New Qualitative Phase of Imperialism

John Gulick jlgulick at
Thu Dec 13 14:04:22 MST 2001

Stan wrote:

This aspect of US culture, its physical, and by extension more broadly
social, atomization, and the dialectical manner in which reflection and
reproduction of this atomization, material and social, deepens that
individuation, is the the most formidable and unacknowledged obstacle to
real organizing that I have encountered. And what shared spaces remain are
compartmented as single family households (often desperately dysfunctional
themselves, and atomized internally) or are designed by capital for
consumption. The degree to which this social isolation operates in the US,
I have found in my other travels, is astonishing when compared to any other
society I know. This accounts for much of our sheeplike acquiescence to
things like The War Against Terrorism. The exceptions to this within the US
are communities of oppressed nationalities. I generalize greatly here, but
I often wonder in how many ways we employ organizing models bequeathed us
by another era, and how often we mis! ! takenly identify other phenomena as
the fountain of our frustration, when the material foundation of it is
right in front of our eyes.

I comment:

I couldn't agree more on the overall diagnosis. I would also add that
lively and non-commodified public spaces don't prevail so much among
communities of oppressed nationalities _generally_ as among communities of
working-class and petty bourgeois recent immigrants _specifically_, who
bring to the US collective institutions and habits from Third World cities
and villages. These communities may or may not consist of "oppressed
nationalities" and may or may not be politically radicalized or
radicalizable. Communities of Central American refugees, with their lively
and non-commodified public spaces, are radicalized or radicalizable, South
Vietnamese refugees, with the same, are not. A big problem is that many
members of oppressed nationalities in the U.S. ("native" and "immigrant")
aspire to the "American dream" (sic), trading in communal neighborhoods for
the austere land of shopping malls and subdivisions, leaving behind that
milieux where instense social interaction (and the actuality of possibility
of political mobilization) is a part of everyday life. The hegemony of
stupefying U.S. culture (both material and ideological) is very hard to
resist and overcome.

John Gulick

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