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It is not a conjunctural crisis

by n+1 Friday, May. 01, 2009 at 1:07 PM

"instinct is the hereditary knowledge of a specific program of life"

"The rapid development of loan capital is a result of actual accumulation, for it is a consequence of the development of the reproduction process, and the profit which forms the source of accumulation for the money-capitalists is only a deduction from the surplus-value filched by the reproductive ones (and it is at the same time the appropriation of a portion of the interest from the savings of others" (K. Marx, Capital, Vol. 3, chap. 31).

Let’s start from an axiom: the only way to produce new value is producing and selling commodities. Everything else concerning value (such as interest, rent and sundry "incomes") is just a subdivision of the original surplus-value. What circulates on the financial market is nothing but that surplus-value, apparently increased by the whirl of transactions. Each financial crash results from a crisis of surplus-value production. So, each financial instrument is to be considered an expedient for exorcizing such a crisis, under the illusion to turn the mere "transfer" into "creation" of value.

However, creating is a prerogative of gods. Capitalists can only produce commodities and value, or compete for the latter, including "a portion of the interest from the savings of others" (a fact which explains in itself the existence of risk loans, credit cards and any other financial instrument for laying hands on the money of savers). It must be noted that even the states and the great credit institutions act this way. In fact, when buying raw materials from abroad, a state transfers a part of its surplus-value production to the seller. Therefore, owning ore deposits or oilfields is like mortgaging a portion of the future surplus-value of countries lacking in raw materials. In addition, disposing of a large financial machinery allows to attract savings from all over the world.

In all this maelstrom of speculation, nothing is created. Simply, the value produced or to be produced moves from a place to another. For what concerns the past and the present, there is no problem: commodities follow the classic cycle of valorization M-C-M'… (money-commodities-more money and so on). For what concerns the future, there are some troubles instead: if the world population continues getting old, it will be needed to produce more and more value for paying pensions; and if India and China continue growing at the current rates or higher, it will be needed to get more and more raw materials, such as iron, copper and oil. But long before these resources are found and exploited, they will resort to every possible financial instruments for mortgaging both future savings (pension funds, health funds etc.) and new deposits of raw materials. The same will happen (actually, it has already been happening) with agricultural fields, whose products are indispensable for feeding the world. Nevertheless, being quite impossible to put M' before M-C, mortgaging the future brings with it certain risks, more or less serious for individual debtors, but absolutely ruinous for the global economic system.

What would be needed is a global control

Managing derivatives or similar credit instruments, financial operators end up by loosing completely their bearings on the general investment market. Now, as pecunia non olet (money does not smell), in the case of small banks with few customers, any liquidity problem can be easily solved by redefining investments and sharing losses (craftily ascribed to "market quirks"). All the more that savers involved in highly risky ventures cannot never realize if they actually gained or lost money on account of their own investments.

In the case of great banks, credit rating agencies, loan providers, credit card issuers, private and state investment funds etc., things become much more complicate. When interest rates go crazy and, in spite of experts’ rots about the "Holy Free Market", huge state interventions are planned in order to avoid the economic crash, at risk are not only some financial bodies, but the whole capitalist system, starting from the U.S. and the most developed counties. As The Economist has pointed out in a commentary about the rescue of Bear Stearns Bank (on March), the financial world have finally realized to be on its last legs, because of the chronic saturation of the world market.

It is a matter of logic. The yield of a financial instrument has a paradoxical nature: it can be based on rocky production foundations (what the analysts define "economic basics") or precariously balanced on the sands of speculation. Years ago, given the great market success of high-risk securities, someone invented "junk bonds". Risk was offset by high yields for some time, until the bluff was called. After that pioneering era, derivatives have become more and more sophisticated and insidious, being well hidden inside other financial products. Fraud can be easily discovered by ignoring details and concentrating on the general system. It is arbitrary to separate the valorization of capital from its realization. It would be like talking about a set containing itself, thus renewing the ancient self-referential paradox attributed to Epimenedes: "All Cretans are liars. I am a Cretan".

So here is the sequence: 1) "junk bonds" pay high yields thanks to the additional value deriving from production; 2) in such a way, production encourages "junk finance" to grow; 3) "junk finance" ends to subjugate and engulf production. As anyone who has glanced at Capital knows, this is just the method applied by Marx to neutralize logic traps in analysis (and thus, for instance, to sort out the chaos of prices by relying on the law of value).

A bank is just a node in the financial network

After avoiding logic traps, it is easy to realize that reasoning only upon the barren "junk finance" is quite impossible. Yet it is also clear that the production sector turns out commodities, not capitals, which can find realization solely within the sphere of circulation. And circulation tends to become more and more independent of production, till to wipe it out. However, "earnings" from financial speculation must stop, sooner or later, because of the impossibility of feeding their geometric progression. Economists know it well, but they can do nothing to remedy the situation. For sure, they cannot keep transactions from spreading (at the speed of light, twenty-four hours a day) throughout the world, together with unimaginable amounts of money. And then, how would they earn their living, if they admitted publicly that capitalism does not work anymore?

Even The Economist, weekly mouthpiece of the unbridled bourgeois optimism, pointed out this contradiction:

The marvelous edifice of modern finance took years to build. The world had a weekend to save it from collapsing.

Just alarmism? We do not think so. In 2007 it was needed to rescue British mortgage lender Northern Rock and to flood the financial markets with hundreds of billions of dollars. Then, on March 16th, 2008, America’s Federal Reserve denied laissez-faire principles by rescuing Bear Stearns, the country’s fifth-largest investment bank. A couple of days later, in order to warm the market, the Fed cut short-term interest rates to 2.25%, marking the fastest loosening of monetary policy in a generation. At the same time, it froze investments by recognizing to ignore what was really happening, how much uncollectible debts amounted to and how many banks were on the verge of collapse all over the world. It was a meaningful admission of impotence. In the era of virtual business it would be needed a global control of financial flows, but nobody can impose it on others. It would be necessary to turn financial piracy into sound savings investments, but nobody knows how to do it. In short, what would be needed is an unfeasible supranational fascist plan.

Many liberalists state that it would be better to let banks fail, when passing through a crisis because of their risky ventures. The point is that they say it after extremely contributing towards slump: during the previous business boom, in fact, they all considered financial piracy to be absolutely normal. We do not intend to teach sharks morals, however. One thing for sure, every liberalist must put up with the crudity of numbers and facts. Rescuing Bear Stearns cost U.S. government billion, but there was no other escape from impending disaster, that bank being the "counterpart" of several international brokers and credit institutions which manage at least ,000 billion on the derivatives market. It was not like to wind up and close any in-the-red firm. If Bear Stearns had lost market confidence, a selling rush would soon have been triggered by derivatives traders, causing a chain reaction in the whole financial system. Anyway, what is clear now is that, after the averted failures of Northern Rock and Bear Stearns, banks distrust each other.

Capitalism has always had a tendency to financialization, but today it has gone beyond being a mere tendency. The causes are well known. We dealt with this subject many times in the past. After the 70’s energy crisis, the dramatic rise in oil price brought about a huge drain of value toward oil rent, which was immediately turned into financial capital, in particular on London and New York stock markets. So, starting from the early 80’s, there was a massive growth in financial speculation, which paved the way for the 1987 Stock Exchange crash. As the world economy was coming out from a stagflation period, the low interest rates fed the liquidity bubble. The wide availability of value made it possible to pay high yields even in risky investment sectors and to restructure the world industrial machinery, in order to increase the labour productivity (i.e. the extraction of relative surplus-value). Moreover, all the process was terribly accelerated by the complete computerization of financial markets.

A first shake to this house of cards was given by the 1987 market crisis (cf. our Letter to Comrades no. 21). A second one came, ten years later, from the "Asian crisis", which produced a slump on the western Stock Exchange at the beginning of the new century. In order to avoid recession, governments kept down the cost of money, encouraging the financial institutions to invest the profits made in the previous period (it must be reminded that derivatives allow investors to earn large amounts of money during both market booms and market busts). Acting consistently with their avidity, the financial institutions ploughed back both previous profits and money borrowed at a low interest rate (what they arrogantly defined as "a masterpiece of financial architecture"). Three important innovations favoured speculative trading: 1) the use of chaos and complexity mathematics models in financial analysis; 2) the introduction of powerful information tools, enabling investors to perform thousands financial operations very fast, with a low percent return for each investment, but with a multiplier boosting total profits; 3) the launch, by applying the means described before, of many new derivative products, protected from market fluctuations (for the obvious benefit of issuers, not of investors). The perverse trade-off between debts and derivatives spread rapidly to individual forms of credit, such as loans, credit cards etc., and it proved so effective that, for years, banks dealt right and left, also each other, more and more risky bonds.

Fear is fatal in a financial system wholly based on trust

Actually, derivatives (just like junk bonds before them) worked perfectly well: risk was shared among investors; futures served as further savings collectors; money was raked up where it cost less and invested where it yielded more (taking advantage of arbitrage opportunities). Yet, as usual, nobody worried about the global financial system, which must be fed by an outside source of value, that is to say by production. Obviously, the game could not go on like that for long. In fact, it has roughly come to a stop. By the way, we are quite sure that, when the storm is passed, it will start all over again. Unless, as we firmly hope, capitalism blows up.

So crisis springs from an insufficient production of value, to the point that the leading imperialist countries meet with greater and greater difficulties in getting value where it is still produced in large quantities. In addition, the new capitalist centres, from Emirates to China, have stopped depositing their capitals in U.S. and U.K. banks, preferring to use them for taking over (through "sovereign funds") U.S. and U.K. banks. That is why old imperialisms are in trouble. Let’s consider, for instance, the United States, which are used to export financial services. 40% of U.S. profits derives from financial services business, employing only 5% of the total labour force. Nonetheless, the debt of the American financial sector increased from 10% in 1980 to 50% in 2007. Since Lenin’s times, finance capital has stopped acting as a gatherer of superprofits, rents and savings, in order to turn them into loaning money for industries. On the contrary, it has become a sort of vampire by now: it bleeds industries for feeding itself. Nothing new, but today the situation is reaching danger point. Even capitalists (or at least those of them who are more conscious of the inevitable and maybe imminent crash) admit it. But what on earth can they do? Infusing confidence? As every storekeeper knows, trying to reassure customers on the good quality of the wares on sale means having already lost credibility.

As long as money was value in itself (gold, for instance), people had trust in it. Since it has been turned into a simple sign of value (coin or banknote) instead, money must always be secured by something else. Even the bill of exchange (forerunner of all futures and derivatives) would be worth nothing, if it was not guaranteed by the creditor’s right to distrain, in the case of insolvency, the debtor’s goods. With all the more reason, trust is essential in a marketplace where financial transactions are 95% of capital flows, while the exchange of goods represents just the remaining 5%. So, paralyzing markets, a general lack of trust could rapidly knock down the entire financial system. For this reason, the Federal Reserve has decided to re-regulate finance, relegating "Reaganomics" and "deregulation" to the attic. (It is like to say that state government is in a position to abolish and reintroduce economic rules, as needed. Well then, whatever happened to "free-market capitalism"?). Thus, during any future market turbulence, state money will be not distributed indiscriminately (as available funds), but given to selected companies through reliable lenders, in order to avoid financial looting (just like in the case of Bear Stearns rescue).

In addition, the Fed will set up a network of regional observatories for strictly monitoring bank activities. Therefore, investment banks will be allowed in future to go to rescue other banks in trouble only under the close supervision of the central bank. In theory, this will stop Wall Street from emblezzing state funds intended to bailout and revitalize business. We say "in theory", first because the muddy waters of finance are still swarming with sharks, and second, because the banking crisis is not over at all and nobody knows how much public money will be required for neutralize it. There are also debts from credit cards, whose exact amount (probably higher than total mortgage loans) has yet to be determined. Besides, the dropping house prices make difficult to cover mortgages in default.

The effects of this vicious circle are easily estimable. If U.S. house prices fell by 25% on average compared with the peak reached before the crisis, the total losses deriving from derivatives on mortgage loans would amount to ,100 billion. In California, for instance, houses in middle class areas have already come down by 35% in price. The overall amount resulting from summing up losses on mortgage loans and on credit cards is ,000-2,500 billion, that means a fall in purchasing power near to 20% of U.S. GDP. It is an astronomical figure, thinking that the U.S. consumption has been supporting the world economy for a century. That is why even the ultra-liberalists of The Economist demand state regulations, with a view to:

using public money to create a floor to the market, either in housing or in asset-backed securities. […] That is not a reason to condemn the whole system: it is far too useful. It is a sign that the rules need changing. But, first, stop the rot.

In other words, they appeal to the state government to help liberalism to work. As everyone can see, it is a striking contradiction, which brings us back to the example given above: when insisting on the soundness of economic fundamentals, they give rise to the suspicion that the capitalist system is already dead and buried instead. We believed that only communists considered capitalism as rotten. Now, we see that even bourgeois theorists think so.

Four points to describe the epochal crisis

Maybe we left out some detail, but one thing is for sure: what results from the analysis of value flows (through the "force-fields" of economic fundamentals) is a collapsing system. As the present economy is determined by some future and already known factors, we are in the face of a feedback, which cannot be described in linear terms. It is one of the typical situations causing chaotic phenomena. The safety valve of a pressure cooker produces a negative feedback (it is lifted by the steam pressure, allowing excess pressure to be relieved), whilst speculation on the future price of oil produces a positive feedback (it causes exactly the price rise expected by speculators). It is true that we are not in a position to calculate the death date of capitalism, but it is also true that, already now, the world’s financial heart is in fibrillation. No solution is given: relieving pressure inside "the pot of economy" will certainly lead to a recession; letting finance continue to ravage markets will certainly lead to a general slump. This strengthens the Marxist theory of imperialism as "highest stage" (meaning "last stage") of capitalism.

In the early 50’s, by applying "systemic" principles, our political current devised a forecasting model, on the basis of which a catastrophic crisis was expected in the middle of 70’s. This crisis actually happened, although without the wished social effects. In order to improve such a model, we have been trying for years to process new data relating to the development of capitalism. We just mention, here, four key stages of our work:

1) a "Quaderno" (1983) focused on the systemic nature of crisis, inspired by some Engels’ reflections (the essay was reprinted in 1985 as Historical Crisis of Senile Capitalism;

2) a "Quaderno" (1992) titled Dynamics of Historical Processes – Theory of Accumulation, where we plotted the so-called "parabola of surplus-value": from the zero of the primitive societies, which did not accumulate surplus, to the zero of an imaginary totally robotized society, through the effects of rent on finance and accumulation;

3) a monograph titled Theory and Praxis of the New American Warfare Policy (n+1, no. 11), which provided an insight into the historical determinants of present imperialistic warfare, as well as into the mechanisms ruling it;

4) a meeting held in 2007 (its materials will be published shortly), during which we updated our forecasting model with data relating to oil production and finance. (Further documents about such a topic can be found on our website).

First point. Defining crisis as "historical" means that, having a time arrow, it is irreversibly dissipative, just like everything in the universe, according to the second principle of thermodynamics. Capitalism is volcanic, but exactly for this it disperses more energy than it can produce. Experts speak, incorrectly, of "mortgage loans crisis", "credit cards crisis", or in general, "Stock Exchange crisis", thus falling into a typical logic loop: crisis is the cause of… crisis (it does not need to be reminded that the overall trend of mortgage, credit card or stock market is always an effect, never a cause). Only revolution, when reaching its bifurcation point (to say it à la René Thom), can combat entropy. What inevitably results from comparing our theoretic diagrams with real data is that, in the long run, the value increment goes down (a mortal fact for capitalism).

Second point. If all the value was consumed (in a society with the maximum possible number of workers supplying only necessary labour), there would be no surplus-labour, no surplus-value and no accumulation. Equally, if production was only performed by machines (in a society without workers), no one would generate surplus-value, and so accumulation would be impossible. Between these two bounds, there is a variable production of surplus-value, with a peak efficiency at the vertex of parabola. As the graph is symmetric, a 100% rate of exploitation (4 hours of necessary labour and 4 hours of surplus-labour) would be located just on the middle of the abscissa.

When we devised our diagram, more than 20 years ago, we stated that capitalism took its place around the "technological zero" (many machines and few workers, comparatively to the invested amount of capital, that is much absolute and even relative overpopulation). Today, the situation is getting worse for Capital, as confirmed by all the economic graphs. So the present one is not a conjunctural crisis. The production of value is constantly subject to fluctuations, but what Engels already inferred from some anticipating signs is nowadays becoming more and more bitter. Today, capitalism has to face a global and chronic crisis. Even bourgeois analysts acknowledge it by broadcasting the figures of financial crash. Because of their shortsighted attitude, they do not admit, instead, that Capital is on the edge of the precipice. They perfectly know (at least since they implemented forecasting models based on the real economy dynamics) that the curve of capitalist development has an S-shape (with an exponential growth, an inflexion point and an asymptotic progression). Capitalism has pompously celebrated itself during its exponential growth, but now it lies at the inflexion point of the curve (entropy, energy loss, heat death) and it has no reason to go on exalting its own condition. Anyway, there will be no need to wait for capitalism to be bored to death. Revolution will sweep it away much earlier.

Third point. Extremely generalizing, the "warfare policy" (q.v. our monograph mentioned above) is the mean with which Capital controls the traffic of surplus-value in the epoch of capitalist centralization (definitively followed to that of concentration). Reaganomics made it more evident (cf. our Letter to Comrades no. 25), but Marxist theory had already well-described such a "stigma" of imperialism. Those who Lenin calls (rather moralistically) "imperialist bandits" have exactly the task of "controlling traffic flows" and "fining trespassers", in exchange for a slice of circulating surplus-value. The trouble is that they quarrel and even come to blows, sometimes forgetting the real needs of Capital. And when Capital gets fed up watching them brawl (let us continue to anthropomorphize…), it makes a clean sweep of them, sparing only the worthy one. Nothing strange about it: as written in our Thesis of 1945, the political form peculiar to Monopoly Capital is Fascism. (Nowadays, even a honest democrat like the mathematician Piergiorgio Odifreddi has realized it, in his "Interview to Hitler").

Four point. Exponential economic growth is impossible in a finite world. What is happening is not so hard to understand. On one hand, the explosion of capitalism in countries such as China and India is dramatically accelerating the accumulation of crisis factors; on the other, all the world is forced to devise a way of avoiding its own collapse. Now we know that capitalism is doomed to be overwhelmed by the weight of its contradictions and we know as well that it cannot eternally resort to expedients. As the state control of economy (Keynesism, Fascism, Stalinism, Rooseveltism) turned out to be not enough, it will be necessary that all the countries try their best to save U.S. for saving themselves. Having realized that a world government is unfeasible, the national bourgeoisies delegate power to the stronger one among themselves. This confirms what we rashly asserted during our meeting of 2007: the present one is not a mere conjunctural crisis. The system clash would have to occur when the raw materials and food crisis will become more acute. Half a century ago, when the parameters of capitalism were the same of today, the forecast of a crisis within twenty years (1975) proved correct, but the events arisen from it were not decisive in terms of social upheaval. The present crash has nothing new. It is the extension of the crisis occurred in 1975. Today’s figures show a more critical situation, but this does not imply that we are now in position to provide a more precise forecast. Why do we undertake such a difficult task, then? The answer is not different from what our comrades would have replied years ago: we "play" with numbers, in order to reduce subjective interpretations and craps to the lowest possible level. It is the only way for not expressing "personal opinions". In the long period, instead, we know one thing for sure: the future man will be communist.

Be patient, please. Here is a little formula to remember

Distinguished economists have their say about the so-called subprime mortgage crisis. Some of them are optimistic, some other are pessimistic (the latter preferred by mass media, which are used to wallowing in the misfortunes of the world). The pessimistic ones are also the most famous, as their books are sold in millions of copies. They are always harping the same string: the crisis is due to the debt spiral. Nouriel Roubini foresees a twelve steps scenario of a systemic financial meltdown. Robert Manning adds that the current debt crisis will have perverse and still unconceivable effects. Paul Krugman insists on his favourite topic: the unfair distribution of wealth, as main cause of the worldwide problem of famine. Interrupting for a while his criticism against globalization to discuss the credit crunch, Joseph Stiglitz stresses that capitalism has become deeply immoral by now.

Playing the "game of why", a child could ask: "Why does the debt crisis occur?". In short, the common explanation is: what caused the crisis is… the crisis. According to our analysis, instead, both the economic technicalities invented for trying to understand virtual capital flows and the moralistic opinions of economists are only symptoms of an illness which must be accurately diagnosed. Let’s take the formula of the rate of profit: r = s/c+v (where s is the surplus-value, c is the constant capital, including the outlay of money on plants and raw materials, and v is the variable capital, representing the capital outlay on wages). It is known that, after adopting this formula, Marx chose to relate c to labour and surplus-labour (r = s/v), thus considering the sole rate of exploitation (being total profits equal to total surplus-value). Obviously Marx was right: the rate of profit represents a local and varying element (the profit attained by a single capitalist, in a single production sector), while the rate of exploitation expresses the global status of capitalism.

Now then, GWP (Gross World Product) is the total gross domestic product (GDP) of all the countries in the world, that is the total surplus-value + the total wages (W = s+v). The ratio between s and v expresses the class situation all over the world. The total value W figures up at ,500 billion and it has risen by 5.2% during 2007, thanks almost exclusively to China (+11.5%), India (+8.4%) and Russia (+7.2%). The countries with an increased GDP have produced new value; those ones with a stationary GDP have just consumed the value they previously produced. World population has grown less than in the past (+1.17%): this means that per capita GDP has risen in some developing countries, but fallen in the metropolis of old capitalism. Why? Because the old imperialisms have seen a large increase in their labour productivity, causing (not so paradoxically) a drop in the unit prices of products. In such countries, therefore, goods must be produced in a greater quantity, in order to assure the same profit amount, just while consumption is coming down by reason of pauperism, ruining also the middle class (as a consequence of relative and absolute overpopulation). In conclusion, after a quarter of a century, the curve of capitalism kept stable, with its characteristic S-shape (the initial stage of growth was exponential; then, as saturation began, the growth slowed down, continuing asymptotically). As stated above, capitalism is now in its asymptotic stage and there is no possibility of it going back to its inflection point, let alone to its exponential growth. Even China and India have dropped beyond inflection point. Their growing rates (in terms of value) are falling from year to year. They continue to rise, but less and less rapidly.

Do not worry, there are good prospects

As you can see, the crisis did not spring from mortgage loans or other debts. On the contrary, the desperate pursuit of expedients for valorizing capital is just caused by the crisis of surplus-value production. Accounts do not balance, that is why capitalists try, as last resort, to valorize their money (M-M') in the sphere of circulation. So they are stealing old people’s savings, selling worthless bonds (with mortgage and credit card debts hidden inside), booking oil yet to be won (the price of black gold has already reached a peak of 0 a barrel), plunging on ethanol business, transferring their plants to China, speculating on monetary market (and thus causing the depreciation of the dollar compared with the euro) etc. Even the states are prey to such a madness, as proved by the rise of "sovereign funds" (state-owned funds allowing to take over banks and investment funds of other states). By virtue of their computerized models, economists are perfectly acquainted with the current catastrophic situation, but they reveal the truth about it in dribs and drabs, depending on whether they write on newspapers or they talk on TV or they teach in universities.

There is nothing to do, because if a debtor (a worker no more able to pay his housing loan or the heavily in debt U.S., it makes no difference) is insolvent, two solutions are possible: distraining his goods or help him to get on his legs again, so that he can pay, sooner or later. Nevertheless, the U.S. are in position to blackmail the rest of the world: if you want capitalism to survive, you have to preserve its Washington-based prime mover. So we can certainly exclude that the "Yankee debtor" will let anyone distrain his plants and buildings or settle his debts, some day. This leaves all the other countries no choice but to keep the U.S. economy afloat, taking the disastrous consequences.

After analysing the figures, we tried to delineate a highly abstract model, in order to be not influenced by secondary factors. Then we have hazarded some forecasts, even though what we are really interested in is the S-shape curve mentioned above. Each of us would like to know in which point of the asymptotic tract capitalism exactly lies, because it is certain that when the EEG of Capital will be flat, the whole system falls down. On the basis of our forecasts, Capital will collapse when its basic parameter curves (production and consumption of oil and raw materials, population and total value growth, productivity increase) meet at a point of the diagram. Even not using supercomputers, we feel up to stating that the crash will occur within two decades from now (as also confirmed by some bourgeois models). If facts will prove us wrong, we do not get discouraged: although climatic conditions are sometimes in contrast with forecasts, no meteorologist will ever dare to deny the laws of weather.

Reading our optimistic analysis of crisis, you could object that there are reasons for being pessimist as well, considering the passivity of workers. Do not worry. Let’s begin by saying that proletariat continues existing and becomes larger and larger: according to the last statistics of the International Labour Organization, there are almost three billions of workers all over the world and at least 50% of them are wage-earning workers (85% in the old industrial countries, 40% in China and India, 30% in the rest of the world). Even though they are now "invisible", as stated by sociologists, one billion and half of wage-earning workers (subjected to a more and more brutal exploitation) are the widest proletarian mass ever seen in the history of capitalism, neither in proportion to world population. What’s more, the so-called "reserve army of labour" amounts to 190 millions of unemployed and 700 millions of underemployed. Well then, why to be pessimist?


Quaderni of n+1: The Law of Value and its Revenge, 1988.

Quaderni of n+1: The Crisis of the U.S. Banking System, 1991.

Quaderni of n+1: Historical Crisis of Senile Capitalism, 1985.

Quaderni of n+1: Dynamics of Historical Processes – Theory of Accumulation, 1992 (on our website).

Theory and Praxis of the New U.S. Warfare Policy, n+1, no. 11, March 2003.

Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. 3, Part 7, Revenues and their Sources.

Piergiorgio Odifreddi, Interview to Hitler, 2005 (it can be found easily on search engines).

"Individuals and groups indifferent to know "where they were going" or to try to change their direction have always been slaves to a cold and descriptive research, which merely files its results with no care for archives in the least. If it was possible to simply photograph reality, one single picture should be enough: in fact, taking a series of photos means seeking rules of evenness or unevenness among the various images, in order to anticipate in a way how reality will be in the next picture (before snapping again). Rather, human aggregates tried to foresee the future, before even sketching systems of scientific and historical knowledge. First they made use of ancestral notions for securing themselves against accidents, dangers and cataclysms, then they started recording contemporaneous and past events and information. Chronicle was born after pragmatics. Instinct itself, which is an early and scanty form of knowledge, regulates the animal behaviour on the basis of future events to be avoided or to be facilitated. Here’s a good definition given by an expert: "instinct is the hereditary knowledge of a specific program of life."

(Property and Capital, 1948)
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