Who today could deny that the capitalist world is in a generalized economic crisis? Whether measured by the level of unemployment, declining industrial output, the glut of commodities on the world market, or the rise in bankruptcies and other business failures, the painful evidence is everywhere. None of the capitalist countries is immune. Even the "West German miracle" has revealed its clay feet; the leading electronics firm, AEG Telefunken, recently declared bankruptcy.
In these pages, a Marxist looks at the state of the capitalist economies. What you will find here, however, is not just an effort to fit contemporary events into Marxist categories. Rather, Sam Marcy approaches this subject with a scientific method; he proceeds from the specific to the general and not the other way around. He examines with great skill and knowledge the most striking features of contemporary economic developments, takes into account their historical evolution, and then proceeds to shed light on what the future holds.
Besides holding up to analysis such not-so-minor cataclysms as the collapse of Drysdale Government Securities and Penn Square Bank, as well as the panic in the silver market several years ago, the author goes back in history to the early days of capitalist development. To show what features of the organism have been with it from the beginning, he calls to our attention Holland's speculative "tulip mania" of the seventeenth century.
Marcy also draws on history to highlight what has changed in capitalist development. Why did the building of the Erie Canal spur industrial development in the Midwest, while the St. Lawrence Seaway a century later merely hasten its decline? Why was Freddie Laker undone by the same process that earlier made Henry Ford a kingpin of the auto industry? Marcy's contributions on these subjects are unique and eye-opening.
But education as an end in itself is not the purpose of these writings. The author is an organizer in the workers' movement concerned with the tactics of the class struggle. The section on the auto industry and the UAW contract speaks directly to the enormous problems faced by the workers when the bosses and the Reagan administration have gone on the offensive to shove the most humiliating and painful setbacks down their throats. These articles should help all workers gain a perspective on what strategies must be fought for in such a period.
The articles in this book appeared originally in the weekly paper Workers World. In many ways they form a sequel to an earlier collection of articles by Marcy published under the title Reindustrialization: The Menace Behind the Promise.
The catastrophic events examined in these books appear to be breaking upon the people of the world with almost a preordained fatalism. But the deep conviction underlying Marcy's analysis is that those who make the effort to comprehend what is happening can make a great contribution to the struggle of the masses of people to turn the tables and take command of their own destiny, bringing down once and for all those destructive social and class relations that express themselves in the uncontrollable forces of the capitalist market.
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