The Ascent of
a New Power Bloc:
Capitalists, Technocrats and Fanatics
By James Petras
2014 " ICH "
sweeping electoral victory of the Bharatiya Janata
Party (BJP) in India is the latest expression of the
world-wide advance of a new power bloc which
promises to impose a New World Order harnessing
ethno-religious fanaticism and narrowly trained
technocrats to capitalist absolutism.
is no longer at the margins of western political
discourse. It is center-stage. It is no longer
dependent on contributions by local militants; it
receives financing from the biggest global
corporations. It is no longer dismissed by the mass
media. It receives feature coverage, highlighting
its ‘dynamic and transformative’ leadership.
capitalists everywhere confront great uncertainty,
as markets crash and endemic corruption at the
highest levels erode competitive markets.
Throughout the world, large majorities of the labor
force question, challenge and resist the massive
transfers of public wealth to an ever reduced
oligarchy. Electoral politics no longer define the
context for political opposition.
neither in theory nor practice, advances through
reason and prosperity. It relies on executive
fiats, media manipulation and arbitrary police state
intrusions. It increasingly relies on death squads
dubbed “Special Forces” and a ‘reserve army’ of para-military
The new power
bloc is the merger of big business, the wealthy
professional classes, upwardly mobile, elite trained
technocrats and cadres of ethno-religious fanatics
who mobilize the masses.
imperialism advances by uprooting millions,
destroying local communities and economies,
undermining local trade and production, exploiting
labor and repressing social solidarity. Everywhere
it erodes community and class solidarity.
Ethno-Religious Fanatics and Elite Technocrats
capitalism depends on two seemingly disparate
forces. The irrational appeal of ethno-religious
supremacists and narrowly trained elite technocrats
to advance the rule of capital. Ethno-religious
fanatics seek to promote bonds between the
corporate-warlord elite and the masses, by appealing
to their ‘common’ religious ethnic identities.
technocrats serve the elite by developing the
information systems, formulating the images and
messages deceiving and manipulating the masses and
designing their economic programs.
leaders meet with the corporate elite and warlords
to set the political-economic agenda, deciding when
to rely on the technocrats and when to moderate or
unleash the ethno-religious fanatics.
operates via the marriage of science and
ethno-religious fanaticism- and both are harnessed
to capitalist domination and exploitation.
Billionaires, Hindu Fascists and IT “Savants”
election of Narendra Modi, leader of the BJP and
long-time member of the Hindu fascist Rashtriya
Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) para-military organization
was based on three essential components:
Multi-billion rupee funding from corporate India at
home and abroad.
Thousands of upwardly mobile IT technocrats mounting
a massive propaganda campaign.
Hundreds of thousands of RSS activists spreading the
“Hindutva” racist doctrine among millions of
regime promises his capitalist backers that he will
“open India”-- namely end the land reserves of the
tribes, convert farmland to industrial parks,
deregulate labor and environmental controls.
the Brahmin elite he promises to end compensatory
quotas for lower castes, the untouchables, the
minorities and Muslims. For the Hindu fascists he
promises more temples. For foreign capitalists he
promises entry into all formerly protected economic
sectors. For the US, Modi promises closer working
relations against China, Russia and Iran ... . . The
BJP’s ethno-religious Hindu fanaticism resonates
with Israel’s notion of a “pure”Jewish state. Modi
and Netanyahu have longstanding ties and promise
close working relations based on similar
Transition to Islamic-Capitalist Authoritarianism
Turkey under the rule of Erdogan’s Justice and
Development Party has moved decisively toward
one-man rule: linking Islam to big capital and
police state repression. Erdogan’s ‘triple
alliance’ is intent on unleashing mega-capitalist
projects, based on the privatization of public
spaces and the dispossession of popular
neighborhoods. He opened the door to unregulated
privatization of mines, communications, banks –
leading to exponential growth of profits and the
decline of employment security and a rising toll of
worker deaths. Erdogan has shed the mask of
‘moderate Islam’ and embraced the jihadist
mercenaries invading Syria and legislation expanding
religious prerogatives in secular life. Erdogan has
launched massive purges of journalists, public
officials, civil servants, judges and military
officers. He has replaced them with ‘party
loyalists’; Erdogan fanatics!
Erdogan has recruited a small army of technocrats
who design his mega projects and provide the
political infrastructure and programs for his
electoral campaigns. Technocrats provide a
development agenda that accommodates the foreign
and domestic crony corporate elite.
The Anatolian Islamists, small and medium provincial
business elite, form the mass base – mobilizing
voters, by appealing to chauvinist and ethnocentric
beliefs. Erdogan’s repressive, Islamist, capitalist
regime’s embrace of the “free market” has been
sharply challenged especially in light of the worst
mining massacre in Turkish history: the killing of
over 300 miners due to corporate negligence and
regime complicity. Class polarization threatens the
advance of Turkish fascism.
the “Jewish State”: Billionaires , Ethno-Religious
Fanatics and Technocrats
Israel, according to its influential promoters in
the US, is a ‘model democracy’. The public
pronouncements and the actions of its leaders
thoroughly refute that notion. The driving force of
Israeli politics is the idea of dispossessing and
expelling all Palestinians and converting Israel
into a ‘pure’ Jewish state. For decades Israel,
funded and colonized by the diaspora, have violently
seized Palestinian lands, dispossessed millions and
are in the process of Judaizing what remains of the
remnant in the “Occupied Territories”.
The Israeli economy is dominated by billionaires.
Its “society” is permeated by a highly militarized
state. Its highly educated technocrats serve the
military-industrial and ethno-religious elite. Big
business shares power with both.
High tech Israeli’s apply their knowledge to
furthering the high growth, military industrial
complex. Medical specialists participate in testing
the endurance of Palestinian prisoners undergoing
torture (“interrogation”). Highly trained
psychologists engage in psych-warfare to gain
collaborators among vulnerable Palestinian
families. Economists and political scientists, with
advanced degrees from prestigious US and British
universities (and ‘dual citizenship’) formulate
policies furthering the land grabs of neo-fascist
settlers. Israel’s best known novelist, Amos Oz
condemned the neo-fascist settlers who defecate on
the embers of burnt-out mosques.
Billionaire real estate moguls bid up house prices
and rents “forcing” many “progressive” Israelies,
who occasionally protest, to take the easy road of
moving into apartments built on land illegally and
violently seized from dispossessed Palestinians.
‘Progressives’ join neo-fascist vigilantes in common
colonial settlements. Prestigious urbanologists
further the goals of crude ethno-racist political
leaders by designing new housing in Occupied Lands.
Prominent social scientists trade on their US
education to promote Mid-East wars designed by
Euro American Empire : Riff-Raff of the World Unite!
Empire building is a dirty business. And while the
political leaders directing it, feign respectability
and are adept at rolling out the moral platitudes
and high purposes, the ‘combatants’ they employ are
a most unsavory lot of armed thugs, journalistic
verbal assassins and highly respected international
jurists who prey on victims and exonerate imperial
recent years Euro-American warlords have employed
“the scum of the slaughterhouse” to destroy
political adversaries in Libya, Syria and the
Libya lacking any semblance of a respectable
middle-class democratic proxy, the Euro-American
empire builders armed and financed murderous tribal
bands, notorious jihadist terrorists, contrabandist
groups, arms and drug smugglers. The Euro-Americans
counted on a pocketful of educated stooges holed up
in London to subdue the thugs, privatize Libya’s oil
fields and convert the country into a recruiting
ground and launch pad for exporting armed
mercenaries for other imperial missions.
The Libyan riff-raff were not satisfied with a
paycheck and facile dismissal: they murdered their
US paymaster, chased the technocrats back to Europe
and set-up rival fiefdoms. Gadhafi was murdered,
but so went Libya as a modern viable state. The
arranged marriage of Euro-American empire builders,
western educated technocrats and the armed riff-raff
was never consummated. In the end the entire
imperial venture ended up as a petty squabble in the
American Congress over who was responsible for the
murder of the US Ambassador in Benghazi.
The Euro-American-Saudi proxy war against Syria
follows the Libyan script. Thousands of Islamic
fundamentalists are financed, armed, trained and
transported from bases in Turkey, Jordan, Saudi
Arabia, Iraq and Libya to violently overthrow the
Bashar Assad government in Syria. The world’s most
retrograde fundamentalists travel to the
Euro-American training bases in Jordan and Turkey
and then proceed to invade Syria, seizing towns,
executing thousands of alleged ‘regime loyalists’
and planting car bombs in densely populated city
The fundamentalist influx soon overwhelmed the
London based liberals and their armed groups.
The jihadist terrorists fragmented into warring
groups fighting over the Syrian oil fields.
Hundreds were killed and thousands fled to
Government controlled regions. Euro-US strategists,
having lost their original liberal mercenaries,
turned toward one or another fundamentalist groups.
No longer in control of the ‘politics’ of the
terrorists, Euro-US strategists sought to inflect
the maximum destruction on Syrian society.
Rejecting a negotiated settlement, the Euro-US
strategists turned their backs on the internal
political opposition challenging Assad via
the Ukraine, the Euro-Americans backed a junta of
servile neo-liberal technocrats, oligarchical
kleptocrats and neo-Nazis, dubbed Svoboda and the
Right Sector. The latter were the “shock troops” to
overthrow the elected government, massacre the
federalist democrats in Odessa and the eastern
Ukraine, and back the junta appointed oligarchs
serving as “governors”.
The entire western mass media white-washed the
savage assaults carried out by the neo-Nazis in
propping up the Kiev junta. The powerful presence
of the neo-fascists in key ministries, their
strategic role as front line fighters attacking
eastern cities controlled by pro-democracy
militants, establishes them as central actors in
converting the Ukraine into a military outpost of
Empire Building and the Role of Riff-Raff
Everywhere the Euro-American imperialists choose to
expand – they rely on the ‘scum of the earth’:
tribal gangs in Libya, fundamentalist terrorists in
Syria, neo-Nazis in the Ukraine.
it by choice or necessity? Clearly few consequential
democrats would lend themselves to the predatory and
destructive assaults on existing regimes which
Euro-US strategists design. In the course of
imperial wars, the local producers, workers,
ordinary citizens would “self-destroy”, whatever the
outcome. Hence the empire builders look toward
‘marginal groups’, those with no stake in society or
economy. Those alienated from any primary or
secondary groups. Footloose fundamentalists fit
that bill – provided they are paid, armed and
allowed to carry their own ideological baggage.
Neo-Nazis hostile to democracy have no qualms about
serving empire builders who share their ideological
hostility to democrats, socialists, federalists and
culturally ‘diverse’ societies and states. So they
are targeted for recruitment by the empire builders.
The riff-raff consider themselves ‘strategic allies’
of the Euro-American empire builders. The latter,
however, have no strategic allies – only
strategic interests. Their tactical alliances
with the riff-raff endure until they secure control
over the state and eliminate their adversaries.
Then the imperialist seek to demote, co-opt,
marginalize or eliminate their ‘inconvenient’
riff-raff allies. The falling out comes about when
the fundamentalists and neo-Nazis seek to restrict
capital, especially foreign capital and impose
restrictions on imperial control over resources and
territory. At first the empire builders seek
‘opportunists’ among the riff-raff, those willing to
sacrifice their ‘ideals’ for money and office.
Those who refuse are relegated to secondary
positions distant from strategic decision-making or
to remote outposts. Those who resist are
assassinated or jailed. The disposal of the
riff-raff serves the empire on two counts. It
provides the client regime with a fig leaf of
respectability and disarms western critics targeting
the extremist component of the junta.
The riff-raff, however, with arms, fighting
experience and financing, in the course of struggle,
gains confidence in its own power. They do not
easily submit to Euro-US strategies. They also have
‘strategic plans’ of their own, in which they seek
political power to further their ideological agenda
and enrich their followers.
The riff-raff, want to ‘transition’ from shock
troops of empire into rulers in their own right.
Hence the assaults on the US embassy in Libya, the
assassination of Euro-American proxies in Syria,
Right Sector riots against the Kiev junta.
new power bloc is emerging on a global scale. It is
already flexing its muscles. It has come to power
in India, Turkey, Ukraine and Israel. It brings
together big business, technocrats and
ethno-religious fascists. They promote unrestrained
capitalist expansion in association with
Scientists, economists, and IT specialists design
the programs and plans to realize the profits of
local and foreign capitalists. The ethno-fascists
mobilize the ‘masses’ to attack minorities and class
organizations threatening high rates of returns.
The Euro-Americans contribute to this ‘new power
bloc’ by promoting their own ‘troika’ made up of
‘neo-liberal clients’, fundamentalists and neo-Nazis
to overthrow nationalist adversaries. The advance
of imperialism and capitalism in the 21 st
century is based on the harnessing of the most
advanced technology and up-to-date media outlets
with the most retrograde political and social
leaders and ideologies.
is a retired Bartle Professor of Sociology at
Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York and
adjunct professor at Saint Mary's University,
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.