An Interview with Samir
MRZINE: In your essay in the
November 2004 Monthly Review entitled, "U.S. Imperialism Europe and the
Middle East," you conclude that, "Europe will be of left, the term 'left' being
taken seriously, or will not be at all." As opposed to the views of almost
all U.S. and U.K. commentators, are not then the "non" in France and the "nee"
in the Netherlands, a giant step towards Europe, and what are the
critical factors for further positive developments?
AMIN: Yes, I believe that the "non" and the
"nee" is a step towards Europe, probably not a giant step, a first step.
It opens possibilities. It doesn't guarantee it. Why is that
Because the so-called European Project has
been until now and is still a project based on two fundamental choices:
One, liberalism, economic liberalism, even neoliberalism, even extreme
neoliberalism in the present circumstances, and second, Atlanticism, that is
solidarity, full solidarity, between the ruling class of Europe and the ruling
class of the United States.
Now, that being so, this project is, of
course, not able to meet the demands of the working classes, nowhere in Europe,
neither in Western Europe or in new Eastern Europe.
Therefore, this project had to be challenged
and challenged really fundamentally. It is shameful that the electoral
majority of the left as it has been until now has accepted the project as it is,
that is a liberal and Atlanticist project.
But there is now a reaction of the people of
Europe and this first reaction was, for the first time in the long time since
the beginning of the project, expressed very, very clearly.
The French "non" is clearly anti-liberal and
to a large extent also, even if a little less, anti-Atlanticist. And,
therefore, it opens indeed the road to rebuilding another Europe.
The European social movement in its demands
have been questioning "Europe" and saying that we want another Europe,
a social Europe, a democratic Europe, etc., but all that was very vague. They
did not until now have a very clear stand about the conditions for having
another Europe, a better Europe, one that is moving out from liberalism and then
completely out of it.
Iím not saying out of capitalism. Itís
much more complicated, but out of liberalism; that is moving towards a regulated
and strongly regulated capitalism based on a new balance of power between the
working classes and capital.
Now, this is would be a giant step forward
towards another Europe. I have been following it closely and only
yesterday evening I was attending a very important European meeting in Paris
where representatives of a very large and wide variety of life, including a
majority of social democrats and socialists, expressed very enthusiastically
that conditions are being now created for the coming together of the left in
Europe, or part of the left at least, towards another Europe.
Now, the critical factors, there are many,
and it's not going to be easy, it's going to be a long struggle, a long rough
struggle. It's not something which is going to change within the coming
weeks; because I do not expect anything from the ruling classes in Europe,
whether west or east and whether they are the traditional right or the majority
of the electoral left as it presently exists. I do not expect from them that
they would move towards contributing to building another Europe. They are
They are the opponents to it and they will
maneuver with efficiency to a certain extent. Moreover, the various
objective interests of the various segments of the working classes, whether
within each of the European countries or between the European countries are not
so similar that it is easy to bring together a common front.
That is going to take long time.
the same essay you mention that the current moment of the reunification of the
world market, extended to the whole planet with the Soviet collapse, is unlikely
to have a better fate than the 1860-1880 moment of global free trade under
So do you think that today the high tide of the
imperialism of the liberal virus has been reached? And if it has been reached,
why does it seem to still have such power among the East Asian, particularly the
AMIN: Yes, I donít know really if we have reached the level of
the high tide being over but I feel so; and I think that at least we are not far
The proof of it is, indeed, for instance,
the "non" in Europe because it's not only "non" and "nee" in France and
the Netherlands. The "yes" which was from Germany, Italy, Spain and so on was
without any democratic debate and it is now clear that with any
democratic debate, it would have been rather "no."
And so that is an indication that the high
tide of the neo-liberal, the liberal virus, has been reached. Now, does it
really exercise a large, such a large power among the East Asian ruling classes
and particularly, the Chinese one?
I donít know. There is a lot of
hypocrisy in that. Indeed, for a variety of reasons, internal and
international -- internal, that is to offer a common front vis-a-vis their own
working classes -- they need to continue to say that, well, capitalism is the
only road for serious development, and also because they are so-called emergent
powers in the global system, they have high hopes and goals and so on. They feel
that they can negotiate within that global system more or less as it is to a
better position. So they have to continue to make as if they are
But I donít think that they are so deeply
believing . . . they are very pragmatic people but, but in the good and the bad
sense of the word, eh?
AMIN: Which means that they are more
nationalist in fact that they are neo-liberal. They are, in a way I would
say they are closer to the U.S. ruling class which apparently is neo-liberal for
the others but can be very nationalistic when their own interests are in
So they are very nationalistic.
Whether they will move out of neo-liberalism, I think they will have to, they
will move gradually out of it for two reasons.
One is that they will find more and more
difficulties with the global system as it is and second, because they will be
unable to get strong internal support of the working people, of the industrial
working class and of the majority of the peasants.
And, therefore, they will be compelled in
one way or another to make concessions and to move gradually out of the, of the
high tide of the liberal virus.
MRZINE: Speaking of the Chinese, the
current situation, the status quo between the U.S. and China and Japan -- which
are the two largest creditors of the United States, Japan in particular is a
gigantic creditor -- shows some strains.
Many people have pointed out that extending the current
trends results in absurdity. The U.S. would absorb the entire savings of
the world in a few years if you extend the trends.
How do you see the likely possible developments of this
AMIN: Yes. I think that this position cannot
be maintained for a long time, meaning that countries which are lending money to
the U.S. on such a large scale will be compelled to revise their policies and
to, to stop this outflow of capital to the benefit of the U.S.
Now, in the past, Japan was more or less
compelled to do so because Japan needed in the past the U.S. protection against
China and the Soviet Union and because it had no capacity to negotiate the
conditions for that, that protection, but things are different today.
China has moved into this position of a
large creditor, including creditor of the U.S., not because it was compelled to
do so, it has chosen to do so. It has chosen to do so because it's a way for
them to have, or so they think, to have a say in the global system, to have
means of pressure over the major player in the global system, the U.S. But
I think it has moved too far now for them, and they will not continue to do
But they are not the only one. Europe
also to a certain extent is a lender to the United States and even the poorest
countries, even the countries of the south in general and particularly the
Well, all those people put their excess
money, I would say, in the U.S. because they in one way or another believe that
the U.S. is in the last resort the protector of capitalism at the global level
and it's the safest country.
But I think that they will realize more and
more that this has limits and it's not the safest country for their own
money. For instance, the oil countries, which are politically and
militarily weak countries in the global system, Iím thinking particularly of the
countries of the Gulf of course, they will realize that their money put in the
U.S. is completely lost for them.
And so I think this is bound to lead to an
increasing tension between the United States on the one hand and I would say the
rest of the world to various extent on the other hand.
Now, it is precisely because of an awareness
of this coming, growing, tension that the ruling class of the U.S. have decided
to try to establish a military control over the planet and particularly over
these resources of oil in the Middle East -- the expanded Middle East, including
Central Asia, etc -- because this ruling class thinks that this is the way of
putting themselves in such a dominant position through military control that
they would "compel" the rest of the world to continue supporting -- covering the
deficit of the -- trade balance of the U.S.
But I think that this military plan is
starting to fail. The proof of it is in Iraq, of course, and therefore
that this is bound to lead, indeed, to an increasing tension.
This, associated with what is happening in
Europe, that is Europe or tendencies within the Europe left and peoples to move
out of Atlanticism, of liberalism and Atlanticism, will lead to an increasing
tension and will compel the U.S. ruling class at some point in time to accept,
to be a partner in the global system but not the hegemonic one.
MRZINE: Speaking of Iraq then,
there's a problem that's been posed again and again for opponents of the U.S.
war on Iraq, even the best-intentioned ones.
They are very frequently intimidated or silenced by the
charge that supporting the Iraqi resistance means giving support to the most
reactionary elements of political Islam.
What advice would you give to opponents of the U.S. war
on Iraq when they're faced with this contradiction?
AMIN: Well, I believe just exactly the
opposite. It is by not supporting the Iraqi resistance that one
is giving more chance to the most reactionary elements, political Islam; because
as long as the victims of the U.S. aggression and particularly the Iraqi ones,
feel that they are alone, that is that they are not supported, strongly
supported by everybody in the world, including by the people of the United
States, then that reinforces the reactionary tendencies within Iraq and
elsewhere to say: "Look, they are always all against us. There is no
chance of being understood and, and, therefore, we must fight on a radical
I hear that every day in the Arab
countries. On the other hand, if the support to the Iraqi resistance, as
it is, is complete unconditional support; that is condemning and asking
the U.S. to go home, asking for the U.S. to leave the country, that would give
more chance to the democratic forces which do exist in Iraq and
elsewhere in the Arab world because they would say, look, we are not alone,
people are understanding what we are demanding, etc.
So I think that one should not accept this
intimidation, in fact it's the opposite, as I just said.
MRZINE: So at
this moment, with some hope of global response to the neoliberal dominance, to
the "pensée unique," to the black night that we went through in the last decade,
what do you see as the possibilities and the limits of using the Internet and
the Web to begin a return to anti-imperialist global politics on a larger scale,
and do you have any advice for us at MR as we begin this MR Webzine with daily
comment and daily new material, as if it were a journal or a daily
We do need some advice, I'm afraid, so I'd just really
like to know what you'd have to say.
AMIN: Well, I have to say I support the
initiative. I think it's very important because I feel more and more that
a growing number of youth, particularly youth and not only in the rich countries
but also in other countries, in poorer country, I see it in Africa, in the Arab
world and so on, are using the Internet a lot.
They are reading more on Internet than
reading newspapers, magazines and so on. And there are other examples for
action. I mean there was the famous example of Seattle, which was
organized through networking over the Internet, but that was in North America
Now there was also this campaign for the
"non" in France. Because the media were awful and the media of course were
totally on the side of the "yes," so it is to a large extent through the web,
through the websites, that a lot of arguments have been developed and were
reproduced, distributed and so on, so it's a very, very, very strong and
Of course I think that first the site must
be different from the magazine with its long arguments. It's just as we
had now in this chat, short answers to simple questions or to direct
But this does not do away with the need also
for in-depth analysis, of course, which can only be done as in MR magazine and
books and so on; but it is a very powerful complimentary tool.
I'm saying it's more important today than
newspapers. The youth and many of the people do not read newspapers
anymore or just the headlines, if there are headlines, for important news, but
they are surfing over the net.
Now, I think that it can be a tool for
organizing or for contributing to the organization of wider campaigns. I
can see that precisely because you are based in the U.S. and that's very
important. An anti-imperialist initiative starting from there, from your place,
would have an enormous echo and a favorable and strong one and
I mean a demand for, as Iím labeling it,
"U.S. go home" from our point of view is "U.S. come back home" for
your own people. Giving the arguments and giving the facts, there are
so many facts for this argument, that it can be put strongly and easily. But
also giving the arguments in short sentences, and not repeating the same thing
everyday but renewing the message and establishing through it contacts who would
provide you with more information, more analysis, more views and so
That is very, very important. I can
see also other campaigns, of course. I can see, for instance, a campaign
in Europe. It will start on websites in Europe, many websites, because
there are many languages for the campaign for another Europe that is clearly
anti-liberal and clearly anti-Atlanticist. That's very important. So you
could be connected with that because, of course, the campaign for an
anti-Atlanticist Europe is not "anti-American," it's not against the
American people. It's in fact the opposite. It's in favor of the American
people but clearly against the ruling class of the U.S. as well as against their
own European ruling classes.
So there can be a lot of initiatives which
would find the websites, such as the new MRZINE, a good tool, a strong
MRZINE: Well, thanks very much. This is
exactly the message we hope to send. So it's perfect, and thanks for
taking the time.