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Issue #1928      August 17, 2020

Stop economic wars

Report on webinar, 1st August, 2020

This discussion involved three men from very different backgrounds and it was enlightening to hear their comments about what was happening from their very different parts of the world in 2020. Caleb Maupin, a journalist and political analyst from Brooklyn, began by painting the picture outside his window of police cars on fire, police precincts being attacked, and general chaos in the streets, at a time when COVID-19 was devastating the country.

In his view imperialism is at the basis of society’s problems: it’s a system in a deep state of crisis, in which bankers and millionaires control the economy. He gave as an example of imperial dominance: 19th century Britain destroying the economic development of India by burning their weaving factories which were competing with Manchester’s mills. Further examples of capitalist imperialism were Mexico, Libya and Iraq, the latter reduced to chaos, while Saudi Arabia and companies such as Exxon, Chevron, BP, and Shell benefit. He described the US like “Viking Raiders,” raping and pillaging and leaving once prosperous countries in poverty.

He stressed how imperialism keeps the world poor while the City of London and Wall Street rake in the money. He related that after visiting Quito in 1999, he saw how desperate the people were having been forced to use US dollars.

Same again in Russia after the changes in 1989 when it was forced to import US food. He related how US companies had bought Russian steel mills and promptly closed them and he saw the response of Chávez in Venezuela, and Putin in Russia as being a response to neoliberalism, commenting that there’s a need for new resistant movements worldwide.

He implied that imperialism is keeping countries in a state of poverty under the excuse of eliminating terrorism. The US is now trying to do the same with Iran in order to keep its monopolies.

Lenin’s standpoint on imperialism and the split in socialism is as relevant today, in all its essential aspects, as in his own day. The world is divided up into imperialist and non-imperialist countries, between oppressor and oppressed nations. At the turn of the century Lenin argued that a small number of other imperialist countries joined Britain in exploiting the whole world:

“A handful of wealthy countries [...] England, France, United States and Germany – have developed monopoly to vast proportions, they obtain superprofits [...] , they ‘ride on the backs’ of hundreds and hundreds of millions of people in other countries and fight among themselves for the division of the particularly rich, particularly fat and particularly easy spoils [...]”

This still goes on.

Maupin went on to talk about the “aristocracy” of labour who are naturally loyal to Empire and have become the new bourgeoisie middle class. He observed that this is now being demolished in America, where infrastructure has been dismantled – broken roads, polluted water, and low wages – all adding to the instability. He commented that there had never been such a hatred of the military.

Trump is escalating America’s attempt to bring socialist countries like Cuba and Venezuela to heel with ever-emasculating sanctions; now trying to stop vessels from Iran to Venezuela; and using sanctions to cut off these countries from the world economy. He stressed that Trump is petrified of ideas such as the One Road One Belt initiative, which is a way out of imperialist domination by encouraging poor countries to trade with each other.

People should realise that global hostilities are not in their interest. Where the US economy is based on the military and monopolies, the alternative could be seen as a peaceful means of prosperity.

Academic, political analyst, and expert on the Middle East, Tim Anderson added to the discussion, by referring to Lenin and the period of the First World War when monopolistic regimes were competing for Empires. Then monopolies were the cutting edge of imperialism but today Russia and China provide counterweights to the US, which still has 800 military bases around the world. It isn’t so much a competition between empires now.

Since WW2 people globally gained self-determination: there was, in the 1960s, the International Bill of Rights, which is being ignored by today’s imperialist nations. Ten nations originally abstained from this, amongst them US, Australia, and New Zealand – all countries with racial problems. For instance, the US still talks about liberty whilst enjoying slavery. Colonial powers still do not allow democracy. There are propaganda wars against attempts to introduce socialism such as Bolivar, Chávez, Castro, etc., who have tried to bring countries together, with something similar being attempted in the Middle East. Collaboration between Venezuela and Iran has been astounding in resisting imperialism and its illegalities. But Western propaganda is trying to link Chávez with Hitler. Other lies have been weapons of mass destruction in order to invade Iraq; use of chemicals in Syria. There needs to be resistance struggles linking Latin America and the Middle East, as alliances against US imperialism is very important. These networks are proving powerful as could be seen when they hesitated to attack Syria because of Russian support. He felt there needs to be resistance networks built against global imperialism.

Daniel Gasparri, Head of Mission at the Venezuelan embassy in Australia, reported on the latest events in Venezuela. He stated that countries who do not kneel to the wishes of the imperialists are attacked aggressively. Because of the US sanctions businesses find it impossible to trade with Venezuela. That country’s assets of $30 billion have been frozen by the US, UK, Portugal, and others and Venezuela has taken it to the International Court. Because of the economic situation caused by these sanctions, two million people have left Venezuela in the last four years. But the country has risen to the COVID-19 challenge with the lowest number of cases, with ten people dying in a country of thirty million people because of its excellent health programme. There were 1,270 cases last week.

He stated that plenty of people want to return to Venezuela, with six million returning from Colombia but this isn’t reported in the western newspapers. He mentioned the farce of the attempt to kidnap Maduro by mercenaries from the US, who had been part of a security team elsewhere in Venezuela. Nevertheless the sanctions are really hurting the country.

Caleb Maupin praised George Galloway in the UK, who was trying to educate people about imperialism. People don’t want wars but unfortunately to defy their “masters” they become more right-wing rather than embrace socialism. Looking at how to change tactics he felt people around the world need to build a movement against imperialism which is not tied to the left but comes directly from the masses.

Next article – Marxism and socialism in the 21st century

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