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In defense of the SU
How the world has been duped into thinking that 'the Cold War was won by the good guys'

By Simon Jones

Part I 20th c revisionism

There is a classic Lenin joke:
Q: What is the greatest tragedy that Russia experienced?
A: The birth of Lenin.
Q: What is the 2nd greatest tragedy?
A: The death of Lenin.

This goes for the Soviet Union (SU) and the left (or the world, for that matter). While the birth of socialism may have been premature (doomed?), the death of the first and most vital attempt to create an alternative social system has had devastating fallout for us all.

Sure, the horrors of Stalinism, more than any CIA plot, split and weakened the left around the world. But the Left largely fell for the Right’s anti-communism time after time. While trying to maintain an independent critical standpoint, most ended up going along with the CW response of Churchill and Truman and the implication that the SU should be destroyed to make the world a better place. This, not the SU, was the real evil (just as Bush’s desire to destroy Iraq is today (whatever you might think of Saddam Hussein (SH)). McCarthyism was just the visible extreme of a policy of herding us all into one camp, with its catch phrases such as freedom and democracy, terms which have been pre-packaged to mean their very opposite today. Stray at your peril, and you were ostracized, ridiculed. To speak out about the folly of the Cold War (CW) meant professional death, political irrelevance, at least in North America. Any attempt to criticize the terrible legacy of British and other imperialism, let alone the growing US imperialism, brought the accusation of aiding the aggressive Soviet ogre, ready to invade the West in a flash and herd us all into gulags, denying us our precious freedoms (note the 1st world ‘our'). Freedoms which we now see could be torn up in a flash, supposedly in order to protect them.

How thoughtless of the SU to just disappear so unexpectedly, so suddenly. The CIA itself was caught napping (not for the first or last time it seems). Strange, looking back, how half-hearted were the celebrations in the West. (The German economy has never recovered.) Where was the US to turn to now for such a powerful bogeyman to keep the masses in line? The masses, long duped into believing the Evil Empire rhetoric in its many metamorphoses, swallowed the ruse that this supposed ‘enemy’ was ‘conquered’ by the ‘forces of freedom,’ that world capitalism was the ‘winner’ in the social systems sweepstakes. Not surprisingly, they now expected a peace dividend. A massive disarmament. But this would mean a massive East/West Marshall Plan. In fact, an ambitious planned restructuring of the world economy, presumably to provide a development process which would guarantee an equitable, stable ‘one world’. No. this wouldn’t do. The whole military industrial complex could come tumbling down. And what’s this about planning? The winner was Capitalism, after all. Let the market continue to reward us with its magical bounty.

The political paralysis and drift of the 90s merely allowed western corporate leaders to fill their pockets, as resentment in the East and 3rd world grew, until… Voila! A new Evil Enemy. Yes, the nasty oil rich Arabs would do just fine, considering the unquenchable thirst of SUVs and electronic America. None of the countries there, from Saudi Arabia and Iraq to Afghanistan and the ex-Soviet ‘stans’, with their mighty oil resources, were in reliable hands. With or without ‘9-11’, bin Laden and the Arabs were the enemy in reserve. And just as Sov symps were demonized in the past, Muslims, anti-globalizers and 'apologists' for 3rd world anti-imperialist dictators are now loudly demonized as traitors and dupes.

Get used to it. The road is long and wearisome.

Here I would like to dissect the Soviet Threat, which irrevocably warped our thinking on the left, despite the earthquakes of Khrushchev’s thaw and Gorbachev’s perestroika (or for that matter Lenin’s New Economic Policy (NEP)), which showed that the system was not immutable, that given breathing space from the real enemy - capitalism, imperialism - it was capable of considerable internal reform. Not that it ever resembled the bourgeois democracy which had formed over centuries in Europe and North America (NA), but something that could be crudely described as a worker’s state, guaranteeing an egalitarian social structure, employment, public services and adequate nutrition. These are the building blocks of a true democracy from a socialist’s point of view, and I have never been able to understand how supposed lefties could so easily dismiss the only attempt to realize them, however imperfectly. Call me a Sov symp, as lefty friends did when there was an SU to taunt and discard, as some kind of ersatz coffee or bogus Calvin Klein jeans. Such a superficial perspective simply shows how deep commodity fetishism has penetrated our supposedly sophisticated thinking.

Take Kolko’s dismissal of “Communism and fascism” together as “products of the grave errors in the international order and affairs of states that the First World War created,” explaining that “the Soviet system disintegrated after sixty years because it was the aberrant consequence of a destructive and abnormal war.” (Another Century of War? by Gabriel Kolko) A revolution that swept a continent, based on a century of struggle, that proved viable in the face of overwhelming hostility is a mere aberration, best forgotten? Such thinking suggests that world capitalism is somehow the norm, the right way to govern modern society (even tho’ we may be critics, we are loyal critics). Thatcher's infamous TINA (There Is No Alternative).

The numbers game

Take Martin Amis’s Koba the Dread, a recounting of Stalin's crimes and an expression of the author's bitterness towards leftish intellectuals who refuse to place the former Soviet Union on a par with Nazi Germany. In a withering review of KtheD, Seumas Milne writes (The Guardian Weekly September 19-25 2002) that "despite the cruelties of the Stalin terror, there was no Soviet Treblinka, no extermination camps built to murder people in their millions. Nor did the Soviet Union launch the most bloody and destructive war in history. The achievements and failures of Soviet history cannot in any case be reduced to the Stalin period, any more than the role of communists - from the anti-fascist resistance to the campaigns for colonial freedom - can be defined simply by their relationship to the USSR."

Milne discusses the "gruesome numbers game" which Western scholars have engaged in to establish the moral equivalence of Nazism and Communism. Ever since Robert Conquest's The Great Terror (1968), conservative historians have claimed at least 20 million victims killed in Stalin's Russia, far surpassing the Nazi Holocaust. Milne says the latest Soviet archives show just under 800,000 executed and a peak gulag population of 2.5 million which, while still “horrific", are "a very long way from the kind of numbers relied on by Amis and his mentors", or from the 50 million killed in the Second World War "that the Nazis might reasonably be held responsible for".

In any event, as Milne suggests, the statistical debate obscures the decisive difference between the two ideologies: the 11 million deaths in the Nazi camps were premeditated murder, about half of them the result of genocidal policies aimed at the wholesale extermination of the Jewish, Roma, gay, and disabled populations; the deaths in the Soviet Union were the result mostly of famines resulting from reckless farm collectivization policies.

The third leg of 20th century tyranny

Milne also attacks the current intellectual fashion of ignoring or downplaying the historical record of Western colonialism, which he calls "the third leg of 20th century tyranny". He offers as examples the 10 million Congolese either murdered or worked to death by the Belgians; the nearly one million Algerians killed in their war of independence by the French; the violent repression by the British of indigenous populations "from Sudan to Iraq, Nigeria to Palestine, India to Malaya"; and, in the post-colonial era, the millions killed by US and other Western forces and their surrogates in Vietnam, central America, Indonesia, South Africa and elsewhere. If Lenin and Stalin can be regarded as having killed those who died of famine, Milne writes, then Churchill should be held similarly responsible for the 4 million deaths in the avoidable Bengal famine of 1943, and earlier British governments for a further 30 million Indian famine victims under a punitive free market regime.

To insist on historical perspective and balance is not to be an apologist for Stalin's crimes, and Milne is right to point out that "the battle over history is never really about the past -- it's about the future." "Those who write colonial barbarity out of 20th century history want to legitimise the new liberal imperialism", Milne says, "just as those who demonise past attempts to build an alternative to capitalist society are making the classic conservative objection to radical social change."

Our Soviet legacy

On another level, just consider how we have benefited from the existence of the SU. When did social services, progressive taxation and welfare become the norm? When bourgeois rhetoric was forced to bow to the socialist imperative. I remember talking with a hydrofoil driver on the Volga back in 1981, who told me, “It was fear of the example of the Soviet Union that forced your governments to provide socialist benefits to your people. You benefited more than we did.” Or take the recent tearing up of the US Bill of Rights. Would US capitalism have acted so boldly if the Soviet bogeyman were still around?

And what about the tragedy of Chile, the struggles in Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador, perhaps soon Argentina? Are they also aberrations? Yes, maybe it is an aberration for a country to able to resist the might of imperialism for any length of time. And maybe the undemocratic nature of virtually all such experiments attests to the life and death struggle that results from any attempt to withstand the inevitable subversion which world imperialism automatically undertakes as the need arises to defend itself. When will we understand this, and stop being surprised ex post as in Chile, when the forces of reaction are already mowing us down?

When will we wake up and smell the coffee? We don’t have the luxury of waiting for a knight on a white horse, a US president who realizes the folly of it all, who can dazzle us with elegant speeches, and provide tantalizing hints that he will act out of principle and not principal.

Part II Reprogramming our brainwashed minds

1/ The Soviet Threat was a myth,

the great hoax of the 20th c. writes Saul Landau in Counterpunch (3.12. 2002 “The Iraq Ploy and Resemblances to the Start of the Cold War”): “I feel as if I'm witnessing a scenario similar to the onset of the Cold War. In 1946-47, British and American leaders invented an imminent Soviet threat to invade Western Europe. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill coined the "Iron Curtain" notion and President Harry Truman and his coterie transformed Uncle Joe into Stalin the Butcher."

The Cold War began within months of the end of WWII, when the Soviet Union was diagnosed as inherently aggressive. It had installed or was installing Communist and fellow-travelling governments throughout Central and Eastern Europe. It was a Manichean doctrine, seductive in its simplicity. But the supposed military threat was wholly implausible. Even if the Soviets, ignoring the A-bomb, had conquered Europe from Norway to Spain against all odds, they would have been left facing an implacable United States across more than 2,000 miles of ocean - the ultimate unwinnable war. In short, there was no Soviet military danger. Stalin was not insane. 1/

Nor was he a devout ideologue dedicated to world communism. He was far more like a cruel oriental tyrant. He had broken with Trotsky, and proclaimed the ideal of ‘socialism in one country’. It was never Stalin’s idea - far from it - that foreign Communist parties should establish potentially rival Communist governments whose existence and independence would be liable, indeed certain, to diminish the role of Russia as the dominant global power on the Left, and Stalin’s personal position. Yugoslavia and China were to demonstrate the peril of rival Communist powers.

The Cold War began because of Russia’s reluctance to allow independence or freedom to the ‘liberated’ countries of Eastern and Central Europe, Poland in particular. However, after two devastating invasions from the West, any postwar Russian government - Communist, tsarist or social democratic - would have insisted on effective control, at least of Poland if not of larger areas of Eastern Europe, notably Romania, as a buffer zone against future attacks. To Russia, it seemed a simple enough question of minimum security to prevent another disaster. Just as today US real politik points to oil as the motivation behind present policy in Afghanistan and Iraq, Soviet real politik after WWII pointed to protection from further invasion. Not pretty, but sober analysis on the Left (or Right, for that matter) does not have to be naive, or afraid to point such rational strategy out.

Churchill himself had seemed mindful of the point, offering at his famous meeting with Stalin in 1943 to divide Eastern Europe so as to leave a powerful Russia the predominant ‘influence’. The Americans recoiled from the suggestion when they heard of it - from Stalin.

The communization of Central and Eastern Europe was swift in the case of Poland, slower elsewhere. Yugoslavia was wholly Communist, of course, but was already showing signs of the sort of independence that Stalin feared. Its aid to Greek Communists earned a rebuke from him. It was nonsense, he told the Yugoslav leaders, to think that the British and Americans would allow a Communist country to dominate their supply lines through the eastern Mediterranean.

Churchill’s ‘Iron Curtain’ speech at Fulton, Missouri, in March 1946 - the phrase, by the way, originated with Dr Goebbels, warning of the same Red peril - accurately reflects the Great Warrior’s view of the Soviet menace. Not surprisingly, however, it was seen by the Russians as a virtual declaration of war, which Stalin called it in a public speech. Referring to the new ‘tyrannies’, Churchill said, ‘It is not our duty at this time when difficulties are so numerous to interfere forcibly in the internal affairs of countries.’ The inevitable implication was that there would be such a time when difficulties were not so numerous. How reassuring to our erstwhile Soviet allies.

But Truman had already adopted an aggressive public attitude to Russia the previous October. He produced 12 points which he said would govern American policy, including the importance of opening up free markets. The program would be based on ‘righteousness and justice’. There could be ‘no compromise with evil’. [Sound familiar?]

In short, Russian interference in countries essential to its safety was evil. But exclusive US domination of its own sphere of influence was righteous. The Russians must have thought that this was a fine piece of humbug. In any case, a program based on ‘no compromise with evil’ is a preposterously naive basis for a foreign policy, destining a country to permanent warfare. (Perhaps, as the war against terrorism suggests, this is the capitalist world’s version of Trotskyism, i.e., permanent revolution.) It was at about this time that General Patton, among other eminent figures, spoke of ‘an inevitable third world war’.

The Atlantic Charter of 1941 was another example of humbug, with its declaration that countries should be free to elect their own governments. Churchill had later to explain that this did not apply to the British Empire. Russia added its name to the charter - no harm in supporting what was obviously pious hypocrisy. Molotov inquired in this context what Britain intended to do about Spain. Spain was different, Churchill insisted.

Churchill’s hostility to the Soviet Union was very long-standing, despite the wartime alliance and despite his erratic opinion of Stalin himself, sometimes his ‘friend’, sometimes his enemy. Churchill had proposed in December 1918 that the defeated Germans should be rearmed for a grand alliance to march on Moscow. He supported the Allied intervention in the Russian civil war.

More important was his wartime theme that the Germans should not be treated too harshly or disarmed too extensively because they might be needed against Russia. Soviet sympathisers in the Foreign Office would no doubt have warned Stalin of this. Moscow also suspected, with reason, that some British politicians hoped that appeasing Hitler would leave him free to attack Russia. Moreover, the British government had seriously considered attacking Russia when it invaded Finland in December 1939. One suggestion was to bomb Russian oilfields.

Against this background, it is unsurprising that the Soviet attitude in the immediate postwar years was nervous and suspicious. The West made virtually no moves to allay these fears, but adopted a belligerent attitude to an imaginary military and political threat from an economically devastated and war-weary Russia. Based in no small part on the experience with Germany, the great leap in assumptions was that a regime that was wicked and brutal to its own people must also be a threat to us. It was an easy doctrine to sell in the early postwar years.

What about Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968, Afghanistan in 1979, you ask? The invasion of Hungary in 1956 and of Czechoslovakia in 1968 were brutal acts, but were aimed at protecting Moscow’s buffer zone - much as the United States had always protected her interests in Central and South America. The same may be said of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1980 (as a result of which, with the help of the CIA, the Taleban and al Qaida came into existence). In none of these cases was there a territorial threat to the West.

At times even Eisenhower seemed ambivalent about the Cold War. In his farewell address in 1960, he warned about the vested interests of the American ‘military-industrial complex’. Under his presidency US foreign policy had fallen into the hands of crazed crusaders such as John Foster Dulles. Of him, Anthony Eden complained that he was the only bull who carried his own china shop with him. He also accused him of really wanting a third world war. Followers of Dulles’s crusading approach remained prominent, especially under Reagan and have come back to haunt us with their apocalyptic plans today.

One can, of course, understand why few anywhere in the West want the orthodox view of the Cold War overturned. If that were to happen, the whole edifice of postwar politics would begin to crumble. Could it be that the heavy burden of postwar rearmament was unnecessary, that the transatlantic alliance actually imperilled rather than saved us? Could it be that the world teetered on the verge of annihilation because the postwar Western leaders, particularly in Washington, lacked imagination, intelligence and understanding?
The gloomy answer is yes.

2/ Was the SU’s collapse inevitable,

the system a failure? Kolko argues that those who led USSR “gradually ceased to have the conviction essential to perpetuate the original Leninist beliefs and systemic legacies. As a ruling system, it disappeared in Europe and virtually disintegrated in Asia, peacefully and by its own leaders' volition--and not by force of American arms.” (Kolko, Counterpunch 26/11/02) In his book on the collapse of the SU - Revolution from Above, David Kotz describes how a large part of the nomenklatura decided Gorbachev's reform plans would mean loss of their privileges, and they realized that the only way to benefit from the crisis was to introduce 'capitalism' while grabbing whatever property they could in the chaos. It is clear that Gorbachev was sabotaged by a shifty, power-hungry Yeltsin (not to ignore his own hubris and naivete), by the very bourgeois-style electoral ‘democracy’ he himself introduced, at a time when the society could ill-afford the unpredictable caprices of electoral politics. The collapse was egged on by rabid Cold Warriors of the time, such as Brzezinski, Rumsfeld and other Dulles clones who had cut their teeth (or should I say fangs?) under Reagan, as he proceeded to arms-race the SU into oblivion.

Yes, the system was in desperate need of reform. The horrible legacy of Stalin had still to be fully dismantled, possibly an insurmountalble task, but one which Khrushchev had made a brave stab at, without making a jot of difference, it seems, to western imperialism. On the contrary, dismantling Stalinism would make the SU a far greater threat. You would expect the US elections of 1960 to have reflected and responded to the clear shift in Soviet politics, but instead, Nixon and Kennedy squabbled over a phony missile gap and the Soviet menace, as if Stalin were still shooting innocent people and rattling his saber (maybe even the one King George had awarded him after the Battle of Stalingrad).

Where and when the rot truly and finally set in (was it Lenin’s terror, Stalin’s terror, Brezhnev’s coup, Gorby’s prohibition and bungling, Yeltsin’s treason (which started long before the ill-fated putsch)?) will be debated by scholars and pundits till the cows come home. Was a Chinese-type option possible, given the cynical elite, the wild-card Yeltsin, and the problem of East Europe and the Baltics? I suspect Khrushchev's demise sealed the SU's fate in 1964, when he was replaced by an unintelligent, short-sighted apparatchik.

As for the collapse of the Union, as late as March 1991, 76% of Soviets (excluding the Baltics, which G should have abandoned from the start) voted to preserve the Union in a referendum. In the brave new tyrannies of today’s ex-SU, with their corruption, violence, greed the 76% of chaotic 1991 would be closer to 80%. The big winner from their ersatz independence has been the US: Divide and conquer (literally, in light of the new US military bases and investment flows since independence).

So what?

In the post World War II years, U.S. leaders repeated implausible charges that the Soviet Union constituted a "clear and present danger." Poised to attack Western Europe, the Soviets also aimed to subvert democracy everywhere. These statements became the "factual" basis for the Cold War. The incessant propaganda campaign contained no reference to the USSR having just lost more than 20 million dead and 20 million more wounded; nothing about the 200 hundred cities demolished or the acute food shortage that gripped the Soviet people. Moreover, no mention was made that Soviet
troops had no boots and that Stalin had made sure that Soviet railroad tracks did not coincide in width with those of eastern Europe, thus making it nearly impossible to think of supplying an invading army. Yet, within months, the publicity machinery transmuted the false claims into truisms that in turn became the foundations of military alliances like NATO, SEATO and CENTO. SAC bombers flew round-the-clock missions with nuclear payloads and, from this demonstrably false premise, hundreds of institutions developed to fight Soviet communism and win the Cold War.

A brave and lonely voice of the time, now long forgotten, was Lord Boyd Orr, head of the Food and Agriculture Organization from 1945-8, Nobel Peace Prize laureate in 1949. In his acceptance speech that year, at the height of the CW, he said: The real evil of the Russian communist state is not communism. It is the secret police and the concentration camp. But that absolute totalitarian form of government is the only form of government the men of the Kremlin know. Some of them have spent a good part of their lives in prison. The masses have been conditioned to state control by an historical and psychological background which the people of the West, who enjoy the freedom of the individual, find difficult to understand. But let us in the West not be too self-righteous. It is not so long ago that we had our slave plantations and a short shrift for anyone who threatened to undermine the authority of the state. The hope is that Russia will evolve along the same lines as the Western democracies. It is probable that the threat of war acting as a pressure from without consolidates the present system and delays its inevitable transformation.

These wise words were ignored, of course. As for the organization which was intended to protect ‘us’ from the bogus Soviet Threat, NATO and the numerous national security agencies - they are still thriving. Ironically, Russia now plays an important role in the joint NATO-Russia Council, the very organ created to combat the Russian menace.

Few if any commentators East or West dwell on the continuing reverberations - the fallout of the collapse of the SU, and the rabid anti-Communism of the CW. It is the shibboleth of our times. The sore thumb, the white elephant behind everything that is happening today, from terrorism, the drug trade, to the insane foreign policy of the US (tearing up international treaties, bombing and invading other countries at will, forcing the production of GM food on others, controlling international finance, even setting world prices to meet its domestic needs. Even domestic policies, such as tax cuts for the rich, the toleration of massive corrupt on Wall St, the disdain for the environment and conservation - none of that (or much less) would be happening if there was an SU around.

Instead we have witnessed the triumph of the politics of greed. For example, in 1960 CEO pay was 25x the average wage worker, in 1988, 93x, and in 1999, (after a decade without the SU) 419x. In 1950, payroll taxes were 7% and corporate taxes - 27% of US federal tax revenues, and in 2000 - 31% and 10%. Before the West needed at least the pretext of generosity and good behavior on the national and international level. The dreaded SU was always loaming, if only as a half-assed example of another way of doing things.

The Left generally accepted as a Good Thing, or at least as inevitable, the grand conspiracy of the West to destroy the SU which began in 1917 and continued right through the thaw of Khrushchev and the unilateral withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan by Gorbachev (with the especially dire consequences of the latter today in the form of Bin Laden) without losing any sleep, but now bemoans the likely conspiracy of right-wing fanatics in the US and Israel around Sept 11, without seeing the intrinsic connection between the two. Whoever is responsible for 9-11, we can see how it fits into the right-wing agenda. It’s part of their scenario for permanent war, as world capitalism completes its conquest of minds and lands everywhere. Having accepted the CW and the collapse of the SU, you must now accept its consequences - the war on Islam (and any other system that opposes US imperialism).

Proust provides a wise warning to those who are eager to wage war: it is not merely “a matter of strategy. It is human, something that is lived like a love or a hatred. The enemy has no more knowledge of our plans than we have of the objective pursued by the woman whom we love, and perhaps we do not even know what these plans are ourselves. It might better be described as a pathological condition, because it admits of accidents which even a skilled physician could not have foreseen, such as the Russian Revolution.” (ISLT VI) It is war that is pathological, aberrant, if you like. The Russian revolution was in a sense an accident, but it was a logical outcome of a pathological condition. The lesson here for us? It is that the really terrifying part of today’s mad rush to war is the (quite logical) "accidents" (further terrorism such as dirty bombs, collapse of Internet, not to mention corporate and government-sponsored climate upheaval, revolutions, civil war …).

How sad that the horrible waste and destruction of the CW, finally being acknowledged as unnecessary and even harmful to our security, is now being played out again, against the Muslim world. How easy it is to create an enemy and then to whip up hatred for it, to win elections to keep in place the injustices of world capitalism. But beware the consequences. Events over the past year have confirmed that (a) destabilization and (b) friends becoming enemies--and via versa--are the rule in warfare, and to be expected. America's interventions since 1947 have usually not succeeded by the criteria originally defined, and its security at the beginning of the twenty-first century is thus much more imperiled than it was fifty years ago.

However, there’s a further tragedy in our cavalier acceptance of the SU’s collapse as a good thing. It is also a tragedy for the very idea of historical progress beyond capitalism, a tragedy that a system with a non-capitalist infrastructure and superstructure disappeared (is reviled and mocked, which is worse). We must confront the question: Do the alpha males, the instincts and the prejudices of the past weigh too heavily on us to ever allow socialism to work?

So where does that leave us?

1/ It is vital to understand the great positive meaning of the SU and remember its good points. There is a Russian proverb: Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. A well-know song by the Who is called ‘Don’t get fooled again.’

2/ We should recognize how the US did everything possible to destroy the SU even under Gorbachev, that the present world dilemma of terrorism is a direct result of past anti-Communism and reactionary policies towards the 3rd world, from Guatemala and Cuba to Vietnam and of course Afghanistan.
Believe it or not, many Afghans fondly remembered the brief period of Najibullah’s rule (the last Communist leader) as the best time in many respects. Why couldn’t the US have let it be, especially considering Gorbachev’s patent desire to concede so much in Europe? Or better yet, helped Gorbachev stabilize a progressive secular regime. But no. Funding to bin Laden etal continued right to the bitter end in 1993, including Stinger missiles, leaving a quagmire that just will not go away. Afghanistan would have evolved much like Central Asia, peacefully if not terribly democratically. Look at Uzbekistan today and (awful as it is) it’s heaven on earth compared to Afghanistan.

3/ We must reassess our indoctrination by abstract liberal principles devoid of social context. What about democracy, you ask? Well, perhaps democracy as touted by Bush, Clinton, etal is really just a crock o’ shit. Man evolved as a scavenger, learned tool-making and language not to build democratic capitalism, but to conquer hunger and protect the tribe. Democracy has always been a luxury, a privilege of the elite (Greece, 19th c European and US imperialism) based on deceit, lies and exploitation of a large slave class, and treating nature as limitless. Interestingly, Islamic fundamentalists realize this - some form of ethically-based stable dictatorship is the way world society will probably develop when US imperialism finally burns itself out. Just how cruel and nasty it is depends largely on how thoroughly we destroy the environment in the meantime, not on how much 'democracy' we cultivate now. Borrowing from Proust, let "the sweet lies and subterfuges" of bourgeois democracy be another’s Madeleine someday. They are not mine.
In present day terms, this means we shouldn’t be afraid to defend countries like Cuba, Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador, even Iran, and of course Kerala and Bengal, even if they are not ‘democratic.’ And to see NKorea and insurgencies in Nepal, Columbia and the Philippines for what they are: life and death struggles against capitalism. There have been far worse regimes (often supported by the US) than NKorea's. It will evolve in a much healthier way without the constant (very real) threat of invasion.

4/ Take the gloves off. Stop bending over every time US imperialism flinches. Denounce NATO as a bogus organization that had and even more so has no raison d'etre. There are some hopeful signs here: when the Nobel Peace Prize was announced last year to Carter, the committee chairman said openly that the award was a reproach to the warlike policies of the present US administration, despite it going to one of the earlier (now contrite) architects. There is even talk of a world ‘boycott US goods’ campaign.

5/ As for fighting the beast on the home-front, the great feature of US is grassroots progressivism and we must look to it to counteract US imperialism. It especially shouldn’t be afraid to look at the legacy of the SU fairly, and to keep in mind the underhanded nature of capitalism in trying to destroy any alternative social formation. Fighting the battle on many fronts means supporting grassroots movements to buy organic/ local-grown goods, Bill of Rights Defense Committees at city councils, the rejection of Frankenfoods, celebrating Buy Nothing Day, heck, maybe even moving to a commune.

The US vs the SU... Ahh, the synchronicity of countervalence. Was this lexical quirk the Almighty revealing a sense of irony? We will never know, but let us never forget.


1/ much of the historical argument about the construction of the Soviet threat from Andrew Alexander, The Spectator, Feb/02

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