The following is a set of exchanges that took place on WSN, the world-systems electronic conferencing network between June 12 and August 19, 1996. I have edited some of the comments to exclude what I consider to have been extraneous comments. And I have excluded contributions that did not, in my estimation, contribute much to the main topics. These, as I see it, were the future of the world-system and what to do about it. The complete archive of all postings to WSN during this period is available under the link “Mail Archive” on the page at /index.html
Chris Chase-Dunn, WSN list-owner 8/22/96

global praxis and the future of the world-system Thu, 13 Jun 1996 14:02:54 -0600 (CST) chris chase-dunn (chriscd@jhu.edu) We have begun to publish Volume 2 of the _Journal of World-Systems Research_. The next batch includes an article by Historian W. Warren Wagar on his ideas about the future of the world-system and political practice. Wagar proposes the formation of a World Party to carry through the project of global democratic socialism. Included with his article are thirteen comments by Sociologists, Political Scientists and activists. Perhaps Wagar's article and the comments might serve as a topic for discussion on wsn. JWSR is primarily an outlet for research articles on world-systems, but Wagar's ideas are so important that we have included them despite our determination that JWSR not become a political magazine.

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Where World Capitalism is going? Tue, 25 Jun 1996 21:46:37 -0600 (NSK) Nikolai S. Rozov (ROZOV@cnit.nsu.ru)
We have gone far away from criticism of WS fathers. While reflecting on Richard Moore's arguments I decided to suggest a new subject concerning objective long-term trends of World Capitalism and possible alternative evaluations of them. Three main views on this point can be seen: a) the liberal 'mainstream' position: "free market economy and democracy are winning, they are becoming stronger and stronger and they are really worthy this victory" (Fukuyama, etc) I think nobody in wsn needs arguments against this position. b) the left expectations of world capitalism's decline: it's a world desease ("virus") and it is worthy its forthcoming failure (Wallerstein, Chase-Dunn) My question: What are real visible signs of decline or crisis, which should be stronger than all those problems and crises that world capitalism successfully prevailed in the past (f.e. in 1810-15, 1848-9, 1914-18, 1930-32, 1939-45, 1968-69)? c) the left appeals for struggle against strong and threatening world capitalism (appeals by Maoism, Trotskism in Latin America, etc, Russian Communism, maybe in wsn by R.Moore in his struggle against 'imperialism' and TNC) My doubts and questions: Historical facts tell us that in most cases of open 'hot' struggle against world capitalism did not succeed, but ALL the local national 'successes' (f.e. in Russia since 1917, China, Cuba, N.Korea, Iran, Albania) led inevitably to mass social disasters, poverty, frequently - mass terror. On the contrary most "soft" and interior attemps to ameliorate capitalism were successful, or at least, harmless (Second International and Social-Democratic reforms in Europe in the beginning of XX, laborists in Great Britain, socialists in Sweden, promotion of social programs in US, France, Germany, etc). Well, WS-theory can tell that it was possible only for core or semipripheral countries, not for periphery. Great, but in this case the imperative should be not a struggle against 'imperialism' (ie core countries) transforming them to less democratric and tolerant regimes, but vice versa - the imperative should be to try to rise the status (from periphery to semipheriphery) of most exploited countries and peoples. Is the last task possible without support of world capital, without IMF, TNC, Big- 7 and all other 'devils', without appeal to moral norms of humanism, justice,etc, even if we see so much hypocrisy in proclaiming these values by mainstream leaders? My position in brief on the question posed in the subject above: - World Capitalism seems to strengthen (not decline), - it is not a monolite, it is rather open for reforms (much more than all non-capitalist social regimes!), - many long-term trends of its transformation during last 500 years should be morally appreciated, - the task is not to unmask hypocrisy of its social-moral ideology, but to use this ideology as a support for 'soft' promotion of reforms for humanizing Capitalism (first of all to work out the correspondent norms of world legal system in international trade, debts, raw resources, etc) -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fwd:Re:Where the World Capitalism is going? Thu, 27 Jun 1996 20:34:16 -0600 (NSK) Nikolai S. Rozov (ROZOV@cnit.nsu.ru) I am forwarding a feedback of Dr.Georgi Derluguian who has been working for more than 5 years with I.Wallerstein and is an expert in rather wide range of ws-theory and history issues. Mostly I agree with Georgi, just one note on misunderstanding my position (see below). Nikolai Rozov rozov@cnit.nsu.ru

From: Georgi Derluguian : 1. So, everything is clear with Mr. Fukuyama-sensei, eh? I recall vividly Larry Diamond from the Hoover Inst., and a crowd at Berkeley (sic!) seriously nodding to his words: "The ideas of Wallerstein and Gunder Frank were irrelevant back in the 1970s, but today it is actually incredible to find someone talking in that lefty jargon. Tell me, if you know, what is a better program for any people in the world than democracy, what is better for any government than free market economy?" Last May I heard the same pronounced very strongly by the top folks from the SSRC and the MacArthur Foundation. Will you, please, supply some arguments aside from anti-imperialist rethoric? 2. As to Nikolai Rozov's words -- I suggest to read Wallerstein's essays from the latest collection, After Liberalism. The problem with IW style is that he increasingly disregards detailed argumentation and makes almost prophetic statements. He also, as usual, disregards his critics (don't tell me he once scolded Chase Dunn, that's an exception that proves the rule -- IW never attacked Fukuyama, who incidentally did a good job of summarizing After Liberalism in several reviews, then dismissing the whole argument instead of attacking it, just like we often do with the liberal mainstream) Yet, this doesn't mean IW's recent writing has no value. Personally, I have near mystic experiences with IW predictive powers. I know him long enough to recall some of the predictions. Of course, he is no crystall-ball gazer. he is a scholar with superb intuition which means his mind captures connections and makes generalizations at some deeper level that is difficult to substantiate in a normal scientific morose way. This is what in the history of science is called almost religiously "revelations" (light bulbs suddenly going ablaze in someone's head) that remains a marginal and suspicious territory. It is certainly worth trying to see what kind of arguments and prediction IW makes, bearing in mind that IW himself is a deeply historical personality with his personal and his circle of old friends' whims playing an interfering role (that's where we often get some of his most embarrassing political recepies -- to a large extent IW still lives in the New York left-liberal intelligentsia of Central European origins of the 1930-1940s, and in the African and Tiers Mondiste liberation euphoria of the late 1950s-1960s. To IW Polanyi and Marcuse, Myrdal and Margaret Mead, Schumpeter and Arendt,Castro and Che Guevara, Nyerere and Cabral are contemporaries and most important voices, an internal filter of ideas. Please, treat this with respect -- IW was formed in a far more fascinating intellectual world that ours, he saw truly great transformations, he apparently had great hopes and moments of triumph as well as experienced greatest disullisionments and political failures. he squarely belongs to the last great generation of the "sixtiers", after that -- only postmodernist pygmiization in arts, sciences, and the politics) This diatribe goes primarily to Nikolai Rozov, the militant Siberianist who lives in the underground with retro-Stalinists reigning over Akademgorodok, as the last week's New York Times beautifully described, citing the very philosophy dean and his iron hand. Now, back to IW vision. Lately he was giving basically the following picture: The modern world-system is still in its normal mode and will remain within its historical asymptotes for another decade or so. We shall expect a kondratieff A-phase with further expansion of production based on new technologies and further wealth generated. The question of another hegemony is unclear -- Japan is evidently short of making it, and IW recognizes the problem when he says "Japan is really the old American Dream recycled". Bruce Cumings has intriguing argument for another cycle of the US hegemony, this time truly uni-polar, Wilsonian-Rooseveltian. Arrighi tends to agree saying that institutional "fat" was growing with every new hegemony, making it difficult for an ascending hegemon to break through (see Japan imitating America, not creating a separate cultural-ideological appeal). The latter actually means trouble -- the Schumpeterian mechanism of cleansing the system through periodical destruction seems to have stopped working at the level of interstate competition (but not the inter-firm level). Liberal ideology scored total political victory. Indeed, there is no other hope left. At some point everyone would like to live under capitalism, but core capitalism, bien sur! Either the educated masses from the peripheries will move to the core (recall the tremendous expansion of higher education after 1945) or they will try to imitate the core conditions in their states. We now observe both tendencies -- I am enjoying the tenure-track privileges in a highly-paid US university and watch with awe my children growing American, while my classmates in the Russian parliament and the yuppie-to-be newspapers Segodnia and Kommersant-Daily promote Gen. Lebed and fight against "economic idiotism" of the "lumpenized loosers" who don't share the neo-liberal vision of the Heritage Foundations. They are winning so far over the "econoidiots". This is when the trouble really begins. Russia (not to mention China) will emerge in ten years as major locus of production withing the world-economy. No more isolationism and delinking (but, surely, very strong protectionism of Russia's internal market -- it's too big and vital an inherited asset to be shared with TNCs thoughtlessly -- and Lebed knows that well, or was told by the supply-side whiz-kid Naishul from the heritage found. and the commentators of segodnia). Once the new Kondratieff-A arrives at earnest, we shall competition increased, not decreased. because now we have many more producers and a really more integrated world market. The liberal promise is that everyone will have enough investment and share for their products, if their governments and societies attract enough capital by being capital-friendly. IW has doubts. Vast territories of the world will be unemployed, kept on some UN or other form of aid-dole. They will try to be nasty then, and there is no more orderly communism to channel this anger. Their protests will be truly appalling, Khomeini or Saddam like, unless new humanistic antisystemic movements arise -- but this remains IW's distant hope. What Nikolai Rozov suggests is a world-scale welfare state and liberal reform.
Nikolai Rozov: Sic! I suggested a radically different things. I think WSN members remember my postings on: World Law versus World State
Georgi continues: IW thinks that this is way too much for the capitalist world-economy to sustain. The previously unwashed masses and then the classes dangereaux could be successfully tamed because that was just 10 to 15% of the world population. What about 50 or 75%? In a condensed form, IW argues that the MWS was successfull in deflecting the crises mentioned by Nikolai and many other threats (primarily from the disgruntled and eventually organized masses). The seminal success of the demise of communism brings two kinds of trouble -- no more orderly counterpart, sort of responsible bad guys who play by the rules even when they try to cheat a little -- but, as George Kennan said in 1946, "Soviets know that they have a lot to loose and every possibility to enjoy their acquisitions if they do not behave recklessly so they are not desperate". No more such relaxed opponents with still enormous though misleading popular appeal in the Third World. Secondly, huge, densely populated China and Russia with educated cheap workforce and industrial potential enter the world markets. Who needs Sierra Leone then? The loop of capital accumulation will function well without much of the Third World. Once the anticapitalism lure is gone, many middle classes (state-produced cadres especially) will try to live like the core. This will overburden the system, for no system can consist of core alone. least of all such a historical system as the capitalist one. There are two alternatives -- either peripheries become equal to the core and this finishes the MWS peacefully transforming it into a social-democratic global success, or the system crumbles down under the weight of growing demands. Democracy is actually a very subversive thing in this perspective -- Liberalism was about the rule of the competent and meritorious, not the "demagogues" from the streets. Democracy allows social groups to organize and struggle politically pressing their demands upon governments. This might not necessarily be what we like -- Nikolai should look around himself. I presume, it was Comrade Zyuganov, the Russian fundamentalist, who won in Novosibirsk, in a fairly democratic manner, n'est-ce pas? Democracy makes governing institutions more open to popular influences. The problem then is political -- what and who those influences will be? --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fwd:Wallerstein Re: Where the World Capitalism is going? Wed, 17 Jul 1996 22:07:12 -0600 (NSK) Nikolai S. Rozov (ROZOV@cnit.nsu.ru) To: "Nikolai S. Rozov" 
From: immanuel wallerstein july 17, 1996 dear nikolai, it's a long story. basically you are hoping for and arguin for a gentle socialdemocratic resolution of the dilemmas of capitalism. good idea, but it won't happen. see our forthcoming (zed press, 1996);/...omited personal talk - N.R./ yours/immanuel ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Re: Fwd:Wallerstein Re: Where the World Capitalism is going? Wed, 17 Jul 1996 13:35:24 -0700 (MST) Albert J Bergesen (albert@U.Arizona.EDU) Dear Nikolai Rozov: The central problem with a serious theoretical discussion of where the capitalist world economy is going/transforming into, is that mostly people have noted national changes as indicative of world transformations. The pre-1989 example was that the WS was heading/changing/whatever toward socialism, and the Soviet Union was used as an example. Now forget the debate over whether the USSR was real socialism, the key issue is that if one takes WS theory seriously, and assumes that capitalism is a world-economy, then any sign of transition to any other world economic system would have to show up in changes in the central structural relations of world capitalism, which, in conventional WS theory, is the core-periphery relation. But, in none of the "where is world capitalism going" discussions is their a discussion of the transformtion of this relation, and that is the central shortcomming of WS projections about the future. To put it bluntly: if one takes the global perspective seriously, then one must identify global structural relations (the equivalent of class relations within societies) that are changing/intensifying/transforming/etc. if one wants to make a serious WS prediction about the purported change in capitalism as a world system. Talking about what happens/has happened in this or that country, is a statement about relations within countries, not about global relations, and, further, if one believes that it is the distinctly global, wholeistic, nature of the world economy that is the key to understanding its dynamic, then one must identify changes/trends/etc. at that level if one is to make any sort of serious WS predictions about the changes in the world economy. At present that is never/rarely done. I have not seen/read the new Zed book IW has coming out. My guess, based on the past, is that shifts/changes/etc. in the core-periphery relation will NOT be at the heart of the predictions about the future of the world and that this will remain a central shortcoming to that analysis as a distinctly globalist understanding of the distinctly globalist character of the world economy/system. Further, until we begin to identify such global structural changes we will not be really talking about changes in the real WORLD economy. Yours, al b. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Re: Fwd:Wallerstein Re: Where the World Capitalism is going Thu, 18 Jul 1996 19:49:00 -0600 (NSK) Nikolai S. Rozov (ROZOV@cnit.nsu.ru) Dear Al, I mostly agree with you and confess that did not emphasized (but not omitted) the core-periphery aspect of W-Capitalism. Why not to discuss it now in wsn? These issues are very close to the topic of Wagar's paper that Chris suggested recently for discussion. BTW Wagar seems to be free from purist objectivism, signs of which I saw in your reply. Wagar bravely calls to discuss NORMATIVE (or values-oriented, ethical, pragmatic) aspects of global future. Strictly objectivist prognoses are not sufficient in our time. I also doubt in usefulness of any unique scenario and suggest to consider multiple trajectories depending of current choices, coalitions, conjuncture, collisions of cycles and trends, and even of historical chances. In my book 1992 (The Structure of Civilization and World Development Trends) I sugested to consider three modern world-wide megatrends directly dealing with core-periphery axis. Each megatrend (MT) is a stable complex of positive feed-back loops of trends from main spheres of social life. Briefly: MT1 (Inertia of growth, Assimilation, Westernization) leads to maximal liberalization of world economy, maximal and fast profit for the core, encreasing gap between core and periphery, forthcoming ecological, social-political, demographical crises in periphery. Maybe US- Latin America in relations can serve here as an example, Perestroika nad Gaidar reforms in Russia also were done within this logic. MT2 (Isolationism): periphery (or semiperiphery) tries to conserve its cultural-political identity from core expansion (USSR and China until 1975- 80th, now Iran, Northern Korea); the core (or semipheriphery) tries to protect its life level from peripheral emigrants. This MT leads to stagnation of periphery isolates, and to crises of democratic, humanistic principles in core countries (rising fascist-like movements in US- militia, in France - Le Penn, in Russia - Jirinovski, etc) MT3 (Multipolarity and World-wide social-economic-cultural programs) includes support by the core of periphery with preserving its identity (UN, UNESCO, FAO, ecological, medical programs etc), competition of multiple core poles in constructing new semi- peripheries. Thus US and Japan already constructed their semi-periphery - China and S.E.Asia. And now its turn for Europe to build its semipheriphery on the base of Central Europe and Russia. I consider these processes as mutually profitable for patrons and clients. Wallerstein notes that in such scenario vast amounts of people in Africa, South Asia and parts of S.America would be thrown off history. It is really a problem (maybe the greatest humanistic problem of the coming decades) and I hope to hear smth on it from experts in wsn. best regards, Nikolai ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Re: Fwd:Wallerstein Re: Where the World Capitalism is going Thu, 18 Jul 1996 15:21:29 -0700 (MST) Albert J Bergesen (albert@U.Arizona.EDU) Dear Nikolai-- Thanks for replying. Your preference for focusing upon multiple causes, conjunctures, possibilities, influences, etc. is fine, of course. But if and when so many things are considered and if and when we are so open to anything/everything then world systemic principles are no longer guiding/making predictions about world development. Which, you know, is fine too. It is a little like Isaiah Berlin's analogy of the hedgehog and the fox: the fox knows many things--as it seems do you and Mr. Wagar--while the hedgehog knows one big thing--which it was once hoped was the distinctive insight/predictions from a world-systemic theoretical point of view. I am still of that school--I am still a hedgehog--so I still want WS theory to have some predictive power and hence be able to respond to the everyting goes/all influnces count/all possibilities exist fox-school of late 20th century thought. In that regard let me mention two things: (1) your trends which, as I hope I correctly remember from your reply you said had some core-periiphery structural aspects. But these still seem to me to be mostly about changes in countries, maybe additive to make a world-like-fact (an aggregative individualism where individual countries are the individuals) but still non-world systemic. MT1, for instance being about growth, assimilation and westernization, is still about country level change; as is MT2, Isolationism: countries are isolated, not the world-system; and MT3, world wide programs, are reaching outs from core countries to peripheral ones. (2) I would suggest that MT1-3 are themselves consequences of world systemic dynamics, not the dynamics themselves. These are descriptive outcomes, not underlying processes. For example, the whole multiple causes approach you endorse in your reply is part of a larger postmodern movement in thought that is produced by the B-phase cyclical undulation of the world-economy. The A-phase produces its own pattern of thought: generalized universalism. Put another way: A-phases produce hedgehogs; B-phases produce foxes in the life of the mind. I suppose I am a child of the post-war A-phase of expansion and universal theorizing. In the postmodern world of late 20th century thought the absence of general theory is treated in a fox-like manner as an advantage--as you argue--multiple possibilities always exist; nothing is determined. The hallmark of of today's intellectual climate. Everyone from the postmodernist lit crit types to you and Wagar believe in the reality of multiple causes, of no one prediction, of no one model, of no logocentricism, of no one world-system logic. The hedgehog in me disagrees with the fox in you. In that regard I wish to stand as a counter weight and push for the hedgehog agenda: figuring out the inner logic of the world system and from that being able to make theoretically principled predictions about the future. yours, al bergesen ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Re: Fwd:Wallerstein Re: Where the World Capitalism is going Fri, 19 Jul 1996 09:40:28 -0600 (NSK) Nikolai S. Rozov (ROZOV@cnit.nsu.ru) Dear Al, it may be strange for you but our methodological positions are in this aspect are very close and by no means opposite! I don't like post-modern tradition in science because these falks make the water of thought not more clear but more muddy. I just as you do try to reveal the underlying logic of historical dynamics. Moreover I still think that Hempel-Popper explanation-prediction scheme (so unfashionable in recent decades) can serve us in combination with rich conceptual apparatus of WST, civilization approach, geopolitical approach, social-changes theory. My 'fox' considerations to which you reacted are limited by the initial position of widest openness to future results of research. Sure, after revealing interior logic, dynamics, maybe laws this range of possibilities becomes much more narrow and a fox should be transformed into a hedgehog. But according to specifics of social-historical reality with changing logic, changing weight of factors, changing limits of growth, self-reflection, significance of choices and conjuncture, I really don't believe in possibility of one precise long-term prognosis. I never told of 'no predictions', 'no models'! On the contrary I appeal to construct and use multiple models, make multiple predictions based on these models and hypothetical laws and then see which presuppositions and hypotheses were right or wrong. Well, stop pure methodology and lets turn to WS issues. I am very glad that you accept the idea of megatrends at least as a phenomenal description. I agree that core-periphery relations are not sufficiently elaborated here, it is really a special large task to combine the megatrend model (polispheral complex of positive feed-back loops of trends) with WS model. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Re: Where World Capitalism is going? Fri, 19 Jul 1996 15:29:10 +1000 Bruce R. McFarling (ecbm@cc.newcastle.edu.au) On Thu, 18 Jul 1996, Nikolai S. Rozov wrote: [Nikolai]: >>> My doubts and questions: >>> Historical facts tell us that in most cases of open 'hot' >>> struggle against world capitalism did not succeed, but ALL >>> the local national 'successes' (f.e. in Russia since 1917, >>> China, Cuba, N.Korea, Iran, Albania, led inevitably to mass >>> social disasters, poverty, frequently - mass terror. [myself (Bruce)]: >> I find it hard to credit Castro's regime with leading >> to poverty in Cuba. I don't much favor hypotheses with >> consequences leading causes by that length of time. And >> there's a bit of a post-hoc ergo propter-hoc problem, as >> well, particularly if you note the tremendous economic >> growth (sic) of Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica >> over this time. > > Castro transformed Cuba from periphery to communistic isolate. I have not > insisted that to periphery in w-economy gives any guarantees for growth. > They have some chances, not more (take South-East Asia that triumphally > used its chance).I insist only on the guarantees for non-growth and > stagnation for communistic isolates (in spite of periods of military- > industrial growth by means of mass slavery as in USSR 1920-56) This is a shift from the position above. Above Castro's Cuba experienced an inevitable mass social disaster due to the nature of the adopting the "communistic isolate" strategy (as it has just been dubbed). It may be that in adopting this strategy Castro's Cuba has been locked out of the opportunities that many South East Asian countries have taken advantage of. On the other hand, its neighbor's that have been pursuing these opporunities have also been locked out, so it may well be that the options available to East Asian nations weren't available to small Caribbean nations. In this case, the 'social disaster' that Cuba has experienced has been to be a bit poorer and a bit healthier, under a government that is from a bit to a lot more authoritarian, depending on the Caribbean country it is being compared to. And the substantial difference between the post-Castro and pre-Castro comparison is the part about Cubans being a bit healthier than comparable neighboring countries, because it was both poorer and more authoritarian than average before it adopted the "communistic isolate" strategy. [Nikolai]: >>> On the contrary most "soft" and interior attemps to >>> ameliorate capitalism were successful, or at least, harmless >>> (Second International and Social-Democratic reforms in Europe >>> in the beginning of XX, laborists in Great Britain, socialists >>> in Sweden, promotion of social programs in US, France, Germany, >>> etc). >>> Well, WS-theory can tell that it was possible only for core >>> or semipripheral countries, not for periphery. Great, but in this >>> case the imperative should be not a struggle against 'imperialism' >>> (ie core countries) transforming them to less democratric and >>> tolerant regimes, but vice versa - the imperative should be to try >>> to rise the status (from periphery to semipheriphery) of most >>> exploited countries and peoples. >>> Is the last task possible without support of world capital, >>> without IMF, TNC, Big- 7 and all other 'devils', without appeal >>> to moral norms of humanism, justice,etc, even if we see so much >>> hypocrisy in proclaiming these values by mainstream leaders? [Bruce]: >> The question supposes that it's possible *with* the support >> of 'world capital'. Whatever that means, and if it means anything >> *besides* the IMF/WorldBank/TNC's or the Big7. > Oh, well, you are fairly precise here and I was not precise. But > what the use of splitting hairs instead of principal debate? This was not an effort to split hairs. The question *does* presuppose that this development is possible *with* the IMF / WorldBank / TNC's etc, and the track record in that respect is not very strong. Regarding the East Asian countries that are cited above as providing examples of the potential available to peripheral countries, it is arguable whether they did so by working with IMF / WorldBank / TNC 'development policy', or by working arounf it. The performance of African countries that have followed the development policy line of the day has over the years been abysmal. So, I'd like to see the specific argument that it *is* possible to raise the status of peripheral countries *with* the support of the IMF / World Bank / TNC's / etc, before looking that the (presently loaded) question of whether its possible without the support of these organizations. Virtually, Bruce R. McFarling, Newcastle, NSW -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
W. Warren Wagar's "Praxis" Thu, 25 Jul 1996 14:32:21 +1000 Bruce R. McFarling (ecbm@cc.newcastle.edu.au) Regarding the article by Wagar and symposium of commentary published as Article 2, comments and reponse In JWSR, Volume 2, Number 2, 1996, http://jwsr.ucr.edu/ In "TOWARD A PRAXIS OF WORLD INTEGRATION", W. Warren Wagar writes (quoted text pp.1-3 [electronic page markers embedded in quoted text]): ________________________________________________________________ > > The theme of the 90th annual meeting of the American > Sociological Association is "Community of Communities: > Shaping Our Future." The program asks three leading > questions: must the plurality of communities now > identifying themselves throughout the world "along ethnic, > racial, gender, religious, and other lines...be blended away > to ensure civility? Or, can we have a society of vying > tribes without shared bonds and values? Or can there be a > shared framework in which many colorful elements find a new > place...[in] a community of communities?" >_______________________________________________________________ Wagar will claim to be presenting a fourth question, but he is really going to answer (1): the plurality of communities now identifying themselves throughout the world along ethnic (etc...) lines must be blended away to ensure civility. So if these were leading questions in the sense of framing to bias preferences toward (3), it didn't work on W. Warren Wagar. But to be fair, these questions are leading questions in one way or another, and they lead toward selecting (3), and W. Warren Wagar does not want to select (3), as one wouldn't if one wants to answer (1). So he criticizes the questions by parable: ________________________________________________________________ > > The authors of the program might just as well have > asked--transferring these questions to the realm of [Page > 1] domestic relations--whether husband and wife should fuse > into some kind of fabulous androgynous quadruped, go their > separate ways, or form an interdependent partnership > respecting the rights and values of each. >_______________________________________________________________ Now the analogy is fairly loose. The first option, the one that W. Warren Wagar is going to adopt below, is turned into a fantastic absurdity in the analogy, which diverts attention from the fact that he will select it -- in its original form, of course, and not in the form of the fantastic analogy. The second is quite obviously *not* a society of vying tribes without shared bonds and values. If the tribes *could* go their seperate ways, there wouldn't be nearly the problem of the tribes *vying*. In fact, I have seen that as a stronger assertion: More than five millenia ago, when the tribes *could* go their seperate ways, they *did* go their seperate ways rather than have to deal with the problem of power. Civilization happened because we ran out of unoccupited, prime real estate. And the third alternative that is posed is dispensed with by pretending that it is utopic. Real communities exist. Real communities do not rely exclusively on "mutual respect for the rights and values of each". They rely as well on institutions, rules regarding approved, permitted, and proscribed behavior, and rewards and sanctions enforcing the rules. And therefore, unless the term is explicitly redefined, we can presume that a community of communities will also have to rely on institutions, rules regarding approved, permitted, and proscribed behavior, and rewards and sanctions enforcing the rules. So in transforming the third alternative into a utopian fantasy, W. Warren Wagar evades addressing it as it was posed, and replaces it with an alternative that is much easier to dismiss. ________________________________________________________________ > > ... Obviously these > are not serious questions. No attempt is made to > problematize the issues at stake. The authors offer only > one "right" answer, the third path of partnership, of > mutualist multiculturalism, a future in which radical > feminism, fundamentalist Islam, populist libertarianism, > militant Hinduism, Marxian socialism, born-again > Christianity, megacorporate capitalism, Bosnian nationalism, > Serbian nationalism, and all the other colliding forces at > work in our whirling world somehow lie down together like > lions and lambs in the New Jerusalem and agree to eat grass, > or better yet, develop the capacity to feed themselves by > photosynthesis. It is a profoundly "nice" answer. It is > also profoundly wrong, at least for the 1990s. >_______________________________________________________________ And so the parable was only paving the way for recasting the "community of communities" alternative explicitly as a utopian fanatasy. It may well be that case that some proponents of the third alternative engage in sloppy thinking about it. It would not, in fact, be surprising if many proponents for each of the three alternatives presented engage in sloppy thinking about their favored alternatives. However, in casting the third alternative in the terms presented, only poorly thought through versions of the third alternative have been addressed. It should be obvious that a wishful-thinking community of wishful-thinking communities is not a serious alternative, and W. Warren Wagar's argument here lies on that obvious observation. However, since it is clearly an unfair reading of the third alternative, the possibility of a real-world community of real-world communities is not addressed by the argument. ________________________________________________________________ > > My own answer is to ask a fourth (and also leading) > question. "Should our society of vying tribes be > transformed into a single planetary civilization that > strives to make all people equal and free?" In other words, > should our system of predatory global capitalism flourishing > in a political environment of competing sovereign states be > replaced by a democratic, liberal, and socialist world > commonwealth? >_______________________________________________________________ And it is at this point that I would be prepared to argue that W. Warren Wagar has simply decided to select alternative 1, masking that fact by at the same time specifying some of the content that he wishes to impose on the uniform civilization. But I don't have to argue this, since W. Warren Wagar admits it in the nvery next paragraph: ________________________________________________________________ > > If you say yes, please note that you are not giving a > multiculturalist response. Your response implies, and > indeed requires, the acceptance by the great mass of > humankind of a common secular culture derived from the > intellectual revolution of the late 17th and 18th centuries > in Western Europe--from the Enlightenment and its sequels in > the 19th century. That common secular culture obviously has > roots deep in human history, but it happened to flower first > in one [Page 2] place and at one time. For many of the > same reasons, having nothing to do with race or gender, > Western Europe was also the cradle of the capitalist world- > economy. Because of the place and the time, those who > articulated the culture of the Enlightenment and its > sequels, from John Locke to Karl Marx, were almost entirely > Caucasian males. Is this a problem? No doubt. But it is > not a problem that will go away by chanting multiculturalist > mantras. >_______________________________________________________________ Again, defending the position he is proposing by posing a sloppy version of an opposition position, and then pointing out the weakness of that version of that position. Well, I don't buy it. The Enlightenment secular culture is particularly important as a progressive force because it is a tradition of more or less progressive thought from within the societies that had the means to impose their nasty old capitalist system[1] best guns and armies and ships. If the enlightenment had happened in Europe while the cradle of the capitalist world with the means to impose it on the rest of the world had been in East Asia, or East Africa, or South Asia, or Central America, it would have been the progressive tradition within the dominant culture that would have been important, except perhaps for some radical independence movements in Europe that drew on the enlightenment to show that Europeans had an indigenous progressive tradition. But that's not the most serious reason not to buy it. The serious reason not to buy it is that the solution proposed is so predictably the same old solutions magnified for the world stage. Form a political party, pursue a twin-track progressive front and underground subversion strategy, and grab the reigns of power. Habits of thought that lead along these lines is part of the problem, and so applying them on a world scale is the solution. The most constructive use I see for W. Warren Wagar's argument is as a challenge to elaborate the praxis of developing a community of commuities, as opposed to both alternative 1, the authoritarian solution W. Warren Wagar proposes to work toward (and an authoritarian solution will be the only way to impose a 'democratic world commonwealth' national government on a world-wide level), and alternative 2, the vying tribes, as we've seen for the last five millenium. Virtually, Bruce R. McFarling, Newcastle, NSW ecbm@cc.newcastle.edu.au [1] Yeah, this part is a bit tongue in cheek. Figuring out how much is left as an exercise for the reader. 8-)# --------------------------------------------------------------------------
McFarling on Wagar Thu, 25 Jul 1996 12:20:38 -0400 (EDT) wwagar@binghamton.edu Just a quick response to Bruce R. McFarling's response. Yes, my fourth alternative smells a little like the first. I think it's a different critter, but there are clearly similarities. Also, yes, I would like to challenge world-systems theorists and sociologists and anybody else to come up with a praxis of world integration or a praxis of community-building on a world scale that can prevent or at least mitigate wholesale chaos and the implosion of civilization in the next century. The refusal of most scholars nearly everywhere to move from theory and analysis to praxis has baffled me most of my life. Further, I do anticipate that beyond world integration will emerge a global community of communities, as discussed in the third book of my "A Short History of the Future." But I see no way to get there except through a transitional regime of socialist world government rooted in a shared world-view. If McFarling sees another way, excellent! Let him point it out! Regards, W. Warren Wagar ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Re: McFarling on Wagar Fri, 26 Jul 1996 09:54:57 +1000 Bruce R. McFarling (ecbm@cc.newcastle.edu.au) On Thu, 25 Jul 1996 wwagar@binghamton.edu wrote: > Just a quick response to Bruce R. McFarling's response. > ... Ditto [squared], since I have to head out today. But I would like to comment on: > ... > Further, I do anticipate that beyond world integration will emerge > a global community of communities, as discussed in the third book > of my "A Short History of the Future." But I see no way to get > there except through a transitional regime of socialist world > government rooted in a shared world-view. If McFarling sees > another way, excellent! Let him point it out! If a socialist world government rooted in a shared world-view, that is sufficiently effective at self-reproduction to establish and maintain itself and sufficiently ineffective to be a "transitional regime" is actually one way to get to a community of communities, that's one situation. I am very skeptical that it is. There may be ways to build a world government that is sufficiently effective at self-reproduction to establish itself, but if one of the ways that it establishes itself is by reducing the autonomy of communities -- which would seem necessary -- then I don't see how it is leading in the direction of a community of communities. And certainly I don't see what it is in the history of the Enlightenment tradition that offers any hope of leading us in that direction. So I don't know that I see a way, full stop, and that is taking the suggestion to head off in the opposite direction to get there into consideration. And, on a pragmatic note, after the long history in the Soviet Union of constantly moving toward communism but never making much progress, the argument that we can get to a community of communities via a single world state is going to be a bit of a hard sell. Virtually, Bruce R. McFarling, Newcastle, NSW ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Re: McFarling on Wagar Fri, 26 Jul 1996 11:08:12 -0400 (EDT) wwagar@binghamton.edu On Thu, 25 Jul 1996, Andrew W. Austin wrote: > > In a one world government where do you flee to when your government is > oppressing you? > > Andrew > Andrew, You left out the adjective "socialist." A socialist world government, which would also be democratic (or it couldn't be socialist), is a government that can be replaced or reformed democratically. If there is oppression, the means are at hand to fight back--through opposition parties, through the courts, through ombudspersons (= tribunes), through the media, whatever it takes. Regards, Warren -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Re: McFarling on Wagar Fri, 26 Jul 1996 10:32:25 -0500 (CDT) Andrew W. Austin (aaustin@mtsu.edu) A socialist society, if structured correctly, would have no centralized state. Socialist democracy is decentralized, stateless, and classless. If the world was comprised of autonomous socialist communities then the need for one world government would be rather absent, I think. At least I hope. Andy --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Re: McFarling on Wagar Fri, 26 Jul 1996 13:53:17 -0400 (EDT) wwagar@binghamton.edu Dear Andy, This is one vision of socialism, the vision of William Morris in "News from Nowhere." It may well be the telos of socialist evolution, although I see no reason why a socialist society need be decentralized, if the people choose otherwise. But meanwhile there simply has to be a transitional regime of global governance, to clean up the planet, redistribute wealth, dismantle national armed forces, and dispossess the old ruling and profiting elites. Will that regime be a lovely idyllic commonwealth of handsome lads and winsome maids, a la Morris? No. Will it make mistakes? Yes. Will it go wrong, and maybe horribly wrong, from time to time? Yes. I am not talking about utopia here, but a world in which we confront real dragons and really slay them. In the process we will frequently screw up, because we are human, all too human. Does the "example" of the Soviet Union mean we will make a complete mess of almost everything? Well, in history there are no examples. Nothing ever happens exactly the same way twice. All we can do is grit our teeth and do our best. Signing off for the week, Warren --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Re: McFarling on Wagar Fri, 26 Jul 1996 15:52:41 -0500 (CDT) Andrew W. Austin (aaustin@mtsu.edu) The Soviet Union is not an example of socialist democracy gone astray. The Soviet Union was set up like one big corporation. It was a disaster precisely because it was a centralized, top-down, command state economy that tried to do the things that you espouse. I cannot support any plan which seeks to make all cultures and all people live under global rule. If something goes horribly wrong I would rather it be in a small autonomous community than in a totalized world-system. In fact, the problem with the world today is centralized ruling structures and hierarchies of dominations that systematically deny human freedom and crush creativity. If the world is on an evolutionary telos towards socialism then we should see decentralization and greater autonomy of community. What we see is the movement towards a world capitalist order (really already upon us) with powerful (although dissimulated) bureaucratic state and ideological structures. I do not think your world is utopian--indeed, I fear your world precisely because it is not. Andy Austin ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Re: Wagar's World Fri, 26 Jul 1996 17:24:24 EST5EDT Terry Boswell (TBOS@socsci.ss.emory.edu) Contained within Autsin's critique of Wagar is a simple admission that, ironically, makes Wagar's point ring true. Austin states that, "What we see is the movement towards a world capitalist order (really already upon us) with powerful (although dissimulated) bureaucratic state and ideological structures." This is exactly right. Admitting as much completely changes the frame of debate. The question then is whether we have an undemocratic, capitalist world state or a democratic, socialist world state. What is utopian is the proposal that the world has no order. Terry Boswell -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Selling Internationalism to Phobics Sun, 28 Jul 1996 17:49:42 -0500 J. Timmons Roberts (timmons@mailhost.tcs.tulane.edu) WSNers: After reading some of the posts on Wager's comments about the need for an international state(s) of some sort, I made the mistake of listening to talk radio while driving around yesterday. Only about 12 hours after the bomb at the Olympics, the host was going on about how tacky Centennial Park in Atlanta was, and how the Olympics are another example of creeping internationalism that must be stopped. My own work on global environmental problems and the flight of corporations to avoid labor and pollution regulations makes me keenly aware of the need for strong international controls and at least what Chase-Dunn used to call "A U.N. with Teeth," to enforce them. Perhaps even more is needed, along the lines of an international state. But my point today is simply that selling an international state to that segment of the "masses" who are afraid of anything on a greater scale than their municipal government is going to be tough, to say the least. How does one encourage citizenry and politicians to "give up control" to the larger bodies needed to keep our species alive? That's all. Timmons --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Re: Wagar's World Mon, 29 Jul 1996 11:30:08 +1000 Bruce R. McFarling (ecbm@cc.newcastle.edu.au) On Date: Fri, 26 Jul 1996 11:08:12 -0400 (EDT), W. Warren Wagar (wwagar@binghamton.edu) wrote: > On Thu, 25 Jul 1996, Andrew W. Austin wrote: >> In a one world government where do you flee to when your government is >> oppressing you? > You left out the adjective "socialist." A socialist > world government, which would also be democratic (or it couldn't > be socialist), is a government that can be replaced or reformed > democratically. If there is oppression, the means are at hand > to fight back--through opposition parties, through the courts, > through ombudspersons (= tribunes), through the media, whatever > it takes. This argument relies on a presumption that would appear to be in dispute. The presumption is that a one world government *can* be authoritarian enough to impose itself on the world, and at the same time democratic enough to permit individuals to successfully fight against oppresion. So the response begs the question: in writing the Future history, the government can be made sufficiently effective at preventing opposition to establish itself, but sufficiently ineffective at preventing opposition that it can be reformed or replaced democratically. On Fri, 26 Jul 1996, Andrew W. Austin wrote: > The Soviet Union is not an example of socialist democracy gone astray. The > Soviet Union was set up like one big corporation. It was a disaster > precisely because it was a centralized, top-down, command state economy > that tried to do the things that you espouse. ... Since this was under a "McFarling on Wagar" subject line, it was ambiguous who Andrew Austin was responding to. But in any event, notice that we have an example here of a effort to establish a transnational state. Would it have remained in place longer if it was less effective at imposing top-down decisions upon the nations within the state; or would it have fallen apart sooner; or would it never have been established? Perhaps it could be compared to the West Indian Federation, which incorporated sufficient freedom for inhabitants of individual islands to express by democratic vote whether to pursue independence collectively or to pursue indpendence individually -- and when Jamaica pulled out, Trinidad and Tobago pulled out, and after a period of trying to put together a small island WI Federation, even Barbados pulled out and went it alone (see _The Agony of the Eight_). That's less than 5 million people in the Federation, at the time: it would appear that a system that only met a limited subset of the criteria for socialism still permitted too much freedom of action to permit the establishment of a trans- English-speaking Caribbean island governmnet. Which is the question I posed: how is this party effective enough to establish a one-world government in the face of organized opposition from the states that will have to be incorporated by force, while at the same time it remains open enough to opposition that it simply surrenders power in the face of internal democratic opposition? Saying that if it qualifies for labelling as socialist, it won't be oppressive, is simply evading the question: in those terms, how is this party effective enough to establish a one-world government while at the same time it is socialist enough to establish a government that can be overturned peacefully? Virtually, Bruce R. McFarling, Newcastle, NSW -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Re: Wagar's World Mon, 29 Jul 1996 21:45:24 -0600 (NSK) Nikolai S. Rozov (ROZOV@cnit.nsu.ru) Enjoying Bruce's crucial questions I dare to add some more: 1. What are any real signs of moving towards world socialist state? What can prevail real geopolitical, geoeconomic, civilizational underlying and current surface conflicts? 2. Why ecological, demographic and other crises, 'world revolution' will lead to world socialism, not to confrontation of much more severe versions of modern regimes? Doesn't history and theory of revolutions' results tell that initial popular dreams always were crashed and most cynical, demagogic parts of previous elits win the game? Isn't world socialism a mere chimera non- worthy for discussion? 3. Even if after terrible disasters some collective force manages to get all world power and proclaims itself 'socialist' what factors save it from fast shifting to totalitarian anti-utopia? 4. What really proponents of world socialism mean by 'socialist' besides 'good' or 'humanistic'? What political-economic regime would have a world socialist state? What would be the destiny of non-state capital, property, institutions? If they become subordinate to the world state why will not beaurocracy grasp ALL power and eliminate democracy? If they preserve current autonomy what will be the difference from capitalism? If just taxes encrease (as in Sweden model) for global programs realization what are guarantees against giant corrupcy of giant pyramids of officals? 5. Why nobody of Western scholars say a word of amelioration of international LEGAL system? (For Russian intelligentsia, so tired from revolutionaty, state and emperal ideologies, the West is a symbol of idea of Law, legal approach to social problems, and high art for making coalitions). Why in these discussions the only voice from Siberia calls for legal approach and rational coalition-making? best wishes from Novosibirsk Akademgorodok (I am already here, but really there is much to lose) Nikolai Rozov -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The World Party: Too Weak or Too Strong? Mon, 29 Jul 1996 11:20:07 -0400 (EDT) wwagar@binghamton.edu Dear Bruce, Your question at the end of this morning's post is perfectly fair. "How is this party effective enough to establish a one-world government in the face of organized opposition from the states that will have to be incorporated by force, while at the same time it remains open enough to opposition that it simply surrenders power in the face of internal democratic opposition?" In "A Short History of the Future" I take the easy way out--the world in the aftermath of a cataclysmic North-South war is so shattered that most of the survivors embrace the regime of the World Party without needing much persuasion. Some states and remnants of states put up a fight, but they are too weak to prevail. Thereafter the World Party, learning from many past horrors, insists on ruling democratically and gradually, over the decades, attracts mounting opposition. It loses its resilience, but in the final crisis imposes martial law in a last-ditch effort to save itself. So it does not "surrender" power gracefully, but in effect the power has drained out of it, and the world order is then radically restructured to permit the rise of autonomous communities of all shapes and sizes and flavors. Also helping to smooth the transition is the bioengineering of a new, more altruistic human type (this part will be dismissed by all social science purists as a neo-fascist fantasy, but the progress of genetics in recent years convinces me such a thing is eminently possible). In a world not shattered by a catastrophic war (or environmental or economic collapse), the World Party would obviously have a much more awesome task. I have no idea whether it could succeed. In my scenario it is not even formed until the 2030s, and until the war breaks out (in 2044) it makes little progress. The short-term prospects for Homo sapiens are bleak, as Wallerstein keeps telling us. All I am trying to do is plant the idea that an alternative to drift, disintegration, and despair is imaginable. Best wishes, Warren -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
the world party Tue, 30 Jul 1996 11:13:44 -0700 chris chase-dunn (chriscd@jhu.edu) thanks to all who have contributed to the discussion of the world party and the world state. i agree with warren wagar, except for a few details. there needs to be a world state to sort out the problems that capitalism and human social evolution have created. a state is a monopoly of legitimate violence. governance, commonwealth, federation, all these words will be needed but fundamentally the problem is to create a monopoly of legitimate violence. this because one of the main unsolved and cyclical products of capitalism is warfare. and warfare under modern technological conditions is species suicide. in this regard things are somewhat worse than wagar imagines. because he accepts the position that world wars occur during Kondratief downswings he thinks the likely time for the next one is 2044. unfortunately goldstein has shown that world wars are most likely to occur at the end of k-wave upswings. that would be some time in the 2020s. some see the possibility of global ecological disaster within a similar time frame. the second problem is this. the world party cannot simply wait for the capitalist world-system to destroy itself and most of the people on earth. it must act to prevent that from happening. even though a world state is the best solution as an instrument for creating a more just and sustainable world society (call it socialism, call it democracy, call it a collectively rational and democratic global commonwealth, call it strawberry jello) there is not likely to emerge a world state strong enough to prevent a war among core states in the next twenty five years even if we try very hard, which we should do. given the high probability of nuclear annihilation, that means looking hard at possible substitutes for the world state. one possibility, though it may not be much more likely than a world state, is a renewed US hegemony. yes folks. that is what i said. this is a hard conclusion for someone who spent his youth opposing US imperialism. talk me out of it.
chris
p.s. this line of reasoning is spelled out in more detail in Chase-Dunn and Podobnik, "The next world war: world-system cycles and trends" _Journal of World-Systems Research_ 1,6 1995. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Response to Chris Chase-Dunn Tue, 30 Jul 1996 13:15:04 -0400 (EDT) wwagar@binghamton.edu Just a few postscripts to Chris's comment of 30 July. I am not a firm believer in the thesis that world wars occur during Kondratieff downswings. In fact I am not enough of a sociologist to believe that world wars must occur during any part of any cycle. The greatest world war ever was brewed in the murky vat of the Great Depression, but its baleful predecessor came during a time of general prosperity. A further point. My argument that the next world war may occur in 2044 is not really an argument at all: it is a scenario, one among many that I might have chosen. I do not believe that another world war is inevitable, or that it has to come during a downswing, or that it could not happen in the 2020s. There is enough instability and injustice in the present world-system to allow it to erupt at almost any time, and there are enough problems in the present world-economy to produce runaway inflation, famine, and environmental collapse in a matter of a decade or two. For example, as Lester Brown asks, who will feed China? China is on a collision course with catastrophe and this matters profoundly to everybody else on earth. Of course I agree with Chris that the World Party must not wait for the capitalist world-system to destroy itself. It would have to do its best to prevent such a thing, because there is no way that the death of one or two or five billion people can be justified. There is no way to justify the death of anybody. But as Chris goes on to say, the World Party might not be able to keep the system from suicide. Maybe a renewed US hegemony will turn out to be the least of the various evils in store for humankind. Better red, white, and blue than dead? In any event, the one thing this discussion has not elicited, to any great extent, is attention to praxis. The session at the ASA last summer that started all this was supposed to be devoted to praxis. How do we get from here to there? Even if we can't agree on what's happening here and what's needed there--and that's par for the course in left circles--couldn't we at least focus for once on appropriate means? If the World Party is a pipedream, what would be better? If it's not a pipedream, how should it be organized, how should it operate, what kind of politics should it pursue? To echo Chris, how do we prepare strawberry jello? Warren ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Re: Response to Chris Chase-Dunn Wed, 31 Jul 1996 00:11:39 -0600 (CST) Kerry (macdonak@Meena.CC.URegina.CA) On Tue, 30 Jul 1996 wwagar@binghamton.edu wrote: > Just a few postscripts to Chris's comment of 30 July. I am not a > firm believer in the thesis that world wars occur during Kondratieff > downswings. In fact I am not enough of a sociologist to believe that > world wars must occur during any part of any cycle. The greatest world > war ever was brewed in the murky vat of the Great Depression, but its > baleful predecessor came during a time of general prosperity. I would agree, Kondratieff's economic theory is deterministic, mechanistic, instrumental and other bad things :). He attempted to create a grand theory of capital accumulation to explain why capitalism had failed to fall apart. I dislike because it's not only non-dialectical but it negates humanity (given that the two are dependent I guess I'm being redundant ... oh well). > Of course I agree with Chris that the World Party must not wait > for the capitalist world-system to destroy itself. It would have to do > its best to prevent such a thing, because there is no way that the death > of one or two or five billion people can be justified. There is no way to > justify the death of anybody. But as Chris goes on to say, the World > Party might not be able to keep the system from suicide. Maybe a renewed > US hegemony will turn out to be the least of the various evils in store > for humankind. Better red, white, and blue than dead? And that way only those who resist the support of dictatorships go missing or tortured. As for the rest they are simply exploited, forced to work in unsafe conditions, are underemployed, dieing many years before their time (using our lifespans in the North as a comparison). That is better. Wars are simply dramatic death, out of the ordinary. More people die in Canada in industrial accidents than those who are murdered. People have been so commodified and objectified that they are no longer even personell they are human resources. No different than a wrench or plow. The system perpetuates a "state of violence" in the way that people are organized. Granted, here in the North and for those in affluent positions war is a justifiably poorer alternative, however, to argue that Pan America is the answer (or to be fair, the lesser of our evils) is not something that is so apparent. It depends more upon where one is sitting as to whether or not that is an appropriate choice. By the way, what is this "World Party"? Is it B.Y.O.B.? :) > In any event, the one thing this discussion has not elicited, to > any great extent, is attention to praxis. The session at the ASA last > summer that started all this was supposed to be devoted to praxis. How do > we get from here to there? Even if we can't agree on what's happening > here and what's needed there--and that's par for the course in left > circles--couldn't we at least focus for once on appropriate means? If the Means? Hmmmmm? Given that praxis is the combination of theory and action in a dialectical relationship I'm not so sure how an "appropriate means" can be accomplished. This is not to say that we are emascualated or incapable of action (a la Marcuse's great refusal), its only that there is always a kind of "fast food", instant gratification, that seems to embrace certain elements within the left - let's' do something, anything approach. I would submit that much of the angst within the left arises from that need to do it now. It has been said that Rome wasn't built in a day and neither was capitalism and I don't think that it's eradication is going to be accomplished in a few years or even decades. It seems to me that much of what has happened with the left is that it sees that the system is bad and we only need to do this or that and the whole thing will change. This was the hope with the Russian Revolution and we all saw how that worked itself out. The current fad is variations on Schumacher's "small is beautiful". Regardless, the left constantly sets itself up for disappointment; which has lead to a kind of retreat (a la the Frankfurt School boys) or resignation and embracing the "enemy", IMO. > World Party is a pipedream, what would be better? If it's not a > pipedream, how should it be organized, how should it operate, what kind of > politics should it pursue? To echo Chris, how do we prepare strawberry > jello? It isn't simply politics it is social interaction, society needs to be changed. The seisure of the state, whether by force as in the case of the various communist movements, or by the ballot box, as with the numerous democratic socialist governments, just dosen't work. The state is embedded within a system of pre-existing social practices which happers what it can do (Marx is much more elegant upon this point in the German Ideology). IMO, the only way that society will change is when the way that people interrelate changes. Thus stealing an old feminist cleche "the personal is political", we need to change the way that people think and act towards one another; new institutions, networks of interaction, need to constructed. This all takes time and it needs to powerful enough to withstain the hegemonic social norms in order to sustain itself as an alternative. This will take decades or possible centuries or it could simply be a footnote of history (as many of the counter-hegemonic attempts during the Middle Ages were.) The strategy needs to contain certain elements: 1) the critique of the existing systems needs to be continued and disseminated; 2) counter-hegemonic institutions or personal practices need to tried out; 3) that those institutions must also be open to critique; 4) that "support systems" need to be created to provide sustenance (in a subjective sense) to those groups; 5) that people appreciate that what they are doing may only bear fruit for their children's children (if lucky); and, finally (in the sense that I can't think of anymore at the moment :)) that dialectical reasoning becomes more prevalent. This may work or it may not, but the nice thing is that we have time or at least take the time. If the world blows up well that would be unfortunate and we should attempt to insure that the probability is minimized but that shouldn't make us attempt to force something that can't be forced. Or then again I could be off in left field :) kerry ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Re: the world party Wed, 31 Jul 1996 17:36:30 +1000 Bruce R. McFarling (ecbm@cc.newcastle.edu.au) On Tue, 30 Jul 1996, chris chase-dunn wrote: > i agree with warren wagar, except for a few details. there needs to > be a world state to sort out the problems that capitalism and human > social evolution have created. a state is a monopoly of legitimate > violence. governance, commonwealth, federation, all these words will be > needed but fundamentally the problem is to create a monopoly of > legitimate violence. this because one of the main unsolved and cyclical > products of capitalism is warfare. and warfare under modern > technological conditions is species suicide. Two points come to my mind here. First, my own query was focused on the feasibility of a one world state *as specified* by Wagar. If *that* one world state is not feasible, the above argument would indicate a necesity to work toward a one-world state as a first priority, and as the next priority struggle toward the type of one-world state we desire. On the other hand, I don't see any movement more likely to lead to a dramatic escalation in the current level of warfare than an effort to build a one-world government and wrest sovereignty from the nation-state. And in order for the less centralized multi-lateral institutions implied by the 'community of communities' alternative to be effective, the constituent communities cannot be as large as the present day US, Russia, China, India, etc. So either way, whichever is feasible and/or desireable, some fundamental changes at the level of the present-day nation-state may be necessary, in order to effectively manage the problem that Chris Chase-Dunn identifies. > in this regard things are somewhat worse than wagar imagines. because he > accepts the position that world wars occur during Kondratief downswings > he thinks the likely time for the next one is 2044. unfortunately > goldstein has shown that world wars are most likely to occur at the end > of k-wave upswings. that would be some time in the 2020s. And the above line of argument would only reinforce this conclusion. > some see the possibility of global ecological disaster within a similar > time frame. Even more problematic, on the time scales of higher-level ecosystem processes, global ecological disaster could occur within this time frame while it takes much longer for its full effects to be felt. An interstate system in which a clear and present danger is necessary (and even then often not sufficient) to provoke effective multi-lateral action is a serious obstacle in addressing problems with delayed onset of the most severe effects. > the second problem is this. the world party cannot simply wait for > the capitalist world-system to destroy itself and most of the people > on earth. it must act to prevent that from happening. > even though a world state is the best solution as an instrument for > creating a more just and sustainable world society (call it socialism, > call it democracy, call it a collectively rational and democratic global > commonwealth, call it strawberry jello) there is not likely to emerge > a world state strong enough to prevent a war among core states in the > next twenty five years even if we try very hard, which we should do. So, while I am not persuaded of the premise, I mostly agree with the assertion. > given the high probability of nuclear annihilation, that means looking > hard at possible substitutes for the world state. one possibility, > though it may not be much more likely than a world state, is a renewed > US hegemony. yes folks. that is what i said. this is a hard conclusion > for someone who spent his youth opposing US imperialism. talk me out of > it. OK, I'll have a go at it. Renewed hegemony would only prevent war if it was successful and preemptive. And in a sense, that is precisely how hegemony works: it is not a static structure that makes for a dominant power, but the effective exercise of its advantages in a way that successfully renews its advantages. The re-emergence of tri-polar trading bloc structures that Tieting Su wrote of in last year's JWSR tells us of the growing ineffectiveness of US efforts to renew its dominant advantages. Is increasingly intense conflict between the US and rival nation- states, in an effort to re-impose US dominance, a strategy that reduces the likelihood of war? I don't think it is. This may be simple-minded, but I would see a strategy that reduces the intensity of conflict between the US and rival nation-states as a strategy that would be more likely to reduce the likelihood of war. That calls for a rethink of the economic Life Space of the US as originally envisioned in the 1930's. Consider when North and South America was considered to be insufficient as a an economic 'Life Space' for the US, one reason to look to the Western Pacific Rim as adding the missing element was the distance of the Western Pacific Rim from Europe as opposed to the West Coast of the US. At the time the strategy underrated the dangerousness of conflict with Japan. However, the only other direction in which to push, eastward across the South Atlantic to Africa, would have immediately involved the US in conflicts with European powers -- and even worse, would have immediately entangled the US in conflicts among European powers. But today? The US is focused on the Pacific Rim and conflict with Japan over overlapping trade blocs in the Pacific Rim -- while Africa is uncontested. Of course, pursuit of a South Atlantic strategy would require the US to re-think its relationship with both South American and African nations -- and in particular, the difference between economic interests of the US and the economic interests of those trans-national corporations that have their flagship headquarters in the U.S. This intersects with the question I raised in a different thread, as to whether it is sensible to view the current multi-national economic institutions as potential resources for development. In any event, *if* the US trade bloc could be re-oriented to reduce the overlap between the core of the US trade bloc, the core of the Japanes trade bloc, and the core of the German trade bloc, that seems to me to be a more promising strategy to reducing the threat of substantially expanded warfare than a drive by the US to re-assert itself as global hegemon. Virtually, Bruce R. McFarling, Newcastle, NSW -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Re: the world party Wed, 31 Jul 1996 17:36:39 -0600 (NSK) Nikolai S. Rozov (ROZOV@cnit.nsu.ru) Dear Chris, completely supporting you in peaceful and humanistic aspirations I need an answer for the following questions and comments > From: chris chase-dunn > > the problem is to create a monopoly of > legitimate violence. even if this statement is accepted you cannot deduce from it the necessity of world state and even world party (such party will be strongly associated with starving for world power with all negative sequences), there is another alternative: to preserve monopoly of legitimate violence of nation-states (or their united regional forces) on their territories but only if these states (or unions) are appropriate to definite globally accepted values and correspondent legal standards (see my yesterday reply to Chris Robinson). So not a world party but maximally wide coalition of all kinds of social, political, economic, and cultural(f.e. religious) forces is needed for working out and accepting this set of values and standards. A world state is not necessary to make nation- states to respect these standards; if a wide coalition of core and semiperipheral nations subscribe to these values and legal standards, the threat of global economic, political, and cultural ostrakism will be more efficient and much less dangerous than world state for shifting to global totalitarianism >this because one of the main unsolved and cyclical > products of capitalism is warfare. this traditional Marxian thesis is by no means evident now and needs serious argumentation, I would be grateful if you share it with us, at least in main points. Were there in the world less warfare before capitalism? (even if to date capitalism since Phoenicians as you did in the book 'Comparing W-Systems') Diakonoff communicates that in 3-1 millenia BC in all Central civilization even merchants going to foreign countries with very peaceful purposes had no such notion as 'foreign country'. ENEMIES COUNTRY was the only existing concept that times! to struggle now for ceasing warfare - yes, but to hope that having destoyed capitalism we solve this problem seems to me now very naive. In the eve of XX Bolshevics in Russia just in this way hoped that they cease ALL warfare, ALL exploitation, ALL corrupcy, ALL classes, ALL crimes, ALL prostitution, and even adulter by destroying capitalism, because they considered all these sins to be its products. To think so in the end of XX ? - strange... > there is not likely to emerge > a world state strong enough to prevent a war among core states in the > next twenty five years even if we try very hard, which we should do. yes, but why nothing was sayed on nuclear disarmament and possibilities to use existance of subjectivity of core-states leaders, governments, public opinion, electorate? You talk on wars and Kondrattieffs presumes doctrine of historicism (fairly criticised by K.Popeer in 'The Poverty of Historicism') as some objective historical course independant of epiphenomenal human consciousness. I suggest to discuss the the legal world order (including tax policy, custom policy,investment policy, etc) that makes gradually arms production and trade non-profitable, but ecological, medicine, educational production more and more profitable. In parallel a wide propaganda should begin for persuading leaders and peoples not to raise but to contract armaments, to subordinate ALL military operations ONLY to the judgements of international Court acting in the framework of globally accepted legal order. Is it a very difficult task? - yes it is, but not more than to manage to construct over nations a world state with all needed monopolies, or to legitimate prolongation and to give such monopolies to US hegemony. > > given the high probability of nuclear annihilation, that means looking > hard at possible substitutes for the world state. one possibility, though > it may not be much more likely than a world state, is a renewed US > hegemony. yes folks. that is what i said. this is a hard conclusion > for someone who spent his youth opposing US imperialism. talk me out of > it. US has too deeply rooted tradition for double standards concerning the care of America with US-citizens, and peoples of all other world. The last feel it rather well and that's why this idea will hardly go. Why not to discuss multi-polar partnership with monopoly for legitime military operations based on accepting global legal standards? I would not even argue against the leading role of US in this partnership, but such political, military, economic forces of EU, Japan, Russia, China, India, Brasilia, South Africa, maybe Turkey, Egypt, and Iran (as leaders of correspondent geopolitical regions) should be necessarely presented in this partnership. Isn't it more realistic and less dangeorous than idea of world state and US hegemony? my best regards, yours Nikolai ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- [Fwd: the world party] Wed, 31 Jul 1996 11:01:58 -0700 chris chase-dunn (chriscd@jhu.edu) dear andy, thanks for your contributions to the discusssion of the world party. you are right that there is a theoretical basis behind the thinking of some of the participants. i would recommend that you have a look at Thomas R. Shannon, _An Introduction to the World-Systems Perpective_ Westview Press, 2nd edition 1996. on Kondratief waves see Joshua Goldstein, _Long Cycles: Prosperity and War in the Modern Age_ Princeton UP 1988. regarding your mention of the global corporatist transformation, this is the answer to wagar's question about praxis. the task is to formulate a global response to neo-liberalism. this will involve a new labor internationalism, a popular and cordinated approach to the environment, reforming the United Nations to make it more democratic and effective, and coordinated national efforts to elect popular governments that can coordinate their efforts to resist exploitation by the megacorps. lets do it! chris ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Re: the world party Fri, 2 Aug 1996 13:34:53 +0100 (BST) Richard K. Moore (rkmoore@iol.ie) 7/30/96, chris chase-dunn wrote: >...in this regard things are somewhat worse than wagar imagines. because he >accepts the position that world wars occur during Kondratief downswings >he thinks the likely time for the next one is 2044. unfortunately >goldstein has shown that world wars are most likely to occur at the end >of k-wave upswings. that would be some time in the 2020s. To ignore all the uniquely new realities of the modern world, and depend on "k-wave upswings" for predictions, makes no more sense than reading tea leaves. Allow me to re-iterate A Austin's comment in this regard... 7/31/96, Andrew W. Austin wrote: > ...I think much of what goes on this channel suffers from a >very intellectually bounded view of the world, one where some very broad >concepts and theories reduce the ability to think about the world to very >narrow eschatologies. ...illegitimate teleologies with all >the trappings of a Nostradamus. chris chase-dunn continues: >...given the high probability of nuclear annihilation, that means looking >hard at possible substitutes for the world state. one possibility, though >it may not be much more likely than a world state, is a renewed US >hegemony. yes folks. that is what i said. this is a hard conclusion >for someone who spent his youth opposing US imperialism. talk me out of >it. What's this about "renewed" US hegemony? The U.S has global hegemony, has had it since 1945, and has it more totally now than ever before. The hegemony has been so pervasive that use of the nuclear arsenal hasn't even been necessary. But it's always there as a backup, in case any real threat arises to American power. As for a world state, that's exactly what we're getting, because that's what the U.S. elite wants. Having achieved military hegemony in 1945, they had strategic options as to how to exploit that in the post-war world. They could have opted for a classical U.S.-centric imperialist system -- an enlarged British Empire, if you will. But they chose not to, partly because (I imagine) it would have been difficult to manage PR-wise, partly because it would have created the seeds of global rebellion, and partly because such empires are problematic to manage and maintain. But they weren't going to fritter away their advantage either. They did decide to maintain U.S. military hegemony, manufacturing the "Soviet threat" as an excuse for the necessary expenditures. But in the economic realm, they had more subtle designs for their new world order than an unwieldy U.S.-centric trading empire. What they chose instead was to dismantle the trappings of classical European imperialism, create lots of little fledgling "independent" nations, and thereby create a "level playing field" for global capitalism. To use a metaphor from American mythology, you might say capitalism graduated from a Wild West stage of existence, and that the time had come to urbanize the Western Frontier -- banks and marshalls instead of shoot-em-up anarchy. What we see in the current globalist initiative (GATT and all that) is the codification of what has been an ad-hoc set of U.S.-sponsored arrangements for this new world order. This is the world government we're heading for, and it has no trappings of democracy, and it won't be needing core-power warfare -- k-waves or tea-leaves notwithstanding. The problem with cycle-based theories is that they can't anticipate the impact of change-of-state paradigm shifts. IMHO, rkm --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Re: the world party Mon, 5 Aug 1996 13:06:29 -0400 (EDT) wwagar@binghamton.edu Dear Christian, Yes, that is exactly the question. How? And yes, there is no hint in 1996 of anything like a World Party forming anywhere. But you can't leap from this observation to the conclusion that "it ain't gonna happen." The more people who believe that the best way to confront the challenge of a proliferating globalizing capitalism aided and abetted by the nation-state system is to build a global political formation to oppose that system, the more likely it is that a nucleus of activists here or there will begin to build one--or several. We have to start with some kind of rough consensus about what must be done. Never mind the odds. They're pretty low. So what? We don't have the option of moving to Mars. You play with the hand you've been dealt. What comes first is a climate of expectation for authentically antisystemic global political action. The more people who share that expectation, the more likelihood it can provoke serious attempts to move from theory to praxis. In short, you gotta believe! Warren --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Re: the world party Tue, 6 Aug 1996 14:02:56 -0600 (NSK) Nikolai S. Rozov (ROZOV@cnit.nsu.ru) It's my answer to Chris Chase-Dunn: >From: chris chase-dunn : >Nikolai Rosov (sorry Chris, my name is RoZov) >suggests: > > Why not to discuss multi-polar partnership with monopoly for legitime >military operations based on accepting global legal standards? I would >not even argue against the leading role of US in this partnership, but >such political, military, economic forces of EU, Japan, Russia, China, >India, Brasilia, South Africa, maybe Turkey, Egypt, and Iran (as leaders >of correspondent geopolitical regions) should be necessarely presented >in this partnership. > >ok. lets call it a multipolar partnership, not a world state. fine. how >can we make this happen? There are two main sides here: a) a principal strategy that must be historically and/or theoretically based, and b) organizational tactics based on given conjuncture of political-social forces, probable finance resources, already existing organizations, current ideological patterns and even personal relations I will discuss here only the primary sketch of the point (a) The results of comparative analysis of success-nonsuccess of national political-economic reforms in France and Russia (XVIII-XX) made by one Russian historian showed the following necessary options: 1) to split ruling elite that benefits from existing situation, and to get support from 'new' part of ruling elit which hopes to ameliorate its position by reform and winning over 'old' elit 2) to block up for active reactionary policy of 'old' elit in initial period 3) to have new popular ideology and political leader(s) that manage to show people the advantages of reform for their life and starvings, to manage to interpret all misfortunes as effects of 'old evil' that should be eliminated by the reform, 4) to organize adequate channels of information and political action 5) to begin to solve crucial problems (distribution of resourses, power, etc) only after gaining so large political and public support that main state institutions and military forces take the side of reform in order not to occur in the camp of losers Extrapolation of this strategy from national to global level seems to me possible if we make the following replacements: 'old elit' - those TNC, with supporting them governmental, finance institutions of the core and international organizations that mostly win from inequality, exploitation, pollutive industries, arms races and production, wars, etc 'new elit' - those TNC (with their supporting political and financial forces!) that can win from legal narrowing of frames of action for 'old elit'; new elit is more interested in appearing of wide middle class (as mass consumers) in poor countries, in spread of ecological, medicine, educaive, etc. industry, in conversion of arms production 'new popular ideology' - here I believe only in national (not world-wide!) versions. Each new national ideology should show how this given nation (US or Russia, or UK, or Japan) win from new legal international order. At the same time all these national ideologies must be mutually compatible on the base of some hidden but theoretically based global standards and values (see the msg of Chris Robinson and my answer to him) 'new popular leader' - here, friends, I cannot imagine anything better then to work on new candidates of national leaders (Presidents, congressmen, deputates, etc.) that will make new global legal order and correspondent nat.ideology a center of their political programs, It is not also impossible to work with current national leaders, remember how Aurelio Peccei with his Club of Roma managed to work so successfully with leaders of Austria, Sweden and other European countries on ecological issues; 'channels of information and political action': Internet seems to efficient mainly for initial work of intellectuals sitting in universities: program making, planning and coordination. Internet and academic work can and should be used also for 'public academic monitoring of national policies and international institutions'. This issue I plan to discuss in my answer to Bruce McFarling concerning 'how to change IMF'. At the same time, the work with electorate requires TV and newspapers that means necessity of strategic alliance with correspondent 'new' financial and political forces standing behind these mass-media means 'main state institutions'(on national level) - governments, parlaments, international institutions (such as EU, NAFTA, WTO, int. courts - on global level) 'military forces' - mainly NATO and US forces, but interests, proportions and trends of growth of national forces of nuclear countries (f.e. China) must be also taken into account So in most fortunate scenario I expect not less than 5-10 years of mere propaganda, coalition-making, network-making and work in elections. Only after having 'new' leaders in majority of core states (f.e. in B-7) (as presidents or rather srong and representative opposition) it will be possible to realize new legal standards. One hidden but most significant part of these new agreements will be a new division of the world and here I follow the brilliant idea of Bruce concerning non-overlapping of fields of interst between main core powers. Once again, dear Chris and Warren and other left-oriented wsn-ers, any 'antisystemic' ideology or movement only rallies (fastens) the existing 'system' (and ALL elit as its head). To split the system, to split the global elit, i.e. to get in our side a vast coalition including 'systemic' political and financial forces - this is the only way to more humanistic future! best regards, Nikolai ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tue, 6 Aug 1996 12:10:23 +0100 (BST) Richard K. Moore (rkmoore@iol.ie) 8/03/96, SS wrote: >quoting me: >> What's this about "renewed" US hegemony? The U.S has global >> hegemony, has had it since 1945, and has it more totally now than ever >> before. >If you have any evidence that the US has hegemony over China, please send >it to me.. Could it be the way China so thoroughly complied with US >demands that it live by our copyright rules? Or the way Chinese rulers >pay so much attention to US complaints about who they sell weapons to? >Yup, US nuclear power really has the Chinese quaking in their boots. China is indeed a singular case. I take it as obvious that the U.S. has the military _capability_ to destroy China: in a matter of hours the U.S. _could_ reduce China to rubble, destroying its military capacity, economic infrastructure, and who knows how many cities. But I take your point that my use of the word "hegemony" may have been questionable. I _thought_ hegemony meant "having predominant military power", whereas my dictionary says: "hegemony: The predominant influence of one nation over others" What you seem to be saying, then, is that since the Chinese don't cower under the potential U.S. threat, that actual hegemony isn't operative. As long as they believe U.S. power is a "paper tiger", then hegemony is only potential, not real. In this regard, I think the case of Iraq and the Desert Storm are relevant. Saddham thumbed his nose at U.S. power (military, diplomatic, and economic), much as you're saying the Chinese do, right up until Iraq got clobbered. The reality of U.S. hegemony over Iraq was proven to the world by force, even if Saddham continues to live in a fantasy world. In light of these considerations, I'd refine my claim as follows: The U.S. has the military power to assert hegemony wherever it chooses, but this potential hegemony is exercised/implemented to different degrees in different parts of the world, depending partly on diplomatic/public-opinion considerations. When a country's behavior crosses some unspecified line, in terms of acceptability to the U.S., then the reality of the hegemony comes under test. The U.S. has diplomatic, propagandistic, and economic leverage which it can bring to bear in this regard. An new test of U.S. hegemony is now coming to the fore in the cases of Iran and Libya. We have the new U.S. law attempting to influence affairs there by penalizing European corporate investments. We also have the announcement that the U.S. in considering a unilateral nuclear strike against an alleged Libyan chemical weapons facility. Given the earlier precedent of a unilateral U.S. air strike against Libya, carried out with impunity, it seems evident that the U.S. is now flexing its muscles in preparation for additional "hegemony implementation" in the region. In particular, there is an apparent desire to create an historic precedent: to break the "no nukes" taboo, thereby bringing the U.S. nuclear arsenal into the "kit bag" of credible enforcement tools. In the case of China, I believe the test of hegemony would come if and when China tries to take some international action that the U.S. finds unacceptable (not just objectionable), or if and when China's own nuclear capability threatens to become a credible deterrent to U.S. military action. In the recent confrontation between Taiwan and China, the U.S. demonstrated its willingness to "show the flag" in the region. I assume a large number of U.S. missles, especially on submarines, were programmed for Chinese targets during that crisis, and that the Chinese leaders had to act with such an assumption in mind. --- >I'd >also love to know why the US is organizing South Central Asia the way it >is. I didn't know that endless civil wars and religious fundamentalism >were ideals of US elites, but I may be mistaken.... "Destabilization" has been frequently a recognized goal of covert U.S. foreign policy. It is a way to break down the existing political/economic structures of a country or region, so that they can then be reconstructed in a way more favorable to elite interests. The whole destabilization of the former U.S.S.R. and Eastern Europe is a case in point. In the case of the Mideast, we have a "perpetual destablization" scenario. With an over-armed Israel funded by the U.S., the covert funding of splinter terrorist groups, the encouragement and support of dinosaur regimes in the region, and other measures, the U.S. keeps the region in turmoil, and permits the oil-producing nations to be played off against one another. This is one way of exercising hegemony. >again, quoting me: >> To use a metaphor from American mythology, you might say capitalism >> graduated from a Wild West stage of existence, and that the time had come >> to urbanize the Western Frontier -- banks and marshalls instead of >> shoot-em-up anarchy... >Mostly true, but the economic world we are headed for is one where the US >is only one of many players, and it soon will not be the biggest player, >either. In the globalist economic world that's being created, it's not nations that are the real players -- instead it's multinational corporations. The U.S. economy can go up or down -- as can that of Japan, Germany, the UK, etc. -- and multinationals continue to rake in profits, regardless of where they're based. U.S. power and influence is no longer focused on promoting U.S. national interests and welfare, but instead is focused on supporting a global climate conducive to _general_ multinational interests. In effect, U.S. military, economic, and diplomatic power has been "captured" by the global capitalist elite, and harnessed (at U.S. taxpayer expense) to its ends. Yours, Richard -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Re: U.S. Hegemony (?) academic monitoring Tue, 6 Aug 1996 20:48:02 -0600 (NSK) Nikolai S. Rozov (ROZOV@cnit.nsu.ru) Dear Bruce, your question is quit legal > Some would argue that the system of multi-national economic >institutions including the IMF, World Bank, Trans-National Corporations, >and others *are* one of the principle problems. You are supposing that >they can be reformed to provide part of the solution. I can't address >your argument that they can be reformed in this way until I see it. >Virtually, >Bruce R. McFarling, Newcastle, NSW >ecbm@cc.newcastle.edu.au I shared our dialogue with a friend who proved your position telling about deplorable results of IMF activity in Africa (f.e. Mosambique): deepening social gap, bloody conflicts, etc He also noted that IMF is just an instrument of the system and the agenda is how to change the system, not instrument. I agree. This point makes our discussion very close to the thread of Wagar/Chase-Dunn w-party. See my sketch of principal strategy 'how to change the system' in my recent answer to Chris. At the same time 'reforming an instrument'(say, IMF) can and should be , from my viewpoint, one of partial activities in this strategy. What I mean here, can be named "an academic monitoring of international institutions' policies". The main task is to organize a regular comparing of real results of these activities in various countries with proclaimed goals and philosophy of given institution. The left tradition is to make this work a crushing critique of 'an obstacle for progress'. According to the approach of 'splitting elites' and 'new-coalition-making,' that I keep trying to promote in wsn, I suggest to "pack up" this monitoring as a cooperation, an academic responsible aid (non-excluding definitely addressed criticisms). As far as I know experts of very high range (mainly from Harvard, London School of Economics, etc) do their best in IMF. It seems they know nothing of WST, at best they take it as one of many left post-Marxist approaches that can be neglected. This attitude should be changed after meeting with well-based theoretically and empirically analyses of their activities. Their work in IMF is temporal (not more than 3? years). They are all very anxious of their future career, their names, etc. That's why I think these folks cannot neglect such academic initiative, because without communication and cooperation the public effect of such monitoring can occur very troublesome for them personally. First it can be a project based on Internet (Web) resources, then direct contacts with IMF should be arranged, then publications in academic and later mass journals, TV, newspapers, etc should be planned. Evidently sooner or later the effect of 'instrumentality' will enter into play, i.e. TNC, intern. banks, main core powers (see the last msgs of R.Moore with whom I mostly agree) and other elites will try to stop or block up this academic control of their instrument of world dominance. But one may expect also that some of these forces find this activity profitable for their internal competition, for publicity and academic support of their policies, etc. Here I remind my old thesis that world capitalism is not a monolith and we must seek and use all possibilities for splitting the elite of world political-economic power. Surely, nor I, neither anybody can guarantee the efficiency of cooperation between officials of intern.institutions (say,IMF) and WS experts. But the general principles of conflict resolution (formulated by K.Boulding if I remember well) tell that direct communication between conflicting sides is almost always more preferable than their isolate activities (usually connected with mutual irritation, misunderstanding, hatred and longing to crash 'the obstacle'). I realize that I have not answer 'how to change IMF' as a thing, because it is not a mere thing, it consist of people with their own subjectivity and image of situation and of their work. I suggested the form of communication and maybe cooperation (no wonder of appearance of research grants for this work) with them. my best regards Nikolai PS Thank you Bruce for support and sophisticated development of the idea of using already existing regional unions in the way to more peaceful and humanistic world order. Your idea of non-overlapping of fields of interests between core powers is very strong. Great. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Re: the world party Mon, 12 Aug 1996 16:51:15 -0400 (EDT) wwagar@binghamton.edu > Yes--but what do you 'gotta believe' in? that the same old 'strategy' > (use parties (or party) to take over states will produce different result > than last time (i.e. the third international). Sorry, that's too much of > a leap of faith for my taste. > > S Sherman > Binghamton > > > Dear Mr. Sherman, I often feel like a fish out of water when discussing issues and prospects with sociologists. Immanuel Wallerstein's brave efforts to integrate the social sciences (including history) notwithstanding, there are still vast differences in world-view and methodology between the average sociologist and the average historian. I happen to be, in this sense, an average historian. Although I certainly concur with world-systems theorists that there are trends and cycles in human affairs, I do not believe they are unevadable, and I do not believe that the same things ever literally happen more than once. Circumstances are always somewhat different, leading to somewhat different outcomes. Simple-minded example: the Roman Empire (in the West) "fell," the Roman Empire (in the East) "fell" but only a millennium later, and the Chinese Empire survived many "falls" to live again, until early in the 20th century, and maybe not even then if you want to equate Chiang, Mao, and Deng with the emperors of yore. So I am not in the least deterred by the apparent similarities between the fate of the Third International (or the Second) and the prospects for a world socialist party. The World Party I have in mind would be quite different in many respects from the Third International, it would do battle in a rather different world, and it would surely have a different impact on world history--better or worse, who can say? In any event, the notion that the World Party is doomed to repeat the history of the Third International, or the CPSU, that the "next" time will be little different from the first, just flies in the face of everything that historians think they know about the cussedness of history. To me, history is full of surprises, nasty, pleasant, or whatever. The earth is not an anthill, and human beings have choices. So, yes, "you gotta believe." What's the alternative? Best, Warren ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
SAVING DEMOCRACY (was "Re: world party") Mon, 12 Aug 1996 22:35:36 +0100 (BST) Richard K. Moore (rkmoore@iol.ie) On Mon, 5 Aug 1996 wwagar@binghamton.edu wrote to WSN: > > Dear Christian, > > Yes, that is exactly the question. How? And yes, there is no > hint in 1996 of anything like a World Party forming anywhere. But you > can't leap from this observation to the conclusion that "it ain't gonna > happen." The more people who believe that the best way to confront the > challenge of a proliferating globalizing capitalism aided and abetted by > the nation-state system is to build a global political formation to oppose > that system, the more likely it is that a nucleus of activists here or > there will begin to build one--or several. We have to start with some > kind of rough consensus about what must be done. Never mind the odds. > They're pretty low. So what? We don't have the option of moving to Mars. > You play with the hand you've been dealt. What comes first is a climate > of expectation for authentically antisystemic global political action. > The more people who share that expectation, the more likelihood it can > provoke serious attempts to move from theory to praxis. In short, you > gotta believe! > > Warren --------------- Along these lines, allow me to offer my humble ideas, below. Your feedback would be appreciated on this draft, to improve it before publication... -rkm ________________________________________________________________
ON SAVING DEMOCRACY The companion piece to this article, "cj#547> The Rise & Fall of Democracy," (posted June 20) presented an interpretation of modern history (since the Enlightenment) which seems to offer little hope for a happy future for mankind. Our "democracies" have been deeply corrupted by corporate power, and the very existence of democratic institutions is being mortally threatened by the current neoliberal campaign for a globalist corporate state. Not only is the current situation contrary to the interests of humanity, but all the trends are in the direction of even worse times. But it's always darkest before dawn, and hope arises from the very corporate dominance that is so threatening. The point is that nearly everyone is being harmed by the corporatist schemes, whether it be the First-World worker squeezed between frozen salaries and reduced social benefits, or the Third-World farmer being shoved aside by agribusiness interests. Through its all-pervasive power and arrogance, the elite has sown the seeds of a potentially powerful counter revolution. It is the citizens of the First World who may be in the best position to initiate progressive global changes. First-World countries provide the primary infrastructure for corporate operations, and First-World political systems, while they last, offer the greatest opportunity for effective political action. If broad-based citizen coalitions in First World countries could bring truly progressive governments into power, it would be possible to reverse the global dominance of the corporate elite, re-vitalize democratic institutions, and re-align First World agendas along progressive lines. This could in turn create a climate in which the rest of the world would be better able to pursue progressive agendas as well. Obstacles to Progressive Political Action If you look at the fundamentals, the conditions are right for a democratic resurgence: the elite corporate danger is acute and ominous, and the opportunity for an effective popular uprising exists -- in our tattered democratic institutions. But the likelihood of this opportunity being pursued seems unfortunately remote. There are three primary reasons for this: ignorance, organizational malaise, and the absence of a comprehensive progressive agenda. By ignorance, I refer to a general unawareness of the true nature of the corporatist danger, and of the imminent threat to democratic institutions. This ignorance can be over-stated -- the number of people who have managed to grasp the situation may be much larger than the media-projected image of "public opinion" would seem to indicate. But it is fair to say that people generally are kept in ignorance, mesmerized by the corporate-dominated media and distracted by manufactured crises and phony issues. Nonetheless, there is considerable popular support for progressive changes, and a great many progressive organizations fighting for this or the other "cause." But overall, progressive organizing is in a chaotic state. Energy is split up among so-called "special-interest" groups, whose cumulative effect is mostly neutralized by one another, and by the corrupt political process. There is insufficient effort directed toward building broad-based coalition movements that could promote a progressive agenda and exert effective political influence. Perhaps most crippling is the absence of an adequate progressive agenda. It may be true that the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, but with no clear destination in mind, even the first step cannot be taken. A sensible, comprehensive political agenda is necessary. Around such an agenda could be organized a broad-based coalition movement, and such an agenda could provide the basis for a positive program of societal regeneration and true democratic reform. Toward a Progressive Reform Agenda Conditions vary from country to country, and no single reform agenda can apply everywhere. But everywhere the central issues are corporate power and the corruption of the democratic process -- and progressive agendas need to focus on solving those central problems. These systemic reforms need to be accomplished first: if the democratic process itself can be made functional, and the controlling corporate fingers pried loose from politics, then the means would exist for a broader progressive program to be democratically defined and pursued. For want of a better focus, reform will be examined from the perspective of the U.S. situation. This focus is not all that unreasonable, given that it is the U.S. model that is being increasingly foisted on the rest of the world. Media Reform -- An informed citizenry is absolutely essential to the sound functioning of a representative democracy. For the flow of public information and discussion to be monopolized by the corporate elite, as it is in the U.S., is utterly corrupting of the democratic process -- the result is that "public discussion" serves to distract and manipulate rather than to inform and empower. Citizen perceptions are filtered through the lense of corporate interests, and democracy is corrupted at its very roots. There need to be alternate sources of news, information, and entertainment which are not warped by corporate interests, and which provide a broad spectrum of viewpoints. The BBC might be an appropriate model for such an independent media venue in the U.S. BBC is dependent neither on government nor corporate funding -- it is funded through a modest television license fee paid by all media consumers. BBC is thus able -- in theory, and often in practice -- to manage its operations and its programming independent of government and corporate control and free of advertisements. Electoral Reform -- Elections are the primary transaction in the representative-governmental process. The selection of candidates, the carrying out of campaigns, and the voting rules -- these processes determine the people's role in selecting leaders, and hence determine how representative (or not) the government will be. In the current U.S. system, the voting rules are slanted to favor the two-party system, the two parties are dominated by corporate interests, and the campaigns are corporate-managed PR shows. The electoral system is thus deeply corrupted by corporate interests, and voters choose among corporate-sponsored propagandist-politicians rather than expressing their democratic intent. Fundamental societal issues are never allowed to surface during campaigns; instead, colorful peripheral topics are selected for mock debate in a charade of a campaign. In order for elections to serve their democratic purpose -- the expression of popular will -- it is essential to break the major- party monopoly over politics. In order for new parties to arise, they must be allowed to compete effectively when they are still small -- otherwise they can never achieve public recognition and begin to build up their constituencies. Under the current plurality-wins system, people are afraid to vote for small parties -- they feel compelled instead to choose the so- called "lesser of two evils" among the major parties. There are various mechanisms which could help encourage effective new parties. One such mechanism is the requirement of a majority for election, which can be accomplished either by run-off elections or (more efficiently) by a ranked-voting scheme. Another mechanism is proportional representation, which gives each party a number of seats, in proportion to their share of the votes. Reform of campaigns would be partially achieved by the measures mentioned above: an independent media venue and the accommodation of small parties. Both of these would broaden the scope of debate and encourage the development of leaders who are more representative of popular will. But in addition, it is necessary to remove the PR hype from the campaign process and to end the role of corporate money in determining what issues are debated and which candidates receive favorable media exposure. Some measures which could, in some combination, help in this regard are (1) much smaller limits to campaign spending, (2) public financing of campaigns, (3) strictly equal access to media by all candidates (and their surrogate organizations), (4) restriction of election coverage to the public media venue. Political Reform -- Elected politicians, in a democratic society, are supposed to represent the will of their constituencies. In our corrupted system, it is fairer to say that politicians are the representatives of their corporate backers, and that part of their assignment is to hoodwink citizens into voting for them. With media and electoral reform, along the lines mentioned above, much progress would be made toward restoring the democratic role of politicians. But in addition salaries of officials should be raised to be in line with private executives with similar levels of responsibility, and all potentially conflicting outside interests and income sources (consultancies, board memberships, remunerated speaking engagements, etc.) should be prohibited. Further, the corrupting influence of corporate lobbying on the legislative process must be ended. This is a complex topic, and I'll offer only a single example of a possible reform measure. When a Congressional committee holds public hearings on a bill, the democratic intent of those hearings is to solicit a representative sampling of public opinion and expert advice regarding the bill. What happens all too often in practice is that some interested industry association hires a PR firm, and dramatic testimony is staged so as to slant the views seen by the committee. Scores of carefully selected "witnesses" and/or "experts" are flown at corporate expense to Washington, in order to create the desired bias in testimony. Thus the legislative process is corrupted by corporate special-interests. What might help here would be to have a special public fund which is used to bring witnesses to hearings, and which is sufficient to insure that a wide range of viewpoints can be heard -- especially from those who would be most affected by the legislation. Corporate-Role Reform -- At the heart of any agenda must be a sensible policy regarding corporations and their proper role in society. It would be folly to think in terms of eliminating corporations, replacing them with, say, some kind of utopian socialism. Not only would this create the insurmountable problem of designing (and agreeing on) an entirely new society, but it would back the corporate elite into a corner -- forcing them to fight to the death for their survival. The corporation is an efficient machine for exploiting opportunities and optimizing the operation of the economy. As such, corporations can be of value to society, and preferable to a centrally-managed economy. The problem is that the role of master and servant has gotten reversed: instead of the corporation being chartered to serve society, we've reached a situation where society is managed to serve the goal of corporate enrichment. What is needed is a radical reversal in the relationship between corporations and the larger society. A corporate charter should be a privilege, not a right, and the interests of society at large should be represented on corporate boards, not just the financial interests of stockholders. A corporation is defined legally to be an artificial person: what is needed is to turn these corporate "persons" into good citizens rather than greedy exploiters. One important aspect of this "relationship reversal" has to do with cash-flow. Currently, we have an absurd situation in which corporate profits are at an all time high, corporate taxation is obscenely low, and government is essentially bankrupt. Not only should corporate tax rates be raised to a higher, fairer level, but the whole tangle of loopholes, depletion allowances, and corporate subsidies should be pared back to the bone. In particular, a business-like review of the value of public assets such as radio spectra, oil leases, timber holdings, mining licenses, publicly-funded inventions, etc. is long overdue. All too frequently, such public assets are given away at a fraction of their commercial value to private operators. Such sweetheart deals amount to corruption on a grand scale -- the corporate theft of immense amounts of public property -- but such deals are typically not perceived as corruption... The law doth punish man or woman That steals the goose from off the common, But lets the greater felon loose, That steals the common from the goose. - Anon, 18th cent., on the enclosures. If private operation is deemed to be the most efficient means of exploiting a public asset, then government should bargain from its position of strength, and attain maximum public return on the deals it makes. It can seek higher direct fees, a stronger oversight role in operations (to represent the public interest), and a public share in revenues derived from operations. Toward Effective Political Action Regardless of the agenda details, progressive change can only come about through effective grass-roots political organizing. As mentioned earlier, there is not so much a lack of popular political fervor or activity, as there is a lack of focus and coalition. The People, one might say, are scattered in all directions. Again, for want of a better alternative, the focus will be on the American situation. Given the U.S. dominance of international arrangements, and the increasing role of the U.S. military as a globalist "police" force, the fate of progressive politics in America is of direct importance to citizens around the globe. The phenomenon of "single-issue movements" deserves special consideration. It is undeniable that such movements have achieved desirable reforms for causes like environmentalism and civil rights. But the political arena has evolved to a point where single-issue organizing in the U.S. has become impotent, and serves mostly to "divide and conquer" the people. Environmentalists are pitted against labor groups; the women's movement is fractured by the abortion debate; civil libertarians are portrayed as abetting crime; campaigners against corporate power are painted as being luddite xenophobes. The corporate elite has learned to play movements off against one another, to limit their effectiveness by slanted media coverage, and to manufacture its own counter-movements -- thus making grass-roots politics largely impotent. Only a broad-based coalition movement, with a comprehensive and persuasive political agenda, has any chance to revive democracy and reverse the trend toward corporate domination. Such a coalition must seek to include labor, environmentalists, civil libertarians, feminists, minorities, students, unemployed, elderly, etc. -- literally everyone whose interests would be served by a responsive representative democracy. The first hurdle such a coalition will need to overcome will be divisiveness itself. The single-cause approach has so pervaded society that it has become almost synonymous with political action. People, especially activists, need to become aware their movements have been backed into cul-de-sacs, and that broad popular solidarity is necessary to face the the well-organized corporatist onslaught. Emphasis on coalition among existing organizations, labor groups, etc., might be the best approach to building a more comprehensive movement. By that means, existing organizational structures can be leveraged toward broader objectives. A strong agenda and credible, competent leadership are critical to attracting organizations into coalition. As organizations join the coalition, the agenda will need to be discussed and refined to accommodate additional concerns. But the central focus on democratic reform and the global corporatist threat must be maintained, lest the movement become strategically irrelevant. The second hurdle facing any budding coalition will be the inevitable demonization/trivialization campaign carried out against it by the mainstream media. Foibles of leaders will be dug up and sensationalized. Unity will be challenged by reports that some "causes" are taken more seriously than others within the coalition. Scare stories will portray economic catastrophe as the inevitable result of any agenda that doesn't cater to corporate interests. The more successful the coalition, the more intense will be the media campaign against it. The movement will need to develop its own internal communications infrastructure, and find a way to get movement news out to its constituencies without depending on help from the mainstream media. Rallies, newsletters, local chapters, door-to-door canvassing -- even the Internet -- all can be used to create a "counter media." If despite all these obstacles, a progressive movement succeeds in building a formidable constituency -- one that threatens to elect a significant number of progressive candidates at all levels -- then two final hurdles must be surmounted: co-option by the major parties, and over-attachment to the electoral process. Time and again in American history, strong popular movements have dissipated when a major party (usually the Democrats) adopted the rhetoric of the progressives, or when the popular movement was tied too closely to the goal of winning some "key" election. These seductions to rapid "victory" may be the most dangerous hurdle of all. The Christian Coalition, unfortunately, is an example of an organization with both a comprehensive agenda and a sound attitude toward the electoral process. It does not stand on its laurels when favorable candidates are elected -- instead it leverages its position toward greater victories in the future. And it most certainly doesn't allow its organizational structure to weaken in the face of successes. It is essential that a progressive movement be organized as a long- term political force -- it must be aware that its strength comes from its ongoing existence, as a continuing channel of democratic expression. Success in electing supported candidates is a sign to pursue implementation of its agenda, not a sign that the movement has achieved its goals. Global Solidarity and National Focus Successes in one nation can provide invaluable encouragement, and even material assistance, to movements in other nations. The corporate elite operates on a global scale, and progressives must have global consciousness as well. Cross-border communication and solidarity is of strategic importance. The recent massive demonstrations and work stoppages in France, and the similar protests in Germany, represent strong popular sentiment against the effects of globalization. But of course they weren't reported that way in the mass media, and no sense of international solidarity was generated. Strong progressive organizations could have picked up this connection and used it to build greater confidence and self-awareness within the global movement. At the international level, there is a natural focus of shared concerns: the economic and political destabilization caused by globalist institutions (GATT, IMF, World Bank, etc.) Nonetheless, it is important to emphasize the nation-state as the primary unit of political organizing. Progressives must avoid the twin traps of premature internationalism and premature devolution. Until corporations are brought under democratic control, elite power is most dominant over very small nations, and at the international level. Strong national sovereignty, including economic self-determination, must be at the heart of progressive politics everywhere. Democracy is difficult enough to achieve in a large, modern nation -- larger scale units (such as the EU) simply make it easier for the elite to gain control. And smaller, balkanized, states are too weak to stand up to multinational pressures. A BRIEF BIBLIOGRAPHY Greider, William, "Who will tell the People - The Betrayal of American Democracy" (New York: Touchstone, 1993). Parenti, Michael, "Make-Believe Media - The Politics of Entertainment" (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992). Parenti, Michael, "The Sword and the Dollar - Imperialism, Revolution, and the Arms Race" (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989). Zinn, Howard, "A Peoples History of the United States" (New York: Harper & Row, 1980). ________________________________________________________________ ~=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=~=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=~--~=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=~=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=~
Posted by Richard K. Moore - rkmoore@iol.ie - Wexford, Ireland ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Re: SAVING DEMOCRACY Tue, 13 Aug 1996 13:42:17 -0400 (EDT) wwagar@binghamton.edu Dear Richard, Bravo. Your analysis of the predicament of democracy and the plight of the progressives is astute and well put. I agree entirely with your critique of single-issue movements. Of course I don't agree with your insistence on the nation-state as the framework for organizing a broad coalition of progressive forces. The megacorporate interests and the states that front for them pay less and less attention to that framework, and antisystemic movements must follow suit if they wish to be effective. There is no reason why a global party could not have national chapters active in national politics, but if the focus of each national segment of the world party is largely national, and each segment gets embroiled and swallowed up in national issues, and there is no supranational party structure coordinating all efforts at the regional, national, and local level, megacorporate globalization will just proceed on its merry way. The sine qua non, for me, is a world political movement that is firmly set on a course toward a global democratic state. Such internationalism, in 1996, is not "premature." The real problem is that It may already be too late. Nonetheless, I like your article very much, and I note that it really IS concerned with praxis! Good luck, Warren -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Re: SAVING DEMOCRACY Wed, 14 Aug 1996 12:51:04 +0100 (BST) Richard K. Moore (rkmoore@iol.ie) 8/13/96, Warren Wagar wrote: >Of course I don't agree with >your insistence on the nation-state as the framework for organizing a >broad coalition of progressive forces. The megacorporate interests and >the states that front for them pay less and less attention to that >framework, and antisystemic movements must follow suit if they wish to be >effective. Dear Warren, The "states that front for them" need to stop fronting for them -- and that requires people to take control of their on-paper national democracies. Global solidarity and cooperation among national-based movements is indeed important, as I said in the posting, but it is national democratic institutions that provide the potential infrastructure for popular empowerment. You might say national governments are fortresses which have been occupied by the enemy (corporate power). If we "storm the fortresses" (take control of our institutions), then we have a power base, an infrastructure (a fortress), designed and evolved for the (potential) purpose of governing society according to democratic principles. You use "antisystemic", evidently, to describe any program for significant change. I say it is folly to ignore systems -- one must use them and work within them, if even to change them. The systems which offer us the most hope are the democratic-national-government systems. They exist and operate, and their controls are within our grasp if we have the necessary political will and competence. > There is no reason why a global party could not have national >chapters active in national politics, but if the focus of each national >segment of the world party is largely national, and each segment gets >embroiled and swallowed up in national issues, and there is no >supranational party structure coordinating all efforts at the regional, >national, and local level, megacorporate globalization will just proceed >on its merry way. The necessity of "coordinating all efforts" is not obvious, and I disupte it. Mutual solidarity and support is not the same as being "coordinated" from above. Your "supranational party structure" -- especially if it is to make detailed plans for every nation and locality -- sounds like a rehash of a Soviet Communist Party system. Too big, too bureaucratic, too centralized, too arrogant, too distant from the needs of the people. Decentralization, I believe, is essential to democracy, and the nation state is not too-small a unit to deserve decentralized autonomy. > The sine qua non, for me, is a world political movement >that is firmly set on a course toward a global democratic state. Such >internationalism, in 1996, is not "premature." The real problem is that >It may already be too late. To seek a "global democratic state" at this time in history is folly in the extreme, folly for a whole host of reasons. First, in the face of the corporate-sponsored campaign for a techocratic world state -- corporate "free-trade" feudalism -- any public sentiment for world government will be inevitably co-opted into the corporate designs. It would be all to easy for the corporate globalists to start spouting progressive rhetoric PR. They'd show "revelation" footage of dictatorship abuses, and explain how only their corporate-sponsored "minimalist" world government can be "the final solution". Indeed, that's exactly what the whole Germany-USA-managed Bosnian crisis is all about. Second, the problems of designing a world government -- and achieving consensus on its structure, and making it democratic instead of autocratic -- are formidable in the extreme. What kind of consitutional convention would be necessary? What models would be entertained for consideration? There are endless questions. You may think you have answers to all of them, but I don't see this as a feasible path. Far more practical to take control of national systems than to embark on a moon-shot global government design, especially given today's balance of power in favor of corporatism, and their control over the media. Finally, and to my mind most important, The World is simply too large a unit for us reasonably to expect democracy to function effectively there. The Greeks thought the city-state was the ideal size for autonomous democracy. In their day they might have been right; and if the global political balance-of-power shifts dramatically (in favor of "the people"), then the day of the city-state might return. Democracy inherently works better at a smaller scale, rather than larger. After all, democracy is in some sense "a group of people trying to collaboratively manage their society". The larger the society, the more problematic it is to set up systems that enable such collaboration, the more difficult to keep them from becoming bureaucratic, remote, authoritarian, and corrupted by determined special interests. So the choice of scale, for democratic activism, is crucial. One can debate the virtues of various scales, but in today's world, given multinational corporations and all other factors, I firmly believe the national level is the most promising focus. It is operational, it is accessible (potentially), and it is of sufficient size to stand up to the corporate elite, if it has popular will behind it. If a majority of First-World governments were to become genuinely progressive, then imagine how productive international conferences could become! Delegates would really be chartered to seek effective remedies to world hunger, poverty, human rights, pollution, etc. It's not a world government that's needed, it's governments which actively pursue the betterment of human welfare instead of corporate enrichment. If you feel it's impossible to reform national governments in this way, then I say it's ten times as impossible to force these reforms from some nebulous global forum. IMHO, rkm --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Re: SAVING DEMOCRACY (was "Re: world party") Wed, 14 Aug 1996 20:44:11 -0600 (NSK) Nikolai S. Rozov (ROZOV@cnit.nsu.ru) Dear Richard, I am certainly on your side in your debate with Warren Wagar when you reject feasibility and preferance of W state, insist on using already existing democratic instruments on national level, and fairly appeal to work with the 'system', not to make it an enemy. but in this 'our side' yours and my position have also some differences: > I must say I've been extremely un-impressed by the shallow analysis > and lack of deep comprehension evidenced under the name of "WST". Seems > like would-be system theorists patching together an arcane explanation for > what's obvious to everyone already, so they can feel smug with their > "insider knowledge" that no one else can follow. As such, it's trending > toward becoming a feedback-rich, self-deluding cult, rather than a > scientific endeavor. nobody thinks here that WST is an absolute key, it is a live changing approach with various competitive subapproaches, as for me it must be combined and correctly sinthesized with geopolitics and cultural- civilizational studies. If you ever read books of Braudel, Wallerstein, Frank, Arrighi, Chase-Dunn you would not dare to say of 'shallow analysis' and 'lack of deep comprehension'. It seems you take your major information of WST from this list, but it is an analog of couloirs (kofee-break) of conference: sometimes the talk is brilliant and sharpminded, sometimes not, but the main work is going in the main hall - in serious monographical research - in books and papers. Moreover, frequently experts here exchange by concepts (with rather rich interior content) but a non-expert can see not more than mere trivial words. > There was no suggestion that the basic > core-periphery organization of the globe needs to be, or is likely to be, > altered. good, here we agree > > If this political shift were implemented globally, it would not > constitute a new stage in the shifting hegemonies -- it would only broaden > the constituencies involved in setting societal goals -- a minor shift from > a systems point of view. It might also lead to a more collaborative, > synergistic relationship between core states, and with and among the > periphery. OK, but the trick is how to make this shift desirable for the core, for the 'systemic' global and national elites? > Why, pray tell, do you hold up Marx as a paragon of "solid arguments"? surely Marx is not a paragon, he has made crucial mistakes concerning the world future, but he was armed with 'The Capital' - the best political-economic analysis in that period (and many people think - even up to now) Modern naive talks of the end of global capitalism and transforamtion it into global socialism are also a mistake but alas - without such solid theoretical support that Marx had. I am glad that you are not in this camp and I take this criticism back. > BTW> "core-periphery" is much more > general than just world systems. ALL systems seem to be structured on a > core-periphery basis, from the human nervous system, to computers, to > animal-grazing patterns, to highway-systems, to shopping centers -- you > name it. What's the big deal? I am not an expert in WST, but here it is just a nice example when I use WST CONCEPTS and you take into account only general WORDS. Core-periphery in WST is really a big deal, dozens of books, thousands of pages are devoted to it. > > R.Moore's program seems to be "antisystemic" and "anticore", that's > >why I think it is hopelesss. > > Please substantiate this characterization, if you still believe it > to be true. Really, I changed my mind after your clarification, also after your recent answer to Warren. Now your program is not overtly anisystemic and anticore, but I suspise it is such immanently. I mean your courageous and persistent struggle AGAINST TNC and their supporting global institutions (in favor of national democracies). Is I told earlier these elites and structures form the very framework of modern cap. world system. To fight with them IS to be antisystemic. Why don't you consider the idea of SPLITTING UP these elites and to involve the part of them in the wide humanistic coalition? best wishes, yours Nikolai ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Re: SAVING DEMOCRACY Wed, 14 Aug 1996 11:42:11 -0400 (EDT) wwagar@binghamton.edu Dear Richard, On Wed, 14 Aug 1996, Richard K. Moore wrote: > Dear Warren, > > The "states that front for them" need to stop fronting for them -- > and that requires people to take control of their on-paper national > democracies. Global solidarity and cooperation among national-based > movements is indeed important, as I said in the posting, but it is national > democratic institutions that provide the potential infrastructure for > popular empowerment. > Okay, and how do you propose to create such "global solidarity and cooperation?" If it's really important, how can the solidarity be forged? A grass-roots popular movement that is nationally based and focused may well turn out to pursue trade and military and environmental policies inimical to world peace, world justice, and the health of the biosphere. A true national democracy might rein in the corporations in that country without any serious thought to the needs of countries thousands of miles away. In short, democracy in and of itself does not guarantee that a country will act in the best interests of humankind--only a global democracy is likely to do that. > You use "antisystemic", evidently, to describe any program for > significant change. I say it is folly to ignore systems -- one must use > them and work within them, if even to change them. The systems which offer > us the most hope are the democratic-national-government systems. They > exist and operate, and their controls are within our grasp if we have the > necessary political will and competence. No, I use "antisystemic" in a very specific sense: against the continuation of the present capitalist world-economy with its support system of armed national states. > The necessity of "coordinating all efforts" is not obvious, and I > disupte it. Mutual solidarity and support is not the same as being > "coordinated" from above. Your "supranational party structure" -- > especially if it is to make detailed plans for every nation and locality -- > sounds like a rehash of a Soviet Communist Party system. Too big, too > bureaucratic, too centralized, too arrogant, too distant from the needs of > the people. > > Decentralization, I believe, is essential to democracy, and the > nation state is not too-small a unit to deserve decentralized autonomy. You have a very strange notion of "decentralization." To be sure, a world party would run the grave risk of not being democratic, of not being responsive, and all the rest. It would have to be on its guard against such tendencies every minute. But what is decentralized about a nation-state the size of Russia or Germany or Japan or the USA? These are already immense polities with central governments far removed in many ways from their electorates. The kind of direct town-meeting participatory democracy you seem to have in the back of your mind is impossible once a polity gets any bigger than Andorra. The nation-state is not too small, agreed. But it is much, much too big for direct democracy. I just cannot see any vast difference between a polity of six billion people and a polity of 300 million people. If democracy of some sort can work in the latter, it can work in the former. > To seek a "global democratic state" at this time in history is > folly in the extreme, folly for a whole host of reasons. I see absolutely no chance of a global democratic state at this time, but beginning to think about it and beginning to seek it, these are hardly follies. And when you speak of "storming the fortresses," I am pretty sure that some day we will have to do just that--literally in many instances. The world party will have to become, at some stage, a revolutionary party, prepared to seize power whenever and wherever there is no other way to break the stranglehold of corporate fascism. > If you feel it's impossible to reform national governments in this > way, then I say it's ten times as impossible to force these reforms from > some nebulous global forum. > No, I don't think it's impossible to reform national governments. But without concerted global political action, it will be impossible to replace the capitalist world-system with a democratic world-government. Best, Warren ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Re: SAVING DEMOCRACY / world government Thu, 15 Aug 1996 09:53:29 +0100 (BST) Richard K. Moore (rkmoore@iol.ie) 8/14/96, Warren Wagar wrote: > No, I don't think it's impossible to reform national governments. >But without concerted global political action, it will be impossible to >replace the capitalist world-system with a democratic world-government. Perhaps it would be productive to pursue both a "world focus" and "national focus" track -- do at each level what is most appropriate there, and to encourage communication between the two efforts. Regards, rkm ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Re: SAVING DEMOCRACY / corps. & govt. Thu, 15 Aug 1996 11:49:31 -0400 Salvatore Babones (sbabones@jhu.edu) In regards to Richard K. Moore's question: > Dear Salvatore, > > Could you say more of what you mean by "liberal, capitalist, > particularist government" ? > > > -rkm > I could take the cheap way out and refer you to my comment on Warren Wagar's "Praxis of World-Integration" (see http://jwsr.ucr.edu/archive/vol2/), but I will attempt a brief answer here. By a liberal government I mean a government that GOVERNS (creates a legal environment for the market, provides a court system and enforcement, "governs" human action to the extent of prohibiting and punishing theft, murder, pollution, etc.) but does not ADMINISTER any more than is necessary for carrying out the duties of government (does not direct production, either directly or indirectly). This is liberalism in Mises' sense, and also Polanyi's (Polanyi called Mises "the consistent liberal") By capitalist I strictly mean to refer to the market, not the government; that is, I mean a market in which individuals or patnerships of individuals use their own capital (equity) in their businesses, bearing full responsibility (unlimited liability) for their obligations. If you take your money and open up a chemicals company, pollute a river, make enormous profits, take those profits out of the company and buy a mansion, when people are hurt by your polution, they can sue you and take your mansion away. Hopefully, if your chemical company operates under a well-governing government, the government will have anti-pollution laws and take you to court itself. By particularist I simply meant non-global. There's no reason why there couldn't be a wonderful global government, but I think the chances are much better of there being one or two "good" governments in a world of over a hundred governments than in a world of one government. I emphasize: while I am FOR capitalism, I am also FOR active government (I don't propose a return to the 1840s), and I am certainly AGAINST a corporate-controlled economy overseen by a corporate-controlled government. Salvatore ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Re: SAVING DEMOCRACY / world government Mon, 19 Aug 1996 11:21:51 -0400 (EDT) wwagar@binghamton.edu On Thu, 15 Aug 1996, Richard K. Moore wrote: > > 8/14/96, Warren Wagar wrote: > > > No, I don't think it's impossible to reform national governments. > >But without concerted global political action, it will be impossible to > >replace the capitalist world-system with a democratic world-government. > > Perhaps it would be productive to pursue both a "world focus" and > "national focus" track -- do at each level what is most appropriate there, > and to encourage communication between the two efforts. > > > Regards, > rkm > Okay, I have no problem with that. No one can know what will work best until the attempt(s) is (are) made. But I would certainly hope that ANY nationally focused party or movement would adopt as a cardinal tenet the assumption that ultimately democracy cannot be saved unless all the world's people enjoy its benefits and no one segment of humankind has the right to prey on another. The world cannot survive half-free and half-slave. Best, Warren ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Re: half-free and half-slave Wed, 21 Aug 1996 19:56:31 +0100 (BST) Richard K. Moore (rkmoore@iol.ie) 8/19/96, wwagar@binghamton.edu wrote: >I would certainly hope that >ANY nationally focused party or movement would adopt as a cardinal tenet >the assumption that ultimately democracy cannot be saved unless all the >world's people enjoy its benefits and no one segment of humankind has the >right to prey on another. D'accord. rkm ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- .