Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

December 14, 2010

Autumn of the Hegemon

Filed under: financial crisis,swans — louisproyect @ 6:11 pm

Perspectives: A Review of 2010

The Autumn Of The Hegemon

by Louis Proyect

FUNDRAISING DRIVE: Green is the color of hope and hope means meeting a fundraising goal of $4,000 for 2010. That money, evidently, does not pay for wages, only the operating costs of the endeavor and the opportunity to keep bringing original humanist and radical thoughts to the wider realm. Jan Baughman and Gilles d’Aymery have sacrificed for 15 years to make this “sweetest dream” a reality. Unfortunately, they never had a wealthy mentor or someone willing to match funds — a sad happenstance, but a plain reality…

Thank you very much to Beverly Holley and Phil Fine for their enduring friendship and their recurring generosity. Still, another $650 are needed. If you want to make a difference and help Jan and Gilles carry on, please Donate Now! Thank you for your attention and for reading Swans.

(Swans – December 13, 2010) This was the year that the war in Afghanistan became the longest in American history. It was also a year in which a jobless recovery was threatening to spiral out of control, turning into a double-dip recession. For those with even the most underdeveloped capacity for making historical analogies, it should be rather obvious that the U.S. is facing the same kind of intractable contradictions that brought down the USSR.

Clearly, there are major differences between the U.S. and the USSR over the Afghan wars. The USSR at least had the merit of intervening on behalf of a progressive government that was attempting to emancipate the countryside from the kinds of misogynist and feudal-like social relations that both the current government and the Taliban-led resistance support to one extent or another. The war cost over 13 thousand Soviet lives over a ten year period while the U.S. has managed to keep losses at relatively low levels, a function of the low-intensity warfare it has developed ever since the end of the Vietnam War.

However, the costs of sustaining this war, as well as the low-intensity occupation of Iraq and the maintenance of military bases all over the world, are undermining the financial health of the republic. While Randolph Bourne was correct to identify war with the health of the state in terms of it being able to delivering “a tremendous liberation of activity and energy” to the citizenry, it comes at a significant monetary cost. In July of this year, the House passed an additional 33 billion dollars for the war in Afghanistan. The ability of legislators to grant the Pentagon’s every wish will soon become understood as in violation of the “guns and butter” formula of the Vietnam era when the American economy enjoyed super-hegemonic status. Now it is really a question of “guns, not butter” as the economy sputters along on two cylinders.

full: http://www.swans.com/library/art16/lproy65.html


  1. Good article, however: “Will the U.S. go the route of the USSR?” There is no rival paradigm to the US now, not in super-power terms anyway, which was the case when the USSR collapsed. China serves as a firghtening mockery of liberal democratic capitalism, a powerful and fast-developing capitalism (faster developing than the West) which has no time at all for democratic nonesense and liberal pretensions. And although you could find plenty of USSR supporters in the West even after Czechoslovakia and Hungary, you’ll be hard pressed to find a single advocate of the “Chinese Way” in the West.

    To me as things stand, the West seems condemned to sink further into a stinking pile of ridiculous and murderous nationalisms, in which the rulers will resemble more and more the French aristocracy in their excesses, idiocy and cynicism, in comparison to which, even the Clintons will seem like giants of intellect and rocks of principle.

    But having said that, i’d rather hang myself than ever voting for or even arguing in favor of reactionary cretins like Obama in order to “avoid” vicious troglodytes like Bush or whoever the republicans put up next. It is a fake choice. Fighting for socialism is all we have left to live for.

    Comment by Antonis — December 14, 2010 @ 8:54 pm

  2. “…you’ll be hard pressed to find a single advocate of the “Chinese Way” in the West.” Except those in the West who will have invested in China.

    Comment by Peter Byrne — December 15, 2010 @ 12:36 pm

  3. American hegemony will certainly continue to decline. And as it does, it will become a more and more dangerous country like an old lion that turns into a man-eater because it lacks the speed to bring down its normal prey.

    Worth repeating.

    Comment by purple — December 16, 2010 @ 9:12 pm

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