- The Making of US Empire at the dawning of its end, by Pepe Escobar
Capital and Capitalized Coved-19 in Class War against Labor*
It is the matter of Accumulation
Accumulate Accumulate! That is Moses and the prophets everything has to dance to the tune of “accumulation for the sake of accumulation, production for the sake of production “Marx
“ … Through his way to Mecca a Hajj met with Plague and asked him, were you are going?
Plague: to Baghdad I will kill 5,000.
They met when returned:
The Hajj: you killed 50,000
Plague: not even 5,000, but only 5, the rest is propaganda”
That is the role of media exaggeration of Covid-19 effects.
But! What a unique stage of capitalism lust for accumulation without production for a whole year, will it continue?
Work creates human beings, according to Engels, and commodities are created by labour force according to Marx to satisfy the needs of the entire society while the capitalist acquires the surplus value in the process of accumulation.
Accordingly, capitalism concentrates on production of workers as the main condition for accumulation. This is the normal mechanism of life under the domination of capitalist mode of production even in today’s world despite the uneven development between countries of the centre and those of the periphery of the globe.
It is well known that capitalism suffers an economic/financial crisis especially the recent one since 2008, a crisis which is called supply-side in some countries and the opposite in the other. After long time of preaching for free trade, liberalization of trade, production, accumulation, and the pretence that the world became one village the same bourgeois ruling classes imposes a policy of lockdown, i.e. cutting separating humanity all from all!
After a long year of terrifying humanity by Covid-19, it became clear that the pandemic is used as a class tool of the rich elite against the majority of human beings in a form of local and global soft wars.
While most of peoples of the world are under lockdown, the very few who own and accumulate did not suffer. In the last year American millionaires built bunkers in the stomach of earth and moved there when pandemic prevails according to Chris Hedges.
While according to UNICEF, 40 percent of the world’s population, or three billion people, do not have a hand washing facility with water and soap at home…The United Nations touts the drop in global poverty rates as measured by income since 2000 while conceding that 10 percent of the world’s population (734 million in 2015) live on less than $1.90 a day.
Now it is 2021 and we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic with a shortage of both, human and material health resources, most of which must be sourced from the private sector.
The working classes, the peasants who produce world’s food are in either famine, shortage of food and medicine, with less cash of money, their students suffer from bad access for education at home…etc. They are subjugated to fierce restrictions, a policy which tightens control of ruling classes.
The capitalist ruling classes which have been for centuries sucking the produced value by labour force, impose a criminal policy of lockdown whose main feature is to stop production to the extent that those who produce food, i.e. the working class and peasants, are in trouble to choose: either to buy food which they already produced or vaccine especially under the exaggeration of Covid-19 danger?. In both cases, they are in trouble.
The question is: To which extent the world, majority of its population is able to survive without work, production, especially of basic needs, food?
The policy of lockdown reminds us of the early totally different approaches between materialism and idealism towards work taking into consideration that capitalism inherited all heritage of idealism throughout history.
What was going on in the world year 2020 and now 2021 recalls the contradiction between the two philosophies, approaches of materialism and idealism towards the principal of work as the core of human survival:
“…In the sweat of thy brow shalt thou labour! was Jahovah’s curse on Adam. And this is labour for Smith, a curse. ‘Tranquillity appears as the adequate state, as identical with freedom and happiness. It seems far quite from Smith’s mind that the individual, in his normal state of health, strength, activity, skill, facility, also needs a normal portion of work, and of the suspension of tranquillity. (Marx, Grundrisse, Penguin Books in association with New Left Review1973, p. 611).
In fact, Adriano Tighter, wrote that Greek idealist philosophers consider work as curse (Adriano Tighter, Homo Faber (Chicago: Regency, 1958), 3-10; Aristotle, The Politics (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Oress, 1958).
Recently, Andre Gorz belittles the position of both Hegel and Marx that work materializes the world:
“…The concept which appears in Hegel and is then taken by Marx, according to which labour is the material shaping of the world experienced by the senses, through which man becomes the producer of himself, was still valid seventy years ago for the overwhelming majority of the working class: it was employed in non-formalized activities in which individual know-how, physical strength, planning and self organization of the sequences of tasks played a decisive role. Today the majority of wage-earners work in administration, banks, shops, transport, postal, caring and education services where individual performance is usually not measurable, and labour has lost its materiality”
(Andre Gorz, The New Agenda, in Robin Blackburn (ed), After the Fall, Verso, 1991, p. 290)
But, the capitalist crisis which breeds both, the pandemic and the exaggeration of its dangerous effects, can’t depends today on all the aforementioned argument against work which is finally against production, directly against the producers but will it even against accumulation? No, capitalists are clever.
Moreover, the crisis now is not whether the work in general is a curse or not? It is that world population needs basic food which is not available even if for people who have money, yes if. All forms of new works, i.e. the services which Gorz exaggerates by saying that “labour has lost its materiality” can’t replace the needs for the products of real economy, especially food.
While lockdown is harmful for population in the centre, it is worst in periphery which since 1940s lags behind and depends on the centre even for food! Lockdown means that full unemployment!
Marx in Das Capital warns that capitalism more and more kicks more workers towards unemployment, i.e. the workers reserve army. He divides the surplus lobour into three categories:
In the chapter on relative surplus population Marx divides them into:
“…Floating: people who are already proletarianated, who are already full-time wage workers, who are temporarily thrown out for some reason who survive somehow through a period of unemployment before being reabsorbed back into employment as conditions of accumulation improve.
The latent: are people who have not yet proletarianized mostly the peasants.
And stagnant: this refers to that part of the population that is vey irregularly employed and particularly had to mobile.”
(Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Volume I, trans. Ben Fowkes, London: Penguin Classics, 1990. p. 482)
What interested Marx is how capitalism will be able or unable to reabsorb the three categories of surplus labour into working places so as to avoid crisis on the one hand and to continue pay as less as possible of wages to another without been faced by workers strikes asking for better wages or economic democracy, democracy in the enterprise.
Unfortunately, capitalism bribed the workers by political democracy which Henry Loviver calls it the Mystified Consciousness of the working class (By Andy Merrifield March 1,2020 Mystified Consciousness). Even all popular classes are bribed by the so-called political democracy which is to vote for this or that capitalist. The main motive of capitalism for applying this “right to vote” is to terminate workers’ inclination for strikes, and to maintain the production line working and finally achieve maximum accumulation. In addition, for using the surplus labour as a threat to the employed workers to break their strikes, encourage invention of machines to replace workers including using robots for that goal.
But, what is going on now is transcending all the aforementioned capitalist measures to control the popular classes in general and maintaining accumulation.
There are several signs that refer to the fact that capitalism had deteriorated even before the pandemic which emphasizes that Covid-19 is a manifestation of crisis of capitalism crisis not it’s cause.
The deterioration towards neo-liberalism, de-regulation, moving from cold war against USSR to hot wars against several peripheral regimes which refused to be subjugated to Washington consensus, the rise of fascism in new versions in the centre, including the new US fascism/populism which under Trump is the first time that populism transcends national borders to become global policy, the evoking of wars against Arab secular republics and launching wars against the refugees who are the products of the same wars as the case in Europe against Syrian, Iraqi Afghans and African refugees, and last, but not least, the economic/financial crisis of 2008.
Covid-19 pandemic uncovered the weakness of capitalism of de-regulation, increased the role of private companies to replace services which must stay in the hands of the state…etc. especially healthcare.
But, it is important to refer to those signs of deterioration since they help to understand why effects Covid-19 have been exaggerated/used that much to be some form of a global soft war: to the extent that world transportation nearly stopped, each continent cut off from others, each country closed its borders from others and each family is obliged to stay at home arrest.
The strike contradiction here is that capital by it’s nature can’t bear lockdown as the first part of new global soft war in which capital defeats labour.
In every place, especially in the centre, MNCs went to a fierce race/competition to produce vaccine based on the great opportunity that the world was cheated by the unbelievable propaganda exaggeration of the “killing” virus.
This exaggeration created a global market for vaccine/s and other medical needs after decades of neglecting production of those needs as long as there is no large market for them. Private capital is motivated by accumulation not by human needs and preservation. It is the duty of the regimes, but the regimes went for neo-liberalism. This opened a huge monopoly market for pharmaceutical industries. All world media are marketing the vaccines and medical tools, governments compete through companies to produce vaccines. US buy almost the entire global stock of potential COVID-19 treatment drug.
To elaborate, capitalism after its success on lockdown, generalizing the exaggerated danger in minds and hearts of peoples including the poorer to the extent that they became of the situation of “stand-by” waiting to get the vaccine and start buying, all necessary medical needs to protect themselves.
Accordingly, the depression of civil needs markets which minimizes accumulation, oblige the people to empty their pockets and buy medication needs and waiting the vaccines. What a clever capitalist trick to suck peoples’ money and transform it from a depressed sector to a booming one, i.e. the pharmaceutical industries! It is a transformation of profit from one industry to another, but the benefit goes to the same class whose members mainly have shares in many industries.
To maintain population subjugated to capital, the governments of rich countries distribute little money to population as a step which tightens the regimes control over the people and subjugates them to depend on governmental stimulus payment charity. The US government “donated” $600 for each American, i.e. half the motivating stimulus while most of the money went to banks and MNCs. Government charity, additionally, is not enough and does not last.
Rich countries are imitating the very reactionary rental and racist closed regimes of the Arabian Gulf which also bribe their population by distributing money to enhance consumption of western goods and satisfy consumerist habits. This reminds us of the role of many Arab intellectuals who praise the ruling family of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and UAE that: the people there do not pay tax, the government pays the people from the rent, it is a traditional family regime and the people did not demand democracy!
What a unique similarity between both USA and Gulf regimes in: tamed population depending on regime to feed them during lockdown!
Accordingly, capitalist regimes in the west did not found another means to deal with the problem, other than to continue its global war at least until now while other socialist regimes like Cuba and Nicaragua
apply a socialist model and mixed regimes like China relatively succeed as well. China is the most populous place in world and Nicaragua one of the smallest states and even relatively poor and subjugated to a criminal imperialist economic wars.
The policy of the US tells us that steps of local and global capital war are launched against humanity. One of those wars manifestations is the termination of small businesses, middle and upper middle class:
“…In the Global North some up to 90% of business transactions are emanating from small and medium size enterprises (SME). Almost all of them are closed now. Two thirds or more of them may never open again. Employees and workers are laid off, or are reduced to part-time work, meaning part-time pay – but still need to sustain their families. Poverty and desperation set in and becomes rampant. (No future in sight. Suicide rates will rise – see Greece in the 2008 / 2009 crisis – and up to (By Peter Koenig Global Research, June 29, 2020 Global Research 1 May 2020).
But still, this will never solve the main problem of lockdown. In fact lockdown will never continue.
One might conclude that capitalism designed two criminal planned wars: One for direct and short run and the other for long run.
The plan of direct and short run which is lockdown, taming population, encourage their consumption of all medications and supporting tools and their waiting for vaccines…etc. “… despite of the fact that the majority living from hand-to-mouth, no savings, no safety nets- and in most cases no health coverage… self-driving cars, robotized kitchen equipment, artificial intelligence (AI) for the production and delivery of everything. What the sales pitch doesn’t say, is how humans would be marginalized and enslaved.
(By Peter Koenig Global Research, June 29, 2020 Global Research 1 May 2020
The direct effects of this plan/conspiracy is most of the deaths are from aged poor people, and from poor but not aged people. In the west there is a lot of news that most of the deaths are not from Covid19 itself but propaganda machines attributes it to the pandemic to serve the capitalist plan which encourage people to pay for pharmaceuticals.
While there is a lot of statistics from the west, in peripheral countries it very few, but a lot of news about how the pandemic is danger which encourage people and governments to borrow.
While the goal of capital is to encourage consumption in general IMF conditions any loans for peripheral countries must devoted for buying vaccine and other medical needs a condition which goes with the IMF traditional conditions for its loans which is structural adjustment, austerity heavy taxes over the poor classes.
All of those steps are indications for the departure of lockdown towards concrete control of world population:
Financialization works against income equality by eliminating unionized jobs, lowering workers’ wages, and inflating executive compensation.
In core capitalist countries those owns money the Federal Reserve group are buying stocks of bankrupted businesses to accumulate more. For example: The Tsunami of bankruptcies begins in US economy landscape:
Nissan Motor Co. may close down in USA: Biggest Car Rental company (Hertz) filed for bankruptcy – they also own Thrifty and Dollar, Biggest Trucking company (Comcar) filed for bankruptcy – they have 4000 trucks, Oldest retail company (JC Penny) filed for bankruptcy – to be acquired by Amazon for pennies, Biggest investor in the world (Warren Buffet) lost $50B in the last 2 months.
As for periphery, it is a plan to continue and increase wealth transformation to the centre and more deterioration for human conditions.
This opens the discussion towards capitals’ long term plan which is gradual on the one hand, and destructive on the other.
The continuation of capitals control of production sites and consumption behaviour, sucking of the last pennies from poor classes, especially in periphery either through loans or unequal exchange, austerity, the insistence that loans must devoted for buying vaccines not development leads to gradual but real decrease of world population. That if we did not count the continuous wars in many countries of the world.
It is an adoption renewing and expansion of criminal Kissinger quote of the 1970s on famine: “Who controls the food supply controls the people – the quote goes on saying, “Who controls the energy can control whole continents; who controls money can control the world.”
In fact, even before Covid19, capital controls oil especially after the occupation and total destruction of Iraq and Libya except oil pipelines.
The imperialist control of oil supported by local Gulf ruling elite which taming both workers and population there.
Capital bought large fertile areas especially in Africa constructing new modern farms to produce what the rich western elite’s needs. Those farms are new form of settler colonialism but on a sold land to the colonizers which made it too difficult for any local revolution to restore it. It is an eternal colonialism and dependency and by building the new farms in Africa the imperialists create new workers elite in terms of wage loyal to the colonialism protected by African ruling comprador or even tribal mentality Sheiks.
When we add to those developments the austerity measures as mentioned above, the population of Africa and other countries in periphery are facing the threat of more famine, sickness even without Covid19.
It is a plan for diminishing world population to the minimum through strengthening an alliance between elites of centre and periphery:
- The bourgeois in the centre with minimum population
- The oil areas of rental regimes will keep population as few as possible, might replace expatriate workers by more machines, and pay for brutal companies to protect oil fields from attacks by hungry people or neighbouring Arab countries.
- Owners of modern food farms built in Africa which protected by brutal companies against people who are in desperate needs for it. The version wealth of Africa might explain why vaccination – starting in Africa.
Through all of the aforementioned economic and social policies, capital leading the poor towards gradual death: all over the world work will be done at home; home itself became the factory, trade unions replaced by separated individuals…etc.
Challenge is Imperative
The question at issue is: Will capital be able to continue those forms of wars, will world working class and peasants continue to be tamed forever especially their revolutionary forces, trade unions, women movements?
History tells different, it never inform us the date of events because events took place independent from us except those we initiate. But for sure human beings must start right now resisting and punishing those who use human beings for tests in the place of animals, i.e. Kissinger, Bill Gates and the ruling steeling classes. Humanity deserves even better and more authentic than Nuremberg-type Tribunal, honest, ethical and powerful enough to hold the global elites accountable and bring them to justice.
On general global level the bourgeois wars challenge recalls Samir Amin’s call for New Internationalism, or renewing Internationalism or at least building global historical coalition as Gramsci wrote. Accordingly, the call and move of Russian Communist Party against lockdown, schools closing…etc is a beginning of the response, the 250 million demonstrations in India last November is great as well.
The idea of this book is very good brick in this building. We must move now, especially while capital became absolutely bare, I mean we must tell people to break the doors students to go schools, workers to occupy factories and manage it cooperatively. Let’s this new year be the year of working class and peasants revolution. Lets’ this book be the manifesto of 2021.
*This article was presented as part of project“Réflexions d’anti- impérialistes- Guerre de classe et propagande de guerre dans un capitalisme en crise : Après le mensonge de ” l’invasion de l’URSS”, puis des “Terroristes islamistes”, c’est au tour de la “Pandémie » ?
The project was initiated and sponsored by Alba Granada North Africa – Coordination and it was published in “Bulletin d Information 2021- Dis-leur ! “
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The Making of US Empire at the dawning of its end
By Pepe Escobar
January 22, 2021 “Information Clearing House” – As the Exceptional Empire gets ready to brave a destructive – and self-destructive – new cycle, with dire, unforeseen consequences bound to reverberate across the world, now more than ever it is absolutely essential to go back to the imperial roots.
The task is fully accomplished by
Tomorrow, the World: The Birth of U.S. Global Supremacy , by Stephen Wertheim, Deputy Director of Research and Policy at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft and a research scholar at the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University.
Here, in painstaking detail, we can find when, why and especially who shaped the contours of US “internationalism” in a roomful of mirrors always disguising the real, ultimate aim: Empire.
Wertheim’s book was superbly reviewed by Prof. Paul Kennedy. Here we will concentrate on the crucial plot twists taking place throughout 1940. Wertheim’s main thesis is that the fall of France in 1940 – and not Pearl Harbor – was the catalyzing event that led to the full Imperial Hegemony design.
This is not a book about the U.S. industrial-military complex or the inner workings of American capitalism and finance capitalism. It is extremely helpful as it sets up the preamble to the Cold War era. But most of all, it is gripping intellectual history, revealing how American foreign policy was manufactured by the real flesh and blood actors that count: the economic and political planners congregated by the arch-influential Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the conceptual core of the imperial matrix.
Behold Exceptionalist nationalism
If just one phrase should capture the American missionary drive, this is it: “The United States was born of exceptionalist nationalism, imagining itself providentially chosen to occupy the vanguard of world history”. Wertheim nailed it by drawing from a wealth of sources on exceptionalism, especially Anders Stephanson’s Manifest Destiny: American Expansion and the Empire of the Right.
The action starts in early 1940, when the State Dept. formed a small advisory committee in collaboration with the CFR, constituted as a de facto proto-national security state.
The CFR’s postwar planning project was known as the War and Peace Studies, financed by the Rockefeller Foundation and boasting a sterling cross-section of the American elite, divided into four groups.
The most important were the Economic and Financial Group, headed by the “American Keynes”, Harvard economist Alvin Hansen, and the Political Group, headed by businessman Whitney Shepardson. CFR planners were inevitably transposed to the core of the official postwar planning committee set up after Pearl Harbor.
A crucial point: the Armaments Group was headed by none other than Allen Dulles, then just a corporate lawyer, years before he became the nefarious, omniscient CIA mastermind fully deconstructed by David Talbot’s The Devil’s Chessboard.
Wertheim details the fascinating, evolving intellectual skirmishes along the first eight months of WWII, when the prevailing consensus among the planners was to concentrate on the Western Hemisphere only, and not indulge in “balance of power” overseas adventures. As in let the Europeans fight it out; meanwhile, we profit.
The fall of France in May-June 1940 – the world’s top army melting down in five weeks – was the game-changer, much more than Pearl Harbor 18 months later. This is how the planners interpreted it: if Britain were the next domino to fall, totalitarianism would control Eurasia.
Wertheim zeroes in on the defining “threat” for the planners: Axis dominance would prevent the United States “from driving world history. Such a threat proved unacceptable to U.S. elites”. That’s what led to an expanded definition of national security: the U.S. could not afford to be simply “isolated” within the Western Hemisphere. The path ahead was inevitable: to shape world order as the supreme military power.
So it was the prospect of a Nazi-shaped world order – and not U.S. security – that shook foreign policy elites in the summer of 1940 to build the intellectual foundations of global U.S. hegemony.
Of course there was a “lofty ideal” component: the U.S. would not be able to fulfill its God-given mission to lead the world towards a better future. But there was also a much more pressing practical matter: this world order might be closed to liberal U.S. trade.
Even as the tides of war changed afterwards, the interventionist argument ultimately prevailed: after all, the whole of Eurasia could (italics in the book) eventually, fall under totalitarianism.
It’s always about “world order”
Initially, the fall of France forced Roosevelt’s planners to concentrate on a minimum hegemonic area. So by midsummer 1940, the CFR groups, plus the military, came up with the so-called “quarter sphere”: Canada down to northern South America.
They were still assuming that the Axis would dominate Europe and parts of the Middle East and North Africa. As Wertheim notes, “American interventionists often portrayed Germany’s dictator as a master of statecraft, prescient, clever and bold.”
Then, at the request of the State Dept., the crucial CFR’s Economic and Financial Group worked feverishly from August to October to design the next step: integrating the Western Hemisphere with the Pacific Basin.
That was a totally myopic Eurocentric focus (by the way, Asia barely registers on Wertheim’s narrative). The planners assumed that Japan – even rivaling the US, and three years into the invasion of mainland China – could somehow be incorporated, or bribed into a non-Nazi area.
Then they finally hit the jackpot: join the Western Hemisphere, the British empire and the Pacific basin into a so-called “great residual area”: that is, the entire non-Nazi dominated world except the USSR.
They found out that if Nazi Germany would dominate Europe, the U.S. would have to dominate everywhere else (italics mine). That was the logical conclusion based on the planners’ initial assumptions.
That’s when U.S. foreign policy for the next 80 years was born: the U.S. had to wield “unquestionable power”, as stated in the CFR planners “recommendation” to the State Dept., delivered on October 19 in a memorandum titled “Needs of Future United States Foreign Policy”.
This “Grand Area” was the brainchild of the CFR’s Economic and Financial Group. The Political Group was not impressed. The Grand Area implied a post-war peace arrangement that was in fact a Cold War between Germany and Anglo-America. Not good enough.
But how to sell total domination to American public opinion without that sounding “imperialistic”, similar to what the Axis was doing in Europe and Asia? Talk about a huge P.R. problem.
In the end, U.S. elites always came back to the same foundation stone of American exceptionalism: should there be any Axis supremacy in Europe and Asia, the U.S. manifest destiny of defining the path ahead for world history would be denied.
As Walter Lippmann succinctly – and memorably – put it: “Ours is the new order. It was to found this order and to develop it that our forefathers came here. In this order we exist. Only in this order can we live”.
That would set up the pattern for the subsequent 80 years. Roosevelt, only a few days after he was elected for a third term, stated it was the United States that “truly and fundamentally…was a new order”.
It’s chilling to be reminded that 30 years ago, even before unleashing the first Shock and Awe over Iraq, Papa Bush defined it as the crucible of a “new world order” (incidentally, the speech was delivered exactly 11 years before 9/11).
Henry Kissinger has been marketing “world order” for six decades. The number one U.S foreign policy mantra is “rules-based international order”: rules, of course, set unilaterally by the Hegemon at the end of WWII.
American Century redux
What came out of the 1940 policy planning orgy was encapsulated by a succinct mantra featured in the legendary February 17, 1941 essay in Life magazine by publishing mogul Henry Luce: “American Century”.
Only six months earlier planners were at best satisfied with a hemispheric role in an Axis-led world future. Now they went winner takes all: “complete opportunity of leadership”, in Luce’s words. In early 1941, months before Pearl Harbor, the American Century went mainstream – and never left.
That sealed the primacy of Power Politics. If American interests were global, so should be American political and military power.
Luce even used Third Reich terminology: “Tyrannies may require a large amount of living space. But Freedom requires and will require far greater living space than Tyranny.” Unlike Hitler’s, the unbounded ambition of American elites prevailed.
Until now. It looks and feels like the empire is entering a James Cagney Made it, Ma. Top of the World! moment – rotting from within, 9/11 merging into 1/6 in a war against “domestic terrorism” – while still nurturing toxic dreams of imposing uncontested global “leadership”.
Pepe Escobar is correspondent-at-large at Asia Times. His latest book is 2030. Follow him on Facebook.- – “Source“ –