Social Scientist. v 12, no. 138 (Nov 1984) p. 49.


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The U S and Us

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because it was not for the sake of an object we pursued in rivalry with each other, but with the system itself that we were at war. As I understood the matter, we were at war not with its conduct but with its existence; convinced that its existence and its hostility were the same/*

This statement could very well be a description of the American involvement in Vietnam or earlier in China. But it is not. That was Edmund Burke talking about the British policies during the French Revolution.1 If it sounds so contemporary it is because of the hostility to a 'system' which so dominates the Western perspective on^world order. All their analysis is in power terms. All their activity which that analysis seeks to explain is firmly based on and rooted in the hostility of systems, i c, the irrcconciliable hostility between the socialist system and the imperialist system. The "ideological" is at a considerable discount in contemporary international political analysis but certainly not in contemporary international politics, mainly because in the wild-West view of the global order that the U S has, the existence of a socialist system, to borrow Burke's language, is its hostility. Logically therefore destruction of the socialist system would be the last guarantee of the security of world capitalism. Much of what the United States has done in world politics over the last four decades can be fully understood only if Burke's reference to the then dominant identification of existenc with hostility between the systems is kept in view.

The extraordinarily "ideological" view that U S policy makers have taken of the world is thus central to the understanding of contemporary world politics particularly since the end of the Second World War. The aftermath of the Second World War has seen the high tide of decolonisation and at least" of formal independence of most of Asia and Africa. These countries or their new leaderships have been caught in the American crusade, which it was not always possible for them to make clear sense of. The crusade against the socilist system has got them involved in a grim struggle of self-preservation against the increasing U S diktats on what a "free" or a "democratic" system should be and should look like. Hostility to the socialist states has been one aspect of U S foreign policy. But no less important has been what



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