Social Economy: The Logic of Capitalist Development

By Clark Everling | Go to book overview

5

THE POSTWAR SYSTEM AGAINST ITSELF

During the first half of the twentieth century, monopoly corporations created themselves as the condition for national production. But their maintenance of themselves as monopolies, and their management of the finance capital which arose from their activities, created stagnant conditions for investment within themselves, and the requirement that they search for profits beyond their national limits. By the end of the Second World War, these monopoly corporations represented both the primary sources of national investment and employment, and the unwillingness to supply either sufficiently without political and social relations which would enable them to move capital and compete within an interimperialist sphere of investment. Fiscal relations of government which were limited to the reproduction of capitalist employment and consumption satisfied these requirements. So, too, did the emergence of a cooperative model of trade unionism, private income-based consumption, reliance upon exports as the source of expansion, and the dominance of the dollar as the standard of international exchange; and the melding of all of these into an international relation of wages and productivity which supplied both the socio-political conditions compatible with capitalist investment and employment, and the ability to develop production at any location within this sphere.

But even as all these conditions were realized, they were in the process of moving toward their opposites. All together they created an international relation of capitalist production primarily through the US corporations which increasingly defined themselves against the conditions of national social and economic development. As early as 1947, Robert Triffin summarized the opposition inherent in international exchange on this basis in his famous paradox. Triffin observed that the position of the US as the most powerful nation could only be preserved among its trading partners if it supplied dollars in sufficient amounts to enable them to continue to trade. But this meant paradoxically that the US position as the most powerful nation would simultaneously be undermined because the maintenance of a sufficient supply of dollars in

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