Social Structures of Accumulation

Xxxx Xxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx at
Sat Sep 8 15:03:01 MDT 2001

Sid, these are quite self-evident concepts in IPE literature. I am too busy
to give details now, but it is all about the political economy of pre and
post WWII period. I did not even intend to check my e-mail today. For a
better explanation of the issues (as well as "Gramscian historical
materialism"), read Stephen Gill and David Law's_The Global Political
Economy, Pijl's _Transnational Classes and International Relations_  and
_The Making of an Atlantic Ruling Class_.

1) As a tip, "corporate liberalism" refers to "class compromise model" of
the Keynesian welfare state (ie., ruling class concessions to working
classes; trade union bargaining; higher wages, better working conditions,
etc). It is a kind of reformed capitalism as a means of making capitalism
safe for capital. The international framework of this model was first
designed in the Bretton Woods system (1944-1973), which aimed to reconcile
American monetary expansionism abroad (Marshall plan due to cold war) with
containment of labor power at home. One consequence of this system was to
introduce inflationary expansion of the dollar into the international flow
of money. It did so by establishing a US led system built around the
recognition of the dollar as the "dominant" international currency. The
dollar and gold were to be used interchangeably-- the dollar being
convertible to gold at a fixed parity and national currencies tied to
dollar at a fixed exchange rate. This was made possible because of the
overwhelming strength of the US economy ( the US was the only country
holding sufficient gold reserves among its allies at the end of the war)..
in any event, corporate liberalism began to disintegrate as the dominant
model of capital accumulation in the late 1960s. Not only it became
impossible to contain class conflict nationally due to increasing costs of
containing labor, but also the flight of US capital to Eurodollar markets
(60s) increased the volatility of the world monetary system and led to the
crisis of Keynesianism (ie., US suffering from budget deficits; private
corporate debt; declining industrial profits). The Fed was technically
bankrupt ; it lacked sufficient gold supplies to back up flooded dollars in
off shore markets. As international mobility of US capital began to
undermine Keynesian policies at home,  US hegemonic imperialism bounced
backed.. US "responded" to the crisis of 1971-73  by closing the gold
window (with a transition to floating exchange rate regime in 1973) and
adopting "neo-liberal" economic policies (lower wages, deregulation of wage
protection, cuts in welfare expenditures, high interest rates). It did so
to strengthen the link between exploitation of labor and money. Another
solution to the crisis was to move production abroad, especially to third
world countries with cheap sources of labor and new profits.This briefly
explains the "reconsolidation" of  the US hegemony under a "neo-liberal
model" of accumulation . Today, the "resistance" to the system in the form
of  financial crisis, poverty and global inequalities, however, shows that
neo-liberalism is no longer a viable or sustainable strategy for capitalism
either.. but somehow, as Peter Gowan would say, the US centered "Dollar
Wall-Street  regime"  reproduces itself, both  politically and

2) "Liberal internationalism" refers to the dominance of British leadership
in world capitalism up until the early 20th century. There was gold
standard under British, but no dominant/ international tradable currency
like the dollar. US abondened gold standart after the Great Depression.
Some argue that the establishment of dollar as the standard currency (fixed
to gold) gave capitalism some form of stability under the Bretton Woods. As
to other differences, British generally followed a policy of free trade,
whereas US, in the early development of its capitalism, resorted to a fair
amount of protectionist economic policies (under Hamilton) to advance its

3) "State monopoly capitalism" describes capital accumulation in a
non-hegemonic world between two world wars. In Lenin's observations, it is
a situation of acute inter-imperialist rivalry over world's resources and
mercantilism (protectionism in trade). In addition, Austro Marxist,
Hilferding, defines monopoly capitalism as finance capital-- fusion of
industrial and bank capital-- which Hilferding observed as a fundamental
force behind the establishment of  state capitalism in Germany. We
discussed the problems with Hilferding's analysis before, so you can check
the list archives on this. (For example, Hilferding mistakenly
universalizes the finance capital model. In the US, however, the "fusion"
of bank and corporations hardly exists (even at the time of Hilferding)
because of the legal context of capitalism (anti-trust laws) as well as the
fragmented, less regulated and competitive nature of financial markets.
Arrighi well  illustrates this issue in his book _Long 20th century_

4) As far as the *US* political economy is concerned, one should not
confuse, "state monopoly capitalism" (mercantilism) with "corporate
liberalism" (Keynesianism). They both serve US hegemonic purposes, but
slightly differently. In foreign policy, Keynesians resort to
"multilateral" discourse of liberal internationalism (ie., America's
"peaceful" involvement in international politics through "humanitarian
imperialist" aid, WB, IMF, UN, military as a last resort, etc....) At the
domestic level, they favor "market" controls in order to regulate class
conflict (albeit with successes or failure), but they do not, as state
monopoly capitalists, "deliberately" support  "protectionism" in trade or
"uniletaralism" (Realpolitik) in foreign relations (for the "bourgeois"
fear that mercantilism leads to extremes like fascism and communism.
Keynes' writing on free trade in 1933 is very revealing of his bourgeois
suspicion of the "totalitarian" consequences of the market, if capitalism
is not managed. After all, neither corporate liberalism nor state monopoly
capitalism is the dominant discourse of US or international political
economy at the moment. Liberalization of markets is making state capitalism
or protectionism of any sort quite unlikely (given intense "lobbying" by
capitalists in the US). Furthermore, US hegemony has hardly been
protectionist except under extraordinary circumstances (like Great
Depression) or early stages of American capitalism.

there is no clear cut line between these "types" of class rule. Their
formation depends on the nature of  domestic/ international class conflict,
ideology in power, the balance of power among nations , international
dynamics etc..

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

> (1) liberal internationalism (British hegemony)
> (2) state monopoly tendency
> (3) corporate liberalism
> (4) neo-liberalism
> Sid
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