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Re-reading Marx - New Perspectives after the Critical Edition

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Michael R. Krätke, Univ. of Amsterdam - Capitalism and its Crises. Is there a Theory of Crisis in Marx' Critique of Political Economy?

As the work on the new MEGA edition is making progress, more of Marx' writings on the phenomenon of crisis comes into view. As the evidence, including Marx' various articles on actual crisis events, written between 1856 and 1866 and his unfinished "books on crisis" of 1857/58, shows he was preoccupied with the industrial (or business) cycle and with the moment of crisis in particular while he was working on his great project, the systematic critique of political economy. According to his original plan, written down in different versions in 1858, a special book on crisis should provide the climax of his general theory of capitalism. Although he changed his plan many times during the 1860s, he never completely dropped the plan to write a full-scale theory of crisis. Even the most elaborated parts of Marx' Capital, volume I in its different versions (from 1867 until 1875), contain a variety of hints at many topics that should be dealt with in a theory of crisis. Apparently, there is not one, but there seem to be different sorts or versions of Marx' theory of crisis, emphasizing different combinations of factors in order to explain the causality of the regular reoccurence of greater and smaller crisis. If we put them in the context of Marx unfinished work in progress, and read the many manuscripts he wrote for book II and III of Capital as materials reflecting Marx' ongoing research process, the riddle of Marx' various crisis theories can be easily solved. As a matter of fact, Otto Bauer already anticipated this solution in an hitherto unpublished manuscript, dealing with the explanation of the Great Crisis of the 1930s that he wrote in 1935.