Democracy thru Imperialism
While the West likes to brag about democracy, this idea came late to the game, long after capitalism’s momentum against the rights of indigenous peoples had gained full steam. Democracy was not even a philosophical construct for Colombus, Da Gama, Pizarro, Hudson, Magellan, DeLeon, Napoleon, Leopold and other conquistadors and emperors. Such persons made the scramble for the Americas and Africa a priority for Europe from 1492 thru the Berlin Conference of 1884-85, and beyond. When the United States drafted a “democratic constitution” in 1776, its democracy remained beyond the grasp of colonized peasants, slaves and press gangs, and natives in the way of land grabs. This democracy had nothing to do with us, even tho we lived here.
Democracy did not become available to the colonized until after the Second World War. At this time, colonized workers around the world began fighting for their freedom and liberation. They began the hard uphill battle to become free from colonialism. In most cases, rather than go to war against an enemy spread out across the globe, the colonial powers reluctantly gave up direct colonial rule.
Imperialism, which had been defined by Lenin early in the century, was a mature social force when colonized zones began agitating for freedom in the Fifties. He defined Imperialism as the fusion of banking capital with industrial capital to form international finance capital. Lenin went on to describe how banks and multi-national firms would reshape the world by developing economies greater than many countries, dominating states in place of the colonial powers, and effectively operating as their own capitalist fiefdoms.
During the Fifties, African colonies lobbied for their independence. Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea-Conakry, Zambia and other states emerged. Algeria successfully waged a guerilla war against France for its independence. Congo-Leopoldville (Congo-Kinshasa, today) started on a briefly democratic road until western Imperialism derailed its with an invasion and total occupation of the country by an international force of Europeans, Americans, South Africans, Rhodesians, Israelis and Australians. This culminated in the violent overthrow of democratically-elected Patrice Lumumba and his life immolated by occupation forces. Since then, Congo-Kinshasa has been a contested zone ruled by Imperialist stooges and maintained by forced labor gangs.
This is, in essence, democracy thru Imperialism. Without submission to Imperialism first, there will be no democracy. This explains the hostility of the United States towards Cuba, Iran, Libya, Zimbabwe, Vietnam, North Korea, the former Soviet Union and, currently, Venezuela.
In French Indo-China, the Vietnamese fought for and won their liberation on the battlefield, first against Japanese occupation forces, then against French re-colonizers, and finally against the US military machine. Vietnam waged the most epic struggles of the 20th Century, and exposed Imperialism’s weaknesses.
Democracy thru Imperialism is what we see in the series of US military invasions and CIA coups going back to the sinking of the Maine in Havana harbor in 1900 to the 2001 WTC bombings and its aftermath, and culminating with the 2003 Iraq invasion and occupation.
After World War II, in the US, the struggle for national democratic rights first assumed the stance of civil rights, then shaped itself into the Black Power Movement. Historians call this “racial segregation” as if it were a democratic phenomenon with which Africans had agreed. But this was racism, unilaterally codified by bloodsucking US white power. Whenever historians and journalists discuss racial segregation, clearly they mean racist segregation, Segregation based on racism has nothing mutual implied in its definition, and is therefore anti-democratic. The term racial segregation lets historians dilute the social construct of racism. They subtly imply that racial concepts are mutually agreed upon as if Africans had an active interest in maintaining the racist status quo. That case only arises with a few exceptions like 1893 Booker T Washington or 2008 Ward Connerly, Clarence Thomas, Shelby Steele, or Jesse Lee Patterson. But these exceptions violate the rule for the base majority of Africans; these exceptions serve the most vicious political wing of Imperialism, and they prosper outside the mainstream of the African community.
So tho the civil rights movement maintained a pro-imperialist stance, it unintentionally exposed the violent, anti-democratic underpinnings of the capitalist system. Its leaders and agitators were assaulted, fire hosed, beaten, arrested, abducted, tortured, assassinated, and lynched.
What happened when the Black Power Movement built itself off of popular discontent arising from the mistreatment of nonviolent civil rights workers was the direct, militarized intervention of the State in the form of police assault teams, police hit squads and kangaroo trials. This repressive activity resulted in assassinations, material destruction of programs and institutions and political parties, frame-ups and detentions of organizers, and their exile or imprisonment. This history is well documented, and reparations have not been made for this period or the era of anti-democratic, racist segregation which preceded it.
It is also important to distinguish between anti-democratic and non-democratic behavior. Anti-democratic behavior is repressive. It is racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, and operates on behalf of a political system such as Imperialism or capitalism. Anti-democratic behavior is as paradoxical as democracy thru Imperialism, which means that it exists within structures assumed to be democratic. Black Codes and Jim Crow laws were passed by democratically-elected state assemblies, parliaments or congressional houses, who failed to defend democratic rights for African people numbered among their constituencies.
Non-democratic implies the absence of democracy such as exists within the colonized community as its members relate towards one another. It describes political culture under Imperialism.
A generation after the civil rights movement, today colonized Africans in America think they have it made. They want their part of the American dream, and America just won’t let them have it. It is a con game which originated in America and spread across a World which had little concept of the swindle, since rulers and chieftains had held their own subjects in peonage from antiquity. So today’s fat can swindlers – like lawyers, politicians, bankers, insurers, accountants and stock traders – drive Imperialism. They drive it solely in their own venal interests, for their own self-enrichment.
Whatever Karl Marx sed about capitalism being a thoroly rotten, bloodsucking system, well, he barely pipped the shell.
Of course, everybody kno that the labor product is converted into values appropriated and exchanged for commodities originally held as futures, securities or some other stake floated on paper to peel a profit off of anything produced, traded or consumed by honest, hard-working people. Based upon a mostly faulty yet quite often dishonest assessment of what happens in this economy, working people get lured into an investment scheme which persuades them to believe they may actually own part of the “American Dream”.
This swindle has been used against workers repeatedly in the housing market, the Savings and Loans busts, and stock-based retirement plans. Bank notes, shares, bearer bonds, stocks, mutual funds – their conversion from paper into real assets defines the best part of a process that 98% of all people lack any inkling of whatsoever.
For that reason, working people should be discouraged from participating in stock plans.
There’s the saying, After every boom follows a bust. The Dot Com shake out bankrupted 401k plans, KEOGHs, and other retirement funds. The Enron scandal era – which included MCI-WorldCom, Tyco and other notables – sucked up what was left. Teachers, clerks and other “educated” workers, whom most people expect to play it smart, got soaked. Think they would have learnt from the S&L swindles of the Eighties, when lenders robbed people outright and no perpetrators were ever prosecuted.
The current housing bust has shaken out dozens of investors who purchased asset-backed commercial paper (ABCP) with the expectation they would make a killing when interest rates rose. They never counted on the massive default rate from the introduction of exorbitant rates when Bernanke dictated interest rate deregulation, which adjusted the predatory mortgages upwards.
Currently, stock market surges and losses have reached an unpredictability which investors characterize as volatile. Subprime housing loans drove the stampede to mortgage lenders during the Greenspan era, now the crash bludgeons even buyers with perfect credit. Retail sales lag during this summer; gas prices keep seasonal vacationers home and effect food prices, while the debate over drilling ignores the fact that oil is a privately owned commodity and deregulation drives prices, not costs.
Housing is a real asset that can be sold out from under you due to no fault of your own. Mortgages, bought and sold by investors the moment one gets signed, are pieces of paper floated all over the globe. A minute number of deep pocket investors controlling the voluminous horde of mortgage debtors, a.k.a. “homeowners”, determine that sooner or later the herd will be eaten. Homes, stores, factories, office buildings and malls all sit on mortgaged property so the investment belongs to those making the loan. All the same, it is the loan which investors interest themselves in. They acquire supremacy over the market (economy) because of the massive value accumulated in so very few hands. When they enforce collections, that results in market corrections.
During a “market correction”, business fail or curtail production, resulting in higher unemployment. This spiraling effect has nothing to do with production but is based on seedy speculators whose very existence obstructs the flow of goods and services. Resources bottled up by a parasitic redundancy in trade relations can lead to the point where conflicts and wars erupt.
Indeed, the farmer can’t sell futures in his orange crop because the bank owns them and controls the market where they must be sold. Third-party negotiators then acquire rights to the futures and so on in transactions which do not benefit the real producer. A paradox, society can thrive without the banks and stock market, but not without the farmer. This system of wild market speculation drives prices not costs, accounting for the rise of fuel, interest rates, food, college degrees, health insurance, everything.
Keep dreaming. Anyone without a convenient $150k to sink into a mutual fund cannot even think about becoming a real capitalist. That designates the level where investments begin, as any commercial advertising portfolio prerequisites during PGA tournaments or NBA and NFL games may well tell you.
International finance capital, Imperialism, operates thru a political system which protects the swindlers and cares little for the masses. IMF-World Bank policies account for the horrendous wars in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Credit-Suisse, Deutsche Bank, CITICORP, Ameriquest Mortgage, Washington Mutual and HSBC Finance Corp. lead the shake out in the current housing bust. Some are defendants in discriminatory lending suits being pressed by the NAACP. Nobody can quite quantify the social impact, but look forward to a renewed phase of the racist wars against America’s colonized workers.
Meanwhile, investors holding complex mortgage securities and Wall Street bankers always manage to come out on top. Homeowners, on the other hand, will never be winners under this system. The only advantage for the people is to decolonize their minds, return to the source, and break down Imperialism like kung fu masters…
What is the dollar value of one point on the NYSE? Anyone who doesn’t kno has no business letting their employers talk them into an IRA, CDs or a 401k. refuse to let your union leaders follow the advice of business agents who want to invest dues money in the stock market. Have they explained how that loot is converted, transferred, traded, exported and reinvested, ultimately prompting you to rant about foreign products and their threat to American workers?!
At the same time lenders poise to snatch the roof from over your family’s heads, you want to bomb China, India, Pakistan, Mexico and the Ghetto.
Dirty, sexy money is the root of great evils. Its finance scams originated when the folks who violently swindled North America from the Indians redistributed it amongst the haves. This swindlers regime imposed itself upon the “new” Indians, working people. These same suckers pay record prices for gas swindled from Iraq, then send their kids to fight terrorism.
Yes, they blame Mexicans for trying to flee a more repressed economy. Suckers blame the Arabs for resisting a Beast who occupies their land. They blame neo colonies like China and India for jumping at dollars held out to them by American financiers. Homesteaders who slaughtered American Indians for the robber barons turn to racist political theory out of expedience. They blame Blacks, just because. In the heartland of the Homelanders, an ideological campaign must be carried out to turn society right side up.
For this reason, the African working class must understand that capitalism is a system made of many components and parts, and that ideas drive all these parts. Ideas play an important part in the function of capitalism, justifying the activities which people come to accept as normal. Yet our lifestyles under capitalism are anything except normal when we see how an enormous interwoven social fabric gives this system life. This social fabric consists of a vast ensemble of subsystems, political economies, private economies of scale, and modes which approximate slavery and feudalism.
When we see how the forces which justify capitalism peel away like the layers of an onion, that every time we remove one layer of the ideological shell we encounter another, we have to become comprehensive in our outlook and united in our collective struggle.
At one time, revolutionary thinkers broke down ideas like the Protestant work ethic, racist concepts against the black self-image, and the notion of who deserves democratic rights in this country. Today we wage the same collective struggle on an ever shifting sand dune. Now the battle cries scream out from Imperialism’s own contending economic philosophies, and our anti-imperialism aims to defeat an encirclement strategy which has unlimited wealth and power.
We have a responsibility not to allow capitalism just to collapse. It collapsed twice in the last century and caused two world wars. Capitalism’s massive failure during the Great Depression caused worldwide starvation and homelessness, increased repression and exploitation in colonized zones, the rise of fascism and Nazism, and the violent immolation of at least 11 million people in Europe.
Our job isn’t to hold up capitalism or allow it to collapse. Our job is to destroy it for all eternity.
The overthrow of capitalism means that social forces must take control of its demise. It means that a Revolution will ensure that capitalism will not fall of its own weight. Workers and fighters of all nationalities must bring down capitalism because of its antagonistic contradictions.
The self-led proletariat has the job of stalking, hunting, slaying, butchering and consuming capitalism the way a band of Africans brings down an elephant. Only our job is to organize the masses of society for this task, and to leave the distribution of the carcass to the workers.
On the one side of the bourgeois paradox – known as Imperialism thru Democracy – lies the territory of neo-liberal social policy which supports civil rights, multiculturalism and quotas, while simultaneously building the world’s biggest prison industrial complex. Criminalizing an entire population, neo-liberal political repression built a new political economy off the backs of one million imprisoned African workers.
The other side of the bourgeois paradox promotes Democracy thru Imperialism. This is the brand of neo-conservativism that has twisted the American psyche around the concept of empire.
Suppose the government decided to auction off the assets of the post office and give the job of delivering mail to a corporation. Neo-conservatives have tossed the idea around in public for a number of year going back to the Reagan Administration. Milton Friedman, traditionally considered the founder of the neo-conservative movement, advocated for years that the post office be privatized.
This is the ideology behind deregulation. It is a theory which states that deregulation harms the market economy, it shackles laissez faire capitalism, and creates repression. However, in every instance where Friedman’s policies have been implemented – except in economically insignificant European enclaves like Iceland and Estonia – political repression has followed.
The democratic concept of laissez faire capitalism is incompatible with Imperialism.
No capitalist economist remotely understands how social forces react against one another under the market economy. They see antagonisms within society but lack an analysis of class strata. They fail to address how the Imperialist centers dominate the former colonial world, causing destabilization in the form of shortages, inflation, wars and mass migrations.
A deregulated economic system under Imperialism spells disaster not only for the neo-colonial states but for Imperialism as well. While we don’t have the luxury of Friedman’s Chicago School masterminds to test our theorem, more than ample evidence exists that repression increases when industries are deregulated, and public assets sold to the highest bidder.
Examples abound, such as Chile under Pinochet, Latin American dictatorships in Honduras and Argentina, and in many African countries. Deregulation is not a factor in those places so much as the so-called laissez faire system of unregulated markets. There we see uprisings, disappearances of dissenters, wars over resources, oligarchy living next to abysmal poverty, press gang (corvee) labor, and coups d’etat.
Also, notably, the deterioration of infrastructure, contraction of paved roads, collapse of basic services, currency problems, liquidity crises, decline in education and employment, and other markers of social instability are whitewashed with extravagant displays of opulence by the rich and powerful. Entourages escorted by heavily armed military or private security forces, the proliferation of mansions by individuals in power, huge public expense for entertainment venues, and news concentrating on the lifestyles of the rich and famous complete the whitewash.
It is important to understand how deregulation causes these effects as much as studying the effects themselves. Unregulated market forces have nothing to do with spreading democracy; on the contrary, democracy has decreased across the world since the neo-conservatives have dominated American politics.
Democracy has decreased in America, because the war of terror has chilled dissent. The eight years of the Bush Administration has caused a decline in economic conditions thru out the US infrastructure. Higher unemployment, a decline in wages and salaries, a collapse of both the housing market and the banking industry, and a rise in fuel prices (not costs) which triggered a rise in costs for basic goods and services.
Looser regulation of the stock market has resulted in greater scandals and swindles. These swindles are being carried out by investment bankers against working and middle class people who have been persuaded over the last twenty to twenty-five years to invest in pension their own personal pension funds. Every five years or so, these funds get raided by corporate swindlers like Enron, Tyco, MCI-Worldcom, Martha Stewart, and others.
So where the stock market has less oversight, so do the banks. The mortgage swindle is the primary case in point. From the early years of the Clinton Administration, the Fed depressed interest rates, at the same time permitting banks to create sophisticated articles of fraud, most notably the Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM). Interest rates remained low for many years, encouraging the timid to dip into the volatile housing market and perhaps attain that most significant piece of the American pie. When the Bush Administration’s war policies began to fail, causing a crisis of confidence in the stock market, the Fed loosened interest rates, which immediately jumped skyward and locked people in usuriously. People with ARMs and other predatory loan packages began losing their homes. So much for their American dreams.
Now while unemployment rises, public services for poor people and soldiers’ families remains a source of repression. Concomitantly, the Fed floats billions of dollars in grants to banks, the highest level of business organization, while the country fights for a health plan. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, government-backed financed corporations, were bailed one time so that dividends could be paid to shareholders, and now they and eleven other banks have their combined $5.1 trillion debt being backed by the government which declines help to the taxpayers who generate this wealth.
The housing crisis triggered several waves of economic instability, and continues to cause waves. In Europe, last year, the EU’s banking system felt heavy tremors and shortages of cash meant that banks were floating notes with decreased value. US banks refused to lend “to anything east of 212”, that being New York City’s area code. Europe is the only thing east of NYC.
Food shortages hit Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. In Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU party unfairly bear the blame for runaway inflation there. Mexico has seen increases in criminal gang activity which threaten its security.
Because the banks could not successfully squeeze as many people as they preferred, they asked for and received legal permission to speculate in the oil market. This caused the price of oil to increase from around thirty dollars a barrel to over $110/barrel. The rise in price showed up at the pump at a cool $4.10 a gallon. This put a damper on drivers, but pointed the way towards less subjective energy consumption activity.
Our job as revolutionary workers is to understand that both liberal and conservative doctrine have nothing to do with democracy, but with carrot and stick policies. When one doesn’t work, the other is substituted. Revolutionary organizers must understand these trends so as to anticipate them, get out ahead of the masses, and provide leadership that will drive a wedge thru capitalism.
We need to see how the reactionary left and right operate so as to create a deeper rift between them. Our role is to consolidate our forces for maximum organizational power and begin the process of revolution. Any other method has proven ineffective.
Filed under: Berlin Conference, capitalism, colonialism, democracy, empire, immolation, Imperialism, Milton Friedman, neo-conservativism, press gangs, segregation | Leave a comment »