[Marxism] Question

Octob1917 at aol.com Octob1917 at aol.com
Fri Aug 27 09:20:42 MDT 2004


In a message dated 8/27/2004 2:30:58 AM Pacific Daylight Time, 
edgeorge at usuarios.retecal.es writes:
If we us assume that the social character of the 'people's democracies'
of Eastern Europe and the USSR was not capitalist (and I'm not
interested in the debate as to whether or not they were, neither am I
interested here in how we would characterise these societies - as
post-capitalist, transitional, socialist, whatever); and if we assume
that capitalism has now been restored (and, again, here I'm not
interested in discussing whether or not it has), clearly, global capital
has to some degree gained ideologically and politically from this
restoration: but what has been the *economic* effect on capital on a
world scale? Has global capital - i.e. capital as a whole,
internationally - benefited economically in a direct way; and, if it
has, how?

I agree with Marv that European corpporations have benefited to some extent 
from a supply of cheap labor and resources heralded by the collapse of the 
'socialist bloc' in Eastern Europe. There has been some convuslion economically, 
however, in Germany, forced as it was back in 1988/89 to merge a moribund East 
German economy into its own. Even today that process has not been completed 
and the standard of living in Germany as a whole remains worse, in economic 
terms, than it did before unification, with the West German taxpayer/worker having 
to support his or her East German counterpart.

But you cannot separate capitalism's economic aspect from its social in my 
opinion. The collpase of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc resulted in a 
massive population shift from East to West, which in turn placed more pressure 
on, not only the national economies of nations such as France, Germany and the 
UK (swallowing this influx of new immigrants and having to pay out more in the 
form of various state benefits) but also with respect to housing, healthcare, 
and other social services. Many of the immigrants from Eastern Europe slotted 
into Western Europe's black economy and crime figures increased as a 
consequence.

Finally, this new pool of readily available cheap labor has served to depress 
the wages and conditions of workers throughout the whole of Europe, who now 
have to compete. Ultimately, it is only big business and investors across 
Europe who've benefited from the collapse, while workers and the poor, both in 
Eastern and Western Europe, have suffered.  

Joe



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