The second part of this contribution opens with a historical sketch of wars and epidemics from capitalism’s early expansion since the turn of the 16th Century: the discovery of the “West Indies” and the ensuing conquest of the Americas by Europe’s incipient colonialism, as well as its expansion to Africa and the “East Indies”, until the era of modern imperialism, since the First World War. It focuses on the ‘natural’ spread of lethal diseases and epidemics as a consequence of the interaction of hitherto physically separated populations across continents, under the conditions of a merciless exploitation of slave and forced labor.
It continues by developing on biological warfare that only became systematically developed in the context of modern imperialism by all major rivaling powers, alongside chemical and – after WW-2 – in addition to nuclear warfare. Military-scientific programs for ‘weaponizing’ a diversity of biological agents (bacteria and viruses, like for instance anthrax, botulinum, plague or Ebola) and the yet limited attempts at “testing” and “applying” them in war conflicts are briefly reviewed, including the telling example of the Aun sect in Japan (formally a non-state actor).
This part concludes with some theses for discussion, and a brief rejection of the speculation that the present Covid-19 pandemic would have originated from Chinese military laboratory experiments.
What is behind the calls for national unity against the Corona-virus pandemic?
As the Corona-virus pandemic rapidly extends its devastating effects over the globe, government leaders have successively declared themselves “at war”, and impose “sanitary emergency measures” at different grades of “lock down”, varying from restricting social life and imposing self-isolation (as in Britain, Germany and the Netherlands) up to establishing veritable military curfews (as in Italy, Spain and France). They all call upon “national unity and solidarity” to combat the “invisible enemy”, while trying to enforce state control over the population, as a new global recession is unfolding.
The following contribution develops on the relation between the wars and epidemics of capitalism, drawing some parallels with the plagues in the early stages of its emergence (the 14th Century) and with the Spanish flu during World War 1. It situates the stakes of the present “Corona-virus crisis” in an ideological preparation for a global war.
The world held prisoner by permanent imperialist war
The following article analyzes the economic backgrounds of capitalism’s drive to war which, over decades, has turned ever more countries in the geostrategically important region of the Near- and Middle East, and beyond, into an open battlefield between, ultimately, the world’s biggest imperialist powers and their respective alliances, be it directly or by proxies.
It treats the economic difficulties experienced by the USA to counter the historic erosion of the US dollar as the dominant currency of world trade, especially in the vital energy sector – and notably in the oil and gas markets – as a pivot of their policies of ‘financing’ astronomical levels of both national debts and military expenses. In so doing the article sheds light on the difficulties of the USA’s offensive to export oil and gas, specifically their shale gas to the EU countries (the North-Stream 2 project with Russia), and on their quarrel with Russia and the OPEC countries about the price of crude oil.
Last but not least, it provides a background to the exacerbation of the US-Iranian antagonism in the region, exemplified by the gangster-style assassination of the Iranian top general Soleimani and his company at Baghdad international airport on January 3, behind which it identifies China as the veritable target.
In short, the article develops arguments for the thesis that “a truly global confrontation is underway. It’s a monetary, economic, geopolitical and military clash. No one can lose it but paradoxically, ‘rebus sic stantibus’, neither can win it without risking, in turn, a collapse that would almost be as severe as a defeat.”
Public Discussion Meeting
A Free Retriever’s Digest and arbeidersstemmen.nl
Saturday 29 February 2020
Utrecht, The Netherlands
The wars in Syria and Libya do not only affect the population of these countries but the workers and jobless proletarians of Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt as well. The consequences are riots and revolts in these countries against the local oppressors and exploiters, sometimes strike movements that can open the perspective of a revolution.
The United States, Russia, Turkey and the countries of the European Union are implied in these wars as well. Sometimes by direct military intervention, more often by supporting local regimes, their oppositions or certain armies and militias. They all fight against each other for the control over the rich oil and gas resources. In addition, we see the attempts to draw profit from the flows of refugees caused by wars and poverty.
The workers, both those at work and the growing army of jobless worldwide, are the first victims of what in fact are wars between imperialist states. They are killed, wounded, traumatized and are left behind totally impoverished.
In the wealthier countries they ‘pay’ for the expenses of the imperialist war with a decline of their wages (at first with regards to the profits, subsequently in absolute terms), allowances, pensions, the degradation of medical and social care, and of education. Certain taxes and dues creep up slowly, work pressure rises, unemployment drops … on paper. Every new generation of youngsters in North Africa and the Middle East (about 30% of the population) serves as foot soldiers and cannon fodder, or rots away in slums. In wealthier countries the reintroduction of the draft service is being prepared; in the Netherlands it has never been abolished, since this year it applies to women as well.
After a brief introduction we discuss about the causes of these wars, their consequences, and in which way these can be put to an end.