Apr 132016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

From left to right a raucous chorus has emerged to denounce Republican Presidential primary frontrunner Donald Trump as a ‘fascist’. They cite his campaign promises to build an Israeli-style wall along the US border; his threats to expel eleven million undocumented immigrants; and to restrict foreign Muslims from entering the US, as well as the way his pugnacious face and arm resemble those of Benito Mussolini (‘he juts out his chin, he raises his arm’). They decry his extreme nationalism as ‘resembling Hitler’s policy’, by which they mean his opposition to detrimental free trade agreements and his slogan to “Make America Great.. Again.”

In this article I will critically address the current cartoonish image of fascism with fascism’s historical reality, and then proceed to analyze the so-called “lesser evil” politics behind the re-invention of an American fascist in the guise of billionaire Donald Trump.

Fascism: Fact and Fiction

Historically, fascist politics involved organized mass movements, armed militia and paramilitary groups who assaulted political opponents and violently censored critical speech and suppressed the right to assemble. Fascists scapegoated minorities, especially gypsies and Jews, and burned trade unions and leftist headquarters, assassinating their leaders and beating their members. Programmatically, they attacked pacifists and defended overseas wars and empires in the name of ‘living space’. Evoking a past imperial glory, they were not ‘isolationists’.

Candidate Trump has not organized anything resembling a mass movement, let alone an armed militia. There are no ‘TrumpetingBrown Shirts’. At most, the police and a handful of his (often elderly) white supporters have punched a few KKK-dressed provocateurs who have physically disrupted and threatened Trump’s public meetings and his exercise of free speech. In fact, the ‘fascist’ disruption of democratic freedoms seems to be mostly organized and practiced by his political rivals.

Trump, far from scapegoating the powerful Jewish minority in this country, gave a shamelessly Israel-centric speech and received a standing ovation from nearly 18,000 mostly prominent Jews at the March 2016 meeting of the major pro-Israel lobby (AIPAC).

His rhetoric, concerning the expulsion of 11 million undocumented workers from Mexico and Central America and the building of a border wall, is a far cry from the practice of imprisoning and violently expelling over two million undocumented Latinos under the Clinton-Bush-Obama/Clinton regimes. At its worst, Trump promises to continue the existing federal policy on immigration and not create a ‘fascist’ rupture with past administrations. Is a ‘rhetorical cement wall’ worse than the real wall of armed border police, helicopters and armed carriers that have operated under the Presidencies of Clinton – Bush – Obama/Clinton with its hundreds of migrant deaths in the desert? Are declarations of a repressive immigration policy more ‘fascist’ coming from Trump’s loud mouth than the actual official practice of violently seizing undocumented workers from their homes and workplaces with long-term imprisonment and expulsion? Expelling  youth, raised and educated in this country, or violently splitting up productive, well-integrated families and imprisoning their main breadwinners for lack of documents … that’s the official policy of the current and past three administrations.

There is far less of the truly fascist embrace of pre-emptive war and invasion in Trump’s speeches than in the actual policies pursued by the Clinton-Bush-Obama/Clinton regimes. In fact, among Trump’s numerous critics, especially his Republican rivals and the Hillary Clinton camp, we hear the loudest denunciations of his non-interventionist foreign policy (isolationism), which is “out of line” with the interventionist, overseas wars of current and past Republican and Democratic administrations. Trump’s critics and media pundits are ‘horror-struck’ at his apparent willingness to co-operate with Russian President Putin against common enemies, such as ISIS. Is his pragmatic regard of Russia more or less fascist than his rivals’ support for the Ukrainian putsch, orchestrated by the Obama regime in alliance with bona fide armed anti-Semitic Ukrainian fascists? His calls to dump NATO as an expensive drain on US treasure and manpower have the elite howling in outrage!

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The propagandists, who paint Trump as a modern American fascist, cite his crude sexist remarks as ‘examples of a misogynist totalitarian’ while pointing favorably to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton as potentially the ‘first feminist President’. In regard to his alleged misogyny, ‘the Donald’ pointed to Madame First Lady, Senator and Secretary Clinton’s promotion and critical role in US wars against Libya, Iraq and Syria where well over one million women have been rendered refugees, raped, injured or killed. Which is worse, one may ask: Crude locker room jokes or millions of orphaned boys and girls denied parents, homes, education and any future in the Middle East and North Africa? That is the world Midwife Hillary Clinton had helped to deliver.

Misogyny is the in the eye of the deceiver.

Are Trump’s verbal attacks on the practice of US multi-nationals relocating abroad to avoid US taxes and Wall Street financial houses hiding billions of the US elites’ obscene wealth in offshore tax shelters, more detrimental to ‘American values’ (as charged) than Hillary Clinton’s pandering to Wall Street while pocketing over $300,000 for each 45 minute sycophantic performance (marketed as her ‘policy lectures’), or her decades of actively promoting  globalization – including the US job-destroying NAFTA?

Clearly Trump currently lacks program, organization and practice that define a fascist politician. At the very worst, he parrots the general line of attack against immigrants and Muslims. So far he would just bar them from the US but not bomb them ‘to the stone-age’. This should be contrasted with the actual policies carried out by the war-criminals Clinton/Bush/Obama-Clinton. It would be hard for Donald to ‘trump’ Hillary when she threatened to ‘obliterate Iran’ and its scores of millions of citizens because of Iran’s fictitious ‘nuclear program’.

On the other hand, Trump’s own meetings and rallies have been the victim of repeated disruption by organized groups acting like fascist thugs. Role reversal in real life: Trump, the target of rabid sustained mass media attacks, is pronounced the fascist …

Bashing Trump: Backdoor Backing of Hillary the Militarist Psychopath

If the objective case for labeling Trump ‘a fascist’ is weak or non-existent, why do so many prestigious academics and journalists play this stupid game of name-calling?

The common sense explanation of their ruffled bluster is because they are setting up ‘Trump-the- Straw-Dragon’ in order to promote the poisonous Madame Secretary Hillary Clinton as the ‘lesser evil candidate’ for President of the United States.

No serious observer minimally aware of Clinton’s carnal embrace of multiple simultaneous disastrous and destructive wars in Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Libya, could possibly support her – unless if they are convinced that a greater danger looms on the horizon and “we have to defeat fascist Trump at all cost”? No serious democrat or wage and salaried employee can ignore Madame Clinton’s role as Wall Street’s most shameless pimp unless they ‘believe’ that a loud-mouth New York ‘fascist is worse than Wall Street’.

The phony scaremongering about Trump’s “fascism” just serves to cover up Clinton’s most servile promotion of traitorous wars for the benefit of Israel. One should envision the thousands of desperate Syrian refugees clinging to decrepit boats in the Mediterranean when reading excerpts of Clinton’s private e-mails: According to  WikiLeaks, Hillary declared that “the best way to help Israel deal with Iran’s growing nuclear capability (sic) is to help (sic) the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad. … The fall of the House of Assad could well ignite a sectarian war between the Shiites and the majority Sunnis of the region drawing in Iran, which, in the view of Israeli commanders would not be a bad thing for Israel and its Western allies”. Not a bad thing for Israel – but a cruel and criminal policy against a sovereign nation and multi-ethnic society. Madame Clinton followed through with these demented pronouncements, which can only be viewed as genocidal! Clinton promoted the most violent proxy war, uprooting over half of the civilian population of Syria and killing hundreds of thousands, while shredding a sovereign nation. She thus pandered to her Israeli mentors and Pluto-Zionist funders.

To justify backing a serial war monger, a US Secretary of State who has served Israel’s interests, and a politician who has canalized her ‘feminist principles’ with Wall Street billionaires, Hillary Clinton’s smarmy supporters have had to invent an opponent who is even worse: Creating and then denouncing “Trump the Fascist” serves as a backdoor justification for supporting a proven political psychopath!

Apr 092016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

The terror bombings in Paris and Brussels have raised a cacophony of voices, ranging from state officials, Prime Ministers and Presidents, to academics, journalists and media consultants. Tons of ink and print have focused on the psychology, networks and operations of the alleged perpetrators – radicalized young Muslim citizens of the EU.

Few have examined the long-term, large-scale policies of the EU, US and NATO, which have been associated with the development and growth of the worldwide terror networks. This essay will discuss the historical links between Islamist terrorists and the US-Saudi Arabian–Pakistan intervention in Afghanistan, as well as the consequences of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. In Iraq, the US implemented a deliberate policy of destroying all secular state structures and promoting the Balkanization of the country via ethnic-religious and tribal wars – a policy it has followed in subsequent areas of intervention.

The last section will focus on the US-EU-Gulf Petrol-Monarchy proxy invasions and ‘regime change’ bombings of the secular republics of Libya and Syria with the further cultivation and growth of international Islamist terrorism.

Historical Origins of International Islamist Terrorism: Afghanistan

Carpet bombing of Tutukhan hill, northwest of Kabul, during 2nd phase of the U.S air war

Carpet bombing of Tutukhan hill, northwest of Kabul, during 2nd phase of the U.S air war

In 1979, President James Carter and his National Security Chief, Zbigniew Brzezinski, launched Operation Cyclone, a major Islamist uprising against the Soviet- aligned secular Afghan regime. The US coordinated it campaign with the rabidly anti-Soviet monarchy in Saudi Arabia, which provided the funding and mercenaries for ‘international jihad’ against secular governance. This brutal campaign ‘officially’ lasted 10 years until the Soviet withdrawal in 1989. It produced millions of casualties and decades ‘blow-back’ when the CIA-Pakistani-Saudi trained Arab mercenaries (the ‘Afghan-Arabs’) returned to their home countries and elsewhere. The US intelligence agencies, Special Forces Commands and military directorates (especially Pakistan’s ISI intelligence service) trained and armed terrorists with US-Saudi funding. The American covert financial contribution mushroomed over the years rising to over $670 million dollars a year by 1987. Tens of thousands of Islamist mercenaries and adventurers were recruited from the Middle East, North Africa, the Gulf States, the Soviet Union (Chechens), Yugoslavia (Bosnians and Kosovars), China (Uigurs) and Western Europe.

With the defeat of the secular regime of President Najibullah in 1992, the Islamists and tribal factions then fought among themselves, converting Afghanistan into the world’s best-equipped training ground for International Islamist terrorists. Eventually, the Pashtun-based Taliban faction (with Pakistani arms and support) prevailed and established an extreme Islamist regime. The Taliban, despite its rhetoric, settled down to consolidating their brand of ‘Islamism in one country’, (1995-2001), a largely nationalist project. In its quest for respectability, it successfully destroyed the opium poppy fields, earning the praise of US President GW Bush in spring 2001. It also hosted a variety of Saudi princes and warlords, eventually including the jihadi-internationalist Osama bin Laden, who had been driven from North Africa.

Following the terrorist attack on the US in September 2001, US and NATO invaded Afghanistan of October 2001 and overthrew the nation-centered Islamist Taliban regime. The subsequent chaos and guerrilla war opened up a huge new inflow and outflow of thousands of international extremists who came to Afghanistan, trained, fought and then departed, fully prepared to practice their terrorist skills in their countries of origin in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

The US interventions and invasion of Afghanistan provide some of the context for the subsequent bombings in Europe and the US. The Islamist ‘returnees’ to Europe and elsewhere had received funds from Saudi Arabia and training from the CIA and Pakistani intelligence. They began their work among a very ‘available’ constituency of potential recruits in the marginalized Muslim youth of the ghettos and prisons of Europe.

The Middle Period: The US-Zionist Invasion and Destruction of Iraq

Fallujah, Iraq

Fallujah, Iraq

The turning point in the growth and internationalization of Islamist terrorism was the US invasion, occupation and systematic reign of terror in Iraq. Largely under the guidance of key US Zionist policymakers (and Israeli advisers) in the Pentagon, State Department and the White House, the US dismantled the entire secular Iraqi army and police forces. They also purged the administrative, civil, educational, medical and scientific institutions of nationalistic secular professionals, opening the field to warring Islamist tribal factions. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians were killed and millions fled in a regime of ethnic cleansing – which Washington touted as a model for the rest of the Middle East. However, thousands of experienced, but jobless Iraqi military officers, who had survived the US-orchestrated purges, regrouped and eventually joined with tens of thousands of nationalist and internationalist Islamist extremists to form ISIS. Their motives were arguably less ethno-religious and more related to revenge for their displacement and the destruction of their own society.

The deliberate US (Zionist)-EU-Saudi strategy to divide and conquer Iraq initially involved working closely with Sunni feudal tribal leaders and other extremists to counter the rising power of pro-Iranian Shia. They promoted a policy of fragmenting the country with the Kurds dominating in the North, the Sunnis in the center and the Shia in the south (the so-called Joseph Biden-Leslie Gelb Plan of national dismemberment and ethnic cleansing). The rationale was to create a weak central authority completely under US-EU tutelage and loose group of fragmented subsistence fiefdoms in what had been the most advanced secular Arab republic.

Despite pouring billions of dollars in arms from the US to create a puppet-colonial Iraqi ‘national army’, the Saudis and Israelis pursued their own policy of financing sectors of the Kurds and violent Sunni opposition – with the latter forming the original mass base of ISIS.

As the US-client Shia regime in Baghdad focused on stealing billions while killing or exiling hundreds of thousands of educated Sunnis, Christians and other secular Iraqis from the capital, the morale of its US-puppet troops plummeted. With the entire experienced and nationalist Iraqi officer core purged (slaughtered or driven into hiding), the new puppet officers were cowardly, corrupt and incompetent – as openly acknowledged by their US ‘advisers’. ISIS, meanwhile had acquired hundreds of thousands of US weapons and was financed by the Shia-hating Saudi Royal Family and other Gulf Monarchs. Armed Sunnis soon launched major, lightning-quick offensives under the leadership of ex-Baathist army officers, supported by thousands of terrorists, suicide bombers and foreign mercenaries. US and European ‘military experts’ expressed ‘shock’ at their effectiveness.

ISIS routed the Baghdad-controlled army, their US advisers and Kurdish allies from northern Iraq, capturing major cities, including Mosul, thousands of productive oil wells and drove their forces to within a few dozen kilometers of Baghdad. Territorial conquest and military successes attracted thousands more Islamist volunteers from the Middle East, Europe, Afghanistan and even North America. ISIS provided the military training; Saudi Arabia paid their salaries; Turkey purchased their captured oil and antiquities and opened its borders to the transfer of jihadi troops and weapons. Israel, for its part, purchased captured ISIS petrol at a discount from corrupt Turkish traders. Each regional player had its snout in the bloody trough that had once been Iraq!

ISIS successes in Iraq, led it to expand its operations and ambitions across the border into Syria. This occurred just as the US and EU were bombing and destroying the secular government of Colonel Gaddafi in Libya, in another ‘wildly successful’ planned campaign of ‘regime change’ (According to US Secretary of State Clinton as she gleefully watched the captive wounded Gadhafi ‘snuff film’ by unspeakable torture – ‘WE came and HE died’.).

Smoke fills the sky over Tripoli

Smoke fills the sky over Tripoli

The chaos that ensued in Libya led to an exponential growth of extremist Islamist groups with tons of weapons of ‘liberated’ Libyan weapons! Islamist terrorists in Libya gained territory, took over oil wells and attracted ‘volunteers’ from the marginalized youth of neighboring Tunisia, Egypt, Mali and as far away as Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria – flush with more guns, money and training. Many graduates went on to Syria and Iraq.

The Contemporary Period: EU-US-Turkey-Saudi-Israeli Sponsored War in Syria

Syrian government “barrel bombs”? No, U.S. “precision bombing” lays waste to Kobanê, 18 October 2014. Drive the imperialists out of the Middle East!  (Kai Pfaffenbac//Reuters

Syrian government “barrel bombs”? No, U.S. “precision bombing” lays waste to Kobanê, 18 October 2014. Drive the imperialists out of the Middle East! (Kai Pfaffenbac//Reuters

In 2011, as ISIS rolled across the Iraqi border into Syria and terrorist Islamist bands seized cities in Libya, the US-EU-Turkish-Saudi and Israeli regimes financed and armed Islamist (and the mythical ‘moderate’) forces in Syria to overthrow the nationalist-secular Syrian regime of Bashar al Assad.

Thousands of Islamist extremist volunteers heeded the call (and the fat paychecks) of the Saudi regime and its Salafist propagandists. These constituted the Saudi Royal Family’s own ‘Foreign Legion’. They were trained and armed and shipped into Syria by Turkish intelligence. The US armed and trained hundreds of its own so-called ‘moderate rebels’ whose fighters quickly defected to ISIS and other terrorist groups turning over tons of US arms, while the ‘moderate rebel leaders’ gave press conferences from London and Washington. ISIS seized swaths of Syrian territory, sweeping westward toward the Russian naval and air bases on the coast and upward from the south, encircling Damascus. Millions were uprooted and minority populations were enslaved or slaughtered.

The news of ISIS territorial gains with their plundered oil wealth from sales to Turkey and the flow of arms from Saudi Arabia, the EU and the US attracted over 30,000 ‘volunteer’ mercenaries from North America, Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.

These new terrorists received military training, including bomb making and logistical planning in Syria. Many were citizens of the EU, Islamist extremists, numbering over five thousand. These young fighters trained and fought in Syria and then returned to France, Belgium, Germany and the rest of the EU. They had gone to Syria with the tacit support and/or tolerance of their own European governments who had used them, rather than NATO troops, in the US-EU campaign of ‘regime change’ against Damascus.

The European governments were sure they had ‘their’ Muslim recruits under control as they joined the US in a reckless policy of overthrowing independent secular governments in the Middle East and North Africa. They happily encouraged their marginalized young Muslim citizens to flock Syria and fight. They hoped they would remain in Syria (fighting on the ground or buried under the ground). Officially, EU leaders claimed to support ‘moderate rebels’ (the bland term Western media used to sanitize Islamist terrorists) fighting the Assad ‘dictatorship’. European regimes were not prepared to detain the battle hardened ‘returnees’, who had been trained in Iraq and Syria. These young European Muslims (children of immigrants or converts to Islam) had been heavily indoctrinated and incorporated into international terrorist networks. They easily melted back into their marginalized European urban ghettos – beyond the control of Europe’s bloated intelligence services.

In practice, the EU regimes saw the thousands of Europe’s Muslim youth flocking to Syria as an ‘EU Foreign Legion’, a glorified wastebasket for unemployed young thugs and ex-prisoners, who would advance NATO’s imperial goals while solving the domestic social problem of the marginalized children of North African migrants. Europe’s Muslim youth were viewed as convenient cannon fodder by NATO planners and the governments of France, Belgium and the UK. For public relations, it was better for these young men and women to die overthrowing the secular government in Syria than to send in European soldiers (white Christians) whose deaths would have domestic political repercussions.

The EU underestimated the depth of antagonism these ‘volunteers’ felt about US-EU intervention in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as their anger at Europe’s continued support for Israeli land grabs in Palestine. In its racist arrogance, EU leaders underestimated the capacity of ISIS to indoctrinate, train and organize these marginalized kids from Europe’s slums into effective international cells able to carry the war back to Europe.

The EU smugly overlooked the active roles of Turkey and Saudi Arabia who had their own independent, regional ambitions. Ankara and Riyadh trained and financed the ‘volunteers’, and facilitated their flow into Syria from camps in Turkey and Jordan. The wounded were treated in Turkey and sometimes even in Israel. Thousands, many EU citizens, would flow back into Europe or to their countries of origin in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as Russia.

The EU had slavishly and blindly followed Washington’s lead in all its Middle East wars. Now it is paying a big price:  Thousands of trained terrorists have returned; bombings and attacks on European civilians and civil structures have occurred, while the European government leaders trip over each other in a mad rush to dismantle civil and constitutional citizen rights and impose wide ranging police state measures (States of Emergency).

These new Saudi-funded terrorist recruits (Riyadh’s Legionnaires) are active in all the countries where the US and EU have launched proxy wars: Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan. Turkey funds ISIS terrorists in Syria, Iraq and Kurdish territories to advance its own expansionist ambitions – oblivious to the clucking disapproval of EU leaders. Now Turkey receives over 6 billion Euro’s from the EU in what amounts to blackmail: In return, Turkey will ‘contain’ the flood of regional refugees in barely disguised concentration camps out of European sight.

Conclusion

            Ever since the US-EU policymakers decided to implement a war against Arab and West Asian secular nationalism in the Middle-East, Afghanistan, Iran and North Africa through serial ‘regime change’ campaigns they have relied on Islamist Salafist mercenaries and volunteers to do most of the killing on the ground, while the West operates from the air. Washington and its NATO allies operated on the assumption that they could use and then discard their recruits, mostly from marginalized urban youth and criminal gangs, once they had served imperial military purposes. A few with requisite talent and ruthlessness could be turned into puppet ‘leaders’ to unleash on the Russians and other ‘obstacles’ in future engagements.

The EU-US totally misunderstood the volunteers’ high level of independence, their organizational autonomy and their own understanding of the tactical nature of their alliance with Western imperialism. Islamist extremist leaders, like their Western counterparts, believe there are no permanent alliances – only permanent interests.

The EU and US have pursued a policy of overthrowing independent Muslim and secular Arab nations and returning them to the status of pre-independence semi-colonies. The rollback policy against secular nationalism (with its deep roots in the Dulles era) has extended from North Africa, through the Middle East to Southwest Asia. For its part, ISIS and its allies envision a return to a pre-colonial Islamic caliphate over the same lands and people to counter Western imperialism. Millions are caught in the middle.

ISIS views the Westernized secular elites in the Muslim countries as a fifth column for the spread of empire, while it has re-socialized and trained young Islamists from the EU to serve as networks of terrorists ‘behind enemy lines’ sowing mayhem in the West.

The political repercussions of this internationalized war are profound. Millions of civilians in the war zones have been and will be killed, uprooted and converted into desperate refugees flooding the EU. Police-state emergency rule, arbitrary searches, arrests and interrogations have become the norm in the highly militarized European airports, train and metro stations, as well as markets and cultural centers. The EU has increasingly undergone an ‘Israelization’ of its society, with its population polarized and resembling Israel- Palestinian . . . its Muslim community marginalized and confined into little Gaza’s.

In this charged atmosphere, Israeli high tech security companies and advisers flourish, mergers and acquisitions of police state technology multiply. Israeli Prime Minister Benny Netanyahu embraces the French Prime Minister Hollande in the club of electoral authoritarians.

Meanwhile the refugees and their children flow to and fro, the bombs come and go. We line up to place flowers on our latest dead and then pay our taxes for more wars in the Middle East. More young ‘volunteers’ will become cheap fodder to fight in our wars; some will return and plant more bombs, so we can mourn some more at patriotic vigils – protected by armed battalions…

Mar 102016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

2013-05-02T021620Z_01_WAS916_RTRIDSP_3_USA_image_982w

Introduction

Pluto-Zionism is the three-way marriage of plutocracy, rightwing Zionism and US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, a serial war criminal, racist and servant of Wall Street. How did this deadly ménage-a-trots cone about? The answer is that a stratospherically wealthy donor group, dedicated to promoting Israel’s dominance in the Middle East and deepening US military intervention in the region, has secured Clinton’s unconditional support for Tel Aviv’s ambitions and, in exchange, Hilary receives scores of millions to finance her Democratic Party foot soldiers and voters for her campaign.

Pluto-Zionism and Clinton

Pluto-Zionists comprise the leading financial backers of Clinton. Her million-dollar backers, among the most powerful financiers and media moguls in America, include: George Soros ($6 million), Marc Benioff, Roger Altman, Steven Spielberg, Haim and Cheryl Saban ($3 million and counting), Jeffrey Katzenberg, Donald Sussman, Herb Sandler, Jay and Mark Pritzker, S. Daniel Abraham ($1 million), Bernard Schwartz, Marc Lasry, Paul Singer, David Geffen, Fred Eychaner, Norman Braman and Bernie Marcus. Waiting in the wings are the  Republican billionaire ‘king-makers’, Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, the Koch brothers as well as the ‘liberal’ multi-billionaire, Michael Bloomberg who had contributed $11 million in 2012 elections. These erstwhile Republican funders are increasing frightened by the anti-‘free trade and anti-intervention’ rhetoric of their party’s front-runner, Donald Trump, and are approaching the solidly pro-Israel, pro-war and pro-Wall Street candidate, Madame Clinton.

Israeli-First Ideologues and Clinton

In addition to the powerful Pluto-Zionists, a vast army of ‘Israel-First’ ideologues is behind Clinton, including ‘veteran’ arm-chair war mongers like Victoria Nuland Kagan, Donald and Robert Kagan, Robert Zoellick, Michael Chertoff, Dov Zakheim among so many other promoters of Washington’s continuous wars on many fronts. Ms Nuland-Kagan, as US Undersecretary of State for East European Affairs, openly bragged about using hundreds of millions of dollars of US taxpayer money to finance the right-wing Ukrainian coup. Michael Chertoff, as head of Homeland Security after 9/11, jailed thousands of innocent Muslims while freeing five Israeli-Mossad agents arrested by the FBI for suspected involvement or pre-knowledge of the attacks in New York after they were seen filming the collapse of the towers and celebrating the event from a warehouse rooftop in New Jersey!).

Pluto-Zionists and the Israel-First ideologues support Ms Clinton as a reward for her extraordinary military and economic activities on behalf of Tel Aviv’s quest for regional dominance. Her accomplishments for the Jewish State include the promotion of full-scale wars, which have destroyed Iraq, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan; economic sanctions and blockade against Iran (she threatened to ‘obliterate Iran’ in 2007; and her own repeatedly stated unconditional support for Israel’s devastation against the people imprisoned in Gaza, which has cost thousands of civilian lives and rendered hundreds of thousands homeless. (In a letter to her ‘banker’, Haim Saban, Hillary stated: “Israel didn’t teach Hamas (the people of Gaza) a harsh enough lesson last year”).

Clinton versus Trump: ‘Moderation’ is in the Eyes of the Deceiver

The Pluto-Zionists, Israel-First ideologues, the US mass media and their acolytes on Wall Street and the Republican and Democratic Party elite are all on a rampage against the wildly popular Republican frontrunner, Donald Trump, labeling him as ‘a danger to everything America stands for. (sic)’ Apart from savaging his persona, the anti-Trump chorus contrast his ‘extremism’ with warmonger Clinton’s ‘pragmatism’.

A careful examination of the facts reveals who is the ultra-extremist and who deals with reality:

Women

Madame Clinton’s much touted wars against the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya have killed and maimed hundreds of thousands of women and children and uprooted millions of households. This bloody and undeniable record of mayhem was cited by Donald Trump when he argued that his policies would be much better for women than the Feminist Clinton’s had been.

So far, Trump’s worst offenses against women are his crude rhetorical misogynist quips, which pale before Hillary’s bloody record of devastation.

African-Americans

Clinton is backed by the leading black politicians who have long fed out of the Democratic Party patronage trough while selling the Clintons to the black electorate as ardent protectors of civil rights. In fact, as Steve Lensman has written, Hillary had referred to marginalized black youth as “super predators (with) no conscience, no empathy”. During her husband Bill’s presidency, she was on record supporting his draconian ‘three strikes’ crime laws, leading to the mass incarceration of hundreds of thousands of young blacks; and she backed his ‘welfare reform’ program, which shredded the social safety net for the poor and forced millions of impoverished mothers to work for sub-poverty wages, further eroding the stability of black female-headed households. On the African front, ‘Sister’ Secretary of State Hillary’s war on Libya led to the displacement, rape and murder of tens of thousands of black women of sub-Saharan origin at the hands of her jihadi war-lord allies. Millions of black sub-Saharan migrants had lived and worked in Gaddafi’s Libya for years, tens of thousands becoming Libyan citizens. They endured the horror of rampant ethnic cleansing in Clinton’s ‘liberated’ Libya.

Trump, at worst, has done nothing of direct harm to African Americans and remains an enigma on black issues. He opposes Clinton’s war on Libya and has vividly blamed her policies as responsible for the chaos and human misery in post-NATO bombing Libya.

Latinos

Under the Obama-Clinton administration almost 2 million Latino immigrants have been seized from their homes and workplaces, separated from their families and summarily expelled. As Madame Secretary of State, Clinton backed the Honduran military coup that overthrew the elected government of President Zelaya and led directly to assassination of over three hundred activists, including feminist, indigenous, human rights and environmental leaders, like Berta Careers. Clinton actively backed unsuccessful coups against the democratically elected Bolivian and Venezuelan governments.

Trump has verbally threaten to extend and deepen the Obama-Clinton expulsion of whatever remains of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrant Latino workers after Obama’s expulsion of the 2 million and the hundreds of thousands who have voluntarily gone home. His ‘extremist’ vision is completely in line with that of his allegedly ‘pragmatic’ opponent whose State Department promoted the destruction of so many Latino families in the US.

Foreign Policy

Clinton has launched or promoted more simultaneous wars than any Secretary of State in US history. She was the leading force behind the US bombing of Libya and the brutal ‘regime change’ that has fractured that nation. She promoted the military escalation in Iraq, backed the violent seizure of power in Ukraine, ‘engineered’ the military build-up (pivot to Asia) against China and negotiated the continued presence of thousands of US troops in Afghanistan.

Clinton has repeatedly pledged to her supporter Haim Saban and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that she will give Israel with “all the necessary military, diplomatic, economic and moral support it needs to vanquish Hamas” regardless of the many thousands of Palestinian civilian casualties. The ‘pragmatic feminist’ Hillary is a fervent supporter of the Saudi despotism and its genocide war against the popular forces in Yemen. Hillary tried to pressure President Obama to send US ground troops into Syria. She promotes the continuation of harsh trade sanctions against Russia.

Trump opposes any further direct US intervention in the Middle East. During his debate in South Carolina, he repeatedly denounced President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq – as based on ‘deliberate lies to the American people’, to the shock and horror of the Republican Party elite. He has rejected Pluto-Zionist financing, arguing that only as an independent ‘honest broker’,  who doesn’t take the side of Israel in its conflict with Palestinians, can he be effective in brokering a ‘deal’. He opposes sending ground troops overseas to Europe or Asia, which imposes a huge financial burden on the US taxpayers. He has gone on to suggest that European and Asian powers can and should pay for their own defense. Trump argues that the US could work with Putin against radical Islamist terrorism and he regards Russia as a potential trading partner. His anti-interventionism has been labeled as ‘isolationist’ by the Pluto-Zionist ideologues and militarist warlords holed up in their Washington think tanks, but Trump’s ‘America First’ resonates profoundly with the war-weary and economically devastated US electorate.

Israel

Clinton has totally and unconditionally pledged to widen and deepen US subordination to Israel’s war aims in the Middle East and to defend Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinian people in the occupied territories and within apartheid Israel. As a result, Clinton has built a coalition made-up of unsavory mafia-linked, gambling, media and speculator billionaires, whose first loyalty is not to America but Israel. She denounces all critics of Israel as ‘anti-Semites’.

Trump has never been a critic of Israel but he has called for greater ‘evenhandedness’, which is anathema within Zionist circles. For that reason he has not secured a single Pluto-Zionist supporter. So far, he has not been labelled an anti-Semite … perhaps because his own daughter converted to Judaism following her marriage, but his lack of effusive philo-Zionism has him marked as ‘unreliable’ to the Jewish State. As a subterfuge for his lack of servility to Tel Aviv, Democratic Party Zionist hacks emphasize his ‘racism’ and ‘fascist’ tendencies…

The Democratic Elections: The Real Muck 

Clinton currently leads Sanders for the Democratic nomination mostly on the basis of non-elected delegates, the so-called ‘super delegates’, who are party loyalists appointed by the bosses and elite politicians. Sanders’ call for a “political revolution in America” has no traction unless there is first a political revolution within the Democratic Party. But the Democratic Party is like the Augean Stable – a clean up requiring a Herculean effort and a loud pugnacious leader with a big broom. Senator Sanders is no Hercules.

As a positive beginning, Sanders has mobilized grass roots support, raised progressive health, education and tax policies that adversely affect Clinton’s billionaire Wall Street backers (Big financier Jaime Diamond called Sanders ‘the most dangerous man in America’), and secured millions of contributions from small donors. But he has failed to target and demand the exit of the Pluto-Zionists, the Wall Street bankers and speculators and venal black politicians controlling the Democratic Party. They run the elections of US presidents and will make sure Hillary Clinton secures the nomination by hook or (more likely) crook.

Clinton is backed by this formidable authoritarian (profoundly anti-democratic) electoral machine. She is totally embedded in the process. Clinton has a track record of enthusiastic support for the barbarism of torture – laughing at and cheering on the torture-death of the wounded Libyan President Gaddafi. In the pursuit of wars and war crimes, Hillary Clinton knows no limit and has borne no accountability. What makes Hillary so terrifyingly dangerous is that she could be ‘Commander in Chief’ of a great military power. While Clinton may be no Hitler, the US is vastly more engaged in world politics than Weimer Germany ever was. Her dictate would bring on global destruction.

If the Democratic primaries are as profoundly undemocratic as they have been in the past, the Republicans and their plutocrat partners are openly planning and plotting to ‘Dump the Donald’ and prevent Trump from obtaining an electoral victory. They have been discussing ways to use convention procedures to undermine a majority vote, and set up a ‘brokered convention’, where the ‘big-wigs’ jigger the delegates, rules and voting procedures behind closed doors robbing the populist front-runner of his party candidacy.

Conclusion

The US presidential primaries reveal in all their facets the decay and corruption of democracy in an era of imperial decline. The ascendancy of a financial oligarchy in the Democratic Party, backing a psychopathic militarist, like Hillary, cannot disguise her track record by labeling their candidate a ‘pragmatist’; the majority of Sanders supporters have no illusions about Madame Clinton. Panic and hysteria among an unsavory elite in the Republican Party and its efforts to block a sui-generis conservative Republican isolationist speaks to the fragility of imperial rule.

If the psychopathic war-monger Clinton is crowned the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, there is no way she can be considered the pragmatic ‘lesser evil’ to Donald Trump or any Republican – their bosses decide to spew out. At best, she might be the ‘equal evil’. In this case, more than 50% of the electorate will not vote. If, after being robbed of his growing movement for the Democratic Party candidacy, ‘Bernie’ Sanders does not break out with an independent bid for the White House, I will join the minuscule 1% who vote for Green Party candidate, Dr. Jill Stein.

Mar 082016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

Mapping the emerging global economic, political and military configurations requires that we examine regions and countries along several dynamic policy axis:

  1. Capitalist versus anti-capitalist
  2. Neoliberal versus anti-neoliberal
  3. Austerity versus anti-austerity
  4. War command centers and war zones
  5. Political change and socio-economic continuity
  6. New Order and political decay

Though many of these dimensions overlap, they also highlight the complexity and influence of local and national versus global power relations.

We will first identify and classify the regimes and emerging movements, which fall into each of these categories, and then proceed to generalize about current ‘global’ trends and future perspectives based on approximations of the real correlation of forces.

Capitalism versus Anti-Capitalism

Capitalism is the only economic system throughout the world. However, it has and continues to experience periods of severe crisis, stagnation and breakdown. Several regimes continue to declare themselves ‘socialist’ (like Cuba, Venezuela and China) even as they pursue large scale foreign investments, establish free trade zones and provide incentives to stimulate expansion of the private sector.

Anti-capitalist parties, movements and trade unions have emerged and some still engage in large-scale class-struggles. But others have capitulated, like Syriza in Greece, and Refundacion Comunista in Italy, which renounced any anti-capitalist pretense and embraced neo-liberal variants of capitalism.

Anti-capitalist tendencies are at best implicit in the mass working class strikes occurring in China, India and South Africa and explicitly by minor parties in Europe, Asia, South America and elsewhere. Much more significant are the conflicts and struggles between variants of capitalism: neoliberal and anti-neoliberal regimes and movements; and between austerity and anti-austerity regimes and movements.

In military terms, conflicts can best be understood by differentiating between ‘war (command) centers’ in the imperial countries and ‘war zones’.

Neoliberal and Anti-Neoliberal Correlations of Power

The balance of power has shifted toward pro-neoliberal regimes over the past two years. Even where political regime changes have occurred, they have not been accompanied by any significant shifts toward anti-neoliberal policies.

Latin America has witnessed the biggest shift toward hard-right neoliberal regimes and policies. Rightwing extremists won presidential elections in Argentina and legislative elections in Venezuela. In Brazil the so-called ‘Workers Party’ regime has embraced a neoliberal austerity program. In Bolivia, the social democratic Movement to Socialism lost the recent referendum allowing a 3rd term re-election for President Evo Morales. The organized forces that defeated the referendum were predominantly hardline neo-liberals.

Elsewhere, in Latin America political changes, from hardline neoliberal presidents to ostensible social democrats (Chile and El Salvador) and nationalists (Peru), simply led to the continuation of free market economic policies. Even socialist regimes, like Cuba, have introduced market incentives and free trade zones for foreign multi-nationals.

In the Middle East and North Africa, popular revolts against incumbent neoliberal despots were violently suppressed. Recycled neoliberal military autocrats and politicians returned to power in Egypt, Tunisia, Israel, Iraq and Yemen.

Iran, under the recently elected ‘reformist’ Rohani regime, has opened the oil and gas fields to foreign capital and captured about 40% of the legislative deputies in the February 2016 election.

In Asia, neoliberals, who took power in recent elections in India and Indonesia, are moving to de-regulate and promote foreign multi-national capital penetration. China and Russia have moved to facilitate financial capital flows – resulting in  multi-billion-dollar capital flight and the relocation of new billionaire families to Canada, England, the US and other Western countries.

In Europe, Scandinavian and Low Countries, Social Democrats have embraced and deepened neoliberal policies even as they lose support to rightwing anti-immigrant parties.

In the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania hardline neoliberals have imposed harsh austerity programs provoking protests of no great political consequences, as the opposition has promoted the same policies.

Russia, under Putin, has succeeded in the reconstruction of the state and economy after the destructive policies of Gorbachev and Yeltsin. But apart from ending the flagrant pillage of the economy by a gangster-ridden oligarchy, Russia is still an oil-dependent state in which billionaires invest and disinvest with facility.

Greece, which became a bankrupt vassal state under the rule of corrupt rightwing parties, experienced an electoral revolt in January of 2015, electing a supposedly leftist “anti-neoliberal” party. Syriza, under the leadership of Alexis Tsipras, embraced a brutal European Union – IMF austerity program plunging Greece deeper into debt, stagnation, poverty and vassalage.

In Portugal, an anti-austerity alliance between the Socialist (social democrats) and the Communist and Left Bloc parties formed a new government. However, under pressure from the EU, it capitulated, surrendering its tepid anti-austerity proposals.

In Canada, the opposition Liberal Party defeated the Conservatives, offering cosmetic changes and promptly reneged on its promises to end austerity.

In sum, the neoliberal- austerity onslaught provoked mass electoral opposition that led to political changes, bringing to power parties and leaders who embraced almost identical policies! In some cases, the changes deepened neoliberal policies by extending austerity measures; in other cases, they modified some of the restrictions on salaries and social expenditures.

The February (2016) elections in Ireland are a case in point: The neoliberal austerity enthusiasts in the governing coalition (Fine Gael and the Labor Party) were defeated and the Fianna Fáil re-emerged as a leading party, even though it had brought about the economic crisis and breakdown! The only exception to this revolving door politics was an increase in the vote for the national-populist Sinn Fein Party and a scattering of anti-neoliberal and left parties. In the end, the two neoliberal parties are likely to form a coalition regime.

In Europe, the main anti-neoliberal, anti-austerity parties are rightwing-conservatives who have won election in Poland and Hungary and opposition parties like the National Front in France.

The major exception is in Spain where a leftist party, Podemos, has embraced an anti-austerity program, even as it offered to form a coalition government with the neoliberal Socialist Party. The coalition regime never came about.

The return, continuation and triumph of neoliberal and austerity parties and policies occur despite a deepening economic crisis and growing popular hostility.

In the Middle East, North Africa, the Baltic and Eastern European states, Egypt, Tunisia, Lithuania and Poland, repressionhas undercut leftist opposition.

Secondly, nationalist parties and conservative regimes have pre-empted attacks on austerity as is the case in France and Hungary and have marginalized the Left.

Thirdly, international tensions, wars, coups and military build-ups in Ukraine, Syria, Yemen, Turkey and Southeast Asia have temporarily undercut popular opposition to neoliberal and austerity programs.

In the Ukraine, the US-backed neoliberal regime has virtually collapsed and is widely discredited. The problem is that the most aggressive opposition comes from the neo-Nazi Right!

In the short-run, international conflicts have temporarily distracted popular opposition to neoliberalism. However, over time, the wars, coups and military destruction are exacerbating the domestic crisis, as refuges flood and threaten to disintegrate the European Union.

EU sanctions toward Russia over the Ukraine exacerbated the economic crisis.

The Saudi-Turkey-US-EU-sponsored terror war against Syria and its allies heightens tensions and dampens investment in the region.

In other words, neoliberal/austerity regimes are threatened less by internal opposition than they are by the expansion of ‘war zones’, emanating from ‘imperial war centers’.

War Centers and War Zones

The economic and political configurations and divisions, which we have described, emphasize the varieties of capitalist regimes, the advance of neoliberalism and the emergence of variations among capitalists (austerity versus anti-austerity). US and EU militarism has deepened cleavages between emergent (China) and re-emergent (Russia) capitalist powers.

The political-economic map and the correlation of forces are deeply affected by military conflicts.

Wars, coups and insurgencies profoundly impact the scope, depth and character of socio-economic systems, above and beyond the dichotomies stated above.

Essentially the global military divisions can be understood through identifying war (imperial command) centers and war zones.

War centers are countries and regimes, which plan, organize, fund and execute military action against other countries. The war centers usually are run by imperialist regimes, which span the globe with military bases in order to defend and promote financial and multi-national corporation domination in other countries.

The war centers, form alliances, but also compete among themselves; they have follower regimes providing bases, mercenary soldiers and political support, even to the point of sacrificing their own economic goals in order to serve the dominant war centers. Follower regimes participate only at the periphery of decision-making.

War centers have global interests (US, EU), regional interests (Saudi Arabia and Israel – the Middle East) and local interests (Ukraine – Crimea).

The war centers with global interests have clearly defined adversaries: They target emerging military and economic competitors, like Russia and China; nationalist regimes, like Venezuela, Syria and Iran; popular anti-imperialist movements (Hezbollah in Lebanon) and Islamist anti-Western movements (Taliban in Afghanistan). The war centers, at the same time, correlate with neoliberal regimes and destroy or undermine lucrative markets and prosperous sites for investments by expanding the war zones.

War zones, defined by the US and the EU, have included Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Ukraine and earlier Yugoslavia. The ensuing wars succeeded in ousting incumbent regimes and splintering target countries, but failed to consolidate political control and, above all, destroyed hundreds of billions of dollars in investment, trade, financial and resource extraction opportunities.

The war centers have engaged in three levels of military engagement: (1) High intensity, signifying long-term large-scale warfare involving massive expenditures and commitments of troops such as Iraq and Afghanistan; (2) Middle level intensity, involving US-EU air wars and the use of proxy mercenaries as in Syria, Ukraine and Libya; and (3) Low intensity wars providing military support to regional allies, e.g. Israel’s onslaughts against the Palestinians, Saudi Arabia’s assault on Yemen and Turkey’s war against the Kurds in Iraq, Syria and Kurdish regions of Turkey.

The war centers in the EU and US have differences over China. The EU favors market expansion, while the US seeks to intensify the military encirclement of China.

Likewise, Europe and the US have differences over sanctions against Russia: the economic elite in the European Union, with billions of Euros invested in Russia is divided. Meanwhile the US mobilizes its clients in Poland and the Baltic countries to escalate military operations on Russia’s borders.

The growth of military tensions reflects both economic competition (US-EU versus China) and military expansion (US-EU coups in Ukraine).

Conclusion

The growth and advance of neoliberal and austerity regimes are largely the outcome of domestic or internal class conflicts. These, in turn, are the result of political-electoral contests where the imperial powers play an indirect role (mostly financial/propaganda).

In other words, the advance of neoliberal capitalism is not a result of imperial wars. It conquers because of its electoral advances and because of the defeats, retreats and capitulations of the trade unions and leftist political parties.

The limits of neoliberalism have been clearly set by destructive wars from the imperial military centers; the sanctions imposed on independent capitalist countries; and the alliances with destructive, aspiring regional hegemony (Israel, Turkey and Saudi Arabia).

The prolonged war economy and the neoliberal policies of the imperial centers have concentrated wealth, undermined economic growth, provoked downward social mobility and led to massive population displacement in war zones.

Widespread malaise among voters subject to the destabilization and disintegration of the European Union and the brutal concentration of wealth, power and privilege within the US has led to the emergence of social democratic and rightwing nationalist mass electoral movements.

High intensity warfare and prolonged austerity and social polarization have created a chaotic political universe and a multitude of diverse conflicts within the capitalist system.

If the anti-capitalist left is nowhere near overthrowing the system, the system may self-destruct, in a war of all against all: the great sow devouring her own progeny.

Mar 072016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

9/12/07 Salon Blanco: Banco del Sur.

Introduction

Over the past three years Latin American leftist leaders, who presided over heterodox ‘free trade’ and commodity based welfare economies, lost presidential, legislative and municipal elections and referendums or faced impeachment. They fell because they lost competitive elections, not because of US invasions or military coups. These same leftist leaders, who had successfully defeated coups and withstood gross US political intervention via AID, NED, the DEA and other US government agencies, lost at the ballot box.

What accounts for the changing capacity of leftist presidents to retain majoritarian electoral support over almost a decade? Why did the US-backed and funded candidates win this time, when they had been defeated in several previous elections? What accounts for the defeat of the rightist violent road to power and their subsequent victory via the electoral process?

Class Struggle and Popular Mobilization as a Prelude to Leftist Electoral Victories

The electoral victories of the Left were preceded by a deep crisis in the ‘free market’ and deregulated economies, which were accompanied by intense class struggle from below. Class struggle polarized and radicalized vast sections of the working and middle classes.

In Argentina, the total collapse of the financial and manufacturing system led to a popular uprising and the rapid overthrow of three presidents. In Bolivia, two popular uprisings overthrew two US backed ‘free market’ presidents. In Ecuador, a popular ‘citizen movement’ ousted a US-backed president.

In Brazil, Paraguay and Venezuela, burgeoning peasant and urban movements, engaged in direct action and in opposition to their ‘free market’ presidents, resulted in the election of left presidents.

Four inter-connected factors came to the fore to explain the left’s rise to power: First, the dramatic collapse and ensuing socio-economic crisis, entailing poverty, stagnation and repression by rightwing regimes, precipitated a large-scale shift to the left. Secondly, the intense class struggle, responding to the crisis, politicized the workers, radicalized the downwardly mobile middle classes and eroded the influence of the ruling class and the impact of their elite-controlled mass media. Thirdly, the leftist presidents promised long-term large-scale structural changes and successfully implemented immediate social impact programs (employment, social benefits, bank deposit protection, pay raises and large scale public investments). Last, but not least, the leftist presidents came to power at the beginning of or during a mega-cycle commodity boom providing multi-billion dollar surpluses in export earnings and tax revenues with which to finance new inclusionary social programs.

Electoral Clientalized Politics, Social De-Mobilization and Extractive Partnerships

During the first years of the left governments, they kept the heat on the rightwing elites: defeating abortive coups, expelling intrusive US Ambassadors and US agencies and defeating the local US clients.

They moved on the legal front to consolidate political power by convoking constitutional assemblies to approve progressive constitutions. They attracted and built on the support from their new indigenous, popular and middle class constituents.

The constitutional changes reorganized new social alignments, especially the rights of indigenous people, but fell far short of serving as the basis for a change of property relations.

The left governments reinforced their dependence on agro-mineral exports by designing a growth strategy based on economic partnership with multi-nationals and agro-business plantation owners.

The rising prices of commodities on the world market led to increases in government revenues, public investment in infrastructure and expanded employment in the public sector. The left governments constructed large-scale patronage systems and clientelistic electoral machines, which ‘mobilized’ the masses on electoral and ceremonial occasions and for international forums.

International left academics and journalists were impressed by the left administrations’ fiery rhetoric supporting anti-imperialist, anti-neoliberal policies. Local and overseas pundits parroted the rhetoric about new forms of ‘socialism’, 21st century socialism in Ecuador and Venezuela and Andean socialism in Bolivia.

In actual practice long-term, large-scale contracts were signed with international giants like, Repsol, Monsanto, Jindel and scores of other imperial backed multi-nationals.

Big agro-exporters received credits, loans and technical aid while peasants and local producers received only the paper ‘land titles’ for their small holdings. No large-scale land distributions were undertaken. Landless peasants, who were engaged in land occupations, were forcibly evicted. Increased government spending on credit and technical assistance was channeled almost exclusively to large-scale soya, cattle, cotton and other agro-exporters, which increased rural class inequalities and exacerbated the decline of food security.

During the decade, militants became functionaries, who developed ties with business groups and began their own process of ‘social mobility’.

The agro-mineral export model raised incomes and reduced poverty but also accentuated inequalities between government functionaries and peasants and urban workers. The newly affluent, upwardly mobile middle class no longer flocked to hear ‘egalitarian rhetoric’. They sought security, pursued credit-financed consumerism and looked upward toward the wealthy elite for their role models and life style changes – rather than expressing solidarity with those left behind.

From Retreat to Defeat: Pragmatic Accommodation as a Formula for Neo-Liberal Restoration

The leaders’ anti-imperialist rhetoric was increasingly discounted by most people as it was contrasted with the large-scale inflow of capital and the contracts with multi-nationals.

The symbolic ‘gestures’ and local projects celebrated before large crowds were accepted but increasingly failed to compensate for the daily routines of centralized power and local corruption.

Over the decade the political cadres of the left governments rounded-up votes via electoral patronage favors, financed by bribes from contractors and illicit transfers of public funds.

Re-election bred complacency, arrogance and a sense of impunity. The perquisites of office were taken for granted by party leader but were perceived as unwarranted privileges by many working class and peasant voters.

The de-radicalization process at the top and middle levels of the left regimes led the lower classes to rely on individualistic, family and local solutions to their everyday problems.

With the demise of the commodity cycle, the broad coalition of workers, peasants, middle class and professional groups splintered. Many rejected the malfeasance of the left regimes as a betrayal of the promise of change.

Thus the popular sectors embraced the moralizing critique mounted by the right.

The retrograde radical right exploited discontent with the incumbents and played down or disguised their plans to reverse and undermine the employment and salary gains, pensions and family allowance gained over the decade.

Conclusion

The left governments stimulated the growth of extractive capitalism and converted their mass base into a passive recipient of regime reforms.

The unequal power between leaders and followers was tolerated as long as the incremental rewards continued to flow.

As classes rose in the social hierarchy they shed their leftist ideology born of crisis and looked to elite politicians as the new ‘modernizers’.

The left regimes encouraged a ‘dependency culture’ in which they competed for votes on the bases of growth, markets and patronage.

The left functionaries, unable to rise via the ‘closed’ agro-mineral sectors – under the control of the multi-nationals, turned to state corruption, extracting ‘commissions’ as intermediaries for the MNC, or simply absconding with public funds allocated for municipal health, education and infrastructure projects.

As a result, electoral promises were not kept. The corrupt practices were ignored by their elected leaders, deeply offending the popular electorate, who were disgusted by the spectacle of corrupt left politicians applauding radical rhetoric while raiding federal funds with impunity.

Party loyalty undermined any national political oversight of local politicians and functionaries. Disenchantment with the local functionaries spread up to the top.  Popular leaders, who were repeatedly elected soon, were implicated or at least complicit in bribe-taking.

The end of the decade and the end of the commodity bookmarked the twilight of idols. The left lost elections throughout the region.

Epilogue

The Kirchner-Fernandez regime was defeated in Argentina (2015).

The Lula-Rousseff regime faces indictment and impeachment in Brazil (2014-2016).

The Chavez-Maduro regime lost the legislative election in Venezuela (2015).

The Evo Morales regime lost the constitutional amendment allowing the president’s third term re-election in Bolivia (2016).

Feb 252016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

The presidential elections of 2016 have several unique characteristics that defy common wisdom about political practices in 21st century America.

Clearly the established political machinery – party elites and their corporate backers -have (in part) lost control of the nomination process and confront ‘unwanted’ candidates who are campaigning with programs and pronouncements that polarize the electorate.

But there are other more specific factors, which have energized the electorate and speak to recent US history.  These portend and reflect a realignment of US politics.

In this essay, we will outline these changes and their larger consequences for the future of American politics.

We will examine how these factors affect each of the two major parties.

Democratic Party Politics: The Context of Realignment

The ‘rise and decline’ of President Obama has seriously dented the appeal of ‘identity politics’ – the idea that ethnic, race and gender-rooted ‘identities’ can modify the power of finance capital (Wall Street), the militarists, the Zionists and ‘police-state’ officials. Clearly manifest voter disenchantment with ‘identity politics’ has opened the door for class politics, of a specific kind.

Candidate Bernie Sanders appeals directly to the class interests of workers and salaried employees. But the ‘class issue’ arises within the context of an electoral polarization and, as such, it does not reflect a true ‘class polarization’, or rising class struggle in the streets, factories or offices.

In fact, the electoral ‘class’ polarization is a reflection of the recent major trade union defeats in Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio. The trade union confederation (AFL-CIO) has almost disappeared as a social and political factor, representing only 7% of private sector workers. Working class voters are well aware that top trade union leaders, who receive an average of $500,000-a-year in salaries and benefits, are deeply ensconced in the Democratic Party elite. While individual workers and local unions are active supporters of the Sanders campaign, they do so as members of an amorphous multi-class electoral movement and not as a unified ‘workers bloc’.

The Sanders electoral movement has not grown out of a national social movement: The peace movement is virtually moribund; the civil rights movements are weak, fragmented and localized; the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement has peaked and declined while the ‘Occupy Wall Street Movement’ is a distant memory.

In other words, these recent movements, at best, provide some activists and some impetus for the Sanders electoral campaign. Their presence highlights a few of the issues that the Sanders electoral movement promotes in its campaign.

In fact, the Sanders electoral movement does not ‘grow out’ of existing, ongoing mass movements as much as it fills the political vacuum resulting from their demise. The electoral insurgency reflects the defeats of trade union officials allied with incumbent Democratic politicians as well as the limitation of the ‘direct action’ tactics of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘Occupy’ movements.

Since the Sanders electoral movement does not directly and immediately challenge capitalist profits and public budget allocations it has not been subject to state repression. Repressive authorities calculate that this ‘buzz’ of electoral activity will last only a few months and then recede into the Democratic Party or voter apathy. Moreover, they are constrained by the fact that tens of millions of Sanders supporters are involved in all the states and not concentrated in any region.

The Sanders electoral movement aggregates hundreds of thousands of micro-local struggles and allows expression of the disaffection of millions with class grievances, at no risk or cost (as in loss of job or police repression) to the participants. This is in stark contrast to repression at the workplace or in the urban streets.

The electoral polarization reflects horizontal (class) and vertical (intra-capitalist) social polarizations.

Below the elite 10% and especially among the young middle class, political polarization favors the Sanders electoral movement. Trade union bosses, the Black Congressional Caucus members and the Latino establishment all embrace the anointed choice of the political elite of the Democratic Party: Hilary Clinton. Whereas, young Latinos, working women and rank and file trade unionists support the insurgent electoral movement. Significant sectors of the African American population, who have failed to advance (and have actually regressed) under Democratic President Obama or have seen police repression expand under the ‘First Black President’, are turning to the insurgent Sanders campaign. Millions of Latinos, disenchanted with their leaders who are tied to the Democratic elite and have done nothing to prevent the massive deportations under Obama, are a potential base of support for ‘Bernie’.

However, the most dynamic social sector in the Sanders electoral movement are students, who are excited by his program of free higher education and the end of post-graduation debt peonage.

The malaise of these sectors finds its expression in the ‘respectable revolt of the middle class’: a voters’ rebellion, which has temporarily shifted the axis of political debate within the Democratic Party to the left.

The Sanders electoral movement raises fundamental issues of class inequality and racial injustice in the legal, police and economic system. It highlights the oligarchical nature of the political system – even as the Sanders-led movement attempts to use the rules of the system against its owners. These attempts have not been very successful within the Democratic Party apparatus, where the Party bosses have already allocated hundreds of ‘non-elected’ so-called ‘mega-delegates’ to Clinton – despite Sander’s successes in the early primaries.

The very strength of the electoral movement has a strategic weakness: it is in the nature of electoral movements to coalesce for elections and to dissolve after the vote.

The Sanders leadership has made no effort to build a mass national social movement that can continue the class and social struggles during and after the elections. In fact, Sanders’ pledge to support the established leadership of the Democratic Party if he losses the nomination to Clinton will lead to a profound disillusionment of his supporters and break-up of the electoral movement. The post-convention scenario, especially in the event of ‘super-delegates’ crowning Clinton despite a Sanders popular victory at the individual primaries, will be very disruptive.

Trump and ‘Revolt on the Right’

The Trump electoral campaign has many of the features of a Latin American nationalist-populist movement. Like the Argentine Peronist movement, it combines protectionist, nationalist economic measures that appeal to small and medium size manufacturers and displaced industrial workers with populist right-wing ‘great nation chauvinism’.

This is reflected in Trumps’ attacks on ‘globalization’ - a proxy for Peronist ‘anti-imperialism’.

Trump’s attack on the Muslim minority in the US is a thinly veiled embrace of rightwing clerical fascism.

Where Peron campaigned against ‘financial oligarchies’ and the invasion of ‘foreign ideologies’, Trump scorns the ‘elites’ and denounces the ‘invasion’ of Mexican immigrants.

Trump’s appeal is rooted in the deep amorphous anger of the downwardly mobile middle class, which has no ideology . . . but plenty of resentment at its declining status, crumbling stability and drug-afflicted families (Witness the overtly expressed concerns of white voters in the recent New Hampshire primary).

Trump projects personal power to workers who bridle under impotent trade unions, disorganized civic groups, and marginalized local business associations, all unable to counter the pillage, power and large-scale corruption of the financial swindlers who rotate between Washington and Wall Street with total impunity.

These ‘populist’ classes get vicarious thrills from the spectacle of Trump snapping and slapping career politicians and economic elites alike, even as he parades his capitalist success.

They prize his symbolic defiance of the political elite as he flaunts his own capitalist elite credentials.

For many of his suburban backers he is the ‘Great Moralizer’, who in his excess zeal, occasionally, commits ‘pardonable’ gaffes out of zealous exuberance – a crude ‘Oliver Cromwell’ for the 21st Century.

Indeed, there also may be a less overt ethno-religious appeal to Trump’s campaign: His white-Anglo-Saxon Protestant identity appeals to these same voters in the face of their apparent marginalization. These ‘Trumpistas’ are not blind to the fact that not a single WASP judge sits on the Supreme Court and there are few, if any, WASPs among the top economic officials in Treasury, Commerce, or the Fed  (Lew, Fischer, Yellen, Greenspan, Bernacke, Cohen, Pritzker etc.). While Trump is not up-front about his identity – it eases his voter appeal.

Among WASP voters, who quietly resent the ‘Wall Street’ bailouts and the perceived privileged position of Catholics, Jews and African-Americans in the Obama Administration, Trump’s direct, public condemnation of President Bush for deliberately misleading the nation into invading Iraq (and the implication of treason), has been a big plus.

Trump’s national-populist appeal is matched by his bellicose militarism and thuggish authoritarianism. His public embrace of torture and police state controls (to ‘fight terrorism’) appeals to the pro- military right. On the other hand, his friendly overtures to Russian President Putin (‘one tough guy willing to face another’) and his support to end the Cuban embargo appeals to trade-minded business elites. His calls to withdraw US troops from Europe and Asia appeals to ‘fortress America’ voters, while his calls to ‘carpet bomb’ ISIS appeals to the nuclear extremists. Interestingly, Trump’s support for Social Security and Medicare, as well as his call for medical coverage for the indigent and his open acknowledgement of Planned Parenthood’s vital services to poor women, appeals to older citizens, compassionate conservatives and independents.

Trump’s left-right amalgam: Protectionist and pro-business appeals, his anti-Wall Street and pro-industrial capitalism proposals, his defense of US workers and attacks on Latino workers and Muslim immigrants have broken the traditional boundaries between popular and rightwing politics of the Republican Party.

Trumpism’ is not a coherent ideology, but a volatile mix of ‘improvised positions’, adapted to appeal to marginalized workers, resentful middle classes (marginalized WASPs) and, above all, to those who feel unrepresented by Wall Street Republicans and liberal Democratic politicians based on identity politics (black, Hispanic, women and Jews).

Trump’s movement is based on a cult of the personality: it has enormous capacity to convoke mass meetings without mass organization or a coherent social ideology.

Its fundamental strength is its spontaneity, novelty and hostile focus on strategic elites.

Its strategic weakness is the lack of an organization that can be sustained after the electoral process. There are few ‘Trumpista’ cadres and militants among his adoring fans. If Trump loses (or is cheated out of the nomination by a ‘unity’ candidate’ trotted out by the Party elite) his organization will dissipate and fragment. If Trump wins the Republican nomination he will draw support from Wall Street, especially if faced with a Sanders Democratic candidacy. If he wins the general election and becomes President, he will seek to strengthen executive power and move toward a ‘Bonapartist’ presidency.

Conclusion

The rise of a social democratic movement within the Democratic Party and the rise of a sui generis national-populist rightist movement in the Republican Party reflect the fragmented electorate and deep vertical and horizontal fissures characterizing the US ethno-class structure.  Commentators grossly oversimplify when they reduce the revolt to incoherent expressions of ‘anger’.

The shattering of the established elite’s control is a product of deeply experienced class and ethnic resentments, of former privileged groups experiencing declining mobility, of local businesspeople experiencing  bankruptcy  due to ‘globalization’ (imperialism) and of citizens resentment at the power of finance capital (the banks) and its overwhelming control of Washington.

The electoral revolts on the left and right may dissipate but they will have planted the seeds of a democratic transformation or of a nationalist-reactionary revival.

Feb 212016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

argentina-mapIntroduction

The class struggle from above found its most intense, comprehensive and retrograde expression in Argentina, with the election of Mauricio Macri (December 2015). During the first two months in office, through the arbitrary assumption of emergency powers, he reversed, by decree, a multitude of progressive socio-economic policies passed over the previous decade and sought to purge public institutions of independent voices.

Facing a hostile majority in Congress, he seized legislative powers and proceeded to name two Supreme Court judges in violation of the Constitution.

President Macri purged all the Ministries and agencies of perceived critics and appointees of the previous government and replaced those officials with loyalist neoliberal functionaries. Popular movement leaders were jailed, and former Cabinet members were prosecuted.

Parallel to the reconfiguration of the state, President Macri launched a neoliberal counter-revolution: a 40% devaluation which raised prices of the basic canasta over 30%; the termination of an export tax for all agro-mineral exporters (except soya farmers); a salary and wage cap 20% below the rise in the cost of living; a 400% increase in electrical bills and a 200% increase in transport; large scale firing of public and private employees; strike breaking using rubber bullets; preparations for large scale privatizations of strategic economic sectors; a 6.5 billion dollar payout to vulture-fund debt holders and speculators – a 1000% return – while contracting new debts.

President Macri’s high intensity class warfare is intended to reverse, the social welfare and progressive policies implemented by the Kirchner regimes over the past 12 years (2003-2015).

President Macri has launched a virulent new version of the class struggle from above, following a long-term neo-liberal cyclical pattern which has witnessed:

  1. Authoritarian military rule (1966-1972) accompanied by intense class struggle from below followed by democratic elections (1973-1976).
  2. Military dictatorship and intense class struggle from above (1976-1982) resulting in the murder of 30.000 workers.
  3. A negotiated transition to electoral politics (1983)a hyper inflationary crises and the deepening of neo-liberalism (1989-2000).
  4. Crises and collapse of neoliberalism and insurrectionary class struggle from below 2001-2003.
  5. Center-left Kirchner-Fernandez regimes (2003-2015): a labor-capital-regime social pact.
  6. Authoritarian neo-liberal Macri regime(2015) and intense class struggle from above. Macri’s strategic perspective is to consolidate a new power bloc of local agro-mineral,and banking oligarchs, foreign bankers and investors and the police-military apparatus to massively increase profits by cheapening labor

The roots of the rise of the neoliberal power bloc can be found in the practices and policies of the previous Kirchner-Fernandez regimes. Their policies were designed to overcome the capitalist crises of 2000-2002 by channeling mass discontent toward social reforms, stimulating agro-mineral exports and increasing living standards via progressive taxes, electricity and food subsidies, and pension increases. Kirchner’s progressive policies were based on the boom in commodity prices. When they collapsed the capital-labor ‘co-existence’ dissolved and the Macri led business-middle class-foreign capital alliance was well placed to take advantage of the demise of the model.

The class struggle from below was severely weakened by the labor alliance with the center-left Kirchner regime. Not because labor benefited economically but because the pact demobilized the mass organizations of the 2001 – 2003 period. Over the course of the next 12 years’ labor entered into sectorial negotiations (paritarias) mediated by a ‘friendly government’. Class consciousness was replaced by ‘sectoral’ allegiances and bread and butter issues. Labor unions lost their capacity to wage class struggle from below – or even influence sectors of the popular classes. Labor was vulnerable and is in a weak position to confront President Macri’s virulent neoliberal counter-reform offensive.

Nevertheless, the extreme measures adopted by Macri — the deep cuts in purchasing power, spiraling inflation and mass firings, have led to the first phases of a renewal of the class struggle from below.

Strikes by teachers and public employees over salaries and firings have flared up in response to the barrage of public sector cuts and arbitrary executive decrees. Sporadic mass demonstrations have been called by social  and human rights movements in response to Macri’s dismantling of the institutions prosecuting military officials responsible for the killing and disappearance of 30,000 victims during the “dirty war” (1976-83).

As the Macri regime proceeds to deepen and extend his regressive measures designed to lower labor costs, business taxes and living standards to entice capital with higher profits, as inflation soars and the economy stagnates due to the decline of public investment and consumption, the class struggle from below is likely to intensify – general strikes and related forms of direct action are likely before the end of the first year of the Macri regime.

Large scale class based organizations capable of engaging in  intense class struggle from below, weakened by the decade-long ‘corporate model’ of the Kitchener era, will take time to reconstruct. The question is when and what it will take to organize a class-wide (national)  political movement which can move beyond  an electoral repudiation of Macri allied candidates in upcoming  legislative, provincial and municipal elections.

Dec 282015
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

The IMF is the leading international monetary agency whose public purpose is to maintain the stability of the global financial system through loans linked to proposals designed to enhance economic recovery and growth.

In fact, the IMF has been under the control of the US and Western European states and its policies have been designed to further the expansion, domination and profits of their leading multi-national corporations and financial institutions.

The US and European states practice a division of powers: The executive directors of the IMF are Europeans; their counterparts in the World Bank (WB) are from the US.

The executive directors of the IMF and WB operate in close consultation with their governments and especially the Treasury Departments in deciding priorities, deciding what countries will receive loans, under what terms and how much.

The loans and terms set by the IMF are closely coordinated with the private banking system. Once the IMF signs an agreement with a debtor country, it is a signal for the big private banks to lend, invest and proceed with a multiplicity of favorable financial transactions. From the above it can be deduced that the IMF plays the role of general command for the global financial system.

The IMF lays the groundwork for the major banks’ conquest of the financial systems of the world’s vulnerable states.

The IMF assumes the burden of doing all the dirty work through its intervention. This includes the usurpation of sovereignty, the demand for privatization and reduction of social expenditures, salaries, wages and pensions, as well as ensuring the priority of debt payments. The IMF acts as the ‘blind’ for the big banks by deflecting political critics and social unrest.

Executive Directors as Hatchet Persons

What kind of persons do the banks support as executive directors of the IMF Whom do they entrust with the task of violating the sovereign rights of a country, impoverishing its people and eroding its democratic institutions?

They have included a convicted financial swindler; the current director is facing prosecution on charges of mishandling public funds as a Finance minister; a rapist; an advocate of gunboat diplomacy and the promotor of the biggest financial collapse in a country’s history.

IMF Executive Directors on Trial

The current executive director of the IMF (July 2011-2015) Christine Lagarde is on trial in France for misappropriation of a $400-million-dollar payoff to tycoon Bernard Tapie while she was Finance Minister in the government of President Sarkozy.

The previous executive director (November 2007-May 2011), Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was forced to resign after he was charged with raping a chambermaid in a New York hotel and was later arrested and tried for pimping in the city of Lille, France.

His predecessor, Rodrigo Rato (June 2004-October 2007), was a Spanish banker who was arrested and charged with tax evasion, concealing ϵ27 million euros in seventy overseas banks and swindling thousands of small investors who he convinced to put their money in a Spanish bank, Bankia, that went bankrupt.

His predecessor a German, Horst Kohler, resigned after he stated an unlikely verity – namely that overseas military intervention was necessary to defend German economic interests, such as free trade routes. It’s one thing for the IMF to act as a tool for imperial interests; it is another for an IMF executive to speak about it publicly!

Michel Camdessus (January 1987-February 2000) was the author of the “Washington Consensus” the doctrine that underwrote the global neoliberal counter-revolution. His term of office witnessed his embrace and financing of some of the worst dictators of the time, including his own photo-ops with Indonesian strongman and mass murderer, General Suharto.

Under Camdessus, the IMF collaborated with Argentine President Carlos Menem in liberalizing the economy, deregulating financial markets and privatizing over a thousand enterprises. The crises, which ensued, led to the worst depression in Argentine history, with over 20,000 bankruptcies, 25% unemployment and poverty rates exceeding 50% in working class districts . . . Camdessus later regretted his “policy mistakes” with regard to the Argentine’s collapse. He was never arrested or charged with crimes against humanity.

Conclusion

The criminal behavior of the IMF executives is not an anomaly or hindrance to their selection. On the contrary, they were selected because they reflect the values, interests and behavior of the global financial elite: Swindles, tax evasion, bribery, large-scale transfers of public wealth to private accounts are the norm for the financial establishment. These qualities fit the needs of bankers who have confidence in dealing with their ‘mirror-image’ counterparts in the IMF.

The international financial elite needs IMF executives who have no qualms in using double standards and who overlook gross violations of its standard procedures. For example, the current executive director, Christine Lagarde, lends $30 billion to the puppet regime in the Ukraine, even though the financial press describes in great detail how corrupt oligarchs have stolen billions with the complicity of the political class (Financial Times, 12/21/15, pg. 7). The same Lagarde changes the rules on debt repayment allowing the Ukraine to default on its payment of its sovereign debt to Russia. The same Lagarde insists that the center-right Greek government further reduce pensions in Greece below the poverty level, provoking the otherwise accommodating regime of Alexis Tsipras to call for the IMF to stay out of the bailout (Financial Times, 12/21/15, pg.1).

Clearly the savage cut in living standards, which the IMF executives decree everywhere is not unrelated to their felonious personal history. Rapists, swindlers, militarists, are just the right people to direct an institution as it impoverishes the 99% and enriches the 1% of the super-rich.

Dec 162015
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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What Makes Recep Run? The Making of a Modern Pasha

Erdoğan began his ascent to power as a social reformer in opposition to the power elite; he was a rabble-rouser for popular Islam and social welfare. Once he takes political power he enriches his family and the business elite and purges adversaries and rivals.

With political power and economic connections, he amasses personal wealth through illicit business transactions.

With political power and personal wealth, he seeks prestige and status among the Western elites by serving imperial interests: He shoots down a Russian military jet over Syrian territory and thereby threatens hundreds of Turkish businesses and loses a major source of personal enrichment. When the Russians threaten to cut off energy exports to Turkey, Erdoğan’s opponents suggest he heat his own palace and villas with cow dung this winter.

The Two Faces of Erdoğan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has a long and ignoble history of betraying political associates, trading partners and military allies; of pledging friendship and then bombing his ‘friends’ and murdering citizens; of negotiating ‘in good faith’ and then killing rivals; of playing democrat then behaving like an ordinary demagogic dictator.

Erdoğan appeals to the plebeian and austere values of the Anatolian provincial petty bourgeoisie, while building the largest luxurious presidential palace in the world – fit for a 21st century Pasha. He repeatedly pronounces his fealty to the ‘Turkish Nation’, while he robs the Turkish treasury by repeatedly accepting bribes and pay-offs from building contractors who then double charge for publicly-funded projects.

More recently, Erdoğan claims to oppose terrorism and fight ISIS, while the major Turkish and regional newspapers, journalists and most domestic observers document the massive flow of illegal arms across the Turkish-Syrian border to ISIS terrorists.

Erdoğan’s ‘Carnal Relation’ with ISIS

Erdoğan supports ISIS by bombing the Syrian Kurdish fighters who resist the jihadi mercenaries; by shooting down a Russian military jet defending the Damascus government against the terrorists; by smuggling and selling oil which ISIS had stolen from Iraq and Syria; by providing medical assistance to wounded ISIS fighters; and by training and arming ISIS terrorists in Turkish bases.

There is a reciprocal relationship: Erdoğan uses ISIS operatives to terrorize his own domestic opposition, including terror bombing a gathering of Kurdish ‘socialist youth’ in the town of Suruç on July 20, 2015, which killed 33 and the massive bombing in Ankara on October 10 of a ‘peace and justice’ march, which killed over 100, targeting trade unionists, leaders of professional associations, community activists and members of a democratic Kurdish electoral party and wounded many hundreds.

During the legislative election of 2015 ISIS terrorists and thugs from Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) attacked the offices, meetings and candidates of the opposition parties, especially of the Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), to ensure that Erdoğan secured a super-majority.

In other words, Erdoğan has three uses for ISIS serving his external and internal interests:

(1)  To attack and destroy secular Kurdish forces resisting ISIS in Syria and Iraq, thus preventing the formation of an independent Kurdish state on the Turkish border.

(2)  To attack and destroy Syria’s independent Baathist government under Bashar  Al-Assad, dismantle the multicultural secular state apparatus and install a Sunni Islamist client in Damascus subordinate to Erdoğan’s AKP.

(3)  To attack and terrorize the Turkish domestic opposition, including the broad-based Kurdish HDP, and the leftist trade union confederation (DISK).

Erdoğan has a decade-long strategic alliance with the militant Wahhabi terrorists who now make up ISIS. He intends to ‘remake’ the map of the Middle East to serve his own expansionist ambitions. In part this explains why Erdoğan has provided large-scale arms and material to the terrorists, trained thousands of mercenaries and provided medical aid to wounded ISIS fighters. It also explains why Erdoğan took the unprecedented and extremely provocative step of shooting down a Russian military jet over Syrian territory, which had been bombing Erdoğan’s ISIS allies. Russian and Syrian Army successes against ISIS have threatened his ambitions.

Erdoğan’s transformation from ‘Muslim democrat’ to bloody authoritarian Islamist ruler with pretensions of becoming the dominant Middle Eastern Pasha has to be seen in light of his rise to power over the past 40 years.

What Makes Recep Run?

Erdoğan, early on, showed his affinity for extremist Islamist politics. In the 1970’s he was head of the youth branch of the Islamist Salvation Party (MSP), a virulent anti-communist, anti-secular party committed to converting Turkey, a huge multi-ethnic secular state, into a theocratic regime (along the lines of contemporary ISIS).

After the military coup of 1980 the MSP was dissolved and reappeared as the Welfare Party. Erdoğan became a leader of the new (re-named) Islamist party.

Erdoğan and the Welfare Party exploited Turkish mass discontent with the corrupt and authoritarian military. The Welfare Party embraced a populist social welfare program with Islamist religious undertones in order to build a formidable grassroots organization in the working class neighborhoods in Istanbul. Erdoğan was elected mayor of Turkey’s largest city in 1994.

As Mayor, Erdoğan over-reached his power by preaching militant Islamism and was convicted in 1998 of sedition against the secular state. He served 4 months of a 10-month sentence.

Henceforth he changed tactics: His Islamist fanaticism was disguised. He changed the party name from Welfare to the modern sounding Justice and Development Party (AKP). Erdoğan then launched a series of political maneuvers, in which he cleverly manipulated adversaries to gain power and then … stabbed each of them in the back.

Erdoğan: Embrace and Back-Stab 

Despite his earlier conviction for sedition against the secular state, the ‘reformed’ Erdoğan allied with the Kemalist, secular Republican Peoples Party (CHP) to overturn the military’s ban on his participation in politics in 2002. He was elected Prime Minister in 2003. After the AKP won the general election it cut its ties with the CHP. Erdoğan was re-elected Prime Minister in 2007 and 2011.

Erdoğan allied with the pro-US Islamist leader Fethullah Gülen’s Hizmetor Cemaat Movement, which was influential within the judicial system, police and army. Together they launched a purge against secular military and judicial officials, journalists and media critics.

The Erdoğan – Gülenist state apparatus arrested and jailed 300 secular military officers, judges and journalists and replaced them with Erdođan and Gülen loyalists – all Islamists.

Dubbed “Operation Sledgehammer” the entire purge was based on fabricated charges of treason and conspiracy. Yet it was described by the Western media in terms that flattered Erdoğan’s democratic credentials, calling it an ‘effort to consolidate democracy’ against the military.

It had nothing to do with democracy: The purge consolidated Erdoğan’s personal power and allowed him to pursue policies that were more overtly neoliberal and Islamist. The purge of the judiciary further allowed Erdoğan to enrich crony capitalists and family members.

Erdoğan: The Birth of a Neoliberal Pasha

Erdoğan then embraced an IMF-designed ‘stabilization and recovery’ program, which reduced wages, salaries and pensions while privatizing public sector enterprises and activities. This attracted a large inflow of capital as foreign investors and cronies snapped up the goodies at bargain prices. Most emblematic of this ‘free-for-all cronies’ approach to the economy was the Soma coal mine disaster in May 2014 when over 300 miners were killed in a previously state-owned mine, which had suffered a breakdown of worker safety conditions after it had been privatized to an Erdoğan-crony. Despite local and international outrage, Recep ignored the scandal and unleashed police on the demonstrating miners.

Erdoğan’s combination of Islam with brutal neoliberalism attracted support from Brussels, Wall Street and the City of London. Large inflows of speculative foreign capital temporarily inflated Turkey’s GNP and Erdoğan’s wealth and ego!

In the beginning of his rule Erdoğan’s concessions, tax incentives, government contracts to big capital were broadly distributed to most sectors, but especially to his crony capitalists within the construction and real estate sectors.

As the capitalist boom continued and his power increased, Erdoğan became more obsessed with his role as the savior of Turkey. By 2010, a serious difference developed between Erdoğan and his Gülenist partners over the division of power. Erdoğan moved rapidly and brutally. He launched another massive purge of suspected ‘Gülenist officials’. He arrested, fired, jailed and relocated Gülen sympathizers among judges, police and civil servants despite the fact that these were officials who had served him well during the earlier purge of the secular military.

Erdoğan is not willing to share power with any other party, movement or group. Pasha Recep wanted to monopolize power. He has attacked critical newspapers, businesses and conglomerates claiming these were ‘Gülen controlled’. Erdoğan ensured that only capitalists completely loyal to him would receive regime patronage. In other words, he strengthened the size, strength and importance of crony capitalists: especially in the real estate and construction sector.

Pasha Recep’s Assault on Civil Society

Turkey, under Erdoğan’s absolute power, has seen a geometric increase in corruption and mindless ‘development projects’, leading to the degradation and usurpation of public spaces. His arbitrary and destructive policies have provoked sustained civil society protests, especially in the center of Istanbul – during the Gezi Park demonstrations, which began in May 2013.

In response to civil society demonstrations, Erdoğan shed all pretensions, ripping off his ‘modern democratic’ mask and brutally repressing the peaceful protestors in the heart of Istanbul– resulting in 22 deaths, hundreds wounded and more arrested and sentenced to long jail term. Erdoğan subsequently targeted liberal critics and business leaders, who had criticized his brutal use of force.

2013, the year of the Gezi Park Movement, was a turning point – Erdoğan and family members were implicated in a $100 million-dollar corruption scandal while liberal critics of the regime were purged.

Facing opposition from sectors of the elite as well as popular classes, Erdoğan became more rabidly ‘Islamist’, chauvinistic and megalomaniacal – ‘Neo-Ottoman’.

In short order, he re-launched his attack on the Turkish Kurds and increased his support to the Islamist terrorists in Syria, including what would become ISIS. These policies were designed to complement his ongoing war against the secular Kurds in Iraq and Syria.

Erdoğan: Backstabbing Secular Syria and “Best Friend” Russia

From the beginning of his rule, Erdoğan cultivated the ‘best of relations’ with Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin. He signed dozens of trade agreements with Damascus and Moscow. Putin was welcomed to Ankara and Erdoğan to Moscow where they signed billion-dollar energy deals and mutual co-operative agreements.

Up to 3 million Russian tourists visited Turkish resorts each year, a bonanza for one of Turkey’s major industries.

Erdoğan’s regime was ebullient, effusive, embracing Moscow and Damascus while systematically preparing the ground for more backstabbing!

By 2011, Erdoğan had been deeply involved in preparing the ground for what would become the bloody Islamist uprising in Syria. Early on, hundreds of armed foreign Islamist terrorists crossed the Turkish border into Syria. Their presence overwhelmed local Syrian dissidents. Armed Islamists seized villages and towns brutally purging them of Christians, Kurds, Alewives and secular Syrians. They took over the oil fields. From one day to the next, Erdoğan was transformed from loving friend to deadly foe of neighboring Syria demanding ‘regime change’ through terrorist sectarian violence.

Erdoğan embraced the most extreme, sectarian Wahhabi Islamist groups because they were committed to undermining the nationalist aspirations of the Syrian Kurds as well as overthrowing the secular Al-Assad government. Erdoğan’s covert alliance with ISIS and other Islamist terrorist groups was motivated by several strategic considerations, which are outlined below:

1)      The alliance serves to prevent the establishment of an autonomous Kurdish enclave on the Syrian-Turkish border in the event of a Damascus defeat, which Erdoğan fears would then link armed Syrian Kurds with the huge disaffected Kurdish population in southeastern Turkey and lead to the formation of an autonomous secular Kurdish state.

2)     Erdoğan’s alliance with jihadis in Syria has served Ankara’s ambition to impose a puppet Sunni-Islamist regime in Damascus.

3)     The ISIS regime controlling the Syrian and Iraqi oil fields provides Turkey with a source of cheap fuel and lucrative profits for the regime. Recep’s son, Necmettin Bilal Erdoğan owns and operates the BMZ Group which buys the contraband Syrian and Iraqi oil in Turkey and sells it overseas (especially to Israel) earning nearly a billion dollars a year for ‘the family’.

It is not surprise that the Erdoğan family directly financed ISIS, which uses the cash from contraband oil, pillaged antiquities and ‘tribute’ taxes, to purchase heavy and light arms, military and transport vehicles and communications equipment in Turkey and elsewhere to support its terror campaign in Syria and Iraq. Well-informed Turkish observers believe that Erdoğan’s intelligence officials are directly involved in recruiting ISIS terrorists to operate within Turkey and attack Erdoğan’s internal opposition, especially the Kurdish electoral party HDP and the broad-based Turkish left and trade union movements. Observers claim Turkish intelligence operations had a direct role in the ‘ISIS’ bomb attacks in Suruç and Ankara this year, which killed and maimed hundreds of Erdoğan opponents and civil society activists.

Erdoğan and ISIS developed a co-dependent relation, one of mutual manipulation. Each has publicly declared their tactical enmity to the other, while busily pursuing joint strategic aims.

Ankara uses the pretext of fighting ISIS in order to bomb the Kurds in Syria who are resisting the jihadis. ISIS uses the pretext of opposing the NATO member Turkey in order to cover its massive oil and weapons trade deals with Erdoğan’s family and crony business enterprises.

The Pasha Stabs the Bear and the Bear Bites Back – One Stab Too Many 

Russia’s highly effective aerial bombing campaign against the jihadi and ISIS terrorist networks in Syria was in response to a formal request for military intervention by the legitimate government of President Bashar Al-Assad. Russia has long-standing ties to the Baathist regime in Damascus. The intervention has threatened to undermine Erdoğan’s regional power ambitions and illicit business operations in Syria. First and foremost, it ended Erdoğan’s plan to annex a large swathe of Northern Syria and call it a ‘no fly zone’. The Turkish-controlled ‘no fly zone’ in Syria would  expand Turkish military training bases for ISIS and other jihadi terrorists and secure the transport routes for ISIS oil shipments smuggled out of Iraq and Syria.

Unlike the US, which had rarely bombed the strategic Erdoğan-ISIS oil smuggling operations, the Russians destroyed over a thousand oil trucks and numerous ISIS oil depots and logistical centers in the first month of its air campaign. By reducing the flow of smuggled oil, Russia cut off the main source of massive profit for Bilal Erdoğan’s BMZ Company as well as for Turkish arms dealers.

Like gangsters, Erdoğan, his family and cronies have been immersed in massive corrupt business activities at home and abroad; he can no longer operate within the context of the larger interests of the Turkish capitalist class with its $40 billion dollar annual trade and investment relations with Russia. Erdoğan’s decision to shoot down a Russian jet in Syrian territory, on November 24, 2015, was largely motivated by his fury at Russia’s successful interruption of the ISIS  oil convoys. By protecting his own family interests, Erdoğan stabbed more allies in the back: The Russians, as well as large sections of the Turkish capitalist class!

Up until Erdoğan’s act of war against Russia, he had publicly embraced Putin as an ally, friend and partner. The two leaders had cordial relations for over a decade. The Turkish military was fully informed about Russian military operations in Syria, including its flight paths. Then suddenly in November 2015 he risked a total rupture in relations and invited retaliation against Turkey from Russia by shooting down a Russian jet.

Russia immediately responded by upgrading its most advanced weapons systems to defend its operations and bases in Northern Syria and intensified its bombing of the ISIS – Turkish oil operations.

Russia retaliated by imposing visa restrictions and economic sanctions on Turkey, adversely affecting the multi-billion dollar tourist business. Strategic energy deals were terminated. Large-scale Turkish construction contracts were ended. Turkish agricultural exports to Russian markets virtually stopped.

The Pasha Bites His own Tail

Erdoğan’s unilateral actions were clearly against the broad interests of Turkey’s large export sector. From Gezi to Gülen, from one purge to another, Erdoğan, the former ‘poster boy’ of neoliberal Turkish capital, has become a self-centered despot, acting on behalf of a narrowing circle of corrupt family and crony capitalists. Erdoğan set himself up as a modern day pasha more in the image of the self-indulgent Ibrahim I (the Madman) than the far-seeing Suleyman I (the Wise).

Once Erdoğan realized the damage that his fit of egomaniac fury against the Russians had provoked abroad and his growing isolation within Turkey, he rushed to NATO on bended knee to beg for support. True to his authoritarian personality, Recep Erdoğan crawls on his knees before his ‘superiors’ (NATO-US) while grabbing the throats of his ‘inferiors’ (the Turkish people)!

Conclusion

Erdoğan’s road to absolutist power is strewn with indiscriminate purges, terror and deceit; violence against environmental and liberal protestors in Gezi Park and moderate Gülen Islamists; jail sentences and firing of journalists and publishers, military officials and judges; repression of workers and capitalists; terror bombing against activists and democrats; and war against Kurds and Syrians.

Erdoğan’s paranoid and greed-driven vision of politics precludes any trust and stable relations. He thinks he is very clever with his combination of charm and broken promises, but he fools nobody. He reignites the war against the Kurds in Turkey and Syria but they retaliate!

He attacks Russia and provokes a very costly retaliation so far limited to the Turkish economy.

He increases his personal power, but undermines the interests of the Turkish nation and its people. Erdoğan believes he is the rising regional hegemony, indispensable to the West. He blackmails the EU for billions of Euros to control the flood of refugees fleeing violence in Syria and Iraq with his promises to warehouse desperate refugees in Turkish concentration camps. But Europeans must know that their money can never buy trust and loyalty from the Pasha.

His oil deals with ISIS are in tatters. Russian bombs ensure that Erdoğan will have to find other sources of illicit profit. Worst of all, Erdoğan’s furious actions have lost markets, allies and domestic support. He faces enemies from all sides – liberal professors, students, big business owners and organized workers in Istanbul; small business people in the tourist trade; construction and oil companies in Ankara; farmers in Anatolia, and, above all, the coal miners in Soma Manis.

Who knows under what circumstances Pasha Recep (the ‘Megalomaniac’) will be replaced?

Dec 102015
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

venezuela-election15-47

Introduction

Pundits and commentators on the Left and Right are pronouncing ‘the end of the progressive cycle in Latin America’. They cite the recent presidential elections:

1. Argentina, where hard-right Mauricio Macri was elected;

2. Brazil, where President Dilma Rousseff has appointed a neo-liberal ‘Chicago Boy’ economist, Joaquin Levy, as Finance Minister and launched an IMF-style regressive structural adjustment policy designed to reduce social expenditures and attract financial speculators; and

3. Venezuela, where Washington channeled millions of dollars to far-right parties, as well as violent extra-parliamentary and paramilitary groups, to destabilize the center-left Maduro government; right-wing Democratic Unity Coalition  (MUD) won the legislative elections in December 2015 with more than 2:1 margin over the Chavista Venezuelan United Socialist Party (PSUV).

No doubt progressive social legislation has come to a virtual halt, even before the recent political advances of the US-backed right-wing parties with their neo-liberal economic agenda.

But paralysis, and even retreat and electoral defeats of the center-left regimes, do not mean the return to the neo-liberal 1990’s, a period of privatizations, pillage and plunder, which had plunged millions into poverty, unemployment and marginality.

Whatever the current voting results, the collective memory of mass hardship, resulting from ‘free market’ policies, is seared in the memory of the vast majority of the working population.

Any attempt by the newly elected officials to ‘unmake and reverse’ the social advances of the past decade will be met with (1) militant resistance, if not open class warfare; (2) institutional and political constraints; (3) and low commodity prices drastically limiting export revenues.

A careful analysis of the policies proposed by the neoliberal right, their implementation and impact will demonstrate their likely failure and the rapid demise of any new right-wing offensive. This will abort the neoliberal cycle.

Argentina: President Macri and Wall Street – Premature Ejaculation

In the upper income neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, there was singing and dancing in the streets as the Presidential election results rolled in and Mauricio Macri was pronounced the victor. Wall Street, the City of London and their financial mouthpieces, the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times, announced the coming of a new era and the end of ‘anti-investor, populism and nationalism, wasteful social spending’ referring to increases in pensions, family allowances and wages, approved by the previous center-left government.

Mauricio Macri does not merely represent the plutocracy; he is one of the richest plutocrats in Argentina. He not only boasts of a ‘carnal relationship’ with Washington in his acceptance speech, he pleasured US President Obama by announcing he would work to expel Venezuela from MERCOSUR, Latin America’s foremost regional economic integration organization.

Macri announced a cabinet made up of hard-core neoliberal economists, former supporters of the military dictatorship and even a rabid rightwing rabbi. He then spelled out his policy agenda, which had been cleverly hidden during his electoral campaign when his raucous rhetoric for ‘change’, spoke to everybody and nobody.

Macri promises to (1) end capital controls, export taxes and retentions on agro-business exports, (2) devaluate the peso, (3) pay over $1.2 billion dollars of Argentine public money to the Wall Street vulture-speculator, Paul Singer, who had bought $49 million dollars of old Argentine debt (a profit of astronomical proportions for buying paper), (4) privatize and de-nationalize the state-owned airline, oil company and pension funds (5)sign-off on  EU and US-centered free trade agreements, thus undermining Latin America integration projects like MERCOSUR; (6) tear up the joint memo of understanding with Iran regarding an investigation into a terror bombing as requested by Israel; and (7) expel Venezuela from MERCOSUR.

In a word, the multi-millionaire playboy President plans harsh austerity for the Argentine working class and bountiful handouts for the economic elite.

The day after the elections, local and overseas speculators boosted Argentine stocks 40% anticipating the free market bonanza. George Soros and hedge fund mogul, Daniel Loeb, ‘piled into Argentine assets’. Investment fund managers urged Macri to act swiftly in imposing his ‘sweeping reforms’  before Argentina’s famous capacity for mass popular resistance could be organized to resist his policies.

Macri’s Wall Street and Washington patrons are well aware that their clients’ boisterous big business bombast faces serious political obstacles because his policies will provoke severe economic hardships.

President Macri does not even have a majority in Congress to approve his radical proposals. The congress is controlled by a coalition of rightwing and center-left Peronist parties, which will need to be coaxed, bought or coerced.

The Argentine Congress will balk at supporting his entire neoliberal agenda. When he resorts to ‘executive decrees’ to bypass Congress, he will be contested in the courts, streets and legislature. It is doubtful he will be able to neutralize all his critics and implement his radical neoliberal agenda.

The head of the Central Bank, Alejandro Vanoli, who was appointed by the previous center-left Fernandez government, is not likely to go along with Macri’s tight money policy, radical devaluation and fiscal austerity. Marco will likely look for a pretext to purge the incumbent and nominate a free market crony. However, the institutional damage will increase the general sense of a lawless regime willing to trample the constitutional order to impose his free market dogma.

Macri’s promise to end the ‘tax’ retention on agro-exports will decrease government revenues, exacerbating the fiscal deficit and necessitating deeper reductions in social expenditures. The contrast between higher earnings for the agro-business elite and lower living standards for labor is an invitation to greater class hostility and strife. Even more decisive Macri’s “export strategy” will be undermined by the low world demand and prices of Argentine commodity exports.

Macri’s promise to end capital and price controls on his first day in office will provoke a major devaluation of the peso which may exceed 60%. This will automatically result in severe increases in the price of consumer goods and increased profits for the export elites, provoking mass unrest across the occupational spectrum.

Macri promises to meet with the 7% of speculator hold-outs of old Argentine debt (from the pillage years of the 1990’s) demanding full payment with interest, especially the ‘vulture funds’ led by Wall Street’s Paul Singer of Elliott Capital Management. Pay-offs of over $1.3 billion on an original $49 million purchase of Argentine debt to Wall Street speculators will provoke fury among Argentine workers and nationalists who will shoulder the added burden on top of austerity and cuts in social welfare. Moreover, the 93% of debt holders, who had agreed to the ‘financial haircut’ and discounted the debt at 70% will now demand full payment multiplying tenfold the demands on the Treasury with disastrous consequences.

The devaluation and decline of purchasing power will not attract the ‘tidal wave of foreign investment’ to lift the economy and provide jobs and general prosperity as Macri had promised during his campaign. Foreign capital will not create new enterprises; they will concentrate on buying  existing privatized public enterprises at fire-sale prices. Incoming capital will not increase the productive forces; it will only shift the direction of the flow of profits from public coffers to private pockets, from the domestic economy to overseas investors.

Neoliberalism: Then and Now

The general foreign and domestic political climate is vastly different today from the 1990’s when the previous neoliberal experiment was launched with such disastrous consequences. In the late 1980’s, Argentina was suffering from acute inflation, stagnation and declining income. The working class organizations were still recovering from the murderous decade of military rule. Moreover, in the 1990’s the US was at the pinnacle of imperial power in Latin America. China was only beginning its dynamic growth cycle. The USSR had disintegrated and Russia was a struggling vassal state. Latin America was ruled by a motley collection of neo-liberal clones under the thumb of the IMF.

Today Macri faces an organized working class. The trade unions and militant popular movements are intact and have experienced a decade of substantial gains under a center-left government. The IMF experience remains a poisonous memory for hundreds of thousands of Argentines. Hundreds of military officials responsible for crimes against humanity have been arrested, tried and prosecuted under the out-going regime. The threat of a military coup, ever-present in the 1980’s and 90’s, is non-existent. China has become the key market for Argentine agro exports (soya). Macri, despite his declared passion to serve Washington, is obligated to accommodate to the Chinese market.

Any moves out of MERCOSUR and into the arms of the Transpacific Trade Agreement will prejudice Argentina’s strategic trade links with Brazil, Venezuela, Uruguay and Paraguay. Today Macri will find a hostile climate in Latin America for his proposed embrace of the US. His promise to ‘expel Venezuela from MERCOSUR’ has already been rejected by its members.

In summary, Macri will find it impossible to replicate the neoliberal policies of the 1990’s for all the above reasons. There is one additional factor to consider: The earlier version of the ‘free-market experiment’ led to the most severe economic depression in Argentine history with double-digit negative growth, unemployment exceeding 50% in working class districts (and 25% nationally) and poverty and extreme misery in some Argentine provinces exceeding Sub-Sahara Africa.

If Macri believes he can rush through the “harsh medicine” – and avoid the inevitable mass protest – while attracting a massive inflow of capital with which to rapidly grow the economy, he is gravely mistaken. After the initial giveaways and uptake of the stock market, the Soros and Loeb speculators will grab their profits and run. Weakened domestic consumption and the depressed global commodity market do not attract long term, large-scale capital.

The real question is not (as the financial pundits claim) whether Macri will ‘seize the opportunity’ but how soon after he tries to impose his free market model his regime will crash amid the ruins of a depressed economy, raging inflation and general strikes.

Brazil: Right Turn or a Left Opportunity

Commentators left and right cite the vertical decline of support for President
Dilma Rousseff from over 50% to less than 10% as a sign of the ‘decline of the left’. Judicial investigations have led to the arrest and prosecution of dozens of Congressional leaders of the so-called ‘Workers Party”’(PT) for wholesale bribery, money laundering and illicit transfers of millions of dollars!

Prosecutors have jailed scores of PT officials, legislators and senior executives of the giant public petroleum company, Petrobras, the directors of the biggest construction companies and investment banks who were partners in crime with former PT President Lula Da Silva. The one-time trade union leader, President Lula, turned into a poster boy for Wall Street and more recently a notorious influence peddler for Brazilian big businesses.

Prosecutors have arrested 117 officials from Petrobras, the giant state oil corporation, and Brazil’s biggest company. They have arrested two of Brazil’s most powerful capitalists: Marcelo Odebrecht, president of Constructora Norberto Odebrecht, and Octavio Marquez de Acevedo of the Andrade Gutierrez Corporation. Both contributed to the Workers Party electoral campaign of ex-President Lula Da Silva and current President Dilma Rousseff.

Big business contributors, currently under investigation or jailed, had received forty-times the value of their political donations in terms of lucrative PT government contracts (a 4000% return on investment!).

Criminal cases and arrests for ‘bribes for contracts’ schemes have affected the financial sector, including the billionaire financier Andre Esteves, founder-President of BTG Pactual , a close friend and associate of Lula Da Silva.

The entire elite of Brazil’s capitalist and financial class has been indicted, jailed or is under investigation. The Treasurer of the PT, Senate and Congressional leaders and Presidential advisers of the ‘Workers’ Party have been arrested and jailed for bribes, money laundering and fraud, in connection with the Petrobras and other corporate corruption scandals.

The judicial investigation demonstrates that the PT had become a party of the corporate elite. PT leaders and officials work closely with business elites in channeling billions to corporate treasuries. In contrast, the PT’s so-called “poverty program” donated $60 a month to poor families, just above subsistence level. This poverty program was part of a vast patronage machine designed to secure votes to elect corrupt officials embedded with big capital and financiers!

While the prosecutors are not explicitly anti-capitalist, the investigations have exposed the corrupt basis of capitalist rule. In the course of one year Brazilian prosecutors have conducted deeper and more thorough research on the power elite and determined how it rules, exploits and pillages the wealth of the country than any analysis by the vast majority of ‘leftist’ academics and journalists over the fifteen years of PT mis-governance.

The prosecutors have acted against the entire class of capitalist executives and their political partners in the PT with greater force and integrity than the major ‘left’ trade union (the CUT) and social movement (Landless Rural Workers (MST) leaders. The CUT and MST leaders secured minor regime concessions, in exchange for ignoring the large-scale, long-term criminal links between bankers, agro-businesspeople, industrialists and the PT.

While leaders of the MST, the CUT and the National Union of Students gave ‘critical’ support to Presidents Lula and Dilma and their entourage of corrupt Congresspeople, the prosecutors exposed years of endemic fraud, swindles and bribes which had enabled the PT leaders to buy luxury BMWs, Rolex watches and million-dollar villas and luxury condos in exclusive neighborhoods.

Deltan Dallagnol, one of the prosecutors leading the investigation, has demonstrated that the PT works for the rich and powerful, foreign and domestic capitalists and deceives the poor. His investigations demonstrate that the PT is not a ‘center-left’ party – it is a party of kleptocrats working for capitalists.

One thing is sure:  the PT is not a party embracing diverse popular classes; it is not an arena for popular struggle. It is a party that serves diverse capitalist sectors, including finance, construction, petroleum and agro business.

Because of corruption, the cost of government projects doubled and tripled. As a result vital social services were starved of funds and deteriorated and public transport construction was delayed for years.

In summary, the decline and discredit of the PT is not a defeat for the Left  because the PT regime never was on the left. On the contrary, the discredit of the PT is a positive victory for anti-capitalist forces struggling against the ruling class and political elite.

Conclusion

The victory of hard right neoliberal Mauricio Macri in Argentina and the disintegration of the PT do not augur a new rightwing cycle in Latin America. Marco’s economic team will quickly confront mass opposition and, outside the upper class neighborhoods, they lack any political mass support. Their policies will polarize the country and undermine the stability, which investors require. Brutal devaluations and the end of capital controls are formulas, not for economic development, but for inciting general strikes. Conflict, stagnation and hyperinflation will put an end to the enthusiasm of local and foreign investors.

Moreover, Macri cannot embrace Washington’s entire agenda because Argentina’s natural trading partner is China.

Macri’s regime is the beginning and the end of a reversion to the neo-liberal disaster, similar to what took place at the end of the 1990’s.

The fall of the PT, more a product of conscientious prosecutors than the action of trade unions and social movements, opens political space for new working class struggles, free from the constraints of corrupt leaders and bureaucrats.

Even if the Right returns to power in Brazil – it is tainted with the same stench of corruption; its capitalist partners are in jail or facing prosecution. In other words, the fall of the PT is only part of the decline and decay of all the capitalist parties.

Over time, soon after the collapse of the ‘New Right’, a new authentic left may emerge, free of corruption and links to big business. Hopefully, an authentic working class party will form, which can pursue socio-economic policies to end exploitation of labor, the pillage of the public treasury and the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. This should be a left, which sustains the environment, respects nature and upholds the rights of Afro-Brazilians, indigenous people and women.