[OPE-L:2637] Re: assumptions, assumptions, assumptions

glevy@pratt.ed (glevy@pratt.edu)
Wed, 10 Jul 1996 17:09:14 -0700 (PDT)

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Mike W. responded to some of my questions in [OPE-L:2636] and asked:

> Would you want to make a case that many nation states and foreign trade were
> systemically NECESSARY to the reproduction of the capitalist economy and the
> bourgeois epoch? The issue can only be settled by immersion in the available
> information about foreign trade, in the light of the systematic
> conceptualisation, but there are reasons to suspect that the structure
> of nation states is a pre-bourgeois historical sediment, so that its
> passing away would be associated with a development rather than the
> transcendence of the bourgeois epoch.

I see no evidence that the existence of nation-states are passing away
(although, the increasing existence of regional trade associations, such
as the Common Market, present interesting political and economic
questions, e.g. agreement among nation-states to give up certain
decision-making authority which was previously claimed to be the sovereign
right of individual nations). Are nation-states necessary for the
reproduction of capitalist relations? I'm not so sure what the
theoretical answer to that question is. To the extent that
nationalism is a necessary ideological counterpart to the existence and
legitimation of individual nation-states, it is hard for me to view this
question entirely in terms of contingency. A related question might be
whether rivalry by nation-states, militarism, and wars are necessary under
capitalism? Does anyone else have any thoughts on these questions?

> d) Of course 'international competition' is a major alibi for would-be
> social democratic governments as to why they have to emulate right wing
> policy stances. (In the UK, reference to 'globalisation' of the economy
> lies behind the New Labour arguments for almost all of their rigthward
> policy shifts.)

It may be the case that international competition is frequently used as an
alibi by governments for austerity policies directed against workers and
the poor. Yet, it is nontheless the case that the class interests of
capitalists in individual nations frequently conflict with the class
interests of the bourgeoisie in other nations. If competition among
capitalists is a necessary form of appearance, why isn't "competition"
among nation-states also a necessary form of appearance of the state-form?
Of course, there is also a counter-dialectic at work here since
with the increasing internationalization of capital and the growth of
transnational corporations, individual capitalist firms can suffer from
nationalistic state policies, e.g. in some instances of protectionism
(whereas other capitalists can benefit by the same actions). Viewing this
question somewhat differently, if we are to understand class relations
among capitalists, don't we have to examine both how they are united and

> Jerry goes on:
>> Also, how is landed property and wage-labor (where there is
>> subjectivity for wage laborers *as* wage laborers rather than only as
>> members of civil society) incorporated into the presentation?
> I am not quite sure what you are getting at. As I recall, both landed
> property and wage-labour are dealt with in R&W (1989), in outline, at
> the level of capitalist production, and as income sources.

I don't recall a discussion of capitalist landed property in the book. The
only reference that I could find was in an "Addendum" on p. 74: "So far in
the presentation, capital has implicitly been restricted to
industrial capital, that is capital invested in production (of
commodities). With the introduction of rent and its capitalization,
capital is differentiated into industrial and landed capital. But these
are forms of capital in the first place and as such (as capital in
general) indifferent as between their investment in industry or in land."

As far as subjectivity goes, in your work capitalists have subjectivity
and individuals have subjectivity as bourgeois subjects in civil society.
Where is the discussion of where workers *as workers* (rather than
only as bourgeois subjects) have subjectivity?

IN OPE-L Solidarity,