Re: [OPE] Britain--parasitic and decaying capitalism: A comment

From: Dave Zachariah <>
Date: Mon Dec 28 2009 - 15:55:05 EST

Hi David,

On 2009-12-28 17:43, you wrote:
> Why did the US and Britain go to war and occupy Iraq and Afghanistan?
> As I said we are not talking about 'market exchange' but coercion -
> plunder and looting in fact - something quite obvious to the vast
> majority of people in the world.
The occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan are no doubt extra-economic forms
of coercion although the driving forces behind respective occupations
are somewhat different, and to my knowledge very little of the surplus
product in Afghanistan is extracted to Britain or the USA.

> You have ignored my points re state monopoly capitalism
If you by monopoly capitalism mean capitalism dominated by the rentier
interest, I have not ignored them but on the contrary agreed that its
parasitic tendencies are growing.

>> The so-called autonomy of the professional middle classes, who in
>> general belong to the unproductive services sector of the economy, is
>> being rapidly eroded in this crisis as jobs are being rapidly cut.
Then off goes your 'labour aristocracy' as well. You skillfully evaded
the question that I had answered, namely from where does the relatively
higher wages that this class receive come from. But implicitly you
acknowledged the source in your paragraph above---their relatively
stronger bargaining power on the labour market.

I don't know whether you are suggesting that the entire service sector
is unproductive, but if so it can easily be shown that this leads to
nonsensical conclusions when one considers the material reproduction of
society. The extent to which the labour of the professional middle-class
is unproductive is an empirical question.

>> I cannot believe you said this. ["The higher levels of real incomes
>> in the advanced countries are primarily due to the relative
>> development of productive forces there, not the operation of
>> imperialism."] The vast majority of workers in the imperialist
>> countries such as Britain - more than 80% - do not produce value or
>> surplus value. I thought that was obvious.
This is a pretty weak explanation of high real wages in advanced
countries. Your implication is that since so few workers produce surplus
value, the high wage must be derived by exploiting workers in the
developing world. The logical fallacy in this argument is striking.
Empirically, it certainly does not hold for, say, Sweden.

Moreover, I suspect the figure is a statistical illusion on your part.
You are not counting the mass of workers actually involved in
reproducing the real wage vector.

>> Perhaps you also reject the division between productive and
>> unproductive labour.

No, I have previously on OPE-L and elsewhere defended a generalized
concept of un/productive labour.

>> This is simply a tautology. We are talking about imperialism -
>> plunder and looting of the world's resources by a handful of advanced
>> capitlaist countries.
I'm sorry this is just sloganeering. It suits for political rallies but
not in a theoretical discussion.

>> For most people living in the world combating imperialism is a life
>> and death question not a debate or polemic. Perhaps when
>> revolutionaries said and still say that the choice for humanity is
>> socialism or barbarism you think they are exaggerating - sorry but
>> that is the real situation under imperialism - parasitic and
>> decaying capitalism.

Your replies in rhetorical questions and these last two paragraphs made
me realize that you are not very interested in theoretical discussions
here but agitation for the political line with the 'correct' maximalist
slogans. This may appeal some student radicals, but it is not why I join
a list on political economy.

//Dave Z

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Received on Mon Dec 28 16:00:24 2009

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