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Chapter 6 Class Struggle, Political Power, and the Capitalist State
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The Internalization of Internationalization

The formation of multinational production units transforms the articulation of multinational monopoly and national competitive capitalism within each of the industrialized social formations. Competitive or non-monopoly capital remains subordinated to monopoly capital as before, but it is now qualitatively transformed and integrated into a multinational mode of production. The closure of the gaps, within monopoly capitalism, between economic ownership and possession and between


the powers deriving from economic ownership produces an ongoing loss of powers of possession by non-monopoly capital. Indeed, Poulantzas goes so far as to maintain that behind the facade of independent ownership, the very boundaries of non-monopoly capital, that is, the forms of its enterprises and production units, are being dissolved progressively.

Non-monopoly capital loses effective control and direction of its labor process as multinational monopoly capital imposes standardization of basic products and norms of work organization. The dependence of non-monopoly capital on monopoly capital is introduced through patents and licenses controlled by the latter, through the subjection of non-monopoly capital to a social division of labor that confines it to sectors with a low level of productivity and inferior technology, and through limited margins for self-financing of non-monopoly capital. The revival of small-scale businesses, from professional services to skilled craft-work and sweatshop manufacturing, during the restructuring of the eighties confirms Poulantzas's views on this point. As multinational monopoly capital seeks to shift the burden of the crisis onto others and retain maximum flexibility for itself, there has been a marked increase in the subcontracting of skilled as well as unskilled tasks and an increased reliance on a temporary, part-time, or subcontracted labor force. Such businesses are neither atavistic nor autonomous; they are marching to the beat of multinational monopoly capitalism and the rhythms of its expanded reproduction. Far from becoming disorganized, as critics of Poulantzas might suggest, capitalism is becoming more organized precisely as Poulantzas predicted. The "creative destruction" being experienced by contemporary capitalism is in actuality a Gleichschaltung reflecting the newly emerged hegemony of multinational capital.[9]

The internationalization of monopoly capitalism has restructured class relations and political power within the industrial capitalist metropolises themselves. The concentration of effective economic ownership into the hands of monopoly capital and the dependence of non-monopoly capital has not produced serious antagonism between these two fractions of the capitalist class. This result is not really surprising, Poulantzas argues, because there is no class split between these fractions of the bourgeoisie: relations of domination that might divide the class fractions are structured by global relations of exploitation that unite them. The principal contradiction within the multinational mode of production remains the antagonism of capital as a whole and labor as a whole. Instead of a growing antagonism between monopoly and


non-monopoly capital, we find non-monopoly capital declining as a social force. Instead of resisting its subordination to the new global division of labor, non-monopoly capital is internalizing it, becoming an integral part of the "induced reproduction" of the political and economic conditions of its own subordination.

As the dominance of the global economy is forcing an economic restructuring of national capital, so class structures and domestic politics are being reorganized by the dissolution effects of the global economy on the national autonomy of advanced capitalist states. International integration has eliminated national imperialist rivalries to the extent that Poulantzas feels it is no longer appropriate to speak of contradictions between imperialisms but only of contradictions within a single imperialist chain. The international division of labor cuts across the various fractions of capital within each national social formation and redefines older class divisions, rendering terms like foreign and indigenous capital irrelevant. The political result, unevenly developed but unmistakable, has been for international capital to increasingly dominate national politics "from within." Poulantzas argues that the "national" bourgeoisies of the metropoles are being transformed from relatively autonomous class fractions into "domestic" bourgeoisies bound by multiple ties of dependence to an international division of labor and an international concentration of capital that they do not control.

Although they possess their own economic foundation and base of capital accumulation and thus cannot be confused with a comprador class fraction, the domestic bourgeoisies of the First World are becoming integrated with and dependent on international capital and have politically internalized their place and function within the global economy. By means of this process, which I call "the internalization of internationalization," the hegemony of multinational capital within the power blocs of the imperialist powers is organized and the interests of multinational capital projected as the common interests of the bourgeoisie as a whole. National party politics, that is, the political scene within each of the industrial capitalist states, is being rapidly restructured to reflect this change in the power bloc. National parties across the entire political spectrum are suddenly no longer amenable to the class compromises of the Fordist-Keynesian welfare state and instead declare themselves fully prepared to endorse a massive shift of resources from the public sector of the economy to the internationally oriented private sector and equally prepared to tolerate, if not actually endorse, a comprehensive attack on the standard of living of the working class as well as political attacks on its real or imagined allies.


The internalization of the internationalization of monopoly capital explains not only the economic and political restructuring of the advanced capitalist metropolises but also the transformation of dependent development in the Third World as well. In contrast to the dependency theory that predominated in the seventies, Poulantzas insists that the extension and consolidation of monopoly capitalism in the metropoles initiates and advances the dissolution of the "town and country" relationship between metropole and periphery. In other words, capitalist development in the periphery, which begins with the forced implantation of capitalism in pre-capitalist social formations and which is articulated with imperialist capital in a relationship of dependency, nevertheless advances steadily and with growing autonomy within the context of the uneven development of the imperialist chain as a whole. Similarly, national independence movements in the Third World emerge with a national bourgeoisie capable of competing with the comprador bourgeois class fraction for hegemony within the power bloc of colonial politics and capable of allying with the popular classes in an anti-imperialist alliance.

However, the national bourgeoisie in the Third World never approaches a degree of autonomy comparable to that of its counterpart in the imperialist metropoles since its economic base develops within limits set by the international division of labor and dependent development. Thus from the moment of national independence, if not before, this class fraction is hardly distinguishable from a domestic bourgeoisie. Still, the emergence of a domestic bourgeoisie in the periphery is a development of major significance, and not only because it is a step up from comprador status. In conjunction with the transformation of the national bourgeoisie into a domestic bourgeoisie in the First World, the transition from a predominantly national to a predominantly international capitalist mode of production has clearly initiated a process of leveling and integration whose final outcome may be the elimination of the core-periphery distinction altogether.

It is precisely this convergence that justifies Poulantzas's claim that the principal contradiction within the imperialist chain is always between the bourgeoisie as a whole and the working class as a whole. The particular contradictions within the dominant classes and fractions always depend on this principal contradiction as do particular relations of exploitation between capital and any given segment of the working class. Accumulation crises are the direct expression of the ongoing struggles of the working class against exploitation, while economic re-


structuring and its political aftershocks are, in the last instance, simply the response by the bourgeoisie to the struggles of the working class. However much it offends delicate postmodern, post-Marxist sensibilities, Poulantzas is only stating the obvious in reminding us that "the extended reproduction of capital is nothing other than the class struggle, the contradictions within the dominant classes and fractions being only the effects, within the power bloc, of the principal contradiction" (Poulantzas 1975, 107).

If Poulantzas is to be faulted, I believe it is for failing to recognize a relative decline in the power of the United States and for continuing to interpret the internationalization and internalization of monopoly capitalism in the context of a single dominant state. Poulantzas, writing in the seventies, was understandably impressed with the internalization of American hegemony in Western Europe and the global predominance of American capital in the internationalization process. Without attempting to decide the question of American decline here (that is, without attempting to distinguish the current problems of the United States as a national social formation from the massive power of American-based international capital and the enormous significance of the American market for the global capitalist economy), I would suggest that where Poulantzas sees the ongoing predominance of the United States as a nation , it might better speak of the predominance of multinational capital increasingly removed from national identifications and constraints. Such a formulation, it seems to me, is more consistent with Poulantzas's own analysis of global integration and the internationalization of social classes.

This said, Poulantzas is by no means incorrect to continue to insist on the crucial significance of the nation-state for contemporary capitalism. The internationalization of monopoly capital and its political internalization do not mean that the nation-state has been superseded, suppressed, or bypassed. The process of internationalization has hitherto been effected under the dominance of capital still associated with a definite national base, and the national state remains, despite the considerable degree of regional restructuring that is occurring, the relevant unit of both international and domestic politics. The national state is not merely a tool or instrument of the dominant classes to be manipulated at will, nor is the relationship between economic internationalization and political internalization such that every step toward a global economy necessitates a parallel step toward political "supranationalization." Indeed, Poulantzas himself explains why this is not the case.


By including the political and institutional forms of nation-states in systems of interconnections no longer confined to the play of external and mutual pressures among juxtaposed states and capitals, Poulantzas demonstrates how the global economy has dramatically affected these forms. His concepts of a domestic bourgeoisie and induced representation explain how the power bloc and political scene are restructured in such a way that the states themselves take charge of the interests of the now dominant imperialist capital and its development within the national social formation. The process of internalization is not without its own contradictions, however, and it is to these that we now turn.

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