OUR EMPIRE; A Summary.
(2 pages; there is also a 27 page summary account.)
The rich few in the world are getting most of the world's wealth and resources. The corporate super rich, about 1% of people in rich countries, get most, but the one billion ordinary people living in rich countries are also getting far more than their fair share, mostly through their well stocked supermarkets and petrol stations.
Most of the world's people
do not get anything like a fair share of the world's resources. Their country's resources are
mostly delivered to rich people far away, their countries develop economies
which produce for the benefit of rich people far away, and they work for very
low wages in plantations and factories mostly for the benefit of people far
This is because conventional development is “growth and trickle down”; i.e., develop those things the few with capital think will maximise their global profits, yielding most benefit to them, and in time benefit will trickle down to the masses. If no corporation thinks it can maxinmise profits in your country, then you get no development.
The people would be much better served if they could put their labour and land into developing local firms and farms that would directly and immediately produce to meet their own needs. This is the core criticism of the conventional approach to development; conventional development makes Third World people work mostly for the benefit of others when there is a far better way. (For the detail see Third World Development.)
These unjust arrangements are kept in place mainly by the normal functioning of the global economic system, A market economy forces people to accept work in the plantations and it automatically delivers most resources and wealth to the rich…because they can pay most for things.
But in addition rich countries put a great deal of effort into maintaining and extending the arrangements whereby they make sure they get most of the world’s resources and markets, and that only development that suits them takes place in the Third World. “Foreign policy” is largely about securing their “national interests”. At the less vicious end of the range is aiding governments that will rule as they wish, and imposing trade agreements and development strategies they want via agencies such as the World Trade Organisation, the World Bank and the IMF. The “Structural Adjustment Packages” inflicted on poor countries force them to practise the kind of development that suits the rich countries, and explicitly prevent them from devoting their productive capacity to development that would most directly benefit their people.
At the nasty end of the scale are actions such as supporting dictators, installing governments that will do what rich countries want, tipping out those that will not, assassinating, and carrying out massive military invasions. Rich countries have a long and detailed history of assisting Third World regimes willing to force their people to comply with development policies that benefit the rich world. (For an indication of the huge documentation see OUR EMPIRE; Collected Documents.)
Ideological factors are crucial in maintaining the empire.
- Most people in rich countries do not know they have and benefit from an empire which involves extreme injustice and brutality…or do not care.
- Economic theory, especially "development" theory, gives the impression that capitalist development is the only possible form of development; it is a powerful ideological force legitimising the global economic system that enriches the rich and deprives the majority, and excluding any alternative from consideration.
- Governments, media and corporations go to much effort to reinforce the general assumption that rich nations do not exploit an empire -- by never drawing attention to the issues.
- The stupification of rich world publics via TV, sport, consumerism etc.
ensures that the existence and functioning of the empire never gets on the public agenda.