In 1922 longtime Senator and
American capitalist Richard Franklin Pettigrew published, "Triumphant
Plutocracy: The Story of American Public Life from 1870 -- 1920", the years
Pettigrew was intimately involved with the plays and players of the post-Civil
War "Gilded Age" and WWI eras. Pettigrew presented himself as a staunch
opponent of America's increasingly imperialist aggressions against Hawaii, the
Philippines, Cuba, and Central American and other target nations. The
robber barons had already appropriated the wealth of the American continent so
latter day capitalists had to look further afield for new territory to own and
exploit. Today this process is euphemistically called "free trade" and "economic
development", to maintain the brainwashed American public's support for these
"virtuous' acts of financial sabotage and economic plunder.
Pettigrew believed imperialism was inconsistent with American republican government that is morally based on the idea of a universal human right to self-determination. But from the perspective of American capitalists and their fellow travelers in political power, the surest road to fabulous personal wealth was to enjoin the US government to engage the US military in the conquest of small weak nations so that the capitalists could simply "appropriate" the land and resources of those nations and force the populations into wage slavery, producing foods and mineral wealth for export to the American and European Imperial homelands. And fabulous profits and family dynasties for the appropriators.
After US overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii's native government, the Republic of Hawaii's first and only President was Sanford B. Dole, whose name you are probably familiar with from the pineapple cans in your cupboard. A pineapple Emperor, fruit of ignominy. That's what "capitalism" looks like.
Never confuse capitalism with "free markets". Capitalism is about power and wealth accumulation by any and all means. The term "free markets" is a snow job, a propaganda slogan, a veil of economic and political legitimacy to cover the reality of capitalism: Capitalism is concentrated financial and economic power ruling by legalistic force and stolen ownership, no different in effect from conquest by armies and rule by imperial governors. Except capitalists steal by wielding money, not armies. Markets are to be "captured", not "freed", which is why to this day American capitalists wage war on any nation whose resources the capitalists do not yet own.
Imperial Rome allowed conquered people broad latitude to practice their own economics and cultures and religions. But if you stirred up trouble or failed to pay your oppressive tributes and taxes they crucified you. There are limits to the "liberties' of the conquered.
Modern financially conquered nations become colonial vassal states, their natural and human resources pressed into economic-cum-financial wealth creation for their owner/masters. The national income is diverted to interest payments to bankers' and corporate profits. This is not exactly feudalism, as the rulers are now corporations and plutocrats (rule by the rich) rather than aristocrats (rule by the blood heirs of territorial conquerors), and land is no longer the primary basis of wealth. Now the populations are repressed by debt and economic oligopolies, not by the impossibility of escape from serfdom or by the ready broadswords of occupying armies. But what we have today is certainly neofeudalism, which is rule by banker control of money and by corporate oligopoly ownership of all valuable or strategic resources and industries. Free markets are not "ruled" by anyone. But we are ruled, and in every scalable, oligopolizable industry our markets are not free.
The US itself, and the foreign nations subsequently conquered by US capitalists, are administered by bankers and corporate plutocrats who exercise financial and economic dominion, rather than by kings and lords exercising their divine right to own countries and rule nations. Bankers and industrial corporations write the legislation that "regulates' their industry. Politicians serve their moneyed masters, not the people of the nation. The owners, not the democratic governments, make the rules. Military force always lurks in the immediate background should any people or nation resist "opening their markets" to capitalist predation. Uncooperative political leaders are summarily deposed or assassinated and "regime change" implemented.
The immediate weapon of mass destruction used to defeat and enslave nations is the US$, in its post-WWII role as the global trade currency. Nations must use US dollars to pay for goods, especially oil, that they purchase from other nations. Oil is the master commodity without which modern large scale industry, transportation and trade cannot function. Wall St bankers create those US dollars as loans of credit money for their plutocratic and corporatist allies who are thereby empowered to buy up the wealth of nations "on credit".
First the bankers indebt the target nation with US$ loans for grand "development' schemes, then they engineer a collapse of the prices of that nation's exports so the nation can't earn enough trade dollars to pay the debts, then the IMF rides in to the rescue with its "privatization" solution to the debt crisis, then the bankers lend their corporatist allies the money to buy up that nation's infrastructure and resources at bankruptcy sale prices.
Hey Presto! Ownership of the nation is transferred into the loving embrace of the corporate capitalists who extract all the profits from the people's production of wealth, and monopoly profitability guarantees that the corporations can pay loan interest to their banker backers. The people are taxed to pay perpetual interest on their government's foreign bond debts, bonds largely held by banks who simply created the money to buy the bonds. And the people pay tribute in the form of fees charged by the new capitalist owners to use the very utilities and infrastructure that the people built up with their own hands.
Marx thought capitalists would build up the means of production then the workers would overthrow the capitalists and appropriate that productive infrastructure for themselves. In fact the people built up the infrastructure then the capitalists came in and appropriated it. Meanwhile the bankers are in the background appropriating the capitalists. Money-creating bankers rule from the arcane heights atop this pyramid of power.
That's the neo-conquistador method, currently known as "neoliberalism". Naomi Klein calls it "disaster capitalism", and even Wall St refers to the money that swoops in on the kill as "vulture funds". As long as nations need dollars to trade with one another, and as long as US chartered bankers are allowed to create those dollars as loans of credit money, the US regime that creates the dollars reigns supreme over the world.
Chavez was a baddie, distributing Venezuela's oil wealth to the benefit of his people and the Latin American region rather than concentrating the wealth for the benefit of local and foreign capitalists. No neoliberal tears were shed for Hugo's passing. Gaddafi was uniting Africa under a new non-US$ international trade currency, the gold dinar, which would cut the US$ out of the action. So Gaddafi had to be murdered by NATO and Libya's central bank had to be "privatized".
Iran is likewise guilty of maintaining a non-BIS* affiliated central bank and selling oil in currencies other than the dollar, so Iran's SWIFT codes that enable access to international banking is shut off to cripple its economy and Iran is obliquely threatened with nuclear holocaust by the US. If North Korea is China's mad dog by proxy in the Asian Pacific, then Israel performs the same role for the US in the Middle East. Of course Iran's ally Syria is besieged to isolate and conquer. China is internationalizing its currency so that nations, including oil and resource rich Russia next door, can trade with China without needing dollars. So Obama launches the nuclear fleet to surround China in his "Asian pivot". And China's mad dog barks madly.
Capitalism is imperialism and imperialism is capitalism. Capitalism is the opposite of free markets. Capitalism is simply the less obvious power of control by money rather than overt control by military might. It is velvet imperialism rather than gunboat imperialism, though the gunboats are never far from the scene of the imperialist financial crimes committed against the nations.
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