Friday, December 26, 2014

Soap Box

I've barely started my research into the history of Guatemala but what I've read so far confirms my suspicion that U.S. foreign policy led directly to the conditions that required Guatemalans to flee north, where the same country that undermined their democracy in the '50s because it had hints of social welfare programs, would later condemn them for fleeing the civil war caused by the aforementioned foreign policy. It's blatant, but I'm also close to a breakthrough on the mentality of jingoism. By pointing out injustice I can be accused of "rooting for the opposition" and dismissed. This suits the agenda of the political elite because it negates debate and allows them to avoid justifying their actions. Noam Chomsky is often accused of anti-American sentiments. If criticizing government policy makes you Communist then Bill O'Reilly is one of the biggest Communists in media. One response of Chomsky's was, "We should abide by the rules we agreed to." another comment was "I listen to the population." He's not pro-statist but I don't think he's anti-statist; he's more like a political agnostic. As politicians can not yet be trusted, democracy is not possible, so statism always becomes elitist and rife with special interests the voting public had no control over...thus it's not a democracy. If you go to get your car painted red and it's returned to you as a green van, then that's a problem. It's not a question of anarco-libertarianism being better than democracy, because democracy is only how textbooks define America and isn't really true. So, do we want a transparent film of "democracy" covering a bleeding scab of special interests or do we merely want anarchy. The population has chosen the former because it basically helps avoid civil wars and I think the collective fear of war is stronger than the collective desire for some ideal form of government. We'd rather slowly creep toward idealism than make any sudden moves.

Well, in 1954 and then in 1982 Guatemala tried to make two extreme lateral moves on the political spectrum and those two events, both involving the CIA, are still causing problems.

Chomsky listens to the population. Whatever country is in question has a population, not the elite, not the media, not the politicians, not the military but the population and those are who he listens to. And that's the difference because the population can not write a press release the "words" he hears are open to debate. He interprets them one way and someone else refuses to even hear them because the media or politicians have a neat package that explains everything. The population is dismissed in favor of a guy in an expensive suit who is on television. It's ludicrous, but maybe it's a desire of trust in the media that some people rely on because to distrust the media would leave them in the hellish world Oggy lives in, and that's distasteful so they cling to the known, even if the known may be lies.

Remember Harry Wu who was imprisoned not because he was anti-state, but because he was not blatantly pro state? That's the kind of rhetoric I hear directed at Chomsky. He is never anti-America, but he is routinely not pro-America. He waves no flag, and that's traitorous in the same way Chairman Mao demanded aggressively loyal subjects. It seems this loyalty trait is not confined to China.

The lesson here is that I've landed in a country that politically is like the United States in 1880, still recovering from a long (30 years) civil war that basically started when Jacobo Arbenz was overthrown by Eisenhower's thugs and progressed through several awful regimes involving leftists, rightists, anarchists, Mayans, guerrilla groups, communists, and several coup d'etats. It's way more colorful and complex than the North vs South 1862 U.S. civil war. For instance, the B actor turned politician Ronald Reagan authorized full support of Efrain Rios Montt and Montt was convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity as recently as last year. Montt had his own brand of ethnic cleansing fully funded by Reagan's CIA and ignored by everyone who wanted cheap bananas. President Clinton had to formally apologize for the previous President's support but for some reason probably involving utter irresponsibility on the part of America, Reagan was not charged with any crime. If it were up to me Ronald and Eisenhower would be charged posthumously with crimes against humanity. Why? Because I'm Anti-American? Because I'm a Liberal? Because I smoked pot? No. Because it's true.

I'm still learning about the details but the evidence strongly supports the conclusion that America twice aligned itself with a brutal, genocidal military regime, twice enabled widespread massacres and destruction of sovereignty and then immediately detained the refugees who crossed the border seeking refuge from the death squads who were trained by the CIA. It reads like a bleak novel where the villain is this fictional country called "The U.S." and by the end of the book it will be exposed and overthrown to great celebration.

But it's not a book and it's not fiction. They are still digging up bodies with Israeli and American bullets in them. It seems that all of Central America's conflicts arose from a U.S. effort to eradicate any hint of socialism, again, because socialism would raise the price of fruit cocktails. So the question is if pointing this out makes me anti-America? Another complaint about Chomsky is that he doesn't offer solutions and it's true that his lectures usually involve history and facts, not the future. But I feel the solution is unstated because it's obvious: justice. Listen to the population and facilitate justice for the population. That's all. The details are complicated but if we start with that simple premise then we'll make progress. Chomsky likes to say that one either defends state violence or denounces it and if I'm going to polarize the debate then that's a pretty good line to draw...either you approve of state violence like the overthrow of Arbenz, who was born in the city I live in now, or you denounce it. If we differ on that opinion then everything else is impossible. No discourse can begin. One of the great regrets of the future will be that we squandered the intellect of someone like Chomsky by requiring him to explain to us what just happened. It's pretty sad when we need smart people to analyze current events for us. He can write essays about the future but I think he knows that the details will require someone to be alive to see the plan through so his recommendations today will all sound a little off when we finally get around to implementing them after he dies. And it's obvious we have not all agreed to denounce state violence so the future is still imperiled.

And I would point out that one of the main conservative attacks on Chomsky is that "He profits from his lectures, so he's a special interest hypocrite." Ok, BUT WHAT DOES THAT MAKE ME? I guess I'm a tree hugger bleeding heart idiot who laps up all the drivel that Chomsky pukes out in his quest to misinform and manipulate everyone into hating America. Sure. But I don't hate America; I hate injustice; I hate the injustice America is responsible for. I denounce it. Chomsky did not fund and openly support a genocidal military dictatorship in Guatemala...and if he did I would denounce him. In this case Chomsky denounced it and was ignored while the highest elected official in America, who would get re-elected and honored and revered...but was actually a poorly cloaked global villain....enabled Mayan genocide. Those are the unpleasant facts, and if you approve of disguised* state violence then your response is a shoulder shrug or maybe pointing out that Reagan's whole strategy was to bankrupt Russia so everything he did was justified. But if you denounce state violence then you demand justice. Sadly, all this involves education and when the state controls the media then that's impossible without being proactive and also skeptical. I know people who voted for genocide when they voted for Reagan, but they would not feel responsible because they didn't know the facts, and now it's too late so it's pointless to argue about it.

*For the record, Reagan claimed Montt was "improving the conditions for Guatemalans" and if by Guatemalans he meant the elite ruling class then he was telling the truth and Montt was justified in slaughtering 3000 Mayan farmers a month. I, however, include the Mayans in the category of Guatemalans so Reagan  therefore enabled Genocide with his propaganda. In a just world Obama would not need to proclaim a moratorium on undocumented immigrants who fled Guatemala in 1983 because any decent person would understand the situation and immediately offer refuge to them instead of detaining them to ship back to the death squad. Any decent person would defend said refugee from a detention squad because state violence can only be healed by state mercy.
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.