakness. Its Bolivian section, Alternativa Socialista Revolucionaria, announced its split from the CWI in May (http://alternativasocialistarevolucionaria.blogspot.co.uk/…). Electoral success in the USA has been marred by dismal failures in the UK and South Africa, high profile resignations in Ireland and the consistent wrong footing of the CWI across the world in its vocal support for pro-capitalist left parties which rapidly capitulate to the ruling class.
The most advanced sections of the emerging global working class are crying out for a revolutionary programme which is articulated properly. Instead, the CWI leadership offers radical Keynesian policies and presents its informal alliances with union bureaucrats and bourgeois parties as victories when they are really admissions of defeat. The failure of the Socialist Party EC to attend this debate highlights its intellectual poverty, its terminal aversion to debates which are not stage managed and its inadequacy when faced with the political tasks of the 21st century.
The overwhelming majority of CWI members are dedicated class fighters in the best traditions of revolutionary Marxism. If any one of them would like to represent the CWI in this debate, we warmly invite you to contact us via the official Facebook event.
The debate takes place at Birkbeck College, University of London, Malet Street, Room B36, and begins at 6.30pm.
We hope to see you there.
September 23, 2014
"I Top Manager delle Corporation si sono effettivamente intascati i salari dei lavoratori?," Antonio Pagliarone's translation of my Sept. 18 Truthdig article, "Were Top Corporate Executives Really Hogging Workers’ Wages?"
May 10, 2014
Rejoinder to Robert Paul Wolff (on physicalism and the exploitation theory of profit): click here for downloadable PDF document. This is the corrected version of the document uploaded earlier today. ____________________________________________________________________
October 21, 2013
Whole Lotta Mistakin’ Going On: A Reply to Taaffe, Walsh, and the Executive Committee of the Socialist Party (England and Wales)
September 11, 2013
Upcoming Debate with the Socialist Party (England and Wales) Leadership, on the Latest Capitalist Crisis
The Executive Committee of the Socialist Party (England and Wales) has invited me to debate the causes of the latest capitalist crisis, at events in London and the U.S., with a representative or representatives of the views of the party’s leadership.
Click here to read the invitation and my message accepting it.
By Popular Demand:
The Unmaking of Marx's Capital: Heinrich's Attempt to Eliminate Marx's Crisis Theory
Michael Heinrich’s recent Monthly Review article claims that the law of the tendential fall in the rate of profit (LTFRP) was not proved by Marx and cannot be proved. Heinrich also argues that Marx had doubts about the law and that, for this and other reasons, his theory of capitalist economic crisis was only provisional and more or less in continual flux.
Ravi Bali has published a VERY impressive review essay on Reclaiming Marx's "Capital" and The Failure of Capitalist Production (my books) at A World to Win.
A Marx for our times: Ravi Bali reviews the work of Andrew Kliman, which shows how Marx’s theories have real meaning for today.
My new book
The Failure of
Underlying Causes of
the Great Recession
is now in print!
UPCOMING EVENTS ON THE BOOK:
…..Feb. 6, 2012. NEW YORK CITY. 7 PM. Bluestockings Books, 172 Allen St., Manhattan. (212) 777-6028.
…..Feb. 10. TORONTO. 1:30 PM. York University Dept. of Political Science; Verney Room, Ross Building South, 6th Floor.
…..Feb. 15. WINNIPEG. 2:30-4:00 PM. Global Political Economy program, University of Manitoba; Concourse Lounge, University College. (On Feb. 16, 7:30 PM, Kliman will also talk on “Reclaiming Marx’s Capital” at the Marx Reading Group. Aqua Books, 274 Garry Street, Winnipeg. (204) 943-7555.)
…..Feb. 22. NEW YORK CITY. New School.
…..Feb. 26-27. MOSCOW.
…..Feb. 29. TAMPERE, Finland.
…..March 1. HELSINKI, Finland.
…..March 5. LONDON. 6:30 PM. Bookmarks Bookshop. 1 Bloomsbury Street, WC1B3QE. Introduction by Joseph Choonara, talk by Kliman, discussion, wine.
…..March 6. SALFORD (near Manchester, UK).
…..March 8. SHEFFIELD, UK.
…..March 10. NEWCASTLE, UK.
…..weekend of March 17-18. NEW YORK CITY. Pace University, 1 Pace Plaza, Manhattan. Left Forum panel on book. Speakers: Brendan Cooney, Barry Finger, Alan Freeman, Anne Jaclard, and Mike West. Comments by Kliman.
Check this space again for additional events and additional details, or contact Marxist-Humanist Initiative.
Check out Reclaiming Marx's "Capital": The Movie on YouTube.
I found it moving and poignant.