Forwarded from Jurriaan (Mark Jones)

Mark Jones jones118 at
Wed Jun 6 02:29:07 MDT 2001

Ulhas Joglekar:
> I think I have frequently discussed this question on the List, though I am
> prepared to discuss it again. I think Mark (and other Marxists like him)
> must not assume what needs to be proved.

I saw some of this debate. My point is simple: whatever the degree of
dynamism of "Indian" capitalism and the resilience, wealth and social
optimism of the Indian middle class, India is a subordinate part of a
world-system which in all sorts of ways has shaped the destiny of "Indian"
capitalism. As for the term "relative autonomy", I use it myself and am
conscious of the danger of awarding oneself one more degree of freedom *not*
to concretely and specifically explain a phenomenon on the basis of detailed
empirical and historical research.

All "national" capitalisms, including European ones, especially Britain's,
and even the US, where the relative weight of foreign particpiation, or of
participation in the world market by domestic US capitalists, is still
relatively small, compared to the total size of the economy, in fact and
despite appearances are fully integrated in and dependent on the circuits of
finance and productive capital in the world market.

US imperialism and hegemony coincide with a US economy which is tied by
millions of threads to overseas capital, commodity and consumer markets and,
thru international corporate capitalism, to a global division of productive
labour based on a global science and technology.

This is the material basis of 'globaloney'. So given that, what is the
purpose of trying to identify a specifically independent formation of Indan
national capital, as if this was not what always happens everywhere
anywhere? What are you trying to prove?

Of course it exists, and there is an Indian national bourgeiosie, but so
what? The Indian bourgeiosie has no programme for future development which
is going to bring it into conflict with international finance capital or
with US imperialism. It has no programme for the future of India, including
*its own* future, in other words. It is in the interests of US imperialism
that large client states like India should have their own domestic process
of capital formation, why not? It is a huge anchor wedding India to world
capitalism. I understand why you keep saying that people ought not to
discuss what they don't know, and that serious empirical research might
deepen our understanding of India. I'm appreciative of your manypostings on
this list and others, to help us see things more clearly. For myself, I know
a little for instance about Russia and sometimes feel able to comment. I
don't know enough about India to want to make a fool of myself
pontificating. But what little I do know does not suggest to me that India
has somehow escaped the universal fate of the neocolonial, dependent
peripheries: states like India may have escaped European colonialism and
have won formal political freedom, but the price they paid was to become the
colonial subjects of an even worse and more ruthless, more dangerous
imperialism. To think that India has escaped from imperialism is dangerously
wrong. IMO.

The meaning of this is clear especially when you look at the apparent
alternatives, which you mention, and which turn out not to be alternatives
at all: take David Kotz's ideas about Chinese v. Russia strategies for the
"transition" to capitalism. According to Kotz, Russia failed because it did
not adopt the 'anti-neo-liberal' strategy which the Chinese
counter-revolutionaries under Deng, did. This is fine, if you ignore the
wider realities of how those two countries were already articulated into the
world-system even before they publically began the dismantling of socialism.
China was already effectively an American ally in the 'containment' of the
Soviet Union. This was because the USA continued to the end to see the
Soviet Union, not China, as its main Cold War enemy. The reason was because
the USSR had created a large industrial economy with a powerful defence
industry, which served to support its large European system of allied
socialist states. Also, the USSR controlled critical energy resources and
was the world's largest oil and gas producer. Russia was the main enemy.
China was a secondary enemy. When the USSR collapsed, there was considerable
uncertainty about what would happen. The US strategy was extremely simple.
It was (a) to fragment the USSR into smaller political entities; (b) to
immiserate the population, making it practically impossible for resistance
to develop for a long time; and (c) to utterly smash its industrial base,
destroy its scientific potential and shatter its defence industry. That was
what the so-called neoliberal/Harvard/IMF policies were designed to achieve,
and far from being a failure, this policy has been a total success and has
produced the kind of 'transition to capitalism' which the West required.

The idea that China's 'defiance' of neoliberal/globalist polciies, or
Malaysia's or anyone else's, is a cunning ploy which can guarantee the
long-term 'relative autonomy' of Chinese capitalism seems to me wrong. The
USSR, with all its hard-won advantages, was unable to defend its own
relative-autonomy as an autarkic enclave in the capitalist world-system,
even when it was still effectively cut off from the world market and when it
and its allies were responsible by some tests for more than 30% of world
GNP. China is in a far more adverse position, and in any case, China has no
wish to preserve its 'relative autonomy' and its policy is one of total
engagement, including now the firesale to foreign investors of its core
rustbelt (socialist-era) industries. Therefore, either China will have to
become a fully-incorporated satellite of imperialism, like Russia or China,
or it will face a more or less lengthy period of unremitting hostility, a
new cold war, until either it capitulates, or there is a new world war.

> Soviet block disintegrated, Yugoslavia has ceased to exist. India
> survives,
> despite massive problems of poverty, unemployment, environmental
> degradation.

So does post-Soviet Russia survive, also with massive problems. No doubt in
twenty or thirty years, other things being equal, Russia, which has many
advantages over India, will begin to be an effective competitor for goods
and services (software, etc) which it will struggle to sell into satiated
western markets. Meanwhile, what else will change in India? The islands of
"relative" prosperity will continue to prosper amid the seas of surrounding
poverty and millennial darkness. Overall, global inequality between very
rich nations and very poor nations like Russia and India, will only
increase: not least because of the success which imperialism has had in
making Russia and India compete with each other in a  race to the bottom.


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