Neoliberalism is a war. A World War. It is, says Subcomandante Marcos of the Ejercito Zapatista Liberacion Nacional, the Fourth World War. The Third was the Cold War, a war fought in a global arena between two superpowers, but not directly by them. It was a war at the peripheries. We know it was a war because of the obsession with armaments, armaments for war. Speed is the essence of war said Sun Tzu, but he was wrong. To build for destruction is the essence of war, its only manifesto. We know it was a World War, also, because of the myriad satellite conflicts, destruction at the periphery. The destruction of those at the margins, power games in a new economic-global configuration. Still a war. A recognizable war whose shape is easily discernible as such.
The Fourth World War is different. The inauguration of this war, says Marcos, coincides with the victory of the US over the USSR. It is different because there is no immediate rival. There are no two superpowers apparently competing for dominion. There is only the monolith. The steamroller of a global techno-village. The homogenization of the world and the hegemony of the market. This is the new religion. This is neoliberalism. The erasure of difference. The trampling of ways of being. Destroying in order to rebuild.
Destroying. Throwing all into the melding pot to build a flash image. A shopping mall in the desert. Let them eat IPADs the financial wizards of the federal reserve seem to say in the face of rising food prices. Cake, at least, is edible. Financial wizardry, this occultation of the material, subservience to the abstractions of Capital. This is neoliberalism. This is the new religion. This is war.
Like other wars this is a war about territory. About redrawing the map. It is about slavery and subservience. It is a new colonialism, that seeks to expand not only its territory and its resources but also its market. It is about a conflagration of war and business. War and business have always gone hand in hand but now, it seems, they are inseparable. There is not, there cannot be, not any longer, a clear sense of victory, of winning the war. Even winning the local conflicts, the peripheral wars, that are a part of this global destruction seems to be an absurd notion of yesteryear. Conflict is interminable. Why? Because it is a part of the process. It is the manner of the world. Flaring up at any time, war is never gone. The interminable, inexorable destruction of the planet, its resources, its people, its cultures drives on. It is, says Marcos, a total war. A war in which the categories of civilian and neutral have become obsolete. Either we ally with the hegemony of Capital, the total war waged by neoliberalism on humanity, or we become its disparate enemies.
This is a much more stringent, more demanding Either/Or than the facile and stupid Jihad vs McWorld paradigm that has of late appealed to factions within the Western and the Islamic world. The Arab vs American religous contra secular ideologues who mockingly deride reality. Ignoring the destruction that their power games wreak on the world. On the poor and impoverished, the outcast.
It is not Jihad vs McWorld. Either we die, or we live. Either we kill all that we have known in our short existence on this world, or we learn to nurture life. We accept the absurd monstrosities of financial magicians who teach us the importance of banking, of credit, of gaudy deception or we turn to those who know how to nurture trees, which plants can be used for food and medicine. Turn to those who know how to listen to a suffering heart, how to find beauty in the world.
It is simple. It is hard. Could revolution be anything less?