Bosnia - war widens

Howie Chodos howie at
Sat Jul 29 10:00:51 MDT 1995

Chris B. wrote:

>But I think there is a deeper problem. It is about our lack of confidence
>in linking marxist abstraction to concrete reality. If marxism has
>any relevance it ought to be able to comment on this cauldron. But do
>we hesitate because to do so *concretely* looks either so generalised as
>to be banal: (the representatives of the French and British bourgoisie
>have difficulty co-operating because they have competing material interests
>under the capitalist mode of production). Or does it raise the problem that
>to do anything in this concrete world we have to decide who we would rather
>compromise with, in a temporary alliance to achieve something if necessary
>against someone else.

I want to respond on two levels to Chris' post on Bosnia. The first level is
similar to Tom Condit's remarks on the implications of te overall state of
the left on our ability to intervene in this matter (with which I agreed).
The point I want to make in this regard is a bit more methodological,
though. I think that we need to be wary of bending the stick too far in the
other direction as we try to apply Marxist analyses to various situations.
What I worry about (as does Chris, if I understand correctly his reference
to the banality of certain analyses) is that we assume that because an
anlysis is informed by what seem to be sound Marxist postulates that it
clarifies everything. There is a lot of hard work involved in understanding
a situation as complex as the one in Bosnia and in proposing what is to be
done about very concrete and constantly evolving matters such as the current
Serb offensive. As Tom pointed out the lack of clarity on what to do is not
exclusively a function of inter-imperialist rivalries. This implies that
using Marxian insights into the nature of inter-imperialist conflict on its
own will not necessarily allow us to define a clear position. The problem,
therefore, appears to me to be larger than a matter of confidence, and
touches on what must we do to gradually expand our capacities both to
analyse and to intervene.

Which brings me to my second point, how to analyse the relationship between
countries like Britain and France. On the one hand they do have separate
interests, with distinct roots in their respective bourgeoisies. But, on the
other, there is the European Union, the G7, NATO, the OECD, the IMF, the
World Bank, etc., etc. It therefore seems to me to be necessary to take into
account all the dimensions of these multi-faceted relationships in trying to
account for the tensions between the two over particular tactics in the
Bosnian conflict. It also points to a difference between today's world and
the one which prevailed prior to the previous two wars, namely that the
major international alliances regroup _all_ the major players, with one
exception, the Russians. I am not suggesting that there is some kind of
Kautskian ultra-Imperialism afoot, but simply that any concrete analysis
needs to understand the different ways in which tensions between powers
co-exist with collaboration amongst them in furthering their common interests.

Howie Chodos

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