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News ::
The Great Myth of US Benevolence (english)
18 Aug 2003
A few thoughts about the reluctance of many Americans to accept the realities of US imperialism.
From the inscription on the Statue of Liberty to the images of American soldiers landing on the beaches of Normandy or raising the flag over Iwo Jima, Americans have been carefully taught in schools, churches, movies and the media, the proposition that American intentions in the world are always noble and benevolent. With this given assumption driven into their heads, any deviations must necessarily be due to mistakes or a few bad people in power, which can be altered with the next election. Certainly, it could not possibly be anything systemic with the US political or economic system, which might require a revolution to change. If leftists criticize US domestic or foreign policy, they are attacking this icon of unchallengeable nobility and benevolence, and many among the populace will call them ungrateful whiners and even unpatriotic and traitorous, especially if they feel the country is under attack by terrorists.

The inscription on the Statue of Liberty states in part: "give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." However, how were these immigrants actually treated once they arrived on these shores? Some were slaves, indentured servants or worked long hours under atrocious, unsafe conditions in factories for a pittance of a wage. They and their children died by the thousands of epidemics of disease, which swept the large cities due to contaminated water. Child labor and industrial accidents were commonplace. Did this change due to government or corporate benevolence? No, it changed because the common people organized unions and fought back. Women organized and fought for the right to vote. African Americans and other minorities fought for their civil rights. Americans should rightly be proud and patriotic toward these struggles and the freedoms and material benefits they obtained. They should not be proud of wars, generals and presidents, but of people who fought for the end of child labor, the 8 hour day, Social Security, sick pay, paid vacations and unemployment compensation. These Americans are responsible for the standard of living we enjoy today, not the capitalists who fought tooth and nail against these reforms. Many of these real heroes names will never be known, but I admire Eugene V. Debs, Mother Jones, Joe Hill, Big Bill Haywood, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and many others.

Anytime a dissenting voice questions the benevolence of the government and corporations in starting and propagating foreign wars, the reply is always the example of the "good war," World War 2. Surely, many Americans believe that war was fought to liberate Europe and free the prisoners in the Nazi death camps. If one war can be fought by America for noble purposes, then these leftist critics are probably wrong for precluding the possibility of future wars being fought for similar purposes. That is the reasoning.

There is a hidden history of World War 2, which few Americans know. Many American capitalists like the Rockefellers, DuPonts and Fords actually favored the Nazis because of their policies repressing labor rights and invested heavily in Nazi Germany. The English royal family and much of the nobility there were sympathetic toward the Nazis. Corporations like Standard Oil of New Jersey and I.G. Farben of Germany were in partnership with each other. Allen Dulles, later a CIA director, wrote many of these partnerships and patent agreements between German and American corporations, when he worked for the law firm Sullivan and Cromwell. Far from being a benevolent, humanitarian war to liberate Europe and the Pacific and rescue the Jews from the death camps, World War 2 was actually a disguised attempt to destroy socialism in the Soviet Union, as well as being another imperialist war among capitalist powers. One would never deduce this by watching Saving Private Ryan or the Battle of the Bulge on television. The idea of the Soviet Union as the principal target of fascist Germany seems so startling and controversial to Americans that I need to add a little collaborating evidence. Immediately following the Bolshevik revolution in 1917, every capitalist nation on Earth invaded Russia in an attempt to eliminate this threat to the wealth and power of the ruling classes in capitalist countries. Although ostensibly being allies with the Soviet Union in World War 2, the United States started the Cold War (another attempt to destroy socialism in the world) immediately after Hitler failed in his attack on the Soviet Union and was defeated. In his trial after the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923, Hitler himself stated: "My aim from the first was a thousand times higher than becoming a minister. I wanted to be the destroyer of Marxism!" Hitler was a loose cannon and attacked other western capitalist nations, as well as hurling the vast majority of his forces against the hated Soviet Union. German and American corporations tried until the very last to forge a peace agreement, which would isolate the Soviet Union as the only enemy. Still, I greatly honor those American soldiers who fought European and Japanese fascism and with the help of the Red Army did liberate the death camps, although far too late to save most of the victims.

Another of the examples of the supposed benevolent intentions of the United States is the Marshall Plan established to rebuild Europe after World War 2. In actuality, the Marshall Plan had the completely selfish motivation of preserving capitalism and corporate power in Europe because the leaders of the anti-Nazi resistance movements in nearly all European countries were communists or socialists, and they were poised to come to power in nearly all the postwar governments. The Marshall Plan and CIA covert actions were instituted to prevent this from happening.

I don't know how many fellow Americans I have overheard saying that they can't understand why foreign peoples hate the United States after the massive amounts of foreign aid the US has given them. During the Cold War some foreign aid was given because there was this competition between the Soviet Union and US to illustrate which system could improve living standards more. Even then, though, most of the foreign aid was really a form of corporate welfare. Ports, roads, railways and other infrastructure were built to better enable corporations to exploit the natural resources. Now that the Soviet Union has disintegrated, the United States is by far the most miserly industrialized country in the world in giving foreign aid, especially foreign aid that would really make a difference in lives like health care and education. A poor, embargoed country like Cuba does more by sending its doctors to countries all over the world.

None of what I have written means that the majority of American people are not generous, kindhearted and benevolent, only that the US ruling class and the government they dominate don't live up to this colossal myth.

Terminology is very important. The corporate media always use the terms "we" and "our." They say "we" invaded Iraq and that it is "our" army. There were no great demonstrations by the American people to invade Iraq. Therefore, "we" did not invade Iraq. "They" (the nexus of government and corporate power) did! It is not "our" army, fighting for "our" interests. It is "their" army, fighting for "their" interests-the interests of the military-industrial complex and the oil companies.

It is an essential part of the propaganda inducing Americans to believe the government and corporations act in a noble, benevolent manner to also depict our society as classless, where we are all in this together and share identical goals. This has never been true in our past history and is not true today. American capitalists are interested in power, profit and empire and the US government is busy facilitating these ends by the IMF, World Bank, trade agreements and wars. They are polluting the environment, causing global warming and the destruction of the rain forests and littering the planet with cluster bombs, land mines, Agent Orange and depleted uranium from their numerous wars. If these people aren't stopped and the exploitative system changed, this could very well be a terminal phase in human history. It is very definitely not noble or benevolent!

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