‘Τhe end of the globalization myth and the continuing importance of imperialist rivalries’, S.Mavroudeas – Peking University, School of Marxism

I just returned from Beijing where I participated in the International Symposium ‘Modern China and the modernization of Developing Countries’, organized by the School of Marxism of the Peking University (12-13 October 2019). I presented a paper titled Τhe end of the globalization myth and the continuing importance of imperialist rivalries’. An expanded version of my intervention can be read in my recent IJOPEC e-book chapter (https://stavrosmavroudeas.wordpress.com/2019/10/04/de-globalisation-and-the-return-of-the-theory-of-imperialism-s-mavroudeas/ ). Changes and additions concerned basically certain Chinese policy issues.

This event was an intriguing one for many reasons. First, it gave an idea about the state of Marxism in China and in the Communist Party of China (CPC). Second, it also provided some clues regarding the current politico-economic dilemmas of the chinese policy. Third, there were some very interesting international interventions; to mention among them those of David Kotz and Terry McDonough.

 

Of course, besides academic events, there was the usual visit to Chairman’s Mao portrait in front of the Forbidden City.

Finally I learned how my name is written in Chinese; although this can change easily as this language follows phonetics.

 

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‘De-globalisation and the Return of the Theory of Imperialism’ – S.Mavroudeas

IJOPEC_NEW_80px

IJOPEC has published the e-book ‘Globalisation and Public Policy’ edited by Kaoru Natsuda K. et al.

The lin for the e-book is the following:

http://www.ijopec.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/2019_13.pdf

I have contributed the first chapter with a paper titled ‘De-globalisation and the Return of the Theory of Imperialism’.

The links for my chapter are the following:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/336252454_Globalisation_Public_Policy

https://www.academia.edu/40518923/De-globalisation_and_the_Return_of_the_Theory_of_Imperialism

 

The paper follows

Malevich

 

‘De-globalisation and the Return of the Theory of Imperialism’

 

Stavros Mavroudeas

Professor (Political Economy)

Dept. of Social Policy

Panteion University

e-mail: s.mavroudeas@panteion.gr

web: https://stavrosmavroudeas.wordpress.com

 

 

Abstract

The globalization hypothesis (i.e. the argument that modern capitalism has once and for all discard the nation state and modern capitalism became a truly unified ‘global village’) was overwhelmingly popular since the 1990s. This was coupled with the expansion of a multifaceted theoretical trend that rejected previous analytical tools and purported that it ushered new ones, tailor-made to the new ‘globalisation era’. Especially within Political Economy, the globalization discourse rejected the theory of Imperialism (that emphasized antagonisms and the role of the national economy) for a theory of global interconnectedness (emphasizing co-operation and deterritorialization). However, the course of events of the real world radically diverged from the stylized beliefs of the globalization discourse. Particularly, before and increasingly after the 2008 capitalist crisis, antagonisms along national lines and military conflicts proliferated. These developments signify the necessity for a return to the classical Marxist theory of Imperialism as the appropriate analytical framework to grasp the political economy of the international system.

 

I. Introduction

‘Globalisation’ has been a zeitgeist for at least the last thirty years. It dominated the scientific discourses and dictated political decision-making. In its pure version, ‘globalisation’ maintained that around the 1990s the contemporary world underwent an epochal transformation. The nation-state (with its national economy) ceased to be the fundamental nucleus of politico-economic affairs as both the economy and the polity were supposed to transcend – and make almost irrelevant – national borders. To put it simply, the world has become a unified global village.

The ‘globalisation’ zeitgeist affected the whole spectrum of economic and political analyses and practices, from Orthodoxy to Heterodoxy and even Marxism. Theoretical analyses were transformed in order account for this purported epochal change. Revered and long-established concepts and models were discarded as no longer applicable. Even statistical indicators changed radically to conform with the ‘globalisation’ trend (e.g. the distinction between portfolio investment and foreign direct investment [FDI] was practically blurred).

However, at the end of the 20th century – and as the 2008 global capitalist crisis was approaching – cracks began to appear in the ‘globalisation’ narrative. As capitalist profitability started to falter, international politico-economic conflicts increased. In economic relations the ‘accursed’ protectionist policies started to creep in. In geopolitics military conflicts proliferated and unilateral policies by particularly dominant politico-economic powers (the US primarily) were increasingly adopted; thus tearing apart the ‘globalisationist’ narrative about a liberal democratic and free market world order. The eruption of the 2008 crisis was certainly a major turning point. All the aforementioned tendencies increased tremendously and the previously hidden behind ‘globalisationist’ narratives national interests came to the fore bluntly. This affect critically the international politico-economic discourses and the previously relegated to ‘underworlds’ discussion about ‘globalisation’ and its end came to the fore. Rather abruptly, the king was found naked and ‘de-globalisation’ or the end of ‘globalisation’ came to the centre of discussions.

This paper has a twofold aim. Firstly, it seeks to debunk the ‘globalisation’ narrative and show that it is a truthlike myth. Secondly, it argues that the classical Marxist theory of Imperialism offers a superior analytically and empirically framework in order to comprehend the political economy of capitalism’s international system. The remainder of the paper is structured as follows. In Section II the basic empirical and theoretical foundations of ‘globalisation’ are being presented and rejected as lacking a sound foundation. In Section III it is argued that the Marxist theory of Imperialism – through its understanding of the capitalist international system as a ‘battlefield’ with winners and losers – is the more fit one. Finally, Section IV proposes a redefinition of the Marxist theory of Imperialism and concludes.

 

II. Debunking ‘Globalization’: a truthlike myth

The thrust of the ‘globalisationist’ argument rests not in theoretical analysis but on empirical claims. Theoretical analyses, to a great extent, followed these supposedly indisputable empirical claims.

 

‘Globalisationist’ empirical claims

Setting aside minor differences, proponents of the ‘Globalisation’ thesis argued that the late 20th century ushered radical socio-economic transformations that produced a change of epochal dimension: economic activities burst out of national borders and organized themselves in worldwide processes and networks. More precisely, it is argued that product, capital and financial markets have become globally unified. This is supposed to be the differentiae specificae of this new era. Many theories assigned it the status of new stage, era or epoch (depending on the periodization theory adopted by them).

Different theories attribute this hypothetical historical rupture to different (seldom combined) factors. The main candidates as ‘globalisation’s’ cause are the three.

The first one, predominating mainly within Orthodox analyses, is technological change. Orthodox economics, within their a-social framework, have a tendency to attribute major epochal changes to technical factors. Thus, they usually attribute ‘globalisation’ to some form of technical revolution centered on information technologies. They argue that the development and expansion of the latter made national economic relations obsolete and facilitated the ‘globalisation’ of economic activities. This is a problematic argument for several reasons. First, the economic impact of the information technologies has been seriously disputed. As Solow (1987) with his famous paradox has pointed out, ‘you can see computers everywhere except for productivity statistics’. Second, the misnamed ‘New Economy’ of the mid-1990s (based on information technology, biotechnology and telecommunications) has long ago collapsed through the burst of its stock-exchange bubble. Last, but not the least, technologies that facilitated international economic activities have existed also in the past (e.g. telegraph, trains) and had possibly a greater impact upon the economy. So, there is nothing significantly new in information technologies.

The second candidate as cause of the ‘globalisation’ is political. It is argued that the collapse of the Eastern bloc created a ‘vacuum’ that facilitated the spread of free (capitalist) economic activities to areas governed previously by planned economy systems. This argument holds also limited water. First, it is true that the Cold War era limited economic relations between the two main blocs. However, within these blocs there were strong international activities and co-operation. Second, ‘globalisation’ spread not only to the previous Eastern bloc economies but to other areas of the world as well. Third, if there is some truth in the political cause of ‘globalisation’ this is that it was vigorously promoted by the West (and particularly the US) to the rest of the world as a means for increasing Western domination. The imposition of the Washington Consensus and its post-Washington Consensus successor upon less developed and developing economies is a typical evidence of this.

The third candidate is the argument that there is an inherent tendency of capitalist accumulation towards surpassing national borders. This argument can be found mainly in Heterodox and Marxist ‘globalisationist’ theories. Immanuel Wallerstein’s (1979) World Systems theory is both a pioneer and a typical example of this perspective. There are well-known and devastating critiques of this argument. Among others, one of its main deficiencies is that it cannot account convincingly about the long non-‘globalised’ periods of the capitalist system. If the capitalist system is prone to such a tendency then why it passes through long periods during which national economies – and blocs formed around them – predominate? Furthermore, it is well-known that the capitalist system has been born through the creation of national economies (that is national centres of accumulation). Moreover, during its period of gestation capitalist economic activities resorted to strong protectionist policies as means to protect themselves particularly their periods of infancy. The era of Mercantilism is a typical example of this.

As already mentioned, the ‘globalisation’ thesis has two interrelated economic corollaries. The first one is that national economies no longer matter. The second one is that state ability to implement economic policies has been critically curtailed if not totally annuled. Both arguments are highly debatable. Even at the high point of ‘globalisation’ at least several dominant Western economies exhibited remarkable ability in pursuing national economic policies. The US is the more prominent case in point. But even less developed and influential economies exhibited similar abilities. Such an example is the introduction by Malaysia of capital controls in the 1990s.

These economic arguments were supplemented with several political claims. The most prominent among them were the following.

It was argued that ‘globalisation’ would lead to the spread of global democracy. As Held & McGrew (1998: 242) typically argue ‘through a process of progressive, incremental change geo-political forces will come to be socialized into democratic agencies and practices’.

Moreover, it was argued that in ‘globalisation’ the ‘make business not war’ motto would predominate as global entrepreneurship abhors nationalism and militarist conflicts. In fact, this is a renovated version of classical Liberalism’s belief that was utterly disproved by the 1st WW.

Unsurprisingly, both these political claims are also highly disputable. During the ‘globalisation’ era there was actually a proliferation of nation-states (not only because of the disintegration of the Eastern bloc’s states) which were seldom accompanied by bloody military conflicts. Furthermore, international agencies never ceased to be dominated by national interests and their workings remained field of power struggles rather than of democratic practices.

On the basis of the aforementioned arguments, ‘globalisationist’ theory made two bold empirical claims. First, that ‘globalisation’ is totally new phenomenon. And, second, that it is irreversible. Both claims are equally unfounded.

The initial versions considered ‘globalisation’ as a totally new phenomenon. However, critics pointed out that all its main features (rates of international trade, capital mobility, financial interconnectedness, transnational politico-economic institutions) have existed in a previous period (the so-called ‘first globalisation’ (1860-1914)). See, for example, the analysis of Baldwin & Martin (1999) for one of the first Orthodox disputes of the originality in the period 1950-2000. From a more radical point of view, the study by Hirst & Thompson (1999) is indicative.

Subsequently, ‘globalisationists’ modified their position by arguing that this time is different. Various explanations were proposed. The more prominent between them were that the second ‘globalisation’ is characterized by different technology, that FDI is more important and that financial ‘globalisation’ is stronger.

None of the ‘globalisationist’ counter-arguments is very convincing. For example, international trade to GDP and international capital flows to GDP ratios were similarly high during the era of the so-called ‘first globalisation’. This is accepted even by proponents of the ‘globalisation’ thesis as the following graph by Chandy & Seidel (2016) shows[1].

 

There are additional credible counter-arguments to the modified ‘globalisationist’ argument. International flows of trade and capital instead of creating unified global circuits they have formed regional blocs. And even the expansion of FDIs (from the 1980s and onwards) have not created a globalized system of production or a borderless global economy in any meaningful sense. Many studies have shown that multinational corporations of all the big capitalist economies exhibit strong ‘home country bias’ linking them to their home economy (e.g. Hirst & Thompson (1996), Tyson (1991)). Moreover, regarding financial ‘globalisation’, even Zevin (1988) – a prominent ‘globalisationist’ – accepts that during the 1850-1914 period the consolidation of the financial markets was equally significant.

The refutation of the first ‘globalisationist’ empirical claim injured critically their second empirical claim as well. If the ‘first globalisation’ was reversed and if the arguments about the distinctiveness of the ‘second globalisation’ are unfounded then there is nothing guaranteeing that the latter cannot also be reversed. Indeed, even proponents of ‘globalization’ recognized that there is nothing inevitable about it: ‘(T)here is a tendency to see globalization as irreversible. But the political forces that fragmented the world for 30 years (1914–1944) were evidently far more powerful than the accretion of technological progress in transport that went on during that period. (Frankel (2000): 6–7)).

 

 

‘Globalisationist’ analysis

Indisputably, the dominant theory behind the ‘globalisation’ thesis is the Orthodox Neoclassical analysis of international economics. This dominated the public discourse as well as the commanding heights of the world economy. Heterodoxy (traditional Keynesian, post-Keynesian, Radical Institutionalism approaches etc.) followed behind. Despite their partial analytical differences, they basically succumbed to the main Orthodox arguments. Even Marxist ‘globalisation’ theories implicitly accepted much of the Orthodox discourse. For reasons of brevity, other versions of the ‘globalisation’ theories will be left aside and the focus of this section will be on the Orthodox one.

The foundations of the Orthodox Neoclassical version rest upon its theory of international economic relations. Historically, but also analytically, the theory of international economics has been constructed and inaugurated on the basis of the theory of international trade. The founding block of Orthodox international trade theory is its dogma of the beneficial role of free international trade. This is based on the beleaguered Ricardian theory of comparative advantage. The gist of this thesis is that free trade between developed and less developed economies is beneficial to both as each one will specialise to the production of the commodity in which it is more productive even if one of them is more productive on all commodities. The comparative advantage thesis has been criticized convincingly both on analytical and empirical terms. Its main, and more realistic, alternative is the theory of absolute advantage advanced by A.Smith and K.Marx. The theory of absolute advantage argues that an economy that is more productive in internationally traded commodities will produce all of them; thus, leaving the less developed (and less productive) without production and, thus, in a trade imbalance.

Neoclassicals extended the theory of comparative advantage from international trade to international capital flows as well and argued for the beneficial impact of the combination of free trade and free capital flows. However, Ricardo was fully aware that the theory of comparative advantage will not hold if capital is mobile, because in that case specialization will be determined by absolute and not by relative costs.

Despite its ‘heroic’ assumptions and blatant problems, the Neoclassical approach dominated the area of international economics. As it will be shown in the next section, this dominance is not without problems. Particularly as historical reality systematically fails to vindicate the Neoclassical arguments and conclusions. However, the advent of ‘globalisation’ offered a golden opportunity to Neoclassical Orthodoxy. Within the ‘globalisation’ narrative, even Heterodoxy succumbed to its charm. This surrender is typically expressed by Higgot (1999: 26) when he argues that the ‘argument for liberalization and open markets as generators of wealth has been won at both intellectual and evidentiary levels’.

Based on this theory, it was pronounced that globalisation (a) enhances aggregate welfare overall and (b) leads to the convergence between more and less developed economies. Empirically, both arguments have been rejected. Globalization has not reduced inequality of income and wealth. Since the early 1980s the world economy has been characterized by rising inequality and slow growth. Despite the rise of the new emerging economies (BRICS etc.) increasing inequality characterises the world economy. On top of this and to a great extent as a result of ‘globalisationist’ policies (with the disarming of national economic policies and the deregulation of labour markets), inequality has risen especially within developed economies. The US is a typical example of this trend.

Convergence, the other ‘globalisationist’ postulate, is equally unfounded. The convergence argument is a product of the Neoclassical Growth Model. As it is well known, it is actually an assumption rather than a result of this model. To put it simply, it is an ‘article of faith’ rather than a scientific result. This Neoclassical ‘article of faith’ has an infamous empirical record. Empirical results for several historical eras and periods simply reject this argument. The same holds for the ‘globalisation’ era. Again, despite the spectacular rise of the emerging markets, divergence in relative productivity levels and living standards is the principal feature of the contemporary world economy. Some ‘sunny spells’ for the Neoclassical argument (that is periods of some convergence at least within some groups of countries) were very soon reversed or stalled. In front of this blatant failure the Neoclassical approach offered – both in general and regarding the ‘globalisation’ era – a last ditch defense. It argued that although overall convergence might not materialize, partial convergence within ‘clubs of economies’ do takes place. However, historical reality has not been kind even to this. Convergence within clubs and/or between clubs has not been verified; quite the contrary. A typical example is the European Union (EU) which was the more prominent case where the convergence hypothesis attempted to vindicate itself. After a limited period of convergence, it is divergence that characterises EU’s state of affairs. To sum up, contrary to both these two arguments, divergence rather than convergence epitomises the ‘globalization’ era.

 

 

III. The theory of Imperialism: international economy as a battlefield

The debacle of ‘globalisation’ exposes serious lacunae in the theory of international economics. The main problem is the dominance of the belief that international economic relations are a win-win game for all participants. This dogma that permeates the economic Orthodoxy serves to present the capitalist system as a benevolent and just one. As it has been shown in the case of ‘globalisation’ this is a blatantly unrealistic conception. A realistic analysis of international economic relations should be based on the exactly opposite principle: the international economy is a battlefield with winners and losers. The gains of the former are the losses of the latter. There is no win-win situation in such a battlefield. This alternative perspective is offered by the theory of Imperialism.

Interestingly, the theory of Imperialism was formed in a similar to the current historical period. It was constructed after the first global capitalist crisis of 1873-5 and while the ‘first globalization’ was disintegrating. The structural crisis was followed by a protracted period of economic malaise. The latter ignited capitalist antagonisms and led to a return of trade and currency wars seldom accompanied with military wars. During that turbulent period all the empirical beliefs of Classical Liberalism were demolished; and particularly the dogma that ‘capitalism abhors wars’. It was painfully proved that capitalism works – and seldom prospers – through wars. Additionally, it was equally painfully shown that the internationalization of capital can easily revert to protectionism and a return to the national bases.

In this politico-economic landscape the theory of Imperialism was born especially through the pioneering work of Hobson (1902). Various other bourgeois theories of imperialism followed (e.g. Schumpeter (1919)). The main feature of these theories was that they considered imperialism as a deformation of the proper functioning of capitalism that could be rectified and thus return to the mutually beneficial free operation of international markets. Hobson regarded imperialism as the product of underconsumption crisis in developed economies that could be rectified with social reforms (representative parliamentarism, trade unionism) ensuring wage growth that would provide the necessary demand. Once these reforms have been established then international economic relations would again conform to the Classical Liberal model. Schumpeter went even further by considering imperialism not as product of capitalism but as an atavism. If the pre-capitalist remnants that caused it are removed then the Classical Liberal model would operate without problems. In this sense, these theories were a true Heterodoxy; that is a heresy that shared much common ground with the Orthodoxy but disagreed in some crucial ‘articles of faith’.

However, the theory of Imperialism was spectacularly developed and shot to fame after its adoption by the Marxist tradition (R.Hilferding (1912), R.Luxemburg (1913) and especially V.I.Lenin (1917)). The Marxist theory of Imperialism departed from the previous bourgeois versions by arguing that imperialism is not a deformation but a normal part of the capitalist modus operandi. This refoundation of the theory of Imperialism produced an analysis of the international economy that is not a Heterodox appendage of the Orthodoxy but a truly alternative tradition.

Contrary to both Orthodox and Heterodox thought, Marxism has a different conception of capitalism’s international system. The latter mirrors its national system in being also a system of exploitation: a systemic ‘battlefield’ with winners at the expense of losers. This stems from capitalism’s DNA and it is not a transient feature. Exploitation at the international level is also based on classes but it acquires additional dimensions as a capitalist economy can be exploited by another one. The latter mirrors its national system in being also a system of exploitation. Exploitation on the international level is also based on classes but it acquires additional dimensions. For example, a national bourgeoisie exploits its workers but at the same time it can be exploited by another national bourgeoisie. For Marxism this is a structural – and not a conjunctural – characteristic of the capitalist system. Therefore, capitalist international political-economic relations are antagonistic by nature and operate through war-like competition. Consequently, Marxism disagrees with the Orthodox thesis that international political-economic relations (and particularly free ones) are mutually beneficial for all their participants. It also disagrees with the Heterodoxy because it considers these relations as antagonistic by their very nature and not as specific products of special political choices.

The cornerstone of the Marxist theory of Imperialism is that capitalism’s international system is not a harmonious set but a field characterized by competition, conflicts and exploitation of groups of countries by other groups. Consequently, it does not result in mutually beneficial for all participants outcomes but instead it has winners and losers – where the gains of the former are the losses of the latter. This function is considered as a structural characteristic of capitalism and not as a conjunctural product of short-term policy choices.

It is beyond the scope of this section to review the long and winding course of the Marxist theory of imperialism. For reasons of brevity it will delineate the main pillars of a contemporary redefinition of it along the lines of the Classical Marxist Debate on Imperialism. The latter took place at the beginning of the 20th century and was the vehicle through which imperialism was adopted and re-founded by Marxism. The major currents of this debate were represented by R.Hilferding, R.Luxemburg and V.I.Lenin. Despite differences one of the main common founding blocks of this debate is that imperialism is primarily an economic mechanism and not a political mechanism. This implies that its aim is not political dominance but economic exploitation. The former is a means to achieve the latter and not a cause. This thesis is derived from capitalism’s fundamental difference from pre-capitalist exploitative systems: capitalist exploitation is not primarily based on direct (political) coercion but on indirect (economic) coercion. This economic mechanism organizes the exploitation at the international level (that is between economies). It is based on transfers of value from the exploited to the exploiting economies. This understanding does not ignore political relations – which are especially important particularly at the international level – but considers them as a corollary of economic relations.

 

IV. In place of conclusions: A redefinition of the Marxist theory of imperialism

A modern re-formulation of Marxist theory of imperialism is necessary after the misconceptions that prevailed after the Classical Debate and during the reign of ‘globalisationism’. As already argued, imperialism is first and foremost an economic process from which political-military processes derive. Put it simply, imperialism is primarily a mechanism of economic exploitation of one capitalist economy by another. This economic mechanism operates through the export of capital. The latter takes place in all its generic forms; that is as export of commodities, financial capital and productive investment. This export of capital is at the same time an indication of strength and weakness. An imperialist economy tends to export its economic activities both because these have developed more that its national basis can sustain and also because its capital overaccumulation threatens its viability. This economic exodus abroad leads to conflict with capitals from other countries that pursue the same course and which aim to secure wider areas of economic domination and exploitation. Sooner or later (or sometimes even preceding), the states that are the political supports of these capitals are brought in and the conflict acquires also apolitical and seldom military dimensions. As part of this process, more or less stable and permanent blocs of capitals and states are often formed.

Imperialism is not a particular stage of capitalism (although it flourishes in some of them) but the mode through which capitalism organizes its international system from its very birth. Thus, imperialism should not be associated with some form of capitalist competition (e.g. monopolies) – although some of them enhance imperialist relations more than others – but it is a general attribute of the system. Thus, its economic exploitation mechanism – i.e. international value transfers from one economy to another – works via normal capitalist competition and not only in cases of monopolist competition. In other words, imperialist surplus extraction exists irrespectively of the existence of monopolist super-profits. Marxism, contrary to the other main economic theories, has an elaborate dialectical theory of competition. Free competition, oligopoly and monopoly are not distinct cases but expressions of the same mechanism. Competition is the mechanism from which oligopoly and monopoly arise but also in which they subsequently collapse. This dialectical understanding can realistically grasp the tides and ebbs of mergers and acquisitions waves of modern capitalism.

The global system of imperialism is a complex structure comprised not by two groups (imperialist and not imperialist economies) but by more. Particularly since the middle 20th century we have witnessed the emergence of several economies that can be at the same time victims of imperialist exploitation by some economies and agents of imperialist exploitation for others. Thus, the global imperialist system is a pyramid-like structure comprising of several levels. Those middle-level economies fall in the category of sub-imperialism.

Imperialism is not identical with the notion of finance capital (i.e. Hilefrding’s influential thesis about the merge between banking and productive capital under the dominance of the former). It has been adequately proved that this fusion was not dominant neither during the early 1900s nor today (Bond 2010). On the contrary other forms of money capital (e.g. those in capital markets) can play a more influential role.

Finally, contrary to ‘globalisationism’, the basic unit of the global system of imperialism remains the national economy. Bukharin (1917) had accurately pointed out that capitalism is characterized by a permanent contradiction between nationalization and internationalization. Nationalisation denotes capitalism’s foundational unit. Internationalisation expresses capital’s inherent tendency to expand its accumulation. This permanent and unresolvable contradiction is expressed in tidal waves of internationalization and re-nationalisation (i.e. return to the foundational basis). On the basis of this contradiction antagonistic blocs of capitalist economies are being formed.

Following from the above-mentioned considerations, the primary task for a modern redefinition of the Marxist theory of imperialism is to designate the economic mechanism of imperialist exploitation. More specifically, it must specify how more developed capitalist economies can obtain transfers of value form less developed economies in all three main forms of international economic activities: (a) trade, (b) direct investments and (c) portfolio investments.

 

a) International Transfers of Value due to Trade

The fundamental mechanism of value transfers in international trade is this described by the absolute advantage theory as presented by A.Smith and K.Marx. According to this, any individual country that holds advantages in production costs at the beginning of the trade transactions will seek to maintain them in the same way as an individual capital struggles to prevail over its competitors in the domestic market (Shaikh 1980a, 1980b, 2016). This is a realistic conception of international economic relations that grasps accurately the existence of persistent disequilibria in international trade, uneven development and geopolitical antagonisms in stark contrast to the fictional world of free trade liberalism.

For Marxism, the absolute advantage thesis implies the existence of a mechanism of unequal exchange that results in value transfers from some countries to others. Needless to say, this hemorrhage impedes the formers’ economic development. Beginning with Emmanuel’s (1972) seminal contribution there is a heated debate within Marxist Political Economy on the form of this unequal exchange mechanism. Setting aside Emmanuel’s problematic ‘strict unequal exchange’ (i.e. unequal exchange due to differences in wage rates and consequently to rates of surplus-value) we will argue that the proper mechanism is that of ‘broad unequal exchange’ (i.e. unequal exchange due to different organic compositions of capital, that is levels of development).

The gist of the ‘broad unequal exchange’ argument lays in a basic tenet of Marx’s transformation process of labour values to prices: the equalization of the rates of profit transfers surplus value produced from capitalists with lower organic composition of capital (OCC) to those with higher OCC. This holds both within a national economy and within a multi-national common market like the EU). The conclusion is that when developed economies compete with less developed economies a transfer of value would occur from the latter to the former; thus, constituting a mechanism of international economic exploitation.

 

b) International Transfers of Value due to Foreign Direct Investments

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is a different case. Although existing from the very beginning of capitalism, it increased significantly from the middle 20th century and onwards. Contrary to Dependency Theory’s empirical flawed empirical belief, FDI does not flow only from developed to less developed economies but also within these two broad categories. FDI means that a national capital makes a productive investment in another economy in order to extract surplus value. The predominant form of such investment is through multinational corporations (MNCs) which however has distinct national bases (metropole). The profits from an FDI can either be re-invested in the recipient economy or repatriated to the metropole. Only in the latter case they do constitute an international transfer of value. Both practices are common although there are characterized by significant historical variations. As Mandel (1978) accurately points out, there are various ways and accounting devices through which MNCs realise such international value transfers (e.g. transfer pricing).

 

c) International Transfers of Value due to Portfolio Investment

International Portfolio Investment involves financial transactions through banks (international loans) and capital markets (playing in foreign stock exchanges). In the case of international loans, the international value transfer from the debtor to the lender is obvious: loans are repaid plus interest. In the case of stock exchange gains the case is less obvious (as they can be ‘played’ again in the same capital market), but a usual practice – particularly since global financial deregulation – is to move them around the world.

 

 

REFERENCES

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Zevin, R. (1988), ‘Are world financial markets more open? If so, why and with what effect?’, paper delivered at WIDER Conference on Financial Openness, Helsinki.

 

 

[1] Various indices have been proposed in order to measure globalization. Setting aside multi-measures (encompassing economic, social and political factors), the predominant economic measures focus on the proportions of foreign investment, international trade to GDP and the proportion of migration to population. This graph shows these trends.

 

Εκδήλωση-Συζήτηση: “Οι ανάγκες μας πάνω απο τις επενδύσεις και τους δείκτες ανάπτυξης» – 7.30μμ πάρκο Αγ Νικολάου, Ηλιούπολη

ΠΑΡΑΣΚΕΥΗ 4 ΟΚΤΩΒΡΗ, 7.30μμ

Εκδήλωση-Συζήτηση:
“Οι ανάγκες μας πάνω απο τις επενδύσεις και τους δείκτες ανάπτυξης (ο κομβικός ρόλος του πρώην αεροδρομίου)”

πάρκο Αγ Νικολάου (Τουμπάζη & Αχ Παράσχου) στην Ηλιούπολη

 

 

 

Οι αριστερές/αντικαπιταλιστικές κινήσεις ΜΑΧόμενη Ηλιούπολη , Εκτός Πλάνου – Αντικαπιταλιστική Κίνηση Ελληνικού Αργυρούπολης και Αριστερή Πρωτοβουλία Γλυφάδας – με την αριστερά της ρήξης & της ανατροπής σας προσκαλούν στο 5ο πολιτικό – πολιτιστικό φεστιβάλ στα νότια πο θα γίνει στο πάρκο Αγ Νικολάου (Τουμπάζη & Αχ Παράσχου) στην Ηλιούπολη, 4 & 5 Οκτώβρη

Το πρόγραμμα του διήμερου φεστιβάλ είναι το παρακάτω:ΠΑΡΑΣΚΕΥΗ 4 ΟΚΤΩΒΡΗ

Εκδήλωση-Συζήτηση:
“Οι ανάγκες μας πάνω απο τις επενδύσεις και τους δείκτες ανάπτυξης (ο κομβικός ρόλος του πρώην αεροδρομίου)”

Εισηγητές:

  • Στ. Μαυρουδέας
  • Π.Βασιλάκης
  • Γ.Χαϊκάλης

Συναυλία με:
ΑΟΡΑΤΟΣ ΕΧΘΡΟΣ
ΝΕΚΡΟΙ ΑΠΟ ΚΟΥΝΙΑ
RADICAL BRAKES

ΣΑΒΒΑΤΟ 5 ΟΚΤΩΒΡΗ

Εκδήλωση-Συζήτηση:
“ΜΜΕ: Παραμορφωτικός καθρέφτης της τέχνης (εμπορευματοποίηση, αποκλεισμοί, λογοκρισία)”

Ρεμπέτικο γλέντι με:
ΑΡΗΣ ΜΑΘΕΣΗΣ μπουζούκι
ΦΩΤΕΙΝΗ ΡΕΝΤΖΗ κιθάρα
ΑΦΡΟΔΙΤΗ ΜΠΟΜΠΟΡΑ ακορντεόν

και τις δύο μέρες
Αντιφασιστικό τουρνουά Μπάσκετ 3Χ3
και παιδικό στέκι μεταξύ 16:00-19:00

Κανονικότητα ακούμε και κανονικότητα δε βλέπουμε. Δεν υπάρχει καμία επιστροφή σε καλύτερες μέρες. Η κανονικότητά τους δεν έχει ούτε τυράκια. Καμία παροχή, κανένα κοινωνικό κράτος. Μόνο παραπέρα κτύπημα των συλλογικών συμβάσεων και του απεργιακού δικαιώματος, ένταση της καταστολής κατάργηση του ασύλου,  αστυνομοκρατία στο κέντρο, πογκρόμ στους πρόσφυγες…. Και βέβαια δωράκια στο κεφάλαιο, όπως οι φοροελαφρύνσεις και το «ελευθέρας» για τους «επενδυτές» παντού και στο Ελληνικό. Αυτά είναι τα πρώτα επιτεύγματα της ΝΔ.

Όλο και περισσότεροι βλέπουν ότι οι στόχοι που έχει βάλει η νέα κυβέρνηση για ανάπτυξη είναι ανέφικτοι. Αντί για φοροελαφρύνσεις θα έχουμε νέα αντεργατική- αντιλαϊκή επιδρομή. Η πολιτική σταθερότητα που δεσπόζει σήμερα είναι κάλπικη, έχει σαθρά θεμέλια και δε θα αντέξει όσο κι αν εργάζονται για αυτό όχι μόνο τα αστικά κόμματα αλλά και οι τοπικές διοικήσεις. Ειδικά στα νότια δεν έχουμε καμία αυταπάτη για το ρόλο που θέλουν να παίξουν οι δημοτικές αρχές. Δε διαχειρίζονται απλώς μια δύσκολη πραγματικότητα. Παίζουν κομβικό ρόλο στη νέα επίθεση, στις ιδιωτικοποιήσεις, στις ελαστικές εργασιακές σχέσεις, στη διάλυση της κοινωνικής μέριμνας, στην εφαρμογή ιδιωτικοοικονομικών κριτηρίων, στην περιστολή δημοκρατικών δικαιωμάτων . Το «είμαστε ανεξάρτητοι, νοιαζόμαστε μόνο για το καλό της πόλης» είναι ουσιαστική στήριξη της κυρίαρχης πολιτικής, σημαίνει πολύ απλά ότι θα προωθήσουν με ζήλο στο τοπικό επίπεδο τις κεντρικές κατευθύνσεις που βάζουν κυβέρνηση-ΕΕ- κεφάλαιο.

Δεν ψαρώνουμε από τα πολύ υψηλά ποσοστά των δημοτικών αρχών. Αυτά είναι αποτέλεσμα των πολύ χαμηλών προσδοκιών που υπάρχουν συνολικά στην κοινωνία, κυρίως με ευθύνη της προηγούμενης κυβέρνησης ΣΥΡΙΖΑ. Πολλοί σκέφτηκαν ότι αφού τίποτα δε μπορεί να αλλάξει, ας διαλέξουμε κάποιον που να κάνει δυο πράγματα για την καθημερινότητα. Πόσο όμως μπορεί να πέσει ο πήχης, πόσο ακόμα θα συμβιβαστούμε με την κοινωνική εξαθλίωση; Το υπάρχον πλαίσιο με τον Κλεισθένη, τα ΕΣΠΑ και την ανταποδοτικότητα δεν αφήνει κανένα περιθώριο για την άσκηση φιλολαϊκής διαχείρισης. Τα «ένα-δυο πράγματα» που θα κάνουν θα είναι τελικά συμβολή στη συνολική επίθεση που δέχονται οι ανάγκες και τα δικαιώματά μας.

Ανήκουμε σε εκείνη την Αριστερά που τίμια βλέπει τις αδυναμίες της αλλά σήμερα δεν ντρέπεται. Ακριβώς επειδή δεν πίστεψε ποτέ σε εύκολες κοινοβουλευτικές συνταγές, μπορεί να διεκδικήσει σημαντικό ρόλο στους σύγχρονους κοινωνικούς αγώνες. Με νέο θάρρος μιλάμε για την δημοκρατία των από κάτω, για τα κινήματα που θα δένουν το ειδικό με το συνολικό, το τοπικό με το κεντρικό, για τους μαχητικούς αγώνες που όχι μόνο βάζουν αντιστάσεις αλλά θα επιβάλουν τα λαϊκά συμφέροντα.

Με αυτές τις σκέψεις σας καλούμε στο φεστιβάλ μας. Όχι μόνο για να ξεσκάσουμε αλλά για να δυναμώσουμε και να σχεδιάσουμε τις επόμενες μάχες. Να συζητήσουμε, να προβληματιστούμε, να τραγουδήσουμε, να χορέψουμε, να παίξουμε, να διασκεδάσουμε, να φάμε και να πιούμε… συλλογικά και με την τρέλα των ανθρώπων που πιστεύουν ότι θα αλλάξουν τον κόσμο.

Crisi economiche e crisi dell’economia: L’economia politica come alternativa realistica e credibile – Stavros Mavroudeas

Traduzione italiana del mio documento ‘‘Economic Crisis and the crisis of Economics: Political Economy as a realistic and credible alternative’

Mille grazie a Francesco Maccelli

 

 

Crisi economiche e crisi dell’economia:

L’economia politica come alternativa realistica e credibile

 

Stavros Mavroudeas

Professore di Economia Politica

 

Traduzione italiana di Francesco Maccelli

 

Questo video si concentra sulle crisi della disciplina economica e sulla rilevanza dell’Economia politica come alternativa credibile e realistica. L’ultima Grande Recessione capitalistica del 2008 ha riaperto un dibattito a lungo dimenticato sulle questioni delle crisi economiche dalla tradizione dominante nella teoria economica, ovvero l’Economia. Quest’ultima – ovvero, lo studio delle società che si astrae dalle relazioni sociale e politiche, come un “gioco” tra individui e non tra classi sociali – ha fallito, sia nella variante ortodossa (Neoclassica) sia in quella eterodossa (Keynesiana) nel comprendere e in confronto alla crisi del 2008. Questa è una ripetizione del passato in quanto l’Economia non ha saputo interpretare o prevedere le principali crisi precedenti. Nella fattispecie, la versione ortodossa considera il capitalismo come un sistema perfetto dove le crisi sopraggiungono solamente perché è avvenuto uno spostamento dal “normale” equilibrio di mercato. Nella versione eterodossa il capitalismo, in accordo con la sua natura anarchica è soggetto a crisi, ma l’esistenza di contrappesi, ovvero gli Stati, può garantire il ripetersi di tali episodi. Entrambe le tradizioni hanno fallito completamento quando le crisi hanno colpito sia economie dai principi liberisti sia regolamentate. Dall’altra parte, l’Economia politica – l’altra grande tradizione presente nella teoria economica – propone una comprensione credibile e realistica della società e dell’economia. Quest’ultima non si basa su individui ma su classi sociali antagoniste. Questa lotta di classe dentro al perimetro dell’economia ha una natura sociale intrinseca ed è necessariamente legata alla politica. Pertanto, l’Economia Politica sostiene un’analisi unificata dell’economia, della società e della politica. All’interno di quest’ultima, la tradizione marxista identifica il capitalismo come un sistema instabile, che alterna periodi di boom a periodi di crisi. Questo è il normale funzionamento del sistema nel suo complesso in quanto presenta fluttuazioni cicliche (cicli economici). In questa visione, le crisi non sono aberrazioni ma normali fasi. Inoltre, l’intervento statale può influenzare l’aprirsi di crisi e le sue evoluzioni, ma non può mai estinguere la loro esistenza. In tal senso sostengo che questo quadro analitico ha un potere esplicativo maggiore dell’Economia.

 

I punti principali

 

Storicamente il pensiero economico si è diviso tra due principali approcci alternativi: l’Economia politica e l’Economia. La seguente tabella riassume le differenze fondamentali dei due orientamenti.

 

Tabella 1. I due principali approcci    
  Economia Politica Economia
Agenti Classi sociali. L’economia è un ‘gioco’ sociale Individui. L’economia è un ‘gioco’ tra individui
Focus principale Produzione Circolazione (e solo quello coinvolto negli scambi di mercato)
Quadro analitico Sistema duale: valore (lavoro) determina prezzi Prezzi determinati dai prezzi
Analisi dell’economia in relazione alla società e alla politica In un quadro unificato Separatamente

 

L’Economia è lo studio dell’economia in astrazione rispetto alle relazioni sociali e politiche, come un ‘gioco’ tra individui. Non possono esserci gruppi sociali poiché ogni individuo è diverso dall’altro. Tuttavia, queste totali differenze individuali obbediscono miracolosamente alla stessa norma comportamentale, ovvero minimizzando i costi e massimizzando l’utilità. Al contrario, l’Economia Politica considera l’economia come un processo sociale; quindi un ‘gioco’ tra classi sociali, con la presenza di antagonismo e differenti regole comportamentali.

 

Ognuno dei due approcci alternativi è suddiviso in due correnti, come mostrato nella Tabella 2.

 

Tabella 2. Sottodivisione dei due principali approcci  
Economia Politica Economia
Economia Politica Classica (Smith e Ricardo) Neoclassici
Economia Politica Marxista Keynesiani

 

Fino dalla fine del diciannovesimo secolo, l’Economia è divenuta la variante dominante all’interno della disciplina. Infatti, costituisce l’Ortodossia o il Mainstream della disciplina. L’Economia Politica ha continuato ad esistere (soprattutto sotto forma di Economia politica Marxista e Radicale) ma è stata relegata nel ‘sottomondo’, esclusa dalle posizioni dominanti dei processi decisioni della politica economica. Tuttavia, a causa della sua natura individualista e delle sue assunzioni fondamentali non realistiche (mercati perfetti, ecc.), l’Economia è stata segnata dai conflitti interni. Questi problemi sono particolarmente evidenti durante le grandi e prolungate crisi economiche ed è a questo punto che subentra la tradizione eterodossa. Quest’ultima ha alcuni punti in comuni con l’Ortodossia, ma si discosta da essa in altri.

 

Dalla metà degli anni ’80 il pensiero economico e la politica sono sempre più stati egemonizzati da tipi di teoria Neoclassica molto dogmatici e conservatori, di solito etichettati come neoliberismo. Le aspettative razionali, l’infatuazione matematica senza considerazioni sul realismo, la credenza in un perfetto funzionamento dei mercati sono le sue principali caratteristiche. In questo solco, il Keynesismo, la precedente ortodossia, divenne un filone eterodosso.

 

Tuttavia, il neoliberismo, a cause delle sue ipotesi non realistiche – ha seri problemi nell’istruire la politica economica. Pertanto, anche prima della crisi capitalistica globale del 2008, fu creata una nuova ortodossia. Questo è quello che ho chiamato il Nuovo Consenso Macroeconomico (NCM), che è un ibrido tra un lieve neoliberismo e il nuovo keynesismo conservatore. In breve, il NCM è keynesiamo nel breve termine, accettando l’esistenza così di attriti e disequilibri e quindi l’intervento in politica economica, e neoliberale nel lungo periodo, puntando sulle aspettative razionali e nei mercati auto-regolanti.

 

Al contrario, la Grande Recessione del 2008 e le sue conseguenze hanno fatto a pezzi la credibilità di questa nuova ortodossia e ha mostrato ancora una volta la palese ed intrinseca incapacità dell’Economia di comprendere, prevedere e affrontare le crisi economiche.

 

Vi sono ampie prove di questo fallimento: in questo senso, i Neoclassici avevano preannunciato la fine dei cicli economici. In particolare, il Fondo Monetario Internazionale nell’ottobre 2007 ha dichiarato che “nelle economie avanzate le recessioni sono praticamente scomparse nel secondo dopoguerra”.

E poi è sopravvenuto lo stupore: il vincitore del Premio Nobel e principale economista neoclassico di Chicago, Eugene Fama ha dichiarato che “non sappiamo che cosa causa le recessioni. Non sono un macroeconomista, quindi non mi sento in difetto per questo. Non l’abbiamo mai saputo. Ancora oggi continuano i dibattiti su ciò che ha causato la Grande Depressione. L’economia non è molto brava a spiegare le oscillazioni dell’attività economica… Se avessi potuto prevedere la crisi, lo avrei fatto. Non le vedo. Mi piacerebbe sapere di più cosa provoca i cicli economici”.

 

Il fallimento dell’Economia, in entrambi le varianti (Ortodossi e Eterodossi), nel comprendere le crisi economiche deriva dalla sua stessa metodologia. La tabella 3 riassume il percorso principale degli approcci delle scuole del pensiero economiche al problema delle crisi economiche

 

Essenzialmente, il Neoclassici credono che il capitalismo è un sistema perfetto, un orologio svizzero, che non fallirà mari e che non cade in crisi. Queste ultime sopraggiungono perché alcuni agenti non seguono il normale comportamento del mercato, distorcendo il perfetto funzionamento di esso. Il capitalismo è intrinsecamente perfetto e auto-equilibrante.

 

I Keynesiani ritengono che il capitalismo può cadere nelle crisi per colpa della sua natura anarchica che consente agli agenti di funzionare in modo irregolare. Tuttavia, una supervisione dello Stato nazione può evitare crisi o risolverle. Il capitalismo è il miglior sistema economico possibile, ma deve essere salvato dalle sue stesse contraddizioni.

 

Questi due approcci hanno fallito non solo nell’ultima crisi, ma anche in quelle precedenti. Il loro tracollo deriva dalle loro basi comune all’interno della tradizione dell’Economia:

  • La comprensione dell’economia è un ‘gioco’ tra individui che non riescono a interpretare la sua dimensione sociale e, in particolare, il loro ruolo di lotta di classe. Non riescono a collegare i processi economici a quelli sociali e politici.
  • La loro convinzione che il capitalismo sia il miglior sistema socioeconomico porta a ignorare le sue carenze e contraddizioni fondamentali o a pensare che possano essere corrette.
  • La loro enfasi sulla sfera della circolazione ignora che la base dell’economia è la sfera della produzione. Pertanto, sia il neoclassicismo che il keynesismo ignorano il ruolo critico della redditività – il tasso di profittabilità e il totale dei profitti – nell’economia capitalistica. Di conseguenza, questi due approcci non sono in grado di discernere come una caduta della redditività proti alla crisi economica.

 

Contrariamente a questi ultimi, l’Economia Politica propone una comprensione più realistica e credibile dell’Economia. Quest’ultimo non è un ‘gioco’ tra individui ma tra classi sociali antagoniste. La lotta di classe all’interno dell’economia ha una natura sociale intrinseca ed è naturalmente legata alla politica. Infatti, l’Economia Politica sostiene un’analisi unificata dell’economia, della società e della politica.

 

All’interno dell’Economia Politica, la tradizione Marxista offre una teoria della crisi molto realistica, sofisticata e coerente. Sostiene che il capitalismo è un sistema che alterna periodi di crescita a periodi di crisi. Questo è il normale funzionamento del sistema in quanto presenta fluttuazioni cicliche, ovvero cicli economici. Pertanto, le crisi non sono un’aberrazione ma una caratteristica. In questo senso, l’intervento statale può influenzare il dispiegarsi e l’evolversi delle crisi, ma non può estinguere la loro esistenza.

 

I punti principali della teoria marxista delle crisi possono essere riassunti come segue:

  • Le crisi economiche fanno parte del normale funzionamento del sistema capitalistico, cioè hanno cause sistemiche o endogene.
  • Ciò implica che le crisi sono un evento comune e frequente, ovvero un fenomeno ricorrente.
  • Ciò però non implica che il capitalismo sia in crisi continuamente, né che è destinato a crollare a causa di un più semplice effetto economico. Il capitalismo passa da periodi di boom a periodi di recessione. Questa successione di cicli provoca le fluttuazioni dell’attività economica (cicli economici) ed è espressa sia nei cicli di breve che in quelli di lungo periodo.
  • Le cause sistemiche delle crisi derivano dalla sfera dominante della produzione. Esprimono le contraddizioni dell’accumulazione capitalista e operano anche senza gli effetti della lotta di classe. In breve, le crisi compaiono anche senza la militanza dei lavoratori e la loro contrapposizione ai capitalisti.
  • La causa sistemica delle fluttuazioni economiche sia di breve che di lungo periodo è il tasso di profitto. La profittabilità è lo scopo e, quindi, il fattore determinante nel funzionamento del sistema capitalista. Pertanto, le sue fluttuazioni determinano sia i cicli a breve sia quelli a lungo termine dell’accumulazione di capitale, espresse grossolanamente nelle fluttuazioni degli investimenti e del PIL.
  • La regola di base che determina il movimento del profitto è la legge di tendenza della caduta del saggio di profitto individuata da Marx. Questo meccanismo fornisce l’essenza centrale coesiste nella lotta continua con una serie di tendenze contrarie. La loro interazione provoca sia le fluttuazioni di lungo periodo, ovvero l’alternanza di periodi d’oro di forte crescita e di fasi di crisi strutturali, sia le fluttuazioni di breve periodo, che alternano crescita e crollo.
  • La competizione intra-capitalista si svolge in funzione dei tassi di profitto, mettendo in relazione i capitalisti. Il cambiamento tecnico, in tal senso, è il principale fattore determinante del vantaggio competitivo in questa corsa tra produttori. Questo ruolo cruciale attribuito al cambiamento tecnologico differenzia Marx sia da Adam Smith sia da David Ricardo.
  • Le crisi sono sia un’espressione dei problemi del capitalismo, sia un meccanismo di rettifica interno a tale sistema.
  • I problemi: il successo stesso del sistema, cioè la sua eccessiva accumulazione di capitale, causa il suo fallimento, ovvero l’incapacità di continuare ad accumulare. La sua sovrapproduzione lo porta a superare i suoi limiti sociali e tecnici in un periodo dato.
  • La rettifica: un processo di distruzione e ri-costruzione, partendo dalla scomparsa di una parte del sistema per lasciare spazio ad un nuovo fenomeno.

Questo quadro analitico ha un potere esplicativo maggiore di quello dimostrato dall’Economia come il dibatto sulla recente crisi globale ha confermato.

Crise econômica e a crise da Economia: Economia Política como alternativa realista – Stavros Mavroudeas, Crítica Ontológica

This is the Portuguese translation of ‘Economic Crisis and the crisis of Economics: Political Economy as a realistic and credible alternative’.

It was published at Crítica Ontológica

Thanks to Guilherme Nunes Pires for the translation.

 

Crise econômica e a crise da Economia: Economia Política como alternativa realista |Stavros Mavroudeas

Por Stavros Mavroudeas (texto original)

Tradução de Guilherme Nunes Pires (@guinunespires)

Esta palestra em vídeo enfoca a atual crise econômica e a relevância da economia política como uma alternativa realista e credível. A última crise capitalista global de 2008 reabriu as discussões sobre a questão da crise econômica; uma questão há muito esquecida pela tradição dominante na teoria econômica, Economia. A economia (que é o estudo da economia em abstração das relações sociais e políticas, como uma “brincadeira” entre indivíduos e não entre classes sociais) falhou, tanto nas versões Mainstream (Neoclassicismo) quanto Heterodoxa (Keynesianismo) para prever, compreender e enfrentar a crise de 2008. Esta é uma repetição do histórico sombrio da Economia contra quase todas as principais crises econômicas anteriores. Sua versão Mainstream considera o capitalismo um sistema perfeito, onde as crises só surgem devido a deformações do funcionamento “normal” do mercado.

Sua versão heterodoxa sustenta que o capitalismo – por causa de sua natureza anárquica – é propenso a crises, mas a existência de um superintendente (na forma do estado) pode garantir a prevenção de episódios tão tristes. Ambas as versões falharam completamente quando a crise atingiu as economias desreguladas e regulamentadas. Por outro lado, a Economia Política – a outra grande tradição na teoria da economia – propõe uma compreensão mais realista e credível da economia. O último não é um “jogo” entre indivíduos, mas entre classes sociais antagônicas. Essa luta de classes na economia tem uma natureza social inerente e está necessariamente ligada à política.

Assim, a Economia Política defende uma análise unificada da economia, da sociedade e da política. Dentro da Economia Política, a tradição marxista argumenta que o capitalismo é um sistema que passa de períodos de boom para períodos de rebentação. Esse é o funcionamento normal do sistema, pois exibe flutuações cíclicas (ciclos econômicos). Assim, as crises não são uma aberração, mas uma característica normal. Além disso, a intervenção estatal pode afetar a erupção e a evolução das crises, mas não pode extinguir sua existência. Essa estrutura analítica tem maior poder explicativo que a economia.

OS PRINCIPAIS PONTOS DA CONVERSA SÃO OS SEGUINTES:

O assunto desta palestra em vídeo é a atual crise econômica e a relevância da economia política como uma alternativa realista e credível à primeira.

Historicamente, o pensamento econômico é dividido entre duas abordagens alternativas principais: Economia Política e Economia.

A tabela a seguir resume as diferenças fundamentais entre essas abordagens.

Tabela 1: Principais abordagens econômicas alternativas

1

Economia é o estudo da economia em abstração das relações sociais e políticas, como um “jogo” entre indivíduos. Não pode haver grupos sociais, pois cada indivíduo é diferente do outro. No entanto, esses indivíduos totalmente diferentes obedecem milagrosamente à mesma norma comportamental (minimizam o custo e maximizam a utilidade).

Pelo contrário, a Economia Política considera a economia como um processo social; portanto, é uma ‘brincadeira’ entre classes sociais. Existem antagonismos entre eles (luta de classes). E também são regras comportamentais diferentes para diferentes classes sociais.

Cada uma das duas principais abordagens econômicas alternativas é subdividida em duas correntes, conforme mostrado na Tabela 2.

Tabela 2: Subdivisões das principais abordagens econômicas alternativas

2

Desde o final do século 19, a economia se tornou a abordagem dominante. Assim, constitui a Ortodoxia ou o Mainstream. A Economia Política continua sua existência (principalmente na forma de Economia Política Marxista e Radical), mas é relegada ao ‘submundo’, excluído das alturas de comando da formulação de políticas econômicas.

No entanto, devido à sua natureza social e suas suposições fundamentais irrealistas (mercados perfeitos etc.), a Economia foi marcada por conflitos internos. Esses problemas são particularmente evidentes durante grandes e prolongadas crises econômicas. Assim, na economia também aparece uma heterodoxia. Este último é praticamente uma heresia: compartilha vários artigos de fé com a Ortodoxia, mas discorda de outros.

Desde meados da década de 1980, o pensamento e as políticas econômicas têm sido cada vez mais dominados por tipos muito dogmáticos e conservadores da teoria neoclássica (geralmente denominada neoliberalismo). Expectativas racionais, paixão pela matematização sem considerar seu realismo, crença no perfeito funcionamento dos mercados são suas principais características. O keynesianismo – a ortodoxia anterior – tornou-se uma heterodoxia.

No entanto, o neoliberalismo – por causa de suas suposições irrealistas – tem sérios problemas ao instruir a política econômica. Assim, mesmo antes da crise capitalista global de 2008, uma nova ortodoxia foi criada. Este é o Novo Consenso Macroeconômico, que é um híbrido entre um Neoliberalismo moderado e o Novo Keynesianismo conservador. Em resumo, a Nova Ortodoxia do Consenso Macroeconômico é keynesiana no curto prazo (aceitando a existência de atritos e desequilíbrios e, portanto, a eficácia da política econômica) e neoliberal no longo prazo (acreditando nas Expectativas Racionais e nos mercados auto-equilibrados).

No entanto, a crise capitalista global de 2008 e suas consequências destruíram a credibilidade dessa Ortodoxia e mostram mais uma vez a flagrante incapacidade da Economia em entender, prever e enfrentar crises econômicas.

Há ampla evidência dessa falha:

Novos clássicos anunciaram o fim dos ciclos econômicos.

Em um nível mais prático, o FMI declarou em outubro de 2007 que “nas economias avançadas, as recessões econômicas praticamente desapareceram no período pós-guerra”.

E então houve espanto:

O vencedor do Prêmio Nobel e o economista neoclássico de Chicago Eugene Fama declarou: “Não sabemos o que causa recessões. Eu não sou macroeconomista, então não me sinto mal com isso. Nós nunca soubemos. Os debates continuam até hoje sobre o que causou a Grande Depressão. A economia não é muito boa em explicar as oscilações da atividade econômica … Se eu pudesse prever a crise, teria. Eu não vejo isso. Gostaria de saber mais o que causa ciclos de negócios. “

O fracasso da Economia (em suas versões ortodoxa e heterodoxa) em compreender a crise econômica decorre de sua própria metodologia.

A Tabela 3 resume a maneira como as principais escolas de pensamento econômico abordam a questão da crise econômica.

Tabela 3: Escolas de pensamento econômico & a crise econômica

3

Essencialmente, o neoclassicismo acredita que o capitalismo é um sistema perfeito (um relógio suíço) que nunca falha (e cai em crise). As crises ocorrem porque algum agente não segue o comportamento normal do mercado (portanto, distorce o perfeito funcionamento do mercado). O capitalismo é perfeito e se equilibra.

O keynesianismo acredita que o capitalismo pode cair em crise (teoria das possibilidades da crise) porque sua natureza anárquica permite que os agentes funcionem irregularmente. No entanto, uma supervisão sensata do estado pode evitar crises ou resolvê-las. O capitalismo é o melhor, mas deve ser salvo de suas próprias contradições.

Essas abordagens falharam não apenas na última crise, mas também nas anteriores. Seu fracasso deriva de seus fundamentos comuns da Economia:

  • A compreensão da economia é uma “brincadeira” entre indivíduos que não consegue compreender sua dimensão social e, particularmente, o papel da luta de classes. Ele também falha em vincular processos econômicos, sociais e políticos.
  • Sua crença de que o capitalismo é o melhor sistema socioeconômico leva a ignorar suas deficiências e contradições fundamentais ou a pensar que elas podem ser retificadas.
  • Sua ênfase na esfera da circulação ignora que a base da economia é a esfera da produção. Assim, tanto o neoclassicismo quanto o keynesianismo ignoram o papel crítico da lucratividade (a taxa e a massa do lucro) na economia capitalista. Consequentemente, eles não conseguem discernir como uma queda na lucratividade leva à crise econômica.

Ao contrário de ambos, a economia política propõe uma compreensão mais realista e credível da economia. O último não é um “jogo” entre indivíduos, mas entre classes sociais antagônicas. Essa luta de classes na economia tem uma natureza social inerente e está necessariamente ligada à política. Assim, a Economia Política defende uma análise unificada da economia, da sociedade e da política.

Na economia política, a tradição da economia política marxista oferece uma teoria da crise muito realista, sofisticada e coerente. Argumenta que o capitalismo é um sistema que passa de períodos de booms para períodos de rebentação. Esse é o funcionamento normal do sistema, pois exibe flutuações cíclicas (ciclos econômicos). Assim, as crises não são uma aberração, mas uma característica normal. Além disso, a intervenção estatal pode afetar a erupção e a evolução das crises, mas não pode extinguir sua existência.

Os principais pontos da teoria marxista da crise podem ser resumidos da seguinte forma:

  • As crises econômicas fazem parte do funcionamento normal do sistema capitalista (isto é, têm causas endógenas [sistêmicas]).
  • Isso implica que as crises são um evento usual e frequente (ou seja, são um fenômeno sistemático).
  • Isso não implica que o capitalismo esteja em crise contínua nem que esteja destinado a entrar em colapso devido a uma simples economia. Em vez disso, o capitalismo passa de períodos de boom (crescimento) para períodos de rebentamento (recessão). Essa sucessão causa flutuações da atividade econômica (ciclos econômicos) e é expressa tanto nos ciclos econômicos de curto prazo quanto nos de longo prazo.
  • As causas sistêmicas das crises derivam da esfera dominante da produção (e são subsequentemente expressas nas demais e não vice-versa). Expressam as contradições da acumulação capitalista e operam mesmo sem os efeitos da luta de classes (ou seja, as crises aparecem mesmo sem a militância dos trabalhadores).
  • O determinante básico (causa sistêmica) das flutuações econômicas de curto e longo prazo é a taxa de lucro (e a massa de lucros ligada a ela). A motivação do lucro é o objetivo e, portanto, o fator determinante na operação do sistema capitalista. Portanto, suas flutuações determinam as flutuações de curto e de longo prazo da acumulação de capital (expressas grosseiramente nas flutuações do investimento e do PIB).
  • A regra básica que determina o movimento do lucro é a Lei da Queda Tendencial da Taxa de Lucro (LQTTL). Ele fornece o centro. Ele coexiste em luta contínua com várias tendências de contra-ação. Sua interação causa tanto as flutuações de longo prazo (alteração entre as “épocas douradas” de forte crescimento e profundas crises estruturais) quanto as flutuações de curto prazo (alterações entre crescimento e queda).
  • A competição intra-capitalista ocorre em vista das taxas de lucro (cada capitalista vê seus adversários) e é modelada de forma crucial pelos aspectos técnicos de sua empresa. Portanto, a mudança técnica é o principal determinante da vantagem competitiva. Esse papel crucial atribuído à mudança técnica diferencia Marx de A. Smith (ele considerou mudança técnica, mas não em relação à taxa de lucro) e D. Ricardo (ele não considerou mudança técnica em relação à taxa de lucro)
  • A crise é uma expressão dos problemas do sistema capitalista e um mecanismo de retificação.
  • Problemas: o próprio sucesso do sistema (sua superacumulação de capital) causa seu fracasso (a incapacidade de continuar acumulando). Sua superextensão leva a superar seus limites sociais e técnicos (no período determinado).
  • Retificação: um processo de destruição e reconstrução. Parte do sistema deve ser destruída (por exemplo, falências) para deixar espaço para sua [reconstrução].

Esse arcabouço analítico tem maior poder explicativo que a Economia, como provou o debate sobre a recente crise global.

‘Economic Crisis and the crisis of Economics: Political Economy as a realistic and credible alternative’ – video lecture by S.Mavroudeas

I have been invited by the ISEPA’19 conference (organised by the Dicle University) to speak atheir conference.

Since I could not make it due to other obligations I was asked for a video lecture.

Its subject is ‘Economic Crisis and the crisis of Economics: Political Economy as a realistic and credible alternative’

Nikos Zappas did an excellent job in recording and editing the video.

The link for watching the video is below:

 

  • The abstract of the lecture is the following:

 

INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON ECONOMICS, POLITICS AND ADMINISTRATION

ISEPA’19

‘Rethinking the Economy and Politics: Current Solutions for New Problems’

10-12 October 2019, Dicle University, Diyarbakir

 

‘Economic Crisis and the crisis of Economics:

Political Economy as a realistic and credible alternative’

 

Stavros Mavroudeas

Professor of Political Economy

Panteion University

Dept. of Social Policy

e-mail: s.mavroudeas@panteion.gr

 

ABSTRACT

This video lecture focuses on the current crisis of Economics and the relevance of Political Economy as a realistic and credible alternative. The last global capitalist crisis of 2008 reopened discussions on the issue of economic crisis; an issue long forgotten by the dominant tradition within economic theory, Economics. Economics (that is the study of the economy in abstraction from social and political relations, as a ‘play’ between individuals and not between social classes) has failed, in both its Mainstream (Neoclassicism) and Heterodox (Keynesianism) versions to forecast, comprehend and confront the 2008 crisis. This is a repetition of Economics’ dismal record against almost all previous major economic crises. Its Mainstream version considers capitalism a perfect system where crises erupt only because of deformations of the ‘normal’ functioning of the market. Its Heterodox version maintains that capitalism – because of its anarchic nature – is prone to crises but the existence of an overseer (in the form of the state) can secure the avoidance of such sad episodes. Both versions have failed utterly as the crisis hit both deregulated and regulated economies. On the other hand, Political Economy – the other major tradition in economy theory – proposes a more realistic and credible understanding of the economy. The latter is not an ‘play’ between individuals but between antagonistic social classes. This class struggle within the economy has an inherent social nature and is necessarily linked with politics. Thus, Political Economy argues for a unified analysis of the economy, the society and politics. Within Political Economy the Marxist tradition argues that capitalism is a system that passes from periods of booms to periods of bust. This is the normal functioning of the system as it exhibits cyclical fluctuations (economic cycles). Thus, crises are not an aberration but a normal characteristic. Moreover, state intervention can affect the eruption and the evolution of crises but it cannot extinguish their existence. This analytical framework has greater explanatory power that Economics.

 

  • The main points of the talk are the following:

The subject of this video lecture is the current crisis of Economics and the relevance of Political Economy as a realistic and credible alternative to the former.

Historically, economic thought is divided between two main alternative approaches: Political Economy and Economics.

The following table summarises the fundamental differences between these approaches.

 

 

Table 1: Main alternative economic approaches

 

POLITICAL ECONOMY

 

 

ECONOMICS

Agents social classes

the economy is a social ‘game’

individuals

the economy is a ‘game’ between individuals

Primary focus production circulation (and only that involved in market exchange
Analytical framework Dual system:

(labour) values detn. prices

Single system:

prices detn. prices

Analysis of the economy in relation to society and politics in a unified framework separately

 

Economics is the study of the economy in abstraction from social and political relations, as a ‘play’ between individuals. There cannot be social groups as each individual is different from the other. However, these totally different individuals obey miraculously the same behavioural norm (minimize cost while maximizing utility).

On the contrary, Political Economy considers the economy as a social process; thus it is a ‘play’ between social classes. There is antagonisms between them (class struggle). And also they are different behavioural rules for different social classes.

Each of the two main alternative economic approaches is sub-divided two currents, as shown in Table 2.

 

Table 2: Sub-divisions of the Main alternative economic approaches

 

Since the end of the 19th century, Economics have become the dominant approach. Thus, it constitutes the Orthodoxy or the Mainstream. Political Economy continues its existence (mainly in the form of Marxist and Radical Political Economy) but it is relegated to the ‘underworld’, excluded from the commanding heights of economic policy making.

However, because of its a-social nature and its unrealistic fundamental assumptions (perfect markets etc.), Economics has been scarred by internal strife. These problems are particularly evident during big and prolonged economic crises. Thus, there appears within Economics also a Heterodoxy. The latter is practically a heresy: it shares several articles of faith with the Orthodoxy but it disagrees in some others.

Since the mid-1980s economic thought and policy has been increasingly dominated by very dogmatic and conservative types of Neoclassical theory (usually branded as Neoliberalism). Rational Expectations, infatuation with mathematization without considering its realism, belief in the perfect functioning of markets are its main features. Keynesianism – the previous Orthodoxy – became a Heterodoxy.

However, Neoliberalism – because of its unrealistic assumptions – has serious problems in instructing economic policy. Thus, even before the 2008 global capitalist crisis, a new Orthodoxy was created. This is the New Macroeconomic Consensus, which is a hybrid between a mild Neoliberalism and the conservative New Keynesianism. In a nutshell, the New Macroeconomic Consensus Orthodoxy is Keynesian in the short-run (accepting the existence of frictions and disequilibria and thus the efficacy of economic policy) and Neoliberal in the long-run (believing in Rational Expectations and self-equilibrating markets).

Nevertheless, the 2008 global capitalist crisis and its aftermath tore apart the credibility of this Orthodoxy and show once again the blatant inability of Economics to understand, forecast and confront economic crises.

There is ample evidence of this failure:

New Classicals have pronounced the end of economic cycles.

On a more practical level, the IMF declared in October 2007 that “in advanced economies, economic recessions had virtually disappeared in the post-war period”.

And then there was astonishment:

Nobel Prize winner and top Chicago neoclassical economist Eugene Fama declared: “We don’t know what causes recessions. I’m not a macroeconomist, so I don’t feel bad about that. We’ve never known. Debates go on to this day about what caused the Great Depression. Economics is not very good at explaining swings in economic activity… If I could have predicted the crisis, I would have. I don’t see it. I’d love to know more what causes business cycles.”

The failure of Economics (both in their Orthodox and Heterodox versions) to comprehend the economic crisis stems from their very methodology.

Table 3 summarises the way the main schools of economic thought approach the issue of economic crisis.

Table 3: Schools of economic thought

& the economic crisis

 

Essentially, Neoclassicism believes that capitalism is a perfect system (a Swiss clock) that never fails (and falls into crisis). Crises occur because some agent does not follow the normal market behaviour (hence it distorts the perfect functioning of the market). Capitalism is perfect and self-equilibrating.

 

Keynesianism believes that capitalism may fall into crisis (possibility theory of crisis) because its anarchic nature permits agents to function irregularly. However, a wise state supervision can either avoid crises or solve them. Capitalism is the best but it has to be saved from its own contradictions.

 

These approaches have failed not only in the last crisis but also in the previous ones. Their failure stems from their common foundations of Economics:

  • Understanding of the economy as a ‘play’ between individuals fails to grasp its social dimension and particularly the role of class struggle. It fails also to link economic and social and political processes.
  • Their belief that capitalism is the best socio-economic system leads to either ignore its fundamental deficiencies and contradictions or think that they can be rectified.
  • Their emphasis on the sphere of circulation ignores that the basis of the economy is the sphere of production. Thus, both Neoclassicism and Keynesianism ignore the critical role of profitability (the rate and the mass of profit) in the capitalist economy. Consequently, they cannot discern how a falling profitability leads to economic crisis.

 

Contrary to both of them, Political economy proposes a more realistic and credible understanding of the economy. The latter is not a ‘play’ between individuals but between antagonistic social classes. This class struggle within the economy has an inherent social nature and is necessarily linked with politics. Thus, Political Economy argues for a unified analysis of the economy, the society and politics.

 

Within Political Economy the Marxist Political Economy tradition offers a very realistic, sophisticated and coherent theory of crisis. It argues that capitalism is a system that passes from periods of booms to periods of bust. This is the normal functioning of the system as it exhibits cyclical fluctuations (economic cycles). Thus, crises are not an aberration but a normal characteristic. Moreover, state intervention can affect the eruption and the evolution of crises but it cannot extinguish their existence.

 

The main points of the Marxian theory of crisis can be summarized as follows:

 

  • Economic crises are part of the normal functioning of the capitalist system (that is, they have endogenous [systemic] causes).
  • This implies that crises are a usual and frequent event (that is they are a systematic phenomenon).
  • This does not imply that capitalism is in continuous crisis; neither than that it is destined to collapse due to simply an economic Rather, that capitalism passes from periods of boom (growth) to periods of bust (recession). This succession causes the fluctuations of economic activity (economic cycles) and is expressed both in the short-run economic cycles and in the long-run ones.
  • The systemic causes of crises derive from the dominant sphere of production (and are subsequently expressed in the others and not vice versus). They express the contradictions of capitalist accumulation and they operate even without the effects of class struggle (i.e. crises appear even without workers’ militancy).
  • Τhe basic determinant (systemic cause) of both the shοrt-run and the long-run economic fluctuations is the profit rate (and the linked to it mass of profits). The profit motive is the aim and, hence the determining factor in the operation of the capitalist system. Therefore, its fluctuations determine both the short-run and the long-run fluctuations of the accumulation of capital (grossly expressed in the fluctuations of investment and the GDP).
  • The basic rule that determines the movement of profit is the Law of the Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall (TRPF). It provides the central direction. It co-exists in continuous struggle with a number of counter-acting tendencies. Their interplay causes both the long-run fluctuations (alteration between ‘golden eras’ of strong growth and deep structural crises) and the short-run fluctuations (alterations between growth and slump).
  • Intra-capitalist competition takes place in view of rates of profit (each capitalist eyes his adversaries) and is crucially shaped by the firms’ technical structure. Therefore, technical change is the main determinant of competitive advantage. This crucial role attributed to technical change differentiates Marx from both A.Smith (he considered technical change but not in relation to the rate of profit) and D.Ricardo (he did not considered technical change in relation to the rate of profit)
  • The crisis is both an expression of the problems of the capitalist system and a rectification mechanism.
  • Problems: the very success of the system (its overaccumulation of capital) causes its failure (the inability to continue to accumulate). Its overextension leads it to surpass its social and technical limits (in the given period).
  • Rectification: a process of destruction and reconstruction. Part of the system must be destroyed (e.g. bankruptcies) in order to leave space for its

 

This analytical framework has greater explanatory power than that of Economics as the debate on the recent global crisis proved.

 

LA TESI-TRUFFA DELLA FINAZIARIZZAZIONE di Stavros Mavroudeas – SOLLEVAZIONE

LA TESI-TRUFFA DELLA FINAZIARIZZAZIONE di Stavros Mavroudeas

[ venerdì 30 agosto 2019 ]

Un articolo duramente polemico questo di Stavros Mavroudeas, professore di Politica Economica presso l’università Panteion di Atene. Conoscemmo Stavros in Grecia come intellettuale e militante attivo della sinistra no-euro ellenica.

Duramente polemico con tutti quegli economisti che parlando del capitalismo globale attuale, ritengono che la finanziarizzazione rappresenti un cambio strutturale del sistema capitalistico, un nuovo stadio del capitalismo. Stavros non solo non lo crede, ritiene che i «finanzialisti» gettino alle ortiche,  assieme all’analisi marxiana del modo capitalistico di produzione, la teoria del valore e della crisi di sovrapproduzione di Marx — finendo per recuperare la visione keynesiana e quella dei teorici marginalisti.
Negli anni, su SOLLEVAZIONE, abbiamo molto scritto sulla tematica.
Segnaliamo in particolare quattro brevi saggi: 
*  *  *

LE TEORIE FALLACI DEI FINANZIALISTI

di Stavros Mavroudeas

Di recente, mi sono imbattuto in un’intervista a Dick Bryan e Mike Rafferty per la rivista JACOBIN. L’intervista riguarda la loro analisi della finanziarizzazione.

L’intervista ha il titolo COME LA FINANZA CI SFRUTTA. Non è un caso che un libro sulla finanziarizzazione di Costas Lapavitsas abbia lo stesso titolo («Guadagnare senza produrre: come la finanza ci sfrutta tutti»). Questa somiglianza non è casuale ma denota elementi comuni più profondi delle diverse teorie della «finanziarizzazione». In particolare, come verrà mostrato di seguito, questo identico titolo mostra la loro comune partenza dalla teoria marxista dello sfruttamento del lavoro attraverso il lavoro verso una teoria dell’espropriazione attraverso l’usura nella distribuzione. Mostra anche la loro condivisa dissoluzione della classe lavoratrice in una massa interclassista di persone finanziariamente espropriate. Non sorprende che questa massa sia dominata dalla «classe media» (che è principalmente la piccola borghesia). 

Costas Lapavitsas

Ciò che rende interessante questa intervista è che rivela sia le contraddizioni (non dialettiche) sia gli errori empirici non solo di Bryan e Rafferty ma dei «finanzialisti» in generale.

Bryan e gli altri. si propongono: (a) di innovare l’analisi economica marxista concentrandosi sulla finanza e (b) di avzìanzare una politica di classe sulla base della loro analisi. In tutti e due i casi essi falliscono completamente.

Per quanto riguarda il loro primo punto, considerano la finanziarizzazione — e in particolare i derivati finanziari (che si presume siano le differentiae specificae della loro teoria della finanziarizzazione) – come una nuova era del capitalismo. Sostengono che i derivati costituiscono un’innovazione rivoluzionaria nel XXI. secolo simile a quella della società per azioni nel XIX. secolo. C’è una prima inesattezza qui. I derivati finanziari nel capitalismo sono piuttosto vecchi. Anche la loro recente proliferazione ed espansione risale agli anni ’90.

Ma i problemi analitici del loro approccio sono persino maggiori delle loro imprecisioni empiriche. Adottano: (a) una comprensione neoclassica del profitto (come ricompensa per l’assunzione di rischi) e (b) un’enfasi keynesiana sulla liquidità. Entrambi sono estranei e incompatibili con il marxismo. Ma, per di più, sono errati in quanto hanno travisato l’effettivo funzionamento dell’economia capitalista.

Una concezione neoclassica:

il rischio come fonte di plusvalore

L’essenza della loro analisi è che il rischio (incorporato e gestito tramite derivati) è una fonte di plusvalore. Il seguente passaggio è caratteristico:

«Sosteniamo che l’assorbimento del rischio è un contributo al surplus di capitale».

È noto che il neoclassicismo giustifica il profitto come la ricompensa all’assunzione di rischi (imprenditoriali). Il marxismo ha svolto una critica devastante a questo errore.

Un prestito keynesiano: la liquidità

Keynes e la tradizione keynesiana fondarono la Teoria della preferenza per la liquidità – Liquidity Preference Theory). Con ciò si sostiene che la domanda di moneta non deriva

Dick Bryan

dalla necessità di prendere in prestito denaro, ma dal desiderio di rimanere liquidi di fronte ai rischi futuri. Inutile dire che questa prospettiva può essere facilmente adattata alla concezione del rischio come fonte di profitti. Per questo motivo, la Teoria della preferenza per la liquidità è stata facilmente incorporata nella sintesi hicksiana di keynesismo e neoclassicismo e anche nelle successive teorie neoliberali (con modifiche significative).

Il marxismo ha una prospettiva totalmente diversa da quella. Il capitale (e non tutti, come sostengono sia i neoclassici che i keynesiani) ha la tendenza a cercare fluidità. Ciò significa che è in grado di spostarsi facilmente, in particolare in forma monetaria, da un’attività all’altra. Ma questa fluidità ha una marcia in più: il capitale vuole passare facilmente da un’attività all’altra perché cerca un profitto maggiore. E il profitto, per il marxismo, deriva dalla creazione di plusvalore (ovvero nuova ricchezza). Ciò costituisce una generica contraddizione del capitale. Da un lato, vuole passare liberamente da un’attività di produzione di plusvalore all’altra in cerca di rendimenti più elevati. D’altra parte, è obbligato a legarsi alla produzione di valore (e plusvalore) in specifiche attività produttive. La preferenza tra fluidità e «schiavitù produttiva» (productive bondage) dipende dalla redditività. In ogni caso, almeno una parte significativa del capitale, per produrre valore, è vincolato ala “schiavitù produttiva”. Naturalmente, le forme più fluide di capitale sono sostanzialmente quelle finanziarie.

Il tentativo di Bryan e gli altri di sposare rischio e liquidità con il marxismo è un fallimento totale. Il marxismo spiega il rischio e la liquidità con riferimento al valore e al profitto. Il marxismo ha un’analisi centrata sulla produzione mentre Bryan e C. adottano la prospettiva centrata sulla circolazione del neoclassicismo e del keynesismo. Vedi, ad esempio, il seguente passo:

«Quindi il capitale è diventato liquido, ma la forza lavoro rimane illiquida»

Per quanto riguarda il secondo scopo che Bryan e C. si prefiggono — cioè offrire una politica di classe per la «nuova era del capitalismo finanziario» — essi falliscono ancora di più. Primo, non hanno una teoria marxista delle classi. Le ultime parti della loro intervista sono indicative. Alla fine considerano le «classi» come categorie di reddito. E adottano il

Mike Rafferty

termine fuorviante Mainstream non di classe di «famiglie» come categoria analitica. Queste sono le tipiche concezioni borghesi. Inutile dire che il marxismo ha una teoria delle classi totalmente diversa. Nonostante le loro smentite («Nel marxismo c’è un’avversione nel definire la classe in termini di reddito, ma in realtà non lo stiamo facendo»), in verità è proprio quello che stanno facendo. Il seguente passaggio è anche caratteristico:

“Questo ruolo di generatore di surplus raggiunge in modo significativo la «classe media»

Inoltre, nonostante la loro retorica di classe, dissolvono il lavoro in capitale siccome sostengono che il lavoro è diventato una forma di capitale, poiché la riproduzione del lavoro è diventata, con la «finanziarizzazione della vita quotidiana” una fonte di trasferimento di plusvalore sotto forma di pagamenti di interessi Con questa

Rosa Luxemburg

formulazione, Bryan, Martin e Rafferty suggeriscono che esiste uno sfruttamento che non si limita al tempo di lavoro non retribuito ma si estende all’usura. Questo sfruttamento non riguarda solo il lavoro ma soprattutto le «classi medie». Il seguente passaggio ci dice infatti:

“Stiamo offrendo una prospettiva aggiuntiva sulla classe che produce surplus, estendendola al modo in cui le relazioni di classe vengono trasformate dal capitale. Abbiamo dimostrato che questo ruolo generatore di surplus raggiunge in modo significativo la «classe media».

Tipicamente, Bryan e C., nel loro studio empirico sull’Australia scoprono che non sono le persone a più basso reddito (una metafora per dire classe operaia) che sono soggette a questo nuovo meccanismo di sfruttamento capitalistico attraverso l’assorbimento del rischio da parte della famiglia ma le persone a medio reddito. Ancora una volta, il seguente passaggio afferma:

«Stiamo solo dicendo che se sei interessato al modo in cui l’assorbimento del rischio delle famiglie rende redditizio il capitale, e guardi dove viene assorbito questo rischio, scopri che non guadagni con le persone a reddito più basso perché esse sono escluse dalla finanza, perché non possono ottenere prestiti.
Non tutte le persone della classe operaia hanno un reddito basso, ciò che chiamiamo «classe operaia» rimane questionecontroversa, specialmente con l’ascesa di falsi contratti indipendenti (come la Gig economy). Stiamo offrendo una prospettiva aggiuntiva sulla classe che produce surplus, estendendola al modo in cui le relazioni di classe vengono trasformate dal capitale. Abbiamo dimostrato che questo ruolo generatore di surplus raggiunge in modo significativo la «classe media».

Quindi, alla fine e nonostante la loro dettagliata «politica di classe», la strampalata teoria del valore e le dichiarazioni operaiste — «il capitale che ruba lavoro spostando il rischio in senso distributivo»), Bryan e C.,. si finisce per riconoscere che è la «classe media» che viene sfruttata principalmente in questa nuova era del capitalismo finanziario. Bel finale per i nuovi guerrieri di classe !!!

Il programma politico che propongono è totalmente idiota. Il «mancato pagamento strategico delle fatture che sono state cartolarizzate» è una questione di esperti finanziari, ma non la questione centrale dei sindacati dei lavoratori. Il rifiuto di rimborsare l’affitto è stata una modalità tradizionale delle lotte dei lavoratori e non è una novità. Tuttavia, questo programma politico idiota ha una conseguenza veramente catastrofica per il movimento operaio. Rimuove il suo obiettivo principale di lottare nella sfera della produzione e del lavoro e lo traspone a problemi distributivi tra le classi. Inoltre, come Bryan e C.,. ammettono, questi problemi riguardano principalmente la «classe media». Pertanto, pongono essenzialmente la classe operaia al servizio delle richieste della classe media. Un bel consiglio ai sindacati che Bryan e C. cercano di guidare !!!

Il resto dell’intervista è pieno di errori minori.

Vedi ad esempio la dichiarazione idiota secondo cui «Dato che le famiglie stanno dove si trova la maggior parte della ricchezza». Ciò non è sostenibile nemmeno in termini neoclassici.

Un altro errore palese commettono Bryan e C.,. la comprensione del valore della forza lavoro. Il valore della forza lavoro non è «sostanzialmente sussistenza» in quanto

Stavros Mavroudeas

comprende anche una parte sociale. E, naturalmente, la loro tesi secondo cui «la sussistenza riguarda l’illiquidità familiare» è totalmente assurda.

Il nuovo riformismo della finanziarizzazione

Gli errori di Bryan e C. riguardo alla teoria della finanziarizzazione sono tipici della contemporanea razza del Nuovo Riformismo della Finanziarizzazione. Questo nuovo riformismo viene da molte parti. Il post-keynesismo coi suoi compagni di viaggio marxistoidi (Lapavitsas, Bryan ecc.) è una corrente. Un altra viene dal Rosa Luxemburg Institute con M. Heinrich ecc. D. Harvey è una specie a sé stante poiché prende da tutti le loro perle teoriche con sorprendente leggerezza e altrettanto sorprendente mancanza di coerenza economica.

Non sorprende che i temi comuni di questo nuovo riformismo della finanziarizzazione siano i seguenti.

In primo luogo, spostano l’analisi marxiana della centralità della produzione nel circuito di capitale verso la prospettiva circolazionista mainstream. La finanza diventa il luogo centrale di questo circolarismo.

In secondo luogo, deformano il concetto di sfruttamento capitalista spostandolo dalla estrazione nella sfera di produzione allo sfruttamento nella distribuzione. Questa mossa è stata fatta anche in passato dalle teorie marx-keynesiane (o piuttosto viceversa).

Tuttavia, questa volta c’è un nuovo elemento. Lo sfruttamento nella distribuzione viene condotto non solo attraverso meccanismi economici ma, in larga misura, attraverso la coercizione politica. Ciò è meno evidente in un’economia in quanto l’usura è il meccanismo di sfruttamento finanziario. Tuttavia, come Bryan e C. affermano in questa intervista, lo stato svolge un ruolo cruciale nella creazione di questo meccanismo. Questo meccanismo politico primario è più evidente nella fallace teoria del nuovo imperialismo.

Terzo, offuscano la loro analisi di classe dissolvendo la classe lavoratrice all’interno dei ceti medi. Ciò facendo, abbandonano la teoria marxista delle classi. Quindi, finiscono per sostituire la classe lavoratrice con una brodaglia sociale quasi post-moderna (che ricorda la «moltitudine» di Negri).

In quarto luogo, negano l’esistenza di una teoria marxiana della crisi (per non parlare di quella basata sulla caduta della redditività) e sostengono che possono esserci molti tipi di crisi (alcuni sostengono addirittura che ogni crisi è un caso speciale). Ma praticamente vedono ogni crisi moderna come una crisi finanziaria; quindi, d’accordo con i Mainstreamer.

In quinto luogo, in termini politici praticamente abbandonano il socialismo a favore di un vago anticapitalismo. Invece di essere indipendenti dall’organizzazione politica borghese della classe operaia, preferiscono i programmi populisti interclassisti che esprimono principalmente le esigenze della media e piccole borghesia. Il fine ultimo non è il socialismo ma un capitalismo umano riformato. 

** Traduzione a cura della Redazione

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