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Understanding the Fundamentals of Capital, the Crisis and the Alternatives: Marx's Legacy Beyond Revolutionary Marxism


  • Gerard Strange


Research Highlights and Abstract

  • Critically engages with analyses of fundamental principles associated with capitalist crisis as differently presented in the theories of Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes.
  • Critiques the narrow labour-focused account of Marx's circuit theory of capital found in so-called ‘Open Marxism’.
  • Highlights the importance of Keynes’s treatment of money as an independent variable to the further development of circuit and crisis theories.
  • More generally opens up Marxian circuit and crisis theory to broader heterodox perspectives in political economy, especially critical Keynesian and Schumpeterian perspectives.
  • Seeks to apply a critical evaluation of crisis and circuit theories to the contemporary global financial crisis, not least by critiquing Peter Burnham's ‘depoliticisation’ account of the crisis of macro-economic management.
  • Argues instead that the politicized nature of money remains deeply embedded both nationally and internationally.

This article critically engages with Peter Burnham's recent call for a ‘return to fundamentals’ and specifically to Marx as a basis for understanding the global financial crisis (GFC) and its still unfolding aftermath. The article criticises Burnham's ‘Open Marxist’ account of Marx's capital theory and his reading of the crisis in terms of ‘depoliticisation’ and the reassertion of the law of value over the state. The article focuses on Schumpeterian and Keynesian theories of crisis and crisis management as derived from fundamentals. It argues that Keynes, in particular, offered a theory of crisis that, while consistent with Marx's circuit theory of capital, was also distinct in its focus on money. In short, Keynes politicised money and its management. How the current global crisis is ultimately resolved depends crucially on understanding both the limits and possibilities for the repoliticisation of money in the post-neoliberal era.