Class, Capital and Crisis: A Return to Fundamentals

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The financial crisis that currently threatens the stability of global capitalism is the latest in a long line of similar episodes stretching back some 200 years. While many orthodox economists explain the crisis in terms of the failure of the proper operation of the market mechanism, radical accounts see crisis as an aspect of the constitution of capital and of the process of the accumulation of capital itself. This article explores the extent to which Marx's understanding of accumulation and crisis can provide the basis for a general theory of capitalist crisis. It concludes that the growing and chronic separation between financial (fictitious) accumulation and productive accumulation is the key to understanding the latest crisis of capital expressed as a global credit crunch. Furthermore, Marx opens the door to the development of an overtly 'political' theory of crisis stressing the 'capitalist use of crisis' as a means for the violent reassertion of the fundamental class relation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-39
Number of pages13
JournalPolitical Studies Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


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