Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
do you want to fight the accusation that all the world's conflicts in the last 217 years were the fault of the USA, which is not how I read the diary; or do you want to prove that most of the time the USA was a lesser meddler in foreign affairs than the Eurasian imperial powers?

For clarification, none of that was not the intended thesis of this Diary.  I was using something from ecology focusing on the study of species in eco system, then metaphorizing a type of species adapted to low levels of succession -- r-selected species -- to certain types of human devised societies that have economic and social organizations based on capital accumulation, with the requisite resource and energy consumption involved.  So I was looking at a gloval picture, yes, but trying to show how a certain type of aggressive social meme can be a powerful driving force in the world, and the two hundred years or so of rapid growth in global population just happens to concur with the discovery of ways of harvesting fossil fuels along with related technologies that capitalism found extremely beneficial to its inherent social and economic patterns.  

I feel from reading many of the diaries and comments in the year or so since I signed up for this board, I don't need to go into all the rationales for what those patterns entail.  I'm hoping I can make more diaries without having to go through all the rationales!  Though talking about them in the discussion is to be expected.

I have much more to say on this topic, but I'd like to just give a suggestion of my working hypothesis with this global view presented in this diary to suggest a perspective I find preferable.  Neoliberalism is the meme running through these r-selected societies I'm identifying.  If one is considering the potential for a future that can be more stable, borrowing from ecological studies, we find that r-selected species are not well adapted to stable environments.  In fact they tend to be disruptive.  But in the end, their innate adaptive strategy is usually the very ingredients of their own demise.  

I see a correlation from that observation to neoliberal economic strategies that require what we have seen of them on an accelerated level in the past two hundred years, disruption of ecosystems, the demise of speciation in a variety of niches, and the demise of fairly well stabilized k-selected societies at the same time, either through genocide or "structural adjustments" of various kind.  All this in concert with a dramatic exploitation of a nonrenewable energy resource, which at the same time becomes the heart of an increasingly monocultural globalization cultural ecosystem. And, one must always keep in mind energy is essential to life, and what we talk about occurring in ecosystems is various patterns of the all important energy transformation process.

As such, the U.S. would only be one variant of a kind of society.  However, it's my hypothesis that the U.S. happens to be one of the most dangerous social arrangements of its kind right now.  Kind of like a  cancer. I think that for many reasons, but politically, the US is working with what I consider to be an antique and increasingly crippled constitution that allows for the emergence of an elite, and the elite in this instance is created by accumulations of capital, and all the powerful controls those accumulations allow over various means of resource accumulation and transformation through modern technology.

As a small example of the mechanisms involved with how that is happening, I've been studying the increasing unification of the executive branch as a result of a  conservative judicial think tank started during the Reagan Administration, the Federalist Society, which has been developing a legal-based strategy known as the Unitary Executive Theory.  This theory unifies the entire bureaucracy of the U.S. and attempts to take away in the process much of the traditional checks and balances that were supposedly built into the tripartite government designed by the U.S. constitution, and coordinates it with an increasingly unilateralist orientation to foreign policy.  Dick Cheney and his group of lawyers in his staff have been doing everything to put this strategy on steroids during this administration, but the strategy itself has been taking root over the past twenty five years or so, and Clinton uses some of it well during his administration when he was facing a hostile Republican Congress.  I predict we will watch some of the same types of strategies until the end of the Bush Administration.  Not that I would credit Bush himself with any role in engineering it.

A group of scholars I've been following who mostly concern themselves with South America, and the U.S. involvement there, have refined a meaning of the term "polyarchy" which I find meaningful.  Very briefly, it describes a variation of what is passed off as "democracy," which is a decisionmaking that takes place by elected elites. I'm sure anyone here can figure out how that's working out. It relates, in important ways, to what I've identified and tracked as the "democracy promotion" strategies the U.S. has invoked since the early eighties, where polyarchic elites are put in place in key nation states where the globalized neoliberal system needs resources.  Perhaps a reference here up to those Ten Commandments of Globalization in my diary would make some sense. Since these elites all tend to have the same perspectives on globalization, this is handy for coordinating globalization processes, and the elites revolve through the doors of corporations, government bureaucracy, NGO negotiating entities, and the military.  It's all very rational.

The effort to replace Chavez is one recent and well publicized example.  They are still working on that one, to be sure.  But all of South America is undoubtedly giving them fits right now.

If no one is familiar with the work of Willim I. Robinson, I'd recommend the following:

Promoting Polyarchy: Globalization, US Intervention, and Hegemony


Book Description
Promoting Polyarchy is an exciting, detailed and controversial work on the apparent change in US foreign policy from supporting dictatorships to promoting "democratic" regimes. William I. Robinson argues that behind this facade, US policy upholds the undemocratic status quo of Third World countries. He addresses the theoretical and historical issues at stake, and uncovers a wealth of information from field work and hitherto unpublished government documents. Promoting Polyarchy is an essential book for anyone concerned with democracy, globalization and international affairs.

"This book represents an original, compelling and critical rethinking of the nature and form of United States foreign policy in the Third World 1980s and 1990s. Robinson has developed his own theoretical framework and synthesis drawn from comparative political sociology, political economy and political theory, one that takes its global inspiration from both world-systems and neo-Gramscian approaches to international relations. Robinson's theoretical strengths are combined with excellent empirical research... In his meticulous and detailed exposition of the nature, limits and contradictions of these cases, Robinson makes a fundamental contribution to our possibilities of understanding the contours of crucial aspects of North-South relations in this and the next century." Stephen Gill, York University, Toronto

"This book provides a sobering look at what it means to say the US is promoting democracy throughout the world. It is a good antidote to much academic pap." Immanuel Wallerstein, State University of New York

"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

"...Robinson offers much more than a political manifesto-the core of the book is a well-considered analysis of the role of U.S. foreign policy in constructing and maintaing the contemporary global ideological hegemony, exemplified by four fascinating case studies. Promoting Polyarchy is a worthy contribution to political sociology." Christopher Chase-Dunn, Contemporary Sociology

"This is a pathbreaking study of the changes in U.S. policy wrought by the `epochal shift' of globalization. The ground-breaking ideas put forth in this book are a counterpoint to the world systems school of Immanuel Wallerstein and more classical Marxsits and neo-Marxists who argue for the continued primacy of the nation-state." Roger Burbach, NACLA Report on the Americas

"William Robinson has written an extraordinarily important book. His work should be required reading for scholars and activists attempting to understand the contemporary direction of U.S. foreign policy....a rigorous, passionate, and historically informed critique of the barren and disempowering political structures that pass for democracy today." Science & Society

"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 13th, 2007 at 03:14:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The lack of an edit function in these comments is really frustrating.  

Correction in the first line, remove the "not":

"For clarification, none of that was not the intended thesis of this Diary."

For clarification, none of that was the intended thesis of this Diary.

"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 13th, 2007 at 03:18:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not sure I totally agree, but I do appreciate alternative views. - especially when well structured.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Apr 13th, 2007 at 03:34:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When you say you don't "totally agree" it sounds like some fits and some doesn't.  I'd be most interested in what doesn't for you.

"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 13th, 2007 at 05:27:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would agree that Synarchical tendencies have been present since the graeco-roman origins of W*estern society - which, though largely republican in tendency, produced a plethora of  majesty.

Well before the invention of capital, your average 'cradle of civilization' type of person (covering everybody from Icelanders to Afghanistanis), was in two minds about leadership and democracy. Both seemed good ideas - in  different circumstances. Leadership was important in times of social crisis, democracy was important in what I regard as the most equitable feat of society -which is slow improvement.

Slow improvement is what drives 'positive' societies ie "things are getting better each year" societies. Hope is a powerful tool.

But hope seems to have a multi-generational limit. ie "I will partially sacrifice my life for my children, but not my great-grandchildren - because it is all to unpredictable". The benefits of such an attitude are exmplified by a study of family companies in Europe (and, indeed, of political dynasties)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Apr 13th, 2007 at 06:53:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well before the invention of capital

Sorry to interrupt here, but curious as to when capital was invented? And who invented it?

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

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Fri Apr 13th, 2007 at 07:03:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How about Italy, de Medici, circa 1400?

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Apr 14th, 2007 at 05:15:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The roots of modern Capital appeared in Mediterranean Europe in the 12th century, as a way of financing long haul sea trade, where a financier would provide capital, in the form of ship and merchandise, in exchange of half the gains of the trip. The concept extended slowly to other forms of long range trade until about the 18th century.

Capital thus has its roots in trade, not industry ; and was a minor aspect of society until the 18th century. By then enriched traders started to invest in land surrounding their cities rather than keep their capital in trading ; and slowly land became considered capital.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2007 at 05:42:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks Sven, good connection with synarchism and the way these folks I refer to use polyarchy.  It's been awhile since I saw that term, so you forced me to do some recollecting.  Always a good thing for me.

I'm not sure if you are trying to put all societies into two general macro categories, or if you are possibly excluding from consideration those that might fall under a category of "people without history."  I'm not sure if I would see the notion of "improvement" being a factor in, say, the Kwakiutl of the Pacific Northwest Coast, as they were during their pre invasion and pre disruption period.  Some of that may have occurred in the form of small pox plagues spread across the continent through trade routes before Vancouver sailed in.  Archaeological evidence indicates they had a long, relatively stable, steady state relationship with their environment, and with their neighboring groups, each with a range of common technological adaptations, though with some different cultural manifestations.

I guess if I were to identify a major feature or in my speculative narrative, it would be the availability of an easily harvestable and relatively inexpensive abundance of energy.  I see it fueling a kind of accelerating momentum that is being managed in concert with a global effort to generate governments that are receptive to neoliberal economics.

I suspect the extreme "synarchistic" tendencies of this current U.S. administration, which is most idealistically embodied in the neocons, will give way, thanks to its monument to ineptitude, the debacle in the Middle East.  But the policies that drive it are, I'd say, non partisan.  The strategic thinker I picked for my diary is not a neocon, for example.  Just a very bright guy, well indoctrinated with the principles of neoliberalism. And he's in a critical place in the upper echelons of government to share in the planning.

"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 13th, 2007 at 08:54:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]