Protecting capitalist sovereignty

“There is an ethical and logical consistency to interventionism: a moral common sense that, just as borders shouldn’t divide markets or capital, they shouldn’t protect repressors and illegitimate governments. The world should do something to stop barbarism. The rhetorical consistency of such common sense only amplifies the hypocrisy and double standards – not to mention the often disastrous consequences – of its application. Economic globalisation promised a prosperous, borderless world, even as its promoters signed a raft of treaties that freed capital but effectively criminalised (while forcing) labour mobility. Humanitarian interventionism justifies itself by a universal ideal morally superior to the concept of national sovereignty, but then picks its targets – Iraq, Libya, Yemen, and now Venezuela – according to criteria that have to do with something other than universalism.” —Greg Grandin, 2019, LRB February 8.

“Hull – who, according to his adviser Ernest Gruening, spoke a born and bred Tennessee gentry lisp, dropping g’s and wrestling with r’s – objected to the idea of Latin American sovereignty: ‘What am ah goin’ to do when chaos breaks out in one of those countries and armed bands go woamin’ awound, burnin’, pillagin’ and murdewin’ Amewicans?’ Gruening says Hull asked him. ‘How can I tell mah people that we cain’t intervene?’ ‘Mr Secretary,’ Gruening answered, ‘that usually happens after we have intervened…

(Hull announced to the Latin American leaders) that the United States would henceforth ‘shun and reject’ the ‘so-called right-of-conquest … The New Deal indeed would be an empty boast if it did not mean that.’”

“In its 1917 constitution, Mexico was the first country in the world to adopt the principle that absolute sovereignty over natural resources belongs to the state. Venezuelan policymakers had pushed for national control of its petroleum reserves since at least the 1930s. The United Nations accepted the legitimacy of resource sovereignty in 1962.”–Grandin

In the 1970s, some world leaders openly entertained the idea of repatriating what were called “excess profits,” to support the democratic distribution of sovereign agency. That got them assassinated by the US global police.

what’s happened to sovereignty:

“Luigi Einaudi, the US ambassador to the OAS, explicitly reclaimed for the United States the right to intervene in the affairs of another country because it considered the quality of its sovereignty unworthy of recognition. ‘Today, we are … living in historic times,’ he said, ‘a time when a great principle is spreading across the world like wildfire. That principle, as we all know, is the revolutionary idea that people, not governments, are sovereign.’”

But which people, Einaudi? Aye, there’s the silent rub at the black heart of all liberal abstraction. The capitalist state exclusively protects that sovereignty distributed globally by market power, with discretionary allowances for useful justice exceptions on the left tail of the distribution. The “New Constitutionalism” Stephen Gill and Isabella Bakker called it back in the 90s. The imperial JS Mill liberal state.

It’s time to talk about the maldistribution of sovereignty across people. That is the way that we will get back to recognizing what Latin Americans recognized: A democratic distribution of sovereign agency requires a state, embedded in a regional coalition, that can both protect citizenship and facilitate working-class (peasant/indigenous) internationalism.

The justice distinction has to be whether and to what extent border controls and citizenship rights turn immigrants into a disadvantaged underclass, or continue to provide them enabling, if graduating positive rights. We need to clarify, in the case of European countries, whether there is a distinction between the treatment of European migrants and semi-permanent immigrants. Like usual, there’s no appreciable analysis of this central distinction in Jacobin’s recent mystifying reporting on Denmark. Just an assumption that if we aren’t centering the justice of the exception (eg. capitalists, migrants, etc.), we are committing injustice. It takes a real conservative to believe that the justice of the average has to exclude the justice of the left-tail exception.

‘Hostile attitudes toward multiculturalism are presented as legitimate concerns (by the Danish Soc Dems): “you are not a bad person because you don’t want to see your country being fundamentally transformed.”’

Was this written for Jacobin by a Laclau-Mouffe Gramscian or by a moonlighting Davos PR staff member? No one could tell, and that’s a problem. Why reduce resistance to the absolutely-undeniable accretion of top-down transformation to nothing more than a “hostile attitude toward multiculturalism” unless you’re an already-co-opted part of a deep bullshit problem? There is something truly, deeply, madly wrong today with our 100% elite-position/interest understanding of internationalism strictly as cosmopolitanism.

Why is no one concerned about working class reproduction? Why are we directed to pour our charitable hearts like a blessing of syrup over capital reproduction via population disruption and mobilization? If the Danish government can figure out that Africa is biologically reproducing, then it can be pushed to figure out how to circulate wealth to solidaristically support working class reproduction in Africa.

Don’t tell me physical movement is the greatest freedom, Thomas Hobbes. I have never met an African immigrant would wouldn’t prefer to return to and live in Africa if non-elite social reproduction were not being essentially fucked with there by our governments, economists, militaries, and bosses. I meet way more African immigrants, and listen to them, than most other people. They don’t want our junky lives. They just want to be in the calmer eye of the storm. Founded on conservative European philosophy centering the justice of the exception, culturalist interpretations of state border politics magnify political symbolism, fail to contextualize politics, misidentify immigrants and migrant interests with capitalist interests, and misplace egaliberte solidarity.

Voting rights for non-residents is not a great achievement for democracy. A great achievement for democracy would be if residents had the right to vote, which they do not have in Canada. Democratic countries, like Sweden, protect voting rights for residents, not for expat capitalists.

Voting rights for non-residents is a great achievement for financial metropoles and Treasure Islands, global capitalism, or, technically speaking, Herrenvolk democracy, which is only democracy in the thin, dubious sense that property rights for slavers is “democracy,” and political patronage = “free speech.” This is what you would expect out of a liberal country, where the sine qua non is absolute private property right.

“The combination of exclusive union representation, mandatory agency fees, no-strike clauses and “management’s rights” (were) the foundation of (the peculiar and now dismissed) American labor laws…

“It reward(ed) the unions with a guaranteed right to exist and a reliable base of fee-paying membership. But it reward(ed) employers with the far more valuable guarantee of the right to direct the uninterrupted work of the enterprise while union leadership has to tamp down rank-and-file gripes and discord for the length of the contract.” –Shaun Richman. 2018. “If the Supreme Court rules against unions…” The Washington Post, March 1.

The US Constitution no longer applies in the areas in which 2/3 of the US population resides. –ACLU, “The Constitution in the 100-mile Border Zone.”

 

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