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A critical analysis of Marx's theory of crisis

O'Hara, Phillip (1978) A critical analysis of Marx's theory of crisis. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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The object of this study is to critically analyse Marx's theory of crisis. By taking a bibliographical approach, it tests the consistency and non-contradiction of the totality of Marx's published works of political economy dealing with crises. More particularly, the relation of the periodic and the terminal forms of crises are examined with special reference to their theoretical unity in Marx's writings.

Three major conclusions were made. First, central to an understanding of Marx's theory of crises is dialectical methodology, ontology and epistemology. The methodology is best appreciated within the framework of the separation of methods of inquiry and discourse. The ontology relates to the materialistic conception of history. And the epistemology shows that crises can best by investigated both as part of a totality (the mode) and as a component part of the development of discourse from the abstract to the concrete levels of analysis.

The second conclusion was that it is useful to differentiate between crises studied at the abstract, the concrete and the real levels. Apparently contradictory discourse was often seen to be consistent when viewed in this light; Marx's own theoretical development is more easily explained using this method.

Lastly, Marx devised a theory of periodic and terminal crises, both of which were related to a structure, the capitalist mode of production (although terminal crises were common to all finite modes). And although he examined the trade cycle in detail, he failed to show the long run relation between both forms of crises.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Inquiry
Supervisor(s): Thompson, Herb and Harman, Frank
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