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Global change and social justice: an introduction.

Emergent Trends for the 1990s

As part of a broader oppositional tendency, critical thinkers concerned with law and justice must adjust to the watershed processes that have radically restructured power relations at the world level. These changes - encompassing the democratic openings in Latin America and South Africa, the Democratic Revolution of 1989 in Eastern Europe, the Gulf War in 1991 and the aftermath of the August coup that year in the Soviet Union - have forever altered the bipolar global framework familiar to critical thinkers. We have witnessed the end of the Cold War, which left its imprint on East-West relations for nearly half a century; national liberation movements, which played a central transformatory role in North-South conflict, appear to have run their historical course; and a multipolar world economy, controlled by a consensus among the wealthy powers of the North against the increasingly impoverished and disenfranchised populations of the South, will be firmly in place at the millennium.

Ironically, although these changes portend an even greater challenge to visualizing a just social order, the withering away of Cold War superpower conflict and the consequent downplaying of ideological struggle in world political relations should facilitate a revitalized progressive agenda. Complicating this task, however, is the disintegration of the liberal social program and the sense that progressives' efforts to counter a new U.S. militarism fell into disarray during the Gulf War. Meanwhile, a well-funded and growing network of conservative think tanks, public-interest law firms, and related organizations have increasingly come to dictate the terms of public debate domestically and to advise the democratic movements in the newly independent states and republics abroad.

What global and local realities will constrain our future options? In the following pages, a variety of viewpoints contribute to an assessment of the political, economic, and ideological features of the "new world order," of America's future role in world affairs, and of the possibilities open to oppositional forces. A common theme is that North-South conflict will continue to dominate the world system and most likely will become even more acute. Second, although the Gulf War and its accompanying world order rhetoric was thought by some to open the way for a resumption of U.S. hegemony, the most likely outcome is, in the words of Samir Amin, an Empire of Chaos, or, as Immanuel Wallerstein puts it, a new world disorder.

At the level of security policy and the resolution of conflict, such a (dis)order would be unipolar in its military structure, with a U.S. policing function financed by Japan and Germany. World politics in the post-cold War period will depart from the security arrangements characterizing the past 40 years, and for that reason we begin with Amin's analysis of the military doctrine we can expect to prevail. This departure, however, is far from radical so far, judging by the Pentagon's draft defense strategy paper, which, although later revised under protest, continued to portray Russia as a military rival (along with Germany and Japan) and cast the U.S. in the role of unilateral Globocop at a cost of $1.5 trillion over the next five years (Gelb, 1990). With respect to the South, U.S. military activity in Africa has intensified despite the absence of any arguable U.S. strategic interests, with the Bush administration dispatching elite Army training teams to sub-Saharan Africa to establish a modest, low-cost U.S. military presence there (Sia, 1992), while in the Asian Pacific, the U.S. is maintaining its Cold War force posture virtually unchanged. Also indicative of the tenor of the Pentagon's regard for the new international order, international law, and the Geneva Conventions was its defense that the burying alive of thousands of Iraqi troops was legal given "a gap in the law of war in defining precisely when surrender takes effect or how it may be accomplished" (Sloyan, 1992).

With respect to relations within the North, the Gulf War was a litmus test for determining how the U.S. would play upon the disjuncture between the economic and military powers of Germany and especially Japan. Neither is a nuclear power (often considered a criterion for great power status); both operate within constraints created by the legacy of World War II (each contains large pacifist constituencies, each is subject to U.S. military occupation, while Article 9 of Japan's Constitution abandons its sovereign right of self-defense and a military establishment, and Germany's military is structurally integrated into the NATO Command). Central to the post - Gulf War equilibrium is the perception in Germany and Japan that their financial commitments have some influence in shaping any new world order. Otherwise, internal forces may militate for the acquisition of a nuclear capacity. To date, Japan's attempts at asserting a regional leadership role (whether economically or in security matters) in the Asian - Pacific region have raised the specter of a revived Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere - a fact that explains why Japan is one of the few countries in the modern world with truly global interests - while the institutional economic and military framework for cooperation in the form of NATO and the European Community have helped Germany overcome the constraints on its regional policies (Funabashi, 1991: 63). As Amin points out in this volume, Germany's low profile during the Gulf War was a sign of strength and that country's eastward economic expansion will accompany a lessening of its real commitment to an all-European institutional framework.

At the economic level, the fact that Europe, Japan, and the U.S. account for two-thirds of the world product itself precludes the possibility of U.S. hegemony (Nye, 1992: 88). By the early 1970s, the United States had already begun to slip from its hegemonic position in the world economy. The Gulf War served both to cement the tripolar character of the world economy and to exacerbate the difficulties confronting the U.S. economy by continuing to promote high-tech military research and production even though military expenditure must be understood as the overriding factor in the economy's structural crisis. In this volume, James O'Connor's contribution on the political and economic origins of the Gulf War traces how the U.S. has dangerously come to resemble a military state. Faced with deteriorating economic and security arrangements, he argues, a demand-side policy of military spending was adopted by successive "supply-side" administrations to maintain effective demand, create a substitute for real domestic reform and social policy, restore U.S. "credibility" in the world, and win respect at home for the military and a law-and-order culture.

Considering the ongoing restructuring of the North in the current crisis, some analysts have predicted a three-way breakdown of the world economy into protectionist trading blocks organized around three loci (Japan, Europe, and the U.S.). Such a development is unlikely, first because it runs counter to the interests of transnational corporations, which have spearheaded the globalization of production, finance, and commerce over the past decades and, second, because of the tendency of triads to give way to a binary split in the search for dominance, with the weakest allying with the strongest (see Wallerstein, 1990). The most likely result would be two Norths, with a Japan - U.S. configuration developing its main semiperiphery, China, while Europe develops its main semiperiphery, Russia.

Thus, the agenda for the near-term future appears to affirm only a prolongation of an increasingly polarized capitalist order, not the construction of a polycentric world system capable of solving the problems of interdependence on a planetary scale and flexible enough to allow autonomy to the separate regions (Amin, 1991: 22). An acute downturn in the world economy is anticipated over the next five years, with disastrous consequences for the Third World, but by the year 2005, a long-term expansion period should begin, leading to booming economies in the North. While the impact of the dramatic downturn will vary in different parts of the North, the South, according to Wallerstein (1990), will probably respond with one of three political options open to it. The first is the Khomeini option, movements not intrinsically Islamic or fundamentalist, but decidedly outside the cultural orbit of the worldsystem, leaving no avenue for communication or for resolution. The second is the Saddam Hussein option, based in Third World movements still expressing the values of the modern world-system, but also realizing that since economic inequities are the outcome of political rapport deforces, economic transformation requires military strength. The Iraq - U.S. confrontation marked the first genuine North-South war, one not limited to achieving self-determination, but rather of altering the world balance of forces via the creation of larger states, armed with top-level military technology, and willing to risk real warfare. The third option is that of individual resistance via massive and significantly escalated unauthorized South-to-North migration that would transform the structure of social life in the North. According to Wallerstein, the South within the North may well reach the 30% to 50% mark by 2025. Following the current trend of denying political rights to these immigrants would cause a return, after 200 years of social integration of the working classes in the North, to conditions similar to the early 19th-century when the bulk of the lower occupational strata were disenfranchised - with obvious implications for social peace. A good example of this process is found in Elizabeth Petras' article in this volume, which details how the globalization of the garment industry has generated a return of these multinational firms from offshore to exploit the labor of low-wage, female Asian immigrants in nonunion sweatshops in U.S. urban centers.

Human Rights and World Order

This emerging picture does not auger well for the realization of a socially just future world order. The end of the Cold War raised hopes for denuclearization and demilitarization - at least in the superpowers of the North - and for refocusing budgetary priorities to address human needs. Real progress also seemed possible in reaching global agreements geared to stemming environmental catastrophe. The rhetoric of the new world order appeared to hold some promise for conducting affairs according to the rule of law and promoting rights-protective governments. Yet not only is it questionable whether there is a new world order, the very meaning of world order has taken on various meanings at the elite level. According to Nye (1992: 84), the term world order" when used by "realists" such as Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon refers to balance of power politics in the interstate system; for liberals in the tradition of Woodrow Wilson and Jimmy Carter, order arises from broad values like democracy and human rights, as well as from international law and institutions such as the United Nations. In its prosecution of the Gulf War, the Bush administration acted like realists, whose agenda has little to do with justice, while using liberal rhetoric to gamer support for a reassertion of U.S. power (including the subordination of the U.N. to this agenda).

Though much of the new world order rhetoric suggests a substantial strengthening of international human-rights guarantees in the 1990s, major structural constraints will prevent the end of the Cold War from yielding the anticipated positive consequences for international human-rights policies (Donnelly, 1992). In the first instance, the Bush administration's Gulf War declarations entrenched a state-centric, sovereignty-based conception of international order as the norm for international human rights. Second, despite the disappearance of anticommunism as the primary justification for U.S. support of repressive regimes, since human-rights interventions against such regimes rely on moral suasion, the material interdependence that strongly patterns international behavior will tend to predominate. In an instructive case, as the world's largest creditor nation, Japan could make future aid contingent upon human-rights criteria. Yet Japan has been reluctant to place human rights on its foreign policy agenda, in part because of both its dependence on archconservative Saudi Arabia's oil and sensitive relations with China and the Republic of Korea and in part because of lingering war guilt (Funabashi, 1991: 66). Nonetheless, recent changes in global power relations have resulted in a major shift in the human-rights discourse worldwide, though perhaps not as momentous as the departure during the Cold War years from the pre-World War II period when human rights were not considered a legitimate subject for international action. Laid to rest will be the notion of "three worlds" or three distinctive and valid conceptions of international human-rights norms, which had challenged the universality of internationally recognized human rights:

The First World conception ... stressed civil and political rights and the right to property. The Second World conception treated economic, social, and cultural rights as an overriding priority and a prerequisite to the enjoyment of civil and political rights. The Third World conception also emphasized economic, social, and cultural rights, along with the right to self-determination and the overriding importance of the struggle for development (Donnelly, 1992).

The disintegration of the socialist human-rights conception and the rejection by national liberation movements of the equivalence between self-determination and development is intimately related to the collapse of liberalism - itself the fountainhead of the human-rights discourse and the ideological cement of the capitalist world economy from the French Revolution to the fall of the Communisms in 1989 (see Wallerstein's contribution to this volume). As the dominant conservative ideology of the past 150 years, its political agenda sought to assure gradualist, ameliorative change so as to prevent the greater breakdown of social order. Initially expressing an anti-state position based on the view that the sovereign people is composed of individuals with "inalienable rights," this ideology was transformed into one of seeking in practice to strengthen and reinforce state structures. Over time, liberal ideology expanded its agenda from preserving order via the incorporation of the working classes of the West to maintaining world order by dealing with the popular classes of the South. Wallerstein analyzes the contours of that once-dominant global perspective:

Its heralds were first Woodrow Wilson and then Franklin Roosevelt, who took the two main proposals of mid-19th century liberals - universal suffrage and the welfare state - and adapted them to the world level. Wilson's call for the self-determination of nations was the world equivalent of suffrage. As every individual should have an equal vote within states, so every state should be sovereign and equal in the world polity. Roosevelt renewed this call during the Second World War and added to it the need for what would come to be called the "economic development of underdeveloped countries," to be furthered by "technical assistance" and "aid." This was intended to be the functional equivalent on the world scene of the welfare state, an attempt to achieve a partial and limited redistribution of surplus value, now world surplus value.

In the East, as Leninism was deradicalized - first by the acceptance of the objective of socialism within one country (defining it as a catching-up industrialization) and, second, by the search for national power and advantage within the interstate system - socialists joined conservatives in validating the world-scale liberal agenda of self-determination (or national liberation) and economic development (also called the construction of socialism). The severe downturn in the world economy proved development to be untenable both in the South and the East, undercutting support for proponents of liberal reformism. On a world-historical stage, Wallerstein contends, the world revolution of 1968 unraveled the ideological consensus and the 20 years that followed saw the undoing of the credibility of liberalism, of which the collapse of the Communisms in 1989 was the culmination. The passionate call for democracy, a hallmark of the new era, represents a rejection of liberalism, not its triumph. This is a recognition that the present world-system is undemocratic since neither economic well-being nor political power are equally shared. One repercussion flowing from this structural reality of the new world order is that the normal state of affairs will be characterized by social disintegration, not by progressive change.

No New World Order in the East

As Andre Gunder Frank persuasively argues in this volume, 40 years of the politics and ideology of "socialist development" in the East seem not to have changed the economic positions of these regions, either relative to one another or relative to Western Europe. Indeed, many regions in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union now face the serious prospect, like Africa, of being marginalized out of the international division of labor. The current "transition from socialism to capitalism" is taking place just as another severe recession in the world economy is helping to pull Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union even deeper into depression. In this sense, there is no new world order in the East, as Europe's historical political-economic divisions continue.

Nonetheless, the collapse of Soviet power over Eastern Europe and within the former USSR itself is not without important implications for the progressive movement. First, in our search for possible alternatives to the harsh realities of the capitalist world system, we will no longer be drawn into a defense of states we had long criticized for their lack of internal democracy, stratified social structure, and relations of unequal exchange with the South. Neither will it be necessary to seek explanations for the Stalinist repression and the structured violations of classical, first-generation civil and political rights as part of some larger historical balance sheet that considers the legacy of an international climate dominated by a militarist, antisocialist West. In addition, no longer will the rights we defend be degraded by the disjuncture between actual living conditions and the promises of socialist state constitutions in terms of collective rights - the rights to employment, housing, health care, and education - plus the de facto violation of third-generation rights, such as the right to a pollution-free environment. Today, the unambiguous, although hypocritical, stratification of privilege inherent in the capitalist organization of the labor process will make the issue of rights an area of real contention in the elaboration of a new civil society (as the "Committees for Justice" just formed in the former East Germany amply attest). The new constitutions emerging in Eastern Europe and the pathbreaking Declaration of Human Rights and Liberties, based upon the Russian Federation's draft constitution, promise not only to push the classical political freedoms to their limits, but also to maintain social-welfare guarantees while providing the right to strike and to live in a favorable natural environment. Once political stability is established, making adoption of these important documents possible, these huge populations will be brought into conformity with the U.N.'s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This would raise the standard of rights enjoyed throughout the North to a higher level and set the stage for the demand that they be practiced at the world level.

The end of the Cold War and the internal reckoning taking place with the East European and Soviet intelligence services also raises new responsibilities for progressives. In the United States, for instance, these changes should stimulate analysis of and action against domestic surveillance at home - including the rechanneling of FBI counterespionage agents into gang-related activities, made possible by the collapse of the Soviet Union (Doyle, 1992). In this light, the new police chief in Los Angeles, Willie L. Williams, should be commended for taking decisive action against the unit accused of political spying in that force - the Organized Crime Intelligence Division (Mydans, 1992).

At the same time, progressives cannot uncritically support the democratic transitions in the East, for they do not in themselves guarantee that internationally recognized human rights will be protected. Particular attention must be paid to the denial or violation of civil and political rights such as the presumption of innocence, due process, and habeas corpus now occurring in the purges taking place in the former German Democratic Republic, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, and potentially in Bulgaria and the Russian Republic under the rubric of decommunization. Dispensing justice to entire nations, and in this case condemning the practices of their governing structures for policies and actions undertaken over the past 40 or 70 years, is fraught with difficulties not only in terms of sheer bureaucratic scale, but also in terms of whether political or criminal criteria will be used, what the goal of the reform effort will be within the national reconstruction plan, and how the rights of even the despised will be protected.

Precursors to these events range from the external dynamic introduced by the occupation forces in post - World War Germany and Japan to the internally generated transitions from right-wing military juntas to democratically elected governments in Latin and Central America. In postwar Germany, judicial proceedings were reserved for criminals, with the focus being on the criminal organizations of the Reich as defined by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. Despite the initial reformist zeal of U.S. efforts to "eradicate Nazism" under University of California criminology professor, Orlando Wilson, the imperial imperative of the U.S. dictated that only halfhearted denazification would ultimately be pursued since preventing the return to power at the political and economic levels of the 12 million Germans who were fair game for a purge would have effected a partial revolution by destroying the economic base of German capitalism (Barnet, 1983: 30; Kolko, 1972: 129-130). By the end of 1945 - the year before the Germans assumed responsibility for the self-purgation process - over 300,000 persons, mainly from the upper and middle classes, were designated unemployable except as common laborers; after 1945, however, only a tiny portion of the highest Nazi elite had any fears of retribution (Kolko, 1972: 129). In Japan, about 1,000 persons were tried by an international war crimes tribunal, while the Japanese themselves were responsible for the purge of civilian leaders considered to be militarists but not war criminals. The purge was intended to exclude from political activity all who advocated "militant nationalism." Of course, such a broad guideline touched nearly everyone but the Left. The purges undertaken in 1946 applied to the national bureaucracy, the military, the police, the local and provisional governments, and the leading industrial firms. The total number excluded from public office reached 200,000 - although all but 8,710 were eventually reinstated on appeal (Ibid.: 317). According to Barnet (1983: 70), in the fervor to amass the list of "purgees":

the ostensible purpose of the effort was forgotten. The new Japan would be "democratized" by police state methods. Men were convicted on the unsupported word of anonymous informers and were declared ineligible for office if even distant relatives were tainted. The loose procedures offered considerable opportunity for Japanese looking to settle old scores or to get potential rivals for office out of the way ... [A] detailed study of the occupation, Forced to Be Free, concludes, "The purge as a political revolution failed to discredit the old Japanese elite or to enlist public support of the new leadership."

Forty years later, the only successful prosecution in Latin America for human-rights violations committed by a state terrorist regime - one responsible for the disappearance of at least 10,000 of its citizens and the torture of many more in the 1970s and 1980s - took place in Argentina under a rights-oriented elected government. Despite efforts of the outgoing military dictatorship to absolve itself via decree, in 1985 five of the nine members of Argentina's three military juntas that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983 were convicted by civilian judges for human rights violations; more than 100 other officers were prosecuted (Shank and Talamante, 1987: 106). Although loss of the war over the Falkland Islands and the catastrophic state of the economy figured prominently in the background, Argentina prosecuted and punished members of the old regime for particular acts - kidnapping, torture, and murder - that were well-established crimes in Argentina and in virtually all other states, and not for their political views, associations, or employment (Donnelly, 1992). This important advance for human rights was ultimately undermined by military rebellions that forced the government to halt most prosecutions and subsequently to grant pardons to most of those who had been successfully prosecuted. Thereafter, pragmatic compromise has reigned elsewhere in Latin and Central America: the granting of impunity has virtually absolved the military for their human-rights violations in exchange for their promise to exit from direct governance. Such was the case in Uruguay, Chile, Guatemala, and El Salvador (though the recently created U.N. body, the "Commission on Truth," will perhaps change this by investigating the most egregious death-squad abuses there, including the slaying of Archbishop Romero). Elsewhere in the South, reconciliation, not revenge, has dominated the tenor of the halting transition from the criminal apartheid regime to a democratic majoritarian state.

In the East, however, the demand for retribution is surfacing across the old Soviet bloc. Behind the calls for purges is the general demand for a reckoning with the past, especially the actions of the secret police organizations, but there is a concern among intellectuals in Eastern Europe and analysts in the West that the drive for retribution will inevitably cause new injustices as a widening spiral of revenge creates a climate of accusation and excess (Battiata, 1991). In Czechoslovakia, a sweeping 1991 decommunization law requires all senior Communist Party officials, party police, and their collaborators to be dismissed or demoted if they hold government jobs and excludes for five years from public office or employment not only informers, but also anyone who was a member of the national security forces, a party official at the district level or higher, a member of the People's Militia, or an activist in certain other state or party bodies, including service in the People's Courts. The purge is being carried out with the help of an index of 140,000 names, compiled by the secret police themselves, that lists everyone who collaborated in any way with the secret police between 1948 and 1989. Since the passage of the law, four prominent dissidents, including the leader of the Slovak half of the 1989 revolution, have been targeted as collaborators. President Vaclav Havel criticized the climate of fear created by the "de-Bolshevizers," and asked whether it is reasonable to blame four decades of devastation on one group of people, particularly in a country where eight million people - half the population - passed through the Communist Party and where every third worker was compelled to serve in the militia. Hungary has nonetheless considered a Czechoslovak-style law that would expel all secret police informers from Parliament, government, the news media, and possibly the clergy. Despite the wrenching impact of Czechoslovakia's and the former East Germany's path, upon taking office the first democratically elected prime minister of Bulgaria, Filip Dmitrov, stated: "there will hardly be any Communist leaders who will avoid prosecution" (Ibid.) In Poland, President Lech Walesa campaigned in favor of decommunization of the bureaucracy and the army, though for three years revenge against former Communists was avoided. In mid-1992, however, a list of members of Parliament, top government and local officials, including President Walesa, and civil servants who allegedly were secret police collaborators or informers between 1945 and 1990 was released in a parliamentary maneuver by a Walesa opponent (Debnicki, 1992; New York Times, 1992). Walesa decried the procedure as "outside the law," claiming it "sets the stage for political blackmail, and completely destabilizes the structure of the state" (New York Times, 1992). Indicating the risk to civil and political rights, Walesa also made a plea to have the accused identified under an orderly procedure that would give them a chance to defend themselves. Three decommunization laws are currently under debate, including one that would temporarily ban from public jobs all police collaborators and those who held senior positions in the Communist Party (Epstein, 1992). Simultaneously in Moscow, Russia's Constitutional Court is hearing charges brought by the Yeltsin government about whether the banned Communist Party violated the old Constitution by functioning as a state within a state. Lawyers for Yeltsin are seeking to show that the party is a "criminal organization" that used illegal means to preserve its power, violated human rights, and had links with international terrorism. Democratic reformers hope the trial will become the "Nuremberg trials" of Moscow, but Princeton University scholar Stephen F. Cohen has called the proceeding a "political trial." The Nuremberg analogy does not hold in any event, since it is the party, rather than individual leaders, that will have to answer for its past activities. Trials of former Communist leaders, besides those implicated in the abortive coup, are possible if the court rules that the party behaved illegally and unconstitutionally (see Washington Post, 1992, and Hiatt, 1992).

This widespread erosion of tolerance is attributable to increasing economic hardship and to public anger over the movement of ex-communist officials into ownership or control of former state firms, in effect transferring their influence from the political to the financial and economic realm. Evidence of real corruption by former apparatchiks and of the siphoning off of public funds into foreign bank accounts fuels the fire. Some argue that it is simply immoral for individuals who have collaborated with the secret police to occupy responsible positions in the government, while others make the case that Communists are blocking reform and pose a threat to democracy. Earlier purges did indeed have economic consequences: in postwar Japan, removal of the military and their allies in the bureaucracy undermined the landed aristocracy and firmly entrenched Japanese capitalist interests. The purge propelled a new generation into key management positions and the forced modernization of the government and business bureaucracy probably helped Japan to become more efficient and competitive (Barnet, 1983: 70). As Andre Gunder Frank points out, however, from an economic viewpoint, the collapse of state-led industrialization in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union was due to participation in the same world economic system as will confront market-oriented reformers. In the acute economic downturn expected in the proximate future, fixing blame on former leaders for the failure of current economic reform efforts may yield immediate political benefits, but will not begin to come to terms with the underlying economic malaise.

This impasse could promote a trend toward authoritarian rule during the transition period, which is fundamentally at odds with enhanced political and civil rights and the promotion of democratization under the rule of law. Such measures have been justified in terms of confronting the economic crisis and the stagnation afflicting most of the former command economies as well as in terms of restoring central authority. It is precisely this disintegration of central authority that has given rise to rampant micronationalism, a force that is tearing asunder the political cohesion that had papered over divisions whose origins are to be found in earlier crises in capitalism, and particularly in the peace settlements and state formation following the first and second World Wars. The economic crisis internal to the socialist states hastened the collapse of these state structures; because they were involved in an interregional system of production and exchange, however, efforts to reform national economies by basing all foreign trade on convertible currencies and privatizing the most desirable industries at fire-sale prices exacerbated the crisis: it led to a breakdown in trade and production, bankrupted major national industries, created mass unemployment and impoverishment of the elderly, eliminated any internal basis for raising the capital needed for restructuring, and weakened any claims to sovereignty. This has served to undermine the legitimacy of the governments of national reconciliation. The electoral process has been characterized by paralysis resulting from a splintering of the polity into a multitude of parties, none of which can command the majority in parliament needed to push a reform program through. This is especially so in the Balkans, but it is also true of the recent elections in Poland, where Lech Walesa's authority has plummeted. In such situations, the tendency of the executive is to seek special powers to rule by degree - all at the expense of the legislative branch and usually before an independent judiciary has been established and empowered to play a mediating role.

The situation in the former Soviet Union is similar. Whereas in Eastern Europe the former ruling parties have reconsolidated in the rural areas against an urban-based opposition movement, in post-coup Soviet Union, although the Communist Party has been banned in the richer republics, in Soviet Central Asia, the old leading parties have largely reconstituted as sovereign republics. Totalitarian structures thus remain in place in the periphery, while the developed center continues to drift in the direction of South Korean or Chile-style authoritarian regimes operating in a confederated structure. Initially, pressures to maintain a centralized federal structure emanated above all from the Western powers and the international lending agencies on whom the republics are staking their economic futures. As a general trend, multinational capital is seeking out Eastern Europe and some of the former Soviet republics as low-wage zones for assembly industries and sources of strategic raw materials.

These areas, plus the newly industrializing countries of Asia, may combine with the high-growth leading industries in the core powers to propel a future expansion of global capitalism.

On balance, these changes do not suggest a tilt toward a more just world order. Rather, they suggest a continued period of disorder and polarization. On the positive side, Soviet troops are being withdrawn from Eastern Europe, giving these states the option of practicing self-determination. On the other hand, with the Soviets eliminated from the scene as the lender of last resort and the source of cheap energy, Eastern Europe will continue to experience dramatic economic decline in the short term and will be compelled to subordinate its collective sovereignty to that of the European Community's 1992 multinational megastate, with Germany the strongest force. The disintegrative process in the Soviet Union may be stemmed before multiple civil wars and political stalemate dissipate the political capital gained by the democratic movement as a result of the August coup. In the best case, large areas of the former Soviet Union could emerge as nuclear- and chemical-weapons-free zones within a common economic space linked to a peaceful Europe. In the worst case, given an acute downturn in the world economy, the centripetal force of nationalism could continue to break weak states into even weaker ones and extend the zone of civil conflict from Yugoslavia through Romania and Moldova to a Czech-Slovak schism, up through Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and the southern part of the Russian Federation. The consequence of such unrest would be massive emigration that could destabilize the basis of European social democracy and result in both xenophobic, racist attacks as experienced recently in Germany, as well as electoral gains by rightist parties.

Recomposition and Response of the Progressive Movement

In general, the progressive movement apparently lacked the conceptual tools to predict these massive alterations in the world political arena. Consequently, understanding the domestic implications of these changes, much less the priorities for the coming period, will require considerable thought and imagination. Five years ago, who would have believed that the beginning of the end of apartheid in South Africa would accompany the collapse of the socialist nation-state experiment? While conservative forces completely misjudged the nature and depth of the reform process in the former socialist world, and even delude themselves into believing they contributed to its collapse, it is incumbent upon us to examine our history so as to comprehend the predictive shortcomings of our worldviews and to begin to envision an alternate course for the proximate five years.

Critical criminology, and its progenitor "radical criminology," were rooted in the movements of the 1970s that challenged international policies such as the Vietnam War and, more generally, America's imperial role while also making a critique of domestic issues related to the prison movement, the role of the police, and institutionalized racism and sexism. It is now clear that recent changes in Eastern Europe, stemming from and now paralleling the implementation of perestroika and the New Thinking in the former Soviet Union, have profoundly challenged the raison d'etre of some of the most dynamic sectors the progressive movement in the U.S. The most obvious are those organizations whose issues were externally oriented, such as:

1. The anti-interventionists aligned with national liberation movements either in or out of power now that power-sharing arrangements are being imposed in most regions to end longstanding conflicts and socialist-oriented governments have been displaced via a combination of military pressure, electoral means, or the dictates of world lending agencies.

2.The anti-war, pro-disarmament, and anti-nuclear movements, which became disoriented with the ending of the Cold War and the rapid movement toward drastic reductions in nuclear arsenals, the elimination of nuclear testing, and efforts to create nuclear-free zones by Gorbachev (and subsequently Yeltsin) and Bush. At the same time, the peace movement had an ambiguous response, at best, to Saddam Hussein's conventional war in the Persian Gulf War and has been helpless in promoting a diversion of the "peace dividend" to domestic needs, including conversion of military Keynesianism into production for peaceful purposes.

3. The proponents of class-based politics, such as Marxist-Leninist party formations and socialist groups, whose precipitous decline began in the mid-1980s, but was accelerated with the ideological confusion resulting from the collapse of the centrally planned economies, most notably in 1989. The precipitous weakening of organized labor has practically eliminated it as a meaningful and forceful voice at the level of national politics, simultaneously diminishing the influence of its reform wing.

This potentially large pool of politically active and educated individuals suffers from the absence of a long-term vision, an antipathy to reformist reforms, an inadequate domestic program, and, in some cases, a sense of betrayal to the extent that many years of dedication and sacrifice seem to have come to naught. In an increasingly conservative political culture in the U.S., the need to pursue meaningful lives impels some to the spiritual comfort of religion, others to address the immediacy of environmental catastrophe, while few indeed pursue systemic transformation. Even traditional forms of mobilization have become problematic. Barbara Epstein's article in this volume describes the Gulf War as the worst defeat suffered by the U.S. peace movement since the late 1940s, when public support for Cold War policies was created, and the peace movement of the time was successfully labeled as un- or anti-American. As James O'Connor argues in his contribution to this volume, an effective peace movement must also be an effective reform movement at home, and vice versa. The peace movement cannot leave any important aspect of U.S. foreign policy anywhere in the world unchanged, while the reform movement cannot leave any important aspect of American life at home unchallenged. According to Alden and Schurmann (1992: 120-122), the task before us is to reconcile a new domestic agenda with the maintenance of economic and political globalism. They also suggest that what ended in 1989 was not only the Cold War, but also the era of human history launched by the American, French, and Industrial Revolutions - an era characterized by the development and spread of manufacturing, the emergence of the nation-state in Europe and its consolidation as the primary form of human political organization, and by competition among nation-states as the defining feature of world politics. This is the new ambience in which a critical movement for the 1990s will unfold.

It is becoming clear that the collapse of the socialist nation-state experiment must be viewed as a liberation for progressives everywhere. As a method of transforming global capitalism, it failed just as surely as the naive faith in the magic of the market will fail to transform the former socialist sector into a consumerist nirvana. Since an alternate vision will not emerge for some time, it makes sense for critical criminologists to reexamine the issue of structural violence resulting from aggravated North-South polarization and to effectively engage crime and imprisonment as preeminent social issues. In the United States, which has the world's highest imprisonment rate followed only by South Africa and the once integral Soviet Union where criminal-justice institutions are now being dramatically restructured, we should challenge accelerated prison construction and the promotion of incarceration over treatment in the War on Drugs, while deepening our understanding of homeless shelters as modern-day poor houses (see the Schwendinger's review on this topic at the end of this volume). We should also closely follow rapid demographic changes in the southwestern and western United States where non-citizen Spanish- and Asian-speaking groups will form a majority in 10 years while only 45% of the eligible electorate bothers to participate in national elections. A disease in the body politic is apparent in the relatively large vote for the neo-Nazi David Duke, the displeasure of the electorate with both major parties, and the homophobic agendas pursued by presidential candidates in the 1992 election. Combined with the attack being made on dissent in the form of the "politically correct" campaign and the blaming of the rioting after the Rodney King verdict on social welfare programs, these phenomena do not auger well for holding the line against the assault on the rights of women and non-whites won in the last period of progressive mobilization. The short-term agenda seems to be dictated as a series of defensive measures; we must make time to envision a future world based on equality, democracy, and social justice.


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Gregory Shank is a member of the Editorial Board of Social Justice (P.O. Box 40601, San Francisco, CA 94140). Parts of this introduction were first presented in a paper delivered at the "Crisis in Socialism: Implications for Critical Criminology" session at the American Society of Criminology meeting in San Francisco, November 20-23, 1991.
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Author:Shank, Gregory
Publication:Social Justice
Date:Mar 22, 1992
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