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Sam King

The starting point for Chinese technological development is essentially the same as for any other Third World society – relative scientific underdevelopment in most areas compared to the rich, imperialist countries. Lack of basic research and scientific knowledge (at least outside of the military sphere) is proving to be an insurmountable obstacle to Chinese attempts to upgrade the technological level of its production processes. Even designated priority areas, such as the Chinese-built midsize passenger airliner, the C919, demonstrate the extreme limitations and dependency of Chinese high-technology production. The so-called trade war has also shone a light on severe Chinese weakness in what is perhaps the key strategic technology today – microchips. While China produces some microchips domestically, these are not the high-end chips needed to manufacture advanced products, such as Huawei’s top-shelf phones or top-of-the-line 5G telecommunications infrastructure. The trade war has further uncovered China’s inability to respond to US aggression with any technology bans of its own – as might be expected if China were the rising technological power house that so many commentators appear to believe. The historical transition from British hegemony to German power and then US hegemony was associated with the independent development in those countries of revolutionary new technological advances. There appears to be no such technological leadership associated with contemporary China despite for several decades now being the largest producer of and market for many important goods and services.

in Imperialism and the development myth
Abstract only
Sam King

The neoliberal period reconfirmed global polarisation between rich and poor societies. It made the central mechanism of Third World exploitation explicit – unequal exchange in trade. Hence, it has been possible to arrive at a simple and empirically verifiable outline of the economic foundation of contemporary imperialism. Marxists long contended there is no satisfactory application of Marx’s law of value to the international economy, nor a contemporary Marxist theory of imperialism. Few imagined what the neoliberal period proved: the resolution of both theoretical problems lay in the fusion of Marx’s law of value with Lenin’s theory of monopoly finance capital. The resulting concept of non-monopoly capital and elaboration of its role and relationship to monopoly capital flows from Lenin’s work. As capitalist property, monopolies ultimately rely on commodity production for the market and hence can never create a world where all production is monopolised. In the neoliberal period non-monopoly capitalist production was expanded, integrated into the global division of labour and drawn into a world market dominated by the monopolies. Differentiating between monopoly and non-monopoly is superior to other explanations of global polarisation because it simultaneously explains the forms of development of production in the Third World, the different dynamic in the imperialist world and the relationship between the two poles. That is, it characterises Third World and imperialist economies with reference to the inner life of their own societies. At the same time it explains the conditioning of those economies and societies by their situation in imperialist capitalism as whole.

in Imperialism and the development myth