[Marxism] America No. 1?

Joaquín Bustelo jbustelo at bellsouth.net
Sat Mar 5 08:45:00 MST 2005

Replying one by one to rrubinelli 

>>1. How do any of these "traits" of  US capitalism differ from the
historical traits of US capitalism during its period of ascent?...

Because they are not compensated for or accompanied by a major expansion of
productive forces nor a transformation of technique.

>>2. How do any of these traits of US capitalism differ from the traits of
capitalism worldwide? 

My impression is the Europeans and Japanese are not as arrogant, as
ignorant, or as self-deluded. That said, these traits aren't exclusive to
the U.S.

>>3. It's all very nice and liberal for Joaquin to say that some of his best
friends are Americans, but would he let his daughter marry one?

I have no plans to interfere with my daughters' choices of partners.

>>4. Right now the US is not kept afloat but foreign flows of capital.
The US is kept afloat by the superior profitability of its corporations, a
function of its superior ability to exploit its domestic working class.  You
can look it up.

The "superior profitability" of U.S. corporations is a result of mechanisms
like unequal exchange and monopoly rents. 

>>5.  Why would anyone think that al Qaeda has not been, wasn't, is not now
penetrated, if not owned and operated, by the US?  

Yes, wouldn't it be pretty to think so. But this penchant for conspiracy
theories is just another aspect of the way religious thinking permeates U.S.

>>6. Reproposing the old notion, floated of course during America's ascent,
that working class is completely absorbed into the reproduction of American
barbarism,  politically indistinguishable from the ruling class is now, as
it was then,  a measure of the "left's" own one-dimensionality, not that of
the working class.

I'm not sure what rr's theory about this is. What he states isn't anything
that sounds like anything I believe.

But unless one were to abandon Marxism or revise it at its very core so much
as to not make any difference, you have to have a materialist explanation
for the extraordinary performance of the U.S. working class over the past
couple of hundred years and especially the lifetimes of the generations
presently living.

The idea that the working class can be seduced by, or "bribed" as Lenin put
it, or poisoned by privilege is one with a long pedigree in the movement
going back to Engels at least as an explicit theory and continued, updated
and generalized for the imperialist epoch by Lenin. Further work on the
economic, sociological, psychological, and other dimensions of this was done
especially in the United States around concepts like "white skin privilege"

Moreover, it is supported by facts -- tables of wage differentials and other
measures of the standard of living by sex, race/nationality, and across
countries. We are, of course, free to ignore all this by insisting that "in
the last analysis" and "in the long run" being Americanists, i.e.,
identifying with the policies and role of the U.S. in the world, being
sexist, being white supremacist, being nativist, etc., does not correspond
to the "real interests" of even the most privileged layer of white workers. 

But limiting yourself to that means pretty much limiting your intervention
to some sort of holding operation, waiting for the conditions that made it
possible for the ruling class to poison the working class this way to

Call it "voluntarism" or "Guevaraism," but I believe the job of
revolutionaries is not just to wait for the objective conditions to ripen,
but to contributing to changing conditions that, relative to the size of the
revolutionary forces, seem to be "objective" and beyond our control. 


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