When Is It Going to Start Working Anyway?

A commenter asks:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When is it supposed to start working anyway?

Is the FARC Near Defeat?

This is not really the case.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The FARC, if anything, defends the people.

Here is what happens.

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

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

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

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

This is how it works.

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

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

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

Do the Rich Have Any Sense?

The thing about wealth redistribution is that it’s going to happen one way or another. All this blather about the end of history is elitist nonsense. History didn’t start with Marx. There have been peasant rebellions all down through history. Nothing new about a peasant revolt. People will only take so much crap, you know.

Wealth redistribution happens because the folks with a lot less deem it just. They deem their situation, starving and with nothing, to be unjust, no matter how many scams the rich come up to get them to accept things.

The rich have all sorts of tricks up their sleeves: They tell the poor that that’s just the way it is (religion or pie in the sky when you die) or that help is just around the corner (The latest scam – neoliberalism is always just starting to work – let’s just give it some time now!), that flooding the pockets of the rich with cash is the best way to help the peons (trickle down economics), that the party of the rich is the one that benefits the peons the most (the Republican line in the US – liberalism makes you poor).

You can only lie to people so much and for so long. Even idiots are not completely stupid, though Americans seem to be trying to set a record.

Wealth will be redistributed. Why? People don’t like to starve. You can tell people in a thousand ways that their starvation is inevitable or help is on the way or just give us time or God made them starve, but after a while, you can’t fool people anymore. When people are starving, those chickens and cows in Robert Taylor’s yard will be redistributed to folks who didn’t eat yesterday. If not peacefully, then violently. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

If the rich had any sense…

If the rich had any sense, they would spread stuff around a bit just to keep the kettle on and ward off a serious revolution where their head ends up on the chopping block.

But they don’t.

That is, the rich have no sense.

They always think that they can stay in power forever, and keep all their stuff forever. There is nothing more arrogant than a rich man. Revolution will never come, he says, and if it does, we will simply defeat it and not give up a dime.

During the Salvadoran Civil War, I studied Salvadoran politics. It was amazing to see. About 2% of the population ran the whole country, and had a huge army and police force who slaughtered anyone who peeped up and said no. The wealth redistribution was off the charts. The rich had it all, and 90% of the population was poor. About 8% were middle class, and they didn’t live very well.

Yet Salvadoran executive and legislative politics was a shocking thing. It was frankly a process whereby the Salvadoran elite was continuously trying to take wealth and land from the other 98% of the population. No matter how much they had, they always wanted more. I thought there wasn’t anything left to steal, but apparently I was wrong! Then I realized something: A rich man never has enough money. The life of a rich man consists of getting up every day and figuring out how to get even richer.

Even The New Republic Now Calls for a Party Purge of Corporate-owned "Centrists"

Even The New Republic Now Calls for a Party Purge of Corporate-owned “Centrists”, by Glenn Greenwald.
Greenwald is one of top liberal bloggers. His site is Unclaimed Territory and gets tens of thousands of hits a day. He was formerly a constitutional law and civil rights attorney, but his blog has been so successful that apparently he has mortgaged it into a writing career and left his lawyer job. He’s authored three books in the past three years and now gets regular writing gigs. It’s hard to believe that he’s making more money writing than practicing law! Here is his former blog, now moved to Salon. The guy made the bigtime with a Blogspot blog! Incredible.
I have not talked any about the health care debate, but I am sure that you know where I stand. Fully 72% of Americans support a public option, and that is what all the fight is about.
The pubic option is much misunderstood. It just means that you will have a choice to buy into a government run health program, which I guess will be something like socialized medicine, i.e. Medicare, Medicaid and that horrible health program that every Congressman has. I really favor single payer, and it’s the best program out there, but I guess it doesn’t have the votes.
The insurance-company run for-profit medicine system is shit. Michael Moore’s movie Sicko makes that quite clear. I don’t understand all these Whites yelling about how great health insurance is. I guess they have not yet gotten too sick or too hurt. After all, the shit insurance model is all based on making money off denying you care. The more care they deny, the more they make. The more care they approve, the less money they make. Now why would it be a good idea to be covered by private medical insurance, given that obvious capitalist reality?
If and when you get too sick or hurt that your insurance plan dumps you (matter of time for most of us), you will have to burn through every nickel you have and every tangible asset you own until you are so damn poor that you can go on Medicaid.
I guess conservatives think that’s cool? What’s so cool about that? I don’t have money or many tangible assets, but if I did, why should have to burn through all of them and go poor just because I get sick or hurt? Why would anyone with money or assets support such nonsense? Why not have the state pay for the care due to my injury or illness, and that way I get to keep all my money and stuff? Which is all conservatives care about anyway, money and stuff.
One big lie is that the public option will drive out all the private insurance companies. Lord, I wish it were true that anything would put this gang of thieves and vipers out of business, but surely a government plan would not.
Left unstated is why the public plan would theoretically put all the private folks out of business anyway. I mean, competition, right? If private insurance is so sucky that anyone with a brain would take off and go buy the public insurance instead, then according to market logic, the private entities deserve to die, right? That’s like Neoliberal Economics 101.
Anyway, there’s nothing to worry about. All you fools who so love your evil private insurance needn’t worry your little heads one bit. My understanding is that in most every nation that has socialized medicine (other than Communist countries), you can still go buy private insurance if you are stupid or masochistic enough. But indeed, my understanding is that hardly anyone does. Once again, if it’s so wonderful, why does hardly anyone buy it in states that have socialized medicine?
So with 72% support for a public option, Obama and the Centrist Dems are caving. How much support would be enough for them not to cave? 80%? 90%? I remember Bill Clinton used to regularly cave in and support issues that had like 2% support, like weakening clean water laws.
You see, as Greenwald points out, this is really all about money. Both parties are controlled by corporate interests, just the Dems somewhat less so. You get a Liberal Corporate Party and a Conservative Corporate Party. Turning the Dems into a corporate party was the brainchild of the Democratic Leadership Committee. Rahm Emanuel is the DLC point man for Barack Obama.
The idea was either Dems or Repubs take corporate money, and if we let the Republicans get the corporate money, they will win every time. If Dems take it too, then we at least get to win sometimes and can come in and kind of sort of maybe almost a little bit once in a while do piecemeal, half-assed reforms here and there.
A health care plan with no public option is shit. There’s nothing in it for me or anyone that I care about. All it does it force everyone to buy the evil called health insurance. If you’re poor or low income, the government subsidizes you so you can buy the shit called health insurance. How is that good for anyone’s health? It’s not. Supposedly it’s good for taxpayers, because we fork over lots of dough to serve the uninsured in emergency rooms. This way they have to buy insurance so we save. Whoop-te-doo.
What good is that? Everyone else is forced to buy this overpriced insurance poison, and many are going to go broke paying for it. If you don’t want to go broke, now the state will force you! Wow, such a wonderful plan. What it really is is the biggest piece of corporate welfare in the history of the US. So billions of working people’s ill-affordable dollars get shoveled to some of the most vile corporate slime in the country. Somebody show me the upside?
Greenwald’s post is interesting.
The New Republic is basically the liberal wing of the neoconservatives. The jerks who known as the Neocons, so prominent in the Bush Administration, are really just the rightwing of that movement. The liberal wing has similar roots as the conservative wing, coming out of the 1970’s, the aftermath of the Vietnam War and in particular the aftermath of the 7 Day War and 1973 Wars in Israel.
The liberal neocons are as Jewish as the conservative ones. These guys are basically the same “Cold War Liberals” as the neocons, but they did not go as far to the Right as the rest of them. TNR spent most of the 1980’s fulminating against the USSR, welfare, liberalism and Arabs while supporting genocidal Latin American regimes like the Salvadorans and of course, Israel.
I used to subscribe to this magazine, but finally I gave it up around 1983. I wasn’t hip to Jews yet, so the magazine mystified me. After it got taken over by uber Israel-firster Marty Peretz, he stacked it from top to bottom with liberal Jewish neocons. About half of every issue was about Jews, Jewry, Israel, Judaism, Judaica or whatever. Even the book reviews was usually some Jewish reviewer reviewing a book by a Jewish guy about Jews.
The whole exercise was one of endless Jewish solipsism. I read all this stuff at the time, but the solipsism never made sense. Only when I figured out Jews did I understand the solipsism. Jews are probably the most solipsistic humans on Earth, part and parcel of their hyperethnocentrism. To Jews, it’s all about the Jews. What’s all about the Jews? Well, everything, pretty much. They just can’t get enough of themselves.
Up until this year, TNR has continued to beat the drum for the Blue Dogs, the liberal neocons, the Democratic Centrists and other losers. Jew Lieberman or Joe Lieberman or whatever his name is is like God incarnate to TNR. SuperJew and Liberal Neocon Jonathan Chait is one of their top writers, and reading him gives you a good insight into the mindset of TNR.
Well, finally, even TNR has had enough with the Rahm Emanuel  – Barack Obama Centrist corporate controlled Democratic Party. They’ve become even too Republican-like for the original Democratic Centrists.
The about-face by TNR, among other things, shows there’s a liberal rebellion growing in the Democratic Party, and it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in a while.
Let’s water it well and let it grow.

For Justice, a River of Blood

Repost from the old site. Basically an argument for the “just war” concept.
Or at least a rivulet.
Abimael Guzman, imprisoned leader of the Shining Path guerrillas in Peru, famously said that for the revolution to succeed, “Peru would have to cross a river of blood”. Much of the civilized world was horrified by this bloodthirsty statement, but was he onto something?
I would argue that the vast majority of social progress achieved in the past 150 rivers has unfortunately occurred only after rivers of blood were shed. Or at the very least trickles. To but it bluntly, people had to die. They had to get hurt and die.
It’s sad that it has to be that way, but it seems that that is just the way it is. Powerful people do not give up stuff just because they wake up in a good mood one day or go to church, find God and start feeling guilty.
Here in the US, Blacks only gained their liberation in the context of a devastating Civil War in which 100,000’s of Americans shed their blood and lost their lives. Haitians only got rid of slavery by rising up and killing every single one of 25,000 Frenchmen on the island. For Algeria to blast free of colonialism and to shock the French out of the colonial habit, 1 million people, including 25,000 Frenchmen, died.
Britain only chucked colonialism after British soldiers died in Malaysia, India, Palestine and other places. Does anyone think even a modicum of a Palestinian state would exist had Palestinians not taken up the gun? Without the armed struggle of the Iraqi guerrillas, US troops would have overrun Syria and possibly Iran by now.
The Basque Country has the considerable autonomy it does today only after 800 Spaniards died in the ETA’s armed struggle. Land reform was only instituted in South Korea, Japan and Taiwan after the war to ward off the threat of Communism from North Korea and China.
Apartheid is gone in South Africa and one man one vote democracy is in its place for the most part only due to an armed campaign by the ANC stretching over decades.
US workers only got rights after bloody strikes in which workers were killed by goon squads.
The social market that James Schipper praised in Europe in earlier comments is also the project of massive labor union mobilization in Europe.
I would also argue that it was created by devastating the European Right, first by killing 10 million of them (10 million dead fascists in WW2), next by making rightwing ideology toxic for many years after the war, and finally by revolutionary pressure from the Far Left before and after the war, which led the business sector to seek out a class compromise and a social contract, mostly to ward off revolution.
Even the Swedish model mostly came into play in the 1930’s when the nation was wracked by violent, radical and revolutionary labor actions all up and down the land. This so rocked the business and ruling classes that the Swedish model was created as a lesser evil alternative to ward off revolution.
Most do not realize that Swedish society was not very liberal during the 1930’s. People are misled by the fact of Sweden’s neutrality in the war to think that Swedes themselves were neutral. Most of the middle classes and certainly the business classes were firm Nazi supporters. Furthermore, I understand that Swedish businesses continued to supply the Nazis well into the war.
In Costa Rica, radical pressure helped create Costa Rican social democracy, now deteriorating after Reagan ordered the Costa Ricans at gunpoint in the 1980’s to get rid of it.
After WW2, Costa Rica outlawed the Communist Party, killed 6,000 Communists, instituted a social democracy to buy off social unrest and got rid of the military as a rather interesting way to top it off. Without revolutionary pressure in 1946 and the bodies of 6,000 Communists, Costa Rican social democracy may never have occurred.
Mexico today has some semblance of socialism and a land reform that enables to poor to own small plots and at least survive and eat if they cannot find work only because 20 million Mexicans died during Pancho Villa’s revolution that put Mexican feudalism in the grave forever. Most do not realize that Mexico was actually a horrible and truly feudal society as late as 1910. Yet it was.
In the same way, in El Salvador now, one can at least farm a small plot, eat and survive, something often not possible before the Revolution started. For that meager reform, 70,000 people died and Salvadoran feudalism was crushed, possibly forever.
Lenin said power never gives up without a fight. And most social reforms in capitalism have come on the heels, tragically, of a river of blood. Or at least a small stream.
Without pressure from below by revolutionaries and radicals, it is uncertain how many of the progressive social contracts in place in the world would exist.

Revolution in the Land of the Savior

In 1989, I was helping to run guns for the FMLN, the Salvadoran revolutionaries, Commie scumbag that I am and all. I would drive to MacArthur Park in Los Angeles and meet the FMLN agent guy in the bar or whatever and hand him the cash with a conspiratorial smile. I guess it was legal then, but now it’s 10 years in the slammer thanks to George Bush. The War on Terror in so many ways is just a War on Justice.
I remember when I was going to USC in Los Angeles in 1983 at the height of the Salvadoran Revolution, there was a Salvadoran professor in our department who would periodically take off work and go down to El Salvador to actually put on a uniform and fight for the revolutionaries!
I was eating at a Salvadoran restaurant in San Mateo, California, in 2001, and I talked to the waiter. He said he left El Salvador in 1969. His parents went to the slums of San Salvador and said there were 12 year old boys walking around with AK-47’s. Sometimes revolution is just in the air you know? His parents saw the writing on the wall and put him on a plane to the US.
Ten years later, full-scale civil war exploded, after a decade of small-scale actions, mostly kidnappings for ransom and bank robberies by the revolutionaries to raise cash, and endless forays to the villages and slums by death squads to kill the people.
It was the twilight of the 1970’s, and the people had a choice. They could sit in their homes unarmed and wait for the government to come out and kill them, or they could at least take up arms to defend themselves when the government came out to kill them. Not much of a choice there. And so the war was on.
The Commie Moscow – Cuba – Banana Republic ratline conspiracy be damned; this is how most revolutions in Latin America started. If you’re gonna get killed anyway, you may as well go down in a hail of bullets trying to take some enemies down with you.


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