From Class War To Cold War

Post WWII, the USSR and the USA famously engaged in the Cold War, in which they both amassed nuclear stockpiles and weapons; one doing so out of self defense, and one to blow the world up multiple times over for the fear of communism spreading. Siegelbaum describes the typical definition of the Cold War, which was “defined as the rivalry for world domination between East and West, that is, between the Soviet bloc on the one hand and the American-dominated “Free World” on the other, that was fought on many fronts — ideological, political, economic, military, and cultural — in the aftermath of the Second World War.” The main point being world domination, despite having two entirely different meanings for the two countries, that was often described about the two powers butting heads in competition of it. For America as the new hegemonic capitalist power it emerged from WWII as, and the USSR as the hegemonic socialist power it had been refortified during WWII as, they clearly had missions that ran counter to each other’s. In order for the USSR and socialism to succeed, helping revolution occur in other countries and establishing socialism there was not only to its benefit for trade, and commerce with said countries, but one that liberated the people of those countries. For America, capitalism as a global force not only needed to expand, but take down socialist governments in its way in order to maintain and reinforce the rule of capital.


America, time after time, has sabotaged socialist governments in an effort to expand capital’s control over the world; one such example being Chile, in which a coup “led by Augusto Pinochet and supported by the United States — overthrew the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende” by creating chaos within Chile to influence the then seen politically-neutral military, and their future right-wing dictator, Pinochet, to lead them and take the state back for themselves, resulting in the construction of a truly neoliberal economy in a new budding era of capitalism. We see this repeated over and over with more on the list- Burkina Faso, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Cuba in attempt, and many more.


Siegelbaum also describe the liberal, or orthodox view that the Cold War was provoked by “Soviet expansionism,” which was simply another way to take the agency away from the proletariat and communist or socialist parties of other countries that were fighting for liberation. It followed the same liberal viewpoint that critiqued Lenin’s conception of the Vanguard party from his seminal piece, What Is To Be Done?, despite his beliefs being that “leaders do not produce the mass movement… the mass movement produces its own leaders.” This same notion points to the USSR as leading the brooding masses of other potential socialist countries behind them, merely a tool to advance their own self-interests and nefarious plots; a definition better fitting of global capital that the US was fighting for. During this time, the Chicago Boys, a group of Chilean economists from the University of Chicago, were studying and attempting to create a new form, or era, of capitalism to take place that we know as neoliberalism. It was what capitalism as a global force embraced and reproduced, and was what was immediately implemented in place of post-socialist governments for many countries, including both Russia after the collapse of the USSR, and Chile as well after the coup. This new form of capitalism, as the name implies, was a return to neoclassical economics, but required state intervention to do so, which went hand-in-hand with the American forced destabilization of many socialist governments during this time.


While the world still suffers greatly due to the collapse of the USSR, the rise of neoliberalism out of the Cold War, and the looming presence of finance capital’s newly made global strength, many socialists have been at a loss for what comes next. One can only conclude that if the hegemonic power of socialism has died due to the hegemonic power of capitalism striking it down, then that same base of capitalism must also be struck, then become the new base of socialism in order for it to triumph once more, and one last time.


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