John Maynard Keynes states in his book The Economic Consequences of the Peace:
Before 1870 different parts of the small continent of Europe had specialised in their own products; but, taken as a whole, it was substantially self-subsistent. And its population was adjusted to this state of affairs.
After 1870 there was developed on a large scale an unprecedented situation, and the economic condition of Europe became during the next fifty years unstable and peculiar. The pressure of population on food, which had already been balanced by the accessibility of supplies from America, became for the first time in recorded history definitely reversed. As numbers increased, food was actually easier to secure. Larger proportional returns from an increasing scale of production became true of agriculture as well as industry. With the growth of the European population there were more emigrants on the one hand to till the soil of the new countries and, on the other, more workmen were available in Europe to prepare the industrial products and capital goods which were to maintain the emigrant populations in their new homes, and to build the railways and ships which were to make accessible to Europe food and raw products from distant sources. Up to about 1900 a unit of labour applied to industry yielded year by year a purchasing power over an increasing quantity of food. It is possible that about the year 1900 this process began to be reversed, and a diminishing yield of nature to man's effort was beginning to reassert itself. But the tendency of cereals to rise in real cost was balanced by other improvements; and -- one of many novelties -- the resources of tropical Africa then for the first time came into large employ, and a great traffic in oilseeds began to bring to the table of Europe in a new and cheaper form one of the essential foodstuffs of mankind. In this economic Eldorado, in this economic Utopia, as the earlier economists would have deemed it, most of us were brought up.
That happy age lost sight of a view of the world which filled with deep-seated melancholy the founders of our political economy. Before the eighteenth century mankind entertained no false hopes. To lay the illusions which grew popular at that age's latter end, Malthus disclosed a devil. For half a century all serious economical writings held that devil in clear prospect. For the next half century he was chained up and out of sight. Now perhaps we have loosed him again.
What an extraordinary episode in the economic progress of man that age was which came to an end in August 1914! The greater part of the population, it is true, worked hard and lived at a low standard of comfort, yet were, to all appearances, reasonably contented with this lot. But escape was possible, for any man of capacity or character at all exceeding the average, into the middle and upper classes, for whom life offered, at a low cost and with the least trouble, conveniences, comforts, and amenities beyond the compass of the richest and most powerful monarchs of other ages. The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, in such quantity as he might see fit, and reasonably expect their early delivery upon his doorstep; he could at the same moment and by the same means adventure his wealth in the natural resources and new enterprises of any quarter of the world, and share, without exertion or even trouble, in their prospective fruits and advantages; or he could decide to couple the security of his fortunes with the good faith of the townspeople of any substantial municipality in any continent that fancy or information might recommend. He could secure forthwith, if he wished it, cheap and comfortable means of transit to any country or climate without passport or other formality, could despatch his servant to the neighbouring office of a bank for such supply of the precious metals as might seem convenient, and could then proceed abroad to foreign quarters, without knowledge of their religion, language, or customs, bearing coined wealth upon his person, and would consider himself greatly aggrieved and much surprised at the least interference. But, most important of all, he regarded this state of affairs as normal, certain, and permanent, except in the direction of further improvement, and any deviation from it as aberrant, scandalous, and avoidable. The projects and politics of militarism and imperialism, of racial and cultural rivalries, of monopolies, restrictions, and exclusion, which were to play the serpent to this paradise, were little more than the amusements of his daily newspaper, and appeared to exercise almost no influence at all on the ordinary course of social and economic life, the internationalisation of which was nearly complete in practice.
The Economic Consequences of the Peace
by John Maynard Keynes
Chapter 2: Europe Before the War
Our history runs from the sublime to the painfully ridiculous.
We are generally speaking an impoverished people. This is true for the great majority of our people across the face of the earth. But we have not always been so. There was a time when we were the pacesetters for all humanity.
Simply, we were conquered over time and thus robbed of our status in the world, along with virtually everything else. That is what happened.
This robbery process continues to this day, the current form, and the very last form of our suffering, is the criminal system called neo-colonialism. Neocolonialism is a phase of imperialism, that is monopoly capitalism in its external form, the last phase in fact. This is easily identified by its theoretical components and is now visible to the whole world in the massive crises affecting the entire population of the globe. The economic and financial crises of monopoly capital is the aspect that receives the attention of the monopoly capitalist mass media apparatus; but the real face of the system is really the many wars against African people and constant flood of capital crimes committed against us by this system.
These two aspects of monopoly capitalism (imperialism) are so overtly malevolent that it is impossible to disguise them. More and more of the African people are pointing to these actions and calling them what they are: crimes against humanity. Even those who pretend not to notice, in fact notice the assaults on our lives and dignity that happen every second of every day.
Thus, we live in a propitious time, when with one bold and scientific effort we can end the suffering of our people and most of the rest of the world, we can rid ourselves of this criminal system through the development of the necessary political and related acumen. All we need is to organize our collective thinking. Make it more focused and systematic. Concentrate on getting out from under the bad circumstances we have been dragged into over hundreds and hundreds of years.
When we are able to thus focus our minds, we will develop the political, security and economic strategies and systems necessary to reclaim our rightful place in history.
The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black-skins, signalised the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production. These idyllic proceedings are the chief moments of primitive accumulation. On their heels treads the commercial war of the European nations, with the globe for a theatre.
p. 703, Karl Marx. Capital. Volume One Part I: Commodities and Money. Chapter Thirty One: Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist,
Today Africa is without a doubt the most oppressed continent on the face of the earth. This is a process that has its primeval roots in the conquest of the Nile Valley civilization by a series of eastern invaders, the Assyrians, Hyksos, and Persians.
But the ancient European forces from the Greco-Roman world were without a doubt the worst and the invaders that render the most damage to the Nile Valley way of life.
It was these forces, particularly the Macedonian-Greek forces, under Alexander and subsequently the Romans — during both the periods of the Rome-centered Roman Empire and the Constantinople-centered Roman Empire, that essentially ended the vitality of the Nile Valley cultures. There were distinctions between the two however. The Macedonian-Greek empire policy was based on Alexander's policy of infiltration by intermarriage and general co-optation of the indigenous cultures, so the changes they wrought were mainly in the destruction of the regional centers of powers in ancient Egypt and the institution of ruthless central power under the control of the descendants of Alexander's General Ptolemy.
However the Ptolemaic occupation was not as extreme as the much more harsh rule of the Romans, where all the indigenous practices were brutally curtailed and suppressed in an effort to stamp the society indelibly with the Roman seal. Rome completely broke the back of what was left of the governing structures of Dynastic Egypt, although not the memory of the society. (As for example even today there are remnants of old traditions to be found in Egypt from the tendency to cooperate for the common benefit of the community to the survival of a form of dynastic language in the Coptic Church.) But for the most part, old Egypt was gone and its glory was never to be seen again. With the conquest of Carthage by Rome in the course of the three Punic Wars, from 264, 218, and 149 B.C., the demise of Dynastic Egypt marked the end of Africa's long domination of the Mediterranean and the Near East. Although not the end of African mega states and empires, as many existed in the west, east, central and southern areas, also.
But from the fall of dynastic Egypt to our time, because of the overwhelming psychological and cultural role Egypt plays in the mind of humanity generally, giving our enemies an enormous psychological boost, our history has been one of continuous battles against external invaders, overwhelmingly, but not exclusively, European. These ancient conquests shaped the relative material conditions as well as the prerequisite mind set for the eventual western European conquest of all of Africa. Spurred on by the barbaric Catholic Church Crusades, the European mercantile imperialist colonial era's slave trade and the Islamic intrusion, Africa was virtually swamped by invaders. This process continued into the modern era of European imperialist division and re-division of Africa in the late 19th century, which found its symbol in the Berlin Conference, 1884-5, in which the European powers were joined by the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire and the US.
Lenin correctly put the process of dividing Africa among the white powers in its proper perspective, listing it as one of the four aspects of monopoly capitalism
We have seen that in its economic essence imperialism is monopoly capitalism. This in itself determines its place in history, for monopoly that grows out of the soil of free competition, and precisely out of free competition, is the transition from the capitalist system to a higher socio-economic order. We must take special note of the four principal types of monopoly, or principal manifestations of monopoly capitalism, which are characteristic of the epoch we are examining.
Firstly, monopoly arose out of the concentration of production at a very high stage. This refers to the monopolist capitalist associations, cartels, syndicatess, and trusts. We have seen the important part these play in present-day economic life. At the beginning of the twentieth century, monopolies had acquired complete supremacy in the advanced countries, and although the first steps towards the formation of the cartels were taken by countries enjoying the protection of high tariffs (Germany, America), Great Britain, with her system of free trade, revealed the same basic phenomenon, only a little later, namely, the birth of monopoly out of the concentration of production.
Secondly, monopolies have stimulated the seizure of the most important sources of raw materials, especially for the basic and most highly cartelised industries in capitalist society: the coal and iron industries. The monopoly of the most important sources of raw materials has enormously increased the power of big capital, and has sharpened the antagonism between cartelised and non-cartelised industry.
Thirdly, monopoly has sprung from the banks. The banks have developed from modest middleman enterprises into the monopolists of finance capital. Some three to five of the biggest banks in each of the foremost capitalist countries have achieved the personal link-up between industrial and bank capital, and have concentrated in their hands the control of thousands upon thousands of millions which form the greater part of the capital and income of entire countries. A financial oligarchy, which throws a close network of dependence relationships over all the economic and political institutions of present-day bourgeois society without exceptionsuch is the most striking manifestation of this monopoly.
Fourthly, monopoly has grown out of colonial policy. To the numerous old motives of colonial policy, finance capital has added the struggle for the sources of raw materials, for the export of capital, for spheres of influence, i.e., for spheres for profitable deals, concessions, monopoly profits and so on, economic territory in general. When the colonies of the European powers,for instance, comprised only one-tenth of the territory of Africa(as was the case in 1876), colonial policy was able to developby methods other than those of monopolyby the free grabbing of territories, so to speak. But when nine-tenths of Africa had been seized (by 1900), when the whole world had been divided up,there was inevitably ushered in the era of monopoly possession of colonies and, consequently, of particularly intense struggle for the division and the redivision of the world.
The extent to which monopolist capital has intensified all the contradictions of capitalism is generally known. It is sufficient to mention the high cost of living and the tyranny of the cartels. This intensification of contradictions constitutes the most powerful driving force of the transitional period of history, which began from the time of the final victory of world finance capital.
Monopolies, oligarchy, the striving for domination and not for freedom, the exploitation of an increasing number of small or weak nations by a handful of the richest or most powerful nationsall these have given birth to those distinctive characteristics of imperialism which compel us to define it as parasitic or decaying capitalism. More and more prominently there emerges, as one of the tendencies of imperialism, the creation of the rentier state, the usurer state, in which the bourgeoisie to an ever-increasing degree lives on the proceeds of capital exports and by clipping coupons. It would be a mistake to believe that this tendency to decay precludes the rapid growth of capitalism. It does not. In the epoch of imperialism, certain branches of industry, certain strata of the bourgeoisie and certain countries betray, to a greater or lesser degree, now one and now another of these tendencies. On the whole, capitalism is growing far more rapidly than before; but this growth is not only becoming more and more uneven in general, its unevenness also manifests itself, in particular, in the decay of the countries which are richest in capital (Britain).
Lenin, pp 123-4, Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism
This colonial aspect of monopoly capital was defeated by our people in a series of momentous struggles that embraced the whole African world, either indirectly or directly, that is the anti-colonial struggle, in which Pan-Africanism played an important part. The zenith of the anti-colonial struggle was the independence of Ghana, which dedicated itself to building Pan-Africanism. Since those heady days we have been in a constant life and death struggle with the last stage of monopoly capitalism imperialism, neo-colonialism.
But these sordid tales of criminal conferences, death and destruction, woes and wars, are by no means the totality of Africa's great history.
We were the first peoples of the world. We gave the world all the attributes of culture, social, technological, economic, scientific, artistic you name any aspect of human advancement and you will find that Africa played an important role in its development.
Our history is one of great achievements of humanity. We were the first primates to walk upright and the first to master the use of fire millions of years ago. We have been the cutting edge of much of human achievement. We were the first to create the skill of writing, medicine, philosophy, tool making, religion, the arts, graphic art, music, dance and sculpting. Africa was the leader in humanity's development of astronomy, mathematics including trigonometry, algebra, calculus, geometry and arithmetic operations. Africa led in the fields of engineering, architecture, hydraulics, hydrology, mineralogy, general science, law, agriculture, aquaculture, particularly fish farming, which has been documented in not only the ancient Nile Valley but in various parts of Africa. Africans also excelled in animal husbandry, military science and much of what the world takes for granted today. And let us not forget Africa's pioneering role in accounting in the development of economics, and commerce generally. The African dynasty built dams as early as 2300 BC. Long before any other civilization. It built the first stone buildings indeed the ancient Giza pyramid was the world's tallest building until the 19th century with the erection of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It is said that the Sphinx is over 1200 years old.
Africa is the home of the first known calculating device, the a 22,000 year-old Ishango Bone found in the Congo. It is the home of the Dogon an ancient center of advanced astronomic knowledge, the home of great agricultural and the innovative agro-forestry technique and methods developed by the Chagga and Sonjo peoples.
Africa was in the forefront of human activities such as semiotics. It is the source of the Eye of Horus symbol, the ankh, the infinity symbol, and the deity Thoth's symbol, is used as the Medical science's symbol of science medicine.
The Nile Valley's preeminence in grain production and the immense veins of gold in the upper Nile, made that civilization the premiere society for thousands of years, and a pioneering society in the development of banking.
The history of Africa is in reality a most critical part of human history. Take a look at the following excerpt from the research of E. W. Robinson, J.D. on ancient Egypt:
World-renown historians of Egypt's early history trace the background of the three astronomer priestesses who gave to the world higher mathematics. English historian, Gerald Massey, Ancient Egypt, The Light of the World, tells us that they were of a long line of distinguished African women who would lead the travel of civilization from its southern origins until it arrived in the north in a land now known as Egypt. This upper Nile was where the goddess Ater-Tshema-T is credited with having created calculus over 4700 years ago.
G. Michanowsky tells us that about 4000 B. C. there was a giant supernova in the southern constellation Vela. This and other celestial phenomena inspired these southeastern African people to move to a part of Africa which afforded an unobstructed view of the heavens they found in the barren ground of what-is-now Egypt. They constructed telescopes and observatories to record precise movements of heavenly bodies.
They drew the land as a right triangle of thirty-six, fifty-four and ninety degrees. Livio C. Stecchini says that this allowed these astronomer-priestesses to calculate all of the trigonometric functions of angles between zero and thirty-six degrees. The astronomer-priestess Sheshet is credited with the creation of trigonometry.
According to Livio Stecchini, priestess Sheshet analyzed curves by dividing the area under a curve into a series of rectangles which is the basis of integral calculus. In analyzing the curvature of the earth she used rectangles six feet wide.
Geometry, created by the astronomer-priestesses Tekhi, evolved with the object of controlling the flow of the Nile River, so that maximum enrichment of the land would result. According to E. A. Wallis Budge, Keeper of the Antiquities of the British Museum, in his book, The Gods of Egypt, and Moses Cotsworth say that these priestesses were the most learned of Egypt.
They say that they could measure the length of the year to 365.24219 of days. They were credited with placing the granite slab into the great pyramid, which, according to the French mathematician, Abbe Thomas Moreau, in his book The Mysterious Science of the Pharaohs, is the basis for the metric system. This is due to the fact that the length of this granite slab is exactly one meter in length which is one ten-millionth of the distance from the North Pole to the Equator.
Astronomer Priestesses by Edward W. Robinson, Jr., J. D. http://www.panafricanperspective.com/astronomer.html
Indeed although none of the African societies could be said to be heavens on earth, they were on the whole vastly superior to those found in Europe. Because the African societies, even the highly theocracy Nile Valley civilizations, had the traits of inside-outside dialectic that Nkrumah talked about as distinguishing Africa's religions from the European adulterated versions of religion (Consciencism). That is, the African religion spoke to the need to achieve a significant degree of material happiness on earth as opposed to hoping that one will be rewarded in the by and by in the heaven in the sky once one is dead. Also, the spiritual basis of the society obligated those in government, the religious leaders and their commercial allies to see to the basic needs of the people. This was a central part of both their spiritual and social-political reality, both revolving around the values of the social-spiritual-philosophy of the predominant cultures of African societies.
Examples of this societal concern for its members can be found in the accounts of Herodotus who wrote about the fabled Table of the Sun in Ethiopia, the mother of Egypt. Here is how he described it in The Histories.
18. Now the table of the Sun according to the accounts given of it may be thus described. It is a meadow in the skirts of their city full of the boiled flesh of all manner of beasts, which the magistrates are careful to store with meat every night, and where whoever likes may come and eat during the day. The people of the land say that the earth itself brings forth the food. Such is the description which is given of this table.
Herodotus, The Histories, Book 3, Chapter 18.
In ancient dynastic Egypt, the worship of Amun Ra included a concern for the well being of the living as well as the dead. Hence, there was a predisposition on the part of the people of the society to help one another. If your neighbor was building a home, you volunteered to help. If they had no grain, you would share your grain or strike a reasonable barter deal which might include an exchange of labor for grain or a future promise to return the gesture or perform a similar act. The fact that the economy was essentially barter, made it very flexible in times of plenty and times of scarcity.
Here is how one source described ancient Egyptian society:
Ancient Egypt is considered by some to have been the most heavily taxed nation and to have collapsed under the weight of the levies imposed on the populace.. But, with a few minor interruptions, its society existed peacefully and basically unchanged for more than two millennia. Even in its days of decadence Herodotus thought it provided better living conditions-if health is anything to go by-than most others he had seen,
... they think that all the diseases which exist are produced in men by the food on which they live: for the Egyptians are from other causes also the most healthy of all men next after the Libyans.
The state relied on revenues in the forms of labour and taxes paid in kind. Grain was the most important produce hoarded by the authorities, as it could be stored with relative ease and was vital in years of bad harvests.
The beneficiaries of the system
A major part of the levies imposed on the people was used to stabilise society. A bureaucratic administration, at first native and in the Late Period increasingly foreign, enforced order throughout the country during most of its history. Three millennia of mainly quiet development point to the success of this policy: Grain was stored which could be distributed in times of famine. Corvée workers were fed from these stores during the months of inundation when work in the fields was impossible. Artisans constructing public buildings found employment, paid by the royal treasury. Even the offerings at the temples were at least partially used to feed the poor.
Of course, different classes of people benefitted to different degrees, but care was taken not to leave too many people with nothing to lose, a lesson the Spartans and the Romans for instance never learned. While famines affected the poor much more than the rich, in normal times there was not that much difference as regards health, survival of ones children or even longevity.
Peasant villagers, on the whole the poorest segment of the population, hardly ever travelled far and their knowledge of what lay beyond their own community was limited. They came into contact with low ranking scribes and overseers, who were not much better off than they themselves. But by thrift and hard work they could hope to gain additional property and rise on the social ladder.
The upper class
In a society where precious metals were not considered a special means of exchange and were mostly in the hands of the pharaohs and the temples, wealth was synonymous with possession of land.
Theoretically all the land belonged to the pharaoh who could dispose of it at will. Large tracts were given to the military, above all during times of unrest when the kings needed their support and were unable to recompense them in any other way. Officials were also beneficiaries of such royal munificence. But most of the land came to be owned outright by the temples and the peasantry.
Think about the plight of the homeless in the US and other parts of the capitalist world. Is it not obvious that the people of Egypt and Africa generally, had a much better life than many in modern America and Europe? (We will come back to the subject of the conditions in the modern capitalist state a little later in this chapter.)
Here is an example of extension of "credit" when the purchaser had nothing to exchange for the goods he desired, unfortunately in this instance the debtor had not actually paid the creditor at the time of the inscription:
Granting credit to one another was probably quite widespread. Perhaps one of the parties did not have what the other wanted at the time of the exchange. Maybe the amount of one single transaction was too small and a number of outstanding payments were settled together, or one party put off delivering his wares until it was more convenient — and too late as it seems to have been in the case of the scribe Amennakht who died without having paid for a coffin:
'The scribe Amennakht, your husband, took a coffin from me and said: I shall give you the ox as payment.
'But he has not given it to this day. I told Pa'akhet. He said: Let me have moreover a bed and I shall bring you the ox when it is grown.
I gave him the bed. Neither the coffin nor the bed (were paid for) to this day. If you (want to) give the ox, let somebody bring it. (But) if there is no ox, let somebody bring (back) the bed and the coffin.'
Ostrakon from the reign of Ramses III
Translation of a passage from S.Allam Hieratische Ostraka und Papyri aus der Ramessidenzeit, Tübingen 1973
Compare these attitudes found in Africa with what was the practice that the Roman empire adopted to their own nefarious ends. They instituted the policy now known as bread and circuses, that is the sadistic, homicidal, horrid gladiatorial events, chariot racing, mock naval combat as entertainment combined with a scheduled distribution of grain (which was taken from Egypt after the Roman conquest of the Ptolemaic, that is Macedonian Greek, dominated Egyptian polity, Ptolemaic derived from the successors of Alexander of Macedonia's appointed leader of the conquered Egyptian area, one of his Generals, Ptolemy.) The bread and circuses were instituted to keep the citizens of Rome, who were on the whole poor from rebelling. This was very important to Rome because the elite were a tiny minority as a hefty percentage of the people in Rome were held in slavery, they needed the free poor to remain docile else the society would have been destroyed. An example of the problems resistance caused Rome, was the gladiatorial — gladiators being a specific kind of slave constantly training to kill with various weapons — rebellions, there were three major such rebellions. The most famous of these rebellions is of course the one led by Spartacus. It was the revolt led by Spartacus that catapulted Crassus and Pompeii into leadership in Rome. These two would soon be joined by Julius Caesar and this trio competed for the domination of Rome until Crassus was killed trying to conquer Parthia (modern day Iran) and Pompeii, after being defeated by Caesar in Rome's biggest ever civil war, nominally sparked by Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon, was assassinated by the Ptolemaic authorities ruling Egypt to win favor with Caesar.
Rome also had a custom that allowed people to expose babies that they did not want to be bothered with. All you had to do is take the baby down to the nearest trash dump and throw it on the heap. Can we really say this is civilized behavior?
Egypt was a premiere center of banking and creator of money
In Egypt too the centralization of harvests in state warehouses also led to the development of a system of banking. Written orders for the withdrawal of separate lots of grain by owners whose crops had been deposited there for safety and convenience, or which had been compulsorily deposited to the credit of the king, soon became used as a more general method of payment of debts to other persons including tax gatherers, priests and traders. Even after the introduction of coinage these Egyptian grain banks served to reduce the need for precious metals which tended to be reserved for foreign purchases, particularly in connection with military activities.
The use of gold as proto-money has been traced back to the fourth millennium B.C. when the Egyptians used gold bars of a set weight as a medium of exchange...
The next stage in the evolution of money involved a further transition from money as an object with inherent usefulness and value to money as a pure symbol of value. Representative money is symbolic money that is based on useful commodities. This category includes the warehouse receipts issued by the ancient Egyptian grain banks...
Thus, the bills early form of credit came both a medium of exchange and a medium for storage of value. Like the loans made by the Egyptian grain banks...
Some of the wheat harvested and belonging to private owners was stored in state warehouses. So was much of the grain collected as taxes. Written withdrawal orders by owners of lots of grain were used as a kind of currency. These grain banks continued to serve growers and traders even after the introduction of coined money in the latter half of the first millennium BCE.
Apart from giving and receiving personal credits people could deposit grain in state warehouses and write withdrawal orders which served as payment . Increasingly these banks began to deal with money instead of perishable grain. Orders of payment debiting and crediting accounts at the royal bank."
P.Mich.:1:9, 257 BCE
APIS record: michigan.apis.1864
"The development of a banking system"
Banking and finance are old hat for Africans, and yet there is no historical evidence of Africa having the kinds of consistent crises that are hallmarks of capitalism. Indeed there is no evidence of even a single instance of such cataclysmic problems experienced by monopoly capitalists.
Indigenous Egypt did very little minting of coins in the sense of a coin with an image imprinted on it until much later as a form of exchange with foreign states and private interests, from the very beginning it minted weighted metal rings that carried value and was used by the elite as medium of exchange. These weighted metal rings (some sources speak of stone version preceding the metal ring) were called debens.
So, in a very real since every one acknowledges that they were minting species, or at the minimum a coin - like form of value and exchange. These rings were in actual fact and in every sense of the word, money. Thus many authorities take a middle road and refer to them as proto-money or some other totally inappropriate cop out. As in this wikipedia article:
Old and Middle Kingdom
Stone weights from the Old Kingdom have been found, weighing about 13.6 grammes. Similar weights from the Middle Kingdom were discovered at Lisht. From the Middle Kingdom date also deben weight units used for metals, referred to as copper deben and gold deben, the former being about twice as heavy (c. 23.7 grammes) as the latter.
From the New Kingdom on the deben was equal to about 91 grammes. It was divided into ten kidet (alt. kit, kite or qedet), or into what is referred to by Egyptologists as 'pieces', one twelfth of a deben weighing 7.6 grammes. It was frequently used to denote value of goods, by comparing their worth to a weight of metal, generally silver or copper.
It has been speculated that pieces of metal weighing a deben were kept in boxes, taken to markets and were used as a means of exchange. Archaeologists have been unable to find any such standardized pieces of precious metal.
On the other hand it is documented that debens served to compare values. In the 19th dynasty a slave girl, priced four deben and one kite of silver, was paid for with various goods worth as much: 6 bronze vessels, 10 deben of copper, 15 linen garments, a shroud, a blanket and a pot of honey.
I believe the tendency on the part of some scholars to discount deben as money, if you will, is, how shall we put it?, oh yeah, it is a conscious attempt to alter history. However, we will not dwell on such duplicity. For our purposes the thing to remember is that this was not the primary medium of exchange in Egypt's heavily barter driven economy:
Egypt's invention of writing not only allowed Africa to develop the first books, love stories and poems, biographies, religious and political documents and facilitated the development of the grain bank system, it also was key in the development of the field of accounting. It is widely believed that the Egyptians technique of recording and tracking of transactions, are the basis of modern day accounting.
Accounting and Forms of Accountability in Ancient Civilizations: Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt December 5, 2005 by Salvador Carmona and Mahmoud Ezzamel was a paper which demonstrated Egypt's role in accounting.
It concentrated on " the relevance and implications of ancient accounting practices to the contemporary theorizing of accounting. The paper provides a synthesis of the literature on ancient accounting particularly in relation to issues of human accountability, identifies its major achievements and outlines some of the key challenges facing researchers. We argue that far from being an idiosyncratic research field of marginal interest, research in ancient accounting is a rich and promising undertaking that holds the promise of significantly enhancing our understanding of the roles of accounting in organizations and society. The paper concludes by considering a number of implications of ancient accounting practices for the theorizing of accounting and identifies a number of possible avenues for future research. "
Europe on the other hand developed much slower than Africa and the Middle East. There was some activity after the maturation of the Greek societies and Rome, both of which probably built on the banking traditions derived from the Nile Valley and the Carthaginian experience in the area.
European banking got a big boost from the wars of the Crusades (Knights Templar banks). European medieval fairs and Italian city state such as Genoa and the aquatic city Venice. And of course everyone has heard of the Medici banking family.
With the advent of the powerful capitalist formations, which began to emerge in the wake of the Stuart dynasty's temporary defeat at the hands of the English parliamentary forces led by the Puritan Oliver Cromwell, capitalism took a leap forward, and with the first Scottish bank appearing in 1695 what we know as the modern bank was well on its way.
By the late 17th century, the largest centers for commerce were the ports of Amsterdam, London, and Hamburg. Remember, this is the era of mercantile colonialism and the infamous slave trade. This commercial boon was the stimulus for a leap in banking in Europe, much of which, nearly all, was the direct result of conquest and slaving activities by the British and Dutch in particular.
Given their subsequent major role in European banking we will look at the British in depth:
The highly successful ancient grain bank also served as a model for the emergence of the goldsmith bankers in 17th Century England. These were the early days of the mercantile revolution before the rise of the British Empire when merchant ships began plying the coastal seas laden with silks and spices from the orient and shrewd traders amassed huge hoards of gold in the bargain. Since no banks existed in England at the time, these entrepreneurs entrusted their wealth with the leading goldsmith of London, who already possessed stores of gold and private vaults within which to store it safely, and paid a fee for that service. In exchange for each deposit of precious metal, the goldsmiths issued paper receipts certifying the quantity and purity of the metal they held on deposit. Like the grain receipts, tallies and bills of exchange, the goldsmith receipts soon began to circulate as a safe and convenient form of money backed by gold and silver in the goldsmiths' vaults.
Knowing that goldsmiths were laden with gold, it was only natural that other traders in need of capital might approach them for loans, which the goldsmiths made to trustworthy parties out of their gold hoards in exchange for interest. Like the grain bankers, goldsmith began issuing loans by creating additional paper gold receipts that were generally accepted in trade and were indistinguishable from the receipts issued to parties that deposited gold. Both represented a promise to redeem the receipt in exchange for a certain amount of metal. Since no one other than the goldsmith knew how much gold he held in store and how much was the value of his receipts held by the public, he was able to issue receipts for greater value than the gold he held. Gold deposits were relatively stable, often remaining with the goldsmith for years on end, so there was little risk of default so long as public trust in the goldsmith's integrity and financial soundness was maintained. Thus, the goldsmiths of London became the forerunners of British banking and prominent creators of new money. They created money based on public trust.
The public trust was unfortunately abused by these early bankers just as it is today. The European form of banking was well on its way to the kind of system we see today. That is a system which could not resist milking the gullible mass of the public which are obliged by force to trust them. The European banker classes evolved into its position of power by its connections with the state and individual powerful families, both of which used violence as a commonly practiced method of achieving change. Thus the bankers became a class of cheats, hustlers, thieves, liars, shysters and robbers who cheerfully ripped off all within their reach.
It is clear that African civilization was not only a leader in the development of most aspects and dimensions of human culture, although it may not have always been the absolute number one in every given human activity, but it was inevitably in the top two or three, but it is generally speaking morally superior to the leadership that developed in Europe. This is true in governance, religion and philosophy and in the field of banking. There is no record of the misuse and abuse of the power of banks in ancient Africa comparable to the history of the Knights Templar, the Medicis and their rivals in the Italian city states, or modern European banking.
This early form of institutionalized banditry, as we have seen, has evolved into a sophisticated global system. Here is what the late two-time Congressional Medal of Honor winner US Marine Major General Smedley Butler had to say about the role of banks in the early 20th century:
I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.
There isn't a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its "finger men" to point out enemies, its "muscle men" to destroy enemies, its "brain men" to plan war preparations, and a "Big Boss" Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.
It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.
I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.
I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.
During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents."
And the big money of capital continues the exploitation of peoples by force, direct and indirect, by proxy forces or their own forces, what ever it takes to get the job done. Whatever the racket requires to use Butler's term.
Let us take for example the dismal situation in present day South Africa, were Africans are used against Africans in a callous plan to maintain the economic and general control of that critical area in the hands of European imperialism and its allies. This is achieved in many ways but perhaps the fundamental method is the concept of two economies, the real economy being in the hands of the remaining settlers on behalf of the imperialist world and the second smaller, inconsequential economy in the hands of the indigenous peoples of Azania/South Africa. This is nothing more than neo-colonialism. If one is honest, if one is principled, they must accept this fact. Indeed, the painful truth is that neo-colonies predominate in Africa. Which is precisely what Nkrumah predicted would happen if the continent did not create a Union Government, that would lead Africa in the phase that followed the achievement of political independence from colonialism.
Our fate is not one that we experienced alone. Although there were differences of degree, we shared this unfortunate history with the native people of the Americas, and to a significant extent, Asians also. Under the yoke of today's European-controlled neo-colonial domination we are still among the most thoroughly oppressed people on the face of the planet. Right along side the Palestinians, the Indigenous peoples of the western hemisphere and the Pacific islands.
Our failure to build Pan-Africanism has very palpable consequences. Among the most serious neocolonial blows to our struggle were the assault on the Congo, the overthrow of Nkrumah and the subversion of the Organization of African Unity (OAU).
The identical pattern continues to this historical period. For example, the former New Patriotic Party (NPP) government in Ghana happily went about the business of constructing the largest CIA complex on the continent. The Congo is still being attacked by the African lackeys of European imperialism. The African Union (AU) has some of the same shortcomings and propensities as the former OAU. There are concerted attempts to sabotage and seize several African states, such as Somalia, Zimbabwe and Sudan. There are countries that are overt satellites of the US, such as Djibouti which is host to US military forces, Ethiopia which is a central conduit and factor of the US military in Africa, Liberia which openly declares its willingness to host the hated and very dangerous AFRICOM. The AU's relationship with openly subversive US agencies including the so-called US diplomatic legation to the AU, the British proxy control of South Africa for the US, the general control of African economies and economic actions by the US and European Union (EU), the continent's general fear of, obsequence and servile posturing toward US dominated agencies such as the World Bank and IMF, Africa's shabby treatment at the hands of the rulers of the UN, the insulting treatment of Africa in the context of ad hoc-like forums such as the G20, just to name a few, of the sorry state of our current status in world affairs.
This will only end when the continent unites under a single government. Such a government will give us the military, diplomatic, social, commercial, economic, financial, fiscal and monetary muscle we need to take our rightful place in today's world.
However much of our history is pock marked with bitter memories such as the Fashoda crisis, the Boer War, the Berlin Conference; we also have our share of heroic resistance against great odds and even our share of great military victories. The victory against the Italians at Adowa under Emperor Menelik II in 1896. The victories in the 19th century battles of Samory Ture in the war against French colonialism (from 1882 to his capture in 1898), the 1879 defeat of the British Army and their indigenous traitor forces by the Zulu impis in the Battle of Isandlwana commanded by King Cetshwayo. The glorious struggle of the First Chimerurenga, 1896-1897, which has since that time served as a patriotic beacon for the people of Zimbabwe, and for many Africans in general. Then there are the heroic struggles of Africans in the diaspora, the Quilombo dos Palmares of what is now modern day Brazil, and especially their famous leader Zumbi, the Male (the name used for Moslems in Bahia), the Haitian revolution, the resisters such as the "Maroons" in Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean, Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey, Gabriel Prosser and the Africans who united with the indigenous people of the US called Seminoles, were all typical of the many heroic struggles of the our people in America against mercantile capitalism and chattel slavery. In fact, one of the African leaders of the Seminoles won a great victory over the US colonialist forces.
Now after considering all of this, and realizing that it is just the merest tip of the iceberg of our struggle, is there any wonder that Nkrumah tells us that we must understand history if we are to reclaim our full humanity and proper status in the world. As he wrote in Consciencism, understanding our history is fundamental to understanding how we got to the situation we find ourselves in today and consequently how we get out of this situation.
'Coercion' could unfortunately be rather painful, but it is signally effective in ensuring that individual behaviour does not become dangerously irresponsible. The individual is not an anarchic unit. He lives in orderly surroundings, and the achieving of these orderly surroundings calls for methods both explicit and subtle.
One of these subtle methods is to be found in the account of history. The history of Africa, as presented by European scholars, has been encumbered with malicious myths. It was even denied that we were a historical people. It was said that whereas other continents had shaped history, and determined its course, Africa had stood still, held down by inertia; that Africa was only propelled into history by the European contact. African history was therefore presented as an extension of European history. Hegel's authority was lent to this a-historical hypothesis concerning Africa, which he himself unhappily helped to promote. And apologists of colonialism lost little time in seizing upon it and writing wildly thereon. In presenting the history of Africa as the history of the collapse of our traditional societies in the presence of the European advent, colonialism and imperialism employed their account of African history and anthropology as an instrument of their oppressive ideology.
Earlier on, such disparaging accounts had been given of African society and culture as to appear to justify slavery, and slavery, posed against these accounts, seemed a positive deliverance of our ancestors. When the slave trade and slavery became illegal, the experts on Africa yielded to the new wind of change, and now began to present African culture and society as being so rudimentary and primitive that colonialism was a duty of Christianity and civilization. Even if we were no longer, on the evidence of the shape of our skulls, regarded as the missing link, unblessed with the arts of good government, material and spiritual progress, we were still regarded as representing the infancy of mankind. Our highly sophisticated culture was said to be simple and paralyzed by inertia, and we had to be encumbered with tutelage. And this tutelage, it was thought, could only be implemented if we were first subjugated politically.
The history of a nation is, unfortunately, too easily written as the history of its dominant class. But if the history of a nation, or a people, cannot be found in the history of a class, how much less can the history of a continent be found in what is not even a part of it — Europe. Africa cannot be validly treated merely as the space in which Europe swelled up. If African history is interpreted in terms of the interests of European merchandise and capital, missionaries and administrators, it is no wonder that African nationalism is in the forms it takes regarded as a perversion and neocolonialism as a virtue.
In the new African renaissance, we place great emphasis on the presentation of history. Our history needs to be written as the history of our society, not as the story of European adventures. African society must be treated as enjoying its own integrity; its history must be a mirror of that society, and the European contact must find its place in this history only as an African experience, even if as a crucial one. That is to say, the European contact needs to be assessed and judged from the point of view of the principles animating African society, and from the point of view of the harmony and progress of this society.
When history is presented in this way, it can become not an account of how those African students referred to in the introduction became more Europeanized than others; it can become a map of the growing tragedy and the final triumph of our society. In this way, African history can come to guide and direct African action. African history can thus become a pointer at the ideology which should guide and direct African reconstruction.
This connection between an ideological standpoint and the writing of history is a perennial one...
Kwame Nkrumah, p. 62-3, Consciencism: Philosophy and Ideology for De-Colonisation
We have looked at a little of the history behind the creation of the African political, social and economic dynamics. Let us turn our attention to the characteristics of modern day monopoly capitalism.
We all know, or at least have heard, about the mortgage and general credit
problems. We may have even heard about the rampant stagflation in the western
economies (that is inflation — flood of money with less spending power, the
rise in prices plus recession — the reduction in production, consumption and
thus, employment or better way to say it rampant unemployment while value of
any savings withers down to nothing and prices shoot up). Most of us know that
there is a serious currency problem and sky-rocketing debt and budgetary problems.
We have read and to varying degrees suffered from the astronomical prices and
periodic, and not so periodic in some places, unavailability, of food and fuel.
However, have we really thought about the human implications of these things? How much thought do we give to the plight of the millions of homeless? To the multitude of malnourished, and in many cases starving, impoverished children and adults? Or even the rapidly growing proliferation of tent cities around the country? Things that are certainly not limited to the US, but as they are symptoms of the systemic disease of all capitalist imperialist systems, show up everywhere the diabolical system holds sway. From Haiti to most of the continent of Africa, whole sweeps of Asia, such as Bangladesh, there are people dying every day for lack of water, food, health care, housing and other things that should be a guaranteed right of every human being, but which are not because of the demonic market system that holds sway in the world.
Here is a news story about a couple of the many everyday people victimized by monopoly capitalism in the US:
He didn't answer the phone. Harold Barnett -- known to a family he was close to and neighbors he often helped as "Uncle Band-Aid" -- always answered his phone.
But on Thursday, he didn't. A friend and co-worker soon found out why, bursting through Barnett's front door to find him, his son Terrell, 13, and a close friend, Raymond Carr, lying unresponsive on the floor of the North Minneapolis home.
Police determined that Barnett -- who was not on the home's lease and was being evicted -- had a gas-powered generator in the basement of the house at 1627 Girard Ave. N., providing electricity to the powerless home. Odorless, colorless carbon monoxide had crept upstairs and overwhelmed everyone inside.
Only young Terrell was still alive, though he later died at Hennepin County Medical Center.
Family and friends were stunned that Barnett had encountered the financial difficulties that led him to use the generator in the first place.
'He was pretty much the bread-bringer of the family," said older brother Larry Barnett. 'If anybody was ever hungry and they were around his house, he'd let them eat. ... You'd never know he was struggling. Like now, we didn't know he was struggling.'
From diapers to lunchmeat, 'If there was ever anything we needed, he would get it,' said his mother, Loretta Barnett. 'I never thought nothing like that would happen, not to him.'
As for young Terrell, 'he was the 'good one' out of the kids. He made the A honor roll,' said cousin Shavonne Hinton, who grew up playing with Terrell, an eighth-grader at Nellie Stone Johnson Community School.
Barnett, 44, moved from St. Louis to Minneapolis when he was 13, along with his mother, grandmother, four brothers and a sister. He was known as a cornerstone of financial stability, working jobs to keep the family afloat.
'He kept this family together,' said sister Brenda Barnett, who, like her brother, moved from public housing and into North Minneapolis. 'And he got our family grown.'
Barnett had 14 children, five girls and nine boys, ages 4 to 27. Only Terrell and another son, Tevin, 13, lived with him. Tevin was at his mother's the night his father and brother died.
After attending North High, Barnett worked in construction before nine years ago trying his hand at his own contracting business. The business, Right Hand Construction, offered a wide range of home improvements.
But a downturn in business about a year ago and a recently revoked driver's license led to a tight budget, said longtime girlfriend Stacy Glover. Glover said the housing crisis hurt Barnett badly.
Landlord Gregory Wilson provided documentation Friday showing he was trying to get the family out of the home. A first-warning notice came Jan. 25, followed by a July 1 eviction notice telling the occupants they had to be out by Aug. 31. A second eviction notice arrived Sept. 22.
The month-to-month lease, which began in October 2007, was in the name of Gabrielle Brown, who appeared not to live there. In February, Wilson said, Barnett -- who said his first name was Terrell -- approached him and said he'd be making Gabrielle's payments -- though since the lease began Wilson has received only $1,600 in total of the $850-a-month agreement.
'That kid died. This sh-- is eatin' me ... up. I tried to get them out before it got cold, to stay somewhere else. They would've been out of there. I feel it's my fault..'
Wilson said he didn't know when Xcel Energy shut off the power but noted that he'd seen the generator outside about four or five months ago.
'I hear it, I thought it was power tools. Three weeks later, I hear it again. I asked, 'What are you doing with a generator?' Wilson said he didn't see the generator again.
'They were low-key. They kept up the property nicely. ... I just tried to help. If you're down and out ... He was always saying, 'The rent's coming, you got some money coming.' Finally he said he was going to leave and take his son with him.'
Barnett's family said they found many of his belongings packed in moving boxes Friday.
The neighborhood remained tense, with some of the family's anger directed at Wilson, who lives three doors down.
'(Wilson) said he told (Barnett) to take (the generator) out. I asked him, 'Why didn't you make him?' Brenda Barnett said.
But some neighbors support Wilson.
'These people (the Barnetts and Carr, a close friend who was living at the home) was trying to find other ways of living. (Wilson) tried to help somebody,' said neighbor Antwon Hill.
Neighbor Diane Fryer, whose kids used to play with Terrell, painted a bigger picture.
'With today's economic situation, we're in a financial crunch. People are doing whatever needs to be done to make ends meet.'
Financial hardship led Minneapolis father, son to carbon monoxide deaths
(Pioneer Press - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) - -- Sat. October 04, 2008; Posted: 03:56 AM
This and related horror stories, infants and elderly Africans freezing to death or dying from heat prostration, homeless Africans being shot dead with rifles and even cross bows, beaten to death by gangs of white youth, set on fire and various similar atrocities, is the reality of life for the mass of captured Africans. It is not a pretty picture. And it certainly does not correspond to the image the imperial system wishes to portray in their powerful mass media, which either depicts Africans as Bill Cosby-like imitation Europeans; a community of hyped up thugs and immoral sexual addicts on crack; or passive vessels timidly awaiting guidance and directions from the real human beings. As the fascist economist William Friedman said at a lecture he gave at the university I attended — you people are lucky we came to Africa and brought you to America, if not you would still be swinging in trees.
Clearly, there is no possibility that the abysmal treatment of the captured population can be changed via non-violent action, no matter how much one may prefer it to be otherwise.
Just as in the Congo and Haiti, where our people are subjected to starvation, massacres, UN forces and so-called international aid agencies raping and forcing young children into prostitution and so many other terrible atrocities, the African people in the US, are subjected to the same imperialist. This US fascist violence does not get much, if any coverage, in the capitalist media, and thus is not properly understood by the world at large. As Kwame Nkrumah said when speaking of the system of neo-colonialism, it in and of itself is a "new kind of violence..."
History has shown Nkrumah to be absolutely correct. Witness the many invasions and wars, coups and assassination in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Central and South America, since the book came out in 1968. For example, the coup in Chile against the Allende government and President Allende's brutal murder. Or take for example the beastly work of the "Contras", those US agents who created chaos and murderous mayhem against the people in Sandinista led Nicaragua. Let us not forget the continued plots against Cuba and her leadership, the similar attempts aimed, and threats leveled at Presidents Chavez and Morales and the people and states of Venezuela and Bolivia. Not to mention the 1994 coup against the Aristide government in Haiti and the continued oppression of the African people of that captured state, such as the brutal December 22, 2006 massacre Site soley carried out at the empire's bidding.
Likewise, we should not forget the war against the people of Indochina, which ended in the utter defeat of monopoly capitalism, the provocations aimed at the Democratic Peoples Repunlic of Korea (DPRK), the arming of Taiwan against the Peoples Republic of China (PRC)- which continues to this day with the former Bush administration's sale of six billion dollars worth of arms to the outlaw state in the hopes of intimidating China.
The arming and general financing of the outlaw Israel settler colony, similar support for their NATO ally, Portugal in its efforts to hold on to its colonies in Africa — including the NATO-led effort to invade and overthrow the Democratic Party of Guinea (PDG) government in Guinea Conakry.
Add to these actions other crimes, such as the assassinations of Frelimo's Eduardo Mondlane, PAIGC's Amilcar Cabral and other leaders. The zionist aggressions against President Nasser's Egypt leading to the 1973 war, a war which included the massacre of 1000 unarmed Egyptian POWs in direct contravention of the Geneva Convention protocols for treatment of POWs. This act also prompted the attack on the USS Liberty, an electronic surveillance ship, by the Zionist forces, which killed 34 and wounded over 170 US Navy personnel. Naturally the zionists claim of that they mistook the Liberty for a hostile ship, but Navy survivors have disputed this, as they assert that Israeli spotter planes buzzed the ship several times at close range and could not have possibly failed to see the US flag and insignia. The general belief is that the attack was launched because the Zionist feared that the ship had picked up evidence of its murders of the unarmed Egyptian POWs. Nevertheless, the majority of the leadership, sided against their own Navy people and completely exonerated their puppet state Israel of the crimes.
The 1973 war, the 1974 coup in Chile, the escalation in Indochina and everything else that has happened since the 1968 publishing of Nkrumah's Handbook, such as the west's intervention in the Shaba region in 1977, to protect their puppet Mobutu, the Soweto Massacre of 1976, the double dealing and treachery of the US and UK in their attempts to maintain the control of the settler Rhodesian Front (RF) in then occupied Zimbabwe, which lasted right up to the final transfer of power after ZANU-PF's overwhelming election victory, in the face of armed attacks on the people, attempts to prevent ZANU supporters from voting, spying on ZANU on behalf of the Ian Smith led RF and their puppet allies led by Bishop Muzorewa. (We should keep this in mind, as it is the roots of the problems in Zimbabwe to this very day.) And we should never forget the brutal sadistic 1977 murder of Black Consciousness Leader Steve Biko, no matter how many phony Truth and Reconciliation Commissions the enemy convenes and no matter how many liberal negro forces endorse these travesties. All these, and more, were done to either, seize, or consolidate imperialism's pre-existing hold on the wealth and talent of the peoples of the world. And we still face the same problems today.
Look at the wars being waged in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East. Look at the continued destabilization of Africa, in the Great Lakes area, the Congo, in particular where millions of our people have died. The west's complicity in the 1994 Rwanda genocide against the Tutsi and some Hutus, the twin assassination of the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi, Juvenal Habyarimana of Rwanda and Burundi's Cyprian Ntayamira that occurred earlier in 1994, the Rwandan and Ugandan civil wars and their interventions into the Congo against the Congolese government of President Laurent Kabila which was in turn countered by an alliance of Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia which came to the aid of the Congolese government. The US attack on Libya, the Israeli zionists' attack on Tunisia, AFRICOM, the use of Djibouti as a base against Africa and more the attempts to subvert Venezuela and Bolivia, and assassinate its elected leaders, the repression of the indigenous people in Mexico as a means of destroying their Zapatista movement, the coup against the Jean-Bertrand Aristide government in 1994, the US bombing of a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan, the campaign to overthrow the Zimbabwe ZANU-PF government and so on all in all, it is abundantly clear that imperialism is on an all out campaign to take over the world.
That should not be too much of a surprise as they have been openly touting the fascist theories of Bzezinski the concept of the world being a chess game that can be conquered by seizure of the area between Afghanistan and Pakistan down to the juncture of Africa and Asia, and the similar, identical theory pushed by the fascists neo-cons of the Republican camp Project for a New American Century who advocated that the seizing of these areas would lead to world domination for the US. And the similar policy of the Democratic party, as articulated by individuals such a Zbigniew Brzezinski, the Clintons and Brzezinski's apprentice Obama.
One must not forget things like AGOA, the so-called African Growth and Opportunities Act, which is essentially a tool to:
This same general strategy and approach is evident in all the empire's interaction with African and similarly impacted peoples and regions, and can be seen in the various Free Trade agreements, which in addition to exploiting the targeted region or country, generally speaking, hurts US workers and small entrepreneurs too. Here we refer to the whole range of such pacts, including, but not limited to, the Andean agreement, North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Caribbean Basin initiative, the proposed HOPE act to be imposed on the people of Haiti, the maquiladora system in Mexico, the oil concessions the US and its allies have put into place through its puppets there and well, you get the picture.
Likewise the European Union (EU) position on Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) is designed to further enslave the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) regions. The empire, along with its European fellow travelers do the same thing in relationship to the Group of 7/8 (G7/G8), World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations Organization (UNO). For example, the failure of the western powers to live up to their Millennium Development Goals financial commitment or their constant sabotage of the WTO Doha round talks. Generally, the collective position of the empire and its vassal capitalist states in every conceivable fora of this type is designed to do one thing, that is, further impoverish and enslave the rest of the world so that the rulers of the empire can grow fatter. This is something that the African Union (AU) has to come to grips with in their efforts to partner with the empire and its vassal states, as it has dire implications for the AU's hope for their G7, EU-AU, UNO and NEPAD hopes, plans, and efforts.
Just peruse these two articles from last year and you will get a very good feel for what is really going down.
As Sudan's Head of State Bashir was quoted:
"The EPA negotiations have proved that no meaningful economic partnership could be achieved in the absence of real reform in current international monetary trading systems," he said, calling for "collective bargaining" by the ACP group.
Many developing world leaders and anti-poverty campaigners say the EPAs have weakened the ACP group's capacity to win better trade terms from the EU that would help protect their often vulnerable, commodity-exporting economies.
"Sudan says world's poor face 'blackmail' by rich"
Fri 3 Oct 2008, 5:12 GMT
By David Lewis
(He also condemned the monopoly capitalist military aggression disguised as
anti-terrorism in that same article: "The simmering signs of Cold War looming
on the horizon may jeopardise the whole international stability," he said.
Bashir did not mention the United States or Russia, but criticised the U.S.-led
war on terror underpinning Washington's policies in Iraq and Afganistan.
"The declared war on terrorism, in the absence of a concrete definition of the phenomenon, blurs the dividing line between the legitimate rights of self-defence, resistance against occupation on the one hand, and criminal acts and conduct on the other," he said.)
We see more of the same sort of monopoly capitalist chicanery in regards to the WTO Doha round:
"The World Trade Organisation's (WTO) long-running Doha round is in trouble after failing to reach a breakthrough last July but cannot be written off completely, diplomats and business lobbyists said this week. The issue that proved a stumbling block in July — a proposal to help farmers in poor countries cope with a flood of imports — continues to block progress", they said.
"We've got some problems. It's not looking good. It's not dead but I'm not optimistic," said one trade diplomat. Differences between the United States and developing country food exporters on the one hand and India and other big developing country importers on the other torpedoed talks among trade ministers two months ago.
WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said he hoped talks on agriculture and industrial goods would result in a deal on the outlines of cuts in tariffs and subsidies in the two core areas by the end of the year. And he reminded a WTO public forum that the lessons of the Great Depression that followed the 1929 Wall Street Crash was that protectionism made things worse for economies.
"The current hurricane that has hit the financial markets must not distract the international community from pursuing greater economic integration and openness," Lamy said.
"Doha talks still in trouble"
Sep 25, 2008 8:59 AM or
But even as neo-colonialism fights to tighten its grip on the rest of the world, the world is fighting back. There are elements in Africa and in the African Diaspora, a few even among the anemic and nearly paralytic African Union (AU), who sincerely want to achieve the Union Government that Nkrumah advocated. Although, the majority of the AU has drugged itself into a stupor so that they can deny the errors of their dreamy approach to dealing with the empire, such a backward position in and of itself is in fact itself still further substantiation that modern history proves the prescience of Nkrumah's logic, as he consistently warned of the dire consequences of Africa failing to confront and decisively defeat imperialism could only lead to the expansion of neocolonialism on the continent. Just this past month there was a meeting between the current Chair of the AU, Libya's Muammar Gaddafi and African Union Commission (AUC) Chair Mr. Jean Ping and a major point of their discussion was "The Status of preparations for the establishment of the Financial Institutions provided for in the Constitutive Act, namely the African Investment Bank, the African Central Bank and the African Monetary Fund; " [from the Communique on the Second Working Visit of the Chairperson of the African Union, H.E. Brother Leader Muammar El Gaddafi, Leader of the Libyan Revolution, to the African Union Commission (AUC), Addis Ababa, 28-29 March 2009]
The construction of a socialist Union Government for Africa, specifically would be the death knell of the imperialist system and the final nail in their coffin.
And it is not just among Africans that there is a recognition of the fundamental reality of international economics, politics and statecraft. The people of Asia have worked out a modus operandi that allows for the peaceful development of most of their states. In the Americas, led by Cuba, Bolivia and Venezuela, the hemisphere is finding alternative solutions to those non-solutions that the US and its allies wish to impose upon them. This is good news indeed, and it is precisely what we must pursue, Pan-Africanism for Africans, and similar metasystems for the indigenous peoples of the rest of the world.
Today's Headlines Bears Out the rest of the Nkrumah's Positions.
We can confidently assert that capitalist imperialism is in a state of growing disarray. No one can deny that the global economy is in disarray. The housing bubble, the general credit crunch, the epidemic of stagflation, the food and fuel crises, balance of trade and general debt crisis in the US, the all around fiscal collapse of the US and many of its allies, all of these have combined to signify a general crisis in the capitalist socio-economic world. Nor can anyone deny that these vicious criminals will stoop to any low, base, inhuman, amoral act to try to save their criminal system.
Although it is really groups and entities such as the American Association of Exporters and Importers (AAEI), Unilever, American Bankers Association (ABA), BHP Billiton Ltd, Rio Tinto, Royal Dutch Shell, BP (formerly British Petroleum), Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Boeing, Business Roundtable, Lockheed , Cargill, Computer Coalition for Responsible Exports (CCRE), American Electronics Association (AEA), Electronic Industries Association (EIA), ExxonMobile, Fluor Corporation, General Dynamics, General Electric, General Motors Goldman Sachs, Halliburton, BankAmerica, Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), International Business Machines IBM, J P Morgan, Microsoft, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), Northrup Grumman, RCA, Disney, Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI), Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), Telecommunication Industry Association (TIA), Texaco, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who actually run the monopoly capitalist system, the public manifestation of the system's power is most obvious to the general population via the political representatives of these powers. And even a cursory look at recent headlines indicates an obvious disarray and continuing decay in the imperialist camp.
The French and Germans attack the US for botching the real estate and credit crises; the British hesitate, and then join in attacking the US; the Irish Republic guarantees full coverage of accounts in their banks, causing outflows from British banks into Irish banks, leading to a stinging attack on Ireland by the UK, and subsequently, their EU allies, already angered at Ireland for their rejection of the EU position in a plebiscite held a while back. The Irish ignore them and continue with what they were doing. Britain attempts to counter the move with an offer to double the insurance on accounts in their banks. The French call for a united effort -- that is a united front of "rich Europe" to ride out the global crisis and convenes a meeting of the Italians, the Germans, the British, European Central Bank and the European Union, leaving out the other EU members. the Finnish government attacks France's transparent stacking of the meeting of who speaks for Europe. Germany and the British shoot down France's proposal for a Pan-European bail out fund, rejecting the French call for solidarite Germany tries its hand at moving closer to the Russians.
Meanwhile the Russian leadership declares the era of US leadership over; the Chinese critique the US response as uninformed, and label its lending procedures "ridiculous" all this while they continue to fret about the trillions of dollars they have loaned the US through US Treasury purchases handled by the Federal Reserve. (Well Mao did tell them that they were on the wrong road didn't he?)
In the USA itself, the succession of bailouts, at a time when the country is in a state of stagflation (that is growing unemployment, falling production and general recession, plus inflation — the proliferation of less valuable money and the increase in prices), reeling from the housing and credit crashes, engaged in two un-winnable wars and threatening more military misadventures, in the middle of a potentially explosive and divisive election, facing a citizenry who largely believe that they have lost their Constitutional protections and civil liberties, and in many cases Constitutional form of government, beset by a bushel of social problems such as steadily decaying race relations, related to the economy and politics, rampant criminality, collapse in even the barest minimal standards of morals and civility, a loss of confidence in the direction of the society having set in, and an epidemic of angst having taken hold, the American confidence which at one time was the hallmark of the society has completely evaporated. All this has only been severely aggravated with the mega-bail out of the Financial Services industry and the elevating of the Department of Treasury (and in the background the Federal Reserve) to an un-Constitutional status in which they have completely usurped the powers and responsibilities of the Congress and the Judiciary. IT IS A MESS INDEED, and obviously affords greater leeway for the opponents of imperialism to do some things that are in their favor for a change.
But first, we need a little theory that will help us fully understand the nature of these apparently sudden radical changes, I say sudden because they are not really sudden, they are the logical devolution of the system in place in the world.
So, that is what we are going to do in this section of the dialog, consider the origins of the problem. That is, consider the origins of the system currently in the dominant place in the world, even as it is tottering on the brink.
Neocolonialism in Africa, is today trying to overturn the gains of the post W.W.II African Liberation Movement. So, we must know the origins and evolution of this vile system thoroughly so that we can defeat it once and for all. To properly understand Kwame Nkrumah's excellent dissertation on modern neocolonialism, and his prescription for defeating it, it is helpful to have some understanding of the scholarship of Marx and Lenin as applicable to the early development of imperialism. So armed, we will be properly prepared for Nkrumah's excellent analysis of imperialism's last stage, neocolonialism. The contribution of Marx and Lenin to our understanding is the perfect supplement to the wisdom of Dr. Nkrumah.
A little preliminary background is useful. Imperialism is the external face of monopoly capital. Monopoly capitalism is the creature born of the merger of financial capital and industrial capital plus massive and widespread concentration of production, and fierce, violent competition for control of land and peoples, for markets that can be exploited for the benefit of the imperialists. Obviously there are several key concepts we need to examine in greater detail here, especially the development of industrial capital and financial capital. Since the birth of these processes have already occurred and are only reproduced and expanded, it is harder for us to see their genesis, whereas, concentration is perpetual and occurs every second of every day somewhere in some form all over the world. Thus, it is not as difficult a concept for people to grasp.
Marx in Capital (Vol. 1) pointed out that the enslavement of Africa and the near-total extermination of the red people of the Americas was the main input of the development of industrial capitalism. Marx also began to document the growth of finance and its effect on the capitalist system. That is, the weakening of the old paradigm, associated with people like Adam Smith, of unfettered non-corporate laissez faire, free trade capitalism. This meant that fewer and fewer people were in control of everything, in effect a perverse form of socialization. The socialization of production, but not the socialization of the benefits of the production — thus it was Marx's hypothesis that the capitalist in each nation would be overthrown by their proletariat, because the actions of the capitalist themselves would create the conditions in which the proletariat would have no other options but to seize control of the socialized state for the interest of the working people (that is the proletariat, the peasants and the small sector of the intelligentsia who could, so to speak, read the handwriting on the wall).
However, the capitalists, when they saw the same thing that Marx, Engels and their associates pointed out about the contradiction between socialize production but privatized benefits, decided to avoid the calamity by exporting the problem out of their specific national societies and on to the backs of other peoples. Thus the seeds for model imperialism were sown to avoid the catastrophe that capitalism had created for itself.
Lenin recognized this process, and in turn, several decades after the death of his lodestar and guiding light, Marx, pointed out in his book, Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism, that there had been this major transformation of capitalism. As a result of the merger of financial and industrial elements of capital, the concentration of production under this new form of capitalism, the accelerated and expanded seizure of African and other peoples' lands (including lands that were being exploited by fellow imperialism by military means, thus Lenin's prediction of the inevitably of a World War) by these imperialist capitalist states, had ended forever the reign of "free trade" capitalism of the kind that created the phenomena of capitalist imperialism. They had thereby avoided the end foresaw by Marx.
Although in point of fact, they had only postponed it, as Lenin predicted. This was demonstrated on the ground as well as in theory when the combined imperialist armies of Europe failed to defeat the infant USSR in what is known in academic circles as the Red and White War, the Red being the communists and the Whites being those seeking to reestablish something akin to the Kerensky proto-capitalist regime in Russia. Kerensky had in a very real sense succeeded Tsar (Czar or Caesar) Nicholas II with the blessing of the western powers based on his and his party, the Cadets, promise to continue Russian participation in the first imperialist world war, W W I.
Lenin, and the Communist Party, were committed to no participation in imperialist wars, a position held by the communist wing of socialism since the time of Marx and Engels. The Red Army and the Russian people withstood and over came the American, British, French, reactionary Russians and others which composed the White army thus consolidating the Leninist state for that moment in time at least.
In the face of this failure of the imperialist strategy, there was a need for a new approach. Essentially, greater oppression of the non-European states, but this created more and more tension within these oppressed and exploited societies, until by the middle of the 20th century the anti-colonial movement had swept Asia, Latin America and Africa. Thus, the need for neo-colonialism, because the Europeans could no longer hold the people down directly, they knew they had to work through local puppets — thus preserving and in fact extending their power without having to directly dirty their own hands. Allow Mobutu and Tshombe, Batista and Papa Doc, Chiang Kai-Shek and Diem to do it this was the essential aspect of the post-W W II imperialist strategy to avoid revolution in their home countries, and it was this strategy that Nkrumah dissected so well in his many writings and his practice. He demonstrated that the logical progression of the illogical criminal enterprise of imperialism was its neo-colonialist form. And he thereby gave us the key to our real freedom, get rid of neocolonialism, by the means of united revolutionary action and specifically action in the political and military spheres.
Going into greater detail on the subject matter. We start with that venerable historian and social scientist, Karl Marx's examination of the concepts needed to understand industrial capitals creation first. He is without a doubt the author of the best exposition on the development of the phenomena. Karl Marx covers this process thoroughly in his book Capital, Volume 1. This segment explains the historic beginnings of capitalism and the genesis of the industrial capitalist; I quote:
The wealth of those societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails, presents itself as "an immense accumulation of commodities," its unit being a single commodity. Our investigation must therefore begin with the analysis of a commodity.
A commodity is, in the first place, an object outside us, a thing that by its properties satisfies human wants of some sort or another. The nature of such wants, whether, for instance, they spring from the stomach or from fancy, makes no difference. Neither are we here concerned to know how the object satisfies these wants, whether directly as means of subsistence, or indirectly as means of production.
Every useful thing, as iron, paper, &c., may be looked at from the two points of view of quality and quantity. It is an assemblage of many properties, and may therefore be of use in various ways. To discover the various uses of things is the work of history. So also is the establishment of socially-recognized standards of measure for the quantities of these useful objects. The diversity of these measures has its origin partly in the diverse nature of the objects to be measured, partly in convention.
p. 43, Karl Marx. Capital. Volume One Part I: Commodities and Money. Chapter One: Commodities
And to continue and further elaborate, I will beg your indulgence for I am going to subject you to a very long quote on the subject; one that is however, extremely pertinent to our study and examination of the matter at hand, pay close attention to the sections on slavery, and particularly its links to formation of not only industry, but the conditions necessary for the rise of powerful banks. Don't let the archaic and his word construction throw you.
The money capital formed by means of usury and commerce was prevented from turning into industrial capital, in the country by the feudal constitution, in the towns by the guild organisation. These fetters vanished with the dissolution of feudal society, with the expropriation and partial eviction of the country population. The new manufactures were established at sea-ports, or at inland points beyond the control of the old municipalities and their guilds. Hence in England an embittered struggle of the corporate towns against these new industrial nurseries.
The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black-skins, signalised the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production. These idyllic proceedings are the chief momenta of primitive accumulation. On their heels treads the commercial war of the European nations, with the globe for a theatre. It begins with the revolt of the Netherlands from Spain, assumes giant dimensions in England's Anti-Jacobin War, and is still going on in the opium wars against China, &c.
The different momenta of primitive accumulation distribute themselves now, more or less in chronological order, particularly over Spain, Portugal, Holland, France, and England. In England at the end of the 17th century, they arrive at a systematical combination, embracing the colonies, the national debt, the modern mode of taxation, and the protectionist system. These methods depend in part on brute force, e.g., the colonial system. But, they all employ the power of the State, the concentrated and organised force of society, to hasten, hot-house fashion, the process of transformation of the feudal mode of production into the capitalist mode, and to shorten the transition. Force is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one. It is itself an economic power.
Of the Christian colonial system, W. Howitt, a man who makes a speciality of Christianity, says:
'The barbarities and desperate outrages of the so-called Christian race, throughout every region of the world, and upon every people they have been able to subdue, are not to be paralleled by those of any other race, however fierce, however untaught, and however reckless of mercy and of shame, in any age of the earth.'
'The history of the colonial administration of Holland — and Holland was the head capitalistic nation of the 17th century — is one of the most extraordinary relations of treachery, bribery, massacre, and meanness.'
Nothing is more characteristic than their system of stealing men, to get slaves for Java. The men stealers were trained for this purpose. The thief, the interpreter, and the seller, were the chief agents in this trade, native princes the chief sellers. The young people stolen, were thrown into the secret dungeons of Celebes, until they were ready for sending to the slave-ships. An official report says:
'This one town of Macassar, e.g., is full of secret prisons, one more horrible than the other, crammed with unfortunates, victims of greed and tyranny fettered in chains, forcibly torn from their families.'
To secure Malacca, the Dutch corrupted the Portuguese governor. He let them into the town in 1641. They hurried at once to his house and assassinated him, to "abstain" from the payment of £21,875, the price of his treason. Wherever they set foot, devastation and depopulation followed. Banjuwangi, a province of Java, in 1750 numbered over 80,000 inhabitants, in 1811 only 18,000. Sweet commerce!
The English East India Company, as is well known, obtained, besides the political rule in India, the exclusive monopoly of the tea-trade, as well as of the Chinese trade in general, and of the transport of goods to and from Europe. But the coasting trade of India and between the islands, as well as the internal trade of India, were the monopoly of the higher employees of the company. The monopolies of salt, opium, betel and other commodities, were inexhaustible mines of wealth. The employees themselves fixed the price and plundered at will the unhappy Hindus. The Governor-General took part in this private traffic. His favourites received contracts under conditions whereby they, cleverer than the alchemists, made gold out of nothing. Great fortunes sprang up like mushrooms in a day; primitive accumulation went on without the advance of a shilling. The trial of Warren Hastings swarms with such cases. Here is an instance. A contract for opium was given to a certain Sullivan at the moment of his departure on an official mission to a part of India far removed from the opium district. Sullivan sold his contract to one Binn for £40,000; Binn sold it the same day for £60,000, and the ultimate purchaser who carried out the contract declared that after all he realised an enormous gain. According to one of the lists laid before Parliament, the Company and its employees from 1757-1766 got £6,000,000 from the Indians as gifts. Between 1769 and 1770, the English manufactured a famine by buying up all the rice and refusing to sell it again, except at fabulous prices.
The treatment of the aborigines was, naturally, most frightful in plantation-colonies destined for export trade only, such as the West Indies, and in rich and well-populated countries, such as Mexico and India, that were given over to plunder. But even in the colonies properly so called, the Christian character of primitive accumulation did not belie itself. Those sober virtuosi of Protestantism, the Puritans of New England, in 1703, by decrees of their assembly set a premium of £40 on every Indian scalp and every captured red-skin: in 1720 a premium of £100 on every scalp; in 1744, after Massachusetts-Bay had proclaimed a certain tribe as rebels, the following prices: for a male scalp of 12 years and upwards £100 (new currency), for a male prisoner £105, for women and children prisoners £50, for scalps of women and children £50. Some decades later, the colonial system took its revenge on the descendants of the pious pilgrim fathers, who had grown seditious in the meantime. At English instigation and for English pay they were tomahawked by red-skins. The British Parliament proclaimed bloodhounds and scalping as "means that God and Nature had given into its hand."
The colonial system ripened, like a hot-house, trade and navigation. The "societies Monopolia" of Luther were powerful levers for concentration of capital. The colonies secured a market for the budding manufactures, and, through the monopoly of the market, an increased accumulation. The treasures captured outside Europe by undisguised looting, enslavement, and murder, floated back to the mother-country and were there turned into capital. Holland, which first fully developed the colonial system, in 1648 stood already in the acme of its commercial greatness. It was "'in almost exclusive possession of the East Indian trade and the commerce between the south-east and north-west of Europe. Its fisheries, marine, manufactures, surpassed those of any other country. The total capital of the Republic was probably more important than that of all the rest of Europe put together.' Gülich forgets to add that by 1648, the people of Holland were more over-worked, poorer and more brutally oppressed than those of all the rest of Europe put together.
Today industrial supremacy implies commercial supremacy. In the period of manufacture properly so called, it is, on the other hand, the commercial supremacy that gives industrial predominance. Hence the preponderant role that the colonial system plays at that time. It was 'the strange God' who perched himself on the altar cheek by jowl with the old Gods of Europe, and one fine day with a shove and a kick chucked them all of a heap. It proclaimed surplus-value making as the sole end and aim of humanity.
The system of public credit, i.e., of national debts, whose origin we discover in Genoa and Venice as early as the middle ages, took possession of Europe generally during the manufacturing period. The colonial system with its maritime trade and commercial wars served as a forcing-house for it. Thus it first took root in Holland. National debts, i.e., the alienation of the state-whether despotic, constitutional or republican-marked with its stamp the capitalistic era. The only part of the so-called national wealth that actually enters into the collective possessions of modern peoples is their national debt. Hence, as a necessary consequence, the modern doctrine that a nation becomes the richer the more deeply it is in debt. Public credit becomes the credo of capital. And with the rise of national debt-making, want of faith in the national debt takes the place of the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which may not be forgiven.
The public debt becomes one of the most powerful levers of primitive accumulation. As with the stroke of an enchanter's wand, it endows barren money with the power of breeding and thus turns it into capital, without the necessity of its exposing itself to the troubles and risks inseparable from its employment in industry or even in usury. The state-creditors actually give nothing away, for the sum lent is transformed into public bonds, easily negotiable, which go on functioning in their hands just as so much hard cash would. But further, apart from the class of lazy annuitants thus created, and from the improvised wealth of the financiers, middlemen between the government and the nation — as also apart from the tax-farmers, merchants, private manufacturers, to whom a good part of every national loan renders the service of a capital fallen from heaven — the national debt has given rise to joint-stock companies, to dealings in negotiable effects of all kinds, and to agiotage, in a word to stock-exchange gambling and the modern bankocracy.
At their birth the great banks, decorated with national titles, were only associations of private speculators, who placed themselves by the side of governments, and, thanks to the privileges they received, were in a position to advance money to the State. Hence the accumulation of the national debt has no more infallible measure than the successive rise in the stock of these banks, whose full development dates from the founding of the Bank of England in 1694. The Bank of England began with lending its money to the Government at 8%; at the same time it was empowered by Parliament to coin money out of the same capital, by lending it again to the public in the form of banknotes. It was allowed to use these notes for discounting bills, making advances on commodities, and for buying the precious metals. It was not long ere this credit-money, made by the bank itself, became the coin in which the Bank of England made its loans to the State, and paid, on account of the State, the interest on the public debt. It was not enough that the bank gave with one hand and took back more with the other; it remained, even whilst receiving, the eternal creditor of the nation down to the last shilling advanced. Gradually it became inevitably the receptacle of the metallic hoard of the country, and the centre of gravity of all commercial credit. What effect was produced on their contemporaries by the sudden uprising of this brood of bankocrats, financiers, rentiers, brokers, stock-jobbers, &c., is proved by the writings of that time, e.g., by Bolingbroke's.
With the national debt arose an international credit system, which often conceals one of the sources of primitive accumulation in this or that people. Thus the villainies of the Venetian thieving system formed one of the secret bases of the capital-wealth of Holland to whom Venice in her decadence lent large sums of money. So also was it with Holland and England. By the beginning of the 18th century the Dutch manufactures were far outstripped. Holland had ceased to be the nation preponderant in commerce and industry. One of its main lines of business, therefore, from 1701-1776, is the lending out of enormous amounts of capital, especially to its great rival England. The same thing is going on today between England and the United States. A great deal of capital, which appears today in the United States without any certificate of birth, was yesterday, in England, the capitalised blood of children.
As the national debt finds its support in the public revenue, which must cover the yearly payments for interest, &c., the modern system of taxation was the necessary complement of the system of national loans. The loans enable the government to meet extraordinary expenses, without the tax-payers feeling it immediately, but they necessitate, as. a consequence, increased taxes. On the other hand, the raising of taxation caused by the accumulation of debts contracted one after another, compels the government always to have recourse to new loans for new extraordinary expenses. Modern fiscality, whose pivot is formed by taxes on the most necessary means of subsistence (thereby increasing their price), thus contains within itself the germ of automatic progression. Over-taxation is not an incident, but rather a principle. In Holland, therefore, where this system was first inaugurated, the great patriot, DeWitt, has in his "Maxims" extolled it as the best system for making the wage-labourer submissive, frugal, industrious, and overburdened with labour. The destructive influence that it exercises on the condition of the wage-labourer concerns us less however, here, than the forcible expropriation, resulting from it, of peasants, artisans, and in a word, all elements of the lower middle-class. On this there are not two opinions, even among the bourgeois economists. Its expropriating efficacy is still further heightened by the system of protection, which forms one of its integral parts.
The great part that the public debt, and the fiscal system corresponding with it, has played in the capitalisation of wealth and the expropriation of the masses, has led many writers, like Cobbett, Doubleday and others, to seek in this, incorrectly, the fundamental cause of the misery of the modern peoples.
The system of protection was an artificial means of manufacturing manufacturers, of expropriating independent labourers, of capitalising the national means of production and subsistence, of forcibly abbreviating the transition from the medieval to the modern mode of production. The European states tore one another to pieces about the patent of this invention, and, once entered into the service of the surplus-value makers, did not merely lay under contribution in the pursuit of this purpose their own people, indirectly through protective duties, directly through export premiums. They also forcibly rooted out, in their dependent countries, all industry, as, e.g., England did with the Irish woollen manufacture. On the continent of Europe, after Colbert's example, the process was much simplified. The primitive industrial capital, here, came in part directly out of the state treasury. 'Why,' cries Mirabeau, 'why go so far to seek the cause of the manufacturing glory of Saxony before the war? 180,000,000 of debts contracted by the sovereigns!'
Colonial system, public debts, heavy taxes, protection, commercial wars, &c., these children of the true manufacturing period, increase gigantically during the infancy of Modem Industry. The birth of the latter is heralded by a great slaughter of the innocents. Like the royal navy, the factories were recruited by means of the press-gang. Blasé as Sir F. M. Eden is as to the horrors of the expropriation of the agricultural population from the soil, from the last third of the 15th century to his own time; with all the self-satisfaction with which he rejoices in this process, "essential" for establishing capitalistic agriculture and "the due proportion between arable and pasture land" - he does not show, however, the same economic insight in respect to the necessity of child-stealing and child-slavery for the transformation of manufacturing exploitation into factory exploitation, and the establishment of the "true relation" between capital and labour-power. He says:
'It may, perhaps, be worthy the attention of the public to consider, whether any manufacture, which, in order to be carried on successfully, requires that cottages and workhouses should be ransacked for poor children; that they should be employed by turns during the greater part of the night and robbed of that rest which, though indispensable to all, is most required by the young; and that numbers of both sexes, of different ages and dispositions, should be collected together in such a manner that the contagion of example cannot but lead to profligacy and debauchery; will add to the sum of individual or national felicity?'
'In the counties of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, and more particularly in Lancashire,' says Fielden, "the newly-invented machinery was used in large factories built on the sides of streams capable of turning the water-wheel. Thousands of hands were suddenly required in these places, remote from towns; and Lancashire, in particular, being, till then, comparatively thinly populated and barren, a population was all that she now wanted. The small and nimble fingers of little children being by very far the most in request, the custom instantly sprang up of procuring apprentices from the different parish workhouses of London, Birmingham, and elsewhere. Many, many thousands of these little, hapless creatures were sent down into the north, being from the age of 7 to the age of 13 or 14 years old. The custom was for the master to clothe his apprentices and to feed and lodge them in an 'apprentice house' near the factory; overseers were appointed to see to the works, whose interest it was to work the children to the utmost, because their pay was in proportion to the quantity of work that they could exact. Cruelty was, of course, the consequence. . . . In many of the manufacturing districts, but particularly, I am afraid, in the guilty county to which I belong [Lancashire], cruelties the most heart-rending were practised upon the unoffending and friendless creatures who were thus consigned to the charge of master-manufacturers; they were harassed to the brink of death by excess of labour ... were flogged, fettered and tortured in the most exquisite refinement of cruelty; ... they were in many cases starved to the bone while flogged to their work and ... even in some instances ... were driven to commit suicide.... The beautiful and romantic valleys of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Lancashire, secluded from the public eye, became the dismal solitudes of torture, and of many a murder. The profits of manufacturers were enormous; but this only whetted the appetite that it should have satisfied, and therefore the manufacturers had recourse to an expedient that seemed to secure to them those profits without any possibility of limit; they began the practice of what is termed 'night-working," that is, having tired one set of hands, by working them throughout the day, they had another set ready to go on working throughout the night; the day-set getting into the beds that the night-set had just quilted, and in their turn again, the night-set getting into the beds that the day-set quilted in the morning... It is a common tradition in Lancashire, that the beds never get cold..'
With the development of capitalist production during the manufacturing period, the public opinion of Europe had lost the last remnant of shame and conscience. The nations bragged cynically of every infamy that served them as a means to capitalistic accumulation. Read, e.g., the naïve Annals of Commerce of the worthy A. Anderson. Here it is trumpeted forth as a triumph of English statecraft that at the Peace of Utrecht, England extorted from the Spaniards by the Asiento Treaty the privilege of being allowed to ply the negro-trade, until then only carried on between Africa and the English West Indies, between Africa and Spanish America as well. England thereby acquired the right of supplying Spanish America until 1743 with 4,800 Negroes yearly. This threw, at the same time, an official cloak over British smuggling. Liverpool waxed fat on the slave-trade. This was its method of primitive accumulation. And, even to the present day, Liverpool 'respectability' is the Pindar of the slave-trade which - compare the work of Aikin  already quoted - "has coincided with that spirit of bold adventure which has characterised the trade of Liverpool and rapidly carried it to its present state of prosperity; has occasioned vast employment for shipping and sailors, and greatly augmented the demand for the manufactures of the country" (p. 339). Liverpool employed in the slave-trade, in 1730, 15 ships; in 1751, 53; in 1760, 74; in 1770, 96; and in 1792, 132.
Whilst the cotton industry introduced child-slavery in England, it gave in the United States a stimulus to the transformation of the earlier, more or less patriarchal slavery, into a system of commercial exploitation. In fact, the veiled slavery of the wage-workers in Europe needed, for its pedestal, slavery pure and simple in the new world.
Tantae molis erat, to establish the 'eternal laws of Nature' of the capitalist mode of production, to complete the process of separation between labourers and conditions of labour, to transform, at one pole, the social means of production and subsistence into capital, at the opposite pole, the mass of the population into wage-labourers, into 'free labouring poor,' that artificial product of modern society. If money, According to Augier, 'comes into the world with a congenital blood-stain on one cheek,' capital comes dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt."
p. 703-12, Karl Marx. "Capital. Volume One", Part I: Commodities and Money. Chapter Thirty One: Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist.
We will now examine how monopoly capitalism was created as a result of the marriage of industrial capital and financial capital via the good offices of the banks. Their offspring then took over everything that they could get their avaricious hands on. This observation from V.I. Lenin's book Imperialism: The Highest Stage Of Capitalism A Popular Outline is an excellent primer.
The principal and original function of banks is to serve as middlemen in the making of payments. In doing so they transform inactive money capital into active, that is, into capital yielding a profit; they collect all kinds of money revenues and place them at the disposal of the capitalist class.
As banking develops and becomes concentrated in a small number of establishments, the banks grow from humble middlemen into powerful monopolies having at their command almost the whole of the money capital of all the capitalists and small businessmen and also the larger part of the means of production and of the sources of raw materials of the given country and in a number of countries. This transformation of numerous humble middlemen into a handful of monopolists represents one of the fundamental processes in the growth of capitalism into capitalist imperialism; for this reason we must first of all deal with the concentration of banking.
p 31, Lenin, Imperialism: The Highest Stage Of Capitalism A Popular Outline
Continuing our investigation of the matter a little further in his book, we find this bit of knowledge:
The banking system 'possesses, indeed, the form of universal book-keeping and distribution of means of production on a social scale, but solely the form', wrote Marx in Capital half a century ago. The figures we have quoted on the growth of bank capital, on the increase in the number of the branches and offices of the biggest banks, the increase in the number of their accounts, etc., present a concrete picture of this 'universal bookkeeping' of the whole capitalist class; and not only of the capitalists, for the banks collect, even though temporarily, all kinds of money revenues-of small businessmen, office clerks, and of a tiny upper stratum of the working class. 'Universal distribution of means of production' -that, from the formal aspect, is what grows out of the modern banks, which, numbering some three to six of the biggest in France, and six to eight in Germany, control millions and millions. In substance, however, the distribution of means of production is not at all 'universal', but private, i.e., it conforms to the interests of big capital, and primarily, of huge, monopoly capital, which operates under conditions in which the masses live in want, in which the whole development of agriculture hopelessly lags behind the development of industry, while within industry itself the "heavy industries" exact tribute from all other branches of industry."
As they pay interest at the rate of 4 per cent and 4.25 per cent on deposits, the savings banks must seek 'profitable' investments for their capital, they must deal in bills, mortgages, etc. The boundaries between the banks and the savings banks 'become more and more obliterated.' The Chambers of Commerce of Bochum and Erfurt, for example, demand that savings banks be 'prohibited' from engaging in 'purely' banking business, such as discounting bills; they demand the limitation of the 'banking' operations of the post office. [Die Bank, 1913, pp. 811, 1022; 1914, p. 713.] The banking magnates seem to be afraid that state monopoly will steal upon them from an unexpected quarter. It goes without saying, however, that this fear is no more than the expression of the rivalry, so to speak, between two department managers in the same office; for, on the one hand, the billions entrusted to the savings banks are in the final analysis actually controlled by these very same bank capital magnates, while, on the other hand, state monopoly in capitalist society is merely a means of increasing and guaranteeing the income of millionaires in one branch of industry or another who are on the verge of bankruptcy in one branch of industry or another.
The change from the old type of capitalism, in which free competition predominated, to the new capitalism, in which monopoly reigns, is expressed, among other things, by a decline in the importance of the Stock Exchange. The review, Die Bank, writes:
'For a long time, the Stock Exchange has long ceased to be the indispensable medium of circulation that it was formerly when the banks were not yet able to place the bulk of new issues with their clients.' [Die Bank, 1914, p.316.. ] [Schulze-Gaevernitz, German Credit Bank in Outline of Social Economics]
'Every bank is a Stock Exchange,' and the bigger the bank, and the more successful the concentration of banking, the truer does this modern aphorism become. [Oskar Stillich (Money and Banking) Berlin 1907, p. 169]
'While formerly, in the 'seventies, the Stock Exchange, flushed with the exuberance of youth" (a "subtle" allusion to the Stock Exchange crash of 1873, to the company promotion scandals), opened the era of the industrialization of Germany, nowadays the banks and industry are able to 'do it alone.' The domination of our big banks over the Stock Exchange... is nothing else than the expression of the completely organized German industrial state. If the domain of the automatically functioning economic laws is thus restricted, and if the domain of conscious regulation by the banks is considerably enlarged, the national economic responsibility of a few guiding heads is immensely increased,' [Schulze-Gaevernitz, Die deutsche Kreditbank in Grundriss der sozialökonomik, Tübingen, 1915, p. 101.] so writes the German Professor Schulze-Gaevernitz, an apologist of German imperialism, who is regarded as an authority by the imperialists of all countries, and who tries to gloss over a 'detail,' viz., that the 'conscious regulation' of economic life by the banks consists in the fleecing of the public by a handful of 'completely organized' monopolists. The task of a bourgeois professor is not to lay bare the entire mechanism, or to expose all the machinations of the bank monopolists, but rather to present them in a favorable light.
In the same way, Riesser, a still more authoritative economist and himself 'a banker,' makes shift with meaningless phrases in order to explain away undeniable facts:
'... The Stock Exchange is steadily losing the feature which is absolutely essential for national economy as a whole and for the circulation of securities in particular--that of being not only a most exact measuring-rod, but also an almost automatic regulator of the economic movements which converge on it.' [Riesser, op. cit., 4th ed, p. 629.]
In other words, the old capitalism, the capitalism of free competition with its indispensable regulator, the Stock Exchange, is passing away. A new capitalism has come to take its place, bearing obvious features of something transient, a mixture of free competition and monopoly. The question naturally arises: to what is this new capitalism 'passing'? But the bourgeois scholars are afraid to raise this question.
Thirty years ago, businessmen, freely competing against one another, performed nine-tenths of the work connected with their business other than manual labor. At the present time, nine-tenths of this 'brain work' is performed by officials. Banking is in the forefront of this evolution [Die Bank, 1912, p 435.]
This admission by Schulze-Gaevernitz brings us once again to the question: to what is this new capitalism, capitalism in its imperialist stage, passing?
Among the few banks which remain at the head of all capitalist economy as a result of 'the process of concentration, there is naturally to be observed an increasingly marked tendency towards monopolist agreements, towards a bank trust. In America, not nine, but two very big banks, those of the billionaires Rockefeller and Morgan, control a capital of eleven billion marks. [Die Bank, 1912, 1, p. 435.] In Germany the absorption of the Schaaffhausenscher Bankverein by the Disconto-Gesellschaft to which we referred above, was commented on in the following terms by the Frankfurter Zeitung, an organ of the Stock Exchange interests:
The concentration movement of the banks is narrowing the circle of establishments from which it is possible to obtain credits, and is consequently increasing the dependence of big industry upon a small number of banking groups. In view of the close connection between industry and the financial world, the freedom of movement of industrial companies which need banking capital is restricted. For this reason, big industry is watching the growing trustification of the banks with mixed feelings. Indeed, we have repeatedly seen the beginnings of certain agreements between the individual big banking concerns, which aim at restricting competition.' [Quoted by Schulze-Gaevernitz, ibid.. p. 155.]
Again and again, the final word in the development of banking is monopoly..
The close ties between the banks and industry, it is precisely in this sphere that the new role of the banks is, perhaps, most strikingly felt. When a bank discounts a bill for a firm, opens a current account for it, etc.., these operations, taken separately, do not in the least diminish its independence, and the bank plays no other part than that of a humble middleman. But when such operations are multiplied and become an established practice, when the bank 'collects' in its own hands enormous amounts of capital, when the running of a current account for a given firm enables the bank--and this is what happens--to obtain fuller and more detailed information about the economic position of its client, the result is that the industrial capitalist becomes more completely dependent on the bank.
At the same time a very close personal union is established between the banks and the biggest industrial and commercial enterprises, the merging of one with another through the acquisition of shares, through the appointment of bank directors to the Supervisory Boards (or Boards of Directors) of industrial and commercial enterprises, and vice versa. The German economist, Jeidels, has compiled most detailed data on this form of concentration of capital and of enterprises. Six of the biggest Berlin banks were represented by their directors in 344 industrial companies; and by their board members in 407 others, making a total of 751 companies. In 289 of these companies they either had two of their representatives on each of the respective Supervisory Boards, or held the posts of chairmen. We find these industrial and commercial companies in the most diverse branches of industry: insurance, transport, restaurants, theaters, art industry, etc. On the other hand, on the Supervisory Boards of these six banks (in 1910) were fifty-one of the biggest industrialists, including the director of Krupp, of the powerful 'Hapag' (Hamburg-American Line), etc., etc. From 1895 to 1910, each of these six banks participated in the share and bond issues of many hundreds of industrial companies (the number ranging from 281 to 419). [Jeidels, op. cit.; Riesser, op. cit.]
The "personal union" between the banks and industry is supplemented by the 'personal union' between both and the government.
'Seats on Supervisory Boards,'writes Jeidels, 'are freely offered to persons of title, also to ex-civil servants, who are able to do a great deal to facilitate "relations with the authorities.'...'Usually, on the Supervisory Board of a big bank, there is a member of parliament or a Berlin city councillor.'
The building, so to speak, of the big capitalist monopolies is therefore going on full steam ahead in all 'natural' and 'supernatural' ways. A sort of division of labor is being systematically developed amongst some hundreds of kings of finance who reign over modern capitalist society:
'Simultaneously with this widening of the sphere of activity of certain big industrialists' (joining the boards of banks, etc.) 'and with the allocation of provincial bank managers to definite industrial regions, there is a growth of specialization among the directors of the big banks. Generally speaking, this specialization is only conceivable when banking is conducted on a large scale, and particularly when it has widespread connections with industry. This division of labor proceeds along two lines: on the one hand, relations with industry as a whole are entrusted to one director, as his special function; on the other, each director assumes the supervision of several separate enterprises, or of a group of enterprises in the same branch of industry or having similar interests.' ... (Capitalism has already reached the stage of organized supervision of individual enterprises.) ... 'One specializes in German industry, sometimes even in West-German industry alone' (the West is the most industrialized part of Germany), 'others specialize in relations with foreign states and foreign industry, in information about the personality of industrialists and others, in Stock Exchange questions, etc. Besides, each bank director is often assigned a special locality or a special branch of industry; one works chiefly on Supervisory Boards of electric companies, another chemical, brewing, or beet-sugar plants, a third in a few isolated industrial enterprises, but at the same time works on the Supervisory Boards of insurance companies.... In short, there can be no doubt that the growth in the dimensions and diversity of the big banks' operations is accompanied by an increase in the division of labor among their directors with the object (and result) of, so to speak, lifting them somewhat out of pure banking and making them better experts, better judges of the general problems of industry and the special problems of each branch of industry, thus making them more capable of acting within the respective bank's industrial sphere of influence.. This system is supplemented by the banks' endeavors to elect to their Supervisory Boards men who are experts in industrial affairs, such as industrialists, former officials, especially those formerly in the railway service or in mining,' etc. [Jeidels, op. cit., p. 57.]
We find the same system only in a slightly different form in French banking. For instance, one of the three biggest French banks, the Credit Lyonnais, has organized a financial research service (service des etudes financieres), which permanently employs over fifty engineers, statisticians, economists, lawyers, etc. This costs from six to seven hundred thousand francs annually. The service is in turn divided into eight departments: one specializes in collecting information concerning industrial establishments, another studies general statistics, a third with railway and steamship companies, a fourth, securities, a fifth, financial reports, etc. [An article by Eugene Kaufmann on French banks in Die Bank, 1909, p. 851 et seq.]
The result is twofold: on the one hand, the ever growing merger, or, as N. I. Bukharin aptly calls it, coalescence, of bank and industrial capital and, on the other hand, the growth of the banks into institutions of a truly 'universal character.' On this question we think it necessary to quote the exact terms used by Jeidels, who has best studied the subject:
"'An examination of the sum total of industrial relationships reveals the universal character of the financial establishments working on behalf of industry. Unlike other kinds of banks, and contrary to the demand sometimes expressed in literature that banks should specialize in one kind of business or in one branch of industry in order to prevent the ground from slipping from under their feet-- the big banks are striving to make their connections with industrial enterprises as varied as possible regarding locality and branch of industry and are striving to eliminate the unevenness in the distribution of capital among localities and branches of industry resulting from the historical development of individual enterprises.
'One tendency is to make the connections with industry general; another tendency is to make them durable and close. In the six big banks both these tendencies are realized, not in full, but to a considerable extent and to an equal degree.'
Quite often industrial and commercial circles complain of the 'terrorism' of the banks. And it is not surprising that such complaints are heard, for the big banks 'command,' as will be seen from the following example. On November 19, 1901, one of the big, so-called Berlin 'D' banks (the names of the four biggest banks begin with the letter D) wrote to the Board of Directors of the German Central Northwest Cement Syndicate in the following terms:
'As we learn from the notice you published in a certain newspaper of the 18th inst., we must reckon with the possibility that the next general meeting of your syndicate, to be held on the 30th of this month, may decide on measures which are likely to effect changes in your undertaking which are unacceptable to us. We deeply regret that, for these reasons, we are obliged henceforth to withdraw the credit which had been hitherto allowed you.... But if the said next general meeting does not decide upon measures which are unacceptable to us, and if we receive suitable guarantees on this matter for the future, we shall be quite willing to open negotiations with you on the grant of a new credit.' [Dr. Oscar Stillich, Geld und Bankwesen, Berlin, 1907, p. 148.]
As a matter of fact, this is small capital's old complaint about being oppressed by big capital, but in this case it was a whole syndicate that fell into the category of 'small' capital! The old struggle between small and big capital is being resumed at a new and immeasurably higher stage of development. It stands to reason that the big banks' enterprises, worth billions, can accelerate technical progress with means that cannot possibly be compared with those of the past. The banks, for example, set up special technical research societies, and, of course, only 'friendly' industrial enterprises benefit from their work. To this category belong the Electric Railway Research Association, the Central Bureau of Scientific and Technical Research, etc.
The directors of the big banks themselves cannot fail to see that new conditions of national economy are being created; but they are powerless in the face of these phenomena.
'Anyone who has watched, in recent years,' writes Jeidels, 'the changes of incumbents of directorships and seats on the Supervisory Boards of the big banks, cannot fail to have noticed that power is gradually passing into the hands of men who consider the active intervention of the big banks in the general development of industry to be necessary and of increasing importance. Between these new men and the old bank directors, disagreements of a business and often of a personal nature are growing on this subject. The issue is whether or not the banks, as credit institutions, will suffer from this intervention in industry, whether they are sacrificing tried principles and an assured profit to engage in a field of activity which has nothing in common with their role as middlemen in providing credit, and which is leading the banks into a field where they are more than ever before exposed to the blind forces of trade fluctuations. This is the opinion of many of the older bank directors, while most of the young men consider active intervention in industry to be a necessity as great as that which gave rise, simultaneously with big modern industry, to the big banks and modern industrial banking. The two parties are agreed only on one point: that there are neither firm principles nor a concrete aim in the new activities of the big banks.' [Jeidels, op. cit., pp. 83-84]
The old capitalism has had its day. The new capitalism represents a transition towards something. It is hopeless, of course, to seek for 'firm principles and a concrete aim' for the purpose of 'reconciling' monopoly with free competition. The admission of the practical men has quite a different ring from the official praises of the charms of 'organized' capitalism sung by its apologists, Schulze-Gaevernitz, Liefmann and similar 'theoreticians.'
At precisely what period were the 'new activities' of the big banks finally established? Jeidels gives us a fairly exact answer to this important question:
'The ties between the banks and industrial enterprises, with their new content, their new forms and their new organs, namely, the big banks which are organized on both a centralized and a decentralized basis, were scarcely a characteristic economic phenomenon before the nineties; in one sense, indeed this initial date may be advanced to the year 1897, when the important 'mergers' took place and when, for the first time, the new form of decentralized organization was introduced to suit the industrial policy of the banks. This starting point could perhaps be placed at an even later date, for it was the crisis of 1900 that enormously accelerated and intensified the process of concentration of industry and of banking, consolidated that process, for the first time transformed the connection with industry into the actual monopoly of the big banks, and made this connection much closer and more active.' [lbid., p. 181. ]
Thus, the twentieth century marks the turning point from the old capitalism to the new, from the domination of capital in general to the domination of finance capital.
pp 37- 46 Lenin, "Imperialism: The Highest Stage Of Capitalism A Popular Outline"
By the end of the 20th Century the majority of humanity had thrown off the yoke of colonialism, only to be confronted by the new manifestation of monopoly capitalism and imperialism: neo-colonialism. However, the empire did not catch the people of the world off guard. Far from it as we shall see, the leadership and the struggling elements of the world's peoples were fully aware of the cruel agenda of the imperialist.
Kwame Nkrumah wrote in the Introduction to his book, Consciencism: Philosophy and Ideology of De-Colonisation:
The issues are clearer than they have ever been. The succession of military coups which have in recent years taken place in Africa, have exposed the close links between the interests of neocolonialism and the indigenous bourgeoisie. These coups have brought into sharp relief the nature of the class struggle in Africa. Foreign monopoly capitalists are in close association with local reactionaries, and have made use of officers among the armed forces and police in order to frustrate the purposes of the African Revolution.
This in summary is the nature of the class struggle in Africa. A class struggle fueled by neocolonialism's war against the African people and the concept of a unified African polity.
In Zimbabwe, for example, neocolonialism seeks to negate the destruction of the settler state, and as we stated earlier in this tutorial, Comrade President Mugabe has publicly stated that their intent is nothing less than the reinstatement of the rule of the Rhodesian Front in a new form. But Africa and just people will not allow that.
For as Dr. Nkrumah observed in Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare, "The predominant racial group must, and will, provide the government of a country. Settlers, provided they accept the principle of one man one vote, and majority rule, may be tolerated; but settler minority government, never. They are a dangerous anachronism, and must be swept away COMPLETELY and FOREVER. "
Nkrumah consistently warned of the danger of the African demographic sectors aligned with international capital. He cautioned us to be prepared to combat these nefarious, unprincipled internal elements with every means at our disposal. Those who will betray the people for a "mess of pottage" or "chump change", if you will, as some individuals and groups are doing are nothing but the little sniveling rodents and snakes of the lowest kind. Such groups and individuals posture themselves as servants of the people but in fact do the bidding for the enemies of the peoples; which perforce makes them also enemies of the peoples.
These avaricious individuals and groups, businesspeople linked to international capital, political leaders, elitist professionals, corrupt intelligentsia, counter-revolutionary civil servants, police and military factors dependent on international capital, see their material interests threatened by the rise of the class of the oppressed people in Zimbabwe.
Just as the reactionary Vietnamese marched into Dien Bien Phu went to their death whistling the French Republic Anthem, in a vain attempt to rescue the US-backed French forces from imminent military defeat at the hands of the Vietnamese patriots, there are African elements, some using left and ultra-left phraseology, who hope to secure / maintain their position of relative privilege and the position of their imperialist masters by blunting the theoretical and practical consciousness of the peoples of Africa. Just as the Vietnamese reaction found their doom and graves in Dien Bien Phu, we know that the African reaction will find a similar demise.
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