Sunday, November 25, 2007

Archbishop attacks American "imperialism"

Whilst in the last post I said that politicians in the UK don't do religion, the same does not happen in reverse and religious men most certainly do do politics. Thus we have the Archbishop of Canterbury reported in the Sunday Times giving an interview to a Muslim magazine and pushing the all too typical anti-American line about how the US is a nasty imperial nation. As usual the word imperialism is not used of course and instead we have the notion of it being the "one global hegemonic power" instead.

The problem with the Archbishop's neo-marxist analysis of geopolitics is that as with almost every one on the Left who makes this argument it ignores the nature of power in the global arena. Thus America, because it is the top dog, is, by default, the cause of all the world's trouble, and in fact, Western modernity as a whole comes under attack.

Before one blindly accepts the Chomskian world view of America though it's worth remembering this. If America wasn't the "one global hegemonic power" someone else would be, and the alternatives are much much worse. The idea that if we could just bring America down a peg or two the world would become a giant group hug of love is absurd.

Countries like, China and Russia know this very well, but it serves their purposes to feed the idea that a single hegemonic power is a bad thing, but be under no illusion that if they could replace the US as top dog they'd be more than happy too, and the world would be a much worse place if it happened.


Sackerson said...

Spot on.

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

Rowan or ROBIN Williams - what a comedian !

Alan Douglas

Anonymous said...


I do of course agree with your disdain for the typical anti-american wank. But the Archbishops remarks could be read in a different light (and I think it more likely as Rowan is a far more astute politician than the vast majority of the front benches of either party [now I come to think of it he probably has a lawful right to an important opinion in politics with his seat in the House of Lords - anyway, I digress] and he is very widely read in more than the Apostolic Fathers). In an excellent book published in 1993 Giovanni Arrighi used Braudel's conception of the Long Twentieth Century to build up an analysis of the political economy of the last 700 years of capitalism. His thesis is basically that there are a number of epochs each with a hegemonic power which are punctuated with a decline of the hegemon and some level of economic chaos - this system he argues is amplified in each of its iterations. In this framework Britain as a hegemon and the US as a hegemon can be compared without 'imperialistic' becoming a prejoraitve word - and it is precisely his suggestion that the excess of the US will be greater than those of the British Empire, leading to greater politcal-economic chaos before the rise of a new hegemon. This analysis is fairly free of value judgement as it is seen as a necessary prerequisite of capitalism.

Don't write the him off just because he lives in a palace, has a beard and grew up in Wales - as great a sin as these three are.


Anonymous said...

I don't believe the US means me or mine any harm but there are many others that do. I fear for mainstream religious thought, it is failing me.

dizzy said...

John, did you notice where I mentioned that Williams analysis was neo-marxist? What do you think Giovanni Arrighi is? His work is straight out of the Gramscian tradition of trying to find grand theses of history. The whole basis of hegemony as a concept is to create the notion of dominant/dominated, oppressor/victim, master/slave.