Wallerstein on US, PRC Conflict

Rakesh Bhandari bhandari at Princeton.EDU
Wed Mar 8 16:59:08 PST 2000

>Useful references to Marx's analysis of free trade.

Chris (B), I agree that this is a useful reference since Marxists seem to have forgotten what Marx claims should never be forgotten:

"One other thing must never be forgotten, namely, that, just as everything has become a monopoly, there are also nowadays some branches of industry which dominate all the others, and secure to the nations which most largely cultivate them the command of the world market."

Now this raises the problem of how such industries can be isolated. Can one discover them (if they indeed do exist) through an analysis of data specified in terms of standard industrial classifications? Or would one have to rework such data as James Galbraith has attempted in first Balancing Acts (see chapter and footnotes on capital goods) and then the Macro textbook with Darity and finally Created Unequal?

Moreover, there is the always the problem of important divisions within categories such as semiconductors, as I have suggested: do semiconductors, broadly defined, help to secure for the nations which have most largely 'cultivated' them the command of the world market; or is it only segments of the semiconductor market that secure such command? Or of course, to use Michael Boskin's quip, does cultivation of microchips really matter no more than cultivation of potato chips? Processors no more important than pringles? Was Marx's insight wrong as economists now argue strategic trade theory was?

Note however that even Galbraith's analysis is not fine grained enough to pick up such potentially crucially divisions with the advanced capital goods industries. There is no substitute for the intensive sectoral analysis that Mowery, Langlois and others do.

> I think this is identical in essence to what Rakesh is calling "quasi

In the helpful passage you cite, Marx here emphasizes the advantage enjoyed by the *machine-using* firm that first assimilates this advanced technology. I have followed Galbraith and emphasized the extra profit derived from ownership of that machinery itself. That is, the exceptional profit should first and foremost accrue to the often oligpolistic, most knowledge intensive parts of the machine making sector, secondarily to those domestic firms in the best position to assimilate the innovative machinery first. The exceptional profit however will tend to be gained within one nation or a few nations at the expense of others.

Marx's point that greater technological advance and productivity will actually encourage capital paradoxically to lengthen the working day so as to fully enjoy "this sunny day of his first love"...well, it sounds to me like my America, both the most advanced technologically and socially regressive of the leading capitalist nations.

Yours, Rakesh

>Capital Vol 1 Chap 15 Machinery and Modern Industry, Section 3b
>Prolongation of Working Day.

>Machinery produces relative surplus-value; not only by directly
>depreciating the value of labour-power, and by indirectly cheapening the
>same through cheapening the commodities that enter into its reproduction,
>but also, when it is first introduced sporadically into an industry, by
>converting the labour employed by the owner of that machinery, into labour
>of a higher degree and greater efficacy, by raising the social value of the
>article produced above its individual value, and thus enabling the
>capitalist to replace the value of a day's labour-power by a smaller
>portion of the value of a day's product. During this transition period,
>when the use of machinery is a sort of monopoly, the profits are therefore
>exceptional, and the capitalist endeavours to exploit thoroughly "the sunny
>time of this his first love," by prolonging the working-day as much as
>possible. The magnitude of the profit whets his appetite for more profit.
>Chris Burford

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