Commentaries on current events, political economy, and the Communist movement from a Marxist-Leninist perspective.
Zigedy highly recommends the Marxist-Leninist website, MLToday.com, where many of his longer articles appear.
over the last few weeks further remove the fog obscuring the foreign
policy objectives of the US ruling class. A series of seemingly
unrelated events casts light on the goals of US policy makers in an
era of intensifying international rivalries. Further, it is becoming
clear that President Trump is now largely deferring to the
ruling-class consensus on foreign affairs; his straying from the fold
has been substantially checked.
February, I wrote
of the implications of the widely ignored shift in the status of the
United States from an energy-seeking, petroleum-importing country to
a net exporter, a trader in all energy resources.
US still has a significant but shrinking position in the
international export of coal. Of course, coal use is both third in
importance among hydrocarbons and shrinking in use (coal production
internationally fell by the largest percentage on record in 2016).
But petroleum imports became essential to fuel the critical
transportation needs of the US as well as the massive military
machine in the mid-twentieth century.
After the oil crisis of the
1970s, dependence on petroleum imports became even more acute and an
even more vital factor in setting US foreign policy. Often, and for
good reason, the left was quick to associate the thirst for energy
resources with war-mongering and neo-colonial intrigue.
matters are changing rapidly, even if many seek to obscure or ignore
the new reality. As I argued in February:
began to change in the last decade, with US domestic oil production
nearly doubling between 2010 and 2014. In the last few years, US oil
production has reached levels in line with the world’s largest
producers, Saudi Arabia and Russia. For the first time in decades,
the US is again exporting extracted energy products. In fact, many
experts expect the US to become a net energy exporter in the next
evidence has only mounted since the February posting. Despite low
prices of oil, US drillers are producing like there is no tomorrow.
From its low in mid-year 2016, the rig count has nearly doubled in
North Dakota. As the Wall
reported on June 19, the big companies, Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell,
and Exxon Mobil are investing tens of billions in the Permian region
of the Southwestern US. The giant multinational, monopoly-capital
producers are stepping in where smaller producers have failed because
of costs and limited capital. They are projecting Permian production
at 4 million barrels a day within a decade, about the production of
modern-day Iraq. Chevron, alone, anticipates a four-fold increase of
Permian production within a decade. Exxon is projected to spend half
or more of its massive investments in the next three years on North
American oil production.
will this oil go?
a June 8 article, Wall
writer Lynn Cook stated bluntly: “American [US] oil exports are
emerging as a disruptive new force in global markets.” From January
to April, US suppliers shipped 110 million barrels to foreign
destinations, chiefly India, Hong Kong, and Denmark. Asian buyers
account for 39% of purchases, with China showing, by far, the
greatest growth. With massive production increases coming online, is
there any doubt that US producers will be competing furiously with
OPEC and other traditional exporters for existing and new markets?
Should we not expect the foreign policy and the covert and overt
military strategies to reflect this intensifying competition?
the US is becoming an increasingly important exporter of natural gas.
As new technologies of liquefying and shipping natural gas are
implemented, the competition for markets is becoming ever more
ruthless. Seaborne liquid natural gas accounts for 40% of the market
today. As the world leader in natural gas production, along with
Russia, the US has a strong interest in exporting natural gas and
acquiring new markets. Among the exporters of liquid natural gas
(LNG), Qatar is the world leader, with every intention of maintaining
its position, recently opening its North field, believed to be the
largest gas reservoir in the world.
long fostered model that views US imperial interests as served by the
US securing and protecting its access to energy sources, by
guaranteeing energy for its Cold War allies, is in need of a new
look. Today, US interests lie in acquiring markets within the global
economy, competing with other energy suppliers, and creating
political and economic conditions favorable to US suppliers. Oil,
gas, and energy remain central to the imperialist enterprise, but the
roles are shifting in important ways, with important implications.
sought to define that role more clearly in February, when I wrote:
should be clear, then, that the approaching oil independence of the
US, the changing role of the US from consumer to producer, and the
attention to markets-for-oil over sources-for-oil profoundly
influences US strategic policies, including the weakening or souring
relations with other major oil-producing nations like Saudi Arabia
have only strengthened that observation. The rabid, crude
intensification of hostility toward Russia, the renewed demonization
of Iran, the sudden and bizarre isolation of Qatar, and the
heightened aggression in the numerous destabilizing wars throughout
the Middle East underline the evolution of an emerging foreign policy
consistent with securing new energy markets.
introduction and expansion of US military forces to hot spots like
Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan promise little resolution of the
conflicts, but guarantee further instability of energy sources and
the flow of hydrocarbons. The sale of a vast cache of military
weaponry assures the deepening and lengthening of the Saudi incursion
unexpected hostility toward Qatar shown by the other Gulf States in
the wake of Trump’s recent vulgar performance in Riyadh, Saudi
Arabia is likely directed against Qatari global leadership in the
exporting of Liquid Natural Gas, the market that the US hopes to
further penetrate. It is no accident that the Qatari gas fields are
jointly owned with Iran and both countries have cooperated in the
exploitation of the fields and the production of LNG. At the same
time, the Saudis have surrendered in the price war with US shale
drillers. With sovereign wealth shrinking from a costly war and low
oil prices, the Saudis are more interested in finding the best moment
to take ARAMCO public, to sell off portions of the national oil
company and refresh the kingdom’s coffers. The king and his retinue
are content to loyally serve the US in its global mission to command
energy markets. Saudi leadership of OPEC in its fight for market
share with US petroleum producers proved disastrous. The Saudi/OPEC
output cut “has been deemed an OPEC failure and a US production
win,” according to Tony Hendrick of CHS Hedging, as quoted in the
latest US anti-Russia (6-15-17) sanctions are clearly directed at
markets for Russian natural gas. The Senate voted 98-2 to “broaden
sanctions on Russia’s energy sector,” as reported by The
Wall Street journal.
While the message might have been lost on the mainstream media,
wallowing in neo-McCarthyism, and while it might have been missed by
a distracted left, it was not lost on Europeans. They immediately saw
it as an attack on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project that would
bring Russian gas to Germany, Austria and other European countries.
And they saw it for what it was; Germany and Austria immediately
lashed out with a joint statement: “We cannot accept a threat of
extraterritorial sanctions, illegal under international law, against
European companies that participate in developing European energy
added sharply: “Europe’s energy supply is Europe’s business,
not that of the United States of America.” and “The
actual goal [of such sanctions] is to provide jobs for the US gas and
there it is-- naked recognition that US anti-Russian acts are thinly
concealed covers for US imperial goals. The US wants the European gas
business currently done with Russia.
anyone pretend that US imperialism-with-a-new-twist is strictly a
product of Trump, it should be noted that the 98-2 Senate vote was no
aberration. Writing in the Washington
(6-8-17), David Gordon and Michael O’Hanlon-- two solidly connected
Washington insiders-- pointed to “several hopeful signs” with
Trump’s foreign policy. They lauded the President’s national
security team and his stance in the Middle East. They were especially
enthusiastic about his continued belligerence toward Russia.
reckless foreign policy of the Trump administration still deviates
occasionally from the ruling class consensus expressed in the
editorial pages of The
New York Times or
But more and more it is reckless because
it conforms to that consensus. The endless wars and the escalation of
those endless wars are not met with ruling class impatience, but
appear to be more the new global norm.
destabilization of countries and the promotion of sectarianism appear
less as unintended consequences and more as those resulting from the
deliberate, calculated tactics of an imperialist power benefiting
in the classic pre-World War I era of reckless imperialist
competition, US imperialism is aggressively advancing its economic
agenda against rivals, including recent “allies.” The dangers
posed by these intensifying rivalries threaten to spark even more
devastating clashes and widening wars.
history shows one what a misfortune it is for a nation to have
subjugated another nation. All the abominations of the English have
their origin in the Irish Pale.F.
Engels to Marx, 10-24-1869
Britain was the template for colonial imperialism, then Ireland was,
along with aboriginal inhabitants of the New World, its first victims
and, assuredly, its longest suffering. When British elites once
proudly proclaimed that the sun never set on the British Empire, they
neglected to mention that it first cast the ugly shadow of colonial
oppression over Ireland.
there, once things are in the hands of the Irish people itself, once
it is made its own legislator and ruler, once it becomes autonomous,
the abolition of the landed aristocracy… will be infinitely easier…
It is not only a simple economic question, but at the same time a
national question, since the landlords there... [are]... the mortally
hated oppressors of the nation…K.
Marx to L. Kugelmann 11-29-1869
to an invitation to participate in the annualJames
8-14) in Dublin, Ireland, myMLTcolleague
Joe Jamison and I had the pleasure of the better part of a week of
education and comradeship with a number of friends
The annual festival is seven days of music, art, film, theater,
poetry, and politics, concluding with a ceremonial wreath-laying at
the Arbour Hill Cemetery in honor of James Connolly and the other
martyrs of the 1916 Easter Uprising. Organized by the Communist Party
of Ireland and its friends, the annual festival welds culture with
politics in a way that is both entertaining and educational.
festival stresses the long history of Irish struggle against
imperialism, a struggle that continues today against British colonial
influence over the northern six counties, against the supranational
reign of the European Union, and against the economic exploitation of
US multinational corporations that, for example, use Ireland as a tax
James Connolly occupies a central place of honor and inspiration for
Irish Communists and their allies. Connolly’s grasp of the
dialectics of national liberation and socialism was unparalleled for
his time. As few others did, he saw the struggle for an independent
Irish state as organically linked to the emancipation of Irish
workers. As he wrote with great eloquence in 1897:
you remove the English armytomorrowand
hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the
organization of the Socialist Republic your efforts would be in vain.
England would still rule you. She would rule you through her
capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through
the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has
planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and
the blood of our martyrs.
clarity of Connolly’s understanding of imperialism and his
prescient grasp of neo-colonialism anticipates Lenin and the
Bolsheviks in many respects.
comrades and friends advised us of the Communist and left support for
the demands of the Right2water campaign for free and clear public
ownership and use of Ireland’s water resources by all of its
citizens, a campaign that included a national demonstration in Dublin
learned of the role of Irish Communist leaders and allied militants
in support of striking employees of the national bus service, Bus
Éireann. Irish Communists are militantly active in the country’s
trade union movement.
met comrades who physically shut down Shannon International Airport
in order to deter US imperialism’s affront to Irish sovereignty.
When US planes land with troops, supplies or captives, to deliver
torture, death, and destruction to other parts of the world, these
dedicated militants attempt to block runways and accept arrest as a
the ideological front, the Communist Party offers a fine monthly
maintains an excellent bookstore in the heart of Dublin--Connolly
publishes numerous books and pamphlets, and operates a multimedia
bookstore regularly hosts a series of public discussions and debates
on questions relevant to socialism and the working-class movement, a
addition, the Communist Party has sparked a fruitful conversation
with the left wing of the Irish Republican movement, a conversation
that seeks to restore socialism to its place in the tradition of
radical Republican thought. Organized as the Peadar O’Donnell
Socialist Republican Forum, it pays tribute to a man who was a
socialist, union organizer, IRA leader, editor, author, and
internationalist-- once described as “the greatest agitator of his
generation.” Forums are held throughout Ireland.
of the leaders of the Forum, Tommy McKearney, spoke passionately on
May 14 at the solemn ceremony held in the courtyard ofKilmainham
Gaol where James Connolly was executed on May 12, 1916. The event was
sponsored by the Dublin Council of Trade Unions. In his address,
McKearney stressed the unity of Republicanism and socialism. Having
spent 16 years in prison as a leader of the struggle against British
imperialism and participating in the 1980 prison hunger strike, he is
a most suitable spokesperson for the Republican cause. McKearney is
one of Ireland’s leading Marxists as well. His book,The
Provisional IRA: From Insurrection to Parliamentis
an indispensable analysis of the dynamics of the
late-twentieth-century struggles against injustice in the six
concluded our visit that afternoon by participating in the Communist
Party’s commemoration of James Connolly’s execution at Arbour
Hill Cemetery, where the martyrs of the 1916 rebellion are buried.
Jimmy Doran, Dublin District Chairperson of the Communist Party, gave
an inspirational oration:
of political parties and groups claim James Connolly as their
inspiration. James Connolly was a socialist—a Marxist, an
anti-imperialist, an internationalist, and a trade union organiser.
James Connolly would have had no hand, act or part in the 1990
Industrial Relations Act, or “social partnership.” He certainly
would have nothing to do with the prosecution of children for
peaceful protest. Connolly was always on the side of the oppressed,
not the oppressor.
would be down on the runway in Shannon with the anti-war movement,
defending our neutrality and stopping the American war machine
turning Shannon into an aircraft carrier for their genocidal wars.
would have no truck with the imperialism of the European Union, and
he would laugh at the deluded suggestion of using Brexit and
membership of the European Union as a means of uniting the country by
surrendering our national sovereignty and democracy to the
imperialism of the European Union.
Connolly fought and died for a socialist republic, not for the
gombeen [a gombeen is a small-time wheeler dealer, a con
country with a divided people that the counter-revolution installed.
would James Connolly say? James Connolly would say that if humanity
is to survive in Ireland and the world, there is no alternative to
the common good. There is no alternative to public housing. There is
no alternative to public health care. There is no alternative to
peace. There is no alternative to ending world poverty. There is no
alternative to this environment. There is no alternative to decency
and dignity for our people.
there is no alternative.
socialism or barbarism.
only want the earth!
thank Eugene McCartan, General Secretary of the Communist Party of
Ireland, for inviting us to share the warm, generous hospitality of
the Irish comrades.