[Marxism] Imperialism and the US working class (Was YADL)

J.M.P.Cloke at lboro.ac.uk J.M.P.Cloke at lboro.ac.uk
Sun Apr 5 15:02:19 MDT 2009

Much as I truly hate to agree with Sartesian, he (she? 
It?) is quite right. The average relative wage in the UK 
and the USA across a range of manufacturing and industrial 
sectors declined steadily from the mid-1970s onwards and 
the gini coefficient increased correspondingly. What the 
Thatcher governments in the UK and all of the subsequent 
ones achieved was a dramatic change in the shape of wealth 
distribution; from being (roughly) a pyramid-shaped wealth 
distribution in the late 1970s in the UK the distribution 
of wealth assumed a roughly hour-glassed shape, with 
(critically) those in the middle-classes able to take 
advantage of the increasing privatization and 
liberalization initiatives effectively bribed by 
successive governments to abandon what used to be referred 
to as 'the post-war consensus', better-known as one-nation 

When new Labour acceded to power they arrested the growing 
gap between the richest and the poorest for a while, not 
by addressing the poverty trap in which the lowest deciles 
of the population live, but by re-adjusting the tax burden 
and the benefits system so that the bottom deciles, whilst 
not improving their lot, at least didn't get very much 
worse off. That too has been reversed in the last few 
years of the neo-liberal experiment so ably conducted by 
Mr Blair and the gini coefficient in the UK continues to 
get worse. What this inequality of wealth distribution 
also means (as the UK Guardian recently showed with a 
stunning set of graphics) is that all of those social 
well-being factors concerned with wealth distribution, 
which is really everything from health, education, mental 
health through to crime, worsen as inequality gets worse. 
The UK and the US are amongst the very worst globally 
across a range of factors (imprisonment rates, alcoholism, 
mental health, teenage pregnancy) as a direct result of 
the inequality encouraged by the socio-economic regimes 
through which the neoliberal ideology is expressed in 
those countries - small wonder that belief-based politics, 
economics and science are becoming so popular, where 
real-life politics, economics and science are such a 
cluster fuck.

The undoubted wealth of rich countries of the global North 
conforms more to a kind of internal dependency theory (a 
la Frank), in which cities, regions and ethnicities are 
marginalized as part of an essential dynamic within 
globalizing capitalism, which is to say that (as many 
commentators have written) the nation-state has not become 
meaningless, just far less relevant as a way of describing 
and picturing the superstructure through which the dynamic 
flows of oppression and exploitation are channeled through 
cities, economic activities client to financial 
hyperglobalism and elite groupings.    

Jon Cloke

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