globalisation one more time

Jurriaan Bendien j.bendien at wolmail.nl
Wed Jun 6 15:05:00 MDT 2001


What I wonder about in the light of these protectionist measures for US 
Steel, is where that leaves the theory of globalisation, according to which 
the constraints of time and geographic space on capital are supposed to 
have been largely overcome, such that we going towards "a global economy 
with the capacity to work as a unit in real time on a planetary basis'" 
(the formula of Manuel Castells). National interests do appear to be 
important after all. Well, on to the next buzzword.

If my theory is correct, the pendulum is actually going to swing back from 
free trade quite some way to protectionism, in the future, i.e. national 
and regional interests will assert themselves.
I could be wrong, but that is what I think (in that case, the concept of 
imperialism might come back into fashion with a vengeance).

Ankie Hoogvelt did quite an interesting paper on globalisation a few years 
ago (see www.vuw.ac.nz/atp/articles/hoogvelt_9704.html). She suggests that 
"If we measure the integration of real economies for example by the amount 
of goods and services that cross frontiers as a percentage of all the goods 
and services that are produced world wide, then it may come as a surprise 
to learn that the peak year for such a world integration of real economies, 
was the year 1913 when that percentage (the export ratio of production) 
reached 33 percent. Today, after a long decline that continued till 1990, 
it is only just back up to 31 percent."

That is quite a complicated measurement, and I am not sure if it is 
correct. You also have to bear in mind that there is one hell of a lot more 
production per worker, or per country, than there was in 1913. But she also 
quotes Hirst and Thompson to the effect that "today just 28 percent of the 
world's population lives in regions which attract 90 percent of all foreign 
investment", and that is pretty much true, unless I am very mistaken. Hirst 
and Thompson's book is one of the best I have seen on the vexed 
globalisation issue. I am aware they're not Marxists but it's a good book 
in the sense that it tries to count the horse's teeth, and not simply vent 
vague generalisations.

As regards international trade, I had a funny experience when I was in 
Washington a few weeks ago. I went as a tourist near the White House and 
nearby I bought a souvenir cup with an American logo on it. Where was the 
cup made ? In China. My brother took me to a clothing store and generously 
bought me a shirt (to wear at his wedding). Where was the shirt made ? In 
Malaysia. In fact, the grey suit he also generously bought me was made of 
imported fabric too. I felt very globalised after that, but I didn't think 
it advanced the movement or anything. Apparently President Bush has banned 
casual clothing in official circles, so in that score I was politically 
correct.

Jurriaan

At 03:23 PM 6/6/01 -0400, you wrote:


Lou Pr quoted the NYT under the appropiate title of "Double standard":

"WASHINGTON, June 5 - President Bush took the first steps today toward
imposing broad restrictions on imported steel, handing a victory to
American steel companies and unions that have long urged the government to
grant relief from foreign competition."

The most interesting thing here, and one that may help some understand what
does a "national movement" mean, is that imperialist protectionism does not
hesitate in stomping with the heel on the feet of their best allies in the
semicolonies.

In Argentina, the steel producing Dalmine-Siderca group has been one of the
most important supporters of the policies of dismantling the structure of
the State. They were among the most benefitted ones with the destruction of
the national steel mills, and their obvious intention was to use them, a la
Korea, to export steel. Now that their production can compete with their
American counterparts (their obvious main target) the wall of protection
rises in the midst of what they believed to be a wonderful freeway out of
the languishing domestic market. Sergio Einaudi, one of the owners of the
Dalmine group (together with the Rocca family) made declarations today
against that protectionism.

The same thing happens with agricultural protection, which attacks and rigs
even the Argentinean landowners to the point that many (and not all of them
small) lose their land to American or European controlled banks. That is,
imperialist protectionism on agricultural products is a serious problem for
the local Argentinean oligarchy and the export-oriented agrarian sector as
a whole, an ally of the Empire who is thus reminded of the role they are
expected to fulfill.

This does not mean that we should place any hope in those villains, whose
luck depends on the misery of their fellow countrypeople. But if _they_ are
mastered that way, what can other "ruling" classes expect???

Lic. Néstor M. Gorojovsky


Louis Proyect
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