Anthony: Deeper, the Better

Alternative alternative at sbcglobal.net
Wed Feb 27 16:19:38 MST 2002


These are brief additional questions and comments that I have after
reading Anthony's reply.  I'm sorry I had no time to further elaborate.
I think the issue is worth exploring more in detail:

Anthony wrote:

"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 peace 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."

Comment:

In general I agree with this comment.  I also agree that the "peace
processes" as they were, are no longer possible or desirable for
imperialism.  There is no more Soviet Union, therefore there is no more
need for the US or Europe to negotiate by "proxy" with it.  There is no
more Stalinist wing of the status quo.  If you wish, negotiations and
peace agreements from now on would bare the crudest elements in dispute
of the sides conducting those "negotiations."  In other words, no
mediation or mediated elements.  That what explains the rapid shift to
the right of the FSLN, FMLN, Lula and the PT and a number of other
similar outfits.  There is no more room for geopolitical maneuvers based
on the existence of the Soviet Union.  On the other hand, there is no
more inevitability of the "peace process" as a trap designed by the
Stalinists as their negotiating chip with imperialism.  This opens a new
chapter for the "peace processes" and "negotiations", not their end,
IMHO.

Anthony:

"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."

Comment:

Lula is going, in slow motion, alongside the development of the European
former bourgeois-workers parties.  Blair, the Spanish and other former
social democratic parties moved comfortably and with speed into the
bourgeois arena of politics and shifted from "parliamentary agents" to
full swing bourgeois parties helped by the end of the 80s and the 90s'
retreats and defeats.

Lula and the PT have still ground to cover, miles to walk. But he is
learning, and fast.  His alliance now with a center right party - which
brought him left criticisms even from the Catholic Church activists...
Lula stamped out the critics by saying "I don't want to lose another
election ..." and indicated that was either his rightward shift or the
PT would have to look for another candidate for President.

Lula is obviously offering himself - as did the FSLN and the FMLN of
late - as the stabilizing, new born status quo party.  But the
difference between the FSLN/FMLN is that the PT is still rising, still
growing, still very much on the eyes of the working class in Brazil as
the party of the working class and the left.  The US just dismissed both
the FSLN and the FMLN.  There was nothing for the US to negotiate with
them.  No need, they are very domesticated by now and, more importantly,
they are parties without hopes of reviving as left wing alternatives and
they are rejected by the majority of their former constituencies.

But Brazil is not El Salvador or Nicaragua, but the most powerful,
developed and the stronger Latin American country - from whatever angle
you look at it.  And the PT is not the FMLN or the FSLN, but a mass
party of the working class - or so it appears to millions of industrial
workers and youth in Brazil. US imperialism cannot, under any
circumstances, operate military in Brazil.  So, US bets are either on
Lula himself going so much to the right as to serve as his agent or the
intervention of the military.  As opposed to Argentina, for example, the
Brazilian military is intact.  Its Bonapartist powers preserved by a
carefully orchestrated and progressive 'return to democracy.'  Yes, yes,
there were bumps on the road, but schematically they operated according
to the general plan and got, more or less, what they wanted.

I agree with you that is no possibility of a coup in the near future,
but the possibilities as they stand today are not very pleasant for the
Brazilian working class if they do not succeed in forging a leadership
past that of Lula.  In the medium term they are faced with either that
option or a defeat at the hands of a social democratic project or the
eventual partial or total takeover by another 1964.

It would be plain unthinkable that, faced with a future social and
economic situation similar to that of Argentina today, the Brazilian
bourgeoisie and its Armed Forces would stand for the "anarchy on the
streets."

The situation in other Latin American countries could face similar fate.


Anthony:

"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."

Comment:

Yes, that is obvious. But is not THAT obvious. Europe is NOT a
homogenous block.  Nor are the interests of France, Britain and Germany
the same.  Nor are their relationship with the US or Latin America the
same.  In the framework of social democracy, for example, there is a
faction that stands for the Tobin tax, opposition to globalization and
political intervention in the backyard of the US: Latin America.

This faction is behind Lula in Brazil, are the last line of defense for
the FSLN and the FMLN, the PRD and the Zapatistas in Mexico and they are
trying very hard with Chavez in Venezuela, they failed with the UCR is
Argentina (they had no other option than a decadent and backward
bourgeois party)... and they are trying to back this up with incremental
economic investments in the continent ( a fast survey of who owns the
state companies which were privatized in the continent in the last
decade and a growing number of maquiladoras would result in very
interesting figures of European investments.)

On the other hand, Britain is more akin with the US and its geopolitical
aims, partly because Britain is at odds with many of the continental
Europe's bourgeoisies and its economic interests respond to a great
degree to a different infrastructure than the continental bourgeoisies.
It is my impression that the US lost some ground in the battle since the
fall of the Stalinist states, which is now trying to regain after 9/11 -
not only in Latin America but other regions of the world and that Europe
is trying - but so far did not succeed - in having a homogenous strategy
to become the other side of the balance of imperialism.

Anthony:

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.

Comment:

Yes.  But the United States won decisive battles on this respect during
and immediately after the Second World War. Not only in Latin America
but in most other regions formerly colonies or semi colonies of the
British. The British, in turn, were the ones who won out against the
Dutch, French, etc in the previous period  It seems as if they (the US)
are now meddling with Central Asia and the Asian sub-continent.

I don't buy completely that the "rivalry was temporarily masked as all
the capitalists of the world joined in one big happy anti-communist
crusade" but this temporary softening of the rivalry - and the cold war
- were the sub-products of the emerging hegemony of the US to which
Europe subordinated to.  What is now in the cards is the challenge of
that hegemony and the present offensive of US imperialism and its "war
on terrorism" the form that the US counter-reaction is taking to that
challenge.

The fall of the Stalinist regimes was, IMHO, not only perceived by
significant layers of the mass movement as a defeat and a clear victory
for imperialism, but if we look closer, also meant some advantages to
the challengers of US hegemony in Europe. The military/political
offensive of the US after 9/11 is the US defensive response to a
situation in which they felt clearly challenged.

How is that manifested in Colombia: I'm not sure but it seems that "Plan
Colombia" - the thrust of the US policies, significantly modified after
9/11 - as opposed to the peace negotiations of sectors of the Europeans
- which is what you're saying, I believe.

But these processes are just starting and we will see more of that. The
old "bi-polar" world between the hegemonic US imperialism and its
relatively subordinated partners and the Soviet Union with its bourgeois
allies and the tacit encouragement of some of the imperialist minor
leaguers (relatively) is being replaced by a new, still in formation,
blocks of imperialist rivals.  I don't necessarily see it as Europe vs.
US, but as a more complex re-alignment that could even fracture Europe,
with some siding with the US and others opposing it,  make Japan take
sides against the US and relatively powerful national bourgeoisies
splitting along the fault lines.

This is not a more favorable situation for the mass movement, but worse,
in historical terms.  But contradictorily, it also offers new
opportunities to it because the absence of mediations or undisputed
reformist apparatuses of the working class with state power.

As I said, I have very limited time, but I did want to raise another two
questions:

I got your point about the not completely intentional "independence" of
the FARC pushed back from their attempts to become a social democratic
political expression by the murders of their public figures.  As I
recall this was done in alliance with the CP (the Patriotic Union?).
But then the FARC retreated back to their old strategy and broke off
with the CP.

What were the essential points of their break with the CP?

And the second question is the bourgeois character of the FARC.  I found
little analysis on this, which is also a critical question.  I'm under
the impression - probably totally wrong - that the FARC developed - from
their initial fundraising activities - kidnapping for ransom and taxing
the coca production - into the laundering businesses.  These included
gigantic investments in completely legitimate commercial and industrial
operations, including partnerships in industries - including some oil
investments - coffee plantations, cattle, hotels, tourism, financial
institutions, gems, etc

I read and saw some evidence of the FARC being part of a international
capitalist group with assets in a number of countries (Mexico, Panama,
US, some in Europe - including some allegations of investments in Social
democratic enterprises in the old continent, etc) and I suspect - this
situation also developed in Colombia and that in so doing they became
part of the Colombian bourgeoisie, as a sector of it, but in sharp
conflict with the most traditional bourgeois and oligarchic layers of
the ruling class.  Is anything you're aware, in writing, with solid data
that would talk about this, deny this or prove it?

Miscellaneous:

I followed your advice and I read the previous posts on the Left Turn in
this list and I saw little evidence to deny what I characterized of them
- a drone of the British SWP competing with an established ISO for the
same middle class niche or a future as part of a mish-mash project like
Solidarity.  Maybe I missed some other posts or maybe I'm plainly wrong
- something not unusual - but the fact remains that they are not a
factor with any impact at present.  By the way, I talked to a couple of
their members and they insist they are part of the IST.  But, again,
maybe that is just a reflection of their present stage, not the dynamic.

As to the other projects I mentioned, they will be public soon.  It will
be too long and too distracting, IMO, to the purposes of this list to
develop such a thread.

Cheers!

C.








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