The European Union was formed out of the European Steel Cartel to control imports…
‘Before you study the economics, study the economists!’
The Comedy of Oil & Other World Wars
e-Con e-News 20-26 February 2022
‘The civil war in Yemen and the coup in Bolivia – both followed a rejection of IMF terms’
– ee Sovereignty, What You Should Know
A comedy worthy of the pen of Aristophanes
is lately being played on the international capital market
– Die Bank, 1913
Sri Lanka is indeed undergoing several comedies – A comedy of capital and oil and you-name-it. Check this week’s mind-boggling mishmash of media news about powercuts (see ee Industry). An avalanche of disinformation and misinformation camouflages the role of monopolies – oil, fertilizer, finance, and yes, media. Imperialist countries once insisted electricity monopolies were the only way to fight the oil trust. This ee looks at the comedy of how cartels, from current to currency, hide their tracks. Some may call them multinational mafia.
This ee Focus also examines the future splintering of India, with the role Tamil Nadu plays in Sri Lanka. As the most-industrialized state in India, Tamil Nadu is slowly but surely dragging Sri Lanka’s home market into its own web, through the sheer centripetal power of its burgeoning industrial economy.
The largest multinational corporation in the country, Unilever Sri Lanka, is after all, under Hindustan Unilever, the largest MNC in India. In the absence of a modern industrial strategy, to undergird independence, there is no alternative but to end up a colony of Bajaj, Tata, et al.
Media reported this week that, India’s Mahindra & Mahindra and ‘local’ Ideal Motors announced ‘the first single cab pickup to be assembled in Sri Lanka’ with ‘over 30% local value additions.’
The news does not examine such local claims. Can such ‘firsts’ transform a merchant economy? Assembly is not modern industry, but preindustrial: like handicraft and manufacture. ‘Exports’ turn out to be expensively dressed imports, especially overpriced machines and parts. Why can’t the media tell us how much of the ‘local value additions’ are raw materials, and how much imported machinery, IPR, etc. Made-in-SL too is being assembled into another ‘comedy’ (see Random Notes).
- In 1796, during their invasion, the English attached the maritime provinces of Lanka to the Madras Presidency, with the East India Co (EIC) administering Ceylon until 1802. The EIC and English government declared military rule under their dual control. The English claimed they were given the right to rule Lanka, from the Dutch, especially over the commercial monopoly. Dutch, Swiss and Malay mercenaries of the Dutch army had crossed over to the English EIC. The English set up Malays soldiers as a Malay Corps, and a semi-military unit of Indian and African soldier-workers as a ‘Pioneer Force’ to terrorize residents, to build roads, bridges, irrigation works into the plantations. The Kandyans claimed, if they’d known about English duplicity earlier, they’d have defeated the Dutch themselves, and not provisioned the English.
The English from Madras imposed an exploitative system of taxation on Lanka. These taxes were collected by oppressive ‘Malabar’ officials. A ‘crowd of adventurers from the coast seeking their fortunes, arrived behind the Malabari officials, and many speculated in tax farming, having purchased most of the rents’. They soon provoked open revolt (see ee Focus, 1796).
- In 2018 the League of Multinational Corporations (LMNC) in Sri Lanka was formed by seven MNCs: Unilever, Ceylon Tobacco Company (CTC, ie, British American Tobacco), Baur & Co, Heineken, HSBC, Indian Oil Co, and Mastercard. These powerful MNCs, with war chests bigger than most countries’ budgets, demanded: ‘Everything needs to be fixed in the context of international standards, in terms of human rights & labor law too.’ And ‘fixing’, as in fraud, is what they do best.
The IMF, World Bank, Asian Development Bank and consortia of a commercial banks (that nurture the import mafia) are utilizing all the present crises they have manufactured (debt, energy, prolonged pandemic) to strengthen domination by multinational capital.
It is therefore curious that throughout these recent media-driven hullabaloos over pesticides, petrol & dollar droughts, the LMNC seem to be maintaining a rather clangourous silence.
Last ee looked at the origins of the modern forces preventing positive transformation of the village. Chemical cartels are leading the attack on present agrochemical policies. Today as powercuts combine with petroleum & food & dollars, we have to see through the brilliant darkness: how the import merchants and officials act as MNC business and political agents, linking to the electricity and other cartels – of petroleum & mining & food, of the transport industry, from ships to vehicles to planes, to the old coal, iron & steel, and to logisticians and accountants, and their banks. Such agglomerations belie all claims to free trade. This ee examines the operations and language of major cartels, that hides them in plain sight.
The modern European Union first arose out of the plan for a European steel cartel. Europe always was and is a weapon aimed at the rest of the world. Steel and its productions still steels its core.
- ‘There are a lot of discussions of sanctions against Russia and every western country is trying to get as much exemptions for its industries as possible. The USA has, for example, exempted everything that has to do with hydrocarbons from its own sanction package. It will still buy Russian oil and continue to sell drilling equipment to Russia.’ – ee Sovereignty, Disarming
- ‘The massive – and desperate – US offensive against the world order is entering a new phase, as the US prepares to resume its historical status as global energy superpower. A US-colonized German government (Germany pays to keep thousands of US troops on its soil) cancelled the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which would have delivered cheap Russian natural gas to Europe. The big winners are US natural gas companies. Washington’s strategy is to permanently ratchet up tensions to ‘new cold war’ levels to justify sanctions against Russian energy exports, while exploiting the US’s own natural gas ‘surplus’ as an enhanced weapon of global hegemony. Germany and Japan meanwhile are shining their jackboots for their next imperialist adventures’. (ee Sovereignty, Gas Russia into Silence)
- US to deliver MCC ‘gift’ to Nepal only after Feb 28 ultimatum: On February 9, the US Embassy in Nepal proclaimed a $500million MCC grant as ‘a gift from the American people and a partnership between the two nations that will bring jobs and infrastructure to Nepal and improve the lives of Nepalis’.
On February 10, US Assistant State Secretary Donald Lu held separate telephone conversations with Nepal’s leaders, urging them to endorse the MCC pact by February 28, or Washington would ‘review its ties with Nepal’. Wielding such democratic credentials, Lu is due in Sri Lanka in March, to blather ‘human rights.’
This and other Geneva gabble takes place as the US bombed Somalia this week, and escalated threats against Ethiopia and Eritrea, while Israel bombed Syria, and Saudi Arabia bombed Yemen. Sparse coverage in Sri Lanka also continues about the white war on Myanmar. Ignoring Ukrainian attacks on Russia, the media also only reported Russia’s response.
- It’s not a sales job it’s a blow job: The new US envoy’s entrée was accompanied by great whoosh of a west wind. The first news blast reported, US company Textron Aviation was awarded an $11million contract for its new Beechcraft King Air 360ER aircraft: ‘The plane will be delivered through a foreign military sales contract to Sri Lanka with production set to be completed by September 2025. The aircraft will be handed over to the US Army, which will install sensors before delivering it to the Sri Lankan Air Force.’ The next minute, we hear the US is donating – ‘FOC’ (Free of Charge) – not just one but 2 of those military aircraft! If it’s a gift, why mention the cost? And what about parts and repair?
Their economists always hector, ‘There’s no free lunch.’ So, let’s see what’s going on in the kitchen: Ageing machinery ‘donated’ to Sri Lanka from a company gone bankrupt. In 1994 US warmonger Raytheon merged Beechcraft with the Hawker brand (bought from British Aerospace, 1993), forming Raytheon Aircraft Co. 2006, Raytheon sold Raytheon Aircraft to Goldman Sachs, creating Hawker Beechcraft (more in Random Notes).