Strakon Lights Up, No. 32

The education of a ruling-class analyst


My instincts were right, but Charley Reese wins the cigar.

In my April 8 column, "The useful idiots: Whom do they serve now?", I framed the Elian Gonzalez controversy in terms of ruling-class analysis, arguing that the senior Powers That Be were impatient to send Elian back to Castro, end the U.S. embargo, and start folding Cuba into the New World Order.

While researching the column, I operated under the assumption that Big Agriculture, especially Big Sugar, would resist the end of the embargo and thus come out as "pro-Elian," i.e., anti-deportation, in hopes of keeping U.S.-Cuban relations chilly. After all, divisions over policy can occur in the Higher Circles; players with seats at the Big Table share an interest in overall stability and other general aspects of permanent rule, but their particular material interests can and do differ.

Readers of my May 17 column, "Imagining the ruling class," will understand that I've had my eye on agro-fascist titan Archer Daniels Midland for several years. Though wounded by the big price-fixing case of 1993-98, ADM is still connected to leviathan (and to the political class that runs leviathan) by many thick, pulsing, sugar-laden, protein-rich blood vessels; and I thought ADM might be the leader of the anti-deportation, pro-embargo forces if such forces existed among the Circles. But I couldn't find any evidence of it.

However, while poking around the Net looking for the footprints of Big Sugar, I did discover that, as I wrote, "even Democratic Senator John Breaux of Louisiana, a state whose agricultural interests have much at stake in keeping Cuban sugar out of the United State, has come out for returning Elian to Castro." I was really impressed at how effectively Wall Street was enforcing its party line, even against the immediate material interests of its junior partners and low-level political servants.

Ha! "Even" John Breaux! Strakon, you naïf!

Charley Reese, in his column of April 23, shows that there's no "even" about it. Reese writes: "In the fall of 1995, ADM's chairman, Dwayne Andreas, met with Fidel Castro for dinner in New York. In July 1996, Andreas announced that he was going to Cuba to see Castro. He said he contemplated building a refinery in Cuba but would do it through a Spanish subsidiary because of the trade embargo.

"In 1997, a Spanish company invested $65 million in Cuba for a refinery for the production of alcohol from molasses. In October 1999, Martin Andreas, senior vice president, said ADM would consider constructing a vegetable-oil plant in Cuba if the market were open.

"Last January the Cuban government announced that it is moving toward consideration of a joint-venture type of relationship with ADM. In February, ADM announced plans for another trade exhibition in Havana in December."

Perhaps because of an editing blunder, Reese's column contains no mention of a prior trade exhibition in Cuba, but a major one did occur in January, sponsored in part by ADM Nutraceutical, a division of, well, you know. ("On Show in Cuba: Marvels of American Medicine," by David Gonzalez, New York Times, January 28, 2000)

It comes as no surprise, then, when Reese reveals links between ADM and the Elian-deportation movement. When the Red Grannies, as I call them, came to the United State to assure us that, once back in Castro's arms, Elian will have "everything he needs," they were hosted by the president of Barry University. "Dwayne Andreas," writes Reese, "is a large contributor to Barry University, and his wife is a graduate and is past chairman of the board of trustees."

Moreover, "Last October, Andrew Young, an ADM board member and member of the public-policy committee, was installed as president of the National Council of Churches, an old left front group, which has taken the lead in urging that Elian be returned to his father."

And that's not all. "Gregory Craig, the high-priced lawyer who suddenly materialized to represent Juan Gonzalez, who couldn't afford two seconds of Craig's time, is part of a law firm that also represents ADM. Craig is ostensibly being paid by the National Council of Churches."


As I say, my instincts were right — ADM was a player. But it was playing on the other team.

I had neglected the climate in which the fascist transnationals are operating nowadays. They're not interested in defending the American fortress against the outside world; they're interested in taking over the outside world. For its part, Big Ag isn't worried any more about keeping Cuban sugar out of the United State; it's champing at the bit to export  agricultural products to Cuba and, more generally, to do business there — business whose profitability will be guaranteed through sweetheart monopoly or oligopoly deals with Castro. If things go according to plan, "Cuban sugar" will become  Big Ag sugar. Shades of Batista and United Fruit! The NWO's "free trade," as opposed to the actual free trade we would support, always works so much better when the trading is with an openly dictatorial regime.

Subsidizing exports and managing global trade on behalf of politically privileged transnationals are what the Clintonian trade policy is all about, although the Clintonistas — at the moment — are trying to retain a relatively low profile on ending the Cuba embargo. (Bill and his comrades are so easy to Red-bait, you see.) The Clintonistas can stay in the background without causing their Wall Street sponsors to frown because a bunch of Republican legislators are more than willing to carry their water.

Tom Carter of the Washington Times writes, "Republican lawmakers from farm states say they have the votes in place to pass a bill permitting the sale of food and medicine to Cuba, marking the first legislative weakening of the embargo in 40 years....

"Introduced by Rep. George Nethercutt, Washington Republican, whose district includes a number of wheat growers, the anti-sanctions legislation would make it legal to sell food and medicine to nations facing U.S. economic sanctions, including Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Libya and Iraq.

"... Mr. Nethercutt said Cuba spends between $780 million and $1 billion a year on food. 'We'd like to get some of that,' he said."

Carter adds that "a total of 39 groups are backing the bill, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Association of Wheat Growers, the National Farmers Union and the National Food Processors Association. Corporate supporters include Archer Daniels Midland Co., ConAgra Inc., and Land O' Lakes Inc." ("Farm state GOP lawmakers eye easing sanctions," May 19)

Come to find out, ADM has openly opposed the embargo for some time — for "humanitarian" reasons, of course. According to a Bloomberg report of August 5, 1999, "Americans for Humanitarian Trade with Cuba, which advocates freeing sales of rice, wheat, and aspirin to the Caribbean island, includes Dwayne Andreas, chairman emeritus of Archer Daniels Midland Co., one of the world's largest grain and oilseed processors."

Rifts, divisions, and disagreement in the ruling class? Not this time. As Ronn Neff says, "It's always worse than you think."


One of the reasons ADM got into such trouble with the Clinton regime and stayed in trouble with it was the fact that, from 1991 to 1996, the company gave more than twice as much money to the Republicans than to the Democrats ($1.7 million vs. $800,000). The price-fixing case came to a head in 1996, right smack in the middle of the presidential contest between Bill Clinton and Bob Dole (R.-ADM).

Whom is ADM bankrolling this time around? George W. Bush says he still supports the Cuba embargo. As the election year grinds on, I'll check those FEC records and let you know.

May 27, 2000



Fifteen minutes after sending the above column to subscribers, I was reading Mark Tooley's article "The Growing Irrelevance of the NCC" in the June issue of Chronicles (p. 47) and came across a tasty nugget. Recounting the National Council of Churches' recent 50th-anniversary bash in Cleveland, Tooley says the attenders proceeded from a church service to a banquet, "where an encouraging message from Dwayne Andreas of Archer Daniels Midland awaited them. He is contributing $100,000 to the NCC." You bet he is. Dark Suits and Red Robes!

June 12, 2000

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