Forwarded from John Gulick

Mark Jones mark.jones at
Wed Dec 12 07:59:58 MST 2001

John Gulick wrote:

>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.

I'm sure this is right: the ultra-imperialism theory is the same kautskyan
nonsense it always was. US imperial behaviour is predicated on the
presumption that it will meet resistance at ever level, from its major
'allies' to its most subordinate quislings. The existence of rival national
elites which share many aspects of a common and cosmopolitan culture and
which self-identify more in class than national terms, and that these
elites network and form a cohesive whole, living in a quite different moral
and material universe from the vast bulk of humankind, is not a new
phenomenon historically speaking. It is a common of the history many
empires and large regions, but does not overcome the more fundamental fact
of *rivalry* between elites and of the necessity to rule by subjugating as
well as    incorporating its potential and actual rivals. There is no sign
of the emergence of a single world elite, which would entail the creation
of a unified world government, a true world state with an absolute and
legal monopoly on the use of force. That does not exist and it cannot exist
under capitalism because the self-same dynamic which allows very powerful
and hegemonic imperial states like the USA to emerge, also creates regional
conflicts, geopolitical crises, and economic slumps which make it
impossible to create a 'universal napoleonic republic' of generalised
bourgeois law and right. The dynamic of crisis today, in the contemporary
incarnation of world-capitalism, shows that the crisis is systemic and
endemic and its symptoms are sharpening not diminishing. It is more true
now than when Lenin made this his central argument, that long before a
kautskyan 'super-imperialism' could create such a 'universal republic',
there will be systemic breakdonw, crises of international markets and
finance capital, and wars. The 'resource war' ongoing now in South-Central
Asia is a case in point. Far from it being an illustration of a police
action by an emergent 'superstate', this is a war of proxies and subalterns
at the behest of the great powers who are dividing and redividing this
regions for the purpose of imperial loot and plunder. America is in
Afghanistan to secure the region against nascent world powers, above all

The EU and Japan/China are economic and political rivals and have great
military potential. The ultraimperialism hypothesis actually depends on the
idea that growth will continue and there will be no major defaults, stock
market wind-outs or bubbles burst. But, today as when Lenin said it, the
reality is of inter-imperialist rivalry in conditions of endemic, systemic
crisis. When (not if) the WallSt/dollar ponzi fraud blows, international
trade and investment flows will dry up and the US-regulated world markets
*will collapse*. When, not if, this happens, the regional blocs will, as
John implies, be forced into autarkic restructuration and remilitarisation.

Civil war between rival national bourgeoisies is an outcome of *class war*,
of the war between the proletariat and the capitalists whose primary
location is *production*. Competition between Asian, European and American
capitals is still competition for markets and resources, in which the
winners are those capitalist powers with the highest rate of exploitation,
ie those groupings of national and regional capital best able to raise the
profit rate. This remains true despite the degree of internationalisation
of financial markets, assets and equities and despite the emergence of
vertically and horizontally integrated multinational corporations. These
developments, which occurred with different intensities at each stage of
capitalist history, change only the form and not the substance of
competition, which always debouches in classic generalised crises of more
or less acuteness, in which large parts of national capitals are written
down and accumulation can only recommence on the basis of a restructuring
not only of production, but of geopolitical rules and of national borders.
Crises are *also* struggles for survival and continued supremacy by the
hegemon, and struggles by nascent capitalisms to displace the hegemon and
cream off the superprofits from the next round of world accumulation.

North-South divisions are less easy to parse than first inspection of the
ginis might suggest. Latin America has been absorbed within the
geopolitical orbit of US imperialism. In Asia a tremendous struggle is
going on between Japan and China, which China is winning. China still has a
7% growth rates, Japan is declining (the Nikkei is catastrophically on the
10k mark; this means that Japan Inc is not a going concern, it is literally
bankrupt). Japan lost its competition with the US for global hegemony in
the 1980s and is now losing its regional hegemony to China. This singifies
the creation of a new Asian power-axis in which the declining regional
imperialism (notionally part of the 'North') --Japan-- is destined to be
economically and politically subordinated to China (which is notionally
part of the South). Surely this reversal of fortunes will be set in
concrete after the coming slump is over (assuming growth ever does resume
without another world war). In fact, the domination of China over Japan is
an aftershock from the collapse of Japanese competitivity against the USA.
This means that any future restructuring of the world order must also
include the definitive emergence of a powerful Asian politico-military
competitor to the US and Europe. This in turn will leave Europe in the
weakest position, unless it can make a stepchange in the direction of a
European federal state with its own armed forces and defence industries.
Unless the EU shakes off US tutelage, it will be destroyed in future
competitive conflict with Asia and the US.


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