Capital & Class

Print ISSN: 0309-8168
Is there any difference between Alchian and Demsetz’s ultra-liberalism and Bowles and Gintis’ radicalism? My answer is that, ontologically and methodologically, there is none. Their common neoclassical methodology results in the same conception of power as incompatible with Walrasian competition and the sole difference between them regards the extension of power and competition in reality. Paradoxically, notwithstanding Bowles and Gintis’ label of radicals, this conception coincides with the liberal view that sees competition as a natural and universal mode of social interaction (JEL L220, D230, B210).
New emerging currents are questioning the assumptions of the traditional formalisation of Marx's value theory initiated by Ladislaw von Bortkiewicz in 1905, which has led three generations of economists to conclude Marx's theory was fundamentally flawed. The challenge comes from two directions characterised as ‘sequentialist’ and ‘non-dualist’. Freeman shows that the fusion of these two insights leads to a completely general, coherent, non-equilibrium account of Marx's value theory in which the traditional allegations of inconsistency and error cease to exist.
Prepublication version of ‘Simultaneous Valuation vs. the Exploitation Theory of Profit: A summing up’, forthcoming in Capital and Class #94, Spring 2008 This paper examines the claims made by Simon Mohun and Roberto Veneziani in their Capital and Class #92 article entitled ‘The incoherence of the TSSI: a reply to Kliman and Freeman’. We show that they have effectively conceded that simultaneist interpretations of Marx’s theory contradict his conclusion that exploitation (workers’ surplus labor) is the exclusive source of profit in capitalism. We demonstrate the errors of logic in their claim that the TSS interpretation is incoherent. The debate thus confirms that the TSS interpretation – contrary to simultaneist interpretations – reproduce all Marx’s principal disputed conclusions and therefore constitutes a superior interpretation of his theory of value.
This is a prepublication version of ‘Replicating Marx: a reply to Mohun’, Capital and Class No. 88, Spring 2006, pp 117-123. ISSN 0309 8168 Kliman (2001) showed that “simultaneist” interpretations – those which hold that Marx valued inputs and outputs simultaneously – contradict his exploitation theory of profit, while the temporal single-system interpretation (TSSI) conforms to it. Mohun, S. 2003. “On the TSSI and the Exploitation Theory of Profit,” Capital and Class 81, Autumn 2003, pp85-102. calls these demonstrations into question. This note defends them.
“Class prejudice and ignorance of elementary economics has a firmer grip upon the working class than ever before … Unfortunately, almost the only agency is the Labour Colleges, which are imparting instruction in false economics.”[1]
This article1 is primarily concerned with the political economy of British trade union policy towards the European Community (EC) in the 1960s and 1970s. Its aim is to reassess union engagement with the EC in this period from a viewpoint informed by the now established perspective of world-order analysis in international political economy (Cox, 1981; Lipietz, 1992; Gamble & Payne, 1996; Payne, 2005). The article is specifically concerned with the re-evaluation in this light of two notable but contrasting and substantially contradictory perspectives on British unions and Europe: Dorfman (1977) and Teague (1985, 1989, later incorporated into Teague & Grahl, 1992). In its concluding section, the article briefly considers the implications of this reassessment for British union policy in relation to the contemporary EU.
This article critically reassesses the predominant argument that the 1984-5 miners' strike was inevitably doomed, and examines the potential for alternative courses of action and a different outcome.
Asks why the Tory collapse at the last general election north of the border, and examines the prospects for amore radical politics in Scotland.
The militant, unofficial grassroots-led engineering construction strikes of 2009 dominated the news in Britain for many months, attaining international prominence because of their alleged xenophobia. To mainstream commentators, they appeared to be a throwback to a distant past, and inexplicable given that only a very few groups of workers are now seen as having the capability to undertake such action. Indeed, conventional explanations relied on using the alleged xenophobia as the motivating and organising rationale. This article examines the strikes, explaining their genesis, dynamics and achievements as well as their limitations. A key finding concerns how an industry class consciousness played a critical role in facilitating the workers’ ability to mount militant and successful collective action.
Unionlearn and union learning representatives were developed by the British TUC to match workers with education and training opportunities, strengthen the economy, foster market inclusion and facilitate social mobility. Their contribution to union revitalisation was emphasised. This article questions whether, with unions confronting global crisis, this is a necessary initiative. It stemmed from TUC failure to achieve policy goals, institutional needs, consequent acceptance of a lesser role, and the availability of state finance. Claims by academics that it provides influence over state policy and contributes to revitalisation remain inadequately evidenced. Union resurgence is not immanent. The way forward is through adversarial grassroots organising and socialist education, not through retooling capital, improving members’ marketability and partnership with a hostile state.
This study is an investigation of the foundations of hegemony, drawing and expanding on Gramsci's insight about the need for an ‘ethico-political’ principle such as the nation, linking dominant and subordinate to attain hegemony. In order to overcome Gramsci's limitations, it introduces the notion of ‘mechanisms of class accommodation’, referring to inclusive identities whose effect is to render the reality of class divisions politically irrelevant by stressing the ‘organic’ unity of dominant and dominated. It investigates the structural conditions for the nation's emergence, linked to the rise of capitalism, and the concrete ways in which it was constructed, strongly dependent on its nature as a mechanism of class accommodation.
Providing an account of the dynamic interrelationship between shop steward leadership and membership interaction, Ralph Darlington focuses particular attention on the much-neglected crucial role that left-wing political activists can play in shaping the nature of collective workplace relations.
Marxism is a body of theory that emanated from and was crafted for social movements. Yet, paradoxically, it does not contain a theory that specifically explains the emergence, character and development of social movements. This article works towards the formulation of a Marxist theory of social movements. Grounded in Marx's philosophical anthropology, it argues for an ontological conception of social movements, and outlines a series of concepts for the analysis of the collective action of dominant and subaltern groups as ‘social movements from above’ and ‘social movements from below’ in the historical processes that animate the making and unmaking of social structures.
Full-text of this article is available at Arlie Russell Hochschild’s influential emotional labour thesis in The Managed Heart (1983) exposes and opposes the harm wrought by the commodification of human feelings as customer service, and complements contemporary anticapitalist writing with an enduring influence and political relevance that is underpinned by Hochschild's application of Marx’s alienation theory. Critics have sought to blunt the politics of her thesis by rejecting as absolutist her condemnation of workers’ alienation. But her application of alienation theory is not thorough, since her explicit usage of it is limited to only two of Marx’s four dimensions, and thus it stops short of theorising alienation as generic to society. This undermines Hochschild’s argument on emotional labourers’ resistance, since she inadequately captures the way workers are shaped by alienation but not blinded to the reality of capitalism. The continuing political potency of her thesis requires that it should be defended and strengthened.
The present world crisis is not a mere financial crisis, but the crisis of the liberal-productivist model of development, dominant from 1980. This article analyses the crisis — an over-accumulation crisis stemming from the weakness of labour-share, combined with a double ecological crisis (food, energy/climate) — in its social and ecological dimensions, according to the concepts of regulation theory. Due to its ecological aspects, the exit from the crisis could not be a globalised reproduction of the Roosveltian New Deal. This paper proposes a ‘blueprint for a Green Deal’ to answer the challenges of the complex social, ecological and financial crisis.
This paper distinguishes some of the main currents in British anarchism at the time of the miners' strike. It explores the influence of these libertarian movements on the conflict in the coalfield, and assesses how the strike influenced the development of British anarchisms.
In the immediate aftermath of the August 2011 riots discussion of their context and meaning was severely restricted. This paper examines this prohibition on thought through the construction of a concept of shock as an immobilising excess of unexpected information. Positioning this concept within the problematics of contemporary social movements, we then ask how shock absorbers might be built into movement practice by collectivising the reception of potentially ‘shocking’ information, producing the right conditions for collective analysis. In the aftermath of the riots, it is suggested here, the weak ties of social media proved less than adequate for such a task.
This article examines the round of collective bargaining that took place between the Canadian Autoworkers (CAW), Canada’s largest private-sector union, and the ‘Big Three’ auto manufacturers (Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors) during the most recent crisis of capitalism (sometimes popularly referred to as the ‘Great Recession’). During this round of bargaining, the union made concessions in order to secure production; the article argues what while this may have represented a short-term success, in the long run the union has implicitly bought into the logics of neoliberalism, which will have disastrous consequences for both the union and the larger labour movement.
The City of London plays a central role in the internationalisation of bank capital. This internationalisation is based on a specialist type of banking called euro-banking which has focussed on lending to Multinational Corporations and Sovreign States, and which has enhanced the integration of the Newly Industrialising Countries and oil exporting countries with the Advanced economies. Different degrees of state regulation between countries has been important in the evolution of Euro-Banking and is likely to remain so for the future internationalisation of bank capital.
This article on Zimbabwe is the first of a new section of C&C, which is intended to provide background information and analysis on current affairs. Our aim is that these articles should be short (no more than 3,500 words), as snappy as C&C contributors can make them, and free from constraints of detailed research and lengthy footnotes that characterise our usual offerings. They can address any matter of topical concern, whether it be the headline variety (like Afghanistan or the Leyland strike), or those issues normally expunged from the newspapers (like the effect of Tory cuts on women's employment or the development of Britain's nuclear arsenal). We are hoping in this way to build a further link between our regular in-depth theoretical and empirical articles, and immediate political and economic issues. These contributions will not go through the normal C&C refereeing procedures; but for the sake of speed and currency will be considered by the EC alone (at the last minute before publication, if necessary). It would be useful if short bibliographical guides could be appended to the text. We should very much welcome contributions and comments on this new venture.
Current attacks on pensions can be seen as part of the neoliberal project to undermine welfare provision; but this paper argues that such attacks are nothing new. A historical comparison shows that many of the commonly held assumptions and arguments against pension provision are mistaken, and in some cases, highly misleading, with discourses or ideologies first touted in the 1940s being reused in the present period. This paper identifies those arguments that were misleading or false in the past, thus allowing us to see through them in their current forms. Embargoed by the publisher until May 2011. Full text of this item is not currently available on the LRA. The final published version is available at, doi: 10.1177/0309816810365118.
To the extent that their labour produces value and surplus value, teachers are productive labourers. This paper discusses teachers' labour in relation to the production of new labour power, explores the extent to which it is alienated, and explains how it produces surplus value. But the classroom is also a site of struggle. The paper explores some of the ways in which teachers and students may both refuse capitalist work and create space in order to pursue alternative projects that better meet their own needs. To this extent, teachers and students are productive, not of value, but of struggle.
De-growth theses point to a renewal of critical thinking able to link intellectual research projects and social movements. This paper provides an overview of some of the strands of arguments that are mobilised to criticise the ‘growth obsession’, and explains why issues raised by de-growth proponents are at odds with the regulationist research strategy. Both approaches are then critiqued for missing the connection between crisis tendencies and capitalist social property. However, the Gramscian–regulationist inheritance of paying accurate attention to institutional forms in shaping macroeconomic dynamics is still much needed in order to explore transition paths beyond growth.
The aim of this article is to develop a critique of the Brandt Report. It explores the way in which the recommendations of the Report are related to the assumptions and concepts from which the Report begins; and examines why these assumptions and concepts seem plausible to many socialists. The conclusion reached is that the Brandt Report conflates the danger to human survival with the danger to the survival of capitalism, and produces a strategy which is adequate to neither. Rather than campaigning for its implementation, British socialists should be concerned to develop an alternative strategy for changing relations between people in the North and people in the South. This should not be geared to attempts to increase financial flows from governments in the North to governments in the South, nor towards negotiations for a New International Economic Order. Its guiding perspective should be that of organising a New International Division of Labour, and it should be built upon the grass-roots initiatives already existing for such structures as combine committees and workers' plans.
Against the backdrop of economic crisis in Brazil, this article looks at patterns of dismissal and rehiring in an electrical factory there. It shows how management maintained intact the established division of labour and discusses the extent to which women were discriminated against. The paper raises interesting questions about the impact of crisis and unemployment on women workers.
National policy-makers vary enormously in their repudiation of liberalism, with a resurgence of government controls and coordination in the Nordic countries. This article questions how new organising principles are adopted in response to fundamental economic transformations, and explores institutional structures underpinning the social relations of production. Institutions defining the social relations of production regulate class coordination within the political, and class conflict within the economic spheres. Variations in capacities for coordination have a critical impact on the ability of nations to adjust their regulatory regimes in response to major economic transformations.
This paper celebrates some of the considerable strengths of Hyman’s 1970s/early 1980s analysis of unions in general and bureaucracy specifically, and reapplies it to more recent developments within British unions, while at the same time providing a critique of Hyman’s refutation of the ‘rank-and-file’ versus ‘union bureaucracy’ conception of intra-union relations. It argues that the wider set of implications Hyman drew from the accentuated pressures towards the bureaucratisation of workplace unionism that he identified ‘bent the stick’ too far in the opposite direction. In attempting to defend and refine the classical revolutionary Marxist analytical framework, the paper maintains that the conflict of interest that exists between full-time officials and rank-and-file members is a meaningful generalisation of a real contradiction within trade unionism, notwithstanding the variations and complexities involved. It examines the nature and social dynamics of full-time union officialdom, shop stewards and workplace unionism, and the relationship between the two. In the process, the limits and potential of both Hyman’s ‘earlier’ and ‘later’ writings are highlighted and some broader generalisations are drawn with relevance to current dilemmas for trade unionism.
So far, the Grundrisse, Contribution and ‘Urtext’ to the Contribution have been published in the English-language Complete Works, Volumes 28 and 20. Of the 1861-63 manuscripts, which consist of 1472 notebooks in all, the first have been available in translation as the three parts of Theories of Surplus Value. The remaining manuscripts have been translated and publication is forthcoming. The article assesses the difficulties faced by Marx in presenting the capitalist form of social reproduction in a dialectical form. Heinrich argues that the Economic Manuscripts of 1861/63 provide explanation for the changes of Marx's plan in the Grundrisse and Capital.
This paper suggests that European Marxists should take account of the contributions of Japanese economists, Uno and Sekine. Their restatement of the Law of Value, which rests on explicit recognition of three levels of analysis, is described, and is shown to allow new insights on the transformation problem and the generation of crises.
Nuclear power is not a technology of the kind which, harmful under capitalism, can be made benign by socialism. It is a dead-end technology that should be rejected altogether. The state however is deeply implicated in its development, marxism is compromised by acceptance of super-industrialism and the trade union movement is largely pro-nuclear. The new green movements will be endangered by seeking incorporation into a traditional socialist programme.
Contemporary monetary institutions posit money as an ‘exceptional’ domain, outside of democratic sovereign authority in modern capitalist states, on the basis of the claim that without it, liberal democracy would fall apart. Labour’s distributional critique of capitalism and the state must wrestle with the possibility that money in modern capitalism is anti-democratic by definition, and that as such, any social-democratic project of radical redistribution, implicit in labour’s critique of capitalist distribution, will require not merely a different allocation of existing money, but a radically different monetary relation.
In this article, the author proposes that whilst Habermas’s attempt to conceptualise a political form oriented towards the institutionalisation of emancipatory practice represents a positive step for critical theory, it is best served by developing a theoretical framework that does not presuppose or apologise for the instrumental mastery of external nature. It is argued that in order to achieve such a task, the political potential of the critique of instrumental reason elaborated by the first generation of Frankfurt School theorists ought to be realised through the labour-mediated reconciliation of humanity with both internal and external nature, for which the libertarian socialism of G. D. H. Cole provides an adequate basis.
This paper argues that the emergence, assertion and failure of the financialisation regime was enabled by the political construction of the small firm. Key shifts in societal relations, the formulation of new agendas and the extension of new forms of political, economic and social rights were asserted by political elites through the instrument of the political construct of the small firm. The paper argues that this is because of the dominant specificity model that characterises the small firm, and demonstrates how the denaturing of the small firm has allowed political elites to assert invariant behaviours to resolve historically specific contradictions in capitalist accumulation. The argument is demonstrated through parliamentary debates and through the redefinition of individual risk as household risk through the 2002 Enterprise Act.
It has been long argued by marketeers that neo-liberal reforms benefit the working class. This study suggests, however, that since the outset of the neo-liberal era in Turkey, temporary employment has risen, unionisation has declined, employment prospects have deteriorated and employees' earnings have diminished in real terms. Such developments made Turkey a ‘better’ place for capital. Yet they also caused a growing inequality in overall income distribution, and political unrest across the country.
Examining the way in which capital exploits the volunteer labour of free software developers, this article argues that there is a historical continuity between hackers and labour struggle. The common denominator is their rejection of alienated work practices, which suggests that corporate involvement in the computer underground, far from inhibiting further struggles by hackers, may function as a catalyst for them.
Atlantic Fordist Crisis 
Knowledge-Based Economy 
The No-Growth Economy 
Finance-Dominated Accumulation in Crisis 
Capitalist growth regimes are analysed drawing on Marx’s insights into the fundamental contradictions of the capitalist mode of production, regulation theoretical arguments about the five basic structural forms of accumulation regimes and their modes of regulation, historical geographical materialism’s emphasis on spatio-temporal fixes, and state-theoretical accounts of the ‘government + governance’ of capitalist social formations in the shadow of hierarchy. This framework is then applied to four specific growth regimes and their crisis tendencies. These regimes are Atlantic Fordism, two (among many) alternative post-Fordist trajectories – the knowledge-based economy and finance-dominated capitalism – and a radical ‘no-growth’ variant of the ‘Green New Deal’. The article highlights the crisis tendencies of the first three and assesses whether the Green New Deal represents an alternative route out of crisis or the capture of an eco-social project by the forces that brought us finance-dominated accumulation. It concludes with a future research agenda.
The Turkish economy has been crisis-prone since the establishment of the Republic in1923. The various policies that resulted from the series of crises following the 1929 world economic recession have not only shaped the country’s integration into the global economy, but have also determined the specificities adopted by the accumulation regimes. The impact of the current global crisis on Turkey, and the government’s reaction to it, need to be analysed in relationship to the existing accumulation regime shaped by the country’s history. Thus, while this article is concerned with Turkey’s reactions to the current global crisis, it contends that policies from 2008 onwards show a degree of continuity with the policies already in place to cope with the problems generated by the 1994 and 2001 crises experienced in the country. The internationalisation of the Turkish economy, the relationship between core and periphery within the country, and the shifting relations of production and labour relations have all informed the AKP’s response.
Critique is the opening of categories that are closed, to reveal the antagonism within them, to reveal the crisis that they conceal. The understanding of critique as the unmasking of domination is reactionary claptrap.
The period from the 1970s to the 1990s saw much discussion about the declining power of national states in the face of internationalization and, later, globalization. This topic has been explored within the Conference of Socialist Economists since its founding meeting in October 1970, as well as in many issues of its Bulletin and, later, in Capital & Class. The global economic crisis has reinvigorated this debate, and invites a return to some of the first principles of historical materialism. Starting with Marx and Engels’ discussion of the world market and national states, I explore the impact of neoliberalism on both aspects of this relation and then draw some general conclusions.
This article considers whether industrial relations (IR) research is objective, impartial or value-free, and argues that many IR academics in Britain have tended to start from a social-democratic premise which makes them relatively more sympathetic to the interests and objectives of workers and their trade unions than to the business needs of employers and managers. Focusing attention on the partisanship of those who have made a distinctive ‘radical/critical’ contribution to IR scholarship, it advances the argument that IR can, at one and the same time, be both partisan and objective. Acknowledging the real potential dangers of bias in adopting a methodological approach that states, in the words of C. Wright Mills, ‘I have tried to be objective, but I do not claim to be detached’, it provides a defence of the potential merits of partisanship, provided it is underpinned by rigorous scholarly research.
Macroeconomic Growth and Differential Accumulation (Per cent, five-year moving average)  
Since the late 1980s, Israel has been undergoing a profound transformation, characterized by reconciliation with its Arab neighbours and attempts to reintegrate into the regional economy, a transition from a militarized economy to open markets, and a decline of the collectivist ethos in favour of liberalism and free enterprise. This transition, we argue, is part of a world-wide shift from the 'depth' to 'breadth' of accumulation and the parallel globalization of ownership. In order to survive, the large Israeli corporations must substitute outward expansion for the old protectionism of a militarized economy, and give up domestic control in return for global alliances.
This paper addresses two important, conspicuous topics for the understanding of contemporary capitalism: the world market and the knowledge economy. By locating these within Marx’s value theory, its authors take issue with other interpretations that explicitly reject or misinterpret Marx’s value theory in light of these themes. More generally, these exercises point to the need for value theory and the fact that it should and can move beyond its traditional terrain, collaborating with other strands of critical thought in understanding developments within contemporary society.
This article explores the decisive role of pension funds in the neoliberal restructuring of the Icelandic economy, arguing that, through their involvement in the pension-fund industry, the labour unions contributed to laying the foundations for Iceland’s economic financialisation. The socioeconomic stability provided by the labour organisations was the crucial element upon which the new financial regime of accumulation relied, enhancing the national economic ‘credibility’ that helped the internal market to attract foreign speculators as well as gaining access to loans from international market. I begin by examining how the structural crisis of the Icelandic economy produced an explosion of inflation and industrial conflict in the late-1980s. I then retrace the way the implementation of a neo-corporatist pattern enabled lower inflation and stabilisation of the currency. Finally, I analyse the way in which the involvement of the Icelandic trade unions in the financial mechanisms through the pension industry generated a degree of identification with pro-market governmental policy on the part of union leaders, encouraging them to tailor their own strategies accordingly. My conclusion is that Icelandic unions’ consensus concerning the ‘stabilisation programme’ implemented by the neoliberal coalitions relies on their embeddedness into the financial structures of the national economy through occupational pension funds.
This article offers a comprehensive review of John Holloway’s Crack Capitalism by situating it within the wider body of his work spanning the last two decades. The article reflects on the significance of Holloway’s argument that revolution must be conceived as an interstitial process, suggesting that this latest volume offers both a more grounded analysis of capitalism and an exploration of the poetry of ‘cracks’ that rupture the capitalist ‘synthesis’. Holloway effectively articulates Adorno’s negative dialectics with Bloch’s principle of hope, pointing to the necessity of rejecting what-is and opening outwards to what-is-not-yet.
Despite the UK trade union movement’s avowedly secular nature, its antecedents show that religious beliefs greatly influenced many early trade unionists and, in some cases, contributed to the formation of a trade union consciousness. This paper considers the way trade union leaders in the 19th and 20th centuries drew upon religious teachings of social justice to organise their fellow workers. This context provides background for understanding how today a similar ideological commitment to collectivisation and social justice may be held by workers of faith; and how the adoption of a ‘militant secularism’ by some trade unionists may result in the closing of these conceptual spaces.
The literature on global production networks (GPNs) and global commodity/value chains has generally conceptualised small firms as being at the bottom of the commodity chain hierarchy, and thus subordinate to larger firms. As a consequence, small firms and their employees are typically imagined to be fairly powerless to shape the structure of GPNs. By way of contrast, in this paper we argue that small firms and their employees are not lacking in the capacity to affect the way GPNs and commodity chains develop, but can in fact shape them in potentially significant ways. This recognition becomes evident if, instead of starting any analysis of small firms in GPNs with the governance structures of production networks or managerial strategies, we instead start the analysis with the organisation and control of the labour process in concrete settings, and tie this to broader understandings of uneven and combined development under capitalism.
An analysis of commentary on the UK’s August 2011 riots reveals shifts in the way the media and politicians now construe concepts of youth, race, criminality and deprivation. By comparing the response to these events with that which followed the riots of 1981, these changes can be clarified and illuminated. This analysis reveals that discussions of ‘social problems’ exploited by ‘infiltrators’ (1981) have been replaced by notions of ‘pure criminality’ and ‘mob rule’. The implications of these changes for contemporary protest, and some ways in which the riots and other forms of protest can be related, are drawn out.
Trevor Evans offers a useful survey of the development of the current world financial structures. He particularly emphasises the international role of the dollar and the way in which this role has constrained domestic economic management in the us and other capitalist countries. This latter discussion then leads to a consideration of the generation and transmission of economic crisis.
Top-cited authors
Richard Sennett
  • The London School of Economics and Political Science
Bob Jessop
  • Lancaster University
Simon Clarke
  • The University of Warwick
Nigel Thrift
Bob Jessop
  • Lancaster University