The Myth of
DECEMBER 6, 1968 -- It is now more than three months since the Warsaw Pact nations intervened in Czechoslovakia. Even if no substantial or abiding change in the internal situation of that country has occurred, it has at least stopped the counter-revolution in its tracks. Its international effects, which have only begun to sink in, are truly enormous.
We merely have to take a glance at the world scene today and it becomes apparent at once that there has taken place a radical alteration in the attitude of the world bourgeoisie and of the U.S. ruling class toward the Soviet Union and its socialist allies. One only has to remind oneself how relations between the Soviet Union and the United States were regarded just a bare few weeks before the intervention to see how different things appear today.
In the New York Times of July 8, 1968, five months ago, Harry Schwartz presented a definitive appraisal of Soviet-American relations over a five-year period. His conclusion was that cooperation between the two countries was "now so important and obvious that Communist dogmatists inside and outside the Soviet Union consider the situation a scandal."
However, on November 22, the chief foreign correspondent of the same paper, C. L. Sulzburger, was singing a different tune. Commenting on Soviet-American relations in the light of Czechoslovakia and the mounting crisis in the Mideast, he found that "there is distinct wariness on both sides of the ideological frontier" and, what is far more significant, "a renewed fear of ultimate hot war."
Deluded imperialists thought that the
counter-revolution was completely safe
So certain was Harry Schwartz in July about this lasting cooperation between the USSR and the USA that he did not even mention the situation in Czechoslovakia! Since then Czechoslovakia has become a virtual obsession with the U.S. ruling class. The Times itself felt obliged to send to Moscow, in addition to its regular reporters, two of its top correspondents, James Reston, the executive editor, and C. L. Sulzburger.
When Schwartz, who is one of its top Soviet analysts, wrote his appraisal, he took it for granted, along with all the others, that the truly scandalous cooperation he had alluded to forestalled any serious move by the Soviet Union to reverse the counter-revolutionary trend in Eastern Europe. Of course, Schwartz, as well as the Times, was not alone in his evaluation of Soviet-American relations. Indeed, practically all elements of the ruling class seemed to share the same view, especially in Western Europe.
On the basis of this evaluation they concluded that the Soviet Union would not intervene in Czechoslovakia and that the counterrevolution would not only continue unchecked in Czechoslovakia but perhaps take strong hold in the rest of Eastern Europe and maybe in the Soviet Union as well.
Even the U.S. military, which took a more cautious view of the situation, concurred. For instance, R. Rockingham Gill, the Pentagon's military analyst for Eastern Europe, assured the Czechoslovak neo-restorationists in no uncertain terms that the chances of the Soviet Union intervening were minimal. (See "Czechoslovakia: Will the Soviet Army Intervene?" July 8, 1968, issue of East Europe, a CIA-State Department publication.)
After the intervention in Czechoslovakia, it was the top cold war expert and former U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union, George Kennan, who started beating the war drums. Once again he tried to give the lead in a reappraisal of U.S.-Soviet relations, as he had done in 1947 with his infamous "Mr. X" article in Foreign Affairs, in which he laid out a blueprint for U.S. imperialist aggression against the Soviet Union, its allies, and the liberation movements of the world. Only now he sounded so frantic and irrational in his call for the deployment of "a couple of new U.S. troop divisions into Western Europe" to counter the Warsaw Pact nations that he could scarcely be regarded as serious.
While other spokesmen for the imperialist establishment were undoubtedly no less frantic, few could see the possibilities of immediately deploying one or more divisions as Kennan demanded, with the war in Vietnam going as it was and in the midst of an election campaign where the capitalist candidates were outdoing each other in peace demagogy.
New U.S. war moves: revival of NATO
back to the days of John Foster Dulles
Nevertheless, a series of war moves engineered by the U.S. under the cover of NATO have made it abundantly clear that the call by the New York Times of September 13 for a "long overdue updating of NATO political and military policy" had the complete backing of the U.S. government and its military establishment.
The Times editorial foreshadowed the so-called warning to the Warsaw Pact nations issued by the NATO Council of Ministers which was held a month later on November 16. In a saber-rattling communique, dictated no doubt by the Pentagon, the Council said: "Any Soviet intervention directly or indirectly affecting the situation in Europe or in the Mediterranean would create an international crisis with grave consequences."
This is a return to the kind of language that John Foster Dulles used and the kind of language that Gen. Lyman Lemnitzer, the NATO commander, undoubtedly insisted upon. Its effect is to re-assert U.S. hegemony over Europe in both the political and military sense and to proclaim once again that the Mediterranean is still an American lake.
It is also a menacing challenge to the Arab people and is calculated to stem the tide of their ever-rising liberation movement. In a lesser sense, this bellicose pronunciamento is also calculated to shore up the rapidly fading fortunes of the fascist regimes of Portugal (and its beleaguered African empire), Spain and Greece.
It should also be noted that the Warsaw Pact intervention has modified the character of the international situation even in areas which seem far removed from it. Thus, the recent monetary crisis in Western Europe, which reflects the sharpening struggle among the imperialists for markets, for new areas of exploitation, and for more intensified exploitation of older areas, was in part influenced by the intervention.
In a sense the intervention was public notice to the imperialists that the Czechoslovak economy was not "up for grabs" by the imperialists, as was assumed by them following the January coup by the Dubcek group of neo-restorationists. Czechoslovakia had already been looked upon as a lucrative market. Not only the U.S., but Britain, West Germany, France and all the rest of the European capitalist countries eagerly looked forward to getting their slice of the pie. It was a project which the imperialists had conceived and worked upon for a long time, which was at long last to bear some fruit.
Their severe disappointment could not but be reflected in their monetary dealings, which are all too frequently based on rising political anticipations, which are in turn, more often than not, as inflated as their currencies.
U.S.-USSR collaboration limited by basic
irreconcilability of two social systems
The new, more aggressive stand of U.S. monopoly capitalism does not necessarily imply a corresponding change in the direction of revolutionary policy by the Soviet leadership. But it does indicate that there is a limit to the kind of collaboration that the Soviet leaders have accommodated themselves to for so many years in relation to the U.S.
In particular it illustrates how far the Soviet leaders will go in the pursuit of the false and spurious doctrine of peaceful co-existence. They will abandon it only, it seems, when it becomes patently clear to at least some of the most authoritative of the Soviet leaders that its further pursuit will end up in the destruction of the socialist basis of the Soviet Union itself or, at least, become a great danger to it.
That is one of the most important lessons of the Czechoslovak experience, which at this writing is by no means a closed book.
The miscalculation of the bourgeoisie in relation to the Warsaw Pact intervention is based in part on the myth of the military omnipotence of the U.S., a myth which is slowly disintegrating under the impact of the Vietnam war. It is also based in part on the many years of accommodation of the Soviet leadership to the demands and threats of U.S. finance capital.
As a consequence of this, bourgeois scholars, paid and unpaid government advisors and, above all, liberal and revisionist apologists for the status-quo-at-any-price elevated the Soviet leaders' championing of the theory of peaceful coexistence to a permanent and immutable feature of Soviet foreign policy, if not to an eternal category.
The Czechoslovak experience has exploded this reactionary panacea. In their rage, the ideological servants of the bourgeoisie are trying to make up for their bankrupt theory by spewing all their venom against the Soviet Union and conjuring up an image of the Soviet Republic as a new imperialist monster that has now adopted the same designs as the old Czarist empire.
In reality all that has happened is that the Czechoslovak experience has brought to the surface the underlying social and class antagonisms that separate the imperialist from the socialist countries. This has been covered up for too long a time by an overgrowth and predominance of bourgeois ideology, supported by the leaders of the Soviet Union as well as imperialist ideologists.
Can predatory monopolists engage in
'peaceful economic competition?'
One of the basic assumptions in the theory of peaceful co-existence which lies at the core of this ideology is the idea that peaceful economic competition between the two social systems would undermine, and maybe eventually eliminate, the imperialist drive towards war.
"Let us compete in trade, in commerce. Let us engage in a race to build useful things for peaceful purposes. Let us not engage in a race for armaments!" This was a constant theme of Nikita Khrushchev. His friendship with Cyrus Eaton symbolized this. But this theory is in violent contradiction to the real-life processes which dominate imperialist economics.
In the first place, there is no such thing as trade and commerce under imperialism which is divorced from its predatory politics. Its trade and commerce are completely interwoven and subordinate to the broad political objectives of imperialist finance capital. The use of terror, coercion, blackmail, duress, and even outright assassination to gain a purely economic (and even a narrow economic) end is part of the daily practice and routine of imperialist monopolies.
Also it must not be forgotten that, even at this very late date in its development, monopoly capitalism still controls the major share of the world's resources and technology and exercises political hegemony (the right to exploit and super-exploit the majority of mankind) even at a time when the majority of mankind is in more open rebellion than it has ever been before in its history.
This is a weighty factor if one wants to consider so-called peaceful competition realistically.
According to proponents of the theory of the peaceful competition between the two social systems, the socialist system would win out because it is a superior economic system. Indeed, it is! But the imperialist methods of conducting economic competition with the socialist countries have meant not only blockading and isolating them, but also strangling them economically and boycotting them where possible. At all times the peaceful competition phase of imperialism has been a preparatory period of the military phase of imperialist politics.
The U.S. subjection of Western Europe
and the lesson of Czechoslovakia
It is instructive to relate the experience of European imperialist powers with their benefactors and masters, the U.S. economic colossus. This experience illustrates the utter inability of the European monopolists to withstand the daily economic penetrations -- a more fitting phrase would be the daily economic assault -- against the European continent by the U.S. monopolists. In his well-documented book, The American Challenge, J.J. Servan-Schreiber shows how the continent is gradually becoming an economic vassal of the U.S. In the opinion of some it has long been one.
A new book, The American Takeover of Britain, by James McMillan and Bernard Harris confirms the same trend. At this moment Servan-Schreiber and many other European economic analysts, scholars and specialists of all sorts are meeting in Princeton, New Jersey, to discuss, among other things, the American economic relations to Europe. In reality Servan-Schreiber and the other liberal well-wishers for a U.S.-European "good partnership" are in Princeton to plead with the U.S. bankers and financiers to slow the U.S. economic take-over of Europe. Their pleading will fall on deaf ears. It is in the nature of the beast to take what he can, and he is only stopped by force.
The "let us compete peacefully" theory as it applied to Czechoslovakia meant in the final analysis opening the gates wide to the imperialist beast and his junior partners. That is the other lesson of the Czechoslovak experience.
Czech banker has a friend
at Chase Manhattan
December 23, 1968 -- What have a former director of the Czechoslovak State Bank and a former chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank got in common?
Plenty, it seems. Both were in attendance at a seminar at Princeton last week and their views turned out to be remarkably similar. Dr. Eugene Loebl, who left Prague for the U.S. after Warsaw Pact troops halted the counter-revolution in Czechoslovakia, found little on which to disagree with his old friend, John J. McCloy.
Loebl, who had been given life imprisonment in the early fifties under the Gottwald regime, was one of those who were "rehabilitated" in recent years. He was so well rehabilitated, in fact, that he became director of the state bank and instrumental in many of the economic "reforms" by which the restorationist elements hoped to hand Czechoslovakia back to capitalist domination.
This man, who until a few months ago had immense control over the wealth created by Czech workers and farmers, makes no bones about his sympathies for U.S. imperialism or his disdain for the proletariat. "The proletariat is becoming the regressive force," he told a reporter for the Newark Evening News on Dec. 4. "Wealth is not created by the exploitation of men but by the exploitation of nature."
The Newark News went on to say: "Eugene Loebl ... asserted the U.S. is closer to the 'ideals' of socialism."
One representative of Wall Street-style socialism, Chase Manhattan's John J McCloy, sat at a nearby table nodding thoughtfully. McCloy tries to keep out of the news, but the reader may remember that he was one of the three top advisers Johnson consulted before resuming the bombing of North Vietnam in the winter of 1965-66. Loebl should find no fault with that since the "socialist" U.S. was only bombing the "regressive" workers of the DRV.
Loebl's associations with McCloy go back to the days before he was imprisoned when he was lobbying to have Czechoslovakia join the Marshall Plan. The U.S. banker met Loebl in Washington where they drew up plans to bring Czechoslovakia into the multi-billion dollar program that has today turned even the proudest imperialists of Western Europe into satellites of the U.S.
John J. McCloy, as High Commissioner of Germany, was an architect of the Marshall Plan and had as his specific assignment pulling Eastern Europe, and especially Czechoslovakia, into the U.S. orbit. The post-war plans of McCloy and his partners failed, at least for the time being, but Dr. Loebl's "rehabilitation" and the subsequent rise to power of this blatant believer in capitalism show how far the schemes of the U.S. big business had progressed before August 21, 1968.
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