Category Archives: Spain

Yemen and Spain: Destruction and Death versus Spanish Unemployment

Spain’s President, socialist Pedro Sanchez, canceled a week ago the sale of 400 laser-guided missiles to the Saudis for humanitarian reasons (value of the missile contract € 9.2 million – US$ 10.7 million). A couple of days ago, he reversed that noble decision, reinstating the sale, because the Saudis threatened cancelling their contract for 5 “Corvette” warships to be built by Navantia over the next few years, for a value of € 1.8 billion (US$ 2.1 billion), providing work for some 6000 shipyard workers in one of the economically worst hit areas of Spain, Cadiz Province of Andalusia.

>So, to save jobs, Sanchez decided to sell the bombs after all, the very bombs that will further decimate the Yemeni population – kill masses of children and increase the untold, unfathomable misery for this poor country, strategically located on the Gulf of Aden.

The war ships Spain is producing for the Saudis are certainly not going to bring peace to the world either; they bring perhaps work to Spanish shipyard workers, but, Dear Mr. Sanchez, where are your ethics?  Where is your sense of Human Rights?

Would it not be more ethical to help Spanish workers find alternative jobs, or while they are looking, pay them unemployment at a decent level? Perhaps exceptional unemployment, because the reason for the unemployment in this case is ‘exceptional’ and ethical to the point that the workers would probably understand — a sense of integrity and conscience they may proudly pass on to their children.

To top it all off, Spain’s Minister of Defense, Margarita Robles, pretends that the Saudis have to guarantee that the missiles will not be used against Yemenis. Whom does she think she is fooling? Would the Spanish people be so blind to reality to believe this lie? I don’t think so. The Spaniards, having gone themselves through ten years of foreign imposed economic austerity hardship, an economic warfare of sorts, are more awake than believing dishonesties that serve the capitalist, profit-seeking war industry.

The Spanish bombs may substantially contribute to the killing of tens of thousands of Yemenis and among them countless defenseless children and women. The delivery of these missiles would be a tacit recognition and acceptance that the Saudis, supported by the US, the UK and France, block vital food and medical supplies from entering Yemen, thereby starving literally millions to death. And most likely the Spanish warships are creating in Yemen or elsewhere even worse human suffering.

Instead, Mr. Sanchez, why not show your heart and compassion for these innocent victims of western aggression, override your Minister of Defense, and block the sale of the 400 deadly missiles and the 5 killer Corvettes?

According to Mint Press News (10 September, 2018), the UN estimates that nearly 20 million Yemenis could die from starvation this year. That’s about 70% of the entire population, and that horrific number includes more than 2 million children. Two to three generations wiped out by the world’s most criminal monster nations, the Saudis, supported by the US, UK, France specifically, and more generally, by NATO. About 500,000 of these children already show severe signs of malnutrition, which, if it lasts over an extended period of time, may cause severe brain damage and stunting effects that might even be passed on to future generations.

Since the onset of the war which typically and conveniently is called by the west a ‘civil war’ which it is, of course, not – the US has supported the confrontation with over US$ 200 billion of war planes and weapons, and the UK with missiles and bombs. This war of aggression by the US and western puppet allies, aiming foremost at dominating the country’s geographic and geostrategic location, overlooking the Gulf of Aden and further to the east, the Arabian Sea, leading to the Persian Gulf, has created the worst humanitarian crisis in modern history.

Under international pressure and a UN appeal, the Saudis have offered US$ 300 million worth of humanitarian aid – food and medication – with deadly strings attached. They have weaponizing this humanitarian aid, by closing the main ports of entry, especially the one of Hodeida, so the aid could not reach the population in need. Yemen relies for 80% of her food supply on maritime imports, 90% of which normally enters through the Red Sea port of Hodeida.

The Saudis – always with the explicit support of Washington – targeted on purpose key survival installations, like water supply and sewerage systems, agricultural fields, market places, food storage sites, power generation and electricity grids, hospitals, schools, basic transportation infrastructure,  all to create the most abject scenario for starvation and disease, especially intestinal diseases, dysentery, cholera, from lack of drinking water and sewage pollution. With a currency that loses every day more of its value and skyrocketing food prices, three quarters of the population depends on humanitarian aid, most of which is blocked at the points of entry.

The last remaining lifeline for about 18 million Yemenis is the port of Hodeida. In fact, the assault on the port city of Hodeida is led by another U.S. Gulf coalition ally, the United Arab Emirates. The deadly operation to capture Hodeida is dubbed “Golden Victory”, putting up to a million people into an open prison of sexual torture, rape, starvation and uncountable other war crimes. According to UN estimates, a quarter-million men, women, and children could die from the military assault alone should the US-backed coalition continue its invasion of Hodeida. Saudi warplanes have already bombed school buses with children and buses of refugees fleeing the airstrikes, killing hundreds.

Mr. President Sanchez, you must be aware of this abysmal situation and crime that your 400 guided missiles would worsen – more bloodshed, more suffering, more children killed? Aren’t you?

And if you are, Mr. President, don’t you think that the humanitarian gesture that you first intended, not selling these bombs to the Saudis would by far outweigh the unemployment of 6000 shipyard workers?  An unemployment that your government could easily resolve, if not on a regular, then on an exceptional basis for the exceptional cause of avoiding more killing and more suffering, or what the UN describes as an outright genocide.

But there may be more at stake than meets the eye. Despite some fierce opposition, the US Congress has again voted for unquestioned support for Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen. Foreign Secretary Pompeo has made it clear that he expects allied nations, especially NATO nations, of which Spain is one, to follow the US lead in supporting the Saudi-led hostility against a nation already eviscerated, for all practical purposes.

Was this perhaps understood as a threat of US sanctions, in case you disobey this tacit order, Mr. President?

Dear Mr. Sanchez, you would have a brilliant and simple legal reason for NOT selling these deadly and destructive weapons, missiles and warships, to the Saudis. The Spanish Constitution, like the Constitutions of most European countries, prohibits selling weapons to countries “when there are indications that these weapons could be used against inherent human dignity”. In addition, the common position of the EU recommends and insists that her members refrain from selling arms when there is a risk that they are used to violate Human Rights.

Of course, any EU law or regulation is easily overruled by the Masters from Washington. That’s why it takes guts – and more – for a President, a socialist and humanitarian at heart, one who in his first 100 days in office has already done a lot of good at home, by undoing some of the disastrous social laws of his conservative predecessor, who was forced out of office in the midst of modern Spain’s scandal of worst corruption – hence, for you, Mr. President, to resist the pressure from outside as well as from within – would be sending an important message of morals and ethics to the world.

Mr. Sanchez, you would be a hero, not only for Spain and the Spanish shipyard workers, who would most certainly applaud you, but for the entire world. You would demonstrate that your ethics cannot be compromised by money or political pressure. This would, indeed, be a novelty for our neoliberal western world.

And your personal benefit, Mr. Sanchez: You could again sleep at night.

Dark Precedents: Matteo Salvini, the MV Tampa and Refugees

In August 2001, Australia’s dour Prime Minister John Howard demonstrated to the world what his country’s elite soldiers could do. Desperate, close to starvation and having been rescued at sea from the Palapa I in the Indian Ocean, refugees and asylum seekers on the Norwegian vessel, the MV Tampa, were greeted by the “crack” troops of the Special Air Services.

A bitter, politicised standoff ensued.  The Norwegian vessel had initially made its way to the Indonesian port of Merak, but then turned towards the Australian territory of Christmas Island.  Howard, being the political animal he was, had to concoct a crisis to distract.  The politics of fear had a better convertibility rate than the politics of hope.

Australian authorities rebuked and threatened the container ship’s captain, claiming that if Rinnan refused to change course from entering Australia’s territorial sea, he would be liable to prosecution for people smuggling.  The vessel was refused docking at Christmas Island.  As was remarked a few years later by Mary Crock in the Pacific Rim Law and Policy Journal, “The stand taken by Australia in August 2001 set a precedent that, if followed by other refugee receiving countries, could only worsen the already deplorable problems facing asylum seekers in the world today.”

And so it has transpired. Italy’s response to the migrant rescue ship, MV Aquarius, eerily evoked the Tampa and its captain’s plight.  The charity ship, carrying some 629 African refugees, found all Italian ports closed to it under the express orders of Matteo Salvini, who has debuted in stormy fashion as Italy’s new deputy prime minister and minister for the interior.

Salvini had, at first instance, pressed Malta to accept the human cargo, but only got an offer of assistance with air evacuations.  “The good God,” he bitterly surmised, “put Malta closer to Africa than Sicily.”  The result was initial diplomatic inertia, followed by growing humanitarian crisis, and a Spanish offer to accept the vessel.

The situation clearly, as it did in the case of the Tampa, was calculated for maximum political bruising.  One of Salvini’s many political hats is federal secretary of the populist Lega party, which capitalised, along with the Five Star Movement, on the shambles of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s failure to form a government in May.  The nature of that calculation was made clearer by the uneventful rescue of 937 refugees off the Libyan coast who were taken to Catania in Sicily by the Italian warship, the Diciotti on Tuesday. Little fuss arose from that engagement.

The target seemed to be the French-based non-governmental organisation SOS Méditerranée, who so happens to own the Aquarius.  The implication here is the Salvini camp are none too pleased with those rescue organisations they accuse of feeding a people smuggling racket.

Again, this very sentiment accords with Australia’s manic obsession in breaking what is termed by all major parties to be a “market model” that ignores humanity for profit.  In categorising such activity with an accountant’s sensibility, it becomes easier to dispose of the human subjects in a more cavalier manner.

The sentiments expressed by the newly emboldened Italian authorities do not merely speak volumes to a change of heart which, given the boatloads of irregular arrivals in the wake of Libya’s collapse in 2011, was bound to happen.  They point to a disintegration of a common front regarding the rescue and processing of asylum seekers and refugees, a general fracturing of the European approach to a problem that has been all too disparate in responses.

Over the last few years, the number of arrivals fell but this has been occasioned by patchwork interventions by such countries as Greece, which has in its place a questionable agreement with Ankara to keep a lid on arrivals from Syria. Italy has much the same with Libya, courtesy of a 2017 memorandum of understanding hammered out by Marco Minniti ostensibly in the field of security and cooperation to stem illegal immigration.  Salvini lay, in due course, in not-so-quiet incubation, becoming a vocal representative of a front suspicious of intentions in Brussels and northern European states.

Righteous France, fuming at Italy’s conduct, has done its bit to keep pathways to its territory with Italy shut.  Ditto Austria.  Other states such as Spain and Malta have preferred indifference, leading to the assertion by Salvini that his country has become the “refugee camp of Europe”.

For the interior minister, the Australian “stop the boats” mantra is something like a godsend, a note of clarity in the humanitarian murkiness.  He has also admired the firm-fisted approach of Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, who supplied Salvini with ample electoral ammunition on the refugee crisis in Europe, not to mention those bleeding, yet stingy hearts in Brussels.

The Tampa platform has become something of an inspiration to a range of European politicians, be it Germany’s Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer, and Austria’s Sebastian Kurz, not to mention Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia.  They form a collective of hardening irritables who are taking the issue of regulating refugees away from the centralised assumptions of the EU polity.

The Italian government’s plans on the issue of irregular migration refocus interest in evaluating asylum applications in countries of origin or transit, stemming migrant flows at external borders, targeting international trafficking utilising the assistance of other EU states, and establishing (Australian politicians would delight in this) detention centres in all of Italy’s 20 regions. The standout feature here is abolishing the Dublin Regulation obliging countries on the border of the EU – and in this, Italy is most prone – to host arrivals.

Had the warnings and urgings of the previous Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni been heeded, notably on the sharing of the housing and processing burdens across other countries, the spectacle of a rebuffed Aquarius may well have been averted.  EU complicity in this debacle is unquestionable and it is not merely refugees who need rescuing, but the European Project itself, which will require a Good Samaritan to storm in with vision and purpose.  To save one may well save the other.

The Isolation of Julian Assange is the Silencing of Us All

In this letter, twenty-seven writers, journalists, film-makers, artists, academics, former intelligence officers and democrats call on the government of Ecuador to allow Julian Assange his right of freedom of speech.

If it was ever clear that the case of Julian Assange was never just a legal case, but a struggle for the protection of basic human rights, it is now.

Citing his critical tweets about the recent detention of Catalan president Carles Puidgemont in Germany, and following pressure from the US, Spanish and UK governments, the Ecuadorian government has installed an electronic jammer to stop Assange communicating with the outside world via the internet and phone.

As if ensuring his total isolation, the Ecuadorian government is also refusing to allow him to receive visitors. Despite two UN rulings describing his detention as unlawful and mandating his immediate release, Assange has been effectively imprisoned since he was first placed in isolation in Wandsworth prison in London in December 2010. He has never been charged with a crime. The Swedish case against him collapsed and was withdrawn, while the United States has stepped up efforts to prosecute him. His only “crime” is that of a true journalist — telling the world the truths that people have a right to know.

Under its previous president, the Ecuadorian government bravely stood against the bullying might of the United States and granted Assange political asylum as a political refugee. International law and the morality of human rights was on its side.

Today, under extreme pressure from Washington and its collaborators, another government in Ecuador justifies its gagging of Assange by stating that “Assange’s behaviour, through his messages on social media, put at risk good relations which this country has with the UK, the rest of the EU and other nations.”

This censorious attack on free speech is not happening in Turkey, Saudi Arabia or China; it is right in the heart of London. If the Ecuadorian government does not cease its unworthy action, it, too, will become an agent of persecution rather than the valiant nation that stood up for freedom and for free speech. If the EU and the UK continue to participate in the scandalous silencing of a true dissident in their midst, it will mean that free speech is indeed dying in Europe. This is not just a matter of showing support and solidarity. We are appealing to all who care about basic human rights to call on the government of Ecuador to continue defending the rights of a courageous free speech activist, journalist and whistleblower.

We ask that his basic human rights be respected as an Ecuadorian citizen and internationally protected person and that he not be silenced or expelled.

If there is no freedom of speech for Julian Assange, there is no freedom of speech for any of us — regardless of the disparate opinions we hold.

We call on President Moreno to end the isolation of Julian Assange now.

List of signatories (in alphabetic order):

Pamela Anderson, actress and activist
Jacob Appelbaum, freelance journalist
Renata Avila, International Human Rights Lawyer
Sally Burch, British/Ecuadorian journalist
Alicia Castro, Argentina’s ambassador to the United Kingdom 2012-16
Naomi Colvin, Courage Foundation
Noam Chomsky, linguist and political theorist
Brian Eno, musician
Joseph Farrell, WikiLeaks Ambassador and board member of The Centre for Investigative Journalism
Teresa Forcades, Benedictine nun, Montserrat Monastery
Charles Glass, American-British author, journalist, broadcaster
Chris Hedges, journalist
Srecko Horvat, philosopher, Democracy in Europe Movement (DiEM25)
Jean Michel Jarre, musician
John Kiriakou, former CIA counterterrorism officer and former senior investigator, U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Lauri Love, computer scientist and activist
Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst, Presidential advisor
John Pilger, journalist and film-maker
Angela Richter, theater director, Germany
Saskia Sassen, sociologist, Columbia University
Oliver Stone, film-maker
Vaughan Smith, English journalist
Yanis Varoufakis, economist, former Greek finance minister
Natalia Viana, investigative journalist and co-director of Agencia publica, Brazil
Ai Weiwei, artist
Vivienne Westwood, fashion designer and activist
Slavoj Žižek, philosopher, Birkbeck Institute for Humanities

Socialist Planning Circles

Common objections to socialist planning from below

In my last article, “Do You Socialists Have Any Plans? Why We Need Socialist Architects“, I argued that the only way 21st century socialism is going to get any traction with working class people is to not only have a socialist vision, but also to have feasible plans which suggest transitions in between the current capitalist crisis and our ultimate vision.

In that article, I presented the following objections along with their rebuttal through a dialogue between two workers: an older worker, Andrew, and a young, anarchist worker, Sean. The objections of Sean to socialist planning transitions were:

  • Marx said a plan isn’t necessary—the workers of the future will figure this out.
  • Workers are only capable of dealing with survival needs. Planning is too remote from every-day life for them.
  • Plans are rigid and can’t do justice to the complexity of social life.
  • Plans aren’t implemented as politics gets in the way. (Stalin’s chaotic five-year plan)
  • There is something inherently revolutionary about collective spontaneity.

Let’s examine some small but hopeful moments that could benefit from and be deepened by socialists who have collective experience making socialist plans.

Disaster socialism as a precursor

In his book Introduction to Collective Behavior and Collective Action, David Miller cites convincing research demonstrating that natural disasters bring out the best rather than the worst in people. Contrary to centrist newspapers’ mantras about “looting”, most people respond to a crisis heroically. Instead of mainstream newspapers’ warmed-over version of a Lord of the Flies scenario, if we examine the mass behavior in the recent hurricanes to hit Florida, Texas, Mexico and Puerto Rico, we find stories of people acting altruistically, in socialist ways. From a socialist point of view, the problems with the crowd’s altruistic response to these disasters is that after the storm people have not built socialist institutions that can help them extend their altruism longer before the return to a rapidly collapsing capitalism. Yet the behavior of masses of people in natural disasters is very close to how people behave in revolutionary situations. How can we preserve and deepen the memory of such collective creativity?

Workers cooperatives

Capitalists have done a good job of convincing people that there is “no alternative to capitalism because all socialism is Stalinism – and that has failed. This ignores the fact that workers’ self-management, workers’ control, and worker cooperatives currently exist and many are surviving with better production records than capitalist businesses or workers under state socialism. (Seymour Melman’s book After Capitalism provides a wonderful description of this). In the case of worker cooperatives, they are managed and run by workers themselves, most of whom have ownership in the company. Through regularly held general assemblies, workers decide together what will be produced, how much will be produced, how long and how hard they will work and what they will be paid. They also decide what tools and resources they will purchase and what they will do with the surplus. This is a radical departure from companies where workers have no say in any of these matters. John Curl’s book, For All the People documents the history of workers’ co-ops.We don’t expect miracles from any worker co-op because they still have to exist within a decaying world capitalist system. However, worker co-ops and the flashes of “disaster socialism” are promising.

Rank-and-file union democracy

As many of you know, radical unions in the early 20th century in the United States like the Wobblies used to talk about workers running things on their own, having “One Big Union”. Now unions have given up any vision of workers running anything. Instead, they preside over the most myopic concerns at sparsely attended meetings. In fact, when my partner once asked her shop steward at the university where she worked, “why don’t all these separate unions unite under one union instead of having numerous small ones? Wouldn’t we be stronger united?”, the steward looked at her like she was from another planet. Despite this, one small bright spot in the United States is Labor Notes, a monthly publication which tracks union activity around the US from the point of view of the rank-and-file. These monthly reports are union workers’ experiences with the strategies and tactics they used to combat employers and were largely independent of union leadership.

What is missing from these scenes of “disaster socialism” workers’ co-ops and rank-and file union democracy is a unified political party which coordinates, synchronizes, deepens and expands all these activities and spreads them to wider sectors of society with some kind of transition program. We don’t have such a party, but if we did the party would need a coordinated plan to link these experiences together in time and space.

Limitations of Trotskyist transition programs

Unlike anarchists, Leninists have experience with state power and understand the importance of a socialist transition program which takes years and decades to implement. In the United States, the Socialist Workers Party used to lay out a transition program as part of their presidential runs. We think this was a very good idea. The problem here is that all the imaginary planning was done by the vanguard party. “The workers”, as Lenin said, “can attain only a trade union consciousness”. They need to be injected with the collective imagination of the vanguard. But the workers of Russia during the first four years of the revolution and the Spanish workers during the Spanish Revolution of 1936-1939 showed more collective imagination than any vanguard party. They developed general assemblies, workers’ councils, and direct democracy by politically mandating delegates rather than representatives. Optimally, these delegates were rotated and were strictly recallable. These were the inventions of working class collective creativity that were not imposed on them by any socialist leadership. In the case of Russia, it was the Bolshevik party that reacted and supported these councils or “soviets”, for a time. But the origin of these political forms were workers, peasants and soldiers.

Filling in the Gaps

As I said in my previous article, socialists are very good at criticizing capitalism. You can get us to argue about what would and wouldn’t be allowed in our ideal socialist society: whether or not to abolish inheritance; how people should be compensated for their work or whether we use labor vouchers or dissolve all mediated exchange of products and services. But the moment you say “what about the messy transition from the current capitalist crisis to our ideal conditions?”, almost everyone disappears.

There are a few visionaries who propose scenarios about what socialist futures might look like and how to get there, including David Schweickart, John Romer, Michael Albert, and Erik Olin Wright. But do radical organizers use these plans? No. They either don’t know about them or they do know, and they dismiss them because the theorists are academics. But worse, they don’t even think plans are necessary. At best, radical organizers go from socialist principles directly to strategies, tactics and then to collective actions. My claim in this article is that between principles and actions there needs to be socialist plans that inform strategies and tactics. Plans mediate between principles and strategies. They ground principles, making them more tangible while they give wings to strategies by keeping the long-view in mind.

Here is what I don’t understand. Socialists have no problem starting and sustaining book clubs in which they discuss and learn what the great theorists say. There are book clubs about politics, economics, history and anthropology. But there are no meeting groups where socialists are forced to write detailed plans to answer questions such as:

  • Give me a snap-shot version of how a socialist future will work in terms of politics, economics, the workplace, housing and education.
  • How long do you project it would it take, and by what process are you going to get there?

If I weren’t already a socialist these are the questions I would expect most socialists to be able to answer readily. If they couldn’t do this I’d never take them seriously. If fiction-writing groups get together and write stories, why don’t socialists get together and share their dreams as architects of socialism?

My Personal experience with socialist planning circles

About three years ago, four of us got together for over a year and engaged in what we called a “socialist planning circle”. We met for three hours once every two weeks. We each developed our own plans for the most basic social institutions that would need to be reorganized as part of the revolution – food production, basic housing, energy harnessing, transportation systems, and workplace organization, to name a few.

The kind of controversies we addressed were:

  • Economic allocation systems: who is entitled to what under what conditions?
  • What does a transition out of the wage system look like?
  • How do we institute a global minimum wage to keep capitalists from leaving a country?
  • How to we abolish finance capital? Is there a place for “socialist banks?”
  • How might food cooperatives reorganize food production?
  • If we want to abolish the prison system, what do we do with people who continue to engage in anti-social activities?
  • By what process would shortening the work week be institutionalized?
  • Which social industries can afford to be localized and which, say, energy system might need to remain centralized?
  • How to coordinate workers’ councils from the local to regional level?
  • Will we still have a need for political parties and if so, how would they be organized?

Our procedure in socialist planning circles

We agreed on an area in social life from our master list, say economic allocation. Over the next two weeks we each created our own vision of the future about economic allocation. We each made a table entitled “The Current Crisis of Capitalism” and followed it through in six phases:

  • Transition one phase
  • Justification for transition one
  • Transition two phase
  • Justification for transition two
  • Ideal condition
  • Justification for ideal condition

Once the phases were identified:

  • Each of us presented our plan for economic allocation at the next meeting
  • We criticized and discussed each other’s plans
  • Two weeks later we synthesized the plans into a written document
  • We picked a new topic and repeated the steps

What was invigorating about this process was how often we already had ideas about these topics but we didn’t know we had them because we never asked ourselves, let alone anyone else. We also learned a great deal from the criticism from other members. Some of us were hesitant about our own plans but we could be critical of the plans of others. These criticisms in turn led us to look at our own hesitant plans in a new way. What was also interesting was the need to prioritize in what order we would restructure things in a socialist manner. It’s like a parody of the old show “Queen for a Day”. If the gods said you had a week to build a socialist system, what would you do first, second and third?

Justification for socialist planning circles

A socialist planning circle is a small group of 4 to 8 people formed with the intention of:

  • Giving socialists confidence that we can plan the future now while living under capitalism. This involves learning and practicing our skills at planning transition programs for the infrastructure, structure and superstructure of socialist society among ourselves. We rehearse our scenarios in the hope that when capitalism collapses we have some semblance of a collective, structured understanding as to what is to be done because we have shaped, criticized and refined our plans through thought, discussion, writing, criticism and revision over weeks, months and years.
  • Once we have experienced this process in a pilot group, we establish new groups to provide a supportive atmosphere to help working class people build confidence that they are smart enough to coordinate production across their workplaces.

There is a need for working class visionaries who learn to collectively imagine socialist futures, not by reading books, but by writing and sharing our imaginations now, before capitalism completely collapses. We need to rehearse, rehearse and rehearse our socialist plans with each other. We need to begin to cultivate our social imaginations now, rather than waiting for leaders or vanguard parties to do this for us. We have to have the nerve to say, “I can imagine transportation systems could be run this way, or food distribution should be run that way”. This project requires us to take seriously our socialist claim that we know how things could work in an ultimate sense, as we imagine how we navigate in the immediate future through the muddy, murky waters of getting from the crisis to our ideal conditions.

Objections

Why don’t you just start a reading group of socialist visionaries like you mentioned earlier rather than reinventing the wheel?

For the same reasons that you don’t begin scientific research with a literature review. You begin with your hypothesis and what the reasons are you think will support it. Then you do the literature review. Otherwise what you think is buried by the literature review. The same thing is true for art. You don’t begin drawing the figure by measuring it with a ruler. You begin with a gesture drawing, so you bring life into the drawing. You measure later. In the case of socialist planning, I’m convinced that people have an unconscious knowledge of how social organization could be. It is currently buried within them and needs to become conscious and worked on. The scenarios of scholars would only bury this unconscious knowledge. In the revolutionary situations that are coming, we are going to have to figure this out by ourselves anyway.

Socialist planning circles are too abstract and not connected to the working class. Getting together and spinning socialist plans pulls us away from the daily struggles of poor and working-class people. It will draw people who just want to talk and not act.

This is a danger in a discussion group in which there is no reading and where no preparation is required. It is less of a problem in a structured reading group because the individuals must make the effort to read the book in order to discuss it. A socialist planning group requires imagination and preparation, just the way a painting group would require people to bring two paintings to show for the next meeting or a songwriters’ group would expect people to come up with two songs for the next meeting. In some ways planning is more difficult than imagining ideal conditions. Ideal conditions ask you to imagine how things could be in an ultimate sense. Socialist planning groups ask, “How are you going to get there”. In my opinion, the second requires a far more active commitment. A socialist planning group would very quickly shed ‘dead weight” people who just wanted to talk.

These plans will dissolve once they face the realities of real social life

Any socialist who participated in these groups would know that when they return to their political practice much of the plans they learned to cultivate in the group would crumble and dissolve. However, the collective memory of some of these plans would remain and grow stronger by continuing in the socialist planning hot-houses over weeks, months and even years.

For example “participatory budgeting” is a way for people to become involved in local economics by having a say in the prioritization of the city’s budget. This exercise is designed to give residents practice in how to plan economically. But years ago, anarchist Murray Bookchin argued that the basic unit of city governance should not be city council, but neighborhood assemblies. City budget priorities were proposed at these local assemblies. Does that mean the city council in a capitalist city would accept that local neighborhood assemblies should exist at all? Of course not! Neither are they likely to agree if these assemblies decided that they wanted real estate “developers” kicked out along with a reduction of the police force. The important thing is to awaken in working class people a taste for planning and running things independently of the outcome.

The subtitle of this article was very carefully chosen. I am not advocating a static blueprint. I am advocating building scaffolds. In a technical sense a scaffold is defined as a temporary structure outside a building used by workers while constructing or repairing a building. Scaffolds are a necessary but not a sufficient condition for buildings. Scaffolds are not buildings. But without scaffolds there would be no buildings. The buildings themselves are like the socialist institutions of the future. The scaffolds are the means by which we build that future. There will be no socialist “buildings” without scaffolds.

As capitalism continues to decline, we will have more “disaster socialism” situations because the chickens are coming home to roost in capitalist ecological policies. Workers’ co-ops may spread because they will pay better entry level wages than capitalists and they are less likely to fire people in times of crisis. Rank-and-file democracy in unions will spread as workers become increasingly disgusted by a union leadership wedded to the Democratic Party. In all these circumstances the memory and enactment of socialist planning circles’ scaffolds could only deepen and organize what is already going on.

Optimally socialist planning circles would be an institutionalized, ongoing structure within a working-class party. It could certainly be implemented within the Green Party. But we can’t wait for these organizations to do this. Socialist planning circles should begin now. If organizations form later to house socialist planning circles, fine, but we cannot afford to wait for them to see the light. We must be our own light. If they these political forms emerge later, they will be lucky to have us!

The catalan crisis

Legal aspects between Spain and Catalonia cannot be solved by railroading them through. Serious conciliation negotiations are now indispensable / The law on self-determination today, by Alfred de Zayas / Direct democracy in Austria? / USA and Germany opened Pandora's box. Documents prove: double standards based on power politics provoked separatism, extremism and terrorism, by Živadin Jovanovic / China – a chance for cooperation / CETA put into effect – an affront to democracy, by Jacques Sapir / Germany must finally take its East seriously, by Karl Müller / Gert Polli: Europe is under dominance of US secret services, by Rainer Schopf / “No computer can replace a teacher”. Press conference of the “Alliance for a Humane Education” in Stuttgart, by Klaudia Kruck-Schaer / Dual vocational training – Success factor for the economic location and for our youth / Apprenticeship firms and workshops (...)

The wanderings of Carles Puigdemont

On 30 October 2017, Carles Puigdemont, former President of the Generalitat of Catalogne, arrived in Brussels. He had been welcomed there by members of the New Flemish Alliance (the Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie or the NVA) and resided at the headquarters of the European Free Alliance (“Alliance libre européenne”). The NVA is a Flemish regional party participating in the current Belgian government. A few of its leaders are known for their links with the extreme right. The European Free Alliance is (...)

Trump and secessionism, by Thierry Meyssan

While the neo-conservatives were hoping to create a « world revolution » by exporting their form of « democracy » by means of war, President Trump is basing his foreign policy on the respect for State sovereignty. Consequently, he has put a stop to all US support for separatism. Thierry Meyssan reminds us here of the ambiguities in the US position on secession, then demonstrates the common features of the events in Kenya, Iraq and Spain.

Trump and secessionism, by Thierry Meyssan

While the neo-conservatives were hoping to create a « world revolution » by exporting their form of « democracy » by means of war, President Trump is basing his foreign policy on the respect for State sovereignty. Consequently, he has put a stop to all US support for separatism. Thierry Meyssan reminds us here of the ambiguities in the US position on secession, then demonstrates the common features of the events in Kenya, Iraq and Spain.

From Gandhi to Catalans, the Revolutionary Movement of Peacemakers

As Trump’s dangerous move on Iran’s nuclear deal and his provocative reaction to North Korea undercut diplomacy, tension is rising for World War III. Discord in the international community has been amplified in conflicts of identity politics across America. Greed and power-seeking leaders’ ambition for profits never end. With ever-increased military budgets, combined with tax cuts for the rich and slashes in health care and public funds, the legacy of imperialism is carried on. Uncertainty created by economic stagnation is generating frustration and anxiety, which is turned into anger and fear. These emotions are then channeled to harness a false sense of nationalism and white supremacy.

In the air of hostility that surrounds us, it is tempting for people to shun those who have opposing views and to respond to hate with even more hate. Resistance can easily be relegated to reactionary rallies. Protests quickly turn into an ideological battle of us versus them, which often results in violence. Yet for real social change to happen, it is imperative for all of us to overcome this loathing toward different views and work together.

There is a force within each person that can counter the hatred that seeks to separate us. Mahatma Gandhi recognized this as the power of peace and applied it to create nonviolent civil disobedience that led to India’s independence from British rule. Now, more than a half century later, a similar peaceful resistance has emerged.

Recently, leading up to the independence referendum on October 1 in Catalonia, Spain’s richest province, Spanish police engaged full force to stop the voting. WikiLeaks founder and editor in chief Julian Assange, who has remained confined to the Ecuadorian embassy in London for more than five years, acknowledged the peaceful act of self-determination by the Catalonian people in facing this police violence. Calling it “the most disciplined Gandhian project since Gandhi,” he said that “its results will spread everywhere.” Peace is a revolutionary force that largely remains untapped. How can social movements be created by this innate transformative power and bring harmony to this divided world?

The great law of peace

The same force of peace that guided Gandhi to fight against the oppression of Britain was present at the beginning of the United States. In history classes, many learned about the American Revolution and the War of Independence, where founders bravely fought for separation from King George. We all know America was founded on revolutionary spirit, but little is known about the quiet strength behind a fiery passion of war at the birth of a nation.

Early colonists, after settling into this New World, interacted with indigenous people. Historians have consistently noted how the original framers of the US Constitution like George Washington and Benjamin Franklin greatly admired the core concepts of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy and their democratic governance that was based on a vision of peace. So what does peace mean?

From Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace to John Lennon’s popular song Give Peace a Chance, the word “peace” is in our everyday vocabulary. Many of us make slogans, carry banners of peace, and march in the streets. In our culture, peace seems to have become a mere symbol and has come to simply indicate the opposite of violence or a lack of conflict. Native Americans had a different conception of peace. Philosopher Jacob Needleman1 described how to them, it is “not as something passive, not as a mere absence of conflict, but as a force that can harmonize the actions and impulses of human life in all their multiplicity and opposition to each other” (p. 215). Peace, to Native Americans, is at the center of their way of life.

Needleman recognized how this peace diverges from European religious and ethical principles that work in duality and supports the “radical separation of the good (however it is understood) and the evil (that which resists the good)” (p. 198). He noted how peace conceived by Native Americans acknowledges interconnectedness of good and evil and it “includes all the forces of life,” even “what we often call ‘evil’” (p. 195). He then described for them “to be at peace means to be at peace with one’s conscience” (p. 196).

The First Nation’s conception of peace calls on each to recognize and respect each other’s differences, even the opinions and viewpoints of those we disagree with or condemn. The Great Law of Peace protects independence and individual liberty, while at the same time bases decision-making processes on consensus rather than majority rule. This wisdom of peace was not only at the root of Native American governance, but also influenced the formation of the US government—in particular, the key concept of decentralized power that was secured by the separation of power and checks and balances incorporated into the US Constitution.

Lost ideals and call for love

This peace placed at the foundation of America is a radical acceptance of differences that recognizes all equally in their uniqueness. Out of this fertile soil that embraces diverse seeds sprang the sprouts of inalienable rights. These include life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that were promised in the Declaration of Independence.

Yet this revolutionary idea of peace that enlightened the mind and lit the hearts of early settlers seems to have been cast off by the shadow of the old world of monarchy. As Frederick Douglass reminded us in his famous speech “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro,” America became “false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future.” From the onset, with internal contradictions in the genocide of natives, slavery of Blacks, and the oppression of women, the nation diverged from the ground upon which it stood. The promise of equality in the Declaration became empty words. History, with absence of authors who can take responsibility for their creative power, remained asleep to its potential and fell prey to the darkness within.

As the republic expanded, with a focus on material happiness and short-term pleasure through acquisition, the force of peace retreated into the background. Yet it continued to speak to the hearts of ordinary people who still listened to the cries in the wilderness, awakening impulses for social change.

In the 1840s, women’s suffrage gained strength. Through the emergence of feminism, nature began to speak its silent language of peace. Some recognized the influence of the Iroquois principles of democracy, in which women played an important role. In the mid-1950s, mass protests erupted against racial segregation and discrimination in the southern states, which launched the nationwide civil rights movement. Martin Luther King Jr. found the power of peace that Gandhi had discovered. In his effort to liberate Black people in the struggle for civil rights, he inspired the nation through a true message of peace—its unifying force of love even for one’s enemies. In his speech delivered in 1957 in Montgomery, Alabama, Dr. King said:

Somewhere, somebody must have some sense. Men must see that force begets force, hate begets hate, toughness begets toughness. And it is all a descending spiral, ultimately ending in destruction for all and everybody. Somebody must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and the chain of evil in the universe. And you do that by love.

Such is the decentralized power of peace. It inspires all to yield the urge for power in order to open a space for others to come forward, a principle necessary for democratic dialogue.

Rage against the machine

The ’60s brought the further destruction of the democratizing force of peace and at the same time created a resurgence of peacemakers. As the country engaged in military action overseas, the opposition to US involvement in the Vietnam War quickly organized anti-war protests. Jimi Hendrix’s rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” in 1969 at Woodstock struck a chord in the hearts of many, letting people hear “the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air” over Vietnam.

As the nation began seeking for answers blowing in the wind, a massive student movement kicked off at UC Berkeley. In the launch of the free speech movement (FSM), Joan Baez, who led the first group of protesters into Sproul Hall on the UC Berkeley campus, echoed Gandhi’s principles of nonviolence. She reminded the crowd of the commitment to act with love in the heart and that students were going to be “nonviolent in thought, word, and deed”.2

The clash of two forces became visible in images of flowers placed in gun barrels. As the youth turned to the hardened America represented by armed police, for a moment a breath of peace was brought back to resuscitate this dying culture. Yet this power of peace upheld by childlike innocence alone was not enough to confront the growing beast of the military industrial complex, which with its insatiable hunger consumes all into its soulless capitalism. As Mario Savio, the spokesperson for the FSM depicted in his passionate speech in December 1964, the “operation of the machine becomes so odious.”

As the rise of corporate power rolled back most progress that consumer advocate groups had made, the rage against this machine was quietly building up. Decades later, a call for an uprising came from southern Mexico, one of the poorest parts of the world, where indigenous people were treated like animals and abandoned by Western neoliberal economic policies. On January 1, 1994, the day the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect, the people in Chiapas revolted against the Mexican government. This ignited the revolutionary power of peace on the streets of Seattle in 1999. The protest against the World Trade Organization (WTO) spawned a cycle of global social justice movements. Yet this victory was short-lived and the enthusiasm for a different world was crushed by the Bush era’s “war on terror” and a draconian crackdown of dissent, creating a chilling effect and moved society toward a more authoritarian state.

The age of cypherpunk

In the moral ice age of the post-911 world, a new front of courage emerged from the internet. In April 2010, with the release of the “Collateral Murder” video, an unknown website burst onto the global stage. When the government’s internal mechanism of checks and balance had been broken, WikiLeaks opened an avenue for a new accountability. Through this whistleblowing platform, patriotic and liberty-loving men and women found a way to restore the peace of a nation by each choosing to be at peace with their conscience.

Empowered by the vision of cypherpunks, a group that advocates social change with the use of strong cryptography, WikiLeaks engaged in nonviolent information warfare, freeing speech that is censored and oppressed. With its radical acceptance of speech in all forms, backed by innovative technology, WikiLeaks made the First Amendment available to the whole world.

From the election in Kenya and the Icelandic revolution to the Arab Spring and Occupy movements, WikiLeaks’ publications sparked contagious courage, helping open a future where ordinary people armed with knowledge began claiming the power of peace that was for so long stripped away and denied. History that was awakened through this courage is still moving.

Now in Catalonia, as Assange observed, significant events were happening that would change the “relationship between population and state in Western Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall.” As the Spanish government seized election literature, shut down websites, and threatened politicians as well as the offices of newspapers, the Catalan president gave his people instructions on how to circumvent this blockade and obstruction of free speech. Assange then noted: “When #Catalonia‘s press is Tweeting how to use proxies to avoid voting censorship we are in the age of cypherpunk.” He then provided technical support for people in Catalonia to communicate and organize securely, as they faced Spanish oppression for their right to vote for the referendum.

Currency of radical acceptance

The unchecked power of the dominant elite continues, engaging in the suppression of free speech through economic censorship. Along with control of public media and police, the Spanish government has been trying to seize control of Catalonia’s finances. Assange, who had firsthand experience of this kind of financial warfare with private companies’ illegal banking blockade of WikiLeaks, called people’s attention to the network of resistance that has been steadily growing online.

The invention of Bitcoin was the holy grail of cypherpunks. With features of permissionless, censorship resistant, and unseizable transactions, it was envisioned to become stateless currency that preserves the individual liberty of all. The white paper of this revolutionary decentralized money was published in 2008. It became operational in 2009.

The Iroquois’ law of peace codified in the wampum belt is now being coded into software. It becomes an armory that is made much more secure and immutable to any foreign or domestic attacks. Here, the First Nation’s vision of great peace that inspired its democratic confederation seems to have found its realization in the open source protocol of the consensus algorithm. Security expert and author Andreas M. Antonopoulos calls Bitcoin’s governance model “leaderless”—that which creates decentralized power. He describes how the system motivates people to come to consensus at a very high level and decisions are made by the circle of five constituents: miners, developers, wallets, merchants, and users.

As the era of cypherpunk opened up, the tyranny of the incumbent legacy system gathered up its power to define a new digital age on its own terms. Western liberal democracy, with the arms of technology and transnational corporations, has now expanded throughout the world, placing all into an elaborate web of a financial industrial complex. In this artificial machination of the world, money that has been used as a weapon to wage war and exploit can be automated, with humans no longer in charge. With mass surveillance and control, it can create a total dystopia. Here, the Great Law of Peace enshrined in a piece of mathematics can offer a shield for ordinary people to defend themselves against the sword of power that seeks to control and enslave all living beings into institutional hierarchies.

With Bitcoin, the First Amendment becomes an app that can be distributed across borders indiscriminately to anyone, including those condemned as enemies. Stewarded by developers around the world committed to the shared ideals of cypherpunk, Bitcoin makes its transactions from country to country, from belief to belief, from opinion to opinion, and traverses the way of peace. Having demonstrated its unbreakable integrity for the last eight years, the protocol of radical acceptance continues to evolve, providing an alternative to tyranny without fighting, by each engaging in the creative act of innovation.

As governments all over the world become destructive and old systems begin to crumble, new networks are being made by linking the knowledge of computer science with the wisdom of the First Nations, who have lived in harmony with nature. Now, the West and natives, two minds from the same roots that once diverged paths can come together to begin a new civilization. By each choosing freely to chart the way of peacemaking, social movements can be created. People walking side by side bring this world toward a more perfect union, founded upon a principle of equality that allows everyone to be free.

  1. Needleman, J. (2002). American soul: Rediscovering the wisdom of the founders. New York, NY: Penguin Group.
  2. Nagler, M. N. The search for a nonviolent future: A promise of peace for ourselves, our families, and our world. Maui, HI: Inner Ocean, 2004, p. 202.

On “Independence”: Catalonia, Kurdistan, North Korea and Latin America

Alessandro Biancchi:  Self-determination of peoples and respect for the borders and sovereignty of a country. This is of the most complicated issue for international law. How can it be articulated for the case of Catalonia?

Andre Vltchek: Personally, I’m not very enthusiastic about smaller nations forming their own states, particularly those in the West, where they would, after gaining ‘independence’, remain in the alliances that are oppressing and plundering the entire world: like NATO or the European Union.

Clearly, the breaking of the great country of Yugoslavia into small pieces was a hostile, evil design by the West, and particularly of Germany and Austria. The dissolution of Czechoslovakia after the so-called “Velvet Revolution” was a total idiocy.

But Catalonia (or Basque Country), if it became independent, would become one of the richest parts of Europe. I don’t think it would have any great positive or negative impact on the rest of the world. As an internationalist, I don’t really care if they are separate from Spain or not, or whether they are even richer than they already are, as I care much more about what is happening in places such as Afghanistan, Venezuela or North Korea.

On the other hand, the way Spain has now behaved in Catalonia, after the referendum, is a total disgrace. They decided to treat the Catalan people in the same way as Indonesians have been treating Papuans for decades. If this continues, it will all reach the point of no return: reconciliation will become impossible. You cannot start sexually harassing women and then break their fingers, one by one, just because they want to have their own state. You cannot injure hundreds of innocent people, who simply don’t want to be governed from Madrid. That’s absurd and thoroughly sick! Of course, Spain used to commit holocausts all over what is now called Latin America, so it is ‘in their blood’. But I don’t think Catalans will allow this to be done to them.

What about the constitution of Spain? Look, there should be nothing sacred about constitutions. In the West, they were written to protect the interests of the ruling classes. When they get outdated, they should be moderated, or totally rewritten. If Catalans or Basques want their independence, if they really want it, if it is so important for them, then why not – they should have it. Spain is not a ‘people’s country’. It is an oppressive Western bully. I would have a totally different position if some part of Bolivia or China were to try to secede.

AB: Different situation and different reality. Another issue of fundamental international concern in this period is the referendum of Iraqi Kurdistan, which is likely to become the new fuse ready to explode in that area. Would it be the new Israel in the Middle East as someone has affirmed?

AV: Well, that is really a very serious issue. I have worked in the Kurdish autonomous region of Iraq already twice, even on the ‘border’ with Mosul, and what I saw there I did not like at all!

It is clearly a ‘client’ state of the West, of Turkey and to some extent, Israel. It is shamelessly capitalist, taking land from its own people, cheating them, just in order to pump and refine huge quantities of oil. It treats Syrian refugees like animals, forcing them to make anti-Assad statements. It is turning ancient Erbil into some bizarre shopping mall with nothing public in sight. Its military top brass is mainly US/UK-trained and indoctrinated. And it provokes Baghdad, day and night.

I really strongly disliked what I saw there. If Iraqi Kurds were allowed to have their ‘independence’, the impact on the region would be huge and certainly negative. Baghdad should not allow it, even at the cost of an armed confrontation.

AB: Coming to the question of the moment: the nuclear escalation in North Korea and a possible escalation of war on the Korean peninsula. What is your opinion about Kim’s strategy and what are the real risks?

AV: There is only one real ‘risk’ and danger: that the world is quickly accepting as inevitable the fact that the Western thuggish regimes can get away with absolutely anything. I see no other serious problem that the world today is facing.

What is Kim’s strategy? To defend his people by all means, against the brutal force that has already murdered millions of men, women and children of Korea. That brutal force is the West and its allies. It is all very simple, but only if one is willing to turn off the BBC and to use his or her own brain, it becomes ‘obvious’.

AB: According to many, for Pyongyang the nuclear bomb is becoming more and more vital because it is increasingly feared that the country will end up like Iraq and Libya. Do you not believe that the sanctions of the United Nations are therefore totally ineffective and counterproductive because they fuel this escalation?

AV: Of course, but they [sanctions] are still imposed on the victim! It is because almost no one dares to laugh straight in the faces of Western demagogues and dictators. The world resembles the areas occupied by the Nazi Germany and Italy and Japan during the WWII. There, nobody would dare to vote independently, defending victims of fascism.

AB: The US Federation of Science (FAS) estimates that in 2017 North Korea has “fissile material to potentially produce 10 to 20 nuclear warheads” even if it is strongly suspected that none can be considered ready for launch. The US possesses 6,800 nuclear heads. The French and British (respectively 300 and 215 respectively) included, NATO’s nuclear forces have 7,315 nuclear warheads, of which 2,200 are ready to launch, compared to 7,000 held by the Russians, of which 1,950 are ready to launch. With Chinese (270), Pakistani (120-130), Indian (110-120) and Israeli (80), the total number of nuclear warheads is estimated to be around 15,000 by default. The West is a nuclear oligopoly that can only create an escalation with those who feel threatened, and so the threatened search to procure them. Is North Korea the only source of nuclear threat to the world, as it seems in the mainstream media?

AV: Of course, North Korea is no threat at all. I have already spoken about it during countless televised interviews. I visited North Korea and mingled with its people. There, nobody wants war. The North Korean people paid a terrible price for their independence. Its civilians were murdered mercilessly in tunnels by Western forces; its women were brutally raped, entire villages and towns leveled to the ground, or burned to ashes. All this is never discussed in the West, but is remembered in North Korea.

Now, absolutely shameless British propaganda is ‘preparing’ the world public for the ‘inevitability’ of the war. You know, if someone in this day and age still believes that the United States is the only culprit, he or she is perhaps living in some deep isolated trench or a cave. Indoctrination and brainwashing is mainly designed, ‘Made in Europe’, most evidently in the UK, where most of the people have already lost all their ability to think rationally. The British colonialist propaganda apparatus is terribly sinister, but strategically it is simply brilliant! It was utilized for centuries, and it even succeeded in ‘programming’ the brains of the victims in the sub-Continent, Africa and elsewhere.

Of course, your numbers are correct and all that is happening is thoroughly absurd! But day and night people are told that North Korea represents a true danger to the world. The same was said about the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, Iraq, Afghanistan and many other countries. Most of these countries have already been destroyed.

North Korea’s sin is that it refuses to surrender, to fall on its knees, to sacrifice its people. It refuses to become a slave. For centuries, European and later US colonialism punished such defiance in the most brutal ways. Western culture is, after all, based and built on slavery. It demands absolute compliance, unconditional submission.

If North Korea is attacked, it should fight back! And it will.

AB: The United Nations adopted the important Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in July. The United Nations is often used (in alternate ways and countries): this Treaty is ignored by all nuclear powers, including by members of NATO with US nuclear weapons (including Italy). NATO has banned member states from ratifying it. Can the West have a moralist attitude to those who pursue a deterrent in order not to not end up like Saddam and Gaddafi?

AV: The West is like an army of brigands that has managed to overrun some city, to rape everything that moves, burn the center, loot houses and shops and then execute all leading thinkers and defenders. A few days later they see someone stealing a bunch of bananas from a fruit stall. And they catch him, and judge him, and feel totally morally righteous. It is all so comical! But that is not how you are supposed to see it!

AB: Russia and China (with Iran, Venezuela and many other countries) are intensifying de-dollarization in their mutual exchanges. Does it envisage a gradual weakening of the dollar capable of affecting international finance and what geopolitical repercussions?

AV: Yes, definitely! And you should talk about it to my friend, Peter Koenig, a true dissident, a former economist at the World Bank, who is now actually advising many countries on de-dollarization.

US dollars should not be used anymore. Western institutions should be ignored. Totally new structures should be, and are being erected. China and Russia are, of course, in the lead. All this is extremely important and can change the world, in the near future.

AB: Venezuela, with the convening of the Constituent Assembly, turned off the coup attempts of the opposition. In Brazil Lula is favored in polls, while in Argentina the former President Cristina Fernandez is back in the Senate with strong popular support. So it was not the end of the progressive cycle, as the mainstream has for years stated?

AV: Of course, it was not the end! The desire of Latin Americans to live in just and egalitarian societies is too strong; it cannot be destroyed overnight.

There were some serious setbacks – in Argentina and Brazil. And Venezuela is suffering immensely, battered by its own shameless elites sponsored from abroad. But the country is still standing.

In Brazil, Temer is immensely unpopular. His ‘constitutional coup’ will soon backfire. PT will be back, in its old form or in a new one. And it will be much stronger than before. The same goes for Argentina. You see, despite all the media manipulation, propaganda and shameless lies, people are already realizing that they were fooled. They want some decency back, they want socialism and pride and hope! They want true independence.

In two weeks from now I’m going back to South America. My book of essays is being published by LOM, soon, and LOM is a very important left-wing publishing house in Chile. These days I go back to South America often. It is one of the frontlines, battlegrounds, where people struggle against Western imperialism and its lackeys!

These are very important, fascinating times! I have just published my latest book, about The Great October Socialist Revolution of 1917, in Russia. Its legacy is now relevant, more than ever before in history. It gave birth to internationalism, and internationalism is the only movement, which can still save the world, and which can defeat Western nihilism and its barefaced, cynical pillage of the planet!