US Indymedia Global Indymedia Publish About us
Printed from Boston IMC :
IVAW Winter Soldier

Winter Soldier
Brad Presente

Other Local News

Spare Change News
Open Media Boston
Somerville Voices
Cradle of Liberty
The Sword and Shield

Local Radio Shows

WMBR 88.1 FM
What's Left
WEDS at 8:00 pm
Local Edition
FRI (alt) at 5:30 pm

WMFO 91.5 FM
Socialist Alternative
SUN 11:00 am

WZBC 90.3 FM
Sounds of Dissent
SAT at 11:00 am
Truth and Justice Radio
SUN at 6:00 am

Create account Log in
Comment on this article | Email this article | Printer-friendly version
News ::
Anarchism and Human Survival: Russell's Problem (english)
12 May 2003
We Are Faced With A Choice: An Anarchist Future Or No Future At All.
Anarchism and Human Survival: Russell's Problem

Bertrand Russell throughout his long career as a public intellectual and political activist had reason to reflect on the follies of humanity and the real threats to human survival, threats which are self induced. Much speculation and movie making is devoted toward such survival threatening events as asteroid strikes and mantle head plumes. What is totally ignored is the threat to human survival posed by our own institutions. We can notch another one for the propaganda model; it is to be expected that our pathological institutions would not dwell on their inherent pathology. We can expect nothing less of the corporate media.

I shall argue that we face what I refer to as "Russell's problem": “are Homo sapiens an intelligent maladaptive organism doomed to self extinction”? There exists good reason to suppose that a maladaptive, intelligent, organism would indeed cause its own extinction simply because of the destructive potential of intelligence. This is one of the farces of many science fiction stories, such as Star Trek, which posit the existence of hideous innately war like but highly intelligent species. This is not a productive mix; surely any advanced species, in order to reach such heights as inter-galactic travel, would need to be a species that places a premium on cooperation and solidarity. An avaricious intelligent species would only over time succeed in destroying itself and much of the ecological basis for the support of life long before it would be able to traverse wormholes.

There exist three threats to survival namely nuclear war, ecological change and north-south conflict. All three I would argue can be traced to a single source that being the pathological nature of state capitalism. What is frightening is that eventual self induced extinction is a rational consequence of our system of world order much like the destruction of the system of world order prior to 1914 was a rational consequence of its internal nature. I shall focus in this essay on nuclear war, the most immediate threat. In doing so we will come to appreciate the nexus between this threat, globalisation and north-south conflict.

Currently we are witnessing a major expansion in the US global military system. One facet of this expansion is the globalisation of US nuclear war planning known as "adaptive planning". The idea here is that the US would be able to execute a nuclear strike against any target on Earth at very short notice. For strategic planners the world's population is what they refer to as a "target rich environment". The Clinton era commander of US nuclear forces, Admiral Mies, stated that nuclear ballistic missile submarines would be able to "move undetected to any launch point" threatening "any spot on Earth". What lies at the heart of such a policy is the desire to maintain global strategic superiority what is known as "full spectrum dominance" previously referred to as "escalation dominance". Full spectrum dominance means that the US would be able to wage and win any type of war ranging from a small scale contingency to general nuclear war.

Strategic nuclear superiority is to be used to threaten other states so that they toe the party line. The Bush administration's Nuclear Posture Review stipulated that nuclear weapons are needed in case of "surprising military developments" not necessarily limited to chemical or biological weapons. The Clinton administration was more explicit stating in its 2001 Pentagon report to Congress that US nuclear forces are to "hedge against defeat of conventional forces in defense of vital interests". The passage makes clear that this statement is not limited to chemical or biological weapons.

We have just seen in Iraq what is meant by the phrase "defense of vital interests". Washington is asserting that if any nation were to have the temerity to successfully defend itself against US invasion, armed with conventional weapons only, then instant annihilation awaits. "What we say goes" or you go is the message being conveyed. Hitler no doubt would have had a similar conception of "deterrence". It should be stressed that this is a message offered to the whole world after all it is now a target rich environment.

During the cold war the US twice contemplated using nuclear weapons in such a fashion both in Vietnam, the first at Dien Bien Phu and during Nixon administration planning for "operation duck hook". In both cases the main impediments to US action were the notion that nuclear weapons were not politically "useable" in such a context and because of the Soviet deterrent. The Soviet deterrent is no more and the US currently is hotly pursuing the development of nuclear weapons that its designers believe will be "useable" what the Clinton administration referred to as low yield earth penetrating nuclear weapons and what the Bush administration refers to as the Rapid Nuclear Earth Penetrator.

Such strategic reforms are meant to make nuclear war a more viable policy option, on the basis that lower yields will not immediately kill as many innocent people as higher yield weapons. This is known as the lowering of the threshold of nuclear war. The development of the RNEP draws us closer to the prospect of nuclear war, including accidental nuclear war, because lower yields will lower the barrier between conventional and nuclear war. There will exist no real escalatory firewall between these two forms of warfare which means that in any conventional crisis involving nuclear powers, there will exist a strong incentive to strike first. A relationship very similar to the interaction between the mobilisation schedules of the great powers prior to 1914. There exist strong parallels between US nuclear planning and the German Imperial Staff’s Schlieffen plan.

Lowering the threshold of nuclear war will also enhance pressures for global nuclear proliferation. If the US is making its arsenal more useable by working towards achieving a first strike capability, then others such as Russia and China must react in order to ensure the viability of their deterrents. Moreover, the potential third world targets of US attack would also have greater incentive to ensure that they also have a nuclear deterrent.

It is also understood that the development of these nuclear weapons may require the resumption of nuclear testing, a key reason for the Administration's lack of readiness to abide by the CTBT treaty, which is meant to ban nuclear testing. The CTBT is a key feature of contemporary global nuclear non proliferation regimes for the US signed the CTBT in order to extend the nuclear non proliferation treaty (NPT) indefinitely. Abandoning the CTBT treaty, in order to develop a new generation of more "useable" nuclear weapons that will lower the threshold of nuclear war, will place the NPT regime under further strain and greatly increase the chances of further nuclear proliferation. There exists a "deadly connection" between global weapons of mass destruction proliferation and US foreign policy.

One may well ask what has all this to do with state capitalism? Consider the thinking behind the militarisation of space, outlined for us by Space Command; “historically military forces have evolved to protect national interests and investments – both military and economic. During the rise of sea commerce, nations built navies to protect and enhance their commercial interests. During the westward expansion of the continental United States, military outposts and the cavalry emerged to protect our wagon trains, settlements and roads”. The document goes on, “the emergence of space power follows both of these models”. Moreover, “the globalization of the world economy will continue, with a widening between ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. The demands of unilateral strategic superiority, long standing US policy known as "escalation" or "full spectrum" dominance, compel Washington to pursue “space control". This means that, according to a report written under the chairmanship of Donald Rumsfeld, "in the coming period the US will conduct operations to, from, in and through space" which includes "power projection in, from and through space". Toward this end, Washington has resisted efforts in the UN to create an arms control regime for space. As a result there will inevitably arise an arms race in space.

The importance of this simply cannot be over-emphasised. Throughout the nuclear age there have been a number of close calls, due to both human and technical error, that almost lead to a full scale nuclear exchange between Washington and Moscow. These glitches in command and control systems were ultimately benign because both sides had early warning satellites placed in specialised orbits which could be relied upon to provide real time imagery of nuclear missile launch sites. However the militarisation of space now means that these satellites will become open game; the benign environment in space will disappear if the militarisation of space continues. Thus if the US were to "conduct operations to, from in and through space" it will do see remotely. Technical failure may result in the system attacking Russian early warning satellites. Without question this would be perceived by the Russian's as the first shot in a US nuclear first strike.

Consider for instance a curious event that occurred in 1995. A NASA research rocket, part of a study of the northern lights, was fired over Norway. The rocket was perceived by the Russian early warning system as the spear of a US first strike. The Russian system then began a countdown to full scale nuclear response; it takes only a single rocket to achieve this effect because it was no doubt perceived by Russian planners that this single rocket was meant to disable their command and control system as a result of electromagnetic pulse effects. To prevent the loss of all nuclear forces in a subsequent follow on strike the Russian's would need to launch a full scale response as soon as possible. Because the US itself has a hair trigger launch on warning posture a Russian attack would be followed by a full scale US attack; the US has a number of "reserve options" in its war plans, thus such an accidental launch could trigger a global chain of nuclear release around the globe. Calamity was averted in 1995 because Russia's early warning satellites would have demonstrated that there was no launch of US nuclear forces.

If these satellites were to be taken out then this ultimate guarantee disappears; the Russian ground based radar system has a number of key holes that prevent it from warning of an attack through two key corridors, one from the Atlantic the other from the Pacific. In the future if an event such as 1995 were to occur in space the Russians no longer would have the level of comfort provided by its space based assets. The militarisation of space greatly increases the chances of a full scale accidental nuclear war.

The militarisation of space is intimately linked with US strategic nuclear forces, for the previous command covering space, known as Space Command, has merged with the command responsible for nuclear forces, Strategic Command. Upon merger, the commander of Strategic Command stated, "United States Strategic Command provides a single war fighting combatant command with a global perspective, focused on exploiting the strong and growing synergy between the domain of space and strategic capabilities." The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff added, "this new command is going to have all the responsibilities of its predecessors, but an entirely new mission focus, greatly expanded forces and you might even say several infinite areas of responsibility."

In other words, we are witnessing the integration of strategic conventional, nuclear and space planning into the command responsible for overseeing US nuclear forces. In turn these forces become an ordinary facet of US strategic planning, severing the break between conventional and nuclear war.

The link between the increase in threats to survival and state capitalism (as well as globalisation) was provided for us by the old Space Command as noted above. We may justly also conclude that US nuclear weapons provide a shield, or “shadow”, enabling the deployment of offensive military firepower in what Kennedy era commander General Maxwell Taylor referred to as the key theatre of war, namely "under-developed areas". This shield was made effective by "escalation dominance", as noted above, now known as "full spectrum dominance". It is this facet of US strategic policy that compels Washington place such a premium on nuclear superiority and nuclear war fighting.

The link between US nuclear strategy and the global political economy is intimate. US nuclear weapons, both during and after the cold war, have acted as the ultimate guarantors of US policy, which is concerned with managing the world capitalist system in the interests of dominant domestic elites. Nuclear weapons provide the umbrella of power under which the system is able to function in much the same way that Karl Polanyi in his classic work, The Great Transformation, argued that the balance of power functioned in the service of the world capitalist system in the 19th century. The “great restoration” of the world capitalist system, under the rubric of “liberal internationalism”, and the onset of the nuclear age in the wake of the second world war, are not merely coincidental. To understand the contours of contemporary world order is to appreciate the deep nexus between the two.

Military superiority is necessary because of threats to "stability". It is to be expected that a system of world order constructed for the benefit of an elite core of corporate interests in the US will not go down well with the world's population, especially in key regions singled out for capital extraction such as the Middle East and Latin America. Planners recognise that the pursuit of capital globalisation and the consequent widening of the gap between rich and poor would be opposed by the globe's population. Absolute strategic superiority is meant to keep the world's population quite and obedient out of sheer terror, as Bush administration aligned neo-conservative thinkers have argued it is better that Washington be feared rather than loved. As they have asserted, after world war two US hegemony had to be "obtained", now it must be "maintained" (Robert Kagan and William Kristol). It is only natural that this "maintenance operation" should be a militaristic one given that the US has a comparative advantage in the use of force; a nuclear global first strike capability would give Washington an absolute advantage.

Should anyone get out of line, possibly threatening to spread the "virus" of popular social and economic development, force is to be used to restore "credibility" to beat down the threat of a better example. The US pursues a dangerous nuclear strategy because such a strategy in its terms is "credible". Anarchists are well aware of this important aspect of international relations given the events of the Spanish Civil War. Such a situation is no joke, for this was precisely the fear of Kennedy era planners that led to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Washington sought to return Cuba to the "Latin American mode" fearing that Cuba would set an example to the population of Latin America in independent social and economic planning conducted in the interests of the population rather than US capital. In response to the Castro takeover the US engaged in one of the most serious terrorist campaigns of recent times, meant as a prelude to invasion in order to ensure "regime change" thereby teaching the people of the region the lesson that "what we say goes". One of the key reasons why Khrushchev sought to place nuclear missiles in Cuba was to deter a US invasion and to achieve strategic parity with Washington.

Throughout the Cuban Missile Crisis many potential flashpoints almost lead to a full-scale nuclear exchange between the Soviet Union and the US, how close we came to annihilation is only now being fully realised. These are not matters for idle speculation: destruction almost occurred in the past and may very well occur in the future; even cats have only nine lives.

This is a matter of great contemporary significance because of the current geographical expansion of the US military system. One of the most significant results of the invasion of Afghanistan was the expansion of the US military system into Central Asia, including into some former Soviet republics. The Russians have traditionally considered this to be their version of the Western hemisphere. If a "great game" were to develop in the region between Russia and the US (perhaps also Pakistan, China and India all nuclear powers, Turkey which sits under US "extended deterrence" and Iran, a potential nuclear power) then such a "great game" may become a nuclearised great game. Indeed the standoff in Kashmir may have global consequences if a system of alliance politics were to develop in the region between the globe's nuclear powers, especially as the threshold of nuclear war is being lowered. In this sense Central Asia may develop into a global version of the link between the Balkans and central alliance systems prior to 1914.

Of even greater concern is the further expansion of the US military system into the Middle East following the invasion of Iraq. Washington has already foreshadowed a desire to construct permanent military bases in Iraq in order to facilitate intervention into the region. Both Iran and Syria are potential targets of US attack. Iran may decide upon the nuclear option in order to deter the globe’s leading rogue state. This could be potentially explosive because it is well known that Israel posses a significant nuclear force. Israel has always feared that its paymaster would ultimately abandon it. In response Israel has reportedly developed a "samson option" nuclear targeting strategy.

The idea is that Israel would target Russia with its nuclear weapons (Israel has developed delivery systems with an excessive range capability), which would lead to a full-scale nuclear exchange between Moscow and Washington. In essence Israel is saying: we should be allowed to continue repressing the Palestinians if not we have the "samson option".

Furthermore, in order to facilitate intervention into these regions the US has began a programme to shift the basing of its military forces into "new Europe" that is Eastern Europe. Washington for instance pushed Romania into NATO for this very reason. Placing military forces in Eastern Europe no doubt would give the Russians some cause for concern. After Kosovo Russia conducted large-scale war games assuming an invasion through "new Europe". The game ended with the release of nuclear weapons. Indeed, expanding the US military system up to the border of Belarus may be dangerous for it is quite possible that Russia extends nuclear deterrence to Minsk; for instance Russia is building a new ground based strategic early warning radar in Belarus.

This may all become a series problem in the future because of what the US Geological Survey refers to as "the big rollover": the time at which the world oil market changes from a buyers market into a sellers market (which may occur in the next 15-20 years). Washington has always regarded the oil resources of the Middle East as "the most stupendous material prize in world history" which is a key lever of US global dominance. The big rollover will ensure that Middle Eastern oil reserves will become an even more significant lever of world control placing greater premium on US control over the political development of the Arab world. In 1967, 1970 and 1973 strategic developments in the Middle East were overshadowed by nuclear weapons. In fact the events of 1970 and 1973 convinced many, such as Henry Kissinger, that the US needed to strive to retain nuclear superiority and reverse the condition of strategic parity with Moscow. This ultimately lead to the Carter-Reagan build-up of the late 1970s and early 1980s; a build-up which easily could have been disastrous.

The militarisation of space, the development of so called "useable" nuclear weapons, the globalisation of the US nuclear planning system, the hair trigger alert status of the globe's nuclear forces and the expansion of the US military system into Central Asia and the Middle East possibly triggering a "great game" in these regions between nuclear powers, not to mention military expansion into "new Europe", all seriously increase the threats to our long term (indeed short term) survival.

Washington's aggressive nuclear strategy is not only meant to deter democracy abroad; it is also meant to deter democracy at home. In 1956 the author of NSC 68 and one of the chief ideologues behind the Carter-Reagan nuclear build-up, Paul Nitze, made a distinction between what he referred to as "declaratory" nuclear weapons policy and "actual" nuclear weapons policy. For anybody interested in unravelling truth from fiction the distinction is critical. In Nitze's words, "the word 'policy' is used in two related but different senses. In one sense, the action sense, it refers to the general guidelines, which we believe should and will govern our actions in various contingencies. In the other sense, the declaratory sense, it refers to policy statements which have as their aim political and psychological effects".

The most important target audience of declaratory policy is the American population, the so-called "internal deterrent". Consider for instance the key nuclear proliferation planning document of the cold war era, the Gilpatric report delivered to President Johnson. In it Gilpatric spelt out the threat that nuclear proliferation poses to US security: "as additional nations obtained nuclear weapons our diplomatic and military influence would wane, and strong pressures would arise to retreat to isolation to avoid the risk of involvement in nuclear war". So if it were seen by the population that the pursuit of foreign policy, conducted in the interests of domestic elites, would increase the threat of nuclear war then the internal deterrent may become dangerously aroused possibly calling off the show. In the strategic literature this is referred to as “self-deterrence”.

In other words US non proliferation policy was meant to “lock in” US strategic dominance so that the domestic population would not become dangerously aroused whilst providing Washington the freedom of action necessary to brandish its nuclear superiority over others. This sentiment was reflected in the Bush administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, “nuclear capabilities also assure the US public that the United States will not be subject to coercion based on a false perception of U.S. weakness among potential adversaries.” Many strategic thinkers have argued that the greatest threat to US hegemony or "unipolarity" is the internal "welfare role" and the populations lack of understanding for the burdens of Empire, in other words popular democracy. One of the reasons that the Reagan administration pursued "Star Wars" a programme to render nuclear weapons "impotent and obsolete" was to outflank the domestic and global peace movements that were gathering pace as a result of the administration's pursuit of potentially apocalyptic nuclear policies (the very same people have their fingers on the button again). It was well recognised that the Star Wars programme would have increased the chances of a nuclear exchange between Moscow and Washington, just as today the pursuit of short term interests is known to have potentially serious international consequences, such as increase in conflict and global weapons of mass destruction proliferation. The ruling class is well aware of the adverse impact the pursuit of its own sectional interests will have on international order. It pursues those interests with renewed zeal anyway. As far as the ruling class is concerned the greatest threat we face is not nuclear war, it is popular democracy.

As Adam Smith observed of a previous mercantile system, applicable to today's system of state-corporate mercantilism, "it cannot be very difficult to determine who have been the contrivers of this whole mercantile system; not the consumers, we may believe, whose interest has been entirely neglected; but the producers, whose interest has been so carefully attended to; and among this latter class our merchants and manufacturers have been by far the principal architects." Policy Smith observed, "comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it."

This raises an interesting issue, namely that the pursuit of Armageddon is quite rational. The dominant institutions of capitalism place a premium on short-term greed. Rational participatory planning incorporating long-term concerns such as human survival are of no interest to these pathological institutions. What matters is short-term profit maximisation. One can see this most clearly in the case of such “externalities” as ecological change where the desire to pursue short-term profit undermines the long-term viability of the system itself (also us as a species; indeed many have surmised that we are in the era of the sixth great extinction of life on Earth this time human induced). The fact that the institutional structures of society compel the ruling classes to pursue highly dangerous “security” policies that are another “externality” of the system of state capitalism compels the population to constrain and eventually overthrow these institutions because apocalypse is institutionally rational.

This brings us back however to Russell's problem. How do we answer Russell’s problem? There are those who do believe it can be answered, in the affirmative that is. Really this is just about the entire intellectual class which spins tails about human nature, most especially what are referred to as evolutionary psychologists and realist international relations thinkers; their doctrines are essentially prophecies of doomsday. Russell himself stated, "I am no prophet. Mankind perhaps decided that it has existed long enough and its time has come to yield the place to the animals we have hitherto considered lower. This is the view of those who are called statesmen and realists”.

For those actually interested in human freedom and survival Russell’s problem is to be solved in the manner Bertrand Russell himself sought to solve it; not by lofty speculations and social “theories” but by political dissidence in all its manifestations. Chomsky has stated that the people of the third world rely on a thin margin of survival provided by turbulence and dissidence within the imperial states. In fact humanity relies on a thin margin of survival provided by turbulence and dissidence within the imperial states. The global justice movement has an awesome responsibility: human survival depends upon its success. The concerns expressed in this essay ought to occupy more of its time.

In fact there exists a strong nexus between Russell’s problem and what Chomsky has referred to as "Orwell's problem". Chomsky states that Orwell's problem asks, "why do we know so little given that the evidence is so vast"? In our case this may be phrased, "why are we not aware of these threats to survival given that the evidence of their existence is so rich"? As noted in the introduction the answer to this question is quite clear; these pathological institutions have no interest in reflecting upon their own pathological nature. We of course have an interest in so reflecting but the interests of mere people are not a matter of concern to these institutions, hence hidden. The corporate media and the intellectual class that serves the ruling classes can be expected to adhere to what Nitze referred to as "declaratory policy". It would be a prediction of Herman and Chomsky's propaganda model that the corporate media would ignore these threats to survival and be more concerned with goblins and such. It is up to the alternative, non corporate media, to spread the word as far and wide as possible, a task this author has found difficult to achieve; many would be more interested in a worthless treatise on Habermas or some such I fear (these are the Left's version of goblins and marauding little green men). Perhaps some future little green men would examine the vast fossilised collection of much that passes for Left commentary and wonder why great time and effort was devoted to useless pursuits. Oh well, that's another one for Orwell's problem; although for our alien friends Orwell's problem would be a serious scientific pursuit. It would surely fascinate them.

Russell stated, “the rulers of this world have always been stupid, but have not in the past have had such power to destroy. Since securing their greater intelligence is unlikely, the solution is to diminish their power. There is no more justification for the claim to absolute sovereignty on the part of the state than there is on the part of an individual. Yet the same mentality which insists most strongly on subjugating the dangerous individual to the state insists simultaneously on the complete independence of the sovereign state itself from all external control”.

It is strange that it is the “conservatives” who defend the right of the state to pursue dangerous nuclear postures without consulting the people. This must rank as one of the greatest examples in history of the placement of the prerogatives of the state over the rights of people: the right of the state to wage war when and how it chooses outweighs humanity’s right to survival. In The Limits of State Action, Humboldt observed that, "The state is not in itself an end, but is only a means towards human development." If we adopt this as our guiding principle then it follows that the state ought to be abolished for if the state "is not an end in itself" but is rather a "means towards human extinction" then it must be done away with. Taking into account the concerns raised in this essay and applying the principles of classical liberalism we are naturally lead to Anarchism. By contrast we may adopt the position of Hegel, a source of inspiration for many in the academic Left, that "the state is the divine idea as it exists on Earth." Strange it is that in these circles it is Enlightenment rationalism that is considered reactionary; another one for our alien friends perhaps?

State capitalism poses a number of serious and pressing threats to human survival. To overcome these threats will require us to ultimately replace the institutions of the state and capitalism with institutions that are governed, and reflect the interests and concerns, of all those effected by them, the stance of the anarchist. Immanuel Kant in his essay "perpetual peace" argued against what he referred to as "Democracy", essentially Anarchism. Kant argued that a league of "republican" (let us say liberal democratic) states would suffice for perpetual peace. Kant himself was quite aware of Russell's problem, if only in the abstract; in his day it could not take concrete form. Kant wrote, "it follows that a war of extermination, in which the destruction of both parties and of all justice can result, would permit perpetual peace only in the vast burial ground of the human race. Therefore, such a war and the use of all means leading to it must be absolutely forbidden." Can perpetual peace be only achieved in the collective graveyard of humanity? This is another form that Russell's problem may take. Kant went on to say that, "the republican constitution, besides the purity of its origin (having sprung from the pure source of the concept of law), also gives a favourable prospect for the desired consequence, i.e., perpetual peace. The reason is this: if the consent of the citizens is required in order to decide that war should be declared (and in this constitution it cannot but be the case), nothing is more natural than that they would be very cautious in commencing such a poor game, decreeing for themselves all the calamities of war."

Now Kant makes an interesting distinction between forms of government, "in order not to confuse the republican constitution with the democratic (as is commonly done), the following should be noted. The forms of a state (civitas) can be divided either according to the persons who possess the sovereign power or according to the mode of administration exercised over the people by the chief, whoever he may be. The first is properly called the form of sovereignty (forma imperii), and there are only three possible forms of it: autocracy, in which one, aristocracy, in which some associated together, or democracy, in which all those who constitute society, possess sovereign power. They may be characterized, respectively, as the power of a monarch, of the nobility, or of the people." Clearly we do not live in an autocratic system but rather of "aristocracy" were the "men of best quality" rule and "manufacture consent" the domain of a "specialised class". State-corporate mercantilism is precisely what Kant referred to as an "aristocracy" in which "some associated together", i.e. the ruling class, governs over society exploiting state power, including military power, toward that end. Under the system of state-corporate mercantilism it is recognised that for the population Empire does not pay; for the ruling classes however Empire is of enormous profit, the reason why it is pursued with such mad fervour. That the system of state-corporate mercantilism would have such a grievous effect would have readily been understandable to Adam Smith as the above citations demonstrate.

Kant has been proven wrong; perpetual peace must require us to move towards Anarchism ("Democracy"), precisely for the reasons which he stated; if power is in the hands of the people then policy will be conducted with reference to their interests and concerns. The state is not a moral agent thereby it follows as a matter of logic that justice in international relations can only arise from popular action. Kant's vision of a system of states dedicated to normative values is a mirage, as every Anarchist has long realised.

Bertrand Russell stated, "man will abolish war or war will abolish man". In the meantime we must pursue measures to constrain the ability of the state-corporate nexus to destroy. The global peace movement that arose in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq needs to be nurtured and integrated into the global justice movement; they should be synonymous. Indeed there should also exist a deep connection between the global justice movement and those struggling for freedom, democracy and independence in the Arab world; not only is the survival of the Arab people at stake, so is ours. Constraining the state, by increasing the opportunity cost faced by the ruling class, is by no means perfect but it is doable. This should be our first priority. The threat of regression will always exist (think of the welfare state) and the state will use any chance it can get in this regards.

Indefinite human survival can only be guaranteed by Anarchism. There can exist no more compelling argument for Anarchism, in my opinion. If Anarchism is not attainable because of human nature, the standard argument against Anarchism, then Russell's problem is to be answered in the affirmative.

In fact if we adopt some traditional rationalist (out of vogue amongst much of the political class, right and left; another case for Orwell's problem in my opinion) assumptions about human nature then Russell's problem can perhaps be dealt with in the way we would seek to deal with it. Consider Leibniz's analogy of the veined marble; there exist many innate facets of human nature; experience serves to uncover and bring them to relief. Self-interested pathological behaviour is an innate facet of human nature which is brought to relief by operating within pathological institutions, such as state capitalism, concerned with short-term greed and a strongly competitive ethic. It is for this reason that studies suggest that successful state and corporate managers have the psychological profile of a psychotic.

Anarchist institutions concerned with cooperation, solidarity and freedom would serve to bring other more positive facets of our innate nature to relief which surely exist. Despite the dominance of these pathological institutions these facets of our nature are visible all around us. If these aspects of our innate nature exist then we shall rely upon them to ensure our own survival and in order to go on to achieve the full potential with which nature has endowed us. This will require us to replace our dominant social structures along Anarchist lines however.

We cannot be certain whether such an innate instinct for freedom exists but as Chomsky has stated, "by denying the instinct for freedom, we will only prove that humans are a lethal mutation, an evolutionary dead end: by nurturing it, if it is real, we may find ways to deal with dreadful human tragedies and problems that are awesome in scale." These problems are so grave that we are left, contrary to the option offered by Washington of "hegemony or survival", with two fundamental choices; self-induced extinction or emancipation from the forces of social domination. Capitalism and indefinite human survival are incompatible, not only for the reasons stated here.

The choice we are faced with is not "hegemony or survival", as Washington would have it, but self-induced extinction or emancipation from the forces of social domination. Hegemony is not an option; it's Anarchism or bust I am afraid.

Add a quick comment
Your name Your email


Text Format
Anti-spam Enter the following number into the box:
To add more detailed comments, or to upload files, see the full comment form.