The Russian collapse
Source Dave Anderson
Date 99/05/01/22:10

/* Written 9:49 AM Aug 28, 1998 by in igc:labr.all */
/* ---------- "The Russian collapse (fwd)" ---------- */
---------- Forwarded message ----------

Date: Fri, 28 Aug 1998 08:17:16 -0600 (MDT)

James Chapin wrote:

"Right now it appears that the political economy of the post-Cold War
era bears a closer resemblance to what happened after World War I than
what happened after World War II. That means that the dream of a happy
democratic capitalism running the world may well prove to be a is far more serious than anything else going on this year,
and it certainly behooves Socialists, if they are socialists, to take a
longer view than the diversions of the capitalist media."

True. On that note:


It doesn't take a genius to connect the dotted lines in the news stories
dominating the front pages. There is a distinct relationship between the
attacks on Afghanistan and Sudan, and the Russian financial woes. I
suppose that the bourgeois media does not have many analysts who can
dialectically, so they fail to make these connections. Years ago when
1930s era radicals worked for the bourgeois press, the reporting was
much sharper because these folks knew [Marx's] *18th Brumaire* like the
back of their hands. No such luck nowadays, so it is up to us to make
the connections.

The Islamic fundamentalists that the US is trying to blow into oblivion
are the very same terrorists and gangsters that we created in our
surrogate war with the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. As Barkley Rosser
just pointed out, "The royal family supported anti-Soviet Wah'habist
mujaheddin in
Afghanistan, and with Osama bin Laden's participation in that war, well,
the rest is history." Doug Henwood also forwarded an article by Robert
Fisk which stated that "in the 1980s, Mr Bin Laden and his men were
regarded as 'freedom fighters' rather than 'terrorists' and were
encouraged to use
British-made Blowpipe anti-aircraft missiles against the Russians. Mr
Bin Laden demands the withdrawal of US troops from his native country of
Saudi Arabia - some of whose officials give him considerable support.
None of this, of course, was finding its way into the American news
reports from Washington last night."

This is what Malcolm X called the chickens coming home to roost.

One of the main causes of the collapse of the Soviet Union was its
costly intervention in Afghanistan, which was its Vietnam. Like Vietnam,
the war had an eroding effect on the country. This was why the US was so
pleased at the USSR's morass. It could drain the Soviet Union while
appearing as the "good guy" to world opinion. Except for Alexander
Cockburn, the Spartacist League and pro-Soviet CP's, most leftists
regarded this intervention as a violation of self-determination. The
Soviet Union leadership decided to lift up the barbaric Afghans to
civilization. When the idiocy of rural life turned out to have roots
that were deeper than a 60 foot dandelion, the results were a war that
drained the nation's treasury and created a mood of disillusionment
among its young.

So now the United States has achieved its "victory" over Communism. The
effort has produced a desperate and maddened nation that has a
significant fascist movement. These fascists, unlike the fascists we
chummed around with since WWII, don't really admire the US. Some of them
might even like
to cause immense destruction to the US. Since there are thousands of
tactical nuclear weapons strewn about the former Soviet Union, the US
might have some genuine worries about the threat. I am quite sure that
one of the reasons that the ruling class of the United States is anxious
to bail out
Russia is that it would like to stabilize the situation and isolate the
fascists. There is as much likelihood of this happening as permanent
peace issuing out of the Munich conference of 1938.

Turning to the world of Islamic fundamentalism, the signs of entropy are
just as alarming. The worries that fascists in the former Soviet Union
might sell or donate an A-bomb that can fit into a suitcase to Islamic
terrorists is very real and very scary. That would be the ultimate
irony: a
Russian tactical nuclear weapon detonated in Washington DC at the hands
of some Islamic cabal. This would not be a case of the chickens coming
home to roost, it is a scenario that would evoke the final scenes of
Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds."

The truth is that the world has become a more dangerous place since the
collapse of Communism. The Kremlin was always interested in peace and
stability. Even when the "zealot" Stalin was in charge, the Soviet Union
had a powerful interest in keeping violent conflicts contained. The
Nations was the joint project of the WWII allies, including the Soviet

Even when the cold war started, the chances of forestalling nuclear war
were in a sense enhanced because of the "balance of terror." The United
States worried that a strike against the Soviet Union would be met by
retaliation. The only thing that stops a bully like US imperialism from
incinerating people it hates is the fear of getting retribution.

Now that there is no such thing as world Communism, there is a much
greater possibility that nuclear weapons will be used. The people who
might decide to use them are those very people we summoned into
existence through our own machinations. This would be a dystopian
realization of Marx's dictum
about capitalism creating its own gravediggers.

You would think that US imperialism would have a more rational
understanding of its own self-interests. Why push the Soviet Union to
the brink? Why not have made a bigger investment in someone like
Gorbachev who was much more reliable and who could have effected a much
transition to capitalism in Russia?

The answer to that question is that capitalism in its decay unleashes
powerful irrational forces. What we are seeing today is analogous to the
fascism and war dynamics of the 1930s, except that it looks and sounds
differently. We do not have brown-shirts marching by torchlight, but we
have fanaticism cropping up everywhere that has little concerns about
preserving civilization. The madness of Hitler was not congenital. It
was a product of the impasse of monopoly capitalism.

It is difficult for many of us to think in these terms because we still
tend to think of someone like Bill Clinton or Tony Blair as "one of us."
After all, Clinton smoked pot in the 1960s and even invited Michael
Lerner from Tikkun Magazine to the White House on occasion. A good
liberal, no?

The thing to understand is that powerful class forces are being
unleashed by capitalism in its decay that nobody can control. The German
ruling class probably would have not backed Hitler if it could have
predicted the outcome of WWII. But politics does not operate that way.
There is an element of the irrational in politics. When the US decided
to wipe Communism off the face of the planet, it set in motion chaotic
and irrational forces that it can not control today. It is up to
us--civilized humanity--to restore order to the world. And just as was the case in the
1930s, the only way to achieve true order is to abolish capitalism, the
main source of global disorder.

Louis Proyect

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