“Karl Marx, the fount of most modern socialist theories, believed that the capitalist social system, which presupposes limited consumption by the workers and the great masses of the people in general, was finally responsible for crises. He formulated this view by declaring that the disposal of commodities under capitalism was limited by “consumption power on the basis of antagonistic conditions of distribution which reduce the consumption of the great masses of society to a minimum variable only between more or less narrowly drawn limits” (1). Thus, according to Marx, crises are due to the fact that capitalism must continually increase and extend its production, while at the same time the consumption of the broad masses of the common people cannot increase commensurately, being kept within certain narrow limits by the class stratification of capitalist society. Up to a point, and with a certain justification, we can say that according to Marx and the socialist theory, the cause of crises lies in under-consumption by the masses of the people, and that this cause cannot be obviated within the framework of capitalist society. However, the actual process by which this under-consumption by the masses expresses itself in recurrent crises is very complicated. Capitalist society produces not only what are known as consumption goods, but also what are known as production goods. The more developed the capitalist system of production, the greater is the proportion of production goods in the total, and this is true both absolutely and relatively. There is no difficulty in disposing of those consumption goods which the workers can buy with their wages, and similarly, there is no difficulty in disposing of those consumption goods which the capitalists themselves need personally. At first there is also no difficulty in disposing of production goods which have been made to expand production, i.e. machinery and the like, for at least in the beginning, the capitalists themselves create a market for them. Now at the same time as the market for these production goods is expanded so also is the market for consumption goods, because more workers are required for this expansion of production and their wages swell the sale consumption goods. Therefore as long as the period of expansion continues the whole problem of markets is solved. But only for so long, and sooner of later comes a day, or rather a year, when the building of new factories is completed and the process of expanding the productive apparatus is more or less at an end. The workers engaged in the building of new factories and enlarging old ones are then dismissed. They are paid no more wages, and they are no longer in a position to purchase consumption goods, or, at least, not to the same extent as formerly, and to that extent the consumption of society and the demand for consumption goods decrease. However, while consumption is decreasing the production of consumption goods continues to increase, owing to the preceding expansion of productive capacity. The result is crisis” [Fritz Sternberg, ‘The Coming Crisis’, London, 1947] [(1) Karl Marx, Das Kapital, Vol. III, Chapter 15, p. 226, Hamburg, 1894]

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