Thursday, March 31, 2022

Seminario Internacional: La lucha en clave judicial frente al cambio climático [The legal battle against climate change] (5 de mayo 2022 en forma online)


I am delighted to pass along the announcement of an international seminar La lucha en clave judicial frente al cambio climático [The legal battle against climate change in the courts]. The seminar is sponsored by the Universitat Jaume I (Valencia) and organized by Francisco Javier Zamora Cabot (Universitat Jaume I), Lorena Sales Pallarés (Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha), and Maria Chiara Marullo (Universitat Jaume I). 

I addition to the organizers, who will present their recently published books on climate change and climate change actors (discussed below), participants include 

  • H.E. Mr. Philippe Couvreur, Judge Ad Hoc, International Court of Justice, The Hague, who will present “El cambio climático y la Corte Interacional de Justicia: perspectivas"

    Gregorio Mesa Cuadros, Catedrático de la facultad de derecho y CC. políticas y sociales de la Universidad Nacional de Columbia, who will present “Crisis climáticas y afectaciones a derechos ambientales"

    Larry Catá Backer, profesor de las facutades to relaciones internacionales y de derecho, Pennsylvania State University, who will present: “Rethinking climate change from the perspective of the 2018 proposal for a Framework Principles on Human Rights and the Environment." 

The seminar is developed around the recent publication of two books that have added substantially to the discussion about climate change litigation centered in Spain and more broadly in the Spanish speaking world. One was published this year by the seminar organizers: Zamora Cabot, Francisco Javier Sales Pallarés, Lorena; Chiara Marullo, Maria, La lucha en clave judicial frente al cambio climático  (ISBN: 9788413458700; Thompson Reuters Editorial Aranzadi; 2022). The abstract nicely sets the tone for the seminar:

Representa esta obra un punto de inflexión por cuanto hasta el momento no se ha realizado en España un libro dedicado exclusivamente a la lucha judicial frente al cambio climático a pesar del importante impacto que sobre los derechos humanos supone. Diferentes voces y matices pulsan aquí reflexiones sobre la época en la que vivimos de transformación radical de nuestros marcos de referencia, donde uno de los ámbitos de reflexión y de acción compartida obligada en la comunidad internacional se centra en la emergencia climática. ¿Cómo debemos actuar desde la dimensión de la gobernanza para transformar el actual modelo en otro sostenible, justo y equitativo? Con una mirada coral transversal y pluridisciplinar se aborda la problemática del cambio climático a través de un hilo conductor guiado por los casos prácticos y el análisis jurisprudencial más reciente tanto en Europa como en Latinoamérica.

[This work represents a turning point in that, to date, a book dedicated exclusively to the legal battles in courts centered on climate change issues had not been produced in Spain, despite the significant impact those issues have on human rights. Different voices and nuances elaborate distinct reflections on the times in which we live in radical transformation of our frames of reference, where one of the areas of reflection and shared action required in the international community focuses on the climate emergency. How should we act from the governance dimension to transform the current model into a sustainable, fair and equitable one? From a blended transverse and multidisciplinary perspective, the problem of climate change is addressed through a common thread guided by case studies and the most recent jurisprudential analysis both in Europe and in Latin America.]

The other is a companion work:  Aspectos destacados en la lucha frente al cambio climático ((eds) Francisco Javier Zamora Cabot; Lorena Sales Pallarés; Maria Chiara Marullo; and Beatriz Felipe Pérez (Thompson Reuters Editorial Aranzadi; 2022)). This volume focuses on the critical actors who are driving climate change litigation and principally NGOs, consumers and indigenous peoples. 

La obra ofrece un amplio abanico de actores, ONG’s, pueblos indígenas, pequeños estados insulares, asociaciones de consumidores…que nos plantean situaciones reales a las que se enfrentan en la actualidad, así como los recursos legales con los que cuentan o justamente aquellos que requerirían para poder hacer frente en igualdad de condiciones frente a las grandes multinacionales que con frecuencia están detrás de los efectos más devastadores.

[The work features a wide range of actors--NGOs, indigenous peoples, small island states, consumer associations... who present us with real situations that they face today, as well as the legal resources they have or as well as those that they would require. to be able to deal on equal terms with the large multinationals that are often thought to be responsible for the most devastating climate effects. ]

The  Seminar will be conducted in SPANISH and ENGLISH.  


The brief summary of my presentation follows below

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Call for inputs on combating intolerance against persons based on religion or belief


Pix Credit HERE

 This from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights may be of interest:

Call for inputs on combating intolerance against persons based on religion or belief
On 16 December 2021, the General Assembly adopted resolution 76/157, entitled “Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons, based on religion or belief” ( It requests “the Secretary-General to submit to the General Assembly at its seventy-seventh session a report that includes information provided by the High Commissioner on steps taken by States to combat intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons, based on religion or belief, as set forth in the present resolution”.

Please forward any contributions to this report to the OHCHR Registry ( cc ohchr-minorities@un.orgby 24 April 2022. Please expressly indicate when the information
provided cannot be made publicly available on the OHCHR website.

The Report of the Secretary-General, 'Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons, based on religion or belief' (A/76/164 16 July 2021) may be accessed HERE.

General Assembly Resolution A/Res/76/157 (7 January 2022), entitled “Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons, based on religion or belief" follows below.


Tuesday, March 29, 2022

中华人民共和国个人信息保护法 (Personal Information Protection Law of the People’s Republic of China): Translation from DigiChina


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I thought it useful to share the Chinese and English translation of the 中华人民共和国个人信息保护法  Personal Information Protection Law of the People’s Republic of China. Great tanks to the folks at DigiChina for making this translation available. The original may be accessed HERE; another HERE (which includes the original Chinese).

It follows below:

Credits: This translation was produced by Rogier Creemers and Graham Webster on the basis of DigiChina's earlier translation of the of the second review draft of the law, which in turn was based on our translation of the first draft, produced by Rogier Creemers, Mingli Shi, Lauren Dudley, and Graham Webster.  [Updated Aug. 22, 2021, with a number of minor edits. Substantive changes include a new rendering of the Article 73 definition of automated decision-making and correction of the word "retaliatory" to the more appropriate "reciprocal" in Article 43. Thanks to Jamie Horsley for valuable comments and corrections. | Updated Sept. 3, 2021, to add the omitted word "collective" in Article 13, Item 2; thanks to Danping Yang for the correction. | Updated Sept. 7, 2021, to add the omitted phrase "and handling methods" to Article 73, Item 1; thanks to Mingli Shi for the correction. –Ed.]


Monday, March 28, 2022

In the Battle to Drive Global Baseline Standards it is Necessary for Core Leadership States to Project their Power Outward: Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) Commissioners Promote Human Rights Provisions in China Conference Bill


In the Battle to Influence Global Baseline Standards it is Necessary for Core Leadership States to Project their Power Outward. In the contemporary world it has at last dawned on the core leadership of the liberal democratic camp that their once undisturbed dominance of the discourse and management of the core principles of human rights, sustainability, and the ordering of globalization has now been challenged in increasingly effective ways by China.  The Chinese have been developing both a comprehensive conceptualization of Socialist globalization but also of its human rights, sustainability and climate change elements.  

The United States has started to respond.  One aspect of that response is to project regulatory power along the administrative chain of command for global production. At the same time, the United States has developed projects of rewards and punishments along those lines of production. It is to the further development of these approaches that the CECC has sought to encourage. Recently CECC has begun to participate more vigorously in legislative efforts to meet this perceived challenge.  This from their Press Release:

(Washington)—Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Representative James P. McGovern (D-MA), the Chair and Cochair respectively of the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC),today released a letter to House and Senate leadership urging Members of Congress reconciling the Senate-passed U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) and the House-passed America COMPETES Act to “include robust provisions on human rights principles, which is necessary to help us compete against the rising tide of authoritarianism globally.”


The letter cites a number of recommendations made by the CECC to address the People’s Republic of China’s efforts to undermine international human rights standards and redefine the global world order. These recommendations reflect legislation and policy proposals promoted in recent years by Senator Merkley, Representative McGovern, and other members of the CECC on a bipartisan and bicameral basis.


Key pieces of legislation introduced by the Chairs and members of the CECC in recent years include the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (Pub. L. 117–78); the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act (Pub. L. 116–76), the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act (Pub. L. 116–145), a bill to prohibit the commercial export of munitions to the Hong Kong Police Force (Pub. L. 116-77), and the Tibet Policy and Support Act (Pub. L. 116-260, Sec. 341).  


The full text of the letter is attached and below.

The Congressional-Executive Commission on China was created by the U.S. Congress in 2000 "with the legislative mandate to monitor human rights and the development of the rule of law in China, and to submit an annual report to the President and the Congress. The Commission consists of nine Senators, nine Members of the House of Representatives, and five senior Administration officials appointed by the President." (CECC About). The CECC FAQs provide useful information about the CECC. See CECC Frequently Asked Questions. They have developed positions on a number of issues.

CECC tends to serve as an excellent barometer of the thinking of political and academic elites in the United States about issues touching on China and the official American line developed in connection with those issues. As such it is an important source of information about the way official and academic sectors think about China. As one can imagine many of the positions of the CECC are critical of current Chinese policies and institutions (for some analysis see CECC).

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Texts of President Biden's Remarks on his Visit to Poland 26 March 2022: The Discourse of War on the Periphery of Empires and the Sacral Constitution of Imperial Collectives


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 "What miserable drones and traitors have I nurtured and promoted in my household who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric!" (Frank Barlow, Thomas Becket (University of California Press, 1990) at 235 (quoting Henry II harangue to his household staff about Thomas a Beckett and quoted from Edward Grim's Life of St. Thomas, who was present at Becket's murder).

"For God's sake, this man cannot remain in power" (Joseph Biden, Remarks Warsaw Poland 16 March 2022). . . . ["The White House later tried to clarify the statement, made in a speech in Poland, saying that the president was not calling for regime change, but meant that Vladimir Putin 'cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors.'”(NYT Ukraine Live Updates 26 March 2022)]

US President Biden delivered two spirited sets of remarks of note in his recent visit to Poland. That was as close as he was permitted to come to the front lines of a conflict among empires now being fought in Ukraine, and thus on the peripheries of empires beyond the heartland of the Chinese-Russian and liberal democratic empires.   But it was close enough to make his points.  The first was that within the imperial heartland there would be a direct and vigorous American defense--the borders of which were contained within NATO.  The second was an indictment of the people and apparatus of state of Russia and the fortification of the ideological barriers, the border, that separates the liberal democratic from the Russian spheres. These, then, acquire a sacred dimension. In both cases the emphasis was on that divide that the borderlands of NATO now make physical: within the NATO heartland there would be an impulse to common defense; beyond that heartland, there would be great good wishes, discursive solidarity, and aid just shy of any threshold that might produce direct confrontation between empires. 

And here at last we have clarity, one missing for weeks--around the roots of the American response to the Ukraine invasion. The Americans have found  their ideological footing by time traveling back to 1968. Mr. Biden and his core of leadership adhere, it appears, to the old rules of U.S.-Soviet engagement.  And ironically, that gives Mr. Putin something like what he has craved--but with a discursive slap: the recognition of the status of Russia as Soviet, but now as a "little Soviet" empire-state. Both provided a full throated discursive pyrotechnics  of inclusion and exclusion in international law, and both drew the new borders of imperial primary spheres--leaving Ukraine in that ambiguous space that invited Russia to take it--if it could, and as long as it was willing to pay the price. It seems Mr. Putin, for as long as he remains, is still willing. It should be noted that the reference to empire here to to post-global empire, not to the obsolete forms of empire that passed effectively after 1945.Its is easy to dismiss empire when one references a form that is no longer either legitimated or effectively practiced and the analysis of which is principally historical. To project these old forms on the character of empires or imperial regions emerging on the collapse of globalization misses the great change in the forms and functions of empire (for discussion, see CPE EmpireSeries).

In the first--Joseph Biden, Remarks by President Biden and President Andrzej Duda of Poland Before Expanded Bilateral Meeting (26 March 2022))--Mr. Biden delivered together with brief remarks by the President of Poland. It was meant to reassure states on the edges of the heartland, that the territories of empire have been drawn to include them within it. It was an exercise both in line drawing and in the reconstruction of the alliance as something sacral and bound up in ideological solidarity based on the granting of entry into the EU-NATO bloc.  "I’ll end where I began, and that is: We take as a sacred obligation Article 5 — a sacred obligation, Article 5. And you can count on that. And not just — I’ll end where I began: for your freedom is ours. " (Remarks by President Biden and President Andrzej Duda of Poland Before Expanded Bilateral Meeting). These at not new pledges, but their emphasis here was meant to count for something.  Nonetheless, that "counting" and that "something" remains to be accounted.

There was a bit of awkward irony here.  The speech started with the recollection that a quarter century earlier the same Mr. Biden who now has drawn a line  around NATO that keep Ukraine out in deference to Russia was at the forefront of those who urged that the line around NATO be drawn to bring into it much of the old Warsaw Pact states irrespective of Russia's hurt feelings and long term planning for revenge.

Twenty-five years ago, when I spoke at a university here in Warsaw, after having led the effort for Poland to join NATO, I used the phrase — and my Ambassador reminded me of this — I said — started off by saying, “For your freedom and for ours.” “For your freedom and for ours.” I meant it then, and I mean it now. (Ibid.)

The Russo-Ukraine War again highlights American map drawing in the 21stcentury ("I’m confident, agree with me — is that America’s ability to meet its role in other parts of the world rests upon a united Europe and a secure Europe.").  The Polish President was carefully respectful--whether bears or eagles and whether fully fit or decrepit for the moment, it is never prudent to poke a superior force. But it is also one that remains wary of the way that borders in this part of the world can move and move fast.  

But let me also stress, Mr. President: We are a serious partner. We are a credible ally. We do everything we can in order to live up to the task of defending our country ourselves. That is why we adopted a new bill, the Act on Defense of the Republic of Poland, and that is why as early as next year we will start to allocate 3 percent of our GDP on defense. That is why I want to, and we want to, increase those spendings also in the years to come.

So the Polish President signaled, not merely compliance with the desires of the eagle, and indispensable and fully invested partner--but also to position itself so that should the eagle decide again to redraw the map of Europe to exclude Poland, that Poland might be better able to defend itself. That is "because we know what Russian imperialism stands for, and we know what it means to be attacked by Russian armed forces, because our grandfathers and great-grandfathers experienced that. . . We stand with the United States. And along with the United States, we want to pursue this policy. And we very much hope for decisive and strong leadership of the United States across the entire NATO." (Ibid., but see also here for commentary).

But far more interesting, and meant to be so, was the second set of remarks--Mr. Biden's Speech delivered at Warsaw Castle delivered on the evening of 26 March 2022. It was an odd speech--if only measured by the distance between its discourse and the actions of the United States and its allies in Europe. Its lofty rhetoric and conveyances of solidarity were inversely proportional to the realities of the aid that the US has been willing to supply or to permit its allies to supply--directly (of course covert and indirect (private) aid remains very much in the picture but off the discursive table). Mr. Biden tells the world:

A dictator bent on rebuilding an empire will never erase a people's love for liberty. Brutality will never grind down their will to be free. Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia, for free people refuse to live in a world of hopelessness and darkness. . . For God's sake, this man cannot remain in power. (Mr. Biden's Speech delivered at Warsaw Castle )

Pix Credit HERE
Yet at the same time he invites the Ukrainians to bear the brunt of that brutality and projects the hope into the ether of global discourse. Aid will be made available--and sanctions imposed--neither designed to stop but to add to Russia's price tag for its territorial ambitions and its ethno-racist rhetoric on which those incursions are grounded. And as for the expectation that a civilized state, even one with imperial ambitions, will not long tolerate such a leader--well history has proven Mr. Biden wrong often, and it is nt clear who would come next.  Certainly many believe that Mr. Putin has bet his life on a positive outcome.  And he may eventually go. Yet the system will remain in place and his replacement may prove to be even more talented in securing Russian ambitions in spite of the rhetorical projectiles launched against Russia and paying the price (measured by sanctions and its detachment from the liberal democratic world) in full.  

It is in that context that one who hears the opening of the remarks--"Be not afraid." These were the first words that the first public address of the first Polish pope after his election in October of 1978, they were the words who would come to define Pope John Paul II. Words that would change the world" (Mr. Biden's Speech delivered at Warsaw Castle)--might indeed emerge more fearful in the face of the rhetorical density and the operational thinness of what follows. It is unclear whether Mr. Biden meant to draw a parallel between thew powerful religious rhetoric of John Paul II and those of the United States since the start pf 2022, or whether he suggests that rhetoric may be a powerful enough weapon to infuse people with the will to resist and to embrace martyrdom for a greater good that someone else will realize (with thanks and perhaps ceremony).  

It does however tie in with the effort to re characterize the Russo-Ukrainian war in religious terms--and terminology. Mr. Biden in his Remarks by President Biden and President Andrzej Duda of Poland Before Expanded Bilateral Meeting emphasized the sacred nature of NATO's Article 5 obligations.  He failed however, to remind his audience that the NATO magisterium in Brussels might interpret that sacred duty in quite different ways from that hoped for by those whose territory is being overrun. The sacral nature of Poland and its holy war against Soviet Leninism merges with this to deepen the impact not i this world but in that other that serves as a source of ultimate legitimization--certainly as expressed in the cultural discourse of the regional majority religion (Mr. Biden's Speech delivered at Warsaw Castle ). 

But Ukraine remains a spectator sport in the battle for which it is possible to bet (through sanctions and aid).

Fighting to save their nation and their brave resistance is part of a larger fight for essential democratic principles that unite all free people. . . But they have always, they have always been under siege. They have always been embattled. Every generation has had to defeat democracy's moral foes. That's the way of the world, for the world is imperfect, as we know. Where the appetites and ambitions of a few forever seek to dominate the lives and liberty of many (Mr. Biden's Speech delivered at Warsaw Castle).

And thus the message to the Ukrainian people delivered personally by Mr. Biden--"We stand with you. Period!" (Ibid) --acquires a more nuanced meaning in this context. One stands with another, but certainly that does not mean that one intervenes, or serves as surety, or otherwise makes common cause.  Solidarity is a discursive device first, and a structure within which carefully measured action may be tolerated. And here, Mr. Biden draws a connection--a critical one--with the American elite sense of relevant historical parallels.  And that parallel is the way in which the United States chose to avoid interference in the Soviet Union's management of its empire in Europe.

Czechoslovakia 1968 Pix Credit HERE
Today's fighting in Kyiv and Melitopol and Kharkiv are the latest battle in a long struggle. Hungary, 1956. Poland, 1956, and then again, 1981. Czechoslovakia,1968. Soviet tanks crushed democratic uprisings, but the resistance continued until finally in 1989, the Berlin Wall and all the walls of Soviet domination, they fell. They fell! And the people prevailed (Mr. Biden's Speech delivered at Warsaw Castle). 


Here is where one sees revealed the instruction manual of American intervention. One might be inclined as a Pole, Hungarian, Czech, Slovak, or citizen of the Baltic states to cringe here.  At its limit, Mr. Biden, its seems, has embraced the Russian propaganda position that Ukraine "belongs" in some political-cultural way, or better that Russia can legitimately seek to exercise dominion over Ukraine in the way that the Soviets did with Warsaw pact states.  And that while one can aid elements in those states to resist, it may a very very long time before that dominion can be effectively overcome--and then from inside. It may take thirty or so years but. . . From a Ukrainian perspective it appears to suggest that Ukraine, should it win, would then be embraced in the West. But not before except at the margins and with great good wishes for ultimate victory, if not now then at some future.
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To date, the United States has sanctioned 140 Russian oligarchs and their family members, seizing their ill-begotten gains, their yachts, their luxury apartments, their mansions. We've sanctioned more than 400 Russian government officials, including key architects of this war. These officials and oligarchs have reaped enormous benefit from the corruption connected to the Kremlin. And now they have to share in the pain. The private sector has acted as well. Over 400 private multinational companies have pulled out of doing business in Russia. Left Russia completely. From oil companies to McDonald's. As a result of these unprecedented sanctions, the ruble almost is immediately reduced to rubble. The Russian economy -- that's true, by the way, it takes about 200 rubles to equal $1 (Mr. Biden's Speech delivered at Warsaw Castle).

For Ukraine there is aid and moral support, as well as logistical support projected inward to Russia but managed from beyond Russian territory.  For the rest there is an assurance--one that is made before the lawyers are asked to determine when, if ever, it is triggered: "The reason we want to make clear is their movement on Ukraine -- don't even think about moving on one single inch of NATO territory. We have sacred obligation. We have a sacred obligation under Article 5 to defend each and every inch of NATO territory with the full force of our collective power" (Mr. Biden's Speech delivered at Warsaw Castle).

The full text of Mr. Biden's Warsaw Castle Speech (ABC News transcript) and the Remarks by President Biden and President Andrzej Duda of Poland Before Expanded Bilateral Meeting follow below.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Brief Reflections on New Era "Big Theory" 任保平: 百年大党经济思想的理论创新 [Ren Baoping: Theoretical Innovation of the Centennial Party's Economic Thought]


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Over the last year, Chinese writers have sought to capture the essence of the inflection point that the 100th Anniversary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) meant to be. Much of the official material is well known in the West even if  not well understood on its own terms.  As interesting are the many many efforts to popularize the normative frameworks being developed at the CPC core of leadership for better consumption by the masses--from highly sophisticated  elements of society to the old core of mass authority--the workers and peasants. 

An interesting and perhaps useful example of this form is a very short essay published at the end of June 2021 by the Social Sciences in China Press: 任保平: 百年大党经济思想的理论创新 [Ren Baoping: Theoretical Innovation of the Centennial Party's Economic Thought]. The essay abstract provides a good summary:

党的经济思想是在综合运用马克思主义政治经济学原理指导中国实践的过程中形成的,同时也是系统总结中国实践经验而产生的理论创新。中国共产党在百年的历史进程中,形成了丰富的经济思想。总结百年大党在不同时代背景下一系列经济发展战略和经济建设实践中形成的经济思想的理论创新,对于推动新时代中国现代化建设具有重要的实践意义,对于加快构建新时代中国特色社会主义政治经济学也具有重要的理论价值。[The party's economic thought was formed in the process of comprehensively applying the principles of Marxist political economy to guide China's practice, and it was also a theoretical innovation produced by systematically summarizing China's practical experience. The Communist Party of China has formed a wealth of economic ideas in the course of its century-old history. Summarizing the theoretical innovation of economic ideas formed by a series of economic development strategies and economic construction practices of the century-old party in different eras has important practical significance for promoting China's modernization in the new era, and for accelerating the construction of socialist politics with Chinese characteristics in the new era. Economics also has important theoretical value.]

Though the object is the evolution of economic thought to its current state, the essence is Marxist in the sense that liberal democratic  premises that separate the political and the economic into two distinct realms (public/private; production of goods/production of norms, etc.) plays little role in the analysis.  That is largely because at the heart of the political economic model of Chinese Marxist-Leninism is the Party, the nexus point of all collective life.  That unification is incomprehensible in liberal democratic societal organization that starts from the premise that autonomous indication actions are at the core of its system of consent based autonomous action the aggregated behaviors of which are to be overseen by political and economic organs operating under the rules of the political community. 

The difference is apparent, and quite useful so, in the formulation of the four key points of New Era: (1) First, adhere to the theoretical basis of the guiding position of Marxism (第一,坚持马克思主义指导地位的理论基础。); (2) Second, adhere to the political foundation of the party's leadership over economic work. (第二,坚持党对经济工作领导的政治基础。); (3) Third, adhere to the mass foundation of the people-centered development ideology. (第三,坚持以人民为中心的发展思想的群众基础。);and (4) Fourth, adhere to the practical foundation of taking the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics. (第四,坚持走中国特色社会主义道路的实践基础。) .This ideological core pre-dates the New Era to be sure, but it has been govern a new focus in the current historical era (eg marked officially by the change in the principal contradiction). So. . . .one starts (as always with the principles of Marxism as the normative foundation. That normative foundation is protected, elaborated and applied by the vanguard forces of society. Both the normative guidance of Marxism and the leadership of the vanguard develop, the primary referent of which is the popular collective; the abstraction of the normative and its institutionalization through the CPC evolves in a historically contingent and self reflexive way. Lastly,this evolution takes place within the imaginaries of socialism with Chinese characteristics.  That brings one back to the disciplinary objective of Marxism as a guiding force.

The circle is completed and the cycle starts again. . . . if it works (theory exists in perfect space), and absent abuse (and in ideological terms--corruption, error, bureaucratism and the like). These core principles, in turn, are authoritative only when understood in the content of their temporality. While core premises move quite slowly, their policy expression as well as their operationalization can exist only so long as the historical context that makes them relevant exists ("Any economic thought is the product of a certain era"--"任何经济思想都是一定时代背景下的产物").

What follows then are the expression of the economic theory of Chinese Marxist Leninism in and for the New Era and subject to modification as the current contradiction is met and eventually overcome. This is offered in two forms. The first is innovation (First, innovate a new paradigm of Chinese Marxist political economy and build a socialist political economy with Chinese characteristics. 第一,创新中国化马克思主义政治经济学新范式,构建中国特色社会主义政治经济学。)And the second touches on the socialization of the principle of democratic centralism with the CPC at the center (Second, adhere to the political foundation of the party's leadership over economic work. 第二,把握中国大国经济发展的客观规律,构建中国特色社会主义政治经济学。). This last part, of course,disappoints a little.  Not that it is not correct.  Quite the opposite, but because it is too narrowly correct. To some extent both merely rephrase the theoretical foundation, adding only that things are actually happening and that all one needs to know is that one ought to trust the CPC.  True enough. But here, if the third prong of the economic theory is as important as the rest, here then a clearer elaboration of the policies actually developed by the trustworthy CPC might have been in order. No state secrets here.  Most are well known--even if they may change with greater frequency than historically contingent "Big theory. " That is a pity and a lost opportunity to bring New Era theory down from its important though important abstractions to the level of much more concrete popular consumption.  That is the necessarily missing link in all of this construction--the development of more robust systems of mass line dual direction communication in aid of the political-economic engine so well described in this essay. 

The full essay follows in both the original Chinese and in a crude English translation. 



Thursday, March 24, 2022

Video Recording of Expert Panel on "The Ukraine-Russia Conflict's Impact on International Business"--23 March 2022 Sponsored by the Penn State Smeal College of Business Center for Global Business Studies


Penn State University's Smeal College of Business's Center for Global Business Studies sponsored a panel discussion on Wednesday, March 23 from 3:00-4:30 pm.

Donna Bahry
, professor emerita in political science, provided insights from her expertise on Russia from a geo-political and historical perspective, and placing the conflict in a larger context of politics, culture,ideology and internal politics. 

Smeal's Svetla Vitanova, assistant teaching professor in finance, focused on how sanctions affect the Russian currency and central bank, with a focus on the short and long term impacts of policy choices and the role of oil and natural gas in the calculus.  

Dan Cahoy, professor, Dean's Faculty Fellow in Business Law, and Research Director of Center for the Business of Sustainability, discussed key international legal issues raised by economic sanctions focusing on the development and effects of sanctions regimes from a legal as well as from a perspective on business impacts. 

Larry Cata Backer, professor of law and international affairs and W. Richard and Mary Eshelman Faculty Scholar, focused on the business and human rights aspects of business response with an emphasis on  virtue signalling strategies (business risk); defensive measures built around complicity, sanctions and legal and business risk, and active measures framed around autonomous interventions in the conflict. 

A recording of the panel discussion can be found here: Ukraine-Russia Conflict's Impact on International Business. An extended summary of my presentation also follows below.


Litigating Cuba: Havana Docks Corp. v. Carnival Corporation et al. and the LIBERTAD Act 21 March 2022 Decisionon Cross Motionsfor Summary Judgment Mostly Against the Defendants



(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2017 (Havana Harbor from Regla, Cuba))

 In an earlier post (Litigating Cuba: Havana Docks Corp. v. Carnival Corporation and the LIBERTAD Act) I began following the litigation that erupted in the last years of the Trump Administration when the U.S. Department of State announced that the federal government “will no longer suspend Title III.” (U.S. Department of State, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo’s Remarks to the Press (Apr. 17, 2019), effective May 2, 2019.  Title III of the LIBERTAD Act, “created a private right of action against any person who ‘traffics’ in confiscated Cuban property.” Garcia-Bengochea v. Carnival Corp., 407 F. Supp. 3d 1281, 1284 (S.D. Fla. 2019) (citing 22 U.S.C. §6082(a)(1)(A); 22 U.S.C. §6023(13)(A)). 

Among the suits filed was Havana Docks Corp. v. Carnival Corporation (USDC S Dist Fla; Case No. 19-cv-21724-BLOOM/McAliley) with related cases asserted against a number of other cruise companies (MSC Cruises et al. Case 19-cv-23588; Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., Case19-cv-23590; and Norwegian Cruise Lines, Case129-cv-23591).  As one can imagine, lawyers for both sides have been aggressive in the service of their clients--lots more than money is at issue here. The current phase of the litigation began in September 2020, when the Defendant's pre-discovery motion to end the litigation  was denied (Havana Docks Corp v. Carnival Corp., Omnibus Order 14 September 2020). 

Since then the parties have refined their arguments that produced ten (10) pending summary judgment motions filed in the four cases along with a number of motions for exclusion of expert opinions (and objections to the magistrate's report regarding those exclusion motions). The Court conducted a hearing on each summary judgment motion over the course of two (2) days (Havana Docks Corporation v. Carnival Corporation, No. 19-cv-21724, ECF Nos. [442], [449]). and then the decision:
In a consequential ruling Monday night, a Miami federal judge said four major cruise lines with South Florida ties — Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and MSC Cruises — engaged in “prohibited tourism” and “trafficking activities” by carrying passengers to Cuba and profiting from the use of Havana port facilities confiscated by the Fidel Castro-led government, the first decision of its kind that could affect similar lawsuits. “By using the Terminal and one of its piers in various ways, Carnival, MSC SA, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian committed trafficking acts,” U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom concluded. (‘Prohibited tourism’: Miami judge deals major blow to cruise companies that traveled to Cuba).

The case, Havana Docks v. Carnival Corp. et al, Case 1:19-cv-21724-BB generated a 169 page decision and omnibus order by Judge Bloom (21 March 2022). Though it is likely that there will be appeals, and the numerous decisions made in the course of the order may be re-examined, the opinion itself is an important  and sometimes powerful exposition not merely of the law (the interpretation of which is now being (re)shaped) but also of the context in which that interpretation is undertaken,  In the process the order provides an important glimpse into the way in which the judiciary's good faith efforts to apply law within ideological constraints. 

Among the most important considerations in this respect is the way in which the Courts approach the interpretation of the statutory measures.  Here that interpretation is impossible in the absence of a determination of the character of the underlying objectives and legislative determinations that in the aggregate reflect the legalization of a political position which is then to be undertaken through the courts and around the management of the legal consequences of economic activity over a very long arc of time. This is not to say that the approach is either "right" or "wrong"--clear that determination is a function of the ideological foundation from within which it is possible to develop a legalized superstructure and then to project that superstructure onto the management of economic activities to be undertaken and sorted through private dispute resolution of public policy objectives.

The Decision maybe accessed HERE.  It is part of the Coalition for Peace & Ethics Litigating Cuba Project.  The Decision table of Contents follows.

Monday, March 21, 2022

A Principle of Solidarity for States Navigating the Peripheries of Empires--Full Text: Ukraine President Zelensky’s speech to Israeli Knesset 20 March 2022


Pix Credit HERE


I am sure that every word of my address echoes with pain in your hearts. Because you feel what I'm talking about. But can you explain why we still turn to the whole world, to many countries for help? We ask you for help... Even for basic visas... What is it? Indifference? Premeditation? Or mediation without choosing a party? I will leave you a choice of answer to this question. And I will note only one thing - indifference kills. Premeditation is often erroneous. And mediation can be between states, not between good and evil. . . . One can keep asking why we can't get weapons from you. Or why Israel has not imposed strong sanctions against Russia. Why it doesn’t put pressure on Russian business. But it is up to you, dear brothers and sisters, to choose the answer. And you will have to live with this answer, people of Israel. (Speech by President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the Knesset)

I have been noting the way that President Zelenskyy has been exposing both the structures of emerging post-global empire, but also framing the character of its inter-relationships and responsibility  from the imperial heartland, through its farthest peripheries (¿Pearls Before Swine?--Text of Address by President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the Bundestag; Text of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's address to Congress 16 March 2022 and to the Canadian Parliament 15 March 2022; ). 

In a few speeches he has managed to succinctly expose what many of us have been suggesting for years is being constructed behind the multiple veils of discourse that have both looked backwards with nostalgia to a converging world order now fast disappearing, and forward to chimeras of ideological fantasies that reflect external projections of internal ideological psychosis of markets fundamentalism applied to the state system itself (Text of "Remarks by President Biden on the Assistance the United States is Providing to Ukraine"; In the Marketplace for Sovereignty, it is Important to Price Well: Tracking Sanctions Against Russia; On the Emerging Shape of the Allied Response to the Russian Invasion--'Trading Ukraine for the Rest of Europe': The View Now Being Shaped Through the Semi-Official Press?;The Stories One Tells Incarnated in Rituals of Blood Sacrifice: Alexander Dugin as Storyteller to Russia and China in the New Era;Götzen-Dämmerung (The Twilight of the Idols): Secretary-General's remarks to the General Assembly on Ukraine (23 February 2022)). 

That change is visible within the apex organs of the contemporary state system ((Text of A/ES-11/L.1; UN General Assembly Resolution -- "Aggression against Ukraine"; UKRAINE v. RUSSIAN FEDERATION--Text of Interational Court of Justice Decision (16 March 2022) Including the Separate Declarations of Judges Gevorgian (Russia) and Hue (China)). In the process a more complex world order emerges beyond the post-global state system itself (The Russian Invasion of Ukraine and Business: Responsibility, Complicity and the Responsibility to Respect Human Rights Under the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights). That transformation not not mere affected the nature of the legal, political,and markets relationships between states and non-state actors.  It has also fundamentally reformed the interaction of institutionally organized political and economic sectors that is changing the meaning of the trans "national" beyond its traditional state-centered focus (Global War, Non-State Collectives, and the De-Centering of States--Interesting Hints of Lessons From the Russo-Ukraine War). 

Pix Credit: Guardian
President Zeleskyy continues to refine his exposition of the emerging system, and the nature of its moral-political-economic responsibilities. In his 20 March 2022 remarks to the Israeli Knesset he addressed the "in-between" states.  These are those states (Israel, India among others) whose own histories ought to make them sensitive to the current crisis and the dangers of impunity. And yet these are the very states whose own positions as powerful centers of second or third order sub-systems existing in the peripheries of post-global imperial centers permit them to operate among and between competing imperial heartlands. These are states with a primary alliance to one global center (the US, or China, are the primary centers; the EU and Russia lower order centers) but whose interests are held hostage to one or more of the others. For these states it is dangerous to cross the heartland state to which they owe primary allegiance; at the same time it is dangerous to cross others with whom they have relations or otherwise interact.  Israel (and India) are states that are classic examples.  In thew case of Israel, the primary allegiance is to the liberal democratic  camp under the leadership of the United States; but context and history require cooperation with Russia and China. Those conflicting relations are put to the test when a sibling state, in this case Ukraine, calls on them for assistance. "It has received thousands of refugees from Ukraine and sent humanitarian aid like medical equipment to the former Soviet republic, while Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett became the first foreign leader to meet with Vladimir Putin since the war began during a visit to Moscow on Saturday." (US official warns Israel not to be 'last haven for dirty money' funding Russian invasion of Ukraine). The balancing is what is at issue in terms of sibling state responsibility against the aggresison of a superior state power; that is a balancing that apex states might indulge but not similarñy situated sibling  for which a principle of solidarity might require a different calculus.  (Israel has condemned the Russian invasion and sent unprecedented levels of humanitarian aid to Ukraine, but has so far resisted Kyiv’s call to provide weapons (Zelenskyy asks to make speech in Israel)).  In this respect the responsibility differs from that of sibling states like Canada, but more India, and Iran, and perhaps Saudi Arabia, Brazil and South Africa. 

That was very much the insight in the cross hairs of President Zelenskyy's address to the Israeli Knesset. Here he argued for the development of a greater solidarity among states with similar histories of ethno-religious violence; states whose legitimacy was subject to challenge by larger political-religious collectives, have a strong responsibility to solidarity. And solidarity requires  aid of a higher order than that expected between sibling states. President Zelenskyy  focused on the "right to exist"--Mr. Putin suggesting that Ukraine is a figment of the imagination of those who would pretend its independence apart from Russia, and various transnational elements and authorities making the same claim for the people who it is now claimed have sought to create a fake state on the territory they would assign exclusively to others. In the process, Mr. Zelenskyy suggests the irrelevance of ethnos as the principal basis for national identity, something that global elites insist for the imperial heartlands and its near peripheries, but which they resist for  those lower order dependencies for which ethnos, religious unity and other ancient unifying characteristics are viewed as essential to national formation. 

This is the sort of speech that is meant to make middle tier states at the crossroads of empire rethink both their loyalties and the strength of the duty to solidarity for similarly situated states against the depredations of post global empire. The tentative response: "Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, whose late father was a Holocaust survivor, thanked Zelenskyy for the speech. “We will continue to assist the Ukrainian people as much as we can and we will never turn our backs to the plight of people who know the horrors of war,” Lapid said." (Zelenskyy calls on Israel for stronger opposition to Russia, compares invasion to Holocaust). And it is important to recall that the de jure positions of states (like other non-state actors) may be quite different from de facto actions.  Secret aid, including military aid, while taking a formally neutral position or a position of silence in official circles is an ancient tactic.  But it is ultimately unsatisfying because it does little to advance the formal legitimacy of the claims of the state or other entity to which aid is secreted.

This appears to be very much on the mind of Mr. Zelenskyy and the advisors responsible for these series of speeches. They have managed these speeches as a multi-effort semiotic project--that is to a process to recognize and give a rationalized and collective meaning to the current situation and in the process of this collective meaning making to (re)construct the authenticating normative principles (extracted from the meaning of peoples, territories, and relationships) whose signification then produces a very specific set of expectations and consequences. Mr. Zelenskyy is no longer seeking de facto aid--he is seeking to remake the orthodoxy of meaning, the formal conception of the global order that he sees all around him but that has yet to be "spoken." The Russians, in effect, has sought to remake the world by changing facts on the ground.  Mr. Zelenskyy has accepted the challenge by seeking to remake the meaning-verse within which Russian action can be interpreted and the set of authoritative and legitimating responses managed. We move here from the world of de facto action (of discrete aid to Ukraine while remaining formally neutral) to one of de jure expectation--to mandatory action grounded in the recognition of Ukraine's rightful entitlement or claim, that is to claims by right. And for Israeli audiences, certainly, like those perhaps in India, South Africa, Brazil, and Iran, this may have some resonance. Every bomb the Russians explode is another brick in the building of this new normative cage of meaning within which the Russian leadership will eventually be caged.

The text of the Speech follows and may be accessed HERE and HERE.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Global War, Non-State Collectives, and the De-Centering of States--Interesting Hints of Lessons From the Russo-Ukraine War



For years I have been writing and speaking, to no one in particular, about the way that the post 1945 structures of globalization bore fruit after 2000 in a number of interesting ways.  

Pix Credit here
The first was the governmentalization of the private sector as a principal means of dealing with two core problems of global production.  One was the problem of coverage (governance gaps) and the other was on uniformity (compliance, accountability as values embedding techniques). This impulse toward governmentalization has only accelerated after 2010 and is profoundly changing the nature and operation of states as well as non state actors. Governmentalization has produced great incentives to move to data driven governance measures. At the same time it has universalized the cultures of public administrative organs throughout the organization of human collectives. This has both created greater autonomy and regulatory authority in such non state actors while tying them  to public bodies as regulatory auditors. 

The second was the privatization of the state--that is of the willingness of the state to project authority in and through private markets and market activity.  That could be broken down into several components of interest here. One of the consequences of privatization was a tendency toward disaggregation of the state.  Unity of the state organs and the coherence of its operations was never easy; it is harder where the state serves both as regulator and as an element of what is regulated.  It becomes harder still when state private authority is projected outward and is subject to regulation by other states. The other was the ability of states to project power outward through private activity in ways that would have not been possible were the state acting in its regulatory-political role. Markets inevitably became a political space even as international organs more and more loudly proclaimed (through soft law norm making) the opposite. 

Pix Credit HERE
The third was the legalization and judicialization of both public and private spaces. Critical here is a consequence--the possibility of decoupling both law and dispute resolution from the state and state organs. Non state actors could create powerful private law systems (sometimes coupled with public law(s)) as well as dispute resolution mechanisms (entre nous mechanisms)sometimes authenticated with a public fig leaf. In those spaces between and beyond states, non-state actors might then be better equipped to animate themselves (within or beyond orthodox legalities) as autonomous governmentalized organs with deep but at critical points auto0nomous relations to the states against which they brushed or into whose territories they might project their own activities. Financing also became more detached, not just in the form of banks and crowd sources debt sales, but in terms of cryptocurrencies, and most important, by the rise of a great global banking system for non-state non-economic actors in the form of foundations  who projected their own normative agendas through their curation of funded objects.

Pix Fritz Lange Metropolis
Fundamentally, however, each of these, and all of them have effectively de-centered the state in the way that sustainability and climate change has de-centered the human from human rights.  In both cases, what had been at the heart of an ancient system--territory for states and individuals for rights, has now been subsumed within quite distinct emerging "territories.  For human rights these new territories are marked by environment, bio-diversity,and interactive ecologies. For the state system those territories are marked by identity ethnos, by production chains, by the return of religion in its manifestation as a self-reflexive institutional organism, by the multinational enterprise, and by objectives based collectives that either seek to protect their members or (in the style of 20thcentury Leninism) to lead like minded collections of individuals toward some transformative goal or other. 

Nonetheless, people find these layered abstractions exhausting (in the language of people whose tentacles I have been made to feel). However well they suggest the profound transformations of theory and however well they manage to suggest the comprehensiveness of the factors in that transformation, the human mind attaches  value to the reductionism and essentialism of example; conception is impossible without  giving it concrete form. Intellectual exhaustion is a barrier; it becomes a vice to be avoided where it displaces broader abstraction entirely in favor of the simpler pleasures all to much at the ready for intellectuals and policymakers desperate for the simplifying  virtues of simplicity within which they might construct the holograms that serve as their own versions of reality.  This impulse is hardened especially where reality slaps people in the face- - - - over and over again.

Sometimes war helps clarify things in an unavoidable way--a hard slap to be sure.; but these are cheeks quite in need  of the sharp embrace of an open palm. 

Our global leaders--academic, political, economic, media, social, and perhaps even religious--have been working hard to paint the traditional picture of war as the great (and because it is an activity and expression of apex power and undertaken in a specific way) performance of state power in the form of rationalized violence--the unleashing of a power that is the essence of the energy bounded up in territory and at the disposal of some sort of unifying (and authentic) leadership. One speaks here, of course, of the conflict between this territorial singularity (Ukraine) and the morally darker version (under virtually all contemporary political ideologies) of that other territorial singularity (Russia).  Two objects hurling all manner of the tools of violence at their disposal along with the deployment of whatever other tools of modern warfare to which they might acquire access. The state system then worries (to the extent an abstraction is capable of worry). It worries about expanding the war beyond these singularities, even as many states (on all sides of this war) maneuver to intervene without appearing to intervene. So far all well worn and ancient theater. The object is to avoid "world war" while the "world" "wars" (here infamously by the Biden Administration's mantra of seeking to avoid direct confrontation with a nuclear power--they mean Russia but do they also mean Iran? too early to tell).  

And yet. . . . And yet.

Pix Credit here

The world is at war.  And the scope of a world at war may no longer be measured by the number of states involved.

It is quite plain to those who see without the aid of the ideological and political spectacles that make the sort of antiquarian leadership (perhaps better said a quite dusty leadership, dusty in a way that studied neglect leaves its tell tale signs all over the surfaces of neglected house) of states plausible. But in a world in which the state is de-centered--that world includes quite powerful global non-state actors.  Where non-state collectives are now exercising governance power it is only logical that within the scope of their collective authority, and within the functionally differentiated territories over which they may exercise both authority and power, that these actors might also decide to intervene in the war the epicenter of the violence of which is now (for the moment) centered on the territory of the Republic of Ukraine. . . . for the moment.

Let me make this simple by reference to just a few recent reports that inadvertently reveal the extent of this global conflict that suggests that while the state remains at the center of violence, non-state actors are nor emerging as critical parties to conflict to protect or further their own interests, values, and to protect their own collectives. Indeed, one can go one step farther--in post-global warfare, states are dependent on the election of these non-state actors to participate int he way that states once sought alliances among their own kind int he last century. Multinational enterprises, NGOs, anarchic collectives, the global institutions of religion, and others, are now as important as states in conflict.  And indeed, the Russo-Ukrainian war suggests that states may in the future the relationship between states and these actors may flip, or even more likely, that states (beyond the apex states and their top dependencies in the post-global order) may no longer be useful in warfare except as tools of the most powerful non-state actors and in the service of their needs and goals. 

The new critical actors:

1. Crowdsourced Collectives. Several generations of identity and ideology-moral politics beyond the discredited organizational frameworks so favored through the 20thcentury (race, ethnicity, religion,and the like those these remain portent though more discredited organizational frames) has created a fertile ground for the constitution of popular collectives.  These may be made more or less permanent by he use of institutional frameworks.  But increasingly important are crowdsourced collectives, bound by passion built around deeply held identities, may be utilized for single (or limited) purpose and short term operations.  And they may be crowdsourced. . . by anyone--states, non-state organizations, trans-national enterprises and the like.  These are not just the mob that can be used as an instrument to serve others.  These are collectives that exist in latent forms which assume form when appropriately triggered. 

Tech has made these latent pop-ups much more potent, especially when they take the form of Global Hacker Collectives. Consider the pop-up  “IT Army of Ukraine” (‘It’s the right thing to do’: the 300,000 volunteer hackers coming together to fight Russia). 

Like many of his peers, Kali was directed to the Telegram group, which has Ukrainian- and English-language versions, by Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s vice prime minister and minister for digital transformation. Fedorov, 31, has been using his vastly expanded Twitter profile to plead with executives at the world’s biggest tech firms to cut ties with Russia. On 26 February, he posted a link to the Telegram group, which was set up by his ministerial department. “We need digital talents,” he said. “There will be tasks for everyone.” (ibid).

What can almost instantly be set up through the direction of a state, can also be set up by others.  The state was not necessary as state--rather it serves here as the cause, the catalyst.  But such catalysts do not require the state, just a cause--moral, ethical, social, economic etc. ("“I wanted to help and use my attacking skills to help Ukraine,” he says via Telegram. “I’m from Switzerland, but I’m a strong hacker and I’m so sorry for every Ukrainian." Ibid (quoting "Kali" an ironically delightful handle in this case). One can as easily crowd source a private army--or buy it. Here the exogenous nature of these collectives that exist both within and outside of more institutionalized collectives transform the old form of the mob into ideologically distinct organismus--alive though usually existing in a latent state. They belong to no one but themselves, but may be triggered when that which is important to them comes into play.

2. Institutionalized tech collectives with their own agendas. There are many, but few have become as influential as Anonymous. 

Anonymous has claimed that it successfully infiltrated Russian state TV to show citizens the devastation of Putin's invasion of Ukraine. It also leaked emails and files from government agency Roskomnadzor, responsible for censoring Russian media. Anonymous has since gained the support of more than 500,000 followers on its Twitter account, which now boasts more than 7.9 million followers. (Anonymous has unleashed a successful cyber war to undermine Putin’s Ukraine invasion)

As a tech vanguard organismus, Anonymous follows its own agenda, but that agenda can align with those of states form time to time.  They remain autonomous. And they are now powerful enough to make a difference in the counting of the constellation of actors necessary to engage in modern warfare across (many and many types) of border. They are not unique--except to the people producing copy for press organs and in the narrowing construction of the narrative of such organs by states both willing to use them and fearful as well. 

3. Multi (or Trans)-national enterprises. MNEs are no longer instruments of states. They have become, some of them anyway, strong and autonomous enough to see states as instruments of their own agendas--markets, productivity, the protection of their value chains, etc. Alliances with MNEs has become a critical factor in warfare.  States without MNE allies are at a decided disadvantage in the management of their conflicts with other states.  The same, it seems also applies to MNEs--MNEs without sufficient state alliances are at a disadvantage in their wars against other MNEs and non-state actors in the territories within which they operate. One speaks here of two kinds of alliance--one touches on the offense and defensive use of production to feed allies or starve enemies. These are undertaken under cover of public international doctrine (collusion, complicity, etc.) but at the same time they further strategic objectives in a public-private partnership--at least at the level of visibility (and reporting). In this form of alliance the interlinking of entities and states is strong, though strategic and built on the convergence of norms and the governmantalization of entities operating autonomously in the global production spaces between states. This is the global social space of markets and the 2nd Pillar of the corporate responsibility grounded in international (no national) norms ofa public and private (markets driven) basis.

The other kind of alliance is one that reveals the power of the MNE in its own right--and their essential role in warfare.

Pix Credit here
In a move as rogue-ishly provocative as his moonshot, Elon Musk is inserting himself into the drama of international conflict by bolstering Ukraine’s internet connection to the outside world. Last Wednesday, his trucks delivered a second shipment of satellite-based Starlink internet terminals to a battered Ukraine, responding to a plea from the nation’s vice prime minister. His initial shipment arrived on Feb. 28, only four days after Russian forces launched an assault on the nation. His system beams data from space — and so, unlike land-based networks, it is less vulnerable to attack or authoritarian control. Those aspects seem to be angering Russian officials. (How Elon Musk’s satellite internet is coming to Ukraine’s defense).

The supplying of internet connectivity is always red meat for the global press. But it is crucial in other respects as well. Most revolve around logistics. But in critical respects they also center on provision and maintenance--as well as the technologies necessary to add military capacity (DJI Denies Throttling Ukrainian Army Drone Tech Amid Rumors ("DJI has denied accusations that it is limiting the capabilities of drone technology used by the Ukrainian army after rumors spread on social media that the Chinese consumer drone manufacturer was throttling its AeroScope technology.")).

And, indeed, the rules that are likely to be refined respecting corporate complicity will represent an effort by states to limit the discretionary power of MNEs to act within their production chains to further their own interests and to try to ensure their primary character of state instruments--until state interests (again) militate in favor of autonomy.  That is the likely trajectory especially as institutional and systemic character of MNE merge around the territories of functionally differentiated global production.

But not just MNEs.  The great non-state actors have also acquired an element of autonomy that permits them to choose sides and act independently of the choices made by states in whose territories these NGOs might operate.  And because these are, like MNEs, entities with abstracted territories (Fractured Territories and Abstracted Terrains: Human Rights Governance Regimes Within and Beyond the State)  this multi-spatial disaggregation within any specific territory becomes more likely.  States have recognized this power, to some extent by enacting blocking and monitoring legislation.  These are effective to a degree, but cannot entirely protect the state from the inward projection of NGO power in those shared and abstracted territories where monopoly control of space is still impossible.   Again, it is not the actions, but the autonomy and detachment (from states) from which NGO actions are framed that mark the difference between now and a decade ago.


None of this is new.  One sees here the continuing strengthening of trends with long historical lines. What is new, though, is the way that these actors have moved from the peripheries closer to the center.  This is no longer about instrumentalization of sub-national collectives, nor is it about the necessity for (temporary) alliances with institutions that operate suppressed markets (crime syndicates, etc.).  Nor is this little more than the use of tech to better manage the mob (though for example its use by religious officials in some states has been a useful instrument of autonomous religious authority within states--and between them where states are viewed as political sub-units of transnational religious collectives. Tech helps in the process of transformation, to be sure.  

But what has been emerging is a greater clarity in the extent to which these non-state collectives have become "sentient" in the sense that they self consciously act by and for themselves and politically in their own interests.  They may be used by states but they may also use states. They aid because they can, because they choose.  And they can now choose the manner of it as well.  They exist within and between states, and in any case, even the most insular state must interact with them politically, economically, and sometimes violently, in the course of their actions.  

Where once these interactions were strictly segregated and vertically ordered--now they are more vertically arranged.  Not that states welcome this change.  Yet the organization of the state system itself after 1945, and the choices made for the realization of coherence and coordination in economic production and political communication has now made it possible for non-state entities to assert (within their functionally differentiated scope of authority) public power and for states to serve as instruments of transnational movements and objectives. Worlds at war with themselves--especially among subsets of political actors (eg states) --may produce much by way of violence (that has been the great tragedy of the Russo-Ukraine war the perpetrators of which (though not their collectives) may be punished by application of transnationalized legal structures. Yet its fundamental character has also changed.  Collectives--not just states--now go to war.  Collectives, and not just states, may exercise authority with, against, or aligned with those of states. The sovereignty of states, like the power of other collectives may be negotiated away. 

In this new "state of political nature," only antiquarians might find value in the ideologically charged (and judgmental) language of "hybrid" warfare.  What has been hybridized is the state system itself.  All else, including the nature and conduct of violence ("legalized" or not) now follows. One sees a only a glimpse of a possible future here.  Expect many of the other older modes of sub-national disruption to acquire  a life of their own and to join the constellation of actors in international (the national part of which becoming increasingly de-centered except among the small core of leadership among states). They will be the same but different--more self-conscious and more detachable from the geographies in which they operate.