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We may put aside the framework, with its brooding over the immutable "essence" of Sovietism and its many insights: that Stalin was "the hero of the left," while "the liberal-to-radical mainstream of Anglo-American Sovietology" regarded Stalinism as having "a democratic cast"; that scholarship indulged in "blatant fantasies...about democratic Stalinism," and "puerile fetishization of Lenin" and the "democratic transformation" that follows from Leninism, while simultaneously regarding Stalin as "an aberration from the Leninist main line of Sovietism" (Z sees no inconsistency in these attributions, though he is derisive about the "conceptual confusions" of the leftists who dominate academic scholarship); that Lenin "produced the world's first version of noncapitalism"; that Lenin and Trotsky regarded October 1917 as "the ultimate revolution, the revolution to end all further need of revolutions"; that "Brezhnev intervened at will throughout the Third World" and "Russia bestrode the world." And others that may help to explain why the author preferred anonymity.97
Stripping all this away, the document contains one general thesis and an accompanying policy recommendation. The thesis is that "there is no third way between Leninism and the market, between bolshevism and constitutional government." The recommendation is that Western aid should be limited to "the piecemeal development of parallel structures in a private sector operating on market principles...," with "free economic zones operating under International Monetary Fund conditions" spreading from the periphery to the interior of the USSR.
The thesis has a minor defect: its first dichotomy rules out of existence all the industrial democracies (not to speak of South Korea, Taiwan, and the other "economic miracles"), all of which depart sharply from market principles; its second dichotomy also denies the existence of most of the world, neither Bolshevist nor constitutional. The recommendation, however, is straightforward enough: the Soviet empire should be converted into another region of the Third World. The rest can be dismissed as an effort to endow this basic concept with an aura of seriousness (and to lash out at hated academic enemies).
There is much concern in the United States over the fact that its rivals, particularly German-led Europe, are well ahead in the enterprise of converting the vast "East Bloc" into a new Third World, which can provide resources, markets, investment opportunities, and cheap labor, and perform other useful chores. Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan describes the "huge investment requirement" and "potential for significant rates of return" in Eastern Europe as "the most important financial issue of the [coming] decade," with "no historical precedent." But the relative decline of U.S. economic power during the Reagan years has reduced the U.S. capacity to compete for this rich prize, and the increasing dependence on foreign lenders leaves the economy vulnerable as rival powers turn to the opportunities for enrichment in the new regions opening up for exploitation. "We have lost a lot of our authority as a leader in the world," U.S. Trust Company economic consultant James O'Leary says, echoing the sentiments of many Wall Street economists: "Ten or 15 years ago we didn't have to pay much attention to what happened elsewhere. Now we are just one of the boys."98
Liberal Democrats urge that aid be diverted from Central America to Eastern Europe to advance the U.S. cause in the race to exploit these newly accessible domains; the term "aid" is a euphemism for methods by which the taxpayer funds business efforts to enhance market penetration and investment opportunities. The matter is too serious to be disguised in the usual cloak of noble intent. Thus Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, criticizing a New York Times editorial calling for aid for the promising new "democracies" in Panama and Nicaragua, writes that:
The United States is left at the starting gate in Eastern Europe. You almost sound consoling in your observation that "Western Europe and Japan are already addressing Eastern Europe's needs." You can bet they are -- and that is the problem. The vast trade and investment potential of Eastern Europe is rapidly being oriented toward our main trade competitors. We debate how to clean up two foreign policy debacles in Central America while the markets of 120 million people in Eastern Europe are being opened by Japan and the European community.99
In congressional debate, Leahy stressed that "foreign aid must do much more to strengthen American economic competitiveness abroad." Contrary to public oratory, aid is "not some international charity or welfare program." "Properly designed, it can be an investment in new trading partners, growing export markets, and more jobs in our export industries here at home," the guiding ideas since the Marshall Plan. In the current circumstances, "our foreign assistance program must be aimed at strengthening U.S. economic involvement in the emerging democracies of Eastern Europe. We are being left behind by Western European and Japanese firms who get direct support from their governments," and our "Eastern European initiative" should be "aimed at strengthening the ability of American business to participate in the opening of this enormous new market as we enter the 21st century." Our competitors are government-backed, and the Export-Import Bank as well as our aid program should "help American businesses compete against these subsidized nations that are taking these markets away from us in Africa, Asia, and Latin America" as well. "The foreign aid bill can give American business more tools to combat predatory financing, tied aid and mixed credits... To compete with Japan and Western European interests, we have to back our commercial interests as effectively as the countries that are in competition for these markets" -- and whose commitment to the "free market" is, in fact, on a par with ours; fine for those who expect come out ahead in the competition, not to be taken seriously by others.100
Such factors as these will shape the new methods for continuing the war against the Third World, now under a different guise and with a more varied array of competing actors. Popular forces in the United States and Europe have placed certain barriers in the path of state terror, and have offered some help to those targeted for repression, but unless they gain considerably in scale and commitment, the future for the traditional victims looks grim.
Grim, but not hopeless. With amazing courage and persistence, the wretched of the earth continue to struggle for their rights. And in the industrial world, with Bolshevism disintegrating and capitalism long abandoned, there are prospects for the revival of libertarian socialist and radical democratic ideals that had languished, including popular control of the workplace and investment decisions, and, correspondingly, the establishment of more meaningful political democracy as constraints imposed by private power are reduced. These and other emerging possibilities are still remote, but no more so than the possibility of parliamentary democracy and elementary rights of citizenship 250 years ago. No one knows enough to predict what human will can achieve.
We are faced with a kind of Pascal's wager: assume the worst, and it will surely arrive; commit oneself to the struggle for freedom and justice, and its cause may be advanced.
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97 The author was later identified as U. of California professor Martin Malia, who then alleged that anonymity was necessary to protect his friends in Moscow (NYT, Aug. 31, 1990).
98 David Francis, "US Edgy as Money Flows to Europe," Christian Science Monitor, Feb. 26, 1990.
99 Letter, NYT, April 10, 1990.
100 Sen. Patrick Leahy, "New Directions in U.S. Foreign Aid Policy," Congressional Record, S 7672, June 11, 1990.