Robert Brenner also suffers from this blind spot, failing to perceive the importance of the relationship between workers in low-wage coun- tries and firms based in imperialist countries. He attributes continued if unimpressive growth in the “advanced capitalist economies,” despite continued overcapacity, exclusively to the inflation of credit bubbles: “All else equal, the build-up of overcapacity . . . could have been expected to lead, sooner rather than later, to serious crisis. But the governments of the advanced capitalist economies were long able to forestall this outcome by making sure that titanic volumes of credit were made available to firms and households.” 49 McNally points to the weakness of this answer: “It will not do to say that for 25 years crisis was ‘postponed’ because credit was pumped into the system. . . . If this was the whole answer, if every- thing had simply been credit-driven, then all the evidence suggests that an enormous global financial crisis of the sort we are witnessing today would have had to occur much earlier.” 50 According to McNally, the postponement of the crisis is the outcome of many factors acting in combination: The partial but real successes of capital in restoring profit rates throughout the 1980s; the generation of new centers of global accu- mulation, such as China; the creation of huge new labour reserves (by means of ongoing “primitive accumulation”); the re-subordination of
296 IMPERIALISM IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY the South under neoliberalism; and the associated metamorphoses in financial markets, all of which enabled neoliberal capitalism to avoid a generalized economic and financial slump for a quarter of a cen- tury, only to lay the grounds for new crises of overaccumulation and financial dislocation. 51 This is a comprehensive list — yet it omits mention of global labor arbitrage, that is, of super-exploitation, in the temporary stabilization of capitalism in the neoliberal era. This heightened exploitative, impe- rialist tendency is obscured by his dubious notion of “new centers of global accumulation.” The old “centers of global accumulation” are the imperialist economies that capture the lion’s share of the surplus-value generated by the proletarians of the world, the wealth generated by its small farmers, and the proceeds of brutal accumulation by disposses- sion. What exactly does it mean to refer to China and other low-wage Southern nations as “new centers of global accumulation”? Is China or any other of the so-called emerging economies about to gate-crash into the elite club of imperialist “developed economies,” unchanged since the accession of Japan at the end of the nineteenth century? It is unclear whether McNally actually believes they are, since he also emphasizes the “re-subordination of the South under neoliberalism.” There are many capitalists in China, and their number and wealth is rapidly increasing, and there is indeed a great deal of capitalist accumulation taking place
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