Usoda civilizacije: Finančni kapitalizem, industrijski kapitalizem ali socializem?

Zanimiva nova knjiga Michaela Hudsona, profesorja na University of Missouri (izšla pred mesecem in pol) “The Destiny of Civilization: Finance Capitalism, Industrial Capitalism or Socialism“, ki jo trenutno berem. Knjiga govori predvsem o treh stvareh: Prvič, kako je v ZDA finančna oligarhija (rentniški sloj) prevzela nadzor nad družbeno-ekonomskim sistemom (Hudson pravi, da je prevzela družbeno načrtovanje). Zaradi česar se vse vrti le okrog finančnih donosov za zgornji, rentniški sloj, posledično pa se je ameriško gospodarstvo deindustrializirala, ZDA pa pa zaradi padajoče produktivnosti (njena rast se večinoma generira v industriji) izgublja svojo prevlado v svetu. Drugič, zaradi prvega se ameriška hegemonija ruši, zato si ZDA prizadevajo z različnimi konflikti in vojnami zadržati svoj primat v svetovni ureditvi. Zadnji tak spopad je ameriško sprovociranje vojne v Ukrajini in lansiranje trgovinsko-tehnološke vojne proti Kitajski. Toda Hudson meni, da so ZDA ta boj izgubile in da se bo svet iz enopolarnega preoblikoval v multipolarnega. Vendar pa ZDA svojega primata ne bodo prepustile brez globalnega vojaškega spopada.

In tretjič, kakšen bo prihodnji družbeni red? Bomo sledili ameriškemu modelu finančnega kapitalizma, evropskemu modelu industrijskega kapitalizma (ki pa postopoma postaja podobno neoliberalen kot ameriški) ali pa bomo uspeli izgraditi bolj enekopraven družbeni red, kjer bo država zagotavljala ključne javne storitve, kjer bodo naravni monopoli v javni lasti in kjer bodo države postale samozadostne (samooskrbne) glede denarja in financiranja ter glede hrane, energije in drugih ključnih potreb? Kar se mene tiče, podpišem Hudsonov program v 11 točkah (spodaj). Ne bi ga sicer imenoval socializem, ampak progresivni kapitalizem.

Hudsonov program za progresivni družbeni red in svetovni družbeni red z enakopravnimi državami:

(1) Public ownership of natural monopolies, especially money and credit creation, (2) Keep basic infrastructure in public hands, (3) National self-sufficiency in money and credit, (4) Consumer and labor protection against rent seeking, (5) Capitol controls over foreign currency, (6) Heavily tax unearned income, (7) Progressive taxation of income and wealth, (8) A land tax to capture unearned capital gains, (9) Use the economic surplus for tangible investment to raise productivity and living standards and resilience, (10) National self-sufficiency in food and other basic needs, (11) Fiscal and capital controls to prevent speculative attacks on the domestic currency and prevent capital flight and tax avoidance.

Spodaj je najprej spremni opis knjige na Amazonu, sledi pa zelo dobra rezenzija enega izmed poučenih recenzentov.

The book explains why the U.S. and other Western economies have lost their former momentum: A narrow rentier class has gained control and become the new central planner, using its power to drain income from increasingly indebted and high-cost labor and industry. The American disease of de-industrialization has resulted from the costs of industrial production being inflated by the economic rents extracted by this class under the system of financialized monopoly capitalism that now prevails throughout the West.

The book explains why the U.S.-China conflict cannot simply be regarded as market competition between two industrial rivals. It is a broader conflict between different political economic systems – not only between capitalism and socialism as such, but between the logic of an industrial economy and that of a financialized rentier economy increasingly dependent on foreign subsidy and exploitation as its own domestic economy shrivels. Professor Hudson endeavors to revive classical political economy in order to reverse the neoclassical counter-revolution.

Recenzija:

Professor Michael Hudson describes how financial oligarchies and inequality develop in modern societies, going back to the Greeks and Romans, threatening eventual revolution, war, or collapse unless banking becomes a public utility instead of a predatory scheme. China has been wildly successful by adopting such a pragmatic socialism. US-led imperialism is in crisis because its FIRE sector (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate) has been leaving working classes in debt or poorly served, both domestically and globally.

Hudson insists that international debts must be cancelled if they cannot be repaid without imposing austerity. Domestically, excess profits based on the “free lunch” of land or natural resources must be fully taxed, with the proceeds used to finance universal public services, such as for housing, education, health care, and transportation, reversing privatization as needed. This will both dramatically lower the cost of labor and make it more productive and competitive. China does all this very well except via public investment banking instead of taxing nature’s freebies.

That is, the Chinese Central Bank (People’s Bank of China), doesn’t prop up Wall Street, like the US Fed, but creates money to directly meet public needs, like many investment banks worldwide. This is done with the assistance of 4 large public banks – for trade, infrastructure, industry, and agriculture. Western-style commercial finance exists too but is subordinate and closely regulated. Note that in the US, the vast majority of bank lending is for the purchase of assets, such as real estate and stocks, not for productive investment.

As a heterodox economist, Hudson is plain spoken and to-the-point but the book is somewhat repetitious. It was developed from a series of lectures on the political economy of neoliberal globalization, especially on US Dollar Diplomacy, and for a Chinese audience and a partially socialist alternative. Missing is any assessment of how the current global economy could be reconstituted to better deal with escalating climate and ecological disasters. His only vision for countering US hegemony is a growing economic alliance centered around Russia and China to both dethrone the US dollar and one-sided banking and trading relations. The 20th century vision of democratic global governance never really got off the ground from this point of view.

The fundamental tension that Hudson explores is “not only between capitalism and socialism as such, but between the logic of an industrial economy [China] and that of a financialized rentier economy, increasingly dependent on foreign subsidy and exploitation as its own domestic economy shrivels [US]” (p iii). The “rentier economy” refers to the unearned income that comes from bidding up the price of land and other assets beyond their intrinsic costs of production, classically from “landlords, monopolists, and creditors”.

Economically, a key advantage of government, rather than private, provision of basic public services, is to dramatically reduce the cost of labor. That is, wages would not have to pay for housing, medical care, etc., so local manufacturing would be cheaper, as demonstrated by China vs the US. The phenomenon of “debt deflation” also hurt workers:

This debt deflation comes about when so much income is siphoned off by the FIRE sector, ending up as luxuries, that less is available for spending on the ordinary economy and the workers it supports. That is, debt service to FIRE ends up reducing the pricing and support for non-FIRE services, such as anti-tax movements which target public services. The result is escalating economic inequality, or polarization – “an inherently undemocratic power grab by the One Percent” (p 1). In fact, history shows that “wealth is addictive”, leading to the “control of government and its use to facilitate greed and patronage power” (p 2).

Hudson outlines an 11 point program (p 225) for equitable economies internationally, in opposition to the neoliberal policy agenda of the IMF: (1) Public ownership of natural monopolies, especially money and credit creation, (2) Keep basic infrastructure in public hands, (3) National self-sufficiency in money and credit, (4) Consumer and labor protection against rent seeking, (5) Capitol controls over foreign currency, (6) Heavily tax unearned income, (7) Progressive taxation of income and wealth, (8) A land tax to capture unearned capital gains, (9) Use the economic surplus for tangible investment to raise productivity and living standards and resilience, (10) National self-sufficiency in food and other basic needs, (11) Fiscal and capital controls to prevent speculative attacks on the domestic currency and prevent capital flight and tax avoidance.

For the US all this must include a new respect for international law and new forms of debt-jubilee. Hudson notes that after WWII, “it was not expected that globalism would take the form of a self-serving US nationalism imposed globally, as if what is good for its corporations and banks will be good for the whole world” (p 229). That is, a more multipolar world is developing due to the lack of effective democratic global governance.

And the sad fact is that “political democracies have not shown themselves to be very effective in resisting the tendency to turn into financialized oligarchies” (p 238) – hence the need to learn from socialist-type mixed economies, such as China. Instead the US Fed has turned Wall Street into a Ponzi scheme while oppressing the working classes. “To distract attention from this deterioration in the US wage and work-place conditions in the face of rising FIRE-sector expenses, identity politics based on racial, ethnic, gender, and religious categories has replaced the common identity of being wage earners” (p 259).

Vir: Dick Burkhart

2 responses

  1. Zelo dober interju (zelo dobro strokovno podkovan spraševalec) na temo te knjige, in še mnogo več v :

    http://thesaker.is/platypus-interviews-michael-hudson-on-the-destiny-of-civilization/

    Za tiste, ki ne bodo brali knjige.

    Je pa res, da je za nas, ki smo še iz generacij študentov ekonomije, ki je imela precej politične ekonomije in ekonomske zgodovine, branje (in razumevanje) toliko lažje. Zelo dobra analiza trenutnih razmer in ne preveč spodbudna napoved za zahodni svet.

    Zgodovinske paralele in nekateri novi podatki in analize, ki jih Michael Hudson podaja ,pa so, za ljubitelje zgodovine, češnja na torti.

    Vredno branja.

  2. Priča smo zgodovinskemu spopadu dveh družbeno ekonomskih sistemov: na eni strani anglosaksonski rentniški kapitalizem, ki ga vodijo finančni oligarhi, na drugi strani kitajski, konfucijanski industrijski socializem pod vodstvom močne države. Evropa je zaenkrat nekje vmes.
    Zgodovina nas uči, da na dolgi rok zmaga tisti sistem, ki je ekonomsko učinkovitejši. Po tem kriteriju kitajski premočno zmaguje.

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