A Conspiracy of Capital By William Bowles

29 June 2004

A series of events have occurred over the past months/years that surely should have even those amongst us most reluctant to question US and UK policies, wondering about the real nature of the USUK, their objectives and the means they use to achieve them.

Of course, the apologists for the imperium pour scorn and derision on those who cry conspiracy, it’s the standard formula, relegating such views to the outer reaches of reality.

However, before you dismiss what I am about to articulate out of hand, consider the following:

With remarkable yet boring regularity, events happen at just the ‘right’ time to either justify a policy or actions of the USUK or to divert our attention away from an event that could either lead to embarrassing exposure or lead many (more) to question the actions of our leaders.

Whether it is the by now serious questions that even mainstream observers are asking about the events leading up to and after 9/111, the massive disinformation campaign mounted to justify the invasion and occupation of the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq or, the intentional panic-inducing ‘alerts’ about terrorist actions that never take place, the ‘convenient’ beheadings, bombings, abductions, threats and other assorted events too numerable to mention, that occur at just the ‘right time’ to get us to look in another direction, reveal an imperium in desperate disarray. So desperate I contend, that it is prepared to run the risk of being exposed as an instigator of events that are designed to justify its policies and hope that by demonising all who question with the tag ‘conspirator’ or ‘friend of terrorism’ that people will swallow the lies.

And understandably, most people are extremely reluctant to view their governments in such a Machiavellian light, for to do so is to take a ‘step too far’. A step, that once taken puts one on a course that if followed, fatally undermines the credibility of the state to rule. Yet this is precisely what has happened over the past year.

The first question to ask is why the use of the label ‘conspiracy’ to describe the actions of a desperate state? Is it a conspiracy to create a policy based on lies used to justify the invasion of Iraq? When do the actions of government stop being policy and start being a conspiracy and is there any difference?

My Concise Oxford Dictionary definition of ‘to conspire’ is as follows:

‘Combine secretly (with) for unlawful purposes…concur (to do); plot, devise’.

A pretty accurate description of the events of the past years on the part of the USUK governments, for did they not combine secretly to concoct (devise) a series of lies to justify the various and sundry invasions?

Conspiring secretly exactly describes the programme embarked upon by Blair that resulted in the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, for when challenged for the evidence, we were told that the proof was not for our eyes or indeed, even for the eyes of Blair’s ally, the US2. What else but conspiracy describes the total fabrication of Colin Powell’s concoction presented to the UN? What else but a conspiracy describes the collusion between crooks like Ahmed Chalabi and the Bush government to deceive the American public into supporting the invasion?

Yet in spite of this litany of lies so obvious to millions, for what’s left of the Left, the current situation must surely be extremely frustrating and illustrates several fundamental shifts that have taken place in our post-Soviet world, all of which have their roots in the 1970s and the counter-attack by capital on what had been a central motif since the end of WWII, namely the struggle to repossess the wealth of the planet by the people who rightfully own it, those who inhabit the countries of the former colonial empires. A struggle that reached its high point with the defeat of the US in Vietnam, a country that ironically portrayed itself as being anti-colonial.

Understanding the processes that have led to our current situation is by no means easy for it is composed of many interlocking and often what appear to be quite contradictory strands, all of which are masked by a conspiracy of deceit and disinformation, not only on the part of the state but also on the part of the media, who openly collude in the fabrication.

Firstly, the defeat of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War would appear to be a victory for capital. What then accounts for the onslaught on the poor of the world if indeed, the world is now at the mercy of imperialism? Without opposition, the world would appear to be the capitalist’s proverbial oyster.

Central to the dilemma is the crisis of capital that the defeat of the Soviet Union did not solve. If anything it compounded the contradictions, for without an ‘enemy’ to drive capitalism forward, it was forced to invent a new one eg, the ‘war on terror’. To understand this we need to comprehend the driving force of capitalism that essentially is one of ‘expand or die’ – by finding new markets or wiping out competing capitalisms either through trade wars or ultimately, the real thing.

Intimately connected to this process is the fact that for the capitalist, the rate of profit tends to fall over time, requiring that the cost of production be cut, either through reducing wages, improving the efficiency of production and of course, finding new markets for products. Because this is not something the leading capitalist economies have any real control over, ultimately, the process ends up with an over-accumulation of capital that has to find an outlet, somewhere. War of course is one, totally unproductive method of consuming surplus capital and one most people strongly object to. Persuading people to go to war on behalf of capital requires considerable effort, most of which consists of pure invention.

The US as the world’s leading capitalist power occupies a unique position, firstly through its possession of overwhelming military superiority with which to put the frighteners on the world, but more importantly, it is the role of the dollar in underwriting – effectively subsidising – the US economy that has enabled it to control the world’s trade and to dictate to the poor countries of the world, the terms of trade through the various structures it has created such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organisation.

For ultimately, without access to an endless supply of cheap raw materials, especially oil (and increasingly finished goods) extracted from or manufactured in the poor countries of the world, the insatiable demands of capitalism cannot be met.

Moreover, the US is not alone, there are competing capitalisms most notably the European Union that with the establishment of the Euro threatens the hegemony of the dollar3. It is important to note here that countries such as Iraq had switched from the dollar to the Euro for payment for its oil, largely because the dollar is losing its value. Iran has switched and Russia and Venezuela have also muttered about switching to the Euro for their oil payments. Should this happen, it would lead to the crash of the US economy, for without the (petro) dollar those countries and institutions who possess vast amounts of it, would be forced to ‘cash in their chips’. A run on the dollar would, as many poor countries have experienced with their own currencies, be calamitous for the US. Of course, competing capitalist countries have no desire to see a collapse of the US economy due to the interconnectedness brought about by the globalisation of capital.

The major capitalist powers then are caught between Iraq and a hard place, even those in opposition to the invasion such as France and Germany and the reasons are pretty obvious, for to reveal the underlying reasons for events would also reveal their role in the proceedings and the real nature of the capitalist economic system. Hence what might be called a ‘conspiracy of capital’ is at work, with each capitalist power, for their own reasons, going along with the charade.

Why then, is the Left bereft of ideas beyond that of ‘moral outrage’? For it is obvious that far from being a new situation, we are actually reliving a terrible parody of the past, albeit with unimaginable power compared to earlier periods and confronted with a crisis that is truly global in proportions. The crisis of over-accumulation that Marx described so well and all the attendant contradictions – unemployment, slumps, war and so forth – revisits us with a vengeance.

In part, I think the answer lies in the fact that events have outstripped us. Whilst we (the Left that is) still argue over issues that largely concern the nation state, in doing so, we cling to outmoded concepts. Is it any wonder that in the UK for example, one is hard-pressed to find a Left organisation that has the foresight to realise that with all its contradictions and inevitably the struggles that will (still) need to be conducted, the idea that the EU and the Euro is ‘progressive’ finds little support let alone serious analysis.

This is not to say that the struggle within nations ceases, but what it does mean is that the struggle needs to be re-contextualised and set within a global struggle. For this is the reality that capitalism has created whether we like it or not, or whether it conforms to ideas that were largely formulated for a reality that has long since ceased to exist.

Notes

1. London Daily Mail review of  ”The New Pearl Harbor” by Sue Reid

2. ‘A Conspiracy of Silence’ by William Bowles14/07/03

3. William Clark, “Revisited-The Real Reasons for the Upcoming War in Iraq: A Macroeconomic and Geostrategic Analysis of the Unspoken Truth.” See also “Oil, the Dollar, and US Prosperity,” Richard Benson, SFGroup, August 8, 2003 www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/RRiraqWar.html

And Martin Walker,“U.S distracted – and the world changed,” UPI, December 26 2003 www.upi.com/print.cfm?StoryID=20031218-064204-4007r

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