The XXI Century American Revolution Part IV
Chapter VIII Pilgrims
"I see in the near future a crisis looming, it baffles me and makes me tremble for the security of my country...Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will continue, the power of money will strive to "prolong his reign by working to the detriment of the people until all the wealth is concentrated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."
Abraham Lincoln. Letter to William F. Elkins November 21, 1864
entire year 2006 was characterized in the US by 2 things: The military
defeat in Iraq, and the political defeat of the Bush Administration. That
is why during that year the White House made changes to the cabinet,
with the aim of desperately solving the political crisis, the discredit,
and the plummeting popularity. The entire Bush Administration was involved in an enormous crisis that consumed it day by day. The crisis triggered a state of upheaval in the Beltway in late 2005, when the "CIA-Gate " scandal broke. But the "CIA affair " was only the expression of the Bush Administration's problems, not the cause. The
scandal expressed a fundamental change in the political situation, the
mobilization of the people and the growing rejection hit the Bush
Administration, which suffered strong disapproval.
The Bush Administration was falling into a tailspin due to its racist policy towards New Orleans, the attack on freedoms that the Patriot Act meant, the invasion of Iraq that received worldwide repudiation, the military situation in Iraq where the army received an enormous beating, and the crisis of the armed forces that were bogged down in the war. Within the country, rejection and mobilization against the war grew, as support for the invasion decreased. At the same time, the curtailment of democratic freedoms with the Patriot Act regime had provoked growing resistance among different segments of the population.
Movements were constantly emerging that expressed their opposition to this policy, and the decline in the Bush Administration's popularity developed at great speed, especially among the most neglected and oppressed segments of the people. The situation of the economy began to show dark clouds, to the extent that the immense "sub-prime" bubble created and fueled by the Bush Administration in connivance with the Federal Reserve began to deflate. But precisely the political crisis made the situation of the economy very difficult, given that the profuse issuance of credit for the real estate industry through mortgages of dubious quality needed political stability to develop, so the country's situation adopted a growing dynamic of instability. policy.
The serious crisis was fed by the problems and friction within the cabinet, it hit directly the White House and the Bush Administration, but it began to shake the entire state superstructure of the country, it had repercussions on Parliament, the political parties, the security agencies. , the CIA, the Pentagon, and pressure groups. The entire Bush Administration was sinking into discredit. By early 2006, Bush's approval rating had dropped to 43% and was continuing to decline. In April of that year, it reached 35%, the figure prior to the 9/11 attacks, and according to polls, 65% of the population estimated that the country was going in the wrong direction. For this reason, and with the aim of reversing this trend, the Bush Administration promoted a series of changes in the cabinet. The bosses and ideologues of the Bush Administration launched a slogan to reverse the crisis: "Refresh", "Revitalize", "Reinvigorate", words of order that desperately sought to change the face of the Administration to save it. And in that orientation, a process of retirement of officials who were suffering great wear and tear began, to exchange them for new officials who would give it a " refreshed" and "revitalized" image with new faces.
Bush Administration 2006-2007: Disaster with one setback after another
Between 2006 and 2007 nothing went well for the Bush Administration. The course of the crisis forced the government to make definitions and in that direction, all the appointments of new officials in the cabinet had two outstanding points: On the one hand, the greater unity of the Bush Administration with the conservative extreme right and the Neocons. On the other hand, the greater approach to Multinational Corporations. Let's first look at the Bush Administration's approach to the Neocon groups. The position of advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney that Libby left was occupied by David Addington Spears, a Neocon linked to the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation. Neocon leader Paul Wolfowitz himself, who had been Libby's mentor, and was visibly worn out, had to be replaced by Gordon R. England. The subsequent course of Wolfowitz's career showed the disastrous course of the Neocons: Relocated as president of the World Bank, he had to resign amid a corruption scandal and allegations that his girlfriend, also an employee of the World Bank, had received significant salary increases. .
The crisis deepened with another scandal that reached CIA director Porter Goss, appointed by Bush after the 9/11 attacks. Goss was questioned for serious human rights violations after the revelation of the existence of flights to transport prisoners. for terrorism crimes towards secret prisons and Black Sites with a stopover in Europe. The complaints also indicated that Goss had appointed close friends and collaborators to the agency, which was considered influence peddling. Kyle Foggo, one of these collaborators named by Goss, considered number three at the CIA, found himself in the middle of the scandal when he admitted that he had participated in poker sessions organized at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, in which lobbyists and prostitutes participated. high flight
The crisis erupted in the face of the Bush Administration, who replaced Goss with Admiral Michael Hayden. Also replaced was Sean O'Keefe, a NASA official appointed after the 9/11 attacks, whose mandate was greatly worn out by the failure of the Columbia space shuttle disaster launched on February 1, 2003, which disintegrated in the air. These changes in the cabinet occurred after an important loss in the Bush cabinet, which was that of Secretary of State Colin Powell, who resigned on November 15, 2004, very worn out, and questioned for having publicly lied before millions of people at the UN. saying that weapons of mass destruction existed in Iraq.
Powell was replaced by Condoleeza Rice, who in turn left her position as National Security Advisor to Stephen Hadley, another Neocon who served as a consulting lawyer for the global arms corporation, Lockheed Martin. In April 2006, White House spokesman Scott McClellan fell, who was, along with Bush, one of the most exposed to public disapproval, and his resignation was one of the most anticipated. "The White House is going through a transition phase, a change can be helpful ," McClellan declared on the White House lawn. The Bush Administration's "refresh and re-energize" policy had to be accelerated, because free fall threatened a defeat for the Republicans in the November 2006 legislative elections.
Thus, the changes accelerated: The Bush Administration appointed Rob Portman as the new director of Budget Affairs for the delicate task of preparing the federal budget, and thinking about the elections, Bush placed one of his brains and main political advisor, Karl Rove as main strategist, separating him from the temporary tasks of the administration for whom he appointed Joel Kaplan. However, none of these movements could avoid the catastrophe in the legislative elections of November 7 in which the Bush Administration suffered a clear defeat. Democrats won a majority in both chambers of Congress, 12 years after losing control of the House of Representatives, and regained control in an overwhelming manner that left them one step away from a majority in the Senate, winning 20 of the 36 governorships in game with which they came to dominate in 28 states, in addition to the fact that the governorships of New York, Ohio, Massachusetts, Colorado, Maryland and Arkansas passed into Democratic hands.
The results fell like a thunderbolt on the Republican Party, and the Neocon faction that had seized power after the 9/11 attacks. The Democrats swept the length and breadth of the country, and although a product of the complex and undemocratic system electoral of the country elections never directly express the thoughts of the population, if they can indirectly and distortedly formulate a general political trend. This was the case of these midterm elections in 2006, which evidenced the trends of the population's discontent with the Bush Administration, and the crisis that had been established in the ruling cast. The political situation had completely changed. In the presidential elections of November 2004, Bush had obtained the highest vote in history, won the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and had high support in the country. But two years later the Bush Administration had lost millions of votes in the midst of a serious political crisis, and a climate of defeat in Iraq.
The press conference where Bush expressed these words appeared in the White House surrounded by the entire cabinet, demonstrating that the entire Bush Administration was willing to face defeat, however, at said press conference the absence of a Key person in the Bush cabinet: Secretary of Defense and head of the Pentagon Donald Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld's absence was very significant and denoted the biggest political crisis of the Bush Administration, the crisis of the Bush Administration with the Armed Forces, which as we saw had its senior officer corps mutinying against the government. The Iraq War had opened a strong crisis and since November 2005, Congressman John Murtha, a former war veteran, presented a bill requesting an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, denouncing that Bush was "carrying out the destruction of the Army. "
The electoral catastrophe of the Republican Party in the 2006 midterm elections left a government in the air, while changes occurred rapidly in the country's politics in 2006. The Hamilton-Baker commission had recognized defeat in Iraq, had made 79 recommendations among which were the beginning of the withdrawal of troops, and the establishment of diplomatic relations with Syria and Iran. With the establishment of the Iraq Study Group, a change had been established in the country's political regime in the opposite direction to the PNAC: Parliament was now placed at the center of the country's political regime.
And in this way he tried to overcome the crisis of the Executive Branch. The Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi affirmed that the congressmen of her party will heed the recommendations of the Baker-Hamilton Commission, demonstrating where the center of gravity of the country's power revolved. But the Bush Administration was moving in the opposite direction with a greater approach towards the Neocon conglomerate. Faced with the changes in the political reality of the country, the Bush Administration sought to stop the trends that were developing, and the changes in the cabinet aimed to rescue the PNAC strategy.
Unity of the Bush Administration with Global Corporations.
The other outstanding point of all the appointments of new officials in the cabinet was characteristic of the greater unity of the Bush Administration with the Global Conglomerates (1 ) When Condoleeza Rice left her position in the hands of Stephen Hadley, she made evident the close relationship between the Bush Administration and the most important world arms corporation, Lockheed Martin. The wife of Vice President Dick Cheney was also on the board of directors of this Corporation. With the appointment of Hadley, Bush continued with the orientation of opening the doors of his government to Lockheed Martin, as he had already done with other executives of that Corporation such as Vice President Norman Mineta who had become Secretary of Transportation; or Director of Operations Peter B. Teets who had assumed leadership of the Air Force.
Also members of the Lockheed Martin Corporation were its deputy director Everet Beckner, who had taken over the direction of nuclear programs, and a Lockheed Martin lobbyist, Otto Reich, who had been appointed State Department official for Latin America. Changes in the Administration continued with Chief of Staff Andrew Card who was replaced by Joshua Bolten, a man linked to the Goldman Sachs Multinational Corporation. Bolten facilitated from his cabinet position the arrival of another Goldman Sachs man, Henry Paulson, who was named Treasury Secretary to replace John Snow in May 2006.
This deep relationship of the Bush Administration with large Corporations such as Goldman Sachs was not something new in the history of the United States, and the crisis of the Bush Administration had exposed the present and historical contradictions of the country's political regime. When the Bush Administration developed close relations with Goldman Sachs, the Carlyle Group, Blackwater, or Lockheed Martin, it was only ratifying the course that many previous governments had already developed. But companies like the Multinational Corporations, the monopolies or transnationals with which the Bush Administration was associated, was a strategic move. To understand the reasons why the Bush Administration associated itself with Corporations, it is necessary to understand how these companies emerged, what was their origin and how they developed, analyzing the process of evolution of North American capitalism. In this way we will understand why they acquired the importance they have today for the economy and politics of the United States and the world.
The evolution of American capitalism
When the crisis occurred in the Bush Administration, it shook a political regime whose evolution was shaped to the extent that serious and profound changes occurred in the economy. The vigorous development of North American capitalism after the Civil War was the opposite of the situation prior to the conflagration. Before the Civil War, nascent North American capitalism wandered from crisis to crisis; it was a weak and small nation that was beginning to take its first steps in confronting its contradictions, which led it from one economic crisis to another. On May 10, 1837, a speculative fever broke out in New York and produced a cut in the banks' payment chain, leaving an economic crisis that lasted 5 years with high levels of unemployment.
Just 12 years later, the so-called "California gold rush" broke out , a
social phenomenon that occurred between 1848 and 1855, when news of the
discovery of gold in Sutter's Mill in the state of California occurred.
Around 300,000 people
emigrated to California from the rest of the United States and other
countries, leading a true demographic " revolution" for the time. The first gold seekers, called " forty-niners"
(those of '49, around the year 1849) traveled to California by boat
along the Cape Horn route or in caravans crossing the continent, facing a
very difficult journey. The effects of this sudden migration were spectacular, before the " gold rush", San Francisco was a tiny village, but the "rush" turned it into a large city in which schools, roads and churches were built, and They founded other towns.
A legal and government system was created, which led to the admission of California as a State of the Union in 1850. This favored the development of the railroad due to the large number of migrants heading west, and a large flow of people who turned railroads into a profitable industry. Banks took advantage of this opportunity and began offering significant loans to railroad companies.
This, along with other factors, led to the country experiencing a period of great economic prosperity in the early 1850s. But in 1857 a global capitalist crisis hit the banks that had financed the railroads and land purchases, which in turn began to feel the pressure of the decline in the value of railroad stocks. Train lines such as the Illinois Central; Erie; Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago Delaware, Lackawanna and Western, Fond du Lac and Reading were forced to close. Added to this was the crisis caused by the confrontation between the North and the South, which did not allow the full development of North American capitalism. The "Blidding Kansas", and the decision against Dred Scott in the Supreme Court, hit the economy of Kansas, a state that had become a railway junction linking the East and the West. The struggle for control of the state that had sparked the "Blidding Kansas" involved a decline in the value of land collateral and the value of railroad titles.
August 24, 1857, the Ohio-based Ohio Life Insurance and Trust Company
bank failed, whose fraudulent activities threatened to precipitate the
banking panic, affecting the railroad industry and the real estate
business. Grain prices
also fell significantly, and many towns suffered from the crisis, land
sales decreased dramatically, and westward expansion virtually stopped. After the outbreak of the crisis of 1857, an important process of mobilization took place as Howard Zinn explains: "...In
New York, fifteen thousand people gathered in Tompkins Square, in the
center of Manhattan. From there they went in demonstration until Wall
Street and paraded in front of the Stock Exchange building shouting "We
want jobs"...There were demonstrations by the unemployed asking for
bread and work...In November, a crowd of protesters occupied City Hall;
the United States Marines came to evict them." (2)
Caught in its fundamental contradiction between the manufacturing capitalist economy of the Southern states based on slave relations of production and the development of the industrial capitalist economy in the Northern states based on the exploitation of a nascent proletariat, US capitalism He was at a crossroads. Either one triumphed, or the other triumphed, but both capitalist economic regimes could no longer coexist. On the other hand, the industrial development of the North clashed at every step with the limits imposed by the existence of the South, which is why it was constituted as a weak development that could never expand or be fully consolidated.
All this led to the conflagration becoming imminent. These contradictions opened a crisis in the Democratic Party: Industrial bourgeois sectors of the North began to break with the party, which led to a division in the presidential elections of 1860 that gave victory to Abraham Lincoln, as Karl Marx explains: "But Lincoln's election was itself only the result of a division in the Democratic field. During the electoral struggle the Northern Democrats concentrated their votes in Douglas, the Southern Democrats concentrated their votes in Breckinridge, and by this division of Democratic votes owed its victory to the Republican Party" (3)
With the rise to power of Lincoln's Republican government, the political situation led to the Civil War, which brought American capitalism to the climax of the sharpening of its contradictions, which had an impact on the world economy, as Riazanov explains: "A war that had unexpected consequences . and very unpleasant for the entire capitalist world then broke out. At that time the southern states had almost the entire monopoly of cotton production, and supplied the cotton industry of the entire world. Egypt then produced very little cotton; eastern India and the Turkestan supplied very little cotton to the European market, so Europe was suddenly deprived of cotton...an unprecedented crisis hit the cotton industry and affected not only England, but also France, Germany, and even to Russia. The lack of cotton caused a considerable increase in the price of all the other raw materials of the textile industry. It is true that the large capitalists suffered less than the others, since the small and medium-sized ones had to close their factories. Hundreds of thousands of European workers saw their factories close" (4)
After the Civil War in 1865, the industrial capitalist economic regime of the Northern states was still incipient and embryonic, but it began to develop rapidly after having displaced the manufacturing accumulation regime of the Southern states, a product of the triumph of the industrial bourgeoisie. of the North in the Civil War. This allowed industry to begin to develop as a predominant form of capitalist accumulation, a form of capitalist accumulation that contained and surpassed manufacturing, and operated enormous and profound changes in capitalism and the world economy, since it implied a leap in the process. accumulation of capital and profits. At the same time, a new sector of social class developed more strongly, the modern salaried proletariat, which outlined the North American capitalist mode of production with its two fundamental social classes: the already existing bourgeoisie on the one hand, and a new class that was developed in an organic and massive way: the working class.
The country's working class had been developing since before the Civil War, as Howard Zinn explains: " In 1835, fifty different guilds in Philadelphia organized into unions, and there was a successful general strike of laborers, factory workers, bookbinders, jewelers, coal carriers, butchers and carpenters, in favor of the ten-hour day... Of the six million workers in the country in 1850, half a million were women..." (5) During those years when were forming the unions, the courts called them "conspiracies to restrain trade" and declared them illegal. A New York judge imposed fines against a "conspiracy" of tailors.
Immigration played an important role in the constitution of the proletariat, as Howard Zinn explains: "Faced with the increase in strikes, businessmen pressed for help from Congress. The Labor Contracting Law of 1864 made it possible for companies to sign contracts with foreign workers as long as the workers agreed to give twelve months of salary to pay the passage. This not only led to very cheap labor during the Civil War, but it was a good source of scabs." (6)
A sector of large capitalists took advantage of the development of the war to amass enormous fortunes. From the Civil War and the Second American Revolution emerged a social class of magnates and families of colossal wealth, rarely seen in the history of humanity. That cluster of families that some authors have called the "Eastern Stabilization" and others "The 60 families that dominate the United States" are the most important capitalist oligarchy in history. This is because it first consolidates itself as a very rich oligarchy of tycoons that dominates the US economy and, 70 years later, goes on to become the oligarchy that dominates the world capitalist economy.
With the Civil War, the "Eastern Stabilishment" arose.
The balance of the Second American Revolution offers two faces, on the one hand it is an enormous political advance with historical achievements such as the achievement of national unity and the abolition of slavery. On the other hand, it is an enormous process of destruction of productive forces with almost 700,000 victims and considerable material losses. This enormous process of destruction of productive forces shows the cruelty of capitalism, which throughout history can only overcome the limits and contradictions of its own process of capital accumulation through massacres and violent burning of capital. The capitalist development of the United States was no exception: Only through brutal massacre and destruction could North American capitalism achieve the national unity of the country, and with it, expand the borders and markets for the development of capital and investments.
After the Civil War, capital was able to rotate from one branch of production to another in a more widespread manner, and access regions, industries and companies where it had not reached before, which caused an "explosion" in the development of North American capitalism . At the same time, every war is a huge business for some groups of capitalists, and the Civil War was no exception in this sense either. In the midst of the cruel war confrontation, there was a spectacular enrichment of a group of capitalists based on speculation, loans to the state, the process of providing weapons, transportation, food and infrastructure for the army. The economic transformation brought about by the conflict allowed the accumulation of enormous fortunes and gave way to the subsequent process of capital concentration that favored the emergence of large economic trusts.
large business groups emerged from the Civil War: Firstly, Cornelius
Vanderbilt's group from New York around the naval industry and then the
railroad industry with companies such as the New York Central Railroad. Secondly
that of Andrew Carnegie of Pennsylvania around the railways and then
the steel industry with Carnegie Steel & Co which later gave rise to
United Steel & Co. Thirdly the group of John Davison Rockefeller of
Ohio around the oil industry with companies such as Standard Oil and
Citibank linked to James Stillman and in 4th place the group of John
Pierpont Morgan of New York around the financial industry with companies
such as First National Bank, AT&T and General Electric.
These business groups led a process of monopolistic concentration that continued in World War I with the rise of two other economic empires: That of the Du Pont de Nemours dynasty of Detroit around the control of companies such as United States Rubber, General Motors, or the National Bank of Detroit, and that of the Mellon financial clan of Pittsburg controlling the companies Aluminum Co. of America, Westinghouse, and Mellon Bank.
Part of the fortunes amassed were the product of measures by the Lincoln government, which to ensure victory in the war promoted the development of industries that provided weapons, transportation and logistics to the Northern army. These measures benefited companies and capitalist groups in the Northern states, especially a key industry at that time for military development, which was the railways. At that time, railroads were not just another transportation business, they were the most important transportation business since there was no air transportation, there was no road freight transportation, and there was no highway network. So whoever controlled rail transportation, actually controlled all transportation.
The railway companies became so important that they rivaled the federal government itself in the number of workers and employees. In 1862, President Lincoln signed the Pacific Railroad Bill, which with its subsequent amendments granted companies 1,800,000 hectares of land and a federal loan of $60 million for business expansion. The companies that benefited from these laws were the Central Pacific Railroad companies of California (PC), Union Pacific (UP), and Kansas Pacific Railway (PK) to build train tracks from the Missouri River to the Pacific. The law sought the construction of railroad and telegraph lines, and to ensure the government's use of them for postal, military, and other purposes.
The Act of 1862 authorized the issuance of 30-year government bonds issued and backed by the United States government, which then provided the capital raised to the railroad companies, and authorized the companies to issue their own "First Mortgages". The Central Pacific Railroad railway company was the railway company that linked the states of California and Utah, and was directed by Californian businessmen Leland Stanford, Collis Huntington, Charles Crocker and Mark Hopkins, nicknamed the "Big Four".
Leland Stanford was Governor of California for the Republican Party and used this position to set up companies with his partners and benefit from the enormous assets that the Lincoln government made available to him. Stanford passed in the California Legislature an Act to Authorize the issuance and delivery of County Bonds for almost $1 million for the company, which generated a political crisis, because the mayor and County Clerk refused to endorse the Bonds. Stanford took legal action to force them to do so, the Supreme Court of the State of California ordered under court orders that the Bonds be countersigned and delivered, which allowed the Central Pacific Railway company to be provided with an enormous mass of capital invested by the state.
Collis Potter Huntington handled the negotiations with Washington in partnership with Mark Hopkins, while Charles Crocker was the construction supervisor and president of Charles Crocker & Co., a company founded expressly for the purpose of handling the construction of the railroad. Crocker used brutal methods of exploiting workers, and brought in cheaper Chinese workers, to break the resistance of those who defended labor rights. The fortune that Crocker amassed was such that he ended up being president and majority shareholder of Wells Fargo.
The Central Pacific Railroad joined its tracks to that of the Union Pacific Railroad (UP) company in Promontory Point, Utah, which allowed the United States to provide itself with a transcontinental railroad, from which a trip of coast to coast train became possible in 8 days, replacing months-long trips by sea, or long and dangerous trips by wagon caravans. UP was precisely established on July 1, 1862, also a product of the laws of the Lincoln Administration, and was in charge of the construction of the railroad from the Missouri River to the Pacific. UP had the same military objectives in relation to the supply of troops, warehouses, mail, telegraph, and communications, in addition to commercial and of transportation: and it had an exclusive protagonist in its dominant shareholder, Dr Thomas Clark Durant, a businessman from the state of Iowa who was elected vice president of the company, and from his position he was responsible for the burden of managing and collecting money.
Durant had experience in railroad companies, having run the Mississippi and Missouri Railroad (M&M) company that built the first bridge to cross the Mississippi River in 1856. When a steamboat struck and damaged the bridge, M&M sued the boat operators and He hired Abraham Lincoln as a lawyer to defend the bridge. There was born Durant's relationship with Lincoln that allowed Lincoln, later president of the nation, to select Durant's new company, UP, and its operations center in Council Bluffs, Iowa, as the starting point of the first transcontinental railroad. . Durant had a ruthless reputation for squeezing friends and enemies as well as for personal gain, ran large-scale speculative operations to raise money, secured an expanded congressional land grant of millions of public acres, campaigned for brokers and traders In the New York and Philadelphia areas, he negotiated with politicians, and successfully issued $2,180,000 in shares of UP securities to subscribers.
During the war, Durant made a fortune by exploiting workers, importing Irish workers, and smuggling cotton from the Confederate States with the help of General Grenville M. de Dodge, who had created a highly effective spy network. , which was vital for Grant's operations and the Northern army. Dodge was a precursor of modern military intelligence by building an espionage network that was based on female spies, runaway slaves, living in Confederate territory, all of which was largely financed by the capture of Confederate cotton.
In this way, Durant took advantage of the North's military efforts to develop his businesses and with the amassed fortune he tried to create an Investment Bank for large-scale capital management following the example of the Credit Mobilier of Europe that financed railways in Paris. Durant purchased the Pennsylvania Fiscal Agency, and changed its name to Credit Mobilier America, which was one of the first to benefit from the new limited liability financial structures that were the origin of trusts and cartels. But Durant violated the Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 by using his control of Crédit Mobilier to become the majority shareholder of UP, and his company Credit Mobilier America became associated with corruption and fraud, bribery of congressmen, and speculation. stock market. This cost Durant his job and bankrupted UP, which was reorganized as the Union Pacific Railroad under the control of businessman Jay Gould.
Fabulous enrichment in the midst of the Civil War
In the analysis of how the "Eastern Stabilishment" emerged in the Civil War, we find a carefully propagated myth that the vast majority of men who became rich since the second half of the 19th century were from poor and immigrant families, of low social level. , and they had reached the highest level of the social and economic scale with their exclusive effort, thanks to the opportunities offered by a democratic and egalitarian society. This story has nothing to do with reality. All these stories that speak of the self- sacrificing businessman who, thanks to will, effort and sacrifice, emerges from poverty and reaches great fortune have been refuted by the reality of history and recent research, which allows us to verify that the vast majority of Members of the "Eastern Stabilishment" they were a small group of unscrupulous businessmen who set out to amass enormous fortunes by taking advantage of the public money offered by the Lincoln Administration.
These economic groups already existed when the war broke out, and they put their personal benefit as a priority through manipulation, speculation, scams, and super-exploitation of workers and the weakest. His modus operandi was based on bribes and all types of fraudulent maneuvers in the midst of the tragedy that the country was experiencing with thousands of deaths, heroic actions, suffering and destruction that the people suffered in the midst of the War.
At the cost of this suffering, and with the protection of the state, a very wealthy oligarchy emerged, with many businessmen who were already rich, but who by the time the Civil War ended boasted fortunes a thousand times greater. This is how Howard Zinn explains it: " Although some billionaires started from scratch, in the vast majority of cases this was not the case. A study of the origins of 303 executives in the textile, railroad and steel industries - in the 1870s - showed that 90% came from middle or upper class families. Stories like those described in the book "From Rags to Riches" by Horatio Alger were true in some cases, but usually they were a myth - a myth useful to Most fortunes were made legally, with the collaboration of the government and the courts...Thomas Edison promised vain New Jersey politicians $1,000 each in exchange for favorable legislation. Daniel Drew and Jay Gould spent a million dollars bribing the New York legislature to legalize their issuance of "inflated shares" (which do not represent their real value)" (7)
Abraham Lincoln himself began to observe the problem, and many of his reflections and concerns on this issue were evident in letters such as the one he sent to his friend Colonel William F. Elkins on November 21, 1864 where he says: "We can congratulate ourselves that this cruel war is coming to an end. It has cost a great deal of money and blood... It has indeed been an hour of trial for the Republic; but I see in the near future a crisis that unnerves me and makes me tremble. for the security of my country. As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will strive to prolong its reign by working on the prejudices of the people until all the wealth is concentrated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxious for the safety of my country than ever, even in the midst of war. May God grant that my fears may be in vain " (8)
Lincoln's fears were not in vain. Lincoln was a leader who promoted capitalism, and was even himself a lawyer for railroad companies, at a time when capitalism in the United States was weak, and so fragile that capitalists and workers practically did not exist. One in every seven or eight people in the population was a capitalist or worker while the overwhelming majority lived "autonomously" on their own farms and estates. Lincoln had to promote capitalist development, and at the same time he had to win the war, both goals were interrelated, and that is why he put all the resources of the state at the service of those objectives. But at the same time, Lincoln began to be horrified by the creature that emerged as a result of the measures that his own administration promoted.
What caused Lincoln's concern was the emergence of enormous companies that were beginning to dominate the entire economy, an unexpected result for him, but logical from the laws of capitalist accumulation. This is how he developed the railway industry, this branch of production continued to advance ceaselessly and became the pole of accumulation at that time of the country's capitalist development. We have seen the development of companies like PC and UP. Now we will see the development of the Kansas Pacific Railway (PK) which was authorized by the laws of the Lincoln Administration linking Kansas City with Nebraska, and using as a base of its operations the old railroad known as the Leavenworth, Pawnee and Western Railway. PK was reorganized in 1863 as the Union division of the Eastern Pacific, and also featured large land grants along its main line.
In fact, during its construction, William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody went down in history and stood out by providing buffalo meat to the company by hunting these animals. Jay Gould, a businessman from New York, ended up taking control of this railway line after amassing a fortune in the railway business when he was appointed manager of the Rensselaer and Saratoga Railroad in 1863. But these fortunes were amassed at the cost of enormous confrontations and struggles between capitalists: Cornelious Vandervilt, Daniel Drew, James Fisk and Jay Gould had bitter disputes for control of the railroad business, in what was called "The Erie War", that is , the fight for control of the Erie Railroad.
Daniel Drew speculated on the New York Stock Exchange against Vanderbilt to gain control of several lines of the Erie railroad, and came to possess a personal fortune estimated at 13 million dollars, but he went bankrupt in the midst of enormous and dangerous maneuvers. financial. Drew is popularly credited with creating what would be called on Wall Street "watered stocks" whose prices are inflated. Even Drew resorted to maneuvers such as forging stock certificates to realize his fortune. James Fisk was a Vermont businessman who obtained cunning contracts with the army during the Civil War and together with Jay Gould took financial maneuvers to extremes of bribing legislatures, buying judges, and speculative operations with gold.
Joseph Seligman was a prominent banker and businessman who, from his company J. & W. Seligman & Co., collaborated financially with the Union, helping to carry out a huge, million-dollar bond placement for the Lincoln Administration. Some historians estimate the placement at nearly $200 million a feat that historian and diplomat W.E. Dodd said was "scarcely less important than the Battle of Gettysburg ." Like all tycoons of the time, he invested heavily in railroad companies, acting as an intermediary in transactions designed by Jay Gould. In the postwar period he joined forces with Vandervilt to create public services in New York, earned the friendship of President Ulysses S. Grant who offered him the position of Secretary of the Treasury, and was key in the restructuring of the federal government's debts, since His plan was accepted by the administration of President Rutherford Hayes in 1877.
Andrew Carnegie was a Pennsylvania businessman trained in the Pennsylvania Railroad Co. by his boss Thomas Scott, who together with the company's president J. Edgar Thomson, organized businesses within the company, which allowed him to slowly accumulate capital with commercial operations. and opportunities available. Thomas Scott was appointed Undersecretary of War in charge of military transportation by the Lincoln Administration, and he in turn appointed Carnegie in 1861 Superintendent of the Military Railways and Telegraph Lines of the Union Government in the East. Carnegie forged his fortune from his position in the Ministry of War, which allowed him, due to his close relationship with Scott, to carry out maneuvers such as the creation of companies to provide the railway industry with rails and bridges, or the ownership of shares of those companies to secure a participation in them.
Taking advantage of its advantageous position, the Civil War was an excellent opportunity that allowed Carnegie to set up a factory that manufactured rails for railway laying, and in this way supply the Department of Transportation with all the orders placed by it. The Union military effort required vast supplies of munitions, railroads, and telegraph lines, which led to enormous demand for iron products such as gunboat armor, cannons, guns, rails, and a hundred other industrial products. made Pittsburgh a wartime production center.
Carnegie worked in establishing steel rolling and production which became the source of his fortune. After the war, Carnegie left the railroads to devote himself to the steel industry and although he had left the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, he remained closely connected with its management, that is, with his former partners Thomas A. Scott and J. Edgar Thomson. Since the railroad was a large consumer of steel rails, these connections brought enormous profits to Carnegie that formed the basis of the future Carnegie Steel Co. of Pittsburgh in the state of Pennsylvania, a company that provided all kinds of steel inputs. to the railways.
By 1889 US steel production surpassed that of Britain, and Carnegie owned a large share of it. But Carnegie's methods were brutal. The
horrible death of 2,209 people in 1889 due to the flood that caused the
exclusive Johnstown Hunting and Fishing Club, in Pennsylvania, weighs
on him. The club was made
up of some of the most renowned magnates such as Andrew Mellon, and
included an old canal backed up by a dam that was not properly
maintained. The dam gave
way and twenty million tons of water swept through the valley causing
the Johnstown flood that killed over 2,000 people.
The Homestead Strike of 1892 was a bloody labor confrontation that lasted 143 days in 1892, and was one of the most serious in history. The conflict centered on Carnegie Steel's main plant in Homestead, Pennsylvania. Emerging from a dispute between the United National Association of Metallurgists and Steelworkers and the Carnegie Steel Company, it was a bloody massacre of workers in which Henry Clay Frick, Carnegie's partner, played an important role, bringing thousands of strikebreakers to work in the steel factories. and hired thugs who savagely repressed the workers, killing 10 men and wounding hundreds.
Henry Clay Frick was Carnegie's partner in the formation of the giant Carnegie Steel Company. He was president of the company, financed the construction of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and all of this allowed him to own extensive real estate holdings in Pittsburgh and throughout the state of Pennsylvania. Frick also adopted brutal methods to obtain his personal fortune and had responsibility alongside Carnegie in both the events at Homestead and the Johnstown Fishing and Hunting Club. Among labor activists and representatives of the working class, Frick's actions against the strikers were condemned, leading an anarchist group to carry out the attempt on Frick's life. But the brutal methods were not only Frick's, but all the magnates of the time, a decisive "modus operandi" when it came to building their fortunes, which is why magnates like Andrew Carnegie required the services of thugs.
Carnegie Steel Co. was renamed United Steel Co. when it was sold to JP Morgan for $480 million, an impressive fortune for the time, after which Carnegie retired. Among the business leaders of the four large groups that emerged after the Civil War, Cornelious Vanderbilt was already a wealthy businessman when the war began and his economic empire was built around the naval industry. He conducted ferry and shipping businesses in New York, acquired the Staten Island Ferry, purchased a large amount of real estate in Manhattan and Staten Island, and acquired control of the large shipyard Allaire Iron Works.
When the gold rush broke out in California, he changed regional steamship lines for ocean steamers, and promoted the continental crossing through Central America that he initially designed to cross through Nicaragua, and then ended up promoting through Panama. During the Civil War, "Commodore" Vanderbilt, as he was called, made enormous profits by providing the Government with the war fleet destined to confront the South. He first attempted to donate his largest steamship to the Union Navy, but Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles refused, thinking operating and maintaining it was too expensive for a war he hoped would be short.
But when the Confederate battleship Virginia devastated the Union fleet, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and President Abraham Lincoln asked Vanderbilt for help, and Vanderbilt donated a ram-equipped ship and staff with officers to the Union Navy. elected by Vendervilt, which allowed him to begin controlling the Union Navy. Although Vanderbilt was focused on the naval industry, his interest in railroads intensified with the great business that the measures of the Lincoln Administration meant. From there Vandervilt sold his last warehouses, and concentrated on railroads, an industry in which he had some experience since he had been president of the Stonington railroad during the California gold rush and president of the Harlem railroad. . Vandervilt took control of the Hudson River Railway, the New York Central Railway, the Michigan Southern Railway, and also the Canadian Railway, forming one of the first giant corporations in the country's history.
After the conflict with Drew, Glould and Fisk in the so-called " Erie War", Vanderbilt consolidated his wealth and at the time of his death he had a fortune estimated at 100 million dollars, which updating the data in today's prices would make him the 2nd richest person in history after Rockefeller. John David Rockefeller was an Ohio oil businessman. By the time the Civil War began kerosene and gasoline were growing in importance in replacing whale oil as fuel which had become too expensive for the masses, so a cheaper lighting and general purpose fuel was needed. Both kerosene and gasoline were beginning to occupy that place, but when Vandervilt contacted Rockefeller to ensure the supply of fuel to his enormous railroad industry, the exponential growth of the railroad business was unleashed with the Civil War, and the wealth of the Rockefeller group soared.
Rockefeller had built an oil refinery in the industrial area of Cleveland, and like the other great businessmen he had collaborated with the cause of the Union and the growth of his fortune with the Civil War allowed him to build another refinery in Cleveland next to his partners chemist Samuel Andrews and businessman Henry M Flagler. Thus, the company Rockefeller, Andrews & Flagler was established as the owner of two refineries in Cleveland and a marketing subsidiary in New York, predecessors of the Standard Oil Company. By the end of the Civil War, Cleveland was one of the top 5 refining centers that included cities and regions such as Pittsburgh, New York, and the region in northwestern Pennsylvania, where most of the oil originated.
Rockefeller founded Standard Oil in 1870 in Ohio, associated with his brother William, Henry Flagler, Jabez A. Bostwick, chemist Samuel Andrews and Stephen V. Harkness. Standard Oil grew to become one of the largest distributors of petroleum and kerosene in the country. Rockefeller also attempted to monopolize the railroads with the South Improvement Company (SIC), creating a cartel to control freight rates, which broke out fights between independent oil producers and other railroad companies.
Businessmen Charles Pratt and Henry Rogers led opposition to Rockefeller's plan, and Pennsylvania revoked the cartel's charter, which was a setback for Rockefeller. However, Rockefeller continued with his operations and maneuvers of all kinds to undermine the competition and in 1872 he achieved in less than four months what later became known as "The Cleveland Conquest" or "The Cleveland Massacre ", in which Standard Oil absorbed 22 of its 26 Cleveland competitors, causing Pratt and Rogers to see the futility of continuing to compete against Standard Oil and make a secret deal with their former enemy to become Rockefeller partners.
Rogers, in particular, became one of Rockefeller's key men in the formation of the Standard Oil Trust, a huge company that went on to refine more than 90% of the oil in the US with a vast empire that included 20,000 wells. , 4,000 miles of pipelines, 5,000 tank cars, and more than 100,000 employees.
Henry H. Rogers later became Vice President of the Standard Oil Company and went on to dominate the mining industry after he acquired control of the Anaconda Copper Company in Butte, Montana. In turn, National City Bank's deposits had now reached over $100 million dollars, dwarfing all other institutions in the country, including Morgan Bank, which began to dwarf its side. William C. Whitney was a businessman who had become a large shareholder in Standard Oil, had secured control of the Consolidated Gas Co. of New York, acquired control of several competing gas companies, and then merged with the Edison Illuminating Company of New York, with which Rockefeller came to control all the lighting companies in New York City. The Rockefeller business group expanded from the mega-corporations Standard Oil and Citibank to include the fortunes of the Whitney, Paynes, Flaglers, Rogers, Bedfords, Pratts, Pierces, Archibalds, Folgers, and Chesebroughs families among others.
Also linked to the Rockefeller group is James Jewett Stillman, a real estate, banking and railroad businessman born in Texas, who became president of Citibank. The center of Stillman's fortune would also be the development of the railroad industry, and along with William Averell Harriman, Jacob Henry Schiff, and William Rockefeller, brother of John Rockefeller, Stillman controlled Texas railroads including the Texas Pacific Railway, the Sothern Pacific, the Great Northern Railway, the Union Pacific South, the St Louis Bronswille and Mexico Railway, and the Mexican National Railway. In 1876 Stillman supported the coup d'état against Porfirio Díaz in defense of his economic interests in Mexico, which implied the development of a tendency for these large business groups to develop as a factor in inducing foreign policies for the State Department.
exponential growth of his fortune made Rockefeller the richest man in
the world with a net worth of $1 billion, which makes him the richest
person in history at today's prices. The
economic and political weight of the Rockefeller group was evident in
the fact that from its political base, the state of Ohio, from the Civil
War to the First World War over 12 presidents of the United States, 7
emerged from Ohio. Grant, Hayes, Gardfield, Harrison, Mc Kinley, Taft, and Harding emerged from Ohio. Just
as Virginia had placed the first 5 presidents as an expression of the
weight of the Manufacturing bourgeoisie after the 1st North American
Revolution, Ohio placed all those presidents after the 2nd North
American Revolution, but already as an expression of the emergence of
the monopolistic bourgeoisie.
The Rockefeller clan also based its fortune on acts of cruelty and barbarity such as the Ludlow massacre, when in 1913 Rockefeller thugs killed women and children for joining a strike at the Rockefeller group's Colorado Oil and Fuel company. Rockefeller's brutal methods were brought to public view by Ida Tarbell, a suffrage writer and investigative journalist and women's rights advocate who documented how the Rockefeller group used espionage tactics, company wars, with pricing, heavy-handed marketing tactics, and judicial evasions in his book "The History of the Standard Oil Company" which was published by McClure magazine between 1902 and 1904. There, 35 years after the Civil War , Tarbell portrayed Rockefeller as moody, miserable, money-hungry, and brutally effective at monopolizing the oil trade.
The House of Morgan and England's investments
The explosion of the railway industry, the need for financing by the Union government to win the war, the high input requirements for the war industry such as transportation, energy, and money are the material elements that allowed the development of all these industries and They made it possible for these large economic groups to emerge. We have seen how the Civil War demanded naval transportation, and especially land transportation, which made the railway "boom" possible. Then we have seen how energy, kerosene, gasoline, oil, petroleum and coal were demanded, which made the oil " boom" possible.
We have also seen how all industries required metals and mining, which made the steel " boom" possible. Now we will see how the Civil War also demanded another fundamental element: Huge amounts of money. Here we are going to analyze how the Morgan group emerged, and how the Civil War boosted its fortune based on the money requirements that the Lincoln Administration and the Northern states had to carry out to cover the expenses of the war effort. In the case of the House of Morgan, another element that must be taken into account when evaluating how its fortune was made is the question of how there was a growing interest for great English capital to invest in the United States, and how the enormous flow of capital that came from England developed.
This flow of capital had among its main negotiators the financier George Peabody who settled in London around 1837 as explained by John Moody, founder of the credit rating house Moody's Investors in his work "Masters of Capital" of 1920 : " In London, the world's leading financial center, George Peabody represents the largest and most profitable field for capital investment, the American continent...Literally millions of square kilometers of the richest land for agriculture and minerals were there. For English and continental capital this prospect was the dream of the time. This opportunity never existed in England or the old countries. England's natural resources...the rich agricultural lands and rural areas...for centuries had been in the possession of a rich landowning class; labor could not be applied to them and the modern generation of capitalists did not find extraordinary opportunities for the production of wealth. In this way English capital inevitably turned towards the United States...There was little capital...The speculative era in the United States had not yet arrived, and, although manufacturing had begun, it was still, in the fourth decade of the century XIX, a nation of planters and farmers" (9)
Peabody was a businessman from Massachusetts who established himself as Peabody & Riggs Co. in the city of Baltimore, which in those years was a center of commerce with intense activity in the African-American slave trade, and closely linked to London in many businesses such as purchase of American cotton in Lancashire with the help of the House of William and James Brown, one of the oldest investment houses in the United States. When Peabody arrived in London, European capitalists were fighting for control of American companies, and Peabody He became an agent for English investments, with which he amassed a fortune of 20 million dollars, after which he retired, rejecting the title offered to him by Queen Victoria.
The investments that Peabody developed required the services of American agents, one of which was the Boston firm of J.Morgan & Beebe Co headed by Junius S. Morgan, father of John Pierpont Morgan. Peabody convinced Morgan to join him in London and they formed a partnership with Peabody, Morgan & Co., in which both financiers established businesses around the sale of securities issued by US railroads, and based on relationships commercials with Baron Nathan Mayer Rothschild, London representative of the Rothschild banking house. Peabody and Morgan worked together until Peabody's retirement, after which the house took the name JP Morgan & Co. Until before the Civil War, the world of European finance had tried to penetrate the United States, but it was the outbreak of the Civil War, which caused an explosion of investments and the rise of great fortunes. The event that caused this change was the issuance of securities by Abraham Lincoln's government, which was seen by the world of finance as an immense business opportunity.
This is how John Moody explains it: "...while
Dabney, Morgan and Company were still doing a quiet banking business, a
financial operation of great magnitude had been carried out in America.
It was the IPO of the American Civil War debt ...This debt had been
placed largely through Jay Cooke, a Philadelphia banker... Thus, the
house of Jay Cooke & Co...had accumulated very strong overseas
connections. During the period of the During the Civil War, English
capital as a whole had not flowed very freely to the Northern States.
Tied to the South by the long-standing ties of its cotton trade, English
capital was at first more inclined to purchase Confederate bonds. than
Union bonds. The Germans, however, as a whole were more understanding
towards the North, like the vast majority of German immigrants who after
the revolt of 1848 were northerners and firm supporters of the Union"
Located in Philadelphia, the Jay Cooke & Co. House collaborated with the state of Pennsylvania, which borrowed $3 million to finance its war efforts. In the early months of the war Cooke worked with Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase to obtain loans from leading bankers in Northern cities, and had a successful operation selling 5- and 20-year Treasury bonds, authorized by Congress on February 25, 1862 with a sales commission of 0.5% of the income of the first 10 million dollars, and 0.375% of subsequent bonuses.
Although Cooke's bond drives were widely praised as a patriotic contribution to the Union cause, his enormous personal financial gains did not go unnoticed, he was accused of corruption, and Representative Charles A. Train proposed an investigation into the Treasury Committee. that never prospered. Jay Cooke was heavily involved in financial scandals with the Government of Canada, and his financial dealings ended up bankrupting the House of Cooke. However, after the issuance of bonds to finance the Civil War by the states and the federal government, there was a jump in the flow of capital from Europe, and especially from England to the United States. It was the Civil War that made that flow possible and unleashed battles for control of that enormous business as Moody explains : "A sharp contest arose between the Cooke interests...and the Drexel-Morgan interests to secure contracts for government financing. In this contest Cooke and his party won...so successfully that the Rothschilds offered themselves as Cooke's partners in future ventures" (11)
In the flow of English and European capital to the United States, a fundamental role was played by the House of Rothschild, which was the most important capitalist financial institution in Europe between the 18th and 19th centuries. The House of Rothschild had arisen in 1743 when Amschel Moses Bauer, a goldsmith by profession, opened a coin shop in Frankfurt from which he carried out the exchange business. On the door of the coin shop he hung a red shield, "Rothschild" as they say in German, a word that over time became the patronymic of this family. Mayer's children settled in the most important capitalist countries in Europe to develop the businesses of the House of Rothschild, opening branches in London, Vienna, and Paris.
The House of Rothschild had extensive accumulated experience in the war financing business, thus Nathan Mayer Rothschild had settled in London where he developed the negotiation of bills of exchange and the organization of foreign loans, achieving his largest and most important undertaking when he and his brothers were commissioned by the British government to finance the Napoleonic Wars and help defeat Napoleon. Nathan arranged a loan of 5,000,000 pounds to the Prussian government, and for more than a century, he raised funds for governments around the world through the issuance of bonds, which formed the core of the Rothschild business. Through the creation of a network of agents, messengers and transporters, the bank was able to provide funds to the armies of the Duke of Wellington in Portugal and Spain.
Jakob Mayer Rothschild established a banking house in Paris where he founded the Rothschild Fréres banking institution, thus becoming one of the most important financiers and advisor to the kings. Jakob financed the construction of railways and mines, and helped France overcome the crisis after the defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. Solomon Mayer Rothschild established a branch in Vienna where the family was already active in imperial finance, being one of the main financiers of the Metternich regime, thanks to whom he was elevated to the nobility by the Emperor of Austria. With the Austrian Empire's interests in Italy strengthening, Carl Mayer Rothschild established business in Naples, and the House of Rothschild financed the business of selling Austrian soldiers in European wars, as well as financing railways, engineering and foundries. Rothschild & Figli's CM bank arranged substantial loans to the Papal States, several kings of Naples, the Duchy of Parma and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.
NMRothschild & Sons, the flagship company of the House of Rothschild, became one of the most important brokers of the Bank of England's gold bullion in the capitalist world. NMRothschild & Sons for more than 100 years operated the Royal Mint in London refining and smelting gold for the Bank of England and other international clients. A House like Rothschild, with extensive experience in the business of issuing securities and bonds to finance the war, could not miss the business opportunity that the US Civil War meant. Hence the issuance of papers of the state carried out by the Northern states and the Lincoln Administration was an important part of its business portfolio. The House of Morgan also remained in the war bond business of the Lincoln Administration, but in a minority capacity. Only when the Jay Cooke House &Co. failed, and went bankrupt, leaving the field for large financial operations entirely in the hands of the Drexel-Morgan-Morton partners who came to control the flow of financial operations via London of the House of Rothschild.
The House of Morgan's control of the London route of capital flow with London was clearly established when Vanderbilt, president and main shareholder of the New York Central Railroad decided to carry out a massive stock sale. Vandervilt was beset by investigations, popular discredit over his enormous fortune, and battles with Jay Gould for control of the railroad business. Feeling in a very compromised situation, Vandervilt turned to Morgan for financial advice, since he could not make a massive sale on Wall Street because he could raise suspicions.
So it was that Morgan devised and sold the shares secretly in London without disturbing the American stock markets, which allowed John Pierpont Morgan, favored by his connections with the large financial groups of the European continent, to obtain in the operation of selling the shares of Vandervilt a profit of more than 3 million dollars. While businessmen such as Edward Henry "Ned" Harriman, a railroad executive at the Union Pacific company, amassed their fortunes based on the development of the railroad industry, the House of JP Morgan did so based on the financial industry, and after the Civil War it established itself as one of the most important business groups in the country.
The influx of investment exploded the railroad industry and caused a construction "boom" of thousands of miles of railroad tracks, regardless of whether they were needed or not. This railway "boom" was carried out anarchically, without planning, in a completely irrational manner, obeying the needs of the war and motivated by the "fever" of profits, which caused a deep crisis in the industry. A significant part of the railways built were out of use, not all of them were profitable, and more than double the railway lines that the country really needed had been built. Around this "boom" thousands of shares had been issued that were now devalued, generating a crisis among investors.
The case of Cornelious Vandervilt was a warning, and JPMorgan's management in rescuing Vandervilt left it with the prestige of becoming the "savior" institution for companies in crisis. This is how John Moody explains it: "The financing of American railroads had hitherto been left largely in the hands of developers, whose primary interest had been the construction of as much railroad as possible, regardless of whether there was a need for it or not." ...Most of the older systems were carried out with the idea of more extreme more kilometers, more and more branches, more and more parallel lines. By the early eighties about twice as many railway lines had been built, and about four times the amount of securities that the country could pay on dividend interest had been issued... Thousands of these investors in Great Britain, on the continent, and in the eastern part of the United States...of " (12)
Morgan specialized in buying troubled companies, reorganizing their business structures and management to make them profitable again. His reputation as a banker and financier was already so high that it helped him attract the interest of investors, which allowed him not only to manage the restructuring of almost the entire railway industry, but in the process, he began to control a large part of she. In addition, JPMorgan was key in the merger of Edison General Electric & the Thompson-Houston Electric Company that gave rise to the General Electric Company, as well as the founding of the International Mercantile Marine company.
The House of Morgan carried out the merger of the Carnegie Steel Company with several other iron and steel companies to form United Steel Co. As John Moody explains: " Having thus brought together all the important steel interests of the country, Morgan launched the United States Steel Corporation. The market capitalization was more than a billion dollars...The great merger dominated by Morgan brought into his orbit...big names including HH Rogers and Daniel O'Day of the Standard Oil; Marshall Field, William H. Moore, James H. Moore, Elbert H. Gary, John W. Gates, H.H. Porter, and Norman B. Ream, of Chicago; Samuel Mather of Cleveland; Nathaniel Thayer of Boston; and Daniel G. Reid, Henry C. Frick, Charles M. Schwab, and D. Mills, of New York. So under the control of a single corporation was 70% of the American iron and steel industry" (13)
The House of Morgan was instrumental in financing the US Treasury itself, which had run out of gold in its reserves in 1895 at the lowest economic point following the economic depression of 1893. President Grover Cleveland reached an agreement with Morgan to provide the United States Treasury with 65 million dollars in gold, half from him and Europe, to issue treasury debt that would recover the treasury coffers to a surplus of 100 million. The episode saved the treasury, but politically damaged President Cleveland, who was accused of associating with the bankers, and Morgan and the rest of the bankers were attacked for the terms of their gold loan to the federal government.
of Morgan included having caused New York's financial crisis, and to
defend itself the House of Morgan intensified its efforts to consolidate
its political influence in the state by donating heavily to Republican
candidate William McKinley, who was elected in 1896 and re-elected in
1900. This growth in the political influence of the House of Morgan was
possible due to the emergence of important leaders who joined the boards
of directors of the companies and acted as "brains" in the design of the group's maneuvers.
An extraordinarily important personality was Thomas W. Lamont, a de facto consul on the Board of High Finance of the House of Morgan. Consulted by presidents, prime ministers, and central bank governors, Lamont was a true mastermind of JP Morgan & Co. Throughout the post-World War I period he was a mentor to Woodrow Wilson in Wilson's second government, as well as the President Herbert Hoover when the Great Depression hit. The development of the House of Morgan included control of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T), a company that, according to Ferdinand Lundberg in his work " The 60 Families", exceeds in value the wealth of 21 states of the Union combined.
The most hated "Robber Barons"
In short, the great magnates did not emerge as a result of their "personal effort and sacrifice", but rather from making all kinds of fraudulent maneuvers, which they can only carry out due to their multiple links with the government or parliamentarians. These magnates were hated because their fortunes were the product of great frauds, maneuvers, scams and brutal methods, which had caused serious damage to the economy and the population. They flaunted their palaces, fortunes and living standards of princes in the midst of the overwhelming poverty that enveloped the majority of the people. Their lifestyle, history and profile began to be the subject of the press, which specialized in their study and criticism, and the literature of the time began to call them with a derogatory term, that is " Robber Barons".
This term appeared in periodicals beginning with the August 1870 issue of The Atlantic Monthly magazine, which began to show how these large groups had obtained their fortunes through control over national resources, taking advantage of the use of high levels of influence. of government and officials. The Atlantic Monthly and much specialized literature of the time painted a picture of the Robber Barons, their methods of super-exploitation of workers and the payment of extremely low wages, how they crushed the competition, their use of maneuvers and methods of fraud through selling securities at inflated prices to unsuspecting investors.
The term "Robber Barons" combines the criminal and illegal meaning ("thief") with that of the aristocracy ( "baron" ), and although it points to great fortunes amassed by capitalists in reality the term "Robber Barons" had its origin in The Middle Ages and derives from the medieval German lords who collected illegal tolls, not authorized by the Roman emperor, on the primitive roads from passers-by who wanted to cross their lands or from ships crossing the Rhine. They were the practices of a group of landowners without scruples and despotics of the medieval period who hijacked goods from caravans and river traffic in the midst of the vast and remote expanses of the Holy Roman Empire. At that time there were hardly any roads, and the feudal lords, including the archbishops who had fiefs from the emperor, collected money from passing ships and caravans to reinforce their finances.
The "Robber Barons " that emerged in the United States after the Civil War had a number of paid biographers who sought to change the corrupt and despotic image of the capitalist magnates, which produced over the decades a significant number of employed writers. to tell a rosy story of the life of the magnates to the people, taking advantage of the lack of knowledge of the new generations and the ignorance of a part of the masses. For example, Ron Chernow titles the voluminous biography of John D. Rockefeller with the name "Titan" , and represents him as an almost heroic character. The popular hatred of the "Robber Barons" was enormous in those times, because it was a caste that in the midst of disputes moved like a true team and helped each other in solidarity. The offspring of powerful marriages married each other so that family fortunes did not spread, ensuring that those who held power at the end of the 19th century constituted a true corporation.
The association was produced through business development and mega-mergers, but wealth was also constantly reinforced by the arrangements of marriages between its members. Joint fortunes have been passed on to children and in turn couples have been established with the progeny of other wealthy groups. Marriages took place between impoverished European nobles and "nouveau riche" Americans, but marriages between wealthy Americans were six to seven times more significant, and so traditional family estates were protected from dispersal by a system of marriage trusts.
The social influence of the traditional elites was also perpetuated, thanks to the educational institutions they founded. The aristocracy of the Northeast founded all kinds of universities and educational institutions, select New England schools that began to educate an upper class that came from all over the country. These institutions taught the children of the new and the old rich, and in this way the family was now subordinated, as a social unit, to the institutions created by it to assume its functions. This strictly legal process was first used by Boston's traditional elite in the 1820s and was fully developed beginning in the 1880s. It became a precious instrument for many traditional upper-class families by allowing them to preserve their heritage and in a certain sense, place fortunes as the collective property of the entire family,
Another instrument developed by all these economic groups dominated by the great magnates was philanthropy. The development of philanthropic activities was widely developed by magnates for the "moral legitimation" of family dynasties, in addition to growing influence and prestige. Philanthropy
was presented by biographers paid by the magnates and families of large
economic groups as an example of their kindness and conduct for the
benefit of the poorest and most dispossessed. Nothing further from reality. The
legislation passed by successive governments allowed large fortunes to
evade taxes, launder money, hide scams and obtain refunds of profits and
large sums of money through philanthropic activities.
All these activities were presented to society as an act of humanity, of benefactors determined for the "common good", but they sought to hide the true corrupt face of a very powerful and dangerous oligarchy, whose fortunes reached heights never reached by any other oligarchy in the world. many existing in the history of humanity. And this was just the beginning of a process that developed even more profoundly in the 20th century.
The greatest riches in modern history
It may seem at first glance that the riches that emerged in the United States of America after the end of the Civil War are simple fortunes of groups of opportunistic businessmen who were able to capitalize on businesses derived from the war. But the story doesn't end there. Viewed from a historical perspective and carrying out comparative work, the fortunes emerging from the Civil War continued to develop and reach peaks of magnitude that have no parallel in the history of humanity. The Bourbons, the Hohenzollerns, the Hausburgs, the Capets, the Romanovs, or the Stuarts, the Hanovers, or the Tudors, any of these powerful oligarchies from different centuries of history that boasted enormous wealth, pale next to the Morgans, Carnegie , Mellon, or Rockefeller.
As Ferdinand Lundberg explains :
"Today's prominent American landowners historically stand above the
proud aristocracy that surrounded Louis XIV, Tsar Nicholas, Kaiser
Wilhelm, and Emperor Joseph Francis, and wield far greater power. The
Power of Cardinal Richelieu , Metternich, Bismarck, or Disraeli was not
greater than that of the...JP Morgan, Andrew W. Mellon, John D.
Rockefeller, Henry Ford, and Du Pont" (14) Drawing a comparative table, the calculations show the reality of great fortunes: "Mr.
Rockefeller's personal income in 1924 may have been from $30 million to
$50 million. The annual income of the last Tsar of Russia varied from
only $10 million to $12 million. For the most part of the income of the
King of England is 4 million 500 thousand dollars...A wealthy aristocrat
of Europe until the First World War was Archduke Frederick of Austria,
whose assets before 1914 were valued as high as 750 million dollars...
but no oligarchy either European or Asian has been as rich as that of
Rockefeller, Ford, Harkness, Vanderbilt, Mellon and the Du Pont family
of America" (15)
In the years that followed after the Civil War, the entire process of development of great capitalist wealth continued to unfold and great fortunes proliferated, such as that of James Buchanan Duke, a businessman in the tobacco industry who introduced the modern manufacturing and marketing of tobacco products. cigarettes and came to control the industry by consolidating control of its four main competitors into a single corporate entity, the American Tobacco Company.
Marshall Field was a businessman who founded Marshall Field & Co. of Chicago, based in department stores, from which slogans emerged that became universal, such as "Give the lady what she wants" and "The customer is always right." Field, who was a very active member of the Chicago Commerce Club and the Jekyll Island Club also known as "The Millionaires Club" on Jekyll Island in the state of Georgia, confronted the workers and prohibited unionization among his employees, in addition to harshly facing major labor struggles such as the Haymarket riot and the Teamsters strike in 1905. Other magnates who emerged in this period were John Warne Gates, also known as "Bet-a-Million" Gates , a pioneer promoter of barbed wire, which he organized the Consolidated Steel and Wire Company in 1888 sold to JP Morgan in 1901; and Charles T. Hinde who managed numerous companies in the river shipping, transportation, railroad, and hotel businesses. For almost 50 years Hinde had already amassed a large fortune through his work in the steamboat and railroad industries.
Andrew Mellon was a banker and businessman from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania who became one of the richest people in the United States. In the 20th century he became the 3rd highest income taxpayer behind Rockefeller and Henry Ford, and served as US Ambassador to Great Britain and Secretary of the Treasury. Mellon amassed his fortune from managing his father's banking firm T. Mellon & Sons, which helped organize the Union Trust Company and the Union Savings Bank of Pittsburgh. As he gained control of those companies he created giant aluminum, industrial abrasives, and coke corporations around the Aluminum Co. of America, Westinghouse, and Mellon Bank.
His wealth peaked at around $300 to $400 million following his tenure as director of the National Bank of Commerce of Pittsburgh, and Secretary of the Treasury in the administration of President Warren Harding in 1921, a position in which he continued through the administrations of Coolidge, and Hoover. From these important government positions, Mellon was a promoter of the reduction of income taxes for the rich, a key negotiator on Germany's war debt, and French debts to the United States.
The influx of English capital continued and deepened in this period in which Nathan Rothschild's eldest son, Lionel, succeeded him as director of the bank in London, and under his direction financed the British government for the purchase of shares in the Canal de Suez to Egypt. Even in the later generation Lionel's son Alfred de Rothschild became director of the Bank of England, and in the 20th century he represented the British Government at the International Monetary Conference in Brussels. The House of Rothschild played an important role in the development of mining exploitation of base metals such as copper and nickel, and supported the company " The Exploration Company" to search for sources of minerals around of the world. Rothschild financed the De Beers business group founded in 1888 by the British businessman Cecil Rhodes to invest in the exploitation of precious stones in Africa and India, with the development of the British South Africa Co.
Steel magnate Charles Michael Schwab of Williamsburgh, Pennsylvania controlled the Bethlehem Steel company, which became the second largest steel manufacturer in the country, and one of the largest steel manufacturers in the world. He began his career as an engineer for Carnegie Steel, from where he was promoted to the positions of general superintendent of the Homestead Works in 1886 and general superintendent of the Edgar Thompson Steel Works in 1889. At only 35 years of age he became president of the steel giant, a position from which he helped negotiate the secret sale of Carnegie Steel to JP Morgan, after which he became the first president of United Steel Co.
After several clashes with Morgan and fellow executive Elbert Gary, Schwab left United Steel & Co. in 1903 to launch a Pennsylvania shipbuilding and steel company called Bethlehem Steel & Co. After acquiring shipyards in California, Delaware and New Jersey, Bethlehem Steel began making the beam that revolutionized building construction and made the age of the skyscraper possible. During the early years of World War I, Bethlehem Steel had a virtual monopoly on contracts to supply munitions to Allied governments, and it circumvented American neutrality laws by funneling goods through Canada.
Like all other magnates, he was a staunch enemy of labor organizations, and in 1910, he broke the Bethlehem Steel strike by appealing to the repression of the Pennsylvania State Police. John Diedrich Spreckels headed a transportation and real estate empire in San Diego, California, starting with his father's Spreckels Sugar Company, establishing trade between the US and the Hawaiian Islands with control of large sailing fleets, steamships, sugar refining companies, and later sugar plantations in Hawaii. Spreckels became a millionaire, and became the richest man in San Diego, owning much of Coronado Island, the San Diego-Coronado Ferry System, Union Tribune Publishing & Co., the San Diego Electric Railway, the San Diego & Arizona Railway, among others.
Charles Tyson Yerkes of Philadelphia was a mass transit entrepreneur in Chicago and the London Underground with Underground Electric Railways Co London. Yerkes was a controversial character, very bold in financial maneuvers who was imprisoned accused of fraud. He was a partner of Peter Arrell Brown Widener, a businessman who made his fortune supplying meat to the Union army and later turned his investments into public transportation, which allowed him to obtain interests in US Steel & Co., American Tobacco & Co., and Standard Oil.
Monopolies and the projection of fortunes from the 19th to the 20th century
Henry Bradley Plant, also a railroad entrepreneur in Florida in the post-Civil War, managed to control 14 railroad companies, several steamship lines, and a series of important hotels. Philip Armor Danforth founded the Chicago meatpacking firm Armor & Co., which took advantage of changing meat prices during and after the Civil War, achieving such a level of accumulated profits that it soon became the largest food processing factory. important in the world. Armor & Co. was the first company to produce canned meat and also one of the first to employ an "assembly line" technique in its factories.
The company had a great competition with Gustavus Swift for control of the meat packing and refrigeration industry, using every possible part of the animals to make products other than canned meat, such as fertilizers, glue, and pepsin. Armor was like all magnates an enemy of union organizations, he equipped militias to suppress labor actions, broke strikes, and put together blacklists of union leaders. Also a declared enemy of union organizations was John Cleveland Osgood, who founded the Colorado Fuel & Iron Co. Osgood argued that unions were a threat to the United States.
DuPont was founded in 1802 by Eleutere Irenee du Pont de Neumours, a businessman of French origin whose gunpowder company located in Delaware in the middle of the century was already the largest supplier of gunpowder in the country. Its business took a leap during the Civil War, as the company supplied half of the gunpowder used by the Union Army, and a huge capital buildup allowed the company to create laboratories that began working on non-military products such as cellulose or lacquer. In addition, the DuPont conglomerate extended its investments to the automobile industry and the massive purchase of General Motors shares, which allowed Pierre S. du Pont to become president of General Motors.
DuPont directed its research to polymers and hired Wallace Carothers, who discovered neoprene, nylon, plexiglass and Teflon in the first decades of the 20th century, a period during which the company continued to supply the army in both the First and Second World War. In the Second World War. In the 20th century, DuPont's collaboration with the Manhattan Project led to her being responsible for the plutonium production plant at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After the end of the wars, Du Pont continued to launch new materials such as synthetic fibers, or elastic fibers such as elastane known as LYCRA fiber, tyvek, nomex, all advances that were necessary for 20th century space programs, of which the DuPont conglomerate was a supplier.
Kuhn, Loeb & Co. was an investment bank founded in 1867 by Abraham Kuhn and Solomon Loeb under the leadership of Jacob H. Schiff, which grew to become one of the most influential investment banks of the late 19th century and early 20th century. twentieth century. Financing the expanding railroads and financing large companies such as Western Union and Westinhouse, made it the main rival of JP Morgan & Co. The company grew in importance during the railroad era, financing the Chicago and North in 1877. Western Railroad, in 1881 the Pennsylvania and Chicago Railroad, the Milwaukee, the St. Paul Railroad, and in 1897 the reorganization of the UP. As Howard Zinn explains: "... By the 1890s, most of the country's railroad travel was concentrated in six enormous systems. Of these six, four were controlled, in whole or in part, by the bankers Kuhn, Loeb and company..." (16)
Kuhn, Loeb & Co. was always associated with many industrial giants, providing financial support to Westinghouse, Western Union, and Polaroid Co. as well as numerous foreign governments, including the governments of Austria, Finland, Mexico, Japan, Imperial China, and Venezuela. It also acted as the leading investment house for the Rockefeller group which invested in many of the important companies. The firm joined with Rockefeller in 1911 to take control of the Equitable Trust Company, which later became Chase Bank, along with Otto Kahn, Paul and Felix Warburg, Mortimer Schiff, and Lewis Strauss among others. Kuhn's Loeb partners were closely related by marriage to the Seligmans, Goldman Sachs, and Lehman Brothers. Precisely, Jakob Heinrich Schiff acted as a banker financing Japan in the Russo-Japanese War, acting as a partner at Kuhn, Loeb & Co, after having served as a banker in charge of the Hamburg branch of the Hanseatic Bank.
these emerging fortunes in the 19th century developed even more
profoundly towards the 20th century, and thus expressed a profound
economic-social change that was taking place in the capitalist system. History, science and economics books present this event as the "Second Industrial Revolution",
but in reality what happened in the mid-19th century was a change in
the process of concentration and centralization of capital that allowed
the emergence of a new Capitalist Form of Accumulation: Monopolies.
The industrial capitalists began to politically dominate the country, an issue that was consolidated with the Civil War as a result of the triumph of the industrial bourgeoisie of the North over the Manufacturing bourgeoisie of the South. But at the same time, the development of these immense fortunes allowed these great magnates to begin the process of monopolizing the different branches of production, commerce and finance, a process that revolutionized the development of productive forces, and allowed this sector of the capitalist bourgeoisie lead the most important political-social changes.
The phenomenon of the emergence of great tycoons in the United States was linked to the development of monopolies on an international scale. That is to say, the emergence of monopolies in the United States was part of a process that occurred simultaneously in France, England, Germany and all the major capitalist economies. These magnates were the social sector of capitalists who owned this new Form of Accumulation.
The other industrial giant that emerged between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century is Ford Motor Co, the multinational automobile manufacturing company founded on June 16, 1903 by Henry Ford in Detroit (Michigan) and in 1908 it launched the Ford Model T that exploded. in sales. The success of the Ford T was a product of the fact that it was a very easy car to drive, very cheap and easy to repair, which led it to become one of the best-selling cars in history and forced the group to move production to the Highland Park plant, larger than the previous one, to meet demand. By 1913, the company had developed all the basic techniques of production line and mass production, created the first mobile production line in the automotive branch, a mobile assembly belt that allowed an enormous increase in production and reduced production time. Chassis assembly from 12 and a half hours to 100 minutes.
This was a technique called Fordism that was transferred to all branches of production and constituted a system widespread in the 20th century between the late 30's and early 70's, which included chain production, the use of specialized machinery and a large number of workers on staff with high salaries. Ford was concerned with establishing massive advertising and a system of local dealerships that allowed the automobile to be available in every city in the United States. By 1920, half of the cars in the United States were the Ford model T.
The most powerful working class in the world is born
With the appearance of monopolies, the most powerful bourgeois class on the planet developed, but along with this, the most powerful working class in history also developed. As Karl Marx explains: "The bourgeoisie stripped of its halo of sanctity everything that was previously considered venerable and worthy of a pious event. It turned into its salaried servants the doctor, the jurist, the poet, the priest, the man of science...not only forges its own destruction, but also its own gravedigger: the proletariat" (21) In the United States, the vigorous development of capitalism caused a fundamental historical phenomenon, the birth of a powerful working class, a fact of enormous significance, because the development of the North American working class gave rise to leaders, traditions, historical milestones, which later marked the development of the working class internationally.
It is the development of monopolies, magnates and great fortunes that explains the political changes and changes in the country's regime that occurred from the mid-70s after the end of the Civil War. The bankruptcy of the Philadelphia banking entity Jay Cooke and Co on September 18, 1873 unleashed what is known as the Panic of 1873 or the economic crisis of 1873, which had as its previous event the fall of the Vienna Stock Exchange on May 9, 1873. 1873, was a systemic economic crisis of capitalism that crossed the continents and marked the beginning of a harsh economic depression of global reach that lasted until 1879. But, precisely, as Lenin indicates, this crisis opened the stage of development of monopolies. The antidemocratic changes in the political regime that both the Compromise of 1877 and the Jim Crow regime entailed, which we have analyzed, are a constitutive part of the establishment of a political regime at the service of the development of great fortunes, magnates and large companies. .
As Howard Zinn explains: "The agreement between Democrats and Republicans to elect Rutherford Hayes in 1877 set the tone. Whether the Democrats or the Republicans won, national politics would no longer undergo significant changes. When Democrat Grover Cleveland ran for president in 1884, the general impression of the country was that he opposed the power of monopolies and corporations, and that the Republican party - whose candidate was James Blaine - was on the side of the rich. But when Cleveland defeated Blaine, Jay Gould telegraphed, "I think the great financial interests of the country will be entirely safe in your hands." In 1887, even with a huge surplus in the Treasury, Cleveland vetoed a bill allocating $100,000 to Texas farmers for assist them and help them buy seed during a drought. Cleveland said: "In such cases, federal aid encourages an expectation of paternal help from the Government and weakens the firmness of our national character." But that same year, Cleveland used his surplus gold to settle debts and obligations to the rich, paying them $28 more than the $100 each bond was worth—a gift of $45 million." (22)
The undemocratic changes in the country's political regime, both the Compromise of 1877 and the Jim Crow regime, in addition to expressing the emergence of monopolies, were the product of the need of the ruling classes to quell the growing struggles and demands of the working class that They began to develop strongly as a product of the aberrant conditions in which they found themselves. The emergence of the working class was explosive, the millions of new workers decided to face employer abuses with long work hours, the exploitation of child and female labor, unhealthy conditions and unemployment.
This is how Zinn explains it: "In 1877 there was a series of dramatic strikes by railroad workers in a dozen cities that shook the nation as no labor conflict in history had...The governor of West Virginia requested newly elected President Rutherford Hayes to send federal troops. But much of the US military was busy fighting Indian battles in the West...So JP Morgan, August Belmont and other bankers offered to loan money to pay the officers (not the troops)...The streets became the scene of a bloody battle without quarter...The railroad rebellion began to spread...In Pittsburgh, something similar to a general strike was being prepared , with the participation of the workers of the steel plants and the wagon factories, the miners, the day laborers and the employees of the Carnegie blast furnaces... In Chicago there was a Workers' party, with several thousand members. He was linked to the First International in Europe. Most of its members were immigrants from Germany and Bohemia. In the midst of the railway strikes, during the summer of 1877, the party called a rally and six thousand people gathered to demand the nationalization of the railways. Albert Parsons gave an impassioned speech" (23)
The activity of the Workers' Party began to grow as Zinn relates: "In Saint Louis there were about a thousand Workers' Party members, many of them bakers, coopers, cabinetmakers, cigar makers and brewers. The party was organized into four sections, by nationality Germans, English, French and Bohemians. The four sections crossed the Mississippi on the ferry to participate in a massive meeting of railroad workers in the eastern part of Saint Louis...There was a demonstration along the river of four hundred men of color , steamship and port workers, and six hundred factory workers carried a banner that read: "No monopolies" "Yes, workers' rights" A large demonstration crossed the city and ended with a concentration of ten thousand people who listened to the " (24)
As monopolies, trusts and cartels developed, their emergence caused violent clashes of interests between the magnates and millionaires with the workers, other popular sectors, small businessmen, merchants, and even between the sectors of the bourgeoisie themselves. The appearance of these business giants shook all the political and social contradictions of North American capitalism. Conflicts of interest, superexploitation of workers, bankruptcies caused by unfair competition, and violent confrontations caused by corrupt speculation management caused permanent crises. The emergence of the great strike movements of the '80s and '90s were the expression of the growing presence of the working class in the reality of the country.
New institutions emerged reflecting this growing presence as Howard Zinn explains: "There were now revolutionary movements influencing labor struggles and socialist ideas influencing their leaders. Radical writings were appearing that spoke of fundamental changes and new possibilities for life. Later After the war, a movement began among working people demanding an eight-hour day, favored by the formation of the first federation of national unions, the National Workers' Union...In the spring of 1886, the number had already grown. movement in favor of the eight-hour day. On May 1, the American Federation of Labor, which had been in operation for five years, called for national strikes wherever the eight-hour day was opposed. .." (25)
In those years the workers had not only their first institutions, but also their first martyrs. International Workers' Day or May Day is the holiday par excellence of the world labor movement that had its origin in the strike that began on May 1, 1886 in Chicago and gave rise to the Haymarket Revolt on May 4 that ended with the execution of the anarchist leaders of that struggle. By agreement of the Socialist Workers' Congress of the Second International, held in Paris in 1889, May 1 is a day of struggle and tribute to the Chicago Martyrs, and from then on it became a day of protest for the rights of workers in celebrated to a greater or lesser extent throughout the world.
This is how Howard Zinn relates the episodes that gave rise to the Chicago martyrs: "In the fall of 1885, on May 4 in Chicago, led by Parsons, Spies and anarchist leaders, a meeting of 3,000 people was called in Haymarket Square, a quiet rally and, as storm clouds were lurking and it was getting late, the crowd dwindled to a few hundred. A detachment of 180 police officers appeared and advanced to the speaker's platform...At that moment a bomb exploded in the middle of the police officers. , wounding sixty-six of them and of whom seven later died. The police fired into the crowd, killing several people and wounding two hundred. Without having any evidence as to who threw the bomb, the police in Chicago arrested eight anarchist leaders. Illinois law said that anyone who incited murder was guilty of that murder. The only evidence against those eight anarchists were their ideas and writings..."
"None had been in Haymarket that day, except Fielden, who was speaking when the bomb exploded. A jury found them guilty and they were sentenced to death. Their appeals were denied. The High Court said it had no jurisdiction. This caused an international agitation. Rallies were held in France, Holland, Russia, Italy and Spain. In London, George Bernard Shaw, Wilham Morris and Peter Kropotkin, among others, supported a protest rally. Shaw had responded, in his characteristic style, to the rejection of appeal by all eight members of the Illinois Supreme Court: "If the world is to lose eight people, it can better afford to lose all eight members of the Illinois Supreme Court...One year after the trial , four of the convicted anarchists were hanged: Albert Parsons, printer; August Spies, upholsterer; Adolph Fischer and George Engel. Louis Lingg, a twenty-one-year-old carpenter, committed suicide in his cell by causing a stick of dynamite to explode in his mouth. Three remained in prison. The executions shocked people across the country. In Chicago, there was a funeral parade of 25,000 people. ...Year after year, rallies were held throughout the country in memory of the Haymarket martyrs. It is impossible to specify the number of people whose political awakening was caused by the Haymarket affair..." (26)
Another very important labor group called the Noble Order of the Knights of Labor (Knights of Labor) had also emerged in the United States and Canada. The Knights of Labor (KOL) one of the most important labor organizations of the 1880s. The Knights, unlike the other movements of the time, rejected socialism and anarchism, demanded an eight-hour day, in some cases They behaved like a union but were never well organized, so after rapid expansion in the mid-1880s, they lost their new members and became a small organization. The St. Louis General Strike of 1877 is generally accepted as the country's first general strike, organized largely by the Knights of Labor and the Workers' Party.
When the railroad strike reached East St. Louis, Illinois in July 1877, the Labor Party led a group of approximately 500 people across the river in an act of solidarity with the nearly 1,000 striking workers, and transformed a strike that at first was only of railway workers in a strike of thousands of workers in various industries for the eight-hour day and against child labor. Workers took control of commerce and transportation in the area, and by July 22, the St. Louis Commune began to take shape as representatives of nearly all the railroad lines gathered in East St. Louis. They soon elected an executive committee to command the strike and issued General Order No. 1, stopping all rail traffic other than passenger and mail trains. The strike managed to close the packing industry houses that surrounded the national shipyards and organized tonners, ticket holders, gasmen, boatmen, bakers, engineers, cabinetmakers, cigar makers, brewery workers, millers and workers of various kinds. factory jobs.
The strike ended when some 3,000 federal troops and 5,000 special police delegates killed at least eighteen people in skirmishes around the city. On July 28, 1877, they took control of the Relay Depot, the Commune's command center, and arrested about seventy strikers. With the leaders imprisoned, the strikers surrendered. The Knights of Labor had their annual event on the first Monday in September of each year. As they were an organization that rejected socialism, Grover Cleveland's Administration promoted the celebration of Workers' Day coinciding with the day on which the Knights mobilized and established "Labor Day" in 1882 on that date. Canada also joined in commemorating the first Monday in September starting in 1894. This decision by both capitalist governments was based on the fear that the socialist movement would be strengthened in the United States and Canada, this is the reason why in the The entire world celebrates Workers' Day on May 1, except in the US and Canada where it is celebrated on the first Monday in September.
the same time as a wave of workers' and popular struggles against
monopolies developed, there were also clashes between the different
bourgeois sectors that were expressed in the appearance of anti-trust or
anti-monopoly laws that sought to regulate the activity of the giants.
economic empires. The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 was a landmark federal law in history and also the expression of these clashes of interests. A
sector of the bourgeoisie tried to legalize and put a stop to the
actions of monopolies, while at the same time establishing a broad
charter of freedoms to preserve the exercise of free trade, trying to
penalize and declare illegal "all restrictions on trade" and " attempts to monopoly".
However, lawyers for the Standard Oil Co. of Ohio devised a new type of agreement to overcome prohibitions against corporations owning stock in other corporations. They took as a basis the legal figure of the trust, a centuries-old form that establishes a contract by which one of the parties entrusts their property to a second interlocutor. In this way they tried to avoid the Sherman Act, which in any case involved more than 50 years of litigation and trials of all kinds such as "Atlantic Cleaners & Dyers against the United States ", or " Addyston Pipe and Steel Co. against the United States" , or "Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey v. U.S."
Other laws that followed the Sherman Act were the Clayton Antitrust Act passed in 1914, which prohibited certain additional activities that had been discovered to fall outside the scope of the Sherman Antitrust Act. For example, the Clayton Act added certain practices to the list of prohibited activities such as mergers and acquisitions (M&A Merger and Acquisitions) and continued with others such as the Robinson- Patman Act of 1936. The battles that took place around of the Sherman Act not only involved Standard Oil, but also between the years 1891-1892 the railroad financier Henry Villard led a great effort to repeal the law as Howard Zinn explains: "In 1895, the Court interpreted the Sherman Act of In 1886, the Court struck down the 230 state laws that had been passed to regulate them and declared that corporations were "persons" and that their money was property protected by the "due process clause" of the Fourteenth Amendment" (27)
At the same time, while the different sectors of the bourgeoisie battled among themselves, an element that strongly united them was the fear of communism and socialism. The laws did not only seek to penalize monopolies but to "soften" capitalism to make it less odious to the masses, as Zinn explains: "Senator John Sherman, author of the law, explained the need to reconcile critics of monopoly: " They must heed his request or prepare for the socialists, the communists and the nihilists. At this time, forces never seen before are disorienting society." (28) By 1893, excessive construction and unstable financing of the railroads, as well as speculative movements, caused a new crisis called the Panic of '93, after which the economy entered in a serious depression.
The crisis of '93 was also a global crisis linked to the investments of the House of Baring in Argentina, the financial panic in the United Kingdom and the fall of trade in Europe. A series of bank failures was followed by the bankruptcies of the Northern Pacific Railway, UP, in addition to more than 15,000 companies and 500 banks, as a result of which the unemployment rate skyrocketed. In Pennsylvania it reached 25%, in New York 35%, and in Michigan 43%.
Social and labor conflicts developed even stronger in the 1880s and 1890s, favored by the emergence of a new North American working class strongly influenced by European immigrants who brought with them socialist ideology, as Zinn explains: "In the decades of 1880s and 1890s, European immigrants poured in, at a faster rate than before...In the 1880s, there were 5 and a half million immigrants, in the 1890s, 4 million...Thus, the decades The '80s and '90s witnessed explosions of labor insurrection, better organized than the spontaneous strikes, of 1877." (29) The "Coxey's Army" march to Washington was led by unemployed workers from Ohio, Pennsylvania, and several western states, as well as a wave of strikes took place in 1894, among which the national railroad workers' strike of 1894, which began at the Pullman company in Chicago, Illinois, stood out.
Here's how Howard Zinn tells it: "The American Railroad Union responded, asking its members across the country not to use Pullman cars, which amounted to a boycott of all trains, a national strike. Soon all train traffic came to a standstill. the twenty-four railroad lines leading out of Chicago. Workers derailed freight cars, blocked the tracks, and pushed engineers who refused to cooperate off the trains. President Cleveland sent federal troops to Chicago. On December 6 July, the strikers burned hundreds of cars. The Chicago strike was crushed by fourteen thousand police, militiamen and soldiers" (30)
At this same historical juncture in which the great workers' strikes and the powerful union movement were developing, farmers from the north and south, white and black, were creating the largest movement of agrarian rebellion that the country had ever witnessed, as a result of the fact that the situation of the peasants and farmers was very serious as Howard Zinn explains: "Between 1860 and 1910, the American army prepared the ground - destroying the Indian settlements of the Great Plains - for the railroads to arrive and take over the best lands. Then farmers came to take over what was left. Between 1860 and 1900, the population of the United States grew from 31 million to 75 million. The crowded cities of the East needed food, and the number of farms increased from 2 million to 6 million. .Agriculture became mechanized, there were steel plows, lawn mowers, mowers, combine harvesters..."
"In 1830, it took three hours to produce 35,237 liters of wheat. In 1900, it took ten minutes...But land and machinery cost money, so farmers had to borrow it, hoping that the price of their crops would stay the same. high to be able to pay the bank credit, the railway transport, the grain merchant to trade with his grain and the warehouse to store it. But they found that the prices of their products decreased and those of transport and credit increased, and that this It was because the individual farmer could not control the price of grain, while the banking and railroad monopolies could charge whatever they wanted. Farmers who could not pay had their homes and land repossessed. They became tenant farmers. By 1880, 25% of farms were rented by tenants, and the number was increasing"
"Many did not even have the money for rent and became laborers. In 1900, there were already 4 million laborers in the country. It was the fate that awaited every farmer who could not pay his debts. Could the farmer, squeezed and desperate, ask the government for help? The government was helping the bankers and hurting the farmers, keeping the amount of money unchanged - based on gold supplies - while the population was increasing, so that there was more and more less money in circulation. The farmer had to pay off his debts in dollars, which were increasingly difficult to obtain... From the beginning, the Farmers' Alliance showed sympathy for the growing labor movement. When the Labor Order carried out a strike against a shipping line in Galveston, Texas, a group of people from the Alliance passed a resolution: "As we witness the unjust abuses that the capitalists are perpetrating in the different sections of labor, we offer the Order of Labor our cordial support in their brave fight against the oppression of the monopolies and we propose to be on the side of the Order" (31)
This is how the People's Party representing farmers emerged, which however ended up absorbed by the Democratic Party, as Zinn explains: "... In the end, the populist movement failed to unite whites and blacks, nor urban workers with farmers. That fact, combined with the appeal of electoral politics, destroyed the Populist movement. Once allied with the Democratic Party to support Wilham Jennings Bryan's candidacy for president in 1896, Populism drowned in a sea of Democratic policies. "In the elections of 1896, with the populist movement merged with the Democratic party" (32) This is how, hand in hand with the emergence of monopolies, powerful social classes emerged that marked the destiny of the country forever. The North American working class, which includes urban and rural wage earners, and the peasant class, which also gained momentum, developed strongly. The working class burst with full force into the political and social life of the country, and its dead, heroes and traditions, are today a fundamental part of the traditions of the international working class.
Emerge the "American imperialism"
The US economy began to recover in 1897 and the economy went through 10 years of rapid growth, until the panic of 1907. But from this economic recovery, a new aspect of the country's ruling classes began to develop: The growing interest in occupying new markets and beginning to intervene in other countries and continents to establish the enormous surplus in merchandise that the production of monopolies implied. In 1898 the warship Maine that was anchored in the port of Havana was destroyed by an explosion in which 268 men perished. The origin of said explosion was more than mysterious, but it gave rise to the United States to intervene in Cuba where a revolution against Spain was developing, while the Cleveland Administration was in office.
Neither President Cleveland nor his successor President McKinley were sympathetic to the revolution that was being carried out by white and black members fighting together against Spain. Thus Howard Zinn reminds us how Winston Churchill wrote about the revolution in Cuba for the Saturday Review: "A grave danger appears. Two-fifths of the insurgents in the countryside are black. Those men, in the event of victory, would demand a predominant part in the Government." And the result would be, after years of struggle, another black republic...The reference to "another" black republic alluded to Haiti, whose revolution against France in 1803 had resulted in the first black-led nation in the New World. " (34)
The US military intervention in Cuba allowed Spain to be defeated. General Wilham Shafter said that no armed rebels could enter Santiago, the capital, and told the Cuban rebel leader, General Calixto García, that the old Spanish civil authorities - and not the Cubans - would remain in charge of Santiago's municipal offices. And the monopolies began to act in Cuba, as Zinn explains: "When the war ended, the Americans began to take over the railroads, the mines and the sugar properties. ...United Fruit entered the Cuban sugar industry.. .The American Tobacco Company arrived...Cuba was not a complete colony...However, the Spanish-American War did result in a series of direct annexations by the United States. US military forces took power in Puerto Rico -Cuba's neighbor in the Caribbean-, which belonged to Spain. The Hawaiian Islands, almost halfway to Japan, a place already visited by American missionaries...were annexed in July 1898, after a unanimous resolution of Congress. At the same time, they occupied Wake Island, located 2,300 miles west of Hawaii, on their way to Japan. They also occupied Guam, a Spanish possession in the Pacific, almost in the Philippines. In December 1898, they signed the peace treaty with Spain , which officially ceded to the United States...but the Filipinos rebelled against American rule...It took the United States three years to crush the rebellion and they employed seventy thousand soldiers..." (35)
This is how North American imperialism officially began in 1898, two years before the beginning of the 20th century. The appearance of monopolies turned the North American capitalist economy into an imperialist economy, dominated by the corporations and large companies of the magnates who emerged after the Civil War. And as in any imperialist economy worth its salt, soon the overproduction of goods produced by monopolies required new markets and promoted the development of military interventions, which had the objective of subduing the economies of other nations and regions. The growing influence of monopolies in the political life of the country was embodied in the rise of political leaders who became highly influential as representatives of their interests.
example of this was the case of Marcus Alonzo Hanna, a businessman who
used his money and skills to finance William McKinley's 1896 and 1900
electoral campaigns and became his main manager, opening a new political
era in the country. As Lundberg explains: "The
evolutionary phase in which the rule of industrialists regularized its
shadows into the empire of capitalist finance began to take shape in
1896. Marcus Alonzo Hanna, John D. Rockefeller's extraordinary
commissioner, became "the political architect of the new era...as well
as its political apparatus in the hands of the banking capitalists." (36)
In 1895, Hanna left his business career to devote himself full time to McKinley's presidential campaign, paying all expenses, applying business techniques to politics, paying for thousands of copies of McKinley's speeches to be printed and sent quantities of posters, badges and buttons throughout the country to obtain the nomination. Hanna was fundamental in the programmatic orientation of the McKinley Administration, for example, in the adoption of measures regarding the metallic support of the dollar, an issue that was widely debated at that time in the country.
Regarding the metallic backing of the dollar, there were two positions. On the one hand there were those who proposed the bimetallic or gold-silver standard, a monetary scheme that allowed expanding the supply of money and granting cheaper credit, which was highly appreciated by industrial sectors, the middle class or the peasantry and farmers. On the other hand, there were those who assumed the position of the gold standard, which limits the supply of money, which was essentially defended by monopolies and bankers who criticized the policy of bimetallism, arguing that this was inflating the currency which would lead to difficulties in trade. international with the nations that had the gold standard.
Hanna urged McKinley to adopt the gold standard policy, modifying McKinley's original position that he had voted in 1878 in favor of the Bland-Allison Act that promoted the purchase of silver bullion, and the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890. The Democratic Party led by William Jennings Bryan led the opposition to the gold standard, denouncing that it was harming the working classes, which caused the Popular Party to join the Democratic candidacy. Wall Street, and the tycoons rallied behind the Mc Kinley-Hobart formula that received the support of tycoons like Rockefeller. Hanna was the ideologue of the "sound money" campaign ; he supported McKinley in the war against Cuba and later in McKinley's decision to annex the Spanish colonies of Puerto Rico and Guam.
Democrats attacked McKinley as an imperialist for seizing the Spanish colonies, and their candidate, again Bryan, urged greater use of antitrust laws. Hanna summed up the Republican campaign in a few words: "Let things stay as they are." After winning his second term, McKinley was assassinated by anarchist Leon Czolgosz, allowing Vice President Theodore Roosevelt to become president of the nation. Roosevelt had achieved popularity as Secretary of the Navy in the war with Spain, and Hanna continued to be the inspiration for many strategic government orientations such as the construction of the Panama Canal, facing the position of those who demanded the construction of a canal through Nicaragua. Hanna made a speech against the bill, insisting that the Canal must pass through the territory of what was at that time a province of the Republic of Colombia.
Finally Hanna's position prevailed and negotiations began with Colombia for the rights to build a canal. A treaty was signed, but it was rejected by the Colombian Senate, which opened a crisis in the project. But the Roosevelt Administration resolved the issue in a very practical way: Under the auspices of Hanna, he promoted the independence of the province of Panama, which with the support of the United States, separated from Colombia in 1903, and signed the treaty for the construction of the Canal. . Hanna died around those days, but he left his mark on government efforts, clearly guiding the defense of the interests of monopolies and the imperialist nature of the country's foreign policy, in addition to having been the mentor and inspiration of the presidential campaigns. modern, highly systematized and centralized, as well as successful fundraising.
La "Sociedad de los Peregrinos" or "Pilgrims Society"
George W. Bush ran for president of the nation as governor of Texas in
2000, the mass media portrayed Bush's advisor Karl Rove, who was
considered one of the most skilled strategists in Texas, almost like a
incarnation of Hanna. Those
comparisons were fueled by Rove's interest in Hanna and the McKinley
Administration that he studied at the University of Texas. What
is clear is that Hanna's imprint on the state and the government
expressed the profound changes that were operating in the country's
politics and economy from the emergence and weight reached by
monopolies, and the fact that an oligarchy of magnates dominated the
country socially, politically and economically.
Logically, the members of this oligarchy began to organize themselves into lodges and communities in order to establish plans, goals and strategies for managing the increasingly complex issues they had to face. On July 11, 1902, the " Pilgrim 's Society" had its first meeting at the Carlton Hotel in Great Britain, which was promoted by Lindsay Russell, a well-connected lawyer from New York who regularly visited London: Along with him, General Joseph Wheeler, General Lord Roberts, and Sir Harry Brittain participated in the organization of the meeting.
The same meeting was held in the United States 7 months later, on February 4, 1903 in New York, agreed upon by Russell together with Depew Chauncey, and the bishop of New York, Henry Codman Potter, a formal dinner that was organized under the presidency of Bishop Potter. Over the years more and more members of the oligarchy joined the Pilgrim's Society , including almost all the well-known banks, the robber barons and their associates, the Astors, Dukes, Mellons, Stillmans, Aldrichs, Du Ponts, and Meyers. , Vanderbilt, Belmont, Gould, Morgan, Warburg, Baker, Harkness, Peabody, Watson, Carnegie, Harriman, Pyne, Whitney, Dillon, Lamont, Reynolds, Dodge, Lodge, Rockefeller, Drexel, Loeb, Schiff, among others. The ranks of the English "Pilgrim's Society" began to gather together barons, viscounts, earls, marquises and dukes, members of the British royal family, and oligarchs such as the Barings, Hambros, Harcourts, Keswicks, Rothschilds, Kleinworts, Loebs and Warburgs. .
The Pilgrim Society grouped together the main elitist rich men in the United States, while the Skull & Bones encompassed only those at Yale University. The constitution of the " Pilgrim's Society" , along with many other associations, lodges or communities of this type, were an expression of the emergence of the so-called "stabilishment" , that is, the new dominant class in the country that not only includes the oligarchy. of tycoons but also a large number of people who work in high government positions, a group of banks based in New York, insurance companies, law firms, officials and various businesses that rotate like a satellite under its orbit. Under the sphere of "stabilishment" a kind of permanent government of the country is thus established, which emerged as an elite from the northeast that exercised its dominance and class position regardless of who is in the White House.
By forming a structure of civil servants who work to serve their interests, the power of "stabilishment" is felt by the professor seeking a foundation grant, as much as by a candidate seeking a cabinet or the State Department. And it also affects the nation's policies in almost all areas. To the extent that this layer of officials, and the structure of "stabilishment" was consolidated, the relationship between the government and the monopolies completely changed. From the arrival of Hanna to power, relations were established in a conscious, formal and systematic way, and the structure of officials linked to the monopolies began to move as a consolidated body, organized in a premeditated manner in the name of the interests of the whole. of the monopolists.
Even so, the institutional structure of American capitalism was extremely weak. The dominance of the monopolies had already been embodied in the economy, it had established close ties with the high spheres of power and government, and it had begun to go through its first years of the imperialist stage. But each crisis that hit the economy caused an earthquake, and increasingly larger earthquakes that lacked containment as a result of the fact that from an economic point of view there was no institutional structure in line with the economic development of the country. There was no central bank, exchange parities were not clear and definitively established, nor were monetary equivalences clear.
An example of this was the serious crisis of 1907, called the "Panic of 1907." This crisis was caused by unbridled speculation that brought to light numerous cases of corruption as a result of the exuberant accumulation of capital that was carried out by monopolists. Allegations of corruption plagued the establishment, and in 1905, during the term of New York Governor Charles E. Hughes, an investigation was carried out into the use of insurance company funds for speculative maneuvers and investments during the decade. previous, which left the general public exposed to the reckless manipulation of capital, the scams and shady dealings of monopolies with life insurance funds. The result of this investigation was the promulgation of new laws on asset protection and investment of insurance funds, and this caused a free and unrestricted source of capital to be withdrawn from access to speculators at a stroke. The hundreds of millions that for years had been available for the benefit of small groups of powerful businessmen were no longer available.
In turn, the speculative lack of control resulting from the development of monopolies led to a new and deeper crisis. In 1906, the San Francisco Earthquake severely damaged the economy, which further aggravated the vulnerability of the banking system. In October 1907, the "financial panic of 1907 " occurred , a financial crisis that bankrupted many national and local banks, as well as the ruin of the Knickerbocker Trust Company, the 3rd largest trust in New York. The collapse of the Knickerbocker increased fears about the city's funds, while regional banks withdrew their reserves from New York banks, and this led to panic spreading throughout the country. The panic might have deepened had it not been for the intervention of JP Morgan, who pledged large sums of his own money and convinced other New York bankers to do the same, to shore up the financial system.
By November, the collapse of the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company (TC&I) occurred, the outcome of which was avoided by an emergency acquisition approved by President Theodore Roosevelt, a kind of old version of what the bailouts will be like from 2007 onwards. that became widespread with the outbreak of the current global crisis of capitalism. This maneuver, like so many others, expressed the close relationship between the state and the existence of the "Pilgrim's", the oligarchy of millionaire magnates who with their companies came to dominate the country's economy and transform it into an imperialist country. The development of this sector of the bourgeois social class transformed the capitalist structure of the country forever, in a process that had implications not only for the country, but for the entire world capitalist economy.
From the beginning of the 20th century, this class structure was consolidated and became absolutely irreversible, which is why it was necessary to build an institutional economic support that would contemplate the changes that occurred in the country after the Civil War, and drive a series of orientations promoted by the establishment at the beginning of the 20th century. On March 1, 1900, President William McKinley officially decreed that from that day on the value of the dollar would no longer be quoted in silver and would begin to be quoted in gold, thus reinforcing the interests of the monopolies, but it was made other measures were necessary and the emergence of new institutions that would support the scaffolding of the new structure of North American capitalism.
The institutions of the imperialist state emerge
We have seen how through the years and the different stages of development of the country the different institutions of the state emerged, we have analyzed it both in the stage of independence, the Civil War, and the post-War stage. We have seen that the different stages of the country's capitalist development were accompanied by the emergence of different institutions that gave rise to different political regimes. After the United States became an imperialist country, one of the first organizations to emerge, motivated by the outbreak of the " Panic of 1907" that expressed this new character, was the new Central Bank of the United States, which emerged on December 23. December 1913 with the name of the Federal Reserve System of the United States (in English, "Federal Reserve System").
The country did not have any Central Bank since then President Andrew Jackson vetoed in 1832 the law extending the license to the National Bank of the United States that expired in 1836. Since the country did not have any Central Bank, the flow of capital It developed in accordance with the country's annual agricultural cycle, and each fall money left New York City to buy the crops. To attract money again, interest rates were raised, and then foreign investors sent their money to New York to take advantage of the high interest rates. But the severity of the crisis of 1907 revealed that there was practically no control over the flow of capital, and that, faced with the onslaught of speculators, the entire banking system could collapse, without protection of any kind.
This motivated the representatives of the monopolies, officials, congressmen and economists to decide to work together and establish a commission chaired by Senator Nelson Aldrich to propose the solution of a Central Bank. The Central Bank project was outlined in November 1910 at the Jekyll Island Hunt Club of Georgia owned by JP Morgan, in a meeting organized by Nelson Aldrich in which A. Andrew Platt, Frank Vanderiip and Paul Warburg of the Kuhn-Loeb Bank participated. & Company, Henry Davidson, Charles Norton and Benjamin Strong of JP Morgan. It was a carefully prepared secret meeting, from which emerged the current Federal Reserve System, known in economic jargon as the "Fed." The Federal Reserve bill was passed by Congress in 1913 and President Woodrow Wilson signed the bill. The first governor of the New York branch of the Federal Reserve was Benjamin Strong of JP Morgan, and the first governor of the Fed's board of directors was Paul Warburg of Kuhn-Loeb & Co.
Fed is clearly the emergence of an institution that reflects the
dominance of the monopolistic oligarchy over the structure of the
country. This profound
change and the imperialist character of the state was also expressed in
the conclusions reached by the Pujo Committee, a subcommittee of the US
Congress that was formed between May 1912 and January 1913 to
investigate the so-called "money trust" . This
report concluded in 1913 that 18 different large financial corporations
were under the control of a cartel headed by JP Morgan, George F Baker
and James Stillman through the resources of seven banks and trust
companies such as Banker Trust Co., Guaranty Trust Co., Astor Trust Co.,
National Bank of Commerce, Liberty National Bank, Chase National Bank,
Farmer's Loan and Trust Co. who controlled an estimated $2.1 billion.
The Committee also maintained that this "money trust" manipulated the New York Stock Exchange, attempted to evade interstate commerce laws, and highlighted the activity of bankers such as Paul and Felix Warburg, Jacob H. Schiff, and Frank E. Peabody, William Rockefeller and Benjamin Strong who manipulated more than $22 billion in controlled resources through the capitalization of 341 management positions in 112 companies . Many laws, such as the Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914, attempted in vain to change the situation.
As the monopolies took control of the capitalist economy, the situation of the working class progressively worsened. The exploitation of workers deepened and reached sophisticated forms, one of which was the technique known as "Taylorism", created by the foreman of a steel company named Frederick W Taylor who devised a well-detailed system of division of labor and increased the mechanization of work to increase productivity and business profits. The techniques of Taylorism were to make workers produce on a larger scale by establishing the ability to do simple tasks, taking advantage of every down time, and allowing them to carry out different tasks, which allowed them to transform into interchangeable workers like standard pieces, stripped of qualities and individuality. . The incorporation of these exploitation systems that increased productivity also increased industrial accidents.
At the beginning of the 20th century, worker unionization began to grow as Howard Zinn explains: " Unionization was increasing, but 80% were in the American Federation of Labor (AFL), an exclusive union - almost all men, white, and skilled workers. In 1910, despite making up one-fifth of the total workforce, only one in every hundred women belonged to a union. In 1910, black workers earned one-third of what they earned. The whites won. They were also excluded from the American Federation of Labor... Faced with this situation...they began to work for a new type of union...socialists, anarchists and radical unionists from all over the United States They were founding the union IWW -Industrial Workers of the World" (37)
Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) led the Lawrence Massachusetts textile strike by immigrant workers in 1912, prompted by a two-hour pay cut under a new law shortening the work week. The strike spread quickly across the city, growing to over twenty thousand workers and involving almost every mill, uniting workers of over 40 different nationalities, and lasting over two months, challenging the assumptions of conservative unions within the American Federation of Labor (AFL) that immigrant workers could not organize.
With radical measures that included sending hundreds of starving children of strikers to compassionate families in New York, New Jersey and Vermont, the measure achieved victory and workers achieved raises of up to 20 percent. The Lawrence strike is often known as the "Bread and Roses" strike, a phrase from a poem by James Oppenheim published in The Atlantic Monthly in December 1911. One of its most prominent leaders was Frank Little, who along with other leaders such as Mother Jones, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and James P. Cannon promoted the call for "One Big Union" as opposed to the craft unions of the time that only represented the highest paid workers. Although Little was skilled at organizing strikes, the The IWW's leading group split over the question of how to unify the working class and take power away from the capitalists.
Cannon, founder of American Trotskyism, and many others left the IWW seeking the need to build a revolutionary party to lead the way. Little was gruesomely murdered by a group of thugs, but was cheered by crowds as Freedom Socialist Newspaper explains: "... On August 8, 1917, a week after his murder, ten thousand people filled the streets of Butte for the Montana's largest funeral procession in history. They knew who was on their side, who had risked their lives. The city fathers forced mourners to carry the American flag in the procession. But once outside the city , the flag disappeared, leaving only the IWW banner to honor the life of this brave Wobbly. On his tombstone is carved, "Killed by capitalist interests to organize and inspire his fellows" (38)
Pressure from workers and popular mobilizations forced the governments of Theodore Roosevelt, William Taft, and Woodrow Wilson to promote a series of laws, resolutions, and amendments to the Constitution that sought to calm the masses and stabilize the country's political situation. . This political period of the country that covers the first 20 years of the 20th century, from 1901 to 1921, is recognized as the so-called "Progressive Period." It was a period motivated by worker and popular mobilizations as well as the growth of socialism, and anarchism among the masses, which was a cause of concern among the dominant classes at that time.
The so-called "Progressive Period" sought to contain the workers' and popular rise as Howard Zinn explains: "It is true that this was the "Progressive Period", the beginning of the reformist era, but it was a reactionary reform, whose purpose was to appease popular uprisings, not carrying out fundamental changes. What gave this period the nickname "progressive" was the fact that new laws were passed. Under Theodore Roosevelt, they passed the Meat Inspection Act, the Hepburn to regulate railroads and pipelines, and a Pure Food and Drug Act. Under President Taft, the Mann-Elkins Act had the Interstate Commerce Commission regulate the telephone and telegraph system. During Woodrow Wilson's presidency, they introduced Federal Trade Commission to limit the growth of monopolies...they proposed the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution that would make possible a graduation of taxes and the Seventeenth Amendment allowed the election of senators directly, by popular vote, instead of by legislatures of the states, as stipulated in the original Constitution. Also around this time, a number of states passed laws regulating wages and working hours, providing for safety inspections in factories and compensation for workers who had workplace accidents .
The entire development of monopolies in the country allowed a fabulous accumulation and overaccumulation of capital. In the quarter century from 1890 to 1915, the total capitalization in the form of stocks and bonds of companies grew from less than 200 million to almost 20,000 billion dollars, a huge and historic overaccumulation of capital for that time. The crisis of 1907 had revealed the beginning of a serious and deep crisis, not of the United States but of the entire international capitalist system, as a result of the overaccumulation of capital made by monopolies leading to a crisis. And the crisis of monopolies dragged the entire capitalist economy behind it.
We have seen at the beginning of the chapter how with the Civil War in 1865 it was possible for North American capitalism to overcome the limits and contradictions of its own process of capital accumulation through massacres and violent burning of capital. It was through this brutal process of destruction of productive forces that North American capitalism was able to consolidate an industrial capitalist economic regime that displaced the regime of manufacturing accumulation that was predominant in the Southern states, but which had reached the limits of capitalist accumulation and was exhausted. .
In the same way that this violent burning of capital made it possible to overcome the manufacturing regime and develop the industrial regime, capitalism now faced a new crossroads: The monopolies had over-accumulated capital in a spectacular way, they had reached the maximum limits of the development of capitalist accumulation and They were beginning to enter their exhaustion phase. What had to be carried out now was then a burning of capital that would allow us to overcome monopolies as a form of exhausted accumulation, but the problem was that monopolies were not a uniquely American company. Its development covered many more advanced countries of capitalism such as France, England, Germany. This is how capitalist development required a violent burning of capital and a brutal massacre and destruction but with global reach. The German, French, and English monopolies clashed in their continuous expansion for control of the markets, which put limits on the process of capital accumulation, and this entire process of crisis of the monopolies made world war more than inevitable.
The First World War, developed mainly in Europe, began on July 28, 1914 and ended on November 11, 1918 with the defeat of Germany and the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919. It was a brutal process of destruction of forces. productive areas of destroyed countries, regions and cities that meant the death of more than 9 million people, an extraordinarily high number, given the technological and industrial sophistication of the belligerents, today considered the fifth deadliest conflict in the history of Humanity.
How did the "Pilgrim's Society" react to the First World War? The powerful monopolistic oligarchy saw in the First War an excellent business opportunity, so large companies and magnates pounced on the enormous possibilities of profits, since the possibility was opened for American capital to reach new markets, rotate to diverse branches of production in a more widespread way, accessing regions, industries and companies where they had not previously reached, which caused a new " explosion" in the development of North American capitalism. As Moody explains : "...a state of chaos ensued in London. Contract hunters and contract brokers pounced on the British War Office...Thus, the war had given Wall Street a completely new role Until now it has been exclusively the headquarters of finance; now it became the largest industrial commercial center the world had ever known. In addition to selling stocks and bonds, financing railroads, and performing the other tasks of a major banking center, Wall Street began trading in shells, cannons, submarines, blankets, clothing, footwear, canned meats, wheat, and the thousands of other items necessary for the processing of a great war..." (39)
What was a disgrace in human terms for the workers, the poor and people who suffered the devastation, was a true business marvel for the US monopolies. The businessmen involved in the business had to face the challenge of accumulating enormous profits without have experience in war business, but was carried out successfully as Moody explains: "This new function had hitherto been unknown to an American businessman. In search of the most qualified man to carry out this campaign. .the Morgan firm discovered Edward R. Stettinius, the president of the Diamond Match Company. Stettinius in turn searched the American industry for the most qualified men to assist him in his gigantic task, with the result that a force was assembled of 175, who were organized into a department humorously known as "SOS" - or "Slaves of Stettinius." Before long this group was purchasing supplies, at a rate of $10,000,000 a day. There was largely never an agency before that had made the materials in the United States, at least in appreciable quantities. They had to massively expand existing munitions factories and build hundreds of new plants entirely. American industry adapted to the new demands quickly and satisfactorily... So the work was successfully carried out until September 1917, the Morgan firm had purchased more than 3 billion dollars in merchandise and ammunition...which It had previously been occupied by European investors." (40)
This is how Howard Zinn explains it: "...American prosperity was now linked to England's war... JP Morgan and company acted as agents of the allies and began lending money in such large quantities that they made enormous profits and linked closely tied American finances to the British victory in the war against Germany" (41) Until 1918, the United States had declared itself neutral in the European conflict and almost abandoned this decision in 1915, when a German submarine sank the Lusitania, an English ocean liner in the that more than a thousand people died, many of them American citizens. The American people asked to declare war on Germany, but President Woodrow Wilson only protested. Wilson declared war on Germany only in April 1917. The country's entry into the First War marked a policy of increasing military interventionism in other countries, such as the intervention in Mexico in 1914 to force the coup general Victoriano Huerta to resign, or the intervention in Haiti in 1915 once President Sam was assassinated to land American troops and companies; or also in 1916, the invasion of the Dominican Republic until 1924, leaving a related government that would open the doors to American investments.
The Treaty of Versailles established the formation of the League of Nations, an international organization that sought to establish the foundations for peace once the First World War ended. But inside the country, the end after the end of the First World War began another war as a result of a brutal reactionary offensive: A furious patriotic turn against all workers' organizations began, thousands of workers were arrested nationwide, the new Communist Parties suffered the brunt of this attack, almost all local organizations, from coast to coast, were raided and practically every leader of the national or local movement was placed under arrest, prosecuted for one thing or another.
Mass deportations of foreign militants took place, as Zinn explains : "...On December 21, 1919, Palmer's men took 249 Russian-born foreigners (including Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman), put them on a transport and They were deported to what was now Soviet Russia...These friends of Salsedo's names were Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. They were put on trial, found guilty and spent seven years in prison while appeals continued, while throughout the country and all over the world people were interested in their case...Sacco and Vanzetti were sentenced to death for being anarchists and foreigners. In August 1927, and while in the streets the police broke up demonstrations and pickets with arrests and beatings and troops surrounded the prison, they were electrocuted...In February 1919 - just after the war - the leaders of the IWW were in prison..." (42)
The Second World War implied the appearance of a new political element: The existence of Nazism and fascism, which were a totally new political movement for the time, cruel towards racial minorities, Jews in particular, racist, undemocratic, which violates freedoms. democratic, and culminates in a bestial dictatorship capable of implementing genocide and all kinds of crimes against humanity. The appearance of the horrific regimes of Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco provoked this reaction, as Zinn explains: " There is some evidence that World War II was the most popular war in the history of North America. It had never before participated in a war. such a large portion of the country: 18 million men entered the armed forces (of which 10 million would go abroad); 25 million workers regularly bought war bonds with their salaries...It was a war against an enemy of "an indescribable evil. Hitler's Germany was spreading totalitarianism, racism and militarism in a war of open aggression the likes of which had never been seen" (43 )
A historical unit
When in 2006 the Bush Administration carried out appointments of new officials in the cabinet to try to reverse the serious political crisis that its administration was facing, all the appointments and renewal of officials had as a characteristic the greater unity of the Bush Administration with Multinational Corporations . In this sense, he was merely repeating a characteristic that had become structural of the country, the growing unity and interweaving of the monopolistic companies that dominate the economy with the state and the government. The close and deep relationship between the Bush Administration and Corporations such as Lockheed Martin, or Goldman Sachs, only confirmed the direction that the relationships between Corporations, Monopolies and Multinationals with the state and government of the country had taken throughout history.
This course was developing increasing present and historical contradictions of the political regime of the United States of America. As we saw, the bourgeois democratic regime of the United States was formed in a historical process, a political and social genesis in which the country was at its birth a small and weak republic, a small capitalist state that emerged in the period of global boom. of capitalism, which achieved its Independence in the 18th century through the First North American Revolution.
To the extent that the military defeat in Iraq and the political defeat caused greater crises in the Bush Administration, these historical contradictions generated in the country's political regime over the centuries became more acute. The Bush Administration was falling into a tailspin, and in its fall it dragged with it all the elements of crisis of the North American imperialist state. At the same time, it incubated an even greater crisis: The defeat of the Administration was the defeat of all of world capitalism, because the Bush Administration's strategy had been adopted practically without exception by almost all capitalist governments in the world. To the extent that rejection of the Bush Administration's racist policy towards New Orleans grew, towards the attack on the freedoms that the Patriot Act meant, and also to the extent that the invasion of Iraq received global repudiation, enormous changes Politicians were incubating as a reflection of the explosion of all the contradictions.
The situation in the country was adopting a growing dynamic of political instability, and the serious crisis was feeding back and began to shake the entire state superstructure of the country, hitting the leadership of the government and having repercussions on Parliament, political parties, and security agencies. , the CIA, the Pentagon, and pressure groups. The way in which the outcome of this crisis occurred, the political and social changes that were generated within the country and the way in which they impacted the entire world political situation are the subject of analysis in the next chapter.
(1) " Global Corporations are companies that simultaneously dominate several branches of commerce, industry and finance worldwide. If the characteristic of modern post-war multinationals was the dominance of one branch of production on a global scale, corporations "Multinationals are a superior Form of Accumulation because they monopolize several branches simultaneously, which allows them to achieve a capital accumulation greater than that achieved by modern post-war multinationals" Daniel Campos. The End of Multinationals. Chapter IV Globalization. Amazon 2012
(2) Howard Zinn. "A People's History of the United States". 1980
(3) Karl Marx, Die Presse No. 293, October 25, 1861
(4) David Ryazanov. "Marx and Engels" 7th Conference
(5) (6) y (7) Howard Zinn. "A People's History of the United States". 1980
(8) Abraham Lincoln. The Lincoln Encyclopedia: The Spoken and Written Words of A. Lincoln Arranged for Ready Reference, Archer H. Shaw (NY, NY: Macmillan, 1950)
(9) , (10) , (11) , (12) , (13) John Moody "Masters of Capital" Chapter I "The Rise of the House of Morgan" 1920.
(14), (15) Ferdinand Lundberg."America's 60 families". Read Books. 2007
(16) Howard Zinn. "A People's History of the United States".1980
(17) , (18) , (19) , and (20) Vladimir I. Lenin. "Imperialism, the upper phase of capitalism". Works, Volume V Editorial Progreso 1973.
(21) Karl Marx. Manifesto of the Communist Party.1848
(22) (23) (24) (25) (26) (27) (28) (29) (30) (31) (32) (33) y (34) Howard Zinn. "A People's History of the United States".1980
(35) Ferdinand Lundberg."America's 60 families". Read Books. 2007
(36)y (37). "A People's History of the United States".1980
(38) "Celebrating the intrepid Wobbly Frank Little" Patrick Burns. Freedom Socialist. December 2017
(39) and (40) John Moody "Masters of Capital" Chapter I "The Rise of the House of Morgan" 1920
(41), (42), (43) Howard Zinn. "A People's History of the United States".1980
Chapter IX Change
"Democracy was everywhere the product of revolution... The Greeks learned from their own experience that democracy was achieved through the direct action of the people and could only be maintained by relentless vigilance against enemies." of their government and their rights"
George Novak. Democracy and Revolution, Section I, Chapter I, 1970
As soon as the Patriot Act was passed, a real rebellion against it began. The rebellion swept through the country and crossed all the institutions of the North American bourgeois state. For this reason, the year 2006 will go down in history as the year in which the Bush Administration's Project for an American Century (PNAC) was defeated, a defeat that meant an enormous triumph for the masses whose impact changed the political situation of the country. country and the global situation as a whole. All, or almost all, of the events that happened in the US and worldwide from 2006 to today can only be explained from the defeat of the PNAC and the Bush Administration: The outbreak of the acute peak of the world crisis of capitalism in 2007, the "crack" of the Multinational Corporations of the years 2008-2009, the bailouts of the capitalist governments to the Multinational Corporations in the years 2008 onwards, the development of the revolutions in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa known universally as the "Arab Spring", the indignant movement in Europe, Occupy Wall Street, the emergence of Black Lives Matters, etc., everything, absolutely everything, is closely linked to what happened since 2006 in the United States. .
In turn, all these events of world politics that have occurred since 2006 today can only be explained from the profound political changes that have occurred in the United States since 2001. The changes impacted the country, the world, and they changed the course of political events, definitively. In this chapter we are going to analyze point by point how the defeat of the PNAC occurred, because we define this as a revolution, and what are the economic, political and social changes that were unleashed from there.
The fight against the PNAC deepens
Throughout 2006 the White House made changes in the cabinet, with the aim of desperately solving the political crisis, the discredit, and the nosedive of the Bush Administration. The Justice Department had frustrated numerous attempts by legislators and civil liberties advocates to learn how the Bush Administration was using the Patriot Act, and the entire battery of antidemocratic measures that the PNAC implied. But Nancy Kranich, president of the oldest and largest library association in the world, the American Library Association (ALA), denounced in 2003 that raids and searches were being carried out in libraries and bookstores, as permitted by article 215 of the Patriot Act; and that federal agents visited around 50 libraries. This was also stated by Deputy Attorney General Viet Dinh before the members of the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives. The rebellion was carried out in the courts, in the streets, in Parliament, in the media, everywhere.
Civil liberties organizations forced the release of reports from the Justice Department by appealing to the FOIA, a federal information law that allows the total or partial disclosure of controlled government information and documents. Justice Department reports revealed that the Attorney General had personally signed more than 170 "emergency foreign intelligence" orders, three times the number authorized in the previous 23 years. At the same time, the complaints indicated that agents from the DEA and the Immigration and Naturalization Service were committing serious violations of civil liberties against immigrants. There was widespread criticism such as that of Republican legislator John Conyers who stated "...we have only begun to scratch the surface regarding the Department of Justice's disregard for constitutional rights and civil liberties. ... I congratulate the inspector general for having courage and independence to highlight the extent to which the government's war on terrorism has harmed innocent victims, with no ties to terror at all" (1)
In May, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency released a report to Congress on its Terrorism Information Awareness (TIA) program, which would be responsible for collecting and processing the information and activity records of every American citizen, but there was a Senate rebellion that voted unanimously to end all funding for TIA. This forced Admiral John Poindexter, the architect of the program, to resign from the Department of Defense on August 12, 2003. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) faced the "Improvement Act" . Home Security" called Patriot Act II, with a lawsuit against section 215 of the Patriot Act in 2003. In the federal courts of Michigan and defending the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, the ACLU filed on behalf of six groups and community organizations, including an Arab-American civil rights organization and a Muslim community association, who were under investigation because of their ethnicity.
Laura Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Office, led the fight against the campaign of Attorney General John Ashcroft, who promoted the so-called "victory ride" campaign, and toured 20 cities demanding support for the Patriot Act, and advocating for a new "Patriot III" legislation that would grant the new powers. But Ashcroft's "more Patriot Act" demand was challenged by the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), which also won a federal district court ruling against provisions of the Patriot Act that claimed it was illegal. provide "expert advice and assistance" to groups designated as "terrorist" by the Secretary of State. Public outcry against violations of civil liberties under the Patriot Act continued to increase. Throughout 2003, 3 states and 149 cities, towns, and counties passed "civil liberties safe zone" resolutions or ordinances, while that same year the National Coalition to Repeal the Patriot Act emerged, which held hearings independent public meetings in cities across the country to collect information and testimonies about the law, civil liberties, racial discrimination and police brutality.
Bookstores and libraries were affected because the Patriot Act forced readers to self-censor what books to buy, especially those people trying to understand the events of 9/11 and read about or obtain information about Iraq, terrorism, or Islam and They could become terrorist suspects and be subject to investigation. The ACLU also urged Florida librarians to post signs warning that they could become the target of government surveillance, and librarians across most of the country joined forces against the Patriot Act. In turn, the ACLU and the First Amendment Center jointly developed a huge and deep battle over the application of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
In 2005, legislator Bernie Sanders presented a bill prohibiting the Department of Justice from using any of the funds allocated to carry out searches in libraries and bookstores: "...we saw it during the persecutions of the Japanese in World War II, the fear of the reds of the 1950s and the civil rights movement of the 1960s, and now we see ourselves in the post 9/11 investigations and arrests of Arabs and Muslims" (2 ) John Doe v. Alberto R. Gonzales was a case in which the ACLU, along with libraries and librarians, challenged Section 2709 of the Patriot Act.
That trial was carried out by John Doe, who was the recipient of a National Security Letter (NSL), which requested all the information on one of the computers in his Connecticut library. By taking his case to court with support from the ACLU, Doe was able to have US District Court Judge Victor Marrero strike down the NSL provisions of the USA Patriot Act in September 2004. John Doe again challenged the NSL in Doe v. Ashcroft based on his 1st and 4th Amendment defense, a three-judge panel heard oral arguments on November 2, 2005 in which Jameel Jaffer of the ACLU reiterated the allegations against the NSL.
In the months after 9/11, there was a 20% increase in ACLU membership; between August 2001 and December 2002, total membership reached 330,000, but growth continued and by the month of By August 2004, the total membership of the ACLU had already reached 400,000. These indicators showed the trends that were occurring in the depths of the North American mass movement in defense of democratic freedoms, a people that was once again showing behavior in line with its history.
In those years, the people of the United States, still moved by the terrorist attacks of 9/11, still confused by what their political and union leaders told them, stunned by the mass media, by the systematic campaigns against "Terror" and the "Axis of Evil" , as repression and persecution increased and the curtailment of democratic freedoms increased, resistance to those measures also increased. Simultaneously with the increase in ACLU membership, there was the emergence of movements of the families of 9/11 who demanded an investigation into the attacks, held candlelight vigils in front of the White House and organized themselves into movements such as the " Jersey Girls" and the "9/11 Family Movement", carrying out the mobilization of the relatives of the victims of 9/11 and organizing periodic trips to Washington DC to demand the investigation and fight for the truth of the attacks.
The entire process of resistance to the Patriot Act produced a crisis that led to confrontations between the Executive Branch and the Judicial Branch. This confrontation was expressed around a series of legal battles, some of a historical nature, that set a precedent in the fight to defend democratic freedoms. One was the Rasul vs. trial. Bush who ruled on whether or not the US judicial system has the authority to decide whether foreigners detained at Guantanamo Bay were unjustly imprisoned. The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) was the first organization to file two habeas corpus petitions called Rasul v. Bush, and Habib v. Bush. Both petitions challenged the indefinite detention that Rasul and Habib suffered after being captured in Afghanistan.
The government had designated the detainees as enemy combatants and they were not allowed access to a lawyer, the right to a trial, or knowledge of the charges against them. The Supreme Court on June 28, 2004 ruled that Rasul be released, allowed to have private, supervised conversations with his lawyers, and that the interrogations cease. The same failed in the case of Mamdouh Habib, an Australian citizen who filed a very similar lawsuit against Rasul on June 10, 2002. The next battle was the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld , a sentence that no one hesitates to describe as historic.
The Supreme Court ruled on June 29, 2006 that the president exceeded his powers by creating military tribunals at the Guantánamo Bay naval base, an important and long-awaited judicial decision that in a few hours went around the world. The ruling by the highest US court dealt a strong blow to the Bush Administration, stating that "the composition and procedures of these courts violate not only the 1949 Geneva Convention, but also the Uniform Code of Military Justice of the United States." The ruling thus put a limit on the alleged blank check that the Bush Administration thought it had received from Congress when it authorized it to use the AUMF, invade Afghanistan, and all subsequent attacks.
An irony of fate meant that the person who dealt this harsh legal blow to the Patriot Act and the AUMF was Osama Bin Laden's own driver, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, who was a citizen of Yemeni origin hired as Bin Laden's personal driver. Hamdan was arrested in 2001 during the invasion of Afghanistan, accused of being an "enemy combatant" and tried for "conspiracy and providing material support to terrorism ." Held in Guantánamo he was accused of conspiracy by a military court created on March 21, 2002, but Hamdam asserted his right to habeas corpus , and based his defense on the lack of jurisdiction of the military court. He further alleged that fundamental principles of legal rights and particularly the right of every accused to see and hear the evidence in his case had been violated during the trial.
Still, the Department of Defense continued to hold Hamdan as an enemy combatant at Guantánamo until 2008 when he was transferred in November 2008 to Yemen to carry out the remaining month of his sentence. He was only released by the government of that country on January 8, 2009, and Hamdan's entire conviction was overturned on October 16, 2012 on appeal to the Court of Appeals in Washington, DC, whereupon he was acquitted of all charges. the charges.
But the Bush Administration's response to the landmark Hamdan v. Rumsfeld was to send to Congress a draft "Military Commissions Act of 2006",
whose approval established rules for the indefinite detention,
interrogation, trial and treatment of suspects for the crime of
terrorism, directly, seriously, but " legally" restricting ,
the rights of detained foreigners, in express collision with
International Law, International Human Rights Law and International
Humanitarian Law (IHL). Following the Supreme Court's landmark ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, only worsened the confrontations between the Executive Branch and the Judicial Branch.
The Judiciary had declared Military Commissions unconstitutional following Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, and in turn, the fight against the Patriot Act regime continued with the Boumediene vs. Bush , who questioned the legality of Boumediene's detention at the Guantanamo military base, as well as the constitutionality of the Military Commissions Act of 2006. The case of Boumediene vs. Bush allowed those detained by the Bush Administration to obtain the right of habeas corpus , as well as reject their classification as "enemy combatants."
Faced with the growing discontent, mobilization and confrontation with its policies that the Bush Administration suffered, it was forced to legally protect the category of "enemy combatant " and soften part of its antidemocratic policies derived from the establishment of the Patriot Act regime with sent to Congress the " Detainee Treatment Act" (DTA, 2005) and the "Military Commissions Act" ("in English Military Commissions Act ", MCA of the year 2006). These laws sought to change something so that nothing would change. The DTA attributes to the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia the jurisdiction to review the Administration's decision to classify a person as an "enemy combatant", with the result of being able to order the release of a person if said classification is revoked. The MCA recognizes some procedural guarantees in favor of the "illegal combatant" but the essential thing, the "hard core" of the Executive Order of November 13, 2001, was safeguarded.
With the DTA and MCA laws, the category of "enemy combatant" was elevated to legal status and thus became a new basis to justify the detention and indefinite deprivation of liberty of detainees. On the other hand, with these laws, the power to classify a person as an "enemy combatant" continued to correspond to the Executive Branch, although the exercise of this power could be controlled a posteriori by a Judicial Body. But the sanction of the DTA and the MCA, although the system of military commissions dependent on the executive was maintained and legalized, were proof that there was widespread resistance to the Patriot Act regime, and that the Bush Administration should make small legal concessions to prevent the advancement of the fight in defense of democratic freedoms.
Complaints in the media
Along with the mobilizations, the emergence of resistance organizations to the Patriot Law regime, the contradictions between the institutions of the political regime expressed in the friction between the Executive and the Judiciary, complaints began to become widespread in the mass media that They exposed the reactionary nature of the political regime that was being implemented. The Washington Post reported on December 26, 2002 about a secret CIA prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, The Guardian reported on March 14, 2004 the existence of three British citizens held captive at Camp Eco in the Guantanamo Bay complex. On March 4, 2005, the Irish magazine Aldea published an article titled "The Kidnappings Through Shannon" where it stated that Dublin and Shannon airports in Ireland were "used by the CIA to kidnap suspects in their war on terror."
On November 2, 2005, journalist Dana Priest published a serious denunciation in the Washington Post of November 2, 2005 under the title "The CIA takes terrorism suspects to secret prisons" The article claimed the existence of clandestine, extraterritorial CIA interrogation sites which revealed the existence of "Black Sites" and sparked a global debate about their existence. Dana Priest revealed the existence of 750 Guantánamo detainees in military custody, and that the CIA carried out detentions of approximately 30 senior members of the leadership of Al Qaeda, Taliban and approximately 100 infantry soldiers in its own facilities around the world. .
While media outlets such as the Washington Post and The Guardian carried out these complaints, human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International denounced secret prisons managed by the CIA, flights chartered by the CIA to transport prisoners, and provided testimonies from former inmates. of the "black sites". On August 13, 2007, Jane Mayer published in The New Yorker that the CIA had operated "black sites" under direct presidential order from George W. Bush since shortly after 9/11, and that torture was used. On October 4, 2007, The New York Times reported that shortly after Alberto Gonzales became Attorney General in February 2005, the Justice Department issued a secret ruling that for the first time provided the CIA with explicit authorization to torture. to terrorism suspects.
Complaints against the Patriot Act regime also began in Europe. A
June 2006 report from the Council of Europe estimated that 100 people
had been kidnapped by the CIA on EU territory with the collaboration of
members of the European Council, and that these detainees had been
handed over to other countries after having passed through the
clandestine detention centers used by the CIA. In
February 2007, the European Parliament report alleged that the CIA had
carried out 1,245 flights, many of them to destinations where suspects
could face torture, in violation of Article 3 of the UN Convention.
In November 2005, the Spanish newspaper El País reported that CIA planes had landed in the Canary Islands and Palma de Mallorca, while the prosecutor at the Bobigny court in France opened an investigation to verify the presence in the airport of a plane in Le Bourget that was used to transport CIA prisoners to the Guantánamo Detention Camp. On June 5, 2013, journalist Glenn Greenwald helped break the story of the FISA court's secret order to Verizon to provide the National Security Agency with telephone records of all calls between the US and abroad, as well as all domestic calls.
Greenwald has an extensive history of reporting, initially from his blog called "Unclaimed Territory" and then with various media outlets such as Salon.com, The Guardian, and his own publication, The Intercept, along with Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill. Poitras, a documentary filmmaker who has won numerous awards for reporting civil rights violations, had full access in 2013, along with Glenn Greenwald, to the files of the NSA mass surveillance program revealed by Edward Snowden. What led Snowden to contact Greenwald and Poitras was a Salon.com article written by Greenwald in which she explained how Poitras' documentaries had made her a "government target ." Greenwald suffered persecution, and his partner David Miranda was detained in 2013 by London's Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) for nine hours, the maximum allowed by law, under Schedule 7 of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2000.
That same year, Greenwald testified before Brazil's National Congress that the US government had used the fight against terrorism as a pretext for clandestine surveillance. Also that year Greenwald defended Snowden's case before the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs of the European Parliament, and denounced that the United Kingdom, through its interception of submarine fiber optic cables, is the main threat to the privacy of citizens. Europeans, with regard to the use of telephones and emails, in a joint work carried out by the NSA, together with its subordinate junior partner, the British agency GCHQ, and denounces both Democrats and Republicans in their actions.
On February 5, 2007, Portugal's Attorney General Cándida Almeida announced an investigation prompted by complaints from MEP Ana Gomes on January 26, 2007, who reported that illegal flights were frequently allowed during the Durao Barroso governments in the period 2002-2004 and Santana Lopes during the period 2004-2005. Approximately 150 CIA flights have been identified as having flown through Portugal. The European Parliament report concluded that many European countries tolerated illegal actions by the CIA, including secret flights in Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
The fight against the Patriot Act regime goes global
The Bush Administration was already mired in a serious political crisis that worsened when Alberto R. Gonzales announced his resignation as Attorney General of the United States on August 27, 2007, motivated by scandals surrounding espionage, the controversial dismissal of nine prosecutors and the allegations of torture in Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib. On July 28, 2007, President Bush announced that his administration had submitted a bill to Congress to amend the 1978 FISA law, suggesting that it was "very outdated" and did not apply to disposable cell phones and newer Internet-based technologies. This new bill addressed these new technologies, and called for Congress to approve the legislation before its August 2007 recess, stating that "every day Congress postpones reforms increases the danger to our nation." The law was signed by President Bush as the "Protect America Act " eliminated the requirement of a FISA warrant for any communication, including telephone communications "without the order or supervision of a court", whereby the law opened the door to domestic espionage.
The ACLU called it the "America's Police Act ", and the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the forces that defended democratic rights within the country, were joined by those who defended those rights internationally, so the fight was strengthened globally with new organizations that joined the confrontation with the Patriot Act regime throughout the world. In December 2006, WikiLeaks emerged and began publishing anonymous reports and leaked documents on its website with a database that grew to accumulate 1.2 million documents. Its creator Julian Assange, Australian programmer, journalist, hacker and activist, had to request refuge on June 19, 2012 at the embassy of the Republic of Ecuador in London, accused of leaking documents from security agencies and collaborating with terrorism. But WikiLeaks helped understand the horrors of the Patriot Act regime when it released a video of the July 12, 2007, airstrike on Baghdad that shows U.S. soldiers shooting Reuters reporter Namir Noor-Eldeen and aide of the.
WikiLeaks made public the "Iraq War Logs"
(in Spanish, Iraq War Documents) in October 2010 with 391,831 documents
that were leaked from the Pentagon between January 1, 2004 and December
31, 2009, denouncing in them the systematic use of torture, the death
toll constituting one of the largest leaks of classified documents in
continued its campaign of denunciations and leaked files and emails from
the private intelligence and espionage agency, the Stratfor company, in
February 2012, known as "The Stratfor Files." In the face of WikiLeaks denial-of-service attacks, it moved its information to Amazon's cloud computing servers.
But China blocked cyber links to the WikiLeaks site on Wednesday, December 1, 2010 over the possibility of revelations of US diplomatic cables sent by the US embassies to Seoul and Beijing, referring to North Korea. On December 1, Amazon, under pressure from Senator Joe Liberman, stopped hosting WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks responded via Twitter that if Amazon was against the First Amendment it should stop selling books. On December 2, 2010, the company EveryDNS terminated the contract with WikiLeaks, cutting off its access, while French Minister Eric Besson asked OVH to stop hosting the WikiLeaks portal.
On December 3, 2010, a reform of the SHIELD law (Securing Human Intelligence and Enforcing Lawful Dissemination) was carried out, the Espionage Act that prohibits the publication of classified information on encrypted secrets or international intelligence communications. On December 4, 2010, PayPal canceled the account it had with WikiLeaks, through which the organization obtained funding in the form of donations, and on December 6, MasterCard announced that it would not accept its system as a means of payment to WikiLeaks. while that same day PostFinance-Swiss Postal also blocked the possibility of donations or payments to WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks was being persecuted by the US government, the French government, the Chinese government, the US Parliament, the Pentagon, and was also receiving boycotts from companies such as Pay Pal, Amazon, PostFinance-Swiss Postal and Mastercard. On December 6, in defense of WikiLeaks, the Internet group Anonnymus launched Operation Payback of cyberattacks against PostFinance and PayPal, which were joined by VISA on December 7, which withdrew the ability to make donations or payments to WikiLeaks. In response on December 8, the Icelandic company Data Cell that managed payments to WikiLeaks decided to take immediate legal action to make the donations possible. On December 9, 2010, Twitter canceled the account of one of the WikiLeaks support groups, Anonymous, and then Facebook removed the Operation Payback page in defense of WikiLeaks.
The digital war had undoubtedly begun and the battle in defense of democratic freedoms had moved from the streets, newspapers, and mass media to social networks and the Internet. On December 10, 2010, Anonymous decided to modify its strategy and decided to disclose the WikiLeaks leaks, the Reykjavík District Court ruled in favor of those who wanted to make donations to WikiLeaks against the company Valitor, which had blocked Visa and MasterCard payments. The battle continued and everyone positioned themselves on each side of the trench, for example the former Vietnam veteran Daniel Ellsberg who released the Pentagons Papers in 1971 strongly supported Wikileaks, as did the president of Veterans for Peace, Mike Ferner, the documentary filmmaker John Pilger, as well as the controversial Republican congressman from Texas Ron Paul, who was the first American politician to publicly express himself in favor of the founder of WikiLeaks.
On December 9, 2010, the then president of Brazil Lula da Silva defended WikiLeaks and opposed the arrest of Julian Assange. On July 25, 2010, the newspapers The Guardian, The New York Times, and Der Spiegel made public a set of some 92,000 documents in relation to the War in Afghanistan between 2004 and 2009, and on May 20, 2013, protests broke out. global denunciations by Edward Snowden that highlighted the consequences that the passage of the Patriot Act has not only within the United States, but throughout the world. The revelations, the appearance of Wikileaks, and denunciations such as those of Edward Snowden, brought to mind the denunciations of Daniel Ellsberg and Anthony Russo known as the " Pentagon Papers." WikiLeaks was not alone in its fight against the Patriot Act regime and the PNAC, but the resistance had become global.
Immigrant mobilizations break out
if the problems facing the Bush Administration were few, the Latino
uprising broke out at the end of March and beginning of April 2006. On
May 1, 2006, hundreds of thousands of protesters paraded in the
country's large cities to oppose the bill HR3447, by Congressmen
Sensenbrenner-King, which had been approved by the House of
Representatives. The bill
represented a major attack on the rights of Latino immigrants, which
provoked anger and protest and unleashed a broad protest movement in the
North American territory that had not been seen for several decades
with huge demonstrations.
example, in California there were mobilizations never seen before in
the history of the state with more than a million people, accompanied by
marches of 50,000 people in other states like Denver, and 20,000 in
Phoenix, which was also the largest demonstration in the history of the
state. from Arizona. Thousands
more marched in places as far away as Charlotte, Milwaukee, Sacramento,
Los Angeles, and Chicago, with energetic marches full of enthusiasm,
composed mostly of workers. The
Sensenbrenner-King Bill proposed harsh measures against the employment
of undocumented workers, against immigration, and proposed the
construction of a wall nearly 700 miles long.
Latino immigrants erupted throughout the country denouncing that the law was racist, that it criminalized those who cross the border, the workers and the immense Latino people. The HR3447 Sensenbrenner-King Act highlighted a new fact of reality in the country's political life. In the United States there had been an enormous, historic demographic change.
in 1950 the community of Hispanic origin had a population that did not
exceed 1%, in 2006 it had risen to 14% with more than 48 million people.
Today the Latin
population of the country is already 15% with a constant rate of growth,
which is on its way to becoming 25% of the population in 2050. The
Anglo-Saxon population, which was 80% of the total population in 1950,
It is being reduced to 60%, while the other 40% is being made up of
minorities: 15% of Latinos, 14% of African Americans and 10% of Asians
and other racial sectors. In
turn, Latinos have displaced African Americans from second place in
terms of minorities, which makes them a political actor of increasing
Numerous business, executive, and government management positions in mayors, city councils, and governorships are increasingly occupied by Latinos. But also, the composition of the working class in the United States has undergone a great change in recent decades. Due to demographic change, in 1970, only 5.2% of workers were immigrants. But in 1990 this figure had already risen to 8.8%, and by 2011 it reached 16.2%, not only an increasingly important percentage, but also the most combative, by one of the most exploited and oppressed sectors of the society.
This is what the Sensenbrenner-King law revealed, in the same path of confrontation and subjugation of minorities that the Bush Administration had indicated as a political strategy, but which was responded forcefully by the Latino masses. This fact added a new component to the popular mobilization, if in the 60's and 70's the mobilization united the people, the African-American movement, youth and women, now Latinos were incorporated as an active subject of the mobilization, and a revolutionary factor. In April 2006, a simultaneous mobilization took place in 40 cities throughout the country.
The unions had not had a consistent policy of inclusion towards immigrants, but in 2003 the first important immigrant march was held, organized by the HERE union, and supported by the AFL-CIO headquarters and other unions. The most important demonstration of forces, however, took place on May 1, 2006, the day when millions of immigrants throughout the country took to the streets and made their claim.
A few months after these mobilizations, dangerous movements began in the financial system, because from the very beginning, in the first months of 2007, several investment funds and Multinational Corporations began to suffer serious financial problems, and began to feel the threat of the bankruptcy. The lack of funds to respond to its obligations was a product of the fall of sub-prime, bad loans, which began to hit banks and investment funds mercilessly but spread to all papers, debts, assets and derivatives of the world. After the bursting of the technological bubble at the beginning of the 21st century, between 2000 and 2001 the economy entered a recession, and the Bush Administration's strategy had been to relaunch the economy and reactivate consumption and production through credit. In this case, an enormous flow of capital was established around real estate credit, a strategy of the Bush Administration that caused a great real estate bubble, based on the home construction industry.
But the purchase and sale of housing for speculative purposes was accompanied by high leverage, that is, credit that was added to other credits to continue making speculative maneuvers. Speculators bought houses again with a new mortgage, when both operations were not financed through a bridge mortgage. The market brought great benefits to investors, and contributed to an increase in real estate prices, and, therefore, debt. The housing construction stampede caused an excessive rise in all prices of cement, wood, metallurgy, transportation, as well as all the materials and supplies necessary for construction.
the rise of the industry was based on cheaper Latin labor, which allows
a higher rate of exploitation and profit for companies. That
is why the fight of Latinos against the Sensenbrenner-King Law was of
critical importance when analyzing the political situation of the
country, and the situation of the world capitalist economy. The
struggle of Latinos complicated things for the businesses of large
companies, because it questioned a law that sought to limit the rights
of Latinos to benefit large companies that could hire Latino labor
unlimitedly, increasing their profits. The emergence of the Latin insurrection put an end to the plans of large companies, and the Sensenbrenner-King Law was frozen.
The speculative bubble rose until 2004 when the United States Federal Reserve began to raise interest rates to control inflation, and from that year until 2006 the interest rate went from 1% to 5.25%. House price growth was spectacular between 2001 and 2005, but in August 2005 the house price and sales rate fell abruptly. Foreclosures due to non-payment of debt grew dramatically, and numerous entities began to have problems returning money to investors or receiving financing from lenders.
The total number of foreclosures in 2006 amounted to 1,200,000, which led to fifty mortgage entities going bankrupt within a year. By 2006, the real estate crisis had already spread to the stock market: the US Home Construction Index fell 40%. In 2007, the problem of subprime mortgage debt began to contaminate international financial markets, becoming a major international crisis that affected numerous companies. This was the case of New Century, Bear Sterns, Blackstone, National City Home Equity, the IKB of Germany and the BNP Paribas of France, immediately interbank credit, one of the most important institutions of capitalism, and the entire financial system collapsed. world, with different rhythms and inequalities, went bankrupt. This situation forced the central banks to intervene jointly, the Federal Reserve (Fed), the European Central Bank (ECB), the Bank of Japan (BoJ) and the Bank of England (BoE), which began to implement bailouts, an intervention that From there it became chronic and permanent, but it also marked the beginning of one of the most important political events of the 21st century: The global crisis of capitalism.
The outbreak of the acute peak of the global crisis of capitalism
Faced with the outbreak of the crisis, President George W. Bush declared that the foundations of the economy remained solid, but the banks did not listen to him, they did not lend each other more money; or they did so reluctantly, at very high rates, due to mutual distrust. The Bank of England saved Northern Rock whose clients withdrew 3,000 million euros in one weekend, the Swiss bank UBS announced losses of 3,400 million US$, Merrill Lynch for 7,900 million US$, Citigroup for 3,100 million US$ , and Morgan Stanley for US$9 billion, in addition to the sale of 10% of its shares to the Chinese government. The crisis globally affected all the economies of the entire world, in Spain its own real estate bubble collapsed, in Iceland and Ireland the banks collapsed, the British bank Barclays lost assets of 1,818 million euros, the Swiss insurer Swiss Re announced losses of 733 million euros, the British bank Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) announced bad debts for 1,737 million euros.
The global bankruptcy affected interbank credit, credit in general, and the collapse of interest rates affected the process of capital circulation, vital for the functioning of capitalism, similar to the process of blood circulation in the human organism. The interest rate, an expression of the rate of profit, collapsed since the beginning of the crisis and remains at extremely low levels. The central banks tried through bailouts to revive the capital circulation process, but the damage was immense. 2007 closed with a serious disruption of the process of expanded reproduction and capital circulation, which prepared the conditions for the heart attacks that occurred in the capitalist system in 2008 when the heart of capitalism collapsed.
March and September, the Investment Banks began to fail. In March, Bear
Stearns, which had survived the Wall Street crash of 1929, was the " most admired"
in Fortune's rankings, but had debts in the billions and a leverage
ratio of 35.5 to 1. The Fed gave a loan to JP Morgan to buy Bear, but
the subprime crisis continued to deepen. The Association of Mortgage Banks revealed that the number of defaults was 6 million contracts for 600,000 million US$. House prices fell 8.9%, the biggest drop in 20 years. The
Mortgage Bankers Association raised the social gravity of unprecedented
magnitude in US history: the executions and expulsions of families who
lost their homes reached a record level in history.
After Bear's bankruptcy, the largest bailout in US history occurred, with state funds the giant mortgage conglomerates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were rescued. Fannie Mae is the popular name for the Federal National Mortgage Association, created in 1938 under the Roosevelt administration. Freddie Mac is the Federal Residential Mortgage Loan Corporation created in 1970. Both managed a volume of US$5 billion, equivalent to the GDP of Latin America, with more than 50% of the mortgages in the country.
bankruptcy of the two mortgage credit giants threatened Sovereign Bank,
Pimco, the largest fixed-income fund manager in the world, the State of
China, and numerous Central Banks and Sovereign Investment Funds linked
to the mortgage giants. The
Bush Administration invested billions of dollars in the purchase of
shares of Fannie and Freddie through a multimillion-dollar bailout plan
designed by the chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, the head
of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) James Lockhart, the
advisors delegates from both mortgage companies and the Secretary of the
Treasury, Henry Paulson.
The tranquility produced by the intervention in Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae lasted a week, because on September 15 a complete economic earthquake occurred: the investment bank Lehman Brothers went bankrupt. Lehman had weathered the Civil War and the Great Depression but was riddled with debt and lost 73% of its value. His fall was of such importance that many analysts consider that day as the beginning of the crisis. The fall of Lehman was a blow to world trade because it issued hundreds of billions of dollars in short-term debt, a fundamental pinion in trade that is short-term credits, 30 days, 60 and 90 days. Lehman's papers acted as lubricant and fuel for commerce, but without Lehman, they went into a tailspin. World trade came to a grinding halt, and at the end of 2008 it contracted by 40%.
After the collapse of Lehman, the bankruptcy of American International Group (AIG), the world's largest insurer, occurred after the collapse of its CDS (credit default swaps) market for credit risk derivatives. AIG offered advice on sophisticated tax evasion techniques because the conglomerate is closely linked to offshore financial centers, or "tax havens" The US took control of almost 80% of AIG's shares and Nouriel Roubini ironically: "...with the nationalization of AIG...the United States is now the world's largest insurance company...socialism for the rich...Wall Street, the place where profits are privatized and losses socialized" (3)
After the bankruptcy of AIG came the starring role of Washington Mutual. Until 2008, the largest bank collapse in North American history had been the fall of Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust in 1984. But it paled compared to the one led by Washington Mutual, known as WaMu, the largest savings bank association. largest bank in the country with a history of 119 years, became the largest bank failure in history. If Lehman had an impact on commerce, Fannie and Freddie on credit and AIG on insurance, Washington Mutual did so on commercial banking, and WaMu sold deposits and subsidiaries to JP Morgan Chase, an operation that unleashed all kinds of suspicions because for the second time For the first time in six months, JP Morgan Chase took over deposits and assets of a financial institution, making it the largest bank in the country.
Until that moment, the policy of the Bush Administration, the G7 governments and their Central Banks was to come to the aid of multinationals and corporations to the extent that they required financial assistance and were heading or directly declaring bankruptcy. This policy of "random rescues", putting out the fires that occurred in Europe, the US and Japan as they occurred, began to prove insufficient. To face a crisis of that magnitude, larger operations were necessary, so between the months of September and October 2008 the first coordinated and global rescue process took place, and with this policy the "random" rescue stage ended . .
The stage of coordinated and global bailouts began with the Emergency Economic Stabilization Law of 10/3/08 (in English, "The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act 110-343 "), which implied a bailout in the amount of US$7 billion. S prepared by the Secretary of the Treasury of the Bush Administration , Henry Paulson together with the president of the Fed Ben Bernanke and agreed with the largest banks in the country. The
bailout included the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), aimed at
purchasing troubled securities with the aim of strengthening banks,
recovering credit and reviving the flow of capital. Europe,
Japan, China and the BRIC'S followed in the footsteps of the US, the
Federal Reserve (FED) and Wall Street set the orientation that all
The EU and the ECB had to put out the fires that threatened all the most important Multinational Corporations. These measures were risky, but motivated by even greater risks: if some of these countries declared bankruptcy, they could cause the collapse of creditor banks such as UBS of Switzerland, the Austrian bank Raiffeisen, Commerzbank AG, Deutsche Bank of Germany or France's BNP Paribas.
was also the case of countries that sought to become financial havens
and suffered a shock from currency leaks, such as Ireland or Iceland,
whose stock market sank 76% after being closed for a few days. The
hit of the crisis in China forced Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to promote a
bailout that reached the figure of 5 billion US$, with the central
objective of developing public works and credits to reactivate the
economy. The shock
suffered by China due to the decline in its exports resulted in the
closure of factories in the south of the country and the destruction of
thousands of jobs. Growth went from 11.4% in 2007 to 9% in 2008, and the Chinese bailout was transformed into a powerful real estate bubble.
The crisis made it possible to corroborate the central role that the United States maintains as the global protector of capitalism. The dollar and Treasury Bonds became the main refuges against the global meltdown, despite the fact that the crisis broke out in the heart of the US economy. The dollar strengthened because it began to be demanded by US banks. around the world, and the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) assessed that the dollar came to represent 55% of assets and liabilities, more than 70% of reserves, 80% of transactions, 70% of imports and almost all oil trade in the world. At the same time that Russia, Brazil, India, South Korea and Taiwan began to lead the world's accumulation of dollar reserves, this currency became, according to the BIS definition, the " favorite currency of central banks."
the most acute and dramatic peak of the crisis, nothing more quickly
refuted the groups of intellectuals and analysts who began to propose
the thesis of the "loss of US hegemony", the exclusive fact of reality
is that in the midst of the biggest crisis in the history of capitalism
and the US economy, the only thing that strengthened was the dollar. All G7 countries, and most of the backward countries, ran to shelter and protect their dollar reserves and US Treasury assets. The
demand for the dollar in the midst of the crisis is the clearest sign
that large companies, countries and capitalist powers consider the
United States with its 7 fleets, its military dominance and arms power
as the greatest guarantor of last resort of capitalism, compared to any
eventuality that calls it into question.
November 14 and 15, the G20 met in Washington, an organization that,
although it existed since 1999, became an important instrument of the
actions of capitalist governments together with the G7 that imposed the
global line of bailout, of giving money to multinationals. and
Investment Banks, adding words of commitment in the final document, such
as " establishing financial regulation standards" , that is, establishing controls on unbridled speculation, an issue that ultimately never happened. The G20 consolidated US dominance, consolidated bailouts as a policy to save multinationals and corporations at any price.
The G20 in Washington included the incorporation of minor capitalist countries such as China, Brazil, India, Russia, Australia and South Africa into decision-making, which is a distorted expression of the blow that the imperialist countries suffered and the historical degree of the magnitude of the crisis of capitalism, which forced the G7 governments to appeal to the support of backward countries to move forward with their plans.
The fall of Bush and the PNAC
political disaster of the Bush Administration and the Project for a New
American Century (PNAC) began to affect not only the political
situation in the United States, but also the world situation. It ushered in a global crisis of capitalism of historic magnitude that continues to unfold to this day. The
fall of the PNAC strategy and the Patriot Act regime was a revolution,
the IV North American Revolution of the 21st Century. And
but the most reliable, palpable and irrefutable proof that the fall of
the PNAC was the Fourth North American Revolution, was the outbreak of a
global crisis of capitalism of a magnitude only comparable to the crash
of '29 that shook Wall Street and the capitalist world. then.
The Bush Administration came to the end of its mandate due to a political agreement that sustained its permanence in power. It was impossible for it to be sustained in the midst of such enormous discredit, liquidated by the events of the class struggle, both worldwide and within the United States. In the Middle East, in Iraq and Afghanistan, the mobilizations liquidated the PNAC. Inside the country they prevented the establishment of the Patriot Act regime. But the most critical moment erupted right at the time of the 2008 presidential campaigns.
The crisis of capitalism broke out right in the middle of the final stretch of the presidential elections. The disastrous Bush administration posed a heavy burden for whoever was nominated by the Republican party, an assessment for which Vice President Cheney did not run for president and George Bush himself was absent from the campaign of his party's candidates, so as not to contaminate them with their bad reputation. So serious was the crisis of the Republican Party that one of the fundamental concerns of the Republican candidate John McCain, who was nominated as a presidential candidate, was having to distance himself from the Bush Administration. During the campaign McCain fled from the public support of the visible heads of the Bush Administration, because given the deep discredit in which the officials found themselves, they took away votes from him.
Barack Obama's candidacy was promoted by the Democratic Party with the aim of diverting the profound rise of masses that had been unleashed in the country and containing popular discontent. With the slogan "Change" and the arrival of an African American to power, he gave the "appearance" of the arrival of a sector of the oppressed to power. Obama's candidacy never questioned capitalism, rather it was presented with the objective of acting as a last trench of defense against the rise and workers' and popular demands, and as such, it presented the features of a popular government alternative that the US ruling classes could offer at that time. Barak Hussein Obama II, was the son of an American mother and a Kenyan father, and when he became a presidential candidate on June 3, 2008, defeating Senator Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton, the United States was for the first time in history the doors of having a black president, a racial minority that just a few decades before suffered the ridicule of racial segregation, and that continued to be a victim of racism.
On August 27, 2008, Obama was nominated as the Democratic Party candidate for the presidential elections, after which he began a tour of Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, the West Bank, Israel, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. Sectors of the poorest sections of the population, Latinos, African Americans, immigrants, and humble workers were attracted and mobilized around his candidacy. Prominent members of " progressive " think-thanks such as David Axelrod, Robert Gibbs, and David Plouffe collaborated in the design of the campaign , which marked another difference from what had been experienced until now in the country: The Think-thank Neocons were now outside of track, and think-thanks made their entrance on the scene, designing a campaign with a political and social background, based on the economic crisis, war, social inequality, racism, migration, social security and the role of women .
In this last strategy, Michelle Obama played a fundamental role, printing her campaign as a candidate for African-American first lady, attempting to give the image of representing the most oppressed women, women, all of which was combined with an efficient and innovative system of use of social networks and the Internet, which until then had not been an important factor in political technology. The campaign website was created in ten days and managed to attract millions of followers, but it also used Facebook and Myspace in a way never seen before in an electoral campaign, achieving an electronic contact list of more than 13 million people. The Facebook page attracted three million people and MyBarackObama.com had 2 million more people, in addition, more than 2,000 YouTube videos were posted that were viewed more than 15 million times.
Not only in terms of the use of social networks, the 2008 electoral campaign was innovative, but it also presented changes in the structure of political forces with the emergence of the Tea Party, which reached a very important position in the Republican campaign when Sarah was chosen. Palin, the governor of Alaska, as a vice presidential candidate. The Tea Party was a regrouping of the right, and the extreme right, a remnant of the Neocon, which presented itself as a wing of the Republican Party, a radicalized right-wing movement that presented itself under the name of the Boston movements against the British Empire. in the origins of the country, but that in reality marked a political change in the reorganization of the right-wing political forces.
Barack Obama's election campaign fundraising broke previous records on several occasions and changed expectations for future presidential elections. The slogan that ran through the entire campaign was "Change We Can Believe In" or (in Spanish, "Cambio en el Que Podemos Creer" ) , and several artists joined the campaign such as Joss Stone, Will.I.Am, Black Eyed Peas, Jennifer Aniston, Leonardo Di Caprio, Eva Longoria, Maxwell D, Bruce Springsteen, Oprah Winfrey, as well as traditional political families such as the Kennedys and the Carters.
On November 4, 2008, Barack Obama became the first African American to be elected President of the United States, sparking multiple celebrations in the United States and around the world with nearly 53% of the popular vote and 365 electoral votes. . Obama was also the president who received more votes than any other presidential candidate in history, with a total of more than 69 million votes. Dick Cheney, vice president of the Bush Administration and president of the Senate, together with Nancy Pelosi as president of the Chamber of Deputies, certified the votes of the 2008 presidential election on January 8, 2009, a procedure through which he officially declared that Obama had been elected as President and Biden as the Vice President of the United States. They were the elections until that moment considered the most expensive in history according to the president of the Federal Election Commission Michel Toner, who estimated that to be taken seriously, a candidate would need to raise at least 100 million dollars.
A government of Global Corporations
The economic crisis and the outbreak of the crisis of capitalism began to hit the country and the world hard. Before the winner of the presidential elections was known, there had been meetings between officials of the Bush Administration and the candidates McCain and Obama to take the first emergency measures in the face of the unleashed crisis, and what these measures left is that the priority of the Bush and Obama governments was to save the Global Corporations. The bailouts and billions of dollars injected into the coffers of Global Corporations were made in agreement between the outgoing Bush Administration and the incoming Obama Administration, together with the Republican candidate McCain. A government of the Global Corporations had left, and another government of the Multinational Corporations had arrived, although with a different speech, but with the same objective.
at the same time, the outbreak of the crisis showed a profound change
that had occurred in capitalism: The dominance that Global
Corporations have over the world economy. The
owners of the world economy are now Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase,
Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, etc. and over the decades there had
been the transition from multinationals to Multinational Corporations,
and the enthronement of the latter as the most important companies in
the history of capitalism. In
the regime of globalization, a new Form of Accumulation was
consolidated, multinational corporations, which constitute a process of
centralization and capital accumulation superior to modern post-war
If the characteristic of modern post-war multinationals was the dominance of a branch of production on a global scale, multinational corporations are a superior Form of Accumulation because they monopolize several branches simultaneously, which allows them to achieve capital accumulation greater than that achieved modern post-war multinationals.
turn, the dominance over various branches of production, commerce and
finance that multinational corporations achieved was the product of a
convulsive process of mergers and acquisitions (M&A, Merger and
Acquisitions), which increasingly developed. starting in the '80s. M&A
are the purchase and sale of companies, commercial movements that
express deep clashes between sectors of the imperialist bourgeoisie
among themselves, with bourgeois class sectors of backward countries and
the workers and people of the world. The strongest sectors liquidate the weakest, as part of a tough and stark battle for control of markets and capital.
The colossal over-accumulation of capital that this new Form of Accumulation represents, caused a spectacular development of speculative and fictitious capital, a colossal over-accumulation, the largest produced by capitalism ever, currently consisting of almost 700 billion U$S in derivative financial products. registered by the Bank of Basel in mid-2008, but adding other speculative businesses, which reaches a financial mass that would exceed US$ 1,000 billion.
Fictitious capital in the period 2000-2009 took a monumental leap and grew 10 times from 95 trillion US$ to 1000 trillion US$, equivalent to around 10 times the world GDP. When we talk about fictitious capital, we are referring to a concept used for the first time by Marx, when he referred to securities for loans whose value is imaginary and illusory and only materializes when they are exchanged for money or goods. The credit created by the banks is the creation of fictitious capital because they make available money that they do not have: "...Not only is the majority of the banks' assets fictitious, since it is composed of securities and this type of wealth in money imaginary...As interest capital and the credit system develop, the entire capital seems to double and sometimes triple...The greater part of this money-capital is purely fictitious. All deposits with the exception of the reserve fund, do not They are more than balances in the banker's power, but they never exist in deposit." (14)
The process of capital centralization took a gigantic leap in 20 years. By 2002, 200 transnational companies out of 65,000 concentrated 30% of the world's GDP, and 91% of the 500 largest are from the US, Europe and Japan. Multinational Corporations had begun to emerge in the 1980s with the governments of Margaret Thatcher in England and Ronald Reagan in the United States. To the extent that they began to take control of the world economy, they consolidated unevenly and combined a new regime of accumulation that we can call "neoliberalism", "globalization", or "New Economy". It is a regime of accumulation diametrically opposed to the Keynesian one in which there were relative economic concessions to the masses.
Globalization meant a violent economic, political and military counteroffensive against the masses of the entire world, to impose low wages, deregulation, privatization, dismantling of workers' and popular conquests, at the same time as a recolonization of backward countries by capitalist powers. The offensive of the governments of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in England paved the way for the emergence of Multinational Corporations, the accumulation regime of globalization and the development of telecommunications and information technology as a pole of accumulation, made possible the emergence of a new axis of accumulation in California, called the "Silicon Valley". The term refers to the geographic space that encompasses the southern part of the San Francisco Bay, the Santa Clara Valley, and cities such as San José, Palo Alto, and Menlo Park. In this space, a hub of ventures related to the technology industry, computing and the Internet was formed, which constituted the hub of globalization accumulation.
In globalization there was no sustained "boom" of the economy for several decades as in the Keynesian regime, but rather there were alternating periods of growth and decline. The growth stage of the globalization regime was the decade of the '90s, although within the framework of a general decreasing trend and serious turbulence, imbalances and imbalances in the economy, which were the product of a spectacular growth of financial and parasitic capital. . In globalization the accumulation pole changed, the old industries that were the pole in the Keynesian regime were displaced, which created a new accumulation pole around the telecommunications, information technology, biogenetics and pharmaceutical industries. If the automobile was the base commodity of the Keynesian regime, the computer was the base commodity of globalization.
The accumulation term also changed, which became the US-China and Southeast. The development of Japan, the "tigers" and the "boom" of China, caused that starting in the mid-1990s, the center of world trade began to shift from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. In 1995, the World Trade Organization (WTO) was created, which incorporated China, and implied a set of regulations that favored Multinational Corporations such as intellectual property, patents on technological advances, the payment of royalties, the establishment of subsidies and settlement facilities for corporations in countries, regions, municipalities and states where they were tax-free, with labor standards more favorable to the pursuit of profits
The exponential development of fictitious capital represented by multinational corporations has caused capital from diverse origins, from tax havens and organized crime, to rotate and circulate in an increasingly accelerated and convulsive manner, causing serious turbulence and imbalances in the economy. It was precisely on December 5, 1996 that Alan Greenspan, president of the Fed, described this speculative explosion of capitalism by saying that there was an " irrational exuberance" in the markets, as a way he found to describe the serious imbalances that overvalued financial assets were causing. to the extent that megamergers and M&A are not a natural or spontaneous process, but driven by the ambitious heads of the world economy.
The explosion of dot-coms in 2000 opened the crisis in the basic industrial branch of globalization, information technology. After the bubble burst, 4,854 companies disappeared, and the global recession of the years 2000-2003 began, which already expressed the process of exhaustion of multinational corporations as a form of accumulation and of globalization as a regime of accumulation. The enormous masses of fictitious capital had produced a fall in the rate of profit, an accelerated process of devaluation of the economy, but not in globalization were the post-war growth rates reached.
The reason why the economy could not achieve the growth rates in globalization that it did achieve in the Keynesian regime was the result of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989. Presented as an event that favored capitalism, and like the end of socialism, the fall of the Berlin Wall was a serious blow to capitalism and globalization. When the Wall fell, the governments of the capitalist powers and the Stalinist regimes of the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, China, Cuba and Southeast Asia worked in partnership, advancing a brutal exploitative offensive and jointly renewing the Yalta and Potsdam agreements. . But the popular mobilization that overthrew the pro-capitalist dictatorships of those countries hindered the joint plans of the powers.
At the same time, the chain of popular uprisings deepened and after the Stalinist collapse in the countries of Eastern Europe, came the collapse of the dictatorships in the USSR and in the republics under its orbit. The consequences for capitalism were very important, because after the fall of the Berlin Wall the conditions that had allowed the super-exploitation of the European and German working class changed. A fundamental condition to facilitate the exploitation of European and German workers in the postwar period was to maintain their division with the Wall. Its collapse allowed a process of unification of the powerful European and German working class, among the most qualified, concentrated, with the greatest social achievements and with the highest cultural level in the world.
turn, the oppressed nationalities that had been put under the boot of
imperialist domination in the post-war period began a process of
liberation, which swept away the borders of Yalta and Potsdam. Thanks
to the Stalinist leaders who fell after 1989, imperialism had managed
to survive the defeats of Vietnam, China, and Korea, and had been able
to continue its systematic destruction of productive forces. He
had transformed those political defeats into even greater hardships for
the masses, which allowed large profits for multinationals. But after the fall of the wall, these leaders of the "official world left", who had provided great services to capitalism, no longer had that power.
The postwar "world order" fell, and the "new world order " actually resulted in terrible "disorder" for the capitalist powers. This is the explanation why in globalization, capitalism failed to match the economic successes of the Keynesian regime. The fall of the Berlin Wall prevented globalization from having a global political agreement of the stature of Yalta and Potsdam, those agreements that allowed the post-war "boom" were liquidated by the fall of the Berlin Wall, and with them, The economic and political order that supported the world economy for more than 40 years fell. The fall of the Yalta and Potsdam agreements that had allowed the "boom" was a strategic blow for capitalism.
Now, the inauguration of the Bush Administration coincided with the exhaustion of the globalization regime. The bailouts of billions of dollars injected into the coffers of Multinational Corporations, agreed between the outgoing Bush Administration and the incoming Obama Administration showed that beyond differences in style and forms, speeches and faces, the Obama Administration was a government of the Global Corporations, which left behind another government of the Global Corporations. The Bush Administration's strategy had failed and put all Global Corporations on the brink of bankruptcy, but the Obama Administration had exactly the same objective. In view of the collapse of Global Corporations, the exhaustion of globalization, and the outbreak of the global peak in the global crisis of capitalism, it is necessary to evaluate the meaning of the political and social events that imply the fall of the PNAC, and the defeat of the strategic project of the Bush Administration.
The fall of the PNAC and the triumph of the IV American Revolution
The fall of the PNAC strategy and the Patriot Act regime was a revolution, the IV North American Revolution of the 21st Century. The most reliable, palpable and irrefutable proof that the fall of the PNAC was the Fourth North American Revolution, was the outbreak of a global crisis of capitalism of a magnitude only comparable to the crash of '29 that shook Wall Street and the capitalist world at that time. The Fourth American Revolution had erased the PNAC, the Patriot Act regime, the Bush Administration, and NATO in Iraq from the map, and had made an enormous global revolutionary process flourish, which shook the capitalist world from its foundations, and had now caused the outbreak of a sharp peak of crisis.
resignation of Donald Rumsfeld and the establishment of the
Hamilton-Baker parliamentary Commission were the end of the Bush
Administration, and marked the end of the entire political-social
experiment that they built after the 9/11 attacks. The PNAC had It had
been extensively developed in neoconservative laboratories and think
tanks, but its fall was made possible by an enormous national and
international mobilization that liquidated the Bush Administration's
plans. This enormous
mobilization covered entire continents, and was the trigger for all the
political, social and economic changes that today affect the world
The defeat of the Patriot Act regime and the victory of the global resistance against it are the IV American Revolution of the 21st Century. Why do we define the fall of the PNAC and the Patriot Act regime as a revolution? Several elements define a revolution, but there are 2 features that are central. The first feature that defines a revolution is the partial or total irruption of mass sectors in the political process, as defined by all revolutionaries, analysts and historians such as Leon Trotsky: "The most indisputable characteristic feature of revolutions is the direct intervention of the masses in historical events" (4)
The American Revolution of the 21st century involved a formidable
process of national and international mobilization, in which several
processes developed simultaneously: On the one hand, the fight for the
truth of the relatives of the victims of 9/11, which began as soon as
the removal of rubble began. at Ground Zero, which placed the claim of "The Whole Truth about 9/11" at the center . Along
with this, a global anti-war movement broke out that triggered gigantic
mobilizations on all 5 continents, especially in Europe. These
mobilizations, the most important since the Vietnam War, took place
along the same path as the anti-war movements led by the families of the
soldiers who fell in Iraq.
At the same time, the mobilization of African Americans against the brutal racism demonstrated by the Bush Administration with New Orleans was in full development, after the passage of Hurricane Katrina, and the battle of New Orleans moved the entire African American community, and awakened national solidarity. and international around it. At the same time, the battle of the movements in defense of democratic rights and civil liberties was also taking place, which presented various chapters, some of which were judicial battles such as Hamdam vs. Rumsfeld led by organizations such as the ACLU, or others such as the global denunciations of Wikileaks, or the denunciations of Edward Snowden, which shook world public opinion.
Added to all of these processes was a dramatic and decisive one: The defeat of the Armed Forces in Iraq, which constituted a devastating blow to the institution that is the basis of the capitalist-imperialist state in the country. The military defeat of the Armed Forces in Iraq opened a brutal crisis in the army, in the high command, and in this way also liquidated the PNAC project and the Patriot Act regime that was based on the Armed Forces. For this reason, the Fourth North American Revolution had two central simultaneous developments, on the one hand the collapse of the PNAC within the US when the establishment of the Patriot Act regime was defeated, and on the other hand, the defeat of the PNAC outside the US. USA when NATO and the Armed Forces are defeated in Iraq. But all this was possible thanks to the formidable global mass mobilization unleashed by the attempted establishment of the PNAC, a global irruption of the masses that constitutes the first characteristic of any revolution.
The second characteristic feature of a revolution is the changes it causes in political regimes. Every revolution modifies the spectrum of existing institutions, some disappear, others remain, some change, others emerge, as a result of the clashes between classes and class sectors that inescapably modify any institutional framework. Institutions express class interests and when these interests and class sectors confront and collide with each other, institutions are modified, imposed or disappear according to which class sectors are triumphant and which are defeated. That is to say, the class struggle leaves a mark, a mark in the configuration of political regimes that makes these class confrontations recognizable.
example, the First American Revolution caused changes in the
country's political regime, which went from being an English colony to
the formation of an independent nation. In
this process, colonial institutions disappeared, and new institutions
emerged such as the Constitution and the Legislative, Executive and
Judicial Powers. The class
clash that the Second American Revolution entailed also caused
changes in the political regime: The Confederation of eleven southern
states that had formed a country with its own constitution, institutions
and army disappeared; slavery, which had been a legal institution, was
abolished, and the structure of national unity of the country we know
today as the United States emerged.
The Third American Revolution also registered changes in the country's political regime. The entire process of national mobilization for civil rights caused the disappearance of the horrible semi-fascist states of the South with laws that established the regime of racial segregation, the Jim Crow institutions and regulations that segregated the African-American population, in an important part of the country, and affected millions of people. The Third American Revolution also eliminated Nixon's Bonapartist attempt, and led to the defeat of the Armed Forces in their attempted military invasion of Vietnam. The changes in the country's political regime included the emergence of legislation that established equal racial rights, in addition to the right to vote, to abortion, which modified almost a century of segregating, racist and discriminatory Jim Crow legislation, and an entire stage fighting for women's rights.
These revolutions are political revolutions, that is, they cause changes in the political institutions of the state and in the political regime, but they do not modify the fundamental social and economic structures. For example, both the I, II and III American Revolutions modified the political regime, but did not modify the socioeconomic structure of the country. The United States is capitalist when it becomes independent from Great Britain, remains capitalist during and after the Civil War, and remains capitalist when the civil rights movement triumphs. The term "Political Revolution" was coined by Leon Trotsky who designed this concept to define the set of tasks necessary in the Soviet Union, whose political regime had been taken over by a counter-revolutionary dictatorship headed by Stalin's faction.
to Trotsky, to overthrow this dictatorship it was not necessary to
carry out a revolution that would modify the economic-social structure
of the country; the USSR was already a workers' state in transition to
socialism. For Trotsky,
what was necessary to do was a revolution in the political regime
against the Stalinist dictatorship, and its change to the regime of a
proletarian democracy. Trotsky called this type of revolution "Political Revolution"
, that is, a revolution that does not modify the economic-social
structure of the state, but rather its political regime, the complex of
The Political Revolution is then a different type of revolution from the economic-social revolution. The
economic-social revolution modifies the social structure of the state,
that is, it modifies the fact of which social class holds social power. For
example, the Dutch Revolution against Charles V, known as the Eighty
Years' War or War of Flanders of 1648, gave rise to a new state because
it was a revolution of the bourgeoisie that dethroned the nobility from
its power. Another example
is the English Revolution, which began with the Battle of Edgehill in
October 1642 and culminated in the final victory of the parliamentary
forces led by Oliver Cromwell, which was also an economic-social
revolution, because the English bourgeoisie took power. dethroning the
nobility, and the rise of Parliament over the monarchy was the
expression of the defeat of the nobles at the hands of the bourgeoisie.
was the French Revolution of 1789 in which power passed from the
nobility to the bourgeoisie, and also fell into the category of
economic-social revolution. The
Russian Revolution of 1917, where the working class took power by
dethroning the bourgeoisie, is also an example of an economic-social
both the Political Revolution and the economic-social revolution are
deeply related: Political revolutions imply changes in the political
regime that are preparatory to the economic-social revolution, they are
struggles for control of the state between classes and class sectors.
that end up impacting social formations and the mode of production of
societies. Therefore, the relationship between political and social revolutions is dialectical, complex and contradictory. Political
revolutions establish a permanent dynamic towards social revolution,
while social revolution always implies a political revolution.
One cannot exist without the other, and that is why every change in the political regime, and every political revolution, is always the product of a revolution, as Novack explains: " The true source of democracy in the United States was the struggles revolutionaries of their people. In 1776 and 1861 when the further development of the nation required a new path and the forces of reaction stood in the way...the revolutionary democrats accepted the challenge. They armed the people, defeated in the struggle those who They maintained the old order and created a new social and political regime. The specific ideas, demands, institutions and customs of democracy were forged in these revolutionary furnaces..." (5)
The defeat in Iraq: The other side of the IV American Revolution
The military defeat of the Armed Forces in Iraq opened a brutal crisis in the army, in the high command, and in this way also liquidated the PNAC project and the Patriot Act regime that was based on the Armed Forces. The fall of Donald Rumsfeld on November 8, 2006 due to pressure from the high command of the Armed Forces was a devastating blow for the PNAC, which led the Bush Administration to carry out a true "Monday morning quarterback", an expression of its own of American football, which refers to the fact that after Sunday's game, on Monday the quarterback makes a critical analysis and analyzes which plays were good or bad, which decisions he made were correct and which ones were not. The "Monday morning quarterback" carried out by the Bush Administration led it to go all out and make the decision to deepen the PNAC strategy, which only aggravated the political crisis of the country and the army.
The fall of Donald Rumsfeld left the Bush Administration and the PNAC strategy up in the air. The
country had been left practically without a government, or with a
government that was almost completely powerless, whose strategy had been
rejected at home, crushed in Iraq, and buried by the electoral defeat
of the Republican Party. On
March 15, 2006, the constitution of the Iraq Study Group (ISG) sought
to close the growing power vacuum that was developing in the country,
and the bipartisan parliamentary Commission led by James Baker, former
Republican Secretary of State, and Lee H. Hamilton Democratic leader,
sought to close the crisis and prepare some transition towards a
concerted exit of power.
On December 6, 2006, the ISG published a report that formulated a strategy opposite to that of the Bush Administration, recognizing that the war in Iraq had been lost and raising the need for a gradual withdrawal of forces, opening a direct dialogue with Syria and Iran were until then considered countries part of the "Axis of Evil". The publication of this report showed the deep crisis of power in which the country was plunged with powers that acted simultaneously, on the one hand the Executive Power exercised by the Bush Administration, a government totally in crisis whose power was diluted hour after hour, and on the other hand On the other hand, Parliament with the bipartisan Baker- Hamilton Commission, which promoted a strategy opposite to that of the Bush Administration. Who really governed the country, the Executive Branch or Parliament?
Parliament decided to come out in defense of the institutions of the country's regime, and the two most important parties in the state had to lead the search for a solution aimed at resolving the acute open political crisis. Behind the design of the new policy was the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a "center" think tank, which marked another difference in the strategy designed by the Bush Administration, since they were no longer conservative think tanks. those who built the strategy, but currents of thought different from Neocon entered the scene. But the Bush Administration had no intention of withdrawing or abandoning its strategy; on the contrary, it had redoubled it, and in the middle of the crossfire between the Executive Branch and Parliament, the Armed Forces were trapped, seeing their situation as increasingly complicated. situation in Iraq, where the Constituent Assembly elections of April 2005 gave all power to Nuri al-Maliki, head of Dawa. As guided by the bipartisan Baker-Hamilton Commission, Maliki began to weave agreements with Iran, all driven by the fear caused by the imposing Iraqi insurrection.
Tehran feared that the insurrection could enter its own country. The Iraqi uprising forced NATO to re-recruit large numbers of troops of all ranks to maintain control of cities, roads and oil infrastructure. After the execution of Saddam Hussein on December 30, 2006, Maliki imposed the sanction of a very harsh Anti-Terrorism Law to combat the insurgents, and it seemed that the strategy of the Baker-Hamilton Commission was strengthening as Maliki negotiated with Iran, but the Bush Administration responded by intensifying all sources of conflict, contrary to the plan of the Baker-Hamilton Commission, which was to reduce them. The head of CENTCOM John Philip Abizaid, who had taken office on July 7, 2003, replacing Tommy Franks, heightened tensions with Iran by declaring that it was necessary to pressure the international community for Iran to desist from developing nuclear weapons, a proposal in tune with the strategy of continuing to treat Iran as part of the "Axis of Evil".
to Abizaid and the strategy proposed by the Bush Administration, the
director of National Intelligence published a report in which he
assessed that Tehran had put a stop to its nuclear weapons program since
2003. This report known as the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE ),
was a change in the policy towards the Middle East that had been that of
inventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to justify
any type of aggression against a country. Now, the position was to be honest with the facts and deny any proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by Iran.
This change in policy left CENTCOM head John Philip Abizaid without support, who was replaced as head of CENTCOM by Admiral William J. Fallon on March 16, 2007. Fallon was in reality the representative of an entire sector of the officers of the Armed Forces made up of the director of national intelligence, Admiral Mike McConnell, the director of the CIA General Michael Hayden, the Chief of Staff of the Ground Forces, General George Casey, and the Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen who were concerned about the multiplication of theaters of operations in the war, the dispersion of forces and the exhaustion of troops.
Fallon exercised political ascendancy and influence over this sector of the Armed Forces that openly opposed the leadership of the Bush Administration, and launched an opposite strategy, in view of the symptoms of military crisis that were expressed everywhere, such as when the relatives of Soldiers of the Florida National Guard began a campaign for the return of troops, through an indefinite hunger strike. In southern Afghanistan, NATO had taken over control of the southern region of the country at the end of July 2006, at which point there was an increase in violence in the area with attacks on public officials, schools , and a frequency of daily attacks greater than what was happening in Iraq. In 2007 there was a significant Taliban resurgence, they began to reconquer areas whose control they lost in 2001, and on February 27 there was an attack against the US base in Bagram when Vice President Dick Cheney was visiting in which 18 people died.
In August 2008 the situation worsened for NATO as its casualties increased during the months of June, July and August, producing more casualties than in Iraq. Afghanistan was in a climate of constant war and growing discontent with Hamid Karzai's government. The crisis of the Armed Forces persisted as it was caught in the middle of the tug-of-war between the Bush Administration and the Hamilton-Baker parliamentary Commission. Admiral Fallon was reluctant to carry out the Bush Administration's Iran policy, and Esquire magazine showed this in an article where they called him "The Man Between War and Peace" resisting taking harsher measures against Tehran. But Fallon's situation became untenable, and he resigned on March 11, 2008, leaving CENTCOM once again without political direction.
Fallon was replaced by David Howell Petraeus, an Army general considered the second most influential conservative American internationally. Fallon's fall expressed the struggle for control of military and state power between the Bush Administration and the ISG. The war in Iraq had provoked the largest international anti-war movement in history, it had unleashed the National Liberation struggle of the Iraqi people against the invading NATO troops, it had caused the Iraqi resistance to have more soldiers by 2005 than the total number of NATO troops, and with it, that CENTCOM's chances of winning the war were simply impossible. In Iraq, the war had only been going on for 2 years, and already the "Vietnam Syndrome " was in sight again, the war of national liberation of a town invaded by the US army was once again unified, which converged with international and national mobilization against war.
can think that with the Obama Administration there was a 180 degree
change with respect to the Bush Administration regarding the Middle
East. However, this was
not the case, in Iraq, the army crisis continued to worsen day after
day, with 2007 being the year in which the armed forces had to endure
the highest number of deaths and injuries due to the insurgent
offensive. In 2007 alone,
approximately 904 soldiers died in Iraq and more than 6,000 were
wounded, the highest figures in the entire occupation. Such an increase
in violence was due to an insurgency offensive in the country's main
cities, under Bush still as president when pressures on American troops
were aggravated by the continued withdrawal of British forces from the
Basra governorate ordered by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Tony Blair's
Just as Britain was withdrawing from Iraq, so was Denmark with the announcement by Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen that he also announced the withdrawal of Danish soldiers. Turkey began a military offensive in northern Iraq against the Kurdish PKK guerrilla, despite Iraqi and Pentagon opposition, which began to create a situation of lack of control in the Middle East region that began to generalize and deepen from now on. more, without a solution of continuity.
The defeat of the Armed Forces and the NATO Coalition was formally recognized by the Bush Administration at the end of 2007, when it signed the schedule for the gradual withdrawal of forces by June 30, 2009 from Iraqi cities, and for on August 31, 2010, the final departure and the end of combat missions with the permanence of 50,000 troops for training tasks of the Iraqi forces until the final departure on December 31, 2011. The signing of that 2007 agreement was the end of the strategy of the Project for a New American Century, of the GWOT, the definitive collapse of the strategies launched by the Bush Administration and the Neocon groups, which caused a total change in the world situation, and in particular in the Middle East region East. However, this policy of withdrawal and recognition of defeat did not mean that the United States stopped attacking, causing massacres or intervening militarily in the Middle East.
In recognition of the defeat suffered, the Obama Administration and the Pentagon decided not to put more troops on the ground. But
they maintained a policy of permanent aggression in the region with
bombings and drones, a defensive strategy, but no less dangerous and
destructive. On January
22, 2009, US President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order that
required the CIA to use only the 19 interrogation methods described in
the Army Field Manual "unless the Attorney General with appropriate
consultation provides additional guidance". The
order also stated that "The CIA shall as quickly as possible close the
detention facilities it currently operates and will not exploit any
detention facilities in the future".
The hope of the closure of Guantanamo permeated the spirit of activists, leaders and sectors defending civil and human rights in the United States and the world. In April 2009, CIA Director Leon Panetta announced that the "CIA no longer operates detention centers or black sites" in a letter to officials and that "those sites would be decommissioned . " In this report, Panetta stated that the CIA was no longer employing controversial "harsh interrogation techniques ," and that people detained by the CIA would only suffer brief detention for the time necessary to transfer them to the custody of authorities in their home countries. , or the custody of another US agency.
these announcements were neither true nor real, and the hopes of all
those who believed that Guantanamo would end with Obama were frustrated.
Human rights activists
complained and reproached Obama for refusing to prosecute officials who
during the Bush administration approved the use of these interrogation
methods, and Guantánamo continued to operate with more than 171
prisoners in horrible confinement conditions. All
of them remained in Guantanamo facing the possibility of a trial before
a military court, and indefinite detention, without receiving a fair
In October 2009, President Obama signed the Military Commissions Act of 2009, which amended the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which no longer speaks of illegal enemy combatants, but of " unprotected enemy combatant
", but preserving the essential notion of enemy in the penal code,
which implies a fusion between criminal law and the law of war. In December 2011, Obama signed the "National Defense Authorization Act"
HR 1540 (NDAA), which authorized the indefinite detention, without
charge or indictment, of US citizens designated by the executive branch
The Americans to whom this new law can be applied are not only those who are captured on a battlefield but also those who have never left the United States or participated in any type of military action. The law targets people the administration has designated as members " of Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and who participate in hostilities against the United States ." Obama signed HR 1540 in Hawaii on December 31, and although he publicly acknowledged that certain provisions of the NDAA (contained in Subtitle D-Counterterrorism) are unacceptable, and he could have vetoed it, the NDAA was signed by Obama on the grounds that it was In short, a means to combat terrorism.
That is, the Obama Administration raised the slogan of "Change"
on the one hand to differentiate itself from the repudiated and
rejected policy of the Bush Administration, but on the other hand it
continued to promulgate antidemocratic and repressive laws, with
arguments similar to those of the Bush Administration. in the sense of
the "fight against terrorism". During the Obama Administration, the "Iraq Syndrome"
prevented the Pentagon from putting troops on the ground, but it did
not prevent bombings with planes or drones, while military operations
forces began to operate in 138 countries, exceeding the number of
countries in the that they heard under the Bush Administration.
As time passed, the crimes and attacks on civil liberties that had occurred under the Bush Administration became increasingly clear and became evident. On December 13, 2012, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued a ruling that the abduction of Khalid El-Masri was established beyond reasonable doubt and that Macedonia was responsible for his torture and ill-treatment. treatment, which is why El-Masri's kidnapping, detention and torture in Macedonia was classified as a forced disappearance.
On December 9, 2014, the Senate Intelligence Committee (SSCI) released a 525-page part containing the main conclusions and an executive summary of the report called the Study Committee on the Detention and Interrogation Program of the Central Intelligence Agency. While the rest of the report remains classified, the 6,000 pages demonstrate the CIA's use of brutal interrogation techniques amid harsh conditions of detention of detainees. The report also contains inaccurate information provided by the CIA to the Department of Justice to prevent an adequate legal analysis. According to the report, at least 26 of the 119 prisoners (22%) held by the CIA were improperly detained, and at least 39 were subjected to CIA interrogation techniques. The existence of a classified part of the report left the Obama Administration in a very bad light, by revealing the impunity that the CIA has, without this report implying trials or punishments for any of the CIA officials.
The report of the Senate Intelligence Committee (SSCI) was whitewashing and public recognition of a reality that was already known due to the spread of social networks and alternative media. On June 2, Obama signed the USA Freedom Act, which places limits and controls on the NSA. The central element of the law is that it removed the NSA's ability to store data on the phone calls of millions of Americans, and placed this data in the hands of telephone companies. Before this reform, spies will be able to access this data. case by case and prior judicial authorization. The vote expressed the triumph of the IV American Revolution, the pressure that forced Obama to take some measures that would mean some concession for the fight that millions in the world had carried out against the Patriot Act regime, and a decisive factor had been are Edward Snowden's revelations about NSA spying, in 2013, and the impact this had on the masses and global public opinion.
However, civil rights groups and academics criticized the Freedom Act, arguing that it allowed the NSA to have unclear parts and perhaps allowed the NSA to seize data on broad swaths of innocent people in violation of their constitutional rights. ACLU Legal Director Jameel Jaffer said "The descriptions of the last two years make clear that we need major reform ," and a group of 60 organizations called on Congress to end the NSA's collection of telephone information under the Act. Patriot. Regarding the Patriot Act, the Obama Administration signed the extension of the Patriot Act until the end of 2017, which was a complete setback for all those defenders of democratic rights and freedoms in the United States and in the world. When the conditions were in place for the repeal and complete elimination of the Patriot Act, and of the entire complex of laws that the Patriot Act implies that attacks democratic freedoms, Obama resolved to allow the life of a Law that is a danger and a threatens civil liberties and democratic rights.
When the Obama Administration could have taken a decisive step in defense of civil rights with broad support from the population, the Law that is a legacy of the Bush Administration remained in force again, but now, by management of the Obama Administration. May 23, 2013 was the day President Obama promised to release all prisoners who had already been acquitted but were still being held at the US base at Guantanamo Bay, and independent journalist Andy Worthington created a clock on the Internet, at gtmoclock.com, and it marks the time that has passed since the date on which the closure of the Guantanamo prison is supposed to have occurred under Executive Order 13492. There are still men held there who were acquitted and They have been waiting for their release for years, an absolutely shocking fact in the fact that many men continue to be held indefinitely in Guantánamo, without charges being filed against them.
Chelsea Manning's crisis
In early 2010, the intelligence analyst assigned to an Army unit in Iraq in 2009, Chelsea Elizabeth Manning, was accused of releasing the largest set of confidential documents simultaneously to the public, in violation of the Espionage Act. These documents revealed war crimes committed by the military, the unjust imprisonment of prisoners at Guantánamo, and the phenomenal waste and corruption involved in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Manning was sentenced in August 2013 to 35 years in prison, with the possibility of parole in the eighth year and the additional penalty of being discharged from the military.
Manning was born Edward Bradley Manning in 1987 and in a statement he expressed that he had always felt like a woman, which opened the debate on transsexuality in the army. He was unhappy all his life because he could not live as an openly gay man, and even at the risk of being discharged, he wrote to a gender counselor that he felt like a woman, and discussed undergoing surgery. During the trial, the prosecution, led by Captain Ashden Fein, presented 300,000 pages of documents in evidence, including chat logs and classified material, but New York Magazine reported that Manning opposed the kind of war in which she was involved, and the Manning's lawyers argued that the government had exaggerated the damage that the release of the documents had caused, and that it had charged Manning to force her to testify against Julian Assange, the director of Wikileaks. On September 3, 2013, Manning's lawyer requested a presidential pardon for his client, which included a letter of support from Amnesty International arguing that Manning's leaks had exposed human rights violations.
The publication of the leaked material, particularly the diplomatic cables, attracted in-depth coverage from around the world. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen said the leaks had placed the lives of American soldiers and Afghan informants in danger, but journalist Glenn Greenwald argued that Manning was the most important whistleblower since Daniel Ellsber leaked the "Pentagons Papers" in 1971. In 2011, Manning was awarded by the German section of the International Association of Anti-Arms and Nuclear Lawyers of the Federation of German Scientists, in 2012, she was awarded "Public Award" by Global Exchange, in 2013 with the Sean MacBride Peace Award by the International Peace Office and in 2014, she was awarded the Sam Adams Award by Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence. Manning publicly requested to be called Chelsea because she had always felt like a woman and she began seeking hormone treatment therapy, the right to live as a woman, and wear women's underwear.
authorities' refusal led Manning to file a lawsuit in federal district
court in Washington, D.C., against Secretary of Defense Hagel, claiming
that he had "been denied access to medically necessary treatment." Finally the Army Court of Appeals ruled in 2015 in "Reference
for appellant in all future formal papers filed with this court and all
future orders and rulings issued by this court must be neutral, for
example, Private First Class Manning or recurring, or use a feminine
pronoun". In April 2015, Amnesty International posted a letter from Manning online in which she said, "I
finally started my prescribed hormone regimen to continue my overdue
gender transition in February. It has been an incredible relief to my
body." and the brain to finally come into alignment with each other."
Courageous whistleblower and transgender activist Chelsea Manning remained resisting the Army's brutal prison conditions by defending the right and need of whistleblowers, and beginning in 2015, she began writing for The Guardian addressing issues such as war, sex, and freedom of expression. information in two articles: "How to make ISIS fall on its own sword" and "I am a transgender woman and the government is denying my civil rights". She then debuted as an official writer with an article with the title: "CIA torturers and the leaders who approved their actions must face the law" in March 2015. The extreme persecution suffered by Manning made clear the Administration's position. Obama regarding civil rights: While those responsible for war crimes, massacres and torture remained at large, and while the Patriot Act remained a law in force, whistleblowers were permanently persecuted.
Human Rights Watch noted that the "aggressive prosecution and harsh sentences" contrast with the impunity of senior US officials for torture and other human rights abuses. Manning
pays with his prison the price of denouncing the war crimes of the
Pentagon, the espionage of the NSA, but also for exposing the crisis
within the United States army, its brutal, sexist, homophobic and racist
regime. Chelsea Manning
joined the prisoners' strike to end slave labor in jails and prisons
that took place on the same date as the 45th anniversary of the Attica
uprising, when a thousand prisoners took control of the notorious New
York prison. York to demand political rights and better living
conditions, but were brutally repressed by New York Governor Nelson
The national strike carried out in September 2016 had as its slogan "A call to end slavery in the United States" with measures taken jointly by prisoners in at least 40 prisons in 24 states. Obama commuted Chelsea Manning's sentence and on May 17, 2017 she was released, a tremendous victory that was the product of the demand throughout the country and internationally in favor of Manning, and another sign of the triumph of the Fourth North American Revolution. But still the government's situation remained critical, given the serious situation developing in Iraq and Afghanistan, and completely changed the situation in the Middle East.
NATO withdraws and revolution breaks out in the Middle East
After the defeat of NATO, the Middle East was never the same region it once was. The withdrawal of NATO and the triumph of the Fourth North American Revolution meant for the Middle East the beginning of unprecedented political, social and economic changes, which shook the region from its foundations and completely transformed it. A powerful mass insurrection broke out in the region that did not stop in the face of any dictatorship, no army, and no autocracy, it devastated political systems, erased borders, liquidated regimes, dictators and began a sustained and unstoppable process of uprising, a kind of Regional intifada, which changed the destiny of the area forever.
year 2009 began in Iraq with a considerable reduction in violence
throughout the country, coinciding with the end of the Bush
Administration, which was a symbol of the occupation. Obama
announced a new plan to withdraw troops and comprehensively review the
strategy in Iraq, a logical corollary of the political, social and
economic changes in the region, and on August 19, 2010, the United
States withdrew almost all of its combat troops from Iraq, leaving only
56,000 combat troops in the country, generally complying with the
schedule provided for by the treaty signed by Bush, an operation that
was called "New Dawn."
Afghanistan, 2009 was the most violent year since the invasion in 2001
as a result of the Taliban insurgency increasing attacks throughout the
territory, and its advance forced a review of NATO strategy that
included the sending of more troops and intensification. of the
bombings. In September
2009, an air operation led by the German army caused the death of around
90 civilians, leading to the resignation of the German Chief of Staff
for concealing information related to the event. 2010 began with the same Taliban offensive, which led NATO forces to undertake a counteroffensive called " Operation Moshtarak", the largest of the coalition since the invasion of the country.
The crisis in the army continued to worsen, and on June 23, 2010, Obama dismissed Commander Stanley McChrystal, top commander of the troops in Afghanistan, after an article in Rolling Stone magazine was published in which the general publicly criticized to various senior officials of the Obama Administration, including Vice President Joe Biden, General James Jones, the ambassador in Kabul Karl Eikenberry, and the envoy to the area Richard Holbrooke for their management and direction of the war. McChrystal's position was filled by David Petraeus, but in July 2010 the crisis worsened with the leak of thousands of confidential army documents detailing secret operations from previous years, as well as information on the insurgency and border areas. with Pakistan.
On August 1, 2010, the Netherlands became the first NATO member country to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. On September 10, the German base in Badakhshan was attacked with stones by the civilian population. On October 7, a Peace Council began between the Afghan government and the Taliban to reach a peace agreement. To the extent that progress was made in the plan to withdraw troops from Iraq, both that nation and Afghanistan were transformed into devastated, abandoned zones, no man's land, scattered with armies, guerrilla groups, and armed factions, a true broth of cultivation of crisis caused by the growing political vacuum that the departure of NATO and the United States caused in the region.
This situation triggered all kinds of tendencies, confrontations, and attempts to occupy that vacuum, while the process of decomposition of the forces fighting in Iraq gave rise to new forces, currents and movements that tried to occupy the political, military and social vacuum that the withdrawal of NATO troops left in the region. The phenomena that were unleashed after the departure of NATO troops from the Middle East region were in some cases progressive, and in others regressive, but the progressive phenomena were more important and had greater specific weight and in the period of The time that passed between the departure of the troops in 2010 and 2011, some of the most important political and social events in the history of the region occurred that moved it forever.
After the events of December 17, 2010 in Tunisia, the Middle East region would never be the same again. That day in the city of Tunis, a street vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi was stripped of his goods and immolated himself in protest, which led to an agony during which thousands of Tunisians rebelled against the poor conditions to which the country was subjected. That outbreak gave rise to the development of the spectacular political-social process known worldwide as the "Arab Spring". The fight against the Ben Ali dictatorship that ruled Tunisia for 25 years, known as the "Jasmine Revolution" had been preceded by the uprising in Western Sahara with protests that spread throughout the country and deepened to such a magnitude that It ended with the resignation of Ben Ali, but like a true domino effect, the example of Tunisia spread to the rest of the Arab world and went against the dictatorships of the rest of the countries.
In Egypt, the protests began on January 25, 2011 and had Tahir Square as their epicenter, ending with Hosni Mubarack who dominated the country after 30 years until his fall on February 11, 2011. Then the revolution broke out in Libya, which led to war. civil, with weapons and popular militias where the people overthrew the dictatorship of Muammar Gaddafi after 42 years in power. The revolutionary process spread to Yemen in the so-called "Pink Ribbon Revolution" that ended the 21-year dictatorship of AliSaleh, a process that still continues and develops to this day, transformed into a Civil War with the armed intervention of Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Syrian revolution then broke out against the Bashar Al Assad dictatorship, successor of his father Hafez Al Assad whose dynasty has been in place for 50 years. The revolution turned into a civil war, turning Syria into a decaying state.
The revolutionary wave that began between 2010-2011 had an enormous impact on the world situation. Rarely could it be witnessed so many revolutions developing simultaneously, a complex of mass mobilizations that covered more than 20 countries on different continents, in addition to Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Syria, it also reached Mauritania, Algeria, Western Sahara, Arabia Saudi, Oman, Yemen, Lebanon, Kuwait, Sudan, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Morocco, Palestine, United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Beyond differences and inequalities there were revolutionary explosions with the fall of regimes, civil wars, processes of self-organization, dual power, crisis and division in the armed forces, expropriations, council democracy, mass mobilization, general strikes, armed struggles, emergence of new states and new armies. This entire complex of revolutions produced changes in the countries that are developing to this day, unprecedented in the Arab world.
Middle East region has always been shaken by spectacular political
processes such as the 6-Day War in 1967, the fall of the Shah of Iran in
1979 or the Palestinian Intifada of 1987, to name a few. But
nothing can even be compared to what happened after 2011. Years of
poverty, misery, repression, demands for democratic rights, civil
liberties, brutal conditions of oppression for sectors such as youth,
women, immigrants, discrimination Racial and religious, in addition to
the ostentatious life of dictators like kings in luxurious palaces
ruling over poor towns, are the basis of the mass outbreak that led to
the uprising of entire towns who decided to take their destinies into
their own hands.
Added to this secular satiety of the people was the emergence of the global crisis of capitalism, which caused a rise in the prices of basic products, and in the food basket around the world, which hit hard in the Middle Eastern countries and triggered poverty and the food crisis. The political vacuum that it left in the region, the triumph of the masses and the military defeat had caused a global crisis in all regimes and parties, in all governments, and institutions, including religious ones.
the midst of this state of affairs, and to the extent that NATO troops
were withdrawing from Iraq, Al Qaeda in Iraq survived by raising money
through activities such as kidnappings, car thefts, assaults on trucks
loaded with oil, etc. of demanding taxes from non-Muslims and killing
members of rich families who did not pay. According to US intelligence sources, the group had evolved into a kind of "mafia criminal gang", torturing and executing people in secret detention centers. Al Qaeda in Iraq had already changed its name several times, and was based in Falujah and Ramadi.
From there they promoted an anti-government uprising against the then Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki, but they were surrounded by the Iraqi army armed and trained by the US. It seemed like the end for the group that would later adopt the name ISIS. But in a confusing and controversial episode, the Iraqi army that had surrounded them six months ago, abandoned the battlefield, leaving behind state-of-the-art weapons with heavy artillery, Humvees all-terrain vehicles, H-60 helicopters, a whole front-line arsenal that fell. at the hands of ISIS precursors.
The Iraqi army of northern Kurdistan, the "peshmerga", under the leadership of Barzani, did not intervene either, and they let the city of Mosul, the oil capital of Iraq, fall into the hands of ISIS in January 2014. There this group of mercenaries and criminals found hundreds of millions of dollars in the banks of that city, which gave them enough capital and weapons to expand. In an unstoppable advance, in 2013 ISIS advanced on Syria that was embroiled in the civil war, which led them to adopt the name worldwide known as "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIS) to reflect their intervention in the War.
Syrian Civil. Under the leadership of its top commander and self-proclaimed caliph, Al-Baghdadi, ISIS announced the creation of a provisional government, self-proclaimed " Caliphate" that included rapid expansion into Syria, following the course of the Euphrates, extending to Raqqa from where ISIS He attracted mercenaries from around the world, former combatants from all NATO military forces, criminals and thugs taken from prisons, from all jihadist forces with which he began to structure a fascist organization based on the recruitment of hired killers, experts in killing, torture and all kinds of cruelties such as the sale of women, children, organs, drugs, and all kinds of criminal activities that they film and upload to social networks to intimidate their enemies, showing the executions and torture of the victims. who subjugate their victims.
ISIS grew because of its crimes, its criminal activities, and because both the global and regional powers of NATO and the petro-monarchies that shamelessly financed it. There are complaints about the senator and former presidential candidate for the Republican Party John McCain who in May 2013 was in Syrian territory with Mohammad Nur, spokesman for one of the brigades that made up Al-Qaeda in Syria. On January 27, 2014, Reuters published Mark Hosenball's article "Congress secretly approves flow of US weapons to 'moderate' Syrian rebels" in which they report that the US Congress held a secret session in January 2014 where it approved financing towards the "moderate" Syrian rebel factions, from small arms to anti-tank rockets.
But there were no "moderate" factions in southern Syria, but ISIS. In line with this attitude of the United States Parliament, an ally of the Pentagon like Saudi Arabia proclaimed through its public television Al-Arabiya that the Islamic Caliphate was under the authority of Saudi Prince Abdul Rahman al-Faisal, brother of Prince Saud al-Faisal - Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs - and Prince Turki al- Faisal - ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the United States and the United Kingdom.
The sinister Erdogan regime in Turkey negotiated oil with these fascist gangs, and provided them with financing. During
the entire expansion of ISIS, the Pentagon did not intervene and
allowed the Islamic Emirate to continue its campaign of conquest and
massacres, until the pressure of public opinion became too intense and
forced President Obama to give the order to bomb some positions. of
lSIS. But the bombings were purely symbolic, cosmetic actions that did not stop their actions. The Pentagon needed ISIS to stop the "Arab Spring",
to prevent the revolutionary processes that were sweeping through the
region from giving rise to new forces and states that would promote that
In 2015, ISIS began a process of defeats and setbacks until it was finally crushed in Raqqa in 2017. During the course of this path of defeats, ISIS committed attacks in Europe such as Paris and others that acted as pressure on the governments of the G7 and the Middle East, in which the demand to put an end to ISIS grew like a clamor among the population. At the same time, the attacks expressed the desperation of the leadership of this group of fascist criminals, which was on its way to final crushing.
The blow to ISIS in 2015 that began the path of its disappearance was not inflicted by NATO, nor the Pentagon, nor Turkey, nor Iran, nor Saudi Arabia, nor Russia. The final blow was delivered by a mass popular guerrilla army led by brave young women. That blow was dealt by one of the most exciting revolutionary processes that exist in the world today, the revolution of the Kurds, one of the revolutions that emerged as a product of the "Arab Spring" and gave rise to the state of Rojava and today, to the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria.
The Rojava Revolution and Occupy Wall Street
It was the intervention of an important sector of the mass movement that really stopped the advance of ISIS. When ISIS threatened to unleash genocide on the population of Northern Syria, a mass army led by Kurdish PKK fighters opened a corridor to allow civilian populations to escape the massacre. When the "Arab Spring" broke out and the Syrian people's struggle against Al-Assad's dictatorship began, the dictator's forces withdrew from the Kurdish enclaves, which fell under the control of local militias called the People's Protection Units (YPG). Thus, a self-determined territory called Rojava emerged between the months of July and August 2012, which in the Kurdish language means "to the west", in northern Syria. The armed militias People's Protection Units and Women's Protection Units (YPG-YPJ) under the mandate of the Kurdish Supreme Committee captured the city of Kobane as well as a dozen other cities. There the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the Kurdish National Council (KNC) began a joint administration.
Months later, in January 2013, the cantons Cezire, Kobane and Efrin proclaimed their autonomy as territorial units, on the border with Turkey made up of a population of two and a half million inhabitants, the majority Kurdish, but also Arabs, Assyrians, Chaldeans. , Syrians, Turkmens, Armenians and Chechens. All different ethnic groups that coexist, a mosaic of nationalities that share a joint political project, something that before the Rojava Revolution did not exist in the Middle East. As of January 2013, Rojava was formed as an autonomous and independent region, with its territory of 3 cantons or federated municipalities, and government institutions that are popular assemblies composed of representatives of Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians and other minorities that carry out the management from an interim government. That is to say, the nation's political regime has an unusual feature for the Middle East, the existence of mass organizations that emerged from below that exercise power and are the fruit of the revolution.
in addition, Rojava has a peculiarity that no country has: In Rojava,
women are part of the government on an equal footing with men, they
administer the economy, lead the popular assemblies and all instances of
organizing autonomy such as the arming of the people, the creation of
popular women's courts, schools and academies at the university level,
or self-defense militias. In Rojava women have rights that they do not have anywhere in the world, women there. Far
from the role that condemns them to cooking, childcare, or domestic
chores in most capitalist countries in the world, and even very far from
the horrible mistreatment they suffer in most Middle Eastern countries
like Arabia. Saudi or Afghanistan where they are subjected to all kinds
of humiliations, forced to wear a veil and permanently harassed; Women in Rojava are leaders, and they are a leading element of the revolution.
The emergence of a multiethnic state in the Middle East, based on popular assemblies that has women as fundamental members of its state, its government and its army can only be understood if it is understood as a part of a larger and deeper revolutionary complex. , the "Arab Spring", which has moved the world since 2011.
YPG is organized as a democratic people's army, with internal elections
as a method of appointing officials that, despite the Kurdish majority,
has attracted a growing number of Arabs, and all ethnic groups. The
clashes between YPG and ISIS was a moving episode in which an armed
people defended inch by inch in the streets of Kobane and the YPG
fighters defeated them, drove them out and also seized tanks, different
types of missiles and weapons. A huge number of foreign volunteer fighters have fought alongside the YPG. The program of democratic demands of the Rojava government which is called "Democratic Confederalism",
as well as the economic program based on local community-based
cooperatives, even though it is a program that presents important
limitations and is difficult to real possibility of development in the
current crisis situation of capitalism, is unacceptable for imperialism
and the regional bourgeoisies.
For dictatorships, monarchies or imperialist Bonapartist regimes or regional bourgeoisies such as those that exist in Turkey, Russia, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, which have alliances with different imperialist powers and are deeply anti-democratic, the emergence of something like the Federation of Northern Syria no matter how many limitations its political and economic program has.
But in 2011 not only the Arab Spring had developed. Also, and as a result of the outbreak of the global crisis of capitalism, protests broke out around the world. In Greece, huge mobilizations and 11 general strikes took place, the Indignados movement in Spain, the 11-M Movement in Chile, the Yosoy132 Movement in Mexico, the student mobilizations in Colombia in 2011 and 2012, the massive workers' strikes in China focused on the province of Guandong, the Occupy movement in Hong Kong, among other large mobilizations. This global process of mobilizations and revolutions had its expression in the United States as a result of the impact of the acute outbreak of the peak of the capitalist crisis with the consequences of loss of jobs, wages, in addition to the embargoes caused by the mortgage crisis that left millions without living place. The capitalist crisis was placed at the center of national politics.
This is how Occupy Wall Street (OWS) emerged, the mass movement with its epicenter in youth that exploded throughout the country, occupying squares in states, counties, and cities in protest. On September 17, thousands of people flooded southern Manhattan, summoned by the blog of the Canadian magazine Adbusters , which issued a call in mid-July "Are you ready for a Tahrir moment?" asked the magazine's blog, referring to the occupation of Tahrir Square in Egypt against the Mubarack dictatorship. Adbusters coordinated the call to occupy Zuccotti Park with a coalition of union activists, students, and community members (NYABC) who convened the first New York City General Assembly (GA) on Tuesday, August 2. That first call on August 2 was disorderly with a significant number of meeting participants who were anarchist militants who wanted to imitate the movement of the Greeks in the squares and the indignados of Spain.
The facts of the world situation had a great impact on decision-making, and at the same time, the effects of the IV North American Revolution were more than visible. It was incredible, but fascinating to observe that in the same country in which during the height of the Patriot Act it was impossible to hold a meeting, even a small one, under the risk of being imprisoned for terrorism, now hundreds of anarchists organized assemblies, coordinated with unions and social organizations, and were preparing to occupy positions. In fact, one of the first topics of debate among OWS proponents was how to deal with the police and the extreme militarization of public space around Wall Street since September 11, 2001. What a remarkable change had happened in the United States! How the political and social conditions of the country had changed! Ten years before, on September 11, 2001, the south of the Manhattan neighborhood in New York was a mountain of rubble and the Pentagon was master of the situation, carrying out a campaign of terror on the population!!!
But by September 17, 2011, exactly ten years after 9/11, southern Manhattan was a breeding ground for hundreds of activists who organized and united through social networks... to Occupy Wall Street! OWS organizers visited the picket line of Verizon workers who had been on strike since August, solidarity that Verizon workers returned with a march from Verizon headquarters in Manhattan to Zuccotti Park. On September 17, meetings began at noon in Bowling Green, a small park near the southern tip of Manhattan that is home to Wall Street's iconic charging bull. The protest began aimlessly, with people milling around the area, but as the afternoon progressed a crowd gathered. Police had set up barricades to prevent protesters from reaching Wall Street. OWS went on to achieve larger protests, but this only occurred after weeks of intense grassroots organizing, and maintaining physical occupation in the face of police repression.
atmosphere in the park in those days was very free with everyone
constantly discussing politics and hungry for ideas, anyone could get
together a march, anyone could walk through the park and start a chant. People
came to Zuccotti from all over the city, and even the country, to see
the occupation for themselves, talk to the occupiers, and discuss
politics, all kinds of groups came, students, unions, the nurses were
one day , transportation workers another day, teachers, community
groups, and well-known writers, artists like Lupe Fiasco, Michael Moore,
Roseanne Barr, and Naomi Klein. Zuccotti
Park was full of tables, shops, continually experimenting and
rearranging the physical space and its organizational structure, with
more and more equipment, shelves full of food, kitchens, laptops, media
station, thousands of books, stores of medical campaign.
OWS organized the September 22 rally protesting the execution of Troy Davis, which was followed by a two-mile march to Zuccotti, and after several successful marches, OWS defeated Mayor Bloomberg's eviction attempt, which led to A mass mobilization the following day of 100,000 people on October 14 and OWS spread to over 100 cities in the United States, and began to spread around the world. At the same time that OWS was expanding to this scale, activists were building solidarity with the union movement by organizing a grassroots campaign in support of closing Teamsters Local 814.
The choice of "we are the 99 percent " as the central slogan and slogan represented an immense advance in the awareness of a sector of the mass movement about the origin of the attacks that workers face by identifying the ruling class as the " 1 percent", and this social sector as the source of the crisis and with interests opposed to the interests of "99 percent" of the population. OWS' tactics were inspired by revolutions in the Middle East, protests in Europe, and the occupation of the Wisconsin capitol building in February 2011, and brought together people from a wide range of political philosophies, including liberalism, anarchism, socialism giving rise to important debates with different political points of view on the strategy for the movement, or on the economy, the world situation, etc.
The Obama Administration could not allow this movement to develop, its potentially revolutionary content could threaten North American imperialist capitalism. In October 2011, a wave of police evictions swept Occupy encampments across the country, including the brutal nighttime raid on Occupy Oakland on October 25 that left Iraq veteran Scott Olsen in a coma. Oakland activists responded by reoccupying the park the next day and calling for a general strike in Oakland on November 2. Many workers called in sick or left work to join the protest, while the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10 shut down the port with a picket line of protesters. This did not stop evictions against OWS from moving forward including Occupy Oakland, which was re-evicted on November 14. In New York Bloomberg prepared the ground for a new eviction attempt through a media campaign and on November 15 the attack occurred that violently evicted Zuccotti Park, which was responded to with a day of national protest.
OWS was defeated. The immaturity of its leadership, anarchist, petty-bourgeois autonomist, and student, could not develop a movement that had mass sympathy. But the emergence of OWS made clear the new stage that was opening in the United States and in the world: The triumph of the IV North American Revolution had completely changed the situation, causing the emergence of the mass movement in the Middle East, after the departure of NATO troops, and then the development of the Arab Spring, the Rojava Revolution and the defeat of ISIS. In the United States, the fall of the Patriot Act regime had allowed the eruption of the mass movement, of blacks, Latinos, the anti-war movement, and later, the eruption of the Occupy movement, which after facing fierce repression entered in a decline, but left a mark on the country's political life. OWS allowed new processes and movements such as Black Live Matters to emerge under the influence of its example.
Black Live Matters
On the night of February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida, United States, Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African-American boy, went to a grocery store and while returning home was shot dead by George Zimmerman, coordinator neighborhood watch whose program was administered by the local police department. Zimmerman maintained that he killed the young man in self-defense, the Sanford Police believed his argument and released him, which caused a wave of indignation worldwide, and shocked the country. The Reverend Glenn Dames, pastor of St James African Methodist Episcopal Church in neighboring Titusville, called Martin's death a " modern-day lynching," and sparked New York City's "Million Hoodie" march , named after him. for the hooded sweatshirt that Martin was wearing the day he was murdered and which constitutes a symbol of racial stereotype.
Trayvon's parents, Tracy Martin and Sabrina Fulton, joined the march in New York City and demanded that the culprit be arrested. However, on July 13, 2013, Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder, and outrage swept the country. Roslyn Brock, president of the Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), said: "Today justice failed Trayvon Martin and his family. We demand that the Department of Justice open an investigation into the violation of civil rights committed against Trayvon Martin. At that time, three African-American activists, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, launched the so-called Black Lives Matter (BLM, in English, "Black Lives Matter"), which quickly spread throughout the country and became a movement. in the style of Occupy, but also with many differences. BLM has a heterogeneous composition that in different areas adopts different slogans and programs, for example in some areas and deals with partial demands such as school aid.
BLM is politically eclectic, although mostly inclined to support the Democratic Party. Some regions support African-American candidates in the elections and organize SuperPACs in the Democratic Party, and some of their leaders have met with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Black Lives Matter also develops cultural nationalism as part of the fight against racism, but with a different content from the nationalism of the '70s, developing alliances with other oppressed sectors, what is called "allyship", which tends to mean unconditional support for Black people and other people of color or LGBTQ people, mutual solidarity, and frank dialogue. BLM also emerges as a policy to promote the fight for survival in the face of the wave of police murders, extreme poverty, mass incarceration, and all the other evils that African Americans suffer.
the midst of the expansion and development of BLM, the murder of Eirc
Garner on July 17, 2014 in Staten Island, New York, and that of Michael
Brown on August 9, 2014 in Ferguson, occurred first. Garner was killed by a police officer who grabbed him by the neck even though he said " I can't breathe" eleven times while he was face down on the sidewalk. Michael
Brown on August 9, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri, was shot dead by police
officer Darren Wilson, sparking another wave of national outrage that
forced Attorney General Eric Holder to launch a federal investigation of
the department. Missouri police to examine whether officers had shown
racial discrimination or used excessive force.
Darren Wilson has resigned from the Ferguson Police Department. In this process, a clash developed between the young leaders of BLM and the Reverend Al Sharpton and his National Action Network (NAN), who also carried out claims on behalf of African Americans. NAN and Sharpton began to criticize BLM activists, exposing Sharpton's true role as a collaborator of the parties of the political regime and supporter of the police in several districts. Since the 1980s, there have been countless cases of police brutality and murders of African-Americans, from the case of the nine police officers and sexual assault of Abner Louima in 1997, to the murder in 1999 of Amadou Diallo, the young unarmed Guinean immigrant. who died in a volley of 41 bullets fired by police when Diallo reached for his wallet.
Ferguson destroyed the scandalous lie of African-American upward mobility. The
truth is that, except for a co-opted minority, the African-American
masses are socially worse than ever, for them racism has not ended. In
Ferguson, 69% of the population is black, and 29% white, but the mayor,
all the councilors except one, the top officials and all the police
officers, except 3, are white. Even
though the framework of Jim Crow laws is not in force, the obstacles
and tricks put in place for blacks to vote or be candidates are very
effective. In Ferguson and
throughout the region, the poverty rate for blacks is 22%, ten points
above the general rate that includes whites, in the midst of a crisis
that has hit all workers and popular strata.
The existence of a sector of African Americans co-opted by capitalism deepened after the triumph of the Third North American Revolution. The country's political regime had a policy of co-opting African-American leaders and personalities, artists, intellectuals, athletes and writers who were added to the lists of candidates of the Republican and Democratic parties, who were awarded gold records, and were covered in fame. artistic, starring roles in films, in theaters, placed as officials in the various levels of the government, and on the boards of companies and Multinational Corporations such as Goldman Sachs, or JP Morgan Chase.
wave of cynicism covered the African American struggle movement, as a
result of the fact that by the end of the '70s, enormous advances had
been achieved such as the fall of the Jim Crow dictatorship, the
achievement of integration and the acquisition of historical rights, but
Racism, violence and permanent murders of the black population, hunger
and poverty persisted in their communities. The process of cooptation of the African American minority gave rise to the group of young people who managed to "make a career",
an example of which are officials such as President Obama, Bush's
Secretary of State Condolezza Rice, or General Colin Powell, who
commanded the first war against Iraq and was also a member of the Bush
This cooptation was accompanied by harsh repression and even the assassination of the leaders and cadres of the black movements, especially the most radicalized ones such as the Black Panthers, the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965 and that of Martin Luther King in 1968. , who sought to behead the movement. In the late '60s and early '70s, the African American struggle movement entered into a profound crisis of direction and leadership, as well as a crisis of orientation as to where to direct the course of the battle.
As Tom Boot explains : "On the surface, the movement had been limited to a bread-and-butter program of elemental demands. But this period was also delineated by intense introspection and exploration of the future of the struggle." (28) The defense that African Americans found in their lives, values and communities was emphasizing racial pride and the creation of cultural and political institutions to defend and promote the collective interests of black citizens, the values of African American culture and ensure their autonomy, their heritage , its culture, its racial heritage, the origin and descent of Africa. This process is known as "Black Power" , a term used by Stokely Carmichael as organizers and spokespersons for the Students Against Violence Coordinating Committee (SNCC) on June 16, 1966, after the attempted murder of James Meredith during the March Against Fear. Within Black Power, different trends and ideologies emerged, such as those that promoted the autonomy of African Americans, African-American nationalism and separatism.
Although Stokely Carmichael and the SNCC supported black nationalism, organizations such as the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense did not support it because they considered that not all whites were enemies, only those who maintained the structure of racial segregation. Bobby Seale, chancellor and co-founder of the Black Panthers, was especially clear about this difference. He considered that the oppression of black people was due more to the result of economic exploitation than to the inherent racism in society explained in his book Seize the Time, where he affirms that it is a class struggle between the proletarian working class and the small class. ruling class. Seale argued that workers of all races must unite against the oppression and exploitation of the ruling class, a class struggle and not a race struggle. The concept of Black Power was vague and interpreted variously by those who used it, from businessmen who used it to promote black capitalism, to black revolutionaries who wanted to end capitalism.
Even so, the idea of Black Power exerted a significant social influence, contributing to the development of political movements directly and indirectly, and impacting other movements by opening debates on sex, class and sexuality. Many Black Power activists also participated in other similar movements, as was the case with the "second wave " of women's rights activism, supported and organized to some extent by women working in the ranks of the Black Power movement which caused changes by giving impetus to racial solidarity, cultural identity, etc. The impact of the Black Power movement on ethnic identity and black consciousness is manifested in the relatively recent proliferation of black and African academic studies in national and international institutions and the development of studies on the history and culture of African Americans in formal and informal settings. "Black is beautiful" is the phrase that summarizes pride in the African American race related to a historical context of appreciation and valuation of blackness.
The Black Power movement produced artistic and cultural elements that embodied and generated a cultural revolution as well as a political one, which used all types of forms of folkloric, literary and political expression based on the African ancestral past, but promoting cultural updating and definition. By recognizing and legitimizing black culture, the idea of white cultural superiority was challenged, thereby paving the way for the defense of later multiculturalism. The cultural concept of "soul" was fundamental for the individual and community identification of an entire culture that began to develop multiple expressions, from the way of greeting each other, or dressing, to diversifying beauty and aesthetics as the Black Art Movement or MAN emerged in Harlem. In this way, the current called " cultural nationalism" developed with black literature, theater and music that served as a mechanism to confirm black identity and articulating unique impressions of social reality.
Latinos, Asian Americans, and others began to develop as well. their cultural movements, based on the development of resorting to their own legacy and their history, their tradition and their culture, as Black Power did, a movement that, however, was not free of controversy and debates as was the case of the "Black Macho" approach.
Michele Wallace in her book "Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman"
showed how the Black Power movement that attempted to empower African
Americans only empowered African American men, African American women
remained marginalized, unable to develop a political strategy to take
the control of their own lives, an issue that gave rise to the need to
fight for the development of their demands and the union with other
oppressed sectors such as young people, immigrants, gays, etc.
Wallace argues that African Americans in the process of integration and assimilation acquired white cultural attitudes and values regarding sexuality and gender, as a result of which, African American men became sexist and misogynistic and accepted the negative stereotypes of the culture. dominant over the African race. The 1980s were especially difficult for the African-American movement. As Tom Boot explains : "The escalation of the diabolical Reagan reactionary forces with the poor sold and starved...the Reagan regime has accelerated the deterioration of the social programs of the '60s that provided social stability and imposed the kingdom from social terror to a massive economic attack... the African American community is... facing a frontal assault..." (29)
Abu-Jamal, an African-American journalist and political activist who
was a member of the Black Panther Party and president of the
Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists, was sentenced to death in
1982 for murdering police officer Daniel Faulkner in a biased trial
involving an all-white jury. On December 7, 2011, his sentence was
commuted to life in prison without parole, following an international
pressure campaign for his freedom that transformed Abu-Jamal's cause
into an emblem of international efforts to abolish death penalty. Celebrities
and activists from around the world petitioned for him, including
former French first lady Danielle Mitterrand, German writer Günter Grass
and American Noam Chomsky.
Cases of racist and police violence spiked in 1984 with the case of Bernhard Goetz, a white man who shot four unarmed black youths in a subway car after claiming they had harassed him. Then, the murder of Edmundo Perry, then the murder of Michael Griffith at the hands of a group of racists, or the case of Yusuf Hawkins in 1989. The then governor of New York Mario Cuomo was forced to appoint a special prosecutor who obtained convictions then.
Under Bill Clinton's administration in the '90s, the situation for African Americans did not change much; the federal incarceration rate doubled, growing more than it did under the previous 12 years of Republican government, according to the Justice Policy Institute. In 1992, the Los Angeles riots broke out when an almost entirely white jury acquitted four police officers who appeared on amateur video footage beating black taxi driver Rodney King. Thousands of people in Los Angeles, California, mainly young African Americans and Latinos, joined together in a racial and ethnic riot that lasted 6 days, in which they took the city and carried out looting, looting, and burning in an uprising that left 54 dead and more than 2,000 injured. In 1997 there was the sexual assault of Abner Louima, and in 1999 there was the murder of Amadou Diallo, a young immigrant from Guinea who died in a volley of 41 bullets fired by police. In 1999, the federal incarceration rate was 42 per 100,000 residents - more than double the rate at the end of Ronald Reagan and 61% higher than at the end of George Bush.
Bill Clinton had made promises to blacks, women and workers but his program focused on repression presented as "fighting crime" as Howard Zinn explains: "...Clinton made a few cabinet appointments that would give understand that he supported labor and social welfare programs. But his key appointments to the Treasury and Commerce departments went to wealthy corporate lawyers, and the foreign policy team - the secretary of Defense, the director of the CIA and the National Security Advisor...Clinton's economic program - initially announced as a job creation program - soon changed course and focused on deficit reduction...In one year, in In 1988, 40,000 babies died before their first birthday, with the death rate among African-American babies twice as high as among white babies...Democrats and Republicans came together to pass a crime bill, to build more prisons and to lock up to more desperate people, many of whom were young, and many of whom were non-white..." (30)
The enormous and powerful national and international mobilization that the Fourth North American Revolution meant had given rise to the emergence of OWS and BLM, but in no way did the beginning of these new movements mean the end of racial attacks against African Americans. On June 17, 2015, the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina suffered a horrific attack when a young white man entered the church and began shooting at worshipers, claiming 9 lives, including that of Reverend and Senator Clementa C. Pinckney. This attack shocked the country, due to the racist and supremacist character of its perpetrator who, while shooting, shouted the arguments of the Klan and the Nazis, but also because the attack was perpetrated against one of the symbols of the fight for civil rights.
As Freedom Socialist Newspaper explains: "... they were intended to destroy everything that the African Methodist Episcopal Church stands for in the fight against racism and forced servitude. This church was founded by Denmark Vesey, who was a former slave and who In 1822 he planned the largest slave revolt in the history of the United States... Vesey's son rebuilt the church, which also became an arrival point for the Underground Railroad. In the 1960s, it was transformed in a civil rights and labor center...This is not the first black church to be attacked. Between 1995 and 1996, about 30 churches in the South were burned down by racists. Clearly, the forces of white supremacy are at work again again. Their targets are people of color, immigrants, Jews, union members, women and homosexuals. This requires a broad self-defense movement" (31)
The pressure of the wave of national indignation caused by the Charleston massacre, and the fear of a powerful uprising, influenced by organizations such as BLM or OWS, forced the Governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley to request the removal of the flag from the Old Confederacy flying in front of the state Capitol in Columbia, five days after the massacre. Haley, a millionaire member of the Tea Party, changed her stance from supporting the flag to calling for its removal as a result of growing fear among the ruling classes that the presence in front of the Capitol of a Confederate flag, a deeply offensive symbol of racism, could provoke a revolt. Following the attack on Emanuel Church, the American and state flags on the Capitol dome were placed at half-staff in tribute to the victims of the Charleston massacre. However, the Confederate flag was not lowered. The attack in Charleston did not cause the effect of fear and intimidation that the supremacists sought to impose, but rather it caused the exact opposite effect.
When images of supremacist Dylann Roof with Confederate flags became known, there was enormous pressure to remove the Confederate flag that hung in front of the Capitol in Columbia. Three weeks after the massacre, both legislative chambers met and agreed to remove the flag that had flown for more than half a century, raised in 1961 by the state government as a gesture of defiance to the nascent civil rights movement. Commercial giants, such as Amazon, decided to stop selling these flags and opposition to Confederate monuments grew throughout the country, and in July 2015 the commissioners of Bexar County, whose capital is the city of San Antonio, Texas, ordered the removal of its public buildings various plaques commemorating the Confederate period, located on the Bexar County Courthouse itself. "We are not going to glorify symbols of hate" said County Judge Nelson Wolff. The University of Texas is considering removing 3 statues honoring Davis, Lee and Johnston, while other monuments were attacked in Denton, a city near Dallas.
The shock waves unleashed by Charleston continued to resonate. Mayor Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans, Louisiana, introduced a motion 4 Confederate monuments constructed of granite and metal, which, after two tumultuous public sessions in which hundreds of people attended, the city council of the city of New Orleans voted to remove them in December 2015. New Orleans voted to remove them in December 2015. Ten years after Hurricane Katrina opened a dark era of horrible racism for the city perpetrated by the Bush Administration, another hurricane was now sweeping away the Confederate statues. On May 19, 2016, the Lee statue was removed in New Orleans. During its removal, Mayor Landrieu expressed in his speech: "The purpose of these monuments is to celebrate an imaginary and denaturalized Confederation; ignoring the dead, ignoring slavery, and the terror that it actually implied... c About 4,000 of our fellow citizens were lynched, 540 in Louisiana alone..."
The wave of removal of Confederate symbols in the country began to face resistance from supremacist groups, a contractor involved in the removal work abandoned the job after an arsonist burned his car, and threats from pro-Confederacy groups made it difficult Find a new contractor. Then there were lawsuits filed in state and federal courts by the city's memorialists, who called the monuments "cultural artifacts ," to which civil rights groups responded forcefully: Is it an obelisk of granite built in 1891 that commemorates the brief overthrow of the Reconstruction municipal government in 1874 by the White League of Crescent City, part of our "heritage "?
Those who define these monuments as cultural artifacts are lying. Most of these symbols were placed when the dictatorship of Jim Crow segregation was established. There began a systematic falsification and rewriting of Civil War and Confederate history and the erection of pro-Confederate statues and monuments beginning in 1880, after the Reconstruction governments were overthrown. In New Orleans: Lee in 1884, the obelisk in 1891, Davis in 1911, and Beauregard in 1915. These monuments sought to transform these defenders of slavery into great heroes of the South, while under the Jim Crow dictatorship African Americans were routinely humiliated, brutalized and mutilated.
In August 2017, the Charlottesville City Council's decision to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee led white supremacist groups to protest in the city on Saturday and unleash chaos, causing the death of a woman - struck by a vehicle driven by a neo-Nazi. President Donald Trump condemned both groups by putting an equal sign between supremacists and those protesting against racism. Initially, the president did not strongly condemn far-right violence. This serious event sparked mobilizations throughout the country against the Nazis and supremacists, and accelerated the process of removing Confederate emblems.
Trump criticized the removal of Confederate
statues, and compared General Lee to several of the country's founders
and first leaders, since they also had slaves. "Are
we going to take down the statues of George Washington? And Thomas
Jefferson, what do you think? Because he had a lot of slaves," Trump
said at a news conference in New York. But
no one heeded his claims. On the contrary, in Durham, North Carolina, a
group of protesters tore down a statue of Confederate soldiers. The
governor of Tennessee, Republican Bill Haslam, asked to remove from the
Capitol a bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general and one
of the first members of the Ku Klux Klan.
In August 2017, the city of Baltimore removed its monuments in the early hours of the morning, and authorities in Florida, Tennessee and Kentucky raised plans to also remove monuments of this type. The wave reached Canada where one of its most emblematic companies, the Hudson's Bay Company, removed a plaque placed in its main store in the Canadian city of Montreal that commemorated Jefferson Davis. The city of Tennessee found a brilliant idea when the state prohibited it from removing the statues: The city sold the parks where they were located to the organization Greenspace.
Far from the massive marches carried out by the KKK at the beginning of the 20th century, today supremacist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, the neo-Nazis or the Alt-right movement of Richard Spencer or Lana Lokteff are marginal groups, with little insertion, that must demonstrate escorted by the police because they are rejected wherever they go. The Charlestton massacre fueled a huge wave of collapse of symbols of racism and supremacism, starting in June 2015, a wave that has seen more than 110 Confederate flags, statues and banners removed across the country. And it threatens more, as an expression of the new winds blowing in the United States after the triumph of the IV North American Revolution.
(1) The Impact of the USA Patriot Act: An Update. Nancy Kranich. "The Free Expression Policy Project" 2003
(2) ACLU "Patriot Act Fears Are Stifling Free Speech"
(3) "Nació la Ussra (United Socialist State Republic of America)". Nouriel Roubini's Global EconoMonitor
(4) History of the Russian Revolution. Foreword. Volume I
(5) George Novack. "Democracy and Revolution" Pathfinder Press 1977
(6) Nahuel Moreno. School of Economics (1984)
(7) (8) y (9) George Novack. "Democracy and Revolution" Pathfinder Press 1977
(10) Howard Zinn. "A People's History of the United States" 1980
(11) Nahuel Moreno. School of Economics (1984)
(12) Howard Zinn. "A People's History of the United States" 1980
(13) "Nació la Ussra (United Socialist State Republic of America)". Nouriel Roubini's Global EconoMonitor.
(14) Karl Marx Capital Book I Chapter XXIII The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation
(15, 16 and 17) Interview by Lars Schall with Nomi Prins 3-6-2014
(18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 y 25) Howard Zinn. "A People's History of the United States" 1980
(26) Inauguration of the United States Police State 2012: Obama signs the "National Defense Authorization Act."Michel Chossudovsky
(27) Leon Trotsky. "Europe and America." 1926
(28) and (29) Tom Boot. "Revolutionary Integration: Yesterday and Today." Revolutionary Integration: A Marxist Analysis of African American Liberation. Richard Fraser and Tom Boot. Red Letter Press 2004
(30) Howard Zinn. "A People's History of the United States" 1980
(31) Freedom Socialist Newspaper.
"The concentration of economic power in giant corporations and financial institutions... has accelerated every decade... this small minority controls the major banks and corporations... the Presidency and the executive branch of the federal government; the judicial body federal; the military apparatus; the CIA and the FBI; the regulatory agencies; the foundations ; the best universities; the media... and the most important opinion-shaping associations..."
George Novak. Democracy and Revolution, 1970
The term "Deep State" began to be heard in recent years, especially during the Trump Administration. Donald Trump himself, as part of several of his demagogic political statements, declared that he was confronting the "deep state." The concept refers to components of the government, finance, the Pentagon, security agencies and the military-industrial complex that effectively governs the country from the shadows. And being the most important country on the planet, whose corporations dominate the world economy, the Deep State is not a shadow government of the United States, but rather a shadow government of the entire world.
Various authors have referred to this issue, including conservatives Mike Lofgren, a former Republican aide to the US Congress, Steve Bannon and Sean Hannity, Trump Administration officials, Jason Royce Lindsey, the list is endless. Alfred W. McCoy has written that the increase in power of the American intelligence community since the 9/11 attacks "has constructed a fourth branch of the U.S. government...in many ways autonomous from the executive, and each once again." Glenn Greenwald, Michael J. Glennon, and the Canadian Peter Dale Scott, who is credited with authoring the term, have also referred to the topic. Those who refer to this issue put the magnifying glass on a key aspect of the situation in the United States, and the world situation: The permanent tendency towards Bonapartism of the North American state.
This is how Novack explains it: "Under the domination of monopoly capital, the real centers of economic and political decision-making move away from the chambers and halls of parliament. The executives of corporations, banks, insurance companies and immense financial groups negotiate face to face. face to face with the highest government officials and the highest military leaders on matters of vital importance to them in domestic and international affairs. Private consultations of this type are continually held in clubs, restaurants, residences and places of recreation. The cliques They convey the wishes and advice of the rich and powerful to their complacent political servants. The usurpation of war-making powers by the White House is the most salient aspect of a broader phenomenon common to all Western constitutional capitalist regimes."
Novack explains: "... the unstoppable tendency towards strengthening the executive at the expense of representative parliamentary bodies... Monopoly pressure is the main factor in this process... The White House and the Pentagon also demand the maximum centralization of military decisions to carry out carry out their plans - from data collection, to the overthrow of recalcitrant heads of state and the assassination of popular leaders... capitalist corporations achieve their objectives in two ways. They turn into obedient instruments permanent institutions of the State such as the army, the secret police, the high administration of government departments (the bureaucracy) and the judicial body, which are far removed from the influence of the electorate... Taken to their own devices. logical limits, this tendency leads to Bonapartism..." (1)
Supreme Court Associate Justice William Orville Douglas, in his book "Points of Rebellion , " stated "Where is the force that will stop the Pentagon?... It is possible that the revolution will be the only honorable alternative to oppression ...George III was the symbol against which our founders made a revolution, now considered brilliant and glorious. We must realize that the established institutions of today are the new George III. If they go or "Not to continue adhering to the former's tactics, we don't know. If they do, the remedy, honoring tradition, is also revolution...". Douglas anticipated the American Revolution of the 21st Century with remarkable precision. But Douglas could not foresee something that was going to happen in the Deep State, precisely caused by the beginning of the North American Revolution, which prevented the Patriot Act regime from being imposed.
Conflicts, internal conflicts, leaks break out daily, affecting security agencies, government officials, the Armed Forces, the FBI, the NSA, the CIA. The Deep State is the set of Bonapartist institutions that tried to impose themselves with the establishment of the Patriot Act regime, an immense uncontrollable state bureaucracy that could not establish itself in power, because the Bush Administration was defeated. But that immense, and increasingly larger, machinery remained standing. It continues to grow, battered, in crisis, broken into pieces, with fractures and fissures that are exposed to light daily. Without a doubt, the brutal crisis of capitalism that plagues the United States and the world, and the mobilization of workers and people that shakes the North American people and the five continents, contributes to the breakdown of the formidable state machinery.
The machinery of the military-industrial complex, fed by the laws and institutions created by the Bush Administration, is broken and gnawed internally by a notable political crisis, expressed in the contradictions that explode every day, crossed denunciations, public confrontations, divisions and differences. public in the Armed Forces, and security agencies, which are now their daily bread. But just because this machinery is in this state of breakdown does not mean that it has stopped being dangerous. On the contrary, it is more dangerous than ever. A machinery in crisis is capable of the greatest horrors, which is why it is more necessary than ever for it to disappear once and for all.
The IV North American Revolution of the 21st century has begun. The coming years will show where it is going, but the defeat of the Bush Administration and the attempt to impose the Patriot Act regime is only the beginning. At the same time, since the North American state is the state that dominates the entire world, the IV North American Revolution of the 21st Century is not a revolution against the capitalist system, limited only to the United States of America. It is a global revolution, with its epicenter in the United States, but encompassing the entire world, in which each continent, region, country and state plays its role, and constitutes a chapter of its development and existence.
Our goal is to support it with all our might, because we need to put an end to the crudest and most horrifying expression of centuries of development of the capitalist system, already in a state of complete decomposition and decadence. The first step in supporting the Fourth North American Revolution is to explain what is happening, a question for which we have published this book. It is the service that we want to provide you, first of all to study it precisely using the scientific tools we have at our disposal. But once this analysis is put at the service of the support, clarification and triumph of the Fourth North American Revolution, it is not enough to understand that it has begun, the task is to carry it out with all our strength. This revolutionary process has just begun and it must be finished. From the initial triumph and beginning, until it is defined, the IV North American Revolution is a key, historical battle, in which the future of all humanity will be decided.
(1) George Novack. "Democracy and Revolution" Pathfinder Press 1977
(2) George Novack. "Democracy and Revolution" Pathfinder Press 1977
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