Henwood comes up with another myth of the white proletariat

Maoist Internationalist Movement mim3 at blythe.org
Fri Aug 23 13:31:40 MDT 1996


[Henwood says]
At 1:06 PM 8/23/96, Maoist Internationalist Movement wrote:

>Are you
>aware that often published Monthly Review author Samir Amin says that 20%
>of the Third World GNP is sent to the imperialist countries as surplus?

Hmm. Let's assume he's right, a reasonable assumption, since Amin is a
smart guy with good politics. The so-called Third World accounts for about
20% of global product. 20% of that is about 4% of global product. Do the
relevant math and you find that that transfer equals a bit over 5% of First
World product, meaning that 95% of First World product is internally
generated. While the transfer is criminal and exploitative, the numbers are
very damaging to the MIM line about the Third World being the prime source
of the First's wealth.

MIM replies: There's a small problem for your quick
accounting--aside from the facts. It's called time a.k.a. history.

Without making any Monthly Reviewesque arguments
what you are leaving out is the power of compounding.
Even 5 percent of the product going back hundreds of years
adds up. In fact it makes all the difference between those who
work to subsist and those who produce to generate surplus-value.

Two countries both starting at the same level, but one gathering
a surplus each year and one starving five percent of its population to
death each year end up in very different places over a period of
a few decades. And such would not be far off in the case
of the indigenous peoples and the Africans. In actual historical
fact, slavery  took out a large chunk of the population earlier on.

Now if we allow for two equal countries both of which have their
own internal surpluses of six percent above subsistence,
then the extraction of five percent of subsistence leaves
one society with 1% surplus to invest and the other 11%
to invest. Do I need to tell you what happens over mere
decades as a result when one country's economy grows eleven
times faster than another?

Now take another case. Two equal countries producing 8%
above subsistence enter into a colonial relationship
through the invention of gun powder.
Suddenly 20% of one country's product is taken to the other
country maybe partly through slavery.  One country is
now producing 12% below subsistence and the other is producing
28% above. The colonial relationship is now responsible
for 5 out 7 investment dollars in the mother country.

Now after a few centuries of that kind of thing, most
of the production really could be in a handful of core countries.
Hence, if we accept Henwood's inaccurate representation of the
world, we still have the same basic explanation:
Production is not the result of white labor efforts or
productivity in the imperialist countries.

We get to the point where 20% of one country's production
is only 5% of another country's production. However,
the reason for that is not the current input of labor
in the larger economy. The reason is the utilization of various kinds of
property--dead labor from the Third World.

With the exception of MIM, these kinds of calculations
are missing from all "Marxist-Leninist" parties in the
imperialist countries. That's not to mention the
more open social-democrats. They are all basically
telling bedtime stories about the great labor productivity of the
white worker in the imperialist countries. MIM believes
differently. Put the property stolen from them in
Third World workers' hands and they will be just as productive.
**********************************************

As soon as Burford gets done with illusions about Quispe
or gives up the Home Office paycheck, he should lead a study
group on Unequal Exchange but with the proviso that no
one will be allowed to use the words "unequal exchange."
After all, the academicians get tenure for coming up
with unnecessary disputes in order that they appear
"original." So somebody somewhere decided this book was
titled unequal exchange and that it is about unequal exchange
instead of the implications of the appropriation of labor.
If we simply try to follow the labor, products, commodities
and surplus value, we will get a lot out of that old
Monthly Review book.



     --- from list marxism at lists.village.virginia.edu ---




More information about the Marxism mailing list