The Politics of Global is at Ion: Ideology and Critique | Capitalism | Globalization

The Politics of Globalisation: Ideology and Critique

The Politics of Globalisation: Ideology and Critique Werner Bonefeld Introduction 'Globalisation' has been established as one of the organising terms of contemporary political economic inquiry. The term indicates that the idea of a cohesive and sequestrated national economy and domestic society no longer holds and that we witness the creation of a truely global economy and society and that everyday life is dependent on global forces. Thus, the claim is made that 'globalisation' constitutes a qualitative transformation of capitalism in that there has developed a new relationship of interdependence beyond the national states. Marx's view of the world market and his notion that the need for a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeosie over the whole surface of the globe, appears to be emphasised by the 'theory' of globalisation. Yet, it is not. For the globalisationists, there is no such thing as the bourgeoisie; instead 'capitalism' is viewed as some sort of economic system endowed with functional mechanisms that pertain over and above the social individual rendering both the working class and the bourgeoisie helpless. Both are seen to be subjected to the risk that globalisation appears to present (Beck, 1992). The defining elements of 'globalisation' can be briefly summarised as follows: 1) The increasing importance and significance of the financial structure and the global creation of credit, leading to the dominance of finance over production: Harvey (1989) has argued that finance capital has become an independent force in the world and Strange (1988; 1991) has emphasised the increased structural power exercised by the financial superstructure; 2) The increasing importance of the 'knowledge structure' (Strange 1988; Giddens 1990): Knowledge is said to have become an important factor of production; 3) The increase in the rapidity of redundancy of given technologies and the increase in the transnationalisation of technology: Here the emphasise is on knowledge-based industries, inreasing reliance on technological innovation, and increased risk of technological backwardness (Giddens, 1991); 4) The rise of global oligopolies in the form of multinational corporations: Corporations are said to have no choice but to go global and multinational corporations, together with, and importantly, transnational banks, have become most influencial powers beyond the national states and their national economies (Strange, 1991); 5) The globalisation of production, knowledge, and finance. This development is to have led to, on the one hand, the retreat of the national state as a regulative power (Strange, 1996), and the globalisation of political power in the form of a plural authority structure associated with the UN, G7 (now G8), on the other (Held, 1995). The erosion of the national state is seen to lead to (a) greater global institutional and regulatory uncertainty and (b) to the hollowing out of national democratic systems of accountability and regulative power. The national state is seen to have transformed into a 'competition state' (Cerny, 1990). The so-called new freedom of capital form national regulative control and democratic accontability is

as old as liberal democracy itself. 707). it is suggested. the survival of the fittest will provide a opportunity structure for the creation of 'true' relations of citizenship between men and women. In Elson's view. where does it end? The argument will make reference to Marx's Communist Manifesto whose 150th anniversary in we celebrate in 1998. It is argued that the capacity of liberal democracy to regulate the economy has been undermined by globalisation. the very poorest people. the capitalised blood of children' (Marx. For its proponents globalisation has somewhat 'solved' the crisis of capitalist accumulation. and poverty. then. Democracy. pp. has left behind 'social relations between people' and thereby undermined resistance to capitalist exploitation. 29-30) argues in her work on the restructuring of so-called under-developed countries: 'oppressed and disatvantaged groups find that change creates the conditions for new forms of struggle. on the barest margins of survival.said to lead to increased ecological destruction. of course. social fragmentation. as the rule of the majority can no longer be because globalisation has undermined a politics that recognises the demands and aspirations of the majority.. which appears today in the United States without any certificate of birth. in order to mitigate the effects of structural adjustment on the conditions of women.. The next two sections supply a critical commentary on 'globalisation': Where does the global begin. this human suffering is neither acknowledged nor of any concern for the theory of 'globalisation'.. The above has summarised the main planks of globalisation orthodoxy. reducing the proprietors of labour power not only to an exploitable resource but. globalisation is based on a class society without classes. For Hirsch (1995). All that can be done is to recoup the loss of liberal-democratic values by transnationalising democratic government. Globalisation thus means that workers are virtually powerless to withstand economic dictates (Anderson. the bourgeois world proudly presents itself as history's end. p. 41-42) suggests. still remains a powerful judgement of contemporary conditions. Globalisation theory. Globalisation.. However.. will the rights of the citizens of the world be secured. depicts 'labour's purposful activity' (cf. prostitution and slavery. 1992. New markets have emerged in human organs and babies. 1983. then. A more creative approach that tries to influence the terms of restructuring . and that is the working class. 1997). the so-called human factor of production is no less a citizen and conversely the citizen is no less a factor of production as a wagelabouring commodity. these works nevertheless show clearly that Marx's insight according to which 'a great deal of capital. also. [However]. Yet. for example. in England. Some have suggested that we witness the reemergence of conditions of primitive accumulation. Marx) as no more than a human factor of production. Looking at the above summary of globalisation orthodoxy. But for those able to survive there may be the possibility of strategies going beyond survival to transformation of existing social relations of oppression and disatvantage'. may be unable to do more than desperately seek to adapt to the adverse conditions through existing strategies. was yesterday. the bourgeois world proclaims that democracy can no longer be. The spectre of communism has been replaced by the spectre of liberal democracy. globalisation is viewed as the realisation of capital's impossible dream: to accumulate uncontested. p. As Elson (1991. Trying to resist the tide of change . As Elson (pp. to a resource to be operated on and sold. rarely works. We are thus faced with the bourgeois paradox of democracy as history's end and of democracy as an empty shell. may have more chance of success. then. with babies being produced for export (see Federici. Only in this way. Regardless of whether the concept 'primitive accumulation' is appropriate. In short. merely provides a new justificiation and legitimation for the exclusion of the working class as the democratic majority from the democratic oligarchy that liberal democratic presents. male privileges have to be reduced by. In short. Such views on the limited nature of liberal democracy are. 366). while this claim is made. What is Globalisation? Over the last decade there has been an increase in the trafficking of women and children. and even in this they may fail. in this sense. since the late 1980s. the introduction of new ..

for the povision of public goods that are essential for but cannot be provided by the market. for the globalisationists. as conceived by Ricardo? Or is the competition state something like this: The state should not and cannot try to protect jobs by interfering with investments because. What is to be understood by the notion of the liberal democracy and its state? Liberals. in the past? Globalisation orthodoxy posits the capital relation as a relation of capital to itself rather than a social relation of production. What are the states competing about? Are they competing to extend. The attempt to find 'truth' in the 'invisible' has always been the character of traditional theory. for the globalisationists. that is as a labouring commodity (on this: Bonefeld. The notion of 'globalisation' not only assumes that 'capital' has suddently left its domestic skin by globalising its existence but also that 'capital' has globalised 'itself'. As shown by Gunn (1991). analytical approaches to 'globalisation' fail to conceptualise the fundamental relationship between labour and capital. find their rational solution in human practice and in the comprehension of this practice' (Marx. discovered the world market! Where was 'capital' before? What does it mean to say that 'capital' has 'de-nationalised' itself? Was capital constituted nationally. safeguard and exploit their comparative advantages. has expanded into a borderless world. if not 'anachronistic' (Hirsch. The social constitution of this relation cannot be determined: The answer to the question what is 'capital' is already presupposed: capital is capital and vice versa. seeking to discover the practical meaning of invisible principles. including the 'encouragment' of competition and therewith of conditions of so-called market self-regulation. For Elson. Have these liberal 'notions' of the proper role of the state been undermined by globalisation? Has the liberal state come to an end with globalisation? Commentators offer the notion of the competition state as an adequate definition of the state under conditions of globalisation. a considerable paradox: for the globalisationists.. has discovered monetary accumulation beyond and dissociated from productive accumulation. of a theory which resists an understanding of our social world as a world made by humans and dependent upon human transformative power . 1975. 5). . [1821] 1995. labour is merely seen in terms of the wage relation. something can be done against the power of globalisation: cut down on smoking! In short. since the late 1980s. For her this type of consumption drains the resources available to women. p. 39). have argued that the state is indispensable for the provision of the exact administration of justice to resolve clashes of interest. was it a national capital. we might wish to argue that 'theoretical mysteries . There is. it will be carried abroad' leading to 'serious discouragement to the demand for labour (Ricardo. since Adam Smith. In short. 'if a capital is not allowed to get the greatest net revenue that the use of machinery will afford here.a self-relation. capital appears to have suddently. the protection of property. For globalisation orthodoxy. however. this refinement amounts to an infinite regress of meta-theories. This relationship remains untheorised and is replaced by a tautological understanding of capital as a self-relation. the conceptualisation of capitalist development is based on the competitive relationship between capital and capital . then. p. at least. In short. liberal democracy has been undermined at the same time as which the 'national state' has been transformed into a liberal state! With Marx. that is. 1995) because it gives dignity to those who.. the military defence of its territory. In this view. stand disregarded as mere factors of production. In other words. has suddenly become more based on scientific expertise.taxes on cigaretts and alcohol. and for facilitating relations of equality and freedom. The eternal quest of political economy (and of those seeking to supply a blue-print of a new faced capitalism) to discover the practical meaning of invisible (as well as inevitable) principles ends up as an irrational exercise because what needs to be understood is presupposed as something beyond reason. globalisation orthodoxy claims that capitalist development has become all too powerful to be resisted: all that can be done is to accomodate to economic dictate and safeguard the rights of citizens through a transnational reorganisation of liberal democratic values. such a view is deeply problematic.

This understanding of the relationship between state and society is 'domestic' insofar as the inquiry into the constitution of the 'state' is based on an understanding of the relationship between a given society and its state. the study of the inter-relation between states is conceived in terms of diplomacy. which supplies structure and dynamic to 'society'. State and Society The concepts 'state' and 'society' are usually understood in a 'domestic' sense. neo-liberal market freedom is structurally unable to generate acquiesence and recommends 'democratisation' on a transnational level as a remedy to ensure a social market capitalism on a global scale. Usually it is seen as a 'thing' with invisible but hard-hitting qualities. the proponents of globalisation. conflict and competition. For the proponents of transnational democracy. As a consequence. what is society? In classic political economy. and not a social relation. uncontroversial. For the globalisationists the world is accepted as a given. at first sight. Here. the classic statement is provided by William Robertson (1890. However. belongs. then. a national capital. it is disturbing that globalisation orthodoxy appears to have forgotten its own theoretical heritage. Neither view offers an understanding of the political constitution of capitalist class relations. society was understood in terms of its economic constitution. society and capital are seen as interrelated but nevertheless . Political economy is first and foremost characterised by its trust in the invisible principle of an effective. It seeks. trade. Does globalisation merely mean that capital has left its national society behind.however flawed his theory of value. In short. Adam Smith at least sought to provide a scientific understanding of the constitution of the bourgeois world . The 'globalisationists' emphasise this by arguing that the national state has transformed into a competition state and dismiss it by arguing that the national state is in retreat. p. the politics of national states are conceived in terms of Ricardo's notion of comparative advantage. Might there not be a good case to argue that the proposals for a transnational democracy seek to guarantee the rights of citizenship at the global level so that the liberating potential of hard labour can be cherished on the basis of equality. Though. the first object of attention should be their mode of subsistence'. they are forced to accept it because the acceptance of the 'market' entails that the cunning of reason amounts to no more than the invisible's own project.a sovereignty which is exercised over a definite territory and in relation to a people or peoples. labour as the substance of value is excluded theoretically and class struggle obtains merely in terms of a domestic working class which is controlled by capital through the threat of moving production to areas more favourable to exploitation. as a thing in-itself. of social production and reproduction.1995a). The debate. and a national state. On this. We are used to speak about British society and so on. on transnational democracy goes beyond the vulgar liberalism associated with Hayek int that it seeks an arrangement whereby the global relations of liberty would be institutionally embedded. including especially the people living in this space. of course. As a consequence. The relationships of subsistence. In this view. 104) who argued that 'in every inquiry concerning the operation of men when united together in society. efficient. freedom and Bentham? In sum. Would this mean that society amounts to capital? Is capital society? We know about the attempts of political economy to define 'capital'. while they might not 'like' the invisible's hard hitting 'hand'. in other words. Yet. on the whole. they accept the invisible and seek to make it accountable to regulative institutional mechanisms. very much to the tradition of political economy. as well as inter-national cooperation. to safeguard market freedom through institutional reforms and so to guarantee economic liberalism through ordo-liberal arrangements. Both are based on the bourgeois notion of a national society. The notion that capital is a thing. that capital has de-nationalised itself? What is a national society? The notion that 'society' connotes a national entity seems. do not 'like' what 'capital' is doing when apparently left unattended by regulative institutions of a liberaldemocratic sort. The 'state' is perceived in terms of national sovereignty . The relationship between 'state and society' is perceived as one of the administration of political space. and fair power of an almighty hand. are one of capital.

Would he thus not demand that contemporary developments of 'globalisation' are conceptualised not merely in terms of the objective laws of capitalist development but. has left the national state behind. p. Yet. The nation state can only be seen in this dimension'. Hence. In sum. The relationship between the state and society is not a relationship between the national state and its national society. Would Marx merely point out that the Communist Manifesto. the proponents of globalisation have no concept of 'capital'. all contradictions come into play' (Marx. at the same time. His conception of social relations overcame the dichotomy between society and capital by arguing that 'capital' is not a thing but rather a definite and contradictory social relationship of production. 1973. a global relation. Fanatically bent on making 'its' wealth expand itself. however.solution. integral part of the world market. 228). However. continuous to perform its function and role with unsmiling vigour and a posture of respectuflness that does not lack a certain charm. my translation) puts it. that is. of the class antagonism between capital and labour. p. as von BraunmŸhl (1976. globalisation theory amounts to a theoretical project that espouses the spectre of capitalism. the endorsement of his 150 year old views would not be without qualifications. by its very form. but within which. What. p. Indeed. as a society of class antagonism subsisting through exploitation and constituted by class struggle is sufficient because it raises two interconnected issues: 1) the critique of the domestic character of capital and therewith the domestically defined antagonism of labour to capital. 'each national economy can only be conceptualised adequately as a specific international and. emphasises the global character of capitalist relations of exploitation? Would he merely recommend that the Manifesto is to be taken into consideration when the cosmopolitan character of the bourgeoisie is assessed? Or might he simply turn back in frustration muttering to himself that. History does neither stand still nor repeat itself. Rather. Marx's critique of political economy supplied a . The very circumstance that bourgois social relations stand for relations between property owners has never been forgotten by the bourgeoisie. 276. would Marx have to say to the globalisationists in a 1998 edition of the Communist Manifesto? Contemporary studies of a political economy kind assert that the capitalist world has suddenly globalised. faithfully and relentlessly. At the same time they do not 'like' what 'capital' is doing when apparently left unattended by regulative institutions of a liberal-democratic sort. while the globalisationists say farewell to the working class. The bourgeoisie knows what class divisions are and what class struggle entails. written as it was in 1848. the bourgeosie keeps to its principles. the executive of the modern state has always been but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie? I suppose he would. For our purposes. There is no need here to review his critique of fetishism and theory of exploitation. that these objective laws require a thorough . the state subsists as the political form of the social relations of production only in relation to the world market. It is this global dimension 'in which production is posited as a totality together with all its moments. The capital relation is. their call for the transnationalisation of liberal democracy. the understanding of society as a capitalist society. 227).negative . at the same tame. 2) the critique of the state as a national sovereign and impartial administrator of political space. The national state relation to 'society' is fundamentally a relationship between the national state and the global existence of the social relations of production. since his time. has become a cosmopolitan order that can not be resisted. Marx understood the role and function of the bourgeosie well and would not be surprised that it. it has never ceased to make the worker work for the sake of work and that means the treatment of humanity as a resource that is sacrificied on the pyramids of accumulation. Thus. In short.different and the relationship between them remains obscure in so far as something 'invisible' determines the constitution and dynamic of social relations. rather. 1973. Marx argued that the world market constitutes the presupposistion of capitalist social reproduction 'as well as its substratum' (Marx.

However. that we are witnessing the reconstitution of a world-market society that. Neo-liberal policies of 'market freedom' fail to generate the sort of consensus that the well-functioning of the rule of private property requires. 1964).a victory after a long and hard battle. there is no doubt that 'globalisation' is used as an ideological device to legitimate the attack on the working class to make workers comply with lower wages and deteriorating conditions. rightly. it is not history that uses Man as a means to pursue its ends. the crisis is one of 'democratic legitimacy' through which violence (coercion) is balanced by the creation of consensus. my translation). there have certainly been major changes in the relationship between the national state and the world market since the early 1970s. as indeed they do. understood as the self-determination of the multitude. Rather it means demystification: Neither 'nations' nor 'history' nor 'capital' have made war. p. what constitutes this change? Does the change merely consist in the retreat of the national state as an agent of economic regulation on behalf of a national society? What is a national society? Is it a všlkisch entity? Are there no classes? What indeed does it mean to say that the national state is in retreat? Retreat from what? Welfare? Full Employment? Or does the national state retreat from providing the legal framework that economic liberalism sees to be indispensible for relations of market freedom? The debate on globalisation has two distinct characteristics. On the one hand. of the people. The crisis. 1967/1990. domestically and globally. rather. globalisation suggests. 1980. 'History does nothing. Capitalist accumulation. While liberal democracy was forced to concede the extension of the franchise . as if it were a person apart. does not possess vast wealth. the working class. the Keynesian era did not present a third way between liberalism and socialism. then. speaking with Marx. however. This state was characterised by its ability to accomodate mass democratic participation with the requirements of capitalist accumulation. does not fight battles! It is Man. who does possess and fight. that today's developments are driven by technological demands and requirements that are quite independent from and develop in abstraction from human relations? What would he have to say to that? Might he invite his listener to read the classic texts on political economy. 98. of human life to the 'requirements' of capitalist accumulation. a fetishised world. Fundamentally. liberal democracy retained its bourgeoise character with the seperation of 'mass democracy' from mass democratic 'government'. that it can go forward only on the basis of an analysis of class? In short would he not demand that the purpose of the critique of political economy is the discovery of the real living relations between humans and that this discovery has to be an analysis of history? What would be the reply of the proponents of globalisation? Would they argue. During so-called Keynesianism mass democracy mobilisation was treated as a threat to democratic government. this process of real subsumption reposes the question of the relationship between the political and the economic. In conclusion. History is nothing but the activity of Man pursuing its ends' (Marx/Engels. living Man who does all that. 1995b). On the other hand. the real. globalisation seems to have outgrown the regulative capacity of what is conventionally seen as the Keynesian state. The demise of Keynesianism. including his own critique of political economy? Or might he simply turn round in anger shouting 'you are mystified by the self-presentation of a world which knows nothing about itself'? To think scientifically is not to repeat the everyday religion of a perverted. rendering mass democratic infuence on the executive comittee of the 'political' ineffectual (Agnoli. The so-called Keynesian state amounted fundamentally to the rescue attempt of market liberalism that reconciled mass democratic demands with the progressive accumulation of capital (Holloway.conceptualisation in terms of class struggle? Would he. domestically and on a global scale. Regarding this question. depends on the peaceful and well-ordered compliance on the part of the working class within . However. rather. Kirchheimer. then. has lost out. of the national state in the face of globalisation is not a crisis of mass democracy understood in its proper sense as the decision making by the majority. not charge that the contemporary accumulation of capital cannot be studied in abstraction from class but. then. does not mean that 'democracy'. is characterised by the real subsumption of all aspects of social. Rather.

e. In other words. 3) The emergence of new currencies as international standards of 'quality'. as Agnoli (1967/1990) saw it. 2) The construction of regional systems of co-operation (NAFTA. The former still exists in deadly form. 1995. as in the early part of the century following on from the Bolshevik revolution of 1917. i. politics of inclusion and prospects of higher living standards . economically. Japan. Sudden movements of vast amounts of money have. rearranging of political space since the end of the Cold War. financial security. Nevertheless. and the third the so-called Asian crisis since 1997. have been replaced by potential national bankruptcy and the threat of global financial collapse. the post-war attempt at integrating labour's productive and disruptive power . The struggles of the late 1960s manifested a new intensity of discontent that had been unknown since the late 1920s. The emergence of these currencies hints at a new territorialisation around blocs of regional co-operation and a new inter-bloc imperialist rivalry. new world order has a slightly different and distinct meaning. for example. The first was the European currency crises in 1992 and 1993. was contained in part through violent suppression. movements of troops and the threat of nuclear war. then. The breakdown of the Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates occurred shortly after the tremendous wave of struggle associated with 1968. The crisis. 1995). a crisis of the political and economic integration of the working class into the brave new world of increased productivity in exchange for lower wages and deteriorating conditions. The precarious relation between the monetary system and the rate of productivity was ruptured fundamentally. over the past years. The consequences of '1968' (the accumulated wave of struggle that showed its crest in 1968) were less dramatic but nevertheless equally profound as the upheavals of the earlier part of the century. The New World Order The term New World Order has become a catch-phrase employed to describe developments post-1989. This does not mean that old-style foreign policy crises with aggression between states. certainty and measure of other currencies (DM/Euro. Such compliance does not come cheap: Keynesianism raised it to a principle of class politics through. and socially through commitments to full employment. but to a much greater extent through the expansion of credit. while the potential of global financial collapse has been part of the history of capitalism since its inception. Furthermore. there have been significant changes in the relationship between the national state and the global economy. 1995). as reflected in the breakdown of the Bretton Woods system in 1971 (on this: Marazzi.the nationally constituted legal-regulative framework of labour market. a politics of pacification effected through institutionalisation. APEC) around the most powerful capitalist states: the USA. Currency instability and speculative runs on currencies have been described as a new form of foreign policy crisis (see Cockburn and Silverstein. The revolt of those years. Germany. The exploitation of labour's productive power had become much too expensive. of the national state is not just one caused by globalisation but. the second the plunge of the Mexican peso in December 1994 which rocked financial markets around the world.or. the commitment to welfare and the recognition of trade unions as legitimate organisations. replacing the dollar as the sole quality currency. the exploitation of labour productive power was confronted with depressed rates of profits. Within the framework of this paper. EU. These changes have been working themselves through the capitalist world since the breakdown of the Bretton Woods system in the early 1970s. Yen_ and Dollar). in fact. triggered three big crises of political stability. The next sections focuses on this issue by surveying the crisis of capitalist accumulation since the early 1970s. It refers to a new. The consequences of the breakdown of the system of Bretton Woods can be summarised as follows: 1) The crisis of the post-war attempt of integrating labour politically. also: Benson. as yet undefined.

Yet. that is the exploitation of labour. 1993. has always .. p. Growing investment into the fantastic world of monetary self-expansion recomposed the global relations of exploitation and struggle. Mexico 1982 indicated that the formidable attempt at containing social relations through a policy of tight money associated with monetarism had reached an impasse. the rate of monetary accumulation has by far outstripped that of productive accumulation. even the most fierce monetarists advocated expansion . the equality of money. the creation of a global 'credit-superstructure' represents an accumulation of claims on the future exploitation of labour. Although. especially since the oil hike in 1974. of capital which is suspended from the direct exploitation of labour. Wealth started to be accumulated in the money form without a corresponding increase in the exploitation of labour power in the factory. capital has failed to redeem the promise of future exploitation by subordinating labour in the present. In short. The world market became a market in money (on this: Walter. 49). 'social "misery" or "unhappiness" which Marx considered to be the "goal of the political economy" has largely been realised everywhere'. unleashing a pre-emtive counter-revolution through the imposition of abstract equality. as Dalla Costa (1995a. the dissociation between montary accumulation and productive accumulation continued unabated and on an increasing scale.. however. the inflation of money capital in relation to productive activity confirms negatively the difficulty in securing the subordination of social relaur in the present. the creation of a credit-superstructure amounts to an accumulation of 'unemployed' capital (cf. that a slump would bring. A testimony. Marx. 1966). we need helicopters dropping currency notes from the sky' (quoted in Harman. 'when a slump is threatening. 1997.through institutionalisation was failing. the constitutive side of surplus labour. 7) puts it. in short. At the same time. Since the early 1970s.M'.M' depends on M. the guarantee of M.. Without the global search for profit in money it would have been unthinkable for the Mexican crisis of 1982 to have had such an immediate knock-on effect on 'western' banks and through them on the global circuit of capital. As Samuel Brittan of the Financial Times put it in 1987. p.. Capital attempt to 'liberate' itself from the contested terrain of production and to go beyond itself by asserting itself in its most rational form of money capital (M. 1993). In other words. Everybody is equal before money. that the dismantling and restructuring of all parts of the capitalist valorisation process is still in full motion' (Bellofiore. Money knows no special privileges. The attempt to make money out of money created a much more fragile capitalism on a world scale. and of the fear that followed from it that every upturn in the economy would reactivate conflict.. This means that the exploitation of labour has to deliver rates of profit adequate to redeem debt and to allow for expanded capitalist accumulation.M') indicates the fictitious character of capitalist reproduction.P. despite this expansion of productive capital to new centres of cheap labour. a politics that was introduced from the midit-expansion not only sustained the boom of the 1980s in an increasingly fictitious dimension. When a repeat performance of the crash of 1929 threatened in October 1987. There is no surer indication than the ballooning of bad debt that capital has not succeeded in imposing a recomposition of the relations of exploitation adequate to the accumulated claims upon surplus value. 15). This response to the 1987 crash. The experience of the last twenty-five years suggests that the transformation of money into truly productive capital is both essential and impossible. p. specific though it was. Capital responded by financialising profits and by moving labour-intensive production to so-called developing countries where cheap labour costs were seen to provide competitive advantages. This exploitation of labour presupposes the recomposition of the relation between necessary and surplus labour.. It treats poor and rich as equalthe radicality of the challenge to capitalist power.. The policy of market freedom associated with neoliberalism equated citizenship with the power of money. i. the dramatic increase in global money capital has not been matched by the reduction of necessary labour. and confrontation... It also helped to promote the notion of the market.anything to avoid the catastrophe. The 'crisis of 1982' indicated a tremendous recomposition of the class relation. From the late 1960s.e. In fact. Seemingly OmarginalÕ pockets of resistance to the politics of austerity.

as is the blood-letting through war and gas. and while conditions have deteriorated and while the working class is told that it is free to look after herself. the crisis of the 1930s appeared to be so profound and prolonged as to be incapable of solution. As Susane George (1992. The IMF responds to the crisis in Asia represents. an imposition of poverty: work harder for less reward to secure the banking system and with it the capitalist property rights of exploitation. The current attempt at preventing a world-wide collapse of bad debt. that is after the first global imperialist war and in the face of fascist/fordist attempts of discipling labour. If that is not possible. I do not share his call to keep capitalism away from the abyss. can not be asked to be regulated on the basis of market freedom: swim or drown. despite its good intensions. the recession of the 1990s. Yet. instead. Paul Mattick suggested that capitalism had entered an age of permanent crisis: The periodicity of crisis is in practice nothing other than the recurrent reorganisation of the process of accumulation on a new level of value and price which again secures the accumulation of capital. was brought about by a nightmare. shows the same politics of socialisation: banks are refinanced and kept afloat by the state in its role as lender of last resort and that is by taking money out of the hands of workers. as during the so-called debt crisis of the 1980s. This view ignores that . The crisis was resolved. Mattick suggested. In contrast to previous crises of capitalism. from within this view. 106) has argued. Their losses are socialised while their profits are protected by the law of private property. a dangerous view to take. Yet this is not the first time. p. which had always led to a restructuring of capital and to a renewed period of accumulation. it appears. Crisis. While the social wage of the working class has been attacked and labour intensified. It is dangerous because it accepts suffering without dignity and thus endorses the rescue of capital through the continued treatment of humanity as a resource for the accumulation of abstract wealth. and through it at guaranteeing the capitalist property rights on the future exploitatin of labour. banks. This treatment resolved the crisis of the 1920s and 1930s. Capital was restructured and the basis for a new period of accumulation created. The old 'new world order'. capitalist global reorganisation as an inevitable development. the same crisis that up to now had presented itself chaotically and could be overcome becomes permanent crisis. for capital or for labour. This paper has argued that this contradictions is constituted by the presence of labour's productive and disruptive power. This is. turned out to be far too optimistic. Once again it would seem that we are in a situation of permanent crisis. Writing in 1934. a power in and through which capital 'exists'. of course. The summoning of a new world order should be taken seriously. in blood. including. and the Asian crisis of 1997. the world order post-1945. It is possible that the crisis will be permanent. then neither is it possible to confirm accumulation. that it will in fact be resolved: what the resolution of 'permanent crisis' can mean stands behind us as a warning of a possibly nightmarish future. had ceased to be a periodically recurring phenomenon and had become an endemic feature of capitalism. Globalisation orthodoxy fails to see the misery of our time and projects. the only thing that was socialised rather than privatised was debt itself'. While I share Lipietz's (1985) nightmare about a capitalism walking on the thin air of credit. fails to address the very contradiction that lies at its heart. The prospect of a world constituted by human dignity and sincerity has to go forward through a critique of political economy. 'during the 1980s. The 'golden age' of post-war capitalism is now a memory. It is possible too that the crisis will not be permanent. the European currency crises of 1992 and 1993. pessimistic though it was.been at the forefront of bad debt management. Conclusion Globalisation orthodoxy fails to see 'globalisation' as a major 'capitalist offensive' and. with a progressive 'south-africanisation' of the world. The strutural adjustment politics advocated by the IMF entails the imposition of poverty upon those whose labour secures the validity of credit as a claim on surplus value still to be pumped out of the worker. indicate that there seems to be no way forward. revamped versions of Keynesianism. the Mexican crisis of 1994. MattickÕs suggestion.

And the national state? Surely. Their argument is. 50). At best. According to the advocates of bourgeois society. 1992. as a purpose and not as a resource for the exploitation of Man by Man. methodologically. In short. Globalisation is thus rendered practical as the project of the invisible itself. too much commerce' as is reported in the Communist Manifesto when the argument turns on the contradictory development between the relations and the forces of production? The Manifesto celebrates the possibility of self-comprehending existence and of better things to come in the name of humanity. I suppose. globalisation orthodoxy is founded on an analytical theoretical persepctive. In this way. the spectre of communism has been replaced by the spectre of democracy at the same time as spectre of globalisation has undermined the conditions of democratic government. is to be understood by historical necessity? What about barbarism. a historical necessity? A necessity on whose behalf and for what purpose? Is the apparently more recent 'invention' of 'baby farms' where babies are produced for sale on the world market a historical necessity? Have these truly disgusting developments that have characterised this Century not been with us since the inception of capitalist social relations? Are they merely the results of historical laws whose development cannot be resisted? Or are these disgusting 'occurrences' the result of 'too much civilisation. too much industry. For them. These authors provide rich empirical evidence that questions the 'abstract generalisations' of the globalisation orthodoxy. it offers abstract generalisations which already presuppose that the market reigns supreme. These I summarised in terms of Mattick's notion of a permanent crisis. Instead. that is. Against this view the paper argued that 'in the misery of our time. and is ill-equipped to comprehend the vast implications of current developments. . we find the "positive" only in negation' (Agnoli. What. also.the globalisation of capital is at the same time the globalisation of labour's presence in and against capital. As was mentioned earlier. gravediggers do not only bury the dead weight of history but. too much means of subsistence. is why the Communist Manifesto espouses the idea of an association in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all. Man is merely a citizen endowed with abstract rights. a universal war of devastation? Was the slaughter at Verdun a historical necessity? Was the killings of millions and millions in world war II. History when it was declared to be dead. famine. Notes 1) For alternative views on globalisation see: Hirst/Thompson (1996). was Auschwitz. the globalisationists keep quite. Within the argument of the Communist Manifesto. the ideological projections of 'capital' are confused with reality. As such a citizen. On these issues. for them. and Ruigrok/van Tulder (1995). appears full of surprises: is this the irony of history or the making of history? Postscript Globalisation orthodoxy espouses the notion of historical necessity: globalisation can not be resisted and is inevitable. however. in possession of itself and. Man is recognised by the globalisationists as a wage earning commodity. Lastly. however. an existence where Man exists as a purpose and not as an exploitable resource. this perspective confers on capitalist development an objectivity that merely serves to generalise empirical data in abstract theoretical terms. as a mature human being that views herself. the uncritical acceptance of the market entails that the cunning of reason amounts to no more than the invisible's own project. the gobalisationists are quite right to argue that globalisation has rendered obvious the myth of the national state as a framework for the achievement of conditions where the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all. This perspective fails to supply enlightenment as to the crisis-ridden nature of globalisation. set free the soul of history: the age-long longing for a dignified life of a humanity that exists as a subject in control of its own affairs. This. Man is merely a human factor of production that oils the machinery of economic mechanism. p. and therewith nature. firmly fixed within the globalisation agenda.

1995) and Holloway (1995). (1995). Agency. o Marx. Equality. New Left Books. E. o Dalla Costa. for commentary. Sawamoto etal. Common Sense no. for example. etal. Late Capitalism. (1967/1990). Common Sense. (1985) The Enchanted World. (1984) and Mandel (1975) for documentation 8) For an interpretation of Marx's work on money and credit see: Bologna (1993). P. the contributions to Dalla Costa and Dalla Costa (1995. London. Sage. (1993). o Lipietz. U. in W. London. 1995. of course. London. J. o Anderson. and might well lead to a deep depression on a global scale. (1964). Verso. M. o Benson. 7) See Armonstrong etal. P.) 1995. (eds. Sage. 1997).) Open Marxism Vol. Surhkamp. February 24th. 3)This list of 'state functions' draws on Skinner's introduction to Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations.lloway (eds. (1992).) 1995. P.) Financial Stability in a Changing Environment. Silverstein (1995) 'War and Peso'. 12. Politik und Verfassung. 1995b). Ca ira. John Murray. (1997). weakened the Yen as a global standard of quality. (1995) 'Money in the World Crisis'.) (1995). amongst others. G. o Joseph. in K. Burnham (1994. London. 4) For a critique of this view see. 'Safety Nets and Moral Hazard in Banking'. O. o Bologna. published in Bonefeld and Holloway (eds. o Marazzi. and K. (eds. 'Lavori in Corso'. o Armonstrong. and J. in Bonefeld and Holloway (eds. Harmondsworth. Holloway. o Bonefeld. o Beck. Fontana. Die Transformation der Demokratie. Dalla Costa (1995a. Zones of Engagement. y Ricciradi (1987) 9) On this Marx (1966) and. (1990). Pluto Pr. London. Macmillan. (1984). 'Money and Crisis'. London. (1975). Bonefeld etal. A. (1992) 'Destruction as Determination of the Scholar in Miserable Times'. W. 'Money and Class Struggle'. Common Sense. A. K. London. 6) Parts of the following section draw on a paper written jointly with J. (1966) Capital . The Changing Architecture of Politics: Structure. 5) The crisis in Asia has. o Agnoli. (1992). 22. London. C. 13 and 14. o Cockburn. in Bonefeld/Holloway (eds. Penguin. J. (1995a) 'Capital as Subject and the Existence of Labour.Bonefeld (1995b). K. Bonefeld (1995b). o Mandel. no. Risk Society. Verso. and Midnight Notes(1992). 10) On this see Gambino (1966) References o Agnoli. Frankfurt.) 1995. New Statesmen and Society. Freiburg. R.2) See. S. o Kirchheimer. no. and the Future of the State. III. Capitalism since World War II. o Cerny. Sumption (1979). o Bellofiore.

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