Shielding Global Statism

“Nothing could be more insidious,” wrote economist Thomas J. DiLorenzo in 1999, “than an international welfare state enforced and implemented by the NATO military machine.” Those words, offered against the backdrop of U.S.-led imperial intervention in the Balkans, proved both diagnostic and prophetic; they at once recognized the lunacy driving the war effort in an ethnically diverse region, and the momentum behind a lumbering bureaucracy formed of states with no interest but to rigidify their power.

With the recent announcement of an international pact initiating a missile shield for, according to CNN, “most of Europe and the United States,” the NATO alliance is once again making waves. In the same way that, under genuinely freed markets, broader expanses of territory would create further opportunities for trade and specialization, consortiums of states create occasions for plunder.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s “military adventurism,” warned DiLorenzo, “ … provide[s] the politicians of Nato countries with almost unimaginable prospects for patronage, bribery, and power.” NATO’s outward mission was to assemble the West in common defense against the Soviet Union, a kind of mutual aid society for the crime rings we call states.

After the end of the Cold War — which was singularly useful for NATO, its member states, and their manufacturers of war machinery — the organization scrambled to muster busy-work and create an appearance of enduring value. NATO’s true function was always to create a franchise for transmitting American hegemony, rounding up U.S. underlings to buttress its omnipresence. Without the Warsaw Pact countries to stare down, however, the need for the coalition became less clear and the fustian around its role had to change.

The new missile shield — like the post-Soviet era shift in the nineties — occasions an opportunity to remind us that, even when states work together to protect one another from other states, they are not working for the benefit of their citizens. When they stand together, they stand for the idea that their matching systems of villainy ought to be preserved. By looking after each other, then, they reinforce their ability to inflict attacks on the rest of us.

We should never be hoodwinked into the belief that “friendship and fraternity” between states is a goal to set out after, one that would promise the same for the people of those states. NATO’s member states act as administrative provinces or fiefs of an American Empire that calls state capitalism “free enterprise” and plutocratic tyranny “freedom.” Like all other inter-state alliances and treaties, NATO is, in the words of DiLorenzo, “corporate welfare run amok.” Analogous to our domestic police state and our national military, NATO fights for the interests of lawmakers, bureaucrats, connected CEOs and heads of state, not those of working people who want the “freedom” they are led to expect.

Even if we go ahead and assume that the missile shield would make the member states safer, the effect of that is to make their citizens less safe. Even the acrimony between NATO and Russia, the successor state to the Soviet Union, wanes when states are confronted with the opportunity to integrate their interests against those of the productive class. Although rebuffed, Russia’s proposal to merge its own missile defense network to that of NATO at least suggests that the spats between governments are, rather than variations on important principles, disagreements about how to divvy up the spoils of state capitalism.

Centralization and what is in this country misleadingly called “socialism” didn’t die with the Soviet Union and are not fought by NATO; they’re alive and well within the political class — which knows no nation or state — and thrive on agreements between governments that label an international military industrial complex “increased security.” In contemplating the enemies of the United States and its allies, we are much like the citizens of Oceania in George Orwell’s 1984.

“The citizen of Oceania,” wrote Orwell, “is not allowed to know anything of the tenets of the other two philosophies, but he is taught to execrate them as barbarous outrages upon morality and common sense. Actually the three philosophies are barely distinguishable.” We ought to disabuse ourselves of the idea that cooperation between states, especially military cooperation, is at all favorable to us, that it makes us anything but more bound to the yoke of statism. If the NATO missile defense shield heralds anything, it is the violence that globalization represents when it is tied to governments and to corporatism.

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