Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The end of American globalization and the possibility for socialism, and a parallel with the end of British Imperialism

I was reading through David McClellan's excellent collection of Marx's writings and I came across a fascinating selection from the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, the briefly existing newspaper Marx operated, about England. In it, Marx pointed out the contradictory nature of the country. On the one hand, in the 19th century it was the spot of the most developed, Dickensian, capitalism on the planet. On the other, compared to other countries it was a fount of reaction, and had acted as a frustrating and counterrevolutionary force in Europe since Napoleonic times.

This made me think of how it was that the British Empire protected the British upper class from internal pressure, and helped them to resist calls for reform, as well as the fact a Labor government only came to power after World War II. At that time, the British Empire was in the process of being dissolved. Something similar can be said to be the case in the U.S.

In the British Empire, the upper class could maintain its plantations overseas and make money without looking at the suffering of the people inside of the country, because the lives of the poor didn't have that much of an affect on their profits.
Here, in the United States, we don't have an Empire, and we don't have that many former colonies, so we can't be called neo-colonialist, but we do have a large U.S. defined globalized business sphere, one that exploits cheap foreign labor for the benefit of U.S. capitalism. In this sense, globalization can be classified as the United States' own, current, form of indirect imperialism.

As long as the profits from unequal relations with the Third World, maintained by globalization, continue the United States upper class is insulated from the wrath of the population as a whole, because the money of the rich doesn't depend on them either having or not having jobs. That's why the rich have no problem with so much of U.S. industry being offshored. In fact, it makes them even more money since they don't have to pay people normal wages. It's no skin off of their backs, and besides, what are people going to do about it? But like the British Empire eventually had to change, the U.S. globalized imperium is presently going downward.

U.S. imperium is going down for the simple reason that China and India, formerly economically dependent states, are coming up. Our economic crisis did help to show the world the real internal weakness of the U.S. economy, and the combination of crisis and competition spells out much more clearly the end of a U.S. dominated globalized world. China and India used to make all of our products, and they still make a lot of them, but now both of them have domestic companies with loyalty to their home countries instead of towards the United States, that are determined to make and sell their own products, eventually making us the customers. A few years down the road, because we've grown stupid and lazy through being glutted with money and luxury, their products will no doubt have exceeded ours in quality ingenuity, and will most likely be cheaper. At that point, all of our economic fantasies here in the U.S. will be over.

When that point is reached, the U.S. elite will have to do what they have wanted to avoid, what their English peers have already had to do, that is to say they'll deal with the needs and whims of the internal population of the country in order to create jobs and restore competitiveness. To do that, they won't be able to just treat American workers any way they want. The opportunity for socialism will have then arrived. If the rich want to make products in order to make money, they be dealing with kids fleeing rice fields hoping to make a few bucks through slave labor anymore, they'll be dealing with people with first world expectations. They're going to have to kiss a whole lot of ass, to put a crude spin on it. And at that stage it'll be a lot easier for us to win, and then to eventually taking over. With the U.S. as a non-globalized force that's no longer at the head of the global economy, it will be that much easier for us to both take over and to remake society, to have a real revolution that unseats it from the ground up. The poverty of the Third World will no longer protect the elite, the corporations, or the capitalist system as whole.

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