Clinton St. Quarterly, Vol. 5 No. 2 | Summer 1983 (Seattle) /// Issue 4 of 24 /// Master# 4 of 24

the other, but also hostile ideologies, security operations, and political structures. Both sides are preparing, and over-preparing, for a war in which both would share in mutual ruin. Yet both parties deny any intention of attacking the other: both mutter on about “ deterrence” or “ defense” . If we ask, the partisans of either side what the Cold War Is now about, they regard us with the glazed eyes of addicts. It is there because it is there. It is there (they might say) because of the irreconcilable antagonism between two political and social systems: totalitarianism versus democracy — or Communism versus capitalism or Western imperialism. Each must be motivated, of its own inherent nature, by the desire to vanquish the other. Only the mutual fear of “ deterrence” can stave off a total confrontation. The trouble with these answers is that they are phrased in terms of the ideological justifications for the Cold War at the moment of its origin. They remain fixed, in the perma-frost of that icy moment. Godless Marxism # 1 brief survey will show us that < ■ the notion of two monolithic adversary systems conforms uneasily with the evidence of the past decades. To take the Communist block first: if it is aiming to vanquish Europe and then the world, it is making a bad job of it. It has lost Yugoslavia. It has lost Albania. The Soviet Union and China have split bitterly apart. From the time of the post-war settlement, which established a protective belt of client Communist states around Russia’s western frontiers, there has been no further expansion into European territory. Twenty-five years ago Soviet and NATO forces were withdrawn from Austria, and the peace treaty which guaranteed Austria’s neutrality has been honoured by both sides. There has also been a major recession in pro-Soviet Communist movements in the West. The Cominform, established in 1947, was seen by Western ideologists as a Trojan horse within Western societies: or a whole set of Trojan horses, the largest being in Italy and France. The Cominform has long been broken up. Disgusted by the events of 1956, by the Soviet repression of the “ Prague Spring” in 1968, most Western parties have turned in a “ Eurocommunist” direction: they are sharply critical of the Soviet denial of civil rights, oppose Soviet military policies (including the intervention in Afghanistan), and in general have supported Polish Solidarity. This is true of the huge Italian Communist Party (which endorses a critical commitment to NATO), of the influential Spanish party, and of the small British party. The French Communist Party, which has been ambiguous on questions of civil rights, has steadily lost support in the French electorate. Or take the question of Marxism. In Cold War fiction Soviet Communism is supposed to be motivated by a philosophy, “ Godless Marxism,” with universal claims. The strange development here is, not only that religion appears to be reviving in most parts of the Communist world, but that the intellectural universe of Marxism is now in chaos. In the Warsaw Pact countries there is something called Marxism-Leninism, learned by role, which is a necessary rhetoric for those who wish to advance within the career structures of the state. It provokes, in the public generally, nothing but a yawn. I can think of no Soviet intellectual who, as a Marxist, commands any intellectual authority outside the Soviet Union. Yet, in an odd sideways movement, Marxism as an intellectual system has migrated to the West and to the Third World, just as certain liberal beliefs have been migrating to dissident circles in the Communist world. Marxism in the West has fragmented into a hundred argumentative schools. And most of these schools are profoundly critical of the Soviet Union and of Communist practice. Marxism is certainly a vigorous intellectual influence in the West and in the Third World — an influence at work in many universities, journals, and works of scholarship. But whatever this Marxism may be — and it is becoming d ifficu lt to say what it is — it has nothing whatsoever to do with Soviet expansionism. Look where we will, the evidence is at odds with the Cold War fictions. Poland is only one of several East European nations which are now In one sense the present crisis in Western Europe can be read in this way. The United States is seeking to use the muscle of its nuclear weaponry to compensate for its loss of real influence. deeply indebted to Western banks. What are we to make of a “ people’s democracy” in hock to the capitalists? The Soviet Union depends for grain upon the prairies of the Mid-West of America and the farmers of the MidWest depend, in turn, upon these annual sales. West Germany has recently completed an agreement which will bring natural gas from Siberia, to the extent of close on 10 per cent of the country’s energy needs. The French government is at present negotiating a similar agreement for natural gas which would make France depend on Soviet gas for 26 per cent of its requirements in 1990. Long-standing trade agreements traverse both blocs and there is even that phenomenon, which one observer has described as “ vodkacola,” by which Western multinationals have invested in Soviet and East European enterprises, taking advantage of the low labor costs and the absence of industrial conflict in the Communist world. Even the Soviet ICBMs may incorporate components of United States design or manufacture. Of course the American military receive the top-flight computers and technology for their own use. I do not know whether the American public should draw comfort from the fact that the ICBMs directed at them may be guided by second- rate components of their own design. I am not saying that the social and political systems of East and West are identical or even comparable. I am saying that the first Cold War premise — of irreconcilable adversary posture between the blocs across the whole board has become a fiction. Once again, if we assume that the aim of Soviet Communism is to overrun all Europe, then it is not doing very well. It can’t even hold what it has. Their missies summon forward our missies which summon forward their missies in turn. NATO's hawks feed the hawks of the Warsaw bloc. The Flip Side /f we turn the picture around, and look at the West, we discover other contradictions. At the moment of the Cold War’s origin — when the permafrost set in — the United States had emerged from the Second World War, alone of all the advanced economies, with a huge unimpaired productive capacity. The “ American Century” was, exactly, when economic and military strength were overwhelming, and diplomatic and cultural influence ensued. NATO, perforce, was an alliance expressive of United States hegemony, and, in its military structure, under direct American command. But the American Century was not to last for a hundred years. In past decades the American economy has entered into a long secular decline in relation to its competitors: Japan, the EEC powers (notably West Germany and France). The cultural influence and the diplomatic authority of the United States has entered a similar decline. And the United States conventional military forces also suffered a catastrophic defeat in Vietnam. Only the overwhelming nuclear strength has been maintained — has grown year after year — has been protracted beyond the moment of its origin. United States militarism seeks to extend forward indefinitely — to cast its shadow across Europe — a supremacy of economic and political force which existed thirty years ago but which has long ceased to exist. In one sense the present crisis in Western Europe can be read in this way. The United States is seeking to use the muscle of its nuclear weaponry to compensate for its loss of real influence. The crisis has been reflected first, and most sharply, within Western European Social-Democratic and Labour movements. When the Cold War first struck, there was a fierce contest within these movements. This was (I must simplify) seen as a contest between pro-American and pro-Communist tendencies. A small and honourable tendency argued for a “ third way” or “ third force” between both tendencies: it lost all influence when the Two Camps finally took up their adversary stance. As a general rule, the pro-American, or Atlanticist tendency won, and the pro-Communist tendency was expelled or reduced to a grumbling opposition. But victorious Atlanticism placed Social-Democracy in an odd position. It entailed the submission of Social Democratic and of Labour parties to the hegemony of the most vigorous capitalist power in world military, diplomatic, and even in some economic, political and cultural affairs. This did not extinguish the humanitarian impulse in -the programmes of those parties. So long as the economies continued to grow, it was possible, despite this overarching hegemony, to re-distribute some wealth within the native economy, and to assert some priorities in the fields of welfare, health or education. It was possible to keep electorates — and party activists — satisfied. This is no longer possible. The reasons are self-evident. Some are directly economic: recession no longer affords space for humanitarian programmes, while it also stimulates direct competition between United States and EEC economies. Others are ideological: there has been a resurgence of the uninhibited reproductive drives of capital, from its United States strongholds, taking directly imperialist forms in its pursuit of oil, uranium, scarce resources and markets in the Second and Third Worlds, and propping up client military tyrannies. These reasons alone might have brought Atlanticism to the point of crisis. But the crisis, today, is above all political and military. It no longer makes any sense for American hegemony to be extended over Western Europe through the institutions of NATO when, in the intervening thirty-five years since the Cold War set in, the balance of real forces has tipped back perceptibly towards this side of the Atlantic. It makes no sense at all for decisions as to the siting of missiles — and as to the ownership and operation of American missiles on European soil — to be taken in the Pentagon, when these decisions affect the very survival of Europe. Hawks Feeding Hawks hat, then, is the Cold War, as we enter the 1980s, about? The answer to this question can give us no comfort at all. If we look at the military scene, then nothing is receding. On the contrary, the m ilitary establishments of both superpowers continue to grow each year. The Cold War, in this sense, has broken free from the occasions at its origin, and has acquired an independent inertial thrust of its own. What is the Cold War now about? It is about itself. We face here, in the grimmest sense, the “ consequences of consequences” . The Cold War may be seen as a show which was put, by two rival entrepreneurs, upon the road in 1946 or 1947. The show has grown bigger and bigger; the entrepreneurs have lost control of it, as it has thrown up its own managers, administrators, producers and a huge supporting cast; these have a direct interest in its continuance, in its enlargement. Whatever happens, the show must go on. The Cold War has become a habit, an addiction. But it is a habit supported by very powerful material interests in each bloc: the militaryindustrial and research establishments of both sides, the security services and intelligence operations, and the political servants of these interests. These interests command a large (and growing) allocation of the skills and resources of each society; they influence the direction of each society’s economic and social development; and it is in the interest of these interests to increase that allocation and to influence this direction even more. I don’t mean to argue for an identity of process in the United States and the Soviet Union, nor for a perfect symmetry of forms. There are major divergencies, not only in political forms and controls, but also as between the steady expansionism of bureaucracy and the avarice of private capital. I mean to stress, rather, the reciprocal and inter-active character of the process. It is in the very nature of this Cold War show that there must be two adversaries: and each move by one must be matched by the other. This is the inner dynamic of the Cold War which determines that its military and security establishments are selfreproducing. Their missiles summon forward our missiles which summon forward their missiles in turn. NATO’s hawks feed the hawks of the Warsaw bloc. For the ideology of the Cold War is self-reproducing also. That is, the military and the security services and their political servants need the Cold Continued on Page 32 Clinton St. Quarterly 7