what a coincidence…


For the last week or so, I’ve been reading a lot of critical theory, especially the Frankfurt posse. So, I just wanted to share a passage with you from Neumann’s Behemoth…

In a monopolistic system profits cannot be made and retained without
totalitarian political power, and that is the distinctive feature of National
Socialism. If totalitarian political power had not abolished freedom of
contract, the cartel system would have broken down. It the labour market were
not controlled by authoritarian means, the monopolistic system would be
endangered; if raw material supply, price control, and rationalization agencies,
if credit and exchange control offices were in the hands of forces hostile to
monopolies, the profit system would break down. The system has become so fully
monopolized that it must by nature be hypersensitive to cyclical changes, and
such disturbances must be avoided… In short, (real) democracy would endanger
the fully monopolized system. It is the essence of totalitarianism to stabilize
and fortify it.

Also, to add to the conversation, we can lok at Gurland’s Technological Trends and Economic Structure and the discussion of post-wwI Germany’s failure to sustain economic recovery…

The capitalist automatism [its automatic adjustment mechanisms, for example
the business cycle] no longer operated to overcome stagnation and unemployment.
Monopolistic price-pegging prevented the aggregate value of commodities from
being expressed in less money-units. Creation of additional buying capacity
(through investments, more employment, higher wages, and increasing productive
demand) encountered the resistance of ‘vested interests’ as expressed in
invested capital’s claim to at least ‘normal’ return on capital outlay. Either
the investors’ the creditors’ or the commodity-owner’s’ claim for just return
was to be turned aside, or the crisis was to go on and on (
and on and on and
on).

If we read Gurland and Neumann through Marx, we see that they agree that the accumulation process is inherently unstable and generates concentration and centralization, which eventually leads to stagnation. Also, in line with Marx’s thinking (IMHO), we see that the increasing dependency of capitalistic enterprise on other enterprises and the interlocking of economic fortunes between industry creates a monopoly to be had not by commodity control and production, but rather a monopoly held by the capital government over the economic factors that control the monopolistic abilities (and the commodity) itself. Essentially, the “leaders” are caught up in the economic system which they should stand outside. Marx, I think, would suggest that the monopoly should be held by the proletariat, as opposed to the Bourgeois, whereas in our economy the government is part of the Bourgeois,  and seeks only to reproduce its own wealth. 

Perhaps power is the new commodity fetish. Power in that sexy Foucault-ian way, where it is defined as the ability to define your reality as THE reality. Reality as a commodity fetish… now that’s a fun idea…

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