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The Roots of Contemporary Imperialism

John Simkin

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Valerio Volpi has just sent me a copy of his new book, The Roots of Contemporary Imperialism. This is what he says about his book:

In my work, I maintain that the presence of men like George W. Bush and all that follows in terms of popular repression and business domination is not the result of an authoritarian regression of U.S. politics, supposedly begun under Reagan: it is, instead, the prosecution of a project that came to light during the age of the Founding Fathers, whose main concern was not people's freedom, but, rather, the devising of constitutional mechanisms intended to defend the properties, wealth and privileges of economic elites. Barack Obama's recent election as the nominee of one of the two wings of the single "business party," despite the rhetoric about "change" and "hope," followed exactly the same pattern.

Indeed, the U.S. Constitution is elitist in origin and nature, and does not include any clause providing for state intervention directed towards the removal or, at least, mitigation of social inequalities; nor does it acknowledge any social or economic rights (an Italian scholar, Maurizio Fioravanti, defines it as "guarantee-Constitution", as opposed to French Revolution "project-Constitutions", which instead envisaged the project of a more equal and just society). In addition to that, the U.S. Constitution is strictly centred on the protection of the status quo and dominant elites' power, and even on the empowerment of the state for the repression of the common citizen and for the domination over foreign nations.

Such phenomenon is made even more serious by the way leadership is determined, together with the presence of a presidential system, characterized by a rigid separation of powers, whose main purpose is not as much preserving the balance of power between the various branches of government, as hindering any radical changes in society; and the presence in Congress, also thanks to the electoral system, of two parties, basically factions of the same business party, whose mainly local dimension makes it more prone to patronage between politicians and powerful lobbies.

The present situation does not represent a betrayal of the Founding Fathers' thought and ideals, as many have argued: it is the logical conclusion of their totalitarian philosophy. Important innovations in the U.S. political system, such as universal franchise or minorities' civil rights, for instance, are the result, as argued by Robert Dahl, How democratic is the American Constitution?, 2nd ed., New Haven: Yale UP, 2003, 130, of "moral convictions, compassion, opportunism, fear for the consequences of disorder, dangers to property and the legitimacy of the regime arising from widening discontent, and even the real or imagined possibility of revolution".

Philanthropy on the one hand; fear of being swept away by the people or minorities on the other, have led to "concessions" by the ruling elite, which, however, have not undermined the tenets of their domination. Such innovations have certainly been important, but rather limited, if we consider that the American people in the XXI century are still denied free health care, a right acknowledged in all major democracies, though the right to bear arms is still considered a fundamental element of American freedom. It is necessary to change the U.S. Constitution thoroughly, and relegate the Founding Fathers to the attic of history, in order to create a new society.

This work specifically aims at linking the constitutional structure of the United States with the creation of the prerequisites for the rise of corporate supremacy, and how such supremacy has allowed big business to replace representative institutions ever since the birth of the republic, and shape US public policy in all fields, from environmental protection to foreign interventions, whichever the party in charge. That is proven by means of dozens of diachronic examples. This book is intended for all those interested in political philosophy, political science, history, constitutional law, international relations, from a radical and critical viewpoint, obviously.


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I'll bet if you asked the author he would tell you he believes the philosophy of "property rights" as espoused by John Locke , to be the inspiration behind the United States.

That's a terrible error on his part and likely the cause for producing such a piece of trash book.

Edited by Terry Mauro
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