Capital and History

By Robert Kurz

“The confidence in capitalism is apparently unshakeable; also on the Left. Out of all crises it will rise like a phoenix from ashes and will start a new recovery. (…)
This understanding does not take the internal dynamics of capitalism seriously. There is also another conception. Accordingly, exploitation exists actually only in the historical dynamics of an ascending development of productive forces. It is not merely technological change, but, in this way, new conditions of exploitation are established. Therefore capitalism is not the “eternal return of the same,” but an irreversible historical process, which drives toward a point of culmination. Because in the process of the internal history of capitalism, the margin [Spielraum] for the exploitation narrows itself. The impetus for this is the liberation/redundancy [Freisetzung] of labor power, which is made superfluous/ redundant [überflüssig] to an always increasing extent by scientific-technological aggregates. Labor constitutes, however, the substance of the capital, since it alone produces real increases in value. Capitalism can compensate this internal contradiction only by an expansion of the credit system, thus through anticipation of a future increase in value. However, this systematic “snowballing” must press at its limits if the anticipation is stretched too far into the future. From this point of view, crises do not constitute a purely “corrective function,” but they historically strengthen and advance toward an internal barrier of exploitation.”

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