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The crimes humans commit against each other have numerous justifications and rationalizations, to most of us in North America, we hear more about the atrocities of our enemies, that we do of the ones we commit in our name.  John Dower examines the Cold War period in history and concludes that our hands were just as bloody, if not more so, than our hated enemy.

     “When the torture manuals refer to “neutralizing” targets, this was commonly recognized as a euphemism for killing.  There is no evidence that cover US forces participated directly in the the grotesque torture, death squads, massacres, and “disappearances” characteristic of the dirty wars that ravaged Latin America, only that they promoted and supported them.  At the same time, there i”s little or no evidence that, in taking sides in these wars and training and materially aiding “anticommunist” participants in them, the United States gave serious attention to human rights or the rule of law.  In most countries south of the border, Washington supported right-wing regimes in their state terror.  In Nicaragua, it abetted the Contras in pursing a murderous campaign of “guerrilla” terror against the government.  Proxy war, surrogate terror, disdain for human rights and even for plain decency all came together. 

      As always, it is not possible to quantify the costs of this violence with any exactitude.  For South and Central American societies, the political, cultural, and psychological costs were – and to some degree still are – enormous.  Writing in Cambridge History of the Cold War, John Coatsworth observed that the Contra insurrection in Nicaragua devastated the economy, forced the government to abandon most of its social programs, and “cost th lives of 30,000 Nicaraguans, mostly civilian supporters of the Sandinista revolution.”  He put the death toll in El Salvador between 1979 and 1984 at nearly forty thousand, most who were unarmed combatants murdered by the armed forces. 

    Coatsworth also noted in passing that President Reagan visited Guatemala City in December 1982 and praised the ruling military junta for its commitment to defend the country against the threat of communism.  In 1982- 1983 alone, the government forced eight hundred thousand peasants into “civil patrols” ordered to uncover and kill insurgents or see their communities destroyed.  It followed up on its threat by destroying an estimated 686 villages and hamlets and killing between fifty thousand and seventy-five thousand people. 

    All told, Coatsworth estimates that the Cold War in Central America saw nearly three hundred thousand deaths in a population of thirty million, plus a million refugees who fled the area, mostly for the United States.  Based on examination of published CIA and State Department materials plus other reports unsympathetic to communist regimes, he reached this conclusion: “Between 1960, by which time the Soviets had dismantled Stalin’s gulags, and the Soviet collapse in 1990, the numbers of political prisoners, torture victims, and executions of nonviolent political dissenters in Latin America vastly exceeded those in the Soviet Union and its East European satellites.  In other words, from 1960 to 1990, the Soviet Union bloc as a whole was less repressive, measured in terms of human victims, than many individual Latin American countries.” 

   This does not diminish the multiple horrors of Soviet violence and oppression, but helps place them in perspective.”

-John W. Dower.  The Violent American Century. pp. 68 – 69.

This excerpt features Dr. Gus Abu-Sitta and

Looking back a touch in history certain cases come immediately to mind.  The UN (US) sanctions on Iraq for instance, and the terrifying cost 500,000 children dead.  Now underlying this appalling strategy we can see what one of the aims of the sanctions actually were – deprive the Iraqi State of the ability to help its citizens, with the goal of weakening the fabric of society, paving the way for future military and corporate conquest.

Scary shit.

 

“G.A-S: In the South, medicine and the provision of health were critical parts of the post-colonial state. And the post-colonial state built medical systems such as we had in Iraq, Egypt and in Syria as part of the social contract. They became an intrinsic part of the creation of those states. And it was a realization that the state has to exercise its power both coercively, (which we know the state is capable of exercising, by putting you in prison, and even exercising violence), but above all non-coercively: it needs to house you, educate you, and give you health, all of those things. And that non-coercive power that the states exercise is a critical part of the legitimizing process of the state. We saw it evolve in 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. So as a digression, if you want to look at how the state was dismantled: the aim of the sanctions against Iraq was not to weaken the Makhabarat or the army, the aim of the sanctions was to rob the Iraqi state of its non-coercive power; its ability to give life, to give education, and that’s why after 12 years, the state has totally collapsed internally – not because its coercive powers have weakened, but because it was robbed of all its non-coercive powers, of all its abilities to guarantee life to its citizens.

AV: So in a way the contract between the state and the people was broken.

G.A-S: Absolutely! And you had that contract existing in the majority of post-colonialist states. With the introduction of the IMF and World Bank-led policies that viewed health and the provision of health as a business opportunity for the ruling elites and for corporations, and viewed free healthcare as a burden on the state, you began to have an erosion in certain countries like Egypt, like Jordan, of the non-coercive powers of the state, leading to the gradual weakening of its legitimacy. Once again, the aim of the IMF and World Bank was to turn health into a commodity, which could be sold back to people as a service; sold back to those who could afford it.

AV: So, the US model, but in much more brutal form, as the wages in most of those countries were incomparably lower.

G.A-S: Absolutely! And the way you do that in these countries: you create a two-tier system where the government tier is so under-funded, that people choose to go to the private sector. And then in the private sector you basically have the flourishing of all aspects of private healthcare: from health insurance to provision of health care, to pharmaceuticals.”

[Source:Counterpunch]

    It is horrifying enough the results of the planned destruction of a nation’s society, but what is worse, is the fact that this is a carefully planned and codified strategy employed by the so called (self described) ‘good-guys’ of the world.  If that doesn’t chill your cornfritters, I’m not sure what could.

I consider this text a long form of the very basic radical assumption – the Masters’s tools will never dismantle the Master’s house’.  That is, working within the bounds of any oppressive system, one can only do so much and the chance of  affecting meaningful structural change approaches zero.  The People Centred Human rights approach realizes this axiomatic truth and works to expand the notion of what is to be done instead of working inside the system.

 

“The people-centered framework proceeds from the assumption that the genesis of the assaults on human dignity that are at the core of human rights violations is located in the relationships of oppression. The PCHR framework does not pretend to be non-political. It is a political project in the service of the oppressed. It names the enemies of freedom: the Western white supremacist, colonial/capitalist patriarchy.

Therefore, the realization of authentic freedom and human dignity can only come about as a result of the radical alteration of the structures and relationships that determine and often deny human dignity. In other words, it is only through social revolution that human rights can be realized.

The demands for clean water; safe and accessible food; free quality education; healthcare and healthiness for all; housing; public transportation; wages and a socially productive job that allow for a dignified life; ending of mass incarceration; universal free child care; opposition to war and the control and eventual elimination of the police; self-determination; and respect for democracy in all aspects of life are some of the people-centered human rights that can only be realized through a bottom-up mass movement for building popular power.

By shifting the center of human rights struggle away from advocacy to struggle, Malcolm laid the foundation for a more relevant form of human rights struggle for people still caught in the tentacles of Euro-American colonial dominance. The PCHR approach that creates human rights from the bottom-up views human rights as an arena of struggle. Human rights does not emanate from legalistic texts negotiated by states—it comes from the aspirations of the people. Unlike the liberal conception of human rights that elevates some mystical notions of natural law (which is really bourgeois law) as the foundation of rights, the “people” in formation are the ethical foundation and source of PCHRs.”

We are not taught radical history/analysis for a reason.  The elites make sure that education doesn’t arm the people with the tools to change society, and really why would they?

[Source: Ajamu Baraka writing on Counterpunch]

Trump level insanity dissected.

Secondary school, history class.

330px-emily_davison_portraitYou cover a small amount of information on the suffragettes, and your teacher shows you a video of Emily Wilding Davison getting struck down by Anmer, the King’s horse.

Your teacher asks the class, “we’ll never know why she did this”

But you know

All the girls in your class know, and are quiet, compared to the boys, who laugh, and jeer, and throw around words like “crazy”, because they simply don’t understand.

But you do.

The teacher asks, “who would have been a suffragette back then?” And you put your hand up.

He asks why.

‘Because,’ you think, ‘because I know how it is to live a life being told by everyone that you are inferior. Being told that you can’t play with us because you’re a girl, and girls are silly.

Being told that being pretty is all that matters, and being told that girls can’t do this, and girls can’t do that, and you still get told that it’s a lot better than it was.

You know that thirty years ago, women were laughed at for wanting to be independent, laughed at for wanting a job, and that was only thirty years ago.

Yet you can still imagine the desperation these women felt when they were doing all they could to be heard, and the whole world was deaf to their cries.

You can understand why Emily Wilding Davison ducked under that barrier to carry out her task, whatever that may have been, and stood in the path of a charging horse with determination and love for her cause.

You can still imagine a time where no woman would have ever dreamed of being independent.

When the idea of a single woman was scandalous and she was shunned.

You can imagine the feeling in the air when Emmeline Pankhurst spoke to thousands of women and declared “no more!”

“No more suffering in silence. No more playing to the whims of entitled men who have been served the earth on a silver platter with the words ‘for men’ carved across the globe,”

“No more being the plaything of man, it is our time. We are strong, and we will show the whole world what womankind can do”

You know how it feels to be female.’

But you can’t say that

You can’t say any of that, because he’s a man, and he could never understand.

So you shrug, and say something that feels wrong on your tongue.

It feels like a lie, because it’s not what you want to say

But you can’t say that

Because he wouldn’t understand

-Useless-englishfacts

   This is a meaty read folks, and much better when put in context of the original article that you should read here.  It will need a second and third reading, IMHO.

 

   “Identity politics flows logically from this broader censure of universalism. It is derived from the postmodern condition of fragmentation and decentring, according to postmodernists. At the level of description, this basic argument does have some force. Capitalism drives towards totalisation (as some postmodernists might put it) in its pursuit of unlimited capital growth, markets and resources. It unifies different societies and spheres of human endeavour by subsuming them under capital’s rule. Yet, it is quite clear that the major fluctuations of late capitalism—unemployment, the roller-coaster ride of global markets—are experienced by their victims as fragmenting and decentring. The destabilising effects of capitalism result from its central contradictions, and yet these contradictions impact on everyday lives in ways that seem incoherent. This appearance is most visible in the OECD countries where, not by coincidence, postmodernism has flourished. It is in the most developed zones of world capitalism that the penetration of all spheres of human life by capitalist social relations is at its greatest. However, fragmentation is not due to the dominance of the text, discourse or the Hyper-reality of postmodern life. There are other causes. While there is some validity in the description of contemporary life as seemingly volatile and disconnected, this condition should not be taken for granted. The underlying and complex reasons for it, and not just its surface effects, must be pursued.

However, identity politics is much more than just the experience of late capitalism’s instability. It is also a personal assertion of identity based on a condition of marginality. The assertion of identity is no longer part of political activity; it can constitute the entire arena of activity. Politics becomes a matter of “style” and a contest of competing and proliferating identities. This risks political impotence, if the sole emphasis is on difference at the expense of any principle of equality. Under those circumstances, identity politics becomes hostile to any idea of a universal basis for social justice and a revolutionary transformation of society. But not all identities are treated equally. The more traditional identity of class is disavowed. It has always been interpreted as a foundation for solidarity, rather than fragmentation. The “new” identities have emerged in such a way that they displace this traditional category, according to the postmodernists.23

The Marxist notion of class rests ultimately on a theory of exploitation that assumes that the social formation has an underlying logic or coherence. In contrast, identity politics assumes multiple bases of power that generate multiple forms of oppression. These are seen as the sites in which power is contested, but rarely in forms of alliance or with reference to a broader political vision. As the category of class is discarded, so also are forms of political organisation and the connections between struggles that it implies. Indeed, even many of the grassroots campaigns of social movements that combated marginality in the 1970s and 1980s become suspect for the broad fronts that they entered.

The institutional basis of marginalisation (racism, sexism, heterosexism) is neglected in this style of politics. Postmodern concerns with body, identity and difference displace the focus of theory, analysis and action from the institutional sites of power, such as the family, the state, work and school. All that remains, as a political orientation, is the mobilisation of identity in an ironic stance towards the institutions of power. The use of irony and a certain attitude to life is pitched as a gesture in itself towards power, one that avoids forming a counter-power. If this view has any value at all, some political judgment as to why one ironic posture is more potent or effective than any other would have to be exercised. But, it is not clear how postmodernists might do this, when the possible foundations of judgment debated by philosophers are themselves held in contempt.

The political corollary of postulating all identities as unstable and fragmented is dissipation of opposition to capitalism as a whole:

In a fragmented world composed of “decentred subjects”, where totalizing knowledges are impossible and undesirable …[w]hat better escape, in theory, from a confrontation with capitalism, the most totalizing system the world has ever known, than a rejection of totalizing knowledge? What greater obstacle, in practice, to anything more than the most local and particularistic resistances to the global, totalizing power of capitalism than the decentred and fragmented subject? What better excuse for submitting to the force majeure of capitalism than the conviction that its power, while pervasive, has no systemic origin, no unified logic, no identifiable social roots?24″

-Jeremy Smith

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