Category Archives: Economics

New Book on Parasitism and the Imperialist Working Class: Divided World, Divided Class

The always excellent and intriguing Canadian left-wing Kersplebedeb, publisher and/or distributor of such important texts as Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat, Night-Vision: Illuminating War & Class on the Neocolonial Terrain and Meditations on Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth has launched its new Kalikot Book Series. The first title to be published as part of the Kalikot series is Zak Cope’s Divided World Divided Class: Global Political Economy and the Stratification of Labour Under Capitalism, a work which sets out to chart the history of the labour aristocracy in the capitalist world system.

For those not familiar with Lenin’s theory, the labour aristocracy (sometimes called the aristocracy of labour) is a working class that has been bribed by imperialism. While Many “Leninists” claim to uphold this theory, they refuse to examine the breadth of this pseudo-class and rather try to deny it’s size to the extent that it seems to rarely (if ever) factor into either their analysis or organization. At the same time Lenin himself remarked that the seal of parasitism can mark entire nations. J. Sakai in his book Settlers demonstrates this clearly in the history of the United States. Other important contributions to the theory of the labour aristocracy demonstrate that it was not a phenomenon born into the world fully developed in the era of imperialism, but in fact goes right back to what Marx referred to as the primitive accumulation of capitalRead the rest of this entry

The Surplus in Monopoly Capitalism and the Imperialist Rent

Samir Amin

Recently in their July-August issue (Volume 64, Issue 03) Monthly Review published a “missing chapter” from Paul Baran and Paul M. Sweezy’s seminal work Monopoly Capital: An Essay on the American Economic and Social Order. This publication was accompanied by commentaries by MR editor and ecological materialism theorist John Bellamy Foster, Egyptian world-systems political economist Samir Amin and others.

Below I have chosen to repost Amin’s contribution: The Surplus in Monopoly Capitalism and the Imperialist Rent. Thanks have to go to reader and fellow Blogger Eastwind who put Amin on my mind today during our discussion of Immanuel Wallerstein and World-System Theory.

Note from MR: Since the 1950s Samir Amin has provided a systematic critique of the capitalist system, beginning with his landmark treatise, The Accumulation of Capital on a World Scale (1957) and extending to his important works of the last few years, most notably The Law of Worldwide Value (2010). Here he provides an explanation of the importance of Baran and Sweezy’s Monopoly Capital to this critique, relating “surplus” (which he identifies with all residual income/expenditures in the system of national accounts beyond invested profits and wages) to imperial rent. To aid in the understanding of his analysis here we have inserted two footnotes further explicating the two numerical examples he provides.

As usual, the posting of this essay should not be taken as a complete endorsement of it by The Speed of Dreams. Read the rest of this entry

Immanuel Wallerstein on Theory & Sociology

Immanuel Wallerstein is a U.S sociologist and historical social scientist. He is most famous for his contributions to the field of analysis that would come to be called World-System Theory alongside Andre Gunder Frank, Terence Hopkins, Samir Amin, and Giovanni Arrighi. His though has been influenced by Marxism, Fernand Braudel, dependency theory and the world revolutionary upsurge of 1968. He is the author of the multi-volume The Modern World-System series of books, as well as World-Systems Analysis: An Introduction, Historical Capitalism and many others.

Like other Marxists Wallerstein accept the prediction that capitalism will be replaced by a socialism, as well as the emphasis on underlying economic factors and their dominance over ideological factors, the dichotomy between capital and labour, belief in the accumulation of capital, dialectics etc. However, unlike most Marxists Wallerstein breaks with the notion that development of the parasitic capitalist world economy was progressive universally, but rather was detrimental to most of the world’s population. As he said in his classic essay Historical Capitalism:

It is simply not true that capitalism as a historical system has represented progress over the various previous historical systems that it destroyed or transformed. Even as I write this, I feel the tremour that accompanies the sense of blasphemy. I fear the wrath of the gods, for I have been moulded in the same ideological forge as all my compeers and have worshipped at the same shrines.

Below I have posted video excerpts from an interview with Wallerstein as an introduction to his thought. Read the rest of this entry