P.B. Proyect squirms some more

rakesh bhandari djones at uclink.berkeley.edu
Fri Aug 23 23:06:12 MDT 1996


Re Monthly Review and MIM

1. In Alexander Cockburn's *The Golden Age is Within Us*, one can read an
interview (apparently recent) in which Paul Sweezy, founding editor of
*Monthly Review*,  places Mao above Lenin as the towering revolutionary
Marxist figure of the 20th century.  Louis,  I don't think it is fair to
undermine the credibility of MIM based on the reputation of *Monthly
Review*, though of course perhaps one might attempt to criticize *Monthly
Review* for its general analysis of Maoist economic strategy over the
years(McFarlane, Wheelwright, Bettelheim, Gurley, Hinton, etc.)

 I will say that I think Paul Sweezy and Paul Baran's *Monopoly Capital*,
as well as the important and lucid defenses of it by John Bellamy Foster,
do not meet the criticisms of Mattick, Cogoy, Carchedi (see his
bibliography for relevant citations and the text of his *Frontiers of
Political Economy* for the most succinct presentation of the criticism).

Even in his most recent work (his intellectual biography), Samir Amin
relies on Baran and Sweezy's ideas about the capacity of a 'third
department' to realize 'surplus' in the imperialist countries, which leads
him (in my very humble opinion) to misuderstand not only the
contradictions, dynamics and thus open possibilities here but also, and as
a result, the nature of growing imperialist pressures stemming from a
crisis of imperialist profitability (in the form of net value inflows,
unequal terms of trade, restrictive intellectual property rights and unfair
trade agreements, etc)and thus the real reasons for  worldwide
polarization.

So it would probably be a good idea, as always, to get back to the basic
questions here: value, accumulation and crisis.

2. As to Doug's argument that transfers from the third world can account
for no more than 5% of First World GNP, the implications here are
important. What follows from the fact that  a net transfer of value from
the third world remains inadequate or insignificant for the US as declining
hegemon?  In the wake of the Gulf War in 1991, Alan Freeman expressed this
powerfully:

"The US will probably receive direct inflows from reconstruction, arms
sales and improved oil balances of somewhere between $50bn and $100bn. But
this is less than one-third of its budget deficit and barely covers a
year's trade deficit.  Even if the whole of the inection was spent
onproductive domestic investment, which it will not be, these sums of money
simply do not add up to what is required.  The US would have to invest a
minimum of $200 bn per year to reach the average level of Western Europe
and over $700bn to reach that of Japan. At an avaerage investment rate of
20 percent of income, the income injection required to achieve this is
truly collosal.

"The basic problem is that the capital on the required scale can only
ultimately be acquired from one or both of two sources: the opening of the
USSR to the world market system, or an attack on wages in the metropolis of
the scale brought on by the victory of fascism in Germany. The political
risks associated with either venture are huge, and success by no means
certain.

"The contradiction the US faces is exactly that which has reduced Britain
>from the workshop of the world to a tenth rate industrial power. Each time
it plays the military card, it diverts more of its accumulation fund to its
operations abroad, to its military machine, to its financial speculators,
and less to its own development. This in turn makes it all the more
imperative to maintain its military status. US capital is mainlining
militarism."

In short, because the injection of value through the imperialism of unequal
exchange or even outright plunder and occupation provides no long term
solution to the fundamental problem of comparative underinvestment in the
US domestic economy, we can expect--and estimates of US arms spending over
the next decade confirm this--the "US, the world's largest nuclear power,
will become more militaristic, more committed to the use of force to
resolve its problems, and more barbarous in its practices. It also means
that it is only a matter of time before the US's rivals, above all Germany,
begin building up military muscles in their own bid for a share of the
world. In short, this is process which threatens the very existence of the
world."  (From *The Gulf War and the New World Order*. London: Zed Books,
1991).

For an attempt to "dis-analogize" the US today from the declining hegemon
of the last century, the UK, and to argue that the US will reclaim the 21st
century--see Joseph Nye, 1990. *Bound To Lead: The Changing Nature of
American Power*. Basic Books.

 However in a recent *Foreign Affairs* essay "America's Information Edge"
(March April 1996), Nye seems to have become much more militaristic in his
concerns and now outlines how on the basis of its information
technology-enhanced military might, the US is in unique position to assess
conflicts all over all the world and thus basically broker military
intelligence, weigh in on this or that side and openly deploy the use of
force in a mercenary manner (he seems to be suggesting)...all for a price
of course.  And Nye doesn't even dwell on profits from arms sales.

Rakesh



























Rakesh





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




More information about the Marxism mailing list