Thursday, June 5, 2008

Cracking the Roads of Empire: Following the Money and Challenging Banker Supremacy

by Quincy Saul
Spring 2008

“The bank is something else than men. It happens that every man in a bank hates what the bank does, and yet the bank does it. The bank is something more than men, I tell you. It’s the monster. Men made it, but they can’t control it.” -John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

Introduction

If the roads of imperialism are paved in money, then they all lead back to banks. Study the cartography of these roads, track the footprints along them. Read about colonization and and discover bankers sowing and reaping with impunity in the plantations of empire. Learn the history of credit and currency and see them moving in machined gears of atrocity. Not only blood, but money also flows through the battlefields of conquest. Follow the money, pry into the genealogy of power -- and find that beside every general and politician there is a banker standing in the anterooms of hegemony.

Military structures, the processes of state formation, and many modes and mechanisms of exploitation have been investigated at length both by professional scholars and revolutionary movements. But the focus of critical inquiry has for whatever reasons largely neglected the part that banks play in the political economy of imperialism. The profits and influence of bankers in both the historical and modern processes of colonization, imperialism and occupation have met with no effective reprimand, and hardly any significant opposition. The agency of banking in conquest is almost always overlooked and infrequently understood, much less articulated from a perspective of resistance. Meanwhile, the power of small elite groups of bankers has grown to fill the vacuum of widespread complacency towards the banking system.

In resisting the modern manifestations of imperialism, I believe that an understanding of financial institutions and systems is essential. In other words, resistance motivates this text. I will begin with a historical and theoretical narrative tracing the interwoven histories of banking and empire. Then, a closer explanation and analysis of currency and credit systems will provide more history and introduce some concepts that will help to theorize and understand modern imperialism. With all this in mind, we will then examine the colonial histories of Haiti and Palestine; two vastly distinct places that share today a tragic legacy: both victims of a conquest made possible and catalyzed by bankers, and both today severely underdeveloped, dependent and physically occupied by a foreign power. From this platform I will try to sketch out the current trajectory of imperialism and finance in our neoliberal era. In this current and historical context, I will argue that the underestimation and misunderstanding of banks and bankers has historically been devastating to revolutionary social movements. Finally, I will offer some perspectives and suggestions on how to proceed from this historical moment: both in understanding modern imperialism, and resisting it, through the creation of revolutionary banking and currency systems.


A Brief History of Banking & Empire

“What is the robbing of a bank compared to the founding of a bank?” -Bertold Brecht

“The bank -- the monster has to have profits all the time. It can’t wait. It’ll die... When the monster stops growing, it dies. It can’t stay one size.” -John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies...” -Thomas Jefferson

Banking and imperialism are symbiotic; it’s difficult to tell the story of one without explaining the other. Over the centuries they have become increasingly constitutive of each other and codependent. While there is surely more to imperialism than money, banking has forever changed the face and capacity of empire . Hannah Arendt writes that expansion, the essential characteristic of imperialism, “has its origins in the realm of business speculation”. The cozy history of businessmen and emperors has been to some extent analyzed and theorized. But the rise of businessmen and emperors would never have been possible without the financial infrastructure provided by bankers. It is the banks that provide the credit for conquest, collect interest on occupation and centralize all the spoils. Conquistadors do not pull themselves up by boot-straps; they are extensively financed by a network of institutions. These institutions are essential to the anatomy of empire. This is the story of how bankers have risen to become some of the most powerful and unaccountable imperialists in the world today.

In the late 1800s, Karl Marx briefly described in the first volume of Capital the genesis of what he foresaw as “the modern bankocracy”:


At their birth the great banks, decorated with national titles, were only associations of private speculators, who placed themselves by the side of governments and, thanks to the privileges they received, were in a position to advance money to those governments. (p.919-920)

As the scope and ambition of imperialist desires grew, bankers (and their ability to lend money) became ever more integral to the project of expansion through conquest. Charles Tilly explains how imperialist statesmen came to rely on bankers:


To make more effective war, they attempted to locate more capital. In the short run, they might acquire that capital by conquest, by selling off their assets, or by coercing or dispossessing accumulators of capital. In the long run, the quest involved them in establishing regular access to capitalists who could supply and arrange credit...” (p.172)

Bankers not only provided the credit for military expansion, they also financed the immense capital expenditure that the infrastructure of empire requires. Their role here is difficult to overstate. Any industry, state or private, that wished to exploit or control in whatever way an occupied territory, needed access to credit to set up operations there. Bankers soon came to play an irreplaceable role in nearly every part of the imperial process and have thus secured themselves a powerful heritage in the family tree of empire. “Behind every successful dynasty,” wrote Jan de Vries, “stood an array of opulent banking families.”

As the state, industry and banks formed alliances of complementary rapacity in a shared project of expansion, a new class of capitalists emerged.1 The Austrian economist Rudolf Hilferding (among others) saw in this the development of a new phase in the development of capitalism. He recognized in the fusion of industrial and financial capital the birth of what he called ‘finance capital’:

Finance capital marks the unification of capital. The previously distinct spheres of industrial capital, commercial capital and bank capital are henceforth under the control of high finance, in which the magnates of industry and the banks are closely associated. (Finance Capital, p.407)

A few years later, in his famous work Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism, Vladimir Lenin would identify the consolidation of industrial and bank capital as one of the final developments that confirm the imperial stage of capitalism. As their power has accumulated, bankers in the modern world have become far more than simple financiers. “The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim,” wrote Carrol Quigley in the 1960s:

nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements, arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences.

Quigley’s claim here is no hyperbole. Powerful banking magnates not only regulate the currency and credit of almost every country, they also exert considerable influence over virtually every elite international organization, from the United Nations to the Bilderberg Group. From the genesis of small-time money lenders to the maturity of the global bankocracy, I aim to show the theoretical and historical process through which bankers went from doting hopefully in the courts of empire to setting the imperial agenda themselves. In the case studies that follow we will highlight some examples of banker imperialism and introduce the concept of the financialization of empire. But before we embark on the case studies, I will identify to some extent the most important mechanisms through which bankers have developed their current hegemony.

Bankers exercise their power and maintain their control principally through monopolizing two economic systems: credit and currency. A thorough analysis of these subjects is well beyond the scope of this paper, as is a complete investigation of the history of banking. A deeper understanding of the complexities of these systems will do much to inform our comprehension of the incredible momentum that banking injects into the imperial schema, and as such deserve they much further critical investigation. Here I will only outline some of the most outstanding features of credit and currency; hopefully enough to both provoke both resistance and the creation of alternatives.


Credit, Currency and Control

[A]n altogether new force comes into existence with the development of capitalist production: the credit system. In its first stages, this system furtively creeps in as the humble assistant of accumulation, drawing into the hands of individual or associated capitalists by invisible threads the money resources, which lie scattered in larger or smaller amounts, over the surface of society; but it soon becomes a new and terrible weapon in the battle of competition and is finally transformed into an enormous social mechanism for the centralization of capital. -Karl Marx

“It is well that the people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.” -Henry Ford

The complexity of economic systems is and has been used as a kind of leverage to obtain our compliance in allowing others to control them. The majority of society is propagandized into believing that the economy is far too complex to be understood and that it should therefore be left in hands of experts. There has almost never been any pretense of democracy in most economic institutions. Powerful politicians, businessmen and economists bank, so to speak, on popular inability to understand the economic processes that determine the distribution of wealth in society. And yet, as John Kenneth Galbraith wrote, “[t]he process by which banks create money is so simple that the mind is repelled.” My goal here is to dispel the mythology that haunts economics, to pull the curtains and reveal the processes that have for too long been monopolized by a criminal syndicate of stagehands: wealthy politicians, businessmen and bankers.

The issuance of credit is essentially the ability to create something out of nothing; value (denominated in currency) is conjured out of a promise of future repayment. As we will soon see, banks usually have far less wealth in their vaults than they lend out as credit. “The modern banking system,” wrote Sir Josiah Stamp from the Bank of England, “manufactures money out of nothing. The process is perhaps the most astounding piece of sleight of hand that was ever invented.” Credit, for so long monopolized by bankers, is thus one of the most powerful weapons in the arsenal of conquest. Credit facilitates magnitudes of expansion that would be impossible without it.

But the credit endeared by emperors quickly became a two-edged sword. In providing the highly demanded financial muscle behind the imperial expansion of armies and industries, creditors have come to control the economies of the same metropolises in which they are based. In the capitalist economies of the industrial and post industrial worlds, credit has become as essential to the growth of the domestic economy as it has been for the invasion of external ones. Bankers, rising rapidly in power and influence as agents of imperial expansion, have in many cases come to usurp the powers of statesmen, not through seizure of state power, but by monopolizing the ability to create wealth through credit. As Reginald McKenna, former Chairman of the Board of the Midlands Bank of England said, “they who control the credit of a nation direct the policy of governments and hold in the hollow of their hands the destiny of the people.”

The institutions of credit, coevolving with the institutions of empire, have developed operational procedures that have allowed them to magnify and multiply their already considerable power. A crucial episode in the chronology of imperialism is the development of what is known as fractional reserve banking. Fractional reserve banking, legally sanctioned by governments eager for growth, allows banks to have in their vaults only a fraction of the money that they lend out as loans. Once merely a mechanism to facilitate expansion, with the advent of the fractional reserve system, banking came to inject its own inertia of expansion into society.

The fractional reserve system gives bankers the ability to loan more than they possess, and moreover, to continue to charge interest on the repayment of these loans. Because the value created through loans is larger than the actual money supply, there’s not actually enough money for everyone to pay back their loans. Borrowers are forced to compete with the rest of society to accumulate enough wealth to repay their debt and its interest. The monetary historian Andrew Gause writes that “one thing to recognize about our fractional reserve banking system is that, like a child’s game of musical chairs, as long as the music is playing, there are no losers.” But the music is in poor taste -- there are losers. Because there is not enough wealth in society to repay all of the loans, there are inevitably debtors. This process is compounded by interest payments, further necessitating that each individual in society replicate the business model of imperialism with endless accumulation at the expense of their neighbors. In a fractional reserve society, borrowers must become imperialists or debtors.

Anthony Giddens writes that one of the necessary requirements for the rise of what he calls ‘the absolutist state’ is “the development of a monetary system co-ordinated and sanctioned by state power”. The control of currency is as essential as the control of credit for the infrastructure of hegemony. “Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation,” wrote Mayer Anselm Rothschild, “and I care not who makes its laws.” As the prime mechanism for the exercise of wealth, currency is a central axis around which power contends. Indeed, in capitalist economies, the owners of the means of exchange are even more powerful than the owners of the means of production. Those who have a monopoly on the creation of money are able to freely manipulate the amount of money in circulation, which will ultimately determine the value of every production process. In any economy of exchange, it should be clear that those who control the means of exchange in turn control the economy, directly and indirectly. As James A. Garfield wrote, “[w]hoever controls the volume of money in our country is absolute master of all industry and commerce.”

Currency is the nexus in which credit is realized as value through exchange. As such, the control of currency is pivotal for any economic power. It should come as no surprise that almost without exception, powerful bankers, closely allied with but largely independent of the state apparatus, have dominated the realm of currency.2 “History records,” wrote James Madison, “that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling money and its issuance.”

What I have attempted to show is how bankers have risen through history and hierarchy from the junior partners to the managers of imperialist business ventures. I have focused our interrogation of power on the axes of credit and currency, and suggested that the process through which currency is created through credit with fractional reserve banking not only expedites imperial designs but adds a new momentum and motive for imperialism within society. Next we will sharpen our focus and examine the specific strategies and consequences of banker imperialism in Haiti and Palestine. I choose these two countries not only because bankers have had an especially active part in their conquest, but because both are still under severe occupation, and because the history of both has been systematically eliminated from mainstream discourse. The goal here, then, is a double expose; to reveal both the criminal ongoing oppression of the Haitian and Palestinian people, and also the roles of bankers in securing and perpetuating their conquest.



Financial Conquistadors and the Imperium of Dependency

Banking, the Highest Stage of Imperialism: The Case of Haiti


“Only the unlimited accumulation of power could bring about the unlimited accumulation of capital.” - Hannah Arendt (p.137)

The history of Haiti is uniquely heroic and tragic. Colonized with customary brutality by the French in the late 17th century, a revolution in 1791 began what would become the first and only successful slave rebellion in recorded history. With the hands of this revolution, slavery was abolished in 1793, in 1800 a revolutionary government was formed and by 1804 Haiti was the second free republic in the Americas. The struggle for liberation in Haiti seriously challenged the European imperial aristocracy for the first time with the demand for unconditional decolonization.

Three imperial powers fought desperately against the liberation of Haiti. The European colonial elite found themselves in an unforeseen situation; they confronted a determined and organized revolutionary movement in their most lucrative colony. Peter Hallward writes that “by the 1780s, [Haiti] was a bigger source of income for its masters than the whole of Britain’s 13 North American colonies combined.” The prospect of an insurrection in the heart of the most profitable colony in the world (“the Pearl of the Antilles”) was too scary for the imperial powers to stomach. In the height of the enlightenment era, framed by a discourse of equality, liberty and fraternity, the European powers waged a total and relentless war of conquest against the Haitian revolutionaries. Hallward writes that “[c]ombined British, Spanish and French efforts to crush the rebellion fueled a war that lasted thirteen years and ended in unequivocal imperial defeat. Both Pitt and Napoleon lost some 50,000 troops in the effort to restore slavery and the status quo.” Stan Goff writes that the former slaves “out-generaled, out-administered, and out-fought the European giants, smashing the myth of white supremacy.” When these former slaves shattered the chains of colonialism in “what had been, in 1789, its strongest link”3, they menaced not only the military, economic and racial dominance of the European powers, but posed a profound challenge to the whole imperial system. “[T]here have been few other events in modern history,” continues Hallward, “whose implications were more threatening to the dominant order.”

Ever since the success of their revolution, Haitians have been systematically punished for their historic heroism. “Much of Haiti’s subsequent history,” writes Hallward, “has been shaped by efforts, both internal and external, to stifle the consequences of this event and to preserve the essential legacy of slavery and colonialism.” The threat that Haiti posed to empire has since been turned upon its head; Haiti is now, symbolically at least, the threat posed by empire. Dare to challenge them, and they will turn you into another Haiti: the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, trapped in a nearly hopeless mess of disease, corruption, poverty, pollution and structural violence.

The story of Haiti’s transition from the second independent republic of the new world to one of the most desperate and dependent countries in the world today is a tale written in money and dictated largely by bankers. Imperialists learned many lessons in Haiti -- here we will investigate how resistance in Haiti forced imperialists to adopt new strategies of expansion which enabled them to short-circuit the inconveniences of colonization and preserve imperial relations in spite of political and military decolonization.

The early Haitian statesmen made impressive headway into establishing the beginnings of a democratic republic, against incredible obstacles. In her book, Taking Haiti, Mary Renda writes that in 1800, the government of Toussaint L’Ouverture had “established a new government in Saint Domingue, complete with new laws, new taxes, a new currency, and having ousted French officials from all administrative posts, new appointees of his own choosing.” (p.47) Despite these important institutional beginnings, the infrastructure of economic imperialism would prove more difficult to overthrow than the armies.

Independent Haiti was immediately the target of an economic war of attrition. All of the European powers refused to recognize Haiti and withheld trade; the freshly independent United States imposed trade sanctions in 1806. Haitian delegates were even snubbed at the Panamerican talks in Panama 1825 by Latin American elite fearful of imperial redress -- they refused to recognize Haiti until France and the United States did. (Renda, 50) Haitian political and economic leaders “faced a host of problems,” Renda writes, “including the insufficiency of their exports and a scarcity of credit...” (p.51) Seizing the opportunity, France took advantage of Haiti’s dilemma and offered them a deal: France would recognize Haiti and open trade relations, but only if the Haitian government agreed to pay an indemnity of 150 million francs (~$28 million) to the former slave owners of Saint Domingue. (Renda, 51) Pressured into complying with this absurd demand; that independent Haitians compensate their former colonizers for their losses, the imperial relation was once again established.4 Desperate for trade and investment, Haiti accepted the deal in 1825. Thus began Haiti’s subjection to the imperium of dependency, a process detailed and designed by teams of financial conquistadors.

Suddenly, Haiti found itself indebted to the empire it had just defeated in war. “Haiti could only begin paying this debt,” Hallward writes, “by borrowing, at extortionate rates of interest, 24 million francs from private French banks.” Lacking any French currency, the Haitians government was obliged to go to their its enemies for help. Renda describes in dismal detail how Haitian political independence was transformed through financial manipulation into little more than a souvenir:


Forced to accept French assistance to pay their former masters, Haitians found themselves operating under French domination for the next half century... The context of forced dependence thus framed the dissolution of Haitian independence... France maintained control through the manipulation of the indemnity and later the debt that replaced it... (p.51)

But the story of Haiti’s path to dependency and the financiers of conquest that lead the way is only beginning. The erosion of Haitian self-determination was a stage set by foreign investment. In 1871, under the presidency of Lysius Salomon, the Banque Nationale d’Haiti was founded. Amazingly, “France received a controlling interest, and saw to the legal revisions that would allow foreign companies limited land-ownership rights in Haiti.” (Renda, p.52) Haitian sovereignty was being whittled away by the swords of finance capital. The prohibition of foreign land ownership had been one of the central tenets of Haitian independence in 1804. When France managed to circumvent this prohibition through its control over the central bank, imperialism entered a new era. Hegemony was no longer to be determined by military prowess or obtained through the seizure of state apparatus. Imperial relations would be established through the administration of financial institutions, through which former colonies could be forced into dependency and debt. With the national bank under French control, Haiti effectively resigned the revolution it had begun in 1791. As William Lyon Mackenzie King wrote,


Once a nation parts with the control of its currency and credit, it matters not who makes the nation’s laws... Until the control of the issue of currency and credit is restored to government and recognized as its most sacred responsibility, all talk of sovereignty of parliament and of democracy is idle and futile.

Yet while the subordination of the Haitian people was virtually assured by this silent coup, another imperial power was contending for the control of Haiti. The increasing magnitude of the investments of US industry in Haiti lead prominent capitalists in the United States to lobby the federal government to take a more active role in Haitian affairs to ensure the security of their investments. Prominent among these lobbyists were bankers.

Bankers had developed a tight relationship with the federal government during the administration of William Howard Taft. Ironically, the questionably philanthropic efforts of Taft to reduce the economic dependency of Latin American states through international loans in the early 1900s had the irreversible effect of empowering the institutions and individuals that would develop a vested interest in perpetuating the dependency of the former colonies. Renda writes that Taft,


[c]oncerned... with the economic influence of European powers in Latin America... sought to reduce that influence by providing loans, through American banks, to financially troubled Latin American states... this brought the banks into a more intimate relation with the policy-making structure of the federal government... (p.98)

The seeds of this relationship soon began to sprout. Renda recounts:


In 1909, the Department of State succeeded in persuading the National City Bank and Speyer and Company to throw their hats in the ring when there arose the possibility of a reorganization of the French-controlled Banque Nationale d’Haiti... By the time the deal was closed, American bankers held a 50 percent controlling interest. (p.98)


The election of Woodrow Wilson to the US presidency in 1913 did nothing to change this trajectory. Already, powerful US investors were advocating military intervention in Haiti to ensure the security of their foreign assets. The military pricked up its ears and some generals began too to clamor for conquest. “More important than any of the various military factors however,” writes Renda,


were the links between businessmen and bankers and the policy-making apparatus of the federal government. An absence of knowledge about Latin American affairs within the administration proper served to enhance those links. Neither Wilson nor [William Jennings] Bryan had any significant knowledge of Haiti, nor was there much Latin American expertise in the Department of State... In lieu of a well-trained team in the Department of State, Wilson and Bryan came to rely upon bankers, railroad magnates, and other business leaders for guidance as they developed U.S. policy toward Haiti... (p.97)

Through this relationship, finance capital took the reins of policy. The kind of policy proposals produced by such a team of advisors was, of course, predictable. “Only through the expansion of the national instruments of violence,” Hannah Arendt saw, “could the foreign investment movement be rationalized,” (p.136) Renda continues:


[Wilson’s] administration was keen to know what conditions would encourage US investment in Haiti generally. In the spring of 1914 [the powerful industrial businessman] Jordan Stabler reported his findings on that question, gathered from representatives of the United Fruit Company. Their answer? A U.S. occupation, ensuring an end to the cycle of revolution. (p.98)

Once the possibility of invasion was firmly on the table, the bankers and businessmen wouldn’t back down. Roger L. Farnham, “an officer in the National City Bank, as well as vice president in the Haitian National Bank and president of an American-owned railroad company in Haiti” threatened to pull all his investments out of Haiti if there were no occupation. (Renda, p.99) Only a year after Stabler presented his recommendations, the United States made the first steps towards occupation. Revealingly, the invasion began with a seizure of the Haitian central bank:


In December [1914], Bryan arranged for a detachment of marines to escort $500,000 of Haitian government funds from the Haitian National Bank, via gunboat, to the National City Bank in New York. Shortly before receiving this assistance from the US government, the Haitian bank lowered its French flag and raise the Stars and Stripes, signaling that it would henceforth be under the protection of the United States. (Renda p.99)

A year later, the US Marines would invade Haiti and proceed to occupy it for the next nineteen years. An estimated 15,000 Haitians died during these years. The withdrawal of US troops in 1934 hardly inaugurated Haitian independence. Seventy four years later in 2008, Haiti is again occupied -- now by the United Nations.5 Upon the already crippling legacy of slavery and exploitation at the hands of the French, a thirteen year war fought without allies against the most powerful and brutal imperial armies of their era, and decades of isolation, indebtedness and dependency, the nineteen years of US occupation did everything possible to crush beyond recognition the challenge that Haiti once posed to empire.

And more than one country was changed as a consequence of the US invasion of Haiti. The entrenchment of bankers at high levels of government throughout the Haiti years was irreversible. Woodrow Wilson, who, years after Haiti infamously signed the Federal Reserve Act into law6, repentantly confessed towards the end of his life:


I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is privately concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated governments in the civilized world. No longer a government of free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men.



A Colonial Bargain: The Financialization of Empire: Political Independence for Economic Path Dependency.


“He had thought to bargain with them, a very naive anarchist’s notion. The individual cannot bargain with the state. The State recognizes no coinage but power; and it issues the coins itself.”
-Ursula K. Leguin, The Dispossessed

“War was only over because now it was everywhere.” Eyal Weizman


The case of Haiti had profound effects on the development of imperialism. The emerging struggles for national liberation were forcing imperialists to either engage in long and expensive wars, or to change their practices. In response, power was quickly starting to maneuver in new ways. The mechanisms of finance capital were learning to substitute for direct military occupation. The locus of hegemony shifted spatially from government and military buildings to financial institutions. Formal colonization was increasingly abandoned in favor of the control of currency and credit, which was usually easily monopolized during the scramble for political independence.

In the aftermath of Haiti, similar strategies have been applied by imperial powers to nearly all their former colonies. I will call this stage of development in the chronology of power the financialization of empire. Financialization in strictly economic terms refers to simultaneous stagnation or decline in industrial sectors and growth in the financial sectors of an economy. If the financialization of an economy is a process of deindustrialization combined with the growth of financial firms, then the financialization of an empire refers to the process of decolonization compensated for by the control of financial institutions.

Just because there is no invasion, just because a flag is not planted on foreign soil, does not mean that imperialism is any less powerful or any less widespread than before. As Alexander Motyl writes in Revolutions, Nations, Empires,”forcible expansion is only one of many paths toward empire.” (p.158) On the contrary, the formal independence of former colonies has provided imperialists with an excellent cover to go on with the plunder that was their main ambition to begin with. Harry Magdoff explains in his book Imperialism Without Colonies:


The end of colonialism by no means signifies the end of imperialism. The explanation of this seeming paradox is that colonialism, considered as the direct application of military and political force, was essential to reshape the social and economic institutions of many of the dependent countries to the needs of the metropolitan centers. Once this reshaping had been accomplished, economic forces -- the international price, marketing, and financial systems -- were by themselves sufficient to perpetuate and indeed intensify the relationship of dominance and exploitation between mother country and colony. In these circumstances, the colony could be granted formal political independence without changing anything essential, and without interfering too seriously with the interests which had originally led to the conquest of the colony. (p.108-9)

The financialization of empire, though developed in response to the demands of decolonization, by no means signifies any kind of retreat in the imperial agenda. If anything, the mechanisms of imperialism have become more powerful than before. Former colonial powers no longer need to suffer the travails of resistance; the costs of pacification are outsourced to the foreign elite of the politically independent country.7 Imperialists need not even have a physical presence in the territories they are exploiting; they can maintain total control of the target economy from the other side of the world through the manipulation of currency and credit. Investment replaces conquest. By these means, just about every former colony has been cheated out of its independence. Overseen by teams of financial conquistadors, decolonization for most meant little more than the transition from one kind of subjugation to another. In this grand colonial bargain, the decolonized exchanged the threat of death for the reign of debt, traded in marshal law for market lawlessness, and swapped a regal emperor for a decentralized imperium of dependency.

In 1917, with the US military occupation of Haiti two years underway, on the other side of the world, General Sir Edmund Allenby, entering Jerusalem for the first time after having defeated the Ottoman army, declared that “today, the wars of the Crusaders are completed.”

The case of Haiti showed us how the development of imperialism changed at the beginning of the end of what is known as the colonial era. Next, the case of Palestine will illustrate the forms that imperialism took at the end of the colonial period, during and throughout the height of decolonization, and into today. Just as Haiti was turned into a staging ground for the experiments of the old empires, Palestine was becoming a laboratory for the newest strategies and techniques of imperialism.



On the Banker Question: The Case of Palestine

“Money is the god of our time, and Rothschild is his prophet.” -Heinrich Heine

The occupation of Palestine began gradually. The large scale dispossession of the Palestinian people from their land, commemorated by Israelis as the War of Independence and known by Palestinians as al nakba (the catastrophe) began in 1948, but the settlement movement had been well underway for nearly a century. I will not provide an analysis here of all the conditions8 that lead to the establishment of settlements and eventually a Jewish state in Palestine. I will instead focus on following the money that paved the way for occupation. Once again, the roads lead back to the bank.

The history of Zionism and the Israeli state is closely entwined with one of the most powerful banking families of Europe, the Rothschilds. From the first settlements to the Israeli supreme court, we will find the Rothschild family intimately involved at almost every stage in the occupation of Palestine. Zionism, which began as a fledgling subaltern movement, with the financial muscle and political influence of the Rothschilds behind it, quickly grew into a formidable reality. Without the assistance and motivation provided by these powerful bankers, it is more than likely that the state of Israel as we know it would not exist today.

The first Rothschild to seriously engage in the Zionist project was Baron Edmond James de Rothschild (1845-1934). In his book Righteous Victims, Israeli historian Benny Morris records that over the years, Edmond contributed 1.6 million pounds sterling to various Zionist enterprises and charities in Palestine. (p.18) He was most instrumental in financing the settlement movement.9 He financed one of the first Jewish settlements, at Rishon-LeZion. In the early 1900s, Morris writes that “[m]ost of the settlements were fairly quickly overtaken by financial difficulties, and he carried the new settlements... and others set up later in the 1880s and 90s.” (p.19-20) Edmond Rothschild’s role in underwriting the earliest stages of the Zionist project has earned him an iconic legacy in Israel. Popularly known as “the father of the settlement”, the Israeli Independence Day coin from 1982 has his face on it.

The colossal influence of the Rothschild family in the political economy of Israeli history began but did not stop with the sponsorship of Jewish settlers in Palestine. The political and economic authority of the Rothschilds increasingly legitimized Zionism to the major European powers. Meanwhile the Rothschilds increasingly became representatives of the Zionist movement in Europe. The centrality of the Rothschild family in selling Zionism to Europe culminated symbolically in 1917, when the British government formally declared its support for “a national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. This fateful statement of policy, now well known as the Balfour Declaration, was made in a private correspondence from British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Lionel Walter Rothschild.

The history of the Israeli state, and along with it the history of the subjugation of the Palestinian people, is replete with Rothschilds: After the second world war, the Rothschild family was deeded the rights to the German railroads in Palestine. French and British Rothschilds contributed over $1 million to Israel during the six day war in 1967. The Knesset, the legislature building of Israel, was built with the money of James A. Rothschild. The Supreme Court building was donated to Israel by Dorothy de Rothschild. The first International Bank of Israel is located on 39 Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv.

My intention here is not heap all the blame for the imperial character of Zionism and the plight of the Palestinian people singly on the Rothschild family. I merely wish to situate the considerable power of bankers and other financial conquistadors within our understanding of imperial history. But while the biographies of these lender barons have important (and almost always neglected) historical significance, I want to avoid falling into the nearsightedness of missing the forest for the trees. While powerful bankers have steered the course of many a conquest, imperialism is larger than the sum of its parts. To fully comprehend the political and economic developments and consequences of the imperial trajectory, we must take up a broader perspective.


The Question of Israel: A Systemic and Symbolic History


“[A] territory is emptied of its people. Capitalism thus makes a giant leap in a single bound.” -Gilles Deleuze


“Imperialism was the theory, colonialism the practice” -Edward Said


As with Haiti, it is crucial to situate the conquest of Palestine within its global context. While revolutionary movements swept the colonized world and imperial armies and institutions were under increasingly powerful and organized attack, the occupation of Palestine, institutionalized, financed and fought by the British empire, represented a symbolic reassertion of imperialism which continues to reverberate throughout the world. “The Arabs are still subject to conquest,” wrote Eqbal Ahmad in 1982: “As the era of decolonization began in 1948, the Palestinians lost the greater part of their homeland. They are now experiencing systematic dispossession from its remnant: the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem.”

Again akin to the Haitians, the Palestinians suffer from a colonization that is uniquely severe both in its symbolic and systemic qualities. Just as a new dawn of liberation was eclipsing the history of conquest and it appeared as if the sun of empire was setting at last, the Palestinians fell victims to settler colonialism, one of the most vicious manifestations of imperialism. Here the history of Haiti and Palestine diverge: While the occupation of Haiti was a means towards an end of exploitation, the means and ends of the conquest of Palestine were essentially identical: the elimination of the Palestinians. “The Palestinians were never given any other choice than unconditional surrender,” wrote Gilles Deleuze: “All they were offered was death.” In this unification of means and ends, the military and economic strangulation of the Palestinians advanced in simultaneously diffuse and disciplined cadence. From a systemic perspective, we can observe in the strategies of the Israeli occupation some of the same characteristics of the financialization of empire that we saw in Haiti, but some new and fateful trends also emerge.

The case of Palestine serves to illustrate how the power relations between financial and military conquistadors run both ways. In Haiti we saw military practices determined by financial interests, and in Palestine we see economic policy determined largely by military strategy. These two parallel networks of causation enforce and inflate the imperial dynamic that now culminate in the financialization of empire. While the development of these trends has been evident throughout the history of Israel, the institutional entrenchment of the imperium of dependency became most apparent after the travesty of Oslo.

In her essay The Political Economy of Israeli Occupation, Leila Farsakh explains that the joint Israeli-Palestinian committees that were the deliberating and decision making bodies at Oslo, “even when it came to economic matters, were not composed of civilians only, but also of representatives from military and security branches.” (p.11-12) The result, in spite of the deliberate (and villainous) obfuscation of the global media magnates, should not have been difficult to foresee: “the economics of the occupation after Oslo became structured along Israeli security concerns.” (Farsakh, p.13) But the declarations and decisions made at Oslo did not result in an increased military presence in the occupied territories. On the contrary, the occupation was financialized: “The Israeli military retreated,” Farsakh writes, “from being the direct manager of the Palestinian economy to being the gatekeeper of Palestinian finance and access to the world.” (p.12) Through these means, Israel has been constructing a hegemony over what remains of Palestine that pure military force could never realize. The political and economic system at work here is a peculiar brand of Zionist capitalism -- where extermination proves too costly, exploitation persists. The Palestinians who have escaped death and dispossession are punished for their recalcitrance with subjugation to a faceless regime of dependency.

In the wake of Oslo, Palestinian economic dependency has been systematically intensified. To begin with, the Palestinian Authority (PA) was forbidden to issue its own currency. (Farsakh, p.12) But even more fatal for Palestinian economic sovereignty has been Israel’s absolute power over Palestinian trade. Farsakh writes that “Palestinian trade remained bound by Israel’s trade policy, as Israeli tax rates (both direct and indirect) remained the governing guidelines, as were Israeli standards and import regulations.” (p.12) The consequences of Israeli control over Palestinian trade are not hard to predict. “Israel remained the market for 70% of the Palestinian exports and the source of 90% or its imports.” (Farsakh, p.10)

The development of Palestinian economic dependency is not an accident but the consequence of a strategized and sustained policy of domination. “The economics of occupation,” writes Farsakh,

included... the creation of a ‘one-sided’ customs union that allowed Israeli products free access to the Palestinian markets but restricted the entry of Palestinian goods, particularly agricultural ones, into the Israeli economy... [it also] restricted investment and capital flows, something that would have logically flown from Israel to the occupied territories because of their lower labor costs... (p.10)

Not only do Israeli government institutions exercise absolute control over Palestinian trade, they administer the distribution of its revenues. In other words, all the gains from trade are confiscated by Israel and redistributed at Israeli discretion. Since Oslo, these customs revenues, which constitute 30% of Palestinian GNP and 60-70% of the PA’s budget, are

collected by [the] Israeli Ministry of Finance on goods imported to the Palestinian economy... The entity responsible for the transfer of funds was no longer the civil administration, but a committee composed of the Israeli Ministry of Finance, the Israeli military, and the Prime Minister’s office. The Israeli National Security Council, not the Ministry of the Economy, was also directly involved in all meeting with the PA over custom revenues. (Farsakh, p.13)

All the techniques of imperial occupation we have discussed seem to be concentrated and applied in the occupied territories of Palestine. The Palestinian people are subject to both a militarized financial occupation and an economized military occupation. Farsakh summarizes:

The economics of Israeli occupation is... a structural relation of domination that transformed the prospects for a future political solution... [it is] based on a system of economic integration that made the West Bank and Gaza Strip’s economy dependent on Israeli demand and regulations, unable to compete with Israeli products on an equal basis, internally disconnected, unable to provide the basis for an independent Palestinian state. (p.3,9)

At least since 1948, the Palestinians have been the victims of one of the most systematized and ideologically driven occupations in history. It is an insatiable occupation, in that it is not content to merely exploit a subjugated population. The only state in the world that consistently refuses to declare its borders, Israel has given every possible indication of its imperial determination to squeeze the Palestinian people out of existence.10 Israeli military and economic strategy to this end has been extremely effective. The Palestinians are at the mercy of an occupation that in every respect has been getting increasingly merciless for 60 years now. Gaza has been turned into nothing less than a giant concentration camp (threatened recently with a shoa), and the West Bank is rapidly disintegrating in a cage of expanding settlements and the new separation wall.11 The tragic epitome of how power works in an imperium of dependency can be found embodied in the Palestinian workers who, in utter desperation, are now employed constructing the separation wall. (Farsakh, p.17) As the bodies of slaves and serfs were the biopolitical productions of earlier imperial societies, the bodies of these workers as much as the bodies of the suicide bombers are the grotesque manufactures of perhaps the most advanced form of imperialism in the world today.12


The Furies of Finance and The Axis of Usury: The New Banker Order, from Nakba to Lamise13

Following the money in Haiti and Palestine will lead us headlong into three of the most powerful financial institutions on Earth: The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). A synopsis of the history and trajectory of these institutions is available elsewhere; they have been seriously investigated and widely condemned by social movements on every populated continent. They concern us here both because they operate somewhat like banks, and because they play a key part in what Carrol Quigley called the world system of financial control. Together, they usher in a new era of imperialism.

While the World Bank, IMF, and WTO are different institutions with different buildings, budgets and bureaucrats, they operate vis-a-vis their client countries as a single entity. “They are interchangeable masks of a single governance system,” writes Greg Palast: “They have locked themselves together by what they unpleasantly call ‘triggers’. Taking a World Bank loan ‘triggers’ a requirement to accept every ‘conditionality’ -- they average 114 per nation -- laid down by both the WTO and the IMF.” (p.157) Despite a fair amount of uproar on both sides of the fence about this triumvirate of high finance, there is still much confusion and misunderstanding as to what they actually do and how. “The spiky-haired protesters in the streets of Seattle,” writes Palast,

believe there’s some kind of grand conspiracy between the corporate powers, the IMF the World Bank and an alphabet soup of agencies that work to suck the blood of Bolivians and steal gold from Tanzania. But the tree huggers are wrong; the details are far more stomach-churning than they even imagine. (p.145)

Acting in concert, the World Bank, WTO and IMF offer loans to poor and needy countries. In return for the loans, these countries surrender control of their economies to the World Bank, WTO and IMF, who promise to set them on the right path to development.14 The strategy for development is virtually the same on every continent and in every country. Palast explains:

There are about a dozen specific steps, but the key ones are: cut government, cut the budgets and bureaucracies and the rules they make; privatize just about everything, deregulate currency and capital markets, free the banks to speculate in currency and shift capital across borders. (p.144)

From case to case, the results of these economic policies have varied little. While there has always been resistance, not a single former colony, I believe, has escaped the economic governance of the IMF, World Bank and WTO. International finance capitalists, heirs to thrones of conquest, have reaped enormous profits through privatization and speculation in the former colonies, aided and abetted by this oligarchy of “world” institutions.

When crises have arisen, whether as a result of massive popular resistance or economic implosion brought on by excessive plunder or both, financial conquistadors have been spared most of the burden, mostly thanks to the IMF. Bankers in particular have been saved from bankruptcy repeatedly in what are now well known as bank bailouts. The IMF ‘bailed out’ foreign banks to the tune of $18 billion dollars in Mexico in 1995. During the Asian financial crisis in the late 90s, the IMF spent $20 billion to bail out banks in South Korea alone. (Hahnel, 1999) These bailouts basically consist of the IMF compensating banks and other firms for their losses with taxpayer money. “So IMF bailouts are not bailouts of debtor countries and their economies at all,” explains Robin Hahnel,

That’s just a popular misconception that some find convenient to let pass uncorrected. IMF bailouts are bailouts of international investors because that is who gets the money. It is the great sucker play of the 20th century, where international lenders enjoy high yields while taxpayers assume the risk. (p.58)

The ingenious novelty of the IMF, World Bank and WTO is to exploit the global peripheries at the expense of the poor that live in the metropolis. This is not an entirely new strategy; imperial armies always have the underprivileged on their front lines. But in the new banker order, these relations are financialized. The people at home pay, rather than fight. So just as the expansion of empire is financialized, so is the empire’s exploitative relation to its core. These two processes flow simultaneously through the IMF, World Bank and WTO, institutional vectors at the height of the new age of empires.

Few institutions of any kind in history have wielded such power with such consequences in so short a period of time. Few empires in history if any possessed anywhere near the range of control over foreign peoples as these institutions do today. These three furies of high finance oversee an empire of financial control upon which the sun never sets. They do so not with armies but with usury.

As they facilitate every kind of profitable conquest, the WTO, IMF and World Bank also operate (I think) the first ever truly global institutionalization of usury. World Bank loans, enforced by the IMF at conditions set by the WTO, are loaned at exorbitantly high interest rates. In many cases, debtor countries are strapped trying to pay only the interest on their debts, which reach sometimes into the hundreds of billions of dollars. Under the financial control of the IMF, World Bank and WTO, between 1980 and 1992, the external debt burden of developing countries as a whole doubled. In Sub-Saharan Africa, where per capita GDP is $308, per capita external debt is $365. Africa as a continent spends four times more on debt interest payments than on health care. Often debtor countries end up paying far more to the IMF than they were even loaned. The statistics go on and on.15 This is the axis of usury under which the furies fatten. In distinct ways, Haiti and Palestine illustrate some of the extreme patterns of power in this new banker order.

A thorough account of the influence of the IMF, World Bank and WTO on the political economy of Haiti will not be attempted here -- I will only outline some of the historical facts relevant to our analysis. Haiti joined the IMF in 1953. While the World Bank and the IMF had been negotiating deals and loans with the Haitian government for years, in the early 1990s, they faced a challenge. This challenge came in the person of the Jean Bertrand Aristide, the first democratically elected president of Haiti. It is worth note that when Aristide won the election in 1990, he ran against Marc Bazin, a World Bank executive. Formerly suppressed social movements swelled with Aristide in power.

Aristide’s populism was anathema to the elite finance capitalists both in the United States and in Haiti. Only nine months after Aristide’s election, Haiti’s National Intelligence Service16 began what would come to be known as ‘Operation Facelift’. Michael Parenti describes how Aristide

was strongarmed into accepting a World Bank agreement that included a shift of some presidential powers to the conservative Haitian parliament, a massive privatization of the public sector and a cut in public employment by one-half, a reduction of regulations and taxes on US corporations investing in Haiti, increased subsidies for exports and private corporations, and a lowering of import duties. World Bank representatives admitted that these measures would hurt the Haitian poor but benefit the ‘enlightened business investors’. (p.130)

With both the core and peripheral elite always at his throat, Aristide had no choice during his fragmented presidency but to act as only a shadow of the political and economic ideals that he and his party, Lavalas, stood for. Despite Aristide’s radical ideas and his large constituency, under domestic and foreign pressures he conceded many deals to the institutions and individuals that were exploiting Haiti wholesale. But the imperial hatred for Aristide (a former liberation theologist) could not be cooled by any amount of concessions on his part. Reelected by an overwhelming majority in 2000 after a military coup, his presidency was to be short lived. In 2004, just after moving to double the minimum wage17 (a move which the World Bank opposed), Aristide was kidnapped at gunpoint and flown to the Central African Republic. Peter Hallward explains:

What began following the Lavalas election victory of 1990 was the deployment of a partially new strategy for disarming this revolution, at a moment when the Cold War no longer offered automatic justification for the repression of mass movements by the overwhelming use of force. Designed not simply to suppress the popular movement but to discredit and destroy it beyond repair, the key to this strategy was the implementation of economic measures intended to intensify already crippling levels of mass impoverishment, backed up by old-fashioned military repression and propaganda designed to portray resistance to elite interests as undemocratic and corrupt. The operation has been remarkably successful -- so successful that in 2004, with the enthusiastic backing of the media, the UN and the wider ‘international community’, it resulted in the removal of a constitutionally elected government whose leadership had always enjoyed the support of a large majority of the population. (p.47)

In the 2004 coup, initiated by France, sanctioned by the UN and sponsored largely by the United States, Haiti was once again thrust, symbolically and systemically, into the center stage of geopolitics. “Markets, privatization of natural resources, drug routes, cheap labor -- all are at stake in the US elite’s scramble for Haiti,” writes editor Michael Ruppert in his introduction to Stan Goff’s article. These are the telltale footprints of systemic imperialism. Also, “an even more important motivation is stinging the Bush junta into frenzied action,” Ruppert continues: “when white supremacy is symbolically wounded, others have to bleed.”

The bleeding continues, under the close supervision of the UN, IMF, WTO and the World Bank. Two centuries after independence, 54% of Haitians live on less than a dollar a day, and 78% live on less than two dollars a day. Aristide, and much of the hope he embodied for millions of disenfranchised Haitians, has been kidnapped and sent (with racist implications that are hard to miss) to Africa. At the end of September 2005, Haiti’s external debt was estimated at $1.3 billion.

The relentlessly deepening lamise that infects Haitian society like an all-pervasive tumor is not locally grown. It has been surgically implanted over centuries by racist imperialists from Europe and the United States. Powerful racists “will put on the mask of paternalistic sympathy while they continue to impose dysfunction,” writes Goff, “but they need Haiti to continue to serve as an example of Black incapacity for self-governance”. To this end, racist empires have used every means at their disposal to hijack Haiti’s original symbolism. Haiti in a tortured sense is an island of Dr. Moreau for imperialism, where symbols of heroism and resistance are brutally vivisected into images of misery and powerlessness, as experiment for export.

-- -- --

The case of Palestine is somewhat different. Due to the economic and military strangulation of Israeli occupation, there is no real Palestinian state in any operative sense.18 Thus it has been harder for financial conquistadors to negotiate the privatization and deregulation they have brokered with most other poor countries. Political conditions have prevented the finance furies from employing their usual shock therapies to gain control of Palestine’s shattered economy. Instead, the World Bank and the IMF in particular have concentrated on controlling what little Palestine has: the sympathy of the international community.

According to Farsakh, 20% of the GDP of the West Bank and Gaza Strip comes in as foreign aid. (p.16) “[T]he Palestinian economy would have been destroyed,” Farsakh writes, “were it not for the donors’ aid, which amounted to yearly sums of $800 million, or an average of US$258 per Palestinian person.” (p.2) But with the Palestinian Authority consigned to fiction by Israeli targeted assassination and general attrition, who would distribute the money? At Oslo, the World Bank and IMF stepped gingerly into the vacuum of power in Palestine. “The World Bank, IMF and the Ad Hoc Liaison committee became the advisor of the PA, helping it in formulating its economic policy as much as managing it. The IMF effectively has oversight of the Palestinian finance ministry.” -Farsakh (p.14-15) Palestine suffered a triple financial conquest at Oslo; they lost control of their customs revenues to Israel, control of their donor money to the IMF, and control of their finance ministry to the World Bank.

How has the World Bank operated politically as an advisor to the PA? What kind of economic tutelage have they offered a people whose economic and political existence are under severe threat of extermination? “The latest World Bank report,” Farsakh writes, “does not mention the occupation as the source of Palestinian economic demise, but the issue of closure. It does not call for abolishing the closures but for finding ways to accommodate them.” (p.15) With this kind of political consciousness in the air, how exactly have the World Banker’s colleagues at the IMF been investing the donations of the international community? Now that they have wrested control from the Palestinian people of access to the world’s sympathy, where has the money been going? Eyal Weizman tells one story, probably indicative of others:

Out of the $200 million allocated for the use of Palestinians in 2005 [from the US], Israel received $50 million to help fund the construction of the terminals [checkpoints]. American money meant to help Palestinians was therefore used to fund one of the most blatant apparatuses of the occupation...
(p.150)

Just like Haiti, the case of Palestine reverberates symbolically and systemically throughout the world. Today, 60 years after an Israeli state was founded and a Palestinian state was annihilated in a single bound, every aspect of Palestinian identity is being systematically dissected. All that remains is what has proven too costly to physically exterminate. Conceptually, historically, ideologically, militarily, mythologically, architecturally, archeologically and even philanthropically, Palestine and everything that word means is being wholeheartedly crushed. Two intifadas inspired hope and resistance amongst oppressed peoples all over the world, but were met with unflinching ruthlessness by Zionist ideological and military business as usual. Nakba has been resurrected and spread evenly over the daily life of Palestinians living under occupation. For the systems and symbols of Israeli occupation as well as for the Palestinian people, in the new and improved age of financialized empire, nakba has become the pursuit of economics by other means.


Navigating the Trajectory

Neoliberalism: Control Through Crisis in the New Banker Order

“The new neoliberal course of capitalism is a reassertion of the power of finance” -Dumenil and Levy (p.1)

It is important to understand that the emergence and rise of finance capital has not been smooth or unchecked. Examples throughout history are too numerous to cite of governors and governments that have kept merchants and money lenders under tight supervision, restricting and controlling their activities. Every stage of capitalist economic development has met with resistance, and the new banker order is no exception. This resistance has come not only from social movements but from other elite groups -- Motyl reminds us that

two analytically distinct forms of domination, one political and one economic, raise the possibility that the core elites may be ‘bifurcated’, consisting of two subtleties. That possibility in turn suggests that the relationship between these two subtleties cannot be assumed to be harmonious, especially in capitalist empires. (p.119)

Each country has a distinct history when it comes to the internal relations between the economic and political elite and I will certainly not try to tell all those histories here. However, some global trends among the most powerful countries can certainly be observed. What will interest us here are the tensions that exist in today’s superpowers between industrial capital and financial capital. The fusion of these as we have seen, produces finance capital and the new banker order. This is the coming of age of neoliberalism.

In the United States, the balance has not always tilted toward the favor of finance. Only recently, in fact, has finance gained the upper hand. “[P]rior to the neoliberal decades,” write Dumenil and Levy, “the overall balance of financial relations always worked to the advantage of nonfinancial corporations. This benefit disappeared during the 1980s and 90s.” (p.12) For years the United States was able to get away with protecting itself from the economic imperialism that it was forcing, invisible hand over fist, down the throats of the third world. But starting in the 1980s and 90s, the neoliberal chickens have been coming home to roost in the United States. The energy crisis and Enron scandal in California in 2000 were only some of the most famous disasters provoked by the privatization and deregulation that for years has been recommended to ‘developing’ countries all over the world.

What is the trajectory of a neoliberal global economy? As more and more industrial capitalists capitulate to financial conquistadors, as more and more industrialized countries begin to follow the United States in internalizing neoliberal economic policies (as Japan and the EU are now doing), more and more of us are starting to ask, where is this headed? “[T]he dynamics of capitalist production and finance,” writes Martin Wolfson, “would lead to a latticeworks of credit relations, which would become more fragile the more it was extended in a growth period.” (p.5) Here’s the story: Technocrats in business schools, realizing that rapid growth can be achieved by overextension, that is, by spending beyond means, have encouraged states, firms and consumers to do exactly that. The deregulation of finance capital allows states, businesses and banks to expand at full speed through almost unlimited credit. Theoretically, this quickly creates value and jobs and increases trade and earnings, leading to growth. But on what foundation is this growth built? “[T]he availability of financing boosts demand,” Wolfson continues, “but carries a cost: the economy becomes more financially fragile as financial commitments rise relative to income flows.” (p.6) While the economy is able to produce and consume more than ever thanks to bank credit, an increasing amount of the total income in the economy is literally built on debt. And as we have seen, the higher it goes, the shakier it gets.
Enron in 2000 and Bear Stearns in 2008 were only two symptoms that frame a picture of the looming systemic economic crisis that now clutches the US economy. The results of neoliberal privatization and deregulation have been observed and documented in dozens of countries all over the world, and they all spell massive crisis. The US, the EU and Japan should expect nothing different.

So what is going on here? By many indications the global economy is being lead towards a suicidal tailspin; a flight of Icarus where the wings are woven with debt and growth leads inevitably towards the sun. To what end? “[T]here is no reason to think,” Motyl writes, “that decline and empire are mutually exclusive; indeed, the former may be a precondition of the latter.” (p.161) But if the new banker order is symptomatic of imperial decline, why are imperialists continuing with the same practices that will exacerbate and hasten the fall of empire? As the Italians say, cui bono?19 I believe the answer is fairly simple. Financial conquistadors have for decades observed the crises brought about by neoliberal economic policies and have profited handsomely from them. Over time, they have learned to wield crisis as a mechanism of control. In the panic of a crisis, none are more poised to take over than those who created it. Motyl reminds us in a different place that “elites crafty enough to construct such a culture must be deemed crafty enough to deconstruct it.” (p.143) The current credit crunch in the United States and the many recessions to come throughout the ‘developed’ world are simply the work of roosting financial conquistadors who have turned their talons on the metropolis. We should know what to expect.

Control through crisis in the economic sphere was pioneered in the United States. In 1913, when the Federal Reserve Act was signed and the central bank became law, Congressman Charles A. Lindbergh Senior remarked that, “[f]rom now on, depressions will be scientifically created.” Since then, the central bank model has become the backbone of the capitalist world economy. These banks, through manipulation of currency (inflation rates) and credit (interest rates) have been controlling us through crisis for decades. “Financial crises seem now to happen with almost monotonous regularity,” noted The Economist in its July 12th issue in 1999. If we are confused by the smoke and mirrors of econometric calculus, if we are bewildered by the thousand independent causes for crisis that we hear on the radio, we need only follow the power. As James A. Garfield wrote, “when you realize that the entire system is very easily controlled, one way or another, by a few powerful men at the top, you will not need to be told how periods of inflation and depression originate.” Despite the most intricate complexities of high finance, the basic structures of domination have remained much the same over the centuries. What’s new is the methodology.

In the new banker order, power relations are financialized; overt methods of physical control are replaced with covert mechanisms of manipulation. “Money,” wrote Leo Tolstoy, “is a new form of slavery, and distinguished from the old simply by the fact that it is impersonal, there is no human relation between master and slave.” In capitalist empires, there are no slave drivers or serfs as there were in earlier periods of civilization. Power is exercised and domination is imposed not through physical coercion, but through a coordinated system of exchange. Thus, while it has proven to be no less brutal or disastrous, financialized empire is much more difficult to resist than the empires of old. There is no king’s head to cut off; power seems so decentralized and diffuse. While searching for a place to lay blame, we find ourselves identifying with one of Steinbeck’s characters in The Grapes of Wrath, who said, astride a bulldozer, “maybe there’s nobody to shoot.” Steinbeck’s character went on to demolish the home of one of his acquaintances, accepting his vicious role in a system in return for a wage to feed his family.20

Will we, astride whatever kind of bulldozer the system has us on, follow his lead? This is the vice grip that imperial finance has us in. Alexander Berkman, in a letter from prison to Emma Goldman, recognized this state of affairs some time ago: “In an absolutism the autocrat is visible and tangible,” he wrote --

The real despotism of republican institutions is far deeper, more insidious, because it rests on the popular delusion of self-government and independence. That is the source of democratic tyranny, and as such it cannot be reached with a bullet. In modern capitalism, economic exploitation rather than political oppression is the real enemy of the people. Politics is but its handmaid. Hence the battle is to be waged in the economic rather than the political field.21

This is more or less the conclusion to which our analysis has lead us. New strategies of resistance are required to confront a new kind of global control. However, while I have emphasized that the new imperium of dependency is relatively decentralized, faceless and diffuse, I hope it has also been made clear that there is no shortage of places to point fingers. While today’s tyranny is systemic, and as such cannot be reached with a single bullet, the goal of this analysis has been to reveal that banks and bankers have situated themselves at or near the zenith of economic hegemony. In a world measured in money, bankers are in the most privileged position of all. They not only make all the measurements but they control the increments. No matter who wins the money goes back to them. Bankers have not only steered the helm of war machines and institutionalized the plutocracy of war-makers, they have done so with a record of total impunity. “And let us not forget the bankers,” wrote Former US Marine Smedley Butler, in his impassioned expose War is a Racket,

... If anyone had the cream of the profits it was the bankers. Being partnerships rather than incorporated organizations, they do not have to report to stockholders. And their profits were as secret as they were immense. How the bankers made their millions and their billions I do not know, because those little secrets never become public -- even before a Senate Investigatory body.

The United States, as comprised of both its institutions and its citizenry, is at the crashing crest of the age of financial imperialism. Financial conquistadors in the United States have taken control of not only the US economy but of dozens of foreign countries through a vicious system of crisis management. And yet there is an appalling lack of attention to their activities. There is hardly even any outrage, let alone organized resistance. “Most Americans have no real understanding of the operation of the international money lenders,” wrote Senator Barry Goldwater (R.AZ): “The accounts of the Federal Reserve System have never been audited. It operates outside the control of Congress and manipulates the credit of the United States.” How can this be the case? How has such incredible power been surrendered without massive popular resistance? Why have financial coups (which have usurped the power of governments over currency and credit all over the world) been neglected in almost all historical accounts and analyses? The answer, I believe, spoke from the mouth of power, as far back as 1863, when the Rothschild Brothers of London remarked contentedly that “[t]he few who understand the system, will be either so interested from its profits or so dependent on its favors, that there will be no opposition...”

Over a century later, the words of the Rothschilds echo as a formidable challenge to any who would resist the systematized hegemony of the new banker order. In these final pages, I would like to take up this challenge. Without a doubt, financial conquistadors have woven together one of the most sophisticated and insidious systems of imperial exploitation that the world has ever seen. However, while we must face the perils of systemic indebtedness and economic attrition, on average people are no longer threatened quite as much by the more physically coercive methods of traditional imperial domination. In other words, the global transition of imperial rule (from control through colonization to control through finance), has created vulnerabilities -- weak links and blind spots where resistance can plant roots and begin to widen the cracks in the roads of empire.

Nothing in this story has been inevitable. It is no mere accident that we find ourselves in the world we live in today. Almost every political and economic development in history has come about as a result of some kind of deliberate strategy. Conspiracy has laid the bricks while complicity and complacency have mixed the cement. And we are fools if we think there will be anything accidental or coincidental about the upheaval of this order. We must begin, individually and collectively, to strategize and conspire towards the dissolution of the dependency that binds us to the imperial system. If we don’t have a long-term vision of the society and economic system that we desire, and a serious strategy for how to get there, we have every guarantee that our children and grandchildren will be enslaved by even more powerful tyrants than those we face today.


Reclaiming Credit and Currency: Building an Economics of Resistance in the 21st Century

“I got to figure. We all got to figure. There’s some way to stop this. It’s not like lightning or earthquakes. We’ve got a bad thing made by men, and by God that’s something we can change.” -John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

“If you want to continue to be slaves of the banks and pay the cost of your own slavery, then let bankers continue to create money and control credit.” -Sir Josiah Stamp

“I must create a system or be enslaved by another man’s.” -William Blake

The first step in any visionary or strategic resistance is a clear and unclouded understanding of the enemy. In this we have already come a considerable way. We know that our oppression is systemic, and thus that any single action or campaign against a specific institution or individual is very unlikely to have much of a long term effect. But we also know that there are no forests without trees; that the system could not exist without operators and technicians. We have seen that in a relatively decentralized and diffuse system, a considerable amount of power and control has been concentrated in banking institutions and the individuals that head them. So we know that our oppression is both systemic and specific. There is no contradiction or paradox in this knowledge; perhaps it only reaffirms what we have already known intuitively: That resistance must advance on all fronts simultaneously, but that special attention should be payed to the economic factors (specifically banking) that perpetuate the unequal distribution of power and resources.

To set an old and boring debate to rest, the economic is not wholly determinant but it is nevertheless central. To make the economic a fetish of our resistance is to invite a hundred other sources of alienation, oppression and imperialism to flourish in our blind spots. But to neglect an economics of resistance is to build a movement with no material foundation. Such movements still can, have been, and will be powerful and inspiring, but they have also proven to be especially vulnerable to the three fundamental weapons of imperialism; assimilation, dispossession and extermination. Building an economics of resistance alone cannot ensure a sustainable, just and dignified liberation for all oppressed peoples, but without an economics of resistance, this liberation will lack cohesion and be difficult to defend.

It will not be enough to burn the banks and redistribute the wealth of the bankers -- we must think in the long term. An economics of resistance needs to not only create a new economic reality on the ground, but to take control of the mechanisms that allowed banker supremacy to arise in the first place. As Josiah Stamp wrote, “[b]ankers own the Earth. Take it away from them, but leave them the power to create money, and with the flick of a pen they will create enough money to buy it back again”. The viability of any resistance is measured not only in the alternative reality it is able to create, but in its ability to prevent the reemergence of oppressive systems and structures. To this end, social movements everywhere need an economics of resistance that can effectively control the two central axes of all modern economic systems: currency and credit.

The failure of social movements to challenge the monopoly of central banks over currency and credit has been deadly to the project of long term liberation. While this subject deserves much further research and analysis, history already provides many examples of this sadly recurring phenomenon. One such example can be found in the ultimate defeat of one of the most successful movements of economic resistance in the twentieth century, which occurred in Spain in the late 1930s.22

In the very complex and understudied period of history which is generally known as the Spanish civil war, the Spanish people briefly operated one of the largest and most successful economic systems of resistance in history. Millions of industrial and rural workers participated for months and years in economies composed of self-managed worker collectives, autonomous from any central state or financial power. Worker collectives replaced the Spanish state’s currency with ‘production’ and ‘provision’ cards that they issued to families and individuals. They also created small banks to manage their economic surplus. In the control of the collectives, these banks were used both to invest in autonomous production processes and as a source of resources in hard times. In economies operating with this system of finance, production increased even as average work time decreased. Public services such as school and hospitals in these regions also improved. These increased standards of living were impossible to ignore. In one of the surest signs of a movement’s success, the majority of doctors supported the National Workers Confederation (the CNT), the most radical group in Spain at the time.

But by the end of the decade, little remained of what had been. How was one of the most successful revolutionary economic systems in modern history destroyed? Many of the answers can be found in the insufficient challenge that the Spanish revolutionaries posed to the monopoly of the ruling classes over the control of currency and credit. Both at the inception and throughout the war, revolutionaries for the most part focused their attacks on government, military and police infrastructure. Concentrating almost entirely on this strategic front, they fatally left economic infrastructure -- gold reserves, banks and international trade centers -- in the hands of ruling and would-be ruling classes. “The anarchists didn’t have any plan to take control of the banks,” writes Adrian Ortega, “and they didn’t do it, which meant condemning those collectives dependent on bank credits to their ultimate disappearance.” For the remainder of the revolution, the counter-revolutionary classes used financial manipulation to strangle the economy of worker collectives. The fascist state-banking apparatus repressed collectives by freezing assets, denying credit and preventing imports, which forced revolutionaries to cooperate and concede power to enemies. Legal means were also used to bring the self-managed worker collectives under economic control. Ruling classes lost no time in this; in 1936, the first year of the war, the state passed the “Decree on Collectivization and Workers’ Control”: One stipulation of this decree was that collectives were legally obligated to relinquish 50% of their surplus to the Industrial and Commercial Bank of Catalonia. Though collectives usually refused to pay, this gave the state an excuse to occupy non-militant regions of economic resistance.

Meanwhile, the management of the autonomous economy that functioned in the revolutionary regions was not taken as seriously as it might have been. Because many revolutionaries were opposed on ideological grounds to money as an economic construct, strict record keeping and accounting in most autonomous economies was neglected and even resisted. This allowed corruption to thrive and prevented the coordinated evolution and progress of the revolutionary currency and credit systems. So while the ruling classes combined the violent means of state power with financial attrition to attack the revolutionary economy, the currency and credit systems in autonomous regions, already under pressure from the outside, eroded from within as well.

History abounds with economic systems of resistance that have flourished and failed. I chose to tell the story of Spain because there the systems of currency and credit stand out with particular relief as powerful social determinants in the revolutionary struggle. There are many lessons to learn from the successes and failures of the Spanish revolutionaries. First of all, we learn that a widespread economy of resistance is not only possible, but that it has existed very recently. Millions of Spaniards quickly saw their lives improve and their economy grow when composed of autonomous self-managed worker collectives. But the sad lesson of Spain is that even the most productive, healthy, beautiful and educated revolutionary society can and will be crushed if it doesn’t take careful account of all of its external and internal economic vulnerabilities.

Chiefly, the economic lessons we learn from the Spanish civil war are two: Firstly, that financial institutions left in the hands of an oppressor can be just as deadly to a revolutionary movement as armies and police. The failure of the Spanish revolutionaries to target the banks and seize the gold reserves had severe consequences. Secondly, that the creation and effective management of alternative credit and currency systems must be understood as essential elements of revolutionary struggle. When neglected or underestimated they expose and exacerbate economic vulnerabilities that can be exploited and used to undermine the larger movement, which is not only economic.

Combining these two lessons, we arrive at what Eqbal Ahmad called “the fundamental characteristic of revolutionary warfare: to be successful, the revolutionary movement must outadminister the enemy before it starts to outfight it.”23 The goal of this text then, is to call for the outadministration of the new banker order. To break the chains of dependency and stand up to financial conquistadors all over the world, social movements need alternative institutions that can provide them with credit and currency. Countries and communities that struggle for political emancipation but are not autonomous from the hegemonic economic systems will be vulnerable to containment, co-optation, fragmentation and eventual dispossession.

The movement of economic outadministration, like all of the most important struggles, has been underway since time immemorial. Alternative currencies and institutions of credit are the subjects of many books, blogs, films, web sites and conferences. The struggle has been international for a long time and I could not possibly review the entirety of this diverse movement here. Alternative currencies have posed radical challenges to the prevailing economic order all over the world, and as such have been the target of financial, legal and police attack.24 However, the movement is not homogenous in this regard. Less radical alternative currencies and credit institutions have been and are tolerated by the financial order when they are not seen as threatening. Complementary currency schemes that serve mostly as novelties for the already wealthy (such as Ithaca HOURS in New York and Berkshares in Massachusetts) are sanctioned and overseen by state-finance institutions (such as the IRS).25 The recent popularization of microcredit has sparked the establishment of new banking institutions of that have proven less than radical.26

Thus, the movement of economic outadministration is divided between those groups and individuals who see their work as part of a larger struggle of resistance, and those that, simply, don’t; who are just out to make a buck or a souvenir or a novelty niche market for surplus capital. This split is epitomized by the argument between ‘alternative’ and ‘complementary’ economic systems. The ideological divide couldn’t be greater. The question we must ask the advocates of ‘complementary’ systems is, what does it mean to be complementary to imperialism?

We have learned the symbiotic history of banking and empire and we have watched credit and currency pave the way to banker supremacy. We have read with churning stomachs and clenched fists the horror stories of subjugated life in the imperium of dependency. Here we have discovered financial conquistadors wreaking catastrophe and economic despair on already devastated societies for profit and power. We have seen the grotesque logic of control through crisis in the new banker order, and hopefully we understand that the demise of this system is not inevitable. Hopefully, we are ready to resist, and hopefully we know a little better where to begin. If so, only one thing remains to be said.

Whenever investigating or resisting an enemy, it is poor strategy to obsess over one aspect of that enemy and forget the importance of the rest. Banks are not the only places that the roads of empire lead, and more than money and blood have worn them smooth. In plotting a course of resistance through this new banker order it is important that we understand this. Bankers do not control everything, and money is not the only essence of empire. Mine is not the place to tell you where or what to resist, but in confronting imperialism, we will fall short if we forget that the struggle against empire must also be the struggle against racism, against patriarchy, against homophobia, against militarism, and against all the forms of alienation that give a foothold to our tolerance for conquest and a handhold to our indifference to suffering. We must not let the beast climb any higher.



NOTES:
1. Such alliances were by no means secret, nor were their intentions. In the first volume of Capital, Marx quotes Charles Phillips of the Delaware Trust, who wrote that “The banker, the merchant, the manufacturer and the agent of transportation must unite to create and maintain that reasonable distribution of opportunity, of advantage and of profit, which alone can forestall revolution.”

2. For the most part bankers have enjoyed a considerable continuity of power, but their hegemony has certainly not gone uncontested. Most frequently the challenge has come from rival capitalists, but has also rallied social movements. Benjamin Franklin wrote that “[t]he refusal of King George III to allow the colonies to operate an honest money system, which freed the ordinary man from the clutches of the money manipulators, was probably the prime cause of the revolution.”

3. Debray, Rapport, p.6,9

4. Hallward elaborates: “Haitians have thus had to pay their original oppressors three times over -- through the slaves’ initial labor, through compensation for the French loss of this labor, and then in interest on the payment of this compensation. No other single factor played so important a role in establishing Haiti as a systematically indebted country, the condition which in turn ‘justified’ a long and debilitating series of appropriations-by-gunboat.” (p.26)

5. "The UN is but a long-range, international banking apparatus clearly set up for financial and economic profit by a small group of powerful One-World revolutionaries, hungry for profit and power.” Curtis Dall, (FDR's son-in-law) from his book, My Exploited Father-in-Law

6. The history of the Federal Reserve Act and the concurrent financial manipulation that lead to the Great Depression is a much too large and detailed a story to get into here. It has been the subject of several books and films, but for the most part has been sadly and frighteningly forgotten from common historical knowledge. However, an understanding of the history of central banks, not only in the US but everywhere, will be essential in understanding the current and coming crises.

7. “Core elites rule, peripheral elites govern.” - Motyl, p.124. Lakhdar Brahimi, a UN envoy in Haiti in 1997 (and now working in Baghdad) recommended that the peripheral elite “should know two things: that political changes are inevitable, but that, on the ideological, economic front, they have the sympathy of Big Brother, capitalism.” (Hallward, p.30)

8. “...the intertwined terror and the exultation out of which Zionism was nourished...” -Edward Said, The Question of Palestine, p.60

9. Benny Morris tells one story, representative of hundreds of others, of what the settlement movement sponsored by Edmond Rothschild looked like on the ground: “In 1985 Baron Rothschild’s chief officer in the Galilee bought 12,800 dunams [roughly 3,163 acres] from a Lebanese Christian from Sidon. The land, around Metulla, was inhabited and cultivated by over 600 Druze tenant farmers. They were paid a paltry compensation and, in the spring of 1896, driven off the land.” (p.55)

10. Moreover, we have no indication that Zionist imperialism will be content with expanding into what remains of the occupied territories. In its unabashed and consistently imperial foreign relations with its neighbors, Israel has made no secret of its desires to expand its sphere of influence, as the rhetoric usually goes, along religious lines, “from Morocco to Pakistan”.

11. Both the settlements and the wall have been declared illegal in numerous United Nations resolutions and condemned by virtually every international human rights organization.

12. The sophisticated tactics of this systemic atrocity are under the admiring scrutiny of all manner of imperialists all over the world. As Gilles Deleuze predicted, “Today Israel is conducting an experiment. It has invented a model of repression that, once adopted, will profit other countries.” Israeli military advisors have been employed most recently in US-occupied Iraq. See The Israeli Model Surges Toward Iraq, by Steve Niva, Counterpunch: http://counterpunch.com/niva04282008.html

13. Nakba is Arabic for catastrophe, and lamise is Creole for economic despair.

14. The financialization of empire has also changed the operative language of imperialism. The old rhetoric of civilization and the burdens of white men will no longer do. The flashy new alibi for imperialism is called development. Greedy paternalism eagerly exchanges its rusty mission civilisatrice for this fresh new moniker.

15. These and the following World Bank/IMF/WTO debt statistics on Haiti, unless otherwise noted, are from 50 Years Is Enough!

16. Haiti’s National Intelligence Service (SIN) has been described by journalist Dennis Bernstein as “created, trained, supervised and funded” by the CIA. (Goff, 2004)

17. from two dollars to four dollars per day

18. “An existing Palestinian Authority with an elected ‘government’ and ‘parliament’ disguises a reality of social and political fragmentation and total chaos within Palestinian society. Government control was lost to armed organizations (and the conflicts between them) and local gangs on the one hand and to international humanitarian organizations on the other, with the effective services and provisions bypassing the mechanisms and bureaucracy of the Palestinian Authority altogether.” -Weizman, (p.158)

19. “Who benefits?”

20. “Everyone’s got a mortgage to pay: the yuppie Nuremberg defense.” -from the movie Thanks for Smoking

21. Berkman was in prison for his attempted assassination of the infamous industrial capitalist Henry Clay Frick. The letter is partly reproduced in Living My Life by Emma Goldman, volume one, p.324

22. The following account draws largely from the unpublished work of a colleague: The Heritage of Spain, A Sociological Assessment of the Workers’ Revolutionary Movement in the Spanish Civil War, by Nicolas Boorman, 2007. The published texts referenced by this author from which I have drawn this analysis are the following: The Anarchist Collectives: Workers’ Self-Management in the Spanish Revolution, 1936-1939, by Sam Dolgoff, 1974, Anarchist Economics, by Abraham Guillen, 2000, Spain’s New Social Economy: Workers’ Self-Management in Catalonia, by Mark Holmstrom, 1993, and Trotskyism and Anarchism in the Spanish Civil War, from Worker’s Vanguard, by Adrian Ortega, 2004.

23. “[T]he objective is not simply to achieve the moral isolation of the enemy, but also to confirm, perpetuate and institutionalize it by providing an alternative to the discredited regime through the creation of parallel hierarchies... the major task of the movement, then, is not to outfight but to outlegitimize and outadminister.” -Eqbal Ahmad, Counterinsurgency, 1971

24. Three examples: Austria, 1932: during a depression, an alternative currency became so successful at generating economic activity that the central bank, fearing to lose its grip over the national currency, terminated it just over a year later. Thailand, 2000: a community currency in the small rural Northeastern sub-district of Kud Chum was declared a “threat to national security” by the Finance Ministry and active community leaders were dissappeared. Indiana, the United States, 2007: the offices of an alternative currency project called the Liberty Dollar, a currency backed by gold and silver, was raided by the FBI and all assets were frozen and confiscated.

25. These currencies function in valuable ways to localize money (and its multiplier effect), and as such are meaningful for the communities who can afford them in the short term. But these currencies are exchanged totally within the same economic system about which we’ve been reading -- they do not actively challenge systemic inequalities or historical injustice.

26. Such collaborative institutions, exemplified by the Nobel-prize winning Grameen bank, provide loans to populations that formerly had no access to credit, but still engage in usury and fractional reserve banking. As such, they often do more to bind the poorest people into the imperial finance system than they provide alternatives to debt and dependency.



References:

The Origins of Totalitarianism, by Hannah Arendt, 1973. Referenced chapter: The Political Emancipation of the Bourgeoisie

Revolutions, Nations, Empires by Alexander Motyl, 1999

The Nation-State and Violence: Volume 2 of a Contemporary Critique of Historical Materialism by Anthony Giddens, 1987 Referenced chapter: Capitalism and the State: From Absolutism to Nation-State

Taking Haiti: Military Occupation and the Culture of US Imperialism 1915-1940 by Mary A. Renda, 2001

Imperialism Without Colonies by Harry Magdoff, 2003

Hollow Land by Eyal Weizman, 2007

Two Regimes of Madness by Gilles Deleuze, 1975-1995 Referenced chapters: The Indians of Palestine and The Spoilers of Peace

Righteous Victims by Benny Morris, 1999

Capital Volume 1, by Karl Marx. ~1875. Referenced chapters: The Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist and The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation, part two.

Marxist Theories of Imperialism by Anthoney Brewer, 1980

Finance Capital by Rudolf Hilferding, 1910

Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism by Vladimir Lenin, 1916

Tragedy and Hope by Carrol Quigley, 1966

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, 1939

The Selected Writings of Eqbal Ahmad, edited by Carolee Bengelsdorf, Margaret Cerullo and Yogesh Chandrani, 2006

The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, The Truth About Corporate Cons, Globalization, and High-Finance Fraudsters, by Greg Palast, 2002

Panic Rules, Everything You Need to Know About the Global Economy, by Robin Hahnel, 1999

Against Empire, by Michael Parenti, 1995

War Making and State Making as Organized Crime, by Charles Tilly, 1985

Option Zero in Haiti, by Peter Hallward, from New Left Review, May/June 2004

Haiti and Venezuela, Coup and Empire, by Stan Goff, from From the Wilderness, March 2004

The Political Economy of Israeli Occupation, by Leila Farsakh, 2006

The Real and Financial Components of Profitability, by Gerard Dumenil and Dominique Levy, 2005

Methodology and Radical Political Economics, by Martin H. Wolfson, 2007

50 Years is Enough! available at www.50years.org

2 comments:

Ojalanpoika said...

Could you kindly comment, whether my details are correct in a dissident essay in
http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Expelled-Jews-statistics.htm ?

E.g. "...Tel Aviv - The Silicon Wadi?
Tel Aviv (literally: Dumb-Hill of Spring) was plain desert at the beginning of the 20th century. Today, in the advent of her 100th year celebrations in 2009, it is the Silicon Wadi (Valley) of the Mediterranean since 1990's.

It is United States that profits from Israel, rather than the opposite. Israel gets nearly 3 billion USD from USA annually, but open brain drain is its prerequisite. Astonishing number of 25% of the Israeli researchers have moved to the United States - and this figure does not yet include the people with double citizenship. The next largest drain of researchers are 12.2% from Canada, 4.3% from Netherlands, and 4.2% from Italy.

Before the Second Intifada, there were nearly 200 Israeli companies listed in the Nasdaq, at the Intifada the count dropped to 70. (The number is still greater than from all the European countries combined). It is said that the dollars are green since the Americans pull them down from the tree raw and fresh. The start-ups are imported straight from the garage, and scaling up of production in the "conflict hotspot" has been considered impossible. But the new Millennium has brought a change in tide.

In Israel, 20% of citizens possess a higher decree from the university. Over half of the export from Israel are High tech products (32 $ billion in 2007), compared to the 25% average of the OECD countries. Israel's GDP is about $200 billion. She exhibits second highest output of new book per citizen and more patents per person than any other nation. Nobels, by definition, are awarded to the people who have made services to the whole world, and 21% of the prizes have gone to this population of less that 17 million, taking both Eretz Israel and galut (diaspora) into account.

The population of Arabs under the Israeli government increased ten-fold in only 57 years. Palestinian life expectancy increased from 48 to 72 years in 1967-95. The death rate decreased by over 2/3 in 1970-90 and the Israeli medical campaigns decreased the child death rate from a level of 60 per 1000 in 1968 to 15 per 1000 in 2000 at the Westbank. (An analogous figure was 64 in Iraq, 40 in Egypt, 23 in Jordan, and 22 in Syria in 2000). During 1967-88 the amount of comprehensive schoold and second level polytechnic institutes for the Arabs was increased by 35%. During 1970-86 the proportion of Palestinian women at the West Bank and Gaza not having gone to school decreased from 67 % to 32 %. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita in West Bank and Gaza increased in 1968-1991 from 165 US dollars to 1715 dollars (compare with 1630$ in Turkey, 1440$ in Tunis, 1050$ in Jordan, 800$ in Syria, 600$ in Egypt. and 400$ in Yemen).

Also, the biggest generic drug factory in the world was recently established in Israel. Generating US$7 billion in annual revenues, Israel's Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (TEVA) is the world's largest generic pharmaceutical company. That is: to cure people with less money. TEVA makes generic versions of brand-name antibiotics, heart drugs, heartburn medications, and more - in all close to 200 global generic products, 700 compounds, and more than 2800 dosage forms and formulations. TEVA's pharmaceuticals are used in some 20% of U.S. generic drug prescriptions. Examples of TEVA's generics include lower-cost equivalents of such blockbusters as anti-depressant Prozac and cholesterol drug Mevacor. Nevertheless, in biotechnology and original drug development, about 400 experimental Israeli drugs have been approved or accepted in clinical phases.

As an example, the supranational Intel transferred the mass production of Centricon-processors to Israel, where ~20% of citizens possess university decrees (ranking 3rd in the world) but where the environment respects patents and are not plagiating every item they produce to others like the rocketting China.Intel was also offered an overall tax rate of 10%, which is about three times lower than that of US.

How has the United Nations reacted to such an impact especially in the field of medicine and health care? One-fourth of the judgements of the Human Rights Commission strike Israel.

There is a pious smoke screen on the industrial countries mediating peace to the Middle East. A collaboration between the Jews with their technology and science and Arabs with their oil and loyality has been a great nightmare for the Western countries. The intimate friendship between the cousin "races", as officially declared by Chaim Weizmann and Emir Feisal in Versailles peace conference, was deliberately mutilated. The Second Intifada could be called The Oslo War.

Aviv is Hebrew for "spring", symbolizing renewal, and tel is an archaeological site that reveals layers of civilization built one over the other. The Jewish population has been such a layer of native culture not only in the Palestine, and the expulsion of the native Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews from various Muslim countries since 1948 has been al nakba, catastrophe, for these societies..."

Pauli Ojala, evolutionary critic
Biochemist, drop-out (MSci-Master of Sciing)

terribenn said...

Hey Q. I would love to recommend 2 books to you, that I think you would really like. One is (you've probably read it) but "A Brief History of Neoliberalism" by David Harvey, and the other is Damming the Flood, which I forget who it is by but is a great, really readable history of Haiti. I really enjoyed reading this.