Imperialism Today (2000) Ruthless Criticism

Theses on Imperialism Today (2000)

[Translated text of Freerk Husiken]

1. Imperialism perfected

Imperialism today determines the economics and politics of every state in the world. The Soviet Union with its – not completely voluntary – renunciation of “real socialism” paved the way for the complete capitalistic world conquest by the capitalistic world powers (in the G7). The “victory of freedom” complete, the capitalistic world revolution has become reality. After their victory in the “Cold War,” the capitalistic great powers maintain their military alliance, NATO, and derive from it the right to exercise supervision and control over the entire world of states under the leadership of the USA. And they observe this right: no state in the world can extract itself today unpunished from the arithmetic of the capitalistic mode of production and the political requirements of the NATO powers. Any area of the world where they discover “conflicts,” i.e. a deviation from their imperial design, is set on the political agenda of the NATO powers. The rights of peoples and human rights are the slogans under which they admonish an order conforming to western standards. States that oppose them or only arouse the suspicion that they want to pursue their own national state interests in their regions bring on this or that kind of “sanity.”

2. An exemplary imperialistic war

NATO's war against the remnants of Yugoslavia confirms the new boundlessness of imperialism. With Milosevic, whose “mistake” for the Western powers consisted of militarily resisting the west's dismantling of the regional power Yugoslavia, a “trouble maker” in the Balkans is eliminated. By completely superior warfare, an exemplary punitive military action clarifies to the states of the world that NATO does not deliver empty threats. The completion of the partial surrender of Milosevic emphasizes NATO’s new principles of order: first, neither Russia nor China are any longer accepted as rightful co-designers of the world order; second, the political truth about the meaning of the UN becomes obvious: the “United Nations” is relevant only in as much as the demands of the alliance – particularly those of the USA – give their blessing; third, an independent regional administrative policy by any state is immediately assessed as an attack on “euro-atlantic stability” and is a case for the NATO powers (India/Pakistan, China/Taiwan, Russia’s Chechnya war, Iraq ...).

3. A more passive imperialism

In addition, voluntary subjection under the imperialistic goals of the world power brings the rest of the state world neither security nor the hoped-for state wealth, but only progressive ruin. It turns out that, in the meantime, not only has the world market – determined only by the fiercest competition between the victors – not waited for the economies of those states that are “converting to democracy and the free-market economy,” but flatly rejects their offer. Entire states (eastern central Europe, former Soviet states, among others) are liquidated: functioning production facilities and useful products of all kinds in competition with western commodity capital get stamped “not suited for the world market” and are scrapped; and in the depreciation of their national currency, these states find out that their national money notes are nowadays only as good as they assert themselves abroad, even domestically. And precisely those citizens who were “freed from the yoke of communism” may experience how state-administered communist poverty differs from capitalistic misery, which is completely given over to the “creativity and self-reliance” of liberated private individuals.

4. The alliance of competing great powers

The order of the world produced by agreements between the great powers not only creates in each region of the world its own – recognizable – “conflict areas,” since NATO with the probe of its elevated requirements discovers “disturbances of the peace” everywhere and with each “intervention” stirs up new “instabilities”; it is itself organized as a competition of the victorious powers. Imperialism today exists as a double contradiction, namely as an alliance of supervisory powers that confront each other on the world market as competitors. As a military alliance, they pursue together the security of a world of sovereigns who have to submit to their designs. As competing capitalistic powers, they line up against each other in order to use this “one world” to increase their respective national vested rights. The contradiction expresses itself in a well-known way: together they carry out “wars for order” and in parallel wage commercial wars against each other. The necessary existence of political-economic supervisory bodies (IMF, World Bank, WTO...) on the one hand confirms and on the other hand denies to the G7 states their mutual national use calculations. Occasionally the alliance puts itself up for re-negotiation, possibly if the USA introduces Star Wars or Europe takes from the Kosovo war the resolution to establish a great military power; although on the other hand it is known to the Euro-fatherlands that its special imperialistic concerns (extension to the East, access to South America and establishment of the euro over it) require the continuing shield of NATO military power.

5. The world market is a currency competition

Under this protection, thus already during the “Cold War,” Europe ascended to the second economic power. The national currencies of the European states – all behind the German mark – attained worldwide validity: they emerged as winners from the state-appointed setting free of the worldwide comparison of state moneys, after the dollar and the yen. The European Union, however, does not leave it there, but decides to seriously challenge the world money dominance of the dollar – by the way, also under the far-reaching protection of NATO. The competition between the euro and the dollar – the yen also still plays a role, with some reduction – today summarizes the whole world market (“globalization”). This special character of “imperialism today” consists in this: the world market is completely determined by the competition between two or three currencies.

What began with the introduction of the free convertibility of their national moneys, thus with the final liberation of capitalistic business from the restriction of being bound to real capitalistic money wealth (gold as a national treasury) just 30 years after it began, can now be seen in its provisional result: the evaluation of the respective national moneys – success is brought about by the respective capitalistic companies holding it as a relative currency value, which on its part is the result of the transactions of the money capitalists of all countries – leads in the meantime to the establishment of only two to three currencies as world moneys. That means, whoever wants to achieve business success today must earn dollars and euros, must dispose over these currencies as a means of purchase, get out of other currencies, convert them into the world moneys, speculate with them, lend them and borrow them, deposit them as reserves, etc. And the national states that create these state bank notes and “throw” them into circulation have made them into a special “goldmine”: their slips of paper count world-wide as true capitalistic wealth, almost like gold, and they are quickly rid of their state bonds, with which they create additional financial means for themselves – all this of course only so long as they stand up in the currency comparison. By means of the national debt and the issuing of – ultimately worthless – state bank notes, they dispose as the sovereign power over capitalistic (money) wealth to an unrestricted level. What they initiate with it – from science to commerce to the defense department – they leave to the sentries of the national budget.

6. Crisis

The victory of the two currency blocks (euro/dollar) is accompanied by a “supply” of any and all business branch still in operation and/or for the business from the IMF-credited national economies with too much credit (-money) – and this is not at all coincidental. This is because currency competition is now a test of the intrinsic value of the national value symbols. And that is inherent in it. Those currencies in which the most business takes place pass this test. However, this succeeds only if these debt notes already roam the world in huge quantities as credit, thus circulate as claims to future business. That is simply the contradiction of the currency competition. Yet in order to pass the test of the validity of their currency’s value, states must act in their monetary policy as if they had already passed it. If they keep their money at home, it never rises to world money. It always turns out only post-festum which money possesses the form of world money, thus has been actually suited for the increase of capitalistic wealth.

In the meantime, a substantial worldwide mountain of credit accumulates that becomes altogether critical. It is an open question as to what extent these credits will obtain real business, which money faces depreciation and what consequences the depreciation of a currency has for the corporations, financial capitals and the capitalistic nation states involved. What is no longer in question: the state moneys of the loser states are depreciated up to the level of national bankruptcy (the late developing countries, Russia, Central and South America). What this means for countries and – especially – people can be seen everywhere. But not only the loser currencies are depreciated. In addition, the claims on the actual winner economies, which are embodied in the victorious currency debts, are likewise largely unrecoverable. This shows up in business crawling to a halt worldwide, in company breakdowns and mergers, i.e. in general over-accumulation, thus in there being more means of business available on the world market than business opportunities exhibited. However, this also shows up in more and more money capitalists carrying these means of business to the speculative departments of finance capital, there contributing new – derivatives – money increasing possibilities, earning or losing on these. And this shows up not least in that even a winner currency like the euro has lost in one year approximately a fifth of its value in relation to the dollar, which robbed some of the euro states of their freedom of indebtedness (“stability policy”). It is thus also obvious that in view of the shrinking business opportunities of the money capitalists of the world, attachment to the dollar at present counts as the comparatively “safe harbor” for their interest in increasing money.

7. Handling the crisis

Where even the world money is in crisis, a “united” debt management between the imperialistic competitors is announced, as due as the aggravation of their competition. Because both currency blocks are connected, for better or for worse, in mutual credit dependence, they also know that shifting the crisis burdens onto their competitors initiates the depreciation of their own currency and the destruction of parts of the wealth of their own national economy. This is why they make efforts to agree on depreciation, thus the “united” handling of developing countries, debt forgiveness, debt issuing, etc. At the same time, their nationalism and/or – in the case of Europe – their supra-nationalism demands they undertake substantial efforts in order to decide the real business against each other further in their own favor and to the disadvantage of their competitors. Because even if they are clueless agents of competition, the leaders of the capitalistic nation states already know that every upswing of industry or business in their national economy also positively affects their situation on the financial markets and with it the value of their currency. A large part of these efforts, whose restless subject is the respective nation state, today has the name –

8. “Location competition”

The nation state uses its power purposefully, consistently and completely unimpaired domestically. To finance capital, to which the relative evaluation of the currencies has been handed over, it is a matter of offering proofs that it is worthwhile to set again on the euro or the dollar. These proofs are evidenced by the efforts to set in motion national “growth,” i.e. not only to create better terms of trade for the already accumulating national capital, but to develop the location as a first-class address for those multinationals that have invested in the (location) competition. So today the leading capitalistic nation states line up against each other and offer to the large companies of the whole world special offers for a change of location: it is worthwhile for them to move – for example – to the German location because it gives them conditions that secure their advantages in the (price) competition against their peers on the world market.

It is therefore not astonishing that these special offers – tax exemptions, generosity with licensing procedures, reexamination of environmental protection laws, loan promises and privatizations, etc. – sum up a general attack on the standard of living and livelihoods of the wage dependent masses: absolutely and relatively lower labor costs, lowering of ancillary employee costs, new flexible work time models, additional work regularly connected with less paid work, new layoff rules, the reintroduction of formerly abolished wage brackets, the introduction of a completely new low wage sector – to name only the most important special offers. All these attacks on the wage are connected to the intention of bringing about the nice capitalistic consequence of raising the profitability of wage labor.

All this and a lot more requires a veritable state power for its implementation because it must change laws and their changes must be implemented; and indeed without those “affected” and their organizations making trouble for the state in its modern imperialistic calculations. In this connection, everything – unfortunately – runs like clockwork.

And the additional attacks on the livelihoods of the wage working class, which the state is dedicated to as its “savings policy,” brings honor to the no longer only ideal total capitalist: because what takes place with the state savings program as a “reorganization of the welfare state,” what leads in any of the social insurances along with public assistance to higher burdens with lowered benefits, involves the duty to privately ensure the usual maintenance out of net wages further reduced by taxes. Moreover, all this increases the susceptibility to extortion of the workers to have to accept any work at any wage. And the decision of the welfare state to get rid of expenses for an increasingly larger number of absolutely superfluous wage workers – victims of firm collapses, victims of firm mergers and victims of firm upswings (rationalization) – further allows capital to make the most of the competition within the working class to reduce wages. So today the livelihoods of the wage-dependent part of humankind are called into question by the state itself and solely for its favorite citizens' concern with increasing money. The welfare state is also today – like in the past – only a safeguarding of capital-useful poverty. Only today it is spelled somewhat differently under Clinton, Schroeder, Blair and Jospin – now the “challenge called globalization” must be successfully met. So the state stops at no “social vested right” of the past: it needs “growth” on its location. The frontal attack on the wages of all wage earners has been chosen as the means to promote it. This should convince the agents of the financial markets that it is worthwhile to increase holdings in one currency and to flee another. The wealth of the state and capital hangs on it and in this its imperialistic power.

Who the winners are will be shown. Who the losers are in the “north and the south” is certain – the usual ones since the times of Victorian capitalism. As capitalism develops, this applies whether one expects it or not.