Monthly Archives: April 2014

Capital in the 21st Century: Imperialism isn’t working

One of the many observations in Thomas Picketty’s acclaimed, at least in reformist circles, new book Capital in the Twenty-First Century is that the period between 1910 to 1950 was, in Capitalist terms, an abomination in that wages took an increasing share of national wealth.  The normal situation is the reverse.  The rich get richer at the expense of wages.

His solution would appear to be that we should learn the lessons of this period of abomination and simply reapply them.  Basically it would appear he would like to redistribute wealth through heavy taxation.

Unfortunately the period in question was the golden age of imperialism which was imposed on the capitalist ruling class by the fact that the means of production had outgrown the nation states through which they originally carved out their own rule against the feudal imperialist empires.  Without itself becoming imperialist, capitalism would have been overturned by the working classes many moons ago but the super-profits it bought allowed the capitalists to buy off a layer of workers and the workers movement and turn them into defenders of the system against the masses.

By the 1950s the rate of return on imperialism began to go into reverse.  By 2008 the whole imperialist edifice, crowned by US-sponsored globalisation, came crashing down with the collapse of the 30-year `monetarist’ Ponzi Scheme that had been designed to prop it up.

Picketty does not tell us how this golden period of imperialism can be re-captured beyond a bit of taxation because of course it cannot be.  Imperialism is no longer working.  Capitalism was the highest stage of capitalism.  The only thing on the cards now is direct, unmediated, to the death, class war.