Imperialism is a term not applied by the mainstream media and traditional academics to anything the U.S. does. However, it is liberally applied to contemporary enemies or hoary empires of the past. Michael Parenti defines imperialism “as the process whereby the rulers of one country use economic and military power to expropriate the land, labor, markets and natural resources of another country in order to attain ever greater capital accumulation on behalf of wealthy interests at home and abroad.” Washington is always looking for euphemisms to cloak its real intentions thus “rules-based international order” is gaining currency. U.S. interventions are presented as promoting noble causes such as human rights, opposing tyranny and bringing democracy to others, and on and on.
Class and power are closely correlated, That societies have a ruling class is derided as passe Marxist rhetoric. But to deny its existence is folly. Class can be measured by one’s income and savings, and ownership of stocks, bonds and property. Power is more difficult to calibrate. It is the capacity of a ruling class to produce outcomes that enrich and enhance its status. There are many forms of power such as economic, political and military. That a ruling class acts to promote its interests by getting together and planning seems only logical. To simply dismiss these meetings as conspiracies is absurd. Power brokers and corporate elites don’t meet in dark, smoke filled back rooms or on amusement park merry-go-rounds but rather they gather in well-appointed offices with plush carpets and comfortable chairs and are served croissants and gourmet coffee.
Newsweek's cover declares, "We are All Socialists Now." Some people have a different take on it. Paul Krugman, commenting on the bailout of banks and the giant insurance company AIG, says it's a classic example of what he calls "lemon socialism," that is, taxpayers bear the cost if things go wrong, but stockholders and executives get the benefits if things go right. Krugman, a Nobel Prize winner, is describing our economic system as it really is, not the fantasy tale spun for mass consumption by Alan Greenspan and his disciples. One salient aspect of the economic collapse is the focus on rotten apples like Bernard Madoff and Robert Allen Stanford. They are easy pickings. We can all be virtuous in denouncing them as cheats and swindlers. But what escapes scrutiny and discussion is the barrel itself. And that is the capitalist system.
Michael Parenti is a leading independent political analyst and scholar. Cornel West calls him, “a towering prophetic voice.” He has taught at major colleges and universities in the U.S. and abroad. He is the author of numerous books including Democracy for the Few, Power and the Powerless, Superpatriotism, Against Empire, and The Assassination of Julius Caesar.