VODKA COLA by Charles Levinson


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The fortunes of economic detente have fared better than those of its political counterpart. Levinson, an international union official, sets out to analyze the nature and effects of this increased economic interplay. The opening chapters explain that while the USSR is in need of western technology and technical and managerial competency, the capitalist world--and particularly its multinational component--has long had an eye on the potentially enormous consumer goods market in the Soviet bloc, and, more significantly, has also come to appreciate the low-cost, strike-free labor available there. Levinson describes the system of trade and credit established to get around the problem presented by the USSR's absence from the world money market--the ruble is not convertible--and which has worked to the benefit of western Communist parties who control the east-west import/export business. So Pepsi and Fiat establish plants with imported technology in the east, and the west buys Russian vodka, all mediated through governmental deals. So far so good, but Levinson soon loosens up and begins spinning a breathless tale of conspiracy and manipulation. Without providing a shred of annotated documentation amid a forest of ""facts,"" he exploits any connection he can find between individuals to build a paper model of a western world thoroughly controlled by the Rockefellers, Agnellis, et al. through their multinationals, foundations, study groups, and links with the Mafia (Lansky and Nixon figure in here). No one is safe--Herbert Marcuse is smeared for accepting a Rockefeller Foundation grant, while Noam Chomsky is similarly attacked for not quitting MIT, ""the Pentagon's real factory."" On all counts Levinson's credibility is undermined by a mass of small mistakes; e.g., the leftist Institute for Policy Studies, co-directed by Marcus Raskin and Richard Barnet becomes the Institute for Political Studies, run by Rasin and the imaginary Richard Kauffman. All of this has little to do with anything. Guilt by association and find-the-culprit seldom do.

Pub Date: Sept. 18th, 1978
Publisher: Atheneum