MDC and cooption

jenyan1 jenyan1 at
Mon May 21 18:50:00 MDT 2001

On Mon, 21 May 2001, Patrick Bond wrote:

> > 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?
> "Only"? Against the apartheid regime until 1994? Against the junta
> ruling Haiti in Jean-Bertrand Aristide's place until 1994? Against
> the Burmese SLORC today?
> As you know, comrade, a Third World movement that calls for
> international solidarity needs all tools at its disposal. And often
> sanctions can weaken the internal bourgeois forces in the run-up to
> the transition. I'd hate to think of how much further the ANC would
> have sold out the cause, had we all not been responsible for evicting
> Barclays, Standard, Citibank and the like during the late 1980s.
The actual relationship between the apartheid state and western capital
makes this the exception. In the case of the apartheid regime, the
struggle to impose sanctions was really by way of forcing western capital
to dump its racist ally, which it eventually did, reluctantly.

> > 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.
> Maybe you haven't read my efforts -- which I think are as rigorous as
> anyone commenting on Zimbabwe -- to uncover the neoliberal and
> imperialist role in the MDC. That's ok, I didn't put the correct URL
> for the long article there (no internet access from home, sorry). But
> if you want, I'll send you offlist the first left critiques written
> of the MDC, which I started penning even before the formal launch of
> the party and its leadership (e.g. in Monthly Review, July 1999).
If you could send them offline (or give a correct URL).
> But yes, sometimes a dictator is so very bad that a principled left
> position is to accept imperialist backing to ditch him, or engages
> in formal alliances with the West (e.g. against Hitler, or against
> formal apartheid) to achieve a temporary aim.
You are knowingly or unknowingly rewriting history here. The main powers
in the west gave far more material and moral succour to the apartheid
regime than its opponents ever recieved. Indeed the western powers were
only involved in the struggle against apartheid inasmuch as it was
possible for the opponents of apartheid to convince these powers that
their ally would soon become too great a liablility. Much the same goes
for the other examples you mentioned, particularly germany.
> I don't know if leftists in Kenya have made any similar arguments
> about how to ditch Moi in the short term, but maybe you can enlighten
> us.
The social and political problems stored up by this regime over the last
forty years (let's not forget that it's always been the most significant
client of the West in the region) have now grown to such dire proportions
that it is absurd to treat them any longer as the embodiment of the
personal or  political flaws of Arap Moi or any other individual. However,
certain, or perhaps most, factions in the political elite are quite
content with variations on this form of personality politics which is well
suited to their ends, namely exploiting the ongoing crises of the
neocolonial state to their own maximum advantage. Note for instance that
the opposition to Moi has now coalesced around the figure of Mwai Kibaki,
none other than Moi's former vice-president and, like Moi himself, a
veteran insider from the Kenyatta regime.

This reflects Kenya's longstanding status as a client state, a situation
in which it often makes sense for various contesting factions to bandy
around stock liberal phrases while seeking to reassure the true powers
that be that in a change of the guard they would loose nothing or perhaps
even enjoy a more complaisant and competent local management.

> > Bogey Men, third world "dictators" and other ogres are the favourite
> > currency of liberal and humanitarian imperialists.
> Come to Zimbabwe, comrade, and test the ogre by pushing a left line.
Isn't this a form of TINA?

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