Research for my novel led me to In the Name of Identity by Amin Maalouf, subtitled Violence and the Need to Belong. In it he states "We are also living through not the dawn but the dusk of internationalism too, at least in it's 'proletarian' form." Maalouf sees the "Church" as the current binding agent and asks "So what will religious affiliation be replaced by?"
Our historical moment brings this question into sharp relief and adds urgency as well.From the reporting it would be easy to think the "crisis" is all about America and is only economic but as Ducky pointed out, most of the worlds economies, even those with no direct exposure to "toxic assets", are affected. There is no "de-coupling" from the octopus, those "emerging economies" who were sold an export model cannot eat all the Tonka Toys they produce ( lead paint is also a problem). As disappointment turns to unrest those in Eastern Europe are warned :
"a push towards protectionism, or any sort of self sufficiency, would have a disastrous impact for these countries." Neil Shearing Emerging-Europe economist with Capital Economic LTD. London
Right there is the "veiled threat" approach for a country first decimated by State Socialism and now being pulverized by Late Capitalism. Interesting term that, "emerging Europe". I think Hitler called it something similar. Asian countries also went with the export model, assured Americans would "shop till they dropped" without thinking through the implications. Latin American countries meanwhile get their threat and policy prescriptions from the IMF and they are the exact opposite of "bailouts" or pumping liquidity or nationalization. They are given austerity budgets, privitization, elimination of capital controls, elimination of social services because they have brown skin and are more susceptible to "moral hazard". We get a "Buy America" clause in our Stimulus Plan because we are currently the hegemon and if you don't like it, bend over and prepare for a little "democratization"!
There is actually some interesting debate about US status as reigning hegemon, whether our power is waxing or waning and whether capitalism in general (ok, "state"or "late" capitalism for the nit-pickers) is experiencing a crisis in the rate of profit or not. (See the symposium with Crafts, Aglietta and Yamamura in New Left Review Nov./Dec. 2008) I am starting to think Robert Brenners take in Economics of Global Turbulence, that rates are falling and only propped up by bubbles, now has more weight but Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin have a very reasonable counter -argument.
As for the"dusk" of proletarian internationalism, that depends on us. Whether we get "social democratization" or a "New Deal" or real workers power depends on when the Soma wears off, how bad things get and how willing we the proletariat are to identify as such, form common bonds and agree to work for common cause. Religion is a strong pull, redneckism is a strong pull, hopelessness and despair are a strong pull. Let's pull together!