[OPE-L:8491] Re: On War

From: Cyrus Bina (binac@mrs.umn.edu)
Date: Thu Feb 20 2003 - 20:14:34 EST

Dear Doug,

Hope all is well with you.  I appreciate putting my piece on your lbo-talk.
Copyright is not a first-order question at all.  The main point is
conversation and clarification.  The issue of war and American lost hegemony
is now more apparent than the first Persian Gulf War (1990-91).  The
question of building the so-called collision was flimsy then, but it is
farce now.  The question of NATO was in the undercurrent then, but it is in
the open now.

What kind of "inter-state" system (I mean in a sense of global polity) in
place now?  In a structured and accepted sense of the term?  None.  What
kind of system (I mean in a fully fledged sense that involves the economy,
polity, and the entire global social relations) is tendentially demanded in
historical sense?  A system with no hegemony on the part of any one
nation-state.  Why?  Because of the evolution of social relations leading to
hegemony of "social capital."

In order to see this evolution one has to simply look at the past
(international) system of Pax Britannica and its physical access to things
(direct system of plunder and direct administration) via classical (naked)
colonialism.  This system was imploded prior to world War I (1914-1918) and,
after a period of chaos and confusion, another bloody war (WWII, 1939-1945),
replaced by a US-dominated "inter-state system, called the Pax Americana.
It should be realized that after the DEATH of Pax Britannica in the early
20th century, there was still quarrel over the nationalization of oil in
Iran (1951) and a character(Winston Churchill) dragged himself from the
graveyard of 19th century in order to stand against a 20th century elected
premier (Mohammad Mossadegh) in order to preserve British colonial interests
in Iran.  As you can see, the Pax Britannica died yet its stinking corpse
has to be endured and berried by Gandhi and Mossadegh several decades later.
This new system, in many respects, was opposite of what naked colonialism
was all about: it mission was the spread of social relations of CAPITAL and
its rhetoric was "democracy." It wanted to re-create the world after its own
image.  It re-created the world all right but in its view of itself in
words, and in its own fractured image in deeds. Yet, historically, the Pax
Americana has changed the world in a irreversible manner.  It spread the
social relations of CAPITAL unevenly to all four corners of the world.  One
of the vehicles of these undertakings was the imposition of land reform
programs in many of the "Third World" countries under its hegemony.

Speaking of hegemony, US hegemony was the result of the hegemony of the Pax
Americana, like the hegemony of England (this little island!) was depended
upon the hegemony of the Empire itself.  It would be a mistake to identify
the United State with the Pax Americana itself.  Now, one of the significant
differences between these two "empires" is in direct versus indirect conduct
of their affairs.  When I speak of conduction the affairs, one should
attribute to voluntarism.  This goes back to the characteristics of these
two historical systems.  Why the naked force of colonialism could not be
effective?  Because it was no longer historically acceptable.  Why the
"middle ground" system of Pax Americana went out business (roughly between
mid- to late 1970s)?  Because of the unintended forces of globalization (I
do not mean corporate globalization).  With the system gone, speaking of
hegemony is rubbish.  When one speaks of "American Power," one also needs to
know its limits.  I haven't read Chomsky's text, therefore, I do not wish to
make any comment about him at the moment.

With all good wishes,

(Thursday night, February 20, 2003)

Cyrus Bina, P.D.
Professor of Economics and Management
University of Minnesota
Morris, MN 56267
Phone: (320) 589-6193
Fax:     (320) 589-6117
E-mail: binac@mrs.umn.edu

----- Original Message -----
From: "Doug Henwood" <dhenwood@panix.com>
To: <rakeshb@stanford.edu>; "Cyrus Bina" <binac@mrs.umn.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, February 19, 2003 9:00 PM
Subject: Re: On War

> rakeshb@stanford.edu wrote:
> >  >
> >Dear Cyrus,
> >As you must know, anything insightful I had to say on OPE-L in response
> >to George Caffentzis was merely my attempt to restate what you have
> >taught me. Doug Henwood fwd your analysis to his lbo-talk list but did
> >not include the copyright though he is of course justly sympathetic to
> >the copyright concerns of writers and journalists.
> I'm sorry about that. I stripped away some headers & footers &
> cleaned up the formatting. I didn't mean to clip away the copyright;
> I'll post a correction.
> >  He finds your
> >argument generally persuasive esp in regards to the critique of
> >administered pricing but believes that you downplay US power (it's
> >important that we follow your lead in clarifying our varying conceptions
> >of hegemony if we are to have a clear debate about whether US hegemony
> >has declined) and that you underestimate how control of oil will give US
> >power over rivals. I don't know what exactly Doug means by the
> >latter--that the US will use up scarce Arab oil supplies all by itself
> >and then starve Europe and China of the oil which they need?!?
> The potential for blockade. This is Chomsky's line, and I think it's
> persuasive.
> >  I can't
> >believe that Doug as opposed to former pen-l contributor Mark Jones
> >believes that this is the power which the US is playing for, but then
> >I'm not clear as to what he is saying. Certainly inter-imperialist
> >rivalry is not occluded in your analysis--so I don't see how you ignore
> >that.
> I meant that it wasn't discussed; it's not incompatible with Cyrus'
> economic analysis, which I completely agree with.
> Doug

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