What We’re Up Against

Over there on the right in those little blocks you will see a feed from “Stan Goff and Friends.” Recently, Mr. Goff published his “Civilization and War Rant.” Here is the meat of it.

Everything we have that we list in our catalogue of civilization is forged out of fraud, theft, and murder. The cities of the world are built up on fraud, theft, and murder. Show me the exception, and I’ll take it back.

The fine woods and metals and animal guts that make the orchestras, the stones and steel and trees for our libraries, the fabric and workmanship of our clothing, and the food displayed strategically along our supermarket shelves… they all require war. They are taken from cultures who first refuse to cooperate, then who are forced to cooperate or be depopulated.

The expansive and expanding heaps of technomass — of asphalt and glass and plastic and paint and shiny right-angles — are scraped out of hillsides and coastlines, with the corpses of biomes and simpler cultures left behind as the mizzens of this wretched thing called civilization. The more this disease has spread, the more it has manifested and magnified its most acute symptom: war.

[snip]

Conquest is a necessity to continue civilization. How long would this country last as it is without the oil from abroad? What if those abroad said, No? Be real, be realistic before you answer this question with pious abstractions. How long would things stay “stable” hereabouts if the supermarket shelves were suddenly bare? If the shutters went up on WalMart’s windows? How much of what we take for granted each and every day comes from someplace else, where the cop with the truncheon stands near the worker, and the sea lane is kept open by a Naval battle group?

As one with a reputation for boiling things down to their essence, I would call that description the best shorthand explanation of the nature of corporate imperialism I have seen. Cut that and paste it somewhere, if you ever need a succinct definition of what we’re talking about when we use the word “imperialism.”

Corporate imperialism is a social machine that harnesses human labor to process materials into consumer goods. The feel good ideology of the corporate imperialists is how much “opportunity” and “prosperity” this machine creates. They never answer a rather simple question. Western corporations have been mining, drilling, and clear cutting the third world for generations. How come none of the wealth they have loaded onto ships and sent here has managed to “trickle down” to the people living in those places these materials come from? How come any halfway decent chronicle of the conduct of the US government overseas — see, e.g., Chomsky’s Hegemony or Survival? — is a long catalogue of ruthless suppression of anyone in the third world who ever gets the crazy idea that they ought to benefit from the material wealth found underneath their own feet? The long march of progress is clear. For over a hundred years, western capital has exploited labor and raw materials in the third world. Poverty, ignorance, brutality and war are the result. Corporate imperialism benefits us, not them.

Here’s the next question, the one that comes after you answer Goff’s question about what happens when the locals say no. That next question is this? What happens when YOU say no? Maybe we can find a wingnut to spell it out for us. From a piece that appeared recently at American Thinker, we get this.

Much in the way of criticism of the United States comes in the form of accusations of imperialism. According to this view, echoed by everyone from Harold Pinter to Noam Chomsky to the Arab press, the U.S. has for decades run roughshod over the globe, in defiance of agreements and civilized norms. Enforcing its policies unilaterally and always for its own benefit, the U.S. has effectively colonized huge swathes of the planet, if not through direct military action, then by economic exploitation or diplomatic chicanery. No one dares raise a hand against this; any show of independence is met by cruise missiles at the very least, if not armored divisions or carrier battle groups. Today it’s Iraq, tomorrow… who knows? America is the third-millennial Rome, brutal, implacable, infinitely corrupt.

Yep. That’s about the size of it. In typical conservative fashion, this wingnut thinks it enough to repeat the argument in order to refute it. Referring to Chomsky, he never once — and I’ve seen anyone — demonstrate that Chomsky’s representation of the basic facts are somehow erroneous. I mean Mr. Dunn, just tell me yes or no? Has the US government, at the behest of its corporate clients, destabilzed, undermined or outright invaded any democratically elected governments in the third world? Here, let me refresh your recollection. Iran, 1953. Guatemala, 1954. Vietnam, 1963. Brazil, 1964. Chile, 1973. Bali, 1979. Haiti, 1990. Venezuela, 2002. That’s not getting into the dozens of authoritarian regimes we have installed and propped up in places like say, Iraq. What was Salvadore Allende’s crime other than believing the copper mines in his country ought to benefit the people Chile, first? Just demonstrate that our facts are somehow incorrect.

But they never do. Instead JR Dunn tells us this.

But the world’s anti-Americans should take care that their fantasies don’t catch up with them. Myths have a way of coming true. If believed in long enough, and hard enough, and by enough people, they can come to pass, if only by limiting the possible responses of the subject in question. Tell someone they’re an oppressor often enough, and they may become an oppressor, out of spite, or anger, or simple weariness. Useful the Roman stereotype may be, but it can prove very dangerous.

Threat noted, JR. Now kiss my ass. Let’s something straight, particularly with reference to the current Iraq debacle. We aren’t “limiting the possible responses of the subject in question.” If you support that travesty — and indeed, if you support corporate imperialism, in general — you only have one response. You have to stay in Iraq as long as it takes. You may even have to widen the war against Iran. Peace is not an option, and my pointing that out isn’t the reason. You have limited your own response — just as some other corporate imperialists like say, Brent Scowcroft and Henry Kissinger, said that you would.

Thus do we come to the heart of the matter. The neocons led the US government into this quagmire. Now the US government “can’t leave,” or at any rate, it can’t leave on any kind of terms any neocon will find acceptable. If the US military pulls out of Iraq, it hands regional hegemony over to Iran, and permanently sours the US relationship with Saudi Oilrabia. As for the rest of the world, they get yet another lesson that you can indeed, beat the “mightiest nation on earth” — which of course, you can. Any sufficiently determined insurgent can defeat any invader. When the invader is a nation populated by fundamentally decent people who vote — however ignorant they are concerning the policies of their own government — well, let’s just say that tends to limit “the possible responses of the subject in question.”

All of which leads to the neocon’s ultimatum. We must support the “war” — such as it is. We all have to do our patriotic duty and get behind Dubya as he tries to dig his way out of his own mess. Western civilization itself — see Stan Goff’s description, above — is at stake. And they’re right. Corporate imperialism is in full crisis. Loss of the Middle East spells lost control over the oil fields there. That paves the way for transitioning petrodollars into Euros, which destabilizes our currency, leads to a collapse of our bond market, and causes who knows what other collateral damage to our economic position — which is, afterall, the whole point. “We could lose everything” they tell us. And they aren’t kidding. The slaughter must continue. That’s what JR Dunn and rest of the flying monkeys are trying to tell you. Make no mistake, what they visit on the people of the third world, they will visit on you, if they think they need to — and if they think they can get away with it.

Here is the bottom line. The United States is indeed at a crossroads. The corporate interests that hijacked our democracy, have dug themselves into a hole. They face not just one, but several, unsolvable problems. They expect you to get in line and help them out. Don’t. The neoconservatives and their corporate puppetmasters need to be defeated. The fact that the corporate imperialists have beaten themselves makes taking that position all the easier. It is not my fault, or the fault of any other opponent of corporate imperialism, that they find themselves in this untenable predicament. They brought it on themselves. I am under no obligation to enable them, I refuse to enable them, and here’s where it gets good. They can’t make me enable them. As for the American soldiers doing their bidding, I have one wish for them. I want them to come home. Tomorrow.

Not one more day. Not one more dollar. Not one more dead American soldier, and while we’re at it . . . not one more dead Iraqi civilian.

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