Some Comments on C J Hopkins
Hopkins writes: “…following the collapse of the USSR…the goal was not to conquer and colonize the former Soviet and Soviet-aligned territories; the goal was to aggressively destabilize, restructure, and privatize these territories, and absorb them into the global market.” This seems to me correct. But Hopkins doesn’t seem aware that such behavior had been going on for a long time before the collapse of the USSR and the end of the Cold War.
The key to understanding this is the Lockean concept of “property.” It might be said that Locke created our concept of property, with all its political and social implications. What creates property, according to Locke, is labor or what might be called “development.” That is, nature in its original condition doesn’t have value and only acquires value when it is “developed.” And the more developed it is, the more value it has. This means that the developers acquire ownership, are entitled to ownership, and can do with their property as they wish.
Punch this up on the social screen to see what it means. Who has more of a right to, say, that land which is labeled “Vietnam,” the Vietnamese “peasants” who have lived on it for centuries, or those who would develop Vietnam by way of “modernization?” What do we Americans think? I doubt many have even raised this question because don’t we just assume that the developers have a greater claim than the Vietnamese themselves? Isn’t that the assumption we made to justify our “invasion” of Vietnam? By modernizing Vietnam, we would increase its value, make it more valuable, even though that value would accrue less to the Vietnamese themselves than it would to the capitalists who were the developers. And if it proved necessary to wage a war in Vietnam and kill quite a few Vietnamese in order to modernize it, then so be it, because, as the old saw has it, “you can’t make mayonnaise without breaking some eggs.”
So, a new kind of imperialism arises, based not on conquest but on absorption and displacement. Traditional societies are absorbed into a worldwide capitalist order and traditional peoples are displaced, both figuratively and physically, one way of another. In other words, what Hopkins calls “GloboCap” was implicit in Locke’s creation of what we call “property,” a concept with revolutionary implications. Hence, the problems we are dealing with are not due to particular people or particular political parties being powerful; they are due to Locke’s political philosophy. Our problems are not political problems; they are philosophic problems. And until we deal with those philosophical problems, we will be unable to solve our political problems.
This helps explain why, as Hopkins points out, although “Trump, Johnson, Corbyn, and Sanders were never actually a threat to GloboCap…in any material sense,” the capitalist classes saw and see the need to “crush” these unthreatening persons and their “populism.” Left “uncrushed,” the possibility exists that the real issue, viz., Lockean political philosophy, will be exposed. That issue needs to be disguised or disappeared; for example, by creating what was called “the Cold War;” that is, by manufacturing a conflict, said to be “existential,” between “the Free World” and “the Communists.” And when the Cold War ended with the demise of the USSR and absorption of Communist China into the global economy, another “existential conflict” was needed and, lo and behold, one was manufactured in the Global War on Terror, where it was claimed that an accountant living in caves could bring down the global capitalistic order. Further, Donald Trump had to be turned into another “existential threat” to American democracy, along with other alleged threats like Jeremy Corbyn and right-wing militias. And of course, now, Russia, always a useful pinata, is the monster that is about to undo the global capitalistic order.
As Hopkins points out, our capitalistic worldwide order presents itself as non-ideological. “It has no need for ideology…ideology is rendered obsolete. Its ideology has become ‘normality,’ ‘reality,’ or ‘just the way it is.’” As a result, dissent is pathologized and dissenters are treated as pathological persons, who should be censored because they are dangerous. They represent “clear and present dangers” and, as a result, should be censored. If they persist, they should be institutionalized. They are “abnormal.”
People shouldn’t be surprised by this state of affairs. After all, it was visible to some a long time ago; for example, Alexis de Tocqueville gave an account of what he considered to be one of the end states of modern democracy, viz., “soft despotism.” This was not the despotism of the boot heel, but rather of a tutelary power that provided material comfort for the many while rendering them soulless, content to conform and consume, a nation of well-behaved pigs, as it were. It might even seem to some that Tocqueville got it right.