[Marxism] A flattening world?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Mar 1 08:40:46 MST 2006

WIRED: What do you mean the world is flat?
THOMAS FRIEDMAN: I was in India interviewing Nandan Nilekani at Infosys. 
And he said to me, "Tom, the playing field is being leveled." Indians and 
Chinese were going to compete for work like never before, and Americans 
weren't ready. I kept chewing over that phrase - the playing field is being 
leveled - and then it hit me: Holy mackerel, the world is becoming flat. 
Several technological and political forces have converged, and that has 
produced a global, Web-enabled playing field that allows for multiple forms 
of collaboration without regard to geography or distance - or soon, even 

full: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.05/friedman.html


"In contrast to the economic systems which preceded it, capitalism 
inherently and constantly aims at economic expansion, at the penetration of 
new territories, the surmounting of economic differences, the conversion of 
self-sufficient provincial and national economies into a system of
financial interrelationships. Thereby it brings about their *rapprochment* 
and *equalizes the economic and cultural levels of the most progressive and 
the most backward countries*. Without this main process, it would be 
impossible to conceive of the levelling out, first, of Europe with Great 
Britain, and then, of America with Europe; *the industrialization of the 
colonies, the diminishing gap between India and Great Britain* [...] 
Imperialism links up incomparably more rapidly and more deeply the 
individual national and continental units into a single entity, bringing 
them into the closest and most vital dependence upon each other and 
rendering their economic methods, social forms, and levels of development 
more identical. At the same time, it attains this "goal" by such 
antagonistic methods, such tiger-leaps, and such raids upon backward 
countries and areas that the *unification and levelling of world economy* 
which it has effected, is upset by it even more violently and convulsively 
than in the preceding epochs."

Trotsky, 1929, The Draft Programme of the Communist International
(reprinted in The 3rd International After Lenin, New Park edition, 1974, pp
15 - 16) emphases added.


What would happen if current growth rates in developing and industrial 
countries were to persist? How quickly would developing countries overtake 
the United States in per capita income? Using the data for the 93 
developing countries for which the World Development Report 1995 reports 
income growth rates for 1980­93, we calculated how long it would take 
various countries to achieve three levels of income: their own peak income 
level; the current income level of high-income countries; and the average 
future income of high-income countries, assuming that high-income countries 
also continue to grow.

First, more than half of the developing countries had negative growth 
during 1980­93. These countries are not gaining on anything--their incomes 
are converging only on the floor of subsistence. Unless their growth rates 
accelerate, they will never reach even their previous peaks. (The reported 
data are, if anything, optimistic about the number of countries with 
negative growth, as many of the countries that do not report data fail to 
do so because of internal and external strife.)

Second, many developing countries had positive growth rates during 1980­93, 
but in more than four-fifths of these countries growth rates were still 
lower than the average (2.2 percent) registered by the high-income 
countries. Moreover, many developing countries grew slowly after suffering 
recessions during the 1980s. Against this admittedly pessimistic background 
and assuming unchanged growth rates, if Brazil, for example, were to grow 
annually only at its 1980­93 pace of 0.3 percent, it would take 33 years 
for the country to regain its own previous income peak, and 487 years 
before it achieved the current income level of the high-income countries.

Third, a few developing countries were actually "converging," that is, they 
were growing faster than the United States. When are these lucky 
"convergers" going to overtake the United States? India, for example, 
registered an annual average growth rate of 3 percent between 1980 and 
1993. If India could sustain this pace for another 100 years, its income 
would reach the level of high-income countries today. And, if India can 
sustain this growth differential for 377 years, my 
grandchildren will be alive to see India's income level "converge."

full: http://www.worldbank.org/fandd/english/0696/articles/090696.htm



More information about the Marxism mailing list