Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Fourth World War

Dr. Vijay Prashad spoke at UMass, Amherst on May 1st. The topic of his talk was "The Fourth World War", on how the imperiasltic policies are changing/affecting the world and a summary of the main points follows,

  • Madman Theory: The U.S foreign policy for quite some time (from the time of Richard Nixon) has been to act random---the logic being rational behavior gives opponents a chance to study your moves and get better. But with the Madman theory no one knows what your next move will be (ally with dictators, bomb countries etc) at random and keep others confused.
  • Bigger than Bush: The difference between someone like Clinton(diplomatic, can speak on any issue at length etc.) and Bush, is quantitative not qualitative. While Bush is impatient and the scale of his aggresion has been large and going on for a long time, Clinton also did bomb places (Sudan, Waziristan) and the foreign policies of both are largely the same. Thus, the problem is not the person in office but the foreign policies---which need to be questioned.
  • Jobless Growth: Before the structural adjustment programs starting in the 1970s, the elites of several countries had been in a compromise with their host countries---operating within the borders and for "welfare". After the 1970s though, this is no longer true and their exists a narrow band of people at the top that are experiencing "growth" and are forging global connections and at the same time exploiting globally. At the same time, globally people at the bottom are experiencing joblessness and decreased economic gains---called "jobless growth". Further, the interests of these global elites and corporations are protected by the U.S. military. The U.S. military in some sense, is now the world military protecting the elites in this narrow band.
  • Propoganda of commodity: While jobless growth happens, there is a huge propoganda of commodity which is in tension with the social threshold. The important question being how to address the issues of rapid commodification and consumerism driven from the top and also ensure social needs are met for all---the fourth world war.

    Note: This is just my version/understanding of his talk. Please let me know if you want to add to it and I will append your comments.
  • 1 comment:

    satya_katha said...

    Vijay Prashad was at his best in the after the talk party at the Monkey bar. He has a cool concept for social structure. According to him people should have children in their early twenties, when they are the most fertile. The grand parents should then raise the children. Then when the couple, become old (i.e. hit their fifties:) ), should raise the next generation of children; i.e., their grand children.
    But he mentioned that that would be contrary to our emotional attachment. People form emotional attachment with their "own" children.
    Then he said,
    "But what's the big deal about this ? After all, birthing one's own children to raise them, is fetishizing the idea of raising children."