Nov 14, 2005

Ruling Class Views on France

There are some significant, and quite incompatible comments on the French situation from two distinct ruling class quarters – both of which I would see as neo-con and globalist. The first, from Thomas Barnett’s blog, is indicated below. The second is contained in Steven Steinlight’s comments to a recent panel on the subject held by the Center for Immigration Studies. It should be on either this group’s website, or on NPR’s.


The competing analysis on the Paris riots
■"Why France is burning with anger," comment by Dominique Moisi, Financial Times, 98 November 2005, p. 13.
■"Why Singapore hums as riots sweep France," by Roger Cohen, International Herald Tribune, 9 November 2005, p. 2.
■"A revolt of youth without religious motivation," by Roula Khalaf and Martin Arnold, Financial Times, 9 November 2005, p. 2.
■"Strife adds to familiar concern: Economic impressions," by Dan Bilefsky, International Herald Tribune, 9 November 2005, p. 6.
It ain't about religion, but about economic connectivity. The 'new proletariat' can't turn to Marxism, because that's too discredited. So when you're radicalized today, the one package that's both anti-capitalist and anti-Western is jihadist Islam.
No, it's not about religion and, quite frankly, it never is. It's about identity in a world where you're defined by your job.
Singapore works because Singaporeans work. Lee Kuan Yew's genius isn't just his clever use of affirmative action programs, its his ability to make Singapore an FDI magnet. The place has the highest inflows and outflows of foreign direct investment as a percentage of GDP in the world, because it's the most trusted government on trade and investment in the world, as captured in Economist polls of corporate CEOs.
So please, no clash of civilizations.
Not yet, at least. But expect Islamist parties to tap into that economic unrest and anger. If they represent that pain effectively, we'll see economic and political connectivity arise. France will do this against it's will, but it will do it to protect the country's own connectivity to the global economy.
Posted by Thomas P.M. Barnett at November


Anonymous said...

Hmm, how does this Barnett perspective differ from a revolutionary anarchist communist perspective? I tend to agree, not neccesarily about why or whether Singapore "works", but about what he's saying about France, yes, no?

RX said...

Barnett is a smart one. I first became aware of him about 2 years ago. Redboy puts Barnett in the "neo-Con" camp, which is not at all a stretch, although admitedly it is a STRETCHING of the term neo-Con to encapsulate a range of ruling-class perspectives on the future of globalization and the need to expand the "liberal and democratic" traditions of Western capitalism. What marks Barnett apart from most neo-Cons is that he is a Democrat. Still, when you look at his politics he is certainly a fellow traveller of the Leo Strauss school.

Anyway, Barnett may be correct on one level when refering to "discredited Marxism" but he posits Jihadism as the only viable alternative of anti-western capitalist resistance. For those of us from an revolutionary anarchists and libertrian socialist perspective we must ask if Barnett's perspective is legit. Do the "autonomist" trends and movements figure into the eqaution at all? For Barnett they are a non-issue unless he folds them into "discredited Marxism".

Barnett's main focus is the development of the idea of "the Core" & "the Gap". He talks about France slipping into the Gap on his blog...

France's take on their internal problems with immigrants and economics is the same as their approach to global issues: they bury their heads in the sand and just say Non! to everything.

The French lead in nothing except obstructionism, whether it's Turkey getting into the EU, taking down Saddam, or derailing the Doha Round.

There is no future for France except decay and isolation. We are watching a civilization self-destruct in its old age.

You want me to name a country most likely to leave the Core? France already has.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I see what you're saying, thanks. (Not sure if y'all want to allow the use of the comments for such a discussion, but I figured I'd try).

What Barnett's original comments about "Jihadism" filling the gap left by "discredited Marxism" reminded me of was what I associate with a sort of Hammerquist/Sakai/'threewayfight' line about fascism, let's see... okay, here's a quote from the interview y'all have posted:

"If a revolutionary ‘left’ opposition does not materialize in the States that is made up of and shaped by the oppressed, then more reactionary forms will emerge in that void."

So yes, I'd say it's a gap left by the fall of the Soviet Union (maybe for the better?), it's a gap left by the racism of the white left (? although what does this have to do with the presence or absence of a third world revolutionary left? Real question.), but it's a gap---it's a gap that COULD be filled by a libertarian/anarchist perspective/movement, sure. But it's not, right? And Barnett gets it (as does everyone about France right now, for whatever reason; like they sort of kind of did for Hurricane Katrina; but for some reason do not about Iraq/Palestine/etc for some reason) that it's NOT really about religion at all, it's not about a (cultural) clash of civilizations, it's about, this time from Barnett as quoted above: "So when you're radicalized today, the one package that's both anti-capitalist and anti-Western is jihadist Islam." We all agree, right?

But yeah, the further text from Barnett via RedX makes clear his neo-con learnings. Of course, it is not impossible for various rightwing groupings to have the same analyses of what is going on as we do---indeed, the more correct our analyses, the more we'd _expect_ them to be shared (publically or not) by parts of the elite and the right, but acting on them for their own ends, right? That was my original point maybe.

Phew, sorry for the long post, hope you find it useful.