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We Are in the Middle of a Global Civil War

From Washington's Asian "pivot", to regime change in Iran, to Western fear of China, to the growth of neo-fascism in Europe and the pauperization of the Western middle class.
 
 
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A suface-to-air missile is fired during a live military drill overseen by North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un at an undisclosed location, March 20, 2013.

 

This is an abridged version of a lecture this week at the 13th Seminary of Political Solidarity Don Juan Chavez in memoriam at the University of Zaragoza, Spain. 

How cozy it would be to summon the retro-spirit of Burt Bacharach to define our geopolitical future and start singing, "What the world needs now / is love, sweet love". 

Sorry to scratch the vinyl. We interrupt this lovey-dovey to bring you breaking news. You have been catapulted to the age of the new Hobbesian "hero" - digital and virtual as well as physical. 

Casino capitalism - aka turbocharged neoliberalism - is ruthlessly destroying the last vestiges of the welfare state and the egalitarian consensus in the industrialized West, possibly with the odd Scandinavian exception. It has established a "New Normal" consensus, intruding into private lives, dominating the political debate and institutionalizing for good the marketization of life itself - the final act of fierce corporate exploitation of natural resources, land and cheap labor. 

Integration, socialization and multiculturalism are being corroded by disintegration, segregation, and widespread de-socialization - a direct consequence of the David Harvey-coined notion of "dis-accumulation" (society devouring its own). 

This state of things is what Flemish philosopher and art historian Lieven De Cauter, in his book Entropic Empire, calls "the Mad Max phase of globalization". 

It is a Hobbesian world, a latent global civil war, a war of all against all; the economic haves against the have-nots; intolerant Wahhabis against "apostate" Shi'ites; the children of the Enlightenment against all manner of fundamentalists; the Pentagon militarization of Africa against Chinese mercantilism. 

The disintegration and balkanization of Iraq, detonated by the Pentagon's Shock and Awe 10 years ago, was a sort of prelude for this Brave New Disorder. The neo-con worldview, from 2001 to 2008, advanced the project with its ideology of Let's Finish Off The State, everywhere; once again Iraq was the best example. But from bombing a sovereign nation back to the Stone Age, the project moved to civil war engineering - as in Libya and, hopefully for the engineers, Syria. 

When we have armchair analysts, influential or otherwise, paid by flush foundations - usually in the US but also in Western Europe - pontificating about "chaos and anarchy", they are just reinforcing a self-fulfilling prophecy. If "chaos and anarchy" turns them on, it's because they are just reflecting the predominant libidinal economy, from reality TV to all sorts of what De Cauter describes as "psychotic games" - inside a room, inside an octagon, inside an island or virtually inside a digital box. 

So welcome to the geopolitics of the young 21st century: an age of non-stop war (virtualized or not), sharp polarization and a pile-up of catastrophies. 

After Hegel, Marx and that mediocre functionary of Empire, Fukuyama; but also after brilliant deconstructions by Gianni Vattimo, Baudrillard or Giorgio Agamben, this is what we get. 

For Marx the end of history was a classless society. How romantic. Instead, in the second half of the 20th century, capitalism married Western liberal democracy till death do them part. Well, death is now upon them both. The Red Dragon, as in China, has joined the party and came up with a new toy; single-party neoliberalism. 

An individualistic, self-indulgent, passive, easily controllable consumer drowned in a warped form of democracy that basically favors insiders - and very wealthy players; how could that be a humanist ideal? Yet the PR was so good that this is what legions in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America aspire to. But it's still not enough for the geo-economic Masters of the Universe.

Thus post-history as the ultimate reality show. And war neoliberalism as its favorite weapon. 

Choose your camp

 
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