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Re: [WSDG] Napoleonic Right and World-Empire?
by Trichur Ganesh
12 April 2003 19:45 UTC
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You respond so well, francesco, and I wonder if it were possible for me to
take a little time before I respond to you (perhaps by Monday?)... I have
been laid low by an attack of the flu raging through campus.   There are
many concerns you raise here: (1) the question of comparisons for instance -
actually I am also not an advocate of 'making comparisons', but perhaps for
different reasons(?).  Comparisons may prevent us from responding to the
call to communicate that comes from the intensity of lived historical
experiences which precisely because they have been 'lived', are also
incompletely communicable.  (2)  Would that make all comparisons useless or
violent? Perhaps not.  (4) Regarding historical comparisons and "the current
conjuncture" - my presentation at a peace conference organized by students
is distinguished less by its 'comparison' of the foreseeable trajectory of
the US-bid with the Habsburg-bid for empire, and more by my response to what
are the dominating affects produced by the conjuncture, affects of fear and
ressentiment, material affects that are saturated by perceptions of
militarism and warmaking, violence and destitution, nomadicity and 'homo
sacer', the 'beauty' of the North vs. the 'ugliness' of the South. It is
prompted by the need to articulate where I stand in relation to the military
fundamentalism and market fundamentalism of our time.  (5) A public apology
to Elson Boles for appearing so brash and so cutting and so rude and
insensitive.  I apologize Elson for being so arrogant - it is the kind of
arrogance that would  not be out of place if were matched by the theoretical
acuity of Wallerstein or Arrighi  - and I think you and I both have the
right idea - as do Steve Sherman and Khaldoun Samman - that this is an idea
for some empirical investigation.  My reference developed out of the
insights from teaching Kennedy during fall semester 2002 to my Global
Political Economy class. In my estimation it is certainly a good question
for research. (6)  I have to do my tax forms, respond to student papers, I
will write soon.  Ganesh Trichur.

francesco ranci wrote:

> I would like to say that, from a methodological point
> of view, comparisons are "right" or "wrong" only
> according to the criteria of comparison that are being
> used. For example, I can compare "water" with "fire"
> as sources of mechanical "energy" (and find them more
> or less valuable in relationship to their costs, their
> effects on the environment, and other implications).
> But I can't compare them as direct sources of "food",
> since we need water to drink but we don't need to put
> fire in our bodies.
> In order to foresee social events, we need a theory to
> guide our comparisons (selecting what counts and what
> does not count, what is likely to cause what, etc.).
> Our theories' limits can also limit our ability to
> foresee the future (besides other people's free
> choices or the next meteorit).
> What worries me about the situation is the
> contradiction implied in all "Napoleonic" efforts;
> i.e., to wage wars against other people's government
> in order to "free" the population, in the assumption
> that any kind of people really wants "democracy".
> I like to assume that too, but I do not think that to
> wage wars help - considering that fighting a war
> implies strong limits to democracy even where some
> democracy already exists, and that any war calls for
> other wars.
> Bush and Blair, and Fallaci and Berlusconi, assume
> that war has being waged initially by Islam, not by
> them. They hold "Islam" as the opposite to
> "democracy", and as the new "enemy": the new "Evil
> Empire/Russia". France and Germany, Russia and China,
> do not seem to totally agree, even though they have
> problems with Islam too (or because of that).
> Does it all come down to "oil" resources instead ? I
> do not know for sure. In any case, I think that the
> problems of communication between
> anglo-saxon-protestant and arab-muslim cultures are
> somehow underestimated: and such neglet does not help.
> This is a long story. I read that in the '500
> Elizabeth the Queen of England and the Sultan of the
> Mecca used Italian translators and translations as an
> intermediate step in their written corrispondence. The
> Italian translators, it seems, used to change the
> meaning of the letters coming from both sides, in
> order to keep both writers unaware of the fact that
> the other writer did not agree on their respective
> statuses (king-subject, for the Sultan, or independent
> nations, for Elizabeth).
> Being Italian, even though Italy did not exist then as
> a sovereing state or national language and it is not
> so certain to which extent it does exist now, I feel
> my duty to call for always more attention and honesty
> in the analyses of cultural assumptions on both and
> any sides.
> Francesco Ranci
> --- Trichur Ganesh <tganesh@stlawu.edu> wrote:
> > I disagree with the comparison you make, Elson.  In
> > a talk that I gave in a Conference titled "The Real
> > Situation" on the 29th of January, I compared the
> > current empire-making bid of the US to the Hapsburg
> > bid for European empire.  I think that is the
> > correct comparison.  In both cases the terms of the
> > bid are similar, the religious wars of Reformation
> > (Catholics vs. Protestants), 'good vs.evil', in both
> > cases also, a clear case of 'overstretch'.  For more
> > elaboration on this you may want to read my "The
> > Current Conjuncture".  Ganesh K. Trichur.
> >
> > Elson Boles wrote:
> >
> > > This is a question I wish Boris had put to
> > Wallerstein:
> > >
> > > While there is no comparison between Bush and
> > Napoleon as individuals, is there a reasonable
> > comparison between the US hawks "pre-emptive"
> > polices toward an American Empire and France's
> > Napoleon era?
> > >
> > > Wallerstein in several pieces on the three
> > hegemonies refers to counter- hegemony: attempts to
> > create world-empires and the second before last
> > being Napoleon.  If we accept the general
> > comparison, one could contend that there is more in
> > common between the US hawks and Napoleon than with
> > Nazism.  There are the stated aims of world
> > dominance but also "democratization" (and the
> > contradiction is consistent with Napoleonic Europe),
> > and liberalism.
> > >
> > > But of course, as Arrighi also stresses, cycles
> > don't repeat, but evolve.  And in this case, what is
> > obviously different is that the old hegemon is
> > making the attempt based on its superior military,
> > while the new center(s) of the world-economy don't
> > have the military edge.  That means that the pattern
> > of successive hegemons ended with the US and it
> > seems unlikely that there will be another hegemon.
> > But that seems to jibe with the oddity of the US
> > (the last hegemon) making the effort toward
> > world-empire since, in the current era of
> > bifurcation, the old rules are off, strange things
> > happen, and the future is difficult to predict (but
> > impossible?).
> > >
> > > The US seems much less likely to succeed by
> > comparison to Napoleon, for all the reasons that
> > Wallerstein and others have stated.
> > >
> > > So, to elaborate, one of the question is, is the
> > attempt comparable?   Another is, if the US does
> > fail, what are the chances that Europe will succeed
> > through a de Lampedusa scheme?  (I think the chances
> > are higher than Wallerstein suggests though he
> > claims that prediction is nearly impossible - and
> > predictability is another issue I'd like to take
> > up).
> > >
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