Imperialism and Transitions to Socialism: Volume 36

Cover of Imperialism and Transitions to Socialism
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Table of contents

(15 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-xix
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Part I: Theoretical Elements

Abstract

To understand the logic that pushes capitalism to imperialism requires us to question one of the fundamental categories of capital: abstract labor. Often ignored by the Marxist tradition, abstract labor is, however, by Marx’s own admission, one of its greatest discoveries. However, the different interpretations that have marked out the twentieth century have, most of the time, failed to grasp the profound originality of this concept. However, a correct understanding of abstract labor makes it possible to understand the dynamics and contradictions of capital and what distinguishes it from other forms of social organization. By showing that abstract labor is much more than a neutral economic category and that it is the general social mediator, we question the category of labor within capitalist society. It then becomes possible to identify the dynamics and contradictions of capital and why imperialism is necessary to it.

Abstract

It is widely believed that, during the neoliberal era, labor has become weaker and capital has become stronger. This chapter argues the opposite is true. Only if class struggle is reduced to the economic struggle to improve our position within capitalism – as opposed to the political struggle to overthrow it – can workers’ loss of agency be considered a fact. In every other respect, this belief is false. When uprisings against corrupt plutocracies, worldwide mobilizations sparked by George Floyd’s murder, youth rebellions against the capitalist destruction of nature, struggles of millions of women for reproductive rights are seen for what they are – expressions of class struggle – it becomes clear that transition to socialism is not only necessary, it is also possible.

Abstract

This chapter investigates Marx’s Capital as a theoretical resource for analyzing both the form and content of the modern corporation. We assess two recent contributions critiquing the corporation. The chapter argues that Marx advanced from his initial ambivalent comments on the form of the joint stock company and the credit system to a more categorical critique. We assess Marx’s concepts of the concentration and centralization of capital, fictitious capital and rent in analyzing the corporation. Next, we note Engels important contribution filling in from the early limited liability company to monopoly capital and modern imperialism. The chapter ends with two examples of how these concepts apply in concrete analysis. The work is highly preliminary and is intended to open a more theoretically informed approach to analysis and critique of the multinational corporation.

Abstract

In recent decades, capitalist globalization has entailed a new international division of labor with the relocation of some stages of manufacturing production from the Center to the Periphery through the Global value chains (GVCs). This new pattern of global production is marked by wide income disparities between the different regions of the world economy, accentuated by value transfers hidden within both traditional and GVCs international trade. The chapter presents a theoretical model based on a Marxian approach for the accounting of unequal exchange in international trade in value-added, resulting from the decoupling of value-produced and value-captured inside and outside GVCs. The empirical results show the ongoing relevance of unequal exchange in contemporary capitalism as one of the fundamental causes of disparities in income and economic development among the countries of the global economy.

Abstract

The concept of productive/unproductive work is relevant for better understanding the current capitalist economy. As the contradiction between production and the appropriation of surplus value by financial capital becomes more pronounced as it expands, it exerts intense pressure on the appropriation and redistribution of the surplus value. It puts different factions of capital into growing conflict with each other and defines the boundaries of the current geopolitical map of power. The maximization of profits in the productive sector carries on until the possibilities of greater profits are exhausted and the rationale of the capitalist system of exploitation becomes virtually meaningless. The current level of technology with Artificial Intelligence eliminates at the same time any technical impediment to planning an economy. It also has the potential to create the objective conditions for making the move to the most democratic forms of participation in planning.

Abstract

This study first calculates a profit rate for China’s economy over the period 1952–2014; the rate shows a downward trend in the long term but also exhibits cyclical fluctuations. Then, structural vector autoregressive models are used to examine the Chinese economic structure and, thanks to impulse response functions, the role of the profit rate in investment, capital accumulation, and GDP growth rates. Then, based on a priori constraints relative to this structure, the study tests whether these assumptions are verified over the period studied in the context of the transformations of China. The impulse response functions are further examined by using Bayesian analysis. Finally, the authors conclude that the period from 1952 to 2014 should be divided into several sub-periods with distinct structural characteristics.

Part II: Practical Experiences

Abstract

Since the Land Revolution of 1949, China has continuously practiced collective ownership of land resources and local governance at the village and township levels. This chapter argues that based on Chinese experiences, a socialist transformation is largely dependent on socialization of land resources, with the majority having access to land, food, and shelter, as well as on community organization of livelihood. This is not only the legacy of land revolution but also the foundation of Chinese society, which acts as social stabilizer. China in the past 70 years has completed primitive capital accumulation and proceeded to industrial expansion and financial adjustments. Rural China has played an important role in absorbing the shocks of cyclical economic crises induced by external and domestic factors. China adopts policies of land distribution in favor of the small peasantry and promises to defend the agrarian sector – comprising three irreducible dimensions: peasants, rural society, and agriculture, together known as Sannong, as well as the current policy of rural vitalization – against the background of macroeconomic crises, particularly amid the current economic downturn and health crises, that is, United States–China trade war, the crisis of globalization, New Cold War, and the COVID-19 pandemic. The experiences of Zhoujiazhuang Commune and Puhan Rural Community will be provided as examples to show that the bedrock of maintaining socialist transformation is the resilience of small peasantry and rural communities.

Abstract

In this chapter, the author relates the historical trajectory of the Vietnamese revolution and its relentless willingness to build socialism despite external aggressions, first colonialist (France), then fascist (Japan), and finally imperialist (United States). The author traces the analysis back to the August (1945) revolution and the founding of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. The author continues with the 30 years of wars for national independency, then with the two very difficult decades after the wars. The author studies the so-called “Doi Moi” (renewal) period and the economic advances it allowed, then the political aspects of the Vietnamese socialist system, before exposing the questions of international relations.

Abstract

The author provides us here with a rare and original testimony about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, from the trips he was able to make there and the many contacts he had there. He focuses the readers’ attention more particularly on his interpretation of Juche’s thinking, the principles of which contribute to find the development strategy of this country. The emphasis is primarily on the imperative of autonomy for the economy and the society.

Abstract

The function of imperialism in the world economic system is to transfer wealth produced by the workers of the Periphery to the capitalists in the Core. From this, it follows that for all countries in the Periphery, (1) imperialism impedes their economic and social development and (2) imperialism will intervene to reduce any limitations on its desired process of exploitation. These explain the nature of the Core’s relation with the majority of the countries of the Periphery, which are capitalist. By officially deciding in 1961 to pursue a non-capitalist path of development, Cuba (1) completely ended the ability of the Core to exploit its workers and (2) (much more problematic for the Core) threatened to set an example other countries might reproduce. The second part of this chapter briefly reviews the often-documented aggression by the Core against Cuba, and the third part reflects on the less-reflected-on issue of the effect of that aggression on Cuba’s project to build socialism.

Abstract

This chapter studies the evolution of the relationships between the US imperialism and Venezuela in the last 100 years. The main purpose is to insert the present form of these links in their historical perspective. The first section is about the implications of Venezuela’s integration into the world economy through oil exports. The second one discusses the effects on the Venezuelan economy of the post-WWII economic expansion. The third and fourth sections deal with the consequences of the world economy changes since the 1980s on Venezuelan society. The last three sections explain the contradictions generated by the development of the Chavista transition project within the local ruling classes and with the US imperialism itself.

Abstract

This chapter deals with the Citizens’ Revolution in Ecuador facing US imperialism. It is divided into five parts. Firstly, the author gives some historical elements on the structure and dynamics of the Ecuadorian economy in the short medium and long term. Secondly, the author presents the project of transition to socialism of the Citizens’ Revolution as it occurred at the normative level and in public policies. The third part focuses especially on the economic dimension of this project and offers an overall critic of it. The fourth part provides a general explanation on the dynamics of the progressive cycle in Ecuador. Eventually the fifth part emphasizes the need to perform much more radical breaks to make a process of transition to socialism viable in this country.

Abstract

This chapter analyzes events leading to the collapse of President Dilma Rousseff’s parliamentary base that are essential for understanding the impeachment process in 2016. First, it assesses structural factors shaping the Brazilian political system and the adaptation strategy of Lula da Silva’s government in its relationship with the National Congress. Next, it analyzes the changing relationship between Dilma Rousseff’s government and Congress, especially the House of Representatives, as the main locus for presidential impeachment actions.

Index

Pages 237-245
Content available
Cover of Imperialism and Transitions to Socialism
DOI
10.1108/S0161-7230202136
Publication date
2021-09-30
Book series
Research in Political Economy
Editor
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-80043-705-0
eISBN
978-1-80043-704-3
Book series ISSN
0161-7230