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

From: Paul Bullock <>
Date: Fri Jan 15 2010 - 17:23:50 EST

----- Original Message -----
From: "Paul Cockshott" <>
To: "'Outline on Political Economy mailing list'" <>
Sent: Friday, January 15, 2010 11:51 AM
Subject: RE: [OPE] Britain--parasitic and decaying capitalism: A comment

>I how do you seize markets without the use of tariff barriers ?

 There are innumerable ways, always mixed with the 'extra market' forces, as
BAe shows - the relation between State, a practical monopoly within the UK,
bribery, manipulation of British and Saudi 'justice', long term deals in oil
barter etc, a complex of politico-economic fixing. The USA and France try
to get into this Saudi Market by every the US is keen to force BAe
into court for bribery, whilst Blair et al covered up ... I really don't
see your hang up with this 'normal commercial competition'... sounds like a
fairy story to me.
> One way is normal commercial competition, but that is not imperialism.

 'Imperialism emerged as the development and direct continuation of the
fundamental attributes of capitalism in general' (Lenin IHSof C) You seem
to want to suggest that we live in a period akin to pre 1870! It is
impossible to separate what you call 'normal capitalist competition TODAY
from monopoly, and so constant inter imperialist rivalry. " ...
monopoly which has grown out of free competition, does not abolish the
later, but exists alongside it and hovers over it, as it were, and, as a
result, gives rise to a number of very acute antagonisms, frictions and
conflicts' (Lenin IHCSC)...... imperialism is monopoly capitalism, that
needs the state to supervise its continuation in the face of extreme
competition from other national capitals.

> Indbtedness certainly transfers money to banks based in the metropolitan
> countries, but metropolitan states do not generally intervene to ensure
> that borrowing in another country is done only from banks located on their
> own territory. Instead the country seeking a loan generally sells bonds to
> a spread of international banks.

This anodyne description fails to note the way in which clusters of banks
stick together, sheltered by HQ state legal ringfencing and diplomatic
support, fix ratings, bribe foreign bankers and politicians, crucify those
who try to expose them, fund their opwn domestic politicians... Goldman
Sachs biggest backer of Obamah... (I suppose by 'located in their own
territory' you actually mean HQ'd in...)

> I am not denying that surplus value is transferred between agents in
> different states via interest payments and dividends, nor that states
> themselves are typically in debt to the international bond market, but
> this is true of all capitalist states not specifically the ones you label
> as semi-colonies.

But the issue is who is the most powerful and least dependent. Imperialism
is the dominance of finance capital! the desire to annex any and all
economic activity for its own ends... even the poorest are seduced with
'micro finance'.

> Also the ultimate beneficiaries of the purchase of say Mexican bonds by a
> bank based in London will themselves be an international spread of
> depositors with the bank - an international rentier class a large
> proportion of whom are not resident in the UK, indeed, given that the UK
> has for decades had a negative balance of payments on current account, the
> preponderance of the ultimate beneficiaries for new net loans by UK banks
> will be overseas.

I suppose you realise that all this leads to the reactionary political
conclusion that we face an abstract international ruling class ( located no
doubt on the other side of the world), which I suspect leads to the idea
that we don't have to fight our own ruling class (?), since 'we' don't have
an identifiable one

> Backing of landlord classes, or of the propertied classes in general is to
> be expected, but that is just class solidarity of those with wealth. Again
> it does not distinguish imperialism from the normal operation of
> capitalism.

This solidarity you talk of is nonsense. the 19TH century in BritAin shows
well enough the ruthless struggle between the landlord class and the
industrial and commercial bourgeoisie.... for bourgeoise 'thinkers' of the
time land became the obstacle to capital accumulation! Landlords had to be
> My take on it is that the US/UK invasion of Iraq was actually a radical
> break from years of prior development in that it was the first time
> since the Suez invasion by the UK and France that metropolitan powers had
> attempted to seize resources -- state oil revenues in this case -- by
> invading and occupying. The opposition to it by the other permanent
> members of the UN, which prevented any UN resolution, stemmed from the
> fact that it was such a break with previous precedent. The response of the
> US and USSR to the Suez invasion had established the principle that the
> old imperialism was, by the 1950s, regarded as illegitimate by the other
> great military powers.

Suez showed that the USA had the upper hand and was forcing its way into the
middle east from Egypt to Vietnam, redividing the world.

> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> [] On Behalf Of Paul Bullock
> Sent: 15 January 2010 10:54
> To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list
> Subject: Re: [OPE] Britain--parasitic and decaying capitalism: A comment
> Paul C,
> this is quite mistaken, and seems to want to ignore the fact that we are
> talking about the domination, seizure and use of markets in any way that
> is
> suitable. The exact political form of control/influence will change
> constantly, colonies, semi colonies, high indebtedness (Highly indebted
> states), military occupation, the imperialist political backing of a
> landlord class, etc etc For you to focus on this variety is deliberately
> to
> confuse the issue, and avoid the basic material facts concerning the
> accumulation of capital on a grand scale. The Lenin quote given by David
> Yaffe makes this absolutely clear.
> PBl.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Paul Cockshott" <>
> To: "Outline on Political Economy mailing list" <>
> Sent: Thursday, January 14, 2010 4:42 PM
> Subject: RE: [OPE] Britain--parasitic and decaying capitalism: A comment
>> The point I am making is that wars to divide and redivide the world only
>> make sense if you are talking of territorial empires with customs
>> barriers
>> and the like.
>> That was the key issue in Lenins analysis of imperialism -- that it was
>> the cause of world war. If you remove all the key features of territorial
>> empire then why do you think it is still a likely cause of world war?
>> ________________________________________
>> From: [] On
>> Behalf Of GERALD LEVY []
>> Sent: Thursday, January 14, 2010 2:00 PM
>> To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list
>> Subject: RE: [OPE] Britain--parasitic and decaying capitalism: A comment
>>> The point I am making is that the division of the world that Lenin was
>>> talking about was into territorial empires of the great powers,
>>> both WWI and WWII were wars to achieve such empires. Britain, France,
>>> Portugal, Holand, Russia, Turkey, USA had such empires, and
>>> Germany Italy and Japan were seeking to achieve them. This was the kind
>>> of
>>>imperialism that killed tens of millions of people in two great wars.
>> Hi Paul:
>> The specific type - form - of imperialism can change. For instance,
>> Neo-Liberal policies favored by the major imperialist powers in recent
>> decades is somewhat different that the policies favored by them in the
>> preceding period. This does not stop them from being imperialist any more
>> than a change in the the specific location of individual spots on a zebra
>> changes that animal into another species.
>>> The empires once established and ruled were protected by customs
>>> barriers,
>> contingent to, not necessary condition, for imperialism.
>>> were subjected to heavy taxation,
>> ditto.
>>> and were exclusive areas for investment
>>> and emigration by the invading power.
>> ditto.
>>> The 5 victorious powers do have vetos in the UN, but this was not by
>>> virtue of them being imperialist powers but because they were the
>>> opponents of Germany and Japan who had the largest forces in the field.
>>> If you are saying that this was the criterion for imperialism -- having
>>> a big army,
>> I didn't say or imply that - or the rest.
>> In solidarity, Jerry
>>> then you are dropping all our previous arguments about capital export
>>> and>financial influence and saying that imperialism is just a matter of
>>> armies.> Your argument here implies that you think that the USSR was an
>>> imperialist> power by virtue of being one of the 5 permanent members of
>>> the security
>>> council, and that Taiwan was likewise whilst it held a similar position.
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