Strategic Sabotage: Empirical Examples?

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Re: Strategic Sabotage: Empirical Examples?

Postby DanielRose » Thu Dec 11, 2008 12:47 pm

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Re: Strategic Sabotage: Empirical Examples?

Postby marion » Thu Dec 11, 2008 5:04 pm

What about the demise of the electric car, which was documented in Who Killed the Electric Car? (see .

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Re: Strategic Sabotage: Empirical Examples?

Postby Aaron_Muchelle » Sun Dec 14, 2008 8:45 pm

The problem with micro-level examples of strategic sabotage is that such a minute level of analysis was unintended by Veblen. In most of his work, especially On the Nature of Capital I & II and Engineers and the Price System, he talks about the all encompassing nature capital and business and glances over any sort of micro-level analysis.

Jerry Simich in Thorstein Veblen: a Reference Guide makes this point very eloquently.

Following this, the most important (macro) example of strategic sabotage may be found in Breaking the Dualism of 'Economics' and 'Politics' by Nitzan & Bichler in their graphing of the U.S. unemployment rate in relation to capital income (as a % of National Income).

I have done the same sort of analysis for the United Kingdom dating from 1920 - 2008 and, astonishingly, have found the same results. The data concentrate in the top-left corner of the graph. Such a quantitative evidence, I argue, offers more insight into the functioning of strategic sabotage that qualitative evidence.

For strategic sabotage to be further substantiated, it is vital that the theory is applicable to all economies regardless of the pattern of development, their location in political economic development (i.e. 1st world, 2nd world, 3rd world et cetera), their culture, their religion, their geographical location and so on. Strategic Sabotage knows no boundaries such as those aforementioned and, if the theory is to be proven, these post-modern boundaries ought to be for naught in the study political economy. These post-modern (de)constructions are, at the best of times, distractions and, at the worst of times, hazardous.

I have attached the graph I have made for the UK as reference.

The data were found in the following texts:
Dye, J., Sasomi, J (1942 - 2007). UK National Accounts - 'The Blue Book'. London, Palgrave: MacMillan (In Print and Online at: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/StatBase/T ... 1&Rank=272).

Feinstein, C. (1972). National Income, Expenditure, and Output of the UK 1855 - 1965. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Routh, G. (1987). Occupations of the People of Great Britain 1801 - 1981. London, Palgrave: MacMillan.
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Re: Strategic Sabotage: Empirical Examples?

Postby sanha926 » Sun Dec 14, 2008 11:37 pm

It's amazing how the data for the UK mirror those collected by B&N for the US. Thanks for sharing this with us, Aaron.

Perhaps the 'problem' with the micro-examples presented thus far is not that they misrepresent Veblen's original intentions (after all, how many of us are tired of discussing 'What Marx really meant'?), but more so that they overlook the fact that sabotage is inherent in the day-to-day normal operations in capitalism. This point was to a certain degree made by Tim who made the distinction between strategic sabotage and sabotage in general.

Nevertheless, Matthew Josephson's brilliant analysis of the rise of corporate capitalism in the 19th century US reminds us of the centrality of such micro level instances of strategic sabotage, particularly for solidifying the power of figures such as Vanderbilt & Morgan.
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Re: Strategic Sabotage: Empirical Examples?

Postby DanielRose » Mon Dec 15, 2008 1:45 am

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Re: Strategic Sabotage: Empirical Examples?

Postby dtcochrane » Mon Dec 15, 2008 8:00 am

Hi Aaron,
I think that locating actual examples of strategic sabotage backs up the macro level claim.

Your chart got me curious about Canada. I was fairly certain that Canada would match fairly closely with the US. The data I used is from historical data for 1926-1975 (1926-1944 unemployment figures were interpellated from another source) and was too lazy to get the 1976-2007 data, so this is not quite complete.
Strategic Sabotage.jpg
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Re: Strategic Sabotage: Empirical Examples?

Postby Aaron_Muchelle » Mon Dec 15, 2008 10:04 am

Troy, thanks for the graph on Canada. I'm working on a graph for the EU6 and EU15, but finding comparable data is difficult as EuroStat in Luxembourg is not the most organised institution, surprisingly.

The issue I find with micro-level, other than the problem of universality mentioned by sanha926, is their lack of quantitative analysis. If one is unable to quantify, measure and observe - concretely - the act of strategic sabotage, then, albeit bluntly, one has to face the question: what's the point?

Along with this comes another problem: a purely qualitative analysis is unable to pin-point the determining variables at play. Thusly, whilst a qualitative analysis at a micro-level is important (as a secondary level of analysis), it is hindered by its assumption that everything is important and everything matters without pin-pointing, with any accuracy, the actual determining variables.

--
As an aside, I have just finished reading a very good book: Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur. It draws quantitative linkages between democratic populism and genocide.
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Re: Strategic Sabotage: Empirical Examples?

Postby sanha926 » Mon Dec 15, 2008 11:37 am

I agree with Aaron that the quantitative 'macro' level of strategic sabotage should be prioritized since it can after all give us an observable and precise measure of the interaction between business and industry, and that the 'micro' should be a secondary concern, with examples used to highlight and support the the more universal quantitative measure. Still, I'd be careful to outright dismiss any analysis that focuses on the qualitative micro-level examples.

This is why I mentioned Josephson, as his book on the rise of 19th century corporate capitalism (before quantitative measures of business/industry were readily available) still gives us what I consider to be one of the most important accounts of how strategic sabotage is used to consolidate ruling class power. Obviously in our time there's no excuse to focus narrowly on these qualitative aspects, when there's more or less readily available quantitative data at our disposal (I say more or less, because I've shared your pain in trying to wade through Eurostat data!).

Anyway, both Aaron's and Troy's graphs got me interested in the data on strategic sabotage outside the supposed 'Lockean Heartland', and I was able to find similar data for Japan (source: Japanese Cabinet Office, through Global Insight). I'd be interested in particular in hearing Gibin's and Sean's thoughts on this chart, as my knowledge of the Japanese case is very limited. At first glance, to me, the data seem to follow the pattern of the UK/Canadian cases, albeit less definitively.

Thoughts?
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Re: Strategic Sabotage: Empirical Examples?

Postby dtcochrane » Mon Dec 15, 2008 8:43 pm

I completed the Canadian figures. The results are even more dramatic.
Strategic Sabotage.jpg
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Last edited by dtcochrane on Mon Dec 15, 2008 8:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Strategic Sabotage: Empirical Examples?

Postby dtcochrane » Mon Dec 15, 2008 8:45 pm

In Japan the highest profits came with the lowest unemployment. That would seem to indicate that their greatest profitability was with 'full employment.'
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