Comments on: DeLong and the economists on Debt, Chapter 12 http://savageminds.org/2013/02/09/delong-and-the-economists-on-debt-chapter-12/ Notes and Queries in Anthropology Tue, 30 Jun 2015 00:09:05 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 By: debt opinions | 2ec blog http://savageminds.org/2013/02/09/delong-and-the-economists-on-debt-chapter-12/comment-page-2/#comment-794405 Wed, 13 Feb 2013 01:03:24 +0000 http://savageminds.org/?p=9306#comment-794405 […] DeLong and the economists on Debt, Chapter 12 | Savage Minds http://savageminds.org/and some time browsing on DeLong's blog, it became pretty clear that his argument is actually based primarily in two reviews written about Debt a while back: One by Gabriel Rossman and the other by Henry Farrell at … […]

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By: reviews of debt http://savageminds.org/2013/02/09/delong-and-the-economists-on-debt-chapter-12/comment-page-2/#comment-793921 Mon, 11 Feb 2013 17:31:41 +0000 http://savageminds.org/?p=9306#comment-793921 […] DeLong and the economists on Debt, Chapter 12 | Savage Minds http://savageminds.org/and some time browsing on DeLong's blog, it became pretty clear that his argument is actually based primarily in two reviews written about Debt a while back: One by Gabriel Rossman and the other by Henry Farrell at … […]

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By: Anthropology Blog Update and Book Feature: Local Lives | Anthropology Report http://savageminds.org/2013/02/09/delong-and-the-economists-on-debt-chapter-12/comment-page-2/#comment-793917 Mon, 11 Feb 2013 17:04:20 +0000 http://savageminds.org/?p=9306#comment-793917 […] DeLong, the political scientist (Farrell), and the sociologist (Rossman) on Debt, Ryan Anderson So here we are. Anthropologists and economists, together again. We each have certain strengths we bring to the table, and we each have our shortcomings and weaknesses. What are we going to do? Are we going to dig our trenches and get ready for another round of endless disciplinary warfare? Are we going to sit on the sidelines and be content with lobbing pot shots here and there? Or are we going to honestly assess our respective strengths and weaknesses, get on with it, and shift the conversation in more a open, meaningful direction? We could even consider–GASP!!!–some sort of collaboration?!? Or we can stick to the same old divisions: the economists and their mathematical models on one side of the dance floor, the anthropologists and their tape recorders and notebooks on the other. Another standoff? Note: Quite a long comments section, which has now been closed. […]

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By: Ryan http://savageminds.org/2013/02/09/delong-and-the-economists-on-debt-chapter-12/comment-page-2/#comment-793892 Mon, 11 Feb 2013 14:23:57 +0000 http://savageminds.org/?p=9306#comment-793892 The comments for this thread are now closed.

R.A.

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By: Lucas D http://savageminds.org/2013/02/09/delong-and-the-economists-on-debt-chapter-12/comment-page-2/#comment-793891 Mon, 11 Feb 2013 14:21:39 +0000 http://savageminds.org/?p=9306#comment-793891 A side note regarding comment moderation: I used to participate in a Yahoo discussion group in which the moderator enforced a strict “no ad hominems” policy. The rule was: talk about the topics/ideas, not about the personalities etc of the other discussants. There was something like first warning, second warning, and your out for two weeks. On the face of it, this might sound drastic, but in fact it really improved the quality of discussions. I think it would be great if Savage Minds moderators could find a way to impliment something similar.

[Noted–thanks for your input. SM Staff.]

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By: david http://savageminds.org/2013/02/09/delong-and-the-economists-on-debt-chapter-12/comment-page-2/#comment-793872 Mon, 11 Feb 2013 12:53:36 +0000 http://savageminds.org/?p=9306#comment-793872 @Phillip

Totally understand why you would bow out at this point – I really admire your fortitude sticking it out as long as you did. Thanks for bringing a dose of common sense to the discussion.

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By: sibusisodan http://savageminds.org/2013/02/09/delong-and-the-economists-on-debt-chapter-12/comment-page-2/#comment-793860 Mon, 11 Feb 2013 11:15:20 +0000 http://savageminds.org/?p=9306#comment-793860 For those of us non-academics playing along at home, would someone mind unpacking the heuristic with which one decides which matters of fact are germane, and which are non-germane?

Because, if I’ve got this right (my being wrong is of course an ever-possible event), quite a lot of the disagreement here is over whether it matters whether certain statements of fact are correct or not.

The ‘they’re not important’ case seems to be that it’s infra dig to point out such errors of fact. Is this really the case? Doesn’t that turn on the place those statements of fact have in the structure of the overall argument?

It might be that those statements can be excised from the argument without troubling its overall structure. In which case, great. But this needs to be demonstrated, not merely assumed. And this hasn’t been done, at least on this thread that I can see.

(I’m not an academic, and this isn’t my field anyway, so you may wish to ignore Random Guy on the Internet. But I’m finding the discussion on appropriate rhetoric somewhat fascinating and would be genuinely interested to get a better grasp on the rationale behind dismissing factual complaints or otherwise).

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By: david http://savageminds.org/2013/02/09/delong-and-the-economists-on-debt-chapter-12/comment-page-2/#comment-793847 Mon, 11 Feb 2013 10:39:17 +0000 http://savageminds.org/?p=9306#comment-793847 [comment removed–off topic]

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By: Philip Pilkington http://savageminds.org/2013/02/09/delong-and-the-economists-on-debt-chapter-12/comment-page-2/#comment-793836 Mon, 11 Feb 2013 09:34:40 +0000 http://savageminds.org/?p=9306#comment-793836 The discussion on imperialism has now become completely degenerate. Imperialism is just a situation of dominance between states. It manifests itself in different ways in different times. But the dominant country is always. stronger than stronger than the dominated. That should have been the end of the discussion when everyone realised that certain people had an unusual interpretation of this phrase with which they were beating up on graeber’s book. But people on the internet never admit they’re wrong and these sorts of “debates” then become pedantic and interminable. I’m done.

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By: david (not graeber) http://savageminds.org/2013/02/09/delong-and-the-economists-on-debt-chapter-12/comment-page-2/#comment-793794 Mon, 11 Feb 2013 04:56:56 +0000 http://savageminds.org/?p=9306#comment-793794 Spam filter ate my first comment…

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By: david (not graeber) http://savageminds.org/2013/02/09/delong-and-the-economists-on-debt-chapter-12/comment-page-2/#comment-793793 Mon, 11 Feb 2013 04:55:58 +0000 http://savageminds.org/?p=9306#comment-793793 And, honestly, it seems a mite implausible that if Greece negotiated for food from Russia or Iran – in exchange for a non-military concession, although it’s hard to imagine what Russia would want there – that there would be any military retaliation.

Germany trades actively with Iran, for one thing, and it regularly lobbies against proposed EU-wide trade sanctions.

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By: Henry Farrell http://savageminds.org/2013/02/09/delong-and-the-economists-on-debt-chapter-12/comment-page-2/#comment-793780 Mon, 11 Feb 2013 04:00:41 +0000 http://savageminds.org/?p=9306#comment-793780 Jakob – I don’t believe that this is true e.g. of the Venezuelan debt crisis, but since I am not in my office right now, I’ll have to check tomorrow. On the main point, other states are not proposing to place an embargo essential imports to Greece, and they’d find it more or less politically impossible to do this. The point is that they don’t need to – more indirect forms of suasion are amply sufficient. My point, again, is that an order based on threats involving market access works in importantly different ways than an order based on directly military threats. The relationship between state violence and outcomes is a different one. This is not a claim that market and global institution based orders are normatively “better” than orders in which political domination is more immediate and overt. It’s a claim that it’s important to map these relationships out clearly to get some idea of what is going on.

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By: Jakob Stenfalk http://savageminds.org/2013/02/09/delong-and-the-economists-on-debt-chapter-12/comment-page-2/#comment-793774 Mon, 11 Feb 2013 03:20:04 +0000 http://savageminds.org/?p=9306#comment-793774 Nobody has ever sent gunboats to collect sovereign debt – people send gunboats to collect foreign debt. A lot of economists miss this important distinction, because by the time the gunboats get involved the sovereign has usually assumed (or been saddled with) responsibility for honoring the foreign debts that the gunboats come to collect.

The spectrum of gunboat diplomacy runs all the way from gunboats (as were deployed e.g. against Panama when it refused to renew a punitive canal treaty) on one end, through funding, training and arming domestic opposition (as was done for the Chilean fascists when Chile defaulted on its commitments to Alcoa et al), through denial of essential imports (as is being threatened against Greece at the moment) on the other end. It is possible to play all sorts of demarcation games with this spectrum, but the guy who dies because the great powers cut off his food supply is unlikely to care whether it was cut off through the implicit violence of the markets or the explicit violence of a naval blockade. He’s just as dead either way.

And if you believe that gunboats have nothing to do with the Greek situation, then I invite you to consider the counterfactual in which the Greek government makes an agreement to import food and fuel from Russia or Iran (perhaps in exchange for basing rights in the Aegean), and then tells its (other) foreign creditors to fuck off and die. Gunboats would come into the picture rather quickly – so quickly, in fact, that they cannot truly be said to have ever been absent. If the current iteration of globalization relies more on implicit violence and less on explicit violence (most Africans would likely disagree with that assertion), it is merely a reflection of the lesser need to discourage this sort of opportunistic intervention by other great powers into tributary relationships.

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By: Henry Farrell http://savageminds.org/2013/02/09/delong-and-the-economists-on-debt-chapter-12/comment-page-2/#comment-793768 Mon, 11 Feb 2013 02:51:12 +0000 http://savageminds.org/?p=9306#comment-793768 Jakob – my point concerned sovereign debt. If there are gunboats pounding the docks at the Piraeus, it is certainly news to me. The US invasion of Argentina after its default went unheralded (perhaps unsurprisingly) in the mainstream press. The relationship between the Iran situation and issues of sovereign debt is at best rather opaque. Now you can surely argue that what is happening in Greece is quite as morally insidious as what would have happened to a defaulter in the sovereign era. But it is happening through a combination of markets and purportedly technocratic decision makers in the ECB and elsewhere. Germany is to blame for very many things, but there are no Panzers crossing the border, nor any credible threat of same. The point is exactly that the distinction between the 19th century and today has purchase in explaining Greece. If you want to turn to German – or US – military might in order to explain what Greece is going through right now, you’re going to have a very hard time of it. You need a more supple theory of imperialism, one that recognizes that there are real, and very important differences between the kind of pressures exerted today, and the kinds of pressures exerted by previous forms of imperial system.

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By: Jakob Stenfalk http://savageminds.org/2013/02/09/delong-and-the-economists-on-debt-chapter-12/comment-page-2/#comment-793759 Mon, 11 Feb 2013 02:27:26 +0000 http://savageminds.org/?p=9306#comment-793759 “For example, if we are concerned with debt relations, there is a clear difference between an earlier system where (as Martha Finnemore documents), failure to pay sovereign debt would lead to gunboats pounding your defenses, to one in which the punishments are largely leveraged through markets, arbitral tribunals etc. It doesn’t get us very far to say that imperialism is connected in some very broad way with military power – the difficult and important thing is to map out the relationship. And here, tribute (unless it is some anodyne synonym for asymmetric extraction in general) doesn’t seem to me to get us very far at all in a world where the most significant forms of extraction are only very vaguely related to direct military threats.”

The difference is much more superficial than most proponents of the current iteration of globalization would care to admit.

If we ditch all the cheap talk about democracy and human rights and free trade, and just look at the actual shipments of actual stuff that take place on actual ships between actual ports of call, we find basically the same pattern today as you do at the apex of the British Empire. There are three noteworthy differences: The US has flipped from being a net exporter of industrial commodities to being a net importer; China and Indochina have flipped from being net exporters of raw materials to being net importers; and French West Africa has flipped from the French sphere of interest to the Anglo-American.

That’s it.

The rest of the differences are superficial changes in which raw material extraction sites are discovered and which are used up to the point where recovery is no longer economical.

So in terms of the flows of commodities across international borders and between continents, the British Empire’s system of colonial tribute is alive and well.

Now, it is true that the American empire operates fewer concentration camps than the British empire did. It is true that, unlike the British empire, the American empire operates no outright death camps (that we know of). And it is true that the American empire has delegated larger parts of its tribute collection to corporate entities which lack the direct access to applied violence which the British East India Company possessed. But to claim that “there is a clear difference between an earlier system where […], failure to pay [foreign] debt would lead to gunboats pounding your defenses, to one in which the punishments are largely leveraged through markets” is to make a distinction that would not find any great purchase in, say, Argentina, Greece or Iran.

For that matter, the claim that the current iteration of globalization is a system “in which the punishments are largely leveraged through markets” is a claim that stretches credulity when viewed in light of the list of governments that have been toppled by means that fall somewhere along the continuum that begins with arming and funding internal opposition and ends with putting a marine division in the capital.

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