[OPE-L:6871] Re: Re: Re: Re: Iraq

From: Paul Cockshott (paul@cockshott.com)
Date: Wed Apr 03 2002 - 09:35:53 EST

On Tue, 02 Apr 2002, you wrote:
> Dear Rakesh,
> Your very last observation about US reaction is very keen!  What you have
> pointed out about the concrete, day-to-day conditions of the United States,
> i.e., what it comes through the casual observation, might be very true.  For
> instance, an impasse in the Middle East is one of them.  However, I tend to
> believe that one has to treat the whole question of hegemony and
> effectiveness of socioeconomic institutions in a holistic manner and in a
> manner of continuity and (structural) change.  United States, as we know it,
> was a part of a system (and era) that is long gone.  We have inevitably
> entered into an era, that for the lack of better terms, is called: 'era of
> globalization.'  For serious political economists and radical socialists,
> this means a world submerged within the social relations of capital.
> Capital, as a social relation, has already gone beyond the traditional
> distinctions of 'the First, 'Second,' and  'Third World.'  I am not claiming
> that there is no distinction among these three entities, but to deny that
> there is any fundamental theoretical difference, other than the notion of
> uneven development among them.  

If one views things sufficiently abstractly all states are class societies,
to say that the whole world is submerged within the social relations
of capital is in anycase not true even at the economic level.
What proportion of the worlds working population are wage labourers?

It may by now be a majority but I would not even be sure of that.

But applied to politics it completely fails to grasp the reality of a world
where US military power is completely predominant since the fall of
the USSR. It is not capital in the abstract that is bombing Afganistan and
Iraq, but the airforce of a particular state.

> In this context, one has to look to the
> social relations as the ultimate hegemony.  Or, in the era of
> 'globalization,' capital ('social capital' in Marx's sense not Becker's!!)
> has a global hegemony.  This has some bearing on US position and behavior in
> a similar fashion as the implosion of the Pax Americana one did.  That is
> why, in my opinion, the irony of 'reaction' seems to be the best
> description.

> Best,
> Cyrus
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Rakesh Bhandari" <rakeshb@stanford.edu>
> To: <ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu>
> Sent: Tuesday, April 02, 2002 12:53 PM
> Subject: [OPE-L:6859] Re: Re: Iraq
> > In 6849 Cyrus writes:
> >
> >
> > >  US had hegemony as the
> > >apex of the post-war inter-state system of Pax Americana.  This system
> > >represented the organic whole of the imperialist as well as dominated
> > >('Third World') nations, which were a part and parcel of it.  For
> instance,
> > >Shah of Iran, Ferdinand Marcus of the Philippines, Somuza of Nicaragua,
> > >etc., etc., were as much as the part of this system as the United States.
> >
> > >The implosion of the Pax Americana was self-inflicted but unintentional.
> > >The evolution of global social relations of capitalism did the job for
> them.
> > >But it did it in an awkward manner, like the 'history' itself.  These
> > >commotions, therefore, (as I, repeatedly, argued in my many pieces
> before,
> > >see, for instance, my pieces in Arab Studies Quarterly, 1993 and 1995) is
> > >due to the lack of US acceptance of being without 'hegemony'
> >
> > Yet the dollar's role has world reserve currency has been
> > strenghtened which in turn allows its financial sector to enjoy
> > economies of scale and global competitive advantage; its military
> > stands alone in its ability at global projection;  and its singularly
> > vibrant market allows it to turn the threat of blocked access and
> > protectionism into concessions; it has maintained a strong position
> > in leading technologies (logic chips, software, medical equipment,
> > pharmaeuticals, high tech arms) and services (e.g., the global
> > position of Hollywood seems not to have weakened); despite its
> > massive debt, its debt remains denominated in its own currency, thus
> > reducing the risk of insolvency; it has been able to take advantage
> > of recessions in Japan and slow growth elsewhere in the form of cheap
> > raw materials, cheap consumer goods and cheap capital (the interest
> > payments of US corporations have grown much more slowly than their
> > actual debt load in the last ten years).
> >
> >
> > How has the US lost hegemony? Or how has the evolution of the global
> > social relation undermined any bid at hegemony (this is indeed a very
> > important hypothesis,  I believe)? And  I must also say that I find
> > it quite illuminating to think of US foreign policy as reactionary in
> > the precise sense that you articulate.
> >
> > All the best, Rakesh
> >
> >

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