By Stephen Gowans
When in 1916 Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin expounded what historian V.G. Kiernan would later call virtually the only serious theory of imperialism, despite its shortcomings (1), Lenin cited Cecil Rhodes as among the “leading British bourgeois politicians (who) fully appreciated the connection between what might be called the purely economic and the political-social roots of modern imperialism.” (2)
Rhodes, founder of the diamond company De Beers and of the eponymous Rhodesia, had made the following remarks, which Lenin quoted at length in his Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism.
I was in the East End of London yesterday and attended a meeting of the unemployed. I listened to the wild speeches, which were just a cry for ‘bread,’ ‘bread,’ ‘bread,’ and on my way home I pondered over the scene and I became more than ever convinced of the importance of imperialism … My cherished idea is a solution for the social problem, i.e., in order to save the 40,000,000 inhabitants of the United Kingdom from a bloody civil war, we colonial statesmen must acquire new lands to settle the surplus population, to provide new markets for the goods produced by them in factories and mines. The Empire, as I have always said, is a bread and butter question. If you want to avoid civil war, you must become imperialists. (3)
Skip ahead 95 years. Here’s US ambassador to Libya, Gene A. Cretz:
We know that oil is the jewel in the crown of Libyan natural resources, but even in Qaddafi’s time they were starting from A to Z in terms of building infrastructure and other things. If we can get American companies here on a fairly big scale, which we will try to do everything we can to do that, then this will redound to improve the situation in the United States with respect to our own jobs. (4)
New York Times’ reporter David D. Kirkpatrick noted that “Libya’s provisional government has already said it is eager to welcome Western businesses (and)…would even give its Western backers some ‘priority’ in access to Libyan business.” (5)
A bread and butter question. Also a profit-making one.
What Ahmadinejad really said at the UN
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s address to the 66th UN General Assembly meeting provided the Iranian president with the usual occasion to make the usual points and the Western media the usual occasion to misrepresent them.
Wall Street Journal reporter Jay Solomon wrote that Ahmadinejad “sought to stoke controversy by again questioning the Holocaust,” (6) reminding readers that Ahmadinejad had once called for Israel to be “wiped off the map”, a distortion that will live on in history through its mere retelling. (What the Iranian president really said was that Israel would dissolve as the Soviet Union had.)
I read the transcript of Ahmadinejad’s address, but found no questioning of the Nazi-engineered holocaust.
Here are his remarks on Zionism and the Holocaust.
They view Zionism as a sacred notion and ideology. Any question of its very foundation and history is condemned by them as an unforgivable sin.
Who imposed, through deceits and hypocrisy, the Zionism and over sixty years of war, homelessness, terror and mass murder on the Palestinian people and countries of the region?
If some European countries still use the Holocaust, after six decades, as the excuse to pay fine or ransom to the Zionists, should it not be an obligation upon the slave masters or colonial powers to pay reparations to the affected nations?
By using their imperialistic media network which is under the influence of colonialism they threaten anyone who questions the Holocaust and the September 11 events with sanctions and military action. (7)
It would have been more accurate for Solomon to have written that Ahmadinejad sought to stoke controversy by again questioning the legitimacy of Zionism and the manipulative use of the Nazi-perpetrated holocaust to justify it.
But these themes are unmentionable in the Western corporate media.
It is common practice to capitalize the Nazi-engineered effort to exterminate the Jews as the ‘Holocaust’, as if there had never been any other holocaust—or any at rate, any other worth mentioning. Even the transcript of Ahmadinjad’s address refers to ‘the Holocaust’ rather than ‘a holocaust.’
The Justice Process
It seems that the only argument US president Barack Obama could muster for why Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas shouldn’t seek recognition of a Palestinian state at the UN is that the ‘peace process’ would be derailed.
Let’s lay aside the obvious difficulty of Barak the Bomber caring about peace, and that the ‘peace process’ has been off the rails for some time. His objection missed the point. Recognition of a Palestinian state isn’t a question of the peace process but of the justice process, and hardly a very satisfying one at that. What justice is there in Palestinians settling for one fifth of their country? Which is what, in any practical sense, UN recognition of the Palestinian territories as a state would amount to.
But it’s better than the status quo and a starting point.
For Zionists, the peace process is a little more appealing, but is the opposite of the justice process. It means getting Palestinians to settle for even less than one-fifth of their country, and to acknowledge the theft of it as legitimate.
An aside: Over 30 countries do not recognize Israel, among them Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, Iran and Syria.
Do those who promote what Keynes called the fallacy of thrift (or fallacy of austerity, to give it a contemporary spin) really believe what they preach: that cutting pensions, laying off public servants, raising taxes on the poor, and closing government programs, is the way to avert a deeper economic crisis for the bulk of us?
Do they even care about the bulk of us?
Or is austerity simply a way of bailing out bankers and bondholders by bleeding the rest of us dry?
British prime minister David Cameron, on a trip to Canada to compare notes with fellow deficit-hawk Stephen Harper, the Canadian PM, remarked that “Highly indebted households and governments simply cannot spend their way out of a debt crisis. The more they spend, the more debts will rise and the fundamental problem will grow.” (8)
This was reported with tacit nods of approval in Canada’s corporate press, as if Cameron’s utterings were incontrovertible, rather than the ravings of an economic illiterate (in the view of economists), or the words of a political con artist (in the view of class struggle literates.)
Highly indebted governments simply cannot cut their way out of an economic crisis. The more they cut, the more aggregate demand weakens and the worse it gets. Greece’s continued slide into economic ruin underscores the point. The United States’ inability to drag itself out of the depths of the Great Depression, until arms orders brought the economy back to life, strikes an historical cautionary note.
But recessions are not without benefits for corporate plutocrats. It’s easier to cut wages, salaries and benefits during downturns, and to enjoy bigger profits as a result. Small competitors can be driven out of business. Unions can be weakened. And governments have an excuse to slash social programs that have pushed the balance of power a little too far in labor’s direction. Indeed, all manner of sacrifices can be extracted from most of us if we’re persuaded that debt is the cause of the problem and that belt-tightening is the physic that will cure it.
My bet is that Cameron and his fellow water carriers for moneyed interests are no dummies — but they’re hoping the rest of us are.
Knowing Who Your Friends Are
Here is the widely reviled (by Western governments) Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe, at the 66th session of the UN General Assembly.
After over twenty thousand NATO bombing sorties that targeted Libyan towns, including Tripoli, there is now unbelievable and most disgraceful scramble by some NATO countries for Libyan oil, indicating thereby that the real motive for their aggression against Libya was to control and own its abundant fuel resources. What a shame!
Yesterday, it was Iraq and Bush and Blair were the liars and aggressors as they made unfounded allegations of possessions of weapons of mass destruction. This time it is the NATO countries the liars and aggressors as they make similarly unfounded allegations of destruction of civilian lives by Gaddafi.
We in Africa are also duly concerned about the activities of the International Criminal Court (ICC) which seems to exist only for alleged offenders of the developing world, the majority of them Africans. The leaders of the powerful Western States guilty of international crime, like Bush and Blair, are routinely given the blind eye. Such selective justice has eroded the credibility of the ICC on the African continent.
My country fully supports the right of the gallant people of Palestine to statehood and membership of this U.N. Organisation. The U.N. must become credible by welcoming into its bosom all those whose right to attain sovereign independence and freedom from occupation and colonialism is legitimate. (9)
It’s clear why he’s reviled by imperialists, but also by leftists?
If the Movement for Democratic Change’s Morgan Tsvangirai, favorite of the West, ever becomes president, expect a very different kind of address at future General Assembly meetings.
1. V.G. Kiernan, Marxism and Imperialism, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1974.
2. V. I. Lenin, Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism, International Publishers, New York. 1939. p 78.
3. Ibid. p 79.
4. David D. Kirkpatrick, “U.S. reopens its embassy in Libya”, The New York Times, September 22, 2011.
6. Jay Solomon, “Iran adds Palestine statehood wrinkle”, The Wall Street Journal, September 23, 2011.
8. Campbell Clark, “Cameron, Harper preach restraint in teeth of global ‘debt crisis’”, The Globe and Mail, September 22, 2011
10 thoughts on “US Ambassador Echoes Cecil Rhodes”
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Miko Peled Born in Jerusalem in 1961 is the son of General Matti Peled, who was a leader in the 1967 war who also fought in the War of Israel’s Independence in 1948.His grandfather, Dr. Avraham Katsnelson a signer of the Israeli Declaration of Independence. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rI9-dEs9HIM
” If the Movement for Democratic Change’s Morgan Tsvangirai, favorite of the West, ever becomes president, expect a very different kind of address at future General Assembly meetings. ”
Morgan Tsvangirai is Anglo-American De Beers puppet. He used to work for them as a miner.
AADB is the world’s biggest diamond miner and trader – 40% of global marketshare in 2001, 95% during most of the 20th century.
Zimbabwe owns 20% of the world’s known diamond reserves, and has platinum reserves bigger than South Africa’s.
Tsvangirai biographer Sara Huddleston, on Morgan’s love for Anglo-American, talking about the indigenisation policy:
” “Morgan loves the mining industry because he was a miner and was given his start in life by Anglo American. He is a miner at heart but he sees both sides of the picture and this policy is not good for the workers or investors,” said Tsvangirai biographer Sarah Hudleston. ”
Can anyone say: Baldrick?
Neo-Colonialism, Subversion in Africa and Global Conflict
Civilised africa seeks to shake off the shackles of barbarian europe.
What an interesting piece.
It should be noted what Mugabe has said at the UN. Tsvangirai would never say such things.
Fantastic post once again, what a read.
MY THOUGHTS ON this very thought-provoking piece by Gowans shows that when it comes to imperialism NOTHING significantly changes. Technology might develop and this development might seem to benefit mankind–but which part of “mankind”? Ultimately the control of technology ends up in the hands of the elite moneyed interests (not just on a national level but on an international global elite level.)
Communication technology: The global elite could shut off access to meaningful radical (going to the root) information on the Internet with the click of a switch. And the Internet and cell phones make it easier for the moneyed interests to track citizens, to invade their personal lives and to monitor their “subversive” activities.
Military technology: The global elite could destroy this world (and are doing do) with their control over sophisticated military equipment, including advanced state of the arc drone killing machines. The $$$ that go to the weapons manufacturing and development areas steal from the $$$ that go to the poor, hungry, jobless of the world.
Medical technology: Ends up being controlled by the elite and to serve the elite. The poor often function as experimental rats to create safer drugs and services for the elite.
Agriculture technology, especially that which developed genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has destroyed seed diversity around the globe. The list goes on and on.
WHAT DOES NOT CHANGE IS THE “THINKING” OF IMPERIALISM. The thinking of imperialism is GREED instead of NEED based. The thinking of imperialism IS simply profits before people. This has always been and will continue as long as the masses put their individual needs and advancement before the needs and advancement of the society. Technology tends to accelerate the reality of total control by the moneyed interest elites. This does not mean that technology can not serve humanity; it simply means that the imperialist rulers (which have ALWAYS existed) will not allow technology to benefit the masses in any sustained way.
Thanks for another great article.
I think the America and First World Leftists do “get it.” They are simply disguised imperialists.
Deep down, they understand that their own standard of living and economy are dependent upon maintaining American and European imperialist exploitation throughout the globe.
This is why Westerners tacitly, if not directly, support the many wars of aggression and crimes committed by their own nations.
“The US exploits the rest of the world to postpone its own civil war”
Since at least 1898 US imperialism’s quest for hegemony has killed millions of people.
The US/ NATO attack on Libya is but the least in a long string of barbaric assaults.
Client states are allowed to commit similar atrocities as Israel’s assault of 2008 – 2009 on Gaza shows.
It matters little who inhabits the white house or the US congress.
Those “leftists” (“progressives”) who applaud the removal of a S. Hussein or M. Gaddafi are willfully ignorant of the nature of European and US imperialism’s political-economic nature.
Even after the experience of the 21st century brutal attacks and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan they still “don’t get it.”
My question is why?
Brilliant as always, insightful and thought provoking. Well done. Hopefully those in Africa will view this as an eye opener.
Thanks for an excellent piece of analysis!