imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

"Chaos is a Sign for the System's Fall"

by Immanuel Wallerstein Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2007 at 7:11 PM
mbatko@lycos.com

Bush is an absolute disaster. Instead of withdrawing and adjusting to the changed geopolitical situation, he leaped suddenly into the abyss. Capitlaism is in crisis because endless capital accumulation can no longer be guaranteed to capitalists. Speculation reaps bitter fruits.

“CHAOS IS A SIGN OF THE SYSTEM’S FALL”

Interview with Immanuel Wallerstein on the limits of capitalism, the character of the epoch and the breakdown of neoliberalism

[Immanuel Wallerstein (b. 1930) is an emeritus professor of sociology at Yale. Originally an expert on Africa, he is well known worldwide as an historian and theoretician of capitalism. His main work “The Modern World System” appeared in three volumes between 1974 and 1989. Wallerstein’s works are translated in more than 20 languages. This interview published in: Junge Welt, 10/27/2007 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.jungewelt.de/2007/10-27/001.php?print=1.]



Junge Welt: In your opinion, we are in a time of chaos seizing the whole capitalist world economy. The “world as we knew it” comes to its end.

Immanuel Wallerstein: Yes, but chaos is only a symptom or sign for the fall of a concrete historical system that existed for 500 years and was very successful – in a certain sense – in conforming to its own principles. However this system reaches its limits and can no longer use its mechanisms to maintain its balance. We live in a phase of great stormy fluctuations that have an economic, political, cultural and intellectual character. People are racking their brains over this. They are depressed. This is normal; people do not understand the processes occurring around them. None of the things on which we relied, none of the truths surrounding us seem the same any more. For that reason, people become wild, frustrated and obviously uncertain or alarmed. This is true both for ordinary citizens and elites at the summit of power. We live in a very bad time regarding personal security and the possibility of predicting anything. However it is also a good time since human creativity has more room. In normal periods, we have very little space for authentic changes. The epoch of chaos helps these changes breakthrough. The smallest action has an influence on the course of the game. Thus ours is a very interesting epoch. As an ancient Chinese proverb says, “We have the great happiness of living in interesting times.”

Junge Welt: If we assume an answer inheres in every crisis, what is the solution and answer of our “interesting times”?

Wallerstein: They do not give any answer. One thing is certain: the present system cannot survive. It has struck the most different limits on development making impossible its further reproduction as never-ending capital accumulation. Thus something must change. This is called a bifurcation. The situation can develop in at least two different directions though we cannot say which will ultimately prevail. I can only describe this very generally. Today’s world is very polarized and hierarchical with a privileged group at the top and the rest who suffer more and more at the bottom. We could create a totally new world in which everything stays the same, just as hierarchical and polarized – perhaps even more – as the world in which we live. But we could also advance toward a relatively more democratic and egalitarian world system. There is struggle in the world over this bifurcation. This battle has already been waged for 10 or 15 years and will continue for 20, 30 or 40 years. The category “transitional epoch” seems appropriate.

Junge Welt: Still we do not know how this transitional epoch will end or whether this “other possible world” will be better.

Wallerstein: Yes. I am a resolute opponent of a theory of enlightenment that claims progress is inevitable. I adhere to a theory of possible progress. Progress is possible but certainly not inevitable. Progress is not certain; history is not on any side. At this moment, everything depends on us. If you would come to me again in 50 years which you will not since I will not be living, I could tell you it was a catastrophe. But I could also say: How wonderful, we are now living in a better world. I cannot imagine that now; no one can. That is because of the impossibility of predicting the results of this transition, not from the limitation of my knowledge.

Junge Welt: Did the reelection of George Bush as US president accelerate the fall of the present world system and shorten the transition = perhaps from 50 to 30 years?

Wallerstein: I don’t seek any escape with these statements. I think Bush’s reelection accelerated the fall of the United States as a superpower within the world system. From a purely American perspective, Bush is an absolute disaster – through the effect of his actions on the position of the US in the world, not by what he does in domestic policy. Instead of withdrawing and adjusting to the changed geo-political situation, he leaped suddenly into the abyss. I think that will be history’s judgment. Bush thought what he did would strengthen the United States. That was the logic of his actions. As a consequence, the United States has been totally weakened. The US obviously has influence on the whole world. The US is still the most powerful state in the world in military, economic and political regards and all of its actions have global consequences. President Bush’s policy causes a worldwide confusion and also opens up new possibilities. Latin America is an example. Bush weakened the US ability to influence this region largely because he focused all the attention and political energy of the United States on the Middle East and Europe and had no time for Latin America. In the end, this encouraged the slow emancipation of the countries of this region. In a very spectacular way, this was clear in the election of the General Secretary of the Organization of American States when the candidate supported by the US was defeated for the first time.

Junge Welt: In your view, command socialism was actually a part of the capitalist world economy. In your analyses, you always emphasized the many “certainties” and new definitions of worn-out terms. Shouldn’t we redefine capitalism?

Wallerstein: First, if you use that argument, then you must ask whether capitalism still exists. The answer is obviously no. I think capitalism was a system that existed for 500 years. Second, no system is never-ending. Here I refer to a whole school in contemporary natural sciences, the “science of “complexity” that assumes that ineffective systems end. Certain processes occur in them. Systems inevitably lose their balance. When this happens, they break down. This is true in the physical sciences and also a priori in social systems. No system lives for ever. We can discuss whether the capitalist system is in a state of structural crisis or not. Objections can be raised. Still no system lives for ever.

Junge Welt: You say capitalism is dying before our eyes.

Wallerstein: I say capitalism is in crisis because endless capital accumulation can no longer be guaranteed to capitalists. They have problems with “solid profitability.” These problems did not vex them in the first 500 years of its existence. They were always able to overcome intermittent crises with a series of mechanisms to keep the whole process going. These mechanisms have reached their limit and cannot be used any more. The capitalist faces a momentous problem that he cannot solve. The capitalist is forced to find ways to realize profits beyond the goods-producing sphere through speculation. That has been the case for some time. Speculation is a mechanism of moneymaking that emerged in the history of the capitalist world economy whenever that economy was in crisis. For a long time, earning a living in production was the only way of gaining hard money. This became increasingly difficult and perhaps has already become history.

Junge Welt: In your opinion, has capitalism collapsed on account of its enormous success and not its defeat?

Wallerstein: Yes. In this sense, I am a follower of Joseph Schumpeter. The success of capitalism leads it to the edge of ruin. Considerable parts of the world’s population have been proletarianized. For a long time, capitalists had access to cheap workers. Today these reserves are nearly exhausted. Up to now, costs were constantly shifted to keep the share of capital resources as low as possible. Today’s ecological crisis precludes these practices. For example, when all rivers are polluted or all trees are cut, nothing will be left. In the past, the ruling classes could neutralize social discontent by means of diverse mechanisms of the welfare state that brought us public education, the health care system and social security. This was possible for 200 years. The costs of these solutions continually rise. The problem arises of growing tax liability lowering the chances for long-term profits. Thus capitalism exhausts itself.

Its development has reached the maximum limit in reproducing itself in a peaceful way. At this moment, the intelligent capitalist says: “There must be better possibilities because existing possibilities are miserable.” He begins seeking methods “to make things better.” This is one of the manifestations of our bifurcation. Another would be seeking for a general alternative.

Junge Welt: Could searching for “another world” be a method of “making things better”?

Wallerstein: I don’t know. The problem is the details of such a system cannot be predicted. This is as though someone had said around 1500: “Feudalism in Europe cannot function any more; let us invent capitalism” and you – as a journalist – would ask: What would that look like?” Something like this is unknown because it results from praxis. One only knows the desired direction. I do not know what an egalitarian or relatively egalitarian and democratic world would look like structurally. I only know I must go this direction because otherwise I would fall into a tragic development only intensifying the present inequalities and hierarchies.

Junge Welt: Can one say neoliberalism cannot save capitalism?

Wallerstein: Obviously. Neoliberalism is an attempt to lover labor costs globally, externalizing labor costs by means of constitutional and budgetary changes and reducing the benefits of the welfare state. With a limited horizon, one could speak of a limited success of this strategy. The threat was delayed. However that only succeeded for a short time – from a perspective that goes back to 1970. If we consider the period from 1945 to 2005, it is clear we have returned to the point where we were in 1945. Our situation is illustrated by the figure of speech “two steps forward and one step back.” Under pressure, we take two steps forward. Afterwards the reaction presses us to take a step back while continuously taking a step forward. Neoliberalism cannot solve this problem but reduces the problem in a limited way. Capitalists are not so politically strong that they could entirely abolish the income tax, wreck education or totally ignore the ecological crisis. This is obvious when one analyzes global phenomena. Thus the success of neoliberalism was limited and short-term.

Junge Welt: Look at present events in Ecuador, Bolivia and Mexico where neoliberal reforms deepened the social differences and disrupted the democratic institutions of the state. Doesn’t democracy need to be saved from neoliberalism?

Wallerstein: There is no doubt about what is happening in Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina and so on. There is resistance against the effects of neoliberal doctrine forced on the people of these countries. Resistance is a reaction to the whole neoliberal campaign. Will it save democracy? Yes. In a certain sense, this is an expression of the public spirit shared by the majority of the citizens of these countries that was not reflected in earlier political hierarchies of power. Can this establish democracy? No. True democracy cannot be established in today’s global hierarchy of power. Still it is a good sign that things are developing in the right direction.



Report this post as:

Local News

Change Links September 2018 posted S02 10:22PM

More Scandals Rock Southern California Nuke Plant San Onofre A30 11:09PM

Site Outage Friday A30 3:49PM

Change Links August 2018 A14 1:56AM

Setback for Developer of SC Farm Land A12 11:09PM

More problems at Shutdown San Onofre Nuke J29 10:40PM

Change Links 2018 July posted J09 8:27PM

More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena J02 7:16PM

"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena J02 7:08PM

Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles J30 11:26PM

Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! J11 6:58AM

Watch the Debate: Excluded Candidates for Governor of California M31 5:20AM

Change Links June 2018 posted M28 7:41AM

The Montrose Peace Vigil at 12 Years M22 8:01PM

Unity Archive Project M21 9:42AM

Dianne Feinstein's Promotion of War, Secret Animal Abuse, Military Profiteering, Censorshi M17 10:22PM

CA Senate Bill 1303 would require an independent coroner rather than being part of police M10 9:08PM

Three years after OC snitch scandal, no charges filed against sheriffs deputies M10 8:57PM

California police agencies violate Brown Act (open meetings) M02 8:31PM

Insane Company Wants To Send Nuke Plant Waste To New Mexico A29 11:47PM

Change Links May 2018 A27 8:40AM

Worker-Owned Car Wash on Vermont Closed A27 5:37AM

GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE A13 12:39AM

lausd whistle blower A11 6:58AM

Website Upgrade A10 10:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 8:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 6:58PM

Change Links April 2018 A01 6:27PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Chuck Grassley: Women Abusing, Animal Murdering, Illegal War Supporting Criminal S22 2:58AM

Finance Capitalism and the Digital Economy S21 4:45PM

Muselières syndicales, muselières patronales S21 7:19AM

Jeff Bezos, Amazon, The Washington Post, Whole Foods, Etc S21 2:50AM

Why Choose Nut Milk Over Cows' Milk S21 1:01AM

Antrhopocène, le grand effondrement S19 9:53AM

Creative Destruction Hack Diamonds Windows/iOS/Android - Creative Destruction Generator S19 12:51AM

Abolir l'économie S18 11:18AM

The Dictatorship of Corporations S17 5:26PM

18 Lethal Consequences Of Hunting S17 3:13PM

Paraphysique de l'outplacement déontologue S15 6:51AM

Creative Destruction Hack Mod Generator S15 3:49AM

Shopping du bashing S14 8:42AM

After Lehman Brothers, Experts Say Global Financial Crisis Can Happen Again S13 8:28PM

“Animaniacs in Concert!” Starring Voice Legend Rob Paulsen S12 9:30PM

Probabilités de fin d'humanité S12 6:49AM

Florida Area of Migrant Farmworkers Denied Right to Construct Health Clinic near NaplesCIW S11 2:57AM

Propagande de virus, virus de propagande S10 7:34AM

Steer clear of work morality! S09 12:10PM

Sweatshop Lodge Ceremony Continues in US Fed Prisons Led by Inmates S08 6:17PM

Paraphysique de l'origami S08 7:11AM

The Shortwave Report 09/07/18 Listen Globally! S06 11:23PM

August 2018 Honduras Coup update S06 12:28PM

Du réussissement putréfié S06 10:55AM

Brett Kavanaugh Filled The 5th Circuit With Execution Judges S06 6:14AM

Log S06 4:25AM

Augusta Georgia Woman Gets 5 Year Prison Sentence for Writing About Russians Crime Acts S05 8:29AM

Paraphysique de contextualité S05 8:29AM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy