US & China

Nicholas Siemensma nsiemensma at yahoo.com.au
Sat Jul 12 23:50:42 MDT 2003


Gary MacLennan wrote: 
> Is this why we are
> having a Korean crisis.
> 
> The bourgeoisie here or at least the Govt seems to
> be throwing  in their 
> lot with the USa against China.  As I mentioned in a
> previous post I have 
> been especially struck by the position of Kevin
> Rudd, the Labor Party 
> Shadow Foreign Affairs spokesman.  He has joined the
> attack on Korea.
> 
> He has extensive contacts I believe in China.  They
> must be tipping him off 
> that the Chinese Govt does not intend to defend
> Korea.  In other words, if 
> you are correct Nick, China is retreating at this
> stage of the conflict 
> with the USA.
> 

These are the key questions, Gary, and I've been
trying to get my head around this stuff on a
value-theoretic level beneath the public declarations
of leaders and surface run of events, and whatever the
contingent, fortuitous or surface-form of mutual needs
and tactical alliances.  As you suggest, it's a real
"wilderness of mirrors", but we can say for starters
that what superficially appeared to be a smashing
geopolitical victory for the US (ie. Iraq, the latest
stage in the US attempt to reconfigure west and
central Asia) and a crushing blow for effete hegemonic
pretenders, has not given the Bushies the global
armlock they sought.  The Machiavellian clarity and
cynical manoeuvring of the Chinese leadership has seen
them sit calmly on their hands in the hope that the
Yanks will sink into the postwar Iraqi quicksands, and
they may yet be proved right.  There is opportunism
there, to be sure, but there is also a strong current
of thought which seems to say that it was better to
let the US have their way with Iraq because renewed
"stability" over the next decade or so will allow
China to continue stealthily industrialising and
competing with its rivals: the US, Germany, etc.  In
short, China - like all other players - shows signs of
being in denial, and has no game-plan for open and
uncontrolled crisis, and so prefers not to become the
open and avowed foe of US hegemony.  This is where
North Korea comes in, IMO, because it is an attempt to
force China to show its hand.  Iraq wasn't a
sufficiently powerful springboard for the US to do
anything militarily about China, and before things get
worse in West Asia the Bushies are out to prevent what
would be an optimum solution for their rivals.  I
don't know, and along with Henry Liu (who is writing
lots of stuff elsewhere, but not about China and North
Korea so far as I can see) I'd love to hear from a
periodic Marxmail contributor, John Gulick, who would
surely help to cut short my idle speculations.

Henry Liu, BTW, has lots to say about Australia,
Australian racism, any possible Keating-style
"engagement" with Asia, and its place in the world
economy organised at the level of a
system-architecture of competing nation-states and
blocs.  I'm glad you brought up the question of
Australian sub-imperialism, Australian capital
formation and whether or not it weds Australia
irrevocably to US imperialism.  I've been trying to
investigate the possibilities of capital and state
re-orientation of subaltern Oz away from the US and
towards the rival hegemonic subset of China/east Asia.
 This requires a lot of time spent in libraries as
there's a great deal to read, and my singular lack of
dedication and concentration doesn't help.  Anyhow, I
think the question is crucial for any sort of
practical activity.   Competition between national
capitals is an outcome of class struggle, and the
functioning or crisis of hegemony and the state-form
seems to be the determining last-instance of the
conjunctural dynamic.  With an Australian view I've
found, like everyone else, many historical parallels
between the present situation and a long-run dynamic
between about 1873-1956 whereby the British slowly
poked and prodded Australia towards the US, and this
coincided of course with significant historical
movements in terms of domestic accumulation processes
and class struggle, industrialisation and
technological transformation, numerous financial
innovations and questions of currency and debt,
federation and diplomatic issues, wars and revolutions
etc.  When you consider these kinds of stimuli and
feedback you must wonder at the near-geological
ponderousness of the process, along with the fact that
the shift of Australian sub-imperialism towards the US
occurred largely at the prompting of the UK, not thru
the initiative of Oz capital and state.  It provides
all sorts of clues for the present and the future, and
I'll post something about it eventually.  

As for Kevin Rudd, I was at a pub last night where his
face came up on a big-screen TV, and the guy next to
me took such fright at suddenly seeing this little
twerp's head that he spilled bourbon all over his
mate.  Kev smites all who dabble in the demon drink.

Nick


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