[Marxism] Les enfants perdus de Ayiti? Not!

Jim Fleming jim at autonomedia.org
Sun Feb 22 16:07:15 MST 2004

On Feb 22, 2004, at 2:28 PM, Chris Brady wrote:

> There was a big difference between Aristide’s political behavior before
> he was deposed versus after he was reinstalled by US troops.  He was
> more of a populist before.  His movement lost a lot of steam during his
> imposed hiatus.
> Aristide’s opposition may have been pushed back by US armed force, but
> after the Lavalas tidal wave had swept across Haiti, it had actually
> anchored itself securely in coves of privilege across the country.
> Furthermore, Aristide was a chastened man when he returned, like a 
> child
> who required the intervention of a Big Daddy, while the bullies smirked
> on the sidelines.  All the other kids in the playground knew the score:
> he wouldn’t be there without Big Daddy.  In front of everyone, Big 
> Daddy
> sternly told him not to antagonize the bullies, and to behave himself.
> He was allowed to serve out his term, but forbidden to add on the years
> he lost.  He was effectively penalized for losing.  The bullies puffed
> their chests, and went inside for a bit, locking the gates of their
> mansions.
> I lived in Brooklyn when the Haitian revolt first erupted against Papa
> Doc’s son Meat Head.  Duvalier fled to France—where he was welcomed, 
> and
> ushered, with his trophy wife, retinue, and treasure, into a secure
> mansion.  Large numbers of Haitians live in New York.  Some celebrated
> the revolt.  Others were furious at Meat Head’s escape.  Then came the
> overthrow of their new leader.  I joined their mad march through the
> streets to Manhattan.  I was swept along for a few blocks, then stood
> and watched from the sidewalk of Flatbush Avenue as Black people darker
> than most African-Americans swelled past, anxious and angry, waving
> clenched fists and signs, waving red and blue flags, shouting in Kreole
> and heavily accented English.  It was an awesome sight, a glimpse of 
> its
> manifestation in their homeland.
> Aristide was a focal point, a leader from the masses, and a nightmare
> for the elites everywhere—just as the Haitian Revolution in 1803
> horrified and terrorized the Slavocracy of the Atlantic.  As in every
> revolution, there was a Thermidorian Reaction.  In Haiti, the more
> “moderate” elements of the revolt recoiled in horror from the upsurge 
> of
> the unwashed multitudes.   Perforce, they linked up with the revanchist
> elites yearning for their former power and status.
> Aristide scrambled to do what he could, whatever was left of his
> full-blown impulse to give the country to the poor.  Despite the
> meagerness of his moves, the rightwing in the USA, as is their wont,
> refused to distinguish the difference between populism and socialism—or
> if some did, they recognized that both took away the stuff of the 
> elites
> and gave it to the poor.  This is just wrong in their eyes.   Plus
> Aristide was reinstalled by the will of Bill—and the right would do
> anything to smear Clinton, including tarring everything he touched.
> In Haiti, the right shared the prejudices of their American brothers.
> Aristide should have purged his country of reactionary forces like the
> Revolution did in Cuba.  But he let them live—and prosper—like a good
> Christian.  That must have been one of the conditions of his sponsored
> return: do not become Robespierre.
> The people were desperately poor, kept in superstitious servitude for
> generations by greedy elites, mournfully uneducated, and understandably
> volatile.  Necklacings of the former regime’s enforcers did take place.
> Righteous right-wingers in the USA heckled and scolded against the
> excesses of the masses--criticism never heard against the murderous
> "White Guard" assassins and terrorists of the ancien regime.  Aristide
> could not rebuke the avengers without condemning his supporters.
> Afterall, they were only returning favors, evil, wicked gifts of
> decades, a debt that could never be fully repaid.
> Nevertheless, the anti-Aristide opposition was more seriously burnt by
> the concessions that Aristide gave to the people.  They were slight.
> There was no socialism.  Aristide tried to provide as much and as many
> give-aways as an impoverished state could manage while still remaining
> in the orbit of a capitalist economy controlled by the Goliath to the
> north.  And against increasing opposition.
> It is still too much for the elites.  Thanks to the USA, their
> expropriation is no longer an issue. It is off the table, out of sight,
> beyond consideration, not even remembered.  For them, the robbery of a
> dime is as much a crime.
> Aristide was caught between a rock and a hard place.  Reinforced by the
> return of the enforcers of the previous regime, and energized by
> transfusions from abroad, the elites coalesced into a forceful
> opposition.  They had a “responsible” section which articulated their
> demands and made a show of civil dissent.  And they built up an army.
> Many of the poor chafed under the impotence of a leader who was still
> restrained by the collar of capitalism.  Their poverty had not been
> substantially alleviated.  They felt betrayed.  Disenchanted, some
> failed to rush to Aristide’s defense.  Others, heedless and alienated,
> succumbed to the opportunities dangled by the rich and went over to get
> what they could in exchange for a switch in allegiances.  Many remained
> loyal to Aristide, well aware that his opponents really offered nothing
> better for the masses in Haiti.
> At this point, Aristide and his faithful followers are cornered.  They
> are called to submit again to the dictates of the superior civilization
> epitomized by the White, North Atlantic heirs to the Triangular Trade.
> But I submit to you, that if they do, it will be a tactical retreat.
> The struggle will continue.
> There can be no compromises in a just system based on the fair and
> equitable sharing of the world for all.  Compromise introduces
> contradiction.  Capitalism must be eliminated entirely.  Mais entends:
> it is not the individual humans of the bourgeoisie but the bourgeois
> order that must be destroyed.  Then we will all be liberated, and the
> world will be saved.  Yes, Haiti is an example.  Do not let it be in
> vain.
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jim at autonomedia.org
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