… A transnational corporation or bank, with huge global assets, embodies the economic system we live under. Transnational corporations are units for the production and accumulation of profit, like Toyota or Exxon-Mobil assembling cars or drilling for oil. In the case of banks, they’re units for maximizing financial profits from far-flung operations. A corporation is an instrument for the organized exploitation of wage labor.
It is an instrument through which markets are penetrated and cornered, through which resources are grabbed, like the oil companies going into the Arctic. These corporations and banks are instruments–but not the only instrument–of ownership and control by the capitalist class.
The point I’m making is that these corporations and banks are pieces–and not the only pieces–on a global chessboard of capitalist-imperialism. And this chessboard, this brutal playing field, operates according to certain rules of the game. It’s like basketball or soccer: there are rules of the game. If a basketball player kicked the ball like a soccer player to get it down-court, the whole game would break down. Let’s look at those rules:
Capitalism Operates According to Certain Rules:
- Everything is a commodity and everything must be done for profit. Everything under capitalism is produced in order to be exchanged, to be sold. Things have to be useful to be sold. But what’s actually produced, and how it’s produced, is measured and motivated by profit: whether it’s housing, computers, medicine, energy, whatever. And profit comes from the exploitation of billions of human beings on this planet.
- Criminally, under capitalism, the environment–like the rainforest in Ecuador where Texaco drilled for oil–is something to be seized and plundered for profit.
- Capitalist production is privately owned and driven forward by the commandment “expand or die.” Exxon-Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell, or Credit Suisse and JP Morgan Chase are fighting each other for market share. They are driven to extend investments and cheapen costs, not mainly due to personal greed, but because if they don’t expand and keep accumulating profit and more profit for their war chests, if they don’t more ruthlessly exploit labor on a world scale, they won’t stay alive–they’ll go under or be gobbled up.
- Competition runs through this whole system. It’s beat or be beaten. When BP was cleaning up the oil spill, you didn’t see other oil companies coming to share expertise and oceanographic equipment. No, these other companies wanted to take advantage of the situation–Shell and Exxon-Mobil were reportedly “licking their chops” at the possibility of gobbling up BP. This “expand or die” compulsion leads to bigger and more powerful units of capital.
- Is the drive for global control and dominance. Capitalism is a worldwide system. There’s a great divide in the world between the imperialist and oppressed countries. On this global playing field corporations and banks compete for global influence and control, like the oil corporations going off the coast of West Africa or Nigeria. But the most intense form of rivalry is between contending world powers for strategic position and advantage–over regions, markets, and resources. This has led to wars of conquest, like what the U.S. did in the Philippines, or the French in Algeria, or the U.S. invasion of Iraq. And this drive for global control and domination led two world wars.
…. (full text).