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<nettime> So much for communism....
Ivo Skoric on Sat, 25 Jun 2005 00:27:15 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> So much for communism....


What exactly is communism today? 
Is it saying no to European Constitution, as French communists did? 
Originally, communists were internationalists, they wanted workers of 
the world to unite. Today they fear workers from other countries will 
take their jobs.
Although, it is fair to say that the internationalist element was a 
part of communism only in its idealist phase. Once the avantgarde 
settled and started running a state, they usually adopted militant 
isolationism. Each communist state looked like North Korea in its 
beginnings.
Foreign investments by definition were then looked upon as a 
conspiracy of the burgeoise governments outside to overthrow the 
communist party leadership. In other words, if Exxon or Mobile (which 
at that time were not merged yet) offered to buy a Chinese state oil 
company during the so called cultural revolution in the sixties, they 
would be flatly rejected by Mao's aparatchiks as a national security 
threat.
As communists believe in dialectic thought, which enables them to say 
and believe in one thing, while actually doing and believing in an 
entirely opposite, now the situation is reversed. China's state oil 
company CNOOC is offering to buy one of US oil giants, Unocal. The 
economic parameters are quite clear: most of Unocal's business is in 
South-East Asia, so it is attractive to Chinese. And they are ready 
to offer $18.9B for Unocal, compared to $16.4B offered by Chevron, so 
if the free market principles are upheld, Unocal shareholders would 
rather have CNOOC as a buyer.
The US is not a communist country. It is built as, on and for the 
free market. Yet a couple of Republican congressmen already act as a 
bunch of communist apparatchiks, raising the question of national 
security around the sale of Unocal to CNOOC.
In another aspect of it, the Supreme Court just decided in a close 
5:4 vote to allow a large real estate developer to resettle dozens of 
homeowners in New London, CT, to build a more tax-revenue producing 
mall instead. It seems to me that decision is closer to upholding 
Stalin's decrees on kolhoz collectives, than the 5th amendement of 
the US Constitution. Now, if city planners, anywhere in the U.S., 
decide that the city would make more money in tax revenues if it 
builds a Wal-Mart in place of privately owned middle-class 
residential properties, they can declare eminent domain, condemn the 
homes and buldozze them over. Well, that's exactly the power they had 
under communist planned development.
Former Yugoslavia is full of New Londons, small towns that lost 
population steadily to big urban centers in their vicinity. At some 
point local aparatchiks would decide to build a huge factory there, 
hoping to reverse the trend, taking the land away from poor fellows 
who happened to live at the location where they wanted to place the 
factory. It did not work. For educative purposes, maybe someone 
should organize a tour of those rusting behemoths of the late 
communist chutzpah, which were never paid back, since they are still 
there.
On a funnier note, while some in U.S. government look at U.S.-China 
trade relations with increased suspicion, The Retail Republic of Wal-
Mart is China's eight-largest trading partner, ahead of smaller 
economies like Russia, Canada, or Australia. 
The important thing that distinguishes a communist state from a 
communist movement is the vast security apparatus. Because communist 
state is in fact a large monopoly in which the communist party 
central committee plays the role of the board of directors of the 
corporation-state, and since there is no self-regulation of the 
market, there is need for more organized control. I don't know any 
communist country that is or was not over-invested in security. 
Military and police play a key political role in communist societies. 
They are not there just when you need them. They are on scene all the 
time. They are pillars of the moral values embedded in the society 
(often portrayed as liberators and revloutionaries). And they gobble 
up most of the country's budget.
With that awesome financial resources they put up spectacular public 
display, attracting youth to join the ranks. While foot soldiers are 
drafted, the officer cadre is professional - often the best choice of 
employment for ambitious sons from poor families. But then, isn't it 
just the same in the U.S.? The apparent difference being the size of 
the forces in proportion to the size of society, due to all military 
being volunteer professionals in the U.S. Apart from that the U.S. 
has by far the largest military budget in the world, and makes up 
with technology for lack of conscripts, and having all force being 
made up from volunteers, the U.S. is compelled even more to invest in 
marketing the military life. Which than results in the nauseating 
presence of military ads during TV programs that potential recruitees 
would watch. Ads are fabulous. They emphasize everything any self-
respecting teenager wants to be. A breath-taking outdoors. X-treme 
sports. Tough challenges. Perfect looking guys. Bleeding edge 
technology. At least, that's how they looked before Iraq war. Iraq 
war put a heavy strain on the US type military (hi-tech, low-
manpower), because it is long-lasting. US needs more people to join 
military, so that the ones in Iraq can finally go home. Recruiters 
became more aggressive, calling kids at home, offerring gifts, even 
helping them cheat on tests, hiding police and/or mental health 
records: everything to get a new warm body to the front. Parents got 
upset. This is not Vietnam. Then, kids did not want to go to war, and 
their parents were ashamed of them. Today, kids are ashamed of their 
parents who don't want them to go to war. Times are changing, as the 
song would say. But the well financed military machine did not. The 
response to the new climate was prompt, and now we can see the whole 
new sets of ads that target parents. We don't see just young guys 
repelling from hovering helicopters and scaling cliffs. We see their 
fathers watching the war in Iraq on TV and reaching the enlightement 
about the need to send their children to protect liberty, democracy, 
peace, and what not in a far away place. That, plus college money, 
and $10,000 cash incentive to join Army National Guard - in time of 
economic crisis and rising unemployment - can anybody name a private 
sector employer who would give a $10k advance to a high-school 
graduate? - well, who needs draft then...
The entire communism/dictatorship - free-market/democracy 
polarization is just an illusion for TV consumption. There are big, 
wealthy nations with strong militaries, run by elites, and there are 
small, poor with weak militaries run by elites. Big countries can be 
poor, and small can be wealthy. And strength of military is 
irrelevant anyway because all world militaries together can't stand 
up to US military. Elites are more or less corrupt, but somehow 
always and everywhere on the top.

ivo 


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