We have commented on this debate already (see the link below).
The continuation here at another blog can’t give the question a rest. This kind of defensive marxism from true believers is completely knee-jerk, and has probably done more harm to the communist left than an army of rightwing commentators.
The passage below shows how this works:
In other words, the law is central to Marx’s materialist conception of history. If it is believed that, in the long run, the rate of profit might just as easily rise as fall or that it will tend to oscillate forever around some average value, as Heinrich suggests, then the capitalist mode of production takes on the character of a permanent ongoing system. Instead, Marx’s law of the tendency for the rate of profit to fall over the long run most convincingly demonstrates the transient nature of capitalism.
The commentator says that the assertion about theory is linked to whether the capitalist system is permanent. Opponents of marxism must be chuckling at this point. From the mouths of Marx idiots the demonstration that capitalism is permanent is given way, directly from Marx…
This kind of thinking baffles me???? Are these ‘marxists’ secretly hoping to fail? I think that Henrich’s credibility is enough here to warn marxists not to indulge in dangerous nonsense as in the quote above. I certainly welcome debate here, what else can you say/do. But at this point a close scholar such as Heinrich should be a warning something is wrong. It has been obvious to me for a long time that Marx’s main ‘theory’ is not really viable. Therefore predictions based on it are not going to be rigorous, and certanly won’t convince non-marxists. The solution is to think in terms of tendencies and probabilities. You have no other choicein economics: there is no real theory anywhere, and Marx is no exception. The whole of marginalist economics is based on a set of mathematical equations that are taken from physics. They don’t really apply to human aggregates where the simple decision ‘I will refute’ this law/equation is enough to disprove it. Reflect on the point. You don’t need Marx’s theory. You don’t. That theory is in the way of change.
To peg the permanence of capitalism on a generalization as weak as the rate of profit and its mechanics is madness. The issue here is that capitalism is a human creation, and can be dismantled on ethical/economic/historical/cultural grounds. We don’t need at ‘materialist theory’ to derive anything. Please, wake up here. By the assertion above we will be fumbling for our keys forever. It is all bullshit.
This is why I have suggested junking ‘historical materialism’. It is confusing people. Capitalists must be laughing their asses off: Now we can use Marx’s theory to show capitalism must be permanent???