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

From: Dave Zachariah <>
Date: Tue Dec 29 2009 - 09:22:12 EST

Hi Dogan,

On 2009-12-29 14:16, you wrote:
> Some of your points are for political economists by profession.
They are for those who are interested in political economy in general. I
am not an economist by profession. The problem with the article is that
it does not coherently identify the mechanisms.

> So if you approach imperialism as Hobson and Lenin do, then, you are
> able to indicate the driving force behind the expansionism in the
> imperialist stage of capitalism and point out what the solution is. It
> is of course a fact that any form of expansionism involves political,
> cultural, military and so on expansion too.
I hold that the mechanism that Hobson identified behind the drive for
expansionism was correct during the Age of Empire, i.e. 'export of
capital'. But there was also another mechanism at work, namely the
converging interest of the territorial state. Otherwise it would not be
possible to explain why other, lesser developed capitalist states joined
the inter-imperialist rivalry when their internal push for capital
exports were much weaker than Britain's.

However, since the end of WWII the drive for extra-economic coercion by
capitalist states --- what I take as 'imperialism' --- was far weaker
for several reason. The most important reason is that once imperialism
had opened up and enabled market relations, the laws of capitalism could
operate without extra-economic coercion.

I take this to be by far the most important aspect of imperialism, not
to be conflated with capitalism dominated by the rentier interest where
income flows between countries are huge. Consider for instance the fact
that since the mid-1990s the annual incomes payed by the US economy to
the rest of the world were nearly as much as it has received from it.
Suppose this figure where to tip in favour to the rest of the world. Are
we then to conclude that the US is subject to 'imperialism' by Sweden,
the UAE and China? Certainly not, it would be nonsensical to conflate
the extra-economic coercion that is imperialism with the laws of capitalism.

> If you do not use Lenin's theory of imperialism you can hardly explain
> why Iraq is occupied and what happened in international politics
> before it came to the occupation.
I agree. The occupation of Iraq was driven by imperial ambitions by the
US state apparatus.

> The aim of this theory is to attack a certain (reformist) political
> approach in the labour movement.
I can very well understand the political motivation behind the labour
aristocracy theory. But the persistence of this theory owes more to the
political impotence of the small far-Left groups that promote it, than
its scientific validity.

> If you look at the evolution of social democrat movements and analyse
> current development on the left (the rise of Die Linke in Germany,
> Scottish Socialist Party, European Left) you may see clearly that
> these theory is well-founded and still valid.
I have already showed how the notion of a so-called 'bribe' is
ill-founded, that it is a poor explanation of higher incomes whether of
workers at large or of the professional middle-class. Charlie Post's
article shows the shaky theoretical foundation that the entire theory
rests upon.

> In short, if you do not use this theory you will ot be able to explain
> the political orientation of headquarters trade unions in imperialis
> countries.
There are other, more coherent theories available. Post gives one such
theory. I think he is on the right track, but I think there are further
mechanisms that make working-class movement gravitate towards reformism.
Well, that is a subject for a different thread.

//Dave Z

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Received on Tue Dec 29 09:24:35 2009

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