Re: [OPE] The Crisis of the Euro

From: paul bullock <>
Date: Sat Jan 24 2009 - 13:59:57 EST


you know my view on this. Lenin's intellectual strength is such that for 'academics' to ignore his contributions is irrational and requires a political explanation.... and for me that comes from the material, class position, of the 'radical' academics. Of course I am not a determinist in any narrow sense (although in a broader sense the current sense of 'inevitability' surrounding bank nationalisations encourages my 'wider' sense of an 'inevitable' end to capitalism, whatever the ruling class figures), but the practical requirement for the petty bourgeoise to work with, and throw themselves into the struggle with the workers and oppressed is really necessary if the comforts of life provided for them are not to paralyse their reasoning.... aristocrats of the planet armchair.

It is simply irrational to ignore Lenin, even for bourgeoise apologists, given that he was such an extraordinary thinker. If anyone has pretences to revolutionary thinking then clearly they are frauds if they ignore him.

You are quite right, that there seems to be an absolute fear of discussing imperialism by many in the acedemic/socialist/ heterodox etc area... which if one compares the open investigation of the subject by classical liberals at the turn of the 20th century eg Hobson, or Schumpeter , is quite striking. Of course the 'globalisation' debate and the 'discussions' of 'hegemony' could be said to deal with the same historical conflict, but in general these are various forms of attack on the US by European 'intellectuals' trying (temporarily) to deflect attention from European Imperialism, or they invent a new version of 'ultra-imperialsm' to conceal the real conflicts between the imperailist powers. Imperialism as Lenin analysed it, as it is, is ignored or disguised. It is striking that self proclaimed non Marxists have been able to write texts on the European challenge to the US over the last 5 or 6 years, whilst the 'Marxists' seem to be hoping for a quiet life by appealing 'unity' and 'reconciliation' all round, whilst playing the age old game of finding faults with Marx ( and of course Engels) all the better not to do anything.


  ----- Original Message -----
  To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list
  Sent: Saturday, January 24, 2009 3:49 PM
  Subject: Re: [OPE] The Crisis of the Euro

  Paul B

  Sorry about that mistake - it was Jerry who made the point re parasitism. Looking at later contributions after yours on the point of parasitism I simply do not understand what is taking place. There seems to be a reluctance to refer to Imperialism or Lenin. In my article on the British economy and British imperialism there is a clear definition of parasitism. It is related to the export of capital: FDI, portfolio investment and loan capital to most of the world outside the main imperialist countries. A fourth factor is the exploitation of immigrant labour.

  Do people deny the existence of parasitism because it is the source of the privileges of the better off sections of the working class and middle classes (strictly speaking the new petty bourgeoisie)?

  David Yaffe

  At 21:37 23/01/2009 +0000, you wrote:

    Jerry said that all capitalist exploitation is parasitic not me.....I don't disagree with him in a general loose / slangy way, although you and I prefer to use the term specifically in relation to imperialism, where such states could not possibly sustain their own accumulation without systematically leeching oppressed and semi- colonised nations on a massive scale. Plunder is after all not the same as exploitation, where there is an 'equality' in the exchange process as we understand it. Plunder leaves the victims often without any hope, deprived of the means of subsistence or access to any way of obtaining the means of life. Because the history of capitalism is so disagreeable it is hard to make the distinction unless one has a clear concept of imperialism, ie the world after the 1890's compared to the earlier period where there were still parts of the world to be shared out. Now it is all about redivision, outright, inescapable, confrontation, stealing from others by all means, and within and between every imperialist state we can see this in the most explicit forms.
      ----- Original Message -----
      To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list
      Sent: Friday, January 23, 2009 6:42 PM
      Subject: RE: [OPE] The Crisis of the Euro

      I am not sure whether you read my article on Britain: parasitic and decaying capitalism. Anyway it is available at

      There I give four examples of parasitic capitalism or imperialism. They relate to Lenin's discussion of the issue. PaulB is correct to say all capitalist exploitation is parasitic in one sense but this concept of parasitic relates very clearly to the advent of imperialism and I believe is more useful analytically.

      David Yaffe

      At 15:37 22/01/2009 +0100, you wrote:
> I think this brings out very clearly the fundamentally unproductive and parasitic nature of
> the city of london and of the financial services 'industry' in general. It seems to show
> that Smith and Marx were right about unproductive labour.

        Hi Paul C and Paula:
        Is that what it shows? Or does it show, rather, the vulnerabilities of individual capitalist
        economies which are dependent on one or two major industries or sectors? These
        vulnerabilities have long been known in less developed capitalist economies which, largely as
        a consequence of the legacy of colonialism, specialized in a small number of economic activities
        (e.g. 'one crop economies'). The UK, as an imperialist power, came to this condition
        through a different historical route.
        In any event, a fews additional comments are worth mentioning:
        1. the claim by Jim Rogers is surely an exaggeration: the economy of the UK does
        indeed produce commodities which can be sold. His exaggeration is a sign of the times:
        just as capitalists in a time of growth and prosperity think that it will never end so
        too in a crisis _their_ bubble is burst and they can see no end or hope (and it was for
        that reason, among others, that we saw an increase in suicides among the
        bourgeoisie during the 1930s).
        2. From a Marxian perspective, ALL capitalists are parasites living off of the surplus
        labor performed by wage-workers. The claim that bankers are parasitic reflects a
        prejudice of other segments of the ruling class and, historically, the landowning class.
        The landowning class (and, in some nations, the peasantry) similarly tended to conceive
        of urban areas as parasitic. If banking capitalists receiving a large chunk of their profits
        from other capitalists or the state rather than from directly exploiting workers, that
        could cause them to be viewed as parasites by those other capitalists but from a
        working-class perspective it seems to me that they are no better or worse than
        capitalists in general.
        3. A transfer of surplus value internationally can be a source of growth for an
        individual capitalist nation even though and when there is no increase in
        the global quantity of surplus value produced. Thus, the financial sector could
        assist in the growth of individual capitalist nations to the same extent as an
        industrial sector (?).
        In solidarity, Jerry
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