Against the Current, No. 59, November/December 1995

The Editors

EARLIER THIS YEAR the editors of Against the Current solicited comments from a spectrum of writers and activists on the left on problems raised for anti-imperialist struggle in a post-Cold War world. We posed a few questions to assist the discussion, while making it clear that contributors were free to ignore them or pose other questions to address.

In our letter, we wrote:

“The theories of imperialism which were the starting point for generations of revolutionaries…were meant to describe an epoch as a whole. The corollary guides to action which flowed from the classical analyses of imperialism were, generally speaking, to
foster an international alliance of the oppressed and exploited, and to resist the consortiums and military actions of the world’s ruling powers, which were thought to represent interests irreconcilably opposed to the working class and its allies.

“Today these axioms are subject to frequent doubt and revision on the left, whether conscious or not. Many socialists and radicals in the advanced capitalist nations have interpreted the situations in Somalia, Bosnia and Haiti as conflicts quite different from the (classic wars of imperial rule and colonial domination). Such interventions have not inspired the type of mass opposition that confronted the Vietnam War and interventions in Central America during the 1980s.

“a. Is there such a thing as a `humanitarian intervention’ carried out by U.S. forces? Does the left’s toleration and occasional advocacy of intervention in Somalia, Bosnia and Haiti indicate an astute recognition of new realities or a serious error?

“b. What is the significance of the rise to world dominance of transnational financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank?

“c. Can the left maintain its long-held, principled opposition to imperialism without appearing irrelevant and sectarian? What specific actions or strategies do you recommend that the left pursue?”

We requested brief responses, in the range of around 1000 words, although we realized that this would not permit extensive developments of the argument. We present here the first group of responses we’ve received; the symposium will continue over the next several issues.

November/December 1995