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Tuesday, September 14, 2021

The Return of Anti-Monopoly?

Economic monopolies-- enterprises or groups of enterprises that overwhelmingly reign over a specific economic sector-- have been the target of reformers and revolutionaries since their widespread notice in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. 


Many keen observers in the most advanced capitalist countries of the late 1800s perceived the development of a tier of capitalist firms in various industries that rose to dominate those industries. Through rapid expansion, ruthless competition, absorption, and consolidation, a few capitalists or corporations acquired a majority share of markets and the lion’s share of profits. 


A classic US example of the process of monopolization was the creation of the Rockefeller oil monopoly, Standard Oil. Like an uncontrollable wildfire, Standard Oil devoured competitors, both horizontally-- in oil extraction-- and vertically-- in the shipping, refining, and selling of the final product. Eventually, Standard Oil was on the verge of completely controlling the petroleum industry in the US.


In Marxist circles, the trend toward concentration in various industries-- monopolization, cartelization, the formation of trusts-- came under serious study in the early twentieth century. Hilferding and, more popularly, Lenin, saw the intensification of capital, the accumulation of capital in fewer hands, as a new phase or stage in the development of capitalism. 


Lenin had the theoretical insight to link concentration of capital to a host of other features of twentieth-century capitalism: the crucial role and powerful influence of finance capital, the export of capital, the division of the world by enterprises and powers, and the ensuing ruthless competition. The term “imperialism” became shorthand for these processes. Imperialism explains why the twentieth century was a century of intense rivalries for markets, influence, domination, and resulting wars on an unimaginable scale.


The era of the growth of monopolies gave birth to two forms of resistance: a popular resistance to the concentration of power and wealth in fewer and fewer hands and an elite resistance to the competitive advantage of monopolies in the battle for market access, pricing, resource acquisition, and the setting of the rules of the business game.


The two forms of resistance have different social bases and seek different goals, though throughout the history of anti-monopoly struggle, there have been efforts to link the goals and there have been attempts to unite the bases. The linkage of the two forms has been a challenging and, often, ill-fated project. It remains an awkward project.


An early example of a popular anti-monopoly struggle occurred with the US People’s Party in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. From political origins in agrarian populism, the People’s Party attacked the monopolistic policies of the big banks and the railroads. The Party raised a host of reforms designed to regulate or rein in the power of the monopolies to the benefit of those in the Midwest and South dependent upon the then vitally important agricultural economy.


The new party enjoyed significant early success, garnering 8.5% of the presidential popular vote in 1892 and carrying 5 states. But divisions based on class and race and the allure of fusion with a major party demoralized and splintered the People’s Party. Its leaders were unable to construct a deep appeal to the urban working class or devise a program targeting the real sources of wealth and power, leaving itself susceptible to the demagoguery and shallow solutions of a mesmerizing rhetorician like William Jennings Bryan.  


Anti-monopoly sentiment continually finds a home with populist movements of left and right. The fact that it so easily expresses itself as antagonism toward groups perceived as privileged by status, wealth, power, or ethnicity, accounts for its political flexibility. At the same time, because it is susceptible to demagoguery, it can provide an unstable base for a movement for social change. Too often monopoly power is answered with shallow analysis (“it's the banks!”, “it’s the 1 percent!”), hasty generalization (“it’s high tech”), or even ethnic prejudice (“it's the Jews”). Too often unsustainable, cross-class alliances are carelessly projected as a foe of monopoly without a solid basis for unity. Too often monopoly is viewed as a tumor growing on capitalism that needs to be excised for the capitalist system to resume a healthy course.


Lenin never made these mistakes. 


For Lenin, the anti-monopoly strategy was anti-imperialism and anti-capitalism. In other words, attacking monopoly could not be separated from those elements that fuse together in a particular stage of capitalism-- the stage of imperialism.


And because it was a necessary stage of capitalist development, it could not be surgically removed to restore capitalism to an earlier era of “innocence.” With the development of Lenin’s thinking on state-monopoly capitalism-- the fusing of the state with monopoly capitalism-- the idea of such a surgery became even more far-fetched. 


Nonetheless, in the post-World War II era, the idea of an anti-monopoly front or alliance attracted some support from Western Communist Parties. Communist theoreticians argued that small business people, farmers, and workers could be united around a program that targeted monopoly capitalism as a common enemy. In the most advanced capitalist countries, small businesses were driven into bankruptcy or absorbed by giant firms that commanded the heights of the economy. The power of monopoly left their smaller competitors disadvantaged in access to capital, labor, and resources.


Of course, small and middling farmers faced the same disadvantages against mega-farmers like Archer Daniels Midland. Though much smaller in number, farmers today face some of the same exploitative conditions with banks and logistics as did their nineteenth-century forbearers.


Monopoly capital is especially devastating for the working class. With the mobility of capital to the lowest wage regions, with the power of defeating or co-opting unions, with the ability to organize and set consumer prices while employing labor-saving technologies, monopolies exploit workers as employees and consumers.


Left-wing interest in monopoly capitalism likely reached its zenith in the 1960s, especially with the publication of Paul Sweezy and Paul Baran’s Monopoly Capital (1966), an important book that continues to influence the left to this day.


Monopoly Capital came as a summary of the immediate post-war period of strong economic growth, the dominance of US monopoly capital worldwide, and the rapid concentration of economic activity in the hands of a few US capitalist enterprises. The “big three” in auto production, AT&T in communications, USS, ALCOA, Anaconda, General Electric, IBM, and a host of other industry leaders capturing huge portions of global production seemed to foretell a hierarchy of capitalism characterized by monopoly dominance and the decline of competition.


But matters changed in the decade to come. Corporate competition from Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Germany, and other countries intensified, challenging leaders in the older industries and spawning new emerging industries. Competition brought challenges to the complacency accompanying monopoly dominance. New products, new product categories, new production methods, and new technologies competed ruthlessly for customer loyalty. 


As I argued in an article in Communist Review (winter 2016/2017), many of us followed Sweezy and Baran in associating the process of concentration with a decline in competition. We too readily accepted the simplistic mainstream economics textbook account that portrayed monopoly as the state-of-affairs resulting from a one-directional process leading to a few mega-enterprises and tepid or non-existent competition or even large-scale monopoly collusion (it bears similarities to Kautsky’s discredited theory of super-imperialism). We, along with Sweezy and Baran, mistook a continuously unfolding tendency for an enduring final state-of-affairs, underestimating capitalism’s dynamism.


While this might have constituted a snapshot of the US economy in the mid-1960s, it was far off the mark with the decades to come. Capitalism proved far more resilient. New enterprises, new industries, new commodities emerged to challenge this simplistic picture, while concentration-- the bankruptcy and absorption of the lesser players-- continued unabated. Concentration and competition are not mutually exclusive.


Marx and Engels understood this well.


Writing in their earliest pamphlet on political economy, Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy, a work much admired by Karl Marx, Frederick Engel’s wrote:


Competition is based on self-interest, and self-interest in turn breeds monopoly. In short, competition passes over into monopoly. On the other hand, monopoly cannot stem the tide of competition-- indeed, it itself breeds competition.


Thus, is the dialectics of competition-monopoly.


Marx affirms this dialectic in the Poverty of Philosophy:

 

In practical life we find not only competition, monopoly and the antagonism between them, but also the synthesis of the two, which is not a formula, but a movement. Monopoly produces competition, competition produces monopoly. Monopolists are made from competition; competitors become monopolists.


Anti-Monopoly Today

Interest in curbing monopoly is having a rebirth today. The rise of a new set of huge enterprises dominating their industries and amassing unprecedented mountains of capital has generated a strong reaction. The notion that key financial institutions needed government bailout, that they were “too big to fail,  ” produced an angry reaction from people crushed in the 2007-2009 crash and disgusted smaller businesses left to face collapse without any help. The outrage against banks and other financial institutions persists to this day.


The concentration of corporate power through mergers and acquisitions is expressed through increasing pressure on the state to tilt the playing field in favor of capital and the wealthy (in 1984, mergers and acquisitions totaled $125 billion; in the first 8 months of 2021, they totaled $1.8 trillion in the US, $3.6 trillion worldwide).


Similarly, popular sentiment against the greed and arrogance of the technology giants-- Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook-- is boundless today, leading to several antitrust investigations and proposed regulatory legislation. Their size and importance in the global economy point to both the dangers from the rise of monopolies and the dramatic shift in the towering heights of capitalism from the time of the Sweezy and Baran classic.


The Biden administration’s appointment of two antitrust activists to head the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department’s antitrust arm is an important reflection of the growing interest in anti-monopoly action.


Dubbed “neo-Brandeisians,” after the former Supreme Court Justice who led the antitrust battles of the early twentieth century, prominent lawyers and politicians are taking aim at the big tech companies. As the two-year study by the US House’s Judiciary Committee concluded, “...there is a clear and compelling need for Congress and the antitrust enforcement agencies to take action that restores competition, improves innovation, and safeguards our democracy.”


Tellingly, the six house bills directed against monopolies say little-to-nothing about the harm that wealth and corporate concentration have on working people. Instead, they charge monopolies with disrupting the smooth functioning of capitalism and with encumbering the competition with The People's Republic of China and other global competitors. In other words, this center-left initiative is meant to strengthen capitalism by regulating concentration; it is shorn of almost any but the most indirect benefit to working people.


The center-left, Democratic Party-centered anti-monopoly strategy contains no assistance in organizing workers, in ensuring better working conditions, or in increasing wages and benefits within the most concentrated industries. It fails to speak to the high prices and shoddy quality that monopolies offer the consumer. Nor does it address the erosion of democracy fostered by the inordinate influence of giant monopolies on the political process. That influence is only amplified by monopoly ownership of the media, misdirecting the public away from the real issues and viable solutions. 


Arrayed against the capitalism-serving program of the center-left are the apologists for mega-business, who argue that the industrial giants-- through the intense price competition that weeds out the smaller players-- are giving consumers better prices, more efficient services, economies of scale. During the so-called “neo-liberal” period, this hands-off position toward big business-- trusts, cartels, monopolies-- gained the allegiance of both major parties. It is only in recent years that some Democrats have contended that monopolies are a hindrance to capitalist growth, competition, and innovation.


But notice that this debate over monopoly is contained and reduced to which strategy better promotes capitalism: enhanced competition versus consumer advantages (see this The Wall Street Journal op-ed). Where is the damage inflicted on the working class by monopolies? Who will address the monopoly super-exploitation of workers like those at the Amazon work centers? What checks are there on monopoly power’s influence on elections? On the media? On pharmaceutical prices? On utilities? Where are the protections of wages and jobs in the era of transnational monopolies and the easy mobility of capital to low-wage areas?


If confined to the two major political parties, these issues will not be advanced. However, they are the concerns of workers and belong on the agenda of organized labor. A vigorous popular campaign against monopoly, if adopted, would energize a labor movement in retreat and unconditionally wedded to the program of the Democratic Party. An anti-monopoly program, though worker-centered, would find allies in other sectors of the economy preyed upon by monopoly capitalism.  


The late Communist political economist, Victor Perlo summed up labor’s interests in joining with others in curbing the monopolies in his 1988 book, Super Profits and Crises: Modern US Capitalism:


Monopolies have--

●the strength to curb workers’ actions, strikes.

●the ability to raise prices to compensate for wage and benefit gains

●capital sufficient to employ labor saving technology and reduce employment and wages

●the power to relocate work to the lowest-paying regions or countries

●the political weight (state monopoly capitalism) to influence government, to extract concessions, to reduce taxes, to extort government funding and government support against the interests of labor.


These issues would well serve a labor movement bereft of ideas and mired in the muck of class collaboration.


Similarly, a people’s anti-monopoly agenda would focus the work of third parties like the Green Party or the People’s Party, while attracting a broad sector of people affected by the cruel lash of monopoly capital.


But let this be a cautionary tale for Communists and socialists who must avoid the trap of equating anti-monopoly struggle with anti-capitalism. Through the dialectic of competition and monopoly, capitalism persists. Smaller, non-monopoly capitals would ravage working people as brutally as does monopoly capitalism. While monopoly capitalism, with its historically evolved features, is the capitalism of our era, the goal post is the ending of capitalism and the construction of socialism. 


Greg Godels

zzsblogml@gmail.com  



Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Afghanistan Follies

The end of the 20-year US Afghanistan adventure is another one of imperialism’s overreaching, supremely arrogant, regime-change projects ending in fiasco. 


For most of the post-war era, the US and Israel-- the anointed police agent of the Eastern Mediterranean and Central Asia-- promoted Islamism as a bulwark against secularists and socialists. Both governments offered arms and aid, while enthusiastically tolerating cultural and political backwardness in the service of imperialist interests. From Nasser to Assad, the US counter posed Islamist “freedom fighters,” with their feudal values and intolerance, against imperfect, but secular, anti-monarchical, independent, and nationalist regimes.


Should it come as a surprise that those same “freedom fighters” eventually turned on their secular, infidel sponsors? 


Twenty years ago, former clients of the US mounted suicide attacks on symbols of US power. The same Islamic warriors under the direction of a prominent Saudi, Osama Bin Laden, who were armed and encouraged to attack Soviet troops supporting a secular, progressive government in Afghanistan, turned on their US masters. 


The US military responded with an occupation of Taliban-governed Afghanistan, said to be the protector of Bin Laden's jihadists. With the hubris displayed by previous empire builders, US authorities set out to shape Afghanistan into a reliable junior partner, a society to be built around the same inequalities and elite dominance found in the US. In twenty years, the US occupiers succeeded in fostering unimaginable corruption, in installing cynical leaders completely detached from the Afghan people, in introducing a swarm of NGOs parasitically feeding on Western funding, and in finally restoring Afghan acceptance of the Taliban.


As a 300,000-soldier army equipped with sophisticated US weaponry, US training, and a modern air force dissolved before motley warriors with twentieth-century assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, twenty years of myths melted away. Pundits, bureaucrats, generals, and politicians scrambled to attach blame to someone else. Fingers were pointing in every direction. What was a systemic failure, a collective misadventure underwent a tortured reconstruction as Biden’s failure or Trump’s failure, two answers that required little thought and even less analysis.


In fact, Biden’s withdrawal of US troops may prove to be the crowning achievement of his administration.


Three other Presidents lacked the courage and integrity to call a halt to the occupation and war (those in the know-- including Obama-- acknowledge that Biden was the only one in the Obama administration who opposed the troop surge and continuing the war).


Because the media moguls have glorified the generals, the “special” forces, the cops, and the spies with primetime TV and big screen movies, they elude blame in the Afghanistan fiasco. Yet it was a military operation from start to finish. Anything that the four Presidents uttered since 2001 came to them from military or security sources: status assessments, the balance of forces, troop readiness, etc. were all the products of military minds. Of course, that doesn’t stop the discredited General Petraeus from braying his disdain for the “political” failure to secure the Afghanistan exit.


The popular “Saigon” comparison with the retreat from Kabul is surely apt, but where is the comparison with the Soviet exit from Afghanistan? For those who like to gloat about Afghanistan being the USSR’s Vietnam, the analogy between the respective exits is embarrassing to the imperialists. 


When the Soviets left Afghanistan in February of 1989, US intelligence expected the government-- arrayed against a mujahideen supported by generous assistance from the US, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Germany, and the PRC-- to fall within three to six months. Instead, the leftist government held the Islamists at bay until 1992. 


Defense of Jalalabad in 1989 and Paghman in 1990 and disunity among the mujahideen factions proved that the secular, progressive government retained support for its land reforms, secular schools, rights of women, etc. Ultimately, the reactionary Russian government of Boris Yeltsin refusing even basic assistance, disunity within the progressive Afghan government, and the sheer weight of the foreign-backed assault forced the fall of the government.


Those today bemoaning the expected Taliban retreat on women’s rights, they need to revisit Stephen Gowans’s scathing article from ten years ago, Women’s Rights in Afghanistan. Gowans sarcastically opines concerning women’s rights: “Anyone worried about the revival of the Taliban ought to be hoping for the revival of the communists.”


This saga of foreign intervention-- designed to bleed the Soviet Union-- seldom if ever finds its way into Western media accounts. The consequent bloody war between the mujahideen factions never gets laid at the interventionists’ doorsteps, a war that in one form or another continues to this day.


But no one in Western media circles dares to revisit the doomed effort by the Afghan people to bring their country into the modern era. In fact, Western elites mocked and undermined the effort. Today, the joint effort by the Afghan Peoples’ Democratic Party and the USSR to unite and advance the country is a denied history. Pundits are afraid to compare that project with the twenty-year US failure, the evaporation of a puppet army, and the bum-rush exit. 


It is a bitter irony that Biden and others-- disappointed with and disparaging the performance of the Afghan military-- now blame the Afghans for their lack of will; they can’t be forced to fight for their “freedom and democracy.” Why US authorities didn’t anticipate this twenty years ago is beyond comprehension.


The very idea of forcing a country to do something deemed by another country to be in its better interests is an absurdity, an absurdity that insults the basic concept of self-determination.


Where will US policy makers next force their unwanted will on another independent country?


Greg Godels

zzsblogml@gmail.com


Thursday, August 5, 2021

Gutting Anti-Imperialism


Before Hobson (1902) and Lenin (1917) elaborated theories of imperialism, there was an American Anti-Imperialist League (1898). The League’s members constituted a diverse group ranging from left to right, radical to conservative, social worker to politician, writer to lawyer, trade union leader to monopoly capitalist. Notables included Jane Addams, Grover Cleveland, Andrew Carnegie, John Dewey, Samuel Gompers, Henry and William James, Edgar Lee Masters, and Mark Twain.


While they may have had differing views of the actualities of imperialism or colonialism, the Anti-Imperialists shared a sense that a tide of imperial or colonial predation was cresting at the end of the nineteenth century. Moreover, they feared that the US was energetically joining the mainly European powers in carving up the world.


This opposition was built upon two principles that were thought by many to be foundational US ideals: the idea of consent by the governed and non-intervention (like so many contradictory ideals in US history, the nineteenth-century US anti-imperialists seemed little bothered by intervention and lack of consent with the frontier expanding across the American continent at the expense of others).


To those constituting the American Anti-Imperialist League (AAIL), imposing the will of imperial masters upon other peoples violated the most basic axioms of democracy. To the anti-imperialists of the AAIL, it mattered not whether those to be governed by others governed themselves well or not. The partisans of the AAIL were unmoved by the pro-imperialist arguments that people's souls needed Christian salvation, that subjected peoples would be better off surrendering their sovereignty, or that those to be ruled were savages and incapable of ruling themselves.


In US history, the mass predisposition towards non-intervention was only interrupted when ruling elites were able, through fear or fable, to animate involvement in outside adventures; non-engagement in foreign affairs was deeply embedded in popular thinking as well as in the early expressed values of the colonial regime.


Mark Twain, one of North America’s greatest writers, perhaps best expressed the anti-imperialist sentiment of the time with his satirical King Leopold’s Soliloquy (1905) (During the Cold War, this powerful anti-imperialist critique was only available in book form from a GDR publishing house). Twain scalded Leopold, the King of Belgium, and his brutal colonial reign over the Congo. Through the fiction of an explanation by the King, Twain mocks the King’s justification for his mistreatment of his subjects, citing his missionaries bringing civilization to the natives and his thwarting of the evil slave trade.


Thus, Twain, like most of the nineteenth-century anti-imperialists, thought that there was no good reason for great powers, or any powers for that matter, to intervene in the affairs of another land, regardless of the good they might bring or the evil they might thwart. Put simply, intervention violated the consent of the people. 


In the twentieth century, this understanding of anti-imperialism was sharpened by Lenin’s right of a clearly defined nation to self-determination. This idea of self-determination served as the grounds for national liberation and the almost total elimination of colonialism, a process largely, but not completely finished in the decades after World War Two. As in Leopold’s time, the imperialists maintained that the native peoples were not ready for self-rule.


While colonialism receded, imperialism remained, with US imperialism and its global domination of the capitalist world taking center stage. The foe for the US and its European allies in this era was world Communism. Communism, whether viewed favorably or not, was undeniably the bulwark against imperialist domination.


Cold War imperialism justified intervention in the affairs of other nations as part of an unrelenting war against Communism. Intervention was a prophylactic or remedy for an evil portrayed as godless, materialistic, murderous, anti-democratic, ruthless, and predatory. Like Leopold and his counterparts, twentieth-century capitalism and its apologists defended economic aggression as a civilizing mission, as a way to bring a superior way of life to those captured or courted by an evil ideology. USAID, the CIA, money-soaked foundations, cultural warriors, the Peace Corps, etc., replaced the nineteenth-century missionaries. When these modern missionaries became ineffective, the US military stepped in.


In our time, many self-styled anti-imperialists have lost the meaning of anti-imperialism that was so firmly grasped by our nineteenth-century forbearers. Under the sway of the Cold War corruption and weaponization of human rights advocacy, liberals and a segment of the left now qualify their condemnation of US and EU domination of less powerful countries with real or imagined concerns with human rights violations or the perceived breaching of democratic standards. They have become the modern missionaries, purveyors of supposedly superior Western values to the ignorant and backward of the world. Like the missionaries of old, they spend little time in self-examination; they simply take for granted that their way of life is superior in all ways. 


With that presumption, it is a small step to finding merit in intervention, in bringing enlightenment, even liberation! And, of course, the messenger or the deliverer of enlightenment may well be US bombs, special forces, or mercenaries. Whether it is Haiti, Iran, Guatemala, Cuba, Nicaragua, Grenada, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Venezuela, Libya, Syria, or many that I may have left out, all interventions were justified as humanitarian missions delivering a better way of life. Those who succumbed to this bogus liberation are all now broken or failed states. 


Where human rights doctrines served a liberating purpose, unleashing human potential and providing protection against feudal caprice and privilege during the rise of capitalism, they now are more often instruments of manipulation and oppression in the era of moribund, decadent capitalism. 


Western NGOs underscore this point. In the Cold War heyday of Amnesty International, one could not help but note that the organization’s focus was largely on the socialist countries and their friends. This was explained by the peculiar rule that it was inappropriate for Amnesty chapters to focus on their home country. So, of course, since the membership was largely in advanced capitalist states, the spotlight was upon non- and anti-capitalist states! A mere formality that put the organization, more often than not, in lockstep with the US State Department and NATO. 


Another prominent NGO-- Human Rights Watch-- came into being as an anti-Soviet watchdog. Its funding-- largely from the US and Europe-- cannot but taint the targeting of its attention. 


It is equally clear that the "human rights" NGOs show much less zeal in exposing the "friends" of the US, EU, and NATO who had appalling human rights records. They were late or tepid in deploring the ugly apartheid regime in South Africa, the brutal treatment of Palestinians, and the Saudi aggression against Yemen.


The gaggle of NGO directors that police the human rights terrain form a comfortable team with academics, think tanks, and the professional crusaders of Western political officialdom. They attend the same seminars, consult one another, and often exchange jobs, guaranteeing a high degree of conformity and insularity, and generating a human rights industry.


There is a comfortable circularity to Western human rights doctrine. Of the expansive range of human rights-- positive, negative, personal, social, individual, collective, cultural, commercial, etc.-- it is exactly those rights that are the most cherished by the self-satisfied capitalist burgher that NGOs rush to protect! And they are protected with missionary zeal.


It is this industrial-strength human rights doctrine that mixed with US foreign policy goals to create the twisted notion of “humanitarian interventionism,” a concept most successfully peddled by and identified with former political operative, diplomat, and now head of the CIA-front USAID, Samantha Power.


Thus, the twisted trajectory of human rights advocacy has led us to an equally twisted concept of benign intervention, an idea that would have outraged earlier advocates of anti-imperialism like Mark Twain, Samuel Gompers, and even Andrew Carnegie!


As if critics of US foreign policy did not have a great enough burden, large sections of the US left-- especially those addicted to the New York Times and National Public Radio-- have gone over to the other side, drinking the seductive elixir of humanitarian interventionism. The NYT/NPR “progressives” and their European counterparts qualify their anti-imperialism by insisting that those countries under the heel of imperialism must pass a purity test: they must be committed to “democratic” and “human rights” values that are consistent with those of their oppressors and privileged Western “progressives,” Otherwise, they will not win the support of their “friends” in the Western capitalist countries. 


We have seen this time and time again in the refusal to or hesitation in denouncing imperial aggression in Yugoslavia, Syria, Iran, Venezuela, Libya, and even Cuba.


This arrogant, selective “anti-imperialism” would nauseate the nineteenth-century anti-imperialists of the AAIL.  


The gutted anti-imperialism of humanitarian interventionism recently found its theoretician in Professor Gilbert Achcar. Achcar wrote a piece happily embraced by the old Cold War campaigner, New Politics magazine, and the increasingly irrelevant, The Nation. A consistent anti-imperialist comrade, Roger D. Harris, thoroughly dismantled Achcar’s apologetics for US, EU, and NATO imperialism in his response.


Harris correctly argues that Achcar and the other “sophisticated” anti-imperialists “(1) serve to legitimize reaction and (2) obscure the singular role of US imperialism, while (3) attacking progressive voices. Such anti-anti-imperialism provides left cover for the foreign policy of the US as well as the UK, where Achcar is based.”

In plain words, the bogus anti-imperialism of humanitarian interventionism turns a blind eye to the global bully because the victim is not always “worthy” of defense. This response is especially indefensible when the global bully attacks in our name. 


Regardless of how The New York Times, NPR or the other media pals of the bully portray the victim, a bully is still a bully. Our nineteenth-century forbearers understood this simple truth.

Greg Godels
zzsblogml@gmail.com