Opinions, facts, Iraq, Brazil

Nestor Gorojovsky nestorgoro at fibertel.com.ar
Tue Sep 9 12:15:03 MDT 2003

El Lunes 8 de Septiembre de 2003 a las 21:31,
Lueko Willms dijo sobre Re: Was the fall of Saddam "a good thing"? que:

> I understood Bob Gould's sentence:
> > Gould's Book Arcade wrote:
> >> Nevertheless, despite the reactionary means of its removal,
> >> the fall of the hated Hussein regime was a good thing, from
> >> the point of view of the majority of the Iraqi masses who
> >> loathed the regime.
>    ... to mean that the majority of the Iraqi masses viewed the
> destruction of the Hussein regime as a "good thing", which is a fact, in
> my opinion.

How can one debate with someone who turns his own opinion in fact? I
tend to believe that on this issue, Lüko, you have been dragged too
far from reasonable argument:  "the Iraqi masses viewed the
destruction of the Hussein regime as a 'good thing', WHICH IS A FACT,
IN MY OPINION" [My emphasis, NMG]

Allow me however to -quite hopelessly- try to reason with you.

Let us assume, _for the sake of argument_, that you are right and
Hussein's was a regime of horror and death.  I tend to be skeptical
on every such an allegation on a Third World regime, not because they
are never horrible and deadly, but because I tend to see the iron
fist of the Wehrmacht (or its current replacements) beneath the
velvet glove of propaganda; living in such a country as Argentina
produces some degree of sensitivity against these imperialist
operations, if you understand what I mean.

But let us brush my qualms aside. I give you the truth, no quarrel.
Now, if you are right, then, it would be very difficult to guess what
the actual feelings of the Iraqi masses were _during Saddam's
government_. These regimes generate very silent, shy, and, yes,
hypocritical people. You need to live, you know. So you learn to
conceal your feelings to yourself.

I have known of people who were the closest in-laws in Spain, who had
been living for decades under the same roof, and who only learnt that
both were Socialists after Franco's death. I guess we can agree in
that Franco was no less (nor more) murderous than Saddam, can we? So
there. Neither you nor me nor anyone outside Iraq can actually know
what were the feelings of the Iraqi people under Saddam Hussein.

On the other hand, horror and death are not exempted from a class
content. The issue being here against which classes was that horror
and death directed. And the other issue being that what generally
perspires as "people" in foreign countries are the middle classes.
Horror and death against the middle classes, sometimes, can be
inflicted by a brutal popular regime, with very deep support among
the deeper and most exploited masses. I am not _avowing_ such a
policy. But this happens. I would not say that this has not happened
in Iraq. Middle classes, too, tend to be oversensitive. When Perón
imposed the rule of the law on housemaids (mostly poor girls coming
from the Inland country to serve at middle class homes in Buenos
Aires --service including sometimes sexual service to the teen age
children of the good citizens who hired her), the middle classes felt
it as a monstrous attack. I am not guessing here. I positively KNOW
that this is the way it was. No wonder that when Perón was
overthrown, middle class people were toasting to it in the dining
rooms while servants were crying, silently, in the kitchens.

The analogy with Peronism is quite apt. I am not, as Fred Feldman
believes, using an Argentinean cookie-cutter (BTW: unfortunately, we
are not manufacturing cookie-cutters in Argentina any more, thanks to
anti-Peronist policies...). I am simply stressing that while this was
good for them, Iraqi masses would not blame Saddam Hussein for his
friendship with the United States, that is not enough reason to lose
mass support in a Third World country.

I will not talk on Perón, I will talk on Brazil now, to give you
another example.  Getúlio Vargas, the great Brazilian national
bourgeois leader, committed many crimes from the point of view of a
Marxist anti-imperialist. He sent Olga Benário, the Jewish Communist
wife of Captain Prestes, to Germany, her birthplace, during the most
horrible years of Nazism. He also awarded the American Army a
complete military complex in North Eastern Brazil (BTW: in so doing,
he unknowingly set the stage for the creation of still another
wonderful Brazilian popular music, the forrô). He agreed to send
military personnel to the Second World War. His chief of police in
Rio de Janeiro was, for many years, a notorious Fascist, and he took
no measures against the pro-Nazi schools that mushroomed in Southern
Brazil (neither did the Chileans with the similars in Southern Chile,
BTW, but since the Chileans did not attempt to build up an
independent country they were spared the motto of Nazis).

The Brazilian middle classes hated him for this. But the Brazilian
masses thought otherwise. They observed the industrial growth of the
country, not as a UN statistician would, but as current President
Lula's parents did: by climbing for two or three days on a "pau-de-
arará" (literally, "parrots' perch", little trucks which brought
people from the Northeast to the great industrial cities in the
Southeast) to escape hunger and backwardness. They observed the Chart
of Rights of Labor, in a country that only fifty years ago had
abolished slavery. They observed the extended schooling system, which
would bring their offspring off illiteracy. They could _sense in
their fingertips_ that the government of Vargas was a truly Brazilian
government. And that was enough for them. They understood it very
well when Vargas burnt in a public square the flags of the States,
because they remembered the arrogance of the Southern States against
the national state, and the quite recent attempt at secession by the
richest state, Sao Paulo, in 1932.

And they supported the pro-Fascist, bed-fellow of imperialists, and
whatever else you want to know about him, Getúlio Vargas. It is quite
interesting to realize, now, that Getúlio ("o Velinho", the "little
old man", as he is now remembered) did all that simply because he
found it to be in the national interest of Brazil. That was the way
he thought, his mind did not work in terms of general categories, but
in those of a "slave of the people", as he defined himself.

So that I would call you to caution, Lüko, when talking on other
peoples' deep feelings. And let us assume, however, that you are
"right" in believing -together with the Bushites- that Iraqis felt
relieved that they were "liberated" by the imperialist soldiery.

Now they can compare. And, know what, they discover that what came
after Hussein was worse still than Hussein. On these cases I always
remember another tyrant, who would have probably lost the next
elections (1958) if there had been any, so unpopular he had become:
Juan Perón. Once, in exile, he said that "We were not good. But those
who followed us were a lot worse. That is why we shall return".

I am not predicting anything. I would not dare to say what are the
feelings of the Iraqi masses now, except for the outrage against
occupation. But Saddam has remained in Iraq, and he wouldn't have
done so without some degree of coverage (that is, mass support).
Those who followed him are a lot worse than him. That is an
interesting Molotov cocktail.

BTW: the Brazilian example was not an innocent one. Getúlio Vargas,
in 1945, was replaced by Gral. Dutra, and he left the House of
Government in the midst of an outraged outcry of "Out with the
Fascist". In 1950, he returned a perfect democrat. Then, in 1954,
when his plans to unite with Peron's Argentina were finally taking
shape, he was forced to commit suicide.

I guess that many a Brazilian must have thought that "o Velinho" had
done better as a tyrant than as a democrat.

But I wouldn't even dare to state that this opinion of mine is a

Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
nestorgoro at fibertel.com.ar

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
"Sí, una sola debe ser la patria de los sudamericanos".
Simón Bolívar al gobierno secesionista y disgregador de
Buenos Aires, 1822
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