Neocolonialism is the practice of
using capitalism, globalization, and cultural forces to control a
country (usually former European colonies in Africa or Asia) in lieu of
direct military or political control. Such control can be economic,
cultural, or linguistic; by promoting one's own culture, language or
media in the colony, corporations embedded in that culture can then make
greater headway in opening the markets in those countries. Thus,
neocolonialism would be the end result of relatively benign business
interests leading to deleterious cultural effects.
'neocolonialism' was first coined by Kwame Nkrumah, the first
post-independence president of Ghana, and has been discussed by a number
of twentieth century scholars and philosophers, including Jean-Paul
Sartre and Noam Chomsky.
"Neocolonialism" is a term used by
post-colonial critics of developed countries' involvement in the
developing world. Writings within the theoretical framework of
neocolonialism argue that existing or past international economic
arrangements created by former colonial powers were or are used to
maintain control of their former colonies and dependencies after the
colonial independence movements of the post–World War II period. The
term neocolonialism can combine a critique of current actual colonialism
(where some states continue administrating foreign territories and
their populations in violation of United Nations resolutions) and a
critique of the involvement of modern capitalist businesses in nations
which were former colonies. Critics adherent to neocolonialism contend
that multinational corporations continue to exploit the resources of
post-colonial states, and that this economic control inherent to
neocolonialism is akin to the classical, European colonialism practiced
from the 16th to the 20th centuries. In broader usage, neocolonialism
may simply refer to the involvement of powerful countries in the affairs
of less powerful countries; this is especially relevant in modern Latin
America. In this sense, neocolonialism implies a form of contemporary
"economic imperialism": that powerful nations behave like colonial
powers of imperialism, and that this behavior is likened to colonialism
in a post-colonial world. Origins of the term: charges against former colonial powers
"As long as imperialism exists it will, by definition, exert its
domination over other countries. Today that domination is called
neocolonialism." — Che Guevara, Marxist revolutionary, 1965
Kwame Nkrumah, first president of Ghana, and one of the coiners of the term "neocolonialism", pictured on a Soviet stamp (1989).
term neocolonialism first saw widespread use, particularly in reference
to Africa, soon after the process of decolonization which followed a
struggle by many national independence movements in the colonies
following World War II. Upon gaining independence, some national leaders
and opposition groups argued that their countries were being subjected
to a new form of colonialism, waged by the former colonial powers and
other developed nations. Kwame Nkrumah, who in 1957 became leader of
newly independent Ghana, was one of the most notable figures to use the
term. A classical definition of neocolonialism is given in his
Neo-Colonialism, the Last Stage of Imperialism (1965). The work is
self-defined as an extension of Vladimir Lenin's Imperialism, the Last
Stage of Capitalism (1916), in which Lenin argues that 19th century
imperialism is predicated upon the needs of the capitalist system.
Nkrumah argues that "In place of colonialism as the main instrument of
imperialism we have today neo-colonialism. Neo-colonialism, like
colonialism, is an attempt to export the social conflicts of the
capitalist countries." He continues:
The result of
neo-colonialism is that foreign capital is used for the exploitation
rather than for the development of the less developed parts of the
world. Investment under neo-colonialism increases rather than decreases
the gap between the rich and the poor countries of the world. The
struggle against neo-colonialism is not aimed at excluding the capital
of the developed world from operating in less developed countries. It is
aimed at preventing the financial power of the developed countries
being used in such a way as to impoverish the less developed.
Pan-African and Non-Aligned movements
Initially the term was
popularised largely through the activities of scholars and leaders from
the newly independent states of Africa and the Pan-Africanist movement.
Many of these leaders came together with those of other post colonial
states at the Bandung Conference of 1955, leading to the formation of
the Non-Aligned Movement. The All-African Peoples' Conference (AAPC)
meetings of the late 1950s and early 1960s spread this critique of
makku- neocolonialism. Their Tunis conference of 1960 and Cairo
conference of 1961 specified their opposition to what they labeled
neocolonialism, singling out the French Community of independent states
organised by the former colonial power. In its four page Resolution on
Neocolonialism is cited as a landmark for having presented a
collectively arrived at definition of neocolonialism and a description
of its main features. Throughout the Cold War, the Non-Aligned Movement,
and organisations like the Organization of Solidarity with the People
of Asia, Africa and Latin America defined neocolonialism as a primary
collective enemy of these independent states.
neocolonialism also became popular with some national independence
movements while they were still waging anti-colonial armed struggle.
During the 1970s, in the Portuguese colonies of Mozambique and Angola
for example, the Marxist movements FRELIMO and MPLA, which were to
eventually assume power upon those nations' independence, denounced
neocolonialism as well as colonialism.
The term "paternalistic
neocolonialism" involves the belief held by a neo-colonial power that
their colonial subjects benefit from their occupation. Critics of
neocolonialism, arguing that this is both exploitive and racist, contend
this is merely a justification for continued political hegemony and
economic exploitation of past colonies, and that such justifications are
the modern reformulation of the civilizing mission concepts of the 19th
Françafrique Foreign mercenaries, like these United States and
British veterans training anti-insurgency troops in Sierra Leone, are
often accused of being instruments of Neocolonial powers. French
government minister Jacques Foccart was alleged to have used mercenaries
like Bob Denard to maintain friendly governments or overthrow
unfriendly governments in France's former colonies.
example used to define modern neocolonialism is Françafrique: a term
that refers to the continuing close relationship between France and some
leaders of its former African colonies. It was first used by president
of the Côte d'Ivoire Félix Houphouët-Boigny, who appears to have used it
in a positive sense, to refer to good relations between France and
Africa, but it was subsequently borrowed by critics of this close (and
they would say) unbalanced relationship. Jacques Foccart, who from 1960
was chief of staff for African matters for president Charles de Gaulle
(1958–69) and then Georges Pompidou (1969–1974), is claimed to be the
leading exponent of Françafrique. The term was coined by François-Xavier
Verschave as the title of his criticism of French policies in Africa:
La Françafrique, The longest Scandal of the Republic.
Mongo Beti, a writer in exile from Cameroon published Main basse sur le
Cameroun, autopsie d'une décolonisation ('Cruel hand on Cameroon,
autopsy of a decolonization'), a critical history of recent Cameroon,
which asserted that Cameroon and other colonies remained under French
control in all but name, and that the post-independence political elites
had actively fostered this continued dependence.
and others point to a forty-year post-independence relationship with
nations of the former African colonies, whereby French troops maintain
forces on the ground (often used by friendly African leaders to quell
revolts) and French corporations maintain monopolies on foreign
investment (usually in the form of extraction of natural resources).
French troops in Africa were (and it is argued, still are) often
involved in coups d'état resulting in a regime acting in the interests
of France but against its country's own interests.
closest to France (particularly during the Cold War) are presented in
this critique as agents of continued French control in Africa. Those
most often mentioned are the recently deceased Omar Bongo, former
president of Gabon, Félix Houphouët-Boigny, former president of Côte
d'Ivoire, Gnassingbé Eyadéma, former president of Togo, Denis
Sassou-Nguesso, of the Republic of the Congo, Idriss Déby, president of
Chad, and Hamani Diori former president of Niger.
The French Community and the later Organisation
Internationale de la Francophonie are defined by critics as agents of
French neocolonial influence, especially in Africa. While the main
thrust of this claim is that the Francophonie organisation is a front
for French dominance of post-colonial nations, the relation with the
French language is often more complex. Algerian intellectual Kateb
Yacine wrote in 1966 that
Francophonie is a neocolonial
political machine, which only perpetuates our alienation, but the usage
of French language does not mean that one is an agent of a foreign
power, and I write in French to tell the French that I am not French.
After a hastened decolonization process of the
Belgian Congo, Belgium continued to control, through The Société
Générale de Belgique, an estimate of 70% of the Congolese economy
following the decolonization process. The most contested part was in the
province of Katanga where the Union Minière du Haut Katanga, part of
the Société, had control over the mineral and resource rich province.
After a failed attempt to nationalize the mining industry in the 1960s,
it was reopened to foreign investment.
Critics of British relations with its former
African colonies point out that the United Kingdom viewed itself as a
"civilizing force" bringing "progress" and modernization to its
colonies. This mindset, they argue, has enabled continued military and
economic dominance in some of its former colonies, and has been seen
again following British intervention in Sierra Leone. on the other hand,
it was Nigeria that first intervened in Sierra Leone.
Neocolonialism as economic dominance United States President Harry
S. Truman greets Mohammad Mosaddeq, Prime Minister of Iran, 1951.
Mosaddeq, who had begun nationalising US and British owned oil companies
in Iran, was removed from power on August 19, 1953, in a coup d'état,
supported and funded by the British and U.S. governments and led by
General Fazlollah Zahedi . US President Jimmy Carter and Lt. Gen.
Olusegun Obasanjo tour Lagos, Nigeria. April, 1978. Obasanjo had come to
power in a coup three years earlier, and as an oil rich state, courted
both sides in the Cold War.
"We, politely referred to as
'underdeveloped', in truth are colonial, semi-colonial or dependent
countries. We are countries whose economies have been distorted by
imperialism, which has abnormally developed those branches of industry
or agriculture needed to complement its complex economy.
'Underdevelopment', or distorted development, brings a dangerous
specialization in raw materials, inherent in which is the threat of
hunger for all our peoples. We, the 'underdeveloped', are also those
with the single crop, the single product, the single market. A single
product whose uncertain sale depends on a single market imposing and
fixing conditions. That is the great formula for imperialist economic
domination." — Che Guevara, Marxist revolutionary, 1961
broader usage the charge of Neocolonialism has been leveled at powerful
countries and transnational economic institutions who involve
themselves in the affairs of less powerful countries. In this sense,
'Neo'colonialism implies a form of contemporary, economic Imperialism:
that powerful nations behave like colonial powers, and that this
behavior is 'likened to' colonialism in a post-colonial world.
lieu of direct military-political control, neocolonialist powers are
said to employ financial, and trade policies to dominate less powerful
countries. Those who subscribe to the concept maintain this amounts to a
de facto control over less powerful nations ('see Immanuel
Wallerstein's World Systems Theory').
Both previous colonizing
states and other powerful economic states maintain a continuing presence
in the economies of former colonies, especially where it concerns raw
materials. Stronger nations are thus charged with interfering in the
governance and economics of weaker nations to maintain the flow of such
material, at prices and under conditions which unduly benefit developed
nations and trans-national corporations.
Dependency theory Main article: Dependency theory
concept of economic neocolonialism was given a theoretical basis, in
part, through the work of Dependency theory. This body of social science
theories, both from developed and developing nations, is predicated on
the notion that there is a center of wealthy states and a periphery of
poor, underdeveloped states. Resources are extracted from the periphery
and flow towards the states at the center in order to sustain their
economic growth and wealth. A central concept is that the poverty of the
countries in the periphery is the result of the manner of their
integration of the "world system", a view to be contrasted with that of
free market economists, who argue that such states are progressing on a
path to full integration. This theory is based on the Marxist analysis
of inequalities within the world system, dependency argues that
underdevelopment of the Global South is a direct result of the
development in the Global North. Neocolonialism originates from the
Latin concept of letting one rule for the success of all
The basis of much of this Marxist theory is in theories of the "semi-colony", which date back to the late 19th century.
of such theories include Federico Brito Figueroa a Venezuelan historian
who has written widely on the socioeconomic underpinnings of both
colonialism and neocolonialism. Brito's works and theories strongly
influenced the thinking of current Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez.
The Cold War Main article: Cold War
In the late 20th
century conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States, the
charge of neocolonialism was often aimed at Western and less often,
Soviet involvement in the affairs of developing nations. Proxy Wars,
many in former colonised nations, were funded by both sides throughout
this period. Cuba, the Soviet bloc, Egypt under Gamal Abdel Nasser, and
some governments of newly independent African states, charged the United
States with supporting regimes which they felt did not represent the
will of their peoples, and by means both covert and overt, toppling
governments which rejected the United States. The Tricontinental
Conference, chaired by Moroccan politician Mehdi Ben Barka was one such
organisation. Roughly designated as part of the Third World movement, it
supported revolutionary anti-colonial action in various states,
provoking the anger of the United States and France. Ben Barka himself
led what was called the Commission on Neocolonialism of the
organisation, which focused both on the involvement of former colonial
powers in post colonial states, but also contended that the United
States, as leader of the capitalist world, was the primary
Neocolonialist power. Much speculation remains about Ben Barka
disappearance in 1965. The Tricontinental Conference was succeeded
organisation such as Cuba's Organization of Solidarity with the People
of Asia, Africa and Latin America (OSPAAAL). Such organisations, feeding
into what became the Non-Aligned Movement of the 1960s and 1970s used
neocolonialism, in much the same way as Marxist dependency theory
intellectuals did, to encompass all capitalist nations, and most
especially the United States. This usage remains popular on the
political left today, most especially in Latin America. Multinational corporations
of neocolonialism also argue that investment by multinational
corporations enriches few in underdeveloped countries, and causes
humanitarian, environmental and ecological devastation to the
populations which inhabit the neocolonies. This, it is argued, results
in unsustainable development and perpetual underdevelopment; a
dependency which cultivates those countries as reservoirs of cheap labor
and raw materials, while restricting their access to advanced
production techniques to develop their own economies. In some countries,
privatization of national resources, while initially leading to
immediate large scale influx of investment capital, is often followed by
dramatic increases in the rate of unemployment, poverty, and a decline
in per-capita income. This is particularly true in the West African
nations of Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, and Mauritania where fishing has
historically been central to the local economy. Beginning in 1979, the
European Union began brokering fishing rights contracts off the coast of
West Africa. This continues to this day. Commercial unsustainable
over-fishing from foreign corporations have played a significant role in
the large-scale unemployment and migration of people across the region.
This stands in direct opposition to United Nations Treaty on the Seas
which recognizes the importance of fishing to local communities and
insists that government fishing agreements with foreign companies should
be targeted at surplus stocks only.
Defense of investment
Proponents of ties which critics have
labeled neocolonial argue that, while the First World does profit from
cheap labor and raw materials in underdeveloped nations, ultimately, it
does serve as a positive modernizing force for development in the Third
International financial institutions World Bank protester, Jakarta, Indonesia, 2004.
of neocolonialism portray the choice to grant or to refuse granting
loans (particularly those financing otherwise unpayable Third World
debt), especially by international financial institutions such as the
International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank, as a decisive
form of control. They argue that in order to qualify for these loans,
and other forms of economic aid, weaker nations are forced to take
certain steps favorable to the financial interests of the IMF and World
Bank but detrimental to their own economies. These structural
adjustments have the effect of increasing rather than alleviating
poverty within the nation. Some critics emphasize that neocolonialism
allows certain cartels of states, such as the World Bank, to control and
exploit usually lesser developed countries (LDCs) by fostering debt. In
effect, Third World governments give concessions and monopolies to
foreign corporations in return for consolidation of power and monetary
bribes. In most cases, much of the money loaned to these LDCs is
returned to the favored foreign corporations. Thus, these foreign loans
are in effect subsidies to corporations of the loaning state. This
collusion is sometimes referred to as the corporatocracy. Organizations
accused of participating in neo-imperialism include the World Bank,
World Trade Organization and Group of Eight, and the World Economic
Forum. Various "first world" states, notably the United States, are said
to be involved, as described in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by
Neocolonialism allegations against the IMF Main article: Criticism of debt
who argue that neocolonialism historically supplemented (and later
supplanted) colonialism, point to the fact that Africa today pays more
money every year in debt service payments to the IMF and World Bank than
it receives in loans from them, thereby often depriving the inhabitants
of those countries from actual necessities. This dependency allows the
IMF and World Bank to impose Structural Adjustment Plans upon these
nations. Adjustments largely consisting of privatization programs which
result in deteriorating health, education, an inability to develop
infrastructure, and in general, lower living standards.
point to recent statements made by United Nations Secretary-General's
Special Economic Adviser, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, who heatedly demanded
that the entire African debt (approximately $200 billion) be forgiven
outright and recommended that African nations simply stop paying if the
World Bank and IMF do not reciprocate:
The time has come
to end this charade. The debts are unaffordable. If they won't cancel
the debts I would suggest obstruction; you do it yourselves. Africa
should say: 'thank you very much but we need this money to meet the
needs of children who are dying right now so we will put the debt
servicing payments into urgent social investment in health, education,
drinking water, control of AIDS and other needs.' (Professor Jeffrey
Sachs, Director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University and
Special Economic Advisor to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan).
of the IMF have conducted studies as to the effects of its policy which
demands currency devaluations. They pose the argument that the IMF
requires these devaluations as a condition for refinancing loans, while
simultaneously insisting that the loan be repaid in dollars or other
First World currencies against which the underdeveloped country's
currency had been devalued. This, they say, increases the respective
debt by the same percentage of the currency being devalued, therefore
amounting to a scheme for keeping Third World nations in perpetual
indebtedness, impoverishment and neocolonial dependence. Alternatives to IMF influence
to its large cash reserves, the Chinese government has begun playing a
significant role as counter-weight to IMF influence. Its often lax
lending requirements have led some countries, such as Angola in 2006, to
eschew all previously planned IMF loans.
Sino-African relations Exotic animals such as the giraffe caught and sold by Somali merchants were very popular in medieval China.
China and Somalia had a strong trading tie. In recent years, the
People's Republic of China has built increasingly stronger ties with
African nations. China is currently Africa's largest trading partner. As
of August 2007, there were an estimated 750,000 Chinese nationals
working or living for extended periods in different African countries.
China is picking up natural resources — oil, precious minerals — to feed
its expanding economy and new markets for its burgeoning enterprises.
In 2006, two-way trade had increased to $50 billion.
dealings have involved direct monetary exchanges. In 2007, the
governments of China and Congo-Kinshasa entered into an agreement
whereby Chinese state-owned firms would provide various services
(infrastructure projects) in exchange for access to an equivalent amount
of materials extracted from Congolese copper mines.
advocates and opponents of the Sudanese government portray China's role
in providing weapons and aircraft as a cynical attempt to obtain
petroleum and natural gas just as colonial powers once supplied African
chieftains with the military means to maintain control as they extracted
natural resources. According to China's critics, China has offered
Sudan support threatening to use its veto on the U.N. Security Council
to protect Khartoum from sanctions and has been able to water down every
resolution on Darfur in order to protect its interests in Sudan.
South Korea's land acquisitions
Rich governments and powerful
multinationals from South Korea are rapidly buying up the rights to
millions of hectares of agricultural land in developing countries in an
effort to secure its own long-term food supplies. The fact that South
Korea is no longer "importing" food and resources that is being
cultivated overseas implies that these lands are effectively Korean.
This amounts to agricultural imperialism a new form of neocolonialism.
South Korea's largely mountainous land area of just over 100,000 square
kilometer houses a population of nearly 50 million, yet the country's
highly industrialized trillion-dollar economy was almost as large as the
economy of the entire African continent in 2007. Hence, the South
Korean government is now using its massive financial resources to
purchase cheap land overseas for energy and food, in order to fuel one
of the world's fastest growing advanced economies.
RG Energy Resources Asset Management CEO Park Yong-soo stressed that
"the nation does not produce a single drop of crude oil and other key
industrial minerals. To power economic growth and support people's
livelihoods, we cannot emphasize too much that securing natural
resources in foreign countries is a must for our future survival." The
head of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Jacques Diouf, has
warned that the controversial rise in land deals could create a form of
"neo-colonialism", with poor states producing food for the rich at the
expense of their own hungry people.
In 2008, the South Korean
multinational Daewoo Logistics secured 1.3 million hectares of farmland
in Madagascar, half the size of Belgium, to grow maize and crops for
biofuels. Roughly half of the country's arable land, as well as
rainforests of rich and unique biodiversity, were to be converted into
palm and corn monocultures, producing food for export from a country
where a third of the population and 50 percent of children under 5 are
malnourished, using workers imported from South Africa instead of
locals. Those living on the land were never consulted or informed,
despite being dependent on the land for food and income. The
controversial deal played a major part in prolonged anti-government
protests on the island that resulted in over a hundred deaths. Shortly
after the Madagascar deal, Tanzania announced that South Korea was in
talks to develop 100,000 hectares for food production and processing for
700 to 800 billion won. Scheduled to be completed in 2010, it will be
the largest single piece of agricultural infrastructure South Korea has
ever built overseas.
In 2009, Hyundai Heavy Industries acquired a
majority stake in a company cultivating 10,000 hectares of farmland in
the Russian Far East and a wealthy South Korean provincial government
secured 95,000 hectares of farmland in Oriental Mindoro, central
Philippines, to grow corn. The South Jeolla province became the first
provincial government to benefit from a newly created central government
fund to develop farmland overseas, receiving a cheap loan of $1.9
million for the Mindoro project. The feedstock is expected to produce
10,000 tonnes of feed in the first year for South Korea. South Korean
multinationals and provincial governments have also purchased land in
Sulawesi, Indonesia, Cambodia and Bulgan, Mongolia. The South Korean
government itself announced its intention to invest 30 billion won in
land in Paraguay and Uruguay. Discussions with Laos, Myanmar and Senegal
are also currently underway.
The South Korean government's
strategy is quickly yielding results and despite predicting that
farmland is shrinking on the country, the government announced in August
2009 that South Korea would enjoy a 10% increase in rice production in
2009, the first since 2005, yet there are already pile-ups of mountains
of rice purchased by the government to keep rice prices stable.
Other approaches to the concept of neocolonialism
concept of neocolonialism was originally developed within a Marxist
theoretical framework and is generally employed by the political left,
the term "neocolonialism" is also used within other theoretical
One variant of neocolonialism theory critiques
the existence of cultural colonialism, the desire of wealthy nations to
control other nations' values and perceptions through cultural means,
such as media, language, education and religion, ultimately for economic
reasons. Main article: Colonial Mentality
One element of this
is a critique of "Colonial Mentality" which writers have traced well
beyond the legacy of 19th century colonial empires. These critics argue
that people, once subject to colonial or imperial rule, latch onto
physical and cultural differences between the foreigners and themselves,
leading some to associate power and success with the foreigners' ways.
This eventually leads to the foreigners' ways being regarded as the
better way and being held in a higher esteem than previous indigenous
ways. In much the same fashion, and with the same reasoning of
better-ness, the colonised may over time equate the colonisers' race or
ethnicity itself as being responsible for their superiority. Cultural
rejections of colonialism, such as the Negritude movement, or simply the
embracing of seemingly authentic local culture are then seen in a post
colonial world as a necessary part of the struggle against domination.
By the same reasoning, importation or continuation of cultural mores or
elements from former colonial powers may be regarded as a form of
In postcolonialism theory Main article: Postcolonialism
is a set of theories in philosophy, film, political sciences and
literature that deal with the cultural legacy of colonial rule.
Postcolonialism deals with cultural identity in colonized societies,
referencing neocolonialism as the background for contemporary dilemmas
of developing a national identity after colonial rule: the ways in which
writers articulate and celebrate that identity (often reclaiming it
from and maintaining strong connections with the colonizer); the ways in
which the knowledge of the colonized (subordinated) people has been
generated and used to serve the colonizer's interests; and the ways in
which the colonizer's literature has justified colonialism via images of
the colonized as a perpetually inferior people, society and culture.
of postcolonial studies include Subaltern Studies (specifically its
postcolonial manifestations), Frantz Fanon's "psychopathology of
colonization", and filmmakers of the Latin American Third Cinema (such
as Tomás Gutiérrez Alea of Cuba or Kidlat Tahimik of the Philippines).
While critiques of
postcolonialism/neocolonialism theory is widely practiced in Literary
theory, International Relations theory also has defined
"postcolonialism" as a field of study. While the lasting effects of
cultural colonialism is of central interest in cultural critiques of
neocolonialism, their intellectual antecedents are economic theories of
neocolonialism: Marxist Dependency theory and mainstream criticism of
capitalist Neoliberalism. Critical international relations theory
frequently references neocolonialism from Marxist positions as well as
postpositivist positions, including postmodernist, postcolonial and
feminist approaches, which differ from both realism and liberalism in
their epistemological and ontological premises.
Conservation and neocolonialism Main article: Conservation and Neocolonialism
have been other critiques that the modern conservation movement, as
taken up by international organizations such as the World Wide Fund for
Nature, has inadvertently set up a neocolonialist relationship with
Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky demolish one of the central tenets of our
political culture, the idea of the "liberal media." Instead, utilizing a
systematic model based on massive empirical research, they reveal the
manner in which the news media are so subordinated to corporate and
conservative interests that their function can only be described as that
of "elite propaganda."
"If you want to understand the way a
system works, you look at its institutional structure. How it is
organized, how it is controlled, how it is funded." -Noam Chomsky
Mainstream media really represent elite interests, and what the
propaganda model tries to do is stipulate a set of institutional
variables, reflecting this elite power, that very powerfully influence
the media." -Edward Herman
"The point of getting power down to the state is so that any business even middle size business, can make sure that the money goes into their pockets. Not in the pockets of poor people. It's trickier to do it at the federal level."
"The Mohawk Valley formula is a plan for strikebreaking purportedly
written by the president of the Remington Rand company James Rand, Jr.
around the time of the Remington Rand strike at Ilion, New York.
The plan includes discrediting union leaders, frightening the public
with the threat of violence, using local police and vigilantes to
intimidate strikers, forming puppet associations of "loyal employees" to
influence public debate, fortifying workplaces, employing large numbers
of replacement workers, and threatening to close the plant if work is
"Elements of the formula - The following is the text of the Mohawk Valley formula as quoted in the labor press:
1.When a strike is threatened, label the union leaders as
"agitators" to discredit them with the public and their own followers.
Conduct balloting under the foremen to ascertain the strength of the
union and to make possible misrepresentation of the strikers as a small
minority. Exert economic pressure through threats to move the plant,
align bankers, real estate owners and businessmen into a "Citizens'
2.Raise high the banner of "law and order", thereby causing the
community to mass legal and police weapons against imagined violence and
to forget that employees have equal rights with others in the
3.Call a "mass meeting" to coordinate public sentiment against the strike and strengthen the Citizens' Committee.
4.Form a large police force to intimidate the strikers and exert a
psychological effect. Utilize local police, state police, vigilantes and
special deputies chosen, if possible, from other neighborhoods.
5.Convince the strikers their cause is hopeless with a
"back-to-work" movement by a puppet association of so-called "loyal
employees" secretly organized by the employer.
6.When enough applications are on hand, set a date for opening the
plant by having such opening requested by the puppet "back-to-work"
7.Stage the "opening" theatrically by throwing open the gates and
having the employees march in a mass protected by squads of armed police
so as to dramatize and exaggerate the opening and heighten the
8.Demoralize the strikers with a continuing show of force. If
necessary turn the locality into a warlike camp and barricade it from
the outside world.
9.Close the publicity barrage on the theme that the plant is in full
operation and the strikers are merely a minority attempting to
interfere with the right to work. With this, the campaign is over—-the
employer has broken the strike.
A similar, although more nuanced and longer, version was published in The Nation in 1937."
Consent Without Consent excerpted from the book Profit Over People by Noam Chomsky Seven Stories Press, 1999
... Over the years, popular forces have sought to gain a larger share in managing their affairs, with some success alongside many defeats. Meanwhile an instructive body of thought has been developed to justify elite resistance to democracy. Those who hope to understand the past and shape the future would do well to pay careful attention not only to the practice but also to the doctrinal framework that supports it. The issues were addressed 250 years ago by David Hume in classic work. Hume was intrigued by "the easiness with which the many are governed by the few, the implicit submission with which men resign" their fate to their rulers. This he found surprising, because "force is always on the side of the governed." If people would realize that, they would rise up and overthrow the masters. He concluded that government is founded on control of opinion, a principle that "extends to the most despotic and most military governments, as well as to the most free and most popular." Hume surely underestimated the effectiveness of brute force. A more accurate version is that the more "free and popular" a government, the more it becomes necessary to rely on control of opinion to ensure submission to the rulers. That people must submit is taken for granted pretty much across the spectrum. In a democracy, the governed have the right to consent, but nothing more than that. In the terminology of modern progressive thought, the population may be "spectators," but not "participants," apart from occasional choices among leaders representing authentic power. That is the political arena. The general population must be excluded entirely from the economic arena, where what happens in the society is largely determined. Here the public is to have no role, according to prevailing democratic theory. *** ... The founding fathers repeated the sentiments of the British "men of best quality" in almost the same words. As one put it "When I mention the public, I mean to include only the rational part of it.The ignorant and vulgar are as unfit to judge of the modes [of government], as they are unable to manage [its] reins." The people are a "great beast" that must be tamed, his colleague Alexander Hamilton declared. Rebellious and independent farmers had to be taught, sometimes by force, that the ideals of the revolutionary pamphlets were not to be taken too seriously. The common people were not to be represented by countrymen like themselves, who know the people's sores, but by gentry, merchants, lawyers, and other "responsible men" who could be trusted to defend privilege. The reigning doctrine was expressed clearly by the President of the Continental Congress and first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Jay "The people who own the country ought to govern it." One issue remained to be settled Who owns the country? The question was answered by the rise of private corporations and the structures devised to protect and support them, though it remains a difficult task to compel the public to keep to the spectator role. The United States is surely the most important case to study if we hope to understand the world of today and tomorrow. One reason is its incomparable power. Another is its stable democratic institutions. Furthermore, the United States was as close to a tabula rasa as one can find. America can be "as happy as she pleases," Thomas Paine remarked in 1776 "she has a blank sheet to write upon." The indigenous societies were largely eliminated. The U.S. also has little residue of earlier European structures, one reason for the relative weakness of the social contract and of support systems, which often had their roots in pre-capitalist institutions. And to an unusual extent, the sociopolitical order was consciously designed. In studying history, one cannot construct experiments, but the United States is as close to the "ideal case" of state capitalist democracy as can be found. The main designer, furthermore, was an astute political thinker James Madison, whose views largely prevailed. In the debates on the Constitution, Madison pointed out that if elections in England" were open to all classes of people, the property of landed proprietors would be insecure. An agrarian law would soon take place," giving land to the landless. The Constitutional system must be designed to prevent such injustice and "secure the permanent interests of the country," which are property rights. Among Madisonian scholars, there is a consensus that "the Constitution was intrinsically an aristocratic document designed to check the democratic tendencies of the period," delivering power to a "better sort" of people and excluding those who were not rich, well born, or prominent from exercising political power (Lance Banning). The primary responsibility of government is "to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority," Madison declared. That has been the guiding principle of the democratic system from its origins until today. In public discussion, Madison spoke of the rights of minorities in general, but it is quite clear that he had a particular minority in mind "the minority of the opulent." Modern political theory stresses Madison's belief that "in a just and a free government the rights both of property and of persons ought to be effectually guarded." But in this case too it is useful to look at the doctrine more carefully. There are no rights of property, only rights to property that is, rights of persons with property. Perhaps I have a right to my car, but my car has no rights. The right to property also differs from others in that one person's possession of property deprives another of that right if I own my car, you do not; but in a just and free society, my freedom of speech would not limit yours. The Madisonian principle, then, is that government must guard the rights of persons generally, but must provide special and additional guarantees for the rights of one class of persons, property owners. Madison foresaw that the threat of democracy was likely to become more severe over time because of the increase in "the proportion of those who will labor under all the hardships of life, and secretly sigh for a more equal distribution of its blessings." They might gain influence, Madison feared. He was concerned by the "symptoms of a leveling spirit" that had already appeared, and warned "of the future danger" if the right to vote would place "power over property in hands without a share in it." Those "without property, or the hope of acquiring it, cannot be expected to sympathize sufficiently with its rights," Madison explained. His solution was to keep political power in the hands of those who "come from and represent the wealth of the nation," the "more capable set of men," with the general public fragmented and disorganized... *** ...The National Security States installed and backed by the United States are discussed in an important book by Lars Schoultz, one of the leading Latin American scholars. Their goal, in his words, was "to destroy permanently a perceived threat to the existing structure of socioeconomic privilege by eliminating the political participation of the numerical majority," Hamilton's "great beast." The goal is basically the same in the home society, though the means are different. The pattern continues today. The champion human rights violator in the hemisphere is Colombia, also the leading recipient of U.S. military aid and training in recent years. The pretext is the "drug war," but that is "a myth," as regularly reported by major human rights groups, the church, and other who have investigated the shocking record of atrocities and the close links between the narcotraffickers, landowners, the military, and their paramilitary associates. State terror has devastated popular organizations and virtually destroyed the one independent political party by assassination of thousands of activists, including presidential candidates, mayors, and others. Nonetheless Colombia is hailed as a stable democracy, revealing again what is meant by "democracy." A particularly instructive example is the reaction to Guatemala's first experiment with democracy. In this case the secret record is partially available, so we know a good deal about the thinking that guided policy. In 1952 the CIA warned that the "radical and nationalist policies" of the government had gained "the support or acquiescence of almost all Guatemalans." The government was "mobilizing the hitherto politically inert peasantry" and creating "mass support for the present regime" by means of labor organization, agrarian reform, and other policies "identified with the revolution of 1944," which had aroused "a strong national movement to free Guatemala from the military dictatorship, social backwardness, and 'economic colonialism' which had been the pattern of the past." The policies of the democratic government "inspired the loyalty and conformed to the self-interest of most politically conscious Guatemalans." State Department intelligence reported that the democratic leadership "insisted upon the maintenance of an open political system," thus allowing Communists to "expand their operations and appeal effectively to various sectors of the population." These deficiencies of democracy were cured by the military coup of 1954 and the reign of terror since, always with large-scale U.S. support. The problem of securing" consent" has also arisen with international institutions. At first, the United Nations was a reliable instrument of U.S. policy, and was greatly admired. But decolonization brought about what came to be called "the tyranny of the majority." From the 1 960s Washington took the lead in vetoing Security Council resolutions (with Britain second, and France a distant third), and voting alone or with a few client states against General Assembly resolutions. The UN fell into disfavor, and sober articles began to appear asking why the world was "opposing the United States"; that the United States might be opposing the world is a thought too bizarre to be entertained. U.S. relations with the World Court and other international institutions have undergone a similar evolution... *** ... doctrines ... have been crafted to impose the modern forms of political democracy. They are expressed quite accurately in an important manual of the public relations industry by one of its leading figures, Edward Bernays. He opens by observing that the conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. To carry out this essential task the intelligent minorities must make use of propaganda continuously and systematically," because they alone "understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses" and can "pull the wires which control the public mind. Therefore, our "society has consented to permit free competition to be organized by leadership and propaganda," another case of "consent without consent." Propaganda provides the leadership with a mechanism "to mold the mind of the masses" so that "they will throw their newly gained strength in the desired direction." The leadership can "regiment the public mind every bit as much as an army regiments the bodies of its soldiers." This process of "engineering consent" is the very "essence of the democratic process," Bernays wrote ... *** http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Chomsky/ConsentPOP_Chom.html
is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of
a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself. As
opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda, in its most
basic sense, presents information primarily to influence an audience.
Propaganda is often biased, with facts selectively presented (thus
possibly lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or uses
loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than rational response
to the information presented. The desired result is a change of the
attitude toward the subject in the target audience to further a
political, or other type of agenda. Propaganda can be used as a form of
"There's no doubt that one of the major issues
of twentieth century history, surely in the US, is corporate
propaganda.... Its goal from the beginning, perfectly openly and
consciously, was to 'control the public mind,' as they put it. The
reason was that the public mind was seen as the greatest threat to the
"The man who is possessed of wealth,
who lolls on his sofa or rolls in his carriage, cannot judge the wants
or feelings of the day-laborer. The government we mean to erect is
intended to last for ages. The landed interest, at present, is
prevalent; but in process of time, when we approximate to the states and
kingdoms of Europe, when the number of landholders shall be
comparatively small, through the various means of trade and
manufactures, will not the landed interest be overbalanced in future
elections, and unless wisely provided against, what will become of your
government? In England, at this day, if elections were open to all
classes of people, the property of landed proprietors would be insecure.
An agrarian law would soon take place. If these observations be just,
our government ought to secure the permanent interests of the country
against innovation. Landholders ought to have a share in the government,
to support these invaluable interests, and to balance and check the
other. They ought to be so constituted as to protect the minority of the
opulent against the majority. The senate, therefore, ought to be this
body; and to answer these purposes, they ought to have permanency and
stability." - James Madison.
Statement (1787-06-26) as quoted in Notes of the Secret Debates of the Federal Convention of 1787
April 05, 2012 "Information
Clearing House" --- Public education
is under attack around the world, and in response, student protests
have recently been held in Britain, Canada, Chile, Taiwan and
California is also a battleground. The Los Angeles Times reports on
another chapter in the campaign to destroy what had been the
greatest public higher education system in the world: "California
State University officials announced plans to freeze enrollment next
spring at most campuses and to wait-list all applicants the
following fall pending the outcome of a proposed tax initiative on
the November ballot."
Similar defunding is under way nationwide. "In most states," The New
York Times reports, "it is now tuition payments, not state
appropriations, that cover most of the budget," so that "the era of
affordable four-year public universities, heavily subsidized by the
state, may be over."
Community colleges increasingly face similar prospects – and the
shortfalls extend to grades K-12.
"There has been a shift from the belief that we as a nation benefit
from higher education, to a belief that it's the people receiving
the education who primarily benefit and so they should foot the
bill," concludes Ronald G. Ehrenberg, a trustee of the State
University system of New York and director of the Cornell Higher
Education Research Institute.
A more accurate description, I think, is "Failure by Design," the
title of a recent study by the Economic Policy Institute, which has
long been a major source of reliable information and analysis on the
state of the economy.
The EPI study reviews the consequences of the transformation of the
economy a generation ago from domestic production to
financialization and offshoring. By design; there have always been
One primary justification for the design is what Nobel laureate
Joseph Stiglitz called the "religion" that "markets lead to
efficient outcomes," which was recently dealt yet another crushing
blow by the collapse of the housing bubble that was ignored on
doctrinal grounds, triggering the current financial crisis.
Claims are also made about the alleged benefits of the radical
expansion of financial institutions since the 1970s. A more
convincing description was provided by Martin Wolf, senior economic
correspondent for The Financial Times: "An out-of-control financial
sector is eating out the modern market economy from inside, just as
the larva of the spider wasp eats out the host in which it has been
The EPI study observes that the "Failure of Design" is class-based.
For the designers, it has been a stunning success, as revealed by
the astonishing concentration of wealth in the top 1 percent, in
fact the top 0.1 percent, while the majority has been reduced to
virtual stagnation or decline.
In short, when they have the opportunity, "the Masters of Mankind"
pursue their "vile maxim" [ all for ourselves and nothing for other
people," as Adam Smith explained long ago.
Mass public education is one of the great achievements of American
society. It has had many dimensions. One purpose was to prepare
independent farmers for life as wage laborers who would tolerate
what they regarded as virtual slavery.
The coercive element did not pass without notice. Ralph Waldo
Emerson observed that political leaders call for popular education
because they fear that "This country is filling up with thousands
and millions of voters, and you must educate them to keep them from
our throats." But educated the right way: Limit their perspectives
and understanding, discourage free and independent thought, and
train them for obedience.
The "vile maxim" and its implementation have regularly called forth
resistance, which in turn evokes the same fears among the elite.
Forty years ago there was deep concern that the population was
breaking free of apathy and obedience.
At the liberal internationalist extreme, the Trilateral Commission –
the nongovernmental policy group from which the Carter
Administration was largely drawn – issued stern warnings in 1975
that there is too much democracy, in part due to the failures of the
institutions responsible for "the indoctrination of the young." On
the right, an important 1971 memorandum by Lewis Powell, directed to
the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the main business lobby, wailed that
radicals were taking over everything – universities, media,
government, etc. – and called on the business community to use its
economic power to reverse the attack on our prized way of life –
which he knew well. As a lobbyist for the tobacco industry, he was
quite familiar with the workings of the nanny state for the rich
that he called "the free market."
Since then, many measures have been taken to restore discipline. One
is the crusade for privatization – placing control in reliable
Another is sharp increases in tuition, up nearly 600 percent since
1980. These produce a higher education system with "far more
economic stratification than is true of any other country,"
according to Jane Wellman, former director of the Delta Cost
Project, which monitors these issues. Tuition increases trap
students into long-term debt and hence subordination to private
Justifications are offered on economic grounds, but are singularly
unconvincing. In countries rich to poor, including Mexico next-door,
tuition remains free or nominal. That was true as well in the United
States itself when it was a much poorer country after World War II
and huge numbers of students were able to enter college under the GI
bill – a factor in uniquely high economic growth, even putting aside
the significance in improving lives.
Another device is the corporatization of the universities. That has
led to a dramatic increase in layers of administration, often
professional instead of drawn from the faculty as before; and to
imposition of a business culture of "efficiency" – an ideological
notion, not just an economic one.
One illustration is the decision of state colleges to eliminate
programs in nursing, engineering and computer science, because they
are costly – and happen to be the professions where there is a labor
shortage, as The New York Times reports. The decision harms the
society but conforms to the business ideology of short-term gain
without regard for human consequences, in accord with the vile
Some of the most insidious effects are on teaching and monitoring.
The Enlightenment ideal of education was captured in the image of
education as laying down a string that students follow in their own
ways, developing their creativity and independence of mind.
The alternative, to be rejected, is the image of pouring water into
a vessel – and a very leaky one, as all of us know from experience.
The latter approach includes teaching to test and other mechanisms
that destroy students' interest and seek to fit them into a mold,
easily controlled. All too familiar today.
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