Archive for the 'empire' Category

Resource war in Congo and green capitalism

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

video_button_white_dred.gifThis is a “democracy now” clip on the current Congo’s resource war and its links to green and communication capitalism. To what extent the new green capitalist governance paradigm that is being taking shape these days will depend on war like these? And to what extent war like these are fundamental to reshape Africa’s role in the new global political economy?

the exitement of hope and fear: the naked emperor way

Friday, September 26th, 2008

video_button_white_dred.gifHere is Bush speech on Wednesday night (24 September) to get the $700 billion bail out in contrast with what he said on July 15 2008 when he said that everything was fine, that productivity was growing, that people are working (”not as good as we’d like but . . .”), etc. Two months ago he was exciting hope in the midst of panic. Now we have the excitement of fear in the midst of meltdown. Almost like at the time of September 11, we are hushed into accepting a massive cost in view of avoiding a greater one, the fall from middle class status (weather real or ideal). Here is the naked emperor: “the top economic experts warn that if not immediate action is taken” we’ll have “financial panic and distressing scenarios” . . .”more banks would fail including one in YOUR community. The sock market would drop even more, which would reduce the value of YOUR retirement account, the value of YOUR home could plummet, foreclosures would rise dramatically, and if you are a business or a farm YOU would find it harder and more expensive to get credit, more business would close their doors, and millions of americans could loose their jobs”

But you may think that this would not touch you, as you credit rating is fine . .ah ah, “even if you have good credit history it would be more difficult for YOU to get a loan you need to buy a car or send your children to college, and ultimately our country could experience a long and painful recession. Fellow citizens, WE must not let this happen.”

As a “long and painful recession” will happen anyway (many are predicting a min of 18 months recession which has already started) this call for action with the consequent bailing out of wall street with a blank check is obviously going to be defended in the future as “if we had not done that we would be experiencing a worst recession.” But the emperor IS naked in this moment of crisis. Part of the US ruling classes are stirring this towards creating a context for near future restructuring and cuts. The public purse will be burdened with debt over Iraq and the bailout and a furthering of privatisation of public services etc, will be on the agenda. And this agenda is fine with the democrats, who are ready to accept a deal with few cosmetic limits to executive pay. What is interesting is that it is the republicans, concerned that the bailout is a step towards “socialism”, that are dragging their feet (see this article in the International Herald Tribune). What’s stewing?

Enclosures, Oil and the Junta

Sunday, October 14th, 2007

This is a clip from the new film “total denial” interviewing villagers in Burma and documenting oil companies collusion with military junta. Yet another story of modern enclosures, and capital’s accumulation. Interesting exhange between Chevron’s attorney and Californian Judge. “Chevron is one of the largest foreign investors in Burma and is the only remaining major U.S. corporation with a significant presence there. In 2005, Chevron bought the company Unocal weeks after the latter settled a lawsuit accusing it of assisting the Burmese military junta in the torture, murder and rape of villagers during construction of a pipeline.” See Democracy Now

Rumsfeld leaves a trace on his way out

Monday, December 4th, 2006

rumsfeld-i-dont-see-a-civil-war2.jpgRead the text of a classified Nov. 6 memorandum that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld sent to the White House suggesting new strategic options in Iraq. The memorandum was sent one day before the midterm Congressional elections and two days before Mr. Rumsfeld resigned. These options reveal to us how they think. It will be interesting for us to see what of these will be adopted by the remaining two years of the current US administration and possibly future democratic administration. In any case, just pick these two option for illustrative purpose:

“Publicly announce a set of benchmarks agreed to by the Iraqi Government and the U.S. — political, economic and security goals — to chart a path ahead for the Iraqi government and Iraqi people (to get them moving) and for the U.S. public (to reassure them that progress can and is being made).”

Here the request is for a set of target/benchmarks against which military intervention in Iraq is measured and assessed. Measurement here has a function of double coupling: on hand hand to couple US political, economic and security goals to Iraqi Government and on the other to couple US military intervention in Iraq with domestic aspirations of the public (i.e. factroy of consent).

Another interesting point is the application of disciplinary processes to engineer “behavioural changes”.

¶Stop rewarding bad behavior, as was done in Fallujah when they pushed in reconstruction funds, and start rewarding good behavior. Put our reconstruction efforts in those parts of Iraq that are behaving, and invest and create havens of opportunity to reward them for their good behavior. As the old saying goes, “If you want more of something, reward it; if you want less of something, penalize it.” No more reconstruction assistance in areas where there is violence.

Here resources for reconstruction are not seen as tied to a general political goal which might bring benefit to the US in the future, but as a specific strategy of subjectification, of creation of subjects behaving in certain ways. Interestingly, this was the idea for the entire of Iraq, once they got in in the first place. When they invaded, the plan was indeed to make of the whole of Iraq a “havens of opportunity” to hold as a exemplary case of a fully neoliberal state in the hearth of the Middle East.

And what to say of this other piece, in which Rumsfeld advice to use some old Saddam Hussain methods to gain support in Iraq: “Provide money to key political and religious leaders (as Saddam Hussein did), to get them to help us get through this difficult period.” Wasn’t Goring who said that the methods of propaganda, corruption and denunciation of “anti-patriotism” were applicable to all systems of government?

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

chinese-toy-factory-worker.jpgHere is a news item I wanted to highlight some times ago, but it fell off my desk somewhere. It is about the debate in China about a new draft labour contract law that would grant new rights to Chinese workers. Although there would be very moderate reforms, they are strongly opposed by international investors, which have found an organised platform in the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai (representing over 1,300 corporations, including 150 Fortune 500 companies), The US-China Business Council represents 250 US companies doing business across all sectors in China, and the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China representing more than 860 members.) Read on the full report from Global Labour Strategies or the extract in Focus on Global South.

Democracy Now in Oaxaca, the autonomous zone!

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

oaxaca.jpgvideo_button_white_dred.gifAfter police murder of Indymedia activist Brad Will, Gustavo Esteva was interviewed on Democracy Now! — the independent US media — on the subject of people demanding, precisely, democracy now in Oaxaca. Click here to watch reports, interviews and analysis at the frontline, as well as memorials of Brad Will. Also, watch pictures of the latest clashes here and picture gallery of the social sityation in Oaxaca. A report with discussion of the origin of the conflict can be read here

The vanguard

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

video_button_white_dred.gifThis clip is from The Power of Nightmares, a BBC programme broadcasted in 2004 tracing the development of christian neocon and islamic jihadists. Here the argument is that the followers of Leo Strauss, the German born American philosopher who became the father of neocon thinking, acted like a marxist-leninist vanguard group. The clip has some Bible-Nintendo shots for Christian children and an hilarious “integrity music fitness” TV advertisement, that offers you to get fit while praying I suppose. Incidentally, the three parts film (a must-be-watched-available to download at also argues that the Islamic Jihadists have taken up the vanguard features recognisable in Marxism-Leninism. If you cannot see the video below, click here.

“National Security” and the “economy”

Thursday, October 12th, 2006

video_button_white_dred.gifWars are justified in terms of “national security”, and todays empire’s wars are, for good or bad, justified in the same terms. Critics generally tend to dismiss the national security argument, by pointing out, as in the case of Colin Powell’s infamous speech on WMD at the UN used to justify US and British attack on Iraq, that the threats to national security are often constructed, and indeed, they become more real as a result of imperial policies. In a sense, this is true. But in another sense, this is not taking the forces of Empire seriously enough. There is in fact a sense in which “national security” — as defined by capital’s empire — is threatened if new markets, new realms of market relations, are not created. The difficult thing is to articulate this broader sense of “national security” with the lies and constructions used to justify wars. (more…)

Nuclear Blues and the Production of Empire

Monday, October 9th, 2006

It is of today the news that North Korea says it performed its first nuclear test. Whether this is true or not, remains to be seen. What interests me here are two things tangentially linked to this story. One is the use of financial freezing as Empire’s instrument of bringing rebel governments into line. The other is the indication of how multilateral practices are necessary so as Empire can exercise its power. My working definition of empire is here — very generally — the production of a common terrain around which different nation states articulate and constitute their practices. (more…)

e pluribus unum: on a US motto

Thursday, June 22nd, 2006

Apparently the origin of the motto is a poem about a cheese, garlic and herb sauce recipee attirbuted to Virgil. The poem — roughly translated as “the salad” — actually helps me to understand what is good about the E Pluribus Unum motto when applied to a culinary process, and what is so sick about it when applied to a social process. Virgil was celebrating the melting together of the ingredients that gave rise to a proper cheese and garlic sauce ( . .I can relate to that!! in the end, the individual ingredients are gone, what is left is the souce . . . (more…)