In my last post, (“The new imperialist strategy” 8/20/2018, found in the category US Imperialism or the category Critique of the Left), I discussed the new imperialist strategy of cultivating relations with supposedly leftist intellectuals in nations with socialist and progressive governments, in order to disseminate false claims that these governments are authoritarian and/or corrupt. The strategy has been effective in generating confusion among U.S. intellectuals and activists of the Left, taking advantage of the inherent tendency of the U.S. Left to distrust authority in any form. And taking advantage of the Left’s limited consciousness of the international projection of China, Russia, and the socialist and progressive governments of the Third World, which envisions the construction of an alternative, more just and sustainable world-system, transforming neocolonial structures of domination that are integral to the capitalist world-economy.
My comments referred specifically to the cases of Nicaragua, Cuba, and China, and they were based, in addition to my own experiences, on a perceptive article by Roger Harris in Counterpunch, “Chomsky on Regime Change in Nicaragua.”
With respect to my August 20 post on “The new imperialist strategy,” Harris has written to me as follows:
Based on my experience, your commentary about the left-in-form/right-in-essence dissident leftists is right on target. We ran into them in Honduras after the 2009 coup that removed Mel Zelaya from office. They called themselves Artists and Intellectuals Against the Coup. They mainly came from middle class backgrounds, were very articulate, associated with NGOs, and spoke English. They were the main contacts with us and other international solidarity activists. Within 2-3 years, however, they imploded due to internal divisions. But by that time, they had turned against Zelaya and were giving lip service to the imperialists. More recently, this same tendency has been popping up in Venezuela (e.g., Marea Socialista) who push the idea that the Maduro government should at this time convert the country to a communal state, which is not unlike the promotion by some U.S. leftists of cooperatives in Cuba.
Harris also writes,
You mention psychological factors such as ego contributing to this ultra-left dissident tendency. I won’t comment on that, but would add two other factors which I think are important. First is their class basis, which tends to be middle class; they are not the campesinos and workers. They often have ties to the corrupting world of NGOs. Second, ideologically they tend toward anarchism and/or libertarianism. They counter-pose bottom-up with top-down initiatives, rather than seeing a dialectical unity between base and leadership. As you perceptively point out, they are distrustful of the state and have no appreciation for the role of a vanguard party.
I believe that it is possible for middle class intellectuals in the United States, if we have commitment and discipline, to learn the true and the right. And possibly, if we learn well, we could have influence on our nation, explaining fundamental global, historical, and political realities to our people. We could make clear the global structural sources of the relative privilege of our nation’s middle class, and we can demonstrate the incompatibility of those structures with the values that we proclaim. And we could convincingly demonstrate the unsustainability of a world-system shaped by each nation pursuing its interests and each corporation pursing its profits, without regard for the consequences for the nation and the world. Our people are increasingly becoming middle class, albeit a middle class with social insecurity and personal anxiety. I believe that if we were to explain well the dynamics of our situation, the consensual majority would opt for social justice, for themselves and for all.
I also recommend to the reader another article by Harris, “A Specter of Peace Is Haunting Nicaragua.” The article criticizes opposition to Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, the leader of the Sandinista Revolution since it first took power in 1979. It specifically criticizes commentaries by The Nation and by academic Latin Americanist William I. Robinson. Among other issues discussed, Robinson maintains that many on the Left support Ortega because they see him on the good side in an “infantile Manichean view,” which sees a binary world of good or evil. Against Robinson, Harris maintains that we confront in practice a choice between two morally different projects.
I am in agreement with Harris. We intellectuals and academics are able to imagine other possibilities, in accordance with various ideas that we have, and impress each other with our virtuosity. But in political practice, we have a choice between, on the one side, the neoliberalism, incipient neofascism, and aggressive wars of the declining hegemonic power; and on the other side, an effort by the neocolonized peoples of the earth to construct, in theory and in practice, an alternative world-system, more just and sustainable. In the real world, we have a choice between two very different possibilities, in which the global powers systematically attack those leaders, governments, and movements that are seeking to forge an alternative road for humanity. In this situation, we have the duty to take sides; we have the responsibility to understand, appreciate, and defend that alternative more just and sustainable possibility for humanity that is emerging from below. As Fidel said in 1960, when a revolution is under attack, revolutionaries must close ranks.