Wed, 3 June 2009
General Motors is just the latest in a long line of casualties in the lopsided war between finance capital and manufacturing capital. "The handwriting was on the wall for General Motors and the entire industrial sector of the U.S. economy back in the mid-Eighties, when GMAC, the financial arm of General Motors, surpassed the car-making part of the company in profits." The "crux of the current crisis of capitalism" is finance capital's refusal to invest in productive enterprise "except under conditions of extremely low wage labor
R.I.P. Industrial USA. The Banksters Win, Even When They Fail
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
”It was crystal clear that the finance capitalists would eventually destroy the industrial capitalists.”
The corporate media’s stories on General Motor’s bankruptcy read like obituaries. But they are covering the wrong funeral. The automaker’s passing as an industrial giant marks the last gasp of industrial capitalism in the United States. And it was not a natural death.
General Motors became the biggest corporation is the world when the United States was by far the biggest industrial power in the world. There has always been conflict between industrial capital, which actually manufacturers things, and finance capital which, left to its own devises, will reduce the manufacturing base to its various parts to be squeezed of value, sold off or shut down. Two generations ago, finance capital got the upper hand in its battle with manufacturing capital, and began to deindustrialize the United States.
It was a long process, but a steady one, part of finance capital’s global “race to the bottom” that would transfer the world’s production to the low-wage South and East of the planet.
The handwriting was on the wall for General Motors and the entire industrial sector of the U.S. economy back in the mid-Eighties, when GMAC, the financial arm of General Motors, surpassed the car-making part of the company in profits. Almost immediately, GMAC went into the mortgage business. From that moment on, it was crystal clear that the finance capitalists would eventually destroy the industrial capitalists.
Then a funny thing happened on the way to finance capital’s total conquest of America. With the keys to state and federal government in their hands, and the Black, soon-to-be president in their pockets, the investment banking class imploded of its own contradictions. Having succeeded in amassing trillions while creating nothing useful, the finance capital parasites proceeded to the next stage of their pathology, creating vast amounts of fictitious capital called derivatives, based on – nothing. The house of cards collapsed.
“Barack Obama put the finance capitalist Steve Rattner in charge of finally bankrupting the auto industry.”
The financial meltdown was near-total, but their political power was undiminished. Just as they had controlled the outgoing Republican White House, they took charge of economic policy under the incoming Democrat. Barack Obama put the finance capitalist Steve Rattner in charge of finally bankrupting the auto industry – which left economist Stanley Aronowitz has described as the largest exercise in union busting in U.S. history. President Obama’s own website brags that his White House was even “more aggressive” than the Bush Administration in wrenching concessions from the United Auto Workers union. The “New GM,” now 60 percent owned by the people of the United States, will be allowed to build small cars – in China. Obama apologists actually believed that the unused auto infrastructure might be massively converted to building public transportation, or other green industries. They failed to understand that Obama is the bankers’ president, and the bankers build nothing useful or productive. That is the crux of the current crisis of capitalism: the refusal of capital to invest in productive enterprise except under conditions of extremely low wage labor. Nothing will replace General Motors until the bankers – and the politicians who serve them – are driven out of power.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.