The interview (transcript below) from questions with Prof. John McMurtry was conducted for the 15th Anniversary of “Geopolitika” a journal of geopolitical and cultural analysis in Belgrade which was broadcast on Radio Belgrade by the weekly show “Silen” on February 12 from questions posed by Biljana Đorović.
The depth of the abyss into which the world is falling is ever clearer to people, but not the cause or the way out. Could you give us some kind of structure to explain what is at the heart of this empire of chaos that is reigning across the world?
In a nutshell, social evolution itself has been reversed by a US-led war on social and ecological life organisation driven by one corrupt master value – to free transnational corporations and their shareholders from social responsibility to multiply private fortunes without limit. It is a counter-revolution against the long development of democratic government and the welfare state that once crossed across the divisions of the Cold War.
The ultimate driver of the disorder can be explained in one underlying principle. The sole and absolute organising principle of the world’s reproduction and growth is turning private money into maximally more money for private money controllers. The ‘empire of chaos’ is the result.
The more this transnational financial capitalism is deregulated and subsidized , the more it multiplies itself through organic, social and ecological life hosts, the more predatorily destructive it becomes at all levels. This is ultimately a cancer system at the macro level, and it has quickly spread through the world. It was effectively with the Reagan-Thatcher counter-revolution against the social state with a US $500-billion tax-cut to the rich deliberately bankrupting the base of social programs, simultaneously pervasive media worship of the ‘free market’ and hatred of socialism, behind-the-scenes presidential permission of mass media monopolies proclaiming this mindless propaganda line, the systematic smashing of organised labour and sites of progressive intellectual discourses, ghoulish leashing of death squads in Latin Central America to reverse socialist forces while spending the opposing superpower USSR into bankruptcy on the arms race, and – finally but perhaps most importantly – preparation and passing of the world’s first major binding treaty absolutizing transnational corporate rights over all past or future democratic policies or legislation reducing foreign profit opportunities.
This sets the historical parameters of the current empire of chaos by reversing the post-1945 social evolution towards life security for all by the master principle of commodity and money-demand maximization across cultures and permanent war against any alternative.
How could this possibly be proclaimed, as it always has been, a victory for global freedom morality and justice?
The key is always in the US-designated Enemy whose destruction is equated to the victory of Good over Evil. There is no positive substance of the Good but destruction of the designated Enemy. There is in fact no common life interest of US civilization. There is the Enemy that must be defeated on the collective level, the sole collectivity. The money that must be made to survive is the only obligatory individual value, with self-maximization the logic of success.
The global turning point to ‘Communism’ as the Enemy came in 1991 with the fall of the USSR. This was triumphally proclaimed the victory of US freedom, the death of marxism and socialism, and the end of history itself.
In fact, the USSR fell by being hollowed out by the arms race and the Cold War, a deliberate US strategy, and from fighting the first jihadi terrorist uprising financed by the US in quasi-socialist Afghanistan. It was on Russia’s border, and the way to “bleed Russia to death” when it intervened to assist the secular social order with new equality for women. Yugoslavia at this same time was an iconically successful socialist society across ethnic divisions. But its US-led financial destruction was planned by secret presidential directive in 1981, and led to a chaos of ethnic wars and hatred ending in the 1999 bombing of Belgrade by NATO – – which was also during the US-British sanction bombing of Iraq, and more society-destroying bombings to come across the Middle East. Now the new designated Enemy was Saddam once the USSR fell.
One can see here that always a great Enemy is declared. It was long Communism which covered any alternative secular order with any socially owned economic base, the real danger being that it outperforms capitalist societies in serving the life needs of its people. But no sooner had this threat been apparently eliminated in even the Third World with death squads, international slanders and financial sabotage usually doing the trick than a new great Enemy called Saddam was declared just as the USSR was falling next door and unable to intervene.
Another new war, worse than the Cold War went into motion. As always there was constructed pretext, but this time without any USSR to limit it, the US (and Britain) bombed the long-evolved socialist infrastructure of Iraq into ruins and perpetrated an eco-genocidal invasion from 1991 to 2003 that was, as always, justified by the Enemy it attacked – although the enemy Saddam was long on the CIA payroll, just as Osama Laden, the next great Enemy to appear, was financed and armed by the US in Afghanistan to begin the new greatest enemy of all replacing Communism.
This Enemy is Islamic Terror which still morphs on into ISIS suddenly appearing in June 2014 to keep the ball rolling into Syria bombing by NATO, a reprise of the complete society destruction of Libya by US-led NATO bombing in 2011. The end of the Cold War gave rise not to peace, but wars of aggression by the US whenever it could take the people along with false cover stories. The constant throughout is a great Enemy, the cornerstone of US ideology, with constructed pretext or false flag event always justifying war against the now perpetually changing Enemy – in fact, sitting duck with no air defenses to stop imperial bombing and expansion of the transnational money-cancer system.
Do you think there is a fundamental difference between the US-led empire during the Cold War and after it? The years of the US-Soviet conflict seem almost pastoral compared to now.
1991 was supposed to bring about the great Peace Dividend with no US enemy to justify the always rising military spending to stop the “communist plot for world rule”. Now we know better who was aiming for world rule, as always projecting onto the designated Enemy the US’s own objective. The carpet bombings of helpless societies by US-led forces since 1991 are, like Vietnam, eco-genocidal in nature, only now one after another. They force-metastasize the exponential private financial growth of Wall Street and company, but transnational corporate treaty and social-state stripping is the ultimate inner logic of the US-led spreading chaos.
Before 1991, the US and allies had developed social life support systems and a welfare state to compete with state socialism. No longer. Since the fall of the USSR, whole peoples and their life conditions are destroyed and looted across continents from Yugoslavia to the Ukraine, from Iraq to Libya to Syria to who knows where next. Propelling every degenerate trend from behind has been the carcinomic financialization of real economies into multiplying private money sequences devouring life and life support systems as ‘global market freedom and prosperity’. This is the borderless transnational globalization of the private money-power system that has changed all the rules.
Dividing societies into civil war or helpless bankruptcy or both is the new and unnamed master pattern, destroying whatever collective economic and social success has been achieved everywhere, clearing s the way for foreign control of once sovereign resources, markets and peoples. Greece is a current example of these external money sequences cored in transnational banks hollowing out an evolved Western society to recoup foreign bank revenues after the Wall-Street-engineered bank collapse of 2008 – stripping ever more peoples to pay for big banks’ ponzi schemes even if the society’s unemployment goes over 30%, the public sector is dismantled and looted at fire-sale prices, and the majority’s lives and life conditions are turned towards the living hell formerly reserved for the Third World death-squad dictatorships.
This systemic money-sequenced destruction of evolved societies, their public resources and life support systems is now plundering all societies including the US and Britain. It is inconceivable that what is now normalized as “necessary market reforms” today could have been even proposed by these countries from 1950 to 1991. But things have also changed at the oppositional level. Latin America has largely evolved out of the US-led oligarchies of fascist tyranny.
Why is this underlying pattern – essentially a global multi-front war against humanity – not recognised in even academic discourses?
This is a very complex matter in all the levels of systemic degeneration and attack. The inherited methods and categories of understanding are incapable of comprehension so long as they are divided into siloes, mechanistically organised into atomic agents and aggregates, and increasingly funded for proprietary corporate research for profit.
The academy led by its own multiplying corporate managements has been largely converted into a servo-mechanism to the financial cancer system, a long war, with a new underclass of casualized worker- profs doing most of the teaching with no time for research. System diagnosis is prohibited at every step by this context. Marxist analysis itself is bound to categories unable to grasp the system’s disorder where more means and conditions of life are now destroyed than produced.
So-called ‘economics’ is most of all a set-point of the self-referential stupefaction. It is based on a life-blind liquid mechanics of the nineteenth century disguised by algebraic notations whose referents are idealized money coordinates in dyadic and exponential repetitions. The reigning models are structured a-priori not to see any of the real-life failures and depredations of the runaway disorder. Policy-setting ‘economics’ is without any framework to factor in the life needs of people, societies and environments at all. Academically trained critics name the problem as ‘neo-liberalism’, but this is a vacuously equivocal slogan. – – The classical liberals John Stuart Mill and John Dewey were both mild socialists and advocated a reasoned social progress of humanity’s permanent life interests, which this transnational private money-sequence system rules out in principle.
Could you say more about the “false ruling categories” misleading even the academic Left and most concerned citizens?
To begin with, this system is not as almost everyone assumes, a ‘free market’. Its trade and investment treaties across borders prove it to be a transnational corporate dictatorship in principle. Corporate lawyers write all the rules in secret. They override the policies of elected legislatures. Global supply and demand are controlled by dominant transnational corporations. Open market competition is ruled out by predatory and transfer pricing, corporate lobby control of state policies, and vast and growing government subsidies to favoured players.
While “the free market” is still absurdly assumed as given, “efficiency” is even more universally assumed as its regulating discipline and logic of progress. Indeed it is the justification for all the jobs continuously lost, all the deregulations, pollutions, resource-mining horrors, and inhuman exploitations from one place to the next across the globe.
Yet in fact this system is the opposite of ‘efficient’ in life means production and reproduction – the substance of any real economy. What is miscalled ‘efficiency’ merely lowers money costs for private profit agents. In reality, this system is now by far the most wasteful system ever, wasting more life value than it produces. 90% of the biomass it converts into commodities for profit end up as waste within six weeks. 40% of even final food products are thrown away without consumption. Fresh water lakes and aquifers are everywhere polluted and drawn down without efficient water use entering the equations. .
‘Absence of waste’ is the definition of efficiency. But this system wastes everything to multiply private money sequences with ever more people jobless, species in spasm extinctions, oceans poisoned and hollowed out, junks of every kind becoming more dominant across domains.
Do you think there are dark corridors of power where the game is rigged by master manipulators with their own ruling goals and forms of action? If so, what are they
Well they definitely exist as a self-flattering transnational money party bending the system to limitless rule. In the cases I know, the imaginary global free market is covertly structured to make private money rights sovereign over all that exists with no accountability to any human or ecological life need at all. This is conceived as “global market freedom”. The corrupt self-conceit is mind-stopping.
Banker David Rockefeller elliptically expressed this program back in 1991. “A supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and bankers”, he intoned to fellow Bilderburgers, “is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries”. This statement has never been denied. It implicitly entails a dark meaning. The ruling goal and form of action is to stop history’s democratic trend, to end peoples bonded by national identity, to override people’s say over their collective future, to eliminate public sectors except as serving this private money sovereign, and to accept this banker sovereignty as the proper replacement of the self-determination of nations and peoples.
Banker Rockefeller only refers to the ‘intellectual elite’ to deploy their Platonic conceit. He is more ignorant than they that Plato’s ‘philosopher kings’ live in community ownership of goods without private money gain to corrupt their reason by the lowest level of the soul, the self’s appetites. In contrast, Rockefeller’s ‘intellectual elite’ are exemplified by Rockefeller’s own money-obsequious German protégé, Leo Strauss who preaches the sovereignty of private money over society in Talmudic style that is hard to decipher. Yet as Rockefeller’s parachuted University of Chicago professor and godfather of the U.S. National Security Council, Strauss affirms the goal in his Natural Right and History: “limitless [money] capital accumulation” is “a moral duty and perhaps the highest moral duty”. Wasted expenditures at will , no productive function, genocides of the conquered, each and all are rationalized away by Strauss as moral rectitude by the ‘natural right’ of private money capital. He justifies every one.
This is only one dark corridor leading to the financial cancer system we face today. Its NSC branch rooted in Harvard’s graduate apparatus of ‘political science’ over decades is still dominated by the Russia-hating Zbigniew Brzezinski. Undergirded by the more substantial ‘free market’ worship dominating graduate schools everywhere up to US presidential appointees, all agents are propelled by big corporate and bank money power which they all worship. This ultimate money power explicitly and bilaterally seeks ‘full spectrum dominance’ of the world, as in the 2000 project for a New American Century signed by US leaders and advisers across parties. Its dark vision was then followed into 9-11 and the 9-11 Wars.
9-11 itself was corridors covered by darkness in how it happened. The first question of forensic justice, cui bon (who benefits?), remains publicly silenced. The official conspiracy theory of the World Trade Center buildings melting and collapsing into their own footprints violated the laws of physics at every step, beginning with the blamed Arabs with box-cutters and no remains. The US secret state is so covered in dark hidden corners that we can only predict in principle what will happen next – for recent example, the fully-armed ISIS killing machine springing onto the stage out of nowhere mass murdering everywhere it can, but somehow never touches Israel.
But a cautionary word. The deep global game-changers here are institutional moves at the level of sweeping trade treaties and thousands of new bureaucratic laws and regulations. They silently replace sovereign government and democratically legislated policies and laws everywhere “to compete in the global market”, with few observing that they are massive corporate-lawyer fiats multiplying protections of transnational business profits as their single unifying objective. They too are secret in negotiations, corporate lobby construction, thousands of pages of prescriptions, and closed tribunals punishing states which disobey. It is hard to see where the dark financial global coup d’etat stops.
Could you step us through a paradigm case of this financcial cancer system’ at work and how progressive voices fail to see its meaning?
The recently released Oxfam Davos Report (January 16) is a perfect example because it clearly succeeds in informing us of the escalating extremes of inequality which this system has produced – a fact on which now everyone agrees. The first essential fact it identifies reports from global business statistics that 62 individuals now own more wealth than 50% of the world’s population. More shockingly, the second essential fact reported is that this share of wealth by half the world’s people has collapsed by over 40% in the last five years.
Yet even in this report the big lie continues that “the world has made great progress in tackling world poverty” and that “extreme poverty has been halved since 1990”. The near automatic assumption that the poor are being “lifted out of poverty in greater numbers” thus persists even though the business evidence itself shows that, in fact, the poorer half of humanity has lost 42% of their wealth in just the last few years. What does this mean for “trickle-down theory”, “global competition nets more wealth for all”, and “Parteo optimal markets”? It means that they are all delusionary. The World Bank and other figures purporting to show great gains for the poor are based on income gains of less than a cup of coffee a day – typically of emigrants forced into big polluted cities who formerly had at least a family home, clean air and green surroundings.
Yet observe that throughout the revolutionary redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich, the magic of the market and globalization are proclaimed as “enhanced competition”, “liberalized de-regulation”, “‘more labour flexibility”, “reduced welfare costs” and “austerity programs to correct excesses”. In fact beneath the pervasive propaganda conditioning citizens to believe in the money shell game devouring the world, the poorer half of humanity has been deprived of one trillion dollars of wealth in five years while the 62 richest people have gained almost twice as much for themselves by the operations of this system.
But the end is not yet. Other figures in the Davos Report show that a further $760 billion flowing to non-producing investors has been gained by transnational tax evasion with impunity across the world. This is another revolutionary turn of ‘globalization’ to enrich the richest while doubling down on deprivation of the poor. Yet at the same time, it strips the funding of public sectors and institutions which have evolved to serve the common life interest of societies outside the global market. Governments which could once protect the deprived at all levels of life organization are now widely bankrupted or debt enslaved along with most citizens. Who has reported any of this?
In consequence, the world slips into deeper recession from the collapse of demand at the public and majority levels as the poorest half’s share of wealth is almost halved and the share of the richest is more than doubled for accumulation. But this cause of the Great Recession is ignored by governments and international policy meetings as if it did not exist.
As these and other facts show, borderless and de-regulated corporate globalization is eating the world alive. That is why these facts are never reported by the mass media or politicians. It is why claimed actions to stop the world bleeding never face the system disorder causing them. It is why even concerned organizations continue to repeat falsehoods as if they were true. Once again like a cancer system at the macro level, this exponentially multiplying private money-sequence system has no committed life functions but to feed on life and life conditions to grow itself. But what progressive journal or even book connects all of these dots?
Can there be any resolution to the fragmentation and paralysis of unifying vision?
Our problem now is that is not even the informed and the progressive join the dots and realise the meaning of their own senses and the rising evidence. As with Oxfam, they pre-consciously deny the collapsing position of the majority of humankind by repeating the lies of the ruling doctrine like ‘progress in eliminating poverty’ and ‘halving of absolute destitution’.
Nowhere is the criterion of human needs across cultures identified. Nowhere are the truly ‘changed rules of the game’ specified and shown as cause of the systemic catastrophes for humanity and planetary life support systems. Nowhere do we see a policy-structure change spelled out that connects across crises. Yet everywhere the diagnosis and tracking of financial- ization can detect and show the CSC drivers of world society today.
Resolution requires recognition of the ultimately regulating principle of humanity’s social evolution that moves underneath technological development to what it is for and the basic institutional bases to rule out the great blind alleys of post-1900 social evolution such as state Stalinism and global financialization. The underlying pattern of progress is now lost in superstructural debates, but is control of currency and credit by public-bank authority linked to defined life standards of investment and production to protect human beings and their shared life support systems. History shows this underlying pattern of progress in varying degrees such as the Scandinavian countries and the old Yugoslavia, but a conscious life code has been lacking at the society-wide level. This missing link is a life-coherent collective value system translated into self-evident principles of how to live as a society beyond individual choices.
I leave this ultimate issue and its challenges to our next discussion.
John McMurtry is University Professor Emeritus at the University of Guelph and elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. His work has been translated from Latin America to Japan, and he is the author/editor of UNESCO’s three-volume Philosophy and World Problems, as well as more recently, The Cancer Stage of Capitalism; From Crisis to Cure.