Thursday, December 10, 2020

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



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.


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 ( 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 (; Sha Hua, "China Irate After US Removes 'Terrorist' Label from Separatist Group" Wall Street Journal, Nov 6, 2020 (

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 ( 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 ( 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.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Why the BCNDP Nerfed the Emergency Program Act

The BCNDP Government is irresponsibly putting the safety and security of British Columbians at significant risk by not ordering the closure of construction sites. In order to ensure that local authorities don't close them using the powers specifically and concertedly delegated to them under the Province's Emergency Program Act, RSBC 1996 legislation, the Provincial Government announced on Thursday that it was suspending all the emergency powers afforded to local authorities under the Act.

If you imagine legislation as something like the software which runs on the hardware of the State and its capacity to mobilize, the Emergency Program Act was specifically designed in contemplation that local authorities would take action in the event of a cross-Province emergency, and those specifically  delegated emergency powers are the mechanism by which they are supposed to be able to do that, by empowering their city managers, their fire chiefs, their police chiefs, to take actions which the local authority perceives would ameliorate risk or prevent the loss of life.

The suspension of local authority emergency powers by Premier John Horgan and Mike Farnworth is to force the LNG camps to stay open, over the objection of local authorities and the specific powers enumerated to them under the Emergency Program Act. The Emergency Program Act is specifically designed and structured such as to delegate emergency powers to local authorities to take the steps most necessary to protect their communities according to local conditions. Premier Horgan and Minister Mike Farnworth just gutted that ability.

Why have Premier Horgan and Mike Farnworth nerfed and gutted the Emergency Program Act? In other words, why have they abrogated the powers afforded to the local authorities under the Act? For the same reason Dr Bonnie Henry has not ordered the camps closed: they are prioritizing accumulation by dispossession over the safety and security of workers and British Columbians. They are prioritizing the interests of extractive industry over the safety of workers, First Nations peoples, and British Columbians generally. The 'coordinated approach' of Premier Horgan and Minister Mike Farnworth is in fact a vehicle to deprive municipalities of the life-saving emergency powers which were specifically contemplated for them in an event of an emergency precisely such as this one.

Of all the low-down half-measures pursued by this so-called 'social democrat' BCNDP government, insisting workers continue extractive industry in unsafe conditions while the First Nations they are dispossessing are compelled to take shelter is perhaps the most loathsome and vile. And, in order to facilitate that extractive industry in unsafe conditions against the wishes of the First Nations society concerned, Premier Horgan and Minister Mike Farnworth have effectively left British Columbia without a functional Emergency Program Act.

Local authorities who had depended on those emergency powers to pursue strategies of ameliorating the risks to their community, now cannot do so, the Province's legislative instrument for emergency management crippled, all to keep the man-camps churning, irrespective of the health concerns. Not closing the LNG camps, and gutting the Emergency Program Act to facilitate not closing the LNG camps, is a bloody albatross that ought to weigh on the shoulders of Premier Horgan, Minister Mike Farnworth, Minister Adrian Dix, and Doctor Bonnie Henry. These people are talking out of both sides of their mouths. From one side they say they are resolutely combating the health crisis, from the other they are sanctioning the exacerbation of the public health crisis by forcing unsafe work to transpire.

There are a million different circumstances in which it was specifically contemplated, and authorized by the Emergency Program Act, that a local authority would act for the interests of its specific locality. What Premier Horgan and Minister Farnworth have ensured is that now no municipality will be able to avail itself of the emergency powers authorized to it under the act, in order to ensure that some local authorities do not use those powers to interfere with resource extraction.

For a Provincial Government to gut the function of its own emergency powers legislation in entirety in the middle of a global pandemic in order to facilitate the continuity of unsafe extractive industry is criminal, cartoonish villainy. It is impossible that Premier Horgan, Minister Farnworth, Minister Dix and Doctor Henry do not know that what they are doing is reckless, irresponsible and unsafe. They have rather made a knowing, cynical calculation to exempt extractive industry, even though it is unsafe, even though it poses a significant public health risk. They have placed the interests of extractive corporations above those of the health, safety and security of all British Columbians, and, moreover, above the need for all local authorities to be able to delegate emergency powers in the midst of an emergency situation.

Section 13 of the Emergency Program Act, RSBC 1996 delegates to local authorities the powers enumerated in Section 10 (d) to (l). In order to unsafely keep LNG going, Premier Horgan and Minister Farnworth have just stripped local authorities of all of those powers. These are powers under S 13 of the Emergency Program Act like to control travel to and from areas, to cause evacuations, to construct structures, to authorize assistance, that is, vital measures that local authorities absolutely ought to have at their disposal.

When Premier Horgan says that stripping these powers from local authorities is meant to prevent 'leapfrogging,' what he means is that the BCNDP has decided to keep the LNG camps open irrespective of the risks, and has deleted any recourse of objection by local authorities. The purpose of Nerfing the Emergency Program Act is to ensure that municipalities do not restrict economic activity farther than the Provincial government is comfortable with, irrespective of local circumstances. They are placing the accumulation imperative above human lives and relations between settler-society and First Nations societies.

What Premier Horgan and Minister Farnworth have done in abrogating the emergency powers specifically afforded to the local authorities across British Columbia by the Emergency Program Act is enforce a minimal, blanket, one-size fits all non-response to the public health crisis. Does your municipal council feel travel ought to be restricted right now? Do they want to empower local police chief or fire chiefs to make necessary determinations about emergency measures? They can't anymore, because Premier Horgan and Minister Farnworth don't want them trying to close LNG camps.

Again: in a complete gutting of the carefully thought out Emergency Program Act, no local authority may now avail themselves of the emergency powers afforded to them by the act, because Premier Horgan and Minister Farnworth don't want some of them messing with LNG. Why even have an Emergency Program Act if, in an effort to exempt extractive industry, you are willing to gut the Act and deprive every local authority of their lawful authority to act to protect their communities in the ways they know best to do so?

There is something so insidiously grim about a so-called 'social democratic' government knowingly, cynically putting workers in harms way to ensure plunder during a global pandemic, and crippling the ability of all communities to respond to do so. Abrogating the powers of local authorities delegated to them by the Emergency Program Act leaves communities vulnerable, and for what? So Premier Horgan and Minister Farnworth can keep ramrodding through an LNG pipeline in recklessly, irresponsibly unsafe conditions.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

'You Called Me a Liar:' The 2020 He-Said-She-Said that Wasn't

The last three days of 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate horse-trading has been goddamned looney-tunes. From the Neo-Keynesian dynamic duo of the first debates, suddenly Sanders and Warren are mortal enemies, betrayed and betrayer? It is ludicrous. If the CIA hadn't conceived of it they'll be studying it to deploy against social democrats the world over. The privately owned media have interjected strife between the world's two leading voices for left-liberal to social-democratic Keynesian political economic theory. It is a salacious, nonsense, reality TV gaffe trainwreck which has, unfortunately, world-historic significance. There are plenty of disingenuous smear tactics that weaponize identity politics against this or that politician who espouses class politics. Let me tell you why I believe this is different: what is disturbing is the lack of empathy for Warren's position, which is hypocritical with respect to the entire ontology of belief espoused by Sanders.

We believe women, but when a woman expresses that she thought something a male friend said to her was sexist then suddenly she is a liar turncoat who conspires with CNN to stab Bernie in the back? This is sub-comic-book level Manicheaen myopia, and the willingness to cast Warren into the ninth circle of hell for having not denied the allegation made that Senator Sanders said to her something which basically amounted to 'a woman can't win,' or 'is less likely to win,' or something effectively similar.

We know essentially what was said: The two spoke; both noted how Trump was a bigot and misogynist who would weaponize Senator Warren's gender against her. And maybe, just maybe, the good Saint Bernard, guiding light, lapsed Trot from Vermont, noted how Warren's gender would be weaponized against her so much, and emphasized how that cynical weaponization could, and would, be combated and overcome so little, that he inadvertently hurt and wounded a close friend and ally. The total inability to conceive that Bernie, human, fallible old man that he is, may err, may be in the wrong in a situation, is deeply disturbing, and belies Sanders essential message: that it is up to the whole of society to be critical.

Everything is explicable from the hot-mic meeting after the debate:

'I think you called me a liar on National TV.'


'I think you called me a liar on National TV.'

'Let's not do this right now. You want to have that conversation, we can have that conversation.'


'You called me a liar. . . alright, lets not do this right now.'

Neither of them understands what the other is talking about. Both are absolutely certain that they are correct. Both of them are correct and neither of them are. It is not a case of 'he said, she said' from which we can divine no sense of the truth of the matter. Rather we can get a picture of exactly what the truth of the matter is, and it is right in the middle, at the border of 'noting Trump will do x' and actually being critical with respect to that, and being willing to challenge that. Senator Sanders maintains, quite rightly, that he would never ever say that a woman can't win the presidency, and I believe him. But did he follow up 'noting' how Trump would weaponize Warren's gender with an equally fulsome analysis of how the two could beat Trump nonetheless, or did he bootstrap off from that as a postulate to imply that he invariably ought to be the nominee? Senator Warren maintains, quite rightly, that she disagreed with Senator Sanders about whether a woman could win the presidency (importantly irrespective of whether Senator Sanders said as much and in those terms), and I believe her. But is she now allowing Senator Sanders to be suspected of saying 'a woman can't win' when in fact he simply didn't state positively 'a woman can win' in that particular conversation? Is this an important distinction? If you fail to positively state, in each and every instance, 'a woman can win,' are you therein contributing to and reproducing 'a woman can't win,' even if you don't say it in those terms?

Ultimately the situation is very sad. Two close friends are inscrutably fighting and being sharp with one another in front of a general audience. The gods clashing. Nobody is coming off well from this conflict, and how could they? Its one thing to be slandered by one's enemies and to slough them off, but it is quite another to be misunderstood by one's closest friends. It is unnerving and anxiety producing that these titans of policy and thought could be laid low by the kind of inexplicable family meltdown which punctuates the holidays. Acquiescing to this Sanders v Warren fight, to their supporters being acrimonious with one another, is boneheaded, self-indulgent pouting and catharsis. The most malign influences are ecstatic about the rift.

The non-aggression pact gave them both legitimacy and room for maneouver, now they have neither. 'She's a liar,' 'she's a traitor,' 'she's a snake,' these are really gross, knee-jerk oversimplifications, and they reflect really really badly on Sanders' support base. Hardcore Sanders fans don't seem to appreciate how tenuous and fledgling their little class-consciousness bloom actually is. In the short term the beneficiary is Biden, insofar as Sanders and Warren voters becoming inimical to one another cuts them off from each other's 15% to 20% of primary voters and caucus goers. In the long term the beneficiary is Trump insofar as what Trump requires to be elected, as in 2016, is a catastrophic rift between the Liberal Democratic and Social Democratic wings of the Democratic Party.

At the same time, Warren had an opportunity to push back against CNN's salacious framing of the conflict, and demurred from doing so. I don't want to endorse Senator Warren, or say that her political and economic plans are sufficient to the present moment, or that her baggage with Native American ancestry claimancy was legitimate or culturally sensitive, but just to say that it is okay to say that you don't think a friend was supportive enough, which is all she did. I don't want to detract from absolutely endorsing Senator Sanders by saying that the man is not god, that he is right politically and economically only in the very modest reformist context of the United States, and that I can very easily believe that in a conversation about how Trump would weaponize Senator Warren's gender, that Senator Sanders may have not emphasized that this could be overcome enough so as to not hurt and wound his friend. What we are looking at in this inscrutable upside-down through-the-looking-glass last three days is an open wound between two long-time friends and allies. On the one hand we ought not stare at that wound. We should let Senator Warren and Senator Sanders talk about what is evidently a strong disagreement between themselves. On the other hand we should acknowledge that the truth isn't binary, that what amounts to saying 'a woman can't be president' is not necessarily self-same with saying 'a woman can't be president.' Or is it? That's what this ought to be about, whether the distinction matters, not who is lying or telling the truth, but shades of what was emphasized, and how, and for what purposes?