[Marxism] China and the Dynamics of Transnational Accumulation

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Jul 29 07:50:10 MDT 2008

Historical Materialism, Vol 14, No 3 (2006)
Martin Hart-Landsberg and Paul Burkett

China and the Dynamics of Transnational Accumulation: Causes and 
Consequences of Global Restructuring

(concluding paragraphs)

Our analysis of China verifies the continuing dynamism of contemporary 
capitalism. That dynamism leads to rapid shifts in the economic fortunes 
of nations and the development of new production and exchange 
relationships within and among countries. Indeed, it is the very 
rapidity of change that leads many to celebrate contemporary capitalism 
as an engine of development. Nonetheless, we believe that a careful 
examination of contemporary dynamics shows that, despite its rapid 
growth and export success, China is not an attractive model of 
development from a working-class perspective. Chinese workers are facing 
increasingly difficult conditions even as they succeed in producing more 

China also does not anchor a development process that is beneficial for 
workers in other countries. Workers throughout East Asia are being 
knitted together in a production process that crosses many borders and, 
in so doing, restructures national activity and resources away from 
meeting domestic needs. Activity and resources are being organised to 
serve export markets out of the region under the direction of 
transnational corporations whose interests are largely in cost reduction 
regardless of the social or environmental consequences. The US economy 
and US labour are also being restructured as part of the same process.

Our analysis of contemporary dynamics also highlights the fact that this 
transnational capitalist restructuring, within which China plays such a 
critical role, is generating tensions and imbalances. For example, 
East-Asian growth is increasingly dependent on ever-greater US trade 
deficits. This trend cannot continue forever. In saying this, we do not 
mean to predict that capitalism has reached some final crisis. Rather, 
our point is that these imbalances will have to be corrected, and 
insofar as the logic of capitalist competition goes unchallenged, 
governments can be expected to manage the resulting economic 
instabilities with policies that will only further worsen living and 
working conditions. In fact, they are likely to generate explanations 
for the necessity of such policies that will deliberately foment racism 
and a destructive nationalism.

Whether workers can develop a response to this situation remains to be 
seen. Clearly, the dynamic nature of the system and the fact that wealth 
is being created tends to mask the destructive nature of the system. So 
does the mainstream perspective on the Chinese experience. We need to 
challenge that perspective and demystify the transnational capitalist 
processes that are reshaping different countries’ economies, in order to 
reveal the capitalist roots of the growing social problems faced by 
workers around the world and the structural imbalances that threaten yet 
further immiseration. Finally, we need to translate this understanding 
into a programme of action that can assist the birth of national, 
regional, and global movements for change that can enable working people 
to reclaim control over their lives.


Additional articles on China:





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