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(en) 'Aporia', new journal, The Latest State of Emergency: War Without Ideology

From dr.woooo@nomasters.org
Date Wed, 2 Apr 2003 11:18:04 +0200 (CEST)


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> Below is an Essay from new journal 'Aporia' followed by
information on the magazine.
The Latest State of Emergency: War Without Ideology by Z. Dochterman
Inside Empire //aporiajournal.tripod.com

America, since the fall of the Soviet Union, finds itself in a new
ideological and political position. As victor of the Cold War, the
American ideology of neo-liberalism appears momentarily
vindicated. America, along with its European allies in France,
Spain, Italy, and Austria have induced a global shift away from
state control, social services, and the traditional welfare state.
The Asian miracle of the 80's proved the value of privitization,
even if later experiments in Argentina and Brazil have proved
less effective. Beginning with the Persian Gulf War, and running
a course through Haiti, and the former republics of Yugoslavia,
America assumed the role of global watchdog of human rights
violaters. The Clinton years showed a fair amount of multilateral
engagement with allies, negotiation, and compromise. With the
help of other members of the United Nations, the American
agenda moved along with little hinderance. Thus, the years
following the fall of the Soviet Union saw th
e!
spread of American control into regions formerly under the
control of Moscow (Eastern Europe) or relatively split by the
bipolar struggle (the Middle East). What is unique in the current
situation is that America, rather than advancing its own
nationalist agenda, its own ideological reigme, operates as the
vehicle of two larger purposes: the free reign of capital (which
destroys national boundaries) and the spread of "universal
values", of human rights. By linking itself to the agents of the
global economy such as the W.T.O., the World Bank, America
assures the destruction of national, regional barriers to trade. By
dominating the workings of the United Nations, America acts in
the name of a universality that exceeds its particular
geo-political interests. It is the latter movement that I wish to
trace.

Human Rights and Force

What makes our position different from one before the fall of the
Soviet Union? I would suggest that the U.N. can now in an
unprecedented way carry out war from beyond the scope of
particularized interests and speak in the name of a supposed
universality. Such was not the case during the cold war and the
split between communist and capitalist powers. For the
ideological divide that made one country's "human rights"
another country's bourgeois ideology used to legitimize capital,
has been destroyed. In the Iraqi war, it is not America's security
which is at stake, nor has the administration truly claimed that
security is the primary concern. It is the potential to violate
human rights, to use chemical weapons, that is at stake. Thus,
human rights discourse is perfectly wedded to the spread of
Western hegemony for the latter acts in its name. By monitoring
the potential of certain states to use chemical, nuclear weapons,
or commit acts which would violate human rights, America
i!
s essentially trying to gear its foreign policy towards
pre-emptively eliminating the outside. Forget the "human rights
violations" induced by the Russian war against the Chechens, the
religious feuding in India/Pakistan and the daily horrors of living
under Israeli occupation. These countriesall fall within the circle
of a respect for the laws of war of commerce; they are more or
less subordinate to U.S. hegemony.

The Just War

In the project, the notion of the just war, which seemed to have
been annihilated by the horrors of World War I and II, returns
with a new unsettling force. For in the domain of Empire,
universal values necessitate the use of force when they have been
impinged upon. The just war upholds the universality of human
rights Ğ war is no longer solely waged in the name of a national
ideological or economic interest. Hence, resistance and support
to the war against Iraq, both in America and in Europe, has been
largely conditional: it depends on what weapons inspectors find,
on whether or not the U.N. supports it, on whether or not the
Iraqi government has lied about its weapons. What both
supporters and most opponents of the war fail to take into
account is the common structure that provides the basis of their
opinion, namely, that there is a necessary causal link between
the violation of human rights and the use of force. This
development has not rearticulated war as moral, but rat!
her, stripped war of any moral ground. Bush's use of the term
"evil" does not make the use of force a "good", but removes it
from the realm of moral judgment and puts it into the realm of
practical necessity. As it becomes more obvious that Iraq has
little or no weapons program to speak of, it becomes more
obvious that such a pretext has little or no importance in a world
of war without justification. The justification, just like a U.N.
resolution, is coating added to the act of war itself.War becomes
"just" rather than "justified"precisely because the new global
structure, most evidently manifest in the U.N., overthrows
national interest with its universalizing project, makes the
question of human rights a question not of if to use force, but by
whom and when. What we are witnessing in the current debates
between the United States and Europe is only a struggle over the
definition of material breaches, violations of human rights, and
threats to security. When these terms are
a!
greed upon (whether with this war or the next), Europe will
undoubtedly be on board for attack because it ascribes to and
partakes in the same universalizing political architecture as
America.

Why the Just War is Not Simply Neo-colonial

America has lost its "civilizing mission", its need to promote and
uphold the values of its liberal democracy and its notion of the
free market in opposition to another social/economic system. As
there is no clear "outside" to capital, as the Soviet Union
provided, America seeks to contain and redirect states that are
resistant to its hegemony. In the case of Iraq, if Amerca's
interests were primarily for oil, lifting the sanctions, as
petrochemical companies have urged the government to do,
would be much more effective. The obvious threat of a "scorched
earth" policy in Iraq in the event of war complicates any notion
that America's intentions are primarily economic. A war with
Iraq threatens to drive up oil prices, introduce further instability
in the Middle East region and create more resentment on the
part of O.P.E.C. members. The American economic agenda is
much more easily advanced by the slow infusion of multinational
corporations onto foreign soil than the 19th century
!
imperialist strategy of military occupation. Since the
decolonization movements of the 50's and 60's, it has been the
spread of capital rather than military presence that has
contributed most strongly to American global domination.
Hence, the inappropriateness of using the "neo-colonial"
metaphor to describe the present order. The Yugoslavian,
Somalian, Haitian, Afghan, and the current Iraqi endevaours
have produced little if any strong economic incentives that might
counterbalance the cost of peacekeeping.When it acts with force,
America acts less and less in its own economic interests. The
Iraq situation does not follow the guidelines of post-60's
development, whereby the strings attached to first world foreign
investmentss and loans alter the structure of a third world state
apparatus so as to make it more beneficial for the free flow of
capital. Factions on the left and right agree, and wall street
shows that war in Iraq will hurt, rather than help the American
economy. A
m!
erica acts in the name of universally agreed upon (e.g. Western)
values, notions of democracy, and above all "human rights". We
might say that its strategy is largely geo-political, with its
national economic interests playing only a secondary and often
paradoxical role.

War in the Absence of Ideology

Since 9/11 the Bush administration has worked hard to show the
interconnection between "human rights violators" and
"terrorists", most explicitly with the dubious links between
Al-Qaida and the Ba'ath regime. The discursive shift that can
equate the Iraqi state and geographically dispersed Al-Qaida
cells under the common banner of "terrorism" results in the shift
of American foreign policy's shift from a politics of expansion to
one of containment. The ultimate aim of the use of force is not
ideological conversion. They despise our freedom was Bush's
message after the attacks on the World Trade Center. No one
who despises freedom can ever be made to accept the ideology of
liberal democracy. America has entered a new phase, a new crisis
of the believable. America has come to find itself incapable of
pointing to a "greater evil" in order to justify the daily terrors of
capital. Before America could justify its political regime as (at
minimum) a lesser evil in relation to the to
t!
alitarian Soviet state. What before America may have achieved
by ideological persuasion (consent) in the form of mass media,
the spread of consumer goods, it now sees as possible only
through the use of force. Both ideologically and politically
isolated, terrorist cells, and countries such as Iraq and North
Korea aim to eliminate American cultural and material
influence. America won the cold war because capital is
pleasurable (for those who benefit from it). Hollywood and
Coca-Cola won the cold war, not Reagan's maniacal nuclear
buildup. In the current historical epoch, the possibility of
"converting" the outside is nil; the use of force is the only choice
left. We will undoubtedly see more of this type of unilateral
action against all that, no matter how insignificant to the
long-term goals of American hegemony, falls outside the norm.
This is war without ideology, war against the pure enemy, to
destroy what is irreconcialably different. And those most
luxuriously insignific
a!
nt figures of the cosmopolitan bourgeoisie, those world-travelling
diplomats of 19th century fame, are now in need of new jobs. The
days of politics are over.

It is likely that in our now-blatant alienation from those who
would supposedly represent us (especially in countries like the
U.S., Spain and England), a new militancy will be born. It will call
into question both the State powers that trample over public
opinion just as much as a U.N. that wants to disarm Iraq, but
says nothing of the sanctions that have killed hundreds of
thousands of Iraqis. This militancy will be one that questions all
such systems of representation and the disastrous effects of any
political agency ("radical", liberal, or Statist) that wrests its
power from us. As in Seattle, perhaps now the stirrings of a new
global force are making themselves heard. It is the stirrings of
this nameless and non-unified multitude that one might call
anarchy, that one might call communism.
end---


The Aporia group is pleased to announce its first issue, now
online at[url]
http://aporiajournal.tripod.com
We are anarchists and anti-state communists who address on a
number of issues
related to the War in Iraq, American foreign policy, the
construction of Empire, globalization, Black Blocs, and the new
configuration of sovereignty. Most if not all of the articles engage
directly with post-structuralist (Foucault, Agamben, Virilio) or
autonomist Marxist (Negri/Hardt) thinkers. Hard copies (60pp.
$2
per copy) can be ordered from aporiajournal@hotmail.com

We hope to spark debate and provide a meeting point for
academic and anarchist discourses in a way that makes them
both more mobile and more dangerous for the present order.

Zen Dochterman
aporiajournal@hotmail.comBack

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