Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 3, Number 14 May 11 - 17, 2003 Quezon City, Philippines
and State Terrorism
Outside its own borders, U.S. imperialism has frequently sponsored fascist regimes in its client states such as the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines, Suharto in Indonesia, Somoza in Nicaragua, Batista in Cuba, Duvalier in Haiti, Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, the Shah of Iran, and of course Saddam Hussein himself when he was still useful to the U.S.
fascism and state terrorism are underlying attributes of monopoly capitalism.
Under capitalism the concentration of political power proceeds from the
concentration of capital.
The monopoly bourgeoisie who own the biggest industrial and financial
firms dominate production, distribution and consumption in the national and
international economy. Therefore, they are also the ruling elites who use the
extensive powers of the imperialist state machinery to protect their industries,
secure sources of raw materials, markets and investment outlets, win over rival
monopoly capitalists of other countries, but most of all to quell the resistance
of the toiling masses whom imperialists must exploit in order to extract their
Mussolini himself said, “Facsism should more appropriately be called
corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.”
boom years, bourgeois parliamentary democracy is generally adequate to assure
the interests of the monopoly bourgeoisie.
But as the fundamental contradictions in the capitalist system give rise
to the crisis of overproduction, the destruction of productive forces, social
polarization, people’s resistance and protest, the ruling elite increasingly
turn to more repression.
outside its own borders, U.S. imperialism has frequently sponsored fascist
regimes in its client states such as the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines,
Suharto in Indonesia, Somoza in Nicaragua, Batista in Cuba, Duvalier in Haiti,
Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, the Shah of Iran, and of course Saddam
Hussein himself when he was still useful to the U.S.
For the U.S., these dictators were most convenient to suppress
progressive and revolutionary forces fighting the tyrannies of imperialist
domination and local comprador-landlord rule.
through wars of aggression and indirectly, through fascist and repressive client
states, U.S. imperialism is by far the most guilty of using state terror against
the people of the world.
the homefront, the U.S. relies less on open fascist policies in the absence of a
strong and militant labor movement.
Nevertheless, the history of U.S. police and intelligence agencies is
replete with instances of covert operations used to harass and intimidate
budding “radical” movements such as the Black Panthers, civil rights
activists, and of course communists or suspected communists and their
the present Bush regime in the U.S. is increasingly perceived as highly
repressive if not openly fascist.
Americans’ sense of “vulnerability” (and the rest of the world’s
empathy) after the 9-11 bombing has been exaggerated and cynically manipulated
in order to re-channel rising social unrest, whip up mass support for
America’s “War on Terror” even as it involves armed intervention and the
curtailment of civil liberties and democratic rights both at home and abroad.
The Bush government has expanded its repressive arsenal in the homeland
through the Patriot Act and a new Department of Homeland Security – which
curtails free speech, allows warrantless arrests, more intrusive surveillance of
suspected “terrorists” broadly defined, and so on.
crisis and “globalization”
the rising tide of fascism and military aggression today is actually the
frenzied face of U.S. imperialism in decline.
Indeed, today’s wars must be situated in the current phase of the
general crisis of imperialism.
the 1970s, the economies of the advanced capitalist countries have been
characterized by sluggish growth. Even as big business continues to invest in
new technologies in its drive to extract ever greater profit, growth rates,
national productivity rates, capital stock formation and net profit rates have
been on the decline, save for the United States in the latter half of the 1990s
Average net profit rates in the G7 countries fell from 17.6% in the
1950-70 period to 13.3% in 1970-93 (Figure 2).
the U.S. economy appeared vigorous in the second half of the 1990s.
But this was due to a speculative build-up in the equities markets using
foreign borrowing which fueled overinvestment in information technology and
buoyed consumer spending.
In Germany and France, growth was under 2% in the 1990s and their
economies continue to battle recessionary pressures.
After decades of stellar post-war growth, the Japanese economy has been
languishing in recession since the bursting of its real estate bubble in 1989.
this crisis is the fundamental contradiction in capitalism: between socialized
production which enables great strides in the capacity of the productive forces
on the one hand, and the private ownership of the means of production which
ensures that only a few profit by exploiting the many.
This contradiction inevitably leads to crises of overproduction – a
situation in which there is a glut in commodities and not enough people with the
capacity to buy them.
shift to neoliberal economic policies in the 1980s is monopoly capital’s
attempt to revive falling profits due to the worsening crisis of overproduction
– by forcing open markets, sourcing cheaper labor and raw materials, and
securing profitable investment outlets.
Through the IMF, WB and the WTO – all of which are
imperialist-controlled institutions – liberalization of investments and trade,
the privatization of public assets, and the deregulation of economies are
imposed on dependent countries under the benign slogan of free-market
neoliberal reforms which aim to maximize profits and minimize wages, benefits
and social spending for workers and the people have only resulted in the
immiserization of the broad masses.
And this further constricts the markets for overproduced goods of
monopoly capital, thus, in fact exacerbating the crisis of overproduction.
Economist noted in 2000: “Thanks to enormous overinvestment, especially in
Asia, the world is awash with excess capacity in computer chips, steel, cars,
textiles, and chemicals. The car industry, for instance, is already reckoned to
have at least 30% unused capacity worldwide yet new factories in Asia are still
coming on stream…. None of this excess capacity is likely to be shutdown
quickly, because cash-strapped firms have an incentive to keep factories running
even at a loss, to generate income. The global glut is pushing prices
relentlessly lower. Devaluation cannot make excess capacity disappear; it simply
shifts the problem to somebody else.”
has also been said that overcapacity in the world economy has increased to its
widest level since the 1930s.
Global steel makers are able to produce as much as 300 million tons of
steel in excess of what global buyers are prepared to buy.
This prompted the US to hike its tariffs in steel last year.
A mere 2.5% of the global infrastructure for telecommunications is
actually utilized today after the overinvestment boom of the 1990s.
The tech-bubble in the US was clearly bound to burst as it eventually did
overproduction rendering further investment in new productive capacity (such as
factories and employment) unprofitable, speculation in currencies, equities,
bonds, financial derivatives, and the like have provided a maddeningly lucrative
outlet for the surplus capital in the hands of monopoly capitalists.
or speculative capital flows made up the fastest growing segment of net capital
exports in the 1990s, rising from US$3.7 billion in 1990 to US$51.0 billion by
2000. Since 1989 daily nominal foreign exchange turnover has more than doubled
to US$1.2 trillion on average today.
In 1976, 80% of all international transactions involved the buying and
selling of goods and services. By 1997 only 2.5% of international transactions
involved the buying and selling of the same; some 97.5% were for speculation.
technological developments underpin this dizzying acceleration in cross-border
financial flows, it is really the result of the rapid financial liberalization
in “emerging markets” imposed by the IMF-WB and their principal, the U.S.
Treasury as part of the neoliberal package of economic reforms – for the
benefit of finance capital.
The so-called “emergent markets” are thus favored targets for
portfolio investors. On their part, the local ruling elites in these client
states welcome these massive speculative inflows because they help mask the
perennial trade and current account deficits intrinsic to neocolonial
the centers of monopoly capital, the finance oligarchy employ arcane financial
chicanery to recycle their surplus capital through the financial markets,
artificially inflating asset values and thereby earning fictitious profits such
as those exposed in the wake of the Enron scandal last year.
the working class in both the advanced capitalist countries and in their
neocolonies, overproduction means layoffs, unemployment, job insecurity and
intensifying exploitation for those that remain employed.
International Labour Organization (ILO) estimated open unemployment at
approximately 160 million worldwide at the end of 2000. This is 20 million
higher than before the peak of the Asian Crisis in 1998. Some three billion or
one-third of the world’s labour force are either unemployed, underemployed or
earn less than is needed to keep their families out of poverty.
Moreover, a growing share of the working population is forced into
lower-income and insecure forms of employment. In unindustrialized countries,
more and more people are forced to survive in the informal sector where earnings
are low and erratic and labor standards are not enforced.
UNCTAD acknowledges that while profit shares have risen in developed and
developing countries alike, the share of wages in manufacturing value-added in
four out of five developing countries today is well below that in the early
also said, “Absolute falls in the real wages of unskilled workers – 20 to
30% in some cases – have been common in developing countries since the early
ILO’s 1998-99 report also affirms that “the share of salaries in world
output went down almost everywhere in the world.”
to the United Nations Development Program’s (UNDP) Human Development Report,
the richest 20% of the world’s population in 1960 already cornered 30 times
the income of the poorest 20%; in 1997, this worsened to 74 times. The assets of
the three richest persons in the world were greater than the combined gross
national product (GNP) of the 48 least developed countries comprising 600
million people. In the advanced capitalist countries, newly created jobs pay
lower wages, forcing workers to hold several jobs to be able to meet a decent
standard of living.
against the people
after two decades of neoliberal restructuring, “globalization” stands
indicted for unmatched poverty in the world, inequality, indebtedness,
environmental degradation, and economic and social insecurity of the vast
majority while the wealth and power of monopoly capital has grossly increased.
resistance to imperialist globalization is therefore gaining in strength in the
neocolonies as well as in the centers of capitalism.
capital’s drive to accumulate and expand is constrained by people’s
movements, anti-imperialist forces, armed revolutionary movements, and growing
inter-imperialist rivalry. Amidst these, U.S. imperialism is pressed to increase
the use of naked force to organize and enforce its global exploitation.
In its desperation to control more markets, raw material sources and
cheap labor havens, strategic territories and hem in imperialist rivals or
non-pliant countries, US imperialism has embarked on expanding and consolidating
its political and military hegemony throughout the world in order to secure its
Thomas Barnett, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College and an advisor to the
Defense Department wrote (in Esquire Magazine, March 2003) in rather crude but
nonetheless accurate terms:
“If we map out U.S. military responses since the end of the cold war,
we find an overwhelming concentration of activity in the regions of the world
that are excluded from globalization’s growing Core—namely the Caribbean
Rim, virtually all of Africa, the Balkans, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the
Middle East and Southwest Asia, and much of Southeast Asia. If a country
is either losing out to globalization or rejecting much of the content flows
associated with its advance, there is a far greater chance that the U.S. will
end up sending forces at some point. Conversely, if a country is largely
functioning within globalization, we tend not to have to send our forces there
to restore order to eradicate threats….”In sum, it is always possible to
fall off this bandwagon called globalization. And when you do, bloodshed
will follow. If you are lucky, so will American troops.”
war and militarism, U.S. imperialism is taking advantage of its unrivaled
military superiority in order to maintain global dominance while offloading
surplus capital and boosting profits for monopoly capitalists.
War spending is a tried and tested strategy of monopoly capital to
stimulate the economy.
More importantly, colonial conquest and “nation-building” is opening
up new spaces for economic expansion and control particularly in countries which
have not been hospitable to the penetration of U.S. monopoly capital (i.e.
countries asserting their independence but demonized as “rogue states”).
Furthermore, controlling oil strengthens the U.S.’ ability to control the economies of other nations; a tactic that becomes ever more critical as global oil reserves diminish. Posted by Bulatlat.com
*Paul Quintos is the deputy executive director of Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education & Research, Inc. (Eiler) and a fellow of the Center for Ant-Imperialist Studies (CAIS). This paper was delivered at the 19th International Solidarity Affair, The Pearl Manila Hotel, Manila, Philippines May 7, 2003.