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Re: the coming Big Chill?
by Threehegemons
14 February 2002 02:26 UTC
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<It would be the old world-system theory prediction was Moscow/Berlin/Paris
vs. Washington/Tokyo/Beijing with the British on the bubble.

Will it shake out this way?>  

Possibly--maybe I'm just hopelessly optimistic, but I think all of the core 
states intensely want to avoid war with each other.  Just as the transition 
from British to American hegemony skipped a period in which new contenders 
sought to take over the old center of accumulation (as the French and Spanish 
fought over the Italian city-states, and as the French and British fought over 
the Dutch Republic) so this phase may see the avoidance of a war of core states 
against each other.  Instead, there'll be intensified competition over how to 
solve the perceived problems of the periphery--particularly as those become (a 
la 9/11) problems of the core. To put it another way--the practice of 
peripheralizing war which has had some success over the last two hundred years 
is showing signs of unravelling. Hegemonic wannabees--and social 
movements--will put out (albeit not in some idealized Habermasian public 
sphere) different proposals for how to get out of the mess.  I think the limits 
of the 'war on terrorism' approach are already clear to both many of us and to 
many world elites.

In this context, its worth considering the disoriented tone of this year's WEF. 
 Quite a contrast from the seventies, when this forum had a strategic 
proposal--neoliberalism.  To paraphrase Bob Dylan, there's no failure like 
success, and this success has begun to exhaust itself. Transnational fora like 
the WEF and the WSF will play an important role in defining directions in the 
hegemonic struggle, which is likely to focus even more this time than in the 
past on ideas rather than force.

 In some ways its tempting to write off the Dementia of Cheney, Rumsfeld and 
Rice as right wing Republican nonsense, but its notable that Gore--although not 
Clinton--has embraced the aggression against Iraq.  I would interpret that to 
mean that the pressures of various publics' opinions in the US are strong 
enough to marginalize the usual spectrum of opinion.  Obviously, this is very 
bad news for the people of Iraq, but I suspect it will also hobble US 
leadership (which is not the same as its ability to exert force).

Steven Sherman

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