To try to establish whether or not these outbursts signify a sort of real threat to the present world economic arrangement, we need to consider certain historical facts and also to situate the actions of these rebellious voices in their appropriate contexts.
In the first place, it must be pointed out the target of the protesting groups is mostly American capitalism plc. But the US authorities knew long ago that such dissenting voices would not only come but would be louder and louder with time. The government is fully aware of the disastrous impact of its policies on the masses of people all over the world. Noam Chomsky, in the book Year 501, makes a startling revelation from a secret Pentagon document which was formulated by Paul Wolfowitz and Lew Lebby and presented to Vice President Dick Cheney. One section of the document states: “The US must hold global power and a monopoly of force. It will then protect the new order while allowing others to pursue their legitimate interests as Washington defines them. The US must account sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership, or seeking to overturn the established political order, or aspiring to a larger regional or global role … we will retain the pre-eminent responsibility for addressing those wrongs which threaten not only our interests but also those of our allies and friends. The US alone will determine what those wrongs are and where they are to be selectively righted.”
Again in 1998, a US government document entitled “The Long-Term Plan”, reported, among other things, that “The US will remain a global power and exert global leadership. Widespread communications will highlight disparities in resources and quality of life, contributing to unrest in developing countries … The gap between the ‘haves and have-nots’ will widen, creating regional unrest. The US will remain the only nation able to project power globally”.
Now, with all of this in their minds, there is no doubt that the US capitalist class, via its executive in government, would have put in place contingency plans to counter any imagined threats to their profit interests from any corner of the globe. And surely, this is what George Bush promised in his State of the Union address in January, 2002. He announced a hike in US military spending and pin-pointed countries such as Iran and North Korea as forming an “axis of evil”. This was later followed by remarks made by Dick Cheney to the effect that the US was considering military action against 50 countries around the world and that the fight could go on for half a century.
So for the US, the noisy protests, the massive demonstrations and the fulminations of the likes of Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela, are dramas that they knew would unfold. And since to be forewarned is to be forearmed they will see them as no immediate threat to their hegemony.
As for the war of words at the UN General Assembly, there was nothing anti-capitalist about it. On the contrary, it was merely part of the in-fighting among differing factions of the capitalist camp - a kind of family feud. The leaders of USA (and the West in general), Iraq, Venezuela, North Korea, etc are all branches of the same tree. They are members of the international cabal that represent the real rulers of the world – the owners of big business, none of whom have anything in common with the suffering masses of their respective countries. On the one hand, George Bush and his counterparts in the West, on behalf of their wealthy sponsors, are using every means at their disposal to loot the oil resources of the Middle East, Central Asia, Latin America and Africa. On the other hand, Chavez, Ahmedinejad, Bashar Al Assad, Bin Laden, Hassan Nasrallah, etc are fighting back to protect the precious resource which they also, in association with the local capitalists, are intent on looting. It must not be forgotten that people like Bin Laden are millionaires and at one time rubbed shoulders with Western leaders and the international business community. Again, how does Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbullah get the funds to keep a private army or to finance the reconstruction of the homes of the populations of southern Lebanon? Therefore the scenes that were created at the UN General Assembly were a kind of “Battle of the Titans”. It is a case of Western capitalists encroaching on the sphere of economic influence of indigenous capitalists of the areas of concern.
In essence, therefore, there is no noose tightening around the neck of the capitalist system. If anything at all Chavez, Ahmedinejad, Bin Laden and company are seeking fair play in the capitalist game. They seek an improvement in the conduct of capitalist business which will enable each group of capitalists to exploit its poor without any hindrance. Thus, whilst their words are well-sounding, they do not seek the overthrow of the capitalist system.
Revolution not reform
With regard to the “Greens” and the other protest groups including the leftists, their actions would have been meaningful and thus added some pressure on the noose around the vampire’s neck if they had expressed ideas as to an alternative system to replace this money-driven one. However, form their pronouncements, leaflets and other documents, it is clear that they are merely asking for reforms within the profit system. They do not seek its abolition. For instance, all the protesting crowds, and even the participants at the WTO meetings, ever demand is fair trade, removal of subsidies for farmers in the West, so that other farmers in Africa and other parts of the world can compete favourably in the world market and get their share of the profits.
What these people do not understand is that capitalism is a profit-driven system which only obeys the forces of the market. It does not operate according to the wishes of people. It can therefore not be reformed; it has to be completely thrown out. And that is why the previously referred to events do not constitute a threat to the status quo. There are only two sure ways of tightening the noose that will strangle capitalism. One is to understand how capitalism operates and how its replacement, socialism, will operate. The other is to willingly become active in the campaign to abolish the current system and to replace it with a system of common ownership and democratic control of the earth’s natural and industrial resources.