Sunday, May 12, 2013

Finance, Food, and Force in the Development of US Foreign Policy

The belief in a conspiratorial view of history seems to me to be a psychological reaction to the fear of chaos.  If the world is not as one would like it, at least a conspiratorial view of history suggests that history as a process is still subject to human control, and that once we wrest control from the unjust conspirators, the world can be made right again.

This unpredictability, this sense of instability that compels some of us to reach for order in chaos with a history of conspiracy, ironically, has been produced by the current political milieu,  one wherein neoliberalism has disembedded economies from local control and re-embedded them in national and transnational institutions, and those institutions are themselves now experiencing a loss of control in the face of unanticipated changes.

Structural adjustment programs have become political lightning rods that are igniting mass unrest around the world.   Green Revolution agriculture has spawned megacities that are entropic black holes, teeming with desperation and crime.  The US military, long considered the guarantor of last instance for the world order, has proven to be both the least cost effective institution on the planet and a perennial source of new resistance and unintended outcomes.  In Iraq and Afghanistan, the myth of US military invincibility was shattered; and the costs of the Southwest Asia wars have bled the US Treasury white.  Offshoring of US industry and the political empowerment of rentier capitalists – Wall Street – that was accomplished through foreign policy, has transformed much of the US domestic population not merely into wage workers, but debt slaves.

A quote from a presentation that I gave a Penn State on February 2, 2012.  Aside from its convenient alliteration - finance, food, force - this combination of emphases actually sheds an interesting light on a lot of policies and practices in United States politics today.  The lecture portion is about an hour, and there is a question-and-answer thingy afterward.  If you would rather read the lecture, you can go here.  There is a free-listed bibliography of links there for anyone interested in looking at some of my sources.

Here is the video lecture.

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