Wall Street, War Street

HARDT Wall Street, War StreetThe latest issue of Tidal:Occupy Theory, Occupy Strategy (open access online) includes a brief (two-page) article by Michael Hardt that offers a sharp reminder:

‘To organize against the debt society in the US today we have to find a way also to challenge the war machine.  The war business is a permanent profit maker for Wall Street… War funds are raised primarily through debt.  So when you hear about troop withdrawals from Iraq or Afghanistan, don’t be fooled into thinking that war is yesterday’s issue or that the US war machine is declining or that you can expect a peace dividend next year. The United States is engaged in a “long war,” a seemingly permanent military project for which Osama Bin Laden or Al Qaeda or the Taliban or Saddam Hussein temporarily serve as the prime targets but are really stand-ins for a more vaguely defined enemy and much broader objectives.’ 

Hardt identifies three drivers (or ‘logics’) of the war machine – imperialist, neo-liberal and humanitarian – that will be familiar to most readers (at least in this capsule – pod? – form).  He concludes:

‘There are many reasons to oppose the US war machine, with its complex of military and security operations, installations, and institutions. It is a killing machine, a racist machine, a misery machine, and much more. It’s also a debt machine, and thus perhaps, when engaged together with other contemporary issues posed by debt, a movement can also begin to erode the foundations for our seemingly permanent state of war.’

What interests me is not simply the neoliberal ‘logic’ pursued by our masters of war – and Jamie Peck‘s work surely shows that we need to be assiduous in unpacking its multiple logics and (trans)formations – but also the way in which it reaches deep into the practices of military violence.  We need to expose not only the ‘business of war’ – the parasitic synergies between advanced militaries and the corporations of the international arms industry (‘Big Arma‘), and the deadly embrace between advanced militaries and the private contractors to whom more and more tasks are outsourced – but also the ways in which (at least since the days of McNamara’s ‘technowar’) advanced militaries have increasingly internalized the language, models and metrics of the Corporation. Fans of Joel Bakan will know why I use the capital – I’m talking about more than PowerPoint.