All posts by Cain


Over at Chaos Marxism, a cunning plan has been hatched.

I’m down with this.  God knows, all I do every day is read political theory texts and blogs anyway, it would be nice to engage myself somewhat more critically with the whole process.  I have also been taking notes from TV Tropes, for my own attempts of fiction, once I start writing fiction again (in between searching for jobs, reading, blogging and contributing to several internet fora – sooner or later, something will give, most probably me).  Should those come to fruition, I’ll probably spend days getting people to read them, so no doubt you will all know when it happens.

Anyway, I know a couple of peeps from PD, such as Cramulus, have also expressed potential interest in this project, and board members always have tons of hosting space lying around, doing nothing (for some bizarre reason).  Hopefully, enough people will register interest to get a viable site going once I get to pitch the idea to the members.  Worst comes to worst, I’ll dump the ideas on a free blog until someone less in debt and more technically competent than me gets a Wiki on the project started.

Edit: NlhasdAJHLgkgli.  Seriously, that’s what the inside of my head feel’s like.  I tried, but my mind is so fried right now I can’t express myself the way I want.  I need a proper night’s sleep.

Robert Gilpin on hegemonies and economic crises

I was reading Fifty Key Thinkers on International Relations earlier this week and ran across this interesting quote:

Essentially, Gilpin believes that all hegemonies are transient because the costs of maintaining them rise more quickly than the resources available to do so. On the one hand, the hegemon is unable to prevent the diffusion of its economic skills and technique to other states. On the other hand, the hegemon must confront the rising expectations of its own citizens. Over time, they will privilege consumption over production and resist further sacrifices in order to maintain the supremacy of the hegemon on the international stage. The combination of internal and external factors leads to what Gilpin calls ‘a severe fiscal crisis’ for the hegemon.

It then has a limited choice of options. If it wishes to maintain its power, it can either confront its internal obstacles and reverse the tendency towards complacency, or it can attack rising powers before they mount a challenge of their own. Alternatively, it can seek to reduce its overseas commitments and promote strategic alliances with other states. Gilpin illustrates the former with reference to imperial China, while in the 1930s, Britain attempted the latter course of action. Gilpin is sceptical about the lessons of history, however. While each of these options has been pursued with varying degrees of success in the past, neither has been able to prevent the onset of war to resolve the disequilibrium of global power. In the late twentieth century, such a conclusion raises urgent questions about contemporary stability in the international system and the need to discover means other than war for managing the process of change, as the next ‘systemic’ war is likely to be the last in the context of nuclear weapons.

Now, while this is unsettling reading, I don’t actually think it applies in this case, for one particular reason.  Namely, under current conditions, the economic crisis is globalized.  While the USA is indeed suffering, other nations who could become peer competitors to the US have been hit just as hard, if not harder.  And as we know, a broad economic base is essential to build the military muscle necessary to leap to hegemon status.

However, should one of those potential peer competitor nations recover while the US is still mired in trouble…when then there could be a real recipe for trouble.  It doesn’t seem likely, but it should not be discounted.

Some might suggest this analysis may be too state centric, however I very much doubt any of the current 4GW using organizations either have the capacity to create nuclear weapons in sufficient quantity, or the manpower and economic muscle to fight anything more than a guerrilla war.  In a systemic conflict, such groups would be wiped out with extreme prejudice.

Burn baby burn

Increasing complex systems have a tendency to collapse in more catastrophic ways.  Hence, when George Soros and Nassim Nicholas Taleb say that this economic crisis will be worse than the Great Depression, I am not surprised at their appraisal.

However, what does a Depression actually mean, in our current socio-political economic condition?  No doubt, circumstances across those three areas of analysis do differ from the 1930s and so we have to ask ourselves, what does that mean for us?  The only viable mass movements of the moment seem to be, at least in the American contexts, religious ones.  In the UK, I don’t think even that is possible.  While I think the worries about fascism, at least in parts of the Third World, are valid, platforms explicit about such a program are rejected, and not just because of the negative connotations of such labels.

And how will the internet affect such a Depression, as well?  Will we see spontaneous protests, or even peaceful urban takedowns, orchestrated via Facebook and Twitter?  Or will the net become a talking shop, the modern day equivalent of a soapbox, where gripes and despair about our current conditon are aired but little else is actually done?

Obviously, my thoughts turn to recent graduates and attempts to get jobs, for personal reasons.  Will unemployment and the lack of prospects lead to, as it did in Italy in the 60s, a militant intellectual movement who felt they had more in common with the proletariat than their (usually) middle class backgrounds?  Or could it breed a new class of cosmopolitan guerrilla entrepreneur, an anti-Davos man if you will.

I could really do with a team of sociologists and cultural theorists right now.

Just a friendly reminder

Guantanamo and Camp X-Ray do not equal all American operated black sites


The Justice Department ruled that some 600 so-called enemy combatants at Bagram have no constitutional rights.

As I have suggested before, the Bush administration’s great crime was not its rampant criminality and disregard for others, it was that all this was obvious, and they broke the fourth wall of politics with great regularity.  Obama’s is much superior at playing the game while keeping the pretence up.  I still suspect the new crew is not as criminal as Bush, but, well…

John Frusciante’s new album

Is really good.  No, really good.  Might even be better than To Record Only Water for Ten Days, which I always thought was his best solo work.  It takes a bit to get into it, but when I did, I found myself really enjoying it. That’s all, no review or anything else, just a recommendation as to what I’m digging currently.  Via Youtube, here is the track Central.

Panic! at the economic disco

Just a short economic roundup:

Japan’s economy is going down the tubes at the fastest rate in 35 years.

Ireland could default.

Keep an eye on Eastern Europe (yes, I know the Telegraph are apocalyptic enough as it is, but hysteria aside, there are valid concerns about the state of the region)

China’s recovery may be riding on the back of sham loans

Kansas is having money trouble

Collateralized Loan Obligations could be next financial black swan.

Santander has liquidity issues.

In summation, things don’t look too good.  More and more, I find myself agreeing with John Robb, even when I actively try not to.