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Extra resources for Capitalism in Crisis: Inflation and the State

Example text

This new theory of value stated simply that value only had one dimension. Commodities no longer had both a value in use and a value in exchange. Their value was only the subjective valuation which individuals placed upon them - the degree of utility they possessed for each individual. Markets were composed of economic agents acting independently, pursuing the greatest possible 'utility' by maximising their returns and minimising their costs. No essential difference existed between buyers and sellers, producers and consumers.

The economic and political options that are presented by those who wish to maintain class rule boil down to a choice between wage restraint and unemployment. ' 40 But the alternative - dismantling the state sector - would mean, in present circumstances, mass unemployment and a prolonged slump. Our argument so far may be briefly summarised. Since 1968 the performance of the western economy has been deteriorating. The most obvious sign of this deterioration is accelerating inflation. The creeping inflation of the 1950s and 1960s has been replaced by rates of inflation much closer to Latin American experience.

The phenomena of crisis lie, however, outside the scope of their science. 4 Strachey's socialist judgement was shared by the liberal Keynes. Economics had nothing fundamental to say about the slump because, according to its own model of how the economy worked, the slump could not happen. There were automatic forces at work in the economy that always brought the economy back to full-employment equilibrium and Pareto's optimum. Even Pareto, however, seemed to lose faith in the power of capitalism to restore his optimum and maintain public order.

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