Marines Invade Toledo!

US Militarism Plans for Repression

Plans against urban uprisings and "domestic terrorism" are proceeding apace in the US with a Marine Corps exercise sending troops into Toledo, Ohio, for the purposes of anti-terrorism training. The object of such exercises is not military training, but political theater and intimidation of workers by the capitalist class.

200 Marines from Company A, 1st Battalion, 24th Marines, based out of Cedar Rapids were sent to Toledo, Ohio, to engage in military exercises related to the US military's Northern Command contingencies for urban "terrorism" and unrest caused by natural disasters. Throughout 2008, Norcom will be conducting operations in Phoenix, Arizona, Portland, Oregon and the island of Guam in a series of similar exercises called "Vigilant Shield 2008". (1)

The irony of course is that the US government is preparing for crushing its own "citizens" and is not preparing for any sort of hypothetical "terrorist" attack. Defending US markets and maintaining imperialist power is hard work and a war machine can't be built with private capital, thus capitalism uses the state to organize the flow of capital into the imperialist war machine.

What could be a greater indictment of bourgeois hypocrisy than the fact that the very capitalist class that constantly touts free enterprise, entrepreneurship and competition must have, as imperialist needs require, an organized state-capitalist apparatus to produce the goods and services needed to make the imperialist war machine run and help stabilize capitalist social relations. The health insurance industry, university systems, and a myriad of infamous corporate entities directly depend on the patronage of government tax dollars.

The US has the largest military apparatus ever organized in human history. The sheer size of the US military is staggering. Here again, state-capitalism organizes the slaughter of millions. Geographically the military has some 4,402 military installations within the US and 86 in its territorial possessions as well as some 823 installations abroad. The bulk of these installations, within the US, are considered to be small by the military, for which "small" means any installation that has $875 million dollars replacement value or less. (2)

Compare this to the year 2003 when the US military boasted 5,904 installations in the US, 96 installations in its territorial possessions and 702 foreign bases. (3)

This is the result of the aggressive shift in US militarism, increasing the number of foreign military installations to 823. That is 121 new military installations abroad in the space of four years. This also shows again the effects of economic dislocation on communities that have undergone 1512 base closings and consolidations in the same period of time. In this case, unbridled military violence by the US state abroad is being matched domestically by the elimination of jobs and the destruction of whole working class communities that have become physically dependent on military state-capital for their survival. This is the military reflection of the economic dislocation faced by proletarians everywhere, autoworkers get plant closings and two-tier wage systems, and soldiers and their families get base closings and open-ended military deployments abroad. These military installations domestically distribute revenues from the Federal government to the states, which are as a whole either on the verge of fiscal bankruptcy or are actually bankrupt and are a financial lifeline that provides a steady stream of revenues into state coffers.

That the US ranks 27th in military spending in terms of GDP, which is a common refrain among capitalist media analysts, does not take into account the extraordinary relative size of US GDP compared to most nations other than the collective European Union. Rather this reflects a desperate attempt by capitalist states to catch up with US military spending. To put this in perspective, the US Department of Defense spending for the year 1945 was 223.1 billion dollars. In 2006 total US GDP stood at 13,246.6 billion dollars. In 1945 the DoD budget represented some 37.5% of GDP. In 2003 the DoD budget represented 3.7% of the US GDP. This represents almost twice the amount spent in 1945 for the US state to wage WWII. In actuality, military expenditures go much higher as massive military related spending occurs in agencies with entirely separate budgets. It is the US Department of Energy that oversees nuclear weapons, the Veterans Administration that oversees medical and retirement benefits for Veterans and military families, NASA, which launches its space program from US military Air Force bases to put military satellites into orbit and, likewise, the US Army Corps of Engineers has its own separate budget. The US military's footprint on the US economy has been massive and has become all the more important as the profit rates from production have become harder to maintain.

Even in the field of health care in the US, state controlled capital carries enormous economic weight. In 2006 government health programs covered some 80.3 million people in the US. (4)

While military based health insurance programs only cover some 3.6 percent of the insured population in the US, this insurance is key to the two major companies that do all the government health care claims processing, including the US military's Tricare program, and the government programs Medicare and Medicaid. The military contracts for health care are divided into three massive regions of the US, Tricare North, South, and West regions. The three massive health care corporations, Health Net, Humana and TriWest, which compete for these government contracts make up for, in a more permanent and reliable source of profits, what the private sector employer based health care contracts cannot. These corporations in turn contract out the actual processing of all these insurance claims to two companies the Palmetto Government Benefits Administration (PGBA - a subsidiary of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of South Carolina) that handles the north and south regions, and the Wisconsin Physicians Service Health Insurance Corporation which processes all US government claims for states west of the Mississippi River and all overseas military health claims. Companies that cannot get these key government contracts cannot compete and in the case of the loss of a key government health care contract the workers at these companies get faced with layoffs.

In the sciences the importance of US government funding is undisputed and its legacy is with us in everything from microwaves, to microprocessors. At the height of US power military funding consisted of 60% of all research and development in the US. By 2006 US government funding for scientific research and development had decreased to 35% of scientific research funding. This reflects the increasing role of private corporations in funding research, often by military related defense contractors and corporations, by pseudo-private capitalist enterprises that in turn rely on the promise of funding by the government to recoup costs of research. Hence, as the role of the state-capital and particularly military related state capital, in funding of scientific research has decreased, the boundaries between private capital and state capital have been blurred and diminished even further still. (5)

The militarization of society under capitalism has as its target the control and exploitation the working class itself. It is only natural for the bourgeoisie to view its own exploited class as an enemy. Military exercises in US cities and on the Great Lakes are extraordinary indications of what the capitalists have in store for workers in the US, such that the US government is preparing for the contingency of major uprisings at a time when the working class population of the US is not even in a position to seriously consider such a thing. It is an indication of the extent and planning that the capitalist class has undertaken in its preparations for political repression.


(1) Bogle, Charles. Marine Exercise in Toledo, Ohio: an attack on democratic rights. World Socialist Website

(2) Department of Defense Base Structure Report Fiscal Year 2007 Baseline

(3) Department of Defense Base Structure Report Fiscal Year 2003 Baseline

(4) "Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2006." U.S. Census Bureau. Issued August 2007.

(5) Washburn, Jennifer. "Science's Worst Enemy: Corporate Funding", DISCOVER Magazine, 2007-10-11.