Ukraine and the Failed Pax Capitalis
A stunning essay. Thank you very much.
An excellent summing up.
This is especially succinct about where we are this teetering moment: "The Pax Capitalis—the faith that universal capitalism could unify all people in peace—has shattered. Putin didn’t shatter it, though—he merely tapped on the already-cracked looking glass which previously showed to us only what we wished to see."
I am also noting, particularly on Facebook (yes, it's LCD, but where also do we get to view the national id in action?) that many upper-middle-class white women are getting wildly belligerent--to the point of advocating U.S. troops on the ground in Ukraine. Admittedly, this is class privilege in action. Yet it is also the end of U.S. careerist feminism so far as I can tell. It was the final bourgeois artifact, Hillary Clinton being elected because of her résumé. So a great negotiation may be in the offing.
And yet today's LaStampa is a poor imitation of its usual self: All war propaganda. Anna Zaferova left rationality behind days ago. There are interviews with Ian Bremmer (some U.S. policy barnacle), who is "disappointed" with Draghi (noting your references to SWIFT), because Draghi is not in a state of sanction-mania.
And there's an interview with Michael Spence, "Nobelist" in economics, who insists that the Europeans--and the Italians have very little in the way of fossil fuels to dig up--rely on U.S. liquid natural gas.
It's all about the benjamins.
And as a leftist, I will say what leftists think: We deserve better.
There, I've said it.
While I agree with most of what you wrote, I find your understanding of both Putin and Trump a bit shallow, at least in how you described them. Trump is an opportunist, if he could have manipulated a power base on the left instead of the disenchanted right he would have. He is the consumate libertarian capitalist. Putin was KGB when I was a Marine grunt. He publically lamented the fall of the USSR as the great catastrophy of history. He has molded the Russian Orthodox Church into the perfect tool of state control, and turned the Rus creation myth into his call to create Moscow as the legitimate replacement of the center of the Roman empire, claiming that it really was suppose to be after Constantinople fell to the Turks. While capitalism is a major component, in is historically rather recent. These games of power have been in play since the pyramids. We need to also be aware of that.
AND, we also need to recognize that the cancel culture and oppression is coming from both ends of the Liberalism spectrum with equal viciousness. Just because you speak of "freedom" does not mean you plan to extend that "freedom" to all.
'One nation under social media' is an excellent description of the world as it is. I'd be interested to know how the Beautiful Resistance crowd took this one.
Calling this the "terminal stage of capitalism" is interesting. I think we are seeing the terminal stages of the US empire and liberalism. Since the gospel of liberalism/capitalism rests on the success of the US in so many ways, it seems possible that all will fall together.
I've started wondering, what empire will rise up in place of the US? China seems like the most likely successor, yet they depend heavily on US capitalism for their own economy and they are heavily tethered to fossil fuel and a similar myth of progress. So even as they work to change the narrative, it still feels like a form of capitalism.
If the current ascendant world order falls, what will replace it? Or will we have a void for awhile as everyone regroups? It seems like quite the transition time!
Very good, I think you really touched on the spiritual component of this "pax capitalis" belief paradigm.
So accepting all of this beautifully written essay is true - which I do - what should people who can see it do now?
The last sentence 🙌.
What you mention here is one of the fascinating conundrums of this situation. Much of Europe buys its oil & natural gas from Russia. Arguably, countries like Germany have made energy policy decisions in recent years that make them even more reliant on Russian exports. Russia uses at least some of that money to build and maintain its military. War raises the price of oil and results in more money in Russian coffers, which in turn can finance this and more wars if they so choose. Economic sanctions could cripple Russia's ability to wage war, but the flow of oil cannot stop without threatening the stability of many countries in the EU. So which existential threat do you choose?
The answer, of course, has been obvious for quite some time. Russia invaded Georgia in 2008 and annexed Crimea in 2014, for instance, with very little push back. People in western countries repeatedly choose not to take Putin at his word and ignore the history & mythology he has spent over two decades invoking so we can keep many of our own myths (and fossil fuel flows) in tact. And it will happen again: the uproar will die down and Russia will install a client state, annex it, or whatever they plan to do and fight a brutal guerilla war against Ukrainians. The balance of the existential threat for countries with power in the EU swings towards fossil fuel access, not Russian troops invading.
Sorry, I can’t let it be- I’m confused... Russian imports are below Mexico’s, same as Saudi Arabia, and higher than Mexico and Columbia... I realize it’s not the crucial big picture of this piece, but can you clarify? Russia<Mexico, Russia=Saudi, Russia>Mexico+Columbia doesn’t add up. If Mexico already provides more than Russia, then how would Columbia’s addition make it less? was another country intended in one of the places filled by Mexico? If so, which? Thank you for your time and energy!
“ We are in the terminal stage of capitalism, its host body wracked by pain that the opiates of social media and civic religions can no longer assuage. The cosmetic applied over the necrotic skin of our enlightened order no longer cover the black viscous ooze running through our veins, and that putrid ichor is finally seeping through the walls of our mansion of modern freedoms.” — so so so en pointe.
Again, such good stuff to chew on. Thanks! You often remind me of Wendell Berry, like this: https://youtu.be/G2iPPpEFn7U