Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Facebook Shuts Down Dozens of Alleged Pro-Bolsonaro Accounts in Brazil

Sputnik – 23.10.2018

Facebook has shut down 68 pages and 43 accounts linked to the Brazilian marketing group Raposo Fernandes Associados (RFA); the social media site claims that the firm violated its spam policies.

“The people behind RFA created pages using fake accounts or multiple accounts with the same names, which violates our Community Standards. They then used those pages to post massive amounts of clickbait,” the statement reads.

A local newspaper, O Estado de S. Paulo, called the blocked accounts the largest network supporting Brazil’s right-wing presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who will face off against his leftist rival Fernando Haddad in the Sunday runoff election.

The US social media giant argued that its decision to remove these pages was based on their behavior, rather than their content.

The newspaper said it exposed the pro-Bolsonaro network in a joint investigation with Avaaz, a US-based activist website, which claimed that the blocked pages had generated 12.5 million interactions in the past month.

October 23, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | 1 Comment

Facebook teams up with US government to police ‘fake news’ in foreign elections

RT | September 24, 2018

Facebook has teamed up with two US government-funded think tanks as part of a new initiative to bolster the social media giant’s “election integrity efforts” around the globe.

The new partnership with the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) was revealed by Facebook in a call with reporters last week and reported by Reuters — but the company’s choice of partners has since raised a few eyebrows. Both think-tanks are funded by the US government, through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

Tweeting about the initiative, Mark Weisbrot, a co-director at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, called Facebook’s decision to work with the US government-funded organizations “Orwellian” and said that they “specialize in overseas propaganda.” Weisbrot also criticized Reuters reporting of the news which focused on Facebook’s supposed fake-news busting efforts and seemed lacking in “any awareness” of who the two groups were.

During the telephone Q&A with reporters focusing on the upcoming elections in the US and Brazil, Facebook’s Elections and Civic Engagement Samidh Chakrabarti, said that “preventing election interference” on the platform has been “one of the biggest cross-team efforts” the company has seen. But is teaming up with government-funded think tanks really the best way to prevent election interference on Facebook?

Asked by CNBC reporter Salvador Rodriguez to elaborate on the partnership, Katie Harbath, who heads up Facebook’s Global Politics and Government Outreach team, said she wanted to be clear that Facebook’s work with the IRI and NDI is only focused “internationally” and that it has nothing to do with domestic elections in the US. Harbath said the two organizations have “a lot of experience in working in elections and in many countries around the globe” and that Facebook can learn from them about “election integrity risks” that exist in other countries.

That knowledge might prompt a sign of relief from American journalists, but given the US government holds a very real stake in the outcome of many other elections worldwide, it still seems a little odd that Facebook should be using US government-funded organizations to help it decide what constitutes fake news in foreign elections, or to “slow the global spread of misinformation” as Reuters put it.

It’s not the first time Facebook has chosen a dubious partner to help it out in its fight against fake news, either. The social media giant also entered a similar partnership with the Atlantic Council, a think tank funded by the US and other NATO governments, as well as by a slew of US weapons manufacturers.

Shortly after its partnership with the Atlantic Council was revealed, Facebook temporarily deleted the English-language page of the Venezuela-based news outlet Telesur without explanation. Telesur is one of the only English-language media sources providing an alternative view on events in Venezuela.

Facebook has also been criticized for capitulating to demands and threats made by the Israeli government by deleting the accounts of a number of accounts run by Palestinian activists.

Nonetheless, Facebook has said it is setting up a “war room” ahead of major elections in Brazil next month. The war-like rhetoric echoes a Washington Post op-ed by Facbook CEO Mark Zuckerberg last month, in which he said Facebook was in an “arms race” against “bad actors” and that the platform needed to improve its “defenses”.

Amy Studdart, a senior advisor at the IRI, told Reuters that the details of its partnership with Facebook had not been fully worked out, but said the organization would help Facebook employees “understand how their platform is being used on the ground all around the world.”

The NED and its affiliates have been criticized as engines of “regime change” around the world, and one of its founders famously noted in 1991 that “a lot of what we do now was done covertly by the CIA 25 years ago.”

September 24, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brazil Court Rules Barring Lula Da Silva From Presidential Election – Reports

Sputnik – 01.09.2018

The lawyers of the jailed former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva have said they would appeal the ruling by a 4-1 majority of the seven-member top electoral court to the country’s Supreme Court, Reuters reported.

Lula, who served as the country’s president from 2003 through 2010, was sentenced to 9.5 years in prison last summer for allegedly accepting a luxury apartment from a construction firm in return for political favors. Lula has denied the accusations. An appeals court upheld the ruling in January and increased Lula’s jail term to 12 years and a month.

The Brazilian Workers’ Party (PT) vowed in a statement late Friday to secure Lula da Silva’s candidcay in the upcoming October’s vote.

“We will present all appeals before the courts for the recognition of the rights of Lula provided by law and international treaties ratified by Brazil… we will defend Lula in the streets, with the people,” the PT statement was quoted by AFP.

Earlier in August, the PT announced it has registered jailed ex-president Lula da Silva as its candidate in the upcoming October’s election. Papers were submitted to Brazil’s Supreme Court hours before the deadline passed.

The UN Human Rights Committee has urged Brazil to ensure that political rights of Lula were observed given that he was registered as a candidate for the upcoming presidential election. The committee also urged Brazil to refrain from hindering Lula from participating in the election until after his court appeals were completed.

However, the country’s Foreign Ministry has said that Brazilian authorities do not consider binding the UNHR recommendations regarding observance of jailed former president.

According to the recent polls, jailed ex-president Lula da Silva is one of the most popular presidential candidates, however, the new rulling of the Brazil’s electoral court questions Lula’s run in the presidential campaign.

Lula da Silva’s supporters remain, however, optimistic. The PT has launched an appeal for support on Twitter, after which a hashtag translating as “Lula on the ballot box” quickly began trending, AFP reported.

September 1, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , | 1 Comment

UN Committee Vice President: Decision on Lula’s Political Rights is ‘Legally Binding’

Former Brazilian President and current presidential candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. | Photo: Prensa Latina
teleSUR | August 24, 2018

Sarah Cleveland, vice-president of the UN Human Rights Commission, has condemned statements made by Brazilian officials following the UN’s determination that the state should “take all necessary measures” to allow Brazilian presidential candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to “exercise his political rights” as a candidate in the October presidential elections.

Speaking in an interview with swissinfo.ch Cleveland said the measures put forward by the Committee are “legally binding.”

“The precautionary measures issued are not recommendations, they are legally binding and impose an international legal obligation on Brazil to fulfill them,” she said.

Cleveland went on to say that the Geneva-based commission “has no interest in the results of the elections, only in the right of everyone to participate.”

But warned that “failure to comply with the precautionary measures would mean that Brazil would be violating” international treaties to which it is a signatory.

The UN Human Rights Commission issued the decision on August 17, even though Lula remains in prison on alleged corruption charges, events that many legal experts and observers attribute to lawfare and a salacious mainstream media campaign.

The ruling includes recommendations on the former head of state’s right to participate in media events and debates, as well as convene with members of his Workers’ Party. The committee also said Lula should not be prevented from participating in the elections until all of his legal appeals have been exhausted, per Brazil’s Constitution.

Brazil’s Workers’ Party (PT) hailed the decision made by the UN.

“It’s impossible to hide the violations practiced in Brazil by sectors of the judicial system, in cooperation with Globo (Brazil’s largest media conglomerate), the mainstream media and the coup government from the rest of the world. Either comply with the United Nations decision or put Brazil on the list of lawless, undemocratic nations,” PT president, Gleisi Hoffmann, said in a public statement.

Brazil’s most extensive public survey and research organization, Datafolha, has revealed that Lula’s lead in the presidential race has jumped to 39 percent of likely voters, 20 points ahead of his closest rival, Rio de Janeiro congressman Jair Bolsonaro.

Lula has topped every 2018 electoral poll conducted by Vox Populi, Ibope, Datafolha, Data Poder 360, Instituto Parana, the National Confederation of Transportation/MDA and Ipsos. His two terms in office were marked by a slew of social programs, lifting millions of Brazilians out of poverty and removing the country from the United Nations World Hunger Map. He left office with a record approval rating of 83 percent in 2011, according to Datafolha.

August 25, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , | Leave a comment

Appeals court judge overrules decision to release Brazil’s former President Lula from jail

RT | July 8, 2018

An appeals court judge has overruled an order to release former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva from jail.

The move backed a decision made earlier on Sunday by Federal Judge Sérgio Moro, who had blocked a third judge’s decision to free Lula.

The former president, who is widely known as ‘Lula,’ has been in prison since April 7, serving a 12-year prison sentence for corruption and money laundering. He maintains he is innocent, claiming his conviction was politically motivated.

July 8, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

Brazil Judge Gives Police One Hour to Release Lula

teleSUR | July 8, 2018

Appeal judge Rogerio Favreto of the appeal Federal Regional Court of the 4th Region based in Porto Alegre, reaffirmed Sunday afternoon his decision to grant freedom to former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, as two judges attempted to question his authority, further giving the police a deadline of one hour to release the former socialist president.

Lula has been imprisoned since April 7 in Curitiba over alleged charges of corruption that investigators failed to provide evidence for.

After his earlier order, Favreto Issued another decision later in the day reaffirming that he had full authority to accept the Habeas Corpus filed by his lawyers to the appeal court weeks ago.

His first order demands the suspension of the provisional sentence and grants Lula freedom immediately.

“The release order must be urgently complied with today by the presentation of this order to any police authority at the prison center of the federal police office in Curitiba, where the accused is being held,” says the release order.

Lula was sentenced to 12 years in prison for his alleged involvement in the Lava Jato Operation, accused of passive corruption and money laundering, charges he and his supporters flatly deny.

He was granted immediate freedom after the lawmakers Wadih Damous, Paulo Pimenta and Paulo Teixeira submitted a “Habeas Corpus” request to Favreto.

“At the current stage, the illegal and unconstitutional provisional execution of the sentence imposed on the former president Lula can’t stop his political rights neither restrict the right to acts related to his condition as a pre-candidate to president of the republic,” said Favreto, who was a member of the Workers’ Party for 19 years.

Lula’s Workers’ Party (PT) issued a statement shortly after the decision. “Through the decision of the Favreto, the judicial system, which was so often manipulated to persecute Lula and deprive him of freedom, now recognizes that he has the right to defend himself in freedom in the higher instances, as the Constitution guarantees to everyone,” the PT said in a press release Sunday afternoon.

“And it decides, mainly, that society has the right to know, through the voice of Lula himself, his proposals to get Brazil out of this immense crisis, to resume the path of democracy, social justice and the construction of the equality.”

However, the judge Sergio Moro, who sentenced Lula in the first place, is trying to revoke the release order.

July 8, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , | Leave a comment

Ugly Canadians active in Brazil

By Yves Engler · May 23, 2018

New revelations about Brazilian military violence offer an opportunity to reflect on Canadian support for that country’s 1964 coup and how Ottawa’s policy towards our South American neighbour is similar today.

A spate of international and Brazilian media have reported on a recently uncovered memo from CIA director William Colby to then US secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, detailing a meeting between president Ernesto Geisel and three Brazilian generals. At the 1974 meeting the new Brazilian president is reported to have supported extending “summary executions” of enemies of the military dictatorship. An army officer, Geisel ordered National Information Service head João Baptista Figueiredo — who would replace him as president — to authorize the executions.

While it has long been accepted that the military dictatorship was responsible for hundreds of murders — a 2014 national truth commission blamed it for 191 killings and 210 disappearances — military backers have sought to put the blame on lower level officers. But the uncovered memo clearly reveals Geisel, who was considered more moderate than other top military leaders, was directly responsible for some deaths.

Ottawa passively supported the military coup against elected President João Goulart that instituted the 1964–85 military dictatorship. “The Canadian reaction to the military coup of 1964 was careful, polite and allied with American rhetoric,” notes Brazil and Canada in the Americas. Prime Minister Lester Pearson failed to publicly condemn the ouster of Goulart.

Washington played a pivotal role in the overthrow of Brazilian democracy. At one point President Lyndon Johnson urged ambassador Lincoln Gordon to take “every step that we can” to support Goulart’s removal. In a declassified cable between Gordon and Washington, the ambassador acknowledged US involvement in “covert support for pro-democracy street rallies … and encouragement [of] democratic and anti-communist sentiment in Congress, armed forces, friendly labor and student groups, church, and business.”

Washington, Ottawa and leading segments of Brazil’s business community opposed Goulart’s Reformas de Base (basic reforms). Goulart wanted to expand suffrage by giving illiterates and low ranking military officers the vote. He also wanted to put 15% of the national income into education and to implement land reform. To pay for this the government planned to introduce a proportional income tax and greater controls on the profit transfers of multinational corporations.

As important as following Washington’s lead, Pearson’s tacit support for the coup was driven by Canadian corporate interests. Among the biggest firms in Latin America at the time, Brascan was commonly known as the “the Canadian octopus” since its tentacles reached into so many areas of Brazil’s economy. A study of the Toronto-based company that began operating in Brazil in 1899 noted, “[Brazilian Traction’s vice-president Antonio] Gallotti doesn’t hide his participation in the moves and operations that led to the coup d’état against Goulart in 1964.” After the elected government was overthrown, Brazilian Traction president Grant Glassco stated, “the new government of Brazil is … made up of men of proven competence and integrity. The President, Humberto Castello Branco, commands the respect of the entire nation.”

Overthrowing the Goulart government, which had made it more difficult for companies to export profits, was good business. After the 1964 coup the Financial Post noted “the price of Brazilian Traction common shares almost doubled overnight with the change of government from an April 1 low of $1.95 to an April 3 high of $3.60.” Between 1965 and 1974, Brascan drained Brazil of $342 million ($2 billion today). When Brascan’s Canadian president, Robert Winters, was asked why the company’s profits grew so rapidly in the late 1960s his response was simple: “The Revolution.”

As opposition to the Brazilian military regime’s rights violations grew in Canada, Ottawa downplayed the gravity of the human rights situation. In a June 1972 memo to the Canadian embassy, the Director of the Latin American Division at Foreign Affairs stated: “We have, however, done our best to avoid drawing attention to this problem [human rights violations] because we are anxious to build a vigorous and healthy relationship with Brazil. We hope that in the future these unfortunate events and publicity, which damages the Brazilian image in Canada, can be avoided.”

The military dictatorship’s assassination program has contemporary relevance. In 2016 Workers Party President Dilma Rousseff was impeached in a “soft coup” and the social democratic party’s candidate for the upcoming presidential election, Lula da Silva, was recently jailed. The night before the Supreme Court was set to determine Lula’s fate the general in charge of the army hinted at military intervention if the judges ruled in favour of the former president and election frontrunner.

While they’ve made dozens of statements criticizing Venezuela over the past two years, the Justin Trudeau government seems to have remained silent on Rousseff’s ouster, Lula’s imprisonment and persecution of the left. The only comment I found was a Global Affairs official telling Sputnik that Canada would maintain relations with Brazil after Rousseff was impeached. Since that time Canada has begun negotiating to join the Brazilian led MERCOSUR trade block (just after Venezuela was expelled).

As many Brazilians worry about their country returning to military rule, Canadians should demand their government doesn’t contribute to weakening the country’s fragile democracy.

May 25, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

CIA Memo: Brazil’s Dictator Geisel Authorized Extrajudicial Executions

Ernesto Geisel, President of Brazil, hosts a State Dinner for Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter. March 29, 1978 | Photo: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
teleSUR | May 13, 2018

A declassified memo from the U.S. Department of State revealed that Brazilian dictator Ernesto Geisel (1974-1979) approved summary executions of “dangerous subversive” people personally, continuing with the extrajudicial methods of his predecessors.

The document was made public back in 2015, but it wasn’t until a few days ago that Matias Spektor, an international relations professor at the Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV) and a columnist at Brazilian newspaper Folha, found it as part of his research work and posted it on social media, along with a picture of Geisel and Joao Baptista Figueiredo, who later became his successor.

The document narrates a meeting between President Geisel, General Milton Tavares de Souza and General Confucio Danton de Paula Avelino, respectively outgoing and incoming chiefs of the Army Intelligence Center (CIE), along with Figueiredo, who at that time was Chief of the National Intelligence Service (SNI).

“This is the most disturbing document I’ve read in 20 years of research: Just after being sworn in, Geisel authorized the continuation of the regime’s killing policies, but it requires the Army Intelligence Center previous authorization from the Planalto Palace.”

General Milton briefed Geisel about the role of the Army Intelligence Center (CIE) against “the internal subversive target” during the presidency of Emilio Garrastazu Medici, and said that “extrajudicial methods should continue to be employed against dangerous subversives.”

He also informed Geisel that about 104 people falling under this category had been executed by the CIE in the previous year. Figueiredo supported this policy and urged Geisel to continue with it.

According to the memo, Geisel “commented on the seriousness and potentially prejudicial aspects of this policy,” and said he wanted to think about it over the weekend. He decided to go along with it, but to limit the executions to “only dangerous subversives,” and required the CIE to consult Figueiredo for approval before any execution.

The entire CIE would then be under Figueiredo’s control, blurring the line between the CIE and the SNI.

“I didn’t know Geisel had given the Planalto Palace the responsibility over summary execution decision. The government’s leadership was not only aware of the executions but also ordered them. That’s impressive, unheard of,” said Spektor.

The memo was sent by William Colby, who was then Director of Central Intelligence Agency, to then U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who also played a key role in promoting military coups against democratically elected governments in Latin America, under the subject “Decision by Brazilian President Ernesto Geisel To Continue the Summary Execution of Dangerous Subversives Under Certain Conditions” and dated April 11, 1974.

First and second paragraphs of the document (7 and 12 and a half lines) are still classified.

After the documents were picked up by Spektor, the Brazilian army stated that any classified documents that could prove Colby’s allegations of the events had been destroyed as it was stipulated by the laws of that period.

May 14, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

In Latin America the Pendulum Swings to the Right

By James Petras | Axis of Logic | December 20, 2017

Introduction

Clearly the pendulum has swung to the right in the past few years. Numerous questions arise. What kind of right? How far right? How did they gain power? What is their appeal? How sustainable are the right wing regimes? Who are their international allies and adversaries? Having taken power, how have the rightist regimes performed and by what criteria is success or failure measured?

While the left has been in retreat, they still retain power in some states. Numerous questions arise. What is the nature of the left today? Why have some regimes continued while others have declined or been vanquished? Can the left recover its influence and under what conditions and with what programmatic appeal.

We will proceed by discussing the character and policies of the right and left and their direction. We will conclude by analyzing the dynamics of right and left policies, alignments and future perspectives.

Right-Radicalism: The Face of Power

The right wing regimes are driven by intent to implement structural changes: they look to reordering the nature of the state, economic and social relations and international political and economic alignments.

Radical right regimes rule in Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Paraguay, Guatemala, Honduras and Chile.

In several countries extreme right regimes have made abrupt changes, while in others they build on incremental changes constituted over time.

The changes in Argentina and Brazil represent examples of extreme regressive transformations directed at reversing income distribution, property relations, international alignments and military strategies. The goal is to redistribute income upwardly, to re-concentrate wealth, property-ownership upward and externally and to subscribe to imperial doctrine. These pluto-populist regimes are run by rulers, who openly speak to and for very powerful domestic and overseas investors and are generous in their distribution of subsidies and state resources – a kind of ‘populism for the plutocrats’.

The rise and consolidation of extremist right regimes in Argentina and Brazil are based on several decisive interventions, combining elections and violence, purges and co-optation, mass media propaganda and deep corruption.

Mauricio Macri was backed by the major media, led by the Clarin conglomerate, as well as by the international financial press (Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, etc.). Wall Street speculators and Washington’s overseas political apparatus subsidized his electoral campaign.

Macri, his family, cronies and financial accomplices, transferred public resources to private accounts. Provincial political bosses and their patronage operations joined forces with the wealthy financial sectors of Buenos Aires to secure votes in the Capital.

Upon his election, the Mauricio Macri regime transferred five billion dollars to the notorious Wall Street speculator, Paul Singer, signed off on multi-billion dollar, high interest loans, increased utility fees six fold, privatized oil, gas and public lands and fired tens of thousands of public sector employees.

Macri organized a political purge and arrest of opposition political leaders, including former President Cristina Fernandez Kirchner. Several provincial activists were jailed or even assassinated.

Macri is a success story from the perspective of Wall Street, Washington and the Porteño business elite. Wages and salaries have declined for Argentine workers. Utility companies secured their highest profits ever. Bankers doubled interest rate returns. Importers became millionaires. Agro-business incomes skyrocketed as their taxes were reduced.

From the perspective of Argentina’s small and medium business enterprises President Macri’s regime has been a disaster: Many thousands have gone bankrupt because of high utility costs and harsh competition from cheap Chinese imports. In addition to the drop in wages and salaries, unemployment and under employment doubled and the rate of extreme poverty tripled

The economy, as a whole, floundered. Debt financing failed to promote growth, productivity, innovation and exports. Foreign investment experienced easy entry, big profits and fast departure. The promise of prosperity was narrowly based around a quarter of the population. To weaken the expected public discontent – the regime shut down independent media voices, unleashed thugs against critics and co-opted pliable gangster trade union bosses to break strikes.

Public protests and strikes multiplied but were ignored and repressed. Popular leaders and activists are stigmatized by the Macri-financed media hacks.

Barring a major social upheaval or economic collapse, Macri will exploit the fragmentation of the opposition to secure re-election as a model gangster for Wall Street. Macri is prepared to sign off on US military bases, EU free trade agreements, and greater police liaison with Israel’s sinister secret police, Mossad.

Brazil has followed Macri’s far right policies.

Seizing power through a phony impeachment operation, the mega-swindler Michel Temer immediately proceeded to dismantle the entire public sector, freeze salaries for twenty years, and extend retirement age for pensioners by five to ten years. Temer led over a thousand bribe-taking elected officials in the multi-billion dollar pillage of the state oil company and every major public infrastructure project.

Coup, corruption and contempt were hidden by a system granting Congressional impunity until independent prosecutors investigated, charged and jailed several dozen politicians, but not Temer. Despite 95% public disapproval, President Temer remains in power with the total backing of Wall Street, the Pentagon and Sao Paolo bankers.

Mexico, the long-standing narco-assassin state, continues to elect one thieving PRI-PAN political regime after another. Billions in illicit profits flows to the overseas tax havens of money laundering bankers, US and Canadian mine owners. Mexican and international manufacturers extracted double digit profits sent, to overseas accounts and tax havens. Mexico broke its own miserable record in elite tax avoidance, while extending low wage-tax ‘free trade zones’. Millions of Mexicans have fled across the border to escape predatory gangster capitalism. The flow of hundreds of millions of dollars of profits by US and Canadian multi-nationals was a result of the ‘unequal exchange’ between US capital and Mexican labor, held in place by Mexico’s fraudulent electoral system.

In at least two well-known presidential elections in 1988 and 2006, left of center candidates, Cuahtemoc Cardenas and Manuel Lopez Obrador, won with healthy margins of victory, only to have their victories stolen by fraudulent vote counts.

Peru’s rightist mining regimes, alternated between the overtly bloody Fujimori dictatorship and corrupt electoral regimes. What is consistent in Peruvian politics is the handover of mineral resources to foreign capital, pervasive corruption and the brutal exploitation of natural resources by US and Canadian mining and drilling corporations in regions inhabited by Indian communities.

The extreme right ousted elected left-of-center governments, including President Fernando Lugo in Paraguay (2008-2012) and Manuel Zelaya in Honduras (2006-2009), with the active support and approval of the US State Department. Narco-presidents now wield power by means of repression, including violence against popular movements and the killing of scores of peasant and urban activists. This year, a grossly rigged election in Honduras ensured the continuity of narco-regimes and US military bases.

The spread of the extreme right from Central America and Mexico to the Southern Cone provides the groundwork for the re-assertion of US centered military alliances and regional trade pacts.

The rise of the extreme right ensures the most lucrative privatizations and the highest rates of return on overseas bank loans. The far right is quick to crack down on popular dissent and electoral challenges with violence. At most the far right allows a few rotating elites with nationalist pretensions to provide a façade of electoral democracy.

The Shift from the Center-Left to the Center-Right

The political swings to the far right have had profound ripple effects – as nominal center-left regimes have swung to the center-right.

Two regimes have moved decisively from the center-left to the center-right: Uruguay under Tabare Vazquez of the ‘Broad Front’ and Ecuador with the recent election of Lenin Moreno of PAIS Alliance. In both cases the groundwork was established via accommodations with oligarchs of the traditional right parties. The previous center-left regimes of Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa and Uruguayan President Jose Mujica succeeded in pushing for public investments and social reforms. They combined their leftist rhetoric while capitalizing on the global high prices and high demand for agro-mineral exports to finance their reforms. With the decline in world prices and the public exposure of corruption, the newly elected center-left parties nominated and elected center –right candidates who turned anti-corruption campaigns into vehicles for embracing neoliberal economic policies. The center-right presidents rejected economic nationalism, encouraged large scale foreign investment and implemented fiscal austerity programs appealing to the upper middle class and ruling class.

The center-right regimes marginalized the leftist sectors of their parties. In the case of Ecuador, they split the party, with the newly elected president realigning international policies away from the left (Bolivia, Venezuela) and toward the US and the far right– while shedding the legacy of their predecessor in terms of popular social programs.

With the decline in export prices the center-right regimes offered generous subsidies to foreign investors in agriculture and forestry in Uruguay, and mine owners and exporters in Ecuador.

The newly converted center-right regimes joined with their established counterparts in Chile and joined the Trans Pacific Partnership with Asian nations, the EU and the US.

The center-right sought to manipulate the social rhetoric of the previous center-left regimes in order to retain popular voters while securing support from the business elite.

The Left Moves to the Center Left

Bolivia, under Evo Morales, has demonstrated an exceptional capacity for sustaining growth, securing re-election and neutralizing the opposition by combining a radical left foreign policy with a moderate, mixed public-private export economy. While Bolivia condemns US imperialism, major oil, gas, metals and lithium multi-nationals have invested heavily in Bolivia. Evo Morales has moderated his ideological posture shifting from revolutionary socialism to a local version of liberal democratic cultural politics.

Evo Morales’ embrace of a mixed economy has neutralized any overt hostility from the US and the new far-right regimes in the region

Though remaining politically independent, Bolivia has integrated its exports with the far right neoliberal regimes in the region. President Evo Morales’s moderate economic policies, diversity of mineral exports, fiscal responsibility, incremental social reforms, and support from well-organized social movements has led to political stability and social continuity despite the volatility of commodity prices.

Venezuela’s left regimes under President Hugo Chavez and Maduro have followed a divergent course with harsh consequences. Totally dependent on extraordinary global oil prices, Venezuela proceeded to finance generous welfare programs at home and abroad. Under President Chavez leadership, Venezuela adopted a consequential anti-imperialist policy successfully opposing a US centered free trade agreement (LAFTA) and launching an anti-imperialist alternative, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA).

Advancing social welfare and financing overseas allies without diversifying the economy and markets and increasing production was predicated on continuous high returns on a single volatile export – oil.

Unlike Bolivia under President Evo Morales, who built his power with the support of an organized, class conscious and disciplined mass base, Venezuela counted on an amorphous electoral alliance, which included slum dwellers, defectors from the corrupt traditional parties (across the spectrum) and opportunists intent on grabbing office and perks. Political education was reduced to mouthing slogans, cheering the President and distributing consumer goods.

Venezuelan technocrats and political loyalists occupied highly lucrative positions, especially in the petroleum sector and were not held to account by workers’ councils or competent state auditors. Corruption was rampant and billions of dollars of oil wealth was stolen. This pillage was tolerated because of the huge influx of petro-dollars due to historic high prices and high demand. This led to a bizarre situation where the regime spoke of socialism and funded massive social programs, while the major banks, food distributors, importers and transportation operators were controlled by hostile private oligarchs who pocketed enormous profits while manufacturing shortages and promoting inflation. Despite the problems, the Venezuelan voters gave the regime a series of electoral victories over the US proxies and oligarch politicians. This tended to create overconfidence in the regime that the Bolivarian socialist model was irrevocable.

The precipitous drop of oil prices, global demand, and export earnings led to the decline of imports and consumption. Unlike Bolivia, foreign reserves declined, the rampant theft of billions was belatedly uncovered and the US-backed rightwing opposition returned to violent ‘direct action’ and sabotage while hoarding essential food, consumer goods and medicine. Shortages led to widespread black marketeering. Public sector corruption and hostile opposition control of the private banking, retail and industrial sectors, backed by the US, paralyzed the economy. The economy has been in a free-fall and electoral support has eroded. Despite the regime’s severe problems, the majority of low income voters correctly understood that their chances of surviving under the US-backed oligarchic opposition would be worse and the embattled left continued to win gubernatorial and municipal elections up through 2017.

Venezuela’s economic vulnerability and negative growth rate led to increased indebtedness. The opposition of the extreme right regimes in Latin America and Washington’s economic sanctions has intensified food shortages and increased unemployment.

In contrast, Bolivia effectively defeated US-elite coup plots between 2008-10. The Santa Cruz-based oligarchs faced the clear choice of either sharing profits and social stability by signing off on social pacts (workers/peasants, capital and state) with the Morales government or facing an alliance of the government and the militant labor movement prepared to expropriate their holdings. The elites chose economic collaboration while pursuing low intensity electoral opposition.

Conclusion

Left opposition is in retreat from state power. Opposition to the extreme right is likely to grow, given the harsh, uncompromising assault on income, pensions, the rise in the cost of living, severe reductions in social programs and attacks on private and public sector employment. The extreme right has several options, none of which offer any concessions to the left. They have chosen to heighten police state measures (the Macri solution); they attempt to fragment the opposition by negotiating with the opportunist trade union and political party bosses; and they reshuffle degraded rulers with new faces to continue policies (the Brazilian solution).

The formerly revolutionary left parties, movements and leaders have evolved toward electoral politics, protests and job action. So far they do not represent an effective political option at the national level

The center-left, especially in Brazil and Ecuador, is in a strong position with dynamic political leaders (Lula DaSilva and Correa) but face trumped up charges by right-wing prosecutors who intend to exclude them from running for office. Unless the center-left reformers engage in prolonged large-scale mass activity, the far right will effectively undermine their political recovery.

The US imperial state has temporarily regained proxy regimes, military allies and economic resources and markets. China and the European Union profit from optimal economic conditions offered by the far right regimes. The US military program has effectively neutralized the radical opposition in Colombia, and the Trump regime has intensified and imposed new sanctions on Venezuela and Cuba.

The Trump regime’s ‘triumphalist’ celebration is premature – no decisive strategic victory has taken place, despite important short term advances in Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. However large outflows of profits, major transfers of ownership to foreign investors, favorable tax rates, low tariff and trade policies have yet to generate new productive facilities, sustainable growth and to ensure economic fundamentals. Maximizing profits and ignoring investments in productivity and innovation to promote domestic markets and demand has bankrupted tens of thousands of medium and small local commercial and manufacturing firms. This has led to rising chronic unemployment and underemployment. Marginalization and social polarization without political leadership is growing. Such conditions led to ‘spontaneous’ uprisings in Argentina 2001, Ecuador 2000 and Bolivia 2005.

The far right in power may not evoke a rebellion of the far left but its policies can certainly undermine the stability and continuity of the current regimes. At a minimum, it can lead to some version of the center left and restoration of the welfare and employment regimes now in tatters.

In the meantime the far right will press ahead with their perverse agenda combining deep reversals of social welfare, the degradation of national sovereignty and economic stagnation with a formidable profit maximizing performance.

James Petras’s most recent book: 
THE END OF THE REPUBLIC AND THE DELUSION OF EMPIRE

December 20, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Remembering Brazil’s Leftist President João Goulart on Anniversary of His Death

João Vicente Goulart holds a portrait of himself, his father, João Goulart, and his sister, Denize. | Photo: João Vicente Goulart
By Edu Montesanti | teleSUR | December 6, 2017

“Jango was my best friend, a great partner, and the best father to my children. It is still hard to forget,” Jango’s widow, Maria Theresa Goulart told teleSUR.

On Dec. 6, 1976, former Brazilian President João Goulart, popularly known as “Jango,” passed away at 57 years old in his exile with family in Mercedes, Argentina. Officially, he died of a cardiac attack, but evidence points to poisoning.

“There are still some available tissue samples at the Federal Police Criminal Institute of Brazil for a new investigation, as new evidence is expected if we can have more documents declassified and testimonies that would bring new information,” João Vicente Goulart, Jango’s son told teleSUR.

“In the first results analyzed, a substance appeared in tiny amounts which should not be in a human body, called pentaerythritol tetranitrate or erythrin tetranitrate, also known as pentrite,” said Goulart. “It is a chemical with characteristics and end of explosives that, at the time, was only controlled as an exclusive weapon used by the American army,” added Jango’s son, pointing out that secret agents used to infiltrate the family’s house in exile.

“It has been proven that spies removed my father’s documents, they could have easily changed his heart medicine for a poison.”

Jango speaks to a large crowd accompanied by his wife, Maria Theresa Goulart. Photo: João Vicente Goulart

Jango’s body did not undergo an autopsy at the time of his death. His body was buried in São Borja, Brazil, after the assurance that the coffin would not be opened. According to Goulart, “There was severe military repression at my father’s funeral.” There were military officials everywhere, monitoring Jango’s coffin so it could not be opened. In 2006, Mario Neira, a former Uruguayan secret agent, told Goulart that his father had been poisoned.

Overthrown from the Brazilian presidency by a military coup d’état on April 1, 1964, the democratically-elected João Goulart, with more than 70 percent of an approval rating, was exiled three days later with family to Uruguay. In 1973, President Juan Domingo Peron welcomed him. The Goularts were constantly threatened in exile, so the son, João Vicente and Denize, the Goularts’ daughter, left to study in London. Some friends warned former president Jango several times, that he could be killed.

On March 13, 1964, 18 days before the coup, President João Goulart gave a speech to more than 200,000 people in Central do Brasil square in Rio de Janeiro, with his wife Maria Theresa Goulart beside him, for the first time since assuming the presidency. He promised an agrarian reform, reducing remittances of profits overseas, extending democratic rights, along with other very popular reforms.

“Goulart committed the crime of reforming the economy. That was more than (U.S. President) Lyndon Johnson could tolerate and he opted to destabilize the economy and assist a right-wing military takeover,” said the U.S. historian Peter Kuznick to teleSUR.

“The 1964 coup that toppled Goulart’s government was extremely significant,” added Kuznick. “Oliver Stone and I began our documentary about the invasion of Vietnam with a discussion of that coup. We then talk about the Dominican Republic, Greece, Indonesia, and Chile to show that the Vietnam War was part of a pattern.

“A National Intelligence Estimate in the summer of 1963 had warned that Goulart might be establishing ‘an extreme leftist regime, with a strongly anti-U.S. character.’ Johnson’s appointment in December of Thomas Mann as assistant secretary of state to coordinate Latin American affairs was another nail in the Goulart government’s coffin.

“When Goulart responded the next year to U.S. demands to impose austerity on the Brazilian people by instead offering land reform and control of foreign capital and by recognizing Cuba, the U.S. moved quickly to destabilize the economy. Goulart seized U.S. properties.

“Ambassador Lincoln Gordon and U.S. embassy officials urged right-wing Brazilian officers to overthrow Goulart. The U.S. backed Army Chief of Staff General Humberto Castelo Branco. The CIA assisted behind the scenes,” observed Kuznick, who is the director of the Institute of Nuclear Studies at the American University.

The Brazilian historian Victor Schincariol told teleSUR that in order to preserve national peace and people’s security, President Jango didn’t call for a military intervention to protect him. “Goulart was genuinely committed to democracy and social peace. He said that he could not tolerate the death of Brazilians in a virtual civil war.

“At the same time, he knew that the U.S. would support the right-wing forces, which would make the case for the defense of democracy very hard indeed to win,” added the Brazilian researcher at the University of ABC in São Paulo.

On Dec. 18, in the presence of the heads of the military and President Dilma Rousseff, the Brazilian Congress symbolically returned President João Goulart’s mandate, as the OAS exhorted Brazil in 2010 for the crimes against humanity never punished, committed by the military dictatorship that killed 475 people, left 144 “disappeared,” and tortured more than 30,000 people.

There is an Amnesty Act in Brazil, elaborated and passed in 1979 by Brazilian military officials themselves — never addressed in the country by politicians, mainstream media and local elites — that acquits the dictators of the crimes committed between 1964 and 1985.

“Goulart’s and Varga’s legacy was erased, physically and ideologically, by the military dictatorship between 1964-1985. The economy was “globalized;” the case for an industrialization with national capitals, social justice and national independence was substituted by dependence, fascist policies and censorship; the democratic and left-wing forces were imprisoned, killed or left the nation,” said Professor Doctor Schincariol.

“The most important legacy Jango left to Brazil was his tireless fight for workers’ right and social justice,” Jango’s widow, Maria Theresa Goulart told teleSUR. “And for us, his family, his generosity and partnership.”

December 6, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

‘We need negotiations, not declarations’: Russia stays away from Trump’s UN reform plan

RT | September 18, 2017

As US President Donald Trump officially launched his 10-point reform program for the United Nations, Russian officials say they share many of the concerns it raises, but not the methods Washington is using to advance its solutions.

On Monday morning in New York, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Trump delivered speeches in support of the reform declaration, which has been endorsed by 128 states.

According to the published text of the plan, it would give Guterres greater executive powers “encouraging him to lead organizational reform,” which would “provide greater transparency and predictability” and “promote gender parity and geographic diversity,” while combating “mandate duplication, redundancy, and overlap” and other forms of inefficiency at the international body.

“In recent years, the United Nations has not reached its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement. While the United Nations on a regular budget has increased by 140 percent, and its staff has more than doubled since 2000, we are not seeing the results in line with this investment,” said Trump, who previously emphasized that the US is the biggest contributor to United Nations funds.

“To serve the people we support and the people who support us, we must be nimble and effective, flexible and efficient,” declared Guterres, the former Prime Minister of Portugal, who assumed his current post this year.

Countries that were hesitant or unwilling to sign the document – which include Russia, China, Brazil and South Africa – were not invited to the launch.

“There was no consultation either prior or following the publication of the declaration,” said Vassily Nebenzia, Russia’s envoy to the UN, in an interview with TASS news agency, published Monday. “We are all for increasing the role of the UN on the international arena, and raising its efficiency. The organization needs reform, even if not a fundamental overhaul. But the reform itself should not come through a declaration, but through inter-governmental negotiations between members.”

State-owned daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta cited officials in the Russian delegation in New York, who criticized the US for hijacking the ongoing UN General Assembly for its own purposes, noting that the declaration “had nothing to do with the United Nations” and that Washington “has developed a bad habit of using the UN building during General Assemblies to push its own foreign policy agenda.”

Some were altogether suspicious of Trump’s motives, considering his previously dismissive attitude to the UN.

“Trump’s reform is a landmark move towards a unipolar world, and the reduction of the role of the UN in the international architecture that is forming in the 21st century. We are not ready to support or participate in this process,” Leonid Slutsky, the Chairman of the Committee on International Affairs in the Russian parliament, told RIA news agency.

“The US should start not with behind-the-scenes coalition-forming,” wrote Konstantin Kosachev, who heads in the Foreign Affairs Committee in the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, the Federation Council, on his Facebook page. “Instead, it should begin by acknowledging its mistakes, when it bypassed the UN in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya and Syria.”

September 18, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Fall Offensive: the US, France and Brazil

By James Petras | The People’s Voice | September 13, 2017

The fall of 2017 will witness the most brutal assault on working and middle class living standards since the end of World War II. Three presidents and their congressional allies will ‘revise’ labor legislation, progressive income tax laws and regulations and effectively end the mixed economy in France, the US and Brazil.

Throughout the summer, public opinion has been diverted by US threats to launch new overseas wars, France’s rhetoric about forming a post-Brexit, Berlin-Paris pact, which will remake the European Union, and Brazil’s President Michel Temer’s corruption and crime scandals. These superficial controversies will be overwhelmed by fundamental class conflicts, which promise to alter the present and future structural relations within Western capitalism.

President Trump’s Fall Offensive: Profits, Wars and Epidemics

President Trump proposes to enrich capitalists and intensify class inequalities via his radical transformation of the tax system. Corporate taxes will be cut in half; overseas corporate taxes will be abolished; and wage and salaried workers will pay more for fewer social benefits.

Trump can count on the support of the Republican leadership, business and banking elite and sectors of the Democratic Party in his plans to roll out a massive tax giveaway for the billionaires.

Trump’s cabinet, led by the Goldman Sachs trio and his troika of generals will ensure that the budget will include slashing the funds for education and health in order to increase military spending, expand wars and cut taxes for the rich.

Even more aggressive threats against North Korea, Russia, Iran, Venezuela and China, greater overseas war spending and troop levels in Afghanistan and the overt militarization of policing, immigration control and domestic intelligence will result in drastic cutbacks on federal programs for the poor and working classes. Declining access to quality health care for workers and deterioration in workplace safety conditions will fuel the opioid addiction epidemic leading to hundreds of thousands more premature worker deaths by overdose, injury and inadequate, incompetent care.

President Emmanuel Macron: The Capitalist Offensive in France

In France, the workers and middle class face the most comprehensive attack on their employment rights and progressive social legislation in modern history.

President Emmanuel Macron has declared his goal of completely transferring socio-economic power from French workers to capital by gutting all pro-labor laws and protections. Employees will have to negotiate with their bosses, one plant and one office at a time, thereby undermining the collective bargaining power of a united working class. Employers will be free to hire and fire workers with virtually no restrictions or consequences. Temporary and short-term ‘garbage’ contracts will proliferate, destroying long-term worker stability. Macron will eliminate the jobs of over 100,000 public employees while slashing corporate taxes by over $50 billion euros.

In contrast to massive tax cuts for the bourgeoisie, Macron proposes to increase taxes on French pensioners, hitting millions of retirees. Once in place, Macron’s legislative agenda will concentrate power, profits and wealth of capital while increasing inequalities and class polarization. Responding to the economic interests of the bankers, Macron promises to lower the deficit to 3% of GDP through massive cuts in health and education.

Under the pretext of ‘reducing unemployment’, Macron will promote part-time and temporary employment for French youth and immigrant workers, stripping all French workers of their hard-fought gains in job security and labor rights. Macron justifies his assault on labor by dismissing workers as ‘lazy’.

Brazil: The Great Fire Sale

Michel Temer, Brazil’s ‘unelected’ President plans to privatize 57 public enterprises – the crown jewels of Brazil’s economy. This will amount to the biggest capitalist asset grab in two centuries!

Included in the sell-off are: oil fields, energy transmission lines, highways, airports, as well as Brazil’s mint and lottery. Electrobas, Latin America’s biggest electricity generator, is up for grabs. In addition, Temer plans to raise interest rates charged by the state-owned development bank BNDES to increase the private bankers’ share of lending and profits.

This naked grab of profitable state enterprises by private domestic and foreign investors will lead to the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs and the lowering of wages, salaries and pension payments. Temer started to slash state pension liabilities by increasing the age of retirement by several years. Wages and social benefits have been frozen for the foreseeable future. Presidential decrees, which dictate the terms of labor contracts, threaten collective bargaining.

The Capitalist Offensive: Results and Perspectives

These presidents have declared their intention to launch full-scale ‘class war from above’ – the consequences of which remain to be seen. The presidents, who rule by fiat, are treading fragile terrain. Each is facing major political, economic and social challenges.

All three presidents have lost public support since taking power, especially among their lower middle and working class-class voters.

Macron’s approval dropped from 65% to 40%; Trump from 49% to 35%; and Temer (who was not elected) barely retains 5% (and falling) public approval.

Brazil: Facing the Abyss

Despite uncertainties over the regime’s stability and future, foreign investors and the financial press supports Temer.

President Temer’s isolation from Brazil’s voting public has weakened his power in the Congress, and among the domestic banking elite and oil and power corporations. However, if the trade unions call for widespread militant strikes by manufacturing workers, public employees and the landless rural workers’ movement (MST) is effective and paralyzes the economy, Temer may be forced to resign before his program is implemented. Meanwhile, President Temer faces numerous judicial investigations for corruption.

Strategically, Temer can count on international support, especially from the US State Department, Treasury, Pentagon and the European Union. The neo-liberal regimes in Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, Colombia and Mexico have voiced strong support for Temer, especially since they have also received bribes from the same Brazilian corporate oligarchs! Under Temer, the Brazilian economy has declined by over 5% since he took power in a ‘legislative coup d’état’. His budget deficit exceeds 9% and unemployment has doubled to over 11%.

Despite support from foreign and domestic elite, Temer’s presidency will not survive. Under mass pressure and with looming elections, Brazil’s Congress may decide to allow the courts to prosecute Temer and block his proposed sellout of public assets.

Credit rating agencies are going to downgrade the Brazil’s economy to ‘junk’ status, undercutting new investments. With new elections on the horizon in 2018, it is clear that Temer will not even run for the presidency and his proposals to privatize Brazil’s major firms may not succeed. The economic recession has sharply reduced tax revenues and the possibility of receiving any significant boost from privatization is dubious. Even Temer’s initial regressive measure – the slashing of public pensions- has bogged down in bureaucratic infighting. However, the opposition to Temer’s capitalist offensive has yet to strike a decisive, organized blow.

The Congressional opposition, led by the center-left Workers Party (PT), is a distinct minority with many of its leaders facing their own corruption trials. The PT is incapable of blocking, let alone ousting, Temer. The rightwing opposition in Congress is divided between those who back Temer – based on party patronage – and those who want to replace Temer while pushing for his anti-labor agenda. The trade unions, led by the CUT, have mounted sporadic protests and made rhetorical gestures, while the MST (the landless rural workers) and associated ecological and homeless movements, which lack militant mass urban support, would be unable to topple Temer.

Ex-President Lula Da Silva has regained some degree of mass voter support but faces corruption charges, which may ban him from political office – unless there is a major mass mobilization.

In sum, the rightwing, pro-capitalist offensive in Brazil is comprehensive — offering public assets and private profits– but weak in institutional support and economic fundamentals.

A big-push from the Left could undermine the political base for Temer’s economic team, however, it is not clear which party or leaders would replace him.

France: Bonaparte in the Palace, Workers on the Streets

When President Emmanuel Macron was elected President of the Fifth Republic, he carried a mass electoral base as well as the support of France’s leading business and banking organizations. However, in the run-up to the launching of his capitalist offensive the mass base has evaporated. Voter disapproval is rising rapidly. The militant wing of the trade unions (CGT) prepares to launch general strike. His regressive tax agenda has alienated wide sectors of the petit bourgeois, especially public-sector employees.

Macron’s concentration of executive power (his Bonapartist complex) has turned his allies on the right against him.

The outcome of Macron’s offensive is both likely and uncertain.

For one thing Macron enjoys a majority in the French Congress. The economy is growing and investors are exuberant. Tax-conscious small business groups are happy. Labor is divided with the class collaborationist CFDT and FO refusing to join with the trade union opposition.

The European Union is united, up to a point, in its support for Macron. Equally important, Macron is determined to crush street protests and sporadic, partial strikes with demagogic appeals through the corporate mass media, coercion and outright state repression.

The political party opposition, led by the left socialists and the nationalists, is divided. The Socialist Party barely exists. Pensioners and students are opposed to Macron, but have not taken to the streets. Few among the professional class and liberal academia retain any illusions about the ‘new centrist President’ but few are willing to actively confront the ‘the new Bonaparte’.

Macron has fashioned a formidable alliance between the state apparatus and the business ruling class to crush worker opposition. But popular opposition is growing and is furious at his agenda and insults: ‘They (French workers) have had it too good…’ To defeat Macron, they must unite the opposition and build a strategy of prolonged class warfare.

Macron will not give in to transitory strikes. If Macron’s capitalist offensive succeeds, it will have enormous implications for the French working class, especially the rights of workers and salaried employees to organize and struggle. A victory for Macron will profoundly undermine the structure and membership of popular organizations, now and in the future. Moreover, a defeat for French workers will reverberate throughout the EU and beyond. Conversely, a victory for labor could trigger mass struggles across Europe.

The United States

A powerful opposition could confront President Trump’s capitalist offensive, but it will not be led by the highly bureaucratized trade unions representing less than 8% of the private sector labor force. Trump’s enemies among the Democratic and Republican Party elite have dismissed Trump’s ‘working class’ supporters as ‘white supremacist and neo-Nazis’. American workers’ concerns have been trivialized and marginalized by the divisive politics of ‘identity’, so blatantly used by both parties. Trump’s capitalist offensive in favor of a regressive pro-corporate tax cuts and the gutting of social welfare (health, education, housing, environment and worker safety) has failed to provoke sustained, unified social opposition. In the US, the pro-business elites dominate and dictate the agendas of both the incumbent Trump regime and the ‘elite opposition forces’.

The official ‘anti-Trump opposition’, which terms itself a ‘resistance’, promotes ‘identity’ interests linked to elite political representation. It works hard to undermine any possibility of working class unity based on common socio-economic interests by focusing on marginal and divisive issues. In the midst of mass poverty, declining life expectancy and an epidemic of suicide and drug overdose deaths, the ‘resistance’ forces of the elite opposition concentrate on manufactured foreign (‘Russia-gate’) conspiracies and life style issues (trans-genders in the US Special Forces) to overthrow the Trump regime. They have no intention to forge any class alliances that might threaten Trump’s regressive capitalist agenda.

The struggle this fall in the US will not be between labor and capital: It will spotlight the contradiction between what remains of Trump’s business protectionist agenda and the Democrats’ neo-liberal free trade policies. The capitalist offensive against labor in the USA was already determined by default. US trade union officials are marginal and inconsequential actors, incapable and unwilling to politicize, educate and mobilize workers.

Trump’s capitalist offensive appeals to investors and boosts the stock market. The majority of his economic team is tied to Wall Street bankers against so-called economic nationalists. Trump’s mindless chauvinist rhetoric to the populace is openly dismissed by the plutocrats within his own cabinet, who complain they have been targeted by ‘fascists and anti-Semites’ (meaning Trump’s deplorable and angry voter base).

The United States is the only country in the industrial world launching a massive, sustained capitalist offensive without an anti-capitalist opposition. The American working class is openly ‘deplored’ by the major elements of the elite opposition and blatantly manipulated by its fake ‘champion’, Trump.

The consequences are pre-determined. The capitalist offensive cannot lose; both capitalist sides ‘win’. Under the Businessman-President Trump, multi-national corporations will secure lower taxes and degrade working class living standards and social benefits. Bi-partisan agreements will ensure that banks are completely deregulated. The elite anti-Trump opposition will ensure that ‘their’ capitalists get favorable neo-liberal trade agreements, guaranteeing their access to cheap immigrant labor and a non-unionized workforce denied workplace safety and environmental regulations.

While France and Brazil face real class war, the ‘classless’ US slouches toward nuclear war. Macron confronts militant trade unions, Temer faces the fury of broad social alliances, and Donald Trump marches after ‘his Generals’ to nuclear conflagration. He invades Russian diplomatic properties; points nuclear weapons at Moscow and Beijing; holds massive offensive exercises and stations THAAD missiles on the border of North Korea; and escalates US air and ground force operations in a 16-year losing war in Afghanistan.

Workers in Europe and Latin America choose to fight capitalists in defense of their class interests, while US workers have become passive spectators to the looming possibility of nuclear war, when they are not in a prescription-induced opioid stupor. Defeating the capitalist offensive in France and Brazil can advance the cause of social justice and ensure concrete benefits for workers and masses of people; Trump’s unopposed capitalist military offensive will send clouds of nuclear ashes across the world.

September 13, 2017 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment