American Imperialism And The Peace Movement

ONE OF THE WEAKNESSES of the American peace movement as presently constituted is that it lacks a clearly defined theory of imperialism. Various elements within the movement as a whole do hold definite views on this question, but there is neither general agreement as to their relevance nor much inclination to test conflicting interpretations against the available evidence. Precisely because the war in Vietnam is so manifestly unjust and inhuman, the protest against that war has stemmed in large part from a sense of outrage which requires no theoretical analysis or justification. What we are all beglOning to discover, however, is that protest is one thing and political action another. If the peace movement is to break out of its current isolation and begin to build a political base in this country, it must learn to relate its opposition to the war in Vietnam to a continuing struggle against the policies which have produced that war and which must inevitably produce new Vietnams in the future. For this task of long-range political education protest is not enough. What is needed among other things is an analysis both of the origins of the current conflict, and of the nature of American foreign policy in general. What is needed, in brief, is a theory of American imperialism. By the term “American imperialism” I mean that system of political, economic and military domination by means of which the United States today controls the greater part of what  is sometimes known as the Free World. For almost twenty years the United States has sought directly or indirectly to manipulate the internal political life of the entire non-socialist world in order to simultaneously bar the way to indigeneous social revolution and to maximize opportunities for American capital investment and American access to strategic raw materials. This system of global domination has taken different forms in different areas; only as a last resort has it led to outright military intervention. Military bases and military training programs, large scale capital investment, economic and military aid, C.I.A.-sponsored coups, covert support for European colonial regimes: these are the “neocolonial” techniques through which the United States normally pursues its objectives. The ramifications of this global strategy are too broad to be explained in terms of such subjective attitudes as anti-Communist hysteria or racism or a lust for power on the part of individuals in high places. American imperialism is in fact characterized by such attitudes; but its causes, its underlying goals, must ultimately be sought in the fundamental economic and political structure of American society itself.

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