Forwarded from Tom O'Lincoln (state capitalism)

Stuart Lawrence stuartwl at walrus.com
Thu Apr 19 00:50:38 MDT 2001


From: "Greg Schofield" <gschofield at one.net.au>

> We live in an age when nearly all the means of production have become
> mediated through the state via public companies. The old bourgeoisie have
> expropriated themselves:

The mediation is not so much through the state (public companies --
corporations -- have evolved legally from entities with strictly defined legal
charters into interchangeable pools of capital with the sole mandate of
maximizing shareholders' returns) but through the financial markets and the
institutions of speculative and finance capital.

>
>  From the Grundrisse "The Historical Tendency of Capitalist Accumulation"
>
> "One capitalist always kills many. Hand in hand with this centralization,
> or this expropriation of many capitalists by few, develop, on an
> ever-extending scale, the co-operative form of the labour process... Along
> with the constantly diminishing number of magnates of capital, who usurp
> and monopolize all advantages of this process of transformation, grows the
> mass of misery, oppression, slavery, degredation, exploitation; but with
> this too grows the revolt of the working-class... The monopoly of capital
> becomes a fetter upon THE MODE OF PRODUCTION [my emphasis] which has sprung
> up and flourished along with, and under it. Centralisation of the means of
> production and the socialzation of labour at last reach a point where they
> become incompatible with their capitalist integument [skin shell]. This
> itegument is burst asunder. The knell of capitalist private property
> sounds. The expropriators are expropriated."
>
> I consider that while we talk about and think about capitalism more in
> terms of its classical past than of its present, we have not as whole taken
> into account, politically and theoretically, what has happened over the
> last fifty years - the effective socialisation of the means of production
> by capitalists and their transformation into a share-holding rent class.

But the two most significants aspect of this transformation -- the evolution of
the modern corporation with its relatively passive shareholders and active
professional management, and the internationalization of these corporations --
have not changed in any way the basic imperative of market-oriented production
and investment. The increasing dominance of finance capital has at the same time
brought corporate managers under a more uniform discipline focused on
externally-determined goals.  It would be a mistake to apply the "rentier" label
to capitalists who are increasingly focused on pursuing speculative profits
which represent the redistribution of existing wealth. Speculation intensifies
the quest for short-term gains bearing little relationship to a long-term
general rate of profit. At the same time, the political solution to managing
crises of overproduction has now developed into a formula of debt crisis,
currency market manipulation, privatization, and transnational rationalization
of excess productive capacity, allowing US capitalists to avoid the most
devastating cyclical damage through the exercise of global hegemony.
Socialization and nationalization of risks and costs combined with the
expropriation of capital and natural resources has been the political theory and
practice of global capitalism throughout, and clearly this is not a model that
can be mechanistically adapted to socialist goals. Capitalism as a world system
seems to have created more international competition and conflict than
generalized class conflict; how to transcend the former in order to bring about
the latter is the great question of our time.

Stuart
stuartwl at walrus.com






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