The political and social function of the
different interpretations of the crises

The defence of the Marxist theory of the crisis is not only a duty of scientific honesty, of the capacity to understand, explain and anticipate the course of the world economy, it also has a precise function in the ideological fight which is right now developing within public opinion. The same as in the past, along the history of capitalism, every time that, as nowadays, things that shake society take place amid general perplexity, first of all by those who rule the world. Even more, it has a precise role in the differentiations within the international labour movement ,between those who, in the most diverse ways and with the most contradictories excuses, accept the crisis as something inevitable and are pleased putting forward recipes to administer this crisis with gradual quantities of austerity, and those who want to organize, expand and generalize the rejection to any policy of austerity. The militant and active resistance against the offensive of Capital, the fight against unemployment, for the immediate introduction of the 35 hour week without salary reduction, the struggle for a general anti-capitalist alternative against the austerity policies.

In the end, this is the opposition between the supporters of class collaboration and all who irreducibly defend the class independence of the working class, for which Marx fought all his life, from 1850. We cannot make an exhaustive list of all the alternative "explanations" of the crisis to the Marxist one and we will confine ourselves to mention the following ideological schemes:

. The crisis would be the inevitable result of the excessive increase of the direct and indirect salaries during the preceding boom phase.

- There is a right wing version of this “explanation” (the neoclassical, monetarist explanation): "the workers, because of the high salaries, place themselves outside of the working market".

- There is also a “left wing” version of this explanation: The theory of “profit crushing”, that going back form Marx to the classical economist David Ricardo, reduces the fall in the profit rate to the fall in the surplus-value rate, that is to say, they explain the crisis by the rise in the salaries.

.The crisis would be the unavoidable result of inflation, increased considerably by the rise in oil prices in 1973 and 1975.

.The crisis would be the result of a conspiracy by the "multinationals", or a conspiracy of American imperialism to restore (or consolidate) its hegemony over the international capitalist economy or world one.

. The crisis wouldn’t be anything else than a normal mechanism of re-launching and a new international unfolding of Capital accumulation, which capitalism is enabled to achieve and is already achieving.

The function of these "explanations" is political and social, not scientific. Sometimes, its irrational character takes a grotesque dimension: so, according to some in France (and not only in France) it would successively be the rise and fall of oil prices the cause of the crisis, or a considerable factor of its aggravation. But once we discard the scientific pretension of these “explanations”, which is null, we must not conclude that they lack importance. On the contrary, they are of extreme importance because they are instruments of the bourgeoisie to obtain specific social-political results:

. To blame the working class and the working movement as responsible for the crisis.

.”To blame” the oil sheiks, or generally the third world countries as responsible for the crisis.

. To show the crisis as a fatality which nobody can escape from.

. To justify the concessions called “unavoidable” to the imperatives of austerity, that is to say, the imperatives of profit.

. There is a central end to all of these objectives: to exert an enormous pressure over the working class to prevent them from understanding the real causes of the crises, which is capitalism, and only this, the sole responsible of the crises and every real and effective fight against the disastrous consequences of the crises over the working masses must be a fight against capitalism, an anti-capitalist fight. It is therefore, a pressure, to prevent a resolute and consequent fight against the international offensive of austerity and re-militarization, to prevent the emergence of an anti-capitalist, socialist alternative to the crises, for which vast sectors of the masses would be willing to fight.

October 1998

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