Global Financial Diplomacy and the Empire of Economics
By: Andrew Gavin Marshall
30 March 2015
The world of Global Financial Governance and Diplomacy is a world of empire, power politics, colonialism, war and destruction. Its brutal functions are veiled behind the dull, technocratic language of economics and finance, obscuring behind rhetoric the realities of ideology, actions and effects. It is an empire built by war, waged not with bombs and bullets but with numbers on screens and other illusions. Through the flow, management and direction of money and debt (representing what we call ‘financial markets’), nations are raised up and pushed down, countries prosper and plunder, people are enriched and impoverished, societies are structured, shaped and dismantled.
At the center of this system are the banks, asset management firms, oligarchs and financial dynasties that together control the network – or cartel – of the Global Financial Mafia. A network of roughly 150 of the world’s largest financial institutions collectively control each other and a significant percentage of the network of the world’s largest 47,000 transnational corporations. This unprecedented global financial power concentrated in a relatively small list of banks, insurance companies and asset management firms is itself controlled by rich and powerful individuals and families: the core constituency of the world of Global Financial Governance.
As with every imperial system, a form of State Power is needed, as only nations have sovereign authority and accepted legitimacy. The global imperial system is multi-faceted and complex, though the most obvious areas of operation are in the ministries and departments of powerful nations concerned with foreign policy, military and defense, intelligence and ‘national security’. The largest military power in human history is the United States. Its foreign policy apparatus spans the globe, with hundreds of military bases in foreign nations, aircraft carriers, destroyers, air fields and fighter jets, entire fleets spread out across the Oceans. Large military occupations and bombing campaigns are waged by America (and its key allies) in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia. Hundreds of millions live under the brutal authority of dictators and tyrants, propped up with money and weapons from the powerful nations. International Relations is, in truth, a lobotomized label to describe a game of empire and power politics.
It is an imperial system overseen and managed not simply by presidents and prime ministers, but by foreign ministers, Secretaries of State, defense ministers, intelligence and military chiefs. The foreign ministers promote the nation’s interests and policies abroad, working to build alliances with other nations and undermine those who defy the demands of the imperial power. If the diplomats are unable to solve the situation, the military and intelligence chiefs move to the front. Collectively, they strategize and implement policies designed to advance the imperial power interests of their home nation. It is a function and reality of all empires through history that there are official positions of authority dedicated to the planning and implementation of ‘foreign relations’, of protecting and advancing the interests of the empire. At times this calls for cooperation with other empires, at times it calls for competition, and at times it calls for conquering and occupation. It is an historical and present reality of Empire.
But distinct to the modern global imperial system – which is to say, distinct to the ‘democratic-capitalist’ system of nations – is the scope and structure of the financial and economic system of imperialism. It is a complex system, dominated by many – often conflicting and competing – interests, with state power being exercised by financial and economic diplomats: finance ministers, treasury chiefs, central bankers, trade ministers, and the heads of regional and international organizations.
Foreign and Defense Ministers are most concerned with the “stability” of the ‘international system.’ Stability, however, has a particular definition. In the case of empire, stability means that the interests of the imperial power are safe and secure. Occupied populations are passive, “friendly” dictators are secure in their positions, and Western corporations and banks are able to influence and profit off of foreign policies and programs. This is, by definition, a state of “stability.” Nations that do not follow the instructions (or “advice”) on how to govern their nations and behave in the international arena are seen as a threat to the ‘stability’ of the global system. Order, then, must be restored, even if it means through war.
Foreign policy officials are largely drawn from and frequently remain within the foreign policy establishment: influential universities, think tanks, foundations and research organizations that ‘educate’ and employ those who are interested in ‘foreign policy’. With individuals drifting back and forth from these institutions into government agencies, the foreign policy establishment shapes the ideology, language, objectives and policies of powerful nations. But because we live in the ‘post-colonial’ world, where outright declarations and endorsements of empire and imperialism are no longer publicly acceptable (as it was in past centuries), the language and rhetoric of foreign policy must be made inaccessible for most people to understand (for those without a proper ‘education’).
In nations or regions of imperial interest and action (which is to say, the entire world), foreign policy figures talk of destabilization, radicalization, threats to ‘national security’, attacks against democracy and freedom. Behind the ‘democratic’ rhetoric lies the brutal power politics that have guided nation states and empires since their origins: Who shall rule, and in what way, through what means, and to what ends?
As a corollary to the world of political diplomacy and the foreign policy establishment there is the world of financial diplomacy and the financial policy establishment. Finance ministers, central bankers and other technocrats are most worried about the threat to the global financial system, and above all else, declare their desire to see ‘stability’ and ‘growth’ in the global financial and economic system.
If the interests of ‘financial markets’ or the global economic system are not served by certain nations or regions, then the global financial diplomats do their best to integrate these regions into the ‘global system’. Over the decades and centuries, this system has extended its influence across most of the world. This is the system of Global Financial Governance, itself a product of and supported by the financial (and economic) policy establishment: universities, think tanks, foundations, and research organizations that ‘educate’ and employ the members of the economic establishment. Officials pass through these institutions into finance ministries, central banks and international organizations. And just as with the foreign policy establishment, the financial diplomats also integrate with and pass through the revolving doors between academia, think tanks, state institutions, international organizations, as well as to and from the boards of corporations and big banks, with larger paychecks, hefty financial holdings, shares, directorships and cushy consulting jobs, rewarded for their years of service to the financial and corporate world.
Just as in the foreign policy world, the world of financial diplomacy and economic policy must obscure its imperial interests and ambitions behind incomprehensible ‘technocratic’ rhetoric, understood only to those who have received the proper ‘education’ and ‘expertise’ to understand the complex world of economics and finance. They do not speak of empire, exploitation and domination, but of austerity, structural reform, deficit reduction, interest rate adjustment, labour flexibility and ‘market discipline’. They do not desire to control colonies, but rather, to foster the development of ‘market economies’. They speak not of threats to ‘national security’, but the threats of ‘market instability’. Their version of promoting ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’ is to champion ‘free markets’ and ‘free trade’.
Financial diplomats do not send weapons or armies to tyrants and regions seeking to maintain and extend their influence and domination. Instead, they send money and teams of technocrats to advise and implement programs of ‘fiscal consolidation’ and ‘structural adjustment’ with the desire for stability and ‘growth’. They do not bomb and conquer; they privatize and deregulate. They do not occupy, they ‘consolidate’. They do not colonize, they ‘liberalize’.
Behind the words, terms and technical details, lies a world of empire and domination, power politics and colonization. It is a brutal, unforgiving world; far more advanced, globalized and institutionalized than its foreign policy counterparts. It is more directly connected and representative of the networked ‘core’ of the global financial system: concentrated corporate and financial power. For this reason, financial diplomats maintain regular contact and interaction with leading institutions and individuals who represent this core of financial power: the Global Financial Mafia.
It is this world of global financial diplomacy and governance – the financial policy establishment – and its related institutions and interests which is the chief focus of my upcoming book, and which will be the primary focus of a sample chapter I am currently raising funds to support. With a goal of $500, I have thus far raised $200 to support the writing of a sample chapter in a book on these subjects (and much more!). For an expanded list of topics to be discussed, please see this previous posting here.
The objective is to place the unnecessarily complex world of economic and finance in the context of its real-world role (as opposed to the fantasy world of its rhetoric and ideology): a world of empire, tyranny, colonization, conquering, mass destruction and control. Foreign ministers and politicians, military generals and intelligence chiefs are always concerned with the rumbling and rising masses of people in the world, the potential for revolutions and uprisings against tyrants long-supported by our “democratic” nations, armed to the teeth with aid from our “humanitarian” foreign policies. Finance ministers and central bankers are also concerned with the restless and rising populations around the world, with those who take to the streets, resist austerity, protest, riot, rebel and revolt against neoliberalism and the global financial order which takes so much from so many and gives to those who already have the most.
This is the Empire of Economics, a world ruled by a Mafiocracy, leaving mangled nations and impoverished populations in its wake, with billionaire bankers and private family dynasties dominating global wealth and the power that comes with it. In short, it is a world not unlike those that came before, but it is ours to understand and to take a stand if we hope to change it. If these subjects interest you, please consider making a donation to support my writing, and the completion of a sample chapter within the next month which I will make available for all to read.
Thank you kindly,
Andrew Gavin Marshall