thinking out loud
markjones011 at tiscali.co.uk
Thu Jul 25 11:05:37 MDT 2002
Ed, I agree with most of what you say altho might cavil a bit about when
the ' heyday of British [=pan-European] international economic dominance'
began. Earlier than the 1840s at any rate.
I take your point about the real depth of Chinese industrialisation being
still an unknown, but I should have thought that a key difference with
soviet industrialisation is the way the Chinese economy forms part of the
world market; the USSR never tried to compete on that terrain. Europe also
is obviously a potential threat to US hegemony, but Europe is not as
competitive as China, and it's the relentless and savage competition
between Chinese and other capitals which underlies the extreme ferocity and
prolonged severity of the present world deflation. Deflation is the Chinese
secret weapon in its silent war with the west, if it isn't too melodramatic
to put it like this.
I also agree that there may not be a smooth transition to a successor
hegemon, there may be chaos, joint condominium, and in either case an
upswing concurrently. There was a partial recovery in the 1930s B-phase and
this was precisely the period (and most people do not remember) when
crucial new industries developed: plastics, agri-chem, pharmaceuticals,
electronics, automobiles, industrial food processing etc. That seems to be
the most likely outcome, ie that a prolonged and distinct phase of
capitalist history may ensue when US hegemony is fading with no obvious
successor in sight. In fact we appear already to be well into this phase.
But where I most strongly agree with you is that what is unique about the
American imperium is that it may be impossible to reproduce, ie, it may be
most probable that no capitalist power or constellation of powers could
ever succeed it and that therefore this is the capitalist endgame. I
strongly believe this. The most compelling thing about the current world
system is not that it is volatile, unstable and grossly inequitable, but
that above all it is profoundly, physically, unsustainable--and the pursuit
of chimerical will-o-the-whisps of 'sustainable capitalism' only serves to
illustrate that fact. Capitalist accumulation has already reached a
This is important to argue from an agitational, organisational point of
view and not just as a matter of theory. There is huge and growing scope
for political organisation and for the founding and development of working
class and revolutionary organisations and parties during this period of
endemic slump and stagnation and of bitter and black political reaction.
The massification and concentration of political knowledge, the formation
of durable and reliable political networks, the creation of common
platforms and shared assumptions, are the tasks before us all, from
whatever background we hail. And IMO we should abandon false and blind
dichotomies between caricaturised alternative traditions ('Leninism' v.
spontaneism etc) because it is absolutely obvious that there must be and
there will be organisation, and command-centres--the more the merrier, let
our systems have huge built in redundancy. It is obvious that there will be
terrific power struggles within the movement and that errors and worse will
be committed: that is inevitable but it is no reason to fear organisation
or to be passive. There will be blinkered sectarianism of the type which
Lou excoriates as Zinovievist, but there can be and there will be genuine
political organisations as well, and fear of sectarianism should not blind
us to the need for real organisation. Organizations may emerge
spontaneously and haphazardly thru genuine struggles but only when our
political organisations acquire a permanent and authentic life of their
own, will we progress beyond accidental and contingent struggles on terrain
not of our own choosing, and only then will we really take the battle to
the enemy. But this is all obvious in present company so I won't go on.
At 25/07/2002 16:07, you wrote:
>Mark: first of all, as I said before, I thought your post was really
>very thought-provoking and useful. It has seemed to me before that we
>need to have this kind of 'through what stage are we passing' discussion
>a little more often than we do. So though I might add caveats to what
>you say and criticise certain aspects, please treat this as another
>piece of thinking out loud.
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