[OPE-L:8485] Re: Re: Socialism and War

From: rakeshb@stanford.edu
Date: Wed Feb 19 2003 - 13:24:57 EST

re 8483


Is George's argument here that since oil is not only an inherently 
scarce commodity but also one which is geographically 
concentrated, it is not only possible but also relatively easy to 
control or tap its supply towards the end of earning *monopoly 
rent* at the expense of the world economy as a whole? 

That is, is the argument here that US oil companies intend to 
control again the supply and pricing decisions of oil in order to 
charge a *monopoly rent*? 

It also seems that by saying OPEC is a cartel--which is simply 
untrue--George is implying that OPEC is presently collecting a 
*monopoly rent* at the expense of everyone else. But I don't think 
George or the Midnight Collective has ever made any 
counter-argument against Cyrus' or Raffer &Singer's respective 

It seems that George's basic, albeit implicit, analytical category is 
*monopoly rent*, not differential rent as in Cyrus' analysis.  

For both of course (Marxian) absolute rent seems to play little role 
in their respective analyses. 

As a basic point, I think the Midnight Collective suffers from an 
extreme voluntarism in their analyses, such that actors are 
claimed to be able to exert their will on the world economy. This 
kind of analysis seems to suffer from a neglect of the basic 
Marxian idea of alienated practice through which the working class 
creates structures, e.g., the 'world market',  by which both they and 
their exploiters are dominated and the expression of their 
respective wills thereby frustrated. 

I have tended to agree with John Holloway's criticism of the 
voluntarism which has developed out of certain autonomist 
traditions. I think John has a finer analysis of the dialectics of 
subject and object. 

Yours, Rakesh

Quoting gerald_a_levy <gerald_a_levy@msn.com>:

> Last night I attended a talk by George Caffentzis on "Not Just 
> Blood for Oil: The Political Economy of the War Against
> Iraq" at ABC No Rio, a collectively-run center for art and 
> activism in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.  George is a 
> professor at the University of Southern Maine (the same school 
> as listrmember Bruce R) and is part of the Midnight Notes 
> Collective.   The talk was part of  a film and discussion series 
> at ABC No Rio called "Gulf Wars", presented by May Day 
> Books and the Films and Popcorn Collective.  (For more 
> information on other events in this series, see the calendar at
> http://www.abcnorio.org  ).
> The performance space where the talk was held was crowded
> with about seventy anti-war and anti-globalization activists who
> were energized by Saturday's demonstration.  There was 
> room only.   The large turnout occurred despite the fact that the 
> room was unheated and there was about 2 feet of snow on the 
> ground  outside.
> Despite the title of the talk, George defended the slogan "No 
> Blood for Oil".  A major part of his talk attempted to explain the
> connections between the anti-war movement and the anti-
> globalization movement.    He argued, contra Cyrus's argument,
> that OPEC is a cartel and that the US's war aim should be seen
> as part of the Neo-Liberal privatization agenda.  He argued, in 
> particular, that a goal was to reverse the nationalizations of the
> oil industry that have occurred in many countries.  
> The discussion afterwards was extraordinarily lively and 
> intelligent as the activists attempted to dialogue with George 
> and others about such topics as a class analysis of the anti-war
> movement (by, in part, discussing the differences in the 
> composition of the anti-globalization and anti-war movements)
> and the divisions internationally among capitalists about the
> US war plans.  A speaker from the floor asked about the 
> importance of the pricing of oil in Euros (which George
> didn't mention in his talk).   He seemed, at least to me, to
> downplay this factor and claimed instead that much of the
> tactical differences among governments were more related to
> what he claimed was a shift away from multilateralism and
> the use of the UN in the Clinton administration to the more
> unilateral tendencies of the Bush administration.  
> I'm afraid I can't do justice to Caffentzis's explanation here
> (and, indeed, the speaker himself had to abbreviate his 
> presentation to allow for more time for discussion).  However,
> I introduced myself to him afterwards and asked him if he
> had a fuller electronic version of his talk so that I could forward
> it to OPE-L for discussion.  He promised to send me a copy.
> Hopefully,  it will stimulate discussion here -- especially
> since it presents a quite different analysis than that suggested
> by Hans [8448],  Rakesh [8452], Cyrus [8481], and others.
> Solidarity, Jerry

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