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Forum Post: Imperial US and the context of Occupy.

Posted 2 years ago on Feb. 9, 2012, 2:33 a.m. EST by lithosere (65)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

This movement would do well to understand the country they are dealing with.

The US became the world-power when WWII destroyed just about all the rest of the industrial infrastructure on the planet, and US industries had all the consumers of industrial products on the planet as a market. The US also heavily subsidized domestic industrial corn farming to feed war-stricken Europe. In addition, the war had crippled the remaining European empires, leaving a power-vacuum.

When other powers got back on their feet, the US needed a new arena of dominance and a new outlet for their corn surplus. They turned to financial investment in the third world. Through the '60s they offered loans at practically no interest rate for "development" projects, often in the same nations that the Europeans had just pulled out of. In the '70s US banks hiked up interest and started racking up debt receipts. The US then used multilateral institutions like the IMF and World Bank to demand the indebted countries change their domestic policy in order to "ensure" remuneration.

These forced changes, known as SAPs (structural adjustment policies), included demolishing barriers to imports, privatizing government social programs, banning unions, and allowing international businesses to freely open operations there.

The result was markets flooded by cheap subsidized foodgrains from the US that out-competed local farmers and forced them to move to cities looking for work. Conveniently, US-based firms could then open up factories there to absorb the impoverished masses, who would work for pittance considering they had no other option.

The exploding urban centers had little domestic infrastructure to produce for their populations, which had until now subsisted off of somewhat self-sufficient local economies in rural areas. To provide for the new urban populaces, these countries became heavily dependent on importing consumer goods from US firms. Sometimes these were the same goods they manufactured in their own countries, after the price had been hiked up hundreds fold by the factory owners and businesses.

This outsourcing also allowed industry to re-locate out of the US and crush US unions. While this lowered the price of consumer goods (now produced at a fraction of the cost due to cheap labor and no regulation), many were now unemployed in the US. This led to a US consumer economy dependent on credit card debt, but flooded with cheap commodities.

In turn, the few high-level capitalists in the third world became obscenely wealthy, and most people continue to live in squalor. Because there is almost no taxation but governments continue to hold debt, what little revenue the states have is transferred to the multilateral institutions, which are run almost exclusively by the US and EU. Today, the "developing" world spends $13 on debt repayment for every $1 it receives in grants. For the poorest countries (approximately 60), $550 billion has been paid in both principal and interest over the last three decades, on $540bn of loans, and yet there is still a $523 billion dollar debt burden.

In addition, out-competition by foreign agriculture still stalks poor rural farmers. Displaced Latin American refugees still flood into the US to support their families after losing their land, and recently the worldwide ratio of urban/rural population passed the 50/50 for the first time in history. Meanwhile, farmland in the third world is converted to industrial agriculture that destroys the soil, and floods watersheds with pesticides. The crops grown on these farms are usually export-oriented crops. This means that most famine-stricken countries are actually net food exporters, sending luxury goods like coffee and bananas to high-return markets in Europe and the US. For a particularly absurd example, see Kenya, which boasts an enormous agricultural sector engaged in the cultivation of decorative flowers for Europe.

Dependence on this global scale economy that is inextricably tied to fossil fuels and the production of ever-greater quantities of consumer goods is also driving forward ecological catastrophe that could put as much as 50% of the complex life forms on the planet at risk of extinction within the century.

--

I hope a few of you got through this rant. I just thought it was necessary to share. This is what four years at UC Berkeley has burdened me with. This is why we must fight.

9 Comments

9 Comments


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[-] 1 points by Listof40 (233) 2 years ago

This is good information, and is a real concern...

I was aware of the debt arrangements to u.s. interests in many 3rd world countries, which has had damaging effects on those countries... but this outlines the further serious problems in these areas...

Something we should try to bring focus on to change, not sure how we should address this tho...

What suggestions are there...is there legislation that can be passed to stop these types of financial abuses?

[-] 1 points by toukarin (488) 2 years ago

Old news for me. Unfortunately there is not much the citizenry can even do about it. World Bank and IMF are not comprised of or answer to elected officials. They do not have to care about the people in which ever country they enter.

[-] 1 points by lithosere (65) 2 years ago

The US is barely comprised of elected officials and corporations are not at all, but we try to address them whether they will respond to these demands or not. We need to do the same in response to US imperialism. We spend for too much time focusing on how we can redistribute wealth within this country, but the wealth here is all coming from the sweat of other peoples' brows. We can demand a scaling back of the march for globalization and "free" trade and try to re-localize industry, both through demanding legislation and creating alternative economies here (alternative local currencies?). The possibilities are endless, and open to debate, but before we can come up with them we have to start talking about them, and about the way that Wall St oppresses us least of all people on Earth, and demanding it change is a global project.

[-] 1 points by lithosere (65) 2 years ago

Does this seem irrelevant to people or something? I'm fishing for a reaction. This is information that is deeply pertinent to the movement and nobody seems to get it. Please tell me something. Why don't we address this?

[-] 0 points by Mooks (1985) 2 years ago

I think that overall, since the 60s, our quality of life has improved dramatically. Rich and poor alike.

Also, it is not just super wealthy making money in developing markets. Anyone can invest in those markets now with things like online brokerages and ETFs. I have some Vietnamese stock that is up 12% just in the last month, and I am not a 'high-level capitalist.'

[-] 1 points by lithosere (65) 2 years ago

David Harvey on Neoliberalism

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkWWMOzNNrQ

[-] 1 points by lithosere (65) 2 years ago
[-] 1 points by lithosere (65) 2 years ago

Workers of the factories on the US-Mexico border describe their lives

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yK2KzIGb44I

[Removed]

[-] -1 points by tomahawk99 (-26) 2 years ago

i'd ask for your money back (from UC)