Japan: the ‘new capitalism’ updated

Japan’s prime minister Fumio Kishida comfortably won last October’s general election for the lower house of the Diet for the ruling Liberal Democrats (albeit with a slightly reduced majority).  And he is headed for victory in this Sunday’s upper house election, likely to extend the number of seats it holds to 60 out of 125 contested.  So politically, Kishida is in a strong position.

Former banker Kishida campaigned on a program that he claimed was going to revive the Japanese economy with what he called a “new capitalism”, supposedly a rejection of ‘neoliberalism’ as operated by previous PMs like Abe.  Instead, he would reduce inequality, help small businesses over the large and ‘level up’ society.  This would break with Abe’s emphasis on ‘structural reform’ ie reducing pensions, welfare spending and deregulating the economy. 

How is ‘new capitalism’ doing in Japan after eight months?  Not too well.  The Japanese economy contracted in Q1 2022. Record Covid-19 case numbers led the government to introduce quasi-state-of-emergency measures, which along with rising inflation caused private consumption and investment to fall. In Q2, the economy was still struggling. Export growth and manufacturing activity are still sliding, due to supply bottlenecks and a slowing global economy due to war in Ukraine, Covid-19 lockdowns in China and higher global inflation and interest rates. Indeed, real GDP was still 2.9% below its pre-pandemic peak at the end of 2021 when Kishida took over.  That’s a weaker performance than most developed economies.  And there has been no improvement in 2022.

Indeed, according to the OECD, Japan’s GDP per head is still nearly 20% below its G7 leaders; inequality of income remains higher than in most advanced economies; and pollution and greenhouse gas emission are still way too high compared to Paris climate change targets.

Japan has suffered the same shocks that have affected the global economy amid a surge in oil and gas prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But while consumer price inflation has soared above 8% in the US and the UK, Japan’s headline inflation has risen to only 2.5%.

Why is that?  It’s mainly because the Japanese economy remains in the doldrums, continually teetering on outright recession.  So investment and consumer demand is weak. 

This is particularly the case with wages.  Wages even in nominal terms are no higher than before the start of the Great Recession in 2008.   

Indeed, it has been a feature of the last 25 years that wages have remained stagnant while profits have risen.

This is the product of the neo-liberal policies adopted by successive governments is trying to reverse the long-term decline in the profitability of Japanese capital, with only limited success. 

Japanese workers have paid for these higher profits during the Long Depression of the last decade. Even the Bank of Japan governor admitted as much.  Kuroda said persistent deflation between1998 and 2013 had made companies cautious about raising wages. “The economy recovered and companies recorded high profits,” he said. “The labour market became quite tight. But wages didn’t increase much and prices didn’t increase much.”  No wage-price spiral in Japan.

Even though the official unemployment rate is near all-time lows, as in other major economies, there is more ‘slack’ in the labor market than the 2.7% unemployment rate would otherwise indicate. The aggregate number of hours worked is still 2.8% below the level seen two years earlier. And companies are filling gaps in the ranks of their workforces with part-time workers at lower wages.  Unemployment is low because of the massive shrinkage in the working-age population, now declining at about 550,000 per year.  The impact on the labour market has been compensated for by a sharp rise in female employment, but female employees work in lower wage areas and receive lower wages than males.  This keeps wage pressure down and profits up.

Those in work are overworked.  Japan invented the term karoshi — death from overwork — 50 years ago following a string of employee tragedies.  Kishida and the large corporates are promoting the idea of a four-day week to relieve this pressure and increase productivity. But there is little sign that this or any other measure is working to raise productivity.  Productivity growth continues to slow; Japan has been one of the poorest performers for labour productivity in the last ten years.

The reason is clear.  Business investment growth is very weak.  Japan’s corporations may have increased profits at the expense of wages and even managed to raise the profitability of capital a little, but they are not investing that capital in new technology and productivity-enhancing equipment.  Real investment is no higher than in 2007.

And public investment (about one-quarter of business investment) is static. 

Japanese capital’s image of innovating technology appears to be long gone.  A mainstream measure of ‘innovation’ is called total factor productivity (TFP).  TFP growth has faded from over 1% a year in the 1990s to near zero now, while the huge capital investment of the 1980s and 1990s is nowhere to be seen.  Now Japan’s potential real GDP growth rate is close to zero.

Low wage growth, near stagnation in economic activity and productivity; and a falling workforce; driven by weak investment and falling profitability; have meant that the Bank of Japan has had to keep interest rates close to zero or even negative.  This has led to a sharp fall in the yen’s price against other currencies.  The yen is now near a 24-year low against the dollar.

This should help exports in dollar terms.  However, Japan’s famed export sector continues to lose ground in world markets, particularly as the auto sector is in deep crisis.

Japan’s ‘new capitalism’ under Kishida looks much the like the old, only worse.

36 thoughts on “Japan: the ‘new capitalism’ updated

  1. Are 8 months not too short a timeframe to judge any change in governance? Is there a better timeframe to reflect from?

    1. Well, the very fact that Abenomics/”Three Arrows” had to be replaced by another slogan-doctrine in just seven years already proved that at least that Kishida’s predecessor was a failure.

  2. “Japan has suffered the same shocks that have affected the global economy amid a surge in oil and gas prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But while consumer price inflation has soared above 8% in the US and the UK, Japan’s headline inflation has risen to only 2.5%.”

    The shock to the economy has not been caused by the invasion of Ukraine, it’s been caused by USNATO’s illegal sanctions used to try and destroy the Russian state.

  3. Good article which shows a zombie economy. This is what happens when an economy falls to its knees while the Japanese working class falls on its back. We must ensure that an intensification of the international class struggle prevents this from becoming the future normal.

    Your graph, Japanese Corporate Profits versus Wages, is most important. It mirrors both relatively and absolutely the gap that grew between the Japanese Producer Price Index and the Consumer Price Index. Before the pandemic that gap had opened up to 326% since 1960. However for the first time the supply crunch has inverted the Indexes, now it is PPI growing faster than CPI. The latest May data puts PPI at 9.1% down from 9.8% in April while CPI has remained at 2.5% (really!) The gap of 6 – 7% implies a severe profit squeeze, if this does not materialize then the 2.5% CPI is humbug and being used to con Japanese workers.

    1. Unless you’re talking in a very concrete sense (i.e. there is an international-level organization of the working class from all lands), then the concept of “international class struggle” is just another term to designate the impotence of the given national working class (in this case, the Japanese working class).

      Either you can organize and mobilize or you can’t.

  4. Japan was the great trade threat to the West prior to the 1990s.

    It’s internal cost structure rose to the point that Japanese business began to divert more investment to South East Asia and China.

    The same thing will eventually happen to China. (Also, the Chinese are internalizing their economy given the strategic situation and given they are being shut out of Western markets.)

    1. Japan was not “a great trade threat to the West prior to the 1990’s, maybe so prior to 1945, as England’s ally blocking Russia/USSR threat to Britania in east asia, but thereafter Japan has been (like Germany) politically and economically, a client state of Anglo/US imperialism. Inasmuch as China is a socialist country, its” internalizing its economy” can only make it stronger vis a vis the degenerating, war-mongering capitalist “West. So it would seem fortunate (to actual communists in the CPC and for the Chinese people, to be shut out of the chaos of Western Markets. So the real threat or bluster, from the West is the usual one: war. The Chinese also have the bomb.

      1. “actual communists in the CPC” – tucked away where? Can you name one actual communist in the leadership? Not someone who with his family has grabbed a fortune of several hundred million dollars, like Xi Jinping. Not someone who pushes continually for more private enterprise, like Li Keqiang. Just a communist who practices plain living and demonstrates understanding of Marxism, let alone Marxism-Leninism.

      2. Charles, you are right in surmising that I don’t know any “actual communists” in the CPC. That’s why I corrected myself and changed “inasmuch” to “insomuch” (as there are actual communists in China). Maybe there are none. But wouldn’t you agree that it’s a good bet that among the almost 100 million members of the CPC there be at least one communist? Is Le Kequing that one actual communist in the CPC?

        …There are two “Charles” who comment on this blog, one sympathetic to China and the other rabidly anti-communist. You seem to be neither of these Charles. …So….Charles the Third? …But my point was that China –or at least the Chinese people are fotunate that China has a large public sector and that the Party has been forced to turn inward and address its ecological concerns (which it has been doing with some very positive results)…

        ….In this regard, I attached a link to a piece that appeared in the Global Times yesterday. Like the Russian Times and the New York times, China’s Global Times is a semi-official, often tepid, voice of the State (CPC). Something has changed. I found this piece surprisingly transparent and interesting, and a refreshing piece of propaganda, especially compared to the vagaries of the NYT.

        https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202207/1270042.shtml

      3. How about both? It was basically the 1980s, not the 90s when Japan was “fingered.”

        You don’t remember the targeting of Japanese auto exports, stirring up anti-Asian hate? Perhaps you’re too young, but it was real. Japan was one of the direct targets of the Plaza Accords where US trading partners all “agreed” to intervene to depreciate the US dollar, boosting US manufacturing and agricultural exports, and BTW, lowering the “value” of the US Treasury instruments, of which Japan held the largest amount, purchased with the trade surpluses held by other countries.

        As a certain infamous US cabinet member stated to the Japanese, “It’s our currency, but it’s your problem.”

    2. AC,

      I think I might be a tad older than you. 🙂

      Yes, the West did start to rein in Japanese economic power in the 1980s but its effects was felt in Japan in the 1990s. And the targeting of Japan continued into the 1990s. I can remember concern being expressed about Japanese “infiltration” of western universities much as is happening now regarding Chinese “infiltration” of western universities.

      As Japan’s economic power waned, China’s accelerated. And China is now the economic bete noire of the West. But of course China’s economic rise also has strategic implications for the West. China’s economic power is being translated into military power and that military power is seeking an expression.

  5. Hi Michael The same chart is in twice as k8 and k8-1 It looks like the correct position for it is at k8-1 so I think k8 should have been a different chart? Could you please check? Dave

  6. One thing that strikes me, not only in Japan, is that “neoliberalism” as a historical response of capital against the downward trend of profitability by increasing the rate of exploitation, fails in the key element: the accumulation of capital. In one of the graphs this is clearly seen: relative wages fall sharply, that is, profits grow but accumulation does not take off. At one point the answer is simple: low wages can certainly inhibit technological innovation because the additional spending on constant fixed capital must be less than the saving on variable capital per unit produced for innovation to be profitable. Why does the collective capital (state) maintain this approach? I suspect it is the same reason he fears a great world depression: the fear of unemployment. At least the low wages + precarious work approach makes it possible to obtain “full employment” with low growth rates. For example, the United States had the lowest unemployment rate in 40 years before the pandemic, with the slowest post-war expansion. And now employment is also growing more than the product.

    1. There are two problems with your hypothesis:

      1) historically, the doctrine dedicated to full employment was Keynesianism, not Neoliberalism. On the contrary: the neoliberals were the inventors of the concept of “structural unemployment” (which is low in First World countries, but, in Third World countries, it is considered by them to be on the level of 15%-25% – very far from “structural” by any non-neoliberal standards);

      2) lower wages increase, not decrease, labor productivity. The higher the wage of the worker (i.e. the more middle class he/she is) the least productive he/she is. That’s one of the reasons the middle classes tend to be, in the long term, reactionary: their high salaries depend directly on the low salaries of the productive workers (the proletariat, the true working class).

      1. So you’re saying that the ‘middle classes’ are actually in alliance with the capitalist class, that they participate in the exploitation of the ‘real’ working class along with their capitalist compatriots? If so, then we’ll never get socialism in the so-called advanced economies as the middle classes are far larger than your ‘real’ working class and are far better organised, after all, they manage capitalism for the ruling class. Worse still, most so-called lefties (communists, socialists et al) are virtually all from the ‘middle classes’, so what does that make them? Counter revolutionaries? And given that your ‘real’ working classes are shrinking in the advanced heartland, basically, you’re saying that revolution is impossible here at least in the current conditions.

        Now would you apply the same analysis to the countries of the Global South and if so, what does that tell us?

      2. I am pleased that you have raised to the rank of hypothesis what I myself considered a mere suspicion.
        However, I think there are more problems in your answer than in my suspicion:
        1. Nowhere did I say that the goal of “neoliberalism” was full employment. In this sense, M. Friedman’s “theory” of the natural rate of unemployment, designed to justify unemployment under capitalism, is well known. But what I said is that the goal of “neoliberalism” was to counteract the profitability crisis of the 1970s by increasing the rate of exploitation.
        2. Yes. Low wages CAN inhibit technological innovation. I don’t know where you get that low wages raise productivity. Let us remember that for Marx productivity is linked to concrete labor, which creates use value, not to abstract (socially necessary) labor that creates value. So, if wages fall below the reproduced value of labor power, the rate of surplus value (and, céteris páribus, the rate of profit) increases but not necessarily the productivity of labor. In the countries of the capitalist periphery, wages are relatively lower than in the central countries, but labor productivity is not higher, on the contrary, it is lower.
        In sum, certainly the objective of “neoliberalism” was not “full employment” (you are absolutely right on this point), but paradoxically it led to a situation in which there are historically low rates of unemployment, with historically low rates of accumulation and low growth of the product and productivity. Why? Well, because neoliberalism took care of part of the problem: attacking the positions of the workers, but it did not generate a massive destruction and devaluation of capital on a sufficient scale to boost profitability and the dynamics of capital accumulation in the long term. We are now in the “neoliberal paradox” and I think that governments are afraid to undo it for fear of mass unemployment and the serious social and political crisis that this could generate.

      3. And I think it’s important to aggregate that the base of neoliberalism in terms of economic theory it’s not always was the same on the last 40/50 years: neoclassical-Keynesian synthesis, monetarism, new synthesis…I believe that all these tendencies coincide in the basics of the “neoliberal consensus”: deregulated labor markets, pushing for a low rate of unionization, transnationalization of imperialist capital, etc. The attack on the positions of the workers is more important than the reduction of spending and the deficit. In fact, public spending as a % of GDP has tended to increase, not decrease, in the last 50 years.

      4. @ barovsky

        Your deduction is correct: not only there will never be a revolution in the advanced capitalist nations, but their peoples will serve as the capitalist army in the event of a world revolution. You did not think the capitalists would fight in person, did you? Someone has to be military wing of the dominant class, no matter the mode of production (e.g. the nobles were the class which served as the military of the feudal lords).

        We’re already witnessing the inexorable descent of the First World nations into fascism (see the reversals of even the meager postmodern achievements in the USA such as the right to abortion; see the fascist uprisings in the Netherlands and Germany, led by the reactionary farmer class). There’s no need to develop it further, as it is a self-evident fact: in the First World, it is the far-right that has the initiative.

        The proletariat is, nowadays, mostly concentrated in China. The Chinese working class is the vanguard of the 21st Century, which makes it the mortal enemy of the USA and, by extension, all the NATO member-nations (see the last report produced by the last NATO summit in Madrid, a city where they could gather peacefully and without any popular resistance).

        –//–

        @ luisgac

        Exactly because lower wages curb technological development they rise profit rates.

        Higher wages only rise labor productivity when OCC rises, i.e. when they are the result of technological development. But that’s not the case of the USA (or, for that matter, the First World) today, which is going through an unstoppable process of deindustrialization; in this scenario, lower wages rise productivity of labor.

        Even taking OCC into account, if you take a fixed point in space-time of a given capitalist system, you have that the tendency is for the lower wages to be the most productive because the rate of surplus value tends to be higher; individual higher wages are only more productive when they represent a lower individual variable capital.

        The economic “theory” of Neoliberalism is Monetarism.

      5. @ luisgac

        Exactly because lower wages curb technological development they rise profit rates.

        Generally, I’d agree but there are exceptions. Firstly, control, over the production process can be more important than the ‘raw’ profit involved and second, where it’s vital for the ruling class to control information, in other words, ideology trumps surplus value. Years ago, I had mate, we were both in the YCL and he worked 2 jobs in the newspaper business but only one was real, the other was fake, such was the power of the (white, male) print unions to close down the capitalist press (I think it was the Daily Express or maybe the Telegraph) that they paid him to do nothing, or else!

      6. vk” 1)Historically Keynesianism was more concerned with fighting the gold standard, rather than full employment as such.

        2)Income defines class better than educational level but property, the role in the social production, defines class in the Marxist sense. A middle class professor in a university who receives a position in a policy institute and collects income from intellectual property is not the same as a public school teacher taking a public salary. Middle class people whose family will increase their wealth because property values in their area is rising are different from a middle class family whose children have to emigrate from an area where property values are dropping. [I keep thinking that if I had the access and skills I would compare indicators of Trumpery/cryptofascist support with failing property to see if that’s a major cause of the petty bourgeois rage?] Further, the salaries of the middle classes do *not* depend directly upon the low salaries of the productive workers. The process is very indirect. Also, the processes that redistributes surplus value, or profit if you prefer, also distributes some income to everyone, including proletarians. Furthermore, no one, most capitalists do actually engage in *some* productive labor of socially necessary labor of management. The only perfect parasite I suppose would be a lumpen criminal?

        I don’t know if barovsky is agreeing or merely shocked at what vk is saying here. But yes, vk is claiming that the Chinese proletariat is the enemy of all people in the US, for one, including especially the leeches on welfare. And the children too implicitly. vk is saying that fascist war against China is a perfectly rational strategy for all people in the US. I don’t think this is anything but vk’s fetish about demonizing the wrong kind of people.

        barovsky does ask how this analysis applies to the Global South. The answer will never be forthcoming, because the notion that the Chinese people will restore the profitability of the world capitalist system by the renovation of world economy under the Belt and Road Initiative is nonsense in my judgment. Capitalism has no future on a world scale. The New Silk Road is a road to nowhere. A multipolar world is a world in which war is the inevitable measurement of the balance of forces. The ideal of a peaceful division of world trade and production is a reactionary utopia.

      7. VK.
        I think that in order to discuss complex issues, we first have to agree on the meaning of the simplest categories. For example, what is labor productivity? I understand that labor productivity refers to the amount of use values ​​that an average worker produces in a given unit of time. Let’s say in an hour of work. Therefore, as Marx said, increased productivity is = maximization of product and minimization of time. Productivity is measured inversely to value. Value = labor time divided by the product. Productivity=product divided by labor time. Productivity understood in this way does not depend at all on wages. If with a technique x I can produce 100 thousand units of product applying 10 thousand hours of work, the productivity of one hour of work is equal to 10. The necessary labor time is equal to 6 minutes. If the other factors do not change, it does not matter whether the salary is lower or higher. Labor productivity remains the same. It’s not for nothing that wages are said to be a “distributive variable”. In any case, the point is that productivity does not depend on wages but on accumulation and, in particular, on the possibility of increasing the cuantity of means of production per worker and applying economies of scale.
        Now, if by productivity you understand the production of value per worker measured in money, it would obviously be true that a drop in wages should generate a direct increase in “productivity” (more surplus value). It’s also true that lower relative wages can (or not) generate an INDIRECT increase in (physical) productivity if capitalists productively reinvest the higher surplus values ​​extracted. But we have seen from the data that Michael presents that this does not appear to be the case, at least for Japan.

      8. @ stevenjohnson

        I’m not fetichizing anything, but just making a prediction based on the historical evidence at my disposal.

        Not only there is no evidence a revolution can happen in the USA or the rest of the West, but the evidence that exists points to the opposite direction: that the West is moving towards fascism, i.e. to crush the only significant piece of socialism we have left in the 21st Century: China. (and even the insignificant: The Nation – the most leftist newspaper of the USA – published yesterday a bestial anti-Cuba article).

        We’re already witnessing a prologue to this process, as the overwhelming majority of the Western peoples support Ukraine against Russia. An overwhelming majority of the American people also supported the invasion of Iraq of 2003, thus demonstrating its fascist characteristics.

        If a world revolution (a la Trostky) indeed happens, then, according to his model, it will happen in an epic world war between proletarian and capitalist armies/forces. Well, somebody will have to fight for this hypothetical capitalist army, and it won’t be the capitalists themselves. In this scenario, the most likely case will be that it will be the working classes of the First World countries, plus the local elites of the Third World countries, alongside the lumpenproletarian class, who will fill the ranks of this capitalist army. The high office of the armed forces of the world are all part of the middle class, therefore said army will by ideologically hegemonized by the middle class, probably under some form of Liberalism.

        The proletarian is the only possible revolutionary class because it is the only class that has, as its inherent class interest, the continuation of the development of the productive forces in capitalism beyond the limits of its social profit rate. Marx was correct.

        Unless, of course, you’re talking about a Russian Revolution scenario, where the capitalist system simply disintegrates on its own – a very unlikely scenario, as the Tsarist Empire did disintegrate without Bolshevik influence, but did so only after shocking against an even bigger capitalist force (the German Empire). This “Red Carpet” hypothesis – of an almost bloodless world revolution, with a wholly unified proletariat killing just some thousands of capitalist in a palatial coup – is mathematically very unlikely, realistically impossible.

        China is definitely not restoring capitalism’s profit rate. All of its reforms and investments – including the BRI – are rising (and fast) the world’s OCC. We’re not in the era of the Robber Barons anymore, where investments in large infrastructure and heavy industry rise the rate of profit, but in the era of “Late Capitalism”, where any kind of investment in fixed capital is avoided like the devil by the capitalist classes.

    2. Skipping over the notion of the state as the collective capital, rather than the arena of class struggle, it seems to me that the state is more concerned with providing liquidity for fictitious capital, in the form of government securities. That’s why the trend is to be much more directly concerned with the budget deficits, which directly bear on the supposed security of said government securities. The great exception, deficit spending for war, also has nothing to do with fear of unemployment. Indeed, I would think the state as executive agent is far more concerned to avoid the destruction of capitals in the classic policy that commands “liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers, liquidate real estate. Purge the rottenness out of the system.” It is not the fear of unemployment but the fear of revolution. Liquidating revolution is much harder when the would-be liquidators are going broke themselves, why they may accept/order/submit to fascist politicians “saving” them.

      But if that sort of thing is what you mean to imply by fear of “unemployment” then we don’t really have a disagreement?

      1. Yes stevenjohnson. I refer to “that sort of thing”. I honestly don’t think “collective imperialism” is concerned with workers or failed capitalists (zombie type companies and others). What they are really worried about what type of unpredictable results unleashing “liquidationism” can generate . We should agree that for the future of the system an unemployment rate of 25% in the United States or Germany is not the same as in Burundi. Paraphrasing Marx, it gives the impression that the strategists of the dominant imperialist capital prefer “endless terror” to “a terrible end.”

  7. “2) lower wages increase, not decrease, labor productivity. The higher the wage of the worker (i.e. the more middle class he/she is) the least productive he/she is. That’s one of the reasons the middle classes tend to be, in the long term, reactionary: their high salaries depend directly on the low salaries of the productive workers (the proletariat, the true working class).”

    That’s just not the case. If productivity is measured by physical output per labor-hour, then higher wages are associated with increased output, as capital intensive production reduces the unit cost of the output. The greater technical component serves to reduce the relative “v” component and replace it with greater masses and rates of “c.”

    Check for example, the wage pattern for the North American railroad workers and outputs per labor hour, output rates being measured by ton-miles divided by labor hours.

  8. This conversation has become confusing to me because (1) the commentators’ apparent conflation of labor’s potential power to create s (during the production process) with the post-production realization of both v and s as embedded in the use value of the surplus product on the market. (2) As usual, the significance of war–destructive production–as historicallty intregal to the capitalist mode of production, particularly mature industrial capitalism, is ignored. The neoliberal/neofascist order lives by war alone. Familiarity breeds contempt.

    1. From the point of view of transnational capital, if a commodity cannot be sold or reach at least come close to its anticipated price on the market, whatever its use value as such, the investment in v is an investment in “unproductive. labor”. .

      …On the other hand, if the investment in v succeeds in maintaining the reproduction of super-exploited, recolonized “productive” labor in the peripheries sufficient to maintain the imperial centers’ decadent interest and rent seeking service economies and the life-styles their strange ruling elites–if v represents the “product” of all workers in the arms, plague, lie, and terror industries, such labor(v) is “productive”…of s, regardless of the cost of c…unless one loses one’s war…or wins the extinction of the human race.

  9. I came across this on MoA’s site, everso slightly off-subject but really quite interesting (if true):

    As to Russia A Socialist in Canada published this excerpt of a recent dialogue between the leader of the Communist Party and Putin:

    Gennady Zyuganov, Communist Party of the Russian Federation:
    “…Capitalists are not only deadlocked. They are going mad. There is only one antidote because capitalism only creates Nazism, fascism and Bandera movements. Nothing but socialism can defeat it. That is why I expect that in your next speech you will set socialist goals. I think even United Russia [the political party led by Vladimir Putin) will support it…”

    Vladimir Putin:
    “…Regarding the socialist idea, there is nothing bad about it. We should flesh out this idea, especially in the economic sphere. Some countries have given it substance, and this is linked with market regulation forms, etc. This idea is working quite effectively. We need to look into this…”

    “…As for any talk of this shift being some transition of the proletariat taking down the oligarchy, and not just one group of elites taking over from the other, anyone promoting that idea is either very naive, if not straight up pushing the current challenger’s propaganda, knowingly or not. At best, we can expect variations on the same old proven theme. “Et Tu@29

    Are you arguing that Capitalist class rule- Barbarism- will last forever? Is the basis of your pessimism your understanding of ‘human nature?’

    The reality is that the Capitalist class if left in power will make the planet uninhabitable. There has to be a socialist society, there is no long term alternative.

    Is social mobility in Russia low? I should have thought the very opposite was the case- at least twice in seventy years there have been complete revolutions in the ruling castes. Do you think that there is much future in the oligarchical arrangements inherited from Yeltsin and his US masters? I don’t.

    https://www.moonofalabama.org/2022/07/michael-hudson-the-end-of-western-civilization.html?cid=6a00d8341c640e53ef02a308d6999a200c#comment-6a00d8341c640e53ef02a308d6999a200c

    1. Despite a childish tendency to get provoked into responses by…things, I dismissed all thought in responding to this, not just because our host dislikes quarrels but because I couldn’t even tell who the “you” who was being rhetorically questioned was meant to be? Et Tu? Who’s not even here? vk? Michael Roberts? The people of the US?

      But whoever you may be addressing, I read the Zyuganov/Putin exchange as a vain plea by the former and empty rhetoric from the latter. Putin *is* the heir of Yeltsin, the leader of the siloviki who keep the oligarchy semifunctional. Capitalism is too bankrupt, in all ways, to establish a classic bourgeois democracy in Russia. (My opinion of course.)
      Yeltsin presided over the initial assault on the workers of the USSR, Putin presides over the aftermath where a semblance of order allows the successful thieves to enjoy their loot in peace, however much it galls them, occasionally, to have their wrists slapped when they want to run wild and threaten all their fellows with chaos.

      The host of Moon of Alabama, bernhard, is a right-wing Christian Democrat whose politics overlap with AfD, however much it annoys him to have this pointed out. (It is clearest in “foreign” affairs, such as b’s Trumpery…but foreign affairs are domestic politics too, despite the merely geographical distinctions.) That’s why the commentariat there is largely cryptofascist. And some of them can be decoded as easily as pig Latin! That’s why b felt it necessary to ban vk, despite vk sharing the right-wing contempt for humanity at large, at least in the US. I’m not responding directly to vk, as our host dislikes political quarrels. But notwithstanding vk’s false facts and anti-Marxist use of SES instead of class, the MoA stance that China is anti-imperialist does require a correct evaluation of BRI.

      Is it intended to somehow lay the foundations for at least an anti-imperialist alliance, despite a resolute avoidance of any political mobilization of the left? Or is it meant to somehow permit China’s capitalist development to somehow magically continue? Even if the top leadership thinks the capitalist elements are the glorious builders of Common Prosperity, that still leaves them traveling the capitalist road, deluded into thinking they will never arrive at a fork, where counterrevolution or communism must be chosen. Or worst, is the BRI ultimately a Trojan Horse imperialist project, superficially more left in the way FDR’s militant anticolonialism was more left but still imperialist? (The British Empire and the French Empire felt the anticolonialism of the US very directly.)

      1. Your raise some interesting questions about b and Russia, but a couple of red herrings about China: (1) that the “top leadership” is still having glorious capitalist delusions and harbors the hope that Samir Amin’s delinking fork will never arrivie. It did, however, in 2008 when capitalism as such died as a viable mode of production, and (2) your insinuation that “BRI [is] ultimately a Trojan Horse imperialist project.” Since 2008, the Western capitalist imperial project has disintegrating along with its mode of production. War and Chaos is its final solution. China would have to build scores of military bases (at least 7 or 8 hundred of them) up and down the Silk Road in a hurry to become the new imperial power. Regarding the interesting questions you have raised here about B you’ve added the above, about S.

      2. The question marks at the end of sentences about the nature of the BRI indicate they are questions, not statements. They are the questions that need answers to judge MoA’s stance that China and Russia are anti-imperialists who will bring a new heaven on earth of free sovereign nations peacefully trading without exploitation indefinitely as world growth resumes. The number of barely disguised fascists in the MoA commentariat in my view is not an accident. (For what it’s worth, b has no questions about my sympathies, he’s banned me.)

        I do not know who or what “S” is in your response.

        I don’t understand what you’re saying about the 2008 world depression restoring capitalism in China. That makes no sense but otherwise I don’t even get what you could mean. The paltry results from Deng’s capitalist roading (aside from the catastrophic but cruel invasion of Vietnam) already posed the problem of how a failing world capitalism could really support national development in general, rather than exceptionally and temporarily. The central government has been progressively shrinking its goals for development but it is still a far cry from actively attacking living standards of the majority of people. That need is why a capitalist restoration can not be a painless and democratic decision even if the capitalists need their own state to carry out those attacks.

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