An Introductory Explanation of
Capitalist Economic Crises

by Scott Harrison


(As of 10/17/08)


Chapter I: The Basic Contradictions Underlying Capitalist Economic Crises

1.1       Dialectical contradictions.
1.2       The fundamental contradictions of capitalism.
1.3       The contradiction between production and consumption.
1.4       Crises of overproduction.
1.5       The contradiction between the restricted consumption of the masses, and the unrestrained expansion of capitalist production.
1.6       Comparing the contradictions.
1.7       The two aspects of our more concrete contradictions.
1.8       Why consumption is so constrained.
1.9       Why production tends to be so unconstrained.
1.10     The capitalist refusal to keep investing.
1.11     Excess capacity hurts profits.

Chapter II: The Surface Layer of Contradictions

2.1       Artificial means to expand markets.
2.2       The export of capital.
2.3       Consumer credit.
2.4       Keynesian deficit spending.
2.5       Monetary manipulations.
2.6       The service economy.
2.7       The ‘casino economy’.
2.8       New industries.
2.9       Credit bubbles.
2.10     Credit exists to facilitate overproduction.
2.11     Collapsing bubbles.
2.12     People’s psychology.
2.13     The secondary contradiction of the anarchy of the market.
2.14     Summing up the relationship between surface contradictions and the underlying contradictions.

Chapter III: How Are Capitalist Economic Crises Overcome?

3.1       Overproduction of what?
3.2       The destruction of excess capital.
3.3       Physical destruction vs. mere depreciation.

Chapter IV: Capitalist Economic Crises in the Imperialist Era

4.1       Capitalism in the imperialist era.
4.2       Have economic crises changed in the modern era?
4.3       Long waves or cycles?
4.4       The Trotsky/Kondratiev debate.
4.5       Long wave theories of Mandel and Schumpeter.

Chapter V: The Industrial Cycle Has Split in Two!

5.1       Outlining the theory.
5.2       Internal regulating mechanism(s) for the two cycles.
5.3       Are the short and long cycles worsening over time?
5.4       Are these new long cycles really cycles?
5.5       Couldn’t capitalist governments have posponed major crises even before the imperialist era?

Chapter VI: The Great Depression of the 1930s [To be added.]

6.1       Overview of the Great Depression of the 1930s.
6.2       Keynesian successes and failures.
6.3       How World War II really ended the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Chapter VII: The Long Slowdown from 1973 to 2007 [To be added.]

Chapter VIII: The Crash of 2008 [To be added.]

Chapter IX: The Current World Economic Crisis: An Overview [To be added.]

9.1       Recognizing that there is a major economic crisis developing.
9.2       The development of the new crisis so far.
9.3       The reasons for the slow development of this new crisis.
9.4       What the future holds, and what it will take to resolve this new crisis.

Chapter X: Crises Under Soviet-style State Monopoly Capitalism [To be added.]

10.1       The Socialist Soviet Union.
10.2       Soviet-style state monopoly capitalism was different than any previous form of capitalism.
10.3       The development of the great economic crisis of the revisionist USSR.
10.4       Analysis of the nature of the economic crisis in the revisionist USSR.
10.5       Was the Soviet economic crisis truly an overproduction crisis?
10.6       Was there a “hidden” market in Soviet state monopoly capitalism?
10.7       [...]

Chapter XI: Criticisms of the Crisis Theory I am Defending [To be added.]

11.1       The sorts of criticisms that have been directed at this theory.
11.2       Marx’s supposed dismissal of “underconsumption” theories.
11.3       [...]

Chapter XII: Other Crisis Theories [To be added.]

12.1       A quick survey of alternative crisis theories.
12.2       Disproportionality theory #1: Increasing wages as the cause of crises.
12.3       Disproportionality theory #2: The planless anarchy of production as the main cause of crises.
12.4       The falling rate of profit theory due to the rising organic composition of capital.
12.5       [...]

Appendix A: Dialectical Contradictions [To be added.]

Appendix B: Surplus Value [To be added.]

Appendix C: Say’s “Law” [To be added.]

Appendix D: Glossary [To be added.]

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