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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

North-Atlantic Union: Game Over for Global Neoliberal Capitalism?

Here we go: witness the first steps toward a North Atlantic Union. The EU began exactly the same way two generations ago, via a small set of seemingly innocuous, quasi-technical trade agreements and steps of policy "harmonization".

For about two decades now, the US and the EU have both had an enormous, historic problem: their inability to keep apace in economic growth with the two largest--and, since the early-to-mid-20th century, increasingly among the poorest--societies in the world, China and India (plus a not-so-negligible group of others, such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc.). This is THE news of the early-21st century, this is what is re-shaping the world as we speak, and this is what almost nobody in the mainstream wants directly to talk about. Perhaps that is so because it is not exactly reasonable, let alone in good taste, to complain about slow or no growth when you already have 36 to 50+% of the world's economic output with less than 12% of the population, while the states you would be complaining about have 36+% of the population with 15% to 24% of the economic weight, depending on the method of estimation.

BTW, a North-Atlantic Union, even if it manages to overcome the gigantic political obstacles it faces on both sides, won't solve the EU's and the US's problem. It will only postpone the conflict. Of course in geopolitics, gaining time might mean much more than just time, and I suspect that's exactly why the political elites, working on rather short temporal leashes, are doing this.

The North-Atlantic Union definitely will, meanwhile, add a significant layer of inequalities, and conflict, in the world, since it will inevitably be seen, and by and large rightly so, as yet another geopolitical move to "share and pool" the resources (and the sovereignties) of the already way overextended "western" societies in the world. It is also quite possible that this is the very last move under the current form of global neoliberal capitalism: the geopolitical logic that is inherent to this move by definition cannot be continued: there will be no more "western," "white" societies to swallow in this way.

Be that as it may, it is fairly obvious that the technocrats that are crafting this move have no concern for the question (or even the appearance) of global equity, justice, fairness, etc. They are shrugging off even the "realpolitik"-style possible practical concerns about the dangers of creating more structural inequality in an already overly tense global system.

My guess is that herein we can see the results of the Euro- and west-centric solipsism that has dominated intellectual life in the "west" since the long 16th century, and most prominently so over the last two generations.

cover page of the book

cover page of the book
image used for the cover design by Anannya Dasgupta