Old Wine, New Bottles

excerpted from the book

Year 501

The Conquest Continues

by Noam Chomsky

South End Press, 1993, paper


The year 1992 poses a critical moral and cultural challenge for the more privileged sectors of the world-dominant societies. The challenge is heightened by the fact that within these societies, notably the first European colony liberated from imperial rule, popular struggle over many centuries has achieved a large measure of freedom, opening many opportunities for independent thought and committed action. How this challenge is addressed in the years to come will have fateful consequences.

October 11, 1992 brings to an end the 500th year of the Old World Order, sometimes called the Colombian era of world history, or the Vasco da Gama era, depending on which adventurers bent on plunder got there first. Or "the 500-year Reich," to borrow the title of a commemorative volume that compares the methods and ideology of the Nazis with those of the European invaders who subjugated most of the world.' The major theme of this Old World Order was a confrontation between the conquerors and the conquered on a global scale. It has taken various forms, and been given different names: imperialism, neocolonialism, the North-South conflict, core versus periphery, G-7 (the 7 leading state capitalist industrial societies) and their satellites versus the rest. Or, more simply, Europe's conquest of the world.

By the term "Europe," we include the European-settled colonies, one of which now leads the crusade; in accord with South African conventions, the Japanese are admitted as "honorary whites," rich enough to (almost) qualify. Japan was one of the few parts of the South to escape conquest and, perhaps not coincidentally, to join the core, with some of its former colonies in its wake. That there may be more than coincidence in the correlation of independence and development is suggested further by a look at Western Europe, where parts that were colonized followed something like the Third World path. One notable example is Ireland, violently conquered, then barred from development by the "free trade" doctrines selectively applied to ensure subordination of the South-today called "structural adjustment," "neoliberalism," or "our noble ideals," from which we, to be sure, are exempt.

The conquest of the New World set off two vast demographic catastrophes, unparalleled in history: the virtual destruction of the indigenous population of the Western hemisphere, and the devastation of Africa as the slave trade rapidly expanded to serve the needs of the conquerors, and the continent itself was subjugated. Much of Asia too suffered "dreadful misfortunes." While modalities have changed, the fundamental themes of the t conquest retain their vitality and resilience, and will continue to do so until the reality and causes of the "savage injustice" are honestly addressed.

Geoffrey Parker
"It was thanks to their military superiority, rather than to any social, moral or natural advantage, that the white peoples of the world managed to create and control, however briefly, the first global hegemony in History."

[Adam] Smith's admiration for individual enterprise was tempered ... by his contempt for "the vile maxim of the masters of mankind": "All for ourselves, and nothing for other people."

Centralized state power dedicated to private privilege and authority, and the rational and organized use of savage violence, are two of the enduring features of the European conquest. Others are the domestic colonization by which the poor subsidize the rich, and the contempt for democracy and freedom. Yet another enduring theme is the self-righteousness in which plunder, slaughter, and oppression are clothed.

It would not be fair to charge that atrocities pass unmentioned. One of the most notorious slaughterers was King Leopold of Belgium, responsible for the death of perhaps 10 million people in the Congo. His contributions and defects were duly recorded in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, which describes the "enormous fortune" that he gained by "exploitation of this vast territory." The last line of the lengthy entry reads: "but he had a hard heart towards the natives of his distant possession."

Theodore Roosevelt
"The most ultimately righteous of all wars is a war with savages."

President Tyler observed after the annexation and the conquest of a third of Mexico

"By securing the virtual monopoly of the cotton plant [ the US had acquired] a greater influence over the affairs of the world than would be found in armies however strong, or navies however numerous... That monopoly, now secured, places all other nations at our feet... An embargo of a single year would produce in Europe a greater amount of suffering than a fifty years' war.

After the mid-19th century conquests, New York editors proudly observed that the US was "the only power which has never sought and never seeks to acquire a foot of territory by force of arms"; "of all the vast domains of our great confederacy over which the star spangled banner waves, not one foot of it is the acquirement of force or bloodshed"; the remnants of the native population, among others, were not asked to confirm this judgment. The US is unique among nations in that "By its own merits it extends itself." That is only natural, since "all other races...must bow and fade" before "the great work of subjugation and conquest to be achieved by the Anglo-Saxon race," conquest without force. Leading contemporary historians accept this flattering self-image. Samuel Flagg Bemis wrote in 1965 that "American expansion across a practically empty continent despoiled no nation unjustly"; no one could think it unjust if Indians were "felled" along with trees. Arthur M. Schlesinger had earlier described Polk as "undeservedly one of the forgotten men of American history": "By carrying the flag to the Pacific he gave America her continental breadth and ensured her future significance in the world," a realistic assessment, if not, perhaps, exactly in the intended sense.

Such doctrine could not easily survive the cultural awakening of the 1960s, at least outside the intellectual class, where we are regularly regaled by orations on how "for 200 years the United States has preserved almost unsullied the original ideals of the Enlightenment...and, above all, the universality of these values" (Michael Howard, among many others). "Although we are reaching for the stars and have showered less favored peoples with our benevolence in unmatched flow, our motives are profoundly misunderstood and our military intentions widely mistrusted," another distinguished historian, Richard Morris, wrote in 1967, contemplating the "unhappy" fact that others fail to understand the nobility of our cause in Vietnam, a country "beset by internal subversion and foreign aggression" (by Vietnamese, that is). Writing in 1992 on "the self-image of Americans," New York Times correspondent Richard Bernstein notes with alarm that " many who came of age during the 1960s protest years have never regained the confidence in the essential goodness of America and the American government that prevailed in earlier periods," a matter of much concern to cultural managers since.

The basic patterns established in the early conquest persist to the current era. As the slaughter of the indigenous population by the Guatemalan military approached virtual genocide, Ronald Reagan and his officials, while lauding the assassins as forward-looking democrats, informed Congress that the US would provide arms "to reinforce the improvement in the human rights situation following the 1982 coup" that installed Rios Montt, perhaps the greatest killer of them all. The primary means by which, Guatemala obtained US military equipment, however, was commercial sales licensed by the Department of Commerce, the General Accounting Office of Congress observed, putting aside the international network that is always ready to exterminate the beasts of the field and forest if there are profits to be made. The Reaganites were also instrumental in maintaining slaughter and terror from Mozambique to Angola, while gaining much respect in left-liberal circles by the "quiet diplomacy" that helped their South African friends cause over $60 billion in damage and 1.5 million deaths from I 1980 to 1988 in the neighboring states. The most devastating effects of the general catastrophe of capitalism through the 1980s were in the same two continents: Africa and Latin America.

One of the grandest of the Guatemalan killers, General Hector Gramajo, was rewarded for his contributions to genocide in the highlands with a fellowship to Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government-) not unreasonably, given Kennedy's decisive contributions to the vocation of counterinsurgency (one of the technical terms for international terrorism conducted by the powerful). Cambridge dons will be relieved to learn that Harvard is no longer a dangerous center of subversion.

While earning his degree at Harvard, Gramajo gave an interview to the Harvard International Review in which he offered a more nuanced view of his own role. He took personal credit for the "70 percent-30 percent civil affairs program, used by the Guatemalan government during the 1980s to control people or organizations who disagreed with the government," outlining the doctrinal innovations he had introduced: "We have created a more humanitarian, less costly strategy, to be more compatible with the democratic system. We instituted civil affairs [in 1982] which provides development for 70 percent of the population, while we kill 30 percent. Before, the strategy was to kill 100 percent." This is a "more sophisticated means'' than the previous crude assumption that you must "kill everyone to complete the job" of controlling dissent, he explained.

It is unfair, then, for journalist Alan Nairn, who had exposed the US origins of the Central American death squads, to describe Gramajo as "one of the most significant mass-murderers in the Western Hemisphere" as Gramajo was sued for horrendous crimes. We can also now appreciate why former CIA director William Colby, who had some firsthand experience with such matters in Vietnam, sent Gramajo a copy of his memoirs with the inscription: "To a colleague in the effort to find a strategy of counterinsurgency with decency and democracy," Washington-style.

Given his understanding of humanitarianism, decency, and democracy, it is not surprising that Gramajo appears to be the State Department's choice for the 1995 elections, according to the Guatemala Central America Report, citing Americas Watch on the Harvard fellowship as "the State Department's way of grooming Gramajo" for the job, and quoting a US Senate staffer who says: "He's definitely their boy down there." A "senior commander in the early 1980s, when the Guatemalan military was blamed for the deaths of tens of thousands of people, largely civilians," Gramajo "is seen as a moderate by the U.S. Embassy," Kenneth Freed reports, quoting a Western diplomat, and assuring us of Washington's "repugnance" at the actions of the security forces it supports and applauds. The Washington Post reports that many Guatemalan politicians expect Gramajo to win the elections, not an unlikely prospect if he's the State Department's boy down there. Gramajo's image is also being prettified. He offered the Post a sanitized version of his interview on the ?° percent-30 percent program: "The effort of the government was to be 70 percent" in development and 30 percent in the war effort. I was not referring to the people, just the effort." Too bad he expressed himself so badly-or better, so honestly-before the Harvard grooming took effect.

It is not unlikely that the rulers of the world, meeting in G-7 conferences, have written off large parts of Africa and Latin America, superfluous people who have no place in the New World Order, to be joined by many others, in the home societies as well.

Diplomacy has perceived Latin America and Africa in a similar light. [U.S.] Planning documents stress that the role of Latin America is to provide resources and a favorable business and investment climate. If that can be achieved with formal elections under conditions that safeguard business interests, well and good. If it requires state terror "to destroy permanently a perceived threat to the existing structure of socioeconomic privilege by eliminating the political participation of the numerical majority...," that's too bad, but preferable to the alternative of independence; the words are those of Latin Americanist Lars Schoultz, describing the goals pursued by the National Security States that had their roots in Kennedy Administration policies. As for Africa, State Department Policy Planning chief George Kennan, assigning to each part of the South its special function in the New World Order of the post-World War II era, recommended that it be "exploited" for the reconstruction of Europe, adding that the opportunity to exploit Africa should afford the Europeans "that tangible objective for which everyone has been rather unsuccessfully groping , n a badly needed psychological lift, in their difficult postwar straits. Such recommendations are too uncontroversial to elicit comment, or even notice.

The genocidal episodes of the Colombian-Vasco da Gama era are by no means limited to the conquered regions of the South, as is sufficiently attested by the exploits of the leading center of Western civilization 50 years ago. Throughout the era, there have been savage conflicts among the core societies of the North, sometimes spreading far beyond, particularly in this terrible century. For most of the world's population, these are much like shoot-outs between rival drug gangs or mafia dons. The only question is who will gain the right to rob and kill. In the post-World War II era, the US has been the global enforcer, guaranteeing the interests of privilege. It has, therefore, compiled an impressive record of aggression, international terrorism, slaughter, torture, chemical and bacteriological warfare, human rights abuses of every imaginable variety. That is not surprising; it goes with the turf. Nor is it surprising that the occasional documentation of these facts far from the mainstream elicits tantrums among the commissars.

Mark Twain
None but the dead are permitted to speak truth.

How curious that the leading chronicler, Las Casas, should have written at the end of his life, in his will: "I believe that because of these impious, criminal and ignominious deeds perpetrated so unjustly, tyrannically and barbarously, God will vent upon Spain His wrath and His fury, for nearly all of Spain has shared in the bloody wealth usurped at the cost of so much ruin and slaughter."

The horrifying record of what actually occurred, if noticed at all, is considered insignificant, even a proof of our nobility. Again, that goes with the turf. The most powerful mafia don is also likely to dominate the doctrinal system. One of the great advantages of being rich and powerful is that you never have to say: "I'm sorry." It is here that the moral and cultural challenge arises, at the end of the first 500 years.

"Rounding out their natural boundaries" was the task of the colonists in their home territory, which, by the end of the 19th century, extended to the mid-Pacific. But the "natural boundaries" of the South also have to be defended. Hence the dedicated efforts to ensure that no sector of the South goes a separate way, and the trepidations, often near-hysteria, if some deviation is detected. All must be properly integrated into the global economy dominated by the state capitalist industrial societies.

The South is assigned a service role: to provide resources, cheap labor, markets, opportunities for investment and, lately, export of pollution For the past half-century, the US has shouldered the responsibility for protecting the interests of the "satisfied nations" whose power places them "above the rest," the "rich men dwelling at peace within their habitations" to whom "the government of the world must be entrusted," as Winston Churchill put the matter after World War II.

US interests are therefore understood in global terms. The primary threat to these interests is depicted in high-level planning documents as "radical and nationalistic regimes" that are responsive to popular pressures for "immediate improvement in the low living standards of the masses" and development for domestic needs. These tendencies conflict with the demand for "a political and economic climate conducive to private investment," with adequate repatriation of profits (NSC 5432/1, 1954) and "protection of our raw materials" (George Kennan). For such reasons, as was recognized in 1948 by the clear-sighted of the State Department Policy Planning staff, "We should cease to talk about vague and...unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization, ~ and must ``deal in straight power concepts," not "hampered by idealistic slogans,' about "altruism and world-benefaction," if we are to maintain the ``position of disparity" that separates our enormous wealth from the poverty of others (Kennan).

The profoundly anti-democratic thrust of US policy in the Third World, with the recurrent resort to terror to eliminate "the political participation of the numerical majority," is readily understandable. It follows at once from the opposition to "economic nationalism," which is, quite commonly, an outgrowth of popular pressures and organization. Such heresies must therefore be extirpated. Entirely independent of the Cold War, these have been salient features of policy; notoriously, the savage and destructive policies of the past decade, which are, accordingly, hailed for bringing democracy and a new respect for human rights to the world, exactly as one would expect in a well-behaved intellectual culture.

At the Chapultepec (Mexico) hemispheric conference in February 1945, the US called for "An Economic Charter of the Americas" that would eliminate economic nationalism "in all its forms." This policy stood in sharp conflict with the Latin American stand, which a State Department officer described as "The philosophy of the New Nationalism [that] embraces policies designed to bring about a broader distribution of wealth and to raise the standard of living of the masses." State Department Political Adviser Laurence Duggan wrote that "Economic nationalism is the common denominator of the new aspirations for industrialization. Latin Americans are convinced ! that the first beneficiaries of the development of a country's resources should be the people of that country." The US position, in contrast, was that the "first beneficiaries" should be US investors, while Latin America fulfills its service function. It should not undergo "excessive . industrial development" that infringes on US interests, the Truman and Eisenhower Administrations held.

With regard to Asia, the principles were first given a definitive form in an August 1949 draft of NSC 48, Bruce Cumings observes. The basic principle it enunciated was "reciprocal exchange and mutual advantage." A corollary, again, is opposition to independent development: "none of [the Asian countries] alone has adequate resources as a base for general industrialization." India, China, and Japan may "approximate that condition," but no more. Japan's prospects were regarded as quite limited: it might produce "knick-knacks" and other products for the underdeveloped world, a US survey mission concluded in 1950, but nothing more. Though doubtless infused by racism, such conclusions were not entirely unrealistic before the Korean war revived Japan's stagnating economy. "General industrialization in individual countries could be achieved only at a high cost as a result of sacrificing production in fields of comparative advantage," the draft continued. The US must find ways of "exerting economic pressures" on countries that do not accept their role as suppliers of "strategic commodities and other basic materials," the germ of later policies of economic warfare, Cumings observes.

Prospects for development in Africa were never taken seriously, White Africa aside. For the Middle East, the major concern was that the energy system be in US hands, operating in the manner designed by the British: local management would be delegated to an "Arab Facade," with "absorption" of the colonies "veiled by constitutional fictions as a protectorate, a sphere of influence, a buffer State, and so on," a device more cost-effective than direct rule (Lord Curzon and the Eastern Committee, 1917-1918). But we must never run the risk of "losing control," as John Foster Dulles warned. The Facade would therefore consist of family dictatorships that keep pretty much to what they are told, and ensure the flow of profits to the US, its British client, and their energy corporations. They are to be protected by regional enforcers, preferably non-Arab (Turkey, Israel, Iran under the Shah, Pakistan), with British and US muscle in reserve. The system has operated with reasonable efficiency over a considerable period, and has new prospects today with secular nationalist forces in the Arab world in utter disarray, and the Soviet deterrent removed.

The basic themes of internal planning sometimes reach the public, as when the editors of the New York Times, applauding the overthrow of the parliamentary Mossadegh regime in Iran, observed that "Underdeveloped countries with rich resources now have an object lesson in the heavy cost that must be paid by one of their number which goes berserk with fanatical nationalism." The service areas must be protected from "Bolshevism" or "Communism," technical terms that refer to social transformation "in ways that reduce their willingness and ability to complement the industrial economies of the West," in the words of an important scholarly study of the 1950s. Most important, the historical record conforms very well to this commonly articulated understanding of the role of the South.

"Radical and nationalistic regimes', are intolerable in themselves, even more so if they appear to be succeeding in terms that might be meaningful to oppressed and suffering people. In that case they become a "virus,' that might "infect" others, a "rotten apple" that might "spoil the barrel." For the public, they are "dominoes" that will topple others by aggression and conquest; internally, the absurdity of this picture is often (not always) conceded, and the threat is recognized to be what Oxfam once called "the threat of a good example," referring to Nicaragua. When Henry Kissinger warned that the "contagious example" of Allende's Chile would "infect" not only Latin America but also southern Europe, sending to Italian voters the message that democratic social reform was a possible option, he did not anticipate that Allende's hordes would descend upon Rome. Although the Sandinista "Revolution without Borders" was a spectacularly successful government-media fraud, the propaganda images reflected an authentic concern: from the perspective of a hegemonic power and its intellectual servants, declaration of an intent to provide a model that will inspire others-the actual source of the imagery-amounts to aggression.

When a virus is detected, it must be destroyed, and potential victims immunized. The Cuban virus called forth invasion, terror, and economic warfare, and a rash of National Security States to prevent the rot from spreading. The story was the same in Southeast Asia in the same years. The standard approach to the virus itself is a two-track policy, as in the case of Allende's Chile. The hard line called for a military coup, finally achieved. The soft line was explained by Ambassador Edward Korry, a Kennedy liberal: to add all within our power to condemn Chile and the Chileans to utmost deprivation and poverty, a policy designed for a long time to come to accelerate the hard features of a Communist society in Chile." Hence even if the hard line did not succeed in introducing fascist killers to exterminate the virus, the vision of "utmost deprivation" would suffice to keep the rot from spreading, and ultimately demoralize the patient itself. And crucially, it would provide ample grist for the mill of the cultural managers, who can produce cries of anguish at "the hard features of a Communist society," pouring scorn on those "apologists" who describe what is happening.

As Washington prepared to overthrow the first democratic government in Guatemala in 1954, a State Department official warned that Guatemala "has become an increasing threat to the stability of Honduras and El Salvador. Its agrarian reform is a powerful propaganda weapon; its broad social program of aiding the workers and peasants in a victorious struggle against the upper classes and large foreign enterprises has a strong appeal to the populations of Central American neighbors where similar conditions prevail." "Stability" means security for "the upper classes and large foreign enterprises," and it must naturally be preserved. It is understandable, then, that Eisenhower and Dulles should have felt that the "self-defense and self-preservation" of the United States might be at stake when they were advised that "a strike situation" in Honduras might "have had inspiration and support from the Guatemalan side of the border."

So important is "stability" that "desirable reforms" must not be implemented. In December 1967, Freedom House issued a statement by 14 noted scholars who declared themselves to be "the moderate segment of the academic community," praising US policies in Asia as "remarkably good," particularly in Indochina, where our courageous defense of freedom contributed greatly to ``political equilibrium in Asia," improving "the morale-and the policies-of our Asian allies and the neutrals. n The point is illustrated by what they cite as our greatest triumph, the "dramatic changes", that took place in Indonesia in 1965, when the army encouraged by our stand in Indochina, took matters in hand and slaughtered several hundred thousand people, mostly landless peasants. Quite generally, the moderate scholars explain, "many types of reform increase instability, however desirable and essential they may be in long-range terms. For people under siege, there is no substitute for security." The terms "people," "stability," etc., have their usual PC meanings.

Many noted scholars agreed with MIT political scientist Ithiel Pool that throughout the Third World, "it is clear that order depends on somehow compelling newly mobilized strata to return to a measure of passivity and defeatism." The same lessons were soon to be drawn by the Trilateral Commission for the population of the West, who were undermining "democracy" by attempting to enter the arena of democratic politics instead of keeping to their "function" as "spectators," as their betters run the show.

Such thinking is pervasive, and understandable. It will persist, as long as threats to order and stability remain. The continuities are apparent, and quite independent of the Cold War. After the Gulf War, when the Cold War was lost as a pretext beyond hope of resurrection, George Bush returned to support for his old friend and ally Saddam Hussein as he crushed the Shi'ites in the South and when the Kurds in the North. Western ideologues explained that although these atrocities offend our delicate sensibilities, we must nevertheless accept them in the name of "stability." The chief diplomatic correspondent of the New York Times, Thomas Friedman, outlined Bush Administration reasoning: Washington seeks "the best of all worlds: an iron-fisted Iraqi junta without Saddam Hussein," a return to the days when Saddam's "iron fist held Iraq together, much to the satisfaction of the American allies Turkey and Saudi Arabia," not to speak of the boss in Washington. Saddam Hussein committed his first serious crime on August 2, 1990, when he disobeyed orders. Therefore he must be destroyed, but some clone must be found to ensure "stability."

In the case of the Arab-Israel conflict, for example, the US has stood virtually alone for many years in blocking any peace process that accords national rights to Palestinians,

The United States had become the world's major industrial economy by the turn of the century, and its leading creditor by World War I, a position maintained until the Reaganites took command, quickly converting the US into the world's leading debtor. During World War II, quasi-totalitarian measures at last overcame the effects of the Great Depression, more than tripling US industrial production and teaching valuable lessons to the corporate managers who ran the wartime economy. There has been no serious challenge since to their conclusion that private wealth and power, which were nurtured by large-scale state intervention in the first place, can be sustained and enhanced only through the same means; only in rhetorical flourishes, or on the remote margins, is capitalism regarded as a viable system. With much of the world in ruins, the US had attained a historically unparalleled peak of economic and military dominance. State and corporate planners were well aware of their unprecedented power, and intent on using it to construct a global order to benefit the interests they serve.

The highest priority was to ensure that the industrial heartland, German-based Europe and Japan, would be firmly within the US-dominated world order, controlled by domestic financial-industrial sectors linked to US state-corporate power. The first order of business, then, was to undermine the antifascist resistance with its popular base in the "rascal multitude," to weaken labor, and to restore traditional conservative rule, often including fascist collaborators. This task was undertaken on a global scale in the late 1940s, with considerable violence when that proved necessary, notably in Greece and South Korea.

In this New World Order, North-South relations were reconstructed, though not in any fundamental way. The US sought a generally open world based on the principles of liberal internationalism, expecting to prevail in a competition that was "free and fair." These considerations led to a measure of support for the rising anti-colonial forces. But within limits. A 1948 CIA memorandum observed that a balance must be struck between "supporting local nationalist aspirations and maintaining the colonial economic interests of countries to whom aid has been pledged in Western Europe"; there could be lithe doubt as to the relative weights when serious US interests are at stake. Similarly, the imperial system that Japan had sought to construct had to be restored to it, under over-arching US control. These considerations led to tactical decisions to favor traditional colonial preference systems for rival/allies; temporarily, in the context of postwar reconstruction and re-establishment of trade patterns with the industrial powers on which the US economy relied.

Intending to organize the Far East pretty much on its own, Washington barred its allies from any role in determining the fate of Japan. The goal was "to guarantee U. S. security by insuring long-term American domination of Japan" and "to exclude the influence of all foreign governments" (Melvyn Leffler, expressing a scholarly consensus; "security" having its usual meaning). Given US power, that goal was easily attained, irrespective of wartime agreements. In the Middle East and Latin America, the ideological system confers on the United States the right to pursue its "needs" and "wants," respectively. The plan, therefore, was to restrict foreign interference, apart from an occasional subordinate role assigned to client powers, notably Britain in the Middle East. Britain serves as "our lieutenant (the fashionable word is partner)," as a senior Kennedy adviser put it; the British are to hear only the fashionable word.

... the ECA [Marshall Plan] mission noted, was that "The French are allergic to propaganda. They often confuse what we call information with what they call propaganda."


After World War II, the importance of the traditional service role of the South was enhanced by "the realization that the food and fuel of Eastern Europe were no longer available to Western Europe at prewar levels" (Leffler). Each region was assigned its status and "function" by the planners. The US would take charge of Latin America and the Middle East, in the latter, with the help of its lieutenant. Africa was to be '`exploited" for the reconstruction of Europe, while Southeast Asia would "fulfill its major function as a source of raw materials for Japan and Western Europe" (George Kennan and his State Department Policy Planning Staff, 1948-1949).

The framework of postwar global planning entailed that colonial relations must be reestablished in new forms and "ultranationalist" tendencies suppressed, particularly if they threaten "stability" elsewhere; the destiny of the South remains much as before. Both the industrial core and its subservient periphery were to be guarded against association with the "Sino-Soviet bloc" (or its components, when the bitter antagonism internal to the "bloc" could no longer be denied). The latter "bloc," a huge segment of the former Third World that had departed from its traditional role, had to be "contained" or, if possible, restored to the service function by "rollback. " A significant factor in the Cold War was the imposition of Soviet rule over traditional service areas, separating them from the US-dominated state capitalist world, and the threat that Soviet power might contribute to the breakaway of other areas, even influencing popular sectors within the industrial core itself, a threat considered particularly severe in the early postwar period.

North-South relations vary somewhat over the years, but rarely beyond these basic limits. The realities are described in a 1990 report by the South Commission, chaired by Julius Nyerere and consisting of leading Third World economists, government planners, religious leaders, and others. The Commission observes that there were some gestures to Third World concerns in the 1970s, "undoubtedly spurred" by concern over "the newly found assertiveness of the South after the rise in oil prices in 1973"-incidentally, not entirely unwelcome to the US and UK. As the threat of Southern assertiveness abated, the report continues, the industrial societies lost interest and turned to "a new form of neo-colonialism," monopolizing control over the world economy, underlining the more democratic elements of the United Nations, and in general proceeding to institutionalize "the South's second class status" through the 1980s.

The pattern is consistent; it would be remarkable if it were otherwise.

Reviewing the miserable state of the traditional Western domains, the South Commission called for a "new world order" that will respond to "the South's plea for justice, equity, and democracy in the global society." The prospects for this plea are revealed by the attention granted it; the study was ignored, as are Third World voices generally. They are of slight interest to the rich men to whom "the government of the world must be entrusted. ""

Several months later, George Bush appropriated the phrase "New World Order" as a cover for his war in the Gulf. In this case, word got out, and Bush-Baker rhetoric inspired much elevated discourse about the prospects opening before us. In the South, in contrast, the "New World Order" imposed by the powerful is perceived, not unrealistically, as a bitter international class war, with the advanced state capitalist economies and their transnational corporations monopolizing the means of violence and I controlling investment, capital, technology, and planning and management | decisions, at the expense of the huge mass of the population. Local elites J in the Southern dependencies can share in the spoils. The US and UK, which' wield the whip, may well continue their decline toward societies with notable Third World characteristics, dramatically obvious in the inner circles and rural areas; it is likely that continental Europe will not lag far behind,, despite the impediment of a labor movement that has not yet been entirely restored to its proper place.

... a secret February 1992 Pentagon draft of Defense Planning Guidance, leaked to the press, which describes itself as "definitive guidance from the Secretary of Defense" for budgetary policy to the year 2000. The draft develops standard reasoning. The US must hold "global power" and a monopoly of force. It will then "protect" the "new order" while allowing others to pursue "their legitimate interests," as Washington defines them. The US "must account sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order," or even "aspiring to a larger regional or global role. " There must be no independent European

security system; rather, US-dominated NATO must remain the "primary instrument of Western defense and security, as well as the channel for U.S. influence and participation in European security affairs." "We will retain the pre-eminent responsibility for addressing selectively those wrongs which threaten not only our interests, but also those of our allies or friends"; the United States alone will determine what are "wrongs" and when they are to be selectively "righted." As in the past, the Middle East is a particular concern. Here "our overall objective is to remain the predominant outside power in the region and preserve U.S. and Western access to the region's oil" while deterring aggression (selectively), maintaining strategic control and "regional stability" (in the technical sense), and protecting "U.S. nationals and property." In Latin America, the primary threat is Cuban "military provocation against the U.S. or an American ally," the standard Orwellian reference to the escalating US war against Cuban independence.

"Western European and third world diplomats here were sharply critical of some of the language in the document," Patrick Tyler reported from Washington. "Senior White House and State Department officials have harshly criticized" it as well, claiming that it "in no way or shape represents U.S. policy." The Pentagon spokesman "pointedly disavowed some of the central policy statements" of the document, noting, however, that "its basic thrust mirrors the public statements and testimony of Defense Secretary Dick Cheney." This constitutes a `"tactical withdrawal" by the Pentagon, Tyler suggests, prompted by the "reaction in Congress and from senior Administration officials." Quite possibly Administration criticisms also reflect concerns over the alarms that the document set off in many capitals, and their harsh criticism too is a tactical withdrawal. Cheney and Undersecretary for Policy Paul Wolfowitz "endorsed [the] principal views" of the document, senior officials acknowledged. There was also criticism in the press, notably from Times foreign policy specialist Leslie Gelb, who objected to the "daydreaming about being the world's policeman" and one "disturbing omission": "the document seems to be silent about any American role in insuring Israeli security."

The debates reflect a real foreign policy dilemma. With its economy in relative decline and its social base in serious disrepair, particularly after a decade of Reaganite borrow-and-spend abandon, is the US in a position to maintain the hegemonic role it has played for half a century? And will others accept a subordinate role? Will they be willing to pay the costs, as the US exploits its comparative advantage in military force to maintain the particular version of global order demanded by the domestic power interests, costs that the US is no longer in a position to sustain itself? It is not clear that the other rich men will agree to employ the US as their "Hessians," as widely advocated in the business press during the build-up to the Gulf war, perhaps along with its British lieutenant. The latter [Britain] is also in social and economic decline but "well qualified, motivated, and likely to have a high military profile as the mercenary of the international community," the military correspondent of the London Independent comments-again, a regular theme during the Gulf war, accompanied by much triumphant breast-beating among British jingoists, dreaming of the good old days when they had "the right to bomb niggers" with no whining from the left-fascists.

... international economist Susan Strange observed [1971] German-led Europe and Japan had recovered from wartime destruction, and the US was facing the unanticipated costs of the Vietnam war. The world economy was entering an era of "tripolarity"-and also, crucially, of stagnation and declining profitability of capital. The predictable reaction was a rapid intensification of the class war: that is waged with unceasing dedication by the corporate sector, its political agents, and ideological servants. The years that followed saw an attack on real wages, social services, and unions-indeed any kind of functioning democratic structure-so as to overcome the troublesome "crisis of democracy" brought about by the illegitimate efforts of the public to bring their interests into the political arena. The ideological component of the offensive sought to strengthen authority and habits of obedience, to diminish social consciousness and such human frailties as concern for others, and to instruct young people that they are confirmed narcissists. Another objective has been to establish a de facto world government insulated from popular awareness or interference, devoted to the task of ensuring that the world's human and material resources are freely available to the transnational corporations (TNCs) and international banks that are to control the global system.

The US led | a fierce attack on the United Nations that effectively eliminated it as an independent force in world affairs. UNESCO inspired particular hatred, because of its Third World orientation and the threat to ideological domination. The demolition operation and the return of the UN to US control have been lauded here as a restoration of the ideals of the founders, not without justice. Extraordinary deceit has been required to conceal the fact that it has been primarily the US, secondarily Britain, that have vetoed Security Council resolutions and generally undermined the UN for over 20 J years, and to sustain the standard pretense that "Soviet obstructionism" and "shrill Third World and-Americanism" are what rendered the UN ineffective. The no less extraordinary levels of deceit that accompanied the government-media campaign to eliminate UNESCO heresies are documented in an important study, which, needless to say, had no effect whatsoever on the flow of necessary lies.

The phenomenon did not emerge from nowhere. One crucial component of the post-affluence class war has been a far-reaching takeover of the ideological system by the right, with a proliferation of right-wing think tanks, a campaign to extend conservative control still further over ideologically significant sectors of the colleges and universities, now replete with professorships of free enterprise, lavishly funded far-right student journals, and so on; and an array of other devices to restrict the framework of discussion and thought, as much as possible, to the reactionary end of the already narrow spectrum. Things actually reached such a point that a respected liberal foreign policy analyst could describe the statist-conservative New York Times, without irony, as the "establishment left" (Charles Maynes). In the political system, "liberal" joined "socialist" as a scare word; by 1992, the Democratic Party scarcely needed to make a gesture to popular constituencies it had once professed to represent. Gore Vidal hardly exaggerates when he describes US politics as a one-party system with two right wings. One aspect of this ideological triumph has been the deeper implantation of Orwellian rhetoric and standards of Political Correctness to which one must adhere to join respectable discussion, a number of examples already illustrated. Departure from these conventions of belief and rhetoric is virtually unthinkable, in the mainstream.

As noted, the rich industrial societies themselves are taking on something of a Third World cast, with islands of extreme wealth and privilege amidst a rising sea of poverty and despair. This is particularly true of the US and Britain, subjected to Reagan-Thatcher discipline. Continental Europe is not too far behind ...

... the US press, where the news columns bitterly assailed striking German workers for their "soft life," long vacations, and general lack of understanding of their proper place as tools of production for the rich and powerful. They should learn the lessons taught to American workers by the Caterpillar corporation at the same time: profits and productivity up, wages down, the right to strike effectively eliminated by the free resort to scabs ("permanent replacement workers").

These are the fruits of the fierce corporate campaign undertaken as soon as American workers finally won the right to organize in the mid-1930s, after long years of bitter struggle and violent repression unmatched in the industrial world. Perhaps we may even return to the days when the admired philanthropist Andrew Carnegie could preach the virtues of "honest, industrious, self-denying poverty,' to the victims of the great depression of 1896, shortly after he had brutally crushed the steel workers union at Homestead, while announcing that the defeated workers had sent him a wire saying, "Kind master, tell us what you wish us to do and we will do it for you." It was because he knew "how sweet and happy and pure the home of honest poverty is" that Carnegie sympathized with the rich, he explained, meanwhile sharing their grim fate in his lavishly appointed mansions.

So a well-ordered society should run, according to the "vile maxim of the masters."

.. the Orwellian term is "right to work," meaning "effectively illegal to organize".

Overall, the 1980s accelerated a global rift between a small sector enjoying great privilege, and a growing mass of people suffering depravation and misery. Though superfluous for wealth production or consumption, the only human functions recognized in the dominant institutions and their ideology, these people must be dealt with somehow. Current social policy in the US is to coop them up in urban centers where they can prey upon one another; or to lock them in jail, a useful concomitant of the drug war.

London Financial Times

In the current version, "The construction of a new global system is orchestrated by the Group of Seven, the IMF, the World Bank and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)," in "a system of indirect rule that has involved the integration of leaders of developing countries into the network of the new ruling class"-who, not surprisingly, turn out to be the old ruling class. Local managers can share the wealth, as long as they properly serve the rulers.

Morgan takes note of "the hypocrisy of the rich nations in demanding open markets in the Third World while closing their own." He might have added the World Bank report that the protectionist measures of the industrial countries reduce national income in the South by about twice the amount provided by official aid, largely export-promotion, most of it to the richer sectors of the "developing countries"

Structural adjustment imposed by the World Bank and IMF have brought disaster to the working poor of as many as 100 ) countries," forced to open their markets to a flood of cheap imports" while ~ the rich refuse "to abandon their subsidies, quotas and high tariffs." The result is 'brutal' suppression of wages and living standards" and elimination of social programs, the effects increasing as the programs are implemented over the J past decade or more.

For the past several hundred years, elite democratic theory has tended to range within a narrow spectrum. At one extreme, we have the libertarian thinker John Locke, whose held that citizens have no right to discuss public affairs, though they may know about them; the modern variant is a bit more forthcoming. At the other extreme we have statist reactionaries of the Reaganite variety ("conservatives"), who reject the right of the public even to know what their leaders are doing and therefore establish illegal state propaganda agencies, favor large-scale clandestine operations, block release of information about the government even from the distant past, and in other ways protect state power from scrutiny. Reagan-era censorship reached unprecedented heights, including suppression of the documentary record so extreme that the chairman of the academic advisory board for the State Department resigned in protest. The new imperial age marks a further move towards the authoritarian extreme of formal democratic practice.

The public is not unaware of what is happening, though with the success of the policies of isolation and breakdown of organizational structure, the response is erratic and self-destructive: faith in ridiculous billionaire saviors, myths of past innocence and noble leaders, religious and jingoist fanaticism, conspiracy cults, unfocused skepticism and disillusionment-a mixture that has not had happy consequences in the past.

The Soviet Union reached the peak of its power by the late 1950s, always far behind the West. A 1980 study of the Center for Defense Information (CDI), tracing Russian influence on a country-by-country basis since World War II, concluded reasonably that Soviet power had declined from that peak to the point where by 1979, "the Soviets were influencing only 6 percent of the world's population and 5 percent of the world's GNP, exclusive of the Soviet Union." y the mid-1960s, the Soviet economy was stagnating or even declining; there was an accompanying decline in housing, commerce, and life expectancy, while infant mortality increased by a third from 1970 to 1975.

Throughout the period, great efforts have been undertaken to present the Soviet Union as larger than life, about to overwhelm us. The most important Cold War document, NSC 68 of April 1950, sought to conceal the Soviet weakness that was unmistakably revealed by analysis, so as to convey the required image of the "slave state" pursuing its "implacable purpose" of gaining "absolute authority" over the world, its way barred only by the United States, with its almost unimaginable nobility and perfection. So awesome was the threat that Americans must come to accept "the necessity for just suppression" as a crucial feature of "the democratic way." They must accept "a large measure of sacrifice and discipline," including thought control and a shift of government spending from social programs to "defense and foreign assistance" (in translation: subsidy for advanced industry and export promotion). In a 1948 book, liberal activist Cord Meyer, an influential figure in the CIA, wrote that the right to strike must be "denied" if it is not voluntarily restricted, given "the urgency of [the] defense plans" required. And "citizens of the United States will have to accustom themselves to the ubiquitous presence of the powerful secret police needed for protection against sabotage and espionage." As under Wilson, fascist methods are needed to guard against the threat to "stability."

Exaggeration of the enemy's power is a characteristic feature of the North-South conflict; at the outer limits, one hears that Sandiistas were about to march on Texas, even that Grenada was a menace, "strategically located" to threaten US oil supplies, as "the Cubans surely appreciate" (Robert Leiken). The procedure was not invented with the Cold War. "A review of alarmist scenarios from the past might well begin with the threat from Chile posited in the 1880s by advocates of a new navy," John Thompson observes, reviewing the "tradition" of "exaggeration of American vulnerability." Recall as well the "mingled hordes of lawless Indians and negroes" who compelled us to conquer Florida in self-defense, and on back to colonial days.

The purpose is transparent. The cultural managers must have at hand the tools to do their work. And apart from the most cynical, planners must convince themselves of the justice of the actions, often monstrous, that they plan and implement. There are only two pretexts: self-defense and benevolence. It need not be assumed that use of the tools is mere deception or careerism, though sometimes it is. Nothing is easier than to convince oneself of the merits of actions and policies that serve self-interest.

That Washington has little use for diplomatic means or institutions of world order, unless they can be I used as instruments of its own power, has been dramatically illustrated in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Central America, and elsewhere. Nothing is likely to change in this regard, including the efficiency with which the facts are concealed.

In the case of Iraq, the disappearance of the Soviet deterrent was a crucial factor in the US-UK decision for war, as widely discussed. It might have been a factor in the invasion of Panama, as claimed by Reagan Latin America hand Elliott Abrams, who exulted that the US was now free to use force without fear of a Russian reaction.

Hostility to functioning democracy in Central America continued without any change. As the Berlin Wall fell, elections were held in Honduras in 'an inspiring example of the democratic promise that today is spreading throughout the Americas," in George Bush's words. The candidates represented large landowners and wealthy industrialists, with close ties to the military, the effective rulers, under US control. Their political programs were virtually identical, and the campaign was largely restricted to insults and entertainment. Human rights abuses by the security forces escalated before the election. Starvation and misery were rampant, having increased during the "decade of democracy," along with capital flight and the debt burden. But there was no major threat to order, or to investors.

At the same time, the electoral campaign opened in Nicaragua. Its 1984 elections do not exist in US commentary. They could not be controlled, and therefore are not an inspiring example of democracy. Taking no chances with the long-scheduled 1990 elections, Bush announced as the campaign opened in November that the embargo would be lifted if his candidate won. The White House and Congress renewed their support for the contra forces in defiance of the Central American presidents, the World Court, and the United Nations, rendered irrelevant by the US veto. The media went along, continuing to suppress the US subversion of the peace process with the diligence required on important affairs of state. Nicaraguans were thus informed that only a vote for the US candidate would end the terror and illegal economic warfare. In Latin America, the electoral results were generally interpreted as a victory for George Bush, even by those who celebrated the outcome. In the United States, in contrast, the Outcome was hailed as a "Victory for U.S. Fair Play," with 'Americans United in Joy," Albanian-style, as New York Times headlines put it.

It is not that the celebrants were unaware of how the US victory was achieved. Rather, there was unconcealed joy at the grand success in subverting democracy. Time magazine, for example, was quite frank about the means employed to bring about the latest of the "happy series of democratic surprises" as "democracy burst forth" in Nicaragua. The method was to "wreck the economy and prosecute a long and deadly proxy war until the exhausted natives overthrow the unwanted government themselves," with a cost to us that is "minimal," leaving the victim "with wrecked bridges, sabotaged power stations, and ruined farms," and thus providing the U.S. candidate with "a winning issue": ending the "impoverishment of the people of Nicaragua." To appreciate the character of the political culture, it is only necessary to imagine the same story appearing in Stalinist Russia with a few names changed, an intellectual exercise far beyond the capacity of Western commissars.

The frankness is refreshing, and reveals with exactitude just what is meant by the "Americans United in joy" who proclaim their dedication to "democracy."

Washington has employed similar methods to bring "democracy" to Angola; here too the country has been devastated, with a death toll reaching hundreds of thousands. From 1975, Angola was under attack by South Africa and the terrorist forces of Jonas Savimbi's UNITA, operating from Namibia and then Zaire with US support. Virtually alone, the US refused to recognize the MPLA government and subjected it to economic warfare. South Africa finally withdrew after a military defeat by the Cuban forces that had resisted its aggression since 1975, and a peace agreement was signed (May 1991) calling for elections. As in Central America, the US moved at once to subvert it, continuing its support for UNITA terror. The results are described by South African journalist Philip van Niekerk: peasants "don't like UNITA," "But most of the people are afraid that if UNITA loses the elections, the war will go on" (quoting a Dutch development worker in the countryside).

People who are "aware of the atrocities committed by UNITA" may be "appalled" at the prospects, van Niekerk continues, but continuation of the war is more than the population can bear. The ruling MPLA 'sacrificed a generation to repel the years of South African aggression and US-funded destabilization by Unita," Victoria Brittain writes. It lost any early credibility; what it might have done without the US-South African attack is anyone's guess. A "new wave of white settlers" is "re-colonizing" Angola, van Niekerk reports, now Afrikaners, later perhaps Portuguese returning to reclaim their lands. "The only optimism," Brittain concludes, "comes from the South African businessmen who occupy the lobbies of the newly refurbished hotels" in Luanda, where cynics say that "If Units wins they'll have the country handed to them on a plate, if the MPLA wins they'll still have the country, for a handful of rands."

It is, again, only natural that at the dissident extreme, Anthony Lewis should laud the "consistent American policy" from the 1970s "to help negotiate an end to the brutal civil war" in Angola, and the successful pursuit by the Bush Administration of "a peaceful policy" aiming at "a political solution in Nicaragua. "

The traditional attitude toward democracy was reiterated by a Latin America Strategy Development Workshop at the Pentagon in September 1990. It concluded that current relations with the Mexican dictatorship are 'extraordinarily positive," untroubled by stolen elections, death squads, endemic torture, scandalous treatment of workers and peasants, and so forth. But "a 'democracy opening' in Mexico could test the special relationship by bringing into office a government more interested in challenging the U.S. on economic and nationalist grounds," the fundamental concern over many years.

Each year, the White House sends to Congress a report explaining that the military threat we face requires vast expenditures-which, accidentally, sustain high-tech industry at home and repression abroad. The first post-Cold War edition was in March 1990. The Russians having disappeared from the scene, the report at last recognized frankly that the enemy is the Third World. US military power must target the Third World, it concluded, primarily the Middle East, where the "threats to our interests.

The use of force to control the Third World is a last resort. Economic weapons are more efficient, when feasible. Some of the newer mechanisms can be seen in the GAIT negotiations. Western powers call for liberalization when that is in their interest, and for enhanced protection when that is in their interest. One major US concern is the "new themes": guarantees for "intellectual property rights," such as patents and software, that will enable TNCs to monopolize new technology; and removal of constraints on services and investment, which will undermine national development programs in the Third World and effectively place economic and social policy decisions in the hands of TNCs and the financial institutions of the North. These are "issues of greater magnitude" than the more publicized conflict over agricultural subsidies, according to William Brock, head of the Multilateral Trade Negotiations Coalition of major US corporations.

In general, each of the wealthy industrial powers advocates a mixture of liberalization and protection (the Multifiber Arrangement and its extensions, the US-Japan semiconductor agreement, Voluntary Export Arrangements, etc.), designed for the interests of dominant domestic forces, and particularly for the TNCs that are to run the world economy. The effects would be to restrict Third World governments to a police function to control their working classes and superfluous population, while TNCs gain free access to their resources and monopolize new technology and global investment and production-and of course are granted the central planning, allocation, production, and distribution functions denied to governments, unacceptable agents because they might fall under the influence of popular pressures reflecting domestic needs. The outcome may be called "free trade" for doctrinal reasons, but it might more accurately be described as "a system of world economic governance with parameters defined by the unregulated market and rules administered by supranational banks and corporations"

... Meanwhile, the US is establishing a regional bloc that will enable to compete more effectively with the Japan-led region and the EC. Canada's role is to provide resources and some services and skilled labor, as it is absorbed more fully into the US economy with reduction of the welfare system, labor rights, and cultural independence. The Canadian Labour Congress reported the loss of over 225,000 jobs in the first two years of the Free Trade Agreement, along with a wave of takeovers of Canadian-based companies (see chapter 2.5). Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean are to supply cheap labor for assembly plants, as in the maquiladora industries of northern Mexico, where harsh working conditions, low wages, and the absence of environmental controls offer highly profitable conditions for investors. Internal repression and structural adjustment will ensure ample cheap and docile labor. These regions are also to provide export crops and markets for US agribusiness. Mexico and Venezuela are also to provide oil, with US corporations granted the right to take part in production, reversing efforts at domestic control of natural resources. The press failed to give Bush sufficient credit for his achievements in his Fall 1990 tour

There are many familiar reasons why wealth and power tend to reproduce. It should, then, come as little surprise that the Third World continues to fall behind the North. UN statistics indicate that as a percent of developed countries, Africa's GDP per capita (minus South Africa) declined by about 50 percent from 1960 to 1987. The decline was almost as great in Latin America.

For similar reasons, within the rich societies themselves, large sectors of the population are becoming superfluous by the reigning values and must be marginalized or suppressed, increasingly so in the past 20-year period of economic stagnation and pressures on corporate profits.

... societies of the North-notably the United States-are taking on certain Third World aspects. The distribution of privilege and despair in a society with the enormous advantages of ours is not, of course, what one finds in Brazil or Mexico. But the tendencies are not hard to see.

In general, prospects for the overwhelming majority at home and abroad are not auspicious, in the "new imperial age."

Year 501

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