Genocide of the Poorest of the Poor

Total war from above and the outside breeds total war from the inside and below

Professor James Petras
Today,  the ‘poorest of the poor’ are superfluous to empire and thus the policy  of genocide. The current world war between the classes has become a war  between exterminators and those who would fight to survive!

‘The war and its results have turned Yemen back a hundred years,  due to the destruction of infrastructure . . . especially in the  provinces of Oden, Dhalea and Taiz.’- Izzedine al-Asbali, Yemeni Human Rights Minister
‘Yemen is devastated. There are no roads, water or electricity. Nobody’s left but thieves.’- A resident of Sana (Yemen)

The Euro-American and Japanese ruling classes, as well as their  collaborators in the Afro-Asian and Latin American countries, have  accumulated vast profit. This has occurred through a complex stratified  system re-concentrating the world’s wealth through: 1. The exploitation  of labor in the First World (North America and Western Europe); 2.  super-exploitation of labor in the Second World (China, ex-USSR); 3.  dispossession of peasants, native communities and urban dwellers to grab  resources, land and real estate in the Third World; and 4. wars of  genocide against the poorest of the poor in the ‘Fourth World’.

Besides  all the forms of brutal exploitation and dispossession, which enrich the  Euro-US ruling classes, by far the most sinister and threatening to  humanity is the concerted worldwide effort to literally exterminate the  poorest-of-the poor, the hundreds of millions of people no longer  essential for the accumulation and concentration of imperial capital  today.

This essay will begin by mapping the genocidal wars against ‘the  wretched of the earth’, identifying the geography of genocide, the  countries and subjects under attack, and the trajectory, which has been  chosen and executed by the leaders of the Euro-American regimes.

Then we will examine the reason for genocide within the dynamics and  forms of contemporary capitalism. In particular, we will develop the  genocide hypothesis: that imperial genocide of the poorest of the poor  is a deliberate policy to reduce the growing surplus labor, which is no  longer needed or wanted for wealth accumulation but is increasingly  feared as a potential political threat.
In the last section, we will discuss how the ‘wretched of the earth’  are responding to this policy of imperial genocide and what is to be  done.

Mapping Genocide Against the Poorest of the Poor
It is no coincidence that the most violent assaults and invasions by  the Euro-American powers have taken place against the poorest countries  in each region of the world. In the Western hemisphere, the Euro-US  regimes have repeatedly invaded the absolutely poorest country, Haiti,  overthrowing the popularly elected Aristide government, decimating the  population via a cholera epidemic spread by UN mercenary  ‘peace-keepers’, killing tens of thousands of poor Haitians and rounding  up thousands of protestors.

The occupation continues. Honduras, the  second poorest country in the region, experienced a US-backed coup  d’état deposed their recently elected president and imposed a terrorist  puppet regime, which regularly assassinates dissidents and landless  rural workers. Peasants are dispossessed; the economy and society are in  shambles with tens of thousands of Hondurans (especially children)  fleeing the violence.

Today, the Euro-American powers actively support the absolutist  regime of Saudi Arabia as it bombs and slaughters thousands of Yemeni  civilians and resistance fighters. Yemen is the poorest country in the  Gulf region.
In South Asia, the US invaded and occupied Afghanistan; its coalition  of puppets and NATO allies have massacred and displaced millions of  poor farmers and civilians. Afghanistan is the poorest of the poor  countries in the region.

In Africa, the Euro-American powers and their local collaborators  have invaded, bombed and occupied Somalia, Chad and Mali - among the  poorest of sub-Sahara countries.
After the US-NATO campaign of destruction against Libya, 1.5 million  sub-Saharan Africans and black citizens of Libya lost their stable  employment and became the victims of ethnic slaughter. Their attempts to  escape the violence and starvation by fleeing to Europe are blocked by  the leading powers (the same powers that destroyed the Libyan economy  and society).

 Those, who do not drown in their flight, are detained and  returned to their devastated countries and early deaths.
In Western Europe, millions of Greeks, Spaniards and Portuguese,  inhabiting the poorest countries in the region, have faced massive job  losses, widespread impoverishment and spiraling suicides - all induced  by austerity programs designed to pillage their economies and enrich  their Euro-US creditors.

The people of
New Orleans stranded and cut off for 6 days before FEMA and the Bush
Administration decided to act. 1,833 people died. hurricane katrina

In the United States, 1.5 million black (mostly male) Americans, are  ‘missing’ – products of early death, industrial-scale incarceration and  police assassinations. American Indian communities are subject to  depredations and early death from the policies of the Federal and State  governments.

Their lands have been handed over to mining (and now  fracking) to serve the interests of the mining and agro-business elite.  Throughout the US Latino agricultural workers are increasingly viewed as  ‘expendable’ with technology and the effects of global climate change  (such as the severe drought in California) depriving them of livelihood.

Palestinian homes usurped in 1948 in Jerusalem
In the Levant, Palestinians, now the poorest of the poor and the most  disenfranchised, face continued Israeli land grabs, pillage and  violence in the West Bank and genocidal attacks in Gaza. Iraq and Syria  have experienced millions of deaths and displacements, reducing  previously prosperous, educated and sophisticated multi-ethnic  populations into impoverished, uprooted and desperate people  deliberately driven backwards to tribal loyalties.

Why Imperialism ‘Genocides the Poorest of the Poor’
With the exception of Iraq and Syria, all of the violated countries  have been poor in resources and markets, and possess large unskilled  labor. The people are targeted and savaged because they no longer serve  as ‘labor reserves’ – they are now excess-surplus labor – in Nazi racial  hygiene terminology, they have become ‘useless mouths to feed’.

This  has intensified as crisis engulfs the West and the least productive  sectors of capitalism, finance, real estate and insurance (FIRE), have  become the leading sectors of capital. ‘Cheap labor’ is less needed,  least of all overseas labor from conflictual regions.

The ‘poorest of the poor’ countries under attack lack rich resources  ripe for plunder; their populations do not exist among the priorities of  the multi-national bankers – except when seen as ‘obstacles’. In the  colonial past, sectors of these populations would have been recruited by  imperial countries to submit, obey and serve as imperial mercenaries or  coolie labor.

 They would have been transported and employed by empire  for ‘dirty’, dangerous and poorly paid jobs in other colonized countries  – like the millions of Indians scattered throughout the former British  Empire. Today, such coolies have no value.

The genocidal nature of the wars against the ‘poorest of the poor’ is  best demonstrated by the actual targets and primary victims of these  wars: Millions of civilians, families, women, children and heads of  households have suffered the worst. These ‘targets’ represent the most  stable and essential elements responsible for family reproduction and  security.

The ‘poorest of the poor’ communities are being destroyed.  Genocidal bombing has overwhelmingly targeted the essential factors for  survival: cohesive households, communal settings, subsistence food  growing regions and access to clean water. Therefore, it should come as  no surprise that marriage ceremonies and traditional social gatherings  have been ‘mistaken targets’ of missiles and drone strikes.

 Despite the  denials from the White House, the geographic extent and nauseating  number of such attacks demonstrate that according to the ‘genocide  hypothesis’ there is ‘nowhere to hide’: The targeted populations will  have no marriage celebrations, no social life, no increase in children  among the poorest of the poor, no protection for the elders, no social  fabric and no communal organizations – there will be no survival  networks left for the superfluous of empire.

The ‘genocide hypothesis’ underlies the practice of ‘total war’. The  practice includes massive attacks on non-military targets (‘Shock and  Awe’) and the use of high tech weaponry to target collectives of the  poorest of the poor – repeatedly, over long periods of time and wide  geographic regions.
If, as the apologists of genocidal wars claim, the bombings of  weddings and slaughter of school children are ‘collateral’ in the  ‘Global War on Terror’ why are they happening everywhere in the fourth  world and virtually everyday?

The genocide hypothesis best explains the data. Even the terminology  and claims made by imperialist experts regarding their weapons systems  support the genocide hypothesis. These weapons, we are told, are  ‘intelligent, precise and highly accurate’ in targeting and destroying  ‘the enemy’. By their own admission, then, the poorest of the poor have  become ‘the enemy’, as imperial weapons makers support ‘intelligent’  genocide with ‘precision’.

When liberals and leftists criticize how imperial drone strikes kill  civilians, instead of ‘armed terrorists’, they are missing the essential  point of the policy. The prime purpose of the wars and the imperial  weapons of mass destruction is to kill the largest number of the very  poorest in the shortest time.
No member of the financial-high tech capitalist class has ever  complained about the mass killing of the ‘poorest of the poor’ anywhere  or at any time because the victims are, for the purpose of accumulating  imperial profit and concentrating wealth superfluous. The poorest don’t  figure into the formulae of profit and productivity; they don’t ‘make or  take’ markets. On the other hand, their continued existence is a  potential liability.

They are aesthetically unappealing on the outskirts  of luxury resorts. To the rich, they represent a desperate criminal  element and they may pose a real or imagined ‘terrorist’ threat. For  these reasons, the rich would ‘prefer’ that they would quietly cease to  exist, or if the warlords have to dispose of them, the world will be a  safer and more attractive place to accumulate wealth. ‘Let them kill  each other, as they have done for millennia’, the empire piously opines  and the bankers and their high tech allies can use their military and  mercenaries without soiling their own hands. The elite ignore the mass  immiseration while the militarists bomb ‘the problem’ out of existence.

Today genocide occurs in once vibrant living and working communities,  not hidden in ‘concentration camps’. The secret ovens and gas chambers  have been replaced by an ‘open range’ of incendiary weapons that end  lives, burn neighborhoods and workshops, devastate livestock and crops.  Those who survive the bombing are starved, enclosed, malnourished and  inflicted with disease. Eminent doctors tell us that the misery is  ‘self-inflicted’ and that the poorest of the poor are ignorant and lack  healthy habits.

 Recurrent epidemics from HIV to cholera to Ebola are  quintessential ‘4th world diseases’. Even though the Caribbean had not  seen cholera for over a century, its introduction into Haiti via the  bowels of imperial mercenary troops (UN peacekeepers from Nepal) was  blamed on the Haitians’ lack of access to clean water! Not since the  small pox blankets passed out by the US Army to freezing Native  Americans in their concentration camps of the 19th century have we heard  such apologists for genocide!

The truth about genocide is that all this is known, repeatedly  documented and forgotten. White workers in the First World cannot even  register these ‘facts’ under their own noses, let alone express any form  of solidarity. Imperial genocide, committed by proactive militarists  and ‘passive’ rich elites, are no secret even if they deny their  complicity.

The key word here is ‘mission’. ‘Mission Accomplished’ was  the celebratory banner over the total destruction of Iraq. The warlords  claim rewards for successfully completing ‘the mission’. Yemenis are  dying under US-supplied Saudi bombs; Somalis are scattered in tens of  thousands of tents to the four corners of the earth; Haitians continue  to enjoy the ‘gift of cholera’ from UN ‘peacekeepers’ and rot in massive  open air prison-slums – their leaders imprisoned or assassinated.

The Poorest of the Poor Respond
In the face of genocide and their irrelevance to the profit motive of  modern high tech and finance capital, the poorest of the poor have  chosen multiple responses: (1) Mass out-migration, preferable to the  First World, where they won’t be bombed, raped or starved as they had  been at ‘home’; (2) Internal migration to the cities, under the illusion  of an ‘urban safe haven’ when in fact their concentration in slums  makes it easier for the bombers; (3) return to the countryside and  subsistence farming or the mountains and subsistence herding, but the  missiles and drones relentlessly follow them; (4) mass flight to a  neighboring country where the local gendarmes will ‘herd’ them into  camps to rot and (5) finally resistance. Resistance takes various forms:  There are spontaneous upheavals when the scope of abuse exceeds all  endurance.

This form involves attacking the local collaborators and  gendarmes and authorities and sacking food warehouses. Such action burns  briefly and dies (many times literally). Some choose to join armed  resistance bands, including gangs of brigands, political ethno-religious  rivals and terrorists who retaliate against authors of their genocide  and its collaborators with their own version of justice and material and  celestial rewards.

Total war from above and the outside breeds total war from the inside  and below. The rebellion of the ‘wretched of the earth’ in the 21st  century is far different from that portrayed by Franz Fanon in the  middle of the last century. Fanon described a revolt against colonialism  and neo-colonialism. Today the revolt is against deracination and  genocide. During colonialism, the ‘wretched’ needed to be subdued to  better exploit their labor and resources. Today, the ‘poorest of the  poor’ are superfluous to empire and thus the policy of genocide. The  current world war between the classes has become a war between  exterminators and those who would fight to survive!


  1. I don't know why the PTB have such a hard-on for Haiti. Maybe it's because they need to keep it secured for running drugs out of S. America into Europe and the USA.

    Or maybe they're still teaching those 'uppity darkies' the lesson that you don't rebel against your slave masters, like Haitians did in 1791.

    Or maybe it's a training ground for future planned acts against the USA?

    Haiti continues to exhibit the greatest income inequality in the continent, and is one of the most unequal countries in the world. The richest 20% of households earn 64% of the country’s total income, while the poorest 20% makes do with just 1%.

    Compare what Haiti is like to it's neighbor, the Dominican Republic and it's a night and day difference.

    Something is rotten and the smell is coming from the USA.

  2. I would choose theory#1 or #3.


If you sit by a river long enough, you'll see the body of your enemy float by.
Old Japanese proverb