Karl Radek/dependency

jones/bhandari djones at uclink.berkeley.edu
Fri Apr 7 17:34:12 MDT 1995


After a fabulous anecdote about Karl Radek, Tom C wrote:

>Now that we've settled that, I've never undertstood dependency
>theory.  How does it relate to the fact that the bulk of world
>trade consists of Department I transfers between industrialized
>countries, much of it intra-firm transfers, hmmm?

That some dependency theorists may explain imperialism as a perennial
struggle for the control of markets, especially for consmuer goods--which
does not seem to square too well with Tom's fact--does not mean of course
that there are no other theories of imperialism, theories moreover which
may be  specific to a period in which the falling rate of profit begins to
dominate over its countertendencies.

We can speak here of

the control over cheap raw materials as a countertendency to falling
profitablity, as well as a source of tribute from rival imperialists--in
TSV,  Marx noted Ricardo had no idea of the importance of raw materials,
focused as he was on the effect of wages on profits (this countertendency
may not be as important as when Grossmann explained it in 1929);

the survival of certain capitals at the expense of others through  (what
Guglielmo Carchedi has described as)  the transfer of value in the exchange
process (from low OCC branches to high ones; from less productive capitals
within one branch to more productive ones; and from stagnant branches to
productive ones--conceivable if we do not treat the equalization of profit
rates as an actual center of gravity, but only an ideal);

 and the export of capital, which insufficient for accumulation at home and
thus surplus, seeks an outlet, even if there is no chance of the principal
ever being paid off.

Perhaps this export of capital idea does not square too well with the fact
that, along with most world trade being among imperialists, most capital is
exported among rival imperialists.

I would be interested in what explanations then people can offer for what
has been called the third world debt holocaust.  I have picked up but not
yet read The Poverty of Nations: A guide to the debt crisis from Argentina
to Zaire, ed. Elmar Altvater.  Has anyone read it?

Rakesh




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