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The military planks of capital accumulation

Subtopia, which concerns itself with the militarization of cities, has a fascinating interview with Neil Smith. A few quotes to whet your interest.

While the Iraq war is all about the “endgame of globalization,” part of this equation is the massive state funding of Halliburton and Blackwater and other multinationals to orchestrate a reconstruction. That this reconstruction has proven an utter failure is of only secondary concern – indeed, as long as the state keeps funding accumulation through multi-billion dollar contracts to these and other corporations, failure simply establishes the conditions for further investment.

The scary truth is that the US increasingly runs on a war economy.  The faster things get used up, the faster they need to be replaced.

China’s cities today seem to me to be militarized very much in support of capital accumulation. The militarization of New York since the Giuliani era may seem softer but it is very much aimed at pacifying the city for sake of attracting business and tourists even as the lurching economy creates more and more poor people, even homeless people, who have to be “pacified.”

Business centers in large cities are now heavily fortified with lots of Orwellian monitoring and security. Poor people need not enter.

That Blackwater and Halliburton were so quickly into New Orleans, as we now know, alongside – and in some cases in charge of the military (National Guard) – simply confirms the breadth of the connections between militarization and economic opportunity. The reconstruction of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast is being used, in fact, as an opportunity to reconstruct a social geography without many of the working class poor who had been ghettoized there in the past.

Get rid of the NoLa poor and build pricey condos where their homes had been.

  • DJ

    “That this reconstruction has proven an utter failure is of only secondary concern – indeed, as long as the state keeps funding accumulation through multi-billion dollar contracts to these and other corporations, failure simply establishes the conditions for further investment.”

    Another indication that our government’s goal in the Iraq War may not be to win, but to keep fighting.

  • Joe Hartley

    I don’t quite understand the verbiage of capital accumulation, but then, I don’t understand much of what I read.

    It strikes me that the Bush administration is very much like 18th century England, where political favorites are awarded monopolies without bidding or competition in return for political support. It’s ironic that Federalist Society “original intentionists” sit on the boards of the companies benefiting from such largesse, since the Founding Fathers would be fuming at such an abuse of power and, more than 200 years ago, accurately predicted and diagnosed the political and moral corruption that would flow from such an arrangement.

    My sense is that the Bushies are so cynical about government that they don’t CARE whether their spending is effective, as long as it goes to their allies. Consider it embezzlement on a grand scale. In theory, they could accomplish as much (more, really, if you think about it) if they kept their expenditures domestic, since it would not piss off people around the world, which is usually an appropriate goal of a large power (NOT to piss people off, that is; why make yourself a target?) It would be interesting to explore why Americans, currently unique among the economically developed capitalistic countries of the world, feel that war is the answer, and that all these resources flow into a comparatively unproductive sector of the economy.

  • DJ

    “why make yourself a target?”

    That is exactly the point. FDR needed Pearl Harbor to get the U.S. into WWII (and I’m not saying he planned it, only that he knew an attack was inevitable based on U.S. policy toward Japan).

    Look how the Bush administration has benefitted from 9/11. Before, they were an incompetent administration without an issue. They even DISMANTLED Clinton’s anti-terror preparations. But once 9/11 hit, they had an excuse to (1) clamp down on freedoms, (2) call their opponents unpatriotic and demand American support, and (3) funnel vast sums of tax dollars, much of it borrowed, to their cronies. This can only continue as long as a threat can be adequately demonstrated.

    Why make yourself a target? Why does a self-serving Randian capitalist do ANYTHING? For money and power!