Editorial — 31 July 2015
Capitalism’s adjustments

During the 1960s-80s Milton Friedman was regarded by many academics, politicians and world leaders as the most important post-World War II economist. Friedman was Chief Economic Advisor to Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Menachem Begin. He also went on the record advising the Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet.

It is far from surprising that more and more commentators have realized in recent years that it was Friedman’s ideology and advocacy of free enterprise, zero governmental intervention, avoidance of regulation, and privatization that has led to the current financial turmoil. It was Milton Friedman’s philosophy that also contributed to the transformation of the West into a service economy.

But Friedman wasn’t just an economist: he was also a devout Zionist and a very proud Jew. Friedman was interested in the role of the Jews in world finance and politics.

– pg. 111, THE WANDERING WHO? A Study of Jewish Identity Politics, by Gilad Atzmon, Zero Books, 2011

The transformation of the West into a service economy driven by relentless greed, a process that followed Friedman’s economic precepts, is now proving to be a disaster. It means poverty and global depression. It is translated into alienation from labor and productivity.

– pg. 119, ibid.

The original theorists of communism and scientific socialism, Marx and Engels, thought that revolutionary change, where workers would take over the means of production, would first occur in the industrialized countries of Europe, where laissez-faire capitalism was at its most cruel, rapacious and contradictory in the latter part of the nineteenth century.

Instead, the first communist revolution took place in 1917 in Russia, which was an agrarian, almost feudal society which was a combination of Eastern European and Asian in geography. A revolution had begun in 1910 in Mexico, but it was not a communist revolution. After the ideas of the Russian Revolution spread to the Western Hemisphere, the Mexican Revolution clearly took on socialist and communist aspects in the 1920s.

The world war which began in 1939 featured industrialized capitalist economies on both sides. On the so-called Allied side were Great Britain, France, and later the United States of America. On the so-called Axis side were Germany, Italy, and Japan. After the Russian Revolution, communist political movements and parties had risen in all these countries, but their capitalist power structures had made adjustments in order to counter the communist threat. In 1891 Pope Leo XIII had written a papal encyclical – Rerum Novarum, calling on the capitalists to become concerned and compassionate, and to improve the living conditions of their workers. The capitalists made concessions to the trade and labor unions which were representing the workers, and capitalism survived in all the countries which led the opposing sides, Allied and Axis, in World War II.

The next significant country to go communist was China in 1949. Again, the Chinese economy, like Russia’s in 1917, was an agrarian, almost feudal one, and China was definitely Asian instead of European. The point is that the traditional capitalist economies in Europe and the United States, where Marx, Engels, and some scholars had expected communism to thrive, had made enough adjustments to survive.

In our part of the world, Cuba went communist in 1959, and when the most powerful country in the Western Hemisphere, the United States, felt that Salvador Allende’s democratic, socialist government in Chile was too close to being or becoming communist, the Americans unleashed General Augusto Pinochet upon him in 1973.

When two movements led by young university graduates arose in Belize in 1969, these movements being the United Black Association for Development (UBAD) and the People’s Action Committee (PAC), the capitalist power structure here considered these movements to be communist-inspired, especially PAC. But between October of 1969 and January of 1970, there had actually been a coalition between UBAD and PAC, so the communist brush daubed UBAD as well, although the permanent charge against UBAD became racism.

As the years went by, the capitalist power structure in Belize absorbed the leaders of UBAD and PAC. The UBAD president became the publisher of Belize’s leading newspaper. One of the two attorney PAC leaders actually became Prime Minister of Belize between 1998 and 2008, at which point it became clear that he had given up his 1969 core beliefs. The other PAC leader became a PUP Cabinet Minister between 1979 and 1984, but after the PUP’s crushing defeat in the 1984 general election, he departed from electoral politics to work full time in an activist think tank called the Society for the Promotion of Education and Research (SPEAR). He later migrated to Cuba, did a doctoral dissertation in London, and wrote several texts. The point is that in Belize, capitalism undoubtedly triumphed.

The rap against laissez-faire capitalism was always that too few people accumulated too much, while too many human beings suffered from poverty, ignorance, and disease. In Belize City, the most cruel aspect of poverty is hunger. Over the past weekend, there were three events which essentially addressed this hunger in certain city neighborhoods. On Saturday on Wagner’s Lane in Southside Belize City, the Days of Healing group, led by Perry “Sticks” Smith, held its 27th Day of Healing, an event which featured free food, games, and entertainment. On Sunday, Police Superintendent Chester Williams and consultant Douglas Hyde, along with counselors Dianne Finnegan and Annie Palacio, sponsored an event for the Mayflower Street Southside neighborhood which featured free food and drinks, and games. Early that Sunday morning, Dara Robinson’s Ride For Hunger event had set out from Belize City to raise funds for Dara’s feeding program for Belize City children, and this year’s ride was a great success.

All the three weekend events were successful. In a certain sense, they represent attempts by Belize’s capitalist power structure to share some of their food with the poor. Dara’s program is a bit different from the other two, because it has been more self-help in nature, but it also requires and benefits from corporate support.

Capitalism survived in the world and essentially conquered communism, at least temporarily in 1989, because capitalism has been a dynamic philosophy which made some adjustments and concessions. In Guatemala, the most unabashedly capitalist and pro-United States economy in Central America, capitalism made some adjustments and concessions to the Guatemalan masses between 1944 and 1954, but these adjustments and concessions were reversed after Jacobo Arbenz was overthrown by a CIA-sponsored coup in 1954.

Guatemala’s capitalism then again became brutal and military, in fact more so, hence the Guatemalan civil war which claimed more than 200,000 lives, mostly Indigenous ones, between 1960 and 1996.

Anything in Belize which protects and projects the capitalist power structure here, is to Guatemala’s benefit. That is why this newspaper rejected the platform of the United Democratic Party (UDP) at its foundation in 1973. The UDP platform in 1973 was neoliberal, and designed to dovetail with the philosophy of the Guatemalan ruling classes. This was as Washington wanted it. This was in fulfillment of Bethuel Webster’s Seventeen Proposals of 1968.

For sure, today’s UDP has changed, has moved in a social welfare direction, since its neoliberal birth 42 years ago. Meanwhile, the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) has moved in the opposite direction since the mixed-economy days of Rt. Hon. George Price in the 1970s. Today’s PUP is single-mindedly “foreign direct investment.” This is how it is now.

One of the reasons Washington wants Belize to be absorbed by Guatemala is that the United States does not want any socio-economic experiments to occur in Belize which might infect the Petén, Puerto Barrios and Lake Izabal regions with any progressive, populist thinking. The Organization of American States (OAS) propaganda is designed to make Guatemala appear as harmless and as palatable as possible for Belizean consumption. We ain’t buying it. We know the post-Arbenz history across there, and it’s nothing nice. Check stats.

Power to the people. Remember Danny. Fight for Belize.

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