Archive | April 7th, 2015

Bolivia’s Socialist Project and the Battle against Neoliberalism

NOVANEWS
Global Research
Bolivian Flag

In the open­ing salvos of Latin America’s uneven lurch to the Left in the early twenty-first cen­tury, Bolivia dis­tin­guished itself as the region’s most rad­i­cal socio-political ter­rain.[1] Left-indigenous move­ments in the coun­try­side and cityscapes alike threw the state into cri­sis and brought two suc­ces­sive neolib­eral pres­i­dents to their knees – Gon­zalo Sánchez de Lozada in 2003, and Car­los Mesa in 2005.[2] Evo Morales‘s party, the Movimiento al Social­ismo (Move­ment Toward Social­ism, MAS), leapt into the power vac­uum opened up by this series of revolts, and there has been seri­ous debate on the Left as to how best to but­ton down the cen­tral polit­i­cal dynamic of the coun­try ever since. In a coun­try where 62 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion self-identified as indige­nous in the 2001 cen­sus, Morales became the first indige­nous pres­i­dent through the Decem­ber 2005 elec­tions with 54 per cent of the pop­u­lar vote, assum­ing office in Jan­u­ary 2006. He repeated this extra­or­di­nary elec­toral suc­cess in Decem­ber 2009, with 64 per cent, and again in Octo­ber 2014, with 61 per cent.

The pro­lific writ­ings of Vice-President Álvaro Gar­cía Lin­era offer one win­dow into the com­plex­i­ties of the polit­i­cal, ide­o­log­i­cal, and eco­nomic devel­op­ments that have tran­spired since Morales first assumed office.[3] With that in mind, the fol­low­ing detailed expo­si­tion and crit­i­cal inter­ro­ga­tion of the core argu­ments advanced in his 2011 book, Ten­siones cre­ati­vas de la rev­olu­ción [Cre­ative Ten­sions of the Rev­o­lu­tion], is meant to shed some light on what is at stake in the com­pet­ing char­ac­ter­i­za­tions of the “process of change” unfold­ing in Bolivia since 2006.[4] If for many read­ers, only pass­ingly famil­iar with the coun­try, Gar­cía Lin­era might seem to rep­re­sent Boli­vian rad­i­cal the­ory tout court, in fact his intel­lec­tual out­put over the last nine years has been com­par­a­tively shal­low, heav­ily deter­mined by his role as second-in-command of the state appa­ra­tus. The rich and demand­ing provo­ca­tions of his early work have largely been eclipsed by man­age­r­ial apologia.

Recognized by Many on the Left

Still, Cre­ative Ten­sions is arguably the most impor­tant and sophis­ti­cated intel­lec­tual state­ment Gar­cía Lin­era has made since he became vice-president. The text embod­ies, I would argue, most of the core fea­tures that dom­i­nate com­mon inter­pre­ta­tions of the Boli­vian process on the inter­na­tional Left. This is no acci­dent. Gar­cía Lin­era has care­fully cul­ti­vated the transna­tional dis­sem­i­na­tion of his per­spec­tive on the con­junc­ture. Slavoj Žižek, Enrique Dus­sel, Bruno Bosteels, Michael Hardt, David Har­vey, and Marta Har­necker are just a few of the inter­na­tional intel­lec­tu­als of the broad Left invited to par­tic­i­pate in state-sponsored forums with the vice-president. His work has been fea­tured in New Left Review, and there is now a major edited col­lec­tion of his writ­ings avail­able in Eng­lish.[5]

Gar­cía Lin­era is reg­u­larly invited to speak at events spon­sored by var­i­ous cur­rents of the Left through­out West­ern Europe, but par­tic­u­larly in Spain and France. For Íñigo Erre­jón, one of the lead­ing fig­ures in the ascen­dant Podemos party of the Span­ish state, Gar­cía Lin­era is a guid­ing intel­lec­tual and polit­i­cal light. The Boli­vian vice-president’s intel­lec­tual influ­ence reaches deeply into the North Amer­i­can Left as well, as exem­pli­fied in his recent head­lin­ing of the Left Forum in New York City. The renowned Argen­tine Marx­ist Atilio Borón relies heav­ily on Gar­cía Linera’s recent writ­ings in his award-winning 2012 book,América Latina en la geopolítica del impe­ri­al­ismo [Latin Amer­ica in the Geopol­i­tics of Impe­ri­al­ism],[6] and the promi­nent Brazil­ian the­o­rist Emir Sader is per­haps the Boli­vian politician’s most well-known intel­lec­tual par­a­clete in Latin Amer­ica. One could eas­ily go on.

Given the promi­nence of Cre­ative Ten­sions within the vice-presidential oeu­vre, it is worth­while to unpack some of its most crit­i­cal ana­lyt­i­cal ele­ments and to assess them along­side rel­e­vant aspects of the con­crete his­tor­i­cal and empir­i­cal record. A close read­ing of this text high­lights the neces­sity of devel­op­ing alter­na­tive inter­pre­ta­tions of the present Boli­vian con­junc­ture. Any seri­ous alter­na­tive would need to adhere vig­or­ously and cre­atively to the broad tra­di­tion of his­tor­i­cal mate­ri­al­ism and indige­nous lib­er­a­tion, as well as the spirit of com­bined lib­er­a­tion on dis­play in the 2000-2005 left-indigenous cycle of insur­rec­tion. In other words, we still require starkly con­trast­ing intel­lec­tual foun­da­tions to those on offer in Cre­ative Ten­sions if we are to cap­ture both the rev­o­lu­tion­ary essence of the 2000-2005 rebel­lions, and the set­backs they expe­ri­enced once Evo Morales assumed the pres­i­den­tial office in 2006.

Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Chronologies

Gar­cía Lin­era sets the stage in the open­ing pages of Cre­ative Ten­sions by list­ing some of the his­toric con­quests osten­si­bly achieved by the Morales gov­ern­ment already by 2011, or one year into the sec­ond admin­is­tra­tion. Neolib­er­al­ism had been defeated. There had been a recov­ery of social and state con­trol over pub­lic wealth, which in the ortho­dox neolib­eral period of the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s had been con­cen­trated in pri­vate hands. The Morales regime had put a deci­sive end to the rit­ual sub­or­di­na­tion of gov­ern­ment decision-making to the Amer­i­can embassy and inter­na­tional finan­cial insti­tu­tions (IFIs), such as the World Bank and the Inter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund (IMF).

By 2011, as never before, indige­nous and mes­tizo (mixed race) cit­i­zens had equal say in the man­age­ment of state power. The cor­rupt polit­i­cal class asso­ci­ated with the imple­men­ta­tion of neolib­er­al­ism had been defeated through the implo­sion of their tra­di­tional polit­i­cal par­ties. Var­i­ous right-wing con­spir­a­cies ema­nat­ing from bour­geois auton­o­mist forces in the east­ern low­land depart­ments of Santa Cruz, Tar­ija, Beni, and Pando had been defeated, secur­ing once more the inte­gral unity of the Boli­vian nation-state.[7] In the place of these prob­lems of the past, the “Process of Change” had – through a com­mit­ment to pluri­na­tion­al­ity, indige­nous ter­ri­to­r­ial auton­omy, and a plural econ­omy – brought to life a new, com­mu­ni­tar­ian repub­li­can­ism rooted in the growth of the col­lec­tive wealth of all Bolivians.

A fun­da­men­tal con­ti­nu­ity, accord­ing to Gar­cía Lin­era, links the extra-parliamentary begin­nings of the rev­o­lu­tion­ary process in 2000 and its con­sol­i­da­tion in the var­i­ous admin­is­tra­tions of the Morales gov­ern­ment. The process, from this per­spec­tive, con­sists of five stages, through which we can track the his­tor­i­cal deep­en­ing and exten­sion of a rev­o­lu­tion­ary epoch, full of poten­tial and instability.

Phase I: 2000-2003

The ana­lyt­i­cal high­lights of the first phases of the rev­o­lu­tion­ary epoch in Gar­cía Linera’s account broadly par­al­lel the con­tours of most rad­i­cal accounts of the left-indigenous cycle of revolt in its open­ing years. Aspects of my own his­tor­i­cal sur­vey in Red Octo­ber are indebted to a whole series of his jour­nal­is­tic and the­o­ret­i­cal writ­ings com­posed over that period.

The first phase begins in 2000 with the Cochabamba Water War against the World Bank-driven pri­va­ti­za­tion of munic­i­pal water ser­vices in that city. A punc­tu­ated process of rural and urban mobi­liza­tion cul­mi­nates in the pop­u­lar seizure of the city and the emer­gence of local­ized forms of dual power. The movement’s suc­cess­ful rever­sal of the pri­va­ti­za­tion of water marks the first defen­sive vic­tory of left-indigenous forces in Bolivia since the intro­duc­tion of neolib­eral restruc­tur­ing in 1985. The strate­gic hori­zons of the Cochabamba insur­rec­tion and the reper­toire of coor­di­nated road block­ades, civic strikes, street bat­tles, and urban pop­u­lar assem­blies begin to rever­ber­ate through­out the rest of the coun­try over the next few years.

The Cochabamba Water War reveals the fun­da­men­tal weak­ness of the neolib­eral regime and sev­eral of the key pil­lars of state dom­i­na­tion begin to irrev­o­ca­bly unravel. The insti­tu­tion­al­ity of Boli­vian neolib­er­al­ism begins to come apart at the seams with the ter­mi­nal decline of the three main­stream par­ties respon­si­ble for its gov­er­nance – in the form of coali­tions and pacts – since 1985. The legit­i­macy of neolib­eral ideas recedes as the promised tide to lift all boats fails to arrive. The rulers can no longer con­tinue rul­ing as they have, and the ruled will no longer accept the estab­lished frame­work of dom­i­na­tion. The cor­re­la­tion of forces begins to change.

Draw­ing, with­out acknowl­edge­ment, on the work of Boli­vian anthro­pol­o­gist Sil­via Rivera Cusi­can­qui, Gar­cía Lin­era argues that the Cochabamba moment brings together a set of long and short term con­tra­dic­tions.[8] The long term con­tra­dic­tions accu­mu­lated over cen­turies. They involve a clash between a mono­cul­tural state run by white and mes­tizo elites and a pluri­na­tional soci­ety in which a major­ity are indige­nous peas­ants and work­ers, as well as a cen­tral­ized state in prac­tice, against a pop­u­lar appetite for a decen­tral­ized society.

The short-term con­tra­dic­tions run­ning in and through those of the longer durée include the pop­u­lar demand for the nation­al­iza­tion of nat­ural resources against the neolib­eral regime’s com­mit­ment to per­sis­tent pri­va­ti­za­tion, as well as the monop­o­liza­tion of polit­i­cal power in the hands of tra­di­tional neolib­eral par­ties and the appetite from below for social democ­ra­ti­za­tion which emerges with the first expe­ri­ence of pop­u­lar power in the neolib­eral epoch. The sub­al­tern classes have in this moment begun to con­test the ter­ri­to­r­ial, ide­o­log­i­cal, and sym­bolic con­trol of soci­ety.[9]

Phase II: 2003-2005

The sec­ond phase endures for five years of what Gar­cía Lin­era, draw­ing on Gram­sci, calls a cat­a­strophic equi­lib­rium. The regime of state dom­i­na­tion is par­a­lyzed. Two power blocs emerge, with com­pet­ing projects for power. An east­ern low­land bour­geois bloc mobi­lizes around an auton­o­mist agenda but ulti­mately desires to regain con­trol over the national state, and to deepen and extend the neolib­eral project ini­ti­ated in pre­ced­ing decades. A national-popular bloc of left-indigenous forces that began to take form in Cochabamba in 2000 extends over the com­ing years and achieves regional hege­mony in the West­ern high­lands, includ­ing the cap­i­tal city of La Paz. The high points of this emer­gence are the so-called Gas Wars of 2003 and 2005, in which the entire west­ern part of the coun­try is repeat­edly shut down for weeks on end as hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple mobi­lize and suc­cess­fully oust pres­i­dents Sánchez de Lozada and Mesa in suc­ces­sion. But nei­ther bloc enjoys suf­fi­cient ide­o­log­i­cal, social, eco­nomic, polit­i­cal, or mil­i­tary power to reign over the other and con­sol­i­date itself on a national scale. Thus an embat­tled equi­lib­rium per­sists. There’s sand in the gears of the old rou­tines of dom­i­na­tion, but no viable machin­ery of the pop­u­lar is yet able to take its place.[10]

Phase III: 2006-2008

It is in phase III that Gar­cía Linera’s account begins to diverge from oth­ers on the Left. Unsur­pris­ingly, the moment of the Decem­ber 2005 elec­tions is one of gen­er­al­ized polit­i­cal and intel­lec­tual dis­pu­ta­tion inside the Boli­vian Left, as the chal­lenges of relat­ing to a ris­ing elec­toral rhythm of events begin to sup­plant those of nav­i­gat­ing the unleashed ener­gies of street barricades.

Phase III, as Gar­cía Lin­era con­cep­tu­al­izes it, notably cor­re­sponds with the first period in which he is for­mally inside the MAS party – he was never a mem­ber until accept­ing the vice-presidential can­di­dacy in late 2005. Whereas some crit­i­cal observers saw the dynamic of the 2005 elec­tions as one which imme­di­ately posed the dan­gers of bureau­cra­ti­za­tion and coop­ta­tion of the 2000-2005 rev­o­lu­tion­ary epoch – a poten­tial damming of the flood of com­bined lib­er­a­tion – Gar­cía Lin­era sees fun­da­men­tal con­ti­nu­ities with phase II.[11]

For the Vice Pres­i­dent, the sym­bolic order of the uni­verse is over­turned as the first indige­nous pres­i­dent of the repub­lic assumes office in Jan­u­ary 2006. The capac­ity for mobi­liza­tion revealed in the 2003 and 2005 Gas Wars is par­tially trans­formed by a new ter­rain, one in which social move­ments are now present within the state appa­ra­tus. Still, over­lap­ping log­ics con­nect phase III with the sec­ond phase, espe­cially inso­far as the cat­a­strophic equi­lib­rium has not been resolved, and indeed can­not be resolved merely through the elec­toral suc­cess of one of the two com­pet­ing socio-political blocs. The sym­bolic over­turn­ing of the old order embod­ied in the rise of the first indige­nous pres­i­dent has brought about the loss of gov­ern­men­tal power for the old polit­i­cal elites, but the eco­nomic power of the dom­i­nant classes and their exter­nal allies still enjoy ulti­mate, infor­mal con­trol of state power. The gov­ern­ment is con­trolled by insur­rec­tion­ists, whereas state power – its eco­nomic and insti­tu­tional logic as an appa­ra­tus of cap­i­tal­ist repro­duc­tion – is still in the hands of the dom­i­nant classes.[12]

Phase IV: 2008-2010

A fourth phase unfolds between 2008 and 2010 and marks for Gar­cía Lin­era a “point of bifur­ca­tion,” or the Jacobin moment of the rev­o­lu­tion. Two irrec­on­cil­able projects are set against one another in com­bat for hege­mony within soci­ety. They are forced to square off in this stage, to openly mea­sure the strength of their num­bers in unmedi­ated con­fronta­tion. There is no other exit here but for one to come out on top.

The most intense moments in this naked show­down play them­selves out between August and Octo­ber 2008. Over these few months the con­ser­v­a­tive east­ern low­land bloc launches a civic-coup attempt in an effort to desta­bi­lize the Morales admin­is­tra­tion. Air­ports are seized in the low­land depart­ments; offi­cial state build­ings are attacked in these areas; and gov­ern­ment planes are pre­vented from land­ing in parts of the coun­try. The civic-coup attempt reaches its apogee in a mas­sacre of peas­ant sup­port­ers of the gov­ern­ment in the depart­ment of Pando.

The gov­ern­ment then counter-mobilizes its social base. The coup-plotters lose momen­tum as the trav­esty of the peas­ant mas­sacre is linked to the gov­er­nor of Pando, an impor­tant fig­ure in the east­ern low­land bloc. The coor­di­na­tion of their social base frag­ments rapidly, and they are forced to capit­u­late. The gov­ern­ment marks its vic­tory with the expul­sion of the Amer­i­can ambas­sador, Philip Gold­berg, from the coun­try fol­low­ing accu­sa­tions of his involve­ment in the desta­bi­liza­tion campaign.

This is the point of bifur­ca­tion. The pop­u­lar defeat of the east­ern low­land insur­rec­tion­ists by the national-popular bloc is con­sol­i­dated through the pass­ing of a new Con­sti­tu­tion in Con­gress in Octo­ber 2008, fol­lowed by its approval in a pop­u­lar ref­er­en­dum. Finally, Morales wins the pres­i­den­tial elec­tions in Decem­ber 2009 with an his­toric 64 per ­cent of the pop­u­lar vote, ush­er­ing in the fifth phase of the rev­o­lu­tion­ary process which con­tin­ues into the present.[13]

Gar­cía Linera’s care­ful depic­tion of the fourth phase offers a neat jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for the oft-employed offi­cial expla­na­tion of the slow pace of reform ini­ti­ated by the MAS gov­ern­ment dur­ing its first term in power. On this view, the Right was too strong in 2006 for the state to move for­ward with full nation­al­iza­tion of nat­ural gas and other strate­gic sec­tors, or to offer a gen­uine trans­for­ma­tion of agrar­ian land tenure and social prop­erty rela­tions, or to ini­ti­ate a truly par­tic­i­pa­tory and trans­for­ma­tive Con­stituent Assem­bly; instead, nego­ti­a­tion and com­pro­mise with the east­ern low­land bour­geoisie was nec­es­sary. Even with such nego­ti­a­tion and mod­er­a­tion, the civic-coup attempt revealed the bel­liger­ence of the Right and the sound­ness of the mea­sured hes­i­ta­tion on the part of the government.

A more plau­si­ble inter­pre­ta­tion might be that in the recent his­tory of Bolivia the Right had never been as weak as it was in the open­ing months of 2006. It had been utterly defeated polit­i­cally and ide­o­log­i­cally through the events of 2000 to 2005. Had bel­liger­ent forces from the east­ern low­land been capa­ble of pulling off a mil­i­tary coup, it would have hap­pened in Octo­ber 2003 or June 2005, at the height of the con­sti­tu­tional crises brought on by the Gas Wars. So a counter-revolution in the Chilean reg­is­ter of 1973 was not in the cards.

The MAS gov­ern­ment had a mobi­lized social base and faced a polit­i­cally defeated oppo­si­tion in 2006. Had it encour­aged social mobi­liza­tion and inde­pen­dent self-organization for deter­mined class strug­gle in the cities and the rural areas, much deeper trans­for­ma­tion may have been pos­si­ble. The civic coup of 2008 might never have happened.

Else­where in South Amer­ica, the dynamic of extra-parliamentary activism was in its strongest state of recent decades. U.S. impe­ri­al­ism, mean­while, was over­stretched mil­i­tar­ily in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the global com­modi­ties boom had ini­ti­ated an unsta­ble moment of rel­a­tive auton­omy for South Amer­ica vis-à-vis the usual dic­tates of the inter­na­tional finan­cial insti­tu­tions and inter­na­tional capital.

Instead of rec­og­niz­ing this oppor­tu­nity, how­ever, the Morales gov­ern­ment actively reigned in its social base, decel­er­ated social and eco­nomic reform, and used its polit­i­cal hon­ey­moon to nego­ti­ate with an effec­tively defeated Right, allow­ing time for the latter’s reartic­u­la­tion. As a result, what had been an anaemic east­ern low­land oppo­si­tion in 2006 was by 2008 a renewed polit­i­cal force – by now actu­ally capa­ble of desta­bi­liz­ing the process of change for a period, even if ulti­mately too clumsy to retake state power altogether.

Phase V: 2010-

The defin­ing fea­ture of the rev­o­lu­tion­ary process since 2010, accord­ing to Gar­cía Lin­era, is the emer­gence of what he calls “cre­ative ten­sions” or con­tra­dic­tions. In this fifth stage, con­tra­dic­tions between two com­pet­ing projects for soci­ety are resolved with the vic­tory of the national-popular bloc, but ten­sions remain within the con­sti­tu­tive sec­tors of the process of change itself. In this optic, the cre­ative ten­sions, if prop­erly man­aged, can help push along the course of the rev­o­lu­tion. They can pos­i­tively rein­force one another and mutate into pro­duc­tive sub­jec­tive and objec­tive forces of the revolution.

The point of ref­er­ence shifts momen­tar­ily at this point in the nar­ra­tive from Gram­sci to Mao, as Gar­cía Lin­era out­lines what he takes to be the pri­mary and sec­ondary con­tra­dic­tions of the con­junc­ture. The fis­sures of the for­mer divide the sup­port­ing ele­ments of the national-popular project, on one side, and the array of impe­r­ial forces lined up against it, together with the rem­nants of the recal­ci­trant domes­tic Right, on the other. The sec­ondary con­tra­dic­tions are the cre­ative ten­sions inter­nal to the rev­o­lu­tion­ary process itself. Specif­i­cally, a four­fold array of cre­ative ten­sions among the peo­ple can be tran­scended through demo­c­ra­tic and rev­o­lu­tion­ary means within the process of change itself.

(i) State-society relations

The first of the four involves the rela­tion­ship between state and soci­ety.[14] The open­ing ide­o­log­i­cal move here is to advance the claim that the Morales admin­is­tra­tion is a “gov­ern­ment of social move­ments.”[15] The state is con­cep­tu­al­ized in this sec­tion as a con­cen­tra­tion of decision-making power, coer­cion, bureau­cratic admin­is­tra­tion, and the ideas that artic­u­late soci­ety. Social move­ment, on the other hand, is under­stood to be a democ­ra­ti­za­tion of decision-making, involv­ing wide-scale and con­tin­u­ous social­iza­tion of delib­er­a­tive processes, and the col­lec­tive self-governing of com­mon affairs by the lower orders. A gov­ern­ment of social move­ments rep­re­sents a cre­ative ten­sion between the two, a dialec­tic, in which the simul­ta­ne­ous con­cen­tra­tion and decen­tral­iza­tion of decision-making power occurs. A gov­ern­ment of social move­ments exists in con­stant ten­sion between these two poles, between the nec­es­sary short-term monop­o­liza­tion of exec­u­tive action to achieve results, and the longer-term processes of pop­u­lar demo­c­ra­tic decision-making.

Here, too, we encounter the first men­tion of Gramsci’s notion of the “inte­gral state,” under­stood by Gar­cía Lin­era as the dialec­ti­cal over­com­ing of the ten­sion between the state as a machine of decision-making con­cen­tra­tion, and a social move­ment as a machine of demo­c­ra­tic decen­tral­iza­tion.[16] The achieve­ment of an inte­gral state will only be pos­si­ble over the long durée, and will depend on the per­pet­ual motion of strug­gle from below for decades, per­haps even for cen­turies. This ten­sion remains alive in this way until, in a given moment, the dis­so­lu­tion of the state into soci­ety occurs, and the his­tor­i­cal res­o­lu­tion of the con­tra­dic­tion is achieved.[17]

The notion of a “gov­ern­ment of social move­ments” is per­haps the most sin­is­ter turn in Cre­ative Ten­sions thus far, allow­ing as it does for the easy denun­ci­a­tion of any inde­pen­dent trade union action or social-movement for­ma­tion as, by def­i­n­i­tion, if not nec­es­sar­ily by con­scious deci­sion, an expres­sion of the inter­ests of the domes­tic Right and impe­ri­al­ism. If the gov­ern­ment is social move­ment, inde­pen­dent orga­ni­za­tions of the oppressed nec­es­sar­ily become suspicious.

(ii) Multi-class Bloc

A sec­ond cre­ative ten­sion cen­ters on the multi-class char­ac­ter of the social bloc sup­port­ing the MAS gov­ern­ment. Here the fun­da­men­tally pop­ulist tenor of Gar­cía Linera’s pol­i­tics by this stage come to the fore, as the dis­tinct class inter­ests of each com­po­nent of the national-popular bloc are waved away as ulti­mately non-conflictual. Devel­op­ment, despite still being ruled by the logic of cap­i­tal­ist accu­mu­la­tion, can be under­stood as a vir­tu­ous cir­cle in which each com­po­nent part ben­e­fits, rather than a conflict-ridden, zero-sum game of exploitation.

We find in this sec­tion an explicit endorse­ment of the inclu­sion of the national bour­geoisie, or patri­otic cap­i­tal­ists, in the national-popular bloc.[18] There will be ten­sions, Gar­cía Lin­era rec­og­nizes, between work­ers and cap­i­tal­ists, but the way to resolve this ten­sion is through the con­ver­sion of the mean­ing of “the peo­ple” to include all Boli­vians – with­out excep­tion – who sup­port decol­o­niza­tion, the pluri­na­tional state, equal­ity between peo­ples, com­mu­ni­tar­i­an­ism and the indus­tri­al­iza­tion of the plural econ­omy. In these pas­sages Gar­cía Lin­era comes remark­ably close to argu­ing that key ele­ments of class con­flict can be over­come merely through an ide­o­log­i­cal bat­tle of ideas. The full con­ver­sion of the national bour­geoisie to the project of com­mu­ni­tar­ian social­ism and decol­o­niza­tion hinges here on an ide­al­ist notion of re-education.

The ten­sion at work in the multi-class char­ac­ter of the national-popular bloc, Gar­cía Lin­era rec­og­nizes, has to do with the dan­ger of broad­en­ing its social base so widely that the hege­mony of indige­nous work­ers and peas­ants is com­pro­mised. But this is under­stood to be an unavoid­able risk.[19]

(iii) Uni­ver­sal and Par­tic­u­lar Interests

A third ten­sion piv­ots on the notion of the gen­eral inter­ests of all of soci­ety and those which reflect merely the inter­ests of par­tic­u­lar indi­vid­u­als, sec­tors, or groups.[20] Here we encounter the log­i­cal esca­la­tion and tight­ened exclu­siv­ity of the notion of a gov­ern­ment of social move­ments. After 2009, for Gar­cía Lin­era, once the cat­a­strophic equi­lib­rium and point of bifur­ca­tion had been tran­scended, there rose to the sur­face a ten­sion between the fur­ther insti­tu­tion­al­iza­tion and con­sol­i­da­tion of the uni­ver­sal and gen­eral demands of the social-revolutionary bloc, as embod­ied in the MAS party, and the var­i­ous cor­po­ratist, sec­tional, frag­mented parts of the national-popular bloc.

If the inde­pen­dence of par­tic­u­lar­is­tic demands of social move­ments and unions are expressed, the dan­ger of a right-wing reartic­u­la­tion can­not be under­es­ti­mated.[21] By con­trast, the uni­fied con­sol­i­da­tion of the vic­tory of the uni­ver­sal­ist will, expressed in the pop­u­lar bloc and the MAS itself, would allow for the expan­sion and hege­monic deep­en­ing of the rev­o­lu­tion­ary process. If cor­po­ratist and union­ist par­tic­u­larisms assume a dom­i­nant posi­tion in the actions of the peo­ple, it would mark the begin­ning of a degen­er­a­tive stage in the rev­o­lu­tion­ary dynamic. It would pro­vide a point of depar­ture for the con­ser­v­a­tive restora­tion of a busi­ness bloc, in oppo­si­tion to the peo­ple.[22]

With these con­ve­nient turns of phrase, the stage is set for a series of con­dem­na­tions. The indige­nous low­land strug­gle against the build­ing of the high­way through con­sti­tu­tion­ally rec­og­nized indige­nous ter­ri­tory and a national park is reducible to a par­tic­u­lar­is­tic expres­sion of sec­tional inter­ests against the uni­ver­sal­ist and rev­o­lu­tion­ary will of the MAS gov­ern­ment.[23] Sim­i­larly, strikes ini­ti­ated by the Boli­vian Work­ers Cen­tral (COB) are cor­po­ratist devi­a­tions from the gen­eral inter­ests of the revolutionary-social bloc. A pop­u­lar mobi­liza­tion inde­pen­dent of the party, in the impov­er­ished depart­ment of Potosí, is like­wise con­demned.[24] Urban and rural teach­ers’ strikes are sim­i­larly deemed out of order, and some­how set out­side the realm of gen­uinely work­ing class pol­i­tics. The notion of a gov­ern­ment of social move­ments, express­ing by def­i­n­i­tion the uni­ver­sal­ist will of the pop­u­lar classes, obvi­ously leaves lit­tle room for inde­pen­dent class strug­gle and self-organization. Omi­nously, Gar­cía Lin­era closes this sec­tion with a call for the ide­o­log­i­cal elim­i­na­tion of resid­ual traces of the Right and Trot­sky­ism – lumped together – within the labor move­ment.[25]

(iv) Vivir Bien (Liv­ing Well), Ecol­ogy, and the Indus­tri­al­iza­tion of Nat­ural Resources

Ecol­ogy is the weight behind the fourth con­tra­dic­tion. There is a ten­sion, Gar­cía Lin­era con­tends, around the government’s com­mit­ment to indus­tri­al­ize nat­ural resources – par­tic­u­larly nat­ural gas and min­ing min­er­als – to meet basic needs, and its simul­ta­ne­ous pledge to sus­tain the envi­ron­ment and sup­port the indige­nous con­cept of vivir bien (liv­ing well), at the heart of which is a har­mo­nious rela­tion­ship with the pachamama, or Mother Earth. (Ibid., 62-71.) While this con­tra­dic­tion is some­thing that can­not be eas­ily escaped, Gar­cía Lin­era sug­gests that there has already been move­ment in the Boli­vian state under Morales of using the sur­plus gen­er­ated through indus­tri­al­iza­tion to remove itself grad­u­ally from the cap­i­tal­ist logic of pri­vate appro­pri­a­tion.[26]

This move­ment is seen as a communitarian-communist foun­da­tional ten­dency toward the expan­sive devel­op­ment of the logic of use-value, of the sat­is­fac­tion of human needs, as the prin­ci­pal dri­ver of eco­nomic activ­i­ties. While it is a process that has expe­ri­enced set­backs, Lin­era argues, there has nonethe­less been a gen­eral move­ment in the direc­tion of use-value over exchange-value, or the sub­or­di­na­tion of profit by human need as the dri­ving logic of eco­nomic activ­ity.[27] This is an extra­or­di­nary claim, which any­one even cur­so­rily aware of the con­tem­po­rary dynam­ics of Bolivia’s polit­i­cal econ­omy will have dif­fi­culty tak­ing seri­ously. How are we to rec­on­cile these pas­sages with the repeated praise received by the MAS admin­is­tra­tion for its sound macro­eco­nomic man­age­ment, fis­cal aus­ter­ity, and extra­or­di­nary accu­mu­la­tion of inter­na­tional reserves from the likes of the World Bank, the Inter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund (IMF), the Econ­o­mist Intel­li­gence Unit, the Finan­cial Times, and the Wall Street Jour­nal, among other rep­re­sen­ta­tives of global cap­i­tal. Have they all become communists?

To sum­ma­rize, then, accord­ing to Gar­cía Lin­era a rev­o­lu­tion­ary process opened up in 2000 and went through a vari­ety of phases. It cul­mi­nated in the elec­tion of Morales in 2005 and 2009, with its lat­est con­sol­i­da­tion work­ing its way through the Octo­ber elec­tions in 2014.[28] Hege­mony was achieved by 2010, after which ten­sions and con­tra­dic­tions of the process became cre­ative, inter­nal forces oper­at­ing within the national-popular bloc sup­port­ing the gov­ern­ment. The Boli­vian “peo­ple” were thus united around pluri­na­tion­al­ity, indige­nous ter­ri­to­r­ial auton­omy, and a plural econ­omy – involv­ing pub­lic, pri­vate, and social-communitarian forms of prop­erty, with the state pres­ence in the econ­omy sub­or­di­nat­ing the other forms of prop­erty. The process is in motion toward an inte­gral state, under­stood as the state’s ulti­mate dis­so­lu­tion into soci­ety, while the econ­omy is mov­ing – even with set­backs – to one dom­i­nated by the logic of use-value over exchange-value. Again, there is every rea­son to be sus­pi­cious of the post-2006 com­po­nents of this story, and it’s no sur­prise that a num­ber of left intel­lec­tu­als in Bolivia are increas­ingly insist­ing on a series of counter-narratives. These, in turn, are con­sti­tu­tive parts of a wider debate unfold­ing in Latin Amer­ica on the char­ac­ter and con­tent of the New Left gov­ern­ments across the region.

Gram­s­cian Wars of Posi­tion and Cap­i­tal­ist Continuities

In par­tic­u­lar, there is some­thing of a bat­tle over Gram­sci that is ongo­ing in con­tem­po­rary Latin Amer­ica. As against Gar­cía Linera’s use of hege­mony and inte­gral state, crit­i­cal Latin Amer­i­can the­o­rists are return­ing to Gramsci’s notion of pas­sive rev­o­lu­tion in an attempt to con­cep­tu­al­ize the processes of con­tain­ment occur­ring in many South Amer­i­can states presently occu­pied by left governments.

For the Italian-born, Mexican-based the­o­rist Mas­simo Mod­onesi, for exam­ple, the South Amer­i­can pas­sive rev­o­lu­tion today involves a process of mod­ern­iza­tion pushed for­ward from above, which par­tially and care­fully rec­og­nizes demands com­ing from those posi­tioned below; through this process, the state man­agers guar­an­tee the pas­siv­ity or sub­or­di­nate coop­er­a­tion of the pop­u­lar move­ments. New state-society rela­tions are built up by these regimes, cre­at­ing pre­car­i­ous but sur­pris­ingly last­ing equi­lib­ri­ums that func­tion for the repro­duc­tion of extrac­tive cap­i­tal­ism amid an expan­sion­ary period in com­mod­ity prices. At the top of the new con­fig­u­ra­tion of power rests a charis­matic pop­ulist along­side the insti­tu­tional mech­a­nisms of bureau­cra­ti­za­tion.[29]

In the Boli­vian case, Luis Tapia, a for­mer com­rade of Gar­cía Lin­era within the group of polit­i­cal the­o­rists known as Comuna, has per­haps done more than most to advance this argu­ment. He tries to under­stand how a rad­i­cal left-indigenous insur­rec­tionary process that over­threw two neolib­eral pres­i­dents through mass mobi­liza­tion was con­tained and redi­rected into the con­sol­i­da­tion of a state-capitalist process of mod­ern­iza­tion from above, built on an alliance with multi­na­tional cap­i­tal inter­ested in extract­ing nat­ural resources dur­ing a com­modi­ties boom.[30]

Mod­onesi and Tapia are ulti­mately more con­vinc­ing than Gar­cía Lin­era in every dimen­sion of the present con­junc­ture. Rather than an inte­gral state under­stood in the mode of the vice-president, Bolivia has meta­mor­phosed into a pro­to­typ­i­cal com­pen­satory state.[31] Amid a com­modi­ties boom dri­ven by China’s (slow­ing) dynamism, aggre­gate eco­nomic growth has been steady in Bolivia, aver­ag­ing 4.8% between 2006 and 2012, with an ini­tial apex of 6.1% in 2008 and a low of 3.4% in 2009, in the imme­di­ate fall­out from the world cri­sis. In 2013, the coun­try hit a new recent high of 6.8% growth, and is expected to be among the top three coun­tries in growth in Latin Amer­ica and the Caribbean in 2014. Accord­ing to fig­ures from the National Sta­tis­tics Insti­tute of Bolivia, gas exports con­sti­tuted 52.8% of total exports in the first trimester of 2013, fol­lowed by indus­trial man­u­fac­tur­ing (24.2%), min­ing (17.2%), and agri­cul­ture (4.5%). Last year, the coun­try logged a record peak of for­eign direct invest­ment, again mostly in gas. The Morales era has wit­nessed an unprece­dented accu­mu­la­tion of inter­na­tional reserves and rel­a­tively low lev­els of infla­tion.[32]

The MAS gov­ern­ment has been able to cap­ture a big­ger share of the rent gen­er­ated from this com­modi­ties boom than did ortho­dox neolib­eral regimes of the past, due to mod­er­ate increases in the taxes and roy­al­ties exacted from multi­na­tional petro­leum com­pa­nies, even if this doesn’t war­rant the label “nation­al­iza­tion.” As a result, there have been notable declines in poverty and extreme poverty, and improve­ments in health and edu­ca­tion. Offi­cial gov­ern­ment fig­ures sug­gest an impres­sive fall in poverty from 60.6% of the pop­u­la­tion in 2005 to 45% in 2011, and extreme poverty from 38.2% to 20.9% over the same period. Rural areas have been most affected, with extreme poverty falling from 62.9% in 2005 to 41.3% in 2011.[33] It is quite unsur­pris­ing in this con­text that the gov­ern­ment remains pop­u­lar elec­torally, but these trends in no way sub­stan­ti­ate the much more far-reaching claims advanced in Gar­cía Linera’s Cre­ative Ten­sions.

In what is per­haps the sin­gle most impor­tant essay to date on the eco­nom­ics of the Morales admin­is­tra­tion, Car­los Arze and Javier Gómez sys­tem­at­i­cally expose the polit­i­cal con­tra­dic­tions and empir­i­cal incon­sis­ten­cies at the heart of Gar­cía Linera’s Cre­ative Ten­sions, with­out actu­ally cit­ing the text.[34] Of their many insight­ful obser­va­tions, let me just point to their dis­cus­sion of the so-called plural econ­omy. Using the offi­cial cat­e­gories of the plural econ­omy denoted by gov­ern­ment doc­u­ments, devel­op­ment plans, and the writ­ings of Gar­cía Lin­era, Arze and Gómez mea­sure the present weight of the state, pri­vate (for­eign and domes­tic), com­mu­ni­tar­ian, and social-cooperative units of pro­duc­tion in the struc­ture of the Boli­vian econ­omy. They show how the biggest over­all weight in the struc­ture is that of pro­duc­tive units pri­vately owned by Boli­vian cit­i­zens – that is, domes­tic cap­i­tal­ist pro­duc­tion units, account­ing for 55 per cent and 53 per cent of Boli­vian gross domes­tic prod­uct (GDP) in 2005 and 2010 respec­tively. In 2005, the sec­ond sec­tor of rel­a­tive mag­ni­tude was that of for­eign cap­i­tal, with 22 per cent, leav­ing the state with 14 per cent, the com­mu­ni­tar­ian sec­tor with seven per cent, and the social-cooperative sec­tor with two per cent.[35]

In the struc­ture of the econ­omy in 2010, what we can see imme­di­ately is that the most impor­tant change has been that of the pres­ence of the state, increas­ing to 19 per cent of GDP. The five per cent change can be accounted for with ref­er­ence to the decrease in the pres­ence of for­eign cap­i­tal by three per cent of GDP, and of pri­vate Boli­vian cap­i­tal by two per cent. The com­mu­ni­tar­ian sec­tor accounts for merely 7 per cent in 2005 and drops to one per cent by 2010, while the social-cooperative sec­tor increases from 2 per cent in 2005 to three per cent in 2010.[36]

This sit­u­a­tion is a con­se­quence of the lim­ited para­me­ters of the processes com­monly referred to as nation­al­iza­tion. They have been cir­cum­scribed, in real­ity, to the recov­ery of major­ity shares for the state in cer­tain com­pa­nies pri­va­tized dur­ing the 1990s. Because nation­al­iza­tion has not meant the expro­pri­a­tion of pri­vate cor­po­ra­tions, and has also not meant the reestab­lish­ment of state monop­oly in any sec­tors of the econ­omy, many for­eign and national pri­vate enter­prises con­tinue par­tic­i­pat­ing in a hege­monic way across var­i­ous branches of eco­nomic activ­ity.[37]

In other words, this is a “plural econ­omy” in name only. Within the struc­tures of con­tem­po­rary Boli­vian econ­omy, fur­ther­more, Arze and Gómez demon­strate how the share of the total social prod­uct going to labor has decreased in rela­tion to the sur­plus being expro­pri­ated by pri­vate cap­i­tal. This fact cor­re­sponds with a tech­ni­cal increase in the rate of exploita­tion of the work­ing classes, even as var­i­ous social indi­ca­tors and mark­ers of liv­ing con­di­tions have improved as a result of a spike in accu­mu­la­tion in the con­text of a (recently declin­ing) global com­modi­ties boom.[38]

The notion of a plural econ­omy advanced by Gar­cía Lin­era and oth­ers within the Morales admin­is­tra­tion can­not account for the ten­den­cies of con­cen­tra­tion and cen­tral­iza­tion within cap­i­tal­ist accu­mu­la­tion. The con­tra­dic­tory dynamic between large scale cap­i­tal­ist enter­prises in the extrac­tive indus­tries and forms of smaller scale production-for-the-market which are sub­sumed into cap­i­tal­ist accu­mu­la­tion, causes an array of unsta­ble devel­op­ments across inter­me­di­ary class sec­tions in Boli­vian soci­ety. Street ven­dors, petty extrac­tivists, small-scale indus­trial pro­duc­ers, and medium-scale pro­duc­ers involved in com­mer­cial agri­cul­ture for export, all at incip­i­ent lev­els of accu­mu­la­tion, are increas­ingly mak­ing polit­i­cal demands on the Boli­vian state to improve their com­pet­i­tive prospects on the mar­ket.[39]

In the absence of struc­tural changes to social prop­erty rela­tions under the Morales admin­is­tra­tions, these kinds of demands have lead the state toward poli­cies of improv­ing the profit mar­gins of these petty sec­tors at the expense of waged labor: depres­sion of salaries, fur­ther pre­car­ity in labour rela­tions, flex­i­bi­liza­tion of ter­ri­to­r­ial rights to self-determination of rural indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties, relax­ation of envi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions, and loose imple­men­ta­tion of the law vis-à-vis con­tra­band import-export activ­i­ties and the nar­cotics indus­try.[40]

Fur­ther­more, the favor­able evo­lu­tion of own-account work­ers over the last sev­eral years – through access to credit and sub­si­dies, among other mea­sures – has allowed some seg­ments of this layer of the pop­u­la­tion to trans­form them­selves into small-scale cap­i­tal­ists, who then accu­mu­late prof­its through the exploita­tion of waged labour. Such phe­nom­ena are observ­able in min­ing, con­tra­band trade, com­mer­cial agri­cul­ture, and urban trans­port sec­tors, among many oth­ers areas of the con­tem­po­rary Boli­vian econ­omy.[41]

In such an envi­ron­ment, as Arze and Gómez point out, it is dif­fi­cult to dis­cern any move­ment toward com­mu­ni­tar­ian social­ism or vivir bien. Instead, what is notable is a typ­i­cal con­fig­u­ra­tion of depen­dent cap­i­tal­ism, in which for­eign cap­i­tal dom­i­nates an extrac­tive sec­tor des­tined for export mar­kets, while a layer of smaller domes­tic cap­i­tal­ists assumes a struc­turally sub­or­di­nate posi­tion; both of these sec­tors, mean­while, live off the exploita­tion of Boli­vian labor­ing classes. The state is not “inte­gral” here, at least in the man­ner envi­sioned by Gar­cía Lin­era. Rather it is a typ­i­cal cap­i­tal­ist state which ensures, as best it can, the repro­duc­tion of cap­i­tal­ist accumulation.

What’s more, the idea of a “pluri­na­tional state” in this con­text rep­re­sents lit­tle else than the bour­geois notion of the state as a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the “gen­eral inter­ests” of soci­ety.[42] As we come full cir­cle to the core con­cepts ani­mat­ing Gar­cía Linera’s Cre­ative Ten­sions, we arrive face to face with the text’s most basic eva­sion – that the cap­i­tal­ist class and state appa­ra­tus in a “plural econ­omy” will resist any and all inroads on capital’s total domination.

 

Notes:

1. An early ver­sion of this paper was pre­sented at the eighth annual con­fer­ence of His­tor­i­cal Mate­ri­al­ism, How Cap­i­tal­ism Sur­vives, Novem­ber 6-9, 2014, Lon­don. Thanks to Felipe Lagos for orga­niz­ing the panel on the work of Álvaro Gar­cía Lin­era and invit­ing me to par­tic­i­pate. I also pre­sented a ver­sion of this paper as part of the Devel­op­ment Stud­ies Sem­i­nar Series at SOAS, Uni­ver­sity of Lon­don in late Novem­ber 2014. Thanks to Adam Hanieh, Lean­dro Vergara-Camus, and Dae-Oup Chang for their insights on that occa­sion. Finally, edi­to­r­ial com­ments from Robert Cavooris and Asad Haider also sharp­ened the text.

2. For the best accounts of the 2000-2005 period in Eng­lish, see For­rest Hyl­ton and Sin­clair Thom­son, Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Hori­zons: Past and Present in Boli­vian Pol­i­tics, Lon­don and New York: Verso, 2007; Raquel Gutiér­rez Aguilar, Rhythms of the Pachakuti: Indige­nous Upris­ing and State Power in Bolivia, Durham and Lon­don: Duke Uni­ver­sity Press, 2014. My own inter­pre­ta­tion of the period is offered in Red Octo­ber: Left-Indigenous Strug­gles in Mod­ern Bolivia, Chicago: Hay­mar­ket, 2012.

3. Gar­cía Lin­era was born in Cochabamba in 1962, and trained as a math­e­mati­cian while in uni­ver­sity in Mex­ico. Upon return­ing to Bolivia he par­tic­i­pated in the short-lived Ejército Guer­rillero Túpaj Katari (Túpaj Katari Guer­rilla Army, EGTK), as a con­se­quence of which he spent five years in jail, between 1992 and 1997. He was never charged and was tor­tured while impris­oned. Upon his release he became a soci­ol­ogy pro­fes­sor at the main pub­lic uni­ver­sity in La Paz, a pro­lific writer on polit­i­cal affairs and social move­ments, and one of the most impor­tant TV per­son­al­i­ties of the 2000s, per­pet­u­ally mak­ing the rounds of the evening-news pro­grams and talk shows. Before becom­ing Vice Pres­i­dent Gar­cía Lin­era was one of the most promi­nent fig­ures in the multi-tendency Boli­vian Marx­ist intel­lec­tual col­lec­tive,Comuna, along­side Luis Tapia, Raquel Gutiér­rez Aguilar, Oscar Vega, Raúl Prada Alcoreza, and oth­ers.

4. Álvaro Gar­cía Lin­era, Ten­siones cre­ati­vas de la rev­olu­ción: La Quinta fase del Pro­ceso del Cam­bio, La Paz: Vicepres­i­den­cia del Estado Pluri­na­cional, 2011. [Available on SlideShare.]

5. Álvaro Gar­cía Lin­era, “State Cri­sis and Pop­u­lar Power,” New Left Review II, 37 (Jan-Feb) 2006, 73-85; Álvaro Gar­cía Lin­era, Ple­beian Power: Col­lec­tive Action and Indige­nous, Work­ing Class and Pop­u­lar Iden­ti­ties in Bolivia, Chicago: Hay­mar­ket, 2014.

6. Atilio Borón, América Latina en la geopolítica del impe­ri­al­ism (Hon­dar­ribia: Edi­to­r­ial Hiru, 2013). This text won the Pre­mio lib­er­ta­dor al pen­samiento crítico in 2012, spon­sored by the Venezue­lan gov­ern­ment of Hugo Chávez.

7. Gar­cía Lin­era, Ten­siones Cre­ati­vas, 8.

8. See Sil­via Rivera Cusi­can­qui, Oprim­i­dos pero no ven­ci­dos: luchas del campesinado aymara y quechua, 1900-1980 (La Paz: HISBOL-CSUTCB, 1984).

9. Gar­cía Lin­era, Ten­siones Cre­ati­vas, 12-14.

10. Ibid., 15-16.

11. For an analy­sis which empha­sizes the early signs that the MAS would seek to bureau­cra­tize, co-opt, and instru­men­tal­ize the epoch of 2000-2005 toward its own mod­er­ate, Center-Left ends, see Jef­fery R. Web­ber, From Rebel­lion to Reform in Bolivia: Class strug­gle, Indige­nous Lib­er­a­tion, and the Pol­i­tics of Evo Morales, Chicago: Hay­mar­ket, 2011.

12. Gar­cía Lin­era, Ten­siones cre­ati­vas, 16-18.

13. Ibid., 18-22.

14. Ibid., 28-38.

15. Ibid., 28.

16. Ibid., 29. It is not my con­cern here to mea­sure Gar­cía Linera’s fidelity to Gramsci’s own under­stand­ing of the inte­gral state.

17. Ibid., 30.

18. Ibid., 39.

19. Ibid., 38-40.

20. Ibid., 41-62.

21. Ibid., 49.

22. Ibid., 48.

23. For a fuller treat­ment of this issue see Jef­fery R. Web­ber, “Rev­o­lu­tion against ‘Progress’: Neo-extractivism, the Com­pen­satory State, and the TIPNIS Con­flict in Bolivia,” in Susan J. Spronk and Jef­fery R. Web­ber, eds., Cri­sis and Con­tra­dic­tion: Marx­ist Per­spec­tives on Latin Amer­ica in the Global Polit­i­cal Econ­omy. His­tor­i­cal Mate­ri­al­ism Book Series (Lei­den: Brill Aca­d­e­mic Pub­lish­ers, 2015).

24. For cov­er­age of the Potosí con­flict see Jef­fery R. Web­ber, The Rebel­lion in Potosí: Uneven Devel­op­ment, Neolib­eral Con­ti­nu­ities, and a Revolt against Poverty in Bolivia,” Upside Down World, August 16, 2010 (accessed on Jan­u­ary 2, 2015).

25. Gar­cía Lin­era, Ten­siones Cre­ati­vas, 62.

26. Ibid., 67.

27. Ibid., 67-68.

28. Although Ten­siones Cre­ati­vas was pub­lished in 2011, the same basic lines of argu­ment are restated in an opin­ion piece appear­ing after the elec­tions of Octo­ber 2014. See Álvaro Gar­cía Lin­era, “El Nuevo Campo Político en Bolivia,” La Razón, Novem­ber 2, 2014 (avail­able online at: www.la-razon.com/suplementos/animal_politico/nuevo-campo-politico-Bolivia_0_2153784735.html (accessed on Jan­u­ary 2, 2015).

29. Mas­simo Mod­onesi, “Rev­olu­ciones pasi­vas en América Latina: Una aprox­i­mación gram­s­ciana a la car­ac­ter­i­zación de los gob­ier­nos pro­gre­sis­tas de ini­cio del siglo,” in Mabel Thwaites Rey, ed., El Estado en América Latina: Con­tinuidades y rup­turas (Buenos Aires: CLACSO, 2012), 139-166.

30. Luis Tapia, El Estado de dere­cho como tiranía (La Paz: autode­ter­mi­nación, 2011).

31. Eduardo Gudy­nas, “Estado com­pen­sador y nuevos extrac­tivis­mos,” Nueva Sociedad, 237 (January-February), 2012, 128-146.

32. Jef­fery R. Web­ber, Man­ag­ing Boli­vian Cap­i­tal­ism,” Jacobin 13, 2014, 45-55.

33. Ibid.

34. Car­los Arze and Javier Gómez, “Bolivia: ¿El ‘pro­ceso de cam­bio’ nos con­duce al vivir bien?” In Car­los Arze, Javier Gómez, Pablo Ospina, and Víc­tor Álvarez, eds.,Prome­sas en su laber­into: Cam­bios y con­tinuidades en los gob­ier­nos pro­gre­sis­tas de América Latina (La Paz: CEDLA, 2013) 45-167.

35. Arze and Gómez, “Bolivia,” 100.

36. Ibid., 100-101.

37. Ibid., 102.

38. Ibid., 133-143.

39. Ibid., 164.

40. Ibid., 165.

41. Ibid., 166. On such processes of novel processes of class strat­i­fi­ca­tion in Boli­vian soci­ety, see also William Neu­man, “A Col­or­ful Boli­vian Bas­tion, Float­ing Above it All,” New York Times, May 13, 2013. Avail­able online at: www.nytimes.com/2013/05/14/world/americas/a-colorful-bolivian-bastion-floating-above-it-all.html(accessed on Jan­u­ary 3, 2015); Andres Schipani, “Bolivia’s Indige­nous Peo­ple Flaunt Their New-Found Wealth,” Finan­cial Times, Decem­ber 4, 2014; Miriam Shakow,Along the Boli­vian High­way: Social Mobil­ity and Polit­i­cal Cul­ture in a New Mid­dle Class (Philadel­phia, PA: Uni­ver­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia Press, 2014).

42. Arze and Gómez, “Bolivia,” pp. 165-167.

Posted in North AmericaComments Off on Bolivia’s Socialist Project and the Battle against Neoliberalism

Syria: Nazi Caught Red-handed Aiding Zio-Wahhabi Al-Qaeda

NOVANEWS
Global Research
Image result for Netanyahu CARTOON

21st Century Wire says…

What US and European media have been slow to figure out (or ignore), is how Israel is up to its neck in fueling the long dirty war next door in Syria.

Let’s be clear – once again Israel has been caught red-handed providing aid and comfort to Islamic militant terrorists in Syria, as reported by the Wall Street Journal (see full report below). Understand that this flies in the face of all of Benjamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu and the US Republican Party’s lyrical proclamations and hollow platitudes about how Israel is ‘leading the fight against terror’ in the region.

This is not the first time that we’ve reported on Israel’s direct intervention in Syria on behalf of al Qaedaal Nusra and ISIS. Previous reports in February 2015, and in January 2015in December 2014, and also in October 2014, all clearly demonstrate a pattern of Israel providing various levels of support to the different western and GCC-backed terrorist groups attempting to break-up the nation of Syria and overthrow Bashar al Assad’s government in Damascus.

Bibi-ISIS-Syria

BIBI AND AL NUSRA: Naziyahu visits a wounded Zio-Wahhabi terrorist fighter receiving medical care in Israel (Image: Information Clearing House).

Last fall, the Times of I$raHell reported:

“A Free Syrian Army commander, arrested last month by the Islamist militia Al-Nusra Front, told his captors he collaborated with Israel in return for medical and military support, in a video released this week.

In a video uploaded to YouTube Monday … Sharif As-Safouri, the commander of the Free Syrian Army’s Al-Haramein Battalion, admitted to having entered Israel five times to meet with Israeli officers who later provided him with Soviet anti-tank weapons and light arms. Safouri was abducted by the al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front in the Quneitra area, near the Israeli border, on July 22.

“The [opposition] factions would receive support and send the injured in [to Israel] on condition that the Israeli fence area is secured. No person was allowed to come near the fence without prior coordination with Israel authorities,” Safouri said in the video.”

Notice also how all of the so-called ‘Islamic Jihad’ terrorists groups operating in and out of Syria are completely focused on opposing President Bashar al Assad in Damascus – but have never once mentioned the plight of the Palestinian or raised a hand in the direction of the Jewish State of Israel. This proves conclusively that the US-Tel-Aviv-Riyadh Axis are absolutely in control of these terror cut-out groups.

The evidence speaks for itself, even though Israel and the US continue to play dumb…

 

Nosra_Netanyahou1

Naziyahu gives a pep talk to Zio-Wahhabi terrorists resting in I$raHell, before sending them back into the fight in Syria.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Syria: Nazi Caught Red-handed Aiding Zio-Wahhabi Al-Qaeda

Nazi Army Admits Aiding Zio-Wahhabi Al-Qaeda in Syria

NOVANEWS
Global Research
israel-nuke

An under-noticed news report last week confirmed previously-held suspicions and strong implications that Israeli troops are aiding the Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s official Syrian affiliate.

Speaking to Israeli occupation troops last week, a Wall Street Journal reporter on the ground in Mount Bental (part of the occupied Golan Heights) found that Israeli troops receive wounded al-Qaeda fighters, treat them in Israeli hospitals and send them back to continue fighting against the government in Syria.

The Nusra Front in August overran the Qunaitra crossing, the checkpoint between the Israeli-occupied and Syrian-controlled sectors of the Golan Heights. Israeli invaded that region of south-west Syria in 1967 and has illegally occupied most of the Golan Heights ever since.

As I pointed out in a previous column, the reports of UN peacekeeping forces since Nusra took over the checkpoint were highly suggestive of Israeli contacts and even military aid to the al-Qaeda rebels. But this Wall Street Journal report has confirmed the fact.

“We don’t ask who they are, we don’t do any screening,” the unnamed Israeli military official told the paper of the hospital treatment of al-Qaeda fighters. “Once the treatment is done, we take them back to the border [sic – ceasefire line] and they go on their way [in Syria],” he said.

An unnamed military official also said there is an “understanding” between Israeli forces and al-Qaeda fighters there and that “there is a familiarity of the [al-Qaeda] forces on the ground”.

Popular conspiracy theories have it that al-Qaeda and the “Islamic State” (also known as ISIS or ISIL) are Israeli- and/or US-intelligence creations. While there’s no evidence for that, it’s certainly true that the US-UK invasion of Iraq in 2003, and its consciously sectarian occupation regime of the country thereafter, created the conditions in which al-Qaeda in Iraq (later known as ISIS) was formed and thrived. Veteran journalist Patrick Cockburn demonstrates this most convincingly in his essential new book The Rise of Islamic State, which I have previously lauded here.

And now it seems that Israel is in a direct alliance with al-Qaeda in Syria. This is a tactical alliance, meant purely to bleed the country and prolong the civil war.

Read the quotes from Israeli officials in recent months about the Nusra Front and you will see a strange sort of soft-peddling of the group, casting them as a kind of “moderate al-Qaeda” if you will.

“Nusra is a unique version of al-Qaeda,” retired Brigadier General Michael Herzog told theWall Street Journal. “They manage to cooperate with non-Islamist and non-jihadi organizations in one coalition.” Herzog is a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP, the think tank of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the première Israel lobby group in the US) and former chief of staff for Israel’s defence minister. The Nusra Front “are totally focused on the war in Syria and aren’t focused on us,” he claimed. “But when Hezbollah and Iran and others are pushing south, they are very much focused on us.”

Hizballah and Iran, allies of the Bashar al-Assad regime, are aiding the government in Syria and fighting on the ground alongside Syrian army troops against al-Qaeda, the “Islamic State” and other Sunni rebel groups.

Even before Nusra took over the Qunairtra checkpoint in August, reports suggested Israel seemed on rather friendly terms with the al-Qaeda affiliate.

In June, army spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner told Foreign Policy that the Israeli government has provided medical assistance to more than 1,000 Syrians over the past fourteen months. “We give medical aid to people who are in dire need,” he said in a telephone interview with the magazine, echoing the statement made last week to the Wall Street Journal. “We don’t do any vetting or check where they are from or which group they are fighting for, or whether they are civilians.”

Ehud Yaari, an Israeli fellow at WINEP, admitted that Israeli assistance has benefited fighters: “The wounded are both fighters and civilians but there are not too many civilians left because of the fighting raging there … Close to 900 Syrians have been treated in Israel.”

Foreign Policy reports that, even earlier than June 2014, in March 2013: “Some 400 armed opposition fighters, backed by artillery fire from three tanks, seized a Syrian military outpost atop a hill at Tal al-Garbi, planting four black flags and raising concern that extremist groups are moving into the zone.

“More than two weeks later, opposition fighters captured two other strategically important hilltop military outposts in Tal al-Jabiya and Tal al-Sharqi.

“‘In the afternoon of 24 April, two members of the armed opposition displayed the severed head of a presumed Syrian armed forces officer as they passed’ a UN outpost, according to the [UN] report. By the end of April [2013], UN observers ‘detected the flying of black flags believed to be associated with militant groups scattered throughout the central and southern part of the area of separation, including three Syrian armed forces positions captured by the armed members of the opposition.’”

So Israeli aid to al-Qaeda in Syria may have been ongoing for as long as nearly two years now. But what is sure is that Israeli aid to al-Qaeda in Syria has now been confirmed.

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, SyriaComments Off on Nazi Army Admits Aiding Zio-Wahhabi Al-Qaeda in Syria

Sixty-Six Years of NATO.This is “Not a Peace Program, it is a War Program,”

NOVANEWS
Global Research
nato-planes1

by Danielle Ryan

NATO was established 66 years ago on April 4, 1949.

About three and a half months later, on July 26, Senator Robert A. Taft, the son of President William Howard Taft, made a speech explaining why he voted against its establishment.

It’s clear now that he could foresee what those blinded by triumphalism and ideology couldn’t see. He was no apologist for communism or the USSR, but he knew that a military pact against Russia was a provocative act and one more likely to lead to aggression and insecurity than peace and stability.

This is “not a peace program, it is a war program,” he said.

“…the treaty is a part of a much larger program by which we arm all these nations against Russia. A joint military program has already been made. It thus becomes an offensive and defensive military alliance against Russia. I believe our foreign policy should be aimed primarily at security and peace, and I believe such an alliance is more likely to produce war than peace.”

A third world war would be the greatest tragedy the world has ever suffered. Even if we won the war, we this time would probably suffer tremendous destruction, our economic system would be crippled, and we would lose our liberties and free system just as the Second World War destroyed the free systems of Europe. It might easily destroy civilization on this earth…”

Taft could see the Russian perspective clearly, without necessarily agreeing with it — and he understood that it ought not be disregarded out of hand — the de rigueur starting point in Washington today.

“If we undertake to arm all the nations around Russia from Norway on the north to Turkey on the south, and Russia sees itself ringed about gradually by so-called defensive arms from Norway and Denmark to Turkey and Greece, it may form a different opinion. It may decide that the arming of western Europe, regardless of its present purpose, looks to an attack upon Russia. Its view may be unreasonable, and I think it is. But from the Russian standpoint it may not seem unreasonable.”

“How would we feel if Russia undertook to arm a country on our border; Mexico, for instance?”

Taft went on to argue that there would be only “one real hope” for peace in the world. It would be an “association of nations building itself to abide by a law governing nations and administered by a court of legal justice”. Such a judicial finding “must not be subject to veto by any nation”, he said.

Three years earlier the United Nations had been founded. Taft regarded the young UN as an organisation looking in the right direction, but one that was deeply flawed.

As his predictions on NATO turned out to be true and justified, so too did his criticism of the United Nations. The UN veto power, held by five nations, has added to its ineffectiveness as a supposedly diplomatic and democratic organisation.

There may be some debate to be had about the legitimacy of a veto power — but add to those criticisms Washington’s complete disregard for the UN Security Council and you have an organisation which is essentially useless because one of its members operates outside its bounds at all times.

While the UN these days rarely serves anyone well, NATO serves the interests of only one of its members.

Finally, on NATO, Taft said:

“…as set up, it is a step backward — a military alliance of the old type where we have to come to each others’ assistance no matter who is to blame, and with ourselves the judges of the law.

Sixty-six years later and NATO still exists, as many have argued, for no good reason; to counteract threats which are either imagined or which only exist because NATO itself exists. Or worse, to lend legitimacy to the geopolitical whims of its only beneficiary.

Posted in USA, EuropeComments Off on Sixty-Six Years of NATO.This is “Not a Peace Program, it is a War Program,”

Greeced Lightning! Will Greece Default? Will Athens Cut a Financial Deal with Moscow and Beijing?

NOVANEWS
Global Research
Image result for greece flag

We seem to have finally arrived at some sort of moment of truth regarding Greece and their inclusion in the EU.  The speculation is they will be out of money by April 9th, this Thursday, unable to make a less than 500 million euro payment.  Please keep in mind they have already been raiding the country’s pension plans to fund day to day services.  How large of a “dent” they have already made remains to be seen but that is not the point.  The point is this, any person, corporation or government who needs to dig into retirement savings for daily operations is like buying a carton of cigarettes with a credit card at 14.99% …and then carrying the balance!

Before laying out their potential options, please keep in mind that Mr. Varoufakis  was in New York this past weekend meeting with Christine Lagarde , Mr. Tsipras plans a trip to Moscow for Tuesday.  Are they pleading for unpaid bailout funds from the IMF?  And if they don’t get them, do they cut a deal and fall into Russia’s arms?  This, just as so many nations have pledged their allegiance to the East and the AIIB bank (topic for tomorrow), Greece may be forced into a pivot toward the rising Sun.  They do however have something left to offer, they stand between Turkey and Eastern Europe, they can provide a route for Russian gas to flow to Europe.

What options does Greece have left?  As I see it, they really only have three, and all with blurry edges.  First, they can cut some sort of deal with Germany (the EU) and the IMF.  They can kick the can down the road by extending maturities of existing debt and restructuring it.  The IMF still owes past monies pledged in bailouts, will they really throw new money away knowing it cannot be paid back?  Obviously this does nothing to face the real problem, Greece simply has too much debt for the size of their economy (this is a global problem but not “admitted yet”).  This option may have been taken off the table on Friday.  As a side note, it was reported Friday by Der Spiegel the IMF evacuated their Athens office.  Why would they do this?  I can only come up with one or two scenarios.  The IMF is giving up and know it is over … or, they are getting out of town while they still can.  Maybe they realize massive social unrest will be unleashed and don’t want to see their employees hanging from lamp posts?  This was denied by Saturday but interesting nonetheless!

Their second option is to just default.  If they cannot make debt payments, they simply don’t pay and thus become classified as a default.  The next question is whether or not they would stay in the EU?  Would they want to?  Or even be allowed to?  Option number three, an offshoot of number two, is Greece defaults and they decide to leave the EU (or are kicked out) and join team Russia.

My guess is we will see Greece default, leave the EU and cut a gas pipeline deal with Russia becoming a stepping stone for China’s “silk road”.  At this point, it’s the only thing that makes any sense …if you are Greek and try to do what is best for Greece.  A story also making the roundson Friday was preparations to re issue the “drachma” .  If this is true, I would say the decision to leave the EU has already been made except for the formalities!  The next question is the biggie, and one which will affect the entire world.  How do the markets and financial systems react to this?

Before exploring this, James Turk proposed a theory the Greek banks will be bailed in as their deposit balances slip down to equal the close to 100 billion Euros that Greece owes the ECB.  He believes this will be done within the next 10 days or so.  In my opinion, there is one big ”IF” in this theory.  I would question whether or not the ECB or even the BIS would have the authority to do Cyprus style bail ins if Greece leaves or has already left the EU.  Wouldn’t this be a sovereign decision?  One made by the Greeks themselves?  If I were a Greek depositor, I wouldn’t however hang around to see how it turns out, I’m just not sure if the authority exists to bail in Greek banks?  Another story out over the weekend is Germany may be preparing to freeze deposits of wealthy Greeks, will the rest of Europe follow?

As for market reactions, if Greece does end up cutting a deal with Russia/China and in fact does default, the first and most obvious reaction will be a further crash in the Euro itself.  Participants will then turn their attention to Spain, Portugal and Italy and ask “who’s next”?  The thought process will be frenzied with investors wanting out first and asking questions later.

A Greek exit will be extremely complicated.  They owe 350 billion euros, much of this debt was held inside under collateralized German and French bank portfolios, much of this was “swapped” out with the ECB.  A default by Greece would “un swap” these bonds and thus bring the question of solvency to the heart of the Eurozone.  Even more complicated is how the money will be handled for the “Target2″ amounts owed to other Euro nations?  This is a running balance of payments accounting for countries running trade deficits versus surplus nations.  Greece obviously cannot pay for their already accumulated deficits, the question is, who eats the loss?  Then of course there are derivatives at maybe 10 times the amount of debt outstanding, now we are talking big money and in the trillions.

Hedges will be broken, losers busted and winners not paid.  The derivatives chain will be shaken by massive valuation swings and then broken by losing counterparties becoming insolvent.  As I have said many times before, we live in an “instant information” age where computers (programmed algorithms) will all move in the same direction and all at once.  In my opinion, a true Greek default has the potential of shutting down global markets within 48 hours of an announcement.

As I wrote last week, Greece is just one of three or more potential flash points which have the ability to tip our world upside down,  The U.S. has sent 50 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, specifically defying Russia’s warnings.  The Austrian banking system is experiencing a systemic margin call and one that will reach the German banks themselves.  We also have the U.S. throwing political matches all around a very dry Middle East.  We fight against the Iranians in Yemen and alongside them in Iraq.  We back the Saudis who just joined the Asian infrastructure bank against U.S. wishes.  It is not even known if we still back the Israelis who also joined the AIIB.  I have no idea what history will exactly point to as the spark, I do know “Greeced lightning” will be a good description as to the speed of the collapse once started.

Posted in China, Greece, RussiaComments Off on Greeced Lightning! Will Greece Default? Will Athens Cut a Financial Deal with Moscow and Beijing?

President of Czech Republic Tells Washington, We are Not An American Protectorate

NOVANEWS
Global Research
U.S., German Troops In “Unparalleled” Czech Border Exercise

As readers know, I have emphasized for years that European governments are regarded by Washington as vassals who behave according to Washington’s wishes. It has been 70 years–two or three generations–since former world powers, such as Great Britain and Germany had an independent foreign policy.

In addition to this ignobility, European governments are also vassals to the EU, so on the sovereignty front European countries are twice damned. They simply have no sovereignty.

This is why it is so easy for Washington to spin a web of lies and drive its vassals into a “crisis” with Russia that does not serve the interests of Europeans. Washington’s European puppets don’t count. Only Washington counts.

Next month is Russia’s Victory Day celebration over Nazi Germany. Washington has told its puppets not to attend, and many including German chancellor Merkel have complied with their overlord’s demand. But not the President of the Czech Republic.

When the US ambassador to the Czech Republic, Andrew Schapiro, advised President Milos Zeman to cancel his participation in the Russian celebration, President Zeman threw the Obama fundraiser out of the presidential castle. The Czech people, President Zeman said, we were next in line for extermination by the Nazis, and it was the Red Army that saved the Czech people.

Of course Washington and its corrupt court historians are at work revising the history of World War II in order to cleanse the record of Russia’s victory over Germany. Of course, everyone in Europe knows that this is just another Washington attempt to control all explanations regardless of the facts, but vassals are accustomed to vassalage and its humiliations. Proud peoples are not what Europeans any longer are.

Petr Hajek, who served as an advisor to former Czech president Vaclav Klaus, said that the US ambassador thinks he is the governor of a conquered territory issuing orders to the locals and that previous ambassadors from Washington had the same idea:

“President Zeman’s position rejecting the advice of the US ambassador is the only possible adequate response. Our country’s leader has carried himself as the President of the Czech Republic, and not as the head of a protectorate of the United States.”

You can read the stories here:

http://sputniknews.com/politics/20150406/1020535167.html

http://sputniknews.com/politics/20150405/1020500632.html

http://sputniknews.com/europe/20150330/1020207828.html

Posted in USA, EuropeComments Off on President of Czech Republic Tells Washington, We are Not An American Protectorate

Islam Saved Jewry. A Historical Truth

NOVANEWS
Global Research
Staged: Ricki Rosen’s photograph meant to depict an Israeli boy and a Palestinian boy in Jerusalem has been reproduced hundreds of times.

by David J Wasserstein

Islam saved Jewry. This is an unpopular, discomforting claim in the modern world. But it is a historical truth. The argument for it is double. First, in 570 CE, when the Prophet Mohammad was born, the Jews and Judaism were on the way to oblivion. And second, the coming of Islam saved them, providing a new context in which they not only survived, but flourished, laying foundations for subsequent Jewish cultural prosperity – also in Christendom – through the medieval period into the modern world.

By the fourth century, Christianity had become the dominant religion in the Roman empire. One aspect of this success was opposition to rival faiths, including Judaism, along with massive conversion of members of such faiths, sometimes by force, to Christianity. Much of our testimony about Jewish existence in the Roman empire from this time on consists of accounts of conversions.

Great and permanent reductions in numbers through conversion, between the fourth and the seventh centuries, brought with them a gradual but relentless whittling away of the status, rights, social and economic existence, and religious and cultural life of Jews all over the Roman empire.

A long series of enactments deprived Jewish people of their rights as citizens, prevented them from fulfilling their religious obligations, and excluded them from the society of their fellows.

Had Islam not come along, Jewry in the west would have declined to disappearance and Jewry in the east would have become just another oriental cult.

This went along with the centuries-long military and political struggle with Persia. As a tiny element in the Christian world, the Jews should not have been affected much by this broad, political issue. Yet it affected them critically, because the Persian empire at this time included Babylon – now Iraq – at the time home to the world’s greatest concentration of Jews.

Here also were the greatest centres of Jewish intellectual life. The most important single work of Jewish cultural creativity in over 3,000 years, apart from the Bible itself – the Talmud – came into being in Babylon. The struggle between Persia and Byzantium, in our period, led increasingly to a separation between Jews under Byzantine, Christian rule and Jews under Persian rule.

Beyond all this, the Jews who lived under Christian rule seemed to have lost the knowledge of their own culturally specific languages – Hebrew and Aramaic – and to have taken on the use of Latin or Greek or other non-Jewish, local, languages. This in turn must have meant that they also lost access to the central literary works of Jewish culture – the Torah, Mishnah, poetry, midrash, even liturgy.

The loss of the unifying force represented by language – and of the associated literature – was a major step towards assimilation and disappearance. In these circumstances, with contact with the one place where Jewish cultural life continued to prosper – Babylon – cut off by conflict with Persia, Jewish life in the Christian world of late antiquity was not simply a pale shadow of what it had been three or four centuries earlier. It was doomed.

Had Islam not come along, the conflict with Persia would have continued. The separation between western Judaism, that of Christendom, and Babylonian Judaism, that of Mesopotamia, would have intensified. Jewry in the west would have declined to disappearance in many areas. And Jewry in the east would have become just another oriental cult.

But this was all prevented by the rise of Islam. The Islamic conquests of the seventh century changed the world, and did so with dramatic, wide-ranging and permanent effect for the Jews.

Within a century of the death of Mohammad, in 632, Muslim armies had conquered almost the whole of the world where Jews lived, from Spain eastward across North Africa and the Middle East as far as the eastern frontier of Iran and beyond. Almost all the Jews in the world were now ruled by Islam. This new situation transformed Jewish existence. Their fortunes changed in legal, demographic, social, religious, political, geographical, economic, linguistic and cultural terms – all for the better.

First, things improved politically. Almost everywhere in Christendom where Jews had lived now formed part of the same political space as Babylon – Cordoba and Basra lay in the same political world. The old frontier between the vital centre in Babylonia and the Jews of the Mediterranean basin was swept away, forever.

Political change was partnered by change in the legal status of the Jewish population: although it is not always clear what happened during the Muslim conquests, one thing is certain. The result of the conquests was, by and large, to make the Jews second-class citizens.

This should not be misunderstood: to be a second-class citizen was a far better thing to be than not to be a citizen at all. For most of these Jews, second-class citizenship represented a major advance. In Visigothic Spain, for example, shortly before the Muslim conquest in 711, the Jews had seen their children removed from them and forcibly converted to Christianity and had themselves been enslaved.

In the developing Islamic societies of the classical and medieval periods, being a Jew meant belonging to a category defined under law, enjoying certain rights and protections, alongside various obligations. These rights and protections were not as extensive or as generous as those enjoyed by Muslims, and the obligations were greater but, for the first few centuries, the Muslims themselves were a minority, and the practical differences were not all that great.

Along with legal near-equality came social and economic equality. Jews were not confined to ghettos, either literally or in terms of economic activity. The societies of Islam were, in effect, open societies. In religious terms, too, Jews enjoyed virtually full freedom. They might not build many new synagogues – in theory – and they might not make too public their profession of their faith, but there was no really significant restriction on the practice of their religion. Along with internal legal autonomy, they also enjoyed formal representation, through leaders of their own, before the authorities of the state. Imperfect and often not quite as rosy as this might sound, it was at least the broad norm.

The political unity brought by the new Islamic world-empire did not last, but it created a vast Islamic world civilisation, similar to the older Christian civilisation that it replaced. Within this huge area, Jews lived and enjoyed broadly similar status and rights everywhere. They could move around, maintain contacts, and develop their identity as Jews. A great new expansion of trade from the ninth century onwards brought the Spanish Jews – like the Muslims – into touch with the Jews and the Muslims even of India.

A ll this was encouraged by a further, critical development. Huge numbers of people in the new world of Islam adopted the language of the Muslim Arabs. Arabic gradually became the principal language of this vast area, excluding almost all the rest: Greek and Syriac, Aramaic and Coptic and Latin all died out, replaced by Arabic. Persian, too, went into a long retreat, to reappear later heavily influenced by Arabic.

The Jews moved over to Arabic very rapidly. By the early 10th century, only 300 years after the conquests, Sa’adya Gaon was translating the Bible into Arabic. Bible translation is a massive task – it is not undertaken unless there is a need for it. By about the year 900, the Jews had largely abandoned other languages and taken on Arabic.

The change of language in its turn brought the Jews into direct contact with broader cultural developments. The result from the 10th century on was a striking pairing of two cultures. The Jews of the Islamic world developed an entirely new culture, which differed from their culture before Islam in terms of language, cultural forms, influences, and uses. Instead of being concerned primarily with religion, the new Jewish culture of the Islamic world, like that of its neighbours, mixed the religious and the secular to a high degree. The contrast, both with the past and with medieval Christian Europe, was enormous.

Like their neighbours, these Jews wrote in Arabic in part, and in a Jewish form of that language. The use of Arabic brought them close to the Arabs. But the use of a specific Jewish form of that language maintained the barriers between Jew and Muslim. The subjects that Jews wrote about, and the literary forms in which they wrote about them, were largely new ones, borrowed from the Muslims and developed in tandem with developments in Arabic Islam.

Also at this time, Hebrew was revived as a language of high literature, parallel to the use among the Muslims of a high form of Arabic for similar purposes. Along with its use for poetry and artistic prose, secular writing of all forms in Hebrew and in (Judeo-)Arabic came into being, some of it of high quality.

Much of the greatest poetry in Hebrew written since the Bible comes from this period. Sa’adya Gaon, Solomon Ibn Gabirol, Ibn Ezra (Moses and Abraham), Maimonides, Yehuda Halevi, Yehudah al-Harizi, Samuel ha-Nagid, and many more – all of these names, well known today, belong in the first rank of Jewish literary and cultural endeavour.

W here did these Jews produce all this? When did they and their neighbours achieve this symbiosis, this mode of living together? The Jews did it in a number of centres of excellence. The most outstanding of these was Islamic Spain, where there was a true Jewish Golden Age, alongside a wave of cultural achievement among the Muslim population. The Spanish case illustrates a more general pattern, too.

What happened in Islamic Spain – waves of Jewish cultural prosperity paralleling waves of cultural prosperity among the Muslims – exemplifies a larger pattern in Arab Islam. In Baghdad, between the ninth and the twelfth centuries; in Qayrawan (in north Africa), between the ninth and the 11th centuries; in Cairo, between the 10th and the 12th centuries, and elsewhere, the rise and fall of cultural centres of Islam tended to be reflected in the rise and fall of Jewish cultural activity in the same places.

This was not coincidence, and nor was it the product of particularly enlightened liberal patronage by Muslim rulers. It was the product of a number of deeper features of these societies, social and cultural, legal and economic, linguistic and political, which together enabled and indeed encouraged the Jews of the Islamic world to create a novel sub-culture within the high civilisation of the time.

This did not last for ever; the period of culturally successful symbiosis between Jew and Arab Muslim in the middle ages came to a close by about 1300. In reality, it had reached this point even earlier, with the overall relative decline in the importance and vitality of Arabic culture, both in relation to western European cultures and in relation to other cultural forms within Islam itself; Persian and Turkish.

Jewish cultural prosperity in the middle ages operated in large part as a function of Muslim, Arabic cultural (and to some degree political) prosperity: when Muslim Arabic culture thrived, so did that of the Jews; when Muslim Arabic culture declined, so did that of the Jews.

In the case of the Jews, however, the cultural capital thus created also served as the seed-bed of further growth elsewhere – in Christian Spain and in the Christian world more generally.

The Islamic world was not the only source of inspiration for the Jewish cultural revival that came later in Christian Europe, but it certainly was a major contributor to that development. Its significance cannot be overestimated.

Posted in EducationComments Off on Islam Saved Jewry. A Historical Truth

Media Blackouts: Ukrainian Protests Against U.S.; Political Prisoners in I$raHell; Truth about Rwanda

NOVANEWS
Global Research
censure gros plan

Did you know that Kiev’s anti-Russian regime installed in a February 2014 coup by the U.S. does not permit protest? Or that there are currently six thousand Palestinian political detainees in Israeli prisons? And what really happened on April 6, 1994  in Rwanda when President Habyarimana’s plane was shot? You will find the answers to these questions in the following articles as well as stories on the Greek debt, Yemen and the Iran nuclear deal which paint a different picture than the one presented by the mainstream media.

Ukraine-USA-drapeaux

Thousands of Ukrainians Protest against the US Embassy. Media BlackoutEric Zuesse

The racist-fascist (or “nazi”) anti-Russian regime that the U.S. installed in a February 2014 coup does not permit protest (except from its small right: the few overt nazis demanding even more militancy); so, the only way that thousands of Ukrainians…

khalida_jarrar-oren-ziv

Israeli Occupier Orders Palestinian Lawmaker Khalida Jarrar Held 6 Months Without Charge or TrialAli Abunimah

Palestinian lawmaker Khalida Jarrar, who was arrested on 2 April from her home near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, seen on 27 August 2014 holding an Israeli order banishing her to Jericho, which she defied. (Oren Ziv / ActiveStills)…

carte_rwanda

What Happened on April 6, 1994? Kagame behind “Rwanda Genocide”: The Neglected Account of Captain Amadou DemePhil Taylor

There was not a single individual among us [UN military and observers] who doubted that this was an action by RPF… the shooting down of the President’s plane and the well-planned military assault of the RPF that began immediately after…”

CONGRESS

Forget Congress! “The Deep State” is America’s “Real Bad Guy” in UkraineAndrew Korybko

In his introduction to the US-Russia Expert Panel prompt about whether Congress can be lobbied away from arming Ukraine, Mr. Doctorow mentions previous American interventions abroad that were “well-intentioned and even noble” but ultimately “resulted in catastrophe”, such as “Iraq,…

GREECE

4 April 2015: A Landmark in the Search for the Truth About the Greek DebtEric Toussaint

For the first time in Europe a committee for an audit of the debt (with citizens’ participation) was set up under the auspices of a parliament. On Saturday 4 April the president of the Hellenic parliament Zoe Konstantopoulou opened the…

Yemen

Yemen – the Big Picture. US Sponsored Civil WarsPeter Koenig,

As usual, western media are deliberately confusing in communicating on the latest Mid-East conflict which eventually led to the recent atrocious bombing of Yemen by the US-directed Saudi alliance, including Qatar and other Gulf monarchies. They are proxies, to be…

US soldiers in Iraq

Imagery and Empire: Understanding the Western Fear of Arab and Muslim TerroristsMahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Arabs and Muslims are tacitly or openly portrayed as uncivilized subjects. Terrorism is deeply tied to images of Arabs and Muslims in the minds of many US citizens and this is why it is falsely believed that most terrorists are Arabs or Muslims.

Iran-US-nuclear

Congress and Israel Aim to Sabotage Iran Nuclear DealStephen Lendman,

 

Thursday’s nuclear framework deal changes nothing. It’s unclear what Washington will agree on during discussions toward trying to finalize agreement terms by June 30. John Kerry runs US foreign policy. He’s committed to a special US/Israeli relationship. His Senate pro-Israel…

Posted in WorldComments Off on Media Blackouts: Ukrainian Protests Against U.S.; Political Prisoners in I$raHell; Truth about Rwanda

Indian Perennial Support to Baloch Sub Nationalists

NOVANEWS

Image result for india map

By Sajjad Shaukat

Indian covert and overt activities against the federation of Pakistan had led to the separation of

the former East Pakistan in 1971. Now, India has been promoting sub-nationalism in Khyber

Paktunkhwa, Sindh and even among the Karachiates (Mohajirs).

Undoubtedly, various antagonistic forces are relentlessly conspiring against the unity and

territorial integrity of Pakistan, while their sinister designs and Indian perennial support to

Baloch Sub Nationalists Baloch (BSNs) needs continuous attention.

Purposely, these opposed elements are shifting the spotlight on Pakistan’s province of

Balochistan, thus, making it a hub of their terrorist activities, evil schemes and roguish designs.

These elements are making efforts to destabilize the province by promoting acrimonious sense of

dissent, political volatility, sectarian violence, deteriorating law and order situation and arousing

sentiments of separatism. It is an undeniable reality that India is leading terrorist activities in the

Balochistan province by using the soil of Afghanistan, harbouring and financing terrorists and

projecting them as freedom fighters.

In this respect, Dr Allah Nazar is a terrorist hailing from Awaran, Balochistan. He is being

directly supported by Indian RAW to commit heinous crimes against humanity, requiring state

reaction to safeguard the life and property of its citizens. Killing men, women and children,

attacks on women university students, armed forces, members of the law-enforcing agencies and

blowing up of electric pylons as well as gas pipelines are part of the anti-Pakistan scheme. In a

sane society, how such acts could be counted as deeds of a liberation movement.

Recently, adhering to its practice, an Indian propaganda website managed by RAW namely

“OneIndia” uploaded a concocted venomous interview of the notorious terrorist Dr Allah Nazar.

The central contents of the interview revolve around customary and unsubstantiated allegations

against Pakistan’s law-enforcing and intelligence agencies and Pak-China relations. To attract

sympathies of civil society and to create sensation, website introduces him as so-called freedom

movement leader fighting against Jehadi elements and ISIS.

It may be recalled that Allah Nazar and his group Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) continued to

harass local population in Awaran, Punjgur and Kech districts for some time; however, he fled

from the area on arrival of the armed forces during earthquake relief activities in September

2013. People of the area felt immensely relieved after the arrival of the armed forces/their large

scale relief efforts. Since then, Allah Nazar and his likeminded militants have fled to other areas

only known to RAW, and are carrying out terrorist activities.

In fact, Indians are desperate to hyphenate Pakistan with ISIS/Jihadists and a portion of so-called

interview of Allah Nazar was full of these false accusations.

While, New Delhi is using terrorist elements in Balochistan to threat Chinese interest in the

development of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Taking cognizance of the enemy’s intensions, during his trip to Beijing, Pakistan’s Prime

Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang signed eight agreements on July

5, 2013 in various fields. The most important one envisages the establishment of CPEC between

deep Gwadar seaport of Balochistan and the historic Silk Road city in western regions-Xinjiang

of China—connecting to Gilgit-Baltistan through Khunjerab Pass. Beijing has also offered to

build an international airport, while the roads infrastructure in Gwadar would be connected with

the communication network of rest of the country to facilitate transportation of goods. By

rejecting US growing pressure, Pakistan has handed over the control of Gwader seaport to China.

While, in May, 2013, a day before Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Islamabad; Chinese

engineers being driven through Clifton Block-1 in Karachi escaped a major bomb attack. As

regards anti-China diplomacy, Afghanistan has become a hub from where external secret

agencies like RAW and Israeli Mossad have been assisting subversive activities in other parts of

Pakistan—especially in Balochistan through their affiliated militant groups at the cost of

Pakistan, China and Iran. In the past few years, they abducted and killed many Chinese and

Iranian nationals in Pakistan.

It mentionable that during China’s visit of Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif, on

January 25, this year, China’s Vice Chairman of Central Military Commission Gen. Fan has

assured that China will assist Pakistan in every challenge.

When during the Musharraf regime, Pakistan government initiated the construction of Gwadar

deep-seaport in Balochistan province in March 2002 with Chinese assistance, sirens went off in

the capitals of foreign countries, particularly the US, India and Israel. The US took it as a threat

to its global plans, and India felt that it threatened its integrity. Israel took it as a greater threat

from an Islamic country.

It is notable that besides the ideal strategic location of Balochistan’s Gwadar seaport among

South Asia, the oil-rich Middle East, and oil and gas-resourced Central Asia, Balochistan’s

abundant mineral resources like gas, coal and gold, entailing Pakistan’s close ties with China

pinches the eyes of the US, India, Israel and some western countries which intend to weaken

Pakistan for their collective aims.

In this context, the interview of a disreputable terrorist on RAW-managed Indian site confirms

that particularly India has been training, financing, arming and projecting terrorists to destabilize

Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Nevertheless, it should be made known to the terrorists, operating in Balochistan that they will

never succeed in their designs to damage Pakistan. It is in their own interests to lay down their

arms and stop making trouble in the province. Their foreign masters are Pakistan’s enemies, and

are using them as tools of their anti-Pakistan policy. Their survival lies only in united Pakistan

For the purpose, our own newspapers and media houses must play their role to foster unity and

tranquility in Pakistani society. They must also project that Baloch people are highly patriotic,

and the terrorists involved in anti-state activities have no linkage with them.

These media entities must indicate that terrorists, operating in Balochistan are against Pakistan

and pursuing the agenda of the vested interests of their foreign masters, especially pointing out,

Indian support to Baloch Sub Nationalists.

Posted in IndiaComments Off on Indian Perennial Support to Baloch Sub Nationalists

Opposing Impunity for Geopolitical Criminality

NOVANEWS

by Richard Falk

 Image result for pray for gaza

Responding to intense pressure from the usual sources William Schabas, a prominent and respected expert on international criminal law, recently resigned as Chair of the UN expert commission of inquiry into war crimes allegations arising from the massive Israeli military operations in Gaza during July and August of 2014. These issues relating to international criminal accountability have also received recent prominence due to Palestine’s adherence to the Rome Treaty making it a party to the International Criminal Court, an initiative that generated an enraged punitive reaction on the part of Israel as well as an angry denunciation by Washington. On display in these instances is the struggle between extending the rule of law to international state crimes and the geopolitical resistance to such an effort whenever accountability to law is in tension with the pursuit of strategic interests.

Imposing international criminal responsibility upon political leaders and military commanders that occur in the aftermath of wars possesses a dual character from a geopolitical perspective: to vindicate major military undertakings of liberal democratic states and to ensure impunity for the leaders of these same states in the event that their behavior or that of their allies are alleged to be international crimes.

These efforts at vindication are associated with strengthening the global rule of law and validating the established order, while impunity is invoked to insulate powerful individuals and their governments from criminal accountability. The resulting pattern in international life is one of double standards at the level of implementation and hypocritical rhetoric about the importance of a global rule of law based on its universal applicability.

Contemporary experience with these issues is grounded in the aftermath of World War II. In 1945 with great fanfare after World War II, especially at Nuremberg in the legal prosecution of surviving Nazi leaders, as well as at Toyko where a series of prominent Japanese personalities who had headed the imperial government and commanded its military forces were accused and convicted of international crimes. These sophisticated ‘show trials’ were generally endorsed in the West as a civilized alternative to the favored Soviet and British approaches, which would have been to arrange summary mass executions of all Germans deemed responsible for international crimes without making any effort to assess the gravity or accuracy of the charges directed at specific individuals.

What was done at Nuremberg in 1945 was for prosecutors to prepare carefully evidence of alleged wrongdoing of each defendant under indictment as well as developing arguments about the legal relevance of the international crimes at stake while giving those accused an almost free hand to offer legal defenses and mitigating evidence as prepared by competent lawyers appointed to render them assistance.

In most respects, Nuremberg in particular continues to be viewed as a landmark success in the annals of the progressive development of international law. It is also significant that the outcomes of parallel Tokyo prosecutions of Japanese leaders are virtually unknown except in Japan where they are decried as ‘victors’ justice’ and throughout the world among a few specialists in international criminal law.

There are several reasons for the prominence of Nuremberg. First of all, the disclosures of the Holocaust at Nuremberg were so ghastly that some sort of punishment of those responsible seemed to be a moral imperative at the time.

Although the crime of genocide did not yet exist in law, the revelations of the Nuremberg proceedings documented as never before the systematic extermination of Jews and others in Europe. Beyond this, the war was widely believed to have been a just and necessary response to the menace of Naziism and Japanese imperialism, and their embrace of aggressive war. The Allied victory was viewed as decisive in overcoming the fascist challenge to liberal democracy, with the Nuremberg Judgment providing an authoritative rationale for waging a defensive war so costly in lives, devastation, and resources.

Finally, the claim to be establishing a structure of legal accountability that took precedence over national law seemed integral to the postwar resolve to keep the peace in the future and deter aggression by reminding all leaders of the possibility of criminal accountability for initiating a war or abusing people under their control. The advent of nuclear weaponry reinforced the moral and political conviction that major wars must now be prevented by all available means, including this warning to leaders and military commanders that their actions could become the subject of criminal prosecution.

At the same time, this Nuremberg/Tokyo experiment was tainted from the outset. It was clearly victors’ justice that incorporated double standards. The evident crimes of the winners in the war were not even investigated, including the atomic bombings of two Japanese cities, which were viewed around the world as perhaps the worst single acts of wrongdoing throughout the course of the entire war, and only the Nazi death camps were in some way equivalent in relation to legality and morality.

There were official statements made at Nuremberg that those who sat in judgment of the Germans would in the future be subject to similar procedures of accountability if they committed acts that seemed to be crimes under international law implying that the rule of law would replace victors’ justice. In effect, the claim made on behalf of moral credibility and political fairness was that this Nuremberg/Tokyo approach would assume the attributes of the rule of law by treating equals equally in future conflicts. Such expectations, if scrutinized, seemed to reflect the hopes of ‘liberal legalists’ in universal legal standards, but were never realistic goals given the structure and nature of world politics.

In effect, this Nuremberg promise could not be kept because geopolitical primacy continues to set the limits of legal accountability. Although there has existed an International Criminal Court since 2002, and ample grounds for believing that some major sovereign states have committed international crimes, there have zero prosecutions directed at dominant political actors, and not even investigations into possible criminality have been launched. Such a pattern results from a normative gap in world order that is not likely to be closed soon.

It is a gap that is most visibly expressed by reference to the right of veto possessed as a matter of law by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. This right of veto amounts to an institutional grant of exemption from the legal obligation to comply with the UN Charter on matters of peace and security. For these five states and their friends and allies, compliance is discretionary, and non-compliance is in effect ‘a right.’ In this regard, the UN Charter is itself a product of what might be called ‘geopolitical realism,’ which takes precedence over the apolitical aspirations of ‘liberal legalists.’

And yet, the impulse to hold accountable those who commit crimes against the peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity remains strong among moderate democratic governments and in some sectors of global civil society. As a result there is some further development of the Nuremberg idea, although the fundamental tensions between hard power and establishing a credible rule of law with general applicability remains. During the 1990s the UN Security Council established ad hoc international tribunals to assess criminal responsibility associated with the breakup of former Yugoslavia and in relation to the genocidal massacres in Rwanda.

In these North/South settings, there was more willingness to allow all sides to bring forth their arguments about the criminal behavior of their adversary since there were no allegations directed at geopolitical heavyweights. That is, the approach of liberal legalists became practical in these situations where no high profile geopolitical actor is being accused of an international crime.

The International Criminal Court was itself brought into being in 2002 by an unusual coalition of forces, joining governments with a great many NGOs drawn from around the world in a joint project. What came into being is an international institution with a mandate to investigate and prosecute, but lacking the participation and support of the dominant states, and operating within a framework that up to now has been deferential to the sensitivities of sovereign states in the West. Operating in such a limited way has led the ICC in its first decade to focus its attention almost entirely on African leaders, while looking the other way with respect to geopolitical actors.

Liberals conceive of this as progress, doing what can be done, and beneficial to the extent that it apprehends some persons who have been responsible for atrocities and crimes against humanity. Critics of the ICC view it as another venue for the administration of ‘victors’ justice’ and an inscription of Western moral hegemony that entails a cynical expression of double standards. Both interpretations are plausible.

The ICC is currently facing an identity test as to whether it will undertake investigations of alleged Israeli criminality made at the request of Palestine. Its institutional weight is being demonstrated by the degree to which the Israeli leadership reacts with fury, punitive policies, and intense anger directed at the Palestinian Authority for raising such a possibility. It should surprise few that Israel’s backlash against the ICC is supported by the United States.

For centuries there has been recognized the capacity of national courts to act as agents of law enforcement in relation to international wrongdoing. Such a judicial role was long exercised in Western countries in relation to international piracy, which was viewed as a crime against the whole world and hence could be prosecuted anywhere. Such an extension of international criminal law is based on ideas of ‘universal jurisdiction,’ strengthening the capacity of international society to address serious crimes of state. This kind of approach receive great attention in relation to allegations of torture made against the former Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet, after he was detained by Britain in response to a 1998 request for extradition by Spain where a court stood ready to prosecute on the basis of indictments already made.

After a series of legal proceedings in Britain the House of Lords acting as the country’s highest judicial body decided that Pinochet should be extradited, but only for torture charges relating to a period after torture became an international crime within Britain. In theory, national courts could become much more active in relation to universal jurisdiction if so empowered by parliamentary mandate, but again doing so without challenging geopolitical red lines.

When Belgian courts threatened to proceed against Donald Rumsfeld because of his alleged authorization of torture in Iraq, political pressures were mounted by Washington, including even threats to move NATO. In the end, Belgium backed down by revising its national criminal code so as to make it much more difficult to prosecute international crimes that occurred outside of Belgium and for which Belgians were not victims or perpetrators.

Civil society has also acted to close the normative gap created by patterns of geopolitical impunity. In the midst of the Vietnam War, motivated by a sense of moral outrage and the paralysis of official institutions when it came to challenging American behavior, Bertrand Russell organized a symbolic legal proceeding that investigated charges of criminality in 1966 and 1967. Prominent intellectuals from around the world were invited to serve as a jury of conscience, heard evidence, issuing their opinion as to law and facts at the end. Inspired by this Russell Tribunal experience, the Permanent Peoples Tribunal was established a decade later by citizens, operating out of Rome, holding sessions on issues where there existed moral outrage, legal prohibitions, and institutional paralysis, symbolically challenging geopolitical impunity. In 2005 there was organized in Istanbul by a dedicated group of female activists an independent tribunal to investigate war crimes charges against British and American political and military leaders, as well as corporate actors associated with the Iraq War.

The Iraq War Tribunal relied upon a jury of conscience chaired by Arundhati Roy to pronounce upon the evidence. Of course, such a tribunal can only challenge impunity symbolically by influencing public opinion, and possibly through encouraging boycotts and other moves that delegitimize the claimants of power and possibly alter the political climate. Nevertheless, it plays a role in the legitimacy war dimensions of international conflicts, providing an alternative narrative to the discourse

disseminated by geopolitical forces and giving encouragement to civil society activism by providing a convincing rationale for concluding that contested behavior violates fundamental norms of international law and morality.

In summary, it is still accurate to observe that geopolitical primacy inhibits the implementation of international criminal law from the perspective of a global rule of law regime that treats equals equally. At the same time, ever since Nuremberg there have been efforts to end the impunity of those guilty of international crimes in war/peace situations and national settings of oppressive rule. These efforts have taken several main forms:

(1) the establishment by the UN of ad hoc tribunals with a specific mandate as with former Yugoslavia and Rwanda;

(2) the establishment of a treaty based international institution, the International Criminal Court, with limited participation and disappointing results to date;

(3) reliance on universal jurisdiction to activate national courts to act as agents on behalf of international society with respect to enforcing international criminal law;

(4) the formation of civil society tribunals to assess criminal responsibility of

leaders in situations of moral outrage and global settings that render unavailable either inter-governmental or governmental procedures of accountability. (1)-(3) are projects of liberal legality, while (4) draws on more progressive jurisprudential energies outside the statist paradigm.

 

In the end, there is posed a choice. One possibility is go along with the one-eyed efforts of liberal legalists, most notably mainstream NGOs such as Human Rights Watch, silently acknowledging that the rule of law cannot be expected to function in relation to many serious international crimes due to the hierarchical and hegemonic structure of international society. The other possibility is to insist there can be no international justice so long as there exists a regime of ‘geopolitical impunity.’ In both instances, the contributions of civil society tribunals are needed, both for the sake of symbolic indictment and documentation of wrongdoing, and to acknowledge civil society as the moral and legal conscience of humanity.

It must be admitted that only among liberal democracies are such self-critical initiatives of civil society tolerated, although such undertakings are derided and marginalized by mainstream media as the work of a ‘kangaroo court.’ Obama’s refusal to look back at the international crimes alleged against leading members of the Bush presidency is one awkward admission of the limits on legal accountability; such reasoning if generalized would invalidate any concern with all forms of past behavior, and hence any notion of accountability for all crimes.

In such a dysutopia criminal law might exist, but by habit and expectation it would never be implemented, however severe the crime and dangerous the criminal. In the world we inhabit, without kangaroo courts international criminal law would continue with its limited writ, and there would no tribunals whatsoever to assess the criminality of the most powerful political actors on the world stage that menace many vulnerable peoples in the world.

 

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, GazaComments Off on Opposing Impunity for Geopolitical Criminality

Shoah’s pages

www.shoah.org.uk