Science and Society 58 (2):175 - 194 (1994)

In the work of Marx, a "general theory of economic crises" cannot be found. This fact contributed to the formulation of different and generally contradicting "Marxist" crisis theories. Critical presentation of the dispute among the three major historic Marxist approaches to economic crises — the underconsumptionist approach, the theory of capital overaccumulation and the tendentially falling profit rate — leads us to advocate a version of the overaccumulation approach, which can be described as capital overaccumulation under the action of "absent causes." This approach conceives economic crisis as capital overaccumulation, which is not the result of a single, systematically acting cause; crisis is seen instead as the (periodically outbreaking) outcome of capitalist development — of the total contradictions that characterize capitalism.
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