Conspiracy Nation -- Vol. 5 Num. 24

("Quid coniuratio est?")

THE GLOBALIZATION OF CAPITALIST PRODUCTION [From The International Workers Bulletin, 10/25/93] [Excerpts]

(1.1) World capitalism is undergoing the most far-reaching changes in technological innovation and forms of production since the beginning of the twentieth century. In the course of the last 15 years, the rapid development of the transnational corporation and the global integration of production with which it is associated have profoundly changed the way commodities are produced and distributed, undermined the political structures that stabilized relations between states and classes for nearly a half-century, and laid the basis for a new era of protracted revolutionary upheavals.

(1.2) The United States stands at the very center of this global economic and social maelstrom. Over the past decade, the changes in the structure of world capitalism have had a far-ranging impact on both the international position of American capitalism and social conditions within the United States. The steady deterioration in the competitive position of the United States throughout the 1980s has now led to direct challenges on the part of America's Cold War allies to the hegemonic role the U.S. played in the affairs of international capitalism since the end of World War II. Moreover, the loss of its economic position finds visible expression in the shocking growth of poverty within the United States and the general decay of its social infrastructure.

(1.4) ...the Pollyannas who proclaimed a "new world order" have been replaced by legions of nervous Cassandras who see potential disasters lurking everywhere: economic rivalries spinning out of control and leading to war; worsening poverty in the third world leading to social upheavals of an apocalyptic character; the blind utilization of technology in the pursuit of profit creating ecological catastrophes. The more thoughtful and socially concerned among these worried commentators appeal to the "enlightened self interest" of the capitalist class and urge that it chart a more rational and humane course before it is too late. In vain! The ruling class and its political representatives are not able to control the forces unleashed by the developments in the world economy...

(2.1) The International Committee of the Fourth International has placed at the center of its analysis of the world capitalist crisis the global integration of production, which has raised to historically unprecedented intensity the fundamental conflict between world economy and the nation-state system within which capitalism developed and to which it is wedded...

(2.2) The activities of the TNCs [Trans-National Corporations] now dominate the world economy. The number of TNCs based in 14 major developed countries has increased from 7,000 in 1970 to 24,000 at the beginning of the 1990s. Approximately one-third of the productive assets of the world's private sector are controlled by TNCs...

(2.3) ... we are not only seeing a process of internationalization of the economy, but a process of globalization -- that is, the interpenetration of economic activities and national economies at the global level...

(2.4) The globalization of production has far-reaching implications for relations between the imperialist nations and for class relations on a world scale. Transnational corporations compete for control of markets, raw materials and sources of cheap labor. They must undercut one another for the domination of emerging areas of renewed capitalist exploitation in the former Soviet Union, eastern Europe, Vietnam and China and ruthlessly fight for the extension of their sway over the backward countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

(2.5) ...despite the globalization of production, the world market is fracturing into rival trade blocs. Wall Street is moving to establish a U.S.-dominated trade bloc in the Americas, initially in the form of the North American Free Trade Agreement [NAFTA]... The drive toward the establishment of these massive trading blocs by no means signifies a lessening of the antagonisms within Europe or between the U.S. and Canada. On the contrary, all of the old conflicts between the European "great powers" that led to two world wars in this century are once again emerging, and the old battlefields of imperialist manipulation and intervention in eastern Europe, northern Africa and elsewhere are once again aflame.

(2.6) In the drive to conquer new markets and new sources of cheap labor, imperialism encourages the eruption of ethnic and communal antagonisms in many parts of the world. This serves two basic purposes. First, it helps split the working class. Second, it facilitates the breakup of old state structures into impotent statelets which are to be little more than cheap labor enterprise zones for transnational corporations. The economic side of this policy is expressed in the demand of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund for backward countries from India to Argentina to dismantle all remnants of their previous nationalist policy of import substitution and state planning and permit the unfettered penetration of imperialist banks and corporations. The political side is the promotion of ethnic and religious-based communalism, aimed at weakening or smashing up existing national state structures.

(2.8) The globalization of production has produced a global labor market. Transnational corporations are systematically shifting the most labor intensive aspects of production to impoverished regions, where wages are a fraction of the existing levels in the advanced capitalist countries... The inexorable result is a downward leveling of wages and living standards and a relentless assault on past social reforms and legal limitations on the exploitation of labor by capital in the imperialist centers. {1}. The basic orientation of the old labor organizations -- the protection of national industry and the national labor market -- is undermined by globally integrated production and the unprecedented mobility of capital. The role of these bureaucratic apparatuses in every country has been transformed from pressuring the employers and the state for concessions to the workers, to pressuring the workers for concessions to the employers so as to attract capital.

(2.9) The current economic malaise is not simply a conjunctural downturn, or "recession," to be followed by an "upturn," as these terms came to be used during the period of the postwar boom. The massive destruction of jobs in all of the old industrial centers -- the U.S., Canada, Europe, Japan, Australia -- and the relentless assault on working class living standards are part of a fundamental restructuring of capitalism arising from a historic crisis of the profit system. This crisis drives the imperialist bourgeoisie inexorably toward a third world war and at the same time compels it to undertake a class war against the workers of every country...

(3.1) The question facing mankind is: what class will control and develop these global productive forces. Capitalism is incapable of developing the planning principle as a means of increasing the wealth of mankind. To the extent that it is employed by transnational production on a capitalist basis, it is an instrument for the impoverishment of workers across the globe and leads to the resurgence of colonial plunder and the danger of war.

(4.3) ...the demise of the USSR is a grim warning to the working class in the U.S. and internationally. The continued domination of the political life of the workers movement by sclerotic bureaucracies, based on different forms of nationalist policies, can only produce further catastrophes. The protracted degeneration of all the old labor bureaucracies, including the social democracy and the AFL-CIO, has reached a new stage. Their impotence and open transformation into appendages of big business and the capitalist state are the historical demonstration of [their] bankruptcy...

(4.9) The past period has provided a sobering experience for the working class in every country. Previous conquests have been surrendered by the official labor leaderships. The essential principles and theoretical gains of the Marxist movement have been renounced by all manner of Stalinists and revisionists... Firm adherence to revolutionary principle and defense of the movement's heritage and theoretical conquests, however, have nothing in common with a ritualistic invocation of "time-honored" tactics and formulae whose objective content has been transformed by changed conditions. The practice of revolutionary politics would be very simple if it required no more than the ability to memorize the policies and tactics of the past, and to deal with them as if they were applicable for all periods and conditions. The clinging to slogans and tactics which were formulated under different political conditions, but which have long since lost their relevance, is merely the opposite side of the coin of the renunciationists' open flight from principle. These different forms of opportunism express essentially the same thing -- a fear of the convulsive changes in class relations and the tasks which they pose to the proletarian vanguard...

[ be continued...]

---------------------------<< Notes >>--------------------------- {1} Wages are also kept low by continuing to wink at illegal immigration, thereby flooding the pool of available labor here in the U.S.

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