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Arm-in-arm with US imperialism

By John Passant - posted Tuesday, 9 September 2008

War and want. These are the twin souls of capitalism.

Three billion people don't get enough to eat. One billion starve. The US, Europe and now Asia teeter on the brink of recession. War stalks the planet.

From Bush (and Obama or McCain) through to Hu and Putin and on to Howard and Rudd, our leaders are driven by the logic of imperialism.


Iraq, Afghanistan and now Georgia are not mistakes or aberrations. They are clear evidence that war is hotwired into capitalism.

The conclusion is clear too. You can't abolish war without a democratic socialist revolution to abolish the wage slave system.

Imperialism is the clash between the major economic powers. Because capitalism is a global system in constant flux, those powers manoeuvre for dominance across the globe, often through proxies.

The US state protects and extends the powers of its corporations around the world. It does this indirectly (for example through partly captured institutions like the IMF, World Bank and UN, and free trade agreements and other deals) or directly through armed intervention.

It is a mistake to see imperialism as the major powers invading weaker countries. While this may be a consequence of military competition between the major economic powers, it is not the essence of the beast.

For example, the US invaded Iraq as part of its battle to retain economic supremacy in the world. Apart from attempting to show upstarts like China where the real military power lay, it was also a way of controlling vital energy sources that flow to China and Europe.


Without the arms giant McDonnell Douglas, there can be no McDonald's worldwide. The power of US corporations to exploit the world rests in the end on the power of the US military to impose American ruling class interests on the rest of us.

Since the collapse of the imperialist USSR the pre-eminent power in the world has been the United States.

But the rise of China (which now contributes about 10 per cent of world GDP compared to the US at around 20 per cent) has challenged this pre-eminence, and as China continues to grow in economic power, the economic and military battle between it and the US will become more and more intense.

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First published in the Socialist Alternative, September 2008.

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About the Author

John Passant is a Canberra writer ( and member of Socialist Alternative.

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