End of War, or Endless War?
on Capitalism, Communism and the
by Michael I. Niman, ArtVoice 4/25/02
The Death of
Dogmatic new-right conservatives celebrated the supposed triumph of capitalism over communism – the heralding of an age George Bush Sr. would brand, “The New World Order.” It was the death of communism.
I remember walking around, telling anyone who would listen, “I don’t know about this – in my gut I know something’s wrong.” Of course, the world had been turned upside down. The pervasive overwhelming threat of thermonuclear annihilation that hung over my life like a spring thunderhead had vanished – and suddenly, I was blinded by the seductive glow of unfettered free market global capitalism. But more importantly, that yin yang balance of “our” world verses “their” world had suddenly disappeared. And we were left without a new reality. I wasn’t a communist, and I certainly wasn’t a fan of the stone cold gray Soviet police state. But for a moment, I missed the enemy I was weaned to hate.
Then it hit me with the force of a tumbling Berlin Wall. This wasn’t really the death of communism, as giddy celebrants tagged it. It was actually the death of capitalism. Capitalism was given a free ride for most of 20th century. In the ominous dark shadow of East Bloc totalitarianism, it was packaged to offer bohemian eroticism and godly purity. Against a backdrop of “evil,” it nurtured the human spirit and offered hope – or at least that’s what 1,000 Reader’s Digest articles would have had us believe.
The Death of
Without communism to hide behind, however, capitalism would
have to prove itself. And given the
state of the emerging corporate capitalist order, I just couldn’t see that
happening. In the end, I was right.
The collapse of the Soviet empire did herald the end of capitalism – or
at least the utopian promise of capitalism.
The “if only we had a free market” line gave way to the free market.
Since then, we’ve seen the quality of life, as measured by almost every
economic indicator, decline in almost every former Soviet state and satellite.
In the 90s, global capitalism faced off with its most vibrant foe yet, and it wasn’t stodgy communism, but the trans-national WTO, IMF, GATT, NAFTA, FTAA, World Bank bashing global democracy movement. Corporate capitalism trumpeted a true free market, and the human spirit was once again crushed by a pervasive all encompassing evil empire – corporate globalism. The unmitigated brutal greed of the new global corporate pillage served to unite students, clergy, peace activists, environmentalists, labor activists, indigenous rights activists, farmers, retirees, anti-racist activists and a host of others into a never-before seen global culture of resistance. Damn, did capitalism fuck up?!
That was “the end of communism.”
Now lets fast-forward to the present day.
Every political sore in the world is festering – oozing a rancid pus of
hatred and death. The world is
embroiled in what more and more people are calling “World War Three.”
The End of Warfare
If the Israelis and Palestinians have together taught the world anything, it’s the futility of warfare. Since it’s become politically untenable to hold land taken through force, the barbaric notion of war has become obsolete. All it does is fuel hatreds and incubate future generations of warriors. With weapons getting more and more lethal, someone’s bound to toss a Big-Boy Boomeroo. Then there’ll be nothing left to fight over.
Many people now argue that the Israel-Palestine conflict is
not a war between Israelis and Palestinians, but between those who believe one
party can prevail, and those who know no one can ever win.
The insane verse the sane. The
zealots verse the pragmatic survivors.
The Mid-East war is a difficult conflict for journalists to
cover or for peace activists to protest. One
journalist in the national press corps told me that after writing about the
Israeli incursion into Palestinian territory, he was called everything from an
“anti-Semite,” and a “Self-hating Jew,” to a “Zionist pig.”
More alarming is the case of Adam Shapiro, a Jewish peace activist whose
parents were literally run out of
The hate mail, however, is telling.
After my last ArtVoice piece on the
Of course there’s no shortage of such speech in
Many people in the media like to write this conflict off as
an ancient “tribal” battle. But
it is anything but ancient. What we
are now seeing is the last battleground of a rather recent conflict - World War
Two. Displaced Eastern European
Jews, not welcomed in the US or Western Europe, fled Europe as refugees heading
to Palestine, exasperating an already volatile conflict fueled by over 100 years
of Zionist migration to Palestine and Arab resistance to Zionist plans to
convert their homeland into a sectarian Jewish state.
These European refugees were joined by Jews fleeing World War Two era
anti-Semitism in places like
These refugees went to
Today, 54 years after the creation of Israel, descendents
of displaced Palestinians are living as political pawns, with many still kept in
refugee camps both by their fellow Palestinians and by neighboring countries.
They number three million people, and many Palestinians argue that there
will be no peace until they have the “right of return,” to move into
And then there are the 300,000 Israelis who have built their homes in the occupied Palestinian territories. They claim a biblical deed to the land. The only catch is the fact that since Islam evolved out of Christianity, which evolved out of Judaism, the Palestinians share that ancient claim. The difference is that the Palestinians also are universally recognized by international law as also having a contemporary legal claim to the land – something the settlers, whose government took the land by force, lack.
The solution to this conflict is as simple as it is elusive. There is currently an internationally recognized boundary. The Israelis must return to their side of this line, and the Palestinians must agree to remain on their own side as well. Reparations can be negotiated in lieu of any “right to return.”
There are many people in the world, however, who are not
content to let this happen. According
to The World War 3 Report, Yasser Arafat’s wife, Suha Arafat, who lives
There were also signs of hope, however, this past weekend in Washington as thousands of American Jews joined tens of thousands of Palestinians and other concerned people in demanding and end to US support of Israel and an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory (see my column next week).
The sad reality, however, is that there is still no end in sight for this war – only further escalation. What’s next for this tortured region is unimaginable. But as these stubborn adversaries destroy both their enemies, and the civil fabrics of their own societies, maybe the world will learn a lesson about the futility of war. One way or another, this is the war to end all wars.
Dr. Michael I. Niman’s previous ArtVoice Articles are
archived at http://mediastudy.com/articles.
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