Imperial machinations, Mnangagwa, and gleeful capitalists

This is a graphic I created on 12/13/2017, and revised on 12/14/2017, to represent the continuing counter-revolution in Zimbabwe since Mugabe’s resignation on Nov 21 and Mnangagwa’s ascendancy the next day thanks to the ZDF’s coup d’etat.

The counter-revolution of President Mnangagwa in Zimbabwe continues afoot. The Zimbabwean Communist Party, as I noted previously, is no help, so the Zimbabwean proletariat are on their own as the socially democratic gains of the Black nationalist ruling party, the Zanu-PF, albeit limited by the fact that they originally accepted neocolonialism before the late 1990s as noted before, are being chipped away.

Recent Developments

Recently, on the same day that the Politburo of the Zanu-PF met, the royalty for platinum mining was slashed so that “all platinum group companies to reserve significant amounts of capital for reinvestment,” to help the bourgeoisie in that business, along with likely attracting other mining companies not native to the country, including those from the West. Again, this helps the capitalist class much more than the proletariat in Zimbabwe. If that isn’t enough, the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) agreed to provide $1.5 billion for Zimbabwe’s economy in order to “meet the forex requirement for productive foreign payments” and support the “productive sector through banks and the mining sector, especially the gold sector, as well as the retooling of the manufacturing sector, among other industries.” This leaves the country, I would argue, further open to exploitation by other forces.

The ZDF (Zimbabwe Defense Force) again re-iterated the need for “calm,” basically saying that they will not be used to settle personal scores between Zanu-PF members. They also seem to want to tamp down any opposition to their moves going forward, which will come and is likely there.

The MDC was criticized by The Herald for its foray to the murderous empire. The latter publication, which has widely taken the side of the coup plotters and the imperialist sect of the Zanu-PF, declared that the MDC alliance, part of the Western puppet “opposition” is basically “campaigning for Zimbabwe’s continued isolation, despite recent developments and popular change of Government witnessed recently.” They added by saying that the MDC “has always been associated with the West” and sponsored by them in “fruitless bid to unseat former President Mugabe for the “crime” of undertaking the land reform programme.” However, they claim that Mugabe’s removal “set Zimbabwe on a historic transition process” while noting that the MDC wants to convince “the Western community to maintain frosty relations with Zimbabwe” and saying that they “expected better in a new post-Mugabe as era; there is more than enough room to talk among Zimbabweans.” This may indicate that this “counter-revolution” will involve the Zanu-PF staying in power while the Western puppet opposition is rightfully marginalized as they should have no real importance in Zimbabwe’s politics. However, the government could easily turn and work with the Western puppet opposition, however.

In terms of the land program, there seemed to be a recent development. The government ordered “illegally resettled farmers to vacate the land immediately or face the wrath of the law,” saying that the “Zimbabwe Land Commission shall be seized with the responsibility of settling land disputes emanating from resettled farmers and shall report to the Minister from time to time.” This seems to limit the land redistribution program to an extent while it tries to imply that there was corruption when the government, with Mugabe as the President, was involved in the land redistribution program. This development follows the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ) saying they will “now accept 99-year leases that were given to resettled farmers by Government as collateral for bank loan,” while the new government has “stressed that it will not be fickle and will stick to its policies to maintain certainty and predictability to attract investment in the economy.” It seems that the government is willing to intervene in the economy but is hard to say this is benefiting the proletariat, as its efforts to boost maize yields was done in part because of an assessment based on “the World Bank’s Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA) indicators.” Likely such efforts will help the bourgeoisie instead since the World Bank is one of the institutions which maintains the international capitalist economy.

Additionally, as Mnangagwa appoints a new head of Zimbabwe’s intelligence service, a new VP shortly (as some reports seem to indicate) reassigns permanent secretaries, there are considerations to raise the retirement age by five years (from 60 to 65) among civil service in Zimbabwe, if I understand that correctly. Additionally, the 2018 Budget does much more: a higher rate on spot betting, an “export tax of 5% on the gross value of exported lithium” imposed, a “zero tolerance on land barons,” amending the  Indigenisation and Empowerment Act, implemented by April 2018, that “diamonds and platinum are the only sub-sectors designated as ‘extractive’” with the “51/49 Indigenisation threshold [confined] to only the two minerals” and not to the “rest of the extractive sector, nor…the other sectors of the economy, which will be open to any investor regardless of nationality.” Furthermore, this law would allow entrance into the “reserved sector,” which is “only for Zimbabwean citizens” if a the business “creates employment…seek[s] to attract both local and foreign investments,” among other aspects. The budget also declares that “State Enterprises that exhibit potential will be reformed, while those which cannot be rehabilitated will be privatised or face outright closure,” abolishing “the Youth Officer posts under the Ministry of Youth, Indigenisation & Empowerment,” transferring it to another role, and limiting the civil service.If that isn’t enough, the government, as of January 2018, will “retire staff above the age of 65” and convince them to be petty bourgeoisie. It also includes adopting “fiscal anchors” which cap “budget deficits below 3%,” limit public debt, reduce spending on Infrastructure “by re-directing substantial resources towards capital development priorities,” and sticking to “…agreed Cabinet policy positions that entail pain and sacrifice.” If that isn’t enough, the budget says that “money creation, through domestic money market instruments which do not match with available foreign currency, only serves to weaken the value of the same instruments” and adding that the “new economic order” includes restored discipline “supported by political will in dealing with the following…Re-engagement with the International Community; Stimulating Production, and Exporting; Creation of Jobs, as well as a  credible 2018 election.”

The 256-page 2018 Budget Statement, which includes financial audits of all civil servants, is basically another step in the counter-revolution, a declaration of war on the Zimbabwean proletariat as the policies have a neoliberal capitalist ring to them. It is, as The Herald put it (in a supportive way, but can also be seen negatively), the beginning of an “economic cleansing” rather than just a “revival.” Clearly Mnangagwa is agreeing with commentators like Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo who serve the bourgeoisie with their words which are like a knife stabbed into the heart of the Zimbabwean proletariat.

As the Extraordinary Congress of the Zanu-PF is set to meet, with the goal “unity in the party,” it is expected to “endorse the recalling of former President Robert Mugabe and the installation of President Mnangagwa as the First Secretary and President by the Central Committee on November 19” while also expected to “uphold the decision by the Central Committee to expel G40 cabal members,” including Grace Mugabe who was attacked in an undoubtedly misogynist way, and also possibly bring back “all Central Committee members elected at the 2014 Congress but suspended or expelled from the party subsequent to the Congress on the basis of fictitious or fabricated allegations by the G40 cabal be reinstated.” The coup will then be fully legitimized and the counter-revolution affirmed by the Zanu-PF itself!

Machinations by the imperialists

Apart from a brief interruption in internet service in Zimbabwe, possibly caused by imperial machinations (or possibly not), imperialists are salivating without end. As I noted in a recent post on a radical subreddit, Zimbabwe is undoubtedly in a “bad situation.” A law recently signed by the orange menace (Trump) declares that the US will stand against “any extension by the respective institution of any loan or grant to the Government of Zimbabwe, except to meet basic human needs or to promote democracy,” unless the rule of law has returned, including “respect for ownership and title to property, and freedoms of expression, association, and assembly.” The law adds that funds may be available for “health and education,” and possibly even for “macroeconomic growth assistance” if the US thinks the government “is implementing transparent fiscal policies, including public disclosure of revenues from the extraction of natural resources.” This basically means that the imperial machinations in Zimbabwe will continue, that the US still wants land redistribution removed (as in the part about “property”), wants a place for the MDC hucksters, and wants an in within the market of Zimbabwe.

In the post cited in the previous paragraph I also noted a Senate hearing for a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee to unilaterally determine Zimbabwe’s “future.” The participants had varied views.Stephanie Sullivan, Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, declared that the coup offers an  “opportunity for reform that could allow the United States to re-engage in ways we have not recently been able to do,” said that they want the Western puppet’s opposition to have a voice “in charting a path forward” and saying that tbe U.S. capitalist class is “eager for improvements in the [Zimbabwean] business climate that will encourage them to invest and trade” and sees “promise in agriculture, tourism, energy, and mining.” Then the MDC Alliance representative, Tendai Biti, declared that Zimbabwe’s future was uncertain but has an opportunity for “reconstructing, rebuilding and re- fabricating a new Zimbabwean story, and a new Zimbabwean society,” declaring that the country needs “a genuine break from its tortured past…[creating] a just and prosperous society” where citizens can “pursue life, liberty, and happiness,” the Western bourgeois values in politics. He also said that there should be “political and institutional reforms” along with “major economic reforms that focus on restoring livelihoods, growing a shared economy” which includes “a commitment to real transformation other than cosmetic statements on the economy.” He feared that Zimbabwe would “pursue a Beijing model, in the respect of which there are nominal improvements on the economy while political space is closed and democracy is muzzled” while adding that Zimbabwe should not be “forgotten in our battle against tyranny and poverty and for democracy and human rights” and that once Zimbabwe shows “signs of an irrevocable and irreversible trajectory towards legitimacy, democracy, and the rule of law, we [Zimbabwe] shall require your full support as we re-engage key international institutions.”

There were two other guests. One of them was Dewa Mavhinga, the Southern Africa Director for Human Rights Watch (HRW). He did accurately describe the ZDF’s role in the coup, but he obviously cited with the imperialists by saying that ” re-engagement with the Zimbabwean government should be based on a firm commitment” of measures that “ensure tangible and long overdue democratic and electoral reforms…a clear roadmap for democratic elections.” In the meantime what does HRW want? Continuation of “existing US policy toward Zimbabwe until the military removes itself from politics and the 2018 elections are legitimately assessed to be peaceful, transparent, free and fair,” basically meaning that the murderous sanctions will continue. Finally there was the view of a a Mugabe-hating “journalist” named Peter Godwin, who was more skeptical of all. He claimed that Mnangagwa will “entice his own people and the world with a ‘reformist stance’,” working to re-brand the Zanu-PF but in actuality all of his “promises don’t stand up to scrutiny.” He also added that “opposition fragmentation is enormously beneficial to Zanu-PF, allowing them a real possibility of winning at the polls,” arguing that the Western puppet opposition needs “to unify or at least broker alliances or electoral pacts.” Again, the same strategy is trotted out by the imperialists.

Looking forward

Zimbabwe seems on the road to ruin. It will intensify the “exploitive relation between the owners of the means of production…and the producers of value” with “production of knowledge…directed towards profit” even more than in the past, with “tension between the underlying forces of competition and monopoly” as Michael Roberts put it recently. As Roberts further added that “rise of intangibles means the increased concentration and centralisation of capital” and ended by saying that “capital without capitalism becomes a socialist imperative. Furthermore, let us recognize that there are no “progressive radicals” in Zimbabwe anymore. Michael Parenti, the radical scholar everyone should listen to rather than establishment “radical” Noam Chomsky, defined this term in an interview back in 2015

A progressive radical is someone who supports democratic political procedures rather than moneyed-driven ones, much needed human services, public ownership of education, utilities, industrial production, and most financing, while opposing big corporate power and global imperialism.

There is no one like that in Zimbabwean politics. In fact Mnangagwa and his cronies want to privatize government entities, reducing public ownership, and seem willing to work with the imperial West to “improve” their country. That will undoubtedly lead to further exploitation! There is no doubt of that.

Those in the murderous empire seem to be playing a “wait and see” game, with many citing the event “committed by the North-Korean trained fifth brigade in the Matabeleland and Midlands regions in the 1980’s, also referred to as Gukurahundi,” saying that Mnangagwa was involved, with Chris Coons declaring that its “critical that the people of Zimbabwe not see one dictator replaced by another and so for one I am reluctant to see us take any steps to lighten or relieve sanctions or other international restrictions on loans or partnerships until we see … concrete steps.”  Other reports say that the empire is “cautiously considering re-engaging Zimbabwe, following the resignation of former President Robert Mugabe,” seeing a possibly window of opportunity. A “peace campaign” won’t stop the empire from coming in and bringing in all the corporate brands that those living inside the beast have grown to hate. At this point, let us not forget the contributions of comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe who originally embraced neo-colonialism but ultimately led the country to one that allied with China and was strongly anti-imperialism, supporting independence for Western Sahara and Palestine for example. No one should forget him and his contributions, which the current government seems intent on erasing without a doubt.

Then there is the role of China. One commentary recently asserted that “Zimbabwe’s economic and political ties to China could prove decisive for Africa’s perpetual underdog” and added that “more Chinese money is flowing to Zimbabwe as well” with it also noted that “China has been a partner to Africa when many Western investors preferred to stay away.” What will China’s role be? Well, they seem to be willing to keep their investments in the country and would be glad to have more “business-friendly” conditions to benefit Chinese companies. Again, this would not make Zimbabwe a Chinese colony, as those deluded commentators in the West assert, but it would show that both countries have embraced capitalism without a doubt.

In other news, the relations with Botswana seem to be on upswing. This is disturbing because, as I noted on Reddit, Botswana hated Mugabe, supporting the Western puppet opposition, with suggestions they are imperial puppets of the murderous empire. A new memorandum of understanding is coming soon with Botswana, which hailed the new government. This seems to indicate that Zimbabwe could be further corrupted by imperial machinations without a doubt.

The future forward for Zimbabwe is unclear. Frantz Fanon wrote back in 1961, in the Wretched of the Earth, about how the “national bourgeoisie of under-developed countries is not engaged in production, nor in invention, nor building, nor labour; it is completely canalized into activities of the intermediary type” saying that their “psychology…is that of the businessman, not that of a captain of industry” while adding that “from now on it will insist that all the big foreign companies should pass through its hands, whether these companies wish to keep on their connexions with the country, or to open it up” and that the “national bourgeoisie will be quite content with the role of the Western bourgeoisie’s business agent, and it will play its part without any complexes in a most dignified manner.” He added that when the national bourgeoisie within an “under-developed” country is strong, it can “arrange everything and everybody to serve its power” and said that there must be “very exceptional circumstances if such a bourgeoisie…is forced into denying its own humanist ideology” while the Western bourgeoisie is racist but works to mask such racism. He also wrote that

…The national bourgeoisie turns its back more and more on the interior and on the real facts of its undeveloped country, and tends to look towards the former mother country and the foreign capitalists who count on its obliging compliance…The bourgeois dictatorship of under-developed countries draws its strength from the existence of a leader…in spite of his frequently honest conduct and his sincere declarations, the leader as seen objectively is the fierce defender of these interests, today combined, of the national bourgeoisie and the ex-colonial companies…the national bourgeoisie of under-developed countries is incapable of carrying out any mission whatever…The party, a true instrument of power in the hands of the bourgeoisie, reinforces the machine, and ensures that the people are hemmed in and immobilized…In under-developed countries, the bourgeoisie should not be allowed to find the conditions necessary for its existence and its growth. In other words, the combined effort of the masses led by a party and of intellectuals who are highly conscious and armed with revolutionary principles ought to bar the way to this useless and harmful middle class…In the colonized territories, the bourgeois caste draws its strength after independence chiefly from agreements reached with the former colonial power

While Fanon was talking about the development of independent nations in Africa, after their liberation wars against “colonial domination,” what he writes about the national bourgeoisie can easily apply to the Black bourgeoisie in Zimbabwe which seems to be happy and gleeful to work with the West while still wanting to defend their own interests.

With this counter-revolution, the Europeans who “robbed the continent of vast riches and inflicted unimaginable suffering on the African people” will be back to do what did they in Zimbabwe for over 70 years, mainly by the British imperialists like Cecil Rhodes. The European imperialists will exploit the proletariat and peasantry with a “modern flair,” followed by the gung-ho imperialists from the murderous empire. Neo-colonialism, the most dangerous form of imperialism as Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana called it, will be back “in style” as Zimbabweans continue to toil.

As Amilcar Cabral of Guinea-Bissau put it in 1964, “whether we wish it or not, we are fighting against imperialism, which is the basis of colonialism, in every form.” Apart from following this advice, we should be worried about Zimbabwe’s future trajectory as it seems to invalidate  liberation of Africa from world imperialism, which was fought for so many years ago with vigor, determination, and good cause for a better world free of capitalism, but seems to be slipping away with counter-revolutions like this one in Zimbabwe. To end this post, Fanon’s words on the future path for liberation and independence are an instructive reminder of where our thoughts should go in the days forward:

We must shake off the heavy darkness in which we were plunged, and leave it behind…We today can do everything, so long as we do not imitate Europe, so long as we are not obsessed by the desire to catch up with Europe…European achievements, European techniques and the European style ought no longer to tempt us and to throw us off our balance…Let us decide not to imitate Europe; let us combine our muscles and our brains in a new direction…a former European colony decided to catch up with Europe…[this was the] United States of America [which] became a monster, in which the taints, the sickness and the inhumanity of Europe have grown to appalling dimensions…Comrades, let us flee from this motionless movement where gradually dialectic is changing into the logic of equilibrium. Let us reconsider the question of mankind…The Third World today faces Europe like a colossal mass whose aim should be to try to resolve the problems to which Europe has not been able to find the answers…So, comrades, let us not pay tribute to Europe by creating states, institutions and societies which draw their inspiration from her…If we wish to live up to our peoples’ expectations, we must seek the response elsewhere than in Europe…For Europe, for ourselves and for humanity, comrades, we must turn over a new leaf, we must work out new concepts, and try to set afoot a new man.

Advertisements

A profile of the Zimbabwean Communist Party

There have been varied musings on radical subreddits, like /r/communism on the Zimbabwean Communist Party (ZCP), in recent days. Some have said that the party is “not significant and had no role in the land reform and subsequent turn against imperialism” and that the “reactionary nature of this event [the coup, an intra-party struggle within the Zanu-PF] is clear.” Others have said that “the ZCP ally themselves with the ANC” and some added that “our Zimbabwean comrades are not well versed in the National situation of SA, and by extension the correct or incorrectness of their communist party.” Some have also noted that “this party has only been functioning for 6 months.” This article aims to summarize what we now know about the ZCP.

The Secretary of the party was part of the MDC?

An article on Bulawayo 24 notes that “Ngqabutho Nicholas Mabhena based in South Africa has resigned from the MDC…after the formation of their new political party Zimbabwe Communist Party in which he is now the secretary general.” It quotes a Facebook post, this past May, where he explained himself:

As l sat on the bus from Bulawayo to Johannesburg, l wrote my resignation letter to the MDC Secretary General informing her of my decision to resign my membership of the MDC. I had joined the MDC in September 1999 when it was officially launched at Rufaro stadium. Before then, we worked hard with the likes of Cde Austin Moyo, Dr Morgan Sebele, Cde Danisa Zulu , Cde Linda Mthimkhulu , Dr Lawrence Mbobo (who then decided not to join the MDC) towards the formation of the MDC. I had joined the MDC , a year after l was recruited into Communism by the then SACP [South African Communist Party] spokesman Cde Mazibuko K Jaha and Cde Molly Dlamini (a trade unionist and a Communist). During my years in the MDC, l worked closely with comrades from the Keep Left, the likes of Cde Trevor Ngwane, Prof Patrick Bond, Cde Claire and others. We used to invite Prof Welshman Ncube in our Keep Left meetings but over the years, l was drawn closer to the SACP, attending its political study groups , Communist University. When we went to the MDC congress in 2006, we had to reclaim our movement as Pan Africanist in character, when the congress was held under the theme, ‘My Zimbabwe, My Pride , Our Heritage’. Unfortunately, our then President Prof Arthur Mutambara failed to articulate our political message to an extent that, we were not understood and were labeled stooges of Zanu (PF). This misunderstanding cost us the support from the working class who had to stick with MDC-T. After the 2013 elections, it became clear to me that, for us to win both the urban and rural electorate and expose Zanu (PF) for what it is, was to challenge it ideologically. This would have required us to transform the MDC into a socialist movement or a political movement biased to the left. Given that the MDC is home to various class interests and it had to stick to Social Democracy, some of us started to work towards the formation of the vanguard of the working class in Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe Communist Party was officially launched on the 3rd May 2017 and l was left with no option but to resign my membership of the MDC. I have no hard feelings towards the leadership and the entire membership of the MDC. In fact, l respect the political leadership of Prof Welshman Ncube, an organic intellectual in his own right. Normally, when people resign from parties, they tend to trade insults and make all manner of accusations. With me, it is different. If the MDC allowed dual membership like the ANC/SACP, l would have resigned from my position in the MDC and remained a card carrying member.”

This  is already worrisome.  I say this because the MDC is clearly the Western puppet opposition which anyone with half a brain would realize. He is almost acting like the MDC is a leftist force instead of just being a force of Western imperialism! This is not good. He is acting like there are “good” people in the MDC which is laughable.

Not much can be found on the people he mentions other than that one works for the revenue authority in Zimbabwe, another as a medical doctor, one as a civil engineer, one at the Health Wellness Institute, two who are is a spokespeople for SACP, a self-declared socialist in South Africa, a current President of one of the MDC factions, the horrible anti-Mugabe “scholar,” and more. This further seems to indicate that this party, which seems to have its main roots in South Africa, has some fundamental issues, especially with its conversations with those who hate Mugabe or are part of the puppet opposition in Zimbabwe! This does not portend well at all.

The ZCP, Mugabe, and the Zanu-PF

It is already clear that the ZCP endorsed the “military takeover in the country” of Zimbabwe. They argued that

the politico-military action taken by the Zimbabwe National Army is the result of the chaotic state of Zimbabwe as a whole and the ruling party, Zanu (PF), in particular. The extravagant lifestyles of the ruling elite contrast sharply with the extreme poverty of the majority of the Zimbabwean people.

The Party also called for a “transitional arrangement that would ensure a peaceful, free and fair election” within a “reasonable time frame” and indicated they would be “willing to engage with a new government once it’s in place to establish areas of mutual concern and possible agreement in the interest of taking the country forward.”

These views already seem to be in line with the imperialist faction of the Zanu-PF and their Western sycophants who have been blabbing about “Mugabe the dictator” (or “Mugabe the homophobe”) for years. Why would anyone endorse this coup which has led to, basically a “counter-revolution” in Zimbabwe?

In this past year, the ZCP has called Mugabe and Jacob Zuma dictators, saying the former sold off the country while also declaring that there is “economic damage caused by Zanu PF’s warring factions.” This aligns with their view that Mugabe lost the chance to help Zimbabwe’s economy. They even said that Grace Mugabe has a problem with managing her anger. Even with this, the party has said they will not “even want to contest this year’s elections” but instead want more public engagement in the country apparently.

This already makes me a bit nervous from a radical standpoint. The party says they are a “class movement, a case of a three pronged struggle against imperialism, dictatorship and national bourgeoisie” making them a “Marxist -Leninist political organization whose ideology will run on scientific socialism,” adding that “we seek to embark on an exercise of genuine nation building since our people have been divided into ethnic enclaves since attaining independence. The regime has failed to resolve ethnic divisions in our society.” Other articles quote them as saying that they are “going to encourage productive capitalism and take the economy to the people” and aimed to form “a vanguard party that will see the working people of Zimbabwe, especially the poor, having their share in the country’s wealth,” influencing policy decisions “that would be beneficial to the working poor,” while criticizing “opposition” parties. It has also been noted that the party is basically a “group of committed people who are politically active in other organisation that also include the so called opposition parties.” One document, earlier this year, outlines their views to an extent:

…We are encouraging others to join our ranks. This will help in strengthening the Africa Left. Our main aim is to promote democratic principles in our region guided by Marxist-Leninist philosophy…The economic crisis in Zimbabwe is worsening…We must then comrades, find a solution to the economic crisis in Zimbabwe and the region. It cannot be correct that the South African economy can develop when surrounded by poor nations..As the ZCP, we are calling for a National Economic Dialogue to find a solution to our economic challenges…This National Economic Dialogue must be attended by the ruling party, the opposition parties, liberation movements from the SADC region, trade unions, informal sector organisations, progressive civil society organisations, faith based organisations, rural based formations, youth and women formations…As Communists, we want an economy that is free both from imperialist influence and from looting by parasites…The alternative to the capitalist system is socialism. Socialism will never be achieved unless we build peoples power in our communities and at the work place.

While you could say this rhetoric is encouraging, their lack of understanding of the power relations with the United States as the head honcho of world imperialism, working with European imperialisms, especially that of the British, shows that their viewpoints have fundamental problems to say the least. Could it be said that they are just an organization to distract the Zimbabwean proletariat? Perhaps it can. Having revolutionary forces work together is a good idea but I’m not sure they are a revolutionary force, especially when they endorse the idea of “productive capitalism” at the present! The Zanu-PF are socially democratic, as it currently stands, and support a bourgeoisie in Zimbabwe, but how the ZCP any better? They seem to be woefully misinformed with fundamental falsehoods.

Looking at the ZCP’s Facebook page and a conclusion

Their page tells a bit about their positions. They declare that “Prof Jonathan Moyo…should be clasified as a terrorist,” say that they are “extremely overwhelmed with great joy upon learning that Mr Mugabe has tendered his resignation letter today” even as they “appreciate his contribution and achievements for his 37 years of reign,” and argue that “Mugabe must step down with immediate effect,” adding that they need to show their “anger over Mugabe’s four decades of gross misrule. No to Mugabeism of our state.” Other posts said that “the ZCP party,its ex[ec]utive council,the membership and its affiliate organisation are proud and satisfied by the conduct of the country’s military at a time Zimbabwe was sliding into chaos.” One final post said that the “ZCP’s Executive council has yesterday taken off from the Airport to China” in order to “attend the Congress of the CPC where the interim leadership will engage their CPC counterparts to take some notes on how we can hold our own elective Congress back home.”

Using this and what is currently known, it is hard to trust the ZCP. Perhaps they can pull off something and change their reputation but this seems unlikely at the present.

The counter-revolution of Mnangagwa and Zimbabwe’s military

As  wrote on December 29, “Mnangagwa, even more than Mugabe, seems to favor the Zimbabwean bourgeoisie” while adding that “while I hope for the best as always, I fear for the worst. We should stand with whatever forces have the interests of the Zimbabwean proletariat at heart,” arguing that the current government does not have those interests at heart. Current events seem to demonstrate that the “corrective measure” that removed Mugabe was nothing short of a coup that seems ready to benefit Western capitalists.

Amending the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act (IEEA)

Already, the new government has amended the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act “to reflect its policy position that the 51-49 percent requirement only applies to natural resource-based investments.” This position runs contrary to what Mugabe issued in April 2016, meaning that the government felt that having across all sectors promised “empowerment for the indigenes without delivering it on the other hand, while creating discomfort or even suspicion to would-be investors on the other” and instead supporting a “new investment framework…clear cut in terms of what’s on offer to both domestic and foreign investors.” What is this new framework? Well, they posit “Zimbabwe as an investment destination,” and open up the “non-resource sector and reserved sector” to more foreign investment. The non-resource sector includes

beneficiation of raw materials, transfer of appropriate technology to Zimbabwe for the purposes of enhancing productivity, creation of employment and imparting of new skills to Zimbabweans, granting of ownership and/or employee share ownership for value to indigenous Zimbabweans

This sector is even larger than what The Herald stated in their recent article (linked at the beginning of this section) as noted by the National Economic Empowerment Strategy issued in 2015 by Patrick Zhuwao, then the Minister of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment (original link). It includes the manufacturing, finance services, tourism, education & sport, arts entertainment & culture, engineering & construction, energy, services, telecommunications, transport & motor industries.

The reserved sector includes those areas “reserved for Zimbabwean entrepreneurs, except for existing businesses,” including businesses such as

retail and wholesale trade, transportation (passenger buses, taxis and car hire services), estate agencies, grain milling, bakeries, tobacco processing, advertising agencies, valet services, employment agencies and provision of local arts and crafts and marketing and distribution of the same

The latter were once “non-indigenous businesses” who had to pay “the full amount of the Empowerment Levy proposed herein as part of measures designed to ensure compliance with the indigenisation legislation.” This levy, to summarize without bogged down in the details, depends on the “extent to which a business simply decides to comply with the laws of Zimbabwe, on indigenisation and economic empowerment.” This is no longer to be enforced at all!

With this, foreign investors can have control of businesses in these sectors. With this new policy, only businesses are national resources sector is required that Black Zimbabweans “hold a 51 percent stake…with the remaining 49 percent belonging to the partnering investor(s).” As a result, the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act’s purpose has been subverted! As Mugabe put it in 2016 (original link), the law meant to enable “historically indigenous Zimbabweans” to be “significant players” in Zimbabwe’s economy, granting them ownership of “the country’s means and factors of production.” Only allowing it one sector benefits the global capitalist class.

I doubt that weakening of this law will put forward “goals of indigenisation and economic empowerment” of the Zimbabwean people as Mugabe stated in 2013, specifically focusing on the resources sector which is wide ranging, as provided by the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment (General) Regulation in 2010 and noted within xxx:

Air, soil, waters and minerals of Zimbabwe…Mammal, bird, fish and other animal life of Zimbabwe…The trees grasses and other vegetation of Zimbabwe…Springs, vleis, sponges, reed beds, mashes, swamps and public streams of Zimbabwe…Any landscape, scenery or site having aesthetic appeal or scenic value or of historic or archaeological interest

I doubt that Mnangagwa and his government will stand by that interpretation of natural resources. I really do. The National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board (“NIEEB”) which is currently “tasked to spearhead this process of transforming the peripheral role of the indigenous majority in the economy to a leading role in the mainstream economy together with the attendant benefits of improving their standards of living” still has a role but it has been dramatically reduced.

Basically, this decision, applauded by The Herald, which seems to hold the line of the Zanu-PF adherents sympathetic to Western imperialism now unlike under Mugabe’s presidency over the years, opens up Zimbabwe to exploitation from international capital. This should be condemned by anyone with sense as it will hurt the Zimbabwean proletariat without a doubt.

What we have now is the beginning of what I’ll call a counter-revolution. It is almost like the efforts pushed by Nikita Khrushchev after the death of comrade Joseph Stalin in 1953. The difference is that Zimbabwe is not a socialist country like the USSR and does not have a communist party in that position of power, as Zimbabwe is a socially democratic country with a socially democratic political party. However, there are some parallels that could be drawn since comrade Robert Mugabe is being taken down by Mnangagwa who is not a comrade in the slightest meaning of the word! Even if The Herald says it time and time again, that doesn’t make it true!

The new presidential cabinet of Mnangagwa

Currently the cabinet has 22 members with a varied number of new members, some of which are just appointed. These include:

  1. Patrick Chinamasa as new Minister of Finance and Economic Planning
  2. Obert Mpofu as new Minister of Home Affairs and Culture
  3. Air Force of Zimbabwe Commander Air Marshal Perrance/Perence Shiri as the new Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement
  4. Lazarus Dokora still in charge of the Primary and Secondary Education portfolio
  5. David Parirenyatwa still as Health and Child Care Minister
  6. Kembo Mohadi as new Minister of Defence, Security and War Veterans
  7. Ziyambi Ziyambi as new Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs
  8. Major-General Sibusiso Moyo as new Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
  9. Kazembe Kazembe as new Minister of Sports, Arts and Recreation
  10. Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWA) chairperson Christopher Mutsvangwa as new Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services
  11. Mike Bimha as new Minister of Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development
  12. July Moyo (2) as new Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing
  13. Sithembiso Nyoni as new Minister of Women and Youth Affairs
  14. Head of the University of Zimbabwe Geography and Environmental Science department Professor Amon Murwira as new Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology Development
  15. Supa Mandiwanzira as now Minister of Information Communication Technology and Cyber Security
  16. Former National University of Science and Technology (NUST) pro-vice chancellor Professor Clever Nyathi as the new Minister of Labour and Social Welfare
  17. Joram Gumbo still as Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister
  18. Mimosa Mining Company executive chairman Mr Winston Chitando as new Minister of Mines and Mining Development
  19. Simon Khaya Moyo (3) as new Minister of Energy and Power Development
  20. Oppah Muchinguri (Kashiri) as new Environment, Water and Climate Minister
  21. Prisca Mupfumira as new Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister
  22. Simbarashe Mumbengegwi as new Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Monitoring of Government Programmes

Other ministers not in the cabinet were as follows:

  • Miriam Chikukwa (Harare), Provincial Affairs Minister still
  • Martin Dinha (Mashonaland Central), Provincial Affairs Minister still
  • Webster Shamu (Mashonaland West), Provincial Affairs Minister still
  • Angeline Masuku (Bulawayo) Provincial Affairs Minister new
  • Monica Mutsvangwa (2) (Manicaland) Provincial Affairs Minister new
  • David Musabayana (Mashonaland East) Provincial Affairs Minister new
  • Cain Mathema (Matabeleland North) Provincial Affairs Minister still
  • Josiah Hungwe (Masvingo) Provincial Affairs Minister new
  • Owen Ncube (1) (Midlands) Provincial Affairs Minister new
  • Abednico Ncube (2) superintending over Matabeleland South province
  • Chrsiopher Mushohwe remains the Minister of State for Government Scholarships in the President’s Office

And then there are six deputy ministers appointed by President Mnangagwa:

  • Terence Mukupe (Finance and Economic Development)
  • Davis Marapira (Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement)
  • Paul Mavima (Primary and Secondary Education)
  • Victor Matemadanda (War Veterans)
  • Pupurai Togarepi (Youth Affairs)
  • Joshua Malinga (Social Welfare)

The bourgeois media saw this in an interesting light. Bloomberg News quibbed that “his cabinet announcements have been dominated by loyalists to the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, dashing hopes of significant change,” quoting the thoughts of the opposition People’s Democratic Party,  Tendai Biti. [1] Reuters said something similar. They noted how Mnangagwa swore in his cabinet, “giving top posts to the generals who helped his rise to power” including Air Marshall Perrance Shiri who declared that “who says military people should never be politicians? I‘m a Zimbabwean so I have every right to participate in government,” even as he kept “several faces from the Mugabe era, including Patrick Chinamasa as finance minister.” [2] The end of the article added the following quote from MDC’s Vice President Nelson Chamisa, “as far as we are concerned there was no contact whatsoever between President Mnangagwa, ZANU-PF and our party regarding the possibility of inclusion or involvement of our members in the government,” but we can’t completely. A German publication, DW, said that “Mnangagwa came under heavy criticism for recycling officials from Mugabe’s era” even as it was noted that “Mnangagwa still has important allies” in the military who he “nominated two of them to cabinet positions, further angering the public.” [3] It was also claimed that “Zimbabweans hoping that members of the opposition would be appointed to the new cabinet were ultimately disappointed with the outcome.” Other sites said that “the new Cabinet is just a collection of the old, corrupt and incompetent people who created the present economic shambles in the first place” with another saying that the new cabinet had “two senior military officials who played a central role in bringing him [Mnangagwa] to power were given key jobs.

As for The Herald, it said that “Zanu-PF, as the ruling party, is in a clear majority and therefore doesn’t require outsiders…There is no doubt peace and unity are key requirements for national development…What we don’t understand is why that noble role should be predicated on them [the opposition] getting positions in Government.” They added that “his Cabinet…includes a number of new faces, and a sprinkling of women in the interest of gender representation, and the disabled too and war veterans…it is the President’s prerogative to appoint and disappoint whoever he wants…common sense teaches us of the importance of continuity and institutional memory…let us give the new administration the benefit of the doubt.” Another opinion said the same, criticizing Jonathan Moyo (part of the pro-Mugabe G40 group) declaring at the end that the military’s coup “was not a revolution. Nor was it a subversion of a constitutional order, which is why our unique-coup-that-was-no-coup has become a global marvel” and claimed that “good times are promising to roll, and it will be for the national good.” This is a similar position to that held by the National Economic Consultative Forum (NECF).

Mnangagwa declared, as quoted by PressTV, that “I have sworn in a new cabinet just to finish the term of the former president, which is a period of six to seven months. I believe with my team we will stand up to the challenge. I want them (Zimbabweans) to be united, we must grow our economy.”

This doesn’t seem to be a “moment of madness” as one article in The Herald scoffed at. Instead, it is directly planned. It is more than what the media above say it is. Using a Zimbabwean wiki and general online searching we find that:

  • 23 are Zanu-PF partisans (Mpofu [supportive of trade with China], Ziyambi,  Dokora, Parirenyatwa, Mohadi, Moyo (2), Nyoni, Gumbo,  Moyo (3), Muchinguri, Mupfumira, Mumbengegwi, Chikukwa, Dinha, Shamu, Masuku, Mutsvangwa (2), Musabayana, Mathema, Ncube (1),  Ncube  (2), Mushohwe, Marapira)
  • Six are Mnangagwa allies and/or coup plotters (Chinamasa, Moyo, Kazembe, Hungwe, Matemadanda, Shiri (supportive of land reform, participated in 2nd Congo War, and seems to have some feelings against Mugabe))
  • Four are former bourgeoisie in communications, travel, and mining, among others (Mutsvangwa (anti-Mugabe), Bimha, Makupe, Mavima)
  • Two are academics (Murwira, Nyathi)
  • One is part of mining bourgeoisie (Chitando)
  • One is part of telecom bourgeoisie (Mandiwanzira)
  • One works in the insurance and pension industry (Togarepi)
  • One is a consultant (Malinga)

This does not look like a collection of people who will help the Zimbabwean proletariat but rather one that will help the Zimbabwean bourgeoisie and their friends! Capitalism will win out here, and the cries of the oppressed will be drowned out in money, with the technocrats getting a hand in this, along with the imperialist faction of the Zanu-PF represented by the partisans. This is not something that Zimbabwe needs. Mnangagwa will hear what he wants to hear, and the “reform” of the economy will lead to ruined livelihoods as suffering increases beyond its current level.

In comes the IMF

According to the South African press, the IMF is sending officials to Zimbabwe to help it “design policies to revive the economy” with a statement that Mnangagwa “is putting in place his Cabinet and we stand ready to work closely with the country and the staff should help us to make progress in that direction.” It was also noted that Mnangagwa “appointed a new acting finance minister and announced a three-month amnesty window for the return of public funds illegally stashed abroad by individuals and companies.” The IMF is probably smiling that the Mugabe family, which the white propaganda outlet named VOA called the “Mugabe clan,” is not really in political life as directly as they once we and see an opening.

Mnangagwa claims he is aiming to “revive the economy” of Zimbabwe, at least from the mouth of his supporters, like the new minister Mutsvangwa, head of the Zimbabwe War Veterans group. This same person claimed that Mnangagwa talked with the opposition (Tsvangarai’s MDC-T) but that “the MDC, through their leader Tsvangirai, turned around and said he wanted to give him people of his choice.” It was also noted how Zimbabwean white farmers saw Mugabe’s exit as a positive and Mnangagwa’s rise seeming to benefit them, perhaps as part of push for “reform.” Likely Amnesty will cheer too. Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa declared, after smearing Mugabe in typical imperialist fashion, that “Mugabe’s departure offers Zimbabwe an opportunity to make a break from its past.” [5]

Even more, the country has foreign debt that the Zimbabwean bourgeoisie in the construction industry complained about. So the IMF is in luck. Perhaps the new government will come begging to the IMF (and World Bank) for help, allowing them to shape the economy and screw over the Zimbabwean proletariat. Any attempt to do so should be strongly opposed by comrades anywhere, especially in the West.

Where do we go from here?

The Extraordinary Congress of the Zanu-PF is coming later this month. Already the “party is no longer going to have another Congress in 2019” with the upcoming Congress “expected to endorse the recall of former President Robert Mugabe and election of President Emmerson Mnangagwa as the First Secretary and President made by the Central Committee on November 19” and this Congress is “expected to uphold the decision by the Central Committee to expel G40 members such as former First Lady Grace Mugabe, Mr Phelekezela Mphoko, Professor Jonathan Moyo, Mr Saviour Kasukuwere, Dr Ignatius Chombo, Dr Walter Mzembi, Mr Kudzanai Chipanga, Ms Mandi Chimene, Mrs Letina Undenge and many others.” Additionally, it is “expected to discuss the state of the party, the economy and preparations for next year’s harmonised elections, including the manifesto for the polls.” The Herald added that after the coup, “the ruling party is now shifting its attention to dealing with economic challenges that are affecting the generality of the Zimbabwean population.”

The current Congress may feature Mugabe, although this is highly unlikely. It may even be time to say that the Zanu-PF is something that the Zimbabwean proletariat should abandon, but not exactly yet as Mnangagwa has only begun his term. Hopefully it is not as bad as I’ve outlined, but I am not completely optimistic in this realm whatsoever. I really am not. I can’t think of any forces that stand with the Zimbabwean proletariat. I wish for the best but will brace for the worst.

Notes

[1] Godfrey Marawanyika, “Zimbabwe President Changes Cabinet After One Day,” Bloomberg News, Dec 2, 2017.

[2] Emelia Sithole-Matarise, “Zimbabwe swears in first post-Mugabe cabinet,” Reuters, Dec 4, 2017.

[3] Cristina Krippahl (with Reuters, AFP), “Zimbabwean cabinet sworn in amid criticism,”  DW, Dec 4, 2017.

[4]  Eddie Cross, “How Mnangagwa deceived the world: Zimbabwe emerges as military junta,” BizNews, Dec 4, 2017; Key ‘coup’ leaders appointed to Zimbabwe cabinet,”

[5] Deprose Muchena, “Zimbabwe: Robert Mugabe’s legacy,” Amnesty International, Dec 4, 2017.

A “corrective measure”?: Zimbabwe, Black power, and Western imperialism

From an article in The Herald titled “No Military Takeover in Zimbabwe” The article adds the following caption about this photo: “free movement of people in the Capital city as the Army calls for peace and calmness.”

Recently the bourgeois media has been up in arms over Zimbabwe. But what is it all about? What is going on? After one user asked what was going on, writing that “there is a decided lack of information, but things don’t look very good. Robert Mugabe has made significant efforts to keep Zimbabwe free of domination by Western imperialism and Western capitalism. Further information would be appreciated,” some comrades on /r/communism (obviously tarred as a “rush to defend Mugabe” by anti-communist subreddits like /r/enoughcommiespam and /r/Zimbabwe) responded by saying that “Mugabe, in this particular gistorical moment…should be defended it possible and the coup opposed at costs,” while others said that this is an “AFRICOM coup basically” and one said that “doesn’t matter who comes next. If he does not accept wall street to buy up the country pretty much, there will be a coup.”  [1] As I publish this, I read that the Zimbabwe Communist Party welcomed the military takeover by saying that it is “the result of the chaotic state of Zimbabwe as a whole and the ruling party, Zanu (PF), in particular. The extravagant lifestyles of the ruling elite contrast sharply with the extreme poverty of the majority of the Zimbabwean people.” Without knowing the full context of these statement or anything else about the Zimbabwe Communist Party (I only just heard of it), I cannot respond to this statement with any more than what I just said. I will look into the Zimbabwe Communist Party for a future update on this post, as noted at the end of this article I was going to put together anyway.

What the bourgeois media has “reported”

Let’s first give a brief overview of what the bourgeois media is claiming is happening. Al Jazeera, a Qatari pro-terroristic outlet, declared that “there is growing uncertainty in Zimbabwe…the army says this is not a military takeover…But as yet, there is no official word from the government or the Mugabe family as to their whereabouts” with South Africa’s Jacob Zuma apparently talking to Mugabe who “told him he is safe but confined to his home” and with an “apparent bid to expand the Mugabe dynasty” as they put since “President Mugabe sacked Emmerson Mnangagwa, an ally of the army, on November 8” with his wife Grace “eyeing” the position. [2] The article goes on to say that the pro-Western #ThisFlag “called for calm and the protection of all Zimbabweans following the army’s takeover of power” while Temba Mliswa, an independent member of parliament, supported the military’s moves, the African Union (AU) chief “said the political crisis in Zimbabwe “seems like a coup”,” humanitarian imperialist Amnesty International seemed to take a non-stand but would definitely cheer when Mugabe was gone, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) said it hopes the situation “will not lead to unconstitutional changes of government,” and Lovemore Chinoputsa of the MDC supported the move as did the Victor Matemadanda, the leader of war veterans (Zimbabwe’s War Veterans Association) urged that “Robert Gabriel Mugabe…be recalled from his role as the president and first secretary of ZANU-PF.” Additionally, several Zanu-PF individuals were reportedly detained , the Zimbabwe reportedly “seized state TV and blocked off access to government offices,” with war veterans claiming that “Mugabe has betrayed the revolution.” Another article they published added that “Major General SB Moyo…denied that the army was carrying out a coup…[as] tanks surrounded parliamentary and presidential buildings” while claiming that “for many the first priority was to head to the banks” and noting that “critics of Mugabe” (who are Western-backed) don’t like the military because it favors Mugabe and the Zanu-PF. [3]

Other bourgeois media have described what they say is happenning. BBC held a similar line to Al Jazeera, claiming that the army’s move may “be a bid to replace Mr Mugabe with his sacked deputy,” noting that China “says it is closely watching the situation” closely, claiming that that”So this military action is the old guard reasserting its authority,” and saying that Gen Chiwenga was a friend of Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was recently “sacked” by Mugabe. [4] Anti-imperialism.org partially reviews other media outlets, noting that Mugabe and his wife are apparently “secured under house arrest,” The Guardian continues to support “the coup overwhelmingly [with] hands begin[ning] to point to british/south african collusion” while the Zimbabwean bourgeoisie complained “of political uncertainty just before coup” as claimed by the Zimbabwe Independent (opposition rag), the New York Times penning an “article in explicit support of the coup leaders…while endorsing the ascension of a 75 year old man, older than the oldest amerikan president-elect.” They added that

…the politics of peripheral states are rarely their own, and the likelihood of imperial machinations at work in the current powerplay are high. The pro-monopoly capital leanings of Mnangagwa suggest he could be supported by either the u.$. or uk…As is often said in military coups, the commander in charge has expressed vague platitudes of democracy and constitutionalism as the justification for the move, stating that civil order will be restored shortly…It is unclear what role the UN and AU is to play in this transition, but given recent threats by the UN sanction-regime which has been harassing regional governments suspected of undermining the blockade imposed over the DPRK, it is clear nothing good will come of it…The confusion caused by misinformation promoted by coup leaders, along with the imperialists in their premature victory-lap, has created a difficult scenario for getting reliable information from the country.

The Washington Post held a similar line. They bellowed that Mugabe led “the country from the triumph of its independence struggle to economic collapse,” with now, the “world’s oldest head of state becam[ing] a prisoner of the military he once commanded” and basically endorsing the coup my saying the military’s move “appears to end one of Africa’s most controversial political dynasties while raising questions about what might come next.” [5] They go on to gush that “this appears to be a watershed moment for Zimbabwe and southern Africa, which have suffered from the tumult of Mugabe’s reign…the events bore all the signs of a coup…the commander of Zimbabwe’s military forces, Gen. Constantino Chiwenga, made the move as a struggle over who will succeed the country’s elderly leader came to a head. Mugabe…in recent years, as Mugabe’s presidency was marred by allegations of corruption, nepotism and repression…In recent weeks, there have been signs of an increased sensitivity to criticism of the government.” One article linked to is by the Associated Press quotes the US State Department as saying that the murderous empire is “concerned by recent actions undertaken by Zimbabwe’s military forces,” calling for restraint but has been in contact with “Zimbabwe’s military [coup plotters] and foreign affairs ministry.” [6]

With Reuters saying that the military swept “into power,” CBS News declaring that “who will rule Zimbabwe should become clearer in the coming days,” and the Washington Post editorial board declaring that “his removal could “pull a once-prospering country from the ditch into which Mr. Mugabe drove it” as they endorsed the coup by saying “some reports suggest that Mr. Mnangagwa, if put in power, could reverse some of the regime’s worst mistakes…the end of Mr. Mugabe’s rule offers a fragile opportunity to rescue an African country — but only if it does not lead to the installation of another strongman.” [7] Then there’s other media, like USA Today, NPR, saying that Mugabe’s tenure recently has “been marked by human rights abuses and economic collapse” or ” international alienation and economic collapse,” others calling him a tyrant and “authoritarian.” Some in the Bloomberg News said that the coup would extend Zimbabwe’s “reign of terror” with  generals “paved the way for the dictator to be replaced by one of his henchmen” in the mind of bourgeois scholar Eli Lake, and othersclaiming that Mugabe transformed from “his transformation from a national liberation icon to an autocrat.” [8] Other media said that the coup would be opening a “door to freedom” and end “economic collapse.”

What does Zimbabwe’s state media say?

They quote a statement by the Zanu-PF’s Youth Executive League saying that “we will not sit idly and fold our hands whilst cheap potshots and threats are made against the legitimate and popularly elected leader…Robert Gabriel Mugabe.” They add that “we are, however, totally against the bulk of the press statement issued by General Chiwenga yesterday” and believe that this is not a view held by the whole military. They end by saying that “it is our country and future at stake and we will not let any individual military man interfere with the leader of the party and legitimately voted President of this country Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe…We, therefore, call upon all the youth of Zimbabwe regardless of their political affiliation, race, gender or creed to stand up and be counted when the time comes.” A report seemingly indicate that there is “business as usual” in Haare, Zimbabwe’s capital. Other articles showed that the electoral act in the country will soon be amended, that some support (like the war vets) the military’s position while opposing the views of the Zanu-PF’s Youth Executive League. Then they  reprint a speech by the Zimbabwean military on national tv, the one often quoted by bourgeois media. It should be quoted in full here (bolding is my emphasis with two links added in the beginning):

Fellow Zimbabweans, following the address we made on 13 November 2017 which we believe our main broadcaster, ZBC and The Herald were directed not to publicise, the situation in our country has moved to another level. Firstly, we wish to assure the nation that His Excellency, The President, of the Republic of Zimbabwe, and Commander in Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Cde R.G. Mugabe and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed. We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice. As soon as we have accomplished our mission we expect that the situation will return to normalcy. To the civil servants, as you are aware, there is a plan by the same individuals to influence the current purging which is place in the political sphere to the civil service. We are against that act of injustice and we intend to protect every one of you against that. To the judiciary, the measures underway are intended to ensure that, as an independent arm of the State, you are able to exercise your independent authority without fear of being obstructed as has been the case with this group of individuals. To our Members of Parliament, your legislative role is of paramount importance for peace and stability in this country and it is our desire that a dispensation is created that allows you to serve your respective political constituencies according to democratic tenets. To the generality of the people of Zimbabwe, we urge you to remain calm and limit unnecessary movement. However, we encourage those who are employed and those with essential business in the city to continue their normal activities as usual. Our wish is that you enjoy your rights and freedoms and that we return our country to a dispensation that allows for investment, development and prosperity that we all fought for and for which many of our citizens paid the supreme sacrifice. To political parties, we urge you to discourage your members from engaging in violent behaviour. To the youths, we call upon you to realise that the future of this country is yours. Do not be enticed with dirty coins of silver, be disciplined and remain committed to the ethos and values of this great nation. To all Churches and religious organisations in Zimbabwe, we call upon you and your congregations to pray for our country and preach the gospel of love, peace, unity and development. To both our people and the world beyond our borders, we wish to make it abundantly clear that this is not a military takeover of Government. What the Zimbabwe Defence Forces is doing is to pacify a degenerating political, social and economic situation in our country which if not addressed may result in violent conflict. We call upon all the war veterans to play a positive role in ensuring peace, stability and unity in the country. To members of the Defence Forces, all leave is cancelled and you are all to return to your barracks with immediate effect. To our respected traditional leaders, you are the custodians of our culture, customs, traditions and heritage and we request you to provide leadership and direction to your communities for the sake of unity and development in our country. To the other Security Services, we urge you to cooperate for the good of our country. Let it be clear that we intend to address the human security threats in our country. Therefore any provocation will be met with an appropriate response. To the media, we urge you to report fairly and responsibly. Thank you.

So other than not calling this a military coup, they seem to be calling for allies across Zimbabwean society, including those in the defense forces, and trying to “restore order” by removing the “bad people” from the government, then threatening anyone that challenges their attempt for order. This should make anyone wary, but it seems to sound like an intra-party struggle which is why the “opposition” is not happy.

Then there’s a reprinted speech by General Chiwenga. It is as follows with bolding as needed on certain aspects:

Let us begin by quoting the Constitution of this Country particularly the preamble which speaks of “Exalting and extolling the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives during the Chimurenga/Umvukela and national liberation struggles and honouring our forebears and compatriots who toiled for the progress of our country”. It is with humility and a heavy heart that we come before you to pronounce the indisputable reality that there is instability in Zanu-PF today and as a result anxiety in the country at large. Zimbabwe’s history is hinged on the ideals of the revolution dating back to the First Chimurenga where thousands of people perished. Zanu-PF is the political Party that waged the Second Chimurenga for our independence; the struggle that caused the loss of over 50 thousand lives of our people; the struggle in which many Zimbabweans, in one way or the other, sacrificed and contributed immensely for our liberation. Many of these gallant fighters still live-on with the spirited hope of seeing a prosperous Zimbabwe but also the hope of leaving behind inheritance and legacy for posterity. It is pertinent to restate that the Zimbabwe Defence Forces remain the major stockholder in respect to the gains of the liberation struggle and when these are threatened we are obliged to take corrective measures. Clearly, Zanu-PF having mainly been the only Party that has ruled this country since Independence, it had become a household name to most Zimbabweans across political divide. Therefore, it is common cause that any instability within the Party naturally impacts on their social, political and economic lives, accordingly, there is distress, trepidation and despondence within the nation. Our peace-loving people who have stood by their Government and endured some of the most trying social and economic conditions ever experienced are extremely disturbed by what is happening within the ranks of the national revolutionary Party. What is obtaining in the revolutionary Party is a direct result of the machinations of counter revolutionaries who have infiltrated the Party and whose agenda is to destroy it from within. It is saddening to see our revolution being hijacked by agents of our erstwhile enemies who are now at the brink of returning our country to foreign domination against which so many of our people perished. The famous slogan espoused by His Excellency, The President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Cde R. G. Mugabe: “Zimbabwe will never be a colony again” is being seriously challenged by counter revolutionary infiltrators who are now effectively influencing the direction of the Party. It is our strong and deeply considered position that if drastic action is not taken immediately, our beloved country Zimbabwe is definitely headed to becoming a neo-colony again. The current purging and cleansing process in Zanu-PF which so far is targeting mostly members associated with our liberation history is a serious cause for concern to us in the Defence Forces. As a result of squabbling within the ranks of Zanu-PF, there has been no meaningful development in the country for the past 5 years. The resultant economic impasse has ushered-in more challenges to the Zimbabwean populace such as cash shortages and rising commodities prices. Our revolutionary path is replete with conduct and rebellion by people who have attempted to destroy the revolution from within. The formation of FROLIZI, the attempt to remove the late Cde Chitepo from his position of Chairman at the Mumbwa bogus Congress in 1973, the Nhari-Badza rebellion, Ndabaningi Sithole rebellion soon after the death of Cde Chitepo, the Vashandi 1 and 2 as well as the rebellion that led to the death of the late ZIPRA Commander, Cde Alfred Nikita Mangena, among others are cases in point. Therefore, the current shenanigans by people who do not share the same liberation history of Zanu-PF Party are not a surprise to us. But, what is significant to us and the generality of Zimbabweans is to remember that all these rebellions were defused by the military, but at no point did the military usurp power. We must remind those behind the current treacherous shenanigans that when it comes to matters of protecting out revolution, the military will not hesitate to step in. ZANU PF’s standing political virtues are a product of faithful adherence to the founding values, decorum, discipline and revolutionary protocol in the ruling Party. Party orders were strictly adhered to and whatever differences existed, they were resolved amicably and in the ruling Party’s closet. Unfortunately since the turn of 2015, Zanu-PF’s traditional protocol and procedures have been changed with a lot of gossiping, backbiting and public chastisement being the order of the day. Indeed the Party is undoing its legacy built over the years. While our people may be persuaded to take what is going on in Zanu-PF as internal political matters in that Party, the truth remains that Zanu-PF’s conduct and behaviour as a ruling Party has a direct impact on the lives of every citizen; hence all of us regardless of political affiliation are affected by the Party’s manner of doing business. From a security point of view we cannot ignore the experiences of countries such as Somalia, DRC, Central Africa Republic and many others in our region where minor political differences degenerated into serious conflict that had decimated the social, political and economic security of ordinary people. Section 212 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe mandates the Zimbabwe Defence Forces to protect Zimbabwe, its people, its national security and interests and its territorial integrity and to uphold this Constitution. Among other security threats that are coming out of what is obtaining in Zanu-PF are there reckless utterances by politicians denigrating the military which are causing despondency within the rank and file. Further, we not with concern the attempts by some politicians to drive a wedge between the security services for their own selfish interests. This is unacceptable. We take great exception to this behaviour. There is only one Commander-in-Chief, His Excellency The President, Head of State and Government and Commander in Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Cde R. G. Mugabe. The military in an institution whose roles cut across the wider spectrum of Government support functions in the form of Military Aid to Civil Power and Military Aid to Civil Ministries, which are roles derived from Defence Instruments. Therefore we want to state here and now that the history of our revolution cannot be rewritten by those who have not been part of it. Having said that we strongly urge the Party: To stop reckless utterances by politicians from the ruling Party denigrating the military which is causing alarm and despondency within the rank and file. The current purging of which is clearly targeting members of the party with a liberation background must stop forthwith. The known counter revolutionary elements who have fermented the current instability in the Party must be exposed and fished out. As the Party goes for the Extra-Ordinary Congress, must go with equal opportunity to exercise their democratic rights. Comrades and friends, ladies and gentlemen, we remain committed to protecting our legacy and those bent on high-jacking the revolution will not be allowed to do so. Further, we must understand that the freedoms that we enjoy today were as a result of supreme sacrifice by some of our country men and women and this must not be taken for granted. Let us remove this air of uncertainty and allow Zimbabweans to enjoy their freedoms and rights as enshrined in the national Constitution.

Along with the attacks on Zanu-PF policies for the past few years, what he is saying again seems to indicate this is an intra-party struggle, specifically to rid “traitorous” elements from the Zanu-PF. Does that mean they oppose Mugabe sacking Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa? Even Liberation News of the Party of Socialism and Liberation is scratching their heads about what is happening (although their article on this is a great read). After all, he has, along with other political players “positioning themselves for the day Mugabe either steps down or dies,” with the former reportedly envisioning

“cooperating with Tsvangirai to lead a transitional government for five years with the tacit backing of some of Zimbabwe’s military and Britain. This unity government would pursue a new relationship with thousands of white farmers who were chased off in violent seizures of land approved by Mugabe in the early 2000s. The farmers would be compensated and reintegrated…Tsvangirai, a 65-year-old former union leader who enjoys broad popular support, told Reuters in an interview in June he would not rule out a coalition with political opponents, such as Mnangagwa…According to the intelligence reports, Mugabe got wind of Mnangagwa’s ideas about white farmers earlier this year…The intelligence reports say that some of Mugabe’s army generals are starting to swallow their disdain for Tsvangirai, who, as a former union leader rather than liberation veteran, has never commanded the respect of the military…The tipping point came in 2000 when Mugabe approved radical land reforms that encouraged veterans from the fight for liberation to occupy some 4,000 white-owned commercial farms…The tipping point came in 2000 when Mugabe approved radical land reforms that encouraged veterans from the fight for liberation to occupy some 4,000 white-owned commercial farms…According to the intelligence files, Mnangagwa’s overtures to Tsvangirai and white farmers became apparent in early 2015 amid bitter strife within the ZANU-PF party…According to the intelligence reports, Mutsvangwa is a middleman between various parties involved in a possible coalition government…Senior figures in Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF…have acknowledged…that white farmers should be compensated for their losses two decades ago, although talks with farmers have yet to produce any major breakthrough” [9]

How all this matters to

I’ve written before on this blog about how Zimbabwe is under attack, meaning that it is a duty of comrades to engage in international solidarity with these states and any others that stand “against the existing social and political order of things.” I also wrote about how “Black nationalist Robert Mugabe led the liberation struggle of the then-Maoist Zanu-PF in Zimbabwe, alongside the more moderate Joshua Nkomo’s Zapu-PF,” and in the process he did not go to “the US asking for help to fight the white colonists.” I also noted how The Herald honored the “DPRK’s efforts at self-defense on its islands, with its power stations, and continuing to build their form of socialism based on the masses,” that Zimbabwe was one of the countries at the conference on Palestine in Tehran with Jacob Francis Mudenda, the current Speaker of Zimbabwe’s National Assembly, condemning “Zionist Israel for construction of illegal settlements, [and] praised the role of Iran in the region, and reaffirmed Zimbabwe’s support for Palestine until it turned “into a full-fledged and established country.”” With Trump’s administration, he acts as a “bully for Western capitalists to gain new markets,” with Zimbabwe remaining “under imperialist assault,” continuing what happened under Obama’s administration. This isn’t a surprise since “enemies” of empire with a leader who described Fidel Castro’s death as the lose of a “farewell revolutionary [saying]…We shall always remember you as our own in the same way as Cubans will do so and that is the spirit that brings me and my delegation here” and allowing Mengistu to flee into exile there. Finally, in my imagined scenario for Cuba, I noted how NED described Zimbabwe (along with Burma, DPRK, and Cuba) as a “harsh dictatorship” which is laughable.

But there is more to this story. Already we know that every day the bourgeois media in the West “concocts another story” about the “faults” of Mugabe with human rights imperialist orgs joining in, with the “revolutionary state of Zimbabwe is rocked by political turmoil because the neoliberal opposition leads to polarization, not due to the policies of Mugabe and the ruling Zanu-PF party.” Back in February I further noted that Zimbabwe’s history dates back to years before “the first White imperialist would be out of their womb” and that various societies “constituted a developed (and advanced) Zimbabwean culture lasted a total of a thousand years” while by 1889,

the British South African Company came to Zimbabwe, later naming it “Rhodesia” after British imperialist Cecil Rhodes. Not only did this name override the indigenous name of Zimbabwe…but it showed that the age of imperialist exploitation was at hand…This exploitation went beyond the erasure of culture. In the economy of Southern Africa and Rhodesia under British colonialism, Africans were treated as cheap labor…In the years that followed, the British South African Company continued to control the British colony of Rhodesia…[by 1923] with the settlers with official power, the British monarch in the colony itself [was]…represented by the governor and there were “British errand boys” who lived as White settlers…the “rich and fertile land” was occupied by White settlers and the “sandy, semi-dry land” given to Black Africans…[by] 1957, a chapter of African National Congress (ANC) organized in the country, led by Joshua Nkomo, with the chapter joining the ANC in South Africa…In the 1960s, the anti-colonial struggle in Zimbabwe heated up…[a] conflict between Zapu and Zanu erupted. At times it became violent. While some may be included to do so, it is wrong to discount the Zanu group wholesale…Mozambique, Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia, and Angola, supported the guerillas with training areas and pitched camps…As a result of Chinese support, Zanu was transformed from a splinter organization into a full-fledged participant of the liberation struggle…With financial interests in White-ruled Africa, Africans continued to be oppressed by about two hundred British firms in companies led by a small “White group of capitalists””

In the next article of the series I noted how during the revolutionary struggle in Zimbabwe, “Zapu and the ANC were close to the Soviet Union, Zanu was supported by Beijing, allowing the revolutionary group to prosecute a war of liberation, with Chinese aid as a contributing factor to victory.” By 1974, Sithole was pushed out of the leadership, “with Mugabe put in his place, and fully taking control of Zanu after the death of Herbert Chitepo in 1975.” The rest is history:

…Mugabe, unlike Nkomo, was a radical nationalist and he opposed settlement with the White settler government and that he remained suspicious of numerous commanders of the armed military wing, ZANLA…In 1979, the liberation war, militarily at least, seemed to be coming to an end…Mugabe was very open to the changes to come in the future….In 1979, when military victory seemed in view, two new African leaders betrayed the Zimbabwean liberation struggle. Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and Samora Machel of Mozambique…demanded that Mugabe’s Zanu’s guerrillas forces…could not use their countries as bases to launch attacks on the UDI government. This forced Mugabe to the negotiating table. If these liberation forces had been allowed to win militarily, there is no doubt that Zimbabwe would have been a different country…the Lancaster Agreement…signed on December 17, 1979…include[d a] phased British withdrawal, but the nation was reverted to colonial status before it was declared independent in April 1980…In April 1980, in elections allowed under the Lancaster Agreement, Mugabe became the Prime Minister of the free nation, the Republic of Zimbabwe…Surviving two assassination attempts by White Zimbabweans during the campaign, since he seemed “terrifying” due to his comments during the war and Marxist outlook, he took more a conciliatory approach once in office…In Zimbabwe, such neocolonialism was put in place in a manner which hurt the well-being of the populace. During Mugabe’s time as prime minister of Zimbabwe, he lived in highly fortified residences, and Zimbabwe received Western aid in hopes of pacifying it…Mugabe and the Zanu-PF did not do this willingly. For one, as 100,000 White settlers remained in the country, they commanded the “commerce, finance, industry, mining, and large-scale agriculture” industries, Mugabe tried to create a socially democratic state, rather than a socialist one, helping the Chinese gain markets for their companies…there was a “real threat of a right-wing military coup by the White minority still in Zimbabwe”…This cozying up to the West…led to military material from Europeans going to the new independent government…by the 1990s, the situation in Zimbabwe was changing…As a government that was short on cash, the Zanu-PF government began an IMF Economic Structural Adjustment Program (ESAP)…leading to a program of austerity which hurt the populace for years to come, while also weakening the government…This IMF prescribed program, lasting from 1991 to 1995, resulted in scarce foreign exchange, destruction of domestic industry, many consumer goods became unobtainable, and thousands of civil servants fired, but Mugabe was arguably forced into this position

In the next article in my series on Zimbabwe, I commented on how starting in 1966 the “neo-colonial chains, of the post-independence period, began to be broken” wth the Zanu-PF government moving away from ESAP. By 1997 the

chains holding Zimbabwe to Britain were completely snapped. The government began to seize land owned by a “handful of white farmers”…After failing to undertake the IMF’s “reforms” as quickly as they wanted, the assurances the British government made in 1979…were rejected by the New Labour government controlled by Tony Blair…In 1998, Zimbabwe snubbed the Western capitalists yet again. With his land program, resistance to IMF programs by adopting Black nationalist economic measures hostile to the West, and support for the new government of Laurent Kabila in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)…the West was steaming…By 1999, opposition formed from angry White farmers whose land was expropriated and redistributed justly to Black families. This included the formation of the Movement for Democratic Change or MDC…The boldness of the Zimbabwean government led to anger from Western capitalist governments and the capitalist class for years to come…While Mugabe is clearly an African nationalist not a doctrinaire Marxist and the policies of Zanu-PF are socially democratic, the Western capitalists would not relent in their assault…The redistribution of White farms to the Zimbabwean populace, even as every White farmer was allowed to control individual, single farms…was begun in a way that shocked Western capitalists…The White farmers who used their money and wealth to try and stop the Zanu-PF in the ownership of natural resources by the Zimbabwean populace, and reclaiming White land for indigenous Black farmers, were not alone…[in the mid-2000s] the Zimbabwean parliament passed a law to move the fast-track land redistribution effort forward. The law, which nationalized land that had been redistributed…was a victory for Black nationalism…[in 2009 with power-sharing with the MDC,] Mugabe still refused Western demands he “step aside,” knowing that it would let neo-colonialism back into the country…six years later [in 2016], Zimbabwe got past this hurdle and the government nationalized the mines…even a Chinese company challenged [this], showing that the country is not a “colony” of China

In my final article in my series on Zimbabwe I noted how in 2013 there was an election where the “chains of neo-colonialism were broken” with Black nationalism again victorious with proposals including one that “prevented legal challenges to the land redistribution program” approved by a wide margin, along with a new Constitution for the Republic of Zimbabwe which is not only

socially democratic, but it calls for good governance, national unity, fostering (and respecting) fundamental rights, fair and “Pan-African” foreign policy. Additionally, it calls for rapid and equitable development, empowerment, food security, “gender balance,” and fair regional representation…It declares the country will help children, youth, elderly, and people with disabilities, favoring vets of the liberation struggle, and have reasonable work and labor policies. The Constitution also says there will be promotion of free and gender equal education, provision of social welfare, legal aid, and so on. It…says that every person has a right to life, meaning that there are limits on the death penalty, and right of personal liberty. The document also outlines rights of arrested persons, the right to dignity, the right to personal security, the right to privacy, the right to freedom of association, and freedom of conscience. Additionally, it talks about the expanse of labor rights, certain property rights, environmental rights, right to pension benefits, and a right to education. Importantly, to protect it from imperialist subversion, it says that there will limits on rights, especially during a public emergency. One can say Zimbabwe is a “dictatorship” all they want, but this Constitution shows that such claims are baloney since this document is many times more progressive than the guarantees of [the US Constitution]

I also wrote about a Zanu-PF manifesto that argued in favor of “land reform programme and other empowerment policies,” along with “party promises to deepen unity, security, independence, and respect for liberation,”  saying they will not be “stopped by foreign imperialists,” that the state should be used as a “”revolutionary instrument” to reclaim land from White settlers and redistribute it to the Black populace,” and that the “Zanu-PF, representing the interests of the country’s national bourgeoisie, including Black farmers and wealthy Black investors, continued to look to China.” I added that

Mugabe said that he wanted to expand his “indigenization” policy, while China remained a major international supporter of the country…there was even a specific effort to warn South Africa to not emulate Zimbabwe’s form of land reform…Grace [Mugabe, Robert Mugabe’s wife] has a prominent place in the ZanuPF, which is good to fight off such pathetic assertions by the Western media and shows that she is not sitting on the sidelines…Ewan Mawaire’s “ThisFlag” movement…is clearly Western-backed and another form of imperial destablization…the two countries [China and Zimbabwe] still have very friendly relations…2017, has already been eventful for Zimbabwe. For one, the IMF declared that more reforms were needed and Tsvangirai…claimed to look “beyond Mugabe,” whatever that means…there was a push for a more united Zanu-PF…Zanu-PF is focusing on the 2018 elections…it should concern people little if Mugabe has a person to continue strong black nationalism and anti-imperialism after he passes from this world, or not…Let us look…to see the road ahead to the 2018 elections as what lies in store for Zimbabwe under the Trump Administration not known

Now it has been nine months since I wrote that article. I won’t venture to summarize what has happened in the nine months since I wrote my last piece. However, I will say that it seems that a power struggle is going on in Zimbabwe without a doubt. It does not seem to be a coup at this time. I don’t say that because I believe in the coup plotters and I definitely do not believe the narrative pushed by the bourgeois media. I stand by what I wrote in the past on this subject and what I wrote on reddit last month, with links removed:

“I know that Zimbabwe has a black bourgeoisie and that the Zanu-PF is not a communist party. However, Mugabe (and the Zanu-PF) has served as a powerful force to resist Western imperialism, especially with his land redistribution program which assisted the black masses in Zimbabwe. Lest us not forget that the Chinese strongly support Zimbabwe due to their history of supporting the Zanu-PF (as did the Cubans) during the revolt against the British colonial oppressors, while the Zapu-PF were supported by the Soviets. By the later 1990s, the neo-colonial chains in Zimbabwe were finally broken which the government had felt forced to keep, and/or went along with, in the aftermath of independence. At this current time, I think supporting the Zanu-PF is the best course of action even as the country is only socially democratic and not socialist.”

Adding to that, I do not think that the black bourgeoisie are souring on Mugabe as some seem to indicate. I think Mugabe even with his age is wise and a master politician to put it lightly. He is not a socialist or a Marxist anymore. However, without him or the Zanu-PF then Western capitalists would be smiling with glee. We can be critical of Zimbabwe as it is socially democratic but we should not abandon our solidarity with the Zimbabwean people or in this case the Zimbabwean government which is standing against Western imperialism and is duly elected by the populace. In coming days, I plan to, at some point, write an update of this article after it is clear if a coup took place or if it is an intra-party struggle within the Zanu-PF which seems more likely than not.

 

Notes

[1] Others wrote that “the main opposition within the country…isnt super involved in this…this seems to be more an internal power struggle within the ZANU-PF. The army has said before that they wouldn’t allow anyone who didn’t take part in the revolution war itself to lead the country next…I am more curious about if the accusations against the VP hold water…Whatever disagreements exist, its clear that the overwhelming majority of the people in Zimbabwe love their revolution.”

[2] Al Jazeera, “Zimbabwe: What’s happening?,” accessed Nov 15, 2017.

[3] Al Jazeera, “Zimbabwe army takes control but denies coup,” Nov 15, 2017.

[4] BBC News, “Zimbabwe crisis: Army takes over, says Mugabe is safe,” Nov 15, 2017.

[5] In Zimbabwe, an anxious wait to see if Mugabe will return after military takeover,” Washington Post, Nov. 15, 2017.

The Latest: Zimbabwe youth leader apologizes to army leaders,” Nov 15, 2017.

[7] Ed Cropley and Cris Chinaka, “Eyes on the ‘Crocodile’ as Zimbabwe Military Sweeps to Power,” Reuters (reprinted in US News & World Report), Nov 15, 2017; CBS News/AP, “U.S. monitoring “fluid” situation in Zimbabwe,” Nov 15, 2017; Washington Post Editorial Board, “What happens in Zimbabwe without Mugabe in power?,” Washington Post, Nov 15, 2017; Godwin Mangudya, “Zimbabwe grapples with new reality after military sidelines longtime President Robert Mugabe,” USA Today, Nov 15, 2017; Edyer Peralta,”Robert Mugabe: A Legacy Of Tyrannical Rule, Economic Ruin And International Isolation,” NPR, Nov 15, 2017; Robyn Dixon, “Zimbabwe military warns it will act against those who do not cooperate,” LA Times, Nov 15, 2017.

[8] Eli Lake, “A Half-Hearted Coup, Extending Zimbabwe’s Reign of Terror,” Bloomberg View, Nov 15, 2017; Leonid Bershidsky, “Zimbabwe’s Coup Is Nothing to Celebrate,” Bloomberg View, Nov 15, 2017; Mxolisi Ncube and Ryan Lenora Brown, “Amid apparent coup, Zimbabwe ponders a future without Mugabe,” Christian Science Monitor, Nov 15, 2017; Geoffrey York, “The Globe in Zimbabwe: End of Mugabe’s 37-year rule opens door to freedom,” The Globe and Mail, Nov 15, 2017; “Zimbabwe: Here’s what’s going on between President Robert Mugabe and the military,” ABC News, Nov 15, 2017; Todd Moss and Jeffrey Smith, “Robert Mugabe’s Inner Circle Implodes,” The Atlantic, Nov 15, 2017; Alastair Jamieson, “Zimbabwe army has Robert Mugabe in custody and seizes state TV,” NBC News, Nov 15, 2017; Jason Burke, “Zimbabwe army has Robert Mugabe in custody and seizes state TV,” The Guardian, Nov 15, 2017; Explosions, military tanks and soldiers on streets of Zimbabwe put Mugabe’s rule in doubt,” Washington Times, Nov 14, 2017; Tara John, “Rumors of a Coup Are Circling Around Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe. Here’s What We Know,” Time, Nov 14, 2017. The CBS/AP report quoted the US State Department as saying that “the United States does not take sides in matters of internal Zimbabwean politics and does not condone military intervention in political processes,” which is utter BS as anyone knows.

[9] Joe Brock and Ed Cropley, “Behind the scenes, Zimbabwe politicians plot post-Mugabe reforms,” Reuters, Sept 5, 2017.

 

Is Dennis Rodman a comrade?: A study of “basketball diplomacy” and DPRK solidarity

From Rodman’s recent visit to the DPRK, he gave them Trump’s book, The Art of the Deal

Editor’s note: This piece was, four days after it was published here, published on anti-imperialism.org in an earlier format. I have also changed all the words of “baseball” to “basketball” as the editors there pointed out, something I wouldn’t have caught despite reading the piece over. The version below adds some content but the two versions are relatively similar and I stand by both articles. The one paragraph about anti-imperialism.org has been eliminated, as it has been published there now. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so hasty!

Every day, the people of the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), derisively called “North Korea” in the West, is threatened or under attack. This was most recently on display in a hateful, bigoted, reactionary, and generally awful speech, to the UN General Assembly by Trump (called the orange menace in the rest of this article), accusing the DPRK of mass human rights violations, and threatening the world while he threatened the country and its leadership, which called “a band of criminals,” by declaring that in purported “self-defense,” the U.S. “will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea” and offensively calling Kim Jong-Un “Rocket Man,” a name due more to the orange menace’s obsessions than the Elton John song of the same name.If that isn’t enough, Muslim ban 3.0 includes the DPRK and Venezuela on the list, along with six other countries (Iran, Somalia, Chad, Libya, Syria, and Yemen), with increased restrictions on those from Venezuela and Iran specifically, which are predominantly Muslim.

The speech (similar to what Obama would have said), in which the orange menace outlined his “axis of evil” (DPRK, Iran, Syria, Cuba (implied), and Venezuela), was panned by drone-loving imperialist Dianne Feinstein, former Chief of Staff to Colin Powell, Col. Larry Wilkerson (in a sense), Richard Haass of the elitist Council of Foreign Relations, Ian Bremmer of the Eurasia Group, Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Daniel Larison in The American Conservative, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani who described the orange menace as a “rogue newcomer…to the world of politics,” Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, Rep. Ted Lieu of California, and Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer, along with worries from the elected leaders of Britain and France. [1] However, it was embraced by the hard-core Zionist President of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, who declared that he had “never heard a bolder or more courageous speech” in 30 years, conservative commentator Katie Pavilich who said that “it’s a new rhetorical day at the U.N. The next step is action toward real change and results,” and CIA propagandist David Ignatius who called the speech “conventional” even as he describes the orange menace as the “Great Disrupter.” Also, Rep. Ron DeSantis of Florida, Bret Baier of “Fox News,” former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, the orange menace’s cheerleader in the UK, Nigel Farage, Ivanka Trump, and North Carolina evangelist Franklin Graham, praised the speech, a typical show of support. After all, the speech was reportedly written by an ally of white nationalism, Stephen Miller, making sense it would get “cheers from the president’s xenophobic base.” All of this makes it no surprise that the envoy to the DPRK left “the room before Trump took to the podium and made more threats against Pyongyang,” since the orange menace rejected the possibility of an “Iran-style deal” with the DPRK, even supported by one GOP representative. Lest us forget, however, that both parties in the US “support militarism” because they “support the interests of the oligarchy” which is interested in “maintaining the empire.” Kim Jong-Un responded to Trump’s diatribe in a statement that the co-editor of Dissident Voice (usually anti-imperialist and strongly alternative to the bourgeois media) Kim Peterson grumbled about as “raising” tensions. The statement, which was carried in a KCNA article on September 22nd titled “Statement of Chairman of State Affairs Commission of DPRK” and referenced in another titled “Kim Jong Un Makes Statement” is strongly anti-imperialist and shows how the DPRK is standing up to US aggression:

The speech made by the U.S. Chief Executive in his maiden appearance on the UN arena in the prevailing serious circumstances, in which the situation on the Korean peninsula has been rendered tense as never before and is inching closer to a touch-and-go state, is arousing worldwide concern.  A certain degree of my guess was that he would make stereo-typed, prepared remarks a little different from what he used to utter in his office on the spur of the moment as he had to speak on the world’s largest official diplomatic stage.  But, far from making somewhat plausible remarks that can be helpful to defusing tension, he made unprecedented rude nonsense one has never heard from any of his predecessors. A frightened dog barks louder. I would like to advise Trump to exercise prudence in selecting words and to be considerate of whom he speaks to when making a speech in front of the world.  The mentally deranged behavior of the U.S. president openly expressing on the UN arena the unethical will to “totally destroy” a sovereign state, beyond the boundary of threats of regime change or overturn of social system, makes even those with normal thinking faculty reconsider discretion and composure.  His remarks remind me of such words as “political layman” and “political heretic” which were in vogue in reference to Trump during his presidential election campaign. After taking office Trump has rendered the world restless through threats and blackmail against all countries. He is unfit to hold the prerogative of supreme command of the military forces of a country, and he is surely a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire, rather than a politician.  His remarks which described the U.S. option through straightforward expression of his will have convinced me, rather than frightening or stopping me, that the path I chose is correct and that it is the one I have to follow to the last. Now that Trump has denied the existence of and insulted me and my country in front of the eyes of the world and made the most ferocious declaration of war in history that he would destroy the DPRK, we will consider with seriousness taking a corresponding, highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history. Action is the best option in treating the dotard who, hard of hearing, is uttering only what he wants to say. As a man representing the DPRK and upon the dignity and honor of my state and people and upon all my own, I will make the man holding the prerogative of supreme command of the U.S. pay dearly for his rude nonsense calling for totally destroying the DPRK.  This is not a rhetorical expression loved by Trump. I am now thinking hard about what response he could have expected from us when he allowed such eccentric words to trip off his tongue. Whatever Trump might have expected, he will face results beyond his expectation. I will surely and definitely tame the old lunatic of America with fire.

Dennis Rodman, a Black retired NBA star and “washed-up celebrity” by bourgeois media standards is sometimes at the brunt of attacks on the DPRK. Rabid nationalists who concoct and engage in these attacks have no life other than attacking anyone who “dishonors” the murderous empire like a pack of wild, rabid dogs foaming at the mouth, waiting for “the kill.”

In order to analyze if Dennis Rodman (called Rodman in the rest of this piece) is a “comrade” and/or define his role in concern to DPRK-US relations, it is worth explaining a bit about his life, political leanings, and past statements (and trips to) on the DPRK and its socialist leadership.

Rodman’s political views, life, and “basketball diplomacy”

The picture of Rodman and Kim Jong-Un the imperial apologists often use.

At age 3, Rodman was abandoned by his father, Philander Rodman Jr., who ran off with a “military chaplain’s daughter.” Since then, Rodman’s father has become the parents of 28 siblings (from four wives) and lives in the Philippines, proud of Rodman although he has slamming his father before for personal benefit, distorting the reality. [2] Due to his father’s abandonment, he lived with a white family in Oklahoma and, more recently, called his father a “friend.” As his “status” increased due to his sports career, and even after his retirement from the NBA, the family in Oklahoma felt that they had “lost a son” as he started “drinking hard and partying.” [3] His time in the NBA began in 1986 and ended in 2000, playing on Detroit, San Antonio, and Chicago teams. While this got him the nickname, “the worm,” he was remembered more for: calling out another all-star player Larry Birth, by saying he only had a lot of publicity because of his white skin, kicking a “cameraman in the groin” in 1997, having a rocky relationship with popstar Madonna, and general moodiness. [4] Apart from the police being called to Rodman’s house for loud parties 70 times between 2000 and 2006, having a flamboyant personality, to say the least, he has a varied “rap sheet,” which is common among such superstars, to be “cool.” These included accusations of felony burglary, assault (he pleaded guilty to “spousal battery” in 2004), sexual harassment, and was a raging alcoholic. [5] For this, he was in and out of rehab for years, booted for restaurants for his drunken behavior and “wild ways.” This included drinking heavily in the mostly “dry” DPRK, and general drunk driving. In my recent article about DPRK’s healthcare system, I pointed out that almost 79% of the population abstains from drinking, with stronger alcohol consumption among males than females, among those who drink. To top it off, Rodman even released his own vodka brand, and is as much a brand as the orange menace or even Naomi Klein.

Politically, Rodman leaned, not surprisingly, to “the right.” Apart from advocating for a Black pope at the Vatican, he stripped naked for an anti-fur campaign by the PR-savvy animal welfare group, PETA, and endorsed the orange menace for President in 2015. [6] Lest us forget that the Vatican, the mainstay of the Catholic Church, has cooperated with Nazi Germany’s butchers, purged Jews from their ranks, sometimes endorsed the fake doctrine of “creationism” rather than the evolving scientific theory of evolution, bestowed sanctity on “right-wing” religionists, suppressing liberation theology in favor of terror and destruction, and opposed abortion. They have also opposed stem cell research, divorce, and gay rights, all while sex predators lurk throughout the church hierarchy from the top to the bottom. [7] As for Rodman, he called the orange menace a “great friend for years” and said that “we don’t need a politician for president, we need a businessman like Mr. Trump,” not recognizing government and capitalist combines function differently. He also defended the horrid Hulk Hogan as “not” racist despite Hogan plainly saying the n-word and being generally a horrible person, for example, saying that those suffering from Hurricane Irma (in the US) are “crybabies.”

This puts Rodman’s “basketball diplomacy,” as he calls it, into context. In 2013, when he said he would go “anywhere’ he was needed, it was reported that Kim Jong-Un, who only become First Secretary of the Workers Party of Korea, marshal, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission the previous year, had told him the DPRK “doesn’t want to go to war with America” but only wanted to “talk basketball with Obama.” [8] At the same time, he said Kim Jong-Un should do him a “solid” and release Kenneth Bae. Hence, he positioned himself almost an unofficial ambassador trying to break ice between “hostile countries.” [9] Earlier that year, his trip to the DPRK questioned how much a neutral observer he was, after all. The trip was the brain child of Shaun Smith at VICE, who saw the DPRK as a “bizarre place.” This is in-keeping with their bigoted content, blasting onto TV and websites for their millions within their white hipster/dudebro audience, which has amplified white power in part by giving white nationalists, like Christopher Cantwell and Weev, a platform, and is generally imperialist in character, even as some could say it has “good people” on its staff, whoever they are. [10] While Rodman famously (in the minds of arch-imperialists) called Kim Jong-Un his “friend for life” and said he was a “friend [of]…the DPRK people,” the fact that the trip was filmed by VICE for a capitalistic, orientalist purpose questions his intentions. This is especially the case considering that he worked for the orange menace, then heading “the Celebrity Apprentice,” afterward, who called Rodman’s trip that year “smart,” which could be seen as an endorsement although he called the country the “last place on Earth I [would] want to go to” in May 2014. [11]

Rodman’s jingoistic feelings were evident, much more than Mohammad Ali who didn’t want to criticize US imperialism or be “misquoted” in the bourgeois media in his trip to the DPRK in 1995. Rodman declared that “it’s all very anti-American. North Korean kids are fed anti-American propaganda” since their birth. [12] Such statements raise red flags about if Rodman is even a comrade at all. Someone who believes in solidarity against imperialism would never, if they were earnest in their beliefs, say something as orientalist and jingoistic as Rodman, instead asserting that politicians of all levels in the DPRK are elected by the populace. His words are racist (yes, Black people CAN say things that are racist to those races they are “above” or are perceived to be “above” of). To use the words of Satre, racism is a form of violence that is self-justifying since it is “violence presenting itself as induced violence, counter-violence and legitimate defence” and is based in making individuals (in this case Koreans living in the DPRK) “sub-human.”

Later that year, Rodman displayed his “basketball diplomacy” once again. He called Kim Jong-Un a “good guy” who wants “to change” the DPRK, with Rodman hoping he could change Obama’s mind in favor of diplomacy rather than imperial aggression. [13] Playing on the idea of nuclear families, deeply rooted in the beliefs of traditionalists of the U.S., Rodman declared that Kim Jong-Un was a “good dad and has a beautiful family” after meeting his wife Ri Sol-Ju, and their newborn Ju-ae. As he continued to push the “sports angle” in the DPRK, sometimes journalists tagged along, but not when he sung the happy birthday song to Kim Jong-Un, angering U.S. imperialists to no end. [14] The following year, 2014, the U.S. Treasury Department reportedly investigated whether Rodman’s thousands of dollars in luxury gifts to the DPRK violated murderous sanctions. At the same time, the idea of a Hollywood movie on Rodman’s “relationship” with Kim Jong-Un was floated but seemed to die a quick death. [15]

Fast forward three years. A few months ago, in June 2017, Rodman said he wanted to bring sports to the DPRK, and nothing else, with some speculating if the orange menace was somehow behind the meeting. [16] This speculation is not completely unsubstantiated because Rodman is a “mutual acquaintance” of Trump and Kim Jong-Un. More significantly was what Rodman gave to Kim Jong-Un and his family: the orange menace’s The Art of the Deal, soap, Where’s Waldo? books, and autographed jerseys. [17] While the giving of soaps and other products might be harmless, and are mostly for Ju-ae one could presume, the gifting of The Art of the Deal, ghostwritten by Tony Schwartz, could be a book that, may, inform Kim Jong Un’s strategy in dealing with threats from the murderous empire. The ideas expressed in the book are that you either dominate or submit, you create or exploit fear or you succumb to it, with every encounter seen as a content to be the winner, and the conception of “immediate self-interest.” [18] While the description of the book so far shows that it could, for Kim Jong-Un and the DPRK’s leadership, give them insights into the orange menace’s “management style” (if he has one), there are further elements which would more likely be used by the DPRK: making “deals,” some of which are “great,” and having many options available, using available “leverage.” If giving the DPRK the orange menace’s book is somehow a secret strategy to make the country more capitalistic and individualistic, which isn’t beyond belief, then it didn’t work at all.

Back to Rodman. Near the end of June, he said he was glad that the young White college student Otto Frederick Warmbier, a jingoistic disrupter, was released. On the other side of the token, he bellowed that the country is more “modernized” now, with people not seeing the “good side” of the DPRK with Kim Jong-Un as a “friendly guy.” [19] In keeping with his idea of “neutrality,” he said that Kim Jong-Un and the orange menace need an open dialogue. Just last month he expanded on these remarks. He was quoted in the New York Daily News as saying that the DPRK was becoming a “24th century country” with a “homemade feel” for everything, and how his status as a “famous athlete” meant nothing there. [20] This is by far, the most positive thing he has said about the DPRK. In the interview quoted by the New York Daily News, in the literal magazine for wealth, Du Jour, Rodman described the DPRK’s people as taking pride in “simple things” (similar to what was recently said in PressTV) and people living through Kim Jong-Un, looking up to him. [21] Again, like his other statement, this was not “noble” as most of what he said (apart from the possibly orientalist statement about people living through Kim Jong-Un) has been said and recognized, mainly by those in solidarity with the DPRK, for many years. Adding to this, his seemingly “comradely” statement was thrown into question with his “clarification” earlier this month. He told a British TV show that he hardly ever talks politics with Kim Jong-Un, calling himself an “ambassador for sports” and declaring that he doesn’t love Kim Jong-Un but wants to “straighten things out for everyone to get along together.” [22] While this seems to be positive, let us consider that he still admires the orange menace despite the fact he admits that the orange menace can be a “little bit crazy sometimes.”

Ultimately, Rodman seems more like a partisan of the orange menace than a neutral observer or unofficial ambassador. While he is written five basically auto-biographical books (three in the 1990s), he is no scholar. It is too much of a stretch for Rodman to be “Comradman” by any measure. What has been explained so far makes clear his life story, political beliefs, and views on the DPRK (mostly on Kim Jong-Un). It is a possibility, which should not be discounted, that his visits to the DPRK are supported covertly by more “moderate” elements in the US foreign policy establishment since diplomacy for the murderous empire is imperialistic in nature no matter what way you spin in. As Satya Vatti wrote, generally the US capitalist class prefers “moderate bourgeois elements” even as it, in desperation or seeing a good opportunity, relies on “far-right, fascist forces,” like in Ukraine, to accomplish their objectives. [23] Rodman is fundamentally a “moderate bourgeois element” to put it plainly. There are, additionally, a number of aspects that throw into question the thought of Rodman even being a comrade. If he was in solidarity with the socialist state, he would support the launch of two missiles “over Japan” (not really in realistic terms) as a show of force against blood-thirsty imperialists. He would also publicly oppose US efforts to strangle the country such as proposed fuel cutoffs, asset freezes, and threat of total annihilation, instead supporting more than a “dialogue” but immediate and direct talks between the US and DPRK, which the US has clearly rejected for imperialistic reasons. [24] Rodman is not the same side as Bruce W. Bennett of Rand Corp, the CIA, or Seth Rogan who wanted to hurt the DPRK with their box office bomb, “The Interview.” But, he also is not supportive of the DPRK’s nuclear tests and by extension exposing nuclear tests by the murderous empire, which are much more dangerous to the idea of a peaceful world free of exploitation. [25] Along with that, a comrade would oppose harsh sanctions on the DPRK and possibly be for a freeze-to-freeze in which the ROK (Republic of Korea or “South Korea”) and U.S. military would limit or end huge exercises in military aggression in exchange for the DPRK’s nuclear program ending. This is just a small list of what make one a comrade in solidarity with the DPRK. There is no set list but these basics follow along with established radical and communist principles. Rodman is not a hater of U.S. imperialism, like the Black Panther Party which allied themselves with the DPRK, or an “aficionado of U.S. popular culture” as Kim Jong-Un is, but he is a “washed-up celebrity” who sees himself as “neutral.” Most likely, he is being used to create a wedge in U.S. policy. Hence, his “basketball diplomacy” is not necessarily a “success” but is rather something that is easily exploited.

For the DPRK, they may not mind meeting with Rodman because they see it as a way to open up diplomatic relations with the US. While Rodman is clearly on the right-wing, he is much more level-headed than anyone currently in power, so in that sense those in the DPRK leadership don’t mind talking to him. But, if he rarely talks about politics, it could just be to show that the DPRK is welcoming to non-white and oppressed peoples. Whatever the reason, the capitalist ideals of Rodman are not brushing off on the DPRK. Not one bit. Nope.

The Russians and Chinese

President Xi Jinping of China (left) and President Vladimir Putin of Russia (right) in 2014

There is always talk about the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China on subreddits like /r/communism, but also broadly in radical circles. The Chinese and Russian governments have some progressive foreign policy, especially when it comes to helping imperialist countries under attack like assisting Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe for example. But, since neither of these countries are socialist, they easily cut deals with Western capitalists to help their respective bourgeoisie. This is part of the reason why Russia and China have not stood behind the DPRK’s acts of self-defense against aggression by the murderous empire and its allies. Instead, if to “buy time” from the orange menace and/or to prevent nuclear contamination of their citizenry (in the case of China), they have held a moderating tone, supporting peaceful negotiation, condemning the DPRK’s actions, and supporting murderous sanctions, like the others on the UN Security Council. [26] Where has the solidarity gone? Perhaps it is past viewpoints of the leadership of the DPRK, if this has any validity at all, are also a sticking point for China, even though China is bound to protect the DPRK if it is attacked. With the “zigzag approach” to the DPRK by the orange menace, Russia and China would benefit the world by defending the socialist state, but they have not done so, instead proposing the idea of a “freeze for freeze” which the US has rejected, as noted earlier. [27] As Gregory Elich recently put it, “unless China and Russia can find a way to oppose U.S. designs without becoming targets themselves, the North Korean people will stand alone and bear the burden of Trump’s malice.” Recently, according to some reports, food exports from China to the DPRK surged showing that the Chinese are playing an interesting game.

Luckily, some have taken stands in favor of the DPRK that Russia and China have not. Satya Vatti, in Liberation News, pointed out that striking at the roots of white supremacy means that we need to fight U.S. imperialism, the warfare state, and for states under attack by imperialists. [28] Additionally, the Workers World Party recently congratulated Kim Jong-Un, the people of Korea, and the Workers Party of Korea or WPK for “courage and honesty in standing up to U.S. imperialism.” There were also gatherings of those opposed to such imperialism in Rochester, NY and Baltimore, MD recently. [29]

There is more to say than this short section, but this is meant as a starting point on this topic since the Russian and Chinese governments are both not socialist. The capitalist roaders, as Mao Zedong described them, have taken power and hold of the Communist Party of China, basically “bourgeoisie inside the party” as some describe it, meaning that there should be struggle inside and outside the Communist Party of China as it currently stands. Russia, unlike China, has no Communist Party leading it, but rather a nationalist party that is opposed to US imperialism since they cannot enter into the club of imperialists as the Western capitalist centers of power would find it utterly odious. As one article put it recently, US policy toward Russia has remained unchanged because US imperial policy is “driven by Wall Street’s drive for profits, not the good or bad wishes of individual politicians.”

Once again, there is more to say on this topic as I have not fully explored my argument on this issue, but it is still in progress.

Steps forward and concluding thoughts

These photos come from a Sept. 22 article in KCNA. [30]
Rodman has the right idea that the “good side” of the DPRK is not talked about, but its more than that. There is a whole media campaign to demonize the socialist state. Even a recent issue of the “respected” partially bourgeois Smithsonian magazine has photographs from Pyongyang showing industrialization, newly-built high-rises, morning commuters on tram buses, a deep metro center, reading rooms in the People’s Study House (in the central library of Pyongyang), people watching videos at a sci-tech center, and an amusement park called the “Youth Fun Fair” to name a few. [31] While the photographer, a Brit named Tariq Zaidi, clearly has internalized Orientalist values, he still said that the county is “a scenic beautiful country….the cleanest you will ever visit with…hospitable people who will go out of their way to help you.” Stories like this pale in comparison to the “amazing infrastructure, free housing and medical care, impressive agriculture and green energy,” along with bustling cities, touted rightly by Eva Bartlett. This is the side of the DPRK which should be widely shared, not the distorted, “hellish” “stories” from the humanitarian imperialist spinsters at Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, and Amnesty International, along with varying bourgeois NGOs often called out by Wrong Kind of Green, accompanied by those within the bourgeois media (and U.S. government).

It is hard to counter every piece of imperialist propaganda about the DPRK but its possible to show what it’s really like to the best of our collective abilities. We don’t need Russian smugglers, DPRK defectors, or anyone else to “save” the country. [32] Regardless of what the smarmy “North Korea watchers” (i.e. North Korea Economy Watch and 38 North), talking heads, or any other individual with an orientalist mindset says, the leadership of the DPRK is “understandable and rational,” having nukes to only be used in self-defense if the U.S. attacks, not having a “first strike” policy like the murderous empire. Like all oppressed people, they can choose how they will struggle or do what is “best suited for their conditions.” [33]

The existence of the DPRK is a breath of fresh air. It shows that a “greater collective human spirit” and more satisfaction can come from socialism than capitalism, that they are becoming a “powerful socialist nation” which is steadfast in their “independent spirit.” [34] They do not want war. While bourgeois experts bemoan the travel ban of US citizens to the DPRK, as it will be harder to subvert socialist society there, perhaps this can be taken as an opportunity for more self-development as Trumpian racism and “economic nationalism” embodies the murderous empire. [35] Why not counter the demonization, begun with an illegal war in 1950 (and even earlier since the DPRK’s formation in 1948) which destroyed much of the country, with continued strengthening of universal and state-funded education, a strong healthcare system, and expanding alliances internationally from a few African countries to the whole continent? Those decisions are ultimately up to the people of the DPRK and their elected leadership.

I end with a quote from self-declared Black nationalist Robert F. Williams before his escape from the spotlight after returning to the U.S. in 1971, from exile. Many of the words of his 1964 speech, reprinted in his publication, The Crusader, still ring true today. The DPRK has developed, as they describe it, a hydrogen bomb which should be seen as a necessity under current conditions, celebrated as an achievement by an oppressed people, by people of color. Williams said, in part, words which are optimistic but are worth recalling:

“…We, the captive people of the free world of racist America, support the right of all oppressed people to meet violence with violence. We resolutely support the right of all people to self determination…the U.S. Government has sunken to the level of devil of the world…the anti-racist, anti-imperialist forces of the socialist camp are growing more powerful everyday…We believe in the right of armed struggle. We believe in the people’s right to defend themselves…We proudly hail the nuclear achievements of the staunch defenders of the oppressed, our Chinese brothers, in developing weapons for self-defense against nuclear intimidation by the racist USA. Our people, who have for many generations been defenseless victims of monopolized white supremacy terror, consider the Chinese bomb, a people’s bomb, a freedom bomb of the oppressed.”

Notes

[1] Robin Wright, “Donald Trump’s War Doctrine Débuts, at the U.N.,” The New Yorker, Sept. 19, 2017; Margaret Talev and Nick Wadhams, “Trump Bluntly Threatens to Wipe Out North Korea in UN Debut,” Bloomberg News, Sept. 19, 2017; David Rothkopf, “Trump’s first speech to the United Nations was a disastrous, nationalistic flop,” Washington Post, Sept. 19, 2017; Peter Baker and Somini Sengupta, “Trump Soft-Soaps the U.N. Of Course, It Was Only Day 1. . .,” New York Times, Sept. 18, 2017; David Ignatius, “The most surprising thing about Trump’s U.N. speech,” Washington Post, Sept. 19, 2017; AAP, “’Shameless and ignorant’: World stunned after Trump’s fiery speech,” SBS, Sept. 19, 2017; Jeffrey Rodack, “Conservatives Welcome Trump’s ‘Blunt’ Speech to the UN,” Newsmax, Sept. 19, 2017; Abbie Bennett, “Franklin Graham says Trump’s speech was ‘one of the best ever’ at the UN,” The News & Observer, Sept. 19, 2017; Joseph D. Lyons, “Ivanka Praises Trump’s UNGA Speech Despite Criticism From Everyone Else,” Bustle, Sept. 19, 2017. Some, like George Eaton of The New Statesman, even argued that “Trump’s words merely provide further justification for its nuclear weapons programme,” while they predictably followed the bourgeois media in condemning the country’s government, a point which has validity. Recently, a British tabloid, the Daily Mirror, quoted a reported “defector” from the DPRK, Hee Yeon Lim, to tell a wild story of executions, sex slavery, luxury, bribery, privilege, and torture, which undoubtedly a total lie, appended with the call for nuclear weapons to be brought back to south Korea!

[2] Jet Magazine, “Dennis Rodman’s dad had 27 kids and runs bar in the Philippines,” Sept. 23, 1996; Kurt Hean, “Just for the record, Rodman only has 28 siblings,” NBC Sports, Aug. 15, 2011; AP, “NBA Hall of famer Dennis Rodman finally meets his father after 42 years,” CBS News, Jul. 19, 2012.

[3] AP, “NBA Hall of famer Dennis Rodman finally meets his father after 42 years,” CBS News, Jul. 19, 2012; Bruce Newman, “Black, White—and Gray,” Sports Illustrated, May 2, 1988; Shaun Powell, “A long way from home,” Sports on Earth, Mar. 22, 2013.

[4] Bruce Newman, “Black, White—and Gray,” Sports Illustrated, May 2, 1988; NBA profile, “Dennis Rodman,” accessed Sept. 14, 2017; Mike Puma, “Rodman, King or Queen of Rebounds?,” ESPN.com, Feb. 21, 2006.

[5] Shaun Powell, “A long way from home,” Sports on Earth, Mar. 22, 2013; Dave Hannigan, “The top 10 Dennis Rodman moments,” The Times, Jan. 8, 2006; Espn.com, “Dennis Rodman, Chris Mullin into Hall,” Apr. 5, 2011; Jeanette Settembre, “Former NBA star Dennis Rodman to launch his own Bad Boy vodka brand,” New York Daily News, Jul. 12, 2013; Megan Masters and Aly Weisman, “Dennis Rodman Rebounds Back to Rehab,” E! News, May 3, 2009; Steve Forrest, “Dennis Rodman checks into alcohol rehab after N. Korea trip,” CNN, Jan. 19, 2014; Stephen Smith, “Dennis Rodman in debt, faces possible jail time,” CBS News, Mar. 28, 2012; TMZ, “Boozy Dennis Rodman Booted from Restaurant,” Jan. 10, 2010; CBS News/AP, “Rodman pleads guilty to DUI,” CBS News, Jul. 28, 2000; Reuters Staff, “Dennis Rodman arrested in L.A.,” Reuters, May 1, 2008; AP, “Police arrest Rodman after report of dispute at hotel,” May 1, 2008; People Staff, “Dennis Rodman pleads no contest in domestic assault,” People magazine, Jun 25, 2008; AP, “Dennis Rodman pleads no contest to DUI,” USA Today, Apr. 21, 2004; James Queally, “Dennis Rodman facing criminal charges in July hit-and run, prosecutors say,” LA Times, Nov. 21, 2016

[6] Shaun Powell, “A long way from home,” Sports on Earth, Mar. 22, 2013; WEMM, “Rodman to strip for PETA,” Contactmusic.com, Dec. 22, 2004; Pay Owen, “Dennis Rodman at the Vatican: ‘I want to be anywhere in the world I’m needed,’” The Guardian, Mar. 13, 2013; Sophie Tatum, “Dennis Rodman endorses Trump for President,” CNN, Jul. 24, 2015; Adam B. Lerner, “Dennis Rodman endorses Trump for President,” July 24, 2015.

[7] Michael Parenti, God and His Demons (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2010), 60-62, 77, 95, 131-132, 135, 139, 143, 147.

[8] Kranz Lidz, “Dennis Rodman,” Sports Illustrated, Jul. 8, 2013.

[9] David K. Li, “Dennis Rodman’s ranting saved me from North Korean gulag,” NY Post, May 2, 2016. Bae later claimed that Rodman’s drunken ranting had brought international attention to his plight, leading to his release back into the world of Western capitalism.

[10] Lynn Zinser, “Tensions Rising with North Korea, but Dennis Rodman is there,” NY Times, Feb. 26, 2013; Alan Dulz, “Dennis Rodman to North Korea: ‘I come in peace,’” CNN, Feb. 27, 2013; Johee Cho, “Rodman worms his way into Kim Jong Un meeting,” ABC News, Feb. 28, 2013; Justin Rocket Silverman, “Vice finale tracks Rodman’s strange days in North Korea,” New York Daily News, May 21, 2013.

[11] Politico, “Donald Trump praises ‘smart’ Dennis Rodman North Korea trip,” Mar. 4, 2013.

[12] Lynn Zinser, “Tensions Rising with North Korea, but Dennis Rodman is there,” NY Times, Feb. 26, 2013; IBT staff report, “Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong-Un chat courtside at Pyongyang Basketball Game,” International Business Times, Feb. 28, 2013; ROK Drop, “Ric Flair Describes How Muhammad Ali Told Off North Korean Officials,” Jun 8, 2016; Austin Ramzy, “Muhammad Ali in Pyongyang: A Little Less Love than Rodman,” Time magazine, Mar. 3, 2013; Ronald Kirk, “Muhammad Ali At N. Korea Sports Festival — Unlike Rodman, He Spurned Regime,” Forbes, Jun 4, 2016.

[13] Josh Lewis, “North Korea: Reality vs. the world according to Dennis Rodman,” CNN, Sept. 10, 2013; James Pearson and Megha Rajagopolan, “Rodman returns to Pyongyang but says won’t bring back jailed American,” Reuters, Sept. 2, 2013; Caitlin McDewitt, “Rodman; Kim Jong Un is ‘a good dad,’” Politico, Sept. 9, 2013; Evan McMurry, “Dennis Rodman to train North Korean Olympic Basketball Team,” Medialite, Sept. 9, 2013; Christopher Black, “North Korea: The Grand Deception Revealed,” New Eastern Outlook, Mar. 13, 2017.

[14] AFP, “Rodman heading back to N Korea to Train Basketball Team,” Newsmax, Dec. 4, 2013; RTE, “Dennis Rodman Departs for North Korea for basketball exhibitions,” Jan. 6, 2014; Kurt Helin, “Dennis Rodman still planning exhibition game in North Korea with former NBA players,” NBC Sports, Nov. 22, 2013; News Desk 2, “Dennis Rodman announces basketball diplomacy for upcoming games in North Korea,” the Florida News Journal, Jan. 6, 2014; AP, “Dennis Rodman: ‘I had been been drinking,’” ESPN, Jan. 9, 2014; “Today FM’s Matt Cooper is in North Korea with Dennis Rodman,” thejournal.ie, Jan. 6, 2014.

[15] Fox News, “Feds reportedly investigating Rodman for violating sanctions against N. Korea,” Jan. 25, 2014; Hugh Armitage, “Kim Jong-Un, Dennis Rodman film planned by Ride Alans director Tim Story,” Digital Spy, Feb. 24, 2014; Tatlana Siegel, “Dennis Rodman North Korea Mission to Become Fox Movie (Exclusive),” The Hollywood Reporter, Feb. 23, 2014.

[16] Matt Rivers, Will Ripley, and Joshua Berlinger, “Dennis Rodman hopes to ‘something pretty positive’ in North Korea,” CNN, Jun. 13, 2017; Anna Fifield, “Dennis Rodman is back in North Korea. Was he sent by Trump?,” Washington Post, Jun 13, 2017.

[17] AFP and staff writers, “Dennis Rodman gives North Korean minister a copy of Donald Trump’s the Art of the Deal,” news.com.au, Jun 10, 2017.

[18] Tony Schwartz, “I wrote ‘The Art of the Deal’ with Trump. His self-sabotage is rooted in his past,” Washington Post, May 16, 2017; Jeremy Greenfield, “10 Things You Learn Reading Donald Trump’s ‘The Art of the Deal,’” The Street, Sept. 16, 2015; Josh Barra, “10 things I learned about Donald Trump in ‘The Art of the Deal,’” New York Times, Sept. 22, 2015; Richard Feloni, “Donald Trump’s core business philosophy from his best-selling 1987 book ‘The Art of the Deal,’” Business Insider, Jun 6, 2015.

[19] Catherine Thorbecke, “Dennis Rodman speaks out about his visit to North Korea,” ABC News, Jun 23, 2017.

[20] New York Daily News, “Dennis Rodman praises Kim Jong Un for modernizing North Korea,” Aug. 30, 2017.

[21] DuJour magazine, “Candid moments with Dennis Rodman,” Fall 2017 edition, p. 58. He also says that citizens kind and live lives through Kim Jong-Un; Eric Wilson, “Us Weekly, for a Lot Fewer of Us,” New York Times, Aug. 8, 2012; Jane L. Levere, “Two Luxury Names Expand Collaboration,” New York Times, Aug. 11, 2014; Katja Presnal, “Lifestyle: New Luxury Lifestyle Magazine DuJour,” Skimbaco, Sept. 9, 2012; Robert Channick, “DuJour magazine on the menu for those with the most money in Chicago, U.S.,” Chicago Tribune, Oct. 10, 2012.

[22] Reuters Staff, “Dennis Rodman talks of skiing friendship with Kim Jong Un,” Reuters, Sept. 6, 2017.

[23] Satya Vatti, “U.S. government a friend to the far right around the world,” Liberation News, Aug. 29, 2017.

[24] Michael Ellemean, “North Korea’s Hwasong-12 Launch: A Disturbing Development,” 38 North, Aug. 30, 2017; “DPRK Nuclear Weapons Institute on Successful test of H-Bomb for ICBM,” Rodong Sinmun, Sept. 4, 2017; David F. Sanger and Cahoe Sang-Hun, “U.S. Urges Fuel Cutoff for North Korea, Saying It’s ‘Begging For War,’” NY Times, Sept. 4, 2017; BBC News, “North Korea crisis: US seeks Kim Jong-Un asset freeze,” Sept. 7, 2017; Al Jazeera, “US: N Korea to be ‘destroyed’ if behaviour continues,” Sept. 18, 2017; Jon Schwartz, “North Korea says it might negotiate on nuclear weapons. But the Washington Post isn’t reporting that,” The Intercept, Sept. 25, 2017; “U.S. dismisses immediate talks with N. Korea,” Yonhap News, Sept. 6, 2017; David Tweed, “Trump’s olive branch to North Korean opens slim path to talks,” Bloomberg Politics, Aug. 23, 2017.

[25] Tom Shorrock, “How Sony, Obama, Seth Rogan, and the CIA secretly planned to force regime change in North Korea,” Alternet, Sept. 5, 2017; Al Jazeera, “North Korea conducts most powerful nuclear test yet,” Sept. 3, 2017; NNSA, “B61-12 continues to meet qualification test schedule,” Aug. 2017; RT, “US holds 2nd test of B61-12 gravity nuclear bombs,” Aug. 29, 2017; Binoy Kampmark, “Unnerving the Donald: North Korea’s Sixth Nuclear Test,” Sept. 4, 2017; AP, “The latest: Haley: US to push for more North Korea sanctions,” Washington Post, Sept. 4, 2017; Moon of Alabama, “Why North Korea Needs Nukes – And How to End That,” Apr. 14, 2017; Robert Ramptor and David Brunnstram, “Trump says tougher steps needed on North Korea after new U.N. sanctions,” Reuters, Sept. 11, 2017.

[26] “China rejects possibility of military intervention in North Korea,” TASS, Sept. 4, 2017; “Russian envoy warns any slip-up on Korean peninsula may lead to military outbreak,” TASS, Sept. 4, 2017; Zachary Cohen and Richard Roth, “US passes fresh sanctions on North Korea,” CNN, Sept. 12, 2017.

[27] Anne Gearar, “Trump’s zigzagging approach to North Korea veers toward military options,” Washington Post, Sept. 6, 2017; “Sanctions Against North Korea a Dangerous Dead-End,” The Real News, Sept. 6, 2017.

[28] Satya Vatti, “U.S. government a friend to the far right around the world,” Liberation News, Aug. 29, 2017.

[29] Workers World Party, “WWP congratulates DPRK for its courage,” Workers World, Sept 12, 2017; Gene Clancy, “Rochester, N.Y., anti-war groups say no to U.S. threats and sanctions against DPRK,” Workers World, Sept. 11, 2017; David Card, “New war threats against North Korea,” Workers World, Aug. 31, 2017.

[30] The article says the following: “The Moranbong Band, the State Merited Chorus and the Wangjaesan Art Troupe Music and dance performances gave a music and dance performance in Wonsan City from September 13 to 21. The numbers of the performance included male solo and chorus “Song Dedicated to the Motherly Party”, light music “Pyongyang Is Best”, orchestra and male chorus “We’ll Travel One Road Forever”, dance “Dash toward Future” and tap dance “Young Days”. The performers sang high praises of the dynamic spirit of socialist Korea dashing ahead like the wind toward the final victory at the speed of Mallima despite all sorts of difficulties and trials of history, rallied close around respected Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un. The artistes of the Moranbong Band in light music and serial songs “Oh Party, It’s Thanks to Your Care,” female solo “We Call You Father,” female chorus “Fatherland and I,” etc. impressively represented the profound trust and gratitude of the army and people to the Workers’ Party of Korea which made a history of great changes under the banner of independence, Songun and socialism, winning great victories. Those of the State Merited Chorus in male solo and chorus “Korea, Forward under the Line of Simultaneously Developing the Two Fronts” and male trio and chorus “Only along the Road of Socialism,” strikingly showed the rock-firm faith and will of the Korean army and people to dynamically advance along the road of simultaneous development of the two fronts under the leadership of the great Party and attain the final victory of socialism. The Wangjaesan Art Troupe presented lively dynamic dances showing the stirring reality of the DPRK where the people are working great innovations in building a socialist power while resolutely foiling the U.S. imperialists and their vassal forces’ unprecedented sanctions and pressure. The performance deeply impressed the audiences.”

[31] Lorraine Bussaneault, “The view from Pyongyang: An Exclusive Look at the World’s Most Secretive Nation,” Smithsonian magazine, Sept. 6, 2017.

[32] Pepe Escobar, “North Korea: Fire, Fury and Fear,” Global Research, Aug. 10, 2017; Tania Branigan, “Hope, Pride, Fear: How North Koreans feel about their homeland,” The Guardian, Aug. 10, 2017; The Moscow Times, “North Korea Receiving Russian Supplies Despite Sanctions—Reports,” Sept. 12, 2017.

[33] Deridre Griswold, “Why the DPRK Needs a nuclear deterrent,” Workers World, Aug. 14, 2017; Editor, “Self defense and the DPRK,” Workers World, Aug. 14, 2017; Ri Hak Nam, “DPRK is certain to win Thanks to Peerlessly Great Man,” Rodong Sinmun, Aug. 12, 2017.

[34] Kang Choi Su, “No Force on Earth Can Block Advance of DPRK,” Rodong Sinmun, Aug. 22, 2017; Jo Hak Chai, “WPK’s Line of Simultaneously Developing Two Fronts Is Eternal Banner of Peace and Prosperity,” Rodong Sinmun, Aug. 19, 2017; Deridre Griswold, “Why the DPRK Needs a nuclear deterrent,” Workers World, Aug. 14, 2017.

[35] Robert Rennebohm, “Understanding North Korea,” Global Research, Aug. 21, 2017; Christopher Black, “North Korea: The Grand Deception Revealed,” New Eastern Outlook, Mar. 13, 2017; Samuel Romani, “North Korea’s African Allies,” The Diplomat, July. 4, 2016; Prof. Michel Chossudovsky, “North Korea: Their Health System Sucks, Do They Have Schools and Hospitals…In America We’ve Got Medicare…,” Global Research, Aug. 16, 2017; Brian Wilson, “Korea and the ‘Axis of Evil,’” Global Research, Apr 27, 2002; Doug Palmer, Megan Cassella, and Andrew Restuccia, “Trump mulling withdrawal from Korea trade deal,” Politico, Sept. 2, 2017; Yonhap, “Trump says to weigh withdrawal from S. Korea trade deal,” The Korean Herald, Sept. 3, 2017; Andray Abrahamian, “Commentary: The downside of banning Americans from North Korea,” Reuters, Aug. 31, 2017; Felicity Arbuthnot, “North Korea an Aggressor? A Reality Check,” Dissident Voice, Aug. 24, 2017.

The orange menace, bigotry, and the murderous empire

Quotes from Trump’s recent speeches spewing racism and/or jingoism time and time again.

While much of Texas (and now Louisiana) reels from a “capitalist crime scene” which was made clear nationwide across the US with the “unprecedented” flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey, another storm is brewing: racism in the White House, the “President’s House” was built on the backs of enslaved and wage laborers.

Trump is undoubtedly a racist and bigot as proven during his campaign. Most recently this was manifested in his pardon of Sheriff Joseph Michael Arpaio or “Sheriff Joe” of Maricopa County, Arizona. Defending the action, he claimed that Arpaio did “great” for the Arizonan people and was “loved” there. He further spewed out that his pardon was justified by previous pardons of Marc Rich, Susan Rosenberg, and Carlos Vignali by Bill Clinton, and famed whistleblower Chelsea Manning and noble Puerto Rican independence fighter Oscar Lopez Rivera. He hates them all. Manning, who sadly fell in line with supporting Apple’s fake “privacy” battle with the US government, played a major part in interrupting “imperial scheming,” often called diplomacy, of the murderous empire, revealed, for example, that there were “the Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia] proposed energy ties with China if Beijing backed sanctions against Iran, and [showed] that the country is a major source of financing of Islamic reactionary groups.” The same is the case for Rivera, who is also a brave, and arguably heroic figure. As I wrote back in January, which I still stand by

In the days before Trump’s inauguration…Obama made some “last minute” actions, some of which were symbolic. Due to public pressure and likely to give himself a “good” legacy…he pardoned transgender whistleblower Chelsea Manning  and Puerto Rican independence fighter Oscar Lopez Rivera, along with a number of nonviolent drug offenders…many political prisoners are still locked behind bars and his action was symbolic…It worth saying however that if Manning’s sentence had not been reduced, Trump likely would have extended the sentence and left her in prison for life

Yet, he thinks that Arpaio “is a patriot [who]…loves our country…protected our borders” and the Obama administration “unfairly” treated him. Lest us forget that Arpaio is well-established believer in the theory that Obama’s birth certificate was faked (which Trump ran on in an unsuccessful campaign for the 2012 Presidential election) and Maricopa County had to pay millions for his racial profiling to Chican@ people who were profiled as he continued his illegal immigration patrols. Only more recently he was cited as “guilty of criminal contempt of court” since he did not follow a “federal judge’s order that halted his signature immigration round-ups,” which Trump could not stand, so he pardoned the bigot. To summarize what Arpaio did, he enforced hardline racist anti-immigration policies which were dictated on the federal level, with sweeps that zeroed in on immigrant neighborhoods, with many of “those taken into custody were not accused of violating a state crime but only of living in the country illegally.” [1]

Trump brought his racism to another level, beyond the pardon. He threatened to shut down the federal government over border wall funding (which he did not pull back even he had the opportunity to do so). In his jingoism, he declared that “Mexico is going to pay for the wall….one way or the other,” slammed NAFTA as “one of the worst trade deals ever signed at any time, anywhere in the world” (which isn’t wrong, but what he would replace it with is a bunch of bilateral-NAFTA-like agreements), and said that the US needs “the wall very badly” since it will “stop a lot of things” including “drugs” which he bellows is “pouring in at levels like nobody has ever seen,” which sounds like clear and simple fearmongering. There is no doubt about this since he wants to be “very, very tough on the southern border,” in his own words, to protect the supposed “prosperity” he will bring White people in the US, which isn’t going to materialize. Recently, he praised the mobilization of the Homeland Security Search Capacity Force, in response to Hurricane Harvey, declaring that with law enforcement we have to “make sure that we’re overcoming and anticipating any security needs that we have.” This is consistent with his moves to give the police even more weaponry, which was partially limited by the Obama administration because of public pressure, so they can further terrorize communities of color.

Before putting the orange menace in his appropriate context, it is worth discussing his comments on the anti-racist protests in Charlottesville. On August 12 he declared that “we” (by which he meant the US government) condemn “in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides” and said that “it’s been going on for a long time in our country,” nothing new. In his mind, what was needed was “swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives,” and coming together as a nation to “heal the wounds of our country.” While this may seem more measured than chasing people down who are of a certain color of the skin, it still has a white supremacist tone to it, especially when he talks about the “healing procedure” which, when coming from him, sounds like David Duke. Considering that the police and capitalist state in the US are of a white supremacist character, calling for “restoration” of “order” means that his “moderation” is nothing of the sort, when he does not categorically condemn bigotry, saying that it happened on “many sides” but not the side of the white supremacists. As Sam Marcy of the Workers World Party wrote in 1982, which is still relevant today,

“…in the eyes of the liberal bourgeoisie a militant struggle against the Klan…violates the sacred norms of imperialist democracy…Unless one sees the Klan and other fascist organizations in the general context of the developing struggle of the workers and oppressed, one runs the danger of completely abdicating…using the free speech amendment as a cover for…the use of violence and mass repression is a congenital tendency of the capitalist state. Even in the so-called best of times the capitalist government not only tolerates terrorist organizations like the Klan…It is the ever-expanding growth of the police and military forces at home which makes repression and violent outbursts an inevitable outgrowth of the deepening class antagonisms…This is how consistent liberalism can be in a crisis – they go over to the other side…it is most important to discard the liberal straitjacket that only leads to defeat and frustration and arm the mass movement of the working class and oppressed with a revolutionary perspective.”

Two days later, on August 14, after controversy and anger over his “many sides” comment, he read from a teleprompter, declaring that the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence” in Charlottesville has “no place in America,” going onto say that “racism is evil…those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups.” He went onto say that their beliefs are “repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans” and adding that “those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America.” His solution was the idea of “bonds of love and loyalty that bring us together as Americans” which has echoes of the bygone era when the murderous empire was “fighting” those it called “subversives” and “communists,” a fight against those who stand for justice and a better world which continues to this day. While he condemned hatred, he did not condemn those who engage in bigotry in ways that are not outwardly violent like police killing Black men (and women) on the streets of the US, the symbols of the Confederacy that still stand in thousands of locations across the country, mostly in the US South but some in the North as well. This was to be expected. After all, from his definition, HE should be “repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans” and his words of hate strike at “the very core of America.”

Trump’s definitions are contorted, since bigots of any type manifest basic US values of White America from redlining, de facto re-segregation in urban areas, and dirty environmental projects placed in poor Black and Brown communities (called environmental racism for short) that cannot readily fight off the challenge as much as affluent White communities. These values, the conception of a safe White neighborhood with white picket fences, barking dogs, and areas removed from the perceived (and sometimes real) “problems” of the city, which does not, in general, include people of color. There are some exceptions, but there areas are broadly created for White people. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said in 1968, there is “no more dangerous development in our nation than the constant building up of predominantly negro central cities ringed by white suburbs” saying this will “invite social disaster.” Yet, nothing was done.

To give more historical context, the US Constitution, which is still used as a “blueprint” by the Supreme Court and is a “highly regarded” document, was formed by 55 men who were well-off white property owners, slaveowners, speculators, and other elements of the “new” capitalist class of the burgeoning nation. Anti-Black provisions were written into state laws, proven by the Supreme Court in decision after decision (i.e. Dred Scott v. Sandford, Civil Rights Cases, and Plessy v. Ferguson), and became part of the legal code of the United States at large. Racism is NOT “repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans” because it is part of the DNA of the murderous empire itself from transatlantic slavery to indigenous genocide and immigrant expulsion. Sure, it should have “no place in America,” but Trump himself stoked the flames of the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence,” in places such as Charlottesville, Boston, and San Francisco, to name a few, which was becoming “re-energized” by the united hatred of the US’s first “Black president” (he was actually mixed race, half White, half Black) Barack Obama, who, as noted before, put a happy face on the murderous empire. If racism” is “evil” as he says, and those who cause “violence in its name are criminals and thugs,” which strikes “the very core of America” (either indicating his dwindling core of supporters or the Midwest of the US), then Trump himself is “evil” and so is the murderous empire, since HE and the empire cause violence in the name of racism,  in terms of inherently racist imperialism.

One day after he, in scripted remarks, condemned in a PR statement, the hatred spewed in Charlottesville, he doubled back on his August 12th comments. This showed that inherently he still believed that both the anti-racists and bigots committed acts of violence. Apart from defending a racist, hate-filled man named Steve Bannon who was, not many days later, fired as his chief strategist (after which he returned as editor of the conspiratorial bigoted site called Breitbart) as a “friend of mine…he’s a good man…not a racist…a good person” who gets “very unfair press in that regard,” he charged that the “alt-left” (which doesn’t exist) was guilty of violence, “charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs” at the bigots. Basically he defended the bigots as those with a protest permit and the anti-racists as those without a permit (whether that is true or not), declaring that not all of the people protesting “the taking down of a statue of Robert E. Lee” (which he claimed was “very, very important”) were white supremacists. Furthermore he portrayed the bigots (“bad people”) as “violently” attacked by anti-racists, claiming that there were “very fine people, on both sides.” In his shouting match with reporters of the bourgeois press he said, in his white supremacist language, that those who want Confederate monuments to come down, since they honor a failed nation which explicitly defended and promoted Black slavery, are “changing history…[and] culture” (why is this bad?). [2] He further said that those who are neo-confederate were “treated them absolutely unfairly” by the same press and saying that there were “troublemakers…with the black outfits and with the helmets, and with the baseball bats.” Those people are what is commonly called the Black Bloc. While further comment on the would require more analysis of their tactics and history over time, there should be no debate that those who are facing bigots should be able to use any tools at their disposal to defend themselves.

It was then that Trump said that the taking down of the Confederate monuments was only the beginning, like a first domino of a series of dominos falling:

…this week it’s Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down…is it George Washington next week?…Thomas Jefferson the week after?…you…have to ask yourself, where does it stop?…George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner? So will George Washington now lose his statues?….are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson?…Are we going to take down the statue? Because he [Thomas Jefferson] was a major slave owner. Now, are we going to take down his statue?

When Trump feels under attack he predictably spews garbage like this. This just gives pure ammunition to the forces of bigotry within the United States, at least, giving them an easy counter-argument. The fact is that such forces are, as it stands now, on the losing side, on the defensive. The fact that governments (and universities) across the country are taking down Confederate statues shows the power of the anti-racist forces, forces for justice, forces for a better world. To think that people would support taking down the statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson within the murderous empire is a joke. Founding myths, as progressive historian Ray Raphael calls them, about such Founding Patriarchs are inherent to the national consciousness. They are drilled in inhabitants of the United States from an early age, through schooling, and used by politicians, whether Democratic or Republican to make “patriotic” arguments. Reading the writings of progressive historians like Howard Zinn, Ray Raphael, William Hogeland, and Christina Synder, who are not always radical in their writing, can help to counter this worship of the Founding Patriarchs.

In the same press conference, Trump boasted that he owned “a house in Charlottesville…one of the largest wineries in the United States,” flaunting his capitalistic wealth once again. On the ground, people are resisting at the Charlottesville City Council against the pathetic white moderates who let the calamity unfold, even as it is a “watershed” in the anti-fascist struggle, and people worked together to topple a Confederate statue in Durham, North Carolina, an effort rightly applauded by the local chapter of the socialist (and Marxist) Workers World Party.

MLK, mentioned earlier, a self-defined democratic socialist who seemed to incorporate Black nationalism more into his beliefs between 1965 and his death in 1968, once said that “the bombs in Vietnam explode at home. They destroy the hopes and possibilities for a decent America.” [3] The same is the case today, with the violence in the streets of Charlottesville, on the streets of decaying urban metropolis after metropolis by the hands of cops, connecting to the imperial war in Afghanistan. Trump already thinks that everyone who puts on a uniform “makes our nation proud” with a shared purpose, wanting the US to be like the military with “love and loyalty to one another – and to our nation – as we seek to heal divisions from within,” speaking out against “the voices that try to sow hatred and division” (which includes Trump himself), treating fellow citizens “with love and affection” while honoring “our heroes” with supposed “sacred bonds of loyalty that unite us together as one.” This talk of loyalty not only harkens back to Cold War era loyalty oaths but it inherently fascist as he doesn’t want any sort of dissent, a nation of “yes men” and “yes women.” Furthermore, he doesn’t like transgender people in the US military, allowing those who currently are within the ranks to stay, but not allowing others to join, an uneasy compromise for the bigot-in-chief. This could provide an opportunity to organize against military recruitment in the transgender community instead of joining the jingoistic forces that want a bigger recruiting pool for imperialist footsoldiers. That topic is for another article, but should be written about and discussed.

In short, Trump wants to escalate the war in Afghanistan which was begun by George W. Bush, continued by Obama (who had a “withdrawal” plan that wasn’t about withdrawing) and revved up by the Trumpster. The latter likely believes it is part of some Christian crusade as he is almost evangelical in his religious beliefs, asking “God for his wisdom and strength,” declaring that “we will be bigger, better, stronger than ever before.” In his much hyped speech, by the bourgeois media in the US, he declared that there is a “special class of heroes” in the US, of “American patriots from every generation” (undoubtedly including, in his mind, the Confederate States of America), saying that the county is at “war with itself at home” and falsely claiming that the US is a “force for peace in the world,” with imperialism only possible in his conception if everyone falls in line and doesn’t question him. His “policy” is not really a declarations that there must be “an honorable and enduring outcome” in Afghanistan (reminiscent of Nixon’s idea of an “honorable end to the war in Vietnam” or “Peace with Honor” which was actually ramped up imperialism), no “rapid exit…[or] hasty withdrawal” from Afghanistan, “immense” threats to US security apparently from the region, and facing the “reality of the world as it exists right now.” In his simplistic conception, terrorists who “slaughter innocent people” (like him with his drone killings or the US military killing innocent civilians) are “losers” while those in the US are apparently “winners.” He further showed that the military really controls the policy on Afghanistan by firstly saying that “conditions on the ground…will guide our strategy from now on” with secret plans to attack without public notice, ” integration of all instruments of American power…toward a successful outcome,” not engaging in nation-building or constructing “democracies in faraway lands,” but allowing the military to do what they please without restrictions with expansion of authority “for American armed forces to target the terrorist and criminal networks that sow violence and chaos throughout Afghanistan.” He basically wants to give more power to the military that lied about its number of troops in the country (admitting that 2,600 more troops were there than they said publicly), killed 15 Afghanis in an airstrike, “accidentally” killed Yemeni families, killing 10 Somalis (with the help of the US-backed Somali army)

He seemed to eerily echo Obama’s 2016 State of the Union Speech:

Again, toward the end of the speech, he called for those in the US to “unite” to defend the country “from its enemies abroad” by restoring “the bonds of loyalty among our citizens at home” and achieving an “honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the enormous price that so many have paid.” The latter is not possible at this point and the former just reflects his obsession with loyalty and no dissent, his inherent mindset. Anyone who challenges him, even liberals and progressives of a bourgeois character are disloyal, especially those who point out the contours of his brand, working to poke holes in this super-brand as Naomi Klein, a progressive of the bourgeois variety who is part of what some call the “Celebrity Left,” writes who is clearly a brand herself, just like many other “exalted” figures on the “Left” like Noam Chomsky.

Trump racism and outright bigotry is only one manifestation of the foulness of the murderous empire. He has embodied the empire as its head, so to speak, with a changing strategy in Syria, threats against the DPRK (and more recently Venezuela), along with horrendous sanctions, reinforcing the imperial interrelationship with Saudi Arabia, bombing Syria in what seems to be a one-time event to send a message to Moscow and Damascus to name a few aspects. While Bannon is gone, the bigotry continues. He will remain, an informal adviser to Trump, in his position at the head of a hateful propaganda network. After all, the Muslim ban was greenlighted by the Supreme Court as only a partial ban, showing their role in reinforcing racist legalism once again. Trump’s advisers, like H.R. McMaster, have more pull with Bannon gone, but perhaps that was part of the plan. It is hard to discern. To put it simply, in the grand scheme of things, Trump is only one cog of the machine. Bigotry of all types, runs rampant in the murderous empire from gentrification in the “fixed up” urban areas to more dirty energy pipelines forced through the land of indigenous nations. The capitalist monster can only be stopped in its tracks with determination, solidarity, knowledge of past history, and a well-developed analysis, to name a few elements.

 

Notes

[1] He also boasted that “Nobody is higher than me. I am the elected sheriff by the people. I don’t serve any governor or the president.”

[2] Bringing down Confederate monuments should be applauded but it only the start and should not be done to replace necessary racial justice not of the kind proposed by Ta-Nehisi Coates but that which is written about by Cornel West or those over at the always well-spoken Black Agenda Report.

[3] While his belief in non-violence and “loving your enemy” doesn’t really have a place in today’s society, he did truly care about the Black people of America, and the disenfranchised of all races.

The hilarious and deluded criticisms of my post on Syria, Trump, and certain Kurds

My response to the comments on my post. Well, not really. But, this is one of my favorite Simpsons’ scenes (its from S7e9, “Sideshow Bob’s Last Gleaning“)

In response to my post, people were as angered as “mad-hatters.” It was a bit hilarious to watch it all unfold. I noted the comments in a post on /r/communism, but will address each “criticism,” if some could be called that, here:

“Can we just do away with the idea that Assad’s Syria is a socialist democratic state? It is false and the author does not try to prove any of his affirmations about Syria. This piece is garbage as a result, does nothing but cloud our judgement of the situation”- some person on /r/fulldiscourse

This person clearly did NOT read my post. I specifically called the “Assad’s Syria” a “secular, socially democratic state” and criticized Gowans for calling it socialist (certain parts are bolded for emphasis):

Stephen Gowans can say that Syria is a socialist state, saying that they follow the confines of “Arab socialism.” While you could argue, like Gowans[,] that that this is correct, more realistically, the state is socially democratic and secular. Hence, they have a national bourgeoisie. But, they are dedicated to progressive principles (anti-Zionist and anti-imperialist for example) and independence from Western influence. As a result, the Syrian leadership courts the Russian capitalists, along with those of other friendly countries like socialist Cuba, so that they can build their economy since they are under attack from reactionary religious terrorists backed by Gulf and Western states.

Hence, their “criticism” was disingenuous.

The next person claimed that….

“So ridiculous that the war for a de facto monarchy (the Al-Assads) that is fought for by one of the most aggressive imperialist regimes doesn’t get any meaningful criticism on a website called ‘anti-imperialism.org””- person on /r/syriancivilwar/

This is an Orientalist diatribe. To call the Bashar Al-Assad or the Assad family in general royal is laughable (its as bad as calling the DPRK a “monarchy”). They were duly elected by the people of Syria and not even the intelligence and military establishments of the murderous empire (US) have EVER called them monarchial. They have scowled at Syria since the 1960s. Russia, which is implied here, is NOT “one of the most aggressive imperialist regimes.” Such aggressiveness comes from the murderous empire (US) and European capitalists, not from those who were supposedly imperialist.

“Imagine a prose written by a late 19th, early 20th century industrialist writing for a pro-industrialist website, promoting the virtues of child labor and educating the poor through hard labor. Sorry, but that’s how ridiculous it is to be a revolutionary anti-imperialist in 2017. Or should be.”- person on /r/syriancivilwar/

I don’t even have any comment to this other than to laugh. I would consider myself to be a “revolutionary anti-imperialist” though.

“It is very obvious that these people writing this have an agenda. You couldn’t have chosen the perfect image either – the US standing in front of Turkey’s aggressive military to prevent them from annihilating the Kurds… The evil US Imperialism! Who stands to gain for all the points this article has mentioned? Which groups, which governments.. Then you can see how far toxic these kind of articles are. The no-war signs, the civilians being bombed to stop the US from bombing ISIS.. The thing that gets on my nerves is the actual nerve to use these kind of low tactics to get the US to weaken its position so other powers can take control or do what they want without anybody stopping them. If this is the “left” angle, They are but a tool, being used now to be anti-america to benefit others, as usual.”- person on /r/syriancivilwar/

This person is almost frothing at the mouth in outrage. To cast the US as saviors of the Kurds is silly at best. My article does not, in any shape or form, defend Turkey’s attacks on the Kurds. I stand with all nations under imperialist attack and Turkey is NOT one of those. It is happily working with the global capitalist class while there is some tension. The questions about who will “benefit” from this article is like a person claiming that there are commies under beds, making the comment also a joke. I would not call my article “anti-america” but I would call it pro-Syria, anti-imperialist, and anti-capitalist, at minimum, to name a few descriptors. That should be obvious. Also, obviously the site as an agenda. Its called anti-imperialism.org. Its not called magical swill’s site of extraordinary wonders or something like that.

“Because, unlike the lunatic writing this garbage, sane people recognize that the definition of a revolutionary is not avoiding everything connected to the US military when your shared enemy is Islamic State.”- person on /r/syriancivilwar/

Apart from the ableistic slur (“lunatic”), to think that working with the US military is “revolutionary” shows this person does NOT recognize how revolution works. Also, they clearly have no knowledge of the destruction the murderous empire has foisted on indigenous people, enslaved Black peoples, Mexican peoples, and all those  around the world who have been killed by bombs and missiles sent (or dropped) by the bloody planes and warships of empire. Also, calling it the Islamic state is confusing as it confuses one with an ACTUAL state based on Islam like Iran, so its better to call them Daesh. That’s all I have to say about that.

“Tight cooperation with multiple powers that have differing agendas has been a cornerstone of successful movements in history. Earlier this year, the Manbij Military Council met with US 4-star General Votel one week and signed an agreement with Russia the next week for regime forces to assume positions along its border. Raw and unadulterated ignorance of local reality is the main problem for lunatic fringies like the writer of this article who cites Roy Gutman once, cites Marx a half-dozen times, never quotes anyone who lives in North Syria, and nevertheless pretends that they know how a revolution in that region should and should not appear.”- person on /r/syriancivilwar/

It may be the case that tight cooperation with multiple powers leads to victory, but those powers don’t have to be blood-sucking imperialists! If they wanted to, they could be working with Russia or China. If what they say about the agreement between a US general and Russia is true (which is possible) then that is positive that “regime forces” (the Syrian government) can have positions on the border. I wouldn’t see that as bad. To call myself part of the “lunatic fringies” brings up two questions: what is a “fringie”? and how is writing about something in a radical flair make me a “lunatic.” Wouldn’t those who are apologists of empire more readily fall into this category. I didn’t know defending Syria and carefully explaining what is happening in the region from my point of view was “raw and unadulterated ignorance of local reality.” I also didn’t know that Roy Gutman was such an expert apparently, as they imply. Yes, I did cite “Marx a half-dozen times,” but so what? Sure, I didn’t “quote anyone who lives in North Syria,” but I don’t need to know the broader trends of what is happening in the region. I also do NOT pretend I “know how a revolution in that region should and should not appear” as they claim. Instead, I am just analyzing the reality. If people don’t like what I’m saying about what is happening, that’s just too bad.

Comments like these are deluded but also fun to read through. Thanks, magical critics for making me laugh at your silliness.

“Massive, dangerous and wasteful”: US imperialism repositions itself in Syria

Comes from the official mouth of the national military establishment.

This post was posted on anti-imperialism.org two days before but somehow I didn’t catch that until yesterday, so it was posted here.

You’ve probably heard the recent news that the Trump Administration is ending the CIA program to fund “anti-Assad” “moderate rebels,” who are actually terrorists. [1] The bourgeois media and run-of-the-mill imperialists cried bloody murder. Some say it was a “victory” for Russian president Vladimir Putin, although it was seen, even by crusty analysts, as a failed program. Removing CIA support is a victory for the Syrian people, not for the Russians or Trump and his advisers. In defending this action on Twitter, Donald Trump, in his typical bullish style, attacked the “Amazon Washington Post” and CNN, saying they are pumping out “fake news” about his policy and questioned if the Post is being used to keep “politicians from looking into Amazon’s no-tax monopoly.” He, of course, framed the program as his accomplishment, as the end of “massive, dangerous and wasteful payments to Syrian rebels fighting Assad,” although these “rebels” are, again, terroristic elements. Even with US imperialism ending CIA support for such elements, the murderous empire has not given up the goal of toppling the Syrian government. Rather, it has “repositioned” itself.

In the article announcing the end of the CIA program, the CIA mouthpiece, the Washington Post bellowed that there was a “potential risk” of ending the program. They claimed that ending the program would mean that the US may be unable to stop other countries from “funneling more sophisticated weapons” to “anti-Assad” terrorists. [2] This implies a “loss of control” over world events by the murderous empire, and it is part of the anxiety that comes with US imperialism loosing its footing. Still, the murderous empire is not bumbling like Sideshow Bob stepping on rakes, as “acclaimed” journalist Jeremy Scahill (a brand) noted in one tweet some time ago, but it just facing more challenges. The removal of this support, which was reportedly a foreign policy move to improve ties with Russia, ended a program which had begun in 2013 under the supposedly “smart” imperialism of the Obama presidency. [3] The program itself, in the minds of anonymous “US officials” quoted, and perhaps within upper echelons of the empire itself, “produced little success.” Reuters denoted that US support will not end. Quoting the magical (and often deceptive) anonymous “US officials,” it was noted that the US military will train, arm, and support certain Syrian terrorists with airstrikes and other actions. [4] It would not be surprising if this is the case. The Syrians recognize that the ending of the CIA program is a start to to “solving the Syrian crisis” but not a “genuine policy shift.” Rather it was an admission by the murderous empire that they have failed as Syrian government minister Ali Haidar pointed out. [5]

As it seems evident, US imperialism has “repositioned” itself in Syria by allying with the “good” Kurds, by Western standards, the ones clustered around the illegitimate regional government in northern Iraq and those related to Rojava. Stephen Gowans points out that not only is the YPG, one of the groups which is associated with Rojava, basically the PKK, but that they would control regions currently occupied by Arabs, a move supported by Israel and the US. However, Turkey does not support it as they detest the Kurds, but also the Syrian government, with their own designs for “regime change” in the country, and the current Syrian government opposes it as a clear violation of their sovereignty and independence. Such a takeover of Arab areas, which could be a prelude to ethnic cleansing, is supported by illegal no-fly-zones by the US over parts of Syria, and the partition of Syria along “ethno-sectarian lines,” favored by Washington and Tel Aviv. Some will say that the YPG, SDF, and other forces associated with Rojava, are somehow revolutionary. For one, if this was the case, why would they have allowed the US to build two military bases within “their territory” by March 2016? [6]

When Black nationalist Robert Mugabe led the liberation struggle of the then-Maoist Zanu-PF in Zimbabwe, alongside the more moderate Joshua Nkomo’s Zapu-PF, he did not go the US asking for help to fight the white colonists. When Hugo Chavez and his newfangled movement were gaining traction in Venezuela, they didn’t turn to the European imperialists. There are many other examples that could be given. Allowing an imperialist power to create bases within one’s territory means that one’s anti-imperialism is partially, if not completely, non-existent.

Around the same time that it was revealed that the US had two military bases in Syria, the special presidential envoy to the coalition against Daesh, Brett McGurk, visited Rojava, showing the US-“good” Kurd alliance was in the making. Since then, the murderous empire has increased their support for these Kurds. The same Kurds who tortured two Arab prisoners to demand they tell them

“where are the Daesh fighters,” threatening their life and limb when they didn’t answer “correctly.” Recently, the murderous empire armed these Kurds directly to mount an assault on Daesh’s de facto capital, Raqqa. More than that, over 1,000 US special forces are within Syria, with the US helping Rojava-associated forces, since 2014, take control of territory with their “overwhelming” air power. Furthermore, not only are these Kurds wedded to their alliance with the Western imperialists, who also back, with arms, those in Northern Iraq, but they are liked by Western European, Japanese, and Scandinavian governments, along with some in Central Europe and Eastern Europe as well. This is indicated by their diplomatic outposts all across Europe to spread the “reality” of their supposed “struggle,” with the impression that they are a “real” country. Even the Russian Federation seems to favor them to an extent. Such favoritism, mainly by those in the West, is related to the fact that Rojava is opposed to the Syrian government is a “resources-rich” mine for imperialism even though it is basically an illegal entity. Its existence violates the UN charter, especially article 2, and the Syrian Constitution (at least 5 articles). Some may cry that Rojava and the Kurds need “self-determination” but the entity itself violates Syrian sovereignty and such a claim to self-governance by the “good” Kurds is utterly (and completely) illegitimate.

If arming and providing direct military support to these Kurds is not enough, the US had reportedly provided advice on branding, a feature of modern capitalism in the Western world. Raymond Thomas, General and commander of US Special Operations, said at the Aspen Forum recently that the US told the YPG that they needed to re-brand because of their ties to the PKK, and called the name of SDF a “stroke of brilliance” since “democratic” was within the name. This account was also posted on SoL international, a site run by the Turkish Communist Party. In their summation, it was noted that Thomas said that the YPG and PKK have to “work on their own branding,” acting like they are separate. In response, Erdogan, a murderous leader of Turkey who represents that country’s bourgeoisie, said that “friends” should not deceive each other, implying that the US and Turkey are still “friends.” This is true to an extent, but the US and Turkey are pursuing different methods to overthrow the Syrian government. This is indicated by stories in the Turkish state media, which has an anti-Kurdish flair to it, such as one claiming that a US Army Magazine showed a PYD individual, associated with Rojava, with a patch displaying the face of the PKK’s jailed leader, Ocolan. To put it simply, relations between the murderous empire and ethno-nationalist Turkey are fraught. This is proven not only by Erdogan’s remarks noted above but declarations by the Turkish government that it will not allow a “terrorist state” of Rojava on their borders and claims that hundreds of trucks from the US are aiding the Kurds with a large amount of weapons. The latter article, which lists the exact location of 10 US outposts/bases in Rojava, was also written up by The Daily Beast. [7] This article notes that there is US presence from “one end to the other end” of Rojava, with two bases in northern Syrian and eight outposts, one of which is the communications center for the US-led coalition “fighting” Daesh.

With ten bases, effectively, in northern Syria, US imperialism has easily positioned itself to assist covertly and overtly in the overthrow of the Syrian government. Add to this the illegal US presence in Syria coupled with the bombing of Syria and Iraq which has killed a minimum of 600 people with the actual total likely topping over 7,000 civilians. Take for example a raid in Syria on July 4, by US bombers, which killed nine civilians and damaged civilian housing. Assisting the murderous empire in its “regime change” operation are the Israeli Zionists who frequently bomb inside Syria, directly helping the “anti-Assad” terrorists, accompanied by propaganda from outlets, such as National Geographic, to smear the Syrian government, as represented in their upcoming documentary which is totally fraudulent. If that isn’t enough, there have been direct provocations in Syria by the murderous empire. In June, the US shot down a Syrian Su-22 fighter jet which was carrying out attacks on Daesh, a “blatant violation of Syrian sovereignty and international law.” This was only part of such provocations stemming from the dropping of thousands upon thousands of bombs on Syria, since 2014, thousands of US troops being sent into the region, false stories of chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian government, and other provocations, sometimes with the help of British special forces. Additionally, the UAE, the Turks, Qatar, the Saudis, and numerous others, want a piece of the action, sending “tens of thousands of mercenary and reactionary forces to bring down the Syrian government.

While US imperialism under Trump is “re-positioning” itself by seeking new alliances and harsher policies toward alleged US enemies, the goal in Syria has not changed. As noted earlier, the US wants to overthrow Syria’s duly-elected government, the government a secular, socially democratic state. Gowans explains this simply. He notes that the murderous empire is angry that Bashar Al-Assad hasn’t integrated the Syrian economy into the “US-superintended economy,” while possessing principles of “Arab socialism,” anti-imperialism, and anti-Zionism. Such ideas also come with Syria’s support of the Palestinian liberation movement and Hezbollah. Hence, since the 1960s the US had tried to undermine Syria, with the idea since 2003 that the US would eliminate Arab nationalists in the region by invading their countries.

Iran puts a damper on such regime change plans, as does Russia. Already Iran and Russia have developed close relations, like Syria and Russia, with the idea that Iran-Russia contact can prevent Washington’s further intervention in Syria. As Raymond Thomas, quoted earlier, admitted, since Russia has established a “more credible foothold” in Syria, it could, in his summation, use this influence to expel US forces from the country. Whether this would actually happen is not known. As the murderous empire sees it, Iran, Syrian, and Russia are part of an “evil axis” to them. That is why the CIA’s mouthpiece, the Washington Post, declared that the US is threatening Iranian naval vessels in the Persian Gulf whether a “shot across the bow” actually happened or not. [8]

The same goes for the 98-2 vote in the US Senate in favor of increased sanctions on Iran and Russia in mid-June. Only two Senators, with enough political capital, voted against it: “socially democratic” imperialist Bernie Sanders and libertarian-Republican Rand Paul. The sanctions themselves, introduced by Bob Corker, did not pass the House. The legislation not only claims that Iran threatens the US (and allies) in the Mideast, North Africa, and beyond, but it shows US apprehension about Iran’s influence.

In the past month, a new round of sanctions passed both legislative houses, incorporating some of Corker’s legislation on Russia and Iran, but also adding harsh sanctions against the DPRK. On July 25, the House passed the legislation 419-3, with only Justin Amash, Thomas Massie, and Jimmy Duncan voting no, all of whom were Republicans. The vote in the Senate two days similar was similar to the one the month before: Sanders and Paul voted against it.

Specifically, the new sanctions are slapped on Iran for its missile program and “human rights abuses” while squeezing the Russian economy and removing authority from the presidency to ease Russian sanctions. The latter is due to the unsubstantiated and feverous phobia over Russia, propagated by the US intelligence establishment, desperate Democrats and complaint Republicans, and much of the bourgeois media. The fact that Trump approves of the sanctions legislation flushes away all possibility he is “pro-Russia” in any way, shape, or form. Furthermore, the fact that Vladimir Putin and the Russian leadership declared that the US’s diplomatic mission in Russia has to “reduce its staff by 755 employees” was a justified “aggressive response” that the New York Times, in typical fashion, called something which was seemingly “ripped right from the Cold War playbook.” Russia cannot respond by military force to these sanctions, so this reduction is a way of firing back, sending a message to Washington that the sanctions are not OK. [9]

As it seems evident, the murderous empire wants to weaken Iran (and Russia to an extent) to cause the dominoes (Syrian government, Hezbollah, and Hamas) to fall so that imperial hegemony can reign across the region. [10] The Russians, Syrians, and Iranians aren’t standing for it. With Iran having “Washington’s moves under close surveillance,” they have worked to build military cooperation with Iraq, a major step forward in regional security to counter destabilization by the US and its affiliates.

Such an agreement, which disappoints the US, involves both countries working together to improve border security while providing the military forces of each country with “training, logistical…and military support.” Furthermore, the Iranian Parliament recently allocated $600 million to strengthen the country’s defensive missile program and the IRGC’s Quads force. Even with such measures, the moderate Iranian leadership is trying to create linkages with European capitalists created by the nuclear deal they negotiated with the West. The idea is that Iran should be “self-reliant and self-sufficient” since it has strong bilateral relationships with Russia, China, and a “remarkable number of European countries.” As Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, recently put it, there is an opportunity of strong relations between Iran and Europe, with creation of “indigenous technology using international advanced technology.” The Iranians also likely see such linkages as a way to partially deter some of the effects of sanctions imposed on them. Some capitalists, like the French, have jumped at the bit. Just recently, Total S.A., a French oil giant, signed a 20 year contract with Iran, with an “estimated cost of 2 billion US dollars.” This would result in 30 wells, 2 offshore platforms, and two pipelines as part of the Iranian Petroleum Contract (IPC) they signed with the Iranian government.

Even with Iran’s moves to court Western European capitalists, there are evident challenges. For one, Trump is continuing to push for “regime change” in Iran, dismantle the “Obama-era balance of power” and return to anti-Iran policies of Bush II. This isn’t much of a surprise since his foreign policy team is filled with Iran hawks, those who want to be more aggressive toward the country. Additionally, there are individuals like the chain-smoking, brutish, covert to Islam, whose name is “Mike Roger” when undercover and nicknamed “Ayatollah Mike.” [11] His full name is Michael D’Andrea. He is leading the anti-Iran campaign but previously ran the drone program, is brash, and was involved in the illegal torture program. [12] As one person quoted, in the CIA propaganda-filled New York Times, says, this is a sign of an “aggressive line toward Iran.”

For having a man who is a Muslim (converted because his wife was Muslim) leading a covert effort to undermine (and ultimately topple) a government rooted, bourgeois liberals and progressives will likely scream “intersectionality!” In reality, it is just imperialism with a nice bow on it, but the same tactics as before. Nothing has changed in that way at all.

In a recent article in the Monthly Review, Fred Magdoff noted that when corporations of “leading capitalist states have problems abroad,” they use the international structure they helped shape, also working to create “more favorable conditions at home and abroad to increase their flexibility and ability to make profits with the fewest restraints” evidenced by thirty CEOs of major US corporations visiting “Saudi Arabia with Trump.” He adds that economic elites and corporations use the power “of their home nation to secure advantages globally” with the nation state’s power of a “significant use to capital” with corporations, no matter the historical era, using “whatever leverage is at their disposal…to get their way,” to gain access to “foreign markets and investment opportunities.”

What Magdoff writes has relevance for the geopolitical position and relation of Iran, Syria, Russia, and the United States, to name a few international “actors” at the current time. Each of these countries has their respective bourgeoisie. For Iran and Syria, their national bourgeoisie is revolutionary in character. Specifically for Iran, this bourgeoisie, especially the reformist faction, is trying to entice European capitalists to invest in their country in order to become “self-sufficient” and create their own products. The principalist or “hardline” faction seems to not be fundamentally opposed to the prospect of self-development, as they support investment, but they are wary of Western influence from capitalists of Europe (mostly) since the involvement of Western international capitalist combines had a role in the overthrow of Mohammad Mossedegh in 1953 and were part of the pillaging of their country up until the victory of the Iranian Revolution in 1979. The reformist faction, which was reinforced by the recent election in Iran’s populace, seems to be in a current truce with the “hardline” faction, the latter of which wants a “revolutionary economy” as Ayatollah Khomeini puts it, but does not oppose privatization, for example. The Western capitalists are salivating at the opportunity for a new market with US companies likely furious about the new sanctions since this closes markets for them, inadvertently giving the Europeans a head start in this new market, benefiting them and isolating the United States. Iran needs capital for its self-development, but accepting this capital means that Western capitalists will be able to use the “universal whore, the universal pimp of peoples,” money, as Karl Marx once described it, to try and corrupt Iranian society to make it more consumerist, accepting more and more Western values. [13] If that ultimately happens, then the Iranian Revolution will have failed and capitalism will be triumphant in Iran.

Like Iran, Syria has a national bourgeoisie. Stephen Gowans can say that Syria is a socialist state, saying that they follow the confines of “Arab socialism.” While you could argue, like Gowans that that this is correct, more realistically, the state is socially democratic and secular. Hence, they have a national bourgeoisie. But, they are dedicated to progressive principles (anti-Zionist and anti-imperialist for example) and independence from Western influence. As a result, the Syrian leadership courts the Russian capitalists, along with those of other friendly countries like socialist Cuba, so that they can build their economy since they are under attack from reactionary religious terrorists backed by Gulf and Western states. As Karl Marx wrote in 1844,

“…it is precisely the ability of the capitalist to direct his capital elsewhere which either drives the worker into starvation or forces him to submit to the capitalist’s demands” [14]

In the case of Syria, unlike Iran, they do not desire normalization with the West at this time but rather seek to build alliances, to be part of what Ahmad Sa’adat, imprisoned General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), once called the “international left alliance.” Still, they are affected by competition among capitalists, as this influenced policies of those countries which are attacking them.

As for Russia, it is an interesting case. It is clearly capitalist, but it also has a progressive foreign policy. Partially this policy was forced on it by “isolation” pushed upon it by the US, but also due to its effort of building alliances with those countries under harsh attack by the murderous empire. Still, we cannot forget the Russian oligarchs, who are the Russian bourgeoisie. Even so, they are not like the US in interfering in the affairs of other countries, seeming to follow the principle that sovereignty is the “essence of the state” and that the sovereignty of the leader is based on the people since the “political state is…only a self-determination of the people.” [15] They are, as was noted by the Workers World Party at discussion at the Left Forum earlier this year, wanna be imperialists. Rome, and now the murderous empire, along with competing neo-colonial Western capitalistic states, treats “conquered countries….as private property.” [16] Russia, even if you said that it “conquered” Crimea, which it didn’t since there was a referendum where the people of the peninsula voted to be part of the Russian Federation, is not treating this area or any other area under their influence as their “private property.” Due to US restrictions and that of Russophobic European capitalist states, their markets are limited, so their imperialistic tendencies have not been developed as of yet. If these restrictions were lifted they would become a semi-imperialist state.

The murderous empire has “re-positioned” itself when it comes to Syria, and states associated with it, but as noted in this article, the goals remain the same. This was indicated in a recent speech by Vice President Mike Pence who bemoaned the “grave and growing threat posed by the missile capabilities of dangerous regimes in North Korea and Iran” and noted that Trump called on Russia to “cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere and to cease its support for hostile regimes like North Korea and Iran.” If this sentiment is held by numerous other policymakers in the echelons of the intelligence and military establishments, which it likely is, it means they see Russia as the “puppetmaster,” directing other countries like Iran and Syria. This could not be farther from the truth. Both Iran and Syria have self-interested and justified reasons for their amiable relations with Russia” to counter the aggression of the murderous empire.

As those who care about the world around us, whether we are communists, socialists, or radicals of any flavor, we should recognize what Marx said in September 1843: “nothing prevents us from…taking sides in politics…we simple show the world the way it is struggling and…[push for] the reform of consciousness.” [17] If we can take that to heart, standing in international solidarity with Iran, Syria, and Russia, even though each of these countries has a national bourgeoisie, against the murderous empire, that is a step in the right direction. We should take heed from Marx when he says that revolutions are “not made by shame” and arguing that

“A Ship of Fools can perhaps be allowed to drift before the wind for a good while; but it will drift to its doom precisely because the fools refuse to believe it possible. This doom is the approaching revolution.” [18]

While Marx was talking about Germany in March 1843, this sentiment applies to the present. The capitalists and their lackeys, imperialists of any character, of the murderous empire are the “fools” and they can be usurped by a revolution. In closing, we should believe it possible to engage in such actions to undermine (and ultimately overthrow) the capitalist class wherever, whether in the core, the periphery, and semi-periphery, standing in solidarity, in whatever way we can, with those fighting against the beast of capitalism.

Notes

[1] Anti-Assad is in quotation marks because that is how they are framed, although the Syrian government is much more than just Bashar Al-Assad, who was duly re-elected, like the rest of the government last year.

[2] Greg Jaffe and Adam Entous, “Trump ends covert CIA program to arm anti-Assad rebels in Syria, a move sought by Moscow,” Washington Post, July 19, 2017.

[3] BBC News, “Syria war: Trump ‘ends CIA arms programme for rebels’,” July 20, 2017.

[4] John Wolcott, “Trump ends CIA arms support for anti-Assad Syria rebels – US officials,” Reuters, July 19, 2017.

[5] Dahila Nehme, “Syria says US halting aid to rebels is step toward ending war,” Reuters, July 25, 2017.

[6] Reuters, “US builds two air bases in Kurdish-controlled north Syria: Kurdish report,” Mar. 6, 2016.

[7] Roy Gutman, “Turkey Leaks Secret Locations of U.S. Troops in Syria,” The Daily Beast, July 19, 2017.

[8] Andrew deGrandpre, “An Iranian ship refused to heed the Navy’s warning. Then shots were fired,” Washington Post, July 25, 2017.

[9] Neil MacFarquhar, “Putin, Responding to Sanctions, Orders US to Cut Diplomatic Staff by 755,” New York Times, July 30, 2017.

[10] It is clearly not a big “conspiracy” as they might think it is.

[11] Greg Miller, “CIA official who directed hunt for bin Laden is being removed from post,” Washington Post, Mar. 25, 2015.

[12] Mark Mazzetti and Matt Apuzzo, “Deep Support in Washington for C.I.A.’s Drone Missions,” New York Times, Apr. 25, 2015; Matthew Rosenburg and Adam Goldman, “C.I.A. Names the ‘Dark Prince’ to Run Iran Operations, Signaling a Tougher Stance,” New York Times, June 2, 2017.

[13] Karl Marx, “Money” within 1844 Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, which is part of Early Writings (ed. Quintin Hoare, New York: Vintage Books, 1975), 377. On page 295, also within the “Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts,” Marx describes capital as the power to command labor and products, and stored up labor.

[14] Karl Marx, “Wages of Labor” within 1844 Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, which is part of Early Writings (ed. Quintin Hoare, New York: Vintage Books, 1975), 283.

[15] Karl Marx, “Critique of Hegel’s Doctrine of the State” in 1843 within Early Writings (ed. Quintin Hoare, New York: Vintage Books, 1975), 82, 85, 89.

[16] Ibid, 179.

[17] Marx’s letter to Ruge in September 1843 within the Franco-German Yearbooks and part of Early Writings (ed. Quintin Hoare, New York: Vintage Books, 1975), 208-209.
[18] Marx’s letter to Ruge in March 1843 within the Franco-German Yearbooks and part of Early Writings (ed. Quintin Hoare, New York: Vintage Books, 1975), 200.

Naomi Klein “resists” Trump by embracing bourgeois progressive politics

Sampled from her Twitter on August 4, 2017.

Recently, I read Naomi Klein’s No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need. It is a relatively quick read, only 273 pages long, much shorter than her This Changes Everything book a few years back. Even so, it has thirteen chapters, a conclusion, a postscript, and an introduction.

In the introduction to the book sets the theme: that Trump is applying “shock politics” to the US, trying to pull off a “domestic shock doctrine” against public institutions and “public interest.” She goes on to describe Trump’s reactionary advisers like Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner while claiming there is a “corporate takeover” in DC (there is actually a long trend of corporate control in America, so it’s not something new), with Trump forming a brand in and of himself. She, of course, stops short of calling Trump fascist, only describing him as anti-“democratic” (relying on the idea of bourgeois democracy) and drawing parallels to policies in Greece, after Hurricane Katrina, in Baghdad after 2003, and in Britain, which resemble “Trumpism.” As she states clearly, her book’s argument is that Trump is a culmination of the “worst trends” of the 20th century that have “used race as a weapon to advance brutal economic policies,” pioneered by Milton Friedman, and other “market fundamentalists.” She also seems optimistic, calling for “change so fundamental that today’s corporate takeover will be relegated to a historical footnote,” although the “change” she later explicates is not even close to being “fundamental,” challenging the Trump superbrand, as she puts it.

After a lackluster introduction with broad vagueness, Klein has a chapter that focuses on Trump the brand, noting that Trump won because of the electoral college, not the popular vote, with his victory as a “shock.” She adds that there is a “surge of authoritarian, xenophobic, far-right politics” in France, India, the Philippines, UK, and Turkey, implying that the morally corrupt socially democratic politics in the West is a “solution.” Also her usage of useless words like “authoritarian” which is often used to shame countries deemed as “communist” or “socialist,” regardless of whether they are or not, means that she is legitimizing this word as speech that’s fine, showing her lack of comprehension in this realm, to say the least. She goes on to talk about Trump’s “cabinet of billionaires and multibillionaires” like it something new (it’s not), and acts like Bernie Sanders was a savior who made Wall Street shake, celebrates “concessions” to Black Lives Matter and the “climate movement” by political elites. She further adds that Trump’s election is part of a backlash against social movements, with a supposed “takeover” benefiting capitalists and removing environmental protections, for example. Apart from this claptrap which shows that she does not have understanding for how the capitalist state functions, and had changed over time, is a part about branding. She writes that starting in the 1980s companies like Nike and Apple, among many others, believes their fortunes were in branding with the concept that an idea or brand surrounding a company can connect with consumers, tying to a “profound human desire to be part of…a circle of belonging.” As a result, the product became (and was part of) the brand, meaning that this brand could be projected into “seemingly unconnected physical commodities.” Hence, products were produced at low price by subcontractors and contractors, with horrid work conditions in sweatshops. As a result, capitalist combines everywhere engaged in a brutal “race to the bottom” with complex supply chains involving contractors. As for Trump, after he had been a real estate developer for years he branded “high-end real estate” which could be a “single global luxury brand,” which was boosted by his show, The Apprentice, gaining revenue from “Trump-branded properties” with leasing his name, pulling in the dollars. When anyone noted horrible conditions his products were created in, the Trump Organization shrugged them off, defending a brand that “stands for wealth” itself, making this part of the reason scandals don’t stick to him: he plays by the “rules of branding” as Klein writes.

Based off a Mr. Robot quote by Angela Moss, but also applying to horrid Trump of course.

The second chapter promises to find ways to pierce “Trump’s brand bubble.” After noting how Trump’s presidency made the Trump “family of brands more valuable,” including those of Ivanka and Melania, she notes that cities and companies pay millions to “lease the Trump brand.” It is at this point she says that Bill and Killary spent decades blurring ethical lines” at the Clinton Foundation even as she basically says that Trump is worse. It is not beyond belief to think this about Bill & Killary Clinton, and Trump have destructive and exploitative brands. But Klein will not consider this possibility, shrugging it off by omission. The chapter is ended by her saying that Trump embodies Reagan (a former actor), briefly says that “the system is corrupt,” noting the rules of Democrats such as Bill Clinton and Obama, and then moving onto Trump’s “personal brand,” claiming that making Trump look “like a puppet” “jams” “The Trump Show.” So using the fake, deceptive, and worthless “Russia connection,” first concocted during the campaign by Killary Clinton’s camp, to call Trump “Putin’s Puppet” weakens his brand? This doesn’t even make sense in the slightest. Additionally, she is sidelining the reality: that Obama set the foundation for Trump. With over 2 million deported, continuing mass incarceration, and drone strikes, among other horrid elements of his “legacy,” the fascism of Trump had a comfortable breeding ground when he was inaugurated on January 21, 2017.

The following chapter is similarly about Trump’s branding. It talks about the structure of a show like The Apprentice, how it applies to “income inequality,” connects to his books, and notes that he brought “reality TV expertise to electoral politics,” which means that the “Trump show is now broadcasting live from the Oval Office.” With that, Trump made promises on the campaign trail (like every politician these days) which he won’t fulfill and edits “reality to fit his narrative.” Klein briefly talks about “progressive messaging” by Justin Trudeau in Canada which dazzled people, and “carefully crafted symbols” by the Obama administration to move the conversation away from discussion about the destruction he caused. Once again, she engages in another oversight. As the Wrong Kind of Green folks have notes, Obama is/was a brand, and so is Trudeau. She seems to forget what she wrote in 2009: that a “superfan culture…brought Obama to power” saying that we are “all going to have to stop hoping and start demanding.” Add to this that as even Noam Chomsky pointed out, Obama is a brand, who won the “highest advertising campaign accolade and attracted unprecedented sums of money” as also noted by John Pilger.

“Barack Obama is a brand. And the Obama brand is designed to make us feel good about our government while corporate overlords loot the Treasury, our elected officials continue to have their palms greased by armies of corporate lobbyists, our corporate media diverts us with gossip and trivia and our imperial wars expand in the Middle East. Brand Obama is about being happy consumers. We are entertained. We feel hopeful. We like our president. We believe he is like us. But like all branded products…we are being duped”- Chris Hedges in a May 2009 article

To close out the chapter, she notes that Trump is pushing for more war (which is continuing the warmongering that Obama engages in, expanding upon the foundation left by Bush, Clinton, and predecessors going back years), making it a “spectacle,” just like the Gulf War in 1990 and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. As Deirdre Griswold remarked recently in Worker’s World, “imperialist diplomacy has the same objective as imperialist war. If negotiations are to take place, either openly or secretly, the DPRK will have to weigh every word very carefully before agreeing to anything with the treacherous and arrogant bunch of marauders who run the U.S. government.”  She ends by saying that Trump’s rise to victory in the election last year was fueled by a “decline of communal institutions and the expansion of corporate brands” in US culture as a whole.

“From its origins in the nineteenth century Industrial Revolution, fossil capital has developed into a monstrous complex generating multiple biospheric crises, including climate change. To head off a catastrophic warming of the atmosphere, it will be necessary to de-fossilize the global economy over the next several decades. The growth of fossil fuel use must stop now, followed by absolute reductions of carbon emissions to near zero levels by sometime later in the twenty-first century. Nothing less is acceptable if we want a livable planet for the majority of humanity and other species. Such a transition has been shown to be, physically speaking, quite feasible…Unfortunately, under mature capitalism things are not done according to human needs, environmental sustainability, or common sense. Both economically and politically, this system is dominated by monopoly-finance capital (MFC) and its state functionaries. Two basic facts must be noted here. First, MFC’s ideology and policy program are both constituted by neoliberalism (deregulation, privatization, and anti-union policies—in short, market fundamentalism—combined with militarism and imperialism). Second, MFC is inextricably tied to the fossil-capital complex. It follows from these two facts that at this point in history, de-fossilizing the economy means overthrowing MFC power and moving toward a worker-community controlled economy, socialism.”- Paul Burkett

The fourth chapter changes focus to the climate. After giving a personal story about her child and the Great Barrier Reef, along with her work for The Guardian, she notes how Rex Tillerson led ExxonMobil through increased drilling as CEO. She, however, also notes that one crisis is not more important than the other but that climate change is a current emergency, with Killary having a “web of corporate entanglements” that needs to be questioned while Trump seems to deny climate change as he supports more fossil fuel extraction. In framing Trump, she makes Trump out as the destructor rather than recognizing he is not doing this from scratch but on a basis formed by Obama’s faux environmentalism with a “Clean Power Plan” and supposedly “stopping” Keystone XL and a pipeline going through Standing Rock, when he was actually just appeasing social movements, engaging in “good-natured” deception. This was able have so much influence that if Obama approved the Keystone XL pipeline, the “letdown from the high expectation levels built on the many protests would be devastating to the morale and energy of the movement.” Additionally, he was able to strongarm Gang Green to be silent on climate change, the same groups that framed his issuing of “production permits were issued to oil and gas corporations for drilling in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, both onshore and offshore” as responsible, especially the Sierra Club, and NRDC, meaning that they were cheering “Obama…eagerly bringing the total destruction of our planet’s climate and ecosystems.” Avoiding this discussion, Klein notes that many across the world are demanding “real action on climate change” (whatever that means), that Trump is pushing through varied cuts to the EPA which she says serves people of color (she seems to forget the arguments by Robert Ballard and others that the EPA has engaged in environmental racism), that prices determine which areas are drilled for fossil fuels, and that people don’t understand what neoliberalism [1] is. She then gives a tepid endorsement of “socialism” (which doesn’t mean anything radical to her), and calls for public sector investments on a large scale, which she says is more than just “tweak[ing] the existing system.” She says this despite the fact that her approaches are clearly just another “tweak” of the capitalist system.

Her next chapter notes how she is a “Berniecrat,” saying that Bernie was “the only candidate…serious about battling income inequality and taking on the banks.” [2] She also says that many establishment Democrats haven’t learned their lesson (only worried about Russian hacking now), that Trump spoke to the “economic panic” some whites faced with the idea that the election was a backlash pushed by some sexism toward Killary, with sexual abuse by “the men who surround Trump.” She says that the many voted for Trump were not among the Black and Latino populations most effected by “neoliberal policies” but were white men are losing their economic security and privilege. This doesn’t explain, however, why white women voted more for Trump than Clinton, but it cold be explains due to male dominated households, and/or that they also felt their privilege as white people was slipping. Klein continues her chapter by purposely framing social services as “entitlements” (why concede this to the right-wing?) in order to argue in favor of them, saying that “the stupid economics of neoliberalism” lost Clinton the election, again ignoring Clinton’s brand by only pointing out “Clinton’s brand of identity politics,” and talking about the “tweak[ing of] the system” to lead people of color, other genders, and sexual orientations to “the top,” with justice “to trickle down to everyone else,” which doesn’t work. G. William Domhoff noted this some time ago, but she seems to not even note his work, yet another oversight on her part. Even so, she remarks that it was “important that a generation of kids grew up seeing Obama in the most powerful office of the world.” I do not understand why, realistically this is important, with Black entertainers and politicians already, as his Black face seems just be an invitation to internalize neoliberal values with a happy face. [3] She also adds that we have to recognize how “forms of oppression intersect” (the idea of intersectionality that no progressives actually follow) as manifested in “racial capitalism” as noted by Cedric Robinson, citing another bourgeois progressive scholar named Michelle Alexander, a prison reformer, and talking about Reagan’s role in stirring up White resentment against people of color, with Trump having a role of this by calling for the return of the death penalty to execute the Central Park Five. The chapter ends by saying that white supremacy and fascism has a good breeding ground because of economic stresses, that Trump’s election should not be watered down to one or two causes since Trump (and associated forces) attack on many fronts.

The chapter after that focuses on varying topics. The first aspect is union leaders who embraced Trump who planned for more energy extraction and his bluff he will negotiate “better” deals, which will actually be “better” for him and “his corporate empire,” the capitalist class, with a “race to the bottom” for such trade deals. Even, reportedly, in a renegotiation of NAFTA will be the incorporation of horrible elements of the TPP. She did note that some union members stood up to Trump in an area he spoke, and that much of the “political battleground has been ceded by liberals to the Right.” After giving her personal experience as involved in social movements, she noted that while the movement was standing to win, the September 2001 attacks led to “shock” with the movement’s participants under attack, with those who remained active engaging in “thin and tactical” demands rather than more expansive ones. Adding to this are the facts that these demands may remove the necessary focus on the right-wing, fueling the “growth of far-right parties around the world,” with a supposed “progressive anti-free trade coalition” which is, as she won’t admit, bourgeois in character and “populist,” including those like socially democratic imperialist Bernie Sanders. In the last part of the chapter, she notes how the “super rich” like Oprah, Zuckerberg, and Elon Musk, can’t save us (despite what Ralph Nader argued), with “elite liberals” looking to a sector of the capitalist class, which she calls the “billionaire class” or the “Davos class.” It is this class which is “horrified by the Trump presidency” even though those in this group share many ideas with Trump as she places hope in “progressives” to speak about the “grotesque levels of inequality,” and that we have to “save ourselves.”

In a recent statement against torture, Sanders accepted imperial precepts, basically saying that the US is “great” and worrying about helping our “enemies.” Hence, his argument against torture is not progressive but is actually an imperialist one.

In the next chapter she again professes her support (or “love”?) of Bernie Sanders. While she says she doesn’t like candidate endorsements, she thought that Bernie “had a shot at beating Hillary Clinton” (no he didn’t), calling him a person with “genuine warmth and without personal malice,” what she claims is a “transformative option on the ballot,” although Bernie is farm from it. To be frank, she is being a cheerleader of Bernie, supporting HIS brand, now channeled through “Our Revolution” groups and his persona as inflated in bourgeois progressive media. Of course she doesn’t say she is supporting the brand, only praising him by saying that he showed that “populist” leftist positions were popular, “understanding” why people of color, women, and other marginalized people didn’t support him, citing Ta-Nehisi Coates and Michelle Alexander as “evidence.” She ends the chapter by saying that Trump won because of the “absence of a progressive alternative” (was Bernie this at all?) and that there needs to be a “radical political and economic change” whatever she means by that. It is interesting that Klein keeps changing the stated reasons why Trump won, as noted in previous paragraphs, making one wonder if she believes all of them are causes or only some of them.

Chapter 8 returns the focus to Trump. After talking about Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath of the Iraq invasion (Paul Bremmer, Dick Cheney, the Green Zone, and all), she notes that “shock tactics” follow a pattern in which a crisis is fomented (or waited or) with a moment when “extraordinary measures” are declared, some “democratic norms” are suspended, and a “corporate wishlist” is rammed through very quickly. She notes that this happened in Chile, Russia, Detroit, Flint, and many other places since the early 1970s. She notes that most neoliberal policies are unpopular apart from cutting “red tape” in theory and tax cuts (for the “middle class” or lower), which is done fast, with cover for “neoliberal political transformations” because of “radical political transitions” (which really aren’t radical), with crises exploited. Trump, as Klein puts it, embraces “shock doctrine logic” (referring to her 2007 book, The Shock Doctrine), with his philosophy of being a winner, extracting from those who suffer like a vampire. The idea of what she calls “disaster capitalism” is embodied in his cabinet in every possibly way, with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as a blueprint, the idea of what “we” can expect from Trump apparently. It is in this context she calls Muammar Gaddafi a “despised dictator,” without elaborating. While criticism of Gaddafi is warranted, especially when it comes to his relations with the West, calling him a dictator shows she doesn’t understand international solidarity and has internalized imperialistic logic. As Commie Dad writes,

“Qaddafi was ousted after a set of imperialist-backed rebels launched a racist campaign to topple a revolutionary government in North Africa, which succeeded precisely because of NATO’s assistance. He died beaten, broken, sodomized, tortured, and executed in a muddy sewage pipe without trial…The DPRK did not suffer the same fate as Libya precisely because it did not disarm [which some say opened up to invasion]”

Her next chapter follows a similar format. It starts by focusing on those who profited off Hurricane Katrina, cites Omidyar’s plaything, The Intercept, uncritically, says that having a “state of emergency” after a disaster, like Trump would want, is not unprecedented: the Conservative government of the UK did this after attacks in March 2017 and the French government of social democratic Francois Hollande did this in 2015. She goes on to note Trump’s closeness to Eric Prince of Blackwater and its mercenaries, how Trump’s policies help ISIS (is that purposeful?), and that countries like Syria and the DPRK are targets. Again she doesn’t even try to reject imperialistic propaganda about the two countries, implying that Syria committed chemical attacks (inadvertently playing into propaganda of the White Helmets) and that the DPRK, which she calls “North Korea,” is somehow menacing. She shows this in the rest of the chapter, talking about Exxon, citing a person she even defines as a “right-wing, Ukrainian-born British [oil] businessman,” Alexander Temerko uncritically, calling Vladimir Putin a “strongman” and basically an imperialist. She also doesn’t even try to defend Venezuela, which she only briefly describes as an oil-dependent country. It is much more than that, it is a place that exercises popular democracy, a beacon for those who want a better world as Commie Dad argued, just like Cuban socialism. Even so, Klein does not that antiwar action should be paired with “averting climate chaos,” notes how removing Obama’s tepid economic reforms, specifically Dodd-Frank, will lead to disaster, with varied descriptions of “shocks” and Trump’s reactions, with people in luxury building shelters to protect themselves or “Green Zones” while the rest of the world are unprotected and vulnerable or “Red Zones.” In the last part of the chapter she treats the “Syrian uprising” in 2011 as legitimate (although it wasn’t), talks about where drone strikes have occurred, along with a “dramatic rise in right-wing nationalism anti-Black racism, Islamophobia, and straight-up white supremacy,” adding that we have it “in our power to change ourselves,” engage in “shock resistance.”

Her next chapter focuses on the failure of the “shock doctrine” as she calls it. She talks about the Trump administration strategy to “overwhelm their adversaries” with a multipronged attack, how Argentina said no to neoliberalism even though political changes were “far from utopian,” how Spain did the same during the Iraq war, and the fact that “past traumatic events” in US history were broadly misunderstood. From here, she focuses on resistance to Trump from groups across various movements and lauds the Women’s March not critiquing its neoliberal elements as Feminist Current did at the time, especially its pro-prostitution position, with a lot of hype. She further says there is a “spirit of unity” among anti-Trump forces, specifically against his Muslim ban (and in favor of “sanctuary cities” which are not all they claim to be), supporting science (and new activists among students of all types), donors to Planned Parenthood, and other protests across the world against neoliberalism. She floats the thought that many activist relationships made now will be strong enough during a state of emergency (we’ll see about that). It is clear that she seems to laud the “Indivisible Guide” despite the fact it is defensive in nature and basically copies Tea Party tactics, and praises the March for Science despite the fact it was mostly dominated by bourgeois science. Again, her argument clearly lacking in Marxist theory and analysis, showing she is not thinking critically in a holistic manner and is totally embracing bourgeois progressivism.

The chapter following this focuses on resistance to “shock” tactics and how Obama supposedly did good (really?) but abandoned many opportunities as a time for change. She admits that in 2009, “too many of us were waiting for change to be delivered on high” with the “us” undoubtedly including herself. In 2008 she called for Obama to denounce Islamophobia, but also took Obama at his word that he would “purge Washington of the scourge of Friedmanism,” although she said he had “ideological housecleaning of his own to do,” and seemed to support Obama’s idea of a “promise of change” warily. She quickly summarizes US history of destruction, exploitation, and genocide, lauding progressive “public policy,” not remembering that Social Security was crafted by corporate moderates. She seems to recognize that radicals and social movements in the past and that the New Deal was used by Roosevelt to “save capitalism” in order to “prevent full-scale revolution,” with the saving of capitalism almost seeming as a necessity to her. Revolution of the type they had in mind seems foreign to her, even as she recognizes that many programs were used to blunt popular movements. The chapter is ended by talking about the struggle against neoliberalism and how social movements should be about “yes” instead of just “no” (why so reductionist?).

Another screenshot from the Soviet animated film “Mr. Wolf.”

Her next to last chapter focuses on Standing Rock. While she completely describes the struggle against the Dakota Access pipeline, a perspective that fully understands indigenous history, connecting with genocidal policies against them is lacking, only briefly mentioned. The chapter is instead just a recounting of the resistance at Standing Rock, relating it to other struggles as she uses racist words like “tribe” instead of group or nation. She ends the chapter by almost casting Obama’s administration as heroes for rejecting the pipeline through Standing Rock, although his administration just declared that “things are on hold at Lake Oahe until the powers that be think it through some more” giving people the “illusion of victory” as Kelly Hayes argued. In contrast she casts Trump as a villain for allowing the pipeline to go through Standing Rock. This is inaccurate as the reality is that Trump AND Obama were villains, each in their own way.

Her last chapter declares that a major “transformative change” needs to happen (which is just empty rhetoric). She cites a story of political discussions in Canada, how Black and Brown people being killed is connected to climate change, how those who “use and abuse” women’s bodies” is connected with the notion that humans can “do the same thing to the earth,” what she calls a “dominance-based logic.” She could have taken this to the next step, calling for an end to speciesism, endorsement of some level of animal rights or such, but she didn’t do so, of course. Klein adds that there needs to be more than modesty, a “people’s shock,” with a “grand economic and political transition” with the description of what went into creating their magical Leap Manifesto. This is the same document that is part of the “marketed and branded opposition to capitalism” with opposition limited to certain forms of capitalism like “Crony capitalism” , “corporate capitalism” and “the excesses of capitalism” which were used by “Avi Lewis for Klein’s NGO campaign, “The Leap Manifesto”” with anti-capitalist expression become “hallowed” out, to say the least. She also says that an “economy built on destruction” should be replaced “with an economy built on love.” So, we should have “loving” capitalism then? How will that be any better? After going on about how the manifesto was made, specifics not worth noting here, she says that people can “save themselves” and remains optimistic about social movements, mainly to county Trump and his policies. She even notes that the “center-left” New Democratic Party in Canada passed a resolution to “endorse the spirit of the Leap Manifesto,” making it clear it is bourgeois and milquetoast, regardless of what Klein says about it.

Screenshot from the Soviet animated film “Mr. Wolf”

Finally there is her conclusion. She says that Trump should be a shock at all, with more horror at Trump than shock, seeing his presidency as a “dystopian fiction come to life,” implying that she still doesn’t fully grasp the reality, and saying that Trump is the “logical culmination of the current neoliberal system.” Her solution? Say no and fiercely protect “some space to dream and plan for a better world.” That sounds pretty worthless to me, especially the dreaming part. She also says we should kill out “inner Trump” with which we see “ourselves as brands in the marketplace…as rival products competing for market share,” joining those who “shame and attack those who disagreement with us. She ends by saying that centrist parties aren’t the solution but apparently bourgeois progressives are (they aren’t), that the “spell of neoliberalism has been broken,” pushing for a “plank in a true people’s platform,” and resisting what she claims is a “corporate coup.”

Ending her book is a postscript titled “The Leap Manifesto.” The document calls for respecting inherent rights of indigenous communities, “fully implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” the idea that there should be “energy democracy,” and that indigenous peoples should receive “public support for clean energy projects” as should communities dealing with health impacts from “polluting industrial activity.” This manifesto also calls for building of energy-efficient homes, retrofitting existing housing (starting with the poor), training for workers in carbon-intensive jobs for a “clean energy economy,” renewable-powered high-speed rail, “affordable public transit,” investing in decaying public infrastructure, and moving to a “more localized and ecologically based agricultural system.” Other demands include ending corporate-friendly trade deals, ensuring immigration status, and protection for workers, expanding low-carbon sectors of the economy, having a national childcare program, and universal basic income. The last parts of the manifesto reject austerity as a concept, push for end to fossil fuel subsidies, vow support for any policy based on the “polluter pays” principle, calling for town hall meetings across the country, and moving to a system where all votes county while “corporate money is removed from political campaigns.” While this may be more than those on Canada’s political scene are offering (I hope there is something more radical), it is very constrained. It could be said to be “bold” but it is definitely NOT revolutionary as it is abstracted from social movements, revolutionary struggle or international solidarity.

There are a few words I have to say before closing out this article, Klein makes a good point about Trump as a brand but misses many other points because of her bourgeois progressivism. The major point she misses is obvious: she IS a brand. She is among the “heat vampire” including celebrated bourgeois progressives, like Rebecca Solnit and Chris Hayes, that Tarzie wrote about. As Luke Orsbourne wrote in December 2015, she had an “enormous following…best selling books, and perhaps most glaringly, the megaphone and media attention the Guardian had just given her to write her own piece of acquiescence,” condemning climate change marchers outside COP 21 that year, just like 350.org and others. Others added that her book slogan, for This Changes Everything, was “used to advance capital” which was pushed by the Ford Foundation and The Rockefeller Brothers Fund and that she is part of a brand called 350.org/1Sky, which used the Obama brand in their anti-KXL campaign logo, allowing there to be a “pro-Obama, pro-Democrat veneer” to their logo, with their campaign reinforcing the illusion that “change” is still in front of us, reinforcing the thirst in society for “lies that enable the populace to continue to ignore reality…[and] disregard our collective role in it.”

The book itself, with the title “No Is Not Enough” on an orange background, with the letters in white except the word Not (in red) with praises from Arundhai Roy, Noam Chomsky, Junot Diaz, Michelle Alexander, Cornel West, Bill McKibben, Yanis Varovfakis, Michael Stripe, Keeanga Yamatitta Taylor, Danny Glover, and Eve Ensler. Could there not be a bigger panoply of (mostly) bourgeois progressives, some of whom have their own brands consisting of themselves? [4] Hence, Klein herself is a brand “in the marketplace” as was alluded to earlier in this article, and is part of a bigger brand: Haymarket Books. Sure, they sell book of “radical” and progressive authors, but they engaging in branding, just like Verso Books. As was noted in a recent article,

“Today, brands, ideologies, and even invasions of sovereign states, achieve authenticity through association. Thus, celebrity has become as vital a tool for empire as the NGO itself. Together they are akin to nuclear fusion…Today’s 21st century powerhouse NGOs have proven successfully that hate can be neutralized, and even be turned into adoration, as demonstrated by Avaaz co-founder, MoveOn.org. In a world of make-believe where lies are preferred over truth, charismatic warmongers of the past (Barack Obama) are embraced while vulgar warmongers in the present (Donald Trump) are crucified among the allegedly “unbiased left”. Branding supersedes reality straight across the board”

Furthermore, the organization she is part of, 350.org, is branding to the max, which is interesting considering it is not mentioned AT ALL in this book, apart from the dust jacket. The book itself is a product, a commodity to put in more evident terms. How can Klein not recognize she is a brand? The same goes for Matt Taibbi, Edward Snowden, Michelle Alexander, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, and Chris Hedges, to name a few. These members of the “celebrity left,” as some have called it, are not the only brands. Bourgeois progressive media like Truthdig, Democracy Now!, Mother Jones, and the Nation, foundations like the Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and non-profits like Public Citizen are all brands. This lack of understanding shows that while Klein is knowledgeable, she is lacking radicalism, and is, for all her rhetoric, fine with regulated capitalism, while she does not engage in international solidarity. Hence, she falls into the category of those who “brand ourselves as moral citizens standing in unity with Indigenous nations” while maintaining capitalism, the same people who are willfully blind “to the Bakken frack oil,” and are not aware of how “Obama’s move into WWF headquarters…could be an acceleration of the implementation of payments for ecosystems services…by the world’s most powerful institutions and states.” This is a book she in which she only mentions Marx in passing and never uses any of his idea or that of Marxists to form her understanding of ANYTHING. In the end, we can read Klein’s claptrap if we want to (I don’t recommend it) but we should always remember she is a brand, a commodity, and a “heat vampire.”

 

Notes

[1] She defines neoliberalism as an “extreme form of capitalism…shorthand for an economic project that vilifies the public sphere and anything that’s not…the workings of the market or the decisions of individual consumers…the primary tools of this project are…privatization…deregulation…cuts to public services…[and] corporate-friendly trade deals.”

[2] She claims that “if the Right specializes in turning backward, the Left specializes in turning inward and firing at each other in a circular hail of blame.” So there aren’t internal conflicts on the Right? This is a very pessimistic view to say the least, even if she is right ultimately.

[3] As Ajamu Baraka wrote in 2015, “…the lack of moral outrage and opposition to the reactionary policies of Barack Obama is changing and will change even more rapidly as the new generation of black activists shift the center of oppositional politics back to the radical black tradition.”

[4] The Michelle Alexander Brand, the Bill McKibben Brand, the Eve Ensler Brand, and the Noam Chomsky Brand for example.

“Something which most other developing countries would envy”: The DPRK’s healthcare system

Medical workers brainstorm at the South Hamgyong Provincial People’s Hospital. Courtesy of The Pyongyang Times.

Since June 19, the bourgeois media has been brimming with reports of the death of 22-year-old White college student from Cincinnati, Ohio, Otto Frederick Warmbier. While the family was happy to hear that their son was released from the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), they were the ones that fueled the media firestorm. Warmbier’s father claimed that the DPRK had “murdered” their son, who had died in a coma possibly from an infection or blood clot, leading to anger in subsequent days from unhinged Trump and “reserved” Tillerson, leading to a new “wedge” between the US and the DPRK. [1] As some media reported, the DPRK may have released him in hopes of making a deal with Trump. Of course, the orange menace, the fascist in a suit, didn’t want to make a deal, only knowing his “negotiation” tactics from his days as a ruthless real estate magnate and his overrated “Celebrity Apprentice” show on NBC. As the days went out, the bourgeois media, in another rash of imperial propaganda, cited varied “experts” who said they were “baffled” with the DPRK’s behavior, with John McCain, Marco Rubio, and Mike Turner following suit, and the anti-DPRK columnists coming out of the ground like moles, claiming that the DPRK “murdered” Warmbier, even though he seems to have sought regime change in the country. [2] Even the Republic of Korea (ROK), often called “South Korea” in the West, joined in the criticism. Furthermore, any future tours to the DPRK by Young Pioneer Tours has ended, with a possible ban of US tourism to the country floated. The former should be no big loss because the company seems very Orientalist while the latter is just meant to reinforce the empire’s perceptions on the US populace. [3]

On Otto Warmbier

The murderous empire won’t rest, from its proposed hideous sanctions to condemning the DPRK’s government as brutal and “oppressive.” Tillerson said that much in his remarks on June 19 on Warmbier: “we hold North Korea accountable for Otto Warmbier’s unjust imprisonment, and demand the release of three other Americans who have been illegally detained.” Later in this article, I’ll get the subject of whether his imprisonment is “unjust” which I do not think it is. There are three US citizens imprisoned in the DPRK. One of them, a businessperson named Kim Dong Chul admitted to CNN that he spied on behalf of “South Korean conservative elements” in 2015, saying that they “asked me to help destroy the (North Korean) system and spread propaganda against the government,” starting his spy work in April 2013, including bribing residents who would gather “important materials,” which he smuggled south or into China. [4] The other two were an academic named Kim Sang-duk or Tony Kim who committed “hostile criminal acts with an aim to subvert the country” which was not related to his teaching, and Kim Hak-song, “a man who was doing business in relation to the operation of Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.” As for Warmbier, a student of Virginia University, he was encouraged to rip down a patriotic banner in a restricted area of the hotel by a member of Friendship United Methodist Church, a secretive university organization, and even the CIA, which some scowled at as only an “accusation.” Truthfully, on January 26, DPRK’s government arrested him for perpetrating a hostile act against the country “after entering it under the guise of tourist for the purpose of bringing down the foundation of its single-minded unity at the tacit connivance of the U.S. government and under its manipulation.” [5] He further admitted this about less than months later. He told, to the Supreme Court of the DPRK, the nature of his crime and asked for forgiveness (across the bourgeois media are video clips of him crying):

On December 29, 2015, I entered the DPRK as a tourist. On January 1, 2016, I committed severe crimes against the DPRK. The task was given to me by the Friendship United Methodist Church. At the encouragement of the Z Society and the connivance of the United States Administration, I came to commit this task. The aim of my task was to harm the motivation and work ethic of the Korean people.This was a very foolish aim…Sharon Webb…deaconess in the Friendship United Methodist Church…said that communist nations rally around political slogans. She asked me to take an important political slogan from North Korea to be hung in her church as a “trophy”. She continued to say that by taking this slogan, we would harm the unity and motivation of the North Korean people and show this country an insult from the West…She offered me a used car worth $10,000 if I was successful. And she said if I was detained and not returned, her church would pay $200,000 to my mother in a way of charitable donations. Since my family is suffering from very severe financial difficulties, I started to consider this as my only golden opportunity to earn money…He said my plan of action would certainly help the Z Society’s goal of spreading “freedom” and eliminating “tyranny”. He said if I was successful, he promised me that he would help me become a member in the Z Society. [6]

The same day, the state media of the DPRK reported that those attending the trial were citizens from “different walks of life” and after his “written indictment confirming his crimes was submitted” the “court sentenced him to fifteen years of hard labor” for violating article 60 of the DPRK’s criminal code. After looking at varied sources (here, here, and here) one English translation of the criminal code, [7] stated the following about article 60, which concerns terrorism:

A person who kills, abducts or injures cadres or people with anti-state purposes shall be punished by reform through labour for more than five years. In cases where the person commits a grave offence, he or she shall be punished by life-term reform through labour or the death penalty, and confiscation of property.

In this case, it was a “grave offence.”

Fast forward to the aftermath of Warmbier’s death. The US doctors have belayed propaganda claims, saying that Warmbier was NOT tortured or abused (as his family falsely claims), but that “beyond minor skin blemishes consistent with medical care they found no evidence of fractures or trauma to his body” with the DPRK sending medical records back with him! [8] If they really had tortured him, which they didn’t, they wouldn’t even send any records. Another article says that there is no evidence Warmbier was injured with the MRI scan showing brain damage and that “the medical team at Cincinnati got some medical records from the North Koreans and they said the records show Warmbier has been in this condition since April of last year” but that there is no evidence “of broken bones or other physical abuse, and scans of his head and neck looked normal, except for the damage to his brain.” [9]

Of course, the DPRK released him “according to a humanitarian judgment of the DPRK’s Central Court” on June 13, 2017. [10] In days that followed, with the propaganda about his condition, the DPRK showed they were in the right. The Foreign Ministry said that the US administration is engaging in an ” anti-DPRK smear campaign by abusing the humanitarian measure taken by the DPRK” and said that “Warmbier is clearly a criminal sentenced to reform through labor in accordance with the DPRK law” and that he confessed on February 29, 2016 “in tears that he had committed hostile act against the DPRK,” with the US making “every frantic effort to disparage the prestige of the dignified DPRK and stifle it while imposing heinous sanctions.” [11] They also noted that US doctors argued that Warmbier was provided with medical treatment in the DPRK, with his death a mystery, questioning why the Obama administration never “made an official request for the release of Warmbier on humanitarian basis.” This is worth noting since they “had no reason at all to show mercy to such a criminal of the enemy state” but provided him necessary medical care anyway. [12]

With Warmbier’s family interestingly declining an autopsy of their son, which will allow rumors to continue, those at least partially (or more fully) sympathetic to the DPRK have not been united. One site, called “Young DRPK watchers” has two opinions on this subject. [13] One says that “Otto Warmbier’s situation arose from neglect and medical incompetence, [rather] than abuse” with American prisoners not “physically harmed at all and are also fed well” and that the DPRK’s medical system is divided into levels for the privileged and everyone else (internalizing imperial propaganda by saying this), concluding that Warmbier “may have fell into the coma as a consequence of an unknown medical condition” with neglect by the DPRK. The other, by the same author, admitting that Warmbier is a victim but is also “an inflated symbol of American privilege.” Both of these opinions are better than that in the bourgeois, they fall into the category of concessions which Vngiapaganda warned about in a post almost a year ago. The same is the case in an article on Stop Imperialism on Warmbier’s death. It accepts ths possibility that the DPRK murdered him, which is giving in too much to the bourgeois media narrative. All in all, these opinions are better than the seething Chinese netizens which seem be in up in arms about the DPRK, which is unfortunate to say the least.

DRPK’s healthcare and medical system

Korean doctor in Pyongyang talking about new medical system in 2013.

With the death of Warmbier,the bourgeois media, capitalists, and their lackeys, along with those not adequately informed by the subject (the US public in general) is acting like the DPRK has a medical system that resembles people conducting voodoo (or their perception of people doing this) to “cure people” or wish them “ill.” I’m specifically thinking of those curses conducted by voodoo practitioner, Minerva, in the Hollyweird box office “bomb” titled Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, based on the book of the same name. It seemed to be the best example of this mentality which could come to mind, with people acting like the DPRK are in the “dark ages” of medicine and have some archaic medical system.

The propaganda about the DPRK’s health system is nothing new. The Daily NK (an anti-DPRK outlet),  the Los Angeles Times, BBC News, The Week, The Telegraph, NY Daily News have declared that the DPRK doesn’t care about healthcare and has a shotty (or “horrifying”) system, which some even thought was on the “brink of collapse.” [14] Much of this imperial propaganda, only some of the publications named above, with some within medical journals as well, was fed by an Amnesty report in 2010 titled “North Korea: The crumbling state of health care in North Korea.” As the report admitted, they conducted interviews “with North Koreans who have settled abroad” since the DPRK (rightly) has not let these humanitarian imperialists into their country, making the report pure propaganda. [15] Luckily, some on the international level know the report is BS. As the bourgeois media reported, the World Health Organization said that Amnesty’s report was based on a small sample of people of those who left the country, with WHO spokesperson Paul Garwood saying “all the facts are from people who aren’t in the country. There’s no science in the research,” not mentioning recent improvements to healthcare in the country, even as he made the concession that Amnesty’s accounts could be “credible” (they aren’t by definition) while saying that Amnesty is not “taking into account some of the things that are happening today” in terms of healthcare in the DPRK. [16]

Numerous anti-DPRK accounts even admit the advantages of the DPRK’s system. In words criticizing the medical system in the country, one student doctor, had to “grudgingly” admit that the country has well-trained dentists and has a stress on exercise, among other aspects. [17] Even the Library of Congress in their broadly “anti-communist” report on the DPRK, written in 2008, had to admit this. He said that medical care is provided free of charge, that physical exercise is a major focus, and that there are nationwide medical check ups, especially at routine places like schools, factories, offices, and farms. Furthermore, they added that people receive a lifetime health card, the government has been aggressive attacking of diseases that cause epidemics (they say with spraying of DDT and other chemicals), and a high number of physicians and hospitals per capita, one of the highest in the world. [18] They add that more than 75% in the medical profession are women, with most hospitals as general hospitals, many clustered around Pyongyang, and no smoking in hospitals. Even with the supposed drawbacks, like shortages in medicines (because of sanctions), claims of variation in medical care, and economic problems weakened medical system [19], among others, the pages note that there has been a dramatic improvement in life longevity in the country ravaged by famine caused by Western imperial sanctions. Perhaps such “criticisms” shouldn’t be a surprise since most of chapter, which this information is within in, based on declassified CIA report. Even so, it is impressive that the CIA is even admitting the success of socialism in the DPRK and benefiting the Korean people.

Commie Dad’s writing on this topic, within an article about the DPRK’s centrally-planned economy, is worth noting. He notes how UN sanctions prevented a pharmaceutical company “from importing the chemicals it needed for a healthcare project in the DPRK countryside” and that the DPRK “still guarantees universal healthcare to its people,” which the US hasn’t done, a fact even acknowledged by anti-DPRK author Barbara Demick and a CIA report which acknowledges DPRK’s achievements in “free health care, and preventive medicine; and infant mortality and life expectancy rates comparable to the most advanced countries until the recent famine.” [20] He adds that the remarkable public healthcare system of the DPRK, providing ” unconditional universal coverage for citizens”continues to perform well, citing the words of Dr. Margaret Chan, the WHO’s Director-General, calling the country’s healthcare system “something which most other developing countries would envy,” pointing out that the “DPRK has no lack of doctors and nurses,” further praising their system for its “very elaborate health infrastructure, starting from the central to the provincial to the district level.” This quote about envy is used in the title of this article, which also notes the country’s comprehensive healthcare, saying that authorities recognize malnutrition is a problem but it is less of an issue than in the past, and the quality of their healthcare system. [21] Of course, the reactionaries are seething at this pronouncement. A Heritage Foundation fellow claimed WHO was “defend[ing] the North Korean government,” citing the horrid Amnesty report and US State Department, along with varied bourgeois media, while American Thinker was shocked at her “praise” of what they called a “totalitarian and rogue nuclear-armed police state.” [22] The only country that falls into that category is the United States (and its client states in the Mideast, along with Western European capitalist states), not the DPRK. These reactionaries would find friends in the US State Department, which warns US citizens to not go into DPRK hospitals…because then they will learn that the system is excellent? [23]

While, in the murderous empire, the GOP fights to pass a healthcare bill that would “increase the number of people who are uninsured by 22 million” by 2026 and the Dems fight to keep their insurance-friendly “Obamacare,” the DPRK already has universal healthcare. As I noted in my previous post about the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) and democracy within the DPRK, this unicameral legislative body has enacted laws putting in place “perfect and universal free medical care.” [24] The DPRK not only provides rights and duties of citizens “based on the collectivist principle,” but they have the right to “right to education and free medical care and freedom of scientific, literary and artistic pursuits” along with equal rights for men and women. Furthermore, in January 1947, the DPRK enforced “free medical care for workers, office workers and their dependents” with universal free medical care enforced since January 1953, and complete  “universal free medical care” since February 1960, meaning that the state totally bears “the expenses of medical checkups and treatment, bed and board in hospitals, medicines, and even travel costs to and from sanatoria.” This commitment is manifested not only by the type of care the citizens receive but through the establishment of Pyongyang Medical University, the top medical school in the country which was founded in 1948 “when the Department of Medical Science at Kim Il Sung University became an independent university.” [26]

The achievements of this Korean healthcare system are widely acknowledged. While one Cornell medical student (who talked with “the chair of Pyongyang Medical College’s Department of Neurosurgery for 90 minutes”) grumbled that the free medical system comes with “many costs of personal freedom” (his Western bourgeois concept of freedom) with government permission required, and physicians not more highly paid than others, if we are to believe him on that aspect, did admit the following:

“[The medical students] smiled and very proudly told me that the government sends students to college for free – and that is consistent with the medical system, that it’s also free. Even intensive surgeries do not cost a penny…Everything I saw was very unique. Exploring the city [Pyongyang] was unreal. All buildings were beautiful and big – often with posters of the two great leaders in front, which gave off a little eerie feeling. American media give the idea that North Korea is constantly brewing with missiles, focusing on the unreasonable rulers…but the everyday life of North Koreans, at least in the capital, nearly mirrors ours. It was an incredible privilege to meet North Koreans and hear their sentiments, to physically see the land – and in that I realized that they were my fellow people, that we speak the same language, love our families and are all humans. Understanding is the first key to any peace and compromise.”

The WHO notes that the country has a life expectancy of 67 years, or over 70 years if you are relying on the CIA World Factbook, which is impressive. Other data shows that while 3.7% of population drinks, mostly among men over 15 and not women, 78.9% abstain from drinking, with recorded alcohol consumption is steady over time, not increasing since the 1960s significantly. [27] Furthermore, while tobacco usage is strong among males, with almost half of males, smoking, smoke-free legislation affecting hospitals, non-university educational facilities, and public transit. There is also strong tobacco cessation support, partial funding of tobacco cessation, warning on tobacco packages, no tobacco vending machines.

An event takes place at the People’s Palace of Culture on World No Tobacco Day. Photograph is courtesy of the Pyongyang Times.

This is manifested by the fact that late last month, at the People’s Palace of Culture, the country honored World No Tobacco Day. During that day, as the Pyongyang Times reported, officials of the country’s Public Health Ministry, resident diplomatic missions, and international health organizations, talked about how tobacco is a threat to development.The Vice-Director of the Public Health Ministry, Choe Suk Hyon, was quoted as saying that they made achievements in tobacco control the previous year, saying the following:

“What is important in tobacco control is to conduct large scale educational campaigns to publicize the negative impact of smoking on the health and socio-economic life. And we should strengthen scientific research on smoking cessation products which help quit smoking.”

Others, like the representative of the WHO to the DPRK, praised the Korean females in the country for being at the “vanguard of no-smoking campaign” but still wanted them to help their “fathers, husbands, boyfriends and sons to quit smoking if they are smokers” and noted that there is a “newly-revised tobacco control law of the DPRK” with no-smoking “information activities were conducted at the central and provincial hygienic information halls and medical institutions across the country.” While the US has developed strong anti-smoking measures as well, there is still a formidable tobacco industry in the United States, something the DPRK doesn’t have.

Apart from strong tobacco control, low alcohol consumption, and general healthcare in the country, there are a number of other accomplishments. For one, infant mortality declined from 1990s to present (same with people with tuberculosis), there has been a relatively steady amount in people with HIV/ AIDS (the country is likely an “AIDS free zone” by now), and immunization for DTP3 among children under 1 almost 100%. Furthermore, maternal death rate has also dramatically declined, less stunting of children than on the past, strong antenatal care, 100% of births attended by skilled health personnel, and broad measles immunization. If that isn’t enough, there almost complete treatment for tuberculosis, obesity is not a major cause for death (like in the US) but rather it is raised blood pressure among those in their twenties, and much of the population is using improved water and sanitation, to name a few. [28] Other WHO reports show that the population receives Vitamin A supplements to counter some deficiencies, and that the under five mortality rate has been dropping rapidly.

In one medical article apart from the others, there is some praise of the DPRK. In an article that is broadly against the country, the medical researchers must admit that “the burden of mortality due to communicable diseases and malnutrition in North Korea is relatively low in terms of both quantity, expressed in the death rate, and quality,” that tuberculosis’s “mortality rates have declined continuously in the past 15 years.” In one article of a “country study” of the DPRK, it is noted that back in 1938-40 life expectancy was only 38 years old, while it was “70.9 years for males and 77.3 years for females” by 1986, with infant mortality declining, a ” substantial increase in the number of hospitals and clinics, hospital beds, physicians, and other health-care personnel since the 1950s,” growing from 285 in 1955 to 2,401 in 1986, with specialized hospitals, “including those devoted to treating tuberculosis, hepatitis, and mental illness, are generally found in large cities,” and preventive medicine a major focus. Adding to this, a public health law was passed in April 1980 saying that the “State regards it as a main duty in its activity to take measures to prevent the people from being afflicted by disease and directs efforts first and foremost to prophylaxis in public health work” while medical examinations are “required twice a year, and complete records are kept at local hospitals” with a high value afforded on “traditional herbal medicine” and physical education an important part of public health with people “encouraged to take part in recreational sports activities such as running, gymnastics, volleyball, ice skating, and traditional Korean games” along with “group gymnastic exercises.”

There are further aspects worth noting. For one, even with the “development of informal health-care practices” in the country since the 1990s, this sector has actually contributed to the “formal socialist health-care system.” In 2007, the DPRK spent 3.02% of its GDP on health expenditures. In 2013, the DPRK spent 38.8% of their budget that year on “health, education, sport, music, art and culture” with an increase of 2.2% for healthcare spending.It is also worth noting that even the World Food Programme must admit that most households aren’t food insecure (see page 33 of this PDF), belaying claims of “famine” in the country.

Recent developments

Kim Jong Un inspects dental care supplies factory. Photograph is courtesy of the Pyongyang Times.

There have been numerous developments of the DPRK’s socialist healthcare system in recent years. In 2010, with the help of WHO, the country launched a “medical video conference network Tuesday aimed at giving smaller, rural hospitals access to specialists in the capital Pyongyang.” [29] Three years later, the DPRK developed a  “clinical medicine information service system” which contained “details on 12,000 pharmaceuticals and 154,000 kinds of medicines from more than 50 countries” as Voice of Korea, a state media outlet, noted.

There are other aspects worth noting. While the DPRK has requested medical aid from the UN (since they are under harsh sanctions), they have still made strides. [30] Last year, the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology noted that it was testing a 3D printer for use in medical settings, with likely some progress made. This month The Pyongyang Times reported that a two-storey new people’s hospital opened in Tongsinhung-ri with “over  10 rooms for special treatment and sophisticated homemade medical and experimental apparatuses” and is part of “the telemedicine system whereby it is connected to such central hospitals…[and] linked online to provincial, city and county hospitals.” [31] It was also noted that using this system, the “latest medical science and technology are disseminated and training courses are given by medical workers at central hospitals,” with increased abilities, with telemedicine,”in raising their abilities as well as in treating patients.” Less than a week ago, Kim Jung Un, the chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), chairman of the DPRK State Affairs Commission and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army, inspected the newly built Dental Care Supplies Factory, which has a floor space of 12,720 square metres, with the factory able to “turn out annually tens of millions of tubes of toothpaste, mouthwash and a variety of dental care supplies.” [32] In that visit he noted that “the Party [WPK] and government are taking full responsibility for the people’s lives and health and that such socialist healthcare is one and only in the world,” adding that factories like this are “needed to ensure the people lead a worthwhile life enjoying themselves the benefits of socialist healthcare.”

Like Cuba, which sends doctors abroad, the DPRK also sends doctors abroad for humanitarian reasons. Even those with anti-DPRK beliefs have to admit this. In July of last year, the DPRK’s ambassador, Jang Myong Ho, visited the al-Assad University Hospital in Damascus, affirming the country’s readiness to support and aid Syria’s health sector, hailing the medical services provided by the hospital, saying that Syrian government had a “just health policy and commitment to provide free treatment to all citizens despite the difficult economic conditions under the current crisis.” He also added that this anniversary of 50 years diplomatic and friendly bilateral relations between the DPRK and Syria is “historical and exemplary,” noting that these relations have been “developed and enhanced” over the years.

With all of this, perhaps it is no surprise that the proposed sanctions would have targeted the healthcare system of the DPRK and their socialist economy also, of course. As I noted in my post on these sanctions,

[while] these sanctions show that the imperial monitoring of “the territory, waters, or airspace of North Korea” shall not apply to those vessels or planes which “import food, medicine, or supplies into North Korea,” the fact that there would be monitoring by the US Navy (and Air Force?) is undoubtedly an act of war…Section 104(a), part of an anti-DPRK sanctions law which went into effect last year, mentioned in the above quote as part of the imperial monitoring, shows these efforts are aimed at the DPRK’s socialist, centrally-planned economy

Concluding words

At the Korean Rehabilitation Centre for Children with Disability. Courtesy of Imgur, assembled in an album and posted on /r/communism by yours truly.

The healthcare system of the DPRK should be celebrated as an achievement of socialism, not something to ridicule. While the bourgeois media focus on the country’s “problems” there is no doubt that they don’t want people to know of these successes. With the ROK having one of the “world’s highest suicide rates, having overtaken that of Japan” and the leading “cause of death is cancer, followed by cerebrovascular and heart disease” even with their “universal health insurance system that is compulsory and covers employees and their relatives (National Health Insurance, NHI),” there are high doctor consulting fees, and “long waiting lines for treatment and high costs.” The DPRK doesn’t have those issues and doesn’t work with the US to streamline their system to help the Western capitalist class. There are many other resources I could have consulted to finish up this article. [33] As good comrades, we should stand in solidarity with the DPRK against the clear imperialist aggressors. Anyone who doesn’t do so is not only not a real comrade, but they also are not a communist in name or action.

The life within the DPRK and the country’s policies are not what the West says it is. The country has stood by those fighting for national liberation, has a developed socialistic democracy, and has celebrated the International Day of Persons With Disabilities in 2015, and in years afterward (and before). The country has worked with the UNDP to increase its food security and food production.

Some say that the country became “revisionist” after 1972. Those issues will be addressed in another post when I look at all countries which are called “revisionist.” Here is not the place for that. Rather, it is better to let people make up their own minds about the DPRK. This can come through reading a number of books, or looking at other resources. [34] If a war with the DPRK occurs, started by the unhinged fascist, Trump, who can be easily swayed, we should be prepared to support it even if all many of those in our host country (especially if you live in the West) support the war with a fervor. Not standing by the DPRK and against war would show the weakness of “the Left” and prove the capitalists had “won,” something that none of us want.

Notes

[1] Samuel Smith, “22-Y-O American Otto Warmbier Dies After Spending 17 Months in North Korean Prison,” Christian Post, June 19, 2017; Stacey Leasca, “Otto Warmbier: A timeline of the American student’s capture and release in North Korea,” Mic.com, June 19, 2017; Shreesha Gosh, “Donald Trump Says Otto Warmbier Death Caused By North Korea’s ‘Brutal Regime’,” International Business Times, June 20, 2017; Josh Lederman and Matthew Pennington, “Efforts of one U.S. official bring Otto Warmbier home,” AP, June 18, 2017; David Choi, “‘No words were spoken’ — Otto Warmbier’s roommate in North Korea describes the day Warmbier was arrested,” Business Insider, June 19, 2017; Andy Sharp, “Student’s Death Puts Trump Back to Square One on North Korea,” Bloomberg News, June 20, 2017; Maggie Fox, “What Killed Otto Warmbier? Maybe an Infection or Blood Clot,” NBC News, June 20, 2017; Patrick Grafton Green, “Who is Otto Warmbier? Why did North Korea imprison him? How did he die? All we know on late American student,” Evening Standard, June 20, 2017; Otto Warmbier dies days after release from North Korean detention,” Washington Post, June 19, 2017; Choe Sang-Hun, “Otto Warmbier’s Death a New Wedge Between U.S. and North Korea,” New York Times, June 20, 2017. Months of diplomacy for this release seemed to fade into the background.

[2] Fuster Kung, “Death of American detained in North Korea baffles experts,” AP, June 20, 2017, reprinted in the Washington Post; CNN Wire, “John McCain: North Korea ‘murdered’ former detainee Otto Warmbier,” NBC 4, June 20, 2017; Fred Haitt, “Remind me again why we ignore the thousands languishing in North Korea’s concentration camps?,” National Post, June 19, 2017, reprinted from the Washington Post; Christian Caryl, “The North Koreans treated Otto Warmbier like one of their own,” Washington Post, June 19, 2017; Gordon D. Chang, “State-Sanctioned Murder: North Korea Killed Otto Warmbier,” The Daily Beast, June 19, 2017; Danika Fears, “North Korea kills American student,” New York Post, June 19, 2017; Cortney O’Brien, “Rubio Minces No Words: Warmbier Was ‘Murdered’,” TownHall, June 19, 2017; Patrick Maguire, “Otto Warmbier’s death reminds us of North Korea’s brutality,” New Statesman,  June 2017; Jonathan Cheng, “North Korea Claims Otto Warmbier Sought Regime Change,” Wall Street Journal, June 18, 2017; Jack Torry and Jessica Wehrman, “Otto Warmbier’s death after release from North Korean detention brings sympathy, anger,” Dayton Daily News, June 19, 2017; CBS News, “S. Korean leader says N. Korea bears “heavy responsibility” for Otto Warmbier’s death,” June 23, 2017.

[3] Bill Chappell, “Tour Company Used By Otto Warmbier Will Stop Taking Americans To North Korea,” NPR News, June 20, 2017; Andreas Litmer, “Warmbier death: Will people still travel to North Korea?,” BBC News, June 20, 2017; Charlie Chappell, “Otto Warmbier’s Death May Spell the End of American Tourism to North Korea. Sadly, That’s About It,” Time.com, June 22, 2017; Neil Connor, “Otto Warmbier’s travel agency stops taking American tourists to North Korea after ‘risk became too high’,” The Telegraph, June 20, 2017; Adly Choi, “Inside the Sketchy Travel Company That Took Otto Warmbier to North Korea,” Nextshark, June 23, 2017. The father of Warmbier did make an honest perception of the horridness of this company even though it has anti-DPRK diatribes within it: “This Chinese company has slick ads on the internet, claiming no American ever gets detained…They lure Americans. And that’s what happened to my son. He was trying to leave the country and he was taken hostage. They advertise it as the safest tour ever. But they provide fodder for the North Koreans. They took him hostage. And the outcome is self-evident.”

[4] Tim Schwarz, Will Ripley, and James Griffiths, “Exclusive: North Korea reveals alleged U.S. prisoner to CNN in Pyongyang,” CNN, Jan. 11, 2016; Taehoon Lee, “North Korea detains fourth US citizen,” CNN, May 8, 2017; BBC News, “North Korean university names detained US citizen,” Apr. 24, 2017; Tom Cleary, “Tony Kim aka Kim Sang-Duk: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know,” Heavy.com, May 1, 2017; Anna Fifield, “North Korea detains American at airport,” Washington Post, Apr. 23, 2017; KCNA, “Relevant Institution of DPRK Detains American Citizen Jin Xue Song,” May 7, 2017; James Pearson, “North Korea detains third U.S. citizen,” Reuters, Apr. 23, 2017. On May 7th, KCNA said “a relevant institution of the DPRK detained American citizen Jin Xue Song [Kim Hak-song] on May 6 under a law of the DPRK on suspicion of his hostile acts against it. He had worked for operation of Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. A relevant institution is now conducting detailed investigation into his crime.” Currently there are FOUR detained foreign nationals in DPRK, if Wikipedia is right.

[5] Kathy L. Gilbert, “North Korea releases comatose Otto Warmbier,” United Methodist News Service, June 15, 2017; Pyongyang Times, “American Arrested for His Hostile Act against DPRK,” Jan. 23, 2016.

[6] Pyongyang Times, “American Arrestee Interviewed,” Pyongyang Times, March 1, 2016; Pyongyang Times, “American Student Sentenced to 15 Years of Hard Labor in DPRK,” Pyongyang Times, Mar. 16, 2016.

[7] This English translation is very close to another I found from WIPO records.

[8] Jason Hanna, Joshua Berlinger, and Emanuella Grinberg, “Doctors: Ex-North Korea detainee Otto Warmbier has severe brain injury,” CNN, June 16, 2017.

[9] Maggie Fox, “Otto Warmbier Has Extensive Brain Damage, Doctors Say,” NBC News, June 16, 2017.

[10] “American citizen released,” Pyongyang Times, June 16, 2017.

[11] KCNA, “DPRK FM Spokesman Accuses U.S. of Slandering Humanitarian Measure,” June 23, 2017.

[12] KCNA, “DPRK bashing by the US and s. Korea prompts firestorm of protest,” Pyongyang Times, June 25, 2017.

[13] Jonathan Allen, “Otto Warmbier’s family declines autopsy for US student released by North Korea,” The Sydney Morning Herald, June 21, 2017; Young DPRK Watchers, “An objective assessment of Warmbier’s fate: Challenging U.S mythologies,” June 20, 2017; Young DPRK Watchers, “Otto Warmbier as a symbol of American Privilege,” June 18, 2017.

[14] Daily NK, “The dire reality of “universal health care” in North Korea,” June 2, 2015; Barbara Demick, “North Korea’s healthcare is a horror, report says,” Los Angeles Times, July 16, 2010; Caroline Gluck, “N Korea healthcare ‘near collapse’,” BBC News, Nov. 20, 2001; The Week Staff, “North Korea’s ‘horrifying’ health care system,” The Week, July 19, 2010; The Telegraph, “North Korea’s health system ‘on its knees’,” July 15, 2010; Laura Oneale, “North Korea’s Health Dilemma,” June 22, 2013; Freekorea.us, “A guerrilla health care system for North Korea’s poor,” Sept. 28, 2015; Radio Free Asia, “North Korean Health Care ‘Fails’,” July 20, 2010; Sean Alfano, “North Korea’s health care horror, doctors sometimes perform amputations without anesthesia: report,” NY Daily News, July 15, 2010.

[15] I’m not even going to link this horrible report, just the title page if those who are skeptical want to “prove” that I’m right, which would be utterly obnoxious. If you want to read hideous, digusting, orientalist propaganda and fill your mind with lies, go right ahead, but you’ll be no comrade of him.

[16] BBC News, “Aid agencies row over North Korea health care system,” July 16, 2010.

[17] Josiah Cha, “‘Every patient had malnutrition’ – on a medical mission in North Korea,” The Guardian, Oct. 8, 2015. I think this is the same medical mission.

[18] See pages 126, 127, 128, 129, 130.

[19] As CNN (“Red Cross: North Korea medical system near collapse,” Nov. 6, 1997) and hateful “North Korea watchers” (Liberty in North Korea, “SONGBUN | Social Class in a Socialist Paradise,” June 25, 2012) admit, if you read between the lines, capitalism almost caused the DPRK’s healthcare system to collapse in the 1990s.

[20] The report also acknowledges the achievement in “compassionate care for children in general and war orphans in particular; ‘radical change’ in the position of women; [and] genuinely free housing.”

[21] Jonathan Lynn, “North Korea has plenty of doctors: WHO,” Reuters, Apr. 30, 2010.

[22] Brett Schaefer, “United Nations Defends North Korean Health Care System,” The Daily Signal, July 22, 2010; Sierra Rayne, “WHO’s Delusions on North Korea’s Health Care System,” American Thinker, July 24, 2013.

[23] In their travel guidelines for the DPRK, it almost sounds Orientalist, implying that US hospitals are wonderful, shining, and happy compared to those in the DPRK: “Medical facilities in the DPRK lack resources and electricity. Medical personnel have inadequate or outdated skills. Hospitals in Pyongyang can perform basic examinations and lifesaving measures, but functioning x-ray facilities are not generally available. Avoid surgery. If you have an accident outside Pyongyang, transport back to the capital can be lengthy and without medical assistance.”

[25] They have also “adopted the Constitution’s principles by passing Socialist Labour Law, Land Law, Law on Public Health, Law on the Nursing and Upbringing of Children, Law on Environmental Protection, the Criminal Law, the Civil Law, the Family Law, laws for the “total elimination of tax in kind and taxation which is the remnant of the outdated society” with no tax system no longer in the DPRK, and a law enacting “universal free education and the 11-year compulsory education.””

[26] The ROK claims that chemical weapons were developed here, but it undoubtedly a total lie.

[27] 95% of those who drink, drink spirits. There is also strong alcohol consumption by males, more than among females.

[28] This information also says that stroke leading cause of death, with probability of dying highest among men over 70, low in all other categories. It also says that people under age 5 mostly die of prematurity and other causes, that over 60% of population in urban areas, and that life expectancy varies depending on age. It is also worth noting that 16.3% of parliament is composed of women.

[29] Sangwoon Won, “North Korea launches medical videoconference network with help of WHO,” Associated Press, 2010. Reprinted on http://www.wellness.com/.

[30] Elizabeth Shim, “North Korea requests medical aid from U.N. agencies,” UPI, July 6, 2015. There are also claims they were trying to learn from China about AIDs.

[31] Han Ryo Gyong, “Rural hospital benefits from telemedicine,” Pyongyang Times, June 24, 2017.

[32] Pyongyang Times, “Kim Jong Un inspects dental care supplies factory,” June 20, 2017; Rodong Sinmun, “Kim Jong Un Inspects New Dental Sanitary Goods Factory,” June 20, 2017.

[33] See data here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here (likely on archive.org), and this book.

[34] See here for the following books: “Revolution and Socialist Construction in Korea: Selected Writings of Kim Il Sung“; “Modern Korea: The Socialist North, Revolutionary Perspectives in the South, and Unification“; “The Historical Experience of the Agrarian Reform in Our Country“; “North Korean Journey: The Revolution Against Colonialism“; “Modern History of Korea.” Bruce Cummings is no help here. Neither is this article. As for “Jaka Parker” I haven’t watched any videos to have a viewpoint one way or the other.