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Issue #1686      May 27, 2015

Culture & Life

The hypocrisy of capitalism

Capitalism and hypocrisy are almost synonymous, they so often go together. Whether it’s the farcically spurious “choices” offered by bourgeois democracy being lauded as the ultimate expression of genuine democracy, or politicians representing corporate interests cutting the already meagre benefits for the poor while simultaneously cutting corporate tax rates even as they proclaim that “the economy can’t afford” to go on paying pensions, hypocrisy is inherent within the system.

As the leading capitalist power, the USA practices hypocrisy on a global scale. So do all the imperialist governments, of course, but Washington’s hypocrisy is so blatant it approaches the sublime. Apparently blinded by their own arrogance – and the undoubted potency of their weapons arsenal – US leaders seem oblivious to the glaring contradictions between their words and their deeds. They routinely pose as the champions of freedom, and yet they train some of the most repressive and barbaric “security” forces on the planet. They talk a great deal about defending peace, but they pursue a doctrine of “continuous war” and wage wars virtually without ceasing.

Since the end of the Second World War, almost every dictator that has emerged has been armed by the USA, their torturers trained by US experts, and their regimes funded by the USA. And still the US poses as the champion of democracy, a beacon of light to the oppressed of the world! As hypocrisy goes, it is quite breathtaking, wouldn’t you agree?

US leaders present themselves as the ultimate advocates and protectors of “human rights”, but the US Congress is in the process of passing legislation to further curtail women’s right to abortion, to bring more social services and the exercise of human rights under religious control.

The US people have had to take to the streets to express their revulsion at the institutionalised racism in so many of the country’s police forces. Slavery was abolished in the USA a century ago, but today largely white police forces intimidate and terrorise black populations, incarcerating thousands who then have to work as modern-day slaves for companies that have found the ultimate exploitable workforce.

For the huge number of mainly black people slaving in the US industrial prison system, “human rights” – indeed, any sort of rights – are just a sick joke. But the US still lords it around the world as the principal exponent of those same human rights!

At the same time as US capitalism is rediscovering the many benefits (to it) of slave labour, the ever compliant US government is cosying up even further to the slave-owning regime of the Saudi oil sheiks and their equally oppressive, equally feudal allies in the Gulf States: Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE and Oman.

Medea Benjamin, cofounder of US activist organisations Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace, notes that “the Saudi monarchy has been using its military and financial might to impose its will throughout the Middle East. It is financially bolstering the repressive regime of Egyptian dictator Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Egypt, who came to power in a coup. Saudi tanks brutally crushed Shiite protests in Bahrain. Years after the first invasion, Saudi forces continue to dominate Bahrain. The Saudi devotion to Wahhabism, a radical sect of Islam, has been responsible in exporting extremism around the globe, including 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers.”

Despite all the USA’s posturing over the 9/11 outrage, there was never any suggestion of attacking Saudi Arabia. Instead, in an act of astounding hypocrisy, the US attacked Iraq, a country whose leader had adopted an independent attitude that threatened US control of that country’s oil, but had no involvement in the events of 9/11.

As for Saudi Arabia: Medea Benjamin points out that “You don’t have to go beyond Saudi’s border to see its abuses. Organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have condemned the imprisonment of many political and human rights activists convicted for expressing dissent against the government, as well as the limited rights provided to women.

“In January, Saudi Arabia received worldwide condemnation for sentencing a political blogger to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes in public. Raif Badawi, husband and father of three, did nothing more than utilise his freedom of expression, a crime that is apparently punishable by a medieval form of torture. While the Saudi ambassador attended free speech rallies in Paris after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, Badawi was subjected to his second round of lashings.

“Hundreds of political prisoners remain jailed, including Badawi’s lawyer Waleed Abulkhair, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role as a reform activist. Women have also become the targets of political repression, as driving is still viewed as a criminal offence. Legally, women are not permitted to be in public without adhering to a strict dress code that requires head covering. They are required to have a male guardian at all times, whether it be their brother, father, or husband, and must ask permission to travel freely.”

The USA, “land of the free”, is the mainstay and protector of the Saudi autocracy, the principal supplier of arms for the Saudi military, currently trying to bomb the people of Yemen into acquiescing in Saudi domination of their country, and the principal beneficiary of Saudi influence over the world oil industry. As Medea Benjamin notes with regard to the Saudi bombing campaign, “In the process of claiming to save Yemen, close to 1,400 people have died, including hundreds of children.”

But that will not disturb US corporate interests. After all, capitalism knows no allegiance except to profit. All the fine words from US leaders about rights, and freedom and the rest are just a smokescreen, a hypocritical smokescreen with neither meaning nor substance.

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