CAPITAL - FAQ ??

Adam Bandt bandt at cleo.murdoch.edu.au
Thu Mar 9 02:50:27 MST 1995


Do we know as such about capital as we would like?

The discussions on these lists about contemporary economic changes and the
power of capital often seem to consist of a few people exchanging
well-informed views, some people making less-informed contributions, and
others saying nothing. Fortunately, the discussions amongst the
well-informed take place 'publicly', meaning that all members can follow
the contributions. Often, clear explanations of the issues are forthcoming.
However, these explanations are ad hoc, and often non-existent.

For example, Steven Breyman wrote recently:

>We appear not to be in the midst of a
>capital strike, though where we stand
>regarding capital flight is less clear.

I'm wondering if Steven or someone like Doug Henwood (or anyone else for
that matter) could
a) give a definition of capital strike, and
                                   ---more ambitiously---
b) give an brief outline of (or references to articles containing an
outline of) some of the major tactics available to capital 'today' (such as
disinvestment, flight etc) to exercise its power.

The 'today' suggests focussing the discussion on tactics which are not
simply manifestations of the basic appropriation of surplus (on which Marx
has already said a bit, I seem to recall), but are instead contemporary in
that they utilise technologies or forms of capital which allow power to be
exercised (over workers, states, policy making etc) in 'new' ways.

This would help not only to avoid the pop-rhetoric of 'globalisation' and
'information capitailsm' and 'end of sovereignty', which is often picked up
unconsciously by people on the left but which also often lacks any base in
marxist political economy, but would also update those of us who don't
engage in as much 'capital watching' as we perhaps should.

This *could* be a huge task, but judging from the relatively small number
of people who contribute to the discussions on the lists on these issues
(compared with the total number of subscribers), I feel it may be a useful
resource for members.

 It could be successful without being very big --- eg 15 key terms each
with 2-3 para definitions --- but it could also become a 'competing
theories of international capital' debate.  Ideally, the latter could
inform - but not become - the former. I'm not suggesting that we can find a
core of 'true' definitions upon which everyone will agree, but I am a big
believer in giving people 'basics' with which to start, provided these
'basics' don't attempt to be exhaustive. (Maybe we would want to include
the 'classic' issues of appropriation of surplus, lengthening working days,
reserve armies of labour, union busting etc??)

Maybe this project is unviable or not a good use of energies, maybe
'capital watching' is not the right issue, and maybe it is better to
continue just asking questions in an ad hoc manner. However maybe it is
sufficiently important to go beyond simplistic (left and right-wing)
analyses of, say, multi-national corporations or capital's power to shift
countries overnight, to begin to put together an electronic
INTERNATIONAL/GLOBAL/CONTEMPORARY CAPITAL -- FAQ.

I'll throw this open to discussion. Do people think this is a good idea?
Does it already exist? Is anyone willing to start?




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