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imperialism & war | political theory

from Green Anarchy: one anarchist perspective on S11

from Green Anarchy, an anarchist publication from eugene
To anarchists, this is event would only be expected. The only consideration, why not sooner. The common narratives broadcast in the following days demonstrated this well with commentary dealing with the inevitability of retaliation against western political and economic domination. To many it was instamatic: payback. To anarchists, particularly green anarchists, it is more than just the last century of Middle East geopolitical domination, it is far more deeply rooted in a political-economic analysis that moves far beyond capitalism and globalization. The temporal scope of the green anarchist critique, in smashing the ground beneath the dominant paradigm of civilization as the beginning of society, gives a holistic view of the nature of human economies. The expansion of the scope of analysis to put humanity's three million year history of hunting and gathering on the table of discourse on humanity and human economy, indicates that for 99% of human history, and for the .001% of modern hunter-gatherers the mode of existence is and has been egalitarian, without property, nomadic, non-territorial, without institutionalized violence nor weapons of war. These facts have important implications that devastate the linear notions that provide the foundation of such statements as those which would attempt to frame war and terrorism as products of the failure of the civilizing process. To those who promote the notion of human progress, without civilization humanity is a state of nature is warfare, violence, and competition that is progressively phased out through the civilizing process. This framework views human history as though it begins in war and ends, some day, with enough progress and civilization, in peace. In fact, the actual history of our species is exactly the reverse.

War is Impossible: A Prehistoric Political Economy
In foraging bands (hunter/gatherers) conflict is resolved through fission, with no property there is no economic motivation to stay only with one group, one gives up nothing material by leaving for another band in times of social conflict. Territorialism is almost nonexistent, informal if ever. The nomadic foraging pattern would not have been conducive to settling an area and declaring it property, and further building a culture of war and a science of weapons would have been made impossible when all that one owns must be carried one's back. In foraging cultures there exists no locus of power, groups do not compete within a paradigm of power politics. In these cultures, the economic system existed without the political element of political-economy, it was more accurately human-ecological economy. What would have been considered by economists as the material base or the raw materials was not controlled by any societal political entity, as power didn't exist. What controlled the economy on the landscape was biodiverse chaos, limited competition and mutual aid among all members of the community of life in the wild. While of course dynamics of distribution of food occurred within culturally conditioned parameters, there were no institutionalized, organized, sectors of society, or external political entities that determined the availability and use of resources. So where does institutional political economy begin? With property, sedentism, and domestication. The first emergence of this was 10,000 years ago in the near east, later in East Asia, and the New World. Power beyond the scope of 25 - 50 person foraging bands and their egalitarian power dynamics, began at these points and spread in the wake of the conquest of settled societies and civilizations across the globe. The emergence of power, the power of men over women, of men over nature, and of men over animals is based on an economic shift, the beginning of institutionalized political economy as opposed to ecological economy. With domestication begins the production of surplus and hence the need to control the surplus, with sedentation begins the need to declare partitions of the landscape as now belonging to some unit other than all of the band and all life, with surplus food production begins population stress, disease, and social, political, and economic conflict. All of these conditions lead to varying degrees of what we might call war in both "primitive" and "complex societies." War and violence over resources, centralized power over land and resources is in essence the subject of analysis in political economy, the above discussion should provide that these conditions are as recent as the last 10,000 years of human history, representing less than 1% of human history, and zero percent of the history of modern hunter/gatherer societies.

Peace Is Impossible: A Historic Political Economy
At the root of socio-political complexity beyond the foraging band; into the lineage, tribe, big man, chiefdom and agricultural state, is political-economic conflict, war to various degrees, intensifying respectively. This kind of warfare over the propertization of and dominion over resources by men on various scales goes far beyond who's in office, far beyond who's a Marxist, far beyond capitalism, it goes all the way to capital, and its origins ten thousand years ago. Inextricable are complex society and war. As soon as property emerges in the form of food production surplus, the long war begins, against the earth, against women, against animals, and against slaves. This is not just a metaphor. War is the foundation of civilization, political-economic conflictuality between power holders and against the populace with the emergence of capital, power and control. This is a universal, cross-cultural phenomenon, its origins are discussed at length by eco-feminists, primitivists, and anthropologists. To demand peace within the civilized order of the world would be analogous to asking a bird to fly without wings. Civilization will not make peace with its citizens nor the earth, it will continue its war as thousands of protestors do nothing to fundamentally change its trajectory. Those in power must take solace in the fact that leftists demand peace, not only is this the most unattainable objective, further, it is a state that can be in the minds of the leftists made to occur within the context of civilization. A shallow peace if it can occur within a system that's very existence has been a 10,000 year war against the earth and culture. While some peaceniks may have the ultimate vision of peace the entails the destruction of the state and the industrial system, they seem to be few in number within the bulk of the hibernating liberal troops that populate peace demos at times of notable disruption in the status quo by way of military activity in the world. The peace movement is not asking for nor contributing to actualizing industrial collapse, nor is it articulating its message as even anti- industrial. It conceives of civilization and industrialism as "peace (as it accepts civilization and industrialism)," with war only occurring when ephemeral disruptions in that peaceful process of mining the world and massacring culture appear in their scope i.e. media events like Sept. 11th and "war." With or without bombings, with or with out the existence of missiles and the military, war is a constant and has been for 10,000 years. If the message is to stop the war, they better be talking about destroying the industrial system.
Uh-Huh 10.Jan.2002 21:01

Ambivalent Gent

You're absolutely right about the context that allows war as we know it to exist. It's rooted in the capitliast-industrialist system of hierarchy/militarism/patriarchy, etc. The cumbersome apparatus that makes up the modern state in its various forms seems to be locked in a pattern of competition, or a race to see who can dominate what without the others getting in the way.
As much as this goes for many nation states, there is one empire that is now more dangerous than all the rest, and that's the U.S. oil/cia/corporate regime's map-boundary, armed to the teeth and then some...
So I agree that war and civilization go together. The peace movement is fundamentally flawed. Nonetheless, I have to give them some credit for trying to change consciousness, to whatever degree...it's not glamorous or easy work, and it doesn't rely on easy answers...unfortunately, to some, a call to do away with industrialism seems even farther removed than a call for statis "peace.."

While I agree with, and see the importance of your critique, and see its far reaching vision, to a large degree it remains limited to text, and can, at worst, fall into self-important posturing.
(not accusing GA of doing that.)
Feeling a little bit of civilized despair I guess.