Archive for the ‘Parasites’ Category

The Imperialism Study/Discussion Group initiated by Redline is now moving on to Tony Norfield’s work on the global financial system.

At the same time, people involved in the study/discussion continue to chat about imperialism in the 21st century and, in particular, about the critique John Smith has made of David Harvey in relation to imperialism today.

Below is a note from John about the continuing debate with Harvey and his supporters on the subject and a follow-up note from Walter Daum, another participant in the study/discussion group.

From John:

‘Exploitation and super-exploitation’ — https://mronline.org/2018/04/14/exploitation-and-super-exploitation/ — is a small (literally, just 1400 words) further step towards what Ilyenkov would call a ‘universal concrete concept’ of contemporary imperialist capitalism, a mammoth task involving many volumes and people and debate; the quest for which has all along guided work on my thesis and then the book.

The article arose from a request on short notice for a short piece on the topic of ‘exploitation in the global economy’ from the Crisis and World Economy working group of CLACSO, a pan-Latin American academic social science network. The Spanish version is available from https://www.clacso.org.ar/grupos_trabajo/archivos/57_bole.pdf.

Help with their dissemination is much appreciated.

It has set in motion a little project: to (more…)

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Left, Cyril Ramaphosa; Right, Marikana Massacre

by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh

The election of Cyril Ramaphosa as president of South Africa has produced a plethora of articles hailing a new dawn for the nation.  The Irish Times published an article written by the South African psychologist and current John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill chair in peace based at the International Conflict Research Institute, Ulster University, Professor Brandon Hamber.  The title of the article was the unimaginative A new dawn for South Africa, but a false start for Northern Ireland.(1)

But here I want to focus on South Africa.  He is after all from there and Ramaphosa was hailed in Ireland as a champion of peace and an important figure in the decommissioning process.  If his election as president of South Africa is a new dawn, then it will not be long before he is once again held up as an example to us all, which is what Hamber does, in effect.

He acknowledges problems in South Africa, but states that with Ramaphosa’s election, “A wave of new-found optimism has swept the country. In his state-of-the nation address on Friday, Ramaphosa spoke of a new dawn, turning the tide against corruption and tackling inequalities, while maintaining economic stability.”  He further states that “South Africans have a new belief in democracy and people power, and have learned first-hand the value of a free media and an independent judiciary. There is new hope in the constitution, the rule of law and the institutions developed to protect democracy.”  Were that true it would be a remarkable accomplishment in a matter of days.  The hypebole of people power is overwhelming and nauseating.

To be clear, the new president of South Africa is a mining magnate, a multimillionaire whose fortune is calculated, depending on the source as being between USD 450 and 700 million.  Yes he was once a lawyer and a leader of the National Union of Mineworkers.  But that is in the past.  How he became rich says more about the South Africa he will build than all the fine words that we expect at inaugurations or the sycophantic faith of academics who should (more…)

Among other activities, the revolutionary working class organisation Lutte Ouvriere produces weekly bulletins in hundreds of workplaces across the country.  Tne bulletins relate to specific experiences and issues faced by the workers in these workplaces, but also contain an editorial on big political questions, national or international issues.  The editorial in the November 27 edition of these bulletins was on France and Africa.

Last week, during his visit to Africa, French President Macron cynically declared that France no longer had a specific “African policy”.

The truth is that, since 2014, thousands of French soldiers have been deployed in Mali where, under the pretext of combating terrorism, they wage a war which regularly kills civilians. The French army is present on a permanent basis in many African countries, including Burkina Faso where Macron made his declaration. France has always intervened in the country, supporting the authors of military coups and dictators aspiring to obediently defend the interests of French imperialists.

Macron also declared that he belonged to a generation who considers that “the crimes of European colonization are undeniable and are part of our history”. Macron is indeed too young to have known first-hand the “colonial times”. But he belongs to the long list of political leaders who helped the French bourgeoisie get rich thanks to its colonial empire.

Africa’s dire poverty and the miserable conditions of most Africans are neither natural nor inevitable. They are due to the century-old plundering of Africa by colonial powers, with France playing a leading role in the continent’s colonization.

Many French bourgeois families built their fortune on (more…)

by Barnaby Philips

In Imperialism: the highest stage of capitalism, Lenin wrote that ‘the world has become divided into a handful of usurer states and a vast majority of debtor states’. Since formal decolonisation in the 1960s, his work has been dismissed as antiquated, even among sections of the radical Left. Now in 2017, with the capitalist system sinking into its deepest crisis since Lenin’s day, a new study into global trade has shown his analysis to be as relevant as ever. It revealed that between 1980 and 2012, the net outflows of capital from ‘developing and emerging’ oppressed countries being funnelled into ‘developed’ imperialist nations totalled $16.3 trillion. The truth about our ostensibly post-colonial world is that poor nations are still developing rich nations, the opposite of what we are so often told.

On 5 December 2016, the US-based Global Financial Integrity (GFI) and the Centre for Applied Research at the Norwegian School of Economics published the report Financial flows and tax havens: combining to limit the lives of billions of people.1 It found that in 2012, the last year of recorded data, ‘developing and emerging countries’ – in Central and South America, Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia – received a total of $1.3 trillion, including all aid, investment, and income, but that $3.3 trillion flowed out in the opposite direction to the ‘developed world’ – North America, Western Europe, Japan, South Korea and Australia.

These figures express the contemporary reality of imperialism: that a minority of oppressor nations, led by the US and Britain, plunder the rest of the world, oppressed nations, for profit and resources. As Lenin explained, the economic imperative behind this social relationship stems from the fact that capital exported from oppressor to oppressed nations is (more…)

by Don Franks

I don’t care what anyone thinks, I’ve had enough of all the talk about child poverty.  Some of the talk is well-intentioned, but much of it’s actually bullshit

Phrases roll off the tongue but what does poverty mean in New Zealand today?

The Ministry of Social Development works from the level of income set at  60% of median household disposable income after housing costs. This is deemed a reasonable level to protect people from the worst effects of poverty.

Source: Stats NZ 2016

In these terms it’s calculated that the poverty line after deducting housing costs for a household with two adults and two children lies at $600 per week or $31,200 annually in 2016 dollars. For a sole parent with one child it is $385 per week or $20,200 annually in 2016 dollars. Inadequate amounts of money for a decent life and, by such reckoning, there are around 682,50 people in poverty in this country, or one in seven households.

New Zealand is a far more unequal country than it was a generation back. Over the past three decades, under both National- and Labour-led governments, New Zealand has gone from being one of the most equal to one of the most unequal nations in the wealthy OECD countries.  In those 30 years, incomes for the average of the top 10% income earners roughly doubled while lower and middle incomes barely increased. Let’s compare two reports, almost a decade apart.

The 2007 Statistics Department study Wealth and disparities in New Zealand revealed that the top 10% of wealthy New Zealand individuals owned over half of New Zealand’s total net worth, and nearly one fifth of total net worth was owned by the top one percent of wealthy individuals. At the halfway mark, the bottom half of the population collectively owned a mere 5 percent of total net worth.

The most recent available information is a 2016 Statistics Department study Household Net Worth Statistics: Year ended June 2015 (published 2016).  It reveals that the (more…)

by Walter Daum

Thanks to John Smith and Michael Yates for calling attention to David Harvey’s latest twists on the actuality of imperialism  (see here). John’s critique of Harvey’s assessment of imperialism today is devastating. I want to take up a related point.

Harvey’s work is often rich in detail and connections, but his intricate tapestry conceals the main threads of imperialism today. John notes that similar failures are common among Marxist theorists in the imperialist countries, many of whom insist that the most highly exploited workers are in the North. As to Harvey’s particular claim about the reversal of flows, one guess might be that he is impressed by the wealth being amassed especially in China. If so, what he overlooks is that China’s capitalists got rich by super-exploiting their own proletariat (sharing the profits with imperialist-country capitalists), not the workers of the West or North. Little of the Chinese ruling class’s wealth comes from any reverse transfer of surplus-value.

Harvey notes that the rise of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan etc, and then the growth of China among the still-poorer countries, “has altered (more…)

by Daphna Whitmore

I’m a big fan of rail and will bore anyone who will listen to me about the joy of no longer owning a car in Auckland. I walk five  minutes from home to a train station and travel happily free from the nightmare that is Auckland gridlock.  Auckland as a city for humans needs more electric trains and light rail.

Labour’s plan for transport in Auckland has just been announced and has unashamedly been lifted from the pages of Greater Auckland (formerly TransportBlog). The people from Greater Auckland have done a huge amount of research and have been putting the case every day since 2015 for a world class public transport system in Auckland. It is good to see their ideas being adopted.

What is not great is that Labour will introduce a regional fuel tax to raise money for the programme. This flat tax will mean more indirect taxation, and is inherently anti-working class. Again Labour’s fake concern for the poor is on display.

Auckland’s gridlock is said to cost $1.9b a year in lost productivity. That is a loss for businesses. For the workers stuck in traffic it is a loss in precious time and a loss of enjoyment of life. Labour will lift the financial loss from businesses and have it borne by the people in cars.  (more…)