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Saturday, July 2, 2022

Towards a practical context (Part Two)

By Simon Farabundo RiosNote: This is the second and Final Part of this article. We caution our readers that the article is not totally copyedited.From here on in, I want to depart from the writings of these two men, and focus on current attempts at integration, and the actualization of the great dreams of Bolivar and Marti. …the fulfillment of dreams… Rights

  • to shelter, medical care, nutrition, and education

 Freedom

  • from tyranny, from pollution, from taxation without representation

 Protection

  • from virtual and actual bondage, exploitation, and violence

 Liberty

  • of expression, of assembly, of political organization

 Access

  • to arable land, employment, and to the media of communication

 Democratic recourse

  • as regards the fiscal, military, and political activities of the patria

 A body politic representative of the needs and desires of a country’s citizenry will recognize these notions as unalienable, and enshrine them into a national constitution. In theory this is the definition of a democracy. But the cumulative history of the modern representative democracy — from the Weimar to the United States of America to the People’s Republics and virtually all those of American history — demonstrates almost without deviation that “democracy” functions adequately only for about five or ten percent of the electorate. This is not what Jose Marti or Simon Bolivar were envisioning when they spoke of the great American republic.Here it will be useful to distinguish the Republic of Workers, which Marti called for, from the Republic of Bosses, which is liberal democracy. Where the latter has resulted in a veritable dictatorship over the working class, worker democracy, (e.g. Cuba, and increasingly in Venezuela) is dictatorship over the forces of exploitation, chauvinism, and the pathological power of the market.The dichotomy is simple: democracy for capital versus democracy for people. We come full circle to my anarcho-friend who categorically refutes the state, and vindicate 95% of his argument. But with the praxis of Fidel and Chavez, we refute the remaining five percent. For Bolivar, the Panama Congress in 1826 and the dissolution of Gran Colombia resulted in a dream deferred, and before he passed away, cynical and defeated, he said: “America is ungovernable; those who served the revolution have plowed the sea.” But in 1999, almost 200 years later, a constituent assembly was formed in Bolivar’s homeland to draft the constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. What resulted was one of the most progressive, eloquent, and emancipatory documents in the history of our America. The Bolivarian constitution recognizes the rights of the indigenous to their land, their beliefs, their culture, and their existence. It recognizes the right of every Venezuelan to a habitable habitat, and the right of the housewife to social security and a government pension. In the preamble, which invokes the Liberator from square one, the new democracy is delineated.….to the supreme end of reshaping the Republic to establish a democratic, participatory and self-reliant, multiethnic and multicultural society in a just, federal and decentralized State that embodies the values of freedom, independence, peace, solidarity, the common good, the nation’s territorial integrity, comity and the rule of law for this and future generations; guarantees the right to life, work, learning, education, social justice and equality, without discrimination or subordination of any kind; promotes peaceful cooperation among nations and furthers and strengthens Latin American integration in accordance with the principle of non-intervention and national self-determination of the people, the universal and indivisible guarantee of human rights, the democratization of imitational society [sic], nuclear disarmament, ecological balance and environmental resources as the common and inalienable heritage of humanity; exercising their innate power through their representatives comprising the National Constituent Assembly, by their freely cast vote and in a democratic Referendum, hereby ordain the following:But the drafting of a constitution is a merely theoretical act, an exercise in political verbosity. What counts is the implementation of these titanic ideas to the benefit of Venezuelan society — revolutionary theory innately demands praxis. In Venezuela, the Bolivarian circles, the new left trade unions, the coop movement, the popular and multifaceted grassroots initiatives, and the social “misiones,” are doing precisely this. The misiones can be divided into four main areas: education, vocational training, nutrition, and health care. The world’s fifth largest oil reserve — despoiled since its discovery by the national oligarchy and multinational firms, but now, under Chavez, legitimately nationalized—is allowing Venezuela to maintain these programs. Petroleos de Venezuela, the national oil company, spent $4 billion on popular programs in 2004 alone. This has permitted the Venezuelan arabesque between the interests of the capitalists and the interests of the people. On one hand is, a) the servicing of prodigious debt and the existence of a private sector; and on the other, b) endogenous social investment and national development. In essence, the fulfillment of b amounts to the actualization of the constitution, but notwithstanding Venezuelan hydrocarbons, it is hard to imagine this possibility while a is also satisfied. At the 2004 World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Chavez commenced a socialist discourse, a marked departure from the “third position” stance he previously maintained.Before, education was privatized. That is the neo-liberal, imperialist plan, health systems were privatized, that cannot be, they are a fundamental human right. Health, education, water, energy, public services, that cannot be given to the voracity of private capital, that denies those rights to the people, that’s the road to savagery, capitalism is savagery. Every day I’m more convinced, less capitalism and more socialism.For my part, I am more convinced every day that the logical extension of Bolivar’s — and for that matter, Rousseau’s, the Cartesians’, etcetera—thought is the socialist mode of production. The Cuban ModelIf the Venezuelan constitution of 1999 is progressive, the Cuban constitution of 1992 — “guided by the ideas of Jose Marti and the political and social ideas of Marx, Engels and Lenin,” and based on “proletarian internationalism, on the fraternal friendship, aid, cooperation and solidarity of the peoples of the world, especially those of Latin America and the Caribbean” — is revolutionary.Cuba is an independent and sovereign socialist state of workers, organized with all and for the good of all as a united and democratic republic, for the enjoyment of political freedom, social justice, individual and collective well-being and human solidarity.In article nine of the constitution, the role of the government is outlined: [The State]a) carries out the will of the working people and – channels the efforts of the nation in the construction of socialism;- guarantees the liberty and the full dignity of man, the enjoyment of his rights,- the exercise and fulfillment of his duties and the integral development of his personality;- consolidates the ideology and the rules of living together and of conduct proper of a society free from the exploitation of man by man;- directs in a planned way the national economy;b) As the power of the people and for the people, guarantees – that every man or woman, who is able to work, have the opportunity to have a job with which to contribute to the good of society and to the satisfaction of individual needs;- that no disabled person be left without adequate mean of subsistence;- that no sick person be left without medical care-that no child be left without schooling, food and clothing;- that no young person be left without the opportunity to study;- that no one be left without access to studies, culture and sports;c) works to achieve that no family be left without a comfortable place to live. As in the Bolivarian constitution, the tenets of the Cuban revolution are enshrined, and in accordance with Cuban law, acted upon as such.The essential distinction between these two constitutions is that one recognizes private property as a violation, where the other recognizes it as a right. Again, it is difficult to predict whether this contradiction in Venezuela will be sustainable far into the future. It is not the role of the socialist state to maintain the inevitable antagonism between the classes, but rather, to do away with them. Specifically, private property, i.e. capital in the hands of individuals and corporations, is abolished as an institution as are the economic rights and therefore existence of the bourgeoisie, who operate at the helm of the liberal republics. Until this happens, and in spite of the great gains made so rapidly, Venezuelan socialism will be only rhetorical and superficial. The rank and file can only rally for and demand further expropriations and nationalizations by the Bolivarian government, or, more ideally, do it for themselves. If the great constitutional promises are to be materialized — if shelter, medical care, nutrition, and education are made available for all citizens — it is prerequisite for the government to identify the historical radix which has deprived, and will continue to deprive, society’s forgotten class of these “fundamental human rights.”In any case, Bolivarian socialism, as with any legitimate form of socialism, is hinged on its international nature. The country with the greatest number of doctors per capita is Cuba; the country with the greatest oil reserves in the hemisphere is Venezuela; Argentina has more cows than humans; Uruguay drinks more whiskey per head than any other country; and Brazil is on the brink of surpassing the United States as the world’s #1 agricultural producer. These figures are enormous, even standing alone, but united they multiply exponentially.Only together is it possible to confront the international financial institutions (IFI) and their Washington Consensus. Brazil and Argentina: a prisoner’s dilemma? The Lula administration stands at a defining crossroads and must turn left. It appears that he and his finance ministers have placed the interest of the IFI over the interest of the indigenous, landless, and poor. Capital remains in the hands of the Brazilian bourgeoisie, the IMF and the US are satisfied (thought not thrilled), and the plot of the neediest has remained untouched. Unlike Venezuela, Brazil cannot afford to maintain the antagonism between the two adversarial sectors. Last month the government announced it would end seven years of loans with the IMF, an encouraging sign, but the fulfillment of Lula’s campaign pledges and his standing with the marginalized sections of Brazilian society will demonstrate his intent.Similar to Brazil, Argentina, since 2001, has stood firm against the Fund and the so-called Washington Consensus. When the IMF speaks, the president, who has one eye on us and the other on the empire, responds unequivocally: “This type of tutelage we really don’t want; we’ve suffered enough already,” reported The Miami Herald in March. Elsewhere he said: “There is life after the IMF, and it’s a very good life … being in the embrace of the IMF isn’t exactly like being in heaven.”Writes one liberal commentator: Kirchner and his economy minister, Roberto Lavagna, appear to have swiped three-quarters off the value of $100 billion in private bonds (barring the 24% of holdouts), forced the renegotiation of over sixty contracts with privatized utilities, and reduced the International Monetary Fund to a whimper. Kirchner even took the liberty of comparing IMF chief Rodrigo Rato to the devil hours before they met to review the debt burden in late 2004.But in spite of the language, and the stability of key economic indicators (which are very much an effect of Kirchner’s progressive economic nationalism,) social improvement has been slow at best. In a 2004 article measuring Kirchner’s words against his deeds, Raul Bassi commented that, based on the principle that ‘if Argentina can pay we are willing to pay,’ Kirchner has negotiated a repayment scheme set at a minimum of 3% of Argentina’s gross domestic product. As a result, almost 40% of the increase in the national budget will go to pay the interest on the debt. The increase in spending on social security and social development will be only slightly more than 2%.”Additionally, the Argentine and Brazilian governments have expressed no interest in re-nationalizing the multitude of industries privatized under the neo-liberals. This is profoundly problematic.Most fundamentally, it seems what is at stake here is the willingness to raise a firm fist to the bankers, the investors, and their institutions. An expansion on the prisoner’s dilemma — a tactical game devised by the Rand Corporation during the Cold War to deduce appropriate nuclear strategies — provides a telling theoretical framework for the situation. The game goes as follows: In its most basic form, two individuals, a and b, are each faced with the possibility of either cooperating with each other, or defecting from one another. If a defects and b cooperates, a is rewarded the highest sum, and b gets nothing. Should they both cooperate, they each receive more than if they both defect, but less than player a received in the first instance. Lastly, the total maximum payoff is produced when both players cooperate. The moral: the greatest collective good is achieved when there is mutual cooperation: a moral resolution; the greatest individual good is achieved when one party is fully beaten and deceived: an immoral one.Now, augmented and put into context — with two countries at play and the presence of a third party, empire — matters are compounded a bit. So not to stray from our topic, let us continue with Brazil and Argentina. I would like to start from the premise that defection (liberation) from empire is only possible when their exists cooperation among the subaltern states, and that cooperation with empire will, insofar as the empire seeks to fragment nations, necessarily entail defection with the fellow subaltern. Therefore, Brazil can successfully defect to empire so long as Argentina does so too. In other words, if they cooperate they are both allowed to defect to the empire, where if either of them does not, they effectively defect to one another and to their own self-interest. So, the only best way out of this national dilemma is first cooperation, and second, resistance.We mention Argentina and Brazil, the largest countries in South America, precisely out of Bolivarian internationalism, and sketch their status with the IMF because of the understanding that if the economies of the south are to experience development in any real sense, it is indispensable that they release themselves from the choke hold of imperialism by working together.The integration of the states: from the Rio Bravo to the Straights of Magellan The dictates of the IFIs and Yankee intervention (which between 1898 and 1994 resulted in 41 changes of regime) are the two tentacles of imperialism that, like cancer, must be curtailed before they turn malignant. To the idealist, the dark age of neo-liberalism has germinated the soil for the “twenty-first century socialism” that is arising like a tsunami over the forces of empire. Although, as Bolivar said, the states of America differ greatly from one another geographically, industrially, minerally, and otherwise, the region tends to follow a common economic and political path. Since the middle of the twentieth century this has particularly held true.Two recent examples are the “Tango effect,” and the “Tequila effect,” economic crises that hit the American states, stemming from Argentina and Mexico respectively. Going back to the 1950s with the the Cuban Revolution and the rise of the left-leaning Arbenz in Guatemala and Bosch in the Dominican Republic, and, until 1973, the import substitution typified by Cardenas, Peron, and Vargas and the democratic socialism of Allende; through the myriad dictators who racked up hundreds of billions in debt and planted the seeds of neo-liberalism; to the debt crisis and the “lost decade” of the 1980s, and the continued neo-liberalism up until the present time, where the neo-liberal model is being rejected and the people are marching left, we see that loosely, the American states follow similar patterns. We transpire in the Bolivarian Revolution with Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro at the helm and millions of revolutionaries at all flanks.The current global economy, internationally aligned upon the capitols of capital, pronounces the solidarity of the global market above and beyond any talk of solidarity between the workers of Colombia with those of Venezuela — never mind solidarity between laborers in the US and laborers in Iraq! Indeed, exploitation leaches on fragmentation. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor and long time head of the Trilateral Commission, euphemizes divide and conquer tactics as “geo-political pluralism,” and encourages them in every corner of the globe. The danger of the Bolivarian movement is that, in this regard, it strikes the empire at its very crux.

  • At the grassroots level there are countless groups that vary greatly but are threaded together by their common goals. The Zapatistas, the Piqueteros, the Cocaleros, the MST, the FARC, and the ELN, (to name the most publicized), are all intertwined and are inseparable from one another.

 At the executive level, we have comrades (to varying degrees) in Cuba, Venezuela, Paraguay (?), Uruguay, Brazil, Chile (?), and Argentina. In Ecuador, the “Ecuadorian Chavez” who was elected magically turned into the Ecuadorian Bush, and was accordingly removed by a mass uprising; the Bolivian people did the same; the most popular mainstream leader in Mexico leans left, and the Sandinistas are expected to come to power in Nicaragua in 2006.Apart from the surge in progressive leadership in these countries, monumental trade agreements are being put into effect between the countries. Brazil and Venezuela signed an accord in February concerning petrol drilling and the purchase of fighter jets; in May, Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina launched Petrosur, an international energy conglomerate which will work to counter the disruptive effects of price speculation and other geopolitical factors; Venezuelan trade with Argentina has doubled, and with Brazil tripled; Chile and Venezuela have an oil deal; medical students from all over the continent are studying for free in Cuba; and upon the election of Tabare Vazquez in Uruguay, Chavez honored him with a replica of the sword of Bolivar.Telesur, “the first counter-hegemonic telecommunications project known in South America,” is based on the same principles as Petrosur. The TV conglomerate, initially proposed by Chavez and now supported by Lula, Tabare, and Kirchner, is managed by the Uruguayan, Aram Aharonian. In his words: [Telesur is] a strategic project that was born out of the need to give voice to Latin Americans confronted by an accumulation of thoughts and images transmitted by commercial media and out of the urgency to see ourselves through our own eyes and to discover our own solutions to our problems. If we do not start there, the dream of Latin American integration will be no more than a salute to the flag. (8)There exists an objective American reality, and their exists an enigma, the warped and cynical representation of what is happening. The enigma is what CNN and Telesur drum up in order to inculcate the people with acquiescence. Jorge Enrique Botero, a Colombian journalist involved with Telesur, says the independent media, the dissident press, reaches but five to seven percent of the population. What this amounts to is the capitalists’ hegemony over the masses’ understanding of the world. Telesur is groundbreaking in that never before has large-scale capital been invested in alternative media. That is to say, this will be the first time the left will get its proper space in the mainstream. When Bolivar said that “an ignorant people is a blind instrument of its own destruction (93),” he wasn’t kidding, and in our times, ignorance is spread through the television. As Aharonian said it, television cannot be left in the hands of the enemy.There are also the two great economic blocs of South America: Mercosur, a common market between Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina; and the Andean Community, a conglomeration between Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela. What’s more, the South American Community of Nations is the fledgling body that unites Mercosur and the Andean Community. Together this area accounts for 27% of the earth’s fresh water supply, and eight million square kilometers of forests. Already, 31 SACN infrastructural projects are on the drawing board and in the works, with a cost exceeding $4 billion, and their completion is expected within five years.A pachamerican ConclusionThis revolution — this endogenous, indigenous, popular, mestizo, pachanga, Bolivarian , Martidian, international and revolutionary revolution — if fertilized with historical precision, theory/praxis, and the humane instincts of the peoples of the earth, will be a mortal foe to cynical forces whose greed binds our history. “The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil,” wrote renowned red Albert Einstein, in a 1949 article titled Why Socialism? If anything, Einstein’s feelings have been further vindicated since 1949: the fissure between rich and poor is wider, and the antagonism between human and animal; industry and nature; and first and third world is only more acute. The neoliberal/neoconservative model of globalization, capitalist and vertical, its roots soaked in the blood of slavery, its branches mangled in the slavery of property, has got to be leveled onto its side, re-appropriated, modulated by the consensus of humanity and nature — the map must be leveled from its north/south verticism, turned sideways, horizontal, and made socialist! This is to place the liberty of Rousseau, hands down, over the liberty of Locke. To place the liberty of the worker over the liberty of the capitalist to exploit him.In the words of the man who replaced Newton’s law of gravity and on whom the FBI kept a 1,400-page file, Einstein continues:I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.In our terms this signifies an America where Yankees forge the Rio Bravo not to build maquiladoras, but to build community centers and siblingly relations; where pachamericans forge the brave river not to labor in the hotels and chili fields, but to teach Spanish and Nahautl to their northern neighbors and exchange ranchera progressions for 12-bar blues scales. In this new world, capital will no longer be in private hands, wasted on the decadent exploitation that is irreverent of the earth and her peoples, but instead, used for the development of equality and solidarity between nations, the advancement of the arts, sciences and independent journalism, and the extension to all the people the right to cultivate our personal talents and nurture our collective creativity.We as pachamericans are rooted in and oscillate betwixt the histories, tongues, and arts of three peoples. The Africans brought to the New World in the bellies of slave ships; the indigenous who comprised the civilizations of the Inca, the Maya, and the Aztec; and also, we mustn’t forget, the Portuguese and the Spanish, who introduced guitars and the theory of music. What we seek is the integration of these elements.Perhaps the Pachamerikan can be paralleled with Puck in A Midsummer Night’s dream. Agile with his verbosity, enchanting with his mystics and sorcery, Puck pendulates through the three realms of Shakespeare’s imagination — that of the aristocracy, that of the fairies, and that of the playmakers. But, we have our own Shakespeares, just as England has her own Garcia Marquezes!Pachamerika is not the world of Lysander, Bottom the Weaver, and Tatania the fairy queen. Ours is the land of Macondo. With Melquiades the Gypsy, and Julio Cortazar and Borges as our magicians; with Ursula Iguaran, and Rigoberta Menchu and Eva Golinger as our nurturers; and with the Colonel Aureliano Buendia, and el Che and Bolivar and Marti as our liberators. Today we emblazon our banners and refer to our land with the proud title of pachamerica: “pach,” meaning Earth in the Quechua tongue, and America, the colonial label.the endAs an appendix, I would like to look at the realpoetik of the new emerging era. On the 28th of April, the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA)—a fair trade alternative to the Free Trade Area of the Americas — was put into effect. We look to the Final Declaration from the First Cuba-Venezuela Meeting for the Application of the ALBA:Year of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas In view of the historical privilege of making this Final Declaration public in the presence of President Hugo Chavez and President Fidel Castro, both delegations formally pledge to spare no effort until the dream of Bolivar and Marti of a united and integrated Latin America and Caribbean is attained.As the Joint Declaration expresses: “…we fully agree that the ALBA will not become a reality with mercantilist ideas or the selfish interests of business profitability or national benefit to the detriment of other peoples. Only a broad Latin Americanist vision, which acknowledges the impossibility of our countries’ developing and being truly independent in an isolated manner, will be capable of achieving what Bolivar called “…to see the formation in the Americas of the greatest nation in the world, not so much for its size and riches as for its freedom and glory,” and that Marti conceived of as “Our America,” to differentiate it from the other America, the expansionist one with imperialist appetites.In his memorable June 11, 1892, article in the magazine Patria, Jose Marti wrote: “Our enemy obeys one plan: to inflame us, disperse us, divide us, suffocate us. That is why we are obeying another plan: to show ourselves in all our stature, to tighten up, join together, to evade him, finally making our homeland free. Plan against plan.”This, which we are approving today, is that of Bolivar and Marti. ¡Hasta la Victoria Siempre!

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