On Making "Geo-Strategic" Mean "Peripheral" and on the "Conspiracy Exemption"
Gorojovsky at arnet.com.ar
Wed Dec 12 18:45:58 MST 2001
I kept the "Subj." line just for the sake of those who want to track the debate
back to its origin.
But I have something different to say here.
Louis Pr has given concisely and clearly exposed his basic position on the
Central Asian question, which if I am not wrong is shared to the last comma by,
among others, the knowledgeable (in things Russian) Mark Jones.
Maybe what has been debated here was NOT whether the American Establishment was
wicked enough to unleash a Sept. 11 on its own people, or not. Maybe the
debate turned around a very different, but completely related, question: "are
the Russian masses completely defeated, and has the Russian state ceased to
represent a menace to imperialism?". From the answer one gives to this
question stems the likelihood that one accepts that the imperialist circles
find some interest in encircling the fSU or not.
Louis Pr, Mark J, and many others seem to give a cutting "yes" for an answer.
Thus, they extract the conclusion "why should then the US Establishment take
such pains to encircle a toothless mole, a mole whose brain has been mesmerised
by a generalized attack of BSE, and who have already been surrendered, with
shackles and all, to our own interest"? I can't but honestly thank Lou Pr for
the clarity with which he has stated this position, and I mean it.
Others, like Jared I, Michael Ch, and yours truly, tend to give a different
answer. We believe, like the Spanish poet that "los muertos que vos matáis /
gozan de buena salud" (the dead that you kill / enjoy good health) or, as Mark
Twain would have had it, that "the news on the death of the Russian masses and
the absence of danger in their ruling strata have been greatly exaggerated".
Much as I thank Lou Pr for having stated his point so clearly, I don't agree at
all with his labelling of such a position as "Slavophillic". Speaking for
myself, at least, I want to stress that from this faraway vintage point it
looks like there is a contradiction between Putin's interest in partially
rebuilding a strong ("Czarist", if you want) Russian state and the interest of
the imperialists. This is a contradiction that, in fact, has been fueling
Russia's relationship with the bourgeoisie in the West from the days of Peter
the Great, to say the least.
And, yes, I have written "Russia's", not "the Russian ruling classes's" or "the
Russian working classes's". Russia did not enter the imperialist era as an
imperialist power but as a mixture of backward Empire (from St. Petersburg over
Central Asia) and semicolonial country(1), a mixture that has been wonderfully
depicted both in Carr's and Deutscher's monumental works.
In a sense -and the comparison is made here just for the sake of clarity in the
exposition- the situation was similar to that of the Ottoman Empire at the same
time. But Russia did not deliver a bourgeois Ataturk. She delivered a full-
sized socialist revolution. The socialist revolution, in the conditions that
history had put her, could not shun the basic tasks that any self-respecting
state had to tackle in order to survive, first among them to chase away the
representatives of imperialist power from the territory of the Soviets.
Carr's chapter "From dispersal to Union" in Vol. 3 of his History of Soviet
Russia, though in my own view loses some important insights on the reactionary
features of the passage from the "Federation" to the "Union" in 1923 (yes, yes,
here is Néstor the old Trotskyist!), is essential in this sense.
So that I see a continuity of the old tradition of the Czars in the new
socialist country, a continuity that was taken to the height of a dogma by
Stalin ("Socialism in one country") instead of accepting it as a temporary
tragedy imposed by the circumstances, but a necessary continuity nevertheless.
This continuity is, in itself, a problem for imperialists. Because Russia
cannot be accepted in the capitalist world order as a "subimperialist" power,
as Lou Pr has recently said.
To begin with, let me state here that there are NO subimperialisms, there is NO
place for "subimperialisms". There was, for example, much chatter on "Brazilian
subimperialism" in Latin America during the late 60s and early 70s, but this
was empty and (centrally) non-Marxist chatter. No Brazilian private enterprise
could ever profit from any kind of "sub-imperialist" hegemony in Latin America,
only American firms would have harvested the revenues. To the degree that
there was some hegemonic intentionality in the Brazilian military circles of
those years, this intentionality ran AGAINST the interests of the American
boss, and was never anything more than a drunkard's dream in the air-
conditioned classrooms of the School of War in Brasilia. Brazilian "hegemonism"
flourished later, however. The name of the flower is Mercosur. And certainly it
is under strong attack from the United States.
In the current world scenario, it would be still more laughable to imagine that
a country of the size of Russia, a country with a strong tradition of military
defence, a country that IS STILL AN ATOMIC POWER, can be accepted as a
subordinate _partner_ (that is, basically on equal status) by the West and
Japan. Putin may well believe that this can be done. It is to his shame that he
may think that. This cannot be done. Putin is expressing, once again, the idea
that there can be some degree of coexistence between a relatively prosperous
Russia and the West, idea which first took the form of "Socialism in one
state", then that of "peaceful coexistence", later on that of Gorbachev's
"common European heritage", and ultimately broke down into Yeltsin's orgy of
_actual_ peaceful coexistence...
If Russia is to put a full stop to the great experiment of October, she must
put a full stop to any pretension of becoming a regional power with interests
of her own. That is, a Russia integrated to the imperialist system should
seriously accept its own final dissolution. As Brzezinsky coldly put it, Russia
is simply too big. And it is not only a matter of demographic weight or of
geographic extension: even though it is under demolition, Russia still owns too
great a mass of technological and scientifical know-how not to be considered a
danger while she keeps herself together.
Well, now I could be challenged: wait a minute, Néstor, don't you think that
this enormous semi-colony can be suckered into becoming a member of NATO, thus
satisfying its military personnel and extending the power of the West to the
frontiers of China (another point of contention: are the Chinese masses also
Yes, Russia _may_ be included into NATO, and certainly there are sizable
fractions of the ruling clique there who are only too eager to be included.
They imagine themselves fulfilling the role that the Argentinean military
imagined they were fulfilling during the late 70s/early 80s in Central America.
But they are kidding themselves. In the same way that Galtieri was ruthlessly
sent to a war against Mrs. Thatcher by Mr. Haigh (with a mischievous winkle
that would mean nothing when cannons began to speak), those Russian leaders who
believe that they may turn the country into an oil and gas-exporting lapdog of
the West will sooner than they imagine discover that the West will not accept
them in the club. In the end, they are repeating the stupid dream of
Gorbachev, who expected that Russia would be accepted in full equality by the
Western powers and would be allowed to carry on some kind of Scandinavian
idyllic "socialist" course in the brethren of "civilized nations". Substitute
"social-democrat" for "state-bourgeois", and you have the new formula.
But much to the grief of these people, _if_ Russia were accepted into NATO,
then NATO would change its meaning. It would become a different kind of an
alliance, much more like the ASEAN than like what it has historically been.
Russia would never be accepted on an equality status in NATO, because the
interests of the West lie in _colonizing_ Russia, not in _integrating_ her as a
full member of the imperialist club. The doors of that club are closed since
the late decades of the 19th. Century. Nobody has managed to traverse them ever
since, nor will anybody traverse them in the future.
Then, there can be other outcomes. But not too many. From the point of view of
imperialists, the best solution to the Russian riddle (because a riddle it is)
would be the loosening of the ties between the different parts of Russia, (for
example, through a series of friendly agreements between, say, local governors
with subtle support from the "civilized" powers), and eventually the creation
of three or four republics stretching from the Magadan to Kaliningrad.
In the scenarios above, there is a great absent: the Russian people. Quite
amazingly, since those who Louis Pr labels "Slavophiles" have also been scolded
-wrongly- for considering the ruling classes in the West almost unable to make
a mistake, the line of thought followed by Louis Pr, Mark J, etc., does not
take into account that essential factor in class struggle, the mass of the
Russians who are the basic constituency of the country in debate.
And what I am particularly interested in pointing out is that the final word on
what will happen in Russia is still to be said. Ordinary people in Russia have
not entered the scene. Mark J has turned from admiration of Zyuganov to fully
rejecting him as a Quisling. Both positions may be wrong. Zyuganov is not
Lenin, of course. Not at all. But the very fact that his party exists shows
that he is an expression of the rage of the Russian masses, an expression that
many on this list don't care about, but the imperialists certainly are smarter
than all of us (and probably better informed).
The _objective_ programe represented by the resiliency of the Russian masses, a
resistence that for the time being has the far from pretty face of Zyuganov, is
to _at least_ recover the independence of the Russian state (as such, yes, as a
"common asset" of all classes in Russia _except for the Yeltsinite gang_). This
programme is a menace in itself for the New World Order, particularly under the
current conditions, the impending slump, and the perspective of a last race for
oil and gas.
The problem with such a programme is that it simply cannot be taken to full
completion without the active support of the Russian population. And the
Russian population will not, in my own opinion, give such a support if her
basic necessities are not taken care of. Every anti-working class law that
passes the Duma puts further stress in the contradiction between the intention
of the Russian ruling gang (to strengthen the state in order to better
negotiate the incorporation of Russia as a colony in the world order) and the
ultimate necessities of the Russian masses that are supposed to support that
project (to have a state that cares about the Russian citizens more than about
the foreign ones). This contradiction is an unsurmountable one. It can be
either elliminated by elliminating Russia (this is what I believe the West is
trying to do) or superated by a new wave of socialist revolution.
This is what Louis Pr calls "Slavophilia", at least in my case. I strongly
reject that derogatory word, which puts me on the same platoon of Ouspensky and
Dostoyevsky. I still consider myself on the platoon of Herzen and Lenin.
N O T E S
(1) Among other reasons because the eyes of the German bourgeoisie have been
cast on Central Asia and Siberia since at least 1880 --please refer to the
great investment in "geographic exploration" made by German scientists in the
area by those times.
Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
gorojovsky at arnet.com.ar
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