Thursday, March 20, 2008


Deterring Democracy Copyright © 1991, 1992 by Noam Chomsky. Published by South End Press.
Chapter 11: Democracy in the Industrial Societies Segment 2/7
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2. The General Outlines

Taking as general background the sketch in chapter 1, section 5, let us turn to the central concern of global planners as they confronted the problem of reconstructing a world ravaged by war: the industrial societies that were to be at the core of the world system. What can we learn from this experience about the concept of democracy as understood by the architects of the new global order and their inheritors?

One problem that arose as areas were liberated from fascism was that traditional elites had been discredited, while prestige and influence had been gained by the resistance movement, based largely on groups responsive to the working class and poor, and often committed to some version of radical democracy. The basic quandary was articulated by Churchill's trusted adviser, South African Prime Minister Jan Christiaan Smuts, in 1943, with regard to southern Europe: "With politics let loose among those peoples," he said, "we might have a wave of disorder and wholesale Communism."4 Here the term "disorder" is understood as threat to the interests of the privileged, and "Communism," in accordance with usual convention, refers to failure to interpret "democracy" as elite dominance, whatever the other commitments of the "Communists" may be. With politics let loose, we face a "crisis of democracy," as privileged sectors have always understood.

Quite apart from the superpower confrontation, the United States was committed to restoring the traditional conservative order. To achieve this aim, it was necessary to destroy the anti-fascist resistance, often in favor of Nazi and fascist collaborators, to weaken unions and other popular organizations, and to block the threat of radical democracy and social reform, which were live options under the conditions of the time. These policies were pursued worldwide: in Asia, including South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Indochina, and crucially Japan; in Europe, including Greece, Italy, France, and crucially Germany; in Latin America, including what the CIA took to be the most severe threats at the time, "radical nationalism" in Guatemala and Bolivia.5 Sometimes the task required considerable brutality. In South Korea, about 100,000 people were killed in the late 1940s by security forces installed and directed by the United States. This was before the Korean war, which Jon Halliday and Bruce Cumings describe as "in essence" a phase -- marked by massive outside intervention -- in "a civil war fought between two domestic forces: a revolutionary nationalist movement, which had its roots in tough anti-colonial struggle, and a conservative movement tied to the status quo, especially to an unequal land system," restored to power under the U.S. occupation.6 In Greece in the same years, hundreds of thousands were killed, tortured, imprisoned or expelled in the course of a counterinsurgency operation, organized and directed by the United States, which restored traditional elites to power, including Nazi collaborators, and suppressed the peasant- and worker-based Communist-led forces that had fought the Nazis. In the industrial societies, the same essential goals were realized, but by less violent means.

In brief, at that moment in history the United States faced the classic dilemma of Third World intervention in large parts of the industrial world as well. The U.S. position was "politically weak" though militarily and economically strong. Tactical choices are determined by an assessment of strengths and weaknesses. The preference has, quite naturally, been for the arena of force and for measures of economic warfare and strangulation, where the U.S. has ruled supreme. In the early post-war period, this was a global problem. Tactical choices largely observed these general conditions, adapted to particular circumstances.

These topics are central to a serious understanding of the contemporary world. The actual history can be discovered in specialized studies devoted to particular instances of what was, in fact, a highly systematic pattern.7 But it is not readily available to the general public, which is offered a very different version of the general picture and particular cases within it. Take the case of Greece, the first major postwar intervention and a model for much that followed. The U.S. and world market are flooded with such material as the best-selling novel and film Eleni by Nicholas Gage, reporting the horrors of the Communist-led resistance. But Greek or even American scholarship that gives a radically different picture, and seriously questions the authenticity even of Gage's special case, is unknown. In England, an independent TV channel attempted in 1986 to allow the voices of the Communist-led anti-Nazi Greek resistance, defeated by the postwar British and American campaigns, to be heard for the first time, to present their perception of these events. This effort evoked a hysterical establishment response, calling for suppression of this "one-sided" picture inconsistent with the official doctrine that had hitherto reigned unchallenged. The former head of British political intelligence in Athens, Tom McKitterick, supported the broadcast, observing that "for years we have been treated to a one-sided picture, and the series was a brave attempt to restore the balance." But the establishment counterattack prevailed in an impressive display of the totalitarian mentality and its power in the liberal West. The documentary was barred from rebroadcast or overseas marketing, particularly in Greece, only one example of a long history of suppression.8

In the international system envisioned by U.S. planners, the industrial powers were to reconstruct, essentially restoring the traditional order and barring any challenge to business dominance, but now taking their places within a world system regulated by the United States. This world system was to take the form of state-guided liberal internationalism, secured by U.S. power to bar interfering forces and managed through military expenditures, which proved to be a critical factor stimulating industrial recovery. The global system was designed to guarantee the needs of U.S. investors, who were expected to flourish under the prevailing circumstances. This was a plausible expectation at the time, and one that was amply fulfilled. It was not until the late 1950s that Europe, primarily the Federal Republic of Germany, became a significant factor in world production and trade.9 And until the Vietnam war shifted the structure of the world economy to the benefit of its industrial rivals, the problem faced by the U.S. government with regard to Japan was how to ensure the viability of its economy. Highly profitable foreign investment rapidly grew and transnational corporations, primarily U.S.-based in the earlier period, expanded and flourished.

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4 Smuts cited by Basil Davidson, Scenes from the Anti-Nazi War (Monthly Review, 1980), 17.

5 On these cases, see chapter 12, pp. 395f.

6 Halliday and Cumings, Korea: the Unknown War (Viking, Pantheon, 1988).

7 The first major scholarly effort to lay out this pattern is Gabriel Kolko's Politics of War (Random House, 1968), which remains extremely valuable, and unique in its scope and depth, despite the flood of new documents and scholarship since.

8 See Covert Action Information Bulletin, Winter 1986. Richard Gott, "A Greek tragedy to haunt the old guard," Guardian (London), July 5, 1986.

9 Alfred Grosser, The Western Alliance (Continuum, 1980), 178. KEYWORDS terrorist democracy elections cia mossad bnd nsa covert operation 911 mi6 inside job what really happened wtc pentagon joint chiefs of staff jcs centcom laser hologram usa mi5 undercover agent female sex exploitation perception deception power anarchy green social democratic participation japanese spy black-op false flag gladio terror.

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