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Re: Remembering Wallerstein's Remedies.
by Charles J. Reid
14 March 2002 06:50 UTC
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Adam, the individual who suggested that you expand your education may have
to eat his words! This is an excellent post in the context of the
exchanges of the past couple weeks.

As to your challenge, one interesting thing to look at to analyze current
problems is the legal system and how it sustains the inequalities that
give rise to the desparation that leads to the kinds of crises we're
experiencing now. And upon examining the legal systems, we get to
understand how managers of companies of like Enron, make millions while
the workers lose all. The US Supreme Court in Santa Clara County v.
Southern Pacific in 1886 in a single phrase in the preamble gave
corporations the status but not responsibilities of persons. Since then,
the Supreme Court has basically sustained all critical cases that enable
disparities to grow. In addition, the electoral system has given control
of fiscal policy to corporations, so attachments to majors bills, e.g.,
the Defence Appropriations Bill, might also include a "rider" cutting a
company's taxes -- most recently oil companies -- to almost nothing. The
record shows that most 2000 fortune companies pay less in proportional
terms than minimum wage workers on average. Bartlett and Steele's "Who
really pays the taxes" (1994) has some revealing data. William Greider's
"Who will tell the people," (1993) has complimentary information on this

In a systemic sense, we have economics (corporations) controlling politics
(an extension of ethics dealing with the well being of the community)
rather than politics controlling economics. The rules favor non-human
organizations. Perhaps a focus on this, a change of these rules in favor
of rules favoring individual human beings as a community, is a place to
examine for understanding contemporary issues. (For example, we can't even
go to a doctor without waiving our rights to a jury trial, should
something go wrong in the treatment, but have to sign an "arbitration"
agreement that favors insurance companies. This is a practical consequence
of allowing corporations to write the laws. And it is this that must
change. I favor getting rid of insurance companies altogether in the
medical area, and use fiscal policy to provide access to medical care for

Which brings up another problem -- the Media. You won't here me on the
local media being able to discuss this, because not only does the law
allow corporations to control the media, it servers as an enabler of
suppression of freedom of speech, since "speech" is considered a
commcerial commodity, and the comeback is: go get the dough to start your
own TV or radio station. Alas, the corporations have all the dough.

In short, changing the legal rules should be one focus to bring about
systemic change to help solve contemportary "crises" and local problems.


On Wed, 13 Mar 2002, Adam Starr wrote:

> Hello WSN World,
> In light of the explosion of debate that has occurred
> over the last couple of days (which I believe is
> healthy), I've found myself not entirely satsified
> with my arguement. Upon consideration of how impliment
> policy based upon World System Theory, I found myself
> up at 2 o'clock in the morning searching through my
> personal "library". Alas, I came across a short
> reading by Wallerstein that was not only amusing but
> directly related to my concerns. Perhaps his argument
> was far too complex for me and "zipped" right over my
> head,  but I believe I was able to grasp his basic
> message.
> I came across the book, "The Underdevelopment of
> Development: Essays in Honour of Andre Gunder Frank"
> (Sage Publications, 1996). In it was a short essay
> written by Immanuel Wallertein entitled,
> "Underdevelopment and its Remedies".
> Wallerstein addresses the issue of development in the
> post-1945 period and how 'core - periphery' relations
> have been dominated by American hegmony. While the US
> emphasized privatization and capitalist mode of
> production, thhe only counterhetoric was collective
> "socialist development" by the USSR. However, with the
> onset Keynesianism, both sides of the iron curtain
> agreed that there needed to be some form of state
> intervention. Thus, the pattern of dpendency emerged
> within the "aid" forum as Developed countries began
> providing programs for the less developed.
> As we all know, by the late 1960's the American
> development model had a profound impact within the
> left academia with the emergence of the Depentistas'
> Dependency Theory and World System Theory and there
> seemed to be an optimism that real change might occur
> breaking the chain of dependency. This didn't happen
> and we find our selves today looking back and asking
> 'what happened'?
> In adressing this, Wallerstein states that there,
> "...is the view of those who think that things have
> not, on the whole, been getting better but that it is
> possible (possible, not certain) that they could do
> so." (p. 357-8)
> He then goes on to ask the question, "what needs
> changing? It seems very clear to me that it is our
> world-system, which is a capitalist world-economy,
> which is hierarchical and polarizing, racist and
> sexist, and unfundamentally undemocratic." (p. 358)
> As a system, the "capitalist worl-economy" is subject
> to erosion and eventual collapse due to the nature of
> systems. He elaborates bt saying, "...cyclical rythms
> generate secular trends that, in turn, over a long
> run, create impossible dilemmas (contradictions) that
> cannot be surmounted and that must lead to the
> disintigration of the system." (p. 358)
> Therfor, since the system will eventually collapse due
> to the processes above, should we sit around and wait
> for it to happen? Wallerstein says, "Not at all!" (p.
> 358) A political strategy and viable policies are
> needed to impliment such a disintegration and allow
> for the transition of a new one. Such a strategy
> begins from two premises:
> 1.) The capitalist world-system needs changing.
> 2.) This system will change regardless, but will the
> next system be "better or worse".
> Wallerstein suggests that such a strategy needs to be
> implimented in three phases: immediate, middle run,
> and long run. The immediate should invole mass
> mobilization against the world-system in such a way
> that it is stressed. The middle and long run needs to
> overload the system There are two ways to do this:
> take the rhetoric of freedom literally (free world,
> free market, etc.) and to take the economic
> self-interest seriously (increase in wages and the
> erosion of profit margins). Finally, the long run
> should involve utopistics - serious engagement towards
> the creation of future system.
> If there are those that have taken my comments and
> criticisms seriously and are interested in engaging in
> such a debate for the 'development' of a 'system'
> bringing the 'theory' back to the 'world', I recomend
> this reading. I would like to hear further thoughts on
> this.
> I believe such dialogue is of vital importance as to
> the current "world crisis". For those of you that
> believe in the importance of engaging in further
> world-system histrorical analysis, please continue to
> do so, but I ask that you also contribute what
> insights you may have towards viable policies. For
> those of you with world experience (committees,
> development projects, program directors and other
> various agencies outside the University), what do you
> believe are practical applications towards such
> strategies?
> Who's up for the challenge?
> Adam Starr
> =====
> Adam T. Starr
> Undergraduate of Political Science, UVic
> 3009 Quadra Street, Victoria, British Columbia
> V8T 4G2 Canada
> (011) (250) 472-1223
> adam@hornbyisland.com or reunitedhornby@yahoo.com
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