"Economic Nationalism"?

rc-am rcollins at netlink.com.au
Tue Jan 4 22:45:57 PST 2000

Sam, this is a ramble, not always in response to what you wrote, but because this is my last post on this thread.

Sam wrote:

> kind of vague and ambigious. Democracy? The state? What do you mean?

Over and beyond formal definitions which we will argue about endlessly, a substantive index of democracy would be the ability of a population to restrict, if not circumvent, the "ability to reign in, ignore and/or crush working class demands", would it not? That's what I wrote in this instance. Is that too vague? Probably, but not ambiguous.

You might not have noticed that I defined the state in terms of its scope of action, perhaps a post-1930 definition, and indeed one that I would think is redundant in some important senses but, still, a definition that's implicitly referenced in discussions of economic policy such as that being discussed in this thread: ie., Those institutions associated with the reproduction of the social relationships that, within the immediate processes of production, are neither guranteed nor reproducible. I did mention brunhoff, who says as much, or maybe you missed this. I also mentioned the genealogy of the nation-state in european absolutism, that it arose as a way of enclosing and putting down the peasant revolts and providing the basis for the formation of a disciplined proletariat -- a task it continues to do, though in some quite different ways. Concentration camps, which you mentioned later here, had a precise historical model through which the connection was made between life and sovereignty, and in the case of nazi germany in particular, labour.

>Capitalist state? Worker's state?

Is this a distinction that has to do with personnel or with the form and character of the state? If the latter, what's the significant difference between the two?

> Marx viewed all states as dictatorships of one class over another.

I think his meagre writings on the state are a little more complicated than this, including that of the state as that which gives political and economic effect to -- forms -- capitalists as a class vis-a-vis workers, which suggests that the state is more than a neutral instrument. But it's not exactly that easy to reconstruct anything amounting to a theory of the state, let alone an analysis of the state form today going by marx's writings.

>Strong state does not necessarily mean a capitalist state or a
>repressive state or even a nationalistic one.

No, I guess a state doesn't have to be national. The wto is not national, but it is a crypto-state in a limping kind of way alongside the imf, wb and the un and its agencies. But this thread has been discussing economic nationalism, right? Whose mechanisms for all intents and purposes are _nation_ states. As for the issue of whether a state has to be capitalist, it seems to me that here you might be skipping lenin's _state and revolution_ or wherever it is exactly that he remarks on the need to smash the state. It would seem that lenin here at least makes a distinction between personnel and form. As for repressive, i'm never sure where it's possible to draw the line between repressive and ideological. Are schools repressive or ideological or both, for instance?

> The idea is that the worker's movement or the revolutionary movement
>itself becomes the state

do you mean trotsky's dual power thesis? Please elaborate. Also, can you explain to me how a state might be able to restrict rights to freedom of speech, say, to those it deems revolutionary, without repeating the murderous restrictions imposed on communists who have been declared counter-revolutionaries? Or maybe i'm just asking whether or not you'll have me shot...

> I don't like nationalism at all in any form, expecially in imperialist
>countries where it is usually a rationalization for something else i.e.
>Placing the blame for domestic problems on foreigners or diffusing
>domestic class struggle by appeal to some mythical cross class "we".

And, this is exactly what has been happening in indonesia, china (though with respect to 'internal migrants' as well), malaysia, south africa, argentina... My question is not whether a country can resist imperialism -- and I might go further and suggest that no country can do so alone -- but whether the key to this resistance is a) nationalism and b) strong border controls, including those regarding migration.

But I do want to ask you sam whether you think it's possible for a movement to take the place of the state (in the way you mentioned) and not amount to the kinds of decompositions and demobilisations of that movement being experienced in south africa. Maybe that's also a question for patrick and russel too. It undoubtedly is the case in east timor -- and it didn't take very long at all. Would the palestinian authority also count as an instance? Are these not leftist groupings of some description taking state power? Are the problems here, assuming you agree there are problems, a question of those groupings being insufficiently leftist?

More specifically, isn't the formula of deciding whether or not a particular nationalism is progressive or not based on whether it is constituted as anti-us imperialism somewhat limited and perhaps even increasingly redundant as a sure sign of things, ie., As an index of the connection between nationalism and anti-capitalism? What does the place of the euro suggest for this (see below)? Is french anti-us sentiment progressive? Is indonesian anti-us sentiment progressive in light of the centrality of japanese capital to that economy? Is mahathir's anti-western conspiracism progressive? Isn't this why much of the leninist left split into two camps thinking they had to make a decision over which nationalism was more progressive, into an empty cold war lenininism, ot1h, and a celebratory post-cold war leninism otoh? Is it, as doug has noted, lenin or kautsky we might turn to for a more accurate depiction of present-day international arrangements? Endless questions, but it seems they're all connected to a restructuring of _both_ international capitalist forms and the role of nation-state therein. Without thinking a little more on the interconnections between the form and character of imperialism (beyond a few simple slogans) and the form and character of the nation state, I think people are pissing in the wind.

>>Euro grows into key tool of international finance
>>by michael r. Sesit
>>staff reporter of the wall street journal
>>london -- despite the euro's 14% nosedive against the dollar and 23%
>>plunge against the yen last year, europe's year-old currency came
>>into its own as a key instrument of international finance on global
>>capital markets.
>>Last year, financial institutions, corporations, governments and
>>international organizations -- such as the world bank and european
>>investment bank -- issued $602.2 billion (598.4 billion euros) of
>>euro-denominated bonds on international markets, according to capital
>>data ltd. That figure accounted for 45% of all international bond
>>issuance, surpassing the $572.5 billion, or 42%, of bonds denominated
>>in dollars. An additional $174.2 billion, or 13%, were sold in other
>>currencies, such as the british pound, swiss franc and yen.


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