In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Globalisation: Multipolar World or New World Order?

Posted by seumasach on March 11, 2010

Globalisation: Multipolar World or New World Order?

Cailean Bochanan

11th March, 2010

A proliferation of articles, mainly, I think,  from the left have over the recent period exposed elite plans for a New World Order, meaning a world government enforcing the dictates of London, Washington and their allies. They make grim reading, and one comes away with a feeling of hopelessness in the face of such awesome power: there seems an air of inevitability about the triumph of this new order in its military and economic wars against all comers.  The end goal of US/UK is, through NATO, the establishment of global hegemony, but a little more doubt about the realization of these grandiose goals might be in order. Whilst these writers point to the growing power of empire, albeit from an  oppositional perspective, we at ITNT have been pointing to the emergence of a multipolar world with multiple foci of opposition to the globalisation of Anglo-American power. This markedly different perspective has struck me as an oddity, since we are both on the same side, that of opposition to US/UK imperialism. What could lie behind it?

In fact, the perspective of multipolarity, a world with several balancing centres of power, has little resonance on the left at all. Whenever I have raised it I have had it played back to me as “inter-imperialist” rivalries. This neo-Leninist viewpoint sees the rivalries between China and the US as inter -imperialist. In other words, according to this perspective China is an imperialist power. The logic here could be that China is a capitalist power, therefore, it is an imperial power. Therefore all nations are imperialist since they are now all capitalist. We can shout from the streets of Washington and London,”Down with Brazilian imperialism!” or “Venezuela out of Honduras!” or “Las Malvinas son de Inglaterra!”. Clearly there is a superficiality about this school of thought. An imperialist power must satisfy at least two criteria: it must benefit from its relationship with its victims and that relationship must be coercive, based on military force. In other words, it must be a colonial type relationship. China has developed ties with African countries like Sudan and Zimbabwe but they are not of a colonial type, the agreements between them are voluntary. China is an exporter of capital and that sounds like imperialism from a Leninist perspective but it would only be if those exports came down the barrel of a gun. China isn’t force feeding low interest loans to these countries as drugs were once force fed to it. It isn’t looting them or invading them to install puppet governments. No, the inter-imperialist thesis is definitely a dubious one. At best, it is a mechanical transposition of Lenin’s theory which was even at the time superficial, failing to clearly distinguish emerging productivist economies like Germany from the clearly parasitic British Empire run from the City of London. At worst, of course, it is an excellent apology for US aggression against China or  anyone else who gets in their way.

But there is another variant of NWO theory. In this case, everyone is in it together, selling out their own and entering into vassalage to Washington. This hypercapitalism is particularly frightening for those of us who held some hopes for the Bolivarista revolution or the emergence of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. These, apparently, are not counterpoles at all but are merely going to share the spoils of ripping off the whole planet. Giulietto Chiessa of the World Political Forum expressed in like this:

“La vérité est que nous nous dirigeons vers une super-société globale gouvernée par une super-classe globale de super-riches de toutes les régions du globe.”

[“The truth is that we are heading a global super-society governed by a global super-class of the super-rich of all regions of the world”]

This is the opposite to the “Leninist” thesis. There, they oppose each other because they’re capitalists “fighting for markets”; here, they join together  because they’re capitalists united in their desire to exploit the workers. As a result according to Chiessa:

“Ceux qui pensent, même à gauche, en termes de « reprise » du vieux développement (sur le plan économique) et qui croient pouvoir modérer les prétentions de l’Empire (sur le plan politique) sont condamnés à la stupeur et à l’impuissance devant les événements tragiques qui s’annoncent.’

[“Those who think, even on the left, in terms of a “return” to old patterns of development (in the economy) and who believe they can moderate the drive towards empire (in political terms) are condemned to stupour and impotence before the tragic events to come”]

There is clearly a problem with this thesis quite apart from the deep pessimism which it seems to instil in its adherents. If they’re all in it together why do the US/UK insist on threatening them, surrounding them with missile systems and conducting economic wars against them. US/UK are not it seems playing the game, and therefore it’s hard to why the others would. And indeed they are not: China is quietly ditching dollars, Russia has revised its military doctrine to counter NATO aggression and the whole of South America is up in arms against US aggression in Honduras and UK aggression in the South Atlantic. But, some would claim they are only trying to renegotiate the terms of their relationship. Well, exactly. They have different interests but are trying to reconcile these on a global scale without conceding their own sovereignty. This sounds like the multipolar world!

So, it turns out there are a lot of “muddle-heads” out there, to use a good Leninist expression, who are trying to give us a grand narrative based on the deployment of the very flexible and vague concepts of capitalism and imperialism as they are understood on the left. This is not accidental. The left have no notion of sovereignty: they see merely different regions of the globe presided over by elites who happen to speak different languages. Their notion of society is of civil society or mode of production and in this they share closely the point of view of liberalism  and the Enlightenment. Their worldview therefore counterposes state to civil society, class against class, but, on no account, nation against empire. So, whilst it is wrong to occupy Iraq or bomb Iran, it is equally wrong to defend Iraq or Iran(especially not Iran). It is even more especially wrong to defend Zimbabwe against economic warfare. The point is to defend people, or people’s rights or ‘democracy”. Aren’t people and nation indissolubly linked? Don’t people have a right to belong, to have their social,political,historical and cultural being as well as their physical being in a certain location? Apparently not. Nations are either empires or vehicles for the exploitation of their own people. Which brings us back to the arguments I dealt with above.

The simple truth is that globalisation is being led by US/UK in a drive for global hegemony. Unsurprisingly, they are meeting opposition from peoples and nations who have different ideas. These nations are usually only too eager to reach agreement with US/UK but find that these are not disposed to compromise. As a result they have combined together to oppose US/UK power and formed an alternative globalisation movement consisting of organisations like ALBA and SCO as well as multiple bilateral arrangements. As was so well understood by the Non-aligned Movement, the struggle for national sovereignty is central to all notions of progress in a world of imperial aggression. Thus, with the exception of left in South America, inspired by the defence of Cuban independence by a leftist government, the left, alien to any notion of sovereignty, has generally been unable to connect to the potentiality within multipolarity.

One Response to “Globalisation: Multipolar World or New World Order?”

  1. smeddum said

    Bravo! Well said.

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