War is not an anomaly, nor an exception to the rule, it has always been with us and it might always be. Militarism and its practice in war are subcategories of waste (the harmful things we produce such as pollution and bombs) and domains of accumulation themselves. They are also prerequisites for the expansion of capital and its market economy. Much is done to portray war as an inherent attribute of human fallibility or an unintended consequence. However, mainstream concepts associated with the promotion of the market economy are weapons of the ruling class. They are all laced with poison. The facts are such that we have never been without wars. Amongst other economic functions, wars invariably act as measures of depopulation, regulating the supply of global labour.
My hypothesis is that a market economy requires a permanent state of war. Behind the crocodile tears for the human disasters and ‘white man burden,’ people and nature are of value in themselves and war does a good job at consuming both very quickly.
In a globally integrated production process, all idle assets are legal property and, as such, economic categories, influencing the production process and exchange either by being consumed, set aside or destroyed. Nothing escapes the rule of capital and its guns, which means that man and nature are commodified value, either actively or in suspended animation – the latter because commodities obey the time ordained by capital, abstract time as opposed to conventional time. This latter point is not too abstract if we think about it this way: people in power decide the time to engage and act and so we cannot think of time in terms of a conventional or chronological ordering; after all that is what is meant by totality when we say capital is a totality (I revert to this below). Just as hegemonic imperialism controls space, real time is also at its command. All the pollution humanity already produced, all the waste, has now entered the market to be sold for a price. Pollution was never free of charge. It was something of value whose time to enter the market and exchange for a money price is power derived, or decided by the power of capital.
To put things differently, to say that the nature and people that white colonists encountered abroad and exterminated had no value because they did not yet exchange for a price, implies that the wars and genocides were not a market that fetched a price for the skins of natives. It implies that destruction is not inherent to capital’s activity, and as such, ‘noble savages’ and their territories were just things whose obliteration did not generate any value. What is wrong with the western theory of value is that it assumes that value is an object or a thing. It omits the subject in value, the power relation in control of time and space, whose most ferocious form is imperialism.
The third world has somewhat become fortunate as a result of the environmental disasters simply because it entered the discourse as a victim of capital and its imperialism, just like nature. Although capital metabolises both man and nature, bourgeois elements such as those of the British royal family still posit that there are too many humans. It is as if, there is an infestation of some mammal species, which requires culling by Safari hunting trips. At any rate, the industry of war, insofar as it consumes people lives in short spans of time, is an intense surplus value producing activity. And as we know, it takes surplus value to undergird profit rates in a global production.
Across history, wars were always present, as they would be in class society. However, they acquire a distinctively destructive bent in a market economy dominated by finance-monopoly capital. Prior to the current capitalist mode of production, the one in which our lives came to depend on the market, that is before people started to sell their labour for a wage in highly mechanised factories that produce far in excess of society’s needs, empires, more often than not, did not destroy the peasants and their low-tech tools; obviously they needed them for more tribute. Long periods of stagnation and stability took root, longue duree as they have come to be known, because although political regimes may change, the economic base of society experienced little upheavals. A conquering empire would soon have to repair the irrigation canals and restore stability. Pre-capitalist crises were crises of underproduction and underconsumption, namely caused by nature.
As capitalism and its free market trade dawned, we began to produce for profits and in excess to existing demand. The regulation of the resources employed by society required the setting aside of people along with some of their outdated technological-means. Moreover, the private mode of appropriating moneyed-profits severed the compatibility between what people need and what people produce. We produced many things we did not need, or we literally produced waste and things that harm us. Waste, militarism and wars are foremost examples of what people do not need, yet society continues to produce. They are said to be alienated processes.
Although wars have always been with us, they are not the same in terms of their specific historical reasons, their forms are not the same, and the way they are conducted is no longer the same. To be scientific is to go beyond the unchangeable Platonic forms, the transhistorical or that which is true and the same across history; the word war itself may be the same, but its content and determinations are different as time and conditions change. Yes, empires still seek tribute and imperial rents, but one must look further into the shifting content of war under capitalism and its market economy. It is for instance complacent to say that ancient empires fought for power whenever a new empire rose, and so the US and rising China will also engage in war. The condition then are not the conditions now.
Organised capital requires bigger markets, but also cheaper labour and environmental costs. At first, we see that wars in market economies become regulators of production, which reduce the number of labourers or force more people to become refugees and hence reduce the wage bill. They also pillage nature – the depleted uranium in Fallujah still maims new-borns. Just as important, wars are fields of production themselves. US-imperialist spending on wars is the sort of investment that does not infringe on the market of the private sector. Defence, or more appropriately, offence, is not an area the private sector has taken up yet, whereas health and education are areas, it would like to see privatised. War spending and effort absorb excess profits (the economic surplus of which there are huge piles in the monopoly age) that would otherwise not generate much in returns or fuel demand and other crises.
As I have said, imperialist wars have been with us for long, but most recently one need only look at what has occurred in Yemen, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq to discover the new shape and objectives of war. One observes that countries attempting to control their own resources or assert their sovereignty are liable to fragmentation or to the destruction of their states. These new wars are blatant encroachment wars by which imperialism buttresses its own power standing as it destroys and takes control of the country as it tears it apart. It is almost a return to the colonial age but without the modicum of responsibility colonists assumed for the conquered population.
At any rate, in times of crisis, militarism and war spending are all the more necessary to take the market out of its slump. In a way, war is awful, but it does wonders for the macroeconomy, and it is the macroeconomy that matters. Tangentially, the case of the war in Syria is of particular interest since the presence of so many super powers there may augur bigger future wars. The latest American bombing of Syria in April 2018 could have been a major catastrophe had Russian forces been hit. We are living in an age, where a human mistake can precipitate a nuclear winter. Although remote, it remains a serious spectre that haunts us.
The last and this century are particularly significant in terms of the degree, frequency and intensity of wars. Imperialist wars and austerity reduce the population of the planet. They cut short population growth way below its historically determined potential; humans die prematurely. As you read this, there are many wars ongoing, there are many human deaths related to poverty, and many species on the planet are perishing. Around 30,000 people daily succumb to hunger and related causes. Not long ago, the human rights rapporteur on the right to food had said that one child perishes every four or five seconds from hunger and other preventable diseases.
These are manmade disasters, which essentially means class-made, because classes are the state of social being for people. Unfortunately, we have come to learn of wars and to cohabitate with them and, oddly enough, accept them as normal. As a society that lives by the proxy of the spectacle (as per Guy DeBord), we reject the gruesome shows of ISIS, yet we seem to be oblivious to the much bigger crimes committed by the western-suited people in charge of the planet. So long as their crimes are not conveyed to us as a spectacular show, they are out of sight out of mind. To paraphrase the astute activist Roger Waters, ‘we have become comfortably numb.’
There is a historically specific reason for the wars as I said and our de-sensitisation to them. We were born into a world whose ideas and institutions remake these disasters on daily basis. Indeed, the interlocutors of capital would have to proclaim that they work for peace and the reduction of poverty, but that is not the tendency under capital, the dominant relationship, because as I have mentioned above, the making of profits requires the setting aside or destruction of resources. These institutions and ideas (ideologies) are there before us and they are real; they are the result of past powers putting them in place to promote their interests. This is the objective and impersonal history, the family, the state, the race the nationality, etc., into which we come into life as living beings. To date, we have not changed that order of things, that history, which dictates our lives and will dictate the lives of future generations – that is if there will be more generations in the future.
In a sense, history happens against the wishes of most people. As to the question of what this history is? Let us just say it is the totality of the social relations of production, which in our case are capitalist relations. These capitalist relations that command history can be summarized as capital, a totalising relation without limits and with a rationality of its own, which transforms everything social into private class wealth and power. It basically rips apart the peasant from his tools or means of production just as it erect barriers between use and exchange value or between the social and the private. It does so mostly by means of violence.
As you can see what we call value is this particular relationship in which a labourer, through the labour invested in the commodity, produces things that it does not own or have use for, and that such a contradiction (abstract labour vs. use value) resolves as the commodity exchanges for money, from which the labouring class must earn less than what it takes to acquire a decent standard of living relative to the wealth prevailing at the time. Why relative to the wealth prevailing at the time, or the historically determined level of wealth, because it is absurd to compare someone dying from poverty and depleted uranium exposure at the age of say 43, and at the same time, say he should be happy, because in Sumerian or Neolithic times, he or she would have at best lived to 23 years. Time is also of shifting quality and incoherent. Value is a subject to object relationship, it is the commodity (object) and the people organised in social relationships to produce it (subject).
This value associated with the market phenomenon only arose as our lives became dependent on the market economy under capitalism. True, markets always existed, but never to the point where all of social life depended on them. We all sell our labour on the market for a wage. Again, one should not be formal or platonic with historical concepts. Things or markets have the same name, but they are different in content as time and their underlying conditions change. Prior to capitalism failures in the markets for long distance trade in luxury goods, which were puny, did not cause unemployment and misery on a large scale, as do market failures today. Markets have come to represent the social foundation of our existence and questions of degree matter for scientific investigations.
Nearly all commodities are destined for exchange under capitalism. Let us follow the classical Marxist line and propose that in these commodities there is some useful side that serves social ends (the apples and oranges), and an exchange side that serves private ends (the money profits for which they are sold). Although of late, nearly all commodities can be said to be underlaid with an environmentally deleterious content, which is in addition to the fact that commodities contain the child or slave-like labour and the blood of wars; their negative waste side trumps the goodness in them. However, for the sake of argument we say in the commodity as it exists objectively, outside of us, the private (exchange value) is set against the social (use value) and they repulse each other. We are in a world where the commodity we created is at war with itself in order to expand in money form as it sells on the market. All the commodities we create constitute our wealth. The owners of commodities create the conditions for the expansion of the market for commodities and always by means of war. They shape both the conditions for production on the cheap and sale on the dear. Through commodity fetishism or as commodities exchange for each other, driven by their own internal contradiction, these things lay down the conditions for their own expansion and always through violence. Not the profiteers, it is these things, the commodities we created, which order us to go to wars. And this is different from any other time prior to capitalism.
Commodities are not so useful anymore. Not only bombs, even apples and oranges pollute and poison us. Still, the war outside the commodity, has become a magnification of the contradiction of the value relationship within the commodity; that is so long as the product of labour and its usefulness are forcefully alienated from the direct producer and mediated by exchange, we will experience war. At this historical juncture, instead of just going to war for apples and oranges, we war for waste products. We go to war for the sake of war. This is an immensely powerful state of alienation. Such is the power of the commodity form and commodity fetishism.
Violence emanates from the very heart of the commodity under capitalism, a condition given its dues in the work of Frantz Fanon. For now, capital is an uncontrollable social relation, it is a process of being as a whole and the social map by which the whole reproduces itself is the simultaneous act of wealth creation and destruction. Evidently, waste in general and, war in particular, fall on the destruction side of the capital relationship as it reproduces itself.
Put anecdotally in a personal-like structure, for rich people to get richer they must make wars not only because wars make them money, but because wars make things cheap and puts them in control to continue to make money. Even if one tries to simplify reality it remains somewhat convoluted, as it should be, else the answers to everything would be too easy. In the immediate (that is as we observe things that are the products of history now), the interests of the few in leading positions, organised in various social forms, those who inherited the privileges and the wealth from previous generations, they would like to maintain things as they are and continue to expand the markets for more of the private wealth, while at the same time reducing the costs of labour and environmental inputs. The ruling class is the dominant relationship in capital, which in relation to other classes makes history, would not like to keep capital as it is, it would like to expand it.
Most working people are faced off against their institutions and ideologies (these are the structural forms of history), which like history, exist outside of them and controls them. Naturally enough, these institutions systemically promote the cheapening of labour and the environment by the most gruesome means. Obviously to make people and nature cheap, business and its class must pay people less or put back less into the environment, which means to lessen them in quantity and quality. Militarism as a domain of accumulation and its wars does a great job at both. I will explain why and how briefly.
To give structure to ideas, the world of which I speak is the real world that is governed by huge institutions like the UN the World Bank and the IMF and their mainstream ideologies. To be sure, there is no right or wrong or good and bad in ideology. There are class ideologies, and the ideologies of these institutions serve the imperialist class. These are not democratic institutions. They are principally ruled by the powerful US leading class, which is heir to the colonial European empires and its historically amassed power and wealth. Such a lopsided power structure trailing from the past favouring the western world, western in the ideological not geographic sense, produces game rules and ideas that promote the interest of the Western ruling classes and their allies downstream. It does so by maintaining unequal political, social and trade relations. For instance, heads of states in the powerful nations are the product of such domineering order and they perpetuate such a structure or the status quo.
That the US holds most power in the most important organisational bodies (the UN, etc.) in the world, is not a conspiracy, it is a fact available for everyone to see. That is, I am not speaking of people conspiring behind closed doors, although that happens too, I am speaking of the obvious: the world has been perpetually made into an uneven power structure, both at the level of institutions and ideas, to promote specific interests, which to date have undermined people and nature. This much we know after the fact, or ipso facto.
For capital to serve its interest, that is to produce things to sell on a market for profit, it also requires wars to extract raw material, oil extraction that pollutes for example, and union busting to lower wages, etc. Making wars for raw materials is a widely debated point. However, such an imperialist system also has to beautify the ugly reality and to concomitantly initiate ideas that convince even the people that are suffering that this is the best world of all the possible worlds. It cannot just say, we are going to kill the Arabs for their oil. For capital, this is the role of ideological production, which is just as important as commodity production. Capital produces the commodity and, through its schools, temples and media bombardment, etc., it also produces the human being who is submissively adequate for the uncritical consumption of that commodity.
Capital, that is the beneficial ruling class, would like us to believe that there is no alternative to this system. To this very notion, that there is not alternative, the late professor of logic Istvan Meszaros used to say that he would fail a student who says that there are no alternatives to an existing reality. Yet the catchphrase ‘there is no alternative (TINA)’ and the market economy (capitalism) is progressive still dominate the airwaves. Do not ask me how people can be so ignorant, so as to hear Margaret Thatcher repeat TINA so often. Sections of people can be held hostage to capital for lack of alternatives and fear of transition to a better world. That is a question related to the development of revolutionary consciousness, for which there is not enough space here to address fully.
Is capitalism really progressive? To inculcate such untruthiness, i.e. progressive capitalism, there are so many academic and media apparatuses remaking the language to fit the objectives of history and those of its people in charge. Orientalism, for instance, is one way of depicting the other or the ‘barbarian’ in lesser standing, but demeaning others is standard practice across history and in every class society. The real orientalism, the one that returns further gains to the powerful relationship of capital, to the ruling classes, such as racism, occurs at the juncture where the use of pejorative language can be put to use through a power platform to usurp/undermine the other, as in slavery or colonialism. Only sticks and stones break bones, words alone do nothing.
This orientalism with teeth is different from the salient critique of literature or art. It is based on the violent practice of discrimination in a particular historical phase; in our historical phase, that language and its attendant practice would be for example an R2P to save the Libyans. It is neo-colonial practice, which preserves much of the brutality of colonialism. It deprives the Libyan people from their state as the political platform through which they negotiate better living standards for themselves and, more importantly, from growing and producing in a world that has ‘too many people’ and machines and that already over-produces. Unquestionably, there are never too many people, but the market structures production for profit in such a way that it makes people redundant. It replaces living labour with machines or literally dead labour. That is why only under capitalism, the forcibly unemployed have a right to benefits as opposed to charity. Their unemployment is a constant social handicap, which is historically determined.
But the reigning ideology is not solely racist or orientalist vis-à-vis the East, it also denigrates and misleads and targets all the working populations east and west. The concepts produced by mainstream social science to convince people of the grandeur of the market economy is quite an insult to peoples’ intelligence and, I think it is a form of class to class racism irrespective of colour or ethnic boundaries. There is also a sort of ‘Occidentalism’ if you like.
For instance, in mainstream academia, the labels conspiracy, determinism and, worse of all, ‘structuralism acts as a god and explains everything’ are levied as derogatory remarks at inquisitive minds and critical students to discipline their thought processes. Let us ask ourselves a few questions to clarify these points. Can there be political action without backdoor negotiations serving disparate interests?
Can there not be determinism in theory; we know history is uncertain, but can we really not be deterministic about laws of development which form a tendency for things to happen? Can any theory be so eclectic to constitute an indefinite collection of facts that does not gel or rely on a specific law of development; or can any theory not be made simple, in the sense that, it can be attributed to the development of a pivotal relationship? Theory is grey, but green is the tree of life, as per Goethe. It is an illusion to amass a multifarious reality in the mind and make it complicated, as in reconstitute all the given phenomena in empirical facts. That is not theory. It is vulgar solipsism. After all, reality is dictated by simple laws and politics.
We as a society follow very simple rules, but the reigning ideology of the marketeers wants to confuse us. We call that method of bamboozling, reification, as in making real, the unreal, and or to separate all things of the social totality and make it look like a salad, instead of the coherent whole, which it is in theory. This is theoretical construction we are talking about and not the absurd enumeration of infinite actuality. That is literally useless, absurd and impossible.
To further illustrate, consider for instance the interrelated concepts of progressive capitalism and its consumer surplus. Capitalism creates wealth, it is progressive, and the consumer surplus is an indication of such improvement. True, capitalism produces wealth, and for a minority on the planet standards of living improve as they buy more things relative to their incomes. But the secular trend is for the majority to suffer and for the environment to bear the brunt of chaotic production. Prices are not innocent, and they allocate resources for a social outcome that serves the people who can manipulate prices.
Often people confuse prices with the real value of things. Prices are flawed representation of value because value creation is a process of production, or a social relation. Surplus value, which is the source of money profit, is never expressed in prices during its extraction. It is only after its realisation on the market that it assumes a price form determined by the power rapport of that market. For capital, prices/money are a tool, the dollar is a tool, they just need to control/destroy to keep their class power, they use prices to further exploit people by cheapening them and reducing their class power.
Now most working people can be cordoned off as the inferior others, we can say they do not deserve to share in the wealth because they are too primitive to use advanced machinery, or they are the ‘others’ by their national identity or colour, they can be poor because of constructed labels such as their culture, but not the environment. The degradation of the environment reaches everyone even those behind palace walls. Luckily nature does not belong to a tribe as the American Indian proverb says. And as we live in an age where humans impact the environment most (the Anthropocene) and as the planet under the market/profit way by which we organise to reproduce ourselves may totally become uninhabitable (remember we need to use labour and nature on the cheap), we then ask where is the progress?
Obviously, we must reorganise the way we produce to survive. We must reorganise man and nature. We already produce through social production, that is people getting together and cooperating to produce, and hence, we can cut out the privateers and the private intermediaries. The profit incentive already made extinct more innumerable animal and plant species than ever, and it is putting the planet at risk. There must be a better and more disciplining incentive for humanity in a planned development than otherwise. We must stem the foundational order of the market that requires destruction of nature and people to produce profits, all of this at a time when the very ideology of anything social or socialism, or anything to do with planning, is defunct. Moreover, rising identity politics divides working people across the globe. The task is daunting, but change is inevitable, because as the market expands and it harms everyone rich and poor. The chance of a turnaround grows as the masters of time, the organised privateers, lose control of social time, or the time it takes to take an initiative and turn things around.
What is waste-side accumulation?
In my work, I emphasise the intrinsic drive of capital to make wars and destroy people and nature. Of course, killing species including humans is a tragic act, but I look at the value-destruction side of things and how it contributes to production and accumulation. To put things bluntly, killing has always been a part of the market business. I call this side of capitalism the waste side. The market produces trousers and bombs at the same time. The trousers are ok, but the bombs, the pollution, this is the waste side. I think the production of waste has been instituted in forms of organisation and introjected in thought for so long, such that we fail to see it as part of the system. Just like apples and oranges, bombs are also commodities produced and alienated from the labourers who produce them. Just like apple and oranges, they acquire a price determined by the power of monopolists, and as such their exchange price and their money forms, as opposed to what we really need as a society, comes to dictate how we live. What I have added here is that I have just included waste products under what is known as commodity fetishism in political economy. The price or money form of the commodities we produce becomes a weapon against ordinary people, that is, they get less and less in wages in order to leave a higher profit margin.
It is important to think in holistic terms here. As the products of labour require inputs from all the world, the wages become the wages of all the world’s working people differentially distributed amongst them by the way they construct their own identity or skill differences. The global wage share of total income rises with internationalist solidarity and vice versa. The value, the labour, that society invests in a commodity is like nature: it does not have a tribe. In a sense, the global business class wins by driving working people apart. So, when one wants to identify capital, instead of pointing out the many rich people who own so much of the global wealth, a real barometer/reflection of the strength of the capitalist class, is how badly working people are divided against each other. The business class can still pay a certain section of working people higher wages, but overall if it destroys or drives hungry many others, it pays less in wages and keeps more for profits. Capital is always aware of the primacy of politics and the social nature of production, that is, the roots of profits are in the control and immiseration of the working class, which also accounts for the severity of inter-imperialist wars.
Like other commodities, bombs are also realised, sold on the market and consumed, but their cycle is an endless cycle engaging labour both as living and as dead people. Militarism unearths the macabre essence of capital. As production stages and areas of production are co-determined, and as capital seeks higher profits or the easy way out via militarism pollution and bombs (waste), wars become a domain of accumulation themselves, sort of like the factory, in its social organisational structure and its industrial culture altogether. Militarism is also an investment area, which unlike other investment areas that dip as time goes on, it always has the potential for growth. Remember states, unlike a single individual, create credit and money as they borrow; imperialist state debt is the credit afforded to growth whereas our debt is debilitating.
Sadly, war is big business not only for the money it earns as states issue bonds to absorb surpluses, which the financial sector loves by the way, or as private business free-rides on war’s tech-innovation, or as the state invests in the military and leaves health care to the private sector, etc., war is big business because it really lowers the value inherent in human lives, it takes away the will of people by destroying their organisations in order to cheapen them. The modern forms of wars which destroy states are massive forms of enslavement.
Here war acts as both an adjunct to the capitalist wage system and a wage system in itself. That is to say, it helps lower wages by hijacking the will of people and their states or unions (these are forms of social organisation), and it also employs workers for wages. The state is a form of peoples’ organisation in the third world and its destruction is of use to capital. By way of interjection, the Marxian wage system is far more pessimistic, brutal and aggressive than the Malthusian one. It always requires a diminution of the population because of crisis of overproduction. In my work, I emphasise the point that there are wars to capture natural resources, but what many people fail to recognise is that war is an end in itself.
It is this bequeathed history, the social relations, the rationality behind doing everything and anything to make profits at any expense and using people who believe in the pre-existing idea that ‘the system is great’ to promote that agenda, is also the overdetermining structure. But these people who take us to war and abuse us are unlike their rational master, history, they are irrational, because in the end, they will be hurting themselves, and they have already done too much damage as it is – most extinct species and people are irrepealable. I argue that history is impersonal, objective and rational insofar as it aligns all forces to serve the market, however, it serves the wrongs ends. I also argue that the waste economy, the wars, the militarism, and the pollution, is bigger than the regular economy, and that if we continue the way we are, the current stage of history may be its last. Evidently, to change the social relations, the classes at the helm of history, working people should, as it always has been, take command of history, foremost, the state.
Why is war more important than trade sometimes?
Let us just take Iraq’s war. Iraq was willing to negotiate, and it would have continued to sell its oil in the dollar, yet it was invaded, and the costs of its war were around 6 trillion in some estimates (estimates differ). But, these same costs were at the same time the investments in militarism, the credit earned by the financial sector and, in terms of money expansion, these trillions go around to create more credit and induce more investment. In short, the money costs of war were also multiple gains to the financial and military industrial sector – the financial first as it gains most. What were the other gains? Iraq as an opponent semi-sovereign state was destroyed reasserting the US’s lead position in the region and globally and millions of Iraqis died or migrated pressuring downwards the global wage. Moreover, the US’s working class is submissively paying for a war that supposedly saved their way of life; and what a way that is. Now had the US just traded with Iraq, which was a 50 billion US$ GDP country in 1990, it may have made off with say tens or a hundred billion in trade gains. So, without going into details, the trillion gains of war are tremendous in comparison to trading in Iraqi dates and oil. In fact, it is the war that forces oil everywhere to be traded in dollars, and for all the excess dollars to support US debt expansion. This is the new form of tribute or imperial rent.
The same applies to Syria. Why would the US be interested in a few billion dollar trade with a country whose GDP was around 40 billion US$ in 2007, when the pretext for the war in Syria drives a huge militaristic adventure which will be financed by taxpayers to the benefit of the financial sector. One can hardly see a western academic that does not demonise Assad to save Syria, just as happened with Iraq and Libya. There is no limit to the amount of cash that the US will spend on its war effort in Syria, including bribes to journalists and academics, which are also war effort. In macroeconomics, the capitalist class controls the state and earns what it spends and what the state spends to expand its business, especially militarism. To reiterate, these are war costs only to the working people, but are war gains for the financial class. It is the class as opposed to the fictional national divide that captures the flows of value.
Come to think of it, all of political Islam has been bred by colonialism and later imperialism. Today the US fights alongside AL Qaeda in Syria. What would it mean to Syrian women if a Salafist group assumes the reins of power in Syria. In Iraq, for instance, some reports about the rights of women after the American occupation and the rise of the Mullahs, rank it below Saudi Arabia. What sort of western liberalism supports American aggression in order to put obscurantists in power? One way to answer this question, and possibly the only way, is that liberals derive their consciousness partly from the imperial rents and privileges associated with imperialist wars.
Professor Ali Kadri teaches at the National University of Singapore (NUS). He was previously a visiting fellow at the Centre for Human Rights, London School of Economics. He is the author of The Cordon Sanitaire: A Single Law Governing Development in East Asia and the Arab World, Palgrave, 2017. he is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)