Category Archives: IMF

Dangerous Liaison: Corporate Agriculture and the Reductionist Mindset

Food and agriculture across the world is in crisis. Food is becoming denutrified and unhealthy and diets less diverse. There is a loss of biodiversity, which threatens food security, soils are being degraded, water sources polluted and depleted and smallholder farmers, so vital to global food production, are being squeezed off their land and out of farming.

A minority of the global population has access to so much food that it can afford to waste much of it, while food insecurity has become a fact of life for hundreds of millions. This crisis stems from food and agriculture being wedded to power structures that serve the interests of the powerful global agribusiness corporations.

Over the last 60 years, agriculture has become increasingly industrialised, globalised and tied to an international system of trade based on export-oriented mono-cropping, commodity production for the international market, indebtedness to international financial institutions (IMF/World Bank).

This has resulted in food surplus and food deficit areas, of which the latter have become dependent on (US) agricultural imports and strings-attached aid. Food deficits in the Global South mirror food surpluses in the North, based on a ‘stuffed and starved’ strategy.

Whether through IMF-World Bank structural adjustment programmes related to debt repayment as occurred in Africa (as a continent Africa has been transformed from a net exporter to a net importer of food), bilateral trade agreements like NAFTA and its impact on Mexico or, more generally, deregulated global trade rules, the outcome has been similar: the devastation of traditional, indigenous agriculture.

Integral to all of this has been the imposition of the ‘Green Revolution’. Farmers were encouraged to purchase hybrid seeds from corporations that were dependent on chemical fertilisers and pesticides to boost yields. They required loans to purchase these corporate inputs and governments borrowed to finance irrigation and dam building projects for what was a water-intensive model.

While the Green Revolution was sold to governments and farmers on the basis it would increase productivity and earnings and would be more efficient, we now have nations and farmers incorporated into a system of international capitalism based on dependency, deregulated and manipulated commodity markets, unfair subsidies and inherent food insecurity.

As part of a wider ‘development’ plan for the Global South, millions of farmers have been forced out of agriculture to become cheap factory labour (for outsourced units from the West) or, as is increasingly the case, unemployed or underemployed slum dwellers.

In India, under the banner of a bogus notion of ‘development’, farmers are being whipped into subservience on behalf of global capital: they find themselves steadily squeezed out of farming due to falling incomes, the impact of cheap imports and policies deliberately designed to run down smallholder agriculture for the benefit of global agribusiness corporations.

Aside from the geopolitical shift in favour of the Western nations resulting from the programmed destruction of traditional agriculture across the world, the Green Revolution has adversely impacted the nature of food, soil, human health and the environment.

Sold on the premise of increased yields, improved food security and better farm incomes, the benefits of the Green Revolution have been overstated. And the often stated ‘humanitarian’ intent and outcome (‘millions of lives saved’) has had more to do with PR and cold commercial interest.

However, even when the Green Revolution did increase yields (or similarly, if claims about GMO agriculture – the second coming of the Green Revolution – improving output is to be accepted at face value), Canadian environmentalist Jodi Koberinski says pertinent questions need to be asked: what has been the cost of any increased yield of commodities in terms of local food security and local caloric production, nutrition per acre, water tables, soil structure and new pests and disease pressures?

We may also ask what the effects on rural communities and economies have been; on birds, insects and biodiversity in general; on the climate as a result of new technologies, inputs or changes to farming practices; and what has been the effects of shifting towards globalised production chains, not least in terms of transportation and fossil fuel consumption.

Moreover, if the Green Revolution found farmers in the Global South increasingly at the mercy of a US-centric system of trade and agriculture, at home they were also having to fit in with development policies that pushed for urbanisation and had to cater to the needs of a distant and expanding urban population whose food requirements were different to local rural-based communities. In addition to a focus on export-oriented farming, crops were also being grown for the urban market, regardless of farmers’ needs or the dietary requirements of local rural markets.

Destroying indigenous systems

In an open letter written in 2006 to policy makers in India, farmer and campaigner Bhaskar Save offered answers to some of these questions. He argued that the actual reason for pushing the Green Revolution was the much narrower goal of increasing marketable surplus of a few relatively less perishable cereals to fuel the urban-industrial expansion favoured by the government and a few industries at the expense of a more diverse and nutrient-sufficient agriculture, which rural folk – who make up the bulk of India’s population – had long benefited from.

Before, Indian farmers had been largely self-sufficient and even produced surpluses, though generally smaller quantities of many more items. These, particularly perishables, were tougher to supply urban markets. And so, the nation’s farmers were steered to grow chemically cultivated monocultures of a few cash-crops like wheat, rice, or sugar, rather than their traditional polycultures that needed no purchased inputs.

Tall, indigenous varieties of grain provided more biomass, shaded the soil from the sun and protected against its erosion under heavy monsoon rains, but these were replaced with dwarf varieties, which led to more vigorous growth of weeds and were able to compete successfully with the new stunted crops for sunlight.

As a result, the farmer had to spend more labour and money in weeding, or spraying herbicides. Furthermore, straw growth with the dwarf grain crops fell and much less organic matter was locally available to recycle the fertility of the soil, leading to an artificial need for externally procured inputs. Inevitably, the farmers resorted to use more chemicals and soil degradation and erosion set in.

The exotic varieties, grown with chemical fertilisers, were more susceptible to ‘pests and diseases’, leading to yet more chemicals being poured. But the attacked insect species developed resistance and reproduced prolifically. Their predators – spiders, frogs, etc. – that fed on these insects and controlled their populations were exterminated. So were many beneficial species like the earthworms and bees.

Save noted that India, next to South America, receives the highest rainfall in the world. Where thick vegetation covers the ground, the soil is alive and porous and at least half of the rain is soaked and stored in the soil and sub-soil strata.

A good amount then percolates deeper to recharge aquifers or groundwater tables. The living soil and its underlying aquifers thus serve as gigantic, ready-made reservoirs. Half a century ago, most parts of India had enough fresh water all year round, long after the rains had stopped and gone. But clear the forests, and the capacity of the earth to soak the rain, drops drastically. Streams and wells run dry.

While the recharge of groundwater has greatly reduced, its extraction has been mounting. India is presently mining over 20 times more groundwater each day than it did in 1950. But most of India’s people – living on hand-drawn or hand-pumped water in villages and practising only rain-fed farming – continue to use the same amount of ground water per person, as they did generations ago.

More than 80% of India’s water consumption is for irrigation, with the largest share hogged by chemically cultivated cash crops. For example, one acre of chemically grown sugarcane requires as much water as would suffice 25 acres of jowar, bajra or maize. The sugar factories too consume huge quantities.

From cultivation to processing, each kilo of refined sugar needs two to three tonnes of water. Save argued this could be used to grow, by the traditional, organic way, about 150 to 200 kg of nutritious jowar or bajra (native millets).

If Bhaskar Save helped open people’s eyes to what has happened on the farm, to farmers and to ecology in India, a 2015 report by GRAIN provides an overview of how US agribusiness has hijacked an entire nation’s food and agriculture under the banner of ‘free trade’ to the detriment of the environment, health and farmers.

In 2012, Mexico’s National Institute for Public Health released the results of a national survey of food security and nutrition. Between 1988 and 2012, the proportion of overweight women between the ages of 20 and 49 increased from 25% to 35% and the number of obese women in this age group increased from 9% to 37%.

Some 29% of Mexican children between the ages of 5 and 11 were found to be overweight, as were 35% of youngsters between 11 and 19, while one in 10 school age children suffered from anemia. The Mexican Diabetes Federation says that more than 7% of the Mexican population has diabetes. Diabetes is now the third most common cause of death in Mexico, directly or indirectly.

The various free trade agreements that Mexico has signed over the past two decades have had a profound impact on the country’s food system and people’s health. After his mission to Mexico in 2012, the then Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, concluded that the trade policies in place favour greater reliance on heavily processed and refined foods with a long shelf life rather than on the consumption of fresh and more perishable foods, particularly fruit and vegetables.

He added that the overweight and obesity emergency that Mexico is facing could have been avoided, or largely mitigated, if the health concerns linked to shifting diets had been integrated into the design of those policies.

The North America Free Trade Agreement led to the direct investment in food processing and a change in the retail structure (notably the advent of supermarkets and convenience stores) as well as the emergence of global agribusiness and transnational food companies in Mexico.

The country has witnessed an explosive growth of chain supermarkets, discounters and convenience stores. Local small-scale vendors have been replaced by corporate retailers that offer the processed food companies greater opportunities for sales and profits. Oxxo (owned by Coca-cola subsidiary Femsa) tripled its stores to 3,500 between 1999 and 2004. It was scheduled to open its 14,000th store sometime during 2015.

In Mexico, the loss of food sovereignty has induced catastrophic changes in the nation’s diet and has had dire consequences for agricultural workers who lost their jobs and for the nation in general. Those who have benefited include US food and agribusiness interests, drug cartels and US banks and arms manufacturers.

More of the same: a bogus ‘solution’

Transnational agribusiness has lobbied for, directed and profited from the very policies that have caused much of the above. And what we now see is these corporations (and their supporters) espousing cynical and fake concern for the plight of the poor and hungry.

GMO patented seeds represent the final stranglehold of transnational agribusiness over the control of agriculture and food. The misrepresentation of the plight of the indigenous edible oils sector in India encapsulates the duplicity at work surrounding the GM project.

After trade rules and cheap imports conspired to destroy farmers and the jobs of people involved in local food processing activities for the benefit of global agribusiness, including commodity trading and food processor companies ADM and Cargill, there is now a campaign to force GM into India on the basis that Indian agriculture is unproductive and thus the country has to rely on imports. This conveniently ignores the fact that prior to neoliberal trade rules in the mid-1990s, India was almost self-sufficient in edible oils.

In collusion with the Gates Foundation, corporate interests are also seeking to secure full spectrum dominance throughout much of Africa as well. Western seed, fertiliser and pesticide manufacturers and dealers and food processing companies are in the process of securing changes to legislation and are building up logistics and infrastructure to allow them to recast food and farming in their own images.

Today, governments continue to collude with big agribusiness corporations. These companies are being allowed to shape government policy by being granted a strategic role in trade negotiations and are increasingly framing the policy/knowledge agenda by funding and determining the nature of research carried out in public universities and institutes.

As Bhaskar Save wrote about India:

This country has more than 150 agricultural universities. But every year, each churns out several hundred ‘educated’ unemployables, trained only in misguiding farmers and spreading ecological degradation. In all the six years a student spends for an M.Sc. in agriculture, the only goal is short-term – and narrowly perceived – ‘productivity’. For this, the farmer is urged to do and buy a hundred things. But not a thought is spared to what a farmer must never do so that the land remains unharmed for future generations and other creatures. It is time our people and government wake up to the realisation that this industry-driven way of farming – promoted by our institutions – is inherently criminal and suicidal!

Save is referring to the 300,000-plus farmer suicides that have taken place in India over the past two decades due to economic distress resulting from debt, a shift to (GM)cash crops and economic ‘liberalisation’ (see this report about a peer-reviewed study, which directly links suicides to GM cotton).

The current global system of chemical-industrial agriculture, World Trade Organisation rules and bilateral trade agreements that agritech companies helped draw up are a major cause of food insecurity and environmental destruction. The system is not set up to ‘feed the world’ despite the proclamations of its supporters.

However, this model has become central to the dominant notion of ‘development’ in the Global South: unnecessary urbanisation, the commercialisation and emptying out of the countryside at the behest of the World Bank, the displacement of existing systems of food and agricultural production with one dominated by Monsanto-Bayer, Cargill and the like and a one-dimensional pursuit of GDP growth as a measure of ‘progress’ with little concern for the costs and implications – mirroring the narrow, reductionist ‘output-yield’ paradigm of industrial agriculture itself.

Agroecology offers a genuine solution

Across the world, we are seeing farmers and communities pushing back and resisting the corporate takeover of seeds, soils, land, water and food. And we are also witnessing inspiring stories about the successes of agroecology.

Reflecting what Bhaskar Save achieved on his farm in Gujarat, agroecology combines sound ecological management, including minimising the use of toxic inputs, by using on-farm renewable resources and privileging natural solutions to manage pests and disease, with an approach that upholds and secures farmers’ livelihoods.

Agroecology is based on scientific research grounded in the natural sciences but marries this with farmer-generated knowledge and grassroots participation that challenges top-down approaches to research and policy making. However, it can also involve moving beyond the dynamics of the farm itself to become part of a wider agenda, which addresses the broader political and economic issues that impact farmers and agriculture (see this description of the various modes of thought that underpin agroecolgy).

Jodi Koberisnki’s nod to ‘systems thinking’ lends credence to agroecology, which recognises the potential of agriculture to properly address concerns about local food security and sovereignty as well as social, ecological and health issues. In this respect, agroecology is a refreshing point of departure from the reductionist approach to farming which emphasises securing maximum yield and corporate profit to the detriment of all else.

Wei Zhang – an economist focusing on ecosystem services, agriculture and the environment – says:

that ‘worldview’ is important to how you conceptualise issues and develop or choose tools to address those issues. Using systems thinking requires a shift in fundamental beliefs and assumptions that constitute our worldviews. These are the intellectual and moral foundations for the way we view and interpret reality, as well as our beliefs about the nature of knowledge and the processes of knowing. Systems thinking can help by changing the dominant mindset and by addressing resistance to more integrated approaches.

Agroecology requires that shift in fundamental beliefs.

A few years ago, the Oakland Institute released a report on 33 case studies which highlighted the success of agroecological agriculture across Africa in the face of climate change, hunger and poverty. The studies provide facts and figures on how agricultural transformation can yield immense economic, social, and food security benefits while ensuring climate justice and restoring soils and the environment.

The research highlights the multiple benefits of agroecology, including affordable and sustainable ways to boost agricultural yields while increasing farmers’ incomes, food security and crop resilience.

The report described how agroecology uses a wide variety of techniques and practices, including plant diversification, intercropping, the application of mulch, manure or compost for soil fertility, the natural management of pests and diseases, agroforestry and the construction of water management structures.

There are many other examples of successful agroecology and of farmers abandoning Green Revolution thought and practices to embrace it (see this report about El Salvador and this interview from South India).

In a recent interview appearing on the Farming Matters website, Million Belay sheds light on how agroecological agriculture is the best model of agriculture for Africa. Belay explains that one of the greatest agroecological initiatives started in 1995 in Tigray, Northern Ethiopia, and continues today. It began with four villages and after good results, it was scaled up to 83 villages and finally to the whole Tigray Region. It was recommended to the Ministry of Agriculture to be scaled up at the national level. The project has now expanded to six regions of Ethiopia.

The fact that it was supported with research by the Ethiopian University at Mekele has proved to be critical in convincing decision makers that these practices work and are better for both the farmers and the land.

Bellay describes another agroecological practice that spread widely across East Africa – ‘push-pull’. This method manages pests through selective intercropping with important fodder species and wild grass relatives, in which pests are simultaneously repelled – or pushed – from the system by one or more plants and are attracted to – or pulled – toward ‘decoy’ plants, thereby protecting the crop from infestation. Push-pull has proved to be very effective at biologically controlling pest populations in fields, reducing significantly the need for pesticides, increasing production, especially for maize, increasing income to farmers, increasing fodder for animals and, due to that, increasing milk production, and improving soil fertility.

By 2015, the number of farmers using this practice increased to 95,000. One of the bedrocks of success is the incorporation of cutting edge science through the collaboration of the International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) and the Rothamsted Research Station (UK) who have worked in East Africa for the last 15 years on an effective ecologically-based pest management solution for stem borers and striga.

But agroecology should not just be regarded as something for the Global South. Food First Executive Director Eric Holtz-Gimenez argues that it offers concrete, practical solutions to many of the world’s problems that move beyond (but which are linked to) agriculture. In doing so, it challenges – and offers alternatives to – prevailing moribund doctrinaire economics and the outright plunder of neoliberalism.

The scaling up of agroecology can tackle hunger, malnutrition, environmental degradation and climate change. By creating securely paid labour-intensive agricultural work, it can also address the interrelated links between labour offshoring by rich countries and the removal of rural populations elsewhere who end up in sweat shops to carry out the outsourced jobs.

Thick legitimacy

Various official reports have argued that to feed the hungry and secure food security in low income regions we need to support small farms and diverse, sustainable agroecological methods of farming and strengthen local food economies (see this report on the right to food and this (IAASTD) peer-reviewed report).

Olivier De Schutter says:

To feed 9 billion people in 2050, we urgently need to adopt the most efficient farming techniques available. Today’s scientific evidence demonstrates that agroecological methods outperform the use of chemical fertilizers in boosting food production where the hungry live, especially in unfavorable environments.

De Schutter indicates that small-scale farmers can double food production within 10 years in critical regions by using ecological methods. Based on an extensive review of scientific literature, the study he was involved in calls for a fundamental shift towards agroecology as a way to boost food production and improve the situation of the poorest. The report calls on states to implement a fundamental shift towards agroecology.

The success stories of agroecology indicate what can be achieved when development is placed firmly in the hands of farmers themselves. The expansion of agroecological practices can generate a rapid, fair and inclusive development that can be sustained for future generations. This model entails policies and activities that come from the bottom-up and which the state can then invest in and facilitate.

A decentralised system of food production with access to local markets supported by proper roads, storage and other infrastructure must take priority ahead of exploitative international markets dominated and designed to serve the needs of global capital.

It has long been established that small farms are per area more productive than large-scale industrial farms and create a more resilient, diverse food system. If policy makers were to prioritise this sector and promote agroecology to the extent Green Revolution practices and technology have been pushed, many of the problems surrounding poverty, unemployment and urban migration could be solved.

However, the biggest challenge for upscaling agroecology lies in the push by big business for commercial agriculture and attempts to marginalise agroecology. Unfortunately, global agribusiness concerns have secured the status of ‘thick legitimacy’ based on an intricate web of processes successfully spun in the scientific, policy and political arenas. This allows its model to persist and appear normal and necessary. This perceived legitimacy derives from the lobbying, financial clout and political power of agribusiness conglomerates which set out to capture or shape government departments, public institutions, the agricultural research paradigm, international trade and the cultural narrative concerning food and agriculture.

Critics of this system are immediately attacked for being anti-science, for forwarding unrealistic alternatives, for endangering the lives of billions who would starve to death and for being driven by ideology and emotion. Strategically placed industry mouthpieces like Jon Entine, Owen Paterson and Henry Miller perpetuate such messages in the media and influential industry-backed bodies like the Science Media Centre feed journalists with agribusiness spin.

When some people hurl such accusations, it might not just simply be spin: it may be the case that some actually believe critics are guilty of such things. If that is so, it is a result of their failure to think along the lines Zhang outlines: they are limited by their own reductionist logic and worldview.

The worrying thing is that too many policy makers may also be blinded by such a view because so many governments are working hand-in-glove with the industry to promote its technology over the heads of the public. A network of scientific bodies and regulatory agencies that supposedly serve the public interest have been subverted by the presence of key figures with industry links, while the powerful industry lobby hold sway over bureaucrats and politicians.

The World Bank is pushing a corporate-led industrial model of agriculture via its ‘enabling the business of agriculture’ strategy and corporations are given free rein to write policies. Monsanto played a key part in drafting the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights to create seed monopolies and the global food processing industry had a leading role in shaping the WTO Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (see this). From Codex, the Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture aimed at restructuring Indian agriculture to the currently on-hold US-EU trade deal (TTIP), the powerful agribusiness lobby has secured privileged access to policy makers to ensure its model of agriculture prevails.

The ultimate coup d’etat by the transnational agribusiness conglomerates is that government officials, scientists and journalists take as given that profit-driven Fortune 500 corporations have a legitimate claim to be custodians of natural assets. These corporations have convinced so many that they have the ultimate legitimacy to own and control what is essentially humanity’s common wealth. There is the premise that water, food, soil, land and agriculture should be handed over to powerful transnational corporations to milk for profit, under the pretence these entities are somehow serving the needs of humanity.

Corporations which promote industrial agriculture have embedded themselves deeply within the policy-making machinery on both national and international levels. From the overall narrative that industrial agriculture is necessary to feed the world to providing lavish research grants and the capture of important policy-making institutions, global agribusiness has secured a perceived thick legitimacy within policymakers’ mindsets and mainstream discourse.

It gets to the point whereby if you – as a key figure in a public body – believe that your institution and society’s main institutions and the influence of corporations on them are basically sound, then you are probably not going to challenge or question the overall status quo. Once you have indicated an allegiance to these institutions and corporate power, it is ‘irrational’ to oppose their policies, the very ones you are there to promote. And it becomes quite ‘natural’ to oppose any research findings, analyses or questions which question the system and by implication your role in it.

But how long can the ‘legitimacy’ of a system persist given that it merely produces bad food, creates food deficit regions globally,  destroys health, impoverishes small farms, leads to less diverse diets and less nutritious food, is less productive than small farms, creates water scarcity, destroys soil and fuels/benefits from World Bank/WTO policies that create dependency and debt.

The more that agroecology is seen to work, the more policy makers see the failings of the current system and the more they become open to holistic approaches to agriculture – as practitioners and supporters of agroecology create their own thick legitimacy –  the more willing officials might be to give space to a model that has great potential to help deal with some of the world’s most pressing problems. It has happened to a certain extent in Ethiopia, for example. That is hopeful.

Of course, global agribusiness nor the system of capitalism it helps to uphold and benefits from are not going to disappear overnight and politicians (even governments) who oppose or challenge private capital tend to be replaced or subverted.

Powerful agribusiness corporations can only operate as they do because of a framework designed to allow them to capture governments and regulatory bodies, to use the WTO and bilateral trade deals to lever global influence, to profit on the back of US militarism (Iraq) and destabilisations (Ukraine), to exert undue influence over science and politics and to rake in enormous profits.

The World Bank’s ongoing commitment to global agribusiness and a wholly corrupt and rigged model of globalisation is a further recipe for plunder. Whether it involves Monsanto, Cargill or the type of corporate power grab of African agriculture that Bill Gates is helping to spearhead, private capital will continue to ensure this happens while hiding behind platitudes about ‘free trade’ and ‘development’.

Brazil and Indonesia are subsidising private corporations to effectively destroy the environment through their practices.  Canada and the UK are working with the GMO biotech sector to facilitate its needs. And India is facilitating the destruction of its agrarian base according to World Bank directives for the benefit of the likes of Monsanto, Bayer and Cargill.

If myths about the necessity for perpetuating the stranglehold of capitalism go unchallenged and real alternatives are not supported by mass movements across continents, agroecology will remain on the periphery.

The Economist on Marx’s 200 years

The 200th anniversary of the birth of Marx has prompted The Economist to devote an article on Marx in its issue of May 5, 2018. Characteristically titled, “Reconsidering Marx. Second time farce. Two hundred years after his birth, Marx remains surprisingly relevant”!1 The article combines recognition that Marx was a genius with reactionary slandering that he was, after all, an evil genius and without him the world would certainly had been much better.

Naturally, one could not expect something different. Since the time Marx’s ideas gained recognition in the labor movement, the main concern of the apologists of capital has been to “refute” them as false, dogmatic and dangerous. Nor do, of course, The Economist’s journalists offer something new; they simply repeat the usual simplistic distortions and misunderstandings their predecessors have offered innumerable times in the past. However, their argument is nevertheless of a certain interest. On the one hand, the part of it in which they vilify Marx displays the rancor and hatred of the apologists of the ruling classes, who being unable to counter the great thinker, embrace all kinds of nonsense they come across to slander and debase him. On the other hand, when discussing Marx’s predictions, they openly confess their reactionary bourgeois fears regarding capitalism’s present deadlock and his vindication, at least in some important points. It is worthwhile, therefore, to take a look at both aspects; all the more because The Economist is not a minor journal but the semi-official voice of the markets and of the views of the liberal (and in our times neo-liberal) wing of the bourgeoisie.

Marx’s “failures”

“A good subtitle for a biography of Karl Marx”, The Economist’s gentlemen begin, “would be ‘a study in failure’… His ideas”, they continue, “were as much religious as scientific – you might even call them religion repackaged for a secular age. He was a late date prophet describing the march of God on Earth. The fall from grace is embodied in capitalism; man is redeemed as the proletariat rises up against its exploiters and creates a communist utopia” (p. 71, same in the following quotations).

The proofs are all very weighty:

Marx claimed that the point of philosophy was not to understand the world but to improve it. Yet his philosophy changed it largely for the worst: the 40% of humanity who lived under Marxist regimes for much of the 20th century endured famines, gulags and party dictatorships. Marx thought his new dialectical science would allow him to predict the future as well as understand the present. Yet he failed to anticipate two of the biggest developments of the 20th century –the rise of fascism and the welfare state– and wrongly believed communism would take root in the most advanced economies.

Whence, then, Marx’s influence, that makes even The Economist’s gentlemen confess that “for all his oversights, Marx remains a monumental figure” and that “interest in him is as lively as ever”? How do they explain the steadily increasing mass of publications, discussions and events about his work? How is it that in his 200 years even Jean-Claude Juncker, the in no way Marxist president of the EU, finds it necessary to visit Marx’s birthplace, Trier, and make a speech about the importance of his work? “Why”, as they themselves snobbishly ask, “does the world remain fixated on the ideas of a man who helped produce so much suffering?”

The answer, according to The Economist’s luminaries, will be found in the combination of genius with malice, which were Marx’s chief traits. His influence is due to the “sheer power of these ideas” and “the power of his personality”.

Marx was in many ways an awful human being. He spent his life sponging off Friedrich Engels. He was such an inveterate racist, including about his own group, the Jews, that even in the 1910s, when tolerance for such prejudices was higher, the editors of his letters felt obligated to censor them… Michael Bakunin described him as ‘ambitious and vain, quarrelsome, intolerant and absolute… vengeful at the point of madness’… But combine egomania with genius and you have a formidable power. He believed absolutely he was right; that he had discovered a key in history that had eluded earlier philosophers. He insisted on promoting his beliefs whatever obstacles fate (or the authorities) put in his way. His notion of happiness was ‘to fight.

The only conclusion to be drawn from all that is that if The Economist’s columnists lag far behind Marx with regard to genius, they certainly outweigh him vastly in egomania. In their attempt to prove their superiority –and the superiority of their beloved capitalism– to Marx’s predictions, they inevitably prove their inferiority, their inability to understand even Marx’s most basic positions, necessarily ending up to combine traces of truth with tons of falsehood and lies. Let us briefly bring out some points for their benefit.

First of all, there is nothing new in portraying Marx as a “religious” thinker and a “metaphysician”. This, in fact, was a beloved theme of all reactionaries of his time, who being unable to counter his theories and discoveries, resorted to such abuse and slander. For these of priests of capital and the “free markets”, of course, the “natural” was identical with capitalism, while everything going beyond it was anathematized as “religious” etc.

To limit ourselves to just one example, immediately after Marx’s death, Paul Boiteau, an official French economist, wrote in the conservative Journal des débats:

Karl Marx, who has just died, was in his lifetime one of the most listened prophets and theologians of the religion of social wrongs. He has had no difficulty in passing to the rank of its gods, and he will no doubt share in their fate, which is to disappear rather quickly into the void where socialism successively buried its divinities. But, for the moment, his memory receives the censers to which he was entitled, and, in both worlds, the meetings of the initiates declare that the Gospel of Marx must henceforth be the text par excellence of the preachings of international socialism.2

It would seem that The Economist’s folks have not advanced very far from Boiteau’s views. And, judging from the fact that everyone still knows Karl Marx while almost no one remembers Boiteau, it seems unlikely that they will get a better place in the hall of fame than he did.

Secondly, Marx never portrayed capitalism as a “fall from grace”, a hell that took the place of a previous earthly paradise, and the proletariat as the Messiah of our time. This was, in fact, the position of some Utopian communists of his time, whose primitivism he criticized. On the contrary, Marx acknowledged and stressed, at least after having laid the foundations of his theory, that capitalism represents a great advance in relation to feudalism, and that it substantially expanded the technological basis and horizons of human society. At the same time, however, he argued that by rapidly developing productive forces and socializing production, capitalism undermines its very foundation, makes unnecessary and anachronistic the exploitative relations on which it rests, and creates for the first time the possibility of a non-exploitative organization of the economy, based on the common ownership the means of production. The Economist’s journalists, lacking the courage to address the second point, blur and obscure the first, attributing to Marx things that are not part of his theory.

Thirdly, there is nothing in Marx’s works that contains even a trace of anti-Semitism or racism. Anti-Semites included, among others, Bakunin, whose slanderous criticism of Marx The Economist approvingly quotes, and Bruno Bauer, both of them Marx’s opponents. Bauer argued in particular that Jews would be unable to free themselves as long as they did not discard their religion and that until then they should be deprived of their political rights. Marx, answering him in his brochure on the Jewish question, which is frequently falsely presented by reactionaries as “anti-Semitic”, had rejected any idea of political, religious or other discrimination against the Jews. He countered that the partial liberation of the Jews was possible through their participation in the political struggles of the time, without presupposing any renunciation of their religion, and that their total liberation would take place when society was liberated from all kinds of slavery.

Marx’s perhaps only “anti-Jewish” comment appears in a letter he wrote to Engels, to which The Economist’s folks apparently allude, where he contemptuously labeled Lassalle a “Jewish nigger”.3 However, this letter was written under very special circumstances when Lassalle had stayed for some days at Marx’s home in London during 1862. Lassalle, as Marx mentions, besides his refusal to lend him an amount of money, had proposed him, as a means of getting rid of his financial problems, to hand over one of his daughters as a companion to a bourgeois family, and had unsettled his calmness and work. These things had enraged Marx and he wrote an aggressive letter to Engels, with all sorts of strong comments, which cannot be seen as an expression of his positions on racism or on any other matter. In order to seriously criticize Marx as a “racist”, one would have to point out some explicit or indirect support for racism in his works, which is impossible to do for him or any other serious Marxist.

Let us note by the way, as an example of how strongly prejudiced The Economist’s journalists, who imagine themselves “enlightened”, are, that even some neo-Nazis quote and comment more honestly Marx’s views on the Jews. In an article about Bruno Bauer posted on the National Vanguard, one of the key neo-Nazi websites in the United States, after speaking of Bauer as one of the forerunners of anti-Semitism, R. Pennington refers to Marx’s criticism of his views as a rejection of anti-Semitism: “Bauer’s anti-Semitism”, she writes, caused Marx a great deal of intellectual grief”; Marx’s critique was intended to “releasing the Jews from any intimidation by society or the state”.4 As an orthodox ultra-right, Pennington prefers, of course, to Bauer, honoring his anti-Semitism and condemning “Marxist obscurantism”, but at least she presents somewhat accurately Marx’s position.

Marx, they tell us further, failed to predict fascism and the welfare state. In the same way, one could say Darwin failed to predict (in 1871!) the discovery of DNA or that The Economist failed to predict, not 50 years, but not even 50 days beforehand, the outbreak of the global economic crisis in 2007. To blame Marx for things it was clearly impossible for him to predict, and for the analogue of which they would never blame, let us say, Darwin or themselves, isn’t that a manifestation of egomania and rancor?

Of course, Marx did not explicitly predict the above developments, but he identified the trends that made them possible. In many of his writings on the revolutions of 1848, in his criticisms of vulgar bourgeois political economy and in his analyses of the Commune, he showed and documented the bourgeoisie’s turn towards reaction, one of the ultimate consequences of which was fascism. In his The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, he also referred to the development of reactionary petty bourgeois movements; i.e., peasants’ movements “who, in stupefied seclusion… want to see themselves and their small holdings saved”,5 thereby turning against the proletariat; a trend whose exacerbation in the imperialist era contributed decisively in the development of fascism. On the other hand, in his analysis of Malthus’s views in Theories of Surplus Value, Marx extensively referred to the bourgeoisie’s attempts to increase the intermediate strata between itself and the proletariat as a safety valve for its regime, considering that “this is the course taken by bourgeois society”.6 So here, too, he revealed the socio-economic basis of the developments that led to the so-called “welfare state”; i.e., the strengthening of the intermediate strata, which is possible within capitalism, as long as it does not radically contradict the falling tendency of the rate of profit.

Let’s turn now to The Economist’s main claim that Marx’s bad influence helped produce most of the 20th century’s misery, which could otherwise have been avoided. Putting the issue in this way is, of course, foolish; the true question to be asked and answered is: which tendencies in the 20th century have had positive results, those emerging from capitalism and contributing to its perpetuation, or the revolutionary tendencies that, finding their foundation in Marx, were promoting the overthrow of the capitalist system?

Capitalism was exclusively responsible for the first great war of the 20th century, the world imperialist war of 1914-18, with its more than ten million victims. Imperialist intervention was largely responsible for millions of victims in the initially almost bloodless Russian Revolution of 1917. The great crisis of 1929 and fascism were both children of capitalism, as was the case with World War II, an effort of the most reactionary wing of capital to eliminate the achievements of the Russian Revolution. It is true that the course of the USSR was marked, especially in Stalin’s years, by the negative phenomena The Economist points out; i.e., the 1932-33 famine, gulags, massive cleansing, terror and oppression, as was also the case in China during the Great Leap Forward. However, these phenomena have been explained by Marxists as a degeneration process, the result of the backwardness of the countries where the revolution first took place and of the rise of Stalinist bureaucracy, which did not promote but betrayed world revolution both in the USSR –its first victims there being the leaders of October– and abroad. In addition, they were not the only ones and did not characterize the whole experience of the USSR. During the 1920s and early ’30s there took place in the USSR a vast cultural revolution, whose achievements were undermined by Stalinism but nevertheless partly survived and developed in the later phases of the regime. The Soviet people took up the main burden of the anti-fascist struggle, which objectively was a continuation of October’s progressive legacy, while after 1956 the most odious aspects of Stalinist oppression were put aside.

The imperialist plunder of the Third World, interventions, establishment of dictatorships and the condemnation of entire peoples in starvation, continued on the contrary throughout the 20th century, before and after World War II. The concessions of the ruling classes in the capitalist centers after 1945 were prompted chiefly by their fear of the post-war ascend of communism and anti-fascist movements. Where it not for the USSR, who would have stopped Nazism and force these concessions to the ruling classes? Moreover, while the existence of the USSR checked the aggression of imperialism, after its dissolution its real tendencies have again been manifested openly and unimpeded, producing their true devastating effects. It took just 15 years to take world-wide inequality to unprecedented heights, start many local wars, exacerbate the great powers’ competition to a point threatening a hot conflict, trigger the global economic crisis of 2007, and revive fascism and far-right nationalism worldwide. Even the few positive elements of the latest period, such as the great capitalist development of China, are closely linked to the positive heritage of the 20th century’s revolutions. In China, the fact that a great popular revolution lasting two decades eroded feudalism and imperialist dependence, allowed capitalism to develop without internal and external obstacles and benefit a comparatively significant part of the population; in India, on the contrary, where there was no revolution, but only a bourgeois renovation from above, the growth of the last decades was much weaker and a much larger part of the population is stuck in extreme poverty. Capitalism prevailed in its competition with the USSR due to its higher level of development of the productive forces and the devastating effects of Stalinism, but experience shows that this did not allow capitalism to overcome its contradictions.

The Economist’s journalists make every effort to reject not only Marx himself, but the whole Communist movement and its eminent theorists after his death:

After Marx’s death in 1883 his followers –particularly Engels– worked hard to turn his theories into a closed system. The pursuit of purity involved vicious factional fights as the ‘real’ Marxists drove out renegades, revisionists and heretics. It eventually led to the monstrosity of Marxism-Leninism with its pretentions of infallibility (‘scientific socialism’), its delight in obfuscation (‘dialectical materialism’) and its cult of personality (those giant statues of Marx and Lenin).

Here again, the negative experiences of Stalinism, dogmatism and the necrosis of Marxism, are exploited to discard as nonsense the whole development of Marxism after Marx. However, Marxism in that period had important representatives such as Engels, Plekhanov, Lenin, Luxemburg, Kautsky, Mehring and, after Lenin’s death, Trotsky, Bukharin, Gramsci and Lukacs, who cannot be put aside so easily. These Marxists analyzed developments after Marx’s death, guided the October Revolution and developed Marxism further. That this development involved a clearing of Marxism from alien influences was not something special to Engels or Lenin: Marx had also fought fiercely against the pseudo-socialists of his time, such as Proudhon and the “true socialists”, and Marxists after Lenin, especially Trotsky and Lukacs, explained Stalinist dogmatism as an alien influence and distortion of Marxism.

Paradoxically, and while one would expect that after all these tirades, everything about Marx has been dismissed, The Economist’s gentlemen conclude their reference to his “failures” with a reservation that would seem to distinguish something fertile in his thought. But as it immediately becomes clear, they consider “fertile” only what they themselves want to read or think they can find in Marx.

The collapse of this petrified orthodoxy has revealed that Marx was a much more interesting man than his interpreters have implied. His grand certainties were a response to grand doubts. His sweeping theories were the results of endless reversals. Toward the end of his life he questioned many of his central convictions. He worried that he might have been wrong about the tendency of the rate of profit to fall. He puzzled over the fact that, far from immiserating the poor, Victorian England was providing them with growing prosperity. (ibid, p. 71-72).

Here The Economist’s gentlemen remarkably agree with the representatives of the so-called “New reading of Marx”, that is, representatives of professorial academic wisdom who falsify Marx, such as Michael Heinrich. Marx, of course, rethought and improved his assumptions constantly, but contrary to the claims of these scholars, there is no evidence that he had revised his analysis of the falling tendency of the rate of profit, or that Engels distorted his positions. Moreover, the entire evolution of capitalism in the 20th century has confirmed this fundamental to its historical fortunes law discovered by Marx. The main transformations and models of capitalism, Fordism, Keynesianism, neoliberalism, were, in fact, just ways of reacting to the downward rate of profit, and the fact that the bourgeoisie is forced to replace them after profitability crises proves that they can counteract it only temporarily and that their potential is always exhausted.

Engels was perhaps not as deep as Marx, and he occasionally made some mistakes. But to dismiss Engels for Heinrich’s sake means to read Marx in a systemic way, to make Engels’s mistakes an alibi in order to accept a total mistake. Marx’s concerns at the end of his life had to do with a better conceptualization of the complexity of capitalism’s tendencies, and hence of the revolutionary process, not with their general direction.

Marx’s successes and further “failures”

This brings us to Marx’s successes, some of which are so obvious, that even The Economist’s columnists cannot but recognize them, although still charging him with some other failures.

“The chief reason for the continuing interest in Marx, however”, we read further, “is that his ideas are more relevant than they have been for decades. The post-war consensus that shifted power from capital to labour and produced a ‘great compression’ in living standards is fading. Globalisation and the rise of a virtual economy are producing a version of capitalism that once more seems to be out of control. The backwards flow of power from labour to capital is finally beginning to produce a popular –and often populist– reaction. No wonder the most successful economics book of recent years, Thomas Piketty’s ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century’, echoes the title of Marx’s most important work and his preoccupation with inequality” (p. 72, same in the following).

So, if inequality has once again become a central issue, to the extent that 1% of the world’s population owns over 50% of the world’s wealth, and 3.7 billion of the poorest account for just 2.7%7, how can “dogmatic” and “fanatical” Marx be confirmed after so many “reforms” and “advances” made by the ruling classes? Let’s see what The Economist’s gentlemen have to say about this as things become more interesting now.

Marx argued that capitalism is in essence a system of rent-seeking: rather than creating wealth from nothing, as they like to imagine, capitalists are in the business of expropriating the wealth of others. Marx was wrong about capitalism in the raw: great entrepreneurs do amass fortunes by dreaming up new products or new ways of organising production. But he had a point about capitalism in its bureaucratic form. A depressing number of today’s bosses are corporate bureaucrats rather than wealth-creators, who use convenient formulae to make sure their salaries go ever upwards. They work hand in glove with a growing crowd of other rent-seekers, such as management consultants… professional board members… and retired politicians…

By reading such passages, one gets convinced that The Economist’s “liberals” will never understand even Marx’s simplest positions, not due to lack of knowledge, but because they do not want to understand them, since this goes contrary to their class interests. Marx never defined capitalism as a rent-seeking system. This was also a feature of feudalism which knew various kinds of rent. The distinctive feature of capitalism, according to Marx, is expansion, the development of production for production’s sake, the accumulation of capital. And what capitalists accumulate is surplus value, the unpaid labor of the workers, which they usurp. Ideas could never create stocks and capitals; and it is absurd to base economic analysis on the difference between the good ideas of capitalists and the bad ideas of managers, etc. Moreover, if it was just a matter of good or bad ideas, one could perhaps solve many problems and save capitalism by imposing a negative rent for some obviously bad ideas of the capitalists and their ilk, such as weapons of mass destruction. The Economist’s gentlemen, distorting Marx in that way, shift the problem from the structure of capitalism to the behavior of the one or other of its agents, bureaucrats, managers, and so on. Yet, while rent is, of course, important –and Lenin, Hobson and others showed how rentiers multiply in the imperialist era with capitalism’s increasing parasitism– according to Marx, it is production and not distribution that defines the essence of capitalism, as of every other economic system.

However, just after that we find two better passages. One is about globalization, which, it is acknowledged, Marx had already foreseen:

Capitalism, Marx maintained, is by its nature a global system: ‘It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere’. That is as true today as it was in the Victorian era. The two most striking developments of the past 30 years are the progressive dismantling of barriers to the free movement of the factors of production—goods, capital and to some extent people—and the rise of the emerging world. Global firms plant their flags wherever it is most convenient… The World Economic Forum’s annual jamboree in Davos, Switzerland, might well be retitled ‘Marx was right’.

So Marx did predict something correctly after all. And it seems that he did not only predict this, but also something else too, the tendency of capitalism to create monopolies and, along with the accumulation of wealth on the one side, to produce an army of unemployed and occasionally employed in the other:

“He thought”, we read further, “capitalism had a tendency towards monopoly, as successful capitalists drive their weaker rivals out of business in a prelude to extracting monopoly rents. Again this seems to be a reasonable description of the commercial world that is being shaped by globalisation and the internet. The world’s biggest companies are not only getting bigger in absolute terms but are also turning huge numbers of smaller companies into mere appendages. New-economy behemoths are exercising a market dominance not seen since America’s robber barons. Facebook and Google suck up two-thirds of America’s online ad revenues. Amazon controls more than 40% of the country’s booming online-shopping market. In some countries Google processes over 90% of web searches. Not only is the medium the message but the platform is also the market.

In Marx’s view capitalism yielded an army of casual labourers who existed from one job to the other. During the long post-war boom this seemed like a nonsense. Far from having nothing to lose but their chains, the workers of the world—at least the rich world—had secure jobs, houses in the suburbs and a cornucopia of possessions… Yet once again Marx’s argument is gaining urgency. The gig economy is assembling a reserve force of atomised labourers who wait to be summoned, via electronic foremen, to deliver people’s food, clean their houses or act as their chauffeurs. In Britain house prices are so high that people under 45 have little hope of buying them. Most American workers say they have just a few hundred dollars in the bank. Marx’s proletariat is being reborn as the precariat.

The analysis perhaps is not flawless, but we may assume without much danger of error that had Marx read it, he would have rated The Economist’s analysts at least with a 5 (full marks being 10). Unfortunately, is not so with the immediately following argument, for which he would definitely make them repeat the same class:

Still, the rehabilitation ought not to go too far. Marx’s errors far outnumbered his insights. His insistence that capitalism drives workers’ living standards to subsistence level is absurd. The genius of capitalism is that it relentlessly reduces the price of regular consumer items: today’s workers have easy access to goods once considered the luxuries of monarchs… Marx’s vision of a post-capitalist future is both banal and dangerous: banal because it presents a picture of people essentially loafing about (hunting in the morning, fishing in the afternoon, raising cattle in the evening and criticising after dinner); dangerous because it provides a licence for the self-anointed vanguard to impose its vision on the masses.

It is tragic indeed to encounter such expositions of Marx’s views.

First of all, Marx never claimed that “capitalism drives workers’ living standards to subsistence level”. This was, in fact, Lassalle’s position, expressed in his famous “Iron Law of Wages”, which states precisely this thing. Marx criticized Lassalle’s law, showing that the workers, with their organization and struggles, could improve their position, and that there is a difference, historically defined in each country, between the wage corresponding to subsistence level and the real average wage.8

Secondly, it is funny to imply that a thinker of Marx’s level had not noticed and pointed out the ability of capitalism to limit the prices of consumer goods through technological progress, productivity gains, etc. In fact, Marx was the first economist to recognize and explain this possibility, as well as the historical movement of wages at the various stages of capitalism, with his distinction between absolute and relative surplus value. Let us explain this distinction, for the benefit of The Economist’s columnists.

Absolute surplus value, according to Marx, is the type of capitalist accumulation that dominated the early stages of capitalism, in the so-called period of primitive accumulation of capital. During that period, accumulation was promoted by increasing the working day – for example, the worker was forced to work 12 instead of 10 hours daily, his salary remaining the same. This means an increase in exploitation: if, for example, in the initial 10 hours, 6 hours correspond to the reproduction of the labor force and 4 hours to unpaid labor (i.e., production of surplus value), the final 12 will include 6 unpaid hours. Absolute surplus value goes hand in hand with absolute impoverishment, as pay per hour of work decreases. The brutal expropriation of the rural population and its relocation to the cities under wretched conditions, the deadly work of children and women, etc., were some of the misfortunes of this phase, described in novels by Dickens, Gorky and others.

However, when the development of capitalism, and hence its technological base, reaches a relatively high point –what Marx calls “the real subordination of labor to capital”– absolute surplus value is replaced by relative surplus value. The distinctive feature of the latter is that accumulation is now promoted not by the increase of the working day but by the limitation of the part of the working day devoted to the replacement of the worker’s labor power. In the previous example, if the time for the reproduction of labor power (the necessary labor) is reduced to 2 hours from 6, then even with a reduction of the working day from 10 to 8 hours, the worker will produce more surplus value than before, offering 6 hours of surplus labor instead of 4. Relative surplus value corresponds to relative impoverishment because the salary per hour of work increases. In addition, it is a constituent part of Marx’s analysis that the price of labor power in the latter case will correspond to a larger number of goods, since by the development of specialization, etc., the needs of the worker also grow. Of course, the great limitation of necessary labor is made possible because, due to technological progress, an hour of work in developed capitalism produces a much larger mass of commodities than what it produced in its earlier stages. The total value of these goods remains roughly the same, but the value per unit is drastically reduced.

In Marx’s time relative surplus value had progressed only in Britain, yet this did not prevent him from recognizing it as the main form for developed capitalism and assess its impact on the workers’ living standard. In an excerpt in Capital he sums it up quite clearly:

Under the conditions of accumulation… which conditions are those most favorable to the laborers, their relation of dependence upon capital takes on a form endurable or, as Eden says: ‘easy and liberal’. Instead of becoming more intensive with the growth of capital, this relation of dependence only becomes more extensive, i.e., the sphere of capital’s exploitation and rule merely extends with its own dimensions and the number of its subjects. A larger part of their own surplus-product, always increasing and continually transformed into additional capital, comes back to them in the shape of means of payment, so that they can extend the circle of their enjoyments; can make some additions to their consumption-fund of clothes, furniture, etc., and can lay by small reserve-funds of money.9

Of course, as Marx explains at various points, this improvement has certain limits defined by the needs of capitalist accumulation, and tends to take place in periods of economic growth, while in recessions wages are being pressed. But this is a far cry from presenting him as an advocate of the view that no improvement in the lot of the workers is possible under capitalism.

Marx’s position that in the post-capitalist society people will be able to hunt in the morning and go fishing in the evening was a poetic image of the many sided, cultivated man who will replace the disintegrated, individualistic human existence to which capitalism gives rise. Marx insisted that labor itself will always be “the realm of necessity”, but shorter working hours when everyone will work will give all members of society enough free time for a variety of other activities. It was Marx’s deep conviction that in the future society even The Economist’s journalists will find some better things to do than to exhort capitalism and abuse Marx.

For the time being, of course, no such thing is in sight, so they continue listing some more of Marx’s “failures”. “The World Bank”, we are told, “calculates that the number of people in ‘extreme poverty’ has declined from 1.85bn in 1970 to 767m in 2013, a figure that puts the regrettable stagnation of living standards for Western workers in perspective”. Marx, evidently, failed to anticipate that momentous progress too…

Here again it is a case of progresses existing in the apologists’ heads rather than in reality. Extreme poverty is defined at making less than 1.90$ per day, so that it would hardly look like a great advance to half the number of those caught in it. Moreover, the very definition of extreme poverty by the World Bank is under severe criticism, while if one puts aside China, the picture in the rest of the world is hardly encouraging.

In fact The Economist’s gentlemen are very close to repeating arguments regarding general welfare, which their predecessors advanced in Marx’s time. “Delightful is it thus to see”, one of them went, “under Free Trade, all classes flourishing; their energies are called forth by hope of reward; all improve their productions, and all and each are benefited” (The Economist, 2/1/1853). To which Marx replied by pointing to the numerous cases of starvation in this “generally beneficial” social order10. One has just to look at the thousands of peasants in India who commit suicide due to starvation –according to official estimates, more than 12,000 yearly after 201311 – to see that The Economist’s present attempt to paint a similar worldwide tranquility is not a bit better.

There follows Marx’s worst “mistake”:

Marx’s greatest failure, however, was that he underestimated the power of reform—the ability of people to solve the evident problems of capitalism through rational discussion and compromise. He believed history was a chariot thundering to a predetermined end and that the best that the charioteers can do is hang on. Liberal reformers, including his near contemporary William Gladstone, have repeatedly proved him wrong. They have not only saved capitalism from itself by introducing far-reaching reforms but have done so through the power of persuasion. The ‘superstructure’ has triumphed over the ‘base’, ‘parliamentary cretinism’ over the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’.

So, what do The Economist’s geniuses tell us? To what does their wisdom end up?

They tell us that Marx was right in verifying those laws and trends of capitalism that bring them and their ilk to the foreground –globalization, monopolization, etc.– but that they, the “superstructure”, the various “think tanks” of capital, with their special astuteness and wisdom, succeeded in changing the action of these laws, making them produce different results than those predicted by Marx. Isn’t that a form of egomania?

We have already seen that Marx recognized the possibilities of reforming capitalism, ultimately based on relative surplus value. He himself refers to them in the Preface to the 1st edition of Capital, pointing out that “present society is not a solid crystal, but an organism capable of change, and is constantly changing”.12 Marx, however, showed at the same time the limits of these possibilities. To clarify this last, vital point, let us listen first to The Economist’s gentlemen final confessions:

The great theme of history in the advanced world since Marx’s death has been reform rather than revolution. Enlightened politicians extended the franchise so working-class people had a stake in the political system. They renewed the regulatory system so that great economic concentrations were broken up or regulated. They reformed economic management so economic cycles could be smoothed and panics contained… Today’s great question is whether those achievements can be repeated. The backlash against capitalism is mounting – if more often in the form of populist anger than of proletarian solidarity. So far liberal reformers are proving sadly inferior to their predecessors in terms of both their grasp of the crisis and their ability to generate solutions. They should use the 200th anniversary of Marx’s birth to reacquaint themselves with the great man – not only to understand the serious faults that he brilliantly identified in the system, but to remind themselves of the disaster that awaits if they fail to confront them.

Well, well, truth must be admitted after all! What we see during the last two decades is the decline of the liberal elites, their constant shift to intensified reaction, their failure to find any viable way out of the crisis and the deadlocks of capitalism, their –as The Economist itself aptly puts it– sad inferiority to the circumstances. However, their failure inexorably raises a relentless question that The Economist’s gentlemen fail to raise: Is this a chance, subjective failure or error of the leading circles of capital? Or does its cause lie in something more profound; i.e., that there exists no longer such a reformist way?

Can capitalism reform itself anew?

So, can capitalism reform itself anew, as it has done in the past, or is its present, self-destructive course definitive?

This question emerges from all modern developments and we can give at least some credit to The Economist’s journalists for posing it openly and sharply as a “life and death” question for capitalism. Yet it cannot be posed in a Shakespearean, “to be or not to be” philosophical way, as they pose it. It must be examined in relation to the whole of social experience, the directions of bourgeois governments and organizations, etc. And any such discussion will inexorably force answering it in the negative. A few concrete questions will clarify that.

If there is a real possibility of a new New Deal today, why do we nowhere see a significant portion of the ruling classes expressing and supporting it? In the 1930s there was a Roosevelt, after World War II there were representatives of the liberal bourgeoisie such as De Gaulle and the Kennedy brothers. Where is their current analogue? Why does the “liberal” wing, whose voice The Economist is, can only oppose Trump with a Hillary Clinton; i.e., something just a trifle better? Why do the few progressive representatives of the bourgeoisie like Sanders prove completely incapable of proposing any positive reform program and are forced, confusing others and themselves, to talk about “socialism”?

All these are sure indications that an internal reform of capitalism which would provide a real economic revival is no longer possible. We will understand why it is so by returning to Marx’s analysis of relative surplus value. The development of mature capitalism, as Marx has shown particularly in his Results of the Direct Production Process, consists essentially in generalizing relative surplus value, through its successive expansion to the various branches of economy. This was done in previous stages with the technological intensification of industry, agriculture and the state sector, services, etc. And the reason capitalism could at those stages have some able representatives was that there were still non-intensified sectors of the economy, whose reshaping, as well as the overall reshaping of the system based on this process, required certain abilities.

The distinctive feature of globalization, on the contrary, is that, at least in the developed countries, there is no longer a non-intensified economic sector. The service and public sectors, the last remaining ones, were intensified in the neoliberal era, this being its essential content. Things like “green economy” are aspirins, while the generalized automation futurists like Mason are dreaming of is inconceivable under capitalism as it would decisively hit the rate of profit. The very fact that capital is now forced to resort to absolute surplus value, increasing again the length of the working day in order to support the rate of profit (and thereby reviving again absolute impoverishment!), is a further proof of the exhaustion of its reformist margins. So at capitalist metropolises at least, there remains nothing else, nothing new to be done; there is no new model of accumulation and consequently no possibility of a new cycle. This makes globalization the last phase, the last moment of the imperialist era and capitalism in general, during which the capitalist system will necessarily leave the historical scene.

All this does not imply, of course, a complete impossibility of reforms, but any such possibilities refer to measures, changes, etc., which fulfill possibilities of the current stage, not of a hypothetical, non-existent future stage. Or to put it otherwise: there is no chance of capitalism presenting something radically new, a modern “New Deal”, but only –and this at a theoretical level– of normalizing and prolonging a bit globalization, by softening for some time its worst conflicts.

Two such possibilities are basically at hand. Relative surplus value has already exhausted its potential in the capitalist centers and is now fulfilling it in Asia and Latin America. But there is a continent where it has not yet been expanded; i.e., Africa. Africa’s participation in globalization could provide a growth momentum when China recedes, opening a further round. Of course, in order to bring this about, that participation should be on comparatively equal terms, not like that of Yemen, which picks up globalization’s bombs, but roughly that of China. Secondly, the North-South gap in the European Union suggests a similar, albeit proportionally smaller, possibility of capitalist progress for the European South, but this also presupposes a change in the EU structure towards true convergence.

Historical experience so far proves that the weakened liberal leaders of capitalism cannot implement these changes or even aid them. Obstacles on their way are more than obvious. Africa is already the field of competition between China and the West, and the great powers are not interested in its development, but in enhancing each one’s sphere of influence and plundering at the expense of the rest. In addition, American imperialism’s policies of past decades, interventions around the world, etc., have strengthened the worst, most adventurous forces in its protectorates, the consequence being that change stumbles not only on the directions of imperialism itself, but also on local cliques, “compradorial” segments, etc. Africa’s current growth rate of about 4% reflects these barriers, being extremely low for a continent with a population of 1.3 billion and less than one-third of US GDP.

It would be erroneous to imagine that when China’s momentum fades, capital will flow in Africa and start a new swift rise there. Firstly, China’s potential as capitalism’s steam engine has already been half-halted. Yet Africa’s development has not gained momentum, but has receded during the last years, from 5.5% in 2012 to 2.7 in 2016, and an anemic recovery in 201713 In the second place, China’s huge capitalist progress was made possible by the fact that the revolution had created a viable social order, a skillful and educated working class, etc. Only traces of these will be found in Africa, which is moreover divided in a multitude of small, unsustainable states, with extreme poverty increasing strongly during the last decades. In practice, moving these barriers aside will require at least some Chavez type revolutions in Africa, like those of Latin America during the last two decades. A key condition for a steady development in that continent will be that the leading circles of imperialism support these processes, yet wherever they have happened so far, either in Africa itself in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, or in Latin America recently, imperialism has constantly tried to stifle them.

On the other hand, the European Union, the only intensive global integration process, remains, as Mr. Juncker acknowledged in his recent Marx speech, extremely fragile. “The European Union”, he said, “is not a flawed, but an unstable construction. Unstable also because Europe’s social dimension until today remains the poor relation of the European integration. We have to change this”14 But of what change can one speak of, when, in a construct that its own leaders confess its instability, all the pressures of the crisis are directed to its weakest joints? It is not clear that the next crisis, which even according to them, is probably a short time away, will break it into pieces? And what will the consequences be then? Under the present circumstances, these can only be chaos, a fascist takeover of power in at least some European countries and war conflicts.

Of course, Trump’s election in the United States, the developing commercial wars and the existence of anachronistic regimes, such as Syria, Iran, and so on, belonging to Russian sphere of influence, obstruct economic progress even more at a world level. Add to this the whole parasitic raff of globalization, which in not limited to bureaucrats and politicians as The Economist would have it, but also includes all kinds of market speculators, lobbyists, mafias, etc, who loot world economy –movies like Gavras’s “Le Capital” and Hickenlooper’s “Casino Jack” depict their range– and you will see why it is utopian to expect something different from the ruling elites.

One last point that deserves some comment in The Economist’s arguments is their hints that Marx’s revolutionary forecast has been refuted in the capitalist centers. While Marx “believed communism would take hold in the most advanced economies… The only countries where Marx’s ideas took hold were backward autocracies such as Russia and China”. And even today, in period of severe crisis, opposition to capitalism appears “more often in the form of populist anger than of proletarian solidarity” (p. 71, 72).

These arguments are not new, yet there is a grain of truth in them, which has also been adequately dealt by Marxists. After Marx’s death, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky recognized the bourgeoisie’s ability to create a “working class aristocracy”, by sharing a small part of the booty of colonial exploitation, a fact allowing it to stabilize its hold in the capitalist centers. On the other hand, the obvious reason recent opposition to capitalism has so far been manifested chiefly by the rise of (often far-right) populism is that the crisis hit first the petty bourgeoisie, who tend to seek to restore their previous position at the expense of the working class15 All that, however, belongs to the kind of complications and difficulties with which Marx struggled in the last phase of his life, when he clearly envisaged some of them (e.g., the possibility of a revolution in Russia) and in no way counters his central claims. Doesn’t the fact of “the regrettable stagnation of living standards for Western workers” (p. 72), to which The Economist reluctantly refers, prove indeed that the main stabilizing factor in the capitalist centers belongs to the past?

Let us sum up in a graphic way. Capitalism is a Titanic that, due to the very materials and contradictions ingrained in its frame, is doomed to break up and sink. It is composed, of course, of several levels, each one of them having its own watertight parts which delay for a while flooding from incoming water. In the previous stages or levels, there was a difficult way out of Titanic to the new ship of socialism, but there were also higher levels to which one could move when the previous ones were flooded. The peculiarity of the current level is that there no more exists a level above. There is only a possibility of delaying the flooding of the current level either by increasing its space (a relatively equal participation of Africa in globalization) or by absorbing some of the pressures on the walls by channeling them to their strongest points (allocating part of the burdens of the EU crisis to Germany, France, etc.). We do not see any of these possibilities being realized today; on the contrary, the policies pursued are in the exactly opposite direction.

We have already explained why this is so and why a realization of the progressive possibilities of the current stage by the ruling classes is extremely unlikely, if not impossible. Moreover, if they were to be implemented, this should have been prepared during the past decades; e.g., by instituting a United Nations program to combat poverty in Africa and elsewhere, such as that proposed in the 1960s by the Kennedy brothers (who were murdered incidentally by their own class), rather than conducting military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan. If, however, The Economist’s gentlemen are of another opinion and consider such a program possible, nothing prevents them from becoming its preachers, even if a little late.

In conclusion

Marx in his time never held The Economist in any high esteem. He called it, the “optimist conjurer of all things menacing the tranquil minds of the mercantile community”.16

The Economist’s article on Marx’s 200 years confirms his judgment. It is a mirror of the illusions of the condemned classes concerning their “eternity” and of their gaudy front, from which “superstitions and prejudices emerge like frogs”.17 How could Marx be a great thinker and a racist egomaniac at the same time? If he was a racist, why has he been an anathema for all reactionaries? Questions like these The Economist’s gentlemen are unable even to pose; prejudice blocks them from surfacing in their minds. And in this way, they unwittingly offer the best proof that Marx was right both in his opinion about The Economist, which has not advanced far since then, and in his overall predictions about capitalism’s fate.

However, The Economist’s journalists are wrong when they say that the practical implication of these predictions is to “hang on the chariot of history”. Such passivity was alien to Marx; on the contrary, he stressed that history presents active possibilities, the content of which, according to his famous statement, lies in “shortening the birth pangs”. It is on the contrary the “free market” apologists who hang on it and never prepare anything.

From this point of view; e.g., a capitalist development in Africa similar to that of China cannot be indifferent to Marxists as it would limit the sufferings of the next capitalist crisis and help realize the transition to socialism under better conditions. But herein lies the problem, that all such possibilities are hampered by the bourgeoisie itself, by the oligarchies of the developed countries. As Trotsky points out:

In the conditions of capitalist decline, backward countries are unable to attain that level which the old centers of capitalism have attained. Having themselves arrived in a blind alley, the more civilized nations block the road to those finding themselves in a process of civilizing themselves.18

Despite The Economist’s reformist optimism, all realities of our time cry in chorus that the necessary progressive reforms, even those in principle theoretically possible within capitalism, can only be fulfilled in a revolutionary way. And their fulfillment is only conceivable as a step, a starting point in the process of transition to socialism.

  1. See Readers of the World Read Karl Marx, The Economist, May 3, 2018. In the electronic edition the title is different, “Rulers of the world: read Karl Marx!” Roughly one year ago The Economist had published a similar item on Marx, expressing its “scorn” regarding John McDonnell’s praise of him but also admitting that Marx “becomes more relevant by the day”. The Economist, 11/5/2017.
  2. P. Boiteau, “Mort le Karl Marx”, Journal des débats, 25/3/1883.
  3. See K. Marx – F. Engels. Collected Works, Progress Publishers, vol. 41, p. 388-391.
  4. R. Pennington, “Bruno Bauer: Young Hegelian”. That article had appeared first at Instauration, an ultra-right periodical, in 1976. Of course, Pennington goes on to invent an antithesis between Marx and Engels, by presenting the latter as an anti-Semite. This is a lie, Engels had written an article against anti-Semitism, exposing it as an ultra-reactionary current: “anti-Semitism”, he said, “serves… reactionary ends under a purportedly socialist cloak; it is a degenerate form of feudal socialism and we can have nothing to do with that” (F. Engels, “On anti-Semitism”.

    The myth of Marx’s “anti-Semitism” is ably refuted by R. Fine in “Karl Marx and the Radical Critique of Anti-Semitism”.  Unfortunately Fine, in his otherwise excellent article, attributes wrongly the above quoted phrase of Engels to Marx.

  5. K. Marx, “The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte”, in K. Marx – F. Engels, Selected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow 1977, vol. 1, p. 479-480.
  6. K. Marx, Theories of Surplus value, Progress Publishers, Moscow 1975, vol. 3, p. 63.
  7. See “World wealth increases, inequality rises“, Kathimerini, 15/11/2017.
  8. In a well-known passage in Capital, in the part on labor power, Marx emphasizes this point; see K. Marx, Capital, Progress Publishers, Moscow 1977, vol. 1, p. 168.
  9. K. Marx, ibid, p. 579.
  10. K. Marx, Dispatches for the New York Tribune. Selected Journalism of Karl Marx, Penguin Books, London 2007, p. 111-113.
  11. Dhananjay Mahapatra, “Over 12,000 farmer suicides per year, Centre tells Supreme Court”.
  12. K. Marx, ibid, p. 21.
  13. See “Economy of Africa”.
  14. See “EU president Juncker defends Karl Marx’s legacy”. Regarding predictions of a new crisis by EU and IMF officials see  “Juncker’s article on Europe in ‘Ta Nea”, C. Lagarde. “A new crisis is possible”,  and Lagarde. “The Eurozone must be ready for the next crisis”, .
  15. This, let us remark by the way, means that it will be necessary to overcome great difficulties in turning social protest to the left, which implies, among other things, a confrontation with neo-Stalinist, nationalist and other pseudo-socialist currents and the unification of the nowadays scattered revolutionary and oppositionist groups that do not share the above errors. But this requires time so that the ruling classes’ tendency to avoid any progressive reform, partly explained by their usual fear of opening up the appetite of the movement and triggering revolutionary developments, is not right presently.
  16. Κarl Marx. “Revolution in China and in Europe”, New York Daily Tribune, June 14th, 1853.
  17. Α. Arnellos, A Game of Chess, Tipothito Editions, Athens 2002, p. 77.
  18. L. Trotsky, Revolution Betrayed, Allagi Editions, Athens 1988, p. 15.

The Economist on Marx’s 200 years

The 200th anniversary of the birth of Marx has prompted The Economist to devote an article on Marx in its issue of May 5, 2018. Characteristically titled, “Reconsidering Marx. Second time farce. Two hundred years after his birth, Marx remains surprisingly relevant”!1 The article combines recognition that Marx was a genius with reactionary slandering that he was, after all, an evil genius and without him the world would certainly had been much better.

Naturally, one could not expect something different. Since the time Marx’s ideas gained recognition in the labor movement, the main concern of the apologists of capital has been to “refute” them as false, dogmatic and dangerous. Nor do, of course, The Economist’s journalists offer something new; they simply repeat the usual simplistic distortions and misunderstandings their predecessors have offered innumerable times in the past. However, their argument is nevertheless of a certain interest. On the one hand, the part of it in which they vilify Marx displays the rancor and hatred of the apologists of the ruling classes, who being unable to counter the great thinker, embrace all kinds of nonsense they come across to slander and debase him. On the other hand, when discussing Marx’s predictions, they openly confess their reactionary bourgeois fears regarding capitalism’s present deadlock and his vindication, at least in some important points. It is worthwhile, therefore, to take a look at both aspects; all the more because The Economist is not a minor journal but the semi-official voice of the markets and of the views of the liberal (and in our times neo-liberal) wing of the bourgeoisie.

Marx’s “failures”

“A good subtitle for a biography of Karl Marx”, The Economist’s gentlemen begin, “would be ‘a study in failure’… His ideas”, they continue, “were as much religious as scientific – you might even call them religion repackaged for a secular age. He was a late date prophet describing the march of God on Earth. The fall from grace is embodied in capitalism; man is redeemed as the proletariat rises up against its exploiters and creates a communist utopia” (p. 71, same in the following quotations).

The proofs are all very weighty:

Marx claimed that the point of philosophy was not to understand the world but to improve it. Yet his philosophy changed it largely for the worst: the 40% of humanity who lived under Marxist regimes for much of the 20th century endured famines, gulags and party dictatorships. Marx thought his new dialectical science would allow him to predict the future as well as understand the present. Yet he failed to anticipate two of the biggest developments of the 20th century –the rise of fascism and the welfare state– and wrongly believed communism would take root in the most advanced economies.

Whence, then, Marx’s influence, that makes even The Economist’s gentlemen confess that “for all his oversights, Marx remains a monumental figure” and that “interest in him is as lively as ever”? How do they explain the steadily increasing mass of publications, discussions and events about his work? How is it that in his 200 years even Jean-Claude Juncker, the in no way Marxist president of the EU, finds it necessary to visit Marx’s birthplace, Trier, and make a speech about the importance of his work? “Why”, as they themselves snobbishly ask, “does the world remain fixated on the ideas of a man who helped produce so much suffering?”

The answer, according to The Economist’s luminaries, will be found in the combination of genius with malice, which were Marx’s chief traits. His influence is due to the “sheer power of these ideas” and “the power of his personality”.

Marx was in many ways an awful human being. He spent his life sponging off Friedrich Engels. He was such an inveterate racist, including about his own group, the Jews, that even in the 1910s, when tolerance for such prejudices was higher, the editors of his letters felt obligated to censor them… Michael Bakunin described him as ‘ambitious and vain, quarrelsome, intolerant and absolute… vengeful at the point of madness’… But combine egomania with genius and you have a formidable power. He believed absolutely he was right; that he had discovered a key in history that had eluded earlier philosophers. He insisted on promoting his beliefs whatever obstacles fate (or the authorities) put in his way. His notion of happiness was ‘to fight.

The only conclusion to be drawn from all that is that if The Economist’s columnists lag far behind Marx with regard to genius, they certainly outweigh him vastly in egomania. In their attempt to prove their superiority –and the superiority of their beloved capitalism– to Marx’s predictions, they inevitably prove their inferiority, their inability to understand even Marx’s most basic positions, necessarily ending up to combine traces of truth with tons of falsehood and lies. Let us briefly bring out some points for their benefit.

First of all, there is nothing new in portraying Marx as a “religious” thinker and a “metaphysician”. This, in fact, was a beloved theme of all reactionaries of his time, who being unable to counter his theories and discoveries, resorted to such abuse and slander. For these of priests of capital and the “free markets”, of course, the “natural” was identical with capitalism, while everything going beyond it was anathematized as “religious” etc.

To limit ourselves to just one example, immediately after Marx’s death, Paul Boiteau, an official French economist, wrote in the conservative Journal des débats:

Karl Marx, who has just died, was in his lifetime one of the most listened prophets and theologians of the religion of social wrongs. He has had no difficulty in passing to the rank of its gods, and he will no doubt share in their fate, which is to disappear rather quickly into the void where socialism successively buried its divinities. But, for the moment, his memory receives the censers to which he was entitled, and, in both worlds, the meetings of the initiates declare that the Gospel of Marx must henceforth be the text par excellence of the preachings of international socialism.2

It would seem that The Economist’s folks have not advanced very far from Boiteau’s views. And, judging from the fact that everyone still knows Karl Marx while almost no one remembers Boiteau, it seems unlikely that they will get a better place in the hall of fame than he did.

Secondly, Marx never portrayed capitalism as a “fall from grace”, a hell that took the place of a previous earthly paradise, and the proletariat as the Messiah of our time. This was, in fact, the position of some Utopian communists of his time, whose primitivism he criticized. On the contrary, Marx acknowledged and stressed, at least after having laid the foundations of his theory, that capitalism represents a great advance in relation to feudalism, and that it substantially expanded the technological basis and horizons of human society. At the same time, however, he argued that by rapidly developing productive forces and socializing production, capitalism undermines its very foundation, makes unnecessary and anachronistic the exploitative relations on which it rests, and creates for the first time the possibility of a non-exploitative organization of the economy, based on the common ownership the means of production. The Economist’s journalists, lacking the courage to address the second point, blur and obscure the first, attributing to Marx things that are not part of his theory.

Thirdly, there is nothing in Marx’s works that contains even a trace of anti-Semitism or racism. Anti-Semites included, among others, Bakunin, whose slanderous criticism of Marx The Economist approvingly quotes, and Bruno Bauer, both of them Marx’s opponents. Bauer argued in particular that Jews would be unable to free themselves as long as they did not discard their religion and that until then they should be deprived of their political rights. Marx, answering him in his brochure on the Jewish question, which is frequently falsely presented by reactionaries as “anti-Semitic”, had rejected any idea of political, religious or other discrimination against the Jews. He countered that the partial liberation of the Jews was possible through their participation in the political struggles of the time, without presupposing any renunciation of their religion, and that their total liberation would take place when society was liberated from all kinds of slavery.

Marx’s perhaps only “anti-Jewish” comment appears in a letter he wrote to Engels, to which The Economist’s folks apparently allude, where he contemptuously labeled Lassalle a “Jewish nigger”.3 However, this letter was written under very special circumstances when Lassalle had stayed for some days at Marx’s home in London during 1862. Lassalle, as Marx mentions, besides his refusal to lend him an amount of money, had proposed him, as a means of getting rid of his financial problems, to hand over one of his daughters as a companion to a bourgeois family, and had unsettled his calmness and work. These things had enraged Marx and he wrote an aggressive letter to Engels, with all sorts of strong comments, which cannot be seen as an expression of his positions on racism or on any other matter. In order to seriously criticize Marx as a “racist”, one would have to point out some explicit or indirect support for racism in his works, which is impossible to do for him or any other serious Marxist.

Let us note by the way, as an example of how strongly prejudiced The Economist’s journalists, who imagine themselves “enlightened”, are, that even some neo-Nazis quote and comment more honestly Marx’s views on the Jews. In an article about Bruno Bauer posted on the National Vanguard, one of the key neo-Nazi websites in the United States, after speaking of Bauer as one of the forerunners of anti-Semitism, R. Pennington refers to Marx’s criticism of his views as a rejection of anti-Semitism: “Bauer’s anti-Semitism”, she writes, caused Marx a great deal of intellectual grief”; Marx’s critique was intended to “releasing the Jews from any intimidation by society or the state”.4 As an orthodox ultra-right, Pennington prefers, of course, to Bauer, honoring his anti-Semitism and condemning “Marxist obscurantism”, but at least she presents somewhat accurately Marx’s position.

Marx, they tell us further, failed to predict fascism and the welfare state. In the same way, one could say Darwin failed to predict (in 1871!) the discovery of DNA or that The Economist failed to predict, not 50 years, but not even 50 days beforehand, the outbreak of the global economic crisis in 2007. To blame Marx for things it was clearly impossible for him to predict, and for the analogue of which they would never blame, let us say, Darwin or themselves, isn’t that a manifestation of egomania and rancor?

Of course, Marx did not explicitly predict the above developments, but he identified the trends that made them possible. In many of his writings on the revolutions of 1848, in his criticisms of vulgar bourgeois political economy and in his analyses of the Commune, he showed and documented the bourgeoisie’s turn towards reaction, one of the ultimate consequences of which was fascism. In his The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, he also referred to the development of reactionary petty bourgeois movements; i.e., peasants’ movements “who, in stupefied seclusion… want to see themselves and their small holdings saved”,5 thereby turning against the proletariat; a trend whose exacerbation in the imperialist era contributed decisively in the development of fascism. On the other hand, in his analysis of Malthus’s views in Theories of Surplus Value, Marx extensively referred to the bourgeoisie’s attempts to increase the intermediate strata between itself and the proletariat as a safety valve for its regime, considering that “this is the course taken by bourgeois society”.6 So here, too, he revealed the socio-economic basis of the developments that led to the so-called “welfare state”; i.e., the strengthening of the intermediate strata, which is possible within capitalism, as long as it does not radically contradict the falling tendency of the rate of profit.

Let’s turn now to The Economist’s main claim that Marx’s bad influence helped produce most of the 20th century’s misery, which could otherwise have been avoided. Putting the issue in this way is, of course, foolish; the true question to be asked and answered is: which tendencies in the 20th century have had positive results, those emerging from capitalism and contributing to its perpetuation, or the revolutionary tendencies that, finding their foundation in Marx, were promoting the overthrow of the capitalist system?

Capitalism was exclusively responsible for the first great war of the 20th century, the world imperialist war of 1914-18, with its more than ten million victims. Imperialist intervention was largely responsible for millions of victims in the initially almost bloodless Russian Revolution of 1917. The great crisis of 1929 and fascism were both children of capitalism, as was the case with World War II, an effort of the most reactionary wing of capital to eliminate the achievements of the Russian Revolution. It is true that the course of the USSR was marked, especially in Stalin’s years, by the negative phenomena The Economist points out; i.e., the 1932-33 famine, gulags, massive cleansing, terror and oppression, as was also the case in China during the Great Leap Forward. However, these phenomena have been explained by Marxists as a degeneration process, the result of the backwardness of the countries where the revolution first took place and of the rise of Stalinist bureaucracy, which did not promote but betrayed world revolution both in the USSR –its first victims there being the leaders of October– and abroad. In addition, they were not the only ones and did not characterize the whole experience of the USSR. During the 1920s and early ’30s there took place in the USSR a vast cultural revolution, whose achievements were undermined by Stalinism but nevertheless partly survived and developed in the later phases of the regime. The Soviet people took up the main burden of the anti-fascist struggle, which objectively was a continuation of October’s progressive legacy, while after 1956 the most odious aspects of Stalinist oppression were put aside.

The imperialist plunder of the Third World, interventions, establishment of dictatorships and the condemnation of entire peoples in starvation, continued on the contrary throughout the 20th century, before and after World War II. The concessions of the ruling classes in the capitalist centers after 1945 were prompted chiefly by their fear of the post-war ascend of communism and anti-fascist movements. Where it not for the USSR, who would have stopped Nazism and force these concessions to the ruling classes? Moreover, while the existence of the USSR checked the aggression of imperialism, after its dissolution its real tendencies have again been manifested openly and unimpeded, producing their true devastating effects. It took just 15 years to take world-wide inequality to unprecedented heights, start many local wars, exacerbate the great powers’ competition to a point threatening a hot conflict, trigger the global economic crisis of 2007, and revive fascism and far-right nationalism worldwide. Even the few positive elements of the latest period, such as the great capitalist development of China, are closely linked to the positive heritage of the 20th century’s revolutions. In China, the fact that a great popular revolution lasting two decades eroded feudalism and imperialist dependence, allowed capitalism to develop without internal and external obstacles and benefit a comparatively significant part of the population; in India, on the contrary, where there was no revolution, but only a bourgeois renovation from above, the growth of the last decades was much weaker and a much larger part of the population is stuck in extreme poverty. Capitalism prevailed in its competition with the USSR due to its higher level of development of the productive forces and the devastating effects of Stalinism, but experience shows that this did not allow capitalism to overcome its contradictions.

The Economist’s journalists make every effort to reject not only Marx himself, but the whole Communist movement and its eminent theorists after his death:

After Marx’s death in 1883 his followers –particularly Engels– worked hard to turn his theories into a closed system. The pursuit of purity involved vicious factional fights as the ‘real’ Marxists drove out renegades, revisionists and heretics. It eventually led to the monstrosity of Marxism-Leninism with its pretentions of infallibility (‘scientific socialism’), its delight in obfuscation (‘dialectical materialism’) and its cult of personality (those giant statues of Marx and Lenin).

Here again, the negative experiences of Stalinism, dogmatism and the necrosis of Marxism, are exploited to discard as nonsense the whole development of Marxism after Marx. However, Marxism in that period had important representatives such as Engels, Plekhanov, Lenin, Luxemburg, Kautsky, Mehring and, after Lenin’s death, Trotsky, Bukharin, Gramsci and Lukacs, who cannot be put aside so easily. These Marxists analyzed developments after Marx’s death, guided the October Revolution and developed Marxism further. That this development involved a clearing of Marxism from alien influences was not something special to Engels or Lenin: Marx had also fought fiercely against the pseudo-socialists of his time, such as Proudhon and the “true socialists”, and Marxists after Lenin, especially Trotsky and Lukacs, explained Stalinist dogmatism as an alien influence and distortion of Marxism.

Paradoxically, and while one would expect that after all these tirades, everything about Marx has been dismissed, The Economist’s gentlemen conclude their reference to his “failures” with a reservation that would seem to distinguish something fertile in his thought. But as it immediately becomes clear, they consider “fertile” only what they themselves want to read or think they can find in Marx.

The collapse of this petrified orthodoxy has revealed that Marx was a much more interesting man than his interpreters have implied. His grand certainties were a response to grand doubts. His sweeping theories were the results of endless reversals. Toward the end of his life he questioned many of his central convictions. He worried that he might have been wrong about the tendency of the rate of profit to fall. He puzzled over the fact that, far from immiserating the poor, Victorian England was providing them with growing prosperity. (ibid, p. 71-72).

Here The Economist’s gentlemen remarkably agree with the representatives of the so-called “New reading of Marx”, that is, representatives of professorial academic wisdom who falsify Marx, such as Michael Heinrich. Marx, of course, rethought and improved his assumptions constantly, but contrary to the claims of these scholars, there is no evidence that he had revised his analysis of the falling tendency of the rate of profit, or that Engels distorted his positions. Moreover, the entire evolution of capitalism in the 20th century has confirmed this fundamental to its historical fortunes law discovered by Marx. The main transformations and models of capitalism, Fordism, Keynesianism, neoliberalism, were, in fact, just ways of reacting to the downward rate of profit, and the fact that the bourgeoisie is forced to replace them after profitability crises proves that they can counteract it only temporarily and that their potential is always exhausted.

Engels was perhaps not as deep as Marx, and he occasionally made some mistakes. But to dismiss Engels for Heinrich’s sake means to read Marx in a systemic way, to make Engels’s mistakes an alibi in order to accept a total mistake. Marx’s concerns at the end of his life had to do with a better conceptualization of the complexity of capitalism’s tendencies, and hence of the revolutionary process, not with their general direction.

Marx’s successes and further “failures”

This brings us to Marx’s successes, some of which are so obvious, that even The Economist’s columnists cannot but recognize them, although still charging him with some other failures.

“The chief reason for the continuing interest in Marx, however”, we read further, “is that his ideas are more relevant than they have been for decades. The post-war consensus that shifted power from capital to labour and produced a ‘great compression’ in living standards is fading. Globalisation and the rise of a virtual economy are producing a version of capitalism that once more seems to be out of control. The backwards flow of power from labour to capital is finally beginning to produce a popular –and often populist– reaction. No wonder the most successful economics book of recent years, Thomas Piketty’s ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century’, echoes the title of Marx’s most important work and his preoccupation with inequality” (p. 72, same in the following).

So, if inequality has once again become a central issue, to the extent that 1% of the world’s population owns over 50% of the world’s wealth, and 3.7 billion of the poorest account for just 2.7%7, how can “dogmatic” and “fanatical” Marx be confirmed after so many “reforms” and “advances” made by the ruling classes? Let’s see what The Economist’s gentlemen have to say about this as things become more interesting now.

Marx argued that capitalism is in essence a system of rent-seeking: rather than creating wealth from nothing, as they like to imagine, capitalists are in the business of expropriating the wealth of others. Marx was wrong about capitalism in the raw: great entrepreneurs do amass fortunes by dreaming up new products or new ways of organising production. But he had a point about capitalism in its bureaucratic form. A depressing number of today’s bosses are corporate bureaucrats rather than wealth-creators, who use convenient formulae to make sure their salaries go ever upwards. They work hand in glove with a growing crowd of other rent-seekers, such as management consultants… professional board members… and retired politicians…

By reading such passages, one gets convinced that The Economist’s “liberals” will never understand even Marx’s simplest positions, not due to lack of knowledge, but because they do not want to understand them, since this goes contrary to their class interests. Marx never defined capitalism as a rent-seeking system. This was also a feature of feudalism which knew various kinds of rent. The distinctive feature of capitalism, according to Marx, is expansion, the development of production for production’s sake, the accumulation of capital. And what capitalists accumulate is surplus value, the unpaid labor of the workers, which they usurp. Ideas could never create stocks and capitals; and it is absurd to base economic analysis on the difference between the good ideas of capitalists and the bad ideas of managers, etc. Moreover, if it was just a matter of good or bad ideas, one could perhaps solve many problems and save capitalism by imposing a negative rent for some obviously bad ideas of the capitalists and their ilk, such as weapons of mass destruction. The Economist’s gentlemen, distorting Marx in that way, shift the problem from the structure of capitalism to the behavior of the one or other of its agents, bureaucrats, managers, and so on. Yet, while rent is, of course, important –and Lenin, Hobson and others showed how rentiers multiply in the imperialist era with capitalism’s increasing parasitism– according to Marx, it is production and not distribution that defines the essence of capitalism, as of every other economic system.

However, just after that we find two better passages. One is about globalization, which, it is acknowledged, Marx had already foreseen:

Capitalism, Marx maintained, is by its nature a global system: ‘It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere’. That is as true today as it was in the Victorian era. The two most striking developments of the past 30 years are the progressive dismantling of barriers to the free movement of the factors of production—goods, capital and to some extent people—and the rise of the emerging world. Global firms plant their flags wherever it is most convenient… The World Economic Forum’s annual jamboree in Davos, Switzerland, might well be retitled ‘Marx was right’.

So Marx did predict something correctly after all. And it seems that he did not only predict this, but also something else too, the tendency of capitalism to create monopolies and, along with the accumulation of wealth on the one side, to produce an army of unemployed and occasionally employed in the other:

“He thought”, we read further, “capitalism had a tendency towards monopoly, as successful capitalists drive their weaker rivals out of business in a prelude to extracting monopoly rents. Again this seems to be a reasonable description of the commercial world that is being shaped by globalisation and the internet. The world’s biggest companies are not only getting bigger in absolute terms but are also turning huge numbers of smaller companies into mere appendages. New-economy behemoths are exercising a market dominance not seen since America’s robber barons. Facebook and Google suck up two-thirds of America’s online ad revenues. Amazon controls more than 40% of the country’s booming online-shopping market. In some countries Google processes over 90% of web searches. Not only is the medium the message but the platform is also the market.

In Marx’s view capitalism yielded an army of casual labourers who existed from one job to the other. During the long post-war boom this seemed like a nonsense. Far from having nothing to lose but their chains, the workers of the world—at least the rich world—had secure jobs, houses in the suburbs and a cornucopia of possessions… Yet once again Marx’s argument is gaining urgency. The gig economy is assembling a reserve force of atomised labourers who wait to be summoned, via electronic foremen, to deliver people’s food, clean their houses or act as their chauffeurs. In Britain house prices are so high that people under 45 have little hope of buying them. Most American workers say they have just a few hundred dollars in the bank. Marx’s proletariat is being reborn as the precariat.

The analysis perhaps is not flawless, but we may assume without much danger of error that had Marx read it, he would have rated The Economist’s analysts at least with a 5 (full marks being 10). Unfortunately, is not so with the immediately following argument, for which he would definitely make them repeat the same class:

Still, the rehabilitation ought not to go too far. Marx’s errors far outnumbered his insights. His insistence that capitalism drives workers’ living standards to subsistence level is absurd. The genius of capitalism is that it relentlessly reduces the price of regular consumer items: today’s workers have easy access to goods once considered the luxuries of monarchs… Marx’s vision of a post-capitalist future is both banal and dangerous: banal because it presents a picture of people essentially loafing about (hunting in the morning, fishing in the afternoon, raising cattle in the evening and criticising after dinner); dangerous because it provides a licence for the self-anointed vanguard to impose its vision on the masses.

It is tragic indeed to encounter such expositions of Marx’s views.

First of all, Marx never claimed that “capitalism drives workers’ living standards to subsistence level”. This was, in fact, Lassalle’s position, expressed in his famous “Iron Law of Wages”, which states precisely this thing. Marx criticized Lassalle’s law, showing that the workers, with their organization and struggles, could improve their position, and that there is a difference, historically defined in each country, between the wage corresponding to subsistence level and the real average wage.8

Secondly, it is funny to imply that a thinker of Marx’s level had not noticed and pointed out the ability of capitalism to limit the prices of consumer goods through technological progress, productivity gains, etc. In fact, Marx was the first economist to recognize and explain this possibility, as well as the historical movement of wages at the various stages of capitalism, with his distinction between absolute and relative surplus value. Let us explain this distinction, for the benefit of The Economist’s columnists.

Absolute surplus value, according to Marx, is the type of capitalist accumulation that dominated the early stages of capitalism, in the so-called period of primitive accumulation of capital. During that period, accumulation was promoted by increasing the working day – for example, the worker was forced to work 12 instead of 10 hours daily, his salary remaining the same. This means an increase in exploitation: if, for example, in the initial 10 hours, 6 hours correspond to the reproduction of the labor force and 4 hours to unpaid labor (i.e., production of surplus value), the final 12 will include 6 unpaid hours. Absolute surplus value goes hand in hand with absolute impoverishment, as pay per hour of work decreases. The brutal expropriation of the rural population and its relocation to the cities under wretched conditions, the deadly work of children and women, etc., were some of the misfortunes of this phase, described in novels by Dickens, Gorky and others.

However, when the development of capitalism, and hence its technological base, reaches a relatively high point –what Marx calls “the real subordination of labor to capital”– absolute surplus value is replaced by relative surplus value. The distinctive feature of the latter is that accumulation is now promoted not by the increase of the working day but by the limitation of the part of the working day devoted to the replacement of the worker’s labor power. In the previous example, if the time for the reproduction of labor power (the necessary labor) is reduced to 2 hours from 6, then even with a reduction of the working day from 10 to 8 hours, the worker will produce more surplus value than before, offering 6 hours of surplus labor instead of 4. Relative surplus value corresponds to relative impoverishment because the salary per hour of work increases. In addition, it is a constituent part of Marx’s analysis that the price of labor power in the latter case will correspond to a larger number of goods, since by the development of specialization, etc., the needs of the worker also grow. Of course, the great limitation of necessary labor is made possible because, due to technological progress, an hour of work in developed capitalism produces a much larger mass of commodities than what it produced in its earlier stages. The total value of these goods remains roughly the same, but the value per unit is drastically reduced.

In Marx’s time relative surplus value had progressed only in Britain, yet this did not prevent him from recognizing it as the main form for developed capitalism and assess its impact on the workers’ living standard. In an excerpt in Capital he sums it up quite clearly:

Under the conditions of accumulation… which conditions are those most favorable to the laborers, their relation of dependence upon capital takes on a form endurable or, as Eden says: ‘easy and liberal’. Instead of becoming more intensive with the growth of capital, this relation of dependence only becomes more extensive, i.e., the sphere of capital’s exploitation and rule merely extends with its own dimensions and the number of its subjects. A larger part of their own surplus-product, always increasing and continually transformed into additional capital, comes back to them in the shape of means of payment, so that they can extend the circle of their enjoyments; can make some additions to their consumption-fund of clothes, furniture, etc., and can lay by small reserve-funds of money.9

Of course, as Marx explains at various points, this improvement has certain limits defined by the needs of capitalist accumulation, and tends to take place in periods of economic growth, while in recessions wages are being pressed. But this is a far cry from presenting him as an advocate of the view that no improvement in the lot of the workers is possible under capitalism.

Marx’s position that in the post-capitalist society people will be able to hunt in the morning and go fishing in the evening was a poetic image of the many sided, cultivated man who will replace the disintegrated, individualistic human existence to which capitalism gives rise. Marx insisted that labor itself will always be “the realm of necessity”, but shorter working hours when everyone will work will give all members of society enough free time for a variety of other activities. It was Marx’s deep conviction that in the future society even The Economist’s journalists will find some better things to do than to exhort capitalism and abuse Marx.

For the time being, of course, no such thing is in sight, so they continue listing some more of Marx’s “failures”. “The World Bank”, we are told, “calculates that the number of people in ‘extreme poverty’ has declined from 1.85bn in 1970 to 767m in 2013, a figure that puts the regrettable stagnation of living standards for Western workers in perspective”. Marx, evidently, failed to anticipate that momentous progress too…

Here again it is a case of progresses existing in the apologists’ heads rather than in reality. Extreme poverty is defined at making less than 1.90$ per day, so that it would hardly look like a great advance to half the number of those caught in it. Moreover, the very definition of extreme poverty by the World Bank is under severe criticism, while if one puts aside China, the picture in the rest of the world is hardly encouraging.

In fact The Economist’s gentlemen are very close to repeating arguments regarding general welfare, which their predecessors advanced in Marx’s time. “Delightful is it thus to see”, one of them went, “under Free Trade, all classes flourishing; their energies are called forth by hope of reward; all improve their productions, and all and each are benefited” (The Economist, 2/1/1853). To which Marx replied by pointing to the numerous cases of starvation in this “generally beneficial” social order10. One has just to look at the thousands of peasants in India who commit suicide due to starvation –according to official estimates, more than 12,000 yearly after 201311 – to see that The Economist’s present attempt to paint a similar worldwide tranquility is not a bit better.

There follows Marx’s worst “mistake”:

Marx’s greatest failure, however, was that he underestimated the power of reform—the ability of people to solve the evident problems of capitalism through rational discussion and compromise. He believed history was a chariot thundering to a predetermined end and that the best that the charioteers can do is hang on. Liberal reformers, including his near contemporary William Gladstone, have repeatedly proved him wrong. They have not only saved capitalism from itself by introducing far-reaching reforms but have done so through the power of persuasion. The ‘superstructure’ has triumphed over the ‘base’, ‘parliamentary cretinism’ over the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’.

So, what do The Economist’s geniuses tell us? To what does their wisdom end up?

They tell us that Marx was right in verifying those laws and trends of capitalism that bring them and their ilk to the foreground –globalization, monopolization, etc.– but that they, the “superstructure”, the various “think tanks” of capital, with their special astuteness and wisdom, succeeded in changing the action of these laws, making them produce different results than those predicted by Marx. Isn’t that a form of egomania?

We have already seen that Marx recognized the possibilities of reforming capitalism, ultimately based on relative surplus value. He himself refers to them in the Preface to the 1st edition of Capital, pointing out that “present society is not a solid crystal, but an organism capable of change, and is constantly changing”.12 Marx, however, showed at the same time the limits of these possibilities. To clarify this last, vital point, let us listen first to The Economist’s gentlemen final confessions:

The great theme of history in the advanced world since Marx’s death has been reform rather than revolution. Enlightened politicians extended the franchise so working-class people had a stake in the political system. They renewed the regulatory system so that great economic concentrations were broken up or regulated. They reformed economic management so economic cycles could be smoothed and panics contained… Today’s great question is whether those achievements can be repeated. The backlash against capitalism is mounting – if more often in the form of populist anger than of proletarian solidarity. So far liberal reformers are proving sadly inferior to their predecessors in terms of both their grasp of the crisis and their ability to generate solutions. They should use the 200th anniversary of Marx’s birth to reacquaint themselves with the great man – not only to understand the serious faults that he brilliantly identified in the system, but to remind themselves of the disaster that awaits if they fail to confront them.

Well, well, truth must be admitted after all! What we see during the last two decades is the decline of the liberal elites, their constant shift to intensified reaction, their failure to find any viable way out of the crisis and the deadlocks of capitalism, their –as The Economist itself aptly puts it– sad inferiority to the circumstances. However, their failure inexorably raises a relentless question that The Economist’s gentlemen fail to raise: Is this a chance, subjective failure or error of the leading circles of capital? Or does its cause lie in something more profound; i.e., that there exists no longer such a reformist way?

Can capitalism reform itself anew?

So, can capitalism reform itself anew, as it has done in the past, or is its present, self-destructive course definitive?

This question emerges from all modern developments and we can give at least some credit to The Economist’s journalists for posing it openly and sharply as a “life and death” question for capitalism. Yet it cannot be posed in a Shakespearean, “to be or not to be” philosophical way, as they pose it. It must be examined in relation to the whole of social experience, the directions of bourgeois governments and organizations, etc. And any such discussion will inexorably force answering it in the negative. A few concrete questions will clarify that.

If there is a real possibility of a new New Deal today, why do we nowhere see a significant portion of the ruling classes expressing and supporting it? In the 1930s there was a Roosevelt, after World War II there were representatives of the liberal bourgeoisie such as De Gaulle and the Kennedy brothers. Where is their current analogue? Why does the “liberal” wing, whose voice The Economist is, can only oppose Trump with a Hillary Clinton; i.e., something just a trifle better? Why do the few progressive representatives of the bourgeoisie like Sanders prove completely incapable of proposing any positive reform program and are forced, confusing others and themselves, to talk about “socialism”?

All these are sure indications that an internal reform of capitalism which would provide a real economic revival is no longer possible. We will understand why it is so by returning to Marx’s analysis of relative surplus value. The development of mature capitalism, as Marx has shown particularly in his Results of the Direct Production Process, consists essentially in generalizing relative surplus value, through its successive expansion to the various branches of economy. This was done in previous stages with the technological intensification of industry, agriculture and the state sector, services, etc. And the reason capitalism could at those stages have some able representatives was that there were still non-intensified sectors of the economy, whose reshaping, as well as the overall reshaping of the system based on this process, required certain abilities.

The distinctive feature of globalization, on the contrary, is that, at least in the developed countries, there is no longer a non-intensified economic sector. The service and public sectors, the last remaining ones, were intensified in the neoliberal era, this being its essential content. Things like “green economy” are aspirins, while the generalized automation futurists like Mason are dreaming of is inconceivable under capitalism as it would decisively hit the rate of profit. The very fact that capital is now forced to resort to absolute surplus value, increasing again the length of the working day in order to support the rate of profit (and thereby reviving again absolute impoverishment!), is a further proof of the exhaustion of its reformist margins. So at capitalist metropolises at least, there remains nothing else, nothing new to be done; there is no new model of accumulation and consequently no possibility of a new cycle. This makes globalization the last phase, the last moment of the imperialist era and capitalism in general, during which the capitalist system will necessarily leave the historical scene.

All this does not imply, of course, a complete impossibility of reforms, but any such possibilities refer to measures, changes, etc., which fulfill possibilities of the current stage, not of a hypothetical, non-existent future stage. Or to put it otherwise: there is no chance of capitalism presenting something radically new, a modern “New Deal”, but only –and this at a theoretical level– of normalizing and prolonging a bit globalization, by softening for some time its worst conflicts.

Two such possibilities are basically at hand. Relative surplus value has already exhausted its potential in the capitalist centers and is now fulfilling it in Asia and Latin America. But there is a continent where it has not yet been expanded; i.e., Africa. Africa’s participation in globalization could provide a growth momentum when China recedes, opening a further round. Of course, in order to bring this about, that participation should be on comparatively equal terms, not like that of Yemen, which picks up globalization’s bombs, but roughly that of China. Secondly, the North-South gap in the European Union suggests a similar, albeit proportionally smaller, possibility of capitalist progress for the European South, but this also presupposes a change in the EU structure towards true convergence.

Historical experience so far proves that the weakened liberal leaders of capitalism cannot implement these changes or even aid them. Obstacles on their way are more than obvious. Africa is already the field of competition between China and the West, and the great powers are not interested in its development, but in enhancing each one’s sphere of influence and plundering at the expense of the rest. In addition, American imperialism’s policies of past decades, interventions around the world, etc., have strengthened the worst, most adventurous forces in its protectorates, the consequence being that change stumbles not only on the directions of imperialism itself, but also on local cliques, “compradorial” segments, etc. Africa’s current growth rate of about 4% reflects these barriers, being extremely low for a continent with a population of 1.3 billion and less than one-third of US GDP.

It would be erroneous to imagine that when China’s momentum fades, capital will flow in Africa and start a new swift rise there. Firstly, China’s potential as capitalism’s steam engine has already been half-halted. Yet Africa’s development has not gained momentum, but has receded during the last years, from 5.5% in 2012 to 2.7 in 2016, and an anemic recovery in 201713 In the second place, China’s huge capitalist progress was made possible by the fact that the revolution had created a viable social order, a skillful and educated working class, etc. Only traces of these will be found in Africa, which is moreover divided in a multitude of small, unsustainable states, with extreme poverty increasing strongly during the last decades. In practice, moving these barriers aside will require at least some Chavez type revolutions in Africa, like those of Latin America during the last two decades. A key condition for a steady development in that continent will be that the leading circles of imperialism support these processes, yet wherever they have happened so far, either in Africa itself in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, or in Latin America recently, imperialism has constantly tried to stifle them.

On the other hand, the European Union, the only intensive global integration process, remains, as Mr. Juncker acknowledged in his recent Marx speech, extremely fragile. “The European Union”, he said, “is not a flawed, but an unstable construction. Unstable also because Europe’s social dimension until today remains the poor relation of the European integration. We have to change this”14 But of what change can one speak of, when, in a construct that its own leaders confess its instability, all the pressures of the crisis are directed to its weakest joints? It is not clear that the next crisis, which even according to them, is probably a short time away, will break it into pieces? And what will the consequences be then? Under the present circumstances, these can only be chaos, a fascist takeover of power in at least some European countries and war conflicts.

Of course, Trump’s election in the United States, the developing commercial wars and the existence of anachronistic regimes, such as Syria, Iran, and so on, belonging to Russian sphere of influence, obstruct economic progress even more at a world level. Add to this the whole parasitic raff of globalization, which in not limited to bureaucrats and politicians as The Economist would have it, but also includes all kinds of market speculators, lobbyists, mafias, etc, who loot world economy –movies like Gavras’s “Le Capital” and Hickenlooper’s “Casino Jack” depict their range– and you will see why it is utopian to expect something different from the ruling elites.

One last point that deserves some comment in The Economist’s arguments is their hints that Marx’s revolutionary forecast has been refuted in the capitalist centers. While Marx “believed communism would take hold in the most advanced economies… The only countries where Marx’s ideas took hold were backward autocracies such as Russia and China”. And even today, in period of severe crisis, opposition to capitalism appears “more often in the form of populist anger than of proletarian solidarity” (p. 71, 72).

These arguments are not new, yet there is a grain of truth in them, which has also been adequately dealt by Marxists. After Marx’s death, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky recognized the bourgeoisie’s ability to create a “working class aristocracy”, by sharing a small part of the booty of colonial exploitation, a fact allowing it to stabilize its hold in the capitalist centers. On the other hand, the obvious reason recent opposition to capitalism has so far been manifested chiefly by the rise of (often far-right) populism is that the crisis hit first the petty bourgeoisie, who tend to seek to restore their previous position at the expense of the working class15 All that, however, belongs to the kind of complications and difficulties with which Marx struggled in the last phase of his life, when he clearly envisaged some of them (e.g., the possibility of a revolution in Russia) and in no way counters his central claims. Doesn’t the fact of “the regrettable stagnation of living standards for Western workers” (p. 72), to which The Economist reluctantly refers, prove indeed that the main stabilizing factor in the capitalist centers belongs to the past?

Let us sum up in a graphic way. Capitalism is a Titanic that, due to the very materials and contradictions ingrained in its frame, is doomed to break up and sink. It is composed, of course, of several levels, each one of them having its own watertight parts which delay for a while flooding from incoming water. In the previous stages or levels, there was a difficult way out of Titanic to the new ship of socialism, but there were also higher levels to which one could move when the previous ones were flooded. The peculiarity of the current level is that there no more exists a level above. There is only a possibility of delaying the flooding of the current level either by increasing its space (a relatively equal participation of Africa in globalization) or by absorbing some of the pressures on the walls by channeling them to their strongest points (allocating part of the burdens of the EU crisis to Germany, France, etc.). We do not see any of these possibilities being realized today; on the contrary, the policies pursued are in the exactly opposite direction.

We have already explained why this is so and why a realization of the progressive possibilities of the current stage by the ruling classes is extremely unlikely, if not impossible. Moreover, if they were to be implemented, this should have been prepared during the past decades; e.g., by instituting a United Nations program to combat poverty in Africa and elsewhere, such as that proposed in the 1960s by the Kennedy brothers (who were murdered incidentally by their own class), rather than conducting military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan. If, however, The Economist’s gentlemen are of another opinion and consider such a program possible, nothing prevents them from becoming its preachers, even if a little late.

In conclusion

Marx in his time never held The Economist in any high esteem. He called it, the “optimist conjurer of all things menacing the tranquil minds of the mercantile community”.16

The Economist’s article on Marx’s 200 years confirms his judgment. It is a mirror of the illusions of the condemned classes concerning their “eternity” and of their gaudy front, from which “superstitions and prejudices emerge like frogs”.17 How could Marx be a great thinker and a racist egomaniac at the same time? If he was a racist, why has he been an anathema for all reactionaries? Questions like these The Economist’s gentlemen are unable even to pose; prejudice blocks them from surfacing in their minds. And in this way, they unwittingly offer the best proof that Marx was right both in his opinion about The Economist, which has not advanced far since then, and in his overall predictions about capitalism’s fate.

However, The Economist’s journalists are wrong when they say that the practical implication of these predictions is to “hang on the chariot of history”. Such passivity was alien to Marx; on the contrary, he stressed that history presents active possibilities, the content of which, according to his famous statement, lies in “shortening the birth pangs”. It is on the contrary the “free market” apologists who hang on it and never prepare anything.

From this point of view; e.g., a capitalist development in Africa similar to that of China cannot be indifferent to Marxists as it would limit the sufferings of the next capitalist crisis and help realize the transition to socialism under better conditions. But herein lies the problem, that all such possibilities are hampered by the bourgeoisie itself, by the oligarchies of the developed countries. As Trotsky points out:

In the conditions of capitalist decline, backward countries are unable to attain that level which the old centers of capitalism have attained. Having themselves arrived in a blind alley, the more civilized nations block the road to those finding themselves in a process of civilizing themselves.18

Despite The Economist’s reformist optimism, all realities of our time cry in chorus that the necessary progressive reforms, even those in principle theoretically possible within capitalism, can only be fulfilled in a revolutionary way. And their fulfillment is only conceivable as a step, a starting point in the process of transition to socialism.

  1. See Readers of the World Read Karl Marx, The Economist, May 3, 2018. In the electronic edition the title is different, “Rulers of the world: read Karl Marx!” Roughly one year ago The Economist had published a similar item on Marx, expressing its “scorn” regarding John McDonnell’s praise of him but also admitting that Marx “becomes more relevant by the day”. The Economist, 11/5/2017.
  2. P. Boiteau, “Mort le Karl Marx”, Journal des débats, 25/3/1883.
  3. See K. Marx – F. Engels. Collected Works, Progress Publishers, vol. 41, p. 388-391.
  4. R. Pennington, “Bruno Bauer: Young Hegelian”. That article had appeared first at Instauration, an ultra-right periodical, in 1976. Of course, Pennington goes on to invent an antithesis between Marx and Engels, by presenting the latter as an anti-Semite. This is a lie, Engels had written an article against anti-Semitism, exposing it as an ultra-reactionary current: “anti-Semitism”, he said, “serves… reactionary ends under a purportedly socialist cloak; it is a degenerate form of feudal socialism and we can have nothing to do with that” (F. Engels, “On anti-Semitism”.

    The myth of Marx’s “anti-Semitism” is ably refuted by R. Fine in “Karl Marx and the Radical Critique of Anti-Semitism”.  Unfortunately Fine, in his otherwise excellent article, attributes wrongly the above quoted phrase of Engels to Marx.

  5. K. Marx, “The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte”, in K. Marx – F. Engels, Selected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow 1977, vol. 1, p. 479-480.
  6. K. Marx, Theories of Surplus value, Progress Publishers, Moscow 1975, vol. 3, p. 63.
  7. See “World wealth increases, inequality rises“, Kathimerini, 15/11/2017.
  8. In a well-known passage in Capital, in the part on labor power, Marx emphasizes this point; see K. Marx, Capital, Progress Publishers, Moscow 1977, vol. 1, p. 168.
  9. K. Marx, ibid, p. 579.
  10. K. Marx, Dispatches for the New York Tribune. Selected Journalism of Karl Marx, Penguin Books, London 2007, p. 111-113.
  11. Dhananjay Mahapatra, “Over 12,000 farmer suicides per year, Centre tells Supreme Court”.
  12. K. Marx, ibid, p. 21.
  13. See “Economy of Africa”.
  14. See “EU president Juncker defends Karl Marx’s legacy”. Regarding predictions of a new crisis by EU and IMF officials see  “Juncker’s article on Europe in ‘Ta Nea”, C. Lagarde. “A new crisis is possible”,  and Lagarde. “The Eurozone must be ready for the next crisis”, .
  15. This, let us remark by the way, means that it will be necessary to overcome great difficulties in turning social protest to the left, which implies, among other things, a confrontation with neo-Stalinist, nationalist and other pseudo-socialist currents and the unification of the nowadays scattered revolutionary and oppositionist groups that do not share the above errors. But this requires time so that the ruling classes’ tendency to avoid any progressive reform, partly explained by their usual fear of opening up the appetite of the movement and triggering revolutionary developments, is not right presently.
  16. Κarl Marx. “Revolution in China and in Europe”, New York Daily Tribune, June 14th, 1853.
  17. Α. Arnellos, A Game of Chess, Tipothito Editions, Athens 2002, p. 77.
  18. L. Trotsky, Revolution Betrayed, Allagi Editions, Athens 1988, p. 15.

Inequality Social Dysfunction and Misery

Year on year the economic divisions and sub-divisions in the world deepen, and the associated social ills increase: The rich, comfortable, and the very extremely rich keep getting richer, and the rest, well, whilst some may be raised up out of crippling poverty into relative poverty, the majority of people continue to live under a blanket of economic insecurity and largely remain where they are.

Straddling the global ladder of economic and social division sit the Multi-Billionaires (there are now 2,208 billionaires), 42 of whom (down from 61 in 2016), according to a recent report by Oxfam, own the same amount of wealth as the poorest half of humanity combined. Together with their lesser cohorts this coterie of Trillionaires sucked up “eighty-two percent of the wealth generated [in the world] last year…while the 3.7 billion people who make up the poorest half of the world saw no increase in their wealth.”

The defining challenge of our time

Income and wealth inequality is not simply a monetary issue, it is a complex social crisis that supports and strengthens notions of superiority and inferiority, and was described by President Barak Obama in 2013 as “the defining challenge of our time.”

Today’s obscene levels of inequality are the result of the Neo-Liberal economic system. This extreme form of capitalism took hold first in America and Britain in the early 1980s when Reagan and Thatcher ruled, workers’ rights were trampled on, ‘society’ was a dirty word and community responsibility was abandoned to selfishness and greed. With the aid of the World Bank and the IMF, Neoliberalism swiftly spread throughout the world, polluting life in every city, town and village with its divisive, cruel ideology. Commercialization and competition are key principles and have infiltrated every area of contemporary life; everything and everyone is seen as a commodity, and the size of ones bank account determines the level of health care, education and housing available, as well as one’s access to culture and freedom to travel.

Social injustice is inherent in the system, as is inequality, which is itself a major form of injustice. Inequality strengthens deep-seated social imbalances based on class and social standing, and in a world where everything is classified, commercialized and priced; i.e., attributed value, external wealth and position have become the common criteria for determining the internal worth of a human being. Comparison and imitation follow, individuality is perverted and fear fostered; fear of inadequacy, fear of failure, fear of not being loved, because not ‘deserving’ love, not being able to ‘afford’ love. Resentment, anger and self-loathing are fed, leading to a range of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression and drug and alcohol addiction.

Happiness and inequality

The impact of financial inequality on the health and well being of society has been extensively studied by Richard Wilkinson; British co-author of Spirit Level, Professor Emeritus of Social Epidemiology at the University of Nottingham. In order to establish national levels of inequality Wilkinson and his team used a benchmark based on how much richer the top 20% is to the bottom 20%: Japan and Scandinavia (Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark) came out most equal, and now, Slovenia and the Czech Republic have moved towards this group. Israel, New Zealand, Australia, Britain, Portugal and USA were found to have the greatest levels of inequality, and by some margin. Recent data suggests that Russia, South Africa and Turkey should now be added to the most unequal pile. Germany, Spain and Switzerland sit somewhere in the middle.

Data relating to a range of social issues was examined: The most unequal countries were found to have lower life expectancy than more equal societies, higher infant mortality, many more homicides, larger prison populations (by 10-15 times), applied longer sentences; had higher teenage pregnancies, lower mathematic/literacy levels, more obesity, less social mobility, and, according to The World Value Survey, a great deal less trust. In more equal countries, like Sweden and Norway, around 65% of people trust others, whereas in unequal societies like America a mere 15% admitted to trusting their fellow citizens.

In all areas, countries with high levels of inequality did worse, in many cases much worse, than more equal nations. Mental health, for example, (figures from the World Health Organization): In Japan around 8% of the population suffers from some form of mental health issue, compared to 30% in America. Children are considerably healthier in more equal countries – based on UNICEF’s Index of Child Well-Being – and feel a good deal happier. Wilkinson concludes, “What we’re looking at is general social dysfunction related to inequality. It’s not just one or two things that go wrong, it’s most things.”

Look to Scandinavia

If one of the primary purposes of any socio-economic system is to create environments in which human beings can grow and live happily together, then the nations suffering under the shadow of inequality need to learn from Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland, which are not just the least unequal, they are also the happiest countries in the world. Throughout Scandinavia public services – education (which is probably the best in the world), health care and housing, are valued, and taxes levied in order to fund them properly; there are greater levels of social justice, this allows for trust to develop, and where there is trust relationships flower. The extremes of staggering wealth and stifling poverty don’t exist as they do in the more unequal parts of the world; social mobility is greater and the dream of betterment more realistic, as Richard Wilkinson says, “if Americans want to live the ‘American dream’ they should go and live in Denmark.”

The first duty of government is to protect the people; this involves not only dealing with terrorism and the like, but requires the development of socio-economic policies that contribute to the creation of a healthy harmonious environment. By supporting extreme inequality (which has been shown to fuel a range of social issues) governments in the more unequal countries are totally failing in this fundamental duty. Politicians, who in many cases rely on big business and wealthy benefactors for their funding, are either blind to, or negligent of, the inherent faults of the current system, and the unhealthy, negative way of life it supports.

The case for fundamental change in the economic order, and a shift away from the destructive values it promotes is becoming irrefutable; however, change occurs only gradually and resistance is great. In the meantime, governments (particularly in the most unequal states) need to acknowledge the connection between the dysfunction and disease within society and their socio-economic methodology, which is literally making people ill, as well and poisoning the natural world. They need to invest properly in public services, address wage differences, ban bonuses, introduce progressive tax reform, and, unlike America and France which are taking retrograde steps by designing tax codes which will fuel inequality, look to the Scandinavian countries and learn from their example.

For too long socio-economic systems have been designed and maintained to cater to the desires and interests of a privileged few, while the majority live inhibited lives under the shadow of financial uncertainty. For harmonious societies to evolve this long-standing injustice needs to be addressed and a degree of balance found. This requires that those whose table is full to overflowing share some of their bounty, so that all may have enough, not excess, enough.

As a wise man has said, “The rich must give up what they want, so that the poor can have what they need.” What the rich and comfortable must give up is greed (another car, another house, more designer clothes, etc.), what the rest need is freedom from economic insecurity and the fear of destitution, freedom from exploitation and dependency; secure, comfortable, and well-designed accommodation, and access to good education, health care and culture. Such essential needs are the rights of all; when made manifest they go a long way towards establishing social justice, and where there is social justice, functional, compassionate communities do evolve, conflict is reduced and collective harmony is cultivated.

The Venezuelan “Petro”: Towards a New World Reserve Currency?

Imagine an international currency backed by energy? By a raw material that the entire world needs, not gold – which has hardly any productive use, but whose value is mostly speculative – not hot air like the US dollar. Not fiat money like the US-dollar and the Euro largely made by private banks without any economic substance whatsoever, and which are coercive. But a currency based on the very source for economic output – energy.

On February 20, 2018, Venezuela has launched the “Petro” (PTR), a government-made and controlled cryptocurrency, based on Venezuela’s huge petrol reserves of about 301 billion barrels of petrol. The Petro’s value will fluctuate with the market price of petrol, currently around US $61 per barrel of crude. The Petro was essentially created to avoid and circumvent illegal US sanctions, dollar blockades, confiscations of assets abroad, as well as to escape illegal manipulations from Florida of the Bolivarian Republic’s local currency, the Bolívar, via the black-market dollars flooding Venezuela; and, not least, to trade internationally in a non-US-dollar linked currency. The Petro is a largely government controlled blockchain currency, totally outside the reach of the US Federal Reserve (FED) and Wall Street – and it is based on the value of the world’s key energy, hydrocarbons, of which Venezuela has the globe’s largest proven reserves.

In a first batch Venezuela released 100 million Petros, backed by 5.342 billion barrels of crude from the Ayacucho oil fields of Orinoco; a mere 5% of total proven Venezuelan reserves. Of the 100 million, 82.4% will be offered to the market in two stages, an initial private Pre-Sale of 38.4% of so-called non-minable ‘tokens’, followed by a public offering of 44% of the cryptomoney. The remaining 17.6 million are reserved for the government; i.e., the Venezuelan Authority for Cryptomoney and Related Activities, SUPCACVEN.

When launching the currency, on 20 February 2018, Vice-president Tareck El Aissami declared:

Today, the Petro was born and we will formally launch the initial pre-sale of the Venezuelan Petro. Venezuela has placed herself in the vanguard of the future. Today is a historic day. Venezuela is the first nation to launch a cryptomoney, entirely backed by her reserves and her natural riches.

President Maduro has later affirmed that his country has already entered contracts with important trading partners and the world’s major blockchain currencies.

Can you imagine what this means? It sets a new paradigm for international trade, for safe payment systems that cannot be tampered with by the FED, Wall Street, SWIFT, New York courts, and other Washington puppets, like the European Central Bank (ECB), the unelected European Commission (EC) and other EU-associated Brussels institutions. It will allow economic development outside illegal ‘sanctions’. The Petro is a shining light for new found freedom from a hegemonic dollar oppression.

What is valid for Venezuela can be valid for other countries eager to detach from the tyrannical Anglo-Zion financial system. Imagine, other countries following Venezuela’s example, other energy producers, many if not most of whom would be happy to get out from under the Yankee’s boots of blood dollars inundating the world thanks to uncountable wars and conflicts they finance – and millions of innocent people they help kill.

Rumors have it, that in a last-ditch effort to salvage the faltering dollar, the FED might order the IMF to revert to some kind of a gold standard, blood-stained gold. Of the 2,300 to 3,400 tons of gold mined every year around the globe, it is estimated that about a quarter to a third is illegally begotten, so called ‘blood’ gold, extracted under the most horrendous conditions of violence, murder, opaque mafia-type living (and dying) conditions, child labor, sexual enslavement of women, many of whom way under-age, abject poisoning of humans with heavy metals, mercury, cyanite, arsenic and more, contamination of surface and underground water ways, vast illegal deforestation of tropical rain forests – and more. That’s the legacy of gold, the MSM, of course, doesn’t talk about.

That’s what the west based its monetary system on until 1971, when Nixon decided to replace gold with the fiat dollar which then became de facto the world’s major reserve currency, albeit declining rapidly over the last twenty years. In desperation, Washington might want to apply another gold-based international norm to salvage the faltering dollar. Of course, a norm designed to favor the US, with the rest of the western and developing world destined to absorb the astronomical US debt.

Since the world’s major goldmining corporation and the illegal gold-digging mafia networks work hand-in-hand, smuggled gold works its way intricately into the dominium of shady traders, many of whom also deal with so-called white gold (drug powder), washing gold and drug-money simultaneously, thereby confounding and obscuring the origins of either. Eventually this illegal gold is purchased by major gold mining or refining corporations mixed with ‘legal’ gold, so that the illegal portion is no longer traceable.

Therefore, every ounce of gold that would back our money, the purchases of our livelihoods would be smeared in blood, in children’s abuse and death, in murdered and enslaved women and men, in poisoned water ways and in a contaminated environment. But the world wouldn’t go for it. No more. There are healthier and more transparent physical assets to back up international currencies, i.e. the Petro, backed by energy. Though not free from socio-environmental damage, petrol-energy may gradually convert into alternative sources of energy, like solar, wind and aquatic power or a combination of all of them.

What the world is to aim for is a monetary system based on each nation’s or group of nations or societies economic output. Today it’s the other way around – it’s the fiat money, designed by the Anglo-Zionist masters of finance, that defines economies. Thus, economies in our western world are prone to be manipulated by the rulers and their institutions – FED, IMF, World Bank, World Trade Organization (WTO) – that support the debt/interest-based monetary rules. They are purposefully maneuvered into booms and busts. With every bust, more capital is transferred from the bottom to the top, from the poor to an ever-smaller elite. The energy-based Petro is a first step away from this sham.

Imagine the Petro was to become the new OPEC currency! The world would need Petros, as it used to need US dollars to buy hydrocarbon energy. But Petros are blockchain-safe, less vulnerable for manipulation. They are not coercive, they are not made for blackmailing ‘unwilling’ nations into submission; they are not tools for violence. They are instruments of equitable production and trade. They are also instruments of protection from the fiat money abuses.

Source: TeleSUR

The world’s ten largest hydrocarbon reserve holders have a capital base of 1.4 trillion barrels of crude. Not bad to start a worldwide cryptocurrency, based on energy, controlled by energy and by all those who will use energy – that might become a world reserve currency, at par with the Chinese economy and gold-backed Yuan, but much safer than the fiat currencies of the US-dollar, Euro, British Pound and Japanese Yen.

We are talking about a seismic paradigm shift. Its potential is unfathomable. The move away from the US-dollar hegemony might result in an implosion of the western monetary structure as we know it. It may stop the predator empire of the United States in its tracks, by simply decimating her economy of fraud, built on military might, exploitation and colonization of the world, on racism, and on a bulldozing scruple-less killing machine. The Petro, a secured cryptocurrency based on energy that everybody needs, might become the precursor for an international payment and trading scheme towards a more balanced and equitable approach to worldwide socio-economy development.

Saber-Rattling, Nuclear Threat or an Even More Devastating War?

The World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos has come and gone, and nothing has really changed. The wonderful people of the world struck again – blowing hot air to the four corners of the world. When in reality the poor get poorer, the rich get richer, wars and conflicts are on the rise – and humanity, at least in the western world, is ever more exposed to propaganda lies and mind manipulations, of which then WEF is just one tiny, miserable example.

For instance, was anybody still listening to the bombastic nonsense coming out of Trump’s and Macron’s throat? It is a soft version of “Fire and Fury” — to confirm to the World of the Noble who is in charge, and to assure the elite that nothing, but nothing, will change in the balance of power. That’s the neoliberal Davos Club of always. And they, this elite of beautiful people, would certainly not want a ‘hard core’ nuclear war to destroy their properties and luxury yachts, castles and comfort zone.

So, rest assured, sable-rattling about nuclear Armageddon is just a smoke screen, a deviation maneuver to hide a much worse atrocity. An atrocity, or rather a set of atrocities by which the WEF crowd will most likely never be touched. Trump, for the moment, is the best salesman and mouthpiece the Deep State could muster for their ploy. He is pompous, pretentiously egocentric, and an absurd bully. His America First and Make America Great again, repeated over and over, sounds so silly, but said often enough, it takes hold and becomes the truth in people’s minds.

In Davos Trump’s speech was so simple, it was even catchy: America will always be first; and each one of you, addressing the statesmen in the crowd, he said, should do the same for your country. Then we can work together. This sounds like a complete anti-globalist declaration. The world is now to believe that globalization – which most of the universe has woken up to understand is a disaster – is over, a thing of the past. Another smoke-screen to let the corporate machine push harder to globalize the last corner of Mother Earth – suck the last juice out of the poor, the dispensable “shithole” people.

From 2008 to 2016 Obama was the ideal liar with credibility – so much so that he got the Peace Nobel Prize even before he really started his Presidency. Hectoliters of tears of hope were shed during his inauguration on the Washington Mall. His smooth and charming smile convinced everybody, his eloquent and articulate speeches swayed the world into believing that change was coming, that after the horrible Bush years, the United States wanted only the good for the people of the world. With this false image, Obama managed to leave the Presidency with seven active wars (he inherited two) to his credit – and a record of drone killings – all approved by the Commander-in-chief, Obama, himself – unimaginable. Tens of thousands of innocent people were assassinated or maimed, all extrajudicial killings. That was the Peace Man at the time.

The Donald is, indeed, of a different breed, color and style. Precisely the style needed by his masters for the next at least four years. Maybe eight. We don’t know yet. His controversial preposterous character, crying wolf along with nuclear saber-rattling over and over again, is to diverge the attention of the public at large – within the US, as well as around the globe, so that a much more sinister war can be developed, advanced and rapidly expanded.

The dark elite that pulls the strings, the would-be and wannabe hegemon, has, I honestly believe, no intention in destroying themselves, ‘their’ planet, along with their properties, their fiscal paradises, castles, yachts and casinos, yes, casinos, like the western all dominating central banks. They are the casinos of the rich. They live too well to wanting to see their feudal lives destroyed by a nuclear apocalypse.

They, the new feudals, may think it is all right to use precision nuclear weapons “light” – destined to take out specific targets, but they also know – those who direct the Red Nuclear Button (Trump’s ‘Bigger Button’) – that they don’t know what the reaction from the targeted enemies or their allies might be. Perhaps a total annihilation. Not unlikely. The deep dark elitists may survive. But what is life in bunkers and contaminated air, water and soil, perhaps for decades or centuries? “Fire and Fury” life and in real time are no good. Just screaming and yelling to scare people into submission. That’s always good.

These somber masters of the universe, they are smarter than nuclear war. They have another, a quieter war in mind, a gradual but steady destruction of the useless, expendable humanity, leaving infrastructure and their safe havens in place, increasing their living space of opulence.

It is a war that is already in full swing; not a cold war – a hot war, a medium-to long-term execution of mankind. This strategy will work like an octopus with many tentacles operating simultaneously around the globe. If one tentacle fails, the others will do its job, until the damaged one has recovered. It’s a combat, where hardly anybody targeted can escape.

Think of biological warfare, as one of the tentacles. There exists already more than 100 secret Pentagon – CIA controlled biological weapons labs around the world. Often, their store front is a “scientific research” lab, looking for cures of human and animal diseases or biological means to eradicate agricultural pests. They are coverups. In reality, these labs develop new biological strains, viruses and bacteria, even new generations of vaccines, to be tested on local populations, of course, without their knowledge or consent. Among such research centers is the Richard E. Lugar Centre in Tbilisi, Georgia, known to be a biological weapons lab. See

In addition to developing new bio weapons, the lab is investigating the links between DNA groups and bio weapons, targeting Russia and possibly other geographic and ethnic regions; i.e. the Middle East. Kamens, the author of the above article, quotes Russian Senator Klintsevich as saying, “It is no secret that different ethnic groups react to biological weapons in different ways and that is why the West is meticulously collecting material all across Russia.”  No doubt this or comparable labs around the globe will do similar research on the East Asian populations, with emphasis on China. Latin America. Washington’s backyard will not be spared.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa – 2014 to 2016 – covering Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, was very likely a “man-made” bio-trial. Ebola today can be contained. It registered officially close to 30,000 cases and killed according to official statistics more than 11,000 people. Unofficial figures put the death toll way above 20,000. It also reduced the economic output of these countries. Sierra Leone and Liberia suffered the most from the outbreak. It’s a perfect test for what to do to subjugate this kind of developing country. This is applicable, basically for most of resources rich Africa.

Another tentacle of the monster octopus is genetically modified organisms (GMO). Monsanto is known since the late sixties early seventies to be working with Henry Kissinger, the Mastermind of the Bilderberg Society, whose major objective it is to drastically reduce world population. Almost any bio-disease strain can be implanted into GMO seeds. Nobody will notice and know. In the 1990s Monsanto tested a GMO wheat in India that rendered women infertile. The test was carried out on poor women, the untouchables. The exercise blew open, created a short-lived scandal, but was soon muffled by the media. Imagine, GMOs targeting specific populations with genetic diseases? The poor are the most vulnerable and defenseless not only with infertility, but with any kind of deadly diseases or brain or neurological long-term insufficiencies. Some of these health failures develop only over time, so that nobody can trace them back to GMOs.

Climate warfare is another nefarious tentacle of the would be-wannabe emperor, or his handlers. Climate manipulation technology is already at least 50 years old. Environmental modification techniques – ENMOD – is the Pentagon’s ultimate weapon of mass destruction. It is a sophisticated electromagnetic weapon operated from the outer atmosphere.

The technology was developed in the 1990s by the High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP), based in Alaska, enabling selectively changing weather patterns, causing excessive precipitations, floods, droughts, hurricanes and other excessive weather phenomena, thereby destroying infrastructure, agricultural production, entire economies of a country or a region, without the deployment of bombs, troops and tanks. In 1977 the UN General Assembly banned ‘military or other hostile use of environmental modification techniques having widespread, long-lasting or severe effects.’ In 2014 the HAARP center was officially closed. However, this secretive technology is alive and well – and ready to be applied anywhere Washington wants to coerce a ‘regime change’, including destroying or weakening a population to facilitate access to the country’s natural resources.

An early version of climate modification was used in the late sixties and early seventies in Vietnam. Cloud-seeding, Operation Popeye, allowed prolonging the monsoon season, thereby blocking or rendering the Vietcong’s supply routes on the Ho Chi Minh Trail more difficult. This was accompanied by the Napalm defoliant which was supposed to expose, maim and kill Vietcong insurgents and allied populations.

While no climate change theorists talk about this secretive technology, it is possible, though not proven, that climate modifications are already ongoing in Africa, for example, in strategically situated Somalia and Ethiopia, causing extended droughts and famine, and in Afghanistan with extremely cold and wet winters, thereby weakening and possibly exterminating entire swaths of populations. Possibly, though also not proven, as an undesired result, by an ever equalizing Mother Nature, the West is also experiencing excessive weather patterns – the record cold in the eastern US, the drought-provoked forest fires followed by heavy rain and mudslides in California, as well as stronger and more frequent hurricanes in the Caribbean Gulf area.

Talking about man-made climate modificationrain forests once covered 14% of the earth’s land surface; now they cover a mere 6%. According to The Guardian, every year an area of about 180,000 km2 of rain forest is lost, the equivalent of the size of England and Wales. At this rate, in 40 years 10 million km2, the size of Europe, will have been razed. At current rates, linearly expanded, all of the rain forest may have gone in 100 years. The good news is that linearism does not apply to long-term projections; this horrendous trend of destruction can, thus, still be stopped by awakened people.

The Amazon rain forest encompassed in 1970 still 4.1 million km2 and in 2015 about 3.3 million km2, a reduction of 800,000 km2 in 45 years. The main reason is cattle farming, beef and leather trade, but also bio fuel and logging, to a large extent illegal logging. The impact of rain forest razing in the Amazon is already noticeable in the form of increased drought in Argentina’s Patagonia, damaging agriculture and Argentina’s beef industry. Deforestation as climate weapon? Capitalism, when left free destroys everything, not just the environment, but mankind’s entire social fabric.

Privatization of water is another weapon of the monster. It is quietly and often clandestinely advancing, driven and coerced by the multilateral development banks, the IMF and often governments themselves. Privatization of water is already going on a grand-scale, and I’m not referring in the first place to the abhorrent water bottling by Nestlé and Coca Cola and thousands of others, destroying the environment and often robbing the water, or making it inaccessible, of poor population. Case in point is Nestlé. Nestlé India with its bottled water brand “Pure Life” was eventually forced to quit India, because of multiple social conflicts with local populations, where Nestlé’s massive groundwater pumping lowered the water level so drastically that the local poor had no longer access to their traditional groundwater, but had to buy Nestlé’s expensive bottled “Pure Life” water.

Nestlé ran into similar problems in Africa and even in the US. In Flint, Michigan, where unpolluted drinking water is scarce, Nestlé paid an annual fee of a mere US $200 for pumping one of the few remaining sources for private rather than public water use. In drought-stricken California in 2015 and 2016, Nestlé in 2017, over-extracted water from the San Bernardino National Forest Park with some 40 million gallons and with an expired license of some US $500 per year, while water to farmers was rationed due to the drought. Regulators eventually forced Nestlé to stop pumping. See the multiply rewarded documentary film, Bottled Life.

Nestlé’s ex-CEO, Peter Brabeck, said “Water has to be our chief priority”, to which Maude Barlow, former Senior Advisor on Water to the United Nations replied, “Nestlé is a predator, a water hunter”. Coca Cola, Pepsi and other water bottlers follow the same unethical ways of basically stealing groundwater from the common people, forcing them to buy their expensive bottled water.

But the real predators of water and those that are massively privatizing the last uncontaminated sources of water in, for example, Amazon’s huge aquifers and the Guarani fossil aquifer, arguably the world’s largest freshwater reserve, are the giant water corporations like the French Veolia, and Suez: followed by US ITT Corporation; United Utilities and Severn Trent, Thames Water, UK; American Water Works, US; and an ever growing number of corporations that see the future in privatizing first the source, then the city water supply of mega-cities, where already today the poor and favela inhabitants are deprived of fresh water, because they can no longer afford privately supplied drinking water which increases intestinal diseases and child mortality all over the globe. And worse is to come, as privatization of water is becoming a worldwide powerful weapon.

Numerous huge water giants install themselves through proxy companies or farmers on top of the Guarani aquifer which is almost entirely fossil water (non-renewable), and receive lifelong water licenses. The Guarani aquifer is said to have the capacity to supply the world population for the next 200 years with some 100 liters per capita per day.  The inhabitants of Frankfurt use some 120 l/c/d. Imagine, this huge non-renewable aquifer in the hands of private corporations which could turn on and off the spigot at will – or according to ‘maximizing profit’ principles. A powerful weapon. If remaining unchecked, it is clear who is losing and who is winning.

Today, RT reports that Greek President Tsipras has just launched a sales pitch to the Greek people, that it would be a good idea to privatize Greek water supply. Can you imagine? After all that this criminal despot leader has already done to Greece – now privatizing water.

Studies carried out by the very World Bank, the institution that pushes for water privatization like no one else, except for the IMF, found that in parallel with water privatization in South Africa – intestinal diseases and child mortality increased in townships. After Nelson Mandela was elected President of a free South Africa in 1994, the western international financial vultures, like WB, IMF, FED via Wall Street, descended on Pretoria to persuade him and his government to privatize most everything. “It was good for paying back the accumulated debt of South Africa.” Yes, of course. People had no choice. Poor people in townships could no longer afford drinking water supplied to their modest homes or yards – but had to resort to traditional sources, like polluted ponds and streams.  How will the Greek cope with privatized water?

France, home to the two largest water corporations, Viola and Suez, started in 2010 remunicipalization of water with the city of Paris, followed by all major cities in France. Authorities realized that the cost of water was way too high for the quality of service provided. Similar motives prompted Berlin to go the same way.

Water is life. And life does not just cave in. It will fight for survival. But the enemy, the privatization corporations, like mining companies that irreparably destroy nature and populations social fabric, are backed by entire armies – the US, UK, German and NATO armed forces – to defend the rights of corporations… and the loser is…. Or would be, if the population would not wake up in time to defend their right to water, their Human Right to Water.

Digitization of money and the economy is another tentacle of the evil octopus. Its advancing very fast with cryptocurrencies leading the way. Digitization of money is a means for the government or any oppressing force to control populations by holding on or confiscating their vital resources to sustain live, their income. Block-chain moneys like Bitcoins, ‘specialists’ say, are more secure than any banking system the world has known so far. That myth seems to have been broken. CNBC reported on 29 January that the Japanese cryptocurrency exchange had been hacked and about US$ 535 million equivalent of Bitcoins were stolen. This is the largest Bitcoin heist in Bitcoin’s relative short history of barely nine years. So much for security.

As of January 2018, there are close to 1,400 different cryptocurrencies on the market and rising. Cryptocurrencies are highly volatile and speculative and therefore preferred currencies for crooks and speculators. One of the major hubs for cryptocurrencies and their ‘marketization’ is – you guessed it – Switzerland, the banking center of everything and ‘smart’ banking. Block-chain currencies are so complex and complicated for the common citizen to understand that even an IT expert has a hard time weaving his way through the maze of cryptocurrency technologies. Which is good. Because propaganda will assure that enough people who have no clue of what they are doing are duped into making a quick buck. They have seen how. The price of Bitcoins is listed on a daily basis along with the regular stock market fluctuations. Bitcoins have increased in value from zero in 2009 to more than US $20,000 at their peak in December 2017. In the meantime, Bitcoin’s value has slipped to about US $10,000 (30 January 2018), but could be way different tomorrow.

But digitization is not just about cryptocurrency. It is also a small octopus, advancing on several fronts, of which block-chain currencies are just one tentacle. There is at least one other more potentially harmful menace to the common citizen, like gradually eliminating cash and replacing it by digital currencies.

This is already happening, almost clandestinely – throughout Europe, starting with Scandinavian countries where certain department stores do no longer accept cash. Imagine what it means when you can’t go anymore to your corner ATM to get cash to buy your groceries? You will be enslaved to the gnomes of banking, of digital banking, that is. It is another powerful weapon to subjugate people to do what they are told, lest sanctions in the form of blocked or outright confiscated accounts might be used as the “new sanctions”. These modes of punishment can induce famine, expropriation of properties and savings, poverty, eventually disease and reduction in life expectancy as a result of ever growing destitution –- see Greece, which has been made poor by sticking to a fake and fiat currency, the euro, that is like digital money, stealing the country’s assets through debt.

If we eventually were to live in a digital economy, it means that every value is electronic, the tangibility of hard work and physical output, the production of labor, is worth only what smart ‘digits’ will allow it to be. If the neoliberal system wants to save on labor costs, the value of labor output can be reduced to almost zero. So, every social value, social statistic, becomes a potential farce, is manipulatable which today is already the case with the figures of unemployment, inflation and ‘growth’, economic growth. For example, in our linear western world destruction is growth. It requires production of weapons (growth) and eventually reconstruction, growth again. And everything in between, like the industry around war injuries and war deaths, is growth. All with a profit motive and an overarching motive of subjugating populations to the hegemon of Washington.

This leads to yet another tentacle – Propaganda – all-embracing propaganda, controlled by six Zion-Anglo media giants that control some 90% of the news the west receives 24/7. The news sells you all evil about Russia, Syria, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, China, and whoever else does not want to submit to the empires rules. Propaganda in the west is nothing less than propaganda of deceit. It sells you the idea that war is good for peace – hence a never-ending war against terror. Propaganda invents terror and terrorists by making you believe that all those who disagree with a despotic system are terrorists and have to be fought. Propaganda sells you false flags as reality.

Propaganda western style is one of the worst, most deadly weapons to hegemonize the world, as it makes the common citizen root for war, root against North Korea, a country whose only objective is to defend itself, not to threaten the world, as western propaganda has you believe. Propaganda is also omission of facts, important facts, namely, that the western powers, the US and its European puppets, the EU and NATO are the most dangerous rogue nations and organizations populating Mother Earth these days, and have been for at least the last 200 years. But despite the endless killing by these monsters, constituting the head of the evil octopus with its multiple tentacles, people do not realize who is their enemy thanks to western deceit-propaganda.

Take the Olympics. After banning Russian athletes from participating in the Rio Games following the infamous McLaren Report on doping which has often been criticized of being manufactured, the same McLaren Report is behind prohibiting Russia from participating in South Korea’s winter games in Pyeongchang this month. This is sheer politics, Russia-denigrating propaganda. And now banning even the majority of the some 600 “clean Russian athletes” from participating under the most ludicrous arguments, is not only unjustly hurting individual athletes, who have never had anything to do with doping, it’s a repeat Russia bashing.

The President of the World Anti-Doping agency (WADA) said in a recent interview with RT, there was, in fact, not enough evidence to prove a state sponsored doping system in Russia. Nevertheless, he obviously went along – had to go along – with the Russia banning decision. We never know what would be at stake for these officials, if they were to follow their common-sense judgment and internal moral standards. The IOC (International Olympics Committee) is totally corrupt and bought by Washington. This is, by the way true for all International courts and UN organizations. They have all become a travesty.

Nothing prevents Russia from calling and organizing her own Olympic games, the Russian Olympics. It would be interesting to see how many western countries would dare to participate. I bet, many would wake up, because they would love to bond with Russia, if for nothing else but business, but are afraid to do so with Washington bully’s sword swinging above their necks. Sports is always a good reason for mending disagreements, which are actually only imposed ‘disagreements’. How long will fear prevail over reason? The light at the end of the tunnel is in sight.

Albeit, it is a shame and surprising that the world just looks on. People cannot be that dumb not to recognize that this is all a propaganda to portray Russia around the world as evil. This sort of propaganda, adding to the military threat that Russia is said to present to the world, when the real danger comes from the US and its NATO allies, is deadly propaganda, provoking war. President Putin plays it “Tao” – he is relatively quiet, non-aggressive – the non-aggressor will always win in the long run.

The final blow, however, the ultimate tentacle, is conventional warfare, sowing conflicts and proxy wars – what we know too well – what has dominated the last two decades. When none of the other tentacles do their illegal job radically enough, then comes the traditional killing machine, enhanced Regime Change through Color Revolutions, through false flag assassinations, NATO or mercenary invasions, planted “civil wars”; i.e., Ukraine, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan – and now even Iraq. Take the case of Falluja, where massive weapons of depleted uranium were purposefully used by the US army, leaving the city and surroundings scarred for decades, for generations to come.

It is mass murder perpetrated by Washington and its dark invisible string-pulling handlers. These killings have genocide proportions. Yet, genocide is almost never mentioned when the most atrocious killings are carried out by the United States. I wonder why?

If we do not wake up, we will not escape. If few do, we may. It’s five to high-noon. It would be hell, not nuclear hell, but ‘octopus hell’, as we will be surrounded by different killing techniques or tentacles of the monster – and don’t know where to go and cry for help. Certainly not to our western leaders, not to those, which we believe we elected to do the best for Us, the People. No, these leaders are all corrupted, bought, they all have their little space reserved in paradise, for doing what they are doing helping the minuscule elite to dominate all — literally to reach Full Spector Dominance. That’s what the PNAC (Plan for a New American Century) openly declares as the hegemon’s ultimate goal. At the end of the day, they – our lovely puppet leaders – may get a cold shower, when they have done their job as they were told and find out that they too are dispensable like trash; like Us, The Common People. No scruples by the self-styled dark handlers of the western race. You only live once.

Greece: Convenient Victim or Complacent Masochist?

Why this title? Because Greece doesn’t have to continue playing the card of the victim, nor being masochist. Greece seems to suffer under the Stockholm Syndrome — she is in love with her hangman. Greece could change this. Exit the prison, exit the EU and exit the euro. Greece could return to her sovereign national currency, her own sovereign central bank, make her own monetary policy and implement it with a sovereign public banking system that works solely for the Greek economy. Within less than 10 years Greece would have recovered and would even be able to pay back some of her illegally begotten debt.

Although, here must be added, according to international law, most of Greece’s debt was imposed by the troika under illegal circumstances. It’s also called “odious debt”, the description of which reads:

In international law, odious debt, also known as illegitimate debt, is a legal doctrine that holds that the national debt incurred by a regime for purposes that do not serve the best interest of the nation, should not be enforceable. Such debts are, thus, considered by this doctrine to be personal debts of the regime that incurred them and not debts of the state.

This doctrine is complemented by a similar one inscribed in the charter of the IMF that says that the IMF shall not make any loans to a country in distress, that will unlikely be able to reimburse the debt and pay the debt service.

Both of it is true. The debt was imposed by the troika and accepted by the Tsipras Government against the will of the people who, in a referendum on 5 July 2015, voted with an overwhelming 61% NO to the bail-out package, of which not one euro has benefitted the Greek people, but covered merely Greece’s debt service; i.e., interest and related fees; and, second, the Greek debt was and is by IMF standards – admitted in private by Mme. Lagarde – beyond Greece’s repayment capacity, yet the IMF, along with other members of the troika, kept pumping more illegal debt into Greece.

There is not a day that goes by without Greece making the headlines as being abused by the troika — IMF, European Central Bank (ECB), and the unelected European Commission (EC) — and by the Germans. Here are three of the latest examples, but there are many more – “Destroying Greek, Plundering Greece. The Latest Update” (by Leonidas Vatikiotis); “Austerity: Public Hospital Halts Chemotherapy, turns away Cancer Patients, because ‘Budget Exceeded’”; and “Greece Crisis: Cancer Patients Suffer as Health System Fails” (Giorgos Christides).

Already years ago, The British Lancet reported an increase in Greek suicide rates and child mortality. The misery is indeed real and mounting every day. The western imposed atrocities also abound on a daily basis. Salary cuts and at least five pensions reductions since 2010, an almost completely dismantled social safety net. Those who depend on it are generally poor. More than 4 million people out of a population of 11 million live at or under the poverty line; 15% live in absolute and abject poverty. About 28% of children live in absolute poverty, meaning malnutrition and diseases, stunting growth and brain development. At least a generation of Greeks may be in part intellectually challenged, possibly implying health hazards and restricting economic development over the next 20-some years. Unemployment is hovering around 25% – 30%, with close to 50% for youth (18-35 years). The outlook is grim and promises to become even grimmer.

Public hospitals and schools are either privatized or closed because of lack of budget. Medication is scarce, as part of import restrictions imposed by Greece’s lovely European neighbors and allies or overseas masters. Specialized and expensive medication, for example, cancer medicine, are especially scarce. People die from flu, from colds, from pneumonia, even intestinal diseases that could normally be healed as a matter of routine, but there are not enough antibiotics available. Austerity, budget cuts. Thanks to the brothers from Europe and again their masters form overseas.

Greece has absolutely no control over her budget anymore. The government had to sign this responsibility over to Brussels — for what?  Another ‘rescue package’. What else? In September 2016, the Greek Parliament had to approve hurriedly, in less than a week’s time, a 2000-page text of legislation, drafted by Brussels in English, unreadable in this short time for most of the Greek Parliamentarians, with which the Greek Parliament signed away not only all of the publicly owned enterprises and infrastructure to the “European Stability Mechanism” (ESM) for 99 years, during which period all of it may be offered to fire sale prices for privatization, or outright demolition; but, as if this was not enough, the Parliament also signed away its sovereign authority over the Greek budget to Brussels.

Can you imagine? This in the 21st Century. It has not happened since in 1933 the Bundestag, the German Parliament, signed over all decision-making power to the “Führer”, Mr. Adolf Hitler. This is outright EU-imposed fascism. The world watches silently – and in full complicity – the literal dismantling of a sovereign country, with the esclavisation and impoverishment of the population that goes with it.

This, though, is not news. It’s rather well-known. It has been written about umpteen times, by umpteen journalists and writers, to greater or lesser extent criticizing the troika, the Greek government, the EC/IMF/BCE imposed austerity, as all three know very well that austerity does not work nowhere. Never did.

So, why repeat it here, in yet another article? Because it must be said again and again, and repeated ever so often, until the Greek governing body listens. Greece could stop this bloodletting and misery for the majority of her people almost instantly by quitting the euro, and by quitting the European Union. She would not be left alone. Acts of Solidarity would come from Asia, Latin America and even Africa. Such offers were already made in 2014 and 2015. But they were not heeded, since the Greek elite wants to be part of the EU elite, rubbing elbows, being part of this nefarious club. Many pictures, too many, have been circulating of Mr. Tsipras and his buddies laughing and cajoling with the Lagarde’s and the Junker’s of this world.

Greece could have exited the EU and Eurozone from day one – with the first rescue package in 2010. But she didn’t, for whatever reason. Maybe personal threats to the Tsipras family and Government and/or the “left-wing” Syriza party? We don’t know, but all is possible in a western civilization where opponents of the Master hegemon in Washington and his dark handlers, are simply assassinated. John Perkins, explains clearly how this works in his bestseller Confessions of an Economic Hitman.

But what about integrity of the leaders, of the party, their obligation to the Greek people? Integrity and support foremost to the average Greek, not the Greek elite which way before the troika-Germany onslaught, transferred billions of their euro holdings to Switzerland and other western safe havens. The Tsipras Government’s duty to the vast majority of Greeks, who have to survive from their daily work and miserable pensions, has been betrayed. For these people integrity would have called for quitting the Eurozone and the EU.

Why hold on to a European Union that only despises Greece by its non-action, by watching passively over the destruction of their brother? There are no trustworthy allies in the EU. They are all beholden to Brussels and to Washington. There are only greedy enemies. Greece has been singled out as an example for worse to come. Other mostly southern EU countries that were given the insulting name, PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain), would be treated equally; i.e., sucked into oblivion if they would dare to resist the systematic milking by the western financial system.

This EU euro system cannot be reformed. And since abolishment or the simple collapse which is clearly written on the wall, is being extended at all cost, including the blood and lives of the Greek population, there is only ONE WAY for Greece to safe itself – LEAVE THE EURO, LEAVE THE EU.

Greece’s debt today (January 2018) is € 320.2 billion, or 190.4% of GDP (€ 168.2 billion) – and steadily mounting – with an annual interest of € 17.6 billion, increasing at the rate of € 557 per second (€ 48.1 million per day).1 So, there is no relief in sight, no matter what western pundits and the IMF are saying. All lies, as is usual in the western world. Greece will never get out of her mountain of debt, while being a member of the euro-zone and the EU.

Greece, wake up! You have the opportunity to walk out of the EU and save the lives of more than half of your population, who are at risk of famine and deadly diseases. Mr. Tsipras and Co., no matter what lengthy theories and economic projections the elite economists who want to save their billions of euros hidden in safe havens will present to you, it is your duty, your civil obligation as an elected official, elected by the people, to honor the people’s lively interests and to exit this horrendous repressive and abusive club, called European Union.

Greece, you must regain your sovereignty.

Leaving the EU and the euro does not mean you are leaving Europe. Greece, as every pupil knows, is geographically anchored in Europe. Greece is one of the most dramatically beautiful southern European countries and will continue to be visited by millions of tourists from around the world, and naturally from Europe. Other nations will want to trade and deal with Greece and her charming, friendly and smiling people. Friendliness and beauty is one of the key trademarks of Greece. Greece will gain even more respect for standing up for herself.

It’s late but never too late. Take back your local autonomous currency, take control of your economy through local public banking with low or no interests to stimulate yours – the Greek economy – not the German, not the European economy, but the Greek national economy. Within less than 10 years Greece would have recovered from the current depression. Others have done it, like Argentina, or even Germany, especially after WWII. You will not be left alone. Support, if needed, will be there, particularly from the East, from where the future is. Think of China’s One Belt Initiative (OBI) which already is linked up with Greece through the Greek port of Piraeus. OBI is a multi-trillion-euro economic development program that will encompass China, Russia, Eurasia, eventually all the way to the western rim of Europe, securing jobs, scientific and cultural development, transcontinental land-and sea transport, trading and more over the next few hundred years. The west is gone — passé. Its greed and war-driven economy is slowly but surely committing suicide.

If Greece is not seizing this last-ditch opportunity to exit the euro and to exit the EU, to literally save her people’s skin, one might legitimately ask, has Greece become a convenient victim, subservient to its own elite and the Brussels-Washington masters, or is she simply masochistically enjoying her misery, borne, incidentally, by 80% of her population?

  1. See the Greek Debt Clock.

Iran at Dangerous Crossroads

On 21 September 2017, the Supreme Leader of the Iranian Islamic Revolution, spoke to the head and the members of the Assembly of Experts with kind of a State of the Nation Speech.

He addressed many issues from internal affairs, competing factions within the Islamic Revolution, to external relations – and the economy. He also referred to The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly called the Iran Nuclear Deal, the international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, reached in Vienna, Austria, on 14 July 2015. The accord is barely two and half years old and already breached by one of the five main-sponsors, the United States of America. The agreement also refers to the P5+1, meaning the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) – China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States – plus Germany and, of course, Iran. The European Union was also part of the agreement in an observer function.

With regard to the JCPOA, the Ayatollah said:

The problem that I had and continue to have with the nuclear negotiations – I have discussed this matter in private and in public with officials – is this: what I am saying is that it was alright to negotiate, there was nothing wrong with negotiating, but those negotiations should have been conducted with care and precision so much so that every short move by us will not be considered as the violation of the Bar-Jaam [the JCPOA], while this is not the case for every wrong move that the other side makes! This is wrong! This should not happen. This happens due to lack of trust in and attention to domestic power. This state of affairs happens due to reliance on the other side and on foreign elements.

I will tell you that we should not pin our hopes on foreigners. We should work with the world and I am not opposed to this. Working with the world naturally has certain requirements. We accept these requirements and we shoulder them; however, we are not relying on foreigners. This is because our enemies are too many outside the environment of society and the country. There is a front of enemies against us. Well, thankfully, we have delivered blows to this front until today. We have defeated it and pushed it back and this will be the case from now on too, but we should know that we are not faced with a single enemy, rather we are faced with a front of enemies.

The Supreme Leader clearly refers to the non-trustworthiness of the US of A and her vassal allies; i.e., the European Union and her member countries, foremost, Germany, France and the UK. And he is, of course, right. Western ‘partners’ are almost unilaterally not reliable. Washington, especially Trump and his generals, directed by their Deep State handlers, the most prominent of whom is Netanyahu, the Zionist-in-chief and close buddy of the Donald, actually so close that he and his cronies decide on US foreign policy; i.e., that Iran is a terror state and has to be ‘neutralized’. This means the nuclear deal negotiated under Obama should be declared nil. Trump has been doing this ever since he ascended to the throne, and even before, during his campaign.

Without the Zionists’ money (i.e. Wall Street), it may have been difficult for Trump’s dark handlers to catapult him into the Oval Office. In his Tweet-manners, Trump issues threats after absurd threats to Iran, all baseless and outright lies. Wake up, world, for those who still read and believe in Trump’s unfounded accusations, be it on Iran, North Korea, Syria or Venezuela – and, in fact, many more – tweet back, asking warrior Donald to stop his aggressions and seek peace instead. If We, the People, the 99.9%, send him this massive message, he may reconsider sending his “fury and fire” message around the globe, boasting of having his finger on the red nuclear trigger bottom. In reality, he doesn’t want to see himself and his multi-billion fortunes going up in flames. Yet, calling these threats ‘kindergarten speek’ would be dangerous, because this madman, much-much madder than the “Rocketman”, is totally unpredictable. Just listen to his speech at the UN’s General Assembly of last September and to the senseless utterings of his incompetent UN-delegate, Nikki Haley. Iran knows it. Hence, the Ayatollah’s call for caution, not just for Iran, but for the rest of the world, should be taken seriously.

Another important point the Ayatollah makes in his address to the Assembly of Experts is on Iran’s economy.

The issue of paying attention to reliance on domestic hands for the sake of solving the problems of the country should turn into a well-established idea in the people’s minds. This should be repeated, explained and clarified so many times until it turns into a definite discourse.

We have motivated youth and skilled individuals. We have good producers, good entrepreneurs, good laborers, good farmers, good teachers and good professors. Tasks should be improved by such individuals. It is these individuals who should eliminate the problems of the country. It is also they who should solve economic problems and various other problems related to business.

I am not saying that you should break off your relations with the world. This is not my opinion in any way. From the beginning of the Revolution, I have been among those individuals who insist on establishing relations – relations with the world. In the present time too, I have the same belief, but the point that I want to raise is this: we should not exchange our own powerful natural legs for a foreigners’ cane. If we rest on a foreigner’s cane instead of standing on our own feet and relying on ourselves, this is wrong.

This is a clear reference to an “Economy of Resistance” which Iran has embarked on during the past couple of years, including the principles of import substitution, local investments with local money, local research and development, trading with friends and neighbors, and – especially decoupling from the western dollar-economy which will also be a protection from US imposed sanctions.

These unfounded and totally illegal economic punishments by any standards of international law, should have been lifted after the nuclear accord. This was part of the deal. But they were not lifted. To the contrary, Washington under Trump and under Netanyahu’s direction, enforced them for no other reason than an absolutely groundless allegation, “Iran is funding terrorism throughout the world.”

For once, the EU and especially the EU leaders, Germany, France and the UK, did not heed Trump’s call for continued sanctions on Iran. Instead, especially France and Germany signed bilateral trade and technology exchange agreements with Iran in the billions of euros. But make no mistake, they wouldn’t have signed them, if they weren’t on the winning side of the deals. That’s predatory capitalism at its worst. That’s what the west knows best. The only good thing for Iran about these agreements is that they cement the nuclear deal. Money – billions of dollars – is stronger for the neoliberal capitalists than Trump’s toothless threats.

However, these deals with the west bear the danger and risks associated with further exposure to the western monetary system, further vulnerability to western threats and sanctions, as all international transactions in western currencies have to transit the US banking system – and can be stopped by a US judge, practically at will. Argentina is a case in point when, in 2014, US District judge, Thomas Griesa in Manhattan, stopped an Argentinian payment to creditors of US$ 500 million, blackmailing Buenos Aires into paying an illegal debt of US$ 1.6 billion to Paul Singer’s predatory Elliott hedge fund.  Iran beware of such risks!

Sanctions of the past, nonetheless have left a dent in Iran’s economy. They contributed to inflation and to shortages of mostly foreign goods – which in turn, combined with unemployment, may have been the main reason for last week’s non-violent protests that started on 28 December in Iran’s second largest city Mashhad. They then spread across the country and, inspired by outside forces, became violent, claiming the lives of at least 21 people. They are the most violent protests since those following the 2009 elections, disputing the victory of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. They were then said to be officially inspired by opposition candidates Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, but, in fact, they were largely influenced and promoted by Washington’s secret services.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on 1 January, according to Reuters, blamed Iran’s foes for fomenting the unrest. Though he didn’t specify who they were, the secretary of Iran’s National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, said the United States, Britain and Saudi Arabia were behind the riots. He could have added Israel. There is no doubt he is right on the dot. The insurrections appear like well-orchestrated western Color Revolutions, or Arab Spring type upheavals, aiming at Regime Change – what else? Similar cases abound throughout the Middle East and the rest of the world.

It is true that neoliberal factions in Iran – the fifth column – is an instrument of the west, a driving force to keep Iran within the orbit of western influence and especially the western monetary system. Iran’s leadership better be aware – this can be fatal. It will likely bring more economic strangulations as similar dependences have brought to other nations that wanted to preserve their sovereignty instead of bending to the empire. People living under economic hardship can easily be manipulated and mobilized to raise against their government.

Iran has to walk a fine line. The Resistance Economy may require some initial sacrifices and may take time to take hold. But eventually it will. Russia has applied it fully, after the ‘western sanctions’. President Putin has repeatedly said that these sanctions were the best thing that could have happened to Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union, because they have prompted Russia to revive its agricultural sector, as well as industry and scientific research. He even said so to the Ayatollah during his last November visit to Iran, suggesting that de-dollarization of Iran’s economy might be a good thing.

Indeed, after Russia went through a couple of economically hard years, she is now on an ascending curve. This is witnessed by two years in a row as the world’s largest grain exporter – a renewed, modernized industrial park, largely replacing what Ukraine produced for Russia in the past, increased trade with the Central Asian former Soviet Republics – and especially, an economy almost completely decoupled from the dollar, working with China and the rest of the SCO on an own currency and trade exchange system; i.e., the petro-yuan, convertible in gold.

Iran could do the same, without bending over to France and Germany (and others in the corrupt EU) for billion dollar/euro trade and technology deals. France is not trustworthy, neither is Germany, they are just out there to take advantage – see Germany’s strangulation of Greece. They are vassals in Washington’s pockets. Their ‘leaders’ were put in place by Washington’s propaganda, Wall Street money and election manipulations.

My humble advice, if I may, to the Government of Iran for 2018 and beyond:

Continue pursuing the path of “Resistance Economy”, concentrating on “local production for local markets, with local currency and through local state-owned or public banking for the benefit of the national economy”. This is one of the principles of “Economy of Resistance”. It includes ‘import substitution’ at a large scale, including using Iran’s own science; i.e., ‘research and development’ (R&D) capacity.

Refrain to the extent possible from seeking trading/business/banking relations with the west – and stay away from the IMF and the World Bank.

Instead focus on the east, on the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and on some of the BRICS countries for external business and trade, and on the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) for development assistance. The future is definitely in the East, and as a member of the SCO, Iran is already part of the East – China’s One Belt Initiative (OBI) includes Iran – it is a multi-trillion-dollar (equivalent) program that will dominate economics in the coming centuries.

Use your own money, not western currencies, especially not the US dollar or its off-spring, the euro. Follow the de-dollarization example of Russia and China, if need be, develop a national cryptocurrency, controlled by the government for external trade, to circumvent western sanctions – see Venezuela.

Finally, be always aware that Washington, masterminded by “the Deep Zion-State” – will never let go. This doctrine is engraved in the PNAC (Plan for a New American Century), largely conceived by Washington’s Zionist think-tanks. Once they decided on a target, like the Ayatollah so eloquently says; i.e., Iran, Syria, Lebanon,  and in Asia, North Korea and China, they will not let go. No matter whether there is a peace agreement, or whether they have made a promise, nothing, but nothing that Washington says, signs and promises can be trusted. The war in Syrian, for example, is not ”over’’ as Mr. Putin has made believe, when he said Russia will pull out their troops. Just look at the US military base at Al-Tanf in Syria – a US base established fully illegally in Syria. The US was never invited to set foot in Syria. Yet, they not only are enhancing their base, they are also training new Daesh/ISIS terror groups to fight Damascus.

Iran will prevail. Iran is not alone. Iran has a mighty eastern alliance, including Russia and China. Trump and his handlers know it.

Canada’s Mining Industry, Foreign Policy and Neoliberalism in Africa

While few Canadians could find Zambia on a map, the Great White North has significant influence over the southern African nation.

A big beneficiary of internationally sponsored neoliberal reforms, a Vancouver firm is the largest foreign investor in the landlocked country of 16 million.

First Quantum Minerals (FQM) has been embroiled in various ecological, labour and tax controversies in the copper rich nation over the past decade. At the end of last year First Quantum was sued for US$1.4 billion by Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Investment Holdings (ZCCM-IH), a state entity with minority stakes in most of the country’s mining firms. The statement of claim against First Quantum listed improper borrowing and a massive tax liability.

In a politically charged move, President Edgar Lungu recently ordered ZCCM-IH to drop the case and seek an “amicable” out of court settlement with FQM. Social movements criticized the government for (again) caving to powerful mining interests exploiting the country’s natural resources. According to War on Want, Zambia is losing $3 billion a year to tax dodges by multinationals, mainly in the lucrative mining sector. A recent Africa Confidential report on the row between First Quantum and ZCCM-IH highlighted the Vancouver firm’s political influence, pointing out that “top government officials are frequently feted and hosted by FQM.”

First Quantum’s presence in Zambia dates to the late 1990s privatization of the Zambian Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM), which once produced 700,000 tonnes of copper per year. In a report on the sale, John Lungu and Alastair Fraser explain that “the division of ZCCM into several smaller companies and their sale to private investors between 1997 and 2000 marked the completion of one of the most comprehensive and rapid privatisation processes seen anywhere in the world.”

The highly indebted country was under immense pressure to sell its copper and public mining company. Zambia’s former Finance Minister Edith Nawakwi said, “we were told by advisers, who included the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank that…for the next 20 years, Zambian copper would not make a profit. [But, if we privatised] we would be able to access debt relief, and this was a huge carrot in front of us — like waving medicine in front of a dying woman. We had no option” but to privatize.

Ottawa played a part in the privatization push. Canada was part of the World-Bank-led Consultative Group of donors that promoted the copper selloff. With the sale moving too slowly for the donors, a May 1998 Consultative Group meeting in Paris made $530 US million in balance of payments support dependent on privatizing the rest of ZCCM.

(Canada had been a proponent of neoliberal reform in Zambia since the late 1980s. At the time Ottawa slowed aid to the country in a successful bid to change the government’s attitude to neoliberal reforms, explains Carolyn Bassett in The Use of Canadian Aid to Support Structural Adjustment in Africa. After Zambia fell into line with the International Monetary Fund, CIDA recharged its aid program. As part of a push for economic reform Ottawa secured an agreement that gave a former vice president of the Bank of Canada the role of governor of the Bank of Zambia, where he oversaw the country’s monetary policies and “responses to the IMF”. In her 1991 Ph.D thesis Bassett notes, “instrumental in developing Zambia’s new ‘domestically designed’ [economic] program was the new head of the Bank of Zambia, Canadian Jacques Boussières.” Paid by Ottawa, Boussières was the first foreign governor of the Bank of Zambia since independence. This was not well received by some. Africa Events described Boussières as “a White Canadian who came to de- Zambianise the bank post under controversial circumstances.”)

The hasty sale of the public mining behemoth was highly unfavourable to Zambians. The price of copper was at a historic low and the individual leading the negotiations, Francis Kaunda, was later jailed for defrauding the public company. “ZCCM’s privatization was carried out with a complete lack of transparency, no debate in parliament, and with one-sided contracts which few of us have ever seen,” said James Lungu, a professor at Zambia’s Copperbelt University.

Taking advantage of the government’s weak bargaining position, First Quantum and other foreign companies picked up the valuable assets for rock bottom prices and left the government with ZCCM’s liabilities, including pensions. The foreign mining companies also negotiated ultra low royalty rates and the right to take the government to international arbitration if tax exemptions were withdrawn for 15 years or more. Many of the multinationals made their money back in a year or two and when the price of copper rose five fold in the mid-2000s they made bundles.

Having conceded tax exemptions and ultra low royalty rates, the government captured little from the surge in global copper prices. In 2006 Zambian royalties from copper represented about $24 million on $4 billion worth of copper extracted. The .6% royalty rate was thought to be the lowest in the world. The government take from taxing the mining companies wasn’t a whole lot better. Between 2000 and 2007 Zambia exported $12.24 billion US in copper but the government only collected $246 million in tax.

Since 2008 Zambia has wrestled more from the companies, but they’ve had to overcome stiff corporate resistance. When the government suggested an increased royalty in 2005 First Quantum’s commercial manager Andrew Hickman complained that it “would probably make any new mining ventures in Zambia uneconomical” while three years later First Quantum said it would have “no choice” but to take legal action if a new tax regime breached the agreement it signed during the privatization process.

With billions of dollars tied up in the country, First Quantum had good reason to campaign aggressively to maintain the country’s generous mining policy.

First Quantum stands accused of cheating Zambia out of tens of millions of dollars in taxes. An audit found that between 2006 and 2008 Mopani Copper Mines under-reported cobalt extracts and manipulated internal prices to shift profits to First Quantum and Glencore subsidiaries in the British Virgin Islands and Bermuda, allowing it to evade millions of dollars of tax in Zambia.

In Offshore Finance and Global Governance: Disciplining the Tax Nomad William Vlcek explains:

As a corporate entity, First Quantum does not directly manage the mining operations in Zambia, rather it owns a subsidiary in Ireland which in turn owns subsidiary corporations registered in The British Virgin Islands and Zambia. … The overall corporate organization involves similar subordinate corporate structures with subsidiaries registered in Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Ireland, Luxembourg, and Netherlands, none of which jurisdictions include a mine or smelter operated by First Quantum. … Jurisdictions such as the British Virgin Islands … do not impose a corporate income tax on foreign-sourced income. Thus, First Quantum’s subsidiaries will pay corporate income tax on their operations in Zambia to the Zambian government, but any income that flows through to the BVI-registered subsidiary will not be taxed before flowing onward.

In a bid to cut down on corporate ‘transfer pricing’ and tax evasion, the Zambian government sought to simplify the mining fee structure. In 2013 Lusaka proposed eliminating income tax on mining companies and substantially increasing royalty rates (up to 20% for open-pit mines and 8% on underground operations). In 2015 Minister of Finance Alexander B. Chikwanda told Parliament:

The tax system was vulnerable to all forms of tax planning schemes such as transfer pricing, hedging and trading through ‘shell’ companies which are not directly linked to the core business. Sir, it has been a challenge for the revenue administration to detect and abate such practices. Further, provisions on capital allowances and carry forward of losses eliminated potential taxable profits. Mr Speaker, the tax structure was simply illusory as only two mining companies were paying Company Income Tax under the previous tax regime as most of them claimed that they were not in tax-paying positions.

First Quantum, Toronto’s Barrick Gold and a number of other foreign mining companies screamed murder and worked to derail the Zambian government. First Quantum government affairs manager John Gladston said “the new system doesn’t incentivise investment in new capital projects which in turn, will inevitably be translated into fewer new jobs and less opportunities for wealth creation for Zambians.” To spur a backlash in the job-hungry country, First Quantum laid off 350 workers at its Kansanshi mine. The government responded by saying First Quantum wasn’t adhering to the country’s labour law. Government spokesperson Chishimba Kambwili told Xinhua that “all mining companies are aware of the standing order, which obliges them to consult the government through the Ministry of Labour before any decision to sack any worker becomes effective.”

Barrick Gold also threatened to lay off workers if the government increased royalty rates. The Toronto company said it would shutter its Lumwana Mine, which prompted 2,000 workers, fearing for their jobs, to hold a one-day strike. The foreign-run Chamber of Mines of Zambia claimed 12,000 jobs would be lost if the royalty changes went through and the IMF added its voice to those opposing the royalty hike.

The mining corporations’ strong-armed tactics succeeded. After a six-month standoff, the government backed off.

First Quantum, Barrick and the other foreign mining companies exploited the immense power ZCCM’s privatization gave them over Zambian economic life. By shuttering their mines they could produce economic hardship for thousands of people. (With an 80% unemployment rate and most Zambians living on less than a dollar a day, each formally employed individual provides for many others.) Some suggested the foreign mining companies were even “powerful enough to manipulate the exchange rate” of the country.

Canadian officials actively backed FQM and other mining companies in Zambia. At the 2013 Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada Convention Ottawa announced the start of negotiations on a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement with Zambia, which would allow Canadian companies to pursue Zambia in international tribunal for lost profits. The next year the Head of Office at the Canadian High Commission, Sharad Kumar Gupta, “said the Canadian government is trying to encourage the private sector to explore… opportunities in Zambia’s mining sector,” reported Lusaka’s news.hot877.com.

After the leftist Patriotic Front opposition party accused First Quantum of blocking workers from voting in a 2005 parliamentary by-election, the Canadian High Commissioner defended the Vancouver company. John Deyell, who previously worked at mining giants Inco and Falconbridge in Sudbury, claimed First Quantum wasn’t responsible for day-to-day operations despite owning a sixth of MCM stock and controlling two seats on MCM’s executive board. In response the Patriotic Front sought to take their protest against MCM’s violation of workers’ rights to the Canadian High Commission, but the police denied them a permit.

In Zambia, as with elsewhere in Africa, Canada’s mining industry, foreign policy and neoliberalism overlap tightly. It’s a subject Canadians ought to pay attention to if we want our country to be a force for good in the world.

From the Neoliberal Revolution to the Supremacy of Financialized Austerity: A Brief History

As an intended outcome of neoliberal doctrine and a natural stage of capitalist development, global financialization constructs a borderless nexus of power in which debt and austerity fuels a cultural, political and economic landscape bound to enduring structures of domination, and creates unprecedented wealth through the accumulation of suffering.

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According to economist Richard Wolff, “Capitalism has always and everywhere oscillated between two phases.” One phase is operationalized by free-market doctrine, often referenced as economic liberalism, classical economics, laissez-faire capitalism, or neoliberalism which refers to a “new” or “revived form” of liberal economics. While some economists will distinguish differences between these terms, generally this free-market phase of capitalism is distinguished by a liberal economy where capitalist industry and markets prevail and experience very little (or no) government oversight. In this phase, the state primarily serves as an agent of capitalist interests.

The other phase of capitalism is often referred to as Keynesian economics, the welfare-state, state-capitalism or social democracy. This phase entails state intervention via substantive taxation, regulations, price controls and state administered social programs. To varying degrees, it is a mixed economy driven by both private and public sectors, yet allows for (or requires) the existence of significant social inequality while guaranteeing that a capitalist ruling class will manage the political system. Moderate examples of this phase include the New Deal in the U.S. and the social democracies in Western Europe between 1945 until 1990. More substantial examples of this phase include countries in which a significant portion of their societies’ productive enterprises are state owned and operated. This phase does not include the political economies of socialism or communism.

As Daniel Stedman Jones and anthropologist David Harvey have documented, the ascendance of neoliberal doctrine began in interwar Europe during the 1940s, but found fertile ground in post-World War II America, which provided an optimal ideological milieu for it to thrive and for its uncompromising political and cultural narrative to be crafted. Embraced and transmitted by a network of influential think tanks, corporations, financial institutions, business associations, politicians and journalists; the economic crisis of the 1970s provided a rich opportunity for its champions to roll out this long simmering plan. Since capitalists are well known for creating and exploiting crisis and suffering to pursue their interests, this well positioned network of free-market ideologues and profiteers expeditiously went to work. The core of their plan involved reversing (or not enforcing) New Deal and Great Society programs and the Nixon administration’s schizophrenic domestic polices; while simultaneously imposing a menu of liberal economic polices tied to a (nationalistic) conservative American values crusade (known as the “Culture Wars.”)

In 1973 the U.S. facilitated the overthrow of the democratically elected socialist president of Chile, Salvador Allende, and the installment of the brutal military dictator Augusto Pinochet. This coup d’etat allowed the U.S. to position Chile as a test laboratory for neoliberal restructuring as prescribed by Nobel Laureate economist and free-market ideologue Milton Friedman, along with his Chicago School of Economics trained “Chicago Boys” who ushered in the so called “Miracle of Chile.” Simultaneously in the U.S., Friedman’s liberal economic prescriptions were gradually being implemented throughout the 1970s by both Republicans and Democrats (here and here), then more aggressively in the Reagan (and Thatcher) era of the 1980s. Thereafter, neoliberal doctrine steadily gained cultural, political and economic momentum during the Clinton era and beyond. Steadily, financial institutions were being unleashed across the globe to fulfill their fundamental purpose: to create and seize upon all investment opportunities possible, not matter how brutal, so as to enrich themselves.

Many cultural scholars, including Stuart Hall, Nancy Fraser and David Harvey, emphasize how the neoliberal revolution was not only about economics, but more broadly with the adjoining culture wars, was a means to destroy mounting resistance to the original and long-standing social order of the United States. The social order to be preserved encompasses the intersecting structures of settler-colonialism, white supremacy, capitalism and heteropatriarchy. The threats to be destroyed included the Civil Rights, Black Power, Native American, Chicano, Feminist and LGBTQ liberation movements; as well as the Anti-War and New Left movements. While some within these struggles had revolutionary aims, including emancipation, sovereignty, economic equality; others pursued reforms involving recognition rights, representation and social equity within existing systems. According to Hall, legal scholar Tayyab Mahmud and political scientist Nancy Fraser, no matter the aims, all of these struggles threatened the foundations of the founders’ and the current rulers’ power and cultural design for America. Fraser goes on to explain:

[In the 1960s], this “Golden Age of Capitalism” was shattered. In an extraordinary international explosion, radical youth took to the streets—at first to oppose the Vietnam War and racial segregation in the U.S. Soon they began to question core features of capitalist modernity that social democracy had heretofore naturalized: materialism, consumerism, and “the achievement ethic”; bureaucracy, corporate culture, and “social control”; sexual repression, sexism, and heteronormativity.

As Stuart Hall explains, while racial inequity and terrorism, gender oppression and economic inequality in the U.S. thrived during the short-lived Keynesian (New Deal) era, it softened the blow of capitalism for some, while materially putting the common good on the radar. Yet as Fraser contended:

[T]he feminists of this era recast the radical imaginary. …Problematizing welfare paternalism and the bourgeois family, they exposed the deep androcentrism of capitalist society. Politicizing ‘the personal,’ they expanded the boundaries of contestation beyond socioeconomic distribution—to include housework, sexuality, and reproduction.

According to James Petras and Henry Veltmeyer, the neoliberal revolution on a global scale was largely a reaction to emancipatory movements of colonized peoples the world over struggling to take control of their countries and resources from imperial and colonial rule, often accompanied with strivings for agrarian reform. Tayyab Mahmud describes how the neoliberal revolution set out to impose a social order “across the globe to reverse the setbacks that the economic power and political hegemony of the wealth-owning classes had suffered on account of Keynesian welfare in the West, socialism in Eastern Europe, and nationalism in the global South.”

Embedded within the ideology of free-market capitalism is the notion that state intervention should be minimized so that capitalists are free to maximize market exchanges to their advantage, which in turn stimulates economic growth that benefits all of society. Fundamentally, ideology in inequitable societies is generated by myths that are constructed for the purpose of social control or hegemony. The myth of the free-market is an example of this rule in that state intervention on behalf of capitalism is a long-standing practice and necessity. According to John Clarke, “[d]espite its compelling qualities (natural, necessary, foundational, universal), [the market economy]…everywhere requires to be supported, nurtured, developed —while being protected from ‘interference’—and these nurturing processes require the care-taking work of states.”

This includes policies protecting and facilitating economic activity (through trade agreements, tariffs and subsidies), providing stable and fertile conditions for market growth—including military and covert intervention—and ensuring that a majority of people adhere to its exploitative and inequitable demands through ideological, political and legal means. As Jeremy Bentham wrote in 1843, “Property and law are born and must die together. Before the laws, there was no property: take away the laws, all property ceases.” Accordingly, legal scholar Cass Sunstein points out how the U.S. Constitution (via negative rights) – all the things the federal government cannot do – bolsters the ideology and rule of law of free-market capitalism. With this understanding, Sunstein goes on to claim:

As we know and live it, private property is both created and protected by law; it requires extensive governmental assistance. The same point holds for the other foundation of a market economy, the close sibling of private property: freedom of contract. For that form of freedom to exist, it is extremely important to have reliable enforcement mechanisms in the form of civil courts.

More importantly, as Karl Polanyi poignantly claimed in 1944, a decade into the Keynesian project, free-market capitalism cannot “exist for any length of time without annihilating the human and natural substance of society; it would have physically destroyed man and transformed his surroundings into a wilderness.” “Ultimately,” according to Polanyi:

The control of the economic system by the market is of overwhelming consequence to the whole organization of society; it means no less than the running of society as an adjunct to the market. Instead of economy being embedded in social relations, social relations are embedded in the economic system.

Scripted by market fundamentalists and advanced through private sector and government partnerships, neoliberalism was constructed to serve as the predominant social imaginary that would propel U.S. hegemony into the 21st century. Spoken of with sacred reverence and disseminated with the discourse that the free-market is the only rational way of organizing social relationships, neoliberalism imposes market logic on citizenship and the public sphere. Consistent with the U.S. founding fathers’ original design, human beings are defined as economic maximizers and governed by individual self-interest, whose value is narrowly equated as being a flexible, self-sufficient worker and uncritical consumer. “This consumer citizen is glorified, construed as willing, resourced and capable of making empowered market-led choices” whereby the very idea of democracy is “a function of consumer choices, and the individual is solely responsible for her or his own well-being, success or failure” (Scott). As Hall, Massey, and Rustin summarized it, neoliberalism “is a reassertion of capital’s historic imperative to profit through financialisation, globalisation and yet further commodification… [and] includes class and other social interests, new institutional arrangements, [and] the exercise of excessive influence by private corporations over democratic processes.”

Beginning in the mid-20th century, Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) became the primary neoliberal instrument, whereby a nation’s illegitimate national debt facilitated financial colonization via the lending institutions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. According to the IMF, “the Bank and the IMF are twin intergovernmental pillars supporting the structure of the world’s economic and financial order.” SAPs are very specific free-market policies that debt-ridden “developing countries” (countries ravaged by franchise and settler colonization throughout the “global south”) must adopt in order to receive new loans to be able to make payments on preexisting debts. SAPs are promoted by the IMF, World Bank and other International Finance Institutions as the only reliable method of “reforming” a deficit-ridden economy and putting “underdeveloped” economies on the road to (free-market) development to enable them to participate more fully in international trade and commerce.

As Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni contends, this conception of development “is an ideology of colonial and neo-colonial modernity… linked to liberal ideology and to the idea of progress” that became “another lever of justifying Western intervention and interference in the internal affairs of Africa.” Ndlovu-Gatsheni goes on to point out how this worldview means “that development of any kind could only take place within the parameters of the capitalist world system that manifested its ugly face within the non-Western world in terms of the slave trade, imperialism and colonialism.” The term and very idea of development now invokes neoliberal hegemony, impeding alternative imaginaries of progress and growth that are not rooted in the ideology of Western Enlightenment and modernity. Anything that deviates from the neoliberal conception of development is dismissed as undeveloped and primitive.

The IMF (largely controlled and funded by the U.S) and the World Bank are part of a network of powerful industrialized nations and financial institutions that are the drivers and beneficiaries of neoliberalism and financialization (here and here). The driving force behind the hardline neoliberal reforms or “conditionalities” attached to SAPs have long resided within the halls of power in the U.S. In 1989 this understanding led the English economist John Williamson to label these reforms as the “Washington Consensus,” which according to Williamson, entailed “a list of ten specific policy reforms, which I claimed were widely agreed in Washington to be desirable in just about all the countries of Latin America, as of 1989.”

The ideologically and operationally reform policies attached to SAP conditionalities include: fiscal discipline; redirecting public expenditure; tax reform; financial liberalization; adoption of a single, competitive exchange rate; trade liberalization (free-trade); elimination of barriers to foreign direct investment; privatization of state-owned enterprises; deregulation of market entry and competition; and secure property rights (Lopes). This list of ten “desirable” reforms is what power brokers in the U.S. were imposing on Latin America for three decades. It also played a significant role in fueling the surge of “Twenty-First Century Socialism” throughout Latin America (here and here).

Austerity measures are best understood by looking at the impact neoliberal policy mandates have on people’s lives once they are enacted. In practice, these vicious instruments of greed and power augment inequality, bolster white supremacy and deepen poverty. Austerity reinforces the fundamental social dynamic of unbridled capitalism – inherently linked to colonialism and white supremacy – which is dependent on a small opulent minority whose power and wealth is solely derived from the domination and exploitation of stratified and disposable groups of people. By design SAPs and their austerity mandates target those who are commonly exploited, dehumanized, subjugated, dispossessed and therefore impoverished by Western nations – Indigenous, Black and Brown people, women, children, the working class, the elderly and those who are sick and disabled.

As an essential instrument in the marketization and financialization (restructuring) of economies, austerity is an essential instrument in expediting the political, social and economic conditions used to rationalize the elimination of barriers that inhibit international investors from maximizing profits by exploiting basic human and civic needs. In practice this entails laying off workers, cutting wages and benefits, gutting social safety nets, while also raising taxes and increasing user fees on essential and life sustaining services. Austerity means reducing spending on and/or privatizing public works, utilities, infrastructure, programs and services, including water, electricity, education, pensions, affordable housing, environmental protections, public health and safety regulators, healthcare and more. It means prioritizing export production at the expense of production for local consumption. Austerity also requires labor market reform, which in addition to cutting wages, benefits and state pensions; also requires eliminating or weakening labor laws that protect the health, safety and job security of workers, including their collective bargaining rights. These labor market reforms are code for what is referred to as a “flexible workforce” (Council of Canadians; Global Exchange; Lissovoy).

The winners of SAPs are the rich, their corporations and their financial institutions (those who control both supply and demand), who are not only the direct beneficiaries of austerity as investor creditors but also as those who take over ownership of government services and infrastructure while receiving a range of government subsidies and bailouts. Of course, the survival, safety and security of the rich do not depend on the public services and programs that are being reduced, eliminated and privatized. Austerity, as the Council of Canadians reminds us, “takes from the poor and transfers it to rich multinationals, bondholders and other financial capitalists. …The more governments are held hostage by private credit rating agencies and the financial elite, the more austerity becomes the norm.”

According to ActionAid International Kenya, IMF/World Bank-targeted countries that fail to enact SAPs see their access to international finance cut off. Such threats to impoverished countries amount to blackmail, since many have no choice but to comply. According to a 2009 IMF working paper, if a borrower country defaults on its IMF/World Bank loans, there are two possible penalties: “reputational costs, which in the extreme could result in absolute exclusion from financial markets, and direct sanctions such as legal attachments of property and international trade sanctions imposed by the countries of residence of creditors.” Thus, as Anup Shah affirms, the ultimate goal of SAPs is to open up a nation’s economy and natural resources to the profit-seeking interests of powerful international investors and corporations, while undermining the fundamental rights and interests of its people. Africa Action went on to point out how:

The albatross of illegitimate debt diverts money directly from spending on health care, education and other important needs. African countries are forced to spend almost $14 billion each year servicing old, illegitimate debts to rich country governments and their institutions, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Much of Africa’s foreign debt is illegitimate in nature, having been incurred by unrepresentative and despotic regimes, mainly during the era of Cold War patronage. More generally, many Africans question the notion of an African ‘debt’ to the U.S. and European countries after centuries of exploitation. They ask, ‘Who really owes whom?’

Over the past forty years, neoliberalism has escalated the United States’ imperialistic practice of covertly and militarily intervening in countries as a means to install authoritarian governments as part of its inherent and enduring empire-building mission. SAPs have served the important purpose of establishing U.S. outposts to function as logistical techniques of empire and correspondingly with the objective of building neoliberal and financial infrastructural power within client states and their geographic regions. These interventions also served as geopolitical strategies during the Cold War, rationalizing intervention into sovereign nations as a means to stop the expansion of communism (Steven Hiatt; Meltem Yılmaz Sener).

Since SAPs are an instrument of financial colonization and have therefore met with mass resistance that has widely exposed their violent and despotic nature, in 1999 the IMF and World Bank “put lipstick” on the SAP model, rebranded it and thereafter referred to it as a Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP). Accordingly, Jenina Joy Chavez Malaluan  and Shalmali Guttal pointed out how “little has changed in the substance, form and process of World Bank and IMF programmes. ‘Poverty’ is used as window dressing to peddle more or less the same Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) to low-income countries that led them into a state of chronic economic crisis to begin with.” Malaluan and Guttal went on to explain:

[This model] has clearly failed over the past twenty years in numerous countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America. Countries as diverse as Kenya, Ghana, Ethiopia, Bolivia, the Russian Federation, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Indonesia were all forced to apply the Bank-Fund development model at one time or another, and all have suffered from deep and shattering economic crises as a result… [Y]et today, the same policies continue to be supported even more ardently than before…in a new package called the PRSP.

It is reasonable to question if this model has actually failed or, in fact, is a complete success according to its intended purposes.

In its own defense, the IMF claims that its collaboration with its multilateral partners only promotes “good governance” to “combat corruption” (code for countries that pursue more participatory and redistributive political economies) by supporting market integrity, competition and economic development. The IMF goes on to explain that with its instruments of “surveillance, lending, and technical assistance, the IMF covers economic governance issues that fall within its mandate and expertise, concentrating on issues that are likely to have a significant impact on macroeconomic [neoliberal] performance and the sustainability of sound economic policies.” Sound indeed, for those who are on the winning end of its efforts.

Since neoliberal hegemony has ensured that financialization reigns supreme in the 21st century, SAPs/PRSPs are more freely being imposed and enforced in every region of the planet. In the wake of the European debt crisis beginning in 2008, which was a predictable outcome of the dynamics of global financialization, SAP/PRSP austerity-based conditionalities are being attached to loans for indebted Eurozone nations. In the case of Europe, three institutions known as the “Troika” (European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund) are the drivers of wide-scale austerity. Depending on one’s ideological point of reference or personal interests, Greece has become a poster child for being either a victim of SAPs/PRSPs or a fiscally irresponsible nation. According to Warren Weertman, when SAPs/PRSPs were offered up to the Greeks, they “didn’t have to look far to see what impact the [PRSP] policies would have on them. Just across the Mediterranean lay an entire continent littered with examples of failed IMF policies.” This model has served as a final deathblow for many of the social democracies across Europe.

Ireland serves as both a unique and prime example of how the neoliberal revolution is restructuring nations in the northern hemisphere. With its long history of British colonization, Ireland has systematically been recolonized as an outpost for multinational corporations and banks beginning in the 1950s, and even more so in the 1980s. After the 2008 Eurozone crisis, Ireland was thus well positioned to serve as a laboratory for austerity in the era of financialization. Since then, Ireland has been mythologized by the financial press—and propagandized by the larger corporate media—as the “austerity-and-recovery-model” to be replicated in Greece and across Europe (Hearne; Mercille & Murphy; Tax Justice Network,

In line with what I have previously pointed out, from a winner’s perspective, the Irish model is indeed a success, as reported by economist Cillian Doyle in 2015:

Oh sure, there’s been a recovery for some. Ireland’s richest 250 individuals saw their combined wealth increase by 16% to a whopping 75 billion in the last year alone, so it’s fair to say they’re doing ok. Then there’s the multinationals, whose massive profits continue to enjoy de facto tax immunity. And things are even looking up for the politicians, who are planning to give themselves a pay increase as recognition for masterminding this great “recovery.”

What Doyle is referring to is Ireland’s sixty-year history of saving wealthy investors billions as an offshore financial center by offering low corporate tax rates, loopholes and laxity as incentives for transnational corporations to relocate to Ireland (often only on paper). In 1987, the “Wild West” of financialization occupied Ireland via a deregulated financial zone called the Dublin-based International Financial Services Centre (IFSC). The zone became notorious for being a host of choice for international “shadow banks.” Today Ireland or “Treasure Island” (as some corporations affectionately refer to it) is the home of over half of the world’s largest fifty banks and ten out of twenty of the top insurance corporations, while its stock exchange hosts about a quarter of all international bonds (Mercille & Murphy). There is little wonder why Ireland is promoted as the model to be replicated by the financial elite and their proxies in the media—it is an epicenter for global financialization and its instruments of intermediation, securitization, derivatives and hedge fund gambling. Accordingly, the Tax Justice Network reported in 2015 that “many toxic developments in ‘subprime’ markets that triggered the global financial crisis from 2008 can trace their lineage back to Ireland.”

As Rory Hearne reported in the Irish Examiner in July 2015, the Irish losers of the Troika who imposed austerity measures following the 2008 Eurozone crisis have been forced to endure the usual hardships. Between 2008 and 2014, unemployment, child-poverty and single-parent poverty have soared in Ireland. There have been major cuts in public housing and a marked increase in home repossessions, leading to a homelessness crisis in many parts of the country. Cuts to welfare benefits are decimating children’s benefits, fuel assistance programs, access to clothing and footwear and rent support.

These cuts are especially hard for one-parent families and people with disabilities and their caretakers. Ireland’s poor face higher user fees that limit their access to essential services, including water distribution, school transport, prescription drugs, accident and emergency services, chemotherapy treatment, etc. Spending on public infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, roads, transportation, internet and water and sewage treatment has been drastically reduced. Studies show that the quality of secondary- and primary-level education is declining due to cuts in public school funding along with teacher and other student support reductions. School dropout rates are on the rise, while spending on postsecondary education is being cut. Funding for youth organizations and drug prevention and treatment has been significantly reduced.

As is always the case in austerity-ravaged countries, large numbers of Irish youth are being forced to emigrate to find work. In addition, a recent study by Ireland’s National Suicide Research Foundation found that since these austerity measures have been in place, there has been an increase in self-harm rates by 31% in men and 22% in women and the male suicide success rate has increased by 57% (Hearn).

In the United States, the SAP/PRSP model has been imposed more duplicitously over the course of the last 40 years. The successful imposition of this model has involved a succession of corporate-inspired and state-facilitated policies that are reflective of SAP/PRSP conditionalities that have led to creeping austerity. These policies were complemented by a series of both related and unrelated events beginning in the 1970s, including an influx of women (resulting from the women’s movement) and immigrants (due to mass dispossession throughout Latin America) into the labor force, along with technological advances in production and new corporate governance models that prioritized the maximization of shareholder profits by cutting labor costs. All together, these events, along with intensifying attacks against organized labor, led to a surplus of workers and perpetual wage stagnation that enabled debt to become the fundamental catalyst for aggregate demand. Capitalism in the U.S. was once again being unbound from any form of democratizing and redistributive elements, while simultaneously being empowered by the deregulation of banking and finance along with the Federal Reserve’s intentional lowering of interest rates (Wolff).

According to Tayyab Mahmud and David Harvey, this new “state-finance nexus” extensively unleashed the reach of financial markets throughout society, primarily entangling Black, Brown and Indigenous people, poor whites and the working-class in general in a new credit-debt driven economy. Costas Lapavitsas points out that in the wake of escalating neoliberal austerity mandates, finance capitalism and its predator creditor character thus became the supreme arbiter of wages, job security and working conditions as well as a means to access essential (and privately controlled) goods and services including housing, public utilities and infrastructure (including education), social services, health care, pensions, etc.

According to the United Nations International Labor Organization (ILO), “the international integration of financial markets has been a major driver of falling wage shares…in advanced economies.” Referring to the ascendance of neoliberalism, the ILO went on to claim that the “switch in the 1980s to corporate governance systems based on maximizing shareholder value and the rise of aggressive returns-oriented institutions, including private equity funds, hedge funds and institutional investors, put pressure on firms to increase profits, especially in the short term.” Greased by neoliberal ideology and practices, finance capital’s call for even more profits has only intensified demands for even greater worker flexibility within a landscape with very little to no worker protections and union density.

Lost within financialization, according to Byasdeb Dasgupta and Eckhard Heine, is the long run perspective for a “real economy” (one that produces goods and services) and sustainability of emerging surplus accumulation patterns and trends. Instead, the financialized economy prioritizes buying and selling in financial markets and depends on a short-term and quick time approach to maximizing shareholder power, enticing speculative returns from every circuit of global capital and exploiting variations in interest and foreign exchange rates in different capital markets. As Dasgupta points out, since it cannot derive high rates of surplus from the real economy for expansion, it depends on “labor in transit” in order to guarantee the requisite surplus generation to further the cause of finance. Continuous movement is its primary feature in that workers move from job to job and back and forth from unemployment to employment while also continuously moving from one location to another. Naturally, these dynamics make labor solidarity even more difficult.

Working in concert with financialization, neoliberal ideology reinforces the market-based belief in individual responsibility, which complements the restrictive legal parameters by which subjugated groups are expected to engage in desperate strategies for survival. People are therefore made to think, feel and act as neoliberal subjects who are expected to engage in the speculative financialized economy as risk-taking “debt instruments” who alone are responsible for determining if they survive or thrive. As Max Haiven aptly put it:

[Financialization] offers up a toolbox for understanding social life. In an age of neoliberal austerity, we are all encouraged to approach ourselves as isolated risk-managers, judiciously investing our energies towards our own personal goals and objectives and seeking always to better our position and “corner the market” in whatever sphere of life.

The regime of austerity that is attached to unfettered capitalism requires those who are systematically impoverished to endure a perpetual gauntlet of unemployment, low-wages, job and housing insecurity, food insecurity, exposure to toxins, psychological stress, chronic health conditions, medical emergencies, expensive and highly inadequate health care and no social safety nets. This forces the most vulnerable in society to take on insurmountable debt as targets of predatory lending tactics through the provision of “overextension” (loans or extensions of credit that are larger than what the borrower can repay) (Mahmud). Overextension is also known as subprime lending, which is a term that found its way into the national lexicon via the mortgage crisis associated with the “Great Recession” of 2008.

Overall, the unleashing of financial capitalism on already inequitable societies, such as that of the U.S., has only intensified neoliberalism’s debilitating impact on social movements worldwide, notably through “the mechanisms of the debt crisis in the Global South and mass layoffs at the heart of the labor movement in the Global North” (Arrighi & Silver). This is a landscape where debt is sutured with discipline and where mass suffering fuels an economy that strengthens pre-existing power structures, while creating immense wealth for a few from nothing of intrinsic value (Korten; Mahmud).

Plagued by overwhelming debt from mortgages, student loans, credit cards, automobile loans and other predatory schemes; workers are even more fearful of upsetting their employers. This especially holds true in terms of workers taking collective action to make basic improvements in their wages and working conditions. For those whose wages do increase, instead of buying the consumer goods they produce, it is immediately extracted by creditors, health and other insurance companies and drug monopolies. Those who still aspire to live “The American Dream” by becoming homeowners are forced to lock themselves even further into debt serfdom through high cost and high interest home mortgages. Within this landscape, those who are targeted most by the predatory nature of the financialized economy are serially being exploited as workers, indebted “customers” and increasingly in “pay for success” derivative schemes, otherwise known as Social Impact Bonds (Hudson; Greenwood & Scharfstein; Martin, Kersley, & Greenham).

As has always been the case under capitalism, desperation, uncertainty, exploitation, inequity and inequality are central to its power. Financialization is considered to be a natural stage of capitalist development and takes these realities to a whole new level. Its power structures are aligning domestic and international policy agendas to fit its interests, resulting in the expansion and intensification of militarism, imperialism, colonization, genocide, exploitation, inequity and disenfranchisement. Since these forces are driven by Western powers, white supremacy and Christian hegemony (and their associated constructs of patriarchy) are deeply embedded within their ideologies and practices, particularly in the United States.

It is important to remember that capitalism was born from the imperialist settler colonial and chattel slavery empires of Europe and the Americas. This made for a perfect union between the ideology of white supremacy and the economic and political relations under capitalism, especially since imperialistic aspirations, settler colonial rule and capitalist structures all require certain people to be ideologically constructed as inferior to enable them to be identified as disposable and/or exploitable labor. Capitalist production was well positioned to be an integral component of structural racism, therefore incentivizing more intensive and expansive racialized methods of resource appropriation and accumulation by dispossession. These structural dynamics provided fertile ground for neoliberalism and financialization to flourish in the 21st century.

As Paula Butler claims, “Racism—more precisely, white supremacy—has been a constitutive element of colonialism and the establishment and expansion of capitalism in the modern era, from the 15th century to the present.” According to Bhattacharya, Gabriel and Small,  “capitalist expansion has depended so heavily on mythologies of race and their attendant violence that the double project of racial and economic subjugation is a constitutive aspect of this expansion.” In effect, capitalism and white supremacy are structurally bound.

Neoliberal-fueled financialization strengthens capitalism’s imperialist propensity to seize and occupy territory and material and virtual sources of wealth in order to racialize and subjugate its occupants so as to exploit and dispose of them at will. According to Bhattecharyya et al. “The power of whiteness lies in its capacity to impoverish, starve, contaminate and murder, all seemingly within the bounds of legality.”

Arturo Escobar named these horrific global realities “social fascism,” while S.B. Banerjee referred to these forms of structural violence as “necrocapitalism” or death capitalism.

Banerjee defines necrocapitalism as, “contemporary forms of organizational accumulation that involve dispossession and the subjugation of life to the power of death.” Necrocapitalism “creates states of exceptions where ‘democratic rights are confined to a political sphere’ while continuing forms of domination, exploitation and violence in other domains.” Paula Butler claimed that the term necrocapitalism “captures the ideological and material context of unfettered market forces in which capital’s right to profit legally and legitimately eradicates livelihoods and subjugates life, thus producing death.”

As the corporate media continues to focus on how the fallout of the European debt crisis and the Central Banks’ (the Troika) austerity prescriptions are affecting (or inflicting) European countries, finance capital continues its original mission of targeting and pillaging entire continents populated by Black, Brown and Indigenous people. In this persistent quest, billions of people are subjected to a life of unrelenting hardship and suffering, while the perpetrating institutions and governments refuse to acknowledge the racialized power structure that is fueling the global political economy. Since the Western power structures that are responsible for the brutality of neoliberalism and financialization are the “rule of law,” formal redress and accountability is nonexistent. Instead, racial violence is effectively denied and veiled by racially coded discourses that invoke color-blindness, soft multiculturalism, and philanthropic intent or by hiding behind airs of neutrality and economic rationalism. The slick beneficiaries and agents of neoliberalism and financialization deflect and spin charges that their wealth is derived from exploitation and barbaric practices of dispossession structurally tied to historic and ongoing manifestations of white supremacy and colonization.

Under this globalized cultural political economy, seeking relief or justice within state institutions and civil society is largely futile. In the 21st century, civil, political and economic rights are more than ever at odds with the interests of capital. Governments either function as proxies for finance capitalism or face being subjugated by it. This ensures that national governments are even more unresponsive to the needs and demands of those who reside within their borders, borders that are non-existent for financial investors and increasingly punitive for dispossessed groups, often referred to as “illegal immigrants” and “refugees.” As Nancy Fraser put it, there is “a new form of imperialism that doesn’t have the clean geography of the colonists there and the colonized here.”

In this landscape, banks and other global financial institutions are setting and enforcing the rules that govern social relations in societies across the globe, including relations between states and their citizens. States have largely become subjects of bond markets and Central Banks, (such as the Troika). These are the layers of power that operate above states and control what states can or cannot do. In sum, the plutocrats of this finance empire have no national loyalties, they possess no conscience, their domain knows no borders, their institutions have no center and their wealth has no real material value. Thus, looking to the state for protections or engaging in traditional strategies of resistance needs to be seriously reconsidered.