Summary please?

Doug Henwood dhenwood at
Sat Sep 30 18:51:08 MDT 1995

I've excerpted bits from the MIM below, but put them at the end in order to
assure the truth - i.e. my part - was at the top.

MIM argues that First World (FW) workers, esp US workers it seems, are not
exploited. Conventional measures, like the wage share of value added (which
is what I usually use, though MIM says I was using GDP/worker), miss the
contribution of the living and dead labor (not to mention dead bodies) of
Third World (TW) workers - and TW nature in the form of raw materials. I
would never deny this.

How should we value this contribution? No doubt it's quite large; a great
deal of the US's very physical existence is owed to the labor of stolen
Africans. But knowledge production and the manufacture of advanced capital
goods are almost entirely FW activities. TW workers have had little part in
this, though it's certainly changing drastically (software production in
India; Korean capital goods). A great deal of value creation happens in the
FW with the TW utterly peripheral. Isn't that one of the basic causes of

This is the first time I've ever been paired with Gus Hall; it hurts almost
as much as being paired by Alex Cockburn with Anthony Lewis as a member of
the "liberal establishment." I just don't understand this:

>Show us the property accumulated in capitalist hands. If
>Gus Hall or Doug Henwood were correct, we would expect to see
>capitalists accumulate over $3 trillion in assets every year,
>given an economy of about $5 trillion.

GDP was $7.02 trillion in 1995Q2; nonresidential fixed investment, one take
on accumulation, was $779.8 billion, 11.1% of the total. (That's not
adjusted for depreciation.) For some other takes on accumulation, we can
look at the Fed's flow of funds stats. Those report that between 1992 and
1993, what the Fed calls "domestic wealth" - all tangible capital assets
(including consumer durables and owned housing, rose from $18.4 billion to
$19.0 billion, or 3.2%. The Fed's broadest definition of financial assets
("total identified as assets") rose 7.1% between 1992 and 1993 (to $41.8
trillion). Where do you get an accumulation rate of 60%?



Doug Henwood
[dhenwood at]
Left Business Observer
250 W 85 St
New York NY 10024-3217
+1-212-874-4020 voice
+1-212-874-3137 fax


At 9:30 PM 9/29/95, Maoist Internationalist Movement wrote:

>2. In the course of discussion, MIM's second thesis arose:
>especially in view of any internationalist standards whatsoever,
>the imperialist country working classes are not exploited.
>That means something about the value of their labor-power.
>This thesis is somewhat apart from the first thesis which
>deals with what line of "work" imperialist country workers
>are involved in. Thesis #2 is about appropriating other
>people's labor if only in relatively small amounts on a per
>capita basis compared with capitalists.
>One critic--Doug Henwood--asserted in another forum that thesis #2
>is wrong. As we have rebutted him in MT#1, Henwood simply assumed
>that which must be proved in this debate, by dividing
>GNP expressed in dollar terms by the hours worked
>--but only hours worked by Amerikan workers--to prove the
>exploitation of Amerikan workers. In such a case if you accept
>that the GNP in its totality is the dead labor of just
>workers within U.S. borders, of course it's impossible for
>a thesis like MIM's to be held simultaneously. However, if
>Marx taught anybody anything, it was to keep your eye on the
>labor, and its appropriation. Taking GNP and dividing by hours
>worked by Amerikan workers is a surrender to the mystification
>of exchange-value. GNP figures from the government
>will never tell you where the labor going into the GNP was done.
>Doug Henwood is not alone in doing this calculation with
>reactionary nationalist assumptions. We have seen famous social-
>democrats do it, phony Marxists do it and even self-proclaimed
>Maoists do it.
>MIM typically offers up a few ways of disproving its thesis #2:
>a) Show us the profits produced by the exploitation of Amerikan
>workers; we contend that they are too small to be accounted for
>by anything but the labor of oppressed nations. This has
>obvious implications for our socialist program upon
>seizing power. "30 for 40" in Amerika is not our first agenda item;
>reparations to the oppressed nations is our first agenda item.
>b) Show us the property accumulated in capitalist hands. If
>Gus Hall or Doug Henwood were correct, we would expect to see
>capitalists accumulate over $3 trillion in assets every year,
>given an economy of about $5 trillion.
>If labor is being wasted, what class is wasting it? Who is
>getting those jobs in the Pentagon? Where are the premier
>advertising, law, insurance and prison industries located
>--in the oppressed countries or the imperialist countries?
>Who gets those jobs?

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