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International Socialism, Spring 1964

Frank Ferrer

Utopian Capitalism

From International Socialism, No.16, Spring 1964, pp.31-32.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

A New Deal for Latin America
Lincoln Gordon
Harvard University Press/Oxford University Press. 26s.

Whither Latin America
Monthly Review Press/Merlin Press
Paper $l.45 Cloth $3.00.

Most readers of this journal will form a good idea of the contents of these two books as soon as they realise that Lincoln Gordon is United States Ambassador to Brazil and that the Monthly Review Press is the editorial house of Paul Sweezy and Leo Huberman. Gordon’s is not a book, but a collection of speeches with undisguised propagandistic purposes plus the text of the Alliance for Progress programme. Unlike the Schlesingers and Co., Gordon does not engage in much pseudo left-wing rhetorical nonsense. He comes out openly to defend the traditional themes of free enterprise, opposition to inflation, etc, commonly found in the orthodox capitalist literature. Of course, there is one key point on which Gordon does not and cannot even try to have a ‘matter-of-fact’ approach: the fact that there are opposing classes within Latin American society. By ignoring this, Gordon misses the main point: the present ruling classes of Latin America have neither the interest nor the inclination to defend real democracy or promote a human form of economic development. The same applies to foreign imperialism whether of the American or Russian variety. In other words, Gordon does not face the question: What class is going to do it, for whom, and why? Because he completely fails to grasp this question, a better title for his collected speeches would have been ‘Utopian capitalism for Latin America.’

Whither Latin America is a collection of essays which have appeared during the recent past in the pages of Monthly Review. They were written by the not entirely unusual combination of Fidelistas, Fabians, and old-time Stalinist apologists. Although there is a good deal of rhetoric and formulas, the reader may also gather a number of facts concerning capitalist iniquities in Latin America. Although there is no specific article dealing with Cuba as such, it is hardly necessary to add that the articles have a completely pro-Castro orientation.

In spite of an unusual statement (coming from the pages of Monthly Review) like ‘Capitalism must be rejected not only, and not even primarily, because it fails to generate sufficiently rapid development. It must be rejected above all because it fails to provide a society and an environment worthy of human beings’ (p.144), none of the essays assembled by Sweezy and Huberman have dealt with the questions, what is the relationship between democracy and socialism? Is democracy merely ‘petty-bourgeois reformism’ or is it, indeed, the only method by which the presently exploited may one day rule?

Those who want to learn about ideology of the present world ruling classes should not miss these two books; those who want hard facts and a real socialist analysis, should look elsewhere.

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