Living The Dream during Trump’s Trade War

In this episode of Living The Dream Dave (@withsobersenses) tries to start an analysis of the Trump administration’s trade and tariff policy. Why has the Australian Left been so paralysed over this question? What sense can we make of it? How do we understand the policies of the state in the broader dynamics of world capitalism?

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 Stuff mentioned includes:

U.S. Admits That Politics Was Behind Steel Tariffs(not a Brazilian paper but a US paper reporting on US representatives talking to Brazilian business leaders)

Marx and Engles on Free Trade

Midnight Notes Collective – Introduction to The New Enclosures

II Rubin – A History of Economic Thought

Music by the Levon Helm Band

5 thoughts on “Living The Dream during Trump’s Trade War

Add yours

  1. Hi Dave,
    An Australian living overseas here, just chiming to say thanks for putting this podcast together – it’s damned good stuff! You might not have realized that, in addition to its many more substantive virtues, the podcast also has the great benefit of offering expatriate aussies a chance to hear people discussing radical politics in Australian accents on a regular basis. That’s a great gift to the world, comrade.

    So – many thanks!

  2. Hi Dave,

    I thought I’d offer some thoughts once more seeing as you’re asking for other opinions on what protectionism could mean today.

    I think first and foremost, protectionism is an effort by the American bourgeoisie to defend it’s national capital. I think it’s clear that the rate of exploitation of labour-power in China has been at a much higher rate than America (for some time now, evidently), and subsequently it presents a threat to the American bourgeoisie. I think specifically that this demand for protectionism, like what you mentioned with elements of the left, is a demand for the defence of the petite-bourgeois and it’s inevitable expropriation by large capital. We’re seeing the same stuff today in Australia – small business tax cuts in 2016 (which barely increased wages by 3%, proving Marx right once more!) in an attempt to protect the petite bourgeoisie from large capital. We’re emerging from a historical period where small businesses are increasingly threatened, especially with threats like the tendency for the rate of profit to fall – which they feel more acutely than that of large capital.

    I think its also, as you noted with the Left’s paralysation, an example of how little the contemporary left can grapple with this problem. I think this should be expected of the Left, what with the ebb and flow of the counter-revolution and the Russian bourgeois state dominating any class struggle. The Left is paralysed by this question because they merely attempt to defend the expropriation of the petite bourgeoisie by Capital – as you noted with the Left’s obsession with protectionism.

    This is extremely evident with groups like the Victorian Socialists (and the CFMEU, as you mentioned). The former promises to reverse privatization if it gets into parliament and create free public transport. Any committed Marxist understands how doomed these demands; parliamentary politics, where class struggles go to die, incorporation of existing struggles into the Australian bourgeois state thereby blunting any further development of the Communist movement. Instead of trying to show (by means of actual struggle and theoretical clarification)the absolute necessity to overcome private property – they attempt to compromise with Capital. Not only that, these individuals are lying to the Australian proletariat (or maybe they simply don’t understand) about these aims being achievable and lead existing struggles to failure – they also clutter an understanding of the Capitalist mode of production and how to overcome it (as you also talk about, in one of your writings on the labor party). The tactics of these sects doom the development of existing struggles.

    I’d also like to link a series of texts to you – I think you would appreciate it because it discusses concrete politics today and tactics that we can utilize to develop the Australian labor movement:

    I think Capital’s valorization is becoming increasingly difficult and these measures by Trump and other participants of bourgeois politics are an example of that.

    Sorry if my thoughts are a little jumbled here, or my comment isn’t making much sense – I’m pretty tired at the moment but am interested to see your reply. Maybe I’ll write some more tomorrow and try better clarify what I mean with these left-wing groups.

    Hope your Saturday is going well.

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