Nabudere: Helping Understand Our Condition

A Worldwide Crisis Based on Imperialism

Pambazuka News published an excellent article, “The Global Crisis of Capitalism and Its Impact,” by Professor Dani Nabudere, executive director of the Afrikan Study Centre in the Netherlands. In it, he discusses how the abstraction known as paper money, plus other financial instruments such as derivatives and futures, “have lost any relationship to the ‘fundamentals’ in the material production of the world economy.”

As in virtually every opinion coming out these days on the so-called financial meltdown, Nabudere’s work remains devoid of statistical data to back up his claims. This criticism also must strike at all opinions on the subject that I have developed as well. However, that does not mean such views derive from metaphysics, because ample facts on the history leading to this period have been well documented in newspapers, financial journals, criminal and civil courts, international treaties like NAFTA, and thru the policies of such bourgeois institutions as the Trilateral Commission, IMF/World Bank, and the World Economic Forum.

Structural readjustment based on Africa’s relationship to international finance capitalism, Imperialism, continues to impose social upheaval thru out the Motherland. Former food staples such as maize, soy and sugar are now being grown for biofuel, triggering widespread food crises. Genetically altered crops are unfit for human consumption, and seed crops have become proprietary to stop self-reliance in its tracks. Sanctions against weak states like Zimbabwe severely undermine the population’s ability to eke out a living. This is the essence of social destabilization as a consequence of Imperialism’s globalized economy.

Whatever chaos goes on in Africa likewise gets duplicated in the US black community, altho at a more manageable level for the State. Black folks have lost more homes due to an inflationary rise in adjustable rate mortgages, the banks’ racist answer to the banned redline. Where armies press gang people into mines to pirate raw material at cut rate prices for companies in places like DR Congo, the US provides one million black prisoners as cheap labor for the industrial sector here. Police repression has not only increased since last November’s election, it has become bolder and outlandish, and with not one word of reform mentioned in the legislative corridors of this nation’s city councils, state assemblies, or Congress.

To make the point succinct, most minds are not in major dispute of the facts what has transpired over the last thirty or forty years. Few folks on the left disagree on the major economic and political trends. Nevertheless, all these facts do not make for an ounce of truth. That is, the facts in themselves demand an interpretation which serves the best interests of the masses, and gives them an ability to act decisively. This seems to be where most revolutionary theories diverge.

Nabudere’s article is an important piece inasmuch that it details many stages which brought us to this period. He talks about the collapse of the gold standard and the “over extension of credit”. This analysis of the credit “problem” continues to be seen as a major contributing factor for contradictions in capitalism. Nabudere accurately asserts the following:

…the US is increasingly unable to repay debts it has accumulated in its Treasury Bonds and Bills, in which the rest of the world have placed their reserves. Most African countries have millions of dollars in these US Treasury bills, which are held as the countries’ ‘reserves.’ China, India and Japan have trillions deposited in these ‘T’ bills and bonds This means that should the world economy collapse under pressure of ‘loose money’ wanting to be given a value (which they do not have) so that the holders of that ‘money’ can preserve their wealth, those holdings in US Treasury bills (or US debt to the rest of the world) will be lost forcing many weak economies to collapse along with it.

To credit Nabudere for his clear and lucid explanation I have labored, under my limited expertise, to demonstrate that paper money has essentially no value, that it represents value as objectively as any elected official represents democracy, and that when people get it thru their heads how the abstraction benefits only a handful of private owners and bosses the people will understand precisely how capitalism exploits them.

Still, the credit issue remains one that most people attribute as the primary contradiction, rather than seeing the crisis as a primary feature of capitalism itself. For instance, the US economy experienced economic crises more often than stability in the 1800s, my apologies for not documenting the source. In fact, until Roosevelt no effective management of the economy existed. While Wilson invented the modern business model, the economy as a whole required decades to stabilize. The credit regime does not appear to be the fundamental problem here; rather it seems to be a lack of liquidity due to the rich having concentrated even greater wealth into their hands over the last thirty years.

Mental_floss documents six crises which predates the current global one. The Irish potato famine caused widespread starvation in that country because of monoculture. On hyperinflation, compared with Zimbabwe — a microstate which does not even have an industrial sector — in November 1923 in Germany, one US dollar equaled 4.2 billion marks, and even daily staples had to be purchased with wheelbarrows of cash. On the Great Depression, founder of the Chicago School, Milton Friedman later stated that liquidity had been frozen; in any event, by 1932 the economy contracted by 31%, and 13 people million became jobless, a quarter of the workforce. Before the 70s oil crisis, Mental_floss says that Saudi crude cost $1 per barrel to pump out of the sand, but it rose to $10 per barrel following the Yom Kippur War, due to an Arab League embargo. (Why they haven’t embargoed following the recent Israeli strikes on Gaza is an enigma.) Then, in the curious case of the Asian flu, the collapse of the Southeast Asian “tiger” economies of Thailand, The Philippines, Malaysia and South Korea was due in part to financial speculation on their currencies in the interconnected global economy. Finally, Mental_floss touches on the then-bright star of the IMF, Argentina, which underwent runaway inflation in 1992 and going on to default on $140 billion in debt in December 2001.

Showing these crises do not seem to justify the position that I have taken. But they show that capitalism is a system filled with crises. It shows that capitalism is unstable, that it creates instability, and that is the character of any system built upon exploitation and oppression. At any rate, whether the illiquid situation has foundered upon overextended credits or an increased concentration of wealth at the top, or a combination of factors, the masses must become organized around their own political self-determination and collective self-reliance.

Anticipating this period, I wrote “A Dying Imperialism” in early 2007. In that essay, I made these observations:

Recognizing Imperialism’s weak links and how it shifts focus away from pressure provides both strategic and tactical objectivity for revolutionary organizing. Of course, economies remain strong within the Imperialist centers themselves; the United States continues unchallenged as the top industrial sector on the planet. But with relative class peace within the US, a critical problem in social relations is unavoidable. The ecological crises combined with mounting competition for monopoly control of strategic resources, especially petroleum, highlight the basic anarchy in bourgeois relations. Also, America’s domestic colonies, the Ghetto and the Barrio, still struggle valiantly against the bourgeois class peace. Furthermore, the parasitic, multi-national occupation of Iraq presents a long-term disaster for the coalition leaders, the utmost striking failure in international policy. While America seeks military domination as part of its New World Order, that strategy only compounds antagonisms between this country, its competitors, and anti-Imperialist states.

The great professor Nabudere, who has international acclaim as a Pan Africanist thinker, offers a strong critique of capitalism. He says that it is erroneous to conclude that capitalism has the ability to reinvent itself. He condemns the “financial oligarchy” in its efforts to have the State take over their worthless credit instruments and have the producing classes bear their own burdens.

Yet with the new presidency of Barack Hussein Obama, the class peace has become amplified. If capitalism concentrates wealth and power into the hands of the few, then racism is class oppression concentrated as well and for the same purpose. Neo-colonialism, being the dilution of the concentrated class question (racism), appears to operate as a strategy for heading off the dilution of wealth. The only way wealth can be diluted is to redistribute it. But wealth dilution is still capitalist distribution, and neo-colonialism still is the final stage of Imperialism. It can only remain a brief matter of time before Keynesian economics and Obama politics compound into another crisis for a system which by its character must necessarily collapse.

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