Less Net



From global imperialism to local security - page 4

All of what is now classified as military spending could be re-allocated to other security priorities. Having cancelled Trident and all long-range force projection programmes, and  having closed all US bases, the UK would signal to the rest of the world that it was completely restructuring its security policy and ending its role in imperialist exploitation of non-renewable resources.

Military spending could be cut by at least 50% and the savings reallocated as direct investment in a transitional programme for local security. A £100 billion investment programme over ten years could provide the resources for a new economic and environmental security framework; including renewable energy and energy-efficiency programmes, local food production, social housing and public transport - all of which massively reduced the energy and material throughput of the economy and ended dependency on external, non-renewable resources.


The international community is faced with an unprecedented economic and environmental crisis that requires a new vision of security if civilization is to survive. Central to that crisis is the death of growth. It can either be feared or it can be welcomed as an era-defining opportunity to reconstruct the corrupt international system, replacing imperialism and elite power struggles for control of resources with localism and democratic control over economic policy.

Local economic and environmental security will emerge both as a fundamental challenge to globalisation and to the modern state system that supports it. The major imperial powers are, in historical terms, temporary and artificial constructs that evolved mainly to create the larger political units necessary for the growth of manufacturing and international trade during the initial phase of the industrial revolution. Now they are set to implode as that global economic infrastructure breaks down.

As yet, the language of international relations is incapable of reflecting these new realities because it is set in the fossilized remains of 19th and 20th Century theories, where power equates to a combination of military strength, industrial production and population, played out on the grand chessboard of global strategies.

But the major powers are hollow men, staggering blindly from one crisis to the next. Their time has gone. Whatever advantages were gained from the construction of large states in the development of industrial society have been rendered obsolete.


In the short-term, competition will intensify. This is hardly surprising in the zero-sum game of imperial politics, when oil is running out and demand for non-renewable resources is increasing. China's economic growth, military modernisation and attempts to create a global supply chain provide the classic example as it attempts to challenge the USA's hegemony. But far from being a confident and assertive world power its role is to signify the death throes of imperialism.

For stripped of any ideological baggage, global imperialism should really be called global gangsterism. Military security is a protection racket directed by corporate power to impose its will through authoritarian regimes that guarantee resource flows. Arms deals and other forms of bribery are siphoned off as personal fortunes, leaving ordinary people to live in misery and poverty.

Ultimately, these gangsters are prepared to run the risk of world war. And all for a barrel of oil.

The collapse of imperialism should be celebrated from the highest rafters. In its stead can emerge a commonwealth of local communities dedicated to resolving resource depletion and environmental degradation. For those are the real security challenges of the 21st Century if we want to build a lasting and just peace.


1. James B. Collins, The State in Early Modern France (Cambridge University Press, 1995)

2. Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Imperialism, 1875-1914 (Abacus, 1994)

3. Margaret MacMillan, Peacemakers – The Paris Conference of 1919 and Its Attempts to End War (John Murray, 2002)

4. Sidney Lens, The Forging of the American Empire – From the Revolution to Vietnam, A History of U.S. Imperialism (Pluto Press, 2003)

5. W.G. Beasley, Japanese Imperialism 1894-1945 (Clarendon Press, 1991)

6. Gar Alperowitz, Atomic diplomacy, Hiroshima and Nagasaki – The Use of the Atomic Bomb and the Confrontation with Soviet Power (Seeker and Warburg, 1966)

7. Mark Curtis, Web of Deceit - Britain’s Real Role in the World (Vintage, 2003)

8. Michael Klare, Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet – How Scarce Energy is Creating a New World Order (Oneworld Publications, 2008)

9. Peter J. Croll et al, Yellow Imperialism or Successful Wealth Creation Formula – How the Trade in Natural Resources is Changing Chinese-African Relation (Bonn International Conversion Centre, Focus 7, May 2008)

10. Duncan Campbell – The Unsinkable Aircraft Carrier – American Military Power in Britain (Michael Joseph Ltd, 1984)

11. Steven Schofield, Making Arms, Wasting Skills – Alternatives to Militarism and Arms Production (Campaign Against the Arms Trade, 2008)

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