14 Oct 2020

BMS ep 153: Mark Brennan on Wall Street Corruption, US Imperialism, and Friedman’s Rule

Bob Murphy Show 6 Comments

Audio here, video below:

6 Responses to “BMS ep 153: Mark Brennan on Wall Street Corruption, US Imperialism, and Friedman’s Rule”

  1. random person says:

    Foreign Affairs has some good stuff.

    For example,
    What Really Happened in Congo: The CIA, the Murder of Lumumba, and the Rise of Mobutu
    by Stephen R. Weissman

  2. random person says:

    From about 37 minutes in (apologies if there is any mistake in the transcript)

    if some socialist came along and said oh capitalism you can’t have just the unfettered market when it comes to like mortgage lending because then banks would just be falling over themselves to give loans to people who don’t have a job

    I have never heard anyone who self-identifies as socialist make this argument.

    okay mr socialist we have anything but a free market actually your socialist policy that caused the biggest problem uh federal deposit insurance so you and i truck down to the bank and stick our money in the bank right and how much do we care what they’re lending it out to not one iota right insurance policy which is federal deposit insurance they could be lending that money to furbearing trout farms right that they’re just going to blow up tomorrow and nobody cares you’re covered you’re safe you could not care less so this idea that there’s an unfettered market where banks are lending it’s totally not better because you and i and every other american with money in the bank could not care less with the bank what the risk profile the bank is because we’re insured the government is through a socialist process come in and remove and create an enormous moral hazard taking all the responsibility for you and me to go in there and say wait a minute where’s this money being linked right so right off the bat you can tell the socialists stick it in his ear because it’s not an unfettered market in fact it’s government interference

    I have also never heard a self-identified socialist take credit for FDIC insurance. A search of Jacobinmag, a socialist magazine, reveals an article titled “Long Live the Post Office”, by Shom Mazumder, states, “The creation of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) during the Great Depression prompted many to turn back to private banks, ultimately leading to the end of the Postal Savings System in 1966. But today, in another era of predatory lending and rapacious banks, many are now demanding postal banking for the twenty-first century.” Considering that Shom Mazumder seems to be a fan of postal banking, it doesn’t sound like Shom Mazumder is a fan of the FDIC.


    • random person says:

      Also, it does not appear that self-identified socialists are under any delusion that capitalism is somehow unfettered by government interference.

      For example, Charlie Kimber, on the socialist website Socialist Review, gives a positive review to Lord Leverhulme’s Ghosts, by Jules Marchal.


      Nowhere in the book does Jules Marchal state that he identifies as either a capitalist or a socialist. However, Jules Marchal is very critical both of the Lever Brothers company (and its subsidiary Huileries du Congo
      Beige, or HCB for short), and also of the Belgian colonial government in the Congo, and how both conspired to force Africans to work against their wills.

    • random person says:

      Although Jules Marchal does not, in the book at least, state a self-identification as capitalist or as socialist, Jules Marchal does mention that Emile Vandervelde was the leader of the Belgian socialists, and apparently a government minister sometime around 1930.

      From “The Revolt of the Pende” in Lord Leverhulme’s Ghosts by Jules Marchal,

      Along with information on Vanderhallen’s use of the chicotte, Vandervelde, in his interpellation of June 1932, provides us with the gist of the Jungers report on the causes of the revolt. Vandervelde summarises and comments upon the causes as follows:

      The indirect causes

      1 The unjust exploitation to which the natives living in palm-grove regions were subjected by the CK and by Portuguese traders, along with the abuses and acts of violence to which such exploitation gave rise.

      2 The unjust administrative regime to which these same populations, residing in the south of Kikwit and of Kandale territoire, were subjected by the authorities, entailing excessively onerous taxation, compulsory labour on automobile roads, and the obligation to “produce” despite the too-low prices paid.

      3 The recruiting operations, involving moral and physical violence, by the HCB in Kandale territoire, to which one should add the violent and illegal acts committed by certain government agents, and their violent methods, together with the violent abuses committed by the messengers attached to posts and chefferies and in the pay of territorial administrators and agents, above all in Kandale and particularly in Kasanza …

      The primary cause of the revolt

      Unfortunately there can be little doubt that the activities of CK agents have long caused trouble in the regions which they are “working”, and provoked reprisals on the part of individuals driven to extremes by the ill treatment to which they have been subjected. [Vandervelde is referring here to events occurring prior to 1929.] Where the last two years before the revolt are concerned, there would seem unfortunately to be little doubt that the economic crisis caused the situation to deteriorate still further by placing the commercial agents under an obligation to go on “producing” as much oil or palm nuts as before, although with means reduced by at least half.

      The prices paid to the natives for the palm fruit are so low that, if they continue to supply the European oil mills with them, this is solely because of the force used against them:

      a) directly by the managers of these oil mills (blows, threats, arbitrary arrests, etc.) and by the agents of the colony (orders, threats), “produce” being the order of the day.

      b) indirectly by means of excessive taxation … In order to earn enough to pay taxes which, in the region in which the revolt broke out, amounted to as much as 85 francs, while the sale of the palm fruit would earn them only 3 centimes a kilo, the natives of these regions would need to work not a few days, but three or four months a year …

      At the end of 1931, that is to say, after the revolt, the Department of Colonies received the following information, from an official source:

      Since the revolt, the prices paid the natives for their fruits have not increased anywhere, neither in the CK areas nor in zones dominated by the Portuguese traders. Exploitation continues, indeed, it is more intense than ever, military repression having served to boost oil production in all the trading posts …

      … Having come to this point in an exposition which is intended to be strictly and rigorously objective, I will not try to disguise the painful sense of astonishment I felt at discovering that the Huileries du Congo Belge had some responsibility for the tragic events which, in 1931, culminated in bloodshed in the Kwango. In earlier years I had known Lever, later Lord Leverhulme, a great businessman and philanthropist, quite well. I know that his traditions of philanthropy outlived him, in his European enterprises at any rate. I had been wholly convinced, when he acquired a vast territorial concession in the Kwango, that this would be for the greater good of the colony and of its native peoples. I was anyway influenced by the praises lavished upon Lever by all, or almost all, those who have visited Leverville …

      Nevertheless, as things now stand, we are faced with the weighty question as to whether, behind the proud facade of Leverville, there are not, in that vast and little-visited zone known as the Lusanga area, living and working conditions for imported workers or wages for the natives employed in the cutting of fruits and in porterage, so deplorable that by themselves they serve to explain the overwhelming repugnance felt by local peoples at the thought of going to this region.

      One thing, at any rate, is sure, namely, that the colonial administration possesses documents which reveal, in these territoires, the existence of a system of forcible recruitment, which in the long run could not fail to drive the natives to open revolt.

      Already, prior even to carrying out a full investigation, the following facts should be regarded as well established:

      During the first eight months of 1929, Kandale territoire has supplied the HCB with 356 cutters of fruit. During 1930, it has supplied 987 of them. During the five months of 1931 preceding the revolt, it has supplied around 300 of them.

      Now, who would dispute the extreme seriousness of the following declaration, made by the most senior of the magistrates who have been in a position to see things close to and on the ground [Jungers]:

      “It can be said that virtually all these cutters of fruit were compelled and forced to set out for Leverville, either by their own ‘decorated’ chiefs or directly by the civil servants and agents of the territorial service. How could it be otherwise? No ‘bushman’ knowing something of the tastes and habits of the natives would admit that the latter, when very few things were lacking in their own village, would go and work five or six days’ journey away, abandoning for a six-month term their wives and children, in order to live in conditions which are still for all too many of them quite abominable.”

      It should not be forgotten, indeed, that out of 20,000 workers in the service of the HCB, scarcely 4,000 live in the magnificent camps set up on the river banks and that, according to a witness quoted by President Jungers, a great number of others, living in wretched huts, are simply kept “like animals”.

      One can thus readily understand how the obligation to submit to such recruitments should have played a large part in driving the natives of Kandale to open revolt. All the more so given that it was in large part an attempt at violent recruitment by an agent of the colony, acting on behalf of the HCB, which lit the powder.

      Balance sheet and aftermath

      Vandervelde’s interpellation was based on the Jungers report, although it is not known who gave him access to this secret document. In this same address, he spoke of a terrible repression which caused 500 blacks to lose their lives, among them women and children who died of hunger in the bush. Eight days later, he came up with an exact figure: 550 dead. We shall see in a moment that Crokaert himself spoke of the death of 500 Africans, without counting women and children. How anyway could one hope to estimate the numbers of the latter, since they had died in the bush?

      On the other hand, death did not cease to strike just because the rebels had surrendered. 1,356 persons were arrested, 400 of them in Kilamba and the surrounding area on 6th September. The greater number of these detainees were mustered first of all at the base in Kakobola, where Vanderhallen set the chicotte working for as long as was necessary (40 lashes per session) in order to recover a good part of Balot’s remains.

      On 31st October the number of detainees stood at 637, 372 of them in Kandale, 195 in Kikwit, 40 in Feshi and 30 in Kahemba. I presume that all these detainees had been tortured with the chicotte. They died in great numbers, some “decorated” chiefs among them, according to Vanderhallen, whose supplementary note refers to five such deaths. He also tells us that these chiefs were the last to surrender, itself a good reason for subjecting them to the chicotte. Their death was due to a dishonourable torture inflicted upon them by their masters, who formerly had awarded them subsidies for supplying forced labour to the palm groves. Other Pende chiefs died honourably with their subjects in military engagements, among them, Matemo, the chief of Indele and the chief of Mukuku.

      From the information in the archives regarding figures for Africans thought to have perished in the revolt itself and in the ensuing repression, it seems reasonable to conclude that their number greatly exceeds the 550 quoted by Jungers. A more satisfactory assessment would give us twice the number.
      As for the troops in the Force publique, they would seem to have suffered minor casualties, with just one soldier killed and three badly wounded in the course of their engagements. Two soldiers died in accidents. The troops had all too easy a time of it, save during the initial engagements, those of Kitengo and Kilamba, which were real battles. On 26th June, in Kitengo, they did not yet have machine-guns, and had to retreat towards Pukusu. On 3rd July, in Kilamba, the rebels launched wave after wave of attacks, encircled their adversaries and would perhaps have crushed them, had the latter not managed to set up their machine-guns.

      To my knowledge, the archives contain no information on the manner in which the later engagements were fought. They make it plain that soldiers were harried on several occasions, but do not go into any detail. The villagers often used their bows and arrows, without however doing much damage, and they lacked powder for their muzzle-loaders. They did not set any ambushes. Yet they resisted bravely for long weeks despite a series of merciless police raids.

      • random person says:

        So, apparently, Vandervelde, the leader of the Belgian socialists during that time period, saw the Belgian colonial government, not as “fettering” the exploitation of the Africans, but as enabling that exploitation, by means of taxation, forced recruitment to forced labor, etc.

        • random person says:

          Incidentally, Emile Vandervelde is published by Foreign Affairs magazine. It is telling that in “Ten Years of Socialism in Europe”, published by Foreign Affairs in 1925, Emile Vandervelde refers to the “misadventures of state capitalism instituted by Lenin” and describes state centralization as “the direct exploitation by the state and government of certain industries or services”. He mentions that, “Everywhere complaints arise against the defective organization of the “bureaucratic regimes.””

          Although clearly a prominent socialist of his time period, he also seemed perfectly aware that capitalism includes government involvement, including “exploitation by the state and government”.

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