Tuesday, June 06, 2006

War is a Racket*

This, to me, is the ultimately heroic trait of ordinary people; they say no to the tyrant and they calmly take the consequences of this resistance.

How does one fashion a book of resistance, a book of truth in an empire of falsehood, or a book of rectitude in an empire of vicious lies? How does one do this right in front of the enemy?

Philip K. Dick

War and Imperialism

You can read this story here: http://hubpages.com/hub/War-Is-A-Racket


Peter Wilberg said...

I think your piece on War and Imperialism is brilliant. I would love to see you you submit it (and much more material of the same type) to the Guardian's 'Comment is Free' blog?

My only one bone of contention would be about the bit below. For I think the first statement about Halliburton contradicts everything in the paragraph that follows it.

"... so that American private companies like Halliburton can draw the profits."

None of this bears any resemblance to what we used to call capitalism. None whatsoever. All of this is done through the agency of the state for the profit of those who control the state apparatus. Capitalism is just a euphemism. It‘s a cover story. This is not a capitalist system. The capitalist system died sometime in the 19th century during the South Sea bubble. Since then capitalism has been state sponsored. Maybe it always was state sponsored. All that guff about “enterprise” and “risk-takers”. These people take no risks. They live in state-sponsored luxury. This is not a capitalist system, it is an imperialist system, the only difference being that instead of a single emperor you have a whole class of emperors who share the spoils out between them."

I have a sense of what you're trying to get at, but I think what you say in the second paragraph risks seriously confusing popular conceptions of capitalism (who is the 'we' in "what we used to call capitalism") with the serious historical understanding of capitalism that Marx provided - which was not "all that guff about 'enterprise' and 'risk-takers'", but an understanding of capitalism as (a) an economic system in which human labour-time (and not slaves or products) becomes a commodity in itself, and (b) in which profit seeking ("the accumulation of capital") becomes the ruling principle of society - and not any individual ruler or ruling imperialist nation. The latter serve as handmaidens for the totalitarian and imperialistic dominance of the ruling economic principle.

As for the relation of capitalism and the state this connection has long been recognised - what Marx called the "bourgeois revolution" was all about the importance of the state and state power in the development of capitalism, and the state as a necessary "management committee" (and police force etc) for the bourgeoisie as a whole.

Then again, what about Lenin's famous tract "Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism"?

To sum up. I think your piece is great because it is such a well-written reminder of facts of history that - as you know from my book 'New Age to New Gnosis' - I find as particularly pertinent and poignant today as you do. So more please!

But bald statements like "This is not a capitalist system, it is an imperialist system" are a form of more casually opinionating and ANTI-historical journalism of the sort your article as a whole does so well to undermine. For they are asserted if THE principle HISTORIAN of capitalism - Karl Marx - had never researched or written about Rome, Empire or indeed the entire history of the relation between economic systems, ideologies and different forms of state power.

In fact that's just about all he ever did.

If the Empire never ended - then neither did the Resistance to it. In Europe it was the Germans who halted Rome at the Rhine. That is why I see the history of German culture and philosophy as something of no less importance than that of Iraq.

You begin with a quote from Phillip K. Dick

"How does one fashion a book of resistance, a book of truth in an empire of falsehood, or a book of rectitude in an empire of vicious lies? How does one do this right in front of the enemy?"

Marx answered this question in practice and not just in theory - in 'Das Kapital' and 'The Communist Manifesto'. So did Martin Heidegger in his works.

That took immensely hard work intellectual and SPIRITUAL - indeed historical lifetimes of work.

The misconception of Marx as a purely political and economic rather than a gnostic-spiritual thinker needs to be overcome.That is what I sought to do in 'From New Age to New Gnosis' - which also emphasises the parallels between Roman and US imperialism
and how, in place of Assyria, Babylon, and Persia - the cradle cultures of gnostic spirituality - we now have Syria, Iraq and Iran.
This is the ancient past mirroring itself in all today's present politic hotspots - not least Palestine and Israel, where anti-Roman spiritual communities gave birth to early gnostic Christianity.

CJ Stone said...

Peter, I think you should put a link in so that people who come across this commentary can find out how to get a copy of "From New Age to New Gnosis."

You are probably right in criticising the contradiction in the piece, about capitalism and imperialism. My point was that "capitalism" is not what it pretends to be.

As for Marx' analysis: I was never a student of Marx anyway.

CJ Stone said...



Peter Wilberg said...

For those interested in the relation of religion, politics, psychology and spirituality check out these sites:




CJ Stone said...

I got the idea from Chomsky, as follows: "To begin with, I think terms like "capitalism" and "socialism" have been so evacuated of any substantive meaning that I don't even like to use them. There's nothing remotely like capitalism in existence. To the extent there ever was, it had disappeared by the 1920s or '30s. Every industrial society is one form or another of state capitalism."

Chandira said...

GREAT post Chris.. definitely linking to this one.

I think your absence from the blogging world is ok in a way, even though I missed you, you make up in quality what you lack in quantity. I can think of some blogs I read that in all this time haven't posted that much good stuff.. ;-)

Nice to see you back.

Love xx