Language of domination

Jeniffer Chase: I'm wondering if we can look at Arrighi in more depth. What I understand is that Arrighi looks at globalization and transition of world hegemony as a function of capital accumulation. It'd be interesting to continue our analysis of the US/China/etc. model as current and emerging world powers; I'm specifically interested in assessing the current "language" of domination (information? trade? ideology?).


re: "language" of domination: going thru our hegemons - Seems like for Venice (13th C) its was a unified "corporate identity" language sacralized by religious icons but involving new legal forms of shareholding in trading expeditions

Genoa (1298 to mid-14th C) "family" idiom of the patrilineage generalized to inter-family class-based collaborations, so "marriage alliances" had to have been dominant in diasporic cohesion. Interestingly, this seemed to precede the switch from lineage to class and marriage alliance described by Padgett which occurred in 1380, AFTER the end of Genoese hegemony.

Dutch (Amsterdam) (1610-1730) "money" and the ability to organize commodity flows and a rejection of the idea of a need for a territorial state. Corporate structures like Dutch East Indies designed to move the control of resources from distant places with a minimum of colonial migration, advancing the Venetian corporate model to one of colonial dual economies.

British (1797-1919) I found a reference to a northern Irish Imperial Grand Black Chapter of the British Commonwealth, founded in 1797, which makes me wonder whether, having lost the American colonies, the British had not adopted "commonwealth" language quite early in their rise to hegemony as the "glue" for their trading empire, along with the notion of indirect rule, the idea being "our [colonial] administration is to the benefit of all. This represents an advance on the Genoese colonial diaspora which was operated exclusively for the benefit of the Genoese families.

U.S. (1945-??). I am even wondering of the U.S. ever became a hegemon. The language of the 'Cold War' suggests not, that this was a bipolar regime change. In light of that, then, the Arrighian pendulum may not have swung all the way back at the "national corporate" end, and the EU might represent the next hegemon prior to swinging back to the Chinese model.

The other thing that I think has happened to the U.S. in its emphasis on the language of "business as corporation" is the shift from a pre-war idea that "hierarchy is the natural order" to 1) "hierarchy has failed" along with 2) "cybernetics offers a better way to compete by organizing efficiency." With a few more steps after that that I will bring in too. But #2 suggests that the U.S. corporation was already primarily concerned with international competition, just as the U.S. military was jarred by Sputnik (1956!) with competing with Russia. I.e., this is a very rapid shift from the Marshall Plan (1947) and reconstruction of Japan (starting in 1946 with a draft of a new constitution), which were aimed at establishing stability (which is what hegemons do when the come to power) to a bipolar world view. This occurred in less than a decade. The solutions of a hierarchical military and international corporate presence, however, soon gave way to there more radical cybernetic view, 3) "create stability by replacing people with computers," and let humans be substitutable elements in complex decentralized systems. This is what has now permeated military and corporate culture in the U.S. Its recent manifestation in the Enron, WorldCom and other business failures represent another "language," that of 4) "offload responsibility to machines." This offloading is now going on in educational reorganization, testing and policy. No more is there a role for the value of human experience: the expertise and emergence of better ways of running things has now shifted to a mechanized/computerized selection process. The language is not 'information resides in people' but 'quality information resides in machines.'

The Chinese are going in the other direction, away from the American model towards benefits of accumulation informed people through domestic and overseas education. At present, for example, the Chinese are pulling out investments in the U.S. and in dollars and investing in Europe. You might be right that for the Chinese at present, in addition to the language of Quanxi (same village origin units families when abroad) which is one of interfamily solidarity (like the Genoese) and the "one china" notion (like the British commonwealth, but spanning 1/3rd of the world's population), might be supplemented by a language that emphasizes "information." I dont know how this works, but there are some books on this by anthropologists.