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Every people, every society, needs a culture of resistance, a culture of being difficult and disobedient, that is the only way they will ever be able to stand up to the inevitable abuse of power by whoever runs the state apparatus, the capitalists, the communists, the socialists, the Gandhians, whoever.
If you look at the history of the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller, in Latin America, in Indonesia, where almost a million people, mainly Communists, were killed by General Suharto, who was backed by the CIA, in South Africa, in the US Civil Rights Movement – or even now, it’s very disturbing. They have always worked closely with the US State Department.
Judging by their positions at the time, rather than their post hoc allegations, Democrats adored the Soviet Union. Congressional Democrats repeatedly opposed funding anti-Communist rebels, they opposed Reagan’s military build-up, they opposed building a shield to protect America from incoming missiles, they opposed putting missiles in Europe. As a rule, Democrats opposed anything opposed by their cherished Soviet Union.
Every time I say the word capitalism, everyone just assumes I have plenty of Marxism in me, I do. But Russia and China had their bloody revolutions and even while they were Communist, they had the same idea about generating wealth – tear it out of the bowels of the earth. And now they have come out with the same idea in the end… you know, capitalism. But capitalism will fail, too.
I was in the most restricted prison in China, the most tough. The design of the prison is modeled for internal crimes of the Communist party, so it’s like a mafia family’s law. It’s independent to the law this nation openly applies. It’s the place they take you before they give you over to the judicial system. You stay there for a year or two and they make you really suffer to confess everything.
If you surrender everything to the government and give it total power to plan the whole economy, this will not guarantee your economic security, but it will guarantee the descent of the entire nation to a level of miserable poverty–as the practical results of every totalitarian economy, communist or fascist, have demonstrated.
Cockburn’s personal history links him to the politics of the Communist Party, and there are still moments in his writing – debating the number of people estimated to have perished in Stalin’s gulags, claiming that ‘the Brezhnev years were a Golden Age for the Soviet working class’, when aspects of his father’s convictions can be glimpsed.
It is a matter of record that in the German Election of 1933, the Communist Party was ordered by its leaders to vote for the Nazis – with the explanation that they could later fight the Nazis for power, but first they had to help destroy their common enemy : capitalism and its parliamentary form of government.
Our tragedy today is not just that millions of people who called themselves communist or socialist were physically liquidated in Vietnam, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, not just that China and Russia, after all that revolution, have become capitalist economies, not just that the working class has been ruined in the United States and its unions dismantled, not just that Greece has been brought to its knees, or that Cuba will soon be assimilated into the free market – it is also that the language of the Left, the discourse of the Left, has been marginalised and is sought to be eradicated.
I never felt like a Chinese citizen because I was pushed away at a very young age. My father, a writer, was a national enemy of the Communist Party. He was forbidden to write for 20 years. We literally lived underground. We dug a hole and lived there for years. My father cleaned public toilets, even though he was a highly respected poet. Nationality and borders are barriers to our intelligence, to our imagination and to all kinds of possibilities.
I think I’m just a traveler. When you walk across a river and there’s no bridge, you build one. I’m used to having to deal with Chinese Communist ideology – it’s not really an ideology, but a method of control. But China’s problems are not just China’s problems – they’re human problems. Humanity has always worked better when you see it as one.
It’s so easy to demagogue the issue and make someone who speaks out against the internal-combustion engine sound like an insane communist, when the truth is that the internal-combustion engine is the biggest threat to my life in the next 25 years, in terms of what it’s doing to our environment and how it’s depleting the ozone layer and so forth.
In a country where misery and want were the foundation of the social structure, famine was periodic, death from starvation common, disease pervasive, thievery normal, and graft and corruption taken for granted, the elimination of these conditions in Communist China is so striking that negative aspects of the new rule fade in relative importance.