[OPE-L:6039] imperialism: another reply to Fred

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@stanford.edu)
Date: Tue Oct 02 2001 - 21:22:44 EDT

in terms of fred's thesis that US military deployment is meant to ensure the 
outflow of cheap oil rather than the outflow of petrodollars, he may be right 
to the extent that Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have historically sought to increase 
supply in times of deep global recession so that the terms of trade turn even 
more unfavorably against the OPEC countries (they had declined precipitously 
before the 1973-74 price hikes). That is, US influence over its allies (saudi 
arabia, kuwait, uae, bahrain, etc) allow it to guarantee at critical junctures 
not the supply but the oversupply of oil which by turning the terms of trade 
against raw material exporting nations becomes a powerful counter-tendency to 
the falling rate of profit.  

At the same time, the US oil companies have found its own domestic and other 
(e.g., Mexican) investments in future production jeopardized by too cheap a 
price of oil even as cheap oil serves as a powerful countertendency to the FROP 
in the short term.  So it is not that the US capital simply wants an (overly) 
plentiful cheap oil from the Middle East (the crash in the price of oil in the 
early 80s almost led to Mexican default and a global financial meltdown). It 
wants to regulate the supply in a way that suits its own industrial economy 
first and then the advanced industrial economies in general at the expense of 
raw material exporters.         

The pricing of oil in dollars and the way in which petrodollars have been 
recycled again also put the raw material exporting countries at the service of 
American capital.   

I would thus say that US policy is best understood not in the use value terms 
of guaranteeing an adequate physical supply of oil (Fred's interpretation) but 
in the economic value terms of ensuring that raw material exporting countries 
can be used to beat off the falling rate of profit (i.e., the terms of trade 
can be turned massively against them at crucial conjuctures in the economic 
cycle--note what happened in the Asia panic--and their wealth can be siphoned 
off when demand and oil prices recover)--that is, a Lenin-Grossmann 

 But Fred, like so many other Marxists, has allowed imperialism (terms of 
trade, siphoning of wealth) to disappear from their analysis of advanced 
industrial capitalism. In fact, imperialism plays NO role in Fred's or  
Brenner's analysis of how American capitalism achieved an important upturn in 
its profit rate.

Marxism has become fatally eurocentric in the advanced capitalist countries. 


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