There are a surprising lack of convincing explanations as to why the capitalist class is pushing through the present unprecedented austerity drive - even at the risk of provoking both mass opposition and a double-dip recession. The following excerpts, from Hillel Ticktin's recent articles in Critique, do offer an interesting partial explanation:
It remains very unclear why a section of the ruling class is going for these cuts. It is one thing to reduce government spending and raise taxes during an upturn, as Canada did in the 1990s, and quite another to do so today. The large scale unemployment consequent on such reductions in the public sector is being matched with substantial salary reductions.
Why are the working class not turning against the real cause of their misery — capitalism — as they have done in the past?
[i]This article outlines a series of contemporary elements which are part of modern political consciousness and which prevent a movement to socialism. Despair, cynicism, hedonism and acceptance of the least worst alternative are among the prevailing forms of consciousness.
Paul B.Smith reviews Hillel Ticktin's book: Origins of the Crisis in the USSR: Essays on the Political Economy of a Disintegrating System (from Radical Chains no.4)
Hillel Ticktin was probably the only theorist to predict that the USSR would disintegrate and one of the few who made an attempt to understand its laws by returning to Marx's critique of political economy. For this reason his work has been ignored both by bourgeois sovietology and by the left. Ticktin's work makes it possible to emerge from a theoretical wilderness of competing definitions of the USSR - 'degenerate workers state', 'state capitalist', 'bureaucratic collectivist' …
This is an important book. Written by a Marxist critic of both Western Sovietology and Stalinism, it is a major contribution to the critique of the political economy of the former USSR. As such it offers a refreshing contrast to the sterility of Cold War thought on the Soviet Union, whether bourgeois or socialist.
This article produces a summary of a theory of decline of capitalism.
[i]This article produces a summary of a theory of decline of capitalism. It argues that decline occurs when it becomes increasingly difficult for capitalism to deal with its contradictions and so crises. Its solutions become increasingly counterproductive and transformative of the system itself.
A Marxist analysis of Putin's Russia.
[i]The transition from a Stalinist economy to capitalism has been partial and has effectively failed, therefore, with global historic consequences. The reason lay partly in the hubris of the Western ruling class who subjected the Russian elite to a humiliating regime rather than assisting it, and partly in the nature of the epoch itself. Finance capital was dominant and in its nature predatory.
Hillel Ticktin on a Marxist political economy of the financial crisis of 2008-9 and capitalism's uncertain future.
[i]The article considers whether there are limits to capitalist strategies for survival. It argues that the present downturn represents a crisis in the capitalist system itself, in that the mediating forms by which it could maintain control and grow have reached their limits.
Aufheben critique Hillel Ticktin's analysis of the Soviet Union. Having disposed of the theory of the USSR as a 'degenerated workers' state', Ticktin's theory presents itself as the most persuasive alternative to the understanding of the USSR as capitalist.