Machiavelli and Marx Debate – II



Chronicled by Theosophus



The same men who establish their social relations in conformity with their material productivity, produce also principles, ideas and categories, in conformity with their social relations.  Thus, these ideas, these categories, are as little eternal as the relations they express.  They are historical and transitory products.”

“Ideas can never lead beyond an old world order but only beyond the ideas of the old world order.  Ideas cannot carry out anything at all.  In order to carry out ideas men are needed who can exert practical force.”                    Karl Marx

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Judging by his facial expressions, Marx’s mood changed dramatically during Machiavelli’s opening argument: from bemused, to bewildered, to irritated, to angry, and finally, to fierce determination.  Watching him, I recalled the remark of a Communist League friend who knew him well.  “In everyday conversation,” the friend observed, “Marx often rambles.  But whenever the smallest part of his theory is questioned, his mind immediately acquires the clarity of a dagger.”

Walking purposefully to the lectern, Marx took rumpled sheets of paper from the right pocket of his jacket.   Smoothing them out, he placed them, along with dog-eared copies of Grundrisse, The German Ideology, The Holy Family and The Poverty of Philosophy, next to a lined pad on which he had been scribbling notes.  Throughout his presentation Marx referenced the notes and books with the seeming ease of a Horowitz using the keys of a piano.

Clearing his throat, he began speaking.

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Marx: “Good evening.  Like my opponent, I want to thank everyone involved in bringing this debate about, as well as all of you in the audience, for your open-minded interest and civility.”

“I also want to thank my adversary.”

“Mr. Machiavelli presented a truncated materialist logic, one diluted with non-material assumptions and assertions.  But, given the plethora of idealist theories which describe human history as a product of ‘lofty aspirations,’ ‘intelligent choices,’ ‘errors’ and ‘misunderstandings, rather than people acting upon their hard-and-fast socio-economic interests, I found it refreshing.”

“Machiavelli called himself a scientist. So, I’ll start by reminding him what science has established concerning our species’ history.”

“We homo sapiens have been around between 300,000-335,000 years, and for all but the last 10,000 we lived in hunting and gathering tribes with 20 to 100 members, depending upon the available food.”

“It was only a short 10 millenia ago that we finally began to progress: from hunting and gathering to horticulture—planting various crops together; then, to agriculture–sowing and harvesting larger tracts of specific grains.”

“Over the course of that critical 10,000 years the populations of our communities grew continually larger.  Hunting and gathering tribes had 20-100 members.  Their semi-nomadic horticultural/agricultural replacements had hundreds; and the latter, in turn, were succeeded by stationary feudal societies whose populations sometimes numbered in the millions.  Today’s capitalist communities are bigger still, the U.S. having more than 334,000,000 people, China an estimated 1,417,801,575.”

“For what portion of humanity’s 200,000 year historical journey does Mr. Machiavelli offer a materialist explanation? Approximately 0.3 percent: the last few hundred years, characterized by the existence of principalities and nation-states.”

“It would be hard to formulate a theory of our species’ social, economic and political evolution more truncated than that.”

“Mr. Machiavelli’s materialist logic is also badly diluted with idealist propositions.”

“Describing himself as an ’objective scientist,’ he declared: ‘I limit my analyses to explaining what’s happening and the material reasons why.’”

“However, immediately thereafter he informed us he would have supported the United States during World War II, saying the U.S. was ‘more democratic than Germany or Japan.’”

“Is this, one wonders, what Mr. Machiavelli means by scientific observation?”

“If you’ve read The Prince and the Discourses, you’re aware he depicts leaders as ‘democratic’ insofar as they enjoy the backing of their people.  That definition, to his misfortune, objectively renders his conclusion about Hitler’s Germany and Hirohito’s Japan pure nonsense.”

“Anyone who’s studied World War II knows that until 1943 Hitler was more wildly popular with Germans than either Roosevelt or Churchill was with their respective populations.  That is, Germany was objectively more, not less, democratic.”

“As for Japan, historians have also documented its peoples’ enthusiasm–from a western perspective, a manic enthusiasm–for Prime Minister Tojo and Emperor Hirohito.”

“When confronted with these material realities, American sociologists often conclude the Germans and Japanese were duped’ ordeluded’ into giving their leaders such unquestioning support.  But those are idealist, not materialist propositions.”

“A genuinely scientific Machiavelli would have limited his inquiry to disclosing the Natural Necessity of WWII and the Natural Necessity of the roles played by each of the combatant nations, refusing to take sides in a conflict that entailed the slaughter of over 70 million people.”

“Abandoning materialist inquiry altogether, Machiavelli then went on to defend the United States’ destruction of Iraq’s infrastructure and its grotesque killing of countless thousands of Iraqis as ‘necessary for the preservation of Western Culture.’”

“Now, to anyone who’s the least bit objective, it’s obvious that the positive and negative cultural contributions of our species have never been preponderantly Eastern or Western, or the exclusive offerings of particular states.”

“The German culture which graced the world with Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, the Aachen Cathedral and the Altes Museum, is the same German culture that cursed it with Adolph Hitler and Hermann Goering, the Holocaust, the extermination of homosexuals and gypsies, and the slave labor of millions of East Europeans in National Socialist factories.”

“The French culture that contributed Descarte, Voltaire, Renoir, Jean Jacques Rousseau, the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Couer and Notre Dame, is the same French culture which in 1572 massacred 50,000 Huguenots in a six-weeks orgy of blood.  It’s the French culture that killed Arabs indiscriminately during Algeria’s 8-year battle for independence, torturing children in front of parents and parents in front of their children.”

“The Italian culture of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, is the Italian culture which produced Pope Gregory XIII, who congratulated Catherine de Medici for exterminating the 50,000 Calvinist Huguenots, ordered celebratory bonfires lighted and a gold medalion minted with the inscription: ‘Slaughter of the Huguenots.’ It’s the Italian culture that gave us both the brilliant Galileo and the Inquisition authorities who forced him to recant his heliocentric vision, then put him under house arrest for the remainder of his life.”

“Spain’s cultural offerings include Goya, Velasquez, Dali, Picasso, Miguel de Cervantes, the Iglesia de Montserrat and Botanical Gardens, along with the Inquisition’s torture racks and the cruelly oppressive 40-year regime of General Francisco Franco.”

“Russian culture donated Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Dostoyevsky, Anton Chekov, St. Basil’s Cathedral and the Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel.  It also furnished Ivan the Terrible; and Joseph Stalin, who rationalized and directed the killing of millions.”

“In addition to Confucius, Lao Tsu, the compass, paper, printing, gun powder, the Potala Palace, the Great Wall and the Forbidden City, China’s cultural contributions to humanity include General Chiang Kai-shek who, in Summing Up at Seventy,’ observed that while reconquering the mainland would mean death for many millions, it would be well worth the effort. Today, Chinese culture includes the use of brute force to suppress the rights of Tibetans as well as tens-of-millions of its own people.”

“Then there was Ancient Greece.  Called ‘The Fountainhead of Western Culture’ because it emphasized the use of reason and introduced our species to democracy, Ancient Greece also waged centuries of bloody war over the control of land; and its democracy, which lived less than a hundred years, was never available to women or slaves (and almost every free family had slaves) or even to freedmen.”

“As for hapless Iraq, in addition to Saddam and Chemical Ali, its cultural offerings go all the way back that momentous 10,000 years, to the dawn of modern civilization. ‘The first cities, the first written language, and the first legal system all began there.’”

“Let’s have the courage to be honest!”

”The United States wanted Iraq’s oil!  But it was destroying, not preserving our species’ cultural heritage when it brought about the burning of Baghdad’s National Library and National Archives; the sacking of its museum; the destruction of Mosul’s rare book and manuscript collection, and Basra University’s museum.  And the U.S. carried out this wrack-and-ruin with remarkable indifference.  Asked how he felt about the devastation, former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, a leading neocon custodian-of-anti-culture, blithely responded: ‘You can’t make an omlet without breaking eggs.’”

“On this occasion, Rumsfeld was at least being sincere.  As Mr. Machiavelli documented, making an omlet of Iraq was what the U.S. was about.”

“Where determining the role the neocons and the U.S. are playing in the Mid East is concerned, Machiavelli did start with a materialist observation.  ‘Only by joining in national communities which they give allegiance and fight to protect,’ he argued, ‘are people able to acquire physical, emotional and psychological security, find employment, build homes, feed and clothe their children, and raise them to share the values they hold dear.’”

“But a more humanitarian materialist would not have been so provincial.”

“Common sense, as well as all the available evidence, indicates our ancestors also paid fealty and fought to defend their various pre-national communities.

Besides being equally objective, the much simpler proposition that: The easiest way for people to reproduce their social existences is to join in communities which they give allegiance and fight to protect’, has a universal reference.”

“It accurately describes the practices of ancestral tribes and other pre-national communities, as well as those of the feudal and capitalist states with which my opponent seems so exclusively concerned.”

“Constructing a materialist theory of humanity’s social practice requires that we give the same species-applicable rephrasing to Machiavelli’s deduction about leaders.”

‘It follows, he reasoned,that the foremost objective of a nation’s leader, whether president, prime minister or prince, must be the preservation of the state upon which the lives and the well-being of his people depend.’”

“If we make the rational, and, again, the materially obvious, assumption leaders are as interested in perpetuating their hegemonic social existences as followers are in protecting less enviable conditions, we can rephrase Machiavelli’s conclusion to state:”

“The foremost objective of a leader who wishes to maintain his favored status must be the preservation of the community upon which a reproduction of his people’s social existences depends.”

“Common sense, and the historical record, make it clear any leader who fails to accomplish that feat will be in serious trouble.”

“Having reworded Mr. Machiavelli’s central axioms to make them representative of human behavior, not just the behavior of people joined in national communities, I’ll   give you a materialist explanation of our species’ socio-economic-political evolution: where we’re at, how we got here, and, by logical implication, where we are going.”

(Pausing to retrieve additional sheets of wrinkled paper, this time from his jacket’s left pocket, Marx examined them briefly, then continued:)

“Those of you unfamiliar with my theory may be surprised to hear I begin by agreeing with my conservative predecessor Adam Smith that we humans are driven by self-interest.”

“It is natural necessity and interest that hold the members of civil society together,’ Engels and I emphasized in The Holy Family.”

“We repeated this keystone tenet in The German Ideology, saying: ‘Individuals seek only their particular interest.’”

“What is this ‘self-interest’ which unifies communities of people around the employment of particular methods of production and distribution?”

“It’s here that Adam Smith’s thinking and my own diverge sharply.”

“Smith described the populations of capitalist communities as engaged in trying to better their socio-economic conditions/enhance their material situations, while an Unseen Hand’ binds them together.”

“For me, however, the preservation of their ‘social existences;’ by which I mean a reproduction of the socio-economic conditions they already enjoy, is far more important than improving it for the members of every community.”

“And it is the things which people cooperatively do to achieve that paramount objective, not some mythical ‘Unseen Hand,’ which unifies them around given systems of production.”

”’Production,’ as I stated in Grundrisse: ‘aims at the reproduction of the producer and his objective conditions of existence.’”

”Don’t misunderstand me. I am not denying given members of a community will strive to improve their socio-economic situations.  My point is more fundamental.”

“In the immediate present, that is, in-the-here-and-now, every community’s production of goods and services has a fixed dimension; which is what enables economists to assign the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of nations a specific monetary figure.”

“It therefore follows that insofar as some individuals acquire more of the productive pie in-the-here-and-now, other members of the community must receive less; and that will be creative of tension/conflict/enmity, rather than amity, between them.”

“Which is why politicians always attempt to make pies bigger, rather than give more to one social segment by taking from another.  It’s also why conservative legislators (correctly) accuse liberal colleagues who dare to suggest policies expropriative of the wealthy of engaging in class warfare.’”

“In other words, in-the-here-and-now, the acquisitive efforts of particular individuals will be destructive, not creative, of community.  Since to speak of a community’s existence presupposes its members are somehow bound together in-the-here-and-now, it’s obvious they are not being bound by the attempts of some to gain.”

“Smith theorized they’re held together by an ‘Unseen Hand.’ I contend that for a materialist the nature of the hand is clear. It is nothing other than the shared desire of every community member to reproduce his/her social existence; i.e, to keep what they already possess.  And, as I will demonstrate, it is the members of a community acting upon this shared material objective, an objective assumed and unspoken, which has driven our species forth.”

“When hunting and gathering tribes became too large to obtain adequate food in a given territory they initially did what bees and ants do.  Intent on reproducing their primitive social existence, some members of the tribe simply swarmed to a new location.“

“Population growth and the desire to maintain social existence gradually led our earliest ancestors to inhabit remote regions of the earth, adapting to different climates and different food sources as they moved.”

“Eventually, however, with tribal populations continuing to increase and the amount of new habitable territory declining, fighting began over the control of specific lands.  Judging from the practices of tribes who presently inhabit tropical regions of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, our warring tribal ancestors used a variety of symbols–tattoos, feathers, paints and animistic deities—to identify themselves and their causes and to strengthen their resolve.”

“At various times, in various locations, reproducing social existence required tribes to turn their enemies into a source of protein.  Their cannibalism was similarly justified/made rational with elaborate beliefs, ceremonies and incantations.”

“After hunting and gathering for 275,000-plus years our ancestors approached a critical juncture: There were too many people for the earth to feed, house and clothe if they continued using that order of production and distribution.”

“As I remarked in Grundrisse:

“‘The overpopulation among hunting peoples, which shows itself in the warfare between the tribes, proves not that the earth could not support their small numbers, but rather, that the condition of their reproduction required a great amount of territory for few people.’”

“To succinctly describe the oxymoronic situation our hunting and gathering predecessors now faced: their quest for a constancy of  their socio-economic condition would force them to radically change.”

“As war ceased to be the easiest way for hunters and gatherers to reproduce their social existence, they began making slaves of enemies rather than killing them, establishing nomadic-slave communities, domesticating animals, and practicing rudimentary agriculture.”

“Whereupon, a territory which had provided for 20-100 hunters and gatherers could now  sustain several times that number; and, do it at a significantly higher socio-economic level, providing better food, clothing and shelter.  The problem of overpopulation and consequent violent struggle was momentarily relieved, and, our species social evolution at long last began.”

“Und dort haben Sie es!  The Dialectical Materialist nature of humanity’s historical progress!  Fundamental socio-economic-political changes have been the result of an assumed desire for no change, under material circumstances which were themselves undergoing transformation; principally, though not exclusively, because of an increase in population.”

“From hunting and gathering, to nomadic slave, to feudal, and, I believe, to capitalist, each succeeding order of production and distribution has been able to sustain a given number of people at a given socio-economic level.”

“Each has ‘sowed the seeds of its own destruction’ by creating problems it could not solve, including the formation of a growing sub-community whose members social existences it lacked the capacity to sustain.”

“Fortunately, at the same time each has spawned, then nurtured into adolesence, a more cornucopian and flexible system which was able to socio-economically maintain the community, and, to heal the wounds its parent order had inflicted.”

“In Grundrisse, I recounted the Dialectical Materialist development of colonialist and slave-holding practices in ancient Rome, explaining:”

“’After the City of Rome had been built and the surrounding countryside cultivated by its citizens, the conditions of the community were different from what they had been before.  The aim of all these communities is survival; i.e., reproduction of the individuals who compose it as proprietors, i.e. in the same objective mode of existence as forms the relation among the members and at the same time therefore the commune itself.  This reproduction, however, is at the same time necessarily new production and destruction of the old form.  For example, where each of the individuals is supposed to possess a given number of acres of land, the advance of population is already underway.  If this is to be corrected, then colonization, and that in turn requires wars of conquest. With that, slaves, etc.  Also, e.g., enlargement of the ager publicus, and therewith the patricians who represent the community etc. Thus the preservation of the old community includes the destruction of the conditions on which it rests, turns into its opposite.’”

“Throughout much of temperate Western Europe our ancestors’ defensive formation of feudal productive orders was brought about by the equally defensive predations of Scandinavian Vikings in the 8th century.”

“Natives of Sweden, Denmark and Norway, the Vikings were farmers with large families who could no longer feed, house and clothe their increasing numbers in their climatically less hospitable homelands.”

“They initially raided Europe’s coastal regions in search of silver, gold and slaves.  But Central Europe’s fertile land and warmer weather soon led them to establish villages and settle down, further destabilizing the lives of those whose territories they invaded.”

“British historian William Stubbs noted that for indigenous Central Europeans the: ‘chronic absense of any effective central government and the threat of war and famine contributed to the general awareness of the need for security and protection.  It was in this atmosphere of collapsing central authority, civil war, invasion and overall economic stagnation that the institution known as feudalism appeared.’”

“Within Europe’s nascent feudal communities everyone’s life practices became rigidly, but protectively, defined.  Control of the land was of prime importance. Serfs worked it. With the king’s sanction, lords owned it, but were above doing any physical work.  The lords were warriors, whose principal function was to defend everyone, including the monarch and the serfs, against invasion.”

“In addition, the lords were sworn to furnish adequate land, firewood and housing materials for their serfs.  On their parts, the serfs’ tasks included animal husbandry, crop raising, building and maintaining the monarch’s and lords’ dwellings, carrying their water, making their clothing, currying their horses; and, as the feudal productive order matured, following the lords into battle.”

“All relationships between lords, peasants, religious authorities and kings were justified and sustained not by monetary exchanges or legal agreements, but by ‘personal loyalty and service’ enforced by each individual’s sense of obligation.  Barter (this-for-that trade), rather than currency, controlled nearly every other movement of goods.”

“Money-lending for interest was considered usury and sinful on the part of borrowers as well as lenders.  Behind it all stood the Roman Catholic Church, unified with the State, formulating and propagating the appropriate philosophical rationales (feudalism’s manifestation in ideas), and pressuring recalcitrants to abide by their obligations lest they suffer punishment at the hand of God.”

“Europe’s progressive feudal communities then grew and prospered.”

“But, like hunting and gathering and nomadic slave communities before them, in time they started having difficulty maintaining the social existence of their increasing populations.  For a few hundred years, again, like their predecessors, feudal principalities/states eased that problem by warring with one another.”

“Gradually, however, taking another progressive step and establishing the more cornucopian capitalist order of production became a Natural Necessity.”

“While it’s possible that by reducing Western Europe’s population by one-quarter to one-half the bubonic plague (‘Black Death’) of 1347-50 may have delayed exhaustion of the feudal productive system, in some ways it appears to have accelerated the process.”

“Historian Fernand Braudel argues the plague aggravated an economic recession which had started 50 years before.  With hundreds of small villages depopulated, surviving peasants were driven into cities to endure.  In turn, the growth of cities made it increasingly difficult for landholders to simply barter agricultural products for things they needed.  Money began to be an imperative.”

“Recession was also making Europe’s battles, hence its armies, grandscale.  That entailed using hired soldiers, cast-iron cannon, and swords in ever-larger quantities, all of which likewise had to be paid for with money.  Finally, the recession prompted many lords to expand their landholdings in an effort to hang on.  That, too, required the use of legal tender.”

“In order to obtain the necessary funds, lords had no alternative to borrowing from the inchoate financiers located in cities, which meant usury would have to begin losing its feudal, church-dictated, stigma.  Land-holding nobles further undermined their feudal productive orders by sending sons who were unable to acquire personal estates to the rapidly growing cities where they became financiers and merchants, as well as engaging in handicraft and rudimentary industrial production: makers and sellers of the swords, cannon and uniforms the feudal elites so desperately needed.”

“Confronting Europeans with the material reality that religious devotion could no longer offer them protection, economic recession and plague had also begun eroding the Catholic Church’s unquestioned authority. ‘The Black Death led to cynicism toward religious officials who could not keep their frequent promises of curing plague victims and banishing the disease.’”

“Purporting to be Jesus’ earthly intermediary, the feudal Church had traditionally absolved individuals of their sins for confession, and/or good deeds, such as aiding the poor.”

“But by the late 13th century, feudalism’s growing inability to sustain Europe’s population was squeezing the clergy, whose numbers were also increasing, prompting the Church to begin selling forgiveness in the form of ‘indulgences.’”

“Theologian Richard Hooker related the indulgences: ‘subsituted good works of the Catholic clergy for the good works required of the individual believer.  Proof of this substitution was in the indulgence itself, which was a piece of paper . . . that certified good works of the clergy had paid off “the good works debt” of the individual believer.  Inspired by the need to raise money, Hooker argued, ‘indulgences reproduced the very logic of money.’”

“Like the nobility, the clergy were actively engaged in ‘sowing the seeds’ of their feudal productive order’s destruction.”

“The first perceptible signs of capitalism’s fetal development within the feudal  structure appeared in Spain.”

“Machiavelli described how a lack of rain and fertile land led the Spanish to conquer New World territories in order to ‘defend their state.’ I’d like you to read his  defend their state’ as ‘maintain their people’s social existences.’”

“But there was another, equally important, material process at work in Spain.  Financiers, workshop manufacturers and merchants, with Jews in the forefront, were effecting changes which threatened the country’s feudal structure.”

“With rare exception, Jews had not been allowed to become members of Europe’s land-owning elite.  As a consequence, they maintained social existence by adopting the indicated industrial-world occupations, making them urban-dwelling leaders of the revolutionary capitalist transformation.”

“By the mid-15th century the anti-feudal roles which socio-economic survival was requiring Jews to play began bringing them into open conflict with Spain’s landed nobility as the country’s feudal system became daily more inadequate.”

“Conservatively, predictably, the landholding elite initially responded to the mounting threat with a cautious antisemitism, demanding Jews either leave the country or convert to the elite’s feudal understanding of Christianity.”

“While hundreds-of-thousands of Jews took the second course, of necessity, their every-day practices continued to have the same capitalist-order impact as before.”

“In 1478, acquiescing to pressure being exerted by the landed nobility through King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, Pope Sixtus IV authored the brutal Spanish Inquisition.  The principal targets of the Inquisition would be the Jewish converts, who, it was argued, correctly in most cases, were not sincere about their conversion.  According to the King’s decree, ’Ecclesiastical Tribunals’ were formally established and instructed: ‘to judge heretical depravity, to search out and punish converts from Judiasm who have transgressed against Christianity by secretly adhering to Jewish beliefs and performing Jewish rites.’”

“Fourteen years later the King and Queen ordered that Jews be expelled from the country.”

“But, though the feudal-elite could not foresee it, Spain would soon relieve its developing productive order crisis by exporting excess population to, while acquiring huge quantities of gold, silver and other mineral riches from, the New World.”

“Christopher Columbus wrote in his diary: ‘In the same month in which Their Majesties issued the edict that all Jews should be driven out of the kingdom and its territories, in the same month they gave me the order to undertake with sufficient men my expedition of discovery to the Indies.’”

“Portugal’s situation was similar to that of Spain: insufficient arable land, infertile soil and inadequate rainfall; and, like Spain, it relieved its feudal-order crisis by exporting people and importing New World pelf.”

“Spain and Portugal’s New World successes were rapid, ruthless, and astoundingly profitable. During one period of only a few weeks Columbus: ‘shipped to Spain nearly two tons of gold.’”

“Francisco Pizzaro had a similar experience when he entered Peru.  After slaughtering 7,000 of Atahuallpa’s warriors in a single night, Pizzaro agreed to give the Inca king freedom in exchange for silver and gold.  Atahuallpa provided him with two and a half tons of gold and five tons of silver as his part of the bargain.  Pizzaro then had him strangled to better secure control of the country.”

“Portugal, too, reaped and raped remarkable profit during this period.”

“Neither the resistance of native populations, nor their disappearance through European diseases to which they had no natural defense, proved to be obstacles of great significance.  Flagrant brutality and extermination solved the first, the importation of millions of African slaves the second.”

“By the latter part of the 16th century, comfortably ensconced in the New World, Spain had founded universities in two of its conquered territories: the University of Mexico in 1553, and the University of San Marcos at Lima, Peru in 1572.”

“With large numbers of their people moving to the New World and establishing the grand fiefdoms no longer available at home, their economies infused by stolen New World treasure, for the next three hundred years Spain and Portugal’s feudal systems again became secure.”

“But where colonialism and the theft of Latin American wealth–also African wealth in Portugal’s case–would enable the Spanish and Portuguese land-holding elites to preserve their pre-capitalist orders, such efforts did not work nearly so well for France and England.”

“Because their feudal systems of production began experiencing structural crisis a little later than those of Spain and Portugal, England and France trailed those two countries where attempting to vent excess population in the New World and seize its riches were concerned.”

“Not that the late comers failed to try.  Without exception, all of England and France’s New World incursions during the 17th century were expressly aimed at acquiring wealth in the form of  gold, silver and precious stones.”

“Yet, however much they prayed, God seemed unsympathetic.  There were no vast stores of mineral wealth waiting to be seized in the unconquered regions of North America.  In addition, the northern territories had a far less hospitable climate, and were inhabited by Indians who, not living in large, easily destroyed cities, were able to fight back when their own social existences were threatened.”

“The first shipload of England’s Jamestown settlers arrived in May 1607.  Eight months later, weakened from hunger and infected by disease, ‘only 38 of the 104 colonists were still alive—barely.’ George Percy, Jamestown’s president, recorded that by 1610 they were reduced to eating ‘dogs, cats, rats, and mice.’”

“Additional hundreds of colonists reached Jamestown over the next couple decades.  Yet, where energizing England’s feudal economy was concerned, the Jamestown settlement continued to have little value, and the colonists were soon at war with natives.”

“In 1622, 347 of what were by then approximately 1,400 settlers were murdered by Algonquians enraged at being driven from traditional lands by the colonizers’ tobacco farming.  Writer Karen Lange notes that ‘three out of four who came to Jamestown between 1607 and 1624 died from disease, hunger and conflict with the Indians.’ In 1644, a second attack by the Algonquians, whose own population was now in radical decline, killed another 400 colonists.”

“Under the circumstances, very few English were interested in moving to the New World, and France’s New World ventures proved even less rewarding.”

“Both countries then tried to ease their feudal order crises with piracy.  If they could not compete with Spain and Portugal in stealing New World wealth, they could at least profit by robbing the robbers.”

“But, though highly remunerative, and ample justification for getting Francis Drake knighted, the piracy would not solve their problem of having inadequate productive systems either; which, in England’s case, was already changing from chronic to acute.”

“The number of French and English who were finding it necessary to take up capitalist-world occupations to survive had long been growing.  The construction of ships needed to export colonists and raid Spanish and Portuguese vessels, the manufacturing of axes, plows, hammers, nails, guns, clothing, etc., for provisioning their own, as well as, ironically, Spanish and Portuguese settlers, only accelerated that transformation.”

“Having no less painful and disruptive alternative left for maintaining the majority of its people’s social existence, in the mid-17th century England underwent the capitalist revolution, followed by France a hundred years later.”

“With their capitalist revolutions, political power was wrenched from the increasingly decrepit hands of landowners and given to the financiers, merchants and industrialists whose hour of authority had arrived.”

“In a letter to P.V. Annenkov I described the Dialectical Materialist overthrow of  England’s feudal order of production, writing:”

“’The privileges, the institutions of guilds and corporations, the regulatory regime of the Middle Ages, were social relations that alone corresponded to the acquired productive forces and to the social condition which had previously existed and from which these institutions had arisen.  Under the protection of the regime of corporations and regulations, capital was accumulated, overseas trade was developed, colonies were founded.  But the fruits of this men would have forfeited if they had tried to retain the forms under whose shelter these fruits had ripened.  Hence burst two thunderclaps—the Revolutions of 1640 and 1688.  All the old economic forms, the social relations corresponding to them, the political conditions which were the official expression of the old civil society, were destroyed in England.’”

“I reiterated my central thesis in the Annenkov letter, observing:

“‘Men never relinquish what they have won, but this does not mean that they never relinquish the social form in which they have acquired certain productive forces.  On the contrary, in order that they may not be deprived of the result attained, and forfeit the fruits of civilization, they are obliged, from the moment when the form of their commerce no longer corresponds to the productive forces acquired, to change all their traditional social forms.’”

“The Natural Necessity of each successive order of production and distribution, and the material reason it had a much shorter life-span than its predecessor, should be evident.”

“By producing a drastic improvement in people’s security, clothing, housing, food quality, and, therefore, their health and longevity, each generated a more explosive increase in population than its forerunner, leading, in turn, to its own more rapid exhaustion and demise.”

“Hunters and gatherers lived about 17 years, rarely more than 20.  The average life span of many capitalist country populations is over 75.”

“Demographers estimate that when Columbus set sail the total world population was about 400 million. At present, only a few hundred years after capitalist systems of production began to be erected, it’s over 7.7 billion and rapidly growing.”

“It’s also obvious why the changes in productive-distributive orders have all been unidirectional.”

“If the United States decided to return to a feudal existence, at least 65 percent of Americans would either have to be exiled or killed.  An estimated 2 percent of the population currently produces over 90 percent of the country’s foodstuffs, using sophisticated irrigation systems, tractors, plows and combines that only a highly advanced industrial economy can provide.  The foodstuffs are then distributed via trains, planes and semis, which likewise require a complex industrial order for their manufacture.   So, too, with everything else Americans enjoy, including housing, clothing, medical care, entertainment and travel.”

“Similarly, maintaining the social existences of the French or English during the 16th century would have been impossible if they had decided to raze their feudal productive orders and revert to using nomadic-slave or hunting and gathering systems of production.”

“A materialist explanation for the origin of social classes, politics and ideology is also inherent in what I‘ve said about our species’ social evolution.”

“The transition from hunting and gathering to the nomadic-slave mode of production introduced an important new ingredient: a division of labor. Specific tasks began to be performed by specific individuals.  As the slave order achieved viability, it started turning out goods and services in excess of the amount required to reproduce everyone’s social existence.”

“Due to the division of labor, some individuals—the slave masters—found themselves in control of that excess.  So long as the slaves’ social existence was being maintained, they would exert little or no pressure for a share of the surplus, making the formation of an elite social class a Natural and Necessary result.”

“Having a hegemonic status to be preserved, the elites then needed special protective devices. Politics and the political state were the practical weapons reflexively born of that need.  In the same way, and for the same reason, abstract philosophies and religions were spontaneously created to provide the requisite blueprints and justifications.”

“Individuals calling themselves ‘Marxists’ sometimes portray elites as duplicitous where the creation and employment of philosophy/religion and political institutions are concerned.”

“Their idealist reasoning has nothing whatsoever to do with my own materialist logic.”

“To the contrary, I’ve argued elites instinctively and sincerely formulate those religio-philosophical ideas, create those political institutions, engage in those practices which most effectively/least disruptively enable them to secure their favored social existences.”

“For the same reason, middle classes and the poor just as spontaneously adopt the elites’ philosophical-religious ideas, embrace their political institutions, and adhere to the associated political practice.”

“If non-elite members of a community were to reject the elite’s philosophical vision, refuse to act upon it, they would have to confront the elite physically, and neither of them would be socio-economically sustained.”

“Therefore, as long as productive orders have been able to perpetuate (reproduce) their social existences, non-elites have reflexively internalized and acted upon the elites’ perspectives, some times enthusiastically, sometimes with reluctance, sometimes under dramatic protest, depending upon how well they were being sustained.”

“Engels and I emphasized this point in The German Ideology, writing:”

“‘The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas: i.e., the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. . . . The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas.’”

“Mr. Machiavelli described the fundamental logics leaders promote as ’lies told  to preserve their states.’”

“On this matter, our disagreement could not be more complete.”

“The American elites who defended their favored interests with the argument that settlers of Western territories were fighting ‘bloodthirsty indian savages’ believed it to be true.  So did the settlers.  Respecting that issue, no deception whatsoever was involved.”

“Stalin and the Soviet bureaucrats who protected their more prosperous social existences and that of the country’s (materially defined) state-capitalist elite with the claim they were imprisoning or killing tens-of-millions of anti-communist traitors during the Great Depression were thoroughly convinced that was what they were doing.”

“So, too, with the Nazis’ proposition Germany was involved in a fateful struggle against a Jewish-Communist conspiracy to dominate the world.   Hitler, Goering, Himmler, Speer and other National Socialist leaders were more than willing to lie in the service of what they considered true.  But, the idea of a Jewish-Communist conspiracy was, for them, among the most essential of realities.”

“Finally, American leaders were not lying when they described a ‘communist’ threat to  U.S. investments in Latin America, Asia and Africa from the 1960s to the late 80s.  The utilitarian meaning of ‘communist/communism’ which those with menaced investments employed was: ‘anyone or anything which threatens our interests.’ Hence, for them, raping, torturing and killing–into submission or out of existence—individuals who posed the threats, was seen as a painful but imperative endeavor; a ‘removal of cancer in order to save the patient,’ they often intoned.”

(With a wry smile, Marx then added:)

“If any of you still believe this country’s leaders were insincere about their anti-communist crusade I suggest  you discuss it with Ann Coulter.”

(Staring intently, first at Coulter, who had visibly paled and was squeezing the arms of her chair as though trying to break them, then at Bill O’Reilly, whose red face and bulging eyes threatened an explosion, Marx finished making his point.)

“During the same period, the Soviet Union’s elite employed their own unique interest-protective definitions.  Threats to their favored socio-economic status which came from the right were repressed as ‘capitalist.’  Threats from the left were labelled ‘leftist adventurism’ and crushed with equal vigor.”

“In each of these cases, elites and their political representatives spontaneously defined the world in defense of hegemonic social realities.  In each case, the non-elites whose social existences were being sustained reflexively followed.”

“’Are we homo sapiens really so conservative?,’ I can hear some of you asking.”

“Have you ever noticed that no one, whether politically Left, Right or Liberal, knowingly calls ‘true’ ideas which, when they act upon them as valid, result in their own socio-economic expropriation?”

“Now, we must either regard this as a miracle of walking-on-water and raising the dead proportions, or, consider it irrefutable empirical evidence that, before anything else, people’s political truths are blueprints and justifications for defending their personal social existences.”

“’But,’ you may protest, ‘there are individual exceptions to the above rule; Christ, for example, and Che Guevara.’”

“Granted.  However, history is made by people acting in community, and there are clearly no community exceptions.”

“Moreover, we know very well how people communally rationalize not following the individual egalitarian exceptions.  Proclaiming Christ ‘the Son of God,’ Christians excuse their own failure to share as the action of mere mortals; driving expensive cars to church, and drawing comfort from the biblical assurance Christ died to atone for their sins.”

“Similarly, the people of self-described socialist/communist nations have rationalized not imitating Che by calling him ‘the socialist man alive today;’ an elevated status they concede they have not yet personally attained.”

“In both instances the exceptions are idolized, and, as all of human history affirms, when people idolize they never emulate.”

“If tomorrow everyone began behaving as Christ prescribed, common sense argues it would mean the end of Christianity.  People might thereafter love Christ.  But is it rational to think they would continue worshipping someone no better than themselves?”

“The men who joined Che in the Bolivian mountains probably loved him.  But it’s illogical to suppose they idolized him for doing the same thing they were doing.”

“Do you still question our species inherent conservatism?”

“Then, let me give you another example.”

“It’s the reality of our universally shared experience that insofar as groups/communities of people have the same socio-economic existences to defend the question whether they should permit one another complete freedom of speech, press and assembly never arises.”

“Here in the United States, conservatives like William Bennett, Ramesh Ponnuru and Richard Mellon Scaife don’t debate granting each other such license.”

“Neither do their liberal counterparts. It would never occur to Hillary Clinton, Rahm Emanuel and Harry Reid to argue the propriety of allowing one another unfettered rights to organize, publish and speak.”

“Nor, again, do individuals on the Left: Michael Parenti, Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore  and Alex Cockburn for instance.”

“It’s the reality of our shared experience that insofar as communities of individuals do not have the same socio-economic existences to protect, but, for one to keep does not require that the others fail to do so, with a great show of magnanimity, they concede one another the indicated liberties.”

“However, it’s also the (less admirable) reality of our shared experience that whenever members of one community have found they could no longer preserve their socio-economic existences if those in another community were permitted to do so, they have readily taken each others’ lives; and, with a lot less hesitation, they’ve denied one another freedom of press, speech and assembly.”

“At such moments, stifling any democratic impulses they might have, people have begun to oppress, and to kill.”

“U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. defended the principle involved when he argued no one should be allowed to ‘yell fire in a crowded theater.’”

“The vital questions, of course, are ‘What constitutes a political yell of fire?’, and ‘When should the theater be said to be crowded?’”

“If you examine the Court’s application of the Holmes doctrine you will find that political ideas labelled ‘yells of fire’ were invariably ones which, if acted upon by the public to whom they were addressed, would have been expropriative of the socio-economic existences of the people who called them that.  And, the theater was said to be crowded insofar as it appeared likely the broader public might act.”

“I noted that while a community’s productive order remains viable, being conservative, non-elites act out support for the state and the elite’s vision.”

“Besides protecting the elite’s hegemonic interests, the state of a viable productive system serves everyone by defending from threats, both foreign and domestic, the order which enables a reproduction of their socio-economic conditions.”

“As Engels and I argued in The German Ideology, at such times ‘the State is the form in which the individuals of a ruling class assert their common interests, and in which the whole civil society of an epoch is epitomized.’”

“I said it again in Grundrisse: ‘Protection of acquisitions, etc.  When these trivialities are reduced to their real content, they tell more than their preachers know.  Namely, that every form of production creates its own legal relations, form of government, etc..’”

“As I noted in my letter to Annenkov: ‘assume particular stages of development in production, commerce and consumption and you will have a corresponding social constitution, a corresponding organization of the family, of orders or of classes, in a word, a corresponding civil society.’”

“For the same reason, when an exhausted order of production and distribution has been razed, as its successor begins to acquire viability its self-understanding, i.e., its philosophy, ‘becomes philosophy generally, in presence of the world.  It becomes the philosophy of the world of the present.’”

“’The formal features which attest a philosophy has achieved that importance, that it is the living soul of the culture, . . . were the same in all times,’ I observed in an article written for the Reinische Zeitung, calling the operative philosophy of a productive-distributive order its ‘Spiritual Quintessence.’”

“In other words, every community-self-consciousness (philosophy/religion) is the product of a desire on the part of the people who hold it to preserve their particular web of social existences, in their particular circumstances, at their particular time.”

“It follows that whether a community’s philosophy/religion is perpetuated, undergoes modification, or, is discarded entirely in favor of another, will be determined by the kind and degree of material change occurring in the situations of those who embrace it.”

“Engels and I spelled out the implicit Natural and Necessary conclusion in The German Ideology, proposing:”

“‘Morality, religion, metaphysics, all the rest of ideology and their corresponding forms of consciousness, thus no longer retain the semblance of  independence.  They have no history, no development, but men, developing their material production and their material intercourse, alter along with this their real existence, their thinking and the products of their thinking.’

“Are we humans really so inherently conservative?”

“If we judge our species by what we do, and not by what we say, our answer to that rhetorical question must be YES!

“If you’ve followed my materialist logic, you’ll understand my dismissal of the idealistic reasoning of Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett and other contemporary Hegelians, who put ideas in the lead and blame the world’s suffering on religion.”

“Declaring the search for ‘scientific truth’ urgently important, these lightheaded philosophers give ’truth’ and ‘science’ he same nonobjective and hyper-orthodox meaning as the Muslims, Jews, evangelical Christians and Pagans they so roundly condemn.”

“Remarkably, having asserted ‘We live in a world in which the obvious is overlooked as a matter of principle’, Sam Harris then shows us how it’s done.”

“If by ‘obvious’ he means ‘the logic of experience’ (that philosophical stance I call ‘materialism,’ and William James dubbed ‘radical empiricism’), Harris quite obviously confronts a dilemma:”

“Without exception, the members of feudal communities East and West are known to have believed God dictated how society should be organized, and, that God’s directives arrived on earth via the elites and the high religious authorities who shared their favored status and authored its ideological defense: the ’Divine Right of Kings’ in feudal Europe, the ‘Mandate of Heaven’ in feudal China and Japan.”

“Like me, most of you will undoubtledly agree with Harris that the feudalists were ‘wrong.’”

“However, we also know, because both common sense and our experience demand it, that if today the people of Japan, France, or any other industrial nation, decided to restore the feudal order they’d immediately find it necessary to adopt its system-sustaining web of beliefs.”

“For a week or two everyone might simply ‘play along,’ with those who elected to be peasants bowing to the dictates of priests and bishops, lords and ladies, kings and queens, just for the fun of it all.  But if the resurrected feudal system was going to have any permanence, it would be imperative that everyone internalize its logic, sincerely believing God had determined their respective stations, who they were, what they thought, and how they behaved toward one another.”

“In short, acknowledging the ‘materially obvious’ in this instance means recognizing that Religious Absolutism was the mental expression (representation in the form of ideas), of the feudal world; a metaphysics and epistemology which continues to exist in Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other pre-industrial regions of Asia and the Middle East today.”

“Hence, to call it ‘wrong’ in the abstract is like labelling the blueprint for a building we don’t like to be ‘in error.’”

“If, when confronted with this predicament, Harris, Dawkins, Hitchens, et al. still insist on maintaining their idealist stance, it goes from being implausible to being absurd.”

“Since what these psuedo-scientists hold to be the ‘errors’ of hunters and gatherers, nomadic slave holders, feudalists, contemporary Muslims, Pagans, Evangelical Christians and Zionist Jews, have obviously had a far greater creative impact on history than the ideas they personally consider ‘truth,’ they must now explain why anyone should ever bother looking for the latter.”

“They have, in short, adopted the mind-boggling position that—scripted by understandings they consider “wrong”— all of human history has been “a mistake”. That’s hardly a conclusion one might characterize as “scientific”.”

“We materialists are criticized for referring to historical processes as ‘inevitable,’ ‘Natural Necessity,’ and ‘dialectic.’ Hopefully, you now understand what we mean by those terms.”

“We’re not suggesting the transition from hunting and gathering tribes, to nomadic-slave communities, to feudal and capitalist nations, was pre-determined by an inflexible universe or a manipulative god.”

What made the journey ‘inevitable’ was us: i.e., our ‘survival-of-the-fittest’ insistence on reproducing our personal social existences in the least painful and disruptive way possible, whatever the cost to others; and the ceaseless changes in community theory and  practice/knowing and doing which realizing that objective has entailed.”

“This always seemed so self-evident to me that in a letter to Ferdinand Lassalle I once (naively) enthused: ‘Darwin’s work is most important and suits my purpose in that it provides a basis in natural science for the historical class struggle. . . . teleology in natural science is not only dealt a mortal blow but its rational meaning is empirically explained.’”

“A ‘mortal blow to teleology’ indeed!”

“While our species has reaped ever-more-wondrous benefits from the last ten millenia of its 200,000 year trip, for equally clear material reasons, hundreds-of-millions of us have also suffered terrible pain.“

“Whenever the assumed truths of an exhausted productive-distributive order have become injurious errors for members of a progressive sub-community, and the latter have started formulating and acting upon a system-transforming logic, the elites whose interests were threatened have declared the established order and its justifying philosophy (its deities, rituals and shrines, its icons and incantations) sacrosanct and gone on the attack.  Predictably, they’ve been assisted in that effort by the members of other classes whose social existences were still being maintained.”

“At the apex of such tragic moments, describing challenges to their interests as a conflict between good and evil, elites have decided individuals who rejected the established order and its rationales would have to be silenced; if necessary, they would have to be killed; thereby causing transitions from one productive-distributive system to another to be experienced as dialectic.”

(Marx’s expression suddenly softened as he added:)

“Being an inveterate optimist, I’ll remind you that while frenzied assaults by defenders of expended orders have proven fatal for countless representatives of nascent systems, they have also affirmed every new system’s propriety.”

“As I observed in a Koinische Zeitung article, the self-consciousness/philosophy of every new order of production and distribution: ‘is introduced into the world by the clamour of its enemies who betray their internal infection by their desperate appeals for help against the blaze of ideas.  These cries of its enemies mean as much for the philosophy as the first cry of a child for the anxious ear of the mother.  They are the cry of life of the ideas which have burst open the orderly hieroglyphic husk of the system and become citizens of the world.’”

“As France’s feudal system became drained of viability, the landed aristocracy, for whom preserving feudalism was vital if their socio-economic conditions were going to be maintained, went on the offensive against upstart pro-capitalist-order protestants, whose rejection of the Catholic Church’s authority the feudalists considered downright ‘satanic.’”

“’In 1521 the Parliament of Paris, with the approval of the king, forbade publication of Lutherian tracts coming from Germany . . .  The theological faculty of Paris formulated a plan for preventing the spread of such errors.  The/ir/ plan dictated that heretical books should be forbidden, and that bishops should be exhorted to seek out such works in their dioceses and have them destroyed.’”

“A decade later, Frenchmen who openly challenged the feudal Church, whether in speech or in writing, were being put to death.  Twenty-four Parisian ‘heretics’ were burned at the stake in 1534 alone.”

“The bloodiest struggles attending the exhaustion of European feudalism took place in Germany.  Limited and insecure access to the Atlantic Ocean, and none to the Mediterranean Sea, had restricted trade between Prussia and other countries/regions, including Africa and the New World.  As a result, the creation of a subcommunity of capitalist financiers, craft-producers and merchants had not proceeded as far as it had in France.”

“Instead, as Germany’s feudal order lost viability in the 13th century, hundreds-of-thousands of  Germans reproduced their social existence by migrating eastward, settling less populated regions of Hungary, Austria, Croatia, Poland and, eventually, Russia.”

“By the 16th century that door was closing, making the expropriation of Church property the easiest, for many young nobles, the only remaining option.”

“As a consequence, from 1618-48, Prussians battled over who would exercise feudal control of the land.  When the Thirty Years War ended, more than 9 million Germans, 20-30 percent of the population, had been killed.  But the strain on the region’s feudal socio-economic-political organization had been momentarily relieved.”

“Not until the unification of Germany under Otto von Bismark in 1871 were capitalist financiers and industrialists finally brought into the ascendant.”

“In his celebrated book, The Third Wave, Alvin Toffler acknowledged the violence which accompanied the capitalists’ accession to power in the United States, saying:

“’The Civil War was not fought exclusively, as it seemed to many, over the moral issue of slavery or such narrow economic issues as tariffs.  It was fought over a much larger question: would the rich new continent be ruled by farmers or industrializers’”.

“The Russian Revolution of 1917 and the three-year Civil War which followed ended  feudalism in that country, transferring control to state-capitalist financiers, industrialists, and their political representatives, ironically, in the name of socialism and communism.  Twenty million lives were lost in that struggle; a metamorphosis Toffler called  ‘Russia’s version of the American Civil War;’ ‘/F/ought not primarily, as it seemed, over communism, but once again over the issue of industrialization.’”

“China underwent the same revolution in the 1930s to 1960s, suffering an even greater loss of life. There, too, the building of an increasingly vibrant, though environmentally devastating, state-capitalist productive-distributive order has been the result.”

“Mr. Machiavelli observed China has 10 billionaires.  According to the latest Financial Times, that number has now grown to 345, ninety percent of them children of the country’s top 2,900 political authorities.”

(Marx paused briefly before posing another rhetorical question).

“What does our species 200,000 year socio-economic-political evolution have to do with the neocons’ strategy for seizing control of Iraq’s oil and making the United States’ imperial leader of the world?”


“Today, Americans need to ask themselves five fundamental questions:”

“* Has capitalism, like hunting and gathering, nomadic-slave and feudal productive-distributive systems before it, been drained of viability; has it, as I will argue, reached its terminal stage?”

“* Is capitalism ‘sowing the seeds of its own destruction,’ creating ever-larger communities of people whose social existences it cannot sustain, and momentous  problems it’s unable to resolve?”

“* Is capitalism simultaneously forging its own successor; i.e., is a new, problem-solving, order coming into being within capitalist countries, a new way of relating people to one another, and to the production and distribution of goods?”

“* If so, are representatives of that nascent order beginning to threaten the elites who continue to benefit from the moribund capitalist system of production and distribution.”

“And the most urgent question:”

“* Are those whose interests are challenged moving toward an oppressive good-versus-evil, defense of their troubled order?”

“After proposing the United States has been defensively exporting its manufacturing base to low-wage nations, Mr. Machiavelli added: ‘Dr. Marx and his disciples would have us believe capitalists are driven by an insatiable lust for increased profit.’”

“He, very conveniently, misrepresented my position.”

“I’ve consistently argued what every successful businessman will confirm: For capitalists, there can be no treading water.”

“With more and more countries having to construct capitalist systems to maintain their growing populations, with the U.S. population and that of other established capitalist states increasing, the choice for each individual entrepreneur is  clear: Go forward or go down!”

“To compete, not merely with each other, but with South Korean, Chinese and Indian neo-capitalist producers entering the global market, U.S., Japanese, French, German, British et al., manufacturers must sell ever greater quantities of shirts, shoes, suits, plates, pots and pans, hand tools, refrigerators and blenders, TVs, cars and motorcycles, etc.”

“Selling that greater quantity of goods forces capitalists to engage in a never-ending expansion and sophistication of production; which, in turn, requires a  constant growth in profit.”

“I described this process in Das Kapital, writing: ‘The development of capitalist production makes it constantly necessary to keep increasing the amount of the capital laid out in a given industrial undertaking, and competition makes the immanent laws of capitalist production to be felt by each individual capitalist as external coercive laws.  It compels him to keep constantly extending his capital, in order to preserve it, but extend it he cannot, except by means of progressive accumulation.’”

“The problem for many Third World states today is that when capitalist countries buy their labor-non-intensive mineral/agricultural products and pour in ever-larger quantities of shoes, shirts, pots and pans, they cut the throats of millions of poor Saudis, Iraqis, Pakistanis, Afghanis, Indonesians, Algerians, Moroccans, Egyptians and Filipinos who survive by hand-making shoes and sandals, shirts, turbans and other items of native attire, or by hammering out pots and pans, or, by forming and firing pottery and plates.”

“And it’s not only the poor whose lives are being ravaged.”

“Capitalism’s aggressive economic penetration of nonindustrialized countries with TVs, CDs, DVDs and movies, is also devastating middle-class artists and actors, replacing their nations’ traditional tastes with those of Japan and the industrial West, while  providing them, like the poor, with nothing in the way of alternative occupations.”

“Even highly educated children of Mid Eastern elites, doctors, dentists, architects, chemists and engineers, are finding the virulent capitalist invasion leaves no place for them.”

“The poor can’t afford doctors and dentists.  There aren’t enough people in the middle class to pay for their professional services.  And the elites fly to New York, London or Paris for their own medical/dental procedures.”

“When Mid Eastern oil Sheikhs have palaces and shopping malls constructed in Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, when they build airports, seaports, luxury hotels, theaters, fantasy playlands and skyscrapers in Dubai, or a massive water pipeline in the United Arab Emirates, they contract with global corporations like Halliburton, Bechtel, Fluor, Parsons, Kajima and Taisei.”

“Those companies have their own architects and engineers. They don’t hire local professionals.  They also bring in low-paid, semi-slave workers from the Philippines, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, who toil 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, doing the menial labor.”

“With no less painful option left for maintaining their social existences, or that of their nations’ middle class and poor, some educated sons and daughters of Mid Eastern and Asian feudal elites begin formulating plans for expropriating Western interests, along with their countries’ Western-oriented elites, and establishing structures which can, at least momentarily, sustain them all; structures which, e.g. post-Khomeini Iran, are in some ways terribly reactionary, in others, progressive.”

“Ergo, the material origins of the ‘muslim terrorist’ challenge now confronting capitalist states.”

“It’s not mere chance that Osama bin Laden, whose father was the billionaire owner of a construction company, studied Business Administration and Engineering; that Ayman al-Zawahiri was a pediatric surgeon, his father a pharmacologist; or that Abu Hafisa, the Moroccan who directed the 2004 Madrid train bombing, is a psychiatrist.”

“Nor is it chance that Mohamed Atta’s university degree was in architecture, while ‘terrorist’ Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s was in mechanical engineering.”

“So, too, with ‘terrorist’ Palestinian leaders whose peoples’ lives Israel is currently destroying.  Fathi Abd Al-Aziz, the founder of Islamic Jihad, was a physician.  Mahmoud al-Zahar, a co-founder of Hamas, is a surgeon, as was the late Hamas leader, Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi.”

“Moreover, it’s not just capitalist manufacturers and financiers whose activities are  devastating Third World peoples.  The agribusinesses of advanced capitalist nations are equally aggressive in eliminating their jobs. They are also destroying their environments, and impairing their health.”

“Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), for the past 13 years Mexico’s corn and bean farmers have suffered a relentless assault by U.S. agricultural corporations, driving an estimated 6 million of them from the land.”

“According to investigative reporter John Ross, ‘New Years 2008 may prove to be /their/ doomsday.’”

“On that day, in accordance with the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) ‘all tariffs on corn and beans will be abolished.’  The ’Zero tariffs,’ ‘are expected to trigger a tsunami of corn imports, much of it genetically modified,’ Ross predicts, forcing additional millions of Mexico’s small producers from their farms.”

“The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) has documented that the U.S. agribusiness Cargill uses ‘massive government subsidies’ to dump huge quantities ‘of grains in poorer countries,’ ‘undermining small farmers, destroying local food production systems, and making rural economies dependent.’”

“Greenpeace charges the U.S. agribusiness corporations, Cargill, Archer-Daniels-Midland, and Bunge, with ‘Eating up the Amazon,’ financing ‘unscrupulous’ Brazilian farmers who ‘seize and clear’ ‘publicly owned rainforest land for the production of soybeans.’”

“Ten thousand square miles of Amazon rainforest were cleared in 2006 alone, the burning of tree stumps and branches spewing 370 million tons of hydrocarbons into the air.”

“Cargill, Brazil’s largest exporter of soybeans and sugar, provides few jobs, nearly all of them extremely low-paid.  Many Brazilian farmers under contract with Cargill have been found to use slave labor.”

“Monsanto, Cargill, and other U.S. agribusinesses are also destroying the infrastructure of rural India. By bribing Indian officials, they’ve succeeded in promoting cotton and rice seeds genetically engineered to produce sterile plants, forcing the country’s small farmers to buy new seeds yearly at prices few of them can afford.”

“Nor can Indian farmers rely on traditional seeds, since their plants cross-pollinate with those of Monsanto and Cargill, producing seeds which are also sterile.”

“Adding insult to injury, when an agribusiness corporation is able to demonstrate that a farmer’s fertile seeds contain a gene of its engineered plants, it takes him to court and forces him to pay for using his own seeds.”

“If, despite the formidible hurdles U.S. agribusinesses place in his path, an Indian farmer has a good crop, it must then compete with cotton the same corporations produce in the U.S., using a $4 billion government subsidy they receive each year to keep the international price of cotton low.”

“India’s farmers once produced all of the country’s edible oils from mustard seed, sesame seed, linseed and coconut.  Then, in 1998, Physicist Vandana Shiva relates, ‘Monsanto and Cargill obtained a ‘ban on indigenous oils.’  Today, 70 percent of India’s edible oils are soya and palm, ‘dumped on’ the country by U.S. global corporations.”

“During the past decade, the activities of Cargill, Monsanto, Unilever, ADM and other agribusiness corporations, have led more than 165,000 of India’s small farmers to commit suicide; many of them (the cruelest of ironies), by drinking Monsanto’s glyphosphate pesticide, RoundUp.”

“Where Cargill’s soybean production is destroying the Amazon rainforest, the purchase of massive and growing quantities of palm oil by U.S., Japanese and European capitalist corporations is doing the same thing to the rainforests of Borneo.”

“Since 1990, Indonesia has razed 61 million acres of its South Borneo rainforests, planting palm oil trees in their stead; and, it plans to level and palm-tree-plant another 61 million acres by 2030.”

“Replaced with palm oil tree plantations, Malaysia’s immense North Borneo rainforests have almost disappeared, along with the orangutan and exotic birds which lived in them.”

“Finally, the U.S., and other capitalist states whose productive orders are approaching the terminal stage, are not only eliminating employment in the Third World, they are doing it at home as well.”

“The off-shoring of U.S. manufacture was Step-One of a process now impacting nearly every occupation.”

“If you have a problem with your computer (probably made in China) and phone the  manufacturer, you’ll speak with a technician living in India.”

“Call your hospital to challenge an expense and you may discuss it with someone in Ireland employed by the firm that does the hospital’s billing.”

“Doctors and dentists have begun to feel the effect of this Natural and Necessary phenomenon.”

“Google ‘medical tours,’ and you will receive over 500 ‘hits’ promoting plastic surgery, kidney transplant, heart-bypass, knee, hip and shoulder-joint replacement at hospitals located in Mexico, India, Malaysia, the Philippines, even Iran.”

“You’re assured the physicians have received the latest training—very likely in the West—and, that they use the most up-to-date diagnostic and medical equipment, sold to them by Japanese or Western capitalist corporations.”

“Besides a round-trip flight, surgery and hospitalization, the tour agency will arrange for your recovery in a luxury hotel, fed according to your personal tastes, and visited regularly by a physician; all for a fraction of what you would pay for these services at home.”

“Google “dental tours,” and you’ll get only a few less hits;’ with Costa Rico, Turkey and Croatia included among the countries where you could have transmacular joint surgery or tooth implantation performed.”

“Then, there’s information technology (IT).”

According to the conventional wisdom of large corporations which obtain H1 and L1 visas for foreign (principally Indian) IT employees, there’s a dire shortage of Americans trained in that field.”

“Economist Paul Craig Roberts has countered that proposition, citing numerous corre-spondents who are unable to find IT jobs despite having impressive credentials.”

“One, a resident of Dayton, Ohio, wrote Roberts: ‘I feel like an alien in my own country—as if Dayton had been colonized by India.  NCR and other local employers have either offshored most of their IT work or rely heavily on Indian guest workers.  The IT department of National City Bank across the street from LexisNexis is entirely Indian.  The nearby apartment complexes house large numbers of Indian guest workers filling the engineering needs of many area businesses.’”

“Today, Roberts adds, ‘the jobs of Indian guest workers may /themselves/ be on the verge of being offshored’.  ‘The relentless drive for cheap labor now threatens the foreign guest workers who displaced America’s own engineers.’”

“‘Princeton University economist Alan Blinder estimates 30 to 40 million American high end service jobs ultimately face offshoring.’”

“’In the developed world, Asia Times /recently reported/, particularly in the United States, the scope of jobs disappearing overseas is widening beyond all imagining, to professions that almost nobody expected to be hit, and with far higher incomes than anybody thought possible . . .  From engineering to equity research and financial management, to knowledge management, to revenue-cycle management – a whole panorama of high-income employment are inexorably going. . . .  McKinsey & Co, the international consulting firm, projects that the flight of jobs offshore to developing countries will grow by 30-40 percent a year over the next five years.’”

“Regarding the lower-end service jobs of middle-class Americans, it’s fairly obvious who’s helping capitalism do them in: They are! ”

“From food chains, to Walmart, to Home Depot and Lowe’s, large retail stores have  installed do-it-yourself checkout stands, significantly reducing the number of employees required for given dollar amounts of sales.”

“Provided helpful instructions by Home Depot and other hardware outlets, millions of  Americans are doing their own plumbing, painting, electrical work and remodeling.”

“Using Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), and internet on-line banking, in little more than a decade Americans have produced a 50 percent decline in the number of cashiers and tellers banks need.”

“What kinds of low-tech jobs is capitalism providing to replace those which disappear?  Drug pusher, prostitute, police officer, prison guard, security guard and border guard are among the more important.”

“Over 260 privately operated prisons have sprung into existence, offering investment opportunities and modestly paid ‘careers’ to Americans who are able to justify defining fellow citizens as criminals’ for using or selling, often small amounts, of marijuana or cocaine.”

“The U.S. now has 2.2 million people in jail: 737 per 100,000, as compared with its closest capitalist-country rivals (England 148 per 100,000, Japan 62, and France 85.)”

“Fifty-five percent of federal prison inmates are incarcerated for drug offenses, only 11 percent for violent crimes.”

“Selected American universities have been designated ‘Homeland Security Management  Institutes,’ and offer a wide variety of courses on law enforcement.”

“The Department of Labor predicts that by 2012 there will be a 22.4 percent increase in detectives and criminal investigators, a 24 percent increase in patrol officers, correctional officers and ‘first line managers of police and detectives,’ and, a 31.8 percent increase in security guards.”

“But the most expedient instrument being used to keep the U.S. capitalist economy afloat is the Military-Industrial complex.”

“Professor Joan Roelofs detailed its operation in a CounterPunch essay.”

“’Spread throughout the country,’ Roelofs wrote: ‘war industries are crucial in providing employment in . . . the rust belt of the Midwest, the shoe belt of New England, the cotton belt of the South.’”

“’The MI corporations and their employees are major consumers in their communities, purchasing real estate., furniture, clothing, food, medical services, entertainment, tap dancing lessons, etc.’”

“’/T/he military is deeply involved with disaster relief, which brings many more good people into its orbit: Red Cross volunteers, state and local government officials and staff, Vista Workers, etc. . . . Northrop is very generous to career services’ officers in higher education.  Programs preparing disadvantaged students for college do well.’”

“’Military contractors are attentive to every kind of minority organization: Asians Against Domestic Abuse, and the Vietnamese American Community (Halliburton); the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, and the National Society of Black Engineers (Northrop Grumman); the Holocaust Museum and the Chinese Community Center (GE).  Boeing has funded the Congressional Black Caucus and the Urban League.  Lockheed even contributes to the Sons of Norway. . . .  Children are nurtured: Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCAs, YWCAs, Little Leagues, UNICEF, Children’s Defense Fund, etc., receive substantial grants.’”

“In the ‘go forward or go down’ world of capitalism, preventing its economy from imploding now requires the U.S. to sell ever-increasing quantities of guns, planes and bombs.  That, Roberts observes, makes Hezbollah and Iran ‘terrorists’ ipso facto, for the simple reason ‘they don’t receive billions in U.S. military aid and cannot put armies in the field with American tanks.’”

“Machiavelli tacitly acknowledged the connection between the United States’ military-industrial complex and its foreign policy when he remarked that defending the country’s Third World interests from expropriation after WWII led it to drastically increase the production and sale of weapons.”

“However, he offered no materialist explanation for the growing challenge to U.S. investments in the underdeveloped world.”

“From the 1960s to the 90s U.S. corporations with threatened Latin American interests had their own novel theory.”

“A ‘Revolution of Rising Expectations’ was taking place, they reasoned.  Life for Central and South Americans was improving.  But, made aware of First World luxuries by the media, many young people were impatiently, and unjustly, proposing violence to acquire a share.”

“The U.S. government promoted this idealist nonsense, ignoring the mountain of material evidence presented by social scientists and investigative journalists that, except for the region’s elites, conditions were rapidly worsening for most Latin Americans.”

“As in the Middle East today, many of the elites’ sons and daughters were unable to find employment which could socio-economically sustain them; while, particularly in Peru, Northeastern Brazil, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Uruguay and El Salvador, poor indian communities were experiencing a suffering they hadn’t known since the 1930s.”

“As in the Middle East today, the socio-economic injury which children of South America’s elites were experiencing prompted the more humane among them to discover/empathize-with the far greater distress of the poor.”

“Embracing that part of my theory which describes exhausted feudal orders of production being replaced by capitalist systems, like the Russian and Chinese revolutionaries before them, they proposed seizing large foreign businesses and using the profit which operating them yielded to industrialize their countries, erecting state-capitalist systems that would provide employment for their middle class and poor, as well as for themselves.”

“You know the rest of the story, so I won’t waste time on elaborate detail.”

“The Latin American rebels were menacing major U.S. corporations, and that was sufficient for the U.S. to identify them as ‘communists’ and go on the attack.”

“”Make the economy scream!’, Nixon ordered when Chile’s President Salvador Allende seized I.T.T. and the U.S. copper multinationals, offering to pay what the expropriated corporations claimed their properties were worth when paying taxes.”

“With indispensable U.S. assistance, Allende was overthrown on September 11th, 1973, and General Augusto Pinochet, a fascist dictator who sincerely believed he was purifying his country of evil, seized power.”

“That corporate victory was followed by ’Operation Condor,’ beginning in 1975.”

“Right-wing generals and admirals took control in Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay and joined with Pinochet to identify and assassinate the hotheaded youths leading the struggle for change; simultaneously suppressing worker/peasants movements.”

“At least 30,000 humanistic young men and women lost their lives in Operation Condor. Many were brutally tortured and buried, or, tossed into the sea, some alive, some dead, from helicopters and planes.”

“As with Allende’s deposal, Operation Condor would have been impossible without U.S. sponsorship and grandscale military and logistical aid.”

“During the 1980s Central America was similarly bought, bullied and butchered back in line.  An estimated 200,000 poor indians were slaughtered in the process, entire villages wiped out.”

“Then, came the 2000  dot-com catastrophe.”

“Machiavelli observed the attendant U.S. stock market losses exceeded $7 trillion.”

“What he neglected to add is that 82 percent of those stocks are held by the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans, which meant over $5.7 trillion of the loss was suffered by the rich.”

“The U.S. economy was in the doldrums, with many large companies hurting badly.”

“Bechtel Corporation’s earnings peaked at $15.1 billion in 1999, then plummeted to $11.6 billion in 2002.”

“Halliburton was also having trouble.”

“Under Dick Cheney’s guidance Halliburton merged with Dresser Industries in 1998, becoming the largest oilfield engineering, services and construction corporation in the world.”

“But Dresser had lost numerous suits for asbestos related deaths, resulting in a 43 percent drop in the value of Halliburton’s stock in 2001.”

“With the collapse of the Soviet Union and ending of the Cold War, U.S. defense budgets had also fallen throughout the 1990s and employment in the defense industry fell with it.  More than 2 millions defense industry jobs were lost between 1992 and 2001.”

“Keeping in mind that communities always unify around those ideas which will most effortlessly sustain them: With the United States’ economy depressed and much of its manufacturing base off-shored, with the largest, most profitable remaining industries military-industrial in nature, what would you expect this country to do?”


“Representatives of the U.S. elite whose social existences were most in jeopardy spontaneously discovered/created an enemy whose defeat would require spending from hundreds of billions, to incalculable trillions of dollars on military hardware and military conquest: Islamic terrorists;’ meaning any Muslim who stands up against the United States’ increasingly injurious practices in their countries.”

“Frank Gaffney, founder of the Center for Security Policy and a neocon defender, has stated the essence of their brilliantly profitable and pragmatic logic:”

“We’re in ‘a war for the Free World. . . . /a/ conflict in which nothing less is at stake than our ability—and that of our children and grandchildren—to live in freedom and prosperity. . . . We are at war primarily with adherents to a dangerous, totalitarian ideology–Islamofascism.’”

“Since Saddam was a Muslim, since he sided with the Palestinian struggle against Israel, and resisted U.S./British attempts to gain control of his country’s economy, and, more importantly, its oil, it made sense to begin the war against Islamofascism by invading Iraq.”

“In preparation, a month before the attack Cheney convened an ‘Energy Task Force’ whose members included executives and lobbyists from Enron, Exxon-Mobil, Conoco-Phillips, Shell and BP America.’”

“Richard Behan relates Cheney’s Task Force ‘poured over detailed maps of the Iraqi oil fields, pipelines, tanker terminals, refineries and undeveloped oil exploration blocks /and/ studied two pages of “foreign suitors for Iraqi oil field contracts”; companies negotiating with Saddam Hussein’s regime, none of which was a major American or British firm.’”

“For many major U.S. corporations, the remarkable financial benefits coming from the ‘anti-terrorist’ invasion of Iraq were immediate.”

“Bechtel enjoyed ‘a revenue of $16.3 billion in 2003, reversing a three-year slide.’”

“In March 2004 the San Francisco Chronicle reported:”

“’. . . the invasion provided a multibillion-dollar boost to the United States’ largest construction and engineering firms.  Although Bechtel Corp. and Halliburton have received the most public scrutiny, the billions of tax dollars pouring into Iraq’s reconstruction also flow through such competitors as Parsons Corp., Fluor Corp. and Washington Group International.  For sheer size of contracts, none of the reconstruction firms can rival Halliburton . . . . The company, once run by Vice President Dick Cheney, holds contracts potentially worth between $12.6 billion and $16.8 billion.  Bechtel won $2.83 billion in contracts for repairing electrical plants, water systems, airports and railways.’”

“For U.S. weapons manufacturers, the ‘war on terror’ has been downright glorious. ’Since September 12, 2001’, writes Robert Dreyfuss, ‘defense spending has exploded.  For 2008, the Bush Administration /has/ request/ed/ a staggering $650 billion, compared to the already staggering $400 billion the Pentagon collected in 2001 . . . U.S. defense spending in 2008 will amount to 29 times the combined military spending of all six so-called rogue states: Cuba, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.’”

“In an article of October 31st, 2007, Robert Scheer noted Lockheed Martin had already ‘reaped a 22 percent increase in profit’ for the year, ‘while rivals for the defense buck, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics, increased profits by 62 percent and 22 percent, respectively, and Boeing’s profits jumped 61 percent.’”

“Following their anti-Muslim-terrorist logic, the Bush neocons have spread the largess derived from conquering and killing them widely.”

“Between 9/11, 2001 and June 2007, Bush requested, and Congress granted, $44 billion for biological warfare research. BASF, GlaxoSmithKline, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly Corp, Monsanto and Pfizer are among the many companies reputed to be involved.”

“U.S. mercenaries are benefitting handsomely.  The State Department’s ‘private security’ corporations DynCorp International, Triple Canopy and Blackwater USA, have been awarded contracts valued at over $4 billion, Blackwater alone receiving $1 billion since 2001.  Dyncorp was awarded a contract for $1.2 billion to train Iraqi police, and another $600 million to assist with ‘drug eradication’ in Colombia, Bolivia and Peru.”

“Even two public relations firms, The Rendon Group, and The Lincoln Group, have been cut in on the take.”

“By 2005 Rendon and Lincoln had been paid more than $400 million for helping sell the Iraq War to Americans and Iraqis, and for polishing the image of the U.S.-installed governments of Iraq and Afghanistan.”

“From the outset of the war, with its economy starved for profit, the U.S. has made a ‘grab-and-gobble’ effort to extract it from Iraq.”

“The Organic Consumers Association describes how in 1991, and again in 2003, ‘U.S. bombing raids targeted cattle feed lots, poultry farms, fertilizer warehouses, pumping stations, irrigation systems, fuel depots and pesticide factories, the very infrastructure of Iraqi agriculture.’”

“Then, ‘one month after shock and awe,’ Daniel Amstutz, a ‘former Cargil Corporation executive,’ was assigned ‘to oversee’ Iraqi agriculture’s ‘rehabilitation’. “

“Before leaving Iraq in June, 2004, L. Paul Bremer, Head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, issued a body of ‘orders’ mandating the kind of make-money-by-driving-Third-World-peoples-to-the-wall policies which are causing such deep hatred of the United States throughout most of the Middle East.”

“Antonia Juhasz reviewed Bremer’s more truculent dictates in Foreign Policy in Focus:”

“’Order #17: grants foreign contractors, including private security firms, full immunity from Iraq’s laws.  Even if they kill someone or cause environmental damage, such as by dumping toxic chemicals or poisoning drinking water, the injured party can not turn to the Iraqi legal system; the charges must be brought to U.S. courts under U.S. laws.’”

“’Order #39: Privatization of Iraq’s state-owned enterprises; allows 100-percent foreign ownership of Iraqi businesses; unrestricted tax-free remittance of all profits and other funds; 40-year ownership licenses; /it permits/ U.S. corporations operating in Iraq to own every business, do all the work, and send all their money home.  Nothing needs to be reinvested locally . . . no Iraqi need be hired, no public services need to be guaranteed, and workers’ rights can easily be ignored.’”

“’Order #40: turns the banking sector from a state-run to a market-driven system, allowing foreign banks to . . . purchase up to 50 percent of Iraqi banks.’”

“’Order #49: drops the tax rate on corporations from 40 percent to a flat rate of 15 percent.  The income tax rate is also capped at 15 percent.’”

“IF your understanding of matters economic, social and political is determined by material evidence, by now I will have convinced you that:”

“Except for a diminishing number of First and Third World elites, 21st century capitalism is making it difficult-to-impossible for peoples in both hemispheres to reproduce their social existence; and, the principal instrument the United States currently uses to hold its capitalist structure together is military-industrial expenditure, justified by the neocons’ insane anti-terrorist vision.”

“But that’s not the worst of terminal capitalism’s tragic impresses.”

“Straddling the earth like a biomechanical beast, it inflicts environmental destruction and lethal pollution around the globe; and those injuries are being done to everyone, from wealthy Saudi, U.S. and Chinese elites, to the most destitute communities of Afghanistan and Sub-Saharan Africa.”

“Google ‘pollution of _________,’ typing in the name of any country, state, province, large city, ocean, river or lake, and you will get page after page of ‘hits’ describing the poisoning of our species’ food, air and water, the destruction of the global environment, the crippling-to-fatal diseases which the poisoning and environmental destruction are producing; and, the failure of anyone, anywhere, to do anything meaningful about it.”

“To quote from just a few such hits’.”

“The Mediterranean Sea: ‘Italy’s environmental minister said that in thirty years care of the Mediterranean Sea it has not improved, /it/ has worsened. . . . Much of the fish we eat comes from the Mediterranean, so if we pollute it, we are polluting ourselves. . . . Mercury levels in fish are 20 times the maximum levels recommended by the UN World Health Organization, while human intake of polycylic hydrocarbons—derived chiefly from petroleum and coal tar—are 100 times permissible levels.’”

“The Caspian Sea: ‘The oil industry is one of the main sources of Caspian Sea pollution. /T/wo countries, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, extract oil from offshore fields, /and/ Russia plans to start in the next one or two years.  There is also contamination of soil and groundwater with agricultural chemicals, pesticides, salination, and water-logging of soil due to poor irrigation methods.’”


“Lake Baikal: ‘Fed by 300 rivers, Lake Baikal is the world’s deepest (more than a mile), and oldest (30 million years), lake and its largest body of fresh water.  Baikal is now badly polluted, principally by pulp and paper mills and oil spills.’”

“The Aral Sea: ‘The Aral Sea of Central Asia is laden with sewage, pesticides and fertilizers.  When the Soviet Union diverted the Ama Dariya and the Syrdariya rivers which fed the Aral to grow cotton in the desert, they created an ecogical and human disaster. What was the world’s fourth biggest inland sea is now mostly desert.  The human misery is huge.  Tuberculosis is rife and on the increase in the population.’ ‘Cancers, lung disease and infant mortality are 30 times greater than they used to be because the drinking water is heavily polluted with salt, cotton fertilizers and pesticides.’”

“Onondaga Lake: ‘New York’s Onondaga Lake, which feeds Lake Ontario, is now among the world’s most polluted, laced with hazardous chemicals by the Olin Corporation, one of the companies which dumped tons of toxic chemicals into Love Canal, destroying the town.  Olin also shipped 40-tons of mercury to Nicaragua and poured it into Lake Managua.’”

“The Great Lakes: ‘Industry and farmers on land surrounding the Great Lakes have used the lakes to dispose of waste chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) produced in the manufacture of electrical equipment, and organochlorine insecticides such as dieldrin and DDT.   A report for the Canadian government has called living by the Great Lakes a “hazard to human health”.  Scientists have found increasing evidence that pollutants in the water are causing insidious neurological damage, particularly in children, and infertility among adults.’”

“The Hudson River: ‘People living in towns and cities along New York’s Hudson River are cautioned not to eat its PCB-laden fish, including shad and sea bass, or, to drink or bathe in its waters.’”

“The Nile River: ‘Nile River pollution includes municipal waste water, industrial “black spots,” and household rubbish that find their way directly to the 120 kilometer area where the Nile ends its journey and meets the Mediterranean. Damietta, Egypt’s population of over 914,614 depends on this heavily polluted stretch of river as its only source of water.  More than half of the patients treated at Damietta Hospital’s Internal Medicine Unit suffer liver and kidney diseases and infections because of the polluted water they drink.’”

“The Amazon Rainforest: ‘Environmentalists estimate that around 2.5 million acres of the Amazon rainforest were compromised or destroyed in Texaco’s search for oil in Ecuador.  It is a disaster that has left the jungle ravaged and its people dying of cancer.’”

“’Members of an indigenous tribe from the Peruvian Amazon are suing the oil giant Occidental Petroleum in California’s Superior Court  . . . Andres Sandi Mucushua, a tribal representative, said: “My people are sick and dying because of Oxy.  The water in our streams is not fit to drink and we can no longer eat the fish in our rivers or the animals in our forests.”’

“The Amazon River: ‘In the last 20-30 years, carnivorous predators have undergone large declines and native fishermen have an increasing number of health risks facing them.’ ’The Amazon River Dolphin was listed as a vulnerable species in 1994.  The Giant Otter has been listed as an endangered species since 1973.  Along main tributaries epidemiological and toxicological data have shown high mercury levels in fish-eating riverside populations.’”

“The Yangtze River: ‘The Yangtze River has become the biggest sewer system in China.’  According to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in the Three Gorges reservoir area alone ‘there are over 3,000 industrial and mining enterprises, which release more than one billion tons of wastewater annually, containing more than 50 different pollutants.  Included in the wastewater are such poisonous elements as mercury, cadmium, chronium, arsenic, phenol, lead, and cyanide.’”

“The Gulf of Mexico: ‘Three times as much nitrogen is being carried into the Gulf today compared with levels 30 years ago or at any time in history.  The Mississippi River enters the Gulf as a “toxic soup.” Every summer there is an area south of the Louisiana coastline larger than Massachusetts that is hypoxic.  These waters do not carry enough oxygen to sustain marine life.’”

“The Indian Ocean: ‘During a six-week expedition from February to April 1999, a team of scientists from the U.S.A., Europe, India, and the Maldive Islands, participating in the Indian Ocean Experiment (INDOEX), found a mass of pollution as large as the area of the United States – four million square miles or 100 million square kilometers.  The polluted areas include the Arabian Sea, between India and the Arabian peninsula, and the Bay of Bengal, between India and Southeast Asia.  Countries located within the Indian Ocean include Sri Lanka (Ceylon) and the Maldives, located southwest of India. The whole Indian subcontinent is surrounded by massive pollution.’”

“As for the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, it should suffice to remind you of what you’ve been reading and hearing about for several decades: the dying of coral reefs vital to ocean food chains; pollution from nuclear testing; pesticide and fertilizer runoff from large farms; medicines—ranging from aspirin, to contraceptive pills, to antibiotics—excreted and leached into the seas; the Pacific swordfish you’re warned to avoid, the salmon and tuna you’re cautioned to eat no more than once a week, and not at all if you’re pregnant.”

“Then, there’s ‘acid rain’. The use of coal as a primary fuel is a major source of the pollution of earth’s air and water with sulfur dioxide and mercury.  ‘China’s dust and soot cloud travels all the way to the United States.  In California, Professor Tom Cahill tracks pollution across the Pacific, and a lot of what he sees these days comes from China.’  ’It’s estimated China may one day generate five times more pollution than it does today.’”

“Poured into the air by coal burning power plants, the coal dust returns to earth as acid rain and snow.  Sulfuric acid, nitric acid and carbonic acid from cars, trucks, and factory farm operations are acid rain’s other main components.”

“As a result, hundreds of thousands of acres of trees in the Northeastern U.S. are either threatened or dying; as are forests throughout Scandinavia and Western Europe.”

“Vast tracts of the Czech Republic’s Jizera Mountains’ forests have perished, and acid rain has destroyed so much of Germany’s famous Black Forest that it’s often referred to as ‘dead.’”

“Driven by rapid industrial development, acid rain is an impending disaster in China, India, Russia and the Republic of Korea. Between 1990 and 2010 Asia’s sulfur dioxide emissions are predicted to tripple.”

“And it’s not just trees that are being injured by the acid rain. Entering lakes, stream and rivers, the acid is killing insects, fish and shore birds.  Virgina’s native trout streams are succumbing, as are many of the lakes, streams and rivers of Wales.

“The world’s oceans are also becoming increasingly acidic.  Their acid content increased by 30 percent in the last few decades, affecting everything that lives in, or is dependent upon them, including humans.”

“Yet the U.S. Big-Coal industry (which is at once Big-Oil, Big Natural Gas, and Big-Nuclear, since they are now largely merged) is pushing for more.”

“’Antrim Caskey laments: ‘Just as the American people and the world are beginning to recognize the necessity of shifting to renewable energies, Big Coal is pushing its dirty fossil fuel as the solution to /the United States’ energy/ crisis.  Big coal and its cohorts envision a “clean coal technology” future by liquifying and gasifying coal, capturing the carbon emissions and injecting them underground.  But scientists and environmentalists say “clean coal” does not exist. The National Resources Defense Council says that using the term “clean coal” makes about as much sense as saying “safe cigarettes.’”

“’The extraction and cleaning of coal inevitably decimates ecosystems and communities.’ Robert Kennedy Jr. writes: ‘Coal is only cheap if one ignores its calamitous externalized costs, dead forests and sterilized lakes from acid rain, poisoned fisheries in 49 states and children with damaged brains and crippled health from mercury emissions, millions of asthma attacks and lost work days.  If the American people could see what I have seen from the air and ground during trips to the coalfields of Kentucky and West Virginia: leveled mountains and ruined lives, there would be a revolution in this country.’”

“Big Coal’s representatives have been licking their lips at the prospect of tearing the tops off more U.S. mountains to sell vast quantities of coal to China, whose own coal mining operations result in the deaths of 6,000 miners every year.”


“What can be done about the global catastrophe I’ve described: the environmental desolation, the elimination of social existence sustaining, earth-protecting, employment?”

“While I’m open to argument, my own answer to that question is Nothing!  Nothing—until and unless the capitalist order of production and distribution is dismantled and replaced.”

“Alarmed, governments around the world have been passing laws aimed at cleaning up streams, lakes and seas and regulating acid producing emissions, but the problems only continue to worsen.”

“According to a recent estimate published in Time Magazine, reducing sulfur dioxide emissions by 50 percent in the Northeast U.S. alone would cost $7 billion yearly.  If so, doing it globally would cost trillions.  And that would do nothing about all the other environmental devastation.”

“Just cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch ‘isn’t an option,’ says Chris Parry of the California Coastal Commission, and his colleagues agree.”

“The ‘Garbage Patch’ may be the ultimate iconic representation of what our species is doing to the environment.  ‘An enormous island  of trash, twice the size of Texas, floating in the Pacific between San Francisco and Hawaii,’ the patch is ’80 percent plastic, weighs more than 3.5 million tons,’ and is ‘growing at a brisk rate.‘”

“Given its size, content and distance from land, removing the patch would be a mega-trillion-dollar operation, requiring the design and construction of special equipment; and a second, smaller garbage patch is floating between Hawaii and Japan.”

“As for the world’s mounting unemployment, European capitalist states have begun following the United States’ and Israel’s lead, labelling individuals whose actions disrupt their injurious practices at home ‘criminals,’ then putting them in jail; those who do it abroad, ‘terrorists,’ and employing military violence to suppress them.”

“An honest examination of capitalism’s contamination of the planet’s air, streams, lakes, rivers and seas with myriad pollutants from myriad sources, the oil, mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium, nitrogen, cyanide, toluene, styrene, phosphate, sulfur dioxide, antibiotics and PCBs, its mad use of nuclear energy and equally mad proposals to ‘safely’ store nuclear waste, along with its elimination of jobs in both the First and Third worlds, can only lead to one conclusion:”

“The capitalist productive-distributive order isn’t up to the task of stopping the global cataclysm it’s creating, let alone building a better world.”

“Capitalist states are no more capable of solving the disastrous problems they’re causing than nomadic slave communities could have built houses and chateaux for feudal Europe, or European feudal communities could have satisfied the need for factories, and the clothing, weaponry, railways, steam engines and trains those factories produced.”

“Which brings us to the third of our fundamental questions:”

“If capitalism has turned into a monster devoid of self-control, has it, like its predecessors, also spawned a more effectual successor which many capitalists are having to nurture in order to reproduce their own social existence?”

“Once that question has been posed, the answer screams for recognition.”

“Remaining competitive is obviously forcing capitalists to construct an integrated global community in which everyone is a potential buyer and seller of goods and labor, and cost is the only thing determining who buys or sells what to whom.”

“When capitalists took that Natural and Necessary step they opened a can of worms.”

“Or, more descriptively, they entered a den of snakes.”

“The integrated global community which capitalists are defensively building can only be made to function with increasingly sophisticated high-technological devices: Global Positioning Systems (GPS), robotic machinery, computers, the internet, broadband, bluetooth, etc..”

“As the computer and the internet are already demonstrating, though an indispensible tool  for capitalism, high-technology is also a revolutionary threat, because living and working in the high-technology world aborning will require that people take full and free control of their lives, and, it will require that they share.”

“The high-techies who write capitalism’s most complex software programs use an ‘open source software’ called Linux. ‘Open source software projects,’ writes Steven Johnson, ‘tilt heavily in the direction of freedom: No one owns the underlying code behind Linux, thousands have contributed to it’, and ‘the software grows more sophisticated over time.’”

“The very ‘ethos’ of this high-tech community, Johnson continues, ‘has a strong communitarian tradition that encourages contributions which are rewarded only by the respect of one’s peers.’  ‘/M/odern software applications are modular enough to be built by committee, with thousands of dispersed participants chipping in their ideas; and, because the code base is openly shared with anyone interested in looking at it—unlike Microsoft’s hidden Windows source code—interesting new ideas “spread freely from one to another over the globe”’.”

“The high-technology world of freedom, participation and sharing Johnson depicts doesn’t just touch some people’s lives. Everyone’s becoming immersed in it, and the reproduction of everyone’s social existence increasingly depends upon its continued evolution.”

“As a consequence, the open source egalitarian virus is spreading like a virulent flu.”

“In 1999, Shawn Fanning helped lay the foundation of the post-capitalist order when he founded Napster. Fanning’s objective was to enable anyone with a computer and a little high-tech savvy to download and distribute music freely. Though the original Napster was quickly sued into oblivion, other ‘peer-to-peer’ (P2P) programs just as quickly replaced it: iMesh, Morpheus, Limewire, BearShare and Kazaa.”

“Morpheus’ website contains a disclaimer: ‘Using Morpheus for the uploading or downloading of copyrighted works without the permission or authorization of the copyright holders may be illegal and could subject you (or the ISP subscriber) to civil and/or criminal liability and penalties.’”

The disclaimer is a tacit recognition many users are going to do precisely what it cautions against; namely, freely download and exchange music, movies and other copyrighted files.”

“Besides circumventing the film and music conglomerates which previously exercised unchallenged and highly profitable control over their industries, P2P groups are also undertaking a significant reduction in the corporate advertising to which subscribers are subjected.”

“Then, there’s ‘Wikipedia,’ a ‘people’s encyclopedia’ freely written and modified by any person who has access to the internet and interest in a given subject.”

“Wikipedia’s relativistic truths are determined not by voices of authority’ or individuals with vested interests. What determines whether a given Wikipedian truth will stand, and for how long, is the amount of material evidence and syllogistic reasoning its defenders can provide the world in its support.”

“The website YouTube allows anyone, anywhere, to freely share their camcorder clips with the global community, permitting each individual viewer, not a corporation, to determine what is sad, humorous, or politically important..”

Founded in 2003, MySpace enables users to connect with people in other cities, states, countries, who have similar interests, and to freely exchange pictures, music, etc. MySpace now has over 300 million users.  FaceBook, also free, performs the same essential functions, has approximately 60 million users, and is rapidly growing.”

“With thousands of Left, Right and Liberal websites/blogs available, internet users can circumvent the national/international news presented by major media, getting news representing the experiences and interests of the people making the news directly, rather than news interpreted by corporate executives, or political representatives of the elite, individuals who have their own sharp axes to grind.”

“As a result, the viewership of corporate-controlled evening news programs has, as one observer phrased it, ‘fallen like a rock.’”

“CBS Evening News had 19 million viewers in 1980, 7 million in 2006.  During the same period NBC’s Evening News viewership dropped from 17.2 million to 8 million; ABC’s from 15.9 million to 8.25.”

“To make up for a consequent loss in advertising revenue, the media increased the number of ads viewers must endure, driving more people from the TV to the computer.  Aware those still watching TV tend to be older, the media run more ads for drugs to ease/remedy every conceivable illness—real or imagined—suffered by the aged, turning additional younger, healthier viewers away.”

“Through Google, Yahoo, Ask Jeeves, and other internet search engines, computer users are moving in the direction of becoming their own doctors, psychologists, washing machine repairmen, lawyers, etc..  Free or low-cost professional and non-professional advice and assistance is readily available on nearly every subject.  Internet users can also purchase every kind of goods on line, including prescription drugs.”

“Robert Scheer has noted even rabbis, ministers and priests find their lives are being transformed by the high-technology crusade.  ‘The open source programming movement which harnesses the wisdom of crowds to collectively make a better product has grown beyond its software roots to embrace religion,’ Scheer writes.  ‘The holy texts of “yoism” shun the wisdom of high priests and rely instead on teachings that evolve online organically.’ I.e., people are creating their own philosophical perspectives.”

“In 2006, musician Bob Ostertag posted all of his recordings on the Web where they can be downloaded free.  Ostertag’s explanation for doing it is worth citing at some length:”

“’When record companies first appeared, . . . making and selling records was a major undertaking. . . . Making recorded music available to the general public required a significant outlay of capital, which in turn required a legal structure that would provide a return on the required investment.  The contrast with the World Wide Web today could not be more striking. . . . Putting 28 years of recordings up on my Website for free download was a simple procedure involving a few hours of effort, yet resulting in instant, free, world-wide distribution.  It makes no difference if 10 people download a song or 10,000, or if they live on my block or in Kuala Lumpur: it all happens at no cost to either them or me other than access to a computer and an Internet connection.  Recording companies used to provide you with the tools you needed to hear recorded music.  Now they charge you for permission to use tools you already have, that they did not provide . . . /W/hat they are doing is imposing a “listening tax.’”

“To the argument that musicians who do this lose financially, Ostertag replies: ‘Most records, in fact, produce good money for corporations and little or none for the musicians.  This is because the recording studios and engineers, art departments, advertising departments, A&R departments, legal departments, limo services, tour agencies, caterers, and distribution networks swallow up the sales revenue. . . . Records that sell tens-of-thousands don’t “break even” not because no money comes in, but because all the money goes to keeping the corporation in the black.  At the top of the chain sit a tiny handful of media giants: Time Warner, Disney, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, Bertelsmann of Germany, Viacom and General Electric. . . . There is now a very simple alternative, which is to simply post your music on the web.  No, you won’t make any money from it, but the odds are overwhelming you would never make any money from it anyway if you charged for it.’”

“As with music, so too, with writing. Using websites like ’Database of Online Authors,’ anyone can freely read or post ‘fiction, fantasy and horror’ stories.”

“The list of things inviting Americans to enter a post-capitalist egalitarian world is long and rapidly growing:”

“There’s Skype, which allows users to make free phone calls via the internet.”

“GPS devices that make it possible for property owners to do their own surveying.”

‘Adopt-a-Highway’ programs encouraging people to assume personal responsibility for keeping roadways clean.”

Neighborhood Crime Watch programs.”

American Idol, and other call-in TV voting schemes.”

“TV news programs, which urge viewers to submit their camcorder tapes of auto accidents, plane crashes, robberies and tornadoes.”

“Even the financing of national politicians is going high-tech-egalitarian.  In the fourth quarter of 2007 maverick Republican Ron Paul set a record for internet contributions, receiving $20 million in small donations.  And weeks before being officially declared the Democrat Party’s nominee, Barack Obama’s own egalitarian fund-raising effort had already proven ten-times more effective than that of Paul.”

“‘/T/he outsider candidate is awash in a pile of cash that dwarfs anything the country has ever seen,’ Bob Ostertag observed of Obama, ‘a sum not dreamed of by even the most calous and corrupt insiders of old; over a quarter of a billion dollars so far’.”

“As I noted when discussing the self-scanning check-out counters in large retail stores, capitalists and capitalist industries must themselves promote such system-destroying activities in order to remain competitive.”

“They manufacture the machines Ostertag uses to record his music and distribute it on the web.  They make the equipment used to illegally reproduce CDs and DVDs; they encourage public participation in TV programming, and they created the web which Paul and Obama now give an equalitarian application.”

“There’s another community of individuals in capitalist countries whose self-sustaining activites have been chipping away at the integrity of the capitalist order: the several million members of 100-plus environmental and peace organizations.”

“Like Asian and Mid Eastern ‘terrorist’ leaders, most heads of large environmental and peace groups, as well as those who oversee the huge charitable foundations that fund them, are children of their nations’ elites.”

“Like the ‘terrorists,’ in order to protect their social existences they struggle to make changes which their countries’ capitalist productive-distributive systems cannot accommodate!”

“Unlike the terrorists.’ they’re urging progressive, species-protective, changes; whereas, the social existence of the terrorists’ is most effortlessly sustained by building rigidly defined feudal productive structures.”

“’Theoretically,’ of course, the U.S. could stop creating ‘terrorists’ by destroying the lives and health of Third World peoples, working with them to build a liveable world instead.”

“’Theoretically,’ it could create and install vast pollution-removing and pollution-controlling systems to restore its streams, lakes and rivers to health.”

“’Theoretically,’ the U.S. could solve its energy and traffic-congestion problems by financing construction of wind mills and the installation of solar panels on private homes; by removing hydrogen from sea water to use as fuel; and, by building grids of high-speed, magnetically  levitated, trains.”

“’Theoretically,’ it could obtain ample wood, and protect against the fires which ravage its national forests every year, by pruning the forests, using helicopters to remove the trees, rather than environmentally destructive roads; and by pressure-treating lumber with polyurathane so that it would last for hundreds of years.”

“Unfortunately, doing such things would leave no money for profit.  They are egalitarian post-capitalist designs.  And it’s rank dishonesty even to suggest them without discussing their system-breaking implications.”

“Until its capitalist productive-distributive order is dismantled and replaced, I submit the future of the U.S. is clear:”

“To keep its economy functioning will require ripping the tops off more mountains for coal; drilling for oil in environmentally destructive places; building additional life-threatening nuclear power plants; clear-cutting additional millions of acres of national forests; worsening pollution of planet earth’s oceans, lakes, rivers and streams, and poisoning more of its people.”

“It will also necessitate spending additional trillions of dollars (mostly borrowed from China and the Middle East) on weaponry; which, in turn, will make the existence of a large and continually growing enemy imperative.”

“Which brings me to the last of our fundamental questions: ‘Have some capitalists therefore begun self-protectively moving in the direction of an oppressive ‘good-versus-evil’, defense of their troubled order?’”

“Let me answer with a few quotations which describe where you Americans are at rather precisely:”

“’The National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive of May, 2007,’ ‘would place all governmental power in the hands of the president and effectively abolish the checks and balances in the Constitution,’ writes Marjorie Cohn.”

“’Anyone can now be imprisoned indefinitely without charges and denied any judicial review,’ adds Jim Hightower.”

“The government can ‘monitor your phone calls, read your email and open your snail mail,’ observes Matthew Rothschild.  ‘Law enforcement officers can bust into your home when you’re not there, riffle through your belongings, plant a recording device on your computer, and leave without notifying you for thirty days—maybe a lot more. . . . Even if you are a citizen, the government can label you an enemy combatant.’”

“In October 2007 ‘The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevent Act’ (HR1955), was passed by Congress virtually unopposed (404 to 6).”

“HR 1955’s aim is to suppress what it defines as ‘self-radicalized, unaffiliated domestic terrorists.’”

“We know who they are,  writes Paul Craig Roberts:”

“’We’re beginning to see who will be the inmates of the detention centers being built in the U.S. by Halliburton under government contract. . . . The answer is civil libertarians, critics of Israel, 9/11 skeptics, critics of the administration’s wars and foreign policies, critics of the administration’s use of kidnapping, rendition, torture and violation of the Geneva Conventions, and critics of the administration’s spying on Americans.”

“Alas, explain neocons David Frum and Richard Perle: ‘There /really/ is no middle way for Americans: it is victory or holocaust . . . the terrorist threat is menacing our well-being as a people, even our survival as a nation. . . . If ever there were a war of self-defense, the war on terror is that war.’”

With that, Marx suddenly swept up his notes and and books and returned to his seat.  Although he ended his initial statement on a very cynical note, the expression on his face continued to suggest optimism.  Obviously, the old man would have a lot more to say.

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