Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Shorter VDH: Those dastardly wordly capitalists need to read Thucydides and be ornery nationalist pricks just like me!

Via LGM, the world's worst classicist (thank you Yglesias), complains that MBA's and cosmopolitan business types aren't nationalist or chauvinist enough, and in the pursuit of the all holy dollar, have turned into a soft, internationalist elite who don't think the USA is kicking enough ass abroad and refuse to recognize the existential threat represented by Teh Jeehad.

Now, it's easy to make fun of VDH
, but the LGM crew is much better at it than I, so I won't try. First off, I actually kinda like VDH. (ed - ok, bagging on GFR and Marcotte was fine,giving love to Larison was stretching it, but this is beyond the pale. Go hang out with Kaus, the liberals will never love you!) There are plenty of run-of-the-mill neocons who think that all problems can be solved with more force and that all the US government should be concerned with is fighting Teh Jeehad and putting more troops in Iraq, but VDH is actually pretty cool. I mean, how many almond farming, classicists from FRESNO! do you see in the opinion pages? Also, being a California native, I have to look out for my fellow Left Coasters. I even think that his farming background gives him an insight into immigration (I think he's wrong about it, but still) that not many pundits have. But lets get on to his point that:

One does not have to embrace Buchananism, to see that a growing challenge in this century will be the smiley international corporation, not in the sense of a handle-bar moustache and black-hat villain stealing third-world resources, but with the face of Birkenstocks, polo shirts, and an I-pod, run by the man who believes in no affiliation other than as an alumnus donor to his business school, has no moral principle, has no knowledge or sense of history, much less the tragedy of history, no real anger, no real enthusiasm other than for a new angle globalized to the nth degree—and who is pledged to nothing other than the notion of profit and the dangers to globalized profit that are posed by those who stand for ideas and values which get in the way of Kumbaya hedge funds and tranbordered consortia.

As usual, Marx said this first. From the Communist Manifesto:

The bourgeoisie has, through its exploitation of the world market, given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. To the great chagrin of reactionaries, it has drawn from under the feet of industry the national ground on which it stood. All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed...In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible.
It should surprise no one that MBA types have a cosmopolitan outlook. They are chiefly concerned with low barriers to entry for businesses and low barriers to foreign investment and the moving of capital from country to country. Thus, they look to international institutions to provide a framework for the easy flow of capital. This outlook which views the entire world as a place for profit makes nationalism seems quaint. I know something of these people, because my beloved brother is one of them. Many of the young business elite has spent time living in other countries and are very comfortable traveling and working abroad. They know that, contra VDH, China is an asshole as far as intellectual property and patent protection go. They also are incredibly wary of populist moves by the US to restrict trade. They generally have a doctrine of free movement of capital, goods and labor and thus wouldn't be so angry with "Mexico (a policy of sending millions across the border of its neighbor in violation of sovereignty)"

As Robert Wright explained in Non Zero, that we are able to communicate with each other over greater distances at higher speeds (the Internet
) and the fact that when one country gets screwed, the entire world economy will be at risk necessities cooperative solutions to common problems. Hanson, who's worldview seems to have not evolved since Constantine moved the capital to Byzantium, just can't wrap his head around this. I, for one, welcome the rule of our new cosmopolitan corporate overlords.

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