Ktismatics

6 December 2007

Leninino on National Global Empire

Filed under: Culture — ktismatics @ 10:57 am

Continuing my review of critiques of Hardt & Negri’s Empire, today, again through courtesy of Traxus, there’s THIS POST from the archives of Lenin’s Tomb. Leninino’s (not the “real” Lenin, hence the diminutive) essay addresses the broader issue of nationalism in the global economy, which is only one aspect of H&N’s book. H&N contend that, whereas the USA is the center of Empire’s hegemony and power, the globalization of Empire through international trade and the free movement of capital and labor across boundaries is effacing the importance of separate nations.

Leninino notes that the “state” isn’t a self-explanatory concept. In Weberian liberal terms the state is a mechanism for protecting a particular geographic territory and its people, whereas for Marx the state is a force for securing the ends of the bourgeoisie. In this latter formulation the modern state isn’t merely a means of overcoming obstacles to free trade within and between territories: it serves to reinforce the obstacles separating bourgeoisie from proletariat; it functions as the instrument of an unacknowledged ideology.

Leninino acknowledges the empirical fact that economic activity has become increasingly global, with greater multinational investment in infrastructure, reductions in tariffs and other trade barriers, etc. This isn’t a new trend, L observes — geographical extension has always been part of modern capitalism. But most of this multinational activity still takes place between nations, and especially among those few nations that dominate world capitalism. He cites evidence that firms’ international investments generate lower profit margins than do their domestic investments. Nations also continue to restrict the in-migration of low-wage labor. Whether new state policies serve to release or to restrict trade across national boundaries, they are actions taken at the national level.

“I think it is useful to dispense with the term ‘globalization’,” L. concludes. “Given what has been said, it can be seen as an obfuscatory device with little real referent.” Globalization is a “fiction,” an “ideological construct” that attempts to unify a variety of independent and multidirectional trends. “If [one person] said that globalization was making the poor worse off, while someone else said that it enabled one to communicate with many people of different faiths and backgrounds, they would not be disagreeing because they are speaking of different things.” The former is speaking from the perspective of Marx’s definition of state; the latter, from the liberal definition.

I’m not sure of the implications here. Leninino acknowledges that the economy has been extending itself internationally for a long time. As L. presents it, Marx’s definition of state can be decoupled from nation and its geographic and ethnic connotations, such that the state’s bourgeois empowerment apparatus could go multinational or global without significantly changing its function. Arguing that national interests still dominate multinational exchange seems to support Weber’s liberal definition of state as a mechanism for protecting local interests. Is that the idea: that globalization is a liberal deception intended to seduce people into believing that something like global communism is emerging from multinational capitalism? If so, then why would Marxists want to deny the acknowledged movement toward a horizon dominated by a global bourgeois state? Maybe it’s because a strictly national bourgeois state is easier to topple. Let’s say that Empire is only an American-centered movement that comprises only a handful of nations working in loose collaboration to dominate other nations and the working class. If so, then by thwarting America and its collaborators Empire can be toppled. It’s not a total world hegemony; it’s just a very powerful locality with plenty of external space surrounding it, plenty of opportunities to resist from outside the Empire.

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26 Comments »

  1. Clysmatics, the Commie utopia is a bit like Hocquengheim’s endlessly excitable asshole – looking for an impossible climax. Marxist notions tend to get bogged down in abstraction. Maybe THIS is why God sent a bolt of lightning on Babylonia, and will surely at some point send it on Leninino’s Tomb. At the Parody Center you can witness Leninino unwittingly supporting Albanian jihadist nationalism out of universalist-humanist concerns. But it’s not really his fault – it’s the fault of the Communist utopia.

    It’s a difficult issue…are men or are they not equal… can they become equal or is that only for God to know and resolve…

    Comment by parodycenter — 6 December 2007 @ 1:44 pm

  2. The debate that Leninino talks about here is whether Empire is national or global. I’d think it would be more in keeping with Marx’s view that the capitalist dystopia would be a global bourgeois capitalist Empire rather than an nationalistic one. Hardt & Negri would make an easier target if they were shown to be complicit with this global dystopia, confusing it with a nascent global workers’ utopia.

    Comment by ktismatics — 6 December 2007 @ 2:11 pm

  3. The NEXT ARTICLE on Traxus’ reading list supports Leninino’s position about the persistent nationalism of the dominant capitalist economies, such that most capital investment is concentrated in industrialized countries. L observed that return on investment tends to be higher in 1st world countries vis-a-vis 3rd world. This would seem to be at least part of the reason why capital appears to be a local affair: it makes more money for the shareholders.

    This article also discusses H&N’s emphasis on service/information economy as a reason why capitalism is going global. I don’t see why it should make a huge amount of difference what sort of work people do. E.g., information jobs require advanced education, so there are more candidates for doing these jobs in industrialized countries — so these industries too will appear nationalistic in terms of employment distribution.

    Militarily it’s clear that the US is nationalistic in its capabilities and ambitions. Conservatives have often expressed open disdain for the UN, and protests against the Iraq war around the world only served to reconfirm that in the battle for Good America stands alone. I still question the extent to which the motivation for the war was economic. There are nationalistic urges that can be separated off from the calculated economic pros and cons and that can provoke the People to collective acts of benevolence or revenge. Often the two go hand in hand.

    Comment by ktismatics — 6 December 2007 @ 2:38 pm

  4. We need to define nationalism first. In Marxist cosmology, it seems to automatically have a negative prefix (I don’t know Marxism well enough but could be because of what you designate as Marx identifying it with a burgeois ideology). But there is also a positive nationalism, as in recognizing the cultural contributions and the unique character of your country and seeing it as a part of this intricate web of inter-cultural relations (something that Europa, at least on paper, at least ideally, aspires to), where each unit has an unique position but also contributes to a larger network; I think the EU’s regionalism model is based on such a positive nationalism, hence its protection of minorities and regional cultures.

    The other universalist-multiculturalist model, the United Nations, sounds great on paper as well, but in reality, since it serves the power interest of nationalist entities like the US, it’s just standard Commie hypocrisy. Having been co-created by Tito, it’s actually a large scale version of the old Yugoslavia: nationalism posing as universalism.

    Comment by parodycenter — 6 December 2007 @ 3:19 pm

  5. Dad I went to Code Poetics Inconnu with the best intentions and following your recommendation at the Parody Oscar nominations, and this is what I got in response:

    You really are deeply strange, Dejan. I don’t know about this blogrolling business; the parody stuff, bizarre as it is, I don’t mind and have even been quite amused by from time to time, but you’re mistaken if you think I’m the least bit sympathetic to Bosnian genocide denial – either yours or Chabert’s, which in its own way is equally deranged. (In the interests of warding off an inevitably tiresome and unproductive slanging match, I hereby undertake to read something meaty and factual by Chomsky on the subject, on the condition that you personally don’t start going on at me about it. If you even start, I’ll just delete you – delete, delete and delete again, as Stalin would have said if his sphere of totalitarian authority had extended no further than the comments section of a lousy weblog).

    You may poop on Zizek all you like – after all, it only enhances his mystique, which I can here reveal is a spray-on pheromone called “Publicity’s Secret” – but don’t expect me to find the racist-misogynist-masculinist raillery at the ProddyCentre particularly endearing, even if it is ultimately just the puerile snickering of a pair of misanthropic queens and no more dangerous than that. As hilarious as it is to see the likes of Hollowentry getting up in arms about your bullshit…it’s still bullshit, and it still stinks.

    Comment by parodycenter — 6 December 2007 @ 4:51 pm

  6. See? That remark about the “sorry parade of solecisms” directed toward the PoMo evangelical theologian wasn’t just a fluke. Did you ask him why you’re not on his blogroll?

    Comment by ktismatics — 6 December 2007 @ 5:03 pm

  7. He finds me just as racist, masculinist, mysoginist and WEIRD as he does Chabert (there is an implication of him as a thoroughly enlightened Leftian-Oxford elitist queen, but that’s beside the point), although he admits his nerdy perversity in frequently enjoying the Parody Center’s puerile anal shenanigans and concludes with a homophobic statement (me and Jonquille as a pair of misanthropic old queens). I responded in kind, but feel that you have misguided me in this instance, dad.

    Comment by parodycenter — 6 December 2007 @ 5:13 pm

  8. Desolee, monsieur.

    Comment by ktismatics — 6 December 2007 @ 5:21 pm

  9. ‘Desolee, monsieur.’

    What a pretentious Babbitty sort of response to something largely your fault, Clysmatics. Dejan, he is not succeeding in being your dad anymore, but rather a cold ice-bitch of a fishwife-mother, the kind with the change-purses. He has lost touch with reality and most feeling, and should be punished, despite all his ‘mild-mannered James Stewart’ talk.

    Dejan, I think we should nominate Clysmatics for some ‘consolation prize’ type of Parody Oscars. He should be nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category as well as Most Promising Newcomer category (against Mrs. Kenoma.) Clysmatics has his hands tied, and whimpers a lot, but hey…(as they say)…everybody’s got problems, and Dominic especially is an EVIL CUNT!

    Comment by jonquille de camembert — 6 December 2007 @ 9:36 pm

  10. I thought Dominic deserved some sort of award, based as I said on the remarkably literate hostility of his commentary in my initial second-hand encounter with him. I had no reason to expect that Dejan would attempt to present the award to the recipient personally. I did think Dominic’s response was consistent with the remark for which I’d originally nominated him, and it may have represented his own distinctive sort of acceptance speech. I do have cold-hearted tendencies that I’m not always able either to overcome or to disguise. In any event, I am always happy to be nominated for more awards.

    Comment by ktismatics — 6 December 2007 @ 10:48 pm

  11. Clysmatics, the point that Jonquille is trying to bring in view is that you not only hurt my feelings, but also destabilized my perception of you as my positive and neutral dad to whom I can always turn for advice and support. This is exactly what I mean by the instability of cognitive-behavioral tropes. You send me to a humorless cyborgian cognitive queen who´s only ever had sex with the computer, and who on top of that thinks that me and Jonquille are running a ´´masculinist´´ agenda. Really it was better if you´d sent me to Arnold Schwarzenegger – at least he has MUSCLES!

    Comment by parodycenter — 7 December 2007 @ 5:38 am

  12. Jonquille, given Clysmatics´s near-impeccable record in the past, as well as the emphasis on Leninino´s diminutiveness given in this post, I am going to give him another chance to prove that he is indeed a fine and upstanding dad. He did compromise his chances of winning the more prestigious categories, though – especially ´´best parody blawg´´ (though his chances there were thin from the beginning seeing as to the fact that the contestant is the Cultural parody center themselves).

    Comment by parodycenter — 7 December 2007 @ 5:47 am

  13. ‘Jonquille, given Clysmatics´s near-impeccable record in the past, as well as the emphasis on Leninino´s diminutiveness given in this post,’

    Very true, and also his explanation of the 2 Dominic phenomena is very good, and something neither of us picked up on when the earlier one was rendered up quoted by Clysmatics. I relied on intuition and you were hoping against hope. But Dominic is always sardonic. It’s possible that some ‘On High’ K-punk pronouncement is in the offing, but I’m not worried about that. That would only prove the existence of an Old Boys’ Network that was as corrupt as the Arpegianisms…

    Comment by jonquille de camembert — 7 December 2007 @ 8:28 am

  14. “I had no reason to expect that Dejan would attempt to present the award to the recipient personally. I did think Dominic’s response was consistent with the remark for which I’d originally nominated him, and it may have represented his own distinctive sort of acceptance speech.’

    This is marvelous. Clysmatics, are you as attractive as your avatar?

    Comment by jonquille de camembert — 7 December 2007 @ 8:29 am

  15. Dejan–when you nominate Dominic for further awards, please keep in mind the name of his blog, where I just saw you overdo gratitude to Kenoma for Dominic not hating you for the right things…anyway, it should be not ‘Poetix–the Complete Enigma’ but rather ‘Poetix–the Complete Vagina.’ Sexist! Sexist! Sexist!

    Comment by jonquille de camembert — 7 December 2007 @ 8:43 am

  16. I’m happy that you recommend I be given a reprieve, Jonquille, but your chastisements suggest to me that perhaps I don’t take my responsibilities toward Dejan seriously enough. After looking at the H&N critique on Chabert’s link I’ll give some concentrated attention to self-analysis.

    Also, it’s good of you to remind me that subjectivity and affect always play a part even in political matters. I’m American by birth, but one set of great-grandparents immigrated from Bosnia, another set from Poland, and the other two from Ireland after a generation working in the Manchester mills. All those trajectories became totally deterritorialized in the American melting pot, but traces of those people’s particular lives are in me somewhere, shaping my views in ways I don’t even recognize.

    By the way, I presume you both recognize my avatar, or is it too small?

    Comment by ktismatics — 7 December 2007 @ 9:43 am

  17. Jonquille, the Poetic Snob isn’t really my concern; I never warmed up to him either as a brother, a father, a slave or a Master. It’s best to leave him copulating with Sherbert and whatever other Moozlim trannies don’t mind his nerdiness. But I am really trying hard to understand Clysmatics’s ungratefulness here – right in the midst of developing a successful debating society, which now includes the EVIL DIVA that WE created, and drawing on traditions established by the Parody Center in 2006, Clysmatics cooly allows me to be humiliated, and all for the sake of one clever line, the academic solecisms, which when you think about it isn’t all that funny because it primarily reflects the Snob’s narcissism. I have known my dad’s masochism from before, but I never expected him to hit THIS low, and at such breakneck speed.

    Comment by parodycenter — 7 December 2007 @ 12:51 pm

  18. You’re absolutely right, Dejan — I never should have nominated Dominic for an award, and I’m sorry that he made you feel badly.

    Comment by ktismatics — 7 December 2007 @ 1:12 pm

  19. Is that the idea: that globalization is a liberal deception intended to seduce people into believing that something like global communism is emerging from multinational capitalism?

    Yes dad this is the idea, and it is very plausible too because globalism uses the tropes and the discourses that were co-created by Tito,in establishing the UN and the non-aligned movement. The disintegration of Yugoslavia shows you on a micro-level that these tropes were actually politically correct names for: nationalism and imperialism, or better to say nationalism as a weapon of imperialism. Where Leninist fall into an absurdist, Moebius-type loop, is that they don’t realize the liberal deception is possible only because of Communism. So when they attack globalism for fabricating a faux-Communist utopia, they fail to mention that the Communist utopia is faux per definitio.

    In this they will designate Christians as ”right-wing” because Christians don’t buy the idea of Paradise on Earth, which is the chief Commie deception underlying the whole construction. Namely that the attempt at being equal in real life usually results in some animals being more equal than others. The theme was a central issue of the civil war in Serbia, where royalists (who supported the Orthodox church) clashed with partisans (Communists) on the use of violence to accomplish revolutionary goals. Simultaneously, ”radical” Commies like the Leninists, Stalinists and Chabertian Communists continuously fail to mention that Communism succeeded in Russia/Serbia because of the existence of certain IDEALISTIC ATTITUDES as part of the Christian-Orthodox culture. Because that culture teaches tolerance, exuberance, hedonism and communality, the Communist ideas were accepted with little suspicion. (This is similar to the mechanism you described in relation to the acceptance of the Geneva convention.)

    Ergo, there’s no way in the world some weird-ass resurrected Leninism or Stalinism offers any new formula for the development of the utopian thought, and as far as I can see on this thread, it is only the Deleuzian-based models that seem to suggest interesting ideas.

    Comment by parodycenter — 9 December 2007 @ 8:24 am

  20. “these tropes were actually politically correct names for: nationalism and imperialism, or better to say nationalism as a weapon of imperialism.”

    There seems to be a latent fascism in most cultures that manifests itself in hostility to the aliens both inside and outside the gates. I’d have expected that the capitalists would be immune to local bias, that they would base all decisions on maximizing their own return on investment, but maybe that’s not the case. Even capitalists are from somewhere, hold certain allegiances that link them to their cultural compatriots. The US brand of nationalism is harder for me to understand since it’s shallow by Old World standards and more ethnically diverse. But it is fundamentally WASP, nurtured by the founding myths and periodically updated to reflect more modern sensibilities. Anyhow, this cultural fascism can be exploited, calling on the solidarity of the People to pursue with vigor and ideological zeal their own interests and their own solidarity versus the outsiders — as you’re well aware, Dejan. And the neocon utopia of the American Century was/is assuredly American and imperialist in its ideals.

    “Where Leninist fall into an absurdist, Moebius-type loop, is that they don’t realize the liberal deception is possible only because of Communism.”

    I’ll take your word for it that that’s true in Yugoland. In America during my lifetime the Communist threat was almost entirely external, there being very little visible Communist presence anywhere. With the end of the Cold War and the rise of the Islamic Menace there’s not been any resurgence of interest of domestic Communism in the public domain at least as far as I can tell. Even the moderate left has drifted inexorably rightward since at least the seventies, so Communism seems like a pretty remote outpost. Even in discussions of possible third-party political action to combat the gutlessness and conservatism of the Democrats, I don’t hear much overt Marxist discourse. I don’t hand out in the academy, so maybe there’s more happening that I don’t hear about.

    “Communism succeeded in Russia/Serbia because of the existence of certain IDEALISTIC ATTITUDES as part of the Christian-Orthodox culture.”

    I’d expect that to be the case, that appeals to cultural ideals can be leveraged even if those doing the levering don’t necessarily buy them. On Traxus’ blog I asked if his proposal to abandon utopian thinking entailed an abandonment of ideology, and I think he said no but I couldn’t be sure if I was interpreting him correctly. Is there an ideology intrinsic to Marxism that devolves from some of the Christian utopian ideals, which is why Marxism can also generate an emotional resonance with those standing on different ends of the same cultural platform? Maybe, though that of course wouldn’t have been the case in places like China. Maybe there’s a basic, almost instinctive human ethos of collectivity that underlies all cultures. This ethos always competes with the individuating instinct, but both can generate a visceral resonance.

    “it is only the Deleuzian-based models that seem to suggest interesting ideas.”

    If I ever manage actually to finish Empire I’ll maybe understand how they make the relationship between the People, which is hegemonic in its ideals and praxis, and the Multitude which is more Deleuzian, Nietzschean, perhaps also libertarian.

    Comment by ktismatics — 9 December 2007 @ 10:23 am

  21. In America during my lifetime the Communist threat was almost entirely external, there being very little visible Communist presence anywhere.

    I’ve been reiterating that Walt Disney is the worst Communist of all bad Communists ever to have walked the scene. Go no further than the Communist ending of Ratatouille, where the burgeois French critic bows to the Talents and Efforts of the Common Man (Rodent), elitism supposedly succumbing to working class values. And this utopia of ”everybody’s equal right to success” reflects Communist ideals, rather than the reality of class relations. I would be even bolder and suggest that Communism is the very fabric of the whored-out American Dream.

    Is there an ideology intrinsic to Marxism that devolves from some of the Christian utopian ideals,

    well to the extent that really-existing Marxism, the Praxis, took place in major Christian Orthodox countries, yes I would say absolutely. I still remember how derisively my grand-grand father, Archbishop of the Corsican Orthodox diocese, spoke about this ambition of Communists to get instant pleasure in THIS life, even as he grudgingly applauded the Communists for having pity for the common man.

    Comment by parodycenter — 9 December 2007 @ 10:59 am

  22. I thought Ratatouille was the neoliberal American dream exported to France — the individual agent can through energy and creativity accomplish anything. The rat’s food attained haute cuisine status, as judged by an authentic French aristocratic gastronome. The Americans are the new rats in the French kitchen, outperforming the descendants of the high European tradition, flattering the Eurodisney customers by selling their own culture back to them. There are no class relations in America; individual excellence trumps social standing — at least that’s the mythology that permeates all levels of American society. In effect no one except maybe the black subpopulation believes there’s a class structure in America — that’s partly why Hardt & Negri see America not just as inevitable but exemplary for pursuing a progressive agenda on a global scale.

    Comment by ktismatics — 9 December 2007 @ 9:03 pm

  23. the individual agent can through energy and creativity accomplish anything

    yes indeed, but he is supported by his working class family, as represented by Rat Leninuni and Rat Sherbert, etc.. and their collective ethos sort of gives birth to his excellence, which the burgeois French snob (dr. Kugelmass) has to acknowledge. In retrospect I found it quite a repulsive film, actually, but let’s not deprive the kids of Drimz. Starz that make Drimz, Drimz that make Starz.

    BTW I have to make a corrigendum on Kosovo: the article I quoted on the ethnogenesis of Great Albania was written by an ultranationalist/Nazi skinhead ( who nevertheless didn’t err on the side of factuality; following a few links I realized that the White Power paranoia (which I guess is equivalent to the neocon variety) is centered around the idea that Islam wants to overtake the world, and this, they argue, is dangerous for the white world because the white world has fallen into decadence, is not reproducing and is given to Communist misconceptions about the equality of civilizations. Reminds me to check resources before I publish, but the interesting thing is that if you didn’t know the guy was a Nazi, the text is completely identical to the one published on the governmental site (i.e. stating the same facts), which is socialist.

    apparently dr. Zizek – to give him credit for once – was right about globalism and nationalism coming to stand in a Moebius loop.

    Comment by parodycenter — 9 December 2007 @ 9:31 pm

  24. “their collective ethos sort of gives birth to his excellence”

    Yes I forgot about that. The herd did come to help him in the restaurant, and presumably became the workers in the new restaurant. But you still need a star to bring everyone else up, or to trickle down the benefits to those who live below ground.

    Comment by ktismatics — 9 December 2007 @ 9:47 pm

  25. But you still need a star to bring everyone else up, or to trickle down the benefits to those who live below ground.

    What’s really Communist about the whole thing is that all viewers will get EQUAL entertainment – there can’t be any REAL losers. And then that positive, Pollyanna smile wraps things up as the British fag critic decides to give up on his narcissism and villainy for the sake of the American Dream. This is what drains the film from suspense, a form of nivelation also on the level of design, which is just like any other Disney move in the past 100 years. And I think it calls on this type of criticism because although being ostensibly for kids, is aimed also at the adult market.

    Comment by parodycenter — 9 December 2007 @ 10:06 pm

  26. all viewers should be all protagonists

    Comment by parodycenter — 9 December 2007 @ 10:06 pm


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