I would like to thank the organizers of the Desmond Greaves Summer School for the invitation to speak. The Desmond Greaves Summer School has always been the only summer school that really challenges the establishment. I look forward to the establishment of a DGS web page containing all the papers given over the years. Such a web page would show the influence of the Summer School over the years and the continuing influence of the democratic values of Desmond Greaves.
The Peace& Neutrality Alliance was established to advocate an Independent Irish Foreign Policy, Irish Neutrality and a reformed United Nations.
The reason why PANA was established was because the Republic of Ireland was being integrated into US/EU military industrial structures through the militarisation of the European Union and a move towards NATO membership via Irish membership of the Partnership of Peace. The six counties of Northern Ireland are already in NATO, so these developments would consolidate all Ireland integration into the established EU/US military structures.
A number of people in 1996 with a background in the Irish peace movement decided there was a need for a broad based alliance that would oppose these developments by focusing on militarisation, the weakest link in the integration process and advocate an alternative future than that on offer from the Irish political elite. Over 30 groups are now affiliated to PANA. Our objective is to ensure the establishment of an all Ireland Republic, with a government implementing its own foreign policy, outside any military alliances, and pursuing that policy through a reformed United Nations where the Security Council, instead of being dominated by the victors of the 2nd World War, was genuinely inclusive and representative of the world’s states.
However, what is happening in Ireland cannot be examined without first outlining the global context in which Irish Independence and Democracy are being destroyed.
The background for the attack on Irish Independence, neutrality and democratic has the steady rise in power of the neo-liberal ideology of many of the global corporations throughout the world, especially in the western states, and the belief by a significant section of them, that the decline in oil stocks would need the sustaining and development of military capitalism and the restoration of direct Imperial domination to ensure their continuing wealth and power. Ireland was being integrated into their economic structures, so it was inevitable that in due course they would seek to integrate Ireland into their military structures as well.
The effect of the growing power of the corporations on the world, especially the poor have been stark.
- The total export debt of developing countries rose from $90 million in 1970 to $2,000 billion in 1998.
- 2.8 billion of the world’s poor live on less than $2 a day.
- 1.2 billion of the worlds 6 billion people live on less than$1 a day.
- 30-35,000 children die every day from preventable diseases.
- The gap between the richest 20% of the world’s population and the poorest 20% has doubled over the last 40 years.
- The assets of the world’s top 3 billionaires exceed the GNP of all the population’s of the least developed countries, which have a total population of 600 million.
- 80% of the world’s income goes to the top 20% of the world’s population.
- 60% of the world’s population has only 6% of the world’s income.
- 51 of the largest 100 economic global entities are corporations.
- $1.5 trillion are traded every day in foreign exchanges.
- Basic food and raw material prices, the staple income for the majority world, fell by 50% in real terms in the last 20 years.
Russia, a state that adopted neo-liberalism, encouraged by the US Treasury Dept. and the IMF, saw its industrial production fall by 60% between 1990-99 and the percentage of its people living in poverty rise from 2% to 24% (living on less than $2 a day) and more than 40% living on $4 a day.
While Bush and the neo-liberals want to keep it that way, these facts go a long way to explain why he has relatively little support in South America, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Russia and the peoples if not all the governments in Europe for his decision to invade and conquer Iraq because he wanted the oil and to strengthen Israeli/US military domination of the region.
An example of the lack of support was a recent Pew global survey showed only 7 of 20 nations (Britain, Israel, Kuwait, Canada, Nigeria, Italy and Australia) had a favorable view of the US.
Yet through organizations like the Trilateral Commission, the Bildergerg Group, and the European Round Table, the global neo-liberal elite work together, not in any conspiratorial way, but by and large in an open confident manner, using their domination of the mass media to maintain their control (i.e., every Irish newspaper supported the Irish governments decision to destroy Irish neutrality). They know that neo-liberalism has made them rich and powerful. They believe that war; especially an atmosphere of fear generated by permanent war, consolidates their wealth and power. Bush, Blair, Ahern and Co has nothing to learn from Orwell.
They are aware that conflicting ideologies are necessary to ensure the justification for the massive military expenditure that provides the backbone of the American Empire and the aspiring EU Empire. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, they needed a new enemy, especially that section of the corporate elite in arms production. They found it in what they now call Muslim Fundamentalism and the so-called war on terrorism, which provides the justification for the destruction of international law, institutionalized and systematic torture, and the erosion of civil liberties. Huntington’s book, "The Clash of Civilizations" provided the intellectual justification. The concept that there is a Judeo/Christian civilization, which is superior to the Muslim civilization and that war, was inevitable between the two civilizations, was just what the US/EU arms industry corporations wanted to hear.
It might be said that fact that the US/EU supported the colonization and occupation of Palestine by millions of European Jews and are now occupying Afghanistan and Iraq and are threatening to invade the Sudan might be a factor in alienating millions and millions of Arabs and Muslims does not appear to have occurred to them. But of course it has, which is why they do it. They need war, they want war, and they love war. It’s great for business.
If the US/EU really wanted peace they would withdraw for Iraq and Afghanistan and impose sanctions on Israel until it withdraws to its 1967 borders. In fact, the EU states and US support Israel, the latest example being their opposition to the role of the International Court of Justice on the issue of the legality in International law of the Israeli wall. Those states that voted against the ICJ issuing an advisory opinion included Ireland, Israel, the USA, Germany, France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, the UK and the EU. Those in favour included the Palestinian Authority, Cuba, Indonesia, South Africa and the Arab League.
That is not to say Muslim Fundamentalism does not exist, it does, just as does Christian Fundamentalism or Hindu Fundamentalism. Neither is it surprising that many millions of the oppressed people of the world will seek in Muslim Fundamentalism an answer to their oppression, especially since the leaders of Western Imperialism like Bush and Blair and Ahern, who are largely responsible for their oppression, are Christian Fundamentalists and much of their popular support base is explicitly based on mobilising Christian Fundamentalism.
In Ireland, where the exploitation of religious hate and fear by unionism has played such a key role in our domination by Imperialism, Irish Republicans, have long experienced the power of religious bigotry and the use of that power by the rich to divide the people so they stay rich. We should, like Tone and the United Irishmen in a previous generation reject any role for religious fundamentalism in the struggle against Imperialism.
However, it is the US where military capitalism is concentrated, where the use and abuse of Christian Fundamentalism is strongest, and with such power mobilised, is an integral part of the ideology by which the elite retain their wealth.
The American Empire is the power centre of neo-liberal corporate elite. Their power in that state is virtually absolute. Their domination of their own people can be seen by the following facts;
- 13% of American companies in the US no longer pay paid leave, an increase of 5% from 1997
- 25% of workers in the United States no longer take an annual holiday.
- Of those that do, they typically receive 8 days after one year and 10 days after 3 years.
- Only 13% of workers in the US are unionized.
- The ratio of the annual income of US Chief Executives to the average workers annual income increased from 42 times in 1980 to 500 in 2000.
- 43 million Americans have no health care.
- The American political parties will spend $1.3 billion on advertising in 2004.
- Forty-seven million Americans work for less than $10 an hour.
Yet it is these facts that are providing the backbone to a major challenge to the corporate elite within the US and the anti-globalisation demonstrations in Seattle was a major turning point in the struggle against Imperialism. The growth of the Internet, especially in the US has massively undermined the power of the corporate information giants of Fox, CNN etc. If the printing press led to a transformation in culture and politics then the Internet is having an even more powerful effect. For example, the net provides the mechanism by which Dean, a leading ant-war candidate, propelled the anti-war issue centre stage, it ensured the success of Michael Moore’s book, Stupid White Men, has spawned a growing number of web sites, such as z net, which are replacing the establishment media as the real source of information, and most importantly it is providing a cheap and effective method for those opposed to the neo-liberal elite to build a coalition against them.
The power of Imperialism within the US however cannot be underestimated. Ralph Nader, the only Presidential candidate calling for withdrawal of US troops from Iraq only has the support of 2% of the electorate. Many progressives therefore believe that defeating Bush is a priority and in effect have joined the Democratic Party coalition.
Kerry was selected as the Democratic candidate in the Presidential election this year and the coalition he has built reflects the successful fight back by progressive political forces in the United States. Kerry is a supporter of neo-liberalism, but in the context of the US, a Kerry victory would be a defeat for Bush and his version of military capitalism.
While Kerry’s selection was a defeat for the American anti-war movement but is really a reflection of the fact that not all corporations have an absolute commitment to war capitalism. Many of them are in sectors; such as entertainment where having the rest of the people of the world hating America is not good for business. Other CEO’s of these Corporations would rather make money that die for George W. Bush. The fact that last year the figures show that US corporations invested more money in France than in previous years provides evidence that many did not buy into the anti-French hysteria of the right wing US media.
That large sections of capital, in the US, and even more strongly in other regions such as South East Asia, that have done well out of globalisation largely by ignoring the harsher neo-liberal solutions of the IMF, do not support Bush is indicated by a recent poll of global fund managers that control $940 billion, the majority of whom thought Kerry would win, although the British and US managers thought Bush would win. The reality is that large sections of capital believe war causes instability, such as hugh increases in oil prices, and is not good for business.
Also many people in the elite are aware that the US, with only 4% of the world’s population is not as strong economically as it once was as these figures show:
- In 1950 the US supplied 50% of the world’s gross product. It is now 21%.
- In 1950 the US was responsible for 60% of manufacturing production, and it’s now 25%.
- Of the top 100 corporations ranked by foreign-held assets, only 25 are American.
- In 1960, 47% of the world’s stock of direct investment in other countries was American. It’s now 21%.
- In global finance, in 1981, 67% of private savings in the world was American. It is now 40%.
- In 1971 the US had a deficit in its trade in goods for the first time in 78 years. To date the deficits were offset by trade in services and borrowings. But by 2002 the US was borrowing $503 billion from abroad, 4.5% of GDP and by 2003, foreigners owned 41% of US treasury marketable debt.
- The federal budget surpluses of the 1998-2001 are now projected to be budget deficits of $450 billion for 2004-6. The federal government is slashing spending on education, health, transport, etc. Only the military industrial complex is receiving state investments. Federal aid to state government is being cut, and state governments now face deficits of $65-85 billion leading to deeper cuts local expenditure on everything from public safety to libraries.
In short, the American Empire no longer has the economic power to sustain its military domination of the globe. Like all previous Empires, it’s due for a fall. It will be defeated in Iraq, as it was in Vietnam and the sooner the better.