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11:33PM

London Review of Books on Perry Anderson's treatment of my work

Thomas Meaney review's Anderson's book (American Foreign Policy and Its Thinkers by Perry Anderson
Verso, 244 pp, £14.99, March 2014, ISBN 978 1 78168 667 6), which I excerpted here.

He overstates my trust in the market (Anderson noted my call for a lengthy progressive era [21st century edition], but so be it.

Meaney also postions me (allegedly per Anderson) as the polar opposite of Kagan, when Anderson noted our similarities (essentially calling Kagan a political determinist to my economic determinist). 

At the opposite end of the strategy spectrum from Kagan, Anderson has found a curious specimen. Thomas Barnett is a former Naval Academy instructor, and a self-declared economic determinist who delivers TED talks to the military top brass about the limits of American power. His work, Anderson writes, is ‘not unlike a materialist variant, from the other side of the barricades, of the vision of America in Hardt and Negri’s Empire’. ‘America needs to ask itself,’ Barnett writes in Great Powers (2009), ‘is it more important to make globalisation truly global, while retaining great-power peace and defeating whatever anti-globalisation insurgencies may appear in the decades ahead? Or do we tether our support for globalisation’s advance to the upfront demand that the world first resembles us politically?’ For Barnett, the answer is clear: America must trust in the market, which will solve all strategic problems. Russia? It is experiencing its Gilded Age, and will come around in fifty years. China? Already capitalist anyway, and Xi is just China’s version of Teddy Roosevelt trying to root out corruption and make markets more functional. Iran? Proceed with every deal possible, let the market penetrate, and stop threatening it with military strikes. Tell Israel to back off: Iran will take the position in the Middle East to which its culture and educated population entitle it. North Korea? First let Beijing extract from it all the minerals it needs. Then, when it reaches rock bottom, the Chinese will invite the South Koreans in to clean up the mess. In a world so tilted in the US’s favour, Barnett calls for drastically reducing the military to a small force with only a handful of bases that will be used to handle terrorist pin-pricks. In every other respect the time has come for stay-at-home capitalist husbandry.

Hat tip to my old mentor Hank Gaffney for alerting me to this.

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