Monday, November 28, 2016

Capitalism's Savage Legacy

We can't have guns and butter.
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

As we head in to Christmas and as we are inundated by more ads on TV that we should love our neighbors and go buy them something, we should not remain oblivious to the fact that the US capitalist class is leading the race toward nuclear annihilation.

There is no doubt that US capitalism is losing its global influence and is facing increasing competition for that influence from China in particular and from India and Russia to a lesser extent.

The good news for Russian capitalism is that wages have sunk so low that manufacturers are salivating at the thought of having production facilities so close to Western Europe.  The average Russian salary fell to $558 in 2015 according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek,  a 30% decline from 2015.

Russian wages levels are now “broadly competitive with China’s for the first time since the Czarist era ended a century ago…” BW adds.  Samsung, Ikea and other manufacturers are already increasing investment there.

One lesson for us here in the US is that Trump’s claim to bring back Rust Belt jobs was nothing but an electoral ploy, like most of this degenerate narcissist’s claims. Even if US workers wages were competitive with Russia and China’s, new technology and automation is reducing the need for workers both here and in China as Mick Brooks pointed out on this blog last week. But capital will always flow to the cheaper labor as long as shipping and other costs don’t negate it. The Chinese are too expensive now and production has been moving to Cambodia, Bangladesh and Vietnam.

Meanwhile, US capitalism’s provocative foreign policy is increasing tensions in Eastern Europe as the US has troops near the Russian border, is supporting the fascists in Ukraine (and in the White House or Trump Tower?) and installing missile defense systems in Poland, supposedly as a defense against an invasion from Iran. No one in the world believes this of course but that doesn’t really matter as it’s only important that Americans do or that we are at the very least too occupied with Black Friday and the Superbowl to be aware of it.

At the other end of the world the US is stoking the flames of discontent in South East Asia.  It has been pushing the Australians to be more aggressive with regards to China as US capitalism needs to slow down China’s industrial development. Progress is good as long as the guy at the top has all the guns and all the money.

When I was in Northern Queensland I talked with a number of Australians who were opposed to the US building more military facilities in the Townsville area. It was not because they disliked Americans. But they saw it as a move that would likely drag Australia in to US capitalism’s disastrous War on Terror.

The US has been increasing tensions with China in the same way it has with Russia by surrounding the country with military installations and by increasing its presence in waters China considers its territory.

Chinese analysts are concerned about what they refer to as an, unprecedented military build up in the Asia Pacific region, and are concerned that Obama’s escalation and build up of a US presence in the South China Sea area since 2009 is “dangerously escalatory.”

According to the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, the US “targeted China with 1200 close reconnaissance missions by ships, and aircraft in 2014 up from 200 in 2009”.

The report added that, “American military vessels and aircraft carried out more than 700 patrols in the South China Sea region during 2015, making China the country’s number one surveillance target.” (Financial Times, 11-26-16)
Defense spending in billions of $. Source
Can the reader imagine the nationalist furor and fear that would be whipped up by the corporate controlled media if the Russians or Chinese had troops on the Candian or Mexican border? All capitalist states want a military. The US supplies most of the smaller capitalist states with their weapons of mass destruction as the world’s dominant supplier of such weapons. 

The goal is for US capitalism to retain its number one slot. With competing world powers or states that have the potential to compete with the US like China, all the talk of reform, meaning a shift toward a more market oriented economy and political system, is limited in that a country that heads in that direction like China, must not be allowed to threaten US capitalism’s dominant world rule.  But it is inevitable that China will build its military as its economic influence grows, the same with Russia.

So it’s not that the US capitalist class is any worse necessarily, they are simply the guys with the big stick.  What drives their violence and brutality is not so much individual qualities or some sort of genetic tendency to violence, it is the laws of the system that drives them closer to the precipice of nuclear war.

This doesn’t mean there aren’t cultural traits. Engels attributed the crude and violent nature of the US bourgeois to their history. The British bourgeois for example fought a centuries old ideological war against the feudal aristocracy and its theoreticians in the Catholic Church.  They had to defend their ideas and the righteousness of their economic system. The US bourgeois on the other hand did not have a ruling class that they had to dislodge. Putting it crudely, their rise to power was based on sheer physical violence, they had to build some infrastructure and wipe out a few million of the Native population with their technologically superior weaponry.

We have discussed this issue of eventual nuclear war in the phone conferences some of us around this blog have once a week.  There are currently over 16,000 nuclear warheads possessed by nine countries. We have to exclude Israel as they do not comment on their stockpile and are supported in this by the US., but the average guess is it is in the hundreds.  One might consider why the Iranians are a little leery and object to the fact they have to allow inspections and the Zionist regime or the US doesn’t.

They never built nuclear weapons with the intention of never using them. And admittedly, they have acted as a deterrent to a degree. But there is no way that at some point these are not going to be used. Capitalism is not a friendly humane system of social organization. It is brutal, violent, genocidal. Each nation state for fear of extinction must seek markets, must possess raw materials, must outdo its rivals in this struggle or die. Smaller states must align themselves to their larger neighbors, join the few competing trading blocs under the domination of a superpower, Germany, China, the US or Russia etc. Meanwhile the workers, peasants and dispossessed of these states fight back in any way possible. The suicide bomber is not a person that thinks there is much of a future but a person whose culture, life, existence on this earth is unbearable.

States crumble, become failed states and millions end up as economic or war refugees fleeing to safety, Central Americans in the former case, Syrians, Iraqis. Afghanis or Somalis in the latter.

Two World wars have been fought over markets. We see it, hear the cause of it every day, growth, growth, growth.  What they’re talking about with growth is the expansion of the markets and the process of profit taking and capital accumulation. This is what drives the system and the actions of its major players.

A well-meaning friend praised me, and folks like me, for my passion. But it’s not a question of passion. I am firmly convinced that capitalism will destroy life on this planet if it is not overthrown and replaced by a democratic socialist global society, a world federation of socialist states. In this way social wealth which is a collective product can be allocated collectively based on human needs and not profits. I can see no other way out.

I have grandchildren. I have friends with children. How can I keep quiet when I do not believe a child of five will reach 60, or even 50? I believe this firmly. If the reader disagrees with me, then find the objective evidence that leads you to disagree with me and show it. That god will intervene or you pray that things will change isn’t enough. If praying worked there’d be no starving people in this world, if praying gives you the strength to fight to change the system, that’s a different praying. If you have children it is your obligation to them to think about the world where it is headed and how you can be part of creating a future in which they will be safe and can reach their potential as free human beings.

The working class will struggle to change things but without a theoretical grounding and a leadership that has learned the lessons of history there will be much unnecessary suffering as there is now or there will be failure.

One thing is certain. There are no guarantees in this world and there is no such place as heaven.

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