Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist)

Silber claims U.S. domination is eternal

Guardian Says World War ’not possible’

First Published: The Call, Vol. 7, No. 6, February 13, 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Remember when Richard Nixon promised the American people a “new generation of peace”? Or when Leonid Brezhnev promised the world that “detente” was “irreversible”?

Most people probably had their doubts, given the mounting arms race and heightened contention of the superpowers all over the world. Marxist-Leninists internationally declared the whole spectacle of “detente” to be a farce designed to hide a growing war danger.

But there is at least one self-styled “revolutionary” who has swallowed this ploy–hook, line and sinker. Moreover, “detente’s” prize catch is now on public display. It appears in the Jan. 18 issue of the Guardian newspaper in an article on Jimmy Carter’s foreign policy by Irwin Silber.

Silber begins his article by telling us that Carter is a frontman for the most powerful U.S. monopoly capitalists, thus establishing the Guardian’s “left” pose. But to show that this is monopoly capitalism “of a new type,” Silber offers his readers a noteworthy summary of the world situation today:

“This is not the world of 1914–or 1941,” he says. “In those earlier periods, the capitalist countries could attempt to achieve their economic goals through a redivision of the world between themselves, by military force. That simply isn’t possible today–or in the foreseeable future.”

This is certainly a startling discovery. Marxist-Leninists since Lenin’s time have held that this is the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution. This is the period of the worldwide crisis of the capitalist system, a period marked by the uneven development of the imperialist powers. Uneven development has produced intense rivalries and inevitably led to imperialist war as the capitalists sought to redivide the globe as their “solution” to crises.

Now Silber has declared that this era has slipped off quietly into the night of the distant past. What is more, this plague “simply isn’t possible today–or in the foreseeable future.” What a sigh of relief the world’s peoples could heave–no longer being threatened by world war! If it were only true.

How did Silber arrive at this epoch-changing conclusion? Very simple. “The overwhelming superiority of the U.S. is a more or less permanent fact of life in the capitalist world,” he argues. “As a result, the interests of U.S. monopoly capital will ultimately prevail in these conflicts–but the hope is that this will be achieved through judicious restraint on the part of all concerned.”

Amazing, isn’t it? Clear, crisp and to the point. It hasn’t been put quite that well since the heyday of the “State Department socialists” of the 1950s, who predicted the “American Century,” the “Pax Americana” to be imposed on the world until the year 2000. And it was their “hope” as well that this would be done with “judicious restraint on the part of all concerned.”

The problem is that this particular Humpty-Dumpty story has been shattered by history. And Silber, even with the help of all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, won’t be able to put it back together again.

U.S. imperialism is no longer “overwhelmingly superior,” Mr. Silber. It is an imperialist superpower on the decline, trying to cling to its empire against the lightning rise of another superpower, the USSR. And both superpowers find themselves scrambling over a smaller share of the world market as the third world countries rise up and expel them both.

As for U.S. imperialism’s arch-rival in Moscow, it rules its population with a fascist grip. It has amassed the most powerful conventional war machine in history and aims the bulk of it at Europe. Its strategic nuclear force matches the U.S. in many respects and exceeds it in some. And it is on the move–in Africa, in the Mideast and in northern Europe.

Do you really expect us to believe, Mr. Silber, that these imperialist powers will not clash “today or in the foreseeable future?” Would you have us believe Brezhnev and Carter are merely two little boys setting up a game of tin soldiers? We would like to note that the working class has learned some lessons from the past two world wars. War is the inevitable continuation of imperialist politics, and promoting illusions about an “era of peace” just doesn’t correspond to reality.

Actually Silber’s “discovery” about imperialism is not new. He stands on the shoulders of such “giants” as Kautsky, who discovered “ultra-imperialism” in Lenin’s day. Kautsky also believed that inter-imperialist rivalry could be subdued through “judicious restraint.” Next was the farsighted Khrushchev, who attacked Stalin for his “dogmatic” views on the inevitability of imperialist war and who proclaimed that a “world without war” was possible under imperialism.

And finally, there is Brezhnev himself, the world’s chief propagandist for “detente,” who is at the same time responsible for organizing the most massive military build-up the world has ever seen.

Despite the Guardian’s pretense to “independence” and Silber’s “left”-sounding rhetoric attacking imperialism, he is walking the same revisionist road as Kautsky, Khrushchev and Brezhnev.