cj,rn> * RKM’s 2001 Manifesto *


Richard Moore

1/4/2001, Richard N Hutchinson wrote to WSN:
    > How about this, comrade -- why don't you *summarize* what
    you see as the main points of your distinctive perspective
    on capitalist globalization and how to combat it in a
    *short* post?  That way we can have at it on the central
    issues, and not get off on tangents about Iran and so
      > You can call it "RKM's 2001 Manifesto," or "Why
    World-System Theory Has It All Wrong," or something suitably

Dear Richard H. et al,

As for 'shortness', we must alas observe the dictum of Albert 
Einstein: "Make it as simple as possible, but no simpler."

here you are,


                        RKM's 2001 Manifesto

Evolution, models, and episodic events
When biological evolution was first discovered, everyone
assumed that it was a UNIFORM, gradualist process.  Only
later did we learn that speciation is primarily EPISODIC. In
the 90 million years of the Cambrian period, for example,
all current life-form structures were developed, and since
then natural biological evolution has proceeded within that
framework.   Another episodic event was the development of
herding and agriculture.  At that point the 'evolution' of
corn, wheat, sheep, cattle, etc., was superceded by human
intervention, and in 10,000 years we've seen more changes in
those species and their distribution than occurred in the
previous million years.

If one wants to understand how cattle or wheat are
distributed over the Earth today, one needs models that take
into account human population and diet patterns - models
about natural evolution and migration patterns, applied to
domesticated species, are of no value.

The evolution of human societies has been similarly
episodic.  The models that apply to hunter-gatherer
societies are fundamentally different than the models that
apply to agricultural societies.  With hunter-gatherers, the
primary factors are the distribution of naturally-occuring
food sources, and the development of some simple tools.  In
settled agricultural societies, with their storable
surpluses, political and economic structures become of
primary interest, and technological developments play a more
central and dynamic role.

The rise of the West as an episodic event
I suggest that the rise of the West since 1492 has been
another episodic event, and here I disagree with the
discussions that have arisen from Gudner's "ReORIENT", to
the effect that we might experience the rise of a dominant

He points out a 'dynamism' in Asian culture which, according
to the process of natural societal competition, could be
expected to lead to Asia overtaking the West.  I don't
dispute the existence of the dynamism, nor do I disupte that
natural societal competition might shift power to Asia. 
What I claim is that the natural process of societal
competition has been pre-empted by a different process: the
intentional management of global affairs by an entrenched
Western power structure, backed by an always war-ready
military apparatus.

This is exemplified very clearly by two specific historical
episodes: the Opium War and World War II.  Before the Opium
War, China was depleting British gold reserves due to the
tea trade.  The economic dynamism of China, so to speak, was
succeeding in promoting China's relative economic
position.  But that dynamism was pre-empted by an
intentional Western intervention, compelling the importation
of Opium, and all at once the balance of payments shifted
the other way.  China ended up being imperialized by the
West, despite its inherent dynamism, immense resources, and
large population.

In the 1930s, Asian dynamism was again demonstrated by
Japanese industrialization and expansionism.  Japan, with
their Co-Prosperity Sphere, might well have become the
world's dominant power.  The only thing that prevented that
was a specific Western intervention, in the form of World
War II.

Currently China is rising up, and the U.S. is systematically
preparing yet another military adventure to reassert Western
supremacy.  That's what the missile defense system, the
emerging Space Command, and Colin Powell's appointment are
all about.  Bush's new administration is packed with CFR
members, and you can understand CFR thinking about China by
looking back over past issues of Foreign Affairs.  They
debate 'engagement' vs 'confrontation', but always in
service of a single premise: China cannot be allowed to
become an Asian hegemon - not now or ever.

The domestication of societal evolution
If one wants to understand where global society is headed,
and what variations might be expected, one needs to use
models that take into account the nature of the Western
power structure, its motivations and intentions, and its
available strategies and tactics.

Western power has now superceded other evolutionary forces,
in the same way that agriculture superceded the natural
evolutionary process of corn and cattle.  Indeed we could
say that the Western regime has 'domesticated' global
society.  Just as a herder might cull an undesirable bull
from the herd, so the regime culls Chile, Nicaragua, Iraq,
and Yugoslavia (politically), and the Southeast Asian Tigers

Whatever cycles and forces that world-system analysis holds
dear, and regardless of how well they have modelled the
past, they have been superceded by a particular Western
power-center that has the ability to destroy utterly any
nation on Earth at any time, and which has established a
global financial / credit system that can make or break any
local economy at will.  The older evolutionary forces still
operate, just as random gene variations continue to occur in
cattle - but in neither case can this succeed in undermining
the dominance of the regime.  As soon as 'undesirable'
changes begin to cause a 'problem', they are culled.

Overcoming the global regime
What this anaylsis suggests is that our ongoing bondage, and
the continued deterioration of the world, cannot be expected
to change until the regime is confronted directly and
successfully by some new agent acting outside the
constraints of the current paradigm.  That new agent, I
suggest, can only be a massive, global, grass-roots movement
whose express purpose is overcoming the regime and replacing
it with a fundamentally different world system, both
politically and economically.  That movement must succeed
particularly in the West, and specifically in the USA.

The analysis suggests that all activists, academics,
writers, and organizers who wish to 'do something' about the
state of the world will need to orient their endeavors
around the problems of creating the necessary movement, and
informing the movement so as to enable a satisfactory
outcome.  Reform efforts and political intiatives which do
not harmonize in some way with the development of such a
movement are part of the problem and not part of the

The movement will face two equally momentous problems. 
First, is the problem of overcoming the entrenched power of
the regime.  The second problem - once the regime is
dethroned - is to deal with the deteriorated state of the
world economy and ecosystem, and to establish the
foundations of a system that can last, which provides decent
human societies, and which can serve the needs of humanity
within the hard constraints of a finite ecosystem.

The creation of the movement also faces some major obstacles.
In particular, the challenge of constructing a
post-capitalist society make recruitment difficult.  Even
those who don't like what capitalism is doing have little
interest in bringing down the current regime - if chaos and
mass starvation might be the outcome.  For this reason, the
development of a comprehensive movement agenda is of primary
urgency at this time.  We need to develop a consensus agenda
for a post-capitalist world, and that needs to be an agenda
which can appeal to the full cross-section of the world's
population, and particularly the populations of the West.  
Without such an agenda, and a scheme for dealing with the
transition from capitalism, the movement can never grow
beyond a fringe who are willing to act on a merely 'anti
neoliberal' platform.

Section 2.b of the Guidebook, soon to be posted, is called
"Fundamental principles of a livable world", and represents
my own humble attempt to draft an outline for the necessary
movement agenda.  Perhaps members of this list might choose
to break their 'Guidebook silence' and offer some feedback
on this particular section.

sorry if there are 'too many notes',