[Marxism] We all agree the world is round - additional comment

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at tomaatnet.nl
Tue Feb 3 15:12:09 MST 2004

I wrote:

I prefer myself a more straightforward approach, according to which the
"system" just refers to the capitalist world market governed by a
relationship between imperialist countries, semi-industrialised countries
and semi-colonial countries, where the pattern of domination and power has
various modalities: economic, military, political, cultural, social,
ideological etc.

The terms "semi-industrialised countries and semi-colonial countries" I used
may not be adequate labels, not simply because of the "semi" bit, but
because, in the last two decades, the relative positions of the different
nations has changed a lot, as Lula would say. According to some Marxists,
you have these categories such as "imperialist country, intermediate
country, semi-industrialised dependent country, semi-colonial country" and
so on, and then a country must fit into one of these categories for the sake
of theoretical coherence, just as e.g. UN agencies divide countries into
"developed countries", "developing countries" etc. according to economistic

This however is not my approach, it's not primariy a classificatory
exercise, what we have to look at is what the role and place of countries in
the international capitalist chain actually is, and verify that empirically.
What is true is, that the capitalist world market, and states acting in that
world market, establish a power hierarchy of nations, based on national
productivity, trading relations, political dominance and military clout. It
is this, that is the objective basis for the ideology of imperialism, the
framework within which the imperialist subject asserts itself, the cold and
brutal assertion of national interests in the capitalist world market in
according with the evolving balance of power and political forces and a
calculus of economic advantage.

The aim of the distinctions made by Marxists, is to say that basically the
world situation hasn't changed much since Lenin's time, insofar as the
overwhelming economic dominance of the USA, Europe and Japan still blocks,
or acts as a brake to the development of poorer countries, who simply cannot
compete technologically, productivity-wise and in terms of trading
relations. That is no longer completely true, as the case of the NIC's
demonstrates, what you can say, is that the industrialisation that does
occur in the NIC's, is not really a balanced economic development reflecting
the real structure of needs of the local population either, but an uneven
and combined development, such that high technology, large-scale industries
in some sectors coexist with relatively traditional small-scale industries
and traditional peasant-type agriculture.
Capitalism is incapable of balanced development in space and time. That
requires socialist coordination, majority rule and planning.

In other words, that the way the world division of work evolves, is still
dominated to a great extent by the requirements and financial power of the
rich countries, a development accentuated by deregulation, which integrates
countries more and more into the capitalist world economy through wars and
bargaining, at the expense of some social classes which just don't benefit
from that development at all, and are to a large extent excluded from it
(which is reflected in the specific class structure and income distribution
which develops).

In discussing the nature of the late-bourgeois epoch, Lenin never denied the
possibility of spurts of growth in the imperialist system (cf. his pamphlet
on imperialism); his point was rather that the range of extremes of economic
and human development tends to grow regardless, such that, at the one end,
people with luminous intelligence are reaching for the stars, while at the
other end, people are crapping out from hunger and disease, and are crawling
around in disgusting, filthy poverty.

Which is a basic premiss of socialist theory: left to its own devices, the
"market mechanism" will always tend to exascerbate socio-economic
inequality, since the strong outcompete the weak in trading processes, along
every dimension of strength and weakness (although the dominating countries
in geopolitics of course to some extent can impose definitions of what
"strength and weakness" are, which distorts the real human picture).


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