Monthly Archives: January 2013

japan nuclear

The Main Threat is the Anarchy of Capitalist Production JAPAN´S NUCLEAR CATASTROPHE

The Main Threat is the Anarchy of Capitalist Production

JAPAN´S NUCLEAR CATASTROPHE

Por Carlos Petroni

In the hands of capitalists: Japan and the World as we know it approaches its end.Under capitalism, nuclear energy is collective suicide. The disaster at the Fukushima nuclear complex is currently demonstrating this: six reactors are seriously damaged and emitting clouds of radiation and leaking radioactive water that threatens the lives of millions. Fukushima is thse active reminder of Chernobyl (Pripyat, Ukraine), Three Mile Island (Pennsylvania, USA) and dozens of other “nuclear accidents.”

Fukushima is an obsolete nuclear plant dating from the 1960s. Built like a giant Russian roulette wheel on known earthquake fault lines, it is just a short distance from the ocean with its potential for tsunamis and in the midst of millions of people.

Now, in the wake of this disaster, the facts are emerging that the Japanese government, along with domestic and foreign companies, have not reported previous accidents at this plant and have been negligent about necessary maintenance. They built and expanded the plant exclusively for the potential profits of its capitalist owners.

Nature, in her powerful manner, exposed in one day the fragility of nuclear technology, further weakened by cost cutting and the taking of unnecessary risks, all mainly to be used to provide electric power to big Japanese industries. It also exposed the dangers of a technology whose operators lack the resources, know-how or ability to repair damage in the case of an “accident” like at the Fukushima nuclear complex.

There is nothing that science or the Japanese government can do to resolve this catastrophe. Once the plant melts down, all we can do is watch hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of deaths and economic destruction of the country. Meanwhile the Japanese working class and the rest of the world watches and waits in shock as the bourgeoisie of Japan and the rest of the world shows its indifference via inconsequential criticism and ineffective symbolic actions.

As a result of this catastrophe, Germany has decided to close its seven most obsolete nuclear power plants and the French government has harshly criticized the Japanese for allowing the circumstances that made this crisis possible. U.S. imperialism is attempting to hide its own potential nuclear disasters. Even “progressive” Hugo Chavez must now freeze his plans for the construction and development of nuclear power plants because it was  ”discovered,” during the planning and construction stage, that the planned facilities have all the potential dangers unleashed in the Japanese Fukushima tragedy.

All of this is evidence of the criminal intentions of the international bourgeoisie. They shed false tears now and wait patiently for enough time to pass for us the public to forget this new mass murder. This has happened before, at Chernobyl (Ukraine) and Three Mile Island (Pennsylvania, USA) and in many other instances. Soon they will return, if they can, to operating in the same way.

Capitalism must guarantee sufficient profits to the energy industry in order for them to build and operate the nuclear power plants. Everything else is subservient to this profit margin, including lives, homes, jobs and safety for all the inhabitants of the planet. In order to guarantee these profits regulations are weakened, loopholes are found, accidents are hidden, inferior materials are used, maintenance costs are cut, and workers salaries are curtailed.

The plant operators economize on technological research related to handling disasters, plants are kept operating beyond their initial life expectancy, and nuclear waste disposal is left to chance and political maneuvering. It has been undeniably demonstrated, most recently in Japan, that the specific areas where these plants are built and operated are under constant risk of nuclear genocide.

Governments collaborate with business to expand business profits by turning a deaf ear to the complaints of scientists and researchers, by not implementing existing laws or watering them down, and by extending permits to keep plants open beyond their original life expectancy. Companies have reached the point where they do not even inform their governments, much less the public, when disasters occur. This is how we arrived at the situation where the Japanese Prime Minister heard about the latest explosion in the reactors at Fukushima through the public media. Such is the impunity felt by these businesses.

Like during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans or the devastating tsunami in Asia in 2004 that left more than 300,000 people dead in a dozen countries, the coastal defenses, advanced warnings of the path of the disasters, evacuation plans and immediate assistance to victims simply did not exist or evaporated in the early stages. Governments were missing beforehand in prevention efforts. As a result they were overwhelmed and inadequate in their relief efforts and other assistance.

In Japan, this nuclear disaster has exposed these failures of the bourgeoisie government. An ocean with a record of earthquakes, seaquakes and tsunamis, sent towering 30 foot waves over hundreds of kilometers of land that should not have been inhabited.  The tsunami smashed through concrete and steel protective barriers and other infrastructure as if they were made of paper and flooded nuclear and petrochemical plants that should never have been built where they were.

Of course, this situation is not limited to nuclear plants. This happens in all industries. Do you recall Bhopal and the petrochemical disaster of Union Carbide in 1984 in India? Do you remember the oil spill in Alaska and more recently the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as well as hundreds of other catastrophes that have occurred in the last decade alone? The airplanes that crash, the trains that derail, buses and rail vehicles that crash because regulations have been eliminated or maintenance has been cut back, the industrial plants that have been used beyond life expancy all are examples of every way profits have been prioritized over safety.

 Bhopal Disaster: Between 6,000 and 8,000 people died in the immediate aftermath and more than 12,000 have died of related illnesses. Today the effects of that toxic cloud that affected 600,000 people is still impacting 150,000 of their lives.

The disaster at Fukushima is massive and deadly, is at the level of a capitalist genocide and as a result, it shakes the conscience of the world. However capitalism and the bourgeoisie apply the same practices, to a greater or lesser extent, in all these disasters. In the end, the numbers may be bigger or smaller, but the result is always multiple deaths and the gradual death of our planet.

The growth of consumption, above all in the industrialized world and by the dominant and privileged social classes, is putting excessive pressure on natural resources and creating extreme exploitation that upsets nature’s balance and aggravates her response. Thus, floods, tsunamis, earthquakes and hurricanes strike at human society in ways it has not previously experienced. This destiny could be avoided through global planning around resources and geographical location. It is necessary to eliminate unnecessary consumption and the anarchy of capitalist production.

Capitalism, as a world system, is exhausted. Capitalism is living through a period of its mortal agony and for this reason has become a lot more dangerous. It has mobilized all its defenses in order to survive the inevitable, by reinforcing the strength of its political states, cutting the democratic benefits of the masses, and increasing the devastation of natural resources, both non-renewable and those that are renewable that it does not know how to grow sustainably. It is time to end capitalism or it will put an end to the planet and to human civilization as we know it.

The people of the world see their own reflection in the mirror of Africa (mutilated resources, the violations wrought by wars and invasions, tribal struggles, and illnesses and pandemics that are liquidating national states one after the other). We can also see our reflection in the devastating tragedy under way in Japan which is causing Japan as we know it to disappear and become a ruin of its former self. This is the future of all of us in the hands of the capitalists.l

OccupiedAztlan

The Theft of Mexican Territories, US Imperialism is born

OccupiedAztlan

The Theft of Mexican Territories,

US Imperialism is born

By Jorge Suárez

Monroe Doctrine: “America for Americans.” Americans means citizens of the USA, of course.

Manifest Destiny: the ideology that the US is destined to extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast; attacking and destroying the indigenous people of this land and stealing the Mexican territories was just part of the process.

1817-1829 – The colonization of Texas by settlers from the US began during the Mexican war of independence and at the expense of and against the wishes of those to the East (1817).

1821 – After independence, Mexico suffers widespread economic destruction and a commercial blockade enforced by defeated Spain. The US begins to weave its plans of conquest.

1823 – The US recognizes Mexico’s independence in exchange for agreements allowing further expansion of the USA.

1824 – Fall of the self proclaimed emperor Iturbide in Mexico and proclamation of the Federal Republic.

1824-1829 – Guadalupe Victory; First President of Mexico

1825 – Mexican Congress authorizes the settlement of US colonizers (mainly English or Anglo-Saxons) in the state of Texas. These 300 slave-owning families were originally allowed to establish themselves in a specific limited area, but quickly expanded their plantations taking up ever more Mexican land. This soon turned into a full-scale invasion with the creation of landholders owning huge areas, alarming the Mexican government with the rapid escalation.

1825 – Mexico abolishes slavery.

1829 – Mexico expedites the decree of abolition. The Mexican government (under President Vicente Guerrero) attempts to implement the decree abolishing slavery effective in Texas and tries to stop US colonization there. The USA itself would not abolish slavery until 1865, as part of the conclusion of the US Civil War.

1830 – President Anastasio Bustamante prohibits the entry of more US colonizers and expels the US ambassador Poinsett for interfering in the internal affairs of Mexico. The same ambassador was involved later in “buying” Texas from Mexico.

1835 – The independence and the subsequent US annexation of Texas is on the horizon. Mexico votes in a new constitution and becomes consumed with political chaos due to division between contending political forces there. The Texas colonizers form a militia and stage an armed uprising against the government of Santa Ana under the pretext that the federal system had become too centralized.

The Conservative Party/Centralists (feudal landlords, upper clergy, older existing military caste) battles politically with the Liberal Party/Federalists (the rising bourgeoisie of liberal landlords, public officials, younger military officers, and advanced intellectuals).

The colonizers’ militia is financed directly by the US with weapons, money, ammunition and even gunboats, while the US publicly claims neutrality.

1836 – The US government militarily defeats the Mexican army in the battle of the Rio San Jacinto, proclaiming Texas as an “independent” country. Mexico does not recognize the independence of Texas.

1838-1839 – First French intervention in Mexico (War of the Pastries). This intervention helps the North Americans in their plans for annexation.

1843 – The Mexican government declares that they consider the annexation of Texas an act of war against Mexico.

1845 – Texas annexed as a US state.

1846 – President Polk sends troops toward the Mexican territory and declares war on Mexico through the first armed conflicts with Mexican troops.

1847 – The US occupies the territories of “Alta California” and “Nuevo Mexico.” These territories are now known as the states of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and California. In March of 1847 the US invades Mexico through the Port of Vera Cruz and on September 14th they occupy Mexico City.

1848 – February, with the US flag waving in the Zocalo (main square) of Mexico City, the US forces Mexico to sign the “Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo” by which the US appropriates more than a million square miles of Mexican territory.

To conceal this historic theft of Mexican territory and portray it for history as an economic transaction, the US pays Mexico the insignificant sum of 15 million dollars. The land stolen from Mexico constitutes almost one third of the current USA and more than half of what was then Mexico. US history books claim the territories were “transferred.”

1848 – 1855 – The California Gold Rush helps complete the Westward expansion. At the time the US concern was to repopulate that vast territory with US settlers. The Gold Rush helped solve this problem. 300,000 people come to California during these years from other parts of the US and other countries.

1862 – 1867 – The Second French intervention in Mexico sees the installation of Emperor Maximillian from France under the reign and with the support of Napoleon III.

1865 – Slavery is abolished in the USA at the conclusion of the US Civil War (1861-1865) between the North and the slavery-supporting South (the Confederacy), which included Texas. The maintenance of slavery in Texas was one of the key factors in the previous theft of Mexican lands. Texas had been a key state in the decision of the South to secede from the US, separating themselves from the Northern states.

1867 – The French invasion is defeated on Cinco de Mayo (The Battle of May 5th), but the war with France continues for several more years. The US celebrates this French defeat as a victory against European imperialism, notwithstanding its own conquest under the Monroe Doctrine still being enforced. For Mexicanos, Cinco de Mayo is not a celebration sponsored by Budweiser, but rather the beginning of a period of re-composition of their country that continues to this day.l

An anti-austerity march in London

The Fall of Rome, Constantinople and the Holy Empire: Brussels Trembles

By Nicolás Barros

 

Europe is not transiting smoothly through what appears to be its final decline.

The BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) are acting as its official gravediggers. Germany and

France are benefiting in the short run while the rest of Europe is hurting and sinking deeper into crisis. The past centuries of environmental destruction in Europe, as well as globally, are taking their toll on the environment and natural resources. Workers and the population at large are watching the degradation of their living standard before their eyes, as they lose the global position of privilege that they historically held as a product of semi-colonial exploitation in other parts of the world.

After World War II and the creation of the European Union, the European bourgeoisie thought that they would be reborn as a global empire, overcoming past defeats; however, the barbarians are already at the gates. The fascism of Hitler, Mussolini and Franco in the 20th century foreshadowed this decline, and had shown the barbaric extent to which the ruling class, terrified by the ghosts of Marx and Engels, would go to try to save itself.

Europe and the United States are two empires, both in historical retreat, both have passed their peak and now both are in precipitous decline. However, they will not necessarily disappear quickly of their own accord or in a linear way.

The outstanding feature of Europe is that it is the home of all the original capitalist powers, each having run its full course from dominance to descent, succeeding each other in history as the most prominent at a regional or global scale (this includes Austria, Hungary, Portugal, Russia, Holland, Spain, France, Germany, England, and Belgium).

Aside from the economic and political relevance of each individual country, Europe consists of nation-states consolidated by centuries of historical power and cultural dominance, built upon structures of production more advanced than those in other parts of the world. Also important is the strong secular tradition of Europe. The current regional confederation was born and consolidated as a defensive mechanism against both the emergence and the consequences of the fall of the surrounding worker states.

The current precipitous fall of both Europe and the United States is partially due to the emergence of China, India and Brazil. The new emerging empires will not be like the old ones and as a result of their internal contradictions they will be much less stable.

It is important to highlight that there has been no quantitative growth in the global productive apparatus as a whole (in terms of means of production and exchange) and what we have seen as a result of the movement of the centers of production from their previous locations in Europe and the US to new areas, including continental Asia and Latin America (in principle).

Europe is a net exporter of capital. Some of the enormous profits obtained by European companies have ended up invested in companies outside of the European Union. Thus some German and French productivity does not return to those countries (at least not as capital assets) while in the rest of Europe this capital simply does not exist. Therefore future productivity will fall irreparably along with this decline in investment. In each country this will manifest itself in a different way.

The issue of regional debt is completely irrational. Italy owes 1.4 trillion US dollars, 115.8% of its Gross Domestic Product, (GDP) to France, which is Italy’s main creditor! Spain’s total debt is 1.1 trillion US dollars, with the following amounts owed to these countries: 238 billion to Germany, 220 billion to France and 114 billion dollars to England.

Germany took a different economic path than its neighbors, responding to stagnation with anti-inflation measures, which have only deepened its recession. This was done even though the country has a fiscal deficit of only 3% of their GDP and currently a 12% unemployment rate. Germany has raised sales taxes from 16% to 19% and progressively increased the retirement age from 60 to 65 years since 2006.

If we take into account that two thirds of the economic growth of Germany between 2000 and 2008 was due to exports, we can understand why it is the world’s second largest exporter, which allows it to maintain a commercial market surplus. One way this is demonstrated is that 40% of its sales are to other European countries, nine times greater than its sales to China.

The European Union has collectively lowered the price of exports in order to be competitive in the new economic climate, which in turn has stopped the growth of its industrial apparatus of manufacturing and distribution. This has allowed for its control over the centrifugal European markets. The German government utilizes a market strategy that severely limits domestic consumption by freezing salaries in Germany. As a result, the German economy grew very little, only 14%, between 1995 and 2010. It had the smallest and slowest growth rate in Europe for that period except for Italy. It exported the capital of its multinational corporations instead of re-investing it in its domestic economy.

The Greek case is paradigmatic. It had already received a second loan installment of 10.5 billion US dollars, which it used only to build up a currency fund for the purpose of preventing an attack from major global investors in sovereign debt. From those loans, not a single cent went to addressing any of the problems of the Greek population. The problems of the Greek economy “are being resolved” by meeting the demands of their creditors, including the lowering of the fiscal deficit from the current 13.6% to 8.1% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 2011. The Greek Parliament approved an initiative to sell the state owned railroad system (OSE), the nickel production company named Larco, the state gas industry (DEPA), Athens International Airport, 20% of the assets of the telecommunication company of the Balkans (OTE) and all public lands (including several islands). The recipe followed was, mass worker layoffs (private and public), raising the retirement age and privatizations, etc. Sound familiar?

There are other emblematic examples like the country of Romania. Political leaders there propagandized for the need to enter the European Union as a mechanism to overcome Romanian backwardness. Not withstanding that the remittances that workers outside the country send back to Romania are the fourth largest part of its Gross Domestic Product, similar to the situation when Nicolai Ceausescu was in power. Adding injury to insult is the situation that Romanian seasonal migratory workers are detained, beaten, jailed and deported from the surrounding “sister” European Union nations of Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Belgium.

Behind the debacle of the Euro Zone and the massive bailouts for Greece, Spain and Portugal is actually the rescue of the European banks that hold the huge debts owed by these three countries and by Italy, which only owes 3 trillion dollars. When one speaks of a European setback this includes the loss of the dominance of its commercial enterprises and above all its industrial power. This does not impede the gross concentration of wealth of many European multinationals, which continue to be global leaders in their lines of industry. Yet, every year this concentration diminishes. Of the 50 largest corporations in the world, 22 are European. Ten of these belong to the industrial sector while the remaining 12 belong to the financial, insurance and distribution sectors.

Another crucial issue is that European natural resources are substantially depleted. Asia, Latin America and even the United States have much larger reserves of natural resources than Europe. Without a source of cheap labor and available natural resources the future is inescapably dim, again not necessarily in a linear way. Europe is being confronted by the growing cost of preventing environmental disasters in vulnerable ecosystems after centuries of uncontrolled human destruction such as pollution of potable water, pasture lands made non-arable, and unsafe disposal of solid and liquid human waste as well as waste from industrial and nuclear plants.

All of the current rehabilitation efforts do not even begin to transform the careless processes that created this destruction. The costs would be enormous just to create partial and localized solutions to some of the most pressing concrete environmental problems. Centuries of mining, mainly of coal and non-metal minerals, have created a serious degradation of the natural landscape, destroying forests, hills, grasslands, etc.

A sector of the bourgeoisie and some of its political allies have been working, since the middle of the last century, to consolidate a transnational capitalist ruling class throughout Europe. This group believed that the American model was a clear indicator of the effectiveness of this plan. History has shown the flaws in this plan. Europe, unlike the United States, cannot carry out that design due to its different stage of development. The unique characteristics of this period in capitalism do not, in any way, support this desire.

The great European arrogance has led to a situation where only France and Germany can maintain their imperial domination, supported by the oppression of other states. The rest of the European countries are on their way to becoming semi-colonies (some clearly already are) of France and Germany or at least are considering that sooner or later they will abandon the European Union. The rest of the countries see an irresistible necessity to break away from the European Union soon, more specifically from Germany and France.

In short, what has the European Union, along with the associated individual governments, done to mitigate the problems? It has at all costs lowered costs (at least since 2006), increased the layoffs of public employees, outsourced companies to Asia and the Pacific, and increased the permanent reserve army of labor by 15% in some countries and by 25% in others. A classic measure used to serve this purpose has been the expansion in every way no permanent lifetime employment: contracting out some activities of the companies or sub-contracting to third parties, reducing hours of work to one third full-time or increasing part time work, paying piecework rates, establishing false but legal employment arrangements (like false front companies), pseudo-cooperatives, etc. Today, the main European countries have included on their menu of operations these different measures that were in part copied from the USA and in the past only utilized in semi-colonial countries.

Salary cuts have been applied to public employees in Romania, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Great Britain, Hungary, Malta, Slovakia, Poland, Bulgaria and Lithuania. Job security has decreased to unprecedented levels. 45% of workers in Spain between the ages of 25 and 29 have only short-term employment contracts. At the same time, labor conditions have worsened, workplace abuse and workplace accidents have increased, and salaries continue to decrease. From 1980 to the present, the working class share of the wealth that they produced has decreased from 70% to 58%; in Spain it is only 54.5%, while percentages in Italy, Luxemburg, Ireland and Finland are even lower. This decline happened during times of economic growth both globally and in the European Union.

Another problem for the workforce is that people can’t make their mortgage payments because of rising interest rates, layoffs or decreased income, all of which are becoming the norm in Ireland, Hungary, Belgium, Poland and Spain. The anti-crisis formulas always include the increase in the workweek to 60 hours. Great Britain, Hungary, Estonia, and Spain are some of the countries that have already opted for this solution.

The French and German plans have exploded; there will soon no longer be a European Union, only a heterogeneous amalgamation of countries in a state of confrontation, some maintaining their current role as semi-colonies while others are in transition to that status and still others will simply distance themselves from the European Union. Regimes like those in Italy, Poland, Belgium and the Balkans are still frozen in the past, and have not been able to effectively respond in any way to this crisis.

The new Russian bourgeoisie, born simultaneously with the new Chinese bourgeoisie during this late stage of capitalism, is particularly vicious, shows no restraint and has a uniquely immoral and cynical conscience about taking advantage of the era it finds itself in. Born in and sitting on the remnants of the cadaver of the most important revolution in history, these opportunists see themselves propelled by a new “Manifest Destiny” that supposedly justifies their imperial ambitions. They keep watch on the movements of the French-German axis, which they respect, and respond by acting accordingly, like the well-behaved children that they are.

Turkey is also in a good position in relation to Europe. The country has abundant natural and energy resources and a history with traditions built on the conjoined Maghreb, Arab and Persian bourgeoisie. Of course, there are internal problems. The future of the European economic diaspora will also be an event that will influence Turkish reality.

It is possible that Europe and the United States could form a bloc after the crisis, even though this would definitely be to the detriment of US imperialism. However, an alliance between the European Union and Russia would put the US at an even greater disadvantage and would raise the spectre of a more brutal inter-imperialist competition.

The social superstructure can only reflect the regression, in this case the shift to the right, of the political spectrum. A shift that involves social and political issues like sexism connected to gender violence, xenophobia and the growth of the ultra-right wing, as well as the suppression of the left, both in its electoral actions and in its structural integration into the struggles of the working class and the oppressed instead.

The growing importance of fundamentalist churches in defining the bourgeois agenda is another variable that is spreading all over Europe with greater or lesser degrees of renewed virulence. This is seen especially in relation to social issues such as abortion, divorce and issues of the full spectrum of the queer community. These are signs of fundamentalist church political actions with a renewed strategy in order to influence bourgeois governments and regimes by pushing them to the right.

In every European country there are new ultra-right wing political parties emerging and growing. In some cases they already have a strong electoral presence while others are gaining influence. In the Netherlands there is the PVV (Liberty Party), in Denmark, the Party of the Dane People, in England, the English Defense League (EDL) and in Hungary the Jobbik, etc.

Germany has built right wing citizen’s armies twice before in history. Could what is coming be a repetition of the past, possibly a 4th Reich? In the November 2010 elections in Austria, the ultra-right Freedom Party (FPO) won 15% of the April, 2010 vote for its candidate for president and 27% of the vote in the 2011 Vienna municipal elections. This probably has to do with the widespread fear within the middle class of Turkish immigrants, who represent 16% of the population and 25% of elementary and high school students.

The events taking place in North Africa and the Middle East will also have an immediate impact on Europe, where the large numbers of immigrants from those countries could use the tactics learned from the North African struggles to fight the oppression that they are victims of in Europe. The previous struggles of immigrants in Europe surely had an influence on the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East. Now the European immigrants may reproduce them in the near future. New contingents of immigrants may also look towards Europe’s shores and contribute to creating important political movements.

In economic terms there will also be consequences. In the short run this will result in an increased price of oil, an essential commodity that comes in large quantities from North African and Middle Eastern states. It could be replaced quickly by oil from Russia and the former Soviet block countries or even Latin America. In terms of commerce we will see serious challenges to some European imports of industrial and intermediate goods if the changes lead to new international realignments.

Europe has many possible future scenarios. We may not know exactly what will happen, but none of the foreseeable options will maintain or strengthen the current European Union. Confrontations will be inevitable and will come with the violence that always occurs with inter-imperialist confrontations that have to do with gaining hegemony over the markets or making others pay for self-created crises.

The key to the situation, of course, is in the hands of the working class movement. From within the productive apparatus it could emerge as the backbone and muscle of a wider movement for social change, connected to their co-workers, the immigrants and other super-exploited sectors of society. Such a movement should raise a program proposing to make the still formidable industrial apparatus work for the actual needs of the working class and the oppressed instead of for the convenience of the big multinationals. Although workers have represented an important source of resistance, they have not yet succeeded in moving past addressing the issues of economic gains (such as union struggles around working conditions and wages) and advancing to represent a political challenge to the regime.

A program for such a political challenge in Europe should be based on concepts like:

l Full employment and jobs for all, including immigrants, at union wages.

l The right to political and union organization for all unemployed workers and immigrants, including the right of immigrants to vote and run for office.

l Compulsory repayment of financial capital from large companies to maintain job producing and environmentally sound investments which have been transferred from manufacturing to financial services or shifted to outsourcing of jobs. Increasing corporate taxes and maintenance of capital to maintain jobs and services and funding for public services.

l Massive investment under community and workers control in projects related to the treatment of industrial, hospital, home and radioactive waste and rehabilitation of environmental disaster areas.

l Full rights and social benefits to all minorities and immigrant communities including the preservation of their languages and cultures. Eliminate all forms of racism, racial discrimination, gender discrimination and discrimination based on sexual preference and orientation.

l Full funding for free education and training for youth from pre-school, for apprenticeships and to graduate school levels.

l Immediate repatriation to countries for all military invasions made anywhere in the world.

l Drastic reduction of budget allocations for security and military spending.

l Support for a Socialist Confederation of Europe, based on national self-determination.

 

Forex_News_Risk_Trends_Collapse_as_U.S._Inches_closer_to_Fiscal_Cliff_body_Picture_7.png

Collapse of US Industries May Bring the Empire to its Knees

COLLAPSE OF US INDUSTRIES MAY BRING THE EMPIRE TO ITS KNEES
By Carmen Lampago

The United States is at the end of its cycle as the world’s hegemonic power and one step away from its collapse as an imperialist power. Its future will be determined to a certain degree by its ability to delay the collapse of major branches of its industry, now heavily subsidized and under overwhelming pressure from competition abroad. This is not, however, due solely to foreign enemies and competitors as much as it is of its own making.

People in the United States are used to enjoying the benefits of being in the largest economy in the world, based on a huge industrial and financial base and surrounded by the most powerful domestic market in history. These benefits have been eroding and the material base which made them possible are disappearing as the US is losing ground to a number of fast-developing economies, many of which – if not all – were nurtured and initially developed by US capital.
Germany and Japan, reconstructed by the US in the post World War II period, became its strongest competitors. Europe as a whole followed suit. Now China, India, Brazil and a number of other countries are undercutting the US economy from all sides. Well before the recent earthquake and tsunami, China had advanced past Japan to become the world’s number two economy.

While its overall size still favors the US, a close look would reveal a scenario in which critical US industries are surrendering to the international momentum of their Chinese counterparts in textiles, machinery, tools, light weapons, steel, home appliances and more. In terms of economic power, China offers a tremendous challenge to US hegemony.

China’s is not the only economy making gains on the US. While China is taking over much of the manufacturing that used to be done in the US, India is taking over many of the service sector jobs. Initially restricted to lower-skilled service jobs like those in call centers, recent work moving to India now includes more skilled white-collar jobs. Tax returns, financial services and analysis, and engineering are increasingly being handled in India. And in the Western hemisphere, Brazil is making solid gains in economic and political power.

With loss of economic power comes a related loss in political power. The US used to hold a lot of political sway due to its capability as the buyer of last resort. Historically, the US was able to support the economies of allies by propping up the value of the dollar relative to foreign currencies and granting access to the most powerful consumer base in the world. That’s no longer the case. The decline in the value of the dollar will continue in lock step with the over printing of paper money by the US Federal Reserve Bank.

Between shipping much of the country’s job base to other countries and the 2009 economic crash, US unemployment has increased and consumer confidence and spending have decreased, ergo the domestic market has taken a big hit. Increased spending on wars and decreased spending on education have further weakened the US economy.

Since the political future of the country is tied to the unemployment rate, the remaining industries which provide jobs are highly valued both politically and economically. These industries (textiles, auto) are heavily subsidized by the US government. Otherwise they could not withstand global competition. Now China is preparing to become a major automobile exporter. Millions of cars, and more every month, are sold in China’s domestic market every year.

The economic crisis and the bailouts of financial institutions and the automakers – policies shared by both Democrats and Republicans to save them from bankruptcy and foreign competition from China – is endangering the life expectancy of major branches of US industry. Money for subsidies has limits. Subsidies cannot be sustained over long periods.
If China overtakes the US in auto exports, that will mean the collapse of the already threatened capitol of the automakers in Detroit and a dozen other cities based on auto production in the US. Manufacturing growth in China, Brazil and other countries is threatening other industries, and US agricultural production is only maintained artificially by government subsidy.

An estimated 30% to 40% of the entire US industrial working class is threatened by this somber future.  It is useful here to remember than the industrial working class in the US declined progressively from about 50% of the private sector nonsupervisory workforce in the 1960s to 29% in 1992. Now it is estimated at 25%. In absolute terms, the industrial workforce peaked in the late 1970s at about 22 million and is now at the same level as in the 1960s or slightly more than 20 million production workers. (Department of Commerce Statistics)

This gradual loss of jobs, a decline over decades, which in itself has been disastrous for many workers, is now threatening to become a rapid loss of millions of jobs if critical branches of industry collapse or go bankrupt.
American manufacturing is bleeding lost jobs, which also represents a massive drop in products that once were made in America. According to one economist, the country currently doesn’t produce any television sets. Computer manufacturing in the U.S. employs about 166,000 people; in 1975, it employed almost 300,000. Meanwhile, Asia’s computer manufacturing sector has about 1.5 million workers and a single tech manufacturer, Fox Conn, employs more than 800,000 people. (Daily Finance, 10/17/2010)

“Other numbers illuminate the impact of this massive job drain. At the end of 2009, 15.7 million people were unemployed, while 12.6 million — 20% fewer — worked in manufacturing. This represented only 9% of the American working populace; at manufacturing’s height in 1960, 29% of Americans were employed in the sector.” (Daily Finance, 10/17/2010). These are outdated figures. The reality today, a year later, is much worse.

The collapse of a couple of branches of US industry, let’s say manufacturing and auto, will multiply these figures geometrically. Just do the math. The loss of manufacturing alone could mean the loss of 10 million jobs and the ratio of the employed and unemployed could end up as 2.7 million employed to 25 million unemployed!

Add in losses in the auto, petrochemical, and machinery industries and the emerging picture is a total collapse of the US economy, the shutting down of business. With that goes government, the political regime and the state. In sum, social relations would most likely collapse.

Meanwhile in the government jobs and administration spheres, the decline has been slower over the years. What is happening in Wisconsin and now spreading throughout the country is an indication of the rapidly deteriorating situation there as well. Besides, with the disappearance of industrial branches of the economy will come the collapse of public administration.

After attempting to push for short-term gains and profits over sustainable growth, US business interests are now reaping what they have sown. The recent nationwide campaign against public sector unions, highlighted by the battle in Wisconsin, is making this push, and the results, more apparent. Now that the private sector has been reduced to less than 7% unionized, the public sector, at 36% unionized is the next target.

The plan is to extract as much surplus value from a declining workforce with the least resistance possible while the US bourgeoisie shifts its interests more rapidly into preserving their investments abroad. They are looking for a dominant worldwide finance structure to supply them with the profits of declining domestic industry and manufacturing – with bad results so far – and to try to dismantle every attempt at worker organization domestically to avoid the inevitable social explosion that a collapse will bring.

To put an end to this situation, the tactics of “Buy American” and simple demonstrations and protests are as useless as fighting a lion with a fork. The US union bureaucracy can not be reformed and will not move a finger. Therefore workers need to throw them out of the existing unions or to create new unions and confederations that take up the fights with methods not seen since the 1930s like occupations, militant strikes and electoral action independent and in opposition to the Democrats and Republicans.

 

Screen Shot 2013-01-02 at 15.13.20

The End of the US Empire

The End of the US Empire 

By Anastasia Gómez

The US Empire is in a full descent and vertiginous freefall. Once the most powerful empire on earth, it now has no money, its industries are failing, it has a chronic high unemployment rate and it can no longer afford the multimillion dollar governmental subsidies to its agricultural and industrial companies that they depend on.

The wealth disparity between the poor and the rich is the largest it has ever been. Domestic production has been visibly reduced because of the transfer of capital and technology to other countries. The external US debt exceeds 10 trillion dollars. “Made in China” merchandise packs the shelves of all its stores, as it does in every country of the world.

Similarly, we see the former 4-star general of the world, with its mighty military forces and superiority mired in two wars for the last decade in the Middle East with no workable exit strategy in sight. The hands of the USA are tied limiting its intervention in the uprisings of the masses in North Africa. Even its capability to intervene in its own backyard is questioned by the ability displayed by Brazil’s leadership of the UN forces, including US troops, in Haiti. We can see that its military and technological power is insufficient for fighting asymmetrical wars and that it can no longer accumulate the material gains of wars, such as oil.

The US Empire has an increasing difficulty making its voice heard and getting its proposals implemented in international organizations like the G8 or in the G20. At each conference of these and similar groups it becomes more difficult for the US to push forward, in a unilateral manner, its political and economic priorities, such as the regulation of international prices or the establishment of commercial trade treaties. This is the case in South American, where the power and influence of Brazil has up to this point not allowed the extension of trade deals like NAFTA or the Free Trade of the Americas Act to countries in the region.

The US is currently led by a president who is incapable of resolving the financial problems that haunt the country and who is continuing the politics of Bush and the Republicans before him. Until now, the steps Obama has taken to control the crisis have been timid, insignificant and have had little impact. His policies are very different from those implemented during the 30s New Deal in terms of the development of industrial and agricultural production, investment in employment, trade deals and distribution of social benefits. For decades the US has been fundamentally focused on enlarging the gains of financial capital. Without achieving this, the unity and support of the ruling class cannot be certain.

At the same time the sectors of society that carried Obama to the presidency have become disillusioned by his delivery. The “hope” and enthusiastic support have disappeared. We can see how the previous illusions in the promises Obama made, within the sectors of the masses that carried him to the presidency, have been lost, constantly lowering his credibility and enthusiastic support.

An increasingly frustrated, unhappy and noisy petite bourgeoisie is organizing to recover the “large imperialist power” through ultra right organizations like the Tea Party. The previous bipartisan solutions are insufficient to solve the current problems of this empire.

WHY IS IT FALLING?

The empire is falling because its ruling class, seeking to increase profits, has inflicted on itself a mortal blow. It is falling, because during the past four decades the country lost millions of jobs as businesses relocated their centers of production to other interior geographical areas and countries with lower costs of production and more relaxed environmental standards. At the same time the rulers initiated a process of world economic re-structuring that is now demanding that they pay for their choices.

The United States has experienced serious economic and political crises in the past; however, today things are different. The relocation of its production centers has triggered the rapid development of those countries that are rising today as the main competitors to the US: China, India and Brazil. Today, nations that not too long ago were orbiting around US and European imperialism have begun to revolve around the new giants, developing new relationships of economic interdependence and political subjugation. Something similar happened after World War II when the US invested in Germany and Japan to ensure US influence over the markets of these two countries. The US did this under the guise of reconstruction and in just three decades both countries became main US competitors.

That is to say: the natural drive of the bourgeoisie in its search for supremacy and maximum profits is what leads it to its destruction. This historic premise has been understood perfectly since the origin of the Communist Manifesto, but today this premise will determine the fate of the largest bourgeoisie empire that the world has ever known. The displacement of the centers of production produced greater profits for the bourgeoisie, but at the same time caused the loss of jobs and of productivity within the empire. Its domestic market is collapsing under the burden of its debt and the destruction of the planet has been hastened by relocating factories to areas with less stringent environmental regulations.

We have seen many empires throughout history go through stages of creation, development, decline and decay all in correspondence with predetermined historical laws. The specter of imperial disintegration has devastated various geographical, political and economic formations such as multinational, colonial and imperial structures throughout history. It has been economic crisis, political fragmentation, monumental historical events and above all acute class struggle, which have finished off these empires.

The fall of the US Empire places us today in the context of a world capitalist system that is in mortal agony. It is a global system of exploitation that is historically exhausted and cannot guarantee our survival or the survival of the planet and must use all of its strength chaotically struggling not to disappear. These forces create brutal super exploitation in the new key areas of the world economy and restrict the existing gains of workers in order to prepare for increasingly undemocratic controlling regimes.

EMPIRES DO NOT FALL BY THEMSELVES 

Despite the situation we have described and the underlying reasons as to why we believe in the future we will see the death of US imperialism, the accumulated wealth in this country over its many years of domination is vast. It will take some time for the existing infrastructure to reach the level of deterioration seen in “third world” countries or former colonies. Yet in a short time it will reach the level of its European counterparts.

 The same infrastructure in the hands of the workers would shake the world. However, since the 1990’s we have not seen large mobilizations of large sectors of the labor movement. The struggles we have seen have been defensive, isolated and rarely combined with political analysis and action. The percentage of labor that is unionized has been falling for years. The existing worker’s organizations are completely useless, especially because of their reliance on the state through their relationship with the Democratic Party. No independent labor unions currently exist.

Since the crisis of 2008, all labor contract negotiations have resulted only in the reduction of employee benefits because of the fear of more layoffs. The response of workers and the US masses that are still benefiting from the privileges of living in the empire have been minimal (with notable and promising exceptions like the workers in Wisconsin recently). Workers have been brainwashed into accepting the blows inflected by their employers and the loss of their benefits, one after another, all in the interest of job preservation.

Latino workers, especially Mexicans, in the United States will definitely play an important role in the direction of the future. In fact, it has been these workers who have been most receptive to unionization and the unions with the highest membership of these workers have for several decades been the most militant. However the decisive struggles of Latino workers, as seen in their continued protests, especially in the impressive national strike of 2006, are most successful outside of these unions, through collective organizations in the community or through the potential creation of alternative trade unions that are independent and truly combative.

In historical terms, these workers, who number in the millions, could be one of the weapons that inflict fatal blows on US imperialism. This is because, despite their massive struggles for integration, for political and human rights, imperialism is unable in this time of total decay and crisis to absorb them or concede to their demands. This situation may leave them no other option than reclaiming the stolen Mexican territories and building a national liberation movement.

The deeply imbedded ideology of US imperialism, of fierce individualism, has taken root in the American people, and a relentless struggle will be necessary to get rid of this ideology in order to enable full participation and solidarity among workers. The possibilities for workers in this country are enormous, while simultaneously, the consequences of not acting and waiting for everything to fall will be fatal.

Fatal, because if workers don’t take up the struggle, the frustrations of the petit bourgeoisie and other sectors outside of the production process will increase and promote movements of a fascist character. Groups like the Tea Party are growing and gaining threatening power in national politics. They have the potential to create crises like that produced by domestic terrorist attacks associated with right-wing groups such as the 1995 federal building bombing in Oklahoma City.

There are huge possibilities precisely because the vast infrastructure of this country, in terms of technology, industry and natural resources, would give US workers an unprecedented basis for social transformation that could nourish a revolutionary process towards socialism. For this to happen, a relentless ideological struggle is necessary for workers to gain control of this infrastructure and not drown in the whirlpool created by the current owners of this empire.