Assault on Paradise
472 Pages
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Assault on Paradise


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472 Pages


Globalization is a term that describes the contradictory economic, political, and cultural processes of world capitalist integration. Although capitalism has been of a global character since the 1400s, the current phase of globalization is manifest by emergent transnational institutions, changing relations between multinational corporations and assaulted paradise of sovereign nation-states and the development of a global monoculture of consumption among feuding class divides. This book examines the relationship between globalization and nation states, the dynamics, contradictions, and crisis of global capitalism, and the developing and maturing class struggles and the prospects for social change and transformation of global capitalism. It examines these class struggles within the context of the globalization of capital and draws out the political implications of this process for the future course of capitalist development on a world scale. In this book Tatah Mentan drives home the point that contemporary neoliberal globalization is in fact an advanced stage of capitalist hegemonism and that the contradictions of 21st century globalization are thus a projection of the contradictions of capitalism on a global scale, with all its inherent exploitative characteristics and militarized class conflicts that will lead to the revolutionary transformation of vulture capitalist society. He argues that dominant global processes are not an immutable feature of capitalism, but are contested by social class actors across these three dimensions.



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Published 28 December 2012
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EAN13 9789956728350
Language English
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Assault on Paradise: Perspectives on Globalization and Class Struggles Tatah Mentan
Langaa Research & Publishing CIG Mankon, Bamenda
Publisher: LangaaRPCIG Langaa Research & Publishing Common Initiative Group P.O. Box 902 Mankon Bamenda North West Region Cameroon Distributed in and outside N. America by African Books Collective ISBN: 9956-728-63-2 ©Tatah Mentan 2012
DISCLAIMER All views expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Langaa RPCIG.
Table of Contents Preface………………………………………………………………….v Introduction.........................................................................................................xiii Chapter One Historical Overview………………………………………………….……...1 Chapter Two Contra ‘Post-Marxist’ Critique of Marxist Class Analysis…………..…………. 23 Chapter Three The Class Struggle Is Here to Stay………………………..…………………..61 Chapter Four The Retreat from Race and Class……………………………………………. 89 Chapter Five Capital, Labour, State & Class Struggle………………...……………………107 Chapter Six Understanding Class Analysis: A Marxist Approach…………..………………157 Chapter Seven Marxist Theory and Capitalist Class Structures…………….………………….185 Chapter Eight Marxism and Contemporary Capitalism…………………..………………….. 231 Chapter Nine Class Struggles against Capitalist Imperialism………………...………………..265 Chapter Ten Class Struggles in the Era of Imaginary Capitalism and Imaginary Democracy….… 287
Chapter Eleven Imperialist World Order: Protests against Misery for Profits……..……………… 351 Chapter Twelve Theoretical Reprise, Conclusion and Music of the Future………..………………. 399 Bibliography…………………………………………….……………... 425
Preface “The militant working class struggles of 2011 - from the strikes and occupation in Wisconsin, to the countless demonstrations against Wall Street Banks, the direct action and broad resistance to the Keystone Pipeline, to housing occupations throughout the country, to the defeat of regressive anti-Union legislation in Ohio and Wisconsin, to the (inter)national explosion of the Occupy Movement—demonstrated the critical fact that the multi-national working class contained in the United States can stop the ‘shock doctrine’ measures being imposed upon it by transnational capital and the neo-liberal state.” Kali Akuno, Pambazuka News, 2012-03-08, Issue 574 February 2011 went down as a turning point in world history. At the beginning of the month, the Middle East and North Africa were gripped by mass protests of workers and youth that culminated, on February 11, in the forced resignation of the long-time US backed dictator of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak. Since then, the entire region has been torn and convulsed by social upheavals—including Bahrain, Libya, Algeria, Yemen, Iraq and Tunisia. Before the month was over, the US state of Wisconsin saw the eruption of mass protests of workers the likes of which have not been seen in the USA in a quarter century. Workers throughout the United States confront a coordinated attack on social programs and jobs, under both the Democrats and Republicans, overseen by the Obama administration. These struggles unavoidably expanded and, as one can conclude, portend colossal changes in the coming years, if not decades. History—as written in theCommunist Manifesto:“The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle”—has returned. In every country—above all in the United States—workers face massive social inequality and a political system that is impervious to their interests. What program and perspective is needed to lead these struggles of workers to victory? This is the question looming very loudly in people’s minds in this era of globalization. Some scholars see this globalization as inevitable and irreversible, whereas others point out that even open and highly integrated international communities have dissolved in the past. The last great age of globalism was v
destroyed by the Great Depression and political upheaval in the 1930s as seen in historical perspective. There is evidence for the two most common explanations for economic collapse of the contemporary global system: rising volume and volatility of capital flows has triggered unsustainable booms and busts, and widespread fear of globalization provoked a social and political backlash. People and institutions are overwhelmed by a globalized world's pressures and consequences–an assault on national sovereignty to the extent that the institutions that handle economic integration not only are burdened by crises but have become the channels through which long-standing political resentment is flowing. There is widespread anti-globalization sentiment. But, an essential ingredient for 1930s-style economic nationalism is missing today: a respectable intellectual package of anti-globalist policy ideas and a successful national model, such as the Soviet Union or Hitler's Germany. Time and the current global assault is challenging scholars to ensure that such a package re-emerges from the crucible of resented and overbearing globalization. The processes of globalization nowadays can be seen within and across technological, economic, political and cultural dimensions. It can also be seen between and within state and global institutions. An emergent international class drives these processes. But, this emergent international class is constrained by conflicts with national classes, and by struggles with non-class actors throughout the global political economy. Consequently, globalization is not an inevitable process. Rather, it is negotiated and contested in the form of conflicts which at times may be bloody. As with all social conflicts, however, these struggles are not between equals. The power of state and global institutional class forces to set the parameters of the negotiations for and against globalization tends to favour the interests of an emergent international class that is primarily located in OECD countries of the industrialized North. Some may call it the G-7. The struggles against these global processes are often led by national classes whose domestic positions of power are threatened by global capitalism, but can also be influenced by grassroots organizations that seek a new vision for social justice. This alternative vision for globalization requires counter-hegemonic struggles to connect across national boundaries in order to transcend the struggles of globalization between competing factions as well as fractions of national classes.
Our view of globalization is intended to serve as a critical searchlight or framework for analysing and understanding the contradictory processes of the global political economy. The technological, economic, political and cultural (or ideological) dynamics of globalization reflect a dialectical relationship between and within suprastatal, statal, and intrastatal sectors. The suprastatal sector is the emergent “superstructure” of the global capitalist system, and is manifest by the power of capital over the nation-state and by the increasing power of global regulatory institutions like the World Trade Organization, World Bank and International Monetary Fund(The Holy Trinity). This sector is contested among members of the international class forces that are struggling for hegemony. The state sector represents the current hegemonic order, which reflects a hierarchy of nation-states and thus a hierarchy of national class forces. The suprastatal institutions need the nation-state to confer legitimacy, but not all national class forces benefit from the suprastatal framework of globalization. Consequently, national class forces from weaker nation-states tend to use state power to shore up domestic support for their regimes, but also to negotiate more favourable positions within the international class forces. The intrastatal sector is the most volatile location for the struggle over globalization. National inequalities that are based on race, gender, and class characteristics are increasingly the focal points of struggles for state power. However, these struggles are not necessarily counter-hegemonic. On the contrary, statal and suprastatal processes of globalization often shape the social movements of the intrastatal sector. That is to say, the demands for equality by subaltern groups within nations can be appropriated by divisions within national classes who either benefit or suffer from the emergence of the suprastatal sector. The counter-hegemonic potential of intrastatal struggles requires an alternative vision of social justice that does not differentiate between non-class forces of different nations or between non-class forces within nations. The struggles over globalization within nations are increasing. But, one inadvertently observes, they need to be understood within the larger framework of globalization presented above. In this way, the contradictory processes of globalization can be consistently articulated throughout the global capitalist system. Although globalization has been established as one of the organizing terms of contemporary political economic inquiry the term indicates, to some scholars, that the idea of a cohesive and sequestrated national economy and
domestic society no longer holds and that we witness the creation of a truly global economy and society and that everyday life is dependent on global market forces. Thus, the claim is made that 'globalization' 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 thebourgeosie over the whole surface of the globe, appears to be emphasized by the 'theory' of globalization. Yet, it is not. For such globalizationists, there is no such thing as thebourgeoisie. Instead, contemporary 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 globalization appears to present (Beck, 1992). This is why some contemporary defining planks of 'globalization' can be briefly summarized 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 emphasized 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 transnationalization of technology: Here the emphasis is on knowledge-based industries, increasing 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 influential powers beyond the national states and their national economies (Strange, 1991); 5) The globalization 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 globalization 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 from national regulative control and democratic accountability is said to lead to increased ecological destruction, social fragmentation, and poverty. In fact, this trend is an assault on national sovereignty and its constituent elements such as classes, ethnic groups, and so on. For Hirsch (1995), globalization is based on a class society without classes. Globalization thus means that workers are virtually powerless to withstand economic dictates (Anderson, 1992, p. 366). In short, globalization is viewed as the realization of capital's impossible dream: to accumulate uncontested. This brand of globalization theory, then, depicts 'labour’s purposeful activity' (cf. Marx) as no more than a human factor of production. What is noteworthy here is that capitalist accumulation is unfolding in a very uneven pattern with important consequences for the nature and intensity of the class struggle nowadays. Moreover, the particular responses by workers and especially the capitalist state to the general condition of the economy has shaped the degree to which class struggle intensifies and which of the two major “poles' (capital or labour) has taken the offensive. This is why the class struggle continues to play a central role in the process of capitalist accumulation, albeit it takes different forms depending on the socio-economic context. The main aim of this book is to map out the unfolding of the class struggle as necessitated by specific key concepts related to the (a) varied conditions and dominant sectors of capital in the global economy, (b) nature of the class struggle, (c) the principle protagonists of class struggles, (d) character of the demands as well as (e) mass struggles. In sum, to understand contemporary world capitalism, or imperialism sanitized as globalization, it is above all necessary to grasp the dynamism of the capitalist mode of production itself. This dynamism is manifested in a two-fold tendency of capitalist expansion. First, there is the tendency to reproduce capitalist production relations and productive forces on a national scale. I say “national scale” because nations or national entities are the best geographical framework of the capitalist mode of production. Lenin noted this when he remarked that the rise of capitalism and the rise of nations were