Video: Anwar Shaikh on Marx and the Global Economic Crisis

Posted June 9, 2009

Anwar Shaikh, Professor at the New School for Social Research, gives a Marxist account of historic fluctuations in the capitalist economy and how the current crisis fits in the overall picture. From the Marx and the Global Economic Crisis panel at Left Forum 2009, New York.

Shaikh’s homepage, which includes an extensive selection of his articles on economics, can be found here:


3 responses to “Video: Anwar Shaikh on Marx and the Global Economic Crisis”

  1. J. Santucci Avatar
    J. Santucci

    I don’t know if anyone keeps up with these comment boards, but here’s a question out of the text of Capital, Vol. 1 (Penguin Classics) –

    On page 786, footnote, Engels adds a section Marx included in the French edition in which Marx discusses the length of the periods between crises. He says

    But only after mechanical industry had struck root so deeply that it exerted a preponderant influence on the whole of national production; only after foreign trade began to predominate over internal trade, thanks to mechanical industry; only after the world market had successively annexed extensive areas of the New World, Asia, and Australia; and finally, only after a sufficient number of industrial nations had entered the arena — only after all this had happened can one date the repeated self-perpetuating cycles, whose successive phases embrace years, and always culminate in a general crisis, which is the end of one cycle and the beginning of another. Until now the duration of these cycles has been ten or eleven years, but there is no reason to consider this duration as constant. On the contrary, we ought to conclude, on the basis of the laws of capitalist production as we have just expounded them, that the duration is variable, and that the length of the cycles will gradually diminish.

    The data presented in this video doesn’t suggest that the period was ever in the vicinity of “ten or eleven years,” nor does the period appear to be diminishing.

    The question is three-fold:
    First, at what data was Marx looking that suggested that the period of crises was ten or eleven years?
    Second, what suggested to him that the period should accelerate? (I know this is tied into the laws of accumulation, but I can’t figure out how.)
    Third, why has the period, if it did indeed start where he suggested, lengthened rather than diminished?

    My guess is that the growth of the capitalist class over time allowed them to hedge better against cycles and moderate their experience of the effects, ensuring that the only crises that can get to them are the more substantial ones. Since bourgeois history wouldn’t even register the “non-severe crises” thanks to the insulation, the period of crises in general appears no different from the period of “severe crises.” Wouldn’t have any data to back that up though, of course. Any input?



  2. Anonymous Avatar

    Prof. Shaikh mentioned “tomorrow’s lecture.” Was this and/or subsequent lectures recorded? If so, will they be posted? This one was great!

  3. Carlos Avatar

    Dear comrades:

    I’m part of a marxist study group in Chile (called, “Grupo de Estudios Marxistas” – GEM), and a few days ago we saw Anwar Shaikh`s lecture about economic crisis, from the Marx and the Global Economic Crisis panel at Left Forum.

    Well, we are looking forward to translate it in to spanish, and we`ve been translating what we could, but we’ve got some problems with some of the terms of the discipline’s language -in english-. We would be very glad if you could help us with this.

    Revolutionary greetings,

    – Carlos.

    PS. You can write us in