Forwarded from Anthony (reply to Carlos)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Tue Feb 26 09:09:20 MST 2002

Reply to Carlos (Subject: Reply to the Reply From Anthony From:
"Alternative" <alternative at> Date: Mon, 25 Feb 2002 13:25:30

Here are my brief responses to a few of the points Carlos made in his post
to me.

1) Carlos wrote,

"Their next bet is on Brazil with Lula and the PT, that is why they sent 6
ministers and a number of their honchos to dominate the Porto Alegre Forum.
If your logic is correct, the peace processes are over, then a victory of
Lula will unleash again the military?"

I think the historic moment of the 'peace processes' is over, not that
every peace process or parliamentary regime is finished. I am sure there
will be many more pece negotiations in the future. But what is going on now
is very different than what happened when the southern Afircan revolution
and the Central American revolution were pacified.

The capitalist classes of the world are practical, and pragmatic. They will
always negotiate if it seems to be useful to them.

I am not current enough with what is going on in Brazil to speculate on
what will come next, but -for what my opinion is worth - I don't see the
military taking over there any time soon.

2. Carlos wrote,

"Do you see the development as one in which the Stalinist-led deterrent,
once over, was replaced by a weaker one led now by Social democracy as a
whole - or more accurately, I think you described it as the "European's" ?
And that is what is happening in Colombia? Following your logic then, the
peace process in Colombia is over and the old game of the "pressure to
negotiate" is now transformed into open and total war?"

I think that the 'bi-polar' world of the cold war was not replaced by the
unipolar world that the dreamers of US imperialism wanted. Europe has tried
to reconstitute itself as an independent power without confronting the US
directly. China is in the game. Japan is on the sidelines but not out of
the game.

The dust has not yet settled, so what will emerge still remains to be seen.
Another decade will tell.

As for Latin America, Europe and the United States have been competing for
control here since before the Declaration of Independence. Latin American
politicians and businessmen, if they were (are) smart, have (and wil)
always play one off against the other.

During the cold war this rivalry was temporarily masked as all of the
capitalists of the world joined in one big happy anti-communist crusade.
But the USSR offered some sort of new balance. That is in large part why
cuba could survive during the cold war, instead of being blown off the map.

But, it also gave the captialists of Latin America some room to maneuver.
Instead of importing British cars as the antidote to Chevrolets, Colombia
and Argentina imported Ladas and Dascias, etc.

According to my logic, open and total war is not very likely in Colombia.
What the press here calls 'total war' is a war between two well armed
armies, one bigger and better armed than the other. The civilian population
of the country, except in the war zones, is not being mobilized nor is it
being attacked - as it would be in what has - in the past - been called
'Total War.'

The reason the civilian population is not being attacked by the army, is
that it (the civilian population) is not in any close way connected to the
FARC (with some important exceptions in the former despeje and in a few
rural zones.). The army, and behind it the bourgeoisie are trying to
mobilize the civilian population behind them, and against the FARC (though
with very little success.)

 3). Carlos wrote,

"The FARC is an "independent player"? Independent from whom? I can see
Fidel as the "independent" player and Chavez in the crossroad of having to
decide whether he would play the "independent" role or not. This, of
course, related to the geopolitical games between the US and a sector of
social democracy - I can't see Europe playing as a unified bloc (but I'm
maybe wrong). But I thought both the PT and the FARC - with all the
differences they may have in strategy and tactics - had a complete
different game plan, which was their institutionalization through social

The FARC is independent in the most important sense, it answers to no one
but itself. It is independent from Fidel, from your organization, from Hugo
Chaves, from the PT, and from every other political party and current on
the planet.

This was not entirely intentional, but no one else is around to give it
money and guns, so they faced a choice of sink or swim. And they are
swimming, even if not in the way, or in the direction that you or I might

I think it is true that the FARC wanted to come in from the cold and become
the social democratic parliamentary opposition party a la the Sandinistas.
The problem is, that when they tried it by forming the Union Patriotica,
they were gunned down in cold blood by the Colombian army thinly
masquerading as paramilitaries. About 4,000 people, mostly candidates for
public office were killed. Surely you remember Carlos.

They, not by choice but by necessity, had to adopt a new game plan.

During the recent peace process they demanded a top to bottom overhaul of
the military of Colombia, including trials for paramilitary leaders and
military officers involved in the paramilitary, deportations and jailings,

This demand, reasonable as it was, and as necessary to the FARC as air if
they were to become a social democratic opposition party, was impossible
for Andres Pastrana to grant.

That is, in part, what I mean by the FARC overplayed their hand. I think
the FARC really hoped that it might come true, and also that Pastrana
really thought he could make a deal.

4.) Carlos wrote,

"Doesn't exist the variable of the class struggle? And the outcome of a
war? The geopolitical game between the US and social democrats is a
reality, as it was the games between the US and the Stalinists when the
latter were in power.

But as the past processes - US/Soviet Union - were upset more than once
because the class struggle, there is that possibility at the present time
as well. In terms of Colombia, the question of the war is what I'm
interested in trying to understand.  Yes, the class struggle always exists.
In Colombia it continues, but always distorted by the war. The truck
drivers strike was quickly settled when the peace process ended. The
National University is quiet - no demonstrations, no even a teach-in.

Perhaps the FARC thinks it can provoke class struggle bu causing
deprivation in the cities. Instead it is pushing workers into apathy (and
leftists into fear of political repression), and the middle class intot he
hands of hte paramilitary.

5.) Carlos worte,

"You wrote that in your opinion the FARC "overplayed" its hand, but they
were nowhere to be found when the Colombian Army moved into their areas."
Moving that number of troops and equipment meant that the FARC were
expecting that to happen. Knowing a little as I do about Colombia and a
little more about Latin America, a direct military intervention by the US
in Colombia would not be easy or as easily accepted as it was, let's say in
the Balkans or Afghanistan. Nor would victory come as cheap in terms of

Yes, the FARC was expecting the army to invade the despeje, and was
completely prepared. They clearly and deliberately forced Pastrana to end
the peace process. They want the war to be under the control of the
'national front' faction of the bourgeoisie represented by Pastrana and
also by Serpa. Their aim was to get Serpa elected President - as much as
they despise Serpa - and prevent the election of Alvaro Uribe Velez. In
this, they have probably failed. This is the other reason I say they
overplayed their hand.

In my opinion the main body of the Colombian capitalist class does not want
US troops in Colombia, nor do they want NAFTA expanded throughout Latin
America. The Bush administration, and almost every faction of the
capitliast class in the US is pushing for US troops here because they do
want to form a hemispheric free trade zone.

What they want is money, guns, helicopters, and to keep control of this
country in their own hands. They know that they are perilously close to
losing control. what that will mean for them is simple, no more contracts
to build highways and airports - Bechtel or some other US firm will get the
contract. No more joint ventures to build Chevrolets - Gneral Motors will
do it themselves - and maybe not in Colombia. Coffee prices will fall
furher, and coal and oil prices (for export). But subisdies of gas for the
nationally owned bus and truck fleets will end.

However, there is a strong minority of the local capitalist class here
which wants both troops and NAFTA. The FARC has played into that faction's
hands. The big Colombian captialists have been steadyily shifting into the
camp of Alvaro Uribe Velez, and with them, are going many, many of hte
petty bourgeoisie.

In other words, I think direct US military intervention is not in the cards
in the short run. Even if Uribe Velez is elected, I think it unlikely.

Yesterday, Horacio Serpa, the social-democratic Liberal, denounced US
troops in Caguan. Maybe he will get elected.

As for my questions about his publication project, Carlos wrote,

"a) Your own listing of who is behind the two publications you mentioned is
the first answer. The "antiwar' publication is just an attempt to repeat
the experiment of the Guardian in the 70s, but the forces behind it are no
longer the same, nor are the political conditions or the new movements. It
will fade away or remain irrelevant, soon rather that later. As the new
political processes in the world seem to indicate, the old ways of the left
are no longer valid;"

Interesting comment. Could you explain a little how you publication will
differ, other than its name, for the no longer valid , "old ways of the left."

" b) the "Left Turn" is an artificial creation financed by the British SWP.
That space is already occupied in the US by the ISO. Whether it will be an
small drone of the British in the shadows of the ISO or will disintegrate
into a formation such of Solidarity, the extension of its effectiveness is
determined by its origin and material possibilities."

Another interesting, and quite possibly wrong, comment. Carlos I suggest
you read the earlier posts on this list bout "Left Turn" before you pass
final judgement on them.

By the way, isn't your group part of the CWI?

In any case, you still haven't explained what your project is.


Louis Proyect
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