Re: [OPE] Patnaik's Notes on Contemporary Imperialism

Date: Sat Dec 25 2010 - 11:34:11 EST

Hi Dave Z:
Thanks for the reference:

> Notes on Contemporary Imperialism
> Prabhat Patnaik
A few comments on your comments:

> 1. The orthodox idea that 'fascism is promoted by finance capital'
> has as a general theory very little backing. It is a serious
> misconception of fascist movements.
Well, let's see: there was a close connection between the Nazis
and finance capital (see Daniel Guerin's classic [1938] work _Fascism
and Big Business_) and I think the evidence is also pretty strong in
relation to Italy under Mussolini, Spain under Franco and - if
you think it was fascist, Chile under Pinochet. What exactly is the

> 2. Patnaik's correctly identifies structural obstacles for
> coordinated cross-national labour movements between high- and
> low-wage countries. But his alternative of 'de-linking' national
> economies from the capitalist world economy would probably have
> even less prospects. What is the viability of the national
> economies of Greece, France, Ireland or United Kingdom at current
> living standards of the working people? Perhaps economies of the
> size of India or China could do it, but not those of South America
> and Europe; there cross-national 'Bolivarian'-style strategy has
> greater prospects.

> 3. In developing economies, Patnaik urges for an alliance of
> wage-workers and peasants led by the labour movement that can
> advance an alternative economic trajectory. He should have
> addressed the potential contradictions inherent to such a 'bloc'.
> The basic point is that a progressive trajectory would require
> development of the productive forces and that becomes increasingly
> incompatible with small-scale peasant holdings. In other words,
> what is the industrial policy that would simultaneously benefit
> the working-class and peasantry? The development in West Bengal in
> recent years indicates that the socialist movement in India has
> yet to find it.
A side comment first: Of all the descriptors for these countries/parts
of the world capitalist economy, I think the worst (and that's saying a
lot!) is "developing economies". This presumes that all of these
economies are actually developing and that's not the case. Even more
objectionable is the inference that if your economy
isn't already an 'advanced' capitalist economy then your economy
is 'developing' (i.e. getting there; headed in that direction). This
seriously miscomprehends - in a reactionary way - what is happening
in the world capitalist economy.
In any event, I think that the designation of the "working class
and the peasantry" is out-of-date (and early 20th Century) because
it does not take into account the 'petty commodity producing'
('informal') sector in which so many millions of people are
(self-) employed. They are neither wage-workers or peasants but
are a HUGE social layer in many parts of the world capitalist
economy - often much larger than the waged working class and
peasantry COMBINED. The expression 'unemployed' isn't quite
accurate either as a descriptor. Perhaps, if you want a
Marxian designation, the "industrial reserve army" comes closest -
but that isn't so good either because we're talking about a huge
social layer which in many countries has become relatively stable
and semi-permanent rather than a pool of people who are constantly
being drawn into and expellend from and drawn back into being
wage-workers (the IRA).
In solidarity, Jerry
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Received on Sat Dec 25 11:35:36 2010

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