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Re: <nettime> Nightmare or Opening
brian.holmes {AT} aliceadsl.fr on Thu, 14 Jun 2012 19:03:54 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Nightmare or Opening

Alla writes:

"Why should one assume
that the interests of a financially integrated AND stable EU are
the same as the US? or China? We are in that stage of intense
global competitiveness in which rationality takes second place
to profitability and market dominance."

Of course I totally agree, Allan, that the Soros perspective is weak
politically. In fact, it's pretty amazing that the whole global system is
on the edge of a metamorphic shift, with all the danger that can bring, and
yet no one at the helm or in positions of intellectual prominence even
admits that the prospect of major upsets must be faced and considered in
advance. Not just for the profit or power-political gains they might
produce, but for their consequences on the lives of entire populations.

For my part, I believe the largest states and institutional structures of
the liberal trading system are very anxious to preserve the status quo. The
US (via Obama himself) continually pressures the EU to find a solution that
would match the interventions of the Fed. China's development has been
predicated on capital circuit that links it in many ways to the consumer
markets and financial apparatuses of North America and the EU. Structural
changes in this circuit may represent a long-term opportunity for China but
they are full of short-term threats to the country's domestic stability.

Nonetheless, I agree with Allan that the classic failure of cooperation
among individual competing private capitals is now threatening to tear
apart what used to be the Trilateral hegemony of North America, Western
Europe and East Asia. Soros and most of the others want to put
Humpty-Dumpty back together again by "fixing the financial markets." What
looks far more likely is a deep reorganization of the world-system after a
dangerous period of chaos.

Actually, to my knowledge the best Braudelian perspective on all this was
written almost a decade ago by Giovanni Arrighi, in his two-part analysis
of David Harvey's theses on The New Imperialism:


US hegemony began to unravel in the 1970s, when it had to extend a kind of
negotiated power-sharing to the Trilateral regions of Western Europe and
Japan. Globalization and the rise of the BRICS (plus the eclipse of Japan)
destroyed the fragile balance. Arrighi and Harvey's texts are devoted to
the US imperial adventures of the 2000s, which they both see as a desperate
attempt to shore up hegemony through a new assertion of American military
power. In the above texts Arrighi clearly analyzes the failure of that
attempt and the possible consequences. These are still uncertain. The
obvious first move is a bid for an even larger power-sharing arrangement
(what Kautsky called "ultra-imperialism") which would have brought the
BRICS into the mix. That was tried with the expansion of the G8 to the G20
in 2008, and as all analysts have observed, it failed. Arrighi suggests the
possibility of a radical shift of hegemony to China (and obviously, he
pursues that idea in Adam Smith in Beijing) but he also points out all the
obstacles constituted in particular by the continuing role of the US as the
sole military superpower. His companion and co-author Beverly Silver has
more recently been pointing to the ecological contradiction that makes it
very uncertain whether world-systemic capitalism will produce a new
hegemonic center or new growth regime at all; and Wallerstein himself seems
to agree. There are no answers in all those articles and books as to what's
gonna happen next, but at least the problems are laid out in an adult
fashion, rather than the kind of self-interested deception or myopic
infantile drivel that now fills the news and most of the blogosphere.

I am sure that better things have been written very recently about all
this, and anyone who has further suggestions about what to read, or their
own ideas about what's happening, go for it, tell us! This continues to be
a great forum for learning about such things. By the way, if there are
better ones, let us know about them too.

warmly, Brian

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