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.

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.

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.

IQ and Racial Background of Latin American Indians

Granted, they are primitive Austronesian Asian people with an IQ of 70 and it takes all sorts of social programs to keep them fed and clothed and away from the alcohol but you Gallegos Basque do not even pretend to give a single rat’s ass.

First of all, Amerindians are not Austronesians. Austronesians are Malays, Filipinos, Indonesians and Taiwanese Aborigines. Other people  speaking Austronesian languages such as Polynesians, Melanesians and Micronesians are only part Austronesian.
Polynesians are 1/2 Melanesian and 1/2 Austronesian.
Melanesians vary, but the some of the Austronesian speakers in the Papuan coast and eastern Indonesia are 20% Austronesian and 80% Papuan. Austronesians only settled the coast of Papua, so the interior remained Papuan. The Austronesians brought language but few genes.
I believe Micronesians are 1/2 Polynesian and 1/2 Papuan.
Amerindians are simply Northeast Asians, the same folks as Chinese, Japanese, Mongolians and Siberians, but they are closest to Siberians. The main difference is that the Amerindians are from a more primitive and archaic type of Northeast Asian that may not have gone though the high IQ mutations. I would call them Paleomongoloids, whereas the others are generally Neomongoloids. So Amerindians are just an early version of the highly functional Northeast Asians.
Some relation to the Northeast Asians can be seen in their features and sparse, Northeast Asian like body hair. The hair on their heads looks very Northeast Asian too. Whereas a Northeast Asian baby is calm, cool and collected, an Amerindian baby is silent but very aware and watchful, like an Indian hunter hiding in the woods waiting for a deer. They are so deathly quiet that observers often wonder if they are dead. On the other hand, Black babies are precocious physically, very fast in development and tend to be very active physically and even boisterous. They are quite extroverted.
These racial differences in babies are present from the very earliest stages of life and I am convinced that they are biological in nature. I also believe that this shows that there are obvious differences between the races at least in personality. If those differences are showing up that  early and that uniformly, they cannot possibly be due to culture. Babies are not effected tremendously by culture anyway.
Amerindian IQ is absolutely not 70. They are not that dumb. Scores vary, but a figure of 87 for the whole continent seems pretty good. Some are lower. I believe that Indians in Mexico are 83 and in Guatemala is the same.
87 IQ is not a bad score. Your average human has an IQ of 89. Certainly 87 IQ folks or even 83 IQ folks do not need all sorts of social programs to keep them clothed and fed. Keeping them away from the booze is much easier. These people lived life without social programs for 12,000 years. They did just fine. They don’t need welfare to survive.
Although the 87 IQ is close to the 85 US Black IQ, Amerindians have only 2X the White crime rate, whereas for Blacks it is 7-8X the White crime rate. This shows that attempt to put White-Black crime differences all down to IQ is a fool’s errand, but that is what so many HBD types, usually racists, do. There is more driving Black aggression, crime, violence and antisocial behavior than just IQ.
I am thinking that extroversion and associated problems with impulse control and delayed gratification along with higher testosterone in both males and females may have something to do with it. Also some genetic mutations that elevate the risk of violence and criminality in Whites are present at much higher levels in Blacks. It is seen in only .1% of White men, but I believe the rate is  ~5% in Black men.
We need to stop IQ fetishization and trying to reduce all racial issues to IQ. There’s a hell of a lot more going on with humans than just IQ, and it doesn’t take a genius IQ to figure that out.

TPP Ignores Global Warming and Allows Murder of Labor Union Organizers

I plan on posting a number of articles abut this catastrophic TPP agreement that sadly looks like it is going to become law. I can’t even begin to tell you how horrific this trade agreement is. In a nutshell, it does away with all governments and makes it so corporations rule the world. Any government that passes any law that limits current or future profits of a corporation could be sued on the grounds that that law was a “trade barrier.” The corporation can sue in a kangaroo court made up of corporate types for damages,and the corporation will always win and the governments will always lose.

Government have had to pay out many millions of dollars to corporations for passing laws that limited their profits under NAFTA. And yes, all laws dealing global warming can also be challenged by this Frankenstein of a bill.

As you can see, it encourages the murder of labor leaders, union members and organizers because killing union members would not be a violation of the Labor Section of the agreement. The parts of the TPP dealing with labor and the environment are written in boilerplate and are entirely voluntary, while the sections that allow corporations to rule our lives in written in very strict legalese.

It’s worse than a catastrophe. It’s an out and out nightmare, and it’s the end of representative government as we know it. All governments will become irrelevant, and in their places, we will all be ruled by corporations. In other words, multinational corporations will become our de facto governments. It is stunning how crazy that is.

All the Republicans are for it.

Of course the Democratic Party is down with this agreement all the way. Obama is pushing it like crazy. There was a brief uprising a few months ago when it looked like the bill might not get through the Congress because so many Democrats were against it. This was followed by maniacal lobbying on the part of corporate lobbyists and an all-out propaganda blitz by the US media, 100% of which (note that we have a “free” press) supported the bill.

The “liberal” New York Times came out very strongly in favor of it and said that Obama’s legacy would ride on whether he could get this bill through or not. In other words, according to the “liberal” New York Times, if Obama could not get the bill through, then that would mean that his Presidency was a failure. So the Times threatened Obama with complete humiliation and damage to his mark in history if he could not get the TPP through.

Note that the entire “liberal” media came out in favor of this monstrosity. Note that “liberal” Obama came out in favor of it. I know some Democratic Party stalwarts who seem to support this nightmare bill. They think that people who oppose it are “extremist nuts.”

These people support anything that Obama does. If Obama is for it, then they support it. He can push the most reactionary stuff you could imagine, and these stalwarts will never oppose Obama or any other Democrat for one second. We really need to get away from this insane partisanship, as it is irrational.

To these folks, everything Republicans do its bad and everything Democrats do is good. Unfortunately, once you take that POV, Democrats are free to act as rightwing as they want to, and their moronic stalwarts will support everything they do because it’s treason to oppose a Democrat.

I will be posting more abuo9t this awful and insane trade agreement in the coming days, but this will be good for a starter.

TPP Ignores Global Warming and Allows Murder of Labor Union Organizers

by Eric Zeusse, from Global Research

U.S. President Barack Obama’s capstone to his Presidency, his proposed megalithic international ‘trade’ treaties, are finally coming into their home-stretch, with the Pacific deal finally being made public on Thursday November 5th.

The final Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) proposed treaty would leave each signatory nation liable to be sued by any international corporation that objects to any new regulation, or increase in regulation, regarding climate change, otherwise known as global warming. In no terminology is that phenomenon even so much as just mentioned in the “Environment” chapter.

Regarding labor issues, including slavery, the “Labour” chapter of the TPP contains merely platitudes. (Obama allowed Malaysia into the compact despite its notoriously poor record of non-enforcement of its ban on slavery, because he wants the U.S. to control the Strait of Malacca in order to impede China’s economic and military expansion; it’s part of Obama’s anti-China policy. Almost everything that he does has different motives than the ones his rhetoric claims.)

Throughout, the treaty would place international corporations in ever-increasing control over all regulations regarding workers’ rights, the environment, product safety, and consumer protection. But the environmental and labor sections are particularly blatant insults to the public — a craven homage to the top stockholders in international corporations. The World’s Richest 80 people own the same amount of wealth as the world’s bottom 50%; and Obama represents those and other super-rich and their friends and servants in the lobbying and other associated industries. But he also represents the even richer people who aren’t even on that list, such as King Salman of Saudi Arabia, the world’s richest person. It’s people such as that who will be the real beneficiaries of Obama’s ‘trade’ treaties. The public will be harmed, enormously, wherever these treaties become law.

The full meaning of the terms that are set forth in the TPP agreement won’t be publicly known for at least four years, but the explicit terms that were made public on November 5th, and that will be presented to the 12 participating nations for signing, are entirely consistent with what had been expected on the basis of Wikileaks and other earlier published information.

The 12 participating nations are: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam. Three countries were excluded by U.S. President Obama, because the U.S. doesn’t yet control them and they are instead viewed as being not allied with the main axis of U.S. international power: U.S., Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and Israel. Those three outright-excluded countries are Russia, China, and India. (India, of course, has hostile relations with Pakistan, which is Sunni and therefore part of the Saudi-Qatar-Turkey portion of the U.S. international core, basically the Sunni portion of the core. By contrast, Russia and China have been determinedly independent of the U.S., and are therefore treated by President Obama as being hostile nations: he wants instead to isolate them, to choke off their access to markets, as much as possible. This same motivation also factored largely in his coup to take control of Ukraine, through which Russia’s gas passes on its way into the EU, the world’s largest gas-market.)

6 nations that Obama had invited into the TPP were ultimately unwilling to accept Obama’s terms and so were excluded when the final text was published: Colombia, Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea, and Indonesia.

The phrases “global warming” and “climate change” don’t appear anywhere in the entire TPP document, nor does “climate” nor “warming” — it’s an area that’s entirely left to international corporations in each one of the separate participating nations to assault as much as they wish in order to gain competitive advantage against all of the other corporations that operate in the given nation: i.e., something for each corporation to sacrifice in order to be able to lower the given company’s costs. That raises its profit-margin. This also means that if any international corporation claims to be subjected in any participating nation, to global-warming regulation or enforcement which poses a barrier or impediment to that corporation’s profits, then that corporation may sue that given nation, and fines might be assessed against that nation (i.e., against its taxpayers) for such regulation or enforcement. National publics are no longer sovereign.

The “Labour” chapter is a string of platitudes, such as, “Article 19.7: Corporate Social Responsibility: Each Party shall endeavor to encourage enterprises to voluntarily adopt corporate social responsibility initiatives on labor issues that have been endorsed or supported by that Party.”

President Obama’s Trade Representative, his longtime personal friend Michael Froman, organized and largely wrote Obama’s proposed trade treaties: TPP for the Pacific, and TTIP and TISA for the Atlantic. Froman told the AFL-CIO and U.S. Senators that when countries such as Colombia systematically murder labor-union organizers, it’s no violation of workers’ rights — nothing that’s of any concern to the U.S. regarding this country’s international trade policies or the enforcement of them. On 22 April 2015, Huffington Post, one of the few U.S. news media to report honestly on these treaties, bannered AFL-CIO’s Trumka: USTR Told Us Murder Isn’t a Violation, and Michael McAuliff reported that, “Defenders of the White House push for sweeping trade deals argue they include tough enforcement of labor standards. But a top union leader scoffed at such claims Tuesday, revealing that [Obama] administration officials have said privately that they don’t consider even the killings of labor organizers to be violations of those pacts.”

In other words: This is, and will be, the low level of the playing-field that U.S. workers will be competing against in TPP etc., just as it is already, in the far-smaller existing NAFTA (which Hillary Clinton had helped to pass in Congress during the early 1990s). (Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama, all campaigned for the Presidency by attacking Republicans for pushing such ‘trade’ deals. Their actions when they gain power, contradict their words. America and virtually the entire world has become rule of a suckered public, by perhaps as many as a thousand psychopathic aristocrats who own the international corporations and ‘news’ media, and who regularly do business with each other though they wall themselves off from the public.

Typically, at their level, it makes no real difference which country their passport is from.) “Trumka said that even after the Obama administration crafted an agreement to tighten labor protections four years ago, some 105 labor organizers have been killed, and more than 1,300 have been threatened with death.” The Obama Administration is ignoring the tightened regulations that it itself had managed to get nominally implemented on paper. “Pressed for details about Trumka’s assertion that murder doesn’t count as a violation of labor rules, Thea Lee, the AFL-CIO deputy chief of staff, told HuffPost that USTR officials said in at least two meetings where she was present that killing and brutalizing organizers would not be considered interfering with labor rights under the terms of the trade measures.”

Furthermore: “’We documented five or six murders of Guatemalan trade unionists that the government had failed to effectively investigate or prosecute,’ Lee said. ‘The USTR told us that the murders of trade unionists or violence against trade unionists was not a violation of the labor chapter.’”

That U.S. Trade Representative, Michael Froman, is the same person Obama has negotiating with foreign governments, and with international corporations, both Obama’s TPP, and his TTIP & TISA.

The most important chapter in the TPP treaty is “Dispute Settlement,” which sets forth the means by which corporations will sue countries for alleged violations of their stockholders ‘rights’ to extract profits from operations of those corporations in the signatory countries. The underlying assumption here is that the rights of international stockholders take precedence over the rights (even over the sovereignty rights) of the citizens of any participating country.

Instead of these suits being judged according to any nation’s laws, they are allowed to be addressed only by means of private arbitration “Panels.” The Dispute Settlement chapter contains “Article 28.9: Composition of Panels.” Section #1 there is simply: “The panel shall comprise three members.” Each of the two Parties will appoint a member; one for the suing corporation, and the other for the sued nation; and both of those members will then jointly select a third member “from the roster established pursuant to Article 28.10.3”; and this third member will automatically “serve as chair.”

Article 28.10.3 says that anyone who possesses “expertise or experience in law, international trade, other matters covered by this Agreement, or the resolution of disputes arising under international trade agreements” may be selected for the roster, so long as the individual meets vague criteria such as that they “be independent of, and not be affiliated with or take instructions from, any Party.” No penalty is laid out for anyone on the roster who lies about any of that. Basically, anyone may become a person on the roster, even non-lawyers may, and even corrupt individuals may, especially because there are no penalties for anyone on the roster, none at all is stated.

Then, “Article 28.19,” section 8: “If a monetary assessment is to be paid to the complaining Party, then it shall be paid in U.S. currency, or in an equivalent amount of the currency of the responding Party or in another currency agreed to by the disputing Parties.”

There is no appeals-process. If a nation gets fined and yet believes that something was wrong with the panel’s decision, there is no recourse. No matter how much a particular decision might happen to have been arrived at in contradiction of that nation’s laws and courts and legal precedents, the panels’ decisions aren’t appealable in any national legal system. Whatever precedents might become established from these panels’ subsequent record of decisions will constitute no part of any nation’s legal system, but instead create an entirely new forming body of case-law in an evolving international government which consists of international corporations and their panelists, and of whatever other panelists are acceptable to those corporate panelists. Voters have no representation, they’re merely sued. Stockholders have representation, they do the suing, of the various nations’ taxpayers, for ‘violating’ the ‘rights’ of stockholders.

The roster of authorized panelists available to be chosen by any corporation’s panelists in conjunction with by any nation’s panelists, is customarily composed of individuals who move back and forth between government and private-sector roles, through a “revolving door,” so that on both ends of that, the ultimate control is with the owners of the controlling blocs of stock in various international corporations. This is the newly evolving world government. It will not block any nation from legislating protections of workers, or of consumers, or of the environment; it will simply hold a power to extract from any participating nation’s taxpayers fines for ‘violating’ the ‘rights’ of stockholders in international corporations. Citizens will increasingly be held under the axe, and the top stockholders in international corporations will be holding it. This isn’t the type of world government that was anticipated by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, the founders of the U.N., and by the other early (pre-1954) proponents of world government. But, since 1954, the plans for this anti-democratic form of emerging world government were laid; and, now, those plans are the ones that are being placed into effect.

Thus, on 26 October 2015, the United Nations Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, the international legal expert Alfred de Zayas, headlined, UN Expert Calls for Abolition of Investor-State Dispute Settlement Arbitrations. That’s the system, otherwise called “ISDS,” which already exists in a few much smaller international-trade treaties, and which is now being introduced on the largest scale ever in TPP and in Obama’s other proposed treaties. The U.N. press release, calling for its “abolition” or explicit outlawing, said:

In his fourth report to the UN General Assembly, Mr. de Zayas focuses on the adverse human rights impacts of free trade and investment agreements and calls for the abolition of Investor-State dispute settlement mechanism (ISDS) that accompanies most of these agreements.

“Over the past twenty-five years bilateral international treaties and free trade agreements with investor-state-dispute-settlement have adversely impacted the international order and undermined fundamental principles of the UN, State sovereignty, democracy and the rule of law. It prompts moral vertigo in the unbiased observer,” he noted.

Far from contributing to human rights and development, ISDS has compromised the State’s regulatory functions and resulted in growing inequality among States and within them,” the expert stated.

Earlier, on 5 May 2015, I headlined, “UN Lawyer Calls TTP & TTIP ‘A Dystopian future in Which Corporations and not Democratically Elected Governments Call the Shots’.” I close now by repeating the opening of that report:

The Obama-proposed international-trade deals, if passed into law, will lead to “a dystopian future in which corporations and not democratically elected governments call the shots,” says Alfred De Zayas, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order.

These two mammoth trade-pacts, one (TTIP) for Atlantic nations, and the other (TTP) for Pacific nations excluding China (since Obama is against China), would transfer regulations of corporations to corporations themselves, and away from democratically elected governments. Regulation of working conditions and of the environment, as well as of product-safety including toxic foods and poisonous air and other consumer issues, would be placed into the hands of panels whose members will be appointed by large international corporations. Their decisions will remove the power of democratically elected governments to control these things. “Red tape” that’s imposed by elected national governments would be eliminated — replaced by the international mega-corporate version.

De Zayas was quoted in Britain’s Guardian on May 4th as saying also that, “The bottom line is that these agreements must be revised, modified or terminated,”because they would vastly harm publics everywhere, even though they would enormously benefit the top executives of corporations by giving them control as a sort of corporate-imposed world government, answerable to the people who control those corporations.

Democratic Party Liberals Are Militarists

And they always have been.
Their current incarnation in the US is in the form of “The Cruise Missile Left” and “The Humanitarian Bomber Left”.
They are the ones who ramped up the Vietnam War and expanded it to its greatest extent. Let us look at the record of the two first post-WW2 Democratic Presidents and their incredible militarism and very rightwing foreign policy.
Democratic Party liberals did the following things:
Under Democratic Party liberal Harry Truman:

  • Engaged in a massive campaign to hide and secrete away Nazis after World War 2 so the CIA could use them to fight Communism.
  • Installed military rule in Japan. The first act of the military government was outlaw all labor unions.
  • Overthrew the democratic government of Greece with a rightwing monarchist coup and then helped the new Greek fascist government as they murdered 12,000 Greek Communists and threw another 40,000 in prison, thus starting the Greek Civil War.
  • Supported the Neo-Nazi Ukrainian nationalist UNO as it waged its anti-Soviet guerrilla campaign in the Ukraine.
  • Supported and assisted the South Korean government while they murdered 200,000 South Koreans in the face of a Communist insurgency from 1945-1950.
  • Destroyed every city in North Korea, often with firebombs, bombed dams causing rivers to flood. North Korea was so devastated after this that most of the population was living underground in tunnels, shelters or caves. All in all, 3 million North Koreans were killed in the war, mostly by US bombs.
  • Assisted the French colonialists in the fight against the anti-colonialist Viet Minh.
  • Assisted the British colonialists in the fight against the anti-colonialist Malay guerrillas.
  • Assisted Chiang Kai Shek when he consolidated his rule in Taiwan by installing military rule, outlawing all languages but Chinese and murdering 100,000 people, mostly Leftists.
  • Set up the fascist Gladio stay-behind network all across Europe. This was a group of fascists who would “stay behind” after a Soviet invasion to fight an insurgency against the Soviets. The Gladio network subsequently caused all sorts of problems, including a wave of fascist terror bombings in the Years of Lead in the 1970’s.
  • Illegally interfered with the Italian elections after the war to keep the Italian Communist Party from winning.
  • Threatened to drop nuclear bombs on both North Korea and China if they didn’t say uncle.

Under Democratic Party liberal John F. Kennedy:

  • Stepped up the Vietnam War by vastly increasing the number of advisers into the tens of thousands.
  • Invaded Cuba in the Bay of Pigs invasion.
  • Supported a savage government and state death squads in Guatemala that slaughtered 5-10,000 people while fighting an insurgency.
  • Supported the French colonists versus the FLN anti-colonialists during the Algerian Civil War.
  • Initiated a violent coup that overthrew President Diem of South Vietnam, killing him because he was getting in the way of US plans.
  • Imposed an embargo on Cuba which idiotically continues to this very day.
  • Waged a guerrilla war called Operation Mongoose in Cuba where 10,000 people were killed, often civilians. They would get in boats and cruise along the beaches on Cuba, killing beachgoers with machine guns. They set off bombs in factories full of workers, killing up to 100 people at a time. The US began its endless efforts to murder Fidel Castro.
  • Started a lying campaign that the Castro government was going to take parents’ children away from so they could be raised by the state. 10,000 Cuban children fled the island with their parents.

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.

The Paradox of Capitalist Regulation

Repost from the old site.

James Schipper writes in the comments section:

The historical record shows that wage increases eventually follow productivity growth. For instance, in 1960 South Korea was dirt-poor, and naturally wages were extremely low. By 1990, SK had become a prosperous country, due to massive productivity growth, and wages were also much higher.

As workers become much more productive on average, they become more valuable to employers, who are therefore willing to pay them higher wages, for the same reason that a dairy farmer is willing to pay a higher price for a cow which gives 10,000 liters of milk per year than for a cow which gives 5,000 liters per year.

It seems to be true that wage increases in the US have not kept pace with productivity growth in the last 3 decades. I have no explanation for it.

It can’t be doubted that the transition to a market economy in Russia was handled very badly. Such major changes should be introduced gradually. Just compare China’s performance with Russia’s in the 1990’s.

The problem with Chile between 1973 and 1983 was that the country was completely opened to foreign economic influences almost overnight while the exchange rate was kept fixed. They liberalized the entire foreign sector, except the exchange rate. If they had also brought in flexible exchange rates, the results would have been less catastrophic.

I hate neoliberalism as much as you, but I’m a moderate economic liberal. I believe that durable prosperity is not possible without considerable private ownership of the means of production and free markets. The motto should be: the market when possible and the state when necessary.

The Chicago boys are like a doctor who always prescribes the same medicine and then argues that the medicine wasn’t taken properly when some patients get worse.

Inflation is not bad for all capitalists. As a rule, inflation, or at least unexpected inflation, is bad for lenders and good for borrowers. Most companies are borrowers. Inflation tends to reduce the real wealth of lenders and increase the real wealth of borrowers.

Suppose that I lend you 10,000 for a year at 5% interest and on the assumption that inflation for the coming year will be 0%. Instead, inflation is 20%. After a year, I get my 10,000 back, but their real value is only 8,000. I lost 2,000 and you gained 2,000.

It is a libertarian myth that big government equals oppressive government. In what way do I become less free because in Canada the state provides most health care for free? I can’t just demand any treatment that I like, but I wouldn’t be able to that either if I were privately insured.

There is something fraudulent about neoliberalism. They constantly talk about freedom, but what they really mean is that they are opposed to economic egalitarianism. The freedom that they are most interested in is the freedom to make lots of money. Still, hostility to neoliberalism should not blind us toward the virtues of free enterprise, which are considerable.

I respond:

I really dislike capitalism, but I am the first to admit that pure socialism has some very serious problems. Socialism has done great at building economies for a while, but after a few decades, it starts bogging down into bureaucracy. Furthermore, while alleviating poverty, we have only been able to provide a low standard of living for the people. Social capital only goes so far – people want stuff too.

My attitude is that some capitalism may be necessary, like death and disease, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good thing by any means. Lots of nasty stuff is necessary.

Class war is continuous under capitalism.

Owners are continuously waging war against workers to take more of the profits generated by their enterprises. If there is X amount of profits from an enterprise, owners must decide how much to take out for themselves and how much to give to workers. Clearly they wish to give as little as possible to workers. So there is a battle between workers and owners to divvy up the profits from the enterprise.

Owners oppose increased % of profits going to workers since that means less for them, so they are always trying to cut down on the workers’ % to get more for themselves. The tendency among capitalists would be to take 100% of productivity increases if they could get away with it. The only reason that workers get any % of productivity increases at all is when they organize to fight for it.

During the period you mention, the South Korean labor movement emerged and became extremely combative. This is probably the reason for the wage increases you mention. Capitalists will never give a wage increase just to be nice. Their whole project, in part, is to screw the worker to the greatest extent possible and even kill him if they can get away with it.

Indeed, capitalists kill millions of workers every year in the world, which is exactly what their project is designed to do. Workers and management are de facto enemies in capitalism, and if workers do not organize, they don’t get much of anything.

I’m sure there were productivity increases in housing construction from 1975 to today and the prices of houses have certainly gone through the roof. At the same time, wages for construction workers have probably collapsed by anywhere from 50-80%. 100% of that vast surplus and probable productivity increase went into the hands of owners. Workers got less than zero. In a time of booming profits and probable productivity raises, instead of getting even a meager slice, they got a massive pay cut.

Builders reaped massive benefits from declining wages and from increased prices for their homes. Many industries have seen declining wages in the US since 1980 due in part to the busting of unions and their replacement typically with illegal immigrant or H-1B guest worker labor.

During a 15-year period in Guatemala from 1948-1963, the economy grew by 5% per year. During that same period, the % of the population living in poverty actually increased from 87% to 93%. 5% economic growth over 15 years equals a 75% increase in the size of the economy. 0% of the benefits of this economic growth went to the vast majority of the population.

This is how capitalism is supposed to work.

Every capitalist on Earth wants to live in a country like that – where owners, the rich and the upper middle class reap all or almost all of the benefits from economic growth and the workers get little, nothing, or even lose money. To avoid this, workers must organize into unions, since workers usually never get anything from capitalists without a fight. In the the 3rd World where murders of trade unionists are par for the course, it’s often a deadly fight.

I repeat, capitalism is evil, but pure socialism doesn’t seem to work very well.

I don’t have much issues with small businesses, who often seem to really care about their employees and consumers (customers) and even in some cases, the environment and the society they live in. But Organized Small Business is always profoundly reactionary.

But big business is just bad. Whatever benefits it gives us in terms of jobs and decent products, good service or reduced prices is typically vastly outweighed by the havoc it wreaks on society, the environment, the workers and consumers.

It’s true that regulation and organized workers and consumers can ameliorate a lot of this downside, but in capitalist nations, the capitalist classes buy all the media and institute a Gramscian cultural hegemony over society with their media and cultural control. At the same time, they use their money and media and cultural power to buy the state itself which ideally ought to be regulating them in the interests of workers, consumers, the environment and society itself.

So you have a state that will do nothing in the face of the bulldozer of capital. The result is a flattened social society, a wrecked public sector, slums, homelessness, disease, early death, environmental devastation, harmed consumers and crippled workers and nothing in government to stop any of this.

The housing crisis is a case in point. Contra your assertion that the New Deal failed (which is actually rightwing revisionism against the New Deal), in fact, the New Deal, in particular the financial reforms – the FDIC which restored confidence in the banks, the SEC that regulated the stock market and Fannie Mae to bring back the mortgage market – is what finally got the economy going again.

This was one of the greatest accomplishments the US government ever did, it was wholly socialist in nature, and it was opposed ferociously by the Republican Party and the entire US business sector at the time. After Roosevelt rammed it through anyway, the business class vowed to wage struggle, for decades if they had to, to overturn these things.

Finally, by the 1990’s, much of this regulatory structure had been whittled away.

Whittling away this structure had been a project of Capital since this regulatory apparatus had been put in place. Now that the regulation is a shadow of its former self, we have another Depression-like phenomena with the housing crisis, all the way to failed banks, bank runs, loss of deposits, etc. As one might expect.

This is the problem. The only way to keep capitalism from being completely nightmarish is to regulate it, and the capitalist sector reflexively fights to the death any attempts to regulate it.

Furthermore, they grab the media and culture itself to brainwash gullible workers and consumers to support their elitist agenda and to get the workers, consumers and society itself to oppose their own interests and support the contrary interests of Capital. Then they grab the state itself and prevent it from enacting those very regulations necessary for a civilized capitalism.

This is one of my primary problems with capitalism. Regulation is mandatory to keep capitalism halfway civilized, but the nature of the capitalist system, as described above, works in such a way as to make such regulation often extremely difficult or impossible.

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?

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.

Why US Business Loves Mass Immigration

Repost from the old site.
…And why every American who is not a businessmen should not.
This post will show how immigration is great for US business, but it’s bad for everyone else in the country. That includes everyone who doesn’t run a business, all of you, “What’s good for my boss is good for” worker-fools.
James Schipper has been laying out some excellent reasons in the comments threads about why immigration does not appear to make much sense for economics or society as a whole. In fact, mass immigration seems to be detrimental to your average person. His arguments seemed logical, but I had hardly heard them before.
But then I wondered, if it’s so obvious that mass immigration is bad for society and even for average income, why would business and the elites support it?
Turns out that business has no interest at all in the average income of workers. In the Third World, they are perfectly content to have millions starving or living in the streets every year, as in India. Or to have 90% of the population in poverty as Guatemala was for years and Haiti is now.
As long as the rich stay rich and business stays profitable, they don’t really give a flying fuck about anyone else and whether they are in poverty or not.
In Haiti, the elite has a monopoly on food sales, which they mostly import and mark up at very high rates. Since the poor have to eat or starve, they have no choice but to pay the high prices. So even a 90% poor country can still generate high profits for business. Fewer poor people would mean rising wages or more of returns going to wages than to owners. Of course, business always opposes rising wages and increased shares to workers.
Let’s let James show us just how supporting mass immigration is logical for businessmen:

The reason why the business community tends to support immigration is that more immigrants means more workers, more customers and more real estate users.The essential question is not whether immigrants work for less than natives but whether the presence of immigrants makes labor cheaper than it otherwise would be.
I think that mass immigration has a depressing effect on wages, or else its prevents wages from rising as fast as they would rise without immigration. Lower wages do not necessarily translate into fatter profits because, by lowering production costs, immigration may lead to lower prices.
Slavery also lowered production costs, so the ultimate beneficiaries of slavery may have been the consumers of goods produced with slave labor.
More immigrants likely means that there will be economic growth, and that can mean increased sales. What matters to business is not per capita sales but total sales. Let’s illustrate this. We have a town with 500 people and a restaurant. Let’s assume that on average each town resident consumes 6 restaurant meals per month, so the restaurant sells 3000 meals per month.
Now 200 immigrants enter the town. They lower average income, so that each town resident now consumes 5 meals instead of 6. The restaurant still benefits from the population increase because it now can sell 3500 meals per month instead of 3000. if you are in the business of selling widgets, you are better-off selling 1200 widgets to 150 people than 1000 widgets to 100 people.
Suppose that no immigrants had entered the US in the last 50 years, would average real estate prices be as high today as they are? I doubt it. The more people you put in a given space, the more property is likely to be worth in that space. Immigrants have to live somewhere. Since business owns a lot of real estate, they benefit from population growth.
For business, the important thing is usually total economic growth, not per capita economic growth, let alone per capita consumption. For ordinary people, the important thing is per capita income growth and its distribution.
Let me illustrate demographic investment once more. We have a country with 400,000 high school students and there are 400 high schools. Schools last 100 years, so each year the country has to build 4 schools. Let’s assume that a school costs 50 million dollars. That means 200 million in building costs per year.
In addition, the country spends 5,000 per year on each student. Adding the building costs to that amount, the cost of each high school student is 5,500 per year if the student population remains the same.
Now we make the assumption that the student population increases by 4000 each year. Since there are 1000 students per school, the country has to build 4 more schools to accommodate the new arrivals. Instead of building 4 schools, the country now has to build 8.
In the first year after the growth in the student population, the costs per student are (404,000 x 5,000) + 8 x 50 million = 2,420,000,000/404,000 = 5,990. In other words, the cost per student has increased from 5,500 to 5,990.
The increment of 490 can’t be used for consumption. That is the effect of demographic investments. It reduces consumption. Education is an investment.
The establishment can also believe in a lot nonsense. Many members of the elite may believe in immigration because it makes them look cosmopolitan, tolerant and sophisticated, so unlike the unwashed who don’t like immigrants because they are unenlightened and bigoted. It is a coalition of plutocrats and political correcties that keep the flow of immigrants going in Canada and the US.

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.

"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.

Cool Page On Social Democracy

Repost from the old site.
This is a really cool page on the Social Democratic Party of America. There are several social democratic parties in the US, and no, rightwing fuckwads, they are not much like the Democratic Party at all. A lot of them don’t even like the Democratic Party. Social democracy means a lot of things all over the world.
There is a Socialist International of socialist parties all over the world, and I support that organization. Even a lot of Communists don’t necessarily hate it. A lot of us on the Left support all sorts of socialist models, from Communism to social democracy even all the way to the US Democratic Party.
Your average US rightwing shithead can’t seem to figure that out, but then, they subscribe to a philosophy that is narrow-minded and stupid in both intent and praxis.
Truth is, as you can see by this page, there is not a lot of love lost between at least this social democratic party and Communists. To say that they are one and the same just shows that you are a stupid rightwing asshole. No serious political scientist would make such a statement.
I don’t necessarily agree with this party in their critique of Cuba, Belarus and other countries ruled by Communist-type regimes, but hey, it’s a big tent here on the Left.
There are all sorts of social democratic parties all over the world. As you can see, they are major parties in Slovenia, Japan, Croatia, Czechoslovakia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Romania, Ukraine, Iceland, Austria, Serbia, Poland , Paraguay, Portugal, Finland, Cameroon, Guatemala, Tajikistan, Macedonia, France, Italy, Sweden, Belarus, Denmark and all sorts of other places.
I have varying opinions on how well they are doing; I think that the ones in Europe have done a pretty good job. But I have a pretty low opinion of Lula’s PT in Brazil, Bachelet’s Socialist Party in Chile, the UK Labor Party (An imperialist socialist party?), and I doubt if this new Guatemalan party is going to get much done.
The Peruvian social democrats have a particularly horrible record. The Sandinistas in Nicaragua will not be able to get much done either. Cristina Merkel is having a hard time getting a lot of her agenda through in Argentina.
Social democracy seems to work best in highly developed and wealthy countries, as you can see above. In the poor Third World, they haven’t been able to do much to change the reactionary and backwards nature of society, nor to alleviate poverty, nor to do much of anything.
I think in a lot of cases there may be a necessity for revolutionary change, either via the way of the gun, or possibly peacefully in a more civilized society via the Hugo Chavez model.
In Europe, the ruling classes and the Right were completely destroyed in World War 2, which left millions of rightists and fascists dead and left the whole rightwing movement scattered and discredited. Hence social democracy was able to make a lot of headway with a defeated and more or less rendered-civilized and neutered Right.
Further, society itself changed in that even the wealthy, the upper middle classes, the middle classes, and corporate executives began to support social democracy.
In part this social pact was due to massive pressure from the Left which caused the European Right and business classes to sue for peace via a Social Compact. Also, society itself changed and social democracy became the dominant model for all classes.
Something similar occurred in Japan. The Right was destroyed by the war, and those that were not dead were discredited and humiliated.
In Eastern Europe, decades of Communism may have left a distaste for Communism but not for social democracy. Once again, most of the rightists were simply slaughtered, the rest were in jail or discredited, and society itself was well-molded along socialist lines for decades.
In Latin America, faced with a much more backwards, venal, dishonest, amoral, criminal, corrupt, and murderous upper class and upper middle class intent on staying in power at all costs, social democracy has had a really hard time getting much done. It’s fascinating that the US has allowed social democracy to flower in Europe, but has smashed every glimmer of it in Latin America as “Communism” or “dictatorship”.
Socialist parties in India (the Congress Party) have failed for similar reasons as the ones in Latin America. Social democracy in Sri Lanka has a good record.
In most of the Arab World, there is a more or less socialist model in place, no matter what the governments call themselves. Radical free market capitalism is contrary to Arab society and to Islam itself, hence it is not likely to succeed in any Arab or Islamic society.
Cambodia is run by a socialist party. So is Burma, but most socialists want nothing to do with them.
Contrary to rightwing bullshit, socialism in the form of social democracy has not failed at all. It is not a failed or discredited model or any of that.
Social democratic parties have sadly had a really hard time getting off the ground in the United States. For the most part, this is because America is extremely rightwing for a developed country. It is no exaggeration to say that the US is the most reactionary developed country on Earth, in both its leadership and in its citizens. This is 100% the fault of US Whites, and always has been.
There’s been a decades-long propaganda war against socialism in which the word “socialism” was deviously married to word “Communism”. Americans being a bunch of morons, and basically very rightwing in their natures, swallowed the whole thing. But in the mid-1970’s, things were different.
We had had over a decade of fairly progressive politics, even under Republicans, and leaders of major US corporations got together, agitated and worried. They said that if something is not done now, we are going to have a European-style social democracy in the US. This began a years-long project to set up and fund a series rightwing foundations and think tanks in the US.
They are still going strong, and have tremendous influence on US politics due to their ability to churn out papers, speakers and conferences on issues almost immediately. They have deep ties to the reactionary corporate media and quickly popped onto TV and the front page and kept there as long as the Right wants or needs any issue to be spotlighted.
It is true that there is a tradition of radical individualism in the US, but that’s only among White people. This may have been slightly reasonable at some point if you were Davey Crockett building a cabin in the woods, but those days are long gone.
One great thing about the loss of a White majority in the US (which will be both good and bad) is that US non-Whites, in particular Hispanics and Blacks, are much more sympathetic to at least Democratic Party politics and possibly social democracy.
On the other hand, reactionary politics have such a deep hold on this country that even some younger Blacks and Hispanics, once they start making some money, adopt some form of reactionary politics, typically nowadays along the lines of the faddish but ultra-rightwing libertarianism. This is discouraging, and shows that a non-Whites in the US are not necessarily a progressive bloc.
Another thing to note is that despite the hostile rhetoric some US social democratic parties take towards the Democratic Party, we already have a lot of social democracy here in the US, brought to us actually by both political parties.
The Right, meaning White America, has been savagely slashing away at this social democracy for decades now, but even so, it’s a Hell of a lot better record than the social democratic parties in Argentina, Chile, Peru, Guatemala, Jamaica and Brazil, which in my opinion have failed to varying degrees.
If Americans were anything like Europeans, social democracy ought to be an easy play here in the US. But for one thing, White Americans’ opposition to high taxation is going to make this a difficult project.
White Americans’ opposition to socialism and social democracy is rooted in a lot of things, but one of the main things is race. It’s all about taking the hard-earned tax dollars of White Americans and giving them to worthless gangbanging, welfare-addicted, drug-abusing Hispanics and Black criminals, scumbags and lowlifes.
Truth is that this simple-minded mindset has devastated a lot of hardworking working-class lower to mid-income Whites, but White America just can’t see that.
White Americans don’t have much in the way of racial solidarity. If there is anything, there is solidarity based on class and that’s it. Whites in the suburbs think that low-income and working class Whites, whom they refer to as White trash, can fuck off. While White American politics are indeed often rooted in race, they are also rooted in class too, and the two can be contradictory.
Life is complicated.

Why US Business Loves Mass Immigration

Repost from the old site.
…And why every American who is not a businessmen should not.
This post will show how immigration is great for US business, but it’s bad for everyone else in the country. That includes everyone who doesn’t run a business, all of you, “What’s good for my boss is good for” worker-fools.
James Schipper has been laying out some excellent reasons in the comments threads about why immigration does not appear to make much sense for economics or society as a whole. In fact, mass immigration seems to be detrimental to your average person. His arguments seemed logical, but I had hardly heard them before.
But then I wondered, if it’s so obvious that mass immigration is bad for society and even for average income, why would business and the elites support it?
Turns out that business has no interest at all in the average income of workers. In the Third World, they are perfectly content to have millions starving or living in the streets every year, as in India. Or to have 90% of the population in poverty as Guatemala was for years and Haiti is now.
As long as the rich stay rich and business stays profitable, they don’t really give a flying fuck about anyone else and whether they are in poverty or not.
In Haiti, the elite has a monopoly on food sales, which they mostly import and mark up at very high rates. Since the poor have to eat or starve, they have no choice but to pay the high prices. So even a 90% poor country can still generate high profits for business. Fewer poor people would mean rising wages or more of returns going to wages than to owners. Of course, business always opposes rising wages and increased shares to workers.
Let’s let James show us just how supporting mass immigration is logical for businessmen:

The reason why the business community tends to support immigration is that more immigrants means more workers, more customers and more real estate users.
The essential question is not whether immigrants work for less than natives but whether the presence of immigrants makes labor cheaper than it otherwise would be.
I think that mass immigration has a depressing effect on wages, or else its prevents wages from rising as fast as they would rise without immigration. Lower wages do not necessarily translate into fatter profits because, by lowering production costs, immigration may lead to lower prices.
Slavery also lowered production costs, so the ultimate beneficiaries of slavery may have been the consumers of goods produced with slave labor.
More immigrants likely means that there will be economic growth, and that can mean increased sales. What matters to business is not per capita sales but total sales. Let’s illustrate this. We have a town with 500 people and a restaurant. Let’s assume that on average each town resident consumes 6 restaurant meals per month, so the restaurant sells 3000 meals per month.
Now 200 immigrants enter the town. They lower average income, so that each town resident now consumes 5 meals instead of 6. The restaurant still benefits from the population increase because it now can sell 3500 meals per month instead of 3000. if you are in the business of selling widgets, you are better-off selling 1200 widgets to 150 people than 1000 widgets to 100 people.
Suppose that no immigrants had entered the US in the last 50 years, would average real estate prices be as high today as they are? I doubt it. The more people you put in a given space, the more property is likely to be worth in that space. Immigrants have to live somewhere. Since business owns a lot of real estate, they benefit from population growth.
For business, the important thing is usually total economic growth, not per capita economic growth, let alone per capita consumption. For ordinary people, the important thing is per capita income growth and its distribution.
Let me illustrate demographic investment once more. We have a country with 400,000 high school students and there are 400 high schools. Schools last 100 years, so each year the country has to build 4 schools. Let’s assume that a school costs 50 million dollars. That means 200 million in building costs per year.
In addition, the country spends 5,000 per year on each student. Adding the building costs to that amount, the cost of each high school student is 5,500 per year if the student population remains the same.
Now we make the assumption that the student population increases by 4000 each year. Since there are 1000 students per school, the country has to build 4 more schools to accommodate the new arrivals. Instead of building 4 schools, the country now has to build 8.
In the first year after the growth in the student population, the costs per student are (404,000 x 5,000) + 8 x 50 million = 2,420,000,000/404,000 = 5,990. In other words, the cost per student has increased from 5,500 to 5,990.
The increment of 490 can’t be used for consumption. That is the effect of demographic investments. It reduces consumption. Education is an investment.
The establishment can also believe in a lot nonsense. Many members of the elite may believe in immigration because it makes them look cosmopolitan, tolerant and sophisticated, so unlike the unwashed who don’t like immigrants because they are unenlightened and bigoted. It is a coalition of plutocrats and political correcties that keep the flow of immigrants going in Canada and the US.

Multiculturalism and Socialism: The Odd Couple

Repost from the old site.
In the comments section, Scott, who is a White nationalist, discusses the disconnect between multiculturalism and socialism or social democracy.
Yes, we do allow White nationalists, even anti-Black ones, on the board, but every time a cute Black woman shows up on the board, we force them to kiss her. On the lips. On penalty of banning. None have left yet. Brown sugar, how come you taste so good?
Scott says:

Look at the countries that have the highest index of egalitarianism in the West: Iceland, Norway, Sweden (used to have more). The inhabitants are all pretty closely related to one another. I’ll spot my sibling $100 cash. 
It’s basically the same thing but in a less dramatic way in such countries, but when other nationalities come in because of the aforementioned ethnostates’ welfare system, as seek to take advantage of it, the whole system gets messed up. Find me an ethnically diverse country with a social democracy.

I respond:
Scott is right. Does the UK count as a multicultural country? If it does, it’s growing a nasty White racist – fascist party of reaction to the diversity in the BNP.
Does Venezuela count? If Venezuela counts, I would say that Venezuela is a country riven with violence, tension and class war. There seems to be a racial angle, but in the upper class and upper middle class, it’s really more about class than race. Nevertheless, it’s clear that the oligarchy is much more light-skinned than the Underclass that supports Chavez.
Is multicultural Russia a social democracy? Maybe so, but it’s riven from one end to the other with horrible racism.
Do Communist states like China and Cuba count? Maybe so, but those countries, probably due to the class warfare (in the case of both) and combined class/race warfare (in the case of Cuba) inherent in their societies, needed full, bloody Communist revolutions to institute any kind of socialist system.
Vietnam and Laos are multiethnic countries, but the Lao and the Vietnamese are the overwhelming majority. They also needed Communist revolutions to put in socialism.
I would say Sri Lanka. They have a pretty good social democracy there, and the ruling party is a member of the Socialist International. There’s also a horribly vicious civil war going on, because that “socialist” party in power has never done much to help the Tamils.
Socialist parties in Chile, Argentina and Brazil haven’t been able to get much done. In Chile and Argentina the problem is probably much more class than race. In Brazil, surely it’s both race and class together. The socialists in Ecuador and Bolivia are trying to get something done, but Bolivia is riven with a horrific class/race division and it’s almost civil war there.
I don’t think that the socialist parties in Nicaragua and Guatemala will be able to get much done. Both nations had Leftist revolutions for decades, in the case of Nicaragua followed by a revolutionary government and more civil war, this time counterrevolutionary. Nicaragua was always more about class than race, but the oligarchy is light-skinned. In Guatemala, the situation is very much about both class and race riven together.
One thing becomes clear in this analysis.
The only way to peacefully vote in a socialist or social democratic government is to have a relatively homogeneous society. Typically a White society. As diversity and multiculturalism increases, even in White European countries, White racist/fascist groups rise up for various reasons and racial violence against minorities becomes common.
In multiethnic or deeply class-riven nations (Note how often the two are conflated!), socialism, social democracy or movements towards them is typically accompanied by either outright civil war, de facto civil war, tremendous open class war in terms of coups, attempted coups, lockout strikes, riots, imperialist interventions, class-based separatist movements, and much violence.
In other places, socialist governments are not able to get much done due to deep class and race-based conflicts and the threat of violence from dominant ethnics and/or classes.
In other places, long civil wars eventually installed Communist regimes in multiethnic countries and ethnic conflict subsided or stopped. Short of installing a Communist regime, multiethnic countries moving towards socialism are likely to experience a lot of internal violence and chaos.
If diversity is so bad for socialism, why do socialists in the West keep pushing it?
Good question.

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.

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?

The New York Lies, the Nation’s Liespaper of Record, Bashes Chavez with the Crime Stick Again

This article is a crock of lies. Just the US capitalist dogs, lying like they always do. This time they have the Venezuelan capitalist worms as a backup chorus.

First of all, crime is pretty much the same as pre-Chavez. Only homicide has gone up. And there are several nations in the Americas, all strong allies of the US, that have homicide rates as high as Venezuela’s. Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala…

Caribbean? Africa? Let’s not go there.

There is tons of crime in Latin America, and tons of homicide. Been that way forever, or at least for my lifetime.

What has increased under Chavez is not crime overall, but homicide. No one knows why, but the drug trade is usually suggested as the major culprit. Due to regional conditions, the drug trade has expanded into Venezuela a great deal under Chavez.

Nations with wild crime statistics are almost always Washington allies. Hence, Simon Romero and his rag, the New York Lies, never discuss that. I’ve never heard the US press blame a high crime rate on an existing government in my life.

Until Hugo Chavez showed up.

Chavez has the misfortune of being a leftwinger in a nation that is undergoing a crime wave, so the US media has decided, for the first time ever, to blame a government for crime.

The New York Lies bashes the government for not closing the gap between the rich and the poor. Yet the NYL is dedicated towards an agenda around the world to expand the rich-poor gap. Any nation that tries to reduce it gets pounded incessantly by the rats at the Lies. Chavez has made this the raison d etre of his government since he got in. This is the whole reason for the Lies‘ propaganda war against him.

The article mentions that Venezuela is experiencing an economic downturn in the past couple of years. It’s true, after years of explosive growth under Chavez. Last time I checked, the economies of most of the world were underwater, right? All because of the NY Lies’ buddies on Wall Street, who blew up the world economy. Ever hear the NY Lies blame any other country for the local effects of the downturn? Course not. It’s not their fault. But when the global Depression hits Venezuela, it’s all Chavez’ fault.

The article mentions inflation in Venezuela, said to be the highest in the region. Venezuela has had high inflation for decades. It was actually much higher when the opposition was in office. It’s dropped quite a bit under Chavez.

All of the opposition clowns quoted in the piece are well-known opposition losers and jokers. Nearly every thing they say is dishonest on some level.

Contrary to the piece, Venezuela has had a horrendous crime rate for decades, as far back as anyone can remember. The rich don’t even care about crime, and they never did in the past, because almost all of the crime and homicide is in the horrible slums that Chavez is trying to get rid of.

Chavez did not cause the murder rate to go up, and out of control crime rates are not so easy to solve. Ask governments in parts of the world where crime has been terrible for decades whether it’s their fault and what they can do about it. It’s not their fault, and no one knows how to fix it.

Really, it’s just the poor massacring each other, so the rich don’t even care. This is just another club to beat Chavez with.

Chavez has been trying to deal with the problem. He’s hired a lot more cops, and he is retraining a lot of the police force. He also boosted their wages significantly.

One major problem is that the police and the criminals are all too often the same folks. So no one trust the cops, and the cops commit tons of crime themselves. In part, this is why crimes are not solved. People don’t cooperate with the cops.

Oh, and about that figure: 90% of homicides are not solved. Terrible, huh? No wait. Let’s go next door to Colombia. It’s 98% there! But the New York Lies won’t tell us this, because the Colombian fascist regime is best buddies with the US state and editorial board of the Lies.

The opposition has no plan, repeat no plan, to deal with crime. Crime was insane and out of control the whole time the opposition was in office, and they were never able to get a handle on it.

The main agenda of the opposition is to stop closing the gap between the rich and poor and to start widening it again, zero out all the social spending, and start reshifting income from the bottom to the top again, the way it was in Venezuela from 1823-1989. Impoverish the working people to enrich the wealthy. Declare war on labor (the working people). Great agenda. Ought to do wonders for that crime rate.

Wink.

It’s also a lie that Chavez has not reduced the rich-poor gap. He’s done a better job of it than nearly anyone else in Latin America. The poverty rate was near 80% when he got in. Now it’s 23%. Solidarity!

What will the opposition liars scum do about the rich-poor gap they bash Chavez with? Nothing. No wait, a lot. They will make it much worse. The NY Lies forgot to tell you that.

I will add that the government’s attempts at censorship are lamentable though.

Typical White American: Ronald Reagan

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irCp9kiLHuI]

Ronald Reagan, more than anything else, is not so much America as he is White America. And he’s not so much bourgeois America as he is White America.

Vast numbers of working class Whites voted for Reagan in 1980, so many that we had to invent a new word, Reagan Democrats. Almost no Blacks, even bourgeois Blacks, voted for Reagan. The number is only 10% or so. Few Hispanics, even bourgeois Hispanics, voted for Reagan. He only got the support of 30% of Hispanics. Not even Asians voted for him.

Ronald Reagan represents White America, from the 1950’s to the present day, from working class to ruling class. He’s their boy; he’s our boy. In the 1950’s, he worked hand in hand with Joe McCarthy’s fascist goons. As governor of California, he threatened campus protestors and cheered on the idiot Vietnam War.

As President, he committed, said and did one evil act and statement after another. “Trees cause smog.” The fawning media gave him a pass the whole time, never calling him on anything.

In the name of fighting welfare leeches, he ranted about welfare queens driving Cadillacs, while his administration threw thousands of dying cancer patients off disability after condemning them as leeches who refused to work.

Through it all, Shithead White America, from poor to billionaires, could not stop cheering long enough to sit down. He funded death squads in Central America. He cheered on the mass murderers in Guatemala in 1982 while they slaughtered 20,000 people. He started up the Contras, who spent most of their time invading schools, medical clinics and collective farms and massacring all the “Communist” teachers, aides, doctors, nurses and farmers that they found there. Some freedom fighters.

The media, across the board, loved Reagan. Criticism in the press was nearly nonexistent. In White California, critics of Reagan were ostracized as losers and Commies.

The fanatical and irrational hatred of Communism and by extension socialism, the love of the rich and hatred of the poor and working classes, the racism, the contempt and raging hatred for the environment, the insipid and lunatic Christian fundamentalism, the fear of and and contempt for “European” and urban modernity in all its forms, the idiotic love of guns, the seething hatred of unions (even by working class Whites), Ronald Reagan was simply White America personified.

If you go anywhere in White California and say two words against Ronald Reagan, you’re risking a fistfight. He’s revered there as a God to this day. In a poll of Shitheads (Americans), Reagan recently got a 53% approval rating. This is  almost all coming from Whites. The Republican Party, since 1988, is the Party of Reagan. They feel no need to take that banner down. And why not, it’s a winner with the idiots.

When he left office in 1988, the entire Democratic side of the isle stood up and cheered. Even the furthest left of all, Teddy Kennedy, gave a raving speech that sounded like an elegy to the Pope himself. When I read that, I had to pinch myself to remind me that Kennedy was really a Democrat.

I’m lately reading essays about America written in the 1970’s. Some about the general idiocy of the culture, others about the Christian Right types. What’s so depressing about these essays is that they could have been written today. The culture hasn’t changed one bit, (if anything it seems much, much worse) and the fundie fanatics screaming about textbooks in West Virginia in 1975 are simply the Tea Parties, or really, the Republican Party itself.

That we haven’t budged an inch in 35 years implies that America is terminal. We can’t seem to get rid of the essential shitheadedness that is sadly part of character for time immemorial.

I can’t help thinking that we are doomed.

New Guerrilla Group in Paraguay – EPP (Paraguayan People’s Army)

Fascinating news.

A new guerrilla group has popped up in Paraguay in the past couple of years, and it’s now starting to make news in the worldwide media after ambushing and killing 4 people in the Concepcion Region of the Northeast on April 20, 2010. Reports are confused. First reports said that 1 cop and three workers were killed, but later reports say that 4 cops were killed in an ambush.

The group has deep roots in the landless peasants in the severely impoverished northeast, where there are frequent conflicts between landless peasants and large landowners, with the landowners regularly hiring death squads to kill peasants.

The same thing goes on in Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia (most notoriously) and Honduras. Other death squads continue to operate in Mexico, Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala, Bolivia and Peru. In Ecuador, they exist, but mostly just issue threats. As you can see, rightwing death squads that target the Left are a fixture of Latin American society.

In Mexico, Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala, Brazil, Venezuela, Honduras and Bolivia, the Left is more or less unarmed. In Peru and Colombia, the Left is armed and fights back. There are also very small guerrilla movements in Mexico. There is an armed Left in Ecuador, but they don’t seem to do much. I assume that if they repression continues as it is in Honduras, the Left is going to take up arms again. As it is, there is about one killing a day occurring since the US-sponsored coup.

Usually the killing continues for a while until the Left has enough, gets tired of waiting around for the government to come out and kill you, and decides to take up arms so the next time the state comes out to kill you, you can at least fight back. This is generally how what the US calls “Leftist terrorist groups” get their start – in self-defense.

In late December 2008, the EPP raided a military post in Concepcion Province, stole some weapons and set the post on fire.

Around 10 people were arrested early this year in Concepcion on charges of kidnapping a wealthy rancher and holding him for 94 days until he was released on $550,000 ransom.

The area of Concepcion where the guerrillas are operating is mostly thick jungle on the border with Brazil. The group wears camouflage uniforms, carries modern weapons and includes female fighters. The group is said to have about 60 members, meaning they are very small. The Paraguayan government says that they were trained by the Colombian FARC, which I find plausible.

This appears to be the same group that broke off from the leftwing Free Motherland Party (PPL). They were involved in the kidnapping and death of Ceclia Cubas, the daughter of a the daughter of a former Paraguayan president (1998/1999).

The group actually seems to have emerged in the past couple of years, though it’s been around for about 18 years. The group emerged in 1992 when some trainee priests were thrown out of the seminary for their radical views. They formed a group called the Movimiento Monseñor Romero, probably named after the Salvadoran bishop murdered with the help of the US in El Salvador in 1980.

The group’s aim was to build a with the aim of plotting a socialist revolution. The group’s heroes are Che Guevara, Regis Debray (founder of the foco guerrilla model) and Paraguayan national hero Mariscal Francisco Solano Lopez.

I would assume, since it was founded by priests, that Camilo Torres of 1965 Colombia, the original “priest with a machine gun” would also be a model. Torres was founder of the Colombian rebel group the ELN (National Liberation Army). The ELN is still very much alive despite what the media tells you, though they’ve been hit hard by President Uribe’s offensive. Their base in the far east by the Venezuelan border. Idiotically, the FARC attacks them for unknown reasons.

The Leftist President or Paraguay, Fernando Lugo, himself a former radical bishop, has declared a state of emergency in Concepcion, San Pedro and three other northern provinces after the latest attack and has sworn to wipe them out. We will see what happens next.

Cuba Versus the Rest of the Region

Good article.

I should point out that death squads are back in El Salvador. They are not killing many, but they are killing a few.

And they are back in a big way in Honduras ever since the US-sponsored and promoted coup that removed the democratically elected President for the crime of raising the minimum wage. Death squads are killing people just about every day in Honduras lately. I wonder how much longer this can last before the Left takes up guns again.

And Haiti has always been run by death squads. After the US-sponsored coup which removed President Aristide (US mercenaries and Marines appeared at his mansion and ordered him to leave the country), death squads have rampaged through Haiti. At least 3,000 people have been killed. Those targeted were the supporters of Aristide. The US supports the death squads in Haiti and Honduras to the hilt, and probably supports them in Guatemala and El Salvador too (they always did in the past).

On this question, Obama is no socialist or Communist. He’s just another far rightwing US imperialist running interference for the reactionary cliques down South. There’s barely any light between Obama and Bush on Latin American policy. Democrats or Republicans, it’s always the Monroe Doctrine down there.

Anti-Communists like to say that no one ever flees to a Communist regime, but the eastern part of Cuba is full of Haitians and Jamaicans who have fled their countries. Cuba took them in, and they like it a Hell of a lot better in Cuba. Everything is relative, you know.

More On Hugo Chavez and the Media

A commenter refers to this Guardian post on “Hugo Chavez the dictator.”

That article is a lie. The law that passed made the stations fill out a bunch of paperwork so they could be monitored better. Just routine bureaucratic stuff. Those opposition stations deliberately refused to fill out that paperwork, knowing full well that they would get shut down. They basically shut themselves down on purpose in order to make Chavez look like a dictator. I believe that most of those stations have been reinstated after they filled out their paperwork.

The “yanking the advertisements off the air” is not true. The law limits the stations to one ad break per 30 minutes. I’m not sure what the purpose of that is, but it applies to all stations, pro-government, anti- and neutral.

The part about “forcing them to carry Chavez speeches” isn’t really true. They do want all of the media to have to carry important government announcements. During the coup, for instance, the government was constantly sending out announcements regarding this or that, mostly in opposition to the coup. The Opposition media completely blocked out all government statements and showed soaps and sports nonstop instead. No one could figure out what was going on because the Opposition had all the media.

So, yeah, they have to carry some government statements, but not that many. If you think about it, every time Obama gives a speech, all the US stations are all over it, right? Including Fox? But down there, they just lock out all government statements like they don’t exist. That doesn’t seem fair or right.

The law that the MSM is complaining about so much is a pretty reasonable media responsibility law, similar to that in many countries. I believe it is almost identical to the law in Canada, for instance.

The draft law the piece referred to is troubling, but Chavez himself opposed it. It was the Chavista legislature that proposed that. The Attorney General’s statement was also disturbing, but the law never got passed anyway. You know, some dictatorship, the Chavistas can’t even pass their own laws!

I don’t agree with a lot of the government’s hard line on the media, and at times, I wish they would just blow the Opposition media off. I know they’re assholes, but so what? Let the dogs bark.

Globovision is still on the air 7 months after that article was written, but I think they are moving to cable.

On the regular airwaves, 25% of the stations are pro-government, 20% are Opposition, and 55% are neutral. The neutral ones carry both pro- and anti-Chavez people, often in equal numbers, and they have some of the most ferocious anti-Chavez folks as regular guests.

The article is not correct that Venezuela is the worst in the Hemisphere. In Colombia, they just murder the Opposition media, so it frankly barely even exists. In Peru, there is a law called “apology for terrorism.” It’s used pretty broadly.

In Colombia, Peru, Chile, Panama, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, there is no opposition media that I’m aware of. The elite has almost the entire media spectrum. I’m not sure of the situation in Mexico, Ecuador, Paraguay, Bolivia and Uruguay, but the elite seems to have most to all of the media in those places too. There is a Left media in Argentina, but it’s one daily paper. There is probably some Left media in Brazil, mostly newspapers. In Argentina and Brazil, the elite control TV. There is opposition media in Nicaragua from the Sandinistas.

So really, Venezuela is probably one of the few places in the Hemisphere, along with Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador, where there is a ferocious and vibrant Opposition media at all. Keep in mind that the elite control the media in Latin America. They almost always control the state too, so in essence there’s never any opposition media in Latin America, except when a leftwing, anti-elite government comes in. Then the entire media spectrum of the nation lines up against the state. So the strange truth is that Venezuela has one of the loudest, most belligerent, most vibrant and most powerful opposition medias in the region.

Some dictatorship.

What Chavez is trying to do is to get away from the elite media model towards community radio and TV. He has been giving out licenses by the handful for community radio and TV stations. It’s true that most of these smaller stations support him, since most communities support him, but community stations in anti-Chavez regions have anti-Chavez community media. Even the Chavez-supporting community media is often extremely critical of the regime, when they feel that they are screwing up. Someone needs to keep the government on its toes.

What he’s doing is democratizing the media space, moving away from the typical model in capitalism where an elite, say the top 1% of the population, owns nearly the entire media spectrum, print and non-print. A better model is a democratic media.

The “mounting economic problems” in Venezuela are due to the worldwide recession or depression that the US elite set off with their financial machinations and fraud. Venezuela is experiencing the same thing that everyone else is, it’s not Chavez’ fault. During Chavez’ term, the economy has grown like gangbusters.

The commenter also refers to this article to claim that “Hugo Chavez is a dictator.” This was the defeat of the proposed Constitution rewrite. There were good and bad aspects of it. The bit about censoring the media in a national emergency was an attempt to make sure the situation that occurred during the coup would not recur. I supported his bid to run for life. If Venezuelans want to keep re-electing him over and over, let them. That sounds like democracy to me.

I think the bit about seizing private property was for economic sabotage. A lot of the capitalist food producers are engaging in economic sabotage to try to bring down the regime, and it’s hard to figure out how to deal with them!

The inflation is occurring, or was occurring in 2007 at the time the article was written, due to an overheated economy that is growing too fast. You know, the same guy who is ruining the economy is also presiding over an economy that is growing so wildly it is getting inflationary? The “student opposition” is like the “student opposition to FARC” in Colombia. Rightwing students from moneyed classes are rallying at their expensive private universities. Yeah, some “student movement.” Just like the 60’s, huh?

The main thing is that Chavez’ constitutional reform was defeated. How is that a dictator puts his laws up for vote and the people vote them down? What kind of dictatorship is that? A lot of Chavistas voted against that law, and I don’t blame them.

I admit that Chavez bothers me at times with his polarizing rhetoric and bombastic blathering. The guy’s a demagogue, let’s face it. But so is Castro, so was Daniel Ortega, so was Juan Peron. Latin Americans love their caudillos and their demagogues.

Nepal’s Former Ambassador to U.S.: What About a Military Takeover?

This is a very interesting article written by Nepal’s Ambassador to the US. What he’s doing here is throwing out a trial balloon of a rightwing military coup in Nepal to overthrow the civilian government, followed by the inevitable death squad terror that always follows in such cases. Note that towards the end he mentions Pinochet, Suharto and Chung Park Hee. All ran far rightwing anti-Communist military dictatorships, all three came to power via military coups at a time of a threat or reality of a Communist or Leftist takeover of the article.

This is what capitalism always does, and in a way, the Leninists have a point, which is that the capitalists never allow any substantial challenge to their power to come about legally. If it does or even threatens to, there’s usually a military overthrow of the state followed by years of death squad terror aimed at decimating the Left for decades to come. It happened in Haiti, Chile, El Salvador, Uruguay, Guatemala, Argentina, Peru and Indonesia. They tried it in Venezuela recently.

You can forget about the parts towards the end where he talks about how a fascist coup followed by a death squad regime is the only way to eradicate poverty and bring about prosperity and opportunities. Those are the last things this guy wants, and these rightwing coups never bring about any of that. Fact is, they’re designed to prevent just those sorts of things.

The coup would need the support of both the US and India. I’m sure it would be forthcoming from both places.

What happened in Nepal is that there was a negotiated settlement to the Civil War there. As part of the settlement, there were elections which the Maoists won with 40% of the vote, forming the biggest voting blog in Parliament. They then proceeded to carry out Constitutional reforms to move from a monarchy to a civilian state. Part of the settlement was to be the integration of the Maoist army with the Nepalese military, but the top general refused to do that. The Maoist President then fired him on grounds of insubordination, but then he refused to step down.

It would be as if the Head of the US Joint Chiefs refused to obey the Commander in Chief, then refused to step down when the President fired him. It was for all intents and purposes a military coup. It seems that India was involved up to their mitts in this. Then the Maoist President simply resigned, as the rule of civilian control of the state was being violated.

As you can see below, the Ambassador chides the whole notion of “civilian rule.” Apparently he thinks it’s a bad idea. Since then, I’m not sure what’s been going on on the ground in Nepal, except the Maoists have been involved in a lot of protests up and down the country, and yes, they have recently declared a few new states.

All in all, this is a pretty ominous proposal the Ambassador is tossing out there.

The original appeared here. La Republica is apparently the voice of the rightwing and business community in Nepal, best as I can tell.

Getting Out Of The Quagmire

by Sukhdev Shah

(Shah is Nepal’s ambassador to the U.S. He worked for the International Monetary Fund for two decades and is a U.S. citizen.)

As things have evolved over the past three years, Nepal has become a fertile ground for a military takeover of the government, independently or under the shadow of a constitutional authority.

Such a possibility has been talked about in a limited circle but been forced open by a delegation of some Nepali Congress (NC) leaders who recently urged President Ram Baran Yadav to consider imposing President’s Rule to help restore peace and enable the Constituent Assembly (CA) to complete writing the constitution before the expiry of deadline in five months. This is not an incredible or inappropriate suggestion, considering the marathon obstructions staged by Maoists to prevent the CA to open for business and carry out its mandate.

Even after losing the control of government in May this year over the enigmatic issue of civilian supremacy, Maoists have not softened their stance on the president’s action that re-instated the ex-army chief after his firing by the then Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal. In order to further press on this issue, Maoists have announced formation of autonomous states in several parts of the country in defiance of the wishes of government, which also seems to challenge the constitution- making authority of CA.

By doing so – unilaterally deciding to divide up the country into ethnic enclaves – Maoists have started the process of a slow dissolution of the State which they eventually would turn into an all-powerful proletarian dictatorship, making the country a one-party State. This particular perception of Maoists’ ultimate objective and long-term planning is not based on fancy or conjecture but comes straight out of their public declarations that claim the virtues of `fusion’ of ideologies and role of peoples’ war – jana yudhha – as means to capturing the State power.

The Maoist strategy of declaring autonomous states is probably the shrewdest means adopted until now to undercut the legitimacy of Maoist-version of a bourgeoisie State and assert people’s power under its own leadership. And this strategy would be highly appealing for the grassroots, who have had no great admiration for all-powerful Kathmandu-based governments doing the dictates of generations of family dynasties and self-serving corrupt politicians.

With the promises of self-rule allowed to ethnic majorities under the autonomous state system, ordinary people can see the benefits of localization of government authority, with a chance of liberating themselves from the tyrannies of centrist authoritarian rule.

Facing the challenge

Needless to say, government is at a loss on how to face up to the Maoist new challenge. The easiest course of action will be to ignore it – let them disrupt house-sitting, demonstrate on the street, put-up road blocks, spread anarchy, and declare more autonomous states, which can be viewed as no more than a symbolic defiance. However, by ignoring such threats to its authority, the government in power is unlikely to generate confidence and win sympathies, or hope that current impasse is going to end quietly and uneventfully.

If Maoists continue with its present strategy of making the central government look irrelevant, indifferent, and detached from the basic functions of the State, there will be no need for them to make a forceful entry into the capital to capture power. This will come to them naturally and effortlessly – from the growing irrelevance of government at the center, aided by gradual shift of state functions to regional, autonomous states.

There should be nothing wrong with the slow dissolution and eventual disappearance of the traditional State and its replacement by a grassroots entity that is built-up from grounds up. Indeed, by forcing the dissolution of the State, Maoists would be making a bloodless coup, which would be entirely legitimate in an environment of deepening conflict, lack of direction, heightened uncertainty, and loss of control over critical government functions.

There is not much that the Maoist-less current coalition government can do to stop or even slowdown the country moving in this direction except if it chooses to force-stop the process by making a last-ditch effort and take one extreme measure, similar to the one advocated by NC leaders noted above – presidential rule backed by the army.

Given the limited options the current government has in outsmarting the Maoists, it may be attracted to do just that and the army would, most likely, choose to go along. The army’s willingness to comply with such an option can be argued in two ways, the first being that it never got to use its full force to suppress Maoist rebels during their decade-old insurgency.

Reportedly, the army was held back by palace orders, which had to come to think of Maoist challenge more as a counter to political parties than a threat to itself. Second, by making civilian supremacy a battle-cry, Maoists, once in power, will seek a quick dissolution of the army, which they view as the last hurdle on the road to complete victory.

Maoists have been in sort of an undeclared war with the army for sometime now but it is becoming increasingly certain that the army will not just sit back and surrender. Rather, it may be getting ready for a showdown and final war with the Maoists – an opportunity it was looking for during king’s regime but was repeatedly denied. Army’s willingness to face up to the Maoists will be strengthened if its actions are given the legitimacy of enforcing presidential rule, which is allowed under the constitution.

A discouraging outlook

There are many ways in which the current conflict can get resolved and the much-lauded peace effort moved towards its logical conclusion – which is to get an agreement on the constitution, hold broad-based election, and usher in an era of constitutional rule that upholds people’s sovereignty. However, the outlook for consensus building and restoration of normal conditions appear increasingly dim, even non-existent.

The main reason for pessimism is that communism generally, and Maoism in particular, is now a ground reality in the country, reflecting not as much the smartness of ideology Maoists have brought to bear upon the population but the utter incompetence, lack of vision, and unabashed dishonesty of the regimes that have governed Nepal for decades and centuries.

In particular, all of them have failed to create glue that binds people together, encourage them to pursue a common goal, and motivate them to work for a better future, for themselves and their children.

The Maoists have taken advantage of this vacuum by creating grassroots organizations to bring the people together, partly by the force of their ideology but mostly by aligning people against the hereditary and traditional interests.

Of course, the record of nine-month rule by Maoists has caused much disappointment and helped cool down enthusiasm for its long-term sustainability but they continue to remain in public consciousness as the last hope for people who consider themselves dispossessed and have not much to lose from serious anarchy and breakdown of the law and order. At least one half of the country’s population would fit this category who seem united backing up Maoists’ intention of winning over and destroying the bourgeoisie democracy.

Presidential rule or army takeover can eliminate some Maoists and subdue their backers but it will be incapable of winning the ideological war. At the same time, if the ideologically- hardened comrades in hundreds of thousands face up to the army onslaught and engage them in running battles, the situation can easily get out of hand and millions will flee to take shelter across the border in India.

It is difficult to predict how India will respond to the emergence of calamitous situation across its 800-kilometer open border with Nepal, but it is hard to think that it will do nothing. Most likely, it will commit itself actively to prevent the spread of violence, including the stationing of its own peace-keeping force to keep order. Of course, such a move will have unknown consequences for Nepal’s separate and independent existence.

There is little or nothing to take a bet on how the events are going to unfold over the coming months and years, but the present cat-and-mouse maneuverings by political parties and Maoists are likely to move the conflict to center-stage for a showdown. If this comes to pass, army will have a greater chance of claiming victory, provided that the conflict involves mostly the leadership on the top.

Another big uncertainty is if Nepal has the good fortune of some strongmen rising to the occasion – the likes of Korea’s Park Chung-Hee, Chile’s Pinochet, Indonesia’s Suharto – to take up the challenge of suppressing dissent and mobilizing the machinery of the State to focus on only one mission: Building a strong and prosperous nation.

With so many options tried over so many years to eradicate poverty and catch-up on the bandwagon of growth, opportunities and prosperity, this last option may just have a chance to succeed.

Bad Place to Visit, Wouldn't Want To Live There

Repost from the old site. This article has produced a tremendous amount of controversy, angry comments, and even, oddly enough, virulent hate mail. I guess I hit some raw nerves. I stand by my comments that these cities are some of the worst in the world, and, in doing further research on the Net, have found only further support for my thesis.
Some of these cities, such as Bogotá, for instance, have large wealthy districts that are apparently quite pleasant. If one is rich, one can make a nice life just about anywhere on the globe. But this is not important – what is important is how the majority live.
The title is a play on the line, “Nice place to visit, wouldn’t want to live there”, said about many less-than-desirable tourist locales. This post is about the worst places on Earth to visit, and probably to live too. The ratings were based on research done on the Internet in various places, including here and here.
I’m going to focus on the places that are dirty, smelly, crime-ridden, trashy, rip-off havens, unsanitary and dangerous (Third World), and avoid places that are merely depressing, unsightly, rude, etc. (First World). Why? Because I live in the US, and those Third World qualities are going to be the most disturbing to me. I’m also avoiding active war zones because everyone knows they are horrible.
To be fair to the “Third Worldists” out there, I noted that many people slammed various places in France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Finland, South Korea, Ireland Italy, the US, Great Britain and Australia for various reasons, mostly because they are said to be unfriendly, depressing, tacky, cheesy, boring, etc.
Detroit seemed to top the list as worst US city, along with Newark (though it had one fan), East St. Louis and New Haven (though some liked New Haven) were runners-up. Various small towns in the Rockies (especially Idaho) and Texas also were listed. For some reason, a lot of people hate Vancouver, BC in Canada.
To my thinking, many of the horrible cities below point out the catastrophe of Latin American, Indian, Indonesian and Philippine capitalism. In much of Africa, capitalism doesn’t seem to working very well.
For all its faults, impoverished Cuba certainly does not resemble any of these Latin American hellholes in any way, shape or form. I don’t think that capitalism in the First World is failing, but looking at many of the cities below, it’s hard to argue that capitalism is doing anything but failing in those places.
Some of the winners in the Loser Destination Contest:
Colon, Panama: A dirty, crime-ridden disaster of a city. The most dangerous city in Latin America, full of residents who seem like they would just as soon knife you as say hello. Other than the free trade zone, the entire city seems to be sprawling slum. Colon has no redeeming qualities. This city topped many worst lists.
Guayaquil and Quito, Ecuador: Guayaquil is horrible. A stinking, steaming, downright dangerous heap of a city with miles of slums. With armies of glowering gang members, this place is dangerous even in mid-day. There are garbage dumps everywhere with corpses laying out in plain sight and guns going off all the time. Quito is similar. Guayaquil topped many worst city lists.
Johannesburg, South Africa: How sad that this country now has one of the worst violent crime rates on Earth. Although popular with tourists, this city is downright dangerous. This city also topped many worst lists. This blog supports the Mandela government, but the problems of this tragic nation seem insurmountable.
*****
Lagos, Nigeria, or the whole country: This city, and even the whole country, seems to top everyone’s list. Garbage is everywhere, the city stinks, the poverty is horrible, animals are slaughtered on the streets, and it seems that at least half the population wakes up every morning thinking, “Who can I rip off today?” Up to 90% of the economy may be “underground”, off the books, or crime-related in some way or another.
Nigeria has what must be the worst government on Earth and the country is rated the second most corrupt on Earth. The national airlines are dangerous and not recommended. The ripoff attempts often start as soon as you land at the airport and won’t let up until you leave.
It’s best to assume that most, if not all, Nigerians you meet in Lagos are out to rip you off in some way or another and then proceed from there. The city is full of impostors, and you really do not know if anyone is really who they say they are. The police and Customs officials are all crooks and so is 99% of the government.
Most bank and post office employees are also crooked. Imagine waiting in line at the post office, and a group of swaggering gangsters with fake ID’s strut in to pick up their stolen goods reshipped from overseas. They go straight to the front of the line ahead of everyone else, pick up their stolen property, and walk away laughing, having paid off the Post Office clerks. Welcome to Nigeria.
There are Internet cafes all over the city, where 150,000 full-time Internet scammers ply their trade in plain view of anyone to see, and the government doesn’t bat an eye or lift one finger to stop them. In many cafes, 80% or more of the patrons are Internet scammers. Nigeria is now world-famous for Internet scams. Even out-of-work TV newscasters scam away in the cafes, trying to steal from Americans.
The scammers started out with the famous 419 email scams but have now branched out into lottery, romance, auction, roommate, orphanage and check-cashing scams. The scams are continuously evolving, and Nigerian con artists are widely acknowledged to be some of the best in the world, as they have been practicing the art for decades now.
On highways outside of Lagos, you can see numerous vehicles wrecked on the side of the road, or even in the middle of the road, some with dead bodies still in them or beside them. Thieves pick through the wreckage and rifle the corpses looking for stuff to steal. All of the roads are dangerous, as armed robbers often set up roadblocks to shake down travelers.
Nigeria is now a world center for counterfeit pharmaceuticals, credit card fraud and drug dealing, and a district of Lagos, Oluwole, is now a world center for top-notch forgery.
The FBI and the US Merchant Risk Council recently came to Nigeria and inspected 40 packages coming into the country from the US to check for stolen goods. 39 of the 40 packages contained stolen property.
When the agents arrived at a Lagos neighborhood and tried to arrest an 18-year-old boy for reshipping scams that targeted US merchants, much of the neighborhood – up to 100 people – rushed out of their homes to defend the local punk from Big Bad Whitey.
Although the country is awash in oil, the power goes out all the time because the government power company is so crooked. The power company has either stolen all of its own budget money or the power comes in, but the crooked company resells it on the side.
As with elsewhere in Africa, Whitey is blamed for all the troubles here. Hatred of Whitey is higher in Nigeria than in much of the rest of Black Africa and the White visitor will definitely feel it.
The degeneration of Nigerian society is complete, and the culture appears near collapse. Mobs lynch thieves in the street and kill them in public for as meager a crime as stealing a cellphone, yet crime rages on anyway. Anyone can just up and say they own your house, put it on the market and sell it and you are out a house. Law enforcement, courts and anything resembling government seem to be nonexistent.
******
******
Lima, Peru: When they tell you to visit Peru, they don’t mean the nightmarish capital. There are teeming slums as far as the eye can see, horrible crime (although not a lot of violent crime), pickpockets everywhere, and on top of all that, the sun never comes out. The fog mixes with the smog and the filthy streets to make a toxic brew. Lima made many worst lists.
But it has its fans, and the upscale Miraflores district is said to be nice. The execrable Shining Path took up their nihilistic, deranged war in this country for a reason – because Peru is a rotten heap of a country.
******
******
Medan (Sumatra), Jakarta, Surabaya, Indonesia: Jakarta is a reeking city with terrible pollution, open sewers and wrenching poverty.
Medan seemed to top many lists for worst city on Earth, though it has a few fans. It’s hot, dirty and polluted, with factories, thieves and leering, menacing men everywhere. There is also nowhere to stay, not that you would want to stay anyway. Besides Medan, the rest of Sumatra is much better.
The river running through Surabaya is so polluted you might vomit walking across the bridge. As you suppress your gag reflex, you will look down and notice that people are actually washing their clothes in this river.
*****
*****
Mumbai, Patna (Bihar), Calcutta, all large Indian cities, India: Indian cities are very dirty and teeming with some of the most miserably poor and wretched people you will ever see, but at least there is not a lot of crime. The Hindu religion keeps crime down because believers fear they will be punished by returning in the next life as something terrible, like one of the huge rats you see scurrying about.
Mumbai has pollution that is so bad that people actually get lung cancer from breathing the air. Mumbai, a stinking and sometimes dangerous city, made many worst city lists.
Patna is the sorry capital of Bihar, the poorest state in India. It’s dirty and miserable, and it’s almost impossible to even get a taxi to get you out of town, which means it’s hard to leave the place.
Calcutta is generally agreed to be one of the worst cities in India.
*****
Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shenyang, China: Deadly pollution, mostly from coal.
Bucharest, all of Romania: Stalinist pollution covers the whole country and everyone seems depressed.
Bali (in particular Kuta Beach), Indonesia: Hopes so high, reality so low. It seems everyone is out to rip you off. Surly locals hungry for money. Dangerous roads, nightmarish traffic, rude, leering men. When it rains, the sewers flood into the streets. Very high crime rate, hustlers everywhere. Most of the rest of Indonesia is pretty nice. Kuta is a tourist trap gone to Hell.
****
Manila, Philippines: A crime-ridden hellhole. There are armed guards everywhere, especially in front of banks due to constant bank robberies. Their nemeses, criminal gangs armed to the teeth, roam streets filled with prostitutes and transvestites.
It’s a town where everyone seems like they are out to rip you off in one way or other, and the hotel workers and cab drivers are all crooked. The latest advice is to have your Filipino friend meet you at the airport and head straight to their place, thereby avoiding all the ripoffs and con artists that seem to descend on every tourist. Traffic is horrible, and pollution is so bad it kills people. But some people don’t mind it.
****
Gdansk, Poland: Combine a high crime rate and daylight robberies with totally crooked, thieving officials, and you get this Polish city. However, a number of others said it’s just fine.
****
Mexico City, Villahermosa, Mexico: Mexico City is a dirty, polluted city suffering an insane, surreal epidemic of street crime, especially violent crime. Add 20 million people, stir well, bring to a boil, cover with a lid of otherworldly smog, and simmer.
Reportedly, tons of human waste are blown into the air every day, and much of the population has constant respiratory infections. The sewer system is reportedly above ground and more or less runs through lots of neighborhoods where many people are residing.
Villahermosa is a Mad Max-style, violent, crime-ridden disgrace of a city. There are stabbings and shootings galore here, even with a 10 PM curfew in place.
*****
Tangier, Morocco: This is a dangerous place with lots of street crime. That’s unusual for a North African country, but Tangier is so close to Europe that it is almost a part of Europe.
*****
Cairo, Egypt: Cairo has horrible pollution, smells terrible, there is trash everywhere, nothing works, there are armies of miserably poor people and it boasts some outrageously awful traffic. In the souks there are huge rats and wild, mangy scavenging dogs running about in plain sight. There seems no escape from aggressive, pestering hawkers. On top of all that, all the Customs officials are criminals.
The crime rate is fairly low, though. Thank President Hosni Mubarak. 25 years ago, Cairo was one of the great world cities.
*****
Bangkok, Thailand: This gigantic city has pollution so bad you need to wear a mask over your face. However, some folks like this city and say it has many positive attributes.
*****
Brindisi, Naples, Italy: No one seems to like Brindisi. It’s a sad, dirty, polluted and ugly city, with hostile, brawling, drunken locals, hungry stray dogs, belligerent drivers, horrible traffic, and miles of soul-killing tenements.
You would think that despite all of that, being genuine Italians, they could still manage to make a decent pizza. Forget it: even the pizza is terrible. Brindisi topped many worst lists, although it has a couple of fans.
I had never even heard of Brindisi and had to look it up on a map. It’s located in southern Italy on the East Coast, southeast of Naples. Naples has a great deal of crime, and many think this city is overrated as a tourist destination, although others say that, despite the drawbacks, it has its joys. All of southern Italy has a lot of crime, but it’s mostly property crime.
*****
*****
Athens, Piraeus, or the whole country, Greece: Greece, especially Athens, gets mixed reviews. A lot of people really hate Athens; others don’t. The detractors say the city is dirty, ugly, depressing, polluted, and covered with garbage and traffic. I was surprised that Athens made the list, as I had always thought it was a wonderful city.
The port city of Piraeus is a nasty place. The whole city smells like a giant sewage treatment plant, and the ocean offshore has a sickening color to it.
*****
****
Suburbs of Paris, France: These tragic towns, full of hostile Arab immigrants angrily refusing to assimilate to French culture or join French society, are a sign that the French model is not working well, at least for some folks.
There is a terribly high crime rate here, and cops and firemen often won’t go there because they get attacked as soon as they show up. These mournful towns are packed with angry, unemployed young Arab men who like to seriously riot every year or so, or even more often if the mood strikes them. Lately, they have been staging mini-riots every night. If only 100 cars are burned, that’s a good night.
Otherwise, Paris, of course, is one of the world’s great cities. But that doesn’t mean you might not walk into a subway station reeking of urine and see junkies shooting up in plain sight. But still, Paris is a must on any serious travelers’ list.
******
Brussels, Belgium: As with Paris, the districts with many Arab immigrants are quite dangerous and unpleasant, but the rest of the city is as nice as any big city.
Abidjan, Ivory Coast: With one of the worst crime rates in Africa (although it has plenty of competition), this city topped many worst lists.
*****
Bangui, Central African Republic: One of the worst cities in Africa, as bad as Lagos. The crime rate is totally insane. The locals will try to steal everything you own and even a contingent of armed guards will not be enough to protect you.
Your hotel room will feel like a war zone. This fiendish city made a number of worst city lists. Lonely Planet’s guidebook more or less tells you to avoid this city altogether. Here is a harrowing report of a visit to Bangui.
*****
Bamako, Mali: Mali has one of the worst governments in Africa, admittedly a race with a lot of competition. Bamako is a sick joke of a town, where the tourist surcharge is rigorously enforced, and the ridiculous, potholed streets are undriveable by any vehicle.
Guatemala City, Guatemala: A totally dangerous, dirty, polluted, terminal patient of a city, full of scary, heavily armed teenage soldiers. The soldiers are there to keep the teeming, crime-ridden slums that stretch as far as the eye can see, from overrunning the place. But this city has a few fans.
Belize City, Belize: This sweltering, miserable, impoverished, crime-ridden, very dangerous city is built on a swamp, with a jungle for a backyard. The beggars are aggressive and even menacing, and shady characters shadow you on the streets as you walk about. Cops are nowhere to be seen. This is one of the worst cities in the Americas. But the rest of the country is a great place to vacation.
*****
Sao Paolo, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Sao Paulo is the industrial engine of Brazil. This major city is full of garbage and very dangerous. There are hustlers as far as the eye can see, chaotic streets that render maps useless, not enough cops and Godawful traffic.
Rio de Janeiro, the popular tourist destination with the killer skyline perfect for any postcard, is a deceptive place. It’s a very dangerous city with lots of violent crime. Street gangs armed to the teeth regularly shoot it out in military-style wars with the cops.
Death squads of off-duty cops funded by local businessmen roam the streets at night, murdering homeless, drug-addicted street kids and petty criminals with impunity in a sickening “social cleanup” campaign.
There are pickpockets and muggers all about, often in menacing, youthful gangs (especially on the famous beach) and they frequently operate in broad daylight. A dystopian horrorshow of a city.
******
Nairobi, Kenya: Unfortunately, this city is seriously crime-ridden. Even locals admit that violent crime has reached catastrophic proportions.
Caracas, Barquisimeto, or the whole country, Venezuela: The crime is very bad here, sadly, and there is garbage everywhere you look. This blog supports Hugo Chavez, but crime in Venezuela is a tragic, long-standing problem with no quick fixes.
Guinea-Bissau: There is no water, no electricity, no place to stay, and the only hotel is half-demolished.
San‘a’, Yemen: In a Dickensenian touch, children are actually chained up here in order to beg!
Moynaq and Nukus, Uzbekistan: These two cities broiling in a merciless desert have been ruined and turned into ecological dead zones by Stalinist pollution.
*****
San Pedro Sulu, Honduras: This sad town has a horrible amount of crime. Swarms of locals will attack you on the bus, trying to steal your luggage. You will have to fight them off if you wish to retain your suitcase.
Like the rest of this wreck of a country, it’s full of US gang members gone home to Honduras. People here are very poor and desperate. If you can make it to the nice part of town and afford to stay there, though, you can be quite safe.
*****
*****
Dakar, Senegal: According to some, this large West African city has horrible street crime – it is very dangerous. They say if you don’t have armed guards with you, don’t even go outside your hotel room.
However, others report that they spent a week there and found it to be safe, in fact safer than many American cities. Violent crime is reportedly rare, and the country is one of the most stable in Africa, and has been that way since independence.
*****
Port Au Prince, Haiti: This filthy, degraded, extremely dangerous and desperately poor mess of a city is best avoided at all costs. It sports open sewers, enslaved children, riots, killings and lots of other fun things. This blog did support President Aristide’s efforts to improve the tragedy of a nation called Haiti.
Lome, Togo: Criminals are as common as mosquitoes here, walking around fearlessly in broad daylight in this terrible city full of miserable people and crooked taxi drivers.
*****
Istanbul, Turkey: The 200% tourist markup is fully in force in this dirty, ugly city full of harassing, hawking, hostile locals and crumbling buildings, and you can scarcely find a merchant who does not enforce it. There is also a lot of crime here, including some violent crime, unusual for a Muslim city. The weather is lousy, but there are some pretty mosques to visit. However, Istanbul does have a fan or two.
The rest of the country is a great place to visit, has many fans and is one of the world’s top tourist destinations. Best bet for Turkey is just to head to the tourist spots and blow off Istanbul altogether.
*****
Phnom Penh, Kampuchea: This city has become a very dangerous, crime-ridden place. The gangs of little girl prostitutes add a particularly poignant touch.
*****
Bogotá, Colombia or really the whole country: Bogotá is one of the most dangerous places in the Americas but there seems to be agreement that Colon, Lima and Guayaquil are worse. Really, all of Colombia is dangerous as Hell, to be honest.
This comment about Bogotá was recently rebutted by a Bogotán blogger, with more comments here. His post aggressively taking issue with this entry is in Spanish, but my Spanish is good enough to get the gist of it. Also I am getting a lot of comments coming in from Bogotáns on the Internet aggressively objecting to the content.
The sole issue that these Defenders of Bogotá are taking issue with is my contention that the city is a very dangerous place. To be honest, Bogotá used to have a truly horrible reputation for crime, but in recent years, there has been a huge effort put into cracking down on street crime. For some more agreement that Bogota is dangerous, see here, here, here and here.
I will now attempt to prove that. There are twice as many murders in Colombia as in the US, and the US has seven times as many people. That means that the murder rate in Colombia is an outrageous 14 times that of the US, and the US is considered to have a high murder rate for the developed world.
Colombia has the highest murder rate on Earth, with Washington, DC and Johannesburg not far behind, but in the case of Colombia, we are talking about a whole country, not some festering city. Out of every 100,000 people, 60-70 will be killed every year. Defenders may try to argue that this is due to a simmering civil war, but 75% of the 25,000 homicides are merely of the criminal variety.
On an average day in Colombia, there are 2 bank robberies, 8 highway robberies, 72 murders and 204 assaults or muggings. You have a greater chance of being murdered in Colombia than you do of dying of cancer! Death squads made up of soldiers and off-duty cops roam the streets, murdering drug-addicted, petty criminal street kids, transvestites, homosexuals and prostitutes.
In fact, probably more prostitutes and homosexuals are murdered per capita in Colombia than even in the most barbarian parts of the Muslim World. Want to fly a plane in Colombia? Don’t. There have been 138 plane crashes since World War 2, with 2,745 deaths.
One of the most popular things in Bogotá is scopolamine. This drug is used by crooks to disable their victims so they can rip them off. It is sprayed in the face, dumped in your drink or spiked into a cigarette. Bogotá hospitals receive an incredible 2,000 scopolamine victims every month, or an astounding 66 a day. The drug knocks you out and can cause medical problems.
Colombia has one of the world’s worst road systems. Many roads are not even marked. Drivers are reckless and many cars don’t have headlights at night. Cows have a tendency to wander into the road.
Taxis are totally dangerous and are best avoided, if possible. Women are advised to avoid all taxis at night. Anyone is advised to avoid any taxi that already has someone in it.
In many cases, this is a criminal accomplice of the thuggish driver. In addition to getting scopolamine sprayed in your face, another popular scam is the “jump-start”: you are told that the taxi has stalled and asked to get out and help push. As you do so, the taxi driver leaves with your luggage.
Buses are also best avoided. Thieves haunt the buses, waiting for you to fall asleep, at which point, they rip you off. Certain bus lines are frequented by thieves offering drugged gum, sweets, food and cigarettes. After the drug knocks you out, they rob you blind. In addition to theft and druggings, kidnapping and extortion are also rife on buses.
In view of all of the above, it is nothing short of amazing that all of these Colombians are angrily protesting my characterization of their country as dangerous. Or perhaps they doth protest too much?
*****
Managua, Nicaragua: This dirty, crime-ridden, dangerous disaster of a city has a bombed-out look about it. This blog supports Daniel Ortega and his Sandinista Party and prays that they can ameliorate this mess.
*****
San Salvador, El Salvador: See Managua. Full of dangerous former LA gang members. Death squads roam the streets, slaughtering gangsters by the dozen, but for every one you kill, it seems five more pop up in his place.
This blog supports the FMLN’s efforts to reform this ruined land, but the crime here has become so terrible, one wonders if anything short of an act of God could make things better. In fact, I used to make contributions too the FMLN’s weapons fund via an FMLN agent in Los Angeles during the 1980’s.
*****
*****
Detroit, New Haven, Newark, Gary (Indiana), Hammond (Indiana), USA: Detroit topped all lists as the worst city in the US. An ugly, dangerous, depressing and filthy city with a downtown that looks like a war zone – a despairing district surrounded by miles of crumbling, abandoned industrial buildings, torn-down fences and rusting cars.
Newark is similar, with few to no redeeming qualities. It’s a frightening, polluted city with a postwar look of miles of weedy, trash-strewn vacant lots where crumbling apartment buildings have been torn down. It’s also a dangerous city with a high crime rate.
New Haven, despite the presence of Yale University, is similar. There are legions of homeless, begging drug users clogging the streets, and the crime rate is very high due to hordes of crack-dealing gangs shooting it out on the streets. Congress and Columbus Avenues are notorious for drive-by shootings, drug dealing and muggings.
It is reportedly the HIV capital of the East Coast due to IV drug use. A lot of the more respectable people have been moving out for some time now. Although much of the city is quite ugly, New Haven does have its bright spots, thanks to Yale. There are nice parts of town, parks, trees, etc.
Gary is yet another postindustrial Rust Belt train wreck of a town. A grimy town full of abandoned factories, overgrown lots, rusting fences, graffiti, barred windows and vomit. Go downtown and see tall buildings all boarded up, with no vehicles in sight and unhinged stoplights swaying in the wind – for all practical purposes, a ghost town. This was once a vibrant, working-class city, and now it looks like Road Warrior.
Hammond is similar, a suicidally depressing city lined with shuttered factories on the shores of Lake Michigan. Yet another Rust Belt post-industrial ruin.
*****
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: A collapsing, dirty, crime-ridden hellhole.
Osaka, Japan: I never would have thought that this city would make the list but according to my friend Tumerica, she says it is the worst city she has ever lived in. I tagged her with the title of this story. In blogging, tagging mean you are supposed to write on the topic – kind of like, “Tag, you’re it.” I will let her explain why Osaka is such a crappy place in her post here.