No blood for bananas

Charles Brown CharlesB at
Tue Apr 13 16:30:08 PDT 1999

>>> Jim heartfield <jim at> 04/13/99 03:43AM >>>
I wouldn't rush to find a direct economic motive for the war.

Chas: The economic motive doesn't have to be "direct". Might even be indirect or delayed. The real profitting potential just has to be substantial in the opinion of some members of the dictatorship of the transnational bourgeoisie. Plus, capitalism works largely as scavengerism. It thrives on the creative destruction of war as well as other forms of creative destruction.


The hunt for oil in Kosovo would be a long and fruitless one. Nor is this war an attempt to contain the EU/US trade war over the banana.

Chas.: Doesn't have to be in Kosovo. Just impacted by military control in the area, although the Iraqi gas station owner I buy gasoline from said first thing to me that "there is oil there". Also, there are some mines. But these need be only part of a larger package of different economic potential gains. Yugoslavia seems to have a lot of remanents of its socialism too. The transnational bourgeois motive to destroy these is an political economic motive.


The motivations of the Balkan conflicts has been principally an attempt to _re-moralise_ western governments, by giving them a sense of purpose. With the Balkan wars, Blair and Clinton have cast themselves in the role of Good Knight taking on the Dragon. That might seem an ephemeral motive to those schooled in the 'follow the money' school of vulgar Marxism, but it is worth more than diamonds to our current generation of political leaders.

Chas: My analysis is dialectical, not vulgar, Marxism. Capitalism needs the INSTITUTION of war for general economic reasons. To see ONLY "remoralising" as the only motive is vulgar or narrow idealism. It is to stop in the middle of the reasoning chain. Why do the western governments need to "remoralise" ? In order to exercise state power for their capitalist masters. The modern state is but the executive committee OF THE BOURGEOISIE (as Michael Hoover recently quoted from the Communist Manifesto). The bourgeosie control the state for ECONOMIC ends. Perhaps it is best to term the transnational bourgeois motives for this war as POLITICALECONOMIC.


Andrew Marr, one-time 'Socialist Organiser' member and former editor of the Independent newspaper, writing in this weekend's Observer explained what was at stake: "If the alternative is humiliation and failure, tearing the guts out of half a dozen Western governments, then the war agaisnt Serbia will go ahead."

Marr, realising that this is all about reputation goes on to say what must happen. The prize is 'The defeat of Serbian nationalism' 'From inside or outside, by hook or crook, fair means or foul,' Serbian nationalism 'will now have to be toppled and humiliated.'

Then going on to say that the 'region has rarely been stable without an outside force of some kind' Marr argues that 'we [and who is this 'we' he's speaking for, exactly?] should not shrink from the notion of a colony'. But then he checks himself and says 'though since traditional colonies were created to be exploited, rather than to be subsidised and helped, the term anti-colony would be more accurate'.

Finally adding that the "anti"-colonisation of the Balkans ought to come with EU membership, Marr concludes:

'This - and only this - would be an act of generosity and vision big enough to redeem Europe for what has been a shameful and blundering decade.'

Marr's talk of 'anti-colony' provoked my cynicism. However, in one important sense I think he is right. The motivations are not financial gain. Rather, the goal is as he says 'redemption' for Western governments, a sense of a higher mission and purpose that they have lacked since the End of the Cold War. This is first and foremost an ideological war, undertaken for moralistic reasons.

Charles replies: And what changed the world so fundamentally so that we all of a sudden have an ideological war undertaken for moralistic reasons ? Marr's slip tells the truth. The purpose of this war is neo-colonialism, imperialism. As Lenin uses it "imperialism" is an ECONOMIC category. The Transnational Bourgeoisie only care about Serbian nationalism as to how it affects their profits and prospects for markets. Same old story. This is not a new phenomenon going on. War has always been politics. Politics is politicaleconomy.


And of course, that is what makes it so dangerous. You can reason with someone who is just in it for the money. But the sight of Prime Minister Blair, face flushed with moral indignation and, let's be honest, excitement, tells you there is no reasoning with this man. The Road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

Chas: Bourgeois politicians have ALWAYS masked their economic/financial motives with ideological and moral bullshit. The U.S. pretended to be fighting for freedom and democracy in Viet Nam, for example, not trying to gain control of a neo-colony; but really they were about the latter. Remember the U.S. had to "destroy Viet Nam to save it."

Blair and Clinton don't have good intentions. They are good liars for the cause of Capital.


Rather like those Soviet statues of workers, "Humanity" the abstract noun with the upper case, is elevated way above mere people, who must be slaughtered in their own cause.

Chas: The problem is not that the U.S. is this time fighting for a good abstraction like "Humanit(arianism)" , but fails because that goal is too abstract (destroying it to save it). The problem is that the U.S. is waging war for Capital concretely, that is some specific economic gains (whether direct or indirect; short term or long term as discussed above),;and Capital generally, that is capitalism needs the INSTITUTION of war as a normal state of affairs in the world so that it can more easily wage one as its recurring specific needs for imperialist rape and plunder arise. For capitalists the thing is : just have a war. They'll figure out how specifically to scavenger profits off of it after the slaughter ends.

Long live the Soviet Union ! Bring back the Soviet Union ! If we had it, the U.S. wouldn't dare commit this crime.

Charles Brown

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