Links 19: Editor's introduction
Only a decade after the end of communism and
even the end of historythe capitalist vision of an eternal
neo-liberal utopia for the wealthycapitalist globalisation has given
rise to a new movement challenging capitals prerogatives, its privileges
and even its right to exist. Revolutionthe remaking of history by
the masses of working peopleclearly has more life in it than its
enemies imagined. Eternal utopias have seldom been so short-lived as this
recent capitalist version.
This is not to deny the defeat involved in the collapse of the post-capitalist
states in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, nor the necessity to learn
as much as can be learned from that defeat. But it does indicate that
those on the left who concluded that capitalism is invincible drew entirely
the wrong conclusion. In this issue of Links, three writers take up different
aspects of the continued relevance of revolution.
James Petras, the noted Marxist writer on Latin America, directly confronts
the pessimistic interpretation of Perry Anderson, the editor of New Left
Review, who proclaimed the definitive triumph of US imperialism and the
total defeat of the left. At least in part, Petras argues, views such
as Andersons are based on an oversimplification of post-World War
ii socialist history:
the leftist past is much more complex
and contradictory than the picture of 1950s conformity, 1960s-1970s revolutionary
upsurge and 1980-2000 defeat and dissolution.
Petras goes on to outline the interactions between a range of struggles
in both the underdeveloped world and the imperialist countries throughout
the latter half of the twentieth century, to demonstrate the fallacies
of the all is lost school. He also points out factors undermining
the present us ascendancy and the growth of class polarisation within
the imperialist countries as well as between First World and Third World.
The situation justifies revolutionary optimism rather than pessimism:
Struggles for reforms
are linked to structural challenges
to empire and in some cases to the property regime. Multiple collective
agencies of greater or lesser strength have emerged to call into question
the new imperial order, in a few instances struggling for state power.
Dipankar Bhattacharya calls attention to the new movements need
for Marxism in order to analyse and understand globalisation: We
need Marxism today not just as a doctrine of resistance. More importantly,
we have to rediscover the depth and breadth of Marxs analysis of
capitalism. We need Marxism as a guide to action as well as comprehension.
Without a Marxist analysis of social relations to challenge it, he argues,
capitalist ideology can easily portray globalisation as essentially a
matter of technology:
the discourse of globalisation is used
to camouflage capitalism and to nurture illusions about a democratic capitalism,
equating globalisation with democratisation.
Boris Kagarlitsky analyses globalisation from the standpoint of changing
relations between financial and industrial capital, changes conditioned
by a long-term crisis of profitability. At a time when the us boom of
the 1990s is coming to an end, he writes, even sections of capital will
reject neo-liberalism, which is unable to defend their interests adequately
in the new circumstances. This will contribute to a situation of political
instability whose approach is already visible in the beginnings of a new
mass movement. He calls for socialists to seize the opportunity to revitalise
the idea of democratically controlled public property and social control
A key element of a revolutionary strategy, of course, is the defence of
existing revolutions. The Cuban Revolution in the epoch of neoliberal
globalisation, adopted by the Democratic Socialist Party in Australia,
emphasises the importance of the example of the Cuban Revolution for the
worldwide struggle for socialism: The question posed is: if the
Cuban people, beset by difficulties for 40 years and target of unremitting
US hostility, can set the foundations for a humane and fair society, what
could be achieved in richer, bigger countries andby implicationon
a world scale?
As imperialism increases the gap between the First and Third Worlds, women
are the most oppressed, the most illiterate, the most underpaid,
the least likely to have or exercise citizenship rights, writes
Pat Brewer. This has led some strands of feminism to regard women as a
colonised people analogous to a Third World nation colonised by imperialism.
Brewer investigates this argument and concludes that it does not help
the struggle for liberation because it distorts and diverts the
reality of womens oppression.
Two other articles deal with the ongoing Links theme of international left collaboration. Murray Smith of the Scottish Socialist Party contributes to the continuing discussion of the forms of international collaboration. Sundaram, from the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), reports on the Indonesian police raid on the Asia-Pacific Peoples Solidarity Conference being held near Jakarta in June. While the police prevented the conference from continuing, the political battle by the organisers and participants, supported by progressive organisations around the world, turned the event into a severe embarrassment for the forces seeking to re-establish military domination of the country.