Date: Sat, 22 Nov 97 15:59:33 CST
From: Workers World <>
Organization: WW Publishers
Subject: Signs of slippage for U.S. ruling class
Article: 22540

Quest for domination falters: Signs of slippage for the U.S. ruling class

By Fred Goldstein, Workers World, 27 November 1997

Whatever the outcome of the Iraq crisis, it has shown that the U.S. ruling class is beginning to lose control of events. This loss of control will bring more and more openings for resistance to its unchallenged domination at home and abroad.

With the collapse of the USSR, the bosses and bankers and the Pentagon looked forward to an era of total control over world developments. And indeed, for a brief period after the Gulf War, events seemed to feed this illusion.

The United States took over the struggle to dismember Yugoslavia. It sent troops to Haiti to secure the counter- revolution. It engineered the expansion of NATO to the East.

The Fortune 500 intensified a campaign of ruthless downsizing and union busting in the 1990s that was even more severe than that of the Reagan era. Workers fought valiant defensive battles, but could not seem to stop the juggernaut.

Above all, the capitalist expansion seemed to go ahead without a hitch. The stock market kept soaring. There was talk of a new economy that was no longer subject to the business cycle and the contradictions of capitalism.


Up until three months ago, the U.S. ruling class seemed to be in absolute control of events and its regime was moving forward on autopilot. But then came the United Parcel Service strike.

The UPS strike put a sudden end to a 20-year string of victories over the labor movement. It brought a $20-billion multinational corporate giant to its knees via the old- fashioned method of class struggle. And it revealed massive support among the working class for a battle against part- time, low-pay exploitation.

The capitalist media were stunned by the mass support for the strike. They had to back away from their customary slanderous anti-labor propaganda.

The bosses and the Clinton administration were caught by surprise in the face of rank-and-file solidarity and militancy, a determined Teamster leadership, and the entire AFL-CIO closing ranks behind the strike. Despite cries for Taft-Hartley intervention against the union, Washington could not stop the struggle, or even divert it into some rotten compromise.

The working class in the United States suddenly got a glimpse of the bosses' enormous vulnerability when the workers are organized for struggle.


Just two months later, Washington and Wall Street got their second jolt with the global crash of the stock markets, including a massive drop in the New York Stock Exchange.

Since the collapse of the USSR, every Wall Street brokerage house and investment-banking outfit has been touting international stocks and technology stocks. The Asian tigers were the stars, but there were also Latin American and Russian stocks.

Millions of Asian and Latin American workers—low-paid women especially, and even children—were being brought into the sphere of direct capitalist exploitation. It seemed as if the profits would flow in indefinitely. Bank loans were to be had for the asking.

Then came the crash of the Hong Kong stock market and the ensuing global crisis. Financial officials from Alan Greenspan on down held their breath and conspired to put on a good face during the crisis.

The markets recovered temporarily. But the economic rot underneath the crisis shows no sign of reversing.

Suddenly the fundamental contradiction of capitalism—the crisis of overproduction—showed itself.

Everything from automobiles to microchips, chemicals, paper, buildings, etc., was in oversupply.

Factories shut down. Projects were halted. Tens of thousands of workers were laid off.

The International Monetary Fund had to bail out Thailand and Indonesia.

And the crisis is spreading to Japan, which is still the dominant imperialist power and the financial underwriter of much of East Asia.

What is happening in Asia shows that no amount of financial manipulation can give the ruling class control over the irrational economic forces of the profit system. The vulnerability of capitalism has suddenly been laid bare in Asia.

And this is only the prologue.


While the currency and financial crises are still bubbling, the Iraq crisis has suddenly shown another contradiction: between the Pentagon's enormous military prowess and U.S. imperialism's political isolation.

Seven years ago, Washington rounded up a coalition of 33 countries in the Gulf War to save imperialist oil profits in the Middle East. Today, the Clinton administration is barely able to get its most obsequious puppets such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia into its camp.

Washington has gone into an hysterical frenzy of threats and war preparation. It has assembled an armada of mass destruction against a country of 21 million people already suffering from the merciless sanctions imposed by the United Nations and prolonged at the command of the United States.

Why? Because 10 CIA-State Department scientists masquerading as U.S. arms inspectors—agents whose actual mission is to overthrow the government in Baghdad—were expelled from Iraq.

Washington's frenzied reaction has only emphasized its loss of control over the rest of the world. Saddam Hussein has succeeded in bringing the world's attention to the inhuman sanctions—and Washington could not stop him. Its hypocritical concern about supposed Iraqi biological weapons cannot cover up its real imperialist motives—and therefore cannot overcome its isolation.

Of the approximately 1 trillion barrels of proven oil reserves on Earth, Iraq has 100 billion. That is one-tenth of the world's reserves. Iran has 89 billion barrels and Libya 22 billion—and they are the two other countries in the region that are demonized by Washington.

The Gulf War was all about the profits from Iraq's oil.

In the past seven years the U.S. government has shown its willingness to kill 1.4 million Iraqis through sanctions in an attempt to overthrow the Hussein government and turn Iraq into a U.S. protectorate, like Saudi Arabia. The Arab masses know it. And their governments are afraid to become complicit with Washington because of the masses' wrath.

Whether the United States prevails militarily in this crisis or backs down or some compromise is found, in the long run the most important aspect to emerge is Washington's isolation—its political vulnerability to a strong challenge that has the support of the oppressed.

The struggle for absolute U.S. domination worldwide has deepened the antagonisms among the imperialist powers, with the French imperialists leading the opposition. It's true that Washington's sanctions against Iran, Libya, Nigeria— and of course the Helms-Burton Act extending the criminal blockade against Cuba—have hurt the targeted countries. But by trying to force its imperialist rivals to forgo business and honor the sanctions, the United States has ultimately weakened its alliances.

In its attempts to reassert control, Washington will resort to desperate measures.

The mobilization of the two aircraft-carrier forces in the Gulf is one example. The vicious attack on the labor movement by disqualifying Teamsters President Ron Carey from re-election is another. The attempt to bail out Indonesia and Thailand by forcing harsh austerity measures on the masses is another.

But these attempts will prove futile and are only now beginning to breed a new resistance.

In the United States, the attack on the leader of the most important strike in 20 years will arouse worker anger. The defeat of fast track showed the labor movement's new political influence and is a source of great frustration to the big corporations. There is a growing movement of young people in solidarity with labor and against sweatshops.

The Million Woman March by African American women workers was a dramatic and unexpected manifestation of this new resistance.

Demonstrations to protest U.S. aggression against Iraq took place in 15 U.S. cities. A massive meeting in solidarity with Leonard Peltier in San Francisco gave a great boost to the Native movement.

An International Tribunal to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal is set for Philadelphia. A major national protest to demand freedom for political prisoners, Jericho '98, is being organized for the spring—when there will also be protests to mark the 100th anniversary of the Spanish-American War and the start of U.S. imperialism with the colonization of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines.

All in all, the past three months provide signs that the post-Soviet era of total domination by the U.S. ruling class has reached its limits. The enemy's grip is loosening. It is time to build a new, united, independent left movement to further pry that grip open through struggle and protest.