Repost from the old site. Basically an argument for the “just war” concept. Or at least a rivulet. Abimael Guzman, imprisoned leader of the Shining Path guerrillas in Peru, famously said that for the revolution to succeed, “Peru would have to cross a river of blood”. Much of the civilized world was horrified by this bloodthirsty statement, but was he onto something? I would argue that the vast majority of social progress achieved in the past 150 rivers has unfortunately occurred only after rivers of blood were shed. Or at the very least trickles. To but it bluntly, people had to die. They had to get hurt and die. It’s sad that it has to be that way, but it seems that that is just the way it is. Powerful people do not give up stuff just because they wake up in a good mood one day or go to church, find God and start feeling guilty. Here in the US, Blacks only gained their liberation in the context of a devastating Civil War in which 100,000’s of Americans shed their blood and lost their lives. Haitians only got rid of slavery by rising up and killing every single one of 25,000 Frenchmen on the island. For Algeria to blast free of colonialism and to shock the French out of the colonial habit, 1 million people, including 25,000 Frenchmen, died. Britain only chucked colonialism after British soldiers died in Malaysia, India, Palestine and other places. Does anyone think even a modicum of a Palestinian state would exist had Palestinians not taken up the gun? Without the armed struggle of the Iraqi guerrillas, US troops would have overrun Syria and possibly Iran by now. The Basque Country has the considerable autonomy it does today only after 800 Spaniards died in the ETA’s armed struggle. Land reform was only instituted in South Korea, Japan and Taiwan after the war to ward off the threat of Communism from North Korea and China. Apartheid is gone in South Africa and one man one vote democracy is in its place for the most part only due to an armed campaign by the ANC stretching over decades. US workers only got rights after bloody strikes in which workers were killed by goon squads. The social market that James Schipper praised in Europe in earlier comments is also the project of massive labor union mobilization in Europe. I would also argue that it was created by devastating the European Right, first by killing 10 million of them (10 million dead fascists in WW2), next by making rightwing ideology toxic for many years after the war, and finally by revolutionary pressure from the Far Left before and after the war, which led the business sector to seek out a class compromise and a social contract, mostly to ward off revolution. Even the Swedish model mostly came into play in the 1930’s when the nation was wracked by violent, radical and revolutionary labor actions all up and down the land. This so rocked the business and ruling classes that the Swedish model was created as a lesser evil alternative to ward off revolution. Most do not realize that Swedish society was not very liberal during the 1930’s. People are misled by the fact of Sweden’s neutrality in the war to think that Swedes themselves were neutral. Most of the middle classes and certainly the business classes were firm Nazi supporters. Furthermore, I understand that Swedish businesses continued to supply the Nazis well into the war. In Costa Rica, radical pressure helped create Costa Rican social democracy, now deteriorating after Reagan ordered the Costa Ricans at gunpoint in the 1980’s to get rid of it. After WW2, Costa Rica outlawed the Communist Party, killed 6,000 Communists, instituted a social democracy to buy off social unrest and got rid of the military as a rather interesting way to top it off. Without revolutionary pressure in 1946 and the bodies of 6,000 Communists, Costa Rican social democracy may never have occurred. Mexico today has some semblance of socialism and a land reform that enables to poor to own small plots and at least survive and eat if they cannot find work only because 20 million Mexicans died during Pancho Villa’s revolution that put Mexican feudalism in the grave forever. Most do not realize that Mexico was actually a horrible and truly feudal society as late as 1910. Yet it was. In the same way, in El Salvador now, one can at least farm a small plot, eat and survive, something often not possible before the Revolution started. For that meager reform, 70,000 people died and Salvadoran feudalism was crushed, possibly forever. Lenin said power never gives up without a fight. And most social reforms in capitalism have come on the heels, tragically, of a river of blood. Or at least a small stream. Without pressure from below by revolutionaries and radicals, it is uncertain how many of the progressive social contracts in place in the world would exist.
In 1989, I was helping to run guns for the FMLN, the Salvadoran revolutionaries, Commie scumbag that I am and all. I would drive to MacArthur Park in Los Angeles and meet the FMLN agent guy in the bar or whatever and hand him the cash with a conspiratorial smile. I guess it was legal then, but now it’s 10 years in the slammer thanks to George Bush. The War on Terror in so many ways is just a War on Justice. I remember when I was going to USC in Los Angeles in 1983 at the height of the Salvadoran Revolution, there was a Salvadoran professor in our department who would periodically take off work and go down to El Salvador to actually put on a uniform and fight for the revolutionaries! I was eating at a Salvadoran restaurant in San Mateo, California, in 2001, and I talked to the waiter. He said he left El Salvador in 1969. His parents went to the slums of San Salvador and said there were 12 year old boys walking around with AK-47’s. Sometimes revolution is just in the air you know? His parents saw the writing on the wall and put him on a plane to the US. Ten years later, full-scale civil war exploded, after a decade of small-scale actions, mostly kidnappings for ransom and bank robberies by the revolutionaries to raise cash, and endless forays to the villages and slums by death squads to kill the people. It was the twilight of the 1970’s, and the people had a choice. They could sit in their homes unarmed and wait for the government to come out and kill them, or they could at least take up arms to defend themselves when the government came out to kill them. Not much of a choice there. And so the war was on. The Commie Moscow – Cuba – Banana Republic ratline conspiracy be damned; this is how most revolutions in Latin America started. If you’re gonna get killed anyway, you may as well go down in a hail of bullets trying to take some enemies down with you.