Wednesday, January 9, 2008

December New Left Review

Perry Anderson, one of the giants of the New Left in Britain, offers this lengthy but worthwhile overview of the last seven years in terms of high politics - defined in terms of the rise of neo-liberalism to unprecedented hegemony, the rise of China as the workhouse of the world, and the disarray and fragmentation of opposition movements within the United States and Europe. Anderson's outlook is remarkably bleak, and its open endedness seems to indicate that his personal political evolution is in flux after years of staunch defense of a hard left Marxist-Leninist orthodoxy. The end of the essay looks at the recent large scale interpretations of Nairn, Hardt, Negri, and Bull - and insists that much remains to be done if the slogan "another world is possible" is to be more than an empty, cathartic chant.

Although Anderson's piece is by far the most important, the NLR issue also has some interesting analysis of the early anti-Zionist writings of Hannah Arendt, as well as of contemporary political developments in France under Sarkozy and the further disintegration and despair of the French Socialist Party.

Unfortunately, you will have to use your uni or the columbia network to access the article.

Perry Anderson, "Jottings on the Conjuncture"

NLR Table of Contents

A point which will no doubt raise some eyebrows both within the left and without, Anderson contends that the American invasion of Iraq should not be seen as a logical strategic outgrowth of American imperialist, capitalist, or oil interests. Rather, he argues that the middle east is the one region which has not been integrated into the rational hegemonic strategic policy of American neoliberalism. The "Israeli Lobby," not class, imperialist, or corrupt private interests explain the Iraqi invasion. Further, 9/11 while obviously having additional causes and origins, cannot be imagined in the absence of the American policy of overwhelming and unconditional support for Israel. While some view Israel as an agent of American imperialism in the Middle East, Anderson argues that in fact, the Israeli lobby has effectively destroyed ability of American policy makers to pursue a rational course of neoliberal imperialism in the region. Although Anderson's account is compelling, it is brief and remains superficial. What do you think?

Is America's pro-Israel policy a logical extension of its desire to impose neoliberal conformity as the global hegemon? Or does Zionism actually distort, and undermine a rational policy of American influence and dominance in the Middle East? Is Israel an agent, or a confounder, of American global power?

1 comment:

Ben said...

While I disagree with Anderson on a lot of points in the essay, especially his framing of the Iraq war and the "Israel lobby," it is certainly a useful reminder that imperialism functions with permanent interests, not permanent alliances.

While there is certainly a tendency within the national security establishment that favors closer relationships with the Arab states (which inevitably would be at the expense of Israel), it's hard to imagine U.S. imperialism operating in the Middle East without close conjunction with Israel. The Arab puppet states always run the risk of anti-imperialist revolution. Israel, as long as it is guided by the principles of Zionism, will never leave the side of the United States -- regardless of which party leads. It has a strategic advantage that the U.S. is unlikely to give up any time soon.

Keep up the good work, El Participante editors!