We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore LappĂ©, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Entrenching Capitalist Agriculture in India Under the Guise of Development

Click here to access article by Colin Todhunter from his blog East by Northwest.

The author is a British citizen, who lived in India for a number of years, studied the impacts of neoliberal development on India agriculture which had devastating effects on small farmers and reaped big profits for Western corporations. Writers of classic liberalism, the ideology (or theology) of capitalism, wrote that the unimpeded pursuit of profit by owners (under the rules of capitalism) inevitably results in benefits to the entire society. While living in India Todhunter observed the devastation that was occurring among small farmers and simultaneously the tremendous wealth that neoliberal policies and actions were generating for Western corporations. Thus I think it is worth our time to review the development of capitalism to see why such contradictions to their theory about capitalism have since occurred, not only in India, but across the entire world.

These classic liberals built their theory on the foundation of feudalism which was characterized by the ownership and control of lands that were originally taken by violent force and bequeathed to feudal descendants known as the aristocracy and monarchs. The early capitalists saw the vast potential for generating wealth in the organization of production concentrated in large workshops that combined the new developments in machines and power (water, coal, and later petroleum fuels) with human operators, and they wanted to have "ownership" rights over such production like the feudal authorities had over the production of foodstuff on their land by serfs engaged in agriculture.

These capitalist classes rallied working people to their side in order to defeat the feudal authorities by espousing "natural rights", "liberty", "equality", and "fraternity", "social contract", "freedom", sovereignty of the people as opposed to "divine right" of kings, etc. But what was always included in this new ideology of capitalism was "property rights", and it was this element that the new class really took seriously. The rest was pure propaganda or window dressing to sell to the unwashed masses the new system where rights (or freedom) and influence were in reality based on the ownership of economic property. The end result of this agitation by the new class of capitalists was the eventual overthrew of the rule of feudal authorities and the establishment of governing structures that promoted the interests of capitalists.

Where kingdoms existed before, these new ruling classes absorbed them into states under their control, and established elected parliaments (congresses) and other institutions to mediate disputes between capitalist competitors. Of course they always sold these new structures to the general public as evidence of "democracy" because members were selected through elections, however they always took great pains to obscure their control over the electoral process. 

Originally they allowed only property owners to vote in these elections, but over time to appease the ever yearning popular desire for more democracy, they gradually permitted more and more people to vote as they consolidated their ownership of economic property, control of money (Federal Reserve in the US, central banks elsewhere), political parties, and especially the ideological institutions--education, media, and entertainment. Since then they have used, and are using, ideological institutions to advance deceptive ideas, views, and news of the world to obscure the facts of ever increasing inequality: wealth and power for a few and poverty and powerlessness for the vast majority.

These new states competed with each other for dominance over resources and markets which inevitably resulted in wars, and the wars grew increasingly larger until what we witnessed in the first half of the 20th century was worldwide devastating wars with around 100 million lives lost.

Out of the WWII devastation rose the US capitalist ruling class whose economy was intact along with a powerful military establishment. This ruling class saw the world ripe for a takeover by them. In order to accomplish this, they first combined forces with British capitalists in order to inherit what was left of the British Empire. Then they launched a series of efforts to contain the influence of the Soviet Union and any ideas of public ownership of economies among their own populations (see McCarthy period and Gladio operations). They also wanted to organize the very fragmented states of Europe into one big economic enterprise and a bulwark against the Soviet Union. This they succeeded in doing with the European Union and NATO. And, as they say, the rest is history--the history since WWII and the rise of the US-led Empire.

This integration of the world's economies under the Empire's domination necessarily led to efforts to break down all state barriers to the free flow of capitalist enterprise throughout much of the world. This effort became known as neoliberalism. Thus, one cannot separate this rise of Empire domination without considering subsequent neoliberal policies and actions. In this neoliberal stage of capitalism we see international industrial corporations and banks diminishing the power of national governments, whether fake democratic or autocratic, and increasing the power of international capitalists under the leadership of the US Empire's ruling class which is increasingly transnational. Thus, neoliberal capitalists are erecting supra-national institutions to override the authority of nation-state institutions. As George Monbiot wrote referring to neoliberalism:
The state, it asserts, should do little but defend the realm, protect private property and remove barriers to business. In practice it looks nothing like this. What neoliberal theorists call shrinking the state looks more like shrinking democracy: reducing the means by which citizens can restrain the power of the elite. What they call “the market” looks more like the interests of corporations and the ultra-rich. Neoliberalism appears to be little more than a justification for plutocracy. 
The world's economy, especially the part that is under the domination of the US Empire, serves the interests of profit and power of the transnational capitalists associated with the Empire. Whether in the process of these pursuits they wreck havoc on workers or their environments is of little concern to this transnational class.

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