Rahul Mahajan on China and the PNTR

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Thu Dec 21 14:04:01 MST 2000

This just appeared on the Socialist Register mailing list. Rahul was a
denizen of the old Marxism list in the wild and woolly days of the Shining
Path wars. You should have seen some of the flames he directed at Adolfo
Olaechea. It would make anything that's appeared on this list from the
beginning look like a creampuff. Here is Sid Schniad's intro to the piece
and the first few paragraphs. I put the entire article on the web at:
http://www.marxmail.org/rahul_mahajan.htm since it is kind of long (15 pages).

This lengthy analysis challenges some of the fundamental tenets of Northern-
based activists who have been involved in the struggle against the WTO, etc.
Well worth the read.


Movement for Global Justice? An Antiwar Activist Examines the Fight
over PNTR with China

        by Rahul Mahajan

        "Remember, America still has the biggest economy in the world, we're
        the most powerful country -- we can make our own rules, instead of
        letting them (the rest of the world) make the rules for us."

                  --  a Teamster speaking against the WTO at a Forum on
Globalization in Austin, Texas

        This has been a remarkable year. What some are starting to call the
Movement for Global Justice announced itself to the world with a bang,
first in Seattle with protests aimed against the Millennium Round meeting
of the World Trade Organization, later in Washington, DC, with protests
against the annual joint meeting of the IMF and World Bank. For the first
time in many years, progressives in the United States can scent a whiff of
possibility rather than of despair in the air.
        Although the movement has been a long time in building, most would
agree that it has reached a qualitative turning point. With its newfound
mass exposure and with the recent assimilation of large numbers of
activists into the struggle, the necessity for examining the strengths and
weaknesses of the movement is particularly pressing.
        The single most important thing about Seattle was the unprecedented
solidarity shown by groups usually pitted against one another by the
divide-and-conquer logic of global capitalism. While much has been made
of the labor-environmentalist alliance (Teamsters and Turtles unite), of
equal importance was the alliance between Northern and Southern labor
and farmers, unimaginable just a few years ago.
        It has become a commonplace that to resist globalized capitalism one
must globalize resistance, and Seattle was most certainly a tremendous
first step. Nonetheless, the new coalitions being formed are still very
fragile and tentative - as Francis Fukuyama, no longer proclaiming the
end of history, recently wrote in Time magazine, "the AFL-CIO will turn on
dolphins or sea turtles the moment one of these creatures threatens the
job of a unionized worker."
        More fragile yet is the uncertain alliance between North and South.
        The battle over the recent vote in the House on Permanent Normal
Trade Relations with China (PNTR was approved by a vote of 237-197)
has severely frayed that alliance, and undermined the basis, slowly built
over several years, for international solidarity. A strange coalition of old-
school anti-Communists, new-style populist-nativists like Pat Buchanan,
and, most critically, the core of the progressive movement in the U.S.,
trade unions, churches, and citizens' advocacy groups, combined to
oppose PNTR, with the rhetoric of the left often almost indistinguishable
from that of the right.
        One of the most critical questions for progressives in the U.S. is
whether this is to be a global anti-capitalist movement or a primarily
U.S.-based economic nationalist movement. The PNTR fight sent
exactly the wrong message to the world, that this is just another
"Buy American" campaign replete with the Yellow Peril-ism that is
such a time-honored American tradition.
        The problems with this fight, and, indeed, with the larger
movement, cannot be coherently addressed without a clear
understanding of the role of the U.S. in the world, and of the nature
of the responsibility that puts on the left in this country.

Louis Proyect
Marxism mailing list: http://www.marxmail.org

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