This thread has been fantastically interesting. By launching it, I've somehow come off as an old Stal suffering from reflexive anti-Americanism. Fair enough, I have many difficulties with my home country. But the old Stal part, no.
It should be possible to support the Ukrainians and critique the strategy that informs some of the support. The strategy of alliance-building to maintain a global free trade area is now at least 80 years old - it's the why part of the story, to use the categories David Garcia brought up. The Biden administration has pursued it energetically with an aim to breaking a possible Russia-China axis and maintaining a hegemony incarnated militarily by NATO. Many posts in the thread recognize this clearly. I read the text by Maurizio Lazzarato that Pit sent. It has another list, of all the wars the US has fought since 1989. Those wars, and many others going back to WWII, have not only emboldened the rapacious US corporations, but also saddened and brutalized US society, leaving the country full of angry ex-soldiers who often go to work for the increasingly militarized police. You have all followed the January 6 coup attempt. Pressure from the right now becomes a major factor in the how part of the story, pushing leaders to bellicose actions that support economic agendas. Allan Siegel sent an impressive article by Seymour Hersch on the sabotage of NordStream II, that illustrates this. In the end, if Hersch is right, Republicans representing US gas interests got what they wanted, courtesy of a Navy diving team sent to the Baltic by Joe Biden. Psychic distress is the phrase I used to describe what it's like to live in a society whose intense grassroots egalitarian movements are constantly contradicted by elite capitalist power plays, and by heavily manipulated racist/nationalist passions. Europeans mostly have to think back to the early 20th century to imagine this, see Klaus Theweleit. Since then, the American military has taken over the effort of maintaining European economic positions, while anti-Americanism has mostly exonerated European public intellectuals from thinking about what their own countries do. Like Sean on this list, Lazzarato thinks that unless it's possible to articulate the realistic analysis of war with the agency of proletarian revolution, disaster will ensue. That's true, except for the proletarian part. Capitalist elites definitively overcame the 1917 formula of revolution a long time ago, and appealing to the peasant revolutions of the South, as Maurizio does, offers no redemption. Today, under the pressure of climate change, broader fronts are emerging, which include not only peasant and indigenous struggles, but also metropolitan minorities and, crucially I think, elements of the middle classes who see the looming dead-end of industrial modernism - something that has not been very perceptible to the old working classes. These emergent alliances from below are threatened, not only by the police, but even more, by the paralyzing power of psychic distress that Hans Christian Voigt described so well in his first post. Naivete, and the hope that it will all be fine once the war is over, just don't cut it. Intellectuals need to furnish a realistic, updated analysis of the forces that lead to war - and that profit from war - under the present conditions of global competition and interdependence. Best to all, Brian
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