US National Security Advisor John Bolton has more or less admitted that the ongoing destabilisation of Venezuela is about grabbing its oil. He recently stated:
We’re looking at the oil assets… We’re in conversation with major American companies now… It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies really invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela.”
The US’s hand-picked supposed leader-in-waiting, Juan Guaido, aims to facilitate the process and usher in a programme of ‘mass privatisation’ and ‘hyper-capitalism’ at the behest of his coup-instigating masters in Washington, thereby destroying the socialist revolution spearheaded by the late Hugo Chavez and returning to a capitalist oligarch-controlled economic system.
One might wonder who is Bolton, or anyone in the US, to dictate and engineer what the future of another sovereign state should be. But this is what the US has been doing across the globe for decades. Its bloody imperialism, destabilisations, coups, assassinations, invasions and military interventions have been extensively documented by William Blum.
Of course, although oil is key to the current analysis of events in Venezuela, there is also the geopolitical subtext of debt, loans and Russian investment and leverage within the country. At the same time, it must be understood that US-led capitalism is experiencing a crisis of over-production: when this occurs capital needs to expand into or create new markets and this entails making countries like Venezuela bow to US hegemony and open up its economy.
For US capitalism, however, oil is certainly king. Its prosperity is maintained by oil with the dollar serving as the world reserve currency. Demand for the greenback is guaranteed as most international trade (especially and significantly oil) is carried out using the dollar. And those who move off it are usually targeted by the US (Venezuela being a case in point).
US global hegemony depends on Washington maintaining the dollar’s leading role. Engaging in petrodollar recycling and treasury-bond ‘super-imperialism’ are joined at the hip and have enabled the US to run up a huge balance of payments deficit (a free ride courtesy of the rest of the world) by using the (oil-backed) paper dollar as security in itself.
More generally, with its control and manipulation of the World Bank, IMF and WTO, the US has been able to lever international trade and financial systems to its advantage by various means (for example, see this analysis of Saudi Arabia’s oil money in relation to African debt). US capitalism will not allow its global dominance and the role of the dollar to be challenged.
Unfortunately for humanity and all life on the planet, the US deems it necessary to attempt to prolong its (declining) hegemony and the age of oil.
Oil, empire and agriculture
In the article ‘And you thought Greece had a problem’, Norman Pagett notes that the ascendance of modern industrialised humans, thanks to oil, has been a short flash of light that has briefly lifted us out of the mire of the middle ages. What we call modern civilisation in the age of oil is fragile and it is becoming increasingly difficult and expensive to extract remaining oil reserves. The age of oil is a driver of climate change, that much is clear. But what is equally disturbing is that the modern global food regime is oil-dependent, not least in terms of the unnecessary transportation of commodities and produce across the planet and the increasing reliance on proprietary seeds designed to be used with agrochemicals derived from petroleum or which rely on fossil fuel during their manufacture.
Virtually all of the processes in the modern food system are now dependent upon this finite resource:
Vast amounts of oil and gas are used as raw materials and energy in the manufacture of fertilisers and pesticides, and as cheap and readily available energy at all stages of food production: from planting, irrigation, feeding and harvesting, through to processing, distribution and packaging. In addition, fossil fuels are essential in the construction and the repair of equipment and infrastructure needed to facilitate this industry, including farm machinery, processing facilities, storage, ships, trucks and roads. The industrial food supply system is one of the biggest consumers of fossil fuels and one of the greatest producers of greenhouse gases.”
Norman J Church (2005)
Pagett notes that the trappings of civilisation have not altered the one rule of existence: if you don’t produce food from the earth on a personal basis, your life depends on someone converting sunlight into food on your behalf. Consider that Arabia’s gleaming cities in the desert are built on its oil. It sells oil for food. Then there is the UK, which has to import 40 per cent of its food, and much of the rest depends on oil to produce it, which also has to be imported. Pagett notes that while some talk about the end of the oil age, few link this to or describe it as being the end of the food age.
Without oil, we could survive – but not by continuing to pursue the ‘growth’ model China or India are pursuing, or which the West has pursued. Without sustainable, healthy agriculture, however, we will not survive. Destroy agriculture, or more precisely the resources to produce food sustainably (the climate, access to fresh water and indigenous seeds, traditional know-how, learning and practices passed on down the generations, soil fertility, etc.), which is what we are doing, and we will be in trouble.
The prevailing oil-based global food regime goes hand in hand with the wrong-headed oil-based model of ‘development’ we see in places like India. Such development is based on an outmoded ‘growth’ paradigm:
Our politicians tell us that we need to keep the global economy growing at more than 3% each year – the minimum necessary for large firms to make aggregate profits. That means every 20 years we need to double the size of the global economy – double the cars, double the fishing, double the mining, double the McFlurries and double the iPads. And then double them again over the next 20 years from their already doubled state.”
Jason Hickel (2016)
How can we try to avoid potential catastrophic consequences of such an approach, including what appears to be an increasingly likely nuclear conflict between competing imperial powers?
We must move away from militarism and resource-gabbing conflicts by reorganising economies so that nations live within their environmental means. We must maximise human well-being while actively shrinking out consumption levels and our ecological footprint.
Some might at this point be perplexed by the emphasis on agriculture. But what many overlook is that central to this argument is recognising not only the key role that agriculture has played in facilitating US geopolitical aims but also its potential for transforming our values and how we live. We need a major shift away from the current model of industrialised agriculture and food production. Aside from it being a major emitter of greenhouse gases, it has led to bad food, poor health and environmental degradation and has been underpinned by a resource-grabbing, food-deficit producing US foreign policy agenda for many decades, assisted by the WTO, World Bank, IMF and ‘aid’ strategies. For instance, see Sowing the Seeds of Famine in Ethiopia by Michel Chossudovsky and Destroying African Agriculture by Walden Bello.
The control of global agriculture has been a tentacle of US capitalism’s geopolitical strategy. The Green Revolution was exported courtesy of oil-rich interests and poorer nations adopted agricapital’s chemical-dependent model of agriculture that required loans for inputs and related infrastructure development. It entailed trapping nations into a globalised system of debt bondage, rigged trade relations and the hollowing out and capture of national and local economies. In effect, we have seen the transnational corporate commercialisation and displacement of localised productive systems.
Western agricapital’s markets are opened or propped up by militarism (Ukraine and Iraq), ‘structural adjustment’ and strings-attached loans (Africa) and slanted trade deals (India). Agricapital drives a globalised agenda to suit its interests and eradicate impediments to profit. And it doesn’t matter how much devastation ensues or how unsustainable its food regime is, ‘crisis management’ and ‘innovation’ fuel the corporate-controlled treadmill it seeks to impose.
But as Norman J Church argues, the globalisation and corporate control that seriously threaten society and the stability of our environment are only possible because cheap energy is used to replace labour and allows the distance between producer and consumer to be extended.
We need to place greater emphasis on producing food rooted in the principles of localisation, self-reliance, (carbon sequestrating) regenerative agriculture and (political) agroecology and to acknowledge the need to regard the commons (soil, water, seeds, land, forests, other natural resources, etc) as genuine democratically controlled common wealth. This approach would offer concrete, practical solutions (mitigating climate change, job creation in the West and elsewhere, regenerating agriculture and economies in the Global South, etc) to many of the world’s problems that move beyond (but which are linked to) agriculture.
This would present a major challenge to the existing global food regime and the prevailing moribund doctrinaire economics that serves the interests of Western oil companies and financial institutions, global agribusiness and the major arms companies. These interlocking, self-serving interests have managed to institute a globalised system of war, poverty and food insecurity.
The deregulation of international capital flows (financial liberalisation) effectively turned the world into a free-for-all for global capital. The further ramping up of US militarism comes at the back end of a deregulating/pro-privatising neoliberal agenda that has sacked public budgets, depressed wages, expanded credit to consumers and to governments (to sustain spending and consumption) and unbridled financial speculation. This relentless militarism has now become a major driver of the US economy.
Millions are dead in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan as the US and its allies play out a continuation of what they regard as a modern-day ‘Great Game’. And now, in what it arrogantly considers its own back yard, the US is instigating yet another coup and possible military attack.
We have Western politicians and the media parroting unfounded claims about President Maduro, like they did with Assad, Saddam Hussein, Qaddafi and like they do about ‘Russian aggression’. All for what? Resources, pipelines, oil and gas. And these wars and conflicts and the lies to justify them will only get worse as demand across the world for resources grows against a backdrop of depletion.
We require a different low-energy, low-carbon economic system based on a different set of values. As the US ratchets up tensions in Venezuela, we again witness a continuation of the same imperialist mindset that led to two devastating world wars.
For direct-transfer bank details click here.
THis is an excellent article and makes sense, conforming as it does with my own ideas of the ‘End of Growth’, being Chapter 12 in my recent book: ‘The Financial Jigsaw’ which postulates exactly the senario found here.
A pdf manuscript of my book is available free of charge by contacting me at: [email protected]
Any article that illuminates the shadows of global, predatory capitalism is laudable. To understand the interdependence of practiced financial hegemony, all parts and parcels must be discovered. It is there, that the comprehensive abilities of even the most intellectual minds are overwhelmed. It is always a special treat to receive proof that there are indeed Human Beings who can see through the entirety of the scheme. Allow me to respond to a few paragraphs directly.
Unfortunately, since we are all sitting in the exact same boat, which looks more and more like the Titanic every day, the people in question are not only dictating and engineering the future of another sovereign state, but the fate of Planet Earth as a whole. These people ar not only responsible for what illegal actions they directly perpetrate, but also for the forced reactions of their ‘adversaries’. The best example is the artificial creation of Cold War I and now Cold War II. The US and its vassals have actively created a threat to subdue the entire planet and convert it to the degenerated version of what goes for progress. At that, they have forced a response by those who they were threatening with overthrow, invasion and assimilation. The US is directly responsible for
the suppression of the evolution of humanity to the next level. Hundreds of trillions of dollars were wasted in hot and cold wars since 1945, when the US decided it will go for the entire planet – based on the delusion that it is its ‘God’ given right to do so. Only the US knows hoe to spend this planet. It is therefore responsible for the greatest damage done to Earth.
This ties together with the ‘God’ given right to do as the US pleases. This deep sitting delusion has been programmed into the minds of the masses, to a degree where the masses are actually destroying their very own and the future of their offspring. Only – if at all – a major catastrophe in the US that will be attributed to the American way of destruction has the potential to awaken the population. This is also the Achilles heel of the US Hegemony. The awakening of the population has to be avoided by all means. The present state of the US society shows to what degree this policy is successful.
As I have stated many times before, we are witnessing our own evolution. At that, it matters not if we ascend, or descend into extinction. In a very apt way, it can be said that “It is up to us what will become of us” as humanity. There are no judges around – despite what religious fanatics allege. Earth is the vehicle for wo/mankind to utilize for ascension. As it stands, we as a collective, have utterly neglected to give our vehicle the tender love and care it requires to transport us to the next level. Militarism is the weakness of the individual towards a perceived threat. It can be collectivized and converted into a trillion dollar military industrial surveillance complex. Wasting funds necessary to continue to exist as species. Militarism is an invention by those profiting from it – that includes those who work in an arm factory instead of manufacturing greenhouses. As John Lennon also stated, there are no problems, there are only solutions. Human ingenuity can overcome all obstacles – our continued presence on Planet Earth is proof for that. Alan Watts once said that the problem is not the system. It is the people we allow to occupy the system. For Bolton et al, the wellbeing of each member of mankind plays no role whatsoever. These folks are egotistic to the degree of psychosis.
It is actually quite simple to achieve that. Solutions already exist. Vertical, organic agriculture is already spreading. Sure, to corporate Fascism the implementation of solutions that enable people to be self-reliant, self-sufficient, healthy and happy is an existential threat. Fascism is the principles of “Whoever is not with us is against us”, “Do as I say, not as I do” and “If I can’t have, neither can you” (as in torched Earth). The best antidote to Fascism is the (Re-)Nationalization of public utilities and resources. One is reminded of the wisdom of the Indian Nation that once populated the North American continent:
“Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.”
Thank You again for the light in Your article.
notheonly1: brilliant comment, cheers. The Indian nation quote very poignant given the destruction of the environment for $$$. And yeah, we’re all in the same boat together.
In depth read is “The energy of slaves oil and the new servitude” by Andrew Nikiforuk.
“US National Security Advisor John Bolton has more or less admitted that the ongoing destabilisation of Venezuela is about grabbing its oil.”
It’s difficult to see what the problem is. There was a very respectable geezer on Al Jazeera yesterday, ex US Ambassador to, I think, Venezuela (though perhaps it was somewhere else in America’s back yard – I arrived late and left early, so can’t be certain) and he assured us all that there weren’t ever any sanctions or destabilization stuff exercised on Venezuela until just last week. First ever. He was a US Ambassador, so obviously knows a lot more about such things than the amateurs writing here. Anyway, even if he were wrong or just misunderstood the question, the anchor would have jumped right in and said so. That’s what anchors are for. But she didn’t. So what’s all the fuss about? And incidentally, Venezuela is grabbing for itself a lot more valuable ore and stuff that we could use far better than them than just its oil. Even more reason for National Security Advisor John Bolton to back the handsome young one with the progressive.ideas instead of.that ugly old yesterday’s commie rat Maduro. God bless America.
I love Colin’s articles. If we are going to avert Armageddon, I feel we need to develop a secular bootstrap ‘Grand Unified Theory’ of our Earth system dynamics. The reductive, materialist, separate socio-geographic (nation state; regional bloc; hemispheric), and isolated systems (separate political spheres – ‘the economy’; ‘the environment’; ’employment’; ‘healthcare’; etc) views that we have been applying to geopolitics have yielded only partial insights. I feel we need to take a metaphoric ‘blue marble’ space-eye view of relational, integral, dialectic, interactional systems …toward a non-partisan Dynamic Earth Systems Theory.
Much of the theory has been formulated over the past century, it only remains to be collated and recognised. The ‘Three Ecologies’ of mind, economy, and environment are symbiotic and trialectic – a perturbation in one (that radical butterfly exercising its wings) ripples through and reverberates the entire system.
Hall and Klitgaard have produced the thesis linking the environment to the economy in “Energy and the Wealth of Nations”. As their subtitle suggests: this is toward a biophysical economics. If we accept that wars are, if not wholly, but substantially market and resource driven – and that the ideology is substantially a propagandic cover story for the justification and legitimation of this …then the underlying reasons are governed by biophysical limitation due to overconsumption. The underlying factor is malignant growthism. The countervailing factor is the diminishing quality (including, but not necessarily limited by, quantity) of natural resources.
Another major factor is debt. An economic subsystem (a country, or corporation, for instance) can mimic the effects of declining EROI (the statistical measure of diminishing quality – expressed as a ratio) by debt funding and monetising debt. The limitation is that at least the debt repayments have to be met by tangible growth – which is limited by biophysical resource consumption. As more and more capital is needed to extract resources (principally hydrocarbon resources) – less and less becomes available for societal needs (EROIsoc) …including debt management. Ignoring the underlying EROI risks the Ponzification of economics – which, for many countries, including the UK – is exactly where we are. The past is a poor, indeed misleading, measure of the future. The arrows of time and entropy point one way only.
Dr Tim Morgan and Gail Tverberg have pioneered this form of surplus energy accounting. The future looks bleak, only if we think it will be a continual prosperity trip like the past. And we all know who pocketed the bulk of the profit, don’t we? That’s the point. Living standards are set to decline as EROIsoc declines. Who will tighten their grip on power to maintain the Lion’s share? Neoliberalism/neoconservatism/imperialism/sub-imperialism/austerity/pauperisation/peripheralisation/dehumanisation/overconsumption/debt are all accounted for by the meta-dynamics of EROI. In the root of the root analysis: trying to get more out of less is our core psychological problem – it is a biophysical impossibility. The ecocidal solution is to re-apply the same dynamics hoping for a differing result.
I appreciate some of the comment more than the article.
Narratives often appeal to an existing current of thought and feeling for support and so of course this means that many simply recognize a reworking of what they already think and thus a reinforcement of an already running story.
We like to make stories of good and evil – and of course there are methods and outcomes that qualify. But another view of life – and not just human life – is of a self organising system of energetic forces and relationships that are motions that effect instabilities that either extend the system or generate a cyclic reset. IE: A wave breaks.
In this sense, in our human realm, is the vital predicate beliefs as to what it or anything is for, and thus what is regarded ‘good’, stable or worthy.
The human system (interfacing consciousness) has a self-consciousness at its root, as a self-inhibiting impulse of imbalance or instability of a development of manual controls, that become the development of rules of thought, feeling and action. A degree of personal autonomy within a social structure of managed chaos or chaotic management.
But a rule-bound model of self in life is removed from our native psychic environment, or functional being, as the idea of dominion over and yet subjection and dependence upon life – as seen or filtered through its current or active rules.
The system thus usurps life function as the maintainer and protector of its ‘power’ to hold life (energetic flowing moving unfolding becoming) under control so as to maintain control – which demands increasing inputs of energy and resource, and in simple terms external dependence, addiction, and subjection to external needs to appease internal contradictions.
The pattern of addiction is not determined by the nature of the activity or substance but by its use for the purpose of concealing and evading inner conflicts – partly denied or suppressed and partly projected and enacted externally. As the persistent crisis of a dissociating and diversionary attempts to maintain the very identification that generates the dissonances and instabilities of negative outcomes, outcomes that are narratively interpreted under an increasingly disintegrating sense of self-inflation.
The need for ‘enemies’ goes deeper than the maintaining of discrete but bloated private revenue streams, as the fundamental avoidance of destructive self-conflict – yet even this becomes an energy source of self cannibalism as the means to deny or export an underlying foundation in error and illegitimacy. Life has become seen as threat by means of identifying in what life is not as a power over it – rather than within it.
The addict in extremis says anything, uses anyone, as a self and other-destructive blindness of driven conviction. But the addict is a mistake in identification that can be corrected because it is not true. But correction is always firstly, a result of acceptance or the disintegration of the capacity to evade what the mind has made and see it for what it is – and for what you are not.
Until there is a point from which willingness can engage in genuine relational capacity, only the strategy of mimicking life runs as a way to get something for a divorced sense of manual override and intervention.
Armageddon – or he ‘final battle’ – has to be that in which the very nature of conflict is revealed truly and undone.
But to a mind predicated upon conflict, it has to be the end of the world.
And to that which thinks to triumph, it has to appear as the final solution in sight at last.
Look at the supermarket shelves, Apples from New Zealand, 10,000 miles away. How crazy is that? If those apples got air miles they’d be going on holiday to the Bahamas.
The system of agriculture being imposed on the world, GM, Monsanto, Glyphosate and the like, is intended to kill off 85% of humanity by slow poisoning and low fertility. This would leave enough people for the 0.1% to have all the servants, personal trainers, personal rabbis, and sex slaves they need, particularly with automation making most of the 99.9% surplus to requirements.
A really sobering read Colin. The whole warped dogma of Neoliberalism has really dropped us in the poo. Not only do we face the collapse of the monstrosity that is the Anglo Zionist Empire, we face the real risk of nuclear war, and just to add the cherry on top; climate change. Oh, and remind me – how much debt is there in the World? I feel pretty pessimistic about the future, and the irony is, we are so many, and these psychopathic loons pushing the World to the edge of the cliff are so few. And yes, I’m very very aware whose side the ‘media’ is on. Creatures like Bolton, Abrams, Kagan, Nuland, Pompeo, May, Macron, Blair; the entire bunch of Mafiosi will have to be stopped physically, or thrown in jail, and right now, I don’t see a snowflakes chance in hell of that happening. And what will the AZE do after Venezuela, while thrashing about desperate to maintain its hegemony. Too many in the West are fast asleep.
Sadly, Gezzah, they are not asleep – they are brain damaged. That’s not an insult, it’s a fact. Education, medicine, Vaccines, chemtrails, gmo foods, and many other ‘mind and soul altering’ entities have taken us down over the last 100 years. We no longer know what the psychopaths know – and knowledge is power.
”knowledge is power.”
I think it is the other way around, or at least can be read both ways. The elites and the media determined what true and what is false. In this sense Power is knowledge.
Whilst this could be a case of the chicken and the egg, the knowledge to which I was referring is the knowledge of the study human nature/true history so that ‘they’ know how to manipulate us successfully, what media will work and how we will react.
For example, if they put a clown type man with a big handle bar moustache shouting ‘we want their oil’ and then had the leader of the target country call the clown’s country, ‘gringoes’ – well, no one would take that seriously, would they?
“Oh, foolish man, what can you not be made to believe?” Adam Weishhaupt.
(quote found on website of Alan Watt – http://www.cuttingthroughthematrix.com or http://www.cuttingthroughthematrix.ca)
Gezzah and Mikalina
The thing is we know what we know. Who wants to know what psychopathy is. Whatever it is: it’s not power – it’s weakness. It becomes a form of illusory power so long as we let them control the narrative. But that control is not a certitude.
We have been dumb. We take the dominant narrative; identify its strengths – then try to take them on where they are strongest? Doh! We have to pick a new battle, on a new battlefield – one on which we have the advantage. That battlefield has to be the mind.
There is a worldview world war: duality versus process – where process wins. We are inculcated that the world is dualist and Cartesian when it is not. It is not even a coherent philosophy, which does not withstand examination. The nascent science and spirituality nexus completely undermines it. Their strength is our duality – a duality that splits and atomises everything into non-relational individuated entities, modalities and domains – divide and rule at the cognitive level. The growing realisation that process unites everything into a non-priviliged relational egality changes everything. Our autonomous unity is their weakness: its the only thing they fear.
So long as we project our projects and goals out: at the expense of our personal holism – we will have neoliberlism etc. If and when we realise that we are already whole: our ‘external’ needs are minimised and easily met, locally. Capitalism ends. Our false wants, needs, and desires – externalised = neoliberal capitalism. The end of all war is in sight – literally.
Can I change my order for a T with that slogan, please? 🙂
I understand what you are arguing against – but to give that paradigm as MY views, is to set up a strawman to knock down.
“Who wants to know what psychopathy is” – I said WE don’t know what THEY know. I shouldn’t have used the word psychopath as the whole concept of psychiatry and its language was given to us as a way of reducing our knowledge of ourselves and controlling us (plus a lot of jobs for the boys).
“The thing is we know what we know” – Yes, but my point is why do we know this? Where does this knowledge come from? Our language, concepts, religions, cultures have all been derived from an ancient knowledge we don’t have access to. Your ‘oneness’ concepts are just another ‘facet’ on the ‘diamond’ known as religion.
‘Oneness’ is not a concept I use: particularly as it is meaningless …it’s all One, man – is just another solipsist ontology.
Religion is hierarchical: a way of mediating power and oppression. I’d much rather align with the various secular movements that are emerging …timeless teaching stripped of mollycoddling infantalising morality and metaphysical grand narratives.
How do we know? Directly: unmoderated by metaphysical claims …ummediated by semiotic symbolism …beyond and within the Word 😀
In Zen, the five core senses and the integrative sense-mind constitute the primary awareness of the Root Awareness. There is nothing else (nothing outside conscious experience). It is the All (Sabha). In the West, this is usually relegated to a ‘pre-reflective self-awareness’ – that is the ‘protoself’ to higher forms of (linguistically mediated; conceptual) higher forms of consciousness. In other words, it is a secondary, subjacent, and inferior way of knowing …compared to the supervention of Reason, Intellect, Will. The sense experience is (subliminally) seen as flawed, unreliable, clouded by emotion (which it can be) …but so can intellectual reasoning. It is flawed, delusional reasoning that is the oppression of all.
All knowledge comes from direct experience. If it does not exist in experience, it should not be affirmed in theory. This is pramana: the Occam’s razor of metaphysics! By shifting the core experiential from intellection and conception to the directly knowable – that is the knowledge we have direct access to. Not ‘book knowledge’ or arcane forms of knowing. Not all ‘higher’ fixed (hypostatised) conceptual knowledge: that only clouds direct knowing. It has nothing to do with religion. There can’t be a proxy or intercessor.
They know fuck all. All they know is the self-conceit of the cognitive elite. Knowledge, the wisdom principle, the Bodhicitta, is the great leveller. Can we be under any illusion they have the power? We have the keys to consciousness. They can’t shoot us if we refuse to consume …because we have our riches already. Our basic ‘external’ survival needs can be met to a great level of post-scarcity, post-competitive, comfort for an fraction of the bioenergetic costs of perpetual consumerism …if and when we are whole. Whether it is a conscious awareness or not – this is what everyone wants (especially the cognitive elite) …only they just do not know it yet. It only takes a small switch to end our unkowing (primal avidya).
The history of foreign intervention by the U.S. goes back more than mere decades, to the mid-1850s. The Californian gold rush of 1848 called for a (relatively) fast and safe transport route for prospectors and their gold from coast to coast, in a time before transcontinental railroad. Two such alternative transit routes ran through Central America, cutting travel time considerably like the 19th century equivalent of wormholes, and soon proved very profitable. The Nicaragua route was monopolised by America’s first robber baron Cornelius Vanderbilt. The other ran through the Panama region of the newly independent Republic of New Granada. It wasn’t long before Nicaraguans and Panamanians attempted to compete with the U.S. transport companies running in their own country, if not take them over entirely. The U.S. decided that such uppity business aspirations needed to be punished.
In 1854 the U.S. Navy bombarded San Juan del Norte in Nicaragua on behalf of Vanderbilt. A year later, with the approval of U.S. President Franklin Pierce, American filibuster William Walker invaded Nicaragua and installed himself as President. Walker, however, went off-script in true freebooter fashion and appropriated Vanderbilt’s Nicaraguan assets for himself. Vanderbilt retaliated by financing neighbouring countries to carry out a successful counter-coup against Walker in 1857.
In 1856 the so-called “Watermelon War” broke out in Panama City, a riot that started as a brawl between a drunk U.S. traveller refusing to pay 5 cents to a local salesman for his slice of watermelon. Things quickly escalated, resulting in the deaths of 15 gringos and 2 Panamanians. A decade earlier, the U.S. and New Granada has signed a treaty, allowing the U.S. to intervene to guarantee the neutrality of the region for the safeguarding of U.S. transit rights. While this originally had meant protection against foreign involvement (in particular by the colonial Spanish), the Watermelon War changed U.S. interpretation of the treaty to include domestic disturbances, and in that same year U.S. troops unlawfully invaded the Panama region of New Granada. U.S. demands for reparations were ridiculously high, not only financial but also territorial (foreshadowing the later Panama Canal Zone), leading one to suspect that the watermelon incident was a deliberate provocation waged for colonial gain.
Excellent read. Our entire media, film, news industrial complex has promoted this lifestyle and hidden/distracted us from the true cost/reality of neoLiberalism, oil, imperialism, agricapital. When you try point this out-you feel like an alien.
B: completely relate regards trying to point out the reality of Neoliberalism, and what is being done to the Planet, and the danger of nuclear war, and am either ignored, labelled a conspiracy nut, or a Russian troll, or asked sarcastically if I’ve built my nuclear bunker yet. Head. Brick. Wall. Most people I’ve tried to reach out too just Don’t want to know. At all. What the hell can you do?
I suspect it’s because most of us benefit, at least us reading, searching, asking! Those swept aside by Neo liberalism, my hometown for example, Merthyr Tydfil (Merthyr vale Pit) are too demoralised, dumbed down, distracted, others have shown their teeth by voting leave! The most educated, as Chomsky says are the ‘most obedient’. Think we’re crazy! Neo liberalism has only recently crept into the mainstream language. If we said Fascism or Nazi people would go mental!
B: Cheers for that B. Greetings from Melbourne by the way. Here in Aussie, its pretty much hedonism and narcissism on steroids, and the favourite pastime is ‘going shopping’ – very much a mini America. And everywhere you look, everyone’s staring at their phones. Sigh. Majority of my friends are white collar, Uni educated, and sadly, they fully buy into the system and believe the propaganda. They believe the idea of socialism is lah lah land stuff. Thanks for your feedback.
Ahh! The only City we didn’t make it too. We lived in Perth for 12 months and Sydney for 3 years. Honestly, glad to be back..miss the sun but not much else. Cheers mate.
Thank the Lord, there are still people around, like this author who will speak truth to power. Individuals with this desire to save the Earth are few and far between.
Several countries have succeeded in by-passing the oppressive control of the US. When the Shah was deposed in ’79 one of the first moves of the theocracy in Iran was to return the control of the oil industry back to public ownership. Hussain tried to buck the system, Gaddafi also, as did Assad, Russia, China, Iran, but every country who has tried to circumvent the petro dollar monopoly has been targeted for destruction by coups and military means including the militarisation of illegal economic sanctions. The various attempts by governments of freeing their country of western dominance has always been met by western and in particular, US, who own the UN, punitive sanctions. Chavez, on gaining power, immediately went about delivering the oil industry back into the hands of the people rather than the foreign ownership who exploited it, after which his country was besieged by the western powers. Any and all attempts to deviate from US hegemony, most especially towards trading with China or Russia, have always been met with merciless persecution under false flag revolutions, CIA funded GONGOS(Government Orchestrated Non Government Organisations)funding of political destabilisations, coups and western backed aggression usually through military “humanitarian” and “democratic enabling” covert proxy wars or buying the so-called democratic regimes compliance with GM crop intiatives. The revolutionary ideology behind these countries attempts to break free of the western domination has always been met by death and destruction by one means or another. The majority of countries who have tried have ended up being wracked by wars and had fascist puppet regimes installed, sadly revolutions cost lives – a lot of them.
“US National Security Advisor John Bolton has more or less admitted that the ongoing destabilisation of Venezuela is about grabbing its oil.”
I wouldn’t take everything that Bolton said as gospel. Not only is he a liar of some notoriety but he is not very bright. Shrewd and cunning, no doubt but shallow and ill informed.
Oil is certainly an important factor here. But the US already has considerable control over it and always has done so. And Chavez’s nationalisation programme has left the basic system intact. The oil industry is still controlled by the country’s enemies.
Which is why Venezuela’s economy is in such a bad state- all the wealth has been bled off, in one way or another and there has been virtually no local capital formation.
Curiously enough Trinidad’s Oliver C Cox the pioneering economic historian of capitalism and imperialism uses Venezuela, in 1951, as a, literally, text book example of countries exploited by imperialism. And in almost seventy years surprisingly little has changed. The profits from the sale of crude oil and the royalties have returned to the country in the form of salaries and wages, firstly to the tiny number of locals employed in the industry and secondly to government employees. There is almost no investment in Venezuelan industry, consumer goods and food are largely imported and savings are sent abroad to buy US securities and invest in more dynamic industrial economies.
The department store shelves which Dr Cox described as being filled with imported goods are now supermarkets whose proprietors, intent on preserving the status quo ante, starve of goods.
The fault is entirely the imperialists’ they are wrecking the economy in order to prevent the ‘revolution’ that the author suggests has taken place,. In fact it hasn’t. There has been enormous change, almost all of it to the advantage of the long neglected masses, the poor. But there has been no revolution: politically the institution of a real democratic system makes it possible but the overshadowing power of property and the wealthy agents of imperialism is largely untouched. They can be outvoted, but they still control the media and much else on the commanding heights of the economy.
That is what cannot last: the corrupt power of the oligarchs and the conscious actions of the masses intent on securing their own interests are in contradiction.
@Bevin: “Chavez’s nationalisation programme has left the basic system intact. The oil industry is still controlled by the country’s enemies.”
Like in South Africa. The bloodless Rainbow Revolution by Botha & Mandela was an inspiring act of political freedom, but the price demanded by Anglo Zio Capitalism for peaceful political transition in South Africa was that the new Rainbow Government should leave the AZC’s financial shackles in place.
Rothschild Rules, OK?.
Mandela’s big achievement was making South Africa safe for the big corporate vested interests to carry on looting the country business as usual. RTZ, Anglo American, Lonrho and Co. Overnight he became Saint Nelson instead of the “dangerous communist terrorist” Cameron and Bercow were demonstrating to have hanged. And 99% of the black population carried on living in one room cinder block shacks with no electricity, no water and no job. An ideal outcome for the 0.1%
Mark: Spot on. Even tho it was well over 25 years ago, I still recall how Mandela was transformed from evil terrorist to being feted and applauded thruout the West. Nothing changed for the vast majority of South Africans except for being able to ‘vote’ in ‘elections’.
“Chavez’s nationalisation programme has left the basic system intact. The oil industry is still controlled by the country’s enemies”
This is factually incorrect. PDVSA’s (Chavez’s state producer) infrastructure is delapidated due to capital starvation. Money has also to be diverted for social needs. The major problem is that the infrastructure was built to extract the lighter grades of oil, which is in steady decline (post-peak). The remaining reserves are all heavy and extra-heavy crudes from the Orinoco Belt. To exploit this, they need a whole new infratsructure – which they are being deliberately starved of capital and technology for (targeted sanctions). The problem is exacerbated by the need to keep up quotas of oil-for-debt repayments (to China, Cuba). They are literally having to give half their production away for free. [There are also tight OPEC quotas to maintain].
Bolton is unusually accurate, I feel. It’s all about the oil. The capital that is coming in to exploit the Orinoco Belt is from Venezuela’s friends, not it’s enemies. From Russia (Rosneft) and China. The prospect of China and Russia extracting the world’s largest oil reserves from America’s own backyard …need I say more?
My basic point-that control of the oil industry continues to be in the hands of foreigners, with no interest in Venezuela’s social objectives- is still unfortunately, true.
The detail that you supply certainly provides a more accurate picture than my crude sketch but the relationship between the raw material producer and the imperial power is as Cox suggested. You remind us of the fact that while Venezuela’s oil reserves lie largely in the heavy bituminous variety, historically its production has been of lighter grades, from I believe the highlands.
As to Bolton’s assertion, I stand by my view that he is not telling the truth- there is no need for the US to install a puppet in order to control the oil, which is going to be sold to the US, one way or another, for the foreseeable future.
What Bolton and the Americans and their ‘allies’ in Canada, the EU and the Lima Group are afraid of is socialism. Which they can see, I’m unsure whether Maduro can, is the only alternative to an imperialist victory.
In order to maximise the resistance it will be necessary to bring the property of the bourgeoisie into play, both to reduce their power and to reward the poor with a permanent way out of poverty and dependence.
And the thoroughgoing expropriation of property will also open the way to diverting oil wealth into capital investment, notably the construction of refineries.
I recall that, just after the Gulf of Tonkin scam, many of my fellow opponents of the imperialists in Vietnam were convinced that that war too was all, about natural resources, including offshore oil deposits of enormous value. I was unconvinced then- imperialism is about maintaining the unequal relations between the leading powers and the exploited peripheries. And, while it is true that the Empire would not be in those peripheries in the first place if there were no resources to purloin, once there the compulsion is to compel. Venezuela must be brought into line, pour encourager les autres.
None of which does not require putting into the new, or re-emergent, context of a serious struggle between the US and rival powers, after decades in which the Soviet Union was either beyond caring or defunct.
The Gulf of Tonkin psyop was in 1964, as you know. The thing is, motivations change. Resources were not the imperative then, as they are now. Ideology – the containment of communist China; the domino effect; the Cold War meta-narrative; etc – was the dominant factor then. Nearly sixty years later: resources – particularly oil – are everything. Inasmuch as I want to be inside the head of the Walrus of Death – his words ring true. You understand the Monroe Doctrinaire manifest destiny ethos as well as I do. Even if they didn’t want the oil – they still wouldn’t let Russia and China have it. 😉
Bevan: There is something so sweet about the truth…… Smoke and mirrors – and nothing makes more smoke than oil.