Looking at the Contours of the Crisis

capitalismisnotworking.jpg capitalism isn't working picture by adam_freedom

  With “Contours of the Crisis” in the latest issue of Upping the Anti #8 (see two posts previous), Aidan Conway interviews three leading thinkers on contemporary capitalism who also each happen to be professors of political economy at York University in Toronto as well. They are David McNally, Sam Gindin and Leo Panitch. Below are three highlights that raise worthwhile points to think about around the financial crisis and building “the other world that is possible” as we might say.

  Here on the relationship between class struggle at home and imperialism abroad, which are intracately interwoven.

  Sam Gindin: If and when, during the next decades, the foundations of American empire were to really crumble, class struggles within the imperial heartland itself would likely play a major role in bringing this on – precisely because of the way in which the external and internal dimensions of American empire are intertwined. At the same time, the ability to pacify the citizens of the empire is critically dependant on the ability to maintain wider structures of global exploitation and integration. (emphasis added)

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Lenin, Wallerstein and Understanding Imperialism

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Lenin cleans house, but I think he missed a spot

 

 

Rough Draft

  What is the best way to understand what we call imperialism, which is basically the economic and political relationship between the first and third world? Lenin has been the main starting point around this question for most on the revolutionary left. Are there basic problems with the understanding of imperialism that derives from Lenin? I think so.

 

  Below Wallerstein describes the centrality of unequal exchange to capitalism as a system, which is the process of how profits are reaped from the third world (which he calls the periphery zones within the capitalist world economy) and the western or first world nations (which he terms the core zones). First are several points that I think are worth highlighting based on how Wallerstein explains this process and which are in contrast with the much of the left’s understanding of imperialism as it is derived from Lenin.

 

Feedback is welcome.

 

a)      Capitalism has always been an international system and as much so today as it was in the sixteenth century.

b)      Capitalism as a system has always been based on the relationship of core and periphery regions in the world whereby through the process of unequal exchange surplus flows from periphery to core regions.

c)      As production processes move down a hierarchy of processes they move from core to periphery regions.

d)      Core regions use their accumulated capital to build strong states and ensure that states in periphery area remain or become weak and therefore compliant in accepting the relationship of unequal exchange.

e)      There are no stages of capitalism whereby capitalism as a system moves from a presumed more localized, peaceful and competitive phase to a more international, militaristic and monopoly based phase, which what Lenin asserted in his writings on imperialism, which he called the ‘highest stage of capitalism.’

f)        While Lenin’s analysis is useful to explain the political moment that faced the world at the early twentieth century, it does not explain well the system of capitalism as it has existed historically.

g)      Lenin’s analysis of imperialism, which is focused on economics and how the imperialist states must use violence in colonization and will eventually resort to war in competition between each other over colonial spoils, offers a weak explanation of how imperialist and colonial states relates to one another.

 

LeninChillaxin.jpg picture by adam_freedom

 

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