Aug 242014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

The Obama Administration actively pressured Europe to impose harsh sanctions on Russia in order to defend the violent takeover (‘regime change’) in the Ukraine.  England, France, Germany and the rest of the European regimes gave in to Washington’s demands.  Russia responded by imposing reciprocal sanctions, especially on agriculture goods, and is establishing alternative trading partners and increasing trade with China, Iran, Latin America and Africa.

The sanctions policies occur at a time when Europe’s economies are in deep economic crisis, exacerbating long-term stagnation and chronic recession.  This paper will identify and analyze the crisis and how US-led sanctions policy is fracturing the European Union. Secondly, we will analyze how Washington’s militarist imperial policies undermine Europe economically and destabilize the rest of the world militarily.  Thirdly, we will discuss how the European leaders are prodded by Washington, to put it crudely, through an aggressive ‘buggering process’, to surrender their economic sovereignty and how capitulation to the US project in the Ukraine will lead to their long-term decline and decay.  Finally, we will discuss the long-term perspectives for a re-aligned world economy where military conflicts can result in large-scale changes.

From Stagnation to Recession from Sanctions to Depression

Across Europe, without exception, recession stalks the economies.  The dominant countries, Germany, France and Italy are mired in recession, acutely exacerbated by the sanctions against Russia dictated from Washington.  From Nordic Finland, passing through the Baltic States to Central and Southern Europe, the Eurozone ‘recovery’ is ‘kaput’!  The ‘triple whammy’ of capitalist disinvestment, economic sanctions and wars has provoked a deepening economic crisis.

Germany:  Regime ‘Lick-Spittle’ Scares Industry and Financial Sectors

The German financial market’s confidence is collapsing as a result of  Chancellor Merkel’s support for economic sanctions against Russia and President Putin’s reciprocal response. Several hundred thousand German industrial jobs are at risk; imports of Russian oil and gas are in danger; large-scale, long-term German investments and lucrative export markets are at stake.  These fears and uncertainties have led to declining investment and an unprecedented negative growth of 0.2% in the German economy in the second quarter of 2014.  The recession in Germany ripples throughout Europe – especially affecting Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Southern Europe.

Merkel’s servile capitulation to the US President’s command to sanction one of Germany’s major trade partners, Russia, may seriously harm its economic future.  Germany’s  industrial exports to Russia amount to 36 billion Euros; there are 20 billion Euros in annual investments; and over 400,000 German workers are employed in companies exporting to Russia . . . Joe Kaeser, CEO of Siemens, pointedly argued that “political tensions posed serious risks for Europe’s growth this year and next”.  Sales in some sectors are down 15% since June 2014.  Germany’s economy was already facing stagnation even before the coup in Kiev . . .but  machinery exporters are especially concerned about losing the Russian market because other markets have declined.  For example, German sales to Brazil are down nearly 20%.

In addition, German farmers suffer:  Export of German meat and meat products to Russia amount to 276 million Euros or 21% of their non-EU exports.  German dairy farmers earned $160 million Euros from trade with Russia, 14% of total exports to non-EU countries.

Merkel knowingly sacrificed German industry, agriculture and employment by submitting to Obama’s policy of ‘buggering his European allies’.  On the other hand, Obama’s sanctions against Russia have virtually no impact on US economic interests.  Only the Europeans will feel the pinch.  Merkel’s support for the US-NATO coup in Kiev and the ongoing military assault against the anti-coup democrats in Eastern Ukraine is leading to a revival of the Cold War confrontational policies toward Russia, and has alienated the majority of German producers and exporters as well as the German public.

Italy:  Capitalist Crises and Sanctions

Italy is stuck in a half decade of profound recession continuing throughout 2014.  Its GDP fell by 0.2% in the second quarter, bringing the GDP below the level in the year 2000!  The sanctions against Russia have cost Italy over $1 billion in lost exports, hitting Northern Italy most acutely and provoking the ire of the conservative Northern League.  Big Italian energy companies, with major investments in Russia, face even bigger losses.  Italian farmers, from Tuscany to Sicily, are experiencing major losses in agricultural exports.  In other words, with sanctions Italy’s chronic sick economy has lost any chance for recovery and will likely pass from recession into depression.

France:  From Zero Growth to Recession

France has entered a period of perpetual regression:  Unemployment exceeds 11%, underemployment and ‘make work’ exceeds 20% . . . GDP hovers at recession levels, between zero and 0.5% . . . Austerity, involving large-scale cuts in social programs and tax write-offs for business, has eroded consumer spending without increasing capitalist investment. And Obama’s sanctions against Russia will further damage French exporters, especially its agricultural sector and weapons manufacturers.  And ‘Hyper-Militarist-Socialist’ President Hollande has exacerbated France’s balance of payments and budget problems by sending the air force and ground troops to intervene on three continents.  This has caused over 82% of French voters to choose alternative parties, propelling the nationalist right party, National Front, to the lead.

The ‘Backside of Europe’:  Spain, Greece and Portugal

Deeply buried in a near decade-long depression with unemployment ranging from 26% in Greece and Spain to 16% in Portugal, Russia’s reciprocal sanctions against agricultural exports has hit their agro-export sectors most severely, causing mountains of grapes, tomatoes and other perishables to rot in the fields.  Tons of Southern Europe’s produce will end up as compost.  Tens of thousands of farmers face even greater problems and more will be forced into bankruptcy because of Washington’s dictates.

Spanish farmers stand to lose 158 million Euros from the sanctions against their fresh fruit and nuts, or 22% of their total exports to non-EU countries; Greek farmers will lose 107 million Euros, 41% of exports to non-EU countries.  Spanish meat exporters will lose 111 million Euros or 13% of their non-EU markets.

The European Union, for its part, offers meager relief – expecting thousands of hard-pressed farmers to submit to Obama’s demands. In the meantime, as Russia establishes alternative markets in Latin America, the EU has sent its emissaries overseas to beg the Latin American governments to reject multi-billion dollar agro-business deals with Russia and comply with the US-EU sanctions.  So far, every country in Latin America has rejected the EU’s ‘charm’ offensive.  Ecuadorean President Correa heaped scorn on the EU: “We do not have to ask anyone’s permission to export to friendly nations.  As far as I know, Latin America is not part of the European Union”.  Egypt and Turkey are stepping in to replace the farmers of Europe and the US by exporting their agricultural produce to Russia.

Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland, Finland, Lithuania, Denmark and the Netherlands

Hungary’s President Viktor Orban rages at the sanctions and threatens to break ranks, as Budapest tallies up its losses in exports, and the threat to its energy-dependent country.  Bulgaria’s compliant President caved into Brussels’ pressure and reneged on a $40 billion dollar pipeline deal signed between Russia and local Bulgarian business leaders precipitating a major banking crisis and the collapse of its second largest bank – Corbank.  The deposits of hundreds of thousands of Bulgarians were frozen or just disappeared.  When Brussels buggers the Bulgarians, they bankrupt their own banks.

Finland, once the poster-child of the ‘Third Way’ ideologues, is in a long-term depression.  Its economy has shrunk for the past 4 consecutive years and even regime optimists estimate that they will need 10 years to recover.  Finnish Prime Minister, Alex Stubbs, a free market ideologue, is a staunch supporter of sanctions against Russia although these will drastically cut into agricultural exports (dairy goods, meat, fish, etc.).  Stubbs defends his catastrophic capitulation to NATO’s power grab in the Kiev by proclaiming that “our principles (sic) are not for sale; we believe in international institutions; we believe in the rule of law”. Finland, under its ‘law-abiding’ President, will lose at least 253 million Euros this year or 68% of its exports to non-EU countries.  In other words this political marionette has sacrificed the welfare of hundreds of thousands of Finnish dairy farmers and growers to support a NATO-imposed regime in Kiev, which has been sending units of neo-Nazis to slaughter Ukrainian resistance fighters and civilians.

Poland’s billion dollar agricultural export trade with Russia has collapsed, causing Warsaw to beg Washington and Brussels for emergency subsidies and pleading with the apple-exporting Americans to ‘eat Polish apples’.  Polish fruit growers will lose 317 million Euros in sales or 61% of their exports to non-EU countries.  Their meat exporters will lose 162 million Euros, 20% of its trade with non-EU countries.  Dairy farmers will lose 142 million Euros, 32% of exports to non-EU countries.

The Poles, who at every turn have assumed the most reactionary Russophobic posture and were deeply implicated in organizing and training the neo-fascist gangs which overthrew the elected Ukraine government, are now pushing carts down the streets of Warsaw peddling apples and sausages, instead of stocking the supermarket shelves of Russia – and whining that New Yorkers should forsake Upstate apples to take up the slack!

Lithuania will lose 308 million Euros in fresh fruit exports to Russia or 81% of their exports to non-EU countries; dairy farmers will lose 161 million Euros in sales or 74% of non-EU exports.  Denmark and Holland will lose over 800 million Euros in agro-exports to Russia –deepening their recession.

Conclusion

While the ever-persuasive con-man in Washington, President Obama has buggered EU leaders into pushing their own economies even deeper into recession, so he can launch a new Cold War with Russia, the US plunges deeper into military confrontations in Iraq, Ukraine and Syria.  Obama appears to have lost control over military aid programs in the chaos:  Netanyahu’s Zionist allies in Congress managed to by-pass the White House and State Department and approve additional shipments of Pentagon arms to Israel, undercutting any administration leverage over the ongoing Israeli genocide in Gaza.

Japan joins the US-EU sanctions against Russia exacerbating its own economic crisis:  In 2014 Japan experienced its worst contraction since 2009, with a 7.1% drop in the second quarter.  The increasingly unpopular, Japanese Prime Minister Abe is committed to a military build-up.  More Japanese politicians visit Yasukuni Shrine, the militarist temple honoring its war criminals, re-awakening the horrific memories of Imperial Japan’s victims.  There are increasingly bellicose Japanese confrontations with China over disputed piles of rock in the South China Sea . . .  As Obama’s military pivot to Asia increases, so Japan’s economy sinks.

No European country can benefit from embracing the failed regime in Kiev. . . Ukraine’s currency is in free-fall – ranking below soiled toilet paper.  Its major industries, totally dependent on trade with Russia, are bankrupt or have been bombed by the NATO-putsch regime in Kiev.  Its agricultural exports are devastated.  Meanwhile Ukrainian families are advised to chop their own wood or dig their own coal in anticipation of a winter totally cut off from Russian gas because the oligarchs in Kiev have been unable or unwilling to pay the huge energy debt. For their staunch support of this bankrupt regime, ruled by a ‘Billionaire Oligarch’ in Kiev, for upholding the ‘principles’ so lauded by Finnish President Stubbs, one million European farmers will bury their own apples, pour their own milk in the streets and dump their grapes, oranges and tomatoes in rotting heaps. . . And this is so their leaders, Obama, Cameron, Merkel and Hollande can uphold their real ‘principles’ of territorial expansion, extend their military operations to the borders with Russia and posture as warriors while destroying their countries productive economies, bankrupting their farmers and manufacturers, driving millions more into unemployment and deepening the pains of recession.

Ukraine will join a growing list of countries, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, that Washington and NATO have “saved” (to paraphrase an American general)  . . . by being destroyed.

Once again the US military-driven empire-building policy trumps economic development: Destructive wars and sanctions destroy viable markets and impoverish entire sectors of the economy.  Imposing sanctions abroad invites retaliation – the boomerang effect cripples domestic producers. As world trade and investment shrink, internal stagnation becomes endemic, recessions deepen and recovery becomes a distant chimera.  The financial press, the Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times, which have become megaphones for the western warlords, no longer publish paeans to the free market but unleash vitriolic screeds crying for war and sanctions….. which close markets and destroy investor confidence.

Buggered by Obama, European bootlickers bankrupt their own economies and then pass around the begging cup.

Italy faces the reality of a decade of stagnation.

Portugal’s economy crashes and crawls.

Germany’s manufacturing machinery grinds to a halt.

Finland’s ‘principled’ brown-nosing boomerangs.

England is converted into a money-laundering bankers’ city-state where one-third of its children live in poverty.

Poland consumes itself, drunk with weapons and rotting apples.

In a word, by submitting to Washington’s doctrine of permanent wars, Europe eschews the only road out of permanent crisis: peaceful co-existence.  The mega-buggers in Washington and the bootlickers in Europe have chosen sanctions over trade and destruction over prosperity.  They are paying a price:  domestic unrest, displacement from markets by emerging economies and the ascendancy of chaos as a way of life in Western Europe.

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Aug 112014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

Outside of Israel and its organized supporters in the major Zionist organizations, world public opinion and most experts in international law see the Jewish State’s invasion of Gaza and its systematic attack on civilians and basic infrastructure as a crime against humanity.

The purpose of this essay is 4-fold:  1. To identify the nature of the crime – the genocidal character of the armed assault and the sequence leading up to it; 2. To identify the direct perpetrators of the war crimes and their domestic and international accomplices; 3. To explain the ties binding leaders, policymakers, propagandists, accomplices and followers, including their  ideologies, material interests and organizational structure which make these crimes not only possible, but met so far with impunity and 4. To identify the larger imperial interests with which Israel allies with the US, and in pursuit of which, the Gaza assault is a horrifying dress rehearsal.

The ‘Morality’ of Prison Guards in a Genocidal State

Policymakers in the genocidal state run a highly militarized society where citizens and soldiers, criminals and professionals, torturers and sociopaths can and do coexist within the same person.  Cold rationality is harnessed to mass murder, technology to massive devastation , language to euphemisms and executioners parade themselves as victims (and vice versa).  Moral precepts become debased and supplanted by the ethics of mass murder.  Moralists, rabbis and ethical philosophers all join to bless the bombs dropped on hospitals and schools and homes and all living things – even the dead and buried do not rest in peace when the cemeteries are bombed.

Rulers, imbued with a genocidal vision, see only military objectives – an oppressed people do not exist – all human existence and institutions in the target areas are to be demolished.   The destruction of human life, of Palestinian daily existence has become the ultimate goal of this obscene operation.

The practical decision to exterminate Palestinians was conscious, planned and pursued with implacable resolve at the very top and carried out with savage enthusiasm by Israel’s ‘citizen army’.

The unfolding of this deadly plan began with what appeared a ‘generous’ peace offer.  In 2004, Israel’s war criminal Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon ‘granted’ the Palestinians self-government in Gaza and in August 2005 withdrew a few thousand Jewish settlers and their Israeli ground troops.  The consequence of this benevolence:  Over 1.4 million Palestinians were to be locked and crowded into the most densely open air prison in the world:  the largest ghetto in history.  This was a sickening reminder of the Nazi roundup of Polish Jews herding them into the Warsaw ghetto . . . where they too were granted ‘self-government’.  Once the Jewish settlers were removed (and paid up to $300,000 per family ‘compensation’), Israel’s military closed all of Gaza’s entrances and exits.  Land, sea and airspace were blockaded and total control imposed on the entrance of food, medicine, school books and the exit of Palestinians for medical treatment, university studies, normal travel and commerce of any kind.  This mirrored the Nazi policy toward those trapped in the Warsaw ghetto.  Palestinian farmers were shot tending their fields, acts of brutality reminiscent of the Nazi starvation blockade of Leningrad…  And the world was appalled!

Gaza and the Ghetto were first set up to be open-air prison camps . . . temporary measures to mask the real plans.  Gaza’s young population had grown to over 1.8 million entrapped human beings by 2014.  Obviously, if the Gazans could not travel, farm, fish and trade by normal means, they would dig tunnels for supplies and fight against their relegation to the status of caged animals by the Israeli state.  The next steps after the successful enclosure would be systematic and pre-meditated: the Zionists, like the Nazis, launched total war against the inevitable acts of resistance by the oppressed.  They sent planes, tanks, missiles and bombs to level populated areas, especially neighborhoods where young fighters rose up to resist this unendurable cruelty.  The heroic young fighters of Gaza, like their Warsaw predecessors, resisted their totalitarian enemies time and again.  Meanwhile, the vast majority of Israeli Jews cheered the devastation while claiming to be the victims and young overseas Jews volunteered to join the IDF in its slaughter of the Palestinians, just as the German population celebrated, along with the overseas German Bund, their leaders’ totalitarian crimes.  Their responses were almost identical although in different times and places: Chosen People and Arians of the world have united against what they both termed ‘terrorists’ claiming their tunnels will become their graves!

In line with this super race mythology,  Israel’s killing machine is really most effective at murdering unarmed civilians– invalids who cannot run, doctors who stay to care for the wounded and mothers and children in their flimsy shelters– and rather pathetic when it confronts face to face  determined  armed resistance fighters.  As of 8/6/14 the Israeli Air Force, Navy and artillery slaughtered 1,594 Palestinian civilians –via long distance high tech warfare -compared to 3 civilians in Israel (one Bedouin, one Thai farm worker and an Israeli Jew), a mind-boggling ratio of over 1,500 Palestinian civilians to one of the ‘Chosen’.  But when it came to ‘ground fighting’, 64 Israeli soldiers were killed compared to 281 Palestinian partisans, a 4.4 to 1 ratio.  Despite all the Israeli air cover support and high tech protective gear, the Israelis took heavy military casualties when their invasion came down to a more level fighting field where poorly equipped partisans are willing to die for their homes and liberation.

The War Criminals:  Who are They and What are their Crimes

Clearly the commanding officers of the Israeli armed forces, the self-styled Israel Defense Forces, who are responsible for the systematic land, aerial and maritime attacks on civilians, hospitals, schools, refugee sanctuaries are first in line for the war crimes docket. They should be joined by Israeli military strategists and policy makers who systematically and criminally targeted homes, neighborhoods, water purification and sewage plants, electrical grids and power plants in a deliberate planned effort to destroy any possibility of normal daily existence for almost 2 million Palestinians: They have committed grave Crimes against Humanity, according to the Geneva Conventions and legal standards established at Nuremburg.  There is eye-witness testimony and documentation showing middle and lower rank soldiers engaged in wanton shootings of school children, shoppers and mothers with babies fleeing combat zones.  War crimes prosecutions cannot be confined merely to a few dozen senior officers – these crimes were committed at all level of the IDF.

Political leaders and policymakers, starting with Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and his Cabinet, leading Party and Knesset members, who were the prime movers in launching the blitz against Gaza and justified the massive civilian killings, clearly should be at the center of any International War Crimes Tribunal.

But what about the Israeli public, the great mass of Israeli Jews, who view themselves as morally above world public opinion despite a near-universal revulsion over Israel’s crimes?  More than 90% of Israeli Jews gave unstinting support to the ongoing blood bath, knowing, indeed cheering daily from grandstands erected on hills overlooking Gaza, the criminal consequences of their support – they also are an essential part of this criminal enterprise.  They celebrated the carnage and they violently attacked the few Israelis who openly questioned this ‘war’.  Israelis have no claim to ‘innocent ignorance’; they cannot call this a “tragic conflict between two peoples”.  No Israeli can absolve himself by claiming ignorance of the nature of the crimes committed in their name – nor do they want to claim ignorance!  The majority of informed Israeli Jews demanded this war from the beginning, many joining racist marches with banners and chants demanding ‘Death to Arabs’!  They wear their endorsement of the Gaza holocaust as a badge of honor.  Ninety percent of the Jewish citizens in Israel rejected any humanitarian ceasefire: Newspaper columnists and the vast majority of letter writers in the daily press argued openly for extermination!  Self-declared war criminals are feted as Israeli heroes by their overseas brethren who hasten to endorse or even join the slaughter.  Gidon Levy, Haaretz’s lonely dissident journalist, is spat upon in all the fashionable cafes and has to take his coffee at home now.

What can be said about the ‘moralists’, the famous chief rabbis, who have no qualms in piously urging on the mass slaughter:  is there a High Court of Religious Authority to hold these “holy men” accountable for their incitement of war crimes?  What about the worldwide network of international Zionist organizations who secure billions of dollars of the murderous arms shipments from the corrupt and craven US Congress and Executive?  Are they not accomplices to genocide before and after the fact?

However, it is a blatant, conscious lie and fabrication to claim, like some phony critics on the ‘Left’, that ‘America shares responsibility’ for the Israel’s crimes against Gaza.  Who asked the American people to endorse this slaughter?  When did the American people organize a “lobby” to buy Congressional votes?  Did the American people organize multi-million dollar fundraisers at the luxurious Waldorf-Astoria where Republican and Democratic elected leaders pledged to give an additional $225 million dollars in missiles and tanks to Israel, to resupply its arsenal used up in razing thousands of homes and obliterating entire families in Gaza?  Any serious researcher, who has looked at American domestic politics, knows that the Presidents of the 52 Major American (sic) Jewish Organizations are complicit in Israel’s terror bombings of Gaza.  And polls show that a majority of young Americans sympathize with the rights of the Palestinians…

Is there any clause in the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal proceedings which can bring charges against the overseas accomplices to war crimes?  What about prominent leftist academics and ‘progressive’ journalists who cover-up for the overseas accomplices by falsely accusing “America” (and implying the American people) in this slaughter?

The Ties that Bind

We have identified a chain linking Israel’s political elite, military command and the mass of the Israeli public directly to war crimes and genocide with the active material complicity of overseas Zionist organizations.  They act as one cohesive force plunging forward into the blood and gore of total war against the Palestinians – the original inhabitants and rightful owners of what is now called ‘Israel’.

The question arises: What unites them in this horrible undertaking? What moral blindness so afflicts them that they ignore the bookshelves cluttered with the writings and humanist teachings of Spinoza, Kant, Babel, or Buber?  Are these tribal loyalties derived from Old Testament tales of vengeance and infanticide?  Are these expressions of an ethno-religious fanaticism linked to the quest for a regional empire and plunder?

Racist ideology and its virulent expression both from high office and the “Jewish Street” are wide-spread and open.  Degrading Palestinians, while claiming to be a superior race above the laws of the rest of the world, serves to justify all crimes against the people of Gaza.  Near and far, this expression of “collective Jewish identity and solidarity”, based on ethnic-religious superiority always threatened by hostile, inferior ‘native’ people, accounts for the unflinching support by top Hollywood moguls, Ivy League professors, French intellectuals, British peers and prominent investment Wall Street bankers.

Ideological affinities and ethno-religious loyalties aside, many Israeli Jews also have a major,  material stake in robbing and expelling the people of Palestine:   Seized Palestinian lands result in new cheap subsidized housing, swimming pools for Jews only, developments on lands where olive groves once flourished and extended families had lived and died.  Middle and working class Jews obtain free housing; real estate speculators seize choice ocean front properties for luxury condos and tourist destinations.  Building contractors secure lucrative construction contracts from the state.   Pillage forms  an important material basis for Israel’s high standard of living, many times higher than that of Palestinians, much higher that that of Israel’s non-Jewish population and higher even than the Americans who have been forced to subsidize the ‘Jewish State’ for almost 50 years.

Equally important, Israel’s assault on Gaza serves as a testing ground for its weapons of mass destruction and its anti-missile Dome.  In this regard, the slaughter in Gaza serves as a dress rehearsal (and a graphic warning) for new wars across the region in association with the US and its clients.  NSA analyst Edward Snowden’s latest documents reveal that Israel works in tandem with the US throughout North Africa, the Middle East, The Persian Gulf, South Asia and Islamic countries in choosing targets and making war plans…  Greater Israel is no longer the crackpot dream of Jewish visionaries: it is underway and its bloody beginnings in Gaza foreshadow bigger and bloodier wars against humanity in the future.

Conclusion

Israel’s total war against Gaza has provoked condemnation from millions of people around the world, greater outrage at their crimes against humanity, and calls for an international war crimes tribunal.  If such a tribunal were to be convoked, the question arises of how wide the net should be cast – where to draw the line between leaders, soldiers, masses and complicit overseas supporters, all implicated to one degree or another?  How many ‘willing accomplices’ to mass murder should be investigated and tried?

The rising horror and indignation has isolated Israel from the greater majority of mankind, including from thousands of Jews – but it has hardened its leaders and aroused its powerful core of influential supporters, especially in the US.

Bitter-enders, in their luxurious suites, are on the counter-offensive.  Leading Hollywood producers denounce the morally outraged actors who have dared to criticize Israel’s war crimes in Gaza, labeling them ‘anti-Semites’ and threatening them with a lifetime of blacklists from any further work in ‘film or on stage’.  Powerful Zionist organizations, not only secure US opposition to any UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli war crimes, but unanimous (100%) Congressional and White House approval and an ‘emergency allocation’ of over $250 million tax-payer dollars’ to re-supply Israel with the bombs and missiles it had dropped on the people of Gaza.  The hardliners, who speak for the Presidents of the 52 Major American Jewish Organizations, have not relented in their support for Israel’s carnage even in the face of hundreds of thousands of demonstrators marching around the world to support the rights of the people of Palestine.  The hardliners openly flaunt their blind support for Israel’s war crimes.  These fanatics are convinced that every critic of Israel’s war crimes, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jew or atheist, is an anti-Semite, a pervert or terrorist to be censored or crushed!  Inside the Zionist bunker there is an iron-fisted reinforcement of loyalty to Israel, while outside, there is the smooth outpouring of propaganda which minimize Israel’s war crimes and vehement denials of overseas complicity with genocide.

Epilogue:  A Dialogue between Zionists

The Right Zionist says to the Left, “Crimes at the service of Greater Israel are virtues.”  The Left replies “There are crimes but America is ultimately responsible”.

A shrewd old Zionist observer comments with approval: “It’s our division of labor: the Right Zionists defend Israel and the Left Zionists confuse its critics.”

Jul 292014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

Obama-Syria

Introduction

Chaos reigns and spreads as enraged leaders in the US, Europe and their clients and allies pursue genocidal wars.

Mercenary wars in Syria; Israel’s terror bombing on Gaza; proxy wars in the Ukraine, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Somalia.

Tens of millions of refugees flee scenes of total destruction.  Nothing is sacred.  There are no sanctuaries.  Homes, schools, hospitals and entire families are targeted for destruction.

Chaos by Design

At the center of chaos, the wild-eyed President Obama strikes blindly, oblivious of the consequences, willing to risk a financial debacle or a nuclear war.  He enforces sanctions against Iran; imposes sanctions on Russia; sets up missile bases five launch minutes from Moscow; sends killer drones against Pakistan, Yemen and Afghanistan; arms mercenaries in Syria; trains and equips Kurds in Iraq and pays for Israel’s savagery against Gaza.

Nothing works.

The Chaos President is blind to the fact that starving one’s adversaries does not secure submission:  it unites them to resist.  Regime change, imposing proxies by force and subterfuge, can destroy the social fabric of complex societies:  Million of peasants and workers become uprooted refugees. Popular social movements are replaced by organized criminal gangs and bandit armies.

Central America, the product of decades of US direct and proxy military interventions, which prevented the most basic structural changes, has become a chaotic, unlivable inferno for millions.  Tens of thousands of children flee from their ‘free market’- induced mass poverty and militarized state and gangster violence.  Children refugees at the US border are arrested in mass, and imprisoned in makeshift detention camps, subject to psychological, physical and sexual abuse by officials and guards on the inside.  On the outside, these pitiful children are exposed to the racist hatred of a frightened US public unaware of the dangers these children are escaping and the US government’s role in creating these hells.

The US-backed Kiev aviation authorities re-directed international passenger airlines to fly over war zones bristling with anti-aircraft missiles while Kiev’s jets bombed the rebellious cities and towns.  One flight was shot down and nearly 300 civilians perished.  Immediately an explosion of accusations from Kiev blaming Russian President Putin flooded Western media with no real facts to explain the tragedy/crime.  War-crazy President Obama and the slavering prime ministers of the EU ejaculated ultimatums, threatening to convert Russia into a pariah state.  ‘Sanctions, sanctions, everywhere . . .  but first… France must complete its $1.5 billion sale to the Russian navy.’  And the City of London exempts the Russian oligarchs from the ‘sanctions’, embedded as they are in London’s money-laundering, parasitical FIRE (Fire, Insurance and Real Estate) economy. The Cold War has returned and has taken an ugly turn… with exceptions…for business.

Confrontation among nuclear powers is imminent:  And the maniacal Baltic States and Poland bray the loudest for war with Russia, oblivious to their positions on the front lines of incineration…

Each day Israel’s war machine chews up more bodies of Gaza’s children while spitting out more lies.  Cheering Israeli Jews perch on their fortified hills to celebrate each missile strike on the apartments and schools in the densely populated Shejaiya neighborhood of besieged Gaza. A group of orthodox and secular entrepreneurs in Brooklyn have organized group tours to visit the Holy Sites by day and enjoy the Gaza pyrotechnics by night . . . night goggles to view the fleeing mothers and burning children are available at a small extra charge…

Again the US Senate votes unanimously in support of Israel’s latest campaign of mass murder – no crime is depraved enough to ruffle the scruples of America’s leaders.  They hew close to a script from the 52 Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations.  Together they embrace a Beast from the Apocalypse gnawing on the flesh and bones of Palestine.

But, Sacre Bleu!  France’s Zionists have prevailed on the ‘President-Socialiste’ Hollande.  Paris bans all anti-Israel demonstrations despite the clear reports of genocide.  Demonstrators supporting the Gazan resistance are gassed and assaulted by special riot police – ‘Socialist’ Hollande serves the demands of powerful Zionist organizations while trashing his country’s republican traditions and its sacred ‘Rights of Man’.

The young protestors of Paris fought back with barricades and paving stones in the finest traditions of the Paris Commune waving the flags of a free Palestine.  Not a single ‘red banner’ was in sight:  The French ‘left’ were under their beds or off on vacation.

There are ominous signs away from the killing fields.  The stock market is rising while the economy stagnates.  Wild speculators have returned in their splendor widening the gap between the fictitious and real economy before the ‘deluge’, the chaos of another inevitable crash.

In industrial America’s once great Detroit, clean water is shut-off to tens of thousands of poor citizens unable to pay for basic services.   In the midst of summer, urban families are left to defecate in hallways, alleyways and empty lots.  Without water the toilets are clogged, children are not washed.  Roscoe, the master plumber, says the job is way beyond him.

According to our famed economists, the economy of Detroit is ‘recovering . . . profits are up, it’s only the people who are suffering’.  Productivity has doubled, speculators are satisfied; pensions are slashed and wages are down; but the Detroit Tigers are in first place.

Public hospitals everywhere are being closed.  In the Bronx and Brooklyn, emergency rooms are overwhelmed.   Chaos! Interns work 36 hour shifts . . . and the sick and injured take their chances with a sleep-deprived medic.  Meanwhile, in Manhattan, private clinics and ‘boutique’ practices for the elite proliferate.

Scandinavians have embraced the putschist power grab in Kiev.  The Swedish Foreign Minister Bildt bellows for a new Cold War with Russia.  The Danish emissary and NATO leader, Rasmussen, salivates obscenely at the prospect of bombing and destroying Syria in a replay of NATO’s ‘victory’ over Libya.

The German leaders endorse the ongoing Israeli genocide against Gaza; they are comfortably protected from any moral conscience by their nostalgic blanket of ‘guilt’ over Nazi crimes 70 years ago.

Saudi-funded Jihadi terrorists in Iraq showed their “infinite mercy” by… merely driving thousands of Christians from ancient Mosul.  Nearly 2,000 years of a continuous Christian presence was long enough!  At least most escaped with their heads still attached.

Chaos Everywhere

Over one hundred thousand agents of the US National Security Agency are paid to spy on two million Muslim citizens and residents in the USA.  But for all the tens of billions of dollars spent and tens of millions of conversations recorded, Islamic charities are prosecuted and philanthropic individuals are framed in ‘sting operations’.

Where the bombs fall no one knows, but people flee.  Millions are fleeing the chaos.

But there is no place to go!  The French invade half a dozen African countries but the refugees are denied refuge in France.  Thousands die in the desert or drown crossing the Med.  Those who do make it, are branded criminals or relegated to ghettos and camps.

Chaos reigns in Africa, the Middle East, Central America and Detroit.  The entire US frontier with Mexico has become a militarized detention center, a multi-national prison camp.  The border is unrecognizable to our generation.

Chaos reigns in the markets.  Chaos masquerades as trade sanctions:  Iran yesterday, Russia today and China tomorrow. Washington, Watch out!  Your adversaries are finding common ground, trading, forging agreements, building defenses; their ties are growing stronger.

Chaos reigns in Israel. War-obsessed Israelis discover that the Chosen People of God can also bleed and die, lose limbs and eyes in the alleyways of Gaza where poorly armed boys and men stand their ground.  When the cheers turn to jeers, will they re-elect Bibi, their current kosher butcher?  The overseas brethren, the fundraisers, the lobbyists and the armchair verbal assassins will automatically embrace some new face, without questions, regrets or (god forbid!) self-criticism –if it’s ‘good for Israel and the Jews’ it’s got to be right!

Chaos reigns in New York.  Judicial rulings favor the pirates and their vulture funds demanding one-thousand percent returns on old Argentine bonds.  If Argentina rejects this financial blackmail and defaults, shock waves will ripple throughout global financial markets.  Creditors will tremble in uncertainty:  Fears will grow over a new financial crash.  Will they squeeze out another trillion-dollar bailout?

But where’s the money?  Printing presses are working day and night. There are only a few life boats . . . enough for the bankers and Wall Street, the other ninety-nine percent will have to swim or feed the sharks.

The corrupted financial press now advises warlords on which country to bomb and politicians on how to impose economic sanctions; they no longer provide sound economic information or advise investors on markets.  Their editorial rants will incite an investor flight to buy king-sized mattresses for stuffing as the banks fail.

The US President is on the verge of a mental breakdown: He’s a liar of Munchausen proportions with a bad case of political paranoia, war hysteria and megalomania.  He’s gone amok, braying, ‘I lead the world: its US leadership or chaos’.  Increasingly the world has another message:  ‘It’s the US and chaos.’

Wall Street is abandoning him.  The Russians have double-crossed him.  The Chinese merchants are now doing business everywhere we used to be and we ought to be.  They’re playing with loaded dice.  The stubborn Somalis refuse to submit to a Black President:  they reject this ‘ML King with drones’ . . . The Germans suck on their thumbs in total stupor as Americans monitor and record their every conversation…for their own safety!  “Our corporations are ingrates after all we have done for them”, the First Black President whines.  “They flee from our taxes while we subsidize their operations!”

Final Solutions: The End of Chaos

The only solution is to move on:  Chaos breeds chaos. The President strives to project his ‘Leadership’.  He asks his close advisers very hard questions:  “Why can’t we bomb Russia, just like Israel bombs Gaza?  Why don’t we build an ‘Iron Dome’ over Europe and shoot down Russian nuclear missiles while we fire upon Moscow from our new bases in Ukraine? Which countries will our ‘Dome’ protect?  I am sure that the people of East Europe and the Baltic States will gladly make the supreme sacrifice.  After all, their leaders were at the very front frothing for a war with Russia.  Their reward, a nuclear wasteland, will be a small price to ensure our success!”

The Zionist lobby will insist our ‘Iron Dome’ covers Israel.  But the Saudis may try to bribe the Russians to spare the oil fields as Moscow targets the US missile bases near Mecca.  Our radio-active allies in the Middle East will just have to relocate to a new Holy Land.

Do Obama and his advisers imagine reducing the Asian population by a billion or two?  Do they plan several hundred Hiroshimas because the Chinese crossed the  President’s ‘red lines’:  China’s economy and trade grew too fast, expanded too far, it was too competitive, too competent, too successful at gaining market shares, and they ignored our warnings and our unparalleled military might.

Most of Asia will inhale nuclear dust, millions of Indians and Indonesians will perish as collateral damage.  Their survivors will feast on ‘radiated fish’ in a glowing sea.

Beyond Chaos:  The New American Way:

Because our ‘Iron Dome’ will have failed us, we will have to re-emerge out of toxic ashes and crawl from our bunkers, dreaming of a New America free from wars and poverty.  The Reign of Chaos will have ended.  The ‘peace and order’ of the graveyard will reign supreme.

The emperors will be forgotten.

And we never will have found out who fired that missile at the doomed Malaysian airliner with its 300 passengers and crew.  We will have lost count of the thousands of Palestinian parents and children slaughtered in Gaza by the Chosen People of Israel.  We will not know how the sanctions against Russia panned out.

It won’t matter in the post-nuclear age, after the Chaos…

Jul 152014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

Leading management consultants, top government officials and prominent financial journalists are proposing, what they dub, “labor reforms” as the solution for double-digit unemployment and underemployment, economic stagnation and the decline of capital investments.

“Labor Reform” as the Concentration of Power and Profits

First of all, the term “labor reform” is just a euphemism for labor regression, the reversal  of laws and practices that workers and employees secured through decades of struggle against employers.

The idea that “labor reforms” would create jobs for the unemployed has been tried and disproven over the past decade. Throughout Europe, in particular Spain, Portugal, Greece, Ireland and France, laws facilitating firings, pay differentials between short-term and long-term contract workers and speed-ups have not reduced unemployment, which still remains at depression levels.

What neo-liberal economists and journalists call “labor market flexibility” is really all about  increasing the power of the bosses to impose reductions in wages, dominate and dictate work rules, intensify management bullying in the workplace and  fire workers without just cause or redress.  Likewise “wage flexibility” means giving management the exclusive power to unilaterally lower wages, to alter work contracts, to stratify payments between workers, to downgrade job categories in order to lower wages and to increase output, and to pit unemployed workers against employed workers, temporary workers against long-term workers.

The Consequences of “Labor Reform”:  Rising Inequalities

Labor reforms” are not policies designed to end unemployment, encourage economic recovery and increase capital expenditure. They are not an economic strategy. The principle goal is to concentrate power in the hands of the bosses in order to lower labor costs, increase profits and double-up production from a reduced workforce.

The growing disparity of power between capital and labor resulting from “labor reforms” is the key factor producing inequality. Neo-liberals attribute growing inequality to technological changes, ignoring the fact that it is the growing power of capital that determines how productivity gains, from the introduction of technological innovations, are distributed between capital and labor.

Labor Reform” and the Astronomical Rise of Workplace Bullying

Most liberals focus on the problems of sexual harassment and intra-working class bullying.  These problems certainly require attention and correction. But far more pervasive and with far-reaching consequential is management harassment of all workers of both genders. Because ‘labor reforms’ allow management to fire workers without due process and because union shop stewards do not exist in 88% of the private and public workplaces, management intervenes in everyday workplaces, arbitrarily increasing work assignments and downgrading work performance. And many times it does so with verbal and some times, physical abuse. Management no longer faces workplace solidarity: it can abuse workers, isolate and harangue them, threaten and dictate ultimatums. Any self-defense is immediately interpreted as insubordination and the worker is fired – an example to others to unconditionally submit. Intimidation takes the form of hiring temporary low-wage workers to compete with permanent employees, or threatening to ‘relocate’ the factory. Macro and micro personal bullying is today an integral part of capital – labor relations.

Bullying has an economic function – it is designed to increase output, inculcate obedience and raise profits. But management bullying has profound negative psycho-social effects on workers. Verbal abuse, face to face intimidation, arbitrary downgrading without recourse and other everyday indignities cause depression, a loss of self-worth dignity. This leads  to self-abuse, worker and family violence and/or a ‘chain of bullying’ of those below … children, spouses, neighbors and outsiders (immigrants).

The bullying by management does not merely express itself in victimizing workers but also in forcing them to enter in “co-operative relations” where they are supposed to “share” tasks, responsibilities and innovations, without rewards or say in the distribution of material benefits or in the shaping of workplace power relations. It’s bad enough to be bullied and exploited, its worse to be forced to co-operate with management bullies, to smile at indignities and praise the degrading relationships.

The Most Vulnerable:  Unemployed, Temporary and Young Workers

The most brutalized sectors of the workforce are the unemployed and temporary young workers, which the neo-liberal ideologues argue will be the beneficiaries of “labor market flexibility”.  In fact, lowering the status of employed workers has not created jobs for the unemployed.  Temporary workers are hired at the lowest level, paid less than half the wage of permanent workers and can be fired with no notice. Most young ‘temps’ work with the promise of a permanent job and are driven to compete with a multitude of others . . .  yet only a few are rehired when the contract ends and, even among them, it is usually another temporary contract. Unemployed workers are subject to intense interviews that go far beyond their work capabilities: they are interrogated regarding their readiness to obey, submit and collaborate with management—this is a key factor in getting hired. Temporary workers are encouraged by management to exceed existing work norms, to work overtime without extra payment, thus fostering animosity and hostility among permanent workers. The unemployed are there to pressure the temp; the temp is employed to compete with the permanent; the young are hired to replace older workers near retirement age to lower pension payments. Veteran workers fear that the younger workers they are assigned to train will then take their jobs or force them into early retirement with a loss of their pension and benefits. Management fosters distrust, hostility, competition and bullying among workers which undermines solidarity by dividing workers between temps and ‘permanent’ workers so they can dominate, intimidate and exploit both.

The on-going drive to strip workers of all protective social legislation and eliminate trade union organization in order to increase profits has allowed capitalists to lessen capital investments in job creating activities. Management bullying at the workplace has become endemic because individual workers have no redress, lack solidarity and have the “choice” of submitting to daily abuse until it become unbearable, or quitting. Management can always find cheap replacements that are more submissive, more willing to endure added job tasks for lesser pay. In many cases, especially among public sector employees, management bullying is a tool to remove and replace competent professionals with political or family cronies. Organizational loyalty replaces professional competence, leading to a decline of public service and advocacy for the citizens, especially the most vulnerable.

Labor Market Reform as a Cover for the Failures of Capital

As we have noted, stripping labor of its rights and concentrating power in the hands of management has not created jobs. The reason is that unemployment and underemployment is a result of the behavior of the capitalist class. They are not investing in job creation!

Instead CEO’s are paying higher dividends to big stockholders, investment bankers and hedge funds. Corporate directors are channeling billions into acquisitions, buying out competitors and monopolizing markets or simply “broadening the portfolio”. They reap huge salaries and bonuses.

Corporate strategic planners and accountants relocate corporate offices overseas and stash hundreds of billions of dollars offshore to avoid taxes while reducing the availability of capital for job-creating investments at home.

The corporate elite relocates plants and operations “off-shore” to low-wage countries, in the process firing millions of workers and thus creating a massive pool of unemployed workers. ‘Capital flexibility’, not ‘labor inflexibility’ (job protection), is the decisive factor generating and maintaining high unemployment and underemployment: Capital has the “flexibility” to acquire existing firms instead of creating new plants and jobs; it has the ‘flexibility’ to ‘offshore’ its operations and displace millions and it has the ‘flexibility’ to hoard funds and profits overseas, hidden from domestic taxes.

Conclusion

The entire argument for “labor reform” and labor flexibility to create jobs is entirely without merit. Worse it is a subterfuge to cover up the fact that it is “capital flexibility”, which is the cause of unemployment.

Moreover, the vast imbalance between financial and productive investments has led to the diminution of stable well-paying jobs in productive sectors. The movement by the corporate and financial elite toward a high unemployment strategy is predicated on its supreme control over the executive branch of government at the top and iron-fisted control over the workplace at the bottom.

Political-corporate integration is at its highest point in history: “flexible capital”, unrestrained movements of capital, is the dominant state ideology. The inability of trade unions and other organized sectors to challenge state policy has led to their total subjection to threats of capital flight and their acceptance of the imposition of “labor reforms” destroying the social basis for organization.

Capital-State integration at the top is accompanied by worker fragmentation and isolation at the workplace. Here “labor reform” plays a major role in sustaining management absolutism: corporate power at the top corrupts and absolute power at the workplace absolutely corrupts – to paraphrase and adapt Lord Acton to the 21st century.

Workplace bullying by management, is the starting point in an extended chain or domination and exploitation that stretches from the highest levels of corporate headquarters to the lowest office and workplace. Frustrated atomized workers suffering indignities do not strike and do not vote.  They are the silent majority who tell the pollsters they oppose Wall Street, they want a national health system for their family, affordable higher education for their children and stable, secure employment for themselves—but feel powerless and voiceless!

This majority needs a movement to impose ‘capital reforms’: an end to capital flight, mergers, acquisitions and hoarding instead of capital investments. Perhaps the starting point is workplace reform: organizing and fighting management bullying in every day work.

Another response to the escalation of managements workplace bullying is the growth of self-employment, as skilled workers turn to small-scale enterprises and self-managed co-operatives to free themselves from managers constantly looking over their shoulders, barking for greater output and demanding “extra hours and overtime” without compensation.

Decades earlier, a whole generation was raised with the understanding that employment in a larger firm was a collegial experience of sharing knowledge and advancing through meritorious achievements. Today, few skilled workers hold that view:  orporate employment involves a merciless “grind”, abrupt changes in ownership, radical restructuring, high stress workloads and perpetual job insecurity.

The risk of exiting to small-scale individual enterprises may be preferable to the strains and indignities of everyday corporate bullying, even in the public sector. But the bankruptcy rates for small independents remain high.

Socialism anybody?

Jul 072014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

There is no question that over the past decade and a half, Europe, the US and Israel have engaged in a series of bloody wars, inequalities have increased throughout the globe, economic crisis has become endemic and, more recently, right-wing military and civilian regimes have swept to power throughout Asia, North Africa, Europe and Canada.

Yet, despite this generally gloomy picture, important positive developments have emerged raising the possibility of fundamental changes to reverse the current reactionary wave.  I will proceed by outlining these positive developments, taking account of the retrograde context in which they occur.

Reaction and Progress in Asia

The macro-political-economic picture in Asia could not be darker: Right-wing regimes rule in all the major countries. There is a military junta in Thailand and a military-civilian regime in Pakistan.  In Japan, a right-wing Prime Minister is committed to re-arming and expanding its military power.  Rightwing rulers have taken power in Australia, Indonesia, South Korea and India.  In China, inequalities intensify while the number of billionaires and millionaires will soon exceed those in the US.  Regimes in Afghanistan and Pakistan support US military intervention and drone attacks within their territory.

In the face of this reactionary setting, there is the rising class struggle of millions of Chinese workers, who have secured major gains in salaries and wages in the course of the last decade, averaging over 10% per year.  The cumulative gains have led to the doubling of monthly wages.  The main reason worker wages have increased can be found in their willingness to engage in strikes, demonstrations and other forms of militant class action.

Rising wages in China have enormous positive global consequences.  Many corporations have relocated from the coastal cities to the interior, thus ‘proletarianizing’ the provinces and widening and deepening the scope for militant labor action.  Meanwhile, many foreign and Chinese corporations have relocated their factories to low wage countries like Cambodia, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Laos, bringing intensified class struggle. In recent years, militant strikes and violent protests have broken out in Cambodia, Vietnam and Bangladesh.

There are indications that US capitalists may be ‘on-shoring’ their investments, i.e. re-locating factories and business back to the US, as wages and militancy rise in China and decline in the US.  With the drying up of China as the world’s reserve pool of passive, cheap workers, the global labor market tightens increasing the capacity of workers to successfully struggle for better working conditions and wages.

Chinese outflows of capital this year will exceed inflows, for the first time.  These outflows include speculative investments in high-end real estate in the West and greater investments in extractive sectors in Africa, Latin America, Oceana, Asia, Southern Europe and Ukraine.  This expansion of productive investments will expand the working class and lead to more workers struggles.

In summary, the sharp and sustained rise in Chinese wages, resulting from the class struggle, has world historical significance as it ripples through the global economy by setting in motion a chain of positive socio-political movements.

The Larger Significance of the Afghan War

The prolonged US war in Afghanistan, now in its 13th year, and Washington’s defeat and retreat in the face of an unconquered Taliban national resistance, has enormous consequences for US empire-building, as well as domestic public opinion and nationalist resistance movements worldwide.

First and foremost the war has turned the vast majority of Americans against new military interventions, especially those involving ground troops.  The “Afghan Syndrome” (replacing the ‘Vietnam Syndrome’ of the 1970’s and 1980’s) has become an obstacle to the launching of new military empire-building projects.

Obama’s ‘humanitarian’ intervention in Libya was confined to bombing cities and infrastructure while unable to send American ground troops to effectively occupy the country, set up a secure puppet government and seize the valuable oil fields.  As a result, its flimsy puppet government in Tripoli has collapsed and Libyan oil production is minimal.  Libya is a fragmented ‘failed state’ ruled by tribal armies with its once modern infrastructure in ruin.

Likewise the US is forced to wage war against the secular nationalist government in Syria via proxy jihadi mercenaries, as the “Afghan Syndrome” blocks greater and more direct US troop involvement.

Despite enormous pressure on the US President and Congress to launch a war against Iran from Israel’s fifth column, the so-called ‘Israel Lobby’, the ‘Afghan syndrome’ has limited Washington to rely on economic sanctions.   The uncontrolled, violent deterioration in the Middle East caused by US overt and covert wars has forced an opening for diplomatic negotiations with Teheran – to the fury of militarists in Tel Aviv and their US agents.  In other words, the defeat of the US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, as well as the enormous and destructive cost of a prolonged occupation to the US economy, has weakened the capacity of the US Empire to invade, occupy and pillage resource-rich adversaries, today and in the near future.

How Middle East Wars for Israel Weaken the US Presence in Latin America and Asia

Washington has thrown away trillions of dollars of public money and suffered major casualties in pursuit of endless wars in the Middle East, which were vigorously promoted by the domestic Zionist power configuration at the behest of Israel.

Because of this influential power configuration, the US has lost significant economic, political and diplomatic influence in its traditional spheres of control in Latin America and Asia.  US market shares in both regions have declined.  New regional organizations, excluding the US, have proliferated throughout Latin America.  China has expanded its own lucrative trade relations throughout both regions, further eroding US hegemony.

While Zionist influence over US policy is pernicious, eroding domestic sovereignty and undermining democracy within the US, the focus of US policy on the interests of Israel has clearly undermined the US presence in Latin America and Asia.

As long as the US continues to intervene in the Middle East, it will be unable to effectively intervene against popular uprisings and center-left governments in Latin America.  By channeling its resources to prop up hereditary tyrants in the Gulf and Egypt’s brutal military junta, the US has not been able pursue its more traditional role in Latin America.

The US has plenty of regional allies and clients in the Middle East and North Africa, but they lack popular legitimacy and rule through terror and repression.  In Turkey, mass protests have erupted against the Erdogan regime, including important sectors of the militant Turkish working class.  Kurds, Islamists and leftists have gained influence inside Turkey and along its borders.  Meanwhile, Turkey’s regional trading partners, such as Iraq, are in turmoil and trade has collapsed.  While Prime Minister Erdogan may win elections, his legitimacy among the population is tarnished and his ambition to be a major regional leader is severely diminished.

Israel continues to extract billions of dollars in annual US aid (tribute) while dispossessing and starving the Palestinians. Nevertheless the growing internationalboycott and divestment movement is undermining the power of Tel Aviv’s overseas “lobbies” to direct US and EU policy.  Israel has never been so isolated, feared and despised in the eyes of the world’s people.  International public opinion polls have repeatedly ranked Israel’s policies as a major source of war and instability in the world today.

In the US and EU, more voices than ever are speaking out against Israel’s crimes against humanity, despite the campaigns by major Zionist organizations to blacklist, threaten and punish critical voices.  Increasingly the power of the Israel lobby relies on its numerically small Zionist power elite – the millionaires and billionaires who own the mass media and who bankroll its political campaigns.  The leaders of major Jewish organizations in the US are facing a significant decline in membership especially among young generations of American Jews, unwilling to commit their energies and resources to a militarist, racist Israel.

The Gulf States:  Precarious Clients, Dubious Allies

            The Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia, have offered “paper” support for US wars in the Middle East at a cost.  Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Bahrain rule over their restive populations by coercion.  Majorities are demanding democratic freedom and, in some cases, have engaged in large-scale protests despite brutal repression.  US military bases in the region will be vulnerable when these pro-democracy majorities finally overthrow the family-based monarchic dictatorships.

Moreover, the Gulf regimes are playing a dangerous double game:  They publicly support the US while secretly funding the Sunni Islamist terrorists opposing US proxies, (the ‘moderate’ rebels) in Syria and the puppet government in Iraq.  The Gulf States financed the bloody ‘regime changes’ in Egypt and Libya, while the US may have been content (and better served) to arrange power-sharing agreements.  The Saudi monarchy has joined with Israel in trying to sabotage any US negotiations with Iran.  While, on paper, the US may have ‘clients and allies’ throughout the Middle East, these lack legitimacy, stability and trust . . . weak foundations from which to project US power.  They are a constant drain on financial resources and have no public sympathy among the US electorate.

Europe:  Crisis, Expansion and Resistance

While the European Union expands its territory with the de-facto annexation of the western Ukraine and Moldavia, and NATO stations its military facilities on the frontiers of Russia, the EU’s economy is suffering from the longest and deepest period of recession and stagnation since the Great Depression.

After six years of crisis with no end in sight, objective reality refutes any remaining notions of capitalism in Europe as a ‘self-rectifying’ system capable of sustaining growth and prosperity.  On the contrary, with inequalities widening and wages, salaries and the social safety net in sharp decline, class polarization is growing.  All the objective conditions for a revival of class struggle are present.

With even harsher retrograde measures (“austerity”) imposed on the populations by oligarchs in Brussels, workers and salaried employees, in both the public and private sectors, are showing uneven and sporadic signs of mass resistance.  This will lay the groundwork for more general and systematic confrontations in the not too distant future.

Even as the European Union overextends itself, seizing control of the western Ukraine via a repugnant and brutal proxy putsch regime, it has ignited a partisan revolt in the industrial eastern Ukraine.  Workers and employees have set up a popular democratic republic and are engaged in a war of national resistance against the EU collaborator junta in Kiev.

The EU and the US threats of harsher sanctions against Russia have provoked furious criticism from major sectors of the capitalist class in Germany, France, the US, Italy and elsewhere.  The US National Association of Manufacturers and the US Chamber of Commerce have published editorials and full-page ads in all the influential financial media, arguing that new sanctions against Russia will lead to losses of billions of dollars in trade and investments and cost hundreds of thousands of US jobs.

The significance of this current break between the capitalist class and the imperial state clearly highlights the conflict between Washington based-militarists and market-based producers and investors.  If and when this conflict deepens, there will be the potential for a broad-based, well-financed coalition opposed to the militarist vision of ‘globalization’

In the meantime, Russia and China have moved toward a new political, economic and military alliance in response to sanctions.  Trade in rubles and renminbi (instead of dollars and euros) is expanding.  The domestic economy is becoming the motor force of China’s new growth model.  Local industry is replacing European imports via “import substitution” in Russia.

In sum, Washington and Brussels’ sanctions and bellicose threats against Russia and China are having a boomerang effect.  They are costing Western manufacturers and exporters significant market shares in large dynamic countries and fomenting deep internal divisions within the ruling classes in the US and EU.

Rising Class and National Struggles in the EU

Class struggle from below intensifies in the EU.  In Greece, the leftwing partySyriza, controls the municipal governments in Athens and throughout Attica, and currently leads in the national polls.  In France, the neo-liberal, militarist, so-called “Socialist” regime of President Francois Hollande has lost credibility and hovers at 19% public support.  It wallows in economic stagnation with double-digit unemployment and an unending series of scandals.  The popular revolt against “austerity” and the Brussels dictatorship grows . . . So far, unfortunately, this public anger has been most effectively capitalized by the nationalist Right, but hopefully, the nationalist left will be re-energized by the crisis, intensify class contradictions in the near future and seize the opportunity to organize and lead.

In Spain, the nationalist left movements in the Basque country and Catalonia are challenging the Rightist regime in Madrid and the ‘neo-liberal nationalists’ in Barcelona and Bilbao.  A state crisis looms, where the vast army of unemployed youth (50%) could play a major role in radicalizing the independence movement.

Latin America:  The Center-Left, the Right and the Left

Into the second decade of the 21st century, many of the illusions of the Left and its fears about US Empire have faded.  So-called ‘21st century socialism’, has not ‘socialized’ any economies while the US has not succeeded in orchestrating regime change and installing its neo-liberal clients in any major South American countries.  The exception is Honduras, a nation in shambles, with tens of thousands of refugees fleeing the US-installed military-civilian junta – including thousands of Honduran children crowding US deportation camps.

What has emerged is a triangular struggle between established center-left regimes backed by electoral majorities, US-backed rightist parties and leftist-backed social movements and trade unions.

The US has secured support for its new Trans-Pacific Alliance from Colombia, Chile, Peru and Mexico. However, this has not undermined the independent regional trade and cooperation organizations, which exclude the US, such as UNASUR and ALBA. Both Chile and Peru, close US ‘allies’, depend far more on their trade with China than with the US.

Over the past decade, Washington has succeeded in orchestrating two coups – Honduras and Paraguay – both marginal and in decline.  But it has so far failed in three much larger and vibrant nations:  Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador.

Washington maintains seven military bases in Colombia, but Bogota has signed trade, military and political agreements with Venezuela to end cross border military incursions and mutually respect their political sovereignty.

The center-left has consolidated political power in Uruguay and Bolivia, and to a lesser degree in Brazil and Ecuador.  Nevertheless, the center-left’s dependence on agro-mineral exports and foreign finance capital has caused domestic economic stagnation.  This has led to the growth of right-wing electoral parties and violent coup-attempts in some countries while promoting the growth of significant left-led social movements and direct action in others.  In Venezuela, the right has engaged in election violence, bloody attacks by hired thugs, destructive street demonstrations with the burning of clinics and power stations, as well as an elite-orchestrated campaign to sabotage the economy.  In the midst of double-digit inflation, political street violence and a crime wave, the center-left’s popular base has been eroded in Venezuela.

Washington has used its courts to attack Argentina by ruling in favor of the so-called ‘vulture’ capitalists or speculative investment funds which had purchased Argentine debt after its severe economic crisis and are now pushing the country toward defaulting on its current foreign debt or depleting its foreign reserves to reward the ‘vultures’.

President Obama continues the US half-century boycott against Cuba in splendid isolation at home and abroad, in spite of both international and domestic opinion in favor of normal relations with Havana. The growing violent right-wing opposition against the center-left in Venezuela and Argentina has polarized their political systems.  As the right-wing advances and the governments give way, popular movements and mobilizations intensify and increase political volatility.  While the danger of right-wing takeovers is growing, so are opportunities for the Left to gain significant support from the traditional mass base of the Center-Left.

Africa:  The Historic General Strike in South Africa

While the former-nationalist rulers in South Africa, Angola, and Mozambique continue to pillage the treasury and enrich themselves in partnership with the US-EU-Chinese mining corporations, South African mine workers are creating a potentially radical alternative.  For five months, the South African platinum miners have been engaged in the longest, most disciplined and most successful strike in the history of Africa.  Despite the brutal massacre of 39 miners by the ruling black bourgeois regime (African National Congress), the opposition of the biggest global mining companies in Africa and the sellout leadership of the trade union confederation, the miners have held fast.  Following their success, trade union militants are organizing a new trade union confederation and a new workers’ party. Their leaders have introduced a new spirit of hope and struggle among millions of poor, unemployed and marginalized black Africans.

The United States:  Small Victories Can Lead to Big Movements

It is tempting to be pessimistic about progressive change in the United States with its anemic and politically irrelevant trade union federation and co-opted peace movement; the decline of independent grass-roots organizations; the co-optation of Black and Latino politicians by the Wall Street-dominated Democratic Party and the successful State crackdown on the “Occupy Movement”.

At the international level the Obama regime has increased its support for direct and proxy intervention in Syria, Iraq and the Gulf region.  Washington has given over 2 billion dollars in military aid to the brutal Egyptian military junta. Obama has released another five hundred million dollars in aid to the armed mercenary forces invading Syria. Hundreds of US Special Forces and thousands of armed ‘contractors’ have been sent to Iraq and one thousand US Marines are ready ‘off-shore’…

On the other hand there are signs of hope on the horizon. Over 80% of the US public have rejected Obama’s war mongering, especially his ambitions to ‘re-enter’ Iraq.

It was US public opinion and letters to their Congressional representatives that blocked Obama’s plan to bomb Syria.  His callous embrace of the Egyptian coup and dictator has alienated the vast majority of secular democrats and moderate Muslims in North Africa and the Middle East.

Obama’s spineless support of Israel’s settler land grabs and the ‘business-as-usual’ complicity of US corporations with radical Jewish colonists in the West Bank are increasingly opposed by the European Union, leading Christian churches (the US and Canadian Presbyterians, among others) and by the growing world-wide Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement.

In local US elections, we have seen a real, consequential socialist elected to the Seattle City Council.  The Chicago teachers union is leading a massive city-wide struggle, based in the Black and Mexican-American neighborhoods, against the draconian school closures and teacher lay-offs initiated by the ex-Wall Streeter, former Obama ‘Chief of Staff’, US-Israeli dual citizen, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel.  A broad trade union – community based coalition has formed to challenge Emmanuel’s corrupt money machine and austerity policies in the forthcoming mayoral elections.

Alternate media web sites, critical of politicians pandering to Wall Street and deeply opposed to new wars, now inform millions of American citizens as they seek their place in popular movements.

For the first time, the two principle business lobbies, the National Manufacturers Association (NAM) and the US Chamber of Commerce (USCC) have come out in public opposition to Washington’s sanctions against Russia.  The fact that big and small, local and international businesspeople recognized that US military interventions, economic sanctions and boycotts hurt their profits, limit their access to markets and cost thousands of domestic jobs is a major political breakthrough.  For over two decades, US business interests, especially Big Oil, have been bullied into silence, while Israel’s thuggish “Lobby” has successfully pushed for sanctions against Iraq and then a full-scale invasion, and then more sanctions targeting Iran, Syria and Lebanon.  The recognition that this has hurt US investors, cut access to international markets, eliminated hundreds of thousands of US jobs and caused the price of fuel to soar for hundreds of millions of US consumers has finally been brought home.  The current push for sanctions against Russia does not have the rabid support of the pro-Israel lobby and US businesses interests are effectively finding their courage to face the politically-isolated militarists in Washington and certain sectors of the military-industrial complex.  Nevertheless, this might not bode well for the Zionist push for future wars and sanctions in the Middle East.

Our hope is not a Panglossian dream.

The institutional power of the warmongers and the Wall Street-Washington revolving door is a major entrenched force in the US.  But we also should recognize that we can win and we have won elections at the local level through new community-based organizations.  We constitute ‘the mainstream’ in our opposition to the new wars in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.

The enemy, “capitalism”, is powerful, but it has manifestly failed to generate new well-paying jobs needed to sustain a decent, stable standard of living for the ‘99%’.  It cannot provide efficient, quality health care and educational opportunities for US citizens.  It cannot fund an adequate national pension system or protect and build secure communities and jobs.  No one buys into the capitalist “success stories” any more, stories that bamboozled our parents and grandparents from the 1940’s – 1990’s.  The main picture of capitalism today is one of economic breakdowns, home foreclosures, Wall Street swindles, impunity for corporate criminals, rampant corruption, prolonged crisis, declining living standards, stagnation and cut backs in vital social services.

Only in their splendid isolation, far from the American public, can the overpaid academic economists and financial media mouth-pieces boast of the victory of capitalism – but they are counting only the soaring profits and increasingly concentrated wealth of the top 1% while ignoring the impoverishment of the 99%.

We are united with the majority on the economy and in opposition to the launching of more wars abroad.  We share a clear understanding of the current oligarchical nature of the US political system.  When we move from our shared vision to effective organizing, from protest to politics, from narrow to broad issues, from Democratic Party hacks to genuine, independent grass-roots leaders, we can join the rest of humanity fighting with dignity for a better world.  We can find allies and inspiration among the hundreds of millions of Chinese workers successfully doubling their wages every seven years, among the courageous armed workers in Eastern Ukraine fighting for democracy and self-determination, among the militant miners in South Africa, among the majority of democratic socialists in Greece, among the left nationalists in the Basque and Catalan nations and the popular democrats in Egypt, Palestine, Iraq and elsewhere.

We are deeply aware of the obstacles, the human costs and the long road ahead.  Nothing is inevitable or pre-determined.  Progress depends on personal commitment and intervention.  We are not alone, we are gaining adherents and we are advancing.  Each of us has a particular national and cultural context, but we all share the universal values of freedom, social justice and solidarity. In the last analysis, it is the struggle for freedom that gives meaning to our everyday life.The institutional power of the warmongers and the Wall Street-Washington revolving door is a major entrenched force in the US.  But we also should recognize that we can win and we have won elections at the local level through new community-based organizations.  We constitute ‘the mainstream’ in our opposition to the new wars in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.

The enemy, “capitalism”, is powerful, but it has manifestly failed to generate new well-paying jobs needed to sustain a decent, stable standard of living for the ‘99%’.  It cannot provide efficient, quality health care and educational opportunities for US citizens.  It cannot fund an adequate national pension system or protect and build secure communities and jobs.  No one buys into the capitalist “success stories” any more, stories that bamboozled our parents and grandparents from the 1940’s – 1990’s.  The main picture of capitalism today is one of economic breakdowns, home foreclosures, Wall Street swindles, impunity for corporate criminals, rampant corruption, prolonged crisis, declining living standards, stagnation and cut backs in vital social services.

Only in their splendid isolation, far from the American public, can the overpaid academic economists and financial media mouth-pieces boast of the victory of capitalism – but they are counting only the soaring profits and increasingly concentrated wealth of the top 1% while ignoring the impoverishment of the 99%.

We are united with the majority on the economy and in opposition to the launching of more wars abroad.  We share a clear understanding of the current oligarchical nature of the US political system.  When we move from our shared vision to effective organizing, from protest to politics, from narrow to broad issues, from Democratic Party hacks to genuine, independent grass-roots leaders, we can join the rest of humanity fighting with dignity for a better world.  We can find allies and inspiration among the hundreds of millions of Chinese workers successfully doubling their wages every seven years, among the courageous armed workers in Eastern Ukraine fighting for democracy and self-determination, among the militant miners in South Africa, among the majority of democratic socialists in Greece, among the left nationalists in the Basque and Catalan nations and the popular democrats in Egypt, Palestine, Iraq and elsewhere.

We are deeply aware of the obstacles, the human costs and the long road ahead.  Nothing is inevitable or pre-determined.  Progress depends on personal commitment and intervention.  We are not alone, we are gaining adherents and we are advancing.  Each of us has a particular national and cultural context, but we all share the universal values of freedom, social justice and solidarity. In the last analysis, it is the struggle for freedom that gives meaning to our everyday life.

Jun 252014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

There are two major beneficiaries of the two major wars launched by the US government: one domestic and one foreign.  The three major domestic arms manufacturers, Lockheed Martin (LMT), Northrop Grumman (NOG) and Raytheon (RTN) have delivered record-shattering returns to their investors, CEOs and investment banks during the past decade and a half.  The Israeli regime is the overwhelming foreign beneficiary of the war, expanding its territory through its dispossession of Palestinians and positioning itself as the regional hegemon.  Israel benefited from the US invasion which destroyed Iraq, a major ally of the Palestinians; the invasion provided cover for massive Israel’s settler expansion in the Occupied Palestinian territories.  In the course of its invasion and occupation Washington systematically destroyed Iraq’s armed forces and civil infrastructure, shredding its complex modern society and state.  By doing so, the US occupation removed one of Israel’s major regional rivals.

In terms of cost to the United States, hundreds of thousands of soldiers who had served in the war zones have sustained severe physical and mental injuries, while thousands have died directly or indirectly through an epidemic of soldier suicides.  The invasion and occupation of Iraq has cost the United States trillions of dollars and counting.  Despite the immense costs to the American people, the military-industrial complex and the pro-Israel power configuration continue to keep the US government on a wartime economy – undermining the domestic social safety net and standard of living of many millions.

No peaceful economic activity can match the immense profits enjoyed by the military-industrial complex in war.  This powerful lobby continues to press for new wars to sustain the Pentagon’s huge budget.  As for the pro-Israel power configuration, any substantive diplomatic peace negotiations in the Middle East would end their naked land grabs, reduce or curtail new weapons transfers and undermine pretexts to sanction or attack countries, like Iran, that stand in the way of Tel Aviv’s vision of “Greater Israel”, unrivaled in the region.

The costs of almost 15 years of warfare weigh heavily on the US Treasury and electorate.  The wars have been dismal failures if not outright defeats.  New sectarian conflicts have emerged in Syria, Iraq and, now, Ukraine – opportunities for the US arms industry and the pro-Israel lobbies to make even greater profits and gain more power.

The on-going horrendous costs of past and continuing wars make the launch of new military interventions more difficult for US and Israeli militarists.  The US public expresses wide-spread discontent over the burden of the recent past wars and shows even less stomach for new wars to profit the military-industrial complex and further strengthen Israel.

War Profits

The power and influence of the military-industrial complex in promoting serial wars has resulted in extraordinary rates of profit.    According to a recent study by Morgan Stanley (cited in Barron’s, 6/9/14, p. 19), shares in the major US arms manufacturers have risen 27,699% over the past fifty years versus 6,777% for the broader market.  In the past three years alone, Raytheon has returned 124%, Northrup Grumman 114% and Lockheed Martin 149% to their investors.

The Obama regime makes a grand public show of reducing the military budget via the annual appropriation bill, and then, turns around and announces emergency supplemental funds to cover the costs of these wars. . .thereby actually increasing military spending, all the while waving the banner of ‘cost cutting’.  Obama’s theatrics have fattened the profits for the US military-industrial complex.

War profits have soared with the series of military interventions in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.  The arms industry lobbyists pressure Congressional and Pentagon decision-makers to link up with the pro-Israel lobby as it promotes even deeper direct US military involvement in Syria, Iraq and Iran.  The growing ties between Israeli and US military industries reinforce their political leverage in Washington by working with liberal interventionists and neo-conservatives.  They attack Obama for not bombing Syria and for his withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.  They now clamor for sending US troops back to Iraq and call for intervention in Ukraine.  Obama has argued that proxy wars without direct US troop involvement do not require such heavy Pentagon expenditures as the arms industry demands.  The Obama regime has presented the withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan as a necessary step to reduce US financial and military losses.  This was in response to Wall Street’s pressure to cut the budget deficit.  Obama’s attempt to meet the demands of the US financial sector has come at the price of cutting potential profit for the military industrial complex as well as infuriating Israel and its fanatical supporters in the US Congress.

The Fight over the Military Budget:  Veterans versus the Complex and the Lobby

In the face of rising domestic pressure to reduce the budget deficit and cut military spending, the US military-industrial complex and its Zionist accomplices are fighting to retain their share by eliminating programs designed to serve the health needs of active and retired soldiers.  Soaring disability costs related to the recent wars will continue for decades.  Veteran health care costs are expected to double to 15% of the defense budget in the next five years.  The huge public cost of caring for soldiers and veterans means “bad news for defense stocks” according to financial analysts (Barron’s, 6/9/14, p. 19).

This is reason  why the arms industries promote the closure of scores of Veterans Administration hospitals and a reduction in retiree benefits, using the pretext of fighting fraud, incompetence and poor quality service compared with the ‘private sector’.  The same corporate warlords and lobbyists who clamor to send US troops to back to Iraq and to new wars in Syria and Ukraine, where young lives, limbs and sanity are at great risk, are also in the forefront of a fight to slash funding for the veterans’ medical care.  Economists have long noted that the more dollars spent on veterans’ and military retirees’ health care, the less allocated for war materials, ships and aircraft. Today it is estimated that over $900 billion dollars will have been spent on long-term VA medical and disability services for veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  That number is clearly set to rise with each new intervention.

The corporate warlords are urging Congress to increase co-pays, enrollment fees and deductibles for veterans, retirees and active duty personnel enrolled in military health insurance plans, such as Tricare, as well as limiting access to the VA.

The fight over Pentagon expenditures is a struggle over war or social justice:   health services for troops and veterans versus weapons programs that fatten corporate profits for the arms industry.

Jun 172014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

Greece is experiencing a triple crisis which has a profound impact on the economy, society and political system.  The economy has experienced a deep, prolonged depression lasting six years and continuing.  Workers and employees have suffered a 40% loss in income and a commensurate decline in medical, pension, educational and welfare benefits.  The political system has witnessed a precipitous decline in electoral support for previously dominant right and center left parties and the rapid rise of  radical democratic-socialist and fascist parties.

The socio-economic effects of the crash of the economy have been exacerbated by the “austerity programs” imposed by the European Unions’ triumvirate. The economic cuts have undermined any economic recovery and accentuated the reductions in employment, social welfare and public investments.

The political consequences resulting from the extremely harsh policies of the EU and their forceful implementation by the right and center parties have been dramatic.  A vast upheaval has shaken the entire political system.  Previously dominant mainstream parties have been increasingly rejected, while formerly marginal democratic socialist and radical right wing parties have made major advances.

The political consequences of the demise of Greek capitalism require a closer look at the prospects for an electoral victory for the democratic socialists in the immediate future.

The Rise of Syriza

The rise of the democratic socialists, more specifically Syriza, has been rapid and substantial.  Between October 2009 and 2014 it has grown by a multiple of five:  In the elections of October 2009 Syriza got 4.6% of the vote (315,665); in May 2012 16.8% (1,061,928) and in the most recent elections for the Euro parliament 26.l6% (1,516,699).  In contrast the two previously dominant parties, the rightwing New Democracy (ND) and the Panhellenic Socialist Party (PASOK) have experienced a precipitous decline.  In October 2009, combined ,they got 77.4%, (5,308, 261); in May 2012, 32% (2,025,555); and in the recent Europarlimentary elections 30.7% (1,753,592).

The Greek Communist Party has also declined, despite the crises, and the militancy of its trade union sector.  In the October 2009 elections, they got 8.4% (428,151); in the June 2012 elections 4.5% (277,227); and in the 2014 elections 6.1% (347,487).

In contrast the neo-fascist Golden Dawn has grown substantially over the same period.  In the October 2009 elections Golden Dawn got .5% (23,566); in June 2012 7% (440,966); and in the Europarlimentary elections of 2014, 9.4% (536,442).

The demise of the neo-liberal right (New Democracy) is accompanied by the rise of the radical nationalist right.  The collapse of the neo-liberal social democrats (PASOK) is accompanied by the rise of the radical left (Syriza) and a new self-styled “center-left”party calling itself “The River” (POTAMI).

The current electoral map of Greece is not defined by a dominant party or coalition.  The bi-party break-down is accompanied by fragmentation and polarization.  Moreover, the most intransigent opponents of the European Union’s austerity program and its executors in Greece are profoundly divided.  The Communist Party and Golden Dawn are mortal enemies of Syriza, thus eliminating any possibility of an “anti-EU” coalition.

The same problem is evident on the Right.  New Democracy and allied parties combine for only 27.4% of the electorate and are on a downward slope.

PASOK’s embrace of the neo-liberal agenda has led to the loss of nearly 85% of its voters (2.5 million) over the past 5 years. Many of their supporters among public sector employees have turned to Syriza.

The new ‘center-left’ party, “The River”, which gained 6.7% of the electorate has yet to decide which bloc to support, essentially bargaining to see with whom it can gain the most government posts.

Given the current dynamics of declining pro-EU support and increasing radicalization, what options does Syriza have, if it is to come to power?

Syriza:  Perspectives and Options

Syriza is the only realistic political vehicle on the Left with mass support, trade union backing and the electoral machinery for forming a government.  Its political trajectory has been in ascendance – up to point.

The fundamental problem is that after its spectacular rise between 2009 and 2012, it has stagnated.  In the June 2012 elections it got 26.9% and in the May 2014 elections 26.6%.  It appears that Syriza has hit an electoral barrier.  Despite the fact that it is Greece’s leading electoral party; it appears to be unable to advance further and secure a parliamentary majority.  This raises the question of alliances with political parties to the Left or Right.  Moreover, the internal divisions within Syriza complicate any overtures to possible electoral partners.  Syriza has drawn leaders, cadres and supporters from the former Maoist, Trotskyist and radical left.  Numerous PASOK middle level leaders and electoral supporters have flocked to Syriza.  Many defected as a result of PASOK’s responsibility for the crises and support for the “austerity” pact with the EU.  In addition a number of ex-Communist trade unionists are now backing Syriza as the only realistic alternative to the Right; many have repudiated Communist Party sectarianism and hostility toward other leftist formations.  The current leadership of Syriza has, so far, been able to maintain cohesion by balancing harsh critiques of the austerity pact, which satisfies the radical sectors, with a refusal to exit the EU, which accommodates the social-democratic wing of the Party.

At some point in the coming period Syriza will have to make some hard choices,if it is to form an alternative government.  Each of the following options has advantages and disadvantages, costs and benefits.

The Radical Option

Syriza opts to ally with the Communist Party.  This is a very difficult choice as the CP demands full compliance with its program, an equal sharing of key posts in a future government and recognition of its vanguard role.  Given the fact that, electorally, the CP represents less than one-quarter of the voting strength of Syriza these are totally unacceptable terms to all sectors of the democratic left.  The CP would have to accept that it will be a minority partner and that it would have to moderate some of its radical demands.  The CP fears that Syriza is just another version of PASOK – a party that gives left signals and makes right turns.  Its basic argument  that Syriza’s refusal to exit the EU is a sign of its basic opportunism, has some merit.  But it refuses to even consider tactical electoral alliances, or offer critical support in forming municipal governments.

In any case, even if the CP and other smaller radical left groups joined a Left  coalition, it would only add 8.6% to the electoral total, resulting in a precarious parliamentary majority subject to defections from the social-democratic wing of Syriza and face constant threats of defections by Communist maximalists.

The Moderate Option

Syriza could form an alliance with the so-called center-left parties – PASOK and River parties – on the bases of a minimum program which would involve a commitment to remain in the EU based on renegotiating debt payments and the austerity programs, increasing public spending and ending the privatization of strategic economic sectors.  This opening to the Right, would endanger the internal equilibrium of Syriza:  it risks a split with the powerful radical sector, thus reducing its overall representation in Parliament.

Even if the Syriza left were to be pacified by offers of ministerial posts and promises of ‘hard negotiations’ with the EU, it is not likely to succeed in securing substantial concessions from the EU.  Sectors of the latter are likely to welcome a Greek exit.  Others will insist on full compliance with only slight modifications regarding the size of budget surpluses, increases in public spending and the terms of privatization.  For the EU, the substance of the austerity program, the scope and depth of privatization, and the obligations to meet interest payments are non-negotiable.  In other words to remain in the EU, Syriza would have to continue the basic policies of its rightwing predecessor.  To remain in the EU Syriza would have to capitulate and become an updated version of PASOK – and lose its mass base in the next elections.  Syriza leaders could procrastinate, with phony  promises of a future break with the EU when ‘the time is more propitious’ or it could exit from the EU, losing its center-left allies, but hoping to recoup new supporters through alternative policies.

The ‘Middle Road’

Syriza could continue as an independent political movement, without radical left or center-left coalitions, working to accumulate forces from the stagnant Communists and the disintegrating right-center regime.  It could use its leadership of local and regional governments to demonstrate its effectiveness and capacity to govern and ameliorate harsh national policies.  It could transform its voting pluralities in Athens and Attica into majorities via community based councils, administrating social programs, food kitchens, public works, clinics and public security.

Conclusion:  Perspectives

Syriza, in government and out of the EU, could re-allocate debt payments, based on a debt moratorium, to public investments.  It could revert to a national currency and end the fiscal constraints of the EU strait-jacket on budgets, incomes and employment.  Control over monetary policy would allow Syriza to devaluate, to raise the effective taxes on the kleptocratic millionaires.  It could stimulate the economy and end the deflationary effects of the austerity programs.  Protective tariffs, foreign exchange controls and revitalization of public sector enterprises could stimulate the local market.  Flexible monetary policy could increase tourism.  The cut-off of funding from the EU could be compensated by a 50% cut in military spending and an exit from NATO.  The government could finance start-ups of high tech, small and medium size enterprises by the large numbers of educated Greeks currently overseas or unemployed.  Greece could increase its ties with non EU countries across the globe.  Greece would pay a price, especially from the financial markets.  In the immediate period liquidity , external financing and capital flows would dry-up.  Internal opposition from sectors tied to EU markets and imports would intensify.

No doubt sectors of the old right will turn to the neo-fascist Golden Dawn Party, as part of a sharper political polarization.  Sectors of the police and army, with the support of NATO, will conspire to destabilize.

But with mass support in civil society and the civil bureaucracy, with a majority in the armed forces and police backing the constitutional government, a Syriza led recovery of sovereignty and a robust stimulus package could defeat a destabilization conspiracy.

The key to a successful Syriza government is unity and internal cohesion, and sound and equitable economic policies which balance economic growth and job creation with the gradual recovery of social benefits.

Above all Syriza should resist the populist-clientelistic policies which some of its followers will demand.  It must not take the easy and disastrous road of expanding the public bureaucracy.  There must be greater reliance on highly skilled professionals and entrepreneurial local innovators who produce useful goods for the market.  Public firms must be reformed.  The trade unions must understand that the first priority of the economic recovery is to create jobs for the 60% of unemployed youth.

Syriza is Greece’s last best hope . . . because waiting in the wings are the EU aligned oligarchs, fascists and disloyal NATO military officials eager to take advantage of any misstep in order to seize power and turn Greece into another Egypt, Thailand or Ukraine.

Jun 042014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

Violence mars Brazil anti-World Cup rallies

Violence mars Brazil anti-World Cup rallies

Introduction

For decades social critics have bemoaned the influence of sports and entertainment spectacles in ‘distracting’ workers from struggling for their class interests.  According to these analysts, ‘class consciousness’ was replaced by ‘mass’ consciousness.  They argued that atomized individuals, manipulated by the mass media, were converted into passive consumers who identified with millionaire sports heroes, soap opera protagonists and film celebrities.

The culmination of this ‘mystification’ – mass distraction –were the ‘world championships’ watched by billions around the world and sponsored and financed by billionaire corporations:  the World Series (baseball), the World Cup (soccer/futbol), and the Super Bowl (American football).

Today, Brazil is the living refutation of this line of cultural-political analysis. Brazilians have been described as ‘football crazy’.  Its teams have won the most number of World Cups.  Its players are coveted by the owners of the most important teams in Europe.  Its fans are said to “live and die with football” . . . Or so we are told.

Yet it is in Brazil where the biggest protests in the history of the World Cup have taken place.  As early as a year before the Games, scheduled for June 2014, there have been mass demonstrations of up to a million Brazilians.  In just the last few weeks, strikes by teachers, police, construction workers and municipal employees have proliferated.  The myth of the mass media spectacles mesmerizing the masses has been refuted – at least in present-day Brazil.

To understand why the mass spectacle has been a propaganda bust it is essential to understand the political and economic context in which it was launched, as well as the costs and benefits and the tactical planning of popular movements.

The Political and Economic Context:  The World Cup and the Olympics

In 2002, the Brazilian Workers Party candidate Lula DaSilva won the presidential elections.  His two terms in office (2003 – 2010) were characterized by a warm embrace of free market capitalism together with populist poverty programs.  Aided by large scale in-flows of speculative capital, attracted by high interest rates, and high commodity prices for its agro-mineral exports, Lula launched a massive poverty program providing about $60 a month to 40 million poor Brazilians, who formed part of Lula’s mass electoral base.  The Workers Party reduced unemployment, increased wages and supported low-interest consumer loans, stimulating a ‘consumer boom’ that drove the economy forward.

To Lula and his advisers, Brazil was becoming a global power, attracting world-class investors and incorporating the poor into the domestic market.

Lula was hailed as a ‘pragmatic leftist’ by Wall Street and a ‘brilliant statesman’ by the Left!

In line with this grandiose vision (and in response to hoards of presidential flatterers North and South), Lula believed that Brazil’s rise to world prominence required it to ‘host’ the World Cup and the Olympics and he embarked on an aggressive campaign. . . Brazil was chosen.

Lula preened and pontificated:  Brazil, as host, would achieve the symbolic recognition and material rewards a global power deserved.

The Rise and Fall of Grand Illusions

The ascent of Brazil was based on foreign flows of capital conditioned by differential (favorable) interest rates. And when rates shifted, the capital flowed out.  Brazil’s dependence on high demand for its agro-mineral exports was based on sustained double-digit economic growth in Asia.  When China’s economy slowed down, demand and prices fell, and so did Brazil’s export earnings.

The Workers Party’s ‘pragmatism’ meant accepting the existing political, administrative and regulatory structures inherited from the previous neo-liberal regimes.  These institutions were permeated by corrupt officials linked to building contractors notorious for cost over-runs and long delays on state contracts.

Moreover, the Workers Party’s ‘pragmatic’ electoral machine was built on kick-backs and bribes.  Vast sums were siphoned from public services into private pockets.

Puffed up on his own rhetoric, Lula believed Brazil’s economic emergence on the world stage was a ‘done deal’.  He proclaimed that his pharaonic sports complexes – the billions of public money spent on dozens of stadiums and costly infrastructure – would “pay for themselves”.

The Deadly ‘Demonstration Effect’:  Social Reality Defeats Global Grandeur

Brazil’s new president, Dilma Rousseff, Lula’ protégé, has allocated billions of reales to finance her predecessor’s massive building projects:  stadiums, hotels, highways and airports to accommodate an anticipated flood of overseas soccer fans.

The contrast between the immediate availability of massive amounts of public funds for the World Cup and the perennial lack of money for deteriorating essential public services (transport, schools, hospitals and clinics) has been a huge shock to Brazilians and a provocation to mass action in the streets.

For decades, the majority of Brazilians, who depended on public services for transport, education and medical care, (the upper middle classes can afford private services), were told that “there were no funds”, that “budgets had to be balanced”, that a “budget surplus was needed to meet IMF agreements and to service the debt”.

For years public funds had been siphoned away by corrupt political appointees to pay for electoral campaigns, leading to filthy, overcrowded transport, frequently breaking down, and commuter delays in sweltering buses and long lines at the stations.  For decades, schools were in shambles, teacher rushed from school to school to make-up for their miserable minimum-wage salaries leading to low quality education and neglect.  Public hospitals were dirty, dangerous and crowded; under-paid doctors frequently took on private patients on the side, and essential medications were scarce in the public hospitals and overpriced in the pharmacies.

The public was outraged by the obscene contrast between the reality of dilapidated clinics with broken windows, overcrowded schools with leaking roofs and unreliable mass transport for the average Brazilian and the huge new stadiums, luxury hotels and airports for wealthy foreign sports fans and visitors.

The public was outraged by the obvious official lies:  the claim that there were ‘no funds’ for teachers when billions of Reales were instantly available to construct luxury hotels and fancy stadium box seats for wealthy soccer fans.

The final detonator for mass street protest was the increase in bus and train fares to ‘cover losses’ – after public airports and highways had been sold cheaply to private investors who raised tolls and fees.

The protestors marching against the increased bus and train fares were joined by tens of thousands Brazilians broadly denouncing the Government’s priorities:  Billions for the World Cup and crumbs for public health, education, housing and transport!

Oblivious to the popular demands, the government pushed ahead intent on finishing its ‘prestige projects’.  Nevertheless, construction of stadiums fell behind schedule because of corruption, incompetence and mismanagement.  Building contractors, who were pressured,  lowered safety standards and pushed  workers harder, leading to an increase in workplace deaths and injury.  Construction workers walked out protesting the speed-ups and deterioration of work safety.

The Rousseff regime’s grandiose schemes have provoked a new chain of protests. The Homeless Peoples Movement occupied urban lots near a new World Cup stadium demanding ‘social housing’ for the people instead of new five-star hotels for affluent foreign sports aficionados.

Escalating costs for the sports complexes and increased government expenditures have ignited a wave of trade union strikes to demand higher wages beyond the regime’s targets.  Teachers and health workers were joined by factory workers and salaried employees  striking in strategic sectors, such as the transport and security services, capable of seriously disrupting the World Cup.

The PTs embrace of the grandiose sports spectacle, instead of highlighting Brazil’s ‘debut as a global power’, has spotlighted the vast contrast between the affluent and secure ten percent in their luxury condos in Brazil, Miami and Manhattan, with access to high quality private clinics and exclusive private and overseas schools for their offspring, with the mass of average Brazilians, stuck for hours sweating in overcrowded buses, in dingy emergency rooms waiting for mere aspirins from non-existent doctors and in wasting their children’s futures in dilapidated classrooms without adequate, full-time teachers.

Conclusion

The political elite, especially the entourage around the Lula-Rousseff Presidency have fallen victim to their own delusions of popular support. They believed that subsistence pay-offs (food baskets) to the very poor would allow them to spend billions of public money on sports spectacles to entertain and impress the global elite.  They believed that the mass of workers would be so enthralled by the prestige of holding the World Cup in Brazil, that they would overlook the great disparity between government expenditures for elite grand spectacles and the absence of support to meet the everyday needs of Brazilian workers.

Even trade unions, seemingly tied to Lula, who bragged of his past leadership of the metal workers, broke ranks when they realized that the ‘money was out there’ – and that the regime, pressured by construction deadlines, could be pressured to raise wages to get the job done.

Make no mistake, Brazilians are sports minded.  They avidly follow and cheer their national team. But they are also  conscious of their needs.  They are not content to passively accept the great social disparities exposed by the current mad scramble to stage the World Cup and Olympics in Brazil.  The government’s vast expenditure on the Games has made it clear that Brazil is a rich country with a multitude of social inequalities.  They have learned that vast sums are available to improve the basic services of everyday life.  They realized that, despite its rhetoric, the ‘Workers Party’ was playing a wasteful prestige game to impress an international capitalist audience.  They realized that they have strategic leverage to pressure the government and address some of the inequalities in housing and salaries through mass action.  And they have struck.  They realize they deserve to enjoy the World Cup in affordable, adequate public housing and travel to work (or to an occasional game) in decent buses and trains.  Class consciousness, in the case of Brazil, has trumped the mass spectacle.  ‘Bread and circuses’ have given way to mass protests.

May 302014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

The European parliamentary elections witnessed a major breakthrough for the right-wing parties throughout the region.  The rise of the Right runs from the Nordic countries, the United Kingdom, the Baltic and Low countries, France, Central and Eastern Europe to the Mediterranean.

Most, if not all, of these emerging right-wing parties mark a sharp break with the ruling neo-liberal, Christian and Social Democratic parties who have presided over a decade of crisis.

The ‘new Right’ cannot be understood simply by attaching negative labels (‘fascist’, ‘racist’ and ‘anti-Semitic’).  The rise of the Right has to be placed in the context of the decay of political, social and economic institutions, the general and persistent decline of living standards and the disintegration of community bonds and class solidarity. The entire existing political edifice constructed by the neo-liberal parties bears deep responsibility for the systemic crisis and decay of everyday life.  Moreover, this is how it is understood by a growing mass of working people who vote for the Right.

The so-called ‘radical Left’, usually defined as the political parties to the left of the governing Social Democratic parties, with the exception of SYRIZA in Greece, have failed to capitalize on the decline of the neo-liberal parties.  There are several reasons that account for the lack of a right-left polarization.  Most of the ‘radical Left’, in the final account, gave ‘critical support’ to one or another of the Labor or Social Democratic parties and reduced their ‘distance’ from the political-economic disasters that have followed.  Secondly, the ‘radical Left’s’ positions on some issues were irrelevant or offensive to many workers: namely, gay marriage and identity politics.  Thirdly, the radical Left recruited prominent personalities from the discredited Labor and Social Democratic parties and thus raised suspicion that they are a ‘new version’ of past deceptions. Fourthly, the radical Left is strong on public demonstrations demanding ‘structural changes’ but lacks the ‘grass roots’ clientelistic organizations of the Right, which provide ‘services’, such as soup kitchens and clinics dealing with day-to-day problems.

While the Right pretends to be ‘outside’ the neo-liberal establishment challenging the assumption of broad powers by the Brussels elite, the Left is ambiguous: Its support for a ‘social Europe’ implies a commitment to reform a discredited and moribund structure.  The Right proposes ‘national capitalism’ outside of Brussels; the Left proposes ‘socialism within the European Union’.  The Left parties, the older Communist parties and more recent groupings, like Syriza in Greece, have had mixed results.  The former have generally stagnated or lost support despite the systemic crisis.  The latter, like Syriza, have made impressive gains but failed to break the 30% barrier.  Both lack electoral allies.  As a result, the immediate challenge to the neo-liberal status quo comes from the electoral new Right parties and on the left from the extra-parliamentary social movements and trade unions.  In the immediate period, the crisis of the European Union is being played out between the neo-liberal establishment and the ‘new Right’.

The Nature of the New Right

The ‘new Right’ has gained support largely because it has denounced the four pillars of the neo-liberal establishment:  globalization, foreign financial control, executive rule by fiat (the Brussels troika) and the unregulated influx of cheap immigrant labor.

Nationalism, as embraced by the new Right, is tied to national capitalism:  Local producers, retailers and farmers are counterpoised to free traders, mergers and acquisitions by international bankers and the giant multinationals. The ‘new Right’ has its audience among the provincial and small town business elite as well as workers devastated by plant closures and relocations.

The ‘new Right’s’ nationalism is ‘protectionist’ – seeking tariff barriers and state regulations to protect industries and workers from ‘unfair’ competition from overseas conglomerates and low-wage immigrant labor.

The problem is that protectionism limits the imports of cheap consumer goods sold in many small retail shops and affordable to workers and the lower middle class.  The Right ‘dreams’ of a corporatist model where national workers and industries bond to oppose liberal competitive capitalism and class struggle trade unions.  As the class struggle declines, the ‘tri partite’ politics of the neo-liberal right is reconfigured by the New Right to include ‘national’ capital and a ‘paternalistic state’.

In sum, the nationalism of the Right evokes a mythical past of harmony where national capital and labor unite under a common communal identity to confront big foreign capital and cheap immigrant labor.

Political Strategy: Electoral and Extra-Parliamentary Politics

Currently, the new Right is primarily oriented to electoral politics, especially as it gains mass support.  They have increased their share of the electorate by combining mass mobilization and community organizing with electoral politics, especially in depressed areas. They have attracted middle class voters from the neo-liberal right and working class voters from the old Left.  While some sectors of the Right, like the Golden Dawn in Greece, openly flaunt fascist symbols – flags and uniforms – as well as provoking street brawls, others pressure the governing neo-liberal right to adopt some of their demands especially regarding immigration and the ‘deportation of illegals’.  For the present, most of the new Right’s focus is on advancing its agenda and gaining supporters through aggressive appeals within the constitutional order and by keeping the more violent sectors under control.  Moreover, the current political climate is not conducive to open extra-parliamentary ‘street fighting’ where the new Right would be easily crushed.  Most right-wing strategists believe the current context is conducive to the accumulation of forces via peaceful methods.

Conditions Facilitating the Growth of the Right

There are several structural factors contributing to the growth of the new Right in Europe:

First and foremost, there is a clear decline of democratic power and institutions resulting from the centralization of executive – legislative power in the hands of a self-appointed elite in Brussels.  The new Right argues effectively that the European Union has become a profoundly authoritarian political institution disenfranchising voters and imposing harsh austerity programs without a popular mandate.

Secondly, national interests have been subordinated to benefit the financial elite identified as responsible for the harsh policies that have undermined living standards and devastated local industries.  The new Right counterpoises ‘the nation’ to the Brussels ‘Troika’ – the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission.

Thirdly, ‘liberalization’ has eroded local industries and undermined communities and protective labor legislation.  The Right denounces liberal immigration policies, which permit the large-scale inflow of cheap workers at a time of depression level unemployment.  The crisis of capitalism combined with the large force of cheap immigrant labor forms the material basis for right-wing appeals to workers, especially those in precarious jobs or unemployed.

Right:  Contradictions and the Double Discourse

The Right, while criticizing the neo-liberal state for unemployment, focuses mainly on the immigrants competing with nationals in the labor market rather than on the capitalists whose investment decisions determine levels of employment and unemployment.

The Right attacks the authoritarian nature of the European Union, but its own structures, ideology and history pre-figure a repressive state.

The Right rightly proposes to end foreign elite control of the economy, but its own vision of a ‘national state’, especially one linked to NATO, multi-national corporations and imperial wars, will provide no basis for ‘rebuilding the national economy’.

The Right speaks to the needs of the dispossessed and the need to ‘end austerity’ but it eschews the only effective mechanism for countering inequalities – class organization and class struggle.  Its vision of the ‘collaboration between productive capital and labor’ is contradicted by the aggressive capitalist offensive to cut wages, social services, pensions and working conditions.  The new Right targets immigrants as the cause of unemployment while obscuring the role of the capitalists who hire and fire, invest abroad, relocate firms and introduce technology to replace labor.

They focus the workers’ anger ‘downward’ against immigrants, instead of ‘upward’ toward the owners of the means of production, finance and distribution who ultimately manipulate the labor market.

In the meantime the radical Left’s mindless defense of unlimited immigration in the name of an abstract notion of ‘international workers solidarity’ exposes their arrogant liberal bias, as though they had never consulted real workers who have to compete with immigrants for scarce jobs under increasingly unfavorable conditions.

The radical Left, under the banner of ‘international solidarity’, has ignored the historical fact that ‘internationalism’ must be built on the strong national foundation of organized, employed workers.

The Left has allowed the new Right to exploit and manipulate powerful righteous nationalist causes.  The radical Left has counterpoised ‘nationalism’ to socialism, rather than seeing them as intertwined, especially in the present context of an imperialist-dominated European Union.

The fight for national independence, the break-up of the European Union, is essential to the struggle for democracy and the deepening of the class struggle for jobs and social welfare. The class struggle is more powerful and effective on the familiar national terrain – rather than confronting distant overseers in Brussels.

The notion among many radical Left leaders to ‘remake’ the EU into a ‘Social Europe’, the idea that the EU could be converted into a ‘European Union of Socialist States’ simply prolongs the suffering of the workers and the subordination of nations to the non-elected bankers who run the EU.  No one seriously believes that buying stocks in Deutsch Bank and joining its annual stockholders meetings would allow workers to ‘transform’ it into a ‘People’s Bank’.  Yet the ‘Bank of the Banks’, the ‘Troika’, made up of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF, set all major policies for each member state of the European Union. Un-rectified and remaining captive of the ‘Euro-metaphysic’, the Left has abdicated its role in advancing the class struggle through the rebirth of the national struggle against the EU oligarchs.

Results and Perspectives

The Right is advancing rapidly, even if unevenly across Europe. Its support is not ephemeral but stable and cumulative at least in the medium run.  The causes are ‘structural’ and result from the new Right’s ability to exploit the socio-economic crisis of the neo-liberal right governments and to denounce authoritarian and anti-national policies of the unelected EU oligarchy.

The new Right’s strength is in ‘opposition’.  Their protests resonate while they are distant from the command centers of the capitalist economy and state.

Are they capable of moving from protest to power?  Shared power with the neo-liberals will obviously dilute and disaggregate their current social base.

The contradictions will deepen as the new Right moves from positions of ‘opposition’ to sharing power with the neo-liberal Right.  The massive roundups and deportation of immigrant workers is not going to change capitalist employment policies or restore social services or improve living standards.  Promoting ‘national’ capital over foreign through some corporatist union of capital and labor will not reduce class conflict.  It is totally unrealistic to imagine ‘national’ capital rejecting its foreign partners in the interest of labor.

The divisions within the ‘nationalist Right’, between the overtly fascist and electoral corporatist sectors, will intensify.  The accommodation with ‘national’ capital, democratic procedures and social inequalities will likely open the door to a new wave of class conflict which will expose the sham radicalism of the ‘nationalist’ right.  A committed Left, embedded in the national terrain, proud of its national and class traditions, and capable of unifying workers across ethnic and religious ‘identities’ can regain supporters and re-emerge as the real alternative to the two faces of the Right – the neo-liberal and the ‘nationalist’ new Right.  The prolonged economic crisis, declining living standards, unemployment and personal insecurity propelling rise of the nationalist Right can also lead to the emergence of a Left deeply linked to national, class and community realities.  The neo-liberals have no solutions to offer for the disasters and problems of their own making; the nationalists of the new Right have the wrong -reactionary – answer.  Does the Left have the solution?  Only by overthrowing the despotic imperial rule of Brussels can they begin to address the national-class issues.

Post-script and final observations:

In the absence of a Left alternative, the working class voters have opted for two alternatives: Massive voter abstention and strikes.  In the recent EU election, 60% of the French electorate abstained, with abstention approaching 80% in working class neighborhoods.  This pattern was repeated or even exceeded throughout the EU – hardly a mandate for the EU or for the ‘new Right’.  In the weeks and days before the vote, workers took to the streets.  There were massive strikes of civil servants and shipyard workers, as well as workers from other sectors and mass demonstrations by the unemployed and popular classes opposing EU-imposed ‘austerity’ cuts in social services, health, education, pensions, factory closures and mass lay-offs.  Widespread voter abstention and street demonstrations point to a huge proportion of the population rejecting both the neo-Liberal Right of the ‘Troika’ as well as the ‘new Right’.

May 232014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

The sweeping electoral victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India is the latest expression of the world-wide advance of a new power bloc which promises to impose a New World Order  harnessing ethno-religious fanaticism and narrowly trained technocrats to capitalist absolutism.

The far-right is no longer at the margins of western political discourse.  It is center-stage.  It is no longer dependent on contributions by local militants; it receives financing from the biggest global corporations.  It is no longer dismissed by the mass media.  It receives feature coverage, highlighting its ‘dynamic and transformative’ leadership.

Today capitalists everywhere confront great uncertainty, as markets crash and endemic corruption at the highest levels erode competitive markets.  Throughout the world, large majorities of the labor force question, challenge and resist the massive transfers of public wealth to an ever reduced oligarchy.  Electoral politics no longer define the context for political opposition.

Capitalism, neither in theory nor practice, advances through reason and prosperity.  It relies on executive fiats, media manipulation and arbitrary police state intrusions.  It increasingly relies on death squads dubbed “Special Forces” and a ‘reserve army’ of para-military fanatics.

The new power bloc is the merger of big business, the wealthy professional classes, upwardly mobile, elite trained technocrats and cadres of ethno-religious fanatics who mobilize the masses.

Capitalism and imperialism advances by uprooting millions, destroying local communities and economies, undermining local trade and production, exploiting labor and repressing social solidarity.  Everywhere it erodes community and class solidarity.

Ethno-Religious Fanatics and Elite Technocrats

Today capitalism depends on two seemingly disparate forces.  The irrational appeal of ethno-religious supremacists and narrowly trained elite technocrats to advance the rule of capital.  Ethno-religious fanatics seek to promote bonds between the corporate-warlord elite and the masses, by appealing to their ‘common’ religious ethnic identities.

The technocrats serve the elite by developing the information systems, formulating the images and messages deceiving and manipulating the masses and designing their economic programs.

The political leaders meet with the corporate elite and warlords to set the political-economic agenda, deciding when to rely on the technocrats and when to moderate or unleash the ethno-religious fanatics.

Imperialism operates via the marriage of science and  ethno-religious fanaticism- and both are harnessed to capitalist domination and exploitation.

India:  Billionaires, Hindu Fascists and IT “Savants”

The election of Narendra Modi, leader of the BJP and long-time member of the Hindu fascist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) para-military organization was based on three essential components:

Multi-billion rupee funding from corporate India at home and abroad.

Thousands of upwardly mobile IT technocrats mounting a massive propaganda campaign.

Hundreds of thousands of RSS activists spreading the “Hindutva” racist doctrine among millions of villagers.

The Modi regime promises his capitalist backers that he will “open India”– namely end the land reserves of the tribes, convert farmland to industrial parks, deregulate labor and environmental controls.

To the Brahmin elite he promises to end compensatory quotas for lower castes, the untouchables, the minorities and Muslims.  For the Hindu fascists he promises more temples.  For foreign capitalists he promises entry into all formerly protected economic sectors.  For the US, Modi promises closer working relations against China, Russia and Iran … . . The BJP’s ethno-religious Hindu fanaticism resonates with Israel’s notion of a “pure”Jewish state.  Modi and Netanyahu have longstanding ties and promise close working relations based on similar ethno-racist doctrines.

Turkey:  The Transition to Islamic-Capitalist Authoritarianism 

Turkey under the rule of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party has moved decisively toward one-man rule:  linking Islam to big capital and police state repression.  Erdogan’s ‘triple alliance’ is intent on unleashing mega-capitalist projects, based on the privatization of public spaces and the dispossession of popular neighborhoods.  He opened the door to unregulated privatization of mines, communications, banks – leading to exponential growth of profits and the decline of employment security and a rising toll of worker deaths.  Erdogan has shed the mask of ‘moderate Islam’ and embraced the jihadist mercenaries invading Syria and legislation expanding religious prerogatives in secular life.  Erdogan has launched massive purges of journalists, public officials, civil servants, judges and military officers.  He has replaced them with ‘party loyalists’; Erdogan fanatics!

Erdogan has recruited a small army of technocrats who design his mega projects and provide the political infrastructure and programs for his electoral campaigns.  Technocrats provide a development agenda that accommodates the  foreign and domestic crony corporate elite.

The Anatolian Islamists, small and medium provincial business elite, form the mass base – mobilizing voters, by appealing to chauvinist and ethnocentric beliefs.  Erdogan’s repressive, Islamist, capitalist regime’s embrace of the “free market” has been sharply challenged especially in light of the worst mining massacre in Turkish history:  the killing of over 300 miners due to corporate negligence and regime complicity.  Class polarization threatens the advance of Turkish fascism.

Israel and  the “Jewish State”: Billionaires , Ethno-Religious Fanatics and Technocrats

Israel, according to its influential promoters in the US, is a ‘model democracy’.  The public pronouncements and the  actions of its leaders thoroughly refute that notion.  The driving force of Israeli politics is the idea of dispossessing and expelling all Palestinians and converting Israel into a ‘pure’ Jewish state.  For decades Israel, funded and colonized by the diaspora, have violently seized Palestinian lands, dispossessed millions and are in the process of Judaizing what remains of the remnant in the “Occupied Territories”.

The Israeli economy is dominated by billionaires.  Its “society” is permeated by a highly militarized state.  Its highly educated technocrats serve the military-industrial and ethno-religious elite.  Big business shares power with both.

High tech Israeli’s apply their knowledge to furthering the high growth, military industrial complex.  Medical specialists participate in testing the endurance of Palestinian prisoners undergoing torture (“interrogation”).  Highly trained psychologists engage in psych-warfare to gain collaborators among vulnerable Palestinian families.  Economists and political scientists, with advanced degrees from prestigious US and British universities (and ‘dual citizenship’) formulate policies furthering the land grabs of neo-fascist settlers.  Israel’s best known novelist, Amos Oz condemned the neo-fascist settlers who defecate on the embers of burnt-out mosques.

Billionaire real estate moguls bid up house prices and rents “forcing” many “progressive” Israelies, who occasionally protest, to take the easy road of moving into apartments built on land illegally and violently seized from dispossessed Palestinians.  ‘Progressives’ join neo-fascist vigilantes in common colonial settlements.  Prestigious urbanologists further the goals of crude ethno-racist political leaders by designing new housing in Occupied Lands.  Prominent social scientists trade on their US education to promote Mid-East wars designed by vulgar warlords.

Building the Euro American Empire : Riff-Raff of the World Unite!

Empire building is a dirty business.  And while the political leaders directing it, feign respectability and are adept at rolling out the moral platitudes and high purposes, the ‘combatants’ they employ are a most unsavory lot of armed thugs, journalistic verbal assassins and highly respected international jurists who prey on victims and exonerate imperial criminals.

In recent years Euro-American warlords have employed “the scum of the slaughterhouse” to destroy political adversaries in Libya, Syria and the Ukraine.

In Libya lacking any semblance of a respectable middle-class democratic proxy, the Euro-American empire builders armed and financed murderous tribal bands, notorious jihadist terrorists, contrabandist groups, arms and drug smugglers.  The Euro-Americans counted on a pocketful of educated stooges holed up in London to subdue the thugs, privatize Libya’s oil fields and convert the country into a recruiting ground and launch pad for exporting armed mercenaries for other imperial missions.

The Libyan riff-raff were not satisfied with a paycheck and facile dismissal:  they murdered their US paymaster, chased the technocrats back to Europe and set-up rival fiefdoms.  Gadhafi was murdered, but so went Libya as a modern viable state.  The arranged marriage of Euro-American empire builders, western educated technocrats and the armed riff-raff was never consummated.  In the end the entire imperial venture ended up as a petty squabble in the American Congress over who was responsible for the murder of the US Ambassador in Benghazi.

The Euro-American-Saudi proxy war against Syria follows the Libyan script.  Thousands of Islamic fundamentalists are financed, armed, trained and transported from bases in Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Libya to violently overthrow the Bashar Assad government in Syria.  The world’s most retrograde fundamentalists  travel to the Euro-American training bases in Jordan and Turkey and then proceed to invade Syria, seizing towns, executing thousands of alleged ‘regime loyalists’ and planting car bombs in densely populated city centers.

The fundamentalist influx soon overwhelmed the London based liberals and their armed groups.

The jihadist terrorists fragmented into warring groups fighting over the Syrian oil fields.  Hundreds were killed and thousands fled to Government controlled regions.  Euro-US strategists, having lost their original liberal mercenaries, turned toward one or another fundamentalist groups.  No longer in control of the ‘politics’ of the terrorists, Euro-US strategists sought to inflect the maximum destruction on Syrian society.  Rejecting a negotiated settlement, the Euro-US strategists turned their backs on the internal political opposition challenging Assad via presidential elections.

In the Ukraine, the Euro-Americans backed a junta of servile neo-liberal technocrats, oligarchical kleptocrats and neo-Nazis, dubbed Svoboda and the Right Sector.  The latter were the “shock troops” to overthrow the elected government, massacre the federalist democrats in Odessa and the eastern Ukraine, and back the junta appointed oligarchs serving as “governors”.

The entire western mass media white-washed the savage assaults carried out by the neo-Nazis in propping up the Kiev junta.  The powerful presence of the neo-fascists in key ministries, their strategic role as front line fighters attacking eastern cities controlled by  pro-democracy militants, establishes them as central actors in converting the Ukraine into a military outpost of NATO.

Euro-America Empire Building and the Role of Riff-Raff

Everywhere the Euro-American imperialists choose to expand – they rely on the ‘scum of the earth’:  tribal gangs in Libya, fundamentalist terrorists in Syria, neo-Nazis in the Ukraine.

Is it by choice or necessity? Clearly few consequential democrats would lend themselves to the predatory and destructive assaults on existing regimes which Euro-US strategists design.  In the course of imperial wars, the local producers, workers, ordinary citizens would “self-destroy”, whatever the outcome.  Hence the empire builders look toward ‘marginal groups’, those with no stake in society or economy.  Those alienated from any primary or secondary groups.  Footloose fundamentalists fit that bill – provided they are paid, armed and allowed to carry their own ideological baggage.  Neo-Nazis hostile to democracy  have no qualms about serving empire builders who share their ideological hostility to democrats, socialists, federalists and culturally ‘diverse’ societies and states.  So they are targeted for recruitment by the empire builders.

The riff-raff consider themselves ‘strategic allies’ of the Euro-American empire builders.  The latter, however, have no strategic allies – only strategic interests.  Their tactical alliances with the riff-raff endure until they secure control over the state and eliminate their adversaries.  Then the imperialist seek to demote, co-opt, marginalize or eliminate their ‘inconvenient’ riff-raff allies.  The falling out comes about when the fundamentalists and neo-Nazis seek to restrict capital, especially foreign capital and impose restrictions on imperial control over resources and territory. At first the empire builders seek ‘opportunists’ among the riff-raff, those willing to sacrifice their ‘ideals’ for money and office.  Those who refuse are relegated to secondary positions distant from strategic decision-making or to remote outposts.  Those who resist are assassinated or jailed.  The disposal of the riff-raff serves the empire on two counts.  It provides the client regime with a fig leaf of respectability and disarms western critics targeting the extremist component of the junta.

The riff-raff, however, with arms, fighting experience and financing, in the course of struggle, gains confidence in its own power.  They do not easily submit to Euro-US strategies.  They also have ‘strategic plans’ of their own, in which they seek political power to further their ideological agenda and enrich their followers.

The riff-raff, want to ‘transition’ from shock troops of empire into rulers in their own right.  Hence the assaults on the US embassy in Libya, the assassination of Euro-American proxies in Syria, Right Sector riots against the Kiev junta.

Conclusion

A new power bloc is emerging on a global scale.  It is already flexing its muscles.  It has come to power in India, Turkey, Ukraine and Israel.  It brings together big business, technocrats and ethno-religious fascists.  They promote unrestrained capitalist expansion in association with Euro-American imperialism.

Scientists, economists, and IT specialists design the programs and plans to realize the profits of local and foreign capitalists.  The ethno-fascists mobilize the ‘masses’ to attack minorities and class organizations threatening high rates of returns.

The Euro-Americans contribute to this ‘new power bloc’ by promoting their own ‘troika’ made up of ‘neo-liberal clients’, fundamentalists and neo-Nazis to overthrow nationalist adversaries.  The advance of imperialism and capitalism in the 21st century is based on the harnessing of the most advanced technology and up-to-date media outlets with the most retrograde political and social leaders and ideologies.

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