rc-am rcollins at
Thu Apr 8 06:58:22 PDT 1999

roger wrote:

>I meant the particular US form of capitalism, embodied by McDonalds
selling poison greaseburgers for profit. That may have given meaning to the act of trashing the place. Or not. Does it explain any of your reaction?<

for sure. there are many elements to my by-now inbuilt reaction to macdonalds. some of them have to do with the food being inedible (and maybe here, at least, I would invoke bourdieu on 'taste'), some to do with the ways in which macdonalds socialises consumers at an early age, some to do with macdonalds being at the forefront of declining incomes and conditions for young workers (including here their most recent attempts to make the youth wage half of the adult wage). they are all good reasons to trash the place. but I would not be entirely honest of I did not also say that other elements of my anti-macdonaldism have much to do with a wrong distinction between 'mass food' and 'authentic food'; with a historically intuited response to 'american crassness'; with many other things, which, in short, come down to a constant sliding of my own emotional responses between anti-americanism and anti-capitalism. no doubt, I am allowed to enjoy my anti-capitalism in this instance because of the conflation of it with anti-americanism in ways which I otherwise could not. what this particular enjoyment also heralds is the ease with which I can be comfortable in capitalist processes which are not tainted by 'americanism'.

>So the collapse of a few faux socialist states has caused people to forget
>the nature of the US threat?

no. the collapse of the 'fuax socialist states' has caused people to forget that if a hegemony is so expanded it reaches across the globe and takes various national and regional forms, then the threat is no longer specifically 'american'.

> It looks like the global
>penetration of US based capital backed by the military and the IMF, is
>preceding apace (I don't think global capital is that organized, BTW). I
>say US based capital because we shouldn't overestimate the extent to which
>any capital is tied to a national border.

yes, I think you're right to note that capital is not tied to a national border. and, yes, I do think that US-based capital is still incredibly powerful. but, as I happen to think that credit is decisive in the ways in which capital composes itself into strategies, from the perspective of - and against - the working class, then I have to take the balance of international credit seriously. I think it prefigures much about what we will have to confront in the not-too distant future. yes, maybe not today, but thinking seriously about the contradictions and tensions within global capital, and also of my own anti-capitalist subjectivity, is important to do.

>I'm on weak ground here, but, yes there are noncapitalist cultures still
>there. There is even noncapitalist production (not culture, not the same
>thing) here in the US. You say all these cultures of the are now impure,
>but I don't know what purety standard you are using. There is not doubt
>they are under attack; capital seeks to penetrate everywhere. But does
>cultural resistance to capital have to be confined to only "pure" versions
>of past cultures?

not at all. but cultural resistance should be resistance to the capitalisation of cultural life, not resistance to another culture. as you say, culture in the US is hardly homogeneous; which is another reason to be careful with the equation 'american culture = capitalism'.

insofar as that 'other culture' happens to also be the carrier of the means by which the capitalisation of cultural life proceeds, then I am uncomfortable with arranging an opposition in these terms, but I can pretend not to notice the (in my view, wrong) presumption that I would be deploying: that the problem resides in the degeneration of 'my culture'. insofar as the connections between that 'other (US) culture' and the capitalisation of cultural life around the world are coming unstuck, as I think they are, then all that remains of such an oppositional subjectivity is the opposition to the 'other culture'. what is left over is one's own nationalist enjoyment.

>To the extent you see racism toward the US (I
>think that's what you meant), is there a distinction between that and the
>racism you see exhibited by the US, in the bombing and in other ways?

I should perhaps be clearer. I don't actually think there is racism toward the US. but anti-americanism is the way in which, in places like Europe, Japan, Australia, I can give my own nationalism the veneer of respectability. I was about to say that of course there is a distinction, but am inclined for now to think it is, especially in this context, a lot more complex than that. I guess it comes down to three things: a) is there a shift in the hegemonial organisation of global capital?; b) is the defense of 'one's own culture' against an 'other culture' *today* still inclined to an anti-capitalist momentum?; c) is the designation of capital as national (I.e.., US) a pretext for the nomination of another nation(alism) as the privileged or only-available ground for anti-capitalist movement?

a) yes, but I still think it's playing itself out; b) not really; c) I think this, perhaps more than anything, is what is evident in the disputes on this list about the war. the differences are not really over whether or not to bomb I think, but more fundamentally about the falling apart of, and attempts to resuscitate, our received versions of marxism's approach to 'the national question'.


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