Posts Tagged ‘capitalist development’

Neoliberalism and the Dynamics of Capitalist Development in Latin America

November 19, 2009
By James Petras and Henry Veltmeyer. Axis of Logic, Nov 19, 2009

Editor’s Note: All those interested in the political, economic and social directions being taken by the people and governments of Latin American states will do well to invest time in reading this treatise by James Petras and Henry Veltmeyer. Those who think they understand the future of the left on the continent may be surprised by what is happening in countries ranging from right wing governments such as Colombia to leftist states like Venezuela after reading this document. Time and energy given to building socialism and combatting the Global Corporate Empire everywhere in the world will be informed by neo-capitalist movements across Latin America. This analysis deserves careful study.

– Les Blough, Editor

An analysis of the dynamics of capitalist development over the last two decades has been overshadowed by an all too prevalent “globalization” discourse. It appears that much of the Left has bought into this discourse, tacitly accepting globalization as an irresistible fact and that in many ways it is progressive, needing only for the corporate agenda to be derailed and an abandonment of neoliberalism. This is certainly the case in Latin America where the Left has focused its concern almost exclusively on the bankruptcy of “neoliberalism”, with reference to the agenda pursued and a package of policy reforms implemented by virtually every government in the region by the dint of ideology if not the demands of the global capital or political opportunism. In this concern, imperialism and capitalism per se, as opposed to neoliberalism, have been pushed off the agenda, and as a result, excepting Chavéz’s Bolivarian Revolution, the project of building socialism has virtually disappeared as an object of theory and practice.
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Advanced Imperialism: A Phase of Capitalism

June 26, 2008
A Marxist perspective
Global Research, June 25, 2008

On April 26, 1917, V.I. Lenin published a major piece on imperialism titled “Imperialism – Highest Stage of Capitalism“. Lenin was able to draw from J.A. Hobson, Imperialism, and Rudolf Hilferding, Finance Capital. Lenin conducted extensive research on imperialism from wide array of writers, but he was very critical of many writers including Hobson and Hilferding. Lenin’s work on imperialism remained a premier until Harry Magdoff published The Age of Imperialism in 1969 and Kwame Nkrumah, Neo-Colonialism-The Last Stage of Imperialism, in 1965.

Since 1990, the world has changed and considerably more so since the inter-imperialists rivalry of the classical imperialism period of 1870-1945. There have been changes in the development of capitalism, finance, resource control and international investments. Along with the changes in capitalism there have been a series of world wide financial and economic crises. In other words, we are in the period of advanced imperialism. It is not fundamentally ideological, military, or social but principally socio-economic – a new phase of capitalism.

In what follows is the examination of the development of capitalism from competitive capitalism to international oligopoly- advanced capitalism. Also, capitalist development is not limited to the concentration of international production but also to the development of finance domination – finanancialization of capital. The international oligopoly and finance domination are forging new imperialist centers that are slowing re-dividing the world by a new map making machine – Foreign Direct Investment. Proxy wars and American form of colonialism will attempt to conceal international struggle of advanced imperialism today. However, advanced imperialism will expose its naked actions in one form or another and no neo-imperialism apologist can hide its cloths. .

Advanced Capitalism

Modern capitalism or super-capitalism (as coined by a liberal economist Robert Reich) is a phase of capitalism. The history of modern capitalism can be described as follows: 1) 1860-70, the apex of development of free competition; 1870-1945, the period of monopoly capitalism, cartels, trusts, syndicates and finance capital; 2) 1945-1973, the US dominated oligopoly capitalism, multi-divisional corporations; and 3) the 1973-75 crisis and the boom of the 1990’s cultivated the massive growth of giant multi-national corporations. By 1870, it was clear that capitalism had developed from a competitive capitalism to monopoly capitalism. Capitalism development is not only internal but is express internationally in the form of imperialism. Lenin said,

that capitalism has been transformed into imperialism;” [1]

Prior to 1920, the management of large enterprises was centralized in a few hands (called Tycoons) that managed production, secure raw resources for the industry, and marketed a few products. Giant enterprises were managed by Tycoons with small staffs. Andrew Carnegie ran the Pennsylvania Railroad and Carnegie Steel; John D. Rockefeller ran Standard Oil Company (whose descendant is ExxonMobil) and Henry Ford ran Ford Motors. Very few giant enterprises were corporate in structure; that gave the ability to have internal financing; and multi-divisional in operation As Michael Reich noted,

“Of the Fortune 500 largest corporation in 1994, more than half were founded between 1880 and 1930.” [2]

The events of the two world wars and the success of the Bolsheviks revolution ended the phase of monopoly capitalism and transformed capitalism into US dominated oligopoly capitalism-the rise of giant corporations. Marxist’s economists Baran and Sweezy noted,

“Under capitalism the highest form of success is business success, and under monopoly capitalism the highest form of business is big corporation.”[3]

The characteristic features of a giant corporation as defined by Baran and Sweezy is: 1) control rest in the hands of management (ie Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officers), 2) management is self-perpetuating, and 3) each corporation normally achieves financial independence through the internal generation of funds which remain at the disposal of management.

“The replacement of the individual capitalist by the corporate capitalist constitutes an institutionalization of the capitalist function. The heart and core of the capitalist function is accumulation: accumulation has always been the prime mover of the system, the locus of its conflicts, the source of both its triumphs and disasters.”[4] Baran and Sweezy made clear.

Along with the rise of giant corporations was the change in administrating giant corporations and the development of a multi-divisional structure. During the monopoly period, centralization of management was the norm and a few men were entrusted with very complex decision making. Stephan Hymer, a Marxist economist, said,

“Thus, product development and marketing replaced production as a dominant problem of business enterprise. To meet the challenges of a constantly changing market, business enterprise evolved the multidivisional structure. The new form was originated by General Motors and DuPont shortly after World War I, followed by few others during the 1920s and 1930s, and was widely adopted by most of the giant U.S. corporations in the great boom following World War II. As with the previous stages, evolution involved a process of both differentiation and integration. Corporations were decentralized into several divisions, each concerned with one product line and organized with its own head office. At a higher level, a general office was created to coordinate the divisions and to plan for the enterprise as a whole.”[5]

The diversification movement in the 1960, multi-product lines, complex internal financing and the need to plan the market are basic features of multi-divisional corporations. As Stephan Hymer indicated,

“The new corporation formed has great flexibility. Because of its decentralized structure, a multidivisional corporation can enter a new market by adding a new division while leaving the old divisions undisturbed. (And to a lesser extent it can leave the market by dropping a division without disturbing the rest of its structure.) It can also create competing product-lines in the same industry, thus increasing its market share while maintaining the illusion of competition. Most important of all, because it has a cortex specializing in strategy, it can plan on a much wider scale than before and allocate capital with more precision.” [6]

From 1945-1961, the increase in mergers and internal growth forged a greater concentration of production – US dominated corporations.

It is fair to assume that the greatest increases in manufacturing concentration have come in the three periods of greatest mergering. But increased concentration can also come from internal growth either through the reinvestment of earnings or from the sale of new securities, provided, of course, that growth from these sources is more rapid for larger companies than for smaller companies.”[7], as noted liberal economist Gadiner Means.

Means also reported that by 1969,

“The top 10 firms account for fully one-seventh of total industrial sales and almost one-quarter of total industrial after-tax profits. The top 100 firms account for more than 40 percent of total sales and almost 60 percent of total.”[8]

Continued . . .