Leo Panitch on 9/11

Henry C.K. Liu hliu at mindspring.com
Fri Dec 7 23:51:30 MST 2001

Louis Proyect wrote:

>                         The Meaning of September 11th for the Left
>                                         by Leo Panitch
> The world-wide coalition against terrorism that the US has built is
> explicitly designed to legitimate and sustain every state's repression of
> the separatist groups (along with other dissident groups) within them. Less
> well known than the free hand being now given to the Russians in Chechnya
> is the free hand being given to the Chinese Communist-capitalist elite to
> act against the Muslim separatists in their westernmost province (where
> already 20 groups have been banned and many hundreds of people have been
> arrested in the past months) without fear that this will be used by the
> Americans against them in their ongoing negotiations over the terms of
> integration into the capitalist world economy.

As far as the Chinese left is concerned, which appears to be infinitely more
sensible than the self-proclaimed Canadian left, if suppressing Islam fundamentalit
anti-socialist separatists would cause the US to oppose China's integration into the
capitalist world economy, it would be killing two birds with one stone.
Furthermore, by the time the US war on terrorism was launched, China had for all
practical purposes been cleared for WTO acession, save some outstanding negotiation
on technical details with the EU and Mexico.   Leo Panitch's analysis is
conceptually flawed as well as factually wrong.

He writes: "There has to be an alternative for the 21st century other than what
September 11th and its immediate aftermath represent. That alternative can only be
defined in terms of independent but cooperative democratic socialist states."

In the 20th century, more people have been killed in the name of defending democracy
than any other
ideological conflict.  The funny thing about defending democracy is that its
defenders tend to rain war on
regions where democracy had never existed, will most likely never take root if left
alone, and where the
prospect of democracy taking hold in the future is nil.  When the Catholic Church,
the world most
authocratic institution, also climbed on the democracy wagon to perpetuate its
forced eveangelism, the
way it climbed on the imperialism wagon in the 19th century, the world is forced to
embrace democracy
even if the majority should vote against it.  Disreali promoted democracy in
conjunction with imperialism.  Neo-liberalism claims a causal effect between
democracy and  prosperity.  Capitalism is forced on former socialist economies in
the name of democracy, causing social disintegration.  One man, one vote is an
obvious sham.  Representative democarcy is a devise to dilute the equal weight of
popular votes.  Athenian democacy, where the unemployment problem is solved with the
institution of slavery, fell because it was a highly flawed politcal system.
National policies under democratic systems had not proved in history to be more
humane, or moral, than national policies under other forms of government, including
monarchy, theocracy and dictatorship.

As human society progesses, democarcy will be included on the list of 10 most
destructive ideas of
human civilization.

In terms of inequality, it seems that a planet may be better off without any
democracies. Historically, the rise of democracies coincided with a period of
unprecedented global inequality.

Absolute global inequality between states, as the gap between the gross domestic
product (GDP) per capita in the poorest and the richest state, is greater since
modern democracies emerged relative inequality between states, as the ratio of per
capita GDP in the richest and poorest states, is greater since modern democracies
emerged statistical measures of 'national-income' inequality will show a greater
coefficient of inter-state inequality in the period of democracies (about the last
150 years) than before it inter-state inequalities of this kind are greater between
democracies and non-democracies, than within the group of democracies, or the group
of non-democracies.  It can be argued that democracy is a luxury that the rich can
afford only after they exploited the rest of the world.  Democracy is like table
manners of the bourgeoisie: it is a ritual of well being, not the root cause of well

According to the most recent figures from the World Bank, about 2,8 billion people
have an 'income' of under $2 a day. Of these, 1,2 billion live on less than $1 a
day. The income ratio - of the poorest 20 countries to the richest 20 - has doubled
in the last 40 years. And for that time at least, most of these rich countries were
democracies. There are a few rich non-democracies, such as the United Arab Emirates,
and some poor democracies such as Cape Verde. But the correlation between a
democratic regime and prosperity is now so strong, that some democracy theorists see
prosperity as a pre-condition of democracy. Neoliberals claim a causal link in the
other direction - "democracy makes you rich". Perhaps - but the statistics suggest
it does so by keeping others poor.

Henry C.K. Liu

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