Re: vietnam/civil rights (fwd)

Thu, 18 Apr 1996 10:51:53 -0400

Some thoughts from D. Eide's "dear old mother in Berkeley."

Glad you share a view that is cognizant of and condemns what the United States
did to the Vietnamese people and land.

I share your view of the global irrationality of the arms race. But what is
the connection between this and Vietnam? We were demolishing (or trying to)
the Vietnamese resistance to an oppressive, post-colonial government... why...?
to help our `efforts' to `roll back the arms race?' I trust you aren't
arguing this.

> Vietnam, then, can be understood
>as a mistake by a people and state that didn't have experience
>in being a world power.
What, exactly, was the "mistake?" In what way was what the United States
trying to do in South Vietnam from 1954 on any different from what it has done
before and since in places like Guatemala, El Salvador, etc? Or is a
fundamental design of American foreign policy a "mistake?" And, if so, do you
really think our policy planners since the early 1940s are that consistently
stupid? I would suggest that there is a fundamental contradiction between the
"stable" world you call for --at least as this is translated through the
imperatives of American foreign policy, during and after the Cold war-- and
the democratic empowerment of the masses of 3rd world peoples. Putting it
differently, the need to create a "good business climate" in the 3rd world
(cf. Mexico today) MEANS the needs and drives of the indigenous mass of
impoverished people MUST be deflected, diverted, suppressed, and if necessary,

Which brings me to these outdated "ideological fixations that were prominent at
the time...."

> Capitalism is (outside the safe womb of universities) the
>only salvation for women and people of color. That they are not
>taught this is a sin that is on the hands of so-called leaders
>and teachers.
> Since Marx is dead as a thought-instrument it has no
>credibility in analyzing institutions, history, peoples or
>anything else. Progessives of the 60's are the last group
>in the world to figure this out.

I'd suggest, gently, this view is rather time and culture bound. Outside the
save womb of, what, the mass mediated mainstream, what precisely IS capitalism
doing for womena and people of color --especially those in the 3rd world (and
those in this country headed that way)?!! Interesting that Marx is dead as a
thought-instrument (why? because the Soviet experiment failed? Sorry, but I
suspect Marx would roll over in his grave on that one); please explain how the
globalized capitalist economy is affecting working people, the ecosphere, and
the ability of national populations to shape public policy to meet public needs
(democracy)? I would think some of the imperatives and contradictions of
capitalism might be on some minute way relevant here.

But, stay tuned, I don't think we've yet seen all the delicious effects of
capitalism freed from having to confront and subvert "Communistm." Nor have
we quite reached the pinnacle of human development in economic organization.

Ted Morgan

[And, as I pointed out in an earlier post, the vast majority of the American
public did not support the Gulf War until the missiles started firing and the
mass media performed as a chorus of cheer-leaders.]