Posts Tagged ‘US Imperialism’

Bolivarian Revolution Unwinds, Another Victory for the Elites.

Monday, May 29th, 2017


Image from: Democracy and Class Struggle.

Venezuela, Bolivarian Revolution, and US Foreign AID
By Gary Crethers 5-12-17

The United States Foreign Policy has been consistently opposed to the political challenge to US hegemony in the western hemisphere represented by the Bolivarian Revolution. Just as the USA conspired with Saudi Arabia to cut the price of oil in the 1980’s and force the Soviet Union into effective bankruptcy, the USA has done its best to destabilize and destroy the Venezuelan government, since Chavez won the election and moved dramatically to alter the social conditions of the clear majority of Venezuelans. As it Taffet wrote “aid is rarely for the benefit of the poor …’The Alliance for Progress was not an economic program; it was a political program designed to create certain types of political outcomes’” (Taffet 2007, p. 10; Dominguez 2012). Development policy serves the aims of the global north and the large corporate and government entities particularly in this case that of the United States. Any aid that benefits the mass of the population is considered a social cost of doing business. Nelson Rockefeller said “’we must recognize the social responsibilities of corporations…If we don’t [speaking of US interests in Latin America] they will take away our ownership” (Grandin 2006, p. 30). Rockefeller’s advice was for the most part taken, and US corporate and governmental policy since the Monroe Doctrine was promulgated to promote United States hegemony over the western hemisphere, a warning to European powers to stay out, initially a policy more aspirational than real when it was announced by President Monroe in 1823, at the time reflecting more the general American fear of powerful European states interference in the affairs of the fragile democracies that emerged in the early nineteenth century in Latin America (Mariano 2011).

Historical Background

Venezuela itself the home of Simon Bolivar liberator of much of Latin America in the 1820’s from Spanish colonial rule, became the model for the modern Bolivarian movement with a mythology that has been utilized by the Chavez initiated Bolivarian movement, one that points the finger directly at the United States as the imperial power (Kingsley 2015). Located on the southern side of the Caribbean Sea, directly south of Cuba and Miami, it has presented a land of opportunity for US corporate interests especially with regards to its oil resource initially with the discovery of oil in 1918 foreign interests developed and controlled the oil wealth. In 1958 with the overthrow of a dictatorship and the establishment of a democratic government, the national oil company called Corporation Venezolana de Petröleo was established, Venezuela became a founding member of OPEC and further private development of the oil resource was prohibited (Faria 2008, p. 522).

Development Background in Latin America

The creation of the development community, although primarily a post-World War Two construction, goes back to the altruism of reformers in nineteenth century Europe that was a constant counterpoint to colonialism, both antagonistically and as a justification. The institutional mindset called the epistemic community by Haas described as a professional community with recognized expertise, and competence in a particular domain or policy area. But also more critically there is “a set of common practices associated with a set of problems to which their professional competence is directed” (Haas 1992, p.3). Specifically in the context of tropical medicine, Neill shows as an outgrowth of the European reform movement in the nineteenth century, an epistemic community developed with an altruistic belief in their ability to improve the health outcomes, and at the same time improve the backwardness of the community in which the colonizers found themselves (Hass 1992, Neill 2012, p. 6-7).

Washington Consensus, Neo-liberalism and Neo-structuralism

International development theory, in the post Washington Consensus environment of the twenty-first century has focused on presenting a kinder and gentler face of Neoliberalism. Smarting from the failures in Latin America and facing the election of many leftists who rejected the Neoliberalism of the Washington Consensus with its focus on restructuring the economies of Latin American countries by removing constraints on the flow of capital, privatizing institutions, allowing labor flexibility, and deregulating markets as well as reforming the remaining government institutions to make them business friendly. Rather than rethinking the nature of economic neoliberalism, and the Washington Consensus, a phrase coined by John Williamson in 1990, the post consensus development theory places emphasis on particularizing the form of intrusion, moving away from cookie cutter approaches to more individualized approaches that double down on the values, calling for more thorough and conscientious efforts at implementing reform (Bergsten 2003; Williamson 2003).


By Found on

As Bergsten put it “ it is high time the world moved on from tendentious ideological debates in which the Washington Consensus is caricatured as a neoliberal manifesto to a serious discussion of the new wave of reform the region needs to restart growth and make it more equitable than it has been in the past” (Bergsten 2003, p. vii-viii). Neoliberals betray a proclivity to determine the course of affairs in Latin America, while indicating the need for democratic reform their ideas do not imply a greater democracy, but a restriction of democracy to further implement neoliberal reforms. Regarding the developments in Venezuela, Williamson who after listing a litany of neoliberal reforms that further needed implementation in Latin American, bemoaned “political institutions that can allow a Hugo Chavez to capture control of the state and ravage an economy” (Williamson 2003, p. 13).

The “left turn” in Latin America that follows the neo-Structuralist model of post-neoliberalism proposed by the theoretical work by the United Nations initiated organization Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) based in Santiago, Chile proposed starting in 1990 that there would be an alternative to “savage capitalism” (Leiva 2008, p. xvii). With a mix of social equity, economic growth, and political democracy that would take advantage of globalism in the twenty-first century, especially, after the collapse of economies such as Argentina which had been the “poster child for the Washington Consensus,” the leftists swept into power at the turn of the twenty-first century presented an intellectual challenge to neoliberalism and the Washington Consensus. Neo-structuralism, the framework of this challenge to neoliberalism, as described by Leiva, viewed from the perspective of a Chilean who as a teen had lived through the Allende experiment, states “Latin American neostructuralism’s discursive potency derives from simultaneously being (1) an alternative vision to neoliberal dogmatism; (2) a comprehensive development strategy; (3) an integrated policy framework; and (4) a grand narrative about the path toward modernity that the twenty-first century offers Latin American and Caribbean societies” (Leiva 2008, p. xv, xix).


“Washington Consensus Cartoon” From

The debate between the neoliberal and neo-structural approach, perhaps a softer version of the cold war after the collapse of the Soviet Union, with the acknowledged dominance of the United States, meant that the struggle for control of the hearts and minds of the world had entered into a new phase. Cuba, with its older tradition of state socialism had to reposition itself and find alliances with states that would not interfere with the vision of socialism as elucidated by the Castro dominated Communist state. As Leiva put it “triumph of ‘a more pragmatic approach, a political economy of the possible’ has become the dominant trend in the Latin American continent, a direct result from the definitive defeat both of 1960s ‘good revolutionaries; and 1980s ‘well-intentioned free-marketeers’ (Santiso 2006, 8)” (Leiva 2008, p. xvii).

Bolivarian Development Model

The emergence of an alternative model in Latin America to the US dominated development market driven approach had been up until the collapse of oil prices a viable alternative. The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America was formed in 2004 by Cuba and Venezuela as an alternative to the development model being promulgated by the USA as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the proposed La Area de Libre Comercio de las Americas (ALCA). Originally the Cuban and Venezuelan organization was called the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas and the Caribbean, based in the models of structural development theory utilized by Raoul Prebisch former director of the UN Conference of Trade and Development (UNCTAD), which basically states that “underdevelopment is perpetuated by the pattern of international trade because raw materials and agricultural goods produced in the periphery – the underdeveloped countries – were worth less that the industrial goods imported from the ’centre’ – the advanced capitalist countries” (Cole 2010; Yaffe 2011, p. 130).


From Article by Joel Hirst

The dominance of the US and the major capitalist powers in the institutions primarily concerned with international development were perceived in many nations of the Global south to be more interested in developing markets for dumping western goods than for the actual development of the developing nations. The Bolivarian challenge sought to find means of coordination rather than competition, and was initiated by the Cuban and Venezuelan exchange of Cuban medical assistance for Venezuelan oil that was initiated in 2001 and finalized in 2004 with the formation of ALBA (Yaffe 2011, p. 134). Corrales take the view that Venezuela working with Cuba sees the use of the soft power of oil money to aid other countries that had become members of ALBA and others such as the CITGO discounted oil for poor USA consumers as being a third use of power as he states “social power diplomacy attracts allies because it provides governments with far more latitude in domestic spending than is the case with any form of Western aid. This domestic freedom produces close international ties” (Corrales 2009, 97-98; Vyas 2014). The use of social power perceived as a threat to US interests in the region added to the rationale for perceiving Venezuela and the Bolivarian project as an attempt not merely to offer an alternative to the capitalist neo-liberal model of development but also as a threat to US hegemony. Corrales describes it as part of a policy of “soft balancing” described as “a relatively new concept in international relations, referring to efforts by nations, short of military action, to frustrate the foreign policy objective of other presumably more powerful nations” (p. 98).

The consequences of what has been called the New Economic Model, the neo-liberal policy of economic stabilization, opening-up trade, privatization, and financial liberalization, leading to in the case of Latin America after the 1980’s debt crisis to deceleration of economic growth, increased unemployment, reductions in real wages, and reduction in social services. The negative effects of these initial phases in this neo-liberal approach must have a strong social welfare component to aid in the transition to the final phase of successful integration into the world economy according to Alejandro Foxley, minus that then the transition is likely to be fraught with political instability and the results may be derailed. The success of austerity must be predicated on the sharing of the burden fairly and the increase in social capital that gives citizens a sense of participation and not alienation from the process (Foxley 1996). This is no small order and has been an inconsistent model to say the least leading to reactions such as that of the Bolivarian proposal of Chavez and Castro.

Social Benefits under Bolivarian Rule

Gains made in the decade prior to the collapse of the Oil economy in Venezuela by the urban and rural poor, in terms of the increased standard of living has been threatened. But it is important to acknowledge that there were many benefits to the people of Venezuela because of the Bolivarian movement of Hugo Chavez and his successor Madero, as indicated by Dominguez, with poverty reduced from 44 percent in 1998 to 26.7 percent by the end of 2011, the highest minimum wage in Latin America, the eradication of illiteracy by 2005, primary education increased from 43 percent in 1998 to 71 percent in 2011, with the second highest higher education participation in Latin America and the fifth highest in the world (Cole 2012; Dominguez 2012, p. 106-107). Also the labor legislation had by 2007 become supportive of workers control of industries, although state run institutions resisted the idea (Azzellini 2017). Availability of computers with 1.6 million handed out by the state to primary education students (Dominguez 2012, p. 107), Public health care centers had increased from 5360 in 1998 to 7721 by 2011, with some 20 million Venezuelans having free health care, the government having increased funding to health care by 4000 percent and some 11 million receiving subsidized food at the government markets by 2011 (p. 107-108).


“Venezuela: Hugo Chavez’s six-year plan for the Bolivarian Revolution.” From LINKS

With all of these subsidies the question arose, were the people of Venezuela independent actors or the irrational followers of a charismatic leader? Lupien, doing field work in Venezuela reached the conclusion that the people of all classes were for the most part rational actors, with the bottom line of benefits from the government taking precedence over an irrational alliance with a charismatic leader (Lupien 2015).

Subversion of Reforms

The subversion of the reforms by the US particularly via organizations such as United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and National Endowment for Democracy (NED), has been addressed by Dominguez who writes that the main aim of these organizations has been to “distribute funds to pro-US groups (NGO’s, think-tanks, political parties, interest groups, private enterprise, private media outlets and the like)” (Dominguez 2012, p. 109). The Office for Transitional Initiatives (OTI), established in 1994, was established in the USAID to effect transitions for problematic governments (p. 109). The 2002 attempted coup in Venezuela, and the 2003 oil lockout organized by the opposition lasting over two months almost brought the economy to its knees (p. 110). Some $19 million was allocated by the US government to support the efforts of the opposition to remove the Bolivarian government in the 2012 elections (p. 112).

The Saudi’s allowed prices in oil to drop precipitously, were aimed at bringing discipline to the OPEC members that would especially affect the countries with few reserves to handle the blow of low oil prices, Iraq, Iran, and Venezuela in particular according to Goldwyn at the Atlantic Council although there are other theories, including at attempt to punish Russia, and Venezuela by the Saudis and the US. Another theory states that the Saudis were attempting to nip the US oil shale industry before the US became too energy independent, but in reality the recession and especially as the Chinese reduced demand as it slowed its own stimulus production (Goldwyn 2015).

Media Domination

Consider the domestic media in Venezuela where the media “Unable to discredit the results of the elections, the private media have sought to attack the legitimacy of these governments from below by framing their supporters as mindless followers or as dangerous, irrational mobs (Lupien 2013, p. 226). The US Media has not been particularly enthusiastic either. Shiller argues “rather than embrace dominant liberal norms, which hold that a “free press” requires autonomy from the state, community media producers in Caracas approach the state as a potentially liberatory process of collective engagement” (Shiller 2103, p. 540). Community control of media may have given the Bolivarian revolution an impetus in bypassing the conservative media controlled by financial elites who still dominate the mainstream market. But that can be a double edged sword if the community is unhappy with the powers that be.

Current Crisis

The Bolivarian Revolution was and remains, although it is facing severe strain both economically and politically as I write. The optimistic writing of the neostructural parties would seem to have faded as one left wing government after another has fallen, most significantly those of Argentina and Brazil. Honduras suffered and US backed coup and even Cuba is now negotiating with the US after the historic reopening of the US embassy under the Obama administration. The current situation in Venezuela in the spring of 2017 has become one of high drama, with the US media reporting on violent protests against the Maduro Government. “On March 29, Venezuela’s highest court ruled that it would take over the legislative powers of the National Assembly, the country’s opposition-controlled Congress. The move by the Supreme Court, which was stacked with Maduro-allies during the last session of the National Assembly before it fell in opposition hands, sparked fierce condemnation from activists, international powers and even supporters of President Maduro” (Gordts 2017, n.p.; Cahill and Saravia 2017).


Opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro demonstrate in front of riot police in Caracas on January 24, 2015 (AFP Photo/Federico Parra) From:

The Constitutional crisis with the take-over of the parliament by the judiciary would seem to be more suspect as the opposition mobilized its forces, but due to the lack of credibility of the Morales government, there has been little support in the US on the left for the Regime. Recent events in Venezuela, with protests on the streets due to food shortages, the suspension of the National Assembly, and the packing of the Supreme Court by President Maduro, where even critical left supporters such as Noam Chomsky, bemoan the lost opportunities in Venezuela, make such statements such as that of Shiller seem utopian (Lange-Churion 2016). As Chomsky said in a Democracy Now interview:

Venezuela is really a disaster situation. The economy relies on oil as to a great—probably a greater extent than ever in the past, certainly very high. And the corruption, the robbery and so on, has been extreme, under the—especially after Chávez’s death… there are hopes and possibilities for reconstruction and development. But the promise of the earlier years has been significantly lost (Chomsky 2017).

The reality on the ground as even the left admits is dire. How did the dreams of Chavismo succumb to such a crisis? The American and Saudis sponsored dip in oil prices, aimed primarily at Iran and Russia affected Venezuela to a much greater extent, even while the USA has continued to receive some 17 percent of its oil from Venezuela, a business partner despite the attempted coup of 2002, and the declaration by the Obama administration in 2015 that Venezuela was a national security threat. Lange-Churion calls the ruling elite corrupt, and inept, and unlike Chomsky who had felt that Venezuela under Chavez was making progressive strides, Lange-Churion sees the corruption going back to Chavez and his cronies (Lange-Churion 2017). The lack of foodstuffs, and medicines in Venezuela that resulted from the collapse of oil income at about the same time as Madero took office in 2013, combined with the impact of rampant 800 percent inflation, has led to members of the poorer classes joining in some of the protests against the government as they see their interests being unmet by the government (Cahill and Saravia 2017).


The Bolivarian regime is under assault as this paper is being written. The evidence presented shows that although the government has struggled to provide services for the vast majority of the public, the dependence on oil and the subsequent collapse in the prices of oil left the regime overextended and without adequate financial resources to weather the reduced prices. The administration may not have been responsible for the collapse in oil prices, but it did not plan ahead adequately. But this financial situation could be mitigated if the country had adequate aid from the largest customer of Venezuela, the USA. The US policies, in particular its aid policies show that the US punishes regimes it finds politically threatening to the US leadership in the Western Hemisphere and the Caribbean basin in particular, especially in the case of Venezuela with the support of the attempted coup in 2002 to overthrow the Chavez led government, with that the gloves were off and since that time it has been clearly US policy to remove the Bolivarian government with direct aid via agencies that are intended to support the growth of democracy, focused on overthrowing the elected government (Grandin 2006; Taffet 2007; Cole 2012; Dominguez 2012).
Lupien wrote media supportive of the US position present a “portrayal of supporters of “bad left” governments as ignorant, illegitimate, and potentially dangerous. Supporters of leaders such as Hugo Chavez (Venezuela) and Evo Morales (Bolivia) are supposedly easily bribed into mindless loyalty, are tricked into trading democracy for handouts, are poorly informed and emotional rather than rational actors, and are likely to engage in violence” (Lupien 2013, 227). The use of foreign aid as a weapon of policy, in conjunction with the use of media, and economic sabotage, as well as covert warfare, it can be seen that those who would challenge US hegemony do so at their own risk. The Monroe Doctrine conception of the Western Hemisphere as the special sphere of United States influence remains alive and well despite more recent attention by the US in other parts of the world (Taffet 2007; Grandin 2006, Dominquez 2012).



Works Cited

2003. After the Washington Consensus: Restarting Growth and Reform in Latin America. Washington, DC: Institute for International Economics.
` - Bergsten, C. Fred. 2003. Preface. After the Washington Consensus. P. vii-viii.
- Williamson, John. 2003. Overview. After the Washington Consensus. P. 1-19.
Cahill, Petra and Laura Saravia. Venezuela Protests and Economic Crisis: What Is Going On? NBC News. May 6, 2017. crisis/amp/venezuela-protests-economic-crisis-what-going-n755306
Chomsky, Noam. Interview by Goodman, Amy & Juan Gonzalez. Full Interview: Noam Chomsky on Trump’s First 75 Days & Much More. Democracy Now!, The War and Peace Report. April 4, 2017. Accessed transcript April 11, 2017, _on democracy
Cole, Ken. 2010. The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America Part I: Knowledge is What Counts. International Journal of Cuban Studies. 2, no. 3: 249-264.
Corrales, Javier.2009. Using social power to balance soft power: Venezuela’s foreign policy. The Washington Quarterly 32, no. 4: 97-114.
Dominguez, Francisco. 2012. Venezuela: another good example under threat. Soundings 51, no. 51: 101-114.
Faria, Hugo. 2008. Hugo Chávez Against the Backdrop of Venezuelan Economic and Political History. The Independent Review. 12, no. 4: 519-535.
Foxley, Alejandro (1996) Preface. The New Economic Model in Latin America And Its Impact on Income Distribution and Poverty. Ed. Victor Bulmer-Thomas. London: Palgrave Macmillan in association with Institute of Latin American Studies University of London. p. 1-6.
Goldwyn, David L. Here’s Why Saudi Arabia Has Let Oil Prices Fall—and Why They Could Revive by Year’s End. The Atlantic Council. January 20, 2015. prices-fall-and-why-they-could-revive-by-years-end
Gordts, Eline, 10 Days of Unrest in Venezuela Come to A Head in Massive Protest. Huffington Post (04/09/2017). Accessed April 10, 2017
Grandin, Greg. 2006. Empire’s Workshop Latin America, The United States, and the rise of the New Imperialism. New York: Metropolitan Books.
Haas, Peter M. 1992. Introduction: Epistemic Communities and International Policy Coordination. International Organization. 46, no. 1: 1-35.
Kingsbury, Donald V. 2015. Bolívar as Precursor: Contested Mythology, Social Movements, and Twenty-first-century Socialism in Bolivarian Venezuela. Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies. 1-14.
Lange-Churion, Pedro. (May 20, 2016), Venezuela and the Silence of the Left. Counterpunch. Accessed April 10, 2017. silence-of-the-left/
Leiva, Fernando Ignacio.2008. Latin American Neostructuralism: The Contradictions of Post- neoliberal Development. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Lupien, Pascal. 2013. The Media in Venezuela and Bolivia: Attacking the “Bad Left” from Below. Latin American Perspectives. 40, no. 3: 226-246.
Lupien, Pascal. 2015. Ignorant Mobs or Rational Actors? Understanding Support for Venezuela’s “Bolivarian Revolution”. Political Science Quarterly. 130, no. 2: 319-340.
Mariano, Marco. 2011. Isolationism, Internationalism and the Monroe Doctrine. Journal of Transatlantic Studies. 9, no. 1: 35-45.
Neill, Deborah, J. 2012. Networks in Tropical Medicine Internationalism, Colonialism, and the Rise of a Medical Specialty 1890-1930. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Taffet, Jeffery. F. (2007). Foreign Aid as Foreign Policy: The Alliance for Progress in Latin America, New York: Routledge.
Schiller, Naomi. 2013. Reckoning with Press Freedom: Community Media, Liberalism, and the Processual State in Caracas, Venezuela. American Ethnologist. 40, no. 3: 540-554.
Vyas, Kejal. “Venezuela Cancels Plan to Sell US Oil Refiner Citgo; Earlier this Year Officials Indicated they were Looking to Sell Citgo for Up to $10 Billion.” Wall Street Journal (Online), Oct 26, 2014. Accessed 3/13/17.
Yaffe, Helen. 2011. The Bolivarian Alliance for The Americas: An Alternative Development Strategy. International Journal of Cuban Studies. 3.2 & 3.3 p.128-144.

Post Modern World At War

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

The US as the only world super power, leaves anyone who is opposed to the United States with limited options. The US has inherited the Roman Imperial Power, directly since handed over by the British and the French after the Second World War, willingly by the British who felt they were incapable of sustaining a series of wars in their colonies while the home populace was exhausted by 6 years of war. The French on the other hand had to be convinced and after a series of debilitating wars in Vietnam and Algeria, De Gaulle was the one who reluctantly admitted that the US was the power.
Communists in Russia, China and smaller countries around the world were willing to give the US a run for the money in world domination. But the Soviet Union had been exhausted by the battle with the Germans more than any other power in the world.
At first getting a boost from the technology captured from the Germans they were able to gain the great equalizer, the atomic bomb. That and being half way decent poker players, they were able to bluff the US into not attacking them outright as generals like Patton and Le May wanted to do right after victory over the Germans and Japanese.
But having a point with which to make their case, in the colonial exploitation of the third world by the British and the French, the Soviets were able to ally themselves with national liberation fronts around the world. Ho Chi Min for example asked for American support back in 1944. When the Roosevelt did not follow up and the Soviets did, the Vietnamese decided that the Communists were more reliable allies. Castro went through a similar process in Cuba; Eisenhower decided he had more interest in a few multi national corporations being nationalized by the Cubans, instead of the new idealists in charge. Greed on the part of the US in Cuba, and an alliance with De Gaulle in the case of Vietnam, tied the US to policies that harmed the ability of the United States to become allied with these successful nationalist leaders. They became Communists because there was no other world power to turn to.
With the demise of the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s, there was no place to turn to for insurgents who were serious about regime change in their countries but to illicit funding. The FARC became involved with the drug trade and kidnappings. The IRA had their rich relatives in the US to hit up for support, and when that failed there was the combination of drugs, kidnapping and bank robberies. In the middle east, particularly in Afghanistan the mujahedin were supported by the rich Saudis and the US while the Soviets still provided a target, once they were gone, there was no reason for the US to use these Guerrilla fighters, except in Bosnia where they were allowed to aid the government against the Serbians. But the rest of them were left to their own devices and before long they were in a war with their former allies, the United States.
How did this come about? How did a force of our own creation go from freedom fighters to international terrorists? Some would say that they were hijacked by radical fundamentalist Moslems like Osama Bin Laden and the Egyptian theoreticians of the modern day Jihad. Some of it could also be a result of the US bias in supporting Israel against the interests of the Palestinians. Another is the Saudi ruling family’s insecurity in their own country, which have depended on United States for military support made most evident when Saddam Hussein attempted to recover the province of Kuwait but was thwarted by the invasion by Bush Senior a close friend of the Saudi royal family. That became the excuse for serious US intervention in the Oil bread basket of the world. Now there were troops stationed in the land that houses the heart of the Moslem religion. This gave Moslems the world over a reason to suspect that the US and Israel were working out some international plan to take the greatest source of wealth the Arab and Moslem peoples had, their oil.
This is something that the peoples of the United States do not appreciate. We blithely send out military around the world to protect our interests without considering what this would do to the peoples in these lands. The US has never been occupied once the British left due to the expense of fighting the French and their allies around the world in the 18th century. A period of over two centuries has left the US with no experience of occupation. Citizens of most of Europe have in recent historical times experienced the occupations of the Germans, and the Russians. Much of the rest of the world had been occupied but the Europeans and used as sources of cheap labor and raw materials on the one hand and as the dumping grounds of excess agricultural and industrial production. The citizenry of the US had only the experience of dominating others. Only the black descendents of slaves, the descendents of the conquered indigenous peoples and the recent Spanish immigrants from economically depressed neocolonial states would be in a position to comprehend the states of alienation and resistance that would be natural to conquered or occupied peoples.
The Jews of Israel would have strong reminders in their own experience with the German attempts at extermination. That would explain why they overreact to the Palestinian resistance. To them any resistance is a threat to their survival. For a people so recently driven to the brink of extinction, there would be little psychic tolerance for nuanced dealings with other peoples, especially when they are being told that they want to drive you into the sea.
On the other hand the US, not having any such experience, its memory would react to any attack as something akin to Armageddon. The British and the Spanish saw the terrorist assaults as a police problem. They had subways and trains blown up in their capital cities. They did not panic and declare war.
The United States, after 911 did not respond rationally, treating the small band of terrorists as a police problem as they should have been. One can say that a cynical President and his buddies in the Oil business and the Military Industrial Complex saw this as an opportunity to revitalize the military that had become somewhat moribund with the so called peace dividend brought about by the demise of the Soviets, largely a result of their recognition that their system was inefficient, unpopular and corrupt. Gorbachev tried to revitalize and reform it but too many people had lost faith in the system and even though communism is morally superior to capitalism as a system, because of the centralization of power, it corrupted the men in control and the corrupt do not believe in their own system. The result was a leadership emulating their enemies in the west and in recognition of their hypocrisy they threw out their own baby with the bath water, leaving all the poor peoples of the world with no place to turn.
This surrender and collapse of the will left all the peoples of the world who needed an organized opposition to the ruling classes of capitalists, ultimately up the creek with out a paddle. Anarchists, long the poor relations to the communists, seen as being too idealistic and infantile picked up the revolutionary momentum and attracted the disaffected intelligentsia. But as anarchists had been in the minority for so long, they had not developed the cadre capable of taking up the struggle. In fact most of them became even more deeply enamored with intellectual obscurantism and instead of stepping up the challenge; they found themselves identified with Ted Kaczynski and other radical anti human intellectuals who took up the cause of other species. This might have been fine for the animals, but it was not something that the vast majority of humans could identify with. If that were so than the most vegetarian nation on earth India should have become Anarchists, they had Veganism, pacifism and direct action, a radical critique of human technology that would be inspirational to the home of Gandhi. But that was not the case.
India is like China in the throes of a radical modernization that is affecting approximately one fifth of the populace. That is about the same as the entire population of the United States. These are the intelligentsia and they are not interested in returning to the village, or to hunter gatherer lifestyles. For one, there is no open land without humans left in India, for another if they wanted to live like pre-industrial villagers all they had to do was to change places with their relatives. India wants modernization, without the violence and alienation that is rampant in the west. But they know what it is like to live in a pre-industrial world. It is all around them. Communism, with its emphasis on social organization is attractive to intelligent Indians. But they are not attracted to anarchy.
So what has happened in the US, we see at anarchist conferences a disputation over technology, akin to the Man of La Manta and his attempts to restore the values of Chivalry in modernizing Europe? Tilting at windmills is not the answer, it wasn’t then and it isn’t now.
But back the other problem being faced by the dominant power in the world. While it’s radical community dithers over whether or not to eat parts of cows or parts of corn, the ruling class has been able to take the marginal elements of the working class and turn them into the new centurions. The modern army of the US is more like that of the Roman Empire than of the Roman Republic. These are not citizen soldiers taking up the gun when needed and then returning to the plow. Instead they have a professional force, isolated from the rest of the citizenry, paid and trained as a mercenary force. In fact now there are private corporate armies being formed that would be able to replace the state run institutions that have to obey pesky international codes of conduct. A private army would be able to operate much as private security guards. As we have seen in Iraq where they now comprise half of the occupying force, they are above their law and a force that is beyond the Geneva Convention, outside of the rules set down in the Treaty of Westphalia, a force that can be utilized in the most barbaric manner, a force adapted to a post national world, where the ideals of a United Nations has faded to that of a world of Multi national corporations, where profit is the sole concern and a soldier is trained to fight more as a gladiator, than as a soldier.They are more like the medieval knighthood and their bands of serfs than the legionaries, with their state structure providing a systematic methodology of war. But this is an emerging possibility, not a dominant reality.
We still have the nation state, we have the United States attacked by a band of terrorists overreacting and invading two countries, one Afghanistan, a land of tribal warriors who have ground up the armies of Russia, Britain and the Moguls. Only a military commander as brilliant as Alexander was capable of realizing that intermarriage was the only way to gain the loyalty of these determined defenders of their kith and kin. The other is Iraq, the cradle of civilization, the land of Babylon and the home of Abraham and Noah. This is a place where every family not only has a gun, but a machine gun, something that even the American gun Lobby only dreams of. This is a land that is old, and yet sophisticated. Where blood feuds and extreme national pride have led the people to follow the plan of resistance developed by a dead dictator, someone the people were supposedly happy to be rid of. But as we can see they have simply maneuvered the US into a position where they have essentially picked the next president of the United States at the same time they work hand in glove with one of the members of Bushes Axis of Evil.
The people of the United States are not prepared for this level of sophistication. We declared war at the equivalent of a slap in the face, like a Cavalier might have when faced for the first time by the imposing will of an intelligently ruled state, the first in generations when Louis the 14th managed to turn these primitives living in their isolated castles into the dilettantes who fought over the privilege to spend their wealth on finery in the social struggle for eminence at Versailles.
The United States is in a similar situation. It can move into the next level of civilized conduct as the French nobility did in the 17th century, or they can move further in this self destructive path in which a great country devolves into a feudal state of multinational corporations. Do we fall into a Polish like state of regionalism, or do we emerge as the beacon of light on the hill, with our own Sun King, like ruler. Certainly it isn’t McCain, could it be Obama? If he insists upon this war in Afghanistan he had better be ready to have his troops intermarry with the locals. Otherwise he can only look for frustration in that land.
Legalization and decriminalization is the path for drugs that will turn the FARC to a peaceful party similar to what happened in El Salvador or Nicaragua. The Taliban will no longer find the drug lords as such easy allies and will have to become a popular force, or disappear from the scene. But we cannot win militarily in Afghanistan, not unless we are willing to make peace with Iran and occupy Pakistan. We shall see what happens in the next few months if Obama has truly new ideas, or if he simply repeats the same line as has been mouthed at least since Carter gave up on reform in the middle of his presidency.
Will the radicals in the US take a more intelligent path and drop the primitivist, punk rock youth rebellion and become serious as an alternative? Or will there be a resurgence of a more chastened Marxist left? We shall see. Now let us turn to another story about drugs. The ridiculous war on drugs being conducted by the DEA and other portions of the militarized civilian agencies, have made William Boroughs into a prophet for our times.

“Cocaine Sustains War Despite Rebel Losses in Colombia
Scott Dalton for The New York Times
Eradication efforts elsewhere have pushed coca cultivation into rural El Rosario, where workers processed coca leaves recently.
Published: July 27, 2008
PASTO, Colombia — Along with Colombia’s successes in fighting leftist rebels this year, cities like Medellín have staged remarkable recoveries. And in the upscale districts of Bogotá, the capital, it is almost possible to forget that the country remains mired in a devilishly complex four-decade-old war.
But it is a different story in the mountains of the Nariño department. Here, and elsewhere in large parts of the countryside, the violence and fear remain unrelenting, underscoring the difficulty of ending a war fueled by a drug trade that is proving immune to American-financed efforts to stop it.
Soaring coca cultivation, forced disappearances, assassinations, the displacement of families and the planting of land mines stubbornly persist, the hallmarks of a backlands conflict that threatens to drag on for years, even without the once spectacular actions of guerrillas in Colombia’s large cities.
“The armed groups are like malaria, evolving to resist eradication and killing with efficiency,” Antonio Navarro Wolff, governor of Nariño and a former guerrilla from the defunct M-19 group, said in an interview. “If anything, Nariño shows the guerrillas may have lost their chance for victory but not their ability to cause suffering.”
Today, a dizzying array of armed groups lord over the farmlands of Nariño. These include not only leftist guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, but also right-wing militias operating under names like the Black Eagles or the Peasant Self-Defense Forces of Nariño.
Their presence reflects the symbiotic nature of the armed groups and the drug trade, each drawing strength from the other.
In Nariño, flanked by the Pacific Ocean on the west and Ecuador on the south, coca growers have nimbly sidestepped almost a decade of fumigation efforts by reorganizing industrial-size farms into smaller plots that are much harder to find and spray from the air. They are taxed and protected by forces on the various sides of the conflict.
The United Nations reported in June that coca cultivation in Colombia surged 27 percent in 2007 to 244,634 acres, the first significant increase in four years. Nariño had the largest increase of any Colombian department, an administrative district, up 30 percent to 50,061 acres.
The expansion has allowed Colombia to remain by far the world’s largest coca producer and the supplier of 90 percent of the cocaine consumed in the United States.
It has also made the drug-fueled conflict a resilient virus in large pockets of the country, with double-digit increases in coca cultivation in at least three other departments, Putumayo, Meta and Antioquia. In Nariño, almost every week, government officials, Roman Catholic leaders or aid workers report actions by the rebels or paramilitary groups.
Nationwide, the FARC still collects $200 million to $300 million a year by taxing coca farmers and coordinating cocaine smuggling networks, according to Bruce Bagley, a specialist on the Andean drug war who teaches at the University of Miami.
That is down from $500 million earlier this decade, Mr. Bagley said, but it is still enough to finance the FARC after recent desertions and killings that have thinned its ranks to about 9,000 from 17,000.
Similarly, while the FARC’s share of the cocaine trade has declined, Colombia’s share of the world cocaine production has remained stable at about 60 percent. That means opportunities for new players like Colombia’s resurgent right-wing militias and small-scale armed gangs taking the place of disassembled cartels.”

The article goes on and you can find it at the NY Times site. But again what we see is that drug production has continued and will do so for as long as it is illegal and there is demand in the industrialized and alienated north. With no rational alternative system of beliefs, people fall into despair. Anarchists and other radicals should be offering intelligent alternatives, not a return to the Neanderthal world. It is more a sign of deepening despair than one of the victory of the libertarian communists.

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