Dependency theory (Julio)

Charles Brown CharlesB at CNCL.ci.detroit.mi.us
Wed May 30 09:14:25 MDT 2001



>>> juliohuato at hotmail.com 05/29/01 04:04PM >>>

CB:
>
>It is not the key thing, because the key thing is to change it, capitalism 
>that is.  And you can't change it by only focusing on its distinguishing 
>characteristics , but rather its concrete totality which includes both its 
>distinguishing and generic class society characteristics. The key to 
>socialist revolution is not only the unique characterisitics of capitalism.
>

Charles, I may be struggling a lot to convey ideas using other than my first 
language here, but you don't make any effort to assist in the communication 
process. 

CB: Pardone me, Julio, por favor, but your English is perfect. Are you saying you are  giving a partially erroneous version of Marxism but somehow in perfect English grammar ?

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 I'm not going to complain about that.

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CB: Good , I think you should read the last thing I wrote above, because I think you got some understanding that you didn't want to get and suddenly you didn't think you could understand English, but you can, and much better than I can understand Spanish.

It is not just capitalism's unique historical or logical characteristics that must be dealt with in abolishing it.  Its generic, not specific or species characteristics, such as the state apparatus, which it shares with others in its genus of class oppressive societies, is part of its existence. You see it is not only the essence of capitalism that must be dealt with in getting rid of it ,but its existence. 

>It is not the key thing, because the key thing is to change it, capitalism 
>that is.  And you can't change it by only focusing on its distinguishing 
>characteristics , but rather its concrete totality which includes both its 
>distinguishing and generic class society characteristics. The key to 
>socialist revolution is not only the unique characterisitics of capitalism.
>

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 Now, my suggestion to 
readers who (like me) are struggling to grasp the useful, Marxist use of the 
cateogory of 'essence' is to refer to Hegel's Logic (particularly the first 
two books, on Being and Essence), Marx's Grundrisse (1857 Introduction and 
many other parts), Lenin's Philosophical Notebooks (his notes on the first 
two books of Hegel's Logic, in particular), and Roman Rosdolsky's book on 
the Grundrisse.  Of all of these references, one that may be particularly 
relevant here is in the chapter of circulation in Grundrisse, where Marx 
refers to how Ricardo grasps better the 'true essence of capital' by 
IGNORING the difficulties of realization, under-consumption, etc. that 
plague concrete historical capitalist reproduction.  Marx emphasizes that 
Ricardo understands better the 'essence of capitalist reproduction' than 
Sismondi and Malthus who throw at him descriptions of the convulsive, 
concrete way in which capitalist reproduction actually takes place.  Please 
do not infer from this that I believe everything Ricardo said was right, 
that I believe everything Sismondi and Malthus said was wrong, or that I 
deny the concrete, historical problems of capitalist reproduction, etc.

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CB: In getting rid of capitalism, in changing it ( a number of philosophers like Hegel have interpreted the world, the thing is to change it based upon your interpretation), we must deal with both its true essence, and its existence or being, with infrastructure and superstructure. Remember. Although , Hegel is not a dead dog, he is a dog.

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>CB: What people have done this ?  None who have been arguing with you on 
>this list about this.
>

It seems to me that you and others have ignored the conceptual distinctions 
between modes of production and social formation, economic structure and 
super-structure, between production forces and economic structure.  Some 
have claimed that production with slave or forced labor is some kind of 
capitalist production. 

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CB: It is !  In trying to make the revolution against capitalism, whether in the Southern Hemisphere of the Western Hemisphere or anywhere else, it is important to understand that capitalism's essence as wage-labor/capital relation in which , in the best case as described in detail by Marx in _Capital_ , the laborer is paid enough in wages to reproduce her labor power, is always coupled in a dialectical ( Hegelian) unity and struggle of opposites with its existence as less-than-waged, oppressed labor/capital relation in the capitalist system as a whole. Whether this somehow or another "less-than-wage labor " is outright SLAVERY or peonage or peasantry or reservation-concentration campasinos or Irish or Corvee or reserved army of the unemployed welfare to work or U.S. prisonindustralcomplexicons or relative surplus population immigrant labor or sweatshop labor. Marx just uses the word "slavery" sometimes. But directly on Marx's discussion of the essence of capitalism in _Capital_ , he is clear that the capitalists are not confined to and do not confine themeselves to making sure that they pay the workers the full value of reproducing their labor power. That is decided in the class struggle, at the essence of capitalism. And the capitalists are constantly and inherently from the beginning in the real primitive accumulation right on through to today and the mature, aged, rotten night of the living dead age of accumulation looking for forms of labor that they can exploit more intensely than paying enough to reproduce the labor power.  A permanent caste of potentially less-than-waged labor is Black and other darkskinned workers in the U.S. This is a direct legacy of an actual slave and other oppressed labor system. There is some of this legacy in Latin America, Brazil, Belize, Venezuela. But this is not the only way. In general, the U.S. state is constantly trying to drive down the wages of workers in Latin America for the transnational corporations, and it does not limit itself at the price of reproducing labor power
poverty. So, revolution in Latin America demands that communists are conscious of capitalism's essence and existence.

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 I have objected to this.  I think that's on the 
record, but I may be wrong.  My interest is to learn and help others learn 
in the process.

>The struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat is both economic 
>and political.  Somehow when some people discuss the political part you 
>have a mental block as to the fact that those people also discuss the 
>economic part.
>

Now you're confusing things even more.  You are mixing the understanding of 
the capitalist social formation as an articulation of modes of production 
and super-structures with the forms of the workers' class struggle.  These 
issues ARE related, but they are two separate issues.  It was the former 
which was being debated.  An understanding of the main dynamics of the 
social formation depends on a clear analysis of the modes of production that 
operate together and conflict in it.  This is crucial to class struggle, 
both political and economic.


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CB: What I said was clear. What you are saying is confused. And it is good English. It is confused in the sense that your aim is theoretical, philosophical,  but you are only aware as an afterthought that your philosophical aim must be subordinate to your practical aim ( in being a Marxist; or are you aware of the Theses on Feuerbach ?)


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>CB: They wouldn't have existed at all without the state power. Marx's 
>discussion of the primitive accumulation emphasizes:
>
>"These methods depend in part on brute force, e.g., the colonial system.
> >But, they all employ the power of the State, the concentrated and 
>organised
> >force of society, to hasten, hot-house fashion, the process of
> >transformation of the feudal mode of production into the capitalist mode,
> >and to shorten the transition. Force is the midwife of every old society
> >pregnant with a new one. It is itself an economic power. "
>
>State power, i.e. force was necessary to bring capitalism into existence at 
>the beginning.
>

I have said already that you are confusing the creation of the historical 
premises of capitalist production with capitalist production itself.  
There's no point on running around circles.


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CB: The State power and force elements that were part of the creation of the historical premises of capitalist production did not go away after the creation. They still underpin capitalist production as a necessary premise. No state power and force, no capitalist production. That is worth repeating fifteen times until you fall off the merry-go-round.

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>CB: IF YOU CANNOT SEE THAT THIS IS FALSE [that police and prisons are not 
>LOGICALLY necessary for capitalist production], I CAN'T HELP YOU. THIS IS 
>GRAMCIAN HEGEMONISM SWALLOWING THE WHOLE , OR SOMETHING. THE WHOLE BASIS OF 
>THE LOGIC THAT HISTORY IS A HISTORY OF CLASS STRUGGLES IS THAT EXPLOITED 
>WORKING CLASSES WILL NOT ALLOW THEMSELVES TO BE EXPLOITED IF THEY ARE NOT 
>SUPPRESSED BY A STATE POWER, DOMINANCE OF FORCE.
>

I stand by my statement, which I think you misunderstand.  Again, the issue 
is not whether capitalists use state power.  I'll try to address this issue 
in more detail in another posting.

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CB: OF course, the issue is whether the capitalists use state power. What are you talking about.  The essence of capitalism in Latin America , ( and everywhere) would go "poof" if there was no dominance of the transnational , imperialist state apparatus by the big bourgeoisie. 

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>CB: If they meant a economic relationship in the first place, why did they 
>use a legal, i.e. political, term ?
>

Well, ask them. 

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CB: I just asked them. They said I am right and you are wrong.


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 Or you try to find a term to describe the different 
economic relationships that may arise as a result of appropriating and 
controlling nature or products (or people) as it is required by production 
in general.  Before you jump on me at this, check Grundrisse's 1857 
Introduction.  I'll quote the relevant part at the end of the posting.  Now, 
this is a terminological problem that Plekhanov, for instance, notice.  IMO, 
he got in trouble with himself by discussing it.  IMO, Marx was just matter 
of fact.  Engels explained somewhere the dilemmas of using old terms or 
coining new ones.  This is Plekhanov commenting on Marx's Preface: "Property 
relations of men belong to the sphere of their legal relations: property is 
first of all a legal institution.  To say that the key to understanding 
historical phenomena must be sought in the property relations of men saying 
that this key lies in the institutions of law. [...] After all, right is 
right, and economy is economy, and the two conceptions should not be mixed 
up," etc. (The Monist View.)  Also, Gerald Cohen (Karl Marx's Theory of 
History) takes up Plekhanov's discussion and tries to clarify this.  Maybe 
you can helps us straighten things out in this question.  I mean it in a 
nice way.


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CB: I'm not a nice person. There is no progress without struggle. Look, Grundisse is a notebook of incomplete thoughts and essays. _Capital_  is the final form in which Marx wanted to formulate it for the world to read.

At one point , Marx says,


"First of all, Wakefield discovered that in the Colonies, proper means of subsistence, machines, and other means of production, does not as yet stamp a man as a capitalist if there be wanting the correlative ― the wage-worker, the other man who is compelled to sell himself of his own free-will. He discovered that capital is not a thing, but a social relation between persons, established by the instrumentality of things."

You see , again, he describes capital as a property relation. Relations of production  or social relations of production are property relations. "Private Property" inherently relates the economic relations and the state relations. The social relation between the capitalist and the worker established by the instrumentality of things is enforced by another social relation of all of them to the agents of the state, standing bodies of armed personnel, prisons, dive bombers, spy planes, wars etc.


>CB: OK. YOU  ARE RIGHT . THIS IS IMPORTANT. YOU ARE MIXED UP LOGICALLY. 
>NOBODY HERE SAYS WE CAN GET RID OF CAPITALISM WITHOUT CHANGING THE 
>RELATIONS OF PRODUCTION AND _ONLY_ "SMASH" THE STATE. WE ARE SAYING BOTH , 
>AND YOU KEEP MISREPRESENTING WHAT WE SAY AS ONLY MAKING POLITICAL CHANGE.
>

Let me humbly say that you DID imply that by destroying state power, poof... 
capitalists are gone.  But I'm glad you are correcting yourself.

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CB: Don't even try it. You are just realizing what I said.


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>THERE IS NO REASON TO CONTINUE THIS UNTIL YOU ACKNOWLEDGE WHAT WE ARE 
>ACTUALLY SAYING ON THIS SPECIFIC POINT.
>

Ok.  As I said in another note, I think we have argued this enough.  Let the 
readers judge.

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CB: You seem to think that we forgot expropriate the expropriators. I quoted that to you.



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