RE economic globalisation

wdrb at siva.bris.ac.uk wdrb at siva.bris.ac.uk
Thu Aug 17 17:35:07 MDT 1995


Paul Cockshott wrote recently in response to questions
 from Rakesh about Finance Capital and its significance in
 the world economic system. The questionsfrom Rakesh
 were promtpted by a discussion of the current nature of the
 world  economy and whether Lenins Imperealism.... provided
 an adequate description of the contemporary international geo-politics.

While I think much of what Paul says is important I have deep doubts about
 significant parts of his arguement.

Paul:
<Rather than speak primarily in terms of finance capital, I tend
 to see things in terms of the formation of a
 distinct class of rentiers and pseudo rentiers.
 I see the power of the banks as the concentrated form of rentier
class interest>

Will:

Paul cites Elizabeth Windsor as a rentier. She
has assets of billions sterling. But these are
not held specifically as bank deposits
or as the shares of financial institutions
such as banks. Her capital will be invested
across a broad range of capitalist enterprises.
The trusts through which she invests will
distribute her capital with companies that
they expect to make profits. Part of those
profits will be reinvested if the company
considers this will yield future profits.
Elizabeth W as a major shareholder
will support this since it will ensure
the value of her property (a part of the company)
and will ensure a future income stream.

I cannot see where there is a clash
of interests between the top management
of the company and the shareholders.
They both want the company to make profits
and the value of the company to increase.

Paul:
<But the global markets are as deliberate
a political creation as social planning ever was>

Will:
Part of Marxs account of capitalism that
I find most compelling is the idea that
it is a system out of any conscious over-
all control...that uncontrolled internal
forces drive it. I see the global markets
as stemming from the rise of global
companies being driven by capitalist
competition to realise economies of scale
and to concentrate. Sure, politics is involved,
but the driving forces are in the nature
of capitalism. The retreat into national
protectionism in the 30s which led
to a fall in international trade of 2/3rds
is the spectre that haunts capital.

Paul:

< In 20th century capitalism there was increasing
seperation between ownership and
control of capital>

Will:
Sure, but both are still linked by the drive to
maximise profits and accumulate capital.
And I have trouble with your time scales:
I see sharp changes between the periods
1945-1970 and 1976-1995. Your alledged
increasing seperation started in 1880 and
developed steadily from then. It was
largely complete by 1960. It doesnt
explain to me the shift from 1960
to 1985.

What your post doesnt address is the
structural change in the world economy
where in many industrial sectors
production is dominated by a small
number of firms that produce and
sell across the globe and whose
share capital is owned by capitalists
from many countries and is traded
internationally. This seems to me to
be an unprecedented development
entirely at odds with the world
as described by Lenin.

Rather than trying to ressurect
the power of the nation state by
finding divisions between sections
of capital,  (an difficult project
since the working class does not
control economic relations
in capitalism), we should be
seeking to build international
links amongst the working
class. I believe that the
structure of the world economy
now gives such links a potential
material basis for the first time.

Will Brown


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