Forwarded from John Gulick

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Tue Dec 11 17:46:45 MST 2001

(For John's information and anybody else who would like to post to
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Hey Louis, would you post this reply to the Marxism List ? I check
out the archives quite frequently but don't subscribe b/c my e-mail
application would be overwhelmed if I did.

Thanks, John Gulick

Louis Proyect wrote:

"Although Donal is correct that inter-imperialist rivalries have not
been eliminated, they are in fact not what is tearing apart the world
today. You might even conclude that the whole story of world politics
since WWII is the displacement of inter-imperialist rivalries into
core-periphery struggles ... Whether inter-imperialist rivalries will
re-emerge once again is an interesting question, but it seems that we
are not facing another 1914 in the immediate future."

I now write:

It seems that in the current world-historical moment, there are two
important cases which test whether the political fault lines of
contemporary imperialism are principally between the advanced
capitalist states or principally a North-South affair. I can't say I
have the theoretical or empirical chutzpah to adjudicate the cases,
but at least I can introduce the issues.

1) Diplomatic and military alliances (or lack thereof) regarding
conduct of US war in Central Asia (and beyond). The
"ultra-imperialism" hypothesis might suggest that the Pentagon and
the State Department are acting on behalf of a collection of national
capitalist classes, even on behalf of a proto-global ruling class.
Yes or no ? EU is nervous about the U.S. extending the war to Iraq,
Somalia, South Yemen, etc. Russia is opposed to a "regionally and
ethnically balanced" successor regime in Afghanistan; it wants C.
Asian natural gas pipelines to head northwesterly, not southward.
Japan, I don't know. China, gives lip service to "war against
terrorism," its ruling class and development model is predicated (for
now) on a reconciliation with world capitalism, but latent
geo-political tensions with Japan, with the U.S., have hardly died
out. And then there's the most glaringly obvious fact: big bully U.S.
talks up "international cooperation," then mouths "you're with us or
against us," snubs Kyoto Protocol, ABM treaty, chemical warfare
convention, etc. Hardly fits the model of rational long-term global
capitalist management, a la "ultra-imperialism" hypothesis. Of
course, this begs the question: is this just big power geopolitics,
divorced from the interpenetration of core financial and industrial
capitals globally ? I would contend that as long as the world is
split into multiple political jurisdictions, to which blocs of
(national) capital can rally for protection, favor, bail-outs, etc.,
especially in times of slump and crisis, the "ultra-imperialism"
hypothesis holds little water. Which leads us to ...

2) Present situtation of world economic stagnation. (National)
capitals turn willy-nilly to "home" states for debt write-off,
subsidised restructuring, trade protection, etc. Case in point right
now is the U.S., hypothetical the big power most committed to global
neo-liberalism, propping up a steel industry (USX, etc.) in its dying
days. There are dozens of other examples that I'm sure others on this
list can come up with. Even with putative neo-liberals in power,
Japan won't press its ailing banks to the wall (which would
hypothetically stimulate effective demand in the world economy over
the long haul), another example.

Even though the North-South gap, measured in a myriad of ways, is
deteriorating decade-by-decade, this objective reality does not mean
that a _political_ contradiction of world capitalism -- intra-North
rivalry -- is a dead issue. And because liberation movements in the
South are prostrate in a post-Soviet era (as Louis points out,
although he draws different conclusions), it is much harder for the
worsening North-South situtation (economically, ecologically, etc.)
to translate into an viable _political_ contradiction.

John Gulick

Louis Proyect, lnp3 at on 12/11/2001

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