We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Two Cheers for the Nation State

Click here to access article by Frank Lee from OffGuardian.

Lee gives an excellent history of the transformation from early capitalist imperialism to what has occurred under the dominance of US capitalist leadership following WWII. He argues that the twin pillars of the US dominance are the US currency and NATO, the latter being the ultimate enforcer of US Empire policies. Those like Muammar Qaddafi or Saddam Hussein who have the nerve to establish an independent currency or who lack understanding of this first pillar always are crushed by the forces of NATO or a combination of its members--always of course to prevent "terrorism", "weapons of mass destruction", or for "humanitarian" reasons, etc.
This the new imperialism resembled a tiered structure. The hegemon – the US – was the undisputed leader at the top of the pyramid, next came western Europe and Japan and South Korea (both virtual semi-colonies of the US) and then the developing world. The exceptions to this were those states who were then outside of this system: The USSR and its east European satellites as well as China North Korea and in turn Indo-China and Cuba. However, during the post-Berlin Wall period, nearly all Eastern Europe, outside of Russia, has been absorbed into the US unipolar empire, becoming dual members (apart from Ukraine and Georgia) of both the EU and NATO.

The US rules this empire politically, economically, militarily and culturally.
(I am always startled when I watch foreign movies by the frequent appearance of American cultural items.)

But then in rest of the essay his analysis is filled with errors and omissions in his effort to argue for the return of national sovereignty, particularly the sovereignty of those nations that now are vassals states of the US Empire. 

There are two major factors that are missing in his analysis. The first is the importance of the third pillar supporting the Empire--the control of Western mass media to insure that the vast populations under the control of the US Empire are indoctrinated with news, information, and ideas that support its hegemony. Thus the last statement quoted above should read:
The US rules this empire politically, economically, militarily, [ideologically] and culturally.
(It is not sufficient to subsume the ideological factor under culture.)

The second major factor is the more egregious one: the absence of a class analysis. (This is puzzling because in the very first paragraph he refers to several classic socialists who saw class conflict as the core dynamic of capitalist nation-states.) This leads him into arguing for the return of sovereign nation-states, particularly the restoration of such nations that are presently under the control of the US Empire. And, he forgets that many of the old European capitalist states carved up the rest of world into their own colonial empires. He also overlooks the major fact that after WWII the US capitalist class took advantage of their nation's power to collect various capitalist elites in countries under their domination (Europe, Japan, and the residue of the British Empire) and formed what has since developed into a trans-national capitalist empire that is often accurately referred to as the US Empire. 

Nation-states were a creation of capitalists which replaced kingdoms in the system of feudalism in which monarchs and aristocrats comprised the ruling class. Assuming that humans have a future, once capitalism with its classes disappear from history, nation-states will also disappear into other formations controlled by and for all humans.