Monday, May 07, 2007
U.S. Imperialism, the Iraq War and Global Discord
The following is a speech I gave at a diversity conference at Ferris State University on the Marxist perspective on war and how imperialism helps to destroy "diversity" by sowing ethnic conflict, racism, and war.
Imperialism the Iraq War and Global Discord
This month marks the fourth year of murder, rape, death, and deprivation, in short a living hell, made by the U.S. for the people of Iraq. I am going to talk to you today about the topic of the Iraq War, the U.S. Occupation, U.S. imperialism and what this means for “diversity” and for the prospect of people getting along and working together. I will approach this topic from an angle that some may not have heard before, and thus may be confusing, I will try to be clear without being simplistic. My perspective is revolutionary Marxism. What does this mean and what does this have to do with the multiracial/multiethnic/multigendered and class divided society in which we live? It has everything to do with it. My main purpose will be to talk about the present racist, murderous U.S. war and occupation of Iraq and U.S. imperialisms impact on world diversity. I will demonstrate how at every chance U.S. imperialism, and it is imperialism, has acted to break apart unified multiethnic states, acted to fan and even ignite racial and ethnic hatreds worldwide, and has in general acted to hinder the cause of workers and the labor movement in general. I would like to talk for about half an hour or so and then leave the rest of the time open for questions, comments, and discussion.
What is revolutionary Marxism?
Simply put, revolutionary Marxism is the world view that the present epoch of capitalism is based upon and characterized by bloody genocide, slavery, racism and war and cannot exist otherwise. Capitalism is based upon the exploitation and domination of the labor and lives of the mass of the working population by a handful of capitalists, their retainers and lackeys. Capitalism must by necessity drive down the wages and living conditions of the workers in pursuit of profit. Profit we must say, is the result of the exploitation of the labor of the working class. This is based in Marx’s labor theory of value, which states that all value, anything that can be used, bought or sold, is the sole product of human labor, mental or physical work in the production of commodities. Value is not created by managers or investors, they simply appropriate or steal the fruits of the labor (the surplus value) of the working people. This is what constitutes capitalist profit. The less a capitalist has to pay its workers for the same hours and rate, the more profit the capitalist is able to accumulate.
Capitalism must drive millions of poor peasants off their measly plots into starvation for the proper functioning of global markets and in order to create a hungry and desperate population willing to work in its factories. Capitalism pits workers of different skin colors, national origins, and sexual orientations against each other through competition over the scraps from the master’s table. Capitalism dominates the states of the world, making a sham of the word “democracy,” which under capitalism means the rule of the property owners, plutocrats, and oligarchs. These same rulers, the capitalist class, are at the head of all of the imperialist powers: the U.S., Britain, France, Japan, Germany, Canada, Australia and their many client states including Israel, Saudi Arabia, and capitalist Russia. They wreak untold destruction on a grand scale and constantly threaten the world with nuclear annihilation. Revolutionary Marxism says that the capitalists have created a world of races, nation states, and religions in order to divide populations against each other so that they, the capitalist, might better rule the world, since the workers are so busy hating the racialized workers in the ghetto, or the poor workers south of the border to care about the capitalist. In the words of German revolutionary Karl Liebknecht “the real enemy is at home” meaning the capitalist! Revolutionary Marxism says that the only way out of this truly ghastly situation is through international proletarian, meaning working class, revolutions which smash the murderous capitalist states and replace them with workers governments run by workers councils democratically elected from among the revolutionary proletariat, and begin to abolish classes and private property. Only then can we establish an international planned economy where the poverty stricken areas can become developed, free from decades of industrial torture and death, where humankind can truly realize its potential to solve the worlds problems and achieve the promise of communism: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”
What do I mean by imperialism? Imperialism does not mean old empire simply taking over another state, no. We are I capitalism and imperialism is as Lenin defines it the highest stage of Capitalism. Thus capitalism imperialism is based upon the export of capital, or simply money in the form of leans and investments. The largest lender and investor in the world is the U.S. followed by Western Europe, Japan, Australia, and, Canada. These capitalists states are driven by their competition with one another. This competition drives them to protect and expand these investments, they must reach new markets; find new resources at cheap prices; find new and cheap sources of labor to exploit. All of this means that they must break open, by force is necessary new markets, new resources and new sources of labor. This means that they must break any state in which workers are guaranteed a job for life or where property cannot be accumulated and bought. This means attacking deformed workers states (states where capitalism has been overthrown but the workers are oppressed by Stalinist bureaucrats) like China, Vietnam, North Korea and Cuba. It is the duty of Revolutionary Marxist to defend these states from imperialist attack and from internal counter-revolution. We must support a political revolution to oust the parasitic bureaucrats strangling the revolution! Imperialism also means attacking closed right wing dictatorships, which do not play nice with imperialism like Iraq, Iran, Libya, and Syria. These states and their people must be defended from imperialist attack but we must give their reactionary rulers not one iota of political support and encourage revolution against their capitalist, chauvinist ant-women rule.
Now to business!
What is the role of the U.S. in the world today?
Frankly, the role of the U.S. in the world today is as the enforcer of the conditions of global capitalism which daily condemns millions to squalor, ignorance, disease, exploitation, and poverty. How is this so you ask? Isn’t the U.S. an arsenal of democracy? Doesn’t the U.S. topple dictatorships and liberate people? Through a compilation of cases I will demonstrate that this is not so. That in fact the U.S. supports all kinds of dictatorships and repressive governments, especially those governments that fight against revolution, equality and workers rights. So let’s work backwards in time and look at the results of the last twenty or so years of U.S. policy and interventions and their impact upon multiethnic societies, and the standards of living of the worlds people.
Case number one, we have the current occupation of Iraq that began with the brutal unprovoked invasion in March 2003. After a savage invasion that decimated the countries infrastructure (even today electricity, safe drinking water, and petrol fuels are a scarce and expensive commodity in an oil rich country) and massacred thousands (both military and civilian, and actually more civilians). There followed a violent occupation, which discriminated against the Sunni minority in favor of certain western puppets and overt CIA contacts such as Ahmed Chalabi and Iyad Allawi.
The invasion and subsequent occupation has fanned inter religious and ethnic antagonisms by explicitly backing some groups (mainly Shia and Kurdish factions) while excluding others (mainly former ruling Sunni groups). U.S. violence including murder, rape, daily assaults upon civilians and homes, and now the constant sectarian attacks (many sponsored right out of the Shia dominated ministry of defense and interior) have all reduced Iraq to a living hell for its people. According to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study published last year in the British journal The Lancet, since the 2003 invasion, over 650,000 excess deaths have occurred because of the occupation, a majority of deaths occurring because of gun shot wounds, air strikes and a rising number of car bombs. Of this 650,000 plus excess deaths, 31% or about 201,000 deaths can be attributed to coalition read U.S. and Western forces in Iraq.
The point of all of this is to show not only the terror perpetrated and spawned by the U.S., but also to show that U.S. actions have condemned Iraq and its people to a living hell with no end in sight short of the complete and immediate withdrawal of all U.S. and imperialist occupiers and a massive social revolution in Iraq to rip power away from the reactionary mullahs and the remnants of the capitalist Baathist regime.
Case number two, we have last summers’ Israeli war on Lebanon and Hezbollah which killed over one thousand civilians, including hundreds of women and children, and an unknown number of Hezbollah fighters. The Israelis lost 116 soldiers and 43 civilians in the Hezbollah response. Israel indiscriminately bombed civilian centers including the cities of Beirut and Tyre. Israel undertook this criminal act on the pretext that two of its soldiers were captured by Hezbollah. Now soldiers are legitimate military targets, they are in the military! Hezbollah has done this from time to time to gain bargaining power to free some of it captured people, among the 7000 Arab and Palestinian political prisoners sitting in Israeli concentration camps. Now Israel would never have been able to do this without direct political approval from the U.S. And here it is: John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the UN admitted to the BBC on March 22,
that the U.S. deliberately resisted calls for a ceasefire in the Israeli attack on Lebanon. And that the U.S. wanted Hezbollah’s military capacity eliminated regardless of the cost. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6479377.stm).
Now the Israeli war and the ousting of Syria from Lebanon by Christian and Sunni political forces backed by the U.S. military on the border with Syria has created a serious problem. It has given new strength to the right wing, anti-women, clerics leading Hezbollah and it has entrenched the minority ruling Sunni/Druze/Christian coalition in Lebanon. For Lebanon is a sham democracy based upon ethnic apportionment of parliamentary seats, based upon a 1930’s census which systematically undercounts and disenfranchises the Shia in the south who are probably now a majority, but the ruling parties, which the U.S. backs, will not allow a census because it would unseat them from power. This is a denial of basic democratic rights and directly undermines the delicate multiethnic fabric which is Lebanon, which only recently emerged from a fifteen year civil war.
A third case, briefly, included the entire U.S./ E.U. policy toward the former Yugoslavia and the Former Soviet Union. In the late eighties and early nineties, the capitalist class in the west was blowing its own trumpet over the so-called “death of communism” in Eastern Europe. That meant the unmaking of the deformed workers states of Eastern Europe, and the destruction of the Soviet degenerated workers state, the product of the only successful proletarian revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. In their rush to restore capitalism to these areas the U.S. and Western Europe undermined the only institutions that guaranteed the rights of minorities in these states. Because of the collapse of Communism, multiethnic peaceful Yugoslavia was consumed by fratricidal bloodletting at the hands of its new capitalist embracing politicians. This included the counter revolutionary destruction of the Soviet Union, openly supported by the U.S., opened the way for the emergence of all kinds of racist nationalist attitudes including great Russian chauvinism, evidenced in the two bloody wars against the small, beleaguered, backward, Muslim republic of Chechnya. While the West blames the communist past for these atrocities, it is the present capitalist regimes in these countries that are actually responsible for destroying these multiethnic societies.
The “anti-war” movement
Currently, as during past wars, the opposition by the populations of the advanced capitalist countries to the predatory wars of their own governments has been captured and channeled into various “peace” coalitions, or anti-war movements. These peace groups, unfortunately spread a dangerous lie, the lie of social pacifism. What is social pacifism? It is the unqualified opposition to all wars and the call to come to immediate peace. What is the problem with this you ask? The problem with this is that from the Marxist, proletarian revolutionary perspective it is a betrayal of all of those oppressed and enslaved peoples who have no other way out of their situation than by violence. Would these same people preach “peace” to the American slaves who were only set free by a massive force of arms? Would they preach peace to the peasants of eighteenth century France, who were ground down by the corrupt aristocracy? Of course not. These acts of violence were totally necessary and progressive acts for all of humanity. Then why do the peace activists call for peace now? Peace only means the maintenance of the status quo. That means the maintenance of the U.S. military domination of the world, that means the maintenance of grinding poverty for literally billions of people on the planet, that means daily death for thousands of people from absolutely preventable disease and malnutrition, that means the continuation of the entire capitalist system that daily drives down the wages and working conditions of the worlds population, that means the maintenance of the racist U.S. state with the largest prison population in the world, with thousands of poor black and Latino youth languishing in prison hell for the victimless crime of drug possession, including marijuana. Is this the kind of peace that these “anti-war” peaceniks want?
A second point about the peace movement is its tactics. Its tactics are a key to its politics. Its tactics are to petition, in one way or another, the “good”, “pro peace” politicians or get a peace platform on the agenda of the congress. Who are they trying to kid? First, I should mention, if people do not realize, the Republican party is the undisputed party of the capitalist class and therefore not even a potential ally of the oppressed, at least not at any time after 1876. Therefore, the potential for many seems to be the Democratic party, but this is yet another enormous lie. The Democratic Party is the other party of war, racism, and hatred for the poor. The Democrats have lead the country in every major war this century: Wilson in WWI, Roosevelt in WWII, Truman started the attack on the Korean revolution (otherwise known as the Korean war), Kennedy and Johnson started the war against the liberation of Vietnam, and Clinton lead the air war against Serbian in 1999. Carter renewed the arms race with the Soviet degenerated workers state. So who are the anti war people trying to kid about peace candidates? These same peace candidates today meet, welcome, and court lobbyists from the murderous defense and racist prison industry tomorrow. Today the great so called left liberals Hilary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and Ted Kennedy talk about a wrong course in Iraq and then turn around and praise the murderous, ethnic cleansing state of Israel for its righteous fight against terror. So the point is it is a horrendous mistake to put your faith in a party that is just as invested in imperialism, war, racism and destruction. A party that represents the same class, the capitalist class, that daily drives down wages and working conditions here, for this party to represent peace is only the worst kind of joke.