[Marxism] America No. 1?

Joaquín Bustelo jbustelo at bellsouth.net
Sat Mar 5 22:55:05 MST 2005


rrubinelli writes: "Bribery and privilege explanations are not Marxist
explanations.
They are really much more akin to the moral repugnance attitude that
Joaquin offers throughout his communication."

Comment: the U.S. Left will not be worth a piece of used toilet paper until
it looks at things as they ARE, not as they would have them be. To say it
makes no difference whether you are white/anglo or Black/Latino in the U.S.,
whether you are male or female, whether you are legal or "illegal" is to
live in a dream world; to say these differences have no impact is idiotic. 

rrubinelli continues: "The "extraordinary performance" of the US working
class includes the CIO, the Toledo, Flint strikes with armed resistance, the
Teamster Rebellion with the establishment of actual organs of dual power in
the Twin Cities,  the civil rights/black proletarian movement of 50s and
60s, the Lordstown strike, US postal workers strike, transit workers
shutdown of NYC 1980over issues not just of wages and compensation but
social equity and economic justice, Hormel workers, IBP workers,  women
textile, health care, food processing, and semiconductor fabrication
workers' struggle, documented and undocumented workers' struggles.   You
want to write that off as insignificant?  That's exactly what the
bourgeoisie would like you to do.  That's called one-dimensionality."

Comment: Give me a fucking break. "Dual Power" in the "Twin Cities"? Both of
them? Oh my! 

And then there's this idiocy: "the civil rights/black proletarian movement
of 50s and 60s." How one could possibly have missed that this was NOT a
"proletarian movement" but a *national* movement is beyond me. Next thing
we'll be hearing about "revolutionary integrationism." 

Then there's the laundry list of strikes of the last few decades. Look at
the scale, scope and especially the political dimension of these movements
and tell me with a straight face you really think there's been motion
towards a class-for-itself movement in the United States. Because, frankly,
things look quite the *opposite* to me. The unions have been losing members
for decades; the number of large-scale strikes has been declining for
decades; the number of days lost due to strike action has been declining for
decades. There's not been a *serious* attempt to organize the unorganized
for decades, and the main proposals before the AFL-CIO executive council
this week were all along the lines of corporate restructuring, not of
leading the social movement of a class and its allies.

Unions hire nice white kids out of college, mostly boys, who think in terms
of market share and whose idea of forceful action is to embarrass the bosses
before other nice white middle-class college grads by handing out leaflets
on their misdeeds. This is what passes for "militancy."

As Lenin noted, the sorts of events pointed to by rr are the bourgeois
politics of the working class: they do not trespass beyond the narrowest of
bourgeois frameworks. The first real step of a class movement is the
establishment of its own political party. This the U.S. working class has
been completely *unable* to do, and the revolutionary socialist left, which
ought to have focused its efforts there, has shown itself unable to overcome
the narrowest circle spirit, preferring playing at building a plague of
"Leninist" parties to placing themselves at the service of the objective
needs of the class movement.

The working class movement in the United States has not yet *begun.* The
reasons for this need real thought and study, not empty bluster about "dual
power" in Minneapolis. 

rr insists that "Profits from international operations have not
exceeded 33% of  total, usually at the 25% mark, and the overwhelming
portion of that minority comes from operations in developed, European,
Canadian  and Japanese operations."

And your point is ...?

I said the privileged position of U.S. workers in relation to the rest of
the world is due to things like unequal exchange, monopoly rents and U.S.
domination of world financial markets. He claims monopoly rents are mainly
to be found in oil, and that profits from international operations aren't
all that big anyways.

Monopoly rents are to be found in fields far afield from Petroleum ones, and
especially in the area of "intellectual property." For example, DVD players
carry patent royalties of about $10 per player. If you look at a typical DVD
player selling for approximately $60 retail in the U.S., the wholesale price
is likely to be under $40, and given the long transportation from China to
the retailer, the ex-factory price is probably around $30, of which 1/3rd.,
by this rough, back-of-the-envelope calculation, are "intellectual property"
monopoly rents and probably significantly less than a dollar is the local
manufacturer's profit. Thus the portion of the surplus value that goes to
the imperialists is ten, twenty or thirty times that which goes to the local
capitalist. 

As for bourgeois productivity figures cited by rr, these make no sense. They
try to capture the change in "value added," in dollar terms, of an hour of
labor. However, if you start from the viewpoint that it is precisely the
amount of socially necessary labor that determines on average the economic
value of the commodities produced by that labor, then there *should be* no
change in the amount of monetary value created by an hour of labor; instead,
the price would tend to change to reflect the lessened amount of labor.

That this in fact is what happens is shown by the pricing history of
electronic products over the past quarter century. Whatever it is that
bourgeois productivity figures show, it is not the increase in physical
well-being if that is measured in the quantity of goods and services
available to the average person. I *think* what they show is the
increasingly unequal exchange between the imperialist countries and
especially the U.S. and the third world, that's what my gut tells me, but it
would take someone with a lot more structured understanding of the world
economy and time to research and write than I have to prove it.

Joaquín





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