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A World Transforming -- from Nation States to...?

by Ren Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 06:02:55 AM EST

Just read through the debate over the question "What good is the European Union?" and I can see I have a ways to go to get comfortable with the depths of the various arguments.  At the moment I am still limited to expressing my US contextualized macro view of geopolitics, which I don't doubt will serve me poorly in this environment, and I may clumsily step on a few toes around here as I express them, but I want to start somewhere. So I'll klutz it out for a bit in hopes I'll learn quickly from my mistakes.

I appreciated the The Independent article of the fifty points answering: So, what has Europe ever done for us? Apart from.... Gave me a good summary of points to work with.

I noticed one post in my review of the debate of point 42 on the list, with no followup discussion. But I'm raising some questions about it here, so maybe some followup discussion can occur here.

From the diaries - afew


42. EU gives more, not less, sovereignty to nation states

Switzerland and Norway, two independent countries have little or no negotiating leverage when they deal with the EU. In fact they have less sovereignty than member states who decide the policy. Britons are more able to control their own destiny - in areas from international trade, to environmental protection, to consumer rights - because they are part of a 27 nation, democratic bloc. Real sovereignty, rather than theoretical sovereignty, is enhanced by EU membership.

I'm not sure what perspective that argument is taking in the big picture neoliberal globalism issue I've studied.  While it sounds a little bit like a salespitch for buying an SUV over a Corbin Sparrow,

in that they each have different advantages, it raises an interesting point for contemplation, and one I hope to explore more as I get to understand specific EU concerns better.  Among other international trade features, according to the formula, within the EU, nation states are purportedly being empowered on the feature of negotiation with members of the EU, although the example given is of two states not members but which could benefit by joining. Technical details are missing for me at the moment so I don't know how to agree or disagree about it.  

A trend which I have been looking at since I first got interestedf is the increasing freedom transnational corporations have been gaining to negotiate and effect nation state policies.  I'm not sure if this is included in that stated formula in point 42 of sovereignty or if its an issue that essentially transcends the EU focused discussion, one that all states as a whole face in a globalizing environment.

I see some major macro issues that the globalization trend is facing, and I have read others here -- Helen, for one, in her diary brings this up -- and those issues indicate a need for nation state entities to find solutions for the upcoming challenges of accumulations of global eco-destruction, global warming, and declining cheap fossil fuels that so far fuel the globalizing economy.  Subsets of that will be dealing with other large states, the US -- at least for now, though its hegemonic decline seems possible thanks to the acceleration of certain national factors that once gave it preeminence -- and what the US policies continue to do to effect the regions of significant resources, like the Middle East, where other emergent nations like China and India will be looking if they want to increase their economic standing in and share in the larger global economic system.

All of this to me is part of a larger neoliberal process that has a history that spans the beginning of European colonial expansion in the 1400s through a period of the colonies transforming to the composition of nation states the world is now.

Watch the following global map from Wiki's Colonialism and see how it changes from 1492 to now:

Not sure yet how neoliberalism is distinguished in the EU benefits list.  Nor am I sure how "democracy" is defined.  I hope to find out much more about the European perspective of those as I interact here.

So I am asking a question that may be on a different tact than the one in point 42, and that's whether the globalization process is transforming the nation states to something else yet, in the still formulating future.

For consideration I offer the following articles as an example of these challenges to nation states, the first is from a multi state NGO organization formed in 1973 by private citizens of Japan, European Union countries, US and Canada, The Trilateral Commission:



Globalization and the Changing Roles of States
Ernesto Zedillo

The following remarks were made by Ernesto Zedillo to the 2001 annual meeting of the Trilateral Commission in London. Ernesto Zedillo is former President of Mexico:

It is commonly believed that globalization is forcing nation-states to adapt. This view considers that modern globalization is mainly a result of technological progress in production methods, transport, and telecommunications. It attributes to nation-states a somewhat reactive, even passive, role in the process. At the very best, proponents of this standpoint look at the nation-state as just one among several important factors in the globalization process. An extreme version of this view would submit that globalization frequently proceeds in spite of nation-states. I dispute the validity of this view because it does not correspond with practical experience and it can also lead to mistaken policy decisions. I believe that modern globalization has occurred not in spite of the nation-state, but really, to a significant extent, because of decisions and actions taken by nation-states.

Global integration, economic and otherwise, has indeed been driven by technological progress and economic incentives, but it would be inconceivable in its present form without the universe of political decisions taken by states at both the national and international levels in many fundamental respects. The rapid expansion of international trade and investment in recent decades has certainly been facilitated by technological progress, but it would hardly have occurred in the absence of very deliberate policies implemented by member states of the international community. At the national level, sovereign state decisions to foster the market economy by opening to foreign trade and investment and liberalizing financial markets are, more than anything else, key to explaining present economic integration. At the international level, it has been chiefly by virtue of political decisions made by sovereign states that many agreements leading to unprecedented integration have been made.

For example, regional agreements such as the European Union, Mercosur, and NAFTA were not the result of technological progress. They have been above all the result of political visions and decisions by sovereign states. The processes which have produced, for example, the remarkable, albeit yet incomplete, rules-based WTO system are of an equally political nature. Believe me that no technological factor would help to significantly explain the way in which the Mexican economy has integrated into the world economy in just a few years. Sheer political decision and action explain why today Mexico has free trade with more countries than any other nation in the world. Of course, this circumstance includes NAFTA and the unprecedented FTA with Europe.

Acknowledging the strong political roots of globalization brings with it both good and bad news. The good news is that notwithstanding their current adverse reputation, the human inventions of politics and the nation-state are still doing a lot of good. The bad news is that, contrary to some beliefs, globalization, being to a great extent a creature of political decisions, is not an irreversible process. Its technological determinism is a fallacy. Beware of the possibility that governments and politicians can still resort to new forms of protectionism to roll back existing liberalization and can also make policy mistakes that could lead to a less propitious environment for the expansion of the international economy. They can, in short, adhere too quickly and too blindly to the emerging "political correctness" that fallaciously imputes to globalization all the present evils of the world. Let us not forget that, in modern history, globalization was already reversed once by the actions of states with disastrous consequences for humankind.

If we believe, and I certainly do, that globalization is not the cause, but part of the solution to the problems of poverty and inequality which unfortunately prevail in the world, then nation-states have an enormous responsibility not only to confront, with good politics and wise public policies, the present hostility towards globalization, but also to continue playing an active role in its orderly development. Our conference chairman, Peter Sutherland has rightly pointed out that, "While the market economy system is largely agreed in principle, the mechanisms to make it work internationally are at an early stage of development." This is by no means an exaggeration. The agenda facing nation-states to harness globalization's full potential contribution to human development is very challenging as well as fascinating. Of course, I do not intend to burden you with an exhaustive discussion of such an agenda. Fortunately, it is being covered to some extent in the various sessions of this meeting. Just allow me to hint at a few points that I consider to be of some relevance.

First, I would insist on the fundamental and irreplaceable role of nation-states in the construction of global governance. In this task, as in many others, it is absurd to try to bypass the nation-state with agents of nil democratic representation and of dubious transparency and accountability. Indeed, let us be attentive to all voices, but without allowing the state to be overruled by other actors, however altruistic they may claim to be.

Second, nation-states should continue to strive for a rules-based international system. This is in the best interests of the weaker members of the international community. Far from diminishing modern national sovereignties, a rules-based system enhances the power of weaker states to safeguard their legitimate interests. I liked what Secretary Robin Cook said to us yesterday, "We are now as interdependent as we are independent." In reference to the developing countries' cases I could change somewhat Mr. Cook's idea to make it even more appealing: We are now independent to the extent that we are interdependent.

Third, the WTO experiment--indeed the first post-Cold War era rules-based institution--should not only be fully completed in a new comprehensive round of negotiations, but the basics of this model (binding regulations and dispute settlement provisions) should be extended to other essential areas. Rather sooner than later, the international community--represented by nation-states and assisted by existing multilateral institutions--should begin to decide on new or reinforced global institutions in fields such as the environment, investment, world taxation, banking standards, and accounting standards. Likewise, the fundamental issue of global public goods should be tackled.

Fourth, and most important, nation-states should more effectively confront the acute problem of social exclusion at both the domestic and the international levels. They should start by dispelling the mistaken idea that globalization per se is a main cause of existing disparities. Globalization offers unique opportunities that hardly any other economic arrangement could provide. The question is why some are able to take advantage of those opportunities, while others cannot--or are left behind. The bottom line (or I should better say, the dividing line) has to do with freedom. People are left behind because they are not free. And they are not free because they lack nutrition, education, training, health, basic human and political rights, security, elementary infrastructure, and employment. By means of well-designed and focused social policies which expand basic human freedoms, the most vulnerable members of societies can be empowered to share the opportunities provided by the market economy and globalization at-large. Of course this is more easily said than done. It requires sound domestic policies pursued by strong and democratic national institutions, but in many cases it also requires vigorous international cooperation that, unfortunately, is today practically absent from the agendas of the well-off countries of our world.

I hope that, beyond any altruistic sentiment, self-interest will advise a change in the present status quo about aid and international cooperation. Otherwise, confusion and animosity about globalization will prevail. And much sooner than later, everyone will have to pay for that.


     

The second is from another NGO of a different order, this one monitors the UN and is concerned that free markets are not enough to ensure global prosperity Global Policy Forum



Globalization and the Nation State
A Cartography of Governance: Exploring the Role of Environmental NGOs
Jayantha Dhanapala *
Colorado Journal of International Environmental Law and Policy
April 7, 2001

Introduction

My task today is not an enviable one, for the twin subjects of my remarks -- globalization and the nation state -- have already been the focus of voluminous tracts by some of the keenest observers of the modern age. Yet one must address these issues, for the future role of environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will be profoundly affected by the evolution of this complex process known as globalization, and this ever-changing structure known as the nation state. In the years ahead, environmental NGOs will not simply be passively influenced by these two hallmarks of our time, but they will also have the potential to influence them both for the good of all, and to ensure their harmonious coexistence for the common benefit of humankind.

Sovereignty, Globalization, and Interdependence

An essential link between globalization and the nation state is the concept of sovereignty, a term dating back several centuries, well before the nation-state system was established in 1648. Originally intended in reference to the establishment of order within a state, sovereignty has since been interpreted by some as a legal quality that places the state above the authority of all external laws. Yet whenever a state exercises its sovereign right to sign a treaty, it is also wilfully limiting that right by the very act of undertaking an international legal obligation. States are also bound by other rules, such as customary international law. With these formal legal limitations, sovereignty stubbornly persists even in an age of globalization -- and is manifested in such functions as the coining of money, the gathering of taxes, the promulgation of domestic law, the conduct of foreign policy, the regulation of commerce, and the maintenance of domestic order. These are all functions that are reserved exclusively to the state, a condition that the European Union is challenging today in many dimensions of governance, but has by no means overcome.

States have, over the years, discovered that their interests are better advanced within a broader system of binding rules than without such a system. Rules help to define rights, including property rights, as well as duties, including duties to do and not to do certain things. What precisely these rights and obligations are depends on a whole complex of circumstances: political, economic, cultural, and technological. In our current age, globalization is having a profound effect upon national and international rules -- it is, for example, influencing the norms that govern world commerce, transportation, environmental protection, to name only a few.

There is, however, no universally-agreed definition of this term. It made its debut in western public policy circles in the mid-1980s -- replacing "interdependence" -- and was at the time generally viewed in an economic context. Globalization simply referred to a largely commercial process involving rapid increases in the exchange of goods, capital, and services across national frontiers. It figured particularly in writings about the role of multinational corporations, with their global networks of vertically-integrated subsidiaries and affiliates.

Expanded flows of commerce across borders had, to be sure, many benefits. They provided profits, jobs, efficiencies of scale, lowered unit costs, and increased the variety of goods available for everyone to buy. This commerce was facilitated by important technological trends, like the increased speed and declining cost of long-distance transportation (both of passengers and of cargo) and similar developments in the field of telecommunications. Simply put, it was not just getting easier to do business across national borders, but highly desirable to the growing numbers of potential beneficiaries of this commerce.

Some commentators over the ages have even written that unfettered trade would be the key to world peace, since states -- and the large economic interests within them -- would be most reluctant to let wars interfere with the cool logic of mutual economic gain. Journalists, social scientists, and political leaders joined their economist friends in heralding a new age of interdependence, one that promised a more rational way of going about the world's business, one less influenced by unilateral actions by nation states, including the use of force.

Yet any fair assessment of interdependence must go back somewhat farther in history than the last few decades or so, for the concept is actually much older. Several historians, economists, and political scientists throughout the 20th century used the term extensively in their writings. They understood that the world's economy was highly interdependent even well before World War I. A recent study by the International Monetary Fund, for example, stated that "By some measures, international economic integration increased just as much in the 50 years before World War I as in recent decades, and reached comparable levels."

Many of these writers were also keenly aware of another dimension of interdependence -- namely, its potential to make armed conflicts much more devastating. Distinguished observers like Norman Angell, Leonard Wolf, Francis Delaisi, and Ramsey Muir wrote extensively on this theme and questioned the adequacy of the nation state in meeting the economic and security challenges of the new century. In short, the close interdependence of the world's economies did not only offer great benefits, but also entailed great risks, and great responsibilities for governmental reform. The capacity to generate wealth clearly did not come with any guarantees that this new wealth would be distributed equitably, as recent economic trends show clearly that the gap between the rich and poor -- both within and between nations -- has widened even in the generally prosperous decade of the 1990s. Interdependence also entails cross-border exchanges of what are called, negative externalities, including environmental pollution, risks of international pandemics, and thriving clandestine markets for arms, components of weapons of mass destruction, narcotics, and even illicit transfers of various forms of industrial wastes.

Globalization is an ongoing process, not a completed condition. Against the grand tapestry of history, it has arguably just started. It has grown from a purely economic or technological concept and now implies evolutionary change on a cultural dimension as well. Information communicated through modern print and electronic media is not just affecting commerce, but shaping world-views, relations inside families, and attitudes of citizens to the state. The process, however, has still not significantly touched an extraordinary proportion of humanity and hence has not yet truly earned its title, globalization.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has spoken repeatedly about how unevenly the benefits of globalization have been distributed. He has noted the existence of a "digital divide" in which only 5 percent of the world is connected to the World Wide Web -- 80 percent of which is published only in English. He has repeatedly noted in his speeches that half of humanity has neither received nor made a simple telephone call. As for the economic benefits, he notes that almost half of humanity still lives on less than $2 a day, and that over a billion people earn less than $1 a day. Whether one looks at the availability of drinking water, sanitation, educational opportunities, other crucial facets of human development, one can see that globalization per se has offered no cure-all for humanity's welfare needs.

Nor has globalization ushered in a golden age of world peace. In the decade since the end of the Cold War, over five million people have been killed in armed conflicts around the world -- that is about a million more than the entire population of the state of Colorado. Today, the world is now spending around $800 billion on defence expenditures, over 90 percent of the levels spent during the Cold War. There also remain an estimated 30,000 nuclear weapons that, if used in a global conflict, could eliminate all the various gains of globalization in just a few minutes.

The Nation State

Many of the brightest prospects, as well as the worst potential risks, of globalization stem from the fate of the nation, in particular its association with the administrative structure known as the state. The idea that each state should have, or coincide with, its underlying nation goes back many years before the doctrine of national self-determination was enshrined -- albeit selectively -- in the Versailles Treaty after World War I. Though there is considerable disagreement over the formal definition of the term, the communitarian nation differs from the administrative machinery of the state much as the human spirit differs from the bones and muscles of one's body. The nation is not an administrative contrivance, but a form of collective social identity, one that is based on a common historical, linguistic, or cultural heritage.

Historically, the leaders of states have relied upon nations as a base of support for official laws and policies, indeed, as a basis for their own legitimacy. As the backbone of political power of the administrative state, the nation has rallied behind many great causes, including many of the progressive reforms in social, economic, and environmental policy of the 20th century. Yet since Napoleonic times, the nation has also been associated with the age of total war, of horrific conflicts between the peoples of the world rather than just their armies. This unfettered spirit of the nation, when combined with the revolutionary advances in military technology in the 19th and 20th century, has led to the bloodiest years in the history of humanity. Even today, the nation, and its associated ideology -- nationalism -- continue to provide a formidable obstacle to constructive international cooperation on an enormous variety of common global problems.

In an age of total war, of instant global communications and fast, cheap travel, the nation state has appeared to many observers as a quaint, even dangerous anachronism. Even a hard-core realist like Hans Morgenthau was drawn to declare thirty-five years ago that -- in his words -- Modern technology has rendered the nation state obsolete as a principle of political organization; for the nation state is no longer able to perform what is the elementary function of any political organization: to protect the lives of its members and their way of life . . . The modern technologies of transportation, communications, and warfare, and the resultant feasibility of all-out atomic war, have completely destroyed this protective function of the nation state.

Contemporary observers and leaders alike have devoted considerable effort throughout the postwar years in the pursuit of measures to go -- in the popular parlance -- "beyond the nation state." The functionalist approach of Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman -- the pioneers of the European Union -- sought to tackle this problem by building habits of cooperation in relatively non-sensitive areas of economic and cultural activity in the belief that, in due course, these habits of cooperation would spill over into more sensitive areas. Habits can be powerful political forces indeed. As Samuel Johnson once said, "The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken." Obsolete though it may be in many ways, the nation state nevertheless persists as do, quite obviously, a multitude of nations. Indeed, many of the legal and political principles of exclusivity commonly associated with the nation state are enshrined in the great treaty linking all countries, the Charter of the United Nations. Yet, at the start of the new millennium, we are also seeing the gradual emergence of an awareness throughout the world of our common humanity and the planet as a whole rather than simply the sum of its parts.

This synthesis of the globe and the nation state as the fundamental units of sustained political activity is but another way of thinking about the process of globalization. The idea here is not to replace the nation state but to adapt it to be more responsive to human needs in new global conditions.

Without a doubt the best expression of the synthesis that is now underway can be found in a historic document that was issued last September after the Millennium Summit at the United Nations, the largest-ever gathering of world leaders. This document, called the Millennium Declaration, consists of a statement of common values and principles, as well as a list of specific common objectives. Specific initiatives are outlined in the areas of peace, security, and disarmament; development and poverty eradication; protecting the environment; human rights, democracy, and good governance; protecting the vulnerable; meeting the special needs of Africa; and strengthening the United Nations.

It is noteworthy that the primary agent for pursuing these common, global goals remains the state. The declaration itself, for example, was, unlike the Charter, a statement by "heads of State and Government" not their peoples. In this document, these leaders emphatically rededicated themselves "to uphold the sovereign equality of all States," to respect their "territorial integrity and political independence," and to reaffirm their commitment of "non-interference in the internal affairs of States." It is hard to read this language and conclude that the state is obsolete.

Yet to read only those passages pertaining to the state would be to ignore other parts of the declaration that clearly seek to move the focus of political action to the betterment of all humanity. Hence one finds listed among the key values of the new Declaration a "collective responsibility to uphold the principles of human dignity, equality and equity at the global level." The document declares the existence of a duty "to all the world's people" and refers throughout to "our common humanity." What makes this Declaration so interesting is not only the solid consensus behind it, but its brilliant synthesis and redefinition of ends and means in the millennium to come. The document puts forward clear global ends and relies upon states as key agents in pursuing those ends on behalf of all humanity. The Declaration offers states a road map of initiatives they should follow for the collective good of all.

In the area of protecting the environment, for example, the Declaration's language calls upon states to embrace and implement numerous international conventions and understandings, including the Kyoto Protocol and support for the principles of sustainable development enshrined in the Rio Declaration. The actions needed to enforce such agreements do not materialize from nowhere: they continue to depend heavily upon enlightened action by states.

Globalization and the NGOs

This begs the question, how is it possible to motivate structures of the state that have for centuries now sought to maximize the interest of specific local nationalities, to implement instead policies that serve the global common good? Even if it were possible to place an enlightened leader at the head of every government on Earth, that would be no guarantee that the complicated machinery of the state would respond to this solemn new responsibility.

Global values simply cannot be imposed upon states from without. They must be embraced by states from within. The state is a neutral administrative structure that can be used for purposes both good and bad. It is neither inherently nor inevitably the enemy of globalization.

The central challenge of our time is not to achieve the end of the nation state, but to rehabilitate the ends of the nation state.

Globalization must mean more than simply the sterile process of expanding markets. In presenting his Millennium Report to the General Assembly a year ago, Secretary-General Kofi Annan offered the following observations:

To make a success of this great upheaval, we must learn how to govern better, and -- above all how to govern better together. We need to make our States stronger and more effective at the national level. And we need to get them working together on global issues, all pulling their weight and having their say.

A few days later he described the following as needed for a well-functioning international system: "Ultimately, national action is the determining factor. If there is a single idea that embodies the sum total of national action, that idea is good goverance."

The essence of good governance is popular participation, transparency, and public accountability. Strong laws to protect the environment, for example, are forged as a result of a sustained political process, a process involving persisting efforts throughout civil society. Enlightened leaders in government require this popular participation to adopt laws and policies to meet genuine human needs, just as the groups in society that are advocating such reforms must also depend upon official authorities to promulgate and vigorously enforce such reforms.

In this light, NGOs can be a catalyst of what is truly good about globalization. Though they are elected by no one and lack legal authority themselves to govern, they play a crucial role in helping the state to identify new goals, in educating the wider public of the need for action, and in providing political support that government leaders need to enact new laws, to implement new policies, and to see that they are enforced. NGOs also will have a role in exposing inefficient and ineffective policies and in mobilizing demands for constructive change.

Conclusion

If it is true that the nation state is likely to remain for some time to come a prominent reference point in the "cartography of governance" -- the subject of this symposium -- it is also true that the specific role of this administrative structure will be determined by more than structural or topographic features of a political system. To this extent, a "meteorology of governance" is needed as well, for it addresses the dynamic though often unpredictable processes that occur across the political landscape.

If the winds of political change are to sweep into the dusty halls of government, they will originate from the same place they have always arisen from time immemorial -- they will flow from the voices of the people.

To overcome the numerous institutional obstacles to change, broad-based coalitions must be formed among the people. Environmental NGOs can accomplish much through their own hard work and focused efforts. They can accomplish much more, however, through networks of alliances with other groups throughout civil society that share a commitment to the common good. These are the kinds of networks that led to the conclusion of the Mine-Ban Convention and the campaign to create an International Criminal Court. The Partial Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty owes much of its existence to sustained work by people around the world who were concerned about the health and environmental effects of atmospheric nuclear testing. This track record indicates that the nation state and globalization are surely not mutually-exclusive concepts. Working together, they have the potential to be among humanity's most effective means of improving life on this planet for all and on an equitable basis. This challenge is no more important than in international peace and security, and no more demanding than in the area of disarmament. If the collective aim is inclusive, results-based globalization, clearly environmental NGOs have already made an excellent start in their combined efforts -- not to eliminate the state -- but to channel its significant resources toward achieving responsible, collective ends. This is the solemn task of environmental NGOs in the future, the task of mobilizing a stubborn defence of our common global heritage. Its best partners in this grand endeavour will remain an informed public, other like-minded groups, a state guided by enlightened laws and policies, and a common global forum to coordinate and integrate different pathways to our collective ends.

The fate of these collaborative efforts will profoundly shape both the cartography and meteorology of governance in the new millennium. They will determine whether humanity will find itself facing the dawn of a new millennium, or the encroaching darkness of its last sunset.

About the Author:Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, United Nations


     

And a third provacative question from Global Policy Reform:



Has Globalisation Really Made
Nations Redundant?

By Noëlle Burgi and Philip S. Golub
Le Monde Diplomatique
April 2000

From Gerhard Schröder to Massimo D'Alema, via Tony Blair and the apostles of the Third Way, Europe's politicians go on and on about less government and the weak state. In the same vein, many scholars argue that the nation state is a thing of the past. But these myths do not stand up to analysis. Worse still, they conceal the new configuration of power in the international system and lend legitimacy to the antisocial policies accompanying globalisation.

For 200 years capitalism was inextricably linked to the nation state. It emerged in the form of national markets, was based on national territories and relied on the state for support. Two nation states - Britain in the 19th century and the United States in the 20th - successively formed the hegemonic core of capitalism: each of them set the technological pace, set the rules of trade and production, and imposed the constraints of the world system. According to current wisdom, however, the bond between the nation state and capitalism is now coming to an end. Globalisation is said to be making the nation state obsolete, politics irrelevant and national sovereignty an empty shell.

This alleged demise of the nation state and national sovereignty is part and parcel of the universalist claims of contemporary capitalism. For the first time in history, capitalism has spread its reach to the remotest parts of the world and posits itself as a global system. Neither British capitalism in the 19th century nor even the American post-1945 version was truly universal. Today, capitalism is said to have finally broken away from its national moorings. It has become, as it were, extra-territorial, rootless, identity-less.

Hence the withering away of the nation state. Reduced to a managerial role in which it strives to cope with economic constraints that are beyond its control, it watches helplessly as the balance of forces swings towards the global markets. Within its historical borders it has ceased to be the locus of political action and identity, of social cohesion and the general interest. Beyond its frontiers it often retains only the formal attributes of sovereignty. In short, the state is supposed to have become, at best, just one among a number of otherwise private players in the international system. At worst, to have lost control altogether and to be no longer capable of influencing the course of events.

This view is particularly fashionable in Europe, where unification is proceeding by way of agreed transfers of sovereignty, but it does not stand up to an analysis of the origins of globalisation. It ignores the decisive role of the state in creating the global free market paradigm. It conceals the underlying aims of social policy. And it fails to appreciate the balance of power in the international system resulting from globalisation. Though in many parts of the world the state has indeed lost control, the fact remains that the American state has not withered away in the new free market utopia. On the contrary, US hegemony and sovereignty have been strengthened in spectacular fashion. In Europe, state power has been redeployed in accordance with the logic of globalisation to achieve economic unification. While the role of the state has been redefined (at the cost of growing social hardship), there has been no automatic weakening of state power.

Just as the intervention of the British state was decisive in establishing a free labour market to promote the expansion of industrial capitalism in the 19th century (see 'Globalisation then and now'), so the necessary conditions for the emergence of a global free market at the end of the 20th century have had to be created. The capitalist world economy in the period following the second world war was by no means a "free market". It was subject to a system of monetary regulation that ensured its stability and predictability. The state, as guarantor of social cohesion, coordinated economic, industrial and labour policy at a national level.

Globalisation is tearing apart this post-war social contract. The creation of a worldwide free market is rooted in a series of decisions taken by the US over the last 30 years which dismantled the post-war international monetary system, liberalised world markets and granted the financial sector an autonomy and power unparalleled since the golden age of British finance. The industrial capitalism of the "30 glorious years" after the second world war gave way to finance capitalism. And it is the financial sector - divorced from the economic foundations on which it rests - which now sets the pace, generates systemic constraints, and imposes normative behaviour.

The US began by abandoning the system of fixed exchange rates established by the Bretton Woods Agreements in 1944 (1) and introducing a system of generalised floating exchange rates. There was a strong economic motive for the decision, which the US authorities took unilaterally in 1973. They were seeking to compensate for declining competitiveness and a growing national debt by exporting the country's macroeconomic imbalances. The floating exchange rate system provided a flexible and efficient monetary tool that enabled them to avoid the adjustments that would otherwise have been required by America's new situation as a debtor. In a system of fixed exchange rates and gold convertibility, the US would have been obliged, like every third-world country today, to pay for its indebtedness with a relative loss of sovereignty and highly unpopular domestic austerity measures.

The new system also allowed the US to maintain a high standard of living at home by dipping into the planet's savings. Thanks to its political power and to the dollar, which was the world's only reserve currency, the US was able to keep its monetary sovereignty intact. Its allies could not question American policy without destabilising the institutional fabric and the cold-war security system from which they derived undoubted benefits. The burgeoning US deficit was funded for decades by Japan and Europe.

A decisive step was taken in the 1980s with the deregulation of the US finance industry, which paved the way for its globalisation via the Wall Street banks, brokers, hedge funds (2) and pension funds that dominate the world's financial flows. Worldwide liberalisation in the 1980s and 1990s gave the US finance industry access to the savings of the newly industrialised and emerging countries, where rates of return were very high. In short, the establishment of a global free capital market was essential for the economic and financial wellbeing of the world's leading debtor (3).

This explains the continuity of US policy on financial liberalisation, the "Washington consensus". In 1985 Ronald Reagan set out to knock down barriers to trade, foreign investment and the free movement of capital between industrialised countries, especially in Japan. His successor continued this effort though the Enterprise for the Americas Initiative, designed to support free markets and the free movement of capital in the western hemisphere. "Previous administrations had pushed for financial liberalisation principally in Japan, but under President Clinton it became a worldwide effort" directed in particular at the new area of wealth accumulation in East Asia, "seen as a potential gold mine for American banks and brokerages" (4).

The US secured the liberalisation of the Japanese financial system and the revaluation of the yen under the 1985 Plaza Accords through a mixture of coercion and cooperation typical of a hegemonic power. In so doing it inflated the bubble that eventually burst at the end of the decade. However, when it came to organising the forced march towards liberalisation of the newly industrialised countries, the government set itself on a war footing. The overall plan, coordinated by the US Department of Commerce, identified 10 rising economic powers from the Pacific to the Atlantic whose economies were to be opened up, and it called upon all government departments from the CIA to US ambassadors abroad (5).

As an emanation of the most powerful Western states that make up its membership, the International Monetary Fund legitimised this strategy. While some emerging countries and ruling castes have benefited from liberalisation, this does not alter the fact that it was imposed by coercion. As Robert Keohane and Helen Milner have pointed out: "During the 1980s intense political pressure was exerted by advanced industrialised countries on developing countries to open their economies ... the national economic regulations of developing countries were called into question" (6).

Hegemony has many faces. In the early 1990s Washington set itself three objectives: to maintain the global balance resulting from the end of the cold war, to ensure its technological lead and military supremacy, and to create an economic environment favourable to its own interests. For the most part, these objectives have been achieved. Admittedly, international balances are not static and hegemony does not mean absolute freedom of action. But no country or group of countries appears able to constitute a political counterweight to the US in the foreseeable future, let alone call into question its primacy in the hierarchy of nations. As political pundit Thomas Friedman puts it: "In the globalisation system, the United States is now the sole and dominant superpower and all other nations are subordinate to it to one degree or another " (7). In other words, they ought to accept America's "benevolent global hegemony".

Benevolent or not, US hegemony is a fundamental reality that conditions the international political economy. The worldwide free market is strengthening the American model, which today relies on its strong comparative advantages in the post-industrial sectors of financial and cultural services, communications, leading-edge technologies and scientific-technical production. At the same time, a normative world culture is emerging in the realms of economic activity, social practice and private international law.

And it is the US which is laying down the new groundrules, i.e. the dominant economic norms (profitability, shareholder value), the regulatory criteria (ratings of companies and states), and the legal rules (international commercial arbitration). For instance, the behaviour of the markets is shaped by the ratings awarded by two major US private rating agencies, Moody's and Standard & Poor. Acting both as judge and party, they are imposing US normative criteria on the rest of the world (8).

American capital thus operates in a universe of rules which it is constantly redefining and which determine the constraints of the international system. The US itself is not subject to those constraints. Nor has the American state lost control of the markets: the Federal Reserve's decisive action following the stock market crash in 1987 and the US Treasury's intervention in 1994-95 after the collapse of the Mexican peso are obvious cases in point. The state also played a crucial though belated role in 1997-98 during the Asian crisis in preventing the collapse of international banking system and ensuring that liberalisation could continue.

Within this overall primary hegemony, the other Western powers participate to varying degrees in a broader pattern of western hegemony vis-à-vis the "third world". Globalisation is institutionalising a new balance of power between states that hardens the sovereignty of some while reducing the autonomy of the others. The worldwide free market accentuates the disparity between the centres of capital and the peripheries. The players with knowledge and power lay down the rules; the others fall into line.

Trapped in an international division of labour that forces them into often harmful specialisation, the most vulnerable third-world countries are losing the last remnants of their sovereignty, while the newly industrialised countries have become even more dependent over the last few years, as recent experience in East Asia proves (9). This is hardly surprising. "Emerging" countries have never had more than limited autonomy, and the formal sovereignty of those on the weakest fringes has always proved more theoretical than real.

While the European Union is an active participant in the worldwide free-market utopia, at the same time it constitutes a potential counterweight. Since the early 1980s European unification has been directed towards the creation of an entity capable of competing with the US, rather than opposing it. By combining forces in a larger unit, the member states have been attempting to assert their sovereignty jointly in response to globalisation, since none of them is any longer able to do so individually.

From 1981 to 1983 France still believed it could go it alone. In the end it was forced to abandon its policy of growth stimulation in favour of an antisocial austerity package chillingly described as competitive deflation. It might seem that the constraints of globalisation and the demands of economic unification were now absolute and left national governments no room for manoeuvre. A closer look at the redeployment of sovereignty and political power in Europe shows this conclusion to be false.

Transfers of sovereignty to the EU - with regard to monetary matters or competition law - do not necessarily imply a reduction of national sovereignty. They are not a zero sum game. Under pressure in the new international political economy, the European nation states are pooling their sovereignty to resist submersion. In other words, they are attempting to recover the sovereignty under threat at national level by relying on the strength of a larger regional entity.

The EU has no central authority. Decision-making bodies vary from sector to sector. But on matters of strategic importance, the influence of the member states often remains decisive. The Council of Ministers (i.e. the national executives of the member states), and especially the ministers of finance and economic affairs, have a privileged position among the EU institutions, at the expense of the European parliament and the national parliaments.

If we consider sovereignty as relative autonomy within the inter-state system, there is little doubt that the national executives have been able to exercise it through the EU institutions, at least in key areas relating to the world economy. If there is one subject of European consensus, it is free competition, which has been raised to the status of an absolute good. There can be no doubt about the concordance of national and European policy on this matter, since many of the reforms introduced by member states at national level preceded the corresponding EU regulations and sometimes go much further than required by strict compliance with EU constraints. France's deregulation of its financial markets in 1984, on Anglo-American rather than German lines, is a case in point (10).

Popular sovereignty, on the other hand, is breached with increasing frequency by EU practices that prevent parliaments and, even more so, civil society from playing their proper role in areas of crucial concern. In the context of globalisation and European unification, we have a situation - often referred to as the "democratic deficit" - in which the redeployment of state sovereignty is being achieved at the cost of a considerable increase in the autonomy of the political authorities, barely concealed by a barrage of new regulations designed to attenuate the effects of social distress. And when it comes to social measures, the Commission is deliberately holding back on the grounds that the complexity of national systems of social protection, and the specific historical development in each member state, would make social harmonisation highly problematic if not impossible.

National governments, which are closer to their citizens, are supposed to be in a better position to defend their interests when it comes to respect for social traditions and national temperament. Nevertheless, all the national social reforms proposed or implemented are converging towards the same goal: the liberalisation of labour markets. Contrary to the new conventional wisdom, the fact that such reforms are entrusted to the member states, and are implemented incrementally, by no means indicates any resistance by national governments to the forces of globalisation.

The nation states are simply playing the role which Karl Polanyi identified in the context of the first "great transformation" (see 'Globalisation then and now'), that of "altering the rate of change, speeding it up or slowing it down as the case may be". Governments are defusing resistance by reforming step by step. But as the combined effect of the measures comes to be felt, they too are experienced as faits accomplis.

There is much lamenting over the powerlessness of national governments. Yet these very governments are contributing fully to the elaboration and implementation of the new hegemonic political economy. They have chosen to participate actively, rather than simply adapt (11), and are acting simultaneously at national, regional, local and European levels to redefine the rules in line with current neoliberal dogma and practice. The role of EU institutions has been less to usurp national sovereignty than to enable the member states to pursue their national interests by other means.

Because of the way it was conceived from the outset, European unification is a finality without a goal, a forced and blind march forward towards a final objective that is always receding into the distance (12). Since there is no turning back, member states cannot go back on their word. They are trapped in the machinery. In defining general policy options, they bear responsibility for rules subsequently laid down by the Commission that are binding on all their citizens and take priority over national legislation.

So far, responsibility for the consequences of the policy choices of the nation states has been largely attributed to Europe, thus protecting them from blame. But through this blame avoidance strategy, states could well end up losing control of the process. If that happened, there could be no return to the status quo ante. Left to themselves, nation states would lose the room for manoeuvre they had regained by concerted action. The only solution would be to redefine the purpose of European unification.

The growth of inequalities not only raises ethical issues. In the end it always holds back economic development and undermines social cohesion. The transnational dynamics of the EU could provide an opportunity for upward social harmonisation in line with the most favourable rules and practices (on working conditions, wages, employment, social protection, etc.) That would require political determination that is currently lacking but, if it could be mustered, would set an excellent example. Failing that, the establishment of a European free-trade empire in the face of US hegemony may perhaps result in multipolarity but will certainly not lead to a fairer world.

Noëlle Burgi is a CNRS research fellow at the Centre for Political Research, University of Paris I - Sorbonne. Philip Golub is a lecturer at the Institute of European Studies, University of Paris VIII - Saint-Denis.

(1) The Bretton Woods Agreements of 1944 laid the basis for the post-war international institutional set-up (IMF, BIRD, etc.)

(2) Speculative funds that avoid federal regulation by having fewer than 99 investors.

(3) The net US deficit now stands at $1.5 trillion, i.e. 20% of GDP.

(4) Nicholas D. Kristof and David Sanger, "How US Wooed Asia to let the Cash In", New York Times, 16 February 1999. See also "Les Etats-Unis et la mondialisation financière", Nord-Sud Export, no. 375, 30 April 1999.

(5) Ibid.

(6) Robert O. Keohane and Helen V. Milner (eds.), Internationalization and Domestic Politics, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1996, p.24.

(7) Thomas Friedman, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, New York, 1999.

(8) Saskia Assen, Losing control?: sovereignty in an age of globalization, Columbia University Press, New York, 1996, pp. 14-18.

(9) See "La Mondialisation contre l'Asie", Manière de voir, no. 47, September 1999.

(10) See Jean-Paul Fitoussi, Le debat interdit : monnaie, Europe, pauvreté, Arlea, Paris, 1995, pp. 202 et seq. Another example is the change in the legal definition of the state made by France's Constitutional Council in 1987, which removed the reference to the public interest and restricted the definition of the state to the means available to it. The practical outcome is that, as a result of joint European and national measures, activities of public interest are increasingly subordinated to competition law.

(11) Egged on by the EU governments, European banks largely contributed to the bubble in the emerging countries. See Philip S. Golub, "La vulnérabilité des banques européennes sur les marchés émergents", Nord-Sud Export, no. 366, 4 December 1998.

(12) Marc Abélès, En attente d'Europe, Hachette, Paris, 1996.

Translated by Barry Smerin


     

Update [2007-4-19 19:24:20 by Ren]:Thanks to some friendly help from Jerome about the need for a macro, as a touch of my shady side of humor, I'm adding this YouTube clip as a suggested answer to the question in the title:

Display:
Please oh please define your terms, so we can understand you. neoliberal globalism???

Do you remember our talks about DDT and the EU?

But naturally geopolitics only concerns US actions.

Other than that pretty impressive post. I recommend it highly.

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Wed Apr 18th, 2007 at 07:41:02 PM EST
...EMPIRES...
North American Empire.
EU Empire.
Mercosur.
Asian Monetary System (AMS).
Various African Unions...

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford
by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Thu Apr 19th, 2007 at 12:23:13 PM EST

No, not empires.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 19th, 2007 at 12:31:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nothing said that there can not be more than one empire at a time, especially in a multi-polar world.

What would one expect? A single polar world?

Just like individuals, nation states look out for their best interest which hopefully corresponds with what the citizens want.

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Thu Apr 19th, 2007 at 12:37:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you're going to have to define "empire".

My poles look to run the gamut from confederation to trade block to empire.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 19th, 2007 at 12:41:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am glad that you seem to have a nuanced view of the world and not just a knee jerk reaction to place everything into too broad of categories. Maybe you can explain the differences of your terminology.

Empire seems to be a reasonable place to start.
But more specifically I see actions of the Empire as happening within the empire state and that which creates a hegemonic presence outside the empire.

For example inside, monetary policy is no longer controlled by the individual states and thus they give up a certain level of autonomy to be part of the club. They tend to give up autonomy with regard to trade and international relations also. Much as Hong Kong lost this when becoming part of China.

Outside, it is shown by forcing other countries to abide by the empires rules and regulations.

Now if we can only get the diary poster to explain  neoliberal globalism???

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Thu Apr 19th, 2007 at 01:30:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru,

While I left the conclusion open, I was not thinking "empire" as a specific answer, though I acknowledge it is worthy of consideration. I would see empire as transitional as well. After all, the colonialization process was part of nation state initiated empire building that occurred within generally the same structural parameters, with the client areas defined by given states and charted and controlled by them.  For example, the original Thirteen Colonies of the US that "rebelled" were essentially chartered corporations of the British Crown (reference).  

In terms of globalization, many argue that the world is globalizing.  I'd argue it has been globalized for some time.  In the scenario I'm envisioning, that was achieved primarily through the colonization process, in which colonies transformed to client states, and from that a kind of globalized hierarchy of developed and underdeveloped nation states emerged, with varying forms of governance. All of that remains in flux.  So the question is, what are the features of this globalized world and where might the underlying structures lead.  I'm holding open in my mind the idea that a future defined by nation states is set.  Nation states are transforming as their international agreements and alliances transform, as we've seen with the emergence of the EU from six members in 1957 to 27 in 2007 (EU member states)

If I could get the script for embedding YouTubes to work for me I'd insert this trailer for Rollerball as a suggestion: Rollerball Trailer.

What we are seeing now is what I would describe as a neoliberal globalization process, with various states jockeying for advantage with major structural elements of the economic features.  The US, for instance, has had a major advantage through having its dollar as the preeminent international currency.  A potential threat to that advantage may have been a significant internal administrative perception when Saddam Hussein wanted to value his oil in Euros in 2000.  Lots of speculation on that one for the Iraq war and an upcoming invasion of Iran.  Google Hussein oil Euros

While my primary interest in what I've brought up in the diary is the changing roles of transnational corporations and the NGOs who are taking on some of the traditional roles of nation states in international diplomatic negotiations, if I were to use "empire" as a descriptor now for the macro globalized world, I would present it more along the lines of a multi nation state polyarchic world governance system. Polyarchic in the following sense (from a review of Promoting Polyarchy: Globalization, US Intervention, and Hegemony (Cambridge Studies in International Relations) (Print on Demand:

 

While economic and cultural globalization have attracted a good deal of popular and scholarly attention, globalization in the political sphere is a relatively under-researched area. In Promoting Polyarchy William Robinson, building on a formidable array of local knowledge and theoretical reflection, makes the bold argument that democracy promotion in US foreign policy is best explained in terms of the pluralist idea of polyarchy and that this restricted conception of democracy serves the interests of an increasingly transnational elite. Polyarchy, thus, `is a structural feature of the emergent global society.' The logic of the analysis and the power of his case studies represent a challenge that complacent pluaralists and those sceptical of globalization should not ignore." Leslie Sklair, London School of Economics

Dr. James Petras offered this structural arrangement which makes sense to me (from: Understanding Empire: Hierarchy, Networks and Clients):



Hierarchy of Empire

The structure of power of the world imperial system can best be understood through a classification of countries according to their political, economic, diplomatic and military organization. The following is a schema of this system:

I. Hierarchy of Empire (from top to bottom)
A. Central Imperial States (CIS)
B. Newly Emerging Imperial Powers (NEIP)
C. Semi-autonomous Client Regimes (SACR)
D. Client Collaborator Regimes (CCR)

II. Independent States:
A. Revolutionary
Cuba and Venezuela
B. Nationalist
Sudan, Iran, Zimbabwe, North Korea

III. Contested Terrain and Regimes in Transition
Armed resistance, elected regimes, social movements

At the top of the imperial system are those imperial states whose power is projected on a world scale, whose ruling classes dominate investment and financial markets and who penetrate the economies of the rest of the world.  At the apex of the imperial system stand the US, the European Union (itself highly stratified) and Japan.  Led by the US they have established networks of `follower imperial states' (largely regional hegemons) and client or vassal states which frequently act as surrogate military forces.  Imperial states act in concert to break down barriers to penetration and takeovers, while at the same time, competing to gain advantages for their own state and multinational interests.  

Just below the central imperial states are newly emerging imperial powers (NEIP), namely China, India, Canada, Russia and Australia.  The NEIP states are subject to imperial penetration, as well as expanding into neighboring and overseas underdeveloped states and countries rich in extractive resources.  The NEIP are linked to the central imperial states (CIS) through joint ventures in their home states, while they increasingly compete for control over extractive resources in the underdeveloped countries.  They frequently `follow' in the footsteps of the imperial powers, and in some cases take advantage of conflicts to better their own position.

For example China and India's overseas expansion focuses on investments in extractive mineral and energy sectors to fuel domestic industrialization, similar to the earlier (1880-1950's) imperial practices of the US and Europe.  Similarly China invests in African countries, which are in conflict with the US and EU, just as the US developed ties with anti-colonial regimes (Algeria, Kenya and Francophone Africa) in conflict with their former European colonial rulers in the 1950' and 1960's.

Further down the hierarchy of the imperial system are the `semi-autonomous client regimes' (SACR).  These include Brazil, South Korea, South Africa, Taiwan, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Chile and lately Bolivia.  These states have a substantial national economic base of support, through public or private ownership of key economic sectors.  They are governed by regimes, which pursue diversified markets, though highly dependent on exports to the emerging imperial states.  On the other hand these states are highly dependent on imperial state military protection (Taiwan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia) and provide regional military bases for imperial operations.  Many are resource-dependent exporters (Saudi Arabia, Chile, Nigeria and Bolivia) who share revenues and profits with the multi-nationals of the imperial states.  They include rapidly industrialized countries (Taiwan and South Korea), as well as relatively agro-mineral export states (Brazil, Argentina and Chile).

The wealthy oil states have close ties with the financial ruling classes of the imperial counties and invest heavily in real estate, financial instruments and Treasury notes which finance the deficits in the US and England.

On key issues such as imperial wars in the Middle East, the invasion of Haiti, destabilizing regimes in Africa, support for global neo-liberal policies and imperial takeovers of strategic sectors, they collaborate with rulers from the CIS and the NEIP.  Nevertheless, because of powerful elite interests and in some cases of powerful national social movements, they come into limited conflicts with the imperial powers.  For example, Brazil, Chile and Argentina disagree with the US efforts to undermine the nationalist Venezuelan government.  They have lucrative trade, energy and investment relations with Venezuela.  In addition they do not wish to legitimize military coups, which might threaten their own rule and legitimacy in the eyes of an electorate partial to President Chavez.  While structurally deeply integrated into the imperial system, the SACR regimes retain a degree of autonomy in formulating foreign and domestic policy, which may even conflict or compete with imperial interests.

Despite their `relative autonomy', the regimes also provide military and political mercenaries to serve the imperialist countries.  This is best illustrated in the case of Haiti.  Subsequent to the US invasion and overthrow of the elected Aristide Government in 2004, the US succeeded in securing an occupation force from its outright client and `semi-autonomous' client regimes.  President Lula of Brazil sent a major contingent.  A Brazilian General headed the entire mercenary military force.  Chile's Gabriel Valdez headed the United Nations occupation administration as the senior official overseeing the bloody repression of Haitian resistance movements.  Other `semi-autonomous' clients, such as Uruguay and Bolivia, added military contingents along with soldiers from client regimes such as Panama, Paraguay, Colombia and Peru.  President Evo Morales justified Bolivia's continued military collaboration with the US in Haiti under his presidency by citing its `peacekeeping role', knowing full well that between December 2006 and February 2007 scores of Haitian poor were slaughtered during a full-scale UN invasion of Haiti's poorest and most densely populated slums.

The key theoretical point is that given Washington current state of being tied down in two wars in the Middle East and West Asia, it depends on its clients to police and repress anti-imperialist movements elsewhere.  Somalia, as in Haiti, was invaded by mercenaries by Ethiopia, trained, financed, armed and directed by US military advisers.  Subsequently, during the occupation, Washington succeeded in securing its African clients (via the so-called Organization of African Unity according to the White House's stooge, Ugandan Army spokesman Captain Paddy Ankunda) to send a mercenary occupation army to prop up its unpopular client Somali warlord ruler.  Despite opposition from its Parliament, Uganda is sending 1500 mercenaries along with contingents from Nigeria, Burundi, Ghana and Malawi.

At the bottom of the imperial hierarchy are the client collaborator regimes (CCR).  These include Egypt, Jordan, the Gulf States, Central American and Caribbean Island states, the Axis of Sub-Saharan States (ASS) (namely Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Ghana), Colombia, Peru, Paraguay, Mexico, Eastern European states (in and out of the European Union), former states of the USSR (Georgia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Latvia, etc), Philippines, Indonesia, North Africa and Pakistan.  These countries are governed by authoritarian political elites dependent on the imperial or NEIP states for arms, financing and political support.  They provide vast opportunities for exploitation and export of raw materials.  Unlike the SACR, exports from client regimes have little value added, as industrial processing of raw materials takes place in the imperial countries, particularly in the NEIP.  Predator, rentier, comprador and kleptocratic elites who lack any entrepreneurial vocation rule the CCR.  They frequently provide mercenary soldiers to service imperial countries intervening, conquering, occupying and imposing client regimes in imperial targeted countries.  The client regimes thus are subordinate collaborators of the imperial powers in the plunder of wealth, the exploitation of billions of workers and the displacement of peasants and destruction of the environment.

The structure of the imperial system is based on the power of ruling classes to exercise and project state and market power,  retain control of exploitative class relations at home and abroad and to organize mercenary armies from among its client states.  Led and directed by imperial officials, mercenary armies collaborate in destroying autonomous popular, nationalist movements and independent states.

Client regimes form a crucial link in sustaining the imperial powers.  They complement imperial occupation forces, facilitating the extraction of raw materials.  Without the `mercenaries of color' the imperial powers would have to extend and over-stretch their own military forces, provoking high levels of internal opposition, and heightening overseas resistance to overt wars of re-colonization.  Moreover client mercenaries are less costly in terms of financing and reduce the loss of imperial soldiers.  There are numerous euphemistic terms used to describe these client mercenary forces:  United Nations, Organization of American States and Organization of African Unity `peacekeepers', the `Coalition of the Willing' among others.  In many cases a few white imperial senior officers command the lower officers and soldiers of color of the client mercenary armies.

Independent States and Movements

The imperial system while it straddles the globe and penetrates deeply into societies, economies and states is neither omnipotent nor omniscient.  Challenges to the imperial system come from two sources: relatively independent states and powerful social and political movements.

The `independent' states are largely regimes, which are in opposition to and targeted by the imperial states.  They include Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Zimbabwe.  What defines these regimes as `independent' is their willingness to reject the policies of the imperial powers, particularly imperial military interventions.  They also reject imperialist demands for unconditional access to markets, resources and military bases.

These regimes differ widely in terms of social policy, degree of popular support, secular-religious identities, economic development and consistency in opposing imperialist aggression.  All face immediate military threats and or destabilization programs, designed to replace the independent governments with client regimes.

Contested Terrain

The imperial hierarchy and networks are based on class and national relations of power.  This means that the maintenance of the entire system is based on the ruling classes dominating the underlying population - a very problematical situation given the unequal distribution of costs and benefits between the rulers and the ruled.  Today massive armed resistance and social movements in numerous countries challenge the imperial system.

Contested terrain includes: Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia, Somalia, Palestine, Sudan and Lebanon where armed resistance is intent on defeating imperial clients.  Sites of mass confrontations include Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Iran where the imperial powers are intent on overthrowing newly elected independent regimes.  Large scale social movements organized to combat client regimes and the imperial patrons have recently emerged in Mexico, Palestine, Lebanon, China, Ecuador and elsewhere.  Inside the imperial states there is mass opposition to particular imperial wars and policies, but only small and weak anti-imperialist movements.

The Anomaly:  Israel in the Imperial System

Israel is clearly a colonialist power, with the fourth or fifth biggest nuclear arsenal and the second biggest arms exporter in the world.  Its population size, territorial spread and economy however are puny in comparison with the imperial and newly emerging imperial powers.  Despite these limitations Israel exercises supreme power in influencing the direction of United States war policy in the Middle East via a powerful Zionist political apparatus, which permeates the State, the mass media, elite economic sectors and civil society (3a).  Through Israel's direct political influence in making US foreign policy, as well as through its overseas military collaboration with dictatorial imperial client regimes, Israel can be considered part of the imperial power configuration despite its demographic constraints, its near universal pariah diplomatic status, and its externally sustained economy.

Regimes in Transition

The imperial system is highly asymmetrical, in constant disequilibrium and therefore in constant flux - as wars, class and national struggles break out and economic crises bring down regimes and raise new political forces to power.  In recent times we have seen the rapid conversion of Russia from a world hegemonic contender (prior to 1989), converted into an imperial client state subject to unprecedented pillage (1991-1999) to its current position as a newly emerging imperial state.  While Russia is one of the most dramatic cases of rapid and profound changes in the world imperialist system, other historical experiences exemplify the importance of political and social changes in shaping countries' relationship to the world imperial system.  China and Vietnam, former bulwarks as independent, anti-imperialist states, have seen the rise of liberal-capitalist elites, the dismantling of the socialized economy and China's incorporation as a newly emerging imperialist power and Vietnam as a semi-autonomous client regime.

The major transitions during the 1980's - 1990's involved the conversion of independent anti-imperialist states into imperial client regimes.  In the Western hemisphere, these transitions include Nicaragua, Chile, Bolivia, Argentina, Jamaica and Grenada.  In Africa, they include Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau, Algeria, Ethiopia and Libya, all converted into kleptocratic client regimes.  In Asia similar processes are afoot in Indo-China.  Because of the disastrous consequences of imperial-centered policies administered by client regimes, the first decade of the new millennium witnessed a series of massive popular upheavals and regime changes, especially in Latin America.  Popular insurrections in Argentina and Bolivia led to regime shifts from client to semi-autonomous clients.  In Venezuela after a failed coup and destabilization campaign, the Chavez regime moved decisively from semi-autonomous client to an independent anti-imperialist position.

Ongoing conflicts between imperial and anti-imperialist states, between client regimes and nationalist movements, between imperial and newly emerging imperial states, will change the structure of the imperial system.  The outcomes of these conflicts will produce new coalitions among the principal forces, which compose the imperial hierarchy and its adversaries.  What is clear from this account is that there is no singular omnipotent `imperial state' that unilaterally defines the international or even the imperial system.
  Even the most powerful imperial state has proven incapable of unilaterally (or with clients or imperial partners) defeating or even containing the popular anti-colonial resistance in Iraq or Afghanistan.  The major imperial political successes have occurred where the imperial states have been able to activate the military forces of semi-autonomous and client regimes, secure a regional (OAS, OAU and NATO) or UN cover to legitimate its conquests.  Collaborator elites from the client and semi-autonomous states are essential links to the maintenance and consolidation of the imperial system and in particular the US empire.  A specific case is the US', intervention and overthrow of the Somali Islamic regime.

The Case of Somalia: Black Masks - White Faces

The recent Ethiopian invasion of Somalia  (December 2006) and overthrow of the de-facto governing Islamic Courts Union (ICU)or Supreme Council of Islamic Courts and imposition of a self-styled `transitional government' of warlords is an excellent case study of the centrality of collaborator regimes in sustaining and expanding the US empire.

From 1991 with the overthrow of the government of Siad Barre until the middle of 2006, Somalia was ravaged by conflicts between feuding warlords based in clan-controlled fiefdoms (3).    During the US/UN invasion and temporary occupation of Mogadishu in the mid-1990's there were massacres of over 10,000 Somali civilians and the killing and wounding of a few dozen US/UN soldiers (4).  During the lawless 1990's small local groups, whose leaders later made up the ICU, began organizing community-based organizations against warlord depredations.  Based on its success in building community-based movements, which cut across tribal and clan allegiances; the ICU began to eject the corrupt warlords ending extortion payments imposed on businesses and households (5).  In June 2006 this loose coalition of Islamic clerics, jurists, workers, security forces and traders drove the most powerful warlords out of the capital, Mogadishu.  The ICU gained widespread support among a multitude of market venders and trades people.  In the total absence of anything resembling a government, the ICU began to provide security, the rule of law and protection of households and property against criminal predators (6).  An extensive network of social welfare centers and programs, health clinics, soup kitchens and primary schools, were set up serving large numbers of refugees, displaced peasants and the urban poor.  This enhanced popular support for the ICU.

After having driven the last of the warlords from Mogadishu and most of the countryside, the ICU established a de-facto government, which was recognized and welcomed by the great majority of Somalis and covered over 90% of the population  (7a).  All accounts, even those hostile to the ICU, pointed out that the Somali people welcomed the end of warlord rule and the establishment of law and order under the ICU.

The basis of the popular support for the Islam Courts during its short rule (from June to December 2006) rested on several factors.  The ICU was a relatively honest administration, which ended warlord corruption and extortion.  Personal safety and property were protected, ending arbitrary seizures and kidnappings by warlords and their armed thugs.  The ICU is a broad multi-tendency movement that includes moderates and radical Islamists, civilian politicians and armed fighters, liberals and populists, electoralists and authoritarians (7).  Most important, the Courts succeeded in unifying the country and creating some semblance of nationhood, overcoming clan fragmentation.  In the process of unifying the country, the Islamic Courts government re-affirmed Somali sovereignty and opposition to US imperialist intervention in the Middle East and particularly in the Horn of Africa via its Ethiopian client regime.

US Intervention:  The United Nations, Military Occupation, Warlords and Proxies

The recent history of US efforts to incorporate Somalia into its network of African client states began during the early 1990's under President Clinton (8).  While most commentators today rightly refer to Bush as an obsessive war-monger for his wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they forget that President Clinton, in his time, engaged in several overlapping and sequential acts of war in Somalia, Iraq, Sudan and Yugoslavia.  Clinton's military actions and the embargoes killed and maimed thousands of Somalis, resulted in 500,000 deaths among Iraqi children alone and caused thousands of civilian deaths and injuries in the Balkans.   Clinton ordered the destruction of Sudan's main pharmaceutical plant producing vital vaccines and drugs essential for both humans and their livestock leading to a critical shortage of these essential vaccines and treatments (9).  President Clinton dispatched thousands of US troops to Somalia to occupy the country under the guise of a `humanitarian mission' in 1994 (10).  Washington intervened to bolster its favored pliant war-lord against another, against the advice of the Italian commanders of the UN troops in Somalia.  Two-dozen US troops were killed in a botched assassination attempt and furious residents paraded their mutilated bodies in the streets of the Somali capital.  Washington sent helicopter gunships, which shelled heavily, populated areas of Mogadishu, killing and maiming thousands of civilians in retaliation.

The US was ultimately forced to withdraw its soldiers as Congressional and public opinion turned overwhelmingly against Clinton's messy little war.  The United Nations, which no longed needed to provide a cover for US intervention, also withdrew.  Clinton's policy turned toward securing one subset of client warlords against the others, a policy which continued under the Bush Administration.  The current `President' of the US puppet regime, dubbed the `Transitional Federal Government', is Abdullahi Yusuf.  He is a veteran warlord deeply involved in all of the corrupt and lawless depredations which characterized Somalia between 1991 to 2006 (12).   Yusuf had been President of the self-styled autonomous Puntland breakaway state in the 1990's.

Despite US and Ethiopian financial backing, Abdullahi Yusuf and his warlord associates were finally driven out of Mogadishu in June 2006 and out of the entire south central part of the country.  Yusuf was holed up and cornered in a single provincial town on the Ethiopian border and lacked any social basis of support even from most of the remaining warlord clans in the capital (13).  Some warlords had withdrawn their support of Yusuf and accepted the ICU's offers to disarm and integrate into Somali society underscoring the fact that Washington's discredited and isolated puppet was no longer a real political or military factor in Somalia.  Nevertheless, Washington secured a UN Security Council resolution recognizing the warlord's tiny enclave of Baidoa as the legitimate government.  This was despite the fact that the TFG's very existence depended on a contingent of several hundred Ethiopian mercenaries financed by the US.  As the ICU troops moved westward to oust Yusuf from his border outpost - comprising less than 5% of the country - the US increased its funding for the dictatorial regime of Meles Zenawi in Ethiopia to invade Somalia (14).

Despite the setbacks, scores of US military advisers prepared the Ethiopian mercenaries for a large-scale air and ground invasion of Somalia in order to re-impose their puppet-warlord Yusuf.  Meles Zenawi, the Ethiopian dictator, depends heavily on US military and police weaponry, loans and advisors to retain power for his ethnic `Tigrayan' based regime and to hold onto disputed Somali territory.  The Tigrayan ethnic group represents less than 10% of the Ethiopian multi-ethnic population.  Meles faced growing armed opposition form the Oromo and Ogandese liberation movements (15).   His regime was despised by the influential Amhara population in the capital for rigging the election in May 2005, for killing 200 student protesters in October 2006 and jailing tens of thousands (16).  Many military officials opposed him for engaging in a losing border war with Eritrea.   Meles, lacking popular backing, has become the US most loyal and subservient client in the region.  Embarrassingly parroting Washington's imperial `anti-terrorist' rhetoric for his attack on Somalia, Meles sent over 15,000 troops, hundreds of armored vehicles, dozens of helicopters and warplanes into Somalia (17).  Claiming that he was engaged in the `war against terrorism' Meles terrorized the people of Somalia with aerial bombardment and a scorched earth policy.  In the name of `national security' Meles sent his troops to the rescue of the encircled war lord and US puppet, Abdullahi Yusuf.

Washington co-coordinated its air and naval forces with the advance of the invading Ethiopian military juggernaut.  As the US advised-Ethiopian mercenaries advanced by land, the US air force bombed fleeing Somalis killing scores, supposedly in hunting `Al Queda; sympathizers (18).  According to reliable reports, which were confirmed later by US and Somali puppet sources, US and Somali military forces have failed to identify a single Al Queda leader after examining scores of dead and captured fighters and refugees (19).  Once again the pretext to invade Somalia used by Washington and its Ethiopian client - that the ICU was attacked because it sheltered Al Queda terrorists - was demonstrated to be false.  US naval forces illegally interdicted all ships off the coast of Somalia in pursuit of fleeing Somali leaders.  In Kenya, Washington directed its Nairobi client to capture and return Somalis crossing the border.  Under Washington's direction both the United Nations and the Organization of African `Unity' (sic) agreed to send an occupation army of `peace-keepers' to protect the Ethiopian imposed puppet Yusuf regime.

Given Meles precarious internal position, he could not afford to keep his occupying army of 15,000 mercenaries in Somalia for long (20).  Somali hatred for the Ethiopian occupiers surged from the first day they entered Mogadishu.  There were massive demonstrations on a daily basis and increasing incidents of armed resistance from the re-grouped ICU fighters, local militants and anti-Yusuf warlords (21).  The US directed Ethiopian occupation was followed in its wake by the return of the same warlords who had pillaged the country between 1991-2005 (22).

Most journalists, experts and independent observers recognize that without the presence of `outside' support - namely the presence of at least 10,000 US and EU financed African mercenaries (`peacekeepers') the Yusuf regime will collapse in a matter of days if not hours.  Washington counts on an informal coalition of African clients - a kind of `Association of Sub-Saharan Stooges' (ASS) - to repress the mass unrest of the Somali population and to prevent the return of the popular Islamic Courts.  The United Nations declared it would not send an occupation army until the `ASS' military contingents of the Organization of African Unity had `pacified the country (23).

The ASS, however willing their client rulers in offering mercenary troops to do the bidding of Washington, found it difficult to actually send troops.  Since it was transparently a `made-in-Washington' operation it was unpopular at home and likely to set ASS forces against growing Somali national resistance.  Even Uganda's Yoweri Musevent, Washington's subservient client, encountered resistance among his `loyal' rubber-stamp congress (24).  The rest of the ASS countries refused to move their troops, until the EU and US put the money up front and the Ethiopians secured the country for them.  Facing passive opposition from the great majority of Somalis and active militant resistance from the Courts, the Ethiopian dictator began to withdraw his mercenary troops.  Washington, recognizing that its Somali puppet, `President Yusuf', is totally isolated and discredited, sought to co-opt the most conservative among the Islamic Court leaders (25).  Yusuf, ever fearful of losing his fragile hold on power, refused to comply with Washington's tactic of splitting the ICU.

The Somali Invasion:  the Empire and its Networks

The Somali case illustrates the importance of client rulers, warlords, clans and other collaborators as the first line of defense of strategic geo-political positions for extending and defending the US empire.  The Somali experience underlines the importance of the intervention by regional and client rulers of neighboring states in defense of the empire.  Client regimes and collaborator elites greatly lower the political and economic cost of maintaining the outposts of empire.  This is especially the case given the overextension of US ground forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and in their impending confrontation with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Given the `over-extension' of the US ground forces, the empire relies on air and sea assaults combined with regional mercenary ground forces to oust an independent regime with popular backing.

Without the Ethiopian invasion, the puppet Somali warlord Abdullahi Yusuf would have been easily driven out of Somalia, the country unified and Washington would no longer control the coastal areas facing a major maritime oil transport route.  The loss of a Somali puppet regime would have deprived Washington of a coastal platform for threatening Sudan and Eritrea.

From a practical perspective however, Washington's strategic plans for control over the Horn of Africa are deeply flawed.  To secure maximum control over Somali, the White House chose to back a deeply detested veteran warlord with no social base in the country and dependent on discredited warring clans and criminal warlords.  Isolated and discredited puppet rulers are a fragile thread on which to construct strategic policies of regional intervention (military bases and advisory missions).  Secondly Washington chose to use a neighboring country (Ethiopia) hated by the entire Somali population  to prop up its Somali puppet.  Ethiopia had attacked Somali as late as 1979 over the independence of Ogadan, whose population is close to Somalis.  Washington relied on the invading army of a regime in Addis Ababa, which was facing increasing popular and national unrest and was clearly incapable of sustaining a prolonged occupation.  Finally, Washington counted on verbal assurances from the ASS regimes to promptly send troops to protect its re-installed client.  Client regimes always tell their imperial masters what they want to hear even if they are incapable of prompt and full compliance.  This is especially the case when clients fear internal opposition and prolonged costly overseas entanglements, which further discredit them.

The Somali experience demonstrates the gap between the empire's strategic projection of power and its actual capacity to realize its goals.  It also exemplifies how imperialists, impressed by the number of clients, their `paper' commitments and servile behavior, fail to recognize their strategic weakness in the face of popular national liberation movements.

US empire building efforts in the Horn of Africa, especially in Somalia, demonstrate that even with elite collaborators and client regimes, mercenary armies and ASS regional allies, the empire encounters great difficulty in containing or defeating popular national liberation movements.  The failure of the Clinton policy of intervention in Somalia between 1993-1994 demonstrated this.

The human and economic cost of prolonged military invasions with ground troops has repeatedly driven the US public to demand withdrawal (and even accept defeat) as was proven in Korea, Indochina and increasingly in Iraq.

Financial and diplomatic support, including UN Security Council decisions, and military advisory teams are not sufficient to establish stable client regimes.  The precariousness of the mercenary-imposed Yusuf warlord dictatorship demonstrates the limits of US sponsored UN fiats.

The Somali experience in failed empire-building reveals another even darker side of imperialism: A policy of `rule or ruin'.  The Clinton regime's failure to conquer Somalia was followed by a policy of playing off one brutal warlord against another, terrorizing the population, destroying the country and its economy until the ascent of the Islamic Courts Union.  The `rule or ruin' policy is currently in play in Iraq and Afghanistan and will come into force with the impending Israeli-backed US air and sea attack on Iran.

The origins of `rule or ruin' policies are rooted in the fact that conquests by imperial armies do not result in stable, legitimate and popular regimes.  Originating as products of imperial conquest, these client regimes are unstable and depend on foreign armies to sustain them.  Foreign occupation and the accompanying wars on nationalist movements provoke mass opposition.  Mass resistance results in imperial repression targeting entire populations and infrastructure.  The inability to establish a stable occupation and client regime leads inevitable to imperial rulers deciding to scorch the entire country with the after thought that a weak and destroyed adversary is a consolation for a lost imperial war.

Faced with the rise of Islamic and secular anti-imperialist movements and states in Africa and possessing numerous client regimes in North Africa and the ASS grouping, Washington is establishing a US military command for Africa.  The Africa Command will serve to tighten Washington's control over African military forces and expedite their dispatch to repress independence movements or to overthrow anti-imperialist regimes.  Given the expanded, highly competitive presence of Chinese traders, investors and aid programs, Washington is bolstering its reliable allies among the African client elites and generals (26).

-James Petras' latest book is The Power of Israel in the United States (Clarity Press: Atlanta).  His articles in English can be found at the website -  www.petras.lahaine.org  and in Spanish at -  www.rebellion.org.

Footnotes

  1. Petras, James and Morris Morley.  Empire or Republic (NY: Routledge, 1995); Petras, J. and M. Morley:  "The Role of the Imperial State" in US Hegemony Under Siege (London" Verso Books 1990).
  2. Petras, James and Morris Morley.  "The US imperial State" in James Petras et al Class State and Power in the Third World (Allanheld, Osmin: Montclair NJ, 1981).
  3. (3A) see Petras, James The Power of Israel in the United States (Clarity: Atlanta 2006)
  4. see Andrew England "Spectre of Rival Clans Returns to Mogadishu", Financial Times (London), ) December 29, 2006 p.3)
  5. Financial Times January 22, 2007 p.12.
  6. Financial Times December 29, 2006 p.3.
  7. William Church: "Somalia: CIA Blowback Weakens East Africa" Sudan Tribune Feb 2, 2007.
  8. (7A) The Transitional government was restricted to Baldoa, a small town and its survival depended on Addis Abbaba. Financial Times December 29, 2006 p.3
  9. Financial Times January 31, 2007 p.2.
  10. Stephan Shalom "Gravy Train: Feeding the Pentagon by Feeding Somalia" Z Magazine February 1993.
  11. Clinton claimed the pharmaceutical plant was producing biological and chemical weapons - a story which was refuted by scientific investigators.
  12. Shalom ibid.
  13. Mark Bowden Black Hawk Down (Signet: New York 2002)
  14. FT December 31, 2006 p.2
  15. FT January 5, 2007 p. 4
  16. William Church ibid.
15  "Somalia" Another War Made in the USA" interview with Mohamed Hassan (Michel.Collon@skynet.be)
16 ibid
  1. FT January 5, 2007 p.5; FT December 29, 2006 p. 3
  2. BBC News "US Somali Air Strikes `Kill Many'", January 9, 2007; aljazeera.net "US Launches Air Strikes on Somalia" January 9, 2007
  3. FT February 5, 2007 p.5 "...there has been no confirmation yet of targeted al-Queda suspects according to Meles Zenawi, Ethiopian Prime Minister."
  4. aljazeera.net January 23, 2007; BBC News "More Ethiopians to Quit Somalia" January 28, 2007.
  5. aljazeera.net December 29, 2006; aljazeera.net January 6, 2007; BBC News January 26, 2007; Aljazeere.net January 28, 2007, aljazeera.net February 11, 2007
  6. "Looting and shooting broke out as soon as the Islamic fighters left the crumbling capital as militias loyal to the local clans moved on to the streets." FT December 29, 2006
  7. BBC News January 25, 2007; BBC January 30, 2007; BBC January 5, 2007
  8. People's Daily Online "Ugandan Parliament halts bid to rush deployment of peacekeepers to Somalia".  February 2, 2007
25.Financial Times January 26, 2007 p.6
26.aljazeera.net  February 7, 2007


     


"I would pillow myself on the stream, for I'd like to cleanse my ears" - Sun Chu (218-293) Chinese recluse
by Ren on Thu Apr 19th, 2007 at 02:59:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lots of speculation on that one for the Iraq war and an upcoming invasion of Iran.

This subject is where I came in to ET in fact, having been the originator of the - now almost mythical - "Iran Oil Bourse" project.

There's been loads of discussion on ET re Oil pricing. I am sure my fellow ET'ers have the links....

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Thu Apr 19th, 2007 at 03:14:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Chris,

My hypothesis at this point is that general awareness would be the case with this sophisticated group, especially with the tie in to the Euro.  My experience has been mostly on U.S. message boards, where discussions using these rather rudimentary matters of globalization fall into a black hole.

And so, in this big picture of transformation I've hypothesized, rumors crop up from the ever churning conspiracy mill that the Bush regime, with its multinational corporate clique of elites, is attempting to bankrupt the US government. Just speculating, but if so, how would that tie in with this oil bourse transition to Euros?  Any thoughts?

"I would pillow myself on the stream, for I'd like to cleanse my ears" - Sun Chu (218-293) Chinese recluse

by Ren on Thu Apr 19th, 2007 at 04:00:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Petras - yet more proof that the biggest difference between the left and the right is that the manichean idiots on the left are marginal while the ones on the right are seven figure pundits or in senior governental positions.
by MarekNYC on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 04:59:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So you weren't involved, back in the 70s, in the deeply interesting and - indeed vital! - discussion of whether the Soviet Union was a degenerate worker's State or merely another manifestation of State Capitalism?

8->

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 05:09:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the 70's? For me that decade ranged from 'googoo, gaga' to building treehouses from materials appropriated from the construction sites of the class enemies.
by MarekNYC on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 07:24:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Googoo, gaga" pretty much summarizes the intellectual content of the aforementioned discussion.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 07:38:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A quick link to what's good and evil?:



"I would pillow myself on the stream, for I'd like to cleanse my ears" - Sun Chu (218-293) Chinese recluse

by Ren on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 08:59:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For thousands of years Society was decentralised but disconnected. It has become centralised but connected.

But the end-game, which has already begun, is that it will become decentralised but connected - in a process I call "Napsterisation".

I use this term because the uncontrollable nature of this "insurgency" in "enterprise" (ie legal and financial structure) was demonstrated by the fact that a 19 year old - in inventing the music file sharing system known as Napster - single-handedly and irreversibly disintermediated the centralised, hierarchical and bloated music industry.

This process of decentralisation and disintermediation is continuing rapidly "below the radar", and the enabling factor - which I have been working on these last few years - is the development of suitable legal protocols (analogous to a legal XML, but linking disparate jurisdictions instead of disparate hardware and software).

Such consensual partnership-based protocols (part of the "Semantic Web") will enable the total disintermediation of monetary and capital markets, and will give rise to the next generation of decentralised markets.

Note that this is happening now

www.zopa.com and www.opromark.com

are unscaleable pioneers which show the "peer to peer" financial future to come.

Note that the "Not for Loss" markets of the future will no longer involve "Profit and "Loss" as we know it - there can be neither profit nor loss within a partnership - but will involve the mutual creation and exchange of "Value" in all its forms.

These markets will be neither "Public" = State nor "Private" = proprietary but a new "Common" synthesis. The very concepts of "Property" and "Money" which are currently regarded as objects, will be recognised and imlemented as the relationships which they are in reality.

Once this happens - and it will occur very much faster than we expect, spreading "virally" - that bulwark of the Nation State - the legal concept of the State itself - will have been re-invented.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Apr 23rd, 2007 at 06:33:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting thoughts Chris, and they go in a direction that I find much hope in myself.  And thanks for some new links.

I remember Jeff Vail being on this board when I first joined over a year ago.  I don't know if you've had any discussions with him.  We first crossed paths on the Thom Hartmann message board over two years ago and had a long discussion there on features of his just published short book, A Theory of Power, which is available at that link in pdf.  In it he discusses a concept that I see related to the decentralization process that works against hierarchical command complexities, and it's process that's been characterized in the form of a kind of root/node perpetuation process that is incompatible with centralization of power, called "rhizome."  It's a structural concept, very much like "Napsterization."  It's structural basis for what makes the insurgency so difficult for a centralized hierarchical command process, like a military, to deal with.  As Joseph Taitner points out in his The Collapse of Complex Societies, complex society's that have collapsed generally just break down into the smaller self sufficient nodes that make them up.  The superstructure is what vanishes, because it can no longer be sustained.  Here's Jeff's website if you are interested.  I think he's working on some interesting ideas along the lines you've suggested.

I think what's going on right now is a very energy expensive effort to maintain a global market superstructure, and it's based on principles that are not sustainable.  A term for how the various hierarchies are working together to maintain this superstructure is "polyarchic" democratic governance.

The idea of partnership economies is also being introduced by Riane Eisler, who I was pleased to note joined this board recently.

"I would pillow myself on the stream, for I'd like to cleanse my ears" - Sun Chu (218-293) Chinese recluse

by Ren on Mon Apr 23rd, 2007 at 12:53:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Including terror and its uses, you mean.

Precisely. Terror and hate have a context. My research shows that underneath conventional classifications - religious versus secular, tribal versus industrial, right versus left, capitalist versus communist - are two underlying ways of structuring relations. They're actually two opposite poles, with a continuum in between. At one end of this continuum is the dominator society. Dominator societies have existed throughout history and have the same basic plan, whether it's Attila's Huns, Hitler's Germany or the Taliban's Afghanistan. These societies consist of rigid top-down rankings, of "superiors" over "inferiors," men over women, adults over children, "in-groups" over "out-groups" - rankings backed up by force and the threat of force in homes, in society, and between societies in chronic wars. Terror is built into the dominator system, and these bombings are the latest manifestation of that fact. Muslim fundamentalists are extremely dominator, in a bizarrely feudal way. It's as if they have one foot in the Middle Ages and another in our postmodern world with its powerful technologies of communication and destruction.


...
Do they think bin Laden cares if any Christian God is worshipped?

You see how the dominator mindset works. What they call the cure, I call a central problem - I, and every person who truly values freedom and democracy.

...
We were talking about the feudal family and terrorism.

Yes. Because in rigid dominator families, whether in the Muslim world or elsewhere, you learn from childhood that it's okay to impose your will by force on those weaker than you - women and children - that it's your God-given right to do so. And you learn never to express your anger or resentment against those who cause you pain, for fear of more pain. So you have a lot of stored rage that can be redirected toward "out-groups," in pogroms and lynchings and "holy wars."


...
But you can't think that family is the only factor here. You're no Freudian.

No, of course not. The family and society are profoundly interconnected. A mark of where a nation is on the dominator/partnership scale is how it treats women and children. Even if your family is less authoritarian, in a Muslim fundamentalist context, you still live in a culture where, for example, women get acid thrown in their face because they aren't wearing a burka, or get killed by members of their own family because they exhibit sexual independence. You live in a culture that worships strong-arm rule and male violence.


...
I've never heard this argument before. There are real grievances about oil, territory and multinational corporations, but you think the hate and violence mask another agenda.

I do. Where dictators or repressive mullahs rule, they cultivate hatred of the U.S., and the West in general, for two reasons. One is fear of our cultural influence - freedom for women, the undermining of traditional authority, and Western democracy, as imperfect as it is. They see the threat this poses to their domination, and to a system based on rigid rankings. The other reason is that fanning hatred against the West deflects anger and rebellion from themselves. That keeps the people from turning against the elites, who benefit enormously from their ties to the West, while few if any of these benefits go to the average Arab.


...
So what's your solution to terrorism? How do we fight it?

There's a short-term strategy and a long-term strategy - and they have to be simultaneous. In the short term, I'm afraid that military response against terrorist bases in nations that fund and support terrorism is necessary.


...
You've shocked me. The New Age community, the Dalai Lama, are calling for peace and love. I associate you with them philosophically.

The pure "peace and love" response is the flip side of the "kill and hate" response. Neither is realistic, and both ignore the psychosocial dynamics of terrorism we've been talking about. Unfortunately, failure to respond will encourage more terrorism. In the dominator mind, there are only those who dominate and those who are dominated. Nonviolence is equated with women, with what's despised, what's controlled and is legitimately, and easily, terrorized into submission.


...
But violence only breeds violence, you said it yourself.

If you've got a psychopath lunging at you with a knife, that's not the time to talk about peace and love. It's the time to defend yourself to save your life. The time to talk about peace and love, and to put them into action, is before that person becomes a psychopath. If we're to effectively address the festering problems that breed terrorism, we have to deal with the foundations of violence. We have to think of the long term. Any war on terrorism is doomed to fail, just like the war on drugs, unless we address the deepest historical, cultural, social, economic, political and psychic forces that produce terrorism. This is urgent in our high-technology age.


The School for Violence

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford
by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Tue Apr 24th, 2007 at 03:18:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There was a recognition by the 1920's and 1930's that an advanced industrial economy was critically dependent on more markets and resources than could be found within the boundaries of a large sub-continental nation.

But, on the other hand, a global reach simple is not required ... there is room for multiple economic life spaces, each dominated by a core economy. And the scope for multiple economic life spaces also implies that its feasible for different economic life spaces to play the game of international economic relations by different rules.

In the 1930's, Europe was divided, with England and Germany as rivals for the role of core European economy, with England offsetting Germany's inside track following the railroadification of continental Europe with an incumbant inside track status of its own in the Indian subcontinent and Oceania.

The US was the best positioned in terms of Economic Life Space, with its rivaling Britain in influence in the Southern Cone after WWI giving it the closest to a complete life space of its own ... and looking to the western Pacific Rim to complete its economic life space.

And Japan was the most devoted to establishing its strategy explicitly in terms of carving out an economic life space, leading to the empire building enterprise on the Chinese mainland.

The question for today is, is the early 20th century situation of there certainly being room for 2 economic life spaces, and possibly being room for 3, still true today. And the answer, now as then, depends on the issue of technology ... but technology writ large, not as mere technique, but as the broad system of organizing the processes of providing material support for society.

For the US and EU, this may be determined to some large extent by decisions to invest, or not, in a retrofit of our technological base to make it fit for an age of expensive energy.

If the US were to shift from its current strategy of having and keeping it all, to the previous strategy of carving out an adequate Economic Life Space, something like the Americas with Southern and Central Africa would suffice.

If the US, however, wishes to ensure that it is not the focal point of one of the leading economic zones at the turn of the next century, there are few geopolitical actions better suited to ensure that fall from grace than spending its current resources in an effort to gain and maintain influence in areas lying between the EU and Japan/China.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 01:08:18 PM EST
I'm trying to understand how you are using "Economic Life Spaces" here.  Sounds like you are working out of Wallerstein's World Systems analysis.  Who, along with Gunder Frank, provided what I consider an attractively sophisticated analysis of the evolution and spread of world capitalism with the intertwining of differentiated global social relationships.  I could find ways to bring elements of that in, especially as a kind of explanation for what at this point appears to the fruitless efforts to make the Middle East democratic part of the neoliberal capitalist system.  That's what I see underlying the most recent argument behind the US reason's for being in Iraq and the Middle East, however genuine the stated intentions.

In terms of world systems, I've been approaching it now from an ecological model because it appears to me that a wide range of environmental problems are becoming more apparent.  In my last diary I brought up the notion of levels of succession with what ecologists identify as r-selected species for low succession eco-systems and k-selected species for high succession eco-systems.  But I'll leave that for other discussions.  

I want to focus on the following for now:

The question for today is, is the early 20th century situation of there certainly being room for 2 economic life spaces, and possibly being room for 3, still true today. And the answer, now as then, depends on the issue of technology ... but technology writ large, not as mere technique, but as the broad system of organizing the processes of providing material support for society.

I approach that question in terms of recognizing that energy as the primary ingredient to the technology issue, as the transformation of energy in an eco-system is the primary ingredient to life.  Most of the technology in the world has evolved in relation to fossil fuels.  When the energy sources in a given eco-system are few, that is one way of identifying a low succession eco-system, and one that is unlikely to be balanced and stable.  

Let me cast what I see in a slightly different context, but one that I believes comes to roughly the same conclusion as yours about the US and its current strategy when you concluded:

If the US, however, wishes to ensure that it is not the focal point of one of the leading economic zones at the turn of the next century, there are few geopolitical actions better suited to ensure that fall from grace than spending its current resources in an effort to gain and maintain influence in areas lying between the EU and Japan/China.

Indeed, the strategic ellipse.  And don't forget the now emerging and energy rich Russia.

I would say the global economic system right now is aimed at maximizing the technology involved with that low succession form of energy consumption.  I think whatever we want to consider about the notion of "economic life spaces" is predicated on recognizing that.  I would hazard a further suggestion and say that whether peak oil has already occurred, or whether it won't occur for a hundred years, the current neoliberal strategy of attempting to maximize a kind of democracy based on  neoliberal principles is headed for the same kinds of unstable adaptational constraints characteristic with all r-selected species eco-systems.  I would suggest that free market ideology may be more of a religion designed to overcome, in a fundamentalist way, questions raised to the eco-sanity of that economic philosophy, which in that sense "almost" puts it in the category of a religion.

"I would pillow myself on the stream, for I'd like to cleanse my ears" - Sun Chu (218-293) Chinese recluse

by Ren on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 05:04:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, and what religion do you subscribe to?
Peak oil?
r-selected?
Original sin?

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford
by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 05:56:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Note that if either peak oil or r-selection were to be part of an "almost religion" in that sense, they would be tenets, not the religion itself.

In fact, in the same sense that original sin is tenet in a (group of) religion(s), not the religion itself.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 12:57:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We can see that religions can easily start with a simple tenet but then it leads a life of itself-much as a political party is formed.

So I have seen enough ranting on Peak Oil that it soon expands to the collapse of the world and that only organic farming will save us. Just like rhizomes it spreads under the ground surface until it shows its heads in diverse areas of thought.

My original sin refers to many environmental groups that have an original sin either implied or indicated in their thought processes. Derrick Jensen seems to consider the first planting of seeds as the first sin.

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 01:11:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So I have seen enough ranting on Peak Oil that it soon expands to the collapse of the world and that only organic farming will save us. Just like rhizomes it spreads under the ground surface until it shows its heads in diverse areas of thought.

You can find ranting that goes off on the deep end on pretty much any subject you wish on the internet. That is more indicative of Sturgeon's law in the absence of editorial selection than anything else (and under Sturgeon's law, 90% of editing is also crap).

Its always a personal choice on the internet whether to stay in the serious side of the pool or whether to go out swimming with the crazies. I find that a lot on The Oil Drum ... a lot of very serious diaries have commentary threads that are very much Doomesday Is Coming ... if I don't have time to wade through that to the serious commentary, then I just read the article and skip the comments.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 03:16:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's the problem with presenting information without a suggested course of action.  

Anyone who can understand subtraction can grasp oil is finite (on this planet.)  There are hundreds of actions capable of being compiled into a wide range of Deal With It strategies any number of which would/could increase the odds for a 'soft landing.'  

That has the unfortunate drawback that the reader(s) has to do something.

Much easier, for the writer, to View With Alarm and, for the reader, to sit and obsess.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 03:35:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The point at issue is that when some people do bottom-up estimates of existing wells with production slowing down, and new oil supplies coming online, sometime around 2015 plus or minus ten years (and yes, that minus does go behind today) we are getting the point of maximum flow.

Once we reach that point, we can confidently expect User Cost of foregone capital gains from producing oil earlier rather than later to keep us on a downward supply track.

And our present techno-industrial regime is founded on cheap oil.

Many of the things to do about it require people to make choices they might not make if they thought that the peak was 50 years in the future.

So while we work on what to do about it (eg, Energise Europe here, Energize America on the Daily Kos), one of the things we have to do is to keep getting the word out as widely as possible.

And when they hear about it, there is a certain portion of the population that is going to use a very common algorithm to cope:

  • panic
  • run around
  • scream
  • calm down and find out if there's anything that can be done


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 04:01:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Many of the things to do about it require people to make choices they might not make if they thought that the peak was 50 years in the future.

No question education is a priority.

But.

The tendenz of human decision-making process is to overvalue anecdotal (e.g., personal experience) evidence, assume simplicity (e.g., only two unknowns in a mathematical description,) and to assume linearity.  Simply put, our ability to fool ourselves is well developed.  

Now couple this with a deep seated reluctance to change a previously successful coping-strategy.

Add a multi-million dollar propaganda and political influence buying campaign by the oil companies (among others) in favor of the status-quo.

Which results in a recipe for a majority to do nothing.  


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 04:41:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... viruses at work, and given enough people going on about, say, the climate crisis, and enough people pooh-poohing it, toss in enough freaky weather and the same oversimplification can switch from "nope, nothing going on" to "yup, we are definitely screwing with the weather".

We do need to find ways of sustainable financing reality propaganda mills to incessantly push back against vested interest propoganda mills, and that's something that I don't know about how to do.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 07:28:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's the problem with presenting information without a suggested course of action.  

Anyone who can understand subtraction can grasp oil is finite (on this planet.)  There are hundreds of actions capable of being compiled into a wide range of Deal With It strategies any number of which would/could increase the odds for a 'soft landing.'  

That has the unfortunate drawback that the reader(s) has to do something.

Much easier, for the writer, to View With Alarm and, for the reader, to sit and obsess.

Indeed. But as one who has been looking at the wide range of strategies, and trying to come up with some of my own, one thing comes to light for me, and that's that people can and do attempt strategies in view of the degree of awareness they develop of the features of a perceived potential for serious systemic crisis.  But quite often those variant experiments do not take root and thereby begin an actual revolutionary change that could involve that "soft landing" when there is a larger system in place, with an institutionalized ontology so powerful and predominant that it sucks back all the fledgling efforts to design an escape.

So it seems to me it is important to build some sort of open source understanding of the nature of what seems so systemically prevalent, that we are actually "it," no matter what we do.

It's inevitable this will be met with great resistance on many fronts.  It's difficult to predict or possibly even understand how attitudes change over time.  It's sometimes even impossible for those engaged in their system to know they have changed. I can cite anthropologists who were surprised to discover this after returning to the groups they've studied ten to twenty years later.  People will "remember" the past sometimes quite differently than the anthropologists do.

Right now I'm looking for metaphors from nature that can used as explanatory devices that in some way makes sense. It's not that far off from the age old use of mythology or religion to use structural devices to make sense of the world.  The difficulty is oftentimes people have problems seeing their highly technologically embedded existence as something that extends to the rest of nature, and therefore must inevitably operate under the same principles, even if we don't entirely understand them.  But some things can give us a hint, I'm hoping -- if indeed our adaptational techniques are setting us up for our demise.

Correlating r-selected species, with a social system that has the same characteristics, like rapid population expansion with inefficient use of resources, and so forth, with the neoliberal characteristics that are inherent in the globalization process, seemed like something that might make sense in a way that people can grasp it, and then maybe apply it like a principle to what they actually do.  

Lemmings, for instance, are an r-selected species genetically designed to expand and consume as rapidly as possible when the opportunity arises.  Do we want to have societies that have the same characteristics as Lemmings?  Maybe another question, once these cultural memes are so rooted in a complex global system, can we even change it? I'm asking those questions too.

Lemmings and all the related species in their tundra environment have a rapidly rising and falling population sine wave characteristic.  It looks very much like the upswing of human population since the infusion of cheap energy into the capitalist economic system.  Before that the population figures were relatively flat.  Do the math.  Lemmings die off when their energy source is over consumed.  It's not complicated.

"I would pillow myself on the stream, for I'd like to cleanse my ears" - Sun Chu (218-293) Chinese recluse

by Ren on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 04:32:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can you provide a quick definition of "r-selected species?"


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 04:45:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From r/K selection theory

In r/K selection theory, selective pressures are hypothesised to drive evolution in one of two stereotyped directions: r- or K-selection. These terms, r and K, are derived from standard ecological algebra, as illustrated in the simple Verhulst equation of population dynamics:

   

where r is the growth rate of the population (N), and K is its carrying capacity. Typically, r-selected species produce many offspring, each of which is comparatively less likely to survive to adulthood, whereas K-selected species invest more heavily in fewer offspring, each of which has a better chance of surviving to adulthood.

[edit] r/K selection and environmental stability

In unstable or unpredictable environments r-selection predominates, as the ability to reproduce quickly is crucial, and there is little advantage in adaptations that permit successful competition with other organisms (because the environment is likely to change again). Traits that are thought to be characteristic of r-selection include: high fecundity; small body size; short generation time; and the ability to disperse offspring widely. Organisms whose life history is subject to r-selection are often referred to as r-strategists or r-selected. Organisms with r-selected traits range from bacteria and diatoms, through insects and weeds, to various semelparous cephalopods and mammals, especially small rodents.

In stable or predictable environments K-selection predominates, as the ability to compete successfully for limited resources is crucial, and populations of K-selected organisms are typically very constant and close to the maximum that the environment can bear. Traits that are thought to be characteristic of K-selection include: large body size; long life span; and the production of fewer offspring that are nurtured. Organisms whose life history is subject to K-selection are often referred to as K-strategists or K-selected. Organisms with K-selected traits include large organisms such as elephants, humans, great apes, hippopotamuses, and whales.



"I would pillow myself on the stream, for I'd like to cleanse my ears" - Sun Chu (218-293) Chinese recluse
by Ren on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 05:48:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you.

I've spent some time playing with the Verhulst equation as a generator of Chaotic mappings.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 06:56:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Haven't we all?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 07:39:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Try mapping a generator with it if you want chaos.

"I would pillow myself on the stream, for I'd like to cleanse my ears" - Sun Chu (218-293) Chinese recluse
by Ren on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 11:32:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In reference to the population curve of r-selected and K-selected species:

(source)

"I would pillow myself on the stream, for I'd like to cleanse my ears" - Sun Chu (218-293) Chinese recluse

by Ren on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 05:53:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Excellent post.
Now take your graph on the right of K-selected and shrink down the x graph so that from 4 to 10 is only two hash marks between them and shrink the Y scale to just over 1000. And then see what the graph looks like. Which one best describes what Humans are going to do based on current demographic trends?

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford
by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 06:18:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... since the population bomb went off, more recently doubling periods have been lengthening ... however, if its looking more and more like a logistic with each passing decade, its still going to overshoot K.

That leaves us between two scenarios ... the optimistic one is a cresting of the wave, some erosion of K, and oscillation around the new K, the pessimistic one (eg, common TOD Doomesday) is a Club of Rome crash.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 07:35:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Speaking of mapping chaos, the unknowns are astronomical.  Some very hasty thoughts off the top of my head:

Without knowing the map of the residual curve from the catching up that likely will occur from the past decades of accelerated niche destruction, it will be difficult to determine the base steady state carrying capacity for humans that could determine at what point that optimistic K oscillation would occur.  

Many high succession eco systems (i.e. climax rain forests) have been reduced to low succession (corn fields, pastures for cattle, etc.) and the energy cost of maintaining low succession as steady state eco systems against the relentless onslaught of the forces of nature is high. Much of this low succession environment is the food base for the multiple failed successions of "green" revolutions occurring through the last Century.

Because of the nature of K-selected species, maintenance of high biomass in a high succession environment is both stable and involves no energy expenditure to keep it so.  That is not true of r-selected environments.  Humans have engineered r-selected to achieve mass biomass yield of essentially fragile r-selected species.  The technique to keep natural forces from defeating this strategy has been technologies like genetic engineering, chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and so forth.  Much of this is directly related to fossil fuels.

One word: Water.  Water is disappearing from the main aquifers in many areas. The steady state for water must be determined as well.  Irrigation itself is an energy related cost in many instances.

We have no idea of the possible effects genetically engineered crops, fish, and so forth may have on eco stability as well.  Effects from those can accumulate in unforeseeable and chaotic ways.

The full extent of global warming effects on the oceans and other environments are unknown.  Whether humans cause it or not is unknown.  That it is happening seems to be pretty well known.

"I would pillow myself on the stream, for I'd like to cleanse my ears" - Sun Chu (218-293) Chinese recluse

by Ren on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 12:07:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Without knowing the map of the residual curve from the catching up that likely will occur from the past decades of accelerated niche destruction, it will be difficult to determine the base steady state carrying capacity for humans that could determine at what point that optimistic K oscillation would occur.

I didn't say that we would hit it because we aimed to hit it. I find it far more likely that if we hit it, its because enough people realize we are overshooting, and institute measures to pull down on that growth logistic ...

... and we get lucky and its enough.

"All we can do" is all we can do, and since it seems like that we will overshoot in any event, all we can do is to try to reign the overshoot as much as possible, and hope that its enough.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 03:59:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As far as overshooting, that seems ridiculous.
We have never come close to overshooting.
But honestly one study says that we have enough resources for a trillion people on earth. And most demographics state we will reach a maximum of 9 billion.

So it looks like we have more than enough room for everyone quite easily.

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 04:31:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That depends on the ecosystem footprint per capita. Most estimates of current ecosystem footprint suggest that we are more than one earth shy of the resources required for everyone presently on earth to live at the footprint of an average American. Footprint analysis the includes energy obviously pushes the "number of earth's" multiple up.

We would obviously have a much smaller footprint if everyone had the ecosystem footprint of the average Indian, but its straightforward that Americans will not reduce their footprint from 108.95 hectares per capita to 4.83 hectares per capita without running into limits, while on the other hand many Indians are working hard to change their lifestyles in ways that increase their footprint.

This is the Ecological Footprint of Nations: 2005 Update (pdf) ... I presume that the analysis that finds the resources to support us in an ecologically sustainable way on an ecological footprint of under 0.1 hectare per person uses slightly different assumptions.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 08:18:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"All we can do" is all we can do, and since it seems like that we will overshoot in any event, all we can do is to try to reign the overshoot as much as possible, and hope that its enough.

Yeah, I agree.  I am asking myself, more than anyone else, if it's possible to actually do anything about the aiming.

"I would pillow myself on the stream, for I'd like to cleanse my ears" - Sun Chu (218-293) Chinese recluse

by Ren on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 05:30:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is why I think that USA liberals have to find direct control when there is none. Creating boogey men out of thin air, like PNAC, Trilateral commission or any other group that gets any funding from the government.
Many have no problem understanding that democracy is not direct control but over time it corrects itself. Bush will be out, congress changed hands...and the beat goes on.
But they can not see how a "market" can also correct itself. As economist say "incentives matter".

So as societies lessoned the output value of having children and created safety nets for old age (along with some technology), the number of children per child bearing age women dropped considerable. Most of the high income countries already have an unsustainable birth rate among women.

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 06:07:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Making children a financial liability was a fantastic idea. Who could have imagined in a non energy constrained environment that the population would drop as it has in western European countries?

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Mon Apr 23rd, 2007 at 02:02:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I think only so much of a good idea becomes a bad idea. I would like to see increased incentives for Western Europe, The USA and Japan to have more children now. If we were a species would environmentalist like the idea of so many females in a species to not have at least one offspring.

But by what you have pointed out, humans seem to have even lower growth rates than K-selected species even as more resources become available.

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Mon Apr 23rd, 2007 at 02:45:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... our ecological footprint is incredibly elastic. If we reduce our growth rate to -1%, and grow our footprint per capita at +3%, that's still a net increase of +2%.

And unlike biological inheritance, technological systems can be reproduced laterally.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Apr 23rd, 2007 at 12:21:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
True enough on elasticity. But why reduce our growth rate? We should be more concerned as in which direction it grows. If more of our growth is in non-resource depleting activities, can that be all bad.

This could really turn into a long thread. But just think of the information age. Where it takes nearly nothing to reproduce information to every man, woman, and child on this earth and almost instantaneously.

But we are first a biological creature and as such, shouldn't we be concerned about all lines of our species?

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Mon Apr 23rd, 2007 at 02:57:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But we are first a biological creature and as such, shouldn't we be concerned about all lines of our species?

I have no idea what this means. One the of benefits of investing in Sustainable Energy technologies, in developing urban systems that reduce miles required per transport task, in developing housing that are energy efficient by design, is that when these technologies are transferred laterally, the ecological footprint of economies that adopt them does not grow as fast.

We in the EU and US do not live in a way that is sustainable, full stop, and do not live in a way that could be feasibly replicated by the rest of the population of the planet. And at the same time, we ceaselessly propagandize for our lifestyle, on a global basis.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Apr 24th, 2007 at 12:37:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Correlating r-selected species, with a social system that has the same characteristics, like rapid population expansion with inefficient use of resources, and so forth, with the neoliberal characteristics that are inherent in the globalization process, seemed like something that might make sense in a way that people can grasp it, and then maybe apply it like a principle to what they actually do.  

You have never show how any social system that we presently have has the same characteristics as r-selected species! And I have read enough of your posts to say that. Inefficient based on your assessment not on the actual determinations of the market. How energy efficient are you?

You should have read enough of my posts to recognize that we are past copper production and many other minerals. Which is vastly different than ENERGY which can come from any source that is relatively efficient. It is only one input into any production (ie capital, human capital, labor, land, transportation...) Just like we have passed our peak labor force. But we don't hear much about that too much. The Japanese have really invested a lot into robots to replace human laborers in a multitude of 'human' tasks.

Lemmings, for instance, are an r-selected species genetically designed to expand and consume as rapidly as possible when the opportunity arises.  Do we want to have societies that have the same characteristics as Lemmings?  Maybe another question, once these cultural memes are so rooted in a complex global system, can we even change it? I'm asking those questions too.

Lemmings and all the related species in their tundra environment have a rapidly rising and falling population sine wave characteristic.  It looks very much like the upswing of human population since the infusion of cheap energy into the capitalist economic system.  Before that the population figures were relatively flat.  Do the math.  Lemmings die off when their energy source is over consumed.  It's not complicated.


 Birth rates are falling while energy output is constantly rising. Actually population rose for other reasons not related to "cheap oil".

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford
by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 05:50:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You have never show how any social system that we presently have has the same characteristics as r-selected species!

The N_n+1_ = N_n_(1 -k) Family, of equations are Chaotic under iteration.  This Family includes the Verhulst Logistic¹ equation used in ecology and the Interest Rate Calculation used in Present Value and Future Value calculations in Finance.

¹ The canonical examplar, hence the name: Logistic Equations


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 07:10:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I believe that new people could benefit from some instruction about using this board and diaries.
Maybe Ren, you could post a diary on HTML since you appear to be an HTML wiz?

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford
by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 07:45:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
New User Guide, though it does not specifically address scrollboxes. HTML Tricks: Scroll Box shows the raw html code for a scrollbox.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 10:30:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks so much for the two links.
That should help me enough to get started.

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford
by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 01:01:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, the World System and World-System theorists (and I am not about to get in the middle of a hyphen-fight between theorists in a field) are one source, as well as statistical research on trade block formation (eg, Okubu 2006 for evidence on bloc formation between Japan and its interwar colonies).

The idea of a some sort of Economic Life Space was an interwar concept in geopolitics, though its pre-WWII proponents in the US were soundly beaten after the US won WWII and set about trying to shape a liberal World Order ... an especially easy task given the popularity of the idea in the Nazi regime in Germany and military-authoritarian regime in Japan.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 10:19:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That wouldn't have been Henry A. Wallace and his crowd, would it? The one who feuded with Texan, Jesse Jones, a more powerful politician (despite Wallace's being the Vice President), over labor clauses in trade negotiations on treating South America workers fairly, lost, got booted by Roosevelt, and so we got Truman, the Atomic Bombings of Japan and the Cold War (all of which Wallace initially opposed)?  

"I would pillow myself on the stream, for I'd like to cleanse my ears" - Sun Chu (218-293) Chinese recluse
by Ren on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 10:56:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know ... it would be plausible, since he was from Iowa. As an argument in geopolitics it was more influential in Germany, and german thinking sometimes entered the US in the midwest rather than the east cost.

My notes and sources on this are in a binder in storage in Australia, and its been at least eight years since I looked at them, so I couldn't say no, but it doesn't ring a bell.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 12:52:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think I'm getting the picture; and I now doubt it had anything to do with Wallace.

"I would pillow myself on the stream, for I'd like to cleanse my ears" - Sun Chu (218-293) Chinese recluse
by Ren on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 01:57:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Greater integration between individual interests and factions within political economy along a continuum between greater subordination and greater participation.

And in a complex milieu, greater integration of the parts must take place, else control is los to those polities than can choose to integrate more deeply, and do so.

In the contemporary century, a choice is being battled over now, between greater centralization of control of information and therefore decisionmaking, even at great risk of losing the substance (even the forms) of free society. This is one position, I submit it's the American conservative vantage, and it has friends elsewhere, in places as putatively disparate from the United States as the Islamic Republic of Iran and the People's Republic of China. It is control in the name of economic growth and cultural chauvinism.

And it might yet prove to be a viable choice, coupled with global capitalism. Not a pleasant one for a new worldwide class of profession-servants and wage-slaves, but then again most of human history has pined for, rather than rejoiced in, freedom.

The alternative is a greater level of participation in the decisions of the political moment, of not greater supremacy to the body politics but accountability to same, with the individual person having some modicum of access and weight that, when swifly recognized and organized upon with similar opinions, is as swiftly heard and alternately rebuffed or rewarded, but that view is noted nevertheless.

It's not participatory democracy, as that enjoyed by some of the poleis of ancient Greece, but there is participation, and armed with the creativity and enterprise and enthusiastic involvement of the citizenry, it, too can create the wealth, the energy, and most of all the ideas to be a viable alternative to the backdoor totalitarianism that threatens to descend on many lands in this age that once thought itself rid of such tyranny.

Alas, no. The threat remains, the ambitions and justifications for it remain abundant.

Participation in the commonwealth, or Orchestration in the name of the common stockholder.

I think those are the choices awaiting the so-called developed countries of the world, and how those choices are resolved, one country at a time, will influence the fate of Europe's emerging unity, and whether that path continues as one of greater freedom....or a significant curtailment of same.

I think, though, in Europe the bias is toward greater freedom. For now.

We'll hear soon enough how bellwhether France rings.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 06:19:41 PM EST
Some interesting and a very densely complex representation of ideas in a brief space.  I'm trying to work out what you might mean by the following:

And in a complex milieu, greater integration of the parts must take place, else control is los to those polities than can choose to integrate more deeply, and do so.

In terms of "complex milieu" I'm thinking, "complex societies."  The historical trend for complex societies is towards a hierarchical differentiation of its elements, with increasing sophistication and specialization of the parts of society, which when integrated, become an entire system moving through time, adapting to the available resources.  The suggestion that a greater integration must take place or control is lost also makes sense, especially where the purpose of the whole has some sense of definition.  Neoliberal capitalism, for instance, has a set of definitions that become identifiable as a part of the economy of the whole, although many features of that economy are not necessarily given a conscious role, such as bearing of children, motherhood and all it entails, fatherhood and all it entails, etc.  Is all that what you are referring to?

Centralization is a feature of goal oriented complexity.  That feature in corporations or in a military organization is useful in managing the achievement of goals and coordinating the efforts of the specialized elements in a hierarchy of specialized levels of complexity.  The US government, for instance, has become increasingly complex since it first was instituted over two hundred years ago, and we have been witnessing a pressure for some time to move the control of the executive branch out of the checks and balances of and towards a more unitary executive control featured in a corporate model.

So that's a way I see it that relates to what you said here:

In the contemporary century, a choice is being battled over now, between greater centralization of control of information and therefore decisionmaking, even at great risk of losing the substance (even the forms) of free society. This is one position, I submit it's the American conservative vantage, and it has friends elsewhere, in places as putatively disparate from the United States as the Islamic Republic of Iran and the People's Republic of China. It is control in the name of economic growth and cultural chauvinism.

What I'd suggest is that institutionalized forms are in place already, and these are related to the nature of neoliberalism and its related form of democracy, which is not "participatory democracy," and the implicit nature of those forms as they are integrated into each persons behavior has a great deal to do with the form of the participation each individual can actually make in politics as well as all of life.  It's all interrelated.

What I've been paying attention to in the developed countries is a movement of transnational corporations engaging in the activities that once were the domain of states.  This involves a growing array of NGOs with specialized purposes that have professional negotiators who interface with nation states and corporations.  I was somewhat involved in a research capacity with environmental NGOs in the early nineties when NAFTA and GATT were being negotiated.

I'm not sure the idea of a centralized control as envisioned by a unilateral empire is what's involved.  I think it's more like a system of elites with a common set of principles.  Those being neoliberalism as it has emerged since approximately the Reagan era (thus the neo part, since it somewhat reflects the original liberalism, but is primarily focused now on the economic features).  Here are a couple of links that give a much more extensive discussion than I want to try here: A Primer on Neoliberalism and Neoliberalism: origins, theory, definition.  A brief summary of the characteristics are as follows:

 

   * The rule of the market -- freedom for capital, goods and services, where the market is self-regulating allowing the "trickle down" notion of wealth distribution. It also includes the deunionizing of labor forces and removals of any impediments to capital mobility, such as regulations. The freedom is from the state, or government.

    * Reducing public expenditure for social services, such as health and education, by the government

    * Deregulation, to allow market forces to act as a self-regulating mechanism

    * Privatization of public enterprise (things from water to even the internet)
    * Changing perceptions of public and community good to individualism and individual responsibility.

overlapping with:

    * Sustained economic growth is the way to human progress

    * Free markets without government "interference" would be the most efficient and socially optimal allocation of resources

    * Economic globalization would be beneficial to everyone

    * Privatization removes inefficiencies of public sector

    * Governments should mainly function to provide the infrastructure to advance the rule of law with respect to property rights and contracts.

What began to emerge with US foreign policy in the eighties, was a transitioning from CIA involved coups in developing nations to polyarchic elites with a masking of elections to look like democracy, and this was done under a program of "democracy promotion." The first NGO developed by Reagan with that purpose was the National Endowment for Democracy..  There are many more now.

What "freedom" means in all of this is a question I'd rather not tackle at the moment.  I'm trying to learn here at this site about French politics.  But if I were to associate freedom with politics, I'd go towards the participatory version of democracy, of which I find few examples.  

"I would pillow myself on the stream, for I'd like to cleanse my ears" - Sun Chu (218-293) Chinese recluse

by Ren on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 07:23:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If "Free markets without government "interference" would be the most efficient and socially optimal allocation of resources", what happens when such a circumstance is imposed on a world with too many people, too few resources, too few means of peaceful conflict resolutions, too little power to defend themselves from the arbitrary decisions of those who do have the power of life and death over others?

I suspect it's not a healthy set of circumstances...for those who are downsized out of sovereignty, freedom, property, power, dignity ...and existence.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 07:51:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
what happens when such a circumstance is imposed on a world with too many people, too few resources, too few means of peaceful conflict resolutions, too little power to defend themselves from the arbitrary decisions of those who do have the power of life and death over others?

I suspect it's not a healthy set of circumstances...for those who are downsized out of sovereignty, freedom, property, power, dignity ...and existence.

I don't see anything good coming of it either.  But I would say one way to look at the turmoil in the Middle East is to recognize that it's a rebellion against that neoliberal "world order" (remember those words?) being imposed. A decentralized insurgency by a people is the one contingency they cannot control.  But that doesn't mean the corporate forces will be rational about it.  Those forces have their implied logic that must be carried out as well.  Enter the recent emergence of transnational corporate military institutions as yet another strategy:

Private Military Companies (PMCs)

"I would pillow myself on the stream, for I'd like to cleanse my ears" - Sun Chu (218-293) Chinese recluse

by Ren on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 12:07:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you think that the situation is a revolt against the neoliberal "world order", then watch the movie Battle of Algiers.
I know you have a romanticism with any "Rebel" but you have seen enough of their globalization of hate to see otherwise. Like Hezbollah, Hamas, Al Quida et al.

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford
by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 01:41:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just to make it clear, Ronald, as I have elsewhere, for more than a year now.  I don't wish to communicate with you on this board either.  If you are excited about critiquing my ideas, that's fine. That's what these discussion communities are about. Just don't expect a response. You know why. We are not buddies, not pals.  I hope you understand this message:

Cyberstalking

Cyberstalking legislation

The first U.S. cyberstalking law went into effect in 1999 in California. Other states include prohibition against cyberstalking in their harassment or stalking legislation. In Florida, HB 479 was introduced in 2003 to ban cyberstalking. This was signed into law on October 2003.

The crap you published on your blog where you stole my words from the Hartmann board and stupidly linked to them, and did your amateurish psych evaluation?  Yes, I have that, complete with all the html codes.  Neither of my brothers appreciate the way you slandered our parents.

"I would pillow myself on the stream, for I'd like to cleanse my ears" - Sun Chu (218-293) Chinese recluse

by Ren on Tue Apr 24th, 2007 at 10:27:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
jesus Christ Ren...   Get over it.

Although it provides great material to my "some progressives are whiny" thread.  i have to consult the rules on tranfering source material TO Thoms.  We all know and understand the new rule of moving material out of Thom's.  

Stalking... LOL..  too bad all ther timestamps on the posts tell a different story. I certainly dont want people here to get a one sided opinion on this matter.  Ron's not much into be combative with you.  Luckly I no longer have that problem.  You can thank Miles.  

Personal Disclaimer: The information in my weblog is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.

by Loganthor on Tue Apr 24th, 2007 at 01:31:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hi Ren,
Nice to see you came out to play long enough to try and find people that have not heard your theories yet.  I'm sorry your STILL pissed But I really don't care about your feelings.  As I am sure you care very little about mine.  I am here to engage in a higher level of discussion then I have found on Thom's.  Although clearly you were registered first,  I see no post to indicate any activity until after I started posting here.   So who is Stalking Who?  If Stalking is your word of choice.  

I'm happy you have all my posts regarding you,  For I have all your post regarding me and Log.  You clearly were first to open the door on amateurish psychoanalyzing.  Which from a legal stand point would be very hard for you to prove any semblance of a case, Other than YOU started it.      

So Clearly I have evolved as a blogger since the "Great Purge",  You are still living in the past, brooding, complaining and hating.  So do what you want,  Go back to ignoring me while WE all discuss things around you like civilized Adults.  Or go away.  There are thousands of blogs in the internet world. And we could give you some advice on some good places also. Derrick Jensen has some stiff authoritarian controls. As for me,  I will continue to engage on topics I find interesting with little regard to who is doing the posting.

xpost Ren

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Tue Apr 24th, 2007 at 01:44:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that we'd rather the three of you found another venue for this unpleasantness. I have no intention of assigning blame, I'm simply going to start handing out low ratings to comments that continue the thread and I rather expect that others will do the same.

You're welcome to comment otherwise.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Apr 24th, 2007 at 01:52:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I concur.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Tue Apr 24th, 2007 at 02:31:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 I concur  

Me too,  My apologies.  

Anybody here from Geneva?  A little diplomatic conflict mediation peace conference could be beneficial.


Personal Disclaimer: The information in my weblog is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.

by Loganthor on Tue Apr 24th, 2007 at 02:43:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I apologize for this Colman, I haven't addressed either of these two for six months, and this is the last time for me.

"I would pillow myself on the stream, for I'd like to cleanse my ears" - Sun Chu (218-293) Chinese recluse
by Ren on Tue Apr 24th, 2007 at 03:07:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nice Orwellian try, but I'm not playing with you. You've been pushing and pushing and pushing for months  for a response so now here it is.

I've never been pissed. I would suggest that's a "narcissistic" projection on your part. Concerned, yes.  Concerned that I am dealing with a psycho.  Eventually it turned to disdain.  And now its gone to disgust.  There's no return from that I'm told.  Your above post indicates to me there's little chance of it, as I see no change in you.  

I have Sue watching you closely on the Hartmann Board now that you seem to be coming off your meds over there and getting ever more bold in violating the agreement/requirement to not address me.  It seems you are unwilling to live up to the agreement/requirement that you not address me there.  No, I don't have you on ignore there, I can't do that, I don't trust you.

What I actually have is full threads showing the beginnings of our conversations and their subsequent evolution.  Anyone who wants to take the trouble can trace the progression where I treated both of you with respect and you both played your Abbott and Costello "who's on first" routine trying to derail every thing I said.  Then it was you taking words out of context and twisting them. From there it was me saying, "I don't want to deal with you," and expressing that in as many ways as possible, which you are clearly relying on as evidence to support your Orwellian claim that I started it, like any school yard bully or abuser when the teacher or a parent catches them.  

There's nothing like that here, just me, wanting to be rid of you. And anyone can look at my comments, I haven't addressed you and haven't answered anything you've addressed to me until now.

Then it was me trying to figure out why you are so obsessed with me. Then it was the both of you getting banned, all as the board was trying to figure out rules to deal with a fourth generation troll like yourself and your now maybe third generation protege. As I said, it was not my intention, but it happened. I merely wanted to not have to bother with your tangled logic and your irrepressible urge to rewrite reality to suit you.    

Maybe it's a little out of your realm of Nietschian imagination, but I was alerted to this diary entry by someone I know here.  No, not Robert.  In the comments I found:

Organic intellectuals and U.S. policymakers... insist that polyarchy must go hand in hand with neoliberal global capitalism. If there is no free market capitalism there is no democracy. That in order to be democratic, one must be capitalist. And not any capitalist but neoliberal capitalism. Global Capitalism. And so normal society is capitalist society and any other vision is anti democratic heresy. Numerous State Department and other U.S. Government pronouncements declare explicitly that promoting democracy or promoting free market capitalism, or neoliberalism, are complementary, a singular process in U.S. foreign policy, now with the cliché, market democracy or pre market democracy. And indeed, central to U.S. polyarchy promotion is supporting those business groups, political and civic organizations in intervened countries that favor neoliberal reform, and capitalist globalization, and marginalizing those groups who oppose it.

It was something I had just transcribed on the Hartmann board, and there were lines left out where the dots are, precisely as I had left them out.  My immediate concern, knowing you to be the word thief that you are, was to let you know someone was here watching, just in case you might be inclined to more thievery.  So I finally posted a diary entry.

Anyone who has had my experience with you would understand what must have been a curious question to most people on this board in that opening diary of yours:

I am not sure about all the rules, so I wanted to know if anyone would be offended if I quoted anyone of the people that post here on another Forum/Blog/Board? (With appropriate attribution.) I look forward to learning much from you guys/gals here!

Needless to say they should be concerned.  Especially on your blog.  The Hartmann board came up with a special rule about that just for you.  These folks probably haven't thought of it since they seem to be functioning on the basis of mutual respect.

So let me explain what you don't seem to comprehend about mutual respect.  First it involves trust.  I don't trust you.  Second, it involves agreeing to respecting the desires of at least one not to engage in the abuse process.  For me that process occurs in me addressing you and having you address me.  Mutual respect in a self actuated democratic environment does not have to involve liking each other.  I explained all this to you over a year ago now, and I did it more than once. There is no "hypocrisy" in sticking to an agreement/requirement as I have for the past six months.

So that's as clear as I can make it.  Your existence on this board, another board, or the planet, is of no concern to me.  But if someone cannot meet my basic requirements for mutual respect, I don't care in the slightest what that person has to say. Without trust it's virtually meaningless. It's really very simple. You've made your feelings about me very clear, that's all it should take for you to stay away unless your intentions are to harass.  And that's how I read them.

"I would pillow myself on the stream, for I'd like to cleanse my ears" - Sun Chu (218-293) Chinese recluse

by Ren on Tue Apr 24th, 2007 at 03:01:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Guys, this is really too much.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 24th, 2007 at 03:40:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru, again I apologize.  This outburst was completely uncalled for.  

I'll probably stay off this board for now. I don't have much time.  You all are very decent and civil here, it's been refreshing, and I was drawn to post more than I intended from the comments I've been getting.  I don't really think I have anything to say most of you haven't already given plenty of thought to.

"I would pillow myself on the stream, for I'd like to cleanse my ears" - Sun Chu (218-293) Chinese recluse

by Ren on Tue Apr 24th, 2007 at 03:51:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Instead of the pessimism from the American left, what about another film of what the world may be:

Although the initial scenes are set in an anarchic, dystopian version of Los Angeles, circa 1996, most of the film is set in the year 2032, where San Angeles, California has become a peaceful, sanitized paradise. In the film, San Angeles has been created from the joining of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Diego and the surrounding metropolitan regions following a massive earthquake.
...
The film depicts a future society in which crime and violence are rare and seen as remnants of the 20th century.

Hints are dropped throughout the movie that the United States underwent a period of anarcho-capitalism before it was stabilized. In particular, Taco Bell is the only restaurant available, because it won the "Franchise Wars". (In the Australian and some European versions of the film, this was changed to Pizza Hut. In some television edits, the restaurant name was removed altogether.)

Several distinctive euphemisms and neologisms are used in the film: homicide is referred to as a "non-sanctioned life termination" and as "Murder Death Kill" or "MDK." Homicide has not happened in over 20 years, and has almost been forgotten. In addition, even the mildest profanity is a violation of the Verbal Morality Statute, and punishable by a fine of one half to one credit per violation, which is automatically deducted from a citizen's finances. The perpetrator is dispensed a ticket by a machine.

Physical contact was recognized as causing the spread of disease and is now seen as unusual. "Sex" is no longer a physical act for the same reasons, and even kissing is not condoned. Instead, 'Vir-Sex' is performed by using sex simulators worn on the participants' heads to replace physical intercourse. Procreation is done in a laboratory when granted a license. Demolition Man



Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford
by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Tue Apr 24th, 2007 at 02:24:17 AM EST
How can we know where the world is transforming to? Will glorious past experience of free growth ensure similar future performance?

I am afraid that Earthly existence rules are about to change for us. The era of not meeting limits of resources is getting over. Theoretically, we may argue that our r-selected growths will have to be replaced by k-selected sustainability. We may have rich imagination but little empirical experience of how that may happen. Entirely new selective pressures are coming - all existing social (and other) structures will be tested by them. Factors that seem critical for now may be very irrelevant during the transitional episode.

[Yes, I am back, from Thailand. But I shouldn't be very active here...]

by das monde on Tue Apr 24th, 2007 at 04:47:02 AM EST
Good to see you back.

I'm pleased to find others who can appreciate the nature and complexity of this problem. :-)  While we have plenty who wish us to stick our heads in the sand with them, I see no reason why we can't use our rich imaginations to look for ways to create some new "empirical" experiences in the direction of k-selected sustainability.  We do have some cultural models left, and some patterns of models to begin with.  I see no need to go back to chipping stones to minimize our ecological footprint.  One aspect of the problem is recognizing our own self imposed and broadly institutionalized constraints on change, and the ontology embedded in those.

"I would pillow myself on the stream, for I'd like to cleanse my ears" - Sun Chu (218-293) Chinese recluse

by Ren on Tue Apr 24th, 2007 at 10:54:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How can we know where the world is transforming to? Will glorious past experience of free growth ensure similar future performance?

Good questions. But don't we have an obligation to help those that are oppressed now?

How would you define it as "free growth" since in every action there is a trade off or opportunity cost associated with the action?

Shouldn't we want it better for our descendants?? That we need to develop a free and just society. That no matter how rigid we think our institutions are, under a free society, information is dispersed to provide the greatest and best solutions available. We need to worry more about those that do not have those freedoms.

Instead of "head in the sand" and fearful of everything-especially of those things we do not know about, I am looking forward to that "Undiscovered Country".

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Tue Apr 24th, 2007 at 12:48:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Who is really counting trade offs and opportunity costs? People are just following some behaviour - either their own habits and skills, or someone "more smart".

Regarding obligations: Isn't the prevailing theory now that you just have to mind your own buisiness, and some invisible hand will take care of well being of everyone. Who needs to have obligations?

I am not really sure what free and just society is. Aristocratic freedom for ones may mean slavery for others, even if voluntarily. Is freely growing power inequality a good thing? How well does the 21st century US media disperse information?

My point is not to scare with uncertainty - quite contrarily, we have to embrace it. That's why we have to consider possibilities that "undiscovered" solutions would involve provident management of resources anyway.

by das monde on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 01:33:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
das monde, lots of good points you made so not sure if I can do it justice in such a small post, but let me try.
Who is really counting trade offs and opportunity costs?

Every business that wants to stay in business for the long run. And every consumer that watches their budgets. One of my bosses use to own a energy consulting firm and talked about during the mid to late 80s they had a fairly easy task of convincing business to use their service. The return on investment was so high that they would pay for retrofitting buildings and get paid by the savings in consumption. It also helped that many corporations at the time had "Energy Managers".

People are just following some behaviour - either their own habits and skills, or someone "more smart".

That may be the case. Especially in Santa Barbara. I swear that half the new cars on the road are Hybrids. Nothing says that people can not learn from incentives and disincentives.

Regarding obligations: Isn't the prevailing theory now that you just have to mind your own business, and some invisible hand will take care of well being of everyone. Who needs to have obligations?

I guess I am trying to convey that if people are not free in a country then how can we all be completely free? I tend to favor negative freedoms but understand that without basic  freedoms of any kind that humans can not reach their full potential.

I am not really sure what free and just society is. Aristocratic freedom for ones may mean slavery for others, even if voluntarily. Is freely growing power inequality a good thing? How well does the 21st century US media disperse information?

Freedom House is a good place to start. I would say no on growing inequality. But I make a distinction between inequality of basic needs of life and that between peoples that have above average wealth compared to a world wide average. Like Gini Index.
I would say they do disperse the information really well. But if you want to know about specific issues, don't expect it to come hitting you on the head. There is a strong herd mentality with the media. Even here (ET) I thought I would have expected more media sources than I have run across.

Maybe I will list some of my media sources in another diary or find my post from another forum.

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 02:48:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you for willful response.

Just on two things:

Who is really counting trade offs and opportunity costs? .... Every business that wants to stay in business for the long run....

It is tricky to know what a buisiness really needs in the long run. It is easier to develop and follow compulsive habits or routines. Buisinesses and people count things that they know or can count, whether they are really essential to the long term or not. Nowadays, I notice no smarter accounting than following a fat bottom line - which is important at this particular time of (self-escalated) financial competition, but in the long term, a company of any size can bust. A fat bottom line may help to stop a critical fall with higher probability, but working just on it rather ignores actual risks than foresees them.

You say, many corporations used to have "energy managers". Are they not necessary for the long run now?

On the US media: it became clearly less diverse and more uniformly controlled in the last decade. Whether by herd behaviour or clever manipulation, the media is not doing its job, but playing "comfortable" selective games with  news. It is performing for certain elites, not for the whole public, and the performance is not so much information but public manipulation. In particular, the media is stealthily politicised: it does some canny things to appear "liberal" or "fair and balanced", but eventually it paints a very one-sided and unobjective political picture. The  moguls do not hide their preferences.

by das monde on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 04:27:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You say, many corporations used to have "energy managers". Are they not necessary for the long run now?

Well it is a matter of resource allocation. The cost to have another person to look at those issues did not seem to pay in the long run. If energy prices rise again then companies will have to rethink that strategy.

As far as the media I have more media and news outlets I read than any time ever before. In the 1970s it was like going to the library and searching through old musty tomes to find information. Now with a couple of clicks the whole world is there at my fingertips.

I can read Pravda and China Daily and then FT with some WSJ. LOL

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 01:33:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We in the EU and US do not live in a way that is sustainable, full stop, and do not live in a way that could be feasibly replicated by the rest of the population of the planet. And at the same time, we ceaselessly propagandise for our lifestyle, on a global basis.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Apr 24th, 2007 at 12:39:16 PM EST
Earlier Bruce, I was trying to point out so many women of child bearing age in the industrialized countries are not having enough children to be "sustainable". Some countries as the USA have high relative immigration rates to sustain the growth. But many in high income countries are not even having 1 child and thus loses lines of genetic code.

It can not be replicated at present output levels. But this seems to imply that these added people will not raise their level of output also. As a resource becomes scarcer and the relative price level raises then substitution and conversation kicks in. Can this happen overnight? No. But we can easily see the output levels rose significantly under the Asian miracles.

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Tue Apr 24th, 2007 at 01:09:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Since, we like to think about what a world of the future may look like. I thought I would bring in one of my favorite for making a point...

Tragedy of the Killing Fields

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Tue Apr 24th, 2007 at 04:30:30 PM EST


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