Sunday, April 13, 2008

liberalism in contradiction (2): the Gaza blockade

Back in January Hamas managed to bring down the Gaza/Egypt border, only for a few days. This was driven by necessity of course, but also demonstrated a sophisticated sense of contradiction (which costs nothing and unfortunately isn't exchangeable); possibly a sharper sense of contradiction than various "leftists" might have employed.

What was demonstrated? Massive hypocrisy. The technocratic rationale of the various networks of power that happen to be ranged against the residents of Gaza: the administration of Israel, but also that of Egypt and the United States; this rationale is starkly contradicted by a practical policy of mass social imprisonment. We're used to being presented with an imaginary trade-off between vague humanitarian concerns, to be appraised in a manner unfortunately approximating aesthetic criticism, and the more positivistic, and so more apparently real concerns of the economy; here both are being curtailed.

Of course Israel's administration isn't known to be particularly liberal; and it isn't, but it's important to recognise what are really secondary phenomena; e.g. the strange religious parties are more or less peripheral to a power structure that ressembles that of other highly developed countries: business, journalism, academia, banking.

The point is that in the situation in Gaza one is presented with the apparently universal language of modern technocracy in contradiction.

Nitzan and Bichler wrote an excellent book about, among other things, Israel's power structure. This is their take on a tengentially related issue, the contradictions of the Likud party(and Kadima deserve no greater charity):

"When preaching economic liberalisation, Likud members usually meant exactly what they said. Most of them were socialised during the British Mandate era, and many of them, even today, remain locked into the petty bourgeois mentality of "free markets" and "small government". But that is precisely the point. In their imagination, they were removing the shackles of government from an otherwise competitive economy. What they did in practice, though, was deregulate an oligopolistic war economy, effectively inviting dominant capital to take the lead. Viewed from this perspective, their "political folly" no longer seems senseless. On the contrary, it looks as if their actions, unbeknown to them of course, were in fact serving a broader "latent function". For Israel's dominant capital, stagflation, rising military spending, growing dependency on the United States, and a ballooning debt, were the basic ingredients for successful differential accumulation. These very policies were also consistant with the interests of dominant capital groups in the United States, particularly those related to armaments and oil, which benefitted from the escalating regional conflict, and which played an important role in shaping U.S.-Israel relations. The most promising political platform for achieving these results was a combination of laissez-faire economics and racist militarism; and the party which believed in these principles, was ready to implement them, and, most importantly, was to never fully understand their consequences, was Likud."

from The Global Political Economy of Israel

There's actually a decent BBC report on the situation in Gaza here

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