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Eastside, Westside, All Around the Globe

Capitalism’s Apocalypse/IMF Triumphalism

by NORMAN POLLACK

Ukraine is a pain in the ( world’s) ass at the moment, except that we’re used to creating subterfuges for expanding America’s global hegemony. That has been a unifying tendency in US politics, a bipartisan foreign policy knowingly in support of dictatorships wholly compliant, solicitous of American interests. Near-unanimity on war and counterrevolution abroad, and its corollary, near-unanimous acceptance of capitalism at home (not just capitalism, but its specific hierarchical form of heavily skewed wealth-and-power distribution, monopolistic organization, deregulation, social-control mechanisms inhering in the ideological confluence of Exceptionalism, permanent war, and supposed classless Innocence) allows for seeming differences on domestic public policy and cultural issues. It’s hard to hate a fellow Imperialist when disagreements arise over health care, voting rights, abortion, merely points of conflict wherein the parties jockey for space to see who can be more expansionist, aggressive, bloodthirsty in international politics and economics. We are all Americans (!) when it comes to massive surveillance, the morality and efficacy of targeted assassination, humongous military appropriations, with cultural issues such as gay rights welcome distractions by a bipartisan leadership from questioning the fundamental Authority of corporate-military elites buttressing US-inspired World Order.

Ukraine, presumably messy in sorting out from a geostrategic standpoint, is a blessing, not in disguise, but, for America, the next best thing to the Soviet break-up, now, hopefully, to be carried further via a direct entry to the Russian border. NATO leaders are salivating at the Crimean crisis for what it portends in bringing forces right to Russia’s borders, troops, missiles, all—the idealized American paradigm of global outreach which NATO was intended to serve. “Friends and allies” is a wondrous phenomenon by which to mount interventions, somehow hiding the fulfillment of a US-guided reshaping of the global structure to ensure its ideological-military dominance, as itself a stabilizing context for its commercial-financial supremacy (industrialism, leave to others, so long as remaining a source of profits in foreign operations). In the case of Ukraine, the bridge to confrontation has been worth the pre-planning, the financial assistance to NGOs and fascist groups promising disruption in order for a temporary vacuum to be filled and therefore now making possible, as part of the anti-Russian posture, the imposition of IMF ground-rules on a benighted country (probably an equally important objective in its own right), appears to have succeeded, at least in stirring up public opinion fueling a more explicit return to the Cold War.

Ukraine joins the ranks of Western tributaries, whether or not NATO membership follows; for it is doing its part in the envelopment of Eastern Europe within a US-sponsored framework to preserve the status of an American-Western European system of global hegemony threatened by its own atrophic condition and solipsistic dreams of grandeur. The world is changing; the US is clutching at straws, Ukraine being merely the latest one. It does not have to be this way. There is nothing deterministic about a formation’s decline, for even capitalism, democratically-organized, still could have some good years to its reign. But this all-consuming militarism is, of course, tugging in the opposite direction. Scream defiance all one wants against Putin and Russia (and China, Brazil, and others standing in the background, as wanting and deserving recognition of the right to autonomous growth, however different from the Washington Consensus), but unless the US-EU power-center undergoes severe re-structuring, highly unlikely, or graciously conducts its own structural-political decline, equally unlikely, the world will see more Ukraines, more crises, more counterrevolution (ultimately, to no avail), and, as if governed by an irresistible death instinct—capitalism or die!—a somewhat bleak future.

My New York Times Comments, editorial, “Russia and the G-8,” (March 20), and Steven Erlanger and Andrew Kramer’s article, “Tempered Cheers in Ukraine for the Ex-Premier [Tymoshenko], Tied to Political Past,” same date, as is my Comment, follows:

I
Superbly put: “the West to demonstrate common purpose….G-8 minus-1 meeting…can do a better job…against Mr. Putin’s arrogance and contempt for international law.” Such law=market fundamentalism, privatization, a coalition of capitalist powers collectively seeking global dominance, not satisfied until Russia and China (despite their own capitalist features) and emerging Latin American radicalism are contained, eliminated as rival power-centers, with the US orchestrating its own supremacy.

That the G-8 would include Italy and exclude China shows an Europe-centric (under US wings) power coalition, not economic oriented so much as a world military orientation with NATO, not Putin’s Russia, gobbling up nations and territories. The Times laments European disarray, when in reality that reveals some remaining sanity in not breathlessly rushing toward global war.
Be careful whom and what you oppose. Your condescending remark that by the grace of capitalist hegemony Russia was even admitted into the UN Security Council shows a one-sided depiction of international order. Yes, roll back Russia with US-NATO forces on its border; yes, implicitly ratify Obama’s Pacific-first strategy to isolate and weaken China. Verily, The Times is back to 1950, dancing on the edges of Apocalypse.

All for what? Markets, military supremacy, celebration of toughness and credibility–a dismal picture of the psychopathology of conquest, even capitalism less important than WAR for its own sake!

II
For the likes of Tymoshenko, is it worth flirting with global conflagration. From this acount, Ukraine is one holy mess, replete with its share of oligarchs, not to mention, beyond the Fatherland Party a full complement of Nazi-sympathizers, now in high office, and the widespread influence of Svoboda and Right Sector. In all of this, The Times, as in today’s editorial, resembles the Hearst press of 1898, inciting to conflict–and still not, in reporting and editorials, admitting the fact of a COUP, and further, the extreme Rightist complexion of principal actors, whose anti-Semitism, among other signs of fascism, is well-documented.

Tymoshenko reminds me of Hillary, instead of a gas princess, with remarkable political adaptativness, a war-toughness princess, also attuned to power (almost an end in itself), in both cases thoroughly at home in the company of oligarchs. Frankly, why permit Ukraine the pivotal role in US-EU-IMF-NATO geopolitical strategy in a face-off with Russia? The US has collaborated with enough disreputable leaders–Pinochet comes to mind–in furtherance of its global aspirations. Is there no way to break the pattern?

American Exceptionalism is since World War II cover and refuge for questionable figures knee-deep in the abrogation of the rule of law. Apparently, anything goes in the self-proclaimed guardianship of freedom in the world, Ukraine the updating of Nationalist China under Chiang Kai-shek, Cuba under Batista, etc. Hardly worth supporting.

Norman Pollack has written on Populism. His interests are social theory and the structural analysis of capitalism and fascism. He can be reached at pollackn@msu.edu.