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Re: <nettime> Digital leftism in a globalised world?
Brian Holmes on Thu, 2 Feb 2017 17:08:12 +0100 (CET)


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Re: <nettime> Digital leftism in a globalised world?


   Well, OK, I guess this thread won't go away:

     On Jan 31, 2017, at 14:18 , Alexander Bard <bardissimo {AT} gmail.com> wrote:

     >   But is there somehow a widespread agreement that economic growth in
     >   China and India over the last 30 years has not benefitted the masses at
     >   all? That this is merely a "neo-liberal myth"?

   Most of Asia has emerged from poverty over the last 40 years and far
   from me to decry that, since I never lived in poverty and do not wish
   it on anyone. However, the type of discussion I want to avoid is one
   that forecloses all other possible development paths, and justifies all
   the decisions taken in the past, on the basis of one unqualified
   positive.

   Today, China serves as the final assembly platform in an East Asian
   manufacturing network which supplies relatively inexpensive goods to
   the entire world, initially on the basis of very cheap labor, and now
   because the whole network functions at a high degree of coordinated
   performance. According to a simplified development theory this is
   great: you exploit cheap labor, industrialize, "move up the value
   chain" and before you know it, your country is middle class, just like
   the USA or Europe. But what if the prosperity of the USA and Europe,
   despite its many advantages, had intrinsic contradictions? And what if
   those problems were dramatically amplified by the creation of a global
   just-in-time division of labor?

   In 2014 China produced 10 billion 540 million metric tons of CO2, about
   30 percent of the world total. In the same year the US produced about
   15% of the world total, with less than a quarter of China's population.
   Around this point, climate change finally began to be perceived as a
   global emergency, while air pollution in Chinese cities became a public
   health emergency. Now we all contemplate the dismal perspective that
   the children who escaped poverty because of recent accelerated economic
   growth will face immense climate catastrophes because of recent
   accelerated economic growth. Meanwhile, respiratory disease is already
   the leading cause of death in developing countries.

   On one level, this is a tragic fact: humans have been so successful
   that we have exceeded the earth's carrying capacity. But you can have
   tragic consciousness and still seek a better outcome. Part of it
   involves revising one's judgment about the past. Was it a good thing
   that because of neoliberal free trade policy, China and most of the
   developing world received foreign direct investment designed to spark
   industrial growth on the Euro-American model? Could China, and with it,
   the global division of labor, have developed along other lines? My
   analysis is that industrial capital in the US, Western Europe and
   Japan, faced with labor struggles and environmental critique in the
   1970s, took the exit route to globalization instead of developing the
   environmentally stable, egalitarian production processes that were
   already being called for at the time. According to this analysis, most
   of the blame for the present situation lies with the developed
   countries of that time, above all the USA.

   Today the Chinese Communist Party has become keenly aware of
   capitalism's most deadly contradiction, and they may change the course
   of earth history by developing a sustainable energy system. Or they may
   be incapable of it. Or it may already be too late. Here in the US where
   I live, the only way to go ahead with dignity is to struggle to change
   our own abusive system.

   I recommend to all the short and powerful book by Minqi Li, the Rise of
   China and the Demise of the Capitalist World System.


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