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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Culturalist Analysis of the Social: Immigration Politics through a Cultural-determinist Lens

RE: The Jacobin article on Danish immigration politics by cultural scholars:

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. (As well: Does the analysis and policy distinguish between sovereign European transmigration and the (semi-)permanent immigrants displaced from their home? It should.)

Like usual, there’s no appreciable analysis of this central distinction in the Jacobin article. 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 (structurally) has to exclude the justice of the left-tail exception.

‘Hostile attitudes toward multiculturalism are presented as legitimate concerns: “you are not a bad person because you don’t want to see your country being fundamentally transformed.”’ –Agustín & Jørgensen 2019

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

Why is no one on the left today concerned about working class reproduction besides feminists and ecologists? Adam Smith was already concerned about this central capitalist problem in 1776. Alexandra Kollontai laid the issue out masterfully in 1915. Why are we directed–by leftists–to pour our charitable hearts like a blessing of syrup over capitalist reproduction, this time via population disruption and mobilization? Are immigrants traumatized? Yes! So are the sobbing crime victims that cops parade into city councils when they’re lobbying for more Nightwatchman state budget. Yes, the treatment of immigrants is a crisis! No, that does not mean that we need to line up behind capitalist justice framing and policy.

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. How did continental Europe get rich in the 20th century? In large part, the second-order capitalist societies fought wars against the primary Anglo-American capitalist core until the US shared some of the wealth under the Marshall Plan. We know Anglo-America won’t do it without getting fire-bombed, but what if Europe circulated wealth without having to go war with Africa? And if Africa was brought into the core capitalist economy, that would significantly undermine biological reproduction incentives.

To stay relevant, Social Democrats should distinguish themselves from the Right by always including international grants and cross-borders working class organization and capacity-building with citizenship rights policies. (Though that would put them afoul of Anglo-American police states running down democracies to protect global capitalists.)

To stay relevant, Social Democrats should distinguish themselves from the Right by making an emphatic distinction between education for democratic development (educating for dispositions to exchange information, ideas, and grievances, remaking democracy anew, per Dewey 1916) and cheap, ugly symbolic theater victimizing immigrants (dumbshit handshake and head scarf politics and policies).

I have never met an African immigrant who wouldn’t prefer to return to and live in Africa if non-elite social reproduction were not being destroyed there by our governments, economists, militaries, and bosses. African migrants just want to be in the calmer eye of the storm. We are not doing anyone* working class any favors with the Open Border smallholder/worker physical-mobilization policy agenda, because it’s an easement attached to the agenda of a concentrated if rivalristic ownership of the whole world. Whether branded or de facto, Open Borders have accompanied the decimation of positive citizenship rights, and in capitalism, where Anglo-American states primarily protect the asset-backed citizenship of global capitalists, there are both structural and political reasons for that.

I can grant that, perhaps, there is some non-linear probability that (let’s face it) forcibly pushing smallholder and propertyless populations around, and killing off positive citizenship rights and the non-managerial labor aristocracy in core nationalist communities (All the better to expropriate/privatize their private and public assets, my dear!) could hypothetically accompany the restoration of working class internationalism–or rather, submission to cosmopolitanism, per cultural Pollyannaism–and even mystically produce a socially-rational revolution. But why is it that concrete internationalism is never the Open Borders advocates’ focus? Are they playing some kind of 16th-dimension chess? Or do they not know what game they are playing into? Or are they already-coopted tools? My money is on international Democrat Party policy coordination and consulting. The Dem Party strategy model is that while today, the nearly-rightsless but plucky funnel of immigrant population will toil in shit jobs, providing labor for a competitive small business economy and cheap consumer services to otherwise-redundant native workers, tomorrow the nearly-rightsless but plucky diverse population of smallholders and their hyper-exploited workers will prioritize immigrant identity and physical-mobility freedom, loyally voting for the immigration-positive liberal parties that chiefly manage the polity and imperial warfare for global monopoly finance, tech, and supporting capitalist interests.

Founded on conservative European philosophy centering the justice of the exception (tho wrapped in a Gramsci martyr flag), culturalist interpretations of state border politics magnify political symbolism, fail to contextualize politics, fail to distinguish conservative, liberal and egaliberte fundamentals, misidentify immigrants and migrant interests with capitalist interests, occlude internationalism behind cosmopolitanism, lean heavily on manipulative moralism, and misplace egaliberte solidarity.

* Note: Though it was disruptive of Mexican workers’ home communities, the American business class and its state were arguably doing Mexican migrants a solid to push and pull them into returning to California, which was part of their own society’s territory. On the other hand, it was not much of a favor to send them to work as slaves in Texan prisons.

 


Video from Davos, at The Guardian. And a theme song for Davos from Jarvis Cocker.

Observers and interests frrom JJ Rousseau to Adam Smith (1776) to Thomas Dewey (1915) to the socialist feminists to policymakers to commercial advertisers have noticed that newcomers, whether youth or immigrants, remake a society. As Dewey pointed out, how we incorporate newcomers determines whether we can even create or sustain substantial democracy.
Recognizing that democracy requires newcomer socialization into dispositions for democratic development, for example, the US and other liberal Anglo countries have long stipulated political conditions on migration, including prohibiting anticapitalist immigration. The US heavily subsidized casino-capitalist Cubans, including mafia, influentially remaking American politics, helping steer the US in the 20th century back to a more properly Anglo JS Mill version of liberalism allowing the US state to prioritize protection of the private property and negative rights of a global cosmopolitan citizenry.
“Nearly a billion dollars (of taxpayper money) was made available under the (US’s) Cuban Refugee Program to the first generation of Cuban immigrants. This was done in order to demonstrate the superiority of the capitalist system amidst the tremendous ideological offensive mounted by Moscow under the Khrushchev Administration.”
While Undesirable Cuban immigrants were incarcerated in Gitmo, “Cubans arriving in the United States have enjoyed unique and virtually unlimited rights to immediate or rapid residency, Green Card work permits, and a broad package of benefits, regardless of their legal status.” The Border has always been Open. Open Borders is not the issue for radical democrats.
(From Richard Dello Buono’s review of Eckstein’s Dem Party-sponsored “The Immigrant Divide: How Cuban-Americans Changed the US and Their Homeland,” where Eckstein forwards the Dem Party argument for recolonizing Cuba to a “moderate” Cuban-American audience).

The degrading dialectic of liberal toleration and conservative barbarity

“(Competitive) Games hold a special valence for Scalia; they are the space where inequality rules…(After modernism) the watermarks of privilege and privation are no longer visible to the naked eye; they must be identified, again and again, through struggle and contest. Hence the appeal of the game (which) offers the perfect marriage of the feudal and the fallible, the unequal and the unsettled” (Robin 2011: 140-141).

“‘To say that something is ‘essential,’ he writes, ‘is ordinarily to say that it is necessary to the achievement of a certain object.’ But games ‘have no object except amusement.’ Lacking an object, they have no essence. It’s thus impossible to say whether a rule is essential ‘All are arbitrary,’ he writes of the rules, ‘none is essential.’ What makes a rule a rule is either tradition or ‘in more modern times,’ the edict of an authoritative body like the PGA …”the twin poles of Scalia’s faith: a belief in rules as arbitrary impositions of power–reflecting nothing (not even the will or standing of their makers) but the flat surface of their locutionary meaning–to which we must nevertheless submit; and a belief in rules, zealously enforced, as the divining rod of our ineradicable inequality. Those who make it past these blank and barren gods are winners; everyone else is a loser” (Robin 2011: 142-143).

This is not just Scalia’s theory of rules, but the general conservative idealist theory of truth.

The sources of Scalia’s outsized influence:

1) Scalia’s self-confidence when professionally tolerated by liberal peers.

2) “he tells the power elite exactly what they want to hear: that they are superior and that they have a seat at the table because they are superior.”

3) Scalia reflects the spirit of the age.

4) “Scalia’s outsized presence in our Constitutional firmament” is enabled by “the patience and forbearance, the general decency and good manners, his liberal colleagues show him. While he rants and raves, smashing guitars and dive-bombing his enemies, they tend to respond with an indulgent shrug, a ‘that’s just Nino,’ as O’Connor was wont to say…Scalia preys on and profits from the very culture of liberalism he claims to abhor: the toleration of opposing views, the generous allowances for other people’s failings, the ‘benevolent compassion’ he derides in his golf course dissent…The conservatism of duresse oblige  depends upon the liberalism of noblesse oblige” (Robin 2011: 146-147).

From “Affirmative Action Baby,” in Robin, Corey. The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin.

Another very recent example of conservative manipulation of liberal toleration for conservatism:

The British right cops to the conservative marketing ploy: “I’ve argued at the top levels of government, ‘Scrap the minimum wage.’ But then there’s a sharp intake of breath. Anything that looks like a return to the Dickensian workhouse raises hackles.

But I don’t want people working in sweatshops at 5p an hour. You should sell abolishing the minimum wage in positive terms, as providing young people with a first step on the jobs ladder, as a ‘jobs for all’ scheme.”

The uneven, degrading dialectic of liberal nicety and conservative barbarity both supports and over time erodes liberalism, which cannot say no to conservatism and its authoritarianism.

For contrast, see egaliberte, which distinguishes/discriminates and refuses, as illustrated in Janteloven (and its application in the Anders Breivik/Fjotolf Hansen case) and Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener.

It is also not to be overlooked that the liberal consensus has rarely bestowed socialism with the same indulgent tolerance it graces on conservatism. 2 cases in point: 1) In the Nordic social democracies, liberalism and socialism were in coalition, from the end of the 19th century to the early 1970s. Even there, the social democrats persecuted communists. 2) As well, the post-1956 Latin American socialist Left struggled to build a liberal-socialist alliance (see Greg Grandin’s history of Guatemala and Latin America).

Both cases are rare examples of lib-left coalition, largely shepherded by a conciliatory and pragmatic Left, and both coalitions were assailed by liberals (internationally, or in the case of Sweden, eventually domestically) who preferred to retreat into conservative barbarity–eg. the US consensus, which was wholly vicious against the 20th-21st century Latin American Enlightenment, pressing the coach drivers’ whip into conservative hands. Where Sweden, in the early 1970s, reached the endpoint of the liberal-socialist partnership–what to do with the excess profits: let capitalists keep them or socialize them?–again liberals forsook socialism and, in embracing capitalist rule, beat back a less-than-measured retreat into the arms of conservatism, recently resulting in the contradictory reification–via vilification/victimology– of immigrants, and the consequent state-sponsored gagging and shackling of labour.

I should think that liberals are not so much the avatars of toleration, as they prefer to self-proclaim, as people who are capable of recognizing a shared genealogy with the Right, as in, for example, the convergence of liberal absolute private property right with the conservative Might-Makes-Right principle. Considering that, perhaps Leftists ought to contain our celebrations of abstract toleration, and more closely attend to the contours and trajectories, the specification of tolerations. Both liberals and parts of the Left have been so proud to claim that fresh tolerations can change the course of human interests and history, if not transcend discrimination outright. Yet even “fresh” forms of toleration must always be partial politics and subject to instrumental manipulation. A cosmopolitan, multicultural embrace of immigration tends to translate directly, efficiently into the policy implementation and cultural affirmation of immigrant labour vulnerability, for example. To develop egaliberte out of a world of tyranny, we need to develop Jantelagen–boundaries on the Genius Boy–as well as the capitalist critique of Jantelagen. In capitalism, we just Let Boys Be Boys.

The (Leftist) point would then be to choose and to fight for a specified range of toleration that facilitates widespread freedoms, rather than, in social context, confers freedom upon a ‘chosen’ elite. We would foremost recognize the necessity of Left collectives within which we may sense and think together to choose key battles and strategies.  We could learn a lot from multivocal, rigorous historical research, rather than fanciful,  more-or-less authoritative narratives.

No War on Venezuela

I don’t want the fucking US to go to war on Venezuela, just because it’s a social democracy with oil. Fuck.

Or Iran, for no reason other than it’d reduce the threat of competition for Israel. (And OK, maybe we could take their oil. And box in China. But at a crazy, escalating price.)

Here’s what Americans think of going to war against Iran on behalf of Israel.

Just…fuck.

Whatever. Just go to fucking war on everyfuckinghaplessbody. Then implode because it’s just not fucking fiscally sane. Or sane in any conceivable sense of the word. “Constrained rationality” (AKA irrationality), maybe; sane? Fuck no. Fucking unrestrained fucking headless war machine. I hate Anglo-American elites so fucking much. I just wish they would all choke on their cocktail olives and die off en masse.

 I’ve been reading Sweezy & Magdoff (Sweezy, Paul M. and Harry Magdoff. 2009 (1972). “Economic history as it happened, V. I: The dynamics of US capitalism: Corporate structure, inflation, credit, gold, and the dollar.” New York: Monthly Review Press).

  • The US starts out toward militarization because military expenditures smooth out capital goods business cycle downturns.
  • The US becomes utterly militaristic because semi-stagnant capitalism, such as in the modern US, increases population, productivity, and unemployment, while decreasing productive investment. Militarization serves as the crutch to advanced capitalism’s endemic economic stagnancy.
  • So to maintain capitalism (accumulated power), the US has to wage war. Obviously, anticapitalists made a rational enemy in the past. But without them, the delicate questions are On Whom? and On How Many States and Stateless Peoples Simultaneously?

Old Cold Warriors Don’t Die, They Just Become Pro-Tyranny Communications Professionals

And you thought, hoped, dreamed the Cold War was over. Well, not on the New York Times’ watch, baby.

The New Pravda (New York Times) published on November 24 a creepy Simon Romero “article” positively crowing over Chavez’s recent electoral losses to Venezuelan elites. Can the NYTimes not once tone down the overbearing propaganda on the subject of Chavez? Holy fucking shit. Pretend you’re not the Wall Street Journal. I know this junk is fed to you by your sanctimonious, over-entitled, Harvard-classmate Venezuelan elite buddies, but the professional communications on this matter is just really, really ugly. It is completely untrustworthy from any perspective other than that of a Shell shareholder or a 5,000 acre ranch-owning Venezuelan media tycoon. Think of your poor, educated middle class American audience, won’t you? Just a little, tiny bit of respect. Publishing such heavy-handed right-wing dogma makes your liberal postures on other issues look alarmingly superficial. Scratch under the surface of a liberal, and all of a sudden it’s Pinochet, Franco, and the Contras…and we’re waterboarding away!

Providing a bit of relief, constitutional lawyer-turned-journalist Glenn Greenwald dresses the NYTimes down a bit for some of this propaganda overkill in “Mumbai, the NYT’s revisionism, and lessons not learned” (Salon.com, November 28), as well as the NYT’s anti-law/pro-torture slant, in “How the media talks about torture and the rule of law.”

Economists Robert Chernomas and Ian Hudson (who co-authored “Social Murder,” a very readable analysis and critique of conservative economics, published out of Winnipeg by Arbeiter Ring Press) are soon publishing a contemporary-historical examination of the New York Times’ politics, featuring a look at the history of the NYT’s hoary verbal savaging of social democratic countries.