September 23, 2018

Are there any "national" and "comprador" capital today?

Alexander Kharlamenko

Recently, left-wing circles are discussing "national" and "comprador" capital in relation to today's world in general and Russia in particular. The urgency of the dispute is determined primarily by the fact that in these categories one or another attitude to the current government and to the opposition forces of different directions is justified (on the one hand, liberal-pro-Western, on the other - national- and social-patriotic).

Those who respond positively to the question posed in the headline point to the escalating contradictions between the ruling bloc and the most aggressive circles of world imperialism, the danger of the disintegration of Russia as a single state, from which the working people would first lose. In this regard, they believe that the struggle of the national-bourgeois forces against the compradors at this stage has a historical justification.

Their opponents refer to the fact that there is no more national capital in our time: all large capital is associated in one way or another with transnational capital, connected with it by the relations of financial, technological and other dependence, and, therefore, to expect from it nationally oriented policy is naive. With regard to present-day Russia, they believe that strengthening the "power" in practice only means strengthening the raw material appendage of imperialism and does not carry a progressive content.

In my opinion, the theoretical foundations of the two positions stated in it are inadequate to the modern era and, when inevitably colliding with reality, fraught with new frustrations and ideological crises for their supporters. To understand how things stand in reality, it is worth remembering the history of these concepts and the phenomena they designate.

The terms "national capital" and "comprador capital" became part of the communist movement almost 100 years ago. They first appeared in the documents of the Comintern during the Chinese revolution of the 1920s, when the Kuomintang party, founded by Sun Yatsen, opposed the semi-colonial dependence on foreign imperialism. The Comintern concluded that this was a party of the "national bourgeoisie" capable of acting, albeit inconsistently, against imperialism and its internal support - the "comprador bourgeoisie" (the Spanish-Portuguese word comprador literally means "wholesale buyer"). In these categories, imperialist capital was viewed as an external factor in relation to the given country, which contradicts all forces that represent the trend of independent development of capitalism on the basis of the national market.

Under the influence of the authority of the Comintern both terms began to be widely applied to other countries, including Latin American ones. This approach has long been criticized by many Marxists who rightly pointed out that Latin American countries differed from Asian and African ones by a higher level of capitalism development, a long-term involvement in the world capitalist division of labor, a deep integration of imperialist capital into the internal socio-economic structure, a combination of economic dependence and political sovereignty (the latter was emphasized by VI Lenin in his work "Imperialism, as the Highest Stage of Capitalism", which in this year do 100 years).

Since the 70's. XX century, the situation, similar to the Latin American, has become typical of the entire dependent periphery of the capitalist world. The dominant force in the world capitalist economy and politics has become transnational corporations, which are no longer predominantly an external factor, but as part of the process of capitalist reproduction inherent in the socioeconomic structure of a given country, as intrinsic as international. Thus, transnational capital has reached a qualitatively new level of real socialization of production, which seems to me to be the main objective reason for the victory of imperialism over early socialism in the late 20th century.

Of course, today there are inter-imperialist contradictions. Nevertheless, with the enormously increased real socialization of production and the internationalization of all social life, the transnational intertwining of monopoly capital can not be ruptured. The further development of the global dominance of transnational capital is evidenced by the creation of the Pacific Partnership, the world's largest free trade and investment zone between the United States, Canada and a number of countries in East Asia and Latin America, plus secret negotiations for the creation of a similar "zone" between the peoples The EU and North America.

Representations of those who seek for their subjective anti-imperialism only a national-patriotic basis, in these circumstances, hang in the air. Capital "national" in the former sense - aimed primarily at its national market, protected by him and his state from the competition of foreign capital as an external factor - can no longer exist under the new historical conditions. "Comprador" capital as an intermediary between foreign imperialist capital and the country where the latter is being introduced from the outside, has also become a thing of the past. Thus, those who criticize the application of the concepts of national and comprador capital to modernity are theoretically right.

However, a major drawback of both sides of the discussion is their general focus on Russia as a country of restored capitalism included in the capitalist world. The existence of socialist countries in the modern world, if recognized, does not affect the essence of the approach. As a result, the nature of the world conflict that encompasses the planet remains unclear (in the opinion of some who have already reached the stage of the world war). Often, this conflict is attributed to an inter-imperialist content of the same type as a hundred years ago, but this is hardly compatible with dialectics, for even Heraclitus taught 2500 years ago: one can not enter the same waters twice. If the content of the conflict is historically different, what kind of conflict? Those who are not able to answer this question, there is one thing: yesterday to look forward to, that the forces opposing the imperialist aggressors from Venezuela to the Donbas will raise red flags and establish a dictatorship of the proletariat, and today it is bitter to be disappointed and to see in them no more than representatives of bourgeois nationalism or social democracy. But I do not remember when this world imperialism (precisely imperialism and the world precisely) was so uncompromisingly fighting against really bourgeois nationalists or real social democrats ...

Apparently, the situation is more complicated than it seems to all participants in the discussion around the terms of the day before yesterday. We do not live in a homogeneous capitalist world where different "national imperialisms" are trying to find out the relationship between each other, but in a world where the struggle between two powerful internationally organized forces is taking place, the direction and prospects for the development of all mankind depend on the course and outcome. On the surface it looks like a confrontation between neoliberalism made in USA, claiming global dominance, and the camp of the "multipolar world". The latter includes forces very different, sometimes even opposing each other yesterday: from the East Asian countries under the red flag to the winners of "communist totalitarianism" under tricolors or Orthodox banners; from the Chavists dreaming of socialism of the XXI century, to the Tehran ayatollahs.

It is clear that we are not talking about the frontal confrontation of socialism and revolution with capitalism and counter-revolution (no matter how much we want it). Even Che Guevara correctly said: in order to be a revolutionary, at least there must be a revolution. The modern world is experiencing an era, if not total reaction, then a deep rollback of social progress after the completion of the greatest in the history of the revolutionary era that has engulfed much of the 20th century.

The global system of modern imperialism is economically represented by transnational financial capital with its international bodies. This is a single complex, formed during the Cold War, whose main residence and shock military gendarme fist is the United States. World financial capital centers - the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization - carry out economic and political dictatorship over whole countries, often working together with the European Union. In full accordance with Lenin's warning about the "United States of Europe", the EU is the worst enemy of socialism and the working-class movement, the economic and political pillar of NATO, a means of neocolonial subjugation of the peoples of the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe. Strategic allies of the United States and NATO: Japan, South Korea, Australia, Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, a number of others - are connected with the United States and the EU with the closest economic and military-political ties. All of them jointly participate in the maintenance of world imperialist domination, although the role of the main headquarters belongs to the United States. Unlike the past, the world association of transnational monopolies has no capitalist alternative.

In our opinion, the contradictions between the BRI countries - the COP - Russia, China, India, Brazil, South Africa - and the centers of global monopoly capital, which have become aggravated in recent years, are not intrinsically inter-imperialist in nature. In relation to the material, technical, financial, economic, communication and propaganda, political and military might of global imperialism, even large and relatively developed countries of the BRI COP are in a different "weight category". The maximum that they can claim on the path of capitalist development is the status of "sub-imperialist" countries: global centers of transnational capital are ready to recognize behind them a limited "sphere of influence" only if they obey their true domination. But if for modern global imperialism it was only a matter of sharing super profits with the rulers of the Russian Federation as a raw material power and the PRC as a global "assembly shop", it is unlikely that he, especially taking into account the risks of the nuclear-missile age, would perceive these countries and their partners in the "third world" as a strategic adversary. The contradictions that arise between them are not analogous to what the imperialist powers shared between them, one hundred and eighty years ago, who competed and even fought among themselves in one "weight category", but rather by what existed then between the "reactionary imperialist West and the revolutionary nationalist East" (B Lenin), and later - between imperialism and the dependent periphery of the world capitalist system ("South", he is also the "third world").

In this regard, it is important to bear in mind that for the BRICS countries, even those developing along the capitalist path, it is characteristic to maintain a strong state capitalistic mode (with a core in the form of a defense-industrial complex) and a number of other "survivals" of socialism and / or anti-colonial movements. All this objectively hinders the growth of these countries into the global structure of imperialist domination, intensifies the interest of reaction in their complete submission, up to dismemberment and military occupation.

In all of this, it seems logical that the BRICS countries, especially China and Russia, converge with anti-imperialist orientation states (Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, Syria and others). For them, and to some extent and for the entire dependent periphery of the capitalist world, Russia and the PRC today are not acting as sources of imperialist expansion, but as a counterweight to the domination of real imperialism, as almost all, despite class limitations, allies of those who provide it resistance.

The shock force of imperialist reaction and aggression, as before, is fascism. The financial oligarchy is divided into two rival wings: the liberal-reformist and the far-right, gravitating towards fascism. Fascist organizations throughout the capitalist world since the Cold War form a single network, intertwined with the military machine of NATO and the special services of the US and their allies. It is no accident that in the conditions of the economic crisis and the aggravation of the international situation in most of the capitalist countries, there is a growing trend towards the rehabilitation of fascism and Nazism. The BRICS countries, especially the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China, are opposed by the historical tradition and today's interests, albeit with varying degrees of consistency, the revival and expansion of fascism. This creates another field of common interests between them and anti-imperialist forces.

What is the essence of the world conflict, capable, as it is now obvious, to put humanity on the brink of disaster?

I will express my own position. At the end of the 20th century, transnational private capital in terms of concentration and centralization (based, among other things, on new means of electronic communication) significantly outstripped the national state, both capitalist and socialist. But this concentration and centralization has not yet become a real socialization of production, at least capitalist. Global state-monopoly capitalism, if it is destined to arise, is still beyond the horizon. Transnational capital making a real claim to world domination is not so much occupied with creating a new structure of social production on a global scale, as with a fragile previous structure organized on a national or regional scale with an important or even leading role for the state.

This also explains the sad fact that resistance to neoliberalism is still generally defensive-conservative with a strong taste of neo-romanticism, neoloodism and "feudal socialism." This is apparently the logical result of the historical situation, when the new structure of social production with the corresponding socio-class relations has not yet developed, therefore, in the public consciousness there is no project of the future, and in the foreground is the protection of the perishing life that most do not see an adequate replacement.

Does this mean that the Communists need to take the same position that the Marxists took over centuries ago in relation to the Narodnik, Anarchist, etc.? attacks against capitalist development as such? The temptation to disagree today with conservative-romantic anti-capitalism, following the example of the classics, is great, emphasizing that the prospect of the progressive development of mankind can not be based on the forces and tendencies that are being destroyed by capitalism, but only on those that are created by it ...

But again - you can not enter the same waters twice. More specifically, to follow the example of the classics and put on this point are not allowed at least two circumstances.

First, socialism and / or state capitalism constitute the basis of the resistance forces for the aggressors, and the latter, mainly in the face of states that are not of the traditional capitalist type. Such state capitalism-no matter how raw, corrupt, so-and-so, is associated with early socialism and / or anti-colonial revolutions with a contradictory historical continuity similar to that seen by Tyutchev between the empire of Napoleon and the Jacobin Republic:

Son of the Revolution, you're with a terrible mother 
Joined bravely in battles - and exhausted in the fight. 
The fight is hopeless! Work is vain! 
You carried it all in yourself!

No attempts by the leader of the Russian Federation to dissociate himself from Lenin - very, very similar to Napoleon's similar attacks against his Jacobin past - can not abolish the fact that such kind of state capitalism objectively does not lend itself to "organic" integration into the system of transnational imperialism. He can only be absorbed by it through violent breakage. This is clearly demonstrated by the fate of Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and a number of other countries (even though these countries were earlier integrated into the world capitalist economy and politics much deeper than today's RF and PRC).

Hence the second cardinal circumstance: the destructive functions of transnational imperialism-especially with respect to large countries with nuclear weapons and a host of dangerous manufactures-are directly fraught with the "total loss of the fighting classes," the possibility of which was noted by Marx and Engels in the Manifesto of the Communist Party. We are dealing with the opposition not just of progress and reaction, but of life and death. It is natural that almost all the forces of destruction and destruction gathered in the camp of the aggressors, accumulated for the exploitative "prehistory of mankind": the slaughter of Nazis and clerics, anti-Semites and Zionists, drug mafia and neo-Makhachkina.

The struggle of life and death is ultimately engendered by the struggle of labor and capital, but it does not coincide with it. Capital is heterogeneous, especially since today it does not face the immediate threat of a socialist revolution, to which only a single class force can act. In general, there are always contradictions between different groups of the bourgeoisie, which must be taken into account. Today, these contradictions are not between "national" and "comprador" capital, but primarily between etatist and anti-statist. Etatist capital (from the French word "etat" - "state") is objectively interested in maintaining state regulation, anti-statistic - in its destruction. At the same time, statist capital can be - and, as a rule, it happens - no less than anti-statistic is interested in cooperation with transnational corporations. It can itself have the characteristics of a transnational corporation. Both of these, with the modern level of internationalization of social production, are simply a condition for the development of productive forces. To see "national treason" in any cooperation with transnational capital or the intrigues of "agents of influence" is more than naive. It is important what the conditions of cooperation are, what is the nature of state power, how it fits into the modern global struggle of life and death. To see "national treason" in any cooperation with transnational capital or the intrigues of "agents of influence" is more than naive. It is important what the conditions of cooperation are, what is the nature of state power, how it fits into the modern global struggle of life and death. To see "national treason" in any cooperation with transnational capital or the intrigues of "agents of influence" is more than naive. It is important what the conditions of cooperation are, what is the nature of state power, how it fits into the modern global struggle of life and death.

Let them not compare the proposed position with Gorbachev's "priority of universal values" in the name of "survival of mankind". Then, in the 80-ies, objectively there were two world public systems, and the Gorbachev approach meant the self-destruction of one of them. Today's situation is completely different. The closest parallel to it is a united front against fascism in the 30s - 40s. As at that time, the communist adherence to principle must not consist in "making a revolution" in the absence of conditions for it and in spite of the general anti-fascist struggle, but in making the maximum for victory in this struggle.

So today I see no other way for the Communists, except confrontation with the forces of death - until victory (I would like to believe in it), or at least until the monster runs out of poison. In the future, other tasks will arise; in what order and under what conditions they will have to be solved - let's see, or rather, look at our descendants. Now it is important that this future be and these descendants were.