Brian Holmes on Sat, 3 Jun 2017 19:12:27 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> merkel, macron: europe on its own

On 06/02/2017 03:39 AM, Keith Hart wrote:
It is foolish to bracket the US and Russia together, even
rhetorically, just because right now they share autocratic leaders
of unequal weight. The American empire, for all its recent political
mismanagement, is alive and strong: with its share of the world
market, all those weapons and bases, the world currency (even more at
times of radical uncertainty) and the content, hardware, software and
giant firms of the internet economy which is fast becoming the world
economy. The US is still signing up small (and some large) countries
for TRIPS, the intellectual property treaty, while signing bilateral
treaties with each exempting American citizens from future prosecution
for war crimes.

Well, you are right about how things stand in the present and your sobriety is well warranted. But tremendous cracks have opened up in the legitimacy of US domestic and global governance, and even more, in its very coherency, and in the rationality of state on which the power to govern is founded. The rather panicked attacks on Trump from within the corporate establishment, the federal bureaucracy and particularly the intelligence services all convey a deep sense that the basis of the postwar global order has been shaken. As far as I can tell, that feeling is widely shared among elites both US and foreign. The only time something even vaguely comparable happened in my lifetime, with Nixon, he was soon out, rejected by a system which was threatened by the president's drift toward an autocratic, arbitrary esercise of power.. But now it is not just Trump, it's not just an individual or a limited power bloc that is at issue: the incoherent, short-sighted, hip-shooting approach to political power has spread throughout the Tea Party Republicans. The splits in civil society are far deeper than those that had been opened up by Barry Goldwater and his followers back in the 1960s, there is no longer any cross-party hegemony comparable to that formerly exercised through the Council on Foreign Relations, the relative subordination of the military to the executive and legislative branches is becoming uncertain, in short, it's a major crisis in the reason of state. The imperial order whose functions you describe, Keith, is vacillating. It's true that this does not mean that it will simply be replaced by another kind of order, anchored in a different geopolitical structure such as the emergent Sino-German partnership. Instead we may see chaotic events, sudden lurches in diplomatic postures and military balances, even civil unrest on the domestic level, driven for example by armed right-wing extremists in tacit collaboration with police forces and elements of Homeland Security. The unthinkable is becoming fearfully possible. People in the United States, including very mainstream types, are suddenly afraid of the consequences of a kind of breakdown that we have not ever seen before. That is the truly sobering thing. The imperial order with all its grim strengths will not necessarily unravel. But I think one does have to contemplate the possibility that it could. And it is, indeed, in that gap that a new global hegemony might emerge.

But at what price? No one has an answer to that question.

best, Brian

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