In the current world, capitalism reigns supreme. Since the Soviet Union folded and China turned semi-capitalist, the centre of power is capitalist. The biggest economy and best financed military are those of the USA, which is a very capitalist country. On top of that, the capitalist companies have grown more and more trans-national, overpowering many states. Trans national companies like General Electric, Toyota and Royal Dutch Shell are bigger than many countries, and have much less liabilities. So their world wide power supersedes many governments, and certainly the government of many African States, which tend to have small economies, and less functional government structures than many western and Asian countries.
Capitalism can never be static, it needs to grow. (readers: if you need an explanation of this, I can give it, so give me feedback and I can write a blog entry on it). If capitalism does not grow, it quickly goes into crisis. We saw this in 1929 with the Great Depression. The crisis of 2008 was limited thanks to the Obama interventions in the economy.
If we look at the time period from the Great Depression, we see a steady overall growth of the capitalist world economy, save for some dips. This has gone through a number of stages. First in the 1930s President Roosevelt created growth with his “New Deal” policy, and other countries followed the example. Then the Second World War created growth. After that came the “economic miracle” of Germany, Japan and Italy. The losers of the war became the winners of peace. Other capitalist countries in western Europe benefited from the US Marshall plan, and grew their economies. During this time of steady growth, it was possible to improve the incomes of both the proletarian class and the capitalist class: the total amount of money grew, and each could get their share. Even African countries after independence did get some share of this wealth, think of the Kamuzu Banda years.
But around 1975 this stalled: the capitalist world economy of that time did not offer enough opportunities for the capitalist class to profitably invest their money. The proletarian class used their trade union power to prevent the capitalist class from pushing the cost of the crisis on the proletarians. The economy stalled.
The union power was broken in the 1980s by the likes of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. They pushed many proletarians back into poverty. They created mass unemployment and worsened working conditions for the lower paid. For the capitalist class they created investment opportunities by selling off the government companies (“privatization”). In the UK the mines were closed causing mass unemployment, the railways and other State companies were sold off. In the US a start was made with the privatization of the army (“private military contractors”) and prisons (prison industrial complex). African countries were subjected to “Structural Adjustment Programs”, which meant selling off State wealth to capitalists. This lowered the quality of services the government offered the population (like jobs, health care, education, policing). The poor were pushed into ever worse poverty, while the capitalist class amassed more and more wealth. Income inequality over the whole globe soared.
After most public wealth in developed countries as well as developing countries was sold off, capitalists were still looking for more investment opportunities, to reinvest the wealth they had extracted from the public (and public companies). Then the Soviet Union folded, and many investment opportunities came up in former communist countries. A bonanza of selling off government companies created a lot of wealth for the few rich, and a lot of poverty for the population.
When this bonanza was finished, the capitalist class had more wealth then ever to invest, and they kept looking for opportunities. These were created by the then GW Bush government in the US in the form of the “Global War On Terror” (GWOT). Iraq was a very wealthy country because of their large oil reserves, but the Saddam Hussein government did not allow western companies to tap off its wealth. The Bush government decided to invade Iraq to open up its economy for western companies, oil and otherwise. (Their pretext of “Weapons of Mass Destruction” has been proven to be a lie). Companies like (then Vice President) Cheney’s Halliburton received fabulously profitable government contracts to wage war in Iraq.
Now that the gust has gone out of the Iraq war, the capitalists are looking for more investment opportunities. There are few places in the world that have not been subjected to their greed. Iran is a candidate, and predictably President Trump is starting a quarrel with them. Otherwise, North Korea is not very attractive: heavily defended and a very small economy. So that leaves one continent: Africa.
The US are increasing their involvement with Africa by means of Africom, the US army’s presence in our continent. Is this a precursor of invasions like the one in Iraq? We may hope not…