[A-List] Sino-Africa Relations
adsl675281 at tiscali.nl
Thu Jan 19 11:38:31 MST 2006
I don't mind discussing but I prefer to stick to topics I have thought or
studied about, and my knowledge of China and Africa is just very inadequate.
I've only briefly visited Morocco, and never went to China. So I don't
really know what I can contribute. I've read Henry Liu's articles with
interest though, he's a very gifted analyst. It's just that I think the US
economy is less reliant on the world economy than it appears to be to many
leftists, leaving aside various strategic imported raw materials (especially
oil), on which a lot of the leftist discussion focuses. The "Achilles heel"
of US capitalism is supposed to be the relentless creation of credit money,
but I've yet to be convinced of that argument.
I'm much more interested actually in Michael Hudson's intriguing claim that
"Financial manipulation has nothing to do with employment or profit. It
makes money purely from money. Marx discussed this in Vol. III. It is as
much pre-capitalist as post-industrial."
Seems to me it has everything to do with profit at least, and it can hardly
occur without employment, indeed the FIRE sector (financial services,
insurance, real estate and business services) has been one of the fastest
growing sectors in the world economy also in employment terms, suggesting to
some leftists the advent of parasitary "rentier capitalism". What Marx
discussses in Cap. Vol. III is really that "financial manipulations" are a
permanent feature of capitalism.
BTW Marx dated the start of the capitalist era at the 16th century, i.e. the
era of what is now known as "mercantile capitalism". That is to say, the
realisation of surplus values from production is only one mode of the
accumulation of capital; another mode is e.g. the realisation of surplus
values from unequal exchange, which Marx sometimes called "profit from
alienation". In his characterisation of the essence of capital, Marx
generally wished to restrict the concept of surplus values to value added in
the form of products newly produced by surplus-labour, but whether that is
really valid, is a moot point. Marx traced out how commerce gradually
conquers the sphere of production, transforming most inputs and outputs into
marketable goods and services. However, he never developed his analysis of
finance capital and joint-stock companies (the organisational structure of
capital) to any great extent, even although these existed - at least
embryonically - from the 16th century or thereabouts as well. I therefore do
not regard Marx's analysis of capitalism as adequate or complete (a
"bible"), more as a sort of "Streitschrift" highlighting certain important
facets of it, relevant to workingclass concerns at the time. Marxists often
claim arrogantly to understand capitalism in its totality, but I don't
really think that arrogance is warranted, nor that the analyses that are
made necessarily have much emancipatory effect.
A confusing reality of our times is the large-scale creation of financial
claims to resources and property incomes quite independently from what
happens in the sphere of production, and not reflected in gross output
measures. Marx himself never prepared his thoughts about this for
publication. Nevertheless, I would argue that this circuit of what Marx
sometimes called "fictitious capital" is still reliant on value-adding
production by human labour in the last instance, i.e. in order for the
redistribution of financial claims through monetary manipulations to be
sustained, the total "economic cake" (outputs of tangible products and
services) must continue to grow.
However it's my 47th birthday today, and I am taking a break... Never
thought in my youth I'd live this long, but I have... The older you get, the
more you realise how simplistic your previous theories were, and how little
you know anyway...
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