ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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On Economic Crisis and Transition from Capitalism- A Marxian Approach

On Economic Crisis and Transition from Capitalism A Marxian Approach Paresh Chattopadhyay SURENDRA J PATEL's article Economic Crisis and the Transition from Capitalism' (EPW, March 29) is highly stimulating. With his usual clarity he has shown how the economic crisis which has been an integral part of capitalism has not meant an unmitigated evil for the world as a whole but, in fact, has been associated invariably with the spread of industrialisation far beyond its (original) sorting point. Particularly he has thrown interesting light on the linkage between this association and the emergence of what he calls the 'transitional economic formulations' between capitalism and socialism on a world scale. However, while appreciating the paper for all its qualities we would like to express our reservations on some crucial issues raised in the paper. They concern basically (a) Patel's categorisation of 'economic formation' and his characterisation of the 'transitional economic formation', (b) his treatment of 'socialism' particularly with reference to the USSR, (c) his approach to the question of 'economic crisis' in relation to what he considers to be the 'socialist countries'. In the discussion that follows we shall maintain the same order.1 Patel nowhere offers a precise meaning of the term 'economic formation' though it constitutes a central category of the paper. One thine, however, seems to be clear. From the way Patel uses it his 'economic formation', seemingly derived from Marx, seems to be quite different from the Marxian category of 'economic formation' (of soeeity) [Oeknomische Geseilschaftsformation).2 Patel's use of the terms seems to be completely class-neutral. That is, he seems to make complete abstraction of the specific situation of the immediate producers in relation to the conditions of production in the society in question. This is particularly clear in his distinction between 'capitalist' and 'intermediate' ('post-capitalist', 'pre- socialist') 'economic formations'. On the other hand we Know from Marx (and Engels) that it is the specific form of extraction of unpaid surplus labour from the immediate producers that distinguishes one 'economic formation' from another (when we are speaking of class societies). "Only the form in which this surplus labour is extorted (abgepresst wind) distinguishes one economic- social formation from another", writes Marx what is of crucial importance for characterising

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