Category: Politics

US Military Power and Financial Liquidity

US Military Power and Financial Liquidity

On the last day of the World Economic Forum in Davos an extract from Scott Timcke’s Capital, State, Empire offers a reminder of the interconnected worlds of the US military and international finance. From a section entitled ‘The Military Response to a ‘Global Power Shift’ this extract emphasises the role of the US navy as guarantor of the dominant incarnation of the ‘international order’. 

The purpose of the US Navy is not to expunge rivals, but to use the prospect of force to consolidate control over economic activity, and the standards and norms that govern that activity. David Graeber’s observations about military force and contemporary international political economy complement this view. He argues that a state can use their military power to control financial liquidity.

‘The essence of U.S. military predominance in the world is, ultimately, the fact that it can, at will, drop bombs, with only a few hours’ notice, at absolutely any point on the surface of the planet. No other government has ever had anything remotely like this sort of capability. In fact, a case could well be made that it is this very power that holds the entire world military system, organized around the dollar, together’. (Graeber 2011, 365)

To elaborate, the US uses their money supply to act as an international reserve currency. Much like how once Britain established the gold standard, the network externalities and path dependency of British imperial rule meant that other states had to consider the benefits of monetary convergence, so too do states have to weigh the incentives of monetary convergence on the US dollar. This technique is particularly effective when there is ‘gunboat’ issuing of US treasury bonds as a form of tribute together with the aggressive deployment of financial instruments and institutions in rolling out and maintaining US hegemony.

Considered from this vantage, what appears as the loss of centralized US control of capital is rather a strategy of indirect extraction that involves demanding that other states pay tribute to the US. Within this order, transnational enterprises are enabled by US policy to further entrench indirect rule. In return, the US, through the Navy and other agencies, provides security to corporations to do business. This is accomplished through either rigging international treaties, capturing international organizations, or lobbying and bullying for favourable business relations in host countries. In short, the US security state seeks to create global governing structures to maintain a rule in which other countries must abide, and in which labour is suppressed, and surpluses are channelled to the US.


Graeber, David. 2011. Debt: The First 5000 Years. New York, NY: Melville House.

Capital, State, Empire: The New American Way of Digital Warfare is published open access, free to read and download by the University of Westminster Press. (July 2017)

Radio and Revolution from WPCC

Radio and Revolution from WPCC

A varied set of articles make up Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture’s latest issue featuring Gretchen King’s survey of the global history of community radio practices and Tiziano Bonini’s analysis of Açık Radyo in Turkey’s Gezi Park protests. Was Twitter or radio more important in the protests, he asks, and how did they reinforce each other’s impact? More contributions are to follow very shortly.

Radio’s role in the liberation movement in Zimbabwe is the subject of Everette Ndlovu’s commentary whereas the motivations of free radio practitioners in Barcelona are hailed in Lola Costa Gálvez’s commentary. She discovers a commitment to the value of non-profit radio as a space for articulating a plethora of views’ supported by music which is shared by an even longer and arguably even more politically charged history of Basque Country community radio analysed in the research article of Jason Diaux, Ion Andoni del Amo and Arkaitz Letamendia of the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU.



Just released from UWP is a new title in the Critical Digital and Social Media Studies series that offers an analysis of the USA’s historical impulse to weaponize communication technologies. Scott Timcke explores the foundations of this impulse and how the militarization of digital society creates structural injustices and social inequalities. He analyses how new digital communication technologies support American paramountcy and conditions for worldwide capital accumulation. Identifying selected features of contemporary American society, Capital, State, Empire undertakes a materialist critique of this digital society and of the New American Way of War. At the same time it demonstrates how the American security state represses activists—such as Black Lives Matter—who resist this emerging security leviathan. The book also critiques the digital positivism behind the algorithmic regulation used to control labour and further diminish prospects for human flourishing for the ‘99%’.



Rejecting both cyberutopian and cyberskeptic approaches UWP’s latest title POLITICIZING DIGITAL SPACE published in the Critical Digital and Social Media series argues that online space is a function of people and how they use it, thus opening up possibilities for politicization while also creating pitfalls. Available to read and download now for free author Trevor Garrison Smith argues that politics in its proper sense can be distinguished from anti-politics by analysing the configuration of public space, subjectivity, participation, and conflict. Interpreting contemporary theories of the political in terms of the internet the author develops theoretical work by Arendt,Rancière,Žižek and Mouffe to present a clear and coherent view of how in theory, politics can be digitized and how the internet can be deployed in the service of truly democratic politics.

Reframing Media and Cultural Studies in the Age of Global Crisis-  new WPCC issue

Reframing Media and Cultural Studies in the Age of Global Crisis- new WPCC issue

Exciting times for WESTMINSTER PAPERS IN COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE as a new audio commentary issue on the topic of Reframing Media and Cultural Studies in the Age of Global Crisis for a new era of is to be published in 2017 as January turns to February.

In the words of Dr Tarik Sabry in the edition’s editorial:

‘In an age of ongoing economic and political crisis, military conflict displacing millions of people and systems of governance and democracy in question, a reassessment of the questions posed by the disciplines of media and cultural studies is called for. Traditional paradigms for conceptualising the media are further challenged by shifts in the media environment resulting from the growth of digital and mobile media. This is a defining moment for the field and a time for reflection and re-evaluation.’

The contributors will be: Paddy Scannell, David Morley, Annabelle Sreberny, David Gauntlett, Paolo Gerbaudo, Anastasia Kavada, Jeremy Gilbert, Colin Sparks, Daya Thussu, Fernando Resende, Jaeoho Kang, Viola Milton, Wenshan Jia, Joanna Zylinska, Christian Fuchs and Kaarle Nordenstreng. Further details are available from WPCC’s home page.



Book launch: Critical Theory of Communication
Fyvie Hall, 309 Regent Street, University of Westminster
Wednesday 12 October 2016, 18.30

University of Westminster Press and Westminster Institute for Advanced Studies are pleased to mark the first book publication from UWP, Critical Theory of Communication, by Professor Christian Fuchs. It is the first book in a new book series entitled Critical Digital and Social Media Studies.

Professor Christian Fuchs will be giving an introduction to his new book that revisits writings of Frankfurt School authors in the age of the Internet. He argues that today we need to transcend Habermas’ communication theory by establishing a dialectical and cultural-materialist critical theory of communication. The approach he takes starts from Georg Lukács’ “Ontology of Social Being” and draws on works by Theodor W. Adorno, Herbert Marcuse and Axel Honneth. It sets these approaches into a dialogue with Raymond Williams’ cultural materialism, outlining why such analysis is so vital for understanding a world dominated by the likes of Facebook, Google, Amazon and other corporate technology multinationals.

Introduction by University of Westminster Provost Professor Graham Megson

Setting up a university press in the digital age Andrew Lockett, Press Manager, University of Westminster Press

Critical Theory of Communication: New Readings of Lukács, Adorno, Marcuse, Honneth and Habermas in the Age of the Internet talk by Professor Christian Fuchs, Director of Westminster Institute for Advanced Studies

Event details and registration
Wednesday 12 October 2016, 18.30
Fyvie Hall, 309 Regent Street
The event is free, but registration is required: register at Eventbrite.

Denise Rose Hansen, Executive Assistant, Institute for Advanced Studies

Professor Christian Fuchs is the Director of the Westminster Institute for Advanced Studies and the Communication and Media Research Institute. He is editor of the journal tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique and a member of the European Sociological Association’s Executive Committee. His fields of work are critical theory of society; critical digital media studies; information, media, communication & society.

Critical Digital and Social Media Studies