Kickstarter Campaign for Total War – War in Globalism


Hey baby, need to buy some weapons, some serious arms?

In the American Civil War a doctrine called the Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization was likely the most important determination of victory in the war. This may be the first war where this was understood by one side, and it would be the way in which the World Wars were fought. Victory in the world wars depended on disabling the capacity of the enemy to produce the material of war. The idea of total war had also been simmering and came into existence during the war between the Federalists and Confederacy. The wars of the Middle Ages were no less brutal, but were in fact kind of guided by ideas of chivalry and divine right but also were limited by the human scale of industrial production. Labor in the Middle Ages was the labor of humanity and animals. This had gradually given way to wars inflected by technology and more so by the industrial capacity of nation states at war. The World Wars saw the logical conclusion of war as a conflict between the economies of nation states. These wars of factories and the reproductive capacities of vast nation states. Without much of a surprise the losers of the war were industrial titans, Germany and Japan, and the winners of the war, The United States and Russia were monolithic and totalizing systems from top to bottom — Industrial Capitalism in one corner and Industrial Communism in the other. China was present in this war but was violently shucking off its colonialism and then embarked on the rational path of Industrial Communism.

But at the end of the war, technology and industry had produced the destructive capacities of the Nuclear Age, and at the same time, produced the networks that would give rise to Globalism. Globalism would in the end become the epoch that would replace Modernism with its nation states. In Modernism the corporation belonged to the nation state and while profits were vital to the mission of the corporation it was within the construct of the nation state. In the transition period between Modernism and Globalism, which might be called Post-Modernism, corporations gradually eroded their ties to nation States. For example corporations such as Apple Computers while being born in California in the United States by the first decade of the 21st Century relied on components from a global supply chain, Chinese labor, and sales to a global market. Apple is hardly as much a United States corporation as it is a Chinese corporation. It is a global company and does not really belong to any nation state.

There was a controversy some years ago when the United States Army allowed all enlisted soldiers to wear black berets. These berets had at one time been a signifier of an elite corp. The new berets were produced by Chinese manufacturers. The balance of total systems, a hang-over of Modernism, China = Communist, and USA = Capitalism. However in Globalism such distinctions don’t really hold sway. The production of goods (and services) is increasingly distributed globally. Industrial capacity is no longer sequestered comfortably within national boundaries. Companies produce goods and these goods are for sale in the global market place, and can be purchased by anyone with the cash.

There are attempts to regulate the global market around certain resources. For instance the trade in human chattel is regulated. It is widely considered illegal to trade in human slaves. Animal products derived from endangered species are illegal. And increasingly the fair trade movement is trying to make visible the conditions under which products are created — from the use of forced labor, environmentally destructive resource extraction practices, unsuitable cultivation, and so on. However these efforts at the root, point to the fact that in a global market essentially anything can be purchased for a price. The difference between the black and open market are difficult to maintain. Illegality itself becomes a kind of value-add where it just increases the risk and therefore the cost of the goods and services.

A recent example of how poorly regulation works in enforcing the morality of the market can be found in the lack of prosecution of the international bank HSBC. Found to have found regularly laundered money from governments placed under embargoes for genocide, human rights violations, or drug trafficking, and in fact, in being the bank of choice for the American Cocaine Cartels — HSBC  was only symbolically punished. There was in fact no global entity with the authority or ability to do much more than shake HSBC down.

Equity must be maintained at a global scale by some body that can address the scale of global companies. Perhaps the current culture of shame will have the ability to do this? It seems nascent at the moment; more about shame, but often at the root of this public shaming is an appeal to basic humane morality of the sort advocated by Thomas Paine. (To be cynical, this too, seems like it could be a possible lagging belief from Modernism.)

But for now, this means that if you have money in your wallet, you can buy any commodity that you would like on the open market. And everything is a commodity. Thus the United States military purchases its military hardware, its weaponry, and clothes from the same market that is accessible by Isis, the Taliban, Russia, Iran, North Korea, or whomever the United States happens to be in some kind of military conflict.

The Islamic State lacks any productive capacity. It is not a Nation State in the classic sense in that it contains an economy, a social order, and productive capacity. Instead it is a military operation with a religious goal and it has managed to gain control of the cash flow of oil production in Northern Iraq and Syria.  Isis can purchase its back berets from the same supplier as the United States military, and presumably, if Isis has the cash flow purchase fighter jets, air craft carriers, and so on.

War then is no longer determined by industrial capacity, but rather, the ability of the state to raise funds for war. An effect of Globalism is to abstract industrial capacity. One of the more, at least to me, shifts in Globalism, is this making war small enough to the point where it a Kickstarter campaign could be effective in either making a new IT product, making a film, or funding a war.

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