THE 
RED
CRITIQUE

Imperialism Now


5

How "New" is the New Labor and (some notes on) its Relation with Cyber Culture
Rob Wilkie

Empire versus Imperialism and the Question of Family Labor
Julie Torrant

Transnational Urbanism and the Imperatives of Capital:
A Review of The Rise of the Creative Class
Kimberly DeFazio

Martha Stewart: Global Capitalist Behind the Domestic Label
Jennifer Cotter

Review: Topdog/Underdog by Suzan-Lori Parks
Robert Faivre

IMAGE AND IDEOLOGY

Main

That the U.S. war against Afghanistan and now its campaign to invade Iraq is being represented to the world by the Bush administration and the corporate media as an act of "liberation" of the Iraqi people and the securing of the rule of law and order against the violation of the "norms" of the "international community" shows the limitless hypocrisy of the ruling U.S. elite in pursuing its class interests in the post-Cold War world. The very state which claims to act under the aegis of international law has not only suspended all criteria of "evidence" and "proof" in the so-called "war against terrorism" on both domestic and international fronts but has now openly declared in its new "National Security Strategy" that America will not be subject to the International Criminal Court "whose jurisdiction does not extend to Americans" ("The National Security Strategy of the United States" September 20, 2002).

Bush's recent appeal to the United Nations and proposal to Congress for carte blanche in pressuring Iraq—through any means necessary, including force—to respect and "comply" with United Nations resolutions is a hoax for putting into power a regime that is more friendly to the interests of transnational business by ending the bar on U.S. access to Iraqi oil. Where, for example, is the U.S. "commitment" to defending UN resolutions with regard to the illegal and brutal Israeli occupation of Palestine which has been in violation of UN resolutions for 35 years? The notion that a war against Iraq is in defense of the lives of U.S. civilians against a "possible" attack by Saddam Hussein (and a third world nation already devastated by previous war not to mention a decade of brutal economic sanctions against Iraqi citizens), is even denied by its own agents such as Scott Ritter, a former American arms inspector for the UN, who has openly proclaimed that Iraq does not have the capacity for nuclear attack.

Both the story of Iraq as a possible threat to world peace and that of the "liberation" of the Iraqi people are part of a concerted strategy of cynical manipulation of U.S. citizens and world opinion into justifying the global designs of American imperialism and unleashing a new period of global wars which threatens catastrophic consequences for people everywhere. They are both attempts to cover over the fact that "American and foreign oil companies have already begun maneuvering for a stake in [Iraq's] huge proven oil reserves of 112 billion barrels of crude oil, the largest in the world outside Saudi Arabia" ("In Iraqi War Scenario, Oil is Key Issue", Washington Post, Sept. 15, 2002) and that the staged "debate" on "national security" issues in the U.S. media and in Congress is a pretext for ruthless colonial plunder of the resources and labor of Iraq on behalf of Exxon-Mobil and Chevron-Texaco. Gaining control of the labor and resources of Iraq, which has the second largest oil reserves in the world, will give the U.S. ruling elite a position of dominance and control over the transnational oil industry which is an essential resource for global capitalism.

The "war on terrorism" has been a political bonanza for the criminal clique of millionaires and corporate CEO's who now are at the helm of the world's most devastating military arsenal to pursue their search for profits with utter disregard for the sovereignty of other countries, a policy which threatens disastrous consequences for the ordinary citizens of these nations. As international commentators such as Nelson Mandela have argued, the real "threat to world peace" is "the attitude of the United States of America".

 "We must understand the seriousness of the situation. The United States has made serious mistakes in the conduct of its foreign affairs, which have had unfortunate repercussions long after the decisions were taken. Unqualified support of the Shah of Iran led directly to the Islamic revolution of 1979. Then the United States chose to arm and finance the [Islamic] mujahedin in Afghanistan instead of supporting and encouraging the moderate wing of the government of Afghanistan. That is what led to the Taliban in Afghanistan. But the most catastrophic action of the United States was to sabotage the decision that was painstakingly stitched together by the United Nations regarding the withdrawal of the Soviet Union from Afghanistan…[W]hat [America] is [now] saying is that if you are afraid of a veto in the Security Council, you can go outside and take action and violate the sovereignty of other countries. That is the message they are sending to the world. That must be condemned in the strongest terms" (Nelson Mandela, Newsweek, September 10, 2002).

It is in this context that Bush's recently released "National Security Strategy" which legitimates "pre-emptive" military actions for installing puppet governments favorable to U.S. corporate interests (such as that of Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan) in nominally "sovereign" nations must be seen as the return to a barbarous colonial foreign policy based on forced submission of Third World nations to the dictates of big business. What the "pre-emptive" action policy of the Bush administration ensures is that the fate of these nations will be decided not by their own people but by the energy monopolies, the arms industry, and the financial giants who sit in the U.S. corporate boardrooms and interpenetrate the personnel ranks of the state department.

Yet opposition to the current war must be part of a broader struggle against capitalism. War is not an "anomaly" of the "normal" workings of "democratic" capitalism. Even the "democratic" opposition to U.S. military unilateralism from such countries as France, Russia, China and Germany (whose justice minister, in a recent statement subsequently retracted, has compared Bush to Hitler) is the resistance not of an "international community" interested in maintaining a "just" international policy but of inter-capitalist competitors against rival interests. If the U.S. attacks Iraq and overthrows Saddam Hussein, installing a new government to harness the country's oil wealth and labor to make them available to U.S. capital, this could rip the bottom out of existing Russian and French economic arrangements with Baghdad and diminish their level of control over the profits from the world oil industry.

Using warfare when capitalist "democracy" fails to serve the interest of profit is, as Lenin explains, integral to capitalism in its monopoly phase in which giant transnational corporations grown increasingly desperate for greater profits compete for (re)division of the world market and for economic territory. Whatever the asserted "political" motives under which the drive to war publicly takes place, war is in its essence a form of economic struggle over profit and dividing the world into zones dominated by particular transnational capitalist groups.

Imperialist wars are not an anomaly but a necessity under capitalism.

"The capitalists divide the world, not out of any particular malice, but because the degree of concentration [of production] reached forces them to adopt this method in order to get profits. . . [and] there can be no other conceivable basis under capitalism for the division of spheres of influence, of interests, of colonies, etc., than a calculation of the strength of the participants in the division, their general economic, financial, military strength. . . . Imperialism is the epoch of finance capital and of monopolies, which introduce everywhere the striving for domination, not for freedom. The result of these tendencies is reaction all along the line. Particularly acute becomes the yoke of national oppression and the striving for annexations, i.e., the violation of national independence" (Lenin, Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism).

The economic and financial weakness of the U.S. exposed by the collapse of the stock market bubble and the corporate corruption scandals is ensuring that American military hegemony and wars of effective annexation become increasingly integral to global capitalism in the coming period leading to new global crises. Moreover, as is also clear, the class struggle against the working peoples of the world is not stopping at the borders of the U.S.. The added bonus of the "war on terrorism" for the U.S. ruling class is not only its re-routing of public funds through such measures as the $1.3 trillion tax cut for the wealthy (while millions of citizens go without basic necessities such as health care, housing and food), but its suspension of bourgeois democracy and rights of even U.S. citizens, and outlawing of the growing internal dissent against the massive economic inequality and stark class polarization of American society. Such measures are thin attempts to conceal and legitimate the authoritarian security state which has been put into place to ensure political stability in a period of intense economic instability, and the invocation of a threat to "national security" and feverish fomentation of "patriotic" war fervor function, in such a climate, to normalize the channeling of grievances "outward," away from the ruling class, its policies and institutions.

For the world's citizens, the struggle against U.S. imperialism's new foreign policy of "pre-emptive" war against "sovereign" nations is indissolubly bound up with the struggle against their exploitation by transnational capital which is everywhere decimating their living standards and forcing them into a life of growing poverty and economic insecurity. Contrary to the populist slogans of the opportunistic left, what lies behind the current situation is not a new "Empire" reflecting the invention of a new "imperial thinking" in the U.S. in analogy with ancient Rome (Phillip S. Golub, "Westward the Course of Empire", Le Monde Diplomatique, September, 2002). It is not "imperial thinking" that is the problem but the indissoluble contradictions of monopoly capitalism which are working themselves out on the world stage. By opposing "imperial thinking" without opposing capitalism the left opportunists perform a pragmatic compromise with capitalism which provides a "leftist" front for imperialism now. For this opportunism the "hard-left" opposition to all imperialist wars is a symptom of "myopia and intransigence" which simply is "irrelevant" to most Americans (Michael Bérubé, "Peace Puzzle", The Boston Globe, September 15, 2002). But "relevance" is a class issue. What is "relevant" to the "soft-left" thinking on imperialism is that "the United States cannot be a beacon of freedom and justice to the world if it conducts itself as an empire" (Bérubé). What the "soft-left" wants is a kinder, gentler imperialism which effectively cloaks itself in heart-warming humanitarian rhetoric and doesn't trouble their liberal sentiments! But there is no "humanitarian" imperialism. Imperialism is class war on the world working class and any effective fight against the new imperialist wars of transnational capital must be based on workers' revolutionary internationalism and class solidarity—across all national boundaries—in the struggle for a new socialist society based on economic equality for all and the peaceful co-operation of all peoples.

Print Version