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There's another frustrating input in the Smith-Harvey debate over at the
Review of African Political Economy website: "Dissolving Empire: David
Harvey, John Smith, and the Migrant"
"Does this mean that China in economic, cultural, social, or military
terms has reached the status of an imperialist power?," asks Adam Mayer,
who studies Marxism in Nigeria.
Wrong question, hence wrong formulation of the terrain of debate, and
I think the question should be, instead, "aren't China and other BRICS
countries slotting into global imperialism as *subimperial* allies, in
relation to the accumulation of capital, the super-exploitation of
labour, species-threatening ecological destruction and global
The answer is "Yes!" And there, in the next post, I argue, the problem
is immense. (My post ended up drawling on for 8300 words so if anyone
wants it, let me know. It'll be online next Monday.)
On 2018/04/02 09:26 PM, Patrick Bond via Marxism wrote:
On 2018/04/02 07:32 PM, Andrew Pollack via Marxism wrote:
One particularly scary aspect of Harvey's argument is, as the quote
shows, that he believes there needs to be different theories and
different strategies for different sectors and movements. Or if not
then, at least implicitly, an insistence on no coherent theory.
This is particularly upsetting given the valiant efforts of some
and activists to unite theoretically production with social reproduction
and thus with struggles against oppression linked in a coherent way with
the struggle against exploitation.
I'm very biased, yeah, but really Andy, it's the opposite: his latest
circulation model (more so than his 1985 three-circuits-of-capital) is
a coherent, holistic approach to capitalism that builds in social
reproduction (especially gendered roles) and ecological 'free gifts of
nature' in a way that's ordinarily left out from Marxist theorizing.
Have a look at that .docx file or check the diagram out directly at
In the same way as you, I think comrade Michael is doing a disservice
here, with his primitive either/or formulation (because obviously
class struggle is waged and 'decided' in production, realisation and
distribution circuitries, all the time):
"I conclude from DH’s short paper that he aims to establish an
argument that class struggle is no longer centred or decided between
labour and capital at the point of production of surplus value.
Instead in ‘modern’ capitalism, it is to be found in other places in
his ‘circuit of capital’ that he presents in latest book and in
various presentations globally. For DH, it is in the point of
realisation (ie over rents, mortgages, price gouging by pharma firms
etc) or in distribution (over taxes, public services etc) that the
‘hotspots’’ of class struggle are now centred. The class struggle in
production is now less important (even non-existent)."
Cracks like those last five words are distractions.
But likewise, I don't think David was particularly fair to Michael in
this remark - "Devaluation rarely appears in Roberts’ accounts" -
because after all, the blog is entitled "The next recession" and
Michael regularly makes his predictions about how crises will play out
in the context of his (rather monological) falling-rate-of-profit
causality. But David's absolutely right to call on all Marxists to pay
more attention to the way this vast batch of overaccumulated capital
that regrouped in untenable ways since 2008 is going to come crashing
down: "we would need to construct a strong theory of devaluation to
account for what happens in the market place."
(Occupy movement strategists worked a rather esoteric theory up to the
level of public consciousness, but it took three years after the major
crisis inflection point. We surely have to do better, and do it
faster, in response to the next melt?)
Anyhow, there is a bit too much of this kind of simplification going
on. Later this week I'll have a comment posted at the Review of
African Political Economy website where the Smith-Harvey debate on how
to characterize imperialism has been raging; it too would be improved
(in my view) by more generosity between leading intellectual comrades.
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