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.


Voodoo Economics and the Crisis in Thinking

A Brand New Sleigh Ride

Polar extremes should exist between the two candidates in the US presidential race, but they don’t. So, a longed for curtailing of the failed policies that dominated the last seven-and-a-half years must suffice. The American public wants some distance between it and the GOP’s neo-conservative movement.

What world do those people dwell in who want eight more years of the same loud mouth, lackluster kno-nothings. If you make less than millions or your stock is down, the reasons for backing the GOP probably have dwindled considerably. That goes a thousand times over for working class people. Unless the assumption of white supremacy really clouds some folks’ heads that bad.

This election only needs to be about partisanship, when even old line conservatives cannot support the GOP anymore. They must cross over because of the failed policies of the last eight years and their desire to have history remember them kindly.

That’s right. Few real issues need to be addressed when everything separating the Dems from the GOP has been burnt in the electorate’s mind. Americans need something fresh, like an Easter outfit. Its that simple. Not saying the Dems are the salvation or Obama is so great. Nope! It’s just that the GOP has steered full speed into a clustermuck.

After all, the Dems lag behind the GOP in so many ways, they have to catch up for eight years of tailing the Republicans. The Democrats didnt fight hard enuf to keep those worms out of govt. Even now, the Dems continue to collaborate with the GOP on the Telecom Bill, letting the communications companies off the hook for consenting to illegal government wiretaps.

The Dems have too much fraternizing across the aisles to ever really be effective. Only two stellar black women, Cynthia McKinney and Barbara Lee, stand out from that count. Otherwise, the Democratic Party never separated itself from the neo-con Voodoo economists.

Of economics and budgets, how interesting the nations roads, bridges, water and sanitary systems have fallen into disrepair. The levee system along the Mississippi, particularly in Louisiana as evidenced following Hurricane Katrina, has suffered badly. A levee in Cedar Rapids, Iowa recently failed because of heavy storm waters. The decay of these systems poses a direct — if undetected or ignored — threat to the health and safety of Americans in many places.

Thru such contradictions the basic idiocy of capitalism confronts the puppet-mouth hacks themselves. Neo-con stooges sling around slogans like family values by muttering utter nonsense, encapsulated in presidential statements like, “Catsup is a vegetable.” The very things needed to help families they have undermined.

Yet Americans allow these same crumbs to browbeat them into submission over what is American, patriotic and good.

Now, during the gas crisis, they want to open drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. But this is capitalism. CAPITALISM. You don’t own an oil rig. So you don’t get to make decisions when and where oil rigs go to work. Supply-side economics for all you half-baked Voodoo economists out there. Go back to your sixth grade civics books and learn what the Great Communicator told you. America is a capitalist country and capitalism doesn’t operate on the public dole.

Meanwhile the Fed gives massive liquidity injections to failing banks thru overnight grants because of the subprime mortgage scandal. Having made countless loans based on speculative interest rates (ARMs), many people lost their homes due to foreclosure. Businesses with balloon payments also folded. Nobody bailed out either of these two groups. Yet the banks represent the highest level of business organization in America under the capitalist system. Giving them emergency grants during this period strongly suggests that capitalism is a failure.

Using public funds to assist private business contradicts Maynard Keynes model of the welfare state. Keynes’ theories led FDR to carve out the programs of the New Deal. The Marshall Plan extended Keynes macroeconomic government policy model, whereby the US rebuilt its European allies following WW2. One way their debt was settled, England and France relinquished their colonies so the US could move transnational companies into fresh territory. Such a relationship sealed America’s economic domination for fifty years.

Posing a foil, the Chicago School elucidated on the short life and limited the usages of capital. Milton Friedman taught that government exists to liberate public assets for bourgeois enrichment. His theories on how to rapaciously exploit government power and wealth to line capitalist pockets defines the neo-conservative movement. Out of this school comes the Reaganesque “voodoo economics” that Bush 43s Administration has taken to a whole new low.

Yet public monies and assets are produced by millions of hard working people who should be entitled to them, rather than denied as under the GOP model. Until people understand the dynamics of public policy and what goes on beyond the rhetoric, we will be stuck with a “Crisis in Thinking” as I call it, which makes choices between political parties a Pavlovian nightmare. That time looms ahead when US economic domination bites the dust and Americans get a real wake up call from their leaders.