Re: [OPE] theories of imperialism

Date: Mon Mar 28 2011 - 09:20:21 EDT

> It is not in dispute whether processes of monopolization and oligopolisation
> occur, but rather with how pervasive they are exactly, and whether they
> cancel out the laws of motion of capital identified by Marx, or whether they
> cancel out business competition. Many of the relevant points in the
> discussion can be verified straightforwardly by looking at the available
> data about industrial concentration and business activity.
Hi Jurriaan:

I agree with this point, although I don't think this dispute is
most clearly focused by looking at Lenin's theory but rather by critically
examining the Baran-Sweezy perspective.

> In addition, there is almost no connection between his theory of
> imperialism and the laws of motion of capital specified by Marx.

Virtually all of the Bolshevik and social democratic theoreticians of that
time accepted disproportionality and/or underconsumptionist theories
of crisis. Although Engels edited and published the drafts for Volume
III of _Capital_ in 1894 (in German), it was quite some time before
the perspective advanced there was accessed by Marxists of the time.

(Speculative question: maybe this is because many of them having read
Volume 2 had already accepted the [partial] 'story' of the laws of
motion based on the reading of that, especially related to the reproduction
schemes? Maybe also it fit in better with their already presented political
perspectives? It is an undeniable fact, I think, that once Marxist
authors [not just academics, but leading political figures] have
accepted a particular narrative of a process, they are generally loathe to
change their perspective.)

In your 3/23 post responding to Paula, you referred to multinational
corporations (MNCs). You seemed to suggest that MNCs have been around for
hundreds of years. I agree that there have been international businesses
around since the dawn of capitalism (and in some cases even before)
so in that sense the internationalization of capital has a very long
history and certainly did not begin with what Lenin refers to as the
epoch of imperialism. However, I think that MNCs are NOT simply a
continuation on an increased scale of this already existing trend.
What distinguishes MNCs from prior forms of international businesses
is that with MNCs there is both production and distribution within
many different t countries. THe older forms of businesses which had
existed had a different division of labor - for instance where you
had raw material extraction processes in colonies or 'developing'
capitalist nations and then manufacture and sale within the advanced
capitalist nations. Before MNCs could arise, there had to be the
creation of more of a global market for means of consumption and
means of production. With the advent of MNCs the same commodity
types which were produced in the advanced capitalist economies
were increasingly produced - and sold - in many different countries
experiencing differing levels of capitalist development. In this
sense, there was something qualitatively new about MNCs - even
though this trend which really took off in the 1960s (and 70's and
80's) could be seen indeed as an extension of the logic of
the tendencies for increased centralization and concentration of
In solidarity, Jerry
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Received on Mon Mar 28 09:21:57 2011

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