Magazine article The Nation

Responses to Michael Massing; the U.S. Left and Nicaragua

Magazine article The Nation

Responses to Michael Massing; the U.S. Left and Nicaragua

Article excerpt

Michael Massing has the ability to hold seemingly contradictory ideas in his head, a talent that is essential for making sense of today's world. Intellectual honesty requires that opponents of U.S. intervention not slip into the role of apologists for revolutionary regimes merely because the revolutions are American targets. By the same token, the U.S. war on Nicaragua does not become acceptable because of the junta's mistreatment of Miskito Indians, censorship or coercive labor policies. Progressives in this country should not worry about "selling out" somebody else's revolution. They shouldn't buy it in the first place.

To defend the right of the Nicaraguan people to conduct their experiment in the face of the immoral, illegal and politically counterproductive campaign to destroy it is, in my view, an obligation of U.S. citizenship. This is especially so since a majority of the American people oppose the Reagan Administration's campaign to overthrow the Nicaraguan government. The U.S. counterrevolutionary war is designed to polarize Nicaraguan society further, to push the government to greater repression and thus to delegitimize the revolution. It is a strategy that invites the Nicaraguans to participate in their own destruction. They have resisted the temptation to a remarkable degree; I wish they had resisted more.

The problems revolutionary governments face, even in countries less impoverished and geopolitically hemmed in than Nicaragua, always result from an interaction of the hostile pressure that is invariably mounted against them and their own inexperience, dogma, wrongheadedness and fear. Of course such regimes should not be immune from criticism. The article correctly points out that there is criticism and debate inside Nicaragua. We who sympathize with regimes that seek to feed, educate, house and care for the majority, including the poorest, must hold them to at least the same standard of human rights that we apply to "authoritarian" regimes blessed by the Reagan Administration. …

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