By Andrew Gamble
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Extra resources for Capitalism in Crisis: Inflation and the State
The alternative strategy still clings to the wage-push theory, which accepts, for practical purposes, the level of public expenditure and hence the size of the state sector as it exists at the moment, and therefore generally denies that this has anything to do with inflation. On the contrary, this theory assumes that, were the level of public expenditure cut, private investment would not expand, and slump 30 CAPITALISM IN CRISIS and depression would ensue. It therefore regards the level of public expenditure as necessary for prosperity and accumulation to continue.
The road to this earthly paradise lay through perfect competition, free markets, free trade, no state interference, and every· economic man maximising to his heart's content. As Professor Shackle has written: ECONOMICS AND THE EXPERTS 39 The forty years from 1870 saw the creation of a Great Theory or Grand System of Economics, in one sense complete and self-sufficient, able on its own terms to answer all questions which those terms allowed .... This Great Theory was ... the theory of general, perfectly competitive, full-employment stationary (or better, timeless) equilibrium ....
The dangers of the present situation are obvious, for there are now inflation rates in many of the capitalist countries which have shifted them from the 'normal' or 'equilibrium' band to the strata-inflation type. Intensified social conflict and social unrest will follow. The authors of the Cambridge study argue that inflation is endemic to the modern capitalist economy and that the exent to which inflation is controlled or controllable depends on 'the political capacity and wisdom of governments'.