Back To The Future, And So Over and Over Again

A dejected worker at the closure of the Delorean factory, which saw 2,000 job losses
A dejected worker at the closure of the Delorean factory, which saw 2,000 job losses

In a day dominated by references to Back to the Future, this point on boom-bust-boom economics seems pertinent.  I’ve noticed Enda Kenny and others keep saying – in all seriousness – that there will be no return to boom and bust.  I have heard Barack Obama say similar things.  This implies that continuous and steady economic growth is possible, as far as they are concerned – whether they are consciously lying or economically naive is uncertain.  But capitalism without crisis and chaos is an oxymoron.  This paragraph about the boom-bust nature of capitalism could have been written yesterday:

‘…the whole industrial and commercial world, production and exchange among all civilized peoples and their more or less barbaric hangers-on, are thrown out of joint about once every 10 years. Commerce is at a stand-still, the markets are glutted, products accumulate, as multitudinous as they are unsaleable, hard cash disappears, credit vanishes, factories are closed, the mass of the workers are in want of the means of subsistence, because they have produced too much of the means of subsistence; bankruptcy follows upon bankruptcy, execution upon execution. The stagnation lasts for years; productive forces and products are wasted and destroyed wholesale, until the accumulated mass of commodities finally filter off, more or less depreciated in value, until production and exchange gradually begin to move again. Little by little, the pace quickens. It becomes a trot. The industrial trot breaks into a canter, the canter in turn grows into the headlong gallop of a perfect steeplechase of industry, commercial credit, and speculation, which finally, after breakneck leaps, ends where it began — in the ditch of a crisis. And so over and over again.’ Friedrich Engels – 1877

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