Revolution #50, June 11, 2006
George W — Extreme and Grotesque Expression of the Fundamental Contradiction of Capitalism
What does the system of imperialism mean for the people of the world?
It means that huge monopolies and financial institutions control the economy and political system—not just in one country but all over the world.
It means capitalist exploiters oppress billions of people all over the earth.
It means war. War that puts down resistance and rebellion of the oppressed. And war between rival imperialist states.
It means that imperialist countries have the power to totally annihilate the planet with the push of a nuclear button.
Under capitalism, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the daily necessities of life and everything else—is socially produced. That is, thousands, hundreds of thousands, and millions of people have to come together to produce things. It is no longer the case that things, in general, are produced by individuals, small shops, or even individual small factories. Today, the production of goods in society takes on global dimensions. You only need to look at the label on your clothes, your kids’ toys, food and just about everything else, to see how the production of goods is a worldwide process. And in many cases, even the production of one thing takes place in many different countries. For instance, the cotton in your shirt may be grown in one place, the cloth woven in another, the sewing done somewhere else.
But the fruits of all this labor are privately taken and owned by capitalist owners, businesses and corporations.
This contradiction, between socialized production and private appropriation, is the fundamental contradiction of capitalism—the thing that most of all defines and determines the motion and development of society today, where the capitalist system dominates the world.
And today, there is an extreme and grotesque expression of all this. He’s called George W. Bush.
How is this so?
Well, first of all start from the fact that W has his finger on the nuclear button (or as he would say, the “nuke-u-lar” button). W, as the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. military, has the power to literally blow huge chunks of the planet to smithereens.
What kind of world—what kind of economic and political relations in the world—have created such a situation, where W has such power?
Right now, Bush, as the president of the United States, is the top leader and acts in the interest of the U.S. Empire. An empire that is a global network of exploitation and plunder. An empire that is constantly expanding and contending with other imperialist powers for strategic position and advantage over regions, markets and resources.
This is an empire bound together by over $5 trillion in overseas investments—where huge profits are extracted from Third World countries on the basis of super-exploitation, leaving billions of people in brutal poverty, with nothing but the ability to work another day. This is an empire that spreads its tentacles of influence and control through global institutions it dominates, like the IMF (International Monetary Fund), the World Bank, and the WTO (World Trade Organization). That subordinates oppressed nations of the Third World to its economic needs and strategic interests. That enforces this subordination through military might, political power, economic domination and neo-colonial regimes that are controlled and propped up through military and economic aid.
So let's look at the contradiction between socialized production and private appropriation—and what this has to do with the fact that W has his finger on the nuclear button.
The vast and highly sophisticated technology and production capacity that exists today is a result of the collective labor of millions of people around the world. But this is all under the domination and control of a tiny handful of people in a small number of countries—with the United States being the most wealthy and powerful.
And the U.S. ruling class—with W as its top political leader—more than any other ruling class in the world, has amassed tremendous military power to reinforce this whole imperialist setup.
Where does this military power come from?
Just look at what the history of the United States has been about:
Wars waged. Indian peoples exterminated. Africans kidnapped and enslaved. Territory conquered and stolen. Peoples and countries throughout the world invaded, colonized, plundered, occupied, ripped off and dominated.
On the basis of exploiting people in every corner of the planet, the U.S. ruling class has amassed tremendous wealth. And a significant portion of this wealth has been, and continues to be, used for the research, development and production of weapons—and for the training and maintenance of a huge army to use such weapons. By 1965, 20% of the output of the U.S. economy was linked to the U.S. military. In 1985, 20-30% of engineers and scientists in the U.S. were directly engaged in the development of military technology. Such weapons of mass destruction are used to enforce domination and control over the very people whose life-blood provides the material foundation out of which the U.S. has built this whole empire in the first place.
What does this look like today? Is it true when we say that the world is extremely lopsided? That a handful of wealthy and powerful countries, especially the United States, dominates, exploits and oppresses the impoverished nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America?
- The 500 largest transnational corporations in the world control about 70 percent of world trade, 80 percent of foreign investment, and 30 percent of the world’s output of goods and services.
- In 1999, over $100 billion flowed from the poor to the rich countries of the world, in repayment and interest on loans. In 2001 and 2002, Zambia spent three times more on debt repayments than on health care, despite the fact that nearly 20% of Zambian adults were infected with AIDS.
- Four firms control more than 60% of the global market for coffee.
- Workers employed by maquiladora factories run by U.S. companies in Mexico earn one-tenth of the average manufacturing wage in the U.S.
- Since World War 2, the United States has used direct military force against other countries more than 70 times.
- The 2005 the U.S. defense budget (including money for the war and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan) was over 500 billion dollars. This is as big as the combined military budgets of the next 15 biggest countries. The U.S. government spends billions every month for the war and occupation in Iraq.
- There are over 700 US military bases in 130 foreign countries.
In the world today, there already exists the wealth, technology, and resources—including the potential of the people—to actually solve problems like poverty, disease, malnutrition, unemployment and homelessness. There is NO reason why humanity cannot begin to make huge strides in bringing about a society where the masses of people work together and do unbelievable things in transforming the world and themselves... There is no reason EXCEPT for the fact that a small class of people control the means of production and has a gigantic military machine to defend their rule. So, under imperialism, the masses are condemned to endless exploitation, suffering and violent suppression if they dare to rebel.
And in this whole setup, who presides over the U.S.—the most wealthy and most powerful imperialist country with the biggest military force? A demented strutting sadist who says god appointed him to remake the whole planet. A monster who has already killed tens of thousands of people to expand and defend U.S. interests. George W, who has been given this power by U.S. ruling class, which sits at the top of the whole class of imperialists that dominate the planet. W, who has the the power to unleash tremendous weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear bombs, to defend the U.S. empire.
This is why we can say that George W is an extreme and incredibly grotesque expression of the fundamental contradiction of imperialism.
If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.