PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY (Scheerpost) — The United States, as the near unanimous vote to provide nearly $40 billion in aid to Ukraine illustrates, is trapped in the death spiral of unchecked militarism. No high speed trains. No universal health care. No viable Covid relief program. No respite from 8.3 percent inflation. No infrastructure programs to repair decaying roads and bridges, which require $41.8 billion to fix the 43,586 structurally deficient bridges, on average 68 years old. No forgiveness of $1.7 trillion in student debt. No addressing income inequality. No program to feed the 17 million children who go to bed each night hungry. No rational gun control or curbing of the epidemic of nihilistic violence and mass shootings. No help for the 100,000 Americans who die each year of drug overdoses. No minimum wage of $15 an hour to counter 44 years of wage stagnation. No respite from gas prices that are projected to hit $6 a gallon.
The permanent war economy, implanted since the end of World War II, has destroyed the private economy, bankrupted the nation, and squandered trillions of dollars of taxpayer money. The monopolization of capital by the military has driven the US debt to $30 trillion, $ 6 trillion more than the US GDP of $ 24 trillion. Servicing this debt costs $300 billion a year. We spent more on the military, $ 813 billion for fiscal year 2023, than the next nine countries, including China and Russia, combined.
The fallout of the war in Ukraine over Europe is largely seen in terms of the uncertainties over the continent’s heavy dependence on Russian energy and the impact of it on the economies of the 27 EU member countries. Imposing restrictions on Russian oil has proven a much more complicated task than imagined previously.
Countries that are highly dependent on Russian fossil fuels are concerned about the implications of such measures for their own economies. Hungary, for example, is apparently asking for financial support of between $16 billion and $19 billion to move away from Russian energy. It also refuses to discuss the matter at the upcoming Extraordinary European summit on Monday/Tuesday in Brussels. Prime Minister Viktor Orban asked in a letter to the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, that the oil embargo be removed from the topics of discussion at the summit.
The U.S. Government is the only and supreme champion of sanctions and coups and invasions for regime-change producing the creation of new vassal-nations throughout the globe, whereas both Russia and China must protect themselves from that or else become themselves new U.S. vassal-nations. So: they are laser-focused on NOT allowing America to grab their nation. Truly, for them, this is an existential issue, NOT a matter (such as is the case regarding the U.S. Government) of growing to become the world’s first and only all-encompassing global empire (a luxury that only America’s billionaires, who control the U.S. Government, require). This basic distinction is the reason why whereas the U.S. has over 800 military bases spread throughout the planet, Russia and China are concerned ONLY about not allowing U.S. forces to be based so near to their borders as to enable a U.S. missile to annihilate their capital’s command-and-control within less than ten minutes and so to enable the U.S. Government to grab control of them so fast that the targeted nation’s (Russia’s and China’s) retaliatory weapons won’t be launched in self-defense.
The three aims of the Russian Federation’s Special Military Operation in the Ukraine were clearly announced by President Putin at the outset on 24 February. They were very specific, very limited and deliberately excluded the occupation of the whole of the Ukraine, let alone attacks on any territories outside it. Moreover, any suggestion of the use of nuclear weapons was quite absent – that was only ever raised by the hysterical irresponsibility and propaganda of Western politicians and journalists. Let us recall that the three aims were, firstly, the liberation of the Russian Donbass from the Nazis, and, secondly and thirdly, the demilitarisation and denazification of the Ukraine as an ‘Anti-Russia’, created there by the West since 2014. In other words, the Russian aim was to finish the unfinished World War II against Nazism and definitely not trigger a ‘World War III’.
Westerners would be a lot less cavalier about demanding a foreign population keep fighting until total victory if they truly understood the horrors of war. Unfortunately, there’s a propaganda machine of unprecedented sophistication that has spent generations preventing them from obtaining that very understanding.
While everyone’s focused on the latest mass shooting in the US, The Washington Post published what may be the first major acknowledgment from the mainstream western media that Ukraine’s war against Russia has not been nearly the cakewalk they’ve been leading the public to believe.
In a new article titled “Ukrainian volunteer fighters in the east feel abandoned,” WaPo reports that contrary to the triumphant narratives the western world is being spoon-fed, many troops in eastern Ukraine have been surviving on one potato per day and deserting their posts because they feel their leaders have turned their backs on them and they’re being sent to certain death.
“Stuck in their trenches, the Ukrainian volunteers lived off a potato per day as Russian forces pounded them with artillery and Grad rockets on a key eastern front line. Outnumbered, untrained and clutching only light weapons, the men prayed for the barrage to end,” The Washington Post reports, citing multiple named sources.
As the Ukraine conflict enters its third month, the Kremlin looks likely to achieve its major military objective of securing physical control over the eastern Donbas region. Peripheral territorial acquisition of the strategic southern city of Kherson, as well as a swath of territory connecting Crimea to the Donbas and the border of the Russian Federation, also looks likely.
This will, however, fall short of expectations by both Russia and many military observers when the war began. Perhaps the greatest contributor is what appears to be a massive Russian intelligence failure over prewar assessments that organized resistance by Ukraine would be limited and easily overcome. Instead, the Russians were met by an organized, capable and determined Ukrainian military that has shown great resilience in defending against Russian attack. Instead of a quick campaign of less than a month, Russia found itself in a drawn-out fight that required its military to alter its approach — pulling back from supporting attacks against Kyiv and Odessa in favor of a more singular focus on eastern Ukraine.
Drawing on current perspectives in philosophy of history and a rigorous reading of Karl Marx’s oeuvre, George Garcia-Quesada’s recent book, Karl Marx, Historian of Social Times and Spaces, demolishes the all-too-common portrayal of Marx as an evolutionary determinist. By unpacking Marx’s concepts of social space and social time, he highlights the ways it can explain dynamics of complex multilinear development of human societies and of capitalism in particular. Cordelia Belton and Edwad, hosts of the podcast REEL ABSTRACTION, lead an inquiry into the book and consult with Massimiliano Tomba, whose own book, Marx’s Temporalities shows that an adequate historiographical paradigm for capitalism must consider the plurality of temporal layers that come into conflict in modernity.
George Garcia Quesada, Massimiliano Tomba, Edwad, Cordelia Belton
Recently, the commodity status of art and artistic labor has come into question in distinct yet related ways. Leigh Claire La Berge has argued that de-commodified labor, understood as non-waged or non-remunerated formal labor, is the missing term in contemporary discussions of art and value. Jasper Bernes has explored deindustrialized labor (labor expelled from industrial production and re-subsumed as service labor), focusing on how it has affected, and was affected by, poetic modernism and conceptual art. Dave Beech has challenged the commodity status of art, as well as recent calls to wage artistic labor, by stressing art’s hostile opposition to, and self-elevation over, craft labor during the historical emergence of its practices and institutions. This panel will explore the implications of each speaker’s approach in an effort to articulate some theoretical and tactical approaches to left artistic production and historicization. How might we analyze art’s relationship to commodification, labor, and value?
Dave Beech, Leigh Claire La Berge, Jasper Bernes, Matt Browning