Chalmers Johnson passes away

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darbikrash's picture
darbikrash
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Chalmers Johnson passes away

The world has lost one of the greats.

Link

Johnson, who passed away Saturday afternoon at 79 years, invented and was the acknowledged godfather of the conceptualization of the "developmental state". For the uninitiated, this means that Chalmers Johnson led the way in understanding the dynamics of how states manipulated their policy conditions and environments to speed up economic growth. In the neoliberal hive at the University of Chicago, Chalmers Johnson was an apostate and heretic in the field of political economy. Johnson challenged conventional wisdom with he and his many star students -- including E.B. Keehn, David Arase, Marie Anchordoguy, Mark Tilton and others -- writing the significant treatises documenting the growing prevalence of state-led industrial and trade and finance policy abroad, particularly in Asia.

Today, the notion of "State Capitalism" has become practically commonplace in discussing the newest and most significant features of the global economy. Chalmers Johnson invented this field and planted the intellectual roots of understanding that other nation states were not trying to converge with and follow the so-called American model.

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goes211
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Re: Chalmers Johnson passes away

This is very sad news.  I still have not read "Sorrows of Empire" but "Blowback" and "Nemesis" were both excellent.  He will be missed.

RIP

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Strategy Praxis
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Re: Chalmers Johnson passes away

I’m extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Chalmers Johnson.  He was a true icon.  His writing on state capitalism is outstanding.  It is amusing his opinion of the CFR.  From the article you cited:

In one of my fondest memories of Chalmers and Sheila Johnson at their home with their then Russian blue cats, MITI and MOF, named after the two engines of Japan's political economy -- Chal railed against the journal, Foreign Affairs, which he saw as a clap trap of statist conventionalism. He decided he had had enough of the journal and of the organization that published it, the Council on Foreign Relations. So, Chalmers called the CFR and told the young lady on the phone to cancel his membership.

The lady said, "Professor Johnson, I'm sorry sir. No one cancels their membership in the Council in Foreign Relations. Membership is for life. People are canceled when they die."

Chalmers Johnson, not missing a beat, said "Consider me dead."

Ian Bremmer, the President of the Eurasia Group, has expanded on Chalmers Johnson’s work arguing that American-style capitalism is going to face fierce competition from Chinese state capitalism.  He states that a "Beijing Consensus" may replace the "Washington Consensus".  Ian Bremmer has written an excellent book "The End of the Free Market: Who Wins the War Between States and Corporations".  A review of this book can be found here:

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2010/05/28/free_market_fail_105754.html

My only issue with all of this is that the US does NOT have free-market capitalism.  We have corporatism.  That is not just an opinion.  There have many many peer-reviewed studies on corporatism and researchers have developed quantitative indicators of corporatism.  Dr. Clyde Wilson has defined US corporatism as a type of inverted state capitalism:  “a regime of highly concentrated private ownership, subsidized and protected by government.”  Political scientist Phillip Blond remarks: “We’ve created a condition in which large businesses dominate—via a rigged market of rent-seeking capital—in an economy that cuts off for the majority the path to mobility and prosperity.”  Some may disagree, but many scholars still consider China to be a totalitarianism state.  Interestingly, political philosopher Dr. Sheldon Wolin believes that the US and the rest of the Anglo-American Dutch alliance is descending into what he calls inverted totalitarianism.  Chris Hedges is a fan of Sheldon Wolin and remarks:

 

“Inverted totalitarianism differs from classical forms of totalitarianism, which revolve around a demagogue or charismatic leader, and finds its expression in the anonymity of the corporate state. The corporate forces behind inverted totalitarianism do not, as classical totalitarian movements do, boast of replacing decaying structures with a new, revolutionary structure. They purport to honor electoral politics, freedom and the Constitution. But they so corrupt and manipulate the levers of power as to make democracy impossible.”

I wrote an article on Daily Kos back in February on how the left-right paradigm is exploited to advance corporatism at the expense of both true liberals and true conservatives:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/2/2/202333/8502

 

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darbikrash
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Re: Chalmers Johnson passes away

Thanks for posting. I took some time to read the blog you referenced, and your description of dialectical thinking was quite good. As you note, much of the political discourse reduces to left vs. right ideological debate, with predictable results. The concept of dialectical thinking is very powerful and certainly goes a long way towards explaining the frustrating observations of political theater.

 Link

So on the surface, it may appear that strong government regulation of business vs. deregulation and free-market policies are polar opposites.  I assert that both can reinforce corporatism if done right.  And the establishment is very good at doing it right.  This is a perfect example of this amazing strategy in action.  The electorate on both the left and the right almost uniformly oppose corporatism.  If the establishment directly pushes this agenda, out will come the torches and pitchforks.  However, if the agenda is carefully split between two paths that appear polar opposites, but are in fact dialectically related, then it is irrelevant which path is followed.  The agenda advances.  The public picks path A – they lose.  The agenda advances. The public picks path B – they lose.  The agenda advances.  They always lose and big government/big business always win.  Since most people do not understand the concept of dialectic nor do they think dialectically, they fully expect that if you flip back and forth between path A and path B you will get a middle of the road result.  But you don’t – and that is why the strategy works so well.

 

Excellent work.

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Re: Chalmers Johnson passes away

Here is a relatively unknown interview with Chalmers Johnson from July 26, 2007.  It is about 50 minutes long and in my opinion worth the time to watch.  He covers a lot of ground - topics still relevant today.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article26897.htm

Chalmers Johnson on American Hegemony

"In this exclusive interview, you will find out why the practice of empire building is, by no means, a thing of the past. As the United States continues to expand its military forces around the globe, the consequences are being suffered by each and every one of us."

 

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jumblies
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Re: Chalmers Johnson passes away

TheRealNews.com have a 4-part interview with him from Oct 2008 that's worth watching.

http://www.therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=33&Itemid=74&jumival=237

 

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Christopher H
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Re: Chalmers Johnson passes away

Definitely a major influence on the development of my own socio-political thought.  While he will be missed, he also leaves behind a body of work that will long outlive his time in this world.

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machinehead
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Re: Chalmers Johnson passes away
Strategy Praxis wrote:

Chalmers Johnson on American Hegemony

"In this exclusive interview, you will find out why the practice of empire building is, by no means, a thing of the past. As the United States continues to expand its military forces around the globe, the consequences are being suffered by each and every one of us."

Chalmers Johnson hammered away at the fact that the US military empire is a counterproductive financial drain, which actually creates most of the terrorist threats which bedevil us.

The US military empire is an enormous deadweight loss, inexorably hollowing out its superpower status, just as the Soviet military empire helped sink the Soviet economy.

Ditching the empire is not even on the political radar  -- Peace Laureate O'Bomber just got back from a NATO summit in which this obsolete, incompetent organization agreed to keep intervening and interfering (read: making enemies) all over the world, as well as staying engaged in the black-hole Afghan quagmire. 

For this reason, I am pretty sure the US is headed for serious long-term decline. I tell anyone who's just starting their career to consider emigrating, while it's still possible to leave with a few convertible dollars clutched in your palm. Even as we speak, the Democratic and Republican saboteurs are busy bolting the exit doors shut with draconian laws to punish would-be emigrants. 

Among thousands of erudite political, social and economic commentators, Chalmers Johnson is one of a handful who actually got the big picture right. We owe him a big debt of gratitude. And we'd better pray that someone can step into his shoes.

jumblies's picture
jumblies
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Re: Chalmers Johnson passes away

I tell anyone who's just starting their career to consider emigrating

not that i'm starting out, but where's a good place to go? here in the UK it's looking pretty ropey and seems pretty clear that a lot of europe is teetering on the edge. of course, as a civilian population the europeans aren't as weaponised as americans.

 

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Vanityfox451
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Re: Chalmers Johnson passes away

Jumblies,

New Zealand.

Put simply, you can fit the Uk into it twice, but you'd have to times by fifteen the population of New Zealand to match that of the UK.

Nelson in particular is my "Galts Gulch".

Keep it to yourself mind, I wouldn't want this secret publicised!

Who knows, maybe I'll see you there, and we'll put the world right between ourselves over memories of England ...

I make no bones, that if you wanted to give the world an enema, England is where I'd stick the pipe ...Sealed...

~ VF ~

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