Empire and International Order: Should There Be States?

W. Julian Korab-Karpowicz

What should our future be like? Can the world order be organized along the lines of an international society, or will it dissolve into anarchy? Before attempting to answer such a big question, let us first inquire whether in the future there should be states.

The phrase “transnational progressivism” was coined in 2001 by John Fonte to describe a post-modernist ideology that is a new challenge to the world order based on a system of states and to liberal democracy in particular. The transnationalists argue that in the era of globalization, the transnational connection between non-state actors increase and make obsolete the traditional paradigm of governance based on the nation-state. Perhaps there is no more sophisticated theoretical expression of this ideology, which I prefer to call “global progressivism,” than Empire of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. The authors do not hide their ideological preferences and compare their book to Marx’s Communist Manifesto. However, in intellectual complexity they exceed their old master. They display a comprehensive knowledge of the Western philosophical tradition and use it to deconstruct the intellectual scaffolding that supports the modern political theory of the West. They advocate political arrangements that can be described as post-modern, post-democratic, post-liberal, and even post-human.

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Republican Discourses and Imperial Projects: Liberty and Empire in American Political Discourse

Geoff Kennedy


During his campaign for the office of the Presidency, George W. Bush stated that ‘America has never been an empire…We may be the only great power in history that had the chance, and refused.’1 During an interview on Al Jazeera on April 28, 2003, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld responded to a question regarding the perceptions of American ‘empire building’ by stating that, ‘We don’t seek empires. We’re not imperialistic. We never have been.’2 To the casual observer, this may merely be interpreted as political propaganda masking the true nature of American foreign policy; but for historians of political thought, it relates to a long-standing issue in republican political discourse: namely, the republican antagonism to forms of imperial power.

Traditionally, republicans opposed the development of ‘empire’, but not because empire was considered to be an unjust relationship of domination of one polity or society by another. Rather, empire was understood as a form of absolute and arbitrary form of domestic political domination—what the Greeks referred to as despotism—that denied the liberty of its citizens regardless of the state’s relationship to its peripheral acquisitions. The emphasis on the domestic aspect of empire is significant because in a pre-modern context characterized by unfixed territorial borders between geopolitical ‘units’, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish between processes of state formation and what we would later refer to as ‘imperialism’. Thus, the territorial aspect of pre-modern empire did not distinguish it from its republican antagonist; after all, Republican Rome could conquer and subjugate with as much force and ruthlessness as its imperial successor.

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Cultural Hegemony? The Example of Language Use in International Development Co-Operation in Tanzania/East Africa

Irmi Maral-Hanak

Aid, dependency and language use in Tanzania

The United Republic of Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking 159 (of 179) in the UNDPs Human Development Report 2007-08, with a per capita GDP of 744 US$ only.  Tanzania is a country that is highly dependent on foreign aid. In 2004, it received $ 1,75 bn in net ODA, making it the third largest recipient in Africa in absolute terms. In 2004, ODA accounted for over 16% of the GNI , and was equivalent to about 40% of government expenditure.).  More than 50 official donor agencies operate in Tanzania, the largest donors being IDA, UK and the EC. In recent years, Tanzania has been highlighted as a role-model of a country executing efficient recipient country policy, especially in the context of the Paris Declaration which stresses country ownership as well as donor alignment and harmonization. In Tanzania’s early postcolonial history, concepts of African Socialism (Ujamaa) and self-reliance played an important role, with social justice and popular participation remaining important parts of political discourse to date. Part of Tanzania’s quest for self-determination is the linguistic policy of the country. The most remarkable aspect of the linguistic situation in Tanzania is the strong position of Swahili, which is an official language spoken by more than 90% of the population. Most other Sub-Saharan African countries rely on ex-colonial languages for communication at the national level, languages that often only 5-20% of the population are familiar with. In Tanzania, although English continues to be a prestigious language of secondary and higher education, professionalism and international communication, Swahili is the primary language of interaction at the national level, being firmly established in such domains as basic education, administration, political debate and a significant part of development communication. The functions of the remaining more than 120 African languages of Tanzania are usually described as being restricted to the domain of the home, village, local informal contexts and cultural performances.

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Global and Local Rivalries in NATO’s Push Towards the Caucasus

Kees van der Pijl


The corridor that runs from the Balkans, via the Caucasus, to Central Asia, has constituted a major axis of Western penetration and expansion for the last two decades.1 Only when Georgian president Saakashvili sought to recapture the province of South Ossetia by force in August 2008, this came to an abrupt end. The Russian military response to secure South Ossetia and Abkhazia not only destroyed the Georgian army as a fighting force but also terminated the prospect of further Western expansion through NATO enlargement.

The present contribution is structured as follows. First I will briefly outline how NATO can be viewed as a means of integrating the wider ‘West’ around a North Atlantic, English-speaking heartland. The argument is that this integration always had to contest with the legacy of rivalry dating from the epoch prior to it. This can be traced back to the fact that contenders to Anglo-Atlantic military power and commercial pre-eminence have necessarily pursued state-led modernisation paths. The further we move to the East, the more difficult it appears to abandon this state-led model again. Examples are given in separate sections on the collapse of the USSR and the Balkan wars. In a fourth section I will briefly investigate how the increasingly violent forward pressure by the West, as testified by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and threats to Iran, is destabilising not only the Caucasus but the wider region. I can also safely repeat my claim, made in March 2008 before an audience in Tbilisi, that integration of Georgia into NATO would be a casus belli for Russia.

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Anglo-American Political Economy and Global Restructuring: The Case of Iraq

Sandra Halperin


The invasion of Iraq has been linked to the global ambitions of U.S. oil and defence industries and to U.S. government efforts to advance them. However, what is missing from, or minimized in, current discussions is the essentially Anglo- American political-economy that forms the basis for the creation and pursuit of these ambitions. This paper endeavours to bring this dimension of current world politics more clearly into focus. It is divided into two parts. The first part of the paper describes the central mechanisms of imperial expansion in the nineteenth century and how current trends of change might be seen as representing, in part, a return to aspects of this system (Section I). The remaining sections of the paper provide an elaboration of this theme. Section II describes the integration of U.S. and British capital as a result of U.S.-U.K. mergers in oil, defence, and finance; the disproportionate power and wealth of these interests in the U.S. and the British economies, and the U.S.-British political-military alliance that supports their quest for global reach. With this as a context, the paper then reviews the history of British and U.S. foreign policies towards Iraq and the culmination of these policies in the invasion and take-over of the country (Section III). The conclusions draw implications for the overall nature and direction of current trends of change.

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