Reparations and Capitalism

 Reparations and CapitalismReparations

The World Conference on Racism held in Durban, South Africa, several years ago, not only raised the issue of Israel as an apartheid state, but also raised the issue of reparations for the colonialized world due to centuries of rape and plunder of the world’s masses by capitalism. Most of the arguments on this subject were first written by Karl Marx, over 130 years ago in “Capital”, Volume One, Part VIII, Chapter 31, (the) “Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist”.

This often-overlooked chapter is very important in today’s world.

Industrial Capitalism did not come into being due to the gradual primitive accumulation of capital, but rather the industrial revolution was fueled by the wealth plundered from the colonialized world in the name of Christianity. This is the historic material basis for modern racism as an ideology, which is used to justify the holocaust perpetuated upon the majority of the world during the period of the subjugation of the colonial world to European/United States capitalist imperialism.

Karl Marx was one of the first to oppose the colonial oppression of the world’s masses. He did not mince his words in, this chapter of Capital, he wrote:

The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement, and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black-skins, signalized the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production.  … The treatment of the aborigines was, naturally, most frightful in plantation-colonies destined for export trade only, such as the West Indies, and in rich and well-populated countries, such as Mexico and India, that were given over to plunder. But even in the colonies properly so called, the Christian character of primitive accumulation did not belie itself. Those sober virtuosi of Protestantism, the Puritans of New England, in 1703, by decrees of their assembly set a premium of £40 on every Indian scalp and every captured red-skin: in 1720 a premium of £100 on every scalp; in 1744, after Massachusetts-Bay had proclaimed a certain tribe as rebels, the following prices: for a male scalp of 12 years and upwards £100 (new currency), for a male prisoner £105, for women and children prisoners £50, for scalps of women and children £50. Some decades later, the colonial system took its revenge on the descendants of the pious pilgrim fathers, who had grown seditious in the meantime. At English instigation and for English pay they were tomahawked by red-skins. The British Parliament proclaimed bloodhounds and scalping as “means that God and Nature had given into its hand.” . . . If money … comes into the world with a congenital blood-stain on one cheek, capital comes dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt.

‘Sale of Negroes’

Recently a new factor has been added to the equation — “The Drug Trade”. In the 2001 article: War on Drugs Dirty Money Foundation of US Growth and Empire Size and Scope of Money Laundering by US Banks by James Petras, Professor of Sociology, Binghamton University, he explains that 500 Billion to a Trillion dollars gets added to world capitalist economy through “illegal means.” he concludes the article with the following:

The increasing polarization of the world is embedded in this organized system of criminal and corrupt financial transactions. While speculation and foreign debt payments play a role in undermining living standards in the crisis regions, the multi-trillion dollar money laundering and bank servicing of corrupt officials is a much more significant factor, sustaining Western prosperity, U.S. empire building and financial stability. The scale, scope and time frame of transfers and money laundering, the centrality of the biggest banking enterprises and the complicity of the governments, strongly suggests that the dynamics of growth and stagnation, empire and re-colonization are intimately related to a new form of capitalism built around pillage, criminality, corruption and complicity.  ‘This Goes Straight to the Top.’

An article written in Counterpunch titled, Race and the Drug War,  during the last election campaign, points out another factor of the “Drug War:”

. . . Domestically, the ‘drug war’ has always been a pretext for social control, going back to the racist application of drug laws against Chinese laborers in the recession of the 1870s when these workers we reviewed as competition for the dwindling number of jobs available. The main users, middle-class white men and women taking opium in liquid form as ‘tonics’, weren’t harassed. By 1887 the Chinese Exclusion Act allowed Chinese opium addicts to be arrested and deported. In the 1930s the racist head of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, Harry Anslinger, was renaming hemp as ‘marijuana’ to associate it with Mexican laborers and claiming that marijuana ‘can arouse in blacks and Hispanics a state of menacing fury or homicidal attack.’ By the 1950s Anslinger had pushed through the first mandatory drug sentences. As so often, Nixon was helpfully explicit in his private remarks. H.R.Haldeman recorded in his diary a briefing by the president in 1969,prior to launching of the war on drugs: ‘[Nixon] emphasized that you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to.’ So what was ‘the system’ duly devised? On June 19, 1986, Maryland University basketball star Len Bias died from an overdose of cocaine. As Dan Baum put it in his excellent Smoke and Mirrors, The War on Drugs and the Politics of Failure, ‘In life, Len Bias was a terrific basketball player. In death he became the Archduke Ferdinand of the Total War on Drugs.’ It was falsely reported that Bias had smoked crack cocaine the night before his death. In fact he had used powder cocaine and there was no link between this use and the failure of his heart, according to the coroner. Bias had signed with the Boston Celtics and amid Boston’s rage and grief Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill, a Boston rep, rushed into action. In early July he convened a meeting of the Democratic Party leadership: ‘Write me some goddamn legislation,’ he ordered. ‘All anybody in Boston is talking about is Len Bias. They want blood. If we move fast enough we can get out in front of the White House.’ In fact the White House was moving pretty fast. Among other things the DEA had been instructed to allow ABC News to accompany it on raids against crackhouses. ‘Crack is the hottest combat-reporting story to come along since the end of the Vietnam war,” the head of the New York office of the DEA exulted. All this fed into congressional frenzy to write tougher laws. House Majority Leader Jim Wright called drug abuse ‘a menace draining away our economy of some $230 billion this year, slowly rotting away the fabric of our society and seducing and killing our young.’ Not to be outdone, South Carolina Republican Thomas Arnett proclaimed that ‘drugs are a threat worse than nuclear warfare or any chemical warfare waged on any battlefield.’ The 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act was duly passed. It contained 29 new minimum mandatory sentences. Up until that time in the history of the Republic there had been only 56 mandatory minimum sentences. The new law had a death penalty provision for drug ‘king pins’ and prohibited parole for even minor possession offenses. But the chief focus of the bill was crack cocaine (mainly used in the inter-cities). Congress established a 100-to-1 sentencing ratio between possession of crack and powder cocaine (mainly used in the suburbs). Under this provision possession of five grams of crack carries a minimum five-year federal prison sentence. The same mandatory minimum is not reached for any amount of powder cocaine under 500 grams. This sentencing disproportion was based on faulty testimony that crack was 50 times as addictive as powdered coke. Congress then doubled this ratio as a so-called ‘violence penalty’.

For the world’s masses, from Capitalism’s beginning there has been nothing progressive about capitalism. From its bloody beginning capitalism has been a holocaust for humanity bringing war, drug aditiction, famine, pestilence and death throughout the world.

In today’s world—the aids epidemic; the many wars and bombings; the overproduction of food and simultaneous starvation of the world’s poor; and the destruction of the earth as a habitat for humanity—capitalism continues to demonstrate its inhuman bloody nature against humanity.

Based upon what Karl Marx explains in this chapter and the Petras addition to it, the amount due to be repaid based upon profits made from this plunder would be more than the total gross national product (GNP) of all of the imperialist states.  In reality, the costs for reparations by capitalism for its crimes against humanity, is so astronomical it is beyond human understanding.

Instead of being proven wrong, Marx is continuously being proven correct in his analysis of capitalism. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.

The very future of humanity is now at stake.

New Orleans Slave Auction Block
Old Slave Ship Photo: Demonstrating the Horror of the “Commercial Hunting of Black-Skins”

The Slave Ship Photos Courtesy of Mary Ratcliff, editor San Francisco Bay View