ICC position on Decadence and the Bourgeoisie in Developing Nations?

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Jun 1 2015 16:42
ICC position on Decadence and the Bourgeoisie in Developing Nations?

If capitalism in it's ascendant period was progressive, why isn't capitalism in any of the developing nations ascendant or progressive in the 20th and 21st centuries?

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Jun 1 2015 17:32
Jamal Rayyan wrote:
If capitalism in it's ascendant period was progressive, why isn't capitalism in any of the developing nations ascendant or progressive in the 20th and 21st centuries?

boom!

Good question.

(Short answer: decadence theory doesn't work)

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Jun 1 2015 17:46

I'm currently in the pub, so perfectly placed to pitch in! smile
I suppose the liberals would say protectionism - is this true?

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Jun 1 2015 20:10

For extensive description & criticism of the ICC's decadence theory;
http://libcom.org/forums/thought/can-capitalism-grant-meaningful-reforms...
http://libcom.org/forums/thought/decadence-theory-26032006
http://libcom.org/forums/thought/general-discussion-decadence-theory-170...
http://libcom.org/forums/theory/confusion-about-decadence-theory-1008201...

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Jun 1 2015 23:20

If capitalism in it's ascendant period was progressive, why isn't capitalism in any of the developing nations ascendant or progressive in the 20th and 21st centuries?

Because capitalism is a world system, which reaches its period of decline - and thus poses the possibility of proletarian revolution - as a global mode of production, not country by country. This point was made very clearly in this contribution from Bilan in the 1930s http://en.internationalism.org/ir/128/bilan-period-of-transition

radicalgraffiti
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Jun 2 2015 00:06
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Because capitalism is a world system, which reaches its period of decline - and thus poses the possibility of proletarian revolution - as a global mode of production, not country by country.

and yet you appear to be ignoring most of the world in declaring capitalism to have gone int decline in the early 20th century

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Jun 2 2015 08:05

Decline doesn't mean no development, no accumulation. It means that the social relations of capitalism increasingly become a barrier and a threat to human progress, which demands the creation of new social relations. There has been a huge 'development' of capitalism in China, but despite all the analogies with what happened in the early days of capitalism in Europe, it is taking place in a global context in which communism has become both possible and necessary. This wasn't the case in the 1840s when Engels wrote The Conditions of the Working Class - capitalism at that point was a small enclave surrounded by other modes of production. Marx and Engels were wrong, in 1848, to think that the communist revolution could follow almost seamlessly on from the bourgeois revolutions then taking place across Europe. On the other hand, after the Communist International was right to declare in 1919 that, with the world war and the worldwide revolutionary wave, capitalism had entered a "new epoch", the epoch of the international proletarian revolution. This didn't mean however that there were not still large areas of economy outside the orbit of capitalist social relations at that time, and the 'conquest' of these areas by capital has continued into the 21st century.

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Jun 2 2015 08:39

So "decline" basically means "growth".

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Jun 2 2015 09:25

Marx's thought encompasses the notion of a system that may still grow, but is also in decay, as we argued in this article: http://en.internationalism.org/internationalreview/199311/1570/study-cap...

"To say that a society is in decline is not to say that the productive forces have simply ceased to grow, that they have come to a complete halt. And Marx certainly did not mean to imply that a social system can only give way to another when every single possibility of development has been exhausted. As we can see from the following passage in the Grundrisse, he shows that even in decay a society does not stop moving:

"Considered ideally, the dissolution of a given form of consciousness sufficed to kill a whole epoch. In reality, this barrier to consciousness corresponds to a definite degree of development of the forces of material production and hence of wealth. True, there was not only a development on the old basis, but also a development of this basis itself. The highest development of this basis itself (the flower into which it transforms itself; but it is always this basis, this plant as flower; hence wilting after the flowering and as a consequence of the flowering) is the point at which it is itself worked out, developed, into the form in which it is compatible with the highest development of the forces of production, hence also the richest development of individuals. As soon as this point is reached, the further development appears as decay, and the new development begins from a new basis" (p 541).

The wording is complicated, unpolished: this is very often the problem with reading the Grundrisse. But the conclusion seems limpid enough: the decay of a society is not the end of all movement. Decadence is a movement, but one characterised by a slide towards catastrophe and self-destruction. Can anyone seriously doubt that twentieth century capitalist society, which devotes more productive forces to war and destruction than any previous social formation, and whose continued reproduction is a threat to the continuation of life on Earth, has reached the stage where its 'development appears as decay'?"

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Jun 2 2015 09:33
Alf wrote:
Can anyone seriously doubt that twentieth century capitalist society, which devotes more productive forces to war and destruction than any previous social formation, and whose continued reproduction is a threat to the continuation of life on Earth, has reached the stage where its 'development appears as decay'?"

As opposed to the 19th-century where all people did was build schools and hospitals?

And anyway, don't you see 1914 as a period when capitalism was progressive? I.e. when millions of workers were massacring each other, and 1918 or 19 as the period when it became "decadent", i.e. when they stopped massacring each other?

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Jun 2 2015 09:39

Yes, it's true, the transition from one historical epoch to another takes place in approximately 24 hours. But even then you've got your dates wrong, because everyone who has ever laughed at the theory of decadence knows that the key 24 hours was on 3-4 August 1914.

I will let others respond to the arguments of Bilan and Marx for a bit, I think.

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Jun 2 2015 10:00

See, this is one of the problems. The quote from Grundrisse proves nothing. There's other stuff in Grundrisse (and elsewhere in Marx) that's similarly convoluted and that I'd disagree with. There's stuff that contradicts what Marx wrote elsewhere. So I'll completely disregard it. Unless we're having a philological discussion on Marx's work, such arguments from text are irrelevant anyway. Theories of decadence make certain empirical claims. These claims probably seemed extremely plausible after WW1 or during the Great Depression. They seem less plausible today. So people who still want to cling to decadence theory (is it because they can't imagine better arguments for abolishing capital?) have to make ad hoc modifications to accomodate for that. One of them is the redefinition of "decline" that turns it into "growth" plus some historico-philosophical qualifications.

Interestingly, if you completely disregard decadence theories, you lose zero explanatory power. When there is a crisis, decadence theorists say "We told you so!". When there's an upswing, they tell you "None of this proves us wrong!". This schtick will always work, at least with the more impressionable audiences, due to the cyclical nature of capitalist crises.

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Jun 2 2015 12:00

Anyone who's read history can see that class societies periodically rise and fall. This concept has been a theme in works of history from the days of Heredotus, theorized by Ibn Khaldun in Arab societies and popularized by Gibbon to the modern Western society in his history of Rome. What Marx and communists who employed his method afterwards did was to apply this concept to modes of production. Saying that capitalism is in period of decline is not an arguement to abolish it. It is an arguement stating that it can be abolished.

Most decadence theories assert that capitalism entered its period of decline and fall around WW1. There were two main reasons behind this. First is that by the war, capital had established a, shall we say, formal domination over the entire world and become a world system. In other words, contrary to before, there were no feudal forces in considerable quantities to beat down, and most of the remnants of the feudal aristocracy had become bourgeois themselves. Capitalism, by this point, was unchallenged from any other class but the proletaians. I think this is a pretty undisputable historical fact.

The second reason is the war itself. The first world war showed that there was now a considerable difference between how wars was fought in the last century and the total wars of 20th century. Aside from two world wars and a cold war, there's been a countless number of local wars, a phenomenon still ongoing. As unbelievable as it might be, this wasn't how wars were fought between the capitalists all the time, even under capitalism. In early capitalism, we see that wars were relatively short lived (the American Civil War, although it wasn't a war between two capitalist states, does however have a time-period and casualties pointing towards WW1 however). Comparing the number of war casualties in the 19th and the 20th century do give the impression of a radical change. This doesn't mean capitalism was all about flowers and kindness in its early days though: one of the biggest genocides in human history, the genocide of the natives of the Americas was the result of the brutality of early, ascendant capitalism - in fact capitalism rose on their bones and blood.

There are two main theories of the decline of capitalism. The first is Rosa Luxemburg's theory of overproduction and the saturation of the world markets stemming from the end of capitalism's expansion over the world. That this was the reason behind WW1 has made it to high school history text books all over the world. The second is the falling rates of profit, arising essentially from machinization as profit is extracted from the exploitation of the worker, from the expropriation of surplus value. Both theories explain the cyclic natures of crises and are capable of differentiating these crises in the 20th and 21st centruy from those from the 19th century and earlier.

An epoch of decline does not mean every clock magically stops (though there were some, like Trotsky who had a conception like that). What, in my opinion characterizes it are:

1. The central role of militarism, credits and debts in the economy; unhealthy growth in the form of bubbles, leading to deeper crises. In the past, the short lived crises capitalism used to have lead to more expansion and development: today unhealthy growth leads to deeper crises.
2. Decrease in product qualities, various products becoming increasingly short lived so that new models can be sold over and over again.
3. Burrying of certain scientific developments: known examples include the almost ever-lasting razor and lightbulbs; crippling promising research fields such as stem cell research and cold fusion.
4. A massive expansion of the metabolic rift between the human species and nature, causing environmental effects which will be potentially fatal for our species in about 200 years, according to conservative accounts.
5. The impossibility of permanent and generalized reforms within the capitalist world. Those could be won in capital's era of rise in the 19th century (the 8 hour day, end of child labor) but all that was won was eventually lost. This doesn't mean permanent reforms or generalized reforms aren't possible alone, but even then it's pretty difficult.
6. Unsolvable and permanent political instability in developing and underdeveloped countries.

This being said, I think any theory of rise and fall of production relations need to be stripped out of any progressivist influences. Every progress in terms of class based production relations include a regression in some sense, as with every progressive class based production relation in comparision to the previous one is also a regression in terms of a move away from the classless society which dominated the majority of our species existance on the planet whereas it is progressive in that it brings our species to a new classless society. Is there a good arguement against the idea that communism was directly possible from slave societies or feudalism? Well, yes - it didn't happen or even appear as a realistic possibility. Are there examples of non-communist struggles in earlier capitalism which were worth the support of revolutionaries? I can think of two examples from North America: abolitionism and the Native American struggle. Was Marx wrong in supporting the Germans initially in the Franco-Prussion war? Yeah, probably.

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Jun 2 2015 13:43

I don't find this "philosophy of history" very convincing (not even when I come across traces of it in Marx), and the blanket assertions or epithets like "unsolvable" and "permanent" are not helping. I think it's better to look at concrete, measurable stuff like life expectancy, child mortality rates or literacy rates (looking at such figures one has to wonder whether all that had been won was really lost).

Of course capitalism is changing and has expanded tremendously compared to the 1800s. It's what it does. Of course it brings about periodic destruction of use-values and lives and permanent damage to the environment. But this has been characteristic of capital (along with militarism, credit crises and asset bubbles) way before 1914. It is not difficult to understand that as capitalism expands and becomes stronger, all of those things necessarily become more serious. But how one goes from here to a theory of decline escapes me. Perhaps a psychlological argument could be made that theories of decline are a form of escapism for ex- and would-be revolutionaries in periods of defeat.

I also think the "quality of products" argument is weak. Look at the quality of the means of production in car manufacturing or pharmaceuticals or whatever and compare them to 1960s, 1930s or 1890s technology. Of course mass produced, cheap consumption items (and today, thanks to both increases in productivity and cheap East Asian labor, this not only includes food and clothing, but also electronics and things that just weren't available to working class people – or anyone, for that matter – 40 or 50 years ago) are of low quality – but this isn't anything new.

What we're facing today is not a decaying capitalism, but capitalism that is stronger than ever, in economic, military and political terms. It's relatively easy to construct theories of decline in retrospect, like when dealing with ancient Rome or medieval Europe. The record of socialist theories of decline is much less convincing. For every declared period of "permanent crisis" announced, there's been a period of upswing.

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Jun 2 2015 13:51

I'm with Jura. Yes, capitalism has certainly changed since 1846; and since 1876; and with some really significant structural changes since 1896; not to mention since 1914; or 1946; or 1970; but decadence theory doesn't specifically account for the changes, and the ability of capitalism to do, or not do, what it could, or couldn't, at any previous point.

Anyone who thinks capitalism could "solve" the "land question" in 1840 or 1860 or 1880, but not 1914 hasn't paid much attention to the real history of international capitalist development.

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Jun 2 2015 15:24
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I don't find this "philosophy of history" very convincing (not even when I come across traces of it in Marx), and the blanket assertions or epithets like "unsolvable" and "permanent" are not helping... I think it's better to look at concrete, measurable stuff like life expectancy, child mortality rates or literacy rates (looking at such figures one has to wonder whether all that had been won was really lost).

Is it not a bit too positivistic to dismiss "philosophy of history" for data alone?

I don't think the version of decadence theory which has to insist that everything is bad and always getting worse is a particularly good one. Obviously there are lots of things which are worse than they were, and some which aren't for various reasons. I'm not arguing that all has been lost either. At the essance of it though, what decadence means is that the production relations have become a fetter for productive forces. The current world system has an infrastructure which can afford to provide good living standards for the human species but doesn't - this means revolution, and communism are possible.

Quote:
the blanket assertions or epithets like "unsolvable" and "permanent" are not helping.

I guess things look a bit different about bourgeois politics from the Middle East wink

Quote:
Of course capitalism is changing and has expanded tremendously compared to the 1800s. It's what it does. Of course it brings about periodic destruction of use-values and lives and permanent damage to the environment. But this has been characteristic of capital (along with militarism, credit crises and asset bubbles) way before 1914.

This doesn't dispiute that there's been a difference in the scales to amount a qualitative difference. Capitalism doesn't have anywhere else to geographically expand and capitalize today. This is obviously a factor which has effects, given that it was the system of geographic expansion, of both the commodity market and the labor market from the start.

Also, from an economical point of view, I see a sort of anarchronism with this kind of arguements. Of course it's possible that the revolutionaries who studied economy in the 19th century such as Marx were as wrong as those who studied it in the early 20th century such as Luxemburg and Mattick in their general assesment of the qualitative nature of the economic structure. However I haven't seen any strong arguements dealing with the specific issues they've dealt with at the time to show that they were all wrong.

Quote:
I also think the "quality of products" argument is weak. Look at the quality of the means of production in car manufacturing or pharmaceuticals or whatever and compare them to 1960s, 1930s or 1890s technology.

I don't think car manufacturing is a good example of your point here. There is a noticable decrease in the quality of cars from 1980ies onwards, for example, to cars made in the seventies or earlier. The point is that the life-span of cars and white goods or cell phones are getting shorter, which is in my opinion a better indicative of product quality than its various functions.

As for pharmaceuticals, I'd be even more hesitant. The modern medical industry is based on the simple logic of selling more and more drugs, all of which have negative to fatal possible effects to such a degree that people working in pharmaceutical production do not, under any circumstance take them.

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But how one goes from here to a theory of decline escapes me. Perhaps a psychlological argument could be made that theories of decline are a form of escapism for ex- and would-be revolutionaries in periods of defeat.

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What we're facing today is not a decaying capitalism, but capitalism that is stronger than ever, in economic, military and political terms.

Sorry, but it sounds like your position is more reminiscent of a theory of defeat than mine here.

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Jun 2 2015 15:14

Leo wrote: “Saying that capitalism is in period of decline is not an argument to abolish it. It is an argument stating that it can be abolished.”

No. There’s nothing automatic about history. Human will, within the confines of objective historical development, can, and always has, played a part in the evolution of “objective historical circumstance”. Agreed?

The knowledge that you are to sink or swim, to change your circumstances or die (‘the ruin of contending classes’), and to do this collectively - on a class basis - this is an argument to abolish what is. It is a vital aspect of consciousness, of understanding, of collective class will, which acts on ‘reality’.

Otherwise, I’m in broadly in agreement with Leo’s post (though not on the question of Trotsky’s attitude). Steven's (post 2) is, yet again, being dishonest: Aufheben acknowledged their failure to dismantle decadence theory in the very introduction he cites.

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Jun 2 2015 15:27

PS: It should be clear from Alf and Leo's posts that 'decadence theory' is an acquisition that goes far beyond the ICC, even if that organisation is one of its most erudite defenders.

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Jun 2 2015 16:12

Leo left the ICC sometime ago.

I'm not going to comment on the issue of the decline of capitalism at this point. But I did want to add another dimension to the discussion.

Is the ICC's decadence theory Orientalist?

I'm under the impression Marx made the distinction between civilized and uncivilized peoples, which logic entails would lead him to the conclusion that if nothing else European society, Europeans themselves were "less" barbaric than other peoples. That alone inextricably links part of Marx's thinking to the dominant ideologies of the imperialist European powers of the time. Wholly bourgeois ideologies.

If we are to agree that Europeans were "less" barbaric, they also become "more" qualified to impose their cultural values on other societies. It gives them a moral imperative, which is a conception the ICC supports.

So we have an organization that demographically is almost exclusively European, with a theory of the decline of capitalism that says communism only became a distinct possibility because of the class struggle in Europe.

What makes capitalism in what the ICC calls "Central" (mostly meaning European) countries so much more "advanced"?

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Jun 2 2015 17:29
Leo wrote:
Is it not a bit too positivistic to dismiss "philosophy of history" for data alone?

I don't know. Do you care much for labels?

Leo wrote:
At the essance of it though, what decadence means is that the production relations have become a fetter for productive forces. The current world system has an infrastructure which can afford to provide good living standards for the human species but doesn't - this means revolution, and communism are possible.

Are you sure that this hadn't been possible before WW1 (relative to the "good living standards" of those times)? It would be helpful if a theory of decline could show this (as it's the crux of the argument) in a more or less exact way. Already in the 19th century socialists were making the argument that there's enough food etc. to accommodate for everyone. Were they wrong? When exactly did this change? (Don't tell me it was a consequence of WW1.)

Leo wrote:
I guess things look a bit different about bourgeois politics from the Middle East ;)

Yeah, but that's the problem with blanket assertions. Also, historically, the Middle East is not exactly famous for its political stability. I also don't think the Napoleonic wars were a period of greater political stability in Europe than today.

Leo wrote:
This doesn't dispiute that there's been a difference in the scales to amount a qualitative difference. Capitalism doesn't have anywhere else to geographically expand and capitalize today. This is obviously a factor which has effects, given that it was the system of geographic expansion, of both the commodity market and the labor market from the start.

I agree with the relative lack of opportunities to expand (aside from Africa, of course). This is a qualitatively new situation. But I still fail to see the connection with decline. Also, the period of decline is said to have started around 1914. But this situation of "not having anywhere else to expand" is much, much newer than that. So at least a modification of the theory seems necessary... (Another modification may be necessary in 50 years, after Africa is turned into the factory of the world.)

Leo wrote:
Also, from an economical point of view, I see a sort of anarchronism with this kind of arguements. Of course it's possible that the revolutionaries who studied economy in the 19th century such as Marx were as wrong as those who studied it in the early 20th century such as Luxemburg and Mattick in their general assesment of the qualitative nature of the economic structure. However I haven't seen any strong arguements dealing with the specific issues they've dealt with at the time to show that they were all wrong.

I don't mind discussing particular economic arguments, but you'd first have to point them out. Marx surely had some historico-philosophical moments, but he also had many more sober moments. I think he'd be very surprised by the ability of capitalism to adapt and expand. Don't forget the old man expected world revolution as imminent in the 1850s (and a few times before and after that).

Leo wrote:
I don't think car manufacturing is a good example of your point here. There is a noticable decrease in the quality of cars from 1980ies onwards, for example, to cars made in the seventies or earlier.

I meant the means of production (the machines used to produce cars). Certainly means of production are commodities par excellence. Is their quality dwindling as well? That must surely be causing a lot of problems.

Leo wrote:
The point is that the life-span of cars and white goods or cell phones are getting shorter, which is in my opinion a better indicative of product quality than its various functions.

Well, I think all this is anecdotal at best. It's important to differentiate moral from physical lifespan. I don't know anything about cars, but there are three computers in my home, aged 9, 7 and 7. They're all still kicking. I expect them to survive for 3 to 5 more years. My phone was made in 2009. The battery still lasts a week without a charge. I ride a bicycle that's 15 years old. From my experience this is well within the ranges that the older generations of computers and phones and bikes would last. I will have to replace some of these before they die due to moral depreciation, though.

Built-in obsolescence surely exists, but I think it's nowhere near as bad as people make it out to be. There are greater expectations in terms of performance today than there were 20 or 30 or 50 years ago. I think this applies to computers just as well as to washing machines and cars.

Leo wrote:
As for pharmaceuticals, I'd be even more hesitant. The modern medical industry is based on the simple logic of selling more and more drugs, all of which have negative to fatal possible effects to such a degree that people working in pharmaceutical production do not, under any circumstance take them.

Again, I meant the means of production, not the products themselves. Anyway, sorry, but this is borderline conspiracy theory area. Why do you think all of the developed capitalist countries have had a consistently rising life expectancy? It surely isn't due to clean air, healthy food and plenty of exercise.

Leo wrote:
Sorry, but it sounds like your position is more reminiscent of a theory of defeat than mine here.

In a sense you're right. I think we are evidently being defeated (since we clearly haven't won). But I will not try to rationalize that defeat with wishful thinking ("My defeat only proves how weak the opponent is!"). I'd rather over- than underestimate the enemy.

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Jun 2 2015 17:38
jura wrote:
Also, historically, the Middle East is not exactly famous for its political stability

Actually, the Middle East was, until the Arab spring, famous for its stability. Regimes staying in power for decades almost all across the region. Indeed, the ME was so stable that "the Arabs will never rise up" was a powerful orientalist trope within international relations and near east studies in the US. Textbooks are being rewritten now (not joking!).

This is not to say that there hasn't been turmoil in the region and that normal folks haven't experienced instability, but from a political science perspective, the middle East has been one of the most stable regions in the world since WW2.

/derail

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Jun 2 2015 18:05
jura wrote:
Also, historically, the Middle East is not exactly famous for its political stability.

What are you talking about? The Middle East was the most stable region on Earth for nearly 700 years.

Edit: Khawaga had my back! Hah. Sorry for missing that.

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Jun 2 2015 17:53

I meant the late 19th century and the turbulences leading to the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, but most of that wasn't really the Middle East, so sorry about that.

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Jun 2 2015 18:12

To build on what Leo mentions in post #16, there is a whole emerging body of evidence that shows when adjusted for the lag of high infant mortality, people living in the 19th century (with many studies focusing on England) were less vitamin-deficient on average (results in healthier babies), less susceptible to heart disease and had a longer lifespan than we do today. The prevalence of various diseases, like autism and type-II diabetes, has increased 5-10x in some cases.

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Jun 2 2015 19:38
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I agree with the relative lack of opportunities to expand (aside from Africa, of course). This is a qualitatively new situation. But I still fail to see the connection with decline. Also, the period of decline is said to have started around 1914. But this situation of "not having anywhere else to expand" is much, much newer than that. So at least a modification of the theory seems necessary... (Another modification may be necessary in 50 years, after Africa is turned into the factory of the world.)

I don't agree with the "relative lack of opportunities to expand." This "no more opportunities for expansion" is confusing space/geography with the accumulation of capital. Did capital have room to expand before WW1? Sure. After? Sure. Was the Great Depression caused because there were no more opportunities for expansion? If so, how did capitalism expand after WW2? How did it expand in Greece in the 1960s and early 1970s? Was Greece "new territory"? Of course not. And in the US in the 1990s-- when capital spending increased, profits increased? Was that new territory.

The issue is what does it take, and what are the results of the expansion: This is where advanced capitalism is distinguished from emerging, developing capitalism: It takes the destruction of the accumulated and living components of capital. That changes many things-- including the nature of warfare. That change gets initiated with the US Civil War; refined in the "meat-grinder" strategy of Grant; the "forage and waste" tactics of Sherman; and gets pushed further along this path of "total war" in the Boer War; with the introduction of concentration camps, etc.

My problems with "decadence theory" are legion. A major one is that the theory is really used as an ideology to "force fit" events into a narrative that reinforces the theory, and consequently prevents nuanced examinations of what and how capital does what it does say....in Greece in the 60s, and 90s; or Jamaica in the 70s; or the US since 2003.

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Jun 2 2015 19:53
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I don't think car manufacturing is a good example of your point here. There is a noticable decrease in the quality of cars from 1980ies onwards, for example, to cars made in the seventies or earlier. The point is that the life-span of cars and white goods or cell phones are getting shorter, which is in my opinion a better indicative of product quality than its various functions.

As for pharmaceuticals, I'd be even more hesitant. The modern medical industry is based on the simple logic of selling more and more drugs, all of which have negative to fatal possible effects to such a degree that people working in pharmaceutical production do not, under any circumstance under any circumstance take them.

Really? Exactly how are you measuring the relative quality of cars? What are the categories?
Fuel efficiency? Life span? If life-span, where's the data? Are you including, lease? rental cars? secondary resale in other markets?

Cellphones? The life of a cellphone is not determined by anything other than the capability of the technology embodied in the cellphone. Does anyone think Blackberry lost its market share because its phones started to fail? Or was it that RIM could not provide capabilities to meet the challenge introduced by the Iphone? Anyone think the Motorola Razr was a better, more robust or less robust than what preceded it or what followed it?

Next, somebody is going to tell us how the quality of DRAM chips and microprocessors has declined since the older models become obsolete more or less in 6 months when it is technological improvement, i.e. improved productivity, that determines the obsolescence. Moore's law anyone?

And pharmaceuticals-- are you serious? Do you have any data that proves that those working in the pharmaceutical industry, in greater frequency than in the general population, avoid medicine that is prescribed for them for conditions for which the medication is generally considered effective?

Do you have any substantive data for these claims? Are you really going to tell me that pharma reps don't take antibiotics for strep throat; don't get flu vaccines; don't treat hepatitis with anti-virals; don't take the few drugs available for treating MS; don't use broncho-dilators for asthma; muscle relaxants for back spasms? OK, tell me; but show me the data.

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Jun 2 2015 20:13
Jamal Rayyan wrote:
The prevalence of various diseases, like autism and type-II diabetes, has increased 5-10x in some cases.

Diagnostics, in the case of autism for sure.

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Jun 2 2015 20:35
Jamal Rayyan wrote:
To build on what Leo mentions in post #16, there is a whole emerging body of evidence that shows when adjusted for the lag of high infant mortality, people living in the 19th century (with many studies focusing on England) were less vitamin-deficient on average (results in healthier babies), less susceptible to heart disease and had a longer lifespan than we do today. The prevalence of various diseases, like autism and type-II diabetes, has increased 5-10x in some cases.

Adjust for the lag of high infant mortality.......priceless. How do you adjust for that?

Yeah, pay no attention at all to life span, infant mortality rate, child mortality rate, deaths in childbirth, none of that stuff. Fucking paradise, the 19th century was. Sure it was. Right, no autism, because as has already been pointed out, nobody knew what that was. And less diabetes, and less Alzheimers too, since most people died by age 50.

Sepsis? Minor irritation. Tuberculosis? How about that one? Open sewage? Good for you. After all what doesn't kill you makes you.....stronger? Or sets you up for the next kill.

And then....well and then we went and fucked everything up by expanding- safe drinking water supplies, sewers, proper sanitation in food preparation.

This is exactly what I mean by decadence theory being used as an ideology.

baboon
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Jun 2 2015 21:15

I agree with the idea of decadence, of the decay of this system. It's not dead, and it's still producing - at greater and greater cost all round. The development of state capitalism over decades, democratic, fascist and stalinist, has been both a strong feature and expression of capitalism's ultimate decline. After its initial and global expansion capitalism has run up against the historical limits of a system that fundamentally relies on exploitation and constant expansion. The book, Capital, shows in no small detail how the capitalist system carries the seeds of its own destruction. The development of state capitalism throughout the globe and in all the major capitals is an attempt by the bourgeoisie to keep a system going that it is more or less in permanent economic crisis. A few years ago, all the major US and British banks were effectively nationalised. The same bourgeoisie's have pumped volumes of money into the financial system which are nothing but massive state subsidies which add to already very dangerous levels of debt. It doesn't matter which country in the world that you are talking about its economic problems are fundamentally the same - there is a global crisis of capitalism.

I'd say that pound for pound - and there are all sorts of factors involved here - that the present economic crisis is more severe than that prior to the 1914 war but that the war itself was a presage of the fundamental fragility of the economic system. After WWI, capitalism tried to go back to laissez-faire but the crisis of the 1920's stopped that resulting in the development of more stronger, centralised states. It has generally worked for capitalism and we can see its effects in the recent banking crisis where the system came very close to melting down. The bourgeoisie can extend credit, print "money", pile up debt and it will not let its system collapse but it can't beat the law of value. It will have to hammer the working class even worse than it has done these last three decades.

Not directly related to this but coming from the same direction, the same source is the development of militarism and imperialism. It's different circumstances today but the expressions of imperialist rivalries and the threat of war are more or less the same as before 1914. The same major powers responsible for the borders of most of the Middle East are the ones today contributing to the instability of the region and beyond. In Ukraine it's the same imperialist powers, with a movement in the rankings only, that confront one another. Tensions in the Pacific between the US and China. If the working class is definitively crushed then this system will go to war on a much larger scale than it is already.

This development of state capitalism is also expressed in the level of repression and the repressive activities of the state. There's no doubt at this development both at the level of the militarisation of the police and the state's spying activities.

Those that support a position on the decadence of capitalism are, some say, "doom-mongers". But the main consequence of an analysis of decadence is that it raises the distinct possibility of a real, international proletarian revolution. To insinuate in any way that capitalism is a system that can go on and on, that it is an eternal system that can forever overcome its fundamental contradictions, is just pie-in-the-sky.

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Jamal
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Jun 2 2015 21:20
S. Artesian wrote:
Adjust for the lag of high infant mortality.......priceless. How do you adjust for that?...most people died by age 50.

No, they didn't. That's what the fuck I'm saying, smart ass. If you lived to be, whatever 10 years old, in 19th century England you lived a longer life compared to the exact same scenario today.

People are dying at 50 at the same rate as they always been and there is evidence to show life expencency could be on a downward trend.

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Jamal
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Jun 2 2015 21:22

http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/news/20101209/us-life-expectancy-down

http://www.salon.com/2013/10/22/life_expectancy_in_america_rivals_third_...