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The general and the specific in Marx’s theory of crisis

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Chapter Summary

Whatever its nature, a barrier to capital is necessarily manifested in a decline in the rate of self-expansion of capital, that is, in the rate of profit. To say, then, that capital tends to face barriers to its growth is to say that capital tends to face a falling rate of profit (FROP). Unfortunately, the very FROP argument has been a barrier to the understanding of barriers to capital and, thus, a barrier to analysis of individual concrete crises. Despite the distinction drawn between the two categories of barrier to which capital is subject, it is important to note some common elements. The existence of both barriers those specific to capital and those not specific to capital is not a chance or contingent characteristic. The failure to distinguish between specific and general barriers has meant that both have tended to disappear from theoretical view into an indeterminate void.

Keywords: falling rate of profit (FROP); general barriers; specific barriers; Theory of Crisis



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