ASSA 2021: part two – the radical answers

At the annual conference of the American Economics Association (ASSA), there are sessions hosted by the Union for Radical Political Economics (URPE) for Marxist and other heterodox economists to present papers.

At this year’s ASSA 2021, many of the URPE sessions were concerned with the economic impact of COVID-19 and climate change, as did the mainstream sessions, but, of course, from a different perspective. But before I look at those sessions, let me start with the annual David Gordon lecture presented by a different radical economist each year.

This year it was Michael Hudson who gave the lecture. Hudson is a longstanding radical economist with a wide reputation.  He considers himself a classical’ economist. His theme for the lecture was Has Finance Capitalism Destroyed Industrial Capitalism?  Hudson argued that capitalism started as a progressive force in developing the productive forces because it was industrial capitalism.  But since the 1980s, ‘financial capitalism’ had superseded industrial capitalism.  And this was really a return to feudalism where the surplus in an economy was extracted by landlords (rent) and financiers (interest and capital gains), not by exploitation of labour power (profits).

Feudalism had originally been critiqued by the great classical economists like Adam Smith and David Ricardo who reckoned that the landlords and financiers held back the productivity of labour by reducing the surplus going to the industrial capitalists.  Hudson argued that Marx also supported industrial capitalism as progressive, being he was “the last of the great classical economists.”

Hudson argued that Marx had a vision that capitalism will eventually create the objective conditions for a transition to socialism. Instead, in the last 50 years finance capital has blocked that vision with a form of ‘neo-feudalism’ represented by monopolies extracting ‘rents’ and bankers extracting interest and capital gains.  And now the main enemy of workers was not the capitalist owners of industrial companies, but rentier capitalists who exploit us through mortgages, loan rates, housing rents etc. And now it was rising debt that was the cause of capitalist crises and not the falling rate of profit of productive capital.  This was where David Harvey  and Hyman Minsky had taken us forward from Marx.

I disagree.  This classic financialisation’ thesis by Hudson has many holes, in my opinion.  First, modern capitalism can hardly be described as ‘neo-feudalism’ because feudalism was never a mode of production based on monopoly rents or usury.  Under feudalism, the surplus created by the serfs and peasants was appropriated by landed aristocracy directly from the produce of the land.  Commercial and financial activity was an adjunct, not the dominant activity of feudalism.

Yes, the classical economists opposed the landlords and monopolies and supported industrial capitalism, but the whole point of the Marxist critique was to reveal the new form of exploitation under the capitalist mode of production, namely the exploitation of labour power for profit by capitalists (industrial capitalists).  Indeed, Marx’s Capital has a subtitle: A critique of political economy; and back in 1842, Engels wrote a piece entitled An outline of a critique of political economy Both attacked the position of classical political economy because it backed markets and the exploitation of workers for profit in industry.

At no time did Marx or Engels suggest that ‘industrial capitalism’ could move smoothly to socialism without first ending the contradiction between labour and capital through class struggle. The idea of a seamless progression to socialism was that of the later revisionists like Eduard Bernstein. Yet Hudson seemed to suggest that the gains that workers made in public services, wages and welfare in the ‘golden age’ after WW2 were made possible because it was in the interests of the ‘progressive’ industrial capitalists. Tell that to the workers who had to fight hard for these gains!  These gains were only possible because the industrial capitalists were forced to concede them by labour action; and they were able to do so only because profitability of capital was relatively high. But when profitability started to fall in the 1970s, ushering in the era of ‘neo-liberalism’, that was when there was a reversal of those gains and the relative rise of financial capital.

Indeed, the idea that we can divide capitalism into progressive industrial capitalism and reactionary monopoly financial capitalism is not only not the Marxist view, it is also empirically invalid. There is a very high integration between financial and industrial functions in modern capitalist companies – they are not separate.  And most important, the industrial surplus value-creating function is still the largest section of capital by any measure. 

Josh Mason from John Jay College was the discussant on the Hudson’s lecture and he made some telling points. He queried Hudson’s claim that industrial capitalists supported better public services because it raised the quality of the labour force.  Mason argued that industrial capitalists’ main aim is always to lower wage costs and, for them, public services are a cost not a saving.  In the neo-liberal period, industry supported austerity, crushed trade unions and demanded public spending cuts just as much as bankers. And monopolies are found in industrial sectors just as much as in finance. Moreover, is Jeff Bezos just a rent extractor?  Surely Amazon exploits workers for profit in its distribution and web services like an industrial capitalist, not like a ‘neo-feudal’ financier?

For me, the Hudson ‘financialisation’ thesis not only weakens and distorts Marx’s critique of capitalism by ditching his law of value for post-Keynesian monopoly rent extraction theory.  It is also empirically incorrect.  And it leaves the door open for a reformist policy: that if we regulate or control the finance sector and monopolies and return to ‘competitive industrial capitalism’ (something that never really existed), then we can gradually move onto socialism.

But let’s move on here too. There were some important papers on China in the URPE sessions.  Minqi Li of the University of Utah made a compelling empirical case that China was not an imperialist country in Marxist terms. Li argued that, although China had developed an exploitative relationship with South Asia, Africa, and other raw material exporters, China continued to transfer a greater amount of surplus value to the core countries in the capitalist world system than it receives from the periphery. Just handful of countries are rentier imperialist economies getting super profits from working people in global south and China is not one of them.

China has a net stock of financial investment of around $2trn, but this is mainly FX reserves held in US T-bonds ($3.5trn).  Gross FDI stock is $1.7trn, but only a tiny share is invested in Africa or Lat Am. It’s mostly in tax havens!  So 90% has not been invested for imperial super-profits. Indeed, the profitability of China’s FDI is lower than profitability for foreigners on inward investment into China ie China’s net investment income from abroad is negative.

Zhonglin Li and David Kotz reach a similar conclusion in their paper. IsChinaImperialist_EconomyStateAnd_preview (1) China is ruled by a Communist Party that came to power through a socialist revolution. China still has a significant sector of large state-owned enterprises and the party and state exercise considerable control over the economy. China’s role in other parts of the world does not fit the Marxist concept of imperialism. China does not operate a free market economy, as the CP is still directing investment and employment to a great degree.

Li and Kotz argued that the pro-market faction has not triumphed in China.  Indeed, this is also the conclusion of another paper by Isabelle Weber of UMA.  HowChinaEscapedShockTherapy_TheMar_preview (2) She reckoned the direction of ‘more market’ was dominant among Chinese reformers very early in the reform process in the 1980s, but the question of how to introduce market mechanisms into China’s command economy remained highly contested and is still unresolved.

Two other Chinese scholars provided further empirical support for the view that China is not imperialist.  UnderstandingChina’sNew“DualCirc_preview Using the world input-output database, Su from Nanking University and Liang from UMA reckon China transfers up to 10% of its value added through trade to the US and other imperialist economies.  Indeed, there is an asymmetrical trade relationship with the US, so that if the US and China were to completely halt and transfer their bilateral merchandise trade to elsewhere, the Chinese economy would lose 2.5 percentage points in its growth rate and over ten million jobs, while the United States would gain 1.3 percentage points in growth and some 700 thousand jobs. That is why President Xi is looking to adopt a ‘dual circulation’ strategy of switching more to the domestic market.

All these studies confirm the empirical work that G Carchedi and I first presented to the Historical Materialism conference in 2019.  China is not an imperialist country in the Marxist definition. But two questions on China were still unanswered for me. All the contributors reckoned that China was a capitalist state in some form, if not imperialist. In which case 1) how did this capitalist economy perform so unprecedently well during the neo-liberal period when the imperialist economies and other peripheral capitalist economies did so poorly?; and 2) if China is capitalist and yet so huge, will it eventually become imperialist? But that’s for another day.

There were also several good papers on the impact of COVID and the economics of climate change.  Ron Baiman of Benedictine University highlighted the huge loss in Arctic ice in the recent period that had now become a tipping point in its impact on global warming. InSupportOfARenewableEnergyAndMat_powerpoint (1) Stopping emissions rising was not enough. We need to reduce the existing carbon stock. If we could reduce the stock already in Arctic, we could give the planet an extra 17 years to turn things round.  It was utopian to solve the crises by looking to achieve zero emissions alone. He reckoned that there were technical solutions that could lower stock levels including Arctic Sea-Ice climate triage and carbon cycle climate restoration “that would rapidly move us toward avoiding increasingly catastrophic climate impacts.”  Strangely, he did not mention to need to phase out fossil fuel production as well.

Robert Williams of Guilford College gave us chapter and version on how the COVID pandemic would increase the already high levels of inequality of wealth and income in the major capitalist economies.  Even before the COVID, Federal Reserve policies “have lavished hundreds of billions of dollars annually on the rich. Despite an unemployment rate trumpeted by many for its 50-year low, these structural forces and policies have left the vast majority of US households were wholly unprepared for sudden onslaught of the coronavirus.”

Chyrs Esseau, Tomar Galaragga and Sherif Khalifa in their papers showed how previous epidemics have affected income inequality. They found that an epidemic/pandemic shock increased income inequality by 4.6 points (gini coefficient). “We conclude that the epidemics and pandemics of the early 21st century contributed to the stagnation, and even worsening, of the otherwise slightly decreasing trends in global income inequality.”

Sergio Camara from the Autonomous Metropolitan University of Mexico provided an overall Marxian framework for the COVID pandemic, breaking the crisis down into its cyclical, structural and systemic parts.  Cyclically, the world economy was already “on the verge of falling into a new cyclical crisis because of the imbalances accumulated after the 2007-2009 cyclical crisis.” Structurally, the major capitalist economies were not equipped to handle the pandemic because they had run down the health, medical and public services needed to cope. And systemically, the pandemic had shown that capitalism’s drive for profit over need leads to recurring crises in humanity, the climate and nature.

Finally, there was a session on ‘post-capitalist futures’ which, I think, exposed how market economies cannot cope with pandemics and reinforced the need for democratic socialist planning of economies.  Robin Hahnel and Mitchell Szczepanczyk presented the results of their innovative attempt to model democratic annual planning in a post-capitalist economy.  ComputerSimulationExperimentsOfParti_powerpoint Through iterative computer simulations of the planning process from local to central level and back, using a new computer coding technique, they found that it would not take a long at all to reach a feasible and practical annual plan to meet social needs with available resources which involved the participation and democratic decisions of people.

This was another compelling refutation of the critique made by neoclassical pro-market theorists like Von Mises and Hayek; and Keynesian pro-market social democrats like Alec Nove who argued that socialist planning was infeasible because there were just too many calculations to make.  Only the invisible hand of the market and market pricing could do this.  This paper showed that this was not true, especially now with the advances in computer programming.  Democratic socialist planning can work and can replace market chaos.

41 thoughts on “ASSA 2021: part two – the radical answers

  1. I’m not an economist. I like Michael Hudson, but isn’t his support for Modern Monetary Theory a contradiction to Marxism or is that a side issue? I’m with you on labor theory of value, which feudalism does not allow for, as you explained. Anyway, thank you for your work. An Amateur Marxist.

  2. Respectfully, two objections.

    Michael Hudson considers himself a Classical Economist, which according to him includes Marx’s contributions. Calling him a Marxist does violence to how he feels about Adam Smith, Richardo, and John Stewart Mill.

    Feudalism is land monopoly.

    1. Hi Debra on no 1 you are right as I misread the bio on wiki. Calling himself a classical economist is consistent with MHs position which from a Marxist perspective is wrong. On 2 well yes but only in the sense that capitalism is also a monopoly of the means of production. But that is not what we are discussing here which is whether capitalism has changed from competitive markets in industry into monopolies in finance. And what that means for understanding crises in capitalism and the nature of modern class struggle

    2. Doesn’t change the fact that Hudson is objectively wrong from the historical point of view. Feudalism is not what he says it is.

      In fact, Feudalism was the polar opposite of what he means: it was the anti-finance system par excellence. The feudal system abhorred finance by design.

      We can’t use any capitalist concept to feudalism. Feudalism is not land monopoly. To apply capitalist concepts to feudalism is to commit serious anachronisms.

  3. Thanks so much for the planning section! We long ago reached the point at which computing power was not an issue, but now the revolution in logistics makes the potential easier to explain – and to implement (i.e. once the 30000 each worker and consumer councils which are projected are forged in coming battles).

  4. Is it possible to download the ASSA papers anywhere? Couldn’t find a link on the website. I’m particularly interested in Prof. Camara’s paper.

  5. 1. It’s “serfs” not “surfs”.

    2. The labour theory of value is based on the concept of socially necessary labour time. “Let us now picture to ourselves, by way of change, a community of free individuals, carrying on their work with the means of production in common, in which the labour power of all the different individuals is consciously applied as the combined labour power of the community. All the characteristics of Robinson’s labour are here repeated, but with this difference, that they are social, instead of individual. Everything produced by him was exclusively the result of his own personal labour, and therefore simply an object of use for himself. The total product of our community is a social product. One portion serves as fresh means of production and remains social. But another portion is consumed by the members as means of subsistence. A distribution of this portion amongst them is consequently necessary. The mode of this distribution will vary with the productive organisation of the community, and the degree of historical development attained by the producers. We will assume, but merely for the sake of a parallel with the production of commodities, that the share of each individual producer in the means of subsistence is determined by his labour time. Labour time would, in that case, play a double part. Its apportionment in accordance with a definite social plan maintains the proper proportion between the different kinds of work to be done and the various wants of the community. On the other hand, it also serves as a measure of the portion of the common labour borne by each individual, and of his share in the part of the total product destined for individual consumption. The social relations of the individual producers, with regard both to their labour and to its products, are in this case perfectly simple and intelligible, and that with regard not only to production but also to distribution.”
    from CAPITAL volume I, chapter one

    SNLT is an abstraction, but not an empty abstraction. It is the blood, sweat, tears and TIME from living, breathing workers crystallised in the product of their labour, that product become the commodified wealth owned by their employers, owned for their own use, including sale with a view to profit.

    Again the real “perversion” of the fetishism of commodities is the upside-down perceptions about who produces the wealth in the minds of the producers. Because private ownership of use values is legitimised from womb to tomb in capitalist society and because price mystifies value along with the universal equivalent, the money commodity, the subject/object relation is turned on its head and labour perceives capital as creating the wealth and labour as being glad to be able to sell its commodified skills so that it can trade the price of its skills for the prices of commodities for sale in the Market–the Market, which is socially treated as if it were a god.

    Demystifyng the subject/object relation is why Marx proposed using SNLT vouchers in the lower stage of communism as it just emerges from capitalist social relations and why Engels would write about abolishing the commodification of wealth in Anti-Duhring. Did anyone propose the abolition of the commodification of wealth and the wealth producers’ skills via the abolition of the wage system at this conference, at least that you know of?

    1. I think the paper on planning starts from the premise of using labour time and not money as the measure as it aims to show that money and market prices would be unnecessary in a post capitalist economy or lower stage of communism

      1. Sorry. I looked it over. It’s all about prices, which of course means commodity production/sale. I find it very interesting that none of the Marxists are proposing what Marx proposed.

  6. Michael Roberts wrote

    “For me, the Hudson ‘financialisation’ thesis not only weakens and distorts Marx’s critique of capitalism by ditching his law of value for post-Keynesian monopoly rent extraction theory. It is also empirically incorrect. And it leaves the door open for a reformist policy: that if we regulate or control the finance sector and monopolies and return to ‘competitive industrial capitalism’ (something that never really existed), then we can gradually move onto socialism.”

    I’ve been following Hudson for a while, on and off and I fully agree with your assessment, for what my opinion might be worth.

    Indeed, I’d go further. Hudson’s FIRE thesis is retrograde even compared to neoclassical economics. As you pointed out, all monopolies (whether industrial or FIRE) extract consistent superprofits or “rents”. Neoclassicals agree with that, as well. Hudson apparently denies that industrial monopolies extract rent. For him, it’s only the FIRE sector.

  7. Finished Engels 200 recently, loved it but maybe you were preaching to the choir in my case. (Soon to read Hadas.)

    Hudson at least is not a hired pugilist, to borrow a phrase, but I can’t tell that he’s so different from a Dean Baker or even a Henry George (maybe Rodbertus?) Antitrust, soft money/low interest, etc. these are largely vain efforts to restore an imagined petty bourgeois past, utopian, or so it seems to me.

  8. Michael Roberts critiques Michael Hudson’s theory of financialized capitalism as rentier Neo-feudalism. Hudson is the economist I linked you to recently who has some interesting things to say.

    Sent from my iPad


  9. Hi Michael.

    I come from Vietnam. I have been following your blog for a long time. I very admire what you wrote. Thank you very much for helping me to understand so much more about capitalism in Marxist terms.

    I think my economic knowledge is still limited, since I am only a software engineer. However, with my knowledge, especially understanding of China, I would like to try answering your 2 questions:
    “China is not an imperialist country in the Marxist definition. But two questions on China were still unanswered for me. All the contributors reckoned that China was a capitalist state in some form, if not imperialist. In which case 1) how did this capitalist economy perform so unprecedently well during the neo-liberal period when the imperialist economies and other peripheral capitalist economies did so poorly?; and 2) if China is capitalist and yet so huge, will it eventually become imperialist?”

    Firstly, in my opinion, China is an imperialist country in the Marxist definition. I have read Li Min Qi ‘s book. Mr. Li is very talented and he is a Marxist. However, when he said that “China continued to transfer a greater amount of surplus value to the core countries in the capitalist world system than it receives from the periphery”, I think this perspective is incomplete. China is not only a huge country but also a world (nested in our world). In the world of China, there are also its core and its periphery. And that is the key point to answer your first question. Chinese capitalism benefits not only from the periphery of the outside world but also from its own domestic periphery.

    Second, in answer to your second question, will China eventually become an imperialist (as defined by Mr. Li and some others). My answer is NO. I have read about Chinese history. To the north, the Great Wall is the boundary of Chinese civilization. The Chinese rarely had a need to expand beyond the Great Wall. Even today, some Chinese economists boldly proclaim “investment does not go north of the Shanhai Pass”!(*) To the south, China has no need to go beyond the 17th parallel, which I do not want to go into detail because there are so many sensitive political issues. To the east, they never even paid attention to Japan. As for the west, look at maps of the Han and Tang dynasties, the two greatest dynasties in China’s recent 2000-year history, the only thing they really needed was a corridor, a road (belt and road). There are many explanations for this phenomenon. In my opinion, Chinese rulers in history did not want to rule over peoples other than their own cultures and civilizations, simply because they had so much work to do with their vast empire. Next, more substantially, China was too rich to have the need to expand beyond its traditional borders. Historically, China made the surrounding nations vassal and pay tribute. However, tribute to the Chinese emperors was only symbolic for the supremacy of the Celestial Empire (天朝). The emperors received tributes and returned gifts which valued many times the amount received, to the vassal ambassadors to prove the wealth of the empire. Today, China is a capitalist economy, I’m not sure if the Chinese government is as generous as the ancient emperors. However, once profits from the periphery within the country are higher than from the outside, there is no incentive to make capitalists excited to move out of their home borders.

    Above are some of my shares. I hope that in your upcoming posts, there will be many questions about East Asia, Southeast Asia and especially countries like China. Thanks for your valuable posts.

    (*) Perhaps it’s not surprising that financiers in Beijing and Shanghai joke that “investment does not go north of the Shanhai Pass” — the final outpost of the Great Wall that once separated Chinese civilisation from the barbarian hordes of the north-east. (FT – China’s shrinking cities: ‘Most of my classmates have left’)

    1. “China is not only a huge country but also a world (nested in our world). In the world of China, there are also its core and its periphery. And that is the key point to answer your first question. Chinese capitalism benefits not only from the periphery of the outside world but also from its own domestic periphery.”

      This seems like a direct contradiction with China’s huge investment in infrastructure and political/social-economic compromise with poverty alleviation.
      It may very well be that right now or in the recent past China is benefiting from such internal dynamics but any attempts to project this into the future is dubious at best as it already is stretching the definition of imperialism which was never about internal differences in development and exploitation rates.

      It is really dangerous because by that silly measure every poor third would country sufficiently big is imperialist simply because different regions are more developed than others. You could say the same about all the BRICs, all huge countries with some of the largest populations and large differences in internal development.

      Is Brazil imperialist when Petrobras goes and “invests” in Bolivian natural gas? Maybe, perhaps almost certainly. But Brazil isn’t imperialist because the Northeast(the poor and mostly black/brown population) is far less socialy/economicaly developed than the South/Southeast regions.

      This isn’t to say there isn’t malevolent political/economical/social reasons or I should say Marxist interpretations(for short) to explain this exploitation, this is undeniable, but that if you are not careful you can send the wrong message and end up calling some of the most exploited countries in the world “imperialist” because they are not fortunate enough to have the chance of equally developing their large territories.

      Indeed by now I’d say if Imperialism means “differences in internal rates of exploitation that leads to value transfer between regions of a country” then this is a completely worthless definition of “imperialism”.

    2. Since you mention you’re Vietnamese, I suspect you’re pushing for the “China is imperialist” narrative because of the South China Sea imbroglio.

      It’s important to state that the UNCLOS does allow for any nation-state to make maritime claims over whatever piece of ocean they want. Emphasis on the word “claim”. That’s exactly what China is doing: they claimed the South China Sea and is occupying and exploiting it for oil and gas – but, most importantly, to protect its sea routes from an American embargo. This is a defensive maneuver, against a legitimate foreign invader (the USA).

      What the USA is doing is completely illegal: there is no “Freedom of Navigation Operations”. Either there’s freedom of navigation or there isn’t; if you’re sending your navy under the argument you’re ensuring freedom of navigation, then by definition you’re destroying freedom of navigation. The USA is repeating the error of the Vietnam War in this case, when it claimed that “in order to save democracy, we have to destroy it”.

      The imbroglio with Vietnam comes from some significant oil reserves in the northern part of the SCS. But China is negotiating bilaterally with Vietnam over these disputes, which is a completely normal phenomenon in a nation-state system.

  10. 1. China is not a Western-style market economy, but it is capitalist. Both private and state corporations go for profit. And on the other side of the coin, unified planning of investment was destroyed about thirty years ago.

    2. China’s monopolies are driven to foreign markets and investment opportunities just like Western monopolies. And the contention between China, the U.S., and European powers to influence the economic path of smaller and weaker economies is obvious. That is imperialism.

    1. You’re confusing two completely different things:

      1) we live in a capitalist world. That is, capitalism is the dominant system in our present world;

      2) China is a socialist nation-state.

      The two things are not contradictory at all. China is a socialist nation, but, when interacting with the rest of the world, it has to follow the capitalist rules (or risk becoming North Korea). As you probably live in a capitalist nation-state, it is self-evident you see China as a capitalist agent, as that is the line of contact you can observe, i.e. from a citizen of a capitalist society point of view.

  11. ”It would not take long at all’. According to Cockshott and Cottrell minutes! 2009.

    Cockshott and Cotterell’s ”Towards a New Socialism” was written in the late 1980’s as a refutation of Nove’s arguments, which arose from an almost annual debate at the Institute of Soviet Studies at Glasgow University between Nove and Hillel Tiktin (on the Marxist side) on the feasibility of socialist planning. I had on one occasion attended and and felt that Tiktin had no answers to Nove’s arguments ”Hillel, Who will get to eat the fillet steak in your society?” All I can recall was vague talk of abundance and the failings of ‘Stalinism.’ This of course was going to get us nowhere. Since then Cockshott and his collaborators have issued many papers refuting von Mises and Hayek, and demonstrating the feasibility of socialist planning, and analysing the issues that arise e.g.the persistence of the law of value and abstract labour under socialism etc. So while the work of Hahnel and co. is very welcome, one should be aware that there already exists a rich body of works that addresses these questions. In particular, for those like me whose maths are not up to some of the demonstrations, Cockshott has produced some 50 videos that simplify the arguments. I believe Cockshott and Cottrell are producing a new work on Socialist Planning that will include the latest advances in computation.

    1. I agree entirely that Cockshott and Cotterell have made important steps in showing the validity of socialist planning in a post-capitalist economy. As you say, Hahnel et al are adding more grist to the mill on these advances

  12. Dear comrade
    First of all, thank you very much for your work – i really appreciate it. I have a question regarding Minqi Li’s presentation: does he present any new insights on the issue of imperialism and China in comparison to the book “China and the Twenty-First Century Crisis” he published 5 years ago?

  13. Dear comrade Roberts!

    Sorry for being kind of off topic here, but I’m reading your review of Tsoulfidis & Tsaliki’s recent and ambitious book (2019) as available at (pdf button is on the right for download — for the readers). Will you make this review of yours available on your blog as well in the future?

    This review of yours is like 70% appraisal, 10% “friendly fire”, 20% valid criticism. If you decide to publish this criticism of yours on your blog, would you be so kind to highlight your critical points by linking to your previous articles where you deal with these issues? I’m personally in the beginning stages of mapping out these differences between different schools of economics, different sects, different marxianisms and Marxist interpretations, and it would help me a lot if you did.

    thank you in advance,
    one of your devout readers

    p.s. is it true that you are a descendant of Trotsky?

  14. Thank you once more for the second report. If you captured the tenor of the China debate, it is quite unremarkable. Firstly, the issue of state control and direction is over-egged, always. In the article cited below, the latest Pentagon Briefing to Congress shows how unintegrated the Chinese economy was previously, as China goes on a war footing. It is a much fresher read the stale academic reports on China. Furthermore, in my analysis of the vital and strategic Chinese electronic chip industry the opposite holds true. The reason why China was caught flatfooted by Trump’s electronic embargoes is that China’s electronic industry was hobbled, not by state control, but the profit motive. Simply put, China was unable to develop an indigenous electronic industry because its output was unsellable. Lenova and Huawei could never have emerged as world-class had they relied on Chinese Chips which were primitive. Of course, the Chinese State could have produced a parallel electronic industry whose production was not for sale, but purely to develop catch up technology. It did not until Trump forced them to do this. We should never forget that as recently as ten years ago China was primarily a contract manufacturer, and it is only now beginning to develop world class technology. This restructuring of the world division of labour is a more important discussion than the ping pong over whether it is an imperialist nation. That will be decided the forthcoming war between the USA and China, with the USA being the aggressor because it is running out of time. If China prevails, and in doing so incorporates Taiwan with its technology base, then it will become the hegemonic global economy and the debate over whether it is imperialist or not will be settled once and for all. Attention should be drawn to the scale of China’s re-arming, especially its navy and air force. The new military shipyard in Shanghai, for example, which is capable of building 6 destroyers a year, surpasses the entire US capacity to build large ocean going warships excluding aircraft carriers. the-chinese-century.pdf (

      1. Hi Walter, there seems to be a glitch with my site. The site is and the article is THE CHINESE CENTURY. The Technology Gap Closes. The link should be Also this article is worth reading about the scale of the arms race which China will win because its industrial base is three times larger than the USA. The Chinese Navy Is Building An Incredible Number Of Warships (

  15. Michael,
    Thank you for your comments on my presentation! Two clarifications: a) 17 years of GHG emissions is the equivalent warming impact of losing Arctic sea ice. Melting Arctic ice that could happen in Sep by 2025, and in following years other months, would impact the entire global climate with possibly catastrophic consequences if we don’t employ “climate triage” to stop it now. b) Though we obviously will have to move to renewables eventually, “fossil fuel” purity is a misguided short-run goal. As you pointed out the goal should be removing carbon from atmosphere and ocean – so carbon negative fossil fuel use would work for this (as in Global Thermostat natural gas fired power plants). Yes we need to cut emissions where we can as much as possible as this will make it easier to draw down carbon, but, esp developing countries, cannot give up fossil fuel and resources that their economies depend on (often state owned companies) anytime soon. We need to work on both fronts, and use fossil fuels to draw down more carbon than they emit in situations where use of fossil fuel cannot be avoided. We need a Global Green New Deal with triage and climate restoration (ie carbon removal, sequestration, and use) to move toward a Renewable Energy and Materials Economy (REME) based on a Human Designed Carbon Cycle Run by Renewable Energy (HDCCRRE) – following Eisenberger (and to some extent Chichilnisky)!
    Ron Baiman

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