31 October 2010

The mob liquidated the bourgeoisie

When the bourgeoisie originally took over the nation-state in Europe in the middle of the 19th century it left the state's politics to its traditional rulers. It was only when the bounds of capitalism exceeded the national territory and required imperial designs that the bourgeoisie began to struggle for direct political power. 
Imperialism subjects the interests of the state to the interests of international capital, under the rubric and in the name of free trade and global markets. The shift of the promotion of capital's interests from the national to the international arena derives from capital's insatiable's appetite. It's because 'more is always better' and 'there's no such thing as enough' that the 20th century descended into the catastrophe it suffered. 
"The bourgeoisie had developed within, and together with, the nation-state, which almost by definition ruled over and beyond a class-divided society. Even when the bourgeoisie had already established itself as the ruling class, it had left all political decisions to the state. Only when the nation-state proved unfit to be the framework for the further growth of capitalist economy did the latent figjt between state and society become openly a struggle for power. During the imperialist period neither the state nor the bourgeoisie won a decisive victory. National institutions resisted throughout the brutality and the megalomania of imperialist aspirations, and bourgeois attempts to use the state and its instruments of violence for its own economic purposes were only half successful. This changed when the German bourgeoisie staked everything on the Hitler movement and aspired to rule with the help of the mob, but then it turned out to be too late. The bourgeoisie succeeded in destroying the nation-state but won a Pyrrhic victory; the mob proved quite capable of taking care of politics by itself and liquidated the bourgeoisie along with all other classes and institutions." (The Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt, 1994; page 124).

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