Getting Ready for World War III.
I was born in 1949 which makes me a Baby Boomer. The people born after World
War II between the years of 1946 through 1964 in the United States lived during
a time of expanding economic growth unmatched anywhere else in the world. In
his book Boomer Nation, Gillion divides these people into two groups. Gillion
calls those born between 1945 and 1957, Boomers. He uses the term Shadow Boomers
to describe those born between 1958 and 1964. My wife JeanneE, born in 1958,
is a Shadow Boomer. Early Boomers grew up with the civil rights struggle, anti-Vietnam
war protests, the draft, the Beatles, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, the Rolling
Stones, Woodstock, the invasion of Cambodia, first man on the moon, etc. Their
younger children may be in the Shadow Boomer group. The Boomers grew up in a
period within the United States when the expectation was that every year the
personal and family economic situation would improve along with the improved
fiscal condition of the nation. Every year better than the previous year. The
Boomers who worked hard all their lives are now beginning to retire and the
fiscal house of the United States is not in order to provide for them in their
senior years as was promised.
Harold Myerson, in "A Gentler Capitalism" (Washington Post Jan 4,
For the pervasive insecurity that is inextricably part of today's capitalism
has become the dominant fact of modern life...The new workplace...is a brave
new world of short-term employment and relationships, where experience is
not necessarily a virtue and institutional memory is sketchy at best...the
employer-provided benefits of the past 60 years are going the way of the dodo.
It is now common for corporations to renege on paying out promised pensions
and benefits. Corporations file for bankruptcy and the courts expunge them from
having to pay workers their long anticipated pensions. Corporations receive
court protection from having to make pension payments. The State picks up the
tab by making pension payments through the US Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
In other words, the people make up the shortfall by paying themselves. It is
not surprising that corporations prefer the federal government picking up the
pension tab. There are a huge number of baby Boomers with pensions, IRAs, TSAs
ready to start collecting on their investments, annuities and Social Security.
What great rewards corporations would accrue if these payouts were to simply
disappear? On June 16, 2006, the Houston Chronicle in an article entitled, "Delta
to Request End to Pilots' Pensions " stated,
In a letter to U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, that also was sent to other members
of Congress, Delta CEO Gerald Grinstein said Delta will ask that the pilots'
pension be terminated effective Sept. 2. UAL Corp.'s United Airlines, the
nation's No. 2 carrier, did the same thing when it was in bankruptcy protection.
The US Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation has in the past exhausted its entire
multi-billion dollar surplus as a result of big corporate bankruptcies.
Neo-liberalism requires that money be changed into commodities so that commodities
can be transformed into money with surplus value, i.e., profit. This exchange
produces capital for the owning class. Giving money to Boomers does nothing
for the production of surplus value. The capitalist prefers that pension and
Social Security funds be put to use anywhere other than in the retirees hands.
To the capitalist all that money is just sitting there waiting to be invested,
and re-invested. To neo-liberalism, a worker who is not creating surplus value
is unproductive. A worker who extracts funds from a pension is thus a burden.
So then, how to do away with pensions and Social Security?
Both the Chicago Tribune and the New York times in their May 11, 2005 editions
reported that a bankruptcy judge in Chicago ruled that United Airlines may turn
over its pension plans to the federal government. The court determined that
such a transfer was permissible in order to help the corporation exit from bankruptcy
protection. At the time this was the largest pension default in United States
history. United Airlines employees lost $3 billion in retirement benefits affecting
more than 134,000 workers. With the loss of pensions, Social Security becomes
even more important for the working class. It is no accident that Bush regime
tried to destroy Social Security. The capitalist mindset demands that all capital
must be continuously in flux making more capital. Should the process fail, the
working class is always called upon to make up for it through the sweat of their
labor. Those who create all the wealth always bail out those who exploit them.
Guaranteed security for the working class is anathema to the owning class. Exploitation
cannot take place where a social safety net exists. Manipulation of the working
class is more difficult when workers have options. Eliminate the social safety
net; what better way to avoid having to make the payouts than to bankrupt the
entire economic system? A profound depressing of the economy facilitates the
probability that pension payouts will not have to take place at all. In other
words, let the big meltdown happen so all obligations to the working class can
be expunged. Let the markets crash and let the cycle start over. This is the
"boom and bust" that is the signature of capitalism. The bust, as
Marx predicted, must take place as a result of capitalist contradictions. The
system reverts to salvage operations as the working class is destroyed. Anton
Pannekoek writes in "The theory of the collapse of capitalism" (1934)
The workers’ movement has not to expect a final catastrophe, but many
catastrophes, political — like wars, and economic — like the crises
which repeatedly break out, sometimes regularly, sometimes irregularly, but
which on the whole, with the growing size of capitalism, become more and more
In 2006, we see the continued devastation that capitalism brings. War is clearly
a necessary component of capitalist growth. 20th century wars have been imperialist
wars, mostly of choice. And the choices are constrained by the nature of surplus
value, i.e., profit. Capitalists seldom invest in war without capital gain in
mind. The military industrial complex and its corporate takeover of the State
must always make a profit. War does that. In the never-ending search for surplus
value, capitalist enterprise manufactures new markets that require new things,
and war is a huge market. Commodification continues until the ability to manufacture
most goods is exported, i.e., outsourced to the cheapest labor pool. What are
the unemployed and under-employed working class of then supposed to do? The
capitalist has the answer: manufacture wars that require billions, and even
trillions of dollars to execute and hire through an economic draft the cannon
fodder to execute it. What does it matter to the capitalist how much devastation
and collateral damage is created? The twentieth century offers many examples
of how insignificant the working class is to the ruling elite.
David Smith in "Markets are like 1987 crash" in the May 21, 2006
issue of Times Online writes,
We are very uncomfortable about predicting financial crises, but we cannot
help but see a certain similarity between the current economic and market
conditions and the environment that led to the stock-market crash of October
1987, said David Woo, head of global foreign-exchange strategy at Barclays
The U.S. public just keeps on borrowing money. It is easy to blame the consumer
for borrowing beyond their means. However, most consumers go into debt to buy
the stuff they do need. A high rate of consumer debt ad personal bankruptcy
is for medical expenses and college expenses. Most alarmingly, the United States
government continues handing out tax cuts to the rich while borrowing billions
overseas to finance its illegal war in Iraq and other attempts at imperialist
When George W. Bush says he is exporting democracy, he means he is imposing
neo-liberalism by brute force on countries rich in natural resources that neo-liberalism
needs to survive. This cowboy "let's just take it" mentality is failing
in Iraq. Michael Schwartz in "Neo-liberalism on crack: cities under siege
in Iraq" (Stony Brook University, June 1, 2006) writes,
Neo-liberal economic reforms have created the 21st Century slum city, with
its extensive shanty-towns, degraded public services, and hyper unemployment.
Small pockets of the privileged maintain a life style that resembles the ideal
of capitalist prosperity, but an increasing proportion are deprived of the
accoutrements of modern life: reliable electricity, clean water for drinking
and for bathing, a livable diet, a habitable dwelling, and a viable connection
to the economic life of the nation. In Iraq, even during the hellish combination
of Saddamist rule and UN sanctions, most Iraqis kept this connection, albeit
in constantly degrading circumstances. With the arrival of the Americans,
conditions in the cities turned more steeply downward. And with the rise of
the post-invasion war, they went into free fall.
And just who is going to pay the bill for the United States' cowboy diplomacy?
The working people of course. According to the doctrine of neo-liberalism, working
people who cannot cut it, who cannot come out on top in the economic survival
of the fittest deserve no assistance. The capitalist State, vis-à-vis
neo-liberalism, has no obligation to compensate for their failure. Working class
people are mere commodities in the capitalist process who can be tossed aside
when no longer capable of valorisation, that is, of making capital. Karl Marx
used the concept of valorisation in his work, Das Kapital. Marx describes it
as process where a worker creates more than the equivalent of his own labor
value, i.e., value added beyond the cost of labor.
John Bellamy Foster speaking on the new American view on empire as published
on the Guerilla Network News in an article entitled, "Naked Imperialism"
describes it thusly,
The causes are the waning of U.S. economic strength, coupled with the disappearance
of the Soviet Union, which left the United States unrivaled militarily. U.S.
military spending is more than twice its share of world output. Putting this
“comparative advantage” to work is the centerpiece in a grand
strategy of forging a “New American Century.” It means enhancing
U.S. control of strategic assets while depriving potential global and regional
competitors from controlling the same assets, thereby guaranteeing a long
period of U.S. global supremacy. But to do this the U.S. empire has to be
more aggressive and expansive, taking “preemptive” actions against
so-called “rogue states.” It also means that the United States
increasingly finds it necessary to brandish its nuclear might.
War in perpetuity is neo-liberalism gasping for survival. It is a gasping that
necessitates paying for such folly forever. Get ready as neo-liberalism leads
the world to a neo Great Depression followed by the next "great" restructuring
of global capitalism by way of World War III.
Jozef Hand-Boniakowski is co-editor and co-publisher of
Metaphoria along with his life partner
and wife, JeanneE. He is 30-year veteran retired teacher and a member of Veterans
For Peace. His writings have appeared in Metaphoria,
After Downing Street, Buzzflash,
Paine's Corner, Rense.com, Omni
Center, Rutland Herald, Times
Argus, and others.
Read from Looking Glass News
Capitalism and The Moral Poverty of Nations
Toward an Anti-Capitalist Liberation
does capitalism affect liberty?
of U.S. Economy Imminent
Capitalism Threatens Your Health
capitalism or a habitable planet - you can't have both