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Re: Race to the Bottom?
by Carl Dassbach
14 November 2003 17:29 UTC
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Maybe its the other way around - the US is leading the race to the bottom.
.  There is a concept , I believe coined by Gershonken (sp?), called the
"advantage of backwardness" - namely, the poorer the country, the higher the
rates of gain - as is clearly demonstrated in China.  Perhaps we need a
corollary, the "disadvantage of being on top" - namely, the further up
(richer) you are (as a nation), the further and faster you can fall.  Isn't
this why no hegemony is permanent and, more importantly, many former
hegemonic powers are in a sad state for at least the first 50 or 100 years
of being a non-hegemon.

Theoretically, it is unimportant who is at the bottom (or even knowing what
being at the bottom means).  What is important is that the world economy
undergoes "combined and uneven development" and that the world economy will
always be - I would venture to say even under "socialism" or a "world
government" - unequal.  What changes over time is who occupies the positions
of hegemony. core, periphery and semi-periphery.

It seems to be to be beyond a doubt that we are witnessing American
decline - the "short" 20th c. as opposed to the "long" 20th c.  Obviously,
this is not a smooth, linear or painless process.  It moves in fits and
starts and it causes all types of social, economic and political
dislocations but one that would appear to be - given the history of the
world economy - inevitable.

Carl Dassbach

> I'm wary of the image of the 'race to the bottom' peddled by the American
left.  It does not conform with the reality of increasing numbers of Chinese
and Indian workers being able to afford some of the basic commodities of the
contemporary world as manufacturing and services are shifted there.
Furthermore, economic growth is likely to strengthen the hand of those
countries to play a geopolitical role in the new century. It is difficult to
see how, in the context of an integrated world economy, manufacturing is to
be maintained in the US. The US has a lot of money, if it had the political
will, to ease this transition.  Free trade pacts pit workers against one
another, but so do protectionist measures of the sort often advocated by the
more powerful American unions or, for that matter, George Bush, who has not
yet negotiated a free trade pact of any importance, but has signed bills
protecting the American steel industry and subsidizing US agriculture.
> Steven Sherman

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