There are no breaking news at the moment

The incidents of the recently-exposed poor and poverty in the US [an article on hungry children, evicted old lady and other poor people carried by Countercurrents.org on December 21, 2017 & Frontier on-line, December 22, 2017] tell a few aspects that trail the exposed poverty. Tracking the aspects helps lay bare a few facts; and the facts help take away a few illusions and cast away a few misunderstanding.

The economy – US – harboring the poverty is neither young nor weak. Centuries have passed the economy has been built up. The economy doesn’t depend on aid-money from donors. The economy is not resource-poor, neither in terms of natural resources nor in terms of intellectual resources. The economy has not suffered brain-drain; rather, a brain-drain of other countries has enriched the economy. No war ravaged the economy; rather, the economy gained a lot from wars as it has gained a lot from plunders. The economy owns finer organizations and management systems, which include reporting and surveillance at many levels and areas beginning from smaller geographical and social units to daily movement and consumption pattern and preferences of consumers/tax payers to citizens’ psychology, habit and traits. The main capital that dominates the economy is incomparably big, powerful and matured. Other capitals accompanying the main are neither small nor weak nor immature. The organizations these capitals have built up over centuries for their own operation/management are incomparably powerful, matured and skilled. The ideological power these capitals hold is almost world-wide defining almost all concepts, which are marketed and broadly accepted as self-evident, flawless and the only fact by billions of persons around the world, beginning from children to octogenarians, from ordinary person to scholars, from sales persons to politicians, from myth makers to military tacticians. The concepts the capitals have defined, which include rights, democracy, peace, humanitarian ground, are considered by billions of persons as universal, static and applicable to all crossing time, space and class, are considered as the mirror of universe and humanity. The political and propaganda machine, a part of which operates formally and with physical force while the rest operates informally with different forms, but with no less coercive power than the formal machine, the capitals have organized is the most powerful and matured in the world. The experiences these capitals have inherited and acquired over centuries are comparable to only a few in the world. [1]

Despite these incomparably immense power and mechanism, maturity, experience and skill, these capitals have yet to wipe out poverty from its own yard. There are, obviously, reasons behind this failure. These capitals have initiated a number of programs, etc. to fight poverty over the last few decades. But, the failure persists. It, the failure, is shameful and disgraceful, but not astonishing as character of the economy breeds the failure.

No doubt, historical reasons are cited by a group of scholars while identifying the failure – poverty’s persistence. The reasons referred to by other groups range from geography to human habits and attributes, culture, origin and/or area of residence of poverty-stricken citizens, restructure and/or shift of parts of economic activities, distresses/cycles in economy, environment and ecology, politics, etc. These experts provide historical facts and data set, mathematical models, statistical trends, etc. in support of their arguments.

But, two questions don’t haunt these scholars: (1) what is(are) the reason(s) or factors or forces behind these reasons of failure; and, (2) why do the exploited experience poverty, or, to put the second question reversely, why do the exploiters don’t face poverty? The exploiters experience recession/depression/business cycle/bank, business and crop failures, natural/social/political/military calamities, distress/disease/litigation/accident at individual, family and group levels as the exploited experience. The exploiters come up from the same geographical region or ancestry or cultural origin as the exploited from those regions or of the same origin. Capacity to face hardship, to labor, to sustain in difficult/hostile condition or environment – geographical, economic, social, political, cultural – of the exploited is much more than the exploiters. Historical and everyday experiences bear the evidence. Despite this, how do all the comforts, all the luxuries, all the abundances, all the happiness get gathered in the mansions of the exploiter classes, a minority in entire society, a small group doing nothing but appropriating fruits of others’ labor?

The two groups – the exploited and the exploiters – stand mostly on the same ground, geography-history-culture-political and social environment, with a “little” difference, which is the critical and determining factor: one group – the exploiters – have a controlling/determining leverage on the entire background. This factor takes away all benefits from everywhere, beginning from geography: the biggest chunk of land, the best chunk of land, I-own-the-mine-you-produce-in-the-mine, the forest-the river-the lake-the sea serve me and you have to make these productive, I-rob-bank-and-you-the commoners-stand-as-onlookers, and so forth. It moves to the area of politics and policy formulation to ensure the control established. Consequently fabrication, manipulation, propaganda, tricks and coercion accompany. The entire operation turns into a business of exerting force. The have-nots survive according to the sweet-wishes of the haves and the have-nots’ power to sustain. In the episode, a few have-nots perish while new have-nots get reproduced.

These have been discussed by many for many times; and the discussions began long ago as a good part of humanity began the quest, found out the origin of poverty, as they searched answer to the question: why so many people are poor while a few own overflowing luxury, why the poor face so much suffering while the rich enjoy so much lavish life although it’s only the poor that labor all, that produce all and the rich put their labor only to ensure their grip on all the resources and for enjoying all luxuries all the time.

The cunning game on the table now is: These primary facts and questions mentioned are not discussed, are being pushed under carpet, are clouded with other divisive and confusing issues so that the exploited fail to see the line dividing the exploited and the exploiters. A group of honorable scholars and the famous mainstream media work overtime to spread this confusing position. Thusly, it’s found, articles and reports vocal with sufferings and rights of only one community, of only one color; commentaries on and analyses of only a single person; as if suffering doesn’t visit other communities, members of other colors, as if it’s not the system, but an individual that carries on all the evil jobs.

This divisive act is a faithful service to the exploiters, to the masters of murders and massacres; it’s an exposition of the payment received from the exploiters, from the imperialists, emirs and sultans. And, it’s an attempt to thrust a fatal stab on the backs of the exploited, a job only the obedient servants of the exploiters perform slavishly.

To these retainers, there’s no dividing line between the exploited and the exploiters, in a so-called community the exploiters don’t exploit and the exploited aren’t exploited, it’s individuals, not system that determine questions of persecution, deportation and invasion, there’s nothing like imperialist intervention as imperialism doesn’t exist, all the exploiters and the exploited of the same color and creed get united to have an emancipation, and all the fairy tales. They never question: from where comes the resource in the pockets of the Soroses, emirs and sultans? They thus expose their identity: in the payroll of exploiters.

The brief note on the article “An issue following the food-sought-to-Santa story” by Farooque Chowdhury

My heartfelt thanks to economist and labor educator Dr. Michael D. Yates, Professor Emeritus, and Associate Editor, Monthly Review, for his helpful comments on the intro of the note

The United States, still the hegemonic power of the world imperialist system, is quite naturally the subject of much international attention. One part of the commentary focuses on the depredations of US imperialism: conspiracies, assassinations, massacres, political and military interventions, coups, proxy governments, and subversions of all sorts. Another part looks at imperialism’s internal economic and political characteristics, beginning with its historical origin and development, as well as its power. The following notes, which mainly fall into the latter category, help to dispel some of the confusions about US imperialism, confusions that are regularly promoted by its apologists in the form of false propaganda and half-truths. Some of these apologists are unaware, while others are deeply motivated, with real power at stake. But the end result, no matter the motives, is detrimental to the causes of people, those that aim at creating a better world and challenge capitalism directly.

One of the most divisive aspects of those who sow confusion, a position espoused even by those who claim to be champions of the people, is pitting ethnic groups against one another. Thus, we have the politics of antagonism toward immigrants, toward people of color, toward of different religions. While this is promoted mostly by open racists like Donald Trump and the far right in Europe, it is embraced by leaders like Narendra Modi. Unfortunately, some on the left play into this, perhaps unwittingly, by arguing that we should ignore real differences in terms of how people are treated and must focus narrowly on only of those things people might have in common. We can, of course, do both, admit and combat racism and ethnic antagonism while promoting solidarity among all people. We need not discard solidarity and fraternity of people and exploited or working classes irrespective of color and creed.

A second confusion equates imperialist slogans on rights and democracy with real rights and real democracy. So-called human rights interventions in the affairs of the countries of the Global South has also been embraced by those claiming to be anti-imperialists and pro-people. Third, there is confusion that gives equal footing to what the mainstream stand in opposition to imperialism. There is much about Russian and Chinese imperialism while that of the United States is downplayed. It seems not to be understood that the most powerful nations always have imperialist designs, covering these up with a presumed interest in promoting human rights. When pro-people intellectuals and politicians fail to take into consideration the intricacies of imperialism’s designs and take what the imperialists say at face value, they become proxies of imperialism. What follows in this brief note will look at these practices in some detail.

[The capitalists in the land] “‘America is the Canaan of capitalism, its promised land,’ wrote German economist Werner Sombart in 1906. Here [in the US], American economic historian William N Parker added, ‘the tendencies of Western capitalism could find fullest and most uncontrolled expression.’ And so they did. American capitalists had almost a free hand in gaining control of a country unimaginably rich in natural resources. In straight-out contests of strength with both organized and unorganized workers American capitalists usually triumphed. State violence, judge-made law, compliant legislatures, and administrative procedures were arrayed effectively against challenges from below.” (Meyer Weinberg, A Short History of American Capitalism, New History Press, USA, 2003, chapter 1: “Introduction”, MW cites Werner Sombart, Warum gibt es in den Vereinigten Staaten keinen Sozialismus?, Tubingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1906, see Sombart, Why Is There No Socialism in the United States?, translated by Patricia M Hocking and C T Husbands, M E Sharpe, 1976 and William N Parker, “Historiography of American Economic History”, in Glenn Porter, ed., Encyclopedia of American Economic History, “Studies of the Principal Movements and Ideas”, I, Scribner’s, 1980)

[Monopoly] “Between 1865 and 1920, the United States became the world’s leading industrialist nation.”

“The formation of monopoly in manufacturing ‘began gradually in the 1870s in […] iron and steel processing, oil refining, agricultural implements […] meat packing, and sugar refining’.”

[Politics] “‘The three big insurance companies occupied key positions in financing the [New York state] Republican machine (and to some extent the Democratic one also) and guaranteed not only friendly legislators but cooperative [state] insurance departments as well.’ Between 1895 and 1905, a New York Life lobbyist was paid at least $1,312,197.16 to guard against passage of hostile legislation. [….]

“‘Formally the department [the New York State Department of Insurance] was supposed to regulate insurance companies in the public interest. Actually the department was intimately related to the dominant political machine and responsive to the long-run functional requirements of the major companies. [.…] The net effects of the actual policies of the regulatory body were (1) to enable the large companies to easily evade regulations when it was important for them to do so and (2) to insure continuous dominance by the large companies.”

[Stop unionism, work more] “In 1892, Andrew Carnegie’s Homestead Works in Pennsylvania conducted an anti-union campaign which resulted in an ending of unionism in the plant. Very rapidly thereafter, the twelve-hour workday and seven day workweek became norms in the entire industry. [….] By 1911, 45,248 men worked the 12-hour, seven day week in U.S. Steel’s mills. Nine years later, the number had risen to 85,000. In the industry as a whole, in 1910 over half of all steelworkers worked the long week; eleven years later up to two-thirds of employees did so.”

[White and black and children] “Thus, poor whites were employed: They were told the new jobs were exclusively designed for them; blacks were not permitted to work in the mills. In return, the poor whites were expected to remain content with the slenderest of rewards. And textile owners did not need to fear the development of any radical sentiments of class conflict among the grateful workers.”

“Toward the end of the 19th century, politically organized employers were able to deprive both white and black workers of political power in the state, thereby strengthening the rule of capital. A well-informed Englishman visiting the South in 1902 was told ‘of children of twelve running a dozen automatic looms each for eleven or twelve hours a day; of girls of twelve drawing-in warps; of fathers carrying their children to the mill in their arms.’ In Winston-Salem, North Carolina, ‘half of the people in the mill seemed to be between nine and fourteen years of age, and I was told that they worked sixty-nine hours a week’ — almost as many hours as many adult steelworkers in Pittsburgh.”

“(It should be kept in mind that all these mill children were white.) Extensive child labor helped significantly in yielding profit rates ranging from ten to 30 percent in North Carolina textile mills.”

[Facilitate] “State government geological surveys pointed to probable sources of valuable minerals while capitalists hastened to exploit the deposits.”

[Government] “Capitalist interests were served on all levels of government.

“Referring especially to large-scale corporate entities, Gerald Nash writes that during 1860-1900, ‘powerful new business groups exerted extraordinary influence on state and local governments.’ Even the big businesses that began to emerge in the 1870s and 1880s were located in municipalities. Governments in company towns were almost completely dominated by the dominant firm or firms. Thus, a vice-president of Bethlehem Steel Co. was the mayor of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania while a member of a company’s private police force in North Clairton was also mayor of the town.

“Local taxes were exceedingly light on the largest enterprises. A crucial step in this process was local assessment of property as a base for taxation. In Montana, where the Anaconda Copper Mining Company accounted for 90 percent of the copper produced, local tax assessors tended to accept the firm’s valuation estimates, thus enabling the company to determine its own tax rate. Louis Levine commented:

“‘This practically leaves the assessment of mines in the hands of the owners of the mines and reduces the supervision of the taxing authorities of the state over mine assessment to almost nothing.’

“Profits grew accordingly. Between 1905 and 1917, the company ‘earned a sum equal to 150 percent of its outstanding capitalization and paid in dividends a sum equal to its capitalization. […]’ Meanwhile, higher tax rates were levied on farm land and other forms of property. James O’Connor notes, likewise, that ‘in some cities (e.g., Houston) major industries themselves fix the value of their properties for tax purposes.’

“Many laws were administered according to political criteria. This was preeminently the case with measures requiring inspection of factories for safety and other matters:

“‘In small towns, particularly in company-dominated communities, the inspector had virtually no chance of obtaining convictions against the major employer. In other areas the judges were often sympathetic to the objectives of the law but hesitated to levy more than a reprimand.’

“The owner of the largest bank in Montana was also the territorial governor.”

[Politics] “With the advent of large-scale, mechanized mining in California, Nevada, and elsewhere in the West, mining capitalists became deeply involved in state politics. ‘At Nevada’s constitutional convention the large mining interests constituted a controlling block, and continued to do so in later sessions of the legislature.’”

“In North Carolina, industrial and agricultural capitalists combined to strip the poor of their political rights. State constitutional provisions as well as election laws were re-written to deprive both black and white poor of their vote.”

“‘The system of educational financing was highly regressive. Blacks paid higher taxes for education than did whites, poor whites paid higher taxes than rich whites, and the law was designed to prevent any redistribution between “rich” and “poor” counties. After 1900 the ratio between per capita expenditures on education for blacks and those for whites fell by 53 percent in ten years, and there was increasing inequality between per capita expenditures in rich and poor counties.’

“Sweeping disfranchisement accompanied the triumphant advance of capitalism in the South. The consequent deprivation spread far beyond racial boundaries.

“When Woodrow Wilson first ran for president, in 1912, he declared that ‘the masters of the government of the United States are the combined capitalists and manufacturers of the United States.’ At the center of this process lay control of the principal political parties and the political machines, organized under direction of party bosses. [….]”

“‘Often the high officials of the companies sat on the important party committees and pulled the strings from them. They equipped and kept up political organization for their own use, and ran them as they pleased, like their trains.’”

“Directly bribing individual members of legislative bodies became onerous since their tastes differed and their numbers were large. In time, corporations saw their way to economies: instead of purchasing individual votes they began buying entire elections through campaign contributions. [….] [I]n 1888 the general manager of the American Iron and Steel Association wrote the chairman of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee offering a campaign contribution to the Republican party of some $40,000 if the tariff rate against foreign steel rails could be raised from $14.00 to $15.68.

“Matters of broader capitalist class concern did not necessarily require cash payments. In 1890, for example, Congress passed the Sherman Anti-Trust Act to forbid industrial conspiracies in restraint of interstate commerce. An amendment had been offered to assure that the new measure would not be applied against unions. Senator Sherman successfully led the fight against the amendment, arguing that it was not necessary. [….]”

[Government] “Big Business was not only accompanied by the growth of Big Government; it had a large part in producing Big Government. From the Interstate Commerce Act (1887) to the Federal Reserve Act (1913) and similar measures, federal regulation was installed under the aegis of giant corporations. Regulation was called upon when business itself proved unable to manage the economic system without developing ‘destructive’ competition.”

“During early American economic history, government and business were customarily closely interrelated. With the rise of regional and national industries, loosely-linked capitalists constituted increasingly powerful lobbies for legislation on matters of direct economic interest such as tariffs and taxes. As industrialists and financiers bought up political parties and politicians, in the late 19th century, more intimate relationships evolved, many of them directly related to major aspects of government policy and programs.

“Military power was one such area. During the years 1866-1891, wars against the Western Indians were conducted by the Army. Lands with underlying mineral resources were particular targets for wresting from Indian peoples; agricultural and range lands were seized by troops. Continued Indian control interfered with the extension of railroads and thus stymied the development of mining industries as well as settlement. [….]”

“Naval expansion was even more extensive. During the 1880s, the U.S. Navy stood 12th in the world; some 20 years later, it stood second; and by 1915-1916 it was on the verge of leadership.

“‘To build a new navy of steel, steam, armor, and modern ordnance required a production team of civilian governmental officials, naval officers, and industrialists, especially for the manufacture of armor and ordnance. In one way or another, that production team has remained in existence through today. And in that coalition are located the origins of the military-industrial complex.’

“Close and continuing cooperation helped produce a sense of identity between military and industry: ‘As the officer corps professionalized in both the army and the navy, and especially in the latter, it took on an upper-class bias.’

“When World War I broke out in August 1914, the United States declared its neutrality but became a prime source of war materials for England and France. Allied war orders started arriving at the moment that an economic recession struck the U.S. By 1915, Allied orders had become a major element in the country’s economic recovery. When Allied credit was all but exhausted, therefore, and this threatened an end to war-production recovery, the Wilson administration was faced with a threat of recession again. Secretary of the Treasury William G. McAdoo wrote the President: ‘To maintain our prosperity, we must finance it. Otherwise, it may stop and that would be disastrous.’ The Allies were then permitted to sell bonds within the United States and funds were raised to continue the economic stimulus.

“During 1915-1916 a strong movement took shape to augment American military forces. The movement, most prominent among upper-class circles in the Northeast, was actually a rehearsal for eventual entry into the war. A parallel movement evolved to mobilize the economy for war. ‘The leading economic preparedness advocates shared two critically important convictions: Private businessmen and professionals had to direct the mobilization of the economy, and the basic structure of the nation’s economic system had to be preserved during the process.’ Both in the preparedness phase as well as during actual military hostilities, private authority over the economy prevailed. Actually, however, under federal supervision in wartime, private businesses were able to be even more privately controlled than previously. This was because ‘governmental’ supervision was often exercised by the private businessmen who had been appointed to governmental procurement and administrative authorities. The result was a conflation of public and private elements.

“The consequences were best characterized by historian Koistinen:

“‘Private economic power, if exercised shrewdly and at times ruthlessly, can be strengthened enormously through public operations. [.…] Industry was using public authority with few safeguards against abuse. [.…] Private businessmen served as government officials and often had a role in awarding contracts to themselves and their colleagues. [….] Conflicts of interest and other abuses were rife throughout the W.I.B. [War Industries Board] […] Almost without exception, the commodity sections and the war service committees constituted an organic unity in which any division between public and private interests was obliterated. [.…] And the WIB was dominated by a business ideology dedicated to the notion that industries, individually and collectively, deserved as much favorable treatment and protection as they could possibly get while they mobilized the economy for war.…Never in the nation’s history was so much public power placed in private hands with so few checks. [.…] [The W.I.B. was] a board that carelessly and grossly mixed private and public interests and functions. [.…] The possibilities for plunder were endless.’

[Profit] “Profit records show the material consequences were enormous.

“In the steel industry, the ratio of profits to invested capital sextupled in 1917 over the average of 1912-1914; U.S. Steel’s profits rose from $46-million in 1914 to $585-million three years later. After-tax profit rates of 21 copper firms doubled between 1913 and 1917. In 1917 alone, ‘copper firms were annually returning in profits a range of 70 to 700 percent of invested capital.’ Stock prices skyrocketed: Bethlehem Steel stock rose from a pre-war average of $25 to $700 in 1916. That same year Bethlehem stockholders received a 200 percent dividend. During 1915 alone, U.S. Steel’s stock increased from 48 to 120 and General Motors from 78 to 750. Ordnance stocks for nine firms rose by 311 percent in one and a half years. Stuart Brandes notes that such increases were restricted largely to products directly used by the military: ‘This was in sharp contrast to stocks that served the civilian market — between 1914 and 1918 the stock market as a whole dropped by 60 percent in real value.’

“The end to hostilities did not conclude the pro-industry policies of the federal government which now found itself with vast inventories of vital industrial materials. Instead of dumping them onto the market at one time, which would have severely depressed prices of copper, leather, and other supplies, agreement was reached to sell off limited quantities over a comparatively gradual period. This was, in effect, a government subsidy for industrial producers of the surplus commodities which included lumber and aircraft engines.

[WW I] “The significance of World War I, however, went far beyond profit margins and stable prices. The American capitalist class had tasted political power as never before. Sitting at the levers of the political economy of war, industrialists learned the potentials of the economic system when it was integrated into a governmental system. Big government and big business could thrive together. World War I was the first test case.” (ibid., chapter 7: “Capitalism dominant, 1865-1920”)

[Capitalists’ fear] “The profitable use of America depended on development of a working class. But concentration of workers has always cultivated a fear among employers that large number of workers might organize and become a counterweight or even a superior force to that of the employers. To frustrate the formation of a unified working class became a prime aim of American (and other) employers. Not only would this head off united worker action at the workplace. It would also deny workers access to political organization based on their economic interests. Weakness on this front would also stave off effective demands for legislation advancing labor’s cause.

[Divide workers] “In the United States racial policy has been another way to assure that the unity of workers would not be achieved. By encouraging conflict between groups of workers divided by race, nationality, sex, language, or religion, employers rarely need to worry about facing labor as an equal. This process has been characteristic of American history. [….]

“Early in American history, groups were deliberately set against one another. Anthropologist Charles Hudson describes the situation in early 18th century South Carolina:

“‘The whites lived in mortal fear of black insurrections, and they were even more afraid that the blacks and Indians would combine forces. [….] To heighten enmity between the races they used black troops in military actions against the Indians and likewise used Indians against blacks as slave-catchers and also to suppress black insurrections.’

“Typically, the manipulators of conflict between Indians and blacks were elite planters and their political and economic partners. Poor whites lacked the authority and organizational capacity to indulge their personal hates. Historian Gary Nash notes the same procedure of divide and rule in South Carolina.

“Throughout much of the United States history, employers regularly encouraged racial and ethnic conflict among workers. They did so primarily to prevent workers from forming unions or conducting strikes. Employer power was maximized while the bargaining power of workers grew minimally. Thus, racism accompanied and strengthened the development of American capitalism; to the degree that capitalist domination of politics and economic affairs came to be accepted, so, too, was racism.” (ibid., chapter 8: “Class warfare from above, 1865-1920”)

“Racism and violence have long characterized American history. [….] As capitalism developed, neither violence nor racism receded. Indeed, they grew. […] [I]ndustrial and farm corporations employed extremely violent methods to oppose unions. And they consciously encouraged racism among their workers to weaken working-class solidarity. Nowhere in the United States – North or South – did organized capitalism take a leading role in opposing racism or violence against labor. Instead, it frequently played the foremost role in promoting them.”

[Employer power] “During most of the history of American capitalism, no government power was available to protect workers from extreme employer power, including violence and racism.” (ibid., chapter 12: “Conclusion”)

[Subdue intellectually] “The revival of naturalism in the leading American school of economics thus plays an important role: developing countries lack something very simple and universal. This position, emphasized in widely circulated and highly influential documents such as the World Development Reports produced by the World Bank, serves as a dual function. To begin with, it emphasizes and inadequacy and lesser quality of peripheral elites, labeling them incapable of creating something as basic and natural as market corporate capitalism. Countries on the periphery are thus intellectually humiliated, creating the psychological conditions for the acceptance of foreign hegemony. Consequently, such elites are in need of training by the main agencies of Western cultural hegemony, the great academic institutions of United States. Once trained by such institutions, the third world’s elites are co-opted as staff of the international financial institutions providing some formal but, practically speaking, very limited diversity.” (Ugo Mattei and Laura Nader, Plunder, When the Rule of Law is Illegal, Blackwell Publishing, MA, USA, Oxford, UK, Victoria, Australia, 2008, chapter 3: “Before neo-liberalism: A story of western plunder”)

“US law firms have been able to define the role of international lawyers operating in the global market of legal services. [….] [F]irms are often granted their own extra-legal, pseudo-governmental space by weak governments ‘out-sourcing’ their government duties to private sector.” (ibid.)

“[…] American legal logic […] has affected the entire system of Japanese law […]” (ibid.)

“[An example is] the individualization of property over commonly held cultivable land in western Africa, a super-imposition of Western individualistic conceptions […]” (ibid., chapter 4: “Plunder of ideas and the providers of legitimacy”)

“A powerful ideology has developed around intellectual property, allowing it to become a sophisticated instrument of plunder. Western ideas and conditions are universalized, taken for granted, and naturalized by such ideology, which is mostly produced by different intellectual elites […]” (ibid.)

“Another crucial aspect of American hegemony in the global landscape is the equation between democracy and elections, which once more confers a definitive advantage to mighty and wealthy corporate actors. The ‘winner takes all’ principle, which in the United States disenfranchises at least half of its citizens, appears natural and obvious only as long as we compare and oppose it to its absurd opposite, that of minority rule. [….]

“[….] It [the notion of a market for votes] institutionalizes at the most basic level the subversion in the relationship between the political process and the corporate dominated market. [….] [I]t is the market that controls and determines the political process and the law.” (ibid., chapter 6, “International imperial law”)

“[…] US style rule of law has been smoothly transformed into an international rule of law, and its practitioners in large US farms quite invariably play central roles in large neo-liberal global ventures amounting to plunder. For example, the Caspian pipeline stretching for thousands of miles through Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey establishes new sovereignty rights to a corporate consortium lead by British Petroleum and shows in action the exceptional global skills of US lawyers in foreseeing any possible future international legal consequence of the deal. The multi-billion dollar deal has been almost entirely negotiated by US law firms representing all the interests involved, including foreign states. By expressly making them waive sovereign immunity, US courts of law have been guaranteed jurisdiction against potential foreign plaintiffs, should any problem arise. [….]

“Under this newborn international ‘right to free flow of oil’, a quintessential aspect of sovereignty – that of ‘taking power of eminent domain’ – has been granted to the consortium on a thousands of miles long and 10 miles wide strip of land running from Baku to the Turkish coast. Certainly the exercise of this privatized taking amounts to the legal plunder of the land of local disempowered communities along the route […] This legally brokered deal, in pure US law firm style, paved the way to extensive contracts of corporate law enforcement (mercenaries) along the pipeline, a renewed source of business for the gun industry already very much in business in an area in which at least six civil wars have been fueled in preparation of the pipeline project: plunder.” (ibid.)

“[E]lectoral democracy, another stronghold of electoral plunder, has brilliantly survived a major political scandal: Bush v Gore […]

“[The dispute over recounting of a few ballots in Tallahassee, Florida] can be considered a spectacular episode of electoral plunder certified by the Supreme Court of the United States. [….]

“President Bush with the support of roughly 25 percent of the American people, that is, less than 1 percent of the people of the world, has been acting ever since as the global decision maker of war and peace, deciding for plunder generated by military might. What is striking is that his international politics of terror (shock and awe) has ultimately survived the global legitimacy test because he was elected. Despite lessons from twentieth-century Europe and elsewhere, where ruthless dictators have been elected to power, elections – no matter how corrupted or stolen – are still ultimately deemed the only relevant aspect of democracy, as the Iraqi and Afghani peoples are experiencing while daily suffering death and plunder.” (ibid., chapter 7, “Hegemony and plunder”)

[Restore confidence] The Ruling Class, Inside the Imperial Congress (Eric Felten, produced under The Heritage Foundation’s US Congress Assessment Project, Regnery Gateway, Washington DC, 1992) makes a number of critical comments and cites a number of facts. Edwin J Feulner, Jr., president, The Heritage Foundation, in the preface of The Ruling Class, calls to “restore confidence in American government.” The foundation president writes: “That confidence has been shaken to its foundations in recent years”. Feulner mentions reasons for the foundation shaking: “a succession of scandals” and “the inability of Congress – on a continuing basis – to do its job.” The president continues with an observation, which may appear hard to digest by a quarter: “In the eyes of some critics, Congress’s law-making responsibilities now rank far below its perceived priorities: constituent service, bringing pork home to the state, and appearing on television in the company of Hollywood personalities. The result: a preoccupation with the politically popular fads and myths which engage various celebrities and special interests, while the important business of Washington – establishing spending limits and budget priorities, for example – goes begging.” Here doesn’t end the conservative voice.

[No legislation in a legislature] In the “Introduction” of The Ruling Class, director of the project David M Mason writes: “[T]he United States Congress is a legislature that has stopped legislating. [….] [T]oday Congress exercises most of its power through methods other than legislation and spends most of its time on non-legislative pursuits. The legislation that remains, and the legislative process, is twisted into a convoluted and intentionally confusing mess.”

[A fiefdom] The “Prologue” of The Ruling Class cites a number of stunning examples in support of its claim, and says: the ruling class members “by rejecting legislative means have shielded themselves from the scrutiny of the voters. They have become the barons in an Imperial Congress where the protection and expansion of personal fiefdom outweighs the needs of the nation. Deceit, calumny, and character assassination are commonplace as our representatives strive to augment their power.”

[Voting before seeing] The Ruling Class cites incidents/examples of “mixed up speeches”, bill raced on “well before staff aides had even finished writing the bill”, members voting “overwhelmingly for […] measures without ever seeing it”, “not even committee members had the opportunity to read the bill’s text”, debate on a bill begins “though no one had yet seen the text”, “empty votes on bills known only to unelected staff aides”, “hold a hearing and drum up some press; fly to the Third World and exercise a little personal diplomacy”, one member argued that “America need scientist to compete with Japan; therefore […] a congressional pay rise would help keep the U.S. competitive”, Congress members “labor to mislead their constituents”, evading accountability, “both sides of the aisle in Congress have much more in common with each other than with the public they ostensibly represent”, “trickery” that “helps Congress maintain one of its most blatant double standards: Members are exempt from most of the laws, rules, and regulations they inflict on the rest of us”, “inconvenient issues […] all too often simply swept under the parliamentary rug”, “partisan maneuver, bathed in saccharine apologies about the ‘constraints of time’” that “occurs on almost every important piece of legislation”.

[Hearing, the much propagated tool] While discussing congressional hearing, The Ruling Class cites an October 1990-hearing on Iraqi military that exposes a fact: “The centerpiece of the caucus [The Congressional Human Rights Caucus] hearings […] was testimony by ‘Nayirah’. Nayirah was a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl who broke into tears as she told of seeing Iraqi soldiers steal maternity-ward incubators, leaving infants to die on the hospital floor. This tale of shocking cruelty became a refrain in the speeches of lawmakers seeking to justify their support for action in the Persian Gulf. But, though Iraqis committed thousands of brutal crimes against Kuwaitis, stealing occupied incubators does not seem to have been among them. Nayirah’s real name was kept a secret, ostensibly to protect her family from retribution by Iraq. As it turned out, her family was already as high profile a target as it was likely to be: Nayirah’s father was the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States, Saud Nasir al-Sabah. Rep. Lantos [California Democrat Tom Lantos, who chaired the hearing] kept the fact under wraps, along with information that her appearance had been arranged by Kuwait’s public-relations firm, Hill and Knowlton. Had Nayirah’s identity been known, it might have led some lawmakers to be more skeptical toward her story”.

The above notes help remedy spell-bound syndrome a group of experts experience while they engage with propaganda that serves imperialism. Probably, they will turn cautious while standing for only a certain community or color, while considering certain category of hearings as a tool for digging out truth.

Note:

[1] The note presented separately because of its length, yet long after drastically sorting out a lot, tells a few aspects of the economy, which helps understand it.

 

Farooque Chowdhury, writing from Dhaka, has not yet authored/edited any book on non-earthly issues, and neither he does operate any blog/web site nor any facebook nor similar accounts.

 

 

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