Who shares responsibility for imperialism?
Source Louis Proyect
Date 04/06/24/15:45

Dear Joel Kovel,

In your Commondreams attack on the Nader-Camejo campaign, you write:

 >>Thus you will learn, if you read their unending email postings, that
criticism of Nader is a plot engineered by the Democrats, that Kerry is
a greater danger than Bush because he will be more effective, that the
notion of ?anybody but Bush? is a sign of cowardice, and that the real
problem is not Bush but ?Bushism,? a new word for a phenomenon as old as
G.W. Bush himself, namely, that both mainstream parties share in the
crafting of US imperialism.<<

It is not exactly clear to me whether you think that this understanding
of "Bushism" is correct or not. I myself have not heard this word
before, but do subscribe to the view that both parties share an equal
responsibility for imperialism.

More to the point, it seems rather misleading to speak in terms of
"imperialism" as a kind of policy that can be crafted. By contrast, a
policy on gay marriage can be crafted. This is something that can be
passed as law as it was in Massachusetts, despite Kerry's objection. But
one can not pass laws in favor of imperialism in the same fashion. For
example, if the legislative body in Ecuador passed a law stating that
they would embark on a policy of imperialism, it is safe to say that
this would have no practical consequences. When you really get down to
it, imperialism is simply another term for world capitalism which has
been defined for the past 200 years at least as a system in which the
USA, Europe and Japan develop at the expense of the rest of the world.
In this economic system, Ecuador has about as much chance of becoming a
G7 nation as the USA has of becoming a banana republic. That is the reality.

In terms of politics, it makes very little difference who is elected. On
every single imperialist war of the past 100 years at least, support for
such wars is a bipartisan affair. For example, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin
Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson--3 bona fide liberals--made the decision to
commit US troops to imperialist adventures.

Finally, on your observation: "The problem is, however, that a very big
difference between Democrats and Republicans has evolved over the past
generation or so."

This looks at the problem from only one angle. Not only is there a big
difference between the two parties. There is a big difference between
the Democratic Party of our youth and the DP of Jimmy Carter, the DLC
and Bill Clinton. This party is not only objectively to the right of the
traditional New Deal party and its heirs like LBJ, it is also to the
right of the Nixon presidency. Just as it took a Republican to visit
China, it took a Democrat like Clinton to smash aid to dependent children.

So what is going on? What drives all these politicians to be so
bellicose and to favor the rich? Is the human race coming up with poorer
specimens due to fluoride in the water or too much corn syrup in the
spaghetti sauce (including Paul Newman's, I was chagrined to discover.)

At the risk of sounding like a member of the Spartacist League, I would
have to insist that the push to the right is driven by the need of the
American ruling class to dominate its competitors. It needed to
dismantle the welfare state because it cut into corporate profits. It
needs to invade Iraq in order to control oil.

If we are to move forward politically, it would have to be on the basis
of opposing the capitalist system and the Democratic-Republican party in
the USA that is as committed to its survival as the Democratic Party of
the early 1800s was committed to slavery. As serious efforts are mounted
against this political-economic system, people like Ralph Nader and
Peter Camejo will inevitably become lightning rods for criticism in the
same fashion as the abolitionists of an earlier age were.

--Louis Proyect

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