Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 06, 2006


There was some discussion in various comments here about corporations and their roll in imperialism on the loss of nation state power.

Though I still need to read and understand more about this, here is a thought.

Nation state power is lost in two directions. First to international institutions like the U.N., IMF, Worldbank, WTO (this may not be of so much relevance for the U.S. yet, but it is important for all other countries) and second to multinational corporations. While there are lot of international laws and frameworks on big and small issues, there is nothing to really regulate capital flow and multinationals.

With the loss of nation state power, the states institutions lose their legitimation. Smaller entities, tribes, religious or racial defined subgroups, gangs etc gain legitimacy and some control.

But unlike nation states, these groups do have even less power to challenge large corporations. If they get into the way of business, they will either get bribed or are fought down.

While the nation states fail, the multinationals or supranationals take over and may even form some kind of states themselves.

This has repeatedly happened throughout history. Though at some point, these corporations do fall apart and the nation states gain again. It will be interesting to find out when and why this happened.

Thoughts, literature on this issue?

Posted by b on March 6, 2006 at 22:22 UTC | Permalink


Martin van Crevald's book, mentioned on billmon's site, is a good resource.

For me, the most interesting justification for the state is the management of the mobility of labor.

That's not Crevald's point, but int the age iof global capital, it makes sense.

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 7 2006 0:30 utc | 1

And for me, the reason for the governments existence is to blunt the force of private capital through proper regulation. Not working real well these days. By design, I fear. The rise of corporate power and influence seems to be at historic levels. Or am I just paranoid?

Posted by: ben | Mar 7 2006 0:52 utc | 2

The global corporation as is today is countryless and is run by what Robert Reich called "symbolic analyst" in his essay "What Is a Nation? These people hop in their Lear Jets and move around the country and the world not realizing any borders. With them go's the means of production and movement of capital looking for the greatest return.

Much of this was set up for foriegn policy reasons. During the cold war there was policy on two fronts:
1. Defeat communism by showing the world that capitalism creates a prosperous society and an ever higher standard of living. The capitalist, especially the CFR types went along with this and businessmen were brought into the foreign policy think tanks to promote this thought. The former head of Coca Cola was a main promoter.
2. The policy of interdependence was the Brezhinski and Kissinger type thinkers way of promoting foriegn policy. By the 1950s and early 1960s the US was rich beyond belief after being really the only one standing after WWII. Interdependence would rely on trade and giving away of jobs to promote economic cooperation, create stability and stop the so-called domino theory. This also involved wholesale access to US markets.

But, many times economic hit men were sent out with the World bank and IMF to force countries to come on board. After the cold war, and even during when production was offshored many companies and especially bankers saw profit margins were higher for the investment from cheaper labor and if tariffs were reduced the profit would be even bigger. So, uncle sam, in the name of foriegn policy started the cycle we are in. Also in this cycle came the quality theme. Many policy elites claimed competition was needed because US quality was bad and the lazy union laborer contributed. Breaking down unions became a theme.

Further, NGO's were needed that weren't controled by the whims of legislatures so WTO was born handle trade disputes. Along with that you have the Codex Alimintarius Commission that set standards (food, etc) on a global basis, now you have a regime of NGO's that oversee global trade and companies without borders feeding on a higher plan than you and I. When the public tries to address these problems or when comsumer groups try, global coporations and their representatives like the US Chamber and Business Roundtable come out with a PR campaign and campaign contributions to quell the unwashed. We don't understand how things work yah know. Kind of like the UAE thing.

These corporations are playing in a whole different relm than we are. They basically answer to no-one and many have economic scale larger than many small countries.

The main things that will take power away from global corps is: 1. the public financing of campaigns. Thats on the state and federal level. 2. The collapse of the entire system due to US debt and the inability to support the global trading regime.

I could go on for hours, but I'll let soemone else chime in.

Posted by: jdp | Mar 7 2006 1:49 utc | 3

thanks jdp, it's hard for me to wrap my brain around the enormity of the way corporations operate. here's an article i just read on
public financing of campaigns fron epluribusmedia

The United States Congress is currently considering a Democrat-sponsored bill that would radically change the way campaigns are financed, by eliminating corporate donations entirely and establishing strict spending limits on candidates.

House Resolution 4694, the "Let the People Decide Clean Campaign Act" — introduced earlier this month by Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.) and co-sponsored by fellow liberal Democrats Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), Barney Frank and James McGovern (Mass.), Henry Waxman and Bob Filner (Calif.), Steve Israel (N.Y.), and Tim Ryan (Ohio) -- would allow nominees of parties that had averaged 25% of the vote for House races to receive full public funding.

Posted by: annie | Mar 7 2006 2:10 utc | 4

Some but not all may find this interesting...
Economic Myths
Based on When Corporations Rule the World by David C. Korten
Kumarian Press and Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 1995

Also see, An Economic System Out of Control

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 7 2006 2:48 utc | 5

Of course Slothrop is right about government controlling labor flows.

H1, H2-A, and H2-B work visas, plus no attempt by gov to enforce laws on the books, guarantees that businesses within the US have an oversupply of (cheap)labor.

Nicely rigged game the multinational corps have created, with the help of a complicit Congress and "progressive" media.


Posted by: Groucho | Mar 7 2006 2:53 utc | 6

Nice links Uncle. Sustainability at the local level is the wave. But the so-called free traders will only pay lip service to sustainability because it is a threat. Sustainable farming is a threat to ADM and Monsanto because sustainability would mean seed would be saved by the farmer and used from year to year.

Sustainability would mean keeping menas of production on a local level. And sustainability would mean putting your money in local bank instead of a 401k that invest in a global corps stock.

The symbolic analyst will propagandize many things, but until they facilitate the total collapse of the global system, they will not act.
Another thing is busting the myths that elitist and global corps are able to push because the means of producing news is concentrated in global corps.

Posted by: jdp | Mar 7 2006 3:33 utc | 7

I apologise for my absence these past few weeks; I've been busy relocating myself out of the United States (at least semi-temporarily) and have not had regular online access. It's taken me awhile to catch up on the threads here, but this issue is very near to one of my pet concerns.

I've long been a proponent of reducing economies to nearly autonomous local levels for the very reasons cited in Unca's first link, however I do see one potential problem that hasn't been addressed by that model. The ideal in terms of standards of living, wealth distribution, consumer choice and reasonable social mobility would be decentralisation with some small inter-collective trade between communities. This not only invests citizens within a collective to their own labour, it also allows the citizens of one community a greater degree of personal freedom as they are then free to relocate themselves to another community if the local standards of any particular one do not suit them. To satisfy the capitalists out there, this would represent genuine laissez-faire competition... with the resident workforce being the commodity competed for.

However, if there is little or no centralization, there is also little or no regulation of those forces which affect all communities, such as the disposal of hazardous wastes, et cetera. As soon as we introduce inter-collective regulation, we must have an agency of the state with the authority to enforce it. As soon as we have such an authority, we open the doors for corruption (again) and begin the slippery slope towards globalisation (yet again).

The local model might be ideal, but it is difficult for me to see how local sustainability is, itself, sustainable.

Posted by: Monolycus | Mar 7 2006 4:18 utc | 8

"The global corporation as is today is countryless"

Posted by: jdp | Mar 6, 2006 8:49:37 PM | #

What everyone needs to understand is: It's all one gigantic 'Enron'.

It's all 'creative financing' by the World Bank and the International monetary fund.

The 'money changers', for the luvamammon! WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK THE TERM, 'PAPER TIGER' MEANS? The whole thing would (will?) collapse if certain "Nation States" pull their support for the whole friggin' scheme. (Like for one instance; selling their countries products for Euros instead of dollars.)

Posted by: pb | Mar 7 2006 5:34 utc | 9

has there ever really been a historical parallel for such dominant threats from transnational corporations and the multinational institutions that make them possible? this seems to me to be conquest on a whole new level, as compared to previous trade wars & such. factor in the technologies that render instantaneous monitoring & reaction to any aspect w/i the economic, political and social spheres. factor in the freakish military power of the u.s. acting as the global enforcer of capitalism. factor in the scale of available financial capital, the rise to the forefront of speculative finance, all operating out of the illusory principles of ever-narrowing ideological assumptions. the reach of this new economic global colonialism is unprecedented. how many lives are not affected in some way these days?

local nation states are increasingly finding it difficult to mediate their own affairs in this age of seemingly unlimited foreign capital that is permitted, via enforcement of heavy-handed multilateral agreements, to infiltrate every sector of state & private activity. the abstractions of the financial services industries, backed by (unregulated) abstract international trade laws, render the abstractions of state boundaries to the verge of irrelevance. local governments are gutted of control over domestic economies. their markets are opened to the highest bidders. foreign capital is used to entrap the weak, while destabilizing & bleeding the rest. it seems to be a vicious cycle, an extension of the time-worn strategy of exerting control via debt in order to exploit at will, only the scale is new.

but it won't last forever. we saw in cancun what happens when nation states band together and stand up to the illusory dominance of the free trade fanatics. lessons learned in the south and asia show the need for strong barriers to trade liberalization and state-capital. that residing behind the antidevelopment policies of the WTO et al are primarily u.s. interests, allegiant only to one sole objective - profit. we can see the swing away from the market-state back to the notion of nation-states in the south right now, as in the increasing victories of left-leaning governments, espousing responsibility for the well-being of their populations. these are people who take the ideas of democracy seriously & the concept of democracy being paraded by the global powers look less attractive w/ each passing day.

and new blocs are likely to arise, to counter anglo-american hegemony, and in their appeal to allies, will offer more favorable unilateral & bilateral agreements to ensure stable nation states & regions.

if we live long enough, the world may look very different w/i a generation. for the illusions that are being perpetrated on the world by the transnationals can't hold up to much more scrutiny. the current reliance on financial speculation is an indicator of hollow desperation, propped up only as long as it's considered legitimate by its marks.

Posted by: b real | Mar 7 2006 5:44 utc | 10

Thanks b real, you say it so much better than I.

Posted by: pb | Mar 7 2006 5:57 utc | 11

What everyone needs to understand is: It's all one gigantic 'Enron'.

Correct, and further as C.U. wrote the other day, "Enron is the Paradigm, not the Pariah!"

It's all one big Ponzi pyramid scheme.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 7 2006 6:03 utc | 12

Just released is this forward-looking beauty:
in which Jeb Bush and NASA are going to grow
the Mars Program into a $140B white-lab-coat
welfare program, running for over a decade.

Get Junior into math and science, ha,ha,ha.
Teach him to speak Mandarin and Hindi first.
Save bucks attending Hyderabad University.

And for those of you who can pencil the math,
(yes, it's cheaper to outsource), that's some
$15,500 per working American, and which just
happens is an average Americans' life savings,
either our life savings or our Social Security.

"Daddy, why are we eating rice and beans again,
and looking for that red star up in the sky?"

"Junior, I'm just looking for your inheritance,
they said our ship would come in any day now."

Да пабачэння!

Posted by: Ping Ping | Mar 7 2006 6:03 utc | 13

has there ever really been a historical parallel for such dominant threats from transnational corporations and the multinational institutions that make them possible

I was thinking of the English empire with the huge tee companies who in effect ran the Asia business.

The "Trusts" in the U.S. at the end of the 19th century are also quite a candidate esp. with their influence in South America.

More back in time think of the Fugger in Augsburg and the Medici in Florence. Both these banker families in effect did run all of Europe, selected kings and popes.

So yes, there are some parallels. "Global" is bigger today than it was in 1600, but a lot of that is because of faster information flow.

Posted by: b | Mar 7 2006 7:03 utc | 14

For sure this notion of corporatism is more than meets the eye, in so much as it does'nt necessarily match up with the expected political left right expectations or what we are talking about in the new corporate government incarnation -- or as it would apply to imperialism. Presumably, corporatism as indicitive of business / government collusion was an early 20th century idea that was in the air as a potential hedge against the rise of communism. It was brought into fruitation by Mussolini and adopted by other fascist movements as a so called third way as opposed to communism and capitalism, but evolved like communism, into anti-individualist(anti-liberal), statist, extream nationalistic and eventually totalitarian states. The Roosevelt new deal, and particularly the WPA are considered early examples of corporatism in America. The operative difference here is that communism (and even socialism?) runs exclusively through state planning (of business), where corporatism is a collusion (into syndicates) between business(s) and state.

In considering the current US government (and its foreign policy) to be corporatist is a bit confusing (at least to me) because much of the exceptionalist ruberic of US politics, like the term "neo-liberal" are like an inside out inversion of meaning. Conventional wisdom would have it that the conservative position (and the position of business itself), and its lassiz-fare attitude toward deregulation of business practice, would have business disenguaged from government altogether -- or so you might think, they would be anti-corporatist. But this is not so, in that much governmental policy has been indeed corporatist, and now more so than ever. The early examples of corporatism i.e. as when the railroads colluded with government in establishing anti-trust laws, and rights of eminent-domain which acted to diminish competition and allowed the free acquisition of property -- have now been rendered "quaint" by the bush administrations massive corporate welfare policies like farm subsidies, blue skies initiative, Medi-Care reforme, not to mention the war in Iraq. So what we really got is a government that espouses the platitudes of individualism, freedom, ownership, privitism, free markets, and small government -- while doing everything within its power to deny all of the above through the propagation of, in no other terms a totally statist, and consolidated corporate power.

The turning of such corporate power into an instrument of empire in many ways completes the circle of corporatism into a de-facto fascism by filling in the missing nationalistic authoritarian factor. The war in Iraq allows the administration to define our national(istic) character through the profiling of the "other" as the anti-us, in that we are everything they are not. And because of the war footing, the expectation is that people are willing to fullfil the singular characterization of being an american (with us), or be in some profile of sympathy with the enemy (against us) and un-american. Nationalism then, is defined internally, by going about your day and shopping without complaint.

Posted by: anna missed | Mar 7 2006 7:17 utc | 15

The operative difference here is that communism (and even socialism?) runs exclusively through state planning (of business)

Sorry anna, but this as false as it can get. Communism runs on the ownership of corporations by the masses. That does not in any way imply that the state does the planing. Socialism allows private production capacity but demands a social use of most of the gains. Again, this does not imply any production planing by the state.

There is nothing in communism or socialism that would not allow planing through (regulated) market forces instead of central planing. (Though you need a bit of incentive to let greed do its good work in within markets. But greed can work on nonmonetary incentives like "best manager" title etc. Financial incentives even work when they are very small - it is a question of comparative, not absolute gratification.)

Indeed, in my book, it was the central mistake of the Sowjet economic system to assume that central planning is more effective than the invisible hands of the market.

From the opposite side, central state planing does not require communism either. The fashist German war machine was a central planned effort like total war societies often are. It had nothing to do with communism. The private companies made lots of profit from it.

I do think mixing the two issues of 1.)ownership of production means versus 2.)system to regulate production quota is a long time propaganda issue. It has the easy to see aim to discredit any socialist color ideology.

Again, socialism and market forces are IMHO compatible.

Posted by: b | Mar 7 2006 7:45 utc | 16

We tend to look on the nation state as a given, forgetting that the nation state as we know it did not arise until the late Middle ages and that countries like Italy and Germany did not become nations until the second half of the XIX century.

And now it looks like the model is about to be phased out or simply subject to a hostile takeover by the multinational corporate system.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Mar 7 2006 8:04 utc | 17

My understanding, from what I have read, is that the US controls both the World Bank and the IMF.

I think the multinationals and the US try to control each other, but also promote each others interests. - the two form a symbiotic system that works in both directions.

In addition, both can form and/or fund third party organizations to make it appear that the US or the multinationals are not involved in meddling in other countries' affairs.

One such organization is NED (National Endowment for Democracy) - similar organizations are funded by the US govt. directly, the CIA, and private donations.

According to writer/lawyer Eva Golinger, her expose on NED made it freak out -

Here is something the readers of the
Oil Wars found interesting.

This is the very latest example of the US standard template on how to control other countries' governments - see
Oil Wars - readers comments

In this case, very fast after the news about the Bangkok demonstration appeared on the news, the readers spotted the US hand behind the demonstrations. It didn't take much more reading to see that these demonstrations, rhetoric, and threats were identical to when the US tried to get rid of President Chavez in Venezuela in a coup and a massive strike.

Posted by: Owl | Mar 7 2006 8:17 utc | 18


@JDP, mo' is better here :)

Still no word from DiD :(

Posted by: jj | Mar 7 2006 8:28 utc | 19

@anna - a bit of support for my palnned econonmy < unequal > communism/socialism through a Wikipedia piece on Planned economy

In the 20th century, most planned economies were implemented by states that called themselves socialist. Also, the greatest support for planned economics comes from socialist authors. For these reasons, the notion of a planned economy is often directly associated with socialism. However, they do not entirely overlap. There are branches of socialism such as libertarian socialism, that reject a centralized state, and some of these tendencies reject economic planning as well.

Furthermore, planned economies are not unique to socialist states. Socialism is concerned above all with achieving some degree of equality of wealth between members of society, but a planned economy, as such, does not necessarily imply an egalitarian distribution of wealth. Some authors have argued that elements of centralized economic planning exist in various modern non-socialist systems, such as the mixed economies of liberal democracies (widely seen as being capitalist countries) and the economies of fascist nations. Pre-modern economies (those existing before the industrial revolution) are more difficult to analyze by today's standards, but a number of them, particularly those of hydraulic empires, may be seen as having been centrally planned as well.

There is a Trotskyist theory of the permanent arms economy, put forward by Michael Kidron, which leads on from the contention that war and accompanying industrialisation is a continuing feature of capitalist states and that central planning and other features of the war economy are ever present.

Posted by: b | Mar 7 2006 8:28 utc | 20


I ment that, in the past tense, as how governments (of the early 20th cent.) saw the central planning of revolutionary communist movements as a threat to business (ownership) and sought a third alternative (not strictly capitalist) through syndicalist collusion with government. This is not in itself necessarily a bad thing, and is probably characteristic of most socialist governments in Europe today. However, when such collusion, as evidenced in current US policy, are biligerent to the collective need of its people is -- and I think its important to point out that this collusion is in itself a COLLECTIVE and statist collusion, and alien to the propaganda that propagates it -- as you also point out -- a new force, perhaps nationalistic in its legitimization (and army), but international in its quest, then this is most likely a stealth fascist reincarnation.

And you are right about the 1)2) in that most discourse (on the web) about corporatism comes from the right, even Horowitz's site has a long piece on it -- which in most cases are negative to the idea i.e. the collectivitism of it.

Posted by: anna missed | Mar 7 2006 9:06 utc | 21

One of the best books to put multi-nationals in context is Wealth & Democracy by Kevin Phillips.

Posted by: DEEPGHETTO | Mar 7 2006 9:22 utc | 22

A person could read everything that Phillips has written on this subject DG, and not the worse for it.

Wealth and Democracy is his best. Had to read it twice to catch most all of the points he was making.

Posted by: Ling-Ling | Mar 7 2006 13:23 utc | 23

b, anna - we are living in a planned economy, hello? neo-'christian'-corporate-socialism,
government folded into business like those
ascarid worms that live in your belly, a
belly that soon will look like a biafran's.
baghdad burning has a funny spin on all this:

Posted by: Ping Ping | Mar 7 2006 16:05 utc | 24

Thanks ping ping for the riverbend...

The U.S. is a "Crown" Financial Colony? Anyone else find this interesting? Not saying I believe it, just saying it's interesting.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 7 2006 16:08 utc | 25

The only thing that nation states still have going for them is a virtual monopoly on deploying most weapons delivery systems.

But as we have seen in Iraq, the US armed forces are assuming the role as a general contractor working for Halliburton (although Cheney would have us believe it's the other way around)

Posted by: ralphieboy | Mar 7 2006 16:20 utc | 26

Posted by: b | Mar 7 2006 16:38 utc | 27

Beginning with informal consultation in July 2004, WFP decided to use weather derivatives to "demonstrate the feasibility of establishing contingency funding for an effective aid response in the event of contractually specified severe and catastrophic shortfalls in precipitation".

The pilot covers 17 million people, living in 278 districts in Ethiopia, which can be associated with 26 class 1 weather stations. In 1984, there was an income loss of $80m to the population and WFP says that the average income loss is $28m per year.

In the pilot proposal, WFP adds: "The pilot project will put in place a small hedge with a $2m maximum premium for Ethiopia's 2006 agricultural season from March to October 2006, demonstrating the possibility of transferring the weather risk of least-developed countries and facilitating price discovery for Ethiopian drought risk in international financial markets." [link]

Under the insurance policy, the food agency will receive a payoff if rainfall drops so low that 17 million subsistence farmers lose the equivalent of $55 million in income. Only a few years in the last quarter-century have been that bad, officials said. [NYT]

Posted by: b real | Mar 7 2006 17:19 utc | 28

wow, incredible thread. thank you everyone for the illumination and links w/a nod to b real for saying it so succinctly.

welcome back monolycus. i am curious about your relocation.

i am a little at odds w/comprehending the separation of the state and business when it seems like they are merging where government seems to exist to serve business don't they become one and the same. when the people who own the corporations are the government how can they be considered differently. is this the collusion anna missed addressed. i know this sounds stupid, oh well.

Posted by: annie | Mar 7 2006 17:20 utc | 29

Nice link on the House article uncle. What people forget is the amount of finance London put into the US during the late 1800s with everything from gold and silver mines, railroads, myriad industrys. It is and always is about development. The current situation in China and India is about development. The US is a mature economy, now the financiers have moved on.

London does not care about the US anymore except for our war machine. As far as the talk by elites, they'v always believed the great unwashed are stupid and easily taken in.

Watching Lou Dobbs, it is amazing how the inside the beltway elites believe the rable are stupid. Well, if living in the mid-west and having a college education and high IQ is stupid, those people are out of touch. We can fight this crap and the global cabal by making our reps accountable. We will have the Wellstones of the world taken out, but many people gave their lives for freedom, true freedom, not Bushie freedom. We must "endeavor to perserver."

Posted by: jdp | Mar 7 2006 17:56 utc | 30

Along these lines, its surprising we have seen more coverage of the nuclear deal Bush struck with India recently - a move substantially influenced by multinational interests.

I somewhat twisted take on that issue here:

Posted by: truth4achange | Mar 7 2006 18:08 utc | 31


yes, there was a time when war was an expensive proposition to be afforded only by Kings and other leaders. Just like television was so clunky and expensive that it was often in government hands.

And war is getting cheaper and more democratized by the minute. Now a terrorist with a suitcase full of dirty explosives is capable of killing more people than Napoleon did in his whole career.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Mar 7 2006 18:25 utc | 32

Philip Bobbit in his magisterial The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace and the Course of History covers many of these topics. Bobbit covers the history of the nation-state and explores the development of what he calls the market-state.

What makes his analysis particularly rewarding is how he looks at the definitions of several different types of market-states - mercantile (EU), entrepreneurial(USA), and managerial (East Asia). He explores how these compare and the frictions which are likely to develop between them. In particular he has also analyzed a similar division he observes in the development of the nation-state and the contending ideologies which dominated the 20th century - communism, fascism, and parliamentarism.

Posted by: PrahaPartizan | Mar 7 2006 19:20 utc | 33

magisterial also means autocratic

Posted by: b real | Mar 7 2006 20:48 utc | 34

I think the occupation of Iraq can be seen as a good case study regarding corporatism and its false grounding in political ideology, which as it plays out, is symptomatic of its operation. Without question the invasion and occupation represents a supreme level of government corporate collusion in that corporate leaders, through the office of the VP, were part and parcel of both logistical operations planning, infrastructure reconstruction, and the complete restructuring of the the Iraqi economy. The first two points are well known examples of collusion that would make Benito Mussolini weep with envy over the precision by which the state has absorbed the corporate into its identity. And for some reason, I feel compelled to reiterate over and over again that this collusion is not only manifestly statist in both its inception and execution (no-bid and all) it is also contrary in every respect to the political and economic restructuring undertaken by the CPA. Which was sold as a neo-liberal free market utopian experiment in which the previous worn out and corrupt socialist economy of Saddam was to be replaced by the new way capital magnent that would have the dual purpose of reconstructing the country as if by magic all by itself, and by this example, show the rest of the world the limitless potential of an unfettered, unrestricted privitized economy. All of which I find really odd, the least of which is the profound contradiction in the center of the whole mess that sells free market utopianism in later consume it. Unless of course that is the plan all along. that is to sow the seeds of capital development through deregulation and privitization so that later down the road whatever growth can then be harvested by elite corporatist interests. There is also the advantage , in an occupation scenario, of fragmenting all remaining institutionalized syndicate interests (like unions) that might hinder or threaten the inflow of investment. So, why did'nt it work? Or did it?

Posted by: anna missed | Mar 7 2006 21:09 utc | 35

@ralphieboy - And war is getting cheaper and more democratized by the minute. Now a terrorist with a suitcase full of dirty explosives is capable of killing more people than Napoleon did in his whole career.

The first sentence is right in my view, at least in comparison to the costs of "organized" armies like the U.S. pays for. But then democratizied war needs mass attendence.

Which somehow contradicts the second sentence of a lonesome terrorist. There is no dirty explosive that would fit into a suitcase to kill more people than Napoleon did (and that doesn´t even challenge Hitler, Stalin or Mao.) Even a suitecase nuke, which would most likely come out of the U.S. arsenal, would get some 100,000.

Mass killing today is done by derivatives. Bets on future cacoa market developments. If you want to mass kill people deny them the financial fruits of next years plantation. Now that can be done with a few sheet of paper or by moving some electrons.

Posted by: b | Mar 7 2006 21:26 utc | 36

anna - Unless of course that is the plan all along. that is to sow the seeds of capital development through deregulation and privitization so that later down the road whatever growth can then be harvested by elite corporatist interests. There is also the advantage , in an occupation scenario, of fragmenting all remaining institutionalized syndicate interests (like unions) that might hinder or threaten the inflow of investment. So, why did'nt it work? Or did it?

It did.

Posted by: b | Mar 7 2006 21:27 utc | 37

Long time reader, first time commenting. So first, thanks for the generally high quality of discussion and debate on the site. I don't always agree with what's said, but it's good to be faced with alternative explanations or arguments to force you to look at your own.

For an interesting opposing view on this, I highly recommend "The Collapse of Globalism and the Reinvention of the World" by John Ralston Saul. He presents a strong argument that in fact globalism is past its peak and that the nation-state is in fact recovering ground and influence in the world. He's not necessarily saying that's either good or bad, but that that's a more accurate description of what's actually happening now. There are some pretty good and informative reviews of the book on

Saul's a very thought-provoking writer. If you haven't seen it yet, I'd also suggest reading "Voltaire's Bastards: the Dictatorship of Reason in the West", for a fascinating exploration of the idea that untrammeled reason/rationality - uncut by ethics or morality - is at the root of many of the dysfunctionalities of the current world system. Good stuff.

Posted by: Jack Canuck | Mar 7 2006 21:32 utc | 38


The Long War, indeed, despite the hate mail, the ACTA witchhunt and the angry Op-ed pieces against Anthropologist Catherine Lutz and her work entitled: Homefront: A Military City and the American 20th Century, she has blown wide open the ideology and memetics that covertly govern our way of life in America. She has shown empirically and scientifically Our Legacy of War. In it she states, [we] ..."have already been in a permanent state of war since the late 1930s. Mainly outsourced to the global south since 1945", however, that has changed the essence has not. Another anthropologist I admire is Laura Nader both of whom give language to the unexamined "long war" ideals as Philip Bobbit speaks of. For me personally, it all boils down to
'corporate colonialism'.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 7 2006 21:42 utc | 39

There is an article at The Nation by Jeff Faux titled "The Party of Davos." Posted January 26. 2006.

This article lays out the elites thinking and how it has manifested. The problems facing the globalist are just starting and one day their gated communities and body guards will do no good.

Jack, good to see a new poster. The books you refer sounds interesting.

Posted by: jdp | Mar 7 2006 21:51 utc | 40

john ralston saul: the end of globalism (reprint of the march 2004 harper's cover essay)

Posted by: b real | Mar 7 2006 22:01 utc | 41

The Party of Davos
Jeff Faux

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 7 2006 22:08 utc | 42

Thanks b and uncle. I read both articles and they point to globalism in dis-array. The system isn't working. I really believe a mass movement of "how dare you elites experiment with our lives" needs promoted and any promoter should be tried for treason. Isn't economic selling your fellow citizens out a form of treason? I would say. While much of this started with good intensions, or the revenge of the ruling class, it must have it's promoters punished.

Posted by: jdp | Mar 7 2006 23:10 utc | 43

Uncle $cam, I did not sense in Bobbit's writing any particular value judgement on the necessity or desirability of war so much as an acknowledgment that it has occurred. We can decry the negative effect war imposes on society, but it unfortunately does happen because of tensions which develop.

If general conflict arises between the US and China in, say, thirty years, which market-state will be the preferred outcome. Today, I don't know. Neither appears completely desirable. Even the EU version offers good points and bad points. Ultimately, I would suspect it depends on which version can harness the efforts of its citizens most effectively. Even then, it is likely that we would be facing another long war.

Posted by: PrahaPartizan | Mar 7 2006 23:59 utc | 44

We need, I think, to factor the efficiency of the market mechanism into our discussion:


Posted by: Ling-Ling | Mar 8 2006 0:17 utc | 45


Thanks. The details are a yawn; there is no employment to be had in Ohio, and I have experience teaching ESL in Asia. It added up to four to me. I was just glad that my participation here didn't land me on a "no-fly" list, and relieved to hear that somebody would have missed me if I actually had been rendered (extraordinarily, of course). Sounds hysterically paranoid when I see it in print this way, but the thought did actually cost me a fair bit of sleep.

@Jack Canuck

Welcome aboard, and thanks for the John Ralston Saul endorsement; I'll have to look into it. I don't think that anybody agrees with everything that gets said here, so we'll be expecting to hear a bit more out of you from here on in. You can deposit your lurker card in the wastebasket by the door now.

@The Rest Of You Fine Malcontents

If I'm reading this correctly, the consensus seems to be that the role of the transnational corporation (can I just call 'em "Transnats"...? Sounds more Orwellian that way and boosts my street cred) in geopolitics is on the wane. I'll grant that the Enron paradigm does not have sustainability going for it, but it also seems to me that we might be focusing too narrowly on the particular face and form presented instead of what amounts to dynastic succession on the part of those behind that face and form. I guess what I'm getting at is that, yes, international corporate politics as we see them now are new-ish and probably peaked, but seem to represent only the latest experiment (as jdp put it) by the same sorry souls and families of souls that have been making the majority miserable for at least two hundred years now. I guess I'm asking what difference it will make if the transnats Bechtel or Halliburton go belly up when their boards of directors can cut and run with a veritable fortune and thereby position themselves to inflict the next wave of misery on us all (in whatever ugly face or form it turns out to be)? Without some degree of justice here, I'm just not that excited to hear that they've driven the latest vehicle until the wheels have fallen off. I'm sure they're already shopping for a replacement.

Posted by: Monolycus | Mar 8 2006 3:56 utc | 46

i'll have to disagree wrt bobbit. he is a peddler of neoliberalism, mapping out justification for the policies of the elite. his advocation of market-centered electoral politics, where political policies are allowed to be shaped solely on the basis of invested interest is only one sign of where his allegiance is. a world of the idealized deregulated, privatized & liberalized market-state will be far more violence & genocidal than that of the nation-state has.

and bobbit does have an opinion on war -

I think the main thing is to avoid cataclysmic wars among the great powers, which could take many different forms. The way to avoid such wars is to pursue coalitional wars—wars for humanitarian goals, among which I would count the war against international terrorism. [source]

and, as a reviewer at socialist future points out,

He concludes: "If we wish to ensure the new states that emerge are market-states rather than chronically violent nation-states it may be that only war on a very great scale could produce the necessary consensus. We should not exclude the democracies from idealistic ambitions that could lead to conflicts on such a scale."

Bobbitt urges the use of the tactics of relentless air strikes, special forces teams and indigenous allies to deal with the threat posed by opponents of the market-state. "Out of this epochal conflict can come, some day, the consensus that will provide the basis for a constitution for the society of the new form of the state."

so how is this any different than current u.s. policy?

Posted by: b real | Mar 8 2006 4:15 utc | 47

b real,

After reading the long Saul piece on (the death of) globalization, I decided against taking one more opportunity to kick the dead-horse CPA in the nuts once again, thinking why bother. But seeing your Bobbit link, perhaps the global free market aint dead enough, so, I think that giving credit to the CPA for having their policies crash and burn -- and calling that a success (in creating a desired chaos) is just too much of a stretch for me. It was of course, a plan predicated entirely on the dictates of a corporate drivin market-state based upon this notion of globalization. I'm assuming these people actually believed this would work, and tried to move heaven and hell in order to make it work, although knowing what little I know about this now, I'm even more astonished at how late in the game they were still thinking that it could work.

Of all the reasons one could point to as to why the CPA's plan did'nt work (bla-bla-bla) the central underlying reason for its failure is most likely the same reasons why globalization itself has failed. And that would be its disfunctional ethical position of putting economic concerns ahead of everything else with the expectation that social relations, culture, and even morality would somehow find its rightful index in the success or failure of business ventures. I suppose this might also explain the criminal disregard for the institutional, educational, and cultural legacy in Iraq -- if the economic trumps all.

For a long time now, along with the republicans, the democratic hawks, and to a degree other nations complicit with this venture have givin dire warnings to the consequences of failure in Iraq. It now seems that these warnings go well beyond the direct implications of national humuliation, the war on terror, the promotion of democracy, and all the rest because what the real and far reaching consequence that trumps all others, is a fundamental breakdown of the economic paradigm of capitalism itself.

Posted by: anna missed | Mar 8 2006 7:06 utc | 48

Chomsky on>counterpunch interviewed about developments in South America.

If the United States loses the economic weapons of control, it is very much weakened. Argentina is just essentially ridding itself of the IMF, as they say. They are paying off the debts to the IMF. The IMF rules that they followed had totally disastrous effects. They are being helped in that by Venezuela, which is buying up part of the Argentine debt.

Bolivia will probably do the same. Bolivia's had 25 years of rigorous adherence to IMF rules. Per capita income now is less than it was 25 years ago. They want to get rid of it. The other countries are doing the same. The IMF is essentially the US Treasury Department. It is the economic weapon that's alongside the military weapon for maintaining control. That's being dismantled.

All of this is happening against the background of very substantial popular movements, which, to the extent that they existed in the past, were crushed by violence, state terror, Operation Condor, one monstrosity after another. That weapon is no longer available.

Posted by: anna missed | Mar 8 2006 10:15 utc | 49


Homeland security pays rewards you know, and it was getting toward the end of the month. But I didn't get paid. Glad they didn't get you. We'll all get a good laugh when slothrop applies for a passport to worship at Red Square, I guarontee it!

With respect to dynasty. not to worry. I'm quite sure that the grandchildren are making out quite well all over the world--not just in the USofA.

Posted by: Groucho | Mar 8 2006 13:24 utc | 50

MSN Money - The numbers behind the lies

Economist John Williams says ‘real’ unemployment and inflation numbers -- figured the old-fashioned way -- may be two or three times what the government admits. Here’s why, and what it means for Social Security. Corporate America likes to play that game, the better to boost stock prices. Folks might be surprised to learn that "Governmental" America also plays the game in its compilation of macroeconomic data. Beneath the surface are undesirable, sobering consequences for us all.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 8 2006 14:23 utc | 51

Hell, Uncle:

Real unemployment in US is for sure at least 1.5 times the official number, then figure in less than full time.

Good link!

Posted by: Groucho | Mar 8 2006 14:40 utc | 52


Posted by: Groucho | Mar 8 2006 15:08 utc | 53

@anna missed

keep kickin' that dead horse :) your posts on the failing strategies of the free-marketers in iraq bring to mind another failed showcase for those ideologues - grenada. got a book at home, grenada: revolution in reverse, which does a nice job of documenting the failure of u.s. plans to turn the nutmeg capital of the world into a model privatized economy to be replicated throughout latin america after the 1983 invasion. i was meaning to dig that book out after the invasion of iraq, as i kept getting feelings of deja vu all over again, but always got sidetracked. iraq's not a unique situation, anyway.

p.s. looking forward to your review of the parenti book, if you decide to write one up

Posted by: b real | Mar 8 2006 15:59 utc | 54

Globalization isn't dead yet. Vijay Prashad deconstructs the US/India deal.

The US has pioneered jobless growth, with the rent economy creating a uber-class who earn fabulous rents from their patents on what is manufactured in countries like China. Their barely taxed super-profits provide growth to the US economy, although the jobs created within the country are neither in the manufacturing sector nor do they pay well. Increasingly income inequality is a function of the rent economy, and so is the close to $1 trillion deficit of the US economy. India is walking toward that road. A small class of people who earn large amounts of money live in a sea of impoverished and frustrated people. In this context, the "security" of the population is less significant than the maintenance of the "power" of the minority. All concepts of foreign policy, in this context, stem from this fundamental fact. The US has not duped India: what has occurred is that the needs of the dominant class have come to overshadow the broad coalition of classes that made Indian foreign policy speak in its name. The new Indo-US agreement (and the forthcoming Indo-Australian one) is a planetary version of the gated communities.

Posted by: lonesomeG | Mar 8 2006 17:34 utc | 55

Gated community? The city of Bacharach, Germany, a major trading center on the Rhine, was a gated community as early as the XIV century. Gated, moated & turreted, with hot & cold running oil.

Worked fine until the Thirty Years' War (an early, failed attempt at peaceful coexistence between rival religious groups) and the Swedes came along with howitzers and blew the town to bits.

It is now a popular tourist attraction. Stop by some time and I'll give you a guided tour...

Posted by: ralphieboy | Mar 8 2006 18:40 utc | 56

Following a link in comments to Groucho's post, we find that although the Trilateral Commission doesn't get much ink, it's still hard at work. Here's a list of some publicly recognizeable members.

For those of us who comfort ourselves by pretending that cheney is an aberration, it's most distressing to discover that he's a member of the global elite, not some fascist yokel from Wyoming. Of course, Baron Larry Summers, Greenspan, Clinton, Daddy Bush, are members. But so is Wolfie!

Looking over the list, we can see a split in Repug party between those who care about America - Paul O'Neill, Paul Craig Roberts & Lou Dobbs - vs. those who are on board w/the plunder America elite. O'Neill was replaced as Treas. Sec. by John Snow, a member in good standing of said Club:

From 1994-1996, Snow was chairman of the Business Roundtable, an association of 250 chief executive officers of the largest corporations, representing over $3.7 trillion in combined revenues. During that time, he was a key player in supporting the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

He recently received the Marco Polo Award (2001), awarded by the U.S.-China Foundation for International Exchanges as the highest honor that can be given to a foreign business leader. He is a director of CarMax, U.S. Steel, Johnson & Johnson, Verizon Communications, sits on the boards of Johns Hopkins University, is chairman of the Kennedy Center Corporate Fund Board, and is a member of the Business Council and Business Roundtable.

In short, Snow has been at the corporate center of promoting globalism and in particular, building China's trade for many years. As Treasury Secretary, he is in an influential position of trust to protect the American people from economic harm. But, will he?

Posted by: jj | Mar 8 2006 18:59 utc | 57

jj, I agree that the Tralts have to much power. So does the CFR. David Rockefeller. The founder of the Tralts is the main player and pussher of the global trade system. I remember when the Washington elites were pushing Nafta against a clear majority of Americans they brought David Rockefeller on McLaughlin Group and other programs and he was their proof that Nafta would do no harm. This guy is so elite and so munipulative that his own kids wouldn't talk to him for years because of all the chaos Chase Bank caused in South America.

He is a treasonist to the American people and is the main cause of our lowering standard of living. This man is very very powerfull. Luckily for us he's old and could die anytime. But he has trained others and now his children have made up and are taking up the cause.

Don't fool yourselves about this man, he is the main player in the global (and yes I will say it, as many post here prove and articles too)conspiracy to create the global system. There, I said the C word. You can call it a cabal, people that are elites, etc. But the fact is these people are knowingly and purposely creating a system that is against the people.

Posted by: jdp | Mar 9 2006 0:57 utc | 58

@ Ralphie Lad:

I thought that Thirty Years War thing was about regime change and nation building.

City had a Green Zone layout , and thought it was safe, eh?

Posted by: Groucho | Mar 9 2006 1:35 utc | 59

@jdp, absolutely. He & Zbig founded Trilat. I was always of the it's not the individual, it's the system school of thought, but the more you find out about dear David, the more you realize that he more than anyone has basically ruled America - w/the exception of my total ignorance of his relationship to FDR - but certainly for the last decades. I was further astonished when I found out, in wake of 911, that he was behind the building of WTC's & re-engineering of downtown Manhattan. Too bad his children have reconciled. did you read those bits I linked, wherein it's noted that it was Zbig who found & cultivated Jimmy Carter.

Given all that, I don't see why you're so fixed on the importance of who we elect?

To me a Defend the Middle Class - bring the factories home now movement seems a far better utilization of energy. For starters people should be picketing everywhere they can't buy whatever they need that's been made in the Continental US (Alaska & Hawaii have never manufactured anything). When they heard the factory in Ohio was going to be shut down, why didn't 100,000 people converge on the site to insist it be kept open. I would think Michael Moore might kick in a pile to support that. Robt. Greenwald supposedly made a film about Walmart, but from what I read it didn't deal w/issue Numero Uno - they destroy American factories & towns. That movement would cross classes, the urban-rural split...I guarantee that rural fundies would forget all about their god crap, to fight alongside of secularists in that the only battle that really matters - aside from global warming. Combine them both in a produce locally, consume locally mvmt. Regional production centers - save energy, produce jobs...

It's got to be what the elite is most afraid of. Blows my mind that it is not talked about...Co-opting elected politicians is easy, but the factory is either there or not - no grey area.

It should start by economists calculating how much would be added to products if they were made here. From what I've seen the amount is a Goddamn Joke. It's not like pay $.02 for a nail vs. $2.00. An extra buck for a shirt. Nikes sell for $150 - cost $2.50 to make. An extra couple of bucks would just offset shipping costs. People would blow up if they saw. I lost my job to save $5.00 on a mexican made washing machine - screw you...

Posted by: jj | Mar 9 2006 5:24 utc | 60

B_real, I do appreciate your comments wrt Bobbit. However, please understand that I do not necessarily endorse his views, many of which I find quite depressing. I offered his name and work because I understood that this topic had started off asking for suggestions about columns, articles or books which spoke to the question of corporations or other transnational entities assuming a greater role in global affairs. I thought Bobbit's work does this and deserved some notice. Further, sometimes the best way to avoid an outcome considered undesirable is to understand the argument that opposing advocates might put forward.

BTW, I don't disagree with your observation that Bobbit's recommended course describes very closely current US policy. The review also describes Bobbit's description of an authoritarian market-state taking those actions in exasperation, which I would also opine describes the current US administration. Is it good? No, but it happens to be what now exists. Can it be changed? I don't know, but I personally did try very hard in 2004 to send the current team packing.

Posted by: PrahaPartizan | Mar 9 2006 15:07 utc | 61


in the end, the Thirty Years' War was about using religious differences as an excuse to implement opposing political agendas, which wound up wiping out around 30% of Germany's population and brought commerce, industry and public life to a standstill. Sound familiar?

Remember all those evil wolves from the Brothers Grimmm stories? Most of them originated back then because there was a boom in the wolf population following the war. They had just expanded to fill the niche left after thier chief competitor wiped itself out in vast areas.

A student in a tour group I was leading once asked me "Did the war really last thirty years?" I explained that they probably never intended for it to do so, but once these things get started, they often get out of hand...

Posted by: ralphieboy | Mar 9 2006 17:58 utc | 62

Very pretty old city, Ralph.

I googled it.

For anybody else who's interested:


Posted by: Groucho | Mar 9 2006 18:53 utc | 63

It is a small world Ralphie,

My son is attending ISLI at Oberweser this week. Whodathunkit?

Posted by: dan of steele | Mar 9 2006 19:18 utc | 64

Yes, it is a small world: my wife & I translated the Bacharach website into English.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Mar 9 2006 20:05 utc | 65

Dang, I really wanted to be around for this thread, but better late than never:

The news lately is more and more convincing that the United States Congress can properly be considered a premier corporate center of power. How? Consider these laws/bills destroy the power of governments to protect their citizens. Laws such as HAVA are anti-citizen and anti-state insofar as their key effects are to eliminate the ability of individual public servants to actually serve the people who are still, at his point, their legal bosses.

Where is the corporate center? Not in any particular company, but actually structured into our process of electing and controlling politicians.

Posted by: citizen | Mar 10 2006 17:50 utc | 66


no candidate for national office can afford to campaign without corporate contributions, that's where and when the deals are made.

And that is why campaign reform makes a good talking point but will never come about except as some superficial farce.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Mar 10 2006 21:20 utc | 67

This is not about begging the legislature to crumb us off with campaign finance 'reform'.

It is about knowing where we stand, and not pretending that the old words still describe the politics we must practice.

I think it's worth noting that we face, in our elected legislatures, the main domestic corporate center. Not "corrupt" center, corporate center.

Posted by: citizen | Mar 10 2006 22:28 utc | 68

A little more evidence of how the corporate center has constructed its periphery:

By the turn of the century, America's new educrats were pushing a new form of schooling with a new mission (and it wasn't to teach). The famous philosopher and educator John Dewey wrote in 1897:

Every teacher should realize he is a social servant set apart for the maintenance of the proper social order and the securing of the right social growth.

In his 1905 dissertation for Columbia Teachers College, Elwood Cubberlyムthe future Dean of Education at Stanfordムwrote that schools should be factories "in which raw products, children, are to be shaped and formed into finished products...manufactured like nails, and the specifications for manufacturing will come from government and industry."

The Memory Hole has reposted its very useful report of how the education system was designed very much along the lines of the recent laws on health insurance, voting, etc. were written to allow the higher up government structures to prevent progressive locales from creating actual democrat citizens of the trouble-making kind (oh yes, it was sort of radical there in the States round about a century ago)

Posted by: citizen | Mar 11 2006 2:19 utc | 69

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