Nations Built on Lies
Volume 1 – How the US Became Rich
© Larry Romanoff, October, 2021
Part 2 – Colonisation, Labor, and Slavery
Contents Part 2
Democracy Creates Rich Elites, not Wealthy Nations
Colonialism: The Bitter Truth
Cultivating Income Disparity
The American view of US Economic Supremacy in 1948
The American view of US Economic Supremacy in 2010
Labor, The Curse of Capitalism
We need consider that the general context of wealth contains several discrete dimensions which are mostly mutually exclusive. A kingdom may be rich in the sense that its monarch possesses great wealth and power, but that says nothing about the individuals who live in that kingdom since the sovereign’s wealth may derive entirely from having stripped the population bare. Our population is also divided into dimensions in terms of social classes. Every nation, rich or poor, has a wealthy upper class, which tells us nothing about the relative wealth of the nation as a whole. If a country has a small and shrinking middle class or a substantial portion of the lower class living in poverty, we must refine our understanding of what it really means to be a rich nation. These cases, which are indicative of a large income disparity and where a relative handful are rich while most are not, would not meet our understanding of a rich country.
Nations subject to unregulated capitalism will generally fit the definition above, with a wide income disparity containing a relative handful of rich but with the wealth pyramid very quickly declining to poverty. An unregulated capitalistic country like the US might well have much or most of that wealth resident in its large corporations and their elite owners, wealth which does not filter down to the workers. As an example, we might think of Apple, with a few very wealthy executives and several hundred untaxed billions sitting offshore, but the average Apple worker is far from rich by most definitions and the million or so young people who actually make and assemble Apple’s products would qualify as impoverished. In contrast, a nation with a more socialistic bent will have a smaller layer of extreme wealth and a much higher standard of living for the entire remainder, with a much larger middle class and little or no poverty.
So, what do we really mean when we say a country is rich? That the government has enormous revenues or the sovereign has great wealth? That its corporations are hugely profitable and its bankers extremely wealthy? Or do we mean that everyone in the country, including the lower classes, shares in that wealth, that no one lives in abject poverty? In the end, it is not the extreme wealth of a few but the living standard of the entire population that we must consider. To obtain a realistic appreciation of the wealth of a nation, we need examine not the top echelons of society who are always rich everywhere, but instead the financial security status of the less privileged of that society.
In our exercise here, to examine how the US became rich, we should keep these dimensions in mind because in all but one of the examples, the attitudes, actions and events that contributed to making the US what many choose to call a “rich” country, were directed solely to the benefit of the American elite and primarily to certain segments of even that class. If you are an American, it should become abundantly clear as you review these events that the almost ferocious determination to make America rich, did not have you in mind and, if you benefited at all from those events, that was what the elites would consider collateral damage and was by no means the intent.
Democracy Creates Rich Elites, not Wealthy Nations
Americans have been steeped since birth in the theology that their nation is rich because their democracy provided the seedbed for a people who are entrepreneurial, innovative and resourceful, and their freedoms created the fuel for the engine of American competitive excellence. But if we remove the rose-colored glasses and look past the propaganda, there appears to be little or no reality-based support for these claims. Neither of the above provide compelling reasons or make a convincing narrative to explain the wealth of either the US or the Western nations generally. The truth lies elsewhere.
We are often presented with the claim that the world’s rich nations are (almost) all electoral democracies, this national wealth offered as proof of superiority of the political system. But correlation is not causality, and there is no evidence to suggest that the American form of multi-party politics makes any useful contribution to the wealth of anyone except those in position to accept patronage in one form or another. It is also true that many of these nations or regions became rich under what we like to call authoritarian governments, moving to alternate forms much later.
Moreover, if electoral politics are a positive force for national wealth, this force is not equally distributed because we can find some powerful counter-examples. The first of these would be India – ‘the world’s largest democracy’ – which is hardly a shining example of wealth and success. And in fact, the world possesses an abundance of poor democracies, there being many nations with a combination of the basic attributes of multi-party politics and a pathetically-low per-capita GDP. The nations that have embraced capitalism appear to generally do well, and it would seem if there is any correspondence between national wealth and any operating system, that system would be capitalism rather than electoral politics.
Colonialism: The Bitter Truth
It generally seems to escape public notice that the US and most other Western nations share in common one additional trait besides electoral politics and capitalism, and that trait is colonisation. America and the Western European nations did not become rich because they were democratic or capitalist; they acquired virtually all their wealth by preying upon and plundering all the weaker nations of the world. The facts are too clear; there is no way to spin this away. The British Empire thrived for centuries by invading and plundering countless nations, massacring untold millions of people in the process. The French, the Italians, the Spaniards, the Portuguese, the Dutch, the Germans, the Turks, all did the same. As did the Americans, in their own style.
The amount of existing documentation on the rape and plunder of these nations would likely consist of a stack reaching to the moon. A list of the inhuman and barbaric acts committed by these colonisers would likely reach to the moon and back again. If it had not been for the conquering and colonising of all those nations in the Americas, in Asia and Africa, in the Middle East, and the plundering of their wealth, all of these vaunted capitalist Western democracies would be today as poor as Angola, despite all their creativity, freedom and democracy.
The British, the Europeans and the Americans approached the logistical problems of colonisation in different ways. The British were the most hands-on managers of their colonies while the Americans found a way to accomplish the same result by remote-control. But the results were the same: poverty, misery and oppression for the vanquished and colonised, and untold wealth for the colonial Empires. There is no way to escape this brutal truth. The record of the Western nations in deposing governments and destroying nations for the sake of their colonial plundering, should lead thinking and feeling human beings to tears. The responsibility for this perpetual poverty rests with the Western nations that invaded and colonised these countries, stripping them of their wealth and resources, and becoming immensely wealthy in the process. For more than 100 years, using its military and later the CIA, the US government installed compliant dictators in dozens of the world’s poorest nations while US multinationals extracted hundreds of billions in profits from the most meager of investments.
There is no way to avoid the fact that a major cause of US economic supremacy today is its military and political colonisation, the plundering of nations guaranteed by the installation of brutal military dictatorships. About 50 nations suffered such a fate under the propaganda guise of defending democracy or protecting American interests. This is how the US became rich. It was not, as most Americans believe, by being ‘free’ or by having ‘democracy’, or by being smarter or more inventive than other nations. Instead, it was all done with illegal and violent military force, virtually enslaving many dozens of countries as brutal military colonies, using these nations as cows to milk. America simply cannibalised much of the world. As Samuel Huntington so factually wrote in his book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, “The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact; non-Westerners never do.” (1) (2)
It began with the Dulles brothers (3) (4) (5) and the United Fruit Company (6) (7) (8) (9) in Central America, with ITT helping to finance the overthrow of local governments (10) (11) (12) (13) (14) (15), and continued from there. All of South and Central America, much of Africa and Asia, were all exposed to this brand of American ‘freedom and democracy’. By the 1920s, the US mining giant Anaconda owned all of Chile’s copper – the world’s most productive copper mines – extracting billions in profits while Chile remained in poverty. When Chile acted to nationalise its copper mines, the US immediately sent in the CIA to assassinate the President, overthrow the government, and install Augusto Pinochet as puppet dictator, a man whose brutality was legendary but who would permit Anaconda to continue its program of “plundering for peace”.
For many decades, Britain, France and the US kept Iran in virtual poverty, stripping that nation of all its petroleum reserves to fund their empires while leaving almost nothing for Iran itself. (16) (17) (18) (19) (20) When that nation decided to nationalise its oil industry to take charge of its own national resources, the US sent in the CIA to overthrow Iran’s duly-elected government and installed the Shah as President – one of the most brutal and inhuman dictators in modern memory, but one who would permit the Western imperial nations to continue freely plundering Iran’s resources.(21) (22) (23) (24) (25) (26) (27) In Zaire, Western fear of losing control of the gold, diamonds and cobalt resources, prompted yet another US overthrow, again by the CIA, this time by assassinating another duly elected leader and installing yet another brutal dictator amenable to Western bribery.(28) (29) (30) From the 1920s to the 1960s, American oil companies, with constant US military interventions, depleted all of Colombia’s known oil reserves, making billions in profits and leaving the nation with no known oil. US President Coolidge orchestrated the overthrow of the government of Guatemala after a refusal to grant more concessions to the Rockefellers’ United Fruit Company that already owned half the arable land in the country. Particularly in Central and South America, military imperialism produced enormous profits and economic growth for the US while keeping those countries buried in poverty. All American presidents have employed the propaganda slogan of “making the world safe for democracy” as a pretense and prelude to yet another illegal war of colonisation, but President Wilson most clearly explained the real meaning of this term in a lecture at Columbia University in 1907 when he said:
“Since the manufacturer insists on having the world as a market, the flag of his nation must follow him and the doors of nations which are closed against him must be battered down. Concessions obtained by financiers must be safeguarded by ministers of state even if the sovereignty of unwilling nations be outraged in the process.” (31)
“Applying the combined resources of the US industrial and banking cartels, every available mass medium was harnessed to create and disseminate stories about the virtues of the US and the “American way of life”. This enormously successful campaign persuaded ordinary Americans to work, fight and die for the speculative advantage of the US war machine. “The greatest mystery … to be overcome is the apparent contradiction between America’s proclaimed principles and the intensity of its covert operations practices.” Philip Agee once called the CIA, “capitalism’s invisible army” (32) (33). In fact, his conclusion after quitting the [CIA] was that capitalism could never be maintained without an extensive military and secret police force to suppress opposition to it. Valentine’s autopsy of the Vietnamese Phoenix Program starts by recognising that the CIA was (and is) central to US corporate policy. “In Vietnam the Company developed … Phoenix as an intensive corporate management and public relations campaign for what is called “nation-building”. The overall aim of “nation-building” is to destroy the indigenous and nationalist infrastructure – what Americans would consider to be their state and local government together with all the social organisations and networks by which communities are organised and maintained – and replace it with one that operates on the same basis as US corporate infrastructure. The CIA was developing what would later be called – also euphemistically – private-public partnerships. In fact, free trade meant that US corporations deliberately avoided the costs of governing economically profitable territories. Instead, what has been called “an archipelago of empire” was preferred. This meant expanding the British principle of indirect rule by creating and supporting nominally independent regimes that bear all the social costs through extortionate taxation, while assuring that labor and natural resources are freely accessible to US corporations.” (T.P. Wilkinson / August 9th, 2014)
Indicative of the savage brand of American capitalism is an October 1970 cable to CIA operatives in Chile from Henry Kissinger’s staff, in response to Chile’s election of a new government determined to recover control of the country’s economy from American multinationals:
“It is firm and continuing policy that [the democratically elected government of] Allende be overthrown by a coup…. We are to continue to generate maximum pressure toward this end utilizing every appropriate resource. It is imperative that these actions be implemented clandestinely and securely so that the USG [United States Government] and American hands be well hidden.” Edward M. Korry, the US Ambassador to Chile, wrote: “Not a nut or bolt shall reach Chile under Allende. Once Allende comes to power, we shall do all within our power to condemn Chile and all Chileans to utmost deprivation and poverty…” (34)
From Howard Zinn’s Empire or Humanity? What the Classroom Didn’t Teach Me About the American Empire:
“Reading outside the classroom … I began to fit the pieces of history into a larger mosaic. What at first had seemed like a purely passive foreign policy in the decade leading up to the First World War now appeared as a succession of violent interventions: the seizure of the Panama Canal zone from Colombia, a naval bombardment of the Mexican coast, the dispatch of the Marines to almost every country in Central America, occupying armies sent to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The motive of the U.S. establishment … was described early in 1941 by Henry Luce, multi-millionaire owner of Time, Life, and Fortune magazines, as the coming of The American Century. The time had arrived, he said, for the United States To exert upon the world the full impact of our influence, for such purposes as we see fit, and by such means as we see fit. We can hardly ask for a more candid, blunter declaration of imperial design.” (35)
Zinn wrote that the history books and speeches invariably claim the US military is an “instrument of civilisation”, not of aggression, and that the US is merely spreading freedom, human rights and democracy around the world. However, he then added, “For the people of the United States, and indeed for people all over the world, those claims sooner or later are revealed to be false. The rhetoric, often persuasive on first hearing, soon becomes overwhelmed by horrors that can no longer be concealed: the bloody corpses … the torn limbs … the millions of families driven from their homes …”
Robert Bowman, an American bishop and a Vietnam Veteran, wrote:
“We are not hated because we practice democracy, value freedom, or uphold human rights. We are hated because our government denies these things to people in Third World countries whose resources are coveted by our multinational corporations. That hatred we have sown has come back to haunt us in the form of terrorism and in the future, nuclear terrorism.” (36) (37)
Here are more voices, all giving us the same message:
“… the establishment can’t admit [that] it is human rights violations that make … countries attractive to business — so history has to be fudged, including denial of our support of regimes of terror and the practices that provide favorable climates of investment, and our destabilization of democracies that [don’t] meet [the] standard of service to the transnational corporation … the United States has given frequent and enthusiastic support to the overthrow of democracy in favor of “investor friendly” regimes. The World Bank, IMF, and private banks have consistently lavished huge sums on terror regimes, following their displacement of democratic governments, and a number of quantitative studies have shown a systematic positive relationship between U.S. and IMF / World Bank aid to countries and their violations of human rights.” (38) (39) (Edward S. Herman)
“Just as the United States trained Latin American military and police in methods of fighting against “populism” in their countries, by this means helping to produce a “favorable climate of investment” by bringing into power National Security States, so a large, well-trained, and ruthless police is needed in the home country as it pushes a right-wing agenda that is contrary to the interests of a vast majority. There is … a huge tacit conspiracy between the U.S. government, its agencies and its multinational corporations, on the one hand, and local business and military cliques in the Third World, on the other, to assume complete control of these countries and “develop” them on a joint venture basis. The military leaders of the Third World were carefully nurtured by the U.S. security establishment to serve as the “enforcers” of this joint venture partnership, and they have been duly supplied with machine guns and the latest data on methods of interrogation of subversives.” (40) (Edward S. Herman)
“The United States supports right-wing dictatorships in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East … because these are the rulers who have tied their personal political destiny to the fortunes of the American corporations in their countries… Revolutionary or nationalist leaders have radically different political constituencies and interests. For them creating “a good investment climate” for the United States and developing their own country are fundamentally conflicting goals. Therefore, the United States has a strong economic interest in keeping such men from coming to power or arranging for their removal if they do.” (41) (Richard Barnet, Intervention and Revolution)
“U.S. leaders have striven with much success to repress (1) the emergence of competing forms of production (socialist, collectivist, communitarian); and (2) competing capital formations (prosperous autonomous capitalist economies, or mixed ones, in emerging nations, and with FTAA and GATS, all public sector services except police and military in all capitalist countries. The goal is the Third Worldization of the entire world, including Europe and North America, a world in which capital rules supreme with no public sector services; no labor unions to speak of; no prosperous, literate, effectively organized working class with rising expectations; no pension funds or environmental, consumer, and occupational protections, or medical plans, or any of the other insufferable things that cut into profit rates.” (42) (Michael Parenti)
“The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist – McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas …” (43) (Thomas Friedman, New York Times)
” The great multinationals are unwilling to face the moral and economic contradictions of their own behavior – producing in low-wage dictatorships and selling to high-wage democracies. Indeed, the striking quality about global enterprises is how easily free-market capitalism puts aside its supposed values in order to do business. The conditions of human freedom do not matter to them so long as the market demand is robust. The absence of freedom, if anything, lends order and efficiency to their operations.” (44)(William Greider)
Why should we worry about the death squads? They’re bumping off the commies, our enemies. I’d give them more power. Hell, I’d give them some cartridges if I could, and everyone else would too…Why should we criticize them? The death squad – I’m for it.” (45) (46) (Fred Sherwood, CIA staffer and former president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Guatemala)
And William Shirer, an American author, wrote:
“Until we go through it ourselves, until our people cower in the shelters of New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles and elsewhere while the buildings collapse overhead and burst into flames, and dead bodies hurtle about and, when it is over for the day or the night, emerge in the rubble to find some of their dear ones mangled, their homes gone, their hospitals, churches, schools demolished – only after that gruesome experience will we realize what we are inflicting on the people of Indochina …” (47)
Colonising the world is a complicated and difficult business, primarily because most nations are unwilling to be colonised, and tend to resist foreign invasions and the enslavement of their people. Therefore, you usually need a large and powerful military to not only invade and conquer, but to frequently kill, torture and terrorise large portions of the population in order to maintain obedience. You also need large numbers of officials willing to relocate to these colonies in order to manage the logistics of plundering their wealth and resources. And of course, this requires large sums of money and effort.
Also, you must normally remain present in these colonies. History has proven it’s quite difficult to be an ‘absentee coloniser’ since the colonies quickly tend to become forgetful and disobedient, being more interested in their rights rather than yours. And what with having to put down the constant rebellions, the trouble of loading all that gold and treasure, the selfish peasants preferring to grow food products instead of opium, dealing with a local government that resists the enslavement of their people, it was a difficult job. But the Americans, inventive as always, discovered a new and almost effortless way to colonise the world while still ensuring the constant flow of treasure to their shores – true remote-control colonisation. Here’s how it worked:
- Choose a target country with useful natural resources
- Search the military commanders for a true pathological killer without loyalty to his country
- Send in the CIA to destabilise the government, arrange a coup, and appoint the military commander as President
- Provide ample financing, an unlimited and free supply of arms and weapons, and train your new dictator at the famous “School of the Americas”, in the principles of torture and repression of a civilian population
- Explain clearly to the new Puppet-dictator that he is only “President for life”, the span in question determined entirely by his eagerness to suppress his local population while permitting the plunder of his nation’s resources by US corporations
- Relax in the White House and manage your new ‘colony’ by remote control
It worked beautifully, in more than 50 countries. US multi-nationals and bankers could come in, virtually enslave the population by paying dirt-poor wages, export all the resources, and become not only obscenely rich but enormous, world-scale companies.
According to Steve Kangas, “These US government-sponsored CIA operations follow the same recurring script: Unlucky nations are targeted for a wide variety of reasons: not only threats to American business interests abroad, but also liberal or even moderate social reforms, political instability, and the unwillingness of a leader to carry out Washington’s dictates. Often, the threat comes simply from the rise of a popular leader supported by the people because he intends to conduct land reform, strengthen unions, redistribute wealth, nationalize foreign-owned industry, and regulate business to protect workers, consumers and the environment”. (48)
To accomplish this, the CIA “uses every trick in the book: propaganda, stuffed ballot boxes, purchased elections, extortion, blackmail, sexual intrigue, false stories about opponents in the local media, infiltration and disruption of opposing political parties, kidnapping, beating, torture, intimidation, economic sabotage, death squads and even assassination”. The US has made a template for its colonisations, and teaches the tactics in the infamous “School of the Americas” which we will meet later. We will also examine a few selected examples of American colonisation in action, and acquire an appreciation of the results.
Cultivating Income Disparity
The world has for many decades been accustomed to thinking of the US as the world’s richest country, coupling individual wealth with national economic supremacy. The causes of that condition have sometimes been examined in the popular media, but seldom with much accuracy or diligence, and never without a healthy dollop of American propaganda myths.
Few Americans, and even fewer people elsewhere seem aware that the US government was fully aware of its economic dominance, and pursued this as an objective not only in absolute but in relative terms. For at least the past 100 years, and perhaps much longer, “domination by economic disparity” was an integral part of American foreign policy strategy, accompanied by a planned corresponding supremacy in the military and political realms. It seems almost surreal to make this claim, but it was not only wealth and economic supremacy that the Americans coveted, but economic disparity as well. The US not only wanted to be rich, and to be richer than other nations, but also to maintain those other nations in a dependent poverty. And this position has been constant for a great many decades. Read on:
At a conference in Mexico in 1945, the US demanded an ‘Economic Charter of the Americas’ (49) (50) designed to eliminate what it called “the scourge of economic nationalism”, determined to crush “the philosophy of the New Nationalism which embraces policies designed to bring about a broader distribution of wealth and to raise the standard of living of the masses”. A State Department official explained that this meant a US objection to Latin Americans who “were convinced that the first beneficiaries of the development of a country’s resources should be the people of that country”. In keeping with this attitude, the US agreed to recognize Mexico’s government only on condition that Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution would not apply to American oil companies. Article 27 stated that Mexican oil was the property of Mexico. The American position was vigorously promoted by the US Secretary of the Treasury, Andrew Mellon, a member of the family that controlled Gulf Oil.
The American view of US Economic Supremacy in 1948
In 1948 a man named George Kennan, who was the director of the US State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, published a then top-secret document (PPS 23, February 24, 1948), in which he laid out an honest assessment of the need for a successful American imperial policy. The document stated in part:
“We have about 50% of the world’s wealth but only 6.3% of its population. This disparity is particularly great as between ourselves and the peoples of Asia (and China). In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction. We should cease to talk about vague and – for the Far East (including China) – unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratisation. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.” (51) (52)
Kennan’s position stated above deserves some commentary. He tells us the US at the time had an especially large wealth disparity with countries like China, and that the US must devise “a pattern of relationships” that would permit the US to maintain that disparity. And that can only mean placing the US in an essentially master/slave relationship with these nations, one which would force them to accept their relative poverty and subjugated condition on a permanent basis. More than that, these ‘relationships’ must be created under conditions where there can never develop any military, economic or political threat to the perpetuation of US domination.
He then finishes by stating that the US cannot indulge in any humanitarian nonsense like “sentimentality, altruism or world-benefaction”, and that any high hopes for China such as having human rights or a higher living standard are “unreal objectives”, and the US should not be hampered by “idealism”. In his words, the US cannot afford “the luxury” of caring about other nations, and America cannot “deceive itself” that it could permit these other nations to develop and become rich, since it is only by maintaining an extreme economic disparity that the US will be able to remain supreme. According to Kennan, the US must concentrate everywhere on its immediate national objective of maintaining economic supremacy over all other nations, and especially nations like China.
Readers may be surprised to see this attitude stated so nakedly, but economic, military and political supremacy have always been a prime objective of the United States. There has never been a time since the founding of the US Republic that America was not dreaming, scheming and planning this worldwide domination. And of course, pillaging the resources of other nations while maintaining their poverty was a natural part of this plan. It has never been otherwise. It was never an accident of fate or circumstance that the US government installed dictators in so many dozens of nations; this was done solely to permit the free plundering by US corporations while keeping those many nations in political and military subjection, AND their citizens in poverty.
This deliberate plan was seldom enunciated openly or clearly, but the actions of the US and its multinationals over many decades leave no question of intent. Kennan’s remarks simply state what had always been tacitly understood within the American corridors of power. It was for this reason as well that the US was instrumental in creating UN agencies like the World Bank and the IMF. These were never intended to stimulate or assist development in the non-Western world, but instead to ensure the perpetual poverty of, and the free plundering of resources from, the undeveloped nations, necessary conditions in the American mind for maintaining worldwide economic domination. It is also important to note that in this striving for political and military domination the US was being used as a tool by the international bankers for their own scheme of worldwide domination. In this process, the US would accumulate resources and riches but, through the financing mechanisms of the IMF and World Bank, the European banking families would eventually own much of the land and infrastructure of these nations.
Under the circumstances, we cannot be surprised that South and Central America, for example, are mostly just as poor today as they were 200 years ago, after two centuries of American “friendship, patronage and assistance” to those nations. The only reason countries like Brazil, Venezuela and Argentina are slowly becoming richer today is that they have finally thrown off the yoke of American imperialism and European bankers, overthrown the US-installed dictators, and begun to plot their own course of development free from the crushing weight of colonialism.
But the US does not willingly accept this turn of events, and is today still massively interfering in the internal political affairs of all of these nations, with huge volumes of money, propaganda and no small amount of organised violence, in attempts to derail their progress. It is not for nothing that in many surveys conducted over many decades, the US is consistently listed as the most hated nation in the world.
The American view of US Economic Supremacy in 2010
“You know if you talk to Chinese leaders, I think they will acknowledge immediately that if over a billion Chinese citizens have the same living patterns as . . . Americans do right now, then all of us are in for a very miserable time, the planet just can’t sustain it, so they understand that they’ve got to make a decision about a new model that is more sustainable . . .” – (53) US President Obama in Australia in 2010
You can see that nothing has changed in the standard US narrative. Obama’s meaning and intentions are as perfectly clear in 2010 as were Kennan’s 60 years earlier: The world has room for only one rich country – and that country will be the US. He nakedly states the US position that China and other similar nations must reduce their national hopes and expectations and accept that they will have to remain poor forever in order for the US to perpetuate its worldwide supremacy. Obama cleverly resorts to “sustainability” as an unforgivably dishonest and self-serving excuse. His statements are a huge lie. He is telling us that if China continues its high rate of economic progress outside of US control, American supremacy and domination cannot be sustained. Therefore, according to him, China must remain poor. The unstated justification for his position is that God meant for Americans to rule the world.
” . . . if emerging countries (such as) China, India, and Brazil . . . are pursuing a path in which they replace us as the largest carbon emitters, that’s not a sustainable practical approach . . .”
What Obama is really saying is that if countries like China replace the US as the largest carbon emitters, they will also replace the US as the world’s largest economy and the US will slowly become irrelevant. This is why China’s development is not ‘sustainable or practical’ in the eyes of the US. Obama finishes by stating the US wants China to take its “international responsibilities” seriously, i.e., its responsibility to accept the US as the leader of the world and agree to remain poor and undeveloped so Americans can remain rich and continue to plunder and pollute the way their God wants them to do.
Obama’s logic is repugnant, selfish, dishonest and self-serving, demanding that the Chinese adopt the Western system and values, but will not be permitted the same living standard as Americans. According to him, the US will maintain the American model but will not lower the American living standard, and therefore makes the Imperial Proclamation that the Chinese must become impoverished American clones to maintain sustainability and harmony in the universe. As Song Luzheng wrote in his Paris blog, “What needs to change is the Western model rather than the Chinese model”. He asked why the Americans haven’t created a sustainable model until now and, since their model is unsustainable, why do they promote it globally as based on universal values?
In another volume in this series, titled ‘America’s Dirtiest Secrets’, I write of the US governments’ buried medical experiment in Guatemala where a large group of physicians supported by the State Department and the CDC waged a kind of war on the country where, in a misguided military experiment, they infected countless thousands of people with syphilis, then left them all to slowly die. El Mundo, one of Spain’s major newspapers, published an article in August of 2011, titled “Guatemala, the United States’ Field Laboratory”, in which the columnist stated accurately that the Americans’ objective was to find a poor country with undeveloped public infrastructure and health services where a man with an American accent, a white coat and stethoscope, could commit any number of atrocities under a pretense of healing. And that in the 1940s, Guatemala was an ideal location, where “the lowest and most miserable” of people would be easy victims of an abominable experiment designed without scruples in America.
An American professor named Susan Reverby, who was acquainted with some of the participants in that ‘experiment’, wrote a shocking revisionist apologia in which she asked, “Do the Guatemala Atrocities Matter? Who cares? What is there, besides our “our prurient and horrified sense of what they did without permission?” Do we need yet another awful story about “the bad old days” of medical research?” (54) She continued by stating that Guatemala matters primarily because “it demonstrates the links between periphery and metropole …”, a statement requiring some explanation. ‘Metropole’ is another word for Mother City, once a euphemism for London, the center of the British Empire, the ‘Periphery’ being the rest of the Empire. In this context, these words are political constructs of world systems theory, the periphery countries being those that are less developed, shortchanged on their share of global wealth, those with weak institutions, lack of technology, undeveloped education and health systems, and usually exploited to the maximum by the developed Western nations. They are seen and used as sources of natural resources, cheap labor, and agricultural produce. Their sole purpose is as fuel for the fires of domination of the developed nations. The character of the Metropole, the developed nations today exemplified by the USA, is that of one-way dictatorial control in economic, political and military terms. It is essentially a direct rule of all undeveloped nations, whether by colonisation or by military, economic, and political coercion. So Reverby, the “Professor of Ideas” for young women at Wellesley College, is telling us the human tragedies of Guatemala are irrelevant (“who cares what they did?”), that the only important aspect of those inhuman experiments is to serve as a live example of the true relationship between the few rich white supremacists and the billions of colored poor – that of predator and prey. It was in 1945 – about the same time as these atrocities in Guatemala – that the US government launched its bitter campaign to eliminate “the scourge of economic nationalism” espoused by poor nations who believed that the beneficiaries of their resources and development should be their own citizens. I also mentioned above, George Kennan’s 1948 policy paper stating the need to maintain a dramatic economic disparity between the US and all other nations.
From the earliest days of the American nation, it was this theology of white supremacy that has dictated the logic, ethics, and metaphysics of the American elite, and it is in the naked context of this reprehensible moral philosophy that the same American elite, supported by the US government, felt not only the freedom but a natural right to use the people of Guatemala as a medical zoo. It is of course quite inhuman, but to this Judeo-Christian elite, it is their God’s natural order for the weak and black to render themselves practically useful and subservient to American utility and pursuit of happiness. This is the fundamental hypothesis on which the American system functions and by which the natural effects of American actions are explained. On this primary instrument of the subordination of the contemptible weak are played the chords of musical harmony of the Western Judeo-Christian faith.
American commercial success has for many decades resulted primarily from US foreign policy through the barrel of a gun. And today the US is on the same course of using its military power to assist US multinationals in plundering the resources of Eastern Europe, the Middle East, the Americas and Southeast Asia, under the guise of “making them safe for democracy”. US Marine Corps General Smedley Butler, who was one of only two Americans to twice win the US Medal of Honor, had thoughts in the 1930’s of writing his autobiography, and claimed, “There are things I’ve seen, things I’ve learned that should not be left unsaid. War is just a racket. A racket is best described… as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses. War is a racket to protect economic interests, and our soldiers are sent to die on foreign soil to protect investments by big business.” (55)
Butler wrote: “The U.S. has routinely destroyed democracy throughout the globe while its leaders claimed to be spreading democracy. I spent 33 years in the Marines, most of my time being a high-class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. The general public shoulders the bill. This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones, Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations. I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested.” (56)
In another speech he stated, “War was largely a matter of money. Bankers lend money to foreign countries and when they cannot repay the President sends Marines to get it. I know – I’ve been in eleven of these expeditions.” In an article published in ‘Common Sense’ in 1935, Butler stated that the Harriman family’s notorious Brown Brothers, Harriman bank was behind the US Marines acting like ‘racketeers’ and ‘gangsters’ in order to exploit the peasants of Nicaragua. Prescott Bush, the grandfather of US President George Bush, was the Managing Director of Brown Brothers, Harriman.
General David Shoup, former United States Marine Commander, wrote in 1966, “I believe that if we had, and would, keep our dirty, bloody, dollar-soaked fingers out of the business of these nations so full of depressed, exploited people, they will arrive at a solution of their own. And … at least what they get will be their own, and not the American style, which they don’t want and above all don’t want crammed down their throats by Americans.” (57)
It is true to say that one of the reasons, and perhaps the main reason, the US focused so heavily on its military strength, was to further its commercial ambitions. As early as the 1850s, the US was using ‘gunboat diplomacy’ – naval military threats – to enforce commercial trade demands. In this, the US was following the model of the European colonial powers who had mastered the process of intimidating nations into granting trade concessions and grossly unequal treaties simply by displaying the threat of overwhelming military force. Most often, the mere sight of a fleet of warships off one’s coastline was sufficient to obtain compliance to almost all demands.
It was this same naval threat that forced the Queen of Hawaii to abdicate and turn over her country to an American who coveted that nation’s plantations (58) (59) (60), and later in forcing Japan to open its borders to trade (61). When this issue is discussed by Americans today, their collective opinion is that perhaps it wasn’t very nice, but “all we did was convince Japan to trade with us, and that’s not a bad thing. Japan benefited as much as we did”. But this rather naïve and simple-minded position ignores the great inequities in the trade agreements that were subsequently concluded. And it was this act of terrifying Japan that more or less directly triggered the Meiji Restoration, setting the Japanese on their own binge of imperialism into China.
In any case, for at least the past 200 years, gunboat diplomacy or one of its variants was the dominant way for the US to establish new trade partners and fulfill its expanding imperial ambitions. In later years, as we will see, the US government’s most common variant was to overthrow the local government and install a captive military dictatorship that would give free rein to US multinationals to quite literally plunder each nation’s resources and forcibly provide almost unlimited markets for US goods. The American doctrine, through most administrations, has always been that the US is entitled to resort to unilateral force to ensure “uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies, and strategic resources”, as Clinton expressed it, (62) (63) (64)
One important example of the Americans’ “right to uninhibited access” involves Panama, a tiny country in the transition area from Central to South America, where the continental link becomes only about 50 kms. wide, and contains the Panama Canal which permits passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans without having to make the long and dangerous voyage around the Southern tip of South America. Few Americans appear to know that Panama became a separate country only relatively recently, that it had always been the Panama province of Columbia. About 100 years ago the US government wanted to build a transportation canal across the narrow isthmus, but Columbia declined the proposal when the US demanded that the canal and surrounding land would be owned by the US as sovereign American soil in perpetuity. So, President Roosevelt sent in the US military, “liberated” the isthmus, declared a new country named Panama, appointed a compliant local President, and took ownership of its new “country”. (65) (66)
For a very long time it was almost impossible to learn the real truth about the creation of Panama and the story of the canal. US history texts boasted effusively about American ingenuity and prowess in building the canal, but nowhere did they mention the military aggression and hijacking of a country. A typical US history text tells us without further detail, “In 1903 the United States secured the right, by treaty, to build a canal across Panama”. On the repeated occasions when Columbia sent troops in unsuccessful attempts to un-liberate its province, American history books and even US government websites list these events as “putting down a local insurrection” or, sometimes, “protecting American interests”. One US university history textbook claimed the US sent troops into Panama “to mediate a border dispute”, the dispute of course being that there was no border, that Panama was a province of Columbia. The ‘new’ Panamanian constitution granted the United States the right to “intervene in any part of Panama, to reestablish public peace and constitutional order”, and the US did so on numerous occasions, generally to ensure a favorable outcome in Panama’s “democratic” elections. Several Panamanian presidents or candidates “died unexpectedly” during an election campaign, and on more than one occasion the US military had to intervene to protect their installed puppet president from lynching by angry mobs.
Of course, the canal was every bit as advantageous in economic and military terms as the Americans had hoped. It saved American vessels countless billions in extra fuel costs and brought in hundreds of billions of dollars in transit fees for the US treasury. The canal also provided enormous political advantages since it permitted the US military easier access to both Oceans and the Americans could control access by the military and commercial vessels of other nations, becoming a prized tool of US imperialism for the extortion of compliance and submission. Most Westerners have an image of the Panama Canal as a kind of non-partisan transportation route available to all the world’s shipping, but that has never been true. The US has repeatedly used the Canal as a negotiating tool for Imperial compliance, and to its own military and commercial advantage. US military vessels regularly transit through the canal, but does the world imagine Russian vessels do the same, or that an Iranian ship, if permitted passage at all, will pay the same transit fee as an American vessel? In fact, one of the major tools the US used to provoke Japan to attack the fleet at Pearl Harbor was the closing of the canal to all Japanese shipping, and to all vessels, especially those carrying oil, that were headed to Japan (67). When we add the financial gains and the enormous political and military gains, the value of the Panama Canal to America’s rise, was beyond estimation.
The new US imperial territory of Panama had other uses that were not widely publicised and that remained unknown for many decades. One of these was that Panama became the location of the world’s largest and most notorious terrorist and torture training facility, the famous US-operated “School of the Americas” where the CIA and US military instructed and trained almost all of the world’s brutal dictators and terrorist governments in all the fine arts of torture, acts of terrorism, sabotage, revolutions, suppression of civilian populations (68). Panama was also used as a staging base for the illegal invasions of other nations in Central and South America, as well as by the CIA for its activities in the political destabilisation of other nations in the region (69). Due to Panama’s location and US control, it was also of inestimable value to the CIA for its international narcotics trafficking operations. (70) (71) (72) Just so it doesn’t go unsaid, almost no benefit accrued to the Panamanian population or economy. Panama’s share of canal revenues was a pittance, and Panamanian businesses were explicitly prohibited from providing services to the Canal Zone or ships transiting through the Zone. The American presence and control have always been bitterly resented by the local population, and still are today. The country has experienced repeated riots and massive civil disruption due to American arrogance and overt control of elections, with the locals repeatedly revolting to overthrow the US-imposed “president”. Wikipedia tells us, “United States officials supervised elections at the request of incumbent governments”. Uh huh. But that’s not the local version.
In related events, few people are aware of the so-called “financial protection arrangements” that the US government – at the instigation of the FED bankers – forcibly imposed on many nations in the Americas, agreements whereby US banks would “manage” the cash and finances of these smaller nations, always to the great benefit of the bankers and to the detriment of the victims. In the case of Panama for example, the US refused to pay Panama directly the annual rent payments for land use related to the Panama Canal, instead giving the money to the bankers at J. P. Morgan who were to invest the money on Panama’s behalf but who invested the funds in New York real estate, making billions in profits over a century, while paying Panama only a small annual interest. Most countries in Central and South America have been subject to these peculiarly American financial contracts. These financial controls so commonly imposed on poorer nations in the Americas provided the US with overwhelming political power and massive financial profits as well as the desired income disparity, since a nation’s funds would not be released for social purposes incurring the displeasure of the Americans. Any of these nations attempting expenditures on social services or infrastructure development without the express permission of the US, would automatically activate an “obligation to intervene” by the US military. In total, the profits realised by a few American bankers and elite industrialists from these arrangements, were astronomical over a century. For well over 100 years, the entire Southern continent was treated as a lucrative, if reluctant and troublesome, divisional profit center for American bankers and industrialists. This still occurs today. Developing nations obtaining a $10 billion infrastructure development loan from the World Bank may never actually get to touch that money since it will eventually be paid to US or other Western firms. Often, the funds will sit in a US bank pending distribution, during which pending the money might conveniently produce huge profits for a hedge fund or finance a nice condominium development in Manhattan. Capitalists never let money sit idle, even if that money isn’t theirs.
But that wasn’t all. To use Haiti as an example, the US has constantly interfered in Haiti’s internal affairs for well over 100 years, overthrowing elected governments and replacing them with dictators, invading Haiti six or seven times to seize government revenue on behalf what is now Citibank. More than once, US Marines invaded the country, broke into the nation’s central bank, and stole all its money, including all Haiti’s gold deposits. (73) (74) (75) When Haiti refused to turn over its banks to Citibank and its railroads to an American company, the US launched an overwhelming military invasion during which it re-wrote Haiti’s constitution, turned over almost all industry to American firms, disbanded the country’s army and replaced it with a US military police force, slaughtered tens of thousands of civilians and enslaved hundreds of thousands of others to build a railroad that would carry Haiti’s resources to American ships. The US ran the country as a military dictatorship for decades and viciously suppressed all local resistance, while imposing a total information blockade so no news could ever escape. In American history books and US government propaganda, the military was there only “to maintain order during threatened insurrection” and, of course, “to protect American interests”. Little Haiti and many poor countries like it, have contributed enormously to American wealth.
The CIA organized the overthrow of Guatemala’s elected government (76) to install Ríos Montt, another US-financed pathological killer, and supported him during 40 years of CIA-trained and sponsored death squads. Montt specialised in torture, disappearances, mass executions, and unimaginable cruelty, resulting in more than 200,000 victims. This was one of the most inhumane events of the entire 20th century, much of it sponsored by US President Reagan. And not only sponsored, but praised; Montt attended Reagan’s Presidential Inauguration and was one of his good friends. But the US-supported dictator had given virtually all of his nation to the US Bankers and corporations. At that time, the Rockefellers alone owned more than 40% of the arable land in Guatemala as well as the entire railroad network and telegraph system, and also the country’s only port. Earlier, when the US was preparing for its invasion of Guatemala, many of the planning documents were passed on to the Guatemalan government who published them in the media and demanded an explanation from the US. Of course, the State Department claimed the accusations were “ridiculous”, and added further, “It is the policy of the United States not to interfere in the internal affairs of other nations. This policy has repeatedly been reaffirmed.” And Time Magazine, always helpful, claimed that those documents were just a Russian plot to embarrass the US. And then the CIA continued with its plans, assassinating the President and overthrowing the government as if nothing had ever happened. Americans are not easily embarrassed.
In addition to looting the central banks of Haiti, Puerto Rico, Panama, Guatemala, and a few others in the neighborhood, the Americans looted the banks of many other nations. There was Cuba, of course, looted more than once, and the Philippines after the Spanish-American war and again during World War II. To the victor go the spoils. The same happened to Afghanistan and Iraq, though the New York Times didn’t want to depress you with that news. And Libya, where almost the first thing that happened after the death of Khaddaffi was the looting of the $30 billion in gold from the central bank, a kind of donation to the European banking families by the Libyan rebels who surprisingly founded their own central bank with Rothschild as the President. (77) (78) And we had Ukraine, where the US FED relieved that country of its $20 billion in gold bullion, transferring it to New York “for safe-keeping”, never to be seen again. Russia was heavily looted (again) after the collapse of the USSR, as were most of the other countries in Eastern Europe and, more recently, the fragments of Yugoslavia. There are no doubt others, though documentation and admissions of guilt are not easy to obtain in these matters. The amounts may not seem large to you, but $30 billion here and $30 billion there, and soon we have a lot of money.
However, not to lose the main point, all of these nations in South and Central America were subject to more or less the same political, military and financial pressures as were Panama, Haiti and Guatemala. That is why they are still poor today, after more than 200 years of American assistance. All of these nations collectively have made an enormous contribution to the US treasury and the accumulation of wealth of the American elite, a history both inhumane and despicable that has been entirely deleted from the Western historical record. Americans have never known, and the local populations will never forget. It is not a surprise that so much of the world bitterly hates the US today, but Americans never see this side of their country. Indeed, the internet and the US PR machines are full of glowing praise for the power of US companies, with terms like “The American Copper Industry: Bright Future Glorious Past”. But that ‘glorious past’ consisted of raping, looting and plundering Chile for more than 200 years.
Labor, The Curse of Capitalism
Labor is almost always the largest component of corporate operating expenses, in many industries comprising 50% or 60% of total costs. Eliminate your labor cost and soon your profits will be astronomical. Compound that for 500 years, and you will probably own all the money in the world. And if your competitors are paying normal market wage rates, you will be the only surviving company in the world long before that 500 years expires. How could it be otherwise? With no labor costs, you can sell your products at a far lower price than the actual manufacturing costs of your competitors and quickly force everyone else out of business. At that point you can raise your selling prices to almost any level and experience profit margins beyond the wildest dreams of avarice. This is what most MNCs try to do today. When they look at their financial statements, the figure that most stands out is the high labor component, so to increase profits they cut staff, put a freeze on hiring, and refuse pay increases (except for executives). Labor is always the most vulnerable component since most fixed and variable costs have little margin for improvement, most overhead offering little room for savings. Manufacturing costs quickly reach a level beyond which they cannot be further reduced, leaving labor as the obvious target.
This is so true that there are almost no people today who have become rich without violating the sensibilities of the labor they employed. Look at Apple, one of the darlings of America, with about $200 billion in untaxed profits sitting offshore. Apple stole all of that money, or at least its suppliers did. Steven Jobs is revered as an innovator because of Apple’s iphone, but the iphone was nothing. Jobs’ real innovation was in finding a firm – Foxconn – that would build a one-million employee concentration camp where it could manufacture and assemble iphones while the one million young workers were living on the brink of starvation. Had Jobs accepted responsibility for what were in fact Apple employees and paid them anything resembling a living wage, that $200 billion would be zero. The iphone’s ‘cool factor’ is irrelevant in this equation. Apple’s profits did not come from cool; they came from the theft of wages from society’s most vulnerable young people who needed a job and a start in life. To succeed in his quest, Jobs first had to ensure they failed in theirs. And he did.
Consider Sam Walton of Wal-Mart. This is precisely what he did – underpay one million employees for 30 or 40 years, far below the standard wage rates and with only part-time employment to avoid the heavy costs of benefits like health care, pensions and unemployment insurance, which are usually 30% or more of the wage bill. With this approach, Walton could undercut the selling prices of his competitors by a substantial margin and become almost the only game in town. If he is permitted to continue, he will soon be the only game in town. And today the several heirs of Sam Walton are said to own 30% of all the wealth in the United States. In China, Li Ka-Shing, Hong Kong’s richest man, fits the same mold. He mistreated and underpaid his employees so badly, his plastic flower factory was the detonator for Hong Kong’s bloody nine-month civil war in the 1960s. Li overestimated his ability to plunder – a mistake Sam Walton did not make – and the world exploded. But by the time the blood was literally running in the streets, Li had accumulated enough cash to buy up everything very cheaply and become even richer. If you dig into the history of any wealthy man today, you will find with few exceptions they did exactly what Steve Jobs, Sam Walton, Jack Ma, and so many others have done – get rich on the backs of the workers. These are the same people who are today promoted in the media as generous philanthropists and kind humanitarians, saving trees and promoting abortions. And they are all miserable frauds. That philanthropy should be directed to the employees on whose sacrifices they originally became rich – if any of those people are still alive.
General Motors succeeded in the same way as Apple and Wal-Mart, with a bit of a twist combining both methods. With the labor unions still powerful, GM didn’t have the flexibility to starve its own workers, so it adopted the Apple approach to fame and famine. GM stopped manufacturing all its components and sub-contracted the manufacturing to its suppliers, giving GM not only leverage but immunity from the wrath of the UAW union. GM offered massive volume purchases from suppliers, but at pricing so low they were forced into the Foxconn mold – concentration camp living and wages that provided feasts for GM profits and famine for everyone else. It was so bad that GM contracts included a provision for additional 5% cost decreases in every year of the contract, and it refused to permit a supplier to quote on a new contract without first conceding a 10% decrease in price on any existing contracts. Of course, GM were bitterly hated since this outsourcing strategy meant that someone else’s workers would absorb the entire financial burden of GM’s greed, millions of workers each conceding ten thousand dollars each year to GM’s bottom line.
This was the strategy behind the American approach to military colonisation and plundering of the undeveloped nations. With the backing of the military and the State Department, US MNCs applied these policies to more than 50 countries in the Americas, Africa and Asia. Negotiate raw materials and product prices to nearly zero while paying starvation wages and utilising the installed dictator to maintain sufficient terror in oppressing the population to prevent labor disputes and any thoughts of forming labor unions. This labor philosophy so dearly loved today by Wal-Mart, Apple, GM, Coca-Cola, Nike, and so many other American MNCs, was honed to perfection by the US State Department long before these firms were born.
Let’s return to Wal-Mart for a moment. If Sam Walton could, in the space of 30 or 40 years, build by this method the largest retailing company in the world, what could he accomplish in 100 years, or 300 years, or 500? If, in that relatively short blink in time, his miserable offspring already own 30% of all the wealth in the US, how much would they have in 100 years, or 300, or 500? It isn’t a logical leap to imagine Walton being not only the largest, but the only, retailer of consequence in the world, nor it is a leap to imagine him buying out many other firms and industries and applying his proven formula to them. In 100 years or 200, he could have the only food store in the world, or pharmacy, or hospital, and in fact the company has entered all these fields and more, and is attempting to do precisely that.
But Sam Walton had to pay his employees something, so he paid them about 1/2 to 2/3 of a standard wage (with no benefits), and you’ve seen what he accomplished. But what if he hadn’t had to pay them anything? What if his only obligation were to feed them and let them sleep in his warehouse? And what if all their children automatically became unpaid Wal-Mart employees from the age of six, also receiving only food and warehousing? How much richer would he be today? If he could continue in this mold, how much richer would he be in 500 years? Now, let’s regress in time and imagine the result if Sam had opened his first Wal-Mart on Plymouth Rock 500 years ago, and never paid a cent in wages since then. And let’s further imagine that almost every American company in every industry operated in this same manner while no companies in other countries did so.
What does this have to do with slavery and how the US became rich? As you’ve already guessed, everything.
No other nation in the world’s recent history has owed credit for its economic development to any one factor, as much as the Americans owe to the centuries of an unlimited supply of wageless workers. More than 100 million black Africans and even more millions of white English, Irish and Scottish, along with many millions more of Chinese and Indians, were kidnapped and enslaved by American and Jewish slave traders in a massive commercial enterprise that lasted for several hundred years, its effects still very much apparent throughout America today. Slavery was not a matter of the rich having personal servants. It was entirely a capitalistic enterprise enacted to maximise profits for landowners, a legally-enacted form of forced labor supported by American legislation. Slavery was so central to the American economy that for a very long time, a standard economic measure in the US was not GDP, but dollar value of output per slave. The US South would have been at one time the richest nation in the world if measured according to other countries.
A nation that for hundreds of years pays no wages to 80% of its laborers will experience a much more rapid economic development, and an immeasurably more wealthy elite, than would otherwise have been possible. For Americans to claim today that developing nations are building their economies “on the backs of their workers” is not only indicative of a massive ignorance but constitutes an abominable hypocrisy. It is Americans who built their economic supremacy literally on the backs of slaves and of the poor.
The history of slavery has been cleverly rewritten as a moral issue but it was primarily economic, not moral, its existence in the US being absolutely indispensable to the development of the wealth of the American ruling class. The financial contribution of slavery to the personal fortunes of American politicians, elites and bankers, is incalculable, as is its contribution to the financial rise of the US as a whole. The profits that accrued from the Atlantic slave trade led directly to the rise of American industrial capitalism and the Americans’ worldwide exploitative system of imperialism. On both sides of the Atlantic, it was primarily the vast profits from the slave trade that brought about and financed the Industrial Revolution. Ubiquitous slavery was not only essential to American economic development, but was the single most important indicator of the philosophy and structure of the Western form of capitalism and of the inherent violence of that system. More than one author has noted that slavery not only powered the American economy for hundreds of years, but that it “shaped every crucial aspect of the economy and politics” of the US. Edward Baptist, to whom I refer below, stated so well that what I call ‘Photoshop historians’ depict America’s great economic rise in terms of “entrepreneurs, creativity, invention”, when the bitter truth is that it resulted almost entirely from slavery, brutal colonisation and the widespread distribution of organised violence against weaker peoples, and was not in any sense a search for freedom and opportunity but for money and profit.
In a current lawsuit by Caribbean natives (79) (80) (81), it is claimed that Britain alone benefitted to the extent of 4 or 5 trillion British Pounds from its part in the slave trade; the benefit to the new America would have been far greater. The lawsuits will be largely symbolic, since the responsible parties have already rejected – on essentially moral and logical grounds – any hope of compensation. The UK’s foreign office said, “We do not see reparations as the answer.” What a surprise. France relied on the futility of calculating costs, the logic apparently being that since we cannot calculate accurately, we won’t bother calculating at all, thereby saving ourselves trillions of dollars. The Dutch government was more tactful, having “expressed its deep regret about the history of slavery and has thus recognized injustices from the past.” Translation: our nice little apology is all you get. But these people have reason to worry. The Caribbean is by far the smallest portion of these gains (or losses), but various economists and mathematicians have made sincere efforts to estimate their actual losses and, even under conservative assumptions, said the number was “so astronomical as to be almost meaningless”. And, of course, those meaningless astronomical numbers are precisely the gains to the economic development of the US and Europe, for which the numbers would be almost infinitely higher. One American professor estimated the minimum financial benefit to the elite ruling class in the US would be in the many tens of trillions, and that’s in dollars of 1800 or 1850.
An excellent recent book that delves in depth into the financial aspects of slavery is Edward Baptist’s “The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism” (82) (83) (84) (84a). Baptist succeeds in exposing slavery as a fundamental part of the American economy rather than being, as someone wrote, “a footnote to a dominant narrative of the expansion of liberty”. In truth, “liberty” was nowhere to be seen in this equation, the settlers’ imaginary “search for freedom and opportunity” being unquestionably the most deceitful portion of American history. As Baptist relates, the entire financial industry of the Americas was developed around the economics of slavery. Bankers developed generations of new financial instruments, creating financial securities like bonds with slaves as collateral, and many varieties of interest-bearing mortgages on slaves that were bundled and sold to investors in much the same way as house mortgages are today. These bundles of financial instruments that used enslaved humans as collateral were commonly used to raise money for land purchases or other investments, and were widely sold to rich investors both in the Americas and in Europe, being one of the most available and popular forms of security investment.
After the Rothschilds forced their legislation through the US Congress for the foundation of a privately-owned central bank, their “Bank of the United States” was heavily engaged in using federal funds to finance slave traders, this being one of the prime sources of the bank’s accumulation of wealth. It was the Rothschild-owned Barings Bank that financed most of the slave trade that originated in Europe (85), with the Rothschilds and other bankers and financiers providing the enormous capital to finance thousands of ships, hundreds of thousands of slave-trading voyages, and the purchase of tens of millions of collateralised slaves. American slave owners possessed the largest pool of collateral in the United States, these billions of dollars constituting as much as 25% of the entire wealth of the New World and, as Baptist noted, “the most liquid part of that wealth, thanks to the efficiency of markets manned by professional slave traders.” And professional bankers. At the time, there was probably no business in the world more profitable than either slave-trading or the financing of the slave trade.
We could usefully take a few steps backward (or aside) here to add some historical context to this matter. Slavery did not begin with the kidnapping of blacks from Africa, which was actually a recent development. Jewish slave traders were active in Europe 1,000 years ago, and in fact the word slave derives from ‘Slav’, the Christian whites of Central and Eastern Europe being the first groups of humans to be kidnapped and sold, mostly to Moslem countries where the white women were prized for sex and the castrated men brought very high prices as eunuchs for the harems. Most Europeans bitterly resented this trafficking in White Christians and it was often for this reason (as well as tax farming and other outrages) that the Jews were so often evicted from various European countries – and not due to ‘anti-Semitism’ as the popular narrative would have us believe. (86) (87)
But as these practices faded, it was the European Jews led by the Rothschilds who formed the British East India Company, which was at one time the largest corporation in the world and which built a private standing army of around one million men solely for the purpose of brutalising the Indian population. (88) (89) (90) (91) (92) (93) (94) Among the litany of atrocities inflicted on India by this group was the initiation of slavery on a wide scale, with millions of Indians being seized and exported as slaves all over the world, a practice soon transferred to China. The Rothschilds conceived the idea of growing opium in India as a way to drain the silver from China, at which point vast areas of Indian agriculture were converted from food to opium poppies, converting vast numbers of Indians to corpses in the process. The opium was then shipped to China where another Jew, David Sassoon, had the exclusive opium franchise granted by Queen Victoria herself. It isn’t widely known, and I will deal with this at length later, but the 150-year opium travesty in China was entirely a Jewish business that is today cleverly blamed on the English (95) (96) (97). These drug dealers may have carried British passports, but they were not Englishmen. The Jewish Encyclopedia of 1905 states that Sassoon expanded his opium trade into China and Japan, placing his eight sons in charge of the various major opium exchanges in China. The 1944 Jewish Encyclopedia states “He employed only Jews in his business … He imported whole families of fellow Jews … and put them to work.” The Sassoons were not the only Jews involved in the trade, Sassoon sharing a small part of China with a few other Jewish families – Hartung, Hardoon, Kadoorie, Arnold, Abraham, Ezra and Solomon, among others.
It was interesting that The Economist, which is anyway a decidedly dishonest and untrustworthy paper, wrote a song of praise for the East India Company with the theme of “the greatest state-owned company” of them all, somehow forgetting the total plundering and destruction of India, the endless massacres, the opium, the world’s first great drug cartel. There is not likely any single organisation in history with as much filth and blood on its hands as the British East India company, and yet The Economist endeavored to glamorise this abomination. Next, they will be telling us Cecil Rhodes was a man of peace and the Boer wars were fought not for diamonds and gold but for freedom. Nick Robins, in his paper on the British East India Company, wrote, “… for many Indians, it was the Company’s plunder that first de-industrialized their country and then provided the finance that fueled Britain’s own industrial revolution. In essence, the Honourable East India Company found India rich and left it poor. The East India Company’s escape from reckoning enables the people of Britain to pass over the source of much of their current affluence and allows India’s continuing poverty to be viewed as a product of its culture and climate”, rather than the tragic result of inhuman adventures by a small group of vicious foreign predators in pursuit of profit. The books of history of the East India Company and of its sister the Dutch East India Company, were closed shut a very long time ago but need to be re-opened for the world to examine the contents which will undoubtedly document one of the most thoroughly evil episodes in the entire history of the world.
At the time, Sassoon was recognised as the second-richest Jew in the world, after Rothschild, with a fortune well into the billions by 1850. This is a good place to trash the foolish urban legend about people like Bill Gates or Warren Buffett being the richest man in the world. The Rothschilds and Sassoons were multi-billionaires 175 years ago and those fortunes have rocketed since that time, the most reliable estimate being that these and several other Jewish European families each have assets today in the trillions, the Rothschilds conservatively estimated at around 25 or 30 trillion. Wikipedia, lying as always, tells us the Rothschilds were once rich but distributed that wealth among their too-many children, leaving the family virtually impoverished. That’s rubbish, since one item alone – the several trillions of US government debt owed to the FED – will end up in the pockets of the FED’s owners – Rothschild and a few of his closest friends, who also control the Central Banks of Germany, England … Compared to the European Jewish banking families, Gates and Buffett are loose change.
After 50 years, Sassoon and a few other Jewish opium families owned most of Shanghai as well as much else, and Hong Kong’s grand Peninsula Hotel, which I believe is still owned by the Kadoorie family, was financed by opium cash from the Mainland. The reason Queen Victoria took Hong Kong from China was that Sassoon needed a distribution base for his vast opium franchise. Similarly, the HSBC was founded solely to launder Sassoon’s drug money, an expertise the bank still specialises in today. The standard narrative tells us the HSBC was founded by Scotsman Sir Thomas Sutherland, who wanted a bank operating on “sound Scottish banking principles”, but that’s historical Photoshopping. The HSBC was always a Jewish bank and David Sassoon was the Chairman of the Board from its founding.
In any case, the Rothschild’s slavery efforts in India were soon transferred to China, with millions of Chinese being abducted and sold into slavery around the world, more or less coincidentally with the African trade to the New Americas. There were so many Chinese being abducted for this slave trade from Fujian province that it caused a widespread and violent rebellion, forcing the Jewish slave traders to retreat and restart their abductions in Macau and Guangdong. It was only the world war that finally moderated this practice. (98) See this note below.
But it should be noted that the worldwide slave trade had almost always been primarily a Jewish business. I needn’t defend the treatise here, but let it suffice for now that that many dozens of Jewish historians have confirmed these facts at length, and a great deal of the historical record is indisputable. In the North American slave trade, the Jews did not necessarily or at all times have a monopoly, but they were certainly very prominent and, in most cases, well into the majority. This is true not only for the ships, the abductions, the sales and ownership of slaves, but the financing and the securitisation of collateral slaves is mostly to the credit of ingenious Jewish bankers on both sides of the Atlantic.
Jewish historian Seymour Liebman wrote: “The traffic in [English] slaves was a royal monopoly, and the Jews were often appointed as agents for the Crown in their sale… [They] were the largest ship chandlers in the entire Caribbean region, where the shipping business was mainly a Jewish enterprise…. The ships were not only owned by Jews, but were manned by Jewish crews and sailed under the command of Jewish captains.” (New World Jewry 1493‑1825: Requiem for the Forgotten (KTAV, New York, 1982)). (99) (100) (101) (102) (103)
In the 1850s, a Jewish immigrant named Mayer Lehman obtained an appointment by the Governor to be effectively the Minister of Cotton, in charge and control of the entire cotton industry in Alabama, which also placed him in charge of all slaves in the state. Lehman and his family generated such enormous wealth from their slave and cotton dealings, they moved to New York and founded the Lehman Brothers investment bank. (104) (105) (106) (107) There are many similar documented stories. The Jewish Encyclopedia states, “The cotton-plantations in many parts of the South were wholly in the hands of the Jews”, and Roberta Feurlicht, in her book Fate of the Jews, wrote “Not only were a disproportionate number of Jews slave owners, slave traders, and slave auctioneers, but when the line was drawn between the races, they were on the white side.”
Various authors have taken note of what I call historical Photoshopping, where so-called ‘historians’ pollute the environment with tales that slavery was economically inefficient and was really only about a few people having private servants and being ‘the lord of the manor’, or that the enormous increase in cotton-picking was not due to the increasingly brutal pressures ladled onto the backs of the slaves but to the emergence of new strains of cotton that almost picked themselves. Some claim slavery was actually in opposition to capitalism and was actually a kind of charity that “saved slaves from their own innate barbarity”. Baptist wrote that the American economy was entirely built on “countless single acts of individual cruelty”, and that is precisely correct. He said, “The idea that the commodification and suffering and forced labor of African-Americans is what made the United States powerful and rich is not an idea that people necessarily are happy to hear. Yet it is the truth.” It is indeed the truth.
Kimberly Palmer wrote a review of Baptist’s book in the Washington Times, in which she said: (108)
“Baptist takes apart the myths that our society has created to make us more comfortable with our slave-owning past. He begins with the biggest myth of all, that slavery was unprofitable, inefficient, and would eventually die off as it would be unable to adapt and to compete with industrialization. Unfortunately, there is absolutely no evidence that it was either inefficient or that it was dying out. On the contrary, the cheap and ready availability of stolen lands and easy credit due to creative financial instruments, combined with the slave labor that the laws allowed, encouraged and protected, led to a boom in cotton production that showed little signs of slowing by 1860. In 1860, the Southern slave labor camps provided 88 percent of the cotton used in Great Britain’s cotton mills. Cotton had become the number one trading commodity of the entire world. It fueled the industrial revolution, feeding not just the cotton mills of Britain, but also the ones in towns like Lowell, Massachusetts. The cotton mills of Lowell were built with the profits made from the unpaid labor of African Americans in the slave labor camps. Cotton went from 14 percent of the total American exports in 1802 to 61 percent by 1860. The United States share of the worldwide cotton market climbed from one percent in 1801 to 66 percent by 1860.” I would add that this rise in world market share from zero to two-thirds was entirely due to the Sam Walton effect: pay them nothing, and take over the world.
Baptist himself wrote in an article in Salon, that:
“We still lie about slavery … the truth about how the American economy and power were built on forced migration and torture. All these decades later, our history books are filled with myths and mistruths. It is time for a true reckoning. … historians of Woodrow Wilson’s generation imprinted the stamp of academic research on the idea that slavery was separate from the great economic and social transformations of the Western world during the nineteenth century. Above all, the historians of a reunified white nation insisted that slavery was a premodern institution that was not committed to profit-seeking. This perspective implies … that slavery and enslaved African Americans had little long-term influence on the rise of the United States during the nineteenth century, a period in which the nation went from being a minor European trading partner to becoming the world’s largest economy.
… the worst thing about slavery as an experience, one is told, was that it denied enslaved African Americans the liberal rights and liberal subjectivity of modern citizens. It did those things as a matter of course, and as injustice, that denial ranks with the greatest in modern history. But slavery also killed people, in large numbers. From those who survived, it stole everything. Yet the massive and cruel engineering required to rip a million people from their homes, brutally drive them to new, disease-ridden places, and make them live in terror and hunger as they continually built and rebuilt a commodity-generating empire – this vanished in the story of a slavery that was supposedly focused primarily not on producing profit but on maintaining its status as a quasi-feudal elite, or producing modern ideas about race in order to maintain white unity and elite power. And once the violence of slavery was minimized, another voice could whisper, saying that African Americans, both before and after emancipation, were denied the rights of citizens because they would not fight for them.” (Salon; Sep 7, 2014) (109)
In Counterpunch, in an article on December 31, 2015, Ron Jacobs wrote a review of the book The American Slave Coast, by Ned and Constance Sublette which, he says,
“describes a nation founded in genocide and maintained by an economy based almost entirely on the slave trade.” He wrote: “The history of the US is soaked in blood. More importantly, no nation has based its economy on the buying, selling and breeding of human beings other than the US. The decisions that went into this mode of operations were steeped in racism and based in greed. The defining characteristic, however, was the pursuit of profit. Major legislation was looked at through the prism of how it would affect the human capital held by the slavers.
[The book is] more than a discussion of the economics of North American slavery. It is also a catalog of brutality, rape, sexual abuse, kidnapping and a multitude of other horrors associated with slavery. There were no humane slaveowners; the very act of owning another human being is inhumane. The structure of slavery built in the US – a structure that intentionally bred humans to sell them for their labor in what they hoped would be a permanent situation – is beyond every definition of inhumane. One fact this book makes clear is that anyone who was involved in the financial markets or interstate trade in the United States was also involved in the industry of slave owning, breeding and trading. There was virtually no way around such complicity given the centrality of the slavers’ system to the US economy. Indeed, at least a few of today’s fortunes were made in the buying and selling of human beings.” (110) (111)
Thanks to the media, the so-called historians, and the willing collusion of publishers of history books, most Americans badly underestimate the proportion of the slave population in America. In all American states, slaves were at least 25% of the population and in many states higher than 60%, the high numbers of white and native slaves appear to not have been counted – or consciously excluded – in many studies. Since white women were seldom employed outside the home, and since all slaves including children were forced laborers, they would have formed the vast bulk of the working population in many states. The 18-hour workload and harsh treatment often resulted in a lifespan of only five to ten years, but slaves, especially the White slaves, could be cheaply replaced and slave girls and women were regularly forcibly impregnated from the age of 10 or 12 to produce at least several children each, who would also become slaves, thereby increasing the labor force without extra cost.
It wasn’t only black slavery contributing to the formation of American wealth; there was also a substantial trade in both white slaves, primarily Irish, being shipped to the US, and American natives being enslaved by settlers as well as being shipped as slaves to Europe. In addition, there were millions of Chinese and Indians who were kidnapped and sold as slaves throughout the US and Latin America by the same slave traders. The truth is that almost immediately upon the discovery of the New World, Columbus and other Jewish slave traders began capturing and sending large numbers of natives to the European slave markets. American history books omit this information because it conflicts with the Disney narrative of a Bambi-like America populated by a vast migration of oppressed peoples searching for freedom and opportunity. American historians and the US government still adamantly refuse to face the harsh truths of the financial benefits of slavery to the white elite population and to the economic development of the nation.
The propaganda machine tells us the US was a colony that had been founded on the principles of religious freedom and tolerance. But in modern American history, slavery was very clearly connected to the American pursuit of economic, political and cultural supremacy. Even the very first ships arriving in America as early as the 1500s were carrying slaves for the local market. Many historians estimate that at least 20 million Africans were kidnapped and transported to the US for the local and hemispheric slave markets, and when we consider the generally-accepted figure that only about 10% of the blacks kidnapped survived to actually arrive in America, that represents perhaps 200 million killed. The moral values that produced the slave trade, colonisation, and imperialism, were so embedded in the Judeo-Christian psyche that they persisted essentially unchanged for centuries and have by no means disappeared to this day.
Slavery was supposedly abolished by the end of the 1860s, but continued in other forms, and for another 100 years there was a huge backlash against black people resulting in terrorism, hangings, and countless laws intended to prevent economic and political competition by blacks. American slavery was based on a rigid religious sense of social class hierarchy, with nearly half of Southern US families owning slaves and their economic, political and social standing depending on their slave ownership. Most of them rigidly followed harsh forms of Judaism or evangelical Christianity, justifying their participation in slavery by obscure and false references to biblical tales, especially Jewish and Christian theories regarding the basic inferiority of blacks, and by claims that all great past civilisations engaged in slavery. Many also tried to impose their warped versions of religion on their slaves as a means of population control.
According to one historian, Blacks were, “hanged, burned, beaten, tortured, murdered, whipped, chopped up by human butchers who cut and mangle the slaves in a shocking manner on the most trifling occasions, and altogether treat them in every respect like brutes”. They used to “drive nails into a hogshead so as to leave the point of the nail just protruding in the inside of the cask. They would then put a slave into the cask, nail the lid shut, and roll it down a very long and steep hill.” The slave owners would flog them to death, until they were just one mass of blood and raw flesh, thinking nothing more of it than of a dog being killed. One author quoted from the personal diary of a man named Thomas Thistlewood, who was a plantation overseer in the US, and who describes his slaves being beaten and then having feces and urine forced into their mouths. One slave-owner told a visitor “Some Negroes are determined never to let a white man whip them and will resist you when you attempt it; of course, you must kill them in that case”. Physical and sexual abuse of slaves was widely accepted and done openly. Female slaves were regularly raped by their masters and offered as treats to visiting friends. Fergus Bordewich, in a Wall Street Journal article, wrote: “Although the vast majority of the company’s “human stock” would wind up in the cotton fields, many females, attractive mulattoes in particular, were destined for prostitution. In one of several letters that Mr. Baptist quotes, a company senior partner suggests matter-of-factly that two women he had recently purchased “could soon pay for themselves by keeping a whore house … for the Exclusive benefit of the concern and its allied agents.”
The stories of the immense and heartless cruelty done by white Americans to their black slaves, would make you shrink in horror at the inhuman savagery of it all, but Americans have been so effectively overwhelmed by myth and ideology as to stubbornly insist that their country was founded on Christian values, on freedom and human rights. The Jewish-American congresswoman Michele Bachman made the unbelievably stupid claim that black slavery wasn’t so bad because it gave children an opportunity to grow up in a “family environment”, conveniently ignoring the facts that (1) family separation was intrinsic to the slavery process and (2) slaves were not permitted to marry, so the offspring of black females were generally the result of rape by white masters. Not exactly a family environment, Michelle, but thanks for the contribution.
Americans will tell you that the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution set the nation on a new morally-righteous course by outlawing slavery, but that claim is false. Slavery was never abolished in America. The 13th Amendment states clearly that slavery and involuntary servitude are permissible “as punishment for crimes”, and that says it all. After this amendment, slavery continued in the US as before but with an altered structure. Prior to this, blacks, whites and native Indians were owned by their masters; after the amendment, they were free criminals being punished for crimes – the only useful difference being the change in name. Immediately upon the granting of their “freedom”, those same people were rounded up as criminals and placed into the nation’s new convict leasing system where they were treated as badly as before. New laws were immediately passed that would effectively criminalise blacks and other former slaves and permit their re-insertion into slavery. These so-called crimes were often so vaguely-defined as to be universal, as was their capricious and arbitrary enforcement. A theft of an item worth less than a dollar would result in a prison sentence of five years. For blacks and former slaves, vagrancy was a crime, as was ‘wandering’. Looking at a white woman was a crime, possessing insufficient identification or proof of employment would result in a prison sentence, as would owing a debt or ‘walking while being black’. Additional crimes were fabricated almost daily to justify the rounding up of the blacks – and many of the poor – into what could become a lifetime of indentured slavery. Laws allowed for police to “round up idle blacks in times of labor scarcity”, providing employers the legal tools to prevent these slave workers from ever exiting the system.
Part Three of Six will contain: Labor and Wage Theft
Mr. Romanoff’s writing has been translated into 32 languages and his articles posted on more than 150 foreign-language news and politics websites in more than 30 countries, as well as more than 100 English language platforms. Larry Romanoff is a retired management consultant and businessman. He has held senior executive positions in international consulting firms, and owned an international import-export business. He has been a visiting professor at Shanghai’s Fudan University, presenting case studies in international affairs to senior EMBA classes. Mr. Romanoff lives in Shanghai and is currently writing a series of ten books generally related to China and the West. He is one of the contributing authors to Cynthia McKinney’s new anthology ‘When China Sneezes’. (Chapt. 2 — Dealing with Demons).
He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
(17) Britain and France controlled Iran oil
Edward S. Herman – the establishment can’t admit [that] it is human rights violations
President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Guatemala – Why should we worry about the death squads?
Mexico conference 1945 – eliminate “the scourge of economic nationalism”,
(54) “Normal Exposure” and Inoculation Syphilis: A PHS “Tuskegee” Doctor in Guatemala, 1946-48
General David Shoup
Clinton – “uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies, and strategic resources”
Panama CIA drugs
Jewish Slave Trading
(98) The historical record of the Opium Jews engaging in massive slave-trading in oth India and China, has been severely cleansed, with few traces remaining. The only full historical records exist partially in India and mostly in China – where these truths are well-known, but the references are all in Chinese only. Millions of Chinese were abducted and sold to build the North American railways, the Panama Canal and Panama Railway, the guano mines in Peru, and so much more.
Edward Baptist article in Salon, “We still lie about slavery”
Ron Jacobs, Counterpunch, December 31, 2015, The American Slave Coast