Presyong kartel, presyong hassle!

Photo: Bayan Muna at today’s picket in Aurora, Cubao

(On oil price hikes as ideological consolodation for endless wars)

We have been hijacked and robbed yet again by the deregulated local oil business. A two-peso oil price hike per liter on diesel and gas is off to a domino effect on the price of public transport fare and basic and nearly all commodities.

The Department of Energy (DoE) explains this price hike, highest for the year, as a result of last week’s drone strikes on Saudi’s oil company, Aramco. But our oil stocks have been bought long before the drone attack. So why does the DoE use that as an excuse for making us suffer yet another round of inflation? The government wants us, ordinary people, to add to the profits reaped by oil distributors who also make up the global oil cartel. That is basically the function of the oil deregulation law.

The power of government is such that it can create and implement laws to make profits for monopoly capitalists. This is how politicians make money: by brokering between global capital and the domestic market. A full surrender of the domestic market to monopoly capital through neoliberal schemes has been a lucrative business for politicians. No doubt bureaucrat capitalism, or the practice of profiteering politicians in government, continues to be a major factor in the accumulation of wealth of the few and the collective dispossession of the rest of us.

But the oft-forgotten power of government is to align our perception of the world to the interests of monopoly capitalists. In this case, the Philippine government through the DoE wants us to form an opinion or even a stand for the imperialist war machine. Through this latest oil price hike, which makes us even more financially vulnerable and pushes us to deeper misery, we are invited to look into the “bigger picture.”

And how does this “bigger picture” look like? A governement that has embraced full deregulation for the sake of the global oil cartel is an entity that wants us to blame our misery on the suspects of the Aramco drone strikes. Who does the US-Saudi alliance blame for it? The Houthis of Yemen and/or Iran. It does not know for sure but it wants us to feel the full measure of the drone strikes by using it as an explanation for the more intense hardships we are about to face in the coming days due to the oil price hike.

The US and Saudi war machine has brought upon Yemen and the world the worst humanitarian catastrophe in contemporary history. The US sanctions on Iran started since the Iranians overthrew the US-backed Shah of Iran in 1979 through an entire societal overhaul, making it one of the three most impactful revolutions of the 20th century (Russian and Chinese revolutions took place earlier).

The oil price hike is clearly an impact of the neoliberal policy of deregulation. But it we can no longer afford to miss how this policy ideologically aligns us with the imperialist war machine. The message that we are supposed to chew is that we are suffering another round of price hikes because of the “enemies of democracy.” The truth is that the US, Saudi and Israel have been selling arms to its so-called enemies whose populations suffer from the genocidal imperialist war machine.

This is why it is crucial to go beyond an understanding of Neoliberalism as just a set of state policies favored by some, opposed by others and should be the focus of reform legislation. As a global mechanism that impacts our lives, Neoliberalism must be understood and confronted as a class offensive of the global ruling elite on the rest of us.

Those drone strikes could not have been self-inflicted as the imperialist war machine prefers to subject populations under genocide vis a vis professionalism: business as usual or the normalization of war and profit making. The Saudi ruling class wants the world to believe it is the Houthis of Yemen who did it. If they did, then that is an entity striking back and certainly not “attacking empire” out of nowhere.

The oil price hike is by no means the result of the drone strikes. We can only cringe at the US-Saudi imperialist war machine’s audacity to make us believe that we are all hapless victims on the same side. The price of oil is controlled by the global oil cartel. The continued profits for this entity largrely rests on the success of the US imperialist war machine to maintain economic, military and ideological control over resources, governments, and peoples. ()

Sarah Raymundo is a full-time faculty at the University of the Philippines-Diliman Center for International Studies. She is engaged in activist work in BAYAN (The New Patriotic Alliance), the International League of Peoples’ Struggles, and Chair of the Philippines-Bolivarian Venezuela Friendship Association. She is a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal for Labor and Society (LANDS) and Interface: Journal of/and for Social Movements.

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