The Menace of Trump's Alter Ego Bolsonaro in Brazil

Tulio: Robert, do you have any thoughts on Bolsanaro? Looks like Brazil is about to take a hard right turn toward fascism. Steven Bannon is down there advising him. The thought of that fucker makes me physically ill.

He’s a monster, of course. I had no idea that half of Brazil’s population were reactionary Rightist maniacs. He’s worse than Trump. I have met two Brazilian Rightists and they were out and out monsters. Both absolutely hated democracy. One was a Brazilian Jew and the other is the former commenter Santoculto.
They’re murderous, as bad as the Bolivian, Venezuelan, Salvadoran, and Nicaraguan Right. They’re not as murderous as the Haitian, Guatemalan, Honduran, and Colombian Right, but they definitely kill people. A Black woman who organized in the Brazilian favelas was recently murdered by the Right government that is in power now.
This Bolsonaro had as part of his project putting on trial and executing all of the former armed rebels from the 1960’s. He has the support of the reactionary military in that. Thing is though, the last president was a former urban guerrilla from the 1960’s and her government was full of former guerrillas, so he’s openly advocating the trial and execution of  most of the former government.

Crime in Venezuela

How do you think Venezuela will handle crime? its extremely rampant, like 3.5 worse than Russia.

It’s like that all over the whole region and no one can fix it there either. Venezuela has had a very high crime rate forever, long before Chavez came in. This is another problem that long predates him. Frankly, most of it is in the poor barrios, so most people are not effected. They tried a thousand things under Chavez to lower crime, but nothing worked. The Opposition won’t be able to get a handle on it either and all of the Opposition’s shenanigans have only made crime a lot worse.
How come no one talks about the crime rates in Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, and El Salvador? And in the Caribbean for that matter? They are all up there with Venezuela’s and no one can fix it in those places either. Once your crime rate gets really high, it is not such an easy thing to get a handle on.

The Success of America's Longstanding Propaganda War Against the Concept of Socialism

Socialism, the very concept, especially in its social democratic and democratic socialist varieties, is the ho-hum status quo on most of the planet.
The war on the very concept of socialism has probably been worse in the US than anywhere else in the West. It has a 3rd World death squad tinpot dictatorship feel about it. I keep wondering when the rightwing death squads are going to show up in the US. They show up everywhere else in states with a US-style reactionary and Left-hating culture.
The difference between the US war on socialism and the war on socialism waged in various death squad democracies is that the war on socialism has been more successful in the US than anywhere else on Earth other than Colombia, but the Left is armed to the teeth there. The war on socialism was just as bad if not worse due to the death squads and all of the imprisonments, beatings, tortures, murders and genocides all over Latin America and in the Philippines and Indonesia.
These countries differ from the US however in that all those Latin American countries and SE Asian countries have gone Left in recent years.
Even in the Philippines, Duterte calls himself a socialist and had friendly relations with the Maoist NPA  guerrillas when he held office in Mindanao.
In Indonesia, the female elected President recently ran on a socialist ticket.
To the south, Mexico has been officially socialist since the Revolution. The Left in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Colombia, Peru, and Argentina was armed to teeth and fought vicious wars against reactionary regimes. That has to count for something.
In El Salvador, the former Left guerrillas are now running the country.
In Honduras, a leftwinger was recently elected President only to be ousted in a coup sponsored by the CIA and Hillary Clinton.
Nicaragua of course had a successful Leftist revolution, and those revolutionaries have been holding office now there for quite some time.
Haiti elected a Leftist in Jean Bertrande Aristide, only to be ousted by Bush Administration officials via a contra death squad army from the Dominican Republic. Aristide himself was arrested at gunpoint in his mansion by armed Blackwater mercenaries acting under the command of the Pentagon.
A number of the island states in the Caribbean have gone Left in recent years and most were members of the Chavista Bolivarian Movement. Most political parties in the Caribbean have words like Left, Socialist, Workers, Progressive, etc. in their party names regardless of their ideology because any party that wants to get anywhere in the Caribbean has to at least dress  itself up in Left garb.
Grenada had a successful Leftist revolution that was subsequently overthrown on illegal grounds by Reagan.
Venezuela of course has been voting Leftist since 1999 when the Chavistas took power. They have never left.
In Ecuador, a Leftist, Rafael Correa, ruled for many years. Recently a man named Lenin Moreno ran on a Leftist ticket of continuing Correa’s Left reforms, but as soon as he got into office, he immediately shifted gears and went hard Right.
Right-wing parties run as fake Leftists all the time in Latin America because generally rightwingers running on a rightwing agenda cannot get elected down there because most Latin Americans hate rightwingers and don’t want them in power. Hence the Right obtains power by contra wars and fascist mob violence in the streets, waging wars on economies and currencies, judicial, legislative, and military coups, and even open fraud.
The definition of conservatism is aristocratic rule. It is the antithesis of rule by the people or democratic rule.
The definition of liberalism is democratic rule by the people, not the aristocrats.
Not many Latin Americans want to be ruled by aristocrats, so the Right down there has to seize power by extra-democratic means.
The Opposition in Venezuela recently ran on an openly social democratic platform, but most people thought it was fake they would turn Right as soon as they got in.
In Brazil, the Left has been running the country for some time under the PT or Worker’s Party until it was removed by a rightwing legislature in an outrageous legislative coup. They even imprisoned a former president, Lula, on fake corruption charges. A female president was recently elected who was an armed urban guerrilla in the 1960’s.
In Paraguay, a Leftist former priest was elected President, only to be removed in an outrageous legislative coup.
In Chile, not only was Leftist Allende elected in the 70’s, the Left was not only armed  all through Pinochet’s rule and once came close to assassinating him. In recent years, a socialist named Michele Bachelet has won a number of elections.
In Bolivia, Leftist Evo Morales has been in power for a long time.
Uruguay recently elected a Leftist, a former armed urban guerrilla in the 1970’s.
Argentina recently elected two Leftist presidents, the Kirchner, a husband and wife. A rightwiger was recently elected after a rightwing Jewish billionaire named Singer obtained a court judgement against Argentina in a US court. That judgement bankrupted the economy, so you could say that the Right destroyed the economy in order to get elected.
So with the exception of Peru, Costa Rica, Panama, and the Guyanas, all other countries have since gone full Left at one time or another recently. Costa Rica’s already a social democracy, and Peru had an ultra-radical murderous Left for a very long time. Panama’s been reactionary since the CIA murdered Omar Torrijos by sabotaging his helicopter and killing him via a fake copter crash. The Dominican Republic and Jamaica have not gone Left since the 60’s and 70’s.
But the war on socialism has been so much more successful here in the US than even in the above named backwards countries because even the world norm of social democracy was so demonized here in the US that it never even got off the ground.
In some ways, the US is one of the most rightwing countries on Earth at least in terms of political economy.
 

Alt Left: Female Satisfaction and Women's Rights

A feminist criticized me for saying that women even under conditions of out and out femicide as in Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Colombia are not self-harming (because women don’t do that in those places) and in fact, seem happier than women in the West who have much more rights and are self-harming at a dramatic rate. She suggested that I was saying that women down there were happy to be living under conditions of femicide, but that’s not what I said.
I don’t think the women in those places should be happy due to conditions down there, but perhaps they think this woman-killing is more or less normal.
Women in those places don’t self-harm.
I’m not sure how they feel. The women in those places are pretty beaten down, submissive, etc. and are not used to standing up for themselves.  They’re pretty much resigned to living under patriarchy, and they think it’s just normal. I doubt if any women are happy to be living in a femicidal country. But the main reaction of women in these places seems to be fear more than anything else. I know they are frightened. And they definitely don’t go out at night. I have heard that in Guatemala nowadays, as soon as the sun goes down, all of the women vanish from the streets. Perhaps it is better than when my mother visited a long time ago during the Civil War. She said that back then, when night fell, everyone  left the streets and the streets were empty save for soldiers who literally stood on every corner.
I recall a recent article about a young Mexican woman who was an illegal immigrant but who had lived in the US for some time. She was deported back to Mexico, but only to Tijuana! I’ve been there more than once. They interviewed her and she said that after dark it was not safe for women to go outside due to the all of the violence against women. She said that it was so much safer in the US and that she could go out at night there.
In my mostly Hispanic town, I see Hispanic recent immigrant women (possibly illegal) around my neighborhood walking after dark from dusk to 10 PM. They look so happy to be doing that. It’s as if they are finally free! Compared to the femicidal Hell they come from, they probably feel like they are living in paradise of women’s rights.

Alt Left: Why the Rise in Self-Harm among Young Females in the West?

There is a surge in self-harming among young women in the West. One figure showed that 25% of 14 year old girls were self-harming.
Feminists argue that it is the viciousness of patriarchy in the West, the prevalence of misogynistic pornography, and the endless microaggressions that young females in the West face every day in their viciously woman-hating societies.
Ok, nice theory. But even if one acknowledges that patriarchy exists or existed, isn’t it obvious that the very vilest and most extreme versions of patriarchy (but normal in a historical context) exist in other parts of the world like Arab and Islamic World, India, Black Africa, and Latin America? Women are treated an order of magnitude worse there than in the West, where at the very least huge holes have been smashed in patriarchy, and personally I think what’s left is more like remains than a coherent hole.
In the areas where patriarchy has been dealt a serious blow and is much weaker, girls and women are cutting themselves and self-harming.
In the areas where patriarchy is alive and well, and women are seriously oppressed even to the point of femicide (Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Colombia), no women are self-harming at all. In fact, they often seem quite happy.
Now how is this self-harming caused by male oppression when it is occurring in the places where such oppression is the lowest, and women have the most freedom and power?
I work in mental health and I am not even sure we know why females self-harm.
As far as porn destroying the self-images of young women and causing them to self-harm, I assure you that young women nowadays are literally growing up watching porn, I mean from age 13 on. They loved to watch it as teenagers, and they love to watch it now. I know this because I talk to young women quite a bit, even underage girls, and I still date young women all the way down 18 and 19 year old girls. And I am 60 years old.

More Support for My Theories about Hispanic Intelligence, Culture, Etc.

I would however say that this mostly applies to Mexican-Americans. I am not even sure if it applies to Mexicans in Mexico because there is actually a High Culture in Mexico. In Mexico City there is opera and the main paper has a large book review section every week. In other words, a true highbrow intellectual culture, right in the heart of Mexico. It goes without saying that the members of this highbrow culture are White or a lot Whiter than average Mexicans. But in Mexico, White and people involved in highbrow White Mexican culture extends all the way down to 60-70% White. These people have an idea of lowbrow culture as being “naco.” Naco is also associated with quite a bit of Indian blood. In Mexico, it’s not whether you have Indian blood or not. It’s more a matter of just how much Indian blood you have. I have never thought that Indians were particularly dangerous. Even the racist Latin American Whites that I read on Stormfront (I read 1,000 pages of their threads) said that Indians were fairly harmless. They said that they could get loud, rude and verbally violent, but it didn’t often expand beyond that. One said, “You have give an Indian a handful of tortillas and a six pack, and he’s good for the night. He goes off quietly and you never hear from him again.” On the other hand these Latin American Whites were scathing in their views of Latin American Blacks, who they viewed as very violent and downright dangerous as Hell. It is interesting to note that in Latin America, the existing Blacks are often quite mixed with not only White but also Indian. The result – a White – Indian – Black mix like Hugo Chavez and many others in the far north and the east of Latin America (Venezuela,  Colombia and Brazil ) and the far south of Central America (Panama) and parts of the Caribbean (Puerto Rico) – is called a Zambo. This term is a source of some ridicule among Latin American Whites like Chileans or Peruvians (some of the worst Whites in Latin America) as a term for a mystery casserole of a human so badly mixed that they are nearly indescribable, but a lot of Zambos are quite beautiful. Cali, Colombia is a Zambo city and the women of Cali are said to be the most beautiful in all of Latin America.
The high culture of Mexico City compares starkly with the rest of Mexico.
Your typical Mexican mestizo is a pretty lowbrow person – he’s probably never read a book in his life nor does he wish to. Nevertheless, even the lowliest cook in a corner market knows how to read and write. They definitely teach you that in Mexican schools and most Mexicans have been to school.
And most Mexicans from Mexico,  even a lowly corner cook like I mentioned, know something about Mexican history – the Civil War of course and even the clerical contra rebellion afterwards ~1930 that most Americans have never heard of. Every Mexican knows who Emilio Zapata and Benito Juarez are. I was stunned at how many of these very uneducated people had even heard of Frieda Kahlo. How many Americans know who she was?
How many Chicanos know even a parallel basics of US 20th Century history? And you will never meet a Mexican-American who knows who Frieda Kahlo is nor do they care to find out.
Beyond that, we descend even lower to Mexican Indians, who not only don’t read books but may not even know what a book is. Mestizos believe in some strange saints in their profoundly syncretic Catholicism, but when you get out to the Indian villages, people actually still believe in witches. As you can see, the descent from High Culture down to beyond lowbrow is a steep one indeed. You will nearly break a leg walking too quickly down that slope.
The South Americans I have met in the US are not so anti-intellectual as the Chicanos below. South America after all has a much better High Culture than Mesoamerica. South American High Culture is so intact because the culture of Spain still lingers down there to a great degree while it has nearly vanished from Mesoamerica. I have talked to rich people in Lima and Bogota who literally spent half the year in Spain. Literally.
I had an Argentine girlfriend once. She often called me Senor instead of my first name (imagine an American girlfriend routinely referring to you as sir) and was in stunned awe of the fact that I was an hombre de letras or a “man of letters.” Intellectualism is a big deal in Argentina.
The Salvadorans and Nicaraguans I have met in the US were highly politicized, and I was shocked at how smart they were. You think you are dealing with another “ignorant Mexican in a mini-mart” until you start them off on politics, and they start rattling away and soon leave you in the dust. Every Salvadoran I have ever met has heard of La Matanza (The Massacre), and that happened in 1932. And I’ve not met one yet who could not tell me who Farabundo Marti was (see La Matanza above).  How many Americans know who Farabundo Marti was?
Most Americans don’t have the slightest idea what either of those things are. It just goes to show that you can take a society with an IQ like Chicanos and supercharge them politically and possibly even culturally if the objective conditions are right. The Colombians, Peruvians, and Chileans I met here and outside the US (not to mention the Argentine woman) had a shockingly deep knowledge of politics for an ordinary person, and the Latin Americans were often as learned as a Spaniard or at least wished to be.
How many Americans know who Tupac Amaro was? But the young Peruvian woman I knew all about him and even knew quite a bit about his wife, who is a proto-feminist hero down there to some mestiza and indigena women..
I never asked her who Jose Carlos Mariategui was, but I am sure she could have told me all about him too. Another Peruvian woman I met knew all about Jose Arguedas and his famous novel The Fox Above and Below, which ties in with Mariategui, if you think about it. Arguedas was one of the most famous figures in Peruvian literature and his own daughter, incredibly enough, sat on the central committee of the Shining Path. Sendero was about indigenismo and to a lesser extent feminismo than anything else.
They even his name in the formal long name of their group – El Partido Comunista del Peru en la luz del pasado sendero luminoso del Jose Carlos Mariategui or The Communist Party of Peru in the Light of the Shining Path of Jose Carlos Mariategui.
Here is a recent comment from a half-Mexican American who agrees with most everything I have said about these people.

As a half-Hispanic raised with Hispanics, I mostly agree with this. My Mexican mother who immigrated illegally to the US paid tens of thousands for in-vitro fertilization, and that’s what pulled me out the ditch. This was evidently high-quality sperm because I still managed to turn out above average.
The people around me were impressed that I actually liked to read and learn. When I was young, the other Hispanics were amused that I could memorize the times tables and recite miscellanea about science and history, besides being capable of drawing dragons properly.
To give you context, my mother has been living in the US for over 25 years, and still does not understand a drop of English. They have a culture which consists of strong work-ethic (never missing a day of work and so on) followed by self-induced brain death post 9-to-5. They just watch mindless television and do not learn.
I discovered my own origins at the age of ten. I also achieved standard atheism at the age of nine (which I consider a standard benchmark for the ability to display rudimentary acts of rationality.) Then it took me years of hard work to unwire all the Catholic stupidity in my mother’s brain. This culture has no concept of logical reasoning, so her mind kept swinging in repetitive loops whenever I tried to carefully and methodically pin her down to the implications of specific arguments.
I succeeded in that endeavor, and am now in the process of teaching her where she is actually standing by explaining the crucial insights of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. People may laugh at the fact that she didn’t know the Earth was a sphere orbiting the sun, but yet most ‘educated’ humans alive today are just as ignorant about reality. For example, by not knowing that there is no universal now sweeping forward, or by holding the belief that we are made of little billiard ball particles bouncing around.
In my experience, whites at least fake like they want to learn. They’ll say “Oh yeah, that’s cool. Schrodinger’s cat is dead and alive… lol… because it’s all probabilistic, hur dur” or something. Of course, they don’t know jack-shit and also prefer to consume mindless media, but their culture says it’s okay to be smart. Hispanics just don’t give a shit. A lack of intellectual culture is their biggest setback.
The ghetto lower-middle income schools I went to were torture. The kids couldn’t do basic algebra; the teachers were underachieving whites who couldn’t get higher paying jobs in other districts or who preferred having less responsibility because black and hispanic parents wouldn’t bitch to them about grades, or have any expectations whatsoever really. And the teachers made no secret about this, they outright told us this was the reason.
Also, what you say about Mexicans bringing Mexico is absolutely true. I stayed in La Villita when I went to university in Chicago because some kind family members we barely knew were willing to rent super cheap. As I walked through the dirty streets past yet another leather boot store blasting trumpet music I almost felt ashamed, like ‘How could Mexicans escape to a new country and yet prefer to make it Mexico again?”

The Rich Only Support Democracy when the Elected State Serves their Class Interests, Otherwise They Try to Overthrow It

Zamfir: Thanks Robert. I appreciate the site, and it’s nice to feel welcome.
Obviously one problem in discussing this is that terms like ‘left’ and ‘right’ or ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ have been given all kinds of different meanings. If economic conservatism is identified with free market ideology then I’m pretty ambivalent about that, at best. And if it’s identified with support for whatever this internationalist economic system is that we have now, I’m against it.
I find it very weird that people who are conservative about social and cultural issues often support “economic conservatism” of that kind. It’s so clear that these things are incompatible! Anyway I certainly have no problem with socialism per se. I would only disagree with certain versions, or cases where I believe socialism ends up being destructive of healthy families and cultures (in much the same way that capitalism can be).
As for democracy I’m not sure what I think about it. I think I’m a reactionary to the extent that I don’t believe that democracy, or any other specific system or procedure, is always good or always essential to a good society. My sense is that some democracies or kinds of democracy are fine, while others are really bad. It all depends on some many factors aside from the system or procedure itself.
I do want a society where the interests of most people, including the poor, are taken into account fairly. But I don’t see any reason why that could never happen in a non-democratic state. Or, more precisely, for anything that’s good about some democracies, I don’t see why certain non-democratic regimes couldn’t also have those good things; it would all depend on other factors such as the culture and history of the people, their typical behavior and beliefs, etc.
So I guess I’d support coups against democratic regimes in some cases–though things would have to be pretty bad–and also against non-democratic regimes in some cases. I don’t think coups are always bad. (In fact, that’s one thing that seems silly about a lot of rigid ‘conservative’ ideology–the wish to preserve order and the status quo no matter how terrible it’s become…)
You say the rich don’t support democracy. I wonder if that’s true. Maybe they don’t support the ideal of democracy, for the reasons you mentioned. But, again, bearing in mind the looseness of terminology here, they sure do seem to support systems that we normally call “democratic”. Is the US a democracy in your view?
Are England or Ireland or Canada democracies? If so, then I don’t agree that the rich never want democracy. My sense is that they long ago figured out how to manipulate these kinds of systems to get the results they want. They manage the perceptions and values of the masses so that they always end up “freely choosing” the same garbage that the elites wanted all along.
A good question is whether this is an inevitable feature of democracy. (I don’t know the answer.) It could be that in any feasible form of democracy, no matter how close it gets to the ideal, you end up with powerful interests rigging the process to maximize their own wealth and power. And I don’t like that, because I want the interests of ordinary people to be taken into account. Ironically, then, I’m skeptical about many forms of democracy because I think the masses deserve to have a say.
So I’d be against democracy in cases where ‘democratic’ systems are hijacked by elites and used against the people. That’s what’s happening in most of the western world, I’d say. Not to say I’d support a coup in this situation–and certainly not if the point of the coup was to install an even more extreme form of exploitation. But I’m not entirely sure what to say about democracy. I think the reactionary critique has merit. (But then, don’t communists also criticize democracy for roughly similar reasons?)

The Communist view is that seeking power peacefully would be a great idea except the ruling classes will never allow it to happen. They say that power never gives up without a fight, and I believe that they are correct. Nevertheless, most Communists support Venezuela, Nicaragua and only leftwing democratic countries. But the Communists would say, “Look what happens why you try to take power peacefully. You get Nicaragua, Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, Honduras, Haiti, and even Argentina.”
The ruling class will just overthrow the democratic Left state any way they can, always using anti-democratic means to do so. That’s why Lenin called people who supported the peaceful road to socialism “parliamentary cretins.” He thought it was a great idea but it would never work because the rich would never allow the Left to take power peacefully.
The Communist view is also that you never have democracy under capitalism anyway, as the capitalists and the rich always ending ruling the state one way or another through all sorts of means. And yes, the rich and the capitalists always take over all the media in any capitalist country as you said, they use it to shape the view of the people to support the class politics of the rich. Such support being called false consciousness.
Gramsci said that the ruling class took over the entire culture in capitalist countries and brainwashed the masses into supporting the project of the rich. They did this via cultural hegemony. Marx said that the culture of the rich is always the popular culture in any capitalist country. So the ruling class turns all of us into “little rich people” or “little capitalists” to support their project. They brainwash us into thinking we are the same class as the rich and that we are all capitalists ourselves, so we should support Capital. These are lies, but most Americans are easily fooled.
Ralph Nader called this “going corporate” or “thinking corporate.” He says that in the US, most people adopt the mindset of the corporations and think of themselves are part of the corporate structure whether they are or not. If everyone is part of the corporate structure, then what’s good for corporations is good for all of us, which is the project of the Republican Party, neoliberalism everywhere, the Latin American rich, etc. It’s a big fat lie, but people want to be rich and a lot of workers want to think of themselves are busy little capitalist money-making, go-getter, can-do, Bossterist entrepreneurs because it seems to cool to own your own business.
And the Communists would call this false consciousness and their argument would be that under capitalism, most people adopt false consciousness.
I think in the US, the rich see the tide coming and the rule of the rich is going to end so they want to lock in as much of the state as possible by stacking the courts, gutting the safety net, massive tax cuts that will be impossible to get rid of, and that Constitutional Convention they are two states away from getting where they want to rewrite the whole US Constitution to lock in rule by the rich for as long as possible. The rich see the writing on the wall. That’s why they came up with the computerized elections scam, so they could steal elections as long as people kept voting against the rich.
The gerrymandering of districts now makes it almost impossible to get rid of Republican majorities on state representatives in the House and in Senators and Assemblymen in the states. It’s all locked in.
So as the rich saw the tide turning and demographics moving against them, they instituted a full court press to do all sorts of extremely anti-democratic stuff to stay in power. If the people would just vote for them anyway, they would not have to do that, but apparently most Americans have now turned away from the politics of the rich, so the rich will have to lie, cheat, and steal to stay in power from now on.
Also they elected Donald Trump, by far the most corrupt, authoritarian and even outright fascist leader this country has ever had. And this follows too. Whenever there is a popular movement against the rich and the capitalists, the rich and the capitalists always, always, always resort of fascism to stay in power. This has been proven endlessly over time, even in Europe. Trotsky had some great things to say about this. Check out “Thermidor.” Trotsky truly understood what fascism was all about. It is a desperate last ditch move by the ruling class to seize power in the face of an uprising from the Left.
The rich and the capitalists are determined to stay in power, by hook or by crook, by any means necessary, and they will lie, cheat, steal and kill as many people as they have to just to keep the Left out of power. They simply will not allow the Left to rule. They must rule and if they are out of  power, they will use any antidemocratic means to get power back.
Which is the story of the CIA, the Pentagon and 100% of US foreign policy since 1945 and even before then. Read Samuel Butler.
I mean, we on the Left generally allow the Right to take power if they do so democratically. Sure they destroy everything like they always do, but most of us are committed to the democratic means of seeking power. Even most Communist parties will not take up arms against any rightwing government, saying they prefer to seek power by peaceful means. Typically, the CP will issue a statement that the nation is not in a revolutionary situation right now. There are objective conditions under which a nation is said to be in a revolutionary situation. I’m sure you can recall a few. It is then and only then that most CP’s will go underground and issue a call to take up arms.
Frankly, almost all Left insurgencies postwar were defensive. The Left allowed the Right to take power and then the Right started running around killing people. Usually the Left sat there for a while and let themselves get killed before taking up power. I know the Viet Cong just sat there from 1954-1960 while the rightwing Vietnamese government ran amok in the countryside, murdering 80,000 Communists in six years. They kept asking the North Vietnamese for permission to take up arms, but the North kept denying it.
The Colombian, Salvadoran and Guatemalan guerrillas only took up guns after the state had been running about murdering them unarmed for years. The Salvadoran guerrillas said they got tired of sitting in their homes waiting for the rightwing state to come kill them, and they decided that if the state was going to come kill them anyway, they might as well pick up a gun and defend themselves. They also took up arms because the Right kept stealing elections by fraud.
The Right had cut off all methods of seeking power peacefully, so the Left picked up guns. The message is if you elect a leftwing government, sooner or later the Right will overthrow it and then there will be a reign of terror where many Leftists will be murdered. Knowing that, if you were a Leftist in some country, would you not be afraid to put the Left in power knowing you stood a good chance of being murdered once the inevitable rightwing coup took place?
The Colombian and Honduran governments only stay in power by killing people. Lots of people. The Greek Communists only took up arms after the government had been killing them for some time.
Also once a Left government is overthrown by the rich and the capitalists, the new Rightist government institutes a reign of terror where they slaughter the defeated Left for many years. This went on for decades after 1954 in Guatemala, and it goes on still today. After Aristide was overthrown, the rightwing government murdered 3,000 of his supporters.
After Allende was overthrown, Pinochet murdered 15,000 people over a decade and a half. A threat from the Left prompted the Indonesian government to fake a Left coup and murder 1 million Communists in a couple of months. Even before the Korean War broke out, from 1948-1950, the South Korean government killed hundreds of thousands of Communists in the South.
As they withdrew when the North attacked, the South Koreans killed South Korean Communists everywhere they went. After the fascist coup in Argentina, the government decimated the Left, murdering 30,000 mostly unarmed supporters of the Left. The same thing happened in Bolivia with the Banzer Plan when Hugo Banzer took power after the tin miners briefly sought power. The new rightwing government in Brazil is already starting to murder members of the former Left ruling party. They’re not going to stop.
After the fascist coup in Ukraine, the Communist Party was outlawed and many of its members were murdered. War was declared on labor unions. Workers in one union were chained to a heater inside the building and the building was set on fire.
The party supported by half the population (the Russian speakers and their supporters) the Party of Regions, was outlawed, a number of its deputies were murdered and there were attempts to murder the leader of the party, lastly by setting his house on fire which set his neighbor’s house on fire instead. He fled to Russia. Now half the population and all of the Russian speakers had not party to represent them, which is why they took up arms. They were locked out of power.

Hardline or Fanatical Anti-Communism Is Nearly Always Reactionary

Sisera: I guess he would say you believe the philosophy but just not how it is being applied.

You should know by now that fanatical anti-Communists are almost always wildly irrational, typically pathological liars and usually reactionary shits. You should know by now that fanatical anti-Communists are almost always wildly irrational, typically pathological liars and usually reactionary shits.
Not that Communism is great or that there is no rational reason to oppose Communism of course. There is a rational way to oppose Communism, but most anti-Commies don’t seem to abide by it much.
I mean there ought to be space for pro-free speech, pro civil liberties liberals and progressives who are anti-Communists, but they never seem to pop up much.
I mean, Communists do violate a lot of civil rights and there are some serious problems with democracy in Communist states.
Witness the recent violent demonstrations in Vietnam for instance. Those demos are arguably leftwing or at least nationalist demonstrations protesting against objectively rightwing policy by the Vietnamese Communist government to set up more free enterprise zones with 99 year leases. The protesters fear that these will quickly be bought up by rich Chinese and Vietnam will just become a Chinese colony again as it was for centuries. I would support the protesters in this case, but here you see a Communist government enacting rightwing policy in the face of a Leftist opposition by the people. There’s a serious lack of democracy there.
Those of us who oppose police state tactics, support freedom of speech and assembly, extensive civil liberties, etc. would find that these values of ours are not supported by Communists at all.
But there are not a lot of good liberal or progressive rights-based people among the anti-Communists for whatever reason.
Hardline anti-Commies almost always tend to be conservatives or reactionaries, and I include the Democratic Party in the conservatives here.
Typically as you get further left, a lot of social democratic parties don’t really care about Communism. They are not going to implement it of course, but a lot of them think if you do, that’s your business. A lot of social democratic governments in Europe supported Cuba, the USSR and the Sandinistas and a lot even supported the FARC. The social democratic revolutionary PRI government of Mexico had warm relations with Cuba and Nicaragua. They even supported the FMLN guerrillas in El Salvador. They were headquartered in Mexico City. But the modern PRI is not even social democratic anymore, or its gone over the European garbage of rightwing social democracy.
Of course all the real left social democrats are gone now, and the only “social democrats” left are rightwing jerkoffs. Many of the parties in the Socialist International now would be characterized by this new rightwing social democracy. The fact that social democrats around the world have all become rightwingers and more or less neoliberals shows me that the Marxists were correct about social democracy. They always said it was bankrupt and unworkable. I think it worked fine for a while, but it probably always had the rightwing seeds of its own destruction planted within it somehow, and now they are bearing fruit.
Perhaps some of my commenters can elucidate the rightwing trend in social democracy, the reasons for it, and whether social democracy was doomed from the very starts, as I suspect, weighted down with its own contradictions.

Should the Rich and the Reactionaries Be Given Rights?

Sisera: So what does that mean then? You believe rich people are inherently oppressors who don’t deserve rights but then White men are okay?

Most of them are oppressors, of course. Don’t you even understand class politics or the nature of capitalism at all. Those rich people who are pursuing their economic self interests in the class war, well of course they are our oppressors. The oppressors of me and mine anyway. I suppose they see us as oppressors.
Marxist theory doesn’t say that anyway. It just says that when the rich pursue their self interests in the class war, everyone who’s not rich gets fucked. You want to call that oppression? You are welcome to. If you side with the rich, you are an idiot. Why would you side with your class enemies. Most of them are oppressors, of course. Don’t you even understand class politics or the nature of capitalism at all.
Those rich people who are pursuing their economic self interests in the class war, well of course they are our oppressors. The oppressors of me and mine anyway. I suppose they see us as oppressors. Marxist theory doesn’t say that anyway. It just says that when the rich pursue their self interests in the class war, everyone who’s not rich gets fucked. You want to call that oppression? You are welcome to. If you side with the rich, you are an idiot. Why would you side with your class enemies?
The rich are our class enemies. Does that mean they oppress us? I dunno. When they’re in power, they screw us over. All of the rich hate democracy, lie like rugs, and support violence, murder, terror, genocide, coups, and dictatorships anywhere the people take power.
Personally, I think all conservatives and reactionaries are pure filth. I wish they would all drop dead tomorrow. That way they would be where they belong: in graves. They’re nothing but pure garbage. Show me a reactionary or conservative anywhere on Earth that’s actually a human and not a lying, sadistic, murderous piece of scum. There aren’t any!
In a democratic society, of course the rich get their rights, but they abuse the fuck out of them, and anytime they people take power, the rich start using violence, coups, death squads, rioting, judicial and legislative coups, etc. to get their way. We let the rich take power all the time. They won’t let us take power at all. I’m glad the Chinese Communists took away the rights of the reactionaries.
Look what would happen if they had rights? See Venezuela, Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, Honduras, Haiti, Brazil, Paraguay, Colombia, Nicaragua, Indonesia, Philippines? That’s what happens when you give the rich and the reactionaries any rights at all. Right now they would be burning China to the ground like they are doing to Venezuela and Nicaragua because they are furious that a people’s government got put in.
If that’s the way they are always, always, always going to act, why give them rights? So they can destroy your country and take down any democratically elected government they don’t believe in?
They try to destroy by antidemocratic means any people’s or popular government any time it gets in.
And when they take power themselves, they usually put in a dictatorship.
This is what happens if they don’t get their way and the people elect a democratically elected people’s government:
Attempted coups by street violence: Nicaragua, Ukraine, Syria, and Thailand.
Attempted coups by economic warfare: Venezuela, North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Nicaragua.
Coups by legislative means: Paraguay and Brazil.
Attempted legislative coup: Venezuela.
Coups by judicial means: Brazil.
Coups by direct overthrow of the state: Honduras, Haiti, Venezuela, and Egypt.
Attempted coups by direct overthrow of the state: Ecuador and Bolivia.
Coup by insurgency: Haiti.
Attempted coup by insurgency: Syria.
Coups by direct invasion: Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Panama, Libya, and Grenada.
This is what happens every time they get into power, especially if they take over a people’s government: 
Right-wing death squad authoritarian regime installed: Honduras*, El Salvador, Argentina, Brazil*, Guatemala*, Chile, Philippines*, Uruguay, Bolivia, Indonesia*, and Ukraine*.
No I don’t have a problem taking away rights from reactionary fucks! Why should we give them rights? Give me one reason! One! One reason!

Why the US Working Class Is Not Radicalized

Radicalized meaning having any sort of working class or class consciousness at all. Radicalized meaning pro-worker. Yes, believe it or not, the US working class is not even pro-worker. The US working class is actually anti-worker!
The problem is that we do not have a tradition of working class radicalism here as in Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. Working class people in all of those countries are radicalized and pro-worker with a high state of class consciousness and they usually vote for pro-worker political parties.
Mexicans, however, are profoundly depoliticized.
Nevertheless, you can argue as my mother does when I asked her why the Central American revolutions were not spreading to Mexico, to which she responded that “The Mexicans already had their revolution.” And though the Left neglects to see it this way, the Mexican Revolution was definitely one of the great leftwing revolutions of the 20th Century, at least as good as the Russian Revolution and without many of the problems. Most people don’t realize how horrible feudal life was in Mexico before the Mexican Revolution. If I told you what it was like, you would quit reading and call me a liar. It was that bad.
In Latin America, your average proletarian, working class person, who, let’s face it, is not real smart, is often ideologically Leftist, as they have been politicized by powerful leftwing movements. There are no powerful leftwing movements in the US to do this, so the non-White working classes are not radicalized. They are liberalized but not radicalized.
The White working classes are actually ideologically Rightist, which makes no sense at all of course.
However, I have met many Salvadorans here. I tell them that I used to support the FMLN revolutionaries down there and that I even used to contribute to their weapons fund. It’s actually true. I would meet a guy in a sleazy Salvadoran bar in Lafayette Park and give him a check to some weird cryptic organization. They are hesitant at first but then they break into wide smiles. Even those who did not support the FMLN don’t really care that I did. That movement was radical Left but had huge support across society because Salvadoran society is very unfair.

Socialists Are Generally Elitist, and That's Ok

Oops I did it again writes:

What socialists are not “elitist”? Aside from the “revolutionary masses”, all those who fancy leading/instructing them are and must be “elitists”.
It’s people who need a mission, something that will make them heroes, and are too intelligent to find that kind of gratification doing jobs even for 120 IQ people.

Of course this is true. It’s always been true. It’s surely true with Leninists and Communists. It always bothered me that Communist Party membership was limited to say, 6% of society. Every time I saw that, I felt pained. Why only 6%? How can you ever limit party membership to such a low number without that 6% becoming an elite in fact if not in essence? Assuming a person is sufficiently revolutionary, why can’t they join the party? And if they start lagging or going reactionary, just pull their membership. No problem there. Communists aren’t exactly democrats anyway.
Are the masses really that stupid and unaware of their own needs that only the top 6% of society is capable of addressing those needs, as 94% of them are class cucks who will always oppose their own interests?
If you read early Marxists, they were quite clear that the masses didn’t know what the Hell they were doing, had no idea of what their needs or even wants were, and were very easily swayed to support their class enemies on the basis of nationalism, jingoism, tribalism, racism, sexism, values conservatism, or religion.
They had no idea what they were doing and were incapable of figuring out what was best for them, so a paternalistic yet benevolent socialist elite (vanguard) was needed to show them the way. Granted, that may be the case, but it always seemed insulting towards the masses.
And even after years or decades of Communism, the masses are still as retarded as ever? After all those revolutionary classes and sessions, and they haven’t transformed in the slightest? That seemed so dubious to me.
The Chavistas, Sandinistas and others were trying to get away from that. I believe anyone can join the Sandinista Party, and members were often poor urban workers or peasants. The FMLN party in El Salvador is the same. Both of those parties managed to sell their project very well to the masses. Of course they were helped by decades of ruling class brutality and dictatorship that showed even the most blind of the masses that the ruling classes could never possibly be their friends in any formation or guise.
The Chavistas in Venezuela are much the same. In fact, the party itself is a grassroots party such that the grassroots nearly control the party direction, and those at the top are nearly beholden to those at the bottom, a complete transformation of typical human political relations, or probably of typical human relations in just about anything for that matter.
That’s not quite Direct Democracy, but it’s getting awful close.

The Salvador Option

Great video from The Guardian about the US implementation of The Salvador Option in Iraq. The problem was that a lot of Americans were getting killed in Iraq and the war was starting to look pretty bad. This caused a political problem for the Republican Party and the Bush Administration. Further, a lot of Iraqis were starting to turn against the US.
So the US implemented the Salvador Option in which the Iraqi National Police Chief, a decent man, was thrown out, and a hardline guy to run the new Death Squad Police took his place. The US sent a monster named James Steele, a soldier who worked for the Pentagon, in facilitate this change of plans. Steele had set up, trained and financed death squads in Central America, particularly El Salvador, in the 1980’s. The Pentagon and the US Embassy were deeply involved in the mass arrests, tortures and horrific murders that took place down there in that decade.
Many of the police were then replaced with members of Shia militias. The Shia militia-heavy police were then set loose on Sunni cities, in particular Samarra. There were mass arrests and mass tortures.At one point, the Golden Mosque, one of the most revered sites in Shia Islam, was blown up with expertly placed detonations. The saboteurs were wearing the uniforms of the Iraqi National Police. There is good evidence to believe that the US, acting with elements of the Iraqi police, were the ones who blew up the mosque as the operation would seem to have been beyond the abilities of the rebels.
After a while, mass arrests and tortures turned into mass killings. The Sectarian Civil War was on. The war had redirected Iraqi rage from the Iraqi hating Americans to the Iraqis hating each other. Instead of Americans fighting a losing war against rebels, the war had changed to the US as a caretaker role for a failing state riven with civil war which was no fault of the US. The redirect was complete.

A Look at Some Spanish Dialects

One thing that is interesting once you learn to speak Spanish fairly well is that you can start to pick up the differences in various Spanish dialects. I am told that people who don’t know Spanish well can’t pick up the differences at all. Hearing a divergent Spanish dialect is a very strange experience. You hear Spanish words, but the accent is so off and weird that you think that they can’t possibly be speaking Spanish. A frequent mistake it to think that they are thinking some closely related Romance language like Catalan, French, Portuguese or Italian.

I’ve written about this before, but now that we have more Hispanics and even Mexican nationals reading the blog, maybe we can get some good feedback.

Mexican Spanish is fairly uniform at least around these parts. However, there are some differences.

Oaxacan Spanish: I have heard older Oaxacan Indians speaking a very strange and harsh form of Spanish. I assume it was some Oaxacan Indian Spanish.

Morelos Spanish: Spoken in the state of Morelos near just south of Mexico City. I heard a woman speaking this to her kid. She looked very White, and for some reason I thought she was Iranian. I listened to her for several minutes and I was sure she must have been speaking Farsi. However, she told me she was speaking Morelos Spanish. I looked it up on the Net and it is a distinctive dialect.

Jalisco Spanish: Spoken in the coastal state of Jalisco. This does seem different from the other varieties of Mexican Spanish. I heard a White looking guy speaking it in the store and I asked him what language he was speaking. He was speaking Jalisco Spanish. It had a very European sound to it – like Castillian or Catalan.

Veracruz Spanish: I was in a store and there was a guy on the phone speaking some strange language. There were Spanish words but the accent was insane. After a bit, I said, “No way are you speaking Spanish.” The guy practically fell over himself laughing and he said he was indeed. He looked sort of South Indian, so I thought he was speaking some Indian language like Hindi.

He said he spoke regular Spanish, but he came from the Caribbean coast of Mexico, and he was talking to someone from there, and he was speaking Mexican Caribbean Spanish. This is the most whacked version of Mexican Spanish I have ever heard.

Guatemalan Spanish: A neighbor speaks this. It’s Spanish all right, but it’s not Mexican Spanish at all. Has an odd but recognizable accent. And she speaks incredibly fast and slurs her words together in the worst way.

Salvadoran Spanish: Different from Mexican Spanish, but not dramatically so. It’s immediately identifiable as Spanish.

Puerto Rican Spanish: Caribbean Spanish in general is just nuts. I heard a group of mixed race folks speaking it at a store. I listened for a while, very confused. Then I walked over to them and asked if they were speaking Portuguese, because that was what it sounded like. They said they were speaking Puerto Rican Spanish. The mixed race group had not a trace of racism, and among them were some of the most dignified looking Blacks or mulattoes I have ever seen. A quiet dignity you rarely see in US Blacks.

Colombian Spanish: One of the strangest Spanishes of them all. I knew an upper class Colombian woman from the Zona Rosa in the north of Bogota. She spent about half her time in Spain. She had the sexiest, most breathiest Spanish I have ever heard, almost like a super sexy French accent. It was also very European sounding. It had a very Castillian and almost French flavor to it. I heard her sister talk too, and she talked exactly the same way.

She used to write me emails, and I couldn’t make heads or toes of the Spanish because it was so full of figures of speech, slangs and colloquialisms. Running it through a translator was useless. For all intents and purposes, she wasn’t even writing in Spanish.

I was at a store and a group of Colombians was in line, all young adults. I heard Spanish words, but the accent was so whacked that I thought it had to be something else. I approached them and asked if they were speaking Italian, because that is what it sounded like. They laughed and said they were speaking Colombian Spanish.

Once again, this was a very sensual language. The 30-something beauty talking to me seemed like she was openly flirting with me, but finally I thought that was just how she talked. They were all talking like they were either heading to an orgy or just got back from one, but once again, I think that was the way they talked all the time. These people live in their bodies, fully sensual, and the language pumps right out of their emotional heart. The words seem to sway and move with their bodies. One sexy language!

I recently heard another woman speaking Colombian Spanish, this time from the Caribbean coast. A fruity, delightful language with words that sway in the sun on the golden sands. A sound as juicy as papayas, mangoes and bananas. You want to reach out and grab the words as they fly through the air and take a bite of them.

Peruvian Spanish: I knew some Peruvian women and used to talk to them a lot. The Spanish is not too crazy accentwise, but it has a ton of slangs in it. They didn’t really speak English, so they couldn’t explain what the slangs meant. One thing was that they spoke very, very fast! I kept telling them to slow down, but they could not seem to slow it down no matter how many times you asked. Peruvian has only one speed – very fast.

Chilean Spanish: Sounds very Castillian, but it’s immediately recognizable as Spanish. One problem is the mountain of slang in this dialect. I don’t think there is any Spanish that has as much slang as Chilean. It’s literally chock full of all kinds of weird slangs. They are also the pickiest Spanish speakers I have ever met. Almost like the French, almost correcting your Spanish. Most Spanish speakers are very gracious, but Chileans want you to speak it right!

Argentine Spanish: This is one weird Spanish. You hear it spoken and you hear Spanish words, but the people speaking it look like Europeans and the accent sounds Italian! Or sometimes it sounds like some other European language – Catalan, French or Castillian. This is one insanely whacked out Spanish!

Catalonian Spanish: I heard a group speaking this, and I thought no way is that Spanish. I asked them what they were speaking, and they said Spanish. They said they were from Catalonia. Their Spanish sounded like Catalan! It didn’t sound like Spanish at all. This was one of the bizarrest Spanishes I have ever heard.

Naomi Klein On the Debt Ceiling Charade

Naomi Klein:

Using a trumped up crisis to raid the public purse and attack the basic rights and benefits is a very old trick – but rarely is the shock doctrine tactic wielded as brazenly as in the pseudo debate about the debt ceiling. This is naked class war, waged by the ultra rich against everyone else, and it’s well past time for Americans to draw the line.

This whole thing is fake, a phony crisis, a charade, Kabuki theater. And Klein hits it right on the head when she ties it in with the Shock Doctrine. Klein’s Shock Doctrine theory holds that one of the latest tricks of imperialist capitalism is how it deliberately creates crises or catastrophes, then uses those calamities to push through radical rightwing changes that are beneficial to Global Capital. For instance, Iraq was deliberately destroyed in order that US capitalist mass murderers and vultures could make money off rebuilding the very place that they wrecked!

Greece was deliberately driven into debt by the venal and wicked banksters who control the world so that its public institutions could be sold off and Greece itself could be bought by the rich. Capitalism created a worldwide economic collapse. Whether  it did so deliberately or not is debatable, but students of history know that unregulated capitalism causes periodic horrible economic collapses, recessions and depressions.

They then used this collapse, which they had augmented for decades by a careful policy of massive tax cuts and deliberately running up huge deficits under Republican Presidents with the expressed purpose of create a debt and deficit crisis down the road, to force through radical class war against the vast majority of working Americans and undo the New Deal, the Great Society and all progressive change for the last century in an effort to take us back at least to the 1920’s, or, as Karl Rove put it, to take us back to the 1890’s.

The crisis was created deliberately. The rightwing is simply using the debt issue as an excuse to destroy most of government. Why? Because the modern Right has a deep and profound hatred for the state. They wish to eviscerate the state on all levels in order to create a Third World type Libertarian state characterized by a starved, minimalist and ineffective state ruled by venal elites who wage permanent and savage class war on the poor, the workers and much of the middle class.

The assault on government will not end with this debt ceiling debate. Obama thinks he can fix this debt debate and then move on to other things. But that’s not possible. The Right will not stop hammering away at government and slashing it like a crazed serial killer hacking at his dying rape victim until the state is nearly eviscerated on a 3rd World level.

However, even then, the Class War will be continuous and ongoing. That’s because in almost all human socieites, there is always something still left for the Rich to steal from the rest of us. We are never so poor that they can’t take more stuff from us.

I told you previously that I followed Salvadoran politics for a while. I used to give money to the arms fund of the FMLN guerrillas, so I got daily updates via phone about Salvadoran politics.

I understood Salvadoran politics to be that the population was divided into 2% rich who owned most everything, an 8% battered middle class who barely scraped by, and the rest, 90%, were poor, often without even enough food to eat.

But those daily updates about the Salvadoran state were enlightening. Every single day, the fascist ARENA state tried to steal more and more money, land and stuff from the other 98% of the population. I was amazed because I thought there would not be anything left to steal! In the absence of a direct return to feudalism with its lords and serfs, one has to presume that rightwing class war in the modern era will be neverending and they will never run out of money, land and stuff to steal from the rest of us.

Another thing that amazed me was that the Salvadoran rich, the 2%, clearly never had enough. Every day they had to steal more and more. It was then that I realized that a rich man never has enough money. He always needs more and more. He never says he’s had enough and it’s time to quit. Greed is not like hunger. Hunger can be sated, at least for a bit. The rich man apparently never reaches a state of satiety, which implies right there that there is something pathological, inhuman and just wrong about greed itself.

Greed is as instiable as the healthy desire to survive. One never has his fill of it.

Jewmerica Threatens Flotilla Participants

The United States of Jewmerica, or, more properly, “USreal,” which is the US and Israel combined into a single nation for all intents and purposes, is threatening USreali citizens with long imprisonment terms if they deliver aid to Gaza via a flotilla. The charges would include proving material aid to a terrorist group, Hamas, which violates a new USraeli law. Alice Walker is on that boat. I dare this punk Obama to throw her in prison, I really do.

The flag of Usrael. Usrael is not yet recognized by the UN, because USrael itself, as an international scofflaw and outlaw state, does not recognize UN sovereignty. USrael does what it wants, always has and always will, the Hell with the rest of the world.

Honestly, USraeli citizens ought to be free to provide material aid, or any other aid, or even to go fight for, any armed group on Earth that is not engaged in hostilities against the US. If some USraeli ally then wants to extradite the USraeli citizen for working for the group, then Usrael has a right to extradite them. But why is it against USraeli law to give money or other aid to, or to train or go fight for, some guerrilla group that has nothing whatsoever to do with USrael in any way, shape or form?

When I was a student at USC in 1983, a professor I knew pointed out one of the other professors in the Education Department. He was a young Hispanic guy. The professor told me that the prof periodically took time off his job to go down to El Salvador, where he actually took up arms and fought alongside the FMLN rebels. And what was wrong with that? It was his life, right? It was between him and the Salvadoran government.

But a recent fascist law would have sentenced this guy to 10 years in prison for fighting for his conscience. What of the US fighters for the Abraham Lincoln Brigade against Franco’s fascists? The present fascist USraeli government would obviously call the Republicans (the only Republicans I’ve ever supported besides the IRA) a terrorist group. Obviously, all of the anti-Nazi guerrillas of WW2 were terrorists too. Anyone who takes up arms against any state, except, whoops! Enemies of the US, is automatically a terrorist.

However, for some reason, the KLA, the Syrian rebels, the Libyan rebels, and the Ahwaz, Kurdish and Baloch rebels in Iran are automagically not terrorists, because if they were, the whole US government would have to go down on the fascist law about support for terrorism, because USrael is supporting all of those groups to the hilt.

The truth is that in general, the whole “terrorist group” designation is complete shit. If you’re a guerrilla group fighting a US enemy, you’re a freedom fighter. If you’re a guerrilla group fighting a US ally, you’re a terrorist. The designation is garbage, and it’s pitiful that the vast majority of Moronicans have fallen for this sick lie.

Onto the Gaza flotilla. All of these flotillas have been repeatedly inspected, and I suspect it’s no different with this one. So the idea that the flotilla members are providing material aid to a terrorist group is nothing but a twisted lie.

This shows once again who controls America, and it’s not ordinary Americans.

If we are looking for someone to blame here, let’s not blame the elites. The fault is Americans themselves. Truth is that the vast majority of Americans are perfectly content to turn America into Jewmerica, such is their overwhelming and idiotic Judeophilia. The majority of Americans are overjoyed at the joining of two nations at the hip to form the USrael entity, such is their passionate and fanatical Zionism.

In that case, then USrael surely must reap what it sows then, from endless wars to burning and collapsing towers. Cause and effect is still a law of the natural world, and men are part of that world.

Is this America or Jewmerica? Which will it be?

Is this the US or is Usrael? Which will it be?

Wikipedia Jews Attack James Petras

Repost from the old site.

James Petras is a fine man of the Left who has long been interested in Latin America and especially revolutionary movements down there. He has long supported the FARC revolutionaries in Colombia (as does this blog) and lately he has been supporting the Movement of the Landless in Brazil.

He’s a great labor organizer who goes down to Latin America and works with the people, getting his hands dirty with the workers and peasants themselves. He’s a towering intellect, and has often criticized Left movements from a Far Left perspectives, accusing them of being sellouts. For instance, he has gone after the FMLN in El Salvador lately for pursuing a half-hearted effort at reform.

I believe he was going after Evo Morales in Bolivia lately. He’s great for tearing the masks off these Latin American Leftists who the US press is screaming Commie Bloody Murder about, showing us that many of them are not even very far to the Left and the proposals they are offering are quite moderate and unlikely to seriously shake up socioeconomic relations in these places.

It’s always great to read him on anything having to do with the Latin American Left.

Lately he has sort of gone off on a bender against US Jews and particularly the Israeli Lobby and Israel. He has received some criticism for this from the Left, especially the anarchist Left (see Three Way Fight) and Maoists. Maoists and anarchists (Three Way Fight critique here) are among those on the Left who are particularly sensitive to charges of anti-Semitism and go to great lengths to avoid such.

This despite the recent rightwing Jewish – Zionist rewriting of history that shows the entire 20th Century Left as being anti-Semitic. See Why the Jews? The Reasons for Contemporary Anti-Semitism by Dennis Prager and Joseph Telushkin for more on that – it’s actually an excellent read and I recommend it.

The ADL has recently weighed in against Petras, accusing him of fomenting some kind of “New Anti-Semitism” (this means an anti-Semitism focused mostly on Israel). All of this crap is a rather minor sideshow to Petras’ excellent corpus and career, but as you can see in his Wikipedia entry, most of the entry is given over his tussle with the Jews.

On the discussion page, the Wikipedia Jews have gone nuts, accusing him of being an “anti-Jewish racist” and other bullshit. There’s the usual crap about Israel Shamir on there, straight from the UK Spotlight Trotskyite antifa loonie-tunes accusations – Shamir as a Swedish neo-Nazi living in Norway.

In fact, Israel Shamir, whatever one thinks of him (and he surely has his anti-Semitic moments) is a Russian Jew, son of a famous rabbi, who immigrated to Israel, fought in the Israeli military, wrote for some Israeli papers, moved to Japan where he translated Japanese haiku books, moved back to Russia where he got involved in some dubious anti-Semitic far right Russian publications, moved back to Israel, where he currently resides in Jaffa (in fact, you can probably even visit him there – lots of folks do).

It’s really sad that this “Swedish neo-Nazi” bullshit has been allowed to gain as much traction as it has. Yes, his Wikipedia page says that too. I know what you were thinking. Chip Berlet is one of the leaders of the Israel Shamir Lynch Mob. Berlet, the strange “Marxist” who is in deep with the radical right libertarians that rule Wikipedia.

Looks like the Wikipedia Jews got pretty much thwarted on this one. Maybe someone is finally starting to reign them in over there. Note that “Humus Sapiens” is one of the most notorious Wikipedia Jews, active for years now. Still at it, I guess.

Check out the article history. Real food fight.

Links to some Wikipedia nasties.

Wikipedia Jews: Jayjg, one of the worst Jewish POV-pushers on Wikipedia. Humus Sapiens, a Russian Jewish immigrant to the US. Izak, one of their sidekicks.

Slim Virgin , one of the worst ones of all. I understand that SV is not even Jewish (!); she’s just some Gentile philosemite. She’s obsessed with 1. The Jews, 2. 9-11. SV is one of the most horrible and abusive administrators on Wikipedia. She was so abusive that the Wikipedia Review undertook an investigation of her.

She was very hard to track down as she covers her tracks very well, but they eventually determined that she is a former Cambridge University graduate student named Linda Mack who was hired by investigative reporter Pierre Salinger and John K. Cooley to investigate the Lockerbie bombing.

Two Libyans were eventually convicted of the bombing, and Ghaddafi was ordered to pay a huge fine, but there is good evidence that Libya had nothing to do with the bombing. There is also evidence that UK law enforcement knew this but went after Ghaddafi anyway because they hated him and wanted to wrap up the case.

It is still not known who was behind the bombing, but the Iranian regime was probably the author of the attack. The attack was probably a payback for the US shooting down of an Iranian airliner during the Iran-Iraq War, an act that the US said was accidental. Iran refused to accept the accidental shootdown theory.

Linda Mack was instrumental in steering Salinger and Cooley towards the Libyans. Salinger and Cooley eventually decided that Mack was a spy with the UK’s notorious MI5 intelligence agency (the British CIA). Linda Mack is now reportedly living in Alberta, Canada under the name Sarah McEwan.

Antifascist, who uses the same handle and has the same obsessions as a notorious Jewish Zionist who used to stalk anti-Zionists on Indymedia, often issuing them horrible death threats. He’s obsessed with Wendy Campbell and Gilad Atzmon.

His name is Ketlan Ossowski ( blog here) and he is described as an obsessive Jew who uses Leftism and anti-fascism as a cover to promote Zionism. I strongly suspect that he is the same guy who stalked and threatened Wendy Campbell. Zeq, long-notorious, the lone Wikipedia Jew busted in the CAMERA fiasco, now banned.

Others: Roland Rance, a Jewish Marxist (Jewish first, Marxist far distant second) from London, famous from the wars over Gilad Atzmon and Mary Rizzo’s Peace Palestine blog, apparently active in the Socialist Workers Party and in with the Lenin’s Tomb crowd. I’m not going to comment on this guy much as he’s written me civilly via email.

Just another frothing Trot about sums it up though.

When Is It Going to Start Working Anyway?

A commenter asks:

I know there’s probably a lot of info on the web about the various armed conflict/s in Latin America, but do you have any good websites (in English) that are specifically about the rhetoric of the Latin American Rich? And about their actual policies that lead to so many people trying to revolt against them?

I know you’ve mentioned them in your posts, but not all that much. It would be great if you had links to a detailed, extensive database of such information.

Hi, Upside Down World  in the blogroll is an excellent resource, just off the top of my head. You know, 100 years ago, 50 years ago, 30 years ago, 10 years ago, yesterday, Latin America was mired in the most horrific poverty amid the most wild wealth. I’m not sure what the rich were saying then. Now here it is, up to 100 years later, and nothing much has changed.

I think in the past it was just “Kill the Commies!” The rich ran the show, had pro-rich military dictatorships for years to decades, when that didn’t work stole elections, and controlled all the media. The masses were utterly downtrodden, but what could you do?

Every now and then the peons would get restless, and the Marines would be sent down there to repress the overwhelming majority of the people and reinstate rich rule. In Haiti, the US stayed for decades. Cuba was nearly a US colony. We invaded the Dominican Republic. Sometimes people fought back. You had the anti-US Sandino rebellion against the Marines in Nicaragua.

Anytime the people got the least bit uppity, there would be a coup or a US invasion, followed by mass death squad terror. This happened in Guatemala in 1954, Brazil in 1964, Dominican Republic in 1965, Bolivia in 1970, Chile in 1973, Argentina in 1978, and Peru in 1992. This would often be followed by years to decades of state terror, the purpose of which apparently was to say, “Don’t even think of trying this again!”

In 1932 in El Salvador there was a peasant uprising led by Farabundo Marti. It was crushed, and 2% of the population, 30,000 people, were murdered in only about a month in something called the Matanza. Whole towns and villages were slaughtered. US warships patrolled off the coast the whole time to help things go smoothly. After that, people got rid of their Indian clothes, quit speaking Indian and turned into Ladinos, because the Indians were specifically targeted in the massacre. That was enough to keep the people down for about 40 years or so.

The Western provinces, where the Matanza took place, were still very conservative even during the Civil War 50 years later. Mass terror works.

But things have changed now. Now they say that neoliberal capitalism (the rule of the rich) is the way to prosperity for everyone. Socialism or rule of the poor is a dictatorship and leads to mass poverty.

Now the rich say that the way of the rich will “lift all the boats.” A rising tide lifts all boats and all of that. It’s supply side economics. Problem is that Latin America has been engaging in supply side economics and the politics and economics of the rich since Day One. Who is it lifting out of poverty, anyway?

Main thing is that they don’t want to spend one dime to help the poor the in any way whatsoever. Doing so will ruin the economy, and we can’t have that. You can’t raise taxes, tax the rich or the corporations, raise the minimum wage or engage in any state spending. All of this is Communism, and it will “ruin the economy.”

They also engage in a lot of capital strikes now. With the election of Humala in Peru the other day, the stock market lost 20% of its value. Most of those countries are under IMF austerity programs and are limited in what they can do. Also, they need foreign investment, and the foreigners (the West) demand a neoliberal, economics of the rich, climate in the country. If you put in pro-poor policies, the investors bail. It’s hard to get much progressive policy done. Even the new Left leaders down there have their hands tied.

But the economics of the rich isn’t working down there. They’ve been doing it for 200 years.

When is it supposed to start working anyway?

Is the FARC Near Defeat?

This is not really the case.

The Western media would have you believe that the FARC are narcoterrorists with no support even among the peasants. This is not the case. The FARC have deep and vast support among the peasantry in the countryside. In the cities, it is more complicated.

It is true that the FARC has lost support lately. This is probably due to tactics.

The taking of prisoners was a tough one. Yes, the FARC took prisoners. Those were in general not hostages but POW’s. Colombian soldiers and police were taken as POW’s when captured. Does the FARC not have a right to take POW’s? The state does. The state arrests guerrilla suspects and imprisons them all the time. Why can’t the FARC imprison state combatants in the same way?

It’s also true that they took some Colombian legistlators prisoner. But why should they not have done this? Those legislators were voting for prosecuting the war against the FARC. By the same token, does the state not prosecute those who fund the FARC?

Several Americans, apparently spying on the FARC for the CIA or Pentagon, were also taken hostage. Many tears have been shed over this in the US. They were treated well by the FARC. If they didn’t want to be taken prisoner, why were they spying for the CIA?

In addition, the FARC has imprisoned some wealthy Colombians for tax evasion. It’s not true that these people were kidnapped for hostage money.

The FARC levies a tax on all Colombians worth more than $1 million. That is a lot of Colombians, as the Colombian elite is fabulously rich. The FARC is waging a revolution, and the rich must pay war taxes to fund the revolution. Simple, right?

Most rich Colombians have figured out that you have to pay your FARC taxes every years. They meet FARC operatives outside major cities and fork it over. It’s a very small amount of money, and they can easily pay. Some have chosen to evade their war taxes. So the FARC imprisoned them until their taxes were paid. Is this not right and proper?

We must understand that the Western line about the FARC is 100% negative. Further, all media coming out of Colombia is anti-FARC. Most journalists are self-censoring and simply report the military’s line. 90% of Colombian FARC reporting comes straight from the Colombian military. Journalists are constantly threatened by the Colombian state for being “FARC sympathizers.” Most Colombian journalists have their phones tapped. The Colombian state has murdered many Colombian journalists. So most just figure out how to play it safe.

It’s true that the Colombian guerrilla has been hit very hard lately. The guerrillas have suffered some serious losses, but they immediately replaced them. They still probably number ~18,000 fulltime guerrillas. Militia is probably many more. They are facing the heaviest offensive ever waged against a Latin American guerrilla outfit. This new offensive is all coming via US dollars and aid. The US has 7 new military bases in Colombia. The 100% purpose of these bases is to fight the war against the Colombian guerrilla.

Question: If the FARC is near collapse, why is it that the FARC killed more Colombian soldiers last year than 2002, which was at the very height of the war when the FARC was close to seizing power? Yes, the FARC has killed more Colombian troops than at any time in recent memory. Granted, most of that was in defensive action, but do those sky high enemy KIA counts sound like a losing army?

In addition, last year, the FARC waged about 5 offensive actions every single day. I get FARC military reports. The FARC kills Colombian troops just about every single day in Colombia. This is one kick-ass guerrilla army.

Everyone in the US seems to want the FARC to lose. But why should the Colombian regime win?

This is a regime that has decimated all of Colombian civil society.

Labor unionists, community leaders, peasant leaders and peasants, Indian leaders and Indians, women’s organizations, gay rights organizations, environmental groups, anti-free trade agreement groups, human rights groups, journalists, students, professors, anti-mining and anti-oil groups, really anyone who is anyone in Colombian civil society, has been subjected to a terror and extermination campaign.

Typically the charge is that these civilians are “members of the FARC” or “FARC sympathizers.” Usually, there is no evidence whatsoever that they are FARC members. If they are FARC sympathizers, how do you prove such a thing, and since when is such a thought crime illegal? Does the FARC have a right to slaughter anyone who is a government sympathizer?

Why should we in the West support such a vicious, venal and genocidal regime? If the FARC goes, will anything get better?  What makes anyone think that the regime is going to stop killing the people just because the FARC is gone?

The FARC, if anything, defends the people.

Here is what happens.

The state wages on “offensive against the guerrilla.” The army and death squads move into a region and start killing the local civilian leaders right away. The FARC quickly appears on the scene and starts attacking the army and death squads, trying to dive them out of the area. So you can see the FARC are really trying to protect the people from the state, to give the people a means of defense. What’s so bad about that?

The FARC want some sort of guarantees that the state will not massacre them if they lay down their arms. In the 1980’s, a faction of the FARC, the Patriotic Union, broke away, laid down arms, and tried to seek power by peaceful means. They were decimated by state terror – 5,000 of them were slaughtered like flies. Given that record, is the FARC not correct to be wary about laying down their arms?

As part of a negotiated settlement, the FARC wants a land reform. As in El Salvador, land is the key issue. A tiny fraction of the population owns almost all the farmland in Colombia. The vast majority of rural people own little or no land.

The rich are constantly stealing, with armed force, what little land the peasants have left.

This is how it works.

The army and the death squads will show up and tell the peasants to leave their land. You leave or you die. Most folks pack up. After the land is vacated, the rich move in and steal the vacated peasants’ land. This process goes on all over Latin America, especially in Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras and Brazil. It is source of much of the death squad run murders in the region. The same process goes on in Pakistan, India and I believe in the Philippines. Before the Salvadoran War ended, it was common in El Salvador.

A huge land reform was enacted in El Salvador as a consequence of the peace settlement. It did not solve the problems of the rural areas, but at least the peasants have their own land and can feed themselves. The major cause of the war was ended, at a cost of 70,000 lives.

As I understand it, the Colombian elite refuses to budge on land reform and demands that the FARC disarm for peace talks to start. This will not work. The Salvadoran state dropped their demand for rebel disarmament, and this enabled a peace settlement. Unilateral disarmament never makes sense.

Do Capitalists Support Pubic Health and Education?

Repost from the old site.
In a response to my post, The Paradox of Capitalist Regulation, brilliant British commenter huy suggests that capitalists nowadays are enlightened enough to see that public health and education are needed for the workforce. I argue otherwise below.
Huy:

I would say that history has taught capitalism that free education and law and order run by the state is essential for capitalism to work, as without those things capitalism fails.It looks like capitalism is learning across the globe that free and equal health provided by the state is also essential for capitalism to run (from a free market economic point of view).
Socialism wants national health and education for the benefit of the people, while capitalism wants national health and education for the benefit of the market and growth of the economy, An economy with higher-skilled, more versatile workers who are in good health is a more productive one.
I consider myself vey leftwing and technocratic, and I’m deeply in favour of the free market, but only if the state provides good free education and health for all, minimum wage, poverty benefits, unemployment benefits and the chance for adults to get apprenticeships and qualifications for free when ever they need to or want to (within reason) so as to allow the lower-skilled workers to keep up with the fast pace of the free market and all the job cuts and creations that come with it.
The free market is humanity’s best hope for destroying poverty, but only if it is galvanized by the state properly, whereby social mobility and equal opportunity and social justice and lack of social deprivation is followed through. This makes both moral and economic sense.

I respond:
If you look at the 3rd World, the capitalist classes there do not want public education and they certainly do not want state health care. Even here in the US, the capitalist class has waged all-out war on public education and national health care through the Republican Party, although the Democratic Party also now seems to oppose national health care.
In parts of the world where national health care has been put in, the capitalists and their rightwing parties quickly wage ideological warfare to get rid of it.
Europe is an unusual case, probably due to circumstances discussed in my earlier post, For Justice, A River of Blood.
Europe was a very rightwing place in the 1930’s. WW2 completely destroyed most of the European Right, defeated all rightwing governments, killed, wounded or imprisoned many of the rightwingers themselves, destroyed or made illegal their organizations and dissolved much of their wealth and power, and more importantly, humiliated them and completely discredited rightwing ideology.
As a consequence, the Right was in disarray for decades after WW2 in Europe, and they have not yet regained their power. After the war, there was a Cold War threat from the USSR and from Left groups all over the rest of Europe.
In order to co-opt the Soviet model and the West European Left, the ruling classes in Europe cut deals with workers, consumers and society in which a Social Contract was erected in the form of a socialism called variously the social market or social democracy. Due to the decimation and discrediting of the European Right, even European elites and media bought into social democratic ideology.
Hence we see in France large Leftwing papers like Liberation, huge Euro-Communist parties getting 10-30% of the vote and even ruling states in Italy. A Gramscian cultural hegemony was constructed by the Left in post-war Europe, such that the media and culture itself promoted social democracy as the normal way for a society to operate.
Elites in Scandinavia formed collegial relations with Communist and Leftist states and Leftist guerrillas on the basis that they were all socialists. For instance, Scandinavian governments had friendly relations with Sandinista Nicaragua, Cuba and Vietnam, along with the FMLN and FARC guerrillas in El Salvador and Colombia.
Scandinavian governments gave generous aid to the Third World, often in pro-people forms with no capitalist or reactionary strings attached. This had the effect of taking the wind out of the sails of West European Communists. In a relatively just social democratic society, most saw little need for revolution.
In Europe, even the capitalists have gone along with national health care, although in the UK they have been whittling away at it since Thatcher. European executives love their free national health care and paid six week vacations.
However, in much of the rest of the world, capitalists have rolled back national health and education. In China, national health care is apparently gone as a right. In Russia, too, it scarcely exists anymore, while education has been decimated along with educated persons and professions.
In some East European states like Bulgaria, health care has been devastated. The first thing the hero of both US parties, Nicaraguan President Violeta Chamorro, did when the Sandinistas were voted out was to get rid of free public education and free national health care.
In Canada right now, the rightwing party and the business class have declared war on the national health care system (an ongoing project for a good 15 years or so now), but it is popular, so they have to tread lightly.
If the business classes in the US supported public education and national health care, we would not have a decades-long war against both of them waged by the party of business, the Republican Party, and supported by the business class in its entirety. It is true that some more enlightened US capitalists (especially big businesses) do support public education and even national health care, but they are an exception.
In this sense, the US small business class is even more reactionary than US big businesses. The US small business class supported Ross Perot and Ron Paul and are often far to the Right of the corporate guys.
This rightwing populism can and does lead to fascism. Small business and the petit bourgeois were the army behind fascism in Nazi Germany and have led many far-right movements in the US too.
The petit bourgeois resents the plutocratic elites for screwing them, but on the other hand also resents the working classes for being unionized and making good money via union wages. They feel oppressed by both groups.
Also, many petit bourgeois did not go to college, so they resent those white collar workers (seen as intellectuals and professionals) who got degrees and the resulting higher-paying jobs.
The petit bourgeois work in offices, banks and stores as clerks, tellers, low-ranking managers, etc. This class sector is often equated with something like the lower middle class. They often have no class consciousness at all, which is why they are often fodder for the Far Right.
What you are advocating above, huy, is not the free market at all, since the free market advocates getting rid of most to all government spending and regulation. Instead, you are advocating for socialism in one of its many forms. This form being the social market or social democracy.
I am a strong supporter of social democracy along the lines of the European model. The social market is a regulated capitalism with many government programs as a safety net and considerable government involvement in and even ownership of parts of the economy. In Sweden, 93% of the economy is private, but almost everyone, including managers and office workers, is unionized.
Government involvement in the economy takes the form of industry guidance as a corporatist element. Ownership of aspects of the economy takes the form of ownership of large industries like aircraft and ship building, national airlines, vehicle manufacturing, national rail, etc. It’s worked quite well.
Keep in mind that capitalists are loath to invest in industries like ship building in which it may take 100 years to make your first profit. These industries need to be state-run for a long time.
Further, passenger rail is almost never profitable for the private sector, so they just don’t run passenger trains. Since it operates at a loss as its nature, it must be run by the state.
This is what is so sick about the endless demands on Amtrak to make a profit – it is almost impossible for Amtrak to make a profit, because large passenger rail networks almost never do. In order to profit, they would have to charge so much money that they would hardly get any passengers.
In the same way, city buses never run at a profit either, hence we never see the private sector running passenger buses inside cities. Do you see any private rail lines running passenger rail in any areas of the US? Of course not.
Why? Because it’s not profitable. Passenger rail must be run by the state for it to exist at all. Demands for Amtrak to run a profit are perverse, dishonest and wrong. How many Americans think Amtrak needs to run a profit? Of those with an opinion, possibly most. This is what rightwing propaganda will do to you.

Aztlan and Zionism: Dueling Idiocies

Repost from the old site.
In this post, we will take a look at two nationalisms, Zionism, the movement to (re)create the ancient Jewish homeland in Palestine, and Aztlan, the Mexican and Chicano movement that says that part of the Western US is actually part of Mexico, and more importantly, was the homeland of the Aztec people.
As with most forms of ultra-nationalism, both movements are exercises in lying and nonsense. And both are similar in other ways, too.
Both propose that, because the area in question (Western US, Palestine) was the ancient homeland of the people some 2,000-5,000 years ago, that they have a right to move en mass into the region and even to annex it or possibly make their state there (the Aztlan movement is divided on whether Aztlan should be annexed to Mexico or whether it should be its own state).
Both are based on some highly questionable claims of ownership. There is serious question whether or not Aztlan (an area covering part of the Western US – map here) is actually the ancient homeland of the Aztecs, as this article claims, supposedly with authoritative sources.
Let us examine the article, by Patrisia Gonzales and Roberto Rodriguez, a writing team that somehow got UPI to syndicate their ultra-radical Chicano nationalist nonsense for many years.
The authors found a map in the National Archives in Washington from 1847 with a notation near the Four Corners Area in the US referring to The Ancient Homeland of the Aztecs.
This scribbling on a map somewhere by God knows who purportedly “proves incontrovertibly” that all Mexicans and all Central Americans have a right to move to the USA tomorrow, because the US Four Corners is their “ancient homeland”.
The authors also note a tradition of the US Pueblo, Hopi, and Lakota (!?) Indian tribes that Nahuatl speakers were their former relatives. There are major problems with this. How would these tribes describe these “Nahuatl” speaking people, since back then, there is no way that they called their language or themselves by that name?
Since they called themselves and their language something else, how did these tribes know that they were “Nahuatl”-speakers? And why the Lakota? They are located far from this fake homeland, way up in South Dakota.
Further, as one who worked with an Indian tribe on a government grant doing linguistic and anthropological field work, I assure you that Indian legends and oral history need to be taken with a gigantic grain of salt, to say the least!
The authors quote Cecelio Orozco, an education professor at my alma mater, California State University Fresno as saying this lines up with his research also putting the Aztec homeland in southern Utah. Professor Orozco has published two books of apparent pseudoarcheology on this subject.
Here is how Orozco discovered this homeland (try not to laugh when reading this):

Orozco said he came upon the site through a process called “archeo-astronomy.” He saw a photograph of four rivers in Utah in 1980, and based on previous research, recognized a mathematical formula in the photo that led him to believe that this was the place of origin of the Mexicas’ ancestors. Subsequent trips and research has confirmed his thesis… 

After reading this fascinating article on archaeoastronomy, I still do not see how that science relates to a photograph of four rivers in Utah. Does anyone have any idea how a photograph of four rivers anywhere on Earth contains some hidden mathematical formula?
He also found a painting on a wall in Utah from 500 BC that he says he claims corresponds to the the codec containing the Aztec calendar. Those of us familiar with the field realize that finds all over the world look like other finds, or resemble other peoples, or bear this or that passing resemblance to whatever. None of that usually proves anything; much more work needs to be done.
According to the article, because Aztecs have a homeland in Utah dating back 2500 BC, Mexicans and Central Americans are no longer foreigners or aliens or even immigrants in the US, but they are simply in their homeland.
By that lunatic thinking, all White Americans get emigrate back to Europe and live there, since that was our homeland at some point in the past. The Europeans have no right to stop us, and we can even call it Euroamland or whatever and carve out our own damn country out of several European countries, make English the official language and even sideline the several non-English European tongues spoken there.
Then we can demand to be united with the US across the sea or just up and make our own country, dissolving several European countries in the process.
It is this sort of nonsense that makes me wonder just how smart your average Mexican Reconquista type really is. On reflection, they are obviously bright people, it is just that ultranationalism, or even often just nationalism, damages people’s brains and makes them incapable of rational thought. It does this across the board to any ethnic group – there is no reason to single out Mexicans or Chicanos.
Let us examine some of the other insane suppositions of the Aztlan crowd. We have already delved into this a bit on this on an earlier post.
First of all, the Aztecs (Mexicas) had only taken over the Mexico City area about 200 years previous to the Spanish Conquest. The empire reached its peak only about 40 years before Cortes landed. Further, the Mexicas only lived in the area around Mexico City! That’s it. All of the rest of Mexico was not Mexica territory and the tribes (even those colonized by Mexicas) who lived there cannot be said to be Mexicas!
As an analogy, let us consider the Roman Empire. Its headquarters were in Rome. The rest of the empire were just colonies, conquered areas paying tribute to Rome. Can we say that everyone in the Roman Empire was a “Roman” or an “Italian”? By the same logic, do those residing in Rome today have a right to claim all of the former Roman Empire as their land?
This is what would happen if we applied “Aztlan”-logic to that situation. Do you see how stupid this Aztlan nonsense-lie is? The Aztecs did conquer quite a bit of land in the center of Mexico (map here), killing lots of folks and enslaving others.
As noted below, the homeland of the Nahua, according to prominent Mexican archaeologist Eduardo Matos Moctezuma was probably somewhere around Guanajuato, Jalisco, and Michoacán* . From this area, 2,000 years ago, various waves of Nahua speakers radiated out through Mexico and even Central America. This is why we have 28 living Aztec (or Nahuatl) languages today.
By the way, Wikipedia is wrong that these languages are almost dead. Most are quite vigorously used, and there are 1.5 million speakers of all Nahuatl languages.
27 of these 28 tribes are not, and were not, Mexicas, anymore than everyone speaking a Romance language today is a “Roman”. Follow?
A somewhat more rational take on the Aztlan lie can be found on the Reconquista site here. Apparently real anthropologists put the Aztec homeland somewhere around Nayarit on the west coast of Mexico. That’s a lot more reasonable, but it’s probably not true either. This comes from Mexican anthropologist Alfredo Chavero’s theory in 1887. Moctezuma’s locale is probably better.
The piece also argues that since Nahuatl is an Uto-Aztecan language and many Uto-Aztecans either lived in or traveled through “Aztlan”, that there is something to the Aztlan notion in that sense. Fair enough.
In fact, the homeland of the Uto-Aztecans in my opinion is in southern Arizona or northern Mexico. But all Native Americans traveled through Siberia on their way to the Americas. Does everyone with Indian blood in the Americas get to go back to Russia and take over the place because their ancestors strolled through it sometime in the past 20,000 years?
Looking at the linguistic contacts of pre-Nahuatl would be a good way of trying to find an Aztec homeland. We can see that they had contacts with languages spoken around Veracruz, on the east coast of Mexico. As you can see, the situation is complicated.
The authors in the first article make an even more ludicrous point. First, as usual, they conflate the “Aztecs” a single tribe called the Mexica, amongst Mexico’s over 200 tribes, that only lived around Mexico City, with all Mexicans.
According to idiot Chicano nationalists, all Mexicans with Indian blood are Mexica or part Mexica! That’s nuts. As noted, there were tribes all over the land, and the Mexica were only one of 200 or so. It’s as if one said that every Italian comes from Rome.
Next, they say that all of the tribes related to the Mexicas were “Mexicas” because they spoke Nahuatl languages. They certainly were not! It’s nonsense. Are all speakers of Indo-European languages the one and same group because they all came out the Indo-European homeland in Southern Ukraine 8,000 years ago?
Even worse, these fools claim that all Central Americans were Aztecs and get to go invade the USA because it’s home sweet home.
Ridiculous. There is only one tribe, the Pipil in El Salvador, that still speaks a Nahuatl language, and there are only 20 speakers left. There were a few other Nahuatl languages in Honduras, Panama and Guatemala, but these are long since extinct. They were not “Aztecs” anymore than English-speakers in the US are “Germans”.
However, the Pipil did come from the area around Mexico City around 1000 years ago; they were related to Olmecs, but also to the Nahuatl. In general, they were an Olmec grouping. Anyway, at that time, there were no such thing as Mexicas or Aztecs – that group came later. Another group of Pipil had come to Central America 5000 years ago and came under the influence of the Maya.
This is around the time when Proto-Uto-Aztecan itself was born in the southwest US. Both of these groups, by 1000 AD, became the Pipil, who came under even more Maya influence.
The Pipil are almost extinct culturally and linguistically today, an end result of the Matanza, when 10,000-30,000 Indians were slaughtered in only a few weeks in El Salvador in 1932, while US warships patrolled off the coast in case the victims of the genocide tried to fight back.
After that, most Salvadoran Indians took off their Indian clothes and quit speaking Indian languages, especially since Pipil was outlawed. They also intermarried heavily with non-Indians, so that to this day, only 1% of El Salvador’s population are Indians. The area of the Matanza became one of the most conservative, pro-government parts of El Salvador, little effected by the Civil War from 1980-1993.
The leader of the rebellion that set off the Matanza was Farabundo Marti, head of the Salvadoran Communist Party. The rebels that fought in the Civil War later on took their name, Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, from him.
The cult surrounding Zionism is much the same as the Aztlan nonsense. True, Jews ruled the area long ago, but only for a brief time, similar to the Aztecs. Further, similar conflations are made about the Judean Empire and the Aztlan Empire, Judean language and religion and actual Jews and Jewish religion and the relevance of ancient Judean religion to the Jewish religion today.
Also similar is the outrageous notion that some group has a right to go back to its ancient homeland of 2000-5000 years ago, settle there at will, and even make a state there. Some of the radical Atzlanistas, similar to Zionists, also suggest throwing out the natives (in the case of the Aztlanistas the Whites, who came starting 400 years ago) since they are “invaders squatting on the true homeland”.
In this same nonsensical way, Zionists project their own invasion of Palestine and squatting on Palestinian land off onto the victim. The Arabs, who came 1450 years ago, are the “invaders”, who have been squatting on “Jewish land” since then. Never mind that the Jews left 2000 years ago. They owned Palestine in their hearts in the intervening 1900 years, and Zionism claims that that trumps a property deed!
Zionism’s proponents are Jews, the smartest folks on Earth, who ought to know better. But ultra-nationalism can easily make a fool of the finest man.
See Joachim Martillo’s site, Ethnic Ashkenazim Against Zionist Israel, for more. In particular, his superb Issues and Questions In the Historiography of Pre-State Zionism (90 pp.!), is a piece which deserves much wider reading. Martillo has some tendency towards fanaticism (but this also drives him to produce), can be an ideologue, and is sometimes guilty of trying to make facts fit theory as opposed to otherwise.
However, these (especially making the facts fit theory) are chronic problems with most all social scientists, as Kevin MacDonald has observed.
At the least, the brilliant Martillo should be more widely read, if only to subject his interesting theories to the critical light of peer review to separate wheat from chaff. And the 90 page link above is just sublime, in particular in the way that it takes apart the primordial nonsense of Zionism in the same way we attacked the similar primordialism of the Atzlanistas in this post.
*Eduardo Matos Moctezuma, The Great Temple of the Aztecs: Treasures of Tenochtitlan, New York: Thames and Hudson, 1988) 38.

Great Commie Blogs

Repost from the old site.
Two totally great Commie blogs – People’s Movement Support Group and Machetera .
PMSG is out of India with an emphasis on support for the Maoist revolutionaries in India along with the separatists in the Northeast (India’s armed Maoists tend to support the northeastern separatists), and it’s almost all translated stuff from the world press, but there is a strong emphasis on armed Leftwing revolutionary movements.
Thankfully, he is not a fanatic – he supports Cuba, the Maoists in Nepal and especially in India, the FARC in Colombia, the EPR and EZLN in Mexico, the MRTA in Peru and the NPA Maoists in Philippines. In Palestine, he supports the PFLP! What is interesting about this is that in many cases orthodox Maoists do not support non-Maoists like the FARC or Cuba or surely the MRTA on grounds that they are not Commie enough.
Yay!
He also supports armed separatists in the Basque Country, Kurdistan, Ireland ( IRA), Sri Lanka and in India’s Northeast.
If there are leftwing maniacs anywhere on Earth with guns and bombs, he backs them up 100% (other than Sendero Luminoso). That’s some real consistency and style.
Living here in the US, one thing you notice right away is that almost every single human being you meet (who has an opinion on the issue) absolutely hates all guerrillas anywhere on Earth. This is true even for almost all US liberals, and even, incredibly, for many US Leftists.
The line of the average American is clear: All guerrillas are evil. They are all terrorists. In particular, Americans seem to really hate any kind of armed separatists or separatists of any type. This is kind of odd in that we were birthed via revolution, and there is no reason to fear separatism here as there isn’t any armed separatism in the US (or anywhere in the Americas) and probably never will be.
So Americans have turned into some of the biggest state-fetishists on Earth. Only the state can have guns. Only the state must have a monopoly on violence. All guerrillas are terrorists, terrorists are evil, and they all need to be killed to preserve the civilized world. All separatists are scum, states alone have the right to draw borders, and self-determination will never be allowed to anyone.
Death squads are fine and dandy, and every state is a democracy, no matter how murderous. The people never have the right to take up arms against any state anywhere, unless I guess it is Communist.
In other words, Americans have turned their backs completely on the noble spirit of the American revolution and have become the philosophical heirs to King George’s colonists. We have also become Israelis. They are colonists too. See any connections yet?
Machetera is definitely a blog after my heart. I get called a Stalinist a lot on here, but that’s not necessarily true. I do defend Stalin in some ways, mostly just to counteract the nonsense about “the biggest murderer that ever lived”, by pointing out the many great, humanitarian and life-saving things he did. He also killed a lot of people, and I think it many cases that was just plain wrong or even flat out evil.
Honestly, I would really prefer that we Lefties stopped killing people once we got into power. Other than the obvious moral questions, it has given the Right a gigantic shot in the arm by portraying us a the biggest murderers that ever lived. This has been so successful that many people around the world are frightened to let the hard Left back into power due to fear that they may start killing people.
So it is that I am a big fan of Castro’s Cuba, a place where the state has hardly killed a single political prisoner since 1970. They put a few in jail, but that’s not the same thing. By the way, I think the Cubans should go out of their way to treat the jailed political prisoners well, if only to deprive the anti-Commies of their propaganda snacks.
On the Majority Rights (careful – very nasty WN blog) blog a while back I was called a Castroite. That’s not a bad portrayal of me.
There is such a thing, and the Castroite philosophy, a Left, and sometimes an armed Left, that is particular to Latin America, is quite well portrayed on Machetera. So if you want to see what a Castroite looks like, head on over. They’ve actually long had conflicts with anarchists, Maoists and even some Trotskyites.
The Castroite philosophy could be best seen in the revolutionary movements that arose in Latin America in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Prior to that, there were a number of small bands in Peru, Bolivia and Venezuela that were wiped out. These were often influenced by Regis Debray’s flawed foco philosophy of armed revolution. Che’s fated project in Bolivia in 1966 is another example.
The ELN and the FARC in Colombia are very much Castroite (especially the ELN), with the ELN having a very strong Catholic liberation theology flavor. The FARC is probably a bit more rooted in an indigenous Colombian Left with roots in that nation’s particular history.
There are now branches of the FARC in Ecuador (FARE), Brazil (FARB), Panama (FARC), Venezuela (FARV) and Peru (FARP). The FARC extend all the way to Guyana, where they tax the gold mines. In 1984, the MRTA Castroites arose in Peru, but were eventually eclipsed by the Shining Path.
The Sandinistas of Nicaragua, the FMLN of El Salvador and the URNG of El Salvador and various small guerrilla bands in Honduras in the 1980’s were all Castroites, and the FMLN and the Sandinistas still have Castroite roots, though they have moved to the Right.
Chavez in Venezuela, Correa in Ecuador and Morales in Bolivia are very much in this special tradition.
There are many aspects to Castroism, and it is hard to put it down succinctly. Typically, many are Catholics and there is a lack of hostility to religion. They are less anti-Semitic than most Latin American Catholics (anti-Semitism is big in a continent with few Jews), in part because some of their leaders have been Jewish.
They tend to be much more pragmatic than Maoists, and are often prone to be called revisionists by the latter. There is a strong anti-Yankee and anti-US strain. The cult of Che Guevara is very important. The role of the peasants is very strong, but not in a Maoist sense.
The role of urban workers is somewhat important but not crucial, in part because the area is not well industrialized. But the industrial and professional unions are strongly supported.
There is a lacks of sexual puritanicalism that typified many existing Communist states. There is a significant de-emphasis on the Indian Question (while it is recognized nevertheless. This in contrast to Sendero, who raised the Indian Question to prime status. There is a very flexible ideology that often incorporates electoral democracy and mixed economies.
Class is much more important than race or sex, though the Woman Question is important. Female guerrillas often make up very large percentages of fighters, and in guerrilla ranks all aspects of Latin American machismo that oppresses women are banned.
Machetera is characterized by support for Cuba. Along the way, there are also shout-outs for Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Rafael Correa in Ecuador. The PFLP in Palestine have always had a fondness for Che Guevara and Cuba, and Cuba has long supported the PLO. Furthermore, she is a fine writer, witty and smart.

George Habash, a Revolutionary Life

Repost from the old site.
The following tribute to George Habash, leader of the Palestinian Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) was delivered to a meeting organized by the CPGB-ML in Central London on Saturday 10 February 2008. The Communist Party Great Britain Marxist-Leninist, basically a hardline pro-Stalin group, last time I checked. This document is interesting for various reasons.
For one, it shows that hardline Communist rhetoric in the style of the former USSR is still popular. The PFLP are lauded for being a hardline Marxist-Leninist organization. It’s hard to say whether they still are or not, as they seem to be downplaying this in recent years, and no one really knows what Communism even means anymore.
It is true that there was a Communist state in South Yemen, but I am not sure if they accomplished much down there.
One of the biggest heroes of the Arab Left is Gamel Nasser, leader of Egypt. One great thing that he did do was to initiate a land reform. Most Arab states probably do not have feudal or semi-feudal land relations in the countryside anymore, but Egypt did in the 1950’s. 10% of landowners owned most land, and 25% of landowners owned almost all of the land.
The vast majority of the rural population was reduced to the status of landless laborers or sharecroppers in debt peonage on the land of the landlords.
Nasser was able to break up the large estates by buying them up via the government and giving the land to the sharecroppers. It was one of the great progressive events in modern Arab history. Back in the day in Yemen, you would go into the houses of the poor in South Yemen and see Nasser’s picture on the wall – they knew he was a hero to the Arab poor, and mostly for the land reform.
Unfortunately, land reform was not enough. Population was exploding and Egypt desperately needed to put more farmland into production. Hence the Aswan Dam, a necessary evil.
But even this did not solve the problems, as the rural poor continued to pour into the cities to look for nonexistent work. The landowners were bought off by assuring them a place in industry, which was and is heavily corrupt and tied in with the state. But the Egyptian economy was so shaky that the rich didn’t really feel like investing in it.
Socialism was and is a pretty easy sell across the Arab World, in part due to Islam. Islam is a pretty socialist religion, although fundamentalists will argue the point with you and point out that the Koran says that there are those who have more and those who have less and this is ok. Nevertheless, the Koran is hardly a raging individualist tract.
Nor are the deserts of the Arab World suited for individualism. In such an environment, the every man for himself libertarian is lost and probably dead quite quickly. One must form alliances or one will be destroyed. One must work cooperatively or the elements will take your life. In a world of perennial scarcity, mass hoarding by a few means death for many more.
Hence, in the past century, most independent Arab states have opted for some kind of socialism. Where the states could not do it, the religious or militant groups did. There is no hatred of welfare or government as we have it in the individualist US. Socialism is simply normal and free market libertarianism is seen as a bizarre and cruel aberration.
Nevertheless, in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and probably other places, the clergy did resist land reforms on the grounds that they were un-Islamic. Iraq, newly emerging from semi-feudal relations in the 1960’s, saw the Iraqi Communist Party become one of the largest parties in the country. It was particularly popular with poor Shia who flooded in from the countryside and poured into what later became Sadr City.
At that time, the Shia clergy were widely regarded as corrupt. They were tied in with large landowners, often involved in money-making scams, and were noted for enticing women into sexual relationships with them.
One of the few great things that the Shah of Iran did was to institute a land reform to realign the semi-feudal relations in the Iranian countryside. It went off pretty well, but some ethnic groups opposed it and hence were persecuted.
The tone of the Communist Party Great Britain Marxist-Leninist in the statement below is what might be called Stalinist or anti-revisionist.
Anti-revisionists hold that the problems with Communist states came from them leaving the path of true Communism and diluting their economies with capitalist relations. I do not know how much there is to that, so I can’t comment on revisionism. But even staunch Marxist sites nowadays post long pieces stating flat out that the Soviet model failed.
The North Star Compass is a pretty interesting site. It’s run by former Communists from the East Bloc and the USSR, and it is dedicated to the reestablishing of the Soviet Union as a socialist state. For these folks, Gorbachev was enemy #1. There are quite a few interesting essays there, and for those who think that Putin is a Communist, these guys really hate Putin.
For those who think that Russian Communists are all racists and anti-Semites, note that the North Star Compass despises the newly emerging fascist threat in the USSR.
There are many Trotskyite sites on the Net. The Trotskyites used to be totally nuts on the question of “Stalinists”. Can you believe that they supported the German attack on the USSR and opposed the Soviet army’s war in Afghanistan?
Trotskyites seem to have calmed down a lot lately. Many of them are supporting the Nepalese Maoists and the Colombian FARC. They even support Cuba. Usually this is measured with a tone that these states and movements would be better off if they adopted Trotskyism. Truth is that it is possible that Trotskyism has hardly even be tried anywhere, except possibly in the USSR from 1917-1922.
Trotskyites have a reputation as the ultimate splitters, and in the Philippines they have, incredibly, taken up arms alongside the feudal and fascist state against the Maoist NPA. In Defense of Marxism is a good example of a Trotskyite site.
It seems that many Communists nowadays in the West are Trotskyites of some sort. No one really knows what to make of them, and many Stalinists just laugh about them and regard them as irrelevant. Western Trotskyites seem to have a lot of money for some reason, and often put up nice websites. Non-Trotskyite Communist sites often have mild critiques of Trotskyism as some sort of irrelevant hairsplitting movement.
Western Trotskyites were heavily Jewish in the West until 1967 or possibly earlier. World Trotskyism opposed Israel in the Six Day War and Jewish Trotskyites consequently defected en masse. Many seem to have made their way into the neoconservative movement.
There are a variety of reasons for the heavy Jewish presence in Trotskyism, and that Trotsky himself was Jewish cannot be ignored. Trots have tended to oppose both Stalinism and Maoism as horribly brutal ideologies that committed atrocious human rights violations. Trotskyism has been a serious movement only in the West and it has tended to flounder in the rest of the world.
One of the Trots’ main points is that a rapid buildup of urban industry is essential for the development of a modern socialist state. Trots are almost the opposite of the Maoists and their emphasis on the peasantry.
There are sites that basically uphold the former USSR and even Stalin, but they are often angry at Maoists, whom they accuse of adventurism. In India, Maoists are killing traditional Communists in the state of Bengal, a state that has been run by pro-Soviet Communists for about 30 years now.
Marxism-Leninism Today is an example of a pro-USSR, pro-Cuba, anti-Maoist site. They support the CPI-M (Communist Party India-Marxist) in Bengal and are not too happy with the Indian Maoists for killing their comrades.
Here is a cool site by a Georgian artist who is the grandson of Joseph Stalin, showing the Stalin family tree among other things.
Stalinism.ru is a site run by Russian Stalinists, but if you can’t read Russian, it’s not for you.
The National Bolshevik Party is some sort of a bizarre marriage of Stalinism and racial nationalism (I don’t want to say Nazism, but I fear that is what it is). It’s Russian too, but check out the scary party image, complete with Nordic lettering, and the background on the homepage. Lots of related links at the bottom – looks like they have chapters all over the place.
Another great site, coming from a somewhat different point of view, a Maoist one, is the Single Spark. Although Maoists are often described as ultra-Stalinists, Maoists and Stalinists are not necessarily the same thing.
The Maoists have always been the real bomb-throwers on the Far Left.
Despite Cold War rhetoric, pro-Soviet Communists often did not take up armed struggle until all peaceful avenues for change were blocked, and the Left was up against a death squad state. Otherwise, the idea was to try to gain power through parliamentary means, despite Lenin’s denouncements of “parliamentary cretinism”.
If the state was reasonably democratic and not killing the Left, the pro-Soviets often argued that “an objectively revolutionary situation did not exist”. On the other hand, Maoists tend to reject all bourgeois democracy as invalid, particularly in very backward societies with mass extreme poverty and accompanying disease, hunger and premature death.
Hence, Maoists have launched insurgencies against formally democratic states as Peru, Sri Lanka, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Philippines, Nepal and India in recent years. In most of these cases, the pro-Soviet Left decided to sit out armed struggle, and the Maoists were denounced as adventurists irresponsibly taking up arms in spite of a lack of an objectively revolutionary situation.
In Peru, the war launched by the Shining Path led to a state that was less and less democratic and soon became just another Death Squad State. Thus in 1984, the pro-Cuban Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) took a vote and decided that “an objectively revolutionary situation existed” and opted to take up arms.
Another difference is that despite Cold War rhetoric, Maoists are often a lot more vicious than the Castroites and pro-Soviet rebels. Maoists have no qualms about killing “class enemies” – anyone prominent advocating rightwing politics or abusive landowners – whereas the Castroites often try to take the high ground in guerrilla war.
Examples in Latin America are the Castroite ELN in Colombia, URNG in Guatemala, FSLN in Nicaragua, FMLN in El Salvador, the aforementioned MRTA, and the FARC in Colombia. Despite crap from anti-Communists and the US government, all these groups have tried pretty hard to abide by the rules of war. At any rate, the overwhelming majority of grotesque human rights violations in each of these conflicts were committed by the state.
On the other hand, the Maoist Sendero Luminoso was a profoundly savage and cruel guerrilla group, though they almost seized power.
Communism doesn’t mean that much anymore. Cuba allows religious believers to join the party, and there are millions of liberation theology Leftist Catholics in Latin America and the Philippines. The Chinese and Vietnamese Communists have introduced major elements of capitalism into their economies, while retaining a great deal of socialism at the same time.
Over the course of a few years, from 2003 to 2005 and 2006, the Nepalese Maoists underwent a sea change in politics. They went from hardline Maoists railing against revisionists and opposing anything but the dictatorship of the proletariat, to an embrace of multiparty democracy and a mixed economy and measured critiques of Mao, Lenin and Stalin as outdated for the needs and realities of today.
I think this is fantastic. I care nothing about dogma. I just want results, and I don’t really care how you get there – capitalism, socialism, communism or whatever. If Marxism is indeed an ever-evolving science (which, if it is a science, it must be) then there must be no treating its elementary texts as some sort of religious books.
The works of Marx, Lenin, Mao and others must be regarded as the works of men, not Gods, positing theories. These theories must be tested in praxis to see how well they test out, as in any empirical investigation. The theories of these mortals will either test out or they will not, and if not, we need to adjust them accordingly.
We know what our goals are; all that is at stake is how to get there.
Let us listen to top leader Prachanda and other Nepalese Maoist leaders, from the Single Spark site:

Since MLM is a progressive science, the people’s war calls for ideology and leadership that is capable to complete a new People’s War in the 21st century. Our Party’s CC Extended Meeting last September held that the ideologies of Lenin and Mao have become old and inadequate to lead the present international revolution.
The political and organizational report passed by the meeting says, ‘The proletariat revolutionaries of the 21st century need to pay their serious attention towards that fact that in today’s ground reality, Lenin and Mao’s analysis of imperialism and various notions relation to proletariat strategies based on it have lagged behind.’
As Marxism was born in an age of competitive capitalism, the strategies and working policy formulated during the times of Marx had become old when they arrived at Lenin’s times of imperialism and proletariat revolution.
Similarly, the ideologies developed by Lenin and Mao at the initial phase of international imperialism and proletariat revolution have become inadequate and lagged behind at the present imperialistic phase. Therefore, ‘the main issue is to develop MLM in the 21st century and to determine a new proletariat strategy.1
The second [wrong trend] …is not to concentrate on how
revolutionary struggle can be developed in one’s country by developing correct strategy and tactics, but to talk more of world revolution, enjoy classical debate, eulogize strategy and tactic of the past successful revolutions, teach other fraternal parties as if they know everything about the concrete situation in that country and stick to what Lenin and Mao had said before. This trend represents dogmatism.2
What we think is that situation has undergone a considerable
change, so the communist revolutionaries must not stick to what Lenin had said about insurrection and what Mao had said on Protracted People’s War.3
Q. You have envisioned a people’s republic, no?
Prachanda: Mao Zedong’s People’s Republic cannot fulfill the needs of today’s world. It cannot address today’s political awareness appropriately. Mao said cooperative party theory; we called it competitive party theory. We have said let’s move ahead from the conventional People’s Republic and develop it as per the specialties of the 21st century.
Q. You do not follow the old concept of communism?
Prachanda: Definitely not. What happened without competition? In the USSR, Stalin gave no place to competition and went ahead in a monolithic way. What was the result?4
Does Communism make sense today?
P: It’s a big question, starting with Marx, Lenin and Mao Zedong, who wanted to apply the Marxist teachings in semi colonial countries. Now, we still need Marxism, but in accordance to the needs of the 21st century. We have to apply Marxist science in a very new context, understanding social, economic and also technological changes, without dogmatism and without sectarianism.
We are trying to develop a completely new concept, different from what happened in the past century. When we are in the government, our experiment will surprise everybody.
This will happen only if foreign investors trust a communist government…
P: Yes, I know. We cannot ignore the whole process of liberalization in the world. So, we will apply mixed economics to this country. Right now, we are not saying that we plan a total socialist economy, though we will not blindly follow western liberalism. We have some national priorities and we will welcome foreign investors, using capital from abroad for the well being of Nepal.5
Though Mao made some bold experiments to revive and develop socialist democracy, his efforts did not result in any qualitative advance. Why did socialist democracy ultimately fail? Why did it have to bear the stigma of ‘totalitarianism’ from its adversaries? If the revolutionary communists of the 21st century have ‘to win the battle for democracy’, as Marx and Engels had declared in the famous Communist Manifesto, we must dare to question the past practice in socialist democracy and take some bold initiatives.6.
All selections from this document7.

CPGB-ML Tribute to Habash

In his 1944 speech, “Serve the People”, Comrade Mao Zedong said these famous words:

All men must die, but death can vary in its significance. The ancient Chinese writer Szuma Chien said: ‘Though death befalls all men alike, it may be weightier than Mount Tai or lighter than a feather.’ To die for the people is weightier than Mount Tai, but to work for the fascists and die for the exploiters and oppressors is lighter than a feather.

Today, the heroic Palestinian people are continuing to resist, whether in the breaking of the barrier with Egypt to alleviate the genocidal siege of Gaza, or in the martyrdom operation at Dimona, the nuclear site where imperialism and its stooges do not demand inspections, to express a sense of grief at the loss of Al-Hakim, Dr George Habash, one of the greatest leaders of the Palestinian people, and, more importantly, to celebrate his glorious life and give real political vitality and clarity to the essential work of building solidarity with the Palestinian people in the British working class and in the anti-war and other progressive movements.

Nice memorial poster of PFLP leader George Habash. In all of the obits in the US news, few detailed the reason for the radicalization of Habash. At university in Lebanon, he was apolitical and preferred to play guitar. He raced home during the “Israeli War of Independence” to his home in Lydda. Jewish militias attacked the town and forced 95% of the city to flee.
Most were Palestinian Christians. His sister died of typhoid fever during the siege of the town and Habash buried her in the backyard. He blamed the Jews for blocking access to the hospital that could have saved her. There were some notorious massacres of Palestinians during the attack on Lydda, including the execution of many young men in a mosque.
The Jews forced Habash and others to line up and leave their homes and all of their possessions. One man asked if he could return to get the keys to his house and for making this request, he was shot dead in front of Habash’s eyes. From that point on, the apolitical future doctor was transformed into a revolutionary.


Comrade George Habash, who has passed away at the age of 82, gave more than six decades of his life to the revolution. He was born into a prosperous Greek Orthodox family in the Palestinian city of Lydda.
At that time, the Palestinian people were under the rule of the British colonial mandate, which was systematically preparing the way for the creation of a Zionist settler colonial state, which, in the words of Sir Roland Storrs, the first British governor of Jerusalem in the 1920s, would form “for England a ‘little loyal Jewish Ulster’ in a sea of potentially hostile Arabism”.
In the summer of 1948, whilst studying medicine in Beirut, George went back home to help organise resistance to the Zionist catastrophe that was sweeping over the Palestinian people, driving them from their ancestral homes and lands into exile and dispossession.
At this time, he and his whole family, along with 95 percent of the inhabitants of his native city, were forced out at gunpoint by the Zionist terrorists and ethnic cleansers commanded by Yitzhak Rabin. Years later, Habash was to observe:

It is a sight I shall never forget. Thousands of human beings expelled from their homes, running, crying, shouting in terror. After seeing such a thing, you cannot but become a revolutionary.

During al-Nakba, the catastrophe, more than 700,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes and lands, made stateless and refugees.
Graduating as the first in his class, Dr Habash eschewed the chance to pursue a lucrative career, opting instead to open a people’s clinic offering free treatment and a school for refugees in the Jordanian capital, Amman.
Around this same time, he and his comrades founded the Arab Nationalist Movement (ANM), the first pan-Arab movement to take up armed struggle against colonialism and to win back the lost lands.
The significance of the ANM should not be underestimated. Not only was it to be the root of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP); from its ranks also came revolutionary forces in many parts of the Arab homeland, including the National Liberation Front in Aden and South Yemen, which not only defeated British imperialism in a revolutionary armed struggle to win national liberation, but, later as the Yemen Socialist Party, leading the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, stood in the vanguard of to date the only real attempt to build an Arab socialist state on the basis of the scientific principles of Marxism-Leninism and the dictatorship of the proletariat.
In the 1960s, Comrade Habash, like many other anti-imperialist fighters then, before and since, came to accept that the liberation struggle of the oppressed people, if it was to be crowned with success and carried through to the end, needed to be based on Marxism-Leninism. Lamis Andoni, an analyst for al-Jazeera, who knew Comrade Habash well, expressed matters this way in his tribute to his friend:

He belonged to a generation influenced by Franz Fanon, Mao Zedong, General Vo Nguyen Giap and later by Che Guevara. In their views, colonialism epitomised systematic, institutional violence and subjugation of people under its control …
In the early 1960s, George Habash, already a paediatrician in Amman known for treating the poor for free, endorsed Marxism as he grew convinced that the national struggle should not be separate from the struggle for social justice.

After the founding of the PFLP in December 1967, following the Arabs’ bitter defeat in the June 1967 war, Habash declared that the struggle was “not merely to free Palestine from the Zionists but also to free the Arab world from remnants” of Western colonial rule. All Arab revolutionaries, he said, “must be Marxist, because Marxism is the expression of the aspirations of the working class”.
In a 1969 interview, he declared:

By 1967, we had understood the undeniable truth, that to liberate Palestine we have to follow the Chinese and Vietnamese examples.

Indeed, Comrade Habash paid close attention not only to the Chinese and Vietnamese revolutions, but to the experience of all the socialist countries and the revolutionary movement in all parts of the world.
Cuba and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were also two countries close to his heart and with which he and the PFLP forged tight bonds of active solidarity. In the memorial hall for Comrade Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang, the Korean comrades proudly display the several awards and medals presented to their great leader by the PFLP over the years.
Under Habash’s leadership, the PFLP forged close and active ties of combat solidarity with national liberation movements in all parts of the world – the ANC in South Africa, the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, and the Irish Republican Movement, to name but a few, embracing training, material assistance, joint operations and moral encouragement.
In the September 1970 hijackings that gave the PFLP worldwide fame, Leila Khaled was joined by Patrick Arguello Ryan, a militant of the Sandinista National Liberation Front and the only martyr of those operations.
In 1983, after the Nicaraguan revolution, the Sandinistas commemorated Arguello by renaming the Geothermal Plant at Momotombo in his honour. A poster still available on the PFLP website describes Arguello as the “symbol of common Nicaraguan/Palestinian struggle”.
Comrade Habash sought to translate into reality, and himself embodied, these inspiring words of Che Guevara, which go to the very essence of proletarian internationalism:

Let the flag under which we fight be the sacred cause of the liberation of humanity so that to die under the colours of Vietnam, Venezuela, Guatemala, Bolivia, Brazil will be equally glorious and desirable for a Latin American, an Asian, an African and even a European.

Comrades, The Palestinian revolution is a complex and difficult one, throwing up many challenges and inevitably differences of view. Equally inevitably, Comrade Habash often found himself embroiled in internal controversy, particularly in terms of the sometimes painful compromises, concessions and retreats that have been forced on the Palestinian people at various times.
But what shines out is the fact that he never lost sight of the importance of unity in the national liberation movement.
In their own tribute to their leader, the PFLP put matters this way:

In 1987, with the outbreak of the great Intifada, Dr. Habash called for upholding Palestinian national unity, and convening the Palestinian National Congress in Algeria in 1988.
Comrade Al-Hakim always understood national unity as a necessary condition for the continuation of the struggle and the national liberation movement, whether in Beirut during internal fighting among Palestinians and after as well, recognising that the internal contradictions among Palestinians could not be solved through military mechanisms, but rather through the democratic processes of the liberation movement.

Lamis Andoni, to whom we have already referred, wrote:

‘His message to the Palestinians was to restore our unity,’ Issam Al Taher, a senior aide, who saw him a day before his death said.‘Unity, unity, unity — that was his only message,’ said Al Taher.

Andoni notes of the relationship between George Habash and Yasser Arafat:

The two men never severed ties and continued a complex relationship of camaraderie and rivalry until the end.

Andoni continued:

Tall and handsome, Habash exuded a certain charisma that disarmed his distracters who admired his persistence but criticised what they saw as rigidity. A stroke that partially paralysed half of his body changed his appearance later but did not affect his ardour for the cause.It was that Habash that I saw and met for the first time in Tunis in 1983. The PLO was expelled from Beirut too and most its leaders moved to this northern Mediterranean capital of Tunisia. Habash moved to Damascus, Syria instead.
On that day the PLO was holding a meeting. Most of the leaders had arrived and then there was a stir and silence. Habash entered slowly on crutches, hampered and subdued by his physical disability.
The hall, filled with hardened fighters, stood on their feet while Arafat hugged Habash and escorted him to his seat.

Of the final period of Habash’s life, Andoni notes:

He would get so distressed during conversations discussing the events in Palestine and most recently in Iraq, that his wife, and closest friend Hilda, would interfere to stop it.When Israel besieged Arafat in 2002 in his compound in Ramallah, Habash stood by his rival. When Arafat died, amid Palestinian suspicion that Israel may have been involved, Habash deeply mourned him.
The few times I was able to see him over the last three years, he never stopped monitoring and learning every detail about Palestinian life. His physical ailment deepened the sense of soulful pain he internalised.
Those who were with him during his last days recall how disturbed he was by the rift between Fatah and Hamas. He opposed the strategy of Mahmoud Abbas, the current Palestinian president, of accommodating US and Israeli demands but did not endorse Hamas’ military take over of Gaza.
His main concern was the damage brought upon the Palestinians by the most serious internal rift in their history.

It is not surprising, therefore, that the mourning for Comrade Habash has transcended the differences in the Palestinian ranks. President Mahmoud Abbas declared three days of national mourning, noting that Habash had dedicated his life to struggling for his people. Hamas leader Ismail Haneya said, “Dr. George Habash spent all his life struggling for the cause of the Palestinian people.”
Islamic Jihad described him as a “real leader” and other Palestinian organisations paying their tributes included the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Palestine Popular Struggle Front, who said that his path was and is one of liberation for the Palestinian and Arab people.
In its December 1967 Founding Statement, the PFLP declared:

The masses are the authority, the guide, and the resistance leadership from which victory will be achieved in the end. It is necessary to recruit the popular masses and mobilise them as active participants and leaders …
The only language that the enemy understands is the language of revolutionary violence …
The slogan of our masses must be resistance until victory, rooted in the heart with our feet planted on the ground in deep commitment to our land. Today, the Popular Front is hailing our masses with this call. This is the appeal. We must repeat it every day, through every breakthrough bullet and the fall of each martyr, that the land of Palestine today belongs to all the masses.
Every area of our land belongs to our masses who have defended it against the presence of the usurper, every piece of land, every rock and stone, our masses will not abandon one inch of them because they belong to the legions of the poor and hungry and displaced persons …
The struggle of the Palestinian people is linked with the struggle of the forces of revolution and progress in the world, the format of the coalition that we face requires a corresponding … coalition including all the forces of anti-imperialism in every part of the world.

Much more can be said on the life, work and legacy of Comrade Habash, but in summary these are some of the things he advocated and taught:
• That the fundamental way to liberation lies through armed struggle and people’s war based on the masses.
• That for the struggle to be successful and carried through to the end it needs to be based on Marxism-Leninism, the scientific world outlook of the working class.
• That the oppressed peoples must uphold proletarian internationalism in their struggle for liberation, based on militant unity within and between the three major currents of the world revolutionary process, the socialist countries, the national liberation movements, and the working-class movement in the imperialist heartlands.
• That the liberation of the nation necessitated the principled and democratic unity of all the forces of the nation, even though major differences will also exist and must be struggled over.
Clearly, all these are not just lessons for the Palestinian people alone.
In June 2000, age and ill health led Comrade Habash to step back from the day-to-day leadership of the PFLP. Giving an inspiring speech on that occasion, in many respects he wrote his own epitaph. He told his comrades:

What I have lived through over the course of these militant decades, and the rich experience I have acquired, is not a matter to be taken for granted. It is your right, and the right of coming generations to review the content and lessons of this experience with all of its many successes and failures.

As befits a man who gave all of his own life and strength to the revolution, Comrade Habash said of the martyrs, the prisoners and his comrades, and it is with Comrade Habash’s own words, from his farewell address, Palestine Between Dreams and Reality, that we conclude this tribute:

I remember each of the martyrs, one by one, and without exception – those martyrs to whom we are indebted, for whom we must continue the struggle, holding fast to the dream and holding fast to hope, and protecting the rights of the people for whom they shed their blood. Their children and their families have a right to be honoured and cared for. This is the least we can do for those blazing stars in the skies of our homeland.I also remember now the heroic prisoners in the jails of the occupation and the prisons of the Palestinian Authority – those militants who remind us morning and night of our patriotic duty by the fact that they are still there behind bars and by the fact that the occupation still squats on our chests. Each prisoner deserves the noblest signs of respect …
Now permit me to express my gratitude to all the comrades who have worked with me and helped me, whether in the Arab Nationalist Movement or in the Popular Front. They stood beside me during the hardest conditions and the darkest of times, and they were a great help and support for me. Without them I would not have been able to carry out my responsibilities.
They have been true comrades, in all that the word implies. Those comrades helped to create a congenial atmosphere, an environment of political, theoretical, and intellectual interaction that enabled me to do all that was required. Those comrades have a big place in my heart and mind.
I offer all my thanks and appreciation to each one of them by name. In addition, to the comrades who vigilantly guarded me, looking out for my safety, all these long years, I offer my gratitude …
As a last word, I feel it necessary to say that I know well that the goals for which I worked and struggled have not yet been attained. And I cannot say how or when they will be attained. But on the other hand, I know in light of my study of the march of history in general, and of Arab and Palestinian history in particular, that they will be attained.
In spite of this bitter truth, I leave my task as General Secretary of the Front with a contented mind and conscience. My conscience is content because I did my duty and worked with the greatest possible effort and with complete and deep sincerity. My mind is content because throughout my working years, I continually based myself on the practice of self-criticism.
It is important to say also that I will pay close attention to all your observations and assessments of the course taken by the Popular Front while I was its General Secretary. I must emphasise that with the same close attention, if not with greater attention, I will follow and take to heart the observations and assessments of the Palestinian and Arab people on this course and my role in it.
My aim in this closing speech has been to say to you – and not only to you, but to all the detainees, or those who experienced detention, to the families of the martyrs, to the children of the martyrs, to those who were wounded, to all who sacrificed and gave for the cause – that your sacrifice has not been in vain.
The just goals and legitimate rights which they have struggled and given their lives for will be attained, sooner or later. I say again that I don’t know when, but they will be attained.
And my aim, again and again, is to emphasise the need for you to persist in the struggle to serve our people, for the good of all Palestinians and Arabs – the good that lies in a just and legitimate cause, as it does in the realisation of the good for all those who are oppressed and wronged.
You must always be of calm mind, and of contented conscience, with a strong resolve and a steel will, for you have been and still are in the camp of justice and progress, the camp whose just goals will be attained and which will inevitably attain its legitimate rights. For these are the lessons of history and reality, and no right is lost as long as there is someone fighting for it.

Notes

1. Ashok. (May 2006). Our Experiences of Ten Tumultuous Years of People’s War, The Worker#10, pp. 68-73. On Lenin and Mao, p. 71.
2. Basanta. (May 2006). International Dimension of Prachanda Path. The Worker #10, pp. 82-90.
3. Ibid. On Models: Page 87.
4. Kishor Nepal. (June 2006). Prachanda Interview. Maoist Revolution Digest.
5. Alessandro Gilioli. (Early November 2006). Prachanda: Our Revolution Won . L’espresso, Italy. Excerpts.
6. Prachanda. (November 18, 2006). Democracy: The Forbidden Fruit or Nectar for Progress? Speech at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in New Delhi.
7. MLM Revolutionary Study Group in the U.S. (Dec. 21, 2006). Assessing Recent Developments in Nepal: A Bibliography on the State, a Peaceful Transition to Socialism, Democracy and Dictatorship, Negotiations and Their Relevance to the International Communist Movement in the 21st Century.

Sendero Fades and FARC Rises in Peru

Repost from the old site.
Web Archive is your friend.
What wonderful dead Internet things it has managed to preserve for us, little snapshots long expired, such as Argentine Jewish journalist Uki Goni’s interview with Nicholas Shakespeare, author of the novel The Dancer Upstairs, based on the Shining Path* insurgency.
The novel was later made into a movie. Goni asks Shakespeare about the years he spent in Peru searching for Abimael Guzman (Presidente Gonzalo, leader of the Shining Path).
He never found him of course, but he did find a man who he said was the real brains behind the Sendero Luminoso movement, anthropologist Efrain Morote Best, former rector at the University of San Cristobal of Huamanga in Ayacucho, Peru from 1962-1968. This is where philosophy professor Guzman started his movement.
Many of the administrators, professors and students at the university were the nucleus of the movement, and Shining Path probably started 20 years before they burned ballot boxes in Chuschi, Ayacucho, on May 17, 1980, almost exactly 200 years after the last Inca rebel, Tupac Amaru, on May 17, 1781, was drawn and quartered by Spaniards, the four pieces then buried at far corners of Peru.
The Chuschi ballots burning was an inauspicious affair. At 2 AM, five masked youths and one adult entered the office of the registrar, tied him up, burned the ballots and registry and retreated into the night. The attack had been led by a schoolteacher. The incident was scarcely even noted in the press. But the single spark to light the prairie fire had been lit.
The correlation with the execution of Tupac Amaru was not accidental, yet this little-noted fact has hardly been noticed by anyone who studied the insurgency. But it has profound implications for understanding the movement.
Best’s son was the head on the military wing of Sendero and was the 2nd in command of the group. His brother and sister were also members. All were arrested and are serving sentences in prison. Best himself died in 1992. Shakespeare describes meeting Best in his hideout in northern Lima, surrounded by books and classical records, and coming face to face with the first truly evil man he had ever met.
Drinking coffee in Best’s home and talking for three hours, Shakespeare was shaking the whole time. Best had “no emotions”, while Gonzalo had “no personality” – an ascetic, humorless brainy type who bragged that he drank a bottle of mineral water on his honeymoon – this was his idea of a wild time.
Shakespeare’s interview paints Sendero as calculating and completely evil, a new Khmer Rouge. I do not necessarily agree with that, but I never supported them either. I believe that Sendero rejected Pol Pot’s back to nature Year Zero agrarianism, and surely they had nothing against intellectuals.
Indeed, it was a product of Mestizo intellectuals from the neglected provinces, victims of omnipresent racism and discrimination at the hands of the White ruling class.
Most of the cadres were young Mestizos, male and female, high school to college age, from the big cities on the coast and the provinces. Later there were many supporters amongst settlers in the jungle, amongst the ever-oppressed Indians in the Highlands, some jungle Indians and the urban poor and working class in Lima.
Shakespeare acts as if Sendero cared not one bit about the Indians. This is not true. The funeral of Edith Lagos, a fighter killed in 1982, drew over 30,000 (in a city of 70,000 people) – mostly Indians – to her funeral in Ayacucho, the capital of the province where it all began. The huge crowd had defied a ban on her funeral.
Furthermore, Lagos (rare photos of the strikingly beautiful Lagos here and here) had recently graduated from a Catholic high school run by nuns in Ayacucho. She had been a model student at the high school.
Earlier, her parents had sent her to Lima to study to be an attorney. She often skipped school to watch movies from India, because, she said, she liked to cry. When she was not doing that, she was meeting with trade union workers in the city and talking revolution.
She was rapidly recruited into the Shining Path and her rousing speeches electrified Indians throughout the Southern Sierra. At age 17, she was already a guerrilla commander. Lagos was captured several times by government forces. There is a photo of her in government custody in 1981, face swollen by beatings, 18 year old eyes already hard with determination. By now, Sendero held the northern third of Ayacucho.
On May 2, 1982, in one of Sendero’s most impressive actions, 500 Senderistas raided and took over the university city of Huamanga, a city of 80,000 people. They blew up the local jail and liberated 304 Senderistas, including Lagos. They held the city for a short time, confiscated every weapon in sight, and left.
After that, Sendero went on the offensive in Ayacucho. Bridges, electrical towers, police stations, barracks, banks and businesses were attacked. Three months later, President Belaunde declared a state of emergency in nine districts in the southern Andes and put them under military control. At the end of 1983, 8,000 peasants lay dead. Maybe 5% were Senderistas. The war was on.
Once, with other fighters, she blew a hole in the Ayacucho jail and liberated all of the Senderista prisoners. In the months before her death, a legend was born, the heroic Robin Hood guerrilla, a female Che Guevara. In the market of Huancayo, Edith Lagos wooden statues were already being sold, a young woman standing before a budding tree.
Legend* has it she was wounded in a shootout with authorities soon afterwards, apparently taken prisoner while alive, raped, tortured and finally bayoneted to death by government forces. She was all of 19 years old. This was pretty typical behavior by government forces.
In contrast, Sendero often tended to wounded government soldiers’ wounds, took them prisoner, and asked them to defect from the security forces or join Sendero.
Her father was asked to come to Andahualyas to identify the body. He came, picked up the body and took it back to Ayacucho. All along the way, the procession was repeatedly stopped as throngs of peasants poured into the road to mourn their dead heroine.
Her funeral and mass were held in the main Catholic (Lagos was a Catholic, as were most of rank and file Senderistas and even some of the leadership – Abimael Guzman himself is said to be Catholic) cathedral in Ayacucho, where her coffin was draped with a hammer and sickle flag inside church, an odd sight.
There is a rare videotape of the funeral. The chapel is packed with peasants, storeowners, government workers, all dressed in Indian garb. As her coffin is borne out of the church, a rousing, clapping chant rises from the crowd as it presses forward and drapes a hammer and sickle flag over her coffin: “Commandante Edith presente! The people will never forget your spilled blood!”
The crowd circled the square three times, each time swelling the crowd as more and more people poured out of their homes to join the march. Marching into the cemetery was a solid wall of humanity. The Shining Path banner rode on the outstretched arms of the crowd.
There are those who swear that Abimael Guzman himself was in the crowd. He may as well have been. The commanding officer of the police had ordered all of his men to stay inside during the procession.
Lagos is still regarded as a heroine by the local Indians at the time and for a long time afterwards. Her grave become a local shrine. Three times, government death squads blew up her grave to kill her vision. Three times, her father painstakingly rebuilt it, even though after the first blast there was not that much to put in there.
Each time he rebuilds it, he rewrites the poem that Lagos had composed before her death as her epitaph. Every year on the anniversary of her death, her mother brings a bouquet of yellow broom flowers to put on the grave, Sendero’s symbol of resistance. Even now, Edith Lagos banners, poems and sculptures festoon the city of Huamanga. The myth of Commandante Edith lives.
Lagos’ funeral, along with reports that many Catholics, including nuns and priests, supported the Shining Path, also gives the lie to the anti-Sendero line that “Sendero deliberately targeted the Church”, while at the same time accentuating the dramatic role that women played in the Shining Path.
In 1993, an organizational chart of the top leadership of Sendero showed 12 men and 11 women.
The widow of one of Peru’s most famous novelists, Jose Maria Arguedas, Sybila Arredondo, was arrested as a member of Sendero, sending shock waves through Peruvian society. Arguedas, a mestizo born in the Andes, captured the true spirit of the Peruvian Indian better than perhaps any other Peruvian author. He died a suicide in 1969.
1/3 of Sendero’s members and leadership were female. One of Peru’s top ballerinas was an associate of the top Sendero leadership and was one of those arrested with Guzman in 1992.
Clearly, the notion that Sendero oppressed women in general, widely made after the group killed Maria Elena Moyano, “Mother Courage”, in 1991, is without merit. Further, Moyano was killed, albeit brutally, for organizing counterinsurgency patrols and turning in supporters and members of Sendero to the police. As such, she was no longer a civilian.
The very name of the group was the Peruvian Communist Party en el Sendero Luminoso de (in the shining path of) Jose Carlos Mariategui. Mariategui, who wrote his most famous work in 1928, was one of the Peru’s most famous Marxist thinkers.
He was particularly important for highlighting the Woman question and Indian question. He was also a Catholic and was particularly harsh about the way that the Marxists in Peru at the time criticized the spiritual beliefs of the peasants. For an extensive review of the role of Catholic believers in many Communist parties and movements in the 20th century, see this fascinating web page.
One cannot really understand Sendero without knowing about Mariategui. So from the start, Sendero raised feminism and the liberation of the Indians as two of their banners.
Simon Strong’s Shining Path (1992) is the finest book ever written on the movement. He spent a lot of time in Peru and concluded that at the time, the movement had a huge amount of support, even among the military, the Catholic church, teachers, students, workers, peasants, the urban poor and exiles.
They also had massive support among the Ashaninka Indians in the Amazon, and also with some other tribes. The notions that Sendero held 1000’s of Indians “prisoner“, or that they massacred scores of unarmed jungle Indians, are total nonsense. At the time Strong wrote his book, the movement was at the peak of their popularity. Later that year, Guzman was captured, and it has been all downhill ever since.
But the general assessment of anti-Sendero authors, that Sendero either had no understanding of, or was hostile to, Peruvian values and traditions is just not true.
I also disagree with the standard assessment that Sendero is widely despised in Peru. Many people do have ambivalent feelings about them, true.
When the media writes about the flap about Cameron Diaz infuriating Peruvians with her Maoist “Serve the People” purse (the rightwing blogosphere has had an idiotic field day with this, but I seriously doubt that Diaz supports or supported Sendero, so the whole affair is just the usual rightwing character assassination), the Peruvians they refer to are elite, the only ones the media ever talks to.
No one else in Peru matters or has a voice.
At the moment, Sendero is fairly unpopular, even among those who formerly supported them. These same people also despise the government, the system, and the White elite who exploit them. But Sendero was so vicious and crazy, killing so many people, including the masses and other Leftists, that they left a bad taste in the mouths of many.
These people have not given up on revolution by any means. After all, the Peruvian system is worthless, insane and evil, and it should be destroyed. It is only reasonable that such an insane and evil system should produce an insane and evil insurgency – Sendero.
Now, Guzman and his fellow leaders sue for peace in prison, while a few holdouts under Comrade Artemio wage armed struggle, mostly in Ayacucho, the Huallaga Valley, the Satipo River area and Huanuco. A few years back, they were recruiting in the squalid slums of Lima once again.
These days, a more intelligent group of guerrillas is in Peru – the FARC* of Colombia. A massive, wealthy movement with deep roots in the Colombian poor, especially the rural poor, FARC has been spreading out lately down into the Ucayali River area in the jungle. They are primarily in the area of Yurimangas and north.
They have been spotted as far south as the Apurimac River near Ayacucho (where Sendero is still active) and even in Lima. They are very well-supplied, upbeat, loaded with cell phones and radios, very well-disciplined and are making deep inroads in Peru.
They give medical care, food, cooking utensils and field tools to the people and don’t bother a soul. They are quite popular with the masses they are interacting with, who see them as better than Sendero.
Many former supporters and members of Sendero have lined up with the FARC in Peru. Earlier this year, a column of Senderistas went back to Colombia, probably for training. FARC has been urging Sendero to join with FARC and modify their line.
Another column of the remaining leadership of the MRTA* (Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement) from around Tarapoto and Moyobamba in San Martin Province (their longtime headquarters – photo here) also left for Colombia around the same time – FARC is trying to join together remnants of both Sendero and MRTA with FARC in Peru – a very interesting and possibly fruitful plan.
For a great webpage on Tarapoto, complete with awesome pics, by an American woman who spent some time there, see here.
The notion that the MRTA was finished after the hostage raid in 1998 is not true – as the century turned, they continued to build the movement in every province of Peru. One of the problems with the MRTA is that they never had much money. Even around Taratopo, where they had a lot of support, they were a sorry sight, often sickly, pale, thin, and broke, wearing ragged clothes.
Compared to that impotent picture, and Sendero’s madness and brutality, many of Peru’s peasants think that the FARC are just dandy. Even in Colombia, the FARC has been much more sane and less brutal towards the masses than Sendero was.
As such, you can now go into areas of Colombia where everyone for miles around is in the FARC in one way or another, every villager in every town, every ragged farmer in every field with a gun hidden in his clothes, every woman in apron cooking in her kitchen. And it has been this way for decades in Colombia in these areas. This is the reality of FARC’s roots in rural Colombia.
The interview with Shakespeare, who is hostile to revolution, nevertheless makes clear that Peru is one nasty place. It is the most racist country he has ever been to, Shakespeare opines. Sure it is.
If someone from a lower class (or caste, really) asks a white elite for the time of day in Lima, the rich man will not even speak to the lower-class person. In fact, he won’t speak to him virtually no matter what he wants. The Indians have been killed, enslaved, raped, abused, ignored and basically slaughtered with hunger, disease and out and out murder since Pizarro stepped ashore in 1521.
Shakespeare went to Ayacucho, where a white man had been murdered by Indians a week before. Everywhere he goes, the Indians whisper pistaco – the name for a mysterious white giant that murders Indians for their fat which he uses to run Western industry. Pistaco does not exist, but the Indians think he does.
Shakespeare said that Sendero started a myth that Tupac Amaru’s body, quartered and buried over 200 years before, was slowly growing underground and would regenerate as he rose with Sendero’s victory. The materialist Sendero would never make up such a story. The story could only come from the Indians themselves, and I am sure they believed it.
And in many ways, Peru today is the same as at any time in the decades and centuries after Pizarro waded ashore 500 years ago. Until that changes, Peru will always be in a revolutionary situation.
Peru created Sendero; it could not have grown in any sane or decent society. If Best was evil, so was the land that made him. The crimes of the Sendero Frankenstein rest in large part with its creator, the horror called Peruvian society itself.
Sendero carried out 96 actions last year, about 2 a week; clearly, it is still alive, though nowadays they are fighting to get their leaders and cadres released and negotiate and end to the war – reasonable demands that no Peruvian state will cotton to. A few years back, they were recruiting again in Lima’s horrid shantytowns (photo here).
Meanwhile, FARC expands with great success across Peru.
They combine this success with a group in Venezuela, FARV – Revolutionary Armed Forces of Venezuela – (which has 2,000-3,000 members but has not engaged in many actions yet) and another group in Ecuador called FARE – Revolutionary Armed Forces of Ecuador – mostly in the border area with Putamayo and just building a movement now.
FARB – Revolutionary Armed Forces of Brazil – exists in the Dog’s Head region of Brazil where Peru, Brazil and Colombia all come together, building a movement once again.
FARC also uses the border areas in Panama as an R and R area. The local Cuna Indians of the Darien are quite cooperative, but the Panamanian state has murdered some of them for allowing FARC to stay with them, though FARC has never done a thing in Panama.
Recently, FARC has been spotted all the way over in far northern Guyana, where they are trying to tax the gold mining operations. This sighting implies that FARC also has a presence all across far northern Brazil.
US media reports place FARC operatives recently in Bolivia, where they were giving political advice to groups associated with the new president Enrique Morales before his election.
Despite recent offensives by the Colombian state, FARC is alive and well and expanding across much of Latin America. This as the radical version of Sendero peters out.
Revolution is a bloody thing. If states don’t want 12 year old kids carrying AK-47’s professing revolution while roaming their slums*, they need only create a semblance of a decent society.
There is no end of history, and you can only push a man so far before he rises up to strike you back.
*A Salvadoran man I met in a San Mateo, California restaurant in 2001 told me he saw a 12 yr old boy in the San Salvador slums carrying an automatic weapon and chanting revolutionary slogans in 1969. He went home and told his family, and his parents resolved to sent him out of the country, saying that revolution was surely on its way. Their omniscience was keen. 11 years later, it exploded in full force via the FMLN*.
*This blog strongly supported the FMLN in El Salvador to the point of contributing money to their weapons fund. We also strongly support the FARC in Colombia, all of its regional split-offs and the MRTA in Peru. We do not support the project of Sendero Luminoso as they kill people who are completely innocent. All support for groups is with certain reservations.

"Latin America’s Twenty First Century Capitalism and the US Empire," by Dr. James Petras

An excellent analysis of the current scene in Latin America by Marxist James Petras. We often wonder what exactly is going on here or there in the world. For the answer in Latin America, Petras answers a number of important questions. What’s amazing is I can’t find one single area in which he’s wrong in his analysis below. Hence, this analysis is immaculate. If any of you can find anywhere below where he is wrong, let us know. A good tutorial on the Latin American politico-economic scene. Warning: Runs 45 pages.

Political Power and the World Market

The twin nemesis of Latin America’s quest for more equitable and dynamic development, US imperial and local oligarchic power have been subject to profound changes over the past decade. New capitalist classes both at home and abroad have redefined Latin America’s relation to world markets, seized opportunities to stimulate growth and forged cross class coalitions linking overseas investors, agro-mineral exporters, national industrialists with a broad array of trade unions, and in some countries peasant and Indian social movements.
Parallel to these changes in Latin America, a new militarist and financial political configuration engaged in prolonged wars, colonial occupations and widespread speculation has weakened the structural economic links – dominance – between US imperial economic interests and Latin America’s dynamic socio-economic classes.
In the present conjuncture, these basic changes in the respective class structures – in the US and Latin America – define the contours, constraints and ‘reach’ of the imperial classes as well as the potential autonomy of action of Latin America’s leading socio-economic classes.
Notions which freeze Latin America in a time warp such as “500 years of exploitation” or which conflate earlier decades of US political-economic dominance with the present, have failed to take account of recent class dynamics, including popular insurrections, mass electoral mobilizations and failed imperial-centered economic models which have redefined the power equation between the US and Latin America.
Equally important, fundamental changes in market relations and market competition has lessened US influence in the world market and opened major growth opportunities for new and established sectors of Latin America’s capitalist class, especially its dynamic export sectors.
Understanding imperialism, especially the US variant, requires focusing on class relations, within and between countries and regions, the changing balance of power as well as the impact of fundamental changes in world market relations. Equally important the private economic institutions of imperialism (banks, multi-national corporations, investors) are contingent on the composition and policies of the imperial state.
Insofar as the state defines its priorities in military and ideological terms and acts accordingly, by channeling resources in prolonged wars, the imperial policymakers weakens their capacity to sustain, finance and promote overseas private economic interests.
As we shall analyze and discuss in the following sections, the US has suffered a relative loss of political and economic power over key Latin American regimes and markets as its military commitments have widened and deepened over time. The result is a Latin American political configuration which has changed dramatically over the past two decades.

Latin American Political-Economic Configurations and US Imperialism

The upsurge of social movements, the subsequent ascent of center-left political regimes,the dynamic economic growth of Asian economies and the consequent sharp increase in prices of commodities in the world market has changed the configuration of political power in Latin America and between the latter and the US between 2000-2010.
While the US exercised almost absolute hegemony during the period 1980-1999, the rise of a militarist caste promoting prolonged imperial wars in the Middle East and South Asia and the rise of relatively independent national-popular and social-liberal regimes in Latin America has produced a broad spectrum of governments with greater autonomy of action.
Depending on the criteria we use, Latin American countries have moved beyond the orbit of US hegemony. For example, if we examine trade and investment, all the major countries, independent of ideology, have to a greater or lesser degree diversified their markets, trading and investment partners. If we examine political alignments, we find that all the major countries have joined UNASUR, a regional political organization that excludes the US.
If we examine policy divergences from the US on major regional issues, such as the US embargo on Cuba, its efforts to isolate Venezuela, its proposed military bases in Colombia, Washington remains in splendid isolation, to the point that the new Colombian President Santos, chooses to “postpone” implementation in favor of maximizing billion dollar trade and diplomatic ties with Venezuela.
If we focus on ideological divergence between the US and Latin America, particularly on global issues of free trade, military coups and intervention, we find a variety of positions. For example, Brazil opposes US sanctions against Iran and supports the latter’s program of uranium enrichment for peaceful uses. If we focus on joint US-Latin American military exercises and support for the Haitian occupation, most Latin countries – with the exception of Venezuela – participate.
If we examine the issue of bilateral trade and regional trade agreements, the US proposals on the latter were voted down, while several countries pursue (so far with little success) the former. On a rather fluid measure of ‘affinity for neo-liberal’ ideology, in which a mixture of elements of statism, deregulated markets and social welfare co-exist in varying degrees, we can draw up a tentative 4 fold division between “left”, “center left”, “center right” and “right”.
On the “left” we can include Venezuela and Bolivia which have expanded the public sector, economic regulations and social spending.
 
On the “center-left” we can include Argentina, Brazil and Ecuador which have increased social spending, public investment and increased employment, wages and reduced poverty, while vastly increasing private national and foreign investment in agro-mineral export sectors.
On the center-right we can include Uruguay, Chile and Paraguay, which embrace free market doctrines, with mild poverty programs and an open door to foreign investment.
On the right we find Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, Honduras, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, all of whom line up with Washington on most ideological issues, even as they may be diversifying trade ties with Asia and Venezuela.
Internal shifts in class power within Latin America and the US have spurred divergences. Latin America has witnessed greater policy influence by a more ‘globalist elite’ less tied to the US, and an emerging ‘nationalist bourgeoisie’, and greater pressure from reformist working class and public employees trade union. In contrast within the US industrial capital has lost influence to the financial sector and exerts little influence in shaping economic policy toward Latin America, beyond rearguard ‘protectionist’ measures and state subsidies.
The US ruling political elite, highly militarized and Zionized, shows little capacity to engage in launching any major new initiatives toward recapturing markets in Latin America, preferring massive military expenditures on wars and paying tribute to their Israeli mentors.
As a result of major socio-political shifts within the US and Latin America and the singular importance of dynamic changes in the world market, there are four axis of power operating in the Western Hemisphere.
The emerging economic power of Brazil and the growth of intra-regional trade within and between Latin American economies.
The dynamic expansion of Asian trade, investment and markets leading to a long term, large scale shift toward greater economic diversification.
The substantial financial flows from the US to Latin America in the form of “hot money” with destabilizing effects, as well as continued substantial investment, trade and military ties.
The European Union, Russia and the Middle East as real and potential influences in particular settings, depending on the countries and time frame.
Of these 4 ‘vectors of power’, the most significant in recent times in reshaping Latin America’s relation to the US and more importantly in opening up prospects for 21st century capitalist growth, is the boom in commodity prices and demand – the dynamic of the world market. On the ‘negative side’, the prolonged US-EU economic crises has limited trade and investment growth and encouraged greater Latin American integration and expansion of regional markets.
A serious threat to Latin America’s growth, autonomy and stability is found in the US currency devaluation and subsequent overvaluing of Latin currencies (especially Brazil) imposing constraints on industrial exports and prejudicing the manufacturing sector. Equally important US and EU manipulation of interest rates – downward – has driven speculative capital toward higher interest rates in Latin America, creating destabilizing “bubbles” which can derail the economies.

US Empire Strikes Back: Protectionism, Devaluation and Unilateralism

By the middle of 2010 it was clear that the US economy was losing the competitive battle for markets around the world and was unable to reduce its trade and fiscal deficit within the existing global free trade regime. The Obama regime, led by Federal Reserve head Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Geithner unilaterally launched a thinly disguised trade war, effectively devaluing the dollar and lowering interest rates on bonds in order to increase exports and in effect ‘overvalue’ the currency of their competitors.
In other words the Obama regime resorted to a virile “bugger your neighbor policies”, which outraged world economic leaders, provoking Brazilian economic leaders to speak of a “currency war”. Contrary to Washington’s rhetoric of “greater co-operation”, the Obama regime was resorting to protectionist policies designed to alienate the leading economic powers in the region.
No longer in a position to impose non-reciprocal trade agreements to US advantage, Washington is engaged in currency manipulation in order to increase market shares at the expense of the highly competitive emerging economies of Latin America and Asia, as well as Germany.
Equally prejudicial to Latin America, the Federal Reserve’s lowering of interest rates leads to heavy borrowing in the US in order to speculate in high interest countries like Brazil. The consequences are disastrous, as a flood of “hot money”, speculative funds flow into Latin America, especially Brazil, overvaluing the currency and provoking a speculative bubble in bonds and real estate, while encouraging excess liquidity and public and private consumer debt.
Equally damaging the overvalued currencies price industrial and manufacturing out of world market competition, threatening to “de-industrialize” the economies and further their dependency on agro-mineral exports. US resort to unilateral protectionism tells us that the decline in US economic power has reached a point where it struggles to compete with Latin America rather than to reassert its former dominant position.
Protectionism is a defense mechanism of an empire in decline. While Washington can pretend otherwise, the weapons it chooses to arrest its loss of competitiveness in the short run, sets in motion a process of growing Latin America integration and increased trade with Asian economies, which will deepen Latin America’s economic independence from US control.

Latin America’s Center-Left and the US: Economic Ties Trump Geopolitical Strategies

The consolidation of Latin America’s center-left regimes has had major consequences for US policy, namely a reconciliation between arch-adversary Venezuela and Washington’s foremost ally, Colombia. The power of the market, in this case over $4 billion in Colombian exports to Venezuela, has trumped the dubious advantage (if any) of being Washington’s military launching pad in Latin America.
The election of Lula’s chosen candidate Dilma Rousseff as President of Brazil, the likely re-election of Chavez in Venezuela and Cristina Fernandez in Argentina, means that Washington has little leverage to reverse the dynamic diversification and greater autonomy of Latin America’s leading economies.
Moreover, as the political rapprochement between Venezuela and Colombia, including the mutual extradition of Colombian guerrillas and drug traffickers demonstrates, closer economic relations are accompanied by warmer political relations, including a tacit pact in which Colombia abjures from supporting the rightwing opposition in Venezuela, while the latter does likewise toward the Left opposition to Santos.
The larger meaning of this obscuring of ideological boundaries is that Latin America’s economic integration advances at the expense of US prompted ideological divisions. The net result will be the further exclusion and diminution of the US as the dominant actor in the Southern Hemisphere. At the same time it should be remembered that we are writing about greater capitalist integration, which means the continued marginalization of class based trade unions and social movements from strategic economic policy making positions.
In other words, the decline of US hegemony is not matched by an increase in working class or popular power. As both decline, the big winner is the rising business class, mostly, but not exclusively the agro-mineral, financial and manufacturing elites linked to the Latin American and Asian markets.
The prime destabilization danger now includes US currency wars, the growing potentially volatile extractive exports and the high levels of dependence on China’s (and Asian) appetite for raw materials.
Imperial Wars, Free Trade and the Lumpen Legacy of 1990’s
One of the paradoxes leading to the current eclipse of US hegemony in Latin America is found in the very military and economic successes in the 1990’s. A broad swathe of North and Central American and the Andean countries has witnessed the rise of what we call “lumpen political-economic power” which has devastated the formal economy and legitimate political authority.
The concept of “lumpen” is derived from ‘lupus’ or Latin for ‘wolf’ a metaphor for a ‘predatory’ actor, or in our context, the rise of a political and economic class which preys upon the public and private resources and institutions of an economy and society. The lumpen power elites are based on the creation of a dual system of legitimate and illegitimate political authority backed by the instruments of coercion and violence.
The emergence and formation of a powerful lumpen class of predatory capitalists and their accompanying military entourage is what we refer to in writing of the “process of lumpenization”. Today “lumpenization” no longer merely entails the overt violent organizers of illicit production, processing and distribution of drugs but an entire array of ‘offspring’ economic activity (kidnapping, immigrant smugglers, etc.) as well as large scale long term interaction with ‘legitimate’ economic institutions and sectors, including banking, real estate, agriculture, retail shopping centers, tourist complexes, to name a few.
Money laundering of illicit funds is an important growth sector, especially providing important flows of capital to and from major US and Latin American financial institutions. Today over three-quarters of Mexico’s territory and governance is contested by over 30,000 organized armed lumpen led by centralized political-economic formations. Central America is a major transit point, production center and terrain for bloody lumpen struggles for power and revenue collection.
Colombia is the major center for ‘raw material production’of drugs, marketing,and import and export center under the leadership of powerful lumpen capitalists with long standing ties to the governing political, military and economic elite. The lumpen economy has supply chains further south in Peru, Bolivia and Paraguay and distribution networks through Venezuela and Brazil as well as multi-billion dollar money laundering and financial links in the Caribbean, the US, Uruguay and Argentina.
Several important issues to keep in mind in discussing the lumpen political economy.These include: (1)the growth in size, scope and significance over the past 20 years (2) the increasing economic importance as the ‘legitimate’ economy goes into crises (both cause and consequence) (3) the increasing public cynicism as previously thought of “legitimate” economic and political actors (capitalists) engage in multi-billion dollar financial swindles and are “bailed” out by political leaders.
The ‘boom’ in lumpen political-economic growth can be dated to the end of the 1980’s and early 1990’s, coinciding with several major historical events in the region.
These include: the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement; the US-oligarchy defeat of the revolutionary movements in Central America and the demobilization but not disarmament of the paramilitary and armed militia; the total militarization and paramilitarization of Colombia especially with the advent of Plan Colombia (2001) and the end of peace negotiations; the deregulation of the US financial system in the mid 1990’s and the growth of a financial bubble economy.
What is striking about all the countries and regions experiencing ‘deep lumpenization’, is the profound disarticulation of their economies and smashing of their social fabric due to free trade agreements with the US (Mexico and Central America) and the large scale US military intervention during their civil wars (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia).
The US politico-military intervention left millions without work and worse, destroyed the possibility of reformist or revolutionary political alliances coming to power and carrying out meaningful structural changes.
The restoration of US backed neo-liberal-militarist collaborator regimes left the young unemployed peasants and workers with three choices: (1)submit to degradation and poverty (2) emigrate to North America or Europe (3) join one or another of the narco-trafficking organizations, as a risky but lucrative route out of poverty.
The timing of the rise and dynamic growth of lumpen power coincides with the imposition of US free trade and political victories in the aforementioned regions. From the early 1990’s forward lumpen power spreads across the region fueled by NAFTA decimating the Mexican small producers and the US imposed Central American “peace accords” which effectively destroyed the chances of socio-economic change and dismantled but did not disarm the militias and paramilitary gunmen.

Case Studies of Lumpen Dual Power: Mexico

Mexico, unlike the other major economies of Latin America did not experience any popular upheavals or center-left electoral outcomes during the late 1990’s or early 2000. Unlike Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia and Ecuador, in which new center-left regimes came to power imposing regulatory controls on financial speculation, Mexico witnessed electoral fraud and signed off on NAFTA, deepening its ties to Wall Street. As a result it experienced a series of financial shocks, undermining its capacity to launch a more diversified trading and investment model.
Unlike Argentina which launched state directed employment generating investment policies, Mexico, under US tutelage, relied on emigration and overseas remittances to compensate for the loss of millions of jobs in agriculture , small and medium manufacturing activity and retail sales.
While popular uprisings and mobilization in Latin America led to the rise of center-left regimes capable of securing greater independence in economic policy from the US and the IMF, the Mexican elite literally stole elections in 1988 and 2006, blocking the possibility of an alternative model. It successfully repressed alternative peasant movements in Chiapas, Oaxaca and Guerrero unlike the successes in Bolivia and Ecuador.
While the center-left regimes captured the economic surplus from the agro-mineral sectors and increased public and private investment in production and social spending, Mexico witnessed massive illegal and legal outflows of investments into speculative ventures in the US: an outflow of over $55 billion between 2006-2010.
Regional migration within Latin America fueled by high growth, led to rising income; overseas immigration depleted Mexico of skilled and unskilled labor; in some cases ‘return migration’ from the US of deported gang members, with arms and drug networks fueled the growth of lumpen power . With the severe recession, US immigration policy led to the closing of the border, the massive deportation of Mexican immigrants and the decline of the major source of foreign earnings: remittances.
Pervasive and deep corruption throughout the cupula of the Mexican political and economic system, combined with the decline of the legitimate economy, the absence of channels for popular redress and Washington’s insistence that militarization and not social investments was the solution to rising crime, led to the huge influx of young recruits to the growing network of lumpen-capitalist directed narco enterprises.
With almost all US and Mexican financial institutions and arms vendors as willing partners and an unlimited pool of young recruits with a ‘lean and hungry look’, Mexico evolved into a fiercely contested terrain between a half dozen rival lumpen organizations,and the Mexican military, with nearly 30,000 deaths between 2006-2010.

Lumpenization: Central America

Drug gangs dominate the streets of the major cities and countryside of all the countries which were militarized during the US backed counter-revolutionary wars between the 1960’s to early 1990’s. US proxy military dictators and their civilian clients, in El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras decimated civil society and particularly the mass popular organizations.
In El Salvador over 75,000 people were killed and hundreds of thousands were uprooted, driven across borders or into urban shanty towns.
In Guatemala over 200,000 mostly Mayan Indians were murdered by the US trained “special forces” and over 450 villages were obliterated in the course of a scorched earth policy.
In Nicaragua, the Somoza dictatorship and the subsequent US financed and trained counter-revolutionary (“contra”) mercenary army killed and maimed close to 100,000 people and devastated the economy.
In Honduras, the US embassy promoted and financed in-country and cross-border counter-insurgency operations which killed, uprooted and forced thousands of Honduran peasants into exile.
Highly militarized Central American societies, in which US funded and armed death squads murdered with impunity, in which the economy of small producers was shattered and ‘normal’ market activity was subject to military assaults, led to the growth of illegal crops, drug and people smuggling. With the so-called “peace agreements”, the leaders of the insurgents became “institutionalized”in elite electoral politics,while large numbers of unemployed ex-guerrillas and demobilized death squad militia members found no place in the status quo.
The neo-liberal order imposed by the US client rulers with its free market ideology built “fortress neighborhoods”, hired an army of private “security” guards, while the productive bases of small scale agriculture was destroyed. Millions of Central Americans faced the familiar “routes out of poverty”: outmigration, forming or joining criminal gangs, or attempting to find an economic niche in an unpromising environment.
Outmigration for semi-educated former members of armed bands led to their early entrée into armed groups, deportation back to Central America, swelling the ranks of narco traffickers in their “home country”. Highly repressive immigration policies implemented in the new millennium closed the escape valve for most Central Americans fleeing violence and poverty.
Former guerrilla fighters and their families, abandoned by their former leaders embedded in electoral parties, turned their military experience toward carving a new living, as security guards for the rich, or as armed traffickers competing for ‘market shares’ with and against the discharged deathsquad militia members.
Between 2000-2010, the annual number of homicides exceeded the number of deaths suffered during the worst period of the civil wars of the 1980s. US imposed peace agreements and the neo-liberal order which resulted, led to the total lumpenization of the economy and polity throughout the region, the practice of electoral politics and even the election of “center-left” politicos in El Salvador and Nicaragua notwithstanding.
Lumpenization was a direct consequence of the ‘scorched earth’ and ‘mass uprooting’ counter-insurgency policies which were central to US re-establishing dominance in the region. Economic and personal insecurity and social misery were the price paid by imperial Washington to prevent a popular revolution.

Case Study: Colombia

The ties between the world centers of finance and the most degenerate and blood curdling ruler in the Western Hemisphere were most evident in the slavishly laudatory puff-pieces published in the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal in praise of President Alvaro Uribe, while over 3 million Colombians were driven off their lands, several thousands were murdered, over a thousand trade unionists, journalists and human rights activists were killed.
Two thirds of his Congressional backers were financed by narco-traffickers. Incarcerated deathsquad leaders identified top military officials as their primary supporters. All of Colombia’s Presidents collaborated closely with US military missions and all were financed and associated with the multi-billion dollar drug cartels, even as the Pentagon claimed to be engaged in a “war against drug trafficking”.
Landlords and their financial and real estate backers organized private militias, which terrorized, uprooted and killed hundreds of thousands of peasants, others fled to the urban slums, or across the border to neighboring countries. Others joined the guerrillas, and still others were recruited by the death squads and military.
With the advance of the guerrilla armies and then President Pastrana’s opening to peace negotiations, President Clinton launched a $5 billion dollar military scheme, “Plan Colombia” to quadruple Colombia’s air and ground forces and deathsquads.
With Washington’s backing, Alvaro Uribe, a notorious narco-deathsquad politico, so identified by US officials, took power and launched a massive scorched earth policy, murdering and displacing millions of peasants and urban slum dwellers in an effort to undermine the vast network of community organizations sympathetic to the agrarian reform, public investment and anti-military program of the guerrilla movements.
Mass terror and population flight emptied whole swathes of the countryside; livelihoods were destroyed and landlords in alliance with drug cartel bosses and Generals seized millions of acres of land. For the financial and respectable mass media, the massification of terror mattered not: the insurgents were ‘contained’, driven back, put on the defensive. They trumpeted the killing of key guerrilla leaders: foreign corporate property was secure.
Rule by Uribe, the military and the narco-death squads secured US power and influence and created an ideal “jumping off” location for destabilizing the democratically elected Venezuelan President Chavez. The latter was especially important by the mid 2000’s when Washington’s internal assets attempted coup and lockout were resoundingly defeated in 2002-03.
Having gained strategic territorial advantage over the guerrillas, Washington in collaboration with Uribe moved to shift the balance of power between the narco-deathsquads and the state: a disarmament and demobilization and amnesty was proclaimed. The result was detailed revelations of the deep structural links between narco-deathsquads and the Uribe police state regime, up to and including family members and cabinet ministers.
While ‘nominally’ the cartels are in retreat, in fact, they have become decentralized .Equally important top politicos and military officials continue to collaborate in the production, processing and shipping of billion dollar cocaine exports … with major US banks laundering illicit funds.

Rule of Lumpen-Capitalism in the Imperial System

Drug trafficking has deep roots in the economies of North and South America and has profound ramifications throughout their societies. One cannot understand the tremendous growth of US banking and financial centers if not for the $25 to $50 billion dollar yearly income and transfers from laundering drug funds and double that amount from illegal money transfers by business and political leaders directly and indirectly benefiting from the drug trade.
Lumpen capitalists, their collaborators, facilitators paramilitary mercenaries and military partners play a major political role in sustaining the imperial system. Washington’s major influence and principle area of dominance resides in those countries where lumpen power and deathsquad operations are most prevalent, namely Central America, Colombia and Mexico.
Both phenomena are derived from US designed ‘scorched earth’ counter-insurgency strategies that prevented alterations, modifications or reforms of the neo-liberal order and blocked the successful emergence of social movements and center-left regimes as took place in most of Latin America.
The contemporary imperial system relies on lumpen capitalists, their economic networks and military formations in practically every major area of conflict even as these collaborators are constant areas of friction.
As in Afghanistan and Iraq today and in Central America in the recent past and in Latin America under the military dictatorships, the US relies on drug traffickers, military gangsters engaged in extortion, kidnapping, property seizures and the pillage of public property and treasury to destroy popular movements, to divide and conquer communities and above all to terrorize the general public and civil society.
The singular growth of the financial sector especially in the US is in part the result of its being the massive recipient of large scale sustained flows of ‘plunder capital’ by lumpen rulers and their economic partners via ‘political crony’ privatizations, foreign loans which never entered the local economy and other such forms of pillage characteristic of ‘predator’ classes.
The deep structural affinities between Wall Street speculators and Latin lumpen-capitalists provided the backdrop for the ascendancy of a new class of lumpen financiers in the imperial financial centers: bogus bonds, mortgage swindles, falsified assessments by stock ratings agencies, trillion dollar raids on state treasuries define the heart and soul of contemporary imperialism.
If it is true that the promotion and financing of lumpen warlord capitalists was an essential defense mechanism at the periphery of the empire to contain popular insurgencies, it is also true that the growth of lumpen capitalism severely weakened the very core of the imperial economy, namely its productive and export sectors leading to uncontrollable deficits, out of control speculative bubbles and massive and sustained reductions of living standards and incomes.
Lumpen classes were both the agencies for consolidating the empire and its undoing: tactical gains at the periphery led to strategic losses in the imperial centers. Imperial policymakers resort to terrorist formations resulted from their incapacity to resolve internal contradictions within a legal, electoral framework.
The high domestic political cost of long term warfare led inevitably to the recruitment of mercenary lumpen armies who extracted an economic tribute for questionable loyalty. Lacking any popular constituency, mercenary armies rely on terror to secure circumstantial submission. Having secured control, local warlords preside over the rapid and massive growth of drugs and other lumpen economic practices.
The alliance of empire and lumpen capitalists against modern secular and traditional insurgencies, brings together high technology weaponry and primitive clan based religious-ethnic racists in Iraq and Afghanistan and deracinated psychopaths in the case of Colombia, Mexico and Central America.
For Washington military and political supremacy and territorial conquests take priority over economic gain. In the case of Colombia the scorched earth policy undermined production and lucrative trade with Venezuela. Imperial ascendancy had similar consequences in Asia, the Middle East and Central America.

When Lumpen Power becomes a Problem for the Imperial State

Lumpen capitalism develops a dynamic of its own, independent of its role as an imperial instrument for destroying popular insurgency. It challenges imperial collaborator regimes. It displaces, threatens, or cajoles foreign and domestic capitalists. In the extreme, it establishes a private army, seizes territorial control, recruits and trains networks of intelligence agents within the armed forces and police, undermining imperial influence.
In a word lumpen organized military capitalism threatens the security of imperial hegemony: newly emerging predators threaten the established collaborators. The imperial attempts to use and dispose of lumpen counterinsurgency forces has failed; the demobilized paras become the professional gunmen of a “third force” – neither imperial nor insurgent.
The decimation of the reformist center-left option, which took hold in Latin America, precludes a socio-economic alternative capable of integrating the young combative unemployed, stimulating the productive economy, diversifying markets and escaping the pitfalls of a US centered neo-liberal order.
The divergence of priorities and strategies between Latin America’s center-left and Washington has as much to do with economic and class interests as it has with ideological agendas. For the US security means defeating the rising power of lumpen military economic formations in their remaining ‘power bases’. For Latin America, security concerns are secondary to diversifying and boosting market shares within Latin America and overseas.
Lumpen power is currently under the political control of domestic rulers in Latin America; it is out of control in US clients. The US solution is military; the Latin approach is greater growth; social expenditures and police repression especially in Brazil. The Latin solution has greater attraction, evident in Colombia’s break with the US military base and encirclement strategy toward Venezuela. Colombia’s new President opted for $8 billion dollar trade deals with Venezuela’s Chavez over and against costly million dollar military base agreements with the US.
Clearly the US economic decline in Latin America as a direct result of its reliance on military and lumpen power, is in full force. The driving force of accelerated decline is not popular insurgency but the attraction and lucrative opportunities of the economic marketplace within Latin America and beyond for the local ruling classes. Insofar as militarism defines the policies and strategies of the US Empire there is no remedy for the challenges of lumpen power in its ‘backyard’. And Washington has nothing on offer to recapture a dominant presence in Latin America.
The world market is defeating the empire. Latin America’s twenty-first century capitalists are leading the way to further decline in imperial power.

Problems of Leftwing Democracy

Repost from the old site.
In the comments section, astute commenter huy remarks on the conundrum of socialist democracy when capitalists retain control over the media and culture::

The only problem is that a socialist revolution would probably require a dictatorship and repression.
This is because without dictatorship and repression, rich capitalists would be able to prevent significant social services and state planning in a democracy via their control of the media and peoples’ thoughts.
I’m not for socialism as a long term thing, but only as a way to quickly develop a country’s infrastructure and economy, before gradual privatization of suitable sectors.

I respond:
huy is are correct as far as his first two sentences go. I will deal with the third sentence at the end.
This conundrum is why Communists opted for the dictatorship of the proletariat, not because they are lovers of repression and haters of freedom.
The rich capitalists, through their media control and also their cultural construction and fertilization creating Gramscian cultural hegemonies (what huy referred to as “control over people’s thoughts”), are typically able to prevent social services and state planning in a democracy.
This is why Communists say that you never really have a democracy in capitalism. You always have a dictatorship of capital. Be that as it may, most folks nowadays do not seem to want to live under a dictatorship of the proletariat.
Nevertheless, the roadblocks in the way of socialist democracy present a a serious problem.
Not only are the capitalists able to thwart significant progressive change via media and cultural control, but the same capitalists, via control over the economy, are able to stage lockouts and capital strikes, to send their capital out of the country, to artificially create shortages, and to send wealthy housewives out into the streets beating pots and pans in a middle and upper class strike, etc.
These housewife pot-banging strikes occurred in Chile under Allende, Venezuela under Chavez, and just recently occurred again in Argentina when President Kirchner tried to tax booming agricultural exports.
The big ag producers in Argentina responded by trying to starve the cities by staging ag strikes and refusing to ship produce to the cities so the people would have nothing to eat.
What is ominous about this is that these same rich housewife pot-banging demos and a latifundista (large landowner elite) strike presaged the coup that brought the death squads into power in Argentina in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
The generals stayed in power for several years, during which they murdered 30,000 leftwing Argentines, the vast majority of whom were just idealistic young people working with the poor and had not taken up arms at all.
The capitalists will usually try to stage a coup through their control over the military too.
That is why Hugo Chavez is correct in cleansing the corrupt bosses’ oil workers’ union, in cleansing the officer corps of the military of reactionary elements, and putting in some state media.
The corrupt state oil workers union was a white collar union of well to do managers who had been operating the state oil company as a personal ATM for decades. They were behind the owners’ lockout strike that followed the coup, and after Chavez fired those who had been behind the lockout and sabotage, they destroyed much of the records and paperwork of the oil company before they left. Clearly they had to go.
In the previous coup attempt, the middle and upper-class officer corps supported the coup, but the enlisted men, who came from the poor, did not. The poor rank and file military refused their officers’ orders, and the officers backed down. Hence, cleansing the officer corps of coup supporters was a must.
Getting a foot in the door of the Right’s media monopoly was also important. Previously, the rich had all of the papers, magazines and especially TV stations and they used these to wage continuous lying propaganda war against Chavez.
Furthermore, the entire rightwing media not only supported the coup attempt against Chavez but was actively complicit in it. For that treason, Chavez is perfectly within his rights to shut down the entire rightwing media. He only does not do this because of the international outcry it would arouse.
The Right did the same thing with their media control during the Allende regime in Chile, printing wild lies about Cuban armies offshore and hiding in Chilean bases ready to invade Chile and impose Communism at gunpoint.
Middle class and upper class capital strikes can be devastating to the economy, and most folks, no matter how revolutionary, just get tired of the economic pain after a while and vote to put the reactionaries back in power.
Sanctions work the same way. The US and UK and sometimes France and Canada (when those two latter states are in an imperialist mood) usually slap sanctions on democratic Left states as soon as possible.
Recent examples are Nicaragua, Haiti and Zimbabwe (at first democratic, now increasingly dictatorial), and this alone is enough to devastate the economy and cause the people to vote out the Left and put reactionaries back in power.
What happens is that in an effort to get some control of the country back and fight back against all of this US plots, the Left regime often starts becoming more authoritarian and less democratic. Then the US says it’s a dictatorship and needs to be overthrown on that basis.
If that doesn’t work, the US forms a reactionary contra counterrevolutionary army that goes around killing any civilian that is pro-Left, murdering teachers and health care workers, burning down schools, ag cooperatives and health care facilities and just making the place ungovernable. In order to fend off contras and coups, Chavez has built up his military and even armed the population.
One more thing the US does is to flood money into the democratic Left country to buy the election of the reactionaries via all sorts of fake civil society groups. A good way to stop this is to ban all money coming to political groups from outside the country, but that is easier said than done. The money seems to find its way in anyway.
The US and its reactionary allies also stage bombings, shootings, riots, etc, against democratic Left states, and then often blames them on the Left. This is what they did in Chavez’ Venezuela, Aristide’s Haiti and Mossadegh’s Iran.
If worse comes to worse and none of the above works, the Left regime is overthrown by a coup and replaced by a reactionary dictatorship. This dictatorship typically then institutes a reign of terror in which anywhere from 100’s to 1 million progressives are killed all over the land. This is what happened in Indonesia in 1965, when 1 million Leftists were killed in a CIA coup.
What is even creepier is that while the Left is in power, the CIA is usually running around the country making up lists of leftwingers. As soon as the coup comes, the CIA hands over the lists to the death squad Right now in power, and they use these lists to hunt down progressives and murder them.
So if a Left regime is in power, there is always the terror of a future coup followed by a murder spree against anyone politically active in the regime. This is enough to make people afraid to get politically active.
The reign of terror itself so so terrorizes the population that most people are afraid to get involved in progressive politics for years or even decades afterwards. Why get involved? Who is to say when the death squads will come back in power and try to kill you for being politically active in Left politics?
All of this makes socialist democracy or even social democracy in backwards states almost impossible to achieve.
On the other hand, lots of leftwingers are trying to figure out a way to have some sort of socialist or even Marxist democracy, despite all the challenges. The Sandinistas had a democratic socialist revolution, and Hugo Chavez is having one too. The Nepalese Maoists support 100% democracy. There’s new thinking with a lot of Communists nowadays that socialism is not really possible without total democracy.
When I look at Cuba and I think about a few dissidents getting thrown in prison, is that really worse than masses of people dying early from preventable death or not having enough food to eat, or living in shantytown hovels, or prostituting themselves, or homeless kids sniffing glue, turning into criminals and getting killed by cops as happens all over Latin America?
Third World capitalist nightmare states punish an awful lot of innocent people too. Doesn’t Cuba punish a lot fewer innocent people by clapping a few dissidents in prison than are harmed in these failing 3rd world capitalist states?
In India, capitalism is killing 4 million people a year. That’s a five-alarm fire right there. If we had a socialist revolution there even with a dictatorship and saved 4 million lives a year, would it be worth it for a few folks slapped in prison?
I do think that the new way of Chavez, the Sandinistas, the FMLN of El Salvador and the Nepalese Maoists is the better way to go. Nothing wrong with democracy. If the people reject socialism at the polls and go back to capitalism and lots of them go hungry, go homeless, drink sewage water, get sick, get crippled and start dying, I guess we can say that they made a choice to have that happen to themselves.
Most socialist countries did go socialist for a while (usually decades) to develop the economy and then go towards capitalism after they were pretty well developed.
People have no idea how much of China’s economic growth is based on the foundations laid by decades of Maoism. At any rate, most do not realize China is still a very socialist country in many ways.
The Communists in Russia built that place up from nothing. Without the USSR, Russia would probably be like India or Afghanistan. The Vietnamese and Laotian Communists are also putting in a lot of capitalism, and North Korea now has joint partnerships for foreign investors. I support Vietnam, Laos, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela in their experiments at mixed economy. I also really like social market of Belarus.
Really what we ought to look at is does the system give us the outcomes that we want? If it does, it doesn’t matter what mixtures of socialist, collective and private ownership it has.
There are also all sorts of ways of enterprise ownership.
We can have nonprofits, labor collectives, family-run businesses, single owners and ownership by neighborhoods, towns, cities, states and nations. All of these forms of ownership are operating all over the world as you read this.
The cooperative sector in particular is a great way to go, and most do not realize it is a non-capitalist economic system. Worker-owned firms compete with each other, and there is no exploitation of labor as in capitalism.
One of the best examples of that is the Mondragon cooperatives in the Basque Country. Most Cuban agriculture is now run by cooperatives. In the cooperative model, you get away from the management-labor conflict you see in capitalism.

What Has the Latin American New Left Accomplished?

Tulio wonders what good the Latin American Left has done down there. How bout we shoot the question back at him and ask what good the Latin American Right did for 190 years for the majorities? Answer: Zero.

But what have the results been? Has there been any meaningful progress that’s happened because of the rise of the left in Latin America that can be solely attributed to leftist economics and politics? I’m not here to attack the Latin left per se. I don’t mind them much so long as they aren’t on this hate America tip and blaming the United States for all their home grown problems e.g. Chavez. I’ve never heard any anti-American hate speech from Brazil, Argentina or Chile under Bachelet.The bottom line though is what have these left wing leaders actually done? Everything is still horribly corrupt, there’s still massive inequality, still no universal health coverage, millions still live in favelas, there’s still lots of crime in a place like Venezuela. So what is so great about these left-wing leaders?
Great, so we will live in a country like Cuba where there’s socialism yet everyone is still poor. Whoopie do. And that’s the best latin socialism has to offer.

Not really. Chile and Costa Rica both have socialism (social democracy) and they have some pretty good figures on life expectancy, infant mortality and whatnot. Comparable to the US or even better, with much lower per capita income too.
All Latin America has national health care last time I checked. Public hospitals are free, assuming they exist. There’s a lack of hospitals, doctors, medicine, etc, but in some places like Chile, Costa Rica or Trinidad and Tobago, public health care is pretty good. I doubt there is one country in Latin America that lacks free public health care. The US is pretty bizarre on world scale in lacking this.
As far as favelas, I know Chavez has been on massive spree building public housing and renovating other housing, fixing streets, wiring up areas for electricity and running plumbing lines. And he’s done a lot of land reforms, breaking up large estates and giving them to small farmers and co-ops. He has opened a tremendous number of new hospitals and clinics, often staffed with Cuban doctors. He’s opened up new state markets where the poor can buy subsidized food for affordable prices instead of practically starving like they were 20 years ago, when 80% of the country could only afford one meal a day. He’s using the oil wealth to help the Venezuelan people, whereas before it just went into the pockets of a corrupt elite.
Crime is a long-term problem in Venezuela and the region, and it’s not Chavez’ fault.
Corruption is a long-term problem in the region, due to Latino culture, and it will be there no matter what kind of regime is in.
Chavez has reduced income inequality and poverty more than anyone else in the region.
It’s great what Chavez is doing down there! Incredible!
We don’t need Cuban socialism. Canadian socialism would be fine.
Correa in Ecuador has done well, but he’s hampered by the oligarchy in what he can do. He threw the US out of the their Manta Military Base, he wrote a new Constitution and doubled health care spending.
Ortega just got in, and he’s not pushing a strong program, plus the oligarchy is against him.
Honduras had a coup.
The FMLN just got in in El Salvador and is unfortunately pursuing a moderate agenda. However, the Civil War Accords already broke up the big land estates and distributed land to small farmers and co-ops, similar to the Mexican Revolution. Whatever other problems you have down there, at least you can grow enough food to eat.
Brazil’s Lula reduced poverty dramatically there.
Morales has done some good things for Bolivia, for one thing nationalizing the gas and oil reserves. He also wrote a new Constitution.
Kirchener did a good job in Argentina. She blew off the debt. Her efforts at further reform have been hampered by the oligarchy. Lately, she’s been trying to break up the media oligopoly, but she’s running into a lot of static on that.
Bachelet in Chile did not do much. She was not pushing a very Left agenda.
The guy in Uruguay just got in and he’s a moderate.
Lugos in in Paraguay is new too, and he’s pushing a moderate line.
People pushing a moderate line are not likely to get much done, and in most cases, really good reforms to benefit the people have been hampered by the oligarchs.
But these are the best changes your average person in Latin America has ever seen.
What’s failed has been more or less 180 years of rightwing authoritarian oligarchic rule in the vast majority of Latin America. That’s what in general has never done the slightest damned thing for the people from Day One. People have had it with it, so they are starting to vote in some pro-people governments, in many places for the first time in history.

Is Conservatism Always Bad?

Yes.
In my opinion, conservatism is always bad. Conservatism is always and everywhere at all times elite rule and only elite rule. Some support elite rule. I don’t. I support popular rule. I say elite rule is bad. Since elite rule is always bad, conservatism is always bad. Real simple.
In addition, conservatism is almost always dishonest. As an elite philosophy, you can either be honest about your goals and say you are working to better the elite and harm everyone else – say, the top 20% will benefit and the bottom 80% will be harmed, or you can lie and say you are out for everyone when you are not. It usually doesn’t work for conservatives to tell the truth, but now and then they do. Most people are not so stupid as to vote for an elite party when they are members of the non-elite group who will be harmed by the elite party. So conservatives, always and everywhere at all times, lie. They lie about their project. They have to, because often that’s the only way to get in.
But this continuous lying results in a destruction of Politics. There’s not much of a democracy left when almost the entire media is lying their fool heads off day and night. The population is bewildered at best or brainwashed at worst. This is the sort of “democracy” we have here in America. It’s hardly a democracy at all!
Erranter asks if we should not be bashing conservatives.

Doesn’t a conservative just mean someone who is fine with the way things are going, the status quo? There are places where the status quo is democracy and none of those above things. I don’t think it’s fair to attach “bad” to the very definition of conservative and “good” to progressive. That’s changing the definitions which people use to communicate and permanently attaching a moral judgment. It’s also unequivocal that conservatives are bad, because a part of this new definition is that they are bad.

Someone who is fine with the way things are going, the status quo – No, that is not what conservatism means.
Conservatism is elite rule. It always has been, it is now, and it always will be. Some things never change. Elites hate democracy. The Republican Party hates democracy. Notice how they are always trying to repress voter turnout. Heavy turnout is always bad for the elite Republicans. Given half a chance, sane electorates generally vote for popular rule (the Left) and against elite rule (the Right). Why would any electorate voluntarily vote against popular rule and for elite rule? They would have to be out of their minds (like the US electorate).
It’s hard to vote in elite rule. People don’t like it too much. So conservatives usually need to rule by dictatorship in one form or another. Once Latin America got rid of the dictatorships, the first thing the people did was vote in the Left.
There are only a few places on Earth where US style hard rightwing conservatives are actually voted into power, and those elections are problematic because the popular, anti-elite candidates of the Left are typically murdered.
The US
Guatemala
El Salvador (though the Left is starting to win now)
Colombia
Chile
Turkey
The Philippines
That’s about it.
The conservatives in El Salvador, Guatemala, Colombia, Turkey and the Philippines all rule by terror. They all run death squads and slaughter the Left.
In the Philippines, conservatives run as populists who will fight and get rid of poverty, so that’s not really US conservatism.
In Colombia, Guatemala and El Salvador, conservatives usually run on a platform of “kill the Communists (the Left).”
Everywhere else on Earth, people generally vote in some sort of a liberal to socialist type government.
All of Africa has generally been run by popular Leftwing parties, with a few exceptions in Zaire and Kenya. They haven’t done a very good job of popular rule, but US style conservatism simply does not exist there.
In North Africa, most of the governments are socialist. Morocco was always the outlier, as it was ruled by a rightwing king, but he’s a dictator.
All of the Arab World is generally run by some type of socialist party or other. US style conservatism never takes power there.
All of the former Soviet Republics are now run by some type of socialist government or other.
All of Europe is being run by some type of socialist government or other, with the possible exception of Great Britain. The UK was always the outlier. US style conservatism ruled under Thatcher, but she was probably the most hated ruler in the 20th Century UK, and she couldn’t get much done.
Russia is run by a socialist regime under Putin.
The Iranian religious government has always been socialist in nature.
It’s hard to characterize the Karzai regime, but it is not US conservatism.
The Pakistani government is very hard to characterize, but it is not US style conservatism. The recently assassinated leader, Benazir Bhutto, was a socialist. The President, her widower, is also a socialist.
Since Independence, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka have generally been run by socialist regimes of one type or another.
Myanmar is run by a regime that calls itself socialist.
Singapore has a social democracy.
SE Asia has been run by socialists since 1975. Thailand typically had rightwing military government. Recently, a progressive, Thaksin, was elected. He was extremely popular, but the conservative elite threw him out in a coup like they often do. At any rate, US style conservatism does not exist in Thailand.
China is run by a socialist party.
Mongolia is run by socialists.
Japan has been a social democracy since 1945.
True, South Korea was always a rightwing regime, but recently they elected a leftwinger.
Taiwan was always ruled by a rightwing dictatorship, but I am not sure who is in power since independence. They have had a social democracy for a while now.
Indonesia was always run by a rightwing dictatorship, but they recently went to democracy. The present leader has begun a number of socialist programs.

Conservatives Promote Stupidity, How and Why

In the comments, Matt astutely notes about Republicans’ willful promotion of stupidity:

Rob, You may remember how conservatives at one time were writing all those books about how l “liberal” education policies were making American children stoopid (Closing of the American Mind, Don’t Know Much About…, Cultural Literacy). Whether their idea of the causation was correct or not, they were right; Americans are stoopid. But you’ll notice they’ve mostly shut up about it. They must have figured out that the poorly educated and the willfully ignorant were their base.

Good point Matt. Of course that’s their base.
Sure, a lot of people who vote Democrat aren’t very smart, but that’s just the way they are, and nothing can be done about it. Anyway, the Democratic Party in general is not hostile to science and does not promote complete and utter stupidity, except when they parrot GOP ideas and concepts.
What’s funny is that I’m sure the guys running the GOP are very smart people. No doubt they are often very intellectual guys. But they willfully peddle Stupid Juice by tankload to the masses, and they know full well what they are doing. It’s disgusting, but there’s a method to their madness. If they could get people to vote rightwing by peddling intelligence, I’m sure they would do that instead.
What’s disturbing is that conservatives have always promoted ignorance and stupidity everywhere they’ve been in power and at all times. The priests of the Middle Ages would not let the Bible be translated, because they didn’t want their flocks to learn to read. The Taliban burn down girls’ schools. The Nazis burned books.
When Fujimori seized power in Peru, he shut down most of the nation’s universities as hotbeds of subversion. The army raided the universities, ransakcked them, tore them to pieces, raided libraries and destroyed all the books, on and on. The universities were later reopened, and students shuffled back to campus, appalled at their trashed schools. Funding for the universities was gutted, and the books in the libraries were never replaced.
Curiously, Peruvian polls consistently show that a majority of Peruvians support Fujimori, so I guess Peruvians are even more retarded than Americans. At least we don’t send in the army to tear down UCLA and burn all the books in the library while the population cheers. Not yet anyway. I guess that’s in the future.
A similar thing happened in El Salvador under rightwing rule. The universities were shuttered as hotbeds of subversion.
Under Pinochet in Chile, funding for the public schools was gutted, and your average Chilean public school now is literally falling apart. The wealthy send their kids to public schools, so they don’t care. Not quite pro-stupidity, more like “we don’t want the masses educated.”
The same happened in Argentina, where funding for the public schools was incredibly transferred to private schools, leaving the public schools tottering and and decrepit. This is essentially what the Right in the US wants to do with their vouchers scheme.
The ruling elites have always feared that an educated population would figure out the rich people’s scam and cut off some of the loot or transfer some to themselves, so conservatives everywhere and at all times have attacked the education of the masses. The motto of conservatives is that the dumber the people are, the easier they will be for us to manipulate.
I am ashamed to admit that the worst Communists who ever lived, the Khmer Rogue, deliberately targeted any urban person with an education. They often signaled out those who worse glasses for execution. One wonders how much the national IQ went down during Khmer Rogue rule.
Mao executed intellectual dissidents during the 100 Flowers Campaign. During the Cultural Revolution, Mao shuttered universities and sent students to the work the fields with the peasants. The argument was that intellectual students were a privileged elite.
Stalin’s purges in the 1930’s disproportionately targeted the intellectual leadership of various ethnicities who he distrusted.
Otherwise, Communists have been some of the most pro-educational governments in the history of man, but we do have some shameful backsliding.
Any time your government is mass imprisoning and/or executing the intellectuals of society, it seems to me that the state is engaging in some pretty retarded behavior.
Here’s a plan! Let’s put all the smart people in prison! Better yet, let’s kill all the smart people! Duh. No better way to run your society into the ground.

Why America Sucks

All the voters are White. Of course the country is a reactionary nightmare.

As you can see, the overwhelming majority of US voters are White. It is US White voters and only US White voters who have sent America down the conservative and reactionary sewer pipe in the last 30 years. An operation that is yet ongoing, and that seems to be gaining quite a bit of steam. In the 2006 election, it was even worse. 79% of the voters were White.

The electorate also is overwhelmingly White.

The voter pool is also overwhelmingly White. So the argument that Blacks and Hispanics don’t turn out to vote is washed up. Even if they all turned out to vote, it wouldn’t matter much. It would only shift the electorate maybe -3% away from the reactionary Whites.

As long as America is overwhelmingly White, it will be a terrifyingly reactionary and backwards place, the laughingstock of the Western World. There is nothing inherently reactionary about White people. In Europe, they are reliably socialist. Someone show me a reactionary and non-socialist country in Europe please? In New Zealand and Australia, Whites are quite socialist, whatever their limitations in recent days with the horror specter of Mr. Howard.

In Latin America, it is true, Whites are reactionary, extremely so. Even in Uruguay and Argentina, they are reactionary. But these countries also have a revolutionary White Left that in the past has given the White elites the bullets and bombs they so richly deserve.

Argentina today, though a reactionary and Third World mess like the rest of the continent, at least has a Leftist President. A real Leftist, not an Obama rightwinger. The Argentine elite is alarmed about the Communist takeover of Argentina, Commies being coded as “fascists,” and are openly calling for the return of the fascist dictatorship. Fascist Argentines bashing Left opponents as fascists while calling for the return of Argentine fascism. Typical fascist obfuscation and mind-warping.

They claim that Kirchner had Commie “brownshirts” in the streets who have taken over entire zones. The Commie Kirchner is supposedly trying to “censor the media” by breaking up the reactionary media monopolies that own nearly the entire media of the land. But why should the Right own 90% of the media? By what rights? Capitalist rights? Hell with that.

Media should be delineated democratically according to predilection. If 30% of the population is Left, then 30% of the media should be Left. If that can’t be done, part of the Right media should be confiscated, at gunpoint if possible, and then turned over to folks representing 30% of the population. It’s only right and proper.

Uruguay elected a former Left wing guerrilla, but I’m not sure how much will change, as he is dedicated to following the neoliberal suicide model. Is Uruguay a more socialist state than the USA? An interesting question.

Costa Rica is a pretty socialist place, which is interesting since anti-Communist fools and liars always uphold Costa Rica on their social figures, comparing it to Cuba on the grounds that Cuba is not so hot. What these congenital liars don’t realize (Or maybe they do!) is that all of Costa Rica’s great figures are attributable to Costa Rican social democracy.

Those are the countries in which Whites are a majority.

In the rest of Latin America, Whites are a minority, and they are frighteningly conservative to reactionary. They have generally stayed in power through repression, fraud, imprisoning, assaulting, kidnapping, torturing and murdering the opposition. White elites have done this in most countries in the region: Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Venezuela, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Mexico.

The implication is that Whites will only support any kind of socialism where they are a good, solid majority. They are only 65% of the US now, so this may be why they are headed this way.

The entire rightwing movement in the US for the last 30 years has been coming from Whites. Has it been coming from Hispanics? Of course not. Has it been coming from Blacks? Please. Has it been coming from Jews? Pull the other one. Has it been coming from Asians? Forget it.

So when you read that “the voters” are furious with Obama and support all sorts of reactionary monstrosities in opposition to him, it’s US Whites, and only US Whites, who are leading this Tea Party opposition wave to Obama. And much of it is undoubtedly racist, no matter how much they scream that it’s not.

US Whites, as a % of  the population, are declining. Every 2-3 years, they decline another 1%. That’s a pretty shocking decline. Progressives ought to celebrate White decline, in spite of all the negative consequences that go along with it. If Whites were progressive people, we could reliably oppose White decline. But they aren’t, and they will never be.

The other day, my mother (smartest women on Earth) told me that in the lifetime of my brother and I, we will live to see the US become a more progressive country. If all goes according to plan, I will take off around 2035 or so. The reason for this, she said, is the decline of Whites.

White nationalists have told me that a declining White America will lead to a more progressive place. Their reasoning for this is curious, and doesn’t make much sense. One guy told me that as Whites decline further and further, they will get more and more radical. As they dip below 40%, they will take up arms against any progressive regime seen as non-White. What he’s saying is that Whites will grow more violent and militant as they decline. I find this dubious. He also said that a majority non-White American government would be too incompetent to install a reliable and functioning sort of socialism. I find that dubious as well.

Will Hispanics, Blacks, Jews and Asians continue to be reliably progressive into the future? It’s an interesting question. Majority-Indian, mulatto and mestizo places like Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Brazil, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Panama are quite backwards and rightwing. A White minority in all places continues to rule to the detriment of everyone else. Usually they enforce their rule at gunpoint and often with deadly force. But they get the votes of mestizos, Indians and mulattos to do this.

In the Caribbean, Black and mulatto elites have treated their own people horribly. This is particularly the case in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Most of the Black Caribbean is not very socialist, with the exception of Cuba. But Dominica is an equitable country, and Trinidad and Tobago has a decent amount of socialism. Socialism was arrested in Jamaica with the US assault on Manley, a White socialist.

The record in Black Africa is not good in terms of socialism. North African Arab states are much more socialist than Black Africa. True, there is not much to divide in the first place, but still. Even Black African countries that have fallen into some money are still horribly rightwing. Gabon, a wealthy African country, has nightmarish levels of poverty, malnutrition, maternal mortality, child and infant mortality. Apparently, as has always been the case in Africa, a tiny Black elite has grabbed control over the economy for themselves and possibly their tribe and is locking out everyone else.

Given that mestizos, mulattos and Blacks have a poor record of setting up socialist systems in their own lands, one wonders just how socialist they will be here in the US as they grow in numbers. So far, they have been realiably socialist, but what will the future bring.

The model in mulatto, mestizo and Black countries is typically astounding gaps between the rich and the poor, horrifying levels of poverty, and often an enraged, militant and sometimes armed but cash-starved Left minority battling the elite for power. In these countries, poverty is a big deal, the opposite of the US. So there, all parties, from Right to Left, run on reducing poverty and fighting for the poor, with a few overtly fascist exceptions in Guatemala, El Salvador, (Honduras?) and Colombia and a strange overtly rightwing government in Chile, increasingly a US model state in Latin America.

The Right has the entire media spectrum. In Honduras, a 99% mestizo country, a reactionary and murderous elite owns 99+% of the media. This is typical across the region. The assumption is that the non-White masses are simply badly brainwashed.

The ignorant mestizo, mulatto and Black electorate tends to vote for parties that often have progressive sounding names. In many cases, these parties are said to be overtly socialist parties. This is especially the case in the Caribbean, where almost every party has a socialist-sounding name. So down there, the Right calls themselves socialists, progressives and populists fighting for the poor while they implement reaction.

A similar dynamic is seen in Africa, where most parties have socialist-sounding names.

In other words, the US model of reactionary parties having open reactionary images, programs and politics is nonexistent in most of Latin America and Africa. No one would vote for it. In fact, it’s anathema in most of the world! It’s nearly nonexistent also in Arabia, South Asia, Europe, SE Asia and NE Asia. Turkey does have an overtly rightwing government.

Other than Turkey, show me one overtly reactionary party along the lines of the US Republican Party in power in any of these places.

One wonders if the model of the US reactionaries will change in the future with White decline. Will we see the rise of a backwards mestizo, mulatto or Black elite looking for votes possibly on an ethnic basis. Will we see the rise of fake populism and fake socialism, where the Right will operate rightwing parties with socialist and progressive sounding names campaigning on poverty reduction and helping the have-nots, to get the non-White vote? Will the Republican Party model of an openly and brazenly reactionary party become nonviable as non-Whites refuse to support it, according the model in the rest of the world?

A History of Social Contracts Around the World in the Last Century

Sometimes when there is a real threat from the Left, the Rich consent to a “social contract.” This has happened in numerous places. The US in the Depression, with the threat of Communism hanging over their heads..

Western Europe, once again with a threat of Communism.

It never happens without a serious threat though. The rich only give up stuff as a compromise to fend off something a whole lot worse.

In places like Latin America, social contracts are more or less impossible. Most of the 3rd World is like that. Social contracts usually only happen in more modernized states. The 3rd World is characterized by backwards elites that never give up anything at all without massive violence.

Mexican elites did give up stuff, but it took a horrible revolution that killed 5% of the population to do so.

Same thing in El Salvador. It took 70,000 dead to get the rich to compromise a bit.

They compromised in Costa Rica too in 1947, but I don’t understand why.

There was also a social contract under Peron in Argentina for reasons that are hard to figure.

It’s notable that both Argentina and Costa Rica are White. Social contracts are much more likely in White than in non-White countries.

Social contracts occurred in the Arab World because the Arab-Islamic World is socialism-friendly. They don’t like the idea of massive wealth accumulations and people with nothing to eat. Something about evolving in the desert I guess…

A social contract took place in Taiwan as a way to ward off Communism from China. Similar thing in Japan. Asians are sort of natural socialists too, like Arabs. They don’t like the idea of folks starving. Guess they’ve seen plenty enough of that.

In addition, those are collectivist cultures, possibly due to Buddhism. Radical free market capitalism won’t fly to well in a Buddhist society. The Buddha surely would not have approved of neoliberalism. It’s against everything he taught. There is another thing. These are homogeneous and extremely ethnocentric societies. If a Japanese person is starving or homeless, this strikes at the heart of every Japanese person, as he is automatically your brother on account of ethnicity. That man on the street under a pup tent may as well be your cousin.

Thailand is one of the few Asian countries that has avoided wealth redistribution. The rest – Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and China, did it with guns. The Thai Communists had a lot of support due to SE Asian culture, but they eventually quit. They were resurrected recently in the Red Shirt riots, which was a classic socialist movement led by many former Communist guerrillas.

The Philippines has avoided wealth redistribution due to a horrible Spanish colonial culture that turned it into Latin America in Asia. Nevertheless, there is a huge Communist insurgency going on.

The situation in Indonesia is awful for a Southeast Asian country, but they had a huge Communist movement that was massacred by the state and the CIA. 1 million people were killed in 1965 to put that down. As in Pakistan, Islam gets in the way of justice.

Social contracts have been impossible in India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh, probably due to Hindu culture with its caste system in which the poor feel that they are ordained by God to their place. Caste and vile Indian culture has cemented in feudal relations in the entire subcontinent, even in Islamic nations like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

Where wealth redistribution is prevented by peaceful means, as in South Asia, efforts shift to guns and bombs. The Nepalese Maoists have 40% of the government. There is a vast Maoist insurgency in India and a smaller one in Bangladesh. Sri Lanka has seen some nasty Maoist insurgencies. Afghanistan saw a Communist government for 15 years. Pakistan is an outlier.

Sub-Saharan Africa seems quite hopeless. Tribalism and worship of kings who steal it all and leave their subjects with crumbs mean that Africans apparently think it’s their lot to starve.

There is a militant redistributionist effort in South Africa though. Zimbabwe confiscated White farms. But in these places, the race factor was important. Africans won’t tolerate White grabbing it all and leaving them with crusts and heels, but apparently they let they don’t mind their own people doing it to them.

African tribalism is the worst. One tribe gets in power and tries to grab everything in the country and leave all the other tribes without a thing. The tribe in power thinks this is completely normal. Those out of power probably think it’s normal too. Those on the outside mostly plot to overthrow the tribe that’s in now so they can get in themselves and steal it all for their tribe. There’s little sense of justice in the continent. Everything is a zero-sum game.