Finance Capitalism versus Industrial Capitalism: The Rentier Resurgence and Takeover

August 10, 2021

Finance Capitalism versus Industrial Capitalism: The Rentier Resurgence and Takeover

Publication by Michael Hudson : Sage Journals

Abstract

Marx and many of his less radical contemporary reformers saw the historical role of industrial capitalism as being to clear away the legacy of feudalism—the landlords, bankers, and monopolists extracting economic rent without producing real value. However, that reform movement failed. Today, the finance, insurance, and real estate (FIRE) sector has regained control of government, creating neo-rentier economies.

The aim of this postindustrial finance capitalism is the opposite of industrial capitalism as known to nineteenth-century economists: it seeks wealth primarily through the extraction of economic rent, not industrial capital formation.

Tax favoritism for real estate, privatization of oil and mineral extraction, and banking and infrastructure monopolies add to the cost of living and doing business. Labor is increasingly exploited by bank debt, student debt, and credit card debt while housing and other prices are inflated on credit, leaving less income to spend on goods and services as economies suffer debt deflation.

Today’s new Cold War is a fight to internationalize this rentier capitalism by globally privatizing and financializing transportation, education, health care, prisons and policing, the post office and communications, and other sectors that formerly were kept in the public domain. In Western economies, such privatizations have reversed the drive of industrial capitalism. In addition to monopoly prices for privatized services, financial managers are cannibalizing industry by leveraging debt and high-dividend payouts to increase stock prices.

1. Introduction
2. Marx’s View of the Historical Destiny of Capitalism: To Free Economies from Feudalism
3. Capitalism’s Alliance of Banks with Industry to Promote Democratic Political Reform
4. The Banking Sector Lobbies against the Real Estate Sector, 1815–1846
5. The Alliance of Banking with Real Estate and Other Rent-Seeking Sectors
6. The Rentier Squeeze on Budgets: Debt Deflation as a Byproduct of Asset-Price Inflation
7. Finance Capital’s Fight to Privatize and Monopolize Public Infrastructure
8. Finance Capitalism Impoverishes Economies while Increasing Their Cost Structure
9. Today’s New Cold War Is a Fight by Finance Capitalism against Industrial Capitalism
10. Summary: Finance Capital as Rent-Seeking
11. Some Final Observations: Financial Takeover of Industry, Government, and Ideology

Read complete Paper

The West, Eurasia, and the Global South: The Development of Underdevelopment

The West, Eurasia, and the Global South: The Development of Underdevelopment

August 01, 2021

By Francis Lee for the Saker Blog

‘The dependency thesis, like all good (and great) theories can be summed up in a single phrase: Modern ‘’underdevelopment’’ is not ‘’historical backwardness’’ the result of late and insufficient development; it is the product of capitalist development, which is polarizing by nature’. (Andre Gunder Frank -1996.)

The leader of the UK Conservative Party, Mrs Thatcher, first came to power in the UK in 1979 with a brief to end the post-war consensus which had prevailed from the Labour party victory in 1945. Although Labour lost the ensuing elections from 1951-1963, the Conservative Party nonetheless adopted many of Labour’s social-democratic policies, particularly the economic policies, which characterised the post-war years. The same process was to take place when Ronald Reagan established a similar ascendency in the United States. The Thatcher-Reagan duo was born and was to terminate the post-war settlement in both the UK and the US.

Theories were put forward by economic luminaries on both sides of the Atlantic, but particularly by Milton Friedman at the University of Chicago. The notion that there existed a magic panacea that would banish all the problems associated with the failing British and American economic policies of 1945-1979, formed the basis of the Thatcher-Reagan economic radicalism, which was to be followed by the Blair-Clinton consolidation of the 1990s. The so-called ‘supply-side’ revolution consisted of removing all the controls which undergirded capitalism, and which had been painstakingly put in place during the course of the 20th century, and simply letting the system find its own level. Privatisation, deregulation, and liberalisation were the components in this policy paradigm.

Of course none of this is news; it had been the staple of the West’s chattering classes in the late 20th century. But its effects were more than restricted to the North Atlantic bloc and was to have a global impact changing the political and economic policies and structures of the whole world.

NEO-LIBERALISM & GLOBALIZATION

­In international terms ‘free’-trade as it was known was at the heart of the system – a system, which was later to become known as globalization, packaged and sold as an irresistible force of nature. Globalization was considered to be neo-liberalism writ large. But on the contrary, a more nuanced interpretation was to be put forward by one of the more astute commentators on the issue.

‘’The standard and most popular narrative is of globalization as the twin of neo-liberalism, expressing the market-fundamentalist view that state-intervention is bad for the economy. It is argued that the state interferes too much with the self-regulating power of the markets, thereby undermining prosperity. This perspective would explain why Alan Greenspan regarded it as fortunate that globalization was rendering the government as being redundant. We call this the anti-state narrative. An alternative narrative is actually considerably more germane: an anti-politics, specifically an anti-mass politics narrative. Greenspan’s statement incorporated the conventional presumption that the West has reached the frontiers of traditional politics: politics has lost its efficacy in the face of global forces. As a result, especially economic policy, is now pretty irrelevant if not actually detrimental, because everything is driven by – determined by – the impersonal force of globalisation. (1) So it is argued.

It was of course taken as axiomatic that free-trade – a vital component in the new economic paradigm – was always and everywhere the best policy. This conventional wisdom was to become known as the ‘Washington Consensus’ and was given a legitimating cachet by political, business, and academic elites around the world. However many of the elements – if not all – of the Washington Consensus where hardly new, many date back to the 18th and 19th centuries and perhaps beyond. It could be said that the newly emergent mainstream orthodoxy represented a caricature of an outdated and somewhat dubious political economy.

The free-trade canon is, of course, spoken of in almost reverential terms. It is as jealously guarded by the economics priesthood in Wall Street and the City of London and of course academia. In short, the theory is based upon a type of formal logic expounded by the early pioneers of political economy, viz., Adam Smith and David Ricardo; and in particular in Ricardo’s magnum opus, The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation first published in 1817. Briefly he argued that nations should specialise in what they do best and in that way world output would be maximised. The hypothetical example he used was England and Portugal and the production of wine and cloth, where he calculated that England should produce cloth and Portugal should produce wine. It was asserted, although no evidence was ever presented, that all would gain from this international division of labour.

However, even a cursory glance at economic history, and particularly the transition from agrarian to industrial societies, demonstrates the weaknesses, and indeed serves to falsify the whole Ricardian model – taken as a model of development. The brute historical fact is that every nation which has successfully embarked upon this transition, including most importantly the US and Germany, has done so adopting catch-up policies which were the exact opposite of those advocated by the free-trade school. (2)

In the world of actually existing capitalism free-trade is the exception rather than the rule. Contemporary free-trade is mainly a matter of intra-firm trading, that is to say, global companies trading with their own subsidiaries and affiliates mainly for tax avoidance purposes, transfer pricing for example. Next come the regional trading blocs – the EU, NAFTA, (which was superseded by the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement USMCA) and Mercosur (in Latin America). With regard to Mercosur there is no common currency as is the case in most of the EU. Thirdly there is barter trade where goods and services are exchanged for other goods and services rather than money. Finally only about 20% of world trade can at most be considered free trade, and even here there are exceptions involving bilateral specifications and agreements.

INTERVENTIONISM

Modernisation and industrialisation, wherever it took place, involved tariffs, non-tariff barriers (3) infant industry protection, export subsidies, import quotas, grants for Research and Development (R&D), patents, currency manipulation, mass education and so forth – a smorgasboard of interventionist policies whereby the economy was directed from above by the state. For example, during its period of industrialisation, the United States erected tariff walls to keep out foreign (mainly British) goods with the intention of nurturing nascent US industries. US tariffs (in percentages of value) ranged from 35% to almost 50% during the period 1820-1931, and the US itself only became in any sense a free trading nation after WW2, that is once its financial and industrial hegemony had been established.

In Europe laissez-faire policies were also eschewed. In Germany in particular tariffs were lower than those in the US, but the involvement of the German state in the development of the economy was decidedly hands on. Again there was the by now standard policy of infant industry protection, and this was supplemented by an array of grants from the central government including scholarships to promising innovators, subsidies to competent entrepreneurs, and the organisation of exhibitions of new machinery and industrial processes. In addition ‘’during this period Germany pioneered modern policy, which was important in maintaining social peace – and thus promoting and encouraging social investment – in a newly unified country.’’ (4)

This path from under-development to modern industrial development, a feature of historical and dynamic economic growth and expansion which has taken place in the US, Europe, and East Asia is not a ‘natural’ progression, it was a matter of state policy. It has been the same everywhere that it has been applied. That being said the Ricardian legacy still prevails. But this legacy takes on the form of a free-floating ideology with little connexion to either practical policy prescriptions or the real world.

Turning to the real world it can be seen, by all of those who have eyes to see, that, ‘’ … history shows that symmetric free-trade between nations of approximately the same level of development, benefits both parties.’’ However, ‘’ … asymmetric trade will lead to the poor nation specialising in being poor, whilst the rich nation will specialise in being rich. To benefit from free-trade, the poor nation must rid itself of its international specialisation of being poor. For 500 years this has not happened anywhere without any market intervention.’’ (5)

GLOBAL ECONOMIC ASYMMETRY

This asymmetry in the global system is both cause and consequence of globalization. It should be borne in mind that the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are the providers of cheap raw material inputs to the industrial countries of North America, Western Europe and East Asia. In technological terms the LDC’s find themselves locked into low value-added, dead-end production where no discernible technology transfer takes place. Thus under-development is a structural characteristic of globalization, not some unfortunate accident. Put another way,

‘’ … If rich nations (the North) as the result of historical tendencies (i.e., colonialism – FL) are relatively well-endowed with vital resources of capital, entrepreneurial ability, and skilled labour, their continued specialisation in products and processes that use these resources intensively can create the necessary conditions for their further growth. By contrast LDCs (the global South) endowed with abundant supplies of cheap unskilled labour, by intentionally specialising in products which use cheap, unskilled labour … often find themselves locked into a stagnant situation which perpetuates their comparative advantage in unskilled unproductive activities. This in turn inhibits the domestic growth of needed capital, and technical skills. Static efficiency becomes dynamic inefficiency, and a cumulative process is set in motion in which trade exacerbates already unequal trading relationships, distributes benefits largely to the people who are already well off, and perpetuates the physical and human resource under-development that characterises most poor nations. (6)

Examples of these unequal economic relationships are not difficult to find. US global trade policy was openly based upon a ‘Me Tarzan, you Jane’ set up. America’s trade ‘partners’ were somewhat less endowed with both political and economic capital compared with their senior trading associate – this fact provides a number of typical case studies in this connexion.

Agriculture was always a particular example of the double standard inherent in the trade liberalization agenda. The United States always insisted that other countries reduce their barriers to American products and eliminate subsidies for those products which competed against theirs. However, the US kept up barriers for the goods produced by the developing countries whilst it continued to underwrite massive subsidies for their own producers.

Agricultural subsidies encouraged American farmers to produce more output, forcing down global prices for the crops that poor developing countries produce and depend upon. For example, subsidies for one crop alone, cotton, went to 25,000 mostly very well-off US farmers, exceeded in value the cotton that was produced, lowering the global price of cotton enormously. American farmers, who account for a third of global output, despite the fact that US production costs twice the international price of 42 cents per pound, gained at the expense of the 10 million African farmers in Mali, West Africa, who depended on cotton for their meagre living. Several African countries lost between 1 and 2 percent of their entire income, an amount greater than what these particular countries received in foreign aid from the US. The state of Mali received US$37 million in aid but lost US$43 million from depressed cotton prices.

In other grubby little deals the US tried to keep out Mexican tomatoes, and Mexican trucks, Chinese honey, and Ukrainian women’s coats. Whenever an American industry is threatened, the US authorities swing into action, using so-called fair-trade laws, which had been largely blessed by the Uruguay Round.

Such Treaties were little more than a con game between two grossly unequal partners where one of the partners holds all the cards. Nor does it end there. Transnational Companies can and do avoid much local taxation by shifting profits to subsidiaries in low-tax venues by artificially inflating the price which they pay for their intermediate products purchased from these same subsidiaries so as to lower their stated profits. This phenomenon is usually called ‘transfer pricing’ and is a common practice of Transnational Companies (TNCs), one over which host governments can exert little control as long as corporate tax rates differ from one country to the next.

It should also be borne in mind that although the IMF and World Bank enjoin LDCs to adopt market liberalisation policies they apparently see – or conveniently ignore – the past and current mercantilist practices of developed nations. Agriculture, as has been noted, is massively subsidised in both NAFTA and the EU. But it really is a question of don’t do what I do – do as I say.

The hypocrisy at the heart of the problem represents the elephant in the room. We know that countries which attempt to open their markets when they are not ready to do so usually pay a heavy price (Russia during the Yeltsin period and the shock therapy for example). The countries which protect their growing industries until they are ready to trade on world markets – e.g. South Korea –have been the successes, even in capitalist terms. The wave of development during the 19th century and the development of East Asia in the 20th bears witness to this.

NOT IN THE DEVELOPMENT BUSINESS

But the object of the free-trade rhetoric and finger-wagging posture of the developed world is precisely to maintain the status quo. We should be aware that … ‘’Transnational Corporations are not in the development business; their objective is to maximise their return on capital. TNCs seek out the best profit opportunities and are largely unconcerned with issues such as poverty, inequality, employment conditions, and environmental problems.’’ (7)

Given the regulatory capture of the political structures in the developed world by powerful business interests, it seems that this situation is likely to endure for the foreseeable future. Development will only come about when the LDCs take their fate into their own hands and emulate the national building strategies of East Asia.

‘’…markets have a strong tendency to reinforce the status quo. The free market dictates that countries should stick to what they are good at. Stated bluntly, this means that poor countries are supposed to continue with the current practices in low-productivity, low-value added, and low research-intensive activities. But engagement in these activities is exactly what makes them poor in the first place. If they want to leave poverty behind, they have to defy the market and do the more difficult things that bring them higher income and development – there are no two ways about it.’’ (8)

APPENDIX

THE RUSSIAN ROAD.

The legacy of the Yeltsin years had left Russia badly exposed to a triumphalist Western US/EU/NATO bloc. The NATO expansion up to Russia’s western frontiers posed a serious threat to Russia’s security. Internationally Russia was relatively isolated. The socialist political and economic alliances (Warsaw Pact and Comecon) were disbanded, and their previous commercial and economic networks were dismantled. The Russian Federation was excluded from membership of the European Union and was not (yet) a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). This was the background for the widespread popular support for the assertive policy of President Putin.

But the geopolitical situation was to say the least – challenging. For his part Putin objected to NATO’s deployment of missiles in Poland and Romania pointed directly at Russia. In 1999 the Visegrad countries, Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary, joined NATO and in 2004 they were joined by Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. All these states joined in 2009. Albania and Croatia joined in the same year. Economically, politically and militarily, the ‘’West’’ had arrived at Russia’s borders.

In addition to its external enemies Russia had an abundance of internal foes. This latter group was a product of the Yeltsin model and prior to this a tottering bureaucratic system which barely worked and ultimately collapsed. It was possible to distinguish two main groups which, for better or worse, undermined the Soviet system, which were identified as 1. The Administrative Class, and 2. The Acquiring Class, to which should be added the black-market entrepreneurs who were keen to emulate their western business icons in addition to the American mafia. Powerful reactionary and criminal elements in Russia were keen to bring about deep-rooted changes at the expense of the Russian people.

‘’Ostensibly the reforms in Russia were overseen by a group of senior state officials headed by one Yegor Gaidar and advised, supported and encouraged by senior figures from the US administration, as well as by various American ‘experts.’ But according to an American scholar, Janine Wedel, the Russian reforms were worked out in painstaking detail by a handful of specialists from Harvard University, with close ties to the American government, and were implemented in Russia through the politically dominant ‘Chubais Clan’. (Wedel – 2001). Chubais was officially reported as having engaged foreign consultants including officers of the CIA, to fill leading roles in the State Property Committee. Jonathan Hay, citizen of the USA and Officer in the CIA, was appointed director of the Foreign Technical Aid and Expertise Section and Deputy to the chairperson of the committee (Anatoliy Chubais) within the Expert Commission. The Expert Commission was empowered to review draft decrees of the president of Russia to review for the decisions by the government and instructions by the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the State Property Committee of the Russian Federation of the details of privatisation in various sectors of the economy … The memoirs of Strove Talbott, Assistant to the US President William Jefferson Clinton on Russian affairs, left no doubt that the US administration viewed (the then) Russian President, Boris Yeltsin, as a reliable conduit for its interests in Russia.

The US neo-liberal economists Jeffrey Sachs and Andrei Shleifer, and Jonathan Hay, had an unprecedented degree of influence over Russia’s economic policy which was unparalleled for a sovereign state. Together with Gaidar and Chabais they formulated decisions that were inserted directly into Presidential decrees … Analysis shows that the implementation of Russian reforms organically combined an aspiration by Soviet bureaucrats to transform themselves from State functionaries into private property owners, and a desire on the part of the ruling elites in the West to impose their own system of values on their historical rival. It was thus inappropriate to speak of Russia and its neighbours in the CIS as having been independent in their conduct of radical economic reforms, and this very lack of independence was crucial for determining the strategy applied in these transformations.’’ (9)

Be that as it may, the damage to Russia carried out and orchestrated by both internal and external enemies was to push back Russian development at least two decades, if not more. Russia has been described by various informed opinion as being a ‘semi-peripheral economy’ and there is some truth in this, its main exports being raw materials and military and defence hardware. But this was a choice forced upon Russia by the US-western alliance. At the turn of the 19/20 century Russia needed to defend itself from western aggression. There were two absolute priorities. Agricultural security and military security. This was the sine qua non for Russia’s continued survival and development. The mixed economy – a characteristic of the western economic models, was for the moment, out of reach. But then the west started to run into its own problems, so things began to balance, particularly with the emergence of the Russian-Chinese alliance. However, the Yeltsin period which had produced a crop of cronies, co-conspirators, criminal and mafia elements, are still hidden in the shadows, often in very high places. The struggle goes on. La Lotta Continua.

NOTES

(1) Phillip Mullan – Beyond Confrontation – p.36

(2) These economic policies as advocated by Alexander Hamilton in the US. In the month of January of 1791, the Secretary of Treasury to the then President George Washington’s administration, Mr. Alexander Hamilton, proposed a seemingly innocuous excise tax on spirits distilled within the United States of America. The move was part of Hamilton’s initiative to encourage industrialization and higher degree of national sufficiency. In his December 1791 report to manufacturers, Hamilton called for protective tariffs to spur domestic production. Also, Hamilton called for the reduction of duties on goods that were carried by American ships.

This was also the case of Freidrich List in Germany in his short work – The National System of Political Economy.

(3) A non-tariff barrier (NTB) is a policy implemented by a government that acts as a cost or impediment to trade. It is not tariffs on products but rather different rules and regulations that are often the biggest practical barrier to trade between countries. Examples of non-tariff barriers include rules on labelling and safety standards on products. Other types of non-tariff barriers to trade can also be the result of policies that differentiate between national and international companies and firms. For example, domestic subsidies by governments to a carmaker may help keep that manufacturer in their country. However, that acts as essentially an indirect non-tariff barrier to other car companies looking to compete. Governments are also often likely to give preferential treatment to companies in their own country when it comes to government procurement contracts. Governments also buy products from their own industries in preference to foreign companies, these are called procurement policies another NTB. This can be seen as an impediment to free and fair international trade.

(4) Ha-Joon Chang – Kicking Away the Ladder – p.32/33.

(5) How Rich Countries Got Rich and Why Poor Countries Stay Poor. – Erik Reinert. It could be argued that political intervention would be the prerequisite for an industrial policy.

(6) Development Economics – Todaro and Smith – 2009

(7) Todaro and Smith – Development Economics – Ibid.

(8) Ha-Joon Chang – Bad Samaritans – p.210

(9) Ruslan Dzarasov – Russia, Ukraine and Contemporary Imperialism – Semi-Peripheral Russia and the Ukraine Crisis – pp.82-97

Excuse me, Sir, but are you civilized?

July 25, 2021

Excuse me, Sir, but are you civilized?

by Naresh Jotwani for the Saker Blog

Washington Post recently ran an article with headline which contained the two phrases “civilized nations” and “deter Beijing and Moscow” (see a review here). Use of the latter phrase in the headline shows clearly that the phrase “civilized nations” here has undisguised, in-your-face geopolitical motivation.

But “civilized” and “deter” is in fact a very strange combination of words, tempting and encouraging us to dig deeper into the matter.

One must assume that, in geopolitics, it is “just another day at the office” for one power to attempt to deter another. If two powers are in a state of unstable equilibrium, but not yet openly at war, attempts to deter one another would go on. Such is life. Certain lines – red or otherwise! – must not be crossed, weighty pronouncements must be made, and “swords must be banged against shields”. All this is standard stuff which foreign office trainees must learn, and upon which their “superiors” must base their upward mobility.

Clearly physical power is the one deterrent we all know about, starting from our experiences in school. But what has “being civilized” got to do with all that? Makes you wonder.

Surely I would be deterred by a big guy carrying a big stick – regardless of whether or not he seems to be “civilized”. In the same way, I am also deterred by a growling dog – regardless of whether or not it is fed and groomed by a rich owner! Chengiz Khan attacked other countries with brutal physical force, without any claims of possessing “higher civilization”. Before the sack of Rome, Alaric behaved far more sensibly than the “civilized” ruling elite of Rome.

Around the same time, another article also appeared, this one on the subject of Russian history and civilization (a review here). This article was an honest attempt to educate others, but there was no sign of any attempt to deter anyone. Indeed a resplendent, vibrant, creative civilization attracts others, does not deter them. If a “civilization” is aiming to deter others, then what happens to all the talk of “civilizational values” and “soft power”?

We know that power flows through the barrel of a gun, but today do culture and civilization also flow through the barrel of a gun? Something is surely wrong here! Historically, have the “civilized” always won wars? How do we explain the very recent history of Afghanistan? Which “civilization” has been gaining the upper hand there? What did the “civilized nations” achieve there? Whom did they manage to deter? For how long?

***

What follows is a brief history of how we have got to where we now find ourselves. This is not a work of “academic scholarship” – but rather it connects various “dots” discovered by scholars. The connections are based on the play of human nature we see all around us today.

The word “civilize” derives from the Latin root “civis”, meaning “citizen”, and in this way it is predicated on the idea of a “city”. Nomadic tribes of a period earlier than, say, 10,000 years BC would not have such a word in their language, even while the concept of “fellow tribesman” would be internalized very well.

The earliest cities were in fact trading centres for the surplus primary produce of nearby hamlets and villages. Trading – that is, eminently sensible economic exchanges – happened long before the invention of writing and of money. People were smart even then.

Trade generated surplus wealth. Thus people in cities – that is, traders of one sort or another – were free to explore aspects of life other than the hard work of primary production. Philosophy, religion, politics, law, “higher” arts and literature … all these flourished. Individuals in the city cultivated themselves, while their fellow human beings “out there” cultivated the land. Paeans and hymns were dutifully sung to the glory of the city and her various “gods”.

It was not long before the cultivated ones thought of themselves as “superior” to the others. In any one-on-one interaction with a simpler human being, they could easily run circles around the latter – and probably also justify charging a fee for the privilege!

Aided by writing and money, political power of cities grew rapidly, and it soon reached a point at which cities deemed themselves to be “proud city states”. Thence arose class differentiation between “civilized” city dwellers and the rustic population outside, which was by then economically and politically dependent on the cities. City states eventually grew into empires, following the all-too-familiar dynamic of unlimited human greed and brutality.

The simpler rustic folk were divided into “subjects”, “serfs”, “slaves” … and so on; but when the rustic folk got into friction or warfare with the “civilized” ones, they were dubbed “barbarians”. The preferred words nowadays are “deplorable”, “backward”, “lower caste” et cetera.

This phenomenon has played out repeatedly in recorded history. The phenomenon is grounded in economic motivations, and therefore it also has huge economic consequences.

Before “civilizations” came into being – and therefore before the invention of money and writing – the relationships between primary producers and traders were simple and direct, as depicted below.

Even huge geographical distances could not block trade, since ships and caravans could be used. Traders were brave and ingenious. For probably a couple of millennia, mankind experienced a “golden age of trading”, during which benefits of trade accrued but without onerous economic exploitation, slavery, human trafficking, and so on.

Things changed after the emergence of money, writing and “civilizations”. Multiple layers of political, social, financial, legal and other services emerged, giving opportunity to every “citizen” to climb the hierarchy of choice, depending on his or her aptitude and talent. Of course the two most useful talents would be greed and cunning – but clearly any other talent could be put to use, for example physical beauty, or the ability to declaim in public.

Ever since then, members of the “civilized elite” of most “civilizations” have wanted to get into the act and take their cut. The main goal of such “civilized elite” is to grab every opportunity for easy money, with the view: “After me, the deluge!”

The situation thus evolved to what is shown below, in what is projected as “progress” or the “unstoppable march of human advancement”. Men and women high up in the “pecking order” of a “civilization”, puffed up with their own social position and self-importance, feel free to make profound pronouncements about “the masses” or “the common people”.

[Incidentally, how “civilized” can a society be in which we use the phrase “pecking order”? The verb “peck” applies to poultry birds, and is also seen in the phrase “hen-pecked husband”.]

So much for “civilized”, the word wrongly used in the Washington Post article.

***

Surprisingly, this discussion brings us close to Saker’s recent decision to write and share with us short vignettes about the teachings of Jesus Christ. How so?

Jesus Christ lived through a period of great turmoil in the region, as the ruthless might of the Roman empire came into contact with independent minded Hebrews. His message was of love and charity, rather than greed. He promised deliverance to his followers, mostly poor folk.

When does a poor person cry out for deliverance? For the many poor people that I know, a bit of poverty is alright if only they are allowed to live on in peace. None of them demands perfect economic equality. Many earn their livelihood working for richer people. “I am alright, Jack. Let me be!”, they say – as they adapt, cope and share.

But turmoil most definitely does occur when even the otherwise forbearing poor are in unbearable distress; that possibility can never be ruled out.

Turmoil did occur in the period when Jesus lived and taught. Therefore, his teachings include useful, practical sayings addressing the daily economic and political reality of the poor people who were his followers. We may consider just three of his many profound sayings:

Man shall not live by bread alone …

It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God.

Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s …

By the way, these themes are not readily found in Gautam Buddha’s teachings. Why? Buddha lived in pre-Alexander India. Specific instances of suffering which moved him, when he was a young prince, were disease, old age, death … All of which is really kid stuff compared to what the Romans and other people of the time did on a regular basis.

Gautam Buddha traced the roots of suffering to desire, whereas the followers of Jesus Christ suffered from extreme deprivation and cruelty. It would be inhuman to say that desire was at the root of their suffering, when in fact they desired only deliverance from extreme deprivation and cruelty. Buddha and Jesus Christ addressed two totally different audiences, separated greatly in time, space and economic/political conditions.

***

It’s time to turn our attention back to some economic and political realities.

It is much easier to make money otherwise than by being a primary producer, and typically every human being seeks the easier path rather than the harder one. Primary producers are therefore left further and further behind in the headlong societal rush towards material well-being. However, no self-respecting community or country should accept such a dire economic fate for a significant fraction of its hard-working members.

Political and economic measures must therefore address this issue in a fair manner, and also provide avenues open to all members to benefit from training, education and economic mobility. Any ideology – “capitalism”, “neo-liberalism” or whatever else – which violates this fairness criterion will enrich a very few but also doom the society. Any talk of “trickle down wealth” is no more than false propaganda; “trickle down” just does not happen.

The attitude of “civilizational upper-hand” displayed in the Washington Post headline leads to a bargaining tactic which goes something like this:

Hey, you! Every time we engage in any transaction, negotiation, discussion or collaboration, do keep in mind that – since I am more “civilized” – I am by definition superior to you. Is it not enough for you that I even deign to sit and talk with you?

As against this, realistic bargaining between parties must proceed only on the basis of specific strong and weak points of each party. Any presumed and self-proclaimed – but meaningless! – “civilizational superiority” has nothing to do with any real-life negotiation. Why introduce such a red herring of into “real-politik”? In today’s intellectually multi-polar, competitive world, the adversary easily sees through all such false pretences anyway.

The reality of being “civilized” – if indeed there is such reality! – must not depend on haughty self-proclamation. The word “civilized” must be defined in terms which are universal.

Our only “city” now is the entire Planet Earth. There are no outsiders, and therefore the word “civilized” has to have meaning not limited by this or that so-called great city of the past or present – whether that be Rome, Athens, Washington, Beijing, Jerusalem or Varanasi.

In that spirit, a simple test is proposed here for the reader’s consideration:

Regardless of how highly accomplished an individual may be – in music, literature, politics, law, science, wealth, beauty or any combination thereof – does the person “get it” and accept that the most deprived individual is also a human being deserving of dignity and respect?

Note that the word “charity” does not even occur here. Acknowledgement of the other person’s humanity is far more fundamental that any outward act of “charity”. It follows that laughing at deprived individuals or pouring scorn over them is not civilized behaviour.

Only if the above test is satisfied should a person today be considered “civilized”. Loud, self-serving proclamations do not count. This is a matter not of “politics” or “ideology”, but of humanity. Nobody need fly off at the handle shrieking “Buddha”, “Jesus Christ”, “capitalism”, “communism” or “socialism”! Humanity does not dwell in a person’s brain, wealth or loquacity, but deep inside the heart – or perhaps not even there.

Lest anybody misunderstand, none of the above is a justification for what does or does not happen in my own country. Wherever there are human beings, certain behaviour patterns are bound to be seen. Most of what is described here has gone on blatantly in India for many centuries, and at present there is an intense internal struggle in progress.

The point here is that any “civilization” worth its name should help temper economic injustice rather than exacerbate it. In times of huge diversity and change, an attitude amongst people of “us” versus “them” is inevitable. The key questions ask must be such as these:

What are the terms under which societal injustices and resentments are resolved? How exploitative are these terms? How is extreme deprivation avoided?

No society can be strong if brutal economic exploitation runs rampant amongst its people. The following paradox is too glaring to be missed:

“Leaders” who declaim the loudest about being “civilized”, and try to impose their “civilizational values” on others, represent the very same societies which are going through relatively rapid exacerbation of internal fissures. A recent extensive survey carried out in the UK reported that, according to most younger respondents, the number one priority of the government should be to protect the poorest, weakest and the most vulnerable. An overwhelming majority said “F**k them all” about their own political leaders. (A summary of the survey can be found here.)

Much should be expected from anyone claiming to be “civilized” today.

CPC Centenary – China on the Cusp of a Socialist Society

June 25, 2021

CPC Centenary – China on the Cusp of a Socialist Society

by Straight-Bat for the Saker Blog

1. Prelude

The other day, I was trying to visualize the conversation that would take place on a rainy humid day in July 2021, in a cafeteria in the Eurasian region of heaven where Karl Marx, Robert Owen, Comrade Lenin, Chairman Mao, and Generalissimo Chiang would meet. Purpose – to exchange critical views around the Communist Party of China (CPC) centenary and China.

Generalissimo Chiang would start the conversation, “Mr. Mao, congratulations on the hundredth anniversary. Tell me what did you really achieve by pushing me and Kuomintang out of mainland China?”

Chairman Mao would reply, “It was obvious! We wanted to build a socialist China based on Marxist-Leninist principles, for which you were the biggest opposing force. The CPC was always looking out for enlarging the anti-imperialist democratic front – even a section of Kuomintang joined us! But you steadfastly denied, on the contrary you acted viciously to wipe out the proletarian struggle in China.”

Chiang chuckled, “Well, that happened in past. Now, mainland China progressed a lot to become the largest economic power ahead of my friend (USA) and second largest military power next to your friend (Soviet Union or Russia), but it still has too much of inequality among three types of citizens – filthy rich businessmen and capitalists, struggling workers in farms and factories, and self-employed city dwellers burning midnight oil in their small ventures. If only economic growth and military power were the objectives, even Kuomintang (after emancipation from the cliques with vested interests) would have achieved similar targets!”

At this point, Comrade Lenin, the eternal revolutionary, came to the rescue of his cherished student Mao, even though they never met. Lenin replied, “Mr. Chiang, it’s a long haul, it would be a very complicated journey. My follower relentlessly struggled to establish the CPC as the vanguard of socialist revolution. His team had to develop the productive forces, build the initial social capital for further economic development – that called for a capitalist economy. Unfortunately, the European geopolitics didn’t allow my New Economic Policy to succeed in developing the productive forces in Soviet Union”.

The old ‘patriarch’ Karl Marx couldn’t remain silent anymore. He appeared to be in a reflective mood and shied, “I was sure about the appraisal of ‘capital’, but wasn’t sure how to turn the ‘surplus value’ into irrelevance after gaining the political power. Also, neither I nor Engels got came out with a definite blue-print on how ‘state’ would wither away! As long as a few fellows could own land, and resources as their property, get hold of technology, and could exert influence on the state apparatus, neither ‘capital’ nor extreme inequality would go away. Mao’s team still has a long way to go. However, this is a great occasion to cheer up the Communist Party that was founded in China hundred years back.” Marx would turn to Lenin with silent reprimand, as if Lenin stood guilty of his team’s failure to reach a century even after scoring a swashbuckling half-century under the leadership of Stalin against the Zionist-capitalist clique who staged two world wars by then for wanton destruction of Eurasian heartland!

Marx would continue, “so many groups of revolutionaries in dozens of European and non-European countries came forward since 1848 to build a socialist society through a socialist revolution, but most of them messed up their movements mid-way. The CPC withstood the test of time, which is now leading the most populous country (with 18% of the total global population) and churning out approximately 19% of the total global GDP on purchasing power parity basis. Even if the CPC hasn’t yet closed the first step of a socialist society, this is an occasion to celebrate their incredible perseverance!”

Chiang obviously didn’t want to join issues, for he never had time for such ideological discussions; Mr. Chiang’s faction only understood power and wealth based on rudimentary nationalism.

The discussion so far was not to the liking of Mr. Owen. He deemed it fit to jump in, with apparently robust argument, “Mr. Marx, aren’t you ashamed of so much of bloodshed by your followers, the so-called revolutionaries, and yet not even the first step of Marxist Socialism is complete in case of China?”

The quintessential activist in Marx flared up suddenly, “Mr. Owen, enough of such allegations! Let me ask you two simple questions – firstly, even if other groups of socialists also fought against injustice and inequality globally, why there was not a single case where they could come to political power?” Owen was speechless, Marx continued, “Let me respond! Whether in the past or in present, no socialist group other than the Marxists will be able to come to power AND build truly socialist society, because their ideology was based on only compassion and courage, it lacked the foundation of scientific analysis.”

Marx leaned towards Owen, and murmured in a soft tone, “Did you notice the difference of the present status of the standard of life between China and India, both of which started their journey as a modern independent country with humongous load of population as the decade of 1940s was drawing to a close? The proletariat and petit bourgeoisie in China are leading a quality life which is way ahead of what their brethren enjoy in India – on all parameters like education, health, employment, income, household expenditure, leisure, life expectancy etc.! There were dangerous obstacles in the struggle of the poor Chinese for emancipation and dignity under the banner of communist party, hence there was bloodshed. If such impediments do not arise, then a socialist revolution would become peaceful without bloodshed! Now the Chinese people are leading a life which is worth living! Compared to that, what did the social democrat faction (of the most prominent political party) achieve in India, even if they ruled India for more than four decades immediately after independence? Now, after three decades of exploitation under neoliberal capitalism, on one side, two-thirds of population, the plebs, earn on average even less than a dollar per person per day, and on the other side, the Indian bourgeoisie continue accumulating more wealth than others in Asia!”

The moment was ripe for Lenin to take a centre-stage. He became brutally frank while addressing Owen, “Mr. Owen, the Utopian socialists, the Anarcho-socialists, and the social democrats are blinded by jealousy of our limited success – otherwise how could they blame the Marxist socialists for every problem that overwhelm the humanity! Isn’t that utterly funny? Not only us, but all other socialist groups were equally sickened with the exploitation and injustice meted out by the capitalist bourgeoisie! The capitalists have not changed, so is it that the Utopian socialists, Anarcho-socialists, and social democrats changed their track to become lackeys of the capitalists?”

Lenin continued, “if they have truly anti-capitalist anti-imperialist anti-Zionist ideology then, there is every possibility that the Utopian socialists, the Anarcho-socialists, and the social democrats would become successful in the long run – maintain your separate identity as a party, if you wish so, but adopt our goal which wisely mix empathy with wisdom, which identify actions along with the dream. Join our front in every nook and corner of the globe!”

And, that ended my day-dream. Is the dream, a blasphemy in the ‘post-modern’ era when half of the 1% Zionist-capitalist oligarchy fund a section of academia and media to beat the hollow drum of democratic nationalism, while the other half of the same 1% oligarchy fund another section of academia and media to sound the trumpet of capitalist globalism, thereby creating a false dichotomy that would perpetually keep 90% of the population of the globe engaged in stupid arguments over the future of humankind? Is the dream, a wickedness in the current ‘post-modern’ era when the 1% Zionist-capitalist oligarchy successfully obscured the real issue of accumulation of wealth and power by them, and obfuscated the very definition of ‘democracy’, ‘autocracy’, ‘capitalism’, ‘socialism’, and ‘communism’ to turn their meaning upside down? Be that as it may, now, as the CPC celebrates a splendid 100 years journey, I would like to look into the details of how socialism, the only antidote to Zionist-capitalism, has been welcomed in China!

2. Socialist Revolution & China

In the medieval world the traders and businessmen were inseparable from their wealth/money/capital. The evolution of ‘capital’ as a separate entity from the businessmen, traders and entrepreneurs took quite a long time. During 15th, 16th, and 17th century when aristocrats and financers of west European kingdoms and empires were fully absorbed into ‘mercantile capitalism’ and ‘agrarian capitalism’, the underlying dynamics were fully related to ‘primitive accumulation’ (even though no body spelt it out that way). The primitive accumulation of wealth (as capital) taking place within the entrepreneurs- traders-bankers of different countries of west Europe through their far-flung imperial ‘colonies’ in the continents of North America, South America, and Africa soon became the harbinger of ‘industrial capitalism’ at the dawn of 18th century west Europe. Even before that, the capitalist system of finance matured in the beginning of 17th century Netherlands – world’s first stock exchange as well as world’s first bank using the fractional reserve system were established in Amsterdam. Capital became a global force to reckon with, by the end of 19th century, when the entire world came under the sway of west European Zionist-capitalist oligarchy whose primary objective was to relentlessly pursue accumulation of capital – essentially, the journey of ‘capital’ to reproduce itself infinitely, passed through extermination of hundreds of communities across the globe and ceaseless exploitation of natural resources of mother earth. Karl Marx bared it all in the ‘Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Volume I’ as “The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black-skins, signalized the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production. These idyllic proceedings are the chief momenta of primitive accumulation ……The different momenta of primitive accumulation distribute themselves now, more or less in chronological order, particularly over Spain, Portugal, Holland, France, and England. In England at the end of the 17th century, they arrive at a systematical combination, embracing the colonies, the national debt, the modern mode of taxation, and the protectionist system. These methods depend in part on brute force, e.g., the colonial system. But, they all employ the power of the State, the concentrated and organized force of society.”

Between 18th to 20th century in Europe, many intellectuals, economists, politicians, philosophers, and social activists raised their voice against the Zionist-capitalist savagery in which their state became willing accomplice. They did extensive analysis of how the different stages of capitalism exploited the society and transformed majority of the people into poor plebs ruled by a group of wealthy aristocrats who would bend any established rule to ensure accumulation of profit and wealth from any kind of business – from slave trade to opium trade. Different European thinkers (in Britain, Germany, France, Sweden, Russia) became political activists trying to organize (a) political party that would fight for rights of the working class, (b) awareness among public about inhuman treatment meted out to the people in the colony owned by the state. Different political groups were formed by the advent of industrial capitalism during this period, each of which professed to a particular ‘ideology’ of political economy built over time by few intellectual-cum-activists – prominent among them were Utopian socialists, Anarcho-socialists, social democrats, and Marxist socialists. All of these ‘socialist thoughts’ had one common theme – working class people are exploited by the business owning class, and the workers must get their due share of revenue from industrial operation.

Throughout the second half of 19th century, Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels enriched the philosophical basis of socialist thoughts and carried out extensive economic analysis of mode of exploitation – thus ‘Marxist socialism’ evolved, and the political activists who would follow the socialist thoughts of Marx and Engels came to be known as Marxists or Marxist socialists or Communists. Till date, hundreds of intellectuals, politicians, economists, activists, and philosophers across the globe contributed to the development of Marxist socialism, and enriched the Marxist literatures. Most prominent among them was Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, the Russian revolutionary better known as ‘Lenin’, who during his short lifespan of 53+ years (a) formulated the procedures of practical implementation of Marxist socialism in a country, (b) analyzed the economic relation between imperialism and capitalism, (c) coordinated the Russian Revolution that formed the first socialist government in Russia, (d) guided the newly created Russian government towards economic and geopolitical. Since mid-20th century, most of the political parties across the globe who followed Marxism, identified themselves as ‘Marxist-Leninist’ – that made perfect sense, for it was Comrade Lenin who first brought the theory down to practice.

2.1 Basics of Socialist Dream

Any country and its people can be depicted as interplay among five socio-political entities, where community as the central entity deals with four other entities which are modern historical constructs (with roots in ancient and medieval history). Four relationships between community (identified as ‘1’) at one side and state apparatus (identified as ‘2’), political party (identified as ‘4’), ally states (identified as ‘3’), adversary states (identified as ‘5’) on the other side are crucial for a community to survive and flourish. This has been the case ever since human civilization started experimentations with political entity. In reality, the state and the party both are extended part of a community itself (hence, intraneous entity), while outside states can be termed as extraneous entity. The following block diagram figure 2.1 depicts it:

Every society/community is the expression of a continuous interaction between the ecosystem and a group of people. A community lives and thrives within the boundaries of the ecosystem – if the ecosystem is frayed, the community can’t thrive. The main socio-economic actors in the modern history, after industrial capitalism transformed the lifestyle of human beings, are portrayed in the schematic diagram figure 2.2 given below.

Significant observations that can be noted from a glance at the above diagram are:

1. There is a clear pattern emerging out of the interaction between ecosystem and community – the economic activities of the community draws EVERY MATERIAL (except finance, technical, managerial knowledge, and labour efforts) from the ecosystem that is processed into goods and services. The 1% people (termed as bourgeois capitalist) who have inclination towards wealth accumulation, contributed towards the creation of the social superstructure containing state apparatus, law, monetary and banking system etc. in such a way that, the output of economic base would continue to enrich them generation after generation through a benefit accrual cycle:

Ecosystem → Economic Base → Capitalists → Ecosystem

2. Since the economic base is using every material input from the ecosystem (other than labour and other efforts of the society) for production and distribution of goods and services, and NO INPUT CAN BE FUNDAMENTALLY CREATED BY THE BOURGEOIS OR ANYBODY ELSE, how could a class of people (termed as proletariat) of the community be deprived of the fruits of the economic activities? Every person has a ‘natural right’ to the benefits as per the concept of ‘natural justice’. Laws are made by humankind, but NATURAL JUSTICE AND NATURAL RIGHTS ARE IMMUTABLE CONCEPTS of the creation that can’t be challenged by humankind. Hence Marx-Engels-Lenin-Mao (the doyens of Marxist socialist theory) unambiguously wanted to create a benefit accrual cycle that would scotch the earlier fallacy and create an appropriate cycle:

Ecosystem→ Economic Base→ Community→ Ecosystem

2.1.1 The Essence of Marxism

A socialist society would convert all classes of people into stakeholders of economic performance of the country instead of leaving it on to invisible ‘market forces’ (which is a façade under which the Zionist-capitalist operated economy accumulates wealth and power on behalf of the 1% oligarchy). The objective of socialism is to bring widest possible freedom and maximum possible development for every citizen in a classless stateless society. Every human being (irrespective of background identity like age, sex, ethnicity, language, religion, and region) should become free from hunger-disease-insecurity-injustice, each citizen should spend time in socially useful productive work, people can carry out research in academic areas, they can seek entertainment-pleasure at leisure time, without any of these being morally or physically harmful to any other people or section of the society.

As per Marx, the history of humankind is a struggle between antagonist ‘classes’ over the fruits of economic activities. Whether the slave mode of production in ancient era, or feudal mode of production in medieval era, or capitalist mode of production in modern era, the working class was always exploited by the dominant class of the era who constructed the system of state, law, bureaucracy etc. as institutions to perpetuate their rule – hence, the majority plebs remained paupers throughout the history while the aristocrats remained wealthy.

In the capitalist mode of production, some of the elements of ‘factors of production’ (viz. the ‘means of production’, and financial capital) are treated as ‘capital’ and two other elements of factors of production (viz. labor, and entrepreneurship) utilize the capital to produce goods and services. The produced goods (and services) have different ‘use-value’, and in a barter society real and specific useful labor that went into making of the goods would be considered as ‘exchange-value’ which is tied closely to the ‘use-value’. In modern capitalist society, that real labor is removed from the goods, and abstract value of labor is attached to the produced goods which results in the labor efforts getting objectified. Similarly value of the produced goods get transformed from use-value – in the capitalist market, artificially calculated exchange-value dominates. In order to generate surplus (monetary capital as profit), price of the produced goods in money-form becomes cost of input materials plus labor plus ‘surplus/‘profit’ (ignoring things like interest and depreciation). Thus, the capitalist who owns the finance capital and means of production, earns profit (in monetary form), accumulates profit endlessly, while the laborer don’t get the price of labor.

Every means of production whether the ‘subjects of labor’ (raw materials, natural resources including source land, energy, water) or the ‘instruments of labor’ (tools, machinery, factory including land, other infrastructure) which go into production of any material (from a grain of wheat to a car) and service (from electricity supply to 5G communication) is drawn from natural resources, while the processing is done by a team of people (Labour) supervised by technical specialists. Hence, any entity like a family, or a business that use such ‘produced goods and services’ only utilize natural resources and human labour. Thus the capitalists’ accumulation of profit is more immoral because he/she is not the creator of natural resources.

As per the Marxist theory, there should be two-stage transformation in a socialist society which looks like:

The stage 1 transformation >> Capitalist society (bourgeoisie democracy) to

Socialist society (dictatorship of proletariat)

The stage 2 transformation >> Socialist society (dictatorship of proletariat) to

Classless socialist society (also termed as Communist society)

The most significant modification of Marxism happened with Lenin’s theory that proposed: a Marxist political party would act as a vanguard party of the proletariat which would seize the state power, and steer the economy and society until the political environment across the world is conducive for classless stateless society (where party would lose its significance).

If Marx was 100% right, ‘capitalism’ as an economic system has to go. David Harvey (2015) criticizes capitalism as ‘a system which lives beyond its means through a banking and finance system that takes on too much debt’, ‘a system which pays its workers too little to consume all of the goods it produces’, ‘one which is ruining the environment’. There is little doubt that Zionist-capitalist oligarchy created a globalized society of monumental inequality – Oxfam said in January’2020 that, 2,153 dollar billionaires across the world have more wealth than the 4.6 billion people (i.e. 60% of the planet’s population), and top 162 billionaires have the same wealth as the poorest 50% of global population (link: https://www.huffingtonpost.in/entry/billionaires-inequality-oxfam-report-davos_n_5e20db1bc5b674e44b94eca5?ri18n=true). There can be even less doubt that, nature abhors the state of disequilibrium.

2.2 Socialist Dream – China, the Last Man Standing

As on date, there are 155 countries in the world with population more than 1 million. At least two-thirds of the countries have one or two political outfits which identify Marxist socialism as their guiding principle – these parties/outfits have been around for a long time, may be on average 75 years. However, the current environment is a downward slide after the world-wide socialist movement witnessed phenomenal success in three regions apart from east and south-east Asia:

1. East Europe – Soviet Union helped many communist parties of east European countries to come to state power after WW II. Later on these countries formed ‘Warsaw pact’ that included Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and East Germany. Not only Soviet Union led the economic rejuvenation of the Warsaw pact countries after complete devastation of WW II, Soviet Union contributed immensely towards national liberation of African countries.

2. Africa – many countries that fought liberation war against the west European colonial masters saw the triumphant parties professed Marxist socialism as their guiding principle. Countries like Algeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Namibia, Angola, and Zimbabwe had governments and ruling party leadership who wanted to progress the newly independent countries through the past of socialism.

3. Latin America – in most of the countries in South American continent and Central American region, Marxist parties were organized against the well-entrenched lobby of local oligarchy and American oligarchy who would invariably manipulate every government towards oligarch-friendly policies that would exploit the natural resource and 90% plebs. In countries like Chile, Peru, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador Marxist parties struggled, but success eluded most of them.

Apart from the above mentioned countries where Marxist socialist political parties and discourse were popular in the past (and in some countries, still popular), there were many more South American, North American, African, and Asian countries where multiple groups of revolutionaries stood against exploitation and dehumanization by the local and comprador oligarchy, and struggled to seize political power through a socialist revolution. But, most of them messed up their movements mid-way – some of them couldn’t withstand the onslaughts by Zionist-capitalist oligarchs masquerading as democratic populist party leaders, some other simply betrayed the ideal in order to stash illegitimate wealth offered by the Zionist-capitalist clique, and finally there were a few leaders who were wrong from the very beginning about what is socialism! There was another unfortunate factor which played to the detriment of the worldwide socialist movements – unity among various ideological factions within a Marxist party was mostly absent, hence the policy and planning for struggle towards achieving political power differed. In many countries, the struggle within various factions of a Marxist party resulted in multiple splits and continuous depletion of resources, time and efforts of leadership of all factions.

With the implosion of the Soviet Union as a state and CPSU as a party between 1989 CE and 1991 CE, Marxist socialist political parties around the world lost much of the moral and material support to continue their journey towards socialism, and as matter of fact, most of those political parties changed their ideology to identify democratic capitalism as their goal. Only 5 countries viz. China, Vietnam, Laos, North Korea, and Cuba still got a Marxist socialist party controlling the state power. The socio-economic realities in all countries, however, point out towards high degree of exploitation, dispossession, lack of income, and overall poverty among the plebs, 90% of the population – the significance of Marxist socialism refuses to go away!

The CPC has always been one of the most vibrant communist parties in the world, which witnessed many violent field battles against adversaries as well as ideological battles between various factions within the party built around policy and implementation programmes since its birth in July’1921. Between July’1921 and October’1949 the CPC built the mass base in rural and urban regions as well as created an army (Peoples Liberation Army) that fought against the Kuomintang after it became clear that Chiang Kaishek faction of Kuomintang party would not share power at the central government with the CPC. In October’1949 People’s Republic of China (PRC) was proclaimed by Mao as the PLA won the war against the Kuomintang army – the leadership of Kuomintang settled in Taiwan group of islands declaring Republic of China (ROC) as an independent country. Technically PRC and ROC both claim to be the legal representative of China.

While none of the CPC leaders seriously debated about what would be the final shape of China after achievement of 2nd and final stage of socialism (class-less state-less communist society was never really a subject of detail discussion among Marxist socialists because Marx was vehemently opposed to any such blue-print of a distant future), senior leaders like Mao, Zhou, Liu, Deng, and their factions debated exhaustively on what would the 1st stage of socialism look like and how to achieve that. Marx-Engels-Lenin mostly engaged in deliberating the advent of capitalism in European society, hence theoretical discussions and writings on socialism in ‘Asiatic’ society remained a far cry from what was expected by the 20th century socialist revolutionaries in China, India, and Indonesia. Rightly judging that, the social capital and productive forces built in China between 1950 CE and 1980 CE as grossly inadequate for a stage 1 socialist society for sustaining in the highly competitive global economy and complex geopolitical reality (ideological divide between the CPC and Communist Party of Soviet Union in mid-1950s turned into unfortunate hostility by end of 1960s), Deng and his successors went on to develop theoretical framework of ‘Socialism with Chinese Characteristics’. When judged unbiased, ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’ appears to be built on three pillars – (a) Leninist principle of communist party acting as the ‘vanguard of socialist revolution’ was followed with complete dedication and the CPC remained all-powerful authority, (b) the terminology of ‘market socialism’ propounded by Oskar Lange was borrowed and used with ingenuity by the CPC, but the concept of Lange was never really implemented anywhere in Europe or in China, (c) the productive forces including the ‘animal spirit’ of capitalists were unleashed under strict control of the Chinese state.

During the next 40-year period from 1980 CE to 2020 CE, the CPC spearheaded the rejuvenation of the Chinese society and state through astounding growth of China’s economy, complete eradication of absolute poverty, and imbibing all sorts of technology. The drive towards industrial capitalism in China using the global finance owned by the Zionist-Capitalist bankers and industrialists (initiated by Deng) was followed up by the succeeding CPC leadership in such sincerity that, the Zionist-capitalist Deep State representatives like Kissinger concluded that transformation of the Chinese society and economy into a Zionist-capitalist system was forthcoming. With China’s entry into the world order triad (USA-West Europe-Japan), the new configuration would have become USA-West Europe-East Asia. Meanwhile, Soviet Union and Warsaw pact got dissolved. Zionist-capitalist clique was sure about China ditching Marxist socialism to join USA camp by the turn of the past century. Chinese government went all-out to create free trade zones for global Zionist-Capitalist interests which wanted more and more profits towards endless accumulation of capital, and hence were busy shifting their manufacturing base to China to harness low-cost labour and slack regulations. By 2008, China became the third largest economy in terms of GDP nominal (as per IMF estimates USD 4604 billion) and largest export base in the world (In 2007-2008, its Export-to-GDP ratio reached 32%, and its Exim-to-GDP ratio was 59%). But during this process, China also became a society where inequality was one of the highest in the world – Gini coefficient increased from around 0.3 in early 1980s to 0.49 in 2008. The media, and academia funded by the Deep State went all-out to woo the CPC leadership towards ushering a new era of ‘political reforms’ after such a brilliant success of ‘economic reforms’ – by ‘political reforms’ they meant introduction of democratic election based multi-party system with liberal capitalism. However, after 2 decades of continuous and intensive persuasion, by 2008 CE, the Zionist-capitalist Deep State cabal concluded that, the CPC would never change their ideological color – the CPC leadership just utilized the capitalist system, capital, and technology from USA, Japan and west Europe to perform a ‘great leap’ forward towards the industrialisation of China! Since then, the world order controlled by the Zionist-capitalist Deep State has been putting up innumerable obstacles on the path for further economic and social transformation of China.

As it stands today, only a few Marxist communist/socialist/ workers parties, who continue to be led by bold, capable, and visionary leaders through generations, are able to sustain their journey. Among the 5 countries which still got a Marxist socialist party running their government, China has the largest Marxist socialist party. If China shied away from the ideology of Marxist socialism, the philosophy of socialism will get a quiet burial across the globe. Remaining 4 countries (Vietnam, Laos, North Korea, and Cuba) possess too insignificant landmass and population to gather sufficient moral and material strength to continue their journey on the road to socialism against the brutal economic sanctions by Zionist-capitalist world order. China led by the CPC, is the proverbial ‘last man standing’!

3. Socialist Revolution – All’s Well That Ends Well

3.1 Stage 1 Socialist Dream in China

While every socialist-minded people all over the world applaud the stupendous achievements of mainland China led by the CPC, as it celebrates the centenary, they also point out that, there is still a long way to go before the CPC can claim a successful socialist society in China.

A news article with a headline “600 million with $140 monthly income worries top” appeared on the Global Times website on 29th May 2020 (refer link: https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1189968.shtml) and another with a headline “China’s 400 Richest 2020: Total Wealth Surges Amid Pandemic” appeared on the Forbes website on 4th Nov 2020 (refer link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/russellflannery/2020/11/04/chinas-400-richest-2020–total-wealth-surges-amid-pandemic/?sh=5b1c42d13d7a). In a Marxist socialist country, such income inequality is a natural outcome of the phenomenon, what I paraphrase as: the significant aspects of stage 1 socialism are yet to be achieved in China. Chinese government took remedial action as noted in the article “China to issue 20 billion yuan in subsidies to farmers” (refer link: https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202106/1226522.shtml) that appeared on the Global Times website recently. However, such corrective action is not really a substitute for permanent resolution – remedial measures need to be taken up at the level of policy formulation and implementation.

During past 4 decades, China implemented a mix mode of economy, which was essentially a combination of ‘state capitalism’ and ‘private capitalism’ supported by the Zionist-capitalist global oligarchy with finance and technology until about 2008 CE. The Zionist-capitalist motive force generated very high degree of momentum within the Chinese mainland unmatched in any of its past ‘enterprises’ whenever the force went to ‘invade’ new territory around the globe. The main challenge for the present Chinese leadership is to dissipate the energy of that storm so that, the energy can be harnessed for social benefits as much as possible, while damage from the storm is kept at a minimum as the society turns deep into socialism. With Zionist-capitalism so well-entrenched within the bourgeois class and the economy, the CPC wouldn’t be able to a take an ingenious decision of a single-stage transformation to a classless and stateless society. On the eve of centenary celebrations, the CPC should finalize on a prudent realistic approach of two-stage transformation. The following tasks should be taken up to implement the final aspects of the stage 1 socialism in China:

(a) Action point 1 – Implementing the concept of ‘restricted-profit enterprise’ to bring all economic activities (as mentioned in the sub-section 3.1.1) under its sway EXCEPT a few vital sectors, and simultaneously making all classes of society stakeholders for enterprise performance (as owners of the enterprises), instead of only the capitalist class and the state owning industrial enterprises;

(b) Action point 2 – Implementing a robust banking and monetary policy by following a judicious mix of the ‘fractional reserve theory of banking’ (broad banking for creating credit money) through 50% of the banking/financial institutions and ‘financial intermediation theory of banking’ (narrow banking that is transactional in nature) through remaining half of the institutions, instead of individual bank/ financial institution practicing the ‘credit creation theory of banking’ to create debt money out of thin air in connivance with the ever-greedy capitalist class;

(c) Action point 3 – Restructuring the agriculture and related sectors towards liberating tens of millions of surplus workforce (currently underemployed and unemployed), and simultaneously making new initiatives for agro-based industry in rural regions, instead of the rural economy remaining burdened with an overcrowded agriculture sector;

(d) Action point 4 – Planning and control of national economy with an eye to increasing the spending capacity of all sections of the society, so that the household consumption expenditure becomes the mainstay of the economic growth by contributing at least 50% of the GDP, instead of investment and export playing the lead role to support economic growth;

While action point 1 and 2 are truly (socialist) revolutionary concepts directly favouring the proletariat (and the petit bourgeois) against the bourgeois capitalists, action point 3 and 4 are concepts related to sound economics that fight against inefficiency and unsustainability. Four action points collectively target to erase exploitation and inequality which are still part of the quasi-capitalist economy of China and to implement robust monetary and economic measures that will be instrumental in achieving the stage 1 socialism.

At least the following subjective impact analysis should be done meticulously during detail planning:

1. Impact on GDP and GNI

2. Impact on prices and inflation

3. Impact on employment and income

4. Impact on consumer households (i.e. people from different classes of the Chinese society who consume goods and services)

5. Impact on producers (i.e. different enterprises, and individuals of the Chinese society who manufactures/produces goods and services)

6. Impact on Chinese importers (the enterprises in China who import goods and services from foreign countries)

7. Impact on Chinese exporters (the enterprises in China who export goods and services to foreign countries)

8. Impact on MNC with business operation in China (imports and sells in China, manufactures and sells in China)

9. Impact on MNC with business operation in China (manufactures and exports to foreign countries)

10. Impact on local governments

11. Impact on central governments

12. Impact on Peoples Bank of China (PBoC)

13. Impact on global banks with business operation in China

14. Impact on foreign governments

15. Impact on Multilateral trade organizations

16. Impact on projects funded by Chinese government

17. Impact on projects funded by foreign governments

Socio-economic scenario simulation should also be done during detail planning:

1. Computerized simulation of pessimistic scenario that assumes actual duration of implementation to be double than planned duration calling for almost double resource and efforts

2. Computerized simulation of optimistic scenario that assumes actual duration of implementation to be 80% of the planned duration thereby saving resource and efforts

3. Computerized simulation of probable scenario that assumes actual duration of implementation to be 20% more than the planned duration thereby causing little additional resource and efforts

Both the individual impact analysis and socio-economic scenario simulation need to take into account the past 3 decades of socio-economic landscape of China and make projections for 2 decades into the future. We need to remember, if central planning system of Soviet Union failed to take into account the population, geography, and goods/services requirements satisfactorily, lack of enough computational power and adequate information were to be blamed – the theory and proposition was not responsible for its debacle. The following subjects should be considered as part of the socio-economic landscape:

i. Parameters on national GDP accounting

ii. Parameters on production

iii. Parameters on sales

iv. Parameters on prices and inflation

v. Parameters on labour force

vi. Parameters on international finance and trade

vii. Parameters on balance of payments

viii. Parameters on income and expenditure

ix. Parameters on Human Development Index (HDI)

x. Parameters on environmental sustainability

3.1.1 Action Point 1:

Ever since the intellectuals and economists in early modern Europe raised their voice against the exploitation by the privately owned industries, the question of ‘ownership of means of production’ took central position (along with the question of ‘money as finance capital’) in every debate concerning struggle against capitalist mode of economy. Mainly three different ideas got substantial support among different shades of socialists – (a) ownership by public/community, (b) ownership by ‘State’, and (c) ownership by ‘workers’ cooperative’. Mode (b) had been the most preferred option for the socialist parties that came to power in Soviet Union, East European countries, China, Vietnam, and Cuba, because it was assumed that a ‘state’ represented a ‘community’. However, in my opinion, mode (a) is the most genuine because only that can deliver all the benefits of ownership to the individual level of the community – not only the appearance of ‘state’ as expropriator gets averted, but people’s self-esteem and involvement with the economy increases. Let’s revisit what happened in Soviet Union and East European countries in the beginning of 1990s – when the Zionist-capitalists were dissolving the socialist state, constitution and system, they picked up all productive assets – factories, mines, facilities – at almost no cost by manipulating the then state administration of Soviet Union. The ‘state’ was the owner of all productive assets, hence the people were just bystanders, they didn’t resist since they didn’t own. In future, if and when the Zionist-capitalists in China organize themselves to stake its claim on state power, community ownership of means of production and other productive forces will be the ONLY repelling force that would save the day for the CPC.

The action point 1 should be implemented at every sector/sub-sector of the Chinese economy (that are concerned with natural resources and economic base of the society as shown in figure 2.2) and its interaction with every class in the society in such a way that address specific issues and concerns of the society as well as the economy. Because of the unparalleled significance of ‘Manufacturing (defense & space)’, ‘Banking, Finance, Insurance’, ‘Education’, and ‘Healthcare’ sectors, ownership of those four sectors should be only vested in the state, to begin with. The ownership of remaining all categories of means of production needs to be legally transferred to the community (and the state) in an orderly manner – EVERY CITIZEN AS HE/SHE TURNS 25 YEARS, SHOULD BECOME ELIGIBLE FOR ALLOTMENT OF EQUITY OF ENTERPRISE(S) TO BECOME AN ‘OWNER’ under this scheme, what easily can become the largest transfer of wealth in the history of humankind. The ownership would remain non-transferrable which means that the share is not trade-able at the share market, and at death the ownership gets terminated. An indicative scheme of ownership for the 12 sectors/sub-sectors is given below in table 3.1.1. It is to be noted that, the percentage of ownership indicated in the table is for EVERY ENTERPRISE/FACILITY and NOT for a sectors/sub-sectors in totality – e.g. in the ‘Real Estate & Construction’ sector, equity of each of the organizations/facilities should be distributed among citizens belonging to 5 classes/sub-classes of the community as noted in the same table so that, each class gets 20% equity, it does NOT mean that 20% of the enterprises/facilities in the ‘Real Estate & Construction’ sector should be owned by each of the 5 classes. Approximately 73% of the population of China would be beneficiary. Since the entire conceptual philosophy behind this proposition is to put an end to basic causes of exploitation and inequality among various sections of society, the implementation of this vast programme has to be done in such a way that at least 1 member of every family residing in 22 provinces, 5 autonomous regions, and 4 municipalities of PRC becomes beneficiary of this scheme.

The table 3.1.1 given below has been constructed with a certain degree of thought process that took into consideration things like (a) criticality of a sector to the sustenance of the state and the party (a ‘vital’ sector shouldn’t be opened for community ownership at this point of time), (b) future urban-rural population (urban population would become two-thirds of the total population, hence more sectors should be serving that compared to rural people), (c) the state (and the party) should play a role as ‘stabilizer’ among different classes of owners in every enterprise, hence a token presence is required on the ownership table. However, before implementation, the concerned team of CPC should suitably modify to reflect the ground realities more appropriately (except increasing the share for bourgeois).

Table 3.1.1

Economy sectors & sub-sectorsCommunityState
Proletariat –Rural labourer, unemployedProletariat –Urban labourer, employed, unemployedPetit bourgeois – Rural peasant, craftsmenPetit bourgeois – Urban technologist, manager,self-employedBourgeois – owning or controlling capital
i) Agriculture & related areas20% Ownership70% Ownership10% Ownership
ii) Mining & related areas20% Ownership70% Ownership10% Ownership
iii) Utility40% Ownership40% Ownership10% Ownership10% Ownership
iv) Manufacturing(traditional)40% Ownership40% Ownership10% Ownership10% Ownership
v) Manufacturing(hi-tech)40% Ownership40% Ownership10% Ownership10% Ownership
vi) Manufacturing(defence & space)100% Ownership
vii) Banking, Finance, Insurance100% Ownership
viii) Real estate & construction15% Ownership20% Ownership15% Ownership20% Ownership20% Ownership10% Ownership
ix) Technology-based services15% Ownership20% Ownership15% Ownership20% Ownership20% Ownership10% Ownership
x) Education100% Ownership
xi) Healthcare100% Ownership
xii) Other Services20% Ownership20% Ownership20% Ownership20% Ownership10% Ownership10% Ownership

There would be a couple of significant counter-arguments to suggest the proposed implementation of action point 1 as an ‘impossible task’ or a ‘utopia’:

1. Primarily there are four types of domestic enterprises operating in China mostly in industry and services – state-owned big/medium sized corporates, private-owned big/medium sized corporates, state and private joint ownership companies, small companies owned by individual professionals. How could the ownership pattern be changed without disturbing the management as well as without impacting the performance of the enterprise? Answer to that can follow similar logic of how a company maintains its structure and functioning after it is taken over by another corporate entity through acquisition of majority equity share with an understanding that existing setup won’t be disturbed by the new owner;

2. Assuming on average 4-member family, there would be about 350 million families in China spread over about 9.6 million sq.km. How could even 1 member from each family get ownership share in even 1 enterprise that brings material benefit to him/her? There is no standard answer. There has to be rigorous analysis covering all types of enterprises (According to a report by China’s Administration for Industry and Commerce released on 14 January 2016, more than 77 million companies were active in mainland China) in all sectors/sub-sectors to explore physical and financial capital base built over past 7 decades, and thereafter optimum restructuring of equity capital has to be done for each of those enterprises in all sectors/sub-sectors (except 2). Then only a clear picture would evolve about how so vast number of citizens can be accommodated;

3. Another significant question is whether the existing private owners would at all accept proposed dilution of their equity stake, and if they agree then what would be the terms-conditions, and if everything is settled, then whether they would continue to manage the enterprise as they did in past. This is the most significant question from legal perspective. The bourgeois class executives would not mind diluting their equity stake in existing enterprises because (a) China’s private entrepreneurs are politically co-opted by the CPC, (b) by working through the party-state networks all over the country, private businessmen understand that they are a very important part of the current national economy, (c) bourgeois class is a numerically very small part, may be 1% of the Chinese community, still sizeable equity stake for them has been proposed in 6 sector/sub-sectors (as given in table 3.1.1) which is disproportionately high when compared to numerically much larger part of the society;

4. Last but not least is the question – how could a business enterprise function under ‘restricted-profit’ environment. Generally, an enterprise functions with ‘profit’ (e.g. business operation) or ‘non-profit’ (e.g. social work) orientation. But, as per the guiding principles of socialism, endless accumulation of profit can’t be an objective for a socialist society. Hence, during implementation of action point 1, procedures for enterprise functioning with restricted profit has to be laid out that neither violates the socialist principles nor kills the spirit of business operation. Steps may be – (a) exhaustive analysis of all factors of production that go into production and distribution process for all types of business operation under each of the listed 12 sectors/sub-sectors (e.g. ‘Manufacturing – traditional’ has, say, 15 sub-sectors like food & beverages, textile & garments, metal processing, light engineering goods, consumer durables, heavy machineries, automobiles, chemicals & fertilizers, hydrocarbon processing, pharmaceuticals, rolling stock, shipbuilding etc.); (b) setting up of optimum range of operational expenditures – input material cost, input labour hour, input energy cost, factory and machinery depreciation, cost of financial capital, cost of technology, cost of managerial coordination etc. – across the entire value chain of each of the sub-sectors (e.g. 15 sub-sectors of ‘Manufacturing – traditional’); (c) setting up of optimum range with upper and lower limit of operating margin, product/service price, profit, share of profit to be reserved and share of profit to be distributed among shareholders. We, the protagonists, need to always remember ‘when there is a will, there is a way’

3.1.2 Action Point 2:

In commodity exchange, one exchanges a commodity for money, and that money is exchanged again for some other commodity. One sells in order to buy something else for consumption – Marx identified this cycle as Commodity-Money-Commodity (C-M-C). In modern economy, with ‘money’ as the exchange medium as well as store of value, one can buy in order to sell at a higher price – Marx defined this as Money-Commodity-Money (M-C-M), the formula for capital. Free from the use-value of an item, this ‘money’ can move on continuously as profit-making finance capital. For the business of usury, the cycle becomes even sharper – Money-Money (M-M). Till 1970 CE, the traditional capitalist concept of accumulation of monetary capital as ‘profit from business operation’ continued as usual. Money supply through banking system (exogenous money created either by manufacturing paper/metal currency or by fractional reserve system, also called money multiplier model) of a country not only positively impact the business cycle, but it has an impact on inflation, and the price level also. Empirical evidence suggests a direct relation between growth in the money supply and long-term price inflation. In the post-Keynesian Europe and America, Zionist-capitalist oligarchy found that, in order to tackle inflation and price more effectively, the central banking institutions of countries across the globe (including the countries in European and American continents) were restricting the money supply for their economy (by NOT creating new money), which in turn restricted the flow of credit money to grow businesses owned by the capitalists. On the other hand, in the 1970s and 1980s most of the businesses were operating in severe competitive environment across the globe, input costs were not favourable always, fuel costs were up, product prices were too competitive with Japanese companies becoming more cost-effective – all these factors impacted the traditional process of seeking exorbitant profit from businesses in the era of ‘industrial capitalism’. Thus, as a result of two simultaneous pressures, the endless accumulation of (money) capital became much more difficult than the Zionist-capitalist oligarchy expected.

Hence, the academia and media funded by the Zionist-capitalist oligarchy dusted off an old theory of endogenous money and gave it a new life – credit creation theory of banking. This concept of credit money heralded a new era of Zionist-capitalist exploitation of the earth and humanity through ‘financial capitalism’. Starting in 1980s beginning, financial capitalism saw its ‘golden era’ during the 1990s and 2000s until the financial crisis overwhelmed American and European economy in 2007. But soon after the financial shock, financial capitalism found its way in the same fashion like before. Central banks in advanced countries maintain their official stand as exogenous money creation through fractional reserve system, but in practice, many banks in developed countries create endogenous credit money while paying lip service to principles of prudence and conservatism (refer “Post Keynesian Endogeneity of Money Supply: Panel Evidence” from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/257594497_Post_Keynesian_Endogeneity_of_Money_Supply_Panel_Evidence). Under the endogenous money theory (and, practice), ‘the supply of money is a function of profit expectation’. As per the Jewish tradition of banking and usury, the central theme of this theory is endless accumulation of money. The bourgeois capitalist businessmen would start calculation from ‘profit expectation’ which would derive the ‘income of firm’, this in turn would derive the ‘demand for credit’ as per which the ‘credit money creation’ would become the responsibility of the banker (the leader of the team of capitalists). Hence, the traditional flow of causality through fractional reserve system (Reserve → Deposits→Loan) gets reversed as Loan → Deposits → Reserve under this endogenous credit creation system. For endogenous money, the interest rate is not determined by the market mechanism (like the supply of and the demand for savings, the supply of and the demand for money). Nominal interest rate set by the central bank is applicable.

During past 4 decades of the era of financial capitalism, as and when the Zionist-capitalist oligarchy in a country decide to accumulate more money without going into the ‘painful’ mode of industrial capitalism, they create a flow of credit money through connivance with the management of commercial banks (staff at the higher positions in industry and banking are ALWAYS selectively appointed by the oligarchy) each of which has country-wide network of regional offices and branch offices, ostensibly for growing business operations. Question can be raised, “so what, the credit money drives creation of new business that helps growth of the overall economy”. The answer is, “no, it is not so”. Apart from a glitzy ‘project report’, none of the business objectives are ever honestly mentioned. Industrial and Service sectors are the prime target areas where hundreds of millions of investments are demanded as ‘project loan’ from commercial banks, and after receiving the amount, half of the amount gets transferred the foreign/domestic accounts of the ‘businessman’ and their accomplices, remaining half may be actually invested in the project. In many cases, after couple of years the businessman declares the project as dead and business operation as bankrupt. In many other cases, where the targeted project came to fruition, it can be easily proved through post-completion report that, the loan taken from bank was about 150 – 200% more than the actual project expenditure. This is how, in all countries throughout the world the wealthy oligarchs have been accumulating money, only a small part of which comes through profit from business operation. And, this ‘mechanism’ of ‘getting rich fast’ has been popular among senior-level technocrats of state-owned enterprises in all developing countries (including China) – Zionist-capitalist oligarchy happily accommodates such turncoats as part of the oligarchy. On the other hand, this swindle of a very large section of Zionist-capitalist business-owners results in bad debt problems for the country.

Government of China has to grapple with the bad debt problem continuously for past two decades (refer link:

 https://www.business-standard.com/article/international/china-s-bad-loan-season-descends-again-and-this-time-it-may-be-really-bad-121021700184_1.html). Writing off trillions of bad debt as non-performing asset from the books year-after-year is not really a solution. Unless and until the procedures and systems of banking-financing and money circulation are made full-proof along with complete prohibition of the endogenous credit money, PBoC won’t be able to see a clean slate ever in the banking sector.

As proposed in action point 2, the worst performers among banks and financial institutions should be converted into ‘narrow banks’ where deposits would be used to buy government bonds, but no investments in shares. Lending would be done using the deposits only (following ‘financial intermediation theory of banking’). Narrow banks are safe banks; there would be very limited credit risk. The danger of non-performing loans and subsequent injections of capital (using taxpayers’ money) would be grossly mitigated through narrow banks. Remaining banking institutions should religiously follow ONLY the money multiplier model of the fractional reserve system for creating credit money required for economic growth. PBoC should keep reserve requirement ratio at 25 – 30% which may be considered as a prudent base for credit money creation through fractional reserve system. Thus supply of money would be maintained, but unscrupulous capitalists won’t find a route to carry out bank robbery any time they wish.

3.1.3 Action Point 3:

Agriculture and related sectors in China has innate unbalances – the country has only 9 – 10% of the total arable land in the world, and 7 – 8% of its fresh water, but the sector’s output has to feed about 18 – 20% of the world’s population. Agriculture in China had been the core economic activity since ancient era. In the post-WW II when PLA won the civil war against Kuomintang, rural peasants were the most significant base of the communist party. The people’s commune system was established in Mao era, which was changed into the household responsibility system in Deng era. With progress of time, the improvement in productivity and income per capita as a result of such structural changes always taper down. Agricultural output has increased leaps and bounds over past 7 decades (with temporary dips). However, current problems of the agriculture and related sectors can’t be wished away:

(a) Diminishing plot size of the arable land (average size – less than 1 hectare) due to division among family members with each generation,

(b) Availability of water for irrigation remains a challenge especially in the northern half of the country

(c) Income of farmers lag behind the urban population by a very large gap

(d) Increasing demands for agricultural and dairy products, meat, and fish due to two simultaneous factors – population growth as well as change in dietary patterns especially in the urban regions

(e) Environmental degradation due to the ever increasing use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides

(f) Decreasing area under cultivation due to rapid township development projects

There are unresolved dichotomies in the agriculture sector in China:

1. If farmers’ income rise becomes more important, then high-value crops need to be cultivated; but that would require releasing arable land currently under food-grain cultivation, which in turn would affect the goal of self-sufficiency in growing food-grain

2. If afforestation is increased as a measure to address environmental pollution, semi-arable land should be released for that purpose; however, that would result in further reduction in the agricultural land, which in turn would impact production of both food-grains and high value crops

Under the restructuring of agriculture and related sectors action point, government should consider a mid-way between village-level people’s commune and household responsibility – contiguous plot-owners should form cooperative enterprises so that plot size remain above 10 hectares. Such plot sizes would enable the cooperative to deploy most modern farm equipment. Government should ensure that farmers’ produces are picked up at farm-gate at a price that covers the cost of inputs, labour, and a net income that is significantly higher than current income per capita in rural regions – essentially it would require subsidy payments in a systematic way. Finally, such cooperatives would indirectly result in release of the surplus labour into industrial and service sectors – migration to urban areas is highly probable, unless government launch new initiatives for agro-based industry and electricity generation system through renewable sources like solar and wind energy.

3.1.4 Action Point 4:

In a brief, accurate write-up, The Guardian website provided the economic data related to Chinese economy from 1980 to 2016 (Link: https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2012/mar/23/china-gdp-since-1980). The export-oriented economy that Deng set in motion (following other East Asian success stories in 1970s and 1980s) during 1980s has been performing with extreme efficiency and effectiveness till now. The statistical indicators point out to that fact. However, household consumption expenditures remaining slightly below 40% of the GDP still remains a matter of concern for the policy making body of the CPC (GDP of China in 2019 CE was Yuan 99492.74 billion by expenditure approach, out of which Household Consumption Expenditure was Yuan 38589.56 billion i.e. 38.78% of GDP). There are two sides of the issue – (a) household consumption expenditure has been increasing steadily for past few decades, but the growth in GDP due to exports (and investments in infrastructure asset creation) readily outsmarted the household consumption growth, and (b) the potential for household consumption contributing a minimum of 50% of the GDP has not been unleashed yet.

In my opinion, both the perspectives of household consumption ‘dilemma’ need to be seriously addressed. After 2008 CE, the steadily growing trade and commerce between China and USA as well as China and West Europe has been a boon for the Chinese economy and bane for the Zionist-capitalist oligarchy. On top of it, the BRI programme, that aims to revolutionize the infrastructure and trade in Asia, Africa and South America, has sounded the alarm for the existing Zionist-capitalist world order. The existing world order would explore all type of ‘programme’ that attempts to hinder the existing trade and commerce between China and USA-West Europe-Japan triad (link: https://asiatimes.com/2021/06/american-decoupling-from-china-deconstructed/ ) as well as implementation of BRI programme. The CPC leadership should take note of it, and make preparations for absorbing a possible dent in exports (and imports). And, the question of substantial increase in household consumption appears on the horizon right away.

Under the scheme for boosting household consumption, the purchasing power of the rural population needs to be enhanced substantially. For the urban citizens of China, consumption is a way of life – generally, they enjoy life with increased income. However, for the entire country, apart from enacting laws that would ensure increase in salaries-wages-bonus in every types of enterprises, the government has to explore a creative way that would indirectly increase the propensity for consumption expenditure. Chinese government should seriously consider making education and healthcare a subject of governance. Thus, all arrangements, from creation of infrastructure to providing services, related to education and healthcare should be made by the government for every citizen of China. Citizens, as per their income category, would make payments for such services – this would require subsidies, since the poor section of the society won’t be in a position to cover the expenditures fully. However, once the population is free from the biggest concerns of daily life, the consumption expenditure would increase in true sense. (It won’t be inappropriate to mention here that, in the USA, education and healthcare services form a substantial part of the consumer expenditures, because the general population is turned into debt-serfs through credit money created out of thin air by the Zionist-capitalist banking cabal – but following USA as the role model for society and economy is hardly an intelligent decision for a Marxist socialist government).

3.2 Debate on Four Action points

There would be couple of valid questions from China watchers:

1) Question from intellectuals who identify themselves as ‘ideologically pure Marxist socialist/ Communist’ would be invariably on whether the continued presence of ‘market’ and ‘money’ in China (as I envisage in this article) would allow transformation of the society into a stage 1 socialist society. True, most of the early socialists detested market and money by assuming these as the root cause of all evils, and there were serious research in inter-war Europe and Soviet Union to propose how socialist society can function without market and money. The famous socialist calculation debate during the inter-war period between Austrian School (Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek) and neo-classical and Marxists (Oskar Lange, Abba Lerner, Fred Taylor, Maurice Dobb, and others) was a discourse on the subject of how a socialist economy would perform economic calculation in the absence of the price, money, capital market, and private ownership of the means of production. Without getting into the logic and analysis of such research provided by either side, I would like to maintain that socialism as an economic system is far more efficient than capitalism from social and environmental perspective, and that socialism is highly feasible. In my opinion, Socialism won’t be mortally wounded, if centralized economic planning work as complementary to market mechanism, enterprise functions with restricted profit accumulation, and money is used as a medium of exchange and an unit of calculation (instead of labour-time or physical unit of measure). In defense of my stand, I would quote David McMullen from his working paper titled “Re-Opening the Debates on Economic Calculation and Motivation under Socialism”, “there is nothing preventing an economy where the means of production are socially owned from having an effective price system as long as it can replace the profit motive with a desire by people to undertake work for its own sake and to serve the common good.”;

2) The intellectuals who wouldn’t give a damn to ideology, would like to ask, now that China has almost become a superpower in the realms of industry, technology, defense and space, why to bother about little ideological things like ‘yes to community ownership’ and ‘no to endogenous credit money’, that would be akin to rocking the boat. My response would be, without appropriate ideology, CPC members would become a class unto itself and would not be able to keep its mass base intact over the next 50 years. As a result, corruption, manipulation, nepotism and irresponsible behaviour would increase dramatically leading to loss of public support. Thereafter, it would be just a matter of time that, CPC would be challenged by a political entity (created-aided-abated by the Zionist-capitalist world order). Whether China sets up a base in Mars, in my opinion, is less important than whether China implement the crucial aspects of the stage 1 socialism.

3) Inquisitive readers may come forward with a very practical question – what would happen to people and society in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. Well, I would like to keep them separate as part of the “one country two systems” policy. It would be better for everybody if the regions of Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan are kept outside of this proposed program of final aspects of the stage 1 socialism in China. Let free entrepreneurship operate in these places, including operation of a business enterprise with even 100% private ownership (if the existing laws of those quasi-states permit). After all, those regions didn’t go through the transformation brought out by the Chinese Revolution.

4) Yet another group of informed readers might like to ask if the CPC has the organizational strength, leadership with ideological bent of mind, and all sorts of resources required to implement such an ambitious program. The question of whether the CPC can lead, whether the CPC can prepare a blueprint, and whether the CPC leadership can mobilize resources required for such a mammoth transformation is, actually, the most important issue for eventual success or failure. If a serious reader scans through the 100-year history of the CPC, he/she can come to a conclusion that the party was not built in a day – over the 100 year period, the Chinese leaders kept no stone unturned to keep the socialist dream alive. Extreme hard work by the leaders and members of all factions strengthened the CPC. Hence, in my opinion, the CPC would be able to register a complete success.

There are couple of key suggestions for strengthening the organization to prepare itself better for any eventuality, like: (a) expand membership strength to 140 million (equivalent to 10% of population), new recruits should cover all regions and at least 80% should come from proletariat and petit bourgeois family background; (b) vigorous training sessions for all party members through class-room and practical training, training should be imparted at least once in every 5 years; (c) while 80 years age should be maximum allowable age for a member in the party, average age should be lowered, so that members are physically fit to perform in difficult circumstances.

4. Conclusion

Coming back to the elders’ discussion in Heaven. China has achieved wonderful all-round progress towards building of social capital in the country. Now, to complete the first stage of socialism, China needs to shift the gear to adopt the cycle: Ecosystem → Economic Base → Community → Ecosystem.

It is time for the CPC to undertake the next journey on the socialist road with careful planning and implementation of the milestones. Couple of afterthoughts:

1. Two most crucial objectives for the CPC – socialist transformation and Taiwan reunification – should be undertaken simultaneously, for any attempt to plan those two objectives at staggered timeline may result in disappointment and stagnation. China (and Taiwan) can continue their journey towards more economic prosperity (with considerable inequality) even without achieving socialist transformation objectives, but the main issue refuses to go away – what happens when the Zionist-capitalists in China organize themselves to seize the political power (as they did in Soviet Union)? So, it is not a question of making a decision so that the elders like Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Mao would be delighted in heaven, it’s a question of life and death for socialism, which the CPC would have to confront, most probably before the centenary of PRC appears on the horizon.

2. The CPC Politbureau should own the entire initiative and meticulously prepare two options (plan A and plan B) on detail roadmap containing high-level tasks, sub-tasks, task-owners, task-locations, resource requirement, and timelines to achieve the objectives between 2026 CE and 2030 CE. It is imperative that pre-requisites for and implications of each task pertaining to each of the two plans are deliberated upon in detail before a plan is approved for implementation. Politbureau may involve all members of the Central Committee in thorough discussions on the final aspects of the stage 1 socialism in China and 2 optional plans, and if required, modify the plans with inputs from these two very important groups.

3. For a trouble-free implementation, the CPC should maintain the same senior level team, hence the CPC and the National People’s Congress should re-elect Xi Jinping as President and Li Keqiang as Premier in March 2023 for next 10 years circumventing the existing party constitution, as a special gesture. President, Premier, and all other Politbureau members should visit the building at Shanghai’s French Concession and Jiaxing site that hosted the party’s founding congress in 1921, and reiterate the commitment to maintain the original aspiration of the founding members and continue the journey towards socialism.

4. In this article, I haven’t touched upon the geopolitical and geo-economic themes that permeate the overall architecture within which the Zionist-capitalist world order has been operating since the dawn of 20th century. Since that invariably includes the Chinese state and its people, the existing fabric of geopolitics and geo-economics would certainly get squeezed to some extent with the proposed implementation of the final aspects of stage 1 socialism in China. The surest way for China to confidently face any unforeseen turmoil outside its border is to maintain an unwavering deep strategic partnership with Russia through thick and thin, as we notice currently.

5. Would an auspicious moment arrive in 2031 when people across the world come to know that the stage 1 socialism fully arrived in China? I am one of them who are convinced that, the CPC has the resources, analytical ability, and organizational wherewithal to do it. If it really happens, there would be a tremendous wave of optimism about the possibility of a society based on truth-justice-equality-morality across the poor sections of the society around the world; the Marxist socialist dream that went sour with the dissolution of the USSR, would get a fresh lease of life!


Short profile:

Straight-Bat is an Engineer by profession, currently pursuing higher study in Economics. A keen observer of global affairs, Straight-Bat enjoys being an analyst of history, politics, economy, and geopolitics.

One of the few decade-old members of The Saker blog-site, Straight-Bat finds this website as a capstone entity that is dedicated to focus on truth and justice in public life across the world.

US National Security Strategy Guide دليل استراتيجيّة الأمن القوميّ الأميركيّ

**English Machine translation Please scroll down for the Arabic original version **

بثينة شعبان

Buthaina Shaaban,

Source: Al-Mayadeen Net,

March 22, 15:00

On the threshold of reality produced by the new U.S. administration, we see that the world is heading for a hot cold war of a new kind, because one side, the capitalist West, considers it a battle of existence.

The rule in China has been described as autocratic, and in Russia as an aggressor.

This March, signed by President Joseph Biden, the U.S. National Security Strategy for the current phase was issued in 23 pages covering all the key issues that are a priority in U.S. policy.

On the other hand, the strategy emphasizes the focus on cooperation and partnership with transatlantic allies, on expanding NATO’s base and inviting all countries that believe in this path to join it in the face of China and Russia. The NATO group has been considered to be democratic states and promoters of good governance and human rights, while those who do not join this pat. The ruling in China has been described as autocratic, and in Russia as an aggressor, before using descriptions that are unworthy of any diplomat or politician to describe the President.

The study confirmed that it would support Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang in the face of China, under the pretext of supporting democracies and democratic orientations in the world.

It also becomes clear to the observant reader that the West feels a real threat to this hegemonic system, and is trying in this strategy to seek ways and means that curb its rivals and ensure its continuity on the same rules and foundations that it has been used to for decades, meaning that this strategy is to some extent a search for a path of salvation. From a reality that has become a real threat to the West’s exceptionalism and supremacy in many areas after centuries of plundering the world’s wealth and using it to fuel its hegemony and power over states and countries all over the globe, but this reading of the course of history is a misreading, because the Western capitalist system has lost its prestige after the exposure of the real foundations on which it is based, namely, to fuel war and create chaos, to control the capabilities of peoples and use them to strengthen this capitalist system.

In addition, especially in recent years, the truth of the statements made by Western regimes, from freedom of the media to human rights to good governance, has also been revealed. The reality of the situation has shown that the media in the West is a mouthpiece for the ruling companies and their interests, and that human rights are a slogan used as needed, without any real concern for the human being and his rights.

The terrorist war on Syria, with all its Western hypocrisy and the inability of the West to match China or Russia in the face of the epidemic, contributed to the detection of the truth of Western regimes that use the media in a thoughtful and generous way to inflate their capabilities and dwarf the capabilities of others.

As the media in Russia and China began to gain access to the West, the Platforms of the United Nations and the world, it began to reveal the truth of the falsification that the Western media had adopted for centuries in order to continue to control the bag of money and opinion throughout the world. Therefore, In the face of this thunderous and dangerous exposure, Western countries resorted to using their tools, from locals in different countries buying their consciences with money, to followers who were fascinated by the West and its model, and unable to break free from this illusion, so they continued to encourage and serve the Western model, thinking that it is the best in the world, because colonialism had entered their minds and not only occupied the land. And when colonialism is gone, it left colonized minds ready to carry out orders, because they see in the colonialism a master good in thinking and performance and does not make mistakes, and its a great honor submit and obey orders.

On the threshold of this reality produced by the new U.S. administration, we see that the world is heading for a hot cold war of a new kind, because one of the parties, the capitalist West, considers it a battle of existence, and the rise of China and the expansion of Russia are an existential threat to it, and it is necessary to gather forces, alliances and partners to change the direction of this new reality.

Since the West will not be able to change the direction of the Chinese dragon, and it will not be able to turn back the clock, the international arena is likely to engage in dangerous confrontations, and no one knows yet the serious prices that will be paid as a result, but these prices will be paid by all of humanity, because we are we all share a life on this planet,

It is clear that the U.S. strategy leading a transatlantic bloc and NATO considers itself exceptional in visions, strength and thinking, and that anyone who disagrees with it is an autocracy or aggressor who has no other choice but to return to the path of guidance or to be killed or out of the conflict. These are dangerous concepts for the whole world, and they must be understood with awareness and patience, in order to be addressed with wisdom, composure, cooperation and alliance, to save all humanity from any real and potential dangers.

دليل استراتيجيّة الأمن القوميّ الأميركيّ

بثينة شعبان

بثينة شعبان

المصدر: الميادين نت 22 آذار 15:00

على عتبة الواقع الذي أفرزته الإدارة الأميركية الجديدة، نرى أنّ العالم يتّجه إلى حرب باردة ساخنة من نوع جديد، لأنّ أحد الطرفين، وهو الغرب الرأسمالي، يعتبر أنها معركة وجود.


تمّ وصف الحكم في الصين بأنّه أوتوقراطيّ، وفي روسيا بأنّه معتدٍ

صدرت في شهر آذار/مارس الحالي، وبتوقيع من الرئيس جوزيف بايدن، استراتيجية الأمن القومي الأميركي للمرحلة الحالية، وذلك في 23 صفحة شملت كلّ المسائل الأساسية التي تحظى بالأولوية في سياسة الولايات المتحدة. وبعد قراءة النصّ أكثر من مرة، والتوقّف عند التكرار والتأكيد من فقرة إلى أخرى، لا يُخطئ القارئ المهتمّ بالاستنتاج إذا وجد أنّ الصين تشكّل الهاجس الأكبر لهذه الإدارة، وأنّ سياستها يمكن تلخيصها بمعاداة روسيا ومحاولة كبح جماح تقدّم الصين في النموّ، وخصوصاً في مجال التكنولوجيا والتقدّم العلميّ. 

من جهة أخرى، تؤكّد الاستراتيجيّة التركيز على التعاون والشراكة مع الحلفاء عبر الأطلسي، وعلى توسيع قاعدة الناتو ودعوة كلّ الدول المؤمنة بهذا المسار للانضمام إليه في وجه الصين وروسيا. وقد تمّ اعتبار أن مجموعة “الناتو” هي الدول الديمقراطية والمروّجة للحكم الرشيد وحقوق الإنسان، بينما يعتبر كلّ من لا ينضمّ إلى هذا المسار أوتوقراطياً ومعتدياً. وقد تمّ وصف الحكم في الصين بأنّه أوتوقراطيّ، وفي روسيا بأنّه معتدٍ، وذلك قبل استخدام أوصاف لا تليق بأيّ دبلوماسي أو سياسي لوصف رئيس روسيا. 

وأكّدت هذه الدراسة أنّها سوف تدعم تايوان وهونغ كونغ وشينجيانغ في وجه الصين، بذريعة دعم الديمقراطيات والتوجّهات الديمقراطية في العالم. إنَّ الانطباع الذي يصل إليه القارئ بين السطور هو الخوف الحقيقي من صعود الصين، إذ إنها ذُكرت 18 مرة، والخوف من أن يقدّم أنموذجها بديلاً حقيقياً للنظام الرأسمالي الغربي، بحيث تتبنّاه الشعوب وتقلع عن تبعيتها للغرب، ما يشكّل خطراً على استمرار الهيمنة الغربية وقدرتها على نهب ثروات البلدان والشعوب لتغذية نموها وسيطرتها والاستمرار في بسط سلطتها وهيمنتها على المؤسَّسات الدولية ومقدّرات الشعوب.

 كما يصبح واضحاً للقارئ المتابع أنّ الغرب يشعر بتهديد حقيقيّ لنظام الهيمنة هذا، ويحاول في هذه الاستراتيجية أن يتلمّس الطرق والوسائل التي تكبح جماح منافسيه وتضمن استمراريته على القواعد والأسس ذاتها التي درج عليها منذ عقود، أي أنّ هذه الاستراتيجية تعتبر إلى حدّ ما بحثاً عن طريق خلاص من واقع بات يشكّل خطراً حقيقياً على استثنائية الغرب وتفوّقه في مجالات عدّة بعد قرون من نهب ثروات العالم واستخدامها لتغذية هيمنته وسطوته على الدول والبلدان في كلّ أنحاء المعمورة، ولكنّ هذه القراءة لمسار التاريخ هي قراءة مغلوطة، لأنّ النظام الرأسمالي الغربي فقد هيبته ومكانته بعد انكشاف الأسس الحقيقية التي يقوم عليها، ألا وهي تأجيج أوار الحرب وخلق الفوضى، من أجل السيطرة على مقدّرات الشعوب واستخدامها بما يعزّز نظامه الرأسمالي هذا.

 كما انكشفت، وخصوصاً في السنوات الأخيرة، حقيقة المقولات التي تطلقها النظم الغربية، من حرية الإعلام إلى حقوق الإنسان إلى الحكم الرشيد، وأظهر واقع الحال أنّ الإعلام في الغرب بوق للشركات الحاكمة ومصالحها، وأنّ حقوق الإنسان شعار يستخدم بحسب الحاجة، من دون أيّ حرص حقيقيّ على الإنسان وحقوقه. 

وقد ساهمت الحرب الإرهابية على سوريا، بكلّ ما اعتراها ورافقها من نفاق غربيّ، كما ساهم انتشار “كوفيد 19” وعجز الغرب عن مضاهاة الصين أو روسيا في مواجهة الوباء، في الكشف عن حقيقة النظم الغربية التي تستخدم الإعلام بشكل مدروس وسخيّ كي تضخّم مقدراتها وتقزّم قدرات الآخرين وإمكانياتهم.

ومع انطلاق الإعلام في روسيا والصين ونفاذه إلى الغرب ومنصات الأمم المتحدة والعالم، بدأ يكشف حقيقة الزّيف الذي اعتمده الإعلام الغربي على مدى قرون من أجل الاستمرار في تحكّمه بحقيبة المال والرأي في العالم برمّته. ولذلك، وفي وجه هذا الانكشاف المدوّي والخطير، لجأت الدول الغربية إلى استخدام أدواتها، من سكّان محلّيين في بلدان مختلفة تشتري ضمائرهم بالمال، إلى التابعين الذين خلقوا مبهورين بالغرب وأنموذجه، ولم يتمكّنوا من التحرّر من هذا الوهم، فاستمرّوا في غيّهم وخدمتهم للأنموذج الغربي، ظنّاً منهم أنّه الأفضل في العالم، لأنّ الاستعمار دخل إلى عقولهم ولم يكتفِ باحتلال الأرض. وحين رحل جسداً، ترك وراءه عقولاً مستعمَرَة ومستعدّة لأن تنفّذ أوامره، لأنها ترى فيه السيد الذي يحسن التفكير والأداء ولا يخطئ، كما ترى شرفاً كبيراً في الانقياد له والانصياع لأوامره. 

على عتبة هذا الواقع الذي أفرزته الإدارة الأميركية الجديدة، نرى أنّ العالم يتّجه إلى حرب باردة ساخنة من نوع جديد، لأنّ أحد الطرفين، وهو الغرب الرأسمالي، يعتبر أنها معركة وجود، وأنّ صعود الصين وتمدّد روسيا يعتبران خطراً وجودياً عليه، ولا بدّ من أن يستجمع القوى والتحالفات والشركاء لتغيير وجهة هذا الواقع الجديد.

وبما أنّه لن يتمكن من تغيير وجهة التنين الصيني، كما أنّه لن يتمكَّن من إعادة عقارب الساعة إلى الوراء، فإنّ الساحة الدولية مرشّحة لخوض تجاذبات خطيرة لا يعلم أحد بعد الأثمان الخطيرة التي سيتمّ دفعها نتيجة لها، ولكنّ هذه الأثمان سيدفعها أبناء البشرية جمعاء، لأننا جميعاً نتقاسم العيش على هذا الكوكب، بخلاف النظرة الفوقية الغربية التي تعتبر وجودها ورفاهها الضامن الأساس لبقية البشر الذين يجب أن يكونوا تابعين لها.

من الواضح أنّ الاستراتيجية الأميركية التي تقود كتلة عبر الأطلسي و”الناتو” تعتبر ذاتها استثنائية في الرؤى والقوة والتفكير، وأنّ كلّ من يخالفها الرأي والتوجّه هو أوتوقراطيّ أو معتدٍ لا حلّ لديه سوى أن يعود إلى سبيل الرشاد أو أن يقتل أو يخرج من حلبة الصراع. إنها مفاهيم خطيرة على العالم برمّته، ولا بدّ من فهمها بوعي وأناة، كي يتمّ التصدّي لها بحكمة ورباطة جأش وتعاون وتحالف، لإنقاذ البشرية جمعاء من أي أخطار حقيقية محتملة.

Politics and Literature in a Dystopian Age. The Iron Heel, We, and Collected Essays of George Orwell

Politics and Literature in a Dystopian Age. The Iron Heel, We, and Collected Essays of George Orwell

February 20, 2021

by Francis Lee for the Saker Blog

1. Jack London and the Iron Heelhttps://thesaker.is/politics-and-literature-in-a-dystopian-age-the-iron-heel-we-and-collected-essays-of-george-orwell/

The Iron Heel is a dystopian novel by the American writer Jack London, first published in 1908.

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It is considered to be one of the earliest examples of modern dystopian fiction. It was the fourth of London’s earlier output which included, People of the Abyss (which was in fact journalism rather than literature) and the two novels, Call of the Wild, and White Fang. London was a difficult author to place given his very eclectic political and social philosophy; this was best epitomized in his own estimation as: ‘I am a white man and then a Socialist.’ But perhaps aptly described by Orwell as being a ‘doubtfully reliable Socialist’.

Be that as it may London was an avowed opponent of the capitalist system as he knew it, and how it functioned in the United States. In his book London imagines a proletarian revolution breaking out in the USA. Unfortunately, the revolution was crushed by the ruthless ruling class who staged a counter-revolution. There then followed a long period during which the newly established order was ruled over by a small group of tyrants known as the Oligarchs (Does this sound familiar? FL). The Oligarchs were served by an internal Praetorian Guard known as the Mercenaries. An underground struggle against the dictatorship was precisely the kind of eventuality which London could imagine. He foresaw the now familiar methods of totalitarian regimes which have become commonplace in our own time. For example, the way in which suspected enemies of the regime were made to simply disappear. Hardly novel in our own age.

One of the main themes of the book, however, was London’s incisive view that capitalism was not necessarily going to collapse due to its ‘internal contradictions’ – this being the rather crude orthodox and determinist Marxist view. This was and still is an unfortunate theoretical hiatus that the left continually fails to appreciate – namely, that the ruling class is not just an economic force, it is also a political/ideological force. This implies that the possessive class would be able to form itself into some vast corporation and even to evolve into a form of perverted socialism or State Capitalism. This view of London’s was also to gain some traction in the work of the American social/political theorist, James Burnham, and his theory of The Managerial Revolution. Like many of the radicals of the post WW2 period Burnham was a Trotskyist activist, and like many of the same persuasion duly abandoned Marxism for the following reasons. His seminal work The Managerial Revolution (1941), theorized about the future of world capitalism based upon its development in the interwar period. Burnham weighed three possibilities: (1) that capitalism was a permanent form of social and economic organization and would continue indefinitely; (2) that it was temporary and destined by its nature to collapse and be replaced by socialism; (3) that it was currently being transformed into some non-socialist future form of society. Since capitalism had a more or less definite beginning in the 14th century, it could not be regarded as an immutable and permanent form. George Orwell was impressed (not in a good way) by this work and wrote a review of the book. But I digress.

Returning to Jack London, however, perhaps the key passage in the book is London’s penetrating insight into the mentality of the Oligarchs. It reads:

‘’They, as a class (writes the imaginary author of the book) believed that they alone maintained civilization. It was their belief that, if they ever weakened, the great beast would engulf them and everything of beauty and joy and wonder and good in its cavernous and slime-dripping maw. Without them, anarchy would reign, and humanity would drop backward into the primitive night out of which it had so painfully emerged … In short, they alone, by their unremitting toil and self-sacrifice, stood between a weak humanity and the all devouring beast: and they believed it, passionately believed it.

‘’I (London) cannot lay too much stress on this high ethical righteousness of the whole Oligarch class. This has been the strength of the whole Iron Heel, and too many of the comrades have been slow or loath to realize it. Many of them have ascribed the strength of the Iron Heel to a system of reward and punishment. This is a mistake. Heaven and Hell may be the prime factors of zeal in the religion of a fanatic; but for the great majority of the religious, heaven and hell are incidental to right and wrong. Love of the right, desire for the right, unhappiness than anything less than the right – in short, right conduct is the prime factor of religion. And so with the Oligarchy – the great driving force of the Oligarchs is the belief that they are doing right.’’

In this connexion I seem to recall that, Lloyd Blankfein who was an American investment banker at Goldman Sachs and who served as senior chairman seemed to articulate the same sentiments, i.e. that he was doing ‘God’s Work.’ And of course there was Hillary Clinton pouring her scorn on the basket of deplorables.

For these and many similar passages it can be seen that London’s understanding of the nature of the ruling class – that is the characteristics that a ruling class must have if it is to survive as a ruling class – went very deep. London understood in a way that the left could not was that the capitalist is a cynical scoundrel, without honour or courage and intent in filling his own pockets. Yes, he is all of these things … but more. He is part of a politically and ideologically organized force of true believers which presents a formidable barrier to the would-be revolutionists who tend to underestimate their trickery. The resolve and belief of the ruling elite is, to use an American expression, their ‘manifest destiny’, and was their right to rule both at home and abroad, by force if necessary. He also knew instinctively that the American Businessmen would fight when their possessions were menaced because in their place, he would have thought so himself.

This is where London’s core beliefs exhibited a strain of brutality and an unconquerable preference for the strong man against the weak man. He was an adventurer and man of action as few writers had even been, all of which made him something of a political maverick. Nonetheless much of his time was spent working and lecturing for the Socialist movement, and when he was already a successful and famous man, he would explore the worst effects of poverty in East London (the city) and compile a book: The People of the Abyss – published in 1902. London died at the relatively young age of 41 in 1916.

2. Yevgeny Zamyatin – We

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Yevgeny Zamyatin, who died in Paris in 1937, was a Russian novelist and critic who published a number of books both before and after the Revolution. ‘We’ -was written in about 1923, and though it is not about Russia and has no direct connection with contemporary politics, it is a fantasy dealing with the twenty-sixth century and it was refused publication on the ground that it was ideologically undesirable. The book is not particularly Russian, for once you remove the Russian language, and perhaps one or two minor characters the babushkas who act as guardians of the Ancient House and D503’s building, what is left is a sort of generalised human society. Part of Zamyatin’s point, surely, is that his nightmare states lacks the warm smell and taste of long human habitation and lack any of the recognisable attributes of nationhood. OneState, as it is called is not to be blamed on the Americans or the Bolsheviks or the Industrial Lords of Manchester or Liverpool. It is a fate toward which a thoughtless humanity is hurtling.

We are in the twenty-sixth century, in Zamyatin’s vision of it, the inhabitants of Utopia have so completely lost their individuality as to be known only by numbers. They live in glass houses (this was written before television was invented), which enables the political police, known as the “Guardians”, to supervise them more easily. They all wear identical uniforms, and a human being is commonly referred to either as “a number” or “a unif” (uniform). They live on synthetic food, and their usual recreation is to march in fours while the anthem of the Single State is played through loudspeakers. At stated intervals they are allowed for one hour (known as “the sex hour”) to lower the curtains round their glass apartments. There is, of course, no marriage, though sex life does not appear to be completely promiscuous. For purposes of love-making everyone has a sort of ration book of pink tickets, and the partner with whom he spends one of his allotted sex hours signs the counterfoil. The Single State is ruled over by a personage known as The Benefactor, who is annually re-elected by the entire population, the vote being always unanimous. The guiding principle of the State is that happiness and freedom are incompatible. In the Garden of Eden man was happy, but in his folly, he demanded freedom and was driven out into the wilderness. Now the Single State has restored his happiness by removing his freedom.

But in spite of the vigilance of the Guardians the small and fragile of many of the ancient instincts still survive. The chief character in the story is D503 who is a gifted engineer, but like most of his contemporaries cuts a poor conventional creature who thinks and talks as he is told. However in a moment of madness he falls in love (a criminal act) with a certain I-330 female. During their clandestine romance it emerges that I-330 is a member of an underground resistance movement and succeeds for a while in leading him into rebellion. Come the insurrectionary moment it appears that the enemies of the Benefactor a more numerous than was thought. Characteristics of this subversive movement, apart from overthrowing OneState, were the diabolical practises of smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol.

After D-503s rather weak-willed attempt at defiance he makes amends and is ultimately saved from the consequences of his own folly. For their part, the authorities announce that they have discovered the cause of the disturbances: it became known that human beings were suffering from a disease called ‘imagination’.

This came as a bolt from the blue for D503; to think that he might be suffering from an ‘imagination’. He resolved to talking to a colleague about the condition.

‘’Have you heard about the new operation they have supposed to have developed?’’ Said a colleague.

Yes, I know, but why to you bring that up … because if I were you, I’d go and see about having the operation done.’’

Worse was to follow. D503 was feeling rather unwell and was persuaded to take himself to the Medical Bureau. He was quizzed as to why he had come by the less than welcoming medical staff.

‘’What’s the matter?’’ Why are you standing there?’’

Turned upside down like an idiot, hanging by my feet and burning with shame, D503 said nothing.

S said: ‘’Follow me.’’

I went obediently, swinging useless arms that belonged to someone else. I couldn’t raise my eyes. The whole time I was walking in a wide world turned on its head … We stopped. There were steps in front of me. One step more, and I see figures in white coats, doctors, and the huge silence … There were two of them. One shortish with legs like mileposts, used his eyes as though they were horns to toss the patients. The other was extremely thin. Had lips like scissors and a nose like a blade.

‘’You’re really in bad shape, said scissor nose. It looks like you are developing a soul.’’

A soul? That strange, ancient, long-forgotten word. We sometimes used expressions like ‘soul-mate’, ‘body and soul,’ ‘soul-destroying’, and so on, but soul …

‘’That’s dangerous … extremely dangerous,’’ I murmured.

‘’Incurable,’’ the scissors snapped.

This little tete-a-tete gave rise to a tantrum in milepost.

‘’What’s been going on? A soul? Did you say, a soul? What the Hell! Next thing you know we’ll have cholera again. I told you so … We should operate on all of them, on the imagination. Extirpate the imagination. Surgery’s the only answer … nothing but surgery …’’

(In passing we might add that this is all very suggestive of the Corona pandemic and mass inoculation of the population as part of the Great Reset, transhumanism and so forth. FL)

D503 duly underwent his corrective surgery like a model citizen after which it was easy for him to do what he has known all along that he ought to do – that is to betray his confederates to the police. Additionally and with complete equanimity he watches his ex-lover I-330 tortured by means of compressed air under a glass bell. I-330 along with the captured subversives were, to use the usual Stalinist vernacular, duly ‘liquidated’. In this ideal state death by execution, torture, freedom of speech and assembly, and abject barbarism were common-practice.

The death Machine of the Benefactor is an updated version of the French guillotine. In Zamyatin’s Utopia executions are frequent. They are staged publicly, in the presence of the Benefactor. There are the usual triumphal odes recited by the official poets and before a selected audience consisting of everybody who is anybody. The guillotine-Mark6 of course, is not the old crude instrument, but the latest version of a much-improved model. This instrument functions to literally liquidate its victim, reducing him/her in an instant to a puff of smoke and a pool of clear water. The execution is in fact, nothing less than a human sacrifice, and the scene of pomp and circumstance describing it is given deliberately the colour of the sinister slave civilizations of the ancient world. It is the intuitive grasp of the irrational side of totalitarianism – human sacrifice, cruelty as an end in itself, the worship of a leader who is credited with divine attributes that makes Zamyatin’s book ahead of its time and a future world as described into a real possibility.

Such is nature of all totalitarian systems; the quest of perfecting an ideal society consistently fails simply because human nature is imperfect. This much may be true, but it does not follow that human imperfection is rigidly fixed and – mirabile dictu – human nature can be changed and that should be the objective. In the words of Martin Luther King: ‘’One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”

3. The Collected Essays, Journalism, and Letters of George Orwell, Volumes 1 to 4 covering the period 1920-1950.

Note: I have left out Orwell’s novels and much of his journalism since these are well known, and decided to concentrate on his writings as contained in the 4 volumes put together from 1920 to 1950

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Eric Blair aka George Orwell (1) was born in Bengal in British India in 1903. His father was a minor customs official in the Indian Civil Service. When Orwell was four years old, his family returned to England, where they settled at Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire, a village near London, England. Having won a scholarship he was educated at what was possibly the most prestigious boys school in the UK – Eton. It was customary for boys from Eton to ascend to the highest positions in the British colonial and business class. This was not Orwell’s choice, however. After leaving Eton he joined the Indian Imperial Police and spent the years 1922-27 as a sub-divisional officer in Burma. The five years of isolation in Burma must have been decisive for his approach to writing; at a formative age he was removed from the world of intellectual discussion and the literary reviews with the quick succession of opinions and ideas and given instead action and responsibility and the solitude in which to meditate on the justice to which his work made him a party. It was during this period that Orwell produced two of his early essays, namely ‘A Hanging’ and ‘Shooting an Elephant.’

1. A HANGING: 1931

‘’It was in Burma … A sodden morning of the Rains (Monsoon). A sickly light like yellow tinfoil, was slanting over the high walls into the jail-yard. We were waiting outside of the condemned cells, a row of sheds with double bars, like small animal cages … in some of them brown silent men were squatting at the inner bars with blankets draped around them. These were condemned men waiting to be hanged within the next week or two.’’

Thus the scene was set for the brutal reality of British imperial rule in India.

‘’One prisoner was brought out of his cell. He was a Hindu, a puny wisp of a man, with a shaven head and vague liquid eyes.’’

Orwell and the other warders wanted to get this sordid little business over as soon as possible. They set out for the gallows. It was about 40 yards away. Orwell noted during the last walk of the prisoner:

‘’I watched the bare brown back marching in front of me. He walked clumsily with his bound arms but quite steadily, with that bobbing gait of the Indian who never straightens his knees … And once, in spite of the men who gripped him by each shoulder, he stepped slightly aside to avoid a puddle on the path.’’

The enormity of what he was bound to do began to dawn on Orwell. Taking a man’s life is a profoundly serious business even if he is only – in pure racist terms – a coolie. In such a situation simply being there, in the middle of all this, one is emotionally temporarily suspended. It’s not really happening, it is happening somewhere else, not here for God’s sake!

‘’It is curious but until that moment I had never realized what it is to destroy a healthy conscious man. When I saw the prisoner step aside to avoid the puddle, I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness of cutting a life short when it is in full-tide … He and me were a party of men walking together, seeing, hearing, feeling, understanding the same world; and in two minutes, with a sudden snap, one of us would be gone – one mind less, one world less.’’

After the grisly denouement had been completed a sense of relaxation overtook the hanging party.

‘’The jail Superintendent reached out with his stick and poked the bare body; it oscillated slightly …The moody look had gone out of his face quite suddenly. He glanced at his wrist-watch. ‘‘Eight minutes past eight. Well, that’s all for this morning, Thank God.’’

In fact the whole mood of the hanging party had changed. Several people laughed. At what no-one seemed certain. Assistant Superintendent Francis who was walking by the Superintendent was making a joke of the whole proceedings.

‘’You will scarcely credit, sir, that it took six wardens to dislodge him, three pulling at each leg. We reasoned with him. ’My dear fellow’ he said ’think of all the pain and trouble you are causing to us!’ But no, he would not listen! Ach! he was very troublesome.’’

Job job, job done, to use an English expression. Everyone was now very relaxed after this nauseating little episode.

‘’I found that I was laughing quite loudly. Everyone was laughing. Even the Superintendent in a tolerant way. ‘You’d better all come out and have a drink,’ he said quite genially. ‘I’ve got a bottle of whisky in the car. We could do with it … We all drank together … We all began laughing again … had a drink together, native, and European alike, quite amicably. The dead man was a hundred yards away.’’

2. SHOOTING AN ELEPHANT – 1936

In this second essay Shooting an Elephant he describes how one morning he was called out to deal with an elephant that had run amok and killed a man. He sends for a rifle to defend himself, but when he eventually catches up with the animal, its attack of must is over and it is quietly pulling up tufts of grass and eating them. Orwell knows that the elephant is much too valuable to be shot out of hand – it is like an expensive capital good – and is anyway by now harmless. But the situation is now beginning to get out of hand. A crowd had gathered.

‘’At that moment I glanced at the crowd that had followed me. It was an immense crowd, two thousand at least and growing every minute. It blocked the road for a large distance either side. I looked at a sea of yellow faces above the garish clothes – faces all happy and excited over this bit of fun, all certain that the elephant was going to be shot. They were watching me as they would watch a conjurer about to perform a trick. They did not like me but with my magical rifle in my hands I was momentarily worth watching. And suddenly I realised that I would have to shoot the elephant after all. The people expected it of me, and I had got to do it; I could feel their two thousand wills pressing me there with my rifle in my hands, that I first grasped the hollowness, the futility of the white man’s dominion in the East. Here it was that I, the white man, with his gun, standing in front of the unarmed native crowd – seemingly the leader of the piece; but in reality, I was only an absurd puppet pushed to and fro by the will of those yellow faces behind. I perceived in this moment that when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom he destroys. He becomes a hollow, posing dummy, the conventionalized figure of a sahib. For the condition of his rule he must spend his life in trying to ‘impress’ the ‘natives’. And so in every crisis he has got to do what the natives expect of him. He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it.’’

It is generally agreed that both ‘A Hanging’ and ‘Shooting and Elephant’ are among the best essays that Orwell ever wrote, and they certainly provide the most classic examples of his method of progressing from the individual experience to the general conclusion. What is distinctive is his ability to record on the page the progress of a creative intelligence, producing ideas, not from the ideas of others, but from the experience of life itself.

3. MARRAKECH – 1939

‘’As the corpse went by the flies left the restaurant table in a cloud and rushed after it, but they came back a few minutes later.’’

Orwell had been exposed to third world poverty during his time in India, but this was of a different order. He had been advised by his doctor to leave the murk and fog of an English winter due to a bronchial condition and opt for sunnier climes in the searing heat of north Africa but along with the sunshine came the overpowering abject poverty.

‘’The little crowd of mourners – all men and boys, no women – threaded their way across the market-place between the piles of pomegranates and the taxis and the camels, wailing a short chant, over and over again … When the friends got to the burial-ground, they hacked an oblong hole about two feet deep, dumped the body in it and flung into it a little of the dried-up lumpy earth which is like broken brick. No gravestone, no identifying mark of any kind. The burial-ground is merely a huge mound of hummocky earth, like a derelict building lot. After a month or two no-one can be even certain where his own relatives are buried.’’

How quite different this was to Surrey and Hampshire or even the poverty of Jack London’s East End – People of the Abyss. The poverty was simply breath-taking, and Orwell did not hold back from offending the sensibilities of his readers.

‘’When you walk through a town like this – two hundred thousand inhabitants, of whom twenty thousand own literally nothing except the rags they stand up in – when you see how the people live, and still more how easily they die, it is always difficult to believe that you are walking among human beings … Do they even have names? Or are they a kind of undifferentiated brown stuff, about is individual as bees or coral insects. They rise out of the earth, they sweat and starve for a few years, and then they sink back into the nameless mounds of the graveyards and nobody notices they are gone.’’

In an interesting passage Orwell described what happened to him when he wandered into the Jewish ghetto in the city.

‘’When you go through the Jewish quarters you gather some idea of what the medieval ghettoes were probably like … I was just passing the coppersmiths booths when somebody noticed that I was lighting a cigarette. Instantly, from the dark holes all around, there was a frenzied rush of Jews, many of them old Grandfathers with flowing grey beards, all clamouring for a cigarette. Even a blind man somewhere at the back of one of the booths heard a rumour of cigarettes and came crawling out, groping the air with his hand. In less than a minute I had used up the whole packet. None of these people, I suppose, works less than twelve hours a day, and every one of them looks upon a cigarette as a more or less impossible luxury.’’

For anyone from the relative affluence of the developed world this would be a painful reading experience. Unfortunately, this is the real world – the global South – in which most people have to eke out a living. A little further on his travels Orwell came across a military column marching southward.

‘’As the storks flew northward the Negroes were marching southward. A long and dusty column of infantry, screw-gun batteries, and then more infantry, four or five thousand men in all winding up the road with a clumping of boots and a clatter of iron wheels … But there is one thought which every white man … thinks when he sees a black army marching past. How much longer can we go on kidding these people? How long before they turn their guns in the other direction?’’

Another author puts the situation more succinctly:

‘’The countries of the global South and the majority of their populations are victims of the capitalist/imperialist systems, whereas those of the North benefit from it. Both know this perfectly well, even though they very often either surrender to it (as in the South) or laud themselves for having it (in the North). A radical transformation of the system is not on the agenda of the North, whereas the South remains a region of tempests of repeated and potentially revolutionary revolts. Consequently the initiatives of the people of the South have, and will be, decisive in the transformation of the world – as is demonstrated by the history of the twentieth century.’’ (2)

NOT COUNTING ‘NIGGERS’ (SIC!) (3)

Clarence Streit was an American journalist who played a prominent role in the Atlanticist and world federalist movements and published a book (Union Now) which suggests that democratic nations starting with fifteen which he names, should voluntarily form themselves into a union, not a league nor an alliance, but a union similar to the United States, with a common government, common currency and complete internal free-trade. In the fullness of time other states could be admitted to the union ‘if and when they proved themselves worthy.’

Orwell comments:

‘’It is worth noticing at the outset that this scheme is not so visionary as it sounds. What is there about it that smells? For it does smell of course … Mr Streit has lumped together the huge British and French empires – in essence nothing but mechanisms for exploiting cheap coloured labour – under the heading of democracies. Here and there in the book, though not often, there are references to the ‘dependencies’ of the democratic states. ‘Dependencies’ means subject races. It is explained that they are going to go on being dependencies, that their resources are going to be pooled among the states of the Union, and that their coloured inhabitants will lack the right to vote in Union affairs … India for example is not yet ready for self-government and the status quo must continue.’’

This neatly coincides with the idea of earlier Fabians such as the playwright George Bernard Shaw who enunciated the view that ‘Good government is better than self-government’ (see Fabianism and the Empire) and even worse was the racist/eugenicist, H.G.Wells. He had written in 1902 that …’’those swarms of black and brown, and dirty white, and yellow who do not come into the new needs of efficiency were self-evidently otiose. The World is a World and not a charitable institution and I take it that they will have to go. The whole tenor and meaning of the World, as I see it, is that they will have to go.’’ (4)

How our latter day social and cultural engineers – Klaus Schwab for one – would fervently endorse those sentiments.

Orwell comments:

‘’Mr Streit is letting cats out of bags, but all phrases like ‘’Peace Bloc’’, ‘’Peace Front’’, etcetera contain some such implications; all imply a tightening up of the existing structure. The unspoken clause is always ‘not counting niggers’. For how can we take a ‘firm stand’ against Hitler if we are simultaneously weakening ourselves at home. In other words how can we fight Fascism’ except by bolstering up a far vaster injustice.

For of course it is vaster. What we always forget is that the overwhelming bulk of the British proletariat does not live in Britain but in Asia or Africa. It is not in Hitler’s power, for example, to make a penny an hour the normal industrial wage. It is perfectly normal in India, and we are at great pains to keep it so. One gets some idea of the real relationship between India and Britain when one reflects upon the annual per capita income in Britain is something over £80, and in India about £7. It is quite common for an Indian coolies leg to be thinner than an average Englishman’s arm. And there is nothing racial in this for well-fed members of the same races or of normal physique; it is due to simple starvation. This is the system we all live on and which we denounce when we see that there is no danger of its being altered. Of late, however, it has become the first duty of a good ‘anti-fascist’ to lie about it and keep it in being.’’

So ended the early period and development of Orwell’s undoubted literary talent and political insights together with his ideological convictions. He has been regarded as a towering figure, almost a patron saint of the left; and unlike many armchair revolutionaries, he was prepared to get down and dirty during his time serving in the POUM (Pardido Obrero Unificacion Marxista – Workers Party of Marxist Unity) militia during his time in Spain, where he nearly died of a neck-wound. He was also to experience extreme poverty in England and France during the great depression. Unfortunately, these combined events had a very deleterious effect on his health, and he died after suffering a lifelong battle against TB common among his earlier and famous contemporaries D.H.Lawrence and Anton Chekov.

However, there was an episode late in his life that caused some controversy on the left, this was his association with the Information Research Department (IRD). This was a secret Cold War propaganda department of the British Foreign Office, created to publish anti-communist propaganda, provide support and information to anti-communist politicians, academics, and writers, and to use weaponized disinformation and “fake news” to attack socialists and anti-colonial movements. Soon after its creation, the IRD broke away from focusing solely on Soviet matters and began to publish pro-colonial propaganda intended to suppress pro-independence revolutions in Asia, Africa, Ireland, and the Middle East. The IRD was heavily involved in the publishing of books, newspapers, leaflets, journals, and even created publishing houses to act as propaganda fronts, most notably Ampersand Limited. Operating for 29 years, the IRD was notable for being the longest-running covert government propaganda department in British history, the largest branch of the Foreign Office, and the first major anglophone propaganda offensive against the USSR since the end of World War II.

The IRD is most notable for being the government department to which George Orwell submitted his list of suspected communists (Orwell’s list), including many notable people such as Charlie ChaplinPaul Robeson, and Michael Redgrave. With the help of Orwell’s widow Sonia Orwell and his former publisher Fredric Warburg, the IRD gained the foreign rights to much of Orwell’s work and spent years distributing Animal Farm onto every continent, translating Orwell’s works into 20 different languages, funding the creation of an Animal Farm carton and working with the CIA to create the feature-length Animal Farm animated movie, the first of its kind in British history. Many historians have noted how Orwell’s literary reputation can largely be credited to joint propaganda operations between the IRD and CIA. The IRD heavily marketed Animal Farm for audiences in the middle east to sway Arab nationalism and independence activists from seeking Soviet aid, as it was believed by IRD agents that a story featuring pigs as the villains would appeal highly towards Muslim audiences. The IRD funded the activities of many authors including  Arthur KoestlerBertrand Russell, and Robert Conquest.

I suppose that the fact that this was a time of red scares and anti-communist witch-hunts that did much to poison the political atmosphere in the west. Even the putatively great humanist philosopher, Bertrand Russell advocated using the Atomic Bomb to destroy the Soviet Union in 1948. Readers should make up their own mind as to Orwell’s ‘conversion’ shortly before he died. But the idea of working with the CIA, and MI5 still rankles.

NOTES

(1) Eric Blair changed his name adopting George (After England’s patron saint Saint George) and ‘Orwell’ from the River Orwell in Suffolk

(2) Samir Amin – The Capitalist-Socialist Conflict & The North-South Conflict. – p.26 – From Capitalism to Civilization.

(3) The use of the pejorative term ‘niggers’ is somewhat unfortunate, but it should be read in the context of the essay and the meaning which is intended by Orwell.

(4) Anticipations – H.G.Wells – London 1918 – p.317

The Great Interregnum

The Great Interregnum

February 01, 2021

by Francis Lee for The Saker Blog

The road to the future, to a new expansion as is always close to the heart of capital, led outwards, to the still pleasantly unregulated world of a borderless global economy in which markets would no longer be locked into nation-states, but nation-states locked into markets. (1)

The golden age of post-war capitalism which lasted from the Bretton Woods arrangements of 1944 ended definitively with the great 1971 counter-revolution; a process which began with the removal of the US$ from the gold standard. Since the rest of the world’s currencies were fixed to the dollar these currencies were automatically detached from gold. What emerged, whether by accident or, more likely by design, has defined the contours of the 21st century and this has borne witness to the emergence of a New World Order (NWO) of a neo-liberal, globalization settlement and conjointly the collapse of actually existing socialism. This realignment was by no means accidental and represented fundamental policy changes rather than unconnected random events.

THE RISE OF NEOLIBERALISM AND THE NWO

This NWO has been established on the basis of deep structural changes in the nature of actually existing capitalism and qualitatively different to the welfare, inclusive capitalism of the immediate post-war period. However the counter-revolution caught the left unprepared and who have seemingly been unable to grasp this fact. Moreover the collapse of actually existing socialism ended the historical period of political ascendency of the left – a process which dated back to the Russian revolution of 1917 – and transmuted into the great neo-liberal counter-revolution which began in 1971.

This eclipse of socialism – or anything resembling socialism – has been the feature of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Both social-democratic and even communist parties have been politically marginalised by their theoretical inability to discern the deficiencies in their political agendas. The counter-revolutionary wave of the late 20th century began in stages to sweep all before it. The decline of a moribund social-democracy and even eurocommunism with their entrenched and seemingly immovable policies of an earlier period – Progress through Parliamentary Reform – were found to be wanting, out of date and out of time, running out of steam with their economies plagued by stagflation and declining growth. By the late 60s early 70s Le Trente Glorieuses were no more and this gave rise to the surge of counter-revolution initially led by the Reagan-Thatcher axis. This move into the future was – if anybody noticed – a backward movement. Winners included the then Head of Siemens, Heinrich Von Pierer, to triumphantly proclaim: ‘’The wind of competition has become a storm, and the real hurricanes still lies ahead of us.’’(2)

THE EFFECTIVE DEMISE OF THE LEFT

To think that the Left which had once occupied and dominated Western Europe and consisted of mass parties of social-democrats and communists, and moreover, even in 1945 there were armed communist partisans operating in Albania, Greece, Yugoslavia, Italy, and France, including a large Parliamentary representation.

But the Left capitulated and adapted to the new order and for better or worse – actually worse – and was to imbibe the fashionable doctrines of neo-liberalism.

I vividly remember being a student delegate at Labour Party Annual Conference in the seaside town of Blackpool in 1976. Conference was always a rather tedious and dispiriting affair but this time it was historic. James Callaghan the then Prime Minister gave the following address. The key passage was as follows:

‘’We used to think that you could spend your way out of a recession and increase employ­ment by cutting taxes and boosting Government spending. I tell you in all candour that that option no longer exists, and that in so far as it ever did exist, it only worked on each occasion since the war by injecting a bigger dose of infla­tion into the economy, followed by a higher level of unemployment as the next step. Higher inflation followed by higher unemployment. We have just escaped from the highest rate of inflation this country has known; we have not yet escaped from the consequences: high unemployment.’’ Apparently, Keynes was now passe and Von Hayek was flavour of the month.

What Callaghan was in fact articulating was the demise of social-democracy in the UK, and for that matter everywhere else; it was over, finished, and now a complete political racket infested with careerists and parvenus on the make. So Orwell was right even before then to describe the Labour Party as being ‘pale pink humbug’(The Road to Wigan Pier 1937). The neo-liberals had won, and it was an Atlantic-wide victory. Be advised that a party which calls itself a party of the Left, but which adheres to the neo-liberal orthodoxy is simply a fraud. Ex-centre-left parties have simply moved over to the centre-right en bloc. This project was definitively operationalised with considerable success by Blair (New Labour) and Clinton (political centrism) in the 90s.

TAKE A KNEE TO THEM NOW

This political about-face where the ashes of the left and the emergence of the neoliberal right was presided over by a new goddess known as TINA—There Is No Alternative. The long list of her high priests and priestesses extends from Margaret Thatcher via Tony Blair down to Angela Merkel and Bill Clinton. Anyone who wished to serve TINA, to the accompaniment of the solemn chorus of the united economists of the world, had to recognize the escape of capital from its national cages as both inevitable and beneficial, and would have to commit themselves to help clear all obstacles from its path. Heathen practices such as controls on the movement of capital, state aid and others were to be tracked down and eradicated; no one must be allowed to escape from ‘global competition’ and sink back into the cushioned comfort of national protections of whatever kind. Free-trade agreements were to open up markets and protect them from state interference, global governance was to replace national governments, protection from commodification was to be replaced by enabling commodification, and the welfare state was to give way to the competition state of a new era of capitalist rationalization. By the end of the 1980s at the latest, neoliberalism had become the de rigeuer for both the centre left and the centre right—with haemorrhaging membership and a declining electoral participation, disproportionately so at the lower end of the social scale. Additionally, a beginning in the 1980s this was accompanied by a meltdown of trade-union organization, together with a dramatic decline in strike activity worldwide—altogether, in other words, a demobilization along the broadest possible front of the entire post-war machinery of democratic participation and redistribution The old political controversies were now regarded as being obsolete by the PTB.(3)

THE ROAD TO NEMESIS

But history is full of surprises. In their hubris the new ruling elites were to become victims of their own propaganda, a customary and predictable human failing. Cracks were beginning to show in the neo-liberal paradigm during the holding period of 2008-2020 and the model was, whether they liked it or not, beginning to show deep structural fault-lines. The new economic system was becoming increasingly obsolete and unstable, the elephant in the room is now beginning to make its presence felt. This has been the result in the build-up of problems which were occasioned by the 2008 blow-out.

At the present time, however, the cracks which had papered over the post 2008 bodge and the distribution of national income was increasingly tilted away from the 99% to the 1%. Such a polarization of wealth and income cannot possibly endure without economic and political chaos. The process is in its early stages and represents the most severe trial of the new order since the 1971 establishment. In effect democracy is being sacrificed by the requirements of capitalism. This Great Reset is the Hayekian wonderland of a 21st century slave state.

‘’If capitalism of the consolidation state can no longer produce even the illusion of equitable growth, the time will come when the paths of capitalism and democracy must part. The likeliest outcome would be the completion of a Hayekian social dictatorship in which the capitalist market economy was protected from democratic correction. Its legitimacy would depend upon whether those who once were its citizens would have learned to equate market justice with social justice and to think of themselves as members of a unified marktvolk. Its stability would further require instruments for the ideological marginalization, political disorganization, and physical restraint of anyone unwilling to accept this lesson. Those who refused to bow to market justice, in a situation where political institutions economically, would then be left with what used to be described in the 1970s as extra-parliamentary protest: emotional, irrational, fragmented, and irresponsible. And this is what we would precisely expect if the democratic channels for the articulation of interests and the formation of preferences are blocked, only because the same outcomes can never emerge or because what emerges no longer makes any difference to the markets … The alternative to capitalism without democracy is democracy without capitalism. (4)

So now we are living in a period of what Antonio Gramsci described as the interregnum. “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.”(5) Its outcome can only be guessed at.

La Lotte Continua.

NOTES

(1) Wolfgang Streeck – New Left Review – 104

(2) Der Spiegel 1996

(3)Wolfgang Streeck – New Left Review 104

(4) Grace Blakeley – Stolen: How to Save the World from Financialization -pp.172/73.

(5) Prison Notebooks – Antonio Gramsci.

Can Progressives Save Biden From Disastrous Economic Policies?

Photograph Source: stingrayschuller – CC BY 2.0

BY RICHARD D. WOLFF

Since the 1970s, U.S. real wages have largely stagnated. After a century of real wages rising every decade, that stagnation changed the lives of the U.S. working class in traumatic ways. Likewise, since the 1970s, labor productivity grew steadily, aided sequentially by computers, robots, and artificial intelligence. The combination of stagnant real wages and rising productivity lowered labor’s share of national income in favor of capital’s. Profits consequently soared and took the stock markets with them. Income and wealth were redistributed sharply upward.

The post-1970 trauma of the working class was worsened, as traumas often are, by being minimally recognized and even less discussed in the media, among politicians, or in the academy. Workers thus encountered the end of the century of rising real wages individually as a mysterious evaporation of the American Dream or loss of an earlier American Greatness. They also reacted individually. More members of households (especially adult women) undertook more hours of paid labor outside the home to compensate for stagnant real hourly wages. Households also compensated by borrowing more heavily than any working class anywhere had ever done. Workers wanted so desperately to hold on to that American Dream.

Capital obliged: mortgage and auto debts spread more widely and deeply throughout the U.S. population. Credit cards were newly promoted to consumers who filled millions of wallets with many of them. Toward the end of the 20th century, capital added massive student lending that now exceeds total U.S. credit card debt. Capital thereby supplemented its profits from production (boosted by stagnant wages) by adding interest on consumer and student debts (undertaken because of stagnant wages). No wonder the U.S. stock market boomed in the 1980s and 1990s. No wonder that the Clintons and other centrist Democrats celebrated that debt boom for their political advantage instead of attending to its immense risks and disruptive social costs.

Late 20th-century U.S. capitalism boomed until it could no longer support rising debt levels. Households stressed, families dissolved, and individuals exhausted by ever more hours of labor added severe anxieties to their burdens as rising debts exceeded capacities to service them. Deepening loneliness, divorce, opioid and other addictions, and suicides were among the social costs. Three crashes of U.S. capitalism in the 21st century (2000, 2008, and 2020), each far worse than its predecessor, brought home to the U.S. working class how far its social situation had deteriorated. Individual responses no longer sufficed for millions. They were ready to participate in social movements to express their accumulated anger, bitterness, and rage. They needed such populist movements to do something—or at least to support politicians—to reverse the downward economic and social spiral so many felt trapped in and by.

Donald Trump opportunistically tapped enough of the U.S. working class’s bitterness to swing the votes needed to win the presidency in 2016. However, the interconnected finances and ideologies of the centrist Democrats who had taken over the party after the 1970s shared with Republicans the responsibility for that bitterness. They led the Democratic Party into increasing dependence on donations from the capitalist class. They likewise drifted ever further from the working-class base that had rallied for the Democrats during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The neoliberal turn in U.S. capitalism under Ronald Reagan had two key impacts on the U.S. working class. First, neoliberalism endorsed capitalist globalization and the export of jobs—especially the better-paying, more-unionized jobs—after the 1970s. Second, by accelerating the deregulation of industries and markets, neoliberalism facilitated automation and weakened or removed various labor protections. In short, the neoliberal turn was and remains a major cause of the U.S. working class’s decline and its resulting bitterness and anger.

With progressive leaders, Democrats might have shown the working class that its distress followed from how capitalism functions. Capital flows to where the profits are greatest (where wages are far lower and regulations far fewer than in the United States, for example). Capitalists fund politicians like Reagan to turn policies toward neoliberalism. However, centrists in the Democratic Party shied away from such explanations. The centrist leaders of the Democratic Party were those closest to the party’s capitalist donors (and vice versa). Centrist control of the party blocked it from offering a powerful voice to mobilize working-class opposition to neoliberal job exports, deregulations, attacks on unions, etc. The centrists wanted and depended on capitalists’ donations; that dependence only increased as the party’s working-class support ebbed.

Workers turned away first from activity in and for the Democratic Party; eventually many stopped voting for its candidates. For them, the Democratic Party had failed to advance beyond the New Deal’s achievements. Worse, the party had failed even to protect workers against the multiple ways that neoliberalism undid the New Deal. Many workers felt betrayed. In protest, often unspoken, some began to cross over to vote Republican. Unions increasingly had to downplay or reduce their traditional links to the Democratic Party because growing portions of their members had shifted toward the GOP.

The Republicans, traditionally the employers’ party, had long tried to counter the Democratic Party’s appeal to workers as the traditional employees’ party. Republicans dared not use economic issues, and so they used religion, regionalism, and racism. They could pry portions of the working class away from the Democratic Party by appealing to such noneconomic concerns among workers. Their prime targets included evangelical Christian and other religious fundamentalists portrayed as victims of secularists, the South’s and other regions’ sense of unfair treatment by Washington and coastal elites, and white supremacists portrayed as threatened by rising Black and Brown populations including immigrants.

The centrist Democrats countered by trying to carve out other portions of the working class: women, Black and Brown people, immigrants, and various other minorities. Trump went further than previous Republicans in prying workers away from the Democrats. Joe Biden went further than previous Democrats (including Barack Obama) in focusing his campaign and his new administration on those portions of the working class Democrats prioritized. In these ways, each party’s strategy provoked more extreme versions of the other party’s strategy. Hence the increasingly harsh and rageful tones of major party discourse and behavior generally.

Both major parties, following the dictates of the Cold War, together eviscerated the class-based politics stressed from the 1930s to 1945. An integral part of the undoing of the New Deal was canceling a politics where Republicans confronted Democrats as representatives of employers versus employees. Instead, class conflict quickly faded from both parties’ statements and thinking. They focused instead on carving up the same working class into different, competing portions. Employers are chief funders of both parties, who then limit themselves to minimal references to class issues except for occasional, fleeting campaign rhetoric.

However, the class silence of the major parties created the need and the opportunity for a revival of what they had repressed. Progressives such as Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and a growing number of others across U.S. politics are riding the wave of protest against all that was lost when centrists took over the Democratic Party. That takeover presumed the undoing of the New Deal, the repression of the strong communist and socialist parties built in the 1930s and early 1940s, and the neoliberal turn that came to dominate public policy. Many (not all) of today’s progressives—inside and outside the Democratic Party—want to reconstruct U.S. politics as once again a class politics.

Both major parties are now stuck with their commitments to a system that has failed spectacularly. Private and public sectors were unprepared for and could not contain a deadly virus handled far more successfully in many other countries. U.S. capitalism likewise failed to prepare for or contain the social damage from the latest in its regularly recurring cyclical crashes. These new failures compounded earlier, ongoing failures to overcome global warming and the crisis of U.S. race relations. These and other systemic failures are eroding mass support for those parties just as the mounting sufferings of the working class seek political expression and solutions.

Trump’s right-wing Republicanism solved none of the United States’ basic economic problems; it did worsen income and wealth inequalities. Yet it spoke to millions of working-class people who feel betrayed by the Democrats and attracted by the usual Republican references to religion, region, and race. Obama’s regime had likewise solved nothing in the United States’ basic economic problems while worsening income and wealth inequalities and barely overcoming the 2008 capitalist crash in ways that set up the next one. Obama did speak to millions of working-class people gathered around issues of gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Biden gives every sign—in conditions of even worse economic and political decline—of repeating these oscillating failures. In so doing, he prepares the way for the next Trump.

The key question then revolves around progressives inside and outside the Democratic Party. Do enough of them have the needed clarity of understanding, courage to act, and wisdom to see their deficit in terms of strong organization? Can those who do seize the opportunity to ride a return of class politics into U.S. society? Will they effectively resist both major parties’ efforts to silence and destroy them? Meanwhile, the establishment Democrats and Republicans will continue their oscillating failures as the U.S. system’s mode of decline.

This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Richard Wolff is the author of Capitalism Hits the Fan and Capitalism’s Crisis Deepens. He is founder of Democracy at Work.

Capitalism is Double-billing Us: We Pay from Our Wallets only for Our Future to Be Stolen from Us

October 26, 2020

Air pollution in London. (Photo: File)

Here is a word that risks deterring you from reading on much further, even though it may hold the key to understanding why we are in such a terrible political, economic and social mess. That word is “externalities”.

It sounds like a piece of economic jargon. It is a piece of economic jargon. But it is also the foundation stone on which the west’s current economic and ideological system has been built. Focusing on how externalities work and how they have come to dominate every sphere of our lives is to understand how we are destroying our planet – and offer at the same time the waypost to a better future.

In economics, “externalities” are usually defined indifferently as the effects of a commercial or industrial process on a third party that are not costed into that process.

Here is what should be a familiar example. For decades, cigarette manufacturers made enormous profits by concealing scientific evidence that over time their product could prove lethal to customers. The firms profited by externalizing the costs associated with cigarettes – of death and disease – on to those buying their cigarettes and wider society. People gave Philip Morris and British American Tobacco their money as these companies made those smoking Marlboros and Lucky Strikes progressively unhealthier.

The externalized cost was paid – is still paid – by the customers themselves, by grieving families, by local and national health services, and by the taxpayer. Had the firms been required to pick up these various tabs, it would have proved entirely unprofitable to manufacture cigarettes.

Inherently Violent

Externalities are not incidental to the way capitalist economies run. They are integral to them. After all, it is a legal obligation on private companies to maximize profits for their shareholders – in addition, of course, to the personal incentive bosses have to enrich themselves, and each company’s need to avoid making themselves vulnerable to more profitable and predatory competitors in the marketplace.

Companies are therefore motivated to offload as many costs as possible on to others. As we shall see, externalities mean someone other than the company itself pays the true cost behind its profits, either because those others are too weak or ignorant to fight back or because the bill comes due further down the line. And for that reason, externalities – and capitalism – are inherently violent.

All this would be glaringly obvious if we didn’t live inside an ideological system – the ultimate echo chamber enforced by our corporate media – that is complicit either in hiding this violence or in normalizing it. When externalities are particularly onerous or harmful, as they invariably are in one way or another, it becomes necessary for a company to obscure the connection between cause and effect, between its accumulation of profit and the resulting accumulation of damage caused to a community, a distant country or the natural world – or all three.

That is why corporations – those that inflict the biggest and worst externalities – invest a great deal of time and money in aggressively managing public perceptions. They achieve this through a combination of public relations, advertising, media control, political lobbying and the capture of regulatory institutions. Much of the business of business is deception, either making the externalized harm invisible or gaining the public’s resigned acceptance that the harm is inevitable.

In that sense, capitalism produces a business model that is not only rapacious but psychopathic. Those who pursue profit have no choice but to inflict damage on wider society or the planet, and then cloak their deeply anti-social – even suicidal – actions.

Psychopathic Demands

A recent film that alludes to how this form of violence works was last year’s Dark Waters, concerning the long-running legal battle with DuPont over the chemicals it developed to make non-stick coatings for pots and pans. From the outset, DuPont’s research showed that these chemicals were highly dangerous and accumulated in the body. The science overwhelmingly suggested that exposed individuals would be at risk of developing cancerous tumors or producing children with birth defects.

There were huge profits to be made for DuPont from its chemical discovery so long as it could keep the research hidden. So that’s exactly what its executives did. They set aside basic morality and acted in concert with the psychopathic demands of the marketplace.

DuPont produced pans that contaminated its customers’ food. Workers were exposed to a cocktail of lethal poisons in its factories. The company stored the toxic waste products in drums and then secretly disposed of them in landfills where they leached into the local water supply, killing cattle and producing an epidemic of disease among local residents. DuPont created a chemical that is now everywhere in our environment, risking the health of generations to come.

But a film like Dark Waters necessarily turned a case study in how capitalism commits violence by externalizing its costs into something less threatening, less revelatory. We hiss at DuPont’s executives as though they are the ugly sisters in a pantomime rather than ordinary people not unlike our parents, our siblings, our offspring, ourselves.

In truth, there is nothing exceptional about the DuPont story – apart from the company’s failure to keep its secret hidden from the public. And that exposure was anomalous, occurring only belatedly and against great odds.

An important message the film’s feelgood ending fails to deliver is that other corporations have learned from DuPont’s mistake – not the moral “mistake” of externalizing their costs, but the financial mistake of getting caught doing so. Corporate lobbyists have worked since to further capture regulatory authorities and to amend transparency and legal discovery laws to avoid any repetition, to ensure they are not held legally liable, as DuPont was, in the future.

Victims of Our Bombs

Unlike the DuPont case, most externalities are never exposed. Instead, they hide in plain sight. These externalities do not need to be concealed because they are either not perceived as externalities or because they are viewed as so unimportant as to be not worth factoring in.

The military-industrial complex – the one we were warned about more than half a century ago by President Dwight Eisenhower, a former US general – excels in these kinds of externalities. Its power derives from its ability to externalize its costs on to the victims of its bombs and its wars. These are people we know and care little about: they live far from us, they look and sound different to us, they are denied names and life stories like us. They are simply numbers, denoting them either as terrorists or, at best, unfortunate collateral damage.

The externalities of the west’s war industries are opaque to us. The chain of cause and effect is nowadays obscured as “humanitarian intervention”. And even when war’s externalities come knocking at our borders as refugees flee from the bloodshed, or from the nihilistic cults sucked into the power vacuums we leave behind, or from the wreckage of infrastructure our weapons cause, or from the environmental degradation and pollution we unleash, or from the economies ruined by our plunder of local resources, we still don’t recognize these externalities for what they are. Our politicians and media transform the victims of our wars and our resource grabs into, at best, economic migrants and, at worst, barbarians at the gate.

Snapshots of Catastrophe

If we are entirely ignorant of the externalities inflicted by capitalism on victims beyond our shores, we are gradually and very late in the day waking up to some of capitalism’s externalities much closer to home. Parts of the corporate media are finally admitting that which can no longer be plausibly denied, which is evident to our own senses.

For decades politicians and the corporate media managed to veil two things: that capitalism is an entirely unsustainable, profit-driven, endless consumption model; and that the environment is being gradually damaged in ways harmful to life. Each was obscured, as was the fact that the two are causally connected. The economic model is the primary cause of environmental damage.

People, especially the young, are slowly awakening from this enforced state of ignorance. The corporate media, even its most liberal elements, is not leading this process; it is responding to that awakening.

Last week the Guardian newspaper prominently ran two stories about externalities, even if it failed to frame them as such. One was about micro-plastics leaching from feeding bottles into babies, and the other about the toll air pollution is taking on the populations of major European cities.

The latter story, based on new research, specifically assessed the cost of air pollution in European cities – in terms of “premature death, hospital treatment, lost working days and other health costs” – at £150 billion a year. Most of this was caused by pollution from vehicles, the profitable product of the car industry. The researchers admitted that their figure was an under-estimate of air pollution’s true cost.

But, of course, even that underestimate was arrived at solely on the basis of metrics prioritized by capitalist ideology: the cost to the economy of death and disease, not the incalculable cost in lost and damaged human lives, and even less the damage to other species and the natural world. Another report last week alluded to one of those many additional costs, showing a steep rise in depression and anxiety caused by air pollution.

The other story, on baby bottles, is part of a much bigger story of how the plastics industry – whose products are derivatives of the fossil fuel industry – has long been filling our oceans and soil with plastics, both of the visible and invisible kind. Last week’s report revealed that the sterilization process in which bottles are heated in boiling water resulted in babies swallowing millions of micro-plastics each day. The study found that plastic food containers were shedding much higher loads of micro-plastics than expected.

These stories are snapshots of a much wider environmental catastrophe unfolding across the planet caused by profit-driven industrialized society. As well as heating up the climate, corporations are chopping down the forests that don’t burn down first, ridding the planet of its lungs; they are destroying natural habitats and soil quality, and they are rapidly killing off insect populations.

These industries’ externalities are, for the time being, impacting most severely on the natural world. But they will soon have more visible and dramatic effects that will be felt by our children and grandchildren. Neither of these constituencies currently has a say in how our capitalist “democracies” are being run.

Perception Managers

Capitalism isn’t only harming us, it’s double-billing us: taking first from our wallets and then depriving us of a future. We have now entered an era of deep cognitive dissonance.

Unlike a few years ago, many of us now understand that our futures are at grave risk from changes in our environment – the effect. But the task of today’s perception managers, like those of yesteryear, is to obscure the main cause – our economic system, capitalism.

The increasingly desperate effort to dissociate capitalism from the imminent environmental crisis – to break any perception of a causal link – was highlighted early this year. It emerged that counter-terrorism police in the UK had included Extinction Rebellion, the west’s main environmental protest group, on a list of extremist organizations. Under related “Prevent” regulations, teachers and government officials are already required by law to report anyone who they suspect of being “radicalized”.

In a guide explaining the purpose of the list, officials and teachers were told to identify anyone who speaks in “strong or emotive terms about environmental issues like climate change, ecology, species extinction, fracking, airport expansion or pollution”.

Why was Extinction Rebellion, a non-violent, civil disobedience group, included alongside neo-Nazis and Islamic jihadists? A whole page is dedicated to the threat posed by Extinction Rebellion. The guide explains that the organization’s activism is rooted in an “anti-establishment philosophy that seeks system change”. That is, environmental activism risks making apparent – especially to the young – the causal connection between the economic system and damage to the environment.

Once the story broke, the police hastily rowed back, claiming that Extinction Rebellion’s inclusion was a mistake. But more recently establishment efforts to decouple capitalism from its catastrophic externalities have grown more explicit.

Last month England’s department of education ordered schools not to use any materials in the curriculum that question the legitimacy of capitalism. Opposition to capitalism was described as an “extreme political stance” – opposition, let us remember, to an economic system whose relentless pursuit of growth and profit treats the destruction of the natural world as an uncosted externality.

Paradoxically, education officials equated the promotion of alternatives to capitalism as a threat to free speech, as well as an endorsement of illegal activity, and – inevitably – as evidence of antisemitism.

Suicidal Trajectory

These desperate and draconian measures to shore up an increasingly discredited system are not about to end. They will get much worse.

The establishment is not preparing to give up on capitalism – the ideology that enriched and empowered it – without a fight. The political and media class proved that with their relentless and unprecedented attacks on Labour opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn over several years. And Corbyn was offering only a reformist, democratic socialist agenda.

The establishment has also demonstrated its determination to cling on to the status quo in its relentless and unprecedented attacks on Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who is locked away, seemingly indefinitely, for revealing the externalities – the victims – of the west’s war industries and the psychopathic behavior of those in power.

Efforts to end the suicidal trajectory of our current “free market” system will doubtless soon be equated with terrorism, as the Prevent strategy has already intimated. We should be ready.

There can be no escape from the death wish of capitalism without recognizing that death wish, and then demanding and working for wholesale change. Externalities may sound like innocuous jargon, but they and the economic system that requires them are killing us, our children and the planet.

The nightmare can end, but only if we wake up.

– Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His books include “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). Visit his website www.jonathan-cook.net. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

Covid Candide: Isn’t this the best of all possible worlds… and pandemic responses?

Covid Candide: Isn’t this the best of all possible worlds… and pandemic responses?

August 08, 2020

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

Eight months into the modern, digitised world’s first-ever global pandemic the results are in: Every government has failed miserably.

Despite the vast differences between socialist-inspired nations and capitalist nations every single government in 2020 has forfeited the chance at the possibility of maybe perhaps having something like a little bit of a rightly-guided mandate of heaven.

Our 2019 taxes must be refunded everywhere. What a waste voting has been, to say nothing of those few countries which have sustained modern revolutions.

Those in the know are hunkering down and bunkering up because the pandemic is proving that “government” (social organisation and collective unity) is an outdated concept in our modern, digitised, disease-ridden world.

Thus, the way you certainly are – wherever you are – being egged into hating your local, rather-poorly paid bureaucrat is something of a major propaganda coup for government-slashing neoliberalism, is it not?

Neoliberalism, per its tenets, cannot congratulate any government for anything other than self-immolation, so how can Western corporate media – owned by a handful of neoliberals – publicly congratulate any government for their handling of this unprecedented corona crisis? They cannot, so neoliberals are publicly shining in glorious vindication that all government is bad, unless and inept, period: the pandemic has decisively proven There Is No Alternative to neoliberalism.

Who knew a virus had enough innate intelligence to contain a political ideology, and despite not even being a life form with a cellular structure? This only proves that God – in His wisdom – is an American neoliberal.

Preposterous, faith-based radicalism, of course….

But firstly: Call me contrarian if you must, but don’t call this “Leibnizian optimism”: I think every nation has done spectacularly well in dealing with Covid, regardless of their guiding ideology.

The West got what they hysterically demanded, yet government is still a Satanic beast?

I think countries like China, Iran, Cuba and Vietnam had a fantastic response to Covid. People died, but not anywhere as many as we initially feared. Tons of radical measures were taken designed to protect the public good, armies of volunteers answered the call, hardships were attempted to be standardised, their peoples showed huge amounts of bravery, self-sacrifice and patience.

However, I see nearly all of these same virtues in the peoples of Western nations as well – don’t you?

Sweden succeeded without a Great Lockdown because their people – who also compose their government – acted so correctly and courageously. The idea that the exact same self-sacrificing virtues aren’t evident all over the place in the US as well is contradicted by countless individual testimonies. The first article I wrote on corona was a backhanded compliment to the West, after all: Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience? The West FINALLY issued some “People’s QE” – that was a huge improvement over the West’s previous decade of fiscal policies, certainly.

Indeed, the global pandemic response was the best of all possible worlds, worldwide: incredible concern for public health, a rollback to rabidly right-wing economic policies, and not anywhere close to the number of deaths we all had wild-eyed fears about.

Some systems had more limitations than others – be they cultural, political, financial or whatever – but every government tried to limit the pandemic amid these differing limitations. And they did it democratically, in the broadest sense of that term: Which government truly defied the will of their own majority? I can’t think of any.

The West got exactly what they wanted according to all the polls back then – a Great Lockdown – amid total hysteria, and in total disregard for the political and socio-economic laws which govern their societies and… they are still not happy with their government?!

Clearly, those in their media are shaping public perceptions in order to foment unrest and dissatisfaction instead of urging clarity and stoic realism – this article praising governments should not be such an outlier, but it certainly is.

To be clear, the problem was not necessarily the Great Lockdown but what will come after such a drastic move in certain countries. The West has capitalist-imperialist ideologies which ensure that a Great Lockdowning cannot be coped with – in the US the Republican Party, which is refusing to extend unemployment insurance, is currently insisting this be proven emphatically.

I insisted from the start that when a natural disaster hits – you have no choice but to dance with the girl that brung ya. Mid-crisis is not at all the time to reinvent the wheel, but the time to trust the defences you have been building (or in the case of neoliberalism: not building). The West, of course, has very poor political defences thanks to four decades of anti-government neoliberalism and an even longer history of deranged frontier libertarianism. All the West can do is throw their tons of money at the problem – too bad that can’t buy a modern political infrastructure, culture, perspective, etc.

Building that modern, post-1917 political infrastructure is what the West now has to do, or collapse. Thus, covid is going to drag the West kicking and screaming into political modernity.

Voltaire never lived in the digitised world, much less a truly democratic one

I wouldn’t take down his statue but I would reject the bitter and individualistic (and thus very French) outlook he presented in Candide, where optimism is only for fools. For Voltaire the mantra of the character Pangloss – that “this is the best of all possible worlds”, despite his encountering one misfortune after another – is something to be derided: Pangloss is an idiot for not giving in to black resentfulness.

Well, that’s one view – a mighty cynical one. For those of us lucky to still be alive and fully healthy in August 2020 – that seems like a rather ungrateful perspective, no?

Voltaire’s final moral of “tend your own garden” sounds like Taoist individualism from a guy who was supposed to admire Confucianism, which is active, social and judgemental. We are all stuck at home tending our garden and, guess what: a monkish existence is a lonely, self-centered, unsatisfying and even unproductive life – it is unsurprising that the extremely social and active religion of Islam forbids monasticism and demands charitable social works.

I don’t know what people expected from our modern digitised world in our first-ever response to a pandemic, but judging from the criticism of civil servants it’s clear that many people were expecting way too much. No state worker could make unfat all the Americans who have perished prematurely; no state worker had a fountain of youth for the over-80s who compose the bulk of Sweden’s dearly departed. The Western “Karen’s” babyish “war on dying” was always setting up governments to fail and for faith in political institutions – any institution – to be incorrectly lessened.

Those who read the paper regularly know that the world was not paradise back in December 2019. When we consider how badly things were supposed to get back in spring, pondering the possibility that this is the best of all possible worlds is truly worth more than a moment’s reflection.

And then you can explain to me how this pandemic could have possibly been better handled with less government? This is the impossible task of the deranged American libertarian, the European technocrat, and the neoliberal aristocrat/comprador around the world.

If there is one thing I know for certain it’s this: Covid has definitively proved that big government is our ONLY defense against an often-cruel natural world.

Duh…. Countries who have endured an actual war – not a pandemic war – already knew this.

The US and Eurozone governments have done well in spite of the limitations presented by their elitist and reckless neoliberalism, but the “anti-all government crowd” will eventually be forced to admit that – when compared with socialist-style governments, with their central planning and authority to lead in a crisis – their neoliberal ideals have failed everyone, will continue to fail everyone, and are expressly designed to fail everyone and leave people at the mercy of that often-cruel natural world.

Honest critics of neoliberal capitalism saw all that long ago.

Covid will ultimately be seen as the killer of neoliberalism, not its vindicator.

That’s why it’s not surprising to see so many anti-socialist commentators trying to declare the opposite: they are the ones saying 2+2=5, not any “Big Brother” central government. Again, this pro-government article shouldn’t be so rare – this went pretty well for the first modern, digitised global pandemic. But what do we do now?

Answer: no way we go back to anti-government neoliberalism. This exact light is being switched on in minds around the world.

So, for socialists: it came at a very heavy cost, but this is the best of all possible worlds!

*********************************

Corona contrarianism? How about some corona common sense? Here is my list of articles published regarding the corona crisis.

Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience? – March 22, 2020

Corona meds in every pot & a People’s QE: the Trumpian populism they hoped for? – March 23, 2020

A day’s diary from a US CEO during the Corona crisis (satire) March 23, 2020 – March 25, 2020

Tough times need vanguard parties – are ‘social media users’ the West’s? – March 26, 2020

If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone – March 30, 2020

Landlord class: Waive or donate rent-profits now or fear the Cultural Revolution – March 31, 2020

Corona repeating 9/11 & Y2K hysterias? Both saw huge economic overreactions – April 1, 2020

(A Soviet?) Superman: Red Son – the new socialist film to watch on lockdown – April 2, 2020

Corona rewrites capitalist bust-chronology & proves: It’s the nation-state, stupid – April 3, 2020

Condensing the data leaves no doubt: Fear corona-economy more than the virus – April 5, 2020

‘We’re Going Wrong’: The West’s middling, middle-class corona response – April 10, 2020

Why does the UK have an ‘army’ of volunteers but the US has a shortage? – April 12, 2020

No buybacks allowed or dared? Then wave goodbye to Western stock market gains – April 13, 2020

Pity post-corona Millennials… if they don’t openly push socialism – April 14, 2020

No, the dollar will only strengthen post-corona, as usual: it’s a crisis, after all – April 16, 2020

Same 2008 QE playbook, but the Eurozone will kick off Western chaos not the US – April 18, 2020

We’re giving up our civil liberties. Fine, but to which type of state? – April 20, 2020

Coronavirus – Macron’s savior. A ‘united Europe’ – France’s murderer – April 22, 2020

Iran’s ‘resistance economy’: the post-corona wish of the West’s silent majority (1/2) – April 23, 2020

The same 12-year itch: Will banks loan down QE money this time? – April 26, 2020

The end of globalisation won’t be televised, despite the hopes of the Western 99% (2/2) – April 27, 2020

What would it take for proponents to say: ‘The Great Lockdown was wrong’? – April 28, 2020

ZeroHedge, a response to Mr. Littlejohn & the future of dollar dominance – April 30, 2020

Given Western history, is it the ‘Great Segregation’ and not the ‘Great Lockdown’? – May 2, 2020

The Western 1% colluded to start WWI – is the Great Lockdown also a conspiracy? – May 4, 2020

May 17: The date the Great Lockdown must end or Everything Bubble 2 pops – May 6, 2020

Reading Piketty: Does corona delay the Greens’ fake-leftist, sure-to-fail victory? – May 8, 2020

Picturing the media campaign needed to get the US back to work – May 11, 2020

Scarce jobs + revenue desperation = sure Western stagflation post-corona – May 13, 2020

France’s nurses march – are they now deplorable Michiganders to fake-leftists? – May 15, 2020

Why haven’t we called it ‘QE 5’ yet? And why we must call it ‘QE 2.1’ instead – May 16, 2020

‘Take your stinking paws off me, you damned, dirty public servant!’ That’s Orwell? – May 17, 2021

The Great Lockdown: The political apex of US single Moms & Western matriarchy? May 21, 2021

I was wrong on corona – by not pushing for a US Cultural Revolution immediately – May 25, 2021

August 1: when the unemployment runs out and a new era of US labor battles begin – May 28, 2021

Corona proving the loser of the Cold War was both the USSR & the USA – May 30, 2021

Rebellions across the US: Why worry? Just ask Dr. Fauci to tell us what to do – June 2, 2021

Protesting, corona-conscience, a good dole: the US is doing things it can’t & it’s chaos – June 3, 2021

Why do Westerners assume all African-Americans are leftists? – June 5, 2020

The US as Sal’s Pizzeria: When to ‘Do The Right Thing’ is looting – June 6, 2020

The problem with the various ‘Fiat is all the problem!’ (FIATP) crowds – June 9, 2020

Politicisation of Great Lockdown result of ‘TINA’ economic ignorance & censorship – June 14, 2020

Trump’s only hope: buying re-election with populist jobless benefits – June, 16 2020

US national media is useless – so tell me the good local news sources? – July 4, 2020

Hamilton movie: central banker worship & proof the US has no left – July 8, 2020

News flash: Capitalism has no answer for 50 million jobless people – July 11, 2020

Naive Millennials: it’s the man (Trump) & not ‘The Man’ (the US system) – July 18, 2020

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the NEW Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism.

Medicine as religion

May 23, 2020

Source

Medicine as religion

original Italian text by by Giorgio Agamben
translated for The Saker Blog by Gulab Bara
posted by permission of the author
original article here: https://www.quodlibet.it/giorgio-agamben-la-medicina-come-religione

It is now plainly evident that science has become the religion of our times, the one that humans believe they believe in. In the modern west, three great systems of faith have coexisted, and to some extent continue to coexist—Christianity, capitalism, and science. In the history of modernity, these three “religions” have intersected a number of times, occasionally coming into conflict before reconciling in one way or another, gradually finding a kind of peaceable and sensible coexistence, if not a real and proper alliance in the name of common interest.

What is new is, that without us noticing, an underlying and implacable conflict has been reignited between science and the other two religions. The victorious outcomes of this conflict for science are today right under our eyes and noses, conditioning every aspect of our existence in unprecedented fashion. Unlike previous conflicts, this one does not concern theory and general principles, but rather religious practice, so to speak. In fact, like every religion, science organizes itself in different forms and levels to establish a structured order. At the theoretical level, science features a subtle and rigorous dogma, while at the practical level there is a corresponding religious sphere that is extremely broad and detailed. This sphere coincides with what we call “technology.”

It is unsurprising that the central role in this new religious war is played by medicine, a field of science that is relatively undogmatic and strongly pragmatic, concerned directly with the living body of human beings. Let’s try to define the essential characteristics of this triumphant religious faith, with which we must increasingly come to terms.

  1. The first characteristic is that medicine, like capitalism, has no need of any special dogma; it limits itself to borrowing its fundamental concepts from biology. Unlike biology, however, it organizes these concepts in a gnostic-manichean sense, i.e., in accordance with an exaggerated dualistic opposition. There exists an “evil” power or principle, which is disease, whose specific agents are bacteria and viruses. At the same time, there exists a “good” force or principle. But this opposing principle is not health, but rather healing, delivered by doctors through medical treatment. As in every gnostic faith, the two principles are clearly separate, but in the real world they can contaminate each other. The power of good, or a doctor that wields that power, can make mistakes and conspire unwittingly with the enemy, without invalidating the dualism and the necessity of the religious practice by means of which the principle of good battles that of evil. Significantly, the “theologians” that are defining the battle strategy are the representatives of a branch of science, virology, that does not occupy a clear space of its own, instead sitting at the boundary between biology and medicine.
  2. Up to now, the religious practice of medicine has been episodic and of limited duration, like other forms of religious worship, but unexpectedly the current phenomenon has become permanent and omnipresent. It is no longer just a matter of taking some medication or undergoing a medical examination or surgical procedure whenever necessary. Our whole lives must become the objects of an uninterrupted religious observance. The enemy, the virus, is ever-present. It must be combated incessantly, without any prospect of a ceasefire. Although similar totalitarian tendencies have marked the Christian religion, these affected limited individuals, most notably monks who opted to devote their whole lives to prayer. The religion of medicine takes this Pauline principle and completely inverts it, however. Whereas monks would assemble to pray in their monasteries, our new religion must be practiced apart, at a distance, though just as earnestly.
  3. Religious practice is no longer voluntary, subject solely to sanctions of a spiritual nature. It must be rendered obligatory by laws and decrees. The collusion between religion and secular power is nothing new, of course. What is totally new, though, is the exclusive concern with the observance of religious practice rather than the profession of dogmas, as was the case with Christian heretics. The secular power must be vigilant to ensure that the religion of medicine, at this point in time a lifelong faith, is promptly observed in every detail. It is immediately evident that we are dealing with a religious practice and not a scientific, rational need. The most frequent cause of death in this country by far is cardiovascular disease. It is well known that its mortality can be easily reduced by healthier living and eating. Yet, no doctor ever considered it necessary to resort to legal measures to compel patients to follow a prescribed lifestyle and diet, to decree what people eat and how they should live, transforming the whole of existence into a set of mandatory healthcare requirements. But it is precisely this that has been done, and at least for now, people have accepted it, as if it were an obvious thing to renounce one’s freedom of movement, work, friendships, loves, social relations, religious faith, and political creeds.

Here, we see how the other great religions of the west, the religion of Christ and the religion of money, have ceded their supremacy to medicine and science, seemingly without resistance. The Catholic Church has disavowed its principles, pure and simple, forgetting that the saint from which the current pontiff takes his name embraced lepers, that an essential element of compassion is to minister to the sick, and that the holy sacraments can only be administered in person. For its part, capitalism, even if with some reluctance, has accepted previously unimaginable losses of productivity, likely hoping to eventually find some accord with the new dominant religion, which seems open to some compromise on this point. XXX

  1. The religion of medicine appears to have unreservedly taken over the function of eschatology, a field of theology that Christianity abandoned long ago. Capitalism had already secularized the theological paradigm of salvation to eliminate the idea of “end time,” substituting it with a permanent state of crisis, without redemption or end. The concept of “crisis” originates with medicine. In the Hippocratic Corpus, krisis indicated the moment when the physician decided if the patient would survive the illness. Theologians later appropriated the term to refer to the Final Judgement on the final day of the world. Reflecting on the extraordinary situation we now face, we might conclude that the medical religion has merged the perpetual crisis of capitalism with the Christian idea of end time. The result is a sense of apocalypse and an unremitting urgency to make extreme decisions. The end is hastened and deferred in turns, in an unrelenting attempt to manage the crisis, without ever resolving it once and for all. It is the religion of a world that feels that it is nearing the end, yet that remains incapable, like the Hippocratic physician, of deciding if it will survive or die.
  2. Like capitalism (but unlike Christianity), the religion of medicine offers no prospect of salvation or redemption. In contrast, the healing at which it aims can only ever be temporary, since the force of evil, the virus, can never be completely eliminated. It mutates continually, assuming new forms, ever more risky it is presumed. As its etymology suggests, “epidemic” is above all a political concept (in Greek demos means people or population; polemos epidemios in Homer refers to civil war), which fits with the fact that it has become the new landscape of global politics, or perhaps “non-politics.” Indeed, the current epidemic may represent that global civil war that some astute political scientists have claimed has taken the place of traditional world wars. Are all the nations and peoples of the world in a protracted war with themselves, because the invisible and elusive enemy they are grappling with lies within them?

Just as at other critical junctures in history, philosophers will need to engage in debate and dispute with religion; this time not with Christianity, but rather with science, or at least that part of it that has assumed the guise of a religion. I’m not sure if we will see a return to the burning and blacklisting, but as already evident, the views of those who seek the truth and refuse to accept the dominant fictions will undoubtedly be excluded from public discourse, or met with accusations of purveying fake news (news, not ideas, because news is more important than reality). As in every emergency, real or simulated, the ignorant will smear the sages and scoundrels will seek to profit from the misfortunes that they themselves have provoked. All this has already happened and will go on happening, but those who bear witness to the truth will continue to do so, since no one can bear witness for the witness.

Giorgio Agamben
May 2, 2020

Who Are You to Call Me a Virus?

By Jeremy Salt

Source

Trump Delivers Remarks During a Coronavirus Update Briefing 01d3b

So the actor Alec Baldwin thinks Trump is a virus. An interesting idea, the virus as a metaphor. Some would say the US itself is a virus, taking millions of lives in its endless wars. Yet others would say we, homo sapiens, are the virus. Imagine how we must look from a million miles away. Squiggling organisms hanging on to a clod of earth as it whirls through space.

Corona is only doing what viruses do. They latch on to living bodies, and die or mutate into different forms when the host can no longer sustain them, which is the state the host of the organism known as homo sapiens, Planet Earth, seems to be rapidly approaching. We adapt to changing circumstances, as all viruses do, but are we are reaching the point when it will be too late to adapt?

Like any virus, we are consuming our host, and never more greedily than in the past 100 years.We are being warned all the time that when the planet is ecologically dead, we will die too. We know this but, riddled with another virus, consumerism, we cannot stop ourselves. We take what we can while we can, just like the viral microdots colonizing our bodies as we once colonized Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. Those affected died in their millions. We in the ‘developed world’ lived off their poverty and plundered resources. Now it is our bodies being plundered by an enemy we cannot even see.

We are already being told there will be no return to the normal. Of course, there is no static normal any more than there is a static ‘human nature.’ ‘Normal’ and ‘human nature’ depend on geography, education, cultural conditioning, socio-economic structures and natural or man-made disasters such as war and earthquakes. Both change as circumstances change. Additionally, what is normal in one society is not necessarily regarded as normal somewhere else. ‘Normal’ is what we perceive as being normal, what we are taught to believe is normal but that changes, too. Who in the 19th century could have believed that governments around the world would pass legislation allowing men to marry each other?

Our greedy leaching of the planet’s resources may be hastening the frequency and increasing the scale of natural disasters. After all, how much battering can any fixed object take? Hit a rock often enough and hard enough and it will break. So will iron. While earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis have been recorded throughout history, sinkholes appear to be relatively new. They certainly weren’t in the news three or four decades ago. Could they be a sign that the tormented earth’s crust just can’t take it anymore?

Accelerating consumption requires accelerating industrialization to meet demand. We in the so-called ‘developed world’ know that even if we can drink clean water and breathe relatively fresh air, countless millions elsewhere don’t have either. They live in Africa or they work in the factories of China and Southeast Asia that produce the goods enabling us to lead the good life. Their cheap labor subsidizes the way we live. Their air, rivers, and seas are heavily polluted because of the absence of effective environmental safeguards in their world. This is not accidental or coincidental but the inevitable consequence of economic ‘globalization.’

When the normal gives way to the new normal, what will we learn, something or nothing? The fallout is bound to be substantial. The virus has again exposed the corrupt underpinnings of capitalism. This has happened many times before but we still don’t learn the lesson. Capitalism commodifies everything. Much of what used to have a moral value now has only a market value. Education is still regarded as a right and a necessity, as it certainly is for a corporate sector needing workers and consumers, but the quality frequently depends on money. As for health care, in most ‘liberal democracies’ the citizen only gets as much as he or she can afford. Public health in the US is frequently provided in hospitals starved of staff and resources. This is the same population the capitalist order wants to work and consume endlessly but is not prepared to pay for health services to make sure it can do both.

Globalization appeared as the latest evidence of the adaptability of the capitalist order. It was based on the ‘deregulation’ of economies, which added up to the clearing away of all global obstacles in the way of corporate profits. National borders were turned into lines on the map and governments into the regional satraps of corporations, which would make their offers and go somewhere else if their terms were not accepted. As they had the money, they had the power.

Societies were turned against each in the interests of profit. With tariff barriers dropped, the corporations closed their factories and headed for countries where labor was cheap and the workforce controlled by anti-strike legislation and the competition for jobs. In these countries, they could produce goods at a fraction of the production costs in their home countries. They could then export their goods back to the home country and sell them as if they had been made there.

This is not just what governments allowed but encouraged. They opened the door to the flight of manufacturing industry. In cities across the US, Britain, Australia, wherever one looked, once-thriving factories were abandoned and the people who worked in them left without jobs and possessed of skills employable only in other factories that had been closed down. The privatization of essential government services swung into effect at the same time. Given that no risk was involved in the supply of water, gas and electricity, this was no more than the transfer of vast amounts of public money into private pockets. Social services built up with public money over more than a century disappeared almost overnight. The fine old buildings from which these services were provided were sold off for corporate use.

These shifts were harnessed to the destruction of labor unions and the notion of ‘enterprise bargaining’ which left the individual worker in search or a higher salary or better working conditions to face the corporation on his or her own. This was like putting a bantamweight into the ring to fight a heavyweight. Herbert Spencer’s rugged 19th-century individualism and the jungle rules of social Darwinism underpinned the new order, summed up by Margaret Thatcher in her remark that “there is no such thing as society.” Economically, of course, for the corporations to take maximum advantage of the new/old circumstances, society – a word denoting a small or large human community working together for the common good and forming associations to protect common interests – there could be no such thing as what society used to be.

Alighting on new hosts, the virus of globalization left the old host in ruins. The rust belt in the US is the evidence. Factories were closed down en masse and cities fell into ruin. Livelihoods had already been swept from under the feet of blue and white-collar workers when the financial institutions collapsed in 2008/9. The endless privatization of profit was succeeded by the socialization of loss. It was the people who had to pay for the corruption and malpractice endemic in financial institutions, through the loss of their jobs and homes and the siphoning-off of their taxes. The res publica – the ‘public thing’ – had shown the people where their government’s first loyalties lay.

According to Mike Collins, writing in Forbes business magazine, “The operating principles of the big banks is a cesspool of greed, [lack of] ethics and criminal intent.” Insider trading was a large part of the picture, so was money-laundering with the US branch of HSBC bank, which was found to have laundered $881 billion for Mexican drug cartels. The rating agencies (Moody’s and Standard and Poor) giving a AAA rating to the banks granting a flood of unrepayable sub-prime mortgages were paid by the same banks. By 2015, Mike Collins estimated, the bailout had cost not the $700 billions the people were originally told but $16.8 trillion (Mike Collins, ‘The Big Bank Bailout,’ Forbes, July 14, 2015.)

There had to be some sacrificial lambs (Lehman Brothers) but with the help of ‘government’ money – the people’s money – the rest were soon back on their feet, making mega profits without having to pay back one cent of the torrents of cash that had pulled them out of the ditch. What better metaphor can there be for such rapacious capitalism than that of the virus? Having eaten its way through society – the host body – it was then given a new lease of life by a government elected to protect society.

The virus is a metaphor that has no limits. All living things consume to live. Something has to die so they can live. Some people eat to live. Others seem to live to eat. They are encouraged to over-consume by the addictive ingredients deliberately fed into the food and drink chain by producers. An obese population is an unhealthy population but one that keeps returning healthy profits even as medical costs soar that the corporations don’t have to pay. The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 42.7 percent of the US population was obese in 2017/18, with the prevalence of obesity increasing 1999-2000 from 30.5 to 42.4 percent. The annual cost of treating obesity was $147 billion. Thus, while Africans and many others starve, many Americans are eating until they practically burst.

Extreme violence is another aspect of the American demographic. The viral nature of capitalism requires a police and a miitary to suppress discontent at home and open up new territories abroad. Profit-seeking can know no territorial limits. Like any virus, it will spread as fast and as far as it can. Eduardo Galeano’s ‘open veins’ of Latin America were veins opened up in every part of the non-European world. The prize was natural resources, the means were the cycles of invasion and occupation that have continued for centuries down to our time. When Donald Trump says of Syria’s oil that it is ours “and we will do with it what we want” he was only expressing the logic that has underlain imperialism all along, if rarely so crudely expressed.

Most wars have an economic motive, usually dressed up as what we are doing for you, not what we are doing to you. The wars on Iraq were not only about oil, as they were designed to pulverize a country regarded as threatening to ‘order’ and ‘stability’ as defined by the US and more generally ‘the West.’ The language was the same in the 19th century and between then and now, so were the consequences for the native population: mass destruction and death. By such means were ‘civilization’ and progress preserved. Only the principal actors (Britain and France in the 19th century, the US now) and the technology have changed, the latter allowing the invader to kill and crush more comprehensively.

American violence has a viral quality, intrinsic to the organism from the beginning of European settlement. Once the native Indian population had been suppressed, other threatening elements had to be contained and destroyed as they arose. As blackness threatened whiteness, Afro-American were enslaved, segregated, lynched and burnt alive until finally granted the rights and opportunities that came as the birth right of white Americans. Random killings by police, the massively disproportionate black prison population and the activism of white supremacists stand as the evidence even now that the virus of racism has not been suppressed.

Viruses always move on. Suppressed by a vaccine, they will mutate into a slightly different form and take root again in the host body. This is what the world is experiencing with the coronavirus, which surfaced just after the financial institutions began to plunge into a deeper abyss than 2007/8. According to the New York Times, the US administration is now contemplating “a vast financial bailout that would dwarf the federal government’s response to the 2008 crisis … the scale of the problem is unlike anything Washington has ever faced before.” This bailout “could” top $2 trillion and not the initial $18.3 billion approved by Congress. (‘Washington Weighs Big Bailout to Help US Economy Survive Coronavirus,’ New York Times, March 18, 2020. Note that the bailout is designed to rescue the ‘economy’ from the virus, not from the failures of a socio-economic system which has sent to the country to the wall time after time).

No questions as to where the money is going will be allowed despite the Freedom of Information Act: as the virus is allowing state governments to confine people to their homes, there can be no public protests. The police and national guard will be on hand to suppress those who defy the ban. Memories of outrage at the bilking of the public in 2008 will account for these precautions.

As one commentator has observed, in 2008 Wall Street was bailed out and Main Street landed with the bill. A repetition could ignite a public backlash with “potentially catastrophic consequences” (‘Washington Weighs Big Bailout,’ New York Times) so the bailout this time has to be handled with greater finesse, with more of the cash allocated to the hard-pressed citizenry. Even as the financial crisis broke, however, the familiar chicanery, insider trading and the timely selling-off of shares by corporations, was resurfacing.

Can this be mere coincidence, the appearance of one virus to hide the latest ravages of another? The corporate media dismisses the very notion as a “conspiracy theory,” as if governments do not scheme, plot and conspire all the time, against each other, against their mutual enemies and frequently against their own people. Within the realm of possibilities, the possibilities of an accidental release of the virus or of foul play by a government or rogue elements inside a government at least have to be allowed. We still don’t know who was behind the assassination of John Kennedy or the attacks of 9/11. How long will it be before we know the truth or, like these two other world historical events, will we ever know it?

The war on terror having run its course, the war on the virus has followed without a break, allowing governments to build on the ‘homeland security’ edifice constructed after 9/11. Outside fiction, police and the military everywhere are being handed unprecedented powers of arrest, surveillance, and control. In the US and elsewhere millions of people have been subjected to ‘lockdown,’ generally a term applied to a prison after a riot. Whatever a government decides to do, whatever measures it takes to bail out the financial institutions once again, the people will not be allowed into the street to protest.Panicked, fearful of the enemy they cannot see, terrorized by the media, confused by contradictory evidence, and baffled by statistics open to more than one reading, they are doing what they are being told. They have been too effectively frightened to go into the streets. Only the virus is in the headlines, allowing the bailout to proceed quietly behind the scenes.

We live in a world of viruses. Emptying the planet’s natural resources and preying on other species to feed ourselves, we behave no differently ourselves. Eventually, someone will come up with a cure for the coronavirus but who is going to cure us? We have to do it ourselves, but will we?

The Bigger Picture Is Hiding Behind a Virus

By Jonathan Cook

Source

Things often look the way they do because someone claiming authority tells us they look that way. If that sounds too cynical, pause for a moment and reflect on what seemed most important to you just a year ago, or even a few weeks ago. 

Then, you may have been thinking that Russian interference in western politics was a vitally important issue, and something that we needed to invest much of our emotional and political energy in countering. Or maybe a few weeks ago you felt that everything would be fine if we could just get Donald Trump out of the White House. Or maybe you imagined that Brexit was the panacea to Britain’s problems – or, conversely, that it would bring about the UK’s downfall.

Still feel that way?

After all, much as we might want to (and doubtless some will try), we can’t really blame Vladimir Putin, or Russian troll farms spending a few thousand dollars on Facebook advertising, for the coronavirus pandemic. Much as we might want to, we can’t really blame Trump for the catastrophic condition of the privatised American health care system, totally ill-equipped and unprepared for a nationwide health emergency. And as tempting as it is for some of us, we can’t really blame Europe’s soft borders and immigrants for the rising death toll in the UK. It was the global economy and cheap travel that brought the virus into Britain, and it was the Brexit-loving prime minister Boris Johnson who dithered as the epidemic took hold.

The bigger picture

Is it possible that only a few weeks ago our priorities were just a little divorced from a bigger reality? That what appeared to be the big picture was not actually big enough? That maybe we should have been thinking about even more important, pressing matters – systemic ones like the threat of a pandemic of the very kind we are currently enduring.

Because while we were all thinking about Russiagate or Trump or Brexit, there were lots of experts – even the Pentagon, it seems – warning of just such a terrible calamity and urging that preparations be made to avoid it. We are in the current mess precisely because those warnings were ignored or given no attention – not because the science was doubted, but because there was no will to do something to avert the threat.

If we reflect, it is possible to get a sense of two things. First, that our attention rarely belongs to us; it is the plaything of others. And second, that the “real world”, as it is presented to us, rarely reflects anything we might usefully be able to label as objective reality. It is a set of political, economic and social priorities that have been manufactured for us.

Agents outside our control with their own vested interests – politicians, the media, business – construct reality, much as a film-maker designs a movie. They guide our gaze in certain directions and not others.

A critical perspective 

At a moment like this of real crisis, one that overshadows all else, we have a chance – though only a chance – to recognise this truth and develop our own critical perspective. A perspective that truly belongs to us, and not to others.

Think back to the old you, the pre-coronavirus you. Were your priorities the same as your current ones?

This is not to say that the things you prioritise now – in this crisis – are necessarily any more “yours” than the old set of priorities.

If you’re watching the TV or reading newspapers – and who isn’t – you’re probably feeling scared, either for yourself or for your loved ones. All you can think about is the coronavirus. Nothing else really seems that important by comparison. And all you can hope for is the moment when the lockdowns are over and life returns to normal.

But that’s not objectively the “real world” either. Terrible as the coronavirus is, and as right as anyone is to be afraid of the threat it poses, those “agents of authority” are again directing and controlling our gaze, though at least this time those in authority include doctors and scientists. And they are guiding our attention in ways that serve their interests – for good or bad.

Endless tallies of infections and deaths, rocketing graphs, stories of young people, along with the elderly, battling for survival serve a purpose: to make sure we stick to the lockdown, that we maintain social distancing, that we don’t get complacent and spread the disease.

Here our interests – survival, preventing hospitals from being overwhelmed – coincide with those of the establishment, the “agents of authority”. We want to live and prosper, and they need to maintain order, to demonstrate their competence, to prevent dissatisfaction bubbling up into anger or open revolt.

Crowded out by detail 

But again the object of our attention is not as much ours as we may believe. While we focus on graphs, while we twitch the curtains to see if neighbours are going for a second run or whether families are out in the garden celebrating a birthday distant from an elderly parent, we are much less likely to be thinking about how well the crisis is being handled. The detail, the mundane is again crowding out the important, the big picture.

Our current fear is an enemy to our developing and maintaining a critical perspective. The more we are frightened by graphs, by deaths, the more we are likely to submit to whatever we are told will keep us safe.

Under cover of the public’s fear, and of justified concerns about the state of the economy and future employment, countries like the US are transferring huge sums of public money to the biggest corporations. Politicians controlled by big business and media owned by big business are pushing through this corporate robbery without scrutiny – and for reasons that should be self-explanatory. They know our attention is too overwhelmed by the virus for us to assess intentionally mystifying arguments about the supposed economic benefits, about yet more illusory trickle-down.

There are many other dramatic changes being introduced, almost too many and too rapidly for us to follow them properly. Bans on movementIntensified surveillanceCensorship. The transfer of draconian powers to the police, and preparations for the deployment of soldiers on streets. Detention without trialMartial law. Measures that might have terrified us when Trump was our main worry, or Brexit, or Russia, may now seem a price worth paying for a “return to normality”.

Paradoxically, a craving for the old-normal may mean we are prepared to submit to a new-normal that could permanently deny us any chance of returning to the old-normal.

The point is not just that things are far more provisional than most of us are ready to contemplate; it’s that our window on what we think of as “the real world”, as “normal”, is almost entirely manufactured for us.

Distracted by the virus 

Strange as this may sound right now, in the midst of our fear and suffering, the pandemic is not really the big picture either. Our attention is consumed by the virus, but it is, in a truly awful sense, a distraction too.

In a few more years, maybe sooner than we imagine, we will look back on the virus – with the benefit of distance and hindsight – and feel the same way about it we do now about Putin, or Trump, or Brexit.

It will feel part of our old selves, our old priorities, a small part of a much bigger picture, a clue to where we were heading, a portent we did not pay attention to when it mattered most.

The virus is one small warning – one among many – that we have been living out of sync with the natural world we share with other life. Our need to control and dominate, our need to acquire, our need for security, our need to conquer death – they have crowded out all else. We have followed those who promised quick, easy solutions, those who refused to compromise, those who conveyed authority, those who spread fear, those who hated.

If only we could redirect our gaze, if we could seize back control of our attention for a moment, we might understand that we are being plagued not just by a virus but by our fear, our hate, our hunger, our selfishness. The evidence is there in the fires, the floods and the disease, in the insects that have disappeared, in the polluted seas, in the stripping of the planet’s ancient lungs, its forests, in the melting ice-caps.

The big picture is hiding in plain sight, no longer obscured by issues like Russia and Brexit but now only by the most microscopic germ, marking the thin boundary between life and death.

استمرار الصراعات العالميّة بأشكال متجدّدة

د.وفيق إبراهيم

يسجّل التاريخ في صفحاته أن الأوبئة خطيرة وفتاكة وقاتلة، لكنها لم توقف الصراعات للسيطرة الاقتصادية إلا في أوقات قصيرة جداً، وسرعان ما كان الصراع الدولي يتجدّد بأشكال إنسانية ظاهرية فقط مختزناً في عمقه المزيد من الرغبة في الاحتكار.

هذه هي الرأسمالية المتوحشة التي لا تمثل عرقاً او قومية بل طبقة لها رأس اميركي – غربي وتحالفات في أصقاع اخرى.

وهذا هو دونالد ترامب الرئيس الاميركي الذي أحيا أساليبها الهمجية القديمة مزيلاً عنها تلك القشرة الدبلوماسية المراوغة، ومعاوداً اقتحام المشهد العالمي بأسلوب الكاوبوي الوقح والمجرم.

لذلك فإن وباء كورونا الذي يعبث بأمن الإنسانية حالياً مقتحماً تجمعاتها البشرية السياسية بشكل تدريجي يُسدي خدمة لهذه الطبقة المتوحشة حتى تستطيع تجديد أساليب هيمنتها باختراع استثمارات في عالم الطب.

لا يعني هذا الكلام انحيازاً لمن يقول إن كورونا «وباء مصنّع» في مختبرات دول صناعية لنشر ذعر إنساني يتيح للرأسمالية المتوحشة إعادة تجديد مواردها الاقتصادية «بلبوس حبي رعائي» كمواعظ الكهنوت، في كل الطوائف، إلا ان هذا الكلام لا يستبعد كلياً ان يكون كورونا وباء مصنعاً لاستخدامه في الصراعات الدولية.

أما المبرّرون الذين يتذرعون بأنه أصاب أميركيين وأوروبيين ما يرفع عن دولهم تهمة تصنيعه، فيمكن التأكيد مرة أخرى أن الاقتصاد الغربي طبقة اقتصادية لا تأبه لأجناس المصابين مع اهتمامها الأكيد بالإمساك بالموقف ومنع تفلته.

هذا هو «الوباء المضبوط» على ساعة «الرأسمالية المتوحشة» سواء أكان من صناعتها أو من نتاج التفاعلات الصحية والمناخية في الأرض بأسرها.

فالمهم بالنسبة اليها هو الاستثمار المربح حتى على جثث المصابين به وضحاياه.

للتوضيح فإن مدارس طبية انسانية تتهم «الغرب الطبي» الصناعي حتى الآن بأنه لم يبذل جهوداً فعلية لمكافحة الأنواع المختلفة والمتعددة للسرطانات بل ذهب الى ابتكار اساليب للعناية بالمصابين بها ولم يعمل مطلقاً على التوصل الى ادوية وقائية تمنع تشكله او تطوره منذ البداية وقبل انطلاقته.

اما الفارق بين الحالتين فكبير، ففي حالة اكتشاف ادوية وقائية لا يستفيد المستثمرون الصناعيون في الطب من علاجات مرضى السرطانات في العيادات والمستشفيات والأدوية والعمليات والرعايات وحتى إجراءات الدفن.

وتقتصر استفادتهم على الادوية الوقائية هذا بالاضافة الى ان السرطانات تخدم نظرية منع التكاثر، وللاشارة فقط فإن السرطان كان معروفاً باسم «الأكلة» منذ العصر العباسي وربما في مراحلة أكثر قدماً.

هذا ما يجري حرفياً على جبهة وباء كورونا من صراعات دولية تندلع لاكتشاف لقاحات للمعالجة وليس لمنع تشكله بما يتيح اعتبار هذا الوباء او اوبئة أخرى مشابهة لسرطانات «القرن الواحد والعشرين».

ما هي اشكال هذه الصراعات الدولية على كورونا؟

كالعادة يحاول الأميركيّون احتكار المشهد والاستعجال في ابتكار لقاحات للمعالجة.

فهم يدركون أهمية احتكارهم لإنتاج ما يقلص حركة انتشار الذعر، لذلك يسارعون الى احتواء الوباء بضبط حركة الذعر وليس إلغاءها واطالة العلاجات والاكثار من المواد المستعملة بما يزيد من قيمة الاستثمار الرأسمالي في عالم الأوبئة ما يجعلها لاهثة خلف مختبرات لإنتاج الاوبئة والجراثيم وأخرى لمعالجتها.

لجهة المانيا فتبدو وحيدة في قارة أوروبية تعاني من الشيخوخة، فتحاول بدورها التوصل الى لقاحات على الرغم من الحجم المتواضع للإصابات التي تعرض لها شعبها، الا ان المانيا ما زالت تعاني من الاستكبار الاميركي على الاوروبيين ولا تزال محتلة من احتلال عسكري اميركي منذ الحرب العالمية الثانية بموجب معاهدات.

«ألمانيا» هذه، تريد تأكيد دورها العالمي وتقديم مستواها الجدير بالعالمية ولها اخيراً حاجة داخلية لمنع انتشار هذا الوباء عندها اولاً وفي العالم ثانياً، لانها تستفيد من نظام العولمة بتصدير سلعها في دائرة عالمية واسعة فيما يؤدي كورونا الى تقليص التفاعلات الاقتصادية بما يؤذي الاقتصاد الالماني الذي لا يمتلك قوة إقناع وهيمنة عسكريين كما الاميركيين.

بأي حال تبدو الصين في اتجاه مختلف، ما يفرض عليها الحرص الشديد في التعامل مع كورونا خصوصاً والأوبئة عموماً، وذلك لأن كورونا أصابها اولاً منتشراً بين مواطنيها الذين يصلون الى مليار و400 مليون نسمة.

ولا تريد الصين إيذاء اقتصادها المرشح ان يسبق نظيره الأميركي في اقل من عقد، لذلك فإن مصلحتها ايجاد لقاحات وادوية استباقية للانتهاء من هذا الوباء وهذا ما يدفع الصين الى مسألتين: حث مختبراتها على ابتكار وسائل الوقاية ومنع التشكل واطلاق برنامج مساعدات للدول المتضرّرة، بما يعزز من صورتها الإنسانية.

هناك ايضاً روسيا وإيران اللتان تعملان بإمكاناتهما المتواضعة على انتاج لقاحات وادوية مسبقة، وذلك لفائدة الشعوب، من جهة ومنع الاستثمار الغربي الاحتكاري فيه، والدليل أن الأميركيين الذين يحاصرون إيران ويمنعون العالم من التعامل معها، لا يسمحون لها حتى باستيراد الادوية، أليست هذه هي الرأسمالية المتوحشة بشكلها الترامبي البشع؟

يتبين اذاً ان الغرب الصناعي يحاول الاستثمار في كورونا، وربما بأوبئة جديدة قيد الإعداد او الظهور، وبما يخدم هيمنتها الاقتصادية من جهة والقضاء على الاقتصادات المنافسة من الصين وروسيا وايران واليابان من جهة اخرى.

وضحايا هذا الصراع هم كل الشعوب البعيدة عن المستوى العلمي والثقافي للعصر، وهذا يشمل المنطقة العربية وأفريقيا وأوروبا، باستثناء الثلاثي الألماني – الفرنسي – الانجليزي.

كما يصل الى اميركا الجنوبية واوستراليا بما يؤكد ان الرأسمالية الاميركية، المتحالفة نسبياً مع قوى اوروبية محدودة تعاود رسم الخارطة الاقتصادية – السياسية للعالم بأرواح ضحايا كورونا واشباهه.

فهل تنقذ الصين ومعها إيران وروسيا، وربما المانيا العالم من التنين الترامبي المخيف؟

بانتظار نتائج مختبراتها، يجب انبثاق تضامن علمي عالمي لم يظهر حتى الآن لوقف ما يفعله هذا التنين من محاولات خنق للناس على الأرض.ة

Miscegenation as elephant in the room

February 12, 2020

Miscegenation as elephant in the room

Source

by Denis A. Conroy for The Saker Blog

In the capitalist West, a reinvention of bourgeois culture is continuously expressed through ownership of devises that legitimise power. Alternating forms of bourgeois culture come and go to allow the public to toy with alternative bourgeois values, but never with the idea of alternatives ‘to’ bourgeois values as such. The net result of all of this is that the public is permitted to pay lip service to democracy while being forced to submit to a stitch-up…or, an exogenous variable whose time-line is no longer relevant but continues to do what it has always done, allow elites to emasculate the public voice. The best example of this is to be found in private narratives that exist for the purpose of legitimising the private sector’s methods of wealth extraction by promoting a trickle-down version of philanthropic mush to those who passively accept the status quo.

This capitalist trajectory is indubitably observed in the stepping-stones that history’s dealers put in place for themselves to achieve positions of pre-eminence. From Mayer Amschel Rothchild(ren), banker, 1744-1812, to our present time, dealers have made an artform of dealership, and the current President of the USA…Donald Trump is no exception. It’s his form of exceptionality (make America great again) that we need to look more closely at.

It wasn’t serendipity that enabled elites to acquire the power needed to lord it over the masses, but rather an ability to trade a passage toward creating a centre that could ultimately achieve an institutionally sacrosanct level of security for themselves…the ‘too-big-to-fail’ phenomenon we live with today. As the fundamental building-blocks of a ‘free state’ emerged in America, a branding process was devised that would enable mainstream media and Hollywood to collaborate in imposing a narrative upon an unwitting public. As the old-world class system was introduced into the new world, it became evident that history was repeating itself; people were provided with a catechism by the elites…a propagandistic one…and they swallowed it hook, line, and sinker.

Thereafter, believing that they were baptised and rendered secure in the holy waters of patriotic impunity, they set to performing their anointed role as cheerleaders to the wacky sheriffs who ruled over them. A too-big-to-fail corporate posse came into existence to convince them…bully fashion…that America’s destiny lay in colonizing the world.

Witness the American public’s incontrovertible need to believe in their own exceptionality. They swallow the gruel that their masters feed them without it ever affecting their conscience…their rampaging foreign policy attests to this! If Trump’s blunt assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, or his administration’s Middle Eastern “deal of the century” signifies anything, it is that Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” acknowledges the success of indoctrination vis-à-vis myth. It is the elite who possess the power to awakens an innate call-to-arms mentality in the public when they choose to.

As a consequence of this, the collective mind is alerted to the possibility of losing ‘top dog’ status and it’s self-appointed role in the world. The massive military budget attests to the fact that the myth of American supremacy is to be aggressively pursued at all costs…and considering the stockpile of nuclear missiles, one must assume that this myth has been swallowed hook, line and sinker by the masses.

Washington’s commitment to power owes much to His or Her Majesties Governments when it comes to deal making. The principles acted upon during the time of the First World War are the same principles that explain the current American imperial foreign policy…focus on the money trail and to hell with insignificant natives as they have insignificant cash resources.

On the subject of insignificant natives, the White House published a 180-page document recently entitled “Peace to Prosperity: Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People”…it had all the Balfourian myopia of a similar declaration produced in 1917.

BALFOUR DECLARATION

Foreign Office

November 2nd. 1917

Dear Lord Rothschild,

I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet.

“His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish People, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

Author(s)Walter Rothschild

Arthur Balfour

Leo Amery

Lord Milner

On reading the above document, one cannot but conclude that America and Zionist Israel have one notable trait in common, the ability to feel exceptional despite the horror their settler cultures imposed on the indigenous people whose countries they have occupied. That their energies go into replicating bourgeois class values, there can be no doubt. The stratified model of class that underpins Western culture, now sadly in need of an overhaul, is of itself a blinkered vision of the world and irredeemably flawed. What the above document reveals, is the Anglo-Zionist banking system’s propensity to see the world in terms of ‘low-hanging-fruit’, especially when it is ripe for the picking.

Donald Trump’s cave-man determination and Bibi Netanyahu’s fake and sugary comity do little to disguise the fact that they are in the business of extracting what blood remains of Palestine’s corporeal existence. A beautiful country exposed to collusion and perfidy at the hands of Anglo-Zionist whose intentions all along were to devour Palestine. The duplicitous process that commenced in 1917…moved from London to Washington, where Harry Truman (1948), while acting as midwife in an onerous deal at a banker’s tea party, set in motion a move that was little more than approving the transfer of a parasite into the host body… Palestine!

That the parasite has devoured most of Palestine in this time frame, seems of little matter to Trump or his ilk. In effect, it is a deal that runs roughshod over the concept of human rights. Indeed, the cabal Trump colludes with convey the impression that they would have no compunction in stripping the Palestinians of the last vestiges of their heritage. But the truth is, contemporary elites can do deceitful things and they are especially capable of repeating this piece of infamy yet again.

And what do we Westerners do about that? Sadly, the answer is nothing, nothing, nothing, because we no longer seem to feel the rapture that comes with being alive. And not being alive, we have become inured to violence. It’s o.k. when Jared Kushner-real-estate-investor extraordinaire, Donald Trump-wheeler-dealer extraordinaire and Bibi Netanyahu-purveyor-of-biblical- myths extraordinaire come together vis-à-vis America’s elitist media to promote more cynical ‘honest-broker-tropes’ to obfuscate the truth behind the occupation of Palestine.

Trump, it must be said, is just one more presidential enabler doing it for Zionist Israel. One can imagine Don phoning Bib and congratulating him; “Bib…honey, you shrunk the Palestinian kids and you have our blessing, its’ a proud day for Zion!” It appears that the intention all along was to reduce Palestine to a few Bantustans. The deal, which proposes granting Zionist Israel all of the West Bank land where it wants to build its settlements beggars belief.

The alliance between America and Zionist Israel is based on religious mythology. Religious mythology, unlike secular mythology (or unreligious stories) tends to be male oriented and its iterations tend toward defending a patriarchal or tribal premise. In the Jewish context, it is primal to the point of loathing the concept of miscegenation…a threatening concept that stubbornly repeats itself in religious myths…and much written about in the Old Testament. It appears that Jewish religious mythology brought forth a phobic fear of emasculation that has now taken a turn for the worse in our modern era. A new iteration involving assets and concomitant devises is expressing itself in a most retrograde fashion…is phobia becoming viral, we need to ask ourselves?

In Zionist Israel, a new milieu has come into existence to launch tribalism into a secondary phase of identity politics. A phase shaped by religious mythology implying something strange and undemocratic. If you are not Jewish, then you are of a lesser stripe…or, of no worth at all!

Perspectives from beyond Zionist Israel might suggest that there is a breeding program afoot that may intensify the Jewish propensity to generate entities that end up looking like angry Meerkats wearing yarmulkes while snarling over territorial rights that keep on stacking up…and surely there must exist somewhere in their bible a text that says that God gave the entire world to them?

On the other hand, America’s part in the alliance is somewhat different. Their brand of religious fervour is part New and part Old Testament but laced with a uniquely American brand of evangelical hubris. It acts out it’s narrative on an industrial scale so as to find traction with the national psyche which loves all things big. It’s the good-guy-bad-guy component that gets it to the Box Office every time. It needs to capitalise on the myth that America as a country exists for the good of mankind. Being good guys (?) they, like the Israelis, need a very large military capability as back-up to their presence on mother earth.

So, it was against this background that Russian Jews…and there were many of them who came to America in the early part of the 20th century…to apply their talents to what might have been thought of as an amorphous culture rich for the picking. They were very talented in matters of business. Upon gaining ownership of media and having become extremely active in the development of Hollywood etc., their influence in American was soon very apparent. As time went by, the general population failed to notice that Zionism, based on religious mythology had entered the body-politic of America’s heartland to reshape the American dream as a corporate one. It was this trend that killed any chance of the Palestinians receiving justice.

To many in the outside world, their voice within the American narrative had become disproportionately righteous, and their use of money to buy support for the colonization of Palestine so egregious, that more and more people across the world were sickened by their continues carping on about the Holocaust…as though it were the only one that mattered…which many in the outside world noticed was used as a means to deflect attention away from criticism.

Eventually the world outside the American-Jewish nexus became weary of Jewish insistence that they were the only voice on the block that had credibility. They began to feel that the kerfuffle surrounding anti-Semitism was one where you were expected to passively accept the righteousness of a Judaic ‘right’ to interpret their own narrative as faultless, and if you questioned this premise, you were against them…anti-Semitic! They were demanding that their interpretations, in matters relating to the holocaust, be taken as gospel.

All of the above was allowed to happen because coup-d’etats are a feature of the American way of doing business. Yesterday it was colonial Europe (foremostly the British empire), today its’ the USA who have the gall to make proposals that concern six million Palestine lives with all the nonchalance attributable to the puerile of mind.

At what point did vulgar materialism begin to shrink the Western imagination? Does quantifying the aspirational desires of America’s notion of freedom distort the amplitude of the American dream? Do Americans and Israelis believe that only they can achieve emancipation per acquisition of other people’s assets? They both like to think that it is their God-given right to own the countries they occupy. It is already clear that these are the defining features of 21st. century statecraft and Trump and his administration is there to do deals with his mate Bibi that entails suffocating what is left of Palestine. If this is America as leader of the democratic world, God help us all!

But the multiplicity of energies that live within the strange narrative that is sold as the American way of doing business remains captive to the whims of the media. Self-congratulatory vectors operate 24/7 in the hope of keeping the average Joe and Joie focused on the splendours and opportunities that exist for them in their market culture. On the home front, political chicanery has trumped the rule of law and foreign policy has become just another way of shafting foreigners. In the main, matters of morality and lack of accountability have become de rigueur. Since money became the elixir of life, the dirty linen factor behind Donald Trump’s impeachment merits little more than a yawn. It seems that the deeds of the elite need to be kept hidden from public scrutiny.

But what is most strange with the American way of doing business is how elites have managed to reverse the roles of journalists who would otherwise disclose truth. An in-your-face culture has come into existence to target whistle-blowers and muffle their voices.

An excellent article by Caitlin Johnstone entitled, “The Primary Mechanism of Oppression is Not Hidden” (February 5, 2020) and published in Consortiumnews.

She writes;

“The key to turning this ship around does not lie hidden somewhere behind a veil of government opacity. It lies in you. It lies in all of us. We can begin awakening our fellow humans right now by attacking the narrative management of the propaganda machine that sits right in front of us, unarmoured and unhidden.”

In conclusion, it is refreshing to encounter writers whose clarity of mind and insights into mythology remain free of religious myths.

John Campbell, the author of “The Power of Myths” is one such writer.

“People say that we’re all seeking a meaning for life.

I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. Rather I think we’re seeking an experience of being alive, so that our life expressions will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture to be alive.”

Lets’ wish it to be so for the Palestinians too!!


Denis A. Conroy, Freelance Writer, Australia

Harvesting the Blood of America’s Poor: The Latest Stage of Capitalism

By Allan MacLeod

Source

 

Blood Plasma Bags c4cc4

For much of the world, donating blood is purely an act of solidarity; a civic duty that the healthy perform to aid others in need. The idea of being paid for such an action would be considered bizarre. But in the United States, it is big business. Indeed, in today’s wretched economy, where around 130 million Americans admit an inability to pay for basic needs like food, housing or healthcare, buying and selling blood is of the few booming industries America has left.

The number of collection centers in the United States has more than doubled since 2005 and blood now makes up well over 2 percent of total U.S. exports by value. To put that in perspective, Americans’ blood is now worth more than all exported corn or soy products that cover vast areas of the country’s heartland. The U.S. supplies fully 70 percent of the world’s plasma, mainly because most other countries have banned the practice on ethical and medical grounds. Exports increased by over 13 percent, to $28.6 billion, between 2016 and 2017, and the plasma market is projected to “grow radiantly,” according to one industry report. The majority goes to wealthy European countries; Germany, for example, buys 15 percent of all U.S. blood exports. China and Japan are also key customers.

It is primarily the plasma– a golden liquid that transports proteins and red and white blood cells around the body– that makes it so sought after. Donated blood is crucial in treating medical conditions such as anemia and cancer and is commonly required to perform surgeries. Pregnant women also frequently need transfusions to treat blood loss during childbirth. Like all maturing industries, a few enormous bloodthirsty companies, such as Grifols and CSL, have come to dominate the American market.

But in order to generate such enormous profits, these vampiric corporations consciously target the poorest and most desperate Americans. One study found that the majority of donors in Cleveland generate more than a third of their income from “donating” blood. The money they receive, notes Professor Kathryn Edin of Princeton University, is literally “the lifeblood of the $2 a day poor.” Professor H. Luke Schaefer of the University of Michigan, Edin’s co-author of $2 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, told MintPress News:

The massive increase in blood plasma sales is a result of an inadequate and in many places non-existent cash safety net, combined with an unstable labor market. Our experience is people need the money, that’s the primary reason people show up at plasma centers.”

Almost half of America is broke, and 58 percent of the country is living paycheck to paycheck, with savings of less than $1000. 37 million Americans go to bed hungry, including one-sixth of New Yorkers and almost half of South Bronx residents. And over half a million sleep on the streets on any given night, with many millions more in vehicles or relying on friends or family. It is in this context that millions in the red have turned to selling blood to make ends meet. In a very real sense then, these corporations are harvesting the blood of the poor, literally sucking the life out of them.

Adam H. Johnson

@adamjohnsonNYC

i see we’ve moved on to the “harvesting the blood of the poor” stage of late capitalism

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
MintPress News spoke to a number of Americans who consistently donated plasma. Some of them did not want to be fully identified. But none were under any illusions about the system and how they were being exploited.

“The centers are never in a good part of town, always somewhere they can get a never ending supply of poor people desperate for that hundred bucks a week,” noted Andrew Watkins, who sold his blood in Pittsburgh, PA for around 18 months.

The people who show up are a mix of disabled, working poor, homeless, single parents, and college students. With the exception of the college students who are looking for booze money, this is probably the easiest and most reliable income they have. Your job may fire you at any time when you’re on this level of society, but you always have blood. And selling your blood doesn’t count as a job or income when it comes to determining disability benefits, food stamps, or unemployment eligibility so it’s a source of money for the people who have absolutely nothing else.”

Rachel from Wisconsin, who donated hundreds of times over a seven-year period, also commented on the obvious socio-economic makeup of donors.

We were poor, all of us in there you could easily tell that we were on the lower ends of the income bracket. They incentivize you with bonuses and the more you donate in a month the more you’ll get paid, recruiting friends bonuses, holiday bonuses, etc.”

Keita Currier from Washington, D.C., noted how she and her husband had little choice but to continue visiting clinics in Maryland for years but resented their payment methods.

They’re predatory, the price set for your plasma is based on a whim. For example, one place I donated the first five times you get $75, then you get 20, 20, 30, 50, 25. It’s random, it doesn’t matter, but they know you are desperate and if you don’t do your $30 donation you won’t get your 50 next time. Apparently, the plasma is worth something in the hundreds, so it is not surprising that you’re screwed over.”

Zombifying America’s poor

Respondents all agreed that they were indeed being exploited, but in more ways than one. Desperate Americans are allowed to donate twice per week (104 times per year). But losing that much plasma could have serious health consequences, most of which have not been studied Professor Schaefer warns, stressing that more research is necessary. Around 70 percent of donors experience health complications. Donors have a lower protein count in their blood, putting them at greater risk of infections and liver and kidney disorders. Many regulars suffer from near-permanent fatigue and are borderline anemic. All this for an average of $30 per visit. Rachel described the terrible Catch-22 many of the working poor find themselves in:

I got turned away twice – once for being too dehydrated and once for being anemic. Being poor created a shitty paradox where I couldn’t eat, and because I couldn’t eat my iron levels weren’t high enough to allow me to donate. That was a week of a pay cut, money I desperately needed for rent and bills and meds.”

A common method of cheating in endurance sports is to inject extra blood into your system before a race, giving you a huge performance boost. But extracting it has the opposite effect, making you sluggish and tired for days. Thus, this debilitating practice is zombifying America’s poor.

The process of giving blood is not a pleasurable one. Currier noted that after constantly donating, “the bruising gets terrible…Sometimes they can’t find the vain ‘n’ shit or they insert it wrong and they have to adjust the needle underneath your skin” she said, claiming that just thinking about it freaks her out, and revealed that her husband had to temporarily stop donating as his bosses thought he was on heroin due to the track marks on his arms.

Watkins agreed. “You could always tell how long someone had been doing the job by that needle,” he recalls. “Once they’d been there a year or so, they’d have stabbed literally thousands of people and could just tap your elbow once and slide the needle into the vein with no problems. New guys would miss the vein, punch through the vein, or try to hunt for it with the needle tip, which would leave terrible bruises.”

There is also little thought for the comfort of the patients. As Watkins explained, the thermostats are always turned down to around 50-60ºF for the plasma’s sake. Once the amber-colored plasma has been extracted, your cooled blood is re-injected in a painful process that feels as if ice is being inserted into the body. “Combined with the already cold air temperatures, this was maddening,” he notes.

Thus, America’s zombie poor are left almost permanently mentally drained like heroin addicts, and with similarly bruised and punctured arms, except they are being paid for the inconvenience. But perhaps the worst thing about the experience, according to those interviewed, is the dehumanization of the process.

Donors are publicly weighed to make sure they are heavy enough. Obese people are worth more to the bloodthirsty companies as they can safely extract more plasma from them each session (while paying out the same compensation). “They definitely turn you into a product in a very literal sense,” Watkins says; “It’s deeply exploitative and a symptom of just how far gone capitalism is.”

Many centers are enormous, with multiple rows of dozens of machines working in an attempt to appease the insatiable appetite of the vampiric corporation. And there is, according to Watkins, no lack of human “victims” willing to be treated like animals in battery farms, in exchange for a few dollars: “It was an assembly line to extract liquid gold from human mines,” he notes.

Currier also highlighted the treatment of the staff and the cost-cutting measures of clinics in Maryland she visited would enact:

Usually the places are hugely understaffed which means they frequently don’t change gloves, the people are overworked, and at the minimum you’re staying there for 2-3 hours which means you have to plan a whole day around this shit only to get 20 bucks in your pocket to make it through the next few days. It’s depressing, disheartening and frankly embarrassing to have to hustle like this. I feel like shit after I donate.”

Exploitation reaches new levels

But the exploitation of humans has reached new levels in clinics on the U.S.-Mexico border. Every week, thousands of Mexicans enter the U.S. on temporary visas to sell their blood to for-profit pharmaceutical corporations. The practice is banned on health grounds in Mexico but is completely legal north of the border. According to ProPublica, there are at least 43 blood donation centers along the border that prey primarily on Mexican nationals in a legally ambiguous practice.

According to a Swiss documentary on the subject, there are precious few checks on the cleanliness of the blood these companies accept, with some donors interviewed admitting they were drug addicts. But all is sacrificed in the pursuit of dazzling profits, something donors were well aware of. Rachel from Wisconsin admitted,

 I did it for the money, I think we all do it for the money, but it’s not really something you out and out say because there’s a veneer of “helping the sick” slathered over it. But I caught glimpses of what kind of industry it was on occasion through innocuous questioning. The amount of plasma drawn from one person per donation was worth upwards of $600, I never really got a clear answer on that.

Andrew from Pennsylvania agreed, noting wryly,

 I know my plasma was worth thousands of dollars per donation [to others], because I’ve seen what a hospital in my city charged a hemophiliac for platelets, so the pittance that they pay is ridiculous, but there is only one buyer making offers at the human level. If you’re poor and out of other options, you’ll take $40 however you can get it. Any port in a storm.”

Michael, a social worker from Georgia who sold his blood for extra cash, was deeply scornful of the entire situation. “I’ve known quite a number of people who rely on money made by selling plasma. A lot of times it’s to cover childcare or prescriptions or something along those lines,” he said. “It’s absolutely deplorable to leverage literal blood money from people who have so few options.”

students to sell blood d2c56

*(A sign encouraging students to sell blood to fund their education. Credit: tjulrich/ Twitter)

Big pharma is particularly interested in the blood of the young. One billboard campaign from Grifols intentionally targeted working-class students. “Need books? No worries. Donate Plasma” reads the headline. Teenager blood is in high demand in, of all places, Silicon Valley, where anti-aging technologies are the latest trend. One company, Ambrosia, charges $8,000 per treatment to aging tech executives, infusing them with the blood of the young, turning these individuals into bloodsuckers in more ways than one. Despite the fact that there is no clinical evidence that the practice has any beneficial effects, business is booming. One committed customer is PayPal co-founder turned Trump surrogate Peter Thiel, who is reportedly spending vast sums of money on funding anti-aging startups. Thiel claims that we have been conned by “the ideology of the inevitability of the death of every individual” and believes that his own immortality may be just around the corner, a notion that has deeply concerned academics and commentators alike.

The new and booming blood market is the perfect embodiment of the late capitalist dystopia modern America has become. The dehumanizing process of harvesting the blood of the poor to fund the quixotic immortality dreams of the super-wealthy turns the former into walking, living zombies and the latter into vampires, feasting on the blood of the young; a true American horror story worthy of Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft. As Rachel from Wisconsin said:

It really is an industry where ‘squeezing blood from stones’ is about as literal as you can get.”

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