Ken Kawashima

Sidney Smith Hall, Room SS5017A | 100 St. George Street, Toronto, ON, M5S 3G3 (map)

The Epicenter of Capitalist Crisis: Towards a Revolutionary Common Sense


Why is Marx’s analysis of capitalist crisis important to us today? Not only does it give us a clear logic to grasp the collapse of capitalism even before the collapse takes place in practice; it also gives us a revolutionary common sense to grasp the phenomena of social precarity, state racism, and imperialist war and expansion. In rethinking the Marxist theory of crisis today, the centre of crisis must be redefined in terms of ‘excess capital alongside surplus populations’ and not simply in terms of falling rates of profit or over-production/under-consumption. Ultimately, the epicentre of crisis is found in the transformation of labour power into a commodity, the ‘secret’ behind the idea of the ‘self-abolition of the proletariat’.

Ken C. Kawashima is Associate Professor at the University of Toronto, Department of East Asian Studies, and is author of The Proletarian Gamble: Korean workers in interwar Japan (Duke UP, 2009), co-editor of Tosaka Jun: A Critical Reader (Cornell UP, 2013), and the English translator of Uno Kozo’s Theory of Crisis (forthcoming, Brill Publishers, 2020). He is currently writing a new book titled, Marxism for Late Developers: Teaching Capital in Precarious Times.

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