A View from the Trough


  • Richard Levins




History, Political Economy


We are now living in the trough between two great waves of revolutionary struggle. The first wave began in 1848 and ended in defeat with the fall of Moscow. The second wave is still incubating. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the East European bloc was a tragic defeat for all of us, not because these regimes were models of the society we want but because they and the political movements influenced by them were the focus of the first world-wide challenge to capitalist power, capitalist exploitation, capitalist morality, and culture. Only in the context of that challenge did corporations agree to bargain with labor, the U.N. recognized the human rights to employment, food, education and culture, self determination, women's equality, the illegitmacy of racism, and the rights of nations to autonomous development. After that collapse the New World Order rushes to deny those rights in theory as it always had in practice. It is no longer necessary to pretend respect for workers, and we see a new age of meanness in policy and in ideology. Lenin's anti-imperialist stance gave voice and form to the colonial liberation struggles that came almost to completion only after the second world war. Almost, because Puerto Rico remains a colony, a residue of the old colonialism even as the new cycle of colonialism begins.

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