Socialism and Reality in Central Americanby Geoffrey WagnernIt is good also not to try experiments in states.n— Francis BaconnImperial State and Revolution:nThe United States and Cuba,n1952-1986 hy Morris H. Morley,nNew York: Cambridge UniversitynPress.nThe Grand Strategy of the UnitednStates in Latin America by Tom J.nFarer, New Brunswick, NJ:nTransaction Books.nThe Bear in the Backyard:nMoscow’s Caribbean Strategy bynTimothy Ashby, Lexington, MA:nLexington Books.nAs a term, imperialism underwent annumber of visions and revisions atnthe turn of the century when the factnitself was receding. There was BernardnBosanquet’s British interpretation and,nin France, the Baron de la Seilliere’snmultivolume opus. Such were radicallynredefined by Lenin in 1916 and it isnfrom one of his pockets that MorrisnMorley’s brick of a book emerges (128npages of small-print footnotes, and ifnthe author read every entry in hisnbibliography he can have done littlenelse in life). The whole churns out ofnthe graduate carrels of the Departmentnof Sociology of the State University ofnNew York at Binghampton. I have longnfelt that doctoral dissertations shouldnbe franked with readership warnings —nTHIS BOOK MAY BE HAZARD­nOUS TO YOUR INSOMNIA—andnMorley’s is predictably leaden readingnof the kind accomplished with grittednteeth, holding hard to the arms of one’snchair. One chews at a sofa bed whoseninfrastructure is this:nThe US government, conceivednof as the imperial state, isnviewed as the engine of anGeoffrey Wagner’s latest book, RednCalypso, is a study of Cubannadventurism in the Caribbean.nworldwide system of capitalnaccumulation …. Thenimperial state does not functionnon the basis of its own innernlogic, but responds to theninterests and demands ofncapitalists seeking to movencapital abroad and to pursuenaccumulation … it seeks tonmaintain and, if necessary,nrecreate (by destabilizingnpolitical regimes, by electoralnintervention) the optimalnenvironment for capitalnaccumulation and expansion innparticular Third World societies.nWhich is to say that since America hasnnever had an empire, nor acquirednterritories of late, you can only call itnimperial, by Orwellian law and Leninistnpraxis, in view of its virtue (or vice) ofncapital accumulation. This sophistry isnconvenient, since not only does it ducknnnRussian land or proxy possession, it cannindict every aspect and agency of thenUS government, down to the Departmentnof Commerce (guilty of promotingnour exports). For these agenciesncreate a “universe within which multinationalncapital operates” and capitalnexport is here seen as invariably “economic,ncoercive, and ideological” (despitenextra-American global factors).nLend someone money and it is taintednwith ideological pressures (tell that tonCitibank of its lost African and SouthnAmerican loans). In fact, America isnconsidered heartiessly stingy when itndoes not scatter dollars abroad andnbrutal when it calls in its debts.nMorley substantiates his theory byninstancing American economic coercionnof, chiefly, Cuba. From the downfallnof the second Batista presidency on,nhis documentation is very thorough andnshows, as expected, case after case ofnmissed American opportunities. Therenis bias in the presentation — not allnCubans would agree that Castro’s 1959ncourts carried out a “relatively limitednnumber of executions,” while Fidel’snadventures in Angola and Grenada arenserved up through Cuban sources (quitenincorrect in the latter case); but by thenDECEMBER 1988/27n