There are some fundamental questions that must be answered if we want to fully understand capitalism, in the various forms that it has been taking in the present phase of its planet-wide expansion: How is the work process organized? How do markets work? What determines the share that goes to profits and the share that goes to wages? What is the role of technology? Why some workers earn more than others? What is a crisis, and when does it takes a structural rather than conjunctural character? What is the connection between the financial crisis and the general economic crisis, and when and how does this last take the character of a systemic crisis? Is it possible to overcome a structural crisis by means of Keynesian policies? What does the passage from the Keynesism of the social state to private, entrepreneurial and military Keynesism means? The answers to the above questions largely depend upon the type of theory we use to interpret economic reality. We have chosen the standpoint of Marx’s critique of political economy. Marxian theory, and then Marxism, does not have the typical characteristics of the so-called “bourgeois sciences”. Marxism interprets the laws of the natural, social and economic sciences as aspects of concrete reality, almost always quite independent from the will of single individuals. Historical facts depend on sets of interconnections, the power relationships between classes and the modalities of the capital – labour conflict in each given historical period. The profound transformation that the planet has undergone with the so-called globalization of the economic and social processes which characterizes the present imperialist phase of global competition has shown with clarity the limits of many theoretical paradigms. Every economic theory is the outcome of the period in which it was created, and theories that are lucky enough to be dominant are constantly struggling with new approaches. The scope and aim of this book (which is a compendium of “Trattato di Economia Applicata”, Jaca Book, 2007, by the same author) is delimited in time and space. It is not a work in “pure economics”, but rather a guide to the understanding of the present phase of planet-wise expansion of the social production and reproduction of the capitalist form, and to its structural and systemic crisis. We refer to the theory of the capitalist mode of production as a process. In this sense this is a work of applied economics, although not in the reductive academic meaning of applying economics to, say, the environment, engineering, sociology and so on. To produce an applied economics in our sense we need Marx’s toolkit. Following Marx’s own procedure, we must first appropriate the tools of political economy, in order to then criticize them; this leads us to produce, with a scientific approach, a complex theory that is capable to go beyond political economy and, as a consequence, beyond the capitalist mode of production itself.
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