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Re: u.s. unilateralism
by kjkhoo
19 February 2002 06:27 UTC
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At 9:33 AM +0000 18/2/02, n0705590 wrote:
>A Gramscian perspective of hegemony would suggest that american hegemony is
>declining precisely because the US are increasingly dependant on coercion
>rather than on consent.

Don't count on it, not in the near and, I fear, medium term at least. 
And if that is indeed a Gramscian perspective -- which I doubt -- 
then it is just plain wrong.

Coercion and consent are not necessarily in a zero sum relationship. 
Depends upon whether the coercion is seen as legitimate. Or, to put 
it differently, whether the coercion is being exercised against some 
with the consent and approval of a majority, or at least of a 
significant minority with the tacit and passive consent or 
indifference of a majority, or of a significant group against a 
non-significant other (as in Europeans and native Americans). That 
consent can be manufactured or otherwise, or more likely, a 
combination of manufactured and in some sense in accord with 
experience. Or, if you wish, experience as understood and felt 
through the hegemonic categories of commonsense. And the hegemony 
that is exercised over commonsense, and hedged about with 
non-reporting, mis-reporting, and so on, is available to Washington 
in spades.

All one has to do is scan the US media, including the talk shows. And 
that's only the US. In Britain, aside from the usual few columnists, 
it's pretty much the same story, and Britain's projection to the 
world through BBC TV is a poor echo of CNN and CNBC (the World 
Service remains distinctive, but even there...). In Germany, the 
coming elections look like producing a swing to the right, perhaps 
marking the end of the brief phase of a neo-liberal social democracy 
(yes, that's a contradiction in terms, but there it is). Even in the 
Muslim world, aside from Palestine, the hegemony of the US (and yes, 
it can take the form of coerced consent, but not necessarily the 
coercion of bombs and the big stick) is evident. Meanwhile, even if 
for reasons of their own, China, India, Russia fall in line.

 From a country that's recently made the cover of Time and Newsweek as 
a launching pad for the Sep 11 attacks, it looks pretty hegemonic. 
Add to that citizens who have their own axe to grind with the 
governments they have, largely believing that they are bereft of any 
real alternatives, or of alternatives they feel comfortable with (and 
that's another side of hegemony) other than the global order coming 
into place, and it begins to seem pretty total and totalitarian.

That said, and perhaps for the reasons above, I do think that 
Wallerstein's recent commentary on Porto Alegre does merit more 
serious consideration than it appears to have received here. It, and 
the outcome of Porto Alegre, deserves wider dissemination. This 
year's Porto Alegre has the makings of an agenda that is not only a 
response to the hegemonic, the beginnings of an alternative or 
alternatives that can begin to talk to people's experience; hence the 
stirrings of a counter-hegemony. Add to that the recent demonstration 
in Israel, coming in the midst of the 'war on terror' and in the 
aftermath of a number of suicide bombings -- and a little cheer is 
perhaps in order.

>>===== Original Message From wwagar@binghamton.edu =====
>>      Richard Hutchinson says exactly what I have been thinking for
>>several years.  The decline of the U.S. is likely in the long term, but
>>let's not rush things.  At this point in time, the "next hegemon" remains
>>entirely unknown, and meanwhile the U.S. has had its own way in Panama, in
>>Kuwait, in Serbia, in Afghanistan, and remains clearly far ahead of any
>>other nation in wealth, productivity, military power, and hosting of
>>multinational corporations.  During its supposed heyday, it did not have
>>its way in China, Korea, Eastern Europe, or Vietnam, so I cannot see a
>>downward trend--if anything, I see the reverse.
>>      According to the nemesis cycle in Greek tragedy, hubris will lead
>>to folly and folly to self-destruction, but this can take a long time,
>  >especially in the absence of credible successors.  Meanwhile, the more
>>obvious folly is the wishful thinking of many on the Left who dream of
>>imminent salvation through the action of minuscule "masses" gathering here
>>and there in their thousands to oppose the juggernaut of global capital
>>and the nations (captained by the U.S.) in its hire.
>>      As Richard says, "good old realism is still a useful guide."
>>Theory may give us hope for the long term, but for now and perhaps for
>>many years to come, the facts on the ground are simple and clear.  The
>>U.S. does pretty much as it pleases, and if it pleases to wreak more havoc
>>in the Middle East, I don't know who in hell can stop it.
>>      Warren
>>On Sat, 16 Feb 2002, Richard N Hutchinson wrote:
>>>  Is it possible that the U.S. will launch another war against Iraq?
>>>  Who can say no following Iraq 1991, Kosovo and Afghanistan?
>>>  Is this necessarily stupid on the part of the U.S.?  No, not just on the
>>>  basis of disagreements and complaints from lesser powers.
>>>  The U.S. will try to marshall support, just as in 90-91, and who's to say
>>>  they won't succeed.
>>>  With Japan on the economic skids, the EU fragmented, and China still only
>>>  a rising power, the U.S. has plenty of room to maneuver.
>>>  The view of the Bush Administration unilateralists is that they can use
>>>  U.S. power to shape the world for U.S. ends with little opposition.  The
>>>  "U.S.-in-decline" analysis prevalent on the WSN list may well be true in
>>>  the long term, but has little bearing on the near to medium term, and in
>  >> fact is seriously misleading.
>>>  Good old realism is still a useful guide, and what the Bush Team is
>  >> counting on is that right now its potential competitors need the U.S.
>>>  (mainly as a market and as military protection) more than it needs any one
>>>  of them.  If they can't back up a threat to gang together against the U.S.
>>>  (and noone has even suggested that possibility), then U.S. unilateralism
>>>  can succeed.
>>>  None of this should be construed as support for U.S. unilateralism.  I
>>>  just find many of the comments on the list to be "vaguely reminiscent of
>>>  the 1970s."
>>>  RH
>Damian Popolo
>PhD candidate
>Newcastle University
>Department of Politics
>Room 301

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