The Doctrine of Inevitability

Mark Jones Jones_M at
Tue Sep 1 04:01:27 PDT 1998

Dennis R Redmond wrote:
> it's likelier than not that the
> ultimate result of the Bubble Bust will be rockbottom interest rates
> worldwide -- just the thing to spark off another long boom#

If there is another long boom, it will only be after a substantial write-down of existing capital. Much of the investment mania of the past few years has created production lines in consumer goods, automobiles etc which are certain to be obsoleted before they pay back. But the disincentives to new investment will be very strong. So the coming slump is likely to be as protracted as the 1930s, which rearming not demand-stimulation put an end to. The whole technical-productive basis of contemporary capitalism is going to be written off and an entirely new technical/social division of labour/accumulation regime will have to be created or emerge, requiring a total overhauling/recomposition/ reskilling of the working class, as of the whole international framework, the parastatal and supranational institutuons: ie, deconstruction/reconstruction of both forces and relations of production. The role and functioning of US imperialism is bound to be a principal target of this interrogation by history of all that exists: but this is happening exactly at the moment when world capitalism needs the US to carry out its task of global policeman and hegemon with superhuman efficacy. So this is a gigantic contradiction and drain of the system's resources and capacity for self-renewal.

The first half of the 20th century was all about the transition from the Pax Britannica to the Pax Americana, and world capitalism only accomplished this with great difficulty, at the price of two world wars and via a wave of national liberation and anti-colonial struggles, not to speak of 1917. One is entitled to wonder how capitalism is going to manage matters this time, considering that (a) unless Martian imperialism is about to be invoked, there is no obvious successor to US hegemony the way there was to British hegemony and (b) the risks inherent in war-fighting now totally outweigh any presumed benefits war has as a way of clearing the decks.

One more thing: if you read Lenin's 1916 'Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism' a striking thing is his depiction of contemporary world capitalism as coal-fired, steam powered, steel-working, railway-driven. That was the British variant of world capitalism. To supersede it required more than money, it needed technological renewal and the refounding of accumulation under a new regime.

What really fuelled the US drive to supremacy was the availability of an entirely new technical/social basis which had *already been nurtured* in the womb of the system: Taylorism, Fordism, petrochemicals, electronics, informatics, autombiles. This was the material basis of the very powerful upswing which actually was still only barely able to ensure the survival of world capitalism; and the co- guarantor of global production relations which US-led imperialism needed was the so-called socialist world, a fact which testifies to the parasitism of late imperialism.

Where is the wave of the future being harboured in today's capitalism? Anwar Shaikh and Manuel Castells are I suppose the principal leftish spokespersons for the cybernetted, info-driven virtualised, dematerialised wave of 21st C capitalism. Their schemas are highly quiestionable IMHO. And even if you add the privatisation of the DNA commons into the mix, I still don't quite see where the huge synergies are, where is the cheap, versatile energy source to replace hydrocarbons, where are the new production technologies? Nanotechnology? Off-world exploration?

I wonder.

Mark --

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