World Bank memos

Enzo Michelangeli em at
Tue Dec 8 17:48:10 PST 1998

-----Original Message----- From: Henry C.k. Liu <hliu at> Date: Tuesday, December 08, 1998 11:48 PM

> Enzo:
> Citing the past does not say much about the future.

As a predictor for the future, the past usually is more reliable than wishful thinking...

> No one disputes that
> capitalism has made contribution to human civilization, although a debate
> evaluate the balance between positive and negative impacts is still open.
> acknowledged capitalism as a necessary phase in economic history, just as
> theocracy and monarchy once did.

This point is often glossed over. Many current soi-disant Marxists (especially the so-called -aarghh- eco-Marxist breed) claim that capitalism has represented a net loss to the humankind. Marx never said anything like that; he saw the proletarian revolution as the "next step" of an otherwise positive process that was reaching a limit in its present phase.

> The question is whether capitalism has a future.
> There are indisputable data to support the conclusion that in order for
> capitalism to continue, it needs either a new imperialism or recurring
> depressions or recurring wars, none of which represents a price the
majority of
> the world's population seem prepare to pay.

Wars have always been there, well before capitalism, and most of the recent ones have absolutely nothing to do with it. Actually, in the present phase where both markets and production facilities are distributed world-wide, wars represent a huge headache for transnational capitalism. As for depressions, before capitalism not only nowadays' rich, but also poor countries were much more depressed than they are now.

> Modern capitalism was saved not by New Deal progressive measures, but by
> After the War, the Cold War's militarization of the peace kept capitalism
> with recurring but relatively mild recessions.

WWII and Cold War filled the gap left by the idiocy of the governments, that could have timely eased monetary policy and stimulated the economy for peaceful purposes instead of wasting money producing weapons. In fact, the stupid Vietnam War, far from saving anything, was one of the major causes of the worldwide inflation of the seventies.

> Since the end of the Cold War,
> capitalism has been seeking to launch a new economic imperialistic regime.
> regime is given the benign name: "globalization" which essentially
describes the
> globalization from the West on behalf of its moneyed class, at the expense
> the rest of the world. Of course, as with its earlier version of
> colonialism, the new economic imperialism leaves some room for elevating
> absolute living standards of the oppressed, so that its apologists can
> misleading arguments of its merit, while the gap between rich and poor
> to widen as with the gap between the powerful and the oppressed

Without foreign investment, the third world countries would be much, much poorer than they are now; and some of them (those who actively embraced capitalism) are much better off, with per-capita GDP's comparable to the West. Instead, which splendid record do we have of socialist achievements and internationalist solidariety? URSS impoverished itself and Eastern Europe, flooded Africa with weapons, made a mess in Afghanistan and could not even manage to make of Cuba anything better than a client state dependent on handouts for its survival. China, before waking up to the reality with Deng, experienced famine through the disastrous "Great Leap Forward" and the Cultural Revolution; internationally it didn't do much, except fighting a war against Vietnam.

> Quoting the Communist Manifesto in praise of capitalism is the height of
> sophistry. I can also selectively quote from the Bible out of context to
> the devil, except fortunately for you I don't own a Bible.

It would be quite useless, as I'm not a believer. Especially in apocalyptic cults :-)

Cheers --


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