Understanding the New World Order

MELANET UnCut Chat and Discussion: MelaNet UnCut Talk: Understanding the New World Order
By Martin ( - on Thursday, July 5, 2001 - 08:34 pm:

Understanding the New World Order
by Joshua2


Imperialism 101

Chapter 1 of Against Empire by
Michael Parenti

Imperialism has been the most powerful force in
world history over the
last four or five centuries, carving
up whole continents while oppressing indigenous
peoples and obliterating
entire civilizations. Yet, it is
seldom accorded any serious attention by our
academics, media
commentators, and political leaders.
When not ignored outright, the subject of
imperialism has been
sanitized, so that empires become
"commonwealths," and colonies become "territories"
or "dominions" (or,
as in the case of Puerto Rico,
"commonwealths" too). Imperialist military
interventions become matters
of "national defense," "national
security," and maintaining "stability" in one or
another region. In this
book I want to look at imperialism
for what it really is.

Across the Entire Globe

By "imperialism" I mean the process whereby the
politico-economic interests of one nation
expropriate for their own enrichment the land,
labor, raw materials, and
markets of another people.

The earliest victims of Western European
imperialism were other
Europeans. Some 800 years ago, Ireland
became the first colony of what later became known
as the British
empire. A part of Ireland still remains
under British occupation. Other early Caucasian
victims included the
Eastern Europeans. The people
Charlemagne worked to death in his mines in the
early part of the ninth
century were Slavs. So frequent
and prolonged was the enslavement of Eastern
Europeans that "Slav"
became synonymous with servitude.
Indeed, the word "slave" derives from "Slav."
Eastern Europe was an
early source of capital accumulation,
having become wholly dependent upon Western
manufactures by the
seventeenth century.

A particularly pernicious example of
intra-European imperialism was the
Nazi aggression during World
War II, which gave the German business cartels and
the Nazi state an
opportunity to plunder the
resources and exploit the labor of occupied
Europe, including the slave
labor of concentration camps.

The preponderant thrust of the European, North
American, and Japanese
imperial powers has been
directed against Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
By the nineteenth
century, they saw the Third World as
not only a source of raw materials and slaves but
a market for
manufactured goods. By the twentieth
century, the industrial nations were exporting not
only goods but
capital, in the form of machinery,
technology, investments, and loans. To say that we
have entered the
stage of capital export and
investment is not to imply that the plunder of
natural resources has
ceased. If anything, the despoliation
has accelerated.

Of the various notions about imperialism
circulating today in the United
States, the dominant view is that it
does not exist. Imperialism is not recognized as a
legitimate concept,
certainly not in regard to the United
States. One may speak of "Soviet imperialism" or
British imperialism" but not of U.S.
imperialism. A graduate student in political
science at most
universities in this country would not be
granted the opportunity to research U.S.
imperialism, on the grounds
that such an undertaking would not
be scholarly. While many people throughout the
world charge the United
States with being an imperialist
power, in this country persons who talk of U.S.
imperialism are usually
judged to be mouthing ideological


By Marin ( - on Thursday, July 5, 2001 - 08:36 pm:


The Dynamic of Capital Expansion

Imperialism is older than capitalism. The Persian,
Macedonian, Roman,
and Mongol empires all existed
centuries before the Rothschilds and Rockefellers.
Emperors and
conquistadors were interested mostly in
plunder and tribute, gold and glory. Capitalist
imperialism differs from
these earlier forms in the way it
systematically accumulates capital through the
organized exploitation of
labor and the penetration of
overseas markets. Capitalist imperialism invests
in other countries,
transforming and dominating their
economies, cultures, and political life,
integrating their financial and
productive structures into an
international system of capital accumulation.

A central imperative of capitalism is expansion.
Investors will not put
their money into business ventures
unless they can extract more than they invest.
Increased earnings come
only with a growth in the
enterprise. The capitalist ceaselessly searches
for ways of making more
money in order to make still more
money. One must always invest to realize profits,
gathering as much
strength as possible in the face of
competing forces and unpredictable markets.

Given its expansionist nature, capitalism has
little inclination to stay
home. Almost 150 years ago, Marx
and Engels described a bourgeoisie that "chases
over the whole surface
of the globe. It must nestle
everywhere, settle everywhere, establish
connections everywhere. . . .
It creates a world after its own
image." The expansionists destroy whole societies.
peoples are forcibly transformed into
disfranchised wage workers. Indigenous communities
and folk cultures are
replaced by mass-market,
mass-media, consumer societies. Cooperative lands
are supplanted by
agribusiness factory farms, villages
by desolate shanty towns, autonomous regions by
centralized autocracies.

Consider one of a thousand such instances. A few
years ago the Los
Angeles Times carried a special
report on the rainforests of Borneo in the South
Pacific. By their own
testimony, the people there lived
contented lives. They hunted, fished, and raised
food in their jungle
orchards and groves. But their entire
way of life was ruthlessly wiped out by a few
giant companies that
destroyed the rainforest in order to
harvest the hardwood for quick profits. Their
lands were turned into
ecological disaster areas and they
themselves were transformed into disfranchised
shantytown dwellers,
forced to work for subsistence
wages--when fortunate enough to find employment.

North American and European corporations have
acquired control of more
than three-fourths of the
known mineral resources of Asia, Africa, and Latin
America. But the
pursuit of natural resources is not
the only reason for capitalist overseas expansion.
There is the
additional need to cut production costs and
maximize profits by investing in countries with
cheaper labor markets.
U.S. corporate foreign investment
grew 84 percent from 1985 to 1990, the most
dramatic increase being in
cheap-labor countries like South
Korea, Taiwan, Spain, and Singapore.

Because of low wages, low taxes, nonexistent work
benefits, weak labor
unions, and nonexistent
occupational and environmental protections, U.S.
corporate profit rates
in the Third World are 50 percent
greater than in developed countries. Citibank, one
of the largest U.S.
firms, earns about 75 percent of its
profits from overseas operations. While profit
margins at home sometimes
have had a sluggish growth,
earnings abroad have continued to rise
dramatically, fostering the
development of what has become
known as the multinational or transnational
corporation. Today some four
hundred transnational
companies control about 80 percent of the capital
assets of the global
free market and are extending their
grasp into the ex-communist countries of Eastern

Transnationals have developed a global production
line. General Motors
has factories that produce cars,
trucks and a wide range of auto components in
Canada, Brazil, Venezuela,
Spain, Belgium, Yugoslavia,
Nigeria, Singapore, Philippines, South Africa,
South Korea and a dozen
other countries. Such "multiple
sourcing" enables GM to ride out strikes in one
country by stepping up
production in another, playing
workers of various nations against each other in
order to discourage
wage and benefit demands and
undermine labor union strategies.


By martin ( - on Thursday, July 5, 2001 - 08:40 pm:


Not Necessary, Just Compelling

Some writers question whether imperialism is a
necessary condition for
capitalism, pointing out that most
Western capital is invested in Western nations,
not in the Third World.
If corporations lost all their Third
World investments, they argue, many of them could
still survive on their
European and North American
markets. In response, one should note that
capitalism might be able to
survive without imperialism--but it
shows no inclination to do so. It manifests no
desire to discard its
enormously profitable Third World
enterprises. Imperialism may not be a necessary
condition for investor
survival but it seems to be an
inherent tendency and a natural outgrowth of
advanced capitalism.
Imperial relations may not be the only
way to pursue profits, but they are the most
lucrative way.

Whether imperialism is necessary for capitalism is
really not the
question. Many things that are not
absolutely necessary are still highly desirable,
therefore strongly
preferred and vigorously pursued.
Overseas investors find the Third World's cheap
labor, vital natural
resources, and various other highly
profitable conditions to be compellingly
attractive. Superprofits may
not be necessary for capitalism's
survival but survival is not all that capitalists
are interested in.
Superprofits are strongly preferred to more
modest earnings. That there may be no necessity
between capitalism and
imperialism does not mean there
is no compelling linkage.

The same is true of other social dynamics. For
instance, wealth does not
necessarily have to lead to
luxurious living. A higher portion of an owning
class's riches could be
used for investment rather personal
consumption. The very wealthy could survive on
more modest sums but that
is not how most of them
prefer to live. Throughout history, wealthy
classes generally have shown
a preference for getting the best
of everything. After all, the whole purpose of
getting rich off other
people's labor is to live well, avoiding
all forms of thankless toil and drudgery, enjoying
opportunities for lavish life-styles, medical
education, travel, recreation, security, leisure,
and opportunities for
power and prestige. While none of
these things are really "necessary," they are
fervently clung to by
those who possess them--as witnessed
by the violent measures endorsed by advantaged
classes whenever they
feel the threat of an equalizing or
leveling democratic force.


By martin ( - on Thursday, July 5, 2001 - 08:47 pm:


Artificially Converted to Poverty

What is called "underdevelopment" is a set of
social relations that has
been forcefully imposed on
countries. With the advent of the Western
colonizers, the peoples of the
Third World were actually set
back in their development sometimes for centuries.
British imperialism
in India provides an instructive
example. In 1810, India was exporting more
textiles to England than
England was exporting to India. By
1830, the trade flow was reversed. The British had
put up prohibitive
tariff barriers to shut out Indian
finished goods and were dumping their commodities
in India, a practice
backed by British gunboats and
military force. Within a matter of years, the
great textile centers of
Dacca and Madras were turned into
ghost towns. The Indians were sent back to the
land to raise the cotton
used in British textile factories. In
effect, India was reduced to being a cow milked by
British financiers.

By 1850, India's debt had grown to 53 million
pounds. From 1850 to 1900,
its per capita income dropped
by almost two-thirds. The value of the raw
materials and commodities the
Indians were obliged to send to
Britain during most of the nineteenth century
amounted yearly to more
than the total income of the sixty
million Indian agricultural and industrial
workers. The massive poverty
we associate with India was not
that country's original historical condition.
British imperialism did
two things: first, it ended India's
development, then it forcibly underdeveloped that

Similar bleeding processes occurred throughout the
Third World. The
enormous wealth extracted should
remind us that there originally were few really
poor nations. Countries
like Brazil, Indonesia, Chile, Bolivia,
Zaire, Mexico, Malaysia, and the Philippines were
and sometimes still
are rich in resources. Some lands
have been so thoroughly plundered as to be
desolate in all respects.
However, most of the Third World is
not "underdeveloped" but overexploited. Western
colonization and
investments have created a lower rather
than a higher living standard.

Referring to what the English colonizers did to
the Irish, Frederick
Engels wrote in 1856: "How often have
the Irish started out to achieve something, and
every time they have
been crushed politically and
industrially. By consistent oppression they have
been artificially
converted into an utterly impoverished
nation." So with most of the Third World. The
Mayan Indians in Guatemala
had a more nutritious and
varied diet and better conditions of health in the
early 16th century
before the Europeans arrived than they
have today. They had more craftspeople,
architects, artisans, and
horticulturists than today. What is called
underdevelopment is not an original historical
condition but a product
of imperialism's superexploitation.
Underdevelopment is itself a development.

Imperialism has created what I have termed
"maldevelopment": modern
office buildings and luxury hotels
in the capital city instead of housing for the
poor, cosmetic surgery
clinics for the affluent instead of
hospitals for workers, cash export crops for
agribusiness instead of
food for local markets, highways that
go from the mines and latifundios to the
refineries and ports instead of
roads in the back country for those
who might hope to see a doctor or a teacher.

Wealth is transferred from Third World peoples to
the economic elites of
Europe and North America (and
more recently Japan) by direct plunder, by the
expropriation of natural
resources, the imposition of
ruinous taxes and land rents, the payment of
poverty wages, and the
forced importation of finished goods
at highly inflated prices. The colonized country
is denied the freedom
of trade and the opportunity to
develop its own natural resources, markets, and
industrial capacity.
Self-sustenance and self-employment
gives way to wage labor. From 1970 to 1980, the
number of wage workers
in the Third World grew from
72 million to 120 million, and the rate is

Hundreds of millions of Third World peoples now
live in destitution in
remote villages and congested
urban slums, suffering hunger, disease, and
illiteracy, often because
the land they once tilled is now
controlled by agribusiness firms who use it for
mining or for commercial
export crops such as coffee,
sugar, and beef, instead of growing beans, rice,
and corn for home
consumption. A study of twenty of
the poorest countries, compiled from official
statistics, found that the
number of people living in what is
called "absolute poverty" or rockbottom
destitution, the poorest of the
poor, is rising 70,000 a day and
should reach 1.5 billion by the year 2000 (San
Francisco Examiner, June
8, 1994).

Imperialism forces millions of children around the
world to live
nightmarish lives, their mental and
physical health severely damaged by endless
exploitation. A documentary
film on the Discovery Channel
(April 24, 1994) reported that in countries like
Russia, Thailand, and
the Philippines, large numbers of
minors are sold into prostitution to help their
desperate families
survive. In countries like Mexico, India,
Colombia, and Egypt, children are dragooned into
dawn-to-dusk labor on farms and in
factories and mines for pennies an hour, with no
opportunity for play,
schooling, or medical care.

In India, 55 million children are pressed into the
work force. Tens of
thousands labor in glass factories in
temperatures as high as 100 degrees. In one plant,
four-year-olds toil
from 5 o'clock in the morning until
the dead of night, inhaling fumes and contracting
tuberculosis, and other respiratory
diseases. In the Philippines and Malaysia
corporations have lobbied to
drop age restrictions for labor
recruitment. The pursuit of profit becomes a
pursuit of evil.


By martin ( - on Thursday, July 5, 2001 - 08:50 pm:

Development Theory

When we say a country is "underdeveloped," we are
implying that it is
backward and retarded in some
way, that its people have shown little capacity to
achieve and evolve.
The negative connotations of
"underdeveloped" has caused the United Nations,
the Wall Street Journal,
and parties of various political
persuasion to refer to Third World countries as
"developing" nations, a
term somewhat less insulting than
"underdeveloped" but equally misleading. I prefer
to use "Third World"
because "developing" seems to be
just a euphemistic way of saying "underdeveloped
but belatedly starting
to do something about it." It still
implies that poverty was an original historic
condition and not
something imposed by the imperialists. It
also falsely suggests that these countries are
developing when actually
their economic conditions are
usually worsening.

The dominant theory of the last half century,
enunciated repeatedly by
writers like Barbara Ward and W.
W. Rostow and afforded wide currency in the United
States and other
parts of the Western world,
maintains that it is up to the rich nations of the
North to help uplift
the "backward" nations of the South,
bringing them technology and teaching them proper
work habits. This is
an updated version of "the White
man's burden," a favorite imperialist fantasy.

According to the development scenario, with the
introduction of Western
investments, the backward
economic sectors of the poor nations will release
their workers, who
then will find more productive
employment in the modern sector at higher wages.
As capital accumulates,
business will reinvest its
profits, thus creating still more products, jobs,
buying power, and
markets. Eventually a more prosperous
economy evolves.

This "development theory" or "modernization
theory," as it is sometimes
called, bears little relation to
reality. What has emerged in the Third World is an
intensely exploitive
form of dependent capitalism.
Economic conditions have worsened drastically with
the growth of
transnational corporate investment.
The problem is not poor lands or unproductive
populations but foreign
exploitation and class inequality.
Investors go into a country not to uplift it but
to enrich themselves.

People in these countries do not need to be taught
how to farm. They
need the land and the implements to
farm. They do not need to be taught how to fish.
They need the boats and
the nets and access to shore
frontage, bays, and oceans. They need industrial
plants to cease dumping
toxic effusions into the waters.
They do not need to be convinced that they should
use hygienic
standards. They do not need a Peace
Corps Volunteer to tell them to boil their water,
especially when they
cannot afford fuel or have no access
to firewood. They need the conditions that will
allow them to have clean
drinking water and clean clothes
and homes. They do not need advice about balanced
diets from North
Americans. They usually know
what foods best serve their nutritional
requirements. They need to be
given back their land and labor so
that they might work for themselves and grow food
for their own

The legacy of imperial domination is not only
misery and strife, but an
economic structure dominated by a
network of international corporations which
themselves are beholden to
parent companies based in North
America, Europe and Japan. If there is any
harmonization or integration,
it occurs among the global
investor classes, not among the indigenous
economies of these countries.
Third World economies remain
fragmented and unintegrated both between each
other and within
themselves, both in the flow of capital
and goods and in technology and organization. In
sum, what we have is a
world economy that has little to
do with the economic needs of the world's people.


By MARTIN ( - on Thursday, July 5, 2001 - 08:53 pm:


Neoimperialism: Skimming the Cream

Sometimes imperial domination is explained as
arising from an innate
desire for domination and expansion,
a "territorial imperative." In fact, territorial
imperialism is no
longer the prevailing mode. Compared to the
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when the
European powers
carved up the world among
themselves, today there is almost no colonial
dominion left. Colonel
Blimp is dead and buried, replaced by
men in business suits. Rather than being directly
colonized by the
imperial power, the weaker countries
have been granted the trappings of
sovereignty--while Western finance
capital retains control of the lion's
share of their profitable resources. This
relationship has gone under
various names: "informal empire,"
"colonialism without colonies," "neocolonialism,"
and "neoimperialism."

U.S. political and business leaders were among the
practitioners of this new kind of empire, most
notably in Cuba at the beginning of the twentieth
century. Having
forcibly wrested the island from Spain in
the war of 1898, they eventually gave Cuba its
formal independence. The
Cubans now had their own
government, constitution, flag, currency, and
security force. But major
foreign policy decisions remained
in U.S. hands as did the island's wealth,
including its sugar, tobacco,
and tourist industries, and major
imports and exports.

Historically U.S. capitalist interests have been
less interested in
acquiring more colonies than in acquiring
more wealth, preferring to make off with the
treasure of other nations
without bothering to own and
administer the nations themselves. Under
neoimperialism, the flag stays
home, while the dollar goes
everywhere--frequently assisted by the sword.

After World War II, European powers like Britain
and France adopted a
strategy of neoimperialism. Left
financially depleted by years of warfare, and
facing intensified popular
resistance from within the Third
World itself, they reluctantly decided that
indirect economic hegemony
was less costly and politically
more expedient than outright colonial rule. They
discovered that the
removal of a conspicuously intrusive
colonial rule made it more difficult for
nationalist elements within the
previously colonized countries to
mobilize anti-imperialist sentiments.

Though the newly established government might be
far from completely
independent, it usually enjoyed
more legitimacy in the eyes of its populace than a
administration controlled by the imperial power.
Furthermore, under neoimperialism the native
government takes up the
costs of administering the country
while the imperialist interests are free to
concentrate on accumulating
capital--which is all they really want
to do.

After years of colonialism, the Third World
country finds it extremely
difficult to extricate itself from the
unequal relationship with its former colonizer and
impossible to depart
from the global capitalist sphere.
Those countries that try to make a break are
subjected to punishing
economic and military treatment by
one or another major power, nowadays usually the
United States.

The leaders of the new nations may voice
revolutionary slogans, yet they
find themselves locked into the
global capitalist orbit, cooperating perforce with
the First World
nations for investment, trade, and aid. So
we witnessed the curious phenomenon of leaders of
newly independent
Third World nations denouncing
imperialism as the source of their countries'
ills, while dissidents in
these countries denounced these same
leaders as collaborators of imperialism.

In many instances a comprador class emerged or was
installed as a first
condition for independence. A
comprador class is one that cooperates in turning
its own country into a
client state for foreign interests.
A client state is one that is open to investments
on terms that are
decidedly favorable to the foreign
investors. In a client state, corporate investors
enjoy direct subsidies
and land grants, access to raw
materials and cheap labor, light or nonexistent
taxes, few effective
labor unions, no minimum wage or
child labor or occupational safety laws, and no
consumer or
environmental protections to speak of. The
protective laws that do exist go largely

In all, the Third World is something of a
capitalist paradise, offering
life as it was in Europe and the United
States during the nineteenth century, with a rate
of profit vastly
higher than what might be earned today in
a country with strong economic regulations. The
comprador class is well
recompensed for its
cooperation. Its leaders enjoy opportunities to
line their pockets with
the foreign aid sent by the U.S.
government. Stability is assured with the
establishment of security
forces, armed and trained by the United
States in the latest technologies of terror and
repression. Still,
neoimperialism carries risks. The
achievement of de jure independence eventually
fosters expectations of
de facto independence. The forms
of self rule incite a desire for the fruits of
self rule. Sometimes a
national leader emerges who is a patriot
and reformer rather than a comprador collaborator.
Therefore, the
changeover from colonialism to
neocolonialism is not without risks for the
imperialists and represents
a net gain for popular forces in the

THE END......?



By kimberly merriwether ( - on Tuesday, July 10, 2001 - 02:25 am:

Good information! Very well researched.

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