2 posts / 0 new
Last post
Printer-friendly versionSend by email

The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: Introduction. The discussion was initiated by altacomposicionorganica.
Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!

altacomposicionorganica (not verified)
"Capitalism is a world

"Capitalism is a world economic system which will only cease to influence the revolutionary world (that is to be) once it has been expunged from most of the world's countries"

This mate comment is a little problematic. For various reasons:

(i) "Capitalism" is a term rarely used by Marx himself

(ii) Eventhough he wasn't systematic about it, Marx tended to speak of the "capitalist mode of production" or "capitalist regime of production"

(iii) When fefering to capitalism, Marx rarely attaches de word "system". When he does speak of "system", he does this unsistematicaly and in most cases speaks of the "credit system", the "speculation system", etc.

(iv) Someone who does speak of "capitalism" as a "world system" is Wallerstein. The problem is that his theory is wrong in various crucial issues:

a) He defines capitalism mainly through circulation and not production

b) His crisis theory, based as it is on Luxemburg, doesnt really get the real law of motion inherent in the cmp (whic is based on the LTRPF)

c) His "dependency" inheritance is wrong (e.g. metropolitan states, as nations, don't really exploit backward states; the working class in the centers hasn't really been bought by surpluses extracted from the periphery; etc)

(v) To talk about the capitalist "system" isn't realy helpfull in the class struggle. Mainly because the word system echoes Parsons and Luhmanns functionalism, and the view of the "totality" of these authors isnt based on "contradiction". For Luhmann and Parsons the "system" couldn't be based on a fundamental contradiction. This is why, at least in the case of Parsons, dynamics and change always come from the "exterior" (the dynamic of the totality is not "inmanent"). For us marxists, instead, the "totality" is based on a fundamental contradiction (capital/wage labour), and change is inmanent (the working class doesnt come form the exterior of the totality)

(vi) To speak of a world "economic" system is problematic. For various reasons:

a) ¿Is it that only the "economy" has a world status? ¿What happens to politics and ideology?

b) The determinant element of "capitalism" isnt the "economy", on the contrary, is "production". When you speak of the world "economic" system, you could be arguing that is "circulation" that is determinant (and thus adopt a keynesian view) 

(vii) For all these reasons, I think we must speak of the "capitalist mode of production" (that indeed has a worldly dimension):

a) The mode of production is a concept that designates a "totality" (base + superstructure) -not only the economy

b) We speak of a mode of "production", because our totality is determined by "production"

(viii) Before 1990, capitalism wasnt present in the "communist world". Michael Roberts, Andrew Kliman, Tony Cliff, Raya Dunayevskaya and Paresh Chattopadhyay are wrong. The law of value wasnt present in the ussr. That society didnt move by the LTRPF (just look at its structural crisis: there was only one, protracted crisis). This doesnt mean that the ussr was "socialist" or in a "transition to socialism" (or communism). It was a "class society" distinct form capitalism -it what a "class society" because decisions about "what" to produce, "how much", "how" and "for whom", werent colective rights of the workers-. A class society in which, nevertheless,  workers had more benefits regarding the labour sphere (full employement, right to bargain, less structural assimetry between management and workers, etc), than they do in capitalism. In the ussr there werent particular capitals: the management of one unit of production couldn't move its capital to another sphere when the profit wasnt sufficient...

Conclusion: most elements that benefited workers in the ussr where product of a proletarian revolution (that is what  it really was). You can praise those elements (colective property, attempts to plan the economy, etc); although, the main question for communists to answer is: in which mode of production did you have (at that time) most chances to break away with class society? ¿In western capitalism or in soviet exploitative mode? ¿In which especific regions -centre, periphery, etc- of either mode? ¿In which fase of either mode? 

As you see, communists should answer "where the workers struggle has more chances", precisely to focus our efforts there, and not to support any existing model of society (there isnt a "market of societies" in which you are obliged to choose)