This edition deals primarily with the views of Christopher Chase-Dunn, who I consider the leading world systems theorist. Global Formation: Structures of the World-Economy (1989) is an intellectual tour de force as is the more recently published Rise and Demise: Comparing World Systems which was co-authored with Thomas D. Hall in 1997. Readers are indeed priviliged to share his perspective on many aspects of modernity covered in the interview. Professor Chase-Dunn has shared the updated introduction to the second edition (1997) of Global Formations and it provides an excellent overview of the world systems approach. The diagrams that go along with it are not included, so buy the book!
There is no science digest in this nor will there be in the next issue. Reason: no time. I do reprint some articles on scientific, primarily genetic, subjects, garnered from the web. I also identify, for the investment-minded subscriber, several biotech firms with possible competitive advantages. As promised, next issue will deal with paleoanthropology and there will be some wide-ranging reports on the work of the Leakeys, Ian Tattersall, and Franz de Waal. If I have the time, and my wallet hopes not, I will also introduce readers to the amazing research of Walter Burkert.
Global Formation was written in an epoch before globalization had become a popular buzzword. Several world-scale developments have occurred in the interim -- the demise of the Soviet Union, the further rise of the East Asian economies and their recent problems, the most recent wave of "democracy," the emergence of the "information age" and the continued expansion of international economic and political integration under the banner of neoliberalism. These developments have been interpreted by many observers as harbingers of a new, qualitatively different, stage of global capitalism.
Most discussions of globalization assume that, however defined, it is a fairly recent phenomenon. One of the basic claims of the world-systems perspective is that in order to understand continuities and new developments we must put recent events into long-run historical perspective. Once one conceives of the collection of national societies as composing a larger structure, the shapes and institutional processes of the whole system may be studied. Then we can tell if recent phenomena are truly unique or are rather continuations of cycles and trends of long duration.
I still hold to the basic position that I staked out in Global Formation (hereafter GF)-- if we take a long-term view of the structural constants, cyclical processes and secular trends that have operated in the Europe-centered system for several centuries we can understand that there have been no recent major transformations in the developmental logic of the world-system. Of course, the value of this emphasis on continuity is entirely dependent on the validity of the model. The schema of constants, cycles and trends explicated in Chapter 2 needs only minor modifications despite the apparently unique features of the "new world order."
The world-systems approach presented in GF requires that we think structurally. We must be able to abstract from the particularities of the game of musical chairs that constitutes uneven development in the system to see the structural continuities. The core/periphery hierarchy1 remains, though some countries have moved up or down. The interstate system remains, though the internationalization of capital has perhaps further constrained the abilities of states to structure national economies. States have always been subjected to larger geopolitical and economic forces in the world-system, and as is still the case, some have been more successful at exploiting opportunities and protecting themselves from liabilities than others.
In this introduction to the second edition of GF I will review those momentous events that have occurred since 19852 that many allege have greatly transformed the world and I will provide an interpretation of these within the context of my model of structural constants, cycles and trends. I will also discuss several recent contributions to social science that are relevant for our understanding of world-systems. There has been a huge new corpus of research that is relevant to the main topics covered in Global Formation. It is not possible to review all this research, but I will especially consider those studies that challenge the theoretical and empirical claims contained in the following chapters. I will also reconsider the implications of world-systems studies for our efforts to survive and make good on Earth. Those seeking a more basic introduction to the world-systems perspective may want to consult Shannon (1996).3
The world-system has been discovered by the public at large. The existence of a competitive world economy is now a conventional legitimation for all sorts of actions and decisions in public and private life. The globalization of finance, investments, production for export, and transnational corporate strategies are discussed and analyzed daily along with considerations of global information flows, global culture and the emergence of global political institutions. As recently as 1990 I had to explain to the disbelieving students in my Introductory Sociology course that their breakfasts contained the labor of people on distant continents. This fact is now taken for granted as a natural aspect of the global economy in which we all live.
Most of the globalization discourse assumes that until recently there were separate national societies and economies, and that these have now been superseded by an expansion of international integration driven by information and transportation technologies. The world-systems perspective, on the other hand, argues that national societies have for centuries been parts of a larger international system in which transnational and international economic and geopolitical forces have importantly conditioned the development of national societies and economies.
Students of the modern world-system see international integration as a long-term trend with already significant amounts of international investment, trade and political-military competition in earlier centuries. World-systems analysts also know that economic integration has been a cyclical feature of the larger system, with some periods of local and national autarky followed by other periods of greater international integration.
If we calculate the ratio of international investments to investments within countries, the world economy had nearly as high a level of "investment globalization" in 1910 as it did in 1990 (Bairoch 1996). Similarly, if we calculate the ratio of total world international exports to the sum of all the country GDPs, there was a very high peak of "trade globalization" just before World War I, with a rapid decrease thereafter until 1950 and then a slow rise to the current very high level of trade globalization.
These trajectories of economic globalization indicate a rather more complicated history of world-system integration than the commonly held notion that the world was formerly composed of separate local and national economies and then there was a surge of globalization in recent decades. Most contemporary observers assume that the current period is unique. Indeed, the rapid rate of technological change has produced a blindly obsessive focus on the present which relegates events before World War II to the dustbin of ancient history.4 But the evidence about the trajectories of international economic integration indicates that, to the contrary, comparisons of twentieth century patterns of development with those of earlier centuries can indeed help us to understand our own times.
One important new body of social science that has mushroomed since the publication of Global Formation is the application of world-systems concepts to the study of stateless and precapitalist societies. Anthropologists, archaeologists, world historians and civilizationists have adapted the notions of core and periphery to help explain the patterns of social change that occurred in the more distant past. Much of this research is reviewed and critiqued in Sanderson (1995) and in Chase-Dunn and Hall (1997). Chase-Dunn and Hall reformulate key world-systems concepts for the task of comparing very different systems and for using whole systems as the unit of analysis in a new synthetic theory of social evolution. They abstract from spatial scale to compare small-scale systems composed of sedentary and nomadic hunter-gatherers with larger regional state-based systems and the contemporary global system over the past twelve thousand years.5 Chase-Dunn and Hall (1997: Chapters 5 and 6) adapt the population pressure-intensification-circumscription explanation of hierarchy formation and technological change to the study of whole world-systems and add the hypothesis of "semiperipheral development" to explain transformations of systemic logics -- the transitions from small normative stateless systems to tributary empire systems and the eventual emergence of market forces and the modern capitalist system.
The comparative world-systems perspective developed by Chase-Dunn and Hall does not require the reformulation of the schema of structural constants, cycles and trends presented in Chapter 2 of GF. The very long term perspective does reveal that many of the dynamic processes that operate in the modern world-system are analogous to patterns that can be seen in earlier systems. Kondratieff waves (forty to sixty year business cycles composed of A-phases of expansion and B-phases of stagnation) probably existed in tenth century China. The hegemonic sequence (rise and fall of hegemonic core powers) is the particular manifestation in the modern system of a general sequence of centralization and decentralization of power that is characteristic of all hierarchical world-systems. In all world-systems small and large, culturally different groups trade, fight and make alliances with one another in ways that importantly condition processes of social change.
The larger comparative perspective shows us which features are unique and which are more general, but it does not require any basic reformulation of the schema in Chapter 2. The comparative world-systems approach does, however, provide new insights into the emergence of capitalism and possible future transformations of the contemporary system posed in the last chapter of GF. Considerable support is found for the hypothesis of semiperipheral development -- that semiperipheral locations within core/periphery hierarchies have long been fertile locations for the invention and implementation of new institutions that have promoted upward mobility to core status and transformed the developmental logic of systems. Semiperipheral marcher chiefdoms and semiperipheral marcher states played central parts in the building of larger polities -- states and empires. Semiperipheral capitalist city states were the leading agents of the spread of commodity production and market exchange in the interstices of the tributary empires. The coming to predominance of capitalist accumulation in Europe was made possible because of Europe's semiperipheral location in the already-commercialized Afroeurasian world-system. And it was semiperipheral nation-states -- the Dutch, the British and the United States -- that attained the position of hegemonic core state and further expanded and intensified capitalist production in the modern system.
The hypothesis of semiperipheral development also implies that semiperipheral regions are likely to play an important role in possible future transformation. It may be supposed that the demise of the Soviet Union and the reintegration of China into the capitalist world-economy is evidence against the notion of semiperipheral development. This problem is further considered below.
A deeper temporal perspective on world-system history has also been employed by Andre Gunder Frank and Barry Gills (1993). They focus attention on the structural continuities that have characterized the history of the "Central" system that emerged with primary state formation in Mesopotamia five thousand years ago. They note that uneven development and core/ periphery/ hinterland relations and cyclical processes of growth and stagnation have characterized this system from the start. While it is an important advance to recognize the structural and processual continuities that have existed in state-based world-systems, Frank and Gills deny that any qualitative transformation in the mode of accumulation occurred with the rise of European hegemony. They correctly see that aspects of commodified wealth, goods, land and labor have long existed in state-based systems. From this they deduce that the Central system has always been capitalistic. But the comparative world-systems approach developed by Chase-Dunn and Hall (1997) studies how normative accumulation was transformed into state-based (tributary) accumulation, and how commodification emerged slowly and unevenly for thousands of years to eventuate in the predominance of capitalist accumulation with the rise of European capitalist core states in the seventeenth century.
More recently Frank (1998) has argued that China was for centuries the hegemonic power in the Afroeurasian system and that Chinese hegemony lasted until 1800. Frank also contends that the European predominance was a short interlude and that hegemony is now shifting back to East Asia. It is true that China had the largest cities on Earth until the early nineteenth century and that Chinese manufactured goods were long superior to those produced in Europe. But Afroeurasia was a system in which three non-contiguous core regions (West Asia, India and China) interacted with each other by means of mainly prestige goods exchange. While China did have a comparative advantage in the production of luxury goods for this trade, China did not have political/military influence over the other distant core regions.
This is a very different situation from the contemporary period in which there is a single global political/military network as well as a single global network of trade in both prestige and basic goods. All cores define themselves as the center of the universe. But it is the ability to back up this claim with force and economic power that constitutes true hegemony. The possible future hegemony of East Asia would have to be within a single global core, not within a multi-core system of the kind that formerly existed in the Afroeurasian system before European hegemony.
As mentioned above, Chapter 2 of GF proposed a schema of structural constants, cyclical processes and secular trends that are claimed to represent the main institutional processes and patterns of development in the modern world-system as a whole. Chapters 3 and 4 contest the various formulations of stages of capitalism and argue that the schema of constants, cycles and trends can adequately capture the structural history of European hegemony and capitalism without resort to periodization into qualitatively different stages. Since this was written new versions of the stages of capitalism (especially the latest stage) have been proffered and the schema needs to be reconsidered in the light of these challenges. Here I present a simplified version of the schema explicated in Chapter 2.
The structural constants are:
1. Capitalism -- the accumulation of resources by means of the production and sale of commodities for profit;
2. The interstate system -- a system of unequally powerful sovereign national states that compete for resources by supporting profitable commodity production and by engaging in geopolitical and military competition;
3. The core/periphery hierarchy -- in which core regions have strong states and specialize in high-technology, high-wage production while peripheral regions have weak states and specialize in labor-intensive and low-wage production.
These structural features of the modern world-system are continuously reproduced. Elsewhere I argue that they are interlinked and interdependent with one another such that any real change in one would necessarily alter the others in fundamental ways (Chase-Dunn, 1989).
In addition to these structural constants, there are two other structural features that I see as continuities even though they involve patterned change. These are the systemic cycles and the systemic trends. The basic systemic cycles are:
1.The Kondratieff wave (K-wave) -- a worldwide economic cycle with a period of from forty to sixty years in which the relative rate of economic activity increases (during "A-phase" upswings) and then decreases (during "B-phase" periods of slower growth or stagnation).
2. The hegemonic sequence -- the rise and fall of hegemonic core powers in which military power and economic comparative advantage are concentrated into a single hegemonic core state during some periods and these are followed by periods in which wealth and power are more evenly distributed among core states. Examples of hegemons are the Dutch in the seventeenth century, the British in the nineteenth century and the United States in the twentieth century.
3. The cycle of core war severity -- the severity (battle deaths per year) of wars among core states (world wars) displays a cyclical pattern which has closely tracked the K-wave since the sixteenth century (Goldstein, 1988).
4. The oscillation between market trade versus more politically structured interaction between core states and peripheral areas. This is related to cycles of colonial expansion and decolonization and is manifesting itself in the current period in the form of emergent regional trading blocs that include both developed and less-developed countries.
The systemic trends that are normal operating procedure in the modern world-system are:
1. Expansion and deepening of commodity relations -- land, labor and wealth have been increasingly mediated by market-like institutions in both the core and the periphery.
2. State-formation -- the power of states over their populations has increased everywhere, though this trend is sometimes slowed down by efforts to deregulate. State regulation has grown secularly while political battles rage over the nature and objects of regulation.
3. Increased size of economic enterprises -- while a large competitive sector of small firms is reproduced, the largest firms (those occupying what is called the monopoly sector) have continuously grown in size. This remains true even in the most recent period despite its characterization by some analysts as a new "accumulation regime" of "flexible specialization" in which small firms compete for shares of the global market.
4. International economic integration -- the growth of trade interconnectedness and the transnationalization of capital. Capital has crossed state boundaries since the sixteenth century but the proportion of all production that is due to the operation of transnational firms has increased in every epoch. The contemporary focus on transnational sourcing and the single interdependent global economy is the heightened awareness produced by a trend long in operation.
5. Increasing capital-intensity of production and mechanization -- several industrial revolutions since the sixteenth century have increased the productivity of labor in agriculture, industry and services.
6. Proletarianization -- the world work force has increasingly depended on labor markets for meeting its basic needs. This long-term trend may be temporarily slowed or even reversed in some areas during periods of economic stagnation, but the secular shift away from subsistence production has a long history that continues in the most recent period. The expansion of the informal sector is part of this trend despite its functional similarities with earlier rural subsistence redoubts.
7. The growing gap -- despite exceptional cases of successful upward mobility in the core/periphery hierarchy (e.g. the United States, Japan, Korea, Taiwan), the relative gap in incomes between core and peripheral regions has continued to increase, and this trend has existed since at least the end of the nineteenth century, and probably before.
8. International political integration -- the emergence of stronger international institutions for regulating economic and political interactions. This is a trend since the rise of the Concert of Europe after the defeat of Napoleon. The League of Nations, the United Nations and such international financial institutions as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund show an upward trend toward increasing global governance.
How does this model stack up against recent developments and new insights produced by the global capitalism literature? The further expansion of transnational corporations and the globalization of financial transactions facilitated by new communications technologies can fit comfortably in this schema with the notion of the internationalization of capital. But what of the emergence of the so-called "information age," and the allegedly new accumulation regime based on "flexible specialization?" The information age idea takes many forms. An early version was Daniel Bell's notion of post-industrial society based on services. The pop-futurism about the Third Wave and the virtual society are more recent incarnations.
New technologies such as printing, steam engines, railroads, and telegraphs have always introduced new and unique organizational relations. But from the side of continuities we can ask whether or not these changes in technology and organization have altered the fundamental processes of capitalist accumulation. Technological revolution is one of the basic features of capitalism that distinguishes it from earlier modes of accumulation. Earlier modes also revolutionized technology, but at a much slower pace. The technological revolutions of the capitalist world-system have occurred cyclically in tandem with the phases of the Kondratieff wave. The new lead sectors of information processing and biotechnology are creating some new organizational forms, just as earlier leading technologies (textile manufacturing, railroads, chemical industry, automobiles) did. These earlier technological revolutions occurred in a context of uneven development in which some regions took the lead and others fell behind. They created new strata of workers and made older kinds of work obsolete. They expanded the scale of interaction and increased the rapidity and decreased the costs of communications. The earlier "miracles" were surrounded with the same kind of mystique and fascination as now characterize the information superhighway (where you can program your hair dryer from your car radio).
Flexible specialization is heralded as the latest stage of capitalism by those who hold to the "accumulation regime" school.6 This is the networking of small firms producing customized goods using highly skilled labor. It is contrasted with the earlier model of "Fordist accumulation" based on the production of standardized goods in large factories employing low-skilled labor. This new form is made possible by the falling cost of communications, transportation and information processing such that customized goods can be made economically available to larger markets. Flexible accumulation is not tied to large fixed capital investments, and so it is free to roam the world producing and marketing wherever opportunities are found. Flexible specialization alters the relationship between capital and labor. Large labor unions organized in big factories owned by huge firms are replaced by unorganized workers employed by small firms that are subcontracting with larger firms in a network of coordinated but decentered production.
If flexible specialization is indeed a new stage of capitalism we should expect to find that the size distribution of firms has changed. There has long been a business structure in which a huge competitive sector of small firms making slim profits struggles in an arena dominated by large corporations. Is it not perhaps the case that flexible specialization is mainly a continuation (with some new features) of the competitive sector? I have seen no evidence that the size distribution of firms in the world economy (or in the United States or any other country) has shifted toward a larger proportion of smaller firms. This may have occurred in some particular sectors, but not in the economy as a whole. On the contrary, the mergers of large firms have continued the process of the centralization of capital predicted by Marx.
A more convincing periodization of world capitalist development is Giovanni Arrighi's (1994) account of "systemic cycles of accumulation" over the last six centuries. Arrighi's analysis has the huge advantage of great temporal depth but his construction of both the structural continuities and the organizational uniquenesses of the different epochs focuses mainly on the top layer of finance capital and its relationships with the most powerful states in the system. Arrighi's structural narrative and periodization is a great improvement over earlier versions of the "stages of capitalism." But by focusing primarily on the top layer of the system Arrighi's analysis underestimates the role that class and core/periphery struggles have played in the evolution of the system and this constrains our ability to see possible future openings for transformational action that might fundamentally improve the developmental logic of the world-system. Arrighi's characterization of hegemony as "leadership" points to the important insight (from Gramsci) that a significant degree of consent based on a coherent ideology is a necessary aspect of global power in the modern system. But it also brings to mind the much more explicitly functionalist imagery employed by Modelski and Thompson (1994). What is needed is a model that pays more attention to the interaction between long term waves of capitalist expansion and the counter-expansion of anti-systemic movements of resistance to commodification, domination and exploitation (see Boswell and Chase-Dunn, forthcoming).
The term globalization has been used in a different way to refer to "the globalization project" -- the abandoning of Keynesian models of national development and a new emphasis on deregulation and opening national commodity and financial markets to foreign trade and investment (McMichael 1996). This is to point to the ideological aspects of the recent wave of international economic integration. The term I prefer for this turn in global discourse is "neo-liberalism." The world-wide decline of the political left may have predated the revolutions of 1989 and the demise of the Soviet Union, but it was certainly also accelerated by these events. The structural basis of the rise of the globalization project is the new level of integration reached by the global capitalist class. The internationalization of capital has long been an important part of the trend toward economic globalization. And there have been many claims to represent the general interests of business before. Indeed every hegemon has made this claim. But the real integration of interests of the capitalists in each of the core states has reached a level greater than ever before. This is the part of the model of a global stage of capitalism that must be taken most seriously, though it can certainly be overdone. The world-system has now reached a point at which both the old interstate system based on separate national capitalist classes, and new institutions representing the global interests of capitalists exist and are powerful simultaneously. In this light each country can be seen to have an important ruling class fraction that is allied with the transnational capitalist class.
Neo-liberalism began as the Reagan-Thatcher attack on the welfare state and labor unions. It evolved into the Structural Adjustment Policies of the International Monetary Fund and the triumphalism of global business after the demise of the Soviet Union. In United States foreign policy it has found expression in a new emphasis on "democracy promotion" in the periphery and semiperiphery. Rather than propping up military dictatorships in Latin America, the emphasis has shifted toward coordinated action between the C.I.A and the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy to promote electoral institutions in Latin America and other semiperipheral and peripheral regions (Robinson 1996). Robinson points out that the kind of "low intensity democracy" that is promoted is really best understood as "polyarchy," a regime form in which elites orchestrate a process of electoral competition and governance that legitimates state power and undercuts more radical political alternatives that might threaten the ability of national elites to maintain their wealth and power by exploiting workers and peasants. Robinson (1996) convincingly argues that polyarchy and democracy-promotion are the political forms that are most congruent with a globalized and neo-liberal world economy in which capital is given free reign to generate accumulation wherever profits are greatest.
The analysis of global culture is another cottage industry that has blossomed since the publication of Global Formation. The political science literature on international regimes (normative institutions) has continued to expand, and the "world polity" approach developed by John W. Meyer and his colleagues ( Boli and Thomas 1997; Meyer, Boli and Thomas 1997) has produced many important studies of how Western values and models of rational action have diffused throughout the world in the last century. Volker Bornschier (1996) has analyzed the emergence, spread and dissolution of the Keynesian societal model of national development. He has also proposed the notion of a "world market for protection" to explain how and why the central values of the West continue to become more institutionalized in the powerful core states and transnational institutions.
Though it is important to recognize that cultural agreements play a greater part in the construction of hegemony and institutionalized interaction than ever before, and that this has been an important upward trend over the last two centuries, the evolutionary perspective presented in Chapter 5 of GF needs still to be kept in the foreground. Most world-systems have been fundamentally multicultural, and the modern one remains primarily so. The modern world-system is not principally a global normative order. The cultural architecture of the system consists of multiple normative orders (national and civilizational) that are integrated by geopolitical and market forces. "Global" values and norms are still primarily those of the most powerful actors. Thus geopolitics and market forces rather than normative regulation continue to be the main integrational forces of the system.
The question of global culture has also been addressed by Jonathan Friedman (1994) and Albert Bergesen (1996). Friedman contends that shifts in philosophical approaches between universalism and particularism have been tied to phases of political centralization and decentralization for thousands of years, and that the current rise of postmodern philosophy is caused by and associated with the decline of United States hegemony. Bergesen makes a similar argument that ties swings in artistic styles to the rise and fall of hegemonic core states in the modern system. David Harvey's (1989) study of the ties between postmodernism and flexible specialization is also germane to this problem. While we need to recognize that political and ideological cycles have some important connections, these institutional realms are not tightly coupled. Indeed intellectual trends in the core of the system seem to have a developmental (and somewhat faddish) logic of their own that is only loosely related to organizational and structural changes.
Leslie Sklair's (1991) "sociology of the global system, "with its emphasis on "transnational practices" provides some important insights about the emergence of a global capitalist class, the diffusion of the culture of consumerism and the behavior of transnational corporations. But Sklair's temporal perspective is not deep enough for him to see the structural continuities that are central features of capitalism as a global system. Trans-societal practices and institutions have been important in the modern world-system for centuries and also in previous world-systems, though qualitatively different. There never was a time in which societies stood alone like separate billiard balls.
Sklair's critique of consumerism from the point of view of local cultural autonomy completely ignores the ecological constraints stressed by Peter Taylor (1996) in The Way the Modern World Works and by Peter Grimes (1998). Taylor and Grimes point out that the project of capitalist globalization that is premised upon the notion that Third World peoples can attain a standard of living similar to the peoples of core countries simply will not work. This model is a "global impasse" because if the Chinese try to eat as much meat and eggs and drive as many cars (per capita) as the Americans now do the biosphere will fry. This may be the most potent contradiction of global capitalism.
Sklair's critique of transnational corporate power is useful, but he ignores the most damning evidence -- all the crossnational studies that show that dependence on foreign investment has had a long-term negative effect on development. Studies that have tried to prove that these results are artifactual (e.g. Firebaugh 1992) have been strongly contradicted by more recent analyses (Dixon and Boswell 1996) and by newly discovered data from before World War II that shows that these negative effects of investment dependence persist for at least half a century (Kentor 1998).
Charles Tilly's (1990) study of capitalist cities and national states sheds some new light on the different paths of development in the modern world-system, but Tilly's rather too broad definition of capital leads him to fail to comprehend how capitalist accumulation and geopolitics have been combined by the most successful states in the modern system. His rather state-centric analysis is a useful antidote to economism, but the ways in which tributary states evolved into capitalist states is best understood in the very long-run perspective provided by the comparative world-systems approach.
What is unique about the modern system is its resistance to core-wide empire formation. To be sure there have been empires in the modern system, but they were colonial empires in which individual core states exercised domination over peripheral regions. The more usual pattern in pre-capitalist state-based systems was for semiperipheral marcher states to conquer a whole core region and establish (temporarily) a "universal state." Though this has been tried in the modern system (Napoleonic France, twentieth century Germany), it has not succeeded. Rather the most powerful states have been power balancers who have protected the politically multicentric structure of the core.
The modern hegemons have not done this because of ideological commitments to the principle of national sovereignty (which they have repeatedly violated in the periphery) but rather because capitalist accumulation (the production and sale of commodities) allows them to appropriate resources without having to resort to tributary extraction from adjacent core states. In fact capitalist accumulation is well-served by a decentralized core that is ineffectual at regulating capital flows and that allows private wealth great room to maneuver. The story of the evolution of capitalist core states should focus on the transition from semiperipheral capitalist city states (such as Venice and Genoa) to the intermediate form of the Dutch Republic, to the larger capitalist national core states -- the United Kingdom and the United States. The approach used by Arrighi (1994) and Taylor (1996) admirably succeeds, while Tilly's contrast between capitalist cities and tributary states misses many of the key aspects of this evolution.
The world-systems perspective contends that one important macrostructural process is the sequence of relative centralization and decentralization of political and economic power among states. The term employed for this phenomenon in Global Formation is the "hegemonic sequence." The Dutch hegemony of the seventeenth century7 is compared with the British hegemony of the nineteenth century and the U.S. hegemony of the twentieth century. The important research by George Modelski and William R. Thompson (1994) has provided valuable new empirical evidence about the relationship between the hegemonic sequence (which they call the power cycle) and Kondratieff waves. Their "twin peaks" model of paired K-waves for each power cycle features an intervening global war among core powers in which the leadership of the global power is consolidated. This model is quite compatible with the schema proffered in Chapter 2 of GF. The functionalist terminology employed by Modelski and Thompson and their stress on the positive contributions of "global leaders" (hegemons) may be galling to those who perceive the negative consequences of capitalist development as much as the wonders, but these matters of style and politics should not prevent us from acknowledging the important contribution that Modelski and Thompson have made to the empirical study of the system.
They predict an end in the near future to the power cycle as it has worked in the past. They foresee a second round of leadership by the United States that will lead to a condominium of democratic core states that will allegedly be able to resolve the contradictions of uneven development without having to resort to violent conflict.
Rasler and Thompson (1994) present a related, but somewhat different, approach that analyses the interaction between a global-level power cycle and a regional dynamic of rise and fall based on more traditional territorial aggrandizement. They note that the semi-core challengers to global leaders (France, Germany) have been states that sought to conquer adjacent core regions rather than to pursue a global strategy of accumulation based on trade, commodity production and high finance. This model of two interacting power cycles leads Rasler and Thompson to be somewhat less sanguine about future conflicts among core powers than the scenario painted by Modelski and Thompson. They foresee the possibility that a regional struggle in East Asia might once again lead to global warfare among the core powers.
Chase-Dunn and Podobnik (1995) predicted a future "window of vulnerability" for warfare among core powers in the 2020s based on a model of the factors that increase or decrease the probability of war. This model combines aspects of the schema of Chapter 2 with other trends that are known to affect warfare. It assumes that the hegemonic sequence and the Kondratieff wave will continue to operate as they have in the past and that U.S. hegemony will continue to decline and the K-wave A-phase will come to a peak somewhere in the 2020s. States will have resources to spend on war and the old institutions of world order will be seriously incongruent with the changed distribution of economic power. The model also takes account of the trends toward increasingly destructive military technology, disarmament, and international economic and political integration. Chase-Dunn and Podobnik point out that if the U.S. is able to keep its control over weapons of mass destruction then there will be no war among core powers, but the processes of uneven development make this an unlikely prospect. A true world state (with the power to outlaw warfare) might also solve the problem, but no one is predicting the emergence of such an entity within the relevant time period.
Regarding long waves of economic change, there have been several major contributions in recent years. David Hackett Fischer (1996) has produced a fascinating study of very long price waves over the past 800 years. His historical narrative and data on long waves of inflation and deflation depict a demographically-driven demand process until the nineteenth century, and then a somewhat different process in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Christian Suter's (1992) fine study of debt cycles shows the close connections between K-waves and cycles of financial expansion and contraction in the world-system since the early 1800s.8 Interestingly, the most recent debt crisis has not (yet) led to international financial collapse, suggesting the conclusion that global regulatory agencies such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank really have made a difference in coordinating the actions of core lenders and negotiating restructuring of obligations that have prevented major escalating defaults. This indicates the increasing importance of international political integration in recent decades.
Peter Grimes (1993) has produced a valuable analysis that compares national GDP growth rates to see how synchronized they are over time. Rather than showing the hypothesized long-term upward trend that would be the outcome of steadily increasing international economic integration, Grimes shows that synchronization is cyclical, with periods of great differences among growth rates followed by periods in which they are quite synchronized across countries. This finding supports the idea that economic globalization is substantially cyclical.
The main difference (besides wording) between the schema present above and the discussion in Chapter 2 of GF is the addition of one trend -- international political integration. I am convinced by Suter's (1992) research on debt cycles and by Craig Murphy's (1994) study of the growth of international non-governmental organizations that the trend toward global governance should be part of the model of system dynamics. The ability of the international financial institutions to negotiate a soft landing for the debt crisis of the 1980s, rather than a repeat of international financial collapse, is an indication that the integration of the global capitalist class is having important consequences for the operation of the system. This said, I do not see the early emergence of a true world state, nor would I overemphasize the decline of the logic of the interstate system. Rather interstate geopolitics continues to be an important dynamic at the same time that global governance and a more integrated global capitalist class are emerging.
The last chapter of GF goes well beyond the evidence to consider questions about the future course of the world-system. The globalization discourse, the demise of the Soviet Union, the reincorporation of China into "business as usual," the world-wide retreat of the left and the further rise of East Asia are all trends that challenge the speculations made. Most especially, one might conclude that the notion of semiperipheral challengers transforming the system now seems anachronistic. Indeed, challenges of any kind might seem unthinkable as history ends with the triumph of global capital.
But I see cracks in the smooth face of global corporate capitalism. Rather than simply disbanding in the face of flexible specialization and corporate job blackmail, labor movements in many countries are trying to figure out how to survive and prevail in the new age. Worker internationalism now seems less a utopian slogan than a necessary organizational requisite. The problems are great, but unions are trying new approaches and taking new risks.9
The costs of globalized money -- rapid floods of funds and equally rapid withdrawals -- are becoming more apparent. Along with the recitations about competitiveness and the necessities of free trade and deregulation we are now beginning to hear voices who speak about the ecological and social consequences of international competition and cooperation. The most obvious response to triumphal corporate globalization is a renewal of economic nationalism. This is almost certain to happen as the bloom of wonderous global capitalism fades. The world-systems perspective reminds us that waves of economic nationalism have occurred before and, though some may be temporarily protected from market forces, the temptations of globalization will again become potent.
In the long run, the solution is "globalization from below" -- the creation of cultural and organizational ties among peoples from different countries to coordinate actions and forms of resistance to global capital (Robinson 1996). I have mentioned only labor above. Women's organizations and environmental organizations have long been ahead of labor with regard to internationalism. Though people from all countries will need to take part, I expect that the most potent organizational challenges will come from those semiperipheral countries that did not experience "real socialism" (communist states), but where the contradictions of global capitalism are strong and the organizational potential for popular movements to attain political power are great.
The idea of global democracy is important for this struggle. The movement needs to push toward a kind of popular democracy that goes beyond the election of representatives to include popular participation in decision-making at every level. Global democracy can only be real if it is composed of civil societies and national states that are themselves truly democratic (Robinson 1996). And global democracy is probably the best way to lower the probability of another war among core states. For that reason it is in everyone's interest.
The progressive response to neoliberalism needs to be organized at national, international and global levels if it is to succeed. Democratic socialists should be wary of strategies that focus only on economic nationalism and national autarchy as a response to economic globalization. Socialism in one country has never worked in the past and it certainly will not work in a world that is more interlinked than ever before. The old forms of progressive internationalism were somewhat premature, but internationalism has finally become not only desirable but necessary. This does not mean that local, regional and national-level struggles are irrelevant. They are just as relevant as they always have been. But, they need to also have a global strategy and global-level cooperation lest they be isolated and defeated. Communications technology can certainly be an important tool for the kinds of long-distance interactions that will be required for truly international cooperation and coordination among popular movements.
It would be a mistake to pit global strategies against national or local ones. All fronts should be the focus of a coordinated effort. W. Warren Wagar (1996) has proposed the formation of a "World Party" as an instrument of "mundialization" -- the creation of a global socialist commonwealth. His proposal has been critiqued from many angles -- as a throw-back to the Third International, and etc.10 I contend that Wagar's idea is a good one, and that a party of the sort he is advocating will indeed emerge and that it will contribute a great deal toward bringing about a more humane world-system. Self-doubt and post-modern reticence may make such a direct approach appear Napoleonic. It is certainly necessary to learn from past mistakes, but this should not prevent us from debating the pros and cons of proposed action.
The international segment of the world capitalist class is indeed moving slowly toward global state formation. The World Trade Organization and the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) are only the latest elements in this process. Rather than simply oppose this move with a return to nationalism, progressives should make every effort to organize social and political globalization, and to democratize the emerging global state. We need to prevent the normal operation of the interstate system and future hegemonic rivalry from causing another war among core powers (e.g, Wagar 1992; see also Bornschier and Chase-Dunn 1998). And, we need to shape the emerging world society into a global democratic commonwealth based on collective rationality, liberty and equality. This possibility is present in existing and evolving structures. The agents are all those who are tired of wars and hatred and who desire a humane, sustainable and fair world-system. This is certainly a majority of the people of the Earth.
1. A review of recent studies that measure the position of countries in the core/periphery hierarchy is in Chase-Dunn and Grimes (1995).
2. The manuscript of Global Formation was mainly completed in 1985 though the book did not appear in print until 1989.
3. If this introduction is opaque I suggest reading Shannon (1996) and consulting the glossary on pages 346-8 in GF. A separate bibliography of important new publications is included at the very end of the book.
4. Time horizons also vary culturally. One of Mao's foreign ministers, when asked about the consequences of the French Revolution, said that he thought it was still too early to tell.
5. A case study of a very small world-system composed of sedentary foragers is reported in Chase-Dunn and Mann (1998). Studies of other regional systems in precontact North America are in Peregrine and Feinman (1996).
6. David Harvey (1989) provides a fine summary of this literature.
7. Important evidence about the nature of the Dutch hegemony is provided in Misra and Boswell (1997).
8. A useful overview of the evidence regarding K-waves before 1800 is presented in Dassbach, Davutyan, Dong and Fay (1995).
9. See the articles on global labor organizing in the special issue of the Journal of World-Systems Research (1998:4,1) (http://csf.colorado.edu/wsystems/jwsr.html).
10. See the critiques of Wagar's proposals in the special issue on "Global Praxis" of the Journal of World-Systems Research, Volume 2 1996. (http://csf.colorado.edu/wsystems/jwsr.html)
|Randall Collins and Immanuel Wallerstein believe that the end of the current capitalist world system will occur within the next two generations. Are you in agreement and if so what are the precipitating factors?.|
|CCD||Nothing is inevitable. Capitalism could be reformed or fundamentally restructured. I favor restructuring, but reform might be ok if it works. The precipitating factors are three crises: growing inequalities, ecological disaster, or another war among core states. These might
exacerbate one another.|
I expect that all three will come to a head within the next 2 generations. The problem of hegemonic rivalry will probably be at its peak in about 25 years, the top of the next K-wave upswing. The ecological disaster might be piecemeal or world-wide. This depends on the form that it takes. Inequality within and between countries will keep on growing, as long as capitalist growth keeps up. Reform would have to start early and come on strong. There is little sign of that now. More likely there will be crises, and the restructuring of the capitalist world-system will be generated by crises themselves.
If you have not seen Warren Wagar's A Short History of the Future, I recommend it highly. [A brief outline of this book is present at the world party web site at http://csf.colorado.edu/wsystems/archive/praxis/wp/index.htm.]
|2.||In Global Formation (1989) you reiterate your earlier work, co-authored with Richard Robinson (1977) detailing the interaction of power-block and state formation, unequal exchange, and class struggle as the key areas reproducing the core/periphery hierarchal structure of the modern world system. With respect to power block formation, have you been following the work of H. E. Livingstone, the co-author (along with photographer Robert J. Groden) of High Treason: The Assassination of JFK & the Case for Conspiracy (1998) which implicates an "intragovernmental cybernetic machine" (p. 373) with close ties to military-industrial complex, big oil, and American-based multinational companies? Do you consider evidence of this power block a severe limitation on American democracy particularly if you believe, as I do, that your current President, clearly represents their interests in his missile defence folly?|
|CCD||I have not read Livingstone. The answer to the question in your last sentence is yes. The strength of this block is the main reason why the US will not be able to lead a core condominium to reform capitalism and prevent the crises I discussed in my first response. But the reaction to this gang by a populist movement in the US, which is entirely possible if US economic hegemony falters (as I think it will), would not necessarily be able to solve the problems either. Again, see Wagar.|
|3.||You place your hope for democratic socialism in the semiperiphery. What countries do you see with sanguine prospects and won't the core countries do everything in their power to de-stabilize them?|
|CCD||India, Mexico, Brazil, Korea, Indonesia, maybe China or Russia. Of course the threatened global capitalist class will try to use the power of core states to neutralize or crush these progressive states. This is why it is important to mobilize a democratic socialist movement within the core states to prevent intervention. The world party can do this. See the discussion of the world party in Boswell and Chase-Dunn.|
|4.||Readers of KR04 will note my high hopes for the Blair government expressed in an essay I composed in 1997. Four years later, I note how superficial many of the changes were and am dismayed at the Blair government's cooperation in the vilification and bombing of the Serbs alongside the U.S. Please comment.|
|CCD||[answer not provided]|
|5.||Rise and Demise is a spectacular work in the sense of its panoramic integration of pathogen spread, war, politics, prestige and bulk goods-trade, and cultural cross-pollination among other factors but there are a number of comments I wish you and co-author Thomas Hall would have elaborated on. For example, you refer on p. 154 to the "so-called Aryan invasion of the Ganges Valley" -- what do you mean and do I have to revise my typification of Hinduism as a conquest and stratification cult?|
|CCD||[Referred me to co-author Thomas Hall]|
As I looked at your page, no need for revisions. That statement was simply a repeating of the conventional accounts of how Aryans came into South Asia as portrayed in most world history texts. To go into more details in R&D would have entailed much more space and research, and regardless of the resolution of various disputes about who did what when, our argument would not have changed. The "so-called" was a brief way of indicating there is now some dispute among historians about an "invasion" which might have been a gradual expansion. In short, we/I was ducking taking sides on the debate.
|6.||I also don't understand why you seem to accept Ekholm and Friedman's characterization of Marvin Harris as a vulgar materialist (p. 26) when you earlier acknowledge his contributions as a cultural materialist (p. 22). Please comment.|
|CCD||We should have made it clearer that we do not agree with Friedman's characterization of Harris.|
|7.||The term postmodern is ubiquitously applied these days but there are so many contradictory tendencies that the term is rendered, for all practical purposes, useless in my opinion. Nevertheless there are those who term themselves postmodernists and I wonder if you are sympathetic to any particular expressions?|
|CCD||No. It is a way to be radical chic without being marxist. I am a marxist.|
|8.||As a follow-up, are there any trends in postmodernism to which you are unsympathetic?|
|CCD||Well, I am unsympathetic with most of it, except that at a very basic level it is critical of the powers that be. I agree with that.|
|9.||What are your thoughts on the emerging movement against globalization as exemplified in the mass protest against the FTAA in Quebec City last month?|
|CCD||I am also against corporate globalization. But I am for democratic socialist globalization. Retreat back into the local or national community simply will not work. Socialism must be organized on a global scale.|
|10.||I seldom tire of informing anyone I can tie down and force to listen to me that cultic contamination is a function of three overlapping complexes: massive sociological, historical, and scientific ignorance; fear of or inability to cope with the finality of death; and the socio-cultural capital and emotional energy generated by participating in status-reinforcing, identity-forming, solidarity building interaction rituals. Do you agree with or have anything to add to my encapsulation?|
|CCD||What do you mean by cultic contamination?|
|KK||Cultic contamination equals religion. I typify the eight major world cults as follows, starting from the least and working upwards to the most sophisticated: hinduism - conquest and stratification; buddhism and taoism - quietistic, lifestyle; shintoism, confucianism, and judaism - ancestor; christianity - miracle, and islam a behavioural cult. what do i mean by sophistication? as we ascend the ladder, we note less reliance on supernaturalism, more respect for women and democratic participation, and less racialism.|
|CCD||[no answer provided]|
|11.||At what age and under what circumstances did you first become committed to democratic socialism?|
|CCD||Well I got radicalized in the 1960s antiwar movement. I was in Berkeley in 1964. My understanding of what democratic socialism will require is still developing.|
|12.||What are your thoughts on Ralph Nader's impact on the recent Presidential election?|
|CCD||I support Ralph. He did the right thing. It is always hard to be a true alternative in a winner-take-all system. But if the pink-greens keep trying they can change the balance of power in the US. Gore was better than Bush, but not a lot better. The Clinton regime had its own version of the missile defense system. Gore would have been better on the environment and energy. But that gang will not get cornered without a powerful mass movement that mobilizes those who did not vote. That is what Ralph was trying to do.|
|13.||In Global Formations, you describe the US as a declining hegemonic state. However in the context of the problems now faced by Japan Inc. and the West German absorption of the East, the U.S. decline is seems less obvious. Please comment.|
|CCD||It seems less obvious for 2 reasons: 1. the financial bubble created by massive investment inflows from Europe and East Asia, as well as the bloated world securities balloon that never deflated during the debt crisis of the 1980s; 2. the dot.com fizzle lets a little out but the basic problem is still there. This is not a stable basis for a new hegemonic cycle.|
|14.||To inhibit you from considering this question na´ve, I wish to remind you that in Marx's Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right, he writes that the critique of religion is a prerequisite for all criticism. My own work is heavily weighted towards this and I have my own characterization of what it means to be a marxist [lower case "m" a conscious choice]. Could you describe your own self-definition as a marxist?|
|CCD||You mention religion. As Marx was, I am a humanist. It is the left enlightenment with a dash of hubris about civilizational roots and awareness that other civs have fine versions of the same thing. I don't bother to critique the religions of others because I am a multiculturalist. People can worship whatever they want as long as they treat others fairly. Boswell and I make this point in the context of our critique of Wagar in the spiral book. Wagar wants everybody to become secular humanists. We want a world party of all people who believe in the fairness of global democratic socialism regardless of what religion they hold to.|
Regarding my marxism, it is pretty eclectic and critical of some things that have been major pieces of the approach of many marxists.
I critique teleology and inevitabilism. I think a narrow view of workerism is wrong. I champion other antisystemic movements equally with labor (indigenism, environmentalism, feminism). Many marxists might define me as outside the circle. but I am faithful to Marx's basic intentions -- to make a structural and critical social science that can understand capitalism and show how to transform it into something better. to create equality out of hierarchy, to move the human species toward the next level of intelligence and wisdom. I am not a Marx worshipper. I respect him.
|KK||Are you sympathetic to those like Lucio Colletti who distinguish Marx from Engels?|
|CCD||Yes. Engels was not Marx. But he was great. I am trying to find my own Engels. I suppose you want one too. Maybe we could share. I like Engels. His work on evolution was primitive but interesting. I remember that I was much influenced by his Anti-Duhring but I cannot now remember what the main point was. My 1980 collection Socialist States in the World-System (Sage) has some interesting stuff if you want to see how these ideas developed.|
|15.||Are you planning a second edition of Global Formation in the near future?|
|CCD||The second edition of global formation came out in 1998 from Rowman and Littlefield with a new introduction. [It was this question which prompted CCD to send the introduction.]|
|16.||Randall Collins believes that a great deal of progress analyzing revolution has been made. He credits his own work and that of Michael Mann, Theda Skocpol and Charles Tilly with establishing "a new paradigm that revolutions are really produced by state-breakdowns with a prior chain of fiscal crisis" [KR02]. The corollary of this is that social movements have only a narrow window of opportunity to be effective. Are you in agreement with this perspective?|
|CCD||Add Jack Goldstone to the above list. The w-s suggests a somewhat revised version of the idea of revolutions. See the spiral book for the development of the distinction between world revolutions and national revolutions. But the two are not separate in reality. World revs are carried out in part through national revs. The question becomes: when do states break down? Some of this is random. Some systemic. Big changes also occur after world wars. They are systemic and a major cause of state breakdowns.|
The problem is that we cannot allow any more world wars. We must figure out how to make radical social changes without having wars among core states and violent hegemonic rivalry. Plan A needs to prevent another round of violent hegemonic rivalry and ecological catastrophe at the same time that it figures out how to mobilize people to institutionalize global democracy and socialism. Plan B needs to figure out how to make these changes if either another world war or ecological disaster occurs despite our efforts. In Wagar's scenario, the world party comes to power after another world war. We must try hard to stop that, but be ready to move if it should occur anyway (as I think is likely).
|17.||In the inaugural issue of The Kaufman Report, I attempted to pacify the mass need for god within the context of a scientifically cogent argument detailing the centrality of paradox and evolution. What advice can you proffer to the sociologically and scientifically sophisticated to de-culticize our societies?|
|CCD||Don't worry about it. Go with the Cuban approach to Catholicism. Have alternative fun camps for the kids to do sports and screw each other. Efforts to either repress or rail against religion do not work. They just create reaction.|
If you want to do something with religion and philosophy, work on the non-European civilizational sources of democracy and collective rationality. This is badly needed for the philosophical basis of the world party, a party of all the humans.
|18.||Professor Chase-Dunn, I have a Russian friend who describes reality as lived in that country as surreal. He describes it in terms of the symptomology of schizophrenia, referring mainly to corruption and systemic inanity. He argues that intelligent Russians are compelled to surreally invent a de-surreal internal world in order to cope. Do you have a sociological description or model or paradigm for this phenomena?|
|CCD||Yep. I know some Russians too. Some are fine. They are the ones that focus on history and the sublime, and the efforts to make good on earth. Call this surreally inventing a de-surreal internal world, or call it sanity. The others cannot seem to break out of the nonsense that surrounds them. They are depressed. They do not understand their own history. They buy into the definition of the Bolshevik revolution as a bunch of madmen. Actually even the healthy ones I know do that.|
|19.||19. This is another question I will put to all the eminent sociologist whom I will be interviewing. In Western Europe, Scandinavia, England, and Canada, the left has moved to the centre. Everywhere the influence of the labour movement is waning. An explanation would have to note the demise of the Soviet Union, the failure of any geographic region to develop a socialist model applicable globally, the crisis of leadership in the democratic left, and the current economic boom period. What else is contributing to the decline of self-conscious labour?|
|CCD||One could add many other countries as well to your list: China, New Zealand, maybe Vietnam, maybe North Korea and South Africa. But not Brazil, Mexico, India, South Korea, or Indonesia -- the non-communist semiperiphery.|
Why is the left declining? This is the spiral of capitalism and socialism. They provoke each other to expand. The last round of capitalist expansion enveloped the kinds of socialism that were institutionalized in the earlier round: welfare states and business unionism in the core, communist states in the semiperiphery, and national liberation movements in the periphery. This was not only a matter of the dueling defense expenditures of the US and the Soviet Union. It was also the amazing ability of capitalism to revolutionize technology. The wonder of information technology really dazzles people. That dazzle leads them to accept much of the rest of the package without criticism or with tolerance. But this wave of global capitalism also has its contradictions: increased inequalities, ecological degradation, and the massive increases in the destructiveness of military technology. These will come to the fore, and they will create opposition. It is our job to organize the opposition so that it can effectively overcome these problems and construct global institutions that are democratic and sustainable. We can do this.
|20.||Please collaborate with me on "Sociology: The Movie." Compose a scene or plot element.|
|CCD||[no response forwarded]|
|21.||Aside from world systems sociologists, who else in the field do you admire?|
|CCD||Many including: Janet Abu-Lughod, Charles Tilly, Immanuel Wallerstein, Michael Mann, Stephen Sanderson, Mike Davis, Saskia Sassen, and Stephen Bunker.|
|22.||Do you read fiction? Which authors particularly impress you?|
|CCD||Isaac Asimov, Patrick O'Brien, Ursula K. Leguinn.|
|23.||When will you publish your next book and what will be its subject?|
|CCD||Just out is Globalization on the Ground: Post-bellum Guatemalan
Development and Democracy from Rowman and Littlefield.|
Nothing else is in the works. I am doing research on structural globalization and on the development of cities and empires in state-based world-systems. I may get into studying biotechnology as a global industry.
|24.||Do you favour marijuana's legalization or decriminalization and do you see any societal impact if such change were implemented?|
|CCD||Yes and not much.|
|25.||As this interview comes to its conclusion, I wish to delve a little deeper into the one and only area where I feel we disagree. During the course of this interview I believe that you downplayed or underestimated the impact of cultic contamination (religion). In GF you credit sociology's lack of influence to its youth, its political biases, and its multiparadigmatic nature "in which empirical research does not have much affect on the commitment of scientists to one or another body of axioms" (p. 335). These factors are, in my opinion, of limited impact compared to the dominance of anti-sociology -- the major cults -- which destroys or at the very least is inimical, with very few exceptions, to the development of a sociological imagination. You say: don't worry, look at the Cuban model. But cultic contamination is spreading beyond the spiritual. Just consider Varda Burstyn's work on the cult of hypermasculinity, the celebrity cults, and the cult of youth. Please comment.|
|CCD||I don't want to attack cults or religion. I want to increase the number of people who are tolerant of the beliefs and ways of others. A tolerant secular humanism is my religion. I try to spread it to my children and students. And I try to get people to work on the big problems of our species.|
There is no winning religious arguments. Most people want the human species to survive with as little suffering as possible. Those who disagree with this are not a majority. They can believe what they want as long as they do not act against others.
|26.||When I asked Randall Collins if he had any suggestions as to what future issues of The Kaufman Report should deal with, he suggested I deal with your work specifically, Having done so, I now ask this question of you. I also wish to take this opportunity to express my sincerest appreciation for your kind cooperation.|
|CCD||Global Governance. Global inequality. The future of Warfare. Warren Wagar.|
In the simplest possible terms, the fiscal crisis of the state [FCS] refers to the fact that there are almost infinite demands for the state to do and spend more but inadequate resources committed to paying to meet these demands. One of the major theses of the book is that elite interests (specifically wealthy investors and large corporations) wish to, and have been successful in maintaining a drive, to shift the tax burden to the rest of society. FCS is "the tendency for government expenditures to outrace revenues" (2). FCS conceals underlying social crises at least partly attributable to structured inequalities manifested for instance in the fact that "The volume and composition of government expenditures and the distribution of the tax burden are not determined by the laws of the market but rather reflect and are structurally determined by social and economic conflicts between classes and groups" (2). Indeed, the major feature of the U.S. as an advanced capitalist society is that the interrelationship of "individual well being, class relationships, and national wealth and power" is "bound up in the agony of the cities, poverty and racism, profits of big and small business, inflation, unemployment, the balance-of-payments problem, imperialism and war and other crises . . ." (3).
James O'Connor [O] proposes to answer core questions (who pays? can services be rationalized? why are people are hostile to socialized forms of policy delivery? and will the current fiscal crisis be sustained or will a new system evolve?) by focusing on the political-economic within an enterprise termed fiscal sociology. "We need a theory of government budget and a method for discovering the meaning for the political economy and society as a whole" (3). Traditional economic theory, fatally compromised by assuming market neutrality, is bankrupt. The most widely disseminated mainstream work, Richard Musgrave's The Theory of Public Finance for instance which concerns itself with normative or optimal conditions for the public household insufficiently appreciates capitalist growth dynamics. In terms of a history of ideas, O cites Rudolph Goldscheid, a German Marxist whose works State Socialism or State Capitalism (1917) and another one in 1919 inaugurated the field of fiscal politics, and Jospeh Schumpter whose optimism on the benefits of fiscal sociology proved unfounded. But fiscal sociology must take a Marxian stance in viewing taxation policy as integral to, when not a direct expression of, class conflict.
Summing up the theory of the fiscal crisis, O's major qualification is that he is not concerned with verifying hypotheses or providing anything remotely like comprehensiveness on the subjects of state finances or budgeting. The aims of this book are more modest -- "to elucidate the relationship between private and state sectors and between private and state spending" (6) in the context of the 1945-1970 period in the U.S. The lessons of this book nevertheless pertain to the first decades of the twenty-first century as I shall show.
Two major premises inform O's approach: capitalist states are concerned with accumulation and legitimization which often involve contradictory processes and the analytical prism must be Marxist-inspired and focus on social constant and variable capitals. The implication of economic contradictions is a tendency to crises. Social constant capital equals capital committed to the conditions for private accumulation; social variable capital equals capital committed to consumption which functions to reduce labor reproduction costs. In order to understand economic developments one must be aware of the fact that all state expenditures feature elements of both capitals which in mainstream terms are inadequately classified as social capital investment and social expense. "Precisely because the accumulation of social capital and social expenses occurs within a political framework, there is a great deal of waste, duplication, and overlapping of state projects and services" (9).
The state is clearly involved in the capital accumulation process with numerous intersections beyond taxation including health, education, and labour standard policies but in order to work best, the state must conceal the fact that at its core it itself is a reflection of contradictory forces and processes. The inability of traditional economic theory to come to grips with the core contradictions and the fact that "Particular expenditures and programs and the budget as a whole are explicable only in terms of power relationships within the private economy" (5) are the key indicators of the bankruptcy of traditional economic analyses. In sum, traditional economists are loathe to acknowledge the non-market influenced private appropriate of surplus value.
O uses the late capitalist categorization which regular readers of this journal may note I find inadequate. Nevertheless, the goal of elucidating the dynamics between private and state sector investment and spending is vital for all analysts. Plotting in empirical terms the legitimation and conditions for accumulation function of the state or the way that state growth "is both a cause and effect of monopoly capital" (8), O concludes that the "growth of the state sector is indispensable to the expansion of private industry" (9). If this is true, Dubya's economic agenda of reducing the state sector will actually be harmful in the long term.
If there's one thing that analysts and activists across the political spectrum agree on today it's that we live in an era of economic globalization. This is taken by both critics and cheerleaders as self-evident and largely unprecedented. We should think twice about this consensus.
The concept that has now entered daily speech as "globalization" is both exaggerated and misspecified. It's described as an innovation, when it's not; it's described as a weakening of the state, though it's been led by states and multistate institutions like the IMF; it's been indicted as the major reason for downward pressure on U.S. living standards, even though most of us work in services, which are largely exempt from international competition; and it's been greeted as an evil in itself, as if there were no virtue to cosmopolitanism.
Let me expand a bit on each of my opening claims. First, the novelty of "globalization." One of my problems with this term is that it often serves as a euphemizing and imprecise substitute for imperialism. From the first, capitalism has been an international and internationalizing system. After the breakup of the Roman Empire, Italian bankers devised complex foreign exchange instruments to evade Church prohibitions on interest. Those bankers' cross-border capital flows moved in tandem with trade flows. And, with 1492 began the slaughter of the First Americans and with it the plunder of the hemisphere. That act of primitive accumulation, along with the enslavement of Africans and the colonization of Asia, made Europe's takeoff possible.
Not only is the novelty of "globalization" exaggerated, so is its extent. Capital flows were freer, and foreign holdings by British investors far larger, 100 years ago than anything we see today. Images of multinational corporations shuttling raw materials and parts around the world, as if the whole globe were an assembly line, are grossly overblown, accounting for only about a tenth of U.S. trade. Ditto trade penetration in general. Take one measure, exports as a share of GDP. By that measure, Britain was only a bit more globalized in 1992 than it was in 1913, and the United States today isn't a match for either. Japan, widely seen as the trade monster, exported only a little larger share of its national product than did Britain in 1950, a rather provincial year. Mexico was more internationalized in 1913 it than was in 1992. Exports are just one indicator, for sure, but by this measure, the distance between now and 1870 or 1913 isn't as great as it might seem.
Indeed, it's probably more fruitful to think of the present period as a return to a pre-World War I style of capitalism rather than something unprecedented, and to rethink the Golden Age of the 1950s and 1960s not as some sort of norm from which the last 25 years have been some perverse exception, but the Golden Age itself as the exception.
Another thing that must be rethought is the role of the state, which we constantly hear is withering away under a new regime of stateless multinationals. While there's no question that the state's positive role has been either sharply reduced or under sharp attack, its negative/disciplinary role has grown. In the U.S., we've experienced a mad, cruel incarceration boom, accompanied by increased snooping and behavioral prescriptions. Elsewhere, the neoliberal project has been imposed by states, whether we're talking about the Maastricht process of European union, or structural adjustment in the so-called Third World - states acting in the interests of private capital, of course, but that's the way states have been acting for centuries. And, over the last 20 years, we've seen an almost entirely new role for the state, preventing financial accidents from turning into massive deflationary collapses - our S&L bailout of the 1980s, far from being unique, was replicated in scores of countries around the world, most extravagantly in Mexico right now, where a massively expensive (and controversial) bank bailout is underway.
OK, so what about pressure on living standards? We First Worlders have to be very careful here, since, as I argued earlier, the initial European rise to wealth depended largely on the colonies, and while we can argue about the exact contribution of neocolonialism to the maintenance of First World privilege, it's certainly greater than zero. It was embarrassing to hear Ralph Nader and the Fair Trade Campaign describe NAFTA and the World Trade Organization as threats to U.S. sovereignty, echoing the rhetoric of Pat Buchanan; Washington has been abusing Mexican sovereignty for over a century - which is why it's a good idea to stop saying globalization when you mean imperialism.
But I'm not going to deny that plant relocations to Mexico and outsourcing contracts in China have put a sharp squeeze on U.S. manufacturing employment and earnings, and the threat of those things has greatly reduced the bargaining power of U.S. workers. How much has this contributed to downward mobility and increasing stress? The econometricians say that trade explains, at most, about 20-25% of the decline in the real hourly wage bewteen 1973 and 1994. (The real wage has actually been rising for the last five years.) That still leaves 75-80% to be explained, and the main culprits there are mainly of domestic origin. I'd say an important reason that trade doesn't explain more of our unhappy economic history since the early 1970s is that 80% of us work in services - and a quarter of those in government - which is largely exempt from international competition. What did "globalization" have to do with Teddy Kennedy and Jimmy Carter pushing transport deregulation, or with Reagan's firing the air traffic controllers, with Clinton's signing the end-of-welfare bill, or with Rudy Giuliani being such a repressive pig? What does "globalization" have to do with cutbacks at public universities or the war on affirmative action? While lots of people blame the corporate downsizings of the 1990s on the twin demons, globalization and technology, the more powerful influences were Wall Street portfolio managers, who were demanding higher profits - which they have gotten, by the way, which is one of several reasons why the Dow has done so well.
And when did internationalization become something feared and hated in itself? I got a piece of email a few months ago from a feminist group claiming that globalization was threatening to undermine commitments made at the Beijing women's conference. But what is the Beijing women's conference but a kind of globalization? A couple of women who attended that conference told me that contacts made there by some Latin American women's groups allowed them to organize for the first time against domestic violence. Isn't that both global and good?
Now there's no reason, as Keynes said, why a British widow should own shares in an Argentine railway. Nor is there any reason why Bankers Trust should run Chilean pension funds, nor is there any good reason why GM should be taking advantage of Korea's crisis to buy up that country's automobile industry. The case is a bit murkier when it comes to relative peers - what precisely is so horrible about Toyota running plants in Tennessee, aside from the ecological horrors of the automobile and the social horrors of capitalist production relations?
Surely there are things being traded now that wouldn't be traded in a more rational, humane world. The only social gain in Nike's producing shoes in Indonesia is claimed by Phil Knight and the shareholders of Nike. Indonesian resources and labor would be much better devoted to feeding, clothing, schooling, and housing Indonesians than making $150 running shoes while being paid pennies an hour. It's a tremendous waste of natural resources to ship Air Jordans halfway around the world. Export-oriented development has offered very little in the way of real economic and social development for the poor countries who've been offered no other outlet.
But does that mean trade itself is bad? Does that mean the movement of people across borders is bad? I thought the left opposed xenophobia and embraced intercourse of all kinds among the people of the world. Why do we find so many people lost in fantasies about self-reliance, pining away for a lost world that never really existed? Why, in other words, do so many people treat globalization itself as the enemy, rather than capitalist and imperialist exploitation?
But we can hardly say "capitalism" anymore, much less socialism. Instead, we say "globalization," and "technology." And that's bad for both intellectual analysis and transformative politics. --
Doug Henwood -- Left Business Observer Village Station - PO Box 953 New York NY 10014-0704 USA +1-212-741-9852 voice +1-212-807-9152 fax
I pulled the following off of the WWW. It represents the first part of an article on the Human Genome [Mapping] Project. Race is confirmed as an scientifically untenable but the family of man metaphor is extended -- we're not just in the same family, we're identical twins. Knowing the genetic sequencing is one thing, knowing the interactions within the sequencing is another.
Sunday, Feb. 11, 2001
First Look at Human Genome . . .
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The first in-depth look at the human genetic code has revealed much less than anticipated -- about half to a third the number of expected genes, scientists will announce on Monday.
They said their findings so far made it clear that far from being a blueprint, the human genetic code was only a guidepost. The true directions for what makes a human being lie not in letters of code but in what the body does with that code.
They have found a few interesting tidbits.
Most of the variation -- the mutations that underlie evolution and bring gradual change -- is on the Y chromosome. That means men are responsible for most mutations, because only men have a Y chromosome.
They have also confirmed that there is no genetic basis for what people describe as race, and found only a few small differences set one person apart from another.
"You and I differ by 2.1 million genetic letters from each other," Craig Venter, chief scientific officer at Celera Genomics Inc., which carried out one of the two studies being published, said in a telephone interview.
"Probably only a few thousand of those differences account for the biological differences between us, which means we all are essentially identical twins -- even more than I thought."
I've also pulled the following from the Progressive Sociologist's Network list service.
February 19, 2001
Two groups of researchers released the formal report of data for the human genome last Monday -- on the birthday of Charles Darwin, who jump-started our biological understanding of life's nature and evolution when he published "The Origin of Species" in 1859. On Tuesday, and for only the second time in 35 years of teaching, I dropped my intended schedule -- to discuss the importance of this work with my undergraduate course on the history of life. (The only other case, in a distant age of the late 60's, fell a half-hour after radical students had seized University Hall and physically ejected the deans; this time at least, I told my students, the reason for the change lay squarely within the subject matter of the course!) I am no lover, or master, of sound bites or epitomes, but I began by telling my students that we were sharing a great day in the history of science and of human understanding in general.
The fruit fly Drosophila, the staple of laboratory genetics, possesses between 13,000 and 14,000 genes. The roundworm C. elegans, the staple of laboratory studies in development, contains only 959 cells, looks like a tiny formless squib with virtually no complex anatomy beyond its genitalia, and possesses just over 19,000 genes. The general estimate for Homo sapiens -- sufficiently large to account for the vastly greater complexity of humans under conventional views -- had stood at well over 100,000, with a more precise figure of 142,634 widely advertised and considered well within the range of reasonable expectation. Homo sapiens possesses between 30,000 and 40,000 genes, with the final tally almost sure to lie nearer the lower figure. In other words, our bodies develop under the directing influence of only half again as many genes as the tiny roundworm needs to manufacture its utter, if elegant, outward simplicity.
Human complexity cannot be generated by 30,000 genes under the old view of life embodied in what geneticists literally called (admittedly with a sense of whimsy) their "central dogma": DNA makes RNA makes protein -- in other words, one direction of causal flow from code to message to assembly of substance, with one item of code (a gene) ultimately making one item of substance (a protein), and the congeries of proteins making a body. Those 142,000 messages no doubt exist, as they must to build our bodies' complexity, with our previous error now exposed as the assumption that each message came from a distinct gene. We may envision several kinds of solutions for generating many times more messages (and proteins) than genes, and future research will target this issue. In the most reasonable and widely discussed mechanism, a single gene can make several messages because genes of multicellular organisms are not discrete strings, but composed of coding segments (exons) separated by noncoding regions (introns). The resulting signal that eventually assembles the protein consists only of exons spliced together after elimination of introns. If some exons are omitted, or if the order of splicing changes, then several distinct messages can be generated by each gene.
The implications of this finding cascade across several realms. The commercial effects will be obvious, as so much biotechnology, including the rush to patent genes, has assumed the old view that "fixing" an aberrant gene would cure a specific human ailment. The social meaning may finally liberate us from the simplistic and harmful idea, false for many other reasons as well, that each aspect of our being, either physical or behavioral, may be ascribed to the action of a particular gene "for" the trait in question. But the deepest ramifications will be scientific or philosophical in the largest sense. From its late 17th century inception in modern form, science has strongly privileged the reductionist mode of thought that breaks overt complexity into constituent parts and then tries to explain the totality by the properties of these parts and simple interactions fully predictable from the parts. ("Analysis" literally means to dissolve into basic parts). The reductionist method works triumphantly for simple systems -- predicting eclipses or the motion of planets (but not the histories of their complex surfaces), for example. But once again -- and when will we ever learn? -- we fell victim to hubris, as we imagined that, in discovering how to unlock some systems, we had found the key for the conquest of all natural phenomena. Will Parsifal ever learn that only humility (and a plurality of strategies for explanation) can locate the Holy Grail? The collapse of the doctrine of one gene for one protein, and one direction of causal flow from basic codes to elaborate totality, marks the failure of reductionism for the complex system that we call biology -- and for two major reasons.
First, the key to complexity is not more genes, but more combinations and interactions generated by fewer units of code -- and many of these interactions (as emergent properties, to use the technical jargon) must be explained at the level of their appearance, for they cannot be predicted from the separate underlying parts alone. So organisms must be explained as organisms, and not as a summation of genes. Second, the unique contingencies of history, not the laws of physics, set many properties of complex biological systems. Our 30,000 genes make up only 1 percent or so of our total genome. The rest -- including bacterial immigrants and other pieces that can replicate and move -- originate more as accidents of history than as predictable necessities of physical laws. Moreover, these noncoding regions, disrespectfully called "junk DNA," also build a pool of potential for future use that, more than any other factor, may establish any lineage's capacity for further evolutionary increase in complexity.
The deflation of hubris is blessedly positive, not cynically disabling. The failure of reductionism doesn't mark the failure of science, but only the replacement of an ultimately unworkable set of assumptions by more appropriate styles of explanation that study complexity at its own level and respect the influences of unique histories. Yes, the task will be much harder than reductionistic science imagined. But our 30,000 genes -- in the glorious ramifications of their irreducible interactions -- have made us sufficiently complex and at least potentially adequate for the task ahead.
We may best succeed in this effort if we can heed some memorable words spoken by that other great historical figure born on Feb. 12 -- on the very same day as Darwin, in 1809. Abraham Lincoln, in his first Inaugural Address, urged us to heal division and seek unity by marshaling the "better angels of our nature" -- yet another irreducible and emergent property of our historically unique mentality, but inherent and invokable all the same, even though not resident within, say, gene 26 on chromosome number 12.
Stephen Jay Gould, a professor of zoology at Harvard, is the author of Questioning the Millennium.
Here's another story I culled from the www on genetically modified foods.
Are you the gambling type? What do you think the odds are that the cereal you ate for breakfast this morning contains untested and unlabeled Genetically Engineered foods?
100 to 1?
50 to 1?
10 to 1?
In 1999, one-fourth of American crops were Genetically Engineered, and Consumer Reports says that as many as two-thirds of all items on supermarket shelves may have Genetically Engineered food products in them. That means that every time you put that spoonful of cereal in your mouth, you're taking a big gamble, one that could adversely affect your health.
It's bad enough that Genetically Engineered foods have not undergone extensive testing. What's worse is that the companies making the foods we eat won't even label the use of Genetically Engineered foods. What are they hiding?
Here's a short list of SOME of the possible side affects of Genetically Engineered foods:
Genetic Engineering may set off allergies
In 1996, scientists discovered that soybeans that had been modified with genes from the Brazil nut triggered an allergic reaction in people allergic to Brazil nuts. Testing on animals did not reveal this flaw, and the release of the modified soybeans was halted just in time.
Genetic Engineering can create dangerous new toxins
In 1989, a genetically engineered dietary supplement, tryptophan, was released to the public. Thirty-seven Americans died, 1,500 were disabled permanently, and 5,000 became sick when the supplement produced a toxic contaminant in their bodies. The Food and Drug Administration recalled the supplement, but not before these tragedies ran their course.
Genetic Engineering can cause antibiotic resistance
Virtually all Genetically Engineered genes contain "antibiotic resistance markers" which help the producers identify whether the new genetic material has been transferred into the host food. The Food and Drug Administration's large-scale introduction of these antibiotic marker genes into the food supply could render important antibiotics useless in fighting human diseases.
The bottom line is that Genetically Engineered foods need to be tested and labeled. We deserve to know the affects of Genetically Engineered foods, and to know what's in our food so we can make informed choices.
So send your postcard to the FDA today - protect your health, protect the environment, protect democracy! http://www.gefoodalert.org/
Weitech Inc. - ultrasonic pest control
Medical Innovations Inc. - LungAlert (a simple test for lung cancer which will soon become a valuable screening tool)
Aventis Pasteur Inc. - canarypox Alvac (a cancer vaccine which may become in use within 5 years)