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in many countries of the Third World of which almost everyone knows, but few have thought it politic to speak. The AFL-CIO does it. Freedom House does it. Amnesty International does it. American socialists do it. The time has come for the spokesmen of the United States to do it too.
It is time, that is, that the American spokesman came to be feared in international forums for the truths he might tell. Mexico, which has grown increasingly competitive in Third World affairs, which took the lead in the Declaration of the Economic Rights and Duties, preaches international equity. Yet is preaches domestic equity also. It could not without some cost expose itself to a repeated inquiry as to the extent of equity within its own borders. Nor would a good many other Third World countries welcome a sustained comparison between the liberties they provide their own peoples with those which are common and taken for granted in the United States.
For the United States to go into opposition in this manner not only requires a recognition of the ideology of the Third World, but a reversal of roles for American spokesmen as well. As if to compensate for its aggressiveness about what might be termed Security Council affairs, the United States has chosen at the UN to be extraordinarily passive, even compliant, about the endless goingson in the Commissions and Divisions and Centers and suchlike elusive enterprises associated with the Economic and Social Council. Men and women were assigned to these missions, but have rarely been given much support, or even much scrutiny. Rather, the scrutiny has been of just the wrong kind, ever alert to deviation from the formula platitudes of UN debate, and hopelessly insensitive to the history of political struggles of the 20th century.
In Washington, three decades of habit and incentive have created patterns of appeasement so profound as to seem wholly normal. Delegations to international conferences return from devastating defeats proclaiming victory. In truth, these have never been thought especially important. Taking seriously a Third World speech about, say, the right of commodity producers to market their products in concert and to raise their prices in the process, would have been the mark of the the quixotic or the failed. To consider the intellectual antecedents of such propositions would not have occurred to anyone, for they were not thought to have any.
And yet how interesting the results might be. The results, say, of observing the occasion of an Algerian's assuming the Presidency of the General Assembly with an informed tribute to the career of the liberator Ben Bella, still presumedly rotting in an Algerian prison cell. The results of a discourse on the disparities between the (1973) per-capita GNP in Abu Dhabi of $43,000 and that of its neighbor, the Democratic People's Republic of Yemen, with one-thousandth that. Again, this need not be a uniformly scornful exercise; anything but. The Third World has more than its share of attractive regimes, and some attractive indeedCosta Rica, Gambia, Malaysia, to name but three. Half the people in the world who live under a regime of civil liberties live in India. The point is to differentiate, and to turn their own standards against regimes for the moment too much preoccupied with causing difficulties for others, mainly the United States. If this has been in order for some time, the oil price increase-devastating to the development hopes of half-a-hundred Asian and African and Latin American countries—makes it urgent and opportune in a way it has never been.
Such a reversal of roles would be painful to American spokesmen, but it could be liberating also. It is past time we ceased to apologize for an imperfect democracy. Find its equal. It is time we grew out of our initial-not a little condescending—supersensitivity about the feelings of new nations. It is time we commenced to treat them as equals, a respect to which they are entitled.
The case is formidable that there is nothing the Third World needs lessespecially now that the United States has so much withdrawn—than to lapse into a kind of cargo cult designed to bring about our return through imprecation and threat rather than the usual invocations. The Third World has achieved independence, and it needs to assert it in a genuine manner. The condition of the developing countries is in significant measure an imported condition. In the main a distinctive body of European ideas has taken hold, not everywhere in the same measure. Sri Lanka will be more cerebrate in its socialism than will, say, Iraq, Brazil more given to actual economic expansion than Syria or Egypt, Algeria considerably less libertarian than Nigeria. Still, there is a recognizable pattern to the economic and political postures of these countries, of which the central reality is that their anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist ideologies are in fact themselves the last stage of colonialism. These are imported ideas every bit as much as the capitalist and imperialist ideas to which they are opposed. The sooner they
are succeeded by truly indigenous ideas, the better off all the former colonies will be, the United States included.
The Third World must feed itself, for example, and this will not be done by suggesting that Americans eat too much. It is one thing to stress what is consumed in the West, another to note what is produced there. In 1973, 17.8 per cent of the world's population produced 64.3 per cent of its product-and not just from taking advantage of cheap raw materials.
In the same way, the Third World has almost everywhere a constitutional heritage of individual liberty, and it needs to be as jealous of that heritage as of the heritage of national independence. It should be a source of renown that India, for one, has done that, and of infamy that so many others have not.
Not long ago, Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, speaking of the case of a Soviet dissident who had been detained in a mental hospital, asked whether world opinion would ever permit South Africa to detain a black African leader in this fashion. Answering his own question, he said, “The storm of worldwide rage would have long ago swept the roof from that prison !” His point is very like the one Stephen Spender came to in the course of the Spanish Civil War. Visiting Spain, he encountered atrocities of the Right, and atrocities of the Left. But only those of the Right were being written about, and it came to him, as he later put it, that if one did not care about every murdered child indiscriminately, one did not really care about children being murdered at all. Very well. But nothing we finally know about the countries of the Third World (only in part the object of the Solzhenitsyn charge) warrants the conclusion that they will be concerned only for wrongdoing that directly affects them. Ethnic solidarity is not the automatic enemy of civil liberties. It has been the foundation of many. If there are any who can blow off the roof of any such prison-then all credit to them. If you can be against the wrongful imprisonment of a person anywhere, then you can be against wrongful imprisonment everywhere.
It is in precisely such terms that we can seek common cause with the new nations: granted that they, no more than we, are likely ever wholly to live up to either of our protestations. Yet there exists the strongest possibility of an accommodating relationship at the level of principle-a possibility that does not exist at all with the totalitarian powers as they are now constituted. To contemplate an oppositional role to the Soviet bloc, or the Chinese, in, say, the General Assembly would be self-deceptive. One may negotiate there as between separate political communities, but to participate as in a single community-even in opposition-would simply not be possible. We can, however, have such a relation with most Third World nations. And we can do so while speaking for and in the name of political and civil liberty.
And equality, what of it? Here an act of historical faith is required : what is the record? The record was stated most succinctly by an Israeli socialist who told William F. Buckley, Jr. that those nations which have put liberty ahead of equality have ended up doing better by equality than those with the reverse priority. This is so, and being so, it is something to be shouted to the heavens in the years now upon us. This is our case. We are of the liberty party, and it might surprise us what energies might be released were we to unfurl those banners.
In the spring of 1973, in his first address as director-designate of the London School of Economics—where Harold Laski once molded the minds of so many future leaders of the “new majority”—Ralf Dahrendorf sounded this theme. The equality party, he said, has had its day. The liberty party's time has come once more. It is a time to be shared with the new nations, and those not so new, shaped from the old European empires, and especially the British—and is the United States not one such? whose heritage this is also. To have halted the great totalitarian advance only to be undone by the politics of resentment and the economies of envy would be a poor outcome to the promise of a world society. At the level of world affairs we have learned to deal with Communism. Our task is now to learn to deal with socialism. It will not be less difficult a task. It ought to be a profundly more pleasant one.
[Reader's Digest, June 1975)
(By Daniel P. Moynihan) “We are now witnessing the emergence of a world order dominated arithmetically by the countries of the Third World," writes Daniel P. Moynihan, former U.S. Ambassador to India and currently professor of government at
Harvard University. Increasingly, the United States stands "accused and abased” before these nations, charged with the crimes of economic imperialism, exploitation, pollution and waste, its policies often characterized as the real cause of poverty among underdeveloped states.
While often hostile, these nations are not communist; generally they are socialist. To date, their ideology has had limited force but, the author warns, it is not to be ignored. We must assume that, in the General Assembly of the United Nations and a dozen other such international forums, this new majority will set about to legislate “its presumed advantage in a world that has just come into its hands."
In this penetrating essay, Mr. Moynihan examines the unrecognized causes behind this transformation in world society. He argues that American spokesmen must abandon the compliance and appeasement that so frequently serve as our response to the indictments of the Third World. And he explains just how the United States can go on the offensive and seek common cause with new nations that today stand more in the shadow of totalitarian powers than in the light of our beliefs.
The notion of a world society is nothing new to Americans. Issues are commonly defined in international terms: the world environmental problem ; the world population problem ; the world food problem. But there is something new in international pronouncements. A vast majority of the nations of the world now feel that claims can be made on the wealth of individual nations. These claims are threatening-in any event threatening to countries such as the United States, which regularly finds itself in a minority (often a minority of one or two or at most a half-dozen) in the 138-member General Assembly.
The tyranny of this "new majority" has been deplored. Yet there have been but few calls for withdrawal from the United Nations. It is almost as if American opinion now acknowledged that there was no escaping involvement in the emergent world society. All the more reason, then, for seeking to understand what has been going on.
INVISIBLE REVOLUTION What happened in the early 1970s is that for the first time the world felt the impact of what I shall call the British revolution. That is the revolution which began in 1947 with the granting by socialist Britain of independence to socialist India. In slow, then rapid order, the great empires of the worldwith the major exception of the former Czarist empire-broke up into independent states; the original U.N. membership of 51 grew to 138.
These new nations naturally varied in terms of size, population and resources. But to a quite astonishing degree they were ideologically uniform, having fashioned their politics from British socialist opinion as it developed in the period roughly 1890–1950.
The men who created this body of doctrine thought they were making a social revolution in Britain. And they were. But the spread of their ideology to the furthest reaches of the globe, with its dominance in the highest national councils everywhere, gives to the British revolution the kind of worldwide significance which the American and French, and then the Russian, revolutions possessed in earlier times.
Yet this revolution has attracted little attention. Everyone certainly recognized that new states were coming into existence out of former European, and indeed mostly British, colonies.* But it was not generally perceived that they came to independence with a coherent, and surprisingly stable, ideological base which, while related to both the earlier revolutionary traditions, was distinct from both.
SCORES TO SETTLE Two general points may be made about the doctrine of British socialism. First, it contained a suspicion of, almost a bias against, economic development. The fundamental assertion was that there was plenty of wealth to go around if only it were fairly distributed. Redistribution, not production, remained central to the ethos of British socialism. Profit became synonymous with exploitation.
The second point about socialist doctrine as it developed in Britain was that it was anti-American. More anti-American, surely, than it was ever anti-Soviet.
*Of the 87 states to have joined the U.N. since its founding, more than half—47—had been part of the British empire.
The reasons for this are not obscure. The British were not overmuch admiring of Americans in that era, nor we of them. In part their attitude began as aristocratical disdain. But more importantly, America was seen as quintessentially capitalist.
In the first half of the 20th century, British civil servants took the doctrine of British socialism to the colonies, a domain which covered one quarter of the earth's surface. By 1950 not communists but Fabian socialists could claim the largest portion of the world's population lived in regimes of their fashioning. Before very long the arithmetical majority and the ideological coherence of those new nations brought them to dominance in the United Nations and, indeed, in any world forum characterized by universal membership.
British socialism was, and remains, a highly moral creed. It is not a politics of revenge; it is too civil for that. But reparations? Yes: reparations. The movement, in part, rested on the assumption that there existed vast stores of unethically accumulated wealth. There were scores to be settled.
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 1967 these countries, meeting at Algiers, formed the Group of 77 as a formal economic bloc. Their Joint Declaration had described the group as "comprising the vast majority of the human race”—and indeed it did.
ASSAULTING OURSELVES How has the United States dealt with these new nations? Clearly, not 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." Clearly at some levelwe 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 sustained 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.
A revealing example of this process may be seen in the development of the World Social Report, a document of the U.N.'s 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 became a document based on the totalitarian idea that social justice means social stability and that social stability means the absence of social protest.
Thus by 1970, the Soviet Unionnot much social protest there!-emerges as the very embodiment of the just state in the World Social Report, 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. Western Europe hardly comes off any better.
It is easy enough to see that this would be in the interest of the Soviet bloc. But why the developing world? First, the developing nations could ally with the totalitarians 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.
The United States actively participated in preparing this sustained assault on American institutions. The 1970 Report had been three years in the making, during which 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.
“EATING LITTLE CHILDREN" The blindness of American diplomacy to the process persists. Two large events occurred in 1971. China entered the United Nations, an event the Third World representatives saw as a decisive shift of power to their camp. Less noticed, but perhaps no less important, a distinctive radicalization began in world social policy.
This redicalization was first clearly evidenced at the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, held at Stockholm in 1972. The conference was in considerable measure an American initiative. 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 others from polluting theirs. Thus, the rich would continue their monopoly on the use of the raw materials of the poor.
While the Stockholm Conference was turbulent, the United Nations World Population Conference held in 1974 had an air of insurrection. It, too, was largely an American initiative. Yet a disaster overtook the American position.
To begin with, we thought up the conference to deal with a problem we consider other countries to have; countries, that is, of the British revolution who are animated by the liveliest sense that their troubles originate in capitalist and imperialist systems. The conference met in Bucharest, capital of a communist country, and President Nicolae Ceausescu declared in his speech that “The division of the world into developed and underdeveloped countries is a result of historical evolution, and is a direct consequence of the imperialist, colonialist and neocolonialist policies of exploitation.”
If this was to be expected, few could have anticipated the wild energy of the Chinese assault on the Western position. China, which has the strictest of all population-control programs, arrived to assail with unprecedented fury the very idea of population control as 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 conference turned into another occasion for reminding the West of its alleged crimes and unresolved obligations.
This tone reached manic proportions in Population Tribune, an unofficial, privately financed conference. Ritual recantation became the order of the day. Prof. René Dumont of Franceblaming the "Plunderers of the Third World" for world conditions-epitomized the argument in a statement "Population and Cannibals' which was subsequently given front-page coverage in Development Forum, an official, five-language U.N. publication:
Eating little children. I have already had the 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. . . . Last year, in overconsuming meat which wasted the cereals which could have saved them, we ate the little children of the Sahel, of Ethiopia and of Bangladesh.
And the American delegation? The official view, flashed to diplomatic posts around the world, was uncomplicated : “ALL BASIC U.S. OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED.... U.S. DELEGATION UNANIMOUSLY PLEASED WITH FINAL RESULT."
GOOD NEWS AND BAD If the beginning of wisdom in dealing with the nations of the Third World is to recognize their essential ideological coherence, the next step is to recognize that there is every reason to welcome this ideology, and to welcome the coherence also. Because of the British revolution and its heritage, the prospect now is that the world will not go totalitarian. In the Christian sense, has there