Archive for September, 2012

A young activist explains why she supports Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution at a mass pro-Chavez rally: “I support the revolution because I’ve seen the people’s project and participation in social change materialized”

I’ve witnessed the self-assured superiority of Paris, the imperial arrogance of Washington, the capitalist decadence of New York’s Manhattan, parliamentary elections in Germany, and my fair share of elections in Britain. In none of them have I encountered a democratic political culture as profound as Venezuela’s.

In Venezuela it’s hard to avoid politics at the best of times, but during election campaigns signs of political struggle and debate become, quite literally, wall to wall. In the small Andean city of Merida, with a population of under 300,000, a walk across the city centre gives an idea of the intensity of the campaign being waged ahead of the 7 October presidential election. With socialist President Hugo Chavez seeking a third term in office against right-wing challenger Henrique Capriles Radonski for the Roundtable of Democratic Unity (MUD) coalition, supporters from both sides are out in force.

One strategy in Merida is campaign caravans, where supporters get into trucks, cars and jeeps and drive around the city waving flags, tooting horns and shouting slogans. Another is to gather with a group of activists at a key transit point with loudspeakers blasting music in favour that campaign’s candidate, slowing cars to hand leaflets to drivers or write messages on their back windscreens. A few days ago I saw an interesting competition between a group of young First Justice (PJ) supporters, the party of Capriles Radonski, and activists from the youth wing of the Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV), which supports Chavez. Both were trying to leaflet cars and sing their campaign songs the loudest, and without being too partisan about it, the PCV activists were clearly putting more enthusiasm into their campaigning, with the PJ supporters falling into silence and songs of a distinctly revolutionary nature drifting across the street. “It looks like the communists are winning,” said my partner to me smiling.

Then there are the campaign stalls; tables under small marquees where activists gather with leaflets and music to campaign to passers-by, encouraging a kind of street debating culture throughout the election. Without a doubt there are more “punto rojo” (red point) campaign stalls of Chavez’s party, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), than those of the opposition. In fact reports I’ve received from Caracas indicate that the opposition presence in the streets is even lower there than in Merida.  The punto rojos are ubiquitously located in almost every major square and highway in the city, and I’m already building up my own collection of leaflets just from walking past these stalls in the passing of the day. Add to all this the major campaign rallies, door to door visits by activists, saturated media coverage, massive billboards, and posters covering almost every available surface, which activists stick up every night when the streets are quiet. No, you can’t ignore the presidential election here. Nor are most Venezuelans trying to, in the awareness that, unlike in many other countries, their vote actually matters for the country’s future political direction.

A look at the two candidate’s campaign material highlights this choice. Chavez’s campaign leaflet is balanced between what he has achieved so far as president since his first election in 1998, his movement’s overall vision for Venezuela, and concrete proposals for the coming period. Quoted achievements include improving free healthcare and education systems, eliminating illiteracy, establishing a profit-free food distribution network, integration into a sovereign Latin America and laying the basis for a “participatory and protagonistic” democracy in Venezuela. The campaign’s five goals (each of which are broken down into concrete proposals) are consolidating national sovereignty, the continued construction of “Bolivarian socialism of the 21st century” in Venezuela, converting Venezuelan into a Latin American power, promoting a multipolar world order capable of guaranteeing world peace, and “preserving life on the planet and saving the human species”, the latter of which has been extensively mocked by Capriles and his campaign, who argues that Venezuela should only worry about itself.

Meanwhile Capriles’ campaign itself seems to have two manifestos. In the official one, Capriles has promoted himself as Chavez-light, promising to maintain popular social programs, while advocating the need for more “incentives for entrepreneurs” and criticising “major obstacles to the involvement of private companies” in the economy. Then there’s the real plan, leaked by dissident members of the opposition, which shows the neoliberal nature of the Venezuela opposition, proposing the deregulation of banks, opening up the economy to private investment and the reduction of state funding for public services and communal council projects. You can read a summary of both candidate’s government plans on Venezualanysis.com here. Nevertheless, from a democratic perspective, despite the opposition’s unwillingness to present its actual policies to the electorate during the campaign, in Venezuela citizens are presented with a real choice in this (and every) election, with the power to decide in which direction they want the country to go.

An election in a decaying liberal democracy

In the last major election I witnessed, the British general election in May 2010, the atmosphere was slightly different. In that election I was a parliamentary candidate, standing for a socialist alternative to cuts in public spending and other austerity measures, billed as a necessary response to the capitalist recession. Myself another other activists ran a campaign in the city of Aberdeen, Scotland, which incidentally is of a similar size to Merida in Venezuela. However the similarities end there.

That election was characterized by a sense of apathy, disenchantment, and powerlessness. Like many countries across Europe and North America, the election consisted in presenting the population with two variants of the same pre-designed policy to vote for: in this case further privatisation of public services, frozen wages, job losses, and reduced social benefits. No substantive issues were put on the table for debate. International financial institutions, banks, corporate media, and dominant political currents had already decided that ordinary people would pay for the economic crisis, which was caused by capitalism in general, and financial capital in particular. Whether people voted for the incumbent Labour party, or for the other dominant political forces, the Liberal Democrat or Conservative parties, they would be rubber-stamping what was basically the same policy. The notion of the people having a real say in decision-making, that is, of real democracy, took a back seat.

That election reflected an on-going decay in the liberal democratic system, and could be readily observed in the atmosphere of the election campaign. For example, during the entire campaign in Aberdeen, only once can I remember seeing Labour party activists, activists of the sitting government at the time which was trying to stay in power, physically out on the streets leafleting in the city centre. Aspects of grassroots campaigning such as door knocking and leafleting surely occurred during the election, but not much.  This was true of all major parties, with a lack of popular enthusiasm and mobilisation among the population evident. In publicity terms, the formal marks of an election were still there: posters were put up, billboards and mass leaflet deliveries paid for, and candidates moved around the country and had their statements reported in the press. It was an election moved by opinion polls, public relations campaigns, and sound-bite discourse.

Yet from my impression, the spirit of real democracy, of people being in control of the politics of their country and feeling that their voice and their vote mattered, was not present. Absent were groups of activists closing down main roads to mass-leaflet transit. Absent were campaign stalls in almost every major square and street, with activists passionately explaining why their candidate deserved support. Absent were massive rallies of tens and hundreds of thousands of people, who in with joy and anger shouted, demanded, and praised their candidates, because it really mattered who won. Absent was the notion that a major political force stood up for ordinary people’s interests versus those of the ruling elite, that there was something worth getting up off your sofa and fighting for. This was reflected in the turnout on voting day, which for an election that had the possibility of a change of government (which indeed happened) was low, at 65% of the electorate. A far cry from the 84% turnout for the landslide Labour victory of 1950, and well short of the 75% turnout in the 2006 Venezuelan presidential election, which never looked close, with Chavez winning by a country mile. Turnouts in other kinds of British elections are usually lower still.

The reality is that in Europe, North America and Australasia, to one extent or another, participation and substantive decision-making power in politics have been stolen from the people, to the degree which it was ever existed in the first place. In previous generations, voters at least had a real choice to make, between social-welfare capitalism and state intervention in the economy, or free-market neoliberal capitalism. Now, politics can be characterised, as campaigning journalist John Pilger once quoted, as “indistinguishable parties competing for the management of a single ideology state”. Communities, trade unions and social movement organisations are instead forced to take to the streets to defend previous social gains and rights, with little formal political representation willing to support them. Add to this political monoculture a nauseating pro-establishment nationalism, attacks on civil rights in the name of a “war on terror,” sporadic corruption scandals and ever-growing media concentration, and you can see the indicators for the on-going decay of democracy and participatory political culture in these countries.

Venezuela’s participatory democratic birth

Why, in turn, are there such high levels of enthusiasm and participation in Venezuelan politics? In the 1958 – 1998 period, Venezuela also had a two-party “democracy” in which those two parties shared power, while left wing activists were actively persecuted. This “Punto Fijo” system lost legitimacy in 1989 when then president Carlos Andrez Perez (CAP) implemented an IMF neoliberal austerity package, which among other measures, lifted subsidies on fuel. The response was protesting and rioting, which the CAP government put down by military force, with estimates of those killed running up to three thousand civilians. Fed up with the elitism, exclusion, and corruption of the Punto Fijo system, the people turned to Hugo Chavez and his Fifth Republic Movement, who broke open the delegitimised two-party system with his election as Venezuelan president in December 1998, beginning the Bolivarian revolution.

Chavez followed through on his campaign promise to re-found the country, with an elected constituent assembly writing the country’s new National Constitution in 1999, arguably one of the most progressive constitutions in the world. Passed by a popular referendum, it gave Venezuelans a broad range of new political, civil and social rights, and provided a framework for further democratic reform. Now Venezuelans can recall elected representatives from their posts, and directly submit laws for discussion in the National Assembly, among other rights. Meanwhile major elections or referenda have been held almost every year since Chavez’s election, with the Venezuelan people collectively making key political decisions, such as keeping Chavez in power in the 2004 recall referendum, the narrow defeat of the 2007 constitutional referendum, and the passing of the 2009 constitutional referendum, which allows elected officials to run for more than two consecutive terms in office, including Chavez.

A dynamic has developed where law-making has had to keep pace with an explosion in grassroots organisation. Many Venezuelans are now actively included and involved in political life, participating in social movements, political parties, communal councils, communes, community media outlets, trade unions and worker councils, and other forums. Meanwhile a large part of the poor and lower-middle classes, which form around 80% of the population, have felt represented by the Chavez government, and have passionately defended it. Along with promoting the political inclusion and empowerment of the poor, this is due to government policies such as taking control over Venezuela’s oil revenues and funnelling the money into social spending such as free healthcare, education, subsidised food networks, and housing construction. Economic privatisation has been rolled back, with the nationalisation of telecommunications, electricity, cement, some banking sectors, and more possible if Chavez wins on 7 October. These moves have been taken in the backdrop of an intransigent US-backed opposition which has both physically and electorally tried to remove Chavez, so far without luck.

Nothing’s perfect of course, and all these gains don’t mean there aren’t setbacks within Venezuela’s new democratic upsurge. When Chavez fell ill with cancer last year, renewed attention was drawn to the problem that the Bolivarian movement depends so much on one leader. Meanwhile, corruption and bureaucracy are phenomena which slow further radical democratisation and erode support for the Bolivarian revolution as a whole. I noticed the effects of this in the eastern Guayana region in Venezuela, where some ostensibly pro-Chavez figures were actively resisting the advance of the worker control project in the region, where workers are trying to take the control of factories into their own hands. Also, an opportunistic political culture still exists, where some politicians take advantage of their position for self-promotion. This can be seen in Merida, where both the pro-Chavez state governor and the pro-opposition city mayor have employees’ uniforms and official material with their faces and names, promoting themselves above the institution they are elected to run. That means if someone wants to work in municipal rubbish collection or tending public squares, they must wear a uniform that promotes a certain politician. This is a practice which many people in Chavez’s movement are against, and debate and action on all these issues form part of the dynamic within the struggle to deepen Venezuela’s new participatory democracy.

Differing views of Venezuela’s democracy, from corporate media jargon to reality

However, great advances have been made in political empowerment and participation in Venezuela since 1998, and the vitality of Venezuela’s democracy stands in sharp contrast to the West. I got a reminder of this just last week, when Chavez came to Merida for an election rally. The response from the people was incredible, with campesinos (rural labourers), workers, students, and many others steaming into the city from the surrounding region to support the re-election of their president. The joy and enthusiasm of the tens of thousands of demonstrators was palpable, with handmade banners, artistic expression, air horns, music, hugs, shoulders pats, and declarations of support for Chavez being the order of the day. Big Venezuelan rallies like this are a mixture of music gigs, street parties, and political demonstrations. It’s also fair to say of opposition supporters, that while their stance may be based on reactionary values, or on the confused notion that “justice” or “progress” is something to be delivered by a neoliberal candidate from the Venezuelan elite, they too are passionate, most of all in their opposition to Chavez. In Venezuelan politics, people feel that they actually have a cause worth supporting, and millions are motivated to get on their feet to do so.

Talking to people at the Merida rally, I was impressed by the depth of political consciousness and variety of opinions among the crowd as to why they supported Chavez’s re-election. For some, Latin American integration was the reason, for others, free healthcare. For many, their main reason for supporting Chavez, as one middle-aged couple put it to me, was that “he’s the president who has most given power to the people” while another man told me, “he’s the president who has awoken the people of Venezuela and fellow peoples”. Another young women told me her reason was quite simply “I love him”.

For a journalist with a corporate news service such as Reuters, sitting on a fat salary in a plush Caracas apartment on tap to the opposition (one imagines), this is evidence of the “romantic and affectionate view of Chavez” who is cynically playing “the populist card” to win another term in office. Or to an Associated Press journalist who’s never tasted poverty in their life, social programs, often referred to as “oil-fuelled spending largesse” in anti-Chavez corporate press jargon, can be dismissed as Chavez “spending heavily on social programs…this year seeking to shore up support,” i.e. cynically buying votes. Never mind the historical record, which shows a long-term commitment of behalf of the Chavez government to social spending, with poverty more than halved among numerous other social achievements. This commitment includes maintaining social spending during the 2009-10 recession in Venezuela, when no presidential election was in sight, in order to offset the negative effects of the global economic crisis on the Venezuelan people, a move apparently beyond the means of many “first world” nations.

Indeed, the young women who told me that “love” was the reason she voted for Chavez wasn’t being tricked by some populist image or last minute spending burst. She came from a poor family which used to live in a shanty house near where the Merida rally took place. Now she is about to graduate as a doctor in the government’s integral community medicine program, and would have been excluded from the Venezuela’s traditionally elite medical system. Her shanty house had also been transformed into a dignified home through the community driven “homes for shanties” program, part of the government’s mass housing construction mission. It’s transformations like these that have earned Chavez such strong support, as much as it pains the international media to say so. Indeed, according to corporate media sources, gaining the support of the popular majority through directing government policy toward their needs seems to be a bad thing for “democracy”, with former Council of Foreign Relations analysis Joe Hirst recently arguing that Venezuela needs to take lessons on democracy from the US. What rubbish. At least former US President Jimmy Carter has added a dose of reality to what has been atrociously misleading reporting by most mainstream media outlets on Venezuela’s election, stating that in his opinion Venezuela’s electoral system is the best in the world.

A democratic rebirth in the West?

While the world’s corporate media have trapped themselves in an Orwellian illusion whereby the US and Britain are models of democracy and Venezuela is a troubled country run by a “regime”, in the real world the reality is otherwise. Democracy in the US and Europe is in trouble, with the majority of the population being shut out of any real choice over public decision-making, and a political monoculture running whole countries in the interests of a small elite. For a long time the reaction to this has been apathy or de-politicisation, however in many countries there has been significant resistance to capitalist austerity, with new movements being born and old ones rejuvenated. It remains to be seen whether disenchantment with this decay will be converted into a movement capable of social and political transformation. Perhaps we will see a parallel with Venezuela’s example, where an outside movement manages to break elites’ monopoly on power and generate a revolutionary democratic rebirth. In this task, there’s a lot to be learned from both the achievements and contradictions of the Venezuelan experience, which in many ways is one of the most profound democracies in the world today.


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ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Europe’s fragile financial calm was shattered Wednesday as investors worried that violent anti-austerity protests in Greece and Spain’s debt troubles showed that the continent still cannot contain its financial crisis.

Police fired tear gas Wednesday at rioters hurling gasoline bombs and chunks of marble during Greece’s largest anti-austerity demonstration in six months. The protests were part of a 24-hour general strike, the latest test for Greece’s nearly four-month-old coalition government and the new spending cuts it plans to push through.

The brief but intense clashes by several hundred rioters among the 60,000 people protesting in Athens came a day after anti-austerity protests rocked the Spanish capital.

In Madrid, thousands of angry protesters again swarmed as close as they could get Wednesday night to Parliament, watched by a heavy contingent of riot police. There was no fresh violence, but the demonstrators cut off traffic on one of the city’s major thoroughfares at the height of the evening commute.

The protesters chanted for the release of 34 people detained Tuesday night in clashes that injured 64 others. They also demanded new elections to oust Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his conservative government, which has imposed cutbacks and tax hikes, deepening the gloom in a country struggling with recession and unemployment of nearly 25 percent, the highest among the 17 nations using the common euro currency.

Spain’s central bank warned Wednesday the country’s economy continues to shrink “significantly,” sending the Spanish stock index tumbling and its borrowing costs rising.

Across Europe, stock markets fell as well. Germany’s DAX dropped 2 percent while the CAC-40 in France fell 2.4 percent and Britain’s FTSE 100 slid 1.4 percent. The euro was also hit, down a further 0.3 percent at $1.2840.

The turmoil Wednesday ended weeks of relative calm and optimism among investors that Europe and eurozone might have turned a corner. Markets have been breathing easier since the European Central Bank said earlier this month it would buy unlimited amounts of government bonds to help countries with their debts.

The move by the ECB helped lower borrowing costs for indebted governments from levels that only two months ago threatened to bankrupt Spain and Italy. Stocks also rose. Media speculation about the timing and cost of a eurozone breakup or a departure by troubled Greece faded.

However, the economic reality in Europe remained dire. Several countries have had to impose harsh new spending cuts, tax rises and economic reforms to meet European deficit targets and, in Greece’s case, to continue getting vital aid. The austerity has hit citizens with wage cuts and fewer services, and left their economies struggling through recessions as reduced government spending has undermined growth.

“Yesterday’s anti-austerity protests in Madrid, together with today’s 24-hour strike in Greece, are both reminders that rampant unemployment and a general collapse in living standards make people desperate and angry,” said David Morrison, senior market strategist at GFT Markets.

“There are growing concerns that the situation across the eurozone is set to take a turn for the worse,” he said.


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It’s no wonder the Israeli Foreign Ministry initially held back from releasing a transcript of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the UN General Assembly: Bibi’s wackiness doesn’t bear close scrutiny. Perhaps “wacky” isn’t quite the right word for his 40-minute peroration, during which he pulled out a bomb “diagram” and a red marker to illustrate where he would draw a “red line” defining the outer limits of Iran’s nuclear program. Cartoonish is more like it. The cartoonish quality of the bomb drawing underscored the content and tone of the speech, which was the jeremiad of a radical ideologue rather than anything one would expect from a statesman:

“Today a great battle is being waged between the modern and the medieval. Israel stands proudly with the forces of modernity. We protect the right of all our citizens, men and women, Jews and Arabs, Muslims and Christians, all are equal before the law.”

Israel, which privileges its priestly caste, has a state religion, and bases its national mythology on a “promise” from G-d, is as medieval as any of its neighbors. Aside from being a lie, however, this statement is interesting because it evokes the very same supremacist spirit that animates the controversial pro-Israel public relations campaign launched by the Jewish state’s extremist American supporters. Posters in the public transport system, from New York to San Francisco, proclaim:

“In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat jihad.”

No wonder the Israeli consulates in New York and San Francisco won’t disavow those vile subway posters: Pamela Geller is the new public face of Israel.

Yes, Israel protects the rights of all citizens – unless they’re Palestinians who happen to own property coveted by the “settlers,” in which case it doesn’t. And the key word here is citizens: of course, the Palestinians in the occupied territories are not citizens, but helots, with no rights, and no protection from fanatical Jewish fundamentalists who have launched hundreds of attacks on their homes, and sought to displace them at every opportunity, with the active complicity of the Israeli government.

This idea that Israel represents “modernity” is rich, considering that every day Israeli society is sinking lower into the morass of religious and cultural fundamentalism, a regression that has not gone unnoticed in the West. Bibi opened his speech with biblical references, describing Jersusalem as the “eternal capital” of Israel and declaring that “the Jewish state will live forever.” Yet as we secularists know, nothing lives “forever,” and the idea of a city being the “eternal” capital of anything is a metaphor, at best, at worst a dangerous delusion. If this is the “modern” then one wonders how much it differs from the “medieval.” But let’s not linger too long over the obvious. Bibi rants on:

“Militant Islam has many branches, from the rulers of Iran with their revolutionary guards to al-Qaeda… but they’re all rooted in the same soil. It’s not whether this fanaticism will be defeated, but how many lives will be lost before it’s defeated. Nothing could emperil my country more than arming Iran with nuclear weapons. To imagine what the world would be like with a nuclear Iran, imagine what the world would be like with a nuclear al-Qaeda. There’s no difference.”

The Israeli Prime Minister may have been addressing the UN General Assembly, but he was really talking to the Americans, whose fear and loathing of the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks can always be counted on to raise them to new levels of hysteria. Outside that context, however, equating the Iranians with Al Qaeda makes about as much sense as likening the late unlamented Saddam Hussein to Osama bin Laden – and, hey wait, didn’t we hear that equation made endlessly in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq? Yet this was not a time for subtlety from the Israeli Prime Minister – the cartoon “bomb” ended all hope of that – but for the crudest sort of propaganda, which is, of course, war propaganda.

Imagine if Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who addressed the UN that day minutes before Netanyahu took the stage, had said: “Militant Judaism has many branches, from the Washington offices of AIPAC to the center of Jewish power in Tel Aviv – but they’re all rooted in the same soil” of intolerance? Picture him conjuring images of violent Jewish “fanaticism” – not a hard task, given what is happening in Israel today. If he had done so, Abbas would have been denounced in every Western capital as the 21st century incarnation of Hitler.

Netanyahu went on to cite the nonexistent “record of Iranian aggression without nuclear weapons” – an odd claim, since Iran hasn’t attacked a single one of its neighbors since the Battle of Thermopylae. The country did fight one war in modern times, when it was attacked by Iraq, which was being backed by the United States. However, it’s necessary to remember that war propaganda has no need of facts: only emotionally-charged evocations of rage – and fear:

“Given this record of Iranian aggression without nuclear weapons, just imagine an Iran with nuclear weapons. Who among you would feel safe in the Middle East? Who’d be safe in Europe? Who’d be safe in America? Who’d be safe anywhere?”

That this alleged champion of “modernity” should base his case on fearmongering should come as no surprise: hasn’t fear been the leitmotif of all the “modern” ideologies of aggressive nationalism? Fear of the Other, of the barbarian at the gates – the “savage” who, at the first opportunity, will tear your throat out with his bare teeth – is what keeps ideologues like Netanyahu and his American co-thinkers in business.

Those Eye-ranians, says Bibi, aren’t like the rest of us, which is why deterrence won’t work. “Iran’s apocalyptic leaders” are awaiting the return of the Mahdi, a holy man, whose reappearance is supposed to occur after a devastating war:

“Militant jihadists are not secular Marxists. Militant jihadists behave very differently. There were no Soviet suicide bombers.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t the Israelis also awaiting the return of Someone Special, a Messiah who will lead them out of the wilderness and establish the Kingdom of Jerusalem as His earthly domain? Militant jihadists may not be secular Marxists – but then again, militant Zionists aren’t, either. I would no more trust nuclear bombs in Bibi’s hands than I would in Ahmahdinejad’s – the difference being that the former is actually in possession of such weapons.

Which brings us to the absurdity of this lecture by the leader of the only nuclear-armed country in the region: here is a nation which refuses to even admit it acquired nukes long ago, and which disdains the Nonproliferation Treaty, making the case for war against a neighbor that has indeed signed the NPT and is abiding by its requirements.

That treaty gives Tehran the right to develop nuclear power. Furthermore, there is zero evidence Iran is embarked on a nuclear weapons program: our own intelligence community tells us they gave that up in 2003 and show no signs of resuming it. Their own religious and political leaders have denounced the possession of nuclear weapons as sinful: the Israelis, on the other hand, haven’t bothered reassuring us they would never use the nuke they won’t admit they have.

In a rational world, Israel would be in the dock, answering for its unwillingness to come out of the nuclear closet and admit what the whole world knows by now. Indeed, Bibi could give us some insight into exactly how Israel stole acquired the materials to build its formidable nuclear arsenal – since, according to recently declassified documents, he was directly involved.

In the world in which we are living, however, in which the innocent are put on trial and the guilty sit in judgement, the situation is quite different. In that world, the leader of a tiny nation entirely dependent on US largesse takes to the UN podium to issue his marching orders to Washington. Here is my “red line,” says Bibi – daring not only the Iranians but also the Americans to cross it.

Think of Netanyahu’s UN oration as just another Romney campaign speech, in which the GOP presidential candidate says Tehran must not be allowed to get “one turn of the screwdriver away” from joining the nuclear club. According to Netanyahu, Iran is nearly at that point today, and will have a nuclear weapon in less than a year if the US fails to act.

This is technical nonsense, but then again the truth has nothing to do with war propaganda: to the average American, the mere possession of weapons-grade uranium means all the Iranians have to do is plug it in and hurl it, slingshot style, in the general direction of Israel. This is an impression Israeli propagandists would dearly love to inculcate in the American public, and they have the great advantage of relying on general ignorance of the technical details. Good luck explaining to Mr. Average American why it would take a good four years after they’ve weaponized their nuclear material for the Iranians to create a useable nuke.

The ticking-bomb theme, which has been used to justify everything from torture to the invasion of Iraq, permeates Israeli propaganda in the US and was a cental theme of Bibi’s speech. His message was clear: “the hour is getting late.” We must act without giving too much thought to the possible consequences. Don’t delay, don’t think, act now – before the fraud is exposed, and we discover that – as in the case of the Iraqis – those “weapons of mass destruction” were just a figment of our easily manipulated collective imagination.

Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com, and a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He is a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and writes a monthly column for Chronicles. He is the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].



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A response to this documentary:


I am a long follower of RT, it is my best TV station and informs us about what really happens in the West, where I live.

I saw the trailer to this show. In it, the Solidarist movement “Troisieme Voie” (“the third way” or “Popular Solidarist Front”) is displayed along with the EDL and other groups as being hateful and islamophobic.

As a Troisieme Voie militant, I strongly protest. You are making a huge mistake.

Our movement is essentially oriented against the power of finances, the European Union dictatorship, globalization and imperialism. Of course, we also reject massive immigration and the spread of radical Islam in our country (which is financed by the Arab League), but we NEVER held a speech of hate towards the immigrants nor toward Islam. We actually supported the Syrian Patriots, rejected the war in Libya and the aggression against Iran.

Of course, French media associate us with extreme right-wing groups because we are strongly patriotic, but patriotism isn’t a crime!!!

I therefore find it insulting to be compared to movements who support Israel and the United States.

I hope (even if i know it is unlikely to happen) that RT won’t show a false picture of our movement. We are strongly pro-Russian and against western imperialism. It would be a stab in the back.

Anyway, I will continue to watch RT and wish you the best.

Please accept this clarification.


Guillaume Lenormand

P.S. After I watched the documentary, I realized that RT had taken an originally French documentary from 2011 and merely translated it, but it is still a documentary shot by zionists and globalists and still shows a false and offensive view of nationalists movements in western Europe  especially 3eme Voie and other national revolutionaries. 

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Stan Kroenke, 57, is one of the 400 richest people in the world according to Forbes. He began with a real estate development company that builds shopping malls. He married Ann Walton who is an heiress to the Wal-Mart fortune.  Although Kroenke denies that any kind of special agreement exists, Wal-Mart tends to be a tenant in his malls. One reason may be that Kroenke tends to split the tax incentives with the store. For instance, of the $117 Million in tax write-offs given by local governments to build ten malls between 1994 and 2006, $54 M went to Wal-Mart. And of course, Wal-Mart has paid a great deal in rent to Kroenke’s malls. One hand washes the other and, by the way, Wal-Mart’s good fortune is also Kroenke’s since he holds more than $3 Billion in Wal-Mart stock […]

Another sport that appeals to Kroenke is fishing. Some years ago he bought the Douglas Lake Ranch in British Columbia. The ranch had belonged to billionaire Bernie Ebbers of Worldcom who went bust in the biggest personal bankruptcy ever — $11 Billion of debt […]

Kroenke owns at least four very large ranches including one in Wyoming and two in Montana. The Douglas Lake Ranch sits on a half milion acres of land. Some of this land, including a couple of lakes, is public or Crown property. In B.C. you can’t buy or sell a lake; it belongs to the people. What you apparently can do though, is fence off all the access to the lake so that no one else can use it even if that means closing public roads which is also not legal in B.C.

So little Minnie Lake, a prime fishing hole, is located on the Douglas Ranch and Kroenke has shut down the road that locals used to drive down to go fishing. Also, Kroenke has flooded a great deal of land, enlarging the lake — does that mean that the new lake area belongs to Kroenke as he claims leaving only a tiny bit of Crown property in the middle which can only be reached by trespass? Or is it still Crown property? (I kind of think that he should have been stopped from changing the lake but that’s a matter for the Ministry of the Environment which has very little presence in the current B.C. government.)

Kroenke has stocked Minnie Lake with trout and he has said that the locals who fish there are thieves, stealing his fish. They could, if they wished to be honest, pay $550 a night to stay at the lodge Kroenke has built on the lake. The locals say that they have fished there for generations, that they have proof that the access road is public, and are scraping together the cost of a legal battle they expect to fight very soon […]

The Minnie Lake business has a medieval ring to it, like being forbidden to hunt the King’s deer in Sherwood Forest. But Kroenke has a lot more force on his side than the Sheriff of Nottingham and, unless the locals can find a crackerjack lawyer, they are going to be shut out of the public lands of B.C. by one of our new feudal lords, Stan Kroenke.


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A truly massive and major strike was held in Greece on Wednesday 26th September. Thousands of workers overcame the intimidation and the threats of the employers, the difficulties that the barbaric measures have created for the lives of the workers’ and popular families, as well as the illusions and went on strike. Tens of thousands of workers participated in the demonstrations of PAME which were held in 70 cities throughout the country.

In Athens and Thessalonica the demonstrations of PAME were impressive due to their remarkable militancy and the enormous participation of the people, something that even the sworn enemies of PAME cannot deny. It took many hours for the march to pass through Syntagma Square. Tens of thousands of workers, unemployed, pensioners, immigrants, self-employed and small traders took part in the strike demonstrations of PAME throughout the country. The high-level of the participation of the youth was also characteristic.

The impressive demonstration of PAME in Athens was the result of the work of the trade unions, the struggle committees in various workplaces, of the people’s committees which in the previous period organized assemblies, meetings and discussions in the sectors, in several factories, in workplaces and neighbourhoods. This is a fact that shows the strengthening of the class-oriented current in the labour movement; it points to the path we should follow.

Before the demonstration, the pickets of PAME in many workplaces defeated the intimidation in workplaces-ghettoes and contributed decisively to the strike. The slogans which prevailed were: “no more sacrifices for the plutocracy- we can live without memoranda and outside of the EU”. This strike is a significant response given that in this period the coalition government of ND/PASOK/Democratic Left together with the Troika is finalizing the new massacre of the people in the name of the previous allegedly life-saving haircut.

At the same time, the EU and the IMF are quarrelling over who will benefit from the possible new hair-cut while they are unanimous regarding the breaking of the people. With the new package of measures, which aims at ensuring the capitalist recovery and their profitability in the future, the capitalists and the EU are demanding the complete abolition of the collective bargaining agreements. They demand that the wages and the salaries be decided upon unilaterally by the employers and the government. The abolition of the minimum wage and salary concerns the working people in the private and the public sector as a whole as it leads to a wholesale reduction of salaries and pensions.

The 33% increase of the number of social security stamps which are required for retirement means that retirement age will not be merely the age of 67, as they officially claim, but much higher i.e. 72 years so as to conform with the average life expectancy, as is provided for by the Treaty of Maastricht. Those who own a house or a shop will be taxed without mercy. Furthermore, they promote dramatic cuts in benefits and healthcare spending by means of closing down or merging hospitals. They impose new heavy taxes along with the old ones, they cut the electricity to those who cannot pay the bill, they impose fines, cut salaries, pensions, allowances and increase the prices of all goods.


“We have never said that we will turn things upside down with a single strike. The effective struggles require above all the conflict with the capitalist employers in the basic sectors. This is what they are afraid of” said amongst other things Giorgos Perros, member of the Executive Secretariat of PAME in his speech at the strike demonstration of PAME.

“Effective struggles mean conflict and rupture with the EU. They do not want this because it does not serve the interests of the monopolies. When these gentlemen are claiming that the memoranda are an ineffective policy they are being hypocritical and lying. Effective struggles mean condemning the racist-Nazi views of “Golden Dawn”.

Alongside the well-known trade union bureaucrats we now have a new generation of bureaucrats who come from the same breeding ground of compromise and retreat in the face of the big interests, but they wear a new mask and have new customs. We are talking about the trade unionists of “Independent Intervention” which belongs to SYRIZA. After they now belatedly saw the bankruptcy of the majority of GSEE and ADEDY they are raising the flag of struggles. Struggles without any cost. Struggles without sacrifices. They consider strikes as simply being one more day’s wage lost and claim that we have to find new forms of struggle outside of the factories, the services, the workplaces.”

A large delegation of the CC of the KKE headed by the GS of the CC of the KKE, Aleka Papariga, took part in PAME’s demonstration. The GS of the CC made the following statement:

“What is needed is a new beginning in the rallying of forces, heightened forms of struggle and radical demands for the struggles to be effective. The people must believe that a Greece which is disengaged from the EU, a Greece where the people are in charge can ensure social prosperity and prevent the worst. If the people do not believe this, then the parties of power will have the upper hand, as well as the plutocrats and the various managers of the system who shamelessly mock them.”

The limited incidents, which the media, especially the international media, exaggerated, were aimed at concealing the size and the demands of the strike mobilizations. The KKE made the following comment:

“The enormous mobilization of the police in order to deal with a few dozen hooded ones, the arrests even of school students a long distance away from the centre of Athens from early in the morning onwards, the chase and the game of “hit and run” up to Omonia square, demonstrates the desire of the government and the various mechanisms to intimidate the people. It also proves that they have prepared a plan for the repression of the people’s movement even though it was not fully implemented today at the general strike and the enormous demonstrations of PAME all over Greece”.

The next steps are being prepared from the day after the strike, in militant readiness for new mobilizations in all sectors, workplaces so as to prevent the measures that lead to the destitution of the people. The people must fearlessly strengthen their struggles even more; they must not accept the contemporary slavery.


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The Russian leader did not hesitate to name who is responsible for sowing the seeds of disorder that is gripping many parts of the world, including in Syria.

“Our partners just can’t stop,” Putin said at a meeting with representatives of one of Russia’s regions. “They have already created chaos in many territories, and now they are continuing the same policy in other countries, including Syria.”

Commenting on the “Arab Spring” and the ongoing Syrian conflict, he said: “Our position is to help carry out changes for the better in all countries but not to try to force on them – especially by armed force – what we consider to be right.”

It is important to encourage developments from within, Putin stressed.

The Russian leader criticized the militant foreign policy of the West, arguing that Russia’s repeated warnings went unheeded.

“We did warn that prudent action was needed and that it would be wrong to try to achieve anything by force, otherwise chaos would ensue,” he said. “And what do we see today? Chaos prevails.”

Russia is concerned about developments in many regions, including Afghanistan, where heroin production and drug trafficking has hit Russia and Europe. In the Middle East the situation is hardly more inspiring, with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad struggling against an armed opposition, which is said to comprise of members of terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda.

The United States, which recently lost its Libyan Ambassador following a wave of anti-American violence, has not managed to avoid the consequences of its behavior. In a growing number of countries, leaders (Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, Saddam Hussein of Iraq and Slobodan Milosevich of Serbia, for example) who fell out of favor with the West have been eliminated one way or another.

The new tendency for ‘regime change,’ however, has not made these countries any safer. Indeed, in many cases the violence and chaos is worse now than it was before Western foreign intervention began.

To support his argument, Putin recommended Western leaders remember the lessons of history so as not to “destroy Carthage again” in their relations with weak countries.

“I would hate to see the events witnessed by mankind many centuries ago repeat themselves now,” he said. “The strong countries are trying to push their rules and their moral code on weak countries, without taking into account the history, traditions and religion of a particular country.”

The Russian leader then mentioned what he said was “the first case of ethnic cleansing known to mankind.”

“The Roman Empire not only seized and occupied Carthage, but also destroyed it completely, killed everyone and spilled salt so that nothing could grow there,” Putin noted.

Not only should the good things inherited from European culture be remembered, he added.

In his opinion, Russia “has always been advantageously different from other countries due to its formation as a multinational and multi-religious state.”

Orthodoxy has always been very tolerant, he noted.

“The super-task is that a representative of each, even the smallest ethnic group, if he lives in this territory and is a citizen of this country, must feel absolutely equal and understand that he and his children can fulfill their most ambitious plans and have no restrictions, no limitations,” he said.

The Russian state had never dictated its will on anyone or pushed its rules, he noted.

He stressed that what transpired during the Soviet period in Russian history could not be blamed solely on Russia because the “idea of world revolution was being forced on other territories.”

On the whole, “we have always respected all ethnic groups, peoples and religions inside the country and have tried to behave the same way on the international scene,” he stressed.

“The preservation of inter-religious peace” is extremely important for Russia, said Putin, who expressed his support in working with other countries to achieve this goal.


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