raising the bar

James Devine jdevine at popmail.lmu.edu
Fri Sep 4 14:13:19 PDT 1998

This was kicked back to me because it had "exceeded the maximum number of hops" whatever that means. I'm trying again and I hope no-one gets a second copy. BTW, I'd rather be sampling the hops at the local bar rather than talking about raising the bar.

MBS: >Better to do for the poor nations what the U.S. did for Western Europe after WWII: lend or give them money to buy our stuff. Or prior to that, forgive or reschedule debt some of these nations owe which drains their people of purchasing power.<

In addition to what Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky have to say about these matters (thanks, Louis!), it would be _nice_ if the U.S. gave aid to the poor countries (including Russia). But "nice" isn't the watchword in Washington DC, in the White House, at the World Bank, the IMF, or in Congress. It never has been. Aid has always been part of US foreign policy, which "revealed preference" (and lots of documents) show to be the promotion of world domination by capital, especially by favored US corporations. (Max, have you examined the Peace Corps recently? It's all about teaching the "natives" about business and the American Way.)

W. Europe got aid -- to help fight the USSR and to prevent the rise of the Communist Parties and other insurgent forces. Of course, they paid for it, as when the CIA intervened in Italian elections to cement the rule of the Christian Democrats (who turned out to be totally and utterly corrupt).

Japan & S. Korea & Taiwan got aid -- to fight China, to create Potemkin countries that looked good in the "ideological struggle" with "the East." Luckily their ruling classes were given the right kind of aid so as to attain a relatively successful state-capitalist growth path. (Even land reform -- now rejected as total anathema -- was seen as a way to fight the unholy and atheistic commies, as when General MacArthur imposed land reform on Japan. This was also motivated by an effort to humiliate the defeated Japanese elite.) Of course, they suffered costs, as the US cemented the rule by the corrupt Liberal Democratic Party, Park Chung-hee, and the KMT (in Japan, S. Korea, and Taiwan, respectively).

Latin America got aid -- to fight the evil Cuba. Unfortunately, this was combined with "counterinsurgency," as exemplified by the contra war against Nicaragua.

The only country that I know of that has given foreign aid to actually help the recipient country is Sweden. Given the decline of social democracy there, my intuitive feel of what's probably going on there is a cut-back in such aid.

In order to get the pennies that various poor countries have gotten in US aid, there had to be revolts as in Cuba or Nicaragua -- or competition with another super-power. In order for a capitalist country to actually be a mite bit altruistic, there has to be a solid social democratic government. For that, we need massive working-class organization and a ruling class willing to make a compromise (partly due to capital's own concentration and ability to make collective decisions and partly due to a limited number of profitable places to flee to).

Jim Devine jdevine at popmail.lmu.edu & http://clawww.lmu.edu/Departments/ECON/jdevine.html

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list