Incomplete Dialectics of the Woke

I would love to have the chance to lecture the offended Ottawaian anglo-students, many of whom are not black, that their attack on racism is essentially racist. Exactly the case in the US with the Woke, who are surprisingly though incompletely “dialectical” in their reactions. Thesis –> Antithesis –> …  but NO SYNTHESIS.
At least in the Sartrian (Hegelian) reading of Négritude there was a Aufhebung, a sublimation, an erasure, if you like, of the conflict, a transformation of its terms, per Sartre though not in fact, into universal post-racial citizenship and thus into class conflict.
Dammit, I said all this clearly in my 1977 dissertation, which has had zero effect in/ on the World 😉

Loaded Diplomatic Words

The Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, crafted or had crafted a superb note of official congratulation to the newly-elected US President. Dripping with irony but absolutely correct in terms of expected language, formula and cliché, Kantian to boot.

“Germany and America are bound by their values: democracy, freedom, the respect for the law and the dignity of human beings, independent of their origin, skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political position. On the basis of these values I offer the future president of the United States, Donald Trump, close cooperation.”

„Deutschland und Amerika sind durch Werte verbunden : Demokratie, Freiheit, Respekt vor dem Recht und der Würde des Menschen, unabhängig von Herkunft, Hautfarbe, Religion, Geschlecht, sexueller Orientierung oder politischer Einstellung. Auf der Basis dieser Werte biete ich dem künftigen Präsidenten der Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika, Donald Trump, eine enge Zusammenarbeit an.“

Full report in the FAZ: http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/inland/deutschlands-politiker-reagieren-gemischt-auf-trump-14520543.html

China’s Silk Road Imperialism from a Leninist Perspective

Liberals, neo- or not, tend to dismiss Marxist theory as voluntarist drivel, a reflection of evil intentions, not analysis amenable to verification. Hence my surprise the other day in reading this excerpt from the Financial Times in a series on China’s Great Game in Central Asia:

Lenin’s theory that imperialism is driven by capitalist surpluses seems to hold true, oddly, in one of the last (ostensibly) Leninist countries in the world. It is no coincidence that the Silk Road strategy coincides with the aftermath of an investment boom that has left vast overcapacity and a need to find new markets abroad.” (13 Oct 2015, p. 9)

The debate over the economic causes of imperialism survived the crisis in orthodox, state-sanctioned Marxism, in part because it had been incorporated into Third World and World Systems theory then embraced by the anti-globalization movements which address the inequities among the most, the more, the less and the least economically developed societies around the globe. Inequities also prevail within each of those sectors.

Here, in what we persist in calling the West, prolonged stagnation of income, pervasive impoverishment and creeping lumpen-proletariatization have meant slumping internal markets. To export their surplus of profit, corporations based in the capitalist democracies now need foreign consumers — the unbridled creation of credit, aka debt, to feed domestic consumption having revealed its shortcomings in 2008.

In China, given its recent boom, the problem is similar, though more acute.

Beijing must find sufficient external demand for its products and goods to avoid recession, depression or even collapse, of the economy first, then of the regime. This is why China must expand into Central Asia. Its province of Xinjiang (New Frontier  新疆, or in its other official, Uyghur transcription شىنجاڭ) as well as the hinterland in the Stans are as important to this recently established, naturally continentally-minded dynasty as its maritime zones of influence, both the seas adjacent to the western Pacific which bear its name (East China Sea, South China Sea), and the “String of Pearls” which connects its prosperous coast through the Strait of Malacca to the Middle East and Europe. From a Leninist, though even from a purely merchantilist perspective, the Trans-Pacific Partnership which excludes China from crucial east Asian and west Pacific markets will push China even more strongly into central Asia.

Lenin’s argument was initially directed against his rival Karl Kautsky’s 1914 typically social-democratic bout of wishful thinking that capitalism’s tendency towards cartel monopoly would lead to a phase of ultra-imperialism in which the great powers subsume their nationalist antagonisms and cooperate jointly in the exploitation of the periphery, thus avoiding war. Lenin correctly saw — retrospectively in 1917, let us note — that the ever-shifting balance of powers among competitive capitalist states precluded such co-operation. Put another way: state politics trump economics.

So it is not odd, in fact the odds favour that the capitalist powers, soon prima inter pares China, will  be drawn into military conflict in a tragic reprise of the internal contradictions which engendered the First World War, but also the first explicitly anti-capitalist revolution, the one associated with Lenin’s name. The next anti-capitalist revolution remains to be imagined. If the past is any measure, it will  follow upon a cataclysm unavoidable as long as the logic of capitalist accumulation prevails as international law.

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The Financial Times article can be accessed in on the Uyghur Human Rights Project / UHRP website (no firewall). http://uhrp.org/featured-articles/china’s-great-game-new-frontier-old-foes

Lenin’s theory of imperialism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperialism,_the_Highest_Stage_of_Capitalism

World Systems Theory: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World-systems_theory

Kautsky’s Ultra-imperialism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultra-imperialism

China’s Silk Road initiative: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Silk_Road_Economic_Belt_and_the_21st-century_Maritime_Silk_Road

China’s String of Pearls strategy:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/String_of_Pearls_(Indian_Ocean)

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-Pacific_Partnership