ICC position on Decadence and the Bourgeoisie in Developing Nations?

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S. Artesian
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Jun 28 2015 17:09
Jamal Rayyan wrote:
slothjabber has been making some pretty interesting points on the ICC thread. Maybe he could summarize his current postilions here and we could keep the discussion going?

Really? I read that thread, up through post 70, and I have yet to come across a definition of decadence that describes a different mechanism; a different functioning of capitalism; that describes a "decline" or "deterioration"-- which surely must be manifested by decadence-- that manifests itself post-1914 as opposed to pre-1914.

We get this from somebody called Lem arguing for decadence (I think. Not sure, because this guy thinks Marx's work is more a theory of psychology than social critique) because

Quote:
"in other words: the markets are irreversibly flooded and the only way for capital to survive is through nationalist war and stupidity."

We get SJ arguing essentially that because the world market was quantitatively smaller in 1850 then 1950, therefore capitalism must be decadent, when in fact the growth of the world markets to 1950 and beyond mean that development of the markets cannot be regarded as an indicator of decadence, unless of course expansion and decadence are one and the same, but then good-bye to 1850 being a period of capitalist ascendancy.

slothjabber
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Jun 28 2015 22:35

You think the world market had already reached its maximum extent, or was shrinking, in 1850?

The difference between 1850 and 1950 was that in 1850 much of the world was not integrated into the world market, many countries (such as the Russian Empire and China) were still feudal and therefore a vast number of people was not integrated into capitalism. Capitalism was at this point still expanding in extent.

In 1950 the entire planet was dominated by capitalist countries. Yes, I know you don't think that the Soviet Union (nor by extension China, Eastern Europe etc) were capitalist, but some of us do. Capitalism had reached its maximum coverage - the whole globe.

I'm not sure why this is controversial (unless of course it's because you have some theory about the Soviet Bloc not being capitalist, but that just raises even more problems).

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Jun 28 2015 22:45

Going by your logic Slothjabber, the world market has still not reached its maximum extent. Africa is, for all intents and purposes, still not integrated into the world market. I don't think anyone think what you are saying is controversial, just that it doesn't amount as any evidence to "prove" decadence theory.

And if youse want to be so fucking Marxist about it, you should think it contradictions. It is both decadent and ascendant; the question then becomes who experiences it in that way. After all, Marx's central thesis is that the contradictions of capital leads to accumulation of misery and wealth; the way in which the "negatives" and "positives" are distributed according to your relationship to the means of production.

Arguing that capitalism is either decadent or ascendant is just hogwash because it is, at least how I understand why you even bother to theorize it, an attempt to figure out when the conditions are ripe for revolution, thus if the "objective conditions" are clear. And if it's just a theory about capital as such, then, well, it says nothing.

S. Artesian
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Jun 29 2015 00:18

SJ:

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You think the world market had already reached its maximum extent, or was shrinking, in 1850?

No, my point is I don't think the world market reached its maximum extent in 1950, or 1990, or 2010.

Clearly, markets have grown since 1950-- and it isn't about numbers of people, it's about value. The mass of goods and the value of goods has expanded dramatically since 1950, which kind puts the truth to your nonsense theory that the markets were at their fullest extent; or are permanently saturated.

I don't think revolution, the conflict between means and relations of production, hinges on the world markets reaching some sort of "maximum extension."

S. Artesian
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Jun 29 2015 16:47

It just want to know, if capital was ascendant, on the upswing, what now defines the downswing. How does the decline, the decay, the descent of capital manifest itself in contradiction, opposition to the upswing?

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Noa Rodman
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Jun 30 2015 11:45

Kautsky in a 1937 article (on unemployment, hopefully soon to be uploaded on marxists.org) sketches a distinction between two phases of capitalism:

[...]

Occasional crises of overproduction have been known ever since the beginnings of the capitalist system. But as sure as such a crisis occurred, just as surely was it followed by a period of prosperity. They alternated, forming a cycle of about ten years.

Marx observed this phenomenon. But just at the time when he died (about fifty years ago), this ten-year cycle was disappearing, along with the liberal stage of the capitalist economy.

Role of Monopoly

Great capitalist enterprises now began to form trusts and combines in order to obtain exceptional profits through monopolistic restrictions of output and consequent raising of prices. Along with this came the imposition of high protective tariffs, which limited the markets in order that the monopolists might control them. The militarists on their side advocated "autarchy" – the idea that each country should produce every kind of goods it needed, in order that it should not be dependent upon imports in case of war.

Up to that time the world market had been steadily expanding through international division of labor – that is, through the tendency of each country to produce for export such commodities as it could produce most cheaply and to import those which it could not as well produce for itself. Henceforth, under the double pressure of capitalistic monopoly and of militaristic considerations, each country has been striving to produce the same things that all the other produce.

Even before the World War these tendencies had artificially promoted the conditions which make for overproduction crises. The war immensely strengthened these tendencies, and introduced new causes through the general political and economic uncertainties which resulted from it. At times it brought veritable catastrophes, especially through inflation and other forms of devaluation of money, as well as through the emergence of new causes for war. All this led again and again to glutting of the commodity markets.

Recovery Checked

In earlier times such glutting of the market grew out of the economic laws of the capitalist system of production. Now they result from the wilful aggressions of certain powerful capitalist organizations and of governments which they dominate. During the era of liberalism, as has been said, each crisis was followed, within a few years, by a period of prosperity. Now, in this time of capitalistic monopoly and of militaristic influence upon the productive system, crisis threatens to become the permanent condition, interrupted only by occasional short periods of prosperity, so long as these [factors] of capitalism and militarism, founded upon private ownership of the means of production, continue to dominate our economic life.

[...]

It is true that the tendency to increasing unemployment which is inherent to the capitalist system may be retarded by other tendencies. Marx has not overlooked this fact; indeed, he had himself stated it, saying that unemployment need not increase if the market for the products of capitalist industry and the amount of the invested capital increase faster than the displacement of workers by the introduction of labor-saving methods and machines. This was generally true before the war, but since then there has been a thorough-going change. The expansion of the market has been more and more hampered by the growth of monopolistic combinations, the intentional restrictions of output, and the high-tariff policies that have already been mentioned. At the same time the increase of investment in capitalist industry has been held back, partly through the direct destruction of existing capital by war policies, and by devaluation of money, partly by economic and political insecurity which leads to the public and private hoarding of great quantities of money and thus withholds it from productive use.

[...]

S. Artesian
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Jun 30 2015 13:26

The problem is, Noa, Kautsky is looking back at capitalism through the immediate lens of the Great Depression.

The "glutting of the commodity markets" is a chronic element/i] to capitalism, but it is not a [/]permanent condition of capitalism.

Everything that Kautsky describes here is a chronic but not permanent.

So again, what is the determining element of the decline, or decay of capitalism?

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Jun 30 2015 18:47
Kautsky in 1913 wrote:
From 1860 the rise in the production of gold came to a stop, but began again some time after. From 1870 to 1874 we find a marked falling off in gold production, a fall in prices notably followed and, then, with, the stagnation in gold output to the beginning of the nineties a period of lower prices and continued dullness in trade that caused many of us, I admit that I was one, to think that the capitalistic system had already fallen into a condition of chronic overproduction.

But suddenly arose a new development of gold production such as was never seen in the world before. In the year 1886 the first mine in the South African Rand was opened. In 1890 the cyanide process was introduced, in 1891 the gold fields of the Yukon in Alaska were discovered. In proportion as this advance in the production of gold made itself felt, stagnation waned, prices began to rise, and capitalism entered with full force upon a brilliant phase of its development. The mutual connection of these phenomena is obvious to-day.

But he concludes in the work (from 1913) that an increase of gold production cannot be expected to save the day for capitalism any longer.

Kautsky's writing about chronic overproduction is in his commentary on the Erfurt program (1892) (chapter 3 section 9). Where by the way, he further on writes:

Quote:
If indeed the socialist commonwealth were an impossibility, then mankind would be cut off from all further economic development. In that event modern society would decay, as did the Roman empire nearly two thousand years ago, and finally relapse into barbarism.

As things stand today capitalist civilization cannot continue; we must either move forward into socialism or fall back into barbarism.

So Kautsky in 1913 already had once before seen "through the immediate lens of the Great Depression" (that of the 1870-80s), yet now he again believed there was no way out for capitalism. So Kautsky in 1937 is reprising a thought he had defended already before the 1931 depression.

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Jun 30 2015 19:05

Kautsky in 1909 (Road to Power) spoke of a new era, the era of war and revolutions, which the communist international also adopted I think (perhaps one might prefer this phrase to the term decadence):

Kautsky wrote:

It is certain that we are entering upon a period of universal unrest, of shifting of power, and that whatever form this may take, or how long it may continue, a condition of permanent stability will not be reached until the proletariat shall have gained the power to expropriate politically and economically the capitalist class and thereby to inaugurate a new era in the world’s history.

Whether this revolutionary period will continue as long as that of the bourgeoisie, which began in 1789 and lasted until 1871, is, naturally, impossible to foresee. To be sure, all forms of evolution proceed much, more rapidly now than previously, but, on the other hand, the field of battle has grown enormously. When Marx and Engels wrote the “Communist Manifesto” they saw before them only Western Europe as the battle field of the proletarian revolution. Today it has become the whole world. Today the battles in the struggle of the laboring and exploited class for freedom will be fought not alone upon the banks of the Spree and the Seine, but on the Hudson and the Mississippi, on the Neva and the Dardanelles, on the Ganges and the Hoangho.

Equally gigantic with the battle field are the problems that spring from it – the social organization of the world industry.

But the proletariat will arise from this revolutionary era, that may perhaps continue for a generation, wholly different from what it was when it went in.

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jura
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Jun 30 2015 19:39

High hopes – endemic in marxists.

S. Artesian
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Jun 30 2015 20:56

Geez, he says "chronic" in 1913; and in 1937 he says "permanent." I think that's a significant change, as chronic is indeed the prospect, the potential, the eventual necessity of the overproduction of capital.

But your argument is entirely undermined by.....your own argument. So Kautsky thought he saw this "permanent" condition emerging in the 1870s, due to the constraints on gold production, only to be surprised by the vigor of capitalism in finding new technologies to augment the production of gold.

Then he says in 1913, that the production of gold cannot be expected to save capitalism again.

And then in 1937, he says it again-- leaving out the gold part.

Really, with the a forecasting accuracy like that we can only be happy that Karl did not apply his talents to meteorology.

We could argue forever about gold production. Eventually, those who can't come to grips with capital's ability to reproduce itself as a social relation; to alter its relation of the components of accumulated dead value to living labor, by hook, crook, and crematoria, always fall back on the limits of gold production.

Well all I care to say about that is bears a strong resemblance to those predicting the end of capitalism or industrial society or human civilization due to depletion of oil reserves. The Gold Hubbertists need to come to grips with the persistence of accumulation; the continuing cyclical nature of capital within structural declines in rates of profit; the LACK of "permanent" crisis; the absence of permanent overproduction, all which are part and parcel of chronic tendencies to overproduction; chronic tendencies of the rate of profit to decline; chronic manifestations of crisis.

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Khawaga
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Jun 30 2015 21:08

How on earth would an increase in gold production save the day for capitalism? That seems like some seriously fetishistic argumentation.

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Noa Rodman
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Jun 30 2015 22:12

I do think the Luxemburgist argument (stressing demand from unconquered "non-capitalist markets", an argument which I don't support) ultimately goes back to the question of gold, since these non-capitalists have to pay with money for the goods they buy from the capitalist world (otherwise they'd just borrow capitalist credit). And that money is gold. So their demand runs out when their gold has run out (in Luxemburg's argument).

Kautsky's point about gold production is that it affords an explanation for the end of the 1870-80s depression. This is one question (feel free to give alternative answers).

Another question is the importance in general of gold production: a sudden decrease in gold's value has stimulating effect (and I think this was also stressed by Marx and Engels with regard to primitive accumulation, or the 1848 discovery). Quantitative shortage in gold production is not the reason for crisis of capitalism (or for the abandonment of the gold standard, as many claim). Jamal already gave some figures. There is a calculation for 1920-2010 of the ratio of the value of gold stock to world GDP (ff p. 355 in War and Gold) which shows a (more or less) steady 10 %.

S. Artesian
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Jun 30 2015 22:52

Luxemburg's argument, at core, is and argument about the deviation of consumption from production under capitalism. If you don't support that argument why did you bring it forward?

[Disclaimer: what follows is from memory of inquiry into the 1870-1898 period I did years ago. I'd have to go back and check the numbers before I'd stake my like on the interpretation. ]

As for 1870s-1880s-- first that is not a period of depression. Contrary to what economists, political economists, Marxist political economists tell you, it was not a "Long Depression"-- it was a long deflation. There were distinct episodes of downturn, contraction; but by 1893, (the intro into the most severe contraction of the period)-- capital in mass and value was far higher than it was in 1867. Compare that to the Great Depression, were capital actually endures sustained shrinkage.

The "offsetting tendencies" are in the relations of capital itself, in its actions and not in any new sources of gold. What occurs during this period, and particularly towards the end of this period is the ruthless consolidation of capital; its concentration and centralization. The "real domination" of capital advances mightily, with horsepower per worker expanding geometrically and creating, IMO [at least in the US] a point where the extraction of relative surplus value is able to, momentarily, outrun the tendency of the rate of profit to fall.

Guerre de Classe
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Jul 1 2015 19:46

TO #254:

https://libcom.org/library/theories-decadence-decadence-theory/

Quote:
Finally, it’s necessary to emphasize one of the fundamental consequences of the directly and invariably universal character of the capitalist mode of production: the nonexistence, from the global point of view, of the so-called “extra-capitalist markets.” Indeed, as we explained above, the world market is the very presupposition of the world appearance and domination of the capitalist social relation that through its very nature subsumes all the preceding modes of production (and their social relations). Thus, capital itself sets out all its presuppositions, it is itself “self-presupposition” of its world domination; as soon as it appears as a mode production, it sets out throughout the world and as a whole its universal character (and this is its essential “originality”), and therefore the contradiction proletariat vs. bourgeoisie. To a certain extent, we could say that if the so-called “extra-capitalist” markets exist, it’s either in a completely marginal way, as self-subsistence systems, non-productive to such a degree (i.e. non-profitable from the capitalist point of view) that although the capitalist mode of production dominates the whole planet, it leaves them to remain formally because of their lack of interest (e.g. such or such tribe in “Mato Grosso” or in “New-Guinea”...), or these so-called “extra-capitalist” markets are directly dominated and subsumed on account of the very fact that there is exchange (mediatised by money) between them and the capitalist mode of production. And as a result, they disappear as “extra-capitalist markets.” The exchange is obviously running in the world sphere of circulation and is the immediate driving force of the dissolution and integration of all the pre-capitalist modes of production, even if some shapes of these ones keep on existing in a complementary way to the total domination of the capitalist mode of production. To see thus, in the so-called “extra-capitalist” markets, the very driving force of the capitalist development (because these last would be the “only solvable demand” – Rosa Luxemburg’s theory), it’s basically not understanding that the real problem is the production necessarily always more important of surplus-value (and not its realization) and, that thus, the exchange between capitalist production and “extra-capitalist” production is a nonsense because it means directly the existence and the domination of the world market, it means as a very result of this exchange the destruction (the non-existence) of the so-called “extra-capitalist markets” that, in the very theory of Luxemburg, disappear right from the first exchange.

“... general overproduction would take place, not because relatively too little [sic] had been produced of the commodities consumed by the workers or too little [sic] of those consumed by the capitalists, but because too much of both had been produced – not too much for consumption, but too much to retain the correct relation between consumption and realization; too much for realization.”
(Karl Marx: “Grundrisse,” “Notebooks II: The Chapter on Capital – Section Two: The Circulation Process of Capital,” Penguin Edition, 1973)

There are two possibilities: either the so-called “extra-capitalist” markets exist and are the “very hub” of the capitalist development, and this one would have to be in decline (if not definitely “self-crumbled”), not since some little decades, but rather since several centuries, or capitalism isn’t interested at all in the very existence of these so-called “extra-capitalist markets” (and this because the surplus-value is produced not from “the exchange”, but from the difference between necessary labour and surplus-labour within the very capitalist production), or these so-called “extra-capitalist markets” are directly subsumed to capitalism as complementary shapes and are therefore not “extra-capitalists” at all, but rather directly integrated and dominated by the world market, by the capitalist mode of production. The basis for the question of the so-called “extra-capitalist markets” is to be found once again in the non-worldwide and progressive conception of the capitalist mode of production, in the unilateral conception of capital from the point of view of its positive pole (concentration, industrialization, factories, wealth, progress, etc.; it’s the apologetic conception of capital by itself), and not from the point of view of its global existence, positive pole and its negative one as well (desertification, pauperization, famines, destructive wars, shantytowns, etc.), the whole on the move. The essence of all the decadentist theories, whatever their different ideological justifications, means therefore the negation of the world and universal substance of capitalism, the incomprehension of the domination of the value, that is to say of abstract labour; in this sense, they are therefore bourgeois conceptions.

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Jul 3 2015 09:26

Permit me to doubt that chronic overproduction has to be based on Luxemburg's theory (for example Kautsky himself criticised Parvus for "underconsumption", though Luxemburg can not precisely be accused of this). The view of chronic overproduction was shared by Engels (btw also Liebknecht):

Quote:
This is now already the eighth year of the pressure of overproduction upon the markets and instead of getting better it is always getting worse. There is no longer any doubt that the situation has essentially changed from what it was formerly; since England has got important rivals on the world market the period of crises, in the sense known hitherto, is closed. If the crises change from acute into chronic ones but at the same time lose nothing in intensity, what will be the end? A period of prosperity, even if a short one, must after all return sometime, when the accumulation of commodities has been exhausted; but how all this will occur I am eager to see. But two things are certain: we have entered upon a period incomparably more dangerous to the existence of the old society than the period of ten-yearly crises; and secondly, when prosperity returns, England will be much less affected by it than formerly, when she alone skimmed the cream off the world market.

https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1886/letters/86_01_20.htm

Quote:
But it strikes me that the present chronic depression, which seems endless so far, will tell its tale in America as well as in England. America will smash up England’s industrial monopoly — whatever there is left of it — but America cannot herself succeed to that monopoly. And unless one country has the monopoly of the markets of the world, at least in the decisive branches of trade, the conditions — relatively favorable — which existed here in England from 1848 to 1870 cannot anywhere be reproduced, and even in America the condition of the working class must gradually sink lower and lower. For if there are three countries (say England, America and Germany) competing on comparatively equal terms for the possession of the Weltmarkt, there is no chance but chronic overproduction, one of the three being capable of supplying the whole quantity required.

https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1886/letters/86_02_03.htm

S. Artesian
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Jul 3 2015 12:57

Once again we're dealing with the period known as the long deflation, and indeed, I agree that that period experienced repeated, successive bouts of overproduction.

As a matter of fact, I brought up "chronic" in opposition to "permanent"-- identifying the former as inherent in capitalism; and the latter as being a "category" proposed by the advocates of decadence theory.

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Noa Rodman
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Jul 3 2015 19:31

This article deals with overproduction:

https://libcom.org/library/towards-theory-development-world-market-world...

It doesn't argue for decadence, but does go into the distinction between the early expansion of European capitalism and the later (present) one, designated as "catastrophic". I just post a small fragment:

Quote:

All these factors determine the general character of the catastrophe, accompanying the expanding capitalist market, but cannot, of course, either suspend this extension, or prevent the development of capitalist relations and capitalist production wherever these relations take root. Proof is the development of Japan, China, India, etc. in our epoch. If the listed by us condition opposes this process, then it is nevertheless a strongly active means, of promoting it, and among them the most important is the export of capital, about which, however, discussion will be elsewhere.

From our analysis it is clear that the market of sales of capitalist produced goods, spreading more and more broadwise, in new territories, necessarily must make the market smaller and smaller, decrease in its relative capacity. This is a very important factor, which, I think, was insufficiently emphasized so far in the literature, and the underestimation of which entails substantial gaps in the analysis of the causes of imperialism, etc. Very often, for example, one refers to the grandiosity of the spaces and the number of people, which provide, supposedly, unlimited scope for further expansion of capitalism on a broader base. Such indications are most often made by bourgeois apologists and their helpers from the camp of the Second International. Indeed: India, China accommodate nearly half the world's population, a population barely affected by capitalist economy. What need is there to worry about markets, etc.

S. Artesian
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Jul 3 2015 22:01

So what? What does that have to do with capital's decadence; its decline, its deterioration, which is what decadence means.

Decadent-ists argue: Capitalism has penetrated everywhere; there are no "extra-capitalist" people or markets. Extra-capitalist markets and people are essential to capitalist expansion.

History says something different. History says "extra-capitalist" markets cease to be extra-capitalist once capitalist industrial products, commodities, enter. History says, the lack of "new" markets is not a function of territory or people, but of expanding the social relations of capital to accumulate value.

Catastrophic? For whom? When? Permanently or cyclically/chronically?

slothjabber
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Jul 4 2015 11:07

I consider myself a 'decadentist' and I don't argue that there are no 'extra-capitalist' markets or people.

So are you wrong about what decadentists argue, or am I wrong to consider myself a decadentist?

S. Artesian
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Jul 4 2015 13:33

SJ:

Quote:
The difference between 1850 and 1950 was that in 1850 much of the world was not integrated into the world market, many countries (such as the Russian Empire and China) were still feudal and therefore a vast number of people was not integrated into capitalism. Capitalism was at this point still expanding in extent.

In 1950 the entire planet was dominated by capitalist countries. Yes, I know you don't think that the Soviet Union (nor by extension China, Eastern Europe etc) were capitalist, but some of us do. Capitalism had reached its maximum coverage - the whole globe.

MH:

Quote:
The main point about markets and decadence is that by 1914 extra-capitalist markets had become too restricted for capitalism’s needs for further progressive expansion, ie. for the unfettered development of the productive forces;

SJ:

Quote:
You asked for some markers that could be used to falsify decadence. So I gave some. If there are some successful feudal states out there, or successful states where the state itself is only a tiny player in the national economy, then decadence as I understand it would be falsified. The inability of the capitalist economy to expand beyond the bounds of Earth is a given (at the moment) - I don't expect you to magic a new undiscovered continent out of somewhere; therefore teritorial or even economic expansion can now only come at the expense of other powers (economically through competition, or militarily through conquest and ruination). That's not a consequence of decadence, so decadence doesn't explain it - it explains decadence. The existence of a post-industrial society I'd see as being a consequence of decadence, yes, but I wouldn't regard it as 'proof'.

So to re-arrange those four, capitalism revolutionised societies wherever it came across societies it could exploit (meaning that it destroyed the feudal and other highly organised societies it came across), until it ran of easy markets and sources of wealth to tap; because of capitalism's increasing inability to become more 'expansive', it became more 'intensive', leading to the commodification of areas of life not 'capitalised', and also increasingly the state and the economy became intertwined; this also caused more vast and more intense wars, and the progressive ruination of the industries of some capitalist areas (eg the UK) through intense competition.

Should I continue? I think I will. Just remembered this from SJ:

Quote:
China was being carved up between the capitalist powers in the 1880s. That's what the Opium Wars were about. The fact that it tried to adopt autarky between 1949 and 1972 is not then a refutation of the idea that further capitalist expansion moves at the end of the 19th century from incresing in extent (finding new markets) to increasing in intensity (exploiting more deeply the markets/resources already controlled), nor the idea that finding 'new' markets really means re-dividing the imperialist cake.

There were two "Opium Wars"-- the first one beginning around 1839 and lasting about 7 years; the second one around 1856 and lasting to 1860. The first was initiated by Britain; the second was a joint effort by the British and the French. "Carving up" is hardly a proper characterization as capitalism itself could barely penetrate the agricultural relations that engaged, and constrained, the overwhelming majority of the people and production. Concessions were obtained; the draining of existing wealth was imposed through trade (that's what capitalism does), but what was fashioned were small enclaves of capitalism primarily in the coast cities and trading centers, with almost no impact on the rural producers.

Bad history makes for bad theory, although in this case we have the reverse-- ideology rendering history, which is always bad.

SJ:

Quote:
So, for example, if the capitalist economy is decedent because it cannot find and develop new markets without taking those (potential) markets out of the control of another territory, or if decadence is signalled by the massive involvement of the state in the economy, or if it's the notion that feudalism has been defeated, then presumably, there would have to be some new markets discovered that weren't part of someone else's trading bloc, or there needs to be am economy that's expandding where the state is a tiny player, or there needs to be some feudalism around somewhere that capitalism's busy revolutionising.

You make the call........

slothjabber
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Jul 4 2015 16:12

Both MH and I are saying that extra-capitalist markets and production are very limited, not non-existant.

Something can be insufficient to allow 'healthy' development without being altogether absent. If you don't feed a child enough, they won't necessarily die, but they won't thrive either.

Of course, 'healthy' in this context means healthy for capitalism. But when things are 'healthy for capitalism' is precisely the period when the bourgeoisie and the proletariat have some of the same goals - getting rid of feudalism for example - and as a result alliances between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie are in some cases justified, or even possible; also when capitalism is 'healthy' it has the capacity to grant meaningful reforms to the working class.

Good call on the Opium Wars. I meant the Boxer Rebellion.

From the wiki on 'New Imperialism', section on China (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Imperialism#China):

Towards the end of the 19th century, China appeared on the way to territorial dismemberment and economic vassalage, the fate of India's rulers that had played out much earlier. Several provisions of these treaties caused long-standing bitterness and humiliation among the Chinese: extraterritoriality (meaning that in a dispute with a Chinese person, a Westerner had the right to be tried in a court under the laws of his own country), customs regulation, and the right to station foreign warships in Chinese waters.

The rise of Japan as an imperial power after the Meiji Restoration led to further subjugation of China. In a dispute over China's longstanding claim of rule in Korea, war broke out between China and Japan, resulting in another humiliating defeat for the Chinese. By the Treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895, China was forced to recognise effective Japanese rule over Korea, and the island of Taiwan was ceded to Japan.

In 1897, taking advantage of the murder of two missionaries, Germany demanded and was given a set of exclusive mining and railroad rights around Jiaozhou Bay in Shandong province. In 1898, Russia obtained access to Dairen and Port Arthur and the right to build a railroad across Manchuria, thereby achieving complete domination over a large portion of northeast China. The United Kingdom, France, and Japan also received a number of concessions later that year.

At this time, much of China was divided up into "spheres of influence": Germany dominated the Shandong peninsula and the Huang He (Hwang-Ho) valley; Russia dominated the Liaodong Peninsula and Manchuria; the United Kingdom dominated Weihaiwei and the Yangtze Valley; France dominated the Guangzhou Bay and several other southern provinces neighboring its colony in Vietnam.

China continued to be divided up into these spheres until the United States, which had no sphere of influence, grew alarmed at the possibility of its businessmen being excluded from Chinese markets. In 1899, Secretary of State John Hay asked the major powers to agree to a policy of equal trading privileges. In 1900, several powers agreed to the U.S.-backed scheme, giving rise to the "Open Door" policy, denoting freedom of commercial access and non-annexation of Chinese territory. In any event, it was in the European powers' interest to have a weak but independent Chinese government. The privileges of the Europeans in China were guaranteed in the form of treaties with the Qing government. In the event that the Qing government collapsed, each power risked losing the privileges that it had negotiated.

The erosion of Chinese sovereignty contributed to a spectacular anti-foreign outbreak in June 1900, when the "Boxers" (properly the society of the "righteous and harmonious fists") attacked foreign legations in Beijing. This Boxer Rebellion provoked a rare display of unity among the colonial powers, who formed the Eight-Nation Alliance. Troops landed at Tianjin and marched on the capital, which they took on 14 August; the foreign soldiers then looted and occupied Beijing for several months. German forces were particularly severe in exacting revenge for the killing of their ambassador, while Russia tightened its hold on Manchuria in the northeast until its crushing defeat by Japan in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905.

S. Artesian
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Jul 4 2015 16:38

OK point taken. You don't argue that there are NO extra-capitalist markets or people; just that they are no longer capable of supporting, or facilitating capitalist expansion. So what I said earlier "Extra-capitalist markets and people are essential to capitalist expansion" still holds for one of the basic tenets of "decadence theory."

I believe that to be a fundamentally mistaken application of Marx's analysis of capital accumulation; in that "extra-capitalist" becomes essential, a determinant, for expanded accumulation; without that input or function or condition of extra-capitalist markets, then capitalism decays, declines.

a) that was never Marx's argument re his critique of capital (which I do not bring up to say the decadence theory is wrong. Rather, despite all the quotes re "means vs. relations of production" you are not presenting Marx's analysis of that conflict as it is expressed and manifested in capitalism.

b) the theory re "extra capitalist markets" determining the ascent or descent of capital just doesn't hold up to concrete historical examination.

In addition what you provide in your description of China only confirms the enclave nature, the "trading post" nature of capitalist penetration. Agricultural relations in this overwhelmingly agricultural country were basically not transformed by capitalism.

This:

Quote:
because of capitalism's increasing inability to become more 'expansive', it became more 'intensive', leading to the commodification of areas of life not 'capitalised', and also increasingly the state and the economy became intertwined;

is another area of disagreement, in that you counterpose "intensive" to "expansive" when in reality the two go hand in hand-- the transition to the "real domination of capital," the ascendancy of relative surplus value is coincident with the expansiveness of capital in general, and increased investment in previously "less developed" areas.

That, the ascendancy of relative surplus value is what the ascent of capitalism amounts to. If capitalism decomposed to a condition where absolute surplus value somehow supplanted relative surplus value, you might have an argument for decadence, but I haven't found any reversion to absolute surplus value that occurs absent or apart from continuous expulsion of living labor from the production process.

kingzog
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Jul 4 2015 18:43

Jamal, did you know that the average British person is 11cm taller today than in 1870? Why do you think that is? I can tell you that it wasn't some freak mutant gene or rapid evolutionary process. Its everything to do with better nutrition, less childhood disease, sanitation, etc. It's actually the same regarding the onset of puberty. In the 19th century it wasn't uncommon, among common people, for puberty to hit as late as 16 in girls! Archaeologists routinley note the poor bone and tooth structure on people as late as the late 19th century.

Things like diabetes and heart disease also lacked in diagnosis back then as well. Even fewer people had access to competent health care back then than today I believe.

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Alf
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Jul 5 2015 14:08

The debate about whether it makes sense to talk about ascendant and decadent periods of capitalism can’t be restricted to a discussion about whether Rosa Luxemburg’s specific contribution to the theory of capitalist crisis is right or wrong. There have been plenty of others in the marxist tradition who considered capitalism to have entered its epoch of decline while rejecting her ‘economics’. As I have tried to show, Marx elaborated the basics of the conception before Rosa was born; it was taken up by Engels and by the left in the Second International; the idea that capitalism had entered its epoch of “wars and revolutions”, of “inner disintegration”, was incorporated into the platform of the Communist International in 1919 even though those who adhered to Luxemburg’s analysis of the accumulation problem were very much in the minority; there were significant elements of the communist left, such as Paul Mattick, who also held to the idea of capitalism being in decline while rejecting Luxemburg’s theories. The same goes for the Left Opposition around Trotsky when it was still a proletarian current. There are left communist groups today, such as the Internationalist Communist Tendency, who also adhere to ‘decadence theory’ while rejecting Luxemburg’s approach.

This is why I keep coming back to the question of one’s underlying approach to history, to the discussion about whether the notion of ascent and decline of modes of production, understood not in a simple biological sense but through the analysis of evolving social relations, is central to the marxist theory of historical development, and whether capitalism can be analysed in the same way.

To illustrate this, I want to go back to an earlier post by Artesian which for me once again demonstrates the unavoidability of going back to origins of the theory if we are to move forward.

“Here's the thing: if we're going to use "stages" of history, ascent and descent, to categorize modes of production-- that as the feudal relations in Western Europe decay, other relations fill the gap, other classes, or sectors of emerging classes, aggrandize power; another mode of production emerges in the daily activity of those laboring-- like for example the "putting out" mode that emerges in England.
Do we see anything like that going on in capitalism in its dotage? A new mode of production developing interstitially within the cracks and crevasses on this supposedly crumbling body
?”
(Post 116)

But it is precisely the contention of Marx's Preface to the Critique of Political Economy that capitalism is the last class society:

“The bourgeois mode of production is the last antagonistic form of the social process of production – antagonistic not in the sense of individual antagonism but of an antagonism that emanates from the individuals' social conditions of existence – but the productive forces developing within bourgeois society create also the material conditions for a solution of this antagonism. The prehistory of human society accordingly closes with this social formation”.

This is not an argument for the inevitability of communism. Unlike previous revolutionary classes, who could build up their own mode of production in the cracks and crevices of the preceding formation, the working class has no economy of its own, and can only rely on its consciousness and its organisation to overthrow capital and introduce communism. There is nothing inevitable about this because this last revolutionary class is subject to the huge ideological, moral and material weight of thousands of years of class society and there is no guarantee whatever that its struggle against exploitation will generate a level of consciousness and organisation sufficient to carry out this gigantic task.

But recognising that capitalism’s decay cannot give rise to a new form of class exploitation does lend force to the argument that if the proletariat fails to overthrow it, we will see the “mutual ruin of the contending classes” – a possibility glimpsed in capitalism’s increasing tendency towards self-destruction. A concrete example would be the current situation in Syria and other areas of the Middle East and Africa. In a situation where the proletariat has not been in a position to impose its perspective in the face of a growing social misery, we are seeing a real plunge into barbarism, into multi-polar imperialist conflicts that can offer nothing but mass murder, pogroms, and the destruction of culture. This is a glimpse of what capitalism has in store for humanity if the working class, on a global scale, is unable to destroy this system.

S. Artesian
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Jul 5 2015 14:44

So Alf, what distinguishes the decay, the decline, the deterioration of capital from its ascent? Capitalism after all is a material system that manifests certain cyclical, chronic, and structural movements over time.

So what is it, other than Marx saying that all modes of production are historical; have historical determinants; and are transformed, replace, overthrown whatever because of those determinants?

Why is capital decadent in 1923 but not 1903.

How can decadence, 30 years ago, mean "no new" centers of capitalist production are possible, but today that's "obviously wrong." The structure of capitalism is the structure of capitalism. So did it change in the intervening 30 years?

I do not regard a exposition of Marx's "philosophy" of history as being evidence, proof, or argument for the current condition of capital. Marx's critique of capital is not derived from a philosophy of history. He makes that point painfully clear to the most casual observer in his critique of Hegel's philosophy of right.

You are, really, substituting ideology for material critique.

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Noa Rodman
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Jul 6 2015 20:46

Global Capitalism in Crisis: Karl Marx and the Decay of the Profit System (2010)
by Murray E. G. Smith
some reviews and a reply:
https://globaldiscourse.wordpress.com/contents/global-capitalism-in-cris...

Lurch
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Jul 7 2015 16:40

S Artesian wrote: “Why is capital decadent in 1923 but not 1903”.

Four separate but interlinked phenomena witnessed between 1903 and 1923 illustrate and define a process and passage of capitalism from its ascendant to decadent phase:

PROLETARIAN CLASS STRUGGLE

The appearance in 1904 (Italy) but above all in Russia, I905, of widespread workers councils and the development of the mass strike show a change in the form of the proletarian struggle which corresponds to an evolution of the content and conditions of capitalism itself. The proletariat created these new methods of struggle at this moment in history as a material necessity to combat
- an increasingly unified bourgeoisie and its state apparatus;
- the tendency for trade unions and mass workers’ parties to become incorporated by and integrated into these states (a process which culminates in the ‘betrayals’ of 1914)
- to unify the political and economic aspects of the proletariat’s struggle, to combine the defensive and offensive aspects of its fight, and to control its own destiny, to prepare not further reforms but an attempt to overthrow capitalism itself (a process which culminates in the revolutionary wave 1917-1927)

WAR

There was no precedent for The First World War which erupted in 1914. Repetition, familiarity, has blunted the meaning and reality of the very title. Say each word slowly and surpass the commonplace: it was -

The First World War.

Discard all dissembling about previous massacres, genocides: in its extent and breadth, in its toll on civilian, as well as military personnel; in its destruction of the productive apparatus, above all of the flower of the proletariat; there’s nothing to compare to the scale of it: 20 million dead: a further 20 million weakened humans perishing of starvation and disease, in the ruins it created... It took a hundred years of war in the Middle Ages to rack up a death toll of 3.5 million – capital killed around 40 million or so in the space of six or seven years... In its wake: a global economic depression and a second, even more destructive global conflict.

This global war of 14-18 was analysed by revolutionaries at the time as a turning point (see Alf, above): it was, for them – as for us today – a resounding proof that imperialism – economic war by military means – had reached the point where it served less and less to develop capitalism (thereby laying the potential for socialism).

On the contrary, the First World War (followed by, err, The Second World War) opened up the perspective of increasingly bloody clashes between existing capitalist powers for a re-division of existing spoils. So it has come to pass: the wars in Korea, Vietnam, the ex-Yugoslavia, in Ukraine, in Iraq, twice; Iraq-Iran; between Arab and Israeli; Afghanistan, twice; India v Pakistan; China v Vietnam; Rwanda; Congo; Yemen and many, many more, testify not only to the fact that the world isn’t getting more peaceful but, on the contrary, that these conflicts serve absolutely no progressive function and are increasingly irrational, even from the standpoint of global capital. That’s another discussion.

Violence may be the ‘midwife of history’ but The First World War marked the birth of capitalist barbarism. Technical advances continue to be forged; ‘life goes on’, it’s true. But ‘for how long and at what price?’ is the question. Capitalism is no longer forging humanity’s future, it’s increasingly undermining it.

STATE CAPITALISM

A response, at one level, of each nation state, to heightened economic and military competition and, at another level, to the constitution as a ‘class for itself’, on a global scale ,of capitalism’s gravedigger, the proletariat. The strengthening of the state is another ‘signifier’, observed in different modes of production, of the decay of given human social relations. Capital, evidently, shares the same general phenomena as previous class societies in conflict and dissolution but also has specificities all of its own. It would take a book, or at least a pamphlet. I recommend The Decadence of Capitalism’ by the ICC.

Some posters don’t ‘get’ the issue of state capitalism: crudely put, the transformation from Laissez-faire capital to centrally directed damage limitation internally and outwardly-directed imperialist aggression. MH and Slothjabber have already addressed aspects of this and it’s a big and serious discussion which should continue.But for the purposes of this post, dealing with 1903-1923, it’s necessary to note:

a) That the build-up to imperialist war in 1914 necessitated a growing domination of the state over social and economic life in the different national capitals at the time, particularly Britain and France, Germany, etc

b) That despite attempts to relax this state of affairs, to go ‘back to the old ways’, the period of 1923 onward has witnessed nothing but the brutal march of state capitalism, whether under its Democratic, Stalinist or Fascist guise. All the right-wing guff about ‘pushing back the state’, about ‘privatisations’ and ‘free markets’ can’t disguise the facts that it’s the state which makes and enacts these decisions, and these decisions are made in the interests of the state.

c) To take Britain as an example in the middle of the period under discussion, 1903 to 1923, we can see the state gong from a hands-off attitude to directing which factories make what commodities; imposing enlistment and conscription for war; ordering a cessation of strikes, and even the raising of wages; ordering landlords to reduce the rent proletarians have to pay; lowering the price of beer.... etc, etc, in short, the state directing the productive and social life of the nation towards one end: war.

That’s the essence of state capitalism. In China. In America. Everywhere, to a greater or lesser degree. For the past 100 years.

Some posters insist that the ‘strong state’ has always been present at the birth of capitalism, that there’s no evolution, no meaningful history here.

But there's a continuity between one exploiting state and another: it was, as Marx points out, precisely the centralisation of the Feudal state under Henry VIII in England – his need to break from Rome - that led to Feudal centralisation, the creation of a national navy (which led to the creation of a national treasury/bank to obtain funds) – which gave rise to a ‘free market’ capitalist economy, and the entrepreneurship of individuals and companies (Hudson Bay; East India Company – ‘Clive of India’) and the eventual abandonment of mercantile capitalism for “free trade”.

It’s that eventual tendency towards the ‘negation’ of “free trade”, the attempted (because it can never succeed) re-assertion of the state over ‘private’ capital that marks the onset of decadence. We see its origins, most clearly, precisely between 1903 and 1923.

REVOLUTION!

1917: Russia. 1918, Germany. A wave which extends in time and geography. With various degrees of conviction and success. A proletarian attempt to assert a dynamic against and beyond capitalist relations. I’ll say nothing further. It’s something unprecedented, unique in its depth and scope.

All this occurred between 1903 and 1923.

Separately these phenomena are of immense significance.

Taken as a totality, considered not as random, unconnected events but as aspects of the same social reality, they mark a qualitative and quantitative change in the evolution of capitalist relations and the proletarian perspective arising as a result. They are elements towards an analysis of the decadence of capitalism.

S Atesian wrote: “I do not regard a exposition of Marx's "philosophy" of history as being evidence, proof, or argument for the current condition of capital. Marx's critique of capital is not derived from a philosophy of history.”

Two of Marx’s closest comrades disagree. Of course, the object is not just to analyse and understand, but to change. But in order to do this, you have to understand and analyse:

“Of the materialistic conception of history, which, although not ‘discovered’ by Marx as Engels expresses it, yet has been for the first time clearly defined and applied with methodical consciousness by him, Engels writes:

“The first of the important discoveries with which the name of Marx is associated in the history of science is his conception of the world’s history.... History for the first time was placed on its real foundation; the obvious fact, hitherto totally neglected, that first of all men must eat, drink, have shelter and clothing, and therefore must work, before they can struggle for supremacy and devote themselves to politics, religion, philosophy, etc – this obvious fact at last found historical recognition.

Thus writes Engels in his biographical sketch of Marx from which I have repeatedly quoted” (Wilhelm Liebknecht 1896, Karl Marx, Biographical memoirs)

S. Artesian
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Jul 7 2015 17:12

1. OK, so decadence doesn't mean an actual decline in capitalism's ability to augment, and aggrandize, the productivity of labor; develop the forces of production, accumulate the means of production as value. Good. Except-- that decline, deterioration is what decadence means. Literally. Pick a better word.

2. Everything you describe, even revolution, is the result of capital's continued accumulation, and the conflict at the hear to accumulation between the value process and the labor process. And everything you describe has its "offsetting tendency"-- revolution-defeat of revolution; "state" capitalism--continued dominance of market relations, of value as private property. Everything you refer to can also be identified as the result of continued and the continuous development of capital.

3. Laissez-faire was an ideological justification, not a mode of operation. At no point in capital's development is the state a "non-participant."

4.

Quote:
To take Britain as an example in the middle of the period under discussion, 1903 to 1923, we can see the state gong from a hands-off attitude to directing which factories make what commodities; imposing enlistment and conscription for war; ordering a cessation of strikes, and even the raising of wages; ordering landlords to reduce the rent proletarians have to pay; lowering the price of beer.... etc, etc, in short, the state directing the productive and social life of the nation towards one end: war. That’s the essence of state capitalism. In China. In America. Everywhere, to a greater or lesser degree. For the past 100 years.

Except that is not a permanent condition of capital. Railroads were nationalized in the US for a brief period. They are not now nationalized. National governments ordered the ends of strikes well before 1914. "Feed them a lead diet," said Tom Scott of the Pennsylvania RR when Hayes moved the troops in to break the railroad strikes in 1877.

Ordering landlords to reduce rents? So does that mean the "great reversal," the exempting apartments in NYC, say, from rent control and rent stabilization is an index of capitalist revival?

Seriously, WTF is it that's decadent? Decadent means decline, deterioration from a peak. Tell me what the "peak" was, how it is measured, why the period post-peak has been a decline in those fundamental patterns of accumulation.... and I might think that you're using the term "decadence" for some other reason than its moral connotations. Tell me how capitalism is no longer able to reproduce itself, to exist as value expanding value, as it once was.

As for Engels-- what you quote does not support what you want it to support. Look what he says: humans have to reproduce themselves materially before they even consider philosophy. The philosophy of history as some guiding force is rejected right off the bat by analysis and critique of the social relations of production. Your argument is that decadence is a necessary condition of history. That is not Marx's material critique of the social relations of production that determine the internal, inherent, antagonisms of capital.

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Red Marriott
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Jul 7 2015 21:25
Lurch wrote:
The First World War.
Discard all dissembling about previous massacres, genocides: in its extent and breadth, in its toll on civilian, as well as military personnel; in its destruction of the productive apparatus, above all of the flower of the proletariat; there’s nothing to compare to the scale of it: 20 million dead: a further 20 million weakened humans perishing of starvation and disease, in the ruins it created... It took a hundred years of war in the Middle Ages to rack up a death toll of 3.5 million – capital killed around 40 million or so in the space of six or seven years...

“Nothing to compare to the scale of it”? The Taiping rebellion killed perhaps twice as many as WWI in the fourteen “pre-decadent” years from 1851-64.

Quote:
10 big myths about World War One debunked
1. It was the bloodiest war in history to that point
Fifty years before WW1 broke out, southern China was torn apart by an even bloodier conflict. Conservative estimates of the dead in the 14-year Taiping rebellion start at between 20 million and 30 million. Around 17 million soldiers and civilians were killed during WW1.
Although more Britons died in WW1 than any other conflict, the bloodiest war in our history relative to population size is the Civil War, which raged in the mid-17th Century. A far higher proportion of the population of the British Isles were killed than the less than 2% who died in WW1. By contrast, around 4% of the population of England and Wales, and considerably more than that in Scotland and Ireland, are thought to have been killed in the Civil War.
2. Most soldiers died
In the UK around six million men were mobilised, and of those just over 700,000 were killed. That's around 11.5%.
In fact, as a British soldier you were more likely to die during the Crimean War (1853-56) than in WW1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-25776836

There’s no consistent historical pattern shown to justify numbers of deaths in WWI as evidence of decadence, that is simply a moral condemnation masquerading as theory. Yes, technology increases killing capacity, as I said earlier;

Quote:
in what is claimed as the “ascendant, progressive” era many millions died in the slave trade, millions also died as a result of being kicked off the land and into diseased slums and hellish factories. That capitalism has since developed greater technological skill in both military slaughter and medical resources, social hygiene, diet etc to increase life expectancy is unsurprising. But your beloved “ascendant, progressive” era was still pretty good, even with its more primitive warfare, in killing off people; see estimates here where there are dozens of 18th & 19th C wars, genocides, famines etc listed showing 100s of millions of deaths – including 20 million in the Taipang Rebellion and 27 million in the Colonial El Nino Famines. http://necrometrics.com/wars19c.htm
http://necrometrics.com/wars18c.htm You’ll surely not resort to the crude empiricism we were warned about earlier and claim that the quantative increase in destructive military capacity, ie higher numbers for the 20th C, is proof enough of a qualitative change to decadence? All you are really saying is that there are unsurprising variations and continuous development in capital’s military needs and capacities – but I don’t see that as proof of decadence. That capital has developed in tandem both military and medical advances (as well as washing machines) suggests, not decadence, but that periodic war crises and rising living standards have (even before 1914 or whenever) been integral and related components of capitalist development – and have both been delivered at an accelerating pace in the supposedly decadent era. All part of capital’s cruel dialectic, eg; http://www.researchtrends.com/issue-34-september-2013/military-medicine-...

So the killing capacity of earlier “pre-decadent” era societies is pretty competitive and in fact in some ways more ‘impressive’ considering their more primitive means - see the table here; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_and_anthropogenic_disasters_b... That table suggests perhaps a more consistent pattern of mass slaughter in China for 100s of years before 1914. That’s if one wants to play a crudely empirical numbers game.

Quote:
ordering landlords to reduce the rent proletarians have to pay;

This occurred in UK law in 1915 - but was a reluctant state response to class struggle https://libcom.org/history/1915-the-glasgow-rent-strike - not a determined or wilful extension of state control as implied by those who appear to continue to cite decadence as a determinant over class struggle. It was in response to the strikes by housewives & Glasgow munitions workers against profiteering landlords. But the govt also imposed a 3 yr rent freeze in 1972, also related to pressures of class struggles of the time; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_rent_control_in_England_and_Wal...
Since the 1980s rent and other housing controls have been massively relaxed and withdrawn (as anyone who's been awake in the UK or most other places should know) - so that history doesn't fit a neat correspondence with decadence at all.

Quote:
The appearance in 1904 (Italy) but above all in Russia, I905, of widespread workers councils and the development of the mass strike show a change in the form of the proletarian struggle

As did the Paris Commune form just as much in “pre-decadent” 1871 – as noted by Marx, Bakunin etc.

Quote:
which corresponds to an evolution of the content and conditions of capitalism itself. The proletariat created these new methods of struggle at this moment in history as a material necessity to combat
- an increasingly unified bourgeoisie and its state apparatus;
- the tendency for trade unions and mass workers’ parties to become incorporated by and integrated into these states (a process which culminates in the ‘betrayals’ of 1914)

Many anti-social democrat radicals had for decades already known that the parties & unions were increasingly integrated into their national capitals and so their pro-war stance in 1914 could only really be called a “betrayal” by the naive. See, eg; https://libcom.org/library/a-critique-of-the-german-social-democratic-pr...

Quote:
- to unify the political and economic aspects of the proletariat’s struggle, to combine the defensive and offensive aspects of its fight, and to control its own destiny, to prepare not further reforms but an attempt to overthrow capitalism itself (a process which culminates in the revolutionary wave 1917-1927)

Did "the proletariat" really have a clear conscious intention to achieve that “control” and “unification”? It allowed the German councils to quickly become dominated by the SDP (and the Bolsheviks to quickly monopolise the soviets & state). So many would see the above interpretation as, again, an attempt to make history retro-fit the preconceived needs of decadence theory. If one looks more deeply at the history one sees an over-simplification of events and cherry picking of ‘facts’ to be made to look like confirmation of decadence. Maybe that’s a decadence of theory.