Against the Current, No. 25, March/April 1990
Shafik Abu Tahi
Questions We’d Pose
Rather than attempt any in-depth analysis of the events taking place throughout the Eastern bloc, we’d like to pose a few questions: Is the Cold War over? Is peace at hand? Will there be a radical reduction in military spending creating a vast reserve for social spending? How do we as social-change advocates approach the new period? What should we be doing?
Let us state from the very beginning that we welcome many of the changes that are taking place in the Eastern bloc, but we caution people to remember that these changes are taking place there, not in the United States. Furthermore, we take the position that there will be no real changes here based on changes in Eastern Europe; there is no such thing as capitalism or imperialism with a human or peaceful face. In our excitement we must not forget this reality.
Powerful media bombardments would have us believe that all over the world, democracy and freedom have won out against communism and dictatorship, and that there is no need for further anticommunist imperialist aggression. There are even media on the left hailing an end to massive war spending—an end to the Cold (and not so cold) War. Again, we say not likely.
While there may be more openings for us to legitimately question U.S. foreign aggression and it maybe-come less easy for the rulers of this country to do their criminal mischief in the name of stopping the spread of communism, international class war will not only continue but increase. The invasion of Panama (using Noriega as an excuse) shows that this country’s rulers are not willing to recognize the sovereignty of other nations (let’s not forget Grenada), especially those nations of the Third World. Do these actions represent in any way a kinder, gentler nation?
U.S. Aggression to Continue
We think the United States will remain involved in supporting the Zionist occupation of Palestine, will continue to support the fascist regime in El Salvador, will try in various ways to keep the Nicaraguan contras alive, etc. More of their future invasions may be done by one well-dressed agent with a briefcase representing the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank instead of armies, reflecting an increase in economic terror. But regardless of the form, the result remains the continued domination of Third World economies resulting in the deaths of untold numbers of Third World People. The Imperialist slogan will remain, “What we have the might to do, we have the right to do.”
As the Eastern bloc nations begin their experimentation with market economies and are confronted with the accompanying ills (mass unemployment, crime, inflation, etc.), when capitalist features show themselves to be the failure they are, we don’t for one minute feel that the rulers of this country, who see themselves as world cops, won’t intervene against any new calls for planned economies, for a socialist path.
If we understand that the Cold War was directed at socialist ideology and not at any particular nation as such, then we conclude that a major thrust of imperialism will take place in the ideological arena as well. There will be an increase in promotion of capitalist thought as we already witness on TV commercials. The rulers of this country will do everything necessary to eliminate socialist thought and its proponents.
How Do We Respond?
So what does all this mean for U.S. leftists? Will we sit idly by and watch the new interventions take place, not in the name of stopping communism but in the name of fighting the war on drugs? The new situation is going to put us in a position where the task of defending anti-capitalist thought will be a major one, one we should be very aggressive about. We need to find popular ways of sharing our anti-capitalist thinking amongst new constituencies such as community activists, youth groups and church members. As the U.S. media continue their declarations of socialism’s defeat, we should aggressively raise the questions: “What is Democracy?” “Do we really have democracy in the U.S.?” We must figure out how to expose the myth of capitalist democracy.
No, there will be no relaxing of tensions; there will be an increase in tensions, and the international class war will heighten, especially in the Third World.
There will be no new face of imperialism. There will not be a turn from aggression to peace. The Cold War will be temporarily suspended but not eliminated. There may be a “de-ideologizing” of interstate relations, but there is no way the U.S. rulers can represent the cause of freedom in the world; rather they must expand capitalism. The need to expand their aims can be seen today with the Bush administration’s continued talks with China’s leadership even after claiming to be appalled by China’s actions towards the recent student movement for democracy. Needing China, they really don’t care what China does.
The left needs to have some type of representative gathering and collectively analyze the current situation and the possible openings it provides. We need to ask ourselves what political time period we are in, and what are our tasks for this period? How do we respond to the inevitable rise of Rep. Bill Gray of Philadelphia as the Democratic Party’s leadership plays his card against Jesse’s? Is it possible for us as a left to collectivize our concerns and responsibilities? Some opportunities have been presented; will we take advantage of them?
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March-April 1990, ATC 25