Is war the usual affair of humanity that accompanies massive changes in the global economy?

the end of feudalism and massive shifts in the european economy corresponded to the 100 years war. WW1 and WW2 correlated with the end of colonialism, and were a massive re-organization of the global economy. Is there a risk that the decline of Capitalism is likely to precipitate something similar? Can we learn from history how such things occur for signs in today's world. I was listening on KPFA and think this might be a nice expansion on a theme you often mention - Ira Leifer, Santa Barbara

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War, as others have noted, is politics by another name and set of mechanisms. Just as Obama was a slightly to the left attempt to contain radical responses - by making the president an African-American of slightly left leanings - to capitalism's production of gross inequality since 1980 and then its collapse in 2008, Trump is now a slightly (or perhaps not so slightly) tilt to the right to contain radical responses by deflecting them into economic nationalism. Obama could not or would not make the changes that the problem of US capitalism now poses, so he paved the way for a rightist version to try. Only wild luck will enable Trump to do any better. The economic odds are that he will do worse. Well, then, another way out - both economically and by deflecting popular anger into war hysteria - would be a war. Is that possible? Only someone unaware of capitalism's history (endless small wars punctuated by the worst world wars human history produced including use of nuclear weapons) could answer anything but "yes." And you can be sure that for future radio shows, I will be watching and pointing out signs, if and when they surface, of movement toward military solutions to US capitalism's deepening problems.

Later addition: many years ago, the American leftist writer, Harry Magdoff, published an article in his magazine, Monthly Review (co-edited with Paul M. Sweezy) in which Magdoff showed that for most of the history of the US, this country was at war somewhere with someone. War was not, in short, the occasional condition of the US; it was rather its normal condition. In short, massive upheavals internally in capitalist societies may enhance the probability of finding some sort of war as part of the solution to them, but even without massive upheavals, war is endemic to capitalism and always has been.

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  • Richard Wolff
    responded with submitted 2017-01-20 17:19:38 -0500
  • Ira Leifer
    published this page in Ask Prof. Wolff 2017-01-20 01:11:28 -0500