Alt Left: Social Democracy Only Works in Homogeneous Societies Is Often but Not Completely True

RL:

The US and a handful of other countries are literally the only countries on this planet that regard social democracy with outrage and want nothing to do with it.

A commenter responds:

Mithridates: Yeah, I suspect much of this attitude stems from the ethnic divisions within the US that no one is ever allowed to talk about in any sort of frank or intellectually honest manner. Of course the Pluto/Mammon-worship inherent in the American mythos is a influential factor as well.

But let’s explore the first:

Basically, Ethnos A, the group responsible for most of the country’s productivity, is forced at gunpoint to redistribute a portion of their wealth to Ethnos B (and C in some regions), and a good portion of Ethnos B takes that money, pisses it away on all sorts of stupid instant gratification fuckery and doesn’t add much of anything to the country’s overall productivity; in fact, a sizable minority of Ethnos B behaves in public like zoo animals.

And then A’s gets called horrible bigots if they object to this, and especially if they object to being forced to live within shouting distance of B’s.

Most of the countries with working social democratic economic arrangements tend to have been ethnically homogeneous for most of the period when these systems were in place. And now these countries have tried the mass immigration experiment, and the same sort of shitty results is happening in those places that we here in the US have been experiencing for many decades now.

Natural Law says that humans are extra-clever social primates who are predisposed to be open to sharing among others they consider to be kin. There’s a certain other Ethnos I won’t mention by name or even a single-letter set of punctuation marks that exemplifies this principle very clearly.

Anyway, expecting all members of an Ethnos to consider the entire planet’s population of clever hominids to be a part of their kin group is quite an aberrant expectation; only weird ideologies can invert what to everyone else is a common sense understanding of Natural Law principles. And finally, loving one’s own kin does not necessarily mean hating other kin-groups.

Of course everyone has always known that this is the dirty little secret for Americans’ hostility to socialism. This is why all of the American White Nationalists are also hardline economic Rightists, Republicans and Libertarians despite this being bad for most Whites. Race trumps economics for a lot of folks. Whereas in Europe, most of the nationalist groups, even the White nationalists, are explicitly socialist.

You’d be pissed to, eh?

Actually I am fully aware of this argument, but I’m not pissed at all. For one thing, I have never been part of the wealthy White group, so Whites with money can go pound sand. They are my class enemies. I think in terms of economics. Screw race. Do the rich Whites want to help the poorer Whites? Of course not. So why should I support them. Also I know quite a few low-income Whites who use those redistributive programs that Whites hate so much.

On the other hand, I am not a typical White person. I am very hard to the Left; in fact, I am an out and out socialist.

Many countries have health care for all despite being ethnically diverse. However, in a lot of these countries, public health care and education is simply underfunded, so the dominant group, whoever they may be, simply goes to private hospitals and schools. India is an excellent example of this as is much of Latin America.

All of the Arab World has social democracy under the rubric of Islam, or in the case of Lebanon, ethnic peace, and Lebanon is unstable for ethnic/religious reasons. And some Arab countries with prominent religious of ethnic minorities are very unstable or at war.

All of North Africa has social democracy except Morocco, although minority Berbers are dealt with by denial of their existence and roping them into the main group, Arabs. Ethiopia has tremendous ethnic diversity and some religious diversity, but they have a good working socialist system. Eritrea is the same but the main divide there is religious rather than ethnic.

Zimbabwe has a good working system although it has many tribes. Argentina and formerly Bolivia and Ecuador has or had working social democracies, although all three countries had serious instabilities; in all cases the rich objecting to sharing with the poor and with a racial element in Bolivia. A number of countries in Latin America do have social democracies, but they don’t work very well because the rich don’t want to share with the poor.

In a number of those countries such as Peru, Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia, Haiti,and Mexico also have an ethnic element in that the dominant rich group tends to be Whiter or lighter-skinned though not usually White per who don’t want to share with the poorer, darker, folks who are more mixed with Indian and in some cases Blacks.

A number of countries in Latin America have homogeneous populations, but the rich still don’t want to share with the poor, so that doesn’t solve everything. And historically speaking, most nations were quite homogeneous, nevertheless the rich still shared just about fuck all with everyone else and needed an actual revolution to be convinced to do so.

Russia and China has very good working social democracies although they have many minorities, although China and to some extent Russia has some ethnic warfare. Ukraine has a good system despite minorities and ethnic warfare. Vietnam, Cambodia, Bhutan, and Laos have good systems despite having anywhere to a couple to many ethnic minorities. Malaysia has a working social democracy and it has a large ethnic divide. Japan has minorities with an excellent social democracy.

Most of the former Soviet republics probably still have working systems although most have large minority populations.Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Iran have social democracies and minority groups. However, in Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Iran are currently embroiled in ethnic separatist wars.

Most of the countries with non-working systems are not only rightwing but also quite poor. Hong Kong is an exception. The government is very rightwing, but there are not ethnic problems. It’s all one ethnic group, but the rich ones hate the poor ones, just as it was traditionally.

Some are just poor. Most of Africa has social democracy, but it often doesn’t work well due to poverty. To some extent this is true in Pakistan, Mongolia, Yemen, Moldova, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Burma, and Thailand. It is also true in Ecuador, Guatemala, most of the Caribbean, Chile, and Paraguay. In these places, social democracy doesn’t work more due to poverty than to diversity.

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Alt Left: “The Explosion in Lebanon Has Been Delayed: Until When?”, by Elijah J. Magnier

Very nice article that lays bare a lot of the bullshit surrounding the Lebanon protests. Of course they are being manipulated by the US and Saudi Arabia to turn them into anti-Hezbollah demonstrations with the aim of overthrowing the Hezbollah government.

Yes, you heard me right. The Lebanese government right now is controlled by Hezbollah and its allies. This has been the case since 2018 when they won the elections. Hezbollah has 55% and the anti-Hezbollah group consisting of Sunnis, Druze and half of the Christians has 35%. 10% are neutral.

So we have yet another case here of a minority trying to overthrow a majority as was recently done in Bolivia, Honduras, Brazil, Ecuador, Haiti, Paraguay, and Ukraine, and as the US is attempting to do in Venezuela and Nicaragua, with regime change operations in Dominica and probably Mexico coming soon. The Dominica operation is already well underway.

There has long been an attempted regime change operation in effect in Syria and there is an ongoing one in Yemen, Iraq, and Iran. There also appears to be a regime change operation in effect in Hong Kong. Of course, Cuba, North Korea, Zimbabwe, and Eritrea are victims of long term regime change operations. So is Venezuela for that matter – the operation against Venezuela has been ongoing for 17 years now. I don’t support those rightwing protestors at all.

Everywhere around the world, anti-US regimes are being overthrown with regime change operations, often coups of one variety or the next. The US simply does not believe in democracy at all. It only likes democracy if its favored groups win. If the groups it does not like are in power, the US will always try to overthrow them even if they have majority support. And we’ve been doing for over a century now.

The Explosion in Lebanon Has Been Delayed: Until When?

Europe is concerned about the Lebanese political crisis and its potential spillover consequences in case of a civil confrontation. Even if the European states do not have differing strategic objectives in Lebanon from the US, a civil war will affect Europe directly, as refugees will be flocking from the neighbouring continent. 

Reaching an agreement over a new government to prevent further unrest is proving difficult. Sources in Beirut believe it may take several months to form a new government as was the case in forming the last government. Some wonder if it might not be better to wait for the results of the US elections before forming a new government.

Or perhaps a new government will only emerge after a major security event, like the assassination of the late Prime Minister Rafic Hariri which triggered a political tsunami in the country. All indications on the ground point to the prospect of a civilian confrontation arising from the absence of a robust central government that can take in hand the security of the country. Can Lebanon avoid a civil confrontation?

The closure of the main roads and the “deliberate” incompetence and inaction of the security forces – due to US requests to tolerate the closure of main axes linking Lebanon with the capital – is no longer surprising behaviour.

The main roads now closed have been carefully selected: closed are the roads linking the south of Lebanon to Beirut and linking Baalbek and the road to Damascus with the capital Beirut. These areas are mainly inhabited and used by Shia. The roads are being blocked mainly in certain sectarian areas controlled by Sunni supporters of the caretaker Sunni Prime Minister Saad Hariri and his Druse ally Walid Joumblat.

The closure of other roads in the Christian-dominated Dbayeh by the pro-US Christian leader Samir Geagea, leader of the “Lebanese Forces”, and in Tripoli seem to be diversions of attention from the main goal: challenging Hezbollah.

Sources in Beirut believe the objective is to exasperate the Shia who represent the society that protects Hezbollah. The goal is to force the organisation into the streets. Hezbollah is aware of this and is trying to avoid responding to provocations. The closure of these roads is an invitation to Hezbollah to take the situation in hand and direct its weapons against other Lebanese citizens, as indeed happened on the 5th of May 2008.

In 2008, Druse minister Marwan Hamadé – directed by Walid Joumblat – and pro-US Prime Minister Fouad Siniora asked Hezbollah to cut its fibre optic private communication system linking all corners of the country.

Israel never ceased to monitor the Hezbollah cable that, due to its high-security system and regular control, had managed to neutralise all Israeli tapping devices attached to it by Israeli Special forces during their infiltration to Lebanon for this exact purpose.

An effort was made by the Lebanese government in May 2008 to cut the cable to break through Hezbollah’s high-security system, the key to its command and control in time of peace and especially in time of war. This insistent attempt – despite repeated warnings – provoked two days later a demonstration of force by Hezbollah occupying the entire capital in a few hours with no serious victims.

Lebanese pro-US armed mercenaries who gathered and hid in Beirut to trigger a civil war on this day, anticipating Hezbollah’s possible reaction, were neutralised in no time despite hundreds of millions of dollars spent on their supposed readiness for war against Hezbollah in the streets of Beirut.

Today the goal is to see Hezbollah controlling the streets and arming anti-government Syrians and Lebanese. The goal is to take the Lebanon issue to the United Nations. The aim is not to see Hezbollah defeated by the initial clashes: the firepower, training, and military organisation of Hezbollah cannot be defeated by enthusiastic mercenaries and locals.
Their aim is to deprive Hezbollah of its legitimacy and pay a heavy price for its “unforgivable” victories in Syria and Iraq and its support to the Palestinians and the Yemenis.

Lebanon’s financial problems are not the primary issue.

In Congressional testimony, the former US Under Secretary of State and Ambassador to Lebanon, Jeffery Feltman, told the US Congress that “Lebanon’s entire external debt (around $35 billion) is in line with the estimates of what Saudi Arabia is bleeding every year in pursuing a war in Yemen ($25-$40 billion).”

Regional and international financial support to Lebanon will be injected with one purpose: to trigger a civil war in the hope of defeating Hezbollah in the long term. This might also save Israel from a severe political crisis by provoking a war against Lebanon rather than an internal conflict among Israelis, as seems possible after two failed attempts to form a government.

Most Lebanese are aware of the sensitive and critical situation in the country. Most fear a civil war, particularly in view of the behaviour of the Lebanese Army and other security forces who are now standing idle and yet refusing to keep all roads open. These actions by the security forces are greatly contributing to the possibility of an internal conflict.

Sincere protestors with only a domestic agenda have managed to achieve miracles by crossing all sectarian boundaries and carrying one flag: an end to corruption and associated poverty and the return of stolen capital to Lebanon.

Protestors are asking the judiciary system to assume its responsibility and for the country to head towards a secular ruling system. But sectarian elements and foreign intervention are managing to divert attention from the real national demands that have been overwhelming the Lebanese since decades.

The foreign intervention is not relying on the justified demands of protestors in its confrontation with Hezbollah. It is relying on sectarian Lebanese who want to contribute to the fall of Hezbollah from the inside.

This is not surprising because Lebanon is a platform where the US, EU, and Saudis are strongly present and active against the Axis of Resistance led by Iran. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander Hussein Salame warned in his most recent speech that these countries risk “crossing the line.”

Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran has not initiated a military or preventive war on its neighbours but has limited its action to defending itself and in building its “Axis of Resistance”. Recently, Iran proposed – to no avail – a HOPE (Hormuz Peace Endeavor) to its neighbours, seeking a commitment to the security of the Middle East separately from any US intervention.

Iran defeated the mainstream international community when it helped prevent the fall of the government in Damascus after years of war. It has effectively supported Hezbollah and the Palestinians against Israel, favoured ally of the US; Iran stood next to Iraq and prevented a hostile government reaching power; Iran has also supported the defence of Yemen against Saudi Arabia’s useless and destructive war.

Iran’s enemies are numerous and have not given up. They tried but failed to achieve their objectives in 2006 in Lebanon, in 2011 in Syria, in 2014 in Iraq, and in 2015 in Yemen. Today a new approach is being implemented to defeat Iran’s allies: the weaponization of domestic unrest motivated by legitimate anti-corruption demands for reform at the cost of “incinerating” entire countries, i.e. Lebanon and Iraq.

Protestors have failed to offer a feasible plan themselves, and caretaker Prime Minister Hariri is trying to punch above his parliamentary weight by seeking to remove political opponents who control more than half of the parliament. Lebanon has reached a crossroads where an exchange of fire is no longer excluded. The conflict has already claimed lives. Thanks to manipulation, Lebanon seems to be headed towards self-destruction.

All images in this article are from the author

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Alt Left: The Neoliberal Ghost of Pinochet Is Finally Being Exorcised from Chile

The Neoliberal Ghost of Pinochet Is Finally Being Exorcised from Chile

More than 46 years of initially military-imposed neoliberalism in Chile has finally exploded into widespread frustration, protest, and violence. This neoliberalism culminated in 2017 with twelve businessmen, among them Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, monopolizing at least 17% of the national GDP, demonstrating the huge gap in wealth equity.

There is little doubt why the latest protests have exploded violently, with 18 dead so far – Piñera had declared war on his own people to protect his lucrative monopoly racket.

It is without surprise he had declared war. The aggressive neoliberalism that has dominated Chile since the 1973 Chilean coup d’état when socialist President Salvador Allende was killed and eventually replaced by neoliberal Augusto Pinochet with the backing and blessing of U.S. President Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, the CIA, and the so-called “Chicago Boys” neoliberal economic team.

Although the so-called communist threat was defeated in Chile, it was not until 1990 that the kinder face of neoliberalism returned to the country with the first democratic election taking place since the coup. The return to democracy did not equate to any changes in the economic system.

The appearance of GDP growth in the South American country created the mythology of the Chilean miracle, ‘thanks’ to the Chicago Boys, the group of young Chilean economists who studied at the University of Chicago under the adviser to U.S. President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, professor Milton Friedman.

They were the so-called economic liberators and advised Pinochet on applying complete free-market policies – essentially to privatize state-owned industries and companies and to open the economy.

The pernicious globalist model was applied and deemed a miracle because of significant GDP growth. However, this was only to the benefit of shareholders and private companies and did not reflect the average Chilean’s experience. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Gini coefficient value, a method to measure wealth distribution, stood at a record 0.50 in 2017, one of the highest inequality coefficients in the world.

This is because the incomes of the richest 10 percent of Chile are 26 times higher than the incomes of the poorest 10 percent of the population. This is partly also due to an unfair taxation system that creates a massive tax burden on the poor, as Chile’s government earns less from income taxes than any other country in the 35-member OECD.

Despite praise for the supposed fantastic economic performance, almost a third of Chilean workers are employed in part-time jobs, with one in two Chileans having low literacy skills according to the OECD.

And now as Chile literally burns and 18 people are dead, we cannot forget that former president Michelle Bachelet grotesquely dedicated lessons on “human rights” against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. Although Piñera has apologized, he did not do so for his declaration of war against the people but rather for decades of unresolved problems, which he  followed with an announcement for a new social and economic program.

A reversal of the crippling neoliberal economic system? Highly doubtful and probably more a Band-Aid option.

Neoliberal propagandist Enrique Krauze Kleinbort – accused of the coup attempt to overthrow Mexican President López Obrador – proclaimed that Chile was ‘the role model’ for Latin American economic growth. If inequality is considered a ‘role model,’ it shows that the oligarchs of Latin America have not recognized the growing trend of violent opposition to neoliberalism as the recent case in Ecuador demonstrates.

The very fact that Piñera attempted to increase transportation and energy costs in Chile demonstrates his lack of knowledge about international outrage to neoliberalism.

The French Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) in France began their actions 12 months ago, which soon spread across Europe, when neoliberal President Emmanuel Macron attempted to increase gasoline taxes. In 2018, Brazilian truck drivers blocked roads in a demand for a decrease in diesel prices. Mexico in 2017 saw a 20% rise in fuel prices that exploded into riots.

However, the attempted increase in transportation and energy costs was only the spark that lit the fire. As Piñera the man who is part of a monopoly over the Chilean economy, was forced to admit this is an explosion after decades worth of frustration, neglect, and abuse.

Candida Cecilia Morel, the wife of the billionaire Piñera, sent a WhatsApp message that was leaked in the media in which she comments on the violence and the protests shaking her country, and it certainly does show the disconnect that the elite of Chile have with the common Chilean.

The message said that “we are absolutely overwhelmed, it is like a foreign invasion, alien,” and that “we will have to decrease our privileges and share with others.” Her suggestion to decrease “privileges” is a stark reminder of Charles Dickens 1800’s Britain.

With such elitist comments and referring to Chileans as aliens, there is little wonder that there has been little calm despite Piñera’s half-done apology and promises of more neoliberalism with a softer punch.

Although circles close to the Chilean Presidency affirm that the disturbances and destabilization are orchestrated from abroad, it is unlikely to be true. We can of course expect that Venezuela will be the scapegoat by some Chilean oligarchs just as the oligarchs in Ecuador and Colombia have done, but there remains little evidence that this is the case.

Rather, as Piñera has had to attest, decades of neoliberalism is the cause of the disturbances. Perhaps inspired by events in Ecuador, it appears that the Chilean people are finally exercising the neoliberal ghost of Pinochet from its country.

It appears that the violence will not end unless the Chilean president makes drastic changes to the Chilean economy. Whether he does this remains to be seen.

This article was originally published on InfoBrics.

Paul Antonopoulos is a Research Fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies.


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Racism in Latin America, with an Emphasis on Anti-Black Racism

Tulio: It seems the Latin America right is mostly dominated by whites. I yet to see many dark brown Amerindian leaders of right wing movements in Latin America. They seem to be all people of European descent.

Yep. White people act pretty horrific down there.
I know you don’t like Chavez, but he is the hero of the Blacks and Browns down there. The opposition is mostly White and light-skinned. During the recent rioting, the opposition attacked some Black Venezuelans on the assumption that they were Chavez supporters and set them on fire in the streets.
The Opposition habitually called Chavez a mono or a monkey. He was a zambo, a mixture of Black, White, Indian. This mixture is pretty common in Venezuela, Colombia and Panama. I have read interviews with members of the opposition. One was an unmarried White upper class man in his late 20’s who lived at home. He said he felt so insulted every time he saw Chavez because it was like his people (upper middle class Whites) were being ruled by their maids and gardeners. The idea that this proud White man should be ruled by his inferiors was infuriating.
Peru is an extremely racist society. Now it’s mostly against the Indians, it’s true. They hardly have any Blacks. There was recently a case of a beautiful Black woman who tried to get into an exclusive nightclub in the wealthy Miramar District of Lima and she was turned away at the door. I guess they had a “No Blacks” policy.
Chile is incredibly racist against Indians, and they are supposedly one of the most progressive countries down there. I had a friend whose father had worked in Allende’s administration. He was a sociology major and he was doing some work with the Mapuche Indians who  live in the South. But his racism against those Indians was off the charts. Chileans are extremely racist Peruvians, and most of it is wrapped around the idea that Peruvians have much more Indian blood than the Chileans do, though the average White Chilean is ~25% Indian.
I’m not sure how racist things are in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia or Brazil. Some people say that Colombian Whites are extremely racist against Blacks, but others said it’s not the case.
Actually in Latin America there is the phenomenon of social race. A wealthy Latin American told me that even Black Latin Americans can be completely accepted in wealthy White circles if they only have enough money.
This phenomenon is called social race. It is especially prominent in places like Brazil. So a wealthy Black Brazilian can be effectively “White” and a poor White in a favela (there are many Whites in favelas) is effectively Black or mixed race (a wigger).
Racism is forbidden by law in Brazil but it still exists. I think there was a case recently where a White woman was in an elevator and she would not let a Black person in the elevator with her. It generated a lot of controversy. Nevertheless, there is a racial hierarchy. White women are regarded as wives and mothers but not so much as sex objects. In fact, they are too pure for that. Black women are regarded as unattractive. Their only use is maybe to be your maid. However, mixed race mulatta women are the most highly prized of all, and even White men see them as the sexiest women of all. They are sexualized as sex objects.
I had a White Brazilian woman who was my friend for a while. She mostly spoke Portuguese so it was hard to talk to her. I told her, “You try not to be racist against Blacks here, but it’s hard.” She agreed with me, and said, “Yes, I agree, we try not to be racist too, but it’s hard. We Whites have a saying here in Brazil, ‘If a Black doesn’t steal from you when he’s coming, he steals from you when he’s going.” In other words, if he doesn’t steal from you when he’s walking in the door, he will definitely steal from you when he is walking out the door. So even down there Blacks are regarded as thieves.
There’s not a lot of racism in the Caribbean because there are almost no Whites. However, the mulattos in Dominican Republic are extremely racist against the Blacks in Haiti. They still enslave them, for Chrissake.
Mexico, I am not sure, but in barrio culture here, low class Hispanics are much more racist against “mayate” Blacks than Whites are. The mestizos are openly racist, much more so than the Whites who probably think open racism is uncouth as Mexican Whites are very into being proper, mannered people. In there is open racism against Blacks in Mexico at least in the media. Further, the Mexican media is ~100% White. I have told Mexican-Americans that they are 4% Black and they don’t believe me. They also act a bit insulted. But it’s true. Every regular mestizo Mexican you meet is ~4% Black. The population just bred in with the Blacks and practically wiped them out except for a few around Veracruz. They simply bred them out of existence and everyone ended up with a bit of Black in them.

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Conservatives Are Murderous and Hate Democracy All over the World and at All Times

The Murderous, Democracy-Hating Latin American Right

The murderousness of the Chilean, Peruvian, Ecuadorian, and Argentine Right is in the past, but you never know when they will spring up again.

  • There was talk on the Argentine Right of calling for a coup when the last president talked about regulating the agricultural sector. They run that country like a mafia and no one dares to touch them. The Argentine Right worked with Wall Street to bankrupt the country and ruin the economy so they could win an election.
  • The Paraguayan Right overthrew the government with a judicial coup.
  • The Ecuadorian Right attempted an armed police coup several years ago.
  • The Peruvian Right staged a coup 25 years ago.
  • The Chilean Right only allowed a weak democracy 18 years ago.
  • The Honduran Right staged a military coup to get rid of a democratically elected president. Since then, death squads have murdered 1,000 people.
  • Aristide was overthrown by US sponsored coup 23 years ago, and they haven’t had any democracy since because Aristide’s party is banned from running. The last time they ran, they won 92% of the vote. After the coup, death squads rampaged through the population, murdering 3,000 members of Aristide’s party.
  • The rightwing Brazilian legislature overthrew the Left government based on a complete lie and they jailed the former president on a completely fake charge based on a bribe that he didn’t even accept! I mean they simply overthrew a democratically elected government with a parliamentary coup. They do this stuff all the time down there with either judicial, parliamentary or military coups.

The Latin American Right hates democracy.
If you wonder why the Left goes authoritarian down there, well, this is what happens if you try to do it democratically. They try to do it democratically, they wage coups and economic wars against you, start terrorist riots destroying you cities, murder the members of your government and political parties, start contra wars, or if they are in power, run death squads and slaughter the members of your parties.
I mean if they block all efforts at peaceful change, why not just put in a Left dictatorship? By the way, this is why Lenin said peaceful efforts towards socialism were doomed to fail because power never surrenders without a fight. He called such efforts parliamentary cretinism. I don’t agree with that, but I see the point.
The main point is that everywhere on Earth, the Right hates democracy and they are determined never to allow any Left governments to take power. Things are a bit different in Europe, North Africa, the Arab World, and Central Asia, but once you start getting over to South Asia, once again, they won’t give it up without a fight.

The Murderous, Democracy-Hating Right in Southeast and East Asia

  • Thailand overthrew a Left government with a judicial coup and the middle class rioters called yellow shirts destroying the country.
  • Indonesia staged a fake coup so they could murder 1 million Communist Party members.
  • The Philippines runs death squads that slaughter the Left.
  • The Taiwanese state consolidated its power after 1949 when they fled to they island by murdering hundreds of thousands of Leftists.
  • South Korea also killed hundreds of thousands of Leftists from 1945-1950 before the Korean War even started.
  • Between 1954-1960, Communists tried to take power peacefully in South Vietnam, but the government murdered 80,000 of them. They kept asking the North Vietnamese for permission to take up arms but it was never granted. Finally, in 1960, Ho gave them permission to take up arms.
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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.
 

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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!

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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.

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21st Century Socialism Brings Great Changes to Ecuador

The Ecuadorian regime is part of the Bolivarian group associated with the Bolivarian Group in Venezuela and as such they are committed to 21st Century Socialism, whatever that means for each country. Rafael Correa is the popular Leftist leading Ecuador, and he has done many great things for the people of Ecuador.
A comment from a recent visitor:

In my last visit to Ecuador I was really impressed by the remarkable changes and progress attained by this country. Superb highways, public hospitals with up to date technology, modern airports, new bridges, 911 Community Security Centers, eight hydroelectric dams under construction, free education from grammar school to university and last but not least half a million children who worked before in the mountains of city trash, today receive free education in modern public schools, including the famous Escuelas del Milenio.
Ecuador has a program which offers scholarships to talented students. A humble worker in a textile factory, whose daughter passed with the highest score, the test required by the best universities of Europe and USA, in her case Oxford, said “I never thought that my daughter would have such a wonderful opportunity.”
A young woman told me in a supermarket: “I am happy to live here because now we have dignity.”

The previous governments, all radical neoliberals dominated by the rich, did nothing to develop the productive forces of the nation. The Ecuadorian rich make lots of the money the way things are, so they don’t need the state for anything. So there has always been basically a Libertarian state in Ecuador. The previous governments never spent any money on education.
Education was only for the rich. The class structure was rigid. If you were born poor, you stayed poor. If you were born rich, you stayed rich. This is the traditional way it has always been all over Latin America. The previous governments did not develop hydroelectric power either, nor did they develop any national infrastructure such as highways, hospitals, bridges, airports, etc. They didn’t even spend money on public security since the rich don’t want to be taxed to pay for that.
By building national infrastructure, airports, dams, bridges, highways, etc, the regime shows the fallacy of neoliberalism which says the state must do nothing at all. They have retained the state’s role in providing security fo the people. They have built many new hospitals for the people with modern technology. Before, health care was only for the rich. Now it is for everyone. And they now offer free education for all through the university level. Wow! We don’t even have that in the USA! 500,000 children no longer live in trash dumps scavenging waste to survive as they did under the previous neoliberal regimes. Now they are all in school thanks to Bolivarian socialism.
As you can see, Correa’s regime has brought dramatic improvements to Ecuador and to the lives of most Ecuadorians.

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Four Left Latin American Governments Quit OAS Defense Treaty

Four leftwing Latin American nations quit the OAS defense treaty, asking for changes in the document. The OAS has always been the whore of the US, a sickening and reactionary organization. They threw Cuba out for no good reason long ago. These heroic Latin American nations are doing what should have been done long ago. The OAS is just shit, a Cold War creation of the Yankee dogs. Get rid of it already.
Yankee go home!
The nations are Nicaragua, led by the Sandinista hero Daniel Ortega, Venezuela, led by Hugo Chavez, Ecuador, led by Rafael Correa and Bolivia, led by Evo Morales.
I am reminded of the words of the former Sandinista national anthem:

America, enemy of mankind!

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How the Latin American Right Thinks

From this interesting comment on my piece about the FARC in Colombia:

RL: Labor unionists, community leaders, peasant leaders and peasants, Indian leaders and Indians, women’s organizations, gay rights organizations, environmental groups, anti-free trade agreement groups, human rights groups, journalists, students, professors, anti-mining and anti-oil groups…[are all accused of being “FARC supporters” or “members of the FARC” and are liable to be arrested, beaten, tortured, jailed or murdered at any time.] Parasites, dead-wood, leeches, crooks, thugs, villains, leftist shit-heels. Fuck them too.

This is how these people think. To them, if you are a member of a labor union, a women’s organization, a gay rights organization, an environmental group, an anti-free trade agreement groups, a human rights groups, an anti-mining or anti-oil group, a community leader, a peasant leader or a peasant, an Indian leader or an Indian, or a leftwing  journalist, student or professor, you are a parasites, dead-wood, a leech, a crook, a thug, a villain or a leftist shit-heel. And presumably, you deserve to be killed at any time.

So the war is not really against the FARC at all. The war is against the entire Left of society. The rightwing of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti, Brazil and Ecuador has a similar attitude: kill the Left. It was formerly the attitude of the Bolivian, Peruvian, Uruguayan, Dominican, Paraguayan, Chilean and Argentine rightwings too. But they have been out of power for a while and haven’t been killing many people lately.

Furthermore, this is not only the attitude of both political parties – the Democrats and the Republicans, but it also the attitude of the US military. This is a very important note: both US political parties, even the supposedly liberal Democratic Party, are 100% behind mass terror in Latin America, and they always have been.

The US military runs a school called the School of the Americas in Georgia where they train Latin American military officers. As part of their coursework, the US military teaches these officers that the legal Left are “Communists” who are trying to overthrow the government. They are a military target and need to be dealt with via force. These officers then go back to their countries and often turn into major human rights violators.

The US has been behind or supportive of every single rightwing military coup that ever happened in Latin America. The Obama Administration supported the Honduran military coup and the mass terror that followed. Obama also tried to overthrow the Ecuadorian regime of Correa. I thought Obama supports democracy?

The Bush Adminstration hatched and carried out a coup against President Aritide of Haiti and supported the terror afterwards that followed that left 3,000 Haitians murdered. Bush also backed and helped plan the coup against Hugo Chavez. I thought Bush supported democracy?

See what liars these Americans are? If you are an American, why do you believe the American liars when they go on and on about democracy? Why fall for their lies?

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I Thought the FARC Was “Near Defeat”?

Repost from the old site. A bit dated, but good nonetheless.Here on Robert Lindsay, we do support the FARC and the ELN unequivocally.

This is one hardass rebel army. The US corporate media says they still have 7,000 men under arms, down from 17,000, and in my opinion, their militia numbers in the 100,000’s. I strongly disagree with the 7,000 number, and I think the actual number of FARC troops is probably at least 18,000. They have a presence all over the nation and in several surrounding countries too.

It’s true that they have been dealing with the most intensive military offensive against any rebel group in the history of Latin America, and in recent days, suffered the loss of some top commanders. But they will weather these changes. As soon as a top commander dies or is killed or captured, there is someone else waiting to take his place.

James Brittain notes that the FARC has recently waged some of its most impressive attacks in a long time.

A reporter noted in 2004 that there is an unstated fear that the guerrillas could overrun Colombia’s major cities at any time. As a way of dealing with this, the venal and murderous Colombian ruling class periodically issues proclamations touting the weakness of the FARC, how they are near defeat, how they are suffering from massive defections, etc.

During Plan Colombia and Plan Patriota from 2000-2006, the Colombian regime repeatedly said that the FARC was near defeat. Analysis indicates that instead, attacks have grown over time. During 2008, the US media got into the act, crowing that the FARC was “near defeat”. But this year, the FARC attacked Colombia’s most important oil infrastructure facility and wiped out entire Colombian military battalions.

Between the 29th of April and the 6th of May, 2008, the FARC carried out repeated attacks on Colombia’s largest oil pipeline and halted the export of up to 3 million barrels of oil. At the same time, the FARC attacked various transportation routes crucial to the flow of military supplies and the movement of oil in Colombia’s north.

An essential bridge was destroyed in Cesar Province, preventing the movement of troops and paramilitaries. In Norte de Santander, the FARC attacked forces guarding the Caño-Limón Pipeline.

These last attacks were just hours after the US Ambassador visited the region and crowed about the near-defeat of the FARC. On May 3, 2008, Colombia deployed a battalion to the region to resume the flow of oil. The battalion was quickly destroyed by the FARC, which kept attacking the pipeline for another 2 days.

On May 27, 2008, the FARC attacked Colombia’s largest coal mine, derailing 40 wagons out of a 110 wagon train carrying 110 tons of coal. Further attacks hampered Colombia’s ability to engage in foreign trade by shutting down many export routes.

The North was thought to be relatively free of the FARC in recent years, as their center of operation was said to be in the South, but these attacks proved that wrong. In 2007, when the FARC was “near defeated”, somehow the number of internal refugees grew by 38%. Colombia now has the second largest number of internal refugees in the world, 4.1 million, second to Sudan.

The FARC has auxiliaries in all neighboring countries, the FARE in Ecuador, the FARV in Venezuela (demobilized but ready to fight if need be), the FARB in the Dog’s Head of Brazil, and the FARP in Peru.

The FARP has expanded all the way down to central Peru lately, where they have had great success forming base communities with peasants who hate the state but are disgusted by Sendero’s brutality. Many former Senderistas in Peru, up to 1,000, have signed on with the FARP. FARP has linked up with the devastated remains of the MRTA in San Martin Province and sent the MRTA leftovers back to Colombia for armed training.

They have also linked up with what is left of Sendero, a considerably less radicalized organization. A column of Senderistas from the Huallaga Valley was also seen marching off to Colombia. In Peru, the FARC troops are uniformed, healthy, well-armed and supplied, with modern communications equipment and brimming with confidence.

They come into the villages and offer basic necessities and health care to peasants who are pleased to see them and find them impressive compared to the ragtag guerrillas they are used to. Just because Sendero has been badly hammered does not mean that the people of Peru are not in a revolutionary mood.

The FARC also operates R & R bases in Panama and operates all across northern Brazil to southern Guyana, where they tax gold mining operations. This is one way the FARC has reacted to the largest offensive ever launched against any Latin American guerrilla group – they have expanded to all of the surrounding countries.

80% of Colombians live in poverty while a greedy and sociopathic oligarchy bleeds the country dry. There is no democracy in Colombia. Anyone opposing the state from the Left can be killed at any time.

When members of the FARC put down their arms to run for office in the 1980’s and formed the Patriotic Union, they were massacred like flies. Years later, 5,000 UP activists lay dead, and the party was disbanded. This is how the Colombian regime responds to challenges from the Left, even unarmed. With bullets. Until that changes, war will go on.

Colombia is currently one of the US’ top allies in the world, and the US’ top ally in Latin America. It’s unfortunate that US’ best friend in the region is such a murderous and fascist state, but it speaks volumes about the nature of the US state itself.

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Great Commie Blogs

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

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In the Shining Path of Ann Dunham

Repost from the old site.
It’s a lie that Sendero Luminoso never had much support. Simon Strong’s 1992 book gives the lie to that quite well. In the 18 months following Fujimori’s seizure of power, an unbelievable 1.5 million Peruvians were arrested on charges of being members of or collaborating with the Shining Path.
Surveys done at the height of their power indicated that they had the passive support of about 50% of the very poorest in society, with the full support of 16%. Really, to win any revolution you probably need 30% support, but the Bolsheviks did it with a lot less.
In the American Revolution, few Americans know that only 1/3 of Americans support George Washington’s bands, another 1/3 were basically traitors supporting the English crown and another 1/3 were pragmatic fence-sitters waiting to see which side was going to win before they decided who to support.
Most people don’t realize that in most civil wars you have a huge percentage of fence-sitters who are mostly just trying to stay alive.
Sendero had support even in the churches and in the military. They completely blew it in a lot of ways though, and though they still operate, they are a shadow of what they formerly were.
In my post, Sendero Fades and FARC Rises in Peru, I elaborate how Sendero has faded in Peru only to be replaced by the FARC of Colombia, who have been moving far down into Peru for some time now, and have been doing well with peasants fed up with Sendero’s mad violence.
The remains of the MRTA (yes, they still exist also) are up in the far north of Peru in San Martin Province where they always had their main base. Many former rebels from Sendero and the MRTA have basically left those groups and marched off to Colombia for retraining as members of the FARC.
This is part of a FARC regional strategy to expand into the countries surrounding it – there is the FARE in Ecuador, the FARV in Venezuela (which may have 2-3,000 members), the FARB that operates in the Dog’s Head region on the Brazilian border of Colombia and I believe the FARP that operates in Peru.
This article from La Rouche Publications (no, I do not endorse them) while a bit over the top, has an excellent roundup and analysis of the Sendero phenomenon. Particularly interesting is the huge support they had in the Peruvian diaspora in Europe, the US and Mexico, with a mind-numbing array of organizations.
In the US, the support was run by the Maoists in the RCP, a large US Maoist group. RCP’s homepage is here, and they actually run some decent articles, though I don’t support Communism in the US or anywhere else in the First World at the moment – I support some variety of socialism instead, and that can even mean social democracy.
El Diario International is the international paper of Sendero, or at least what remains of it. What is amazing is that this Belgium-based paper still prints a lot of issues, at least on the Net. It’s chock full of brand-new raving articles all the time.
I don’t read Spanish very well, but maybe someone who does could check it out and come back and report to us in the comments. El Diario del Hoy was Sendero’s paper in Peru, but it’s long been shut down. I think it reappears clandestinely from time to time.
I have read tons of Sendero propaganda and position statements. These people are completely off the deep end. All existing Communist states are “revisionist” (not real Communists but instead reformist traitors to the movement), and that includes North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos and of course China. They despise both Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Evo Morales of Bolivia. Chavez is pegged as some sort of “corporatist fascist”.
Sendero does support other armed Maoists like the revolutionaries in the Philippines, Nepal and India (but their most recent editorial condemns the Nepalese Maoists for “capitulation”). The Nepalese revolutionaries have done very well, the NPA in the Philippines is a vast organization, and the Indian Maoists are expanding like mad in the east. I don’t have a problem with any of these three movements.
Their position statements, and regular publications of their Red Sun Magazine (both here) are some of the rantingest, ravingest Commie stuff out there (Red Sun (Sol Rojo) 29 in Spanish, Red Sun 29 English supplement). As Peruvian society is evil and the system is a pile of garbage, Peruvian reality drove Senderistas insane. The crazier and more wicked the society, the crazier and more wicked the guerrilla reaction.
The La Rouche link (forget the nonsense about how Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch support Sendero, and forget anything about the UK – LaRouchies have always been insane on the subject of the Crown) makes clear the link between Sendero and radical anthropologists and academics, in particular psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, historians, teachers and agronomists.
The role of anthropologists , both Peruvian and even foreign, as essentially the brainchildren of Sendero is especially glaring.
Just for the record, this blog supports the ELN and FARC in Colombia, and supported the MRTA in Peru, but cannot support the project of Sendero.
The link with anthropologists is especially interesting in that Obama’s mother was an anthro, and she has been decried as an America-hater, and this America-hatred of hers can be seen supposedly in both Obama and his wife.
Though I do not care about whether or not Obama and his wife hate America, I think these latest America-hating charges may well be fatal for his campaign, especially with White ethnic working class types (Reagan Democrats), independents and Republicans who were voting for Obama for some bizarre reason.
This Asia Times piece by Spengler is worth reading along those lines. Though I am not a big fan of Spengler, he is definitely worth reading. He tells it like it is all right.
I’m for whichever Dem, the Black or the woman, can beat the Republican clown. At this point it’s starting to look like the lady. Women all over the country are fired up and hopping mad about the sexist BS directed at Hillary all through this whole campaign. A bunch of yahoo alpha male dogs showed up at one of Hilary’s appearances in New Hampshire and yelped, “Iron my shirts!”
Jeez.
Good for American women for standing up to this sexist crap. Everyone should stand up for their rights, and I applaud my sisters. This blog will never attack Hilary on sexist grounds.

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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.

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The Real Reason for the Shining Path

Repost from the old site.
Rightwing anti-Communists (and for that matter, Centrist and liberal US anti-Communists also) have some very peculiar attitudes about Communism, shaped by the Cold War. Communism, it appears, is some strange, evil and insane system, a crazy, idiotic and totally failed economic and social system that brought nothing but misery, hunger, starvation and poverty to the world, while bringing nothing good.
The alternative was capitalism, which would at some point conquer hunger, poverty, starvation and all that. Capitalism is always supposed to conquer these things at some point in the future. Capitalist polemicists usually say, “Just give it some time…”
With the neoliberalism that has been pushed since 1980 and has brought nothing but misery and impoverishment to billions and caused many millions of deaths, we have always been told that it would start working pretty soon now…maybe next year…victory is right around the corner. The truth is that after 25 years of neoliberalism, the verdict is in and a long report has documented it quite well.
Nearly everywhere it has been tried, neoliberalism has benefited the top 20% of the population (often greatly) and screwed the bottom 80%.
Even in the US, from 1980-1992, the top 20% gained income (the top 1% had an incredible gain) while the bottom 80% (everyone with individual income of less than $56,000/yr) of the US population actually lost money. A similar scenario unfolded in Britain.
Neoliberalism, nearly everywhere, resulted in lowered economic growth rates, massive debt, plunging wages and living standards for the majority, reductions in access to health and eduction, and reductions in many health and education metrics like infant mortality, life expectancy and the percentage of children in school at various ages.
This is because neo-liberalism mandated massive cuts in all social services, especially education and health care. The outcome was foretold. The truth about neoliberalism is that it has always been a scam in which the West, especially Western banks, corporations and investors, ripped off the rest of the World blind and the people were always left holding the bag.
Nevertheless, the ripoff artists keep trying to sell their neoliberal snake oil around the world, but more and more nations are no longer buying. Most of the countries of Latin America have tired of the “checks in the mail” neoliberal snipe hunt, and collectively, they are trying, in their own often-limited ways, to dislodge themselves from the grip of the neoliberal plague.
Even mainstream economists admit that Latin America (macroeconomically) did not benefit from the neoliberal fad. Recently, Argentina paid off its foreign debt and said no more. In Venezuela, Chavez is trying to forge a completely new path that is, instead of the Communism his detractors libel him with, in truth nothing more than a reformation of capitalism.
President Lula in Brazil has been hampered by the death grip of both investor capital and the markets; he has not been able to do much at all. Uruguay has elected a strident Leftist, but it is not known what he can do given his restraints.
Chile, after the utter failure of Pinochet’s radical free market economics (something the free market crazies have never owned up to), has elected a socialist and a woman as President, Bachelet. It is not known what she can do in terms of progress, but Chile still has an education and health sector that is in pretty good shape and sports good metrics to show for it.
In Ecuador, Rafael Correa is President, and he has formed an alliance with Chavez. It remains to be seen what he can do in terms of progress, as his options, as usual, are limited.
In Bolivia, Evo Morales, an Indian, has won a very close election in a country where a small White elite has always run roughshod over the majority Indian population. His options are also limited, but Morales’ rhetoric has at least been almost as radical as Chavez’.
A major problem in Bolivia is the mestizos in the East of the country (Santa Cruz Province) who despise the Indians the West as inferior while they sit on top of Bolivia’s rich natural gas deposits. They are making noises about succession, but they will never try it.
In Mexico, AMLO (Lopez-Obrador), a Leftist, actually won the election, but due to the usual fraud, the PAN (a rightwing Catholic party that rose out of the religious hot war in Mexico in the 1920’s that left 70,000 dead) now holds the presidency. Felipe Calderon is the PAN President and he won’t do a damned thing to solve the problems that have caused an incredible 12% of Mexico’s population to move to the US.
As an example of such problems, the family of one man, Carlos Slim, the head of the private Mexican phone monopoly, controls 50% of the wealth in the entire country. That is why America is being overrun by illegal aliens.
There has been some resistance to this semi-feudal order.
A very radical movement has tried to overthrow the corrupt and brutal dictatorial government of Oaxaca state. The Zapatistas* are still alive, and recently a Leftist group, the EPL*, has started to blow stuff up again, after disappearing for three years.
In Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega was re-elected, but he appears to have softened his rhetoric to the point where he cannot do much. Still, he has formed an alliance with Chavez. Nicaragua, now the second poorest country in Latin America, lies in corrupt ruins.
Support for the considerably neutered Sandinistas is higher than reported in the ruling class media – although Ortega had 35% support, his rival, a Sandinista attacking Ortega from the Left, had another 20% of the vote, so the whole Left vote was a 55% majority, not 35% as the corporate media would have you believe.
Under the Sandinistas, Nicaragua went from one of the worst to one of the best in Central America for literacy and health care figures. In 1990, Violeta Chamorro, adored by the whole US political spectrum, including the Cruise Missile liberals of the US Democratic Party, won the election.
Right away, she ended free education, requiring students to spend $35 a year on uniforms, a fee that immediately threw large numbers of kids out of school. Most have yet to return. She also got rid of free health care, so most of the population is without health care again. The health and education figures for the nation have shown the expected collapse.
It is interesting that Democratic Party liberals are apparently overjoyed about this situation, showing the bankruptcy of their ideology.
Most of the rest of the continent is collapsed in the usual ruins. 1 million people die every year from hunger in Latin America, and this has been going on for decades. How come this stuff never makes it to the “Worst Killers in Recent History” contests?
The anti-Communist line about Communism divorces it from its concrete realities in the sort of totally rotten social and economic systems that have spawned peasant revolutions for centuries before Karl Marx was even born.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s and the fall of the Warsaw Pact, rightwingers rejoiced. It was the “end of history”, said Francis Fukuyama. The era of peasant revolts was over. Never again would humanity have to worry about any Marxist, Leftist, worker, peasant, or even populist revolution.
Capitalism was here to say, in all of its forms, from most enlightened to most hideous, and no one could do a damn thing about it!
Well, that is nonsense. Anti-Communists say that revolutions happen for no reason at all, other than the insane desire of Communist madmen to seize power and impose their failed system on an unwilling population. They say that revolutions do not arise from horrible social and economic systems – they arise from sick Marxist pathology.
Get rid of Marxism, they say, and capitalism can run wild on humanity again. Perhaps we can even re-instate feudalism and slavery while we are at it. After all, they were both great for business.
Amidst the deafening racket of nonsense, a series of economic figures looms up at us like a ghost from the recent Peruvian past.
In back of those figures, 15 years later in 1980, like an Inca God rising up from the grave to slay the Spanish invaders 450 years after they waded ashore, is the frightening shadow of the Peruvian Shining Path*, another “totally insane” Marxist group that arose “for no reason whatsoever other than sheer evil”.
Yet the figures below show us why a revolution, even one as insane as Sendero Luminoso, was inevitable:
From the Peruvian National Planning Institute in Bejar, Peru, in 1965, we learn that the 24,000 families of the White ruling class in Lima had an income of $62,000/yr*.
The entire rest of the country had an average family income of $157.
The Indians of the Sierra, who even now have a life expectancy of only 45 years, had an average family income of only $10 a year.
*All figures in 1965 US dollars.
Most people agree that things have only gotten worse in Peru since then. Look at those figures above and tell that that is not kindling and kerosene for bloody revolution. The match was called Sendero, and someone was going to toss a match sooner or later.
There were centuries in Peru before 1965, four of them, and they build on our tale. From 1526 (when the Spaniards came to Peru) to 1630, the Indian population declined from 13 million to 600,000 – a loss of 95% of the population. It was a Holocaust, and I don’t care how many crazy Jews scream “anti-Semite” at me for stealing their pet word.
For the next three centuries, the Indians were tied to the land like serfs, bonded in debt peonage in a feudal estate society. This continued until well into the 1970’s. The jungle Indians were enslaved and killed for sport starting in the 1800’s and continuing until 50 years or so ago.
It is 1980. The bump and lurch of the dialectic, from Hegel to Marx to Mariategui to Guzman, has brought us here, to Sendero’s nightmare. The weight of 450 years of oppression, enslavement and genocide buckled the roof of the sick system and created the Sendero virus, which infected much of the country and nearly killed the host.
But given history, it could not have been any other way.

This is an example, from the city of Cherboksary, Russia, of the most failed economic system ever known to mankind – Communism. The fountains you see are inferior and worthless – totally failed fountains, if you will.
The buildings in the background as are complete failures as buildings, since they are dull and boring. Those buildings are called “socialist housing” and everyone in the West agrees that this type of housing does not work. What works much better are the capitalist slums in the pictures to follow.
The river is quite clean and this is another example of complete failure. Much better are the black rivers of capitalist slums, stinking with garbage, animal corpses and raw sewage. Why? Because diseases and smells are exciting! Who wants to be bored, anyway?
Even the bright greenery in the foreground in a total failure – it’s much better to have live amidst the mounds of garbage you see below. Capitalist slums, with their thrill a minute and constant search for food, are the only way to go.
A slum in Brazil. This is the successful system that works. Much better than that failed, dull socialist housing above, no? When are you moving in, reader?
Men pick through a garbage dump, probably in Nairobi. Slums in Nairobi make up 6% of the city yet house 60% of the population. In many parts of the capitalist third world, human beings actually live in these garbage dumps. They often suffer from continuous infections and sores.
Slums of Nairobi. This is the only viable system on Earth, capitalism. All of the alternatives, especially Communism, are failed and don’t work. As you can see, this system works great.
Communist housing fails because it is dull, boring and lifeless. It is much better to live in lively, exciting surroundings like this Nairobi slum, where I assure you there is never a dull movement. How dare those evil Commies try to move these people into “failed” Soviet-style high-rises!
An excellent example of capitalist education from Africa. Capitalism hates education, everywhere and at all times, because the capitalists can’t make any money off of it, and the capitalists all send their kids to fancy private schools, hence they resent paying for a system they do not even use. So capitalism, under neoliberalism, has predictably devastated education systems around the Third World.
Who needs to get educated anyway? The problem of the 3rd World is too many kids! Besides, Black people are so dumb that all attempts to educate them are a waste of time, or so The Bell Curve told me.
Slums of Brazil. The problem is these Brazilians have too damn many kids! Yet the evidence shows that Brazil’s birthrate is actually below replacement level. Never matter, in that case, the poor should quit having babies altogether!
Somehow, Westerners always find a way to blame the victim.
Of course, Brazil having the worst rich-poor gap on Earth could not have anything to do with this situation, now would it? By 2020, 40% of the world will live in these awesome slums. Cool! At least they won’t have to suffer from Communism or any of that failed stuff.
The charming slums of Brazil. Rio de Janeiro is home to 12 million people – 4 million of them in 800 different favelas, or slums. All of these slums are run by gangs of drug dealers, who engage in continuous battles with each other and the police, that is, when they are not engaging in armed robberies, kidnappings and homicides. Recent articles in the Western press have hailed the dramatic improvements in these slums. As you can see here, they are so much better than they used to be!
Residents of a slum in Nairobi trudge through the garbage on their way home. Nairobi has an out of control crime rate, but of course that has nothing to do with the fact that these folks live in slums. It is because the criminals are evil and commit crimes for no reason at all. Furthermore, they are Black, and Black people are genetically natural born criminals. They’re just a race of Bad Seeds, and nothing can be done about them at all.
The wonderful slums of Mumbai again! This is the high tech economy that is taking the world by storm, the envy of the planet. Check out that high tech dishwasher this girl is using – I bet it was designed by those IT professionals down in Bangalore! Go, India go!
The truth about India is, of course, more tragic than Tom Friedman (see below) can figure out. By 1985, capitalism was killing between between 2.92 and 4 million every year in India, and 1.76 million were being killed in Bangladesh. That is 5.25 million people being killed by capitalism every year in just those two countries alone. But wait a minute! Capitalism doesn’t kill anyone. Stalin and Mao were the worst killers of the 20th century, dontcha know?
Since Communism doesn’t work, we have to go with the only alternative, the system that works, capitalism. This photo shows you just how great it works in Mumbai, India. Noam Chomsky reports that, comparing China and India, which had similar developmental figures in 1949, there have been 100 million excess deaths in Indian from 1947-1979.
This clearly shows the superiority of Chinese Communism, at least when it comes to saving lives. Note that China’s superior figures even include all of those killed by Maoism, which may number over 20 million people. But Maoism saved far more, and China set a world record with the fastest doubling of life expectancy by any country, going from 32 in 1949 to 65 in 1976, surpassing Joseph Stalin’s record set in 1956.
Now in China, gone heavily over to capitalism, millions are dying from lack of health care alone. Getting back to India, recent figures show that there are 4 million excess deaths in India every single year. Gideon Polya calculates that excess infant mortality alone, compared to a model of Sri Lanka, kills 2.7 million Indians per year.
Slums of Mumbai. 6 million people – 60% of the population – live on only 6% of the land. Pundits all across the West, especially Thomas Friedman in The World is Flat, rave about India’s booming economy . India’s capitalism is praised all across the West. As you can see here, it really works great!
Working backwards and forwards from Chomsky’s figures above of 4 million deaths per year in India from capitalism, which he got from Indian economist Amratya Sen, we can guess that capitalism may have killed 170 million Indians since 1949 as compared to the Chinese model. But wait, aren’t Communists the worst killers of them all?
Don’t like the way I do figures? Try these instead then. Capitalism kills 14 million people every single year just by starvation, mostly in South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan).

*This blog does not support the project of Sendero Luminoso, as they kill people who are completely innocent. It does support the Zapatistas and the EPL in Mexico.

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Sendero Fades and FARC Rises in Peru

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

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"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.

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An Examination of the Frog Extinction Epidemic

Repost from the old site.
Although many factors are involved in this epidemic, one of the worst is the Chytrid fungus epidemic. It is being spread by Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), which causes chytridiomycosis. This fungal disease is devastating frog populations all over the world, but particularly in Australia, and North, Central and South America.
The devastation in Central America has been particularly acute, with many species simply vanishing from the face of the Earth. Bd is just now spreading here in the US, with serious devastation of Sierra Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog populations in the Sierra Nevada. However, some populations are apparently surviving the epidemic with some some survivors intact and thereupon rebuilding their populations.
A paper in Nature (Pounds 2006) made the case that the chytrid epidemic was being driven by global warming. They suggested that Bd had always been there but had only become pathogenic in the face of global warming.
A new paper (Lips 2008) in the journal PLoS Biology challenged that theory with some interesting data. I did not read the Pounds paper, but the Lips paper was quite convincing.
Their argument is rather simple. If Bd had always been there, it would not show a spread rate typical of a spreading disease epidemic. Instead, it would tend to erupt in all places at once.
Lips’ team showed first of all that Bd had not always been in the environment, that is, it was not an endemic. It appears to have escaped from an Australian lab around 1970 and from there spread through Australia. From Australia, it made its way to the Americas.
We can see several places where it seems to have been introduced, and we can plot the years of introduction on a map. So Bd is acting like an invasive alien species.

Bd appears in Costa Rica in 1987 and then heads south to Panama. It seems to be following mountain ranges there too. The number of species lost in Costa Rica is very large.
Bd spread in South America following two introductions, one in 1977 and one in 1980. The 1980 Ecuadorian introduction heads both north and south along the Andes. The 1977 Venezuelan introduction heads south along the Andes. For some reason, Bd in South America is sticking to the Andes.

This is precisely how we would expect an epidemic following an introduction by an alien species to operate – a geographical spread from a point of introduction with a rate of spread in miles per year. Furthermore, the testing of many specimens in museums failed to find Bd in any of them prior to 1977. This suggests strongly that Bd is an invasive alien fungus that was not present in the environment before.
An alternative hypothesis was not tested but did occur to me: That even though Bd was an alien exotic invasive fungus spreading after accidental introduction, global warming had somehow made Bd much more lethal to frogs. I can’t figure out a way to test that hypothesis, and I guess none of the researchers are considering it. The Pounds team is sticking to their guns on this one, but I think that they are wrong.
It’s a good mind exercise to read academic science journal articles that test scientific hypotheses against competing hypotheses. It’s hard to read that stuff, but if you can get through it somehow, personally I find these brain puzzles to be a lot of fun. If you see learning as virtually a sensual activity as I do, this kind of stuff is almost as fun as a vacation, sports, sex or any other other purely sensual activity.
Learning and thinking is actually a blast, to me anyway. Try it sometime!

References

Lips, Karen R., Diffendorfer, Jay, Mendelson III, Joseph R., Sears, Michael W. 2008. Riding the Wave: Reconciling the Roles of Disease and Climate Change in Amphibian Declines. PLoS Biology 6:3.
Pounds JA, Bustamante MR, Coloma LA, Consuegra JA, Fogden MPL, et al. 2006. Widespread amphibian extinctions from epidemic disease driven by global warming. Nature 39: 161–167.
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Manuel Marulanda

Repost from the old site.

Great photo of Manuel Marulanda (seated) from the early days.
The more classic view that people are a lot more familiar with – the veteran revolutionary and guerrilla. In the background are uniformed FARC troops.

I’ve already been over on this blog why the Colombian revolutionaries really have no alternative but to fight. When they tried to lay down their weapons, they were slaughtered like flies. As long as there is no open space for peaceful dissent in Colombia, armed struggle will be a sensible option.
Via a couple of articles out of People’s Movement Support Group, we now learn a lot more about Sure Shot – Manuel Marulanda. The essential moment in the Colombian struggle and the one that actually gave rise to the FARC 16 years later was the assassination of Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, the presidential candidate that the people had pinned their hopes on.
Colombia has always been ruled by two ruling class parties – the Liberals and the Conservatives. Although they hated each other, there was never much difference between the two. Gaitán was a new kind of Liberal – a leftwing populist that was actually going to work for the people and not the oligarchy for once.
Even his own Liberal party condemned him, and he was quickly assassinated by unknown parties. The killing set off La Violencia, a conflict between the Conservatives and Liberals that killed 200,000 people in a small country over the next 16 years. The peasants in the countryside split off to form militias to slaughter each other.
The Conservatives represented the older oligarchy, and the Liberals represented some nouveau riche up and coming members of the oligarchy who wanted in. However, the Liberals were joined by many peasants and Communists. The two parties finally signed a peace treaty in 1963 and decided to declare war on the Communists.
Pedro Antonio Marín Marín, later Manuel Marulanda, was born into a poor peasant family around 1930. At age 13, he was forced to leave home to find work. Great system! At some time after 1948, Marín was attacked in his home by a Conservative militia. This led him to join the Liberals. He took the name Manuel Marulanda after an Afro-Colombian union leader who was tortured to death in 1953.
In the late 1950’s, he joined forces with Jacobo Arenas to form a Marxist guerrilla group modeled on the Fidelistas fighting in the mountains of Cuba. It was as a guerrilla that he earned the name Tiro Fijo or Sure Shot.
The Colombian ruling class and US imperialism are overjoyed that Marulanda died. He died at age 77 in the arms of his lover, surrounded by his guerrilla comrades. The imperialists and their lackeys have made up a lie that he was killed by a bomb from a Colombian jet. This is not true.
It is little known that there is a fierce guerrilla war raging in Colombia. You don’t read about much in the news, but the FARC, while conducting an orderly retreat under a severe offensive, is counterattacking against the Colombian military, and there are many small battles taking place every week.
The FARC is quite popular in Colombia, especially amongst the rural poor. If you go out into some areas of the countryside, all adults that you see will be members of the FARC. The peasant farmer in the countryside with his cows will have a sidearm. The woman cooking in her kitchen cooks food for guerrillas.
This is the FARC’s rural militia, and it numbers up to 200,000-300,000. This is much more than the 15-20,000 full-time soldiers of the FARC. These peasants have been part of the FARC’s support base for decades. That’s just the way it is in a lot of places. FARC has had a much harder time organizing in the cities, but they do have urban militias.
The kidnappings that the US media screams about all the time are usually just arrests for not paying revolutionary taxes. Every Colombian with an income of over $1 million/year (that’s a lot of people) has to pay revolutionary taxes every year (usually 10%). Most wealthy Colombians just do it. They drive out 25-50 miles from the city they live and pay the guerrillas. Then they are free for another year.
Some wealthy Colombians have not been paying taxes lately, so they have been arrested by the FARC for tax evasion. They will be released when they pay their taxes. So it’s not really the “kidnapping and ransom payments” scenario that the media wants you to believe.
The FARC is even very popular across the border in Ecuador, especially in the rural areas. The notion that this group has no support is a lie propagated by its enemies.
Another lie is that these guerrillas live in luxury because they are narco-traffickers. They do tax drug crops in their regions of control, including cocaine. However, all of the money goes towards the war. No FARC guerrillas or leaders live in luxury.

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World O' Crap, Meet World O' Lies

Repost from the old site.
Super-commenter James Schipper responds to the Problems of Democracy Under Capitalism post with this insightful comment. My comments follow:

James Schipper: There are two serious restraint on capitalism: competition and the need to make a profit.
Competition between capitalists insures that the power of capital over consumers and labor is limited. Capitalists have a common interests in the preservation of the capitalist system, but at the same time, capitalists compete against other for the favors of the consumer and to get the best employees.
Always remember that what makes capitalism work is not so much private property but competition. Private property without competition combines the worst of socialism and capitalism.
The need to make a profit sets a limit on what the corporate media can do. Newspapers have to find readers and radio and TV stations have to find listeners and viewers. This implies that they can’t be too overtly propagandistic, otherwise the readers, listeners and viewers will stay away.
Commentators like Rush Limbaugh have a large following but only because they primarily discuss non-economic issues. If they spent most of their time defending business, their popularity would quickly plummet. Imagine the reaction of Limbaugh’s fan’s if he started to extol CEO’s who make stratospheric incomes while their companies lay off workers. It is far safer to extol the uniformed heroes in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Plutocracy is a cause that can’t be truthful about its aims. That’s why the Republicans want ordinary working Americans to worry about college professors who have an elitist lifestyle rather than about executives and capitalists who have an elitist income.
It is ridiculous to suppose that latte-drinking, opera-watching, Volvo-driving eggheads who read foreign novels and watch foreign films are somehow a danger to working stiffs. A party that represents the rich has to be deceitful or else condemn itself to insignificance. The Republicans are such a party.

Robert Lindsay: James makes some excellent points above, especially about how “pointy-headed intellectuals who can’t even park their bicycles straight”, as George Wallace famously put it, into a sort of populist enemy by the Republican Party, and also about how conservatism is always, by its very nature and necessarily, dishonest.
Here the Republican Party is playing into the anti-intellectual nature of US populism. We have never been a European-style cafe society, and probably never will be.
Also Republicans are taking an increasingly popular critique of their own sure elitism into a critique of fake elitists called “limousine liberals”. Problem with limousine liberals being, I guess, that they are hypocrites. Similar diatribes have been launched against something similar called the “Hollywood Left”.
This point is superbly made by Philip Agre in a seminal 2004 essay, What Is Conservatism and What Is Wrong with It? As Agre succinctly and immaculately:

Q: What is conservatism?
A: Conservatism is the domination of society by an aristocracy.
Q: What is wrong with conservatism?
A: Conservatism is incompatible with democracy, prosperity, and civilization in general. It is a destructive system of inequality and prejudice that is founded on deception and has no place in the modern world.

Increasingly here we have what are more or less monopolies, James. We have cable and telephone monopolies that were supposed to be regulated, but the government has basically given up regulating them. We have computer monopolies in the form of Intel on chips and Microsoft in apps and OS’s.
Starbucks comes into a town, sells at a loss to drive all competition out of town and then jacks up prices. Walmart comes into town, sells at a loss to drive everyone out of business, and then keeps on selling at low cost. However, Walmart mostly sells crap. Here Walmart is violating the monopoly principle of driving up prices while adhering to the monopoly principle of selling crap.
We are now having higher-end stores opening up that charge a lot more than Walmart but at least do not sell crap. As long as there is competition in a market, prices and quality are typically relatively good.
However, the government now operates in the interest of monopoly capital, and, insanely, “free market” economics is opposed to all antitrust regulation. Traditionally, there was bipartisan support for antitrust legislation.
The new bipartisan opposition to antitrust legislation is one of the legacies of Milton Friedman’s “Chicago School of Lies” free market fundamentalism snake oil that has created a Gramscian cultural hegemony in US economic thought in the past 35 years.
The Friedmanites published all sorts of nonsense, lies and BS. They went down to Chile, used it as a testing ground for their insane theories, blew up the economy, and then covered their tracks and lie about it to this very day.
They published papers and books on antitrust that overturned nearly 3/4 of a century of perfectly valid economic and legal scholarship that showed unequivocally that prices rise and the quality of services and goods nosedives as markets become more consolidated. These works made up a bunch of fancy-sounding crap that made a dishonest case that all of this proven science was not true.
Monopolies do not produce high prices and crap service and goods. Everything we know is wrong. Instead, reality is inverted and monopolies cause low prices, great products and superb services.
What we are seeing in the US is the move to more and more consolidated markets and more and more monopoly-type markets. The moves by Yahoo and Google and Microsoft on the Internet foretell an Internet that is increasingly monopolistic.
The one good thing about capitalism is competition.
Capitalists love to talk about how much they love competition, but the truth is that they hate it. Competition only benefits the consumer. All businessmen secretly want to be monopolists. All of those businesses dishonestly taking Microsoft to court for being a monopoly actually want to be monopolies themselves.
There are natural monopolies. In the US, those include phone, cable, power, water and some others. Those natural monopolies must be regulated by the state, other wise they will turn into natural unregulated monopolies, which are disastrous for consumers and society.
It’s highly dubious that corporations compete for the best workers anymore in the US, except at the highest levels. Corporations and business are perfectly happy to replace good workers with illegal aliens and H-1B and H-2B guest workers from other lands.
Both types of workers are usually much inferior to native US workers, but business no longer cares about quality in the US. Computer companies and homebuilders are perfectly happy to produce crap code and homes that fall apart in a few years. No one really cares about quality anymore in the US, and no one cares about workers either.
The whole culture is centered around getting rich, and that usually means being an employer and hiring labor. To be a worker is to be a schmuck, soon to be taken out by illegal aliens, machinery, a computer program or guest workers from India or Ecuador.
Fordism is progressive type of capitalism named after Henry Ford.
Ford found out his own workers could not even afford to buy his cars, and he was outraged. He resolved to pay his workers enough to buy his cars. This became a progressive strain in capitalism – to pay workers enough so that they would be well-heeled consumers able to buy plenty of products, while at the same time preserving high profits for business. Fordism is done and gone; it’s history.
Everything is now globalized, and no one worries about whether or not people can afford to buy your stuff. If labor in one place costs too much, just outsource, move the plant overseas, hire illegals or bring guest worker scabs from India. If workers in one land can’t afford your stuff, ship it to some rich people overseas. As long as enough people somewhere can afford your stuff, there’s no need to pay workers enough to buy your stuff.
Furthermore, James misinterprets the degree to which Rush Limbaugh is a reactionary. I believe he does extol high corporate salaries. You now have the phenomenon of the low income, working class or middle class, White, usually younger, male, who will defend plutocracy and the politics of the rich to the hilt, despite the fact that it is against his interest.
In this way, the plutocrats have actually been honest about their project and have created a Gramscian cultural hegemony of “plutocracy is good” whereby tens of millions of suckers swallow this crap whole and spout it right back at you without thinking. They did this by saturating the media with pro-plutocrat messages and making it seem reasonable.
They also did it by creating a Lottery mindset, which was unfortunately always a part of US culture (see the Horatio Alger books). Your average White male working stiff will tell you that he too is going to become rich one day. Anywhere from 25-50% of Americans say that they will be millionaires one day. Fully 25% of Americans already describe themselves as “rich”. Almost all of these people are White.
The problem with James’ media model – that media outlets must compete for readers – is that there is no competition.
There is no Left alternative to Time, Newsweek and US News and World Report. On TV, there is the ultraright Fox News and MSNBC and the rightwing CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC. All of these are corporate-owned and spout one pro-corporate line.
It is true that CNN now has Lou Dobbs, who spouts a sort-of progressive populist line. It really is against CNN’s interests to keep Dobbs on there, but I guess he is there because enough folks want to hear the message.
What you get instead is a pro-corporate message increasingly draped in fake populist clothing. On Fox News today, they went on and on with a fake populist message about lowering gas prices. Incredibly, they denounced speculation in oil prices, but of course, they did not offer the reasonable thing to do to remedy this – regulation of commodity markets.
Instead, they argued for massively increasing domestic oil production – in the ANWR, in the oil shale of the US Rockies and in offshore deposits. They said that the increased production would so glut the oil market (!) with new supply that this would force the commodity market to drive oil prices downwards, and this would “beat the speculators”.
What is interesting is that Fox News was forced to admit that the problem in oil prices is almost entirely due to speculation. What they left out is that increased oil supply probably would not do anything to drive down prices, because the price is not being set by supply-demand anyway. So here you see the fake populism of the Republican Party – sell a fake populist but actually wildly pro-corporate message – “Open up the oil fields!”
Even if this project passed and we able to drill in all these new deposits, it would not put a dent in oil prices. But the US public is so stupid that they would have forgotten about that long ago. If a bunch of Republicans got into office on this fake promise, this is all that matters.
The US public is like a kid with ADD – no attention span. Politicians are never held accountable to promises or projects because no one ever follows promises through for years to see if they come through or not. Politicians get elected on a pile of bull, and then no one is ever there to call them on it later on.
Bush has substantially caused these oil prices by failing to regulate commodity markets (and they will never regulate those markets), but the Repubs are going to stick Obama with it. Bush caused the Iraq mess, but Obama will be stuck with that too. And both of those things are catch-22’s with few non-painful ways out.

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What Has the Latin American New Left Accomplished?

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

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

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

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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.

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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?

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FARC Attacks Eliminate 17 Colombian Security Forces

A FARC roadside bomb and automatic weapons fire ambush in Caqueta killed 14 Colombian police in Caqueta. A number of cops were trapped inside a burning vehicle. They were hit with roadside bombs, then attacked with automatic weapons, then doused with gasoline and set on fire. Another 7 police were wounded. There is a government offensive going on in Caqueta right now, and the FARC is resisting it.

Those aren’t really cops. They are “state police,” and their mission is counterinsurgency.

Earlier, there were two other FARC attacks near the borders with Venezuela and Ecuador that left 3 soldiers dead, 7 more wounded and 1 missing.

Altogether, 17 security forces were killed in three attacks, 14 more were wounded and 1 is missing in two days of fighting

In Colombia, anyone having any opinions whatsoever on the Left is fair game to be killed by the state. The military, state or death squads will often denounce you as a “FARC member” or a “FARC supporter.” The first case is almost never true, as the FARC usually wear uniforms. Anyway, FARC members can easily be arrested if there is any evidence against them.

Most people so named are just trade unions, people on the Left, members of political parties, community workers, organizers, etc., members of campesino and human rights organizations, on and on. The second charge is much harder to prove. What in the Hell is a “FARC supporter” anyway, and how does one go about proving such a thing? Most folks so named are probably not even vocal FARC supporters, but even if they were, is that illegal? If it’s ok to kill “FARC supporters,” then why doesn’t the FARC have the right to exterminate every single “government supporter.” Fair’s fair, right?

In addition, there is a long-term process going on of removing peasants from their land by the military, death squads and the state. The land is often taken by force. The military or death squads come out and order you off your land. If you say no, they threaten to kill you. If you don’t leave, they attack you. If you leave, they steal your land. This process of theft of peasant and Indian land for large landowners has been going on for at least 200 years in Colombia. It’s very similar to the fencing of the commons in England which some commenters on this site waxed ecstatic about.

Isn’t it clear that capitalism requires the removal of small farmers from their land, by deadly force if necessary? This has been the process of consolidation of capitalism in most nations in the world, including the US. Why is this something to support?

Notice that the entire world press supports the fascist Colombian state in their war against the people. In the latest election, the Defense Minister was elected President. He’s a true fascist and a mass murderer. The US government, public and the world media can’t get enough of him.

The world fascist press (if it supports fascists, it’s fascist, right?) has been saying that a massive offensive under the genocidal Uribe has reduced the FARC’s strength by 50%. This is not really the case. Their actual numbers are about 18,000, but that does not include militia. With militia, they probably have about 72,000 fighters.

The haters of the FARC on this site are asked exactly what it is that the FARC are supposed to do. You don’t support them, so what do you think this organization should do? You have no answers, do you?

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Update on the Guerilla Movement in Peru

There is a lot of lying about the new Sendero, and next to nothing about the smaller MRTA in Peru. The MRTA is said to be defunct, but actually about one person is arrested every three weeks on charges of being an MRTA member. Why the group is still illegal is not known, since they have not waged any attacks in 14 years. However,  the state refuses to negotiate a peace treaty with them, so members are still on the run.

Recently, the remains of the MRTA in San Martin Region took off for Colombia with a column of FARC guerrillas. A column of Shining Path guerrillas also took off for Colombia with the FARC. In the past, Sendero hated both the FARC and MRTA as revisionists. The new Sendero is much more moderate and reasonable, and they are working with both organizaitons.

FARC also now has a large presence in Peru, though they are not waging any attacks. Instead, they are just building a movement in rural areas. There are about 1,200 FARC members in Peru, members of FARP (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Peru). There are also FARC branches in Venezuela (FARV – 2,000 members), Ecuador – FARE, and Brazil, FARB, where they operate in the Dog’s Head region.

In Peru, FARP is mostly in the northeast, but they have been spotted all the way down to Pucallpa. In contrast to often poorly equipped MRTA members, FARC members in Peru are extremely well-equipped, dazzling peasants with their gear.

Sendero’s numbers are vastly underreported. First of all, there is a huge network of the old Sendero, mostly gone to ground for many years now, often over a decade. They have not carried out attacks since 1993, but the government is still arresting them as members of an illegal organization. This is Abimael Guzman’s old group who are still loyal to Guzman. They seek a peace treaty with the state and to form a legal political party for the time being.

The other groups are mostly centered around the VRAE and the Upper Huallaga Valley to the north. The state usually says that there are 300 fighters total in these groups, but there are more than that. Recently they upped it to 600. There must be more than that even. In recent years, one person is arrested per day on charges of being members of Sendero Luminoso. So 350 Senderistas are arrested every year for several years now. In one year, the entire 350 man group would be arrested.

In recent years, Sendero has started coming back to some of their old hideouts. In 2003, they were recruiting again in Villa El Salvador, a huge slum in Lima. They are returning to many of their old haunts in Ayacucho. They recently made an appearance in Chuschi, where the revolution started in June 1980. They have also shown up in Cangallo. There have recently been arrests at the University of Huamanga in Ayacucho, where Guzman was a professor and where the revolution began. A huge march in the city demanded the release of several students arrested for being Senderistas.

Sendero has a presence once again in the Cuzco Region, mostly in the jungle in the west near Vilcabamba. They have shown up recently in Sicuani in the south of Cuzco in the high Andes. They once again have a presence in Huancayo, the mining village in Junin. They have been seen recently in eastern Ancash, where they had not been seen in years. This is probably a movement west from the Huallaga. Similarly, there have been a couple of sightings in eastern La Libertad near Tayabamba.

They have moved all through the Amazon to the area where Peru, Colombia and Brazil come together. These reports indicate that Sendero may even be present in the Dog’s Head in Brazil and in far southern Colombia.

The new Sendero has refused Guzman’s orders to surrender, lay down arms and seek peace. Since the state offers them nothing but arrests until they die, they may as well fight on. Why not? The VRAE and Huallaga factions are both now working very heavily with local cocaine traffickers. For this sin they have been heavily critiqued by the old Sendero as mercenaries. However, they are making a lot of money. They have brand new uniforms, new weaponry and have excellent gear.

Reports indicate that in the old days, Sendero was very brutal. Villagers said they killed people “for no reason.” Others say that they entered villages, stole whatever they wanted, and then shoot up the village if they refused to join the insurgency. Sendero’s brutal tactics were quite successful, but they also horribly alienated the poor peasants. Many are still angry to this day.

However, the new Sendero leaves the people alone, or, if they deal with them at all, is good to them. When they come into towns, they buy whatever they want, leave pamphlets, ask if anyone wants to join, and then leave. Most villagers have a positive opinion of them these days. Even the local rondas that Peru set up to fight Sendero (local village militias) refuse to fight them anymore. Sendero is now allied with other regional guerrillas and they have issued positive statements on the New Left movements in Venezuela, Bolivia and elsewhere. Previously, such folks were condemned as revisionists.

Bottom line is this is a much more reasonable organization. Whereas I used to hate them, now I support them 100%.

Here it is 30 years after Sendero started its war in Peru, and I hardly think Peru is any better off now than then. Peruvian capitalist society is just crap, and it seems to be unreformable. Let’s just get rid of it altogether and start anew.

It would be nice if a Peruvian Chavez would come along, but that’s not in the stars.

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FARC Branches in Other Parts of Latin America

FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), a very powerful guerrilla group, also has branches in other nations.

FARE (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Ecuador) operates in Ecuador, mostly in Sucumbios. See my other post for more on them.

FARB (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Brazil) operates in the Dog’s Head of Brazil on the Colombian border. They don’t do much there militarily as it is just a rear base. Mostly they resupply there from Brazilian merchants. The area is sparsely populated jungle. FARC also ranges across the northern part of Brazil all the way to the border of Brazil and Guyana, where they tax the gold mining businesses.

FARV (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Venezuela) is just the FARC in Venezuela. They have about 2,000-3,000 people under arms. It’s hard to say what they do there. It seems Venezuela is mostly a rear guard base, and Hugo Chavez definitely supports the FARC and leaves them alone in Venezuela.

Colombian paramilitaries are now starting to operate in the border area too, and things are getting messy. Also, about 200 peasants have been murdered by Venezuelan death squads in the past decade. The death squads are run by wealthy landowners, usually cattle ranchers, and opposition politicians. It’s really the Opposition who are the killers in Venezuela, not Chavez.

The killings stem from land conflicts, as most of the land in that part of Venezuela is owned by a tiny group of big landowners and most of the population are rural peasants. Peasants stage land takeovers in the typical Latin American style. Chavez has started to buy out some landowners and give land to peasant and Indian communities, but the process is slow.

FARV are mostly Venezuelans, a militia that is armed and pro-Chavez. They do little, but are mostly there in case of a rightwing coup or anti-Chavez invasion, in which case they will take up arms to defend Chavez.

FARP (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Peru): This is the FARC in Peru. They have been active down there for a few years now, mostly in the north around Loreto Province, but they have been active all the way down to Pucallpa in Ucayali. They use it as a rearguard base, but are also forming deep relations with the peasants. They buy stuff from peasants and give them things that the peasants need. They are quite popular in the area, whereas Sendero Luminoso were widely hated for their brutality against the poor.

In addition, FARP has recruited 1,200 new members all across Peru in the last few years. Many of these people are former Shining Path members who quit the group or were released from prison. They’ve soured on Sendero due to the brutal tactics and have taken up with FARP instead. FARP carries out no armed activities in Peru, though they are said to be very well equipped and supplied. They are also taxing coca crops being grown in the part of Peru right across the border from Colombia. This area is a wild jungle.

FARC in Panama: FARC has long used the Darien Gap region of Panama as a rear base. There are occasional shootouts with Panamanian security forces. There are now death squads in Panama murdering Indians for “cooperating with the FARC.” The FARC just stay in Indian villages and buy stuff from the Indians, that’s all. It’s just an R & R area.

FARC in Bolivia: There are rumors that the FARC has been in Bolivia training militias aligned with President Evo Morales, but there is no hard evidence that this is true.

FARC in Paraguay: There are allegations that FARC has helped train the EPP, a new Paraguayan guerrilla group, though there is no hard evidence.

FARC in Nicaragua: The FARC has a long relationship with the Sandinistas of Nicaragua. Large stashes of FARC money and guns have been seized there, but the FARC carries out no armed activities. Nicaragua is just used as a place to buy guns and amass funds.

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2 FARC Guerrillas Killed In Ecuador

Details on this incident are sketchy, but it looks like 2 FARC guerrillas were killed in a shootout with the Ecuadorian military in Sucumbios Province in Ecuador. There has long been a heavy FARC presence in this area, and they have a lot of support from the locals too. There are probably also Colombian paramilitaries in the area.

FARC in Ecuador is actually known as FARE (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Ecuador). They’ve had a presence there for a while now, but they don’t do much, especially with Leftist President Correa in office. I don’t know why Correa’s army is attacking the FARC, but he’s probably under pressure from Colombia. Colombia claims he supports and harbors the FARC, but that’s dubious. He’s just neutral.

Colombia, probably with US assistance, bombed a FARC camp in Ecuador in 2008, killing Raul Reyes, FARC’s leader, and some other top commanders. A laptop was seized, through which a tremendous amount of dubious information has been obtained, implicating everyone the Colombian Terror State hates with the FARC. But Interpol looked at the computer and said that Colombian security forces had tampered with it, so any information coming out of it is dubious.

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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.

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Anti-Black Racism In Ecuador

This link is from Niggermania, but the site is a good resource for learning about racism against Black people. I’ve found that the White racist sites are the most straight up honest about the low-down on how racist a place is. If a country or culture is racist as Hell against non-Whites, the racists love it and cheer it on. Cultures or nations that are more tolerant are routinely derided by the racists as PC, hopeless, brainwashed, nigger-lovers, anti-racists, liberals, etc.

Now, these guys have no reason to lie. If a place is racist and nasty, they come right out and say so. If a place is relatively tolerant, they think that sucks, and they call that out loudly. I have some commenters who insist that racists would see a very tolerant place as a viciously racist place. But why would they do that? They hate tolerant lands.

On the other hand, there is a serious problem with misrepresentation of nations by their nationalist citizens, especially Latin Americans, who don’t like gringos in the first place, don’t like to be compared to unfavorably to Gringo Americans. Many middle to upper class White or mestizo Latin Americans will insist that everything is groovy down there. Easy for them to say; they aren’t feeling any pain. But ask a Black Latin American, and you might get a different story.

Anyway, according to this link, 20 years ago (1990) there was de facto Jim Crow discrimination against Blacks in Ecuador. For all intents and purposes, Blacks were not allowed to serve as police or military officers. They were effectively barred from medicine, law and most other high-paying professions. Instead they were largely relegated to field work.

That’s a screwed up situation, and it would be interesting to see if it’s still going on.

Here is another post that talks about being a tourist or ESL teacher in Ecuador. Apparently being a temporary foreign worker or bucks up American tourist of any color is a different matter altogether down there.

Black American tourists are unlikely to encounter serious problems, and the scene on the beach is a lot of fun for Black people, with lots of Black Ecuadorians and Black Colombians hanging out at the discos and partying. It looks like the scene on the beach is different from the rest of Ecuador in that the Blacks have created their own reggae – party scene on the coast.

On the other hand, it’s perfectly possible for de facto wealthy American Blacks (if you have the money to travel to Latin America as a tourist, you’re a rich American in their eyes) to go to a country and have a good time while the native Blacks are still suffering serious institutional discrimination. That’s because the American’s skin tone is washed away by his Rich American image.

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