[Marxism] Forwarded from Michael Yates

Craven, Jim jcraven at clark.edu
Wed Nov 26 10:43:38 MST 2003

Beautifully done and summed up Michael. And I'll be seeing you Dec 1st to
teach my classes; my students are looking forward to it and for the first
time, praised a book they were required to read--"Naming the System"

The the real nature and intentions of the doctrine of comparative advantage
is best summed-up in the classic poem by Bertolt Brecht:

Those who take the meat from the table,
   teach contentment.
Those for whom the taxes are destined,
   demand sacrifice.
Those who eat their fill, speak to the hungry,
   of wonderful times to come.
Those who lead the country into the abyss,
   call ruling too difficult,
   for ordinary folk.

Bertolt Brecht.

So the poor countries (no history here as to why they got poor and are kept
poor; never use those nasty words like imperialism, colonialism,
neo-colonialism etc) get to "specialize" and "trade" in those commodities
that they can produce at a lower "opportunity cost" (comparative advantage)
than other potential trading "partners" (non-renewable resources,
low-wage/low-value-added/low-priced/volatile-price handicrafts and
semi-manufactures) and they get to import (for their elites squandering
scarce foreign exchange earnings)
high-wage/high-tech/high-priced/high-value-added luxuries, manufactures,
physical capital, information, mind-numbing "entertainment etc. exported
from the so-called "developed" nations and regions who get to "specialize"
in that for which they have a comparative advantage. It is all part of the
"natural" [imperial] order and supposedly produces the greatest "win-win"
with the greatest "efficiency".

No one on anything resembling "the left" could embrace/pimp this pernicious
construct/theory. This concept was effectively taken apart many years ago in
Agghiri Emmanuel's "Unequal Exchange" and many other books on the same

Beautifully articulated Michael.

Jim C.

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