Responses to the Capitalist Crisis: Reformist and Revolutionary Demands in the US “Great Recession”

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Abstract

The current economic crisis in the US has generated the greatest popular discontent
with the system and from that possible potential for radical change since World War II. This article
looks at the Marxist tradition for generating revolutionary demands, including the essential issue
of avoiding sterile revolutionary demands, and what distinguishes revolutionary demands from the
socially more common progressive reformist demands. It then considers this issue specifically in
the particular context of the US today of a working class that has been almost entirely demobilized
for three decades, and largely politically disarmed since World War II. It specifically considers an
important progressive set of economic demands that was issued early in the crisis, and compares
these with a few recently issued demands that come out of an analysis of the crisis by revolutionaries
who are seeking to begin to mobilize the working class to the project of transcending
capitalism. The article ends with some preliminary proposals for extending these latter demands,
in the approach of Marx, Engels and Lenin, more broadly to the current crisis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)262-289
Number of pages28
JournalWorld Review of Political Economy
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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Revolution
Recession
Reformist
Working Class
Second World War
Economics
Friedrich Engels
Lenin
Karl Marx
Economic Crisis

Keywords

  • revolutionary demands
  • reformist demands
  • response to current crisis
  • Marxism

Cite this

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title = "Responses to the Capitalist Crisis: Reformist and Revolutionary Demands in the US “Great Recession”",
abstract = "The current economic crisis in the US has generated the greatest popular discontentwith the system and from that possible potential for radical change since World War II. This articlelooks at the Marxist tradition for generating revolutionary demands, including the essential issueof avoiding sterile revolutionary demands, and what distinguishes revolutionary demands from thesocially more common progressive reformist demands. It then considers this issue specifically inthe particular context of the US today of a working class that has been almost entirely demobilizedfor three decades, and largely politically disarmed since World War II. It specifically considers animportant progressive set of economic demands that was issued early in the crisis, and comparesthese with a few recently issued demands that come out of an analysis of the crisis by revolutionarieswho are seeking to begin to mobilize the working class to the project of transcendingcapitalism. The article ends with some preliminary proposals for extending these latter demands,in the approach of Marx, Engels and Lenin, more broadly to the current crisis.",
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AB - The current economic crisis in the US has generated the greatest popular discontentwith the system and from that possible potential for radical change since World War II. This articlelooks at the Marxist tradition for generating revolutionary demands, including the essential issueof avoiding sterile revolutionary demands, and what distinguishes revolutionary demands from thesocially more common progressive reformist demands. It then considers this issue specifically inthe particular context of the US today of a working class that has been almost entirely demobilizedfor three decades, and largely politically disarmed since World War II. It specifically considers animportant progressive set of economic demands that was issued early in the crisis, and comparesthese with a few recently issued demands that come out of an analysis of the crisis by revolutionarieswho are seeking to begin to mobilize the working class to the project of transcendingcapitalism. The article ends with some preliminary proposals for extending these latter demands,in the approach of Marx, Engels and Lenin, more broadly to the current crisis.

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