Class History and Class Practices in the Periphery of Capitalism: Volume 34

Cover of Class History and Class Practices in the Periphery of Capitalism
Subject:

Table of contents

(11 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-xiv
Content available

Part I Peripheral Europe and Post-hegemonic Regionalism

Abstract

While working on the final draft of Das Kapital Volume I, Marx discovered that the assumption that he had previously held: as it circulated capital extended its sphere of operation and at the same time absorbed earlier forms of economic organization was not supported by empirical evidence. From 1869 he began to study how in fact capital began to circulate in Russia, a country which had begun to create a capitalist economy after the liberation of the peasantry in 1861. Marx was aided in this project by Nikolai Danielson, who sent him materials on the Russian economy and who himself made a study of contemporary trends in Russian economic development. Marx contributed to the article Danielson published in 1880 on this subject. One of the works Marx acquired was the book by Vorontsov, who concurred with Danielson that only some features of capitalism were present in the Russian economy and that peasants were dispossessed without being re-deployed in capitalist enterprises. Marx died without incorporating his Russian material into the second volume of Das Kapital. Engels failed to see any problem with the circulation of capital and published the manuscripts as he found them, dispersing Marx’s Russian materials. Unlike Danielson, Engels was convinced that Russia’s economic development did not differ in any way from that of Western Europe, a conviction shared by Plekhanov and Lenin, who classed Danielson and Vorontsov as “narodniki.” Lenin’s book The Development of Capitalism in Russia is a polemic against Danielson and Vorontsov, but does not directly address the points they made.

Abstract

This chapter explores the origins, development, and organization of the main Portuguese capitalist groups throughout the fascist dictatorship, the Carnation Revolution, and the neoliberal European integration until the onset of the financial crisis of 2008. The Portuguese experience confirms that, far from the usual neoliberal view that presents the process of accumulation and concentration of capital as the result of fair market mechanisms, large capitalist groups emerge as a combination of three factors: privileged access to finance, State protection, and family inheritance. Furthermore, it is argued that, if capital is considered as embodiment of power relations and not as factor of production, the link between concentration/accumulation of capital and economic growth is appropriately lost. Concentration strategies can have a detrimental effect on the economy. In Portugal, the dominance of these large economic groups contributed to the development of a rentist economic structure that was contrary to the goals of productive and economic development.

Abstract

What is the historical, normative and institutional setting that helps leading Latin American and Eurasian countries to implement a post-hegemonic agenda and contribute to the multipolarization of global politics? Post-hegemony describes a situation in which the unipolar organization of the world political economy is challenged by a plurality of alternative projects, without however being entirely replaced by another system. Emblematic of post-hegemonic initiatives is the rise of the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa countries who have taken the lead in creating alternative institutions that constrain US global hegemony, while however failing to spearhead a coherent, uniform and confrontational opposition movement. Regarding post-hegemonic regionalism, Latin American regionalism – as represented by Bolivarian Alliance for Our America (ALBA) – is characterized by a social justice-driven agenda that refutes US neoliberal hegemony, whereas the peculiarity of Eurasian regionalism – as represented by Shanghai Cooperation Organization – lies in its security-oriented focus that confronts US interventionism and international terrorism. An underlying commonality of both Latin American and Eurasian experiences is that they constitute a multi-front struggle centered on four main areas: culture, economy, financial cooperation, and regional defense. They both hinge on a strong normative framework and firm commitment in the regionalization of an endogenous culture, educational cooperation, and defense system. They all accord primary importance to social, financial, and infrastructural development. Overall, these experiences suffer from unresolved tensions between national sovereignty and supranationalism alongside the predominance of charismatic leaders inhibiting institutionalization. The limitations and contradictions of post-hegemonic transformations also include Latin America’s inability to resolve the question of extractivism, Eurasia’s neglect of the question of democratic participation, and both regionalism’s failure to offer a coherent alternative model of economic development to US hegemonism.

Part II Africa and Latin America

Abstract

Neoliberalism’s global scale crisis has been most acute in Africa, in terms of economic welfare, human suffering, ecological damage, and policy sovereignty. Social opposition to the first rounds of dissent was quelled during the 1980s, and export-led growth strategies finally appeared to pay off when, during 2002–2011, commodity prices soared and “Africa Rising” became the watchword. However, as commodity prices plateaued during 2011–2014 and then crashed, authoritarianism has revived. The reimposition of neoliberal policies, a new round of unrepayable foreign debt (in part associated with Chinese-funded infrastructure), and renewed austerity are all bearing down. From internal elite circuits, this threatens to unleash a well-known combination of neoliberalism, neopatrimonialism, and repression by authoritarian leaders. New rounds of protests, often arising as a direct result of these economic catalysts, were witnessed in some of the most famous sites of struggle such as Tunisia and Egypt in 2011, Nigeria in 2012, and South Africa at various points in recent years. Ongoing strife has also brought intense pressure on governing regimes in Algeria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal, Sudan, Togo, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, leading to major political reforms and even changes in regimes. This chapter examines the dynamics of this process to expose the neoliberal foundations of rising authoritarianism accompanied by repression – and resistance – across the African landscape.

Abstract

This chapter presents a brief description of the development of capitalism in Argentina, focusing on the situation of the working class and its practices. It analyzes the relationship between the main directions of capitalist development and the means of struggle used by the working class for more than a hundred years. It describes the predominant tendencies (in breadth and depth) of the development of capitalism in Argentina and the consequent main direction of the movement of the population (attraction or repulsion) in relation to capitalist relations. From the nineteenth century to the mid-seventies of the twentieth century, capitalism developed mainly in breadth, incorporating population, general strikes became a frequent practice and workers achieved a place in the institutional system. In the last quarter of the twentieth century, capitalist developed mainly in depth and, consequently, repulsion of population became dominant, increasing unemployment and poverty. Workers’ organizations lost some of their strength, but new organizations of the unemployed and the poor emerged, and roadblocks extended as an instrument of struggle.

Abstract

Commenting on the Mexican Revolution in 1938, Trotsky argued that the country might achieve “national independence,” understood as a break with dependency relations. Whether this might occur depended – Trotsky continued – on “international factors.” Though not engaging with Mexico, Antonio Gramsci made a similar theoretical point. It is hence from this perspective that this chapter analyses the Mexican Revolution, asking whether it led to a break in dependency relations and the attainment of “national independence” or what I refer to as “relative geopolitical autonomy.” Presenting a framework of analysis largely based on the work of Gramsci that highlights its continuity with the thought of Marx, the chapter will answer negatively to this question. The chapter starts from the idea that Porfirio Díaz’s regime was unable to adapt the economic structure (still pre-capitalist) to the complex superstructures (capitalist), that is, to realize an historic bloc. It would be this job that the emergent Mexican bourgeoisie sought to finish. However, the situation is complicated by the powerful emergence of social movements from below, constituted largely by landless peasants, and to a lesser extent, the industrial proletariat. I will therefore argue that the revolution has been both “passive” and “bounded.” The term passive revolution will be applied to the last phase of the revolution as the emerging bourgeoisie successfully coopted the demands of the popular masses thereby “passivizing” them. But crucially, the revolution was also “bounded” because international factors, and especially US influence, played a conditioning role throughout the revolutionary process. At the same time, it would be the very “passive” nature of the revolution that would contribute to the reproduction of relations of dependency. Hence the chapter concludes that the period Trotsky commented upon (the Cárdenas period) is the highest level of “independence” Mexico achieved, only to decrease again over the years.

Abstract

This chapter reflects upon the main reasons for the universal, deep, and long-lasting impact of the Mexican neozapatista movement during the 25 years of its public life, recuperating not only the immediate reasons but the reasons linked with process in the middle and in the long term. We argue that the neozapatista movement changed the correlation des forces in Mexico in 1994, opening the transition of all indigenous Latin American movements to pass from a defensive and marginal position, to a new offensive and protagonic position. In the general context after 1989 and the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Mexican neozapatism restores hope in social protest and social fight of all the anticapitalistic and antisystemic movements all over the world. With the above basis, it is possible to understand that this Mexican neozapatism was able to define the general agenda of the main demands and targets that were vindicated for the antisystemic movements during the last 25 years, including all the movements of 2011, such as the Spanish Indignados, or the so-called Arab Spring, or Occupy Wall Street, or even the current French movement of the Gilets Jeaunes, among many others. It explains partially the real function of a kind of “avant-garde” of the antisystemic movements all over the world, playing by the Mexican neozapatismo in the last five lusters and even today.

Part III Archive

Abstract

This chapter is an introduction to the English version of Karl Kautsky’s essay “Theories of Crises,” which in turn is a review of Michael von Tugan-Baranowsky, Studien zur Theorie und Geschichte der Handelskrisen in England (Studies on the Theory and History of Commercial Crises in England), published in 1901. The chapter contextualizes Kautsky’s essay in the framework of the ongoing revisionist controversy within the Social Democratic Party of Germany and the Second International, and well as of the debate between Marxists and Populists in Russia.

Abstract

This is the first English version of Karl Kautsky’s essay “Theories of Crises,” originally published in 1902 in Die neue Zeit, the theoretical organ of the Social Democratic Party of Germany. Kautsky’s essay was a review of Michael von Tugan-Baranowsky, Studien zur Theorie und Geschichte der Handelskrisen in England (Studies on the Theory and History of Commercial Crises in England), published in 1901. Kautsky’s review of Tugan-Baranovsky’s book is divided into five sections: (1) “Introductory Remarks”; (2) “The Decreasing Tendency of the Rate of Profit”; (3) The Explanation of Crises by Underconsumption; (4) Tugan-Baranovsky’s Theory of Crises; and (5) The Changes in the Character of Crises. We have translated in full the Sections 3 to 5.

Index

Pages 225-236
Content available
Cover of Class History and Class Practices in the Periphery of Capitalism
DOI
10.1108/S0161-7230201934
Publication date
2019-09-03
Book series
Research in Political Economy
Editor
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78973-592-5
eISBN
978-1-78973-591-8
Book series ISSN
0161-7230