The Guardian October 3, 2001


Experts conclude: bin Laden's the cause of global capitalist crisis

It's all Osama bin Laden's fault. Bankruptcies, downsizing, massive job 
losses, the collapse of the world's economy and the slide into recession. 
The Financial Review said so on its front page on September 28: 
"Terrorists have struck a devastating blow to the global economy, which is 
heading for the most severe recession for decades." The Financial 
Review writers were so elated to have discovered the real cause of 
capitalism's woes they devoted an entire editorial to it.

The editorial began with this revelation: among those who operate the 
world's financial system  who trade in shares, organise mergers and 
takeovers, gamble on the futures market etc  there are an unspecified 
number of global gangsters! Staggering!

"When a financial authority such as the president of Germany's Bundesbank, 
Mr Ernst Welteke, thinks there is a chance that the terrorists behind the 
World Trade Centre attack may have profited financially, it is time for 
some rethinking about the oversight of the international financial market 
regulation", said the editorial.

On the other hand, it is too early to be "overly certain" about terrorists 
using the financial markets because "there were sound economic reasons to 
be bearish before the attacks, especially about airline shares" (ask Ansett 
workers if moving in for the kill on financially distressed airlines and 
their employees isn't some form of terrorism against workers).

Following the announcement by the US Government that it would develop "the 
international financial equivalent of law enforcement's most-wanted list", 
the Financial Review" noted that the American Bankers' Association was 
reluctant because "it is particularly difficult to identify people with 
financial assets who are indirectly linked to terrorists."

(Such benefit of the doubt and presumption of innocence will not apply to a 
targeted section of ordinary people in the US  Arab-Americans  who, if 
the reactionaries get their way, will be subject to ethnic profiling and 
discrimination against them as passengers on commercial airlines.)

What those bankers understand is that even a cursory examination of their 
operations would expose all kinds of blood and filth. After all, their 
global financial system is based on theft, through war when it suits.

Terrorism is just one of its natural facets amid all the others such as the 
exploitation of labour, dispossession of entire populations and peoples, 
incitement to racism, division along religious and ethnic lines, the 
whipping up of blind hatred into genocide ... and so on.

I mention these class contradictions because they are at the heart of the 
entire terrorist attack/financial crises, and are covered up under all 
sorts of allusive rhetoric in the torrential mass media coverage of New 
York and Washington. In this I am again indebted to the Financial 
Review which has thoughtfully raised the question of power, and who has 
it.

"Corporate chief executives have all but disappeared from the ranks of the 
truly powerful as they struggle to persuade investors to let them keep 
their jobs",says Alan Kohler (Financial Review, September 28). "The 
power of wealth is also dissipating, thanks to the operation of the free 
market."

According to Kohler, "power in Australia revolves around the office of the 
Prime Minister, John Howard." To this comforting little picture of free 
market democracy and its representatives in Parliament Kohler contrasts 
"Osama bin Laden and his followers" who have "shown the power of suicidal 
fanaticism when mixed with just a modest amount of money."

But wait a minute. Last week Howard and his Government voted "against" 
proposed legislation that would have taken away the fat bonuses company 
executives pay themselves before they desert their sinking businesses, 
leaving workers owed millions of dollars in entitlements.

Who did Howard do that for? How about the likes of the major shareholders 
of Ansett (16,000 jobs gone), One Tel (1,600), Coles Myer (1000), Daimaru 
(1000), Gate Gourmet (750), Bradmill (1000), Arnott's (500), to mention 
just some of the higher profile crashes this year.

Nor let us forget National Textiles, where Howard's brother and his fellow 
board members each awarded themselves $103,000 bonuses in the full 
knowledge that the company was about to hit the wall. You will recall that 
the Government bailed them out of that little corner with taxpayers' money 
 a $7 million gift of brotherly solidarity.

And just as "experts" have revealed that bin Laden has a lot to answer for 
over the state of the economy, he's also apparently just the tip of the 
terror iceberg. "Experts" are also suddenly discovering terrorism in every 
resistance movement, uprising and independence struggle.

According to "terrorist expert" Rohan Gunaratna  from the Centre for the 
Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at St Andrew's University in 
Scotland  Australia must increase its preparedness for terrorism. He 
suggests the creation of a special unit in the Federal Police and a 
crackdown on "terrorism support networks" who "use propaganda to generate 
fund-raising and motivate recruits".

Mr Gunaratna has a list of organisations he says are being supported from 
Australia. They include Hamas, Hezbollah, the Kurdish Workers' Party and 
the Tamil Tigers. Well, as the saying goes, one person's solidarity 
organisation is another person's terrorist fund, just as one person's 
terrorist may be another's freedom fighter.

There's that class question again: whose interests are these "experts" 
defending? We are seeing the emergence of a process to label as "terrorist" 
all groups, individuals and movements who oppose, in one form or other, the 
rule of global capitalism. To put bin Laden in context he, and the 
mujahideen and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, are products of this 
self-same drive to dominate the world.

Bin Laden was recruited by the CIA in the 1980s during the Soviet war 
against the US-backed fundamentalists mujahideen who were trying to 
overthrow the then progressive government of Afghanistan. The mujahideen 
were funded through US military aid, via the CIA, and by the heroin trade 
that was run by Pakistan's secret service, the Inter Services Intelligence, 
and the CIA.

They became the world's leading heroin producers, supplying 60 percent of 
the US market. Said former CIA director of Afghan operations, Charles 
Cogan, "I don't think we need to apologise for this. Every situation has 
its fallout. There was fallout in terms of drugs, yes. But the main 
objective was accomplished  the Soviets left Afghanistan."

Unfortunately for the powers that be, running guns and drugs to 
fundamentalists only resulted in them going deeper into crisis. Today the 
major transnational corporations are still trying to dig themselves out of 
a grave of their own making, first with their program of globalisation, and 
now with globalisation's armed wing, global repression under the guise of a 
"war on terrorism".

All those people protesting on the streets around the world against the 
plans of the World Bank, IMF, WEF etc, are now going to be accused of 
supporting terrorism and of thwarting global economic recovery. Everyone is 
either the enemy or a potential enemy. It's them or us. The class war, 
friends, is alive and kicking.

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