China: the Struggle Within: People's China and the UN
People's China and the UN
November 3, 1971By NAOMI COHEN
The 20-year-old China debate in the United Nations came to a sudden end on October 25 with a resounding victory for the People's Republic of China. When the votes were tallied, an unprecedented demonstration of joy by the sponsors and supporters of the Albanian resolution broke out. Every progressive-minded person, and needless to say, every revolutionary, must have watched that scene with the same sense of victory. It marked the end of 20 years of efforts by U.S. imperialism to isolate and destroy the revolution in China.
The celebration of China's victory was also clearly an anti-imperialist demonstration -- as Washington immediately recognized. An angry protest from President Nixon was quick to characterize the outburst as offensive and undignified, a "shocking demonstration" of "undisguised glee" and "personal animosity" toward American policy.
The vote of the General Assembly was a major setback for U.S. imperialism and a striking reflection of the decline of U.S. monopoly capital internationally. Not only had the socialist and newly independent, anti-imperialist countries voted against the U.S. phony "two Chinas" resolution, but Washington's most powerful allies (with the single exception of Japan) deserted the U.S. cause like rats from a sinking ship. Britain, Belgium, Canada, France, Israel, Italy, Portugal, and Turkey, to name only a few, voted to seat People's China and throw the Chiang clique out. The bankrupt U.S. policy unceremoniously collapsed.
END OF AN IMPERIALlST ERA
This setback for the bankers on Wall Street and their faithful representatives in Washington confirms what Sam Marcy wrote in this newspaper in the July 13, 1971, issue. Analyzing the significance of the publication of the Pentagon Papers, the chairman of Workers World Party concluded, "It is the end of an epoch for the U.S. ruling class. That phase of American history which began with the termination of the Second World War and saw aggressive American finance capital reach the pinnacle of its power on the world arena has forever vanished "... All of this flows from the catastrophic defeat handed to U.S. imperialism by the Vietnamese people, and by the ever deeper and wider opposition to the war here at home."
In the same article (written before the imposition of the 10 percent surcharge), Marcy predicted the emergence of sharper and sharper conflicts between imperialist rivals, ending in unbridled trade wars. The Nixon Administration, he wrote, "is seeking to unload the economic burden of the mad adventure in Vietnam, not only on the backs of the American working class and poor people generally, but also on its 'free world' allies."
Herein lies the fundamental significance of the rebuff handed the U.S. by her imperialist "allies" at the UN. Their angry anti-U.S. vote reflected a growing attempt, particularly in Europe, to resist U.S. threats to force them to devalue their money and a protest against protectionist trade policies (such as the 10 percent surcharge levied by Nixon last August). Only the most direct dependents of Wall Street's "generosity" wound up on the U.S. side. Even U.S.-sponsored puppet governments like those in Greece, Thailand, Indonesia, Jordan, and Argentina thought it the better part of wisdom to straddle the fence -- and abstained.
Washington's new aggressive economic policy, coupled with Nixon's stunning announcement of plans to visit China, have sent the imperialist allies scrambling to protect their own economies and make their own accommodations with Peking.
HISTORICAL ROLE OF THE UN
During the past decades when the U.S. ruling class was so desperately trying to keep China out of the UN, it was the duty of all who defended her to demand China's right to be represented there. Now that battle has been won, whether China's admission will change the character or historical role of the United Nations cannot be predicted. Certainly the UN can be used as a forum for revolutionary ideas -- as Fidel Castro did so effectively when Cuba entered in 1960 -- but one need only examine the UN's history to see its infamous role in deeds, as an instrument of U.S. imperialism and an agent for counterrevolution.
The list of UN crimes against liberation struggles around the world is long -- notwithstanding the presence of many socialist and anti-imperialist countries. Heading the list are the U.S.-inspired and UN sanctioned war against the Korean people, the invasion of the Congo (with the ensuing murder of Patrice Lumumba), and the partition of Palestine, which resulted in the expulsion of over one million people from their homeland.
Equally damning is the UN's failure to even consider U.S. aggression and genocide in Vietnam after ten years of war. The UN has also turned its back on the slaughter of Palestinian guerrillas in Jordan, the U.S. invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1965, the ClA-backed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961, and the U.S.-financed slaughter of about 500,000 Indonesians in the 1965 right wing coup.
As recently as this September, the UN ratified the fascist dictatorship in Indonesia, and its foul massacre, by electing Foreign Minister Malik to the post of President of the UN General Assembly with a nearly unanimous vote.
The attitude of revolutionaries toward such an organization is best exemplified by Lenin's characterization of the League of Nations (the UN's predecessor) as a den of thieves, an instrument of imperialist bandits whose sole purpose was to crush the revolutionary struggles of the world's peoples and to prepare for future imperialist wars. The infamous record of the UN has shown that it is no different from the League.
WW CALLED FOR AN ANTI-IMPERIALIST UN
In September of 1960, during the Congo crisis when world attention was riveted on the debate at the United Nations, this newspaper stated that the main task for revolutionaries was to draw a clear dividing line between the imperialist and anti-imperialist forces in the UN. An article in the September 16, 1960 issue of Workers World, headlined "In Place of the UN," proposed a resolution to be submitted to the UN that demanded, among other things, an end to colonialism and U.S. aggression against Cuba, denounced the invasion of the Congo, and called for China's seating in the UN.
"If such a resolution is framed'" we wrote at that time, "it will clearly isolate the imperialist powers. And if the imperialist powers defeat or sabotage such a resolution, then it would be proper to organize into a bloc all those who voted for the resolution and so to constitute a new organization -- an anti-imperialist United Nations. Such a body would be the decisive section of humanity and have the sympathy and support of most of the world."
It is still true that the socialist and anti-imperialist countries need a federation of their own, to speak in the name of the workers and oppressed and defend their interests against imperialism. Despite the fact that the U.S. ruling class is suffering a decline both internationally and at home, the workers and oppressed are at a disadvantage because they have no international organization of their own. Imperialism can suffer many blows, even defeats, and still retrench, consolidate, and reorganize on a new basis if it is not opposed by a strong, worldwide working class organization.
It is an irony of history that today the capitalist class has a world organization and the workers do not. The whole idea of internationalism originated with communists, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in particular. In 1864 they founded the First International to unite the struggles of working people of all countries. In 1919, after the collapse of the Second International, Lenin and the Bolsheviks founded the Third or Communist International, again to fight for proletarian revolution and national liberation on a world scale.
PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE OR WORLD REVOLUTION?
Certainly the seating of People's China is a world historic event and a victory for all the workers and oppressed. But it only sows illusions to say, as does the organ of the revisionist CPUSA, the Daily World, that the vote had "delivered the world organization from more than two decades of infamy imposed upon it by the counter-revolutionary policies of U.S. imperialism." (This rings particularly hollow since the Daily World has falsely characterized People's China in the past as a military dictatorship.) To say this is to create the impression that the UN is really a people's organization somehow gone astray.
So glowingly does the Daily World editorial speak of the UN that it predicts the vote "will turn the world organization from its path of declining authority and prestige as an arm of the U.S. State Department and head it in the direction for which it was founded -- the direction of establishing and maintaining peace and of promoting the security and social progress of mankind."
Did U.S. and British imperialism, with the unfortunate acquiescence of the USSR, engineer the UN after World War 11 to establish "peace and security"? The whole violent history of the UN has demonstrated that this idea is just another example of the dangerously false concept of peaceful coexistence promoted by the Soviet leadership and adopted by the reformist CPs around the world. The world's oppressed and working people are not interested in "peace and security" under imperialist rule. Rather, they need a revolutionary reconstitution in the entire capitalist world.
Hailing the UN as if it were suddenly a united front against imperialism can only foster illusions of peace on the basis of class collaboration at a time when the workers and oppressed need to sharpen the class struggle to win their liberation.
The UN, like its predecessor the League of Nations, is still composed of mainly bourgeois and imperialist nations despite the presence of the People's Republic of China, the USSR, and other socialist countries. The purpose of the bourgeoisie and imperialists generally is to utilize the UN in order to divert and sabotage, wherever possible, the liberation struggles of the oppressed peoples and the class struggles of the workers of the world. The UN's slogan of "peace, security, and peaceful coexistence" on the basis of the status quo is a medium for stifling the socialist revolution everywhere.
The workers and oppressed need proletarian internationalism above all. This is what must not be forgotten.
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