How America Impoverished the 90%
Their poverty is a feature, not a bug
The doctrine of developmentalism – that countries develop best by educating their people, fostering strong domestic markets and imposing high tariffs on imports – enjoyed a golden age postwar. By 1969, says Naomi Klein, the Southern Cone looked more European than Third World. Workers in new factories formed strong unions that negotiated middle-class salaries and their children went off to study at new public universities. By the Fifties, Argentina had the largest middle class in South America, while Uruguay provided free health care to its 95% literate people.
Ike’s War On Development
Since developmentalism is rooted in equality, justice and independence, the US painted it as the first step towards godless communism, forever tarnishing it in Americans minds. Then, in 1953, President Eisenhower launched the war on development by appointing the Dulles brothers – who had represented the Cuban Sugar Cane Co. and United Fruit Co. – as Secretary of State and CIA Director.
When Iran elected a fervent developmentalist President, Mohammad Mossadegh, Eisenhower and the Dulles set out to destroy him and his country, a project that remains a White House priority.
Ike’s anti-development policy was called Capitalist Modernization Theory: Western societies are inherently progressive in ways older civilizations can never be, and the wealth they generate is distributed unevenly because some people work harder than others. But the only road to economic evolution and social modernization leads through free trade, individual effort and capitalism, and those who stray from the path will be destroyed.
So thorough was the anti-developmentalist campaign that the US carried its attack to the UN, where it blocked all resolutions recognizing food, shelter and national development as human rights. Learning of this a horrified Harold Pinter wrote,
The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis. "U.S. foreign policy is best defined as follows: kiss my arse or I’ll kick your head in. It is as simple and as crude as that. What is interesting about it is that it’s so incredibly successful. It possesses the structures of disinformation, use of rhetoric, distortion of language, which are very persuasive, but are actually a pack of lies. It is very successful propaganda. They have the money, they have the technology, they have all the means to get away with it, and they do.” – Nobel Prize lecture, 1958.
To keep developmentalism dormant, the US systematically destroyed developing economies and assassinated defiant leaders. To this day, the Joint Chiefs reassure the nation that they are ready to nuke China for having the audacity to develop its economy.
Enter the Dragon
Mao, a passionate developmentalist, had offered to travel to Washington in 1944 to talk with President Roosevelt, “China must develop. This can only be done by free enterprise. Chinese and American interests fit together, economically and politically. America need not fear that we will not be co-operative. We cannot risk any conflict”. Mao’s message never reached the President so, in 1949, he wrote Truman, then Eisenhower. Both ignored him. Says economic historian Maurice Meisner,
Starting with an industrial base smaller than that of Belgium's in 1952, the China that for so long was ridiculed as "the sick man of Asia" emerged at the end of the Mao period as one of the six largest industrial producers in the world, comparable to the industrialization of Germany, Japan, and Russia.
In Germany the rate of economic growth 1880-1914 was 33% per decade.
In Japan from 1874-1929 the rate of increase per decade was 43%.
The Soviet Union from 1928-58 achieved a decadal increase of 54%.
In Mao’s China from 1952-72 the decadal rate was 64%.
By maintaining Mao’s breakneck pace for seventy years, China has created the largest and most complete (war-fighting) economy on earth – so resilient that, in the face of embargoes and threats, its trade has grown by $1 trillion under the embargoes and the economy by $1.6 trillion this year alone.
Washington’s last stand?
China’s development represents a defeat far more consequential than America’s combined losses in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Ukraine. China not only defied America and developed, but is supplanting it as leader of the world.