The end of globalisation and the future of capitalism

Keynesian economist Brad DeLong recently reprised the argument made by John Maynard Keynes back in 1931 that capitalism might be in a depression now, but if we take the long view, we can see that capitalism has been the most successful mode of production for people’s needs in human history; so don’t worry, it will be again.

Keynes made this argument in a lecture to his economics students at Cambridge, called The economic possibilities of our grandchildren.  He argued that within a hundred years, average incomes would have increased eight-fold and everybody would be working a 15-hour week.  So, he said, keep faith in capitalism and don’t go off adopting stupid Marxist ideas – as many were doing at the time.

Now Brad DeLong has become the Keynes of 2016, in the midst of the latest Long Depression.  In his blog, he recognises that “economic growth since 2008 has been profoundly disappointing. There is no reasoned case for optimistically expecting a turn for the better in the next five years or so. And the failure of global institutions to deliver ever-increasing prosperity has undermined the trust and confidence which in better times would serve to suppress the murderous demons of our age.”  But fear not: if we look at global economic growth not just five years out, but over the next 30-60 years, the picture looks much brighter…..The reason is simple: the large-scale trends that have fueled global growth since World War II have not stopped. More people are gaining access to new, productivity enhancing technologies, more people are engaging in mutually beneficial trade, and fewer people are being born, thus allaying any continued fears of a so-called population bomb….. Moreover, innovation, especially in the global north, has not ceased, even if it has possibly slowed since the 1880s. And while war and terror continue to horrify us, we are not witnessing anything on the scale of the genocides that were a hallmark of the twentieth century.”

DeLong claims that these major trends are likely to continue, according to data from thePenn World Table research project, the best source for summary information on global economic growth. The PWT data on average real (inflation-adjusted)per capitaGDP show that the world in 1980 was 80% better off than it was in 1950, and another 80% better off in 2010 than it was in 1980. In other words, our average material well-being is three times what it was in 1950.

Actually that evidence shows that Keynes was way too optimistic back in 1931.  I did estimates like DeLong a few years ago and found that if we look at the world economy as a whole (something JMK does not), then world per capita GDP rose only about 2.5 times from 1930 to 1990.  JMK was far too optimistic. And the average working week in the US in 1930 – if you had a job – was about 50 hours.  It is still above 40 hours (including overtime) now for full-time permanent employment.  Indeed, in 1980, the average hours worked in a year was about 1800 for advanced economies.  Currently, it is about 1800 hours – so again, no change there.

DeLong echoes Keynes in 1931 by concluding that “short of a nightmare scenario like terror-driven nuclear war, you can expect my successors in 2075 to look back and relish that, once again, their world is three times better off than ours is today.” 

This pro-capitalist optimism was also recently promoted by Nobel prize winner Angus Deaton.   Deaton is an expert on world poverty, the consumption patterns of households and how to measure them.  He emphasises that life expectancy globally has risen 50% since 1900 and is still rising. The share of people living on less than $1 a day (in inflation-adjusted terms) has dropped to 14 percent from 42 percent as recently as 1981. The greatest progress against cancer and heart disease has come in the last 20 to 30 years.  “Things are getting better,” he writes, “and hugely so.” 

But Deaton makes it clear that progress in living conditions and quality of life is a relatively recent development. And much of this improvement in the quality and length of life comes from the application of science and knowledge through state spending on education, on sewage, clean water, disease prevention and protection, hospitals and better child development.  These are things that do not come from capitalism but from the common weal.

Moreover, things are not that rosy.  Back in 2013, the World Bank reported that there were roughly 1.2 billion people completely destitute (living on less than $1.25 a day), one-third of which are 400 million children.  One of every three extremely poor people is a child under the age of 13.   So there are over one billion people, one-third of them children, who are virtually starving in the 21st century.  While extreme poverty rates have declined in all regions, the world’s 35 low-income countries (LICs) – 26 of which are in Africa — registered 103 million more extremely poor people today than three decades ago.  Aside from China and India,“ individuals living in extreme poverty [in the developing world] today appear to be as poor as those living in extreme poverty 30 years ago,” the World Bank said.

Deaton himself recognises this: “the number of those who live on less than $2 a day is rising according to the most recent estimates.”  In 2010, 33 percent of the extreme poor lived in low-income countries (LICs), compared to 13 percent in 1981.  In India, the average income of the poor rose to 96 cents in 2010, compared to 84 cents in 1981, and China’s average poor’s income rose to 95 cents, compared to 67 cents.  China’s state-run still mainly planned economy saw its poorest people make the greatest progress.   But the “average” poor person in a low-income country lived on 78 cents a day in 2010, compared to 74 cents a day in 1981, hardly any change.

But here is the crucial underlying story behind the improvement that has been registered under capitalism since 1950.  It is mostly due to the rapid rise of the economic colossus of China, and in the last decade, to a lesser extent, India (where the figures have been cooked a little).  As DeLong shows, China’s real  per capita  GDP in 1980 was 60% lower than the world average, but today it is 25% above it. India’s real per capita  GDP in 1980 was more than 70% below the world average, but India has since closed that gap by half.

DeLong thinks that China’s progress is down to having “strong leaders” like Deng Xiaoping, and in India like Rajiv Gandhi (!).  Apparently China’s economic model had nothing to do with it.  But when we look at the evidence, as David Rosnick has done with Branco Milanovic’s data from his new book Global Inequality, Rosnick finds that global growth was much lower without China in the equation.  As “China implemented different policies, often in opposition to reforms that much of the rest of the world was adopting (e.g. state ownership of most the banking system, government control over most investment including foreign direct investment, industrial policy, and lax enforcement of intellectual property rights.) If this period’s successes in development are mostly driven by China, then we may reach different conclusions regarding the success of widespread global reforms.”

The problem with the optimism of the likes of DeLong and Deaton with the continued ‘success’ of capitalism is that capitalism appears to heading past its use-by date.  Deutsche Bank economists, in a recent study, make the point that ‘globalisation’ (the spread of capitalism’s tentacles across the world) has ground to a halt.  And growth in the productivity of labour, the measure of future ‘progress’, has also more or less ceased in the major economies.

Deutsche strategists Jim Reid, Nick Burns, and Sukanto Chanda comment that “It feels like we’re coming towards the end of an economic era. Such eras often come and go in long waves.  In the past 30 years a perfect storm of factors — China re-entering the global economy in the 70s, the fall of the Soviet Union, and to some extent, the economic liberalisation of India — added more than a billion workers into the global labour market.”  This, Deutsche notes “has coincided with a general surge in the global workforce population in absolute terms and also relative to the overall population, thus creating a perfect storm and an abundance of workers.”

But the era of the ‘baby-boomers’ in the advanced economies is over and the expansion of the workforce in the emerging economies is beginning to slow – the graph below shows how the ratio of productive workers to total population in the major economies is set to fall from hereon.

productivity-ratio

At the same time, the world economy is in a downwave of profitability and investment.  “With demographics deteriorating it seems highly unlikely that the next couple of decades (possibly longer) will see real growth rates returning close to their pre-crisis, pre-leverage era levels. Obviously if there is a sustainable exogenous boost to productivity then a more optimistic scenario (relative to the one below) can be painted. At this stage it is hard to see where such a boost comes from – and even if it does, time is running out for it to prevent economic and political regime change given the existing stresses in the system.”

Indeed, the Deutsche study hints at my own view of long waves in economic development under capitalism.  In this blog, and in my books, I have argued that world capitalism is in a major downwave in prices, productivity and profitability which won’t come to an end without further major convulsions in capitalist production similar to that in 2008-9.  If that is right, the optimistic predictions of DeLong and Deaton will be confounded.

American economist Robert J Gordon has emphasised that productivity growth everywhere has slowed to a trickle despite the new technological advances of the internet, big data, social media, 3d printing etc.  And the debate continues on whether the current era of ‘disruptive’ new technologies will drive capitalism forward and with the majority of people.

Mainstream economics remains divided on the issue.  On the one hand, economists at the Bank of England reckon that the new technologies will deliver renewed economic growth and employment, as they have done in the past.  The BoE reckons that technological progress won’t create mass unemployment and while it probably won’t make your working week much shorter and it’ll probably push up average wages.  So “robots are (probably) our friends”.

On the other side, the IMF’s economists are less sanguine.  They argue thatrobot capital tends to replace workers and drive down wages, and at first the diversion of investment into robots dries up the supplies of traditional capital that help raise wages. The difference, though, is that humans’ special talents become increasingly valuable and productive as they combine with this gradually accumulating traditional and robot capital. Eventually, this increase in labor productivity outweighs the fact that the robots are replacing humans, and wages (as well as output) rise.  But there are two problems…it takes 20 years for the productivity effect to outweigh the substitution effect and drive up wages. Second, capital will still likely greatly increase its role in the economy. It will take a higher share of income, even in the long run when wages are above the pre-robot-era level. Thus, inequality will be worse, possibly dramatically so.”  So, not so great.

Keynes’ 1930s optimism gained credence with the boom during a major world war and the subsequent post-war Golden Age that restored the profitability of capital for a generation.  Let’s hope it does not take another world war to confirm the optimism of the modern Keynesians like DeLong.

34 Responses to “The end of globalisation and the future of capitalism”

  1. Choppa Morph Says:

    Let’s not forget it’s not just the end of the capitalist mode of production that we’re living through, but the initial stages of the socialist mode of production. The conflict between the two modes of production is fundamentally what is shaping our epoch, just as the conflicts between slave-owning and feudalism, and feudalism and capitalism shaped previous epochs.

    Preobrazhensky (stating the position of Trotsky and the Left Opposition) makes this conflict between the Law of Value and Primitive Socialist Accumulation very clear in The New Economics in 1926. Ignoring this perspective by only focusing on the capitalist side of things is like describing a war by only talking about what one side is doing and ignoring the opposition (or a football match for that matter…).

    • sartesian Says:

      So exactly what is the “socialist mode” side doing? “Primitive socialist accumulation”– an oxymoron if ever there was one- is a notion popularized after the seizure of power, and the civil war, AND, a RETREAT in the global revolution. PSA is an iteration of (primitive) socialism in one country, and ignores the impossibility of resolving the conflict between city and countryside, industry and agriculture within the national framework.

      Okay, let’s not ignore the opposition: where is the “law” of “primitive socialist accumulation” operable? Where, and who, are its agents?

    • Virgens Kamikazes Says:

      Preobrazhensky is an extremely important economist, but I would not diagnose the era we are living in (1991-) as an era of primitive socialism.

      On the contrary, this era is the first in history where capitalism is absolutely hegemonic: from the 15th century until the first industrial revolution, it was a mixed economy between feudalism and capitalism, so it had to share the world with feudalism. From the first industrial revolution until the Russian Revolution, it had to struggle with socialists workers movements and parties. From the Russian Revolution until the fall of the USSR, it basically shared a half of the world with socialism. Now it’s the first time in history capitalism is unopposed.

      Even if you consider China as a primitive socialist State of the Preobrazhensky type, you have to agree with me socialism would be one step closer to become hegemonic had the USSR not collapsed.

  2. Eleutério F S Prado Says:

    Why Keynes and De Long bother to reassure the unwary about the future of capitalism? Nevertheless, no one bothers to make sure that the sun will be there in 100 years from now. Because they know, but do not confess, that capital is a historical beast…

  3. franklindmitryev Says:

    Not to detract from your main argument, but the absurdity of DeLong’s thesis becomes clear as soon as he mentions population growth as a concern and says nothing about climate change. As yet, we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg of the massive social and economic disruption that climate chaos will be causing. Any Pangloss who projects future prosperity without taking climate change into account—and they are legion—is in thrall to ideology.

  4. marvgand2 Says:

    “DeLong thinks that China’s progress is down to having “strong leaders” like Deng Xiaoping, and in India like Rajiv Gandhi (!). Apparently China’s economic model had nothing to do with it.”

    Keynesians (and other Marxists) could argue, however, that China doesn’t have a different economic model – that the country’s leadership has, in fact, restored capitalism, but one based on a strong state sector which has been responsible for China’s robust growth. The developed capitalist economies, on the other hand, have repudiated state ownership and intervention in the economy which largely explains their continuing stagnation.

    • sartesian Says:

      except the state sector is not the source of China’s robust growth. The period of strong growth coincides with the relative decline of the state sector contribution to GDP (down to about 35%), and with $1 trillion in FDI.

      The period of slowing growth coincides with radical expansion of loans, credit, and subsidies to the state sector.

      It’s not the repudiation of the “state ownership and interventions” which explains the relative stagnation– that’s the baloney Keynesian argument. It’s declining profitability, and overproduction, based on the enhanced productivity of labor that is the source of the stagnation.

  5. GrahamB Says:

    Many Left economists and commentators have spent the last 25 years disputing the DB summary of the last 25 years. Before we even get to the projections.

  6. Ben Says:

    Are you saying that China moved in the opposite direction to previously? China has very clearly moved towards capitalism with heavy state intervention. And, all that state intervention has sure, maybe lead to substantial GDP growth but it’s led to a terrifying future debt crisis in China that will hit one day. The government cannot pump inordinate amounts of capital into the system indefinitely to hit a growth target. China has, in a way, moved to a purely Keynesian system, where the state increases growth when it falls while being incredibly globalist by investing everywhere and joining the WTO. That’s far from Marxist.

    Also, what characterises these 35 very low income countries? Corrupt dictatorships that extract the wealth from the people. How would Marxist policies help in these countries whatsoever? Do you expect their institutions to magically change overnight? Corrupt governments and bad economic policies hold these countries back, not capitalism.

    Finaly, looking at just working week figures as a mark of progress is ridiculous. We now spend almost a quarter of our lives in retirement (on average) that was almost unheard of before and more spend time studying for longer than before.

    Of course there are huge problems with productivity at the moment as well as with income inequality, but the idea that Marxism is the way forward is absolutely delusional.

    • sartesian Says:

      “Also, what characterises these 35 very low income countries? Corrupt dictatorships that extract the wealth from the people. How would Marxist policies help in these countries whatsoever? Do you expect their institutions to magically change overnight? Corrupt governments and bad economic policies hold these countries back, not capitalism.”

      Look at the 35 low income countries and the 26 that are in Africa and what do you think they have in common, besides “corruption”?

      How about slavery? Yep, looks like the legacy of slavery, the pillaging of the indigenous population to support the world markets is a common.

      What else? Oh yeah, being subjected to the economic and political demands of the Western European empires– French, UK, Portuguese, etc.

      So thinking that corruption and “bad economic policies” hold these countries back and not capitalism, misses the point: corruption and bad economic policies are the results, the facilitators of accumulation, in all its miserable grandeur.

      The argument that Marxism is NOT the way forward is what’s delusional; to think that capitalism which for 400 years has, like King Leopold, been proclaiming itself as the enshrinement of progress, while hacking off, literally, the limbs of the people in these areas is worse than delusional , it’s criminal.

      • Ben Says:

        Of course it has to do with the legacy of colonisation and slavery. Countries that colonised Africa set up governments and institutions to extract wealth and resources from the population, nothing else and they survived. I’m not denying that.

        But that was not the fault of capitalism. That was the fault of colonisation from Western governments. There are all sorts of cases throughout history under varying economic systems of governments expanding their territory and using slavery to generate wealth that they can extract. That is imperialism and any economic system will not change the incentives governments have to do that.

        Countries that ditch bad leaders and open themselves up to the world and adopt mainly capitalist systems can generate immense wealth and growth for themselves; see Chile, Singapore, South Korea, Japan etc.

        Marxism, on the other hand, would involve giving bad leaders even more power (in poor nations) and would close off foreign investment, hit exports, hit foreign aid receipts and would likely make the government default or lead to hyperinflation as they lose access to global bond markets and fewer investors are willing to lend.

        Most Marxists’ dream of a democratic, accountable government that pursues Marxist policies in the interests of everyone to reduce inequality and yet still give everyone a decent standard of living is unrealistic anywhere – but it is utterly idiotic as a plan for the poorest countries on the planet.

      • sartesian Says:

        “Countries that colonised Africa set up governments and institutions to extract wealth and resources from the population, nothing else and they survived. I’m not denying that.

        But that was not the fault of capitalism. That was the fault of colonisation from Western governments. ”

        Priceless. Rhodes wasn’t a capitalist.

        King Leopold wasn’t extending, serving the interests of capitalism— the plantations and the mines were just hobbies, not accumulation.

    • Virgens Kamikazes Says:

      Your comment is the typical “I only look at first world countries data” comment. The problem with this kind of analysis is that its logic is inherently flawed: there’s only one capitalist society, and it’s a worldwide capitalist society.

      Only nitpicking first world countries to deduce absurdities such as “we live one fourth of our lives in retirement” is laughable, because not only that’s not true, but that’s not the point of the critique of capitalism (even if it was true, which it’s not: since 2008, a lot of governments of first world countries onslaughted against workers’ rights, specially retirement age, successfully).

      Also, you must stop with this “Keynesian system” bs. There isn’t a Keynesian “system”. Keynes never theorised about a system. Keynesianism is a political doctrine. It’s not even a theory.

      About the corruption thing: yes, corruption and dispossession are a structural, essential part of capitalism, because it’s one form of extracting surplus value. It obviously doesn’t change the fact those 35 most poor countries are capitalist, and that they have a capitalist structure of governance.

    • matthewrusso9 Says:

      A racist Eurocentric apologia for capitalism and imperialism. Period.

  7. Magpie Says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but I think you give Keynes too much credit.

    I’ll illustrate my meaning with an example from real life. If you ever hear radio early on Mondays, you cannot but notice disk jockeys in so-called breakfast shows trying to sound cheerful about the start of a new working week.

    They do that because it’s their job to be upbeat and as a matter of fact it’s doubtful they feel as happy as they try to sound.

    In their case that fake optimism is mostly harmless and inconsequential: no listener really buys it. No one working Monday mornings at 5:00 AM will feel any happier just because the disk jockey says “Welcome to a brand new Monday! Yay!”

    Pretty much the same applies to Keynes’ 1930s optimism: it was a megalomaniac charlatan’s attempt to cover the nakedness of capitalism with a fig leaf. It was a propaganda piece.

    In his case, however, it has more consequences because many believe the myth of Keynes’ genius.

    But you’ve hit the nail squarely with this: “Brad DeLong has become the Keynes of 2016”.

  8. SimonH Says:

    Here we have in Ben an open defender of capitalism, kind of refreshing compared to the fake socialist Boffy who harps on about a capitalist golden age the rest of us aren’t privy to.
    So people spend more time in retirement hey Ben, haven’t you heard about the push to drive retirement back, to 70 or even further? Let’s hope their private pensions don’t go kablooey or that austerity doesn’t undermine the already meagre state pensions.
    I’m surprised to hear we Marxists support corrupt leaders and that Marxist policies lead to hyper-inflation. Yes because there’s no such thing as corruption and inflation under capitalism. He refers to places like South Korea and Singapore, countries with authoritarian regimes where the state plays a very active role in the economy. In fact I remember an argument involving an anarcho-capitalist who couldn’t deny that the state had played a major role in Singapore’s growth. Not to mention Chile with the Pinochet dictatorship, Ben doesn’t seem to be bothered by authoritarian leaders only corrupt ones, even though they tend to be the one and the same.
    He does have a point though, any one single country adopting Marxist policies wouldn’t be enough, capitalism is a global system and socialism must become one to really work.

    • VN Gelis Says:

      Boffy is a top socialist like a majority of the British fake left. Where mass unemployment rules, people commit suicide and look in dustbins for food he sees a capitalist boom.
      In fact being a proponent of the never ending boom he comes across as demented. A bigger optimist than capital itself he has resolved all the contradictions in capitalism with pseudo marxist quackery

    • Ben Says:

      If it is “kind of refreshing” to you, I think you really need to read outside the Marxist sphere.

      What incentives to countries have to pursue socialism? Shut off from global equity markets? Shut off from FDI? Massive capital flight to other countries? Emigration of the population to other countries? Uprisings from the population as there is little chance the populous would vote for such policies? Your idea of global socialism in order for socialism to work is total impossible fantasy because countries have huge incentives to stay relatively capitalist.

      Although the retirement age may be rising, the length of a retirement has still lengthened massively in recent decades because of increased life expectancy.

      And using historical examples of governments playing a role in the economy to lead to growth is irrelevant. I’m not against government intervention in an economy to some extent at all, the trouble is, those countries you mention are of course, not socialist.

  9. Virgens Kamikazes Says:

    This post just illustrates how vulgar economy is basically the modern version of philosophy. Vulgar economists are essentially the priests of capitalism.

  10. henry Says:

    Yes, Ben seems to be missing the struggle over the pension age.

    I had an argument on another site about free time and worked out that the average Jo in the 1920’s had more free time than the average Jo living today.

    Capitalism has raised productivity and improved productive processes, including medical outcomes, no doubt that. However this has not gone hand in hand with a reduction in the working week or the working life of the individual. While ever we have capitalism there will always be this struggle and if people are off guard the working week and life will be ever extended. AND PEOPLE ARE OFF GUARD!

    And we are definitely not living through the early stages of socialism. But we are living through that period where capitalism becomes an impediment to further progress. This could go either 2 ways, socialism or barbarism.

    I would put most of your money on barbarism!

    • Ben Says:

      Sure, the working week isn’t shortening as fast as it once was, but that’s why I support things like paid leave, maternity leave, paternity leave etc in the US which I believe are desperately needed.

      Germany’s workers work just 1370 hours a year (compared to almost 1800 in the US) and they still have one of the most successful and wealthiest countries and they are far from Marxist.

      You do not have to resort to state-ownership of the means of production to push for reduced working weeks and less unequal societies.

  11. jlowrie Says:

    Ben says

    Countries that ditch bad leaders and open themselves up to the world and adopt mainly capitalist systems can generate immense wealth and growth for themselves; see Chile, Singapore, South Korea, Japan etc.

    I fear the exact opposite is true of Ben’s assertions, which have no basis in historical reality. Let us take Japan : the leaders who ruled it after the war were the same ones who ruled it before and during the war. Many of them made fortunes in China. Corruption was the name of the game. A case in point was Prime Minister, Tanaka, corrupt through and through. Same for Korea, ruled by military dictators who had served with the Japanese army during the war. ( this is morally equivalent to the first Israeli presidents having served in the S.S.). Of course that does not mean they had no good economic policies. For example, I believe, in the early days when they were building up their economy, it was a capital offence in Korea illegally to export capital! I certainly support this policy. Imagine if the Greeks had instituted it in 1990? Incidentally, the economies of Japan and Korea were not open to the world during their economic takeoff.

    Now Japan has certainly been an economic success story, but if it has, then Chile certainly has not. Its per capita GDP in 1928 was about $3000, that of Japan $1917, and that of the USSR $1370. By 1989 the respective figures are, approximately, $6,500, $17,757 and $7,000. Nor had Chile been devastated by war! Clearly they would have done better with a Stalin! (cf Allen, ‘Farm to Factory’ 2003)

  12. flassbeck economics international - Economics and politics - comment and analysis Says:

    […] global economy. Capitalism is, by far, the most productive system ever and it will not fail (see here). He did not ask the […]

  13. matthewrusso9 Says:

    Brad DeWrong, a fine trifecta of technological determinism (Schumpeter?), neo-Smithianism and neo-Malthusianism, with a “strong leader” cherry on top. As in Pinochet (Chile), developmental dictatorships (South Korea, Singapore) and ultra-mercantilism as a US protectorate (Japan, until it ‘opened up to the world’ after the 1980’s , and you know the rest). The dogma that the postwar “golden age” is the eternal golden mean rather than an exceptional moment the result of extraordinary extra-economic factors, is to be defended at all costs.

    And anyway, how would anyone know what will be, 30 years from now, on the basis of economics?

  14. matthewrusso9 Says:

    Oh, and neglected to add that I’m still waiting for Keynes’ 15 hour week. I expect to be working full time until 70, Ben.

    • Ben Says:

      How many hours does your full-time job involve? 40 hours a week? 35? The average is just 33 today in America over all workers. In Keynes’ time in the 30s, the average was around 48 hours. And, for that full time job you gain far greater purchasing power than before.

      • sartesian Says:

        My full time job, before I retired, usually involved 65 hours/week on the property, 1 or 2 hours on the phone every night after I left the property, and availability 24/7.

        As for the average 33 hours per week– can I see the source please?

      • sartesian Says:

        Just so you know Ben, the US BLS reports that avg hours for those in manufacturing has been above 40/week since 2011.

  15. SimonH Says:

    So that’s all Ben has to say after all the refutation levelled against me. ‘Someone called me racist!’. Sad so sad.

  16. SimonH Says:

    Levelled against him I mean.

  17. SimonH Says:

    People don’t vote for socialist policies? Um Ben you should read up on history, both recent and non because there has been a lot of voting for socialist policies. Also a lot of imperialist intervention to overturn these democratic decisions but you don’t care about that do you, colonialism is all in the past yo!

  18. Choppa Morph Says:

    The arguments about a mode of production rising or falling with a single country (eg in our case the Soviet Union) totally ignore Marx’s work on uncovering the historical economic developments underlying such change. The capitalist bourgeois system wasn’t smashed by the execrable reaction of the Counter-Reformation, but it was delayed in a large part of the world. Why? Because the productive forces freed and unleashed by capitalism were unstoppable and irreversible (without catastrophic collapse of all human society). But the relations of production remained feudal much longer than they should have. Only the combination of the English and French Revolutions, separated by more than a century, swept the feudal shit into the Great Cesspool in the Sky where these historical abominations belong.

    Same story with the socialist mode of production – capitalism, as Marx maintained repeatedly in Capital III had already outgrown its productive limits (conceptually speaking) in his day. Capitalism was abolishing itself within the framework of capitalist relations of production. None of the old small-scale independent capitalist elements had any force in the age of Big Finance, trusts and the complete collectivization of production and distribution de facto. And this development of the productive forces won’t stop, as computerization (an even more universal force for collective planning and decision-making) confirms. So the battle is all about the relations of production, and keeping the thoroughly planned, collectivized, international elements of the new mode of production in fetters and the contradictory political straitjacket of nominally private ownership and control. Primitive Socialist Accumulation comes onto the scene where the controlling elements of an economy are not in capitalist hands, as in the Soviet Union and China. Since the battle for the emergence of a non-primitive ie real socialist ie democratic world socialist economy has hardly been underway for a century (1917 is a good year to take as a starting point!) and an advanced industrial economy (like the US, Japan or Germany) has not yet dumped the bourgeois state, it stands to reason that the Law of Value is still strong and in sole control in most countries, and very powerful even in essentially non-capitalist countries like the old Soviet Union and present-day China.

    But this is the dialectic of history, and full of real contradictions that kill people and cripple progress. So apologetic economists and tub-thumpers don’t want anything to do with it.

    History (ie society and economies) develops through bloody conflict over material interests (“The history of all hitherto existing society
    is the history of class struggles. “).

    Think about it….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: