Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Of Guns and Gold--WW Editorial on the International Situation


Of guns and gold

Published Oct 8, 2008 8:14 PM

How have a few imperialist countries, with a relatively small proportion of the world’s population and an even smaller share of its vital natural resources, been able to keep their grip over the globe for more than a century? And what effect will the present economic crisis have on their power?

It is true that the imperialists have the most developed—and most expensive—armed forces in the world, by far. Especially the United States, which spends as much on its military as the rest of the world combined.

But the answer lies in the nature of capitalism in its present stage—imperialism.

While the early colonial empires relied on sheer bloodletting and military dominance to conquer huge areas, that no longer sufficed once the oppressed peoples gained experience in using the weapons of their oppressors and were able to organize in mass to resist. The Haitian Revolution, that magnificent uprising of a whole population against their colonial slave-master overlords, was proof of that—a preview of what was to come.

All the colonial powers knew it, and it shook them to the soles of their boots. Many, many anti-colonial rebellions followed over the next century and a half.

By the time the U.S. ruling class began to extend its power overseas, it had a new weapon of conquest: capital. True, its methods of intervention may have been just as bloody as those it sought to replace. But the reason the U.S. came out on top and was able, for example, to rip the Philippines, Cuba and Puerto Rico away from Spain in the war of 1898 was not just superior military power.

It was the strength of U.S. finance capital. The export of capital, for the purposes of super-exploitation abroad, vastly enriched the millionaires at home while it cultivated a class of compradors, flunkeys for imperialism, in the territories acquired.

Especially after World War II, the power of U.S. finance capital to extend its tentacles around the world through loans and investments led to the era of “neocolonialism.” Country after country was caught up in the web of debt to the imperialist banks and governments, becoming poorer and poorer as these great, munificent “lenders” grew richer and richer. It seemed that development was impossible for poor countries unless they submitted to the yoke of debt to imperialism.

Everyone should know by now that for the past half century, these oppressed countries have been trying to free themselves from political and financial enslavement to the imperialists. Literally hundreds of millions of people in the so-called Third World have committed their lives to the struggles for national liberation.

Some have had class-conscious, communist leadership. In other places, the leaders have been bourgeois nationalists, even religious clerics. What all these situations have in common is the deep desire of the people to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation.

That is what has fueled the resistance in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and now in Pakistan, to the U.S. invaders and the transnational corporations and banks they serve.

Which brings us to the second question: How will the present world economic crisis affect both the stability of imperialism and the growing struggles to break free of its grip?

All the signs are that the weakening of the dollar and the banking and financial crisis have already given heart to those trying to push the imperialists out of their countries. While the media didn’t give much coverage this year to the speeches by various leaders at the U.N. General Assembly, their tone of defiance was breathtaking compared to that at similar sessions just a few years ago.

“Capitalism is the worst enemy of humanity,” said President Evo Morales of Bolivia. He also accused the U.S. of being behind recent acts of sabotage and massacres of Indigenous people in his country.

President Hugo Ch├ívez of Venezuela warned, “The hegemonistic pretensions of the American empire are placing at risk the very existence of the human species.”

“The American empire in the world is reaching the end of its road,” predicted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran.

The leaders of these three countries were all elected by their people. They differ politically from each other, but they’re all on Washington’s hit list. In assailing U.S. imperialism, they are daring to speak for billions of people around the world. The emperor’s fancy gold clothes are disintegrating. Finally, that can be said out loud.
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