Raya Dunayevskaya 1959
Source: News & Letters, October 1959. This piece appeared as Dunayevskaya’s regular column, “Two Worlds”;
Transcribed: by Kevin Michaels.
The show is over. The unprecedented TV, radio, and press coverage of Khrushchev’s visit faded into the stillness of Camp David, where secret arrangements between two such great warlords as Eisenhower and Khrushchev would not be open to mass media coverage. Then, the whole circus tent was taken down.
The official communique from Camp David carried almost as frigid an air after, as before, the well publicized thaw. Nothing but “clarification” of the two opposing positions seems to have been achieved on the question that brought about the crisis in the first place: Berlin. But that is only because another show, more sinister than the one on TV, has to be put on for the benefit of the independence of “allies,” especially West Germany.
The main reason that Khrushchev first concocted the Berlin crisis – trade in America – is also being played in a low key and first will be given to experts to see what Russia will pay for its Lend-Lease debt. Finally, still another show, this time for Eisenhower, has been put off until Spring, with the homey statement on the part of Khrushchev that it would be easier for the Eisenhower grandchildren to accompany him then.
But all these are appearances. Of course the Berlin crisis could not be “resolved” – because the two contenders for world power have no intention of doing anything but prepare for the holocaust of World War III. But meanwhile – while the missile became so operational that each side is sure it is the other that will be annihilated in the struggle for world domination – we will have “peace,” and trade. The biggest victory was won by that part of Big Business which wishes to do business with Russia.
And this contains the greatest of all threats to the American working class, for the simple reason that at the base of the “doing business with Khrushchev” is the pressure to do as Khrushchev does to his workers. Let us not forget that the biggest “insult” to Eisenhower came not from a “foreigner” but from his own golf playmates – Big Industry, specifically Steel.
Here was the President of the United States, the most powerful single ruler in the whole world, wishing to show off the steel industry to his most potent rival, Russia, and willing to invoke the Taft-Hartley Act to get the workers back to the mills – and the steel industry, feeling it had not yet succeeded in compelling submission on the part of its workers, said, “NO!” The “No” was loud and clear and insulting, but Eisenhower chose to obey it because his capitalist mentality agreed that the American workers must be chained to the machine and factory management.
Returning to these class fundamentals also illuminates the other side of this state-capitalist world, Russia – and ensures that we do not forget that Khrushchev came here not because all was well at home, but because it wasn’t.
If the Russian workers had meekly accepted the Khrushchev 7-Year Plan with its impossible goals of increased labor productivity, instead of having been so ingenious in their slowdown, Russia would have achieved what it wanted, and would not have had to come begging for trade with the country it is supposedly well on the way to “surpassing.”
If the Russian peasantry had been eager to obey quotas and over-reach them, instead of having been so ingenious in its resistance to them, Russia, technologically capable of reaching the moon, would not have been so technologically backward in its agriculture that it had to have its Number One Man go to praise Iowa corn and Midwest cattle and eat hot dogs, without vodka, to boot.
If the Russian youth were not so restive and frustrated that the new society that has been promised them for three decades but which they haven’t yet seen, then Khrushchev might have addressed himself to them instead of to his best friends – the American capitalist class.
Usurping the Banner of Marxism
Khrushchev, however, has one advantage none of the other capitalist rulers have – he is traveling under the usurped banner of Marxism, although Communist totalitarianism is the exact opposite of that great banner of liberation. Indeed, the stupidities of the State Department are nowhere seen so clearly as in the fact that they thought their image of socialism with horns would keep the American masses “in place.” It is clear, instead, that they have a very different public to deal with since the visit of that master showman, Khrushchev – not because his hands are bloody, which they are – but because he has usurped the banner of Marxism and knows how to expose the other capitalists’ war-mongering so that the great desire for peace on the part of the peoples seems answered. And Khrushchev isn’t limiting his peace overture to America.
From the United States to Algeria, from China to Germany, from France to South America, the one theme Russia is playing now is “peace.” Even reaching the moon was played down for “peace,” as if all along they aren’t testing the thrusts, not for scientific space exploration, but for war weapons to hurtle across continents and threaten the very existence of mankind. And the people are just supposed to sit with folded arms, peacefully forget their class struggle, and be drowned in illusions of peace!
But – just as the steel workers have refused to be cowed, although their stomach are getting pretty empty, and just as all workers, American and European and African, refuse to separate their fight for bread from that for freedom – so the workers in each country on each side of the Atlantic, will prove to be the real antagonists against these hypocritical state-capitalist leaders. Until that struggle is settled, no others can be – because all the others only lead back to the same old exploitative society.