Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Aug 9 16:08:49 MDT 2003

>And most importantly, two things: 1. the oil industry is a capitalist
>industry, and as such it has absolutely no interest in the production of
>oil.  It's only interest is in the aggrandizement of profit.  It's interest
>is money  2. Proven reserves is not a geological nor asocial scientific
>category-- the industry defines it as a given quantity of oil that can be
>produced with today's technology at today's prices in a specific timeframe
>(usually 10-20 years) and AT AN ESTABLISHED LEVEL OF PROFIT.
>Thus capital sets the terms of its immanent critique.

I speak only for myself on this one, but I am afraid that it is a big
mistake to conflate the interests of the oil industry with that of the
capitalist class as a whole. Or any particular sector for that matter. I
had an exchange with Jonathan Nitzan on pen-l:

 >>I've had a chance to look at these items [articles blaming the US
Petrochemical and military sectors for stepped-up Mideast aggression]. I've
also read the review of their book in the January MR, which is online at
http://www.monthlyreview.org/0103hanieh.htm and heard Nitzan interviewed on
Henwood's radio show. So I do have some familiarity at this point with
their analysis.

Basically, I believe that they overstate the level of autonomy in the oil
and arms sector. In the crudest expression of this sort of thing, you get
Oliver Stone's "explanation" of the assassination of JFK and the supposed
origins of the Vietnam war in cowboy capitalism based in Texas around the
same sectors.

Of course, Nitzan and his partner are much more sophisticated.

In general terms, I would not look to any sector of the US bourgeoisie as
being more bellicose than any other. For example, it might be tempting to
conclude that a war against Iraq is not in the interests of Wall Street
because the Dow-Jones has taken a nose dive in light of investor
uncertainties. This is not really how the ruling class makes decisions.

I believe that Lenin characterized the state as the executive committee of
the bourgeoisie. To assume that Chase Manhattan Bank, Goldman-Sachs,
Equitable Life Insurance Company et al are being under-represented in the
war council would be a mistake. As New Left scholars took great pains to
point out during the Vietnam war, there is an invisible government that
remains in power no matter who gets elected president. Outfits like the
Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, the State
Department, etc. are staffed by the same figures no matter who gets
elected. They are indispensable factors in the decision whether to go to
war or not.<<


I would only now add that even if the Bush White House was not filled with
oil industry bigwigs, there still would be wars, subversion and other forms
of intervention in the Middle East. The US ruling class as a *whole* has a
need to maintain control over oil resources. This is not a function of the
profits of Exxon. It is a function of the long-term strategic interests of
the USA, which has overthrown Mossadegh, installed feudal monarchs, set up
military bases and waged war in order to turn the Arab world into a colony.

Part of the problem in figuring out why the US went to war is that we don't
have access to the court records of the top levels of the US government. If
we could get our hands on a Pentagon Papers for the wars in Iraq, then
maybe we'd have more to work with. Who knows, at the rate things are going,
that might be in the offing.

Louis Proyect, Marxism mailing list: http://www.marxmail.org

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