Archives

Tagged ‘Zapatistas‘

The Ugly American Goes to Chiapas: Correcting Hedges on the Zapatistas

Affect

June 29, 2014

by Lorenzo Raymond

 

Marcos bird

Subcomandante Galeano (formerly Marcos) gives a message to the “well-behaved left”

 

A lie not only deceives others, turning them into objects to be manipulated and used, but a lie erodes trust, the cement that holds communities and relationships together. Lies lead to cynicism. This cynicism spreads outward like a disease until it blights the landscape.
– Chris Hedges, “Decalogue VIII: Theft”, Losing Moses on the Freeway

If Hedges was found in a small matter to have further compounded his dishonesty, it makes you wonder about more important matters.
– Thomas Palaima, University of Texas classics professor and discoverer of Chris Hedges serial plagiarism

Well, we hate to say we told you so. Chris Hedges, pseudo-revolutionary, fire-and-brimstone pacifist, and left-liberal personality cultist, was exposed as a plagiarist this month by some of his own former media comrades. In spite of his radical posturing, one capitalist pillar that Hedges has always refused to denounce is the Protestant work ethic, so it’s rather grotesque to find that that he makes a living ripping off lesser-known and harder-working journalists. The cancer of plagiarism runs deep; this appears to be a modus operandi that stretched over a decade, a decade that ironically saw Hedges crafting a reputation as the great moral absolutist of the left.

Last year, we wrote that Hedges “represents a powerful network of liberal recuperators who have been undermining resistance in this country for years while claiming to promote it.” And, indeed, the network is circling its wagons around him, shamefully giving The Great Man a free pass on behavior that would’ve buried a less well-connected journalist. One of the more laughable claims we’ve seen from Hedges supporters is that there’s a government conspiracy against the writer because he brought a lawsuit against the feds for the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012. In reality, this was one of several ways he undercut the Occupy movement—in the midst of the most sustained wave of direct action the U.S. had seen in years, Hedges assisted in pushing activists “into the courts and out of the streets” ( to use Robert Kennedy’s  description of his goal regarding black rioters and the Civil Rights Act of 1964).[1]  Predictably, the lawsuit was a failure.

Given that Hedges is so intertwined with the left establishment that they will indulge in a cover-up on his behalf, it’s worth looking at just what kind of man they’re covering for. This is a reporter who, unwittingly or not, assisted Iraqi defectors, trained by the CIA, in lying the public into the Iraq War ; a “fearless investigative journalist” who refuses to investigate substantial charges of media censorship by the Lannan Foundation because billionaire Patrick Lannan is a friend of his [2]; an armchair revolutionary who dismissed the Black Panthers and the American Indian Movement as “parasites to popular protest”; And, as we’ve noted before, a blind ideologue who will falsify the history of classical anarchism—and more recently, of the Zapatistas—to promote his “nonviolent” agenda.

Hedges’ whitewash of the Zapatistas, published just this month, is a particularly shameful exercise that can’t go unchallenged. It’s one thing for a pacifist propaganda site like Waging Nonviolence to cover the Zapatistas without mentioning the group’s commitment to armed defense; it’s another to completely twist their politics and words to suit the author’s narrow ideology. Hedges charges into the breach though, writing that “The Zapatistas began by using violence, but they soon abandoned it for the slow, laborious work of building 32 autonomous, self-governing municipalities.”  He reiterates throughout the article the organization’s “shift from violence to nonviolence.”

The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) abjures recklessness with its bullets and promotes mutual aid programs, to be sure. But the communiqué that the Zapatistas sent out last month in response to deadly attacks by right-wing paramilitaries doesn’t sound very Gandhian: “…it is pain and rage that now again makes us lace up our boots, put on our uniforms, strap on our guns, and cover our faces…”  In the same message they note with pride that the murdered companero named Galeano, though caught unarmed, refused to surrender and “challenged the aggressors to hand-to-hand combat…”

In truth, the EZLN has never seen community organization and the periodic use of violence as mutually exclusive; in fact they see them as mutually reinforcing. Chiapas correspondent Ginna Villarreal wrote of the participants in a Zapatista women’s forum of 2007, “They are members of the five Caracols and work in all areas of government, they are promoters of health and education. They are also insurgents and commanders of the army EZLN.”  Aid worker Hillary Klein writes that:

     As someone who worked in Zapatista communities for many years, my impression is that the people who make up the movement do not distinguish between the work they are doing in their communities and their military leadership; they see it as one integrated movement. Because the military aspect of the Zapatista movement is the most clandestine, perhaps it is the least understood… But there is no denying that without its political-military character, in other words, without its initial commitment to armed struggle and its guerrilla army, the Zapatista movement would not be what it is, 15 years ago or today.

EZLN Aug 2005

Those don’t look like wooden guns: EZLN photographed in August 2005

 

In his article, Hedges extensively quotes Subcomandante Marcos’ recent “farewell address” and its call for thoughtfulness when seeking justice, but he omits these words of the speech, which are a pointed rejection of Hedges’ entire thesis:

     Nothing that we’ve done, for better or for worse, would have been possible without an armed military, the Zapatista Army for National Liberation; without it we would not have risen up against the bad government exercising the right to legitimate violence. The violence of below in the face of the violence of above.

 

     We are warriors and as such we know our role and our moment

Diversity of tactics is about proportionate response, and that is what the EZLN practice; the US government—the power behind the corporations, the Mexican army, and the right-wing paramilitaries—has decreed “low-intensity conflict” as the strategy in Chiapas; thus the Zapatistas keep their responses low-intensity as well, but not, as Hedges would demand, no-intensity. And so the ball sits in the Empire’s court; the EZLN is never willing, but always ready, to go to war.

Mired in the pacifist binary of nonviolence/violence, the well-behaved left cannot make sense of this, yet it is a common view in revolutionary philosophy, particularly in Latin America. Paulo Friere writes that, “paradoxical though it may seem – [it is] precisely in the response of the oppressed to the violence of their oppressors that a gesture of love may be found. Consciously or unconsciously, the act of rebellion by the oppressed (an act which is always, or nearly always, as violent as the initial violence of the oppressors) can initiate love.”

If there are any genuine revolutionaries still aligned with the established left, they should understand very clearly that a defense of Hedges is not a defense of revolt; in fact it is the opposite. One of the best things we can do to restore the spirit of rebellion in this country is to cut ourselves loose of this shady albatross. But at the same time, take this much of his advice to heart: “We must all become Zapatistas”…Remember “the violence of below in the face of the violence of above.”…And as warriors, know your role, and know your moment…

 

1. Thomas F. Jackson, “Jobs and Freedom:  The Black Revolt of 1963 and the
Contested Meanings of the March on Washington” (Virginia Foundation of the Humanities) pg. 12 – http://web1.millercenter.org/apd/colloquia/pdf/col_2008_0410_jackson.pdf

2. John Pilger, “The Censorship that Dare Not Speak Its Name: The Strange Silencing of Liberal America” [unabridged version]  in Project Censored 2014: Fearless Speech in Fateful Times, Mickey Huff and Andy Lee Roth, eds. (Seven Stories Press, 2013) – http://bit.ly/UdRmPS

 

[Lorenzo Raymond is an independent historian and educator living in New York City.]

 

Klein’s Decline

Center for World Indigenous Studies

January 25, 2015

by Jay Taber

Klein OECD

24 November 2015 – Naomi Klein speaking at the OECD. Photo : Julien Daniel / OECD

In The De-Klein of a Revolutionary Writer, Wrong Kind of Green examines the downfall of Naomi Klein. As a celebrity who in a scant eight years went from a supporter of the Zapatistas to the darling of OECD and the New Economy, Klein personifies the NGO trend of selling out to the very powers that condemn the indigenous peoples of the world to violence, misery and death.

Read the full article

here

 

 

 

[Jay Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, a correspondent to Forum for Global Exchange, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and activists engaged in defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations. Email: tbarj [at] yahoo.com Website: www.jaytaber.com]

 

The De-Klein of a Revolutionary Writer: From Subcomandante Marcos to Angel Gurria

Wrong Kind of Green

January 25, 2016

 

Shock and awe (technically known as rapid dominance) is a military doctrine based on the use of overwhelming power and spectacular displays of force to paralyze the enemy’s perception of the battlefield and destroy its will to fight. (Shock and awe – Overview”, Oxford University Press). In the context of today’s completely top-down environmental/climate “movement” funded by the world’s most powerful institutions, we have a soft-power doctrine serving western hegemony based on the use of overwhelming power and spectacular displays of force via the non-profit industrial complex, that succeeds in paralyzing the public’s perception of the “battlefield” (power structures) and destroy its will to fight. Further this doctrine coupled with social engineering and behavioural change tactics manipulates the populace in not only acquiescing to, but even demanding further servitude and oppression.

“I continue to dream what many say is impossible.  I’m sitting in a hotel in San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas, Mexico writing this blog post a week after the Cancún mess.  In Chiapas, when the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect on New Years Day in 1994, a band of  Indigenous Peoples called the Zapatistas started a revolution in Chiapas stating that NAFTA ‘is a death sentence for Indigenous Peoples.’” — Running to Catch a Bus to the Apocalypse by Orin Langelle

In 2007 Naomi Klein visited Chiapas, sharing a platform with Zapatista spokesperson Subcomandante Marcos and the EZLN (Zapatista Army of National Liberation) at a conference in CIDECI (Das Centro indígena de Capacitación Integral) on the outskirts of San Cristobal, Mexico. [Source]

naomi_ klein

December 2007: Coloquio Internacional Inmemoriam Andrés Aubry: “Planeta tierra, movimientos antisistémicos”

klein 4

Klein in Chiapas, December 2007 | No Logo Website: “At the end of the conference, Zapatista spokesperson Subcomandante Marcos issued a communiqué warning that “the signs of war on the horizon are clear” and noted, “In the words of Naomi Klein, we need to prepare ourselves for the shock.”

However in the actual physical manifestation of a person doing a proverbial 180 degree turn regarding ideological allegiances, it was only a scant eight years later, on November 24, 2015 where an exuberant Klein is photographed with Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). To illustrate the difference between the rebel comandante and Klein’s current ally in “revolution”, Gurría served as Mexico’s Minister of Foreign Affairs (under the Zedillo administration) from 1994–1998. Prior to his appointment in 1994, Gurría served as the party’s foreign affairs secretary. Gurría “co-chaired [the] financial affairs team for NAFTA” (World Economic Forum) and “also took part in negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)” (AACSB International). In January 1998 Mexican President Zedillo appointed Jose Angel Gurría as Minister of Finance.

As Gurría was a person who not only supported NAFTA, but negotiated it, there is no more telling a statement regarding Klein’s change as far as who and what she supports than the following:

“The Zapatistas chose January 1, 1994, the day the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) came into force, to “declare war” on the Mexican army, launching an insurrection and briefly taking control of the city of San Cristobal de las Casas and five Chiapas towns. They sent out a communiqué explaining that Nafta, which banned subsidies to indigenous farm co-operatives, would be a “summary execution” for four million indigenous Mexicans in Chiapas, the country’s poorest province.” — The Unknown Icon, Naomi Klein, March 3, 2001

Klein OECD

Photo: 24 November 2015: Naomi Klein (left) and Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). [1]

Further evidence in terms of the establishment Garria and Klein’s blatant about-face regarding her current cooperative relationship with the establishment can be found in the following responses:

“One top official at Nomura Securities summed up Wall Street’s euphoria upon hearing of Gurría’s appointment. ‘He’s one of ours.’” — Our “Man in Mexico” and the Chiapas Massacre, 1998

+++

“Long considered a fortress of nationalism, Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has now been taken over by the neoliberal elite. José Angel Gurría is a technocrat through and through, a specialist in financial affairs with almost no real experience in the traditions of Mexican foreign policy. This would seem to be the future of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the post-NAFTA era.” — ROMAN LOPEZ VILLICANA, Mexico and NAFTA: The Case of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, March 1997

+++

“In December 1997, there was the brutal Acteal massacre in which 45 Zapatista supporters were killed, most of them women and children. And the situation in Chiapas is still desperate, with thousands displaced from their homes.” — The Unknown Icon, Naomi Klein, March 3, 2001

In addition, the subsequent statement is an excerpt from the 1998 article Our “Man in Mexico” and the Chiapas Massacre written by James Petras:

“The massacre of 45 Indians in Chiapas by government-sponsored paramilitary forces has to be viewed within the broader context of regimes’ vigorous implementation of the socio-economic model and its growing political isolation within Mexican society. While there was worldwide condemnation of the massacre (over 58 cities and several parliaments in Europe) and its perpetrator in the Mexican government, Wall Street, the city of London, and other financial centers around the world have been lauding the “economic recovery” and the 5 percent to 6 percent growth rate over the past two years. The polarization within Mexico is reproduced overseas. The very essence of “the model” is the attraction of investment based on lowering living standards to cheapen the costs of the booming exports sector. The policies that attract investors deepen poverty in Mexico: the opening of markets has led to a flood of cheap imports, particularly basic grains, while privatization has meant the sell-off of public enterprises. The former has condemned millions of peasant producers to poverty while the latter has led to the concentration of wealth, the firing of hundreds of thousands of wage and salaried workers and the growth of the informal economy…

Outside of government circles he is called the “Angel of Dependency,” for his generosity with foreign investors and his willingness to give free sway to U. S. police, military, and drug officials within Mexico’s borders. To ensure continued growth to guarantee the continued flow of overseas funds and to consolidate foreign investor confidence, President Zedillo appointed Jose Angel Gurría as Minister of Finance, the position directly responsible for negotiating with the international banks and U.S. Treasury. Outside of government circles he is called the “Angel of Dependency,” for his generosity with foreign investors and his willingness to give free sway to U. S. police, military, and drug officials within Mexico’s borders. One top official at Nomura Securities summed up Wall Street’s euphoria upon hearing of Gurría’s appointment. “He’s one of ours.”…

The Angel of Dependency

To emphasize his determination to maintain the lopsided dependent growth model, President Zedillo appointed the above mentioned Jose Angel Gurría to head the Finance Ministry. After learning of Gurría’s appointment the Mexican newspapers reported “euphoria on Wall Street,” and a financial advisor in the city of London gloated that “It couldn’t be better.”

Why does Gurría come so highly recommended? First and foremost was his role in sabotaging a Latin American debtors cartel that was in the process of being organized in 1986. While the rest of Latin America’s finance ministers were preparing a | document to collectively I reduce the percentage of debt payments to the overseas bankers, Gurría went ahead and signed a new agreement with the IMF in which he committed Mexico to following a strict payment plan. In the follow-up, he supported the strict subordination of the Mexican economy to all the articles and clauses of the IMF austerity plan, in effect becoming an unpaid functionary of IMF policy makers. He was particularly generous in setting the terms for the privatization of Mexican public enterprises, thus providing speculators with prodigious windfalls.

More than any official in recent history he has been instrumental in undermining Mexican sovereignty. While foreign minister between 1995-1997 he abolished Mexico’s traditional respect for political asylum for refugees. He eliminated constraints on the operations of the DEA, FBI, and CIA operatives in Mexican territory (in the name of international cooperation)…

As further proof of Garria’s complicity in the Mexico’s oppression of the indigenous, the aforementioned author James Petras goes into detail about deepening social crisis and the role of the state in the Chiapas Massacre within his previously referenced article. He summarises his research as follows:

“U.S. military doctrine and training of the repressive forces accompanies U.S. support for the free market economic policies of President Zedillo. The massacre in Chiapas highlights the real meaning of U.S.-Mexican cooperation; free markets and machine guns. On the other side of the barricades, the continued struggle of the Chiapas Indian communities, their growing allies in the countryside in Mexico City and overseas represents another kind of international cooperation: popular solidarity in defense of autonomous self-governing communities.” [Read the full article here]

+++

Angel Global Goals

“OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría and UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi signed a partnership agreement while attending the Summit taking place at UN headquarters in New York from 25–27 September. Building on each other’s comparative advantage, the OECD and UNCTAD have joined forces to help decision makers take actions towards inclusive growth.” [Photo: Julien Daniel / OECD] [Dr. Kituyi Echoes His Master’s Voice in Mombasa]

Global Goals 4

Sustaining Privatization

Global Goals 3

Today Gurría serves as Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Gurría launched the “New Approaches to Economic Challenges”, “an OECD reflection process on the lessons from the crisis with the aim to upgrade OECD’s analytical frameworks and develop a comprehensive agenda for sustainable and inclusive growth.” [2] Gurría’s background is extensive, currently serving on the Advisory Board for the Global Green Growth Forum (3GF). 3GF’s works on building public-private partnerships for a “global green growth agenda”: “This industrial transition has the potential to unlock new growth engines and spur global economic growth… Studies on green growth opportunities from the OECD, UNEP and the World Bank conclude that the economic opportunity in ‘going green’ is worth several trillion dollars between now and 2030.” ” [3Gf website]

Obama & Angel

The epitome of the black bourgeoisie. December 1 2015: “OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría and UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi signed a partnership agreement while attending the Summit taking place at UN headquarters in New York from 25–27 September. Building on each other’s comparative advantage, the OECD and UNCTAD have joined forces to help decision makers take actions towards inclusive growth. [Photo: Julien Daniel / OECD]

Today “Klein is the Oprah Winfrey of the Toy Che Brigades–another vapid luminary on the cover of Vogue.” Immersed and drowning in a society of spectacle, the increasing vogue for capitalist-friendly climate discourse flourishes like a cancer. Celebrity fetish coupled with sophisticated (yet evasive) holistic linguistics is further mobilized to protect, expand and strengthen capitalism and growth under the guise of a “new economy”. Blinded by privilege, while enraptured with one’s own ego, fame and fortune entice today’s environmental “leaders” who are appointed/chosen and bankrolled by the world’s most powerful oligarchs and are nothing more than recherché brands serving as valuable commodities insulating current power structures. As writer Milan Kundera once wrote: “Political rhetoric and sophistries do not exist, after all, in order that they be believed; rather, they have to serve as a common and agreed upon alibi.” An alibi shared amongst those who reap the benefits of white supremacy and privilege.

 

+++

 

[1] Klein came to the OECD in the context of the “Coffees of the Secretary-General” series. Paris, France. “Since 2010 some of the world’s foremost thinkers–economists, historians, environmentalists, writers, artists, photographers–have come to the OECD to meet Secretary-General Angel Gurría and chat about the world over a relaxing cup of coffee… After coffee, the conversation then opens out into a lively discussion with a packed audience of OECD experts.” [Source: OECD]

[2] “In 2008, Geoffrey Lean wrote that a UN plan for a Green New Deal “will be formally launched in London next week.” He noted that the GND “draws its inspiration from Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, which ended the 1930s depression.” UN leaders promised that “‘green growth’ will rescue the world’s finances.” The very next spring the UN released its core description of a world-wide plan for recovery called the Global Green New Deal (GGND). Its list of collaborators included the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization (WTO)…. The GGND was designed to expand Green Capitalism and the Green Economy. It emphatically states that economic issues must be understood as a compilation of techno-fixes: “Technological solutions will be essential drivers in the transition towards a green economy.” Nowhere are problems presented as caused by social relationships of domination. Instead, it seeks to tie economic “improvement” to global carbon markets and REDD…. With no plan to actually restrict the extraction, refining and sale of fossil fuels, the UN hopes to add the alternative fuel market on top of the existing fossil fuel market as a way to expand the total energy market…. For indigenous peoples around the world, the fight is often against corporations extracting minerals. By the second decade of the twenty-first century, hundreds or perhaps thousands of struggles against economic growth of extraction industries broke out.” [Source: So How Green Is the Green New Deal?, July 11, 2014]

FLASHBACK | Conservation International: Privatizing Nature, Plundering Biodiversity

conservation-international

Seedling | Grain

October 2003

by Aziz Choudry

Conservation International’s corporate sponsor list reads like a list of the US’ top fifty transnational corporations. Biodiversity conservation is at the top of Conservation International’s list of goals. But as the list of Conservation International’s dubious ventures and questionable partners around the world grows, Aziz Choudry is starting to wonder if it is time to ‘out’ this ‘multinational conservation corporation’ and show its true colours.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C, with operations in over 30 countries on four continents, Conservation International claims to be an environmental NGO. Its mission is “to conserve the Earth’s living natural heritage, our global biodiversity, and to demonstrate that human societies are able to live harmoniously with nature.” [1] This all sounds very laudable and Conservation International has some very high profile fans. This year Colin Powell shared the podium with Conservation International President Russell Mittermeier at the launch of the Bush Administration’s “Initiative Against Illegal Logging” at the US State Department. In December 2001, Gordon Moore, who founded Intel Corporation, donated US $261 million to Conservation International, supposedly the largest grant ever to an environmental organisation. Moore is chairman of Conservation International’s executive committee. Conservation International has repaid Moore’s largesse by nam-ing an endangered Brazilian pygmy owl after him. [2]

Subverting Solidarity

AoA15

Intercontinental Cry

Aug 15, 2013

By Jay Taber

Solidarity as a strategy — exemplified by the 1994 Zapatista/Civil Society alliance against NAFTA — made clear the power of unifying the indigenous peoples movement, the human rights movement, and the environmental movement. Taking a lesson from the iconic uprising in Mexico, the U.S. military reorganized its intelligence and public relations capacities to engender a more sophisticated form of psychological warfare and counterinsurgency that includes co-optation of reform-oriented, Civil Society NGOs.