Tag Archives: marxism

Education in the Context of War

People form States in order to protect their rights. The most important of these rights is the right to life. The most important reason people form governments is to protect the lives of the people. In some way, a Government forms to rule the State. A good Government is one in which the State uses its resources to protect the lives of the people, and the other rights of the people.

States have many tools available to protect human life and other rights. One of these tools is war. There are many types of war, some of such are genocidal and have a lot of unfocused violence, others of which are very careful and have so little violence that the object of the war may never realize that there was a war! When people think of wars in this way, they separate wars into gradients, with one extreme called the 0 Gradient of War or “0GW,” implying a holocaust, and the other extreme called the 5th Gradient of War or “5GW,” implying very subtle maneuvers.

Wars change different types of things, depending on their gradient. The sort of “war” we think about when we think of Napoleon Bonaparte, or Kaiser Wilhelm, or Emperor Hirohito, focus on military reality. These types of war are relatively low on the gradients of warfare, but fall short of genocide. These types of war fall between the first and third gradient of warfare. The sort of “war” we think about when we think of Algeria, or Vietnam, or Afghanistan focus on political reality. Instead of defeating armies in the field, insurgents in the 4th Gradient of Warfare or “4GW” try to collapse the political legitimacy of their enemy. Very subtle wars, or 5GWs, focus on altering the economic reality of the object. Both 5GW, by changing economics and 0Gw, by killing entire societies, also focus on changing the cultural geographic reality of the objects.

People use States to wage Wars to protect life and human rights. A short-term and inefficient way of not losing wars is to win wars. But even winning wars has costs. It is better to never have to fight wars in the first place. The short-term way not to fight wars is to be able to intimidate other States into peace. Of all the gradients of war, 5GW is the one most focused on the long-term. As 5GW is the type of war that is focused on changing economics and societies, it follows that we should wage a 5GW to create a long-term future in which other countries do not want to go to war, either.

Different thinkers call the time and place where war becomes unthinkable by different terms. Tom Barnett calls it the “Core,” and other researchers call it the Cartel of States or even globalization.” Marxists use terms like “State Monopoly Capitalism” and “Ultra-Imperialism,” and the global bourgeoisie.” Whatever you call it, extending extending this core of peace around the world has functioned as the grand strategic objective of the United States since at least 1942. While not all wars are fight wisely, to the extent there appears to be a consistent objective to United States warfare, it appears to be “shrinking the gap” that is outside our global system.

While the United States focuses on building peace around the world, it should not loose sight of single disasters that could delay things by a century or more. A Chinese invasion of Taiwan is probably the single most dangerous thing that could happen to the world. Even though it is short-term thinking to focus primarily on deterring a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, it would be foolish not to do nothing to prevent it. Other tricky spots of the world also exist.

Unfortunately, our broken education system means that our critical infrastructure is run by Chinese (and Indians, and Russians, and other foreign nationals). A globally integrated work force of course is a natural part of the peace, and is a good thing. But it is a bad thing that our educational system is so awful that foreign governments might try to take advantage of the fact that we have no choice but to have their nationals supervising our infrastructure in a time of crisis.

Education reform is important. Both teachers and publishers seek to profiteer from the need for education reform at the expense of our nation.

Our country deserves better than that.

The Destruction of the Academy in the United States

The American Academy is under unreletening assault. It will not survive.

American Politics Aren’t ‘Post-Racial’ – WSJ.com
Still, what happened at IUPUI is a pungent reminder of all that’s possible now in the rarefied ideological atmosphere on our college campuses – and in this presidential election year, not perhaps only on our campuses.

The story began prosaically enough. Keith Sampson, a student employee on the janitorial staff earning his way toward a degree, was in the habit of reading during work breaks. Last October he was immersed in “Notre Dame Vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan.”

Mr. Sampson was in short order visited by his union representative, who informed him he must not bring this book to the break room, and that he could be fired. Taking the book to the campus, Mr. Sampson says he was told, was “like bringing pornography to work.” That it was a history of the battle students waged against the Klan in the 1920s in no way impressed the union rep.

The assistant affirmative action officer who next summoned the student was similarly unimpressed. Indeed she was, Mr. Sampson says, irate at his explanation that he was, after all, reading a scholarly book. “The Klan still rules Indiana,” Marguerite Watkins told him – didn’t he know that? Mr. Sampson, by now dazed, pointed out that this book was carried in the university library. Yes, she retorted, you can get Klan propaganda in the library.

Of course, the universities will be successful. Higher (in the sense of graduate and post-graduate) learning will be successful. Science will be successful.

But the intellectualism that only barely existed for a century in the United States is a goner.

Its most visible enemies have been the Leftists and their fellow-travelers, who beginning with the rising generation of the 1960s and 1970s overthrew traditional fields of study like geography, history, archaeology, and literature in the service of Leftist ideals.

Both the old Academy and the Leftists, however, are under even more heartless attack from the Quantitative Revolution, the measurement-and-control movement that subjects everything to test-and-reject, measure-and-fund, quantitative certainties.

The romantic academia that lives in our heart is dying or dead. Given a future between the Tyranny of Leftists and the Tyranny of the Quantitative Revolutions, my sympathies go to the quantitativists. They save what can be saved, submitting the universities to Research, Application, and funded Goals.

A colder but more efficient academy is being born. One that has as much room for Leftism, or the joy of learning, as IBM Global Services.

Redefining the Gap 6, Critical Geopolitics

Note: This is a selection from Redefining the Gap, part of tdaxp‘s SummerBlog ’06


In the early 1990s, the political tilt of Global South discussions led to the emergence of critical geopolitics (Dodds 1994:275). While some have criticized the theory as appearing too soon for a valid “contexualization” of geography (C. Barnett 1995:417) others view critical geopolitics as necessary for explaining the contemporary world (Tuathail and Luke 1994:381).

Critical geopolitics continues the north-south discussion. This may take the form of almost conventional north-south articles, such as between the United States and Cuba (Slater 1994:233) and the spread of dependency theory in Latin America (Slater 1993:420). Critical geopolitics also focuses on environmentalism and people “on the ground” (Brosius 1999: 282). Indeed, it is near to the ground “where problems and issues are far more personalized and less easily generalized” that critical geopolitics provides the best context (Simon 1996:51).

This domain moves beyond traditional state-centered geopolitics (Tuathail 1998:229), in spite of its global level of analysis. Critical geopolitics holds that power is “non-sovereigntist,” “relational,” and “found at work across all scales of social life” (Sparke 465). This is as true for public policies (Moon & Brown 69) as it is for money (Sidaway and Pryke 2000:189), and as true for the public sector as for the private. Such emphasis on the social world echoes Mahan, and his belief on the importance of technology and the economy on the geopolitical world.

Interestingly, critical geopolitics argues that geopolitics itself is a critical field. That is, geopolitics “dominant mode of narration was declarative (‘this is how the world is’) and imperative (‘this is what we must do’)” (Tuathail 2000:166). Recognition of everything, including computer technology (Froehling 1997:293), as a tool of neither liberation or oppression but struggle emphasizes this ends-centered outlook of critical geopolitics. Geopolitics, in other words, is “political from the very outset” (Tuathail 1998:28).

Redefining the Gap, a tdaxp series:
Redefining the Gap 1. Prologue
Redefining the Gap 2. Summary
Redefining the Gap 3. Introduction to Geopolitics
Redefining the Gap 4. First Geopolitical Theories
Redefining the Gap 5. The North and the South
Redefining the Gap 6. Critical Geopolitics
Redefining the Gap 7. The Pentagon’s New Map
Redefining the Gap 8. The Research Design
Redefining the Gap 9. Methods and Operationalizations
Redefining the Gap 10. Limitations and Conclusion
Redefining the Gap 11. Results
Redefining the Gap 12. Bibliography
Redefining the Gap 13. Appendix: Computer Code
Redefining the Gap 14. Appendix: National Codes

Marxism-Barnettism (TPBM’s Marxist Roots)

The Pentagon’s New Map,” by Thomas Barnett, Esquire, March 2003, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/published/pentagonsnewmap.htm.

Immanuel Wallerstein,” Wikipedia, last updated 20 October 2005, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immanuel_Wallerstein.

When I first heard Dr. Barnett I immediately remembered the very Leftist A Short History of the Future, which described states struggling to enter the Core. Fortunately, Prof’s seminar on Marxism clarified some things for me (as well as giving me some interesting ideas!)

Barnett and Wallerstein: Seperated At Birth?

Compare, the Karl Marxism-Wallersteinism

The capitalist world-system is, however, far from homogeneous in cultural, political, and economical terms–instead characterised by fundamental differences in civilizational development, accumulation of political power and capital. Contrary to affirmative theories of modernization and capitalism, Wallerstein does not conceive of these differences as mere residues or irregularities that can and will be overcome as the system as a whole evolves. Much more, a lasting division of the world in core, semi-periphery and periphery is an inherent feature of the world-system. Areas which have so far remained outside the reach of the world-system, enter it at the stage of periphery. There is a fundamental and institutionally stabilized division of labour between core and periphery: While the core has a high level of technological development and manufactures complex products, the role of the periphery is to supply raw materials, agricultural products and cheap labour for the expanding agents of the core. Economic exchange between core and periphery takes places on unequal terms: The periphery is forced to sell its products at low prices, but has to buy the core’s products at comparatively high prices, an unequal state which, once established, tends to stabilize itself due to inherent, quasi-deterministic constraints. The statuses of core and periphery are not, however, mutually exclusive and fixed to certain geographic areas; instead, they are relative to each other and shifting: There is a zone called semi-periphery, which acts as a periphery to the core, and a core to the periphery. At the end of the 20th century, this zone would comprise, e.g., Eastern Europe, China, Brazil. As Naomi Klein has recently demonstrated with the example of “sweat shops” in developed countries, peripheral, semi-peripheral and core zones can also co-exist very closely in the same geographic area.

with the Adam Smithism-Barnettism

But just as important as “getting them where they live” is stopping the ability of these terrorist networks to access the Core via the “seam states” that lie along the Gap’s bloody boundaries. It is along this seam that the Core will seek to suppress bad things coming out of the Gap. Which are some of these classic seam states? Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, Morocco, Algeria, Greece, Turkey, Pakistan, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia come readily to mind. But the U.S. will not be the only Core state working this issue. For example, Russia has its own war on terrorism in the Caucasus, China is working its western border with more vigor, and Australia was recently energized (or was it cowed?) by the Bali bombing.

And the similarities don’t end there… Dr. Thomas Barnett and Dr. Immanuel Wallerstein publish electronically!


Two World-System Thinkers


[Welcome ZenPundit readers. A post with charts derived from these notes is also available. Likewise, the original walk without rhythm post. — tdaxp]

[today was the best day of this class yet. A recent Iraq War vet is now auditing the class. He and I spent a fair amount of time developing a Marxist-Gramscist Theory of Theological Hegemonic Stability, much to the delight of Prof and the bemuzement of most of our fellow students. I will try to turn that into a blog post — tdaxp]

Socialist and Marxist Approaches to International Relations
circi et panem
Marxist stability theory? Marxist Commercial Pacifism?
(EU/G7 as example of Marxist anti-Leninist “Ultraimperialism” ?)
Schumpater / Marxist uneven growth
what is the cure for “opium addiction”?
why not an “opium for the burgeious”?

Marxist Methods
private property establishes a state system — but what about midaeval Iceland?
“emancipation” — states exist because we say they do – Marx as constructivist?
Marx as anti-economic-reductionist?
dialecticalism as anti object-subject: anti-science? observer as warrior?
Marxist Theological Stability? “religion isn’t the opium of the masses — it is the masses”
– diversion of the diolectic to immaterial
– Lenin: state is the executive committee of the bougeouis — so Marxist Theocratic Stability?
— … unless the cause is endemic, not agreed, by the rich
— applying Gramsci… Marxist Theological Hegemonic Stability?
— Marxist Structural Theories of the State)
— gives the state partial autonomy; for example, Steel Capitalist v. Auto Capitalists
— “capitalist strikes” like during 1970s?
— or even Randist/Objectivist strike?

Marxist-Leninist Theory of War
– (Lenin’s theory of Imperialism “essentially borrowed from British liberal JA Hobbson”)
– raw materials
– underconsumption / overproduction
– external markets

Marxist-Gramscian Theory of Hegemony
– (Gramsci wrote while in prison in Fascist Italy)
– the idea that an elite can exert power only if it exerts cultural power over social classes
– hegemony as soft power?
– so global hegemony isn’t nation based
– an interpretive theory, not prescriptive (?)
– focuses on temporary hegemon — “historic blocs” (financiers are not industrialists, etc)
– Gramscian Communist strategy community-oriented?
– how would gramsci view a “better” religion as cure / partial cure?

Burkey: “International Relations” problematizes Marxism
– (disagrees with Wallerstein)
– “can’t square any units (communes, states, etc) with stateless society”
– so accepting nations implies accepting multi-unit horizontal diversity — so same thing as “states”?
– Marx /assumes/ state-capitalism interreliance, without backing it up
– capitalism could survive in stateless world
– does “stateless society” mean no external compelling unit or no “hegemonic” regime?
– “stateless society in one state”?
– so “voluntary societies” are conflicting states?
– tribal “early communism” as “stateful statelessness”?
– similarity between church “individual poverty” v. “collective property” monastary debates

– capitalism is selling for external markets: “means of production” really doens’t matter too much
– so any form of specialization / division of labor is a form of capitalism?
– any sort of society can be externally capitalist
– similar to Maoist/Chinese Communist criticisms of USSR trade with the west
– Wallerstein’s Core / Semi-Peripherary / Peripherary similar to Barnett’s Core / Seam / Gap?

Marxist Theological Stability Theory

Marxism implies a revolution, but does not give a credible reason for why there would be one.

The Marxist view of history appears to be

The Revolution will be televised… someday…. maybe

But why? What is the miracle? Especially considering Marx’s apparently constructivist nature, it seems likely that capitalism could be “stuck” in a permanent burgeious state. Indeed. It is easy to see how one can take Marxism to imply that this must happen, and that Religious Capitalism is the highest form of any existence.

Marx believed all politics to be derived from economics, but he was not an economic-determinist. Marx believed that ideas matter, and that one could change behavior with ideas. This is how he could say that religion is the opiate of the people — the people’s behavior is changed by the “drug” of religion.

A rational capitalist class would use this to their advantage. Accepting the Marxist notion that change is dialectic, the elite would steer this dynamic away from material redistribution (where they could be harmed) to ideology (so it would work to reinforce a capitalist system). So at a certain stage the capitalsits would establish a nonmaterial cultural hegemony that would divert change away from them while simultaneously reducing alienation.

In one word: religion

Future dialectical change would be ideological, with capitalism constantly producing enough wealth to buy off its enemies. That Marxism predicts the boom-bust cycle hardly matters: Shumpater‘s creative destruction predicts similar things, and capitalism is hardly the weaker for it. One could say that this Marxist-Gramscian Religious Hegemony is a horizontal diversion from the vertical march of history.

Changing Infrastructure, Changing Superstructure

Indeed, it might even be likely. A transition from capitalism to final communism is odd, because in Marxist thought it would be the first time in history a more productive economic regime is replaced by a less productive one. One could view this Marxist Theological Pacifism as a progression of both productivity and time, with no revolution ever.

A Marxist-Capitalist Theocratic Regime?

The problem is compounded by assuming that the capitalist population will be affected by evolution: capitalists who run their zones of controls in a manner that provokes revolution will be “weeded out,” leaving only those who are better at hegemonic manipulation.

However, all is not lost for the Marxist Revolution. If religion is the opiate of the masses — is faith also the opiate of the rich? Marx’s constructivism might allow “irrational” acts by classes, because all of their goals are constructed. Certainly it’s possible in Marxist thought for the rich to be so deluded they ignore material concerns at the same time that the poor are seized by them.

A problem with Marxism in general is its ignorance of linear algebra. The whole concept of dialectical struggle seems ignorant of multivariate optimization theory.

Marxism may be no more retro than Christianity… but such is a post for another time….

Good News from Basra

Two Car Bombings of US Troops: Iraqi Politics Still Unsettled,” by Juan Cole, Informed Consent, 19 March 2005, http://www.juancole.com/2005/03/two-car-bombings-of-us-troops-iraqi.html.

Dr. Cole has a rare, uplifting set of stories from southern Iraq:

Ash-Sharq al-Awsat reports that there is a big strike by students and professors at Basra University, protesting the incursions onto the campus of members of the Sadr Movement, who are attempting to establish control over the university and its style of life.

Great! True university protests and actual political debate in Iraq. And over something that effects Iraqis every day. People power is not just for ending hollow regimes like Georgia, Ukraine, and Lebanon — it is also part of everyday democracy.

It also says that a technical and architectural team from Iran is visiting Basra, having been invited by the city authorities to come help with reconstruction

More good news. This is further conrete proof of our successful efforts to force common interests with Iran. Tehran is a natural regional leader and one of the best regimes in the region. Democracy-wise, it is about where Britain was a century ago (in other words, centuries ahead of Jordan and Kuwait and aeons away from Saudi-Occupied Arabia). We are opening up Iraq to the otherside world and its natural allies at the same time we further force Iran into the great-power spotlight. Huzzah!

The rest of Cole’s post descend into lazy Marxism, which I don’t have time for right now.

Update: But Collounsbury does.

Juan Cole’s Marxist "Late Capitalism"

The Republicans’ Iraq and the Islamic Republic of Iraq,” by Juan Cole, Informed Consent, http://www.juancole.com/2005/02/republicans-iraq-and-islamic-republic.html, 7 February 2005.

In the midst of an anti-Republican anti-Cheney rant

Although George Orwell/ Eric Blair wrote 1984 as an anarcho-syndicalist socialist critique of Stalinism, it is becoming increasingly clear that it was also prophetic about the direction of Late Capitalist societies characterized by corporate media consolidation. In such a society, Cheney can substitute himself for Sistani and speak for Sistani, erasing the real Sistani just as the Republican pundits have erased the real Iraq. “Ignorance is strength.”

What the heck? Is Juan Cole a Marxist? Does this explain his conspiracy theories? Should his writings be taken in the context of 19th century sociological pseudo-economics?