Forwarded from Anthony (reply to Xxxx)

Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx xxxxxxxx at xxxxxxxxxxx.xxx
Fri Aug 18 23:56:38 MDT 2000




Dear Anthony comrade!  Thanks for responding to my post in details. I should admit
that I learn a great deal from your posts. If you don't mind, I will make a couple
of comments regarding your discussion on the crisis of capitalism.

> >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.

Definitely! New proletariat is growing in the periphery of the "new global
structure". My questions were rather simplistic: How far does capitalism allow
equalization of wages on a global scale? Do the wages in the periphery catch up
with the wages in the west or not? Is there a global convergence in the wages or
not? If not, what is the issue at stake here? In spite of the trend towards
raising wages "overtime" in the new industrializing countries, the data does not
look terribly suggestive on the hourly wages of Asian and Latin American workers.
Wages differentials between first and third world workers will exist as long as
capitalism exists. This contradiction is unresolvable, me thinks. In 1984, for
example, apparel workers in Mexico made an hourly wage of $1.00, compared to $7.00
in the United States. Workers in the Dominican Republic made $1.24 per hour
whereas in Jamaica, Costa Rica and Haiti, hourly wages were $1.02, $0.86, and
$0.43 respectively (Curiem, 1985, "Export Processing Zones in the 1980s"). If one
looks at the recent trends, it is somewhat surprising to observe that wages have
declined in the recent years, making those countries even more attractive places
for US capital. I have just reviewed the data at the moment, which suggests that
the hourly wages in Mexico apparels have dropped from $1.00 in 1984 to $0.88 in
1991.


>
>
> >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.
>

May be I am too much concerned with "semantics" here but why to use the word
"resolve"? Why not instead say "terminate" or "postpone"? After the WW1, of
course,  production rose sharply in the US sustained at first by the continuing
boom during war and later by the development of new automobile (fordism) and
consumer durable industries, as well as expansion of fictitious capital (credit)
on the stock market. However productivity *never* rose sharply enough to produce
the surplus value to contain profitability in the 20s. The market was still
narrow, essentially limited to the middle class. Crisis was unresolvable because
the gap between the surplus value "actually" produced and finance capital
speculated in the market did not match to contain high profits. The market was
exhausted by an overwhelming expansion of credit speculation. I personally  think
that the crisis of over accumulation was and will never be resolved;  it can only
be terminated on the surface. This requires an institutional integration of
working class power-- bourgeois unionism.

After W.W.II, it seems to me  that the core capitalist powers have terminated  the
possibility of crisis by exporting the conditions of capitalism to the third
world, primitive accumulation on a world scale.  There is something that goes
behind the inherent laws of capitalist accumulation here: self-conscious
neo-liberal American hegemony as a "role mother" for new capitalist powers in the
third world.



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

Agreed. maguiladora was just an analogy on my part to suggest an evidence for
expanding US imperialism and multinationals. It fits in the ideological framework
of 50s.

>
>
> >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?
>

No. I was not making temporarily discrete comparisons between 1700 and 2000.. I
was just stating that it is hard to imagine a more persuasive description of
globalization today than the one given by Marx and Engels 150 years ago in the
Communist Manifesto. Marx in this piece persuasively talks about capitalism's need
for constantly expanding market. He says bourgeoisie "nestles, settles and
establishes connections over the whole surface of the globe" So production
acquires universal/cosmopolitan charecteer. He further continues "all old
established national industries.... are dislodged by new industries, whose
introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilized nations, by
industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn
from the remotest zone; industries whose products are consumed, not only at home
but in every quarter of the globe in place of  of the old local and national
seclusion, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of
nations".

What more evidence can be found in addition to this excellent description of
globalization?  Marx discovered globalization earlier than anyone else on the
planet.

Regarding the size of global markets, they are historically contingent on social
class forces and geo-politics of imperialism among nations . for example, between
1840s and the mid 1870 the sea volume of sea merchant capitalism between the major
European states "quadrupled", "while the value of exchanges between Britain and
the Ottoman empire, Latin america, India and Australia increased six fold" (
Arrighi, "Global Market", 1999)



> >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.

I  certainly agree that world  population has increased and this creates
consumption pressures. What should we make out of this as Marxists? My impression
is that "capitalism" creates the need for over-consumption -- consumption and
exploitation of resources more than one needs-- not population growth per se. If
capitalism satisfied our basic needs, we would not have consumed world's resources
like crazy.  The problem is with capitalism, not with population. Capitalism
burns the world, and in order to obscure its own contradictions, it creates a
discourse of population growth. I would definitely agree with you if the %1
percent of 2 billion (core let's say ), who can afford to consume conflates, cars,
steel and gas, would agree that it burns the world by exporting its garbage to the
third world. On the contrary, the population  discourse is set to blame the third
world rather than the first world.  I am definitely willing to be corrected about
this though.


comradely,


Xxxx






>
> Louis Proyect
>
> The Marxism mailing-list: http://www.marxmail.org

--

Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx
PhD Student
Department of Political Science
SUNY at Albany
Nelson A. Rockefeller College
135 Western Ave.; Milne 102
Albany, NY 12222



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