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When Lenin studied imperialism, he focused his attention not only on the work of the various recent Marxist authors but also further back to the work of John Hobson and his bourgeois populist version of the critique of imperialism.[24] Lenin learned a great deal from Hobson-which, incidentally, he could have learned equally well from the German, French, or Italian populist theorists of imperialism. In particular, he learned that the modern European nationstates use imperialism to transfer outside their own borders the political contradictions that arise within each single country. The nation-state asks imperialism to resolve or really displace class struggle and its destabilizing effects. Cecil Rhodes expressed the essence of this function of imperialism most clearly: "My cherished idea is a solution for the social problem, i.e., in order to save the 40,000,000 inhabitants of the United Kingdom from a bloody civil war, we colonial statesmen must acquire new lands to settle the surplus population, to provide new markets for the goods produced by them in the factories and mines. The Empire, as I have always said, is a bread and butter question. Ifyou want to avoid civil war, you must become imperialists."[25] Through imperialism, the modern state exports class struggle and civil war in order to preserve order and sovereignty at home.
Lenin saw imperialism as a structural stage in the evolution of the modern state. He imagined a necessary and linear historical progression from the first forms of the modern European state to the nation-state and then to the imperialist state. At each stage in this development the state had to invent new means of constructing popular consensus, and thus the imperialist state had to find a way to incorporate the multitude and its spontaneous forms of class struggle within its ideological state structures; it had to transform the multitude into a people. This analysis is the initial political articulation of the concept of hegemony that would later become central to Gramsci's thought.[26] Lenin thus interpreted imperialist populism as simply another variant of the proposition of sovereignty as a solution for the crisis of modernity.
On the basis of this interpretation of imperialism as a hegemonic element of sovereignty, Lenin could account for the structuring effects and totalitarian consequences of imperialist politics. He understood with great clarity the centripetal dynamic of imperialism that progressively undermined the distinction between the "inside" and the "outside" of capitalist development. The standpoint of Luxemburg's critique of imperialism was rooted in the "outside," that is, in the resistances that could reorganize the noncapitalist use values of the multitude in both the dominant and the subordinate countries. From Lenin's perspective, however, that standpoint and that strategy are not tenable. The structural transformations imposed by imperialist politics tend to eliminate any possibility of being outside, in either the dominant or the subordinate countries. The standpoint of critique had to be located not outside but within the crisis of modern sovereignty. Lenin believed that with World War I, in which the imperialist stage of modern sovereignty had led directly to mortal conflict among nation-states, the point of crisis had arrived.
Lenin recognized finally that, although imperialism and the monopoly phase were indeed expressions of the global expansion of capital, the imperialist practices and the colonial administrations through which they were often pursued had come to be obstacles to the further development of capital. He emphasized the fact, noted by many critics of imperialism, that competition, essential for the functioning and expansion of capital, declines necessarily in the imperialist phase in proportion to the growth of monopolies. Imperialism, with its trade exclusives and protective tariffs, its national and colonial territories, is continually posing and reinforcing fixed boundaries, blocking or channeling economic, social, and cultural flows. As we saw earlier in cultural terms (in Section 2.3), and as Luxemburg argues in economic terms, imperialism rests heavily on these fixed boundaries and the distinction between inside and outside. Imperialism actually creates a straitjacket for capital- or, more precisely, at a certain point the boundaries created by imperialist practices obstruct capitalist development and the full realization of its world market. Capital must eventually overcome imperialism and destroy the barriers between inside and outside. It would be an exaggeration to say that, on the basis of these intuitions, Lenin's analysis of imperialism and its crisis leads directly to the theory of Empire. It is true, nonetheless, that his revolutionary standpoint revealed the fundamental node of capitalist development -or better, the Gordian knot that had to be undone. Even though Lenin's practical and political proposal for world revolution was defeated (and soon we will focus on the reasons for this defeat), something like the transformation he foresaw was nonetheless necessary. Lenin's analysis of the crisis of imperialism had the same power and necessity as had Machiavelli's analysis of the crisis of the medieval order: the reaction had to be revolutionary. This is the alternative implicit in Lenin's work: either world communist revolution or Empire, and there is a profound analogy between these two choices.
The Missing Volumes of Capital
In order to understand the passage from imperialism to Empire, in addition to looking at the development of capital itself, we must also understand the genealogy from the perspective of class struggle. This point of view is in fact probably more central to the real historical movements. Theories of the passages to and beyond imperialism that privilege the pure critique of the dynamics of capital risk undervaluing the power of the real efficient motor that drives capitalist development from its deepest core: the movements and struggles of the proletariat. This motor can be very difficult to recognize, often because it is masked by the ideology of the state and the dominant classes, but even when it appears only faintly or sporadically, it is nonetheless effective. History has a logic only when subjectivity rules it, only when (as Nietzsche says) the emergence of subjectivity reconfigures efficient causes and final causes in the development of history. The power of the proletariat consists precisely in this.
We thus arrive at the delicate passage through which the subjectivity of class struggle transforms imperialism into Empire. In this third part of our book we will trace the genealogy of the economic order of Empire so as to reveal the global nature of proletarian class struggle and its ability to anticipate and prefigure the developments of capital toward the realization of the world market. We still need to identify, however, a theoretical schema that can sustain us in this inquiry. The old analyses of imperialism will not be sufficient here because in the end they stop at the threshold of the analysis of subjectivity and concentrate rather on the contradictions of capital's own development. We need to identify a theoretical schema that puts the subjectivity of the social movements of the proletariat at center stage in the processes of globalization and the constitution of global order.
There is a paradox in Marx's thought that may be particularly illuminating for resolving the problems we are facing here. In his outlines for the drafting of Capital, Marx planned three volumes that were never written: one on the wage, a second on the state, and a third on the world market.[27] One could say that the content of the volume on the wage, insofar as it was really to be a volume on wage earners, was in part contained in Marx's political and historical writings, such as The Eighteenth Brumaire, The Class Struggles in France, and the writings on the Paris Commune.[28] The situation of the volumes on the state and the world market, however, is completely different. Marx's various notes on these questions are scattered and entirely insufficient; not even outlines of these volumes exist. The comments Marx did make about the concept of the state are directed less toward a general theoretical discussion than toward specific analyses of national politics: on English parliamentarianism, on French Bonapartism, on Russian autocracy, and so forth. The national limits of these situations are what made a general theory impossible. The constitutional characteristics of each nation-state were, in Marx's view, conditioned by the difference in the rates of profit in the different national economies along with the differences in the regimes of exploitation-in short, by particular state overdeterminations of the processes of valorization in the different national sites of development. The nation-state was a singular organization of the limit. In these conditions a general theory of the state could not but be aleatory and conceived only in the most abstract terms. Marx's difficulties in writing the volumes of Capital on the state and the world market were thus fundamentally linked: the volume on the state could not be written until the world market had been realized.
Marx's thinking, however, was oriented toward a moment when capitalist valorization and the political processes of command would converge and overlap on the world level. The nation-state played only an ephemeral role in his work. Processes of capitalist development determine valorization and exploitation as functions of a global system of production, and every obstacle that appears on that terrain tends to be surpassed in the long run. "The tendency to create the world market," he wrote, "is directly given in the concept of capital itself. Every limit appears as a barrier to be overcome."[29] A Marxian theory of the state can be written only when all such fixed barriers are overcome and when the state and capital effectively coincide. In other words, the decline of nationstates is in a profound sense the full realization of the relationship between the state and capital. "Capitalism only triumphs," as Fernand Braudel says, "when it becomes identified with the state, when it is the state."[30] Today it is perhaps finally possible (ifone still feels the need) to draft Marx's two missing volumes; or rather, following the spirit of his method and gathering together Marx's insights about the state and the world market, one could attempt to write a revolutionary critique of Empire.
The analyses of the state and the world market also become possible in Empire for another reason, because at this point in development class struggle acts without limit on the organization of power. Having achieved the global level, capitalist development is faced directly with the multitude, without mediation. Hence the dialectic, or really the science of the limit and its organization, evaporates. Class struggle, pushing the nation-state toward its abolition and thus going beyond the barriers posed by it, proposes the constitution of Empire as the site of analysis and conflict. Without that barrier, then, the situation of struggle is completely open. Capital and labor are opposed in a directly antagonistic form. This is the fundamental condition of every political theory of communism.
From imperialism to Empire and from the nation-state to the political regulation of the global market: what we are witnessing, considered from the point of view of historical materialism, is a qualitative passage in modern history. When we are incapable of expressing adequately the enormous importance of this passage, we sometimes quite poorly define what is happening as the entry into postmodernity. We recognize the poverty of this description, but we sometimes prefer it to others because at least postmodernity indicates the epochal shift in contemporary history.[1] Other authors, however, seem to undervalue the difference of our situation and lead the analysis back to the categories of a cyclical understanding of historical evolution. What we are living today, in their view, would merely be another phase in the regularly repeating cycles of the forms of economic development or forms of government.
We are familiar with numerous theories of historical cycles, from those concerning the forms of government that we inherited from Greco-Roman antiquity to those of the cyclical development and decline of civilization in twentieth-century authors such as Oswald Spengler and Jos‚ Ortega y Gasset. There are, of course, enormous differences between Plato's cyclical evaluation of the forms of government and Polybius' apologia for the Roman Empire, or between Spengler's Nazi ideology and the strong historicism of Fernand Braudel. We find this entire mode of reasoning completely inadequate, however, because every theory of cycles seems to laugh at the fact that history is a product of human action by imposing an objective law that rules over the intentions and resistances, the defeats and the victories, the joys and the suffering of humans. Or worse, it makes human actions dance to the rhythm of the cyclical structures.
Giovanni Arrighi adopted the methodology of long cycles to write a rich and fascinating analysis of "the long twentieth century."[2] The book is focused primarily on understanding how the crisis of United States hegemony and accumulation in the 1970s (indicated, for example, by the decoupling of the dollar from the gold standard in 1971 and by the defeat of the U.S. military in Vietnam) is a fundamental turning point in the history of world capitalism. In order to approach the contemporary passage, however, Arrighi believes that we need to step back and situate this crisis in the long history of cycles of capitalist accumulation. Following the methodology of Fernand Braudel, Arrighi constructs an enormous historical and analytical apparatus of four great systemic cycles of capitalist accumulation, four "long centuries," that situate the United States in line after the Genoese, the Dutch, and the British.
This historical perspective leads Arrighi to demonstrate how everything returns, or specifically how capitalism always returns. The crisis of the 1970s, then, is really nothing new. What is happening to the capitalist system led by the United States today happened to the British one hundred years ago, to the Dutch before them, and earlier to the Genoese. The crisis indicated a passage, which is the turning point in every systemic cycle of accumulation, from a first phase of material expansion (investment in production) to a second phase of financial expansion (including speculation). This passage toward financial expansion, which Arrighi claims has characterized the U.S. economy since the early 1980s, always has an autumnal character; it signals the end of a cycle. It indicates specifically the end of U.S. hegemony over the world capitalist system, because the end of each long cycle always indicates a geographical shift of the epicenter of systemic processes of capital accumulation. "Shifts of this kind," he writes, "have occurred in all the crises and financial expansions that have marked the transition from one systemic cycle of accumulation to another."[3] Arrighi claims that the United States has passed the torch to Japan to lead the next long cycle of capitalist accumulation.
We are not interested in discussing whether or not Arrighi is right to advance this hypothesis about the decline of the United States and the rise of Japan. What concerns us more is that in the context of Arrighi's cyclical argument it is impossible to recognize a rupture of the system, a paradigm shift, an event. Instead, everything must always return, and the history of capitalism thus becomes the eternal return of the same. In the end, such a cyclical analysis masks the motor of the process of crisis and restructuring. Even though Arrighi himself has done extensive research on working-class conditions and movements throughout the world, in the context of this book, and under the weight of its historical apparatus, it seems that the crisis of the 1970s was simply part of the objective and inevitable cycles of capitalist accumulation, rather than the result of proletarian and anticapitalist attack both in the dominant and in the subordinated countries. The accumulation of these struggles was the motor of the crisis, and they determined the terms and nature of capitalist restructuring. More important than any historical debate about the crisis of the 1970s, however, are the possibilities of rupture today. We have to recognize where in the transnational networks of production, the circuits of the world market, and the global structures of capitalist rule there is the potential for rupture and the motor for a future that is not simply doomed to repeat the past cycles of capitalism.
It seems politically impossible for a capitalist democracy to organize expenditure on the scale necessary to make the grand experiment which would prove my case-except in war conditions.
John Maynard Keynes, July 29, 1940
The old imperialism-exploitation for foreign profit-has no place in our plans.
President Harry S. Truman, January 20, 1949
The first major wave of Marxist theoretical analyses of imperialism was clustered around the period of World War I. This period too was the beginning of some profound changes in the world capitalist system. Coming out of the Soviet Revolution of 1917 and the first great interimperialist war, capitalist development, it was clear, could not proceed as before. There was, as we said, a clear choice: either world communist revolution or the transformation of capitalist imperialism toward Empire. Capital had to respond to this challenge, but conditions throughout the world were not very favorable. In the 1920s the disorder of capitalist development in the imperialist countries had reached its peak. The growth and concentration of industrial production, which the war had pushed to an extreme, continued at a rapid pace in the dominant capitalist countries, and the spread of Taylorism allowed for increasingly high levels of productivity. This rational organization of labor, however, did not lead to the rational organization of markets, but instead only increased their anarchy. Wage regimes in the dominant countries became ever stronger and more rigid along the Fordist model. The fixed regimes of high wages functioned in part as a response to the threat conjured up by the October Revolution, an inoculation against the spread of the communist disease. Meanwhile, colonial expansion continued unabated as the spoils of the German, Austrian, and Turkish territories were divided among the victors under the dirty sheets of the League of Nations.
This set off actors underlay the great economic crisis of 1929-a crisis of both capitalist overinvestment and proletarian underconsumption in the dominant capitalist countries.[1] When Wall Street's "Black Friday" officially declared the crisis open, the rulers had to face the general problems of the capitalist system and search for a solution, if one was still possible. What they should have done at Versailles during the peace negotiations-deal with the causes of the interimperialist war rather than simply punish the losers2-now had to be done within each individual country. Capitalism had to be transformed radically. The governments of the primary imperialist countries, however, were not able to accomplish this. In Great Britain and France, reform never really took place, and the few attempts got bogged down in the face of the conservative reaction. In Italy and Germany, the project to restructure capitalist relations eventually evolved into Nazism and fascism.[3] In Japan, too, capitalist growth took the form of militarism and imperialism.[4] Only in the United States was capitalist reform put into effect and proposed as a democratic New Deal. The New Deal constituted a real departure from the previous forms of the bourgeois regulation of economic development. For our analysis, the importance of the New Deal should be gauged not only in terms of its capacity to restructure the relations of production and power within a single dominant capitalist country but also, above all, in terms of its effects throughout the world-effects that were not direct or straightforward but nonetheless profound. With the New Deal the real process of surpassing imperialism began to take root.
A New Deal for the World
In the United States, the New Deal was supported by a strong political subjectivity among both popular forces and the elite. The continuity of the liberal and populist faces of american progressivism from the beginning of the century converged in Franklin Delano Roosevelt's action program. One could rightly say that FDR resolved the contradictions of american progressivism by forging a synthesis of the American imperialist vocation and reformist capitalism, represented by Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.[5] This subjectivity was the driving force that transformed U.S. capitalism and renewed U.S. society in the process. The state was celebrated not only as mediator of conflicts but also as motor of social movement. The transformations of the state's juridical structure set in motion procedural mechanisms that could allow for the strong participation and expression of a broad plurality of social forces. The state took the central role in economic regulation, too, as Keynesianism was applied to labor and monetary policies. U.S. capitalism was spurred forward by these reforms, and it developed in a regime of high wages, high consumption, and also high conflictuality. Out of this development came the trinity that would constitute the modern welfare state: a synthesis of Taylorism in the organization of labor, Fordism in the wage regime, and Keynesianism in the macroeconomic regulation of society.[6] It was not a welfare state that was the product of economic and social policies that mixed public assistance and imperialist incentives, as had been the case in Europe, but rather one that invested social relations in their entirety, imposing a regime of discipline accompanied by greater participation in the processes of accumulation. It was a capitalism that wanted to be transparent, regulated by a state that exercised liberal planning. We should make clear that our apologia of Roosevelt's welfare state is somewhat exaggerated here in order to demonstrate our central thesis: that the New Deal model (responding to the crisis common to all the dominant capitalist states after the First World War) was the first instance of a strong subjectivity that tended in the direction of Empire. The New Deal produced the highest form of disciplinary government. When we speak of disciplinary government, we are not referring simply to the juridical and political forms that organize it. We are referring primarily to the fact that in a disciplinary society, the entire society, with all its productive and reproductive articulations, is subsumed under the command of capital and the state, and that the society tends, gradually but with unstoppable continuity, to be ruled solely by criteria of capitalist production. A disciplinary society is thus a factory-society.[7] Disciplinarity is at once a form of production and a form of government such that disciplinary production and disciplinary society tend to coincide completely. In this new factory-society, productive subjectivities are forged as one-dimensional functions of economic development. The figures, structures, and hierarchies of the division of social labor become ever more widespread and minutely defined as civil society is increasingly absorbed into the state: the new rules of subordination and the disciplinary capitalist regimes are extended across the entire social terrain.[8] It is precisely when the disciplinary regime is pushed to its highest level and most complete application that it is revealed as the extreme limit of a social arrangement, a society in the process of being overcome. This is certainly due in large part to the motor behind the process, the subjective dynamics of resistance and revolt, which we will return to in the next section.

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