Multitudes 13 on the Empire and Japan

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* Special Issue: Multitudes 13: Du cote du Japon, marges et miroir de l'Empire


Empire is used here in the Negrian sense


Michel Bauwens, 2003:

Article 1: Financial imperialism and the role of Japan

Traditional imperialists were producers of goods, which they sold in the periphery, capturing surplus value there. The US has not functioned this way: it buys more than it sells.

This over-consumption is financed by foreigners. In the 1980s it was Japan, which bought their bonds (i.e. lending them money). This was in turn financed with the U.S. investing abroad and using these profits to buy off their debt (in the 1970s this was done with petro-dollars). This is the imperial monetary circuit

In classical economy, the deficit signals a lack of competitiveness of the national industry. However, even the 'new economy' is to marginal to balance this. So, how could it persist for so long ? Because the US has succeeded in turning these debts into something profitable.

Here, Yoshida explains the dialectic between US military hegemony, which enables the trust creating the attraction, and which is then in turn financed by the debt.

   - "La securite militaire et la securite boursiere se suppose mutuellement et le circuit imperial exprime cette reciprocite."

At the end of the 80s, after the Plaza Accord, the dollar started devaluating. This process represented a gift Yen 2k million to the US (loss in future earnings through repayment, because of the loss of value). It is the whole system which has become financial: profit is no longer captured through production, but through consumption, in the market. Paradoxically, the profits are giving away in the salary, but recaptured by the loss of value of that salary, and the savings, at the moment of consumption.

Article 2: Minor on Machiavelli

The originality of Machiavelli is that he doesn't counter-pose conflict and law, war and peace, but puts them in a circular relationship: law requires conflict, peace requires struggle. He rejects the model of harmony, saying that tension is essential for health. This also means that law inevitably originates from violence. Also, law can be corrupted, and conflict can lead to civil war, so order is never given, never guaranteed.

One article examines the relationship between Machiavelli vis a vis liberalism and republicanism, and says the latter cannot incorporate him, since he focuses on unsolvable conflictuality, which the latter aims to resolve.

Just as the distinction between the beautiful and the ugly is essential to the aesthetic order of art and culture, so is the ability to distinguish between enemy and friend, the basis distinction within politics. And this criteria distinguishes politics from the state.

M13 translates chapter 27 of John Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding, with a introduction by Etienne Balibar who argues that it is Locke who 'invented' human consciousness, through his exploration of identity and difference.