5) The problem of the crises of capitalism

The Congress Documents state: "As a consequence of capitalist production and distribution, the crises of the capitalist system, too, compared to the past, have considerably increased." (p. 26)

Although the documents frequently repeat words such as "further enhanced", "new developments", "qualitative development" in an attempt to load more meaning to their theses but in actuality these do not help advance it even an inch. That aside, what is said about the crisis in the documents is a distorted presentation of reality. Even in Engels's time, crises had already changed relative to Marx's period, a situation on which Engels had written extensively. The documents offer their conclusion as if it is offering a new diagnosis on the new era, whereas this diagnosis has a history of at least one hundred and fifty years.

So what is the Marxist perspective on the crises of capitalism?

As an inevitable part of the capitalist system, crises emerged along with capital. What initially began as ten, eight, five, and increasingly shorter intervals of "recurring" economic crises of capitalism gradually became a continual element of the system, changing appearances, forms, and alternating cycles, and becoming ever more complex, protracted and irregular. So much so that they have become a shadow of the capitalist system. Although, the causes of crises remained the same, their forms, appearances, and cycles show differences from those of Marx's period. This is the general framework that should be underlined. This is also the common view of the classics after Marx.

Engels has extensive evaluations about the topic of crisis. However, it will suffice to reiterate only several most striking ones. Let's start with the following: "While the productive power increases in a geometric, the extension of markets proceeds at best in an arithmetic ratio. The decennial cycle of stagnation, prosperity, over-production and crisis, ever recurrent from 1825 to 1867, seems indeed to have run its course; but only to land us in the slough of despond of a permanent and chronic depression. The sighed for period of prosperity will not come; as often as we seem to perceive its heralding symptoms, so often do they again vanish into air." (Engels, Preface to the English Edition of Capital, Volume I, p. 39) [https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/p6.htm]

In other words, what was a periodically returning crisis terms in Marx's time left its place to a chronic depression in a new era. The cycles of capitalist circulation had changed and the periods of prosperity remained at the margins of life without ever to come back.

Here is a second quote from Engels to re-emphasize the change in the duration and frequency of crisis:"[As I have already stated elsewhere [English edition: Vol. I. — Ed.], a change has taken place here since the last major general crisis. The acute form of the periodic process with its former ten-year cycle, appears to have given way to a more chronic, long drawn out, alternation between a relatively short and slight business improvement and a relatively long, indecisive depression-taking place in the various industrial countries at different times."(Engels's note # 8 to Marx's Capital, Volume III , Section 30, p. 433-434) [https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/ch30.htm]

Our third quote from Engels is from one of his letter to Bebel in 1866:

"We have entered upon a period incomparably more dangerous to the existence of the old society than the period of ten-yearly crises." (Engels, Engels to August Bebel in Berlin, London, 20 (-23) in January 1886, Marx, Engels, Selected Correspondence 2, p.205) [https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/download/Marx_Engels_Correspondence.pdf]

Thus, as Engels underlines, the new era, leaving behind the cycle routine of capitalism, points out to a more complex and forbidding period for capitalism.

Here is Lenin's succinct assessment: "The forms, the sequence, the picture of particular crises changed, but crises remained an inevitable component of the capitalist system." (Lenin, Marxism and Revisionism, Selected Works, Volume 11, p. 483) [https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1908/apr/03.htm]

And here's Mao's conclusions on the same topic: "Crises that are seen in the capitalist society since the Second World War are different that those of Marx's days. In those days, crises in general appeared every seven or ten years. In the past fourteen years from the end of the Second World War until 1959, three crises emerged." (Mao Tse-tung, Selected Works VI, page 248)

In short, the conclusion is that crises have change since Marx with increasingly shorter cycles and irregularities.

This is the collective conclusion we can draw: The cycles of the capitalist economy goes on in disorder in its entirety. Not only that the crises have remained as an element, component, or part of the capitalist economy but also they have gained a continuous character. This does not mean that the capitalist economy has no chance to breathe at all. It means that the periods of prosperity are becoming less and less frequent and inadequate, whereas the depression periods are getting increasingly more painful and intense. In other words, capitalism must go on with a protracted general crisis. As Engels had mentioned, chronic and protracted crises that intensify in between short-term improvement and long-term and indecisive depression have become a continuous and constant character of the capitalist system.

The period of prosperity that Engels had mentioned is still nowhere to be seen; capitalism is yet to recover completely from depression; it is still stuck in the industrial cycle, stagnation, and depression.

In other words, considering the three decades of "golden years" following the Second Imperialist War of Repartition as a parenthesis symbolizing capitalism's long-term development, the general trend is in accordance with Engels' words: relatively short and slight improvement in business followed by a long and unstable depression.

In a situation where the concentration and centralization of capital has reached new peaks and the monopoly capitalism has prevailed everywhere and has taken the entire production under its control, and as the monopoly rendered capitalism's contradictions even bigger through higher inequalities and the production through scientific applications have expounded the imbalance and disharmony among the various branches of the economy, in the new era depression has become even more pronounced.

Thus, the crisis of the capitalist system had taken a new form with shorter intervals and had become "a continuous and constant depression" even by Engels' days. In that case, what is new and "increased compared to the past," as the MKP puts it? It would had been understandable if they had said the following: in the recent decades, financial crises have overtaken the economic crises of overproduction; what is being observed are the financial crises, even if they reveal, in many cases, the over-production crises - just as in the 2008 crisis. Even though the MKP often brags about holding true to Kaypakkaya's line, they haven't managed to learn from his writings. By the beginning of 1970's, Kaypakkaya was saying: "By the Second World War, the conditions have changed... Periodical depressions of the imperialist system have become more frequent and violent." (Kaypakkaya, Selected Writings, p. 429).



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