Archive for the ‘World economy’ Category

The piece below appeared as one of the editorials in the latest round of workplace bulletins produced and distributed by The Spark organisation in the United States; we’ve slightly changed the title but left the American-English spelling of the original.

by The Spark

The words are bad enough, but they are symbols of something much worse: the vicious ideas that Trump and others like him try to peddle.

The countries Trump denigrated are all poor. So let’s talk about why they are poor – the truth which demagogues like Trump trample on.

U.S., Spanish and French capitalists stole the wealth produced by labor in Haiti and El Salvador. That’s what impoverishes them.

Let’s talk about the European and American slave traders who stole 20 million human beings and their labor power from Africa. Let’s talk about the colonial system which drained Africa’s mineral wealth to enrich European industry. Let’s talk about (more…)

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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…)

In the Imperialism study/discussion group at the weekend, Andy H mentioned an introduction to Lenin’s Imperialism by an Australian Marxist.  This is the piece; it was originally written in the late 1990s and first appeared on-line in 2003.

by Doug Lorimer*

I. Lenin’s aims in writing this work

The term “imperialism” came into common usage in England in the 1890s as a development of the older term “empire” by the advocates of a major effort to extend the British Empire in opposition to the policy of concentrating on national economic development, the supporters of which the advocates of imperialism dismissed as “Little Englanders”. The term was rapidly taken into other languages to describe the contest between rival European states to secure colonies and spheres of influence in Africa and Asia, a contest that dominated international politics from the mid-1880s to 1914, and caused this period to be named the “age of imperialism”.

The first systematic critique of imperialism was made by the English bourgeois social-reformist economist John Atkinson Hobson (1858-1940) in his 1902 book Imperialism: A Study, which, as Lenin observes at the beginning of his own book on the subject, “gives a very good and comprehensive description of the principal specific economic and political features of imperialism” (see below, p. 33).

Lenin had long been familiar with Hobson’s book. Indeed, in a letter written from Geneva to his mother in St. Petersburg on August 29, 1904, Lenin stated that he had just “received Hobson’s book on imperialism and have begun translating it” into Russian.(1)

In a number of his writings between 1895 and 1913, Lenin had noted some of the characteristics of the imperialist epoch, for example: the (more…)

This is the cover of the paperback edition which is being published on November 14 – ie 2 weeks time – by Historical Materialism

François Chesnais, Finance Capital Today: Corporations and Banks in the Lasting Global Slump, Brill, Leiden, 2016; reviewed by Tony Norfield

This book is well worth reading. It is written in a clear and accessible style and discusses key points about the limitations of capitalism and the role of contemporary finance. Perhaps its most important point is how the financial system has accumulated vast claims on the current and future output of the world economy – in the form of interest payments on loans and bonds, dividend payments on equities, etc.

These claims have outgrown the ability of the capitalist system to meet them, but government policy has so far managed to prevent a collapse of financial markets with zero interest rate policies, quantitative easing, huge deficits in government spending over taxation, and so forth. The result is an unresolved crisis, a ‘lasting global slump’, in which economic growth remains very weak and vast debts remain in place.

Distinguishing points

There are two related points in his approach to the world economy and finance that distinguish Chesnais from many other writers, and for which he deserves to be commended. Firstly, he states clearly that we are in a crisis of capitalism tout court (pp1-2), not a crisis of ‘financialised’ capitalism – the latter being one that could presumably be fixed if only the evil financiers were dealt with by a (capitalist) reforming government. Secondly, he takes ‘the world economy as the point of departure’ for his analysis, although that is ‘easier said than done’ (p11). While he shows the central role of the US, he avoids the wholly US-centred analysis common to radical critics of contemporary capitalism, and instead highlights how the other powers also play a key part in the imperial machine.

Finance Capital Today helps the reader’s understanding of the realities of contemporary global capitalism by providing a wealth of material evidence. It also helps one to clarify views about what is going on by discussing the theoretical context. In this review I will highlight the key points raised in the book and also discuss where I have a number of differences with Chesnais. These differences are sometimes merely of emphasis, or what may look like simply an alternative definition of a commonly used term. However, poor formulation of an argument can also lead to theoretical problems.

Origins of GFC

Chesnais begins by outlining the origins of the 2008 crisis, arguing that this had been postponed since 1998 by the growth of debt in the US and elsewhere, and by the surge of growth in China. In 2008, ‘the brutality of financial crisis was accounted for by the amount of fictitious capital accumulated and the degree of vulnerability of the credit system following securitisation’. The backdrop to the latest phase of crisis was also one that has made this crisis a (more…)

At Redline, we’d tend to see China very much as capitalist.  But we are also keen on discussion, comradely debate and serious examination of political issues.  It’s in that spirit that we are running the article below.

by Michael Roberts

Xi Jinping has been consecrated as China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong after a new body of political thought carrying his name was added to the Communist party’s constitution.  The symbolic move came on the final day of a week-long political summit in Beijing – the 19th party congress – at which Xi has pledged to lead the world’s second largest economy into a “new era” of international power and influence.

At a closing ceremony in the Mao-era Great Hall of the People it was announced that Xi’s Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era had been written into the party charter. “The congress unanimously agrees that Xi Jinping Thought … shall constitute [one of] the guides to action of the party in the party constitution,” a party resolution stated.

At the same time, the new Politburo standing committee of seven was announced.  These supreme leaders are all over 62 and so will not be eligible to become party secretary in five years.  That almost certainly means that Xi will have an unprecedented (more…)

by Phil Duncan

With Winston Peters announcing that his New Zealand First party is going with Labour and not with National, it looks like the Tories are out and the Xenophobes are in. We’ll now have the two most xenophobic of the four main parties in coalition government (Labour and NZ First). Although the last Labour government was pretty racist in relation to immigration, a Labour-NZF coalition may well be the most xenophobic government since Muldoon in the late 1970s (and the pre-Muldoon Labour government which began the dawn raids on Pacific Islands immigrants).

Watch out immigrants, especially poor people who want to migrate here to make a better life for themselves!

While no-one is under any illusion about Winston Peters’ xenophobia, given that for the last several decades he has made a career out of anti-immigrant – especially anti-Asian immigrant – policies, the liberal left prefers to turn a blind eye to Labour’s anti-Asian racism.  In fact, much of the liberal or centre-left shares  (more…)

Capitalism can turn almost anything to private profit for the rich minority.  Take the massive Greek debt and the misery of austerity imposed on the Greek masses:

by Michael Roberts

The announcement by the European Central Bank that it has so far made €7.8bn in profits from its holdings in Greek government debt reveals the true nature of the so-called bailouts of Greek government finances that the EU leaders organised in return for massive austerity measures from 2012 onwards.

Back in March 2012, five years ago, a so-called private sector involvement (PSI) deal was agreed under which French, German and Greek banks who held the bulk of Greek government bonds agreed to take a ‘haircut’ on the value of their bond holdings.  Under the PSI, they received in return new Greek government bonds with 30-year lives, paying about 3-4% a year in interest and guaranteed by the Eurozone financing operation, the EFSF.  And they also got some cash up front for turning (more…)