[Marxism] A flattening world?
lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Mar 1 08:40:46 MST 2006
WIRED: What do you mean the world is flat?
THOMAS FRIEDMAN: I was in India interviewing Nandan Nilekani at Infosys.
And he said to me, "Tom, the playing field is being leveled." Indians and
Chinese were going to compete for work like never before, and Americans
weren't ready. I kept chewing over that phrase - the playing field is being
leveled - and then it hit me: Holy mackerel, the world is becoming flat.
Several technological and political forces have converged, and that has
produced a global, Web-enabled playing field that allows for multiple forms
of collaboration without regard to geography or distance - or soon, even
"In contrast to the economic systems which preceded it, capitalism
inherently and constantly aims at economic expansion, at the penetration of
new territories, the surmounting of economic differences, the conversion of
self-sufficient provincial and national economies into a system of
financial interrelationships. Thereby it brings about their *rapprochment*
and *equalizes the economic and cultural levels of the most progressive and
the most backward countries*. Without this main process, it would be
impossible to conceive of the levelling out, first, of Europe with Great
Britain, and then, of America with Europe; *the industrialization of the
colonies, the diminishing gap between India and Great Britain* [...]
Imperialism links up incomparably more rapidly and more deeply the
individual national and continental units into a single entity, bringing
them into the closest and most vital dependence upon each other and
rendering their economic methods, social forms, and levels of development
more identical. At the same time, it attains this "goal" by such
antagonistic methods, such tiger-leaps, and such raids upon backward
countries and areas that the *unification and levelling of world economy*
which it has effected, is upset by it even more violently and convulsively
than in the preceding epochs."
Trotsky, 1929, The Draft Programme of the Communist International
(reprinted in The 3rd International After Lenin, New Park edition, 1974, pp
15 - 16) emphases added.
What would happen if current growth rates in developing and industrial
countries were to persist? How quickly would developing countries overtake
the United States in per capita income? Using the data for the 93
developing countries for which the World Development Report 1995 reports
income growth rates for 198093, we calculated how long it would take
various countries to achieve three levels of income: their own peak income
level; the current income level of high-income countries; and the average
future income of high-income countries, assuming that high-income countries
also continue to grow.
First, more than half of the developing countries had negative growth
during 198093. These countries are not gaining on anything--their incomes
are converging only on the floor of subsistence. Unless their growth rates
accelerate, they will never reach even their previous peaks. (The reported
data are, if anything, optimistic about the number of countries with
negative growth, as many of the countries that do not report data fail to
do so because of internal and external strife.)
Second, many developing countries had positive growth rates during 198093,
but in more than four-fifths of these countries growth rates were still
lower than the average (2.2 percent) registered by the high-income
countries. Moreover, many developing countries grew slowly after suffering
recessions during the 1980s. Against this admittedly pessimistic background
and assuming unchanged growth rates, if Brazil, for example, were to grow
annually only at its 198093 pace of 0.3 percent, it would take 33 years
for the country to regain its own previous income peak, and 487 years
before it achieved the current income level of the high-income countries.
Third, a few developing countries were actually "converging," that is, they
were growing faster than the United States. When are these lucky
"convergers" going to overtake the United States? India, for example,
registered an annual average growth rate of 3 percent between 1980 and
1993. If India could sustain this pace for another 100 years, its income
would reach the level of high-income countries today. And, if India can
sustain this growth differential for 377 years, my
grandchildren will be alive to see India's income level "converge."
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