China: Rise, Fall and Re-Emergence as a Global Power

The Lessons of History

Global Research, October 28, 2017
Global Research 7 March 2012

First published on GR in March 2012

The study of world power has been blighted by Eurocentric historians who have distorted and ignored the dominant role China played in the world economy between 1100 and 1800.  John Hobson’s[1] brilliant historical survey of the world economy during this period provides an abundance of empirical data making the case for China ’s economic and technological superiority over Western civilization for the better part of a millennium prior to its conquest and decline in the 19th century.

China ’s re-emergence as a world economic power raises important questions about what we can learn from its previous rise and fall and about the external and internal threats confronting this emerging economic superpower for the immediate future.

First we will outline the main contours of historical China ’s rise to global economic superiority over West before the 19th century, following closely John Hobson’s account in The Eastern Origins of Western Civilization.  Since the majority of western economic historians (liberal, conservative and Marxist) have presented historical China as a stagnant, backward, parochial society, an “oriental despotism”, some detailed correctives will be necessary.  It is especially important to emphasize how China , the world technological power between 1100 and 1800, made the West’s emergence possible.  It was only by borrowing and assimilating Chinese innovations that the West was able to make the transition to modern capitalist and imperialist economies.

In part two we will analyze and discuss the factors and circumstances which led to China ’s decline in the 19th century and its subsequent domination, exploitation and pillage by Western imperial countries, first England and then the rest of Europe, Japan and the United States .

In part three, we will briefly outline the factors leading to China’s emancipation from colonial and neo-colonial rule and analyze its recent rise to becoming the second largest global economic power.

Finally we will look at the past and present threats to China ’s rise to global economic power, highlighting the similarities between British colonialism of the 18 and 19th centuries and the current US imperial strategies and focusing on the weaknesses and strengths of past and present Chinese responses.

China:  The Rise and Consolidation of Global Power 1100 – 1800

In a systematic comparative format, John Hobson provides a wealth of empirical indicators demonstrating China ’s global economic superiority over the West and in particular England .  These are some striking facts:

As early as 1078, China was the world’s major producer of steel (125,000 tons); whereas Britain in 1788 produced 76,000 tons.

China was the world’s leader in technical innovations in textile manufacturing, seven centuries before Britain ’s 18th century “textile revolution”.

China was the leading trading nation, with long distance trade reaching most of Southern Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe .  China’s ‘agricultural revolution’ and productivity surpassed the West down to the 18th century.

Its innovations in the production of paper, book printing, firearms and tools led to a manufacturing superpower whose goods were transported throughout the world by the most advanced navigational system.

China possessed the world’s largest commercial ships.  In 1588 the largest English ships displaced 400 tons, China ’s 3,000 tons.  Even as late as the end of the 18th century China ’s merchants employed 130,000 private transport ships, several times that of Britain . China retained this pre-eminent position in the world economy up until the early 19th century.

British and Europeans manufacturers followed China ’s lead, assimilating and borrowing its more advanced technology and were eager to penetrate China ’s advanced and lucrative market.

Banking, a stable paper money economy, manufacturing and high yields in agriculture resulted in China ’s per capita income matching that of Great Britain as late as 1750.

China ’s dominant global position was challenged by the rise of British imperialism, which had adopted the advanced technological, navigational and market innovations of China and other Asian countries in order to bypass earlier stages in becoming a world power[2].

Western Imperialism and the Decline of China

The British and Western imperial conquest of the East, was based on the militaristic nature of the imperial state, its non-reciprocal economic relations with overseas trading countries and the Western imperial ideology which motivated and justified overseas conquest.

Unlike China , Britain ’s industrial revolution and overseas expansion was driven by a military policy.  According to Hobson, during the period from 1688-1815 Great Britain was engaged in wars 52% of the time[3].  Whereas the Chinese relied on their open markets and their superior production and sophisticated commercial and banking skills, the British relied on tariff protection, military conquest, the systematic destruction of competitive overseas enterprises as well as the appropriation and plunder of local resources.  China ’s global predominance was based on ‘reciprocal benefits’ with its trading partners, while Britain relied on mercenary armies of occupation, savage repression and a ‘divide and conquer’ policy to foment local rivalries.  In the face of native resistance, the British (as well as other Western imperial powers) did not hesitate to exterminate entire communities[4].

Unable to take over the Chinese market through greater economic competitiveness, Britain relied on brute military power.  It mobilized, armed and led mercenaries, drawn from its colonies in India and elsewhere to force its exports on China and impose unequal treaties to lower tariffs.  As a result China was flooded with British opium produced on its plantations in India – despite Chinese laws forbidding or regulating the importation and sale of the narcotic.  China ’s rulers, long accustomed to its trade and manufacturing superiority, were unprepared for the ‘new imperial rules’ for global power.  The West’s willingness to use military power  to win colonies, pillage resources and recruit huge mercenary armies commanded by European officers spelt the end for China as a world power.

China had based its economic predominance on ‘non-interference in the internal affairs of its trading partners’.  In contrast, British imperialists intervened violently in Asia , reorganizing local economies to suit the needs of the empire (eliminating economic competitors including more efficient Indian cotton manufacturers) and seized control of local political, economic and administrative apparatus to establish the colonial state.

Britain ’s empire was built with resources seized from the colonies and through the massive militarization of its economy[5].  It was thus able to secure military supremacy over China .  China ’s foreign policy was hampered by its ruling elite’s excessive reliance on trade relations.  Chinese officials and merchant elites sought to appease the British and convinced the emperor to grant devastating extra-territorial concessions opening markets to the detriment of Chinese manufacturers while surrendering local sovereignty.  As always, the British precipitated internal rivalries and revolts further destabilizing the country.

Western and British penetration and colonization of China ’s market created an entire new class:  The wealthy Chinese ‘compradores’ imported British goods and facilitated the takeover of local markets and resources.  Imperialist pillage forced greater exploitation and taxation of the great mass of Chinese peasants and workers.  China ’s rulers were obliged to pay the war debts and finance trade deficits imposed by the Western imperial powers by squeezing its peasantry.  This drove the peasants to starvation and revolt.

By the early 20th century (less than a century after the Opium Wars), China had descended from world economic power to a broken semi-colonial country with a huge destitute population.  The principle ports were controlled by Western imperial officials and the countryside was subject to the rule by corrupt and brutal warlords.  British opium enslaved millions.

British Academics:  Eloquent Apologists for Imperial Conquest

The entire Western academic profession – first and foremost British  imperial historians – attributed British imperial dominance of Asia to English ‘technological superiority’ and China’s misery and colonial status to ‘oriental backwardness’, omitting any mention of the millennium of Chinese commercial and technical progress and superiority up to the dawn of the 19th century.  By the end of the 1920’s, with the Japanese imperial invasion, China ceased to exist as a unified country.  Under the aegis of imperial rule, hundreds of millions of Chinese had starved or were dispossessed or slaughtered, as the Western powers and Japan plundered its economy.  The entire Chinese ‘collaborator’ comprador elite were discredited before the Chinese people.

What did remain in the collective memory of the great mass of the Chinese people – and what was totally absent in the accounts of prestigious US and British academics – was the sense of China once having been a prosperous, dynamic and leading world power.  Western commentators dismissed this collective memory of China ’s ascendancy as the foolish pretensions of nostalgic lords and royalty – empty Han arrogance.

China Rises from the Ashes of Imperial Plunder and Humiliation:  The Chinese Communist Revolution

The rise of modern China to become the second largest economy in the world was made possible only through the success of the Chinese communist revolution in the mid-20th century.  The People’s Liberation ‘Red’ Army defeated first the invading Japanese imperial army and later the US imperialist-backed comprador led Kuomintang “Nationalist” army.  This allowed the reunification of China as an independent sovereign state.  The Communist government abolished the extra-territorial privileges of the Western imperialists, ended the territorial fiefdoms of the regional warlords and gangsters and drove out the millionaire owners of brothels, the traffickers of women and drugs as well as the other “service providers” to the Euro-American Empire.

In every sense of the word, the Communist revolution forged  the modern Chinese state.  The new leaders then proceeded to reconstruct an economy ravaged by imperial wars and pillaged by Western and Japanese capitalists.  After over 150 years of infamy and humiliation the Chinese people recovered their pride and national dignity.  These socio-psychological elements were essential in motivating the Chinese to defend their country from the US attacks, sabotage, boycotts, and blockades mounted immediately after liberation.

Contrary to Western and neoliberal Chinese economists, China ’s dynamic growth did not start in 1980.  It began in 1950, when the agrarian reform provided land, infrastructure, credits and technical assistance to hundreds of millions of landless and destitute peasants and landless rural workers. Through what is now called “human capital” and gigantic social mobilization, the Communists built roads, airfields, bridges, canals and railroads as well as the basic industries, like coal, iron and steel, to form the backbone of the modern Chinese economy.  Communist China’s vast free educational and health systems created a healthy, literate and motivated work force.  Its highly professional military prevented the US from extending its military empire throughout the Korean peninsula up to China ’s territorial frontiers.  Just as past Western scholars and propagandists fabricated a history of a “stagnant and decadent” empire to justify their destructive conquest, so too their modern counterparts have rewritten the first thirty years of Chinese Communist history, denying the role of the revolution in developing all the essential elements for a modern economy, state and society.  It is clear that China ’s rapid economic growth was based on the development of its internal market, its rapidly growing cadre of scientists, skilled technicians and workers and the social safety net which protected and promoted working class and peasant mobility were products of Communist planning and investments.

China ’s rise to global power began in 1949 with the removal of the entire parasitic financial, compradore and speculative classes who had served as the intermediaries for European, Japanese and US imperialists draining China of its great wealth.
China’s Transition to Capitalism

Beginning in 1980 the Chinese government initiated a dramatic shift in its economic strategy:  Over the next three decades, it opened the country to large-scale foreign investment; it privatized thousands of industries and it set in motion a process of income concentration based on a deliberate strategy of re-creating a dominant economic class of billionaires linked to overseas capitalists.  China ’s ruling political class embraced the idea of “borrowing” technical know-how and accessing overseas markets from foreign firms in exchange for providing cheap, plentiful labor at the lowest cost.

The Chinese state re-directed massive public subsidies to promote high capitalist growth by dismantling its national system of free public education and health care.  They ended subsidized public housing for hundreds of millions of peasants and urban factory workers and provided funds to real estate speculators for the construction of private luxury apartments and office skyscrapers. China ’s new capitalist strategy as well as its double digit growth was based on the profound structural changes and massive public investments made possible by the previous communist government.  China ’s private sector “take off” was based on the huge public outlays made since 1949.

The triumphant new capitalist class and its Western collaborators claimed all the credit for this “economic miracle” as China rose to become the world’s second largest economy.  This new Chinese elite have been less eager to announce China ’s world-class status in terms of brutal class inequalities, rivaling only the US .

China:  From Imperial Dependency to World Class Competitor

China ’s sustained growth in its manufacturing sector was a result of highly concentrated public investments, high profits, technological innovations and a protected domestic market.  While foreign capital profited, it was always within the framework of the Chinese state’s priorities and regulations.  The regime’s dynamic ‘export strategy’ led to huge trade surpluses, which eventually made China one of the world’s largest creditors especially for US debt.  In order to maintain its dynamic industries, China has required huge influxes of raw materials, resulting in large-scale overseas investments and trade agreements with agro-mineral export countries in Africa and Latin America .  By 2010 China displaced the US and Europe as the main trading partner in many countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America .

Modern China ’s rise to world economic power, like its predecessor between 1100-1800, is based on its gigantic productive capacity:  Trade and investment was governed by a policy of strict non-interference in the internal relations of its trading partners.  Unlike the US , China did initiate brutal wars for oil; instead it signed lucrative contracts.  And China does not fight wars in the interest of overseas Chinese, as the US has done in the Middle East for Israel .

The seeming imbalance between Chinese economic and military power is in stark contrast to the US where a bloated, parasitic military empire continues to erode its own global economic presence.

US military spending is twelve times that of China .  Increasingly the US military plays the key role shaping policy in Washington as it seeks to undercut China ’s rise to global power.

China’s Rise to World Power: Will History Repeat Itself?

China has been growing at about 9% per annum and its goods and services are rapidly rising in quality and value.  In contrast, the US and Europe have wallowed around 0% growth from 2007-2012.  China ’s innovative techno-scientific establishment routinely assimilates the latest inventions from the West (and Japan ) and improves them, thereby decreasing the cost of production.  China has replaced the US and European controlled “international financial institutions” (the IMF, World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank) as the principle lender in Latin America .  China continues to lead as the prime investor in African energy and mineral resources.  China has replaced the US as the principle market for Saudi Arabian, Sudanese and Iranian petroleum and it will soon replace the US as the principle market for Venezuela petroleum products.  Today China is the world’s biggest manufacturer and exporter, dominating even the US market, while playing the role of financial life line as it holds over $1.3 trillion in US Treasury notes.

Under growing pressure from its workers, farmers and peasants, China ’s rulers have been developing the domestic market by increasing wages and social spending to rebalance the economy and avoid the specter of social instability.  In contrast, US wages, salaries and vital public services have sharply declined in absolute and relative terms.

Given the current historical trends it is clear that China will replace the US as the leading world economic power, over the next decade,  if the US empire does not strike back and if China ’s profound class inequalities do not lead to a major social upheaval.

Modern China ’s rise to global power faces serious challenges.  In contrast to China ’s historical ascent on the world stage, modern Chinese global economic power is not accompanied by any imperialist undertakings.  China has seriously lagged behind the US and Europe in aggressive war-making capacity.  This may have allowed China to direct public resources to maximize economic growth, but it has left China vulnerable to US military superiority in terms of its massive arsenal, its string of forward bases and strategic geo-military positions right off the Chinese coast and in adjoining territories.

In the nineteenth century British imperialism demolished China ’s global position with its military superiority, seizing China ’s ports – because of China ’s reliance on ‘mercantile superiority’.

The conquest of India , Burma and most of Asia allowed Britain to establish colonial bases and recruit local mercenary armies.  The British and its mercenary allies encircled and isolated China , setting the stage for the disruption of China ’s markets and the imposition of the brutal terms of trade.  The British Empire’s armed presence dictated what China imported (with opium accounting for over 50% of British exports in the 1850s) while undermining China ’s competitive advantages via tariff policies.

Today the US is pursuing similar policies:  US naval fleet  patrols and controls China ’s commercial shipping lanes and off-shore oil resources via its overseas bases.  The Obama-Clinton White House is in the process of developing a rapid military response involving bases in Australia , Philippines and elsewhere in Asia .  The US is intensifying  its efforts to undermine Chinese overseas access to strategic resources while backing ‘grass roots’ separatists and ‘insurgents’ in West China, Tibet, Sudan, Burma, Iran, Libya, Syria and elsewhere.  The US military agreements with India and  the installation of a pliable puppet regime in Pakistan have advanced its strategy of isolating China .  While China upholds its policy of “harmonious development” and “non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries”, it has stepped aside as US and European military imperialism have attacked a host of China’s trading partners to essentially reverse China’s  peaceful commercial expansion.

China’s lack of a political and ideological strategy capable of protecting its overseas economic interests has been an invitation for the US and NATO to set-up regimes hostile to China .  The most striking example is Libya where US and NATO intervened to overthrow an independent government led by President Gadhafi, with whom China had signed multi-billion dollar trade and investments agreements. The NATO bombardment of Libyan cities, ports and oil installation forced the Chinese to withdraw 35,000 Chinese oil engineers and construction workers in a matter of days.  The same thing happened in Sudan where China had invested billions to develop its oil industry.  The US, Israel and Europe armed the South Sudanese rebels to disrupt the flow of oil and attack Chinese oil workers[6].  In both cases China passively allowed the US and European military imperialists to attack its trade partners and undermine its investments.

Under Mao Tse Tung, China had an active policy countering imperial aggression:  It supported revolutionary movements and independent Third World governments.  Today’s capitalist China does not have an active policy of supporting governments or movements capable of protecting China ’s bilateral trade and investment agreements.  China ’s inability to confront the rising tide of US   military aggression against its economic interests, is due to deep structural problems.  China’s foreign policy is shaped by big commercial, financial and manufacturing interests who rely on their ‘economic competitive edge’ to gain market shares and have no understanding of the military and security underpinnings of global economic power.  China ’s political class is deeply influenced by a new class of billionaires with strong ties to Western equity funds and who have uncritically absorbed Western cultural values. This is illustrated by their preference for sending their own children to elite universities in the US and Europe .  They seek “accommodation with the West” at any price.

This lack of any strategic understanding of military empire-building has led them to respond ineffectively and ad hoc to each imperialist action undermining their access to resources and markets.  While China ’s “business first” outlook may have worked when it was a minor player in the world economy and US empire builders saw  the “capitalist opening” as a chance to easily takeover China ’s public enterprises and pillage the economy.  However, when China (in contrast to the former USSR) decided to retain capital controls and develop a carefully calibrated, state directed “industrial policy”  directing western capital and the transfer of technology to state enterprises, which effectively penetrated the US domestic and overseas markets, Washington began to complain and talked of retaliation.

China ’s huge trade surpluses with the US provoked a dual response in Washington :  It sold massive quantities of US Treasury bonds to the Chinese and began to develop a global strategy to block China ’s advance. Since the US lacked economic leverage to reverse its decline, it relied on its only “comparative advantage” – its military superiority based on a world wide  system of attack bases,  a network of overseas client regimes, military proxies, NGO’ers, intellectuals and armed mercenaries.  Washington turned to its vast overt and clandestine security apparatus to undermine China ’s trading partners.  Washington depends on its long-standing ties with corrupt rulers, dissidents, journalists and media moguls to provide the powerful propaganda cover while advancing its military offensive against China ’s overseas interests.

China has nothing to compare with the US overseas ‘security apparatus’ because it practices a policy of “non-interference”.  Given the advanced state of the Western imperial offensive, China has taken only a few diplomatic initiatives, such as financing English language media outlets to present its perspective, using its veto power on the UN Security Council to oppose US efforts to overthrow the independent Assad regime in Syria and opposing the imposition of drastic sanctions against Iran .  It sternly repudiated US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s vitriolic questioning of the ‘legitimacy’ of the Chinese state when it voted against the US-UN resolution  preparing  an attack on Syria[7].

Chinese military strategists are more aware and alarmed at the growing military threat to China .  They have successfully demanded a 19% annual increase in military spending over the next five years (2011-2015)[8].  Even with this increase, China’s military expenditures will still be less than one-fifth of the US military budget and China has not one overseas military base in stark contrast to the over 750 US installations abroad.  Overseas Chinese intelligence operations are minimal and ineffective.  Its embassies are run by and for narrow commercial interests who utterly failed to understand NATO’s brutal policy of regime change in Libya and inform Beijing of its significance to the Chinese state.

There are two other structural weaknesses undermining China ’s rise as a world power. This includes the highly ‘Westernized’ intelligentsia which has uncritically swallowed US economic doctrine about free markets while ignoring its militarized economy.  These Chinese intellectuals parrot the US propaganda about the ‘democratic virtues’ of billion-dollar Presidential campaigns, while supporting financial deregulation which would have led to a Wall Street takeover of Chinese banks and savings.  Many Chinese business consultants and academics have been educated in the US and influenced by their ties to US academics and international financial institutions directly linked to Wall Street and the City of London .  They have prospered as highly-paid consultants receiving prestigious positions in Chinese institutions.  They identify the ‘liberalization of financial markets’ with “advanced economies” capable of deepening ties to global markets instead of as a major source of the current global financial crisis.  These “Westernized intellectuals” are like their 19th century comprador counterparts who underestimated and dismissed the long-term consequences of Western imperial penetration.  They fail to understand how financial deregulation in the US precipitated the current crisis and how deregulation would lead to a Western takeover of China ’s financial system- the consequences of which would reallocate China ’s domestic savings to non-productive activities (real estate speculation), precipitate financial crisis and ultimately undermine China ’s leading global position.

These Chinese yuppies imitate the worst of Western consumerist life styles and their political outlooks are driven by these life styles and Westernized identities which preclude any sense of solidarity with their own working class.

There is an economic basis for the pro-Western sentiments of China ’s neo-compradors.  They have transferred billions of dollars to foreign bank accounts, purchased luxury homes and apartments in London , Toronto , Los Angeles , Manhattan , Paris , Hong Kong and Singapore . They have one foot in China (the source of their wealth) and the other in the West (where they consume and hide their wealth).

Westernized compradores are deeply embedded in China ’s economic system having family ties with the political leadership in the party apparatus and the state. Their connections are weakest in the military and in the growing social movements, although some “dissident” students and academic activists in the “democracy movements” are backed by Western imperial NGO’s.  To the extent that the compradors gain influence, they weaken the strong economic state institutions which have directed China ’s ascent to global power, just as they did in the 19th century by acting as intermediaries for the British Empire .  Proclaiming 19th Century “liberalism” British opium addicted over 50 million Chinese in less than a decade.  Proclaiming “democracy and human rights” US gunboats now patrol off China ’s coast.  China ’s elite-directed rise to global economic power has spawned monumental inequalities between the thousands of new billionaires and multi-millionaires at the top and hundreds of millions of impoverished workers, peasants and migrant workers at the bottom.

China ’s rapid accumulation of wealth and capital was made possible through the intense exploitation of its workers who were stripped of their previous social safety net and regulated work conditions guaranteed under Communism.  Millions of Chinese households are being dispossessed in order to promote real estate developer/speculators who then build high rise offices and the luxury apartments for the domestic and foreign elite.  These brutal features of ascendant Chinese capitalism have created a fusion of workplace and living space mass struggle which is growing every year.  The developer/speculators’ slogan  “to get rich is wonderful” has lost its power to deceive the people.  In 2011 there were over 200,000 popular encompassing urban coastal factories and rural villages.  The next step, which is sure to come, will be the unification of these struggles into  new national social movements with a class-based agenda demanding the restoration of health and educational services enjoyed under the Communists as well as a greater share of China’s wealth. Current demands for greater wages can turn to demands for greater work place democracy.  To answer these popular demands China ’s new compradore-Westernized liberals cannot point to their ‘model’ in the US empire where American workers are in the process of being stripped of the very benefits Chinese workers are struggling to regain.

China , torn by deepening class and political conflict, cannot sustain its drive toward global economic leadership.  China ’s elite cannot confront the rising global imperial military threat from the US with its comprador allies among the internal liberal elite while the country is  a deeply divided society with an increasingly hostile working class.  The time of unbridled exploitation of China ’s labor has to end in order to face the US military encirclement of China and economic disruption of its overseas markets.  China possesses enormous resources.  With over $1.5 trillion dollars in reserves China can finance a comprehensive national health and educational program throughout the country.

China can afford to pursue an intensive ‘public housing program’ for the 250 million migrant workers currently living in urban squalor.  China can impose a system of progressive income taxes on its new billionaires and millionaires and finance small family farmer co-operatives and rural industries to rebalance the economy.  Their program of developing alternative energy sources, such as solar panels and wind farms – are a promising start to addressing their serious environmental pollution.  Degradation of the environment and related health issues already engage the concern of tens of millions.  Ultimately China ’s best defense against imperial encroachments is a stable regime based on social justice for the hundreds of millions and a foreign policy of supporting overseas anti-imperialist movements and regimes – whose independence are in China ’s vital interest.  What is needed is a pro-active policy based on mutually beneficial joint ventures including military and diplomatic solidarity.  Already a small, but influential, group of Chinese intellectuals have raised the issue of the growing US military threat and are “saying no to gunboat diplomacy”.[9]

Modern China has plenty of resources and opportunities, unavailable to China in the 19th century when it was subjugated by the British Empire . If the US continues to escalate its aggressive militaristic policy against China , Beijing can set off a serious fiscal crisis by dumping a few of its hundreds of billions of dollars in US Treasury notes.  China , a nuclear power should reach out to its similarly armed and threatened neighbor, Russia , to confront and confound the bellicose rantings of US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton.  Russian President-to-be Putin vows to increase military spending from 3% to 6% of the GDP over the next decade to counter Washington’s offensive missile bases on Russia’s borders and thwart Obama’s ‘regime change’ programs against its allies, like Syria[10].

China has powerful trading, financial and investment networks covering the globe as well as powerful economic partners .These links have become essential for the continued growth of many of countries throughout the developing world.  In taking on China , the US will have to face the opposition of many powerful market-based elites throughout the world.  Few countries or elites see any future in tying their fortunes to an economically unstable empire-based on militarism and destructive colonial occupations.

In other words, modern China , as a world power, is incomparably stronger than it was in early 18th century.  The US does not have the colonial leverage that the ascendant British Empire possessed in the run-up to the Opium Wars.  Moreover, many Chinese intellectuals and the vast majority of its citizens have no intention of letting its current “Westernized compradors” sell out the country.  Nothing would accelerate political polarization in Chinese society and hasten the coming of a second Chinese social revolution more than a timid leadership submitting to a new era of Western imperial pillage.

Notes

[1] John Hobson, The Eastern Origins of Western Civilization ( Cambridge UK :  Cambridge University Press 2004)
[2] Ibid, Ch. 9 pp. 190 -218
[3] Ibid, Ch. 11, pp. 244-248
[4] Richard Gott, Britain’s Empire:  Resistance, Repression and Revolt ( London : Verso 2011) for a detailed historical chronicle of the savagery accompanying Britain ’s colonial empire.
[5] Hobson, pp. 253 – 256.
[6] Katrina Manson, “South Sudan puts Beijing ’s policies to the test”, Financial Times, 2/21/12, p. 5.
[7] Interview of Clinton NPR, 2/26/12.
[8] La Jornada, 2/15/12 ( Mexico City ).
[9]  China Daily (2/20/2012)
[10]Charles Clover, ‘Putin vows huge boost in defense spending’, Financial Times, 2/12/2012

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◾Who Rules America? The Power Elite in the Time of Trump

Source

James Petras

Introduction

In the last few months, several competing political, economic and military sectors – linked to distinct ideological and ethnic groups – have clearly emerged at the centers of power.

We can identify some of the key competing and interlocking directorates of the power elite:

1. Free marketers, with the ubiquitous presence of the ‘Israel First’ crowd.

2. National capitalists, linked to rightwing ideologues.

3. Generals, linked to the national security and the Pentagon apparatus, as well as defense industry.

4. Business elites, linked to global capital. This essay attempts to define the power wielders and evaluate their range of power and its impact.

The Economic Power Elite: Israel-Firsters and Wall Street CEO’s

‘Israel Firsters’ dominate the top economic and political positions within the Trump regime and, interestingly, are among the Administration’s most vociferous opponents. These include: the Federal Reserve Chairwoman, Janet Yellen, as well as her Vice-Chair, Stanley Fischer, an Israeli citizen and former (sic) Governor of the Bank of Israel.

Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and an Orthodox Jew, acts as his top adviser on Middle East Affairs. Kushner, a New Jersey real estate mogul, set himself up as the archenemy of the economic nationalists in the Trump inner circle. He supports every Israeli power and land grab in the Middle East and works closely with David Friedman, US Ambassador to Israel (and fanatical supporter of the illegal Jewish settlements) and Jason Greenblatt, Special Representative for International negotiations. With three Israel-Firsters determining Middle East policy, there is not even a fig leaf of balance.

The Treasury Secretary is Steven Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs executive, who leads the neo-liberal free market wing of the Wall Street sector within the Trump regime. Gary Cohn, a longtime Wall Street influential, heads the National Economic Council. They form the core business advisers and lead the neo-liberal anti-nationalist Trump coalition committed to undermining economic nationalist policies.

An influential voice in the Attorney General’s office is Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Robert Mueller the chief investigator, which led to the removal of nationalists from the Trump Administration.

The fairy godfather of the anti-nationalist Mnuchin-Cohn team is Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sach’s Chairman. The ‘Three Israel First bankerteers’ are spearheading the fight to deregulate the banking sector, which had ravaged the economy, leading to the 2008 collapse and foreclosure of millions of American homeowners and businesses.

The ‘Israel-First’ free market elite is spread across the entire ruling political spectrum, including ranking Democrats in Congress, led by Senate Minority leader Charles Schumer and the Democratic Head of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff. The Democratic Party Israel Firsters have allied with their free market brethren in pushing for investigations and mass media campaigns against Trump’s economic nationalist supporters and their eventual purge from the administration.

The Military Power Elite: The Generals

The military power elite has successfully taken over from the elected president in major decision-making. Where once the war powers rested with the President and the Congress, today a collection of fanatical militarists make and execute military policy, decide war zones and push for greater militarization of domestic policing. Trump has turned crucial decisions over to those he fondly calls ‘my Generals’ as he continues to dodge accusations of corruption and racism.

Trump appointed Four-Star General James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis (retired USMC) – a general who led the war in Afghanistan and Iraq – as Secretary of Defense. Mattis (whose military ‘glories’ included bombing a large wedding party in Iraq) is leading the campaign to escalate US military intervention in Afghanistan – a war and occupation that Trump had openly condemned during his campaign. As Defense Secretary, General ‘Mad Dog’ pushed the under-enthusiastic Trump to announce an increase in US ground troops and air attacks throughout Afghanistan. True to his much-publicized nom-de-guerre, the general is a rabid advocate for a nuclear attack against North Korea.

Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster (an active duty Three Star General and long time proponent of expanding the wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan) became National Security Adviser after the purge of Trump’s ally Lt. General Michael Flynn, who opposed the campaign of confrontation and sanctions against Russia and China. McMaster has been instrumental in removing ‘nationalists’ from Trumps administration and joins General ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis in pushing for a greater build-up of US troops in Afghanistan.

Lt. General John Kelly (Retired USMC), another Iraq war veteran and Middle East regime change enthusiast, was appointed White House Chief of Staff after the ouster of Reince Priebus.

The Administration’s Troika of three generals share with the neoliberal Israel First Senior Advisors to Trump, Stephen Miller and Jared Kushner, a deep hostility toward Iran and fully endorse Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s demand that the 2015 Nuclear Accord with Tehran be scrapped.

Trump’s military directorate guarantees that spending for overseas wars will not be affected by budget cuts, recessions or even national disasters.

The ‘Generals’, the Israel First free marketers and the Democratic Party elite lead the fight against the economic nationalists and have succeeded in ensuring that Obama Era military and economic empire building would remain in place and even expand.

The Economic Nationalist Elite

The leading strategist and ideologue of Trump’s economic nationalist allies in the White House was Steve Bannon. He had been chief political architect and Trump adviser during the electoral campaign. Bannon devised an election campaign favoring domestic manufacturers and American workers against the Wall Street and multinational corporate free marketers. He developed Trump’s attack on the global trade agreements, which had led to the export of capital and the devastation of US manufacturing labor.

Equally significant, Bannon crafted Trumps early public opposition to the generals’ 15-year trillion-dollar intervention in Afghanistan and the even more costly series of wars in the Middle East favored by the Israel-Firsters, including the ongoing proxy-mercenary war to overthrow the secular nationalist government of Syria.

Within 8 month of Trump’s administration, the combined forces of the free market economic and military elite, the Democratic Party leaders, overt militarists in the Republican Party and their allies in the mass media succeeded in purging Bannon – and marginalized the mass support base for his ‘America First’ economic nationalist and anti-‘regime change’ agenda.

The anti-Trump ‘alliance’ will now target the remaining few economic nationalists in the administration. These include: the CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who favors protectionism by weakening the Asian and NAFTA trade agreements and Peter Navarro, Chairman of the White House Trade Council. Pompeo and Navarro face strong opposition from the ascendant neoliberal Zionist troika now dominating the Trump regime.

In addition, there is Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, a billionaire and former director of Rothschild Inc., who allied with Bannon in threatening import quotas to address the massive US trade deficit with China and the European Union.

Another Bannon ally is US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer a former military and intelligence analyst with ties to the newsletter Breitbart. He is a strong opponent of the neoliberal, globalizers in and out of the Trump regime.

‘Senior Adviser’ and Trump speechwriter, Stephen Miller actively promotes the travel ban on Muslims and stricter restrictions on immigration. Miller represents the Bannon wing of Trump’s zealously pro-Israel cohort.

Sebastian Gorka, Trump’s Deputy Assistant in military and intelligence affairs, was more an ideologue than analyst, who wrote for Breitbart and rode to office on Bannon’s coat tails. Right after removing Bannon, the ‘Generals’ purged Gorka in early August on accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’.

Whoever remains among Trump’s economic nationalists are significantly handicapped by the loss of Steve Bannon who had provided leadership and direction. However, most have social and economic backgrounds, which also link them to the military power elite on some issues and with the pro-Israel free marketers on others. However, their core beliefs had been shaped and defined by Bannon.

The Business Power Elite

Exon Mobile CEO Rex Tillerson, Trump’s Secretary of State and former Texas Governor Rick Perry, Energy Secretary lead the business elite. Meanwhile, the business elite associated with US manufacturing and industry have little direct influence on domestic or foreign policy. While they follow the Wall Street free marketers on domestic policy, they are subordinated to the military elite on foreign policy and are not allied with Steve Bannon’s ideological core.

Trump’s business elite, which has no link to the economic nationalists in the Trump regime, provides a friendlier face to overseas economic allies and adversaries.

Analysis and Conclusion

The power elite cuts across party affiliations, branches of government and economic strategies. It is not restricted to either political party, Republican or Democratic. It includes free marketers, some economic nationalists, Wall Street power brokers and militarists. All compete and fight for power, wealth and dominance within this administration. The correlation of forces is volatile, changing rapidly in short periods of time – reflecting the lack of cohesion and coherence in the Trump regime.

Never has the US power elite been subject to such monumental changes in composition and direction during the first year of a new regime.

During the Obama Presidency, Wall Street and the Pentagon comfortably shared power with Silicon Valley billionaires and the mass media elite. They were united in pursuing an imperial ‘globalist’ strategy, emphasizing multiple theaters of war and multi-lateral free trade treaties, which was in the process of reducing millions of American workers to permanent helotry.

With the inauguration of President Trump, this power elite faced challenges and the emergence of a new strategic configuration, which sought drastic changes in US political economic and military policy.

The architect of the Trump’s campaign and strategy, Steve Bannon, sought to displace the global economic and military elite with his alliance of economic nationalists, manufacturing workers and protectionist business elites. Bannon pushed for a major break from Obama’s policy of multiple permanent wars to expanding the domestic market. He proposed troop withdrawal and the end of US military operations in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, while increasing a combination of economic, political and military pressure on China. He sought to end sanctions and confrontation against Moscow and fashion economic ties between the giant energy producers in the US and Russia.

While Bannon was initially the chief strategist in the White House, he quickly found himself faced with powerful rivals inside the regime, and ardent opponents among Democratic and Republican globalists and especially from the Zionist – neoliberals who systematically maneuvered to win strategic economic and policy positions within the regime. Instead of being a coherent platform from which to formulate a new radical economic strategy, the Trump Administration was turned into a chaotic and vicious ‘terrain for struggle’. The Bannon’s economic strategy barely got off the ground.

The mass media and operatives within the state apparatus, linked to Obama’s permanent war strategy, first attacked Trump’s proposed economic reconciliation with Russia. To undermine any ‘de-escalation’, they fabricated the Russian spy and election manipulation conspiracy. Their first successful shots were fired at Lt. General Michael Flynn, Bannon’s ally and key proponent for reversing the Obama/Clinton policy of military confrontation with Russia. Flynn was quickly destroyed and openly threatened with prosecution as a ‘Russian agent’ in whipped-up hysteria that resembled the heydays of Senator Joseph McCarthy.

Key economic posts in the Trump regime were split between the Israel-Firster neoliberals and the economic nationalists. The ‘Deal Maker’ President Trump attempted to harness Wall Street-affiliated neoliberal Zionists to the economic nationalists, linked to Trump’s working class electoral base, in formulating new trade relations with the EU and China, which would favor US manufacturers. Given the irreconcilable differences between these forces, Trump’s naïve ‘deal’ weakened Bannon, undermined his leadership and wrecked his nationalist economic strategy.

While Bannon had secured several important economic appointees, the Zionist neoliberals undercut their authority. The Fischer-Mnuchin-Cohn cohort successfully set a competing agenda.

The entire Congressional elite from both parties united to paralyze the Trump-Bannon agenda. The giant corporate mass media served as a hysterical and rumor-laden megaphone for zealous Congressional and FBI investigators magnifying every nuance of Trump’s US Russia relations in search of conspiracy. The combined state-Congressional and Media apparatus overwhelmed the unorganized and unprepared mass base of Bannon electoral coalition which had elected Trump.

Thoroughly defeated, the toothless President Trump retreated in desperate search for a new power configuration, turning his day-to-day operations over to ‘his generals’. The elected civilian President of the United States embraced his generals’ pursuit of a new military-globalist alliance and escalation of military threats foremost against North Korea, but including Russia and China. Afghanistan was immediately targeted for an expanded intervention.

Trump effectively replaced Bannon’s economic nationalist strategy with a revival Obama’s multi-war military approach.

The Trump regime re-launched the US attacks on Afghanistan and Syria –exceeding Obama’s use of drone attacks on suspected Muslim militants. He intensified sanctions against Russia and Iran, embraced Saudi Arabia’s war against the people of Yemen and turned the entire Middle East policy over to his ultra-Zionist Political Advisor (Real Estate mogul and son-in-law) Jared Kushner and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

Trump’s retreat turned into a grotesque rout. The Generals embraced the neoliberal Zionists in Treasury and the Congressional global militarists. Communication Directory Anthony Scaramucci was fired. Trump’s Chief of Staff General Joe Kelly purged Steve Bannon. Sebastian Gorka was kicked out.

The eight months of internal struggle between the economic nationalists and the neoliberals has ended: The Zionist-globalist alliance with Trump’s Generals now dominate the Power Elite.

Trump is desperate to adapt to the new configuration, allied to his own Congressional adversaries and the rabidly anti-Trump mass media.

Having all but decimated Trump’s economic nationalists and their program, the Power Elite then mounted a series of media-magnified events centering around a local punch-out in Charlottesville, Virginia between ‘white supremacists’ and ‘anti-fascists’. After the confrontation led to death and injury, the media used Trump’s inept attempt to blame both ‘baseball bat’-wielding sides, as proof of the President’s links to neo-Nazis and the KKK. Neoliberal and Zionists, within the Trump administration and his business councils, all joined in the attack on the President, denouncing his failure to immediately and unilaterally blame rightwing extremists for the mayhem.

Trump is turning to sectors of the business and Congressional elite in a desperate attempt to hold onto waning support via promises to enact massive tax cuts and deregulate the entire private sector.

The decisive issue was no longer over one policy or another or even strategy. Trump had already lost on all accounts. The ‘final solution’ to the problem of the election of Donald Trump is moving foreword step-by-step – his impeachment and possible arrest by any and all means.

What the rise and destruction of economic nationalism in the ‘person’ of Donald Trump tells us is that the American political system cannot tolerate any capitalist reforms that might threaten the imperial globalist power elite.

Writers and activists used to think that only democratically elected socialist regimes would be the target of systematic coup d’état. Today the political boundaries are far more restrictive. To call for ‘economic nationalism’, completely within the capitalist system, and seek reciprocal trade agreements is to invite savage political attacks, trumped up conspiracies and internal military take-overs ending in ‘regime change’.

The global-militarist elite purge of economic nationalists and anti-militarists was supported by the entire US left with a few notable exceptions. For the first time in history the left became an organizational weapon of the pro-war, pro-Wall Street, pro-Zionist Right in the campaign to oust President Trump. Local movements and leaders, notwithstanding, trade union functionaries, civil rights and immigration politicians, liberals and social democrats have joined in the fight for restoring the worst of all worlds: the Clinton-Bush-Obama/Clinton policy of permanent multiple wars, escalating confrontations with Russia, China, Iran and Venezuela and Trump’s deregulation of the US economy and massive tax-cuts for big business.

We have gone a long-way backwards: from elections to purges and from peace agreements to police state investigations. Today’s economic nationalists are labeled ‘fascists’; and displaced workers are ‘the deplorables’!

Americans have a lot to learn and unlearn. Our strategic advantage may reside in the fact that political life in the United States cannot get worse – we really have touched bottom and (barring a nuclear war) we can only look up.

-###-

James Petras is the author of four volume study of US – Israeli relations. The most recent is: The Politics of Empire: The US, Israel and the Middle East

On The Current International Zionist Smear Campaign

July 24, 2017  /  Gilad Atzmon

A Statement by Gilad Atzmon

“The criminalisation of political speech and activism against Israel has become one of the gravest threats to free speech in the west.” Glenn Greenwald 19.7.2017

Together with veteran Pink Floyd star Roger Waters and many other artists and thinkers worldwide, I am being subjected to an international smear campaign, orchestrated and promoted by various Zionist institutions that attempt to silence every form of legitimate dissent of Zionism and Israeli politics.

Video:  https://youtu.be/kaWRu0nvEr8

Local councils, clubs and festivals that promote my music or my thoughts around the world are being subjected to a barrage of emails sent in a clear and malicious attempt to slander me. In these emails I am called an ‘anti-Semite’, ‘bigot’, ‘racist’, ‘Holocaust denier’, and so on.

Obviously, there is no truth in any of this.  As a writer I have indeed criticised Israel and other manifestations of Jewish political exceptionalism, I critically analysed Zionism, Jewish politics, ideology and identity politics in general. I do believe that all states, ideologies and politics must be subject to criticism, but I have never criticized Jews (or anyone else for that matter) as people, as a race or as a biological entity. In fact, my work is deeply anti-racist and focuses only on the political and the cultural.

Unfortunately, there are some who are engaged in relentless censorship and book burning and we must never permit them to succeed. Intellectual freedom and tolerance are precious Western values which we must defend at all odds. So in case you feel the need to address some of those hateful operatives, here are a few points you might wish to take into account.

1.    From its day of inception, my own musical group, the Orient House Ensemble (OHE) has been a melting pot for artists of many different ethnicities and backgrounds, including Jewish, Black, Arab and Romani musicians – hardly a ‘bigoted’ setting.

2.    Despite increasingly tough ‘hate speech’ laws in the UK, Europe and the USA, I have never once been questioned by any law enforcement authority about any of my writings or public appearances. My views and thoughts are well within the strict boundaries of the law in the UK, EU and every other Western country.

3.    I have been accused of being a ‘Holocaust denier.’ This is clearly not the case. I do not deny the Holocaust, but I do insist that this chapter in our past should be treated not as a religion or dogma, but must, like all other events in the past, be subject to scrutiny and open discussion.  Despite Germany and Austria’s stringent Holocaust denial laws, my books and writing are translated and published in both countries and I perform and teach there regularly without ever being subjected to any legal issues.

4.    My work has been endorsed by some of the most respected humanists and scholars around. Here are just a few examples:
“A transformative story told with unflinching integrity that all (especially Jews) who care about real peace, as well as their own identity, should not only read, but reflect upon and discuss widely.” Professor Richard Falk United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Palestine

“Fascinating and provocative” Professor of Political Science, John J. Mearsheimer

“Atzmon has the courage – so profoundly lacking among Western intellectuals” Professor of Sociology, James Petras

“Gilad’s book constitutes an excellent critique of Identity Politics in general and Jewish Identity Politics in particular from a humanistic perspective.” Professor of International Law, Francis A. Boyle

Instead of King of the Jews. Perhaps Atzmon should be recognized as the prophet of old, At least in his self description and his outreach, this is the way he appears” Jewish theology Professor Marc Ellis

“A superb and necessary book that demystifies some “undeniable truths” about Jewish identity –
Gauden Sarasola, El Pais

“Atzmon’s essential contribution to solidarity with Palestine is to help non-Jews realize that they are not always in the wrong when conflicts with Jewish organizations arise.” Science Professor Jean Bricmont

“Gilad Atzmon’s book, The Wandering Who? is as witty and thought provoking as its title.  But it is also an important book, presenting conclusions about Jews, Jewishness and Judaism which some will find shocking but which are essential to an understanding of Jewish identity politics and the role they play on the world stage.” Publisher and Film Producer Karl Sabbagh

“Gilad’s escape from spiritual claustrophobia towards a free and open humanitarianism is fearless” Legendary Musician Robert Wyatt

“It is excellent from beginning to end.  very well-organized and well-articulated arguments.” Revolutionary Songwriter David Rovics

“In his inimitable deadpan style, Atzmon identifies the abscess in the Jewish wisdom tooth – exilic tribalism – and pulls it out. Ouch!” Eric Walberg, Al Aharam Weekly

“A brilliant analysis that makes what appear to be contradictions in Jewish identity based political behavior not only comprehensible but predictable.” Jeff Blankfort, Jewish Solidarity Campaigner

“A fascinating achievement” Law professor Oren Ben Dor,

“Gilad Atzmon is someone who encompasses what it means to be an intellectual.” Kim Petersen, Dissident Voice

Gilad Atzmon’s book Being In Time: A Post Political Manifesto is available now on: Amazon.co.ukAmazon.com and gilad.co.uk.   

Oligarchs Succeed! Only the People Suffer!

By James Petras

June 01, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – On a scale not seen since the ‘great’ world depression of the 1930’s, the US political system is experiencing sharp political attacks, divisions and power grabs. Executive firings, congressional investigations, demands for impeachment, witch hunts, threats of imprisonment for ‘contempt of Congress’ and naked power struggles have shredded the façade of political unity and consensus among competing powerful US oligarchs.

For the first time in US history, the incumbent elected president struggles on a daily basis to wield state power. The opposition-controlled state (National Public Radio) and corporate organs of mass propaganda are pitted against the presidential regime. Factions of the military elite and business oligarchy face off in the domestic and international arena. The oligarchs debate and insult each other. They falsify charges, plot and deceive. Their political acolytes, who witness these momentous conflicts, are mute, dumb and blind to the real interests at stake.

The struggle between the Presidential oligarch and the Opposition oligarchs has profound consequences for their factions and for the American people. Wars and markets, pursued by sections of the Oligarchs, have led opposing sections to seek control over the means of political manipulation (media and threats of judicial action).

Intense political competition and open political debate have nothing to do with ‘democracy’ as it now exists in the United States.

In fact, it is the absence of real democracy, which permits the oligarchs to engage in serious intra-elite warfare. The marginalized, de-politicized electorate are incapable of taking advantage of the conflict to advance their own interests.

What the ‘Conflict’ is Not About

The ‘life and death’ inter-oligarchical fight is not about peace!

None of the factions of the oligarchy, engaged in this struggle, is aligned with democratic or independent governments.

Neither side seeks to democratize the American electoral process or to dismantle the grotesque police state apparatus.

Neither side has any commitment to a ‘new deal’ for American workers and employees.

Neither is interested in policy changes needed to address the steady erosion of living standards or the unprecedented increase in ‘premature’ mortality among the working and rural classes.

Despite these similarities in their main focus of maintaining oligarchical power and policies against the interests of the larger population, there are deep divisions over the content and direction of the presidential regime and the permanent state apparatus.

What the Oligarchical Struggle is About

There are profound differences between the oligarch factions on the question of overseas wars and ‘interventions’.

The ‘opposition’ (Democratic Party and some Republican elite) pursues a continuation of their policy of global wars, especially aimed at confronting Russian and China, as well as regional wars in Asia and the Middle East. There is a stubborn refusal to modify military policies, despite the disastrous consequences domestically (economic decline and increased poverty) and internationally with massive ethnic cleansing, terrorism, forced migrations of war refugees to Europe, and famine and epidemics (such as cholera and starvation in Yemen).

The Trump Presidency appears to favor increased military confrontation with Iran and North Korea and intervention in Syria, Venezuela and Yemen.

The ‘Opposition’ supports multilateral economic and trade agreements, (such as TTP and NAFTA), while Trump favors lucrative ‘bilateral’ economic agreements. Trump relies on trade and investment deals with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates and the formation of an aggressive military ‘axis’ (US-Saudi Arabia-Israel -Gulf Emirates) to eventually overthrow the nationalist regime in Iran and divide the country.

The ‘Opposition’ pursues wars and violent ‘regime change’ to replace disobedient ‘tyrants’ and nationalists and set up ‘client governments’, which will provide bases for the US military empire. Trump’s regime embraces existing dictators, who can invest in his domestic infrastructure agenda.

The ‘opposition’ seeks to maximize the role of Washington’s global military power. President Trump focuses on expanding the US role in the global market.

While both oligarchical factions support US imperialism, they differ in terms of its nature and means.

For the ‘opposition’, every country, large or small, can be a target for military conquest. Trump tends to favor the expansion of lucrative overseas markets, in addition to projecting US military dominance.

Oligarchs: Tactical Similarities

The competition among oligarchs does not preclude similarities in means and tactics. Both factions favor increased military spending, support for the Saudi war on Yemen and intervention in Venezuela. They support trade with China and international sanctions against Russia and Iran. They both display slavish deference to the State of Israel and favor the appointment of openly Zionist agents throughout the political, economic and intelligence apparatus.

These similarities are, however, subject to tactical political propaganda skirmishes. The ‘Opposition’ denounces any deviation in policy toward Russia as ‘treason’, while Trump accuses the ‘Opposition’ of having sacrificed American workers through NAFTA.

Whatever the tactical nuances and similarities, the savage inter-oligarchic struggle is far from a theatrical exercise. Whatever the real and feigned similarities and differences, the oligarchs’ struggle for imperial and domestic power has profound consequence for the political and constitutional order.

Oligarchical Electoral Representation and the Parallel Police State

The ongoing fight between the Trump Administration and the ‘Opposition’ is not the typical skirmish over pieces of legislation or decisions. It is not over control of the nation’s public wealth. The conflict revolves around control of the regime and the exercise of state power.

The opposition has a formidable array of forces, including the national intelligence apparatus (NSA, Homeland Security, FBI, CIA, etc.) and a substantial sector of the Pentagon and defense industry. Moreover, the opposition has created new power centers for ousting President Trump, including the judiciary. This is best seen in the appointment of former FBI Chief Robert Mueller as ‘Special Investigator’ and key members of the Attorney General’s Office, including Deputy Attorney General Rob Rosenstein. It was Rosenstein who appointed Mueller, after the Attorney General ‘Jeff’ Session (a Trump ally) was ‘forced’ to recluse himself for having ‘met’ with Russian diplomats in the course of fulfilling his former Congressional duties as a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. This ‘recusal’ took significant discretionary power away from Trump’s most important ally within the Judiciary.

The web of opposition power spreads and includes former police state officials including mega-security impresario, Michael Chertoff (an associate of Robert Mueller), who headed Homeland Security under GW Bush, John Brennan (CIA), James Comey (FBI) and others.

The opposition dominates the principal organs of propaganda -the press (Washington Post, Financial Times, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal), television and radio (ABC, NBC, CBS and PBS/ NPR), which breathlessly magnify and prosecute the President and his allies for an ever-expanding web of unsubstantiated ‘crimes and misdemeanors’. Neo-conservative and liberal think tanks and foundations, academic experts and commentators have all joined the ‘hysteria chorus’ and feeding frenzy to oust the President.

The President has an increasingly fragile base of support in his Cabinet, family and closest advisers. He has a minority of supporters in the legislature and possibly in the Supreme Court, despite nominal majorities for the Republican Party.

The President has the passive support of his voters, but they have demonstrated little ability to mobilize in the streets. The electorate has been marginalized.

Outside of politics (the ‘Swamp’ as Trump termed Washington, DC) the President’s trade, investment, taxation and deregulation policies are backed by the majority of investors, who have benefited from the rising stock market. However, ‘money’ does not appear to influence the parallel state.

The divergence between Trumps supporters in the investment community and the political power of the opposition state is one of the most extraordinary changes of our century.

Given the President’s domestic weakness and the imminent threat of a coup d’état, he has turned to securing ‘deals’ with overseas allies, including billion-dollar trade and investment agreements.

The multi-billion arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates will delight the military-industrial complex and its hundreds of thousands of workers.

Political and diplomatic ‘kowtowing’ to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu should please some American Zionists.

But the meetings with the EU in Brussels and with the G7 in Siciliy failed to neutralize Trump’s overseas opposition.

NATO’s European members did not accept Trump’s demands that they increase their contribution to the alliance and they condemned his reluctance to offer unconditional US military support for new NATO members. They showed no sympathy for domestic problems.

In brief, the President’s overseas supporters, meetings and agreements will have little impact on the domestic correlation of forces.

Moreover, there are long-standing ties among the various state apparatuses and spy agencies in the EU and the US, which strengthen the reach of the opposition in their attacks on Trump.

While substantive issues divide the Presidential and Opposition oligarchs, these issues are vertical, not horizontal, cleavages – a question of ‘their’ wars or ‘ours’.

Trump intensified the ideological war with North Korea and Iran; promised to increase ground troops in Afghanistan and Syria; boosted military and advisory support for the Saudi invasion of Yemen; and increased US backing for violent demonstrations and mob attacks in Venezuela.

The opposition demands more provocations against Russia and its allies; and the continuation of former President Obama’s seven wars.

While both sets of oligarchs support the ongoing wars, the major difference is over who is managing the wars and who can be held responsible for the consequences.

Both conflicting oligarchs are divided over who controls the state apparatus since their power depends on which side directs the spies and generates the fake news.

Currently, both sets of oligarchs wash each other’s ‘dirty linen’ in public, while covering up for their collective illicit practices at home and abroad.

The Trump’s oligarchs want to maximize economic deals through ‘uncritical’ support for known tyrants; the opposition ‘critically’ supports tyrants in exchange for access to US military bases and military support for ‘interventions’.

President Trump pushes for major tax cuts to benefit his oligarch allies while making massive cuts in social programs for his hapless supporters. The Opposition supports milder tax cuts and lesser reductions in social programs.

Conclusion

The battle of the oligarchs has yet to reach a decisive climax. President Trump is still the President of the United States. The Opposition forges ahead with its investigations and lurid media exposés.

The propaganda war is continuous. One day the opposition media focuses on a deported student immigrant and the next day the President features new jobs for American military industries.

The emerging left-neo-conservative academic partnership (e.g. Noam Chomsky-William Kristol) has denounced President Trump’s regime as a national ‘catastrophe’ from the beginning. Meanwhile, Wall Street investors and libertarians join to denounce the Opposition’s resistance to major tax ‘reforms’.

Oligarchs of all stripes and colors are grabbing for total state power and wealth while the majority of citizens are labeled ‘losers’ by Trump or ‘deplorables’ by Madame Clinton.

The ‘peace’ movement, immigrant rights groups and ‘black lives matter’ activists have become mindless lackeys pulling the opposition oligarchs’ wagon, while rust-belt workers, rural poor and downwardly mobile middle class employees are powerless serfs hitched to President Trump’s cart.

Epilogue

After the blood-letting, when and if President Trump is overthrown, the State Security functionaries in their tidy dark suits will return to their nice offices to preside over their ‘normal’ tasks of spying on the citizens and launching clandestine operations abroad.

The media will blow out some charming tid-bits and ‘words of truth’ from the new occupant of the ‘Oval Office’.

The academic left will churn out some criticism against the newest ‘oligarch-in-chief’ or crow about how their heroic ‘resistance’ averted a national catastrophe.

Trump, the ex-President and his oligarch son-in-law Jared Kushner will sign new real estate deals. The Saudis will receive the hundreds of billions of dollars of US arms to re-supply ISIS or its successors and to rust in the ‘vast and howling’ wilderness of US-Middle East intervention. Israel will demand even more frequent ‘servicing’ from the new US President.

The triumphant editorialists will claim that ‘our’ unique political system, despite the ‘recent turmoil’, has proven that democracy succeeds … only the people suffer!

Long live the Oligarchs!

James Petras is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York.http://petras.lahaine.org

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

 

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China: Rise, Fall and Re-Emergence as a Global Power

The Lessons of History

First published on GR in March 2012

The study of world power has been blighted by Eurocentric historians who have distorted and ignored the dominant role China played in the world economy between 1100 and 1800.  John Hobson’s[1] brilliant historical survey of the world economy during this period provides an abundance of empirical data making the case for China ’s economic and technological superiority over Western civilization for the better part of a millennium prior to its conquest and decline in the 19th century.

China ’s re-emergence as a world economic power raises important questions about what we can learn from its previous rise and fall and about the external and internal threats confronting this emerging economic superpower for the immediate future.

First we will outline the main contours of historical China ’s rise to global economic superiority over West before the 19th century, following closely John Hobson’s account in The Eastern Origins of Western Civilization.  Since the majority of western economic historians (liberal, conservative and Marxist) have presented historical China as a stagnant, backward, parochial society, an “oriental despotism”, some detailed correctives will be necessary.  It is especially important to emphasize how China , the world technological power between 1100 and 1800, made the West’s emergence possible.  It was only by borrowing and assimilating Chinese innovations that the West was able to make the transition to modern capitalist and imperialist economies.

In part two we will analyze and discuss the factors and circumstances which led to China ’s decline in the 19th century and its subsequent domination, exploitation and pillage by Western imperial countries, first England and then the rest of Europe, Japan and the United States .

In part three, we will briefly outline the factors leading to China’s emancipation from colonial and neo-colonial rule and analyze its recent rise to becoming the second largest global economic power.

Finally we will look at the past and present threats to China ’s rise to global economic power, highlighting the similarities between British colonialism of the 18 and 19th centuries and the current US imperial strategies and focusing on the weaknesses and strengths of past and present Chinese responses.

China:  The Rise and Consolidation of Global Power 1100 – 1800

In a systematic comparative format, John Hobson provides a wealth of empirical indicators demonstrating China ’s global economic superiority over the West and in particular England .  These are some striking facts:

As early as 1078, China was the world’s major producer of steel (125,000 tons); whereas Britain in 1788 produced 76,000 tons.

China was the world’s leader in technical innovations in textile manufacturing, seven centuries before Britain ’s 18th century “textile revolution”.

China was the leading trading nation, with long distance trade reaching most of Southern Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe .  China’s ‘agricultural revolution’ and productivity surpassed the West down to the 18th century.

Its innovations in the production of paper, book printing, firearms and tools led to a manufacturing superpower whose goods were transported throughout the world by the most advanced navigational system.

China possessed the world’s largest commercial ships.  In 1588 the largest English ships displaced 400 tons, China ’s 3,000 tons.  Even as late as the end of the 18th century China ’s merchants employed 130,000 private transport ships, several times that of Britain . China retained this pre-eminent position in the world economy up until the early 19th century.

British and Europeans manufacturers followed China ’s lead, assimilating and borrowing its more advanced technology and were eager to penetrate China ’s advanced and lucrative market.

Banking, a stable paper money economy, manufacturing and high yields in agriculture resulted in China ’s per capita income matching that of Great Britain as late as 1750.

China ’s dominant global position was challenged by the rise of British imperialism, which had adopted the advanced technological, navigational and market innovations of China and other Asian countries in order to bypass earlier stages in becoming a world power[2].

Western Imperialism and the Decline of China

The British and Western imperial conquest of the East, was based on the militaristic nature of the imperial state, its non-reciprocal economic relations with overseas trading countries and the Western imperial ideology which motivated and justified overseas conquest.

Unlike China , Britain ’s industrial revolution and overseas expansion was driven by a military policy.  According to Hobson, during the period from 1688-1815 Great Britain was engaged in wars 52% of the time[3].  Whereas the Chinese relied on their open markets and their superior production and sophisticated commercial and banking skills, the British relied on tariff protection, military conquest, the systematic destruction of competitive overseas enterprises as well as the appropriation and plunder of local resources.  China ’s global predominance was based on ‘reciprocal benefits’ with its trading partners, while Britain relied on mercenary armies of occupation, savage repression and a ‘divide and conquer’ policy to foment local rivalries.  In the face of native resistance, the British (as well as other Western imperial powers) did not hesitate to exterminate entire communities[4].

Unable to take over the Chinese market through greater economic competitiveness, Britain relied on brute military power.  It mobilized, armed and led mercenaries, drawn from its colonies in India and elsewhere to force its exports on China and impose unequal treaties to lower tariffs.  As a result China was flooded with British opium produced on its plantations in India – despite Chinese laws forbidding or regulating the importation and sale of the narcotic.  China ’s rulers, long accustomed to its trade and manufacturing superiority, were unprepared for the ‘new imperial rules’ for global power.  The West’s willingness to use military power  to win colonies, pillage resources and recruit huge mercenary armies commanded by European officers spelt the end for China as a world power.

China had based its economic predominance on ‘non-interference in the internal affairs of its trading partners’.  In contrast, British imperialists intervened violently in Asia , reorganizing local economies to suit the needs of the empire (eliminating economic competitors including more efficient Indian cotton manufacturers) and seized control of local political, economic and administrative apparatus to establish the colonial state.

Britain ’s empire was built with resources seized from the colonies and through the massive militarization of its economy[5].  It was thus able to secure military supremacy over China .  China ’s foreign policy was hampered by its ruling elite’s excessive reliance on trade relations.  Chinese officials and merchant elites sought to appease the British and convinced the emperor to grant devastating extra-territorial concessions opening markets to the detriment of Chinese manufacturers while surrendering local sovereignty.  As always, the British precipitated internal rivalries and revolts further destabilizing the country.

Western and British penetration and colonization of China ’s market created an entire new class:  The wealthy Chinese ‘compradores’ imported British goods and facilitated the takeover of local markets and resources.  Imperialist pillage forced greater exploitation and taxation of the great mass of Chinese peasants and workers.  China ’s rulers were obliged to pay the war debts and finance trade deficits imposed by the Western imperial powers by squeezing its peasantry.  This drove the peasants to starvation and revolt.

By the early 20th century (less than a century after the Opium Wars), China had descended from world economic power to a broken semi-colonial country with a huge destitute population.  The principle ports were controlled by Western imperial officials and the countryside was subject to the rule by corrupt and brutal warlords.  British opium enslaved millions.

British Academics:  Eloquent Apologists for Imperial Conquest

The entire Western academic profession – first and foremost British  imperial historians – attributed British imperial dominance of Asia to English ‘technological superiority’ and China’s misery and colonial status to ‘oriental backwardness’, omitting any mention of the millennium of Chinese commercial and technical progress and superiority up to the dawn of the 19th century.  By the end of the 1920’s, with the Japanese imperial invasion, China ceased to exist as a unified country.  Under the aegis of imperial rule, hundreds of millions of Chinese had starved or were dispossessed or slaughtered, as the Western powers and Japan plundered its economy.  The entire Chinese ‘collaborator’ comprador elite were discredited before the Chinese people.

What did remain in the collective memory of the great mass of the Chinese people – and what was totally absent in the accounts of prestigious US and British academics – was the sense of China once having been a prosperous, dynamic and leading world power.  Western commentators dismissed this collective memory of China ’s ascendancy as the foolish pretensions of nostalgic lords and royalty – empty Han arrogance.

China Rises from the Ashes of Imperial Plunder and Humiliation:  The Chinese Communist Revolution

The rise of modern China to become the second largest economy in the world was made possible only through the success of the Chinese communist revolution in the mid-20th century.  The People’s Liberation ‘Red’ Army defeated first the invading Japanese imperial army and later the US imperialist-backed comprador led Kuomintang “Nationalist” army.  This allowed the reunification of China as an independent sovereign state.  The Communist government abolished the extra-territorial privileges of the Western imperialists, ended the territorial fiefdoms of the regional warlords and gangsters and drove out the millionaire owners of brothels, the traffickers of women and drugs as well as the other “service providers” to the Euro-American Empire.

In every sense of the word, the Communist revolution forged  the modern Chinese state.  The new leaders then proceeded to reconstruct an economy ravaged by imperial wars and pillaged by Western and Japanese capitalists.  After over 150 years of infamy and humiliation the Chinese people recovered their pride and national dignity.  These socio-psychological elements were essential in motivating the Chinese to defend their country from the US attacks, sabotage, boycotts, and blockades mounted immediately after liberation.

Contrary to Western and neoliberal Chinese economists, China ’s dynamic growth did not start in 1980.  It began in 1950, when the agrarian reform provided land, infrastructure, credits and technical assistance to hundreds of millions of landless and destitute peasants and landless rural workers. Through what is now called “human capital” and gigantic social mobilization, the Communists built roads, airfields, bridges, canals and railroads as well as the basic industries, like coal, iron and steel, to form the backbone of the modern Chinese economy.  Communist China’s vast free educational and health systems created a healthy, literate and motivated work force.  Its highly professional military prevented the US from extending its military empire throughout the Korean peninsula up to China ’s territorial frontiers.  Just as past Western scholars and propagandists fabricated a history of a “stagnant and decadent” empire to justify their destructive conquest, so too their modern counterparts have rewritten the first thirty years of Chinese Communist history, denying the role of the revolution in developing all the essential elements for a modern economy, state and society.  It is clear that China ’s rapid economic growth was based on the development of its internal market, its rapidly growing cadre of scientists, skilled technicians and workers and the social safety net which protected and promoted working class and peasant mobility were products of Communist planning and investments.

China ’s rise to global power began in 1949 with the removal of the entire parasitic financial, compradore and speculative classes who had served as the intermediaries for European, Japanese and US imperialists draining China of its great wealth.
China’s Transition to Capitalism

Beginning in 1980 the Chinese government initiated a dramatic shift in its economic strategy:  Over the next three decades, it opened the country to large-scale foreign investment; it privatized thousands of industries and it set in motion a process of income concentration based on a deliberate strategy of re-creating a dominant economic class of billionaires linked to overseas capitalists.  China ’s ruling political class embraced the idea of “borrowing” technical know-how and accessing overseas markets from foreign firms in exchange for providing cheap, plentiful labor at the lowest cost.

The Chinese state re-directed massive public subsidies to promote high capitalist growth by dismantling its national system of free public education and health care.  They ended subsidized public housing for hundreds of millions of peasants and urban factory workers and provided funds to real estate speculators for the construction of private luxury apartments and office skyscrapers. China ’s new capitalist strategy as well as its double digit growth was based on the profound structural changes and massive public investments made possible by the previous communist government.  China ’s private sector “take off” was based on the huge public outlays made since 1949.

The triumphant new capitalist class and its Western collaborators claimed all the credit for this “economic miracle” as China rose to become the world’s second largest economy.  This new Chinese elite have been less eager to announce China ’s world-class status in terms of brutal class inequalities, rivaling only the US .

China:  From Imperial Dependency to World Class Competitor

China ’s sustained growth in its manufacturing sector was a result of highly concentrated public investments, high profits, technological innovations and a protected domestic market.  While foreign capital profited, it was always within the framework of the Chinese state’s priorities and regulations.  The regime’s dynamic ‘export strategy’ led to huge trade surpluses, which eventually made China one of the world’s largest creditors especially for US debt.  In order to maintain its dynamic industries, China has required huge influxes of raw materials, resulting in large-scale overseas investments and trade agreements with agro-mineral export countries in Africa and Latin America .  By 2010 China displaced the US and Europe as the main trading partner in many countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America .

Modern China ’s rise to world economic power, like its predecessor between 1100-1800, is based on its gigantic productive capacity:  Trade and investment was governed by a policy of strict non-interference in the internal relations of its trading partners.  Unlike the US , China did initiate brutal wars for oil; instead it signed lucrative contracts.  And China does not fight wars in the interest of overseas Chinese, as the US has done in the Middle East for Israel .

The seeming imbalance between Chinese economic and military power is in stark contrast to the US where a bloated, parasitic military empire continues to erode its own global economic presence.

US military spending is twelve times that of China .  Increasingly the US military plays the key role shaping policy in Washington as it seeks to undercut China ’s rise to global power.

China’s Rise to World Power: Will History Repeat Itself?

China has been growing at about 9% per annum and its goods and services are rapidly rising in quality and value.  In contrast, the US and Europe have wallowed around 0% growth from 2007-2012.  China ’s innovative techno-scientific establishment routinely assimilates the latest inventions from the West (and Japan ) and improves them, thereby decreasing the cost of production.  China has replaced the US and European controlled “international financial institutions” (the IMF, World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank) as the principle lender in Latin America .  China continues to lead as the prime investor in African energy and mineral resources.  China has replaced the US as the principle market for Saudi Arabian, Sudanese and Iranian petroleum and it will soon replace the US as the principle market for Venezuela petroleum products.  Today China is the world’s biggest manufacturer and exporter, dominating even the US market, while playing the role of financial life line as it holds over $1.3 trillion in US Treasury notes.

Under growing pressure from its workers, farmers and peasants, China ’s rulers have been developing the domestic market by increasing wages and social spending to rebalance the economy and avoid the specter of social instability.  In contrast, US wages, salaries and vital public services have sharply declined in absolute and relative terms.

Given the current historical trends it is clear that China will replace the US as the leading world economic power, over the next decade,  if the US empire does not strike back and if China ’s profound class inequalities do not lead to a major social upheaval.

Modern China ’s rise to global power faces serious challenges.  In contrast to China ’s historical ascent on the world stage, modern Chinese global economic power is not accompanied by any imperialist undertakings.  China has seriously lagged behind the US and Europe in aggressive war-making capacity.  This may have allowed China to direct public resources to maximize economic growth, but it has left China vulnerable to US military superiority in terms of its massive arsenal, its string of forward bases and strategic geo-military positions right off the Chinese coast and in adjoining territories.

In the nineteenth century British imperialism demolished China ’s global position with its military superiority, seizing China ’s ports – because of China ’s reliance on ‘mercantile superiority’.

The conquest of India , Burma and most of Asia allowed Britain to establish colonial bases and recruit local mercenary armies.  The British and its mercenary allies encircled and isolated China , setting the stage for the disruption of China ’s markets and the imposition of the brutal terms of trade.  The British Empire’s armed presence dictated what China imported (with opium accounting for over 50% of British exports in the 1850s) while undermining China ’s competitive advantages via tariff policies.

Today the US is pursuing similar policies:  US naval fleet  patrols and controls China ’s commercial shipping lanes and off-shore oil resources via its overseas bases.  The Obama-Clinton White House is in the process of developing a rapid military response involving bases in Australia , Philippines and elsewhere in Asia .  The US is intensifying  its efforts to undermine Chinese overseas access to strategic resources while backing ‘grass roots’ separatists and ‘insurgents’ in West China, Tibet, Sudan, Burma, Iran, Libya, Syria and elsewhere.  The US military agreements with India and  the installation of a pliable puppet regime in Pakistan have advanced its strategy of isolating China .  While China upholds its policy of “harmonious development” and “non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries”, it has stepped aside as US and European military imperialism have attacked a host of China’s trading partners to essentially reverse China’s  peaceful commercial expansion.

China’s lack of a political and ideological strategy capable of protecting its overseas economic interests has been an invitation for the US and NATO to set-up regimes hostile to China .  The most striking example is Libya where US and NATO intervened to overthrow an independent government led by President Gadhafi, with whom China had signed multi-billion dollar trade and investments agreements. The NATO bombardment of Libyan cities, ports and oil installation forced the Chinese to withdraw 35,000 Chinese oil engineers and construction workers in a matter of days.  The same thing happened in Sudan where China had invested billions to develop its oil industry.  The US, Israel and Europe armed the South Sudanese rebels to disrupt the flow of oil and attack Chinese oil workers[6].  In both cases China passively allowed the US and European military imperialists to attack its trade partners and undermine its investments.

Under Mao Tse Tung, China had an active policy countering imperial aggression:  It supported revolutionary movements and independent Third World governments.  Today’s capitalist China does not have an active policy of supporting governments or movements capable of protecting China ’s bilateral trade and investment agreements.  China ’s inability to confront the rising tide of US   military aggression against its economic interests, is due to deep structural problems.  China’s foreign policy is shaped by big commercial, financial and manufacturing interests who rely on their ‘economic competitive edge’ to gain market shares and have no understanding of the military and security underpinnings of global economic power.  China ’s political class is deeply influenced by a new class of billionaires with strong ties to Western equity funds and who have uncritically absorbed Western cultural values. This is illustrated by their preference for sending their own children to elite universities in the US and Europe .  They seek “accommodation with the West” at any price.

This lack of any strategic understanding of military empire-building has led them to respond ineffectively and ad hoc to each imperialist action undermining their access to resources and markets.  While China ’s “business first” outlook may have worked when it was a minor player in the world economy and US empire builders saw  the “capitalist opening” as a chance to easily takeover China ’s public enterprises and pillage the economy.  However, when China (in contrast to the former USSR) decided to retain capital controls and develop a carefully calibrated, state directed “industrial policy”  directing western capital and the transfer of technology to state enterprises, which effectively penetrated the US domestic and overseas markets, Washington began to complain and talked of retaliation.

China ’s huge trade surpluses with the US provoked a dual response in Washington :  It sold massive quantities of US Treasury bonds to the Chinese and began to develop a global strategy to block China ’s advance. Since the US lacked economic leverage to reverse its decline, it relied on its only “comparative advantage” – its military superiority based on a world wide  system of attack bases,  a network of overseas client regimes, military proxies, NGO’ers, intellectuals and armed mercenaries.  Washington turned to its vast overt and clandestine security apparatus to undermine China ’s trading partners.  Washington depends on its long-standing ties with corrupt rulers, dissidents, journalists and media moguls to provide the powerful propaganda cover while advancing its military offensive against China ’s overseas interests.

China has nothing to compare with the US overseas ‘security apparatus’ because it practices a policy of “non-interference”.  Given the advanced state of the Western imperial offensive, China has taken only a few diplomatic initiatives, such as financing English language media outlets to present its perspective, using its veto power on the UN Security Council to oppose US efforts to overthrow the independent Assad regime in Syria and opposing the imposition of drastic sanctions against Iran .  It sternly repudiated US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s vitriolic questioning of the ‘legitimacy’ of the Chinese state when it voted against the US-UN resolution  preparing  an attack on Syria[7].

Chinese military strategists are more aware and alarmed at the growing military threat to China .  They have successfully demanded a 19% annual increase in military spending over the next five years (2011-2015)[8].  Even with this increase, China’s military expenditures will still be less than one-fifth of the US military budget and China has not one overseas military base in stark contrast to the over 750 US installations abroad.  Overseas Chinese intelligence operations are minimal and ineffective.  Its embassies are run by and for narrow commercial interests who utterly failed to understand NATO’s brutal policy of regime change in Libya and inform Beijing of its significance to the Chinese state.

There are two other structural weaknesses undermining China ’s rise as a world power. This includes the highly ‘Westernized’ intelligentsia which has uncritically swallowed US economic doctrine about free markets while ignoring its militarized economy.  These Chinese intellectuals parrot the US propaganda about the ‘democratic virtues’ of billion-dollar Presidential campaigns, while supporting financial deregulation which would have led to a Wall Street takeover of Chinese banks and savings.  Many Chinese business consultants and academics have been educated in the US and influenced by their ties to US academics and international financial institutions directly linked to Wall Street and the City of London .  They have prospered as highly-paid consultants receiving prestigious positions in Chinese institutions.  They identify the ‘liberalization of financial markets’ with “advanced economies” capable of deepening ties to global markets instead of as a major source of the current global financial crisis.  These “Westernized intellectuals” are like their 19th century comprador counterparts who underestimated and dismissed the long-term consequences of Western imperial penetration.  They fail to understand how financial deregulation in the US precipitated the current crisis and how deregulation would lead to a Western takeover of China ’s financial system- the consequences of which would reallocate China ’s domestic savings to non-productive activities (real estate speculation), precipitate financial crisis and ultimately undermine China ’s leading global position.

These Chinese yuppies imitate the worst of Western consumerist life styles and their political outlooks are driven by these life styles and Westernized identities which preclude any sense of solidarity with their own working class.

There is an economic basis for the pro-Western sentiments of China ’s neo-compradors.  They have transferred billions of dollars to foreign bank accounts, purchased luxury homes and apartments in London , Toronto , Los Angeles , Manhattan , Paris , Hong Kong and Singapore . They have one foot in China (the source of their wealth) and the other in the West (where they consume and hide their wealth).

Westernized compradores are deeply embedded in China ’s economic system having family ties with the political leadership in the party apparatus and the state. Their connections are weakest in the military and in the growing social movements, although some “dissident” students and academic activists in the “democracy movements” are backed by Western imperial NGO’s.  To the extent that the compradors gain influence, they weaken the strong economic state institutions which have directed China ’s ascent to global power, just as they did in the 19th century by acting as intermediaries for the British Empire .  Proclaiming 19th Century “liberalism” British opium addicted over 50 million Chinese in less than a decade.  Proclaiming “democracy and human rights” US gunboats now patrol off China ’s coast.  China ’s elite-directed rise to global economic power has spawned monumental inequalities between the thousands of new billionaires and multi-millionaires at the top and hundreds of millions of impoverished workers, peasants and migrant workers at the bottom.

China ’s rapid accumulation of wealth and capital was made possible through the intense exploitation of its workers who were stripped of their previous social safety net and regulated work conditions guaranteed under Communism.  Millions of Chinese households are being dispossessed in order to promote real estate developer/speculators who then build high rise offices and the luxury apartments for the domestic and foreign elite.  These brutal features of ascendant Chinese capitalism have created a fusion of workplace and living space mass struggle which is growing every year.  The developer/speculators’ slogan  “to get rich is wonderful” has lost its power to deceive the people.  In 2011 there were over 200,000 popular encompassing urban coastal factories and rural villages.  The next step, which is sure to come, will be the unification of these struggles into  new national social movements with a class-based agenda demanding the restoration of health and educational services enjoyed under the Communists as well as a greater share of China’s wealth. Current demands for greater wages can turn to demands for greater work place democracy.  To answer these popular demands China ’s new compradore-Westernized liberals cannot point to their ‘model’ in the US empire where American workers are in the process of being stripped of the very benefits Chinese workers are struggling to regain.

China , torn by deepening class and political conflict, cannot sustain its drive toward global economic leadership.  China ’s elite cannot confront the rising global imperial military threat from the US with its comprador allies among the internal liberal elite while the country is  a deeply divided society with an increasingly hostile working class.  The time of unbridled exploitation of China ’s labor has to end in order to face the US military encirclement of China and economic disruption of its overseas markets.  China possesses enormous resources.  With over $1.5 trillion dollars in reserves China can finance a comprehensive national health and educational program throughout the country.

China can afford to pursue an intensive ‘public housing program’ for the 250 million migrant workers currently living in urban squalor.  China can impose a system of progressive income taxes on its new billionaires and millionaires and finance small family farmer co-operatives and rural industries to rebalance the economy.  Their program of developing alternative energy sources, such as solar panels and wind farms – are a promising start to addressing their serious environmental pollution.  Degradation of the environment and related health issues already engage the concern of tens of millions.  Ultimately China ’s best defense against imperial encroachments is a stable regime based on social justice for the hundreds of millions and a foreign policy of supporting overseas anti-imperialist movements and regimes – whose independence are in China ’s vital interest.  What is needed is a pro-active policy based on mutually beneficial joint ventures including military and diplomatic solidarity.  Already a small, but influential, group of Chinese intellectuals have raised the issue of the growing US military threat and are “saying no to gunboat diplomacy”.[9]

Modern China has plenty of resources and opportunities, unavailable to China in the 19th century when it was subjugated by the British Empire . If the US continues to escalate its aggressive militaristic policy against China , Beijing can set off a serious fiscal crisis by dumping a few of its hundreds of billions of dollars in US Treasury notes.  China , a nuclear power should reach out to its similarly armed and threatened neighbor, Russia , to confront and confound the bellicose rantings of US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton.  Russian President-to-be Putin vows to increase military spending from 3% to 6% of the GDP over the next decade to counter Washington’s offensive missile bases on Russia’s borders and thwart Obama’s ‘regime change’ programs against its allies, like Syria[10].

China has powerful trading, financial and investment networks covering the globe as well as powerful economic partners .These links have become essential for the continued growth of many of countries throughout the developing world.  In taking on China , the US will have to face the opposition of many powerful market-based elites throughout the world.  Few countries or elites see any future in tying their fortunes to an economically unstable empire-based on militarism and destructive colonial occupations.

In other words, modern China , as a world power, is incomparably stronger than it was in early 18th century.  The US does not have the colonial leverage that the ascendant British Empire possessed in the run-up to the Opium Wars.  Moreover, many Chinese intellectuals and the vast majority of its citizens have no intention of letting its current “Westernized compradors” sell out the country.  Nothing would accelerate political polarization in Chinese society and hasten the coming of a second Chinese social revolution more than a timid leadership submitting to a new era of Western imperial pillage.

Notes

[1] John Hobson, The Eastern Origins of Western Civilization ( Cambridge UK :  Cambridge University Press 2004)
[2] Ibid, Ch. 9 pp. 190 -218
[3] Ibid, Ch. 11, pp. 244-248
[4] Richard Gott, Britain’s Empire:  Resistance, Repression and Revolt ( London : Verso 2011) for a detailed historical chronicle of the savagery accompanying Britain ’s colonial empire.
[5] Hobson, pp. 253 – 256.
[6] Katrina Manson, “South Sudan puts Beijing ’s policies to the test”, Financial Times, 2/21/12, p. 5.
[7] Interview of Clinton NPR, 2/26/12.
[8] La Jornada, 2/15/12 ( Mexico City ).
[9]  China Daily (2/20/2012)
[10]Charles Clover, ‘Putin vows huge boost in defense spending’, Financial Times, 2/12/2012

President Trump: Diplomacy and Democracy in America

Global Research, February 19, 2017
Donald Trump

By the end of the first month of President Trump’s Administration we are in a better position to evaluate the policies and direction of the new President.  An examination of foreign and domestic policy, particularly from a historical and comparative perspective will provide insights about whether America is heading for a catastrophe as the mass media claim or toward greater realism and rationality. 

We will proceed by examining whether Trump pursues diplomacy over warfare.  We will evaluate the President’s efforts to reduce US foreign debt and trade burdens with Europe and Asia .  We will follow with a discussion of his immigration and protectionist policies with Mexico .  Finally we will touch on the prospects for democracy in the United States.

Foreign Policy

President Trump’s meeting with the leaders of Japan , the United Kingdom and Canada were largely successful.  The Abe-Trump meeting led to closer diplomatic ties and a promise that Japan would increase their investment in automobile manufacturing in the US .  Trump may have improved trade relations by reducing the trade imbalances.  Trump and Abe adopted a moderate position on the North Korean missile test in the Sea of Japan , rejecting a further military build-up as the liberal-neo-con media demanded.

US-UK meeting, in the post-Brexit period, promised to increase trade.

Trump moved to improve relations with China , clearly backing the ‘single China ’ policy and proceeding to re-negotiate and re-balance trade relations.

The US backed the unanimous UN Security Council vote to condemn North Korea ’s missile launch.  Trump did not consider it a military threat or rising to the level of additional sanctions.

Trump’s policy of reconciliation with Russia in order to improve the war against Islamist terrorism has been stymied.  Led by the witch-hunting left liberal Senator Elizabeth Warren, neo-conservative militarists and Democrats pronounced Russia as the primary threat to US national security!

The rabid, ceaseless mass media blitz forced the resignation of Trump’s National Security Adviser, Ret. General Michael Flynn, on the basis of an 18th century law (the Logan Act) that prohibited private citizens from discussing policy with foreign leaders.  This law has never been implemented.  If it were enforced, hundreds of thousands of American citizens, most especially the big-wigs among the 51 ‘Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations’, as well as the foreign affairs editors of all major and minor US media outlets and foreign policy academics would be on the ‘chain-gangs’ with convicted drug dealers.  Never embarrassed by absurdity or by trivializing tragedy, this recent ‘Tempest in the Teapot’ has whipped up passionate calls by the media and Democratic Party operatives for a new ‘Nine-Eleven Style Investigation’ into General Flynn talks with the Russians.

Trump’s setback on his National Security Adviser Flynn has put the prospects for improved, less bellicose foreign affairs in danger.  It heightens the risk for a nuclear confrontations and domestic repression.  These dangers, including a domestic anti-Russian McCarthy-style purge of foreign policy ‘realists’, are exclusively the responsibility of the ultra-militarist Democratic Party-Neo-Conservative alliance.  None of this addresses the serious domestic socioeconomic problems.

Rebalancing Foreign Spending and Trade

Trump’s public commitment about rebalancing US relations with NATO, namely reducing the US share of funding, has already started.  Currently only five NATO members meet the required contribution.  Trump’s insistence on Germany , Italy , Spain , Canada , France and 18 other members fulfilling their commitments would add over $100 billion to NATO’s budget – reducing US foreign imbalances.

Of course, it would be far better for all if NATO was disbanded and the various nations re-allocate these many hundreds of billions of dollars for social spending and domestic economic development.

Trump has announced a major effort to reduce US trade imbalances in Asia .  Contrary to the claims, often made by foreign trade ‘experts’ in the mass media, China is not the only, or even the largest, among the ‘offenders’ in exploiting unbalanced trade with the US .

China ’s current account trade surplus is 5% of its GDP, while South Korea ’s is 8%, Taiwan ’s 15% and Singapore ’s is 19%.  Trump’s target is to reduce the US trade imbalances to $20 billion dollars with each country or 3% of GDP.  Trump’s quota of $100 billion dollars stands in marked contrast to the  ‘Asian Five’s’ (Japan, China, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore) current trade imbalance of $700 billion dollars in 2015, according to the International Monetary Fund.

In sum, Trump is moving to reduce external imbalances by 85% in order to increase domestic production and create jobs for US-based industries.

Trump and Latin America

Trump’s Latin America policy is focused primarily on Mexico and to a much lesser degree on the rest of the continent.

The White House’s biggest move has been to scuttle Obama’s Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership, which favored multi-national corporations exploiting Chile , Peru and Mexico ’s work force, as well as attracting the neo-liberal regimes in Argentina and Uruguay .  Trump inherits from President Obama numerous military bases in Colombia , Guantanamo , Cuba and Argentina.  The Pentagon has continued Obama’s ‘cold war’ with Venezuela – falsely accusing the Venezuelan Vice President of drug trafficking.

Trump has promised to alter US trade and immigration policy with Mexico .  Despite the widespread opposition to Trump’s immigration policy, he lags far behind Obama’s massive expulsion of immigrants from Mexico and Central America .  America ’s deportation champion was President Barack Obama, who expelled 2.2 million immigrants and their family members in eight years, or approximately 275,000 a month.  In his first month in office, President Trump has deported just one percent of Obama’s monthly average.

President Trump promises to re-negotiate NAFTA, imposing a tax on imports and enticing US multinational corporations to return and invest in America .

There are numerous hidden advantages for Mexico if it responds to Trump’s policies with its own ‘reciprocal protectionist’ economic measures.  Under NAFTA, 2 million Mexican farmers went into bankruptcy and billions of dollars have been spent importing (subsidized) rice, corn and other staples from the US .  A ‘Mexico First’ policy could open the door for a revival of Mexican agriculture for domestic consumption and export; this would also decrease out-migration of Mexican farm workers.  Mexico could re-nationalize its oil industry and invest in domestic refineries gaining billions of dollars and reducing imports of refined petroleum products from the US .  With an obligatory import-substitution policy, local manufacturing could increase the domestic market and employment.  Jobs would increase in the formal economy and reduce the number of unemployed youth recruited by the drug cartels and other criminal gangs.  By nationalizing the banks and controlling capital flows, Mexico could block the annual outflow of about $50 billion dollars of illicit funds.  National-popular policies, via reciprocity, would strengthen the election of new leaders who could begin to purge the corrupt police, military and political leadership.

In sum, while the Trump policies may cause some short-term losses, it can lead to substantial medium and long-term advantages for the Mexican people and nation.

Democracy

President Trump’s election has provoked a virulent authoritarian campaign threatening our democratic freedoms.

Highly coordinated and endless propaganda by all the major media and the two political parties have fabricated and distorted reports and encouraged elected representatives to savage Trump’s foreign policy appointees, forcing resignations and reversals of policy.  The forced resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn highlights the Democratic Party’s pro-war agenda against nuclear-armed Russia .  Liberal Senators, who once made grand speeches against ‘Wall Street’ and the ‘One Percent’, now demand Trump reject working with Russian President Putin against the real threat of ISIS while supporting the neo-Nazis in Ukraine .  Liberal icons openly push for sending more US warships in Asia to provoke China , while opposing Trump’s policy of favorably re-negotiating trade deals with Beijing .

There are many hidden dangers and advantages in this partisan political warfare.

Trump has exposed the systemic lies and distortions of the mass media, confirming the distrust held by a majority of Americans for the corporate news media.  The low opinion of the media, especially held by Americans in the economically devastated center of the country (those described by Hillary Clinton as the ‘deplorables’) is clearly matched by the media’s deep disdain for this huge portion of the electorate.  Indeed, the constant media chatter about how the evil ‘Russians’ had hacked the US presidential elections giving the victory to Donald Trump, is more likely a ‘dog whistle’ to mask their unwillingness to openly denounce the ‘poor whites’– including workers and rural Americans – who overwhelmingly voted for Trump.  This class and regional element goes a long way to explain the constant hysteria over Trump’s victory.  There is widespread fury among the elites, intellectuals and bureaucrats over the fact that Clinton’s big ‘basket of deplorables’ rejected the system and rejected its coiffured and manicured media mouthpieces.

For the first time there is a political debate over freedom of speech at the highest levels of government.   The same debate extends to the new President’s challenge from the enormous, uncontrolled police state apparatus (FBI, NSA, CIA, Homeland Security, etc..), which expanded massively under Barack Obama.

Trump’s trade and alliance policies have awakened the US Congress to debates over substantive issues rather than internal procedural quibbles.  Even Trump’s rhetorical policies have aroused mass demonstrations, some of which are bona fide, while others are bankrolled by billionaire supporters of the Democratic Party and its neo-liberal expansionist agenda, like the ‘Grand Sugar Daddy of the Color Revolutions’ George Soros.  It is a serious question whether this may provide an opening for genuine grass-roots democratic-socialist movements to organize and take advantage of the rift among the elite.

The bogus charges of ‘treasonous’ communication with the Russian Ambassador  against Trump’s National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, while still a civilian, and the convoking of the Logan Act against civilians discussing foreign policy with foreign governments, opens up the possibility of investigating legislators, like Charles Schumer and several hundred others, for discussing US strategic policy positions with Israeli officials…

Win or lose, the Trump Administration has opened a debate on the possibilities of peace with a nuclear superpower, a re-examination of the huge trade deficit and the necessity to stand-up for democracy against authoritarian threats from the so-called ‘intelligence community’ against an elected President.

Trump and the Class Struggle

The Trump socio-economic agenda has already set in motion powerful undercurrents of class conflict.  The media and political class have focused on conflicts over immigration, gender issues, and relations with Russia , NATO and Israel as well as intra-party politics.  These conflicts obscure deeper class antagonisms, which grow out of Trump’s radical economic proposals.

President Trump’s proposal to reduce the power of the federal regulatory and investigatory agencies, simplify and lower taxes, curtail spending on NATO, re-negotiate or scrap multilateral agreements and cut the budgets for research, health and education all seriously threaten the employment for millions of public sector workers and officials across the country.  Many of the hundreds of thousands of protestors at the women’s rallies and marches for immigration and education are public employees and their family members who are under economic threat.  What appears on the surface to be protests over specific cultural, identity or human rights issues are manifestations of a deeper and more extensive struggle between public sector employees and the agenda of a privatizing state, which draws its class support from small business people attracted by lower taxes and less regulatory burdens, as well as private ‘charter school’ officials and hospital administrators.

Trump’s protectionist measures, including export subsidies, pit the domestic manufacturers against multi-billion dollar importers of cheap consumer goods.

Trump’s proposals for deregulated oil, gas, timber, more agro-mineral exports and major infrastructure investments are supported by bosses and workers in those sectors.  This has provoked a sharp conflict with environmentalists, community-based workers and producers, indigenous peoples and their supporters.

Trump’s initial effort to mobilize domestic class forces opposed to continued budget-draining overseas warfare and in support of market relations-based empire building has been defeated by the combined efforts of the military-industrial complex, the intelligence apparatus and their supporters in a liberal-neo-conservative-militarist political elite coalition and their mass supporters.

The evolving class struggle has deepened and threatens to tear apart the constitutional order in two directions: The conflict can lead to an institutional crisis and toward the forceful ouster of an elected president and the installation of a hybrid regime, which will preserve the most reactionary programs of both sides of the class conflict.  Importers, investors and workers in extractive industries, supporters of privatized educations and healthcare, warmongers and members of the politicized security apparatus may take total control of the state.

On the other hand, if the class struggle can mobilize the public sector workers, workers in the commercial sector, the unemployed, the anti-war democrats and progressive IT entrepreneurs and employers dependent on skilled immigrants, as well as scientists and environmentalists into a massive movement willing to support a living wage and unify around common class interests, deep systemic change becomes possible.  In the medium term, the unification of these class movements can lead to a progressive hybrid regime.

President Trump: Nationalist Capitalism, An Alternative to Globalization?

Global Research, January 28, 2017
CIA-trump

During his inaugural speech, President Trump clearly and forcefully outlined the strategic political-economic policies he will pursue over the next four years.  Anti-Trump journalist, editorialists, academics and experts, who appear in the Financial Times, New York Times, Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal have repeatedly distorted and lied about the President’s program as well as his critique of existing and past policies.

We will begin by seriously discussing President Trump’s critique of the contemporary political economy and proceed to elaborate on his alternatives and its weaknesses.

President Trump’s Critique of the Ruling Class

The centerpiece of Trump’s critique of the current ruling elite is the negative impact of its form of globalization on US production, trade and fiscal imbalances and on the labor market.  Trump cites the fact that US industrial capitalism has drastically shifted the locus of its investments, innovations and profits overseas as an example of globalization’s negative effects.  For two decades many politicians and pundits have bemoaned the loss of well-paid jobs and stable local industries as part of their campaign rhetoric or in public meetings, but none have taken any effective action against these most harmful aspects of globalization.  Trump denounced them as “all talk and no action” while promising to end the empty speeches and implement major changes.

President Trump targeted importers who bring in cheap products from overseas manufacturers for the American market undermining US producers and workers.  His economic strategy of prioritizing US industries is an implicit critique of the shift from productive capital to financial and speculative capital under the previous four administrations.  His inaugural address attacking the elites who abandon the ‘rust belt’ for Wall Street is matched by his promise to the working class: “Hear these words!  You will never be ignored again.” Trump’s own words portray the ruling class ‘as pigs at the trough’ (Financial Times, 1/23/2017, p. 11)

Trump’s Political-Economic Critique

President Trump emphasizes market negotiations with overseas partners and adversaries.  He has repeatedly criticized the mass media and politicians’ mindless promotion of free markets and aggressive militarism as undermining the nation’s capacity to negotiate profitable deals.

President Trump’s immigration policy is closely related to his strategic ‘America First’ labor policy.  Massive inflows of immigrant labor have been used to undermine US workers’ wages, labor rights and stable employment.  This was first documented in the meat packing industry, followed by textile, poultry and construction industries.  Trump’s proposal is to limit immigration to allow US workers to shift the balance of power between capital and labor and strengthen the power of organized labor to negotiate wages, conditions and benefits.  Trump’s critique of mass immigration is based on the fact that skilled American workers have been available for employment in the same sectors if wages were raised and work conditions were improved to permit dignified, stable living standards for their families.

President Trump’s Political Critique

Trump points to trade agreements, which have led to huge deficits, and concludes that US negotiators have been failures.  He argues that previous US presidents have signed multi-lateral agreements, to secure military alliances and bases, at the expense of negotiating job-creating economic pacts.  His presidency promises to change the equation:  He wants to tear up or renegotiate unfavorable economic treaties while reducing US overseas military commitments and demands NATO allies shoulder more of their own defense budgets.  Immediately upon taking office Trump canceled the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and convoked a meeting with Canada and Mexico to renegotiate NAFTA.

Trump’s agenda has featured plans for hundred-billion dollar infrastructure projects, including building controversial oil and gas pipelines from Canada to the US Gulf.  It is clear that these pipelines violate existing treaties with indigenous people and threaten ecological mayhem.  However, by prioritizing the use of American-made construction material and insisting on hiring only US workers, his controversial policies will form the basis for developing well-paid American jobs.

The emphasis on investment and jobs in the US is a complete break with the previous Administration, where President Obama focused on waging multiple wars in the Middle East , increasing public debt and the trade deficit.

Trump’s inaugural address issued a stern promise: “The American carnage stops right now and stops right here!”  This resonated with a huge sector of the working class and was spoken before an assemblage of the very architects of four decades of job-destroying globalization.  ‘Carnage’ carried a double meaning:  Widespread carnage resulted from Obama and other administrations’ destruction of domestic jobs resulting in decay and bankruptcy of rural, small town and urban communities.  This domestic carnage was the other side of the coin of their policies of conducting endless overseas wars spreading carnage to three continents.  The last fifteen years of political leadership spread domestic carnage by allowing the epidemic of drug addiction (mostly related to uncontrolled synthetic opiate prescriptions) to kill hundreds of thousands of mostly young American’s and destroy the lives of millions.  Trump promised to finally address this ‘carnage’ of wasted lives.   Unfortunately, he did not hold ‘Big Pharma’ and the medical community responsible for its role in spreading drug addiction into the deepest corners of the economically devastated rural America .  Trump criticized previous elected officials for authorizing huge military subsidies to ‘allies’ while making it clear that his critique did not include US military procurement policies and would not contradict his promise to ‘reinforce old alliances’ (NATO).

Truth and Lies: Garbage Journalists and Arm Chair Militarists

Among the most outrageous example of the mass media’s hysteria about Trump’s New Economy is the systematic and vitriolic series of fabrications designed to obscure the grim national reality that Trump has promised to address.  We will discuss and compare the accounts published by ‘garbage journalists (GJ’s)’ and present a more accurate version of the situation.

The respectable garbage journalists of the Financial Timesclaim that Trump wants to ‘destroy world trade’.  In fact, Trumps has repeatedly stated his intention to increase international trade.  What Trump proposes is to increase US world trade from the inside, rather than from overseas.  He seeks to re-negotiate the terms of multilateral and bilateral trade agreements to secure greater reciprocity with trading partners.  Under Obama, the US was more aggressive in imposing trade tariffs that any other country in the OECD.

Garbage journalists label Trump as a ‘protectionist’,confusing his policies to re-industrialize the economy with autarky.  Trump will promote exports and imports, retain an open economy, while increasing the role of the US as a producer and exporter.. The US will become more selective in its imports.  Trump will favor the growth of manufacturing exporters and increase imports of primary commodities and advanced technology while reducing the import of automobiles, steel and household consumer products.

Trump’s opposition to ‘globalization’ has been conflated by the garbage journalists of the Washington Post as a dire threat to the ‘the post-Second World War economic order’.  In fact, vast changes have already rendered the old order obsolete and attempts to retain it have led to crises, wars and more decay.  Trump has recognized the obsolete nature of the old economic order and stated that change is necessary.

The Obsolete Old Order and the Dubious New Economy

At the end of the Second World War, most of Western Europe and Japan resorted to highly restrictive ‘protectionist’ industrial and monetary policies to rebuild their economies.  Only after a period of prolonged recovery did Germany and Japan carefully and selectively liberalize their economic policies.

In recent decades, Russia was drastically transformed from a powerful collectivist economy to a capitalist vassal-gangster oligarchy and more recently to a reconstituted mixed economy and strong central state.  China has been transformed from a collectivist economy, isolated from world trade, into the world’s second most powerful economy, displacing the US as Asia and Latin America ’s largest trading partner.

Once controlling 50% of world trade, the US share is now less than 20%.  This decline is partly due to the dismantling of its industrial economy when its manufacturers moved their factories abroad.

Despite the transformation of the world order, recent US presidents have failed to recognize the need to re-organize the American political economy.  Instead of recognizing, adapting and accepting shifts in power and market relations, they sought to intensify previous patterns of dominance through war, military intervention and bloody destructive ‘regime changes’ – thus devastating, rather than creating markets for US goods. Instead of recognizing China’s immense economic power and seek to re-negotiate trade and co-operative agreements, they have stupidly excluded China from regional and international trade pacts, to the extent of crudely bullying their junior Asian trade partners, and launching a policy of military encirclement and provocation in the South China Seas.  While Trump recognized these changes and the need to renegotiate economic ties, his cabinet appointees seek to extend Obama’s militarist policies of confrontation.

Under the previous administrations, Washington ignored Russia ’s resurrection, recovery and growth as a regional and world power.  When reality finally took root, previous US administrations increased their meddling among the Soviet Union’s former allies and set up military bases and war exercises on Russia ’s borders.  Instead of deepening trade and investment with Russia , Washington spent billions on sanctions and military spending – especially fomenting the violent putchist regime in Ukraine .  Obama’s policies promoting the violent seizure of power in Ukraine, Syria and Libya were motivated by his desire to overthrow governments friendly to Russia – devastating those countries and ultimately strengthening Russia’s will to consolidate and defend its borders and to form new strategic alliances.

Early in his campaign, Trump recognized the new world realities and proposed to change the substance, symbols, rhetoric and relations with adversaries and allies – adding up to a New Economy.

First and foremost, Trump looked at the disastrous wars in the Middle East and recognized the limits of US military power:  The US could not engage in multiple, open-ended wars of conquest and occupation in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia without paying major domestic costs.

Secondly, Trump recognized that Russia was not a strategic military threat to the United States .  Furthermore, the Russian government under Vladimir Putin was willing to cooperate with the US to defeat a mutual enemy – ISIS and its terrorist networks.  Russia was also keen to re-open its markets to the US investors, who were also anxious to return after years of the Obama-Clinton-Kerry imposed sanctions.  Trump, the realist, proposes to end sanctions and restore favorable market relations.

Thirdly, it is clear to Trump that the US wars in the Middle East imposed enormous costs with minimal benefits for the US economy.  He wants to increase market relations with the regional economic and military powers, like Turkey , Israel and the Gulf monarchies.

Trump is not interested in Palestine , Yemen , Syria or the Kurds – which do not offer much investment and trade opportunities.  He ignores the enormous regional economic and military power of Iran ,  Nevertheless Trump has proposed to re-negotiate the recent six-nation agreement with Iran in order to improve the US side of the bargain.  His hostile campaign rhetoricagainst Tehran may have been designed to placate Israel and its powerful domestic ‘Israel-Firsters’ fifth column.  This certainly came into conflict with his ‘America First’ pronouncements.  It remains to be seen whether Donald Trump will retain a ‘show’ of submission to the Zionist project of an expansionist Israel while proceeding to include Iran as a part of his regional market agenda.

The Garbage Journalists claim that Trump has adopted a new bellicose stance toward China and threatens to launch a ‘protectionist agenda’, which will ultimately push the trans-Pacific countries closer to Beijing .  On the contrary, Trump appears intent on renegotiating and increasing trade via bilateral agreements.

Trump will most probably maintain, but not expand, Obama’s military encirclement of China ’s maritime boundaries which threaten its vital shipping routes.  Nevertheless, unlike Obama, Trump will re-negotiate economic and trade relations with Beijing – viewing China as a major economic power and not a developing nation intent on protecting its ‘infant industries’.  Trump’s realism reflect the new economic order:  China is a mature, highly competitive, world economic power, which has been out-competing the US , in part by retaining its own state subsidies and incentives from its earlier economic phase.  This has led to significant imbalances.  Trump, the realist, recognizes that China offers great opportunities for trade and investment if the US can secure reciprocal agreements, which lead to a more favorable balance of trade.

Trump does not want to launch a ‘trade war’ with China , but he needs to restore the US as a major ‘exporter’ nation in order to implement his domestic economic agenda.  The negotiations with the Chinese will be very difficult because the US importer-elite are against the Trump agenda and side with the Beijing ’s formidable export-oriented ruling class.

Moreover, because Wall Street’s banking elite is pleading with Beijing to enter China ’s financial markets, the financial sector is an unwilling and unstable ally to Trump’s pro-industrial policies.

Conclusion

Trump is not a ‘protectionist’, nor is he opposed to ‘free-trade’.  These charges by the garbage journalists are baseless.  Trump does not oppose US economic imperialist policies abroad.  However, Trump is a market realist who recognizes that military conquest is costly and, in the contemporary world context, a losing economic proposition for the US .  He recognizes that the US must turn from a predominant finance and import economy to a manufacturing and export economy.

Trump views Russia as a potential economic partner and military ally in ending the wars in Syria , Iraq , Afghanistan and Ukraine , and especially in defeating the terrorist threat of ISIS .  He sees China as a powerful economic competitor, which has been taking advantage of outmoded trade privileges and wants to re-negotiate trade pacts in line with the current balance of economic power.

Trump is a capitalist-nationalist, a market-imperialist and political realist, who is willing to trample on women’s rights, climate change legislation, indigenous treaties and immigrant rights.  His cabinet appointments and his Republican colleagues in Congress are motivated by a militarist ideology closer to the Obama-Clinton doctrine than to Trumps new ‘America First’ agenda.  He has surrounded his Cabinet with military imperialists, territorial expansionists and delusional fanatics.

Who will win out in the short or long term remains to be seen.  What is clear is that the liberals, Democratic Party hacks and advocates of Little Mussolini black shirted street thugs will be on the side of the imperialists and will find plenty of allies among and around the Trump regime.

 

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