Among the major countries of the world, the United States has the highest per capita income, and it is often assumed therefore that the ordinary American is materially better off than his or her counterpart anywhere else in the world. In fact, this proposition is practically taken for granted within U.S. national culture, since it is constantly being drummed into our ears by the media and educational institutions. Yet, as a logical proposition it is simply false. This was recently pointed out by Paul Krugman, a leading mainstream economist and columnist for the New York Times, in an article (For Richer, New York Times Magazine, October 20, 2002) dedicated to explaining exactly why this national myth is mistaken. Life expectancy in the U.S., Krugman observes, is well below that in Canada, Japan and every major nation in Western Europe. On the average, we can expect lives a bit shorter than those of Greeks, a bit longer than those of Portuguese. Male life expectancy is lower in the U.S. than it is in Costa Rica
Volume 54, Issue 07 (December)
Officially Washington’s current policy toward Iraq is to bring about a regime change—either through a military coup, or by means of a U.S. invasion, justified as a preemptive attack against a rogue state bent on developing and deploying weapons of mass destruction.* But a U.S. invasion, should it take place, would not confine its objectives to mere regime change in Baghdad. The larger goal would be nothing less than the global projection of U.S. power through assertion of American dominance over the entire Middle East. What the world is now facing therefore is the prospect of a major new development in the history of imperialism
Representatives of the established order were unprepared for the mas- sive 1999 demonstrations in Seattle against the World Trade Organziation (WTO) and remain on the defensive in the face of the inter- nationally coordinated actions against neoliberal globalization that have followed. On an ideological level, they have responded by seeking to undermine the legitimacy of antiglobalization activists, especially those in the developed capitalist world, by claiming that these activists oppose the very policies and institutions that are in the best interest of the poor in the third world. One example: the former head of the WTO, Mike Moore, declared that “The people that stand outside and say they work in the interests of the poorest people …they make me want to vomit. Because the poorest people on our planet, they are ones that need us the most.”
John Saul has had an extensive and committed involvement with Southern Africa. His analyses are taken seriously in left circles in South Africa. Sadly, perhaps understandably, his most recent extended visit to this country has left him feeling deeply disappointed (Cry for the Beloved Country: The Post-Apartheid Denouement, Monthly Review 52, no. 8, January 2001, pp. 151). This sense of disappointment is rooted, I would guess, partly in the intellectual, organizational and even emotional energies that Saul, like many others, invested in the solidarity struggle against apartheid, and in legitimate expectations for a post-apartheid South Africa. There is also, and I want to underline my own empathy with his irritation on this score, a hint of personal hurt: The most startling thing I personally discovered about the New South Africa is just how easy it has become to find oneself considered an ultraleftist! (p. 1) This sense of disappointment, even of betrayal, is also present in many progressive circles within South Africa, and indeed among many cadres of our movement. Despite all of this there is, I believe, something seriously off-beam in Saul’s analysis
It is interesting that, on one of the two main fronts of inquiry opened up in my original essay, Jeremy Cronin professes—despite the wounded tone he adopts throughout and for all his talk about my frozen penultimates, sneers, and derision—to be in considerable agreement with me. This concerns my reading of the overall trajectory of socioeconomic policy that the African National Congress (ANC) government has adopted since 1994. As he puts the point, Saul goes on to argue that the ANC liberation front has erred seriously on two critical fronts—the choice of economic policies, and the relative demobilization of our mass constituency (except during electoral campaigns). I agree with Saul on both counts. Indeed, he adds, I agree substantially with the broad analysis of the last twelve years or so in South Africa that Saul makes in his pessimism of the intellect mode, including, it would appear, my criticisms of the government’s macroeconomic policy (the Growth Employment and Redistribution framework—GEAR), privatization policies, excessive liberalization measures, the failure to mobilize our mass base, or concerns about the growing bureaucratization and the influence of an emerging black bourgeois stratum on policy
Where were you during the Battle of Seattle in late November 1999? Due to my teaching schedule, I wasn’t able to be there, but like many other activists young and old around the world who weren’t there, I was thrilled, jumping with joy in front of my television watching CSPAN while listening to KPFA-Pacifica reporters on the ground, running to my computer to look up the latest IndyMedia news. I knew for sure that nothing would ever be the same. Not even the events of September 11, and their fascistic fallout have shaken that certainty. However, since September 11, I have felt the need for some evidence and encouragement, and I found it in From ACT UP to the WTO: Urban Protest and Community Building in the Era of Globalization, a collection of compulsively readable analyses, first person stories, and interviews of forty-one activists brilliantly edited and introduced by Benjamin Shepard and Ronald Hayduk.