Joint Statement by the Foreign Ministers of the Small Group on Syria

The Foreign Ministers of Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America strongly support the work of the UN Secretary-General and UN Special Envoy Geir Pedersen to implement UN Security Council Resolution 2254. In recent weeks, the UN has opened a door to progress in the political process with the launching of the Constitutional Committee, which could be a first step towards a political solution. After more than eight years (...)

Bolivia’s New Puppet Regime Wastes No Time Aligning With US Foreign Policy

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The Washington-recognized interim government which just ascended to power via US-backed military coup in Bolivia is already shifting the nation’s foreign policy into alignment with the US-centralized empire, severing important ties with two governments which have resisted absorption into the imperial blob.

“Bolivia’s caretaker government isn’t wasting any time overhauling its foreign policy, announcing Friday that it will expel hundreds of Cuban officials and break ties with longtime ally Venezuela,” The Miami Herald reports. “In a series of statements, Bolivia’s new foreign minister, Karen Longaric, told local media that about 725 Cubans — including doctors and medical staff — would begin leaving Bolivia on Friday.”

“In that same interview she also said she’d be recalling Bolivia’s diplomatic staff from Venezuela,” Miami Herald adds. “Later, asked if she would maintain ties with Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro, she said, ‘Of course we’ll break diplomatic relations with the Maduro government.’”

Of course they will.
This news comes as no surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention. US foreign policy is essentially an endless war on disobedience, in which governments that refuse to bow to US interests are toppled by any means necessary and replaced by governments who will.

International affairs are much easier to understand once you stop thinking in terms of separate, sovereign nations and start thinking in terms of alliances and empire. What we are witnessing can best be described as a slow-motion third world war between what amounts to an unofficial globe-spanning empire centralized around the United States and its military on one side, and all the nations which have refused to be absorbed into this empire on the other. Nations which allow themselves to be absorbed are rewarded with the carrot of military and economic alliance with the empire, and nations which refuse are punished with the stick of invasions, sanctions, trade wars, and coups, with the ultimate goal being total unipolar global domination. The bigger the imperial blob grows, the stronger and more effective it becomes in undermining the interests of unabsorbed nations like Venezuela and Cuba.

Nothing takes precedence over this agenda of unipolar hegemony. As long as a nation remains loyal to the empire, it can fund terroristsbutcher Washington Post columnists, and create the worst humanitarian crisis in the world without fear of any retribution of any kind from the US-centralized empire. As a leaked State Department memo explained in 2017, so far as the empire is concerned human rights violations are nothing more than a strategic narrative control weapon with which to attack unabsorbed nations, and to be ignored when they are perpetrated by absorbed nations.

It should therefore also surprise no one that this same Washington-recognized government installed via US-backed military coup is now murdering demonstrators who object to it.
As of this writing there have been five protesters confirmed to have been killed by gunfire in Cochabamba, where security forces are cracking down on demonstrations with extreme aggression against majority-Indigenous demonstrations in support of the ousted president Evo Morales.

The narrative managers at The New York Times are reporting on the events in Cochabamba with the obnoxious insinuation that it may actually be Morales and Bolivia’s Indigenous population who are to blame for current tensions. Here are a couple of excerpts from NYT’s latest contribution to the narrative matrix titled “Ethnic Rifts in Bolivia Burst Into View With Fall of Evo Morales” (emphases mine):
Mr. Morales’s nearly 14 years in power represented a breakthrough for the three-quarters of Bolivians who are either of Indigenous descent or identify as members of Indigenous groups. But he also reinforced his base of support with explicit appeals to racial identity that many Bolivians found threatening and polarizing.


'Racism exists in Bolivia; it existed before Evo, and it will never disappear,' said Michelle Kieffer, an insurance broker, as she sipped a cappuccino in an upper-middle-class neighborhood of the country’s administrative capital, La Paz.

'While Evo started an important discussion,' she added, 'he also manipulated the race issue, and that has caused disunity. And now people of different races look at each other with suspicion.'
Right. Gotcha. Maybe it’s the impoverished brown-skinned people who are in fact the real fascists, and not the literal Christian fascist coupmongers whose US-backed government takeover they are protesting. Thanks, NYT.
Morales won re-election by over ten percentage points last month, and his previously-elected term wasn’t scheduled to end until January. He was commanded to resign during a current term by the military despite fully acquiescing to demands for a new internationally supervised election. Now it’s being reported that the popular leftist party to which he belonged, MAS, may be banned by the Jeanine Añez-led interim government from participating in the next elections.

Despite all this the western mass media are continuing their cartoonishly ridiculous pattern of resisting the use of the word ‘coup’ when reporting on Bolivia, except to admonish people for using that word as in the case of recent narrative management pieces by The Washington PostThe Washington Examiner, and The Economist.

“Supporters of the coup in Bolivia can’t call it a coup,” US politician Lee Carter recently noted. “The US has a law preventing us from sending foreign aid to a new government if it was installed by a coup. So they come up with absurd claims that the military forcing Evo out somehow isn’t a coup.”

And the western mass media are falling right in line with the government forces in refusing to use this word, despite the ousting of a government by the military being exactly the thing that a coup is. This is because in a plutocracy, plutocrat-owned media is functionally the same as state media. Reporters for plutocratic media know what they are and are not permitted to say without being told, so they advance narratives which favor the status quo upon which their plutocrat employers have built their respective kingdoms. This is the status quo of the US-centralized empire, which just absorbed Bolivia and pivoted its foreign policy against the unabsorbed governments of Venezuela and Cuba.

Reprinted with permission from Medium.com.
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Why aren’t Americans Rising up Like the People of Chile and Lebanon?

The waves of protests breaking out in country after country around the world beg the question: Why aren’t Americans rising up in peaceful protest like our neighbors? We live at the very heart of this neoliberal system that is force-feeding the systemic injustice and inequality of 19th century laissez-faire capitalism to the people of the 21st century. So we are subject to many of the same abuses that have fueled mass protest movements in other countries, including high rents, stagnant wages, cradle-to-grave debt, ever-rising economic inequality, privatized healthcare, a shredded social safety net, abysmal public transportation, systemic political corruption and endless war.

We also have a corrupt, racist billionaire as president, who Congress may soon impeach, but where are the masses outside the White House, banging pots and pans to drive Trump out? Why aren’t people crashing the offices of their congresspeople, demanding that they represent the people or resign? If none of these conditions has so far provoked a new American revolution, what will it take to trigger one?

In the 1960s and 1970s, the senseless Vietnam War provoked a serious, well-organized antiwar movement. But today the U.S.’s endless wars just rage on in the background of our lives, as the U.S. and its allies kill and mutilate men, women and children in distant countries, day after day, year after year. Our history has also witnessed inspiring mass movements for civil rights, women’s rights and gay rights, but these movements are much tamer today.

The Occupy Movement in 2011 came closest to challenging the entire neoliberal system. It awakened a new generation to the reality of government of, by, and for the corrupt 1%, and built a powerful basis for solidarity among the marginalized 99%. But Occupy lost momentum because it failed to transition from a rallying point and a decentralized, democratic forum to a cohesive movement that could impact the existing power structure.

The climate movement is starting to mobilize a new generation, and groups like School Strike for the Climate and Extinction Rebellion take direct aim at this destructive economic system that prioritizes corporate growth and profits over the very survival of life on Earth. But while climate protests have shut down parts of London and other cities around the world, the scale of climate protests in the U.S. does not yet match the urgency of the crisis.

So why is the American public so passive?

Americans pour their energy and hopes into electoral campaigns. Election campaigns in most countries last only a few months, with strict limits on financing and advertising to try to ensure fair elections. But Americans pour millions of hours and billions of dollars into multi-year election campaigns run by an ever-growing sector of the commercial advertising industry, which even awarded Barack Obama its “Marketer of the Year” award for 2008. (The other finalists were not John McCain or the Republicans but Apple, Nike and Coors beer.)

When U.S. elections are finally over, thousands of exhausted volunteers sweep up the bunting and go home, believing their work is done. While electoral politics should be a vehicle for change, this neoliberal model of corporate “center-right” and “center-left” politics ensures that congresspeople and presidents of both parties are primarily accountable to the ruling 1% who “pay to play.”

Former President Jimmy Carter has bluntly described what Americans euphemistically call “campaign finance” as a system of legalized bribery. Transparency International (TI) ranks the U.S. 22nd on its political corruption index, identifying it as more corrupt than any other wealthy, developed country.

Without a mass movement continually pushing and prodding for real change and holding politicians accountable – for their policies as well as their words – our neoliberal rulers assume that they can safely ignore the concerns and interests of ordinary people as they make the critical decisions that shape the world we live in. As Frederick Douglass observed in 1857, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and it never will.”

Millions of Americans have internalized the myth of  the “American dream,” believing they have exceptional chances for social and economic mobility compared with their peers in other countries. If they aren’t successful, it must be their own fault – either they’re not smart enough or they don’t work hard enough.

The American Dream is not just elusive – it’s a complete fantasy. In reality, the U.S. has the greatest income inequality of any wealthy, developed country. Of the 39 developed countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), only South Africa and Costa Rica exceed the U.S.’s 18% poverty rate. The United States is an anomaly: a very wealthy country suffering from exceptional poverty. To make matters worse, children born into poor families in the U.S. are more likely to remain poor as adults than poor children in other wealthy countries. But the American dream ideology keeps people struggling and competing to improve their lives on a strictly individual basis, instead of demanding a fairer society and the healthcare, education and public services we all need and deserve.

The corporate media keeps Americans uninformed and docile. The U.S.’s corporate media system is also unique, both in its consolidated corporate ownership and in its limited news coverage, endlessly downsized newsrooms and narrow range of viewpoints. Its economics reporting reflects the interests of its corporate owners and advertisers; its domestic reporting and debate is strictly framed and limited by the prevailing rhetoric of Democratic and Republican leaders; its anemic foreign policy coverage is editorially dictated by the State Department and Pentagon.

This closed media system wraps the public in a cocoon of myths, euphemisms and propaganda to leave us exceptionally ignorant about our own country and the world we live in. Reporters Without Borders ranks the U.S. 48th out of 180 countries on its Press Freedom Index, once again making the U.S. an exceptional outlier among wealthy countries.

It’s true people can search for their own truth on social media to counter the corporate babble, but social media is itself a distraction. People spend countless hours on facebook, twitter, instagram and other platforms venting their anger and frustration without getting up off the couch to actually do something—except perhaps sign a petition. “Clicktivism” will not change the world.

Add to this the endless distractions of Hollywood, video games, sports and consumerism, and the exhaustion that comes with working several jobs to make ends meet. The resulting political passivity of Americans is not some strange accident of American culture but the intended product of a mutually reinforcing web of economic, political and media systems that keep the American public confused, distracted and convinced of our own powerlessness.

The political docility of the American public does not mean that Americans are happy with the way things are, and the unique challenges this induced docility poses for American political activists and organizers surely cannot be more daunting than the life-threatening repression faced by activists in Chile, Haiti or Iraq.

So how can we liberate ourselves from our assigned roles as passive spectators and mindless cheerleaders for a venal ruling class that is laughing all the way to the bank and through the halls of power as it grabs ever more concentrated wealth and power at our expense?

Few expected a year ago that 2019 would be a year of global uprising against the neoliberal economic and political system that has dominated the world for forty years. Few predicted new revolutions in Chile or Iraq or Algeria. But popular uprisings have a way of confounding conventional wisdom.

The catalysts for each of these uprisings have also been surprising. The protests in Chile began over an increase in subway fares. In Lebanon, the spark was a proposed tax on WhatsApp and other social media accounts. Hikes in fuel tax triggered the yellow vest protests in France, while the ending of fuel subsidies was a catalyst in both Ecuador and Sudan.

The common factor in all these movements is the outrage of ordinary people at systems and laws that reward corruption, oligarchy and plutocracy at the expense of their own quality of life. In each country, these catalysts were the final straws that broke the camel’s back, but once people were in the street, protests quickly turned into more general uprisings demanding the resignation of leaders and governments.

They have the guns but we have the numbers. State repression and violence have only fueled greater popular demands for more fundamental change, and millions of protesters in country after country have remained committed to non-violence and peaceful protest – in stark contrast to the rampant violence of the right-wing coup in Bolivia

While these uprisings seem spontaneous, in every country where ordinary people have risen up in 2019, activists have been working for years to build the movements that eventually brought large numbers of people onto the streets and into the headlines.

Erica Chenoweth’s research on the history of nonviolent protest movements found that whenever at least 3.5% of a population have taken to the streets to demand political change, governments have been unable to resist their demands. Here in the U.S., Transparency International found that the number of Americans who see “direct action,” including street protests, as the antidote to our corrupt political system has risen from 17% to 25% since Trump took office, far more than Chenoweth’s 3.5%. Only 28% still see simply “voting for a clean candidate” as the answer. So maybe we are just waiting for the right catalyst to strike a chord with the American public.

In fact, the work of progressive activists in the U.S. is already upsetting the neoliberal status quo. Without the movement-building work of thousands of Americans, Bernie Sanders would still be a little-known Senator from Vermont, largely ignored by the corporate media and the Democratic Party. Sanders’ wildly successful first presidential campaign in 2016 pushed a new generation of American politicians to commit to real policy solutions to real problems, instead of the vague promises and applause lines that serve as smokescreens for the corrupt agendas of neoliberal politicians like Trump and Biden.

We can’t predict exactly what catalyst will trigger a mass movement in the U.S. like the ones we are seeing overseas, but with more and more Americans, especially young people, demanding an alternative to a system that doesn’t serve their needs, the tinder for a revolutionary movement is everywhere. We just have to keep kicking up sparks until one catches fire.

Poetry and Political Struggle: The Dialectics of Rhyme

Fist with pen illustration by CHema Skandal!

When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.

— John F. Kennedy, Remarks at Amherst College on the Arts, October 26, 1963

Introduction

Poetry is often associated with genteel people and laid-back lifestyles, yet over the decades since the Enlightenment many poets have been actively involved in the most radical of political and art movements. Setting up a solid foundation for such attitudes was the poet extraordinaire, Alexander Pope. In this essay I shall look at the connection between poetry and socio-political struggles over the centuries. From Pope to the Chartists, and from the Irish revolutionary poets to the postcolonial writers of Africa, poetry has played an important part in social change. The recent explosion of global demonstrations and rallies has also been connected with radical poetry as will be seen in Chile, for example.

The New Augustans v Medievalism – ‘shall not Britain now reward his toils?’

Imagine being one of the generation of poets to follow Shakespeare. The Enlightenment poets response to Shakespeare was that they believed that Shakespeare was good but not perfect and so looked back to Roman times, to that of Augustus for a more political and satirical model for their poetry. Alexander Pope (1688–1744) was highly influenced by the poet Horace (65 BC–8 BC) whose work was created during a momentous time when Rome changed from a republic to an empire. Pope’s poem Epistle to Augustus (addressed to George II of Great Britain) initiated The New Augustans, as they were known, and they created new and bold political work in all genres as well as sharp and critical satires of contemporary events and people. Pope’s best known works The Rape of the Lock, The Dunciad, and An Essay on Criticism made him famous in his own time for their biting criticism and wit. Equally satirical but with more emphasis on prose than poetry was his contemporary, Jonathan Swift (1667–1745), the Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, pamphleteer, poet and cleric whose A Tale of a Tub (1704), An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity (1712), Gulliver’s Travels (1726), and A Modest Proposal (1729) led to the creation of the term ‘Swiftian’ for such sharp satire.

The Augustan era was also known by other names such as the age of neoclassicism and the Age of Reason. It was a time of increased availability of books and a dramatic decrease in their cost. This in turn meant that education was less confined to the upper classes and that writers could hope to make more money through the sale of their works and therefore be less dependent on patrons.

The greatest patron of the arts throughout the Middle Ages was the Church. Patronage was also used by nobles, rulers, and very wealthy people to endorse their political ambitions, social positions, and prestige. Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, William Shakespeare, and Ben Jonson all looked for and received the support of noble or ecclesiastical patrons.

Alexander Pope, painting attributed to English painter Jonathan Richardson, c.?1736, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The sales from Pope’s works allowed him to live a life less determined by other people’s wealth, and this independence is reflected in his lines from Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot:

Oh let me live my own! and die so too!
(‘To live and die is all I have to do:’)
Maintain a poet’s dignity and ease,
And see what friends, and read what books, I please.

While Pope read a lot of philosophy, his concerns were mainly poetic. As David Cody writes:

Like many of his contemporaries, Pope believed in the existence of a God who had created, and who presided over, a physical Universe which functioned like a vast clockwork mechanism. Important scientific discoveries by men like Sir Isaac Newton, who explained, in his Principia, the nature of the laws of gravitation which helped to govern that universe, were seen as corroborating that view. “Nature, and Nature’s Laws lay hid in Night,” Pope wrote, in a famous couplet intended as Newton’s epitaph, but “God said, Let Newton be ! and All was Light.” This view of the universe as an ordered, structured place was an aspect of the Neoclassical emphasis on order and structure which also manifested itself in the arts, including poetry.

Pope was famous for his biting criticism which spoofed the mores of society or mocked his literary rivals. His critical political savvy was also on show in lines like:

T is George and Liberty that crowns the cup,
And zeal for that great House which eats him up.
The woods recede around the naked seat,
The sylvans groan—no matter—for the fleet;
Next goes his wool—to clothe our valiant bands;
Last, for his country’s love, he sells his lands.
To town he comes, completes the nation’s hope,
And heads the bold train-bands, and burns a pope.
And shall not Britain now reward his toils,
Britain, that pays her patriots with her spoils?
In vain at court the bankrupt pleads his cause;
His thankless country leaves him to her laws.

Pope’s poetry reflected the Enlightenment popularisation of science through scientific and literary journals, the development of the book industry, the promulgation of encyclopedias and dictionaries, and new ideas spread like wildfire through learned academies, universities, salons and coffeehouses. The Enlightenment period can be dated from the beginning of the reign of Louis XV (1715 ) until the turn of the 19th century but was soon followed by the Romantic period from about 1800 to 1860.

Chartism v Romanticism – ‘How comes it that ye toil and sweat?’

The Romantics preferred intuition and emotion to the rationalism of the Enlightenment and placed a high value on the achievements of “heroic” individualists and artists. They turned inwards, seeing art as an individual experience and emphasising such emotions as apprehension, horror and terror, and awe. Romanticism looked backwards to folk art, ancient customs and medievalism. As the bourgeoisie achieved their main aims of wresting control of land and power from the aristocracy, the responsibility for continuing the struggle for the principles of ‘liberté, égalité, fraternité’ fell upon the organisations of the working classes.

In England, Chartism was a major working class movement called after the People’s Charter of 1838 and was a movement for political reform in Britain until 1857. The movement’s strategies were constitutional and they used petitions and mass meetings to put pressure on politicians to concede manhood suffrage. The Charter demanded: a vote for every man twenty-one years of age, secret ballots, payment of Members (so working people could attend without loss of income), equal constituencies, and annual Parliamentary elections. The Chartist movement was a reaction to the passing of the Reform Act 1832, which failed to extend the vote beyond those owning property. The political leaders of the working class felt that the middle class had betrayed them.

In conjunction with Chartist demonstrations and strikes, the Chartist press as the voice of radicalism existed in the form of The Poor Man’s Guardian in the 1830s and was succeeded by the Northern Star and Leeds General Advertiser between 1837 and 1852. The press covered news, editorials, and reports on international developments while becoming the best-selling provincial newspaper in Britain with a circulation of 50,000 copies. It also became an organ for the publication of working class poets and poems.

Front page of The Northern Star and Leeds General Advertiser, 1837

With such a wide circulation, it was no wonder that so many sent their poems in for consideration. According to Mike Sanders:

The Northern Star’s poetry column was not an attempt to impose ‘culture’ from above, rather it was a response to a popular demand that poetry could and should speak to working-class desires and needs. From the start, literally hundreds of Chartists sent in their poems and quite a few appear to have pestered the editor with enquiries as to when their work would appear.

It is believed that up to 1,000 poems by up to 400 Chartist and working-class poets were published in the Northern Star between 1838 and 1852. Michael Sanders notes that:

Most have names, but a high percentage are published either under initials, under a pseudonym or anonymously, presumably by writers who would fear reprisals, such as dismissal or blacklisting, if they were known to be writing for the Northern Star. By and large, we know nothing of these people. They are permanently lost to history. But these poems show us that poetry was once central to the way working-class communities expressed themselves both politically and otherwise.

Ordinary people used poetry as a way of demonstrating their humanity in the face of grinding poverty and dehumanising industrial capitalism. By composing poetry they showed they could produce ‘beauty’ as well as surplus value.

An example of an anonymous poet’s endeavour is AW’s poem To The Sons Of Toil published in 1841:

How comes it that ye toil and sweat
And bear the oppressor’s rod
For cruel man who dare to change
The equal laws of God?
How come that man with tyrant heart
Is caused to rule another,
To rob, oppress and, leech-like, suck
The life’s blood of a brother?

We still don’t know anything about AW but he or she is an example of many men and women who turned to poetry to express their desires for social justice. However, several important poets did arise out of the Chartist movement such as Ernest Charles Jones (1819–1869) novelist and Chartist. In 1845, Jones ‘joined the Chartist agitation, quickly becoming its most prominent figure, and vigorously carrying on the party’s campaign on the platform and in the press. His speeches, in which he openly advocated physical force, led to his prosecution, and he was sentenced in 1848 to two years’ imprisonment for seditious speeches. While in prison he wrote, it is said in his own blood on leaves torn from a prayer-book, The Revolt of Hindostan, an epic poem.’; Thomas Cooper (1805–1892) poet, leading Chartist and known for his prison rhyme the Purgatory of Suicides (1845); Gerald Massey (1828–1907) was an English poet and only twenty-two when he published his first volume of poems, Voices of Freedom and Lyrics of Love (1850); George Binns (1815–1847) was a New Zealand Chartist leader and poet.

Photo of Ernest Charles Jones (1819–1869)

There was Ebenezer Elliott (1781–1849) who was an English poet, known as the Corn Law rhymer for his leading the fight to repeal the Corn Laws which were causing hardship and starvation among the poor. Though a factory owner himself, his single-minded devotion to the welfare of the labouring classes won him a sympathetic reputation long after his poetry ceased to be read; and John Bedford Leno (1826–1894) was a Chartist, radical, poet, and printer who acted as a “bridge” between Chartism and early Labour movements, he was called the “Burns of Labour” and “the poet of the poor” for his political songs and poems, which were sold widely in penny publications, and recited and sung by workers in Britain, Europe and America.

The Poets’ Revolution v Modernism – ‘Viewing human conflict from a social perspective’

The connection between the radical poets and the working class continued into the twentieth century even as Romanticist modernism took hold. Modernism rejected the ideology of realism, while promoting a break with the immediate past, technical innovation, and a philosophy of ‘making it new’. As such:

Modernist poetry in English is generally considered to have emerged in the early years of the 20th century with the appearance of the Imagist poets. In common with many other modernists, these poets were writing in reaction to what they saw as the excesses of Victorian poetry, with its emphasis on traditional formalism and overly flowery poetic diction. […] Additionally, Modernist poetry disavowed the traditional aesthetic claims of Romantic poetry’s later phase and no longer sought “beauty” as the highest achievement of verse. With this abandonment of the sublime came a turn away from pastoral poetry and an attempt to focus poetry on urban, mechanical, and industrial settings.

Despite the modern context and simpler language, Modernist poets moved further away from Realism as they developed literary techniques such as stream-of-consciousness, interior monologue, as well as the use of multiple points-of-view, undermining what is meant by realism. Thereby moving further away from the kind of narrative and descriptions of external reality that seekers of political change and social justice use as an art form to create and propagate awareness of their social conditions.

The Chartist tradition of radical politics associated with radical content in poetry was continued in Ireland whose revolutionary radicals perceived in the First World War an opportunity encapsulated in the slogan, “England’s difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity”. The culmination of nationalist and radical politics of the previous centuries was demonstrated in the Easter Rising of 1916. Indeed it is often described as the The Poets’ Revolution as three of the men who signed the Proclamation in 1916, Pearse, MacDonagh, and Plunkett, were published poets, while many other participants were also writers of plays, songs and ballads. The leader of the Irish Citizens Army, James Connolly wrote:

Our masters all a godly crew,
Whose hearts throb for the poor,
Their sympathies assure us, too,
If our demands were fewer.
Most generous souls! But please observe,
What they enjoy from birth
Is all we ever had the nerve
To ask, that is, the earth.

The leaders of the Irish revolution were generally a young, artistic group of revolutionaries and their executions by the British colonists sent shock waves throughout Ireland leading to the War of Independence (1919-1921) and the Civil War (1922–1923).

Photo of James Connolly, c. 1900

Later in the 1920s and 1930s a more politically conscious working class poetry developed. In the United States the combination of influences from the Soviet Union and the Great Depression led to the growth of many new leftist political and social discourses. Milton Cohen summarised the aesthetic, stylistic, and political concerns being debated at the time. He noted that poets were expected to:

(1) View human conflict from a social perspective (as opposed to personal, psychological, or universal) and see society in terms of economic classes.
(2) Portray these classes in conflict (as Marx described them): workers versus bosses, sharecroppers versus landowners, tenants versus landlords, have-nots versus haves.
(3) Develop a “working-class consciousness,” that is, identify with the oppressed class in these conflicts, rather than maintaining objective detachment.
(4) Present a hopeful outcome to encourage working-class readers. Other outcomes are defeatist, pessimistic, or “confused.”
(5) Write simply and straightforwardly, without the aesthetic complexities of formalism.
(6) Above all, politicize the reader. Revolutionary literature is a weapon in the class struggle and should consciously incite its readers if not to direct action then to a new attitude toward life, ‘to recognize his role in the class struggle.’

These ‘proscriptions’ ran straight in the face of every tenet of Modernist poetry which emphasised the personal imagination, culture, emotions, and memories of the poet. Major poets of the radical movement in the United States include Langston Hughes (1902–1967), Kenneth Fearing (1902–1961), Edwin Rolfe (1925-1954), Horace Gregory (1898–1982), and Mike Gold (1894–1967).

Post colonial poetry v postmodernism – ‘The bitter taste of liberty’

As the United States suffered under the heightened political repression of McCarthyism in the 1950s the mantle of radical culture moved to the countries who wrestled themselves out of British colonial stranglehold in the form of postcolonial literature. The English language was imposed in many colonised countries yet came to be the language of radical anti-colonial poets during the liberation struggles and afterwards in the independence era. African poets, for example, were able to use poetry to communicate to the world not only their “despairs and hopes, the enthusiasm and empathy, the thrill of joy and the stab of pain … but also a nation’s history as it moved from ‘freedom to slavery, from slavery to revolution, from revolution to independence and from independence to tasks of reconstruction which further involve situations of failure and disillusion’.”

David Diop’s poem Africa weighs up past and present political complexities:

Africa, my Africa
Africa of proud warriors in ancestral savannahs ….
Is this you, this back that is bent
This back that breaks under the weight of humiliation
This back trembling with red scars
And saying yes to the whip under the midday sun…..
That is Africa your Africa
That grows again patiently obstinately
And its fruit gradually acquires
The bitter taste of liberty.

The development of the postcolonial in the South paralleled the development of the postmodern in the West. However, the philosophical bases of postmodernism would not sit easily with the practical contingencies of newly achieved nationhood. Postmodernism rejected the grand narratives and ideologies of modernism, and like modernism, called into question Enlightenment rationality itself. The tendencies of postmodernism towards self-referentiality, epistemological and moral relativism, pluralism, and irreverence would make it an uncomfortable bedfellow with the socialist and revolutionary nationalist exigencies of the newly decolonised. As the Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o notes:

Literature does not grow or develop in a vacuum; it is given impetus, shape, direction and even area of concern by the social, political and economic forces in a particular society. The relationship between creative literature and other forces cannot be ignored especially in Africa, where modern literature has grown against the gory background of European imperialism and its changing manifestations: slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism. Our culture over the last hundred years has developed against the same stunting, dwarfing background.

In a way the radical political changes wrought by anti-colonial struggles kept the culture tied down and anchored to the values and aspirations of the masses. Postcolonial ideology was relevant to society in a way that postmodernism was not. It could be argued that postmodernism actively sought to remove itself from political relevance by decrying grand narratives and elevating relativism.

Radical poetry today? – ‘only injustice and no resistance?’

Until relatively recently it seemed that the sentiments of Bertolt Brecht’s (1898-1956) poem To Posterity had become almost universally true in the 21st century:

For we went, changing our country more often than our shoes.
In the class war, despairing
When there was only injustice and no resistance.

However, there has been a sea change in attitude with people demonstrating on the streets in many cities globally in only one year: the Yellow Vests in France (October/November, 2018), Sudanese Revolution (19 December, 2018), Haiti Mass Protests (7 February, 2018), Algeria: Revolution of Smiles (6 February, 2019),  Gaza economic protests (since Mar, 2019), Iraq: Tishreen Revolution (1 October, 2019), Puerto Rico: Telegramgate (8 July 2019), Ecuador Protests (3 October, 2019), Bolivian protests (since Oct, 2019), Chile Protests (14 October, 2019), Lebanon Protests (7-18 October, 2019).

Protests in Plaza Baquedano, downtown Santiago

The eruption of protest and violence in Chile started with students demonstrating against the proposal to raise the subway fares. This was unexpected as Sofía del Valle noted:

Economists have long called Chile’s economy “the miracle” of Latin America, where GDP per capita has noticeably grown from $2,500 in 1990 to $15,346 in 2017. However, these numbers hide a fundamental problem: they do not account for inequality. Chile’s late poet Nicanor Parra said it best: “There are two pieces of bread. You eat two. I eat none. Average consumption: one bread per person.

She also states that the people themselves are starting to participate in political activity with the “proliferation of “cabildos ciudadanos,” or self-organized participatory meetings of citizens that have gathered to discuss problems and solutions for the country we dream to be.”

This has led to the connection between the masses and poetry, similar to Chartist times, being restored to Chile. According to Vera Polycarpou, the people on the streets are “singing the songs of Victor Jara, listening to symphonic music in the squares, making street theatre and reciting the poems of Pablo Neruda, declaring that it will not tolerate military rule, repression and injustice again.”

Pablo Neruda (1904–1973) was a Nobel Prize winning Chilean poet-diplomat who wrote in a variety of styles, including surrealist poems, historical epics, overtly political manifestos, a prose autobiography, and passionate love poems from a very young age. Neruda was living in Madrid at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War (1936 to 1939) and with some friends had formed the Alliance of Anti-Fascist Intellectuals bringing popular theater to the people, plays from Cervantes to Lorca. The assassination of the Spanish poet Federico García Lorca (1898–1936), a friend of his, a month into the war had a profound affect on Neruda. According to Mark Eisner:

Beyond the horror of a friend’s assassination, Lorca’s death represented something more: Lorca was the embodiment of poetry; it was as if the Fascists had assassinated poetry itself. Neruda had reached a moment from which there was no turning back. His poetry had to shift outwardly; it had to act. No more melancholic verse, love poems dotted with red poppies, or metaphysical writing, all of which ignored the realities of rising Fascism. Bold, repeated words and clear, vivid images now served his purpose: to convey his pounding heart and to communicate the realities he was experiencing in a way that could be understood immediately by a wide audience.

This shift away from Romanticism can be seen clearly in Neruda’s poem I Explain Some Things:

You will ask why his poetry
doesn’t speak to us of dreams, of the leaves,
of the great volcanoes of his native land?

Come and see the blood in the streets,
come and see
the blood in the streets,
come and see the blood
in the streets!

The demonstrations in Chile have also seen the return of the ‘cacerolazo’ or ‘casserole’ a form of popular protest used globally consisting of people making noise by banging pots, pans, and other utensils at demonstrations. The Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux brought out a song about this form of protest, called ‘Cacerolazo’ (on YouTube) where she raps about cacerolazos as a form of massive protest in defiance of police and military violence describing them as “[w]ooden spoons against your shooting”:

Vivita, guachita, Chile despierta
Cuchara de palo frente a tus balazos
Y al toque de queda, ¡cacerolazo!
No somos alienígenas ni extraterrestres
No cachai na’, es el pueblo rebelde
Sacamos las ollas y nos mataron
A los asesinos ¡cacerolazo!

(Vivita, guachita, Chile wake up
Wooden spoon in front of your bullets
And at the curfew, cacerolazo!
We are not aliens or extraterrestrials
Don’t shit, it’s the rebel people
We took out the pots and they killed us
To the killers cacerolazo!)

Conclusion

The Chartists may not have had the access to the internet or video production of Ana Tijoux but their newspapers achieved large distributions and sales, spreading a similar culture of revolt and opposition. Since the time of Alexander Pope, poetry has played an important part in the struggle for change and social justice and the potential for poetry to consolidate people’s feelings, aspirations and desires has remained strong. The decision by poets, themselves, to participate and apply their art to the issues at hand has reinforced and inspired people the world over.

• All images in this article are from Wikimedia Commons

The Brennan Dossier: All About a Prime Mover of Russiagate

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In the waning days of the Obama administration, the US intelligence community produced a report saying Russian President Vladimir Putin had tried to swing the 2016 election to Donald Trump.

The January 2017 report, called an Intelligence Community Assessment, followed months of leaks to the media that had falsely suggested illicit ties between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin while also revealing that such contacts were the subject of a federal investigation. Its release cast a pall of suspicion over Trump just days before he took office, setting the tone for the unfounded allegations of conspiracy and treason that have engulfed his first term.

The ICA's blockbuster finding was presented to the public as the consensus view of the nation's intelligence community. As events have unfolded, however, it now seems apparent that the report was largely the work of one agency, the CIA, and overseen by one man, then-Director John Brennan, who closely directed its drafting and publication with a small group of hand-picked analysts.

Nearly three years later, as the public awaits answers from two Justice Department inquiries into the Trump-Russia probe’s origins, and as impeachment hearings catalyzed by a Brennan-hired anti-Trump CIA analyst unfold in Congress, it is clear that Brennan’s role in propagating the collusion narrative went far beyond his work on the ICA. A close review of facts that have slowly come to light reveals that he was a central architect and promoter of the conspiracy theory from its inception. The record shows that:

- Contrary to a general impression that the FBI launched the Trump-Russia conspiracy probe, Brennan pushed it to the bureau breaking with CIA tradition by intruding into domestic politics: the 2016 presidential election. He also supplied suggestive but ultimately false information to counterintelligence investigators and other US officials.

- Leveraging his close proximity to President Obama, Brennan sounded the alarm about alleged Russian interference to the White House, and was tasked with managing the US intelligence community's response.

- While some FBI officials expressed skepticism about the Trump/Russia narrative as they hunted down investigative leads, Brennan stood out for insisting on its veracity.

- To substantiate his claims, Brennan relied on a Kremlin informant who was later found to be a mid-level official with limited access to Putin’s inner circle.

- Circumventing normal protocol for congressional briefings, Brennan supplied then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid with incendiary Trump-Russia innuendo that Reid amplified in a pair of public letters late in the election campaign.

- After Trump's unexpected victory, Brennan oversaw the hasty production of the tenuous Intelligence Community Assessment.

- Departing from his predecessors’ usual practice of staying above the political fray after leaving office, Brennan has worked as a prominent analyst for MSNBC, where he has used his authority as a former guardian of the nation’s top secrets to launch vitriolic attacks on a sitting president, accusing Trump of "treasonous" conduct.

Now Brennan is among the most vocal critics of the more comprehensive of the two Justice probes, the criminal investigation run by US Attorney John Durham and Attorney General William Barr. "I don’t understand the predication of this worldwide effort to try to uncover dirt, real or imagined, that would discredit that investigation in 2016 into Russian interference," he recently said on MSNBC.

The Trump-Russia collusion theory was not propagated by a few rogue figures. Key Obama administration and intelligence officials laundered it through national security reporters who gave their explosive claims anonymous cover. Nevertheless, Brennan stands apart for the outsized role he played in generating and spreading the false narrative.

'Raised Concerns in My Mind'

The government’s official story as detailed in special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s April 18 report casts the Trump-Russia probe as an FBI operation. It asserts that the bureau launched its investigation, code-named “Crossfire Hurricane,” on July 31, 2016, after receiving information that junior Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos was informed that Russians had politically damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

But a great deal of evidence – including public testimony and news accounts – undermines that story. It indicates that the probe started earlier, with Brennan a driving force. Many of the clues are buried in public testimony and reports published by the New York Times and Washington Post, the primary vehicles for intelligence community leaks throughout the Russiagate saga.

One signal came in June when the Times reported that the Barr-Durham investigation had "provoked anxiety in the ranks of the C.I.A." Among Barr's aims, the paper noted, was "to better understand the intelligence that flowed from the C.I.A. to the F.B.I. in the summer of 2016."

That intelligence "flowed from the C.I.A. to the F.B.I" underscores that the agency played a larger role in the early stages of the Trump-Russia probe than is publicly acknowledged. Late last month, the Times ran a more ominous piece suggesting that the CIA may have been a prime mover of the probe through deception. It reported that Durham has been asking interview subjects "whether C.I.A. officials might have somehow tricked the F.B.I. into opening the Russia investigation." In anticipation of being asked such questions, the paper added, "[s]ome C.I.A. officials have retained criminal lawyers."

If that reflects an accurate suspicion on Durham's part, then Brennan, by his own account, has already outed himself as a key suspect. Brennan has publicly taken credit for the Russia probe's origination and supplying critical information to the FBI after it began. "I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and US persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about," he told Congress in May 2017. That information, Brennan added, "raised concerns in my mind about whether or not those individuals were cooperating with the Russians," which then "served as the basis for the FBI investigation to determine whether such collusion-cooperation occurred."

BBC report suggests that Brennan may be referring to April 2016 – a month before Papadopoulos allegedly mentioned Russian dirt and three months before the FBI launched its probe – when “an intelligence agency of one of the Baltic States" provided Brennan with "a tape recording" that "worried him" – "a conversation about money from the Kremlin going into the US presidential campaign."

It is not clear whether the BBC account is accurate, but the April date coincides with other activity suggesting an earlier start date to the collusion probe than the official version. Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch testified before a congressional panel that in the “late spring” of 2016 then-FBI Director James Comey briefed National Security Council principals about concerns surrounding newly appointed Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. According to the Guardian newspaper, former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele began briefing the FBI on his discredited dossier in London as early as June; after that, "his information started to reach the bureau in Washington." In mid-July, veteran CIA and FBI informant Stefan Halper made contact with Page at a British academic conference; according to Page, the invitation had come at the end of May or early June.

Halper has also been accused of taking part in a smear operation aimed at spreading false information about National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Russian nationals. In May, Halper was sued in the US by Svetlana Lokhova, a Russian-born British academic, for defamation. Lokhova alleges that Halper, while working as a US intelligence asset, spread rumors suggesting that she and Flynn had an improper relationship.

While Russiagate's exact starting point is murky, it is clear that Brennan placed himself at the center of the action. After the investigation officially got underway in the summer of 2016, as Brennan later told MSNBC, "[w]e put together a fusion center at CIA that brought NSA and FBI officers together with CIA to make sure that those proverbial dots would be connected." (It is not clear whether this was a Freudian slip suggesting the center included Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm hired by the Clinton campaign that produced the Steele dossier of fictitious Trump-Russia dirt – but regardless, it is likely that at least some of Brennan's "dots" came from the firm.) According to the New Yorker, also that summer Brennan received a personal briefing from Robert Hannigan, then the head of Britain’s intelligence service the GCHQ, about an alleged "stream of illicit communications between Trump's team and Moscow that had been intercepted." A US court would later confirm that Steele shared his reports with at least one "senior British security official."

As Brennan helped generate the collusion investigation, he also worked to insert it into domestic American politics – at the height of a presidential campaign. Starting in August, Brennan began giving personal briefings to the Gang of Eight, high-ranking US senators and members of Congress regularly apprised of state secrets. Breaking with tradition, he met them individually, rather than as a group. His most consequential private meeting was with Harry Reid.

Afterward, the Democrats’ Senate leader sent a pair of provocative public letters to FBI Director Comey. Reid's messages – released to the public during the final months of the presidential race – made explosive insinuations of illicit ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, putting the collusion narrative into motion. "The prospect of individuals tied to Trump, WikiLeaks and the Russian government coordinating to influence our election raises concerns of the utmost gravity and merits full examination," Reid wrote on Aug. 27. Russia, he warned, may be trying to "influence the Trump campaign and manipulate it as a vehicle for advancing the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin."

Two days after Comey's "October surprise" announcement that newly discovered emails were forcing him to reopen the bureau’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server while serving as secretary of state, Reid followed up with even more incendiary language: "It has become clear," he complained to Comey, "that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors and the Russian government."

Reid’s letters show the extent to which Brennan maneuvered behind the scenes to funnel collusion to a public audience. In their book "Russian Roulette," Michael Isikoff and David Corn report that Reid "concluded the CIA chief believed the public needed to know about the Russia operation, including the information about the possible links to the Trump campaign."

Nunes: 'Whatever Brennan Told Reid, He Didn’t Tell Me.'

The separate briefings and the Reid letters gave rise to suspicion that Brennan was driven by what Reid, according to Isikoff and Corn, saw as an "ulterior motive." Although Brennan has claimed publicly that he "provided the same briefing to each gang of eight member," Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) says that is not true. Nunes, who was then the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is quoted in journalist Lee Smith’s new book, "The Plot Against the President," saying, "Whatever Brennan told Reid, he didn’t tell me."

Reid’s letters also undermine a common, but false, talking point used to defend Brennan and other US intelligence officials behind the Russia investigation: If they really sought to hurt the Trump campaign, they would have made their Trump-Russia collusion speculation public. As Comey put it: "If we were 'deep state' Clinton loyalists bent on stopping him, why would we keep it secret?" Reid's extraordinary letters – released at the height of the campaign – were one of the ways in which Brennan did exactly the opposite.

After Trump's election victory in November, Brennan's CIA was the source of yet more leaks. Reports in early December claimed that the agency had assessed that Russia interfered in the 2016 election with the explicit aim of helping Trump. The leaks sparked worry inside the FBI.

"Think our sisters have begun leaking like mad," Peter Strzok, the lead FBI agent on the Russia probe, texted his colleague Lisa Page on Dec. 15. "Scorned and worried and political, they're kicking in to overdrive." In an April 2017 email to colleagues, Strzok worried the CIA was deceiving both the bureau and the public. "I'm beginning to think the agency got info a lot earlier than we thought and hasn't shared it completely with us," he wrote. "Might explain all these weird/seemingly incorrect leads all these media folks have. Would also highlight agency as a source of some of the leaks."

‘We Needed More’

At the same time that he was sharing his "concerns" about alleged Trump-Russia contacts with the FBI and Congress, Brennan was raising alarm bells at the White House about an alleged Russian interference campaign. In the process, he went to significant lengths to safeguard his claims from internal scrutiny.

In early August, Brennan told the White House about supposed intelligence from a Kremlin mole that Vladimir Putin had personally ordered an interference operation to hurt Clinton and install Trump in the White House. Brennan, the New York Times reported, "sent separate intelligence reports, many based on the source’s information, in special sealed envelopes to the Oval Office." Brennan made sure that those envelopes evaded scrutiny.

On Brennan’s orders, Greg Miller of the Washington Post reported, "no information on Russia's interference was ever included in the president's daily brief." Brennan's purported fear was that even a highly restrictive distribution list might prove too leaky for the CIA’s explosive claims about Putin’s supposed secret orders to elect Trump.

Miller also reported that Brennan holed up in his office to pore over the CIA's material, "staying so late that the glow through his office windows remained visible deep into the night." Brennan ordered up, not just vetted, "'finished' assessments – analytic reports that had gone through “layers of review and revision," but also "what agency veterans call the 'raw stuff,' the unprocessed underlying material," Miller adds.

To former CIA analyst and whistleblower John Kiriakou, all of this raises "a very big red flag" that suggests Brennan circumvented his colleagues and normal intelligence safeguards. "As a matter of practice, you never, ever give the raw data to the policymaker," Kiriakou says. "That was something that was done during the George W. Bush administration where Vice President Cheney demanded the raw intelligence. But more often than not raw intelligence is just simply incorrect – it’s factually incorrect, or it’s the result of the source who’s a liar, or it’s the result of the source who has only part of the story. And so you can’t trust it. You have to vet it and compare it to the rest of your all-source information to see what’s true, what’s not true, and then only the true information you use in your analysis. For the director of the CIA to be using the raw data is highly unusual because that’s what you have a staff of thousands to do for you."

The timing of Brennan's supposed delivery of the information sourced to the mole – later identified as Oleg Smolenkov – also raises questions. Although it is unclear when Smolenkov would have conveyed his intelligence to the CIA, the Washington Post reported Brennan delivered it to the White House in early August 2016 – just days after the FBI officially launched its Russia investigation. But if Smolenkov was able to capture Putin's orders to conduct a sweeping election interference campaign – which allegedly began in March – it would be odd that this information arrived only after the US election interference investigation began, and not – at minimum – months earlier, when Putin's supposed operation would had to have been ordered.

When Brennan's material did reach eyes outside Obama's inner circle, "other agencies were slower to endorse a conclusion that Putin was personally directing the operation and wanted to help Trump," the Washington Post reported. “‘It was definitely compelling, but it was not definitive,' said one senior administration official. 'We needed more.'" Faced with that skepticism, Brennan "moved swiftly" to brief congressional leaders -- including Reid.

The Mole

The internal doubts about Brennan's claims now make more sense in light of the recent outing of the supposed Kremlin mole that he relied on to make them.

Smolenkov has been revealed to be a mid-level Kremlin official who was outside of Putin's inner circle. According to Russian media, Smolenkov disappeared during a visit to Montenegro in June 2017, in what other reports call a CIA extraction over fears that a loose-lipped Trump could put him in peril. After that, Smolenkov turned up in the US, remarkably living under his own name – easily discoverable in public records – in the Virginia suburbs.

Even putting aside Putin’s reputation for having operatives abroad hunt down and assassinate those who cross him, Kiriakou said this open visibility is "astounding." CIA informants, Kiriakou says, "were never, ever resettled in their own names and they were almost never resettled in the Washington area. That tells me a couple of things: one, this source wasn’t as sensitive as we may have been led to believe; or, two, even if he was sensitive, the information that he provided either has been overtaken by events, or isn’t really that important in the long run."

Nevertheless, Brennan’s Kremlin mole remains the only known direct source for a central claim that Putin worked to elect Trump.

‘Unusually Constrained’

Brennan has countered questions about the intelligence process he directed by insisting that his conclusions were broadly shared and corroborated. That is misleading. 

During private briefings to Congress in December 2016, it was the CIA that aggressively pushed the belief that Putin had ordered a secret campaign to elect Trump, while FBI officials said that the intelligence was not conclusive. An unnamed official told the Washington Post that "a secret, new CIA assessment" made "direct and bald and unqualified" statements that the Russian government sought to elect Trump. But days later, "a senior FBI counterintelligence official" appearing before the committee gave "fuzzy and "ambiguous" remarks on the same issue. "It was shocking to hold these [CIA] statements made about Russian intentions and activities, and to hear this guy basically saying nothing with certainty and allowing that all was possible," an official who attended the briefing told the Post.

March 2018 report from Republican members of House Intelligence Committee fleshed out these concerns. It determined that the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment, which Brennan managed, was subjected to an "unusually constrained review and coordination process, which deviated from established CIA practice." Contrary to the widespread portrayal of a vetted, consensus-based intelligence product, the ICA was in fact "drafted by CIA analysts" working under Brennan and merely "coordinated with the NSA and the FBI." The report found that the ICA also suffered from "significant intelligence tradecraft failings that undermine confidence in the ICA judgments regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin's strategic objectives for disrupting the US election."

Another question is whether the Steele dossier influenced the ICA's production. Brennan has insisted in congressional testimony that the dossier was "not in any way used as the basis for the intelligence community's assessment," and that he was unaware of the fact that Hillary Clinton's campaign had funded it. But multiple accounts, including in RealClearInvestigations, report that the dossier was inserted as an appendix to the ICA, and that Brennan personally advocated its inclusion. In an October 2017 interview with CNN, where he works as analyst, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper acknowledged that "some of the substantive content of the dossier we were able to corroborate in our Intelligence Community Assessment" – suggesting that it was indeed relied on.

President Obama's role in US intelligence is yet one more mystery. In both the final months of his presidency and in the period since, Obama has said very little publicly about the Russia investigation. But he attended various meetings with top officials about Trump-Russia theories. It’s not clear what he said, but their efforts ramped up in the months that followed.

Most of Obama’s documented efforts occurred during his final days in office. On Jan. 5, 2017 he convened a meeting where he and top principals decided to withhold details about the ongoing FBI investigation of the incoming Trump administration. A week later his administration issued a new rule allowing the NSA to disseminate throughout the government “raw signals intelligence information.” Republicans viewed this as an effort to make it easy to leak damaging information against Trump and harder to identify the leakers. Also after the election, Obama made the curious decision to nix a proposal from inside his own administration to form a bipartisan commission that would have scrutinized Russian interference and the US response.

‘I Think I Suspected More Than There Actually Was’

Since stepping down from the CIA in January 2017, Brennan's incendiary rhetoric has fanned the flames. From MSNBC to the New York Times to Twitter, Brennan has denounced Trump as "treasonous," "in the pocket of Putin," and dismissed the president's now substantiated "claims of no collusion," as "hogwash." In the final weeks of the Mueller probe, Brennan boldly predicted a wave of indictments against Trump's inner circle for a Russia conspiracy. When Mueller completed his probe with no such indictments, Brennan changed his tone: "I don’t know if I received bad information, but I think I suspected there was more than there actually was," he told MSNBC.

The Mueller report accepted Brennan’s claim that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. But as a previous RCI investigation found, the report's evidence failed to support its claim of a "sweeping and systematic" interference campaign. Nor did it show that such interference impacted the outcome.

It is still not clear why the Obama administration, with major media playing along, not only embraced the false Trump-Russia narrative but also used it as a rationale to spy on a presidential campaign and then on a presidency. Brennan’s reasons also remain opaque.

One early motivation may have been the intelligence community’s broad dislike of Flynn – Trump’s first national security adviser, who was one of the earliest targets of the collusion narrative.

Flynn had served as Obama’s head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, but fell out of favor by 2014, in part because of his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal and the CIA's arming of anti-Assad militants in Syria. Obama had specifically warned Trump against hiring Flynn.

A longtime critic of the bureaucracy, Flynn earned particular enmity from Brennan’s CIA with an effort to create a new Pentagon spy organization, Foreign Policy reported in 2015.

One of Trump’s first high-profile supporters, Flynn was also the subject of the first news articles – starting in February of 2016 – portraying members of the Trump campaign as overly sympathetic to Russia. In February 2017, “nine current and former officials” from multiple agencies leaked about him to the Washington Post over his contacts with the Russian ambassador -- an article that helped the Post win a Pulitzer Prize with the New York Times. The episode also brought Flynn much grief, including a widely questioned “process crime” conviction for lying to the FBI, which he is now trying to reverse. Meanwhile, a CIA “whistleblower” hired and placed in the White House by Brennan has provided the impetus for the current Democrat-led impeachment effort against President Trump.

The Barr-Durham probe is set to determine, among other things, whether Brennan’s actions and faulty information amounted to incompetence or something considerably worse. 

Reprinted with permission from Real Clear Investigations.

How Western Media Bias Allows Israel to Getaway with Murder in Gaza

An Israeli attack on Gaza was imminent, and not because of any provocations by Palestinian groups in the besieged, impoverished Gaza Strip. The Israeli military escalation was foreseeable because it factors neatly in Israel’s contentious political scene. The war was not a question of “if”, but “when”.

The answer came on November 12, when the Israeli military launched a major strike against Gaza, killing an Islamic Jihad Commander, Bahaa Abu al-Ata, along with his wife Asma.

More strikes followed, targeting what the Israeli military described as Islamic Jihad installations. However, the identities of the victims, along with damning social media footage, pictures, and eyewitness accounts indicate that civilians and civilian infrastructure were bombed and destroyed as well.

As of November 14, when a truce was announced, 32 Palestinians have been killed and over 80 wounded in the Israeli aggression.

What truly frustrates any meaningful discussion on the horrific situation in Gaza is the feeble response, whether by international organizations that exist with the sole purpose of ensuring world peace or by Western monopoly media, that ceaselessly celebrates its own accuracy and impartiality.

A most disappointing response to the Israeli violence was offered by Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.

Mladenov, whose job should have long been deemed pointless considering that no “peace process” actually exists, expressed his “concern” about the “ongoing and serious escalation between Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Israel”.

Not only Mladenov’s statement creates a moral equivalence between an occupying power, which instigated the war in the first place, and a small group of a few hundred armed men, it is also dishonest.

“The indiscriminate launching of rockets and mortars against population centres is absolutely unacceptable and must stop immediately,” Mladenov elaborated, putting great emphasis on the fact that, “there can be no justification for any attacks against civilians”.

Shockingly, Mladenov was referring to Israeli, not Palestinian civilians. At the time that his statement was released to the media, there were already dozens of Palestinian civilians that had been killed and wounded, while Israeli media reports spoke of few Israelis who had been treated for “anxiety”.

The European Union did not fare any better. The EU parroted the same American knee-jerk response by condemning “the barrage of rocket attacks reaching deep into Israel”.

“The firing of rockets on civilian populations is totally unacceptable and must immediately stop,” a statement by the European bloc read.

Is it not possible that Mladenov and top EU foreign policymakers do not truly comprehend the political context of the latest Israeli onslaught — that embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is using military escalation as a way of fortifying his weakening grip on power.

Considering this, what is one to make of the poor media coverage, the inept analyses and the absence of balanced reports in major Western news media?

In a report published by the BBC on November 13, the British broadcaster referred to “cross-border violence between Israel and militants in Gaza”.

But Gaza is not an independent country and, per international law, it is still under Israeli occupation. Israel declared Gaza a “hostile territory” in September 2007, arbitrarily establishing a “border” between it and the besieged Palestinian territory. For some reason, the BBC finds this designation acceptable.

CNN, on the other hand, reported on November 13 that “Israel’s military campaign against Islamic Jihad” is entering its second day, while emphasizing the UN condemnation of the rocket attacks.

CNN, like most of its American corporate counterparts, reports on Israeli military campaigns as a part and parcel of some imagined “war on terror”. Therefore, analyzing the language of US mainstream media with the purpose of underlining and emphasizing its failures and biases, is a useless exercise.

Sadly, US bias regarding Palestine has extended to mainstream media in European countries that were, to some degree, fairer, if not somewhat sympathetic, with the Palestinian peoples’ situation.

El Mundo of Spain, for example, spoke of a number of Palestinians — making sure to emphasize that they were “mostly militants”, — who “died” as opposed to “were killed” by the Israeli military.

“The escalation followed the death of Gaza’s armed branch leader,” El Mundo reported, failing once more to pinpoint the culprits in these seemingly mysterious deaths.

La Repubblica, which is perceived in Italy as a “leftist” outlet, sounded more like a right-wing Israeli newspaper, in its description of the events that led to the death and wounding of many Palestinians. The Italian newspaper used a fabricated timeline that only exists in the mind of Israeli military and decision-makers.

“Violence continued. Several rockets were thrown towards Israel by Gaza’s Islamic Jihad (militants), breaking the brief truce, according to (right-wing Israeli newspaper) The Jerusalem Post and to the Israeli army”.

It remains unclear what “truce” La Repubblica was referring to.

France’s Le Monde followed suit, reporting the same deceptive and cliched Israeli lines and emphasizing statements by the Israeli military and government. Interestingly, the death and wounding of many Palestinians in Gaza did not deserve a place on the French newspaper’s homepage. Instead, it chose to highlight a comparatively irrelevant news item where Israel denounced the labeling of illegal settlement products as “discriminatory”.

Maybe, one could have excused these across-the-board journalistic and moral failings if it were not for the fact that the Gaza story has been one of the most covered news topics anywhere in the world for over a decade.

It is obvious that the West’s “newspapers of record” have maintained their blindspot on fairly reporting on Gaza and intentionally kept the truth from their readers for many years so as not to offend the sensibilities of the Israeli government and its powerful allies and lobbies.

While one cannot help but bemoan the death of good journalism in the West, it is also important to acknowledge with much appreciation the courage and sacrifices of Gaza’s young journalists and bloggers who, at times, are targeted and killed by the Israeli army for conveying the truth on the plight of the besieged but tenacious Strip.

Should We Trust Science?

Scientists working on the issue have often told me that, once upon a time, they assumed, if they did their jobs, politicians would act upon the information. That, of course, hasn’t happened. Anything but, across much of the planet. Worse yet, science failed to have the necessary impact in significant part because of disinformation promoted by the major fossil-fuel companies, which have succeeded in diverting attention from climate change and successfully blocking meaningful action.”

— Naomi Oreskes, author of Why Trust Science? and professor of the history of science at Harvard University

There were 60 of us with four facilitators asking us deep questions about the best ways to protest, preserve, rehabilitate and reimagine Oregon’s rocky intertidal habitat.

“What does make a community resistant and resilient?” Steven S. Rumrill, Department of Fish and Wildlife shellfish program leader, asked us all.

In a nutshell, this breakout session was a microcosm of Saturday’s conference, State of the Coast at Salishan Resort.

Three other leads to this afternoon session titled, “Complex and Connected: Holistic Approaches to Management in the Nearshore” — Sarah Gravem, OSU Marine Ecologist; Dom Kone, OSU graduate student in Marine Resource Management; and Deanna Caracciolo, Department of Land Conservation and Development – challenged us to think about issues near and dear to not only the scientists, but to us lay persons. We held onto the anchor question: “What makes the Oregon Coast vibrant, healthy and a visitor destination.”

Rumrill posed key brainstorming questions:

1. What are the primary drivers of variability in rocky habitats?

2. What are the key stressors and threats to them?

3. What proactive steps can resource managers take?

4. Think of five words associated with holistic management of rocky shores.

Coastal Confab Inspires Next Generation

This was the sixth year in a row for the State of the Coast, but this past Saturday’s was the first sold out gig, according to Shelby Walker with Oregon Sea Grant, main sponsor of the Gleneden Beach soirée.

The all-day session included the requisite keynote – Bonnie Henderson, author of several books, to include “Day Hiking: Oregon Coast,” “The Next Tsunami: Living on a Restless Coast” and “Strand: An Odyssey of Pacific Ocean Debris.”

Even more compelling and intriguing — and dovetailed to the State of the Coast theme of looking into the future — 28 student researchers with their poster projects displayed in the Longhouse conference room, and the 10 student artists alongside their creative endeavors, with both groups being voted on by all the guests.

Projects tied to pollution, microplastics, the Pacific heat blob, hormone mimickers, ocean acidification and more are at the forefront of these highly motivated and interdisciplinary-steeped students from Oregon State University, University of Oregon, Portland State University.

 

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I spent time talking with Reyn Yoshioka from UO, as he explained the remarkable findings in his participation in Oregon Institute of Marine Biology’s BioBlitz in the Coos Bay area. We discussed how his team’s inventory of invertebrates would be ideal to present to city and county officials, as well as groups like Rotary clubs and chambers of commerce.

“The people with political and economic clout need to see not only the work you all do, but what really is at stake if anything threatens this incredible biodiversity,” I told many of the fledging scientists and artists.

Every single one agreed. Many asked me how they might connect to myriad other stakeholders and powerbrokers in their communities.

I introduced Reyn to OSU senior in arts Kenneth Koga, whose watercolors of various elements of a vibrant ecosystem bring the scientist’s eye in focus with a much broader scope beyond just the materialistic world and into the interpretation of nature through the artist’s lens. Reyn told me “it would have been cool” to have dancers, photographers, painters, sculptors and musicians as part of the biodiversity transect inventory.

The Arts Help Define and Contextualize Science

While we received quick teach-ins (one hour presentations of eight minutes each) from researchers looking at rocky habitats, the warm Pacific blob, Oregon’s five marine reserves, sea star wasting disease, threats to Gray, fin, blue and humpback whales on the West Coast, and the status of groundfish recovery, Marion O. Rossi, OSU Associate Dean of Liberal Arts, gave a quick snapshot of Republican Governor Tom McCall’s legacy in helping preserve our coastal habitats.

Author Studs Terkel asked McCall decades ago where the heroes of the political world are. “Heroes are not giant statues framed against a red sky,” McCall said. “ They are people who say, ‘This is my community, and it’s my responsibility to make it better.’”

Rossi and I talked about what better things might be done to bridge the divide between the sciences (and technology, engineering and math – STEM) and the arts.

Part of the conference included a rather telling – possibly debilitating – aspect of science and various stakeholders. I counted more than 21 agencies involved in just managing and setting plans for our rocky habitats. Unfortunately, there are many more agencies, bureaucracies, boards, quasi-legal, legislative, non-profit, industry groups with some sort of skin in the game tied to our coast.

Think of tide-pools, habitat for many juvenile species, kelp incubators, biodomes to invertebrates such as anemones and sea stars. One issue we tackled was the fact that we can love our coastlines to death; i.e., since we have so many visitors and local aficionados wanting to get into these areas, so many species are being trampled upon.

Ecological balance, keystone species and the entire web of life also were prominent discussion points for the speakers.

For instance, the wasting disease promulgated deeper response in coordinated research projects called STARS – Seastar Tragedy and Recovery Study. Sarah Gravem of OSU discussed the implications of this species’ decline most probably attributed to a virus as well as ocean conditions (warming) spurring the virus’ growth. In some areas along the Pacific Coast, there had been a 100 percent die-off of sea stars observed in 2018. Recovery has been slow.

The ecological consequences from this wasting disease hitting pisaster ochraceus that once was ubiquitous in our rocky shorelines (purple, orange, brown many-legged beauties) spurred a kind of domino effect.

• this predatory sea star feeds on the mussel Mytilus californianus and is responsible for maintaining much of the local diversity of species within certain communities

• compensatory predators come in when a die-off hits

• low sea star prey growth occurs upsetting the balance of the ecosystem

All these pieces to the marine puzzle make up the coast’s mosaic of life. With warming waters, the bull kelp die off, and then sea urchins populations explode and any sort of juvenile kelp that might attempt a foothold on rocky bottoms gets gobbled up by the armies of sea urchins.

Everything is connected in the coastal life in and around the sea.

Whose Oregon Is It?

The Oregon Coast Trail is a hiking trail along the Pacific Coast. The length depends on the use of ferries, and varies between 382 miles (615 km) and 428 miles (689 km). The trail is set out on the beach, paved roads and tracks.

– Traildino.com

“You know, the funny thing about aging is you can watch entire forests grow,” author Bonnie Henderson said. “Fifty years is a harvest rotation. I can say to the students here you will watch forests grow thanks to those with vision and persistence.”

The author made it clear that her love of the Oregon Coast Trail could have only been germinated through the auspices and hard work of forerunners like Governor Tom McCall who pushed the 1967 Oregon “beach bill,” making all beaches accessible to the public.

She went back farther, 1913, to Oswald West, the governor who made all Oregon’s public beaches highways for wagons, horses and cars. Fellows like state Parks chief Sam Boardman (retired 1950) increased the acreage for coastal parks almost 20-fold. Then Sam Dickens, a Kentuckian who ended up running the UO geology department, saw the value in knitting together all the trails in Oregon, along the coast.

The well-known Pacific Crest Trail is more than 2,600 miles long and takes five months to traverse in snow-free conditions. It’s a wild back-country affair, whereas the Oregon Coast Trail cuts through cities, highways towns and waysides. Henderson has traversed it many times.

She is fighting for more camping areas. She is also keen on her other position as communications director for the Northwest Land Conservancy, trying to get more land set aside for a reserve in Oswald Park near Cape Falcon. That’s a $10 million fund drive, of which the NWLD has procured half.

With the snow season hitting the Sierras and rampant fires in California and Oregon, many people had to forego their Pacific Coast Trail adventure and ended up on the Oregon Coast Trail in 2017 and 2018.

She rhetorically asked how long people have been hiking and walking along the trail. Jorie Clark, OSU Geology and Geophysics department, has looked at the shoreline changes dating back 18,000 years when the oceans along the Pacific were 450 feet lower than today. It was around 6,000 years ago when the ocean hit the current level.

There were glaciers along the coast dating back 14,000 years, but also evidence of people from Chile up to Oregon, before the land bridge, who went along the so-called “kelp highway” where they found enough refugia to survive, Henderson told the crowd.

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Rejecting Cornell University — Art for Art’s Sake

Ram Papish apologizes to the group in his breakout session for a jump drive failure. He is wearing self-designed blue jeans with a collection of tufted puffins painted all over.

He currently lives and works out of Toledo, and his artwork is not only of interest to collectors. More importantly, he has worked with Oregon State Parks on 63 panels of interpretative work tied to our wonderfully varied ecosystems.

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All along the Oregon Coast, at waysides and other locales, these illustrated panels are set throughout the tourists’ pathway. Here are just a few of the illustrated large panels:

• Salmon Life Cycle

• Tidepool Explorer

• Sea Bird Island

• Tidepool Life

• Shorebird Stopover

• Mixing Zone

He tells the mostly young students in the session that he had to fight hard to become successful, and he said it was just last year when he began to feel somewhat secure in his artistic profession.

He has illustrated field guides, and in his early life he spent half the year as a guide in Alaska and then the other half as an artist – 15 years straight undertaking that lifestyle. He’s an avid photographer and he has worked sculpting into his life – with works including the walrus that sticks out of the wall at Hatfield Marine Science Center.

When I went to college, I didn’t think I could make a living at it. I sent out dozens of portfolios to publishers and children’s book publishers. I was really naïve.

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The introduction to art class at Cornell was a turning point in his pursuit: “The professor was basically trying to teach us how to be a snobby artist. I wasn’t going to have any part of that.”

Ram’s drive is to connect people to nature. He works mostly on commission, gigs assigned by Oregon State Parks, other agencies and publishers. His drawing avocation started when he was very young, and by age 14 he was designing dolls.

Questions abounded at his talk; he stated his interpretative panels follow the Rule of Threes –

It’s better to have less text. Over the years we went from textbooks on a stick to art pieces with no more than 300 words.

• three seconds to get the headlines

• 30 seconds to glance over the panel

• three minutes to read everything, including the captions

I ask him who his inspirations were. He rattles off Lars Jonsson and Robert Bateman. His number-one inspirator was a guy who wrote a book, Birds in Art. That was Larry McQueen, who ironically turned out to be living in Eugene where the young Ram lived. Ram saw his photo in the newspaper. It turned out Ram had been his paperboy from age 12 to 14. Ram introduced himself to McQueen and ever since he has been Ram’s inspiration.

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Our Collective Potlatch

There are many challenges to our coast – to the livelihoods of the people who make money off our coast’s marine resources. There are challenges to scientists who have to spend more time stumping for grants. There are many silos of people who are gatekeepers of information but fail to abide by transparency. Tourism and sustainable economies are debated weekly in city council meetings.

Unfortunately, for many coastal people, the elephants in the room are global warming, ocean level rise and ocean acidification and hypoxia. I’ve written about researchers diving deep into those topics.

But the bandwidth of the American public, lawmakers and industry is taken up by the stumbling blocks to progress – profits at any cost and doing business as usual for the benefit of a few rich people and stockholders.

The state of the coast, as seen at the Salishan Resort, is one tied to vibrant thinkers and activists; scientists and researchers; explorers and dreamers.

On the surface, some things look hunky-dory, but when we peel back layers as both naturalists and scientists, we see a more varied and complicated picture. The State of the Coast is a multivariant symphony of sometimes syncopated and discordant arias.

Music is in the eye of the beholder, but for our coast, the people dedicated to learning and sharing are really the bedrock for the rest of us who find some niche or dream or hope in this place.

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Maybe we need this sort of potlatch — the name given to most Northwest Coast celebrations – every month.

Imagine, State of the Coast as our potlatch, from the Nuu-chah-nulth “pachitle”’ (potlatch), which means “to give.” How much does the reader have to give to this vibrant and vulnerable coast? How much do you have at stake in ensuring future generations have a healthy coast?

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Note: Article first appeared in Oregon Coast Today, author’s copyright.

Ending Violence, Exploitation, Ecological Destruction and War

The date 11 November is well known and commemorated in many parts of the world because it marks the Armistice ending World War I – ‘the Great War’ – in 1918.

In the evocative words used by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., an atheist humanist, in his novel Breakfast of Champions, the day is remembered thus:

When I was a boy … all the people of all the nations which fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month. It was at that minute in nineteen-hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields at that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.

And what, exactly, did God (by whatever name: Allah, Krishna, Yahweh…) or the Gods say? we might ask. Well even those who profess little more than scant knowledge of religious texts that purport to represent the word of God might suggest that s/he simply breathed a (silent) sigh of relief that the insanity of mass warfare had ended. For now at least.

For those of us concerned with the struggle to create cultures of peace or, even, a world culture of peace, there are some fundamental questions to consider including the classic question discussed by two of humanity’s greats – Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud – when they tackled the question ‘Why War?

Of course, as many people now understand it, peace entails far more than simply a state without military (including terrorist) violence and war. Beyond these forms of violence, many exponents of peace seek the end of other dimensions of what I call ‘visible’ violence, including:

a) Direct violence that goes beyond military violence, such as biological violence (that is, violence against the body) in the family home and as a result of violent crime as well as ‘physical violence’ (that is, constraints on movement).

b) Institutional violence: socially endorsed violence including that inflicted by parents, teachers, police, legal and prison systems and which now manifests in a myriad other forms with the emergence of the surveillance state that spies on and gathers endless data on individuals to build substantial personal profiles on each – linking many personal records including those related to health and financial matters with political activities and consumption patterns – in violation of any basic understanding of, or commitment to, human rights in their many political, economic, social, cultural and other forms.

c) Structural violence which Mohandas K. Gandhi originally identified when making his observation that ‘exploitation is violence’ and Professor Johan Galtung later elaborated as violence built into structures, such as capitalism and imperialism, that deprive some people of the opportunities to live full and meaningful lives and manifest, for example, as poverty, homelessness and the economic exploitation of people who live in Africa, Asia and Central/South America. And,

d) Ecological violence: those activities ranging from destruction of the climate and rainforests to the killing of insects and wildlife that constitute destruction of the biosphere.

Of course, these categories are not mutually exclusive but they serve to illustrate categories of violence not always recognized as such.

Apart from these forms of ‘visible’ violence Professor Johan Galtung also identified the importance of psychological violence – ‘lies, brainwashing, indoctrination of various kinds, threats, etc. that serve to decrease mental potentialities’ – and coined the term cultural violence to describe ‘those aspects of culture, the symbolic sphere of our existence – exemplified by religion and ideology, language and art, empirical science and formal science (logic, mathematics) – that can be used to justify or legitimize direct or structural violence’.

Beyond these and other categories of violence – including patriarchy and racism as specific manifestations of violence that are, arguably, simultaneously direct, structural and cultural – which stand between humanity and a culture of peace, there are two other categories of violence which I will argue it is necessary to end before we can make profound inroads in ending those mentioned above.

These two categories – which I have labeled invisible violence and utterly invisible violence – describe vitally important categories of violence which human adults inflict on children. Moreover, complemented by the ‘visible’ violence that adults inflict on children, it is this ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence which destroys the unique human individual who was created during a nine-month gestation period and turns them into a ‘socially constructed delusional identity’ who submissively fulfills the extraordinarily limited expectations of their particular adult world and, with only rare exceptions, willingly participates in many if not all of the other forms of violence that torment our world and certainly includes inflicting invisible and utterly invisible violence on their own children. Which is why the cycle of violence goes on.

Why is this?

Because society is preoccupied with producing submissively obedient students, workers, soldiers, citizens (that is, taxpayers and voters) and consumers. Hence, the last thing society wants is powerful individuals who are each capable of searching their conscience, feeling their emotional response to events, thinking critically and behaving strategically in response. For that reason our parenting and education models use a ruthless combination of visible, ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence to ensure that our children become terrified, self-hating and powerless individuals like virtually all of the adults around them.

How does this happen? What is this ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence?

Perpetrators of violence learn their craft in childhood. If you inflict violence on a child, they learn to inflict violence on others. The political leaders who decide to wage war, the military leaders who plan and conduct it, as well as the soldiers, sailors and aircraft personnel who fight war each suffered violence as a child. The terrorist suffered violence as a child. The man who inflicts violence on his partner suffered violence as a child. The corporate executive who exploits working class people and/or those who live in Africa, Asia or Central/South America suffered violence as a child. The racist or religious bigot suffered violence as a child. The individual who perpetrates violence in the home, in the schoolyard or on the street suffered violence as a child. The individual who overconsumes, or even consumes certain products, and/or otherwise destroys the biosphere, suffered violence as a child.

If we want to end violence in all of its manifestations and create a culture of peace, locally and globally, then we must finally end our longest and greatest war: the adult war on children. And here is an additional incentive: if we do not tackle the fundamental cause of violence, then our combined and unrelenting efforts to tackle all of its other symptoms must ultimately fail. And extinction at our own hand is inevitable.

How can I claim that violence against children is the fundamental cause of all other violence? Consider this. There is universal acceptance that behaviour is shaped by childhood experience. If it was not, we would not put such effort into education and other efforts to socialize children to ‘fit into’ their society. And this is why many psychologists have argued that exposure to war toys and violent video games shapes attitudes and behaviours in relation to violence.

But it is far more complex than this and, strange though it may seem, it is not just the ‘visible’ violence (such as hitting, screaming at and sexually abusing) that we normally label ‘violence’ that causes the main damage, although this is extremely damaging. The largest component of damage arises from the ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence that we adults unconsciously inflict on children during the ordinary course of the day. Tragically, the bulk of this violence occurs in the family home and at school.

So what is ‘invisible’ violence? It is the ‘little things’ we do every day, partly because we are just ‘too busy’. For example, when we do not allow time to listen to, and value, a child’s thoughts and feelings, the child learns to not listen to themSelf thus destroying their internal communication system. When we do not let a child say what they want (or ignore them when they do), the child develops communication and behavioral dysfunctionalities as they keep trying to meet their own needs (which, as a basic survival strategy, they are genetically programmed to do).

When we blame, condemn, insult, mock, embarrass, shame, humiliate, taunt, goad, guilt-trip, deceive, lie to, bribe, blackmail, moralize with and/or judge a child, we both undermine their sense of Self-worth and teach them to blame, condemn, insult, mock, embarrass, shame, humiliate, taunt, goad, guilt-trip, deceive, lie, bribe, blackmail, moralize and/or judge.

The fundamental outcome of being bombarded throughout their childhood by this ‘invisible’ violence is that the child is utterly overwhelmed by feelings of fear, pain, anger and sadness (among many others). However, mothers, fathers, teachers, religious figures and other adults also actively interfere with the expression of these feelings and the behavioral responses that are naturally generated by them and it is this ‘utterly invisible’ violence that explains why the dysfunctional behavioral outcomes actually occur.

For example, by ignoring a child when they express their feelings, by comforting, reassuring or distracting a child when they express their feelings, by laughing at or ridiculing their feelings, by terrorizing a child into not expressing their feelings (for example, by screaming at them when they cry or get angry), and/or by violently controlling a behavior that is generated by their feelings (for example, by hitting them, restraining them or locking them into a room), the child has no choice but to unconsciously suppress their awareness of these feelings.

However, once a child has been terrorized into suppressing their awareness of their feelings (rather than being allowed to have their feelings and to act on them) the child has also unconsciously suppressed their awareness of the reality that caused these feelings. This has many outcomes that are disastrous for the individual, for society and for nature because the individual will now easily suppress their awareness of the feelings that would tell them how to act most functionally in any given circumstance and they will progressively acquire a phenomenal variety of dysfunctional behaviors, including some that are violent towards themself, others and/or the Earth.

From the above, it should also now be apparent that punishment should never be used. ‘Punishment’, of course, is one of the words we use to obscure our awareness of the fact that we are using violence. Violence, even when we label it ‘punishment’, scares children and adults alike and cannot elicit a functional behavioural response.

If someone behaves dysfunctionally, they need to be listened to, deeply, so that they can start to become consciously aware of the feelings (which will always include fear and, often, terror) that drove the dysfunctional behaviour in the first place. They then need to feel and express these feelings (including any anger) in a safe way. Only then will behavioural change in the direction of functionality be possible.

‘But these adult behaviors you have described don’t seem that bad. Can the outcome be as disastrous as you claim?’ you might ask. The problem is that there are hundreds of these ‘ordinary’, everyday behaviors that destroy the Selfhood of the child. It is ‘death by a thousand cuts’ and most children simply do not survive as Self-aware individuals. And why do we do this? As mentioned above, we do it so that each child will fit into our model of ‘the perfect citizen’: that is, obedient and hardworking student, reliable and pliant employee/soldier, and submissive law-abiding citizen (that is, one who pays their taxes and votes and/or lobbies politicians).

Moreover, once we destroy the Selfhood of a child, it has many flow-on effects. For example, once you terrorize a child into accepting certain information about themself, other people or the state of the world, the child becomes unconsciously fearful of dealing with new information, especially if this information is contradictory to what they have been terrorized into believing. As a result, the child will unconsciously dismiss new information out of hand.

In short, the child has been terrorized in such a way that they are no longer capable of learning (or their learning capacity is seriously diminished by excluding any information that is not a simple extension of what they already ‘know’). If you imagine any of the bigots you know, you are imagining someone who is utterly terrified. But it’s not just the bigots; virtually all people are affected in this manner making them incapable of responding adequately to new (or even important) information. This is one explanation why some people are ‘climate deniers’, most people do nothing in response to the climate catastrophe and even those people who do take action usually do so ineffectively.

But the same can be said for those working to end war, end the nuclear weapons race or engage in other struggles, including liberation struggles, that are vital parts of the global struggle to create a culture of peace.

To briefly reiterate this vital point (that each child has been terrorized in such a way that they are no longer capable of learning or their learning capacity is seriously diminished): The multifaceted violence inflicted throughout childhood and adolescence ensures that the adult who emerges is suppressing awareness of an enormous amount of fear, pain, sadness and anger (among many other feelings) and must live in delusion to remain unaware of these suppressed feelings. This ensures that, as part of their delusion, the individual develops a strong sense that what they are doing already is functional and working (no matter how dysfunctional and ineffective it may actually be) while unconsciously suppressing awareness of any evidence that contradicts their delusion. They do this because, unconsciously, people learn to identify obedience with ‘functional and working’ (because they do not get punished for being obedient).

As an aside, if you want to read more evidence of humanity’s ‘love’ for our children and get a clearer sense of just how deeply violence is buried in human society, see ‘Humanity’s ‘Dirty Little Secret’: Starving, Enslaving, Raping, Torturing and Killing our Children.’

Just one horrific outcome of this violence against children is that our planet is run by a global elite that is completely insane. And this elite plays a key role in driving many of the more obvious manifestations of violence in our world.

Responding to Violence Strategically to Create a World Culture of Peace

However we define the many positive elements of a culture of peace – which will presumably include an inclusive philosophy of society, a cooperative set of social relations, nonviolent methods for dealing with conflict and sustainable patterns of matter-energy use while allowing universal human access to the resources necessary to maintain health and well-being, opportunities for meaningful political and economic engagement as well as cultural opportunities in art, literature and music among its many other forms, while engaging sustainably with the biosphere to enhance life-opportunities for all other species – this culture of peace can only be achieved if we respond strategically to the violence in our world.

And this means that we must address the fundamental cause of human violence because this drives violence in each and all of its other dimensions. For those adults powerful enough to do this, there is an explanation in ‘Putting Feelings First.’1

Creating a culture of peace, therefore, relies fundamentally on understanding the critical role of suppressed feelings (emotions) in shaping deep culture and generating conflicts, including violent conflicts, and then taking action that addresses this cause.

This includes the need to understand and deal effectively with those emotions that are being acted out dysfunctionally and/or being projected in a particular context, which is standard human behaviour in many situations. Otherwise, that most fundamental of emotions – fear – will continue to drive most cultural predispositions and conflicts in all contexts and make genuine resolution of conflicts virtually impossible. This is because it is only if people are not afraid that discussions about ideas in relation to making culture evolve as we plan (rather than unconsciously or as elites direct) and to resolve conflict nonviolently, become easily possible.

Fundamentally, our parenting and education models fail utterly to produce people of conscience, people who are emotionally functional, people who are capable of critical analysis, people who care and people who can plan and respond to violence strategically. As Professor Galtung noted just recently, “While we are busy exploring whether there is intelligent life on other planets, we might spend more time – and intelligence – exploring whether there is [intelligent life] on ours.” The problem is that once we terrorize a child, the terrified adult who emerges from childhood behaves as guided by their (unconscious) fear, not by any intelligence they may possess. Again, this is routinely illustrated by the failure of even those who self-label as ‘activists’ to think, plan and act strategically.

Of course, we do not need to work on ending violence against children in isolation. We can campaign to end other manifestations of violence – such as war, nuclear weapons and power, economic exploitation, ecological violence in its many forms including geoengineering and the deployment of 5G, violence against women and indigenous peoples, occupations and dictatorships – at the same time.

But if we work to end the many manifestations of violence while failing to address the fundamental cause then, ultimately, we must fail, even if we elongate our timeframe a little.

If you are also interested in working locally to reduce your consumption and become more self-reliant, in order to reduce your ecological violence, consider participating in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth‘.

Alternatively, if you want something simpler, consider committing to:

The Earth Pledge

Out of love for the Earth and all of its creatures, and my respect for their needs, from this day onwards I pledge that:

  1. I will listen deeply to children (see explanation above)
  2. I will not travel by plane
  3. I will not travel by car
  4. I will not eat meat and fish
  5. I will only eat organically/biodynamically grown food
  6. I will minimize the amount of fresh water I use, including by minimizing my ownership and use of electronic devices
  7. I will not buy rainforest timber
  8. I will not buy or use single-use plastic, such as bags, bottles, containers, cups and straws
  9. I will not use banks, superannuation (pension) funds or insurance companies that provide any service to corporations involved in fossil fuels, nuclear power and/or weapons
  10. I will not accept employment from, or invest in, any organization that supports or participates in the exploitation of fellow human beings or profits from killing and/or destruction of the biosphere
  11. I will not get news from the corporate media (mainstream newspapers, television, radio, Google, Facebook, Twitter…)
  12. I will make the effort to learn a skill, such as food gardening or sewing, that makes me more self-reliant
  13. I will gently encourage my family and friends to consider signing this pledge.

And you might wish to join the worldwide movement of people working to end all violence by signing the online pledge of  ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World.’

Conclusion

The foundation of our violent world is the unending visible, invisible and utterly invisible violence that human adults inflict on our children. For that reason, it does not matter what superstructure we build on top of this foundation. Whether we use capitalism (and ‘democracy’), socialism or any other political-economic-social model, tack on a New Green Deal or a Just Transition, while the violent foundation on which society is built – violence against children – remains unaddressed, a culture of peace cannot be created.

So we need to raise children in a culture that does not involve terrorizing them so that they end up perceiving violence as the primary way to address conflict because they are too scared to simply perceive the power of, and use, principled nonviolent options.

Hence, until our parenting and teaching models are radically altered, a culture of peace will remain an impossible dream. And human extinction in the near term is inevitable.

  1. For those adults committed to facilitating children’s efforts to realize their potential and become self-aware (rather than delusional), see ‘My Promise to Children.’

Evo overthrown but Bolivian Socialism will be victorious!

EVO YES, battered with graffitti .

They pledged to do it, and they did – Bolivian feudal lords, mass media magnates and other treasonous “elites” – they overthrew the government, broke hope and interrupted an extremely successful socialist process in what was once one of the poorest countries in South America.

One day they will be cursed by their own nation. One day they will stand trial for sedition. One day they will have to reveal who trained them, who employed them, who turned them into spineless beasts. One day! Hopefully soon.

But now, Evo Morales, legitimate President of Bolivia, elected again and again by his people, is leaving his beloved country. He is crossing the Andes, flying far, to fraternal Mexico, which extended her beautiful hand, and offered him political asylum.

This is now. The striking streets of La Paz are covered by smoke, full of soldiers, stained with blood. People are disappearing. They are being detained, beaten, and tortured. Photos of indigenous men and women, kneeling, facing walls, hands tied behind their backs, are beginning to circulate on social media.

Before a slum, now good town of El Alto

El Alto, until recently a place of hope, with its playgrounds for children and elegant cable cars connecting the once dirt-poor communities, is now beginning to lose its native sons and daughters. Battles are raging. People are charging against the oppressors, carrying flags, dying.

A civil war, or more precisely, a war for the survival of socialism, a war against imperialism, for social justice, for indigenous people. A war against racism. A war for Bolivia, for its tremendous pre-colonial culture, for life; life as it is being perceived in the Andes, or deep in the South American rainforest, not as it is seen in Paris, Washington or Madrid.

*****

The legacy of Evo Morales is tangible, and simple to understand.

During almost 14 years in power, all the social indicators of Bolivia went sky-high. Millions were pulled out of poverty. Millions have been benefiting from free medical care, free education, subsidized housing, improved infrastructure, a relatively high minimum wage, but also from pride that was given back to the indigenous population, which forms the majority in this historically feudal country governed by corrupt, ruthless ‘elites’ – descendants of Spanish conquistadors and European ‘gold-diggers’.

Indigenous people waiting for free medical care in La Paz

Evo Morales made the Aymara and Quechua languages official, on par with Spanish. He made people who communicate in these languages equal to those who use the tongue of the conquerors. He elevated the great indigenous culture high, to where it belongs – making it the symbol of Bolivia, and of the entire region.

Gone was the Christian cross-kissing (look at the crosses reappearing again, all around the oh so European-looking Jeanine Añez who has grabbed power, ‘temporarily’ but still thoroughly illegally). Instead, Evo used to travel, at least once a year, to Tiwanaku, “the capital of the powerful pre-Hispanic empire that dominated a large area of the southern Andes and beyond, reached its apogee between 500 and 900 AD”, according to UNESCO. That is where he used to search for spiritual peace. That is where his identity came from.

Gone was the veneration of the Western colonialist and imperialist culture, of savage capitalism.

This was a new world with ancient, deep roots. This is where South America has been regrouping. Here, and in Correa’s Ecuador, before Correa and his beliefs were purged and ousted by the treacherous Moreno.

And what is more: before the coup, Bolivia was not suffering from economic downfall; it was doing well, extremely well. It was growing, stable, reliable, confident.

Even the owners of big Bolivian companies, if they were to care one bit for Bolivia and its people, had countless reasons to rejoice.

*****

But the Bolivian business community, as in so many other Latin American countries, is obsessed with the one and only ‘indicator’: “how much higher, how much above the average citizens it can get”. This is the old mentality of the colonialists; a feudal, fascist mentality.

Years ago, I was invited, in La Paz, for dinner by an old family of senators and mass media owners. With no shame, no fear, openly, they spoke, despite knowing who I was:

“We will get rid of this Indigenous bastard. Who does he think he is? If we lose millions of dollars in the process, as we did in 1973 Chile and now in Venezuela, we will still do it. Restoring our order is the priority.

There is absolutely no way to reason with these people. They cannot be appeased, only crushed; defeated. In Venezuela, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador or in Bolivia. They are like rats, like disease, proverbial symbols of fascism as in the novel The Plague, written by Albert Camus. They can hide, but they never fully disappear. They are always ready to invade, with zero notice, some happy city.

They are always ready to join forces with the West because their roots are in the West. They think precisely like the European conquerors, like North American imperialists. They have double nationalities and homes scattered all over the world. Latin America for them is just a place to live, and to plunder natural resources, exploit labor. They rob here, and spend money elsewhere; educate their children elsewhere, get their surgeries done (plastic and real) elsewhere. They go to opera houses in Paris but never mingle with indigenous people at home. Even if, by some miracle, they join the Left, it is the Western, anarcho-syndicalist Left of North America and Europe, never the real, anti-imperialist, revolutionary Left of non-European countries.

They don’t need the success of the nation. They don’t want a great, prosperous Bolivia; Bolivia for all of its citizens.

They only want prosperous corporations. They want money, profit for themselves, for their families and clans, for their bandit group of people. They want to be revered, considered ‘exceptional’, superior. They cannot live without that gap – the great gap between them and those ‘dirty Indians’, as they call the indigenous people when no one hears them!

*****

Stunning La Paz

And that is why Bolivia should fight, defend itself, as it is beginning to do so right now.

If this, what is happening to Evo and his government, is “the end”, then Bolivia will be set back by decades. Entire generations will again rot alive, in desperation, in rural shacks made of clay, without water and electricity, and without hope.

The ‘elites’ are now talking about ‘peace’, peace for whom? For them! Peace, as it was before Evo; ‘peace’ so the rich can play golf and fly for shopping to their beloved Miami and Madrid, while 90% of the population was getting kicked, humiliated, insulted. I remember that ‘peace’. The Bolivian people remember it even better.

I covered the civil war in neighboring Peru for several years in the 90’s, and I often crossed over into Bolivia. I wrote an entire novel about it, Point of No Return. It was an absolute horror. I could not even take my local photographers to a concert or for a cup of coffee in a decent place because they were cholos, indigenous. Nobodies in their own countries. It was apartheid. And if socialism does not return, it will be apartheid once again.

Last time I went to Bolivia, few months ago, it was totally different country. Free, confident. Stunning.

Remembering what I saw in Bolivia and Peru, quarter of a century ago, I declare, clearly and decisively: “To hell with such ‘peace’, proposed by elites’”!

*****

None of this is, of course, mentioned in Western mass media outlets. I am monitoring them, from the New York Times to Reuters. In the US, UK, even France. Their eyes are shining. They cannot hide their excitement; euphoria.

The same NYT celebrated the massacres during the 1965-66 US-orchestrated military coup in Indonesia or on 9-11-1973 in Chile.

Now Bolivia, predictably. Big smiles all over the West. Again, and again, ‘the findings’ of the OAS (Organization of American States) are being quoted as if they were facts; ‘the findings’ of an organization which is fully subservient to Western interests, particularly those of Washington.

It is as if by saying: “We have proof that a coup did not take place, because those who had organized the coup say that it actually did not happen.”

*****

In Paris, on November 10th, in the middle of the Place de la Republique, a huge crowd of treasonous Bolivians gathered, demanding the resignation of Evo. I filmed and photographed these people. I wanted to have this footage in my possession, for posterity.

They live in France, and their allegiances are towards the West. Some are even of European stock, although others are indigenous.

There are millions of Cubans, Venezuelans, Brazilians, living in the US and Europe, working tirelessly for the destruction of their former motherlands. They do it in order to please their new masters, to make profit, as well as various other reasons.

It is not peace. This is terrible, brutal war, which has already taken millions of lives in Latin America alone.

This continent has the most unequally distributed wealth on earth. Hundreds of millions are living in misery. While others, sons and daughters or Bolivian feudal scum, are attending Sorbonne and Cambridge to get intellectually conditioned in order to serve the West.

Each time, and I repeat each time, a decent, honest government is voted in, democratically, by the people, each time there is someone who has invented a brilliant solution and solid plan to improve this dire situation, the clock begins ticking. The years, (sometimes even months) of the leader are numbered. He or she will either be killed, or ousted, or humiliated and forced out of power.

The country then goes back to literally shit, as has happened just recently to Ecuador (under Moreno), Argentina (under Macri) and Brazil (under Bolsonaro). The brutal status quo is preserved. The lives of tens of millions are ruined. “Peace” returns. For the Western regime and its lackeys.

Then, as a raped country screams in pain, countless international NGO’s, UN agencies and funding organizations, descend  upon it, suddenly determined to ‘help refugees’, to keep children in classrooms, to ‘empower women’, or to fight malnutrition and hunger.

None of this would be needed if the elected governments which are serving their people were to be left alone; left in real peace!

All this sick, pathetic hypocrisy is never discussed publicly by the mass media. All this Western terrorism unleashed against progressive Latin American countries (and dozens of other countries, all over the world), is hushed up.

Enough is enough!

Latin America is, once again, waking up. The people are outraged. The coup in Bolivia will be resisted. Macri’s regime has fallen. Mexico is marching in a cautiously socialist direction. Chile wants its socialist country back, a country which was crushed by military boots in 1973.

In the name of the people, in the name of the great indigenous culture, and in the name of the entire continent, Bolivian citizens are now resisting, struggling, confronting the fascist, pro-Western forces.

Revolutionary language is once again being used. It may be out of fashion in Paris or London, but not in South America. And that is what matters – here!

For them we fight and will win

Evo did not lose. He won. His country has won. Under his leadership, it became a wonderful country; a country full of hope, a country that offered great prospects to hundreds of millions all over La Patria Grande. Everyone south of the Rio Grande knows it. Marvelous Mexico, which has given him asylum, knows it, too.

Evo has won. And then, he was forced out by the treasonous military, by treasonous business thugs, feudal land owners, and by Washington. Evo and his family and comrades have been brutalized by that extreme right-wing paramilitary leader – Luis Fernando Camacho who is calling himself a Christian; brutalized by him and by his men and women.

Bolivia will fight. It will bring back its legitimate President where he belongs — to the Presidential Palace.

The plane which is taking Evo to Mexico, north, is actually taking him home, back to Bolivia. It is a big, big detour. Thousands of kilometers, and months, perhaps even years… But from the moment the airplane took off, the tremendous epic journey back to La Paz began.

The people of Bolivia will never abandon their President. And Evo is forever tied to his People. And Long Live Bolivia, Damn It!

• Photos by Andre Vltchek

Evo overthrown but Bolivian Socialism will be victorious!

EVO YES, battered with graffitti .

They pledged to do it, and they did – Bolivian feudal lords, mass media magnates and other treasonous “elites” – they overthrew the government, broke hope and interrupted an extremely successful socialist process in what was once one of the poorest countries in South America.

One day they will be cursed by their own nation. One day they will stand trial for sedition. One day they will have to reveal who trained them, who employed them, who turned them into spineless beasts. One day! Hopefully soon.

But now, Evo Morales, legitimate President of Bolivia, elected again and again by his people, is leaving his beloved country. He is crossing the Andes, flying far, to fraternal Mexico, which extended her beautiful hand, and offered him political asylum.

This is now. The striking streets of La Paz are covered by smoke, full of soldiers, stained with blood. People are disappearing. They are being detained, beaten, and tortured. Photos of indigenous men and women, kneeling, facing walls, hands tied behind their backs, are beginning to circulate on social media.

Before a slum, now good town of El Alto

El Alto, until recently a place of hope, with its playgrounds for children and elegant cable cars connecting the once dirt-poor communities, is now beginning to lose its native sons and daughters. Battles are raging. People are charging against the oppressors, carrying flags, dying.

A civil war, or more precisely, a war for the survival of socialism, a war against imperialism, for social justice, for indigenous people. A war against racism. A war for Bolivia, for its tremendous pre-colonial culture, for life; life as it is being perceived in the Andes, or deep in the South American rainforest, not as it is seen in Paris, Washington or Madrid.

*****

The legacy of Evo Morales is tangible, and simple to understand.

During almost 14 years in power, all the social indicators of Bolivia went sky-high. Millions were pulled out of poverty. Millions have been benefiting from free medical care, free education, subsidized housing, improved infrastructure, a relatively high minimum wage, but also from pride that was given back to the indigenous population, which forms the majority in this historically feudal country governed by corrupt, ruthless ‘elites’ – descendants of Spanish conquistadors and European ‘gold-diggers’.

Indigenous people waiting for free medical care in La Paz

Evo Morales made the Aymara and Quechua languages official, on par with Spanish. He made people who communicate in these languages equal to those who use the tongue of the conquerors. He elevated the great indigenous culture high, to where it belongs – making it the symbol of Bolivia, and of the entire region.

Gone was the Christian cross-kissing (look at the crosses reappearing again, all around the oh so European-looking Jeanine Añez who has grabbed power, ‘temporarily’ but still thoroughly illegally). Instead, Evo used to travel, at least once a year, to Tiwanaku, “the capital of the powerful pre-Hispanic empire that dominated a large area of the southern Andes and beyond, reached its apogee between 500 and 900 AD”, according to UNESCO. That is where he used to search for spiritual peace. That is where his identity came from.

Gone was the veneration of the Western colonialist and imperialist culture, of savage capitalism.

This was a new world with ancient, deep roots. This is where South America has been regrouping. Here, and in Correa’s Ecuador, before Correa and his beliefs were purged and ousted by the treacherous Moreno.

And what is more: before the coup, Bolivia was not suffering from economic downfall; it was doing well, extremely well. It was growing, stable, reliable, confident.

Even the owners of big Bolivian companies, if they were to care one bit for Bolivia and its people, had countless reasons to rejoice.

*****

But the Bolivian business community, as in so many other Latin American countries, is obsessed with the one and only ‘indicator’: “how much higher, how much above the average citizens it can get”. This is the old mentality of the colonialists; a feudal, fascist mentality.

Years ago, I was invited, in La Paz, for dinner by an old family of senators and mass media owners. With no shame, no fear, openly, they spoke, despite knowing who I was:

“We will get rid of this Indigenous bastard. Who does he think he is? If we lose millions of dollars in the process, as we did in 1973 Chile and now in Venezuela, we will still do it. Restoring our order is the priority.

There is absolutely no way to reason with these people. They cannot be appeased, only crushed; defeated. In Venezuela, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador or in Bolivia. They are like rats, like disease, proverbial symbols of fascism as in the novel The Plague, written by Albert Camus. They can hide, but they never fully disappear. They are always ready to invade, with zero notice, some happy city.

They are always ready to join forces with the West because their roots are in the West. They think precisely like the European conquerors, like North American imperialists. They have double nationalities and homes scattered all over the world. Latin America for them is just a place to live, and to plunder natural resources, exploit labor. They rob here, and spend money elsewhere; educate their children elsewhere, get their surgeries done (plastic and real) elsewhere. They go to opera houses in Paris but never mingle with indigenous people at home. Even if, by some miracle, they join the Left, it is the Western, anarcho-syndicalist Left of North America and Europe, never the real, anti-imperialist, revolutionary Left of non-European countries.

They don’t need the success of the nation. They don’t want a great, prosperous Bolivia; Bolivia for all of its citizens.

They only want prosperous corporations. They want money, profit for themselves, for their families and clans, for their bandit group of people. They want to be revered, considered ‘exceptional’, superior. They cannot live without that gap – the great gap between them and those ‘dirty Indians’, as they call the indigenous people when no one hears them!

*****

Stunning La Paz

And that is why Bolivia should fight, defend itself, as it is beginning to do so right now.

If this, what is happening to Evo and his government, is “the end”, then Bolivia will be set back by decades. Entire generations will again rot alive, in desperation, in rural shacks made of clay, without water and electricity, and without hope.

The ‘elites’ are now talking about ‘peace’, peace for whom? For them! Peace, as it was before Evo; ‘peace’ so the rich can play golf and fly for shopping to their beloved Miami and Madrid, while 90% of the population was getting kicked, humiliated, insulted. I remember that ‘peace’. The Bolivian people remember it even better.

I covered the civil war in neighboring Peru for several years in the 90’s, and I often crossed over into Bolivia. I wrote an entire novel about it, Point of No Return. It was an absolute horror. I could not even take my local photographers to a concert or for a cup of coffee in a decent place because they were cholos, indigenous. Nobodies in their own countries. It was apartheid. And if socialism does not return, it will be apartheid once again.

Last time I went to Bolivia, few months ago, it was totally different country. Free, confident. Stunning.

Remembering what I saw in Bolivia and Peru, quarter of a century ago, I declare, clearly and decisively: “To hell with such ‘peace’, proposed by elites’”!

*****

None of this is, of course, mentioned in Western mass media outlets. I am monitoring them, from the New York Times to Reuters. In the US, UK, even France. Their eyes are shining. They cannot hide their excitement; euphoria.

The same NYT celebrated the massacres during the 1965-66 US-orchestrated military coup in Indonesia or on 9-11-1973 in Chile.

Now Bolivia, predictably. Big smiles all over the West. Again, and again, ‘the findings’ of the OAS (Organization of American States) are being quoted as if they were facts; ‘the findings’ of an organization which is fully subservient to Western interests, particularly those of Washington.

It is as if by saying: “We have proof that a coup did not take place, because those who had organized the coup say that it actually did not happen.”

*****

In Paris, on November 10th, in the middle of the Place de la Republique, a huge crowd of treasonous Bolivians gathered, demanding the resignation of Evo. I filmed and photographed these people. I wanted to have this footage in my possession, for posterity.

They live in France, and their allegiances are towards the West. Some are even of European stock, although others are indigenous.

There are millions of Cubans, Venezuelans, Brazilians, living in the US and Europe, working tirelessly for the destruction of their former motherlands. They do it in order to please their new masters, to make profit, as well as various other reasons.

It is not peace. This is terrible, brutal war, which has already taken millions of lives in Latin America alone.

This continent has the most unequally distributed wealth on earth. Hundreds of millions are living in misery. While others, sons and daughters or Bolivian feudal scum, are attending Sorbonne and Cambridge to get intellectually conditioned in order to serve the West.

Each time, and I repeat each time, a decent, honest government is voted in, democratically, by the people, each time there is someone who has invented a brilliant solution and solid plan to improve this dire situation, the clock begins ticking. The years, (sometimes even months) of the leader are numbered. He or she will either be killed, or ousted, or humiliated and forced out of power.

The country then goes back to literally shit, as has happened just recently to Ecuador (under Moreno), Argentina (under Macri) and Brazil (under Bolsonaro). The brutal status quo is preserved. The lives of tens of millions are ruined. “Peace” returns. For the Western regime and its lackeys.

Then, as a raped country screams in pain, countless international NGO’s, UN agencies and funding organizations, descend  upon it, suddenly determined to ‘help refugees’, to keep children in classrooms, to ‘empower women’, or to fight malnutrition and hunger.

None of this would be needed if the elected governments which are serving their people were to be left alone; left in real peace!

All this sick, pathetic hypocrisy is never discussed publicly by the mass media. All this Western terrorism unleashed against progressive Latin American countries (and dozens of other countries, all over the world), is hushed up.

Enough is enough!

Latin America is, once again, waking up. The people are outraged. The coup in Bolivia will be resisted. Macri’s regime has fallen. Mexico is marching in a cautiously socialist direction. Chile wants its socialist country back, a country which was crushed by military boots in 1973.

In the name of the people, in the name of the great indigenous culture, and in the name of the entire continent, Bolivian citizens are now resisting, struggling, confronting the fascist, pro-Western forces.

Revolutionary language is once again being used. It may be out of fashion in Paris or London, but not in South America. And that is what matters – here!

For them we fight and will win

Evo did not lose. He won. His country has won. Under his leadership, it became a wonderful country; a country full of hope, a country that offered great prospects to hundreds of millions all over La Patria Grande. Everyone south of the Rio Grande knows it. Marvelous Mexico, which has given him asylum, knows it, too.

Evo has won. And then, he was forced out by the treasonous military, by treasonous business thugs, feudal land owners, and by Washington. Evo and his family and comrades have been brutalized by that extreme right-wing paramilitary leader – Luis Fernando Camacho who is calling himself a Christian; brutalized by him and by his men and women.

Bolivia will fight. It will bring back its legitimate President where he belongs — to the Presidential Palace.

The plane which is taking Evo to Mexico, north, is actually taking him home, back to Bolivia. It is a big, big detour. Thousands of kilometers, and months, perhaps even years… But from the moment the airplane took off, the tremendous epic journey back to La Paz began.

The people of Bolivia will never abandon their President. And Evo is forever tied to his People. And Long Live Bolivia, Damn It!

• Photos by Andre Vltchek