Economics

Productive labour?

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Having read Camilla Royle’s interview with Joseph Choonara in last month’s Socialist Review, I looked forward to reading his new Reader’s Guide to Marx’s Capital. I was not disappointed when I did and only wish it had been available when I tackled volume one of Marx’s world-changing work — on which Joseph’s guide focuses — some time ago.

If robots took our jobs, could they do them?

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The Science Museum’s major new Robots exhibition is hailed as the ‘greatest collection of humanoids ever assembled’, but it fails to take up the question everyone is asking: will a robot take my job? Joseph Choonara looks at the reality of automation under capitalism.

Robots are taking over. At least that is the impression given by the mainstream media. Headlines in recent weeks include: “Robots Could Replace 250,000 Public Sector Workers” (Independent), “Amazon To Open A Giant ROBOT-Run Supermarket Staffed By Just Three Humans” (Daily Mail) and “Give Robots ‘Personhood’ Status, EU Committee Argues” (Guardian).

Pushing the limits of Corbynomics

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The more radical elements of Corbyn and McDonnell's economic policies can challenge the logic of capitalism

The ire on the right and the applause on the left provoked by “Corbynomics” demonstrate that you can move a long way to the left by standing still. Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have long opposed the pro-market consensus among successive governments since Jim Callaghan adopted monetarism in the late 1970s. Compared with that consensus, their ideas are both radical and welcome.

Corbynomics: can it work?

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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell are championing economic policies that challenge the neoliberalism of the past four decades. Simon Guy argues that to make them work will require not just reforms in parliament, but workers' struggles from below.

‘What’s happening?’ Corbyn asked a young man with a ‘CORBYN OUT’ placard. ‘He’s refusing to give free gap years and iPhones to the under-25s’. ‘CORBYN OUT!’ Corbyn shouted. ‘DOWN WITH CORBYN! END THE CORBYN JUNTA NOW!’”

The Daily Telegraph’s depiction of a delusional, childish movement forever unsatisfied with so-called economic realities tries to distract from the key reason for Jeremy Corbyn’s rise — that he represents a popular break with austerity.

Instability and crisis in China

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Despite its meteoric growth rates, China may not be the economic juggernaut the Western media portrays. Jane Hardy uncovers the structural tensions and the workers' movements challenging the global superpower.

According to the International Monetary Fund the US has been knocked off top spot in the global economy and replaced by China. This further heightens the hype about China. But a recent book by Matthew Crabbe, Myth Busting China’s Numbers, is critical of some of the statistics. If you take spending power per head, for example, the picture is very different.

Chained to austerity

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Despite slashing public spending, the coalition's economic medicine has failed. Now the economy is taking another turn for the worse.

According to the Greek legend Prometheus, who angered the gods by stealing fire from them, was chained to a rock to have his liver eaten away by an eagle. Each night the liver would grow back so when dawn broke the torture might begin again. So too the budget deficit. No matter the savagery that chancellor George Osborne perpetrates, it is still there the morning after.

Euro banks fail the stress test

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Bankers were crowing at the end of October when it was revealed that “only” 25 Eurozone banks failed stress tests conducted by the European Central Bank (ECB).

The tests, which looked at how banks would cope with adverse economic conditions, highlighted particular problems for the troubled Italian economy, where nine banks failed, but gave the all clear to much of the sector across Europe.

There are, however, questions about the stringency of the tests, especially as earlier tests, in 2011, cleared banks in Belgium and Ireland months before they had to be bailed out.

Exploring Capital

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The current crisis of capitalism has coincided with a renewed interest in Marx's Capital. Socialist Review spoke to Alex Callinicos about his forthcoming book examining Marx's understanding of capitalism.


There's been a revival of interest and debate in Marx's Capital. Why do you think this is and why did you want to intervene in these debates with your new book?

The main reason is because of the radicalisation and resistance to neoliberalism that we've seen since the 1990s. Initially there were critiques of neoliberalism and capitalism on very diverse intellectual bases.

Why read Wage-Labour and Capital?

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Wage-Labour and Capital is online at http://bit.ly/187qEer

Karl Marx's pamphlet Wage Labour and Capital first appeared as a series of articles in Neue Rheinische Zeitung, the newspaper that Marx edited during the 1848-9 revolution that swept Germany and Europe.

The articles were based lectures that Marx had given to German workers in Brussels in 1847.

Marx's aim in the pamphlet is to set out and explain "the economic conditions which form the material basis of the present struggles between classes."

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