[Marxism] A new spectre haunts the WSJ,
sartesian at earthlink.net
Fri Nov 19 13:20:00 MST 2010
----- Original Message -----
From: "DW" <dwaltersmia at gmail.com>=
DW: S. Artesian, so, basically, since the French burn almost no coal for
energy, the Eurostar/Chunnel tracks can haul almost all freight anyway?
SA: No, Eurostar allows only limited freight-- limited in all respects;
and it can only do this because Eurostar HSR service is restricted to slow
speed through the tunnel
DW: The point is not to look at any rail or transport system in a
micro-economic form. That's capitalist thinking. It's not if the transport
system makes a surplus (profit under capitalism, surplus under socialism,
say) but if what the transport system *brings* to the larger political
economy. Does it open up development? Does expand other inustrial forms of
productivity? That sort of thing.
SA: That's kind of idealist thinking, Dave. We were discussing
China and China's "real recovery investment program" as opposed to the
"fictitious one" in the US. Exactly how are we to look at the rail or
transport system OUTSIDE the social relations of production that define the
purpose, the function, the VALUE of the system?
DW: That the eventual 8,000 or more miles of HSR in China can alleviate
passanger traffic on lines used for freight as well...does this have some
sort of pay off? And, if so, for how long?
SA: Payoff for WHOM? The bourgeoisie? Indeed, look at US railroads, how
tickled pink they were to abandon passenger service, and listen to them moan
about handling two Amtrak trains a day. Pay-off is the right word. Who's
making the money?
DW: Part of the speculative nature of residential growth in China was the
result of the same sort of bubble we saw in the west. But the diference is
that there is still a huge housing shortage in China.
additionally, there are as part of their 5 Year Plans a huge persepctive to
develop the interior of China. Most of the vacant housing exist in these
new and expanded cities in the interior. If real development of productive
forces occurs in these areas, then those apartments becaome less a function
of speculation but more one of housinng. A lot of 'ifs' granted. But China
today is not the US today and building up their industries, and with it
this sort of joint state-private capitalist class, requries *real*, not
speculative Imperialist growth. This is why banking is so restrictive, the
stock market plays such a small role there,and why the gov't there is so
concerned about a social explosion if they can't meet the needs of the
SA: I think you've gone from idealist thinking to downright magical
thinking. First, the building of housing in China, as is the case with the
building of housing in the US has nothing to do with a housing shortage. In
both countries it has everything to do with accumulation of value.
Secondly, no doubt China has wonderful and elaborate 5 year plans, but so
what? Did their five year plan in 2005 anticipate the closing of thousands
of factories in the Guangdong in 2008? Did the five year plan 1995
anticipate the bankruptcy and near complete collapse of the banking system
Third, I'm not so sure that "most" of the new housing that is being put up
is in the "planned growth areas." I do know that real estate is where the
flows of hot money are directed, and hot money does not have a 5 year plan.
It's in there to get what it can now and get out by tomorrow if not
yesterday. Think you'll find on close examination that much of the
construction is in the established metropolitan centers and it's intended to
attract the established elites, the rising upper middle class, the
professionals, and not intended for HSR maintenance of way workers. But even
if the construction is in the more inland areas where growth is anticipated,
how does that differ the slightest from the building of developments outside
Los Angeles, in the Valley, in the 60s, 70s; around Houston during the oil
boom of the 80s; or the building of new office buildings and complexes in
San Bernadino, in Riverside, in "anticipation of growth" between 2005-2008?
The construction is being undertaken with, by, and for the aggrandizement of
profit. It's being financed by a massive expansion of debt. Is debt any
less "demanding" in China because the the investors have cards that say
"Member, Communist Party of China"?
As for banking being restrictive... are you kidding me? They doubled the
amount of money lent in 2009 over 2008. That's restrictive? The banks have
over Rmb 2 trillion in "off-balance sheet" loans to account for. Banking's
"restriction" is that half the population is tied to rural production with
annual incomes of less than $1000 and to access that money, dispossesson of
the rural population must occur, driving them off their ability to subsist
on direct production.
DW: I think this latter point is key, and what guides the policies of the
PRC today. They have to keep a kind of 'popularist/Bonapartist'
state-capitalism going or it all ends, rather violently.
SA: I don't know of a "popularist Bonapartist" state that 1) has met the
"peoples needs" and 2) has not ended violently. What the CPC intends,
plans, wants etc etc is one thing. What the economic forces unleashed by
those policies PRODUCE is something else completely.
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