Imperialism in decline?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Thu Jul 4 07:22:15 MDT 2002

(One of the curiosities of the academic left is the tendency of various
figures to agree with each other on broad questions without sharing a
common ideological framework. For example, neo-Althusserian Stephen Resnick
has the same exact "state capitalist" analysis of the USSR as people like
Alex Callinicos. Turning to Immanuel Wallerstein, a kingpin in the
world-systems world, we discover agreement with Hardt-Negri on two
fundamental questions: one, that socialism on a state level is to be
avoided at all costs; two, that US imperialism has been in a process of
decline--a point made in the article below that is dubious at best. US
imperialism may be more dangerous than ever, but the fall of the USSR has
given it unlimited power. Since Wallerstein (and Resnick and Hardt-Negri)
lacks a dialectical approach to the USSR, no wonder this point would be
lost on him.)

Foreign Policy, Jul-Aug, 2002
The Eagle Has Crash Landed

Pax Americana is over. Challenges from Vietnam and the Balkans to the
Middle East and September 11 have revealed the limits of American
supremacy. Will the United States learn to fade quietly, or will U.S.
conservatives resist and thereby transform a gradual decline into a rapid
and dangerous fall?

By Immanuel Wallerstein

The United States in decline? Few people today would believe this
assertion. The only ones who do are the U.S. hawks, who argue vociferously
for policies to reverse the decline. This belief that the end of U.S.
hegemony has already begun does not follow from the vulnerability that
became apparent to all on September 11, 2001. In fact, the United States
has been fading as a global power since the 1970s, and the U.S. response to
the terrorist attacks has merely accelerated this decline. To understand
why the so-called Pax Americana is on the wane requires examining the
geopolitics of the 20th century, particularly of the century's final three
decades. This exercise uncovers a simple and inescapable conclusion: The
economic, political, and military factors that contributed to U.S. hegemony
are the same factors that will inexorably produce the coming U.S. decline.


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