Imperialist Gangsters on the Prowl
First appeared at Skewed News.
(Please note: all quotes are paraphrased).
They scan the horizon constantly, seeking the next target. Cuba looks soooo tasty. They bide their time, dreaming of the day their advances will inevitably be accepted, however reluctantly.
It starts out with a sympathetic glance, an offer of help.
“I’ll teach your children to read,” murmurs Saudi Arabia to Bangladesh.
First they soften you up with missionaries and non-profits, offering free education, health care, economic assistance.
“Here are some pharmaceuticals to end the scourge of malaria,” purrs Bill Gates to Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique.
You don’t want to seem like a jerk to these self-proclaimed idealistic do-gooders and innocent servants of God, and your people could certainly use the help, so you accept these gifts. Some of it fucks you up though, like the food aid that floods the market and drives your own farmers out of business. Also you have this bad feeling: have they tested these medicines before giving them to your kids, or are they testing them on your kids? But your benefactor insists that it’s all offered in kindness. Refusing would insult their generosity, not to mention make it look like you don’t care about the welfare of your people.
Back at home, the benefactors justify the outflow of funds by pointing out that most of it boomerangs, making its way back into the pockets of the benefactors’ own firms and agencies (minus a few crumbs for potentially useful recipient bureaucrats to line their pockets too).
“Here’s some corn to feed the hungry,” Monsanto breathes into the ear of Mexico.
The courtship heats up.
“If we build some hotels along your coast, we could give your people jobs serving tourists. You need jobs, right?” asks the Clinton Foundation, apparently awash in sincerity. Hillary might add, “We’ll open up an industrial park too, so all the people evicted from the land we build it on can earn a living sewing clothes for US sweatshops, I mean, respected firms. By the way, thanks for the gold mine permit you gave my little brother Tony.”
You accept these things with good grace. Because after decades or centuries of being beaten down by colonialism, which—well, let’s all move on from the past, shall we? The point is, your people could really use the help, and you may gain some political prestige from being the broker, plus perhaps you’ll receive a modest kickback that wouldn’t hurt anyone. Turning down offers of assistance to preserve abstract principles like “dignity” and “self-reliance” would only be selfish.
Then come the offer of loans.
“We see you’re still struggling,” says the supremely sympathetic IMF and European Central Bank to Greece, “so let us just start you on a small loan that will strengthen your economy. Goldman Sachs says you’re good for it. They’re experts. If they say you can pay it back, it’s solid! Once you’re on better footing, you pay it back with a little interest, then we’re even.”
“You have all this money now,” muses Germany, France and the US to Greece. “Why not import our goods? It’s give-and-take, we help you and you help us, and we all benefit.” It sounds so reasonable. “We’ve got plenty of warplanes and other military hardware you probably need.”
Having access to unlimited goods and services helps everyone, obviously. Global free trade agreements are finagled accordingly.
As you import more than you export, however, you start to lose ground.
Now they’ve got you.
“Listen, we loaned you this money in good faith,” say Germany’s politicians to Greece, “and you fell behind in your payments. We’re willing to bail you out (well, not we, exactly, and not our banks, but we’ll make our people do it. They’re pretty pissed). But you’ve got to prove you’re serious about being responsible. So you’re going to have to implement some serious austerity measures. For a start, you can cut pensions, wages, health care, and sell off your infrastructure. We’re not asking.”
This arrangement doesn’t come with an exit. Next come the threats. “We’ll make your economy scream,” says Nixon to Chile. “You’ll build our oil pipeline or we bury you under a carpet of bombs,” says Bush to Afghanistan. “We’ll kick you out of the Eurozone and you’ll starve,” says Europe to Greece.
If you withhold your cooperation, they’ll make an example of you. Again and again and again. “We’re spreading democracy by eradicating dictators, strongmen, terrorists,” asserts the United States to El Salvador, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Korea, Vietnam, Honduras, Iraq, Indonesia, Cambodia, Argentina, China, Guam, the Dominican Republic, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Panama, Libya, Germany, Lebanon, Somalia, Liberia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Hawaii, Cuba, Afghanistan, Haiti, Bolivia…and on and on and on and on.
These gangsters don’t rule the block; they rule the world. Imperialist-capitalists accept no boundaries, no limits. Voting is not enough—our exercise of democratic rights within the framework they dominate is always going to be constrained by whatever is in their interests. And words are not enough. They don’t hear the word “No.” Look at what happened in Greece. Voters elected a supposedly socialist prime minister who promised to reject euro-dominated austerity, and then later voted overwhelmingly against further austerity measures. It’s not difficult to determine what the people want: no austerity measures! Now that same leader, Alexis Tsipras, is imposing…even worse austerity. “Oxi” might as well have remained unsaid—they just rub our noses in it. If we don’t organize and fight back, they will suck us dry.