MDC and cooption

jenyan1 jenyan1 at
Sun May 20 19:31:41 MDT 2001

On Sun, 20 May 2001, Patrick Bond wrote:

> Just away in Accra all last week; a report coming soon...
> > Date:          Fri, 18 May 2001 21:57:07 +0200
> > From:          Grinker <grinker at>
> > Jared is right.  The argument of e.g. most of the left in South Africa is
> > that, as the MDC supports the imposition of western sanctions, so should we.
> No, since the MDC and civil society are too scared (really!) to
> support sanctions, there are no leftists I know of in South Africa
> who are pushing the line... but that may change...
Have not sanctions in the last decade become a most notorious weapon in
the arsenal of the north, a form of silent warfare and genocide which can
only be employed by the West and are only ever used against the South?

> Anyhow, the left currents go far deeper in the MDC and amongst its
> civil society allies. And so too do the pro-neoliberal currents. (My
> long paper on this is now up, I think, at
> )
> > It is not the business of a
> > principled left to interrogate the politics of  nationalist leaders in
> > countries under active threat from the west while the last remnants of their
> > sovereignty are in the process of being whittled away.  Support in such
> > cases must surely be unconditional.
> Come off it, comrade Russell, this aversion to quality control is
> what gives the left a bad name. Mugabe a "nationalist leader"
> when his economic policies--in league with the WB/IMF for most of the
> last two decades--have wrecked national sovereignty?
It is sophistry, this shedding tears over the supposed inadequacies of
Mugabe to legitimate an unholy and opportunist alliance between supposed
"leftists" and the neoliberals in the MDC and to cover the imperialist
agenda of this organisation.

> And his brutal political authoritarianism disqualifies unconditional
> support.  The urban proletariat hate Mugabe's guts, you know that. And last
> June during parliamentary elections I travelled the entire eastern
> province of the country top to bottom and have never -- not in
> Port-au-Prince, Chiapas, SA townships -- seen such evidence of terror
> as I saw in those rural hamlets.

Bogey Men, third world "dictators" and other ogres are the favourite
currency of liberal and humanitarian imperialists. It's not surprising
therefore, to see the MDC or its supporters trading in such.

> > Defending Zimbabwe doesn't have to mean political identification with
> > Mugabe - practical opposition to all forms of western intervention is what
> > is needed.
> Ah, Russell, would you therefore oppose Clare Short's recent
> imposition of aid sanctions?
> Zim Daily News, 12 April
>                 UK scraps $200m aid
>                 Staff Reporter
>                 4/12/01 7:10:01 PM (GMT +2)
>                 THE British government has withdrawn aid worth more
>                 than $200 million to the Privatisation Agency of
>                 Zimbabwe (PAZ) and another programme aimed at
>                 strengthening trade policy capacity within the
>                 government in yet another slap in the face of Harare
>                 by a key development partner.
Now, could you kindly explain why Russell or anyone here should
consider it a loss that the former colonial power has withdrawn its
financial support from the Privatisation Agency of Zimbabwe? Is the
PAZ an organisation you support? This might explain a lot.

For the record, the nauseating expertise of Clare Short in the arts of
cooption and seduction of liberal-leftists and "civil society" have
already been observed, albeit in rather mild terms, elsewhere:

 Those who follow the chameleon enthusiasms of Clare
 Short, Blair's Secretary of State for International
 Development and defender of globalisation and illegal
 bombing, will note her latest: "untying" British aid from
 trade deals with British companies. Her stated reasons
 seem so sensible. Why should poor countries, she says,
 be restricted to British commercial contracts? Surely
 that is "unfair"? What she omits to say is that the Blair
 government is at the forefront of "liberalising" the entire
 procurement and contracting system in the third world:
 booty worth three trillion dollars, more than
 international trade.

 This "untying" will allow British and other rich-world
 transnational corporations eventually to secure
 contracts in domestic markets previously barred to
 them. By comparison, the 14 per cent of the British aid
 budget presently exploited by British companies is
 chicken feed. This was not debated at Seattle, and there
 is the danger of a behind-closed-doors fait accompli.

 In Britain, one of the obstacles to mounting an
 opposition to this is the compliance of leading voluntary
 agencies, or non-government organisations. The
 "euphoria" of certain NGOs following Gordon Brown's
 "debt relief" announcement comes after a long
 seduction. NGOs represent the "civil society" courted
 by new Labour. Having become dependent on
 government funding and gone some of the way with the
 fakery of "productivity" linked to poverty relief, and
 having in recent years "restructured" their
 organisations right down to the use of claptrap market
 jargon, the more ambitious in the NGOs are in danger
 of slipping into bed with new Labour, the government of
 business. A few, such as Action Aid, remain
 unseduced, and there are those who clearly have
 serious doubts: witness the report by Louise Jury and
 Matthew Lockwood, Millennium Lottery: who lives,
 who dies in an age of third world debt? published last
 month by Christian Aid.

 When Peter Mandelson and his co-author Roger Liddle
 outlined in their book one of the blueprints for new
 Labour, they identified Britain's "economic strengths"
 as the transnational corporations, the "aerospace"
 industry (arms) and the "pre- eminence of the City of
 London". The evidence is now irrefutable; new Labour
 is a major facilitator of capital and of the sinister
 changes planned for the world's economy as part of
 globalisation. (John Pilger, New Statesman 10/1/2000).

More information about the Marxism mailing list