Archives | 2012 March
>You said it’s OK to arrest journalists for no real crime. I never saw the point in lying about what another person said or believes. What on earth are you hoping to accomplish by putting words into my mouth? One day I hope you will learn how to have an honest exchange with someone with whom you disagree. Until then, conversing with you is a complete waste of time.
Counterpunch is not an "adequate source", you say. And yet it is still many times more credible than the conservative weblogs and political magazines that you cite. In any case, you seem more than capable of refuting the substance of the article, rather than impugning the reputation of the editors of the magazine in which it appears. You could even google the right-wing talking points for the trial being mentioned. I enjoy debating on reddit as much as anyone, but there are some people with whom fair exchanges are impossible. That is the case here, not only because neither of us will recognize the other’s sources as legitimate. For some reason you assume incorrectly that my intention is to defend or excuse every instance in which the Cuban government has arrested and in some cases imprisoned ‘journalists’. If you read another one of my earlier comments from the same thread, you will see I concede the possibility that a journalist may be wrongfully accused of being a ‘mercenary’ by the Cuban government. I do not deny or excuse any wrongdoing on the part of the Cuban government; but contend, merely, that the U.S. government, by deliberately targeting Cuban journalists for recruitment, bears a large part of the responsibility for inciting the Cuban government’s destructive paranoia.
Who said everyone ever arrested in Cuba was truly guilty of committing a crime? It is unlikely, in my opinion, that every journalist ever arrested in Cuba was actually acting as an agent of the U.S. government. But that’s my point: it is to propagate this false perception that the Cuban government is cracking down on innocent journalists that that U.S. government has been, for over fifty years, deliberately recruiting Cuban journalists! And what kind of bullshit is it to demand evidence outside government sources, when that’s how every criminal trial in the world operates? Since when have we made that a standard of justice for the world, there’s not a country in the world that complies. The last time journalists were arrested in Cuba was 2008. For evidence, outside the Cuban government, that the U.S. government was engaging in paying off journalists around this time, see the following U.S. media reports: * [U.S. Paid 10 Journalists for Anti-Castro Reports](http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/09/washington/09cuba.html) (2006) * [The Federal Government Paid Journalists to Sabotage Trial](http://www.counterpunch.org/2010/06/04/the-federal-government-paid-journalists-to-sabotage-trial/) (2010)
Those so-called Cuban "journalists" were not imprisoned because they "simply printed stuff the government did not like" but because they were *being paid illegally by the U.S. government to spread false information and fuel discontent with the purpose of subverting the Cuban government*. The U.S. government deliberately recruits journalists not only because they occupy positions of influence, but also because, even when these mercenary ‘journalists’ are discovered, it looks bad for the Cuban government to be cracking down on them!
You are an asshole. lol Sorry. I had to let off some steam because I’m frustrated. I am frustrated because, whether you know it or not, you are perpetuating a great lie. It’s not a lie, exactly, but it is deception nonetheless, because (again, whether you know it or not) you are calling us to look at only a small part of a much bigger picture. I am not an expert on Cuba, but I do have some idea of what this ‘bigger picture’ looks like, and so I only ask that you open your mind to this larger perspective. I would like to explain as best I can why it is short-sighted for you to regard the Cuban government as a "regime that oppresses free speech and access to media". The truth is actually rather twisted. First, a correction. The statistic you cite–that Cuba is 2nd only to China with regard to its number of imprisoned journalists–is outdated; it [relates to a period in 2008](http://cpj.org/2009/02/attacks-on-the-press-in-2008-cuba.php), when a series of arrests were made. (Make a note of this date.) By 2011, all of these imprisoned journalists were released (not sure if their sentence was up or what). The statistic is no longer correct. Second, a clarification. These journalists were *not imprisoned because they were ‘journalists’*–that is to say, because they wrote something the Cuban government did not like–but rather **because they were being paid illegally by the U.S. government** to spread false rumors and fuel discontent for the purpose of subverting the Cuban revolution. It is a well known secret that the U.S. government has been consistently recruiting Cubans (notably journalists and others in positions of power) to act as agents and informants for the US, in exchange for money and favors, for over fifty years now. It was discovered long ago that this was a perfect ‘win-win’ situation for the U.S. Because whenever the Cuban government found out about this, and reacted by arresting, putting on trial and imprisoning these journalists, international human rights groups and many liberals who may have once been sympathetic to the Cuban revolution began to criticize the Cuban government for *seeming* to crack down on freedom of the press! There is [ample evidence, if one bothers to look around](http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/09/washington/09cuba.html), that the U.S. government was still engaged in the dirty business of paying off journalists to spread false stories–and, [in at least one case, to sabotage a trial against five Cuban intelligence officers inside the United States](http://www.counterpunch.org/2010/06/04/the-federal-government-paid-journalists-to-sabotage-trial/)–as recently as 2006 and 2010, the same years when the Cuban government was cracking down… In 2006, [the Miami Herald chief resigned in shame](http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2006/oct/03/pressandpublishing.cuba) after revelations that journalists on his staff "had been paid by the U.S. government to help undermine Fidel Castro’s Cuban regme". Now suppose an independent Cuban journalist, who had not been taking bribes from the U.S. government, is wrongfully accused of acting as a "mercenary", as they are called? Surely some of the blame for this would lie with the Cuban government; but doesn’t the U.S. bear a large part of the responsibility? The truth is that the greatest threat to freedom of the press in Cuba comes from the United States, [not the Cuban government](http://dissidentvoice.org/2008/05/cuba-supports-press-freedom/). (And, "freedom of the press" should not mean "freedom" to allow a foreign government to bribe journalists and fuel subversion…) I don’t mean to suggest that all this excuses everything the Cuban government has ever done. All governments have blood on their hands, and Cuba is no exception. But I am convinced that the only way to understand Cuba over the past 50 years is to view it the way Castro has, as a "[bulwark](http://www.frontlineonnet.com/fl1602/16020590.htm)" against the onslaught of the capitalism system (‘which has turned the planet into a giant casino’), which has managed to preserve the revolution–and its egalitarian and socialist values–against "aggression, blockade, and economic, political and ideological war from the most powerful and richest imperialist power that has ever existed in the history of the world".
I do not believe that the people on reddit who do not "enjoy any connection between the words ‘good’ and ‘Castro’" are likely ever to have "dealt with Castro and his influence"–which you are stating as the cause of their non-enjoyment. Maybe a handful of people here, at the most, had grandparents who "dealt with Castro" in the sense that they fled to Miami when the government began to expropriate the mansions of the much-despised wealthy landowners, investors, and bankers, who also bore zero connection to the word ‘good’. It is many times more likely, in my view, that those here who dislike Castro do not like him because of what he symbolizes: the continuity of a revolution whose egalitarian values and socialist ideals they (for some reason) loathe and abhor, a revolution representing courageous resistance against U.S. aggression and domination, and the successful defiance of the most powerful and aggressive imperial nation in the world.
I cannot understand how there came to be a widespread assumption in the mainstream media, among news and political commentators, that the pope had the world historical role of striking a death blow to communism!
The opinion polls released over the past couple of weeks have differed quite a lot in their results. Let’s review: the article mentions that “three surveys earlier in March found Chavez’s support at between 52 percent and 57 percent, versus 22 percent and 34 percent for Capriles.” These surveys were conducted by pollsters considered by some to be sympathetic to the government. So let’s assume these numbers exaggerate the gap between the candidates.
The article also mentions that “only one recent poll [Consultores 21] has put Capriles anywhere near Chavez, by placing him just 1 percentage point behind”. (Capriles himself touted these results showing “a kind of a technical tie”–but the same poll shows Chavez’s advantage rises to 6 percentage points among people most likely to vote in the election.) It may not come as a surprise, however, to learn that some consider Consultores 21’s polling to be sympathetic to the opposition. So let’s assume that Chavez is still holding onto a small but sizeable lead.
Datanalisis, the polling firm that gives Chavez “a solid 13-percentage point lead”, is identified with the opposition, but it is still respected–its numbers are probably the most reliable indication of public opinion right now.
I am pleased by the news that the Venezuelan people are apparently still standing by Chavez and the revolution after thirteen difficult years. But Capriles is a good candidate. This is a close race, and it may get closer yet.
It would be hard enough claiming that the anarchists of Catalonia and Free Ukraine were *successful* in their surely noble endeavors, let alone claim that they were the *only* groups to have ever been successful…. The standard anarchist position (but historically, their defeat is a bit more complicated) is that these endeavors were defeated by Stalinist and Fascist forces in the Spanish Civil War, and the Reds and the Whites in the Russian Civil War.
Yes, I should have acknowledged that I am making a generalization about the influence of anarchism on various activist movements in the U.S. specifically. And I’m not saying this influence has been wholly negative. There is some debate among self-described anarchists: for example, between individualist (primitivist and post-left) and social (platformist) anarchists (this is another generalization, of course). I do not think anarchism has to be rejected necessarily in order for OWS to make some of the theoretical and practical changes I’ve suggested.
I’d like to point out the right-wing distortions present in article, with regard to the results of a newly conducted Venezuelan public opinion survey. As you begin reading, the first thing that you should notice is that the supposed "tie" between President Chavez and the opposition candidate, Henrique Caprile, is only a "technical" one (Chavez leads by a point, within the margin of error). As thin as the evidence of this supposed ‘virtual tie’ is, it dissipates into air when respondents are restricted to ‘likely voters’, those committed to voting in the election! (It is at this point that one ought to detect some distortion by right-wing media.) In case you’re still missing it, imagine that next week the media reports that "Chavez faces defeat in the election–unless one counts votes in his favor". But even if you read this far without finding anything suspicious, the last paragraph puts this study’s results in the context of four others, all of which were conducted during the same period, and all of which gave President Chavez "an advantage of between 18 and 33 percentage points over the opposition candidate".
You obviously have never been very ill and without access to health care.
>the far-left is absolutely obsessed with consensus process I agree that the "far-left" in this country *has become* obsessed with consensus model of decision-making, but it hasn’t always been–and it doesn’t have to continue to be–this way. It is *Anarchists* above all who are the ones obsessed with the consensus process, and anarchist theory and practice has historically come to dominate activist movements associated with the "far-left" in this country. I see anarchism in the U.S. as part of the *anti-communist* legacy of the Cold War, which not only marginalized the "far-left", but actually structured it as well. The far-left was permitted to exist here only insofar as it renounced certain practices that had been employed by earlier leftist or Marxist movements–the very practices that had a proven history of effectiveness and had already led to (relative) successes in other parts of the world. So in the U.S. the "far-left" distinguished itself by renouncing vanguardist approaches to social justice. It made a certain sense that the influence of anarchist theory and practice would flourish, in this small space in which "far-left" politics could exist only if it remained marginal and powerless. The anarchist’ consensus model is suited for times when expectations are low, when the fetishization of process and the quest for ideological purity reign. The future of the OWS movement will depend, in my view, on whether it can overcome these limitations that the "far-left" in this country has unconsciously internalized since the Cold War, and can learn to embrace–and to some extent re-invent–[earlier leftist or Marxist practices](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_centralism) which the "far-left" either abandoned or never accepted. In short, the problem is not that the OWS movement is too "far-left", but that the "far-left" isn’t "far-left" enough!
>Nothing in the article justifies the title. I’ll be happy to point out the right-wing distortions–present in the cited Fox News article–with regard to the results of a newly conducted public opinion survey. As you begin reading, the first thing that you should notice is that the supposed "tie" between President Chavez and the opposition candidate, Henrique Caprile, is only a "technical" one (Chavez leads by a point, within the margin of error). As thin as the evidence of this supposed ‘virtual tie’ is, it dissipates into air when respondents are restricted to ‘likely voters’, those committed to voting in the election! (It is at this point that one ought to detect some distortion by right-wing media.) In case you’re still missing it, imagine that next week the media reports that "Chavez faces defeat in the election–unless one counts votes in his favor". But even if you read this far without finding anything suspicious, the last paragraph puts this study’s results in the context of four others, all of which were conducted during the same period, and all of which gave President Chavez "an advantage of between 18 and 33 percentage points over the opposition candidate".
Who didn’t love Salvador Dali back in elementary school? Along with Picasso, his paintings assured us, when we were still learning how to hold a pencil straight, that our own artwork need not actually resemble the object or person that we were trying to draw in order to create something beautiful (as our Moms assured us). Sadly, I can no longer bear to look at his paintings, much less pay homage to his creativity and art, ever since discovering that **Salvador Dali was a fascist**. I find it truly disturbing that this "disgusting human being" (in George Orwell’s words) is still commonly portrayed and revered by many as *"a ‘rebel’, an ‘anti-establishment figure’ who stood up to the dominant forces of art"*–when, in reality, Dali was staunch and belligerant supporter of Franco’s fascist regime in Spain, one of the most repressive dictatorial regimes in the twentieth century. When Franco led a military coup against the Spanish Republican government, Pablo Picasso, a communist, took the side of the country’s democratic forces, and painted "Guernica" as an international symbol of the fight against fascism. In contrast, at the outbreak of war, Dali "scuttled off like a rat" (George Orwell), and, upon returning, applauded Franco’s brutal repression, and specifically congratulating his actions aimed at "clearing Spain of destructive forces". Dali also telegrams to Franco, praising him for signing death warrants for prisoners. [[All of the above can be found here, on Dali's wikipedia page](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvador_Dal%C3%AD#Politics_and_personality).]
I’m trying to find ones most likely to inspire OWS activists. Here’s one that that’s long been listed as my ‘favorite quote’ on my Facebook page. Debs is a goddamn American hero. >**I am opposing a social order in which it is possible for one man who does absolutely nothing that is useful to amass a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars, while millions of men and women who work all the days of their lives secure barely enough for a wretched existence**. But almost every [single quote on this page](http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Eugene_V._Debs) is an absolute gem. Worth reading them all. (Marxists.org has an [extensive collection of Deb's writings](http://marxists.org/archive/debs/). Now on my reading list.)
You should have throw out a [Debs quote](http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Eugene_V._Debs) to whet people’s interest. It’s difficult to choose just one. Lately I was impressed by this one: > If you go to the city of Washington, and you examine the pages of the Congressional Directory, you will find that almost all of those corporation lawyers and cowardly politicians, members of Congress, and misrepresentatives of the masses — you will find that almost all of them claim, in glowing terms, that they have risen *from the ranks* to places of eminence and distinction. I am very glad I cannot make that claim for myself. **I would be ashamed to admit that I had risen from the ranks. When I rise it will be with the ranks, and not from the ranks**.
What in "Chavez’s record" would make you wary about accepting protection from his government?
Although I support Chavez and would like to see him prevail in the upcoming election, I would never condone any attempt on the life of Capriles, the opposition’s presidential candidate and Chavez’s main political rival. There is no excuse for violence from either side of Venezuela’s political divide, against either candidate. So I am glad that Chavez has come forward and has sent government officials to meet with Capriles’s security team to share with them information that his government has received about an attempt on Capriles’s life. However, I am very concerned that Capriles has refused the government’s offer for protection because, if there should be an actual attempt on Capriles’s life, the President will be accused of having incited it, due to the existing hostility between government supporters and the opposition.
This man has done more damage to the philosophical foundations of socialism worldwide than anyone in the past decade. See [this critique](http://www.peopleofcolororganize.com/analysis/fetishizing-zapatistas-critique-change-world-power/), for example. (His "Changing The World Without Taking Power" is a prescription for an exercise in futility, for acquiescing to permanent powerlessness.) I’ll listen to this talk, but I’m in no hurry.
>>"Many Willing to Cut Afghan Shooting Suspect Some Slack". >Can you even imagine what would happen to someone who wrote or published an article like this about a Muslim killer of Americans?
I have written a long response that, for some reason, is not showing up on reddit, even when I divide it into two separate comments. So I’ve uploaded my response to my personal site at the following URL: http://riothero.com/files/ven28.19032012.html
The latest polls show Chavez in the lead, with one saying on Saturday that 56.5 percent of those surveyed planned to vote for the president, versus 26.6 percent for Capriles.
*OK, this is part two of my response.* I would expect that you would pay little attention to all this, and focus solely or entirely on the various allegations that Chavez’s government has in some way or another encroached upon the human rights of its citizens. Of course Chavez’s government has not yet been able to secure the all the human rights enshrined in the constitution–this has to do with the very nature of the 1999 constitution, which I’ll explain below. But first I want you to know that I take these allegations seriously, and believe that they deserve to be properly investigated–by more than just the international and foreign based organizations that are making them (by the National Assembly or another democratic institution inside Venezuela). It does seem that, according to the constitution, only the Venezuelan people or its representatives have the right to pass this kind of judgment–of whether the government has encroached upon the human rights of its citizens, so there would need to be some democratic means by which the people, or its representatives, could investigate allegations and examine the scale and nature of such encroachment. It should be noted that this endeavor is made more complicated by the fact that the 1999 constitution–[regarded as one of the most progressive in the world in the area of human rights](http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/70)–enshrines a much greater number of human rights, far beyond what most constitutions typically incorporate: not only are civil rights, such as freedom of expression, assembly, and political participation (and indigenous rights) included, but so are social human rights, such as the right to education, employment, housing, and health care. It is, of course, an obvious point that the Chavez government has fallen short of realizing all of these rights for every Venezuelan. The 1999 constitution must be understood for what it is: "[almost as much a *political program* as it is the country's basic *legal framework*](http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/1310)". That is to say, "in contrast to the past, "the current constitution *outlines a path* for development and for social justice in Venezuela. While many might complain that *the constitution is just a wish list*, it is actually more than that in the sense that it acts as a focal point for galvanizing the population in the pursuit of the concrete goals that the constitution outlines." Let me finish sharing my perspective on the constitution by quoting [Roland Denis](http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/1310): before Chavez’s rise to power and the 1999 constitution, revolutionary movements in Venezuela were "heterogenous, dispersed, fragmented. What united them was the project to develop a common foundation–that is to say constitution." >"Nobody had been able to centralize this movement around a program…. The constitution filled this emptiness. It is *simultaneously a political program and a framework for the future of the process*. In this sense, the constitution is not a dead letter. In it many values and principles are reflected. And it is a deeply libertarian and egalitarian constitution." OK, this is getting long, I’m getting distracted. >you could actually argue, with constitution in hand, that a coup is a method to defend the constitution. (Also look up article 333). Actually you couldn’t. OK, maybe *you* could, but no one would buy such an argument, certainly not the Venezuelan people. In my last comment I asked about the constitutionality of a coup leader like Pedro Carmona "order[ing] the dissolution of the National Assembly and the firing of all the member of the Supreme Court". If that was as far as Carmona had gone, *maybe* your argument that these measures were somehow necessary **to defend the constitution** *might* have stood a small chance. But I didn’t mention the full extent of Carmonas decrees; please forgive me for citing Wikipedia’s article on Pedro Carmona: >Su primer decreto consistió en la derogación de la Constitución de 1999 y las 49 leyes decretadas por Chávez en el marco de la Ley Habilitante (Artículo 9°), disolvió los demás poderes públicos, el Tribunal Supremo de Justicia, la Fiscalía General de la República, la Defensoría del Pueblo, el Consejo Nacional Electoral, la Asamblea Nacional (Artículo 3°), la Contraloría General de la República; declaró ilegal el marco jurídico vigente que colindara o chocara con el decreto (Artículo 10°), cambió el nombre del país a "República de Venezuela" (Artículo 2°), creó un consejo consultivo de 35 integrantes asesor del presidente, se facultó para remover autoridades electas en el nivel nacional, estatal y municipal (Artículo 7°) y puso fin al convenio de cooperación con Cuba, mediante el cual Venezuela proporcionaba 55.000 barriles diarios de combustible con posibilidades de pago con servicios que incluían médicos, entrenadores deportivos, profesores, investigadores u otros, en especial relativos a las misiones bolivarianas. Now it isn’t clear to me how Carmona "dissolved the constitution", but I see that reported [all over by news sources](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2002_Venezuelan_coup_d’%C3%A9tat_attempt#cite_ref-Interim_3-0). Let me say that, if there’s any truth to this, it would be excruciatingly difficult to make a convincing argument **that the dissolution of the 1999 constitution was necessary to defend the 1999 constitution**. But leave it to Venezuela’s opposition to make such a blatantly dishonest point. (Are you offended by that? Well, earlier in this thread, piux referred to ManyWolvesNearby and others merely sympathetic to Chavez as "retards". He accused me of "sucking Chavez in the balls", but I’m the offensive one for suggesting that it may be a bit dishonest to argue that dissolving the constitution may have been necessary in order to defend it. *Right!*) >P.S.: Come on, making fun of an ESL student’s spelling? First, how was I supposed to know that piux is an ESL student? I see absolutely nothing wrong with his spelling. Second, I wasn’t "making fun" of his spelling, or anything else for that matter. He simply used the word "coup" in an unexpected place, and, since I did not presume to know what was meant (because I am a good listener, and I always try to understand the arguments of those with whom I may happen to disagree), I chose to ask piux whether "coup" was the word he meant to use in this context. Third, given the seemingly irreconciliable position of both accusing Chavez of "raping" the 1999 constitution, while condoning the 2002 attempted coup, **whose leaders voided that constitution**, I decided once again not to presume anything but simply to ask piux whether he could defend this complicated position. It seems that, by citing article 350, you were taking up this challenge. Fourth, I did not once refer to piux as a "retard", or use the language of "hatred", or liken piux’s comments to sucking on anyone’s balls (i.e. those of the elites), all of which are things that piux has done, in his very last comment alone. It tells me all I need to know about your sense of fairness that, after reading this brief exchange between piux and myself, you accuse me of being the insulting one!
My response to you is too long, so I’m posting it in two comments.
Oh no–it’s Ven28, my old friend and arch-nemesis! I have to say, though, this is really one of the most disappointing comments that I’ve ever read from you. In the past, you have been able to make fairly reasonable arguments in defense of your political positions; I regret to say that that’s not the case here.
[the 350th article of the 1999 Constitution] says something like the people, faithful to its democratic tradition, will not acknowledge any power that violates the democratic process, violates human rights, etc..
I’ve looked up article 350 (which is just one sentence long) and see it does indeed state that “the people of Venezuela”–true to their republic tradition and their struggle for independence, peace, and freedom–shall disown any regime, legislation or authority that violates democratic values, principles and guarantees, or encroaches upon human rights. Find it here: español or english.
I personally hate the article, although I’m not even close to being a lawyer, I think that it’s just empty rhetoric bullshit. The terms used by it are so subjective that there’s no way for it to be applicable for anything…
I share your view that “there’s no way for [the article] to be applicable for anything”; but, precisely for this reason, I find it difficult to accept your argument that the article somehow offers justification for the 2002 coup attempt. It seems to me that even if we were to assume that the article could be applicable in some situations, the 2002 coup attempt would almost certainly not one of them.
First, the article recognizes the “people of Venezuela” as the entity possessing the right to disown any ‘anti-democratic’ power, etc.; it does not concede this right to business executives, media tycoons, the military, CTV, Fedecámaras, or those oligarchs who’ve traditionally ruled the country. Moreover, the “right-wing conspirators” who led the 2002 coup attempt were not in any way representative of the “Venezuelan people”–especially when Venezuela’s elections are a far better representation of the people’s will, and when President Chavez has demonstrated that he has the people’s support in election after election (both before and after the coup attempt).
Second, if article 350 affirms the right of the people not to “acknowledge any power that violates the democratic process, violates human rights, etc.” then perhaps you would care to explain why the 2002 coup attempt was not itself in violation of the democratic process, but the democratically elected government of President Chavez supposedly was. (If this is not your position, would you clarify what your position is, how it differs from this?)
Believe me when I tell you that I would be very sympathetic to this type of argument (if it had any merit). One of my favorite academic articles, for example, found that many Venezuelans saw no inconsistency between their (A) commitment to democracy and (b) support for military coups in certain situations; Venezuelans who supported democracy opposed the 1973 Chilean coup that ousted Allende, but supported the failed 1992 coup led by Chavez.
I had a section here that I’ve removed because it was too long and not exactly on the point, but I’ll say this, there are significant differences between 1992 coup attempt (led by Chavez) and the 2002 coup attempt (against him). I would maintain that whereas in 1992 there was good reason to believe that the political system itself (and the constitution–the “legal-political embodiment of puntofijoismo”) was too corrupt to be reformed by electoral means–that is, by anything less than armed struggle or a military coup, there was less reason to believe this in 2002.
Allow me to pre-empt a counter-argument by suggesting that it was not until Chavez’s failed coup, in 1992, and the enormous popularity that he gained even in defeat, that an electoral path to victory became possible; to demonstrate a nuanced grasp of Venezuelan politics, I’ll note that Rafael Caldera preceded Chavez in realizing this possibility, when in 1993, Caldera was the first to win a presidential election without the support of either of the two parties (after campaigning on the promise to pardon Lt. Col. Chavez and other military figures involved in the 1999 coup attempts). But actually, regardless of whether or not Chavez’s government would have had any claim to democratic legitimacy, had he taken power in 1992 by means of a coup, Chavez’s actual government was formed as a result of winning democratic elections–1998, and again in 2000, under the new 1999 constitution.
Another pre-emption of a possible counter-argument: It’s true that CAP’s government was also democratically elected, but, by 1992 (after the Caracazo, etc.), CAP had already clearly lost the support of the Venezuelan people (he was impeached in 1993, and sentenced to prison in 1996)–which is why Chavez was seen by many as a national hero and later pardoned by President Caldera in 1994. By contrast, in 2002, Chavez may have been unpopular among Venezuela’s elites, but he retained popular support, as demonstrated by (among other things) Chavez’s victory in the 2004 national presidential recall referendum. You see, under the new Constitution, the democratic process in Venezuela was fully functional; only the opposition parties had refused to make use of it; in 2005, the opposition chose to boycott elections rather than face near certain defeat.
Nice contrast between Kucinich and Obama, to remind us what we’ll be missing. >The current President not only has seized the power to assassinate American citizens with no charges, but also to imprison people indefinitely with no charges, to bomb six different countries where no war is declared and where civilians are routinely killed, to invoke extreme, self-parodying levels of secrecy to hide what he does, and to prosecute wars even after Congress votes against their authorization. His cabinet is filled with people who, while in public life, advocated an aggressive attack on another country on the basis of weapons that did not exist, including his Vice President and Secretary of State. His financial team is filled with the very same people who implemented the Wall-Street-subservient policies that led to the 2008 financial crisis. Despite all that, it would be unhealthy in the extreme to hold your breath waiting for the Prospect or the Post to mock any of them as crazy or “wacky,” because what they advocate — as crazy as it is — fits comfortably within the approved orthodoxies of establishment Washington. >Meanwhile, the crazy wacko, Dennis Kucinich, has been an outspoken opponent of all of that. In a rational world, that would make him sane and those he opposed crazy. But in the world of Washington’s political and media class, it’s Kucinich who is the crazy one and those who did all of that are sane and Serious. [...] >[...] After his Party leaders decreed that impeachment of Bush was “off the table” — both because they feared it would jeopardize their electoral prospects and because top Democrats were complicit in Bush crimes — Kucinich defied their orders and introduced articles of impeachment against Bush for the Iraq War, his chronic lawbreaking, and his assault on the Constitution: exactly what impeachment was designed to prevent and punish. He was one of the very few people in Congress who vehemently denounced the assaults on the Constitution with equal vigor under the prior GOP President and the current Democratic one. He was one of the very few people in Congress with the courage to deviate from the AIPAC script, opposing the Israeli blockade of Gaza, condemning Israeli wars of aggression, and repeatedly publicizing the oppression of Palestinians with the use of American funds and support. He repeatedly insisted on application of the law to the Executive Branch’s foreign policy when all of Washington agreed to overlook it. He repeatedly opposed bipartisan measures to intensify hostility toward Iran. When the Democrats won Congress in 2006 based on a promise to end the Iraq War, only to turn around and continue to fund it without restrictions (thus ensuring that this politically advantageous war would be raging during the 2008 election), Kucinich continuously demanded that they follow through on their promises.
this is why i hate you and your kind
What kind is that? ManyWolvesNearby is an open-minded, critical thinker. There needs to be more people willing to contest mainstream propaganda.
while we have to coup with this shitty worthless goverment.
Did you mean to say “coup”, or was this a Freudian slip from someone obsessed with overthrowing democracy? Speaking of “coup”, how exactly was the opposition’s 2002 coup attempt against Chavez’s democratically elected government a defense of the Constitution which you allege that he is raping? I remind you that the coup leaders ordered the dissolution of the National Assembly and the firing of all the members of the Supreme Court.
you are so blinded with dead ideals and seeing Chavez like a god, just look at riot hero comments sucking Chavez in the balls.
It’s true that I am probably the most ardent supporter of Chavez on all of reddit, but I take offense at your characterization of that support. Like ManyWolvesNearby, I do not treat Chavez as if he were a God, and I’ve publicly stated my skepticism concerning the wisdom of some of Chavez’s most controversial policies–price controls and certain nationalizations. Given that these policies are where Chavez differs from his main political rival, Henrique Capriles, and the fact that I’ve elsewhere on reddit offered conditional support for Capriles in the upcoming election, I’d say you are just as wrong-headed in your characterization of me as you are in slandering ManyWolvesNearby.
“El artículo 235…”
Let me take a look at the Constitution, and at the reasons Chavez has given in his defense. I concede the possibility that Chavez could be acting in violation of the Constitution. I’ll be back with a response. You see, as ‘brainwashed’ as I may be, if you have actual evidence on your side, then I’ll consider it; there’s no need to resort to name-calling and insults.
Another misleading thing about this article is the idea that Chavez "betrayed the FARC" by supporting his generals (as if this constituted a reversal of his loyalties). It’s like saying Obama "betrayed al Queda" by supporting the U.S. military’s assassination of Osama bin Laden.
Why is it suspicious that the country where Makled faces charges of drug trafficking and two counts of murder, the same country of which he is a citizen, would want to try him for those crimes? Isn’t it far more suspicious that the U.S. would try to interfere in this whole process? And, I don’t want to ruffle any feathers but I think it is also fair to say that The Devil’s Excrement blog may not be the most unbiased place to get your news about Cuba/Venezuela.
Could Sarah Palin be making a reference to Harvard professor Louis Hartz’s "The Liberal Tradition in America" which argues that "feudalism" and "socialism" are *equally foreign* to the American political mind? (No.)
One of the problems with these leaked documents is overcoming the sense that, because they were intended to be kept secret, what they contain is truthful. This report contains little more than speculation based on the unfounded claims of a world-class criminal hoping to make himself a sweet deal with the U.S. government. Since there was never any reason to extradite Walid Makled to the U.S. rather than to Venezuela–not only was Makled a *Venezuelan citizen*, he also faced his most serious charges in Venezuela (not only drug trafficking, of which he was accused by U.S. authorities, but also two counts of murder)–there was little harm in buying into the rumors about Makled having some dirt on the Chavez government which the latter wanted to keep secret.
You might be interested in looking at Germany’s [laws against Holocaust denial](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_against_Holocaust_denial#Germany): German criminal law bans the "incitement of hatred against a segment of the population" (i.e. a national, racial, religious or ethnic group). This kind of fits our working definition of ‘right-wing’ (though I suppose some would argue there is more to the ‘right-wing’ than simple "hatred against a segment of the population"); there’s no equivalent to this in the US.
I bet here’s what happened. The event organizers probably called Louis C.K. and told him they were concerned about him being too controversial. Maybe they even hinted that Louis censor himself, taking the fun out of it.
Yes, it is interesting that the article mentions "religious views" but does not elaborate on whether, seeing as how the court is affirming the right of "private people and companies" (but not the German government) to deny service on the basis of one’s "political views", one can infer that private entities also have the right to discriminate by "religious views" as well. I suppose the more important question may be whether private entities are allowed to discriminate by "race" (or "sexual orientation"), etc. But "race", of course, is different from "religious views", and it’d be interesting to know how the German government understands this difference, if it does at all.
I agree. The headline does make it sound as though the court was singling out "far-right extremists" as particularly deserving of being denied service, but the article itself makes it clear that the court’s ruling did not actually distinguish "far-right extremism" from any other political orientation. In fact, the German government cannot discriminate on the basis of "religious or political views", but "private people and companies" are free to do so.
Although I personally happen to agree that right-wing and left-wing views should not necessarily be treated as ‘equally valid’ perspectives, perhaps even before the law (insofar as the former tend to be rooted in exclusions of particular persons or groups, while the latter tend to be rooted in universal principles and values), I do not believe, at least in this case, that the Germany’s Federal Court of Justice is making any distinction along these lines (correct me if I’m mistaken). Based on my reading of the article, it seems to me that the headline is actually slightly misleading, since **the court did not single out "far-right extremism" from other political orientations**, as being particularly offensive and thus especially worthy of being denied service. The court simply stated that, although persons cannot be subjected to favorable or unfavorable treatment on the basis of religious or political views *by the German government*, *private people and companies* do have the right to refuse service on these bases.
I’m no economist, just a long-time follower of Venezuelan news. This report about a fall in the inflation rate seems to come as a surprise, at least to Chavez’s critics who for months have been claiming that the Venezuelan government’s new price controls *were causing* high inflation in the country. But here, Reuters is saying that Venezuela’s inflation has slowed "due largely to price controls set by President Hugo Chavez’s government".
> Ha ! as if this doesn’t happen within Marxist groups or all factions on the radical left! No, what I’m referring to not happen *within* Marxist groups, and for good reason. You nearly spell it out in your definition of Anarchism as a "philosophy that holds *non-hierarchy* paramount and forefront [sic] of all critical social analysis". Do you not understand why a movement based on the principle of *non-hierarchy* is one that will be likely to suffer organizational problems? It’s when I realized that what may seem like "petty infighting" is tragically inherent to the anarchist commitment to anti-authoritarianism, to opposing all forms of coercion, that I started to question my faith; this orientation prevents anarchists from coming to terms with the necessity of ‘getting one’s hands dirty’ in the revolutionary struggle, of seizing control of state power, and using it to overthrow the ruling class, crush their inevitable resistance, and lead the enormous mass of the population in the work of organizing a socialist economy. There is a good deal of ‘sectarianism’ *between* Marxist-Leninist (mostly Trotskyist) groups, but that is a different from what I’m discussing here because they seek to end capitalist exploitation, not all forms of hierarchy, and by embracing the principles of [democratic centralism](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_centralism), they do not get as hung up over organizational issues. >Nope, I’m suggesting that in the context that you said it, it was very passive aggressive, which made it come off as a claim with no evidence to support it. Oh my. Do you not see how this is exactly trivial bullshit I’m talking about? You anarchists are so hung up with rooting out hidden abuses of power that, because you don’t like the tone of my speech, now I need to provide "evidence to support" a "claim" that I wasn’t actually making, but one that my ‘passive aggressive’ tone made it come off as though it was one that I was making-yet failed to provide sufficient evidence for? WTF? >Anarcho-capitalist, we don’t recognize them as anarchist precisely because they reject socialism. All anarchist are socialists. Please take a long hard look at the system of classification you’ve constructed: you believe (A) "all anarchists to be socialist", but (B) make an exception for ‘anarcho-capitalists’, who, in your view, are not true ‘anarchists’. What about ‘post-left anarchists’, not all of whom are ‘anarcho-capitalists’, but who have decided no longer to identify themselves as belonging to the socialist tradition? Since they represent the majority of anarchists today, you’ll have a hard time redefining the term so as to be consistent with your classificatory system. >As I said, we’re all socialists. Even anarcho-individualists and all of the traditional individualists anarchist thinkers, including Proudhon, Stirner, Tucker, Bookchin, Goldman etc.. OK, that answers my question, I guess. How the fuck do you reconcile all this with (A) and (B) above? Now you’re claiming "we’re all socialists"? This is going too far. If socialism is anything it is the opposite of selfishness and egoism, which are the values Max Stirner endorsed (along with countless other anarcho-individualists). You’ve had your fun redefining the meaning of ‘anarchism’–now please, please leave ‘socialism’ alone. May I make a recommendation? How about simply admitting that "not all anarchists are socialists" in light of the fact that today there are many varieties of anarchism, and not all of them are consistent with socialism. >It was implied in this thread that the Spanish anarchist should have organized under Trotsky. Please stop trying so hard to infer arguments and claims that no one is making. Do you not see how ridiculous this is? I can only speak for myself but in no way was I ever implying that "the Spanish anarchist should have organized under Trotsky". I am sure of this because I know that Trotsky did have some involvement in the Spanish Civil War, but I know I am not familiar with the details of this involvement so as to feel I could make a judgement. Trotsky’s name has come up only in the context of the Kronstadt rebellion. I said I would like to read Trotsky’s essay defending his order to suppress the rebellion, in which I am quite sure that Spanish anarchists were not involved. You’ve said my ‘passive aggressive’ tone (in saying one might not expect anarchists to be great at enforcing discipline within their ranks during wartime) made it "come off" as though I were making "a claim with no evidence to support it", but you provide no "evidence to support" your *explicit* claim that "Trotskyist [sic] are statist apologetics [sic] at best and capitalist servants at worst". I have defended my ‘implied’ claim, but you still haven’t given any justification for your slanderous remarks. Why don’t you hold yourself to the same standard as you do others?
I edited my comment in order to clarify that I do not personally regard the Founding Fathers or the political philosophers of classical liberalism as ‘authorities’. But insofar as you call yourself a libertarian (or ‘classical liberal’)–though you may not–I’m pretty sure that the philosophical arguments that they’ve made concerning the foundation of liberal government *should* carry a certain amount of weight–or ‘authority’–*for you*. Nonetheless, it’s true that, as a Marxist, I believe that all government is based on political violence wielded historically by dominant social classes to perpetuate existing systems of exploitation and oppression.
>That is where you’re wrong. Uh, that’s not me. That’s [social contract theory](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_contract) (you know, Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau), the political philosophy in the spirit of which our Founding Fathers wrote the U.S. Constitution. Take it up with them. *Edit*: I don’t particularly agree with our Founding Fathers–I’m just having some fun by trying to use the political philosophy of classical liberalism against you–because its premises are essentially the same as those that undergird libertarianism (which is why libertarians love to call themselves ‘classical liberals’). In fact, these are premises that I personally reject–as I suggested above when I derided the entire ‘classical liberal’ philosophical edifice (to which you presumably subscribe as a ‘liberatarian’)–from a Marxist point of view. > a heterogeneous jurisdiction based on market demand and rational incentives! That’s the idea behind the [Free State Project](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_State_Project), which sounds to me like a great conspiracy to get all of the country’s libertarians together in one place (one state) so they can be more easily gotten rid of. On second thought, please forget I said that. Maybe you *would* be interested in moving to New Hampshire to be with like-minded individuals?
It came up because I brought it up. But I was merely pre-empting you. You and Krackor are obviously both libertarians, and I can recognize your standard anti-government (implicitly pro-corporate) rhetoric when I see it, and I know where it leads. The praising of the ‘individual’ always precedes the praising of market logic. The whole liberal/libertarian philosophical edifice has historically been little more than ideological justification for the rise and global takeover of market capitalism. In this same thread, Krackor argues explicitly in favor of ‘corporate mercencies’, and here you are patting him on the back for spouting his clichéd rhetoric. As for your criticism of ‘government courts’, I ask you, what do you think guarantees the existence of courts in the first place? What endows them with authority to back up their decisions, or efficacy in making them? You act as if private individuals had their "own courts", but the reason they don’t is that the state has a legal monopoly on the use of physical force, and that’s what grants it the authority and legitimacy to administer the law and exert legal justice. In [political theory](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consent_of_the_governed), private individuals consent to give up their natural powers to decide between life and death–to the state, thereby giving it the right to arbitrate private disputes according to the law. I suppose you are correct in stating that, if you were to attempt to sue the government–by means of government courts–you could not be sure that your dispute would be settled fairly, but that’s why, [according to the rules (set down by John Locke)](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_of_revolution), *citizens retain the right to rise up against the government when it acts contrary to their interests, and to replace that government with one that does serve the citizens’ interests*. See: the [U.S. Declaration of Independence](http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html): "when in the Course of human events *it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers* of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them…." Are you saying that the time for revolution has come? If so, state your case. I might be inclined to agree.
Instead of taking the viewpoint of the citizen (a ‘potential customer’), let’s consider the POV of the ‘corporate mercenary’, whose actions and interests are easier to predict than those of its ‘customers’. The state offers to pay a ‘corporate mercenary’ a certain sum of money to settle a dispute between itself and a private corporation, which in turn offers to pay the mercenary many times more than what the state can ever afford. Since the ‘corporate mercenary’, as a capitalist entity is motivated by profit, not justice, which offer do you assume it might take?
[You need the music](http://www.epiconeliner.com/)!
I understand less and less why the Soviet Union was seen as illegitimate, but the same sort of rigged game elsewhere represents ‘democracy’ (as long as the country remains ‘capitalistic’).
Of course they can. Governments are run by elected public officials, aren’t they? These officials *can* be held accountable, provided an informed and vigilant citizenry. In contrast, private corporations are responsible only to shareholders; they are not accountable to the public at large, and yet just as dangerous. I know the Supreme Court may agree with you, but I don’t: *corporations are NOT ‘people’*!
What? Last I checked, individual citizens cast their votes… individually. And individual politicians are elected and rise or fall as …individuals. Unless I’m mistaken, FPTP stands for "First-past-the-post" voting; the alternatives include some form of runoff (two round or instant) system. Are you simply making a free-market versus government argument?
As a Marxist-Leninist, I’m calling bullshit on the point that Obama apologists are making about the necessity for ‘pragmatism’. Whereas Marxist-Leninists are open and honest about the need to defend the advances made under the revolutionary banner, using political force when necessary against reactionaries and counterrevolutionaries–going so far as to endorse something called a "dictatorship of the proletariat", how is it ‘pragmatic’ for Obama to outdo his predecessor in carrying forward this never-ending war? There is no proper justification for this behavior, absolutely none–the ‘war on terror’ is an ideological distraction from domestic injustice. What is most disgusting is the President’s dishonesty in pretending as though the US still cherishes the values it is, in fact, shitting all over.
The fact there can be so many congressional Democrats self-identifying as ‘progressive’, and simultaneously so little ‘progressive’ legislation, even back when there was Democratic control of both houses, reflects even more poorly on the effectiveness of Democratic party legislators. I mean, one can be excused for making the mistake of assuming that there was "no room for progressives in the Democratic party" because, unless you specifically checked the number of members in the CPC, how else could one have known? Where’s the progressive legislation?
Defeated by a fellow Democrat? I feel betrayed. Just realized that, with Kucinich gone, and Obama selling out his progressive base, there’s hardly anything left tying me to the Democratic party. I’d stop voting for them, except, oh yeah, *we have no other choice*. *Update*: I understand now that redistricting is to blame. Still I’m disappointed by the whole thing.
> I don’t think think you know much about what anarchism is. Déjà vu! It’s been a long time since I heard this accusation. One of the reasons I left the anarchist community was, I think, because I was sick and tired of anarchists accusing each other of not being ‘anarchist’ enough, and demanding that everyone prove all the time how ‘anarchist’ they were. (It could have been because this was during my adolescence.) But this practice led to anarchist meetings that took forever to get started because, apparently, taking the initiative by creating an agenda and listing a number and order of topics to be covered betrays one’s authoritarian tendencies (and anarchists are anti-authoritarian, I still know that much), and this actually requires consensus (an extreme example, sure, but a real one). Anyway, if you think I don’t know "know much about what anarchism is", we’re going to have to deal with specific examples. >What with the passive aggressive remarks like "but let’s assume it was more than one might expect from anarchists" … Are you suggesting that I’m demonstrating a lack of knowledge about "what anarchism is" by assuming that *one may not expect anarchists to be great at enforcing strict discipline* while engaged in dangerous warfare (since doing so often requires sacrificing a degree of political freedom)? Have you ever tried enforcing discipline amongst your fellow anarchists? >[What with the passive aggressive remarks like] … "before I identified as a socialist" I can’t find where I said that. Are you referring to a specific example where you think I demonstrate ignorance about "what anarchism is"? >You don’t think it was ancaps in 1936 Spain do you? What’s "ancaps"? I can’t answer because I don’t understand the question. >I’d argue that anarchist are the only true socialists. I appreciate that, even as an anarchist, you still identify with the socialist tradition, but are you aware that many anarchists today no longer share your view? Let me point you to the Wikipedia entry on "[Post-Left Anarchism](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-left_anarchy)", described as "a recent current in anarchist thought that promotes **a critique of anarchism’s relationship to traditional leftism**." This is not some fringe element within today’s anarchist community. In fact, it happens to be a dominant orientation among leading anarchist magazines, like ‘Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed’, ‘Green Anarchy’ and Fifth Estate’, and among popular anarchist writers like Hakim Bey, Bob Black, John Zerzan, Jason McQuinn, and Fredy Perlman. Maybe it is you who doesn’t know what anarchism is? Or have you your own definition? The truth is that anarchists can’t agree on what anarchism is! This is reflected by the never-ending debate in the anarchist community (as a political theorist, I followed all the theoretical debates, until recently), between ‘individual’ (or ‘lifestyle’) and ‘social’ (or ‘platformist’) anarchism. >Trotskyist are statist apologetics at best and capitalist servants at worst. Do you always issue slanderous remarks without providing any justification for them? Since you’re referring to "Trotskyist" [sic] and I’m not a "Trotskyist", I feel no responsibility for defending the positions of either Trotsky or Trotskyists. But, to play your game, perhaps I’ll simply respond by saying, ‘I don’t think you know much about what Trotskyism is’.
I appreciate your response. You’re right to point out problems in my description of the Spanish Civil War. In the passage you cited, I should have explicitly stated that socialists and (Stalinist and Trotskyist) communists were part of the "Republican/Anarchist troops" who were defeated by fascist forces. And, given that it seems (from what I’ve heard also) that the anarchist were, in fact, disciplined (to what extent, I cannot say, but let’s assume it was more than one might expect from anarchists), it looks rather difficult to draw any definitive conclusion either in favor or against ‘authoritarianism’ (or whatever is the difference between anarchism and communism), from our historical perspective. That actually helps with the point I was trying to make–or with the point I’ll make now–that it was *too early* in 1936, for Emma Goldman to be able to say for sure whether the experience of the Spanish Civil War proves or disproves (or tell us anything at all about) the Soviet leaders’ explanation that "political freedom is impossible during a revolutionary period". In other words, it’s not that the SCW *confirms* (or ‘proves’) the Soviet leader’s ‘explanation’–my point is it doesn’t exactly refute (or ‘disprove’) that explanation. I’m not ready to conclude that "the defeat of the republican side was inevitable", but I really don’t know what it would have taken for the Republican side to come out on top. Although I couldn’t say with any certainty that a ‘Soviet style rulership’ would have changed the outcome of the SCW, I do see how that argument could be made. (For evidence, one could point to the victory of ‘Soviet style rulership’ in the Russian Civil War. Is there any evidence to support the argument, on the other side, that ‘more political freedom’ might have meant the difference in the outcome of the SCW?) Still I’d concede that political division (among the anarchists, socialists, communists, etc.), rather than political freedom, was probably the greatest obstacle to achieving Republican victory.
The argument for trickle down isn’t even made anymore, that’s what is really frustrating. Fox News pundits aka Republican presidential candidates don’t even feel they need to defend it because they can get away with simply pretending that it’s already a proven truth. In their minds, these statistics demonstrating the extent of economic inequality in this country don’t compute.
I remember dropping a reference to the ‘Kronstadt rebellion’, in my freshman year of college (when I still identified as an ‘anarchist’), when my friends asked me why I refused to join the ISO (and identify as a ‘socialist’). Apparently I was suggesting that I still held a grudge. lol But the truth is that I didn’t know the history well enough to make a judgment–I feel I still don’t. It was just that, as [Trotsky puts it (in an essay I've started to read)](http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1938/01/kronstadt.htm), *"the name Kronstadt was surrounded by a revolutionary halo"*. (I was informed not by the "real situation", but by what he derides as the "sugar-sweet idealizations after the event".)
I haven’t done the reading necessary to start off a proper debate myself (I’d at least want to review Trotsky’s "[Hue and Cry Over Kronstadt](http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1938/01/kronstadt.htm)"), but based on Goldman’s article alone I do want to share my general impression–as someone who’s long been sympathetic to Emma Goldman (I quoted [her remarks on public education](http://books.google.com/books?id=-VoJYcqOQE4C&lpg=PA238&dq=%22Public%20school%22%20%22mind%20is%20drilled%20and%20manipulated%20into%20submission%22&pg=PA238#v=onepage&q=%22Public%20school%22%20%22mind%20is%20drilled%20and%20manipulated%20into%20submission%22&f=false) in my high school yearbook), but who changed his political identity from ‘anarchist’ to ‘socialist’ over time as I learned about Marxism and the history of revolutionary struggle, its failures and relative successes–that although she deserves credit for ‘predicting’ the problematic excesses of what she names "the political Soviet grinding machine"–*earlier than other socialists*, many of whom waited until learning of Stalin’s crimes to begin publicly distancing themselves from and repudiating the Soviet regime–perhaps Goldman was a bit *too early* in doing this. I mean, first consider the advantage of our historical perspective. Goldman says she is "writing from Barcelona, the seat of the Spanish Revolution", and remarks that what she has seen there–in 1936–has cured her of, even if only for a moment, **believing in the "explanation of Soviet leaders that political freedom is impossible during a revolutionary period"**. She sides with the Anarchists in Catalonia, and the CNT-FAI, who apparently prefer safeguarding liberty over enforcing discipline. Given that she could not have known the outcome of the Spanish civil war in advance, one wonders whether she would have found it any easier to believe the "explanation of Soviet leaders" in light of the crushing defeat of Republican/Anarchist troops by fascist forces, who not only ended the revolutionary period but set up a right-wing dictatorship that would maintain control over Spain for decades. (Goldman left Spain just as the tide began to turn against the Republic, in 1937, and died in 1940). For a comparative perspective, consider Goldman’s ‘early opposition’ in contrast to the ‘late support’ of someone like Bertolt Brecht (thirty years younger)–regarded as being *too late* in turning against the Soviet Union (in fact, he never did). The comparison comes to mind because Brecht too was sympathetic to the left-libertarian or Anarchist strain of socialism–he learned Marxism from Karl Korsch, expelled from the Communist Party in 1926, and Brecht never felt comfortable joining the party himself, though he commonly expressed his loyalty to it. Even though he recognized that "in Russia a dictatorship rules *over* the proletariat", Brecht nonetheless maintained that **"we should avoid disassociating ourselves from this dictatorship for as long as it still does useful work for the proletariat"**. I wrestle all the time with the question of where I would personally stand, politically speaking, were I alive during the Cold War, when the Soviet Union still existed. I do think it takes more courage and strength (not cowardice) in defending a revolution than it finding fault or critiquing one. But I don’t know ‘how far’ I would go, how much political violence I would be willing ‘to justify’ (and preserve a healthy conscience). So I haven’t really reached any conclusions. But I’m interested in hearing from others.
I do have love for Chavez, and this news does suck. I wish him well, but he does need to plan for a successor.
*More*: I should say that, while I would support Chavez if he were healthy enough to run against Capriles (the leading opposition candidate) in the election, my support for his successor is by no means already-decided. My support would depend, of course, on whom Chavez were to choose, and on what his plans for Venezuela were. I’ve already suggested elsewhere that Chavez could do worse than throwing his support to Capriles himself–this would guarantee Capriles a far greater amount of support from amongst the Venezuelan poor, which he could use to advance his proposed center-left agenda and make good on his campaign promises–to maintain and even build of Chavez’s popular social welfare programs, while gradually dismantling only the most controversial government policies (i.e. namely, the price and currency controls and some nationalizations). If he is elected without that Chavista support (narrowly, I presume), my concern is that Capriles (who I believe is well intentioned) would be far more likely to respond to pressure from right-wing elements in the current political ‘opposition’ (who may not be exerting much pressure now, for strategic reasons, described below); if he feels his support base is comprised of disproportionately right-wing (upper-class and elitist) elements–who may be willing to support a ‘center-left’ candidate only now because the opposition parties have agreed that the best chance to remove Chavez from office, in light of the failures of all other strategies (which include coup attempts, a recall referendum, etc.), was to rally support around a single candidate–and that he cannot afford to risk weakening his anti-Chavez coalition, Capriles would be less capable of governing truly as a center-left politician and making good on his promises.
I suppose that Breitbart’s column might be considered "filth" because it *does not*, in fact, give us a *better picture* of who Barack Obama is and how he thinks. Nor was it ever the intention of the column to do so, imho. As someone already familiar with Breitbart and his particular line–and style–of argument in discussing Obama, I find it seems more likely that the actual intention of the article was to support–through reckless and dishonest distortion and outright manipulation of historical facts–an *already-existing picture of Obama*, one already painted by the Tea Party Republican establishment. The article rests on a small and insignificant element of fact–Obama’s attendance of a theatrical performance 14 years ago, and his participation in a post-performance discussion panel–and proceeds to engage in elaborate speculation and propagandistic manipulation so as to suggest some kind of diabolical connection between Obama, the State Senator, and the Communist Party USA. If one were genuinely interested in understanding "who he is and how he thinks", I would think that one might want to consider, instead, perhaps *analyzing the (diplomatic, military and political) actions and decisions that Obama has made as President* (rather than merely speculating about and manipulating the details surrounding a community event 14 years ago).
Yeah. I’m pleased to see Wallace Shawn invited on TV and given a chance to explain "why I call myself a socialist", but he really isn’t given enough time here. And, to be honest, Shawn probably isn’t the person best suited for the job of making a *concise case* for continuing relevance of socialist ideas in today’s world. It’s a shame more thought wasn’t put into how best to communicate these ideas *concisely* in the given format. Also, as a fan of Shawn’s The Fever, I’ve got to say he really could have chosen a better excerpt to perform…