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To Undertake Fundamental Analytical Progress And Go Beyond Das Kapital

Translated Thursday 27 September 2012, by Gene Zbikowski and reviewed by Derek Hanson

The starting point has to be the economic crisis. The formidable tremors from the 2008 financial crisis, the 2009 world recession, and the 2010-2012 euro and European sovereign debt crises have raised doubts regarding the capacity of the capitalist system to regulate itself, contrary to neo-con dogma. There has been a simultaneous awakening of interest in Marx’s critical analyses, in Capital, in the system’s contradictions with a view to answering the world systemic crisis. But the crisis is not merely economic – it concerns civilization as a whole.

By Paul Boccara, economist and former member of the National Committee of the French Communist Party [1].

My book is not limited to taking up and explaining in an accessible way the analyses contained in Marx’s magnum opus. It also indicates several possible developments for the elucidation of the challenges of our times. It also brings up the desirability of linking them to other critical theories of capitalism and society. It’s a matter of confronting the whole present-day crisis of globalized capitalism with proposals for advancing towards a different structure.

If you don’t want to insult Marx, you must avoid treating his work as a religious doctrine. You have to consider it as a stage in the progress of scientific analysis, which is by definition unfinished and is something to be pursued. Without fundamental analytical progress that goes beyond Capital and that stretches to proposals for the construction of a new civilization, this work of Marx’s becomes unusable and even sterile.

You cannot reduce Marx’s thought to Book One of Capital. Marx did not limit himself to an analysis of surplus value and capitalist exploitation. He wound up, in Book Three, with an unfinished sketch of the limits of profitability and the accumulation of capital characterizing the crises of capitalism. This concerns the excessive accumulation or the over-accumulation of capital. And he sketched out solutions to respond to this over-accumulation that occurs in the course of economic fluctuations and economic transformations.

We have to start from the way crises regulate the system, which is the culmination of the whole of Capital, in order to pursue his analysis with a theorization that one might call neo-Marxist. This theorization has to go from the crises of overproduction resulting from a given economic situation to the systemic crises, properly speaking, to responses to the historic transformations of the system, and on to questioning the capitalist system and the possibility of going beyond it.

A crucial question concerns the need to go beyond economics, starting from Marx’s work, to deal with non-economic aspects of society, what I call “anthroponomy,” the system of the transformation of human nature.

According to Marx, in Capital, by transforming external Nature into products with their economy, human beings transform their own human nature. Marx thought that these questions were at least as decisive as economic questions. This concerns parental relations, the mental relationship to productive activities, political relations, and cultural relations. Accordingly, the combination of capitalist economics and free-trade anthroponomy shapes Western civilization, which today has in large part become globalized and which is in a radical crisis.

I develop proposals for a new monetary creation as a way to exit the globalized capitalist crisis: 1) a monetary creation by the European Central Bank; and 2) a new world monetary creation, as alternatives to the domination of the financial markets, and for the growth of social progress in solidarity.

With the crisis of civilization, there arises the radical challenge of revolutions in operations. At the economic level, it’s a matter of revolutions – informational revolutions, (whose analysis, starting from Marx’s analysis of the industrial revolution, shows that it exacerbates the system’s domination while requiring that we surmount it), monetary revolutions and ecological revolutions. At the anthroponomic level, there are migratory, parental, and demographic revolutions, and so on.

I detail proposals to master and to begin to surmount the markets, at the economic level, and the delegation of representative power at the anthroponomic level, to advance towards a civilization of sharing with all of humanity, with a new culture.

[1Paul Boccara is the author of Le Capital de Marx, son apport, son dépassement, au-delà de l’économie. Published by Editions le Temps des cerises, 2012, 174 pages, 14 euros

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