Monopoly Capital Theory: Hilferding and Twentieth-Century Capitalism

Monopoly Capital Theory: Hilferding and Twentieth-Century Capitalism

Monopoly Capital Theory: Hilferding and Twentieth-Century Capitalism

Monopoly Capital Theory: Hilferding and Twentieth-Century Capitalism

Synopsis

The theories of finance capital, as developed by Rudolf Hilferding, and monopoly capital form the underlying concepts in current explanations of how capitalism works today. This book presents a critical examination of these theories by focusing on the concepts of competition, credit, and economic crises. Zoninsein accepts Hilferding's central elements, but seeks to refine and reinterpret the concepts and procedures in light of the current changes in economic thought and social life. Particular attention is paid to the sharp contrasts that are exhibited between Hilferding's work and the economic theories of Marx.

Excerpt

The publication of this book coincides with sweeping changes in the international economy and national economic policies of the majority of the countries worlwide. Competition is intense to the point of destroying some socialist regimes of production and simultaneously paralyzing policy-making in many other capitalist economies. In the first case, socialist states were engulfed by an unforeseen level of "commoditization" of social life from abroad that eroded their extremely bureaucratic structures. In the second, the cost of trade openness and capital transfers has progressively exhausted the financial vigor of their governments.

These changes in the social organization of production serve to demonstrate the uselessness of the concept of monopoly capital for a scientific understanding of capitalist accumulation in the twentieth century. Competition as well as exploitation of free labor constitute the social mode of existence of capital. Monopoly capital as a concept, however, provides the illusion that nation- states can be governed by small groups of individuals according to their political agendas, be they conservative or reformist. In the latter case, monopoly capital, if appropriately tamed, appears as an instrument for those who hope that a capitalist society without serious economic and social inequalities can exist.

In many socialist countries, on the other hand, monopoly capital provided the conceptual basis for an economy administered from above, built upon an inherited economic . . .

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