[Marxism] Bukharin clears it all up

james pitman marinercarpentry at gmail.com
Thu Jun 28 02:32:28 MDT 2012

I agree with Dave in that a lot of the psychology of short-termism comes
from the financial sector, and there's a tension between industrial capital
and financial capital. So financial capital steamrollers over governments,
seeks complete deregulation and complete mobility. Industrial capital
however, talks about capital flight and deregulation, but the reality is
that a lot of this is rhetoric used as leverage to make governments act and
to justify themselves to the public; in fact, industrial capital relies
upon a much closer relationship with the state than they'd care to admit,
implementing protectionism to ward off foreign competition, tightening
labour law etc.

But its the financial sector that have the ears of our politicians in a
much bigger way than big industrial capital, as an obvious residue of the
neoliberal project. I suppose the way GM and Chrysler etc started to make
more money from the markets than car sales points to this. But the
difficulty for any economy sustaining this bias would be that its becoming
more divorced of productive labour, and unless we throw out  LTV for
theories of self-expanding capital, immaterial labour and other bollocks,
then its obvious this will be deeply problematic for any economy. Its akin
to letting the tail wag the dog or more precisely the parasite control the
On 28 June 2012 09:02, dave x <dave.xx at gmail.com> wrote:

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> On Tue, Jun 26, 2012 at 12:35 PM, Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com> wrote:
> >
> >
> > As I pointed out in my comment, there is absolutely no indication that
> the
> > ruling class of today is willing to act in its own long-term interests.
> If
> > serious financial re-regulation is the only way to avoid a new financial
> > meltdown, why is it so hard for Wall Street to back serious reform? If
> > “fracking” will unleash carcinogens in the water supply that will cause
> > cancer for the rich and poor alike, why won’t the billionaires who live
> on
> > Park Avenue do something to protect our waterways?
> >
> I agree with this insight and in fact think that it needs to be taken
> as a starting point for any serious analysis of 'where we are today',
> but I think that this quote from Bukharin is thought provoking hardly
> 'clears it all up'. For that we would need a much more involved
> analysis of the various forms of modern rentier capitalism and their
> associated dynamics. Maybe this analysis exists, certainly I know
> their are hints of it in Harvey's discussion of financialization.
> Bukharin's account of the outlook of rentierism seems overly
> psychological though I admit I have not read his entire analysis.
> Certainly I can imagine that traditional agrarian forms of rentierism
> were not very forward looking but then again that may have as much to
> do with the dynamics of agrarianism as it does with rentierism. If in
> rentierism we are discussing modern financial rentierism, the
> rentierism of the banks, hedge funds, etc, then it seems to me that
> there are at least a couple different dynamics to take into account.
> One is an impetus to extreme short term thinking driven traditionally
> by the quarterly cycle of the stock market (It is anecdotally well
> known how a company's behavior becomes more driven by short term gain
> at the expense of long term well being after going public, certainly
> it was true of Borders Books where I used to work) and exacerbated by
> the computerization of finance where profit is derived from all sorts
> of extreme short term hedging and manipulation.
> Another dynamic, perhaps somewhat less significant, but still
> interesting, works in the other direction. Rentierism drives a search
> for new revenue streams and new forms of revenue, higher 'ROI', etc.
> One result of this is all sorts of speculative investment in the hopes
> of striking a motherload. Silicon valley and is a prime example of
> this, completely awash in all sorts of venture capital. I recently
> read that even Justin Bieber (!) now fancies himself a venture
> capitalist. This sort of rentierism can be very forward looking, even
> to the point of sheer fantasy. Also there is the Ad-based rentierism
> of the Google and Facebook varieties that also has certain dynamic,
> more forward-oriented characteristics.
> Another thing that seems off in Bukharin's discussion (though perhaps
> less central to this discussion) is his discussion of the forward
> looking nature of the proletariat. Today a scientific outlook seems
> ever more the province of a narrow, somewhat privileged and isolated
> strata of professional workers while much of the (at least in core
> countries) decaying traditional proletariat has embraced various forms
> of nostalgia, backwardness and fantasy (perhaps largely driven by the
> collapse of alternatives to the existing order under neoliberalism).
> At the very least current circumstances make it difficult to take the
> traditional marxist association of a scientific outlook and the
> proletariat for granted.
> My own thought as to why the capitalist class seems unable to act in
> its own (not even so long term) interests is that it is bound up in
> two propositions. One that capitalism depends importantly on the State
> for both legitimation and for purposes of its own regulation and long
> term health. Two that capitalism has in some meaningful sense
> globalized itself to the point where even the largest and most
> powerful states such as the US or Germany can no longer provide this
> role of legitimation and regulation  (in many ways neoconservatism can
> viewed as the last gasp of this approach). The minimum entity that
> could accomplish something like this now would be the G20, but this is
> the loosest form of federalism. Capitalism is global and all of the
> fundamental problems and challenges it faces are global and any
> conceivable solution to them would also have to be global. Yet
> capitalism has no effective way currently of organizing and carrying
> out a global response to these issues or indeed any sort of global
> initiative or regulation. I do not believe that it is in principle
> impossible for capitalism to develop some more effective means of
> global coordination and self regulation and even perhaps new forms of
> global legitimation but is far from obvious how this might come about.
> Until or unless it does I think that continual crisis (with all its
> attendant destabilizing effects) will be the order of the day.
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