ACCORDING TO THE SOCIALIST-PHILOSOPHER IMMANUEL WALLERSTEIN, IF THE WORLD DOESN'T BECOME SOCIALIST, WE MIGHT SEE A MAD MAX FEUDALISM SCENARIO LIKE
MEL GIBSON'S MAD MAX MOVIE !!
I have not studied Wallerstein, so I’m curious about his “socialism or barbarism” view — what does he mean by a worse system?
I understand worst-case scenarios, like an inter-imperialist war going nuclear or biological leading to a kind of 'Mad Max' feudalism, but
worst-cases are rare and not much to base your theory on. In the last 100 years we’ve seen some major crises and world wars that lead to new rounds
of accumulation. How are things significantly different today?
As I see it, there are two new factors in play here: resource and environmental exhaustion, which can only be overcome by large-scale planning, and
the widespread IT infrastructure, which makes possible economic planning beyond the dreams of the 1930s. Both of those tend toward socialist
I don’t really understand how a large-scale break down of accumulation leads to something which is exploitative and hierarchical and not capitalist
and not socialist, unless he’s talking about the “Mad Max” scenario. Even that would seem to lead back to capitalism.
As Jose M. well said, Wallerstein is not saying that socialism is inevitable which was the position of mechanical marxist predictions in the past
about the demise of capitalism. The Second and Third International prophecies about the end of capitalism tied together the thesis of the "inevitable
end of capitalism" with the thesis of the "inevitable emergence of socialism."
The latter was deterministically thought as a result of the former. In Wallerstein we have the thesis of the "inevitable end of capitalism" without
the "inevitable emergence of socialism."
As a matter of fact, Wallerstein is very insistent on the problem that the new historical system that emerge might be worst than capitalism and that
all will depend on our agency and political struggles in the next decades. The thesis of the inevitable end of capitalism as a historical system that
have lasted 500 years, is very well argued by Wallerstein not in THE NATION essay but in his books
Immanuel Wallerstein sees capitalism like other historical systems in the past: they rise and demise, they have a beginning and they have an end. The
Roman Empire was a particular form of world-system that Wallerstein calls World-Empire and that lasted one-thousand years.
The Modern World-System is a particular form of world-system that he calls a capitalist world-economy and that so far have lasted more than 500 years.
He explains in detail how historical systems end out of its own systemic contradictions.
In his recent books, Wallerstein has analyzed at length in what consist the contradictions that are going to lead to the end the present capitalist
world-system (read his work to find out more about his analysis because it is impossible to summarize here).
However, there are important epistemological issues involved here. Wallerstein’s perspective represents a revolution in the social sciences because
of his challenges to the analytical TIME/SPACE unit that informs most of social scientists today.
If you think about capitalism as many traditional social scientists, that is, from a nation-state unit of analysis, the argument Wallerstein is making
does not make any sense. But if you take the global system, or as he says, the world-system as the unit of analysis with its large scale and long-term
structures, then his argument is very coherent and easier to understand.
One of the points made by Avakian in his so-called new synthesis is about internationalism. He claims that the international system is decisive over
the national context. Well, I find dishonest that Avakian does not acknowledge here the contribution and influence of Wallerstein on this point.
This is a point developed by Wallerstein in many of his historical sociological works since the 1970s. However, Avakian takes ideas and just cite the
"founding fathers" or himself and never acknowledges the influence of contemporary marxists and neo-marxists in his perspective.
But coming back to the question of Wallerstein, I think that it merits a profound consideration because he is not only arguing about how capitalism is
coming to an end but also about how if the global left does not create a new historical system that is better, the transnational capitalist elites
will create for us a new and worst world-system than the present capitalist system in order to protect and defend their own privileges.
This is Wallerstein’s historical sociological thesis of what happened in the 15th century with the demise of feudalism in Europe. The feudal
aristocracy created a new historical system to preserve their wealth. They created the capitalist world-system by going global and expanding to the
Americas. This is what is called in history the European colonial expansion that created the world market and a new international division of labor.
One of the many points raised by Wallerstein is that something like this could happen today but that nothing is guaranteed. There are no apriori
outcomes for the coming struggles for the formation of a new world-system….
Class and race privileges still reign among the "white" left and this is why solidarity is extremely retarded in the U.S. And let’s not forget the
power of Zionism that has confused and diffused the Left
Mod Edit: Removed all caps title.
[edit on 28-3-2009 by Gemwolf]