Thursday, February 09, 2006

Wny Is US Capitalism So Barbaric?

Of course, all capitalism is barbaric, the very idea of a small minority bullying and exploiting the majority is monstrous, and something we should have thrust into history's overflowing dustbin a long time ago.

However, the British Empire, itself no soft touch, was never as vindictive as the US Empire. (1) Many a Commonwealth leader spent time in a British jail for leading an independence movement. Think only of Kenyatta, Nehru and Nkumah. Yet, after independence these countries were treated like any other. Why couldn't the US have done the same with Castro or the Sandinistas?

If the socialist or nationalist alternatives to US corporate capitalism don't work as the US ideologues claim, then what's the problem? Let people try populism, social democracy, peasant anarchism, anarcho-syndicalism, even marxist-leninism - or any combination thereof - and if such methods don't develop the economy, the people will realize it, drop it, and then do what the Gringos want. Why destroy any attempted alternative? Perhaps it is the realization that some of these alternatives might actually work and that a ruthless corporate capitalism has no answers for economic development, but is merely a means to pillage the weak.

What we have with the US Empire is a deep and bitter hostility to pluralism. Britain and France accepted the fact that many of their former colonies had self-styled socialist or even Marxist-Leninist governments. They found no trouble maintaining normal relations with these regimes. Not the US. Every dirty trick in the book has been used against governments the US disapproves of, including economic warfare, military coups and terrorism.

The Empire mirrors the mother state. Both France and Britain have been more pluralist and in some ways, more democratic than the USA, since at least the turn of the century. Labour, socialist and communist parties have long sat in parliament and no one thought anything of it. In the US, the Debsian SPUSA was hounded out of existence, as was the Communist Party. While anarcho-syndicalists have always been part of the French trade union movement, in the US they were terrorized, subject to both judicial and vigilante lynching. In France dissident intellectuals and artists are celebrities and have streets named after them when they die. In England, while not as celebrated, they are still regarded as part of cultural life. In the USA, such people, when not ignored, are vehemently condemned from press and pulpit, and Hell will freeze before you see a Noam Chomsky Street or Howard Zinn Avenue.

This anti-pluralist and anti-democratic tendency, is I think, rooted in racism, social darwinism and Protestant sectarianism. While all three are also found in England, and the first two in France, they are not as powerful, mitigated by both conservative noblesse oblige and the egalitarian sentiments of a strong social democratic movement. Racism and social darwinism were the dominant aspects of American ruling class ideology and, in spite of cosmetic changes, remain so until today. (2) As for the Protestant sects, their belief that "we are special because we are saved and all others are sinners who deserve eternal punishment" explains the mixture of pious hypocrisy and viciousness you see all the time in US foreign policy.

Take the case of Latin America. To torture and murder hundreds of thousands of people, to deliberately push millions into destitution, such crimes have to be rationalized by claiming inferior status for the victims, both racially and in the so-called struggle for survival. In the USA itself, social darwinism is blatant. The poor deserve to be poor and workers deserve low wages and lousy working conditions, for they wouldn’t be working here if they weren’t losers in the Great Competition of Life. I, on the other hand, in my gated community (sic) and my 20,000 square foot “house” , deserve everything I have, for I am a Winner, and truly, Ghod has smiled upon me.

1. The British killed at least 20,000 people in Kenya and the French hundreds of thousands in Algeria. Hardly a soft touch, yet after independence, the relationship between the new countries and the former masters were normal. The British government did not try to wreck Kenya’s economy, nor did the French send teams of “Contras” into Algeria to rape and murder.
2. The problem is, they are exporting this foul, Nazi-like ideology under the guise of globalization and neoliberalism. Thus Canada and Europe are undermining their social democratic traditions, working and living conditions are declining for the majority, while the parasite minority becomes ever wealthier.

6 Comments:

Blogger Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

It is what it is because that is how they like it. My own theory is that S&M plays a much larger role in American philosophy than it is polite to talk about. "Taste the whip..."

8:59 PM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

"Yes, Severine your servant, taste the whip, in love not given lightly!"

S and M as US corporate policy? Hmmm, kinky. But then the Republican have a pedophile ring running out of DC, so anything is possible.

7:53 AM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

I should have added,

"Taste the whip, now bleeeeed for me!

(For the young folk here, that's from Venus in Furs by The Velvet Underground, ie Lou Reed))

7:57 AM  
Blogger Bob Mercer said...

I wouldn't be too sanguine about the European empirial states accepting "normal" relations with former colonies. Usually, all that was severed was colonial political administration. Governance was outsourced essentially, on the condition that one-sided economic relations continue as before. Witness the Iraqi democracy charade.

As to U.S. barbarism, their "revolution" represented the bourgeois "assassination" of a land-based aristocracy — as later happened literally in France. In tearing up that social contract, which as Larry points out was mitigated by noblesse oblige, the Americans thought they were doing away with — not just replacing — ANY social contract. Supreme hubris, supreme narcissism that still mark American society and its wannabes.

10:02 AM  
Blogger Bob Mercer said...

I wouldn't be too sanguine about the European empirial states accepting "normal" relations with former colonies. Usually, all that was severed was colonial political administration. Governance was outsourced essentially, on the condition that one-sided economic relations continue as before. Witness the Iraqi democracy charade.

As to U.S. barbarism, their "revolution" represented the bourgeois "assassination" of a land-based aristocracy — as later happened literally in France. In tearing up that social contract, which as Larry points out was mitigated by noblesse oblige, the Americans thought they were doing away with — not just replacing — ANY social contract. Supreme hubris, supreme narcissism that still mark American society and its wannabes.

10:02 AM  
Blogger werner said...

We should understand that the social democratic traditions of Europe and Canada have in fact done a certain amount of good ... at least in terms of the ways in which the public perceives these ideas (not necessarily in terms of party platforms). In some ways anarchists should try to present themselves as the logical heirs to the traditions of the past ie. early CCF/red toryism. This is not exactly true but it is a rough approximation. In a similiar fashion to Pat Murtagh's points about dealing with moderate religion ... we have to sort-of "wing it" in our efforts to be taken seriously by people who are WORTH the bother.

5:08 PM  

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