Strikes in Western Europe

rakesh bhandari djones at uclink.berkeley.edu
Wed May 22 03:11:20 MDT 1996


Characteristically incisive, Zeynep wrote

>result include the centrifugal election chaos witnessed everywhere, the
>total inability of the unions to confront the new politics hence the fact
>that they are starting to lose their claim and legitimacy, the ever more
>swelling of the finance-capital (credit is the main temporal shift
>capitalism employs to avert crises, hence the bigger the crises, bigger the
>finance-capital; and also because when profitability is declining in the
>production level, the fight for the re-distribution of the surplus-value
>pool becomes sharper).

1. May I recommend Werner Bonefeld and John Holloway, ed. Global Capital,
National State and the Politics of Money (St Martin's, 1995) for an
analysis of credit as a temporal displacement of crisis.

According to these authors, credit has not been advanced to finance in
Schumpeterian fashion new entrepreneurial combinations, the products of
which eventually come onto the market  and then set into motion  deflation
and even depression (as debts are paid off and inefficient capitals
eliminated) before a new higher equilibrium point is reached.

Indeed from the conclusion by Bonefeld and Holloway:

"Far from stimulating investment, employment and output, the result of
credit expansion in a tight monetary framework was the deterioration of
conditions and mass unemployment.  There was no breakthrough in investment.
 Credit expansion was used for speculation rather than for the generation
of surplus value.  The use of debt as an instrument of control, and the
failure of this control in the form of a speculative boom, shows the
strength of labour, even at the moment of defeat, to resist the
recomposition between necessary and surplus labour.  The result of this
resistance was an integration of labour into the capital relation on the
basis of an iredeemable expansion of credit....In other words, money,
rather than betting on future exploitation, has to be transformed into an
effective command over labour in the present. This means that the
exploitaiton of labour has to deliver rate of profit adequate to redeem
debt and to allow for expanded capitalism accumulation.  This exploitation
of labour presupposes the recomposition of the relatins between between
necessary and surplus labour.  The recomposition of this relation is still
beyond the horizon.  There is no surer indication than the ballooning of
bad debt that capital has not succeeded in imposing a recomposition of the
relations of exploitation adequate to accumulated claims upon surplus
value."

2. Please also see Guglielmo Carchedi's *Frontiers of Political Economy*
(London: Verso, 1991) for an analysis of the mechanisms by which crisis had
been *spatially*  displaced onto the neo-colonial world.

3. I will soon read and  try to report to the list about the following
report prepared (I believe) by the Business Council in the United States:
Edward Potter and Judith Youngman, 1995. Keeping America Competitive:
Employment Policy for the 21st Century.  I believe this book gives a good,
accessible summary of the rollbacks capital is planning.

4. On the crisis of the welfare state. For a disturbing overview of plans
to streamline and refashion the American state (elimination of  welfare  as
'dysgenic'; immigration restrictions against  'dumb relatives' who take the
spots of the smart ones "we" should be snatching; high tech indian
reservations for the underclass), see of course Murray and Herrnstein's
*The Bell Curve*.

 It seems to me that too many academics have been patting themselves on the
back for what a tremendous intellectual job they have done in demolishing
the arguments therein (very important is the unjustified use of the
category of race, as Eugene Genovese of all people has pointed out).

In my opinion the book was never intended as anything nothing more than a
rationalization for the shift away from  the welfare state, head start and
affirmative action, etc.  to a new world order eugenics (don't mind
Murray's formal protests on television; the meaning of the book is obvious,
even Orlando Patterson has had to recognize this; there are for example
subsections on the threat of dysgenics in the chapter on the demography of
intelligence).

Exposure of the intellectual weaknesses of the book will not stop capital
>from carrying out the policy for which M and H provide rationalization.

Remember that Murray's first book (*Losing Ground*) was systematically
taken apart.  Yet years later (this should worry the academic critics)
Clinton would thank Murray for bringing to national attention how  the
welfare state had undermined the family structure, which in turn was the
cause of welfare dependency.

Argument, evidence and intellectual exposure will not stop the juggernaut.
Murray has not come ready for scientific debate; he is only giving his side
the 'respectability' they need to fight a war to preserve and expand the
capitalist system.

I agree with Zeynep: this is no time to throw in the towel.



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