Episode 53: Henryk Grossmann’s Breakdown Model

Brendan interviews Andrew about his recent article in With Sober Senses,“Henryk Grossmann’s Breakdown Model: On the Real Cause of the Fictitious Breakdown Tendency.” Grossmann, a Marxist theorist, wrote a 1929 book containing this model of capitalism’s supposed breakdown and a theory of economic crisis based on the model. Andrew argues that the model and the theory continue to be influential among fatalists. The co-hosts discuss the political dangers of a fatalist outlook.

Much of the interview focuses on flaws in the breakdown model that Andrew says are fatal and irreparable. First, Grossmann characterizes capitalism’s alleged tendency to break down as a problem of “not enough surplus-value,” but the real cause of breakdown––in the model––is that supply of physical output falls short of productive demand in physical terms. This is the very
opposite of what occurs in actual economic downturns. Second, the breakdown model assumes
that circulating constant capital permanently grows faster than the new value added by workers’
labor. Andrew argues that this assumption contradicts Marx’s value theory and that, when
circulating constant capital is valued in accordance with Marx’s theory, the alleged moment of
breakdown simply vanishes––instead of merely being postponed, as Grossmann argued.

Current-events segment: “Zuck you!” Brendan and Andrew discuss Frances Haugen’s bombshell
incrimination of Facebook.

Radio Free Humanity is a podcast covering news, politics and philosophy from a Marxist-
Humanist perspective. It is co-hosted by Brendan Cooney and Andrew Kliman. We intend to
release new episodes every two weeks. Radio Free Humanity is sponsored by MHI, but the
views expressed by the co-hosts and guests of Radio Free Humanity are their own. They do not
necessarily reflect the views and positions of MHI.

We welcome and encourage listeners’ comments, posted on this episode’s page.

Please visit MHI’s online print publication, With Sober Senses, for further news, commentary, and analysis.

Click here for more episodes.

October 16, 2021

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