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The End of Capitalism: The Thought of Henryk Grossman
Sun, April 24, 2022 @ 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM$3.00 – $11.00
A presentation and discussion with author Ted Reese
From the Introduction
Henryk Grossman is a name most socialists or students of political and social theory, let alone the mass of working people around the world, have probably never heard of. Yet Grossman, a Polish Jew born in 1881, deserves recognition as the most sophisticated proponent since Karl Marx of a devastating claim about the nature of our social world. For, if Grossman’s neglected but brilliant insight into economics is correct, then capitalism – the social system that has dominated life all over the globe for the past few centuries – may well be entering what he called its ‘final breakdown’.
The claim that capitalism is unsustainable has been ridiculed since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Capitalists declared ‘the end of history’ – their system had proven to be the stronger and would go on uncontested until the heat death of the universe. The same view dominated after the 1883 death of Marx, whose three-volume masterpiece Capital exposed capitalism as a crisis-ridden and historically transient economic system (mode of production).
For the next half century even Marx’s self-proclaimed successors either declared capitalism to be crisis-free and inexhaustible, or formulated flawed theories of crisis and collapse that did not support their own claims. Against the grain, Grossman dedicated himself to restoring the basis of scientific socialism. In 1929 he illuminated Marx’s insights with a rare clarity and wit in his own great work, The Law of Accumulation and Breakdown of the Capitalist System, published in 1929.
The book received an almost universally hostile reception. Attacked by both reformist social democrats and revolutionary communists, Grossman stood accused of promoting a ‘mechanical’ or ‘automatic’ theory of socialism’s ‘inevitable’ victory over capitalism that underplayed the importance of class struggle.
TED REESE is a British Marxist in the tradition of Henryk Grossman. In Reese’s first book, Socialism or Extinction: Climate, Automation and War in the Final Capitalist Breakdown (2019) he argues: that capitalism is the cause of and can only continue to accelerate the existential climate crisis; that socialism and a plant-based (mainly hemp and mycelium) industrial revolution are required to save the planet’s habitability; that automation is abolishing the source of profit; and that the descent into negative interest rates indicates that capitalism is now entering its final crisis, meaning that socialism is becoming an economic necessity for the first time – but that the crisis also threatens the greatest world war to date between the imperialist powers.