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Reversing Five Decades of Working-Class Power

Introduction: Whatever has been written about President Emmanuel Macron by the yellow or the respectable press has been mere trivia or total falsehood. Media lies have a purpose that goes beyond Macron’s election. Throughout Europe and North America, bankers and manufacturers, NATO, militarists and EU oligarchs, media moguls and verbal assassins, academics and journalists, all characterized the election victory of Macron as a ‘defeat of fascism’ and the ‘triumph of the French people’.

Macron and ‘What People’?

First of all, Macron received only 46% of the actual vote. Over 54% of eligible French voters either abstained, spoiled their ballots or voted for Marine Le Pen, the nationalist populist. In other words, 26 million voters rejected or ignored Macron’s candidacy versus 20.6 million voters who endorsed him. This was despite an unremitting push for Macron from the entire French and European mass media, all of the major political parties and the vast majority of academics, journalists, publishers, undertakers and doormen.

In a word: Emmanuel Macron is a minority President, unpopular to most of the French electorate.

There are some very sound political and socio-economic reasons why Macron’s candidacy would be rejected by most of the French people, while receiving full support from the ruling class.

Secondly, there was a phony image of Macron as the ‘novice, untainted by old-line corrupt politics’. The financial and business press busily painted an image of the virgin Manny Macron bravely prepared to introduce ’sweeping reforms’ and rescue France – a sort of banker-Joan of Arc against the veteran ‘fascist’ Marine Le Pen and her ‘deplorable’ supporters.

The reality is that Macron has always been a highly experienced member of the most elite financial-political networks in France. He served as a senior executive in the notorious Rothschild banking conglomerate. In a few short years ‘Saint Manny’ had accumulated millions of euros in commissions from fixing corporate deals.

Macron’s financial colleagues encouraged him to accept the post of Economic Minister under the decrepit regime of President Francois Hollande. Banker Macron helped the ‘Socialist’ President Hollande shed any of his party’s pro-labor pretensions and embrace a radical anti-worker agenda. As Economic Minister Macron implemented a 40 billion euro tax cut for businesses and proposed far-right legislation designed to weaken workers collective bargaining rights.

The Hollande-Macron proposals faced massive opposition in the streets and parliament. With the government’s popular support falling to the single digits, the anti-labor legislation was withdrawn or diluted …temporarily. This experience inspired Macron to re-invent (or re-virginized) himself: >From hard-assed rightwing hack, he emerged the novice politico claiming to be ‘neither right nor left’.

The totally discredited ‘Socialist’ Hollande, following the example of France’s financial elite, supported presidential candidate Macron. Of course, whenever Macron spoke of representing ‘all France’, he meant ‘all’ bankers, manufacturers and rentier oligarchs – the entire capitalist sector.

In the first round of presidential voting, Macron’s candidacy divided the elites: Bankers were split between Macron and Fillon, while many social democrats, trade union officials and ‘identitarian’-single issue sectarians would end up voting Macron.

Macron won by default: Fillon, his far right bourgeois rival was snared in a political- swindle involving ‘family’ and his finicky supporters switched to Macron. The Socialists defected from their discredited Hollande to the ‘reconstructed choirboy’ Macron. Meanwhile, the ‘left’ had rediscovered ‘anti-fascism’: They opposed the national-populist Le Pen and slithered under the bankers’ backdoor to vote for Macron.

Almost one-third of French electorate abstained or showed their contempt by spoiling their ballots.

Throughout the election theatrics, the media breathlessly reported every frivolous ‘news’ item to polish the halo of their ‘novice’ Macron. They swooned over the ‘novelty’ of Macron’s teen age ‘love affair’ and subsequent marriage to his former schoolteacher. The media played-up the charmingly ‘amateurish’ nature of his campaign staff, which included upwardly mobile professionals, downwardly mobile social democrat politicos and ‘off the street’ volunteers. The mass media downplayed one critical aspect: Macro’s historic ties to the big bankers!

Behind the carefully crafted image of a ‘political outsider’, the steely eyed Macron was never influenced by the swooning media propaganda: He remained deeply committed to reversing fifty years of working class advances in France in favor of the financial class.

Macron’s Power Grab : En Marche to Defeat the Working Class

Immediately upon his election, Macron presented his first major piece of legislation: The ‘liberalization’ (reversal) of France’s progressive and socially protective labor laws.

President Macron promised to eliminate industry-wide labor-capital negotiations, in favor of factory-by-factory negotiations. Undermining industry-wide collective power means that each monopoly or conglomerate can dominate and isolate workers in their work place. Macron envisions a complete shift of power into the hands of capital in order to slash wages, increase work hours and reduce regulations on workplace safety and worker health. The proposed anti-labor laws represent a return of capitalist power to the golden age of the late 19th and early 20th centuries – precisely why the financial elite anointed Macron as ‘President of all France’.

Even more important, by destroying a unified, labor movement and the power of workers’ solidarity, Macron will be free to radically restructure the entire socio-economic system in favor of capital!

Concentrating all power and profits in the hands of the capitalist class, Macron’s legislative agenda will free him to fire over 150,000 public employees, drastically reduce public spending and investment and privatize critical public financial, energy and industrial sectors.

Macron will shift the balance of power further away from labor in order to increase profits, reduce middle and working class social, health and educational services and to decrease corporate taxes from 33.3% to 25%.

Macron plan will strengthen the role of the French financial elite within the European Union’s oligarchical structure and allow the bankers to impose harsh ‘austerity’ policies throughout Europe.

In the sphere of foreign and military affairs, Macron fervently supports NATO. His regime will back the aggressive US military policies toward Russia and the Middle East – especially the violent breakup of Syria.

President Macron’s reactionary, ‘liberalizing’ agenda will require his party and allies to gain a majority in next month’s parliamentary elections (June 2017). His strategy will consist of ‘diversity in appearance and hard, single-minded reactionary policies in content’.

The ‘diverse’ groups and individuals, allied with Macron, are largely composed of fragmented collections of opportunists and discredited politicos mainly in search of office. Under Macron, the parliament will include everything from old-line rightwing social democrats, as well as single-issue environment and gender opportunists, allied with conservatives looking for a chance to finally savage France’s labor laws.

(Reprinted from The James Petras Website by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Emmanuel Macron, France, Neoliberalism 

Introduction

Over the past two decades Washington has pursued the age-old imperial strategy of divide and conquer throughout the Middle East, Southwest Asia and East Africa. Unable to dominate and dictate national policy of the nation-states, Washington has worked to break-up central governments and sub-divide them into ethno-mini-states amenable as imperial rule.

Washington’s strategy of fragmentation and secession follows closely the “Greater Israel Plan” set forth by Israeli politico-military writer Oded Yinon in February 1982 and published by World Zionist Organization. Yinon and Israel’s pursuit of Middle East domination rested on fostering ethno-religious and regional divisions. Following the Yinon Plan, in the first instance, Tel Aviv signed accords with Jordan and Egypt, to break-up Arab regional alliances with Palestine. It then proceeded to fragment Palestine into warring mini-states between the West Bank and Gaza. Israel then sub-divided and occupied wide swatches of the West Bank through the imposition of the collaborator Abbas regime.

Israel’s divide and conquer strategy toward the Middle East depended on its influence over ‘Israel First’ officials in top positions of the US Defense, State and Treasury Departments and the power of the Zionist Power Configuration’s– the so-called “Israel Lobby” – control of Congress and Presidency in matters related to Israel.

The Israeli Mid-East strategy of fragmenting and weakening pro-Palestinian governments, has become the official US policy toward Arab countries.

Israel and US policymakers intervened in the Sudan and created a fake “Southern Sudan” statelet of warring warlords which decimated the region.

Somalia, Libya and Ethiopia were riven by regional wars financed and armed by the US with overt and covert Israeli operatives and advisers.

Israel’s policy to weaken fragment and destroy countries, differed from traditional colonial regimes which sought to conquer and exploit unified nation-states. Washington blindly followed the Israeli imperial ‘model’, undermining its past practice of economic exploitation of viable nation states.

Israeli First officials played a decisive role in launching the invasion of Iraq, fabricating the weapons of mass destruction ploy, and then sub-divided the country in three regions: Kurds in the North, Sunnis in the center and Shia in the South.

The regional fragmentation, however, led to the emergence of Sunni insurgents (ISIS) which threatened to establish an independent state. The Shia turned toward Iran, forcing the US, Israel and the Kurds to declare war against Sunni IS, but retained Sunni tribal clients.

The US joined Saudi Arabia in invading and bombing Yemen to subdivide the Zaid Shi’ a Houthi’s from the Sunni Salafist. The goal was to weaken Yemen to prevent popular revolt spreading to Saudi Arabia and to undermine alliances with Iran and support for Palestine.

The US invaded Afghanistan hoping to sub-divide and pit regional ethno-tribal groups against each other.

The Afghan’s Islamic guerrillas led by the Taliban unified by ethno-religious, national, tribal and extended family ties and customs, successfully resisted the divide and conquer strategies. They now control most of the countryside, influence the armed forces and have driven the US forces to rely on garrison airbases and mega bombs.

Washington and the NATO powers launched a surrogate war against Syria, seeking to divide and conquer an independent secular, pro-Palestinian, Russia ally.

NATO’s invading armies, however, are sub-divided into various factions with shifting allegiances and patrons, which run the gamut between the EU and the US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Syria, ISIS and Kurds, Israel and Lebanon (Hezbollah).

The US-EU efforts to conquer and dominate Syria, via surrogates, mercenaries and terrorists has failed largely because Syria’s alliance with Russia, Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah .

Syria has effectively been divided by competing imperial and regional powers, which has led to a possible major confrontation . The US-Kurdish-Turkey conflict is the most immediate danger of open warfare.

Among the myriad surrogate groups which Washington has relied upon to violently overthrow the Syrian government and to seize territory from ISIS ,the Pentagon strategists are relying on the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (YPG).

The US has escalated its military support for the YPG, promising heavy arms, and increased US ground and air support. The YPG has expanded its control of Syrian territory all along the Turkish border, creating a powerful direct tie with Turkish-Kurds and Iraqi-Kurds. The US supply of heavy weapons to the YPG will greatly expanded its capacity to fight Turkey for control of ‘Greater Kurdistan’.

Moreover, the US has publicly informed Turkey that its armed forces will provide a ‘shield’ to protect the YPG – and indirectly to the PKK.

Turkish President Erdogan is acutely aware that the YPG’s goal is to partition Southeastern Turkey and Northern Syria. US Defense Secretary James Mattis’ claim that ‘Washington is committed to protect its NATO ally (Turkey)’ is ambiguous at best and most likely a hollow promise. Washington is counting on the Kurds as a strategic ally against Damascus and ISIS .Only after accomplishing their goals in Syria might the Pentagon reverse sides and back Turkey against the Kurds.

The Israeli’s have long standing ties with the Iraqi Kurds as part of their divide and conquer strategy. Similarly, Tel Aviv is bombing Damascus, aiding ISIS in southern Syria and backing the YPG against Syria and Turkey.

The Erdogan regime is in a quandary: a victory of the Kurds and the occupation of territory on its border will threaten the ‘unity of the Turkish state’ Kurdish presence will result in enormous pressure on Erdogan from nationalist political parties and supporters and military officials. On the other hand, if Erdogan launches cross border attacks on the YPG it will directly face US ground and air power.

Erdogan is clearly aware that the US was involved with the ‘Gulanist’ silent permeation of the entire Turkish state which led to the 2016 abortive coup. Erdogan’s meeting with President Trump in mid-May may not resolve the impending Turkish-Kurdish and now US confrontation in Syria.

Washington promises Erdogan that the YPG, upon capturing the Syrian border, will hand it over to an amorphous, minuscule Arab-led militia, presumably non-Kurdish collaborates of the US. Erdogan cannot be so naïve as to believe that the YPG having fought and died in order to secure its territorial patrimony will turn around and surrender it . Erdogan knows that the US is not in a position to force the YPG to surrender since it is a crucial building bloc in Washington-Israel-Saudi Arabia, strategy of fragmenting Syria into weak state- lets.

Erdogan’s failure in Washington will force him to play the ‘nationalist’ card – more pro-Palestine rhetoric, more opposition to a Cyprus accord; the ‘discovery’ of more and greater ‘internal enemies’;and more pro-Russian posturing.

Will Erdogan defuse the hostility among his own and independent nationalist supporter?

One point is clear, a US armed and territorially based Kurdish militia is a far more formidable threat to the unity of the Turkish state than previous ill-armed, mountain based guerrillas in Iraq.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Israel, Middle East, Turkey 
America’s Great Leap Backwards

Introduction: For almost 50 years, the US economy and society has taken a great leap backward – accelerating during the past three Presidencies. Not only have we experienced the reversal of past socio-economic legislation, but also our presidents and Congress have dragged us into multiple aggressive wars. Now, the threat of a nuclear attack against our ‘declared enemies’ is ‘on the table’.

Since the end of the Viet Nam war, US military ‘interventions’ have become wars of long duration. These have cost millions of lives overseas, tens of millions of refugees and scores of thousands of American soldier deaths, permanent injury and serious mental and neuropsychiatric damage. There is no ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, to quote the US General William Westmoreland.

In retrospect, and after 50 years of decline, the much-maligned Presidency of Richard Milhous Nixon now stands out as a golden age of social, environmental and inter-racial advances, as well as an era of successful peace negotiations and diplomacy. President Nixon, never an ideologue, accepted the reality of a multi-polar world.

Of course, the Nixon Presidency was characterized by serious crimes against humanity, such as the CIA-sponsored coup d’état against the democratically elected Chilean President Allende, the bombing of Cambodia and the genocidal invasion of the newly independent country of East Timor.

Today, he is best known for the far-less consequential events around the ‘Watergate’ scandal and related domestic civil rights abuses and corruption. It was the mass media and Democratic Party politicos who have grossly inflated the election campaign chicanery, leading up to the bungled break-in of the Watergate Hotel headquarters of the Democratic Party, which led to Nixon’s impeachment and resignation. To today’s media spin-masters, ‘Watergate’ was the defining event of President Nixon’s Presidency.

Ironically, after Nixon resigned from office even greater disasters occurred. This paper will enumerate these and compare them with the Nixon presidency.

Far from pursuing diplomacy and peace, subsequent presidents, both ‘liberal’ Democrats and ‘conservative’ Republicans, invaded Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Panama, Grenada, and Angola and initiated a dozen other highly destructive and economically devastating wars. The two oligarchic parties took turns in shredding Nixon’s comparatively peaceful legacy.

President Nixon, under the advice of National Security adviser, Henry Kissinger, supported Israel’s invasion of the Arab countries in 1973 as well as the bloody Chilean military coup in 1973.

President Nixon cynically designed the ‘Southern Strategy’, which transformed the Democratic Party-controlled racist fiefdoms of the US South into racist Republican-controlled states.

Progressives, liberals and self-styled democratic-socialists have played a leading role in ignoring Nixon’s ‘golden years’ in terms of domestic and international policy achievements. Instead they focused on inane and infantile name-calling, like “Tricky Dick”, to describe the man. By doing so, they have failed miserably to discuss national and international issues of historic importance. They have deliberately fabricated a distorted picture of the Nixon era to cover-up for the gross failures of subsequent Democratic Party controlled Congresses and Democratic Presidents.

In this essay, we will briefly outline Richard Nixon’s policies and executive initiatives, which justify our designation of the Nixon’s ‘golden years’, especially in comparison to what has followed his era.

President Nixon: The Great Leap Forward

In the sphere of political, economic and social life, President Nixon pursued policies, which ultimately advanced peace in the world and social welfare in the United States.

In foreign policy and diplomacy, Richard Nixon ended both the draft of young Americans into the armed forces, as well as the decade-long US military occupation of Indo-China, effectively ending the war – and acknowledging the hard victory of the Vietnamese National Liberation Front. The war had cost millions of Southeast Asian lives.

Nixon visited Beijing and recognized the ‘existence’ of the People’s Republic of China, effectively ending a quarter century of economic blockades and military threats against the billion-plus population of the PRC under three Democratic (Truman, Kennedy and Johnson) and one Republican (Eisenhower) Presidential Administrations. He established full diplomatic relations with China.

Nixon initiated the Security Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) agreements with the USSR and developed diplomatic policies, which recognized the possibility and necessity of peaceful co-existence between different social systems.

On the domestic front, President Nixon established the Clean Water Act and established the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with a Federal Government mandate to fight polluters and hold them accountable for the ‘cleanup’ of the environment.

Nixon proposed a National Health Insurance Program – an expansion of Medicare to cover the health needs of all Americans. This radical proposal (a version of ’single payer’) was attacked and defeated by the Democratic Party, led by Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy who was backed by ‘Big Pharma’, the AMA and the growing corporate ‘health’ industry.

Nixon imposed price and wage controls that constrained inflation and price gouging and actively punished commodity ‘hoarding’. This was a time of rapid inflation and shortages due to the ‘Oil Embargo’. With these measures, he incurred the wrath of Wall Street, big business and the financial press.

Nixon promoted consumer rights, supplemental legislation to expand Social Security, especially for the handicapped, while defending the retirement age for pension eligibility.

Under Nixon, union membership rose to 30% of the workforce – its high point before its precipitous decline to 12% under subsequent US Presidents.

Nixon increased salaries of federal employees and real wages rose. In the following half-century real wages have declined to only 10% of their Nixon era value!

Nixon indexed Social Security to the real rate of inflation.

The Nixon Presidency initiated the Affirmative Action program and used the Federal Government to push for the desegregation of schools, leading to the first large-scale integration of public education in the South. President Nixon created the Office of Minority Business Enterprises (OMBE); the Occupation Safety and Health Agency (OSHA); and the Legacy of Parks Programs.

Nixon proposed a guaranteed annual wage for American workers, which both Democrats and Republicans rejected and defeated! He promoted Keynesian industrial policies against the financial elites with their mania for speculation.

President Nixon appointed four Supreme Court Justices during his term. Three of his appointees supported the groundbreaking ‘Roe versus Wade’ decision protecting women’s reproductive rights.

Under Nixon the voting age was reduced from twenty-one to eighteen years – giving millions of young Americans a greater political voice.

When Nixon spoke in favor of gun control, both the Republican and Democratic Parties opposed his proposals.

President Nixon supported the Equal Employment Opportunity Act and the Endangered Species Act, which have remained critical to social and environmental justice.

(Reprinted from The James Petras Website by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: American Military, Neoliberalism, Richard Nixon 

Introduction: Every day in unimaginable ways, prominent leaders from the left and the right, from bankers to Parisian intellectuals, are fabricating stories and pushing slogans that denigrate presidential candidate Marine Le Pen.…

They obfuscate her program, substituting the label ‘extremist’ for her pro-working class and anti-imperialist commitment. Fear and envy over the fact that a new leader heads a popular movement has seeped into Emmanuel “Manny” Macron’s champagne-soaked dinner parties. He has good reason to be afraid: Le Pen addresses the fundamental interests of the vast- majority of French workers, farmers, public employees, unemployed and underemployed youth and older workers approaching retirement.

The mass media, political class and judicial as well as street provocateurs savagely assault Le Pen, distorting her domestic and foreign policies. They are incensed that Le Pen pledges to remove France from NATO’s integrated command – effectively ending its commitment to US directed global wars. Le Pen rejects the oligarch-dominated European Union and its austerity programs, which have enriched bankers and multi-national corporations. Le Pen promises to convoke a national referendum over the EU – to decide French submission. Le Pen promises to end sanctions against Russia and, instead, increase trade. She will end France’s intervention in Syria and establish ties with Iran and Palestine.

Le Pen is committed to Keynesian demand-driven industrial revitalization as opposed to Emmanuel Macron’s ultra-neoliberal supply-side agenda.

Le Pen’s program will raise taxes on banks and financial transactions while fining capital flight in order to continue funding France’s retirement age of 62 for women and 65 for men, keeping the 35 hour work-week, and providing tax free overtime pay. She promises direct state intervention to prevent factories from relocating to low wage EU economies and firing French workers.

Le Pen is committed to increasing public spending for childcare and for the poor and disabled. She has pledged to protect French farmers against subsidized, cheap imports.

Marine Le Pen supports abortion rights and gay rights. She opposes the death penalty. She promises to cut taxes by 10% for low-wage workers. Marine is committed to fighting against sexism and for equal pay for women.

Marine Le Pen will reduce migration to ten thousand people and crack down on immigrants with links to terrorists.

Emmanuel Macron: Macro Billionaire and Micro Worker Programs

Macron has been an investment banker serving the Rothschild and Cie Banque oligarchy, which profited from speculation and the pillage of the public treasury. Macron served in President Hollande’s Economy Ministry, in charge of ‘Industry and Digital Affairs’ from 2014 through 2016. This was when the ‘Socialist’ Hollande imposed a pro-business agenda, which included a 40 billion-euro tax cut for the rich.

Macron is tied to the Republican Party and its allied banking and business Confederations, whose demands include: raising the retirement age, reducing social spending, firing tens of thousands of public employees and facilitating the outflow of capital and the inflow of cheap imports.

Macron is an unconditional supporter of NATO and the Pentagon. He fully supports the European Union. For their part, the EU oligarchs are thrilled with Macron’s embrace of greater austerity for French workers, while the generals can expect total material support for the ongoing and future US-NATO wars on three continents.

Propaganda, Labels and Lies

Macron’s pro-war, anti-working class and ’supply-side’ economic policies leave us with only one conclusion: Marine Le Pen is the only candidate of the left. Her program and commitments are pro-labor, not ‘hard’ or ‘far’ right – and certainly not ‘fascist’.

Macron, on the other hand is a committed rightwing extremist, certainly no ‘centrist’, as the media and the political elite claim! One has only to look at his background in banking, his current supporters among the oligarchs and his ministerial policies when he served Francois Holland.

The ‘Macronistas’ have accused Marine Le Pen of extreme ‘nationalism’, ‘fascism’, ‘anti-Semitism’ and ‘anti-immigrant racism’. ‘The French Left’, or what remains of it, has blindly swallowed the oligarchs’ campaign against Le Pen despite the malodorous source of these libels.

Le Pen is above all a ’sovereigntist’: ‘France First’. Her fight is against the Brussels oligarchs and for the restoration of sovereignty to the French people. There is an infinite irony in labeling the fight against imperial political power as ‘hard right’. It is insulting to debase popular demands for domestic democratic power over basic economic policies, fiscal spending, incomes and prices policies, budgets and deficits as ‘extremist and far right’.

Marine Le Pen has systematically transformed the leadership, social, economic program and direction of the National Front Party.

She expelled its anti-Semites, including her own father! She transformed its policy on women’s rights, abortion, gays and race. She won the support of young unemployed and employed factory workers, public employees and farmers. Young workers are three times more likely to support her national industrial revitalization program over Macron’s ‘free market dogma’. Le Pen has drawn support from French farmers as well as the downwardly mobile provincial middle-class, shopkeepers, clerks and tourism-based workers and business owners.

Despite the trends among the French masses against the oligarchs, academics, intellectuals and political journalists have aped the elite’s slander against Le Pen because they will not antagonize the prestigious media and their administrators in the universities. They will not acknowledge the profound changes that have occurred within the National Front under Marine Le Pen. They are masters of the ‘double discourse’ – speaking from the left while working with the right. They confuse the lesser evil with the greater evil.

If Macron wins this election (and nothing is guaranteed!), he will certainly implement his ‘hard’ and ‘extreme’ neo-liberal agenda. When the French workers go on strike and demonstrators erect barricades in the streets in response to Macron’s austerity, the fake-left will bleat out their inconsequential ‘critique’ of ‘impure reason’. They will claim that they were right all along.

If Le Pen loses this election, Macron will impose his program and ignite popular fury. Marine will make an even stronger candidate in the next election… if the French oligarchs’ judiciary does not imprison her for the crime of defending sovereignty and social justice.

(Reprinted from The James Petras Website by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy, Ideology • Tags: France, Marine Le Pen, Neoliberalism 
The ‘Traitor of the Year Award’

Introduction: While the Right faithfully supports the policies and interests of its ruling class supporters, the Left has systematically betrayed their political platform promises and deceived its working class, salaried employees, small business and regional supporters.

Historic reversals have happened in rapid succession by Leftist leaders, including greater oligarch control over the economy, more dictatorial political domination by imperial powers (US,EU), increasing inequalities and poverty, and ‘Leftist’ support for imperial wars.

In some cases leftist leaders have gone beyond their rightist opponents by passing even more extreme reactionary policies upon assuming power.

In this essay, we will identify some of the turncoat leftists: The ‘Champions of Betrayal’.

Secondly we will review their policy reversals and the consequences for their working class and rural supporters.

Thirdly, we will present a case study of the world’s worst ‘Left’ traitor today: Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister of Greece.

In the final section, we will discuss some of the possible explanations for the trend of political reversals by left leaders.

Turncoat ‘Leftists’ of the Early 21st Century

There are numerous examples of former guerrilla movements, leftist regimes and political leaders who gained mass popular support on the promise of radical structural transformations and who turn around to embrace the interests of their oligarchical and imperial adversaries.

An entire generation of radicals from the 1960’s and ’70’s started on the left and, by the ’80’s and 90’s ended up in ‘centrist’ and rightwing regimes – even becoming collaborators with the extreme right and the CIA.

Former guerrilla fighters, who turned centrist and rightwing, became Cabinet Ministers or Presidents in Uruguay, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and Chile.

El Salvadoran guerrilla commander, Joaquin Villalobos, later collaborated with the CIA and provided ‘advice’ to the ‘death squad’ President of Colombia.

The list of late 20th century traitors is long and dismal. Their policy betrayals have caused great hardship for their mass supporters who suffered socio-economic losses, political repression, arrests, torture, death and a profound distrust toward ‘left’ intellectuals, political leaders and their ‘promises’.

The 21st Century: Starting on the Left and Ending on the Right

The first decade of the 21st century witnessed a revival of left regimes and political parties in Europe and Latin America.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), led by the great peasant leader Manual Marulanda, had 20,000 fighters and millions of supporters. In 1999, it had advanced to the outskirts of the Capital, Bogota. The reality today is a dramatic reversal.

In France, the Socialist Party adopted a left program and elected Francois Hollande as President in 2012. He promised to raise taxes on the rich to 75% in order to finance a massive jobs program. He promised to extend progressive labor legislation and to defend national industries. Today his credibility is near zero.

Throughout Latin America, Leftists were elected to head governments, including Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Uruguay, Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador and El Salvador. With the possible exception of Bolivia and Ecuador, they have been ousted by their rightwing partners or opponents.

In Spain, Portugal and Greece, new radical leftist parties emerged with promises to end the brutal European Union-imposed austerity programs, and launch profound, class-based, structural transformations. Here history is repeating itself with another series of betrayals.

The Revolutionary Armed of Forces of Colombia (FARC): From Revolution to Surrender

By June 2017, the FARC leadership had disarmed its fighters, abandoning millions of peasant supporters in regions formerly under their control. The FARC’s signing of the Peace Pact with the Santos regime led to neither peace nor a real pact. Dozens of activists are already being murdered and hundreds of leftists and peasants are fleeing for their lives from death squads connected to the Santos regime. Assassinations occurred throughout the negotiation process and afterwards. Guerrilla fighters, who turned in their arms, now face kangaroo trials, while peasants who apply for agrarian reform are driven from their farms. Rank and file FARC fighters and militants are abandoned with their families in the jungle without homes, jobs and security from the death squads. US military bases and advisers remain. The entire socio-economic system is unchanged. Only the Cuba-based guerrilla ‘leaders’ are guaranteed security, two comfortable seats in Parliament– which has been denied– and the praise of the US government!

FARC leaders and chief negotiators, Ivan Marquez and Timoleon Jimenez, are clear contenders for the ‘Traitor of the Year Award’.

France’s President Hollande: An Imperial Collaborator Flushed down the Toilet

President Francois Hollande’s tenure was not far behind the FARC’s betrayal. Elected President of France in 2012 under the Socialist Party, he promised to ‘tax the rich’ by 75%, extend and deepen workers’ rights, reduce unemployment, revive bankrupt industries, prevent capitalist flight and end France’s military intervention in Third World countries.

After a brief flirtation with his campaign rhetoric, President Hollande went on a pro-business and militarist rampage against his voters:

First, he deregulated business relations with labor, making it easier and quicker to fire workers.

Second, he reduced business taxes by $40 billion Euros.

Third, he imposed and then extended a draconian state of emergency following a terrorist incident. This included the banning of strikes by workers protesting his anti-labor legislation and the double-digit unemployment rate.

Fourth, Hollande launched or promoted a series of imperial wars in the Middle East and North and Central Africa.

France under Francois Hollande initiated the NATO bombing of Libya, the murder of President Gadhafi, the total destruction of that nation and the uprooting of millions of Libyans and sub-Saharan African workers. This led to a massive flood of terrified refugees across the Mediterranean and into Europe with tens of thousands drowning in the process.

President Holland’s neo-colonial project oversaw the expansion of French troops into Mali (destabilized by the destruction of Libya) and the Central African Republic.

A clear promoter of genocide, Hollande sold arms and sent ‘advisers’ to support Saudi Arabia’s grotesque war against impoverished Yemen.

President Hollande joined the US mercenary invasion of Syria, allowing some of France’s finest nascent jihadis to join in the slaughter. His colonial ambitions have resulted in the flight of millions of refugees into Europe and other regions.

By the end of his term of office in 2017, Holland’s popularity had declined to 4%, the lowest level of electoral approval of any President in French history! The only rational move he undertook in his entire regime was to not seek re-election.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras: ‘Traitor of the Year’

Despite the stiff competition from other infamous leftist traitors around the world, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras wins the ‘Global Traitor of the Year’ award.

Tsipras deserves the label of ‘Global Traitor’ because:

1) He made the quickest and most brutal turn from left to right than any of his venal competitors.

2) He supported Greece’s subjugation to the dictates of the Brussels oligarchs privatization demands, agreeing to sell its entire national patrimony, including its infrastructure, islands, mines, beaches, museums, ports and transports etc.

(Reprinted from The James Petras Website by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Greece, Neoliberalism, The Left 

Introduction: US Empire building on a world-scale began during and shortly after WWII. Washington intervened directly in the Chinese civil war (providing arms to Chiang Kai Shek’s army while the Red Army battled the Japanese), backed France’s re-colonization war against the Viet Minh in Indo-China and installed Japanese imperial collaborator-puppet regimes in South Korea, Taiwan and Japan.

While empire building took place with starts and stops, advances and defeats, the strategic goal remained the same: to prevent the establishment of independent communist or secular-nationalist governments and to impose vassal regimes compliant to US interests.

Bloody wars and coups (’regime changes’) were the weapons of choice. Defeated European colonial regimes were replaced and incorporated as subordinate US allies.

Where possible, Washington relied on armies of mercenaries trained, equipped and directed by US ‘advisors’ to advance imperial conquests. Where necessary, usually if the client regime and vassal troops were unable to defeat an armed people’s army, the US armed forces intervened directly.

Imperial strategists sought to intervene and brutally conquer the target nation. When they failed to achieve their ‘maximum’ goal, they dug in with a policy of encirclement to cut the links between revolutionary centers with adjoining movements. Where countries successfully resisted armed conquests, empire builders imposed economic sanctions and blockades to erode the economic basis of popular governments.

Empires, as the Roman sages long recognized, are not built in a day, or weeks and months. Temporary agreements and accords are signed and conveniently broken because imperial designs remain paramount.

Empires would foment internal cleavages among adversaries and coups in neighboring countries. Above all, they construct a worldwide network of military outposts, clandestine operatives and regional alliances on the borders of independent governments to curtail emerging military powers.

Following successful wars, imperial centers dominate production and markets, resources and labor. However, over time challenges would inevitably emerge from dependent and independent regimes. Rivals and competitors gained markets and increased military competence. While some vassal states sacrificed political-military sovereignty for independent economic development, others moved toward political independence.

Early and Late Contradictions of Expanding Imperialism

The dynamics of imperial states and systems contain contradictions that constantly challenge and change the contours of empire.

The US devoted immense resources to retain its military supremacy among vassals, but experienced a sharp decline in its share of world markets, especially with the rapid rise of new economic producers.

Economic competition forced the imperial centers to realign the focus of their economies – ‘rent’ (finance and speculation) displaced profits from trade and production. Imperial industries relocated abroad in search of cheap labor. Finance, insurance, real estate, communications, military and security industries came to dominate the domestic economy. A vicious cycle was created: with the erosion of its productive base, the Empire further increased its reliance on the military, finance capital and the import of cheap consumer goods.

Just after World War II, Washington tested its military prowess through intervention . Because of the immense popular resistance and the proximity of the USSR, and later PRC, empire building in post-colonial Asia was contained or militarily defeated. US forces temporarily recognized a stalemate in Korea after killing millions. Its defeat in China led to the flight of the ‘Nationalists’ to the provincial island of Taiwan. The sustained popular resistance and material support from socialist superpowers led to its retreat from Indo-China. In response, it resorted to economic sanctions to strangle the revolutionary governments.

The Growth of the Unipolar Ideology

With the growing power of overseas economic competitors and its increasing reliance on direct military intervention, the US Empire took advantage of the internal disintegration of the USSR and China’s embrace of ’state capitalism’ in the early 1990’s and 1980s..The US expanded throughout the Baltic region, Eastern and Central Europe and the Balkans – with the forced breakup of Yugoslavia. Imperial strategists envisioned ‘a unipolar empire’ – an imperial state without rivals. The Empire builders were free to invade, occupy and pillage independent states on any continent – even bombing a European capital, Belgrade, with total impunity. Multiple wars were launched against designated ‘adversaries’, who lacked strong global allies.

Countries in South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa were targeted for destruction. South America was under the control of neo-liberal regimes. The former USSR was pillaged and disarmed by imperial vassals. Russia was ruled by gangster-kleptocrats allied to US stooges. China was envisioned as nothing more than a slave workshop producing cheap mass consumer goods for Americans and generating high profits for US multinational corporations and retailers like Walmart.

Unlike the Roman Empire, the 1990’s were not to be the prelude to an unchallenged US empire of long duration. Since the ‘unipolarists’ were pursuing multiple costly and destructive wars of conquest and they were unable to rely on the growth of satellites with emerging industrial economies for its profits. US global power eroded.

The Demise of Unipolarity: The 21st Century

Ten years into the 21st century, the imperial vision of an unchallenged unipolar empire was crumbling. China’s ‘primitive’ accumulation led to advanced domestic accumulation for the Chinese people and state. China’s power expanded overseas through investments, trade and acquisitions. China displaced the US as the leading trading partner in Asia and the largest importer of primary commodities from Latin America and Africa. China became the world’s leading manufacturer and exporter of consumer goods to North America and the EU.

The first decade of the 21st century witnessed the overthrow or defeat of US vassal states throughout Latin America (Argentina, Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Brazil) and the emergence of independent agro-mineral regimes poised to form regional trade pacts. This was a period of growing global demand for their natural resources and commodities- precisely when the US was de-industrializing and in the throes of costly disastrous wars in the Middle East.

In contrast to the growing independence of Latin America, the EU deepened its military participation in the brutal US-led overseas wars by expanding the ‘mandate’ of NATO. Brussels followed the unipolarist policy of systematically encircling Russia and weakening its independence via harsh sanctions. The EU’s outward expansion (financed with increasing domestic austerity) heightened internal cleavages, leading to popular discontent .The UK voted in favor of a referendum to secede from the EU.

The domestic disasters of the US vassal regime in Russia, under Boris Yeltsin during the 1990″s, pushed the voters to elect a nationalist, Vladimir Putin. President Vladimir Putin’s government embarked on a program to regain Russian sovereignty and its position as a global power, countering US internal intervention and pushing back against external encirclement by NATO.

(Reprinted from The James Petras Website by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Military, China, North Korea, Russia 

Introduction: Ethno-religious (ER) beliefs and practices have been harmless when individuals or groups linked to those practices have limited influence over the state and economy. In contrast, when such groups exercise a disproportionately powerful influence over the state and economy, they dominate and exploit majorities while forming closed self-replicating networks.

Examples of powerful ethno-centric regimes in the 1930’s are well known for their brutality and devastating consequences. These include the white Christians in the US, Germany and the European colonial settlement regimes in Rhodesia, South Africa, India and Indonesia, as well as the Japanese imperialists in Asia.

In the post-colonial or neo-colonial era, ethno-centrism has taken the form of virulent anti-Islamic hysteria resulting in predatory Western regimes embarking on wars and military occupations in the Middle East.

The rise of Judeo-centrism, as an economic and political force, occurred in the last half of the 20th century. The Jewish-Zionist seizure, occupation and ethnic cleansing of historic Palestine and their rising economic and political influence within the United States has created a formidable power bloc with significant implications for world peace.

The rise of Jewish ethnocentrism (JE) has confounded its proponents as well as its adversaries; Zionists and anti-Semites alike are surprised by the scope and depth of JE.

Advocates and adversaries, of all persuasions, conflate the power of what they call ‘the Jews’, for their own purposes. Advocates find proof of ‘Jewish genius’ in every prestigious position and attribute it to their own unique culture, heredity and scholarship, rather than the result of a greater social-cultural context. The anti-Semites, for their part, attribute all the world’s nefarious dealings and diabolic plots to ‘the Jews’. This creates a strange duality of illusions about the exceptionalism of a minority group.

In this paper I will focus on demystifying the myths buttressing the power of contemporary Judeo-centric ideology, belief and organizational influence. There is little point in focusing on anti-Semitism, which has no impact on the economy and the exercise of state power with the possible exception of Saudi Arabia. Even the Saudi Monarchy’s occasional outbursts against Israel do not inhibit it from engaging in large-scale financial transactions with the Jewish banking elite on Wall Street and City of London and from forming covert alliances with Israeli intelligence in order to overthrow secular pro-Palestinian Arab regimes – as has happened in Libya, Iraq and Syria. They have both benefited from the massive ethnic cleansing of the highly educated minority Christian populations of secular Iraq and Syria.

Fake Anti-Semitism: Operational Weapon of the Ethno-Centric Jews

Fake anti-Semitism is most recently seen in the launching of series of anti-Semitic ‘threats’ by ethno-centric Jews to create hysteria, serves many purposes following the recent rise of populism in Europe and the election of the American President Donald Trump who had promised to withdraw the US from wars in the Middle East. First, it secures widespread support from North American and European regimes, especially when Israel is criticized throughout the world and at the United Nations for its war crimes in occupied Palestine. Widespread fake anti-Semitic attacks divert attention to Judeo-ethno centrists and validate their claims to be the first among the history’s victims. Second, widely publicized ‘fake’ acts of anti-Semitism arouse the ethnocentric foot soldiers and increase rich donor contributions to the illegal Jewish settlements and the Israeli military. Third, ‘fake anti-Semitism’ is used to threaten, repress and outlaw any organizations and individuals who criticize Israel and the influence of Jewish ethnocentric organizations in their home countries.

How many ‘anti-Semitic’ acts are staged is uncertain: On March 23, 2017, an Israeli-American man was arrested in Israel for sending hundreds of fake anti-Semitic threats to Jewish institutions and schools in four European countries and nine US states. Such threats led to the emergency grounding of two US airlines and the panicked evacuation of countless schools and cultural centers. This man used a sophisticated system of cloaking accounts to appear to originate in other countries. Despite his high skills at cyber-terrorism, Israeli authorities preposterously described him as a ‘teenager with a learning disability’. The Israeli-American cyber-terrorist’s arrest made the ‘back-pages’ news in the US for one day while his (and others’) fake threats continued to make international headlines for weeks.

These scores of fake anti-Semitic bomb threats were cited by the major ethnocentric leaders in the US to pressure the US President and hundreds of Congressional leaders, University Presidents, etc. to mindlessly echo their clamor for greater police state investigations against critics of Israel and to offer special ‘protection’ for potential ‘Jewish victims’. Moves to outlaw criticism of Israel as ‘anti-Semitism’ and a ‘hate crime’ increased.

Not surprisingly the leading Jewish organizations never backed down or called on the US government to investigate the source of the fake anti-Semitic threats: that is Israeli-American Zionists, who carry both nations’ passports and can enter and exit with total ease and enjoy immunity from extradition.

It is almost certain that the US FBI had identified the perpetrator of these acts as they uncovered the sophisticated operation based in Israel. The FBI would have demanded Israeli police arrest ‘the culprit’ and shut down the operation. Israeli police staged their own ‘fake’ investigation and concluded that the complex cloaked cyber operations ‘were the work of a shy nineteen year old with dyslexia’ – clearly another example of the Jewish genius. It is more likely that the hundreds of false-anti-Semitic threats were part of an Israeli state operation identified by the FBI who ‘diplomatically’ pressured Tel Aviv to cut out the monkey business. The news report of the lone-wolf teenager in Israel allowed the Israeli intelligence to cover-up their role. Once the Israelis passed off the unbelievable tale of a brilliant, if troubled, young ‘lone wolf’, the entire US mass media buried the story forever. In due time the so-called perpetrator will be released, amply rewarded and his identity re-cycled. In the meantime the US government, as well as several European governments, was forced to allocate tens of millions of dollars to provide extra security to Jewish institutions in the wake of these fake threats.

Jewish Power: The Top 25 American Multi-Billionaires

In February 2017, Forbes magazine compiled a list of the world’s billionaires, including a country-by-country account. The top five countries with multi-billionaires among its citizens are: the US with 565, China with 319, Germany with 114, India with 101, and Russia with 96. Moreover, since 2016 the net worth of the multi-billionaires grew 18% to $7.67 trillion dollars.

While the US has the greatest number of billionaires, China is fast catching up.

Despite China’s advances, the US remains the center of world capitalism with the greatest concentration of wealth, as well as the greatest and growing inequalities. One reasonably can argue that who controls US wealth controls the world.

‘Jews’ among the Top 25 Multi-Billionaires in the US

(Reprinted from The James Petras Website by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Israel Lobby, Jews 

Introduction

Every day and throughout the world we read and hear of turmoil, of threats, violence, divisions, wars for peace and peace for wars, freedom as oppression and oppression as freedom.

In a world where words have lost their meanings and meanings have no words, how do we go about understanding turmoil?

Surely, economies rise and decline, new empires become dominant and old powers attempt to regain their power.

Does global turmoil ‘up end’ the established order? Or does it add up to hot air, flatulence, loud, smelly, empty and of short duration?

Is turmoil more than gaseous air, an after-dinner deep throated salute to the cook? Or is it a result of transformations of substance, albeit piles of broken societies stacked as precisely located horse buns?

In plain English: we experience turmoil . . . but we struggle to understand its significance. We ask: who benefits? And the quacks answer: Everybody, nobody and somebody.

We will argue that most turmoil receives grave attention but is of little consequence.

Turmoil has many facets and is expressed by many voices, but it seldom leads to substantive outcomes.

A caveat: I am not a Burkean conservative fearful of turmoil, nor a modern version of Candide finding a silver earring in every cauliflower ear.

Turmoil does, on rare occasion, result in greater freedom and justice, but certainly not as a product of a unipolar world.

Turmoil, ‘Turmoil’ Everywhere You Turn

The United States faces ‘unprecedented turmoil’. The chattering classes debate with fervor and solemnity questions of momentous importance.

The two major parties arouse passions over whether one hundred million votes were tampered by a feisty bear, hacking a national committee of garrulous roosters, changing the voting result. A world historic event! Crowing arouses world attention.

The snoopy bear, or so we are told, was investigated by the former President’s staff, men and women. One million security officials studied, in great depth, untold number of rumors. They scrutinized the dinner tables with high-powered secret cameras to find if the bear chose to sit next to US officials eager for cash and access to honey pots.

Turmoil spread to the stock market and the Federal Budget, facing a shut-down, which will close government offices, stops pensions and salaries. Rumors have it that the Interior Department will lose control of federal lands and the crafty bear will exploit it.

As the clock ticks to doomsday – utter turmoil lurks in the hearts and minds of Congress. The White House gloats, the media points to the Bear in the White House.

Wall Street worries not, since it buys and owns both Parties: It will tell them when to end the Kabuki strife. The turmoil will conclude with an amicable agreement. The budget turmoil was only a scare: flatulence without ‘substance’.

Global Turmoil

Turmoil reigns across the globe because adversaries near and far resist the overtures of an endearing missile up their orifices.

We mean war! This is no idle congressional chatter and boisterous bursts of military clap trap. The US sends bombs and missiles to defeat our adversaries by killing civilians. We empty the cities to capture the terrorists.

Wars become ‘ Historical ’ because they are of long duration leading to relentless defeats! Turbulence goes on because of oil, Israel and terrorists (proximity is an unintended coincidence!).

When turmoil ends, we may inherit a land without people and a people with depleted uranium – to paraphrase the modern philosopher queen, Golda Meir.

Turmoil Strikes the Heartland of Our Unipolar World

Let us be absolutely clear: We are not always pointing our middle finger at the US as the root of turmoil. If we go beyond roots and examine branches and falling, dying leaves, millions are involved in the turmoil. It is the joint responsibility of our living and their dead.

Syria is a case in point. We have only killed less than a million, and then ten million abandoned their land and chose our liberty over our terrorists. By the way, how can our terrorists be call terrorists if, with our guns in hand, they stave off the greedy bear — the very same bear who stole our election.

Syria is in turmoil because as Henry Kissinger wisely noted: “If a people is foolish enough to vote for a government that has failed to understand our unipolar world, they deserve their fate”.

Turmoil: Turkey

Turkey is rife with turmoil because it refused to surrender to a false coup by a false leader named Gulan. He happens to live and plot in the US. He was hoping to repay our hospitality with expanded Turkish air bases and open highways for our mercenaries, arms and funds to liberate civilians and recover headless cadavers in Syria.

When the Turkish Sultan dared to imitate our leaders by extending imprisonment to all who opposed him, we denounced him for not consulting us on whom to jail or not jail.

Ankara now threatens our Kurds, who use our arms and Special Forces to liberate the Syrian borders along southeastern Turkey (Kurdistan).

The Turks claim to see a conspiracy to unify the secessionist Turkish Kurds with our freedom-loving annexationist Syrian Kurds. United Kurdistan may be a true ally for now, but who’s to say that in our game of unipolar chess we could turn the Kurds back into pawns if they become unruly under independence and fall prey to the appeals of the roaming Bear.

Turmoil in Korea

In Korea, turmoil is rife! But is it a tempest in a teapot, or a nuclear pressure cooker ready to explode? We are there. We allowed the North to exist. We only bombed four million of their citizens and limited our defenses to stationing our navy, air force, army and missiles along the North Korean border.

They had the effrontery to seek negotiations for a peace treaty, disarmament and a neutralized Korea. Some quasi-traitors from our side, who deviated from our unipolar mission, had almost reached an agreement. Our President Obama slapped them back and pursued missiles, sanctions and visions of mushroom clouds to bring them under our heel.

President Kim Jong-Un played deaf and blind to our requests for surrender. So when we engaged in a full dress rehearsal for war off their coast – avoiding any incident – the roly-poly Kim Jong-Un shot four fearful missiles into the Sea of Japan, a mere five thousand miles from Silicon Valley and Hollywood , an existential threat.

Our experts detected turmoil: a wider and deeper threat to our respected and long-standing supremacy in Asia.

Turmoil in China

China is fomenting turmoil by supplying our importers with consumer goods; buying our debts, spending only $3 trillion of our T notes; grabbing our markets with their exports while we pursue peaceful wars.

China has stirred our pot, over there and even here. They teamed up with Vlad the Snooping Bear, the same one who fooled 50 million voters to elect Trump, the protectionist. Sly Chinese now entice our Asian trading partners. They close huge trade deals while we openly proclaim that the Pacific Ocean is an American lake —-though it’s not on any map. Chinese rock piles in the South China Sea are global threats, pirate lairs, missile and mussel hangouts.

(Reprinted from The James Petras Website by permission of author or representative)
 
The ‘White Plague’ of the 21st Century

Introduction

Over the past two decades hundreds of thousands of Americans have died prematurely because of irresponsibly prescribed narcotic ‘pain killers’ and other central nervous system depressants, like tranquillizers and their deadly interactions. The undeniable fact is that they have been mostly from the white working and lower middle class from rural and deindustrialized regions. The governing elite and oligarch macro-decision makers have quietly dismissed this sector of the country as ‘surplus’. The victims or their surviving family members have no chance of redress for the widespread malpractice and greed that led to their addiction or death. The government as a whole and the oligarch-controlled mass media have deliberately failed to document and investigate the deep causes for the epidemic, except to spout the usual superficial ‘clichéd explanations’.

We will proceed to discuss the scope and depth of the epidemic and to identify the primary causes. We will then proceed to offer alternatives.

Comparative Data

The US can claim the dubious distinction of having highest rate of growth of premature deaths among its young and middle age working and lower middle class citizens among the the advanced countries of Europe and Asia. Even most not-so-advanced countries have been spared such an increase in pre-mature mortality, outside of war. This uniquely American devastation is concentrated among the poorer, less educated whites living in small cities, towns and rural areas.

The trends are no longer deniable: Over the last sixteen years (2000-2016), the death rate among US workers between ages 50 – 54 doubled from 40 to 80 per 100,000[1]. In contrast, the mortality rate in Germany among a similar demographic declined from 60 to 42/100,000 and in France from 55 to 40 per 100,000[2]. Moreover within the US, the mortality rate for marginalized white workers has increased compared to that of African Americans and Hispanics. This upward shift in pre-mature death indicates significant deterioration in living standards for a huge slice of the US population. The main causes of death include a dramatic increase in suicide, complications of obesity and diabetes, and especially ‘poisoning’ – a broad term to include alcohol, illegal drugs, and, especially, prescribed opioid pain medications and an array of mixed drug interactions.

Some self-described ‘experts’ in addiction claim that the increasing mortality rates among US workers are due to ‘globalization and automation’[3]. This is an example of what we mean by ‘superficial’ or ‘fake explanations. This is because this phenomenon has not occurred elsewhere in other industrialized countrie s. Even though countries, like Japan, Canada and the United Kingdom, have seen their economies shift with ‘globalization’ and advanced automation, none have experienced rising mortality among their core population.

Mortality in the UK, Canada and Australia among workers remains at about 40 deaths per 100,000 – half the rate of the US, despite similar demographics and participation in the global market. The key to understanding this phenomenon lies in how American capital and the ruling structure have responded to the needs of its labor force, made redundant by shifts in the economy.

Within the United States, low wage young and middle age white workers with only high school education and less, especially those engaged in manual labor, experience four times higher mortality compared to college graduates. The dramatic increase in the mortality within this demographic corresponds to the increasing proportion of American workers and their families who no longer have access to adequate employer-provided health care. Premature deaths have risen with the demise of well-paid, secure manufacturing jobs for this sector of society.

In other words, as big corporate capitalism enjoys an ever-rising rate of profit through relocation of factories abroad, through automation, or by contracting immigrant and part-time uninsured US workers and therefore eliminating comprehensive health coverage for US workers, preventable worker deaths increase. Other advanced capitalist market economies in Europe and Asia have maintained intact universal national health and social welfare systems, which effectively serve to mitigate the damage that increasing job insecurity and falling living standards have on worker health. These systems continue to save millions of lives. This is one of the starkest contrasts between the US health care system and the systems operating in the rest of the industrialized world!

‘Oxycontin’, the White Plague

The root cause for the astronomical rise of worker mortality in the US is first and foremost the decision of the capitalist class to drop comprehensive, quality health coverage for its workers while lowering wages and shipping many jobs abroad. As a result, US workers, struggling with declining incomes, cannot afford to pay the astronomical insurance premiums, co-pays and high deductible for themselves or their family members. They cannot pay for expensive ‘physical therapy and rehabilitation’ after an injury and often opt for a prescription narcotic to deal with chronic pain while they continue to work.

Secondly, medical ‘providers’ (physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants) are under intense pressure from their employers to spend as little time as possible with patients suffering from chronic pain or injuries, especially those with limited resources. Their salaries and bonuses often depend on the number of patients they can see in a day. Writing prescriptions, especially narcotics, sedatives, anxiolytics and sleep aids save doctors and corporate-run hospitals time and money. Careful history taking, skillful physical examinations, experienced insights and long-term, supportive treatment plans with effective follow-up for an injured worker or chronic pain sufferer are rare indeed (and big money losers)!

Billions of synthetic opioid narcotics have been cheaply manufactured and prescribed at extraordinary levels of profits – far exceeding those of the so-called ‘block-buster’ drugs. The billionaire owners of pharmaceutical companies specializing in narcotic pain medications have hired legions of drug salespeople to work with doctors and pain clinics in a largely unregulated field, without any intervention or oversight form the capitalist state. The lobbyists for the pharmaceutical industry spent hundreds of millions of dollars on politicians and bureaucrats to protect their profits even as the number of overdose deaths among prescription opioid addicts grew. The total absence of any state intervention in this epidemic is unique in the industrialized world. This malevolent indifference proves that there is an unstated, but official, Social Darwinism operating at the highest levels, an ideology and practice once relegated to ardent fascists and eugenicists.

What Gives Big Capital Impunity for Murder?

Poisoning from prescribed narcotics, or fatal drug-alcohol-tranquilizer mixtures, comprise the single most important and preventable cause of early death among workers. Those workers, who have graduated from prescription drug addiction to street drugs, should still be included in this group of growing overdose deaths – because their addictions ultimately started in their local clinic. Although they have never met, the street dealers have their business affiliates in the corporate world and neatly scrubbed pain clinics.

(Reprinted from The James Petras Website by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Mortality, Opioids, Oxytocin, White Death 

Introduction: The cross border flood of millions of immigrants provokes profound political divisions, violence and the rise of mass movements challenging the unity of the European Union (EU) and the survival of the dominant political parties in the US and Europe.

Both the progressive pro-immigrant and rightwing anti-immigration parties and movements propose easy answers and attack their adversaries with political invective.

Both left and right engage in a losing war, based on historical omissions, abstract and muddle-headed assumptions and destructive proposals.

I will proceed by outlining a framework to understand the political, economic and security implications, which form the centerpiece for confronting immigration.

The Past and the Present

A serious discussion of immigration begins by focusing on the centrality of time and place, encouraging the flow and absorption of immigrants.

In the past, immigration flourished during periods when countries experienced: (1) rapid productive growth; (2)increasing labor demand; (3) trade unions and organizations capable of integrating new (immigrant) workers and protecting the on-going wage rates and conditions for all; (4) cross sectoral labor co-operation and solidarity lowering conflict between immigrant and native workers; (5) inclusive, equitable welfare programs; (6) local, not global wars and (7) violence confined outside of the US and the EU. During these periods, most immigration was confined within Europe and North America or between them.

These conditions could not eliminate competition and conflict but they limited its nature and time frame and allowed for successful integration.

If these conditions formed the basis for relatively peaceful immigration, their absence has intensified conflict amidst an increased flow of immigrants. This process has produced deep political problems. Progressives, who cite past ‘Ellis-Island’ type immigration experience and ignore the unfavorable current socio-economic conditions, are in denial. They dismiss the vast socio-economic and political changes, which have occurred and which make the absorption of new waves of immigrants extremely difficult.

Mass Immigration and Imperial Wars

The vast majority of refugees today are on the move because of Western wars. These wars are ‘total’ wars, designed to obliterate civilian, as well as military institutions and structures. In the last two decades, the US and EU have launched seven wars devastating the lives of once-cohesive and productive families, their homes and farms, jobs, institutions and security. Millions have been driven into exile.

The vast majority of new immigrants are refugees from countries targeted by the US-EU and their suffering has no visible end. During and after the Second World War, refugees suffered greatly, but were generally absorbed or repatriated and integrated into re-constructing their homes and societies. These favorable transitions were aided by an acute post-war labor shortage (over 40 million, mostly men, were killed in WWII) and the economic demands of post-war reconstruction. Western peace movements in the post-WWII past were effective and succeeded in limiting the scope and length of wars. Such peace movements no longer exist. Wars today are designed to be endless and total – in terms of the destruction of civilian infrastructure and national institutions.

Over the past 2 decades, the peace movements have disappeared. This is largely because the US and EU increasingly rely on the use of devastating bombing campaigns by their air and naval forces, which sharply limit Western casualties. Most anti-war movements were sustained by domestic anger at their own soldiers returning in ‘body bags’.

Current domestic economic conditions have sharply deteriorated. Capitalist regimes have imposed brutal economic policies increasing unemployment and low paying temporary job. Joblessness approaches 50% among young workers in Southern Europe – regions flooded with desperate refugees.

Moreover imperial policies have shifted steadily to increased military spending for wars while imposing austerity measures, slashing social programs at home.

In this context, new immigrants, especially refugees from imperial wars, compete for diminishing public resources and drastically reduced wages. Their competition effectively drives down the wages for all workers – sharply increasing the conditions for brutal exploitation.

The intense competition over jobs between native workers and immigrants is the result of capitalist wars and deliberate domestic economic policies to pay for these wars. This creates greater insecurity and hastens the downward mobility experienced by workers and the lower middle class.

In the past, such pressures and conditions led to workers protest, resistance and class conflict.

Today, trade unions cease to unify old and new workers into a strong organized force to confront the worst excesses of capital. Trade union membership has declined precipitously. The union bosses have exchanged militancy and independence for self-serving alliances with capitalist politicians. Trade unions do not protect the basic interests of workers and their families – they follow the lead of the ‘progressive’ pro-immigrant parties which are an arm of the militarist capitalist ruling class.

The workers are not racist when they resist further deterioration in their income and living standards: They are trying to protect their jobs, benefits and social programs for their families – in an environment of increasing insecurity and capitalist exploitation.

In the recent past, workers could rely on stable jobs and increasing wages because of the strong manufacturing domestic economy. These same workers, who are now labelled as ‘racist’, generally accepted immigrant workers at their plants and in their neighborhoods and schools. But this was in the decades before droves of refugees and destitute immigrants fleeing US-EU wars and destruction came to be viewed as threats to their livelihoods and children’s future.

Unlike the past, when international capital brought extracted raw materials back to the imperial country to be processed by local manufacturers, today US and EU multi-nationals have relocated their industries to overseas low wage countries, undermining jobs and living standards at home.

Commercial importers and retailers, like Wal-Mart, re-employ the displaced workers with offers of minimum pay, no benefits and contingent work.

‘Free Trade’ is not really ‘trade: Rather it is the easy outflow of investment and jobs and the retention of profits overseas in tax-havens.

US government-subsidized, high-tech corporate agro-exports have decimated ‘Third World’ farmers, forcing mass immigration of displaced peasants who then form a base to compete with domestic workers and lower the wages in the US and EU.

Progressives falsely argue, ‘ex post facto’, that migrant have merely taken the poorly-paid, unpleasant jobs that local workers rejected. The reality is more complex: In a previous era, most immigrants quickly moved into decently-paid jobs and were generally accepted by US workers.

(Reprinted from The James Petras Website by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Immigration, Poverty 
James Petras
About James Petras

James Petras is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York.

He is the author of more than 62 books published in 29 languages, and over 600 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has published over 2000 articles in nonprofessional journals such as the New York Times, the Guardian, the Nation, Christian Science Monitor, Foreign Policy, New Left Review, Partisan Review, TempsModerne, Le Monde Diplomatique, and his commentary is widely carried on the internet.

His publishers have included Random House, John Wiley, Westview, Routledge, Macmillan, Verso, Zed Books and Pluto Books. He is winner of the Career of Distinguished Service Award from the American Sociological Association’s Marxist Sociology Section, the Robert Kenny Award for Best Book, 2002, and the Best Dissertation, Western Political Science Association in 1968. His most recent titles include Unmasking Globalization: Imperialism of the Twenty-First Century (2001); co-author The Dynamics of Social Change in Latin America (2000), System in Crisis (2003), co-author Social Movements and State Power (2003), co-author Empire With Imperialism (2005), co-author)Multinationals on Trial (2006).

He has a long history of commitment to social justice, working in particular with the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement for 11 years. In 1973-76 he was a member of the Bertrand Russell Tribunal on Repression in Latin America. He writes a monthly column for the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada, and previously, for the Spanish daily, El Mundo. He received his B.A. from Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.


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