[Marxism] Thoughts on 8 Theses

S. Artesian sartesian at earthlink.net
Mon Mar 2 08:57:49 MST 2009

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "D OC" <donaloc at hotmail.com>
To: <sartesian at earthlink.net>
Sent: Monday, March 02, 2009 10:48 AM
Subject: Re: [Marxism] Thoughts on 8 Theses

> S, a chara,
> Many thanks for your response.
>> Sure. Mostly I disagree.
> Good. I look forward to the discussion and learning something more.
>> Agree that neo-classical conceptions have crept in-- and most 
>> neo-classical
> of all, and most of the creeping is in this notion of trade imbalances-- 
> trade imbalances neither reflect nor cause breakdowns in capitalism as
> capital-- as the reproduction of expanded value.
> I'm not sure that I mean the same thing as the neo-classical concerns 
> around imbalance but we'll see.
>> As a matter of fact this dependence, reliance, on trade imbalance theory 
>> is
> a little more than neo-classical. It is positively mercantilist. Engels
> wrote an interesting piece in 1843 in the Jahrbucher on the critique of
> political economy; includes a great attack on mercantilist "balance of
> trade" worhippers.
> I will check this out. Someone was recently quoting me sections on this 
> elsewhere. I will come back to you on it. Thanks.
>> The proof, more or less, of the inapplicability of "balance of trade"
> theorizing, you provide when you make the analogy between agriculture and
> city-- absolutely-- cities "import" much more from the countryside than
> they "export" to the countryside-- that's an index to the relative
> development of the city over the countryside-- this doesn't make the city
> financially or economically subservient to the countryside-- to the
> production of exchange value in agriculture. There is no NEED in 
> capitalism
> for balance; for balance between industry and agriculture-- balance is
> necessary in barter, but not in capitalist exchange. Profit is what 
> counts.
> Expanded value. Not balance.
> True. But the balance I speak of is different to that you speak of. There 
> are very many types of balance so it is critical we speak of the same 
> thing. In the case of city-countryside exchange, in a stable capitalist 
> scheme, cities export commodities produced in factories in return for the 
> raw materials produced in fields and mines (for an example). There is 
> balance to the trade in value terms. The cities cannot hope to extract 
> greater value from the rural areas indefinitely and although the trade is 
> imbalanced in relative productivity terms, it is balanced in terms of 
> value exchanged.
> This is precisely not the case in the current international metabolism of 
> trade. By definition, net surplus value is taken (exploited) from 
> capital-dependent countries by those with its surplus. There is an 
> imbalance in value exchanged from third world to first world (imperialist) 
> economies. It is this imbalance that I speak of; not the imbalance of 
> trade spoken of by the vulgar economists - an imbalance defined by 'price' 
> in any case.
>> Financial investment has always been intrinsic to capitalist development,
> just as international, global expansion has always been intrinsic to
> domestic capital investment.
> I don't deny this. What I believe, however, is that this has undergone a 
> 'qualitative' change - about a hundred years ago. Indeed, that is the 
> social basis of 'imperialism' by Lenin. My contention is that the crisis 
> is rooted in the structural changes which have occurred in the social 
> relations of production which remain characteristic of imperialism in the 
> era of 'globalisation'. You may choose to see the root as a falling rate 
> of profit - which I don't deny is a trend - but to bypass that tendency - 
> the imperialists have concentrated production in the third world and 
> accrued both surplus value and super-exploited surplus value as a result. 
> To avoid the polarity of the contradiction in domestic production, they 
> have abstracted to a new and more severe contradiction on a global scale.
> The problem is that that this has allowed the inflation of the financial 
> superstructure and the growth of predatory finance-capital but has left 
> behind the working class in the imperialist core. To some extent, this 
> tendency has been mitigated by social reformist concessions (facilitated 
> by transfer of super-exploited surplus value to the 'privileged' sections 
> of the 'domestic' working class) but also through the extension of credit 
> (itself facilitated by a 'price' inflation on unproductive assets e.g. 
> houses). Of course, all of this occurs in a period of high productivity 
> which has enabled more (in use value terms) to be done with less (in 
> exchange value terms) - but essentially the net transfers in value terms 
> has remained qualititatively the same.
> Of course, the availability of credit and the increasing productivity of 
> labour have enabled wages to be depressed further in imperialist centres 
> (and this also challenges social 'transfers'). So progressively the latter 
> factor  (credit) has became more dominant in enabling consumption to 
> increase.
>> The bulk of the value generated, appropriated
> by the advanced capitalist countries is most certainly NOT value
> expropriated, seized, looted, unequally exchanged from "foreign
> exploitation" if you mean by foreign exploitation-- super-profits derived
> from poorer, less-developed countries. The overwhelming bulk of
> imperialist investment is inter-imperialist, or maybe better
> INTRA-imperialist, the overwhelming source of profits is, again, 
> inter/intra
> imperialist, and is not derived from investments in the less-developed
> countries.
> On what do you base this? No doubt on basis of 'prices'. The reality is 
> that little is produced in imperialist countries but instead they generate 
> a lot of 'value added' through simply repackaging things. Take the 
> blossoming industry of 'supply-chain management'. It is a classic example. 
> Cloth is produced in one country, stitched into garments in another and 
> exported to a third where the customer pays a handsome mark up. The bulk 
> of the profit accrues to the SCM company located in a fourth country. So 
> let's look at price-based 'value added' as the european capitalists call 
> it. The cloth sells for pennys. The garment for perhaps twice or five 
> times that. The consumer pays a massively inflated price many multiples 
> higher. The net profit in price terms accruing to the SCM company is huge 
> relative to the cost of production. The GDP figures you quote will give 
> significant 'value-added' contributions from the service sector, which by 
> definition produces minimal value in marxist terms. Just think about that 
> for a second.
> This happens repeatedly across the global economy in the real world; all 
> over the place. The net impact is that GDPs in the imperialist countries 
> grow at rates considerably above the parallel rate of growth in 'trade 
> deficits' (measured in price terms). From a capitalist perspective, it is 
> sustainable because of the difference is sufficient to enable it the 
> imperialists to continue to borrow to pay off that accumulated trade 
> deficit. The crucial gap in the model is, however, the imperialist end 
> 'consumer'. They are 'paying' for the huge mark-up in price. That is 
> financed from our two sources of 'transfer' identified above and possibly 
> income from a 'service sector' job. The problem is that if the capitalist 
> class is to make sufficient profits as a percentage of investment from 
> this exercise, the only way for this to happen is for consumption to be 
> financed by an expansion in credit.
> In a sense, I therefore agree that the problem is related to the tendency 
> of profit to fall but it is also rooted in the international division of 
> labour. To fail to see the importance of the multi-trillion dollar debt 
> held by the Chinese over the USA is to miss the essence of the 
> contradiction. This is my criticism of the eight theses.
>> Regarding productive cores and advance countries-- US still provides the
> largest portion of the world's industrial production-- about 24-21% [think
> this is a 2007 figure] and even poor old decadent super-annuated Britain 
> has
> a manufacturing sector providing about 15% of GDP-- not very much less 
> than
> France's ratio.
> Again, just how much of this 'production' is simply repackaged production 
> from the third world. What proportion of your figures for UK GDP is made 
> up from 'service sector' production. What does this represent in real 
> value terms? How many components are produced elsewhere,  bought cheap, 
> assembled and then parceled on at a huge price 'markup'? To simply accept 
> 'price' based estimates of GDPs as reflecting underlying 'value' from 
> various sectors is surface only analysis at its worst.
> Even if in the real world, manufacturing and agricultural production 
> provided 90% of GDP - what does that tell you? It says that 10% of the net 
> GDP is directly accumulated from exploitation overseas and that's on the 
> basis of GDP figures alone and a massively inflated figure of 90% as 
> opposed to your 15% - a very poor indicator of what's really happening 
> (which can only be determined by a analysis of gross national consumption 
> as against gross national production). This is the centre of the crisis in 
> my opinion. That differential was sustainable in periods of expanding 
> credit, and expanding growth, but unsustainable in periods of contraction 
> in both growth and credit.
> Anyhow, thanks for your response. I have to get back to work but hope 
> others who know more join in this discussion.
> le meas,
> DoC.
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