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DOCTOR GUZMAN RECANTS

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People's War:   Left & bottom: Typically heroic images from the People’s War, a classically Maoist strategy of surrounding and choking off the old state from the countryside.   Middle: Abimael Guzman (aka ‘Chairman Gonzalo’) as he appeared in a Lima courtroom in November, 2004.


 


Peru’s People’s War: A Melancholic Retrospect


Luis Arce Examines the “Remnants of a Betrayed Revolution”



A guerrilla action, and similarly a whole process of armed struggle, does
not by itself constitute a liberating political process in the sense of
revolutionary change of society and the state.

The revolutionary content of a political or military action is determined by
its strategic objective, whose essence is determined by a combination of
ideological, political and organizational factors.

From May 1980 until almost the middles of the ’90s the Maoist guerrilla was
without any doubt a hope for revolutionary change in Peru. The poor masses
took it as such and valiantly fought at its side. In that war the people
gave their blood and sacrifice, and more than 60,000 peasants, workers,
students, squatters, and others had died by the end of the armed conflict. A
historical epoch that is an extraordinary legacy for the Peruvian people and
their future revolution. What cut short that road? In October 1993 Abimael
Guzm

LENIN IN TRANSLATION

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Why Is He (Still) One of the Most Popular Writers Around?



The Index Translationum, published every year since 1931 and detailing the most translated authors in the world, has just been announced.   Guess who’s No 4?


                                                                     


 

DYING QUIETLY

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The Twelve Miners Who Died in Sago Have Become Briefly Famous, But Who, Really, Knew They Had Ever Lived?


                     “Miner’s Housing”


Martin Toler & grandson                                                       Company Housing, Sago, West Virginia 1930s


West Virginia is seven thousand miles from Iraq, but when I saw the pasty, anguished faces of the relatives of those Sago miners, the words “Abu Ghraib” kept coming to mind. 


This is Lynndie England country.   It is a world of stunted lives and impoverished emotions, a place where bad life decisions and limited opportunities combine to make this hell-hole a fertile ground for the recruiters of capitalism’s dirty work, whether that be torturing prisoners or digging coal.   In such communities generations work long, hard and cheap, with nary a word of protest other than the sullen acquiescence with which they greet each experience.   To them, history simply happens.  


Come to think of it, though, workers everywhere in America live in their own Abu Ghraib.   For them it is the unedifying sequel to post-industrial America; anaesthetized by drugs, alchohol & pornography, uninformed by any consciousness other than that needed at the moment to briefly escape one’s brutish surroundings, demeaned and humiliated, the best of them struggle to escape.  Or at least help their children to.  But what of those people in Sago?   Some seem, perversely,  to almost relish their predicament, as if in some post-nuclear nightmare with which they at last have made their peace.  The real tragedy is above-ground; they have pathetically made themselves easy prey for the Wilbur Rosses of the world.


Which is just fine with the coal companies .   Here and throughout coal-mining country.   Such wretches are almost custom-made, in fact.   Not only does this tragedy take the Iraq fiasco off of the front page (how many disasters many times the gravity of this one get this kind of 24 hour coverage?), it has all the features of “Bush capitalism”.  Docile and devout (non-union) labor.  An almost child-like faith in god, government and “the company” (there were so many violations at this mine that the owners may as well have blown it up themselves).   And a willingness — verging on slavering stupidity — to believe everything that they are told.


                                   


After some initial sympathy, is it difficult not to feel contempt and even anger for people who seem to be so easily resigned to being abused by their “betters” that even the negligent deaths of loved ones cannot shake them out of their stupor?   Do these people really care about one another?   Do they know right from wrong?   Would they fight for their own children if it meant going up against the rich and powerful, or doing something more than acting out in front of tv cameras?  


I have my doubts.  If one needed a graphic illustration of the moral corruption of some of America’s most abused workers, this West Virginia coal town, sadly, seems made to order.

RUSSIA DRAWS A LINE IN UKRAINE

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As NATO Draws Closer, Putin and the KGB Turn Up the Heat


Victor Yushchenko’s fingernails are probably a bit shorter this evening.  True, he had the usual support in Western capitols during the brief crisis over gas deliveries from Russia (the “Orange Revolution” which brought him to power was, after all, a nomenclature designed and financed by Washington, London and Brussels).  And the stock of the beleagured Ukrainian president has doubtlessly risen a notch or two in the pages of the capitalist press.   But, Yuschchenko knows such currencies are short-lived.   Tomorrow, when details of the agreement are more closely scrutinized, it will be Putin who has the last laugh.  Already there is opposition to the deal among Ukraine’s opposition, left and right, and Yushchenko’s fractious government may find itself more isolated than ever.


So, what, exactly, happened?  Ukraine now will pay $230 per 1,000 meters of natual gas piped in from Russia (though it will be less than $95 once cheaper gas from Central Asia is mixed in), roughly double what it is paying now.   But, that is merely a detail.  The agreement’s real significance lies in who will be running Ukraine’s (and much of the rest of Europe’s) energy show.


I think that Putin got exactly what he wanted; namely, the direct assumption by Russia’s security services for the transferance of Russian energy resources to the West.  Virtually everything that has to do with the flow of energy westward into Europe will now be through the good offices of something called RosUkrEnergo.  Of Swiss registry and managed by an Austrian (Wolfgang Putschek, of the Raiffeisen Zentralbank), RosUkrEnergo is actually owned by Gazprom, the Russian energy giant, and Centragas, a front for Russians and Ukranians with links to the old Soviet KGB.   By raising the stakes with his threat to cut off the pipeline, Russia effectively put paid to growing efforts by Ukraine to put RosUkrEnergo out of the energy business.   Ukraine’s access to Russian energy will now be under the auspices of Russia’s security services.   And, with the deal signed yesterday, RosUkrEnergo stands to become the third largest energy dealer in Europe. 


It is clear to Putin that, with an ever more aggressive NATO determined to subordinate the former Soviet Union (including and especially Russia), a line has to be drawn somewhere.   A fully “independent” Ukraine (that is, one obliged to Washington and Brussels) is seen in both camps as the first and necessary step in the subjugation process.  It is not likely to be tolerated let alone welcomed by the Kremlin.  Certainly, Putin knows that Russia’s energy fortunes (one of her few trump cards at the moment) cannot be left to the mercies of Washington or its surrogates in Kiev or Warsaw.  This was doubtless behind his announcement yesterday that China would henceforth be given preference in Russian energy sales.  Putin is serving notice; Russia’s enormous energy reserves will not easily fall prey to western arsenals.   And the same goes for western subsidiaries on Russia’s border, like Ukraine.  


Maintaining “credibility” as a supplier of raw materials for Western consumption has costs.   And its limits.                


                                                   


                                     

THINKING ABOUT 2006

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  ‘Rising Sun’; The Swimwear for 2006 by Speedo


2006 is finally here.   So, what’s ahead?   My predictions for the New Year;


Westerners, especially Americans, will still think of freedom in terms of having money, and not in having the right to vote.  They will expect others, though, to retain a superstitious reverance for elections.  Americans, for their part, will obstinately continue to believe in a benign god, even though deep down most know of them know better.  And will act accordingly.


There will be a major crisis in Japanese/Chinese relations, shares will rise and then flatten.  Housing prices (and interest rates) will cool. Unions will resume their backward march.  The credit cycle will turn.  GM will muddle through.  Africa will continue to suffer.  There will be no bird flu pandemic.  Iraq will go off the radar.  Democrats will remain a minority.  Communism, or at least its core idea, will begin to emerge from its long torpor. The Renminbi will not be revalued, and India will move closer to Washington.  


Germany’s “recovery” will be sluggish.  Unemployment will remain high there as well as in the rest of Europe.   Poland, in fact, will see joblessness climb to 25%.  Most of their plumbers will emigrate to France.  Russia’s economy will continue to rebound, fulfilling in part Putin’s wish to see the Kremlin become the world’s energy kingpin.


But the really, really big story for 2006 is that China will continue to emerge as a tenable alternative to Anglo/American capitalism.   


In other words, 2006 will be a lot like last year.


Only more so.


After a pause, refreshed?  

YESTERDAY’S MAN

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Harry Magdoff (1913-2006) 


Ideas, though nothing more than a reflection of the materiality of being, do matter.  And the most powerful idea of the twentieth century was Communism.  Harry Magdoff came into this world just as that idea was bursting on the international scene from the unlikeliest corner of Europe, full of spite and vinegar and credibly promising to transform humanity itself.   He death this morning in his ninety-third year saw off an exemplar of a much-reduced idea, that of “Western Marxism”, or a Marxism without the proletariat and retaining only its function as a sort of cultural criticism of bourgeois civilization.  


Mr Magdoff is best remembered both for his stewardship of the much-admired but little read Monthly Review and a half-baked theory of imperialism that was briefly in vogue shortly before North Vietnamese regulars drove into downtown Saigon in the wake of the most spectacular defeat ever suffered by an imperialist power.   Western Marxism at that moment was at its zenith, flattering itself by its imagined (but largely fictitious) role in the Communist victory before quickly degenerating into the phalanx of failed social-welfare economies and “identity” politics that was to follow hard on the heels of April, 1975.


The post- Vietnam denouement has in fact been so unkind to the generation of western marxists exemplified by Mr Magdoff that it is fitting to speak of his as a “failed generation” of thinkers on the Left.   Never quite sure of where they stood at any particular moment — at various times flirting with Maoism, Trotskyism, anarchism, syndicalism, or what-have-you — most finally settled into the vapidity of calling, forlornly, for a welfare state financed by taxing the market.   Largely gone was Lenin’s wager on class struggle and political will to reach the classless society.   As constituencies shrank, many quit the fight altogether, though Harry Magdoff remained steadfast in his belief in socialism, even if he could never cogently define quite what he meant by it.


So, Mr Magdoff is finally gone.   And with him are gone most of the illusions of the Western Left.  The social-welfare state is dead or dying;  strident nationalisms and noxious fundamentalisms vie to fill the vacuum left by socialism’s eclipse.   The Left itself is divided into a galaxy of minute, warring sects, united only in their inability to attract more than an insignificant fringe of the workers’ movement or, even, to present a tenable program of action.   All that is left, really,  of the Monthly Reviews of the world is the genre’s cultural critiqe of the bourgeoisie.   There is little to reckon such an asset will facilitate a renewal of the Marxian project.


What follows, then,  for the heirs of Marx here in the West?   Perhaps a rejuvenation of Leninism’s uncompromising prescriptions for class struggle.   More likely a nostalgic tailing after of Chinese “confucian collectivism” fueled by the dynamic of “authoritarian” Asian economies.  Marxism, after all, was once a canon of the inexorable, the unstoppable, the super-dynamic of inevitability.   Magdoff’s generation succumbed to the liberalism that everywhere surrounded them, whereupon the Marxist doctrine of the future descended into a catechism of the weak, the incompetent, the perennially unsuccessful, the raison d’etre of the welfare state.  


Marxism could not flourish within such strictures.  Perhaps the passing of the generation which best exemplified the degeneration of Marx into a garden-variety liberal will prove to be the necessary pre-requisite for the beginnings of a new and productive era in Marxism itself. 

TRACTORS

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Heard from my friend Warren out in Montana this morning.   He has a 1939 John Deere model “A” that I would like to buy as soon as I can afford it.    He has gone completely through it and hearing it tells me its a sound runner.   I will probably re-do the block if I can find some original Deere cast .45 NOS (New Old Stock) pistons, just to give it a bit more pep.  Plowing in New England’s rocky ground takes a bit more horsepower.


I really like this tractor.  Growing up, I used to watch old Bill Gladding plow for potatoes in very early March with a tractor exactly like this one.  There is something about the sound of those two cylinders cutting through the frost of a late winter’s morning.  Something exhilarating and early Springish.   Could stand a little of that now on New Years’ Eve.  Bill also had a newer John Deere “B”, which now sits in my barn.  I like old farmers like Bill Gladding; they were honest and self-reliant.  They never hired except maybe a week or two at haying time.  They did their own work.  Antone Vieira had horses.   So did Ernie Hull.  And, I think, Enos Gomes.  Now yuppies and lawyers own the farms, picturesque replicas of a generation ago.  I liked the old-timers better, though, and I think about them once in awhile.


We had a horse, too.  His name was Midnight Star.  I was the least of his favorites.  Star was a five-gaited American saddle horse from Kentucky.  He was quite good at herding the cows up to the barn at milking time.  He dearly loved the little children, especially when their pockets sagged with sugar cubes, molasses candy, and slices of cinammon apple.   Star was almost uniformly gentle in fact except when, upon encountering a real estate agent or a lawyer unlucky enough to venture onto a pasture or hay field, he would rise up on his hind hooves and lash wildly out at the miscreant.  Several times during haying I would look up to see papers and briefcases flying in all directions as their terrified owner scrambled for safety back over the neighbors’ wall.


But, tractors remain my favorite.  My father had several Fordson model “F”s, with steel wheels, the kind Henry Ford sold Stalin back in the 1920s.  Stalin said that one Fordson was worth “100 foreign Communists”.   By God, he was right.


Have a Good New Year!                


                                                    

FALLING DOWN

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“SHOOTING” Anthony Hayes during the last five minutes of his life


I‘ve been trying to find out something about the (apparently schizophrenic) 38 year old black man who was surrounded by about one dozen New Orleans police officers on Monday, and then shot down.   He used to eat at the neighborhood MacDonalds.  Anyone know him?   I tried Google.   “Black Man Shot By Police New Orleans” returns 1,870,000 hits.  And only two were about this particular incident.  Kind of amazing.  


Was it murder?  The police a couple of hours ago said that the man lunged at the officers with a knife, but that part of the video is missing.   Confrontations involving blacks thought to be deranged and police officers end in black fatalities at three times the rate of those involving whites.   And blacks are twice as likely to be denied medical treatment for mental and emotional disorders.  


So, has someone published a code of conduct for urban blacks?  And at what point does erratic behavior warrant a fusillade from the guns of the police?   And, while we’re at it, what kind of person straps on a gun to carry against his own people for money?  And willingly identifies himself with such a malignant cause as the modern capitalist state?

APOCALYPSE MAO

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Yesterday was Christmas.  Today marks the birth of someone whose life, too, was of great significance to humanity.   Both grew to precipitate enormous changes in the affairs of men.   Both were hailed as superhuman, one as the Savior, the other as “the red sun in the center of our hearts”.   Both can take credit for the frightful suffering left in their wake.  But, then, the Christian ethos, like that of the Communism of Mao, preached a sort of redemption through suffering and self-abnegation, Maoism in this life, Christianity in the next. 


And, yes, there are morbidity statistics for each.   Taking into account the Christian legacy of the Crusades, chattel slavery and the settlement of the Americas to 1700, The Good Lord has Mao beat by about 200 million lives.   This, even by the most outlandish estimates of Mao’s many detractors in the West (and nearly all of his most devout haters are westerners, either by birth or, baroquely, by choice).  Of course, Christ and his progeny have had two millenia to make mischief; the Maoists, barely a few generations.


But, what about today, on the 112th anniversary of Mao’s birth?   The great movement of the triumvirate of Lenin, Stalin and Mao, which defeated fascism, broke the chains of colonialism, and built socialism in countries where poverty and serfdom had largely prevailed, that movement is now in eclipse.  In the West, partisans of Jesus occupy nearly all of the top positions in government, the military and business.   Banking and finance are in the hands of those not unfriendly to Christian capitalism and, save for a handful of neighborhoods in Peru, Nepal, India, and the Philippines, Mao seems to have fallen out of fashion.  Modern China is still on nodding terms with its founder, but it is out of fealty, rather than devotion.


But, if “Maoism” (his followers insist his is the third, and highest, “stage” of Marxism-Leninism) is in retreat, its nemisis, capitalism, clearly, is in steep and irreversible decline.   Its epitaph is already being written in unemployed Europe, “neo-liberalized” Latin America and in the decaying hell-holes that are America’s cities.   It has nothing to offer the future except the apocalypse, the natural successor to an increasingly threadbare protection racket beguiling a sullen and exhausted population.   Soon, even Christ Himself will be “downsized” into a parody of his former self, “outsourced” to the vagaries of a capitalism gone mad and turned in on itself.


It is precisely here, within the conditions of apocalypse that Maoism finds it natural element, where suddenly all of its faults become virtues.   This is partly why I believe it will be the Maoist and not the Christian believer who will prove most durable in history’s Long March.


Happy Birthday, comrade.

CHRISTMAS, HAVE A MERRY

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Any one who doubts we are on the cusp of fascism in America should try reading the Washington Times (the print edition and not the comic book version we see on the cable talk shows after 5 pm Eastern).   Mr Paul Craig Robert’s Christmas column is a good place to start.   It encapsulates the thinking of the “modern” western fascist on the relationship of religion to capitalism.   Too, he has some telling things to say about Christmas rituals, like gift-giving.  Or, rather, the long road travelled from the self-abnegating early Christians to those of today who find in American materialism just what the Holy Spirit Ordered.


Mr Roberts begins like a true disciple of the Modern Christ, lamenting the “decline” of religious values in America, and especially on our college campuses, while excoriating a noxious and uncritical “multiculturalism” threatening our core capitalist values.   These as all good American fascists know are derived directly from God especially through the agency of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  For people like Mr Roberts, the decline of Christianity in America is coextensive with the decline of capitalism.  For the foundation of American liberty and prosperity can be found in the teachings of none other than Christ Himself. 


Does Mr Roberts really believe this, or is he speaking merely to amuse the constituencies upholding a failing capitalism?


I wonder if Mr Roberts has seen Adam Curtis’ new film, The Power of Nightmares?  It contains a convincing argument that the western democracies have lost the ability to inspire their people with hope and so have decided to control them by means of fear.   Christ and the electric chair, rather than divinely-inspired “values”, have held capitalism together for the past century or so.  Now, even they are proving of little use.


Most American fascists are in or around the Republican party, but the atittudes underpinning the Fascist Ideal which informs our modern culture is prevalent in both major parties.   Mr Roberts’ column and indeed the columns found in most national newspapers like the Washington Times could be credibly written by either sober Republicans or drunk Democrats, caught with their candor showing.   This is why the war in Iraq will not end anytime soon (short of us finally giving up and simply buying off the natives), why Americans will continue without health care or tenable jobs or a decent education, why our cities will continue to fester into uninhabitable hell-holes, and so on.   There is no tenable alternative; history, instead, will create one.


The Christian ethos, and the dispensation on which it has rested for nearly two millenia, is now passing into history.   Its successors are taking many forms.  Each is descending into its own compost of greed, corruption, and murder.  And each is increasingly dependent upon the state to fulfill the role for which it lacks the moral authority to realize; that as an agent of class control.   The rants of the Paul Craig Roberts of western Christendom will increasingly ring hollow as their fate becomes clear.  The old world has become untenable; the new world is yet to be born.   “Christ” as a moral absolute is finished.  He cannot save a capitalism riven by the various insects that now feed off of it.  Capitalism itself is guilty of the most “original” Sin of all.  It has outlived its usefulness.


My advice to Mr Roberts; drop your lap-top and take up Chinese.  They at least know how to make the system work.  Perhaps they will put our tattered model out of its agony.   And free us from the excrescence that is now hissing and spitting everywhere among us.   From 5 pm on.


Merry Christmas