Strakon Lights Up, No. 76

The "anti-capitalist" irony


I'm fuming at Minitrue again. Both the New York Times and Time Warner's CNN, in their coverage of the disturbances in Prague, have repeatedly and flatly referred to "anti-capitalist" protests. There's some truth there, but this is a case where failing to tell the whole truth amounts to lying. Neither the Times nor CNN, in any story I've encountered, has seen fit to mention how ironic it is that both of the entities principally targeted by the protesters — the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank — are government institutions. Whether the entities are best described as socialist or fascist is debatable, but one thing is certain: they are not capitalist institutions.

Educated people who keep up on public affairs may have difficulty remembering what the two arcane institutions do and how they differ, but they won't get much help even on those basics from the Times or CNN. At a time when most college students puzzle over who Columbus was and can't place the War Between the States within fifty years, Minitrue's apparent determination to preserve the arcanum shrouding the IMF and World Bank is not just peculiar; it's thought-provoking.

Let's proceed to the horse's mouth. According to its Website, the World Bank "consists of five closely associated institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), International Development Association (IDA), International Finance Corporation (IFC), Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID)."

"The world's largest source of development assistance," the Bank "is owned by more than 180 member countries whose views and interests are represented by a Board of Governors and a Washington-based Board of Directors. Member countries are shareholders who carry ultimate decision-making power in the World Bank." To me, that certainly sounds like a government institution — of the intergovernmental variety.

After identifying an institution's origin and nature, the next question one usually asks is: Where does it get its money? Like the U.S. regime itself, the World Bank raises money both from the capital market — thereby distorting that market and subjecting itself to de facto overlordship by the privileged "private" financial institutions of the world ruling class — and from the citizens of member states, in the ways governments always raise money from their citizens: through force or fraud. The Website indicates that taxpayers fund about a fourth of total World Bank lending, which portion is administered through the Bank's International Development Association.


The International Monetary Fund is "a cooperative institution that 182 countries have voluntarily joined because they see the advantage of consulting with one another in this forum to maintain a stable system of buying and selling their currencies so that payments in foreign money can take place between countries smoothly and without delay," according to David D. Driscoll, writing on the IMF Website. "... The IMF lends money to members having trouble meeting financial obligations to other members, but only on condition that they undertake economic reforms to eliminate these difficulties for their own good and that of the entire membership."

Driscoll says the IMF restricts itself to giving advice, instead of orders, to its member governments — such as urging them "to make the best use of scarce resources by refraining from unproductive military expenditures or by spending more money on health and education." In passing, I note the socialist premise there: health and education services are presumed to be not market enterprises but government programs.

The Fund's 182 members, Driscoll writes, "have given the IMF some authority over their payments policies because these policies are of paramount importance to the flow of money between nations and because experience has confirmed that without a global monitoring agency the modern system of payments in foreign currency simply does not work." That all operates on a purely voluntary, objective basis, no doubt, owing nothing to the overall political-economic-military status of the U.S. regime in the world. But again I digress into analysis, when all I sought to demonstrate was that the IMF was a government, not a capitalist, entity.

The IMF seems to get less of its money from the capital market than does the World Bank, though it does maintain a line of credit "with a number of governments and banks throughout the world." Mostly, though, it's socialist rather than fascist in its financing: "On joining the IMF, each member country contributes a certain sum of money called a quota subscription, as a sort of credit union deposit," Driscoll writes. That is to say, each member country's taxpayers  are obliged to contribute. And the more a member country can force its taxpayers to contribute, the greater that country's voting power in the IMF. "The United States, with the world's largest economy, contributes most to the IMF, providing about 18 percent of total quotas (about $35 billion)," according to Driscoll. Naturally.


Both the World Bank and the IMF emerged from the Bretton Woods conference in 1944, where planners of the Western Allies, looking ahead to victory in World War II, sought to establish machinery the United States could use to more easily take over the reins of world financial imperialism from Britain, now bankrupt, totally dependent on the United States, and soon to be wholly stripped of empire. Remarkably, the Council on Foreign Relations, assisted by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, began laying the groundwork of both the IMF and the World Bank in 1939, according to ruling-class analyst G. William Domhoff in The Powers That Be.  From that we learn, I suppose, that it's never too early to start planning imperial expansion. You almost get the feeling that, by the time the bombs started falling on Pearl Harbor, the folks on the upper floors of Rockefeller Center had already put their hands over their ears.

When anyone says "Rockefeller," most people think "capitalist," and that's the most fume-provoking aspect of all. The principal targets of the Prague demonstrators are not capitalist in nature; in fact they are anti-capitalist; but at the same time the demonstrators — at least the vast majority of Reds, totalitarian Greens, and false anarchists among them — would unquestionably describe themselves as anti-capitalist, too. They would claim that the IMF and World Bank, even if they are government institutions, exist to serve world "capitalism," also known as "free trade" and "globalization." In fact, it's an old Marxist tenet that the state exists to prop up "capitalism"; that's why under Marxism the state, as is well known, always withers away.

By folding cooptable Red Guards into itself, the ruling class, dominated by the Dark Suits, has undercut much of its potential opposition — people who are highly educated, highly vocal, highly networked, and highly influential. The Prague protests are a good illustration of what the ruling class has done to many of those on the Left whom it hasn't  coopted, either because they're uncooptable or not worth coopting. It has mystified them.

After the great capitalists turned fascist, they knew better than to ever adopt the term "fascist," just as the classical liberals who turned socialist knew better than to adopt the term "socialist." (As a matter of historical fact, the term "fascist" didn't yet exist when big capitalists started to betray capitalism in an organized, self-conscious way.) The great mystification rests on those lies and impersonations, repeated and reinforced a million times a day.

Socialists ("liberals") actually do fascists a favor when they label them laissez-faire capitalists. It helps preserve the hopelessly confused, inchoate categories our rulers depend on, and it also keeps the tiny band of true laissez-faire capitalists completely off the radar screen. Now after decades of miseducation by the state schools and propagandizing by the established media, those who smell something rotten in the IMF and World Bank have no category, no intellectual tool, no ideology appropriate for authentic resistance against oppression and injustice. And, by gum, that goes for any "anarchist," as well, who opposes the right of property and the right to trade. In effect, the uncooptable have  been coopted, in an odd way: any established ideology they can attach themselves to always turns out to be just another intellectual tentacle extended from the ruling class. "Anti-capitalist"? The ruling class already has that covered.

Libertarians who have struggled over the past thirty years to provide and promote an ideology appropriate for authentic resistance ought to look closely — if they desire a succinct progress report — at the anti-NWO protests in Seattle, Washington, and Prague as portrayed by the established media. Sometimes unreality can serve as a reality check.

September 27, 2000

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The Powers That Be: Processes of Ruling-Class Domination in America  (New York: Vintage, 1979), p. 101-07. [Back to text.]