[Marxism] What kind of socialism are we talking about here?

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Wed Mar 15 09:13:57 MST 2006

Mind-reading is a specialized skill which isn't available to all.
Predictions about others' intentions aren't invariably reliable.
Nevertheless, facts are stubborn things. Roger Burbach's critical
assessment of Michelle Bachelet's prospects opens up with one key 
point: her sharp increase in the number of women in her cabinet.
Some people, particularly if they are men, dismiss this, but why?

Political change and consciousness-raising is a process. It's not
completed all at once, but takes place over time and in phases. 
Those dismissing Bachelet's election are acting as if she were a
just another Margaret Thatcher. In fact, she's a reform-minded
social democrat whose father was tortured by the dictatorship 
whose army remains in place in Chile. When I see Pinochet in
handcuffs I'll know that something far more significant has by
then taken place in Chile. But why dismiss what HAS happened?
No one has claimed that Bachelet is a revolutionary or that a
revolution is taking place there, unless I've missed something.

A specter is haunting Washington and the world it seeks to create:
The specter of a world not dominated by Washington. International
recomposition, in the wake of the fall of the Soviet Union is on 
the march. Capitalism may be have been restored to Russia and the 
former Soviet Union broken up into smaller, more digestable, more
swallowable morsels proceeds apace. New international alignments 
are developing, including a process of regional integration which 
is developing in Latin America. ALBA, Telesur and the others are
indications of how this process is proceeding. It IS proceeding.
Proceeding unevenly, sometimes faster, sometimes slower, it goes
forward whether recognized or not.

Noam Chomsky explains the process of political recomposition and
continental integration very well in his recent Radio Havana Cuba
interview. where Chomsky makes ONE point relevant to these issues: 
"Chile is claimed as being a market economy but that's highly 
misleading: its main export is a very efficient state owned 
copper company nationalized under Allende." 

Propaganda from the corporations and some of the professors and
universities do everything they can to teach the world that you can't
fight city hall and win. Or that capitalism as it is marks the 
end of history. Nothing can be done, and so nothing should be done.
Everything which doesn't come in a predictable form should be
condemned. Everything which doesn't fit in a planned and preferred
package isn't acceptable, we're told. That's also why where crude
propaganda doesn't always work, a slicker variety is then produced
in its stead. CRASH was treated to this treatment as was SYRIANA.
Living in Los Angeles, I can tell you that CRASH resonated greatly
both for me and the other activist friends I went to see it with.
The director, Paul Haggis, will speak at Saturday's anti-war demo,
so it's clear he's on our side of these kinds of cultural divides.

On Sunday I saw SYRIANA, a picture which couldn't be more timely. 
A central sub-plot in the movie is a conspiracy by Washington to
orchestrate the overthrow of the Iranian government. In the film you
see an organization being created by U.S. corporations called the
CLI, the Committee to Liberate Iran, which is formed by U.S. oil
companies with the obvious complicity of Washington. 

One character is played by Matt Damon, who makes a living, such as it
is, trying to pull together internaitional oil speculation schemes.
In one section of the film he accepts an invitation by an Arab sheik
to visit, taking his children, one of whom is killed in a swimming
pool accident. He decides to stay there, working as he is on a deal
to back a reform-minded sheik to become the king of his country, and
who is in competition for that job with his brother, who would
clearly be subservient to the U.S. oil industry. The plot is rather
convoluted, and is reminicent of Traffik in that respect, but the
movie fits in with current preoccupations perfectly. Whatever flaws
it may have as a movie (jangly movement, too many bits and pieces,
in which I found myself getting lost in the details. Hopefully such
movies, to the extent that they are viewed, can contribute to the
development of political consciousness, breaking with the dominant

Walter Lippmann
Los Angeles

p.s. It doesn't occur to me to tell anyone else on this list what they
should be interested in, or what political outlook they should hold.
Still, redbaiting IS redbaiting. For example:

Maybe you hadn't noticed, but Walter is carrying out a typical 
party (of one) intervention here. Nobody else has taken it upon 
themselves to systematically disseminate newspaper articles 
revolving around a particular ideological theme. 

I understand that Walter has attached himself to the Cause of the 
Cuban Revolution, which in his mind means defending every diplomatic 
initiative found in the Cuban press.

The election of a Chilean Social Democrat is a sign of what? 
That socialism is somehow hastened by this victory? Is there 
any point to distinguishing ourselves from the Socialist 
International? Maybe it is time to dust off and reconsider 
the merits of Karl Kautsky.


Bachelet's Presidential Victory: A Leftward Drift in Chile?
By Roger Burbach

The resounding victory of Michelle Bachelet as Chile's 
first woman president represents an important social 
advance in a country where women are often treated 
as second class citizens. 

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