Posted by: r.m. | December 18, 2008

Samir Amin – other economic views

From a recent Interview with Egyptian economist Samir Amin.

“I would like to submit another vision of this [financial] crisis, and for this we have to get rid of the notion of seeing this as a result of neoliberal globalisation. This is limiting because it is descriptive and not analytical. The reality of the current system is the extreme centralisation of capital and a limited number of large oligopolies, some 5,000 in number across the world, that control power at the global, regional and national levels. It is their decisions that are shaping the world. We are at a level of centralisation that is far higher and stronger than we were just 50 years ago. This extreme centralisation of capital has led to a fundamental shift in the logic of the management of the system – instead of investing in the productive economy to produce surplus value, of course with the exploitation of labour, the focus is now on the struggle to redistribute the profits of that surplus value between the oligopolies. This redistribution of profits among them is done through financial investments. Each one of them tries to widen its sphere of financial investment in order to redistribute the profits in its favour. …

What needs more research and more debate among us, people of the Left, is that the current breakdown is not the result of mistakes on regulation, etc. (which is the mainstream view), but a logic that is innate by the very centrality of the struggle for the redistribution of profits among the oligopolies. So the solution to this problem requires radical change, is long term and will come about when the oligopolies are nationalised with the objective of socialisation. This is, of course, not on the present agenda. And, therefore, we continue to be in a serious and continuous crisis of capitalism and imperialism, and not just of the financial markets. And this need not be the last one, and capitalism could come out of it sooner or later, but as long as cosmetic changes are applied, the world will continue to go from crisis to crisis.

….

At a conceptual level we should distinguish trade from free trade. Being against free trade does not mean that you are against any kind of trade. Delinking from the free-trade paradigm does not mean moving to the moon. … The current U.S. Congress is opposed to free-trade rules being applied to the U.S. but it wants the same rules to access markets in the global South. This is very typical behaviour of a hegemonic power, that is, “you have to comply with international law, but I won’t”.

the current crisis is also a very good opportunity to move out of the concept of free trade to regulated and negotiated trade. This negotiation must be asymmetric because there is an objective asymmetry between the North and the South. This reminds me of a joke about the fisheries agreement between France and Senegal. “The French fleets are allowed to fish in the Senegalese waters and vice versa.” [Laughs] This kind of hypocrisy is not acceptable.

… Among the proposals from the South, ALBA is the best and most advanced of the lot. ALBA is a project not of economic market integration of South America but of building complementarities that are planned, decided and negotiated by governments. This, importantly, also includes a common political stand. …”

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