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At Brazil conference

WWP leader gives keynote talk on 'Capitalism at dead end'

Published Oct 10, 2011 8:30 PM

Fred Goldstein, author of “Low Wage Capitalism” and a contributing editor to Workers World newspaper, opened a conference of 579 social scientists, social workers and social work students with a penetrating Marxist analysis of the current crisis of world capitalism.

The three-day conference, which started Sept. 28, was the sixth Brazilian National Conference on Social Policy, held at the Federal University of Espirito Santo (UFES) in Vitoria, E.S., Brazil. The UFES Economics Department, which includes professors Paulo Nakatani and Reinaldo Carcanholo, has a reputation throughout Latin America for its excellent Marxist economists who have a revolutionary outlook.

Goldstein had been invited based on the faculty’s response to his book and other writings on the crisis. His keynote talk was based on a paper he submitted to the conference entitled, “Capitalism at a Dead End: Job Destruction, Overproduction and Crisis in the High Tech Era — A Marxist View.”

The talk brought out three main points: 1) capitalism “has abruptly and dramatically shifted into an irreversible crisis state of decline and has reached a point at which it cannot revive itself by economic means alone”; 2) this “dead end is the absolutely inevitable outcome of the laws governing the development of capitalism, as discovered and explained by Karl Marx”; and 3) “we are at the early stages of a historic crisis that both poses great dangers but also has the seeds within it of revolutionary potential.”

Goldstein showed how a series of jobless “recoveries” has led up to the present crisis and how the growth of capital has led to the growth of mass unemployment and crisis, as Marx predicted. He pointed out that the Federal Reserve and other central bankers have put $20 trillion into propping up the system and that all this has not stopped the growth of unemployment.

Goldstein stated that a measure of the crisis of the system is that 81 million youth are officially unemployed worldwide and that an entire generation is being shut out of the labor market and has no future under capitalism. He concluded that a mass rebellion is inevitable and that the only way out of the crisis in the long run is to destroy capitalism altogether and establish a socialist society based on human need.

The talk was very well received. To read the text that Goldstein submitted to the conference, visit www.workersworld.net and look for the title, “Capitalism at a Dead End,” just below the “Abolish Capitalism” brochure.

Role of social workers in class struggle

One does not always associate social work with political activism. The conference organizers apparently see the need to connect the overall social problems of capitalist society with their day-by-day work of ameliorating the lives of tens of millions of Brazil’s poor people. Any benefit wrested from the government for the most oppressed members of society involves some sort of confrontation with the government bureaucracy.

Thus the discussion at the conference was on many levels. There was direct social-work expertise, information about social benefits in different countries, education about the interaction of social-work organizations with the various governments, and an overall world political and economic analysis.

Among the other international invited speakers presenting their political analysis at the conference were Mamdouh Habashi of the newly formed Socialist Party of Egypt, speaking about the revolution in that country; Olga Pérez Soto, dean of the Faculty of Economics of the University of Havana, who gave a history of economic developments in Cuba since 1989; and Tsui Sit from the University of Beijing, who spoke on economic developments in China and the relationship between the agricultural and industrial sectors of the Chinese economy.

Paul Bywaters, emeritus professor of social work at Coventry University of Britain, who spoke on the current government’s serious attacks on the National Health Service, began by showing how last summer’s rebellion in London was a political outcry from a population ignored and repressed by the regime. Greek economist George Labridinis showed how he and his colleagues used Marxism to develop a method of measuring absolute poverty.

Brazilian social work professor José Paulo Netto ended the conference with a broad-ranging talk on political issues, concluding that there must either be a struggle for socialism or the world faces a barbaric capitalist future.

For information on the other speakers and a more detailed agenda for the conference, see enps.com.br.

Catalinotto, a Workers World managing editor, attended the conference and taught a “minicourse” on “The crisis in the U.S. and the movements of resistance of the working class.”