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<nettime> Re: There is no America and Europe
Brian Holmes on Tue, 11 Mar 2003 19:22:19 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> Re: There is no America and Europe


This text by Bifo - INTERNATIONAL FUTURE HUMANITY - is very good, it 
has already been circulating in France on the Multitudes list, and I 
thank Tiziana and whoever translated it to English, if indeed it was 
someone else. In this case, I agree with almost all of Bifo's points.

Basically I think that what we are seeing now is a rift within 
Empire. As I already said in the text, "We Plebeians."

But a rift does not necessarily mean a division into two blocs, with 
a European bloc emerging to claim a kind of social-democratic 
legitimacy, against an American bloc that claims sovereignty through 
military might. This would be the worst of outcomes. The rift that is 
opening up now is one between the essential and opposed dynamics of 
globalization: sovereign control and constituent power.

The European bloc has no legitimacy. It is in desperate lack of 
legitimacy. Bifo asks: "Can we consider the great Europe [I think 
that means "greater Europe," after enlargement], the Europe of the 
national states and of the powerful financial capital, as a force 
that is capable of imposing respect for human rights?" The answer is 
no. The Europe that has been planned from the top down over the last 
20 years, and increasingly since Maastricht, has become a distorted 
reflection of NAFTA, a figure shaped by the kind of corporate 
cooperation-in-rivalry which has been the very definition of 
globalization as a state-capitalist project. Even if the current 
assertion of European difference by France and Germany were to 
succeed in recomposing Europe around these two strategically 
partnered nations and their "vision of the world," what would that 
bring? A European hierarchy in which the established social lobbies 
within the large core states (I mean, the big corporations, major 
trade unions and state and military bureaucrats) impose their 
priorities on the whole, creating a semblance of social democracy for 
a limited sector of the working population, and a control regime of 
exploitation and exclusion for the majority, especially those on the 
European fringes (but you have to realize that the same kind of 
inclusion/exclusion hierarchy gets reiterated in the centers too - 
'cause that's where it's invented). The racism that Are Flanagan 
describes in his post (The Race for War) is the natural extreme of 
the inclusion/exclusion logic, which is at the very center of 
capitalism. And this is obviously a dead-end future, because it will 
lead further down the road of inequality and violence that has 
brought us to the present moment.

I think that many, many people in and around the European region and 
throughout the world are aware of this, and we have to make it clear: 
the resistance to the Irak war is founded on resistance to the deadly 
dynamics of a profiteering world system, one that pays no attention 
to problems of human development, a system that has exclusion as its 
norm, and therefore only has military solutions to offer when 
societies start to collapse. Europe must be transformed, it must be 
shaken to the roots by a constituent movement that replaces the 
priorities of money and competition with those of human development, 
ecological sustainability, world solidarity.

It's clear to me that Bush's policy is itself an attempt at a 
military solution to the problems of American society. Bush wants to 
get re-elected in a situation where the economy is in a shambles and 
the pressure on society due to unemployment, alienation and fear, is 
rising. Bush and his crowd think they can cover up this crisis by 
terrorizing Americans through the manipulation of the media, then 
mobilizing their terror into the forms of superpatriotism and 
military discipline. Bifo is totally right when he says that the 
resistance movement within the USA is going to be the key to the 
future of the world. If ever Americans "reelect" the "president" - 
who wasn't even "elected" the first time - then it looks like history 
repeats itself, and we're going to have something like the 1930s to 
look forward to.

But I think Americans will reject Bush, as they rejected his father, 
no less ugly and warlike than himself. More Americans are refusing 
his policies every day. And I think the English will massively reject 
Blair if he goes to war without any kind of mandate, and they will 
make it politically impossible for any such usurpation of democracy 
to ever happen again, because we're going to see more people on the 
streets, more people taking principled positions at every level of 
society, than ever before. People in America will do this at least 
partially because they do not want to live in a bloc going it alone, 
just as no sane person in Europe wants to live in a world of rival 
blocs and military solutions. That's what we're protesting against.

I think that the worldwide peace movement, plus the dissolution or at 
least the severe strain of the old alliances (NATO, UN, 
Anglo-American special relationship, etc) could possibly force a rift 
in Empire. That means a rift between globalization as a Euro-American 
project in the service of capital, on the one hand, and globalization 
as the constituent movement of the world's populations realizing 
their interconnectedness and interdependence, on the other. It 
doesn't necessarily mean that the world is going to retreat into 
nationalisms of any kind (countries or blocs). That's the worst 
outcome. The world has to find a way of living together, first to get 
through the economic crisis that's happening right now, then to get 
through all the other intense threats on the near horizon 
(ecological, military, social). To do this there has to be much more 
legitimacy, much more reciprocity and real solidarity than there is 
in world affairs right now, which were dominated in the 90s by the 
transnational coprate agenda, and now are on the verge of being 
dominated by a nationalist/regional bloc agenda. But the seeds of 
that reciprocity and solidarity are in germ right now - not at the 
power-play level of national strategies and European statescraft, but 
in the unprecedented mobilization and coordination of people around 
the world who simply refuse the kind of future that is offered by 
this war.

The main thing is this: the war is going to be deadly quick. When it 
happens, protests have to be total. The strength of the protest will 
directly determine the shape of our lives over the next decade.

Brian Holmes

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