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Two further concepts triangulate and fix the imported political culture of these new nations. The first is the belief- often, of course, justified-that they have been subject to economic exploitation, exactly as the working class is said in socialist theory to have been exploited under capitalism. The second is the belief-also, of course, often justified that they have been subject to ethnic discrimination corresponding to class distinctions in industrial society. As with the belief in the right to independence, these concepts, which now seem wholly natural, rarely occur in nature. They are learned ideas, and they were learned by the new nations mostly where they mostly originated, in the intellectual and political circles of Britain of the late 19th and early 20th century. Gandhi greatly elucidated the moral dimensions of exploitation and discrimination, but he did so in the context of a worldwide political movement that was more than receptive to his ideas, a political movement of which he was a part. At root, the ideas of exploitation and discrimination represent a transfer to colonial populations of the fundamental socialist assertions with respect to the condition of the European working class, just as the idea of independence parallels the demand that the working class break out of bondage and rise to power.
Now it is possible to imagine a country, or collection of countries, with a background similar to that of the British colonies, attaining independence and then letting bygones be bygones. The Americans did that: our political culture did not suggest any alternative. International life was thought to operate in Wordsworth's terms:
The good old rule
So in their own terms might Marxists judge the aftermath of Marxist triumph : history was working its ineluctable way: there would be no point, no logic, in holding the past to account. Not so the heirs of the British revolution. British socialism is, was, and remains a highly moral creed. It is not a politics of revenge; it is too civil for that. But reparations? Yes : reparations. This idea was fundamental to the social hope of a movement which, it must ever be recalled, rested on the assumption that there existed vast stores of unethically accumulated wealth. On the edges of the movement there were those who saw the future not just in terms of redistribution, but of something ominously close to looting. In any event, the past was by no means to be judged over and done with. There were scores to be settled. Internally and internationally.
A final distinctive character of the British revolution concerns procedure. Wrongs are to be righted by legislation. The movement was fundamentally parliamentarian. The Labour party came to power through the ballot, and proceeded to change society by statute. This was dramatically so with respect to the empire. For the first time in the history of mankind a vast empire dismantled itself, piece by piece, of its own systematic accord. A third of the nations of the world today owe their existence to a statute of Westminister. What more profound experience could there be of the potency of parliamentary majorities in distant places, and of their enactments?
Plainly, not all the new nations of the postwar world were formerly British. There were French colonies, Belgian Dutch, Portuguese. Political traditions in each case were different the British. But only slightly different: viewed from Mars, London, Paris, and The Hague are not widely separated or disparate places. By the time of the granting of independence, all were democratic with a socialist intelligentsia and often as not a socialist government. With the exception of Algeria—which is marked by the exception—the former French and Dutch colonies came into being in very much the manner the British had laid down. For a prolonged initial period the former British possessions had pride of place in the ex-colonial world—they speak English at the UN, not American—and pretty much set the style of politics which has become steadily more conspicuous in international affairs.
Not everyone has noticed this. Indeed, there is scarcely yet a vocabulary in which to describe it. In part, this is because the event is recent; but also because it was incomplete. As with the liberal revolution which came out of America, and the Communist revolution which came out of Russia, this socialist revolution coming mainly out of Britain carried only so much of the world in its initial period of expansion. The liberal revolution of America was not exactly a spent force by the mid-20th century, but (pace the Mekong Delta Development Plan) there was never any great prospect of its expanding to new territories. On the other hand, the heirs
of the Russian revolution did capture China, the greatest of all prizes, in 1948, and at least part of Indochina a bit later. But in the main the Communist revolution stopped right there, and the two older revolutions now hold sway within fairly well-defined boundaries. Since 1950 it has been not they but the heirs of the British revolution who have been expanding.
Almost the first international political act of the new states was to form the nonaligned bloc, distinguishing themselves-partially from the two blocs into which the immediate postwar world had formed. From politics the emphasis shifted to economic affairs. In 1968 these countries, meeting at Algiers, formed the Group of 77 as a formal economic bloc. Their Joint Statement described the group as “comprising the vast majority of the human race”—and indeed it did. The B's in the list of members gave a sense of the range of nations and peoples involved : Bahrain, Barbados, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burma, Burundi. And yet there was now somewhat hidden-unity to the list. Of these eight countries, five were formerly British-governed or British-directed. At its second Ministerial Meeting in Lima in 1971, the group (now numbering 96) drew up an Action Program which stated, inter alia, that developing countries should encourage and promote appropriate commodity action and, particularly, the protection of the interests of primary producers of the region through intensive consultations among producer countries in order to encourage appropriate policies, leading to the establishment of producers' associations and understandings. ...
This was represented in the press as a major gain for the black African states who carried the point over objections from Latin Americans accustomed to working out raw-material and commodity arrangements with the United States. But the idea was fundamentally a heritage of the British revolution, and if the black Africans took the lead in proclaiming it, there is no reason to think it was any less familiar to Arabs. They had all gone to the same school. Was it not right for those who have only their labor to sell, or only the products of their soil, to organize to confront capital? Had they not been exploited ?
How has the United States dealt with these new nations and their distinctive ideology? Clearly we have not dealt very successfully. This past year, in the 29th General Assembly, we were frequently reduced to a voting bloc which, with variations, consisted of ourselves, Chile, and the Dominican Republic. As this “historic session" closed, the Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations declared : "The activities of the Soviet delegation at the session showed once again that the Soviet Union deeply understands and shares the aspirations of the Third World." This was not Krishna Menon, but a balanced and considerate Asian diplomat. If no equivalent pronouncement on China comes immediately to hand, this may be because the Chinese feel free to identify themselves as members of the Third World. As such, at the end of 1974 they declared that the new majority had written a "brilliant chapter" during the twelve months previous, that it was "sweeping ahead full sail as the boat of imperialism (the United States) and hegemonism [the Soviet Union] founders.” “These days,' the Chinese statement continued, “the United Nations often takes on the appearance of an international court with the Third World pressing the charges and conducting the trial.” A statement to which many could subscribe. But no such statement could come from an American statesman, no such praise would be accorded American policy. Clearly at some level-we all but started the United Nations—there has been a massive failure of American diplomacy.
But why? Why has the United States dealt so unsuccessfully with these nations and their distinct ideology? A first thought is that we have not seen the ideology as distinctive. Not recognizing it, we have made no substantial effort to relate ourselves to it. The totalitarian states, from their point of view, did. They recognize ideologies. By 1971 it was clear enough that the Third Worlda few exceptions here and there was not going Communist. But it was nevertheless possible to encourage it in directions that veered very considerably from any tendency the bloc might have to establish fruitful relations with the West; and this was done. It was done, moreover, with the blind acquiescence and even agreement of the United States which kept endorsing principles for whose logical outcome it was wholly unprepared and with which it could never actually go along.
A relatively small but revealing example of this process may be seen in the development of the World Social Report, a document of the Economic and Social
Council. The first volume, covering the year 1963, was directed almost exclusively to problems of the developing countries, and the United States took its advent as a promising event. The 1965 report, concentrating on “practical methods of promoting social change," might have caused some to take note, but American officials were entirely unwary: this was, after all, a report designed to help the developing world. In actual fact, it was becoming a document based on the veritably totalitarian idea that social justice means social stability and that social stability means the absence of social protest. Thus by 1970, the Soviet Union—not much social protest there !-emerges as the very embodiment of the just state, while the United States is a nation in near turmoil from the injustices it wreaks upon the poor and the protests these injustices have provoked. And Western Europe hardly comes off any better.
What happened here was that a "Finlandized" Secretariat (the official in charge of preparing the document was indeed a Finn) found that the developing countries and the Communist countries had an easy common interest in portraying their own progress, justifying the effective suppression of dissent, and in the process deprecating and indicting the seeming progress of Western societies. It is easy enough to see that this would be in the interest of the Soviet bloc. (The Chinese did not participate in the debate.) But why the developing world? First, the developing nations could ally with the totalitarians in depicting social reality in this way, in part because so many, having edged toward authoritarian regimes, faced the same problems the Communists would have encountered with a liberal analysis of civil liberties. Secondly, the developing nations had an interest in deprecating the economic achievements of capitalism, since almost none of their own managed economies was doing well. To deplore, to deride, the social effects of affluence in the United States is scarcely a recent invention. For a generation the British Left has held the patent. Further, there is an almost automatic interest on the Left in delegitimating wealth-prior to redistributing it-much as the opposite interest exists on the Right.
Small wonder that officials could describe the Social Report as the most popular document in the UN series, a statement intended as more than faint praise. Yet it has been more representative than otherwise. There are hundreds like it, suffused with a neo-totalitarian, anti-American bias.
American protests at the 26th General Assembly have evidently influenced the most recent Social Report, submitted to the 29th, but here the significant fact is that this protest-entered at the very last moment, when the document was being presented for pro-forma approval—was the first of its kind, or one of the first. In fact the United States until then did not protest. To the contrary, the United States actively participated in preparing this sustained assault on American institutions. The 1970 Social Report had been three years in the making. During those three years it made its way through layers of bureaucracies, all manner of meetings. Americans were always present, and Americans always approved.
This was, after all, a Third World document; it was to be treated with tolerance and understanding. Complacency of this order could only arise from the failure to perceive that a distinctive ideology was at work, and that skill and intelligence were required to deal with it successfully.
The blindness of American diplomacy to the process persists. Two large events occurred in 1971, and a series of smaller ones were set in motion. China entered the United Nations, an event the Third Word representatives saw as a decisive shift of power to their camp. In that same year the Lima conference established the nonaligned as an economic bloc intent on producer cartels. Less noticed, but perhaps no less important in its implications, a distinctive radicalization began in what might as well be termed world social policy.
This radicalization was first clearly evidenced at the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, held at Stockholm in 1972, or more precisely at the 26th General Assembly, which was finally to authorize the conference. The conference was in considerable measure an American initiative, and while American negotiators were primarily concerned with ways to get the Russians to join (which in the end they did not), the Brazilians suddenly stormed onto the scene to denounce the whole enterprise as a conspiracy of the haves to keep the have-nots down and out. The argument was that the rich had got rich by polluting their environments and now proposed to stay that way by preventing anyone else from polluting theirs. This, among other things, would insure that the rich would continue their monopoly on the use of the raw materials of the poor. Thus was it asserted that matters originally put forward as soluble in the context of existing economic and political relations were nothing of the sort. To the contrary,
they were symptomatic of economic and political exploitation and injustice which could only be resolved by the most profound transformation: to expropriate the expropriators.
At Stockholm itself, this quickly became the dominant theme-espoused by a dominant majority. “Are not poverty and need the greatest pollutors?” Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India asked. “There are grave misgivings," she continued, “that the discussion of ecology may be designed to distract attention from the problems of war and poverty.” She was wrong in this. They were not so designed. But at Stockholm the nations who feared they might be took control of the agenda. The conference declared as its first principle:
Man has the fundamental right to freedom, equality, and adequate conditions of life, in an environment of a quality which permits a life of dignity and well being, and bears a solemn responsibility to protect and improve the environment for present and future generations. In this respect, policies promoting or perpetuating apartheid, racial segregation, discrimination, colonial and other forms of oppression and foreign domination stand condemned and must be eliminated.
The American delegates routinely voted for this resolution. It was, after all, language the new countries wanted. What wholly unwelcome meanings might be attached to "other forms of oppression and foreign domination" which stood "condemned" and had to be "eliminated" was a thought scarcely in keeping with the spirit of the occasion.
The Stockholm Conference had been turbulent. The United Nations World Population Conference, held nearly two years later, in August 1974, had an air of insurrection. This conference too was largely an American initiative, the culmination of years of State Department effort to put population on the agenda of world social policy. The Secretary General of the United Nations proclaimed the gathering would be “a turning point in the history of mankind.” The centerpiece was a Draft World Population Plan of Action, which in essence set 1985 as the year crude birth rates in developing countries would be reduced to 30 per thousand (as against an anticipated 34) and when “the necessary information and education about family planning and means to practice family planning." would be available "to all persons who so desire. ..." There can be no doubt of the social change implicit in such a conference's even meeting: in most industrialized countries, family planning has only just achieved the status of an accepted. social value deserving of public support. Yet neither should there be any doubt that a disaster overtook the American position in the course of the conference, and that this disaster was wholly predictable.
To begin with, the conference was thought up by Americans to deal with a problem we consider that other people have. (In fairness, not long ago the United States itself was thought to have a problem of population size, while the provision of family-planning services is an issue of social equity as well as of population growth.) Specifically, it was considered a problem of the developing countries : countries, that is, of the British revolution who are animated by the liveliest sense that their troubles originate in capitalist and imperialist systems of which the United States all but offered itself as an exemplar. Further, the conference met in Bucharest, capital of a Communist country. At one level no great imagination would have been required to anticipate the outcome. President Nicolae Ceausescu opened the conference by declaring that “The division of the world into developed and underdeveloped countries is a result of historical evalution, and is a direct consequence of the imperialist, colonialist, and neocolonialist policies of exploitation of many peoples." He called for "a new international economic order” and condemned "a pessimistic outlook” on population growth.
But if this was to be expected, few could have anticipated the wild energy of the Chinese assault on the Western position. China has the strictest of all population-control programs. Yet the Chinese arrived in Rumania to assail with unprecendented fury and devastating zeal the very idea of population control as fundamentally subversive of the future of the Third World. The future, the Chinese proclaimed, is infinitely bright. Only the imperialists and the hegemonists could spoil it, and population control was to be their wrecking device. A theory of "consumerism” emerged: it was excessive consumption in the developed economies which was the true source of the problems of the underdeveloped nations and not the size of the latter's population. None dared oppose the thesis. The Indians, who are thought to have a population problem, went to the conference rather disposed to endorse a Plan of Action. But they did nothing of the sort. Instead, the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, who headed the Indian delegation, found himself denouncing "colonial denudation" of the East, and the "vulgar affluence” of the West. The scene grew orgiastic.
In the end, a doctrine emerged which is almost certainly more true than otherwise, namely that social and economic change is the fundamental determinant of fertility change, compared with which family planning as such has at most a residual role. There need be no difficulty with this assertion. The difficulty comes with the conclusion said to follow : that economic growth in the West should cease and the wealth of the world be redistributed. We are back to Keir Hardie, expropriating the expropriators. Not to produce wealth, but to redistribute it. As with the environment conference, the population conference turned into another occasion for reminding the West of its alleged crimes and unresolved obligations.
This tone attained to manic proportions in Population Tribune, an unofficial, American-financed parallel conference of a form that first appeared in Stockholm. Ritual recantation became the order of the day as one notable after another confessed to a class-bound past which had blinded him to the infinitely bright future. Most of the recanters were American, but it was Professor Rene Dumont of France who epitomized the argument in a statement, "Population and Cannibals,” which was subsequently given the full front page of Development Forum, an official, five-language, UN publication. Professor Dumontblaming the "Plunderers of the Third World" for world conditions-“They .. ‘under-pay for the rare raw materials of the Third World and then squander them"-put the case with some vivacity:
Eating little children. I have already had occasion to show that the rich white man, with his overconsumption of meat and his lack of generosity toward poor populations, acts like a true cannibal, albeit indirect. Last year, in over-consuming meat which wasted the cereals which could have saved them, we ate the little children of the Sahel, of Ethiopia, and of Bangladesh. And this year, we are continuing to do the same thing, with the same appetite.
Dr. Han Suyin, a sympathetic commentator on Chinese Communist affairs, summed up for others :
You cannot cut off any talk about population, about people, from economics and politics. You cannot put in a vacuum any talk about population and world resources without relation to the present as it exists. I admire people who can talk about a noble future where there will be an equal society and where resources will be controlled by all. But, forgive me for saying so, if this is to be done, then we have to begin by sharing now everything and that would mean that a lot of people who have a lot of private property, for instance, should divest themselves immediately of it in favor of the poor. It means that at this very moment we should start to implement a very simple thing—something which we heard ... at the United Nations at the sixth special session of the United Nations where the voice of the Third World—the majority of the world—at last formulated their demand for more equitable terms of trade, and for an end to exploitation, for an end to the real cause of poverty and backwardness, which is not population, but which is injustice and exploitation. The Third World has a word for it, it calls it imperialism and hegemony.
And the American delegation? The official view, flashed to diplomatic posts around the world, was as uncomplicated at the end as it had been at the outset : "ALL BASIC U.S. OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED AND U.S. ACCOMPLISHMENTS WERE MANY. . . . U.S. DELEGATION UNANIMOUSLY PLEASED WITH FINAL RESULT."
The World Food Conference which followed in Rome in November was even more explicitly an American initiative. Yet as the American delegation somewhat sadly noted, the plenary forum was used to the fullest by LDC's (Less Developed Countries) to excoriate the United States and other developed nations as responsible for the current food crisis and the generally depressed state of their part of the world, calling for “radical adjustment in the current economic order and, in effect, reparations from developed countries" to the less developed. Such negotiations as took place were somewhat more sober since something immediately of value-wheat—was at stake and obviously only the United States and a few such countries were prepared to part with any. Even so, by the time the conference was concluded, one of the great, and truly liberal, innovations of world social policy- the American-led assertion that the hungry of the world should be fed by transfers of resources—had been utterly deprecated. Thus the Indian Food Minister's statement with respect to the needs of the developing countries :
It is obvious that the developed nations can be held responsible for their (the developing nations) present plight. Developed nations, therefore, have a duty to help them. Whatever help is rendered to them now should not be re