Peter Camejo's Long Wave

[This thread was occasioned by a posting by L. Proyect]

I suppose one can choose to believe or not believe in the rise and fall, the rhythms, so to speak, of the world-economic system. But we should distinguish between people's beliefs about things, on the one hand, and structural, actual, and empirical realities on the other. Long waves and their nested business cycles are constellations of empirical phenomena generated by the structure and actualities of capitalist accumulation. As such, these empirical phenomena are in need of theoretical explanation. Marx, to my mind, provides the best explanatory model for understanding these phenomena. Other people present different models. But the movements themselves are a matter of fact. Therefore, long waves, like business cycles, are not in the same ontological class as astrology, or even a step above astrology, since long waves deal with observable empirical phenomena, whereas astrology does not. The distinction is qualitative.

On the subject of Camejo considering this entirely new element, namely the amount of labor time that qualifies an individual for a position, I hope that this statement was made by either Camejo or his interpreters in a moment of sarcasm, because Camejo is nowhere near the first person who has considered such matters.

One of the things that remains unresolved is whether the present phase is a business-cyclical upturn amid the B-phase of the post-world war two long-wave, or whether the world-economy has embarked upon the A-phase of a new long-wave. This determination is more problematic given that the break after the 1967-73 period appears to be, at some levels, a qualitative transformation, one marked by the emergence of the global economy, where the capitalist world-economy loses its hyphen. This is not only a theoretical matter, but important for thinking about the organization of the left. If it is the former, then the time to organize is short, since the business cycle, hype aside, is sure too give out soon. And certainly the downfall will be dramatic. If it is the latter, then there is considerable time to organize, since capitalism will be in no danger of collapse for at least another 40-50 years; and the structure of the world will be considerably different from what we know today, and so organizing the left, as well.

Andy Austin