In his article entitled 'Long Economic Cycles', Kondratiev argued that, in addition to the normal trade cycle of capitalism of between seven and eleven years, there existed longer cycles, the average duration of which was fifty years. He concluded that the capitalist system passes through "long waves", in which each downswing is followed by an upswing which can last for decades. It is this latter assertion that was rebutted by Trotsky. And though it has regularly made its reappearance, enjoying a temporarily fashionable status, it has no solid basis either in fact or in theory. In this article, originally published in 2000, Alan Woods explains why.
In the year 2000 we published this article by Leon Trotsky on capitalist development. The purpose then was to underline the fact that although capitalism was experiencing a boom, the period we had entered was actually one of overall capitalist decline. As we explained in the introduction “Rather than a new upswing, capitalism is heading for a new slump and a downward curve of development similar to the interwar period.” This was confirmed by the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent events. We are republishing it as an aid to understanding the period we have been through and where we are going.
Ben Curry (writer for Socialist Appeal in Britain) reviews Peter Hadden’s book on the history of the class struggle in Ireland, and asks: how should Marxists approach the national question?