Mick Brooks is a lifelong socialist and activist in the labour movement and this commitment shows through in this book. He is no mere ranter, however, for this is a tightly-argued and coolly measured examination of the dynamics of capitalism and how a variety of conflicting forces create internal contradictions that lead to crises that ultimately it cannot avoid.
Brooks points out that even the most robust protagonists for capitalism do not understand the economic system they so vehemently advocate. These pundits were caught totally unawares by the onset of the Great Recession in 2007 for they had previously been arguing passionately that such events could never occur again. Other economists with disarming candour actually admit that they don?t know the first thing about economics and cannot explain what causes recessions under capitalism or the speculative bubble which was the obvious manifestation of deep-seated problems.
The author, however, draws extensively on Marxist economic theory to argue cogently that falling rates of profit from the early 2000s encouraged those with spare cash to go in search of new or alternative places for quick returns on investment. Turning their back on what they considered to be the paltry returns from manufacturing industry and the provision of services, they engaged in a variety of ventures, particularly speculation in rising house prices. These created only fictitious capital. This is ?paper money? unsupported by any increase in real wealth. A ?bubble? by its very nature is bound to burst and when an economic bubble bursts it always does so with far-reaching and disastrous economic and social results. While it lasted, the bubble was simply a fool?s paradise, a Tower of Babel built on a quicksand. Only Marxists predicted that its collapse would bring about a spectacular crisis of international capitalism the full implications of which are not yet clear.
?Capitalist Crisis? is based on wide reading, is scholarly but accessible and makes judicious use of quantitative evidence in support of its arguments. It is at one and the same time a narrative, a text-book and a call to action. In the author?s own words: ?This book has been written in part to outline the background to these battles (in defence of public services and public sector jobs) to those who find themselves in the firing line. it strives to explain what happened, why it happened and why this extra fight is being picked with the working class now?.
Brooks looks at the two main options available to governments within capitalism ? Keynesianism and monetarism, and concludes that neither of these ?solutions? will restore the long-term prospects of capitalism and guarantee rising living standards and expectations for the majority in society. It argues that the critique of capitalism put forward by Marx and his collaborators in the nineteenth century remains relevant and provides the underpinning for the creation of a fighting socialist alternative to end the chaos, anarchic waste, the wars and crises that the existence of capitalism inflicts on the world.
This is a book to be read and learned from and used and its appeal should extend not only to existing political activists but wider layers of those who want some explanation of the forces that are moulding their lives, for which they are being required to make sacrifices and over which they seem to have no control.
David Brandon is a longstanding labour movement activist living in Peterborough. He is the author of many books including a forthcoming biography of Margaret Thatcher and the horrors of Thatcherism.
The book ‘Capitalist Crisis — Theory and Practice’ is featured on our website and can be purchased online HERE.