Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Oops, I forgot, there is one candidate who opposes the last of these two items, and that is, of course, Ron Paul. He is a contradictory candidate, one who supports economic and social policies that will intensify domestic and international conflict, while opposing the expansion of those institutions, such as the Federal Reserve, the US military and the police, required to regulate them. In any event, much like Ralph Nader in the past, his participation merely serves to legitimize the result in support of the military neoliberalism, as described by the Retort collective in their book, Afflicted Powers:
(1) all of the major party candidates, Obama included, advocate supply side economic solutions, despite the fact that unemployment and the resulting slack demand are the primary reasons for the country's economic stagnation;
(2) all of the major party candidates, Obama included, agree upon the need to curtail social welfare programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, for the purported purpose of debt reduction, even as the speculative activities of capitalists are further subsidized;
(3) all of the major party candidates, Obama included, support US military operations throughout the world in order to attain its objectives, with a special emphasis upon North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia;
(4) all of the major party candidates, Obama included, support increased surveillance, the purported war on drugs and the expansion of the US prison system, to the disproportionate detriment of young people of color.
Beyond the obvious example of Palestine, as noted by the author of this review of Afflicted Powers, Anustup Basu, it is within Afghanistan and Pakistan where we most clearly encounter this perverse global vision on display. Libya is apparently another example, as Qaddafi's greatest fault was not his brutality nor his kleptocracy, neither of which disqualifies him for inclusion within the American empire, but his lack of modernity. Modernity, it seems, or, at least, the aspiration to attain it, is a necessary precondition for the expansion of opportunities for capital accumulation.
Chapter three, on Permanent War and chapter four, on The Future of an Illusion qua the creation and high maintenance of the state of Israel, are elaborations on the themes of a ghostly afterimage of a Kantian modernity that is predicated neither on enfranchisement nor eternal peace, but on weak citizenship and perpetual conflict. The post Cold War global age of information seems to be a differential flow of affective images. The scenario is more of a diffuse ecology of visibilities and passions, in which the carnivalesque elations of miracle economies are interspersed with abject formalisms of laws and rights, or the paranoia of state of siege societies. But between the grand images of piety – that of Israel being a site of a permanent struggle of Biblical proportions, and the millennial picture of making the desert bloom – lies the inhuman imperative of financialising the globe. Indeed, the American state’s obsession with Israel can often not be explained in terms of military or financial strategy (or with crude theories of a Zionist take over of the corridors of power in Washington). It pertains more to the materiality of the images themselves. The small state of Israel serves as an enthralling metaphor for the imperial behemoth of the West precisely because within its body politic it has two disparate ideas yoked together with violence – it is an exemplar of a society in which total militarisation and spectacular modernity were fully compatible. It is also that which encapsulates within its profile the dual onto-theologies of being – the final, millennial achievement of McJerusalem. The shining Oasis awaiting to engulf the desert and make it bloom is thus an image that illuminates its obverse – the wilderness that lies beyond. The latter is a site for the exertion of the surplus energy produced relentlessly by the American military-industrial complex. This is precisely why under the auspices of what Retort calls military neo-liberalism, distinctions are always blurred between information and surveillance, between civic enterprises and military ones, between freedom and empire, between war and peace, between extending markets, and dropping bombs. The principal aspect of primitive accumulation pertains to the fact that, unlike the assiduous dreams of humanism, casting state-of-the-art tentacles of profit extraction in such a wilderness may not be accompanied by the organic creation of a modern pedagogy, civil society, democratic institutions, or public spheres.
Curiously, although Retort highlights Israel as the most perfected instance of this phenomenon, an exemplar of a society in which total militarisation and spectacular modernity were fully compatible, they could have easily selected Saudi Arabia as well. And, indeed, it has been the byplay between the US, Europe and Israel and the US, Europe and Saudi Arabia that has defined the relationship of capital with the peoples of the region. For purposes of the 2012 election, it is essential to understand that all of the major party candidates, again, with the peculiar exception of Ron Paul, want the US to more expressly organize itself in this manner.