Defeat

By Cockburn, Alexander | The Nation, December 13, 1993 | Go to article overview

Defeat


Cockburn, Alexander, The Nation


Face it, the news isn't good for our side. The NAFTA loss was a bad one, added to which we had to listen to torrents of nonsense about "an agreement in the great tradition of Bretton Woods." In 1944 the Bretton Woods Conference gave us the I.M.F. and the World Bank, two of the leading agencies of misery on the planet ever since.

Gloomy about more or less everything, I fell to browsing in Lenin's "Left-Wing" Communism, an Infantile Disorder, a pamphlet in which the old extremist was letting himself go on the period of reaction following the failure of the democratic revolution of 1905:

Tsarism was victorious. All the revolutionary and opposition parties were smashed. Depression, demoralization, splits, discord, defection, and pornography took the place of politics. There was an ever greater drift towards philosophical idealism; mysticism became the garb of counterrevolutionary sentiments.

At the same time, however, it was this great defeat the taught the revolutionary parties and the revolutionary class a real and very useful lesson....It is at moments of need that one learns who one's friends are. Defeated armies learn their lesson.

While I was mulling over whether Lenin had been optimistic about losing armies' capacity to learn, Jim Britell called up.

Britell is a defender of America's remaining ancient forests. He's based in Port Orford, Oregon, at the Kalmiopsis chapter of the Audubon Society.

"So the labor unions took a beating on NAFTA," Britell said, "Now remember, these unions singled out our environmental champions in the late election and wiped them out. Take [former Democratic Representative] Jim Jontz. They went to Indiana and actively raised money and campaigned against him. They made him out to be an enemy of workers. Where he lost votes was in heavy union precints.

"And why was Jontz supposed to be an enemy of workers? Because he was trying to save old-growth forest, and the unions basically promoted the idea that anyone who doesn't want to liquidate ancient forests is an enemy of the people, and particularly a mortal enemy of the woodworker unions, most especially the Carpenters."

Indeed, Jontz went down last November by a scant 1 percent of the vote, and his seat was taken by a conservative Republican.

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