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John Perkins (2007), likewise, examines how the modern American Empire has affected our economy and our society in his book the Secret History of the American Empire.
Perkins reveals nothing new when he contends that the United States makes up "less than 5% of the world's population…[yet] consumes more than 25% of the world's resources" (p. 5). What he does do with this information is use it as a platform from which to analyze America's position in the global arena. How is America able to consume so much? According to Perkins, "this is accomplished to a large degree through the exploitation of other countries, primarily in the developing world" (p. 5).
As Howard Zinn points out, European powers, beginning in 1897, were pushing their way into China, a potential nation ripe for exploitation. The only problem was that America was not in on the action. What Zinn shows is how the American media, even then, was quick to undermine American isolationism in favor of American militaristic imperialism: "The New York Journal of Commerce, which had advocated peaceful development of free trade, now urged old-fashioned military colonialism" (Zinn, p. 302). The same thing happened in Cuba at around the same time.
The Anti-Imperialist League formed in 1898 and tried "to educate the American public about the…evils of imperialism" (Zinn, p. 314), and the war in the Philippines was its main concern. In 1899, Congress ratified a treaty to annex the Philippines, to the chagrin of the Anti-Imperialist League and "despite the growing evidence of brutality…in the Philippines" (Zinn, p. 317). Such imperialism still exists today. One need look no further than the U.S. occupation in the Middle East. Supposedly there to stamp out terrorism, the reality is that U.S. forces are there to help corporations like BP install their pipelines: As Philip Knightley (2001) reports, the role of Islam has been written to a great extent by the United States: "Keen to see Afghanistan under strong central rule to allow a U.S.-led group to build a multi-billion-dollar oil and gas pipeline, Washington urged key allies Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to back the militia's bid for power in 1996, analysts said. But it was soon forced to abandon…the Islamic purists, who U.S. officials now say are unfit to rule, as the militia began imposing its brutal version of Islamic law." The fact is, the U.S. abandoned the Taliban when it no longer served their interests to support them.
The Collapse of the Dollar
When the reality of Big Oil's use of American military is related to the usurpation of America's money supply by the Federal Reserve, one sees the monolithic role of Fascism very clearly. First, let us consider the reality of the dollar -- or what is really called the Federal Reserve Note. The creation of money "out of thin air" (Paul, 2009, p. 150), or fiat currency, and the monetization of debt, have all changed the way we think of money. Today, paper money is no longer tied to the precious metals it once represented. Inflationary practices have resulted in a steady decline in the value of paper money around the world.
As Paul states, "The convenience of the Federal Reserve monetizing the debt satisfies a lot of people -- until the day comes that we suffer the consequences with an economic downturn and higher prices" (p. 120). That day is essentially here what with the tanking of the world economy and entire nations stuck with outrageous debts that are virtually impossible to pay back. One need only look at Greece, Spain, Portugal, or Ireland to realize this. The United States may well soon join that list because the way we have been using money in the past century is now having real consequences.
Paper money was originally nothing more than a receipt for gold left with the goldsmiths (the original bankers in England). Thus, paper money was never intended to have an intrinsic value: the value belonged to the gold, for which the paper was a receipt. Over time, various political influences tried to remove paper money from the gold standard. That finally happened in 1971 when President Nixon eliminated the gold standard, since there was simply not enough gold to back up all the paper currency that had been printed by the Federal Reserve bank. Even before then, in 1933, President Roosevelt had confiscated the gold of Americans and devalued their returns. The Great Depression had seen an economic crash on par with the one we are experiencing today: the problem was that banks had over-extended themselves with borrowed money. In other words, there were more IOUs than actual physical wealth -- and when the IOUs could not be repaid, the entire system collapsed.
Today, our nation operates on an economic system supported by fiat money. Fiat money is money that is not representative of gold, silver, or any other physical commodity. What could once be redeemed for its representative value in gold is now nothing more than a Federal Reserve Note that is, in reality, not backed by anything. Even though Federal Reserve Notes are recognized by the government as legal tender, the fact remains that as more and more Federal Reserve Notes are printed and circulated, the value of those already held in possession decreases. If money in ancient times was equal to the coinage of precious metals, today it is not. Today money comes from the central bank. Essentially, fiat currency is responsible for runaway inflation. As more paper currency is printed, the value of that already in circulation goes down. When this point is related to the fact that oil prices are run up by speculators pretending to be hedgers, and that wars are promoted by corporations so that they can secure pipelines, it is not difficult to see that the merger between state and corporate powers has been completed. In other words, America is now a Fascist country -- and that is the basis for the relation of the dollar to oil and the economy.
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Knightley, P. (2001). Taliban Rise to Power. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.rense.com/general14/rise.htm
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Perkins, J. (2007). The Secret History of the American Empire. New York, NY:
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