2021/12/02

Claudio Katz: China: Neither imperialist nor part of the Global South

Claudio Katz argues that China is neither imperialist nor part of the Global South.

Dependency presupposes the existence of a state subject to external orders, requirements or conditioning, while imperialism implies the opposite: international supremacy and a high degree of external interventionism. These should not be intermingled in the same formula. In China the lack of subordination to another power coexists alongside great restraint in its involvement with other countries. This is neither dependency nor imperialism.

Katz is arguing is that China is not an imperialist power as it does not intervene directly in the affairs of other nations through the use of military force or economic coercion. This is a big change from the period prior to the 1990's when China tried to invade Vietnam, supported Maoist guerillas, and intervened directly into the Korean conflict.

Nor is China a dependent power like Australia in which we have to follow the lead of the USA in military and political matters.

Those who are unaware of this difference tend to denounce China and the United States alike as aggressive powers. They situate the two contenders on the same plane and stress that they intervene indifferently in those conflicts.

But this neutralism fails to note who is primarily responsible for the tensions that shake the planet. It fails to see that the United States sends warships to its rival’s coast and raises the tone of its accusations in order to generate a climate of growing conflict.

Katz is arguing that China is acting defensively. This defensiveness has to be seen in the presence of US bases in South Korea, Japan, Guam, and others. China has no comparable presence near the USA.

China does not suffer the outflows that typically drain the dependent countries. It is exempt from the trade imbalance, technological deficiency, scarcity of investment or strangling of purchasing power. There are no data from today’s China suggesting that its stunning economic might constitutes a mere statistical fiction.

This trade surplus allows some freedom of action for China on the world stage. And it is this freedom that is an affront to the US.

But these cheerful portraits overlook the fact that the consolidation of capitalism accentuates in China all of the imbalances already generated by overproduction and surplus capital. These tensions, in turn, accentuate inequality and deterioration of the environment. Ignoring these contradictions prevents us from noting how China’s defensive international strategy is undermined by the competitive pressure imposed by capitalism

Katz puts this contradiction as the core problem for China. While Capitalism has delivered stunning economic growth and properity for China, the need for ever-expanding markets brings it into sharp conflict with the hegemonic power of the USA.

In the short term, there is the robust rise of China in the face of an obvious decline of the United States. China is winning the dispute in all areas and its recent management of the pandemic is a confirmation of this. Beijing quickly achieved control over the spread of the infection while Washington coped with an overflow of cases that left the country with one of the highest numbers of deaths.

The pandemic has hastened the decline of the USA. And it is this decline that makes the USA more dangerous as it tries to maintain its hegemony. But we should also be wary of China as the Capitalist contradictions impel it towards imperialism.


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2021/01/28

Ramzy Baroud: B’Tselem’s historic declaration, “A Regime of Jewish Supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is Apartheid”

Ramzy Baroud writes about B’Tselem’s historic declaration, “A Regime of Jewish Supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is Apartheid”.

Let’s be clear on what this actually means. Israel’s leading human rights organization was not arguing that Israel was turning into an apartheid state or that it was acting contrary to the spirit of democracy or that Israel is an undemocratic apartheid regime only within the geographic confines of the occupied Palestinian territories. None of this. According to B’tselem, which has for decades diligently documented numerous facets of Israeli government practices in the realm of politics, military, land-ownership, water distribution, health, education, and much more, Israel is, now, wholly an apartheid, undemocratic regime.

Emphasis Mine

This Israeli organisation will be seen as anti-semite or self-hating Jews by the Israeli government. The Israeli government hides behind Jewish identity to protect itself from criticism.

This automatic protection of the Israeli state from criticism extends to various public intellectuals—they all infer that any criticism or exposure of crimes is motivated by racial hatred, or, at least, malice. Their identity is tied to the existence of the Israeli state. Any attack upon that state is a personal insult.

As a Gentile, I am charged with preventing the recurrence of the horrors of the Holocaust and other genocides. The Israeli state is not immune from the emergence of genocide within itself. And the policies of the Israeli state is morphing into outright genocide against the Palestinians. Saying so does not excuse the Holocaust. Rather saying so is viligence against the recurrence of the Holocaust.


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2020/09/10

FreiKorps in America

In my analysis of "Sam Williams: The Crisis (Pt 9)", I was worried about the rise of right-wing paramilitaries (such as a FreiKorps) to defend Capitalism. Unfortunately, this fear has now now been realised.

Dan Dinello writes about "A Confederacy of Vigilantes: White Supremacists, including some Police, attack BLM Protesters, Prepare to Defend Trump’s Theft of the Presidency":

The most vicious elements within these far-right militant groups correctly believe that their conduct is sanctioned by the government and the police. Given the maniacal fervor of pro-Trump paramilitary forces, it’s reasonable to assume that they’ve “upgraded” — in organization and tactics — as a result of involvement by law enforcement officers and even Iraq war veterans. “They have clear civilian targets and a President who eggs them on,” asserts Alexander Reid Ross, author of Against the Fascist Creep, who tracks vigilante groups. “There seems no doubt that America’s far right is keying up for conflict in the lead-up and aftermath of the presidential election” as Trump has floated the idea of rejecting an unfavorable election result as fraudulent.

Emphasis Mine

This is different from the Fascist uprisings in the 1930s. Back then, the Fascists overthrew what they saw as weak democracries in Italy, Germany, Spain, Hungary, Romania, and Poland. The Fascists saw themselves as revolutionaries ushering in a bright new future. They were the true representatives of the people in their world-view. They rejected democracy and Communism/Socialism/Anarchism as foreign to what they saw as the true national character.

Today, the proto-Fascist groups are defending the existing social structure. However, they see themselves as overthrowing the existing social order. Thus, there is a conflict between their subjective reality and the objective reality.

Barry Sheppard writes about Trump’s Bonaparte moment:

In the present day US, albeit for different reasons than at the end of 1848 in France: workers’ organisations play little or no role in politics; like Louis, Trump presents himself as a strongman; and as was the case between 1849–51, the bourgeois parties are continuously bickering between themselves and achieving little (except for bipartisan agreements like adopting ever-increasing military budgets).

Louis embraced France’s Napoleonic past for legitimacy and made himself Emperor. Trump looks to US history, especially the Jim Crow period. He seeks to solidify authoritarianism with bourgeois democratic trappings, while greatly restricting democratic rights, something like the regimes in the Jim Crow South, but with himself at the top.

Trump’s militia

Trump is also building up an armed force that is loyal to him.

Emphasis Mine

Trump is able to position himself as a Bonapartist by bridging the gap between the subjective and objective realities. The problem with Bonapartism is its inherent instability.

That the FreiKorps are now establishing themselves in American society. Whether Trump is able to keep control of them reminds to be seen.


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2020/07/02

Nouriel Roubini: The Main Street Manifesto

Nouriel Roubini publishes The Main Street Manifesto.

The precariat is the contemporary version of Karl Marx’s proletariat: a new class of alienated, insecure workers who are ripe for radicalization and mobilization against the plutocracy (or what Marx called the bourgeoisie). This class is growing once again, now that highly leveraged corporations are responding to the COVID-19 crisis as they did after 2008: taking bailouts and hitting their earnings targets by slashing labor costs.

One segment of the precariat comprises younger, less-educated white religious conservatives in small towns and semi-rural areas who voted for Trump in 2016. They hoped that he would actually do something about the economic “carnage” that he described in his inaugural address. But while Trump ran as a populist, he has governed like a plutocrat, cutting taxes for the rich, bashing workers and unions, undermining the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and otherwise favoring policies that hurt many of the people who voted for him.

Emphasis Mine

Roubini accepts Marx's class analysis, and that Trump is a right-wing populist who has betrayed his base. Indeed, he echoes the famous lines in his conclusion:

The new proletariat – the precariat – is now revolting. To paraphrase Marx and Friedrich Engels in The Communist Manifesto: “Let the Plutocrat classes tremble at a Precariat revolution. The Precarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Precarious workers of all countries, unite!”

Roubini forgets that the proletariat in Marx's day had a precarious existence. It was only through the struggle of unions against brutal oppression by the bosses, that a measure of certainity in the lives of workers was achieved. The neo-liberal assault of the past 40 years has eroded most of those gains.

Green Fist with five-pointed star


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2020/07/01

ABC News: Getting people to follow coronavirus restrictions is harder the second time around

Getting people to follow coronavirus restrictions is harder the second time around.

The research also examined factors that predicted who was most likely to comply with restrictions.

The two primary predictors were feelings of "duty to obey the government" and "personal morality".

Simply, people were most compliant if they felt a stronger duty to obey government instructions, and if they thought it was morally wrong to flout the rules. These findings suggest social norms, rather than fear of COVID-19, motivated compliance the most.

The findings also revealed age and gender both had a bearing, with older participants and women being more likely to comply.

Those who perceived a greater health risk from COVID-19 were also more willing to follow the rules, as well as those who felt there was a higher risk of being caught and fined for breaking them. However, these factors were nowhere near as important as feelings of duty to obey or personal morality.

Emphasis Mine

The survey referred to is described in "Morals, duty or risk?: Examining predictors of compliance with COVID-19 social distancing restrictions". The implication for policy is:

Authorities often rely on sanctions such as fines and arrests to enforce laws (this has also occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic to enforce social distancing restrictions). However, our findings suggest that while sanction risk predicts compliance, authorities cannot rely solely on legal sanctions to force compliance. Authorities need to continue to persuade citizens that it is both morally right to abide by the restrictions and that we all have a duty to protect those most vulnerable to the disease. In other words, people should be asked to obey the COVID-19 social distancing restrictions because they have a moral responsibility to act to protect others.

Emphasis Mine

This is a searing indictment of Capitalism. That moral responsibility has to be urged upon people implicates Capitalaism as being an amoral system. A personal morality is not expected of people in a Capitalist system.

We need to envision and create a political and economic system that encourages and rewards personal morality and responsibility.

Circle of people placing their hand at the centre


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2020/06/22

Nadine Silva: Still no Covid19 cases traced to BLM mass rallies held over two weeks ago

Nadine Silva writes that Still no Covid19 cases traced to BLM mass rallies held over two weeks ago.

However, Health officials across the country are yet to trace a single coronavirus case to the Black Lives Matter protests that took place over 14 days ago.

This morning [22 June 2020], CMO Brendan Murphy told ABC News that the experts did not believe the rallies were directly responsible for any new cases.

“Whilst three of the protesters in Victoria did test positive, we don’t think they transmitted or got it at the protest,” he said.

The absence of positive transmissions from the BLM rallies led to Arrernte writer, Celeste Liddle, on Sunday night tweeting at the media and asking if it planned to report on it as actively as the unfounded concerns about new outbreaks potentially resulting from the protests.

Emphasis Mine

My own theory on this has the following points:

  • The rallies were held outside. The current research indicates the transmission of SARS-COV-2 virus outside in the open air is far less than inside buildings.
  • The participants were probably following hygiene guidelines. This would have reduced the incidence of the virus among this population.

The people who took part in these rallies are motivated by a social conscience. Having a social conscience would mean that the hygiene guidelines were followed closely. Thus, there were fewer cases among the participants. Since the rallies were held out in the open, any transmission were greatly inhibited.

The focus on virus transmission by the media is meant to suppress these rallies. Delaying these rallies will derail this mass movement.


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Bob Lefsetz: Barr/Berman

Bob Lefsetz writes about the crisis between Barr/Berman.

So, we’re heading for a crisis. And it won’t be a Constitutional crisis, it won’t be based on law, it won’t be about legalities, but hearts and minds. Trump will do everything to stay in power, and he will call out the military. And your face will be recognized and you will be put in jail as the corporations stand aside and…

And what?

We’re heading for a revolution. Or complete authoritarianism. Don’t keep telling me it can’t happen here. Or shrug and say you’ll be fine no matter what happens. Look at the history of the world, the American experiment has been relatively brief. When are we going to take the temperature of the youth and stop the insanity? If not now, when?

Emphasis Mine

Informed capitalists, such as Ritholtz and Lefsetz, are worried that a revolution is brewing or a reactionary backlash can happened. They lack the insight of Marxist-Leninist theory to understand the class dynamics behind current events.

The successful neo-liberal onslaught since the 1980s has crushed the proletariat. The organic organs of class struggle (trade unions and labour parties) have been weakened or subverted. These organs are being bypassed by the mass movements to express their demands.


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Sam Williams: The Crisis (Pt 10)

Sam Williams writes about the demands to abolish or defund the police in The Crisis (Pt 10).

But the real significance of the demand to abolish the police is that, even at this early stage, the incipient U.S. revolution cannot but begin to realize that the state consists of a body of armed men, and now some women, plus material extensions such as prisons. The state exists to defend capitalist private property in the means of production. It cannot be reformed. It must be smashed and replaced by an entirely new system of “public safety.” All this is in line with the writings of Marx, Engels and Lenin on the state.

The demand to abolish or “de-fund” the police is being raised not because the demonstrators have read the Marxist classics — very few have — but because their practical experience in what is, in essence, a class struggle points in the direction of getting rid of — not reforming — the police. Since the May 25 murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers, which was duly recorded on cell phone video, anti-racist demonstrators have put the demand to abolish the police into the mainstream of political discussion in the U.S. for the first time.

Emphasis Mine

The interesting thing is that a class demand ("Abolish the police") arose naturally without being consciously informed by Marxist-Leninist theory. However, this demand cannot be developed beyond this stage without being informed by theory.


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2020/06/18

Barry Sheppard: United States: High stakes in Trump's attacks on Black Lives Matter protests

Barry Sheppard writes that United States: High stakes in Trump’s attacks on Black Lives Matter protests.

Trump’s threat to use the military to smash the uprising, if carried out, would have been a major step towards a military-Bonapartist dictatorship. The power of the uprising led retired generals and admirals to publicly back away from such a step, causing Trump to retreat. Mark Milley, chair of the armed forces Joint Chiefs of Staff - and an active duty general - in effect joined them.

It’s unlikely that the ruling class, reeling from the protests and the huge support for their demands, would support such a move.

Emphasis Mine

The political problem for the US Capitalist class is that there is no clear alternative to Trump: Biden is a pitiful excuse for a leader. Bernie Sanders would now be an acceptable alternative if it were not for the fact that the establishment has stopped the process of Sanders getting the Democratic Party nomination.


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Jim McIlroy: Slavery endemic to Australia’s colonial history

Jim McIlroy writes that Slavery endemic to Australia’s colonial history.

Slavery, as a system of forced labour, dates back to antiquity. Slavery, Australia-style, includes the original convict system, First Nations people being forced to labour on pastoral stations, the Blackbirding of South Sea Islanders and the Stolen Wages program in Queensland and other states.

While wage theft is the capitalist system’s standard business model and the colonisers generally accepted slavery, it nevertheless sat uneasily on their conscience. This is why the ideology of “scientific” racism, the belief that one skin colour was superior to another, allowed First Nations people to be enslaved for so long. It also underpins the right’s culture wars, currently taking a hammering with the rise of the Black Lives Matter-Stop Deaths in Custody movements.

Emphasis Mine

Racism is the ideological justification for slavery. It is not the economic or political justification. The economic justification is the maximum possible extraction of labour value from workers. The political justification was to create a collaborator class of poor whites to uphold the system of slavery.


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Marguerite Ward: Only 25% of Americans think capitalism is good for society

Marguerite Ward writes that Only 25% of Americans think capitalism is good for society.

In May, the Harris Poll and Just Capital, an independent research firm founded by the billionaire investor Paul Tudor Jones, surveyed 1,000 people on their thoughts about capitalism amid the pandemic. Only 25% of respondents said they believed our current form of capitalism ensures the greater good of society.

For many this doesn’t come as a surprise. Prominent voices ranging from a top Harvard economist to the billionaire hedge-fund manager Ray Dalio have warned that capitalism would soon face a crisis because of the massive inequality exposed by the pandemic.

Emphasis Mine

The report on the survey concluded:

Americans overwhelmingly agree that we as a society need to use this crisis as an opportunity to fix what’s broken and find a better way of living. Americans are looking for companies to take the lead on key policy issues like paid sick leave, paid family leave, wage increases, healthcare, and increased flexibility to work from home. And the American public believes we need a more evolved form of capitalism to tackle the shift.

This more evolved capitalism must be based on our learnings from this time – that our economy has not been working for the majority of Americans, that business must play a key role in protecting the public, and that certain populations, including Black and Brown Americans, are tremendously vulnerable to both the health and economic impacts of crisis. When asked if they had been personally impacted by COVID-19, Black survey respondents identified as having been furloughed, laid off, or given a zero-hour schedule at double the rate of White respondents (Black respondents: 22%, 20%, and 21% vs. White respondents: 10%, 11%, and 5%, respectively).

We have faced unprecedented challenges over the last few months – and it’s not over yet – but we have the opportunity today to build better coming out of this pandemic, and deep social unrest. These views from the public provide a roadmap to how we can reset capitalism to truly serve all Americans, and build a more equitable society for tomorrow.

Emphasis Mine

This view is hampered by the blinkers that Capitalism is the only gmae in town. Socialism or Communism is not even considered. Fifty (50) years on neo-liberalism has led us here. What the magazine wants some form of Capitalism to survive this crisis. They are implicitly recognizing that the neo-liberal project has led to this series of crises: massive busfires; glaobal pandemic; economic depression; unrest in the streets.

People have to realize that asking Capitalists to be nice will not work. We have seen what utter bastards thry are throughout the 1980s and onwards. We need to take control of our own lives and our work. We need to work and struggle towards a more just and equitable society. Capitalism has shown that it cannot achieve that outcome.


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