The MIM Debate Reply

Maoist Internationalist Movement mim3 at
Wed Oct 11 21:06:47 MDT 1995

On Wed, 11 Oct 1995, Chris Burford wrote:

>  > Pat for MIM replies: "Slightly"? "Slightly higher relative wages"?
>  > Sri Lankan manufacturing wages are 4% of the same in the United Snakes.
>  > The minimum wage in Mexico is $3--a DAY.
> The problems here need to be untangled.
> There is a vast difference in the use values available to a worker in Sri 
> Lanka and a worker in the USA.
> A separate question is whether there is unequal exchange of *exchange* value
> between the two countries.
> In the seventies there was a long failure of communication between Third 
> World marxists on this point and First World marxists. Even when some of 
> the heat and dust of the exchanges between Pat, Louis and others settle,
> this major problems of theory and communication IMO remains.

Pat for MIM replies: You are correct about that failure in 
communications. It boiled down to semantics and agendas.
For those honest enough to keep the eye on surplus-labor,
it was clear enough.

We have to realize that what Marx is most famous for is
a description scientifically-speaking of the advanced capitalist
society where free wage-labor existed. His main work on
exchange-value and markets for labor-power apply to that situation.

In the case of today's multinational corporations and
imperialist-backed comprador governments, we need to look
at unfree labor first off in the Third World. Economists are
often great theorists once radicalized, but they need to
read some Chomsky on the U.S. foreign policy as an example
of reality in the marketplace and then return to apply that
to their theorizing.

Negotiations done by comprador regimes or within
multinational corporate operations can't be taken
seriously, even given that Marx subjected regular exchange
relations to critique. For this reason, and I think
Doug Henwood has quietly admitted this, one has a 
difficult job in following the labor, and one cannot
divide by the number of hours worked by just imperialist
country workers when one does a value-added calculation
or a GNP per worker calculation. The actual prices
of material from the Third World will reflect accounting
conveniences of the multinational corporation and will
not fulfill the minimum requirements of exchange that
Marx took seriously in the most famous parts of Capital.

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