File spoon-archives/marxism-international.archive/marxism-international_1997/marxism-international.9710, message 295

Date: 	Tue, 14 Oct 1997 15:56:00 -0800
Subject: M-I: Liberalism and Fascism

Considered by many to be an ally in the LEFT's battle against monetarism,
former president of the American Economic Association Robert Eisner has
written a brief in favor of free trade ("Free Trade Primer, Wall Street
Journal, 10/13/97, p. A22).

I want to follow my friend Geoff's advice and here look at the continuities
between (American-style) liberalism and fascism, though my efforts will
require the masters out there to help me out.

Some were baffled then by the German abandonment  of the Mercantalist
worship export surpluses. It seemed to some that the Nazis were actually
helping the conquered nations to exploit Germany by herself maintaining a
so called unfavorable balance of trade and devaluating their currencies.
Yet as Maurice Dobb demonstrated, Germany's encouragement of import
surpluses from South-Eastern Europe only made sense when seen as a
coordinated system of exploitation. And from that perspective, THE IMPORT
really quoted here from Maurice Dobb, Aspects of Nazi Economic Policy,
Science and Society, Spring 1944, though I have not summarized his analysis
of how this coordinated system worked.).

Now the question I put to people is simple: do US trade deficits today
represent something for nothing? Is the US able to finance its trade
deficit because as the dollar remains the reserve currency, there continues
to be massive foreign purchase of US assets, the value of which foreign
creditors are themselves forced to maintain through continual reinvestment,
because a sell off  would only prompt the Fed to print more dollars and
thus devalue their reserves and the dollar denominated obligations due
foreign creditors?

In short, is the US abandonment of neo-mercantalism less an abandonment of
imperialism than its realization, in particular through the use of the
financial aspects of US imperial power to enjoy import surpluses, giving
nothing in return (Alan Freeman has made reference to this, but I don't
really understand the argument).

I ask this because Einser, a liberal, is little bothered by US trade
deficits, for as he writes "as long as we continue to run a current account
deficit, we get a free ride because foreigners find the US dollar to be a
good investment."

This then raises the question of why the dollar is a good investment;
Eisner is not clear here--some master defetishizing seems necessary here
(for example,  do US dollar denominated assets remain valuable because
dollars are needed to buy the weapons over which the US has a monopoly?)

Whatever its cause, Einser is clear however that the strength of the dollar
allows the US to run up import surpluses.

"[Foreigners] keep the price of the dollars high by their efforts to
acquire them for their investments. This in turn makes foreign goods
relatively cheaper for Americans and US goods more expensive for
foreigners, and perpetuates the current account deficit--which is the other
side of the coin of the net foreign investment in the US."

But there are other disturbing aspects to Einser's argument. Now of course
he supports high wage jobs. But he insists that this does not require that
Americans "insist on better wages and working conditions for foreign
workers." Instead the US should give up those industries in which there is
a high proportion of low wage occupations (the textile industry) and
specialize in those industries (computers, aircraft) in which even low
skill occupations, such as janitors, will be able to share in the
superprofits from world market high tech monopolization.

Einser assumes that these high tech or skill intensive industries will grow
rapidly enough to absorb workers released from relocated industries, as
long as there is a humane and politically sensible attempt to educate and
train workers to move into high wage occupations. Unions or radical worker
action is not necessary, only education and faith that capitalism will
create more jobs than it destroys, even if workers will have to be

Since the problem is not with capitalism, it would seem that it would
become even easier to impugn those who don't make the transition, though
they have been given education. This sets the stage for more punitiveness,
more prisons and eventually death camps.

As for the export of industry to the third world, he writes that "it is our
selfish interest to take advantage of their cheap products and devote our
resources to production that does not damage our environment."

Louis P once downloaded a New Yorker story on how capitalist growth has
destroyed more rivers and open pastures in Vietnam than a decade of aerial
bombing. The imperialist export of environmental destruction is a problem
of the first magnitude, though something liberals favor.

It would seem that American liberalism is imperialism and that it already
shows continuities with fascism.


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