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Imperialism, Lenin, and US Wars Overseas – World Web News Blog

Imperialism, Lenin, and US Wars Overseas – World Web News Blog

Yves right here. Rob Urie updates a story foretold by Lenin, and Marx too: that capitalism results in focus and inequality. Monetary capitalism and conquest (formal and by creating vassals) lengthen that course of.

 By Rob Urie, creator of Zen Economics, artist, and musician who publishes The Journal of Belligerent Pontification on Substack

The rising sense that ‘the world’ is falling aside is extra exactly the US working via the contortions and dislocations of late-stage capitalism. Following 4 plus many years of more and more shrill exhortations that ‘markets’ have been the bottom establishment of capitalism, the Wall Avenue bailouts of 2008 – 2009 demonstrated that the Federal authorities of the US is the sponsor of a lot of the finance capitalism that now encircles the globe. The motive for this presence: to consolidate US energy on this planet. Anybody who imagines that doing so isn’t ‘political’ ought to examine the historical past of IMF (Worldwide Financial Fund) exercises.

Inside the capitalist purview, finance is politically impartial, one potential path for financial improvement. Specified by graphs under is that the expansion of personal debt (to GDP) has taken place at a selected level in capitalist improvement, one far-off from the economic roots of capitalist manufacturing. A stylized truth pertaining to this stage is financial focus, with energy ever extra narrowly distributed ‘inside’ of capitalist economies. As revenue and wealth have concentrated, so has financial manufacturing. The US is now many years into the present epoch of monopoly capitalism.

The aim of this essay is to develop social explanations of occasions as they unfold. If retired US army officers are appropriate (see right here, right here, right here), the US lacks the munitions to win even one of many wars that it’s presently engaged in. Furthermore, its place resembles that of the Biden administration, the place the present path is seen, however not articulated. The American technique has been an advert hoc assemblage of express and stealth financing of arms gross sales from the American MIC to belligerents rigorously assembled by the US to serve its imperial objectives.

Graph: whereas the Western evolution from industrial to monetary capitalism is a thriller to capitalist economists, each Marx and Lenin not solely predicted it, however defined the financial rationale for it. Whereas public debt might be paid via sovereign cash creation, people and firms lack the authorized authority to take action. And whereas a lot of this non-public debt (to GDP) consists of mortgages, asset seizure is the authorized ‘proper’ of most loans when money owed go unpaid. This provides monetary establishments nice leverage over the lives of debtors. Moreover, monetary establishments shift from being passive lenders to monetary gamesmanship to consolidate their very own energy as these epochs unfold. Supply: IMF.

To prevail militarily would imply rebuilding the economic infrastructure that DC insiders have spent the final forty years jettisoning. The $60 billion that the Biden administration has been determined to safe for Ukraine is extra exactly to maintain NATO’s loss to Russia from voters till after the 2024 election. Associated, the 51-billion-euro battle funding not too long ago permitted by the EU is a placeholder to maintain the American, German, and French munitions producers flush with money to facilitate a everlasting battle in opposition to Russia. What success would seem like on this state of affairs is the additional focus of Western financial manufacturing in ‘American’ palms, that means oligarchs and company executives.

Graph: as predicted by Lenin, American capitalism has turn out to be extremely concentrated over time. Giant US firms (darkish inexperienced space) have turn out to be bigger, and industries extra concentrated, because the Thirties. This focus means much less competitors from weaker gamers, leaving giant firms firmly accountable for Western political financial system. Be aware that monopoly and oligopoly capitalism, the results of this focus, bear no relationship to the aggressive companies that Western economists declare as the premise of ‘market’ economies. Supply: Sales space College College of Chicago.

The reply to the good thriller of why the US launches, or in any other case engages in, wildly murderous and damaging wars regardless of who, or which duopoly celebration, is in energy is: battle is the enterprise of America. Some economies produce mangoes and kittens and a few produce wars. The (army) Keynesian mission that adopted WWII within the US was supposed to be a broadly distributive jobs program for returning veterans. Nevertheless, in totally predictable vogue, capitalist consolidation and focus dictated that these companies can be ‘rationalized,’ that means the canard of capitalist ‘effectivity’ deployed, to transform broad financial distribution into extremely concentrated distribution.

In capitalist economics, monopoly is the uncommon occasion the place energy is of course concentrated (e.g. laid cellphone traces), and thus a job for presidency ‘interference’ in markets is warranted, if solely not often deployed. In distinction, Lenin perceived capitalism by way of historic improvement, and never via ‘comparative statics’ primarily based in Cartesian time. Thus, the good thriller of oligarchs and company executives considerably controlling Western political financial system is framed as an issue of ‘cash in politics.’  Nevertheless, the motion of this consolidation from a weak state to a robust state has been a perform of historic improvement, and never a static enter that yields equal outcomes regardless of its place in historical past.

Graph: restating the info within the high chart, it turns into apparent that 1) trade focus has been rising within the US for the final century and a pair of) monopoly and oligopoly energy now type the core of US capitalism. Utilizing an intuitive instance with the ACA (Obamacare), atomized people select amongst merchandise created by monopoly and oligopoly producers. In different phrases, ‘market indicators’ solely journey in a single route— downward. Additional, the amount and high quality of the product delivered in trade is set solely after the transaction has been accomplished. Such an financial system solely works within the presence of the capability of people to barter as equals. The ACA is structured to guarantee that such a balance-of-power by no means arises. Supply: College of Chicago.

This tendency in direction of consolidation more and more makes giant, concentrated, enterprises the enemy of small enterprise, the alleged ‘lifeblood’ of Western capitalism. The ‘Golden Rule’ of capitalism, that s/he who owns the gold, guidelines, implicitly acknowledges each the concentrated energy that exists inside capitalism, and its worth as ‘political’ capital. By way of the neoliberal ethos, politicians are self-interested financial actors. Their theater of operation is authorities ‘administration’ of capital, e.g. the 2008 – 2009 Wall Avenue bailouts. Politicians see the huge fortunes that they supply ‘their’ donors with, and act to place as a lot of that as they’ll into their very own pockets.

Chart: within the Nineteen Sixties, Washington, DC was one of many poorest cities within the US. Seventy years, and one neoliberal coup, later DC and environs are a playground for the wealthy. Furthermore, ‘public service’ has turn out to be code for creating self-enriching applications nominally within the public curiosity, in addition to the revolving door between authorities and enterprise. Of notice is that Democrats have been overtly feeding at this trough proper subsequent to Republicans. Whereas median wealth within the US in 2022 was $192,900, former Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi has squirreled away $110,000,000 via insider buying and selling and shaking down marketing campaign contributors.  Supply: opensecrets.org.

Any historical past of the US relationship with Russia that appears again farther than February 24, 2022, the beginning of Russia’s SMO (Particular Army Operation), finds three many years of the Russians politely asking the US to not encompass it with NATO forces because the US continued to take action. Likewise, the US-sponsored genocide presently unfolding in Gaza begs the query of the place the Palestinians who’re being exiled will go? Doesn’t the US assist landless people who find themselves being exterminated by a ruthless tyrant? (No). In truth, Israel is doing the bidding of the Biden administration in Gaza as DC insiders are nonetheless ranting concerning the Iranian Revolution (1979). Once more, historical past, somewhat than principle, has bearing.

Moreover, the query of why the US has traditionally acted to crush budding democracies is answered with: American capitalists 1) want clients and a pair of) don’t need opponents. Take into account: the historic trajectory of the final century of capitalism has been towards the consolidation and focus of financial manufacturing in fewer and fewer palms. Capitalists may have been ‘sort’ and saved their American opponents from smash, however revenue maximization / lease extraction led them to conclude in any other case. Why would nationwide opponents look any extra kindly upon worldwide opponents? They wouldn’t. Therefore focus is each ‘inside’ and ‘exterior’ to nationwide economies.

The American refusal to easily exist amongst different nations in a multipolar world, however as an alternative needing to dominate them, finds analog on this consolidation and focus of American trade (graphs above). In key sectors, trade focus creates economies of scale and market energy that in flip produce excessive limitations to entry for opponents. The phrase ‘go huge or go dwelling’ captures the technique whereas excluding its motivating logic. As this course of has unfolded traditionally, ‘American’ trade has turn out to be more and more concentrated, with very excessive (95%) focus at current. This reframes ‘revenue inequality’ away from ethical chide (‘greed’) to make it an impact of financial focus

Graph: coincident with industrial focus has been the focus of incomes and wealth in fewer and fewer palms. Illustrated is that the poorer 80% of the US receives solely a tiny fraction of the revenue earned by the wealthy. This distribution is likewise a perform of historic improvement, and never ‘advantage.’ The incomes and wealth that accrue to oligarchs and company executives are a perform of market energy, not equitable distribution. On this historical past, incomes and wealth have concentrated as market energy has. ‘Advantage’ is misdirection supposed to elucidate away this energy as a perform of nature somewhat than the financial dysfunction of late-stage capitalism. Supply: inequality.org.

The best way that consolidation and focus work is that economies of scale in some industries (e.g. manufacturing, finance) result in worth competitors that’s ruinous for smaller gamers who lack these economies. This results in them both being purchased out by their opponents, or they exit of enterprise. And viola, consolidation and focus are the consequence. To be clear, this is because of market construction in relevant industries, to not the ethical failing of capitalists. Within the US, institutional economists imagined that these efficiencies can be shared with ‘customers.’ Why would they suppose this? Incomes monopoly and oligopoly rents are the purpose of focus.

With the present ‘management’ of the US launching conflicts with Russia, Hamas (Israel), Lebanon, and Iran, one might be forgiven for imagining that it has the aptitude to prevail militarily. However once more, based on retired army (hyperlinks above), the US lacks the munitions and materiel to prevail in opposition to even certainly one of these ‘enemies.’ By stories, Donald Trump had deliberate to launch a battle in opposition to Iran till he was informed by his army advisors that the US would shortly lose such a battle. Ought to Biden assault Iran, it may properly spell the tip of the US. As soon as a tipping level is reached, the US ought to anticipate blowback for the final 150 years of imperial predation.

It was telling that Joe Biden, as he was flailing about for speaking factors to promote his battle in opposition to Russia, began claiming an financial profit from the US proxy battle in opposition to Russia. George W. Bush, Biden’s spirit-guide, additionally claimed an financial profit after no WMDs have been present in Iraq throughout his disastrous battle there. In financial phrases, each have been repeating the ‘damaged home windows fallacy,’ the notion that financial destruction that will probably be changed supplies an financial profit. Whereas this can be true of GDP calculations that don’t internet financial losses from new spending, it’s completely grotesque in human phrases as a principle of how the world ‘works.’

The fallacy is the declare that ‘the financial system’ advantages when a window is damaged as a result of it will likely be changed. GDP rises when the substitute glass is produced, ergo there’s an financial profit to breaking home windows. In fact, what wasn’t executed right here was to deduct the worth of the window that was damaged from the income obtained for the brand new glass. Be aware: the act of paying for the brand new glass implies that the outdated glass had financial worth earlier than it was damaged, else why change it? It offered the identical ‘utility’ as the brand new glass. In human time / house, wars at all times and in all places price greater than they produce by way of financial profit.

What Biden doesn’t tackle with respect to the home windows he’s breaking is the ensuing distribution of funds and prices. The MIC will get wealthy from battle manufacturing The remainder of us, not a lot.  So, there’s one group, the MIC, that loves battle as a result of it will get wealthy from it. However the remainder of humanity is rendered lifeless, disabled and / or destroyed by it. With the damaged home windows fallacy, Biden is telling the MIC that it’ll profit from the destruction of Ukraine and Gaza. However so far as the web profit to humanity from battle goes, it has an enormous minus sign up entrance of it. So, Biden is making the imperialist argument from the attitude of these within the US for whom demise and destruction are a enterprise.

What Western economists select to not tackle with respect to capitalism is financial distribution. By way of ongoing focus throughout and inside industries, industrial focus is a partial clarification for the latest re-concentration of incomes and wealth. The HBO sequence Succession includes a rich household that spends its days replicating the courtroom intrigue of yesteryear because it produces nothing of social worth. That they’re wealthy is a perform of economic gamesmanship somewhat than besting their opponents within the manufacturing of products and companies. ‘Advantage’ on this case is ability at monetary manipulation and courtroom intrigue, somewhat than making higher items at a lower cost.

Liberals, the American left, and yours actually, understand present US actions with respect to the Israelis in Gaza to be ‘fascist,’ within the sense of committing a racist genocide in opposition to the Palestinians. Nevertheless, the Israelis plan an financial profit from exiling Palestinians from Israel. They need the land for added Israeli settlements, and presumably oil and fuel extraction from the ocean simply off the coast of Gaza. The People need enterprise for the MIC, a spot to land and refuel fighter jets, management of the broader Center East, and continued American domination of the world.

Trying again, the People managed to promote WWII as an ethical battle of excellent People defeating evil Nazis. In truth, it was the Soviets, now ‘Russians,’ who defeated the Nazis. And the People are invited to elucidate how some imperial powers are good and others evil when they’re all imperialistic? It was all the best way again within the Thirties when former US Basic Smedley Butler proclaimed the position of the US army to be as a ‘gangster for capitalism.’ The US army exists to make the world secure for the few industrialists, financiers, and useful resource extractors who now represent the American ruling class.

That the political institution within the US seems snug with Biden’s provocations with respect to Russia and Israel has rather a lot to do with it being the beneficiary. In 1968, Washington, DC was one of many poorest cities within the US. In 2024, DC and environs are the richest. Now recall the graphs above that illustrate the historic means of trade and wealth focus within the US. In 1968, trade focus was decrease, and so have been home costs in DC. In 2024, trade focus is larger, as are the concentrations of revenue and wealth. Lenin may need it that neoliberalism represented the evolution from industrial to finance capitalism.

Within the American / capitalist body, this evolution displays the aggregated private selections of three-hundred and thirty-million People, and was due to this fact not possible to foretell. However each Marx and Lenin predicted it simply nice. By means of its inside dynamics, capitalist competitors results in consolidation, and with it, focus. The abandonment of populist / progressive anti-trust enforcement is likewise handled as a thriller. Nevertheless, as consolidation proceeds, energy accrues to the remaining industrialists. As soon as finance enters the combination, the method of consolidation strikes into warp velocity. A central truth of the final 4 many years has been pirate capitalism, the monetization of items of firms as property are being stripped.

Graph: NAFTA was claimed to carry Mexico into the highest tier of capitalist nations. However the actuality is sort of totally different. From the day that NAFTA was applied, the speed of progress of Mexican GDP started to say no. This, as FDI (overseas direct funding) rose and hundreds of thousands of Mexicans noticed their livelihoods destroyed, resulting in their abandonment of conventional methods of residing. These angered by Donald Trump’s xenophobia must take a tough look within the mirror. Invoice Clinton’s insurance policies (e.g. NAFTA) produced the financial refugees from Mexico that Trump was capable of exploit politically. Supply: St. Louis Federal Reserve.

With Mexico’s expertise with NAFTA as a detailed and intuitive instance, after it was handed, American agricultural merchandise have been dumped in Mexico, thereby driving costs under the prices of manufacturing for the indigenous peasants of Mexico. The livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of peasants have been destroyed, ‘releasing’ them to go to work within the maquiladoras that line the US-Mexico border for {dollars} a day, or to flee north to the US in the hunt for a wage. Individuals who had been self-sufficient have been made depending on meals imports, and to work within the cash-economy managed by multinational firms.

In both nominal or inflation adjusted phrases, US-based multinational firms have profited handsomely from NAFTA, whereas those that have been informed they’d profit have had their lives destroyed by it (see right here, right here, right here, right here).

“As for Mexico’s curiosity on this bilateral relationship, it may be summarized in two details: about 80% of Mexico’s exports go to the U.S., whereas 50% of the amassed overseas direct funding obtained between 2000 and 2011 comes from the U.S. Furthermore, NAFTA has been the elemental anchor for reforms that make Mexico a extra trendy financial system and open society.” Mauro Guillen, UPENN.

The ‘reforms that make Mexico a extra trendy financial system and open society’ is reference to the imagined ‘liberalizing results’ of imperialism. With the historical past of NAFTA in hand, it was a neo-colonial pact whereby so-called ‘reforms’ in Mexico facilitated the extraction of wealth by linked People. The declare of advantages to Mexico and Mexicans doesn’t even work as a mean, as a result of the expansion charge of Mexico’s GDP has fallen since NAFTA was applied. Actually, some Mexicans have benefited. They’d be the colonial directors for the People plus a number of random capitalists. Take into account, the identical Joe Biden that supported NAFTA as he slandered the Mexican peasants who fled to the US as a consequence of it, is now ‘serving to’ the Ukrainians.

Whereas readers might quibble with a number of the characterizations on this piece, the broad define suits the details of ‘our’ conundrum. As essentially the most superior capitalist financial system on this planet, the US is farthest down the trail of its last stage. ‘The world’ has been right here earlier than— within the run-up to WWI. V.I. Lenin wrote ‘Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism, throughout this run-up. Had it not been for the New Deal, the destiny of the US would have been left within the palms of capital. The one publicly acknowledged ‘fascist coup’ tried within the US, the ‘Enterprise Plot’ of 1933 revealed by Basic (Smedley) Butler, was carried out by Wall Avenue financiers

With no time to relearn outdated classes, the American political management has gone fully off the rails by beginning wars that it may’t win. Implied is a winner-take-all decision whereby imagined opponents will probably be absorbed into the winner. This was the American plan for Russia earlier than the Russians gained the battle in Ukraine. When you and I, expensive readers, by no means voted for this program, the American ruling class did. And should you think about this ruling class to be clever and world-wise, suppose once more. Whereas issues collapse for us, the inventory market is at a document excessive.

Takeaways: during the last century, capital has consolidated within the method, and to the extent, predicted by each Marx and Lenin. The motivation for this consolidation is intrinsic to capitalism. It due to this fact doesn’t comport with the liberal / American left concern with class battle across the residual of commercial capitalism. Finance capital, the fluid of late-stage capitalism, differs basically from its industrial forebear by way of its place within the evolutionary means of capitalism. Attacking the outdated type distracts from successfully addressing its evolutionary product.

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