Forwarded from Anthony (reply to Mine)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Fri Aug 18 07:15:11 MDT 2000


Hi Lou,

In response to Mine.

Mine, thank you for reading the things I post now and then. I have been
reading your contributions with interest for some time, now. I would like
to reply to a few of the things you wrote in your response to my note on
"the end of history."

I wrote:

"3. Transportation costs were cut to almost nothing - making mass >exports
of heavy machinery - especially automobiles for the new mass markets,
economically possible." And Mine responded,

"Is this an evidence that capitalism has survived its own contradictions?
In the third world, many people can not afford to buy cars. In core
capitalist countries, car may not be a luxury, but in my country, it
requires a high level of income to afford a car. In other words, car is not
a basic need there as it is here (geographical location of cities matter in
the US too). Furthermore, if cars became economically possible, it was
because of the reduction of labor costs in third world countries."

Yes, this is evidence that capitalism resolved - temporarily - one of its
two greatest contradictions of that epoch - the contradiction between the
productive capacity of capitalist industry in the "core" countries, and the
size of the markets. The markets could not absorb everything they could
produce, they could not sell them - commodities, like cars for example. The
reduction of transportation increased the size of the market - together
with other factors, such as population growth, changes in class structure,
reduction in national barriers, etc. that I outlined in my note.

Also, it is true that cars are a luxury on the world scale. Somewhere
between 10% and 20% of the world's population have the luxury of using
cars. This fact is important in several ways to the development of crises
in the capitalist system.

Most important it shows that capitalism does not need to improve the
material standing of living of the majority of people - it merely needs for
population to grow and maintain the same class structure. So if another
billion people are added to planetary population, another 100 million cars
can be produced and sold.

As for your point on increased car ownership in the "peripheral countries"
being due to reduction of labor costs by the shift of car production to
these countries ...

 Of course this is true. Labor costs on a global scale are following, but
in the peripheral countries, wages are rising over time in the new
industrial working classes. These classes, like the one in colombia we were
discussing elsewhere, or the one in Turkey, or the one in South Korea, or
you name it - the one that is being formed in central Africa are the new
world proletariat. They are the most interesting phenomena in the new
global social structure in my opinion.

You touched on this issue when you wrote,

"Expansion of mass markets is a core-periphery issue, *not* a market
(demand/supply) issue in some abstract sense. Many countries in the South
East Asia and Latin America (S.Korea, Honkong, Mexico) reduce labor costs
by either avoiding unionization through oppressive means or by offering
sexy benefits to workers (high wages, better working environment) to reduce
demand for unionization. Global Maquiladora industries on the Mexican
border (US subcontractors) hire workers, mostly from working class women
and children, at low levels of costs such as 1.65 per hour. The reason for
this is that women are seen as cheap domestic laborers."

I think core-periphery issues are market issues, as in supply and demand
issues. And I think it is important to place these issues in their historic
context. I was writing about the resolution of the crisis of overproduction
of commodities, and oversupply of capital that hit around 1910, and was
resolved through the process of working class defeat, fascism, and WWI and
WWII.

In 1946 there were no maquiladoras. Japan was a smoking ruin, South Korea
was devastated, and heading for a war.

The great and newly modernized industrial plant of the world was centered
around the Great Lakes in the United States, with an important outpost in
the Western United States.

Virtually every national government in the world was in debt to the US
banks - starting with the traditional bankers of the world - England.

Most of the gold in the world was stored away in vaults in New York City.

So, the United States became the center of a huge export boom: arms to
Korea, and elsewhere, heavy machinery and machine tools to Europe and
Japan, food to all parts of the world.

Even more important, the rebuilding of factories and infrastructure in
Europe and Japan, opened up new investment opportunities to absorb the
mountains of capital that had accumulated in the USA.

It is true that new industries had emerged in the semi-colonial and
colonial world during the depression and WWII, mostly import substitution
industry with national capital aimed at domestic markets. But these
industries' productive capacities were minor relative to the new
international market that was born in the wake of WWII. Moreover they were
capital starved, and sometimes inefficient - i.e. not competitive with
imperialist corporate capital in most cases.

I wrote,

"The Marshall Plan, the GATT, the World Bank, and the IMF, were the first
major step to globalization - >followed soon by the European common market.

Mine responded,

"There is a nuance here. Globalization strategy is not an expansion of
markets or an increase in the volume of trade only. Some see globalization
a recent evidence for the removal of trade barriers. However defined it is,
globalization has been in existence since the emergence of capitalism as a
world system , the 17th century, so it is not a new trend. Marx was writing
in the age of globalization already. Sometimes I wonder why the lefties
suddenly have discovered the concept "globalization", as if the world was a
system of nation states and then became global after the W.W.II.
Globalization is a process, not a breakthrough. The protectionist Keynesian
strategies that were implemented after the world war to contain the
capitalist system was already part of the globalization of American hegemony."

I think Mine you are going overboard with a very big generalization. Do you
mean to say that the world market and international system of nation states
of 1700 was the same as the one that exists in 2,000?

It is true that "globalization" is a process, and that it began with the
immigration of human beings out of Africa hundreds of thousands of years
ago. But if we retreat to extreme levels of generalization, we will
understand very little about the processes I was writing about - the
globalizaiton of 50 years ago.

Except in brief responses like this one, I have not yet written about the
stage of globaliztion we are in now. But, while it continues the same basic
trend of the period I was writing about, it is a different beast in
important and qualitative respects.

(I feel like I was writing about oranges, and you replied about
tangerines.) Mine continued,

"Globalization, in many respects, is the "Americanization" of the world
system at the moment. It does not matter if the European Union controls
this or that dimension of the world economy if we think that EU's economic
policies significantly differ from Americanism. It makes a very little
sense. The model as Gill, Cox, PiJl and other writers in the Gramsican IPE
tradition point out, is the "Anglo-American neo liberal" model. For
example, however exclusive the EU seems, and despite the struggles among
different fractions of capital over profit (agriculture versus industry in
France against the free market model imposed by Germans), the EU exactly
follows the US hegemonic model. Other regional blocks in the world, such as
ASEAN, NAFTA, imitate the same model: reducing labor costs to expand profit
globally and regionally."

To a point you are correct, probably in some ways more than you know. The
homogenization of capitalist market structures and government institutions,
is a key factor in the new stage of globalization that is different from
the stage I was writing about. GATT's transformation from a treaty to an
quasi-governmental institution is the high point, but the formation of two
party parliamentary systems, everywhere is as important. This is a subject
I will write more on later.

Mine quoted me,

"I think a look at what capitalism achieved - as a system - with European
fascism and WWII clearly shows that it overcame all of the basic >elements
of its crisis of overproduction and oversupply of capital. 1. Population
growth increased dramatically - expanding the size of national and world
market beyond any dreamt of in 1910.

"I think a look at what capitalism achieved - as a system - with European
fascism and WWII clearly shows that it overcame all of the basic elements
of its crisis of overproduction and oversupply of capital.

"1. Population growth increased dramatically - expanding the size of
national and world market beyond any dreamt of in 1910."

And then she replied with,

"Population growth is a not a crisis of over-production. Capitalism solves
the problem of population by actually "eliminating peoples" of certain
variety, not by increasing population globally: Racism. Did you know that
african american women are sterilized at a higher degree than white women
in the US? The same applies to women in India, where women are forced to
abort female fetuses. In the Saudi Arabia, the same model is justified in
the name of prescreening women before birth giving. The assumption that
resources are scarce and population growth puts a limit on the sharing of
world resources justifies the assumption that population growth should be
adjusted accordingly. This is a closet neo-malthusian world view and it has
serious racial, gender class repercussions on third world people and
oppressed minorities in the US. Who is adjusting whose population in the
name of population control? US transnational policy makers, IMF and the
World Bank."

Please Mine. My words clearly say the opposite of what you attribute to me.
Population growth is not a crisis of overproduction.

The crisis of overproduction I was writing about was a crisis of
overproduction of things like steel, glass, pigs, automobiles, and cornflakes.

Yes I did know that African American women are sterilized at a higher rate
than white women, as I am aware of the other things you say in this
paragraph. As I am aware of many facets of racism and sexism that are
institutional and endemic throughout the world and especially in the United
States.

However, the population of the now over 6 billion people, and it was only 2
billion in 1950. This is a fact of great significance that Marxists
frequently ignore. It represents a huge growth of the world market for
things like cornflakes, steel, glass, automobiles, etc. It does not matter
in this sense if 90% of the 6 billion people can't afford to eat
cornflakes, what matters is that 10% of 6 billion is three times 10% of 2
billion. The size of the market tripled, all other things being equal.
(Really it increased much more than three times for the reasons I explained
in my previous note.)

Please, return to the debate between Marx and Malthus. I am merely
repeating Marx's arguments, only in a new global context. Malthus thought
that you could not increase agricultural production beyond the level of
England in 1830. Boy was he wrong. Marx thought it cold be increased by
putting more land under the plow - mostly land stolen from indigenous
peoples in the Americas (wheat and beef from the United States, and then
Argentina fed the British working class from 1850 on.) And Marx also
thought agricultural productivity could be increased by applying modern
scientific methods to agricultural such as fertilizers, plows, etc. In
other words, Marx was a proponent of the "green revolution".

In other words, there is nothing Matlhusian, or neo-Malthusian about my
arguments. My arguments are a polemic against all Malthusians.

Mine continued,

" In a nutshell, the issue is to approach critically to the thesis of
population growth in the "rhetoric about third world people". Sometimes I
wonder the same. Why is, for example, "immigration" emphasized in the
rhetoric about Mexicans, Moroccans and Indians in the US, but not about
Canadians, French or whatever? Don't the Canadians migrate here? Why does
control or freedom of migration concern Mexicans only?"

Mine, my program is for open borders between imperialist countries and
their "peripheral neighbors. I however do not call for open borders in the
other direction. I think all undocumented workers and immigrant workers
should be granted full citizenship rights in the imperialist countries
where they live, including the right to vote.

Please Mine. I want to ask a stylistic favor from you. Please stop
referring to "lefties" in such a condescending know-it-all way. You may
know more than some other lefties, but you are a lefty. And other leftists
deserve some measure of respect simply for being on the left. Still others
deserve some measure of respect because they really do know some things
that you do not.

Anthony


Louis Proyect

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