[OPE-L:8489] Re: Socialism and War

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Thu Feb 20 2003 - 09:52:08 EST

Re Cyrus's [8481]:

You've given us a lot to think about. Some comments and questions.

1)  petrodollar recycling

You did *not* mention what has recently been called an "oil CURRENCY
war" .  Specifically, you didn't refer to the pricing of oil in dollars and
Euros,  or "petrodollar recycling"  or Spiro's argument (see Rakesh's
[8452]  for  summary).   This leads me to ask:  what is your perspective
on the *relative importance* of these factors in the current conflict
(especially  the conflict between perceived US imperial interests and those
of France and Germany)?

2) cartels and monopolies

> Globalization of oil also reshaped OPEC in terms of a
> rent collecting agency in its present configuration (see, "Limits of OPEC
> Pricing: OPEC Profits and the Nature of Global Oil Accumulation," OPEC
> Review, Vol. 14 (1), Spring 1990).  Hence, the oil crisis of 1973-74
> reflectively laid the cornerstone of the globalization of oil and nailed
> the coffin of Seven Sisters for good.  The era of post-cartelization had
> begun.
> At the time, I thought that only neoclassical economists and fools would
> speak of oil cartel and cartelization; only neoclassical economists and
> fools would venture to call OPEC a monopoly.

You write elsewhere that 'pure' or 'perfect competition' is a fiction from
neoclassical economics that is not shared by Marxian or Schumpeterian
understandings of competition.  I agree with you.  Yet, isn't the meaning
of monopoly in Marxian theory also different from the meaning of 'pure
monopoly' in neoclassical literature?   Similarly, should  we only use
the term cartel if it is a 'pure' cartel?   If we did that,  how many
cartels  (which were viewed by Lenin as "one of the foundations of the
whole of economic life"  once capitalism had entered its imperialist
phase) would be left in the world?    I am not making the case here that
OPEC is a cartel, only that we need to think of cartels in ways that
include what might be called 'quasi-cartels' or 'unstable cartels' or
even 'divided cartels'.  This is important because cartels, by their very
nature, tend to be unstable and transitory.

3) the 'nostalgic' drive to recapture lost hegemony

>  The doctrine of  preemption and its systematic practice, on the
> other hand, is the reflection  of the fact that the bully not only
> lost its old place (that is why there is  such a haste in destruction)
> but also does not wish to settle for an ordinary place like everybody
> else, so to speak.  Would you call this  hegemony? On the contrary,
> I would argue that these trigger happy positions
> are as the result of the US appreciable weakness, not its strength.  These
> postures are none other than sorry gestures against the lost hegemony.  It
> is within this historical context that the question of OIL can be properly
> studied and analyzed.  Oil is globalized and operate under the regulation
> of  market, which a part and parcel of the era of globalization.  In this
> sense,   speaking of going to war for oil is untenable.  The question must
> be  properly focused on the wholesale reaction of the US government
> against  the  lost hegemony.  Therefore, nostalgic act of conquest and
> control will  remain  as major motivation.  This motivation is, in my
> opinion, thousand  time more  dangerous than "blood for oil."  Because
> "blood for oil" hugely  underestimates the potency of this systematic
> position on the part of the  United States.  Indeed, attributing this to
> oil  amount to a small potato.   Once the weight of real US motivation
> is  measured, then the question of  oil   in Iraq is easy.  How?  One has
> to  look at the transformation of oil and  formation of differential oil
> rents,  a part of which falls into the Iraqi  economy.   Appropriation of
> this  rent (differential oil rent) is not the  END, it is the by product
> of  bloody  search for the lost hegemony

In reading the above, I was reminded of similar nationalistic 'nostalgic'
campaigns to recapture lost glories by imperial powers  including:

*   Nazi Germany
*   Italy under Mussolini
*   Spain under Franco

Did you intend such analogies?    Do you see the US 'nostalgia' to
regain hegemony as fundamentally similar to these previous historic
experiences?  Is this fundamentally different from other wars which
are imperialistic (Lenin: "that is, an annexationist, predatory,
plunderous war")?

Solidarity, Jerry

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