cj#668> A personal World-System perspective


Richard Moore

A World System (WS) can be either non-existent, anarchistic or
hierarchical.  Up until the fifteenth century or so, we had a non-existent
WS, due, if for no other reason, to limitations in communications and
logistics.  Since that time, a de facto anarchistic WS has evolved - based
on nation states, imperialism, warfare, and trade.

Just as capitalist monopolies constitute the natural final-state of an
anarchistic economic system, so political/military monopolies constitute
the natural final-state of an anarchistic political system.  Thus over the
past few centuries, as technology has been knitting a global
infrastructure, we've seen ever larger empires vying for dominance.

At the end of WW II, we finally reached the stage where a single
nation-state had achieved an effective near-monopoly of political/military
power (cold-war propaganda notwithstanding).

When a system reaches its final state, that state may be stable or
unstable.  If it is stable (eg  ancient Inca and Egypt?), then that system
may persist until outside events intervene.  But if it is unstable, then
the result will be either degeneration/fragmentation or else the birth of a
new organizing principle - a principle strong enough to bind together the
elements brought together by the predecessor system - but a principle that
adds greater stability.

Within the context of the anarchistic nation-state WS, the
all-but-implemented final-state would be a Global Imperial America.  But if
such were to be formally instituted, it would be highly unstable.  Uncle
Sam trying to rule a traditionally-structured world empire would make
Vietnam look like a Sunday picnic.

It is a tribute to the acumen (I didn't say widsom) of our
behind-the-scenes world leaders that they were well aware of this
final-state instability, and that they took effective steps to institute a
new organizing principle.

Preparations began during WW II (FDR & Churchill's United Nations
Declaration) for the first-ever hierarchical WS.  Since that time, by means
(both overt and covert) of treaty arrangements, economic/political
pressures, and military interventions, the US has guided/coerced the world
into its current globalization phase.

Globalization brings the necessary new organizing principle, a principle
stable enough to create and maintain a new global order - at least for a
while.  The new principle is capitalist/corporate hegemony, and the
infrastructure which supports it is the collection of transnational
corporations (TNCs), with their astronomical resources and control of the
global economy.

To a large extent, the TNCs already ARE the World System.  They operate
globally, they directly control much of the world's economic activity, and
they've put together a set of mechanisms (GATT, WTO, etc.) that regulates,
on a harmonious representative basis, the rules of their collective game.

Globalization is the yielding of political sovereignty to this proven
corporate system - acknowledging that competitive nation-states have
evolved themselves into a historical cul de sac.  If the corporations can
keep the WS trains running, so to speak, that seems preferable to the
uncertain future of nation-state political developments.

The price to be paid, disenfranchisement and exploitation of the citizenry,
is not clearly marked on the price tag of globalization.  As the price
becomes widely evident - as it already is in the Third World - instability
will arise from citizen unrest.

Police-state structures are being rapidly implemented to contain such
unrest in the First World, and have already been deployed in the Third
World.  Meanwhile, the soporific mind-control mass media carries the
primary burden of population control.  The mid-term stability of this
semi-fascist WS remains to be proven, but widespread precedents indicate
considerable stability potential.

The long-term source of coporate-WS instability relates more to Marxian
contradictions - growth can't go on forever - than it does to the inability
of modern political mechanisms to keep people under control.  When a few
corporations have swallowed up all the others (ala Rollerball or Blade
Runner) then yet another final-state will have been reached.

Comments welcome.

Query: Are there any other candidate organizing principles for a
post-nation-state/imperial WS?  Must any such be necessarily hierarchical?

Posted by Richard K. Moore - •••@••.••• - PO Box 26   Wexford, Ireland
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