Understanding the "conjuncture."

Jose G. Perez jgperez at SPAMfreepcmail.com
Sat Dec 11 19:08:07 MST 1999


Your analysis of the three periods of post-WW2 history has no room in it for
anticolonial revolutions, the Chinese revolution, fighting the Americans &
other imperialists to a standstill in Korea, the Cuban revolution, the
Vietnamese revolution, the progressive dismantling of the major powers'
empires concluding more or less with the dismantling of the Portuguese
empire in the mid-70s, the end of apartheid regime and many other important
working class conquests.

I hate to say it, but it seems what's been systematically overlooked (or
perhaps liquidated into the phrase "radicalness of the middle class ...
marked by excess and political naiveté") is the great majority of humanity,
and that therefore this analysis would be hard to defend against charges
that it is permeated by great nation chauvinism and racism.

It also ignores (or dismisses as "middle class") the movements of oppressed
nations and nationalities, the women's
movement and countless other forms in which the class struggle has
manifested itself over the past decades in the imperialist countries. The
labeling of such movements as a whole as "middle class" (and not just such a
characterization of one or another organization in them) means the working
class movement is reduced to the narrow economic struggle of the relatively
privileged layer of imperialist country workers organized in unions, i.e.,

Despite having maintained itself as top dog in the imperialist kennel, and
having won a cheap victory over the corpse of October (handed to them on a
platter by the bureaucracy), the past half century has hardly been one of
conquest after victory for the American imperialists.

At home, the hammer blows of the civil rights movement and the women's
movement have shattered the previous juridically-enshrined forms of race and
sex discrimination, and these mainstays of the ruling class's
divide-and-conquer strategy are qualitatively  weaker than they have ever
been. Imperialism's defeat in Vietnam, brought about not just by the heroic
struggle of the Vietnamese people BUT ALSO by the struggle against the
imperialist intervention in the United States and around the world, has
proved to be a lasting one, that has qualitatively WEAKENED U.S. imperialism
for an entire historic period, and thus of world-historic importance.

To this day, the American imperialists dare not reinstitute a draft or
commit ground forces in a theater where they are likely to suffer even very
light casualties (by historical standards). Does anyone doubt that if the
U.S. rulers believed themselves as strong as they thought they were in the
1945-1965 period, they would not have tried to militarily occupy all of Iraq
during the Gulf War and all of Yugoslavia last spring and summer?

The stealth bomber that flies from bases in the U.S. to anywhere in the
world, launches its rocket-propelled, GPS-guided bombs 100 kilometers from
the target, and then hightails it back to Ohio is a technological tour de
force that is devastatingly effective against fixed targets like diplomatic
missions and TV stations. As yugoslavia showed, it isn't particularly
effective against a conventional army smart enough to make decoys out of
plywood, cardboard and paint. And it will prove completely useless against a
popular insurgency like the one that took power in Cuba in 1959 or in
Nicaragua in 1979. Troops on the ground willing to fight and die on command,
that's what it takes to crush popular liberation struggles. It is that
capacity that the heroic struggle of the Vietnamese people and the
resistance of working people in the United States destroyed, and Washington
has yet to regain it.

In addition, the imperialist camp is progressively losing the cohesiveness
that came from confronting a common enemy during the cold war. The failure
of the Seattle negotiations reflects the degree to which the various
imperialist powers are unwilling to subordinate their own narrow economic
interests for the sake of the health of the imperialist club as a whole. As
Cuba shows, it is increasingly possible to make use of the contradictions
between the different imperialist powers to advance in an anti-imperialist

I believe history will record the last decade of the 20th century as marking
the high point of imperialist power and stability in the post-cold-war
period. On the eve of the new Millennium, it is clear that the attempt to
incorporate Russia and most of the former socialist bloc as stable,
"democratic" components of world capitalism have failed. In no region of the
capitalist world does socialist consciousness among the working class appear
higher than in the former soviet bloc. The only status open for most of
these countries in the world capitalist system is that of semi-colonies. The
drive to impose that status is meeting stiffening resistance, and in
countries where the proletariat is perfectly conscious that it is possible
to overthrow one social system and put another in its place. Like in Eastern
Europe, throughout the Third World the neo-Liberal wave has crested, and the
masses are waking up to discover that the only "growth" that neo-Liberalism
has fostered is the growing indebtedness of their countries to foreign banks
and the growing control over their economies by rapacious imperialist

Considerable experience and hands-on research has convinced me that it is
an iron law of nature that the bigger the party, the bigger the hangover.
Imperialism -- and especially the American ruling class -- is headed for a
world-record morning after.


-----Original Message-----
From: Gary MacLennan <g.maclennan at qut.edu.au>
To: marxism at lists.panix.com <marxism at lists.panix.com>
Date: Friday, December 10, 1999 10:07 PM
Subject: Last Posts - Understanding the "conjuncture" was Re: Anarchism;
morepopular than marxism?

>>We're probably just lucky in Australia, but I can't help wondering if the
>>fact that we have a couple of aggressive and reasonably capable left
>>organisations reaching out to rebellious youth hasn't gone some way
>>choking off the emergence of a strong anarchist trend.  There are
>>anarchists out there, but outfits like Resistance are way ahead of them
>>when it comes to organising high school students, and similar layers.
>>So there's a lesson:  organise youth, or rather, encourage them to
>>Alan Bradley
>>alanb at elf.brisnet.org.au
>My take on this is slightly different from Alan's and that will surprise no
>one. I have no doubt that the DSP's work with Resistance has at times been
>spectacularly successful and perhaps it has eliminated the competition from
>the anarchists.  But I stay with the basic analysis that anarchists are the
>radical petty bourgeoisie and the PB depend on a strong movement among the
>working class for them to  be radical.
>I am about to leave the list for a month and millennium fever is also
>beginning to bite. I have been meaning to post a response to Lou's
>interesting revisit of Marcuse.  The question of what happened to the
>working class is of course vital. So, what the hell, here is my summary of
>post WW2 history:
>1. 40 - to 1947-9 leadership of the working class is in the hands of the
>Communist Parties. Even where Labor Govts are in power as in Australia and
>England the communist parties still enjoy a great deal of influence in key
>sections of the union movement and the cultural organisation.  Ralph Gibson
>of the CP Australia described this period as the 'interval of hope'.  It
>was also the time of Browderism where the CPs hoped to continue their
>war  time collaboration with the ruling classes.
>2. 47- 75.
>The Cold war.  The CPs are destroyed.  The left Liberals are crushed and
>intimidated totally. The working class are given their homes, cars and jobs
>and the security of the welfare state. They become thoroughly depoliticised
>and this condition persists until today. So the scissors of the Cold
>War  consists of bribing and corrupting the working class and the ruthless
>elimination of those who stayed political. However because unemployment is
>high and the capacity to get a new job is also at a record high, the
>working class become belligerent on the job and secure pay rises and a
>general slow down in the rate of exploitation.  This apolitical aggression
>transmits to the middle class and we have the 60s. This is fundamentally a
>rejection of authority, but because the working class is still apolitical
>and will not or cannot give leadership the radicalness of the middle class
>is marked by excess and political naivety. But the very success of the
>ruling class in eliminating the Communist Parties means that there is no
>one to discipline the middle class. Excess and naivety - yes but also a
>very creative ferment that deeply alarms the ruling class. The academy and
>the work place are marked out as in need of disciplining.
>3. 75-
>The communist menace is increasingly eliminated culminating in the fall of
>the Berlin Wall in 1989. The bourgeoise feel more and more confident about
>eliminating the bribes that they gave the working class.  Mass unemployment
>returns. The welfare state comes under attack.  The working class retreats
>and retreats some more.  It has no politics to explain what has
>happened.  Their leaders when not being totally venal and corrupt
>desperately seek ways to placate an ever more ruthless ruling class.  The
>middle class respond to the decline of working class militancy with a
>desperate attempt to deny reality.  This is known as post modernism. It
>becomes fashionable for a time in the universities where it destroys the
>last vestiges of Marxism.
>We are still in the Third Period and will remain there until the working
>class turns and fights. As to when this will happen or what will spark it,
>I have no idea and neither does anyone else. But there are signs change is
>in the air.  The very success of the ruling class is dialectically their
>greatest danger.  There are fewer and fewer layers between them and their
>Nemesis - the working class. Post modernism has collapsed and the academy
>is being brought under the iron heel of the market. Inevitably we are
>approaching decision time.  The system is more and more seen to benefit
>only a few. Humanity will have to chose. Even reluctant as they are the
>working class will have to emerge from the Cold War induced torpor. History

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