• Books: Bury the Chains by Adam Hochschild, Endless War: Hidden Functions of the "war on terror" by David Keen, Capital Vol. 1, Tin Drum by Günter Grass, What is Islam? by Shahab Ahmed, Desiring Arabs by Joseph Massad, Spies, Soldiers and Statesmen by Hazem Kandil, La Condition Humaine by André Malraux, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, Imagined Community by Benedict Anderson, Culture and Imperialism by Edward Said, The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon, The Richness of Life by Stephen Jay Gould, Children of the Alley by Naguib Mahfouz, The Mass Psychology of Fascism by Wilhelm Reich, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, 1984 by George Orwell, Noli me Tangere by José Rizal, Age of Extremes by Eric Hobsbawm, ذهنية التحريم لصادق جلال العظم, Karl Marx by Francis Wheen, وليمة لأعشاب البحر لحيدر حيدر, Candide by Voltaire, النزعات المادية في الفلسفة العربية الإسلامية لحسين مروة, Listen Little Man by Wilhelm Reich ..
  • Films: Alexanderplatz by Rainer Fassbinder, Clockwork Orange, Apocalypse Now, The Battle of Algiers, films by P. P. Passolini, Persepolis, Midnight Express, 1984, Papillion, Gangs of New York, Sophie Scholl, Life of Brian, Ivan the Terrble, Battleship Potemkine ...

Sunday, October 16, 2016

"What I have in mind here is to take seriously the fact that the historical record of “capitalist” foreign policy – the structuring and management of spaces of capital – is so incredibly diverse: from the Peace of Utrecht that left a specific political geography on the Continent regulated by British power-balancing, via the Vienna Settlement and the Concert of Europe, the construction of the Western Hemisphere through the Monroe Doctrine, formal and informal imperialisms in the late 19th century, the American interwar strategy to break up the old empires and replace them at Versailles by pushing mini-state proliferations through the principle of “national self-determination,” based on liberal and republican state forms and tied into notions of collective security, German and Japanese notions of autarchic regional orders – Carl Schmitt’s “greater spaces” – to US hegemony and the European Integration Project. The political geographies of historical capitalism cannot be derived from a particular “logic of capital,” either with recourse to the generic concept itself, or particular phases of capitalist development, but require a much more fine-tuned historicist approach that emphasizes their construction – rather than subsumption under some sub specie aeternitatis principle – be it the classical IR trope of power politics and states as security accumulators in a condition of anarchy or the classical Marxist trope of capitalist geopolitics. For what is a capitalist foreign policy supposed to be, in the abstract? So we are broadening out into other fields, into other areas while trying to theoretically refine or reformulate the early brilliant, but theoretically somewhat problematic, work of Brenner and Wood...

You have to understand that mainstream Anglo-American IR was, until very recently, built on the assumption that theorizing departs from the existence of the interstate system as a natural given, rather than something that requires 
explanation in the first place. It posits the political as an autonomous sphere in which states are generically endowed with a unitary rationality and ascribed certain attributes, foremost survival, security, and hence power-maximization. 

Once these axioms are in place, you can then establish by means of a series of logical deductions how rational state action in a condition of international anarchy leads to certain likely outcomes, including power-balancing, leading to some kind of self-equilibrating systemic logic. This is a nice little exercise in abstract logic, actually modeled, by Kenneth Waltz, in analogy to the workings of the anarchy of competitive markets self-regulated by the invisible hand. It is also said to be grounded in ancient wisdoms – si vis pacem para bellum – but bears hardly any relation to reality. So the works of Hans Morgenthau and later of Kenneth Waltz are really premised on drawing an analytical Rubicon between the state and systemic interstate relations and anything that goes on within societies within these states. So the domestic and the social are excised from the remit of what could count as possible influences on statecraft and foreign policy – party politics, business and sector interests, social crises and so on.

This is of course an incredibly narrow, impoverished and ideological way to think about international relations as a social science..."
Rethinking International Relations

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This is a nice piece. The philosophical roots of rights-based liberal individualism lie in efforts to legitimate imperial expansion