Sunday, February 27, 2022

Spectacle, Simulation and Sycophancy in the Liberal Imperialist West


Uncritical sycophancy towards the United States and its geopolitical interests is not journalism. If this is what you do, reproduce the narrative and world perspective of America, and call it ‘journalism,’ you are a fraud. At the best of times, Canadian media is a sleaze-den of nihilist cretins, stepping over one another to grovel before existing power in society and more acutely tap into the precise kind of stupid which gets them paid to express it. The conflict in Ukraine, however, has driven this gibbering heap into the most absurd and incredible frenzy. The fearsome eastern man has come to take their homes and brutalize their families, or what amounts to the same, the barbarian slav threatens and menaces a kind of affluent white herrenvolk polity which, in that respect, resembles their own settler-state. This is what Ukraine stands for right now, and it is why it is both the apex of international white supremacist militant organization, and the cause celebre of the Western chattering classes. This cacophonous melange of idiots and bumpkins is convulsed and howling for blood.

The worst of the freaks, bobbleheads and dummies who populate Canada’s mediasphere is Justin Ling, a shambling opportunist lich, a sniveling, grovelling apologist and propagandist for existing state power in Canada as an imperialist vassal state. A grown up Randall J. Weems from the show Recess tattletale. A NARC bottom-feeder having floated up from the depths of the ghouls and cretins at the Halifax Security Forum. Every form of liberal imperialism and chauvinist opportunism which has presented itself in the past decade, that slithering Iago, Ling, has thrown himself into it. He cheerled for Al Qaeda in Syria, he endorsed the US-orchestrated coup against Evo Morales and its comprador fascist ringleader Jean Áñez, and, most importantly, he has made a career out of deflecting and running interference against legitimate criticism of Canadian Liberal Deputy Prime-Minister Chystia Freeland and her Nazi-collaborationist heritage and orientation.

It is important, especially for the present context, to emphasize the power which Chrystia Freeland exercises over the Government and its foreign policy. The Liberal’s foreign policy is effectively decided by Freeland by fiat, and exercised, right now, by Melanie Joly. This is important because the extent to which the Liberal Government has endorsed extremely reactionary historical narratives promoted by a far right wing Ukrainian diaspora in Canada has been a matter of intense domestic controversy for years. While there are many parts to this story, it is perhaps best captured by a 2017 story from the Ottawa Citizen’s David Pugliese, “Chrystia Freeland’s granddadwas indeed a Nazi collaborator – so much for Russiandisinformation.” As Pugliese noted, Freeland's grandfather Michael Chomiak "fled with his Nazi colleages as the Russians advanced into Poland." For description of the content of Chomiak’s publication, Pugliese cites the Los Angeles Holocaust Museum: "soliciting Ukrainian support for the German cause," "silencing the mass killing of Jews in Galicia" and "official Nazi propaganda." This story was journalism. It challenged power and asserted truth. That is journalism.

Well, of course Ling reviled from it immediately, and has vociferously ever since. It told inconvenient truths about one of the most prominent boots on Ling’s licking roster. Exposure of such truths is anathema to the function of journalism as Ling understand it: to reproduce the approved and official view of state power, as inviolable truth, and never to subject even a single utterance of extant political power to even the slightest breeze of scrutiny. To Ling, highlighting the family history of Freeland is ‘Russian disinformation.’ Entirely true, relevant to the circumstances, so how is it possibly ‘disinformation’? Simple. This information has not been approved by the official and approved approval agencies of the imperialist states – the Atlantic Council, DFRLab, Bellingcat, a whole universe of liberal imperialist NGOs whose sole purpose is to police fidelity to the geostrategic objectives of the United States and NATO. To ‘journalists’ like Ling, the thing asserted as truth by this panoply of agencies is truth, irrespective of its objective, empirical validity, or lack thereof. Ling cheerled for Al-Qaeda because these bodies told him to, he held the US-orchestrated coup against Evo Morales legitimate because these bodies instructed him this to be the case, and he calls things like pointing out observable facts about the world situation and its players and characters ‘disinformation,’ even when they are true, if they offend the state-sanctioned narrative of truth he subscribes to.

This story is well worth remembering today, as the Liberal Government is in a desperate, otherwise inscrutable frenzy to provoke and exacerbate war in Eastern Europe. In these circumstances, the erroneous deployment of ‘disinformation’ is itself driven out of all proportion, and applied to any constellation of facts which does not directly serve the war effort of NATO. To bobble-heads like Ling, ensconced in their platform bunkers, every single thing asserted by the US and its immediate vassal states is de facto truth, and everything and anything which contradicts such assertions is de facto false. The most wild and unbelievable of assertions are made concerning the conflict in Ukraine, and barely any of such assertions are subject to any criticism or scrutiny whatsoever, so long as it accords with NATO dictates. It is not merely that this view, call it ‘Ling-brain-on-war,’ I guess, merely censors competing accounts, but it moreover mass produces untruth, a vast geyser of demonstrably false horseshit which is permitted to spew on the largest communications mouthpieces, going unchecked solely in virtue of it being convenient in the moment of a jingoistic push for war.

On February 26, on CBC News, host Natasha Fatah conducted a lengthy interview with a Ukrainian partisan in Canada collecting money to send weapons to Western Ukraine. This ‘interview’ was incredible for both its length and the extent to which it merely provided a platform for this Ukrainian partisan to extol the virtues of Ukrainian militarism and implore NATO to put boots on the ground in Ukraine. Each question from Fatah was a soft-ball ‘yes, aren’t they brave,’ ‘so you say you would like boots on the ground?’ This is a fundamental failure of journalism, an abject failure. A nightmare of non-journalism, for which Ms. Fatah should be profoundly ashamed.

The CBC has been the object of ridicule for its pro-war, pro-militarist bias for years. Habitually, over and over, paid advocates for weapons companies like General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon, and right wing ghouls like John Bolton, are platformed for their ‘expertise’ on foreign affairs. This bias is a consequence of the rabid liberal imperialism of the affluent white management-editorial caste which has monopolized the CBC – primary Brodie Fenlon, Paul Hambleton and Chuck Thompson – to the exclusion of all other perspectives. It is sad, and wild, however, to see someone like Fatah so compliantly and cheaply used as a backdrop for open and unvarnished pro-war and pro-NATO propaganda. And that is the point with this farcical circus in Canadian media, are they not ashamed of being so pliant and malleable? Are they not mortified at being stenographers and mouthpieces for whatever orientation is handed down to them?

Canada’s elder statesman pundit Andrew Coyne has thrown himself behind the Ukrainian cause with enthusiasm. On Saturday, Coyne retweeted the SNL cold-opening singing jingo songs in Ukrainian peasant garb. How can they not itch slathered in their own absurdity? Coyne presents himself as the kind of wisened and considered commentator whose leatherbound tomes would occupy the bookshelves of the Laurentian literati for a decade or two. But there could be no more corrosive force to this presentation than the jingoistic oaf fervour he presently seized by.

Let us review what is really significant in this instance. In 2014 the US orchestrated a coup against the democratically elected leader of Ukraine, the intentions of which were to economically integrate the territory of Ukraine into the US sphere. This was a profoundly hostile and belligerent act. One of the consequences of this act was to strand and maroon an overwhelmingly culturally, ethnically and linguistically Russian people in the east in a country they no longer understood or felt wanted in. The deposed President, indeed, was from Donetsk. Independence in these regions was, in fact, immediately subject to a referendum. In the aftermath of the pro-US 2014 coup, the Donbas region, just as Crimea did, voted overwhelmingly for independence, with an overwhelming turnout. But whereas Russia was, at the time, content to suffer the blowback for recognizing the results of Crimea’s referendum, it urged the Donbas region to work towards its implementation. Over the past eight years, the US and its local proxies in first the Poroshenko Government, then the Zelensky Government, have allowed Neo-Nazi battalions in the east to harass, shell, menace and ethnically persecute these regions. Fifteen thousand people have died in the Donbas region between 2014 and 2022. The US, and Canada, have consistently provided military aid to these Ukrainian paramilitaries, including the explicitly Neo-Nazi Azov Battalion. The so-called Minsk Agreements called upon Ukraine to recognize the particularities of these eastern regions, allow for their self-government, to withdraw its paramilitaries from around these regions, and to implement a program of economic recovery. None of this was done. The opposite was done. In January and February of 2021, Ukrainian paramilitaries ramped up their persecution of these regions, in concert with the United States, as a pretext for war.

So when the Western media now cries crocodile tears and portrays the Ukrainians as innocent lambs, or noble warriors, unblemished by moral taint, you should spit it at their feet. A band of robber barons and their American patrons stole Ukraine in the dead of night, and now want the world to forget it and beat the war drums with them. The post-coup Governments could have committed to the implementation of the Minsk Agreements, and could have pursued a path of peace with and development for the eastern regions, and they did not. Rather they kept them locked up in the closet, shelled every day, beaten like dogs, for eight long years, and something, unfortunately, was going to break.

This conflict is obscured, not illuminated, by the pious jingoism of the liberal imperialist dummies draped from head to foot in blue and yellow. The massive and enduring deficit of historical knowledge which their shabby sabre-rattling requires is a bumbling and pathetic insult to what this situation requires in terms of explication and articulation towards de-escalation and peace.

Canada is set up to fail in this instance. Our foreign policy is essentially determined, in the last instance, by a virulent Ukrainian fascist, Chrystia Freeland. And, make no mistake, Chrystia Freeland is a fascist, and has acted as one throughout the world during her tenure. And our media is so anemic, stupid and cultivated to produce even a modicum of critical analysis. As Jay Watts has noted, the only possible outcome is for Canada’s undersized influence on the world stage to be severely apparent and ridiculous. Nobody wants this war more than Canada, not even America. We are the yipping, rabid attack dog at America’s heel under Trudeau and Freeland, no less than we would have been under any of the various pasty white gentlemen who vie for the Conservative leadership. But that makes it even more important to highlight how and why it is that Canada, of all places, is baying for blood and desperate to inaugurate World War Three.

Nobody wants war and conflict, but permitting for only the monological expression of a farcical, one-sided and absurd pro-Ukrainian narrative, rather than doing anything to alleviate the conflict, in fact profoundly exacerbates and pours fuel on the fire. No, Western Ukrainians are not deserving of Russian occupation, and their legitimate interests in self-determination ought to be respected. So, too, should the legitimate interests of the eastern regions of the People’s Republic of Donetsk and Luhansk in self-determination be respected. And, yes, the entirely legitimate and reasonable interests which Russia possesses in its own security and development, which the US has ever sought to trench on, ought to be respected. The one-sidedness of the debate right now is incredible. To suggest that the US and NATO are not benign, still less benevolent, entities gets one accused of being a Putin-lover. And yet the liberal imperialist bobble-heads, baying for blood, consider it totally normal and sane to cosplay as Ukrainian peasants and rehearse the Ukrainian blood and soil myth on primetime!

This entire situation is an excuse for the most affluent liberal shitheads to beat their emaciated little chests and feel pious for cheering for Nazi battalions. Don’t fear offence in rejecting this monological NATO narrative and its pious bobblehead policemen, because that is what actual journalism is, presenting facts which unsettle the powerful where and when you are. If there is to be any chance at a peaceful resolution of the conflict, it will come from ravenously and mercilessly attacking this kind of sycophancy for officialdom.



Thursday, February 24, 2022

Specific Imperialism and Social-Chauvinist Forgetting in Ukraine and Canada



The events in Eastern Europe over the past days and weeks have shocked and concerned the world, and everyone’s focus and attention is rightly on efforts to de-escalate the situation and resolve even strong differences peacefully. But the discussion invariably turns acrimonious once one attempts to analyze whose actions are really impeding peace and development. The dominant view promulgated in the West, most prominently in its privately owned means of communication, like MSNBC, the New York Times, Reuters, Bloomberg, the WSJ, etc holds that the barbarian hun simply struck, out of the blue, with no reason or cause whatsoever, as an expression of their backwardsness and unenlightenment.

Liberals, of course, have thrown themselves into this farce with aplomb. Adorned with their Je Suis Ukraine facebook banners and yellow and blue twitter handles, they e-transfer their pennies to the Roman Shukhevych memorial foundation. It is sickening, really. What is a hundred and fifty casualties in comparison with the fifteen thousand who have died in the Donbas over the past eight years? These people don’t know and don’t care, they’ve been told by their favourite liberal plutocrat celebutantes to be outraged, and shake their little fists with indignation. Many of them would not have been able to locate Ukraine on a map a month ago, but now it is their cause célèbre.

It would be bad enough for this view to be held by the owning class and their self-identified mouthpieces and idiots, but what is worse is when self-professed ‘socialists’ do the owner’s work and promote such imperialist canards. In Lenin’s Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism, Lenin reproaches Kautsky for his narrowly political understanding of imperialism, his having contained it to narrowly national question. Kautsky’s understanding of imperialism, Lenin writes, amounts to merely a thirst for annexations. Lenin says that Kautsky's definition is wrong because it elides that contemporary imperialist interests reflect a preference for annexations of highly industrialized areas, as well as the role of the development of productive forces in securing such annexations, and thus misses whose specific interests that preference reflects, ie financiers. Lenin charges that Kautsky concertedly elides this because he is representative of a kind of onlooker whose real interests are in obscuring, rather that illuminating, the real implications of the ubiquity of the monopoly form. This, Lenin finds, is social-chauvinism, the effort to reconcile the interests of the working class to those of their own monopoly imperialist formation.

Lenin charges that Kautsky believed in the possibility of a benevolent and pacific superimperialism, meant in the sense of a harmonious and perpetual division of the world along capitalist lines. Lenin charges that the intention of the social chauvinist 'socialists,' like Kautsky, is to obscure the reality that, as long as society is still stratified along the lines of a class division between those who possess the means of production and exchange, and those who merely sell their labour to obtain the means of subsistence, "are inevitably nothing more than a 'truce' in periods between wars." [V I Lenin "Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916)" Collected Works Vol XXII (New York: Progress, 1963), 295] Kautsky's analysis of imperialism is "permeated through and through with a spirit, absolutely irreconcilable wit Marxism, of obscuring and glossing over the fundamental contradictions of imperialism." [V I Lenin "Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916)" Collected Works Vol XXII (New York: Progress, 1963), 298]

In promoting the notion of a perpetual and stable super-imperialist alliance of the monopoly capitalist states and their associations for the purposes of the exploitation of the world, Kautsky obscures the actual development of imperialism. "Instead of showing the living connection between periods of imperialist peace and periods of imperialist war, Kautsky presents the workers with a lifeless abstraction in order to reconcile them to their lifeless leaders." [V I Lenin "Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916)" Collected Works Vol XXII (New York: Progress, 1963), 296]

"We ask, is it 'conceivable,' assuming that the capitalist system remains intact - and this is precisely the assumption Kautsky does make - that such alliances would be more than temporary, that they would eliminate friction, conflicts and struggle in every possible form?

The question has only to be presented clearly for other than a negative answer to be impossible. This is because the only conceivable basis under capitalism for the division of spheres of influence, interests, colonies, etc., is a calculation of the strength of those participating, their general economic, financial, military strength, etc. And the strength of these participants in the division does not change to an equal degree, for the even development of different undertakings, trusts, branches of history, or countries is impossible under capitalism. Half a century ago Germany was a miserable, insignificant country, if her capitalist strength is compared with Britain of that time; Japan is compared with Russia in the same way. Is it 'conceivable' that in ten or twenty years' time the relative strength of the imperialist powers will have remained unchanged? It is out of the question."

V I Lenin "Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916)" Collected Works Vol XXII (New York: Progress, 1963), 295.

The conflict in the Donbas today reflects the impossibility of lasting peace under conditions of capitalism, as articulated by Lenin in Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism. It reflects the falsity and unreality of the contention of the End of History made by American NeoConservatives like Francis Fukuyama thirty years ago, and its corollary in the metaphysical nihilism of Lyotard’s purported transcendence of meta-narratives. Society is still wracked by contradiction, a result of class stratification and its implication on the world stage, competition between monopoly capitalist blocs. So long as the development of the means of production and exchange in the world remains alienated by the monopoly capitalist form, conditions of peace will be irregular and punctuated by war.

A previously settled division of the world among great powers and their respective trusts and associations, under the aegis of the United States, is today coming undone, and the efforts of the United States to preserve and extend its sphere of accumulation in the face of a shifting balance of power among those powers is provoking war. The US orchestrated Maidan coup of 2014, as well as the exploitation of Ukraine’s natural resources, and the ethnic persecution of Russian-speaking regions in the east, are hostile acts of war by the United States against Russia.

The pro-war liberal imperialist position requires forgetting and obliviousness, well delineated and concerted stupidity. It requires forgetting the cynical efforts of the United States in weaponizing radicalized jihadi variants of Islam against the former Soviet Union, and the decades of horrors that this gave rise to across the middle east. It requires forgetting the aggressive eastern movement of the US-led military alliance, NATO, right up to and along Russia’s borders. It requires forgetting that the illegal US-orchestrated coup of 2014 was against a governor from those eastern regions. It requires forgetting that it was Ukraine which violated the Minsk agreements, which required acknowledgement of the particularities of the eastern regions of Donestsk and Luhansk, acceptance of their self-government, withdrawal of paramilitaries from those territories, and a program of economic recovery implemented for these regions. It requires forgetting that Ukraine did the opposite, and that the last eight years have been marked by constant shelling, harassment, ethnic persecution against these regions.

The mistake made by those who disclaim the conflict as merely differing orientations of statecraft is in misperceiving imperialism as disconnected from calculated accumulation, just as Kautsky did. The efforts to integrate Ukraine into the Western sphere of accumulation – the political battle between, on the one hand, a pro-Western Ukrainian comprador elite, who favoured disconnection with Russia, and the ideological rehabilitation of Ukraine’s legacy of Nazi collaboration, and, on the other, the institutional public sphere which was, much as Belarus still is today, basically a relatively autonomous adjunct of the Russian state, and culminating in the Maidan coup of 2014 – has everything to do with the division of territories among the competing great powers, specifically in terms of their relative accumulation. The Maidan coup of 2014 reflects, in effect, the economic theft of Ukraine by the West against Russia, it was a revolution of petty Ukrainian capitalists, in concert with their big money accomplices in the West, against the Ukrainian people. Draped in the finery of mostly mythological blood and soil myth, the Maidan of 2014 was in fact an act of war by the United States against Russia, having very little, if anything, to do with ‘freedom’ for Ukrainians themselves.

Chrystia Freeland is having a field day, of course, and has ostensibly flung open the border to Ukrainians who wish to immigrate to Canada. Canada, a settler-colonial imperialist state, fosters and encourages reaction abroad, and then provides greater freedom of movement to the reactionaries, of course. The requirements of actively produced propaganda for belligerence against Russia in this instance, however, produce the most absurd of consequences, where the Russian is identified with the caricature of a barbaric slav, but the Ukrainian, apparently inexplicably, is not. The contention that the overwhelming majority of Russian people are either stupid, or oppressed, or that Putin is acting without their endorsement, is an orientalist trope. It supplants an actual analysis of the situation with a comforting liberal-imperialist mythology of subduing the unenlightened peripheral upstart.

The social chauvinist must necessary gloss over the repeated failures to even attempt to implement the Minsk agreements on the part of Ukraine, they must avoid confronting the reality of fear and persecution visited upon the people’s of Donetsk and Luhansk over the past eight years, they must necessarily be indifferent to their alienation and misery. Such social chauvinists must necessarily avert their eyes from right-wing fascist and terrorist influences in Ukraine, and ignore that the Ukrainian state has joined in the promotion of an official state blood and soil mythology, and the ideological rehabilitation of perpetrators of the holocaust. The social chauvinist must necessary elide, ignore, or block out acknowledgement of the human rights violations perpetrated by officially integrated Neo-Nazi regiments in the Ukrainian armed forces, as well as the fact that these regiments have become a nexus of support for white supremacist elements in the West.

The Russian intervention in Ukraine is already over, for all intents and purposes. It lasted approximately an hour and a half for Russia to demonstrate its overwhelming military superiority over Ukraine, with targeted eliminations of its major military infrastructure, and a relative minimum of casualties. The effort to televisually amplify or contort its extent for demagogic purposes in the West is overwhelming. Elements in the imperialist state most under the sway of financier interests are baying for blood in retaliation. Weapons companies in the West are already salivating.

As tempting as it may be for self-professed ‘socialists’ to be disclaiming Vladimir Putin, and participating in the pious demonization of the irrational slavic despot, this would be a profound betrayal of truth and the working class of all nations, to whom the obligation is to oppose the mystifications of the owning class. Now, instead, is the time to forcefully advance what the outbreak of hostilities really reflects: the effects of the United States efforts to assert hegemony over more and more territory, and more and more economically developed territory, and to integrate these territories into its own sphere of accumulation. However much you may dislike war and conflict, the war and conflict neither started, nor will end, with Russia’s intervention in Ukraine. In many respects the conflict began with the 2014 coup, and any efforts at de-escalation now must needs centre that truth in its discussion of the reasonable expectations of most average everyday Ukrainians, alike with the reasonable expectations of those in the east who have a radically different orientation to the events of 2014. The liberal imperialist press likes to portray what occurred in Crimea in 2014 as an annexation, but this contention elides that the population of Crimea, with an over 80 per cent turnout, voted to leave Ukraine in 2014 in the aftermath of the pro-US coup. Censoring this point is exemplary of the kind of social chauvinist forgetting which aim at papering over the real nature of monopoly capitalist imperialism and its irreconcilable contradictions. Participating in cynical liberal imperialist jingoism against Russia today, especially by means of social chauvinist myopia and forgetting, is objectively siding with the monopoly interests of the United States and its immediate sub-imperial vassal states.

The 2014 Maidan coup was an act of martial economic theft by the United States against Russia. It dramatically impacted the national security calculations of Russia, with a pro-Western vassal suddenly immediately on its doorstep, being armed and trained by NATO functionaries, and it carved up and privatized the energy resources of Ukraine. Worst of all, it marooned several overwhelmingly Russian speaking peoples in the east feeling out of place, persecuted, and militarily threatened by far right wing paramilitary thugs sanctioned by the newly minted pro-Western Ukrainian government.

The last eight years have been hell on earth for these peoples, who have proclaimed independence and been recognized by Russia these past weeks, the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. These people were perpetually let down and immiserated by Ukraine’s refusal to take the steps agreed to in the Minsk agreements. Ukraine did not take steps to ensure that these peoples’ would not be menaced by Neo-Nazi thugs along racial and ethnic lines. Ukraine did not implement a program of economic recovery for these regions. Rather, Ukraine allowed these regions to descend down into omnipresent low-grade civil war for eight years, with enormous casualties and degradation of quality of life. The Russian intervention is the direct consequence of this failure on the part of Ukraine and its Western patrons to even decently ameliorate the consequences of their political and economic annexation of Ukraine.

As we think about the events of the past week, we should keep in mind not only the interests of Western Ukrainians to be free from military aggression, certainly, but we should keep it in mind no degree less than the right of Eastern Ukrainians to be free from military aggression, too. The Russian assault on Ukraine has been immediate and overwhelming, the Western Ukrainian assault on the eastern regions has been a slow and grinding siege, but neither are to the benefit of the people involved, and both are reflective of the changed geopolitical situation. The United States can expend resources to destabilize states on the frontier of NATO and integrate them into its sphere of accumulation, just as it has been able to do for many decades. However Russia, far moreso than in the past, can expend resources to militarily oppose this attempted expansion and economic integration by the US and its immediate vassal-states. Both reflect the intractability of conflict and contradiction under conditions of monopoly imperialism, the changing balance of power, contingent on both political and economic factors each in their own development.

As the United States attempts to destabilize states on the periphery of NATO and integrate them into the US’s own sphere of accumulation, this will be, increasingly, met with military pushback from states which are increasingly able to marshal this pushback as a result of their own economic growth, and the relative decline of the United States. In order to put an end to these kinds of conflicts, akin to those in Iraq, Libya, and Syria, it is imperative to expose the real interests which mobilize such conflicts, namely, the interest which the owning class has in capitalist accumulation and the extension of the monopoly capitalist form. Explicit financial, military and propaganda support for the most reactionary elements on the periphery of the sphere of accumulation of the United States is illustrative of how durable and sustainable peace is ultimately not possible under conditions of monopoly imperialist capitalism.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Anti-Democracy: Fear and Loathing in the Greens and NDP


 

Annamie Paul says that she disagrees with the criticism of the illegal Israeli evictions of Palestinians in East Jerusalem and of illegal Israeli bombing in Gaza expressed by her [dwindling] fellow MPs, but that they are nonetheless ‘free to believe those things’ without sanction. Unless, of course, the sanction is being badmouthed and slandered for days by your mouth-frothily Zionist advisor, in which case Ms Paul doesn’t think its the membership of the Green Party’s business if she lets this go on. Is this just a case of a neoliberal bobble-head celebutante accidentally setting fire to her own house? Or does this sudden convulsion within the Greens tell us anything about how politics functions in the present moment. Is it not the case that the entire old-guard of the Greens, including Elizabeth May, flocked to Paul only last year to avoid the election of a socialist? What was the bargain which was secured in that election for Paul, on the one hand, and that party brass, on the other? It was the same thing which Jagmeet Singh secured in 2017 with the old guard party brass of the NDP: the position of ‘leader’ in exchange for a pledge to not fundamentally alter anything about the undemocratic and not at all transparent Party structure. They are entitled to shift the discourse within their respective Parties towards acknowledging the systematically racist nature of Canadian Settler-Colonial society, but if they do so to such an extent as to impinge upon the conservative and liberal politics of their respective Party’s structures, then their positions are imperiled.

The difference between them is that whereas Jagmeet Singh has scrupulously kept to his initial bargain, never made any serious attempt to alter its parameters, simply resigning himself to the role of inert PoC figurehead, and shrinks from any confrontation with ‘his’ Provincial lieutenants in Horgan and Notley, Annamie Paul has now openly proclaimed the abrogation of her bargain in a fit of self-aggrandizement – the Green Party is to be the Annamie Paul Party, and nothing else. Members voted her in and the opportunity for their input has thus come and passed, all cogitation and deliberation has been concentrated in her own person, no one else need opine or intone, divine truth is revealed to her. Singh, for his part, is nothing like this. Singh has never contemplated the democratization of the NDP Party apparatus, and has adopted the paranoia of his surrounding coterie, clique and court, and thus would never say anything in a Tik-Tok which hadn’t been focus tested, freeze-dried, and reheated. 

But where they are the same, however, is overwhelming: victims of this unequal bargain, where they get to be the face on the ads, but only on condition that they subordinate themselves to the political apparati of affluent white liberals, within or without the Liberal Party. Both Singh and Paul are liberals, irrespective of being the ‘leaders’ of the NDP and the Greens, respectively, and they are liberal precisely in their supplicating themselves to the strictures and parameters of the possible dictated by an unelected, affluent, and predominantly white caste of Party familiars, fixers, and deciders. Paul is to be commended, in fact, for arming herself against this structure in the Green Party, for it is as contemptuous towards democracy, really, as she is. But what is she arming herself against it regarding? Is it some point of noble principle integrally connected to her experience and presence in the party, which she alone could give voice to? No, it is the length of time which is appropriate for her dipshit advisor to be trashing sitting MPs. Quel dommage.

The leaked audio of Paul’s discussion with Green Party National Councilors is really incredible for the stark view of the stakes and conditions of this kind of spectacular neoliberal politics: Paul’s position is that she doesn’t have to consult with the membership of the Green Party to determine how long to let deranged Zionists in her own office slag off sitting Green MPs - that, she says, is a matter she is entitled to decide without any input from anyone. The membership of the Green Party, she says, aren’t entitled to even be kept abreast of the existence of disagreement. All is to be conducted in secret, in private, behind closed doors. And this, - this! - is what Annamie Paul and Jagmeet Singh have so singularly in common: their belief in and adherence to anti-democracy.

At the 2018 NDP Convention, a motion was passed which called upon the NDP Executive to, for their very next Convention, solicit and publish resolutions four months in advance of the Convention to allow for their consideration and prioritization by NDP membership. It did not call for a harried prioritization by delegate-fees-paying delegates to the Convention, it called for their publication in advance precisely so that resolutions could be considered and prioritized by NDP membership within their local EDAs. This motion, passed at the 2018 NDP Convention, was called “Modernization and Democratization of Convention Resolution Process (7-45-18)." After years of simply not having a Convention, in contravention of the NDP’s own Constitution, was this resolution passed at the 2018 Convention implemented? Heavens no! The 2021 NDP Convention was, by all accounts – even the sympathetic to sycophantic and apologetic – a harried, undemocratic top down affair in which there was very little time to debate or pass resolutions. This was by design! It was a clause in the bargain made between Singh and the reactionary liberal fragment within the NDP, that democratic intervention into Party Policy be strictly circumscribed, perfunctory and onerous. Jagmeet is fine with this level of contempt for membership and democracy because it limits the amount of things Jagmeet Singh and his wavy-gravy ‘brain trust’ have to cogitate. Having to somehow rationalize the sole passed resolution of consequence, calling on Canada to not sell arms to Israel and to not trade with illegal Israeli settlements such as to enforce compliance with International Law, nearly broke their tiny brains. Whereas in Paul’s case, this antagonism has broken her brain, precisely because she is only capable of interpreting this antagonism as an interpersonal conflict of which she is disinterested. She doesn’t care about MPs being flamed for criticizing Israel when it is illegally evicting Palestinian residents in East Jerusalem or illegally bombing Gaza because she doesn’t care about Palestinians. Where Singh is agnostic on the belief in the existence of the oppressed Palestinian people, Annamie Paul is a true-believer in their non-existence. She is a partisan for the apartheid State of Israel, and in this respect she stands totally opposed to the already passed Green Policy of favouring boycotts, divestment and sanctions to compel compliance by Israel to International Law.

What both Singh and Paul practice is a kind of cynical false politics, anti-politics, non-politics, sub-politics, post-politics, where the material stakes of democratic politics recede behind their own personal Id-Pol markers, personal mythos, and cult of personality, and is superdetermined by them. This is the means by which the liberal party within the New Democratic Party maintains its political hold on the Party, and this is how the liberal party within the Green Party maintains its hold on the Party. It is the means by which liberalism is effected and ensured within these parties. Thus, it is a variant of social chauvinism, one whose means and mechanism is an asymmetrical reltationship between a charistmatic PoC leader who has the requisite Id-Pol markers, personal mythos and cult of personality, on the one hand, and a liberal party fragment working externally to the Liberal Party to ensure that the interests of the owning class are reflected within those other Parties. They are liberals who calculate their self-advantage in political life in being a liberal outside of the Liberal Party, rather than in, just as Jody Wilson-Raybould did upon being subject to “a consistent and sustained effort by many people within the government to seek to politically interfere in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion” for SNC-Lavalin, a large Liberal donor. But, taking their show on the road, they replicate the liberalism of the Liberal Party within these third Parties who notionally stand for something other than liberalism.

Without the charismatic PoC ‘leader,’ in each of these other Parties which notionally stand for something other than liberalism the rotten and reactionary liberal Party fragment, working to reproduce liberalism within those Parties other than the Liberal Party, would be unmoored and shipwrecked! Without the reactionary liberal Party fragment within the other Parties’ support, the charismatic PoC leader would flounder and be pilloried in the privately owned presses. They exist in a symbiotic relationship with one another. The charismatic PoC ‘Party leader’ is the iron-lung for reactionary, affluent, white and settler-colonial liberals within the Green Party, and indeed within the NDP.

Whether they want to or not is ultimately beside the point: the position which Jagmeet Singh and Annamie Paul are in is structurally anti-democratic because they are not entitled to offer up democracy to the membership of their respective Parties, insofar as doing so would violate the bargain they made with the forces which put them into the ‘leadership’ of their respective Parties, would bring them into conflict with those forces, and would threaten their position. Insofar as they are structurally incapable of offering up democracy, either notionally or practically, Singh contents himself to exist as a televisual mascot for deeply unimaginative vestigial Blairite politics, whereas Paul indulges in convulsions of messianic neoliberalism and gossipy, catty, self-interested political intrigues like letting her sitting MPs get slandered and blaming the MP who left.

This stagnation and decrepitude of the NDP, and these irrational convulsions within the Green Party, are products of the same cause: the forcible censorship and suppression of ideological and political disagreement, their contemplation and discussion banished to behind closed doors and not subject to democratic intervention by the membership of the respective Parties at all. On the part of the Green Party, contemporary environmental politics must needs be connected to an anti-Capitalist and anti-Imperialist orientation which Ms Paul does not share and does not care for. Her reaction against the Green Party caste is neither revolutionary nor particularly interesting, it is more self-messianic hagiography than anything else. On the part of the NDP, Singh is more and more the face of total impotence with respect to the environmental hypocrisy of the Provincial sections which merely piles up around him while he looks on helplessly. He is allowed, of course, to posture towards and blame Trudeau, but never to heap calumny upon those actually responsible, ie ‘his’ Provincial lieutenants. He is content to ‘lay low’ and keep the job of ‘leader’ for as long as he can, irrespective of whether he ever understands or gives voice to anything of any importance or significant whatsoever – he couldn’t pick significance out of a police line-up. Singh’s political motto is 1000 days as a sheep. Paul’s is 1 day as a lion, but let loose in a petting zoo. Singh participates in the spectacle, Paul reacts against it in a purely self-interested and self-absorbed way, neither of these things is democracy, neither of these things is novel or interesting or revolutionary, they are just two variants of the same anti-democratic neoliberal scam.

The sine-qua-non of liberal politics today is two-facedness: on the one hand you have the pseudo-universalist baffle-gab platitudes rehearsed in public, and behind the scenes a cynical and calculative effort to preserve brand celebrities and interests of the owning class. And that is as much true of today’s Green Party as today’s ‘New Democratic’ Party. It is the way that liberalism is maintained in these Parties. A plague on both their houses. If Jagmeet Singh and Annamie Paul would be revolutionary but are constrained by the structures and systems of their respective Parties, they are to be pitied, and if they would not be, and could only contemplate a philosophical horizon of their own personal brand and vibe, and endless self-interested hagiography of themselves, and aren’t interested in democratizing the NDP or the Green Party, then they are to be loathed.


Thursday, December 10, 2020

Liberal-Imperialist Weaponization of Human Rights Discourse on Behalf of US Empire in Venezuela and China 2010 - 2020

 

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The Liberal-Imperialist weaponization of Human Rights discourse is an element and component of Indirect Intervention, meant to undermine the Sovereignty and Self-Determination of Socialist and Subaltern States to the benefit of Hegemonic Imperialist States, most especially the United States.1 The Principle of Non-Intervention contains within it a historically determined Class component.2 Failure or refusal to recognize the content of this historically fought for and won Class component, its specific effects on the analysis of Geopolitics, and its most refined treatment, International Law, leads to hypocricies, inconsistency and cynicism of analysis, a substitution of scientific analysis for parochial (and, importantly, Imperial) moralism and moralizing. One such recurrent hypocrisy and cynicism over the past thirty years has been the enlightened false consciousness of Human Rights discourse, deployed as a weapon to legitimate and facilitate the activities of Imperial powers with respect to weaker powers, namely to expand the territory of NATO and integrate further territory into compliance with market access by American firms; to cloak their activities with a moral veneer. The so-called Human Rights of Human Rights discourse are intrinsically political, and the proliferation of Human Rights discourse in the latter portion of the Twentieth Century tracks with and is implicated within the Belle Époque of US Empire from the late 1970s to the early 2000s. Efforts to simultaneously deploy Human Rights discourse against Socialist and Subaltern States and occlude the contingent historical effects of Class Struggle constitute one element of a unitary breach of the Principle of Non-Intervention by the United States against States with a Socialist or Subaltern character - chiefly non-compliance with territorial integration by NATO and concession to economic structural adjustment.

The abuse and distortion of Human Rights claims against Venezuela and China3 over the past decade by Democratic and Republican US administrations of the United States, its sub-Imperial vassal States (UK/Can/Aus/NZ and occasionally Japan), comprador classes in peripheral States, and ideologically compliant Human Rights discourse institutions - the specific occlusion of Class Interests in the explication and analysis of Situations by these forces - coupled with illegal unilateral US economic sanctions, comprises a Composite Breach of the Principle of Non-Intervention in each case.4

Venezulela has been on the receiving end of several spurious Human Rights claims spearheaded by the United States, its vassal Imperialisms, and comprador classes in Latin America over the past several years. These attacks are usually voiced by the Washington based Organization of American States5, the Lima Group, or any other number of Non-Governmental Organizations whose purposes just happen to line up with American Oil Capital. Their methodology is to perform exactly the dissagregation Mohamed Helal criticized of the ruling in the Nicaragua case such as to weaponize it as a cudgel against the non-compliant Latin American State. That is, staging and curating instances of alleged victimization divorced from the context of the ongoing hybrid-war which the United States wages against Latin American states resistant to so-called structural adjustment,6 such claims purport to depict a small, almost invariably light-skinned, urban comprador elite as a victimized under-class. Rather, this light-skinned urban comprador elite has consistently conspired with the United States to subvert and destabilize Venezuela and roll back the political and economic gains made by working class Venezuelans, indigenous peoples, and Afro-Venezuelans.

China, by contrast, has been attacked with two distinct erroneous, cynical and malicious moral claims emanating from the United States, its sub-Imperial vassals, and compliant Human Rights discourse: (1) that it is conducting genocide against the Uyghur people of the Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), North-West China; and (2) that it is complicit in the forced labour of the Uyghur people. Neither of these sets of claims survives scrutiny. Both are fabrications of US Empire and its complicit Human Rights institutions and figures. The Human Rights claims against China in fact concern, on the one hand, (1) China's efforts at deradicalization of Islamic populations in North-Western China7, and (2) China's efforts at poverty alleviation across the country, which, by virtue of their being State-led, are depicted as coercive.8 On the first claim, not only are China's efforts at deradicalization of Islamic populations reasonable when compared with other states, notably the United States, but we find moreover that the United States is itself profoundly culpable for the radicalization of Sunni Islamic populations in the Middle-East in the first place. And on the second claim, we find that it is not so much a claim that labour in China is not remunerated, but rather, more insidiously, a moral claim that State-led investment and poverty alleviation efforts are themselves intrinsically coercive. It is at this point that our friendly and well-intentioned Human Rights advocate will inform us that we must be mistaken, that the confluence of Human Rights claims and the geostrategic interests of US Empire could not possibly be occluding a specifically economic class based dynamic because, of course, China does not really have a Class character. It is merely 'authoritarian,' or 'state capitalist,' or, perhaps most erroneously, simply 'capitalist.' This claim, also, is a fabrication and distortion of US Empire, its sub-Imperial vassal States, and obliging Human Rights ideologists, the purpose of which is to sabotage or short-circuit solidarity between the working and subaltern classes in the dominant Imperialist States and States in the Global South, like China, which retain a Class character and advance the global position of the working class and subaltern peoples.9

For Human Rights discourse to carry any moral legitimacy at all it must contain within itself a ruthless criticism of its own Class Interests and its fidelity with the Economic prerogatives of US Empire, that is, the continuum of the old civilizing mission and the new. Moreover they must contain a criticism of Right itself, insofar as Class interests are reflected within the philosophy of Right. Human Rights discourse and its ideologists today entirely lack such a critique. It is wholly insufficient to simply ascribe the harmony of targets of US Empire and the claims of so-called 'Human Rights' advocates to coincidence, or worse, to wholly exculpate the United States and depict it, still, as any kind of champion of so-called 'Human Rights.' It is not even good enough to say that the United States is a partial, or occasional champion of Human Rights, one whose better angels ought to win out. No, 'Human Rights' are an intrinsic ideological component of the Liberal Economic and Geopolitical project. The halls of so-called Human-Rights discourse institutions are populated by the same ghouls, spooks and security consultants which attend military and security contractor conventions. If the so-called 'Human Rights' movement aspires to be greater than its lot as this contingent element of US Empire's geostrategic interests then it is incumbent upon Human Rights advocates to diagnose and extricate Human Rights from this position and role by an inclusion of Class Analysis. This requires, first and foremost, a sensitivity to which bodies and institutions make such claims, where their funding comes from, and the extent to which those claims function in conjunction with definite Imperial political projects.

The Human Rights claims made by the United States, its vassal States, comprador classes and a panoply of NGOs aligned with them10 in the last five years are neither righteous nor credible, but rather reflect, more than anything, deep Liberal Economic Chauvinism and Class hatred for Socialist and Subaltern States. In the selective, disaggregated, manipulative manner such claims are put forward, coupled with unilateral US economic sanctions against those States, they constitute one element of composite breaches of the Principle of Non-Intervention. Taken together with illegal unilateral US economic sanctions, Human Rights claims weaponized against non-economically compliant States like Venezuela and China a composite breach of the Principle of Non-Intervention in each case. The purpose of the Principle of Non-Intevention is, in part, to prevent Counter-Revolutionary efforts to sabotage the Self-Determination of States in instances precisely such as these.

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1 Alain Badiou writes of 1993 that the proliferation of Human Rights discourse constituted "intellectual counter-revolution in the form of moral terrorism." (iii) The purpose of this intellectual counter-revolution was to impose "Western capitalism as the new universal model." (liii) Badiou writes that in the years since 1993, "the intervention of Western bombers against Serbia, the intolerable blockade of Iraq, the continuation of threats against Cuba." (lv) have been "legitimated by a quite unbelievable outpouring of moralizing sermons." (lv) Alain Badiou, Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil tr Peter Hallward (London: Verso, 2001). In 2016, Makau Mutua charged that human rights has become "an echo chamber" (450) of "grandiose statements made by insiders - those with an interest in depicting human rights as a zeinith of human civilization." (450) Mutua writes that the early Twenty-First Century has been characterized by "several dystopian catastrophes" (451) and that "the enthusiasm that had characterized the surge of the human rights movement since the 1970s had cooled down." (451) Mutua describes human rights as an ideology, "a moral-legal-political and economic schema" (451) in which human rights are "the moral argument for the liberal project." (451) Among its critics, Mutua writes, human rights have come to be seen as "a tool to justify a new imperialism by the West over darker peoples. Makau Mutua, "Is the Age of Human Rights Over?" in The Routledge Companion to Literature and Human Rights ed Sophia McClennen and Alexandra Schultheis Moore (New York: Routledge, 2016), 450. In 2014 Samuel Moyn wrote that the credibility and legitimacy of Human Rights discourse have been undermined, in the post-1989 period, by "America pursuing low-minded imperial ambitions in high-minded humanitarian tones." (14) Samuel Moyn, Human Rights and the Uses of History (London: Verso, 2014). Michael Drake writes that the Post-Human-Rights Era has been characterized by criticism that Human Rights Institutions are "too often perfectly instep with U.S. government and foreign intervention." (1053) On the one hand, Drake writes, critics charge that the Human Rights movement is complicit with "US Imperialism," (1029) and on the other that they narrowly focus on "civil and political rights - as opposed to economic rights," (1029) notably those civil and political rights which entail a greater portion of the economy is available to capital investment conducive to American Imperialism. Drake argues as long as the human rights movement appears to be no more than a revolving door with the US State Department, "the movement will have little-to-no moral authority." (1053) Why is this? Why is it that that Human Rights discourse has come to be perceived as the handmaiden to US Empire? It is because it has been coextensive with the effort at expanding and integrating the frontiers of NATO, and thus market penetration by monopolist US financial interests, of the post-Soviet bloc. Michael Drake, "They Hate U.S. for Our War Crimes: An Argument for U.S. Ratification of the Rome Statute in Light of the Post-Human Rights Era," UIC John Marshall Law Review 52, no. 4 (Summer 2019).

2 In Nicaragua v United States of America (1986) the Court writes that the Principle of Non-Intervention is "part and parcel of customary international law," (at para 202) and that it "involves the right of every sovereign State to conduct its affairs without outside interference." (at para 202) The ICJ moreover confirmed that the principle of non-intervention applied not only to territorial sovereignty, but also required that "political integrity also to be respected." (at para 202) The ICJ found that the principle of non-intervention "forbids all States or groups of States to intervene directly or indirectly in internal or external affairs of other states." (at para 205) The ICJ notes that prohibited intervention bears on matters which the principle of State sovereignty dictates that a state may "decide freely." (at para 205) One of these matters reserved to the discretion of the State, the ICJ writes, "is the choice of a political, economic, social and cultural system, and the formulation of foreign policy." (at para 205) The ICJ found that "Intervention is wrongful when it uses methods of coercion in regard to choices, which must remain free ones." (at para 205) Nicaragua v United States of America (Case Concerning Military and Paramilitary Activities In and Against Nicaragua) (1986), [1986] ICJ Reports p 14 ['Nicaragua v United States of America (1986)']. The Principle of Non-Intervention is not merely derivative of the Principle of Respect for Sovereignty. No, it moreover includes a prohibition upon Thermidorian conduct, that is, explicitly Counter-Revolutionary action against States. This latter content, the prohibition against foreign intervention for the purposes of quashing Revolution, is not reducible to the respect for territorial and political sovereignty of all States. It is something different. Historically the United States played the primary guarantor of this freedom of Self-Determination against political interference from abroad. In seeing that the Counter-Revolutionary European powers could undermine its geopolitical position as a Revolutionary Republic, the United States adopted the role entailed by the Monroe Doctrine, the claim of extrajudicial, extraterritorial sovereignty, asserted on behalf of Revolutionary Republics. However throughout the Twentieth Century, and especially over the past thirty years, proved to be this principle's greatest hypocrite, intervening constantly in the affairs of Sovereign States all over the globe, totally flaunting from the end of the Nineteenth Century onwards the principles it had once sought to champion and ensure against the united Counter-Revolutionary powers of the early Nineteenth Century. In the course of the Spanish-American War in 1898 the Americans at first promised Self-Determination to the Filipinos, but later reneged and annexed the Philippines. And for what purpose, this incredible change of heart concerning the value of the principle of Self-Determination of States? To explicitly crush and extinguish from the earth the spectre of Class Struggle and secure all territory for exploitation by Monopoly Imperialist Capital. As De Leon argued in 1898, the primary beneficiaries of the beneficent liberation of the United States in Latin America had become, by the end of the Nineteenth Century, not independent peoples, but rather American sugar, tobacco and fruit trusts.

3 In combination with unilateral, hence illegal, economic sanctions, the United States has committed composite breaches of the Principle of Non-Intervention against both Venezuela and China over the past five years, from 2015 to 2020. To this list could easily be added Iran, Syria, Bolivia, and Yemen, among others, who have been on the receiving end of both unilateral, hence illegal, US economic sanctions and claims against their Human Rights rectitude, however we will restrict our specific analyses to Venezuela and China. While the Imperialist weaponization of Human Rights discourse alone may not constitute a breach of the Principle of Non-Intervention and the prohibition on interference with the Self-Determination of States.

4 In 2019, Mohamed Helal underook the effort of a full conceptual articulation of Coercion in International Law. Helal notes that while "the prohibition on intervention in the internal or external affairs of states" (3) is the cardinal rule of international law, what has rather attracted a great degree of attention is "violations of the prohibition on intervention and purported exceptions to this rule." (3) Helal's central claim is that while the ICJ found that the United States had acted in a coercive manner with respect to Nicaragua, in contravention of the Principle of Non-Intervention, it nonetheless found this through narrowly legalistic disaggregation of Nicaragua's claims which set the bar too high. Coercion, Helal writes, "is a dynamic process in which one or more states engage in pressure and counter-pressure at various levels of intensity using a broad range of instruments over an extended period." (62) Helal writes that it is "impossible to examine the legality of coercive practices by disaggregating the acts undertaken as part of a coercive strategy and viewing them in isolation." (62) The legality or illegality of coercion, Helal writes, must be assessed "through a holistic examination of the relationship between the relevant parties and a systematic tracking of their behavior in light of the objectives of the coercing state and the means it employs to achieve its objectives." (62) The question, Helal writes, is to determine "the point at which pressure crosses the threshold of illegality to become a form of coercion." (47) Beyond this threshold, Helal writes, one finds a "composite breach" (64) of the Principle. These composite breahces, Helal argues "consist of separate acts that are part of a common objective or a unified strategy that is, in its totality, unlawful." (83) Mohamed S. Helal, "On Coercion in International Law," New York University Journal of International Law and Politics 52;1, Fall 2019.

5 In a plea for the politicization of Human Rights discourse, Angel Oquendo argues that critics of the washington-based Organization of American States charge that "under the perverse influence of the United States [it] has no real in human rights" but rather "imposes a conservative agenda and thwarts any endeavor to revamp the responsible entities or even substitute the personnel." (23) Angel R. Oquendo, "The Politicization of Human Rights: Within the Inter-American System and beyond," New York University Journal of International Law and Politics 50;1, 2017.

6 The Composite Breach of American intervention into the Sovereign Affairs of Venezuela includes a consideration of the hypertrophy of the Monroe/Roosevelt doctrine concerning Latin America, and its having morphed into a claimed Right to inhibit, sabotage, and destroy Socialist and Indigenous political projects within the American sphere of influence. Joseph Lutta notes that the political dynamics of Venezuela are shaped, on the one hand, by "class disparity," with political power concentrated around an "urban bourgeoisie," (58) and racial dynamics wherein, "Spanish elites" dominate politics "to the detriment and expense of the Afro-Venezuelans and the indigenous groups." (58) Lutta writes that after the overthrow of the dictatorship of Marcos Perez Jimenez in 1958, successive governments implemented programs of neoliberal austerity, privatization and extractivism, which "left the masses disgruntled and disenfranchised by their political elites." (59) Lutta notes that, for example, the government of President Carlos Andres Perez had reduced oil revenues by divesting the Veneuzuelan State of its stake in the oil industry. It was in this context which Hugo Chavez came to power in 1998 and proceeded to expand the Veneuzelan State's capacity to intervene in the economic process such as to improve the station of Venezuelan working class, indigenous and Afro-Venezuelan people. Lutta notes that Chavez's Government "diverted significant proportions of the oil revenue into social welfare programs such as health care, education, housing and public infrastructure that benefited the masses." (59) Lutta writes that Juan Guaido is "the 'civilian version' of the contras since he operates under the ostensible control and support of the American government." (67) Joseph Lutta, "A Critical Analysis of Western Intervention in Foreign Nations: A Case Study of Ukraine and Venezuela," Russian Law Journal 7;4, 2019. The Human Rights claims against Venezuela consist of a litany of supposed abuses against political dissidents, totally divorced and disaggregated from their context, ie a hybrid-war conducted by the United States against the State of Venezuela. The least bit of scrutiny of the organizations funding and orchestrating this campaign, the Washington-based Organization of American States, the Lima Group, betrays that their interest is precisely to engender the situations which they claim to decry. They are provocateur organizations. Coupled with the operation of unilateral, illegal, US sanctions, their actions constitute one element of a breach of the Principle of Non-Intervention. In 2019, former UN special rapporteur Alfred de Zayas described unilateral US sanctions against Venezuela as "illegal" and "crimes against humanity." Michael Selby-Green, "Venezuela crisis: Former UN rapporteur says US sanctions are killing citizens" The Independent, 26 January, 2019 (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/venezuela-us-sanctions-united-nations-oil-pdvsa-a8748201.html). Unilateral US sanctions against an official State Department enemy cannot be considered as apart from allegations by the United States of Human Rights abuses by that official enemy. Sanctions are specifically calculated to produce a desperate situation and coerce economic compliance.

7 The Composite Breach of American intervention into the Sovereign affairs of China includes a consideration of the American contribution to the ongoing political instability of the middle-east, that is, the strategic development and cultivation of Sunni extremism as a military bulwark, first against the Soviet Union, and now against China. These claims have, in the privately owned media companies of the West, been hyperbolically called 'genocide' and 'forced labour.' In the case of China's efforts at deradicalization, claimed to be 'genocide' by a hyperbolic Western press, none of those epithets were or have been deployed in that same presses to describe France's efforts at deradicalization. Why is this? Because of course France is not a Class Enemy, and therefore is not subject to the same opprobrium! In July of 2019, at the 41st Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, 22 counrties, notably the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand criticized China's position on Xinjiang. At that session 50 counrties, notably Bolivia, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Venezuela and Palestine all supported China's position. Letter dated 8 July 2019 from the Permanent Representatives of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the United Nations Office at Geneva addressed to the President of the Human Rights Council A/HRC/41/G/11; Letter dated 12 July 2019 from the representatives of Algeria, Angola, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Comoros, the Congo, Cuba, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, the Philippines, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, the Sudan, the Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Togo, Turkmenistan, Uganda, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the State of Palestine to the United Nations Office at Geneva addressed to the President of the Human Rights Council A/HRC/41/G/17. In October of 2019, at the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Committee on the Elimination of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, 57 countries, led by Egypt, Iran, Russia, and Venezuela supported China's position on Xinjiang. At this session 24 counrties, led by the United States, the UK, Austalia, New Zealand and Canada, the so-called Five Eyes Anglo-American bloc, criticized China's position on Xinjiang. Summary record of the 37th meeting Third Committee A/C.3/74/SR.37. This is to say nothing of the United States' efforts at deradicalization over the preceding twenty years, which consisted of unilateral invasion and systematic carnage unleashed upon the muslim world as a consequence of the slightest blowback from their Sunni allies. The United States, as a corollary of its political project of liberal internationalism, simultaneously funds, arms, trains and encourages Salifist and Wahhabist Sunni Extremists, as well as uses the attempt by the States subject to this instrumentalization to deal with the problem in a rational and technocratic manner to level cynical charges of Human Rights abuses. It has done this, also, since the late 1970s, as Zbigniew Brzezinski's contribution to the Carter Doctrine. The United States profits at both ends: (1) first, by destabilizing countries not economically and politically integrated into the frontiers of NATO through the use of contras and proxies; and (2), by portraying the attempt to deradicalize Sunni Islamic populations as allegedly rife with Human Rights abuses, for which, it is contended, the State in question must be further disciplined. In November of 2020, for example, the United States revoked the designation of "East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM)" as a terrorist organization, ostensibly in an effort to elevate its political standing. Liu Zhen, "China Accuses US of Double Standard as it Drops ETIM from Terrorist List" South China Morning Post, Nov 6, 2020 (https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3108846/china-accuses-us-double-standards-it-drops-etim-terrorism-list); Sha Hua, "China Irate After US Removes 'Terrorist' Label from Separatist Group" Wall Street Journal, Nov 6, 2020 (https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-irate-after-u-s-removes-terrorist-label-from-separatist-group-11604661868).

8 In July of 2019, Western China critics like Adrian Zenz and the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) pivoted from their previous claim of genocide, to claims of forced labour. They pivoted to charging that China is compelling the minority Uyghur population into forced labour. The evidence for this charge is slight to non-existent. Some of the critics acknowledge that Uyghur workers are in a wage-labour relationship, not a forced-labour relationship, and others do not. Those who do attempt to paint the wage-labour relationship and conditions under which Uyghur workers labour in such a way that they are tantamount to forced labour, and those who do not acknowledge that the relationship is that of wage-labour accuse China of something they lack evidence for, that is, unremunerated and coerced labour. Some critics elide entirely the working programs and poverty alleviation programs instituted by the Chinese Government, and others acknowledge it and attempt to portray vocational training and state-led work projects as ominous. Singh notes that Zenz contends that, even if labour is remunerated, the labour in China is coerced because "not everyone will want to be part of this rigid plan." Ajit Singh, "'Forced Labour' stories on China brought to you by US Gov, NATO, arms industry to drive Cold War PR blitz" The Grayzone, March 26 (https://thegrayzone.com/2020/03/26/forced-labor-china-us-nato-arms-industry-cold-war/). One wonders if, by this, they contend that every worker in liberal-democratic society wants to be part of the rigid plan of monopoly enforced laissez faire economics! What the accusation that Uyghur labour is 'not free' labour amounts to is the highly subjective and ideological charge that whereas the sale of the labouring commodity is 'free' in Capitalist States, it is 'not free' in Communist States like China simply in virtue of the State's role at the commanding heights of the Chinese economy and the utilization of economic planning. The accusation levelled is that, at least in the case of the Uyghur minority, the Chinese authorities are facilitating the use of forced or compulsory labour in contravention of International Instruments under which it is proscribed. It is important to remember, however, for the purposes of parsing forced or compulsory labour as proscribed under the International Law instruments, that Article II(b) of the ILO's Forced Labour Convention specifically exempts labour which "forms part of the normal civic obligations of the citizens of a fully self-governing country." This is not to say that the 'normal civic obligation' exemption would abrogate the necessity that work be compensated, but it would refute a notion that simply because work is part of a state-planned economic endeavor that it is de facto forced or compulsory. In fact, of one digs deeply enough into the claim, one finds that what is really being asserted is not that the labour in China is not remunerated, but rather that precisely in virtue of its being State-led, it is therefore and therein coercive. Ultimately one finds it resolves into and is reducible to a moral claim over whose workers are more ill-treated by respective conditions of remunerated labour.

9 It is a claim that, for example, World Systems theorist Samir Amin wholly rejects. Amin calls China bashing "the favored sport of Western media of all tendencies - including the left, unfortunately - that consists of systematically denigrating, even criminalizing, everything done in China. . . participat[ing] in the systematic campaign of maintaining hostility toward China, in view of a possible military attack." (85-86) Ajit Singh argues that while the "capitalist restoration narrative" (68) holds sway ideologically in the West, it actually wholly misrepresents the nature of contemporary China. Singh argues that the policies adopted by Deng Xiaoping in the period following 1978 are not reflective, in fact, of a capitalist restoration, but rather a reprisal of Lenin's 'New Economic Policy' which characterized the Soviet Union in the early 1920s. Far from a retreat from socialism, these reforms in fact reflect the strategic prerogatives of Chinese Communists to use global capital flows to develop the productive forces of society, both in terms of the sophistication of capacities of living labour (social reproduction, education, public health), and the level of technological and scientific advancement. As Singh writes, "while capitalism exists within China, public ownership of the means of production is dominant and ultimately structures and guides the movement of the entire social formation. The authority of the worker's state over capitalists allows it to set the country's political and economic agenda and prioritize the interests of the vast majority of people." (78) Ajit Singh, "China: Reform and Revolution in the People's Republic" in Keywords in Radical Philosophy and Education: Common Concepts for Contemporary Movements ed Derek Ford (Leiden: Brill, 2019). Roland Boer answers the question of whether China is Communist by answering that China is in the process of building Communism, and that Socialism with Chinese Characteristics reflects a particular iteration of the "multiple possibilities for socialism have opened up with the rich history of socialist revolutions." Roland Boer, "Is China Communist?" Taking Notes, 36, 2014. No less an authority than the World Bank credits China with having lifted 850 million people out of Poverty over the past forty years, and between 2001 and 2020 Chinese workers' wages have increased six-fold, while wages in North America remain stagnant. These views are shared by the philosopher and historian Domenico Losurdo, and World Systems theorist Giovanni Arrighi.

10 This panoply of allegedly Non-Governmental Institutions is invariably either based in Washington, DC, or funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, also based in Washington, or both. Hersch Lauterpacht argued that the use of private institutions by one State to effect subversion in another " is a clear breach of international law," (403) and that Indirect Intervention, or Subversion, is "a disguised interference with the internal relations of a foreign State. . . a denial of its independence." (403) The test as to whether a government is using an allegedly private institution to effect unlawful International purposes, Lauterpacht writes, is whether the private association in question is so closely associated with the Government and the Stat as to become indistinguishable from it." (405) Herch Lauterpacht, International Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970), Helal notes on the nature of 'impartial institutes' funded by Defence and weapons companies "by misrepresenting or concealing its identity, the communicator engages in subversion that undermines and sabotages the political process, an act that should be proscribed by the prohibition on intervention." (115) Mohamed S. Helal, "On Coercion in International Law," New York University Journal of International Law and Politics 52;1, Fall 2019. As Ajit Singh notes in The Grayzone, while the ASPI is described in Western Press as "an independent, non-partisan think tank," it is in fact funded by the Australian Department of Defence and weapons manufacturers, from Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, to Northrop Grumman. Ajit Singh, "'Forced Labour' stories on China brought to you by US Gov, NATO, arms industry to drive Cold War PR blitz" The Grayzone, March 26 (https://thegrayzone.com/2020/03/26/forced-labor-china-us-nato-arms-industry-cold-war/). Singh writes that information presented by these think-tanks relfect "serious biases and credibility gaps that Western media wilfully ignores in its bid to paint China as the world's worst human rights violator." Former Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr has alleged that ASPI reflects a "one sided, pro-American view of the world." The purpose of these think tanks is to produce threat credibility such as to financially benefit the domestic military industrial complex in the respective imperialist and sub-imperialist vassal states.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

The Cowardice of Left Anti-Communism: A Reply to David Camfield




The attack on the Communist Party of Canada by David Camfield recently published in Passage doesn't merit a response, but rather necessitates one. That is to say, the arguments made in the piece aren't good ones, but left unresponded to they may mislead young radicals exactly in the manner that Camfield erroneously charges against the Communist Party of Canada. In the piece, which is itself a response to Kimball Cariou's exemplary article 'Canada Still Needsa Communist Party,' Camfield makes a number of charges. The most prominent of these charges is the least compelling, and is in large bold letters at the top of the page: "Since the 1950s, Canada's Communist Party has lacked the size, and degree of influence on a mass scale, needed to be a genuine party." What is one even to do with this? What is this argument other than an incoherent tautology? The Communist Party of Canada has lacked size and influence, so therefore it ought not have size and influence? It hasn't been sizable or influential, so its growing size and influence ought to be checked? Nothing in the following paragraphs in any way turns this frustrated lament into an actual argument. But beneath the charge that the Communist Party of Canada cannot be a revolutionary force in Canadian politics lies a more insidious and bitter argument, that the Communist Party of Canada ought not be a revolutionary force in Canadian politics.

The real substance of David Camfield's argument is that he simply doesn't want young people to fall under the sway of the Communist Party of Canada. He portrays them in the manner of Socrates' accusers: corrupting the youth. But the fact of the matter is that the Communist Party of Canada is growing in size and influence not because of the nefarious machinations of its elder members, but rather because its positions are right and principled. This is what Camfield is actually attacking, the taking and holding of principled positions whatsoever, and that is precisely why young people are gravitating towards them.

On the front of Social Democracy, Jagmeet Singh is undeniably an improvement over Thomas Mulcair, and does not deserve the racist treatment he has received in the House of Commons. And yet, it is no accident that while a majority of NDP MPs have denounced the Israeli annexation of the West Bank, he and Randal Garrison have not. On foreign policy most of all the NDP compromises with and reproduces imperialist falsehoods and reaction. The Communist Party of Canada does not do this, ever. At no point does the Communist Party of Canada split the difference with those who champion and cheerlead for Israeli apartheid, or the disastrous and bloody war in Yemen, or reproduce the grotesque sinophobia being promoted by US Empire today. On the foreign affairs front that is why young people are inspired by the line of the Communist Party of Canada, it is not an aftereffect, something smuggled in after the fact, it is rather the reason that young people are turning to them. The same is true of domestic politics and a resolute commitment to justice for working class people and indigenous people.

Older Social Democrats, or more broadly older Trotskyists, are allergic to principle, to belief, to solidarity with global class struggle. So long have they prefaced anything resembling socialist principle with qualifiers and disclaimers of responsibility that all that remains are the qualifier and disclaimers. And worse, they hold forth their qualifications and disclaimers as a virtue in and of themselves. 'We are the real left,' they claim, 'because we have for so long denounced the left.' And that is all that remains, paranoiac denunciations and pious idealism. That is what David Camfield's argument amounts to 'don't fall under the sway of the Communist Party of Canada, who have solidarity with Palestinians and Yemenis and Chinese people, instead hold fast to doing nothing and believing in nothing.'

Ultimately the dispute has little to nothing to do with the Communist Party of Canada itself, the institution and its personages. The fact that the Communist Party of Canada expresses the principled anti-imperialist positions domestically and internationally that it does merely exposes those for whom those positions are anathema. That allergy, that remove, that refusal to have unwavering and unequivocal love and solidarity for working class and indigenous struggle against the Canadian State and Capital at home, and unwavering and unequivocal love and solidarity for actually existing socialist states and minoritarian movements abroad, is what young people are rejecting and moving away from. The fashionable nihilism of the geriatric and deteriorating 'new left' is no longer fashionable, and they are enraged. That is the substance of David Camfield's objection to the Communist Party of Canada, that they believe too much, and are encouraging younger people to believe too much.

Whether one chooses to become involved with the Communist Party of Canada or not - and I am neither a member nor do I speak for the Party - I wholeheartedly encourage everyone, especially young working people, young indigenous people and young marginalized people, to read and study their program 'Canada's Future is Socialism!' adopted and ratified at the 39th Central Convention of the Communist Party of Canada. This document is the gold standard of contemporary Socialism. Not only do critics like David Camfield not offer a credible alternative to this program, they lack the ability to. Their argument is, in effect, that it is wrong and dangerous to so earnestly and unreservedly endorse such an unvarnished socialist program. This argument is failing to gain traction precisely because young people are exhausted with late capitalism and are sick of exactly the kind of compromise and complicity that saturates Camfield's critique.

Young people are not being duped, misled, scammed, grifted, or anything else left anti-communist allege. Young people, working people, indigenous people and marginalized people are inspired and united by rigorous critique and principle, and that is why its critics launch such facile attacks against the Communist Party of Canada today.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Anticommunist Sinophobia by Any Other Name





One thing I have never been good, or able to do whatsoever really, is compartmentalize. The cognitive dissonance I see in others I cannot understand, and very often I simply throw my hands up at what appears to me to be obvious, glaring hypocrisy. I accept, however, on an abstract level, that other people may not be associating things together in the same way that I do, that they do not see how two things are connected and logically refute one another.

So, I'll give you an example. Today a reporter I know on the one hand retweeted Mayor of Port Coquitlam Brad West's ignorant one-sided polemics against Huawei on twitter, while on the other tweeted condemning anti-asian hate-crimes ginned on by racist and sinophobic sentiment on the part of public officials. To my mind, these things are inextricable from one another. There is functionally no difference whatsoever between the rhetoric of Brad West and Mike Pompeo. They are equally complicit in inflaming ignorance and sinophobic hate-crimes.

The rhetoric of Brad West is not saved because he is 'nobly' demanding the release of Global Affairs Canada spooks Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, precisely because he elides, ignores and obscures that this country, Canada, took an illegal economic hostage first.

The responses are incredible to pointing out that (1) Wanzhou has broken no Canadian law; (2) what she is accused of breaking are unilateral American sanctions against Iran; and (3) those unilateral US sanctions were declared illegal in 2018 by the International Court of Justice. It amounts to a shrug, 'oh, someone in our government signed off on it, so it is okay.' No, it absolutely isn't. The fact that Meng Wanzhou was illegally detained, contrary to the terms of the extradition treaty, which explicitly requires that the alleged offence be an offence in both jurisdictions, which it is not, was already a mortifying embarrassment for a liberal-democracy claiming that kidnapping a hostage for Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo has anything to do with the 'rule of law.' Now, in the context of the Coronavirus, where Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo are refusing to participate in global coordination on medical relief efforts unless it is called 'Wuhan Virus' and those unilateral US sanctions restricting vital medical supplies are currently murdering people in Iran, complicity with American anti-Communism and Sinophobia is even more loathsome and inscrutable.

What Brad West does, with his jingoistic sabre-rattling, is racist opportunism. He preys on Sinophobic sentiment for political gain. Parsing the 'good' anti-Chinese sentiment from the bad, trying to claim that your anti-Chinese sentiment is noble and good, whereas the people murdering asian people because they are frightened and scared, and have been told by officials that China is bad and should be reviled, is bad, is a grotesque and self-indulgent spectacle.

Denouncing and condemning China because Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor are detained while remaining uncritical towards the interests of US Empire and the radical anti-Chinese hatred emanating from the US right now is complicity, it is actively choosing to regurgitate the lies and falsehoods of US Empire, and it is at best indifference to the general atmosphere of sinophobia and hatred it fosters.

Yes, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor should be freed. So should Meng Wanzhou. We should disassociate ourselves from American state-sanctioned Sinophobic racism as much as possible, and so too should we dissociate ourselves from a corrupt and degenerating American Empire and its particular geopolitical ambitions. We should stop allowing Canadian sovereignty to be merely an appendage of racist apes like Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo.