What alternative for Latin America?
The â€œNew World (Dis)orderâ€ has by now become a commonplace, and a common fate for the worldâ€™s peoples. With all nations forced to become â€œwinnersâ€ or perish, every national entity, large or small, North or South, capitalist or â€œex-communistâ€ is being put on the same boring, but deadly, dietâ€” deregulation, privatisation, â€œflexibilisationâ€â€”in the name of achieving the unachievable holy grail of competitiveness.
Obedience to this tyrannical external constraint can often seem the only realistic path for national politics, even left politics, and recent splits in a whole range of radical and left organisations, like the FMLN and the FSLN , attest to the strength of this pressure for â€œrealismâ€.
This issue of Links focusses on the efforts of left parties to confront this-conundrum: how-concretely, really-to advance towards the anticapitalist outcome in todayâ€™s conditions of â€œglobalisationâ€ and the â€œend of communismâ€?
First, we initiate a discussion on the real nature of â€œglobalisationâ€, a term charged with ideology but one which also reflects a reality. Michel Husson discusses what is real about â€œglobalisationâ€ in â€œThree dimensions of neo-imperialismâ€, an attempt to synthesise the main trends in world economy today.
Linksâ€™ Moscow correspondent, Renfrey Clarke, in a thorough comparison of Russian and Mexican politics, analyses the monetary tricks that are available to neoliberal governments desperate to dupe an increasingly cynical populace.
James Petras (whom we welcome to Links as a contributing editor) and Steve Vieux analyse the theorisation of the â€œnew realistâ€ viewpoint in Jorge CastaÃ±edaâ€™s book Utopia Unarmed, which has â€œoutfitted postures with arguments, captured a mood of disillusion and anti-utopianism and systematised this whole assemblage into something like a social democratic doctrine for the 1990sâ€.
In a searching critique Petras and Vieux score CastaÃ±edaâ€™s equation of revolutionary politics with guerrilla activity, stressing that â€œthere is not a single, sustained analysis of any independent mass mobilisation in the entire bookâ€.
The geographical focus for the discussion is Latin America. Stephen Marks, Linksâ€™ correspondent in Managua, reviews the 1995 SÃ£o Paolo Forum, held in Montevideo. Gerson MartÃnez, leader of the FMLNâ€™s parliamentary group, tackles the question of developing an alternative to neo-liberalism in El Salvador, stressing the need for a broad alliance of all its victims-from shantytown dwellers right through to losing sections of national capital.
Our interview with Raul Pont, vice-mayor of Porto Alegre in Brazil, starts more locally. What can a radical power operating at the municipal level do to draw people into social action? How can this local democratisation and empowerment relate to a national (and international) anti-capitalist project?
International Secretary of the Brazilian PT, Marco AurÃ©lio Garcia, points out in his presentation to the Fifth Meeting of the SÃ£o Paolo Forum, that it is not enough for the left to defend that which the right is attacking-the â€œreally existingâ€ public sector and national economic apparatus, if it wants to avoid being dubbed as opponents of â€œmodernisationâ€. In a sober analysis of the 1993â€“95 cycle of Latin American election results, he details the failure of many left parties to go far beyond the politics of denunciation.
We also reprint the South African Communist Partyâ€™s strategy document Socialism is the Future, Build it Now, as adopted at the partyâ€™s April Congress. In seeking to avoid the ultimatism of the â€œfar leftâ€ and the opportunism and immediatism of the â€œrealistsâ€, the SACP document presents action and mobilisation around the Reconstruction and Development Programme as the most direct way to socialism in South Africa. As a latest issue of The African Communist puts it: â€œWorker Powerâ€”The Key to the RDPâ€.
Finally, Boris Kagarlitsky addresses the issue of â€œescaping the labyrinthâ€ at a more general level, weaving into the discussion some new observations on the old but always actual debate on reform versus revolution.
Links is beginning to accumulate a number of replies to articles already published. From the next issue we will be publishing a correspondence section, to which all our readers are heartily invited to contribute!