Protecting capitalist sovereignty

“There is an ethical and logical consistency to interventionism: a moral common sense that, just as borders shouldn’t divide markets or capital, they shouldn’t protect repressors and illegitimate governments. The world should do something to stop barbarism. The rhetorical consistency of such common sense only amplifies the hypocrisy and double standards – not to mention the often disastrous consequences – of its application. Economic globalisation promised a prosperous, borderless world, even as its promoters signed a raft of treaties that freed capital but effectively criminalised (while forcing) labour mobility. Humanitarian interventionism justifies itself by a universal ideal morally superior to the concept of national sovereignty, but then picks its targets – Iraq, Libya, Yemen, and now Venezuela – according to criteria that have to do with something other than universalism.” —Greg Grandin, 2019, LRB February 8.

“Hull – who, according to his adviser Ernest Gruening, spoke a born and bred Tennessee gentry lisp, dropping g’s and wrestling with r’s – objected to the idea of Latin American sovereignty: ‘What am ah goin’ to do when chaos breaks out in one of those countries and armed bands go woamin’ awound, burnin’, pillagin’ and murdewin’ Amewicans?’ Gruening says Hull asked him. ‘How can I tell mah people that we cain’t intervene?’ ‘Mr Secretary,’ Gruening answered, ‘that usually happens after we have intervened…

(Hull announced to the Latin American leaders) that the United States would henceforth ‘shun and reject’ the ‘so-called right-of-conquest … The New Deal indeed would be an empty boast if it did not mean that.’”

“In its 1917 constitution, Mexico was the first country in the world to adopt the principle that absolute sovereignty over natural resources belongs to the state. Venezuelan policymakers had pushed for national control of its petroleum reserves since at least the 1930s. The United Nations accepted the legitimacy of resource sovereignty in 1962.”–Grandin

In the 1970s, some world leaders openly entertained the idea of repatriating what were called “excess profits,” to support the democratic distribution of sovereign agency. That got them assassinated by the US global police.

what’s happened to sovereignty:

“Luigi Einaudi, the US ambassador to the OAS, explicitly reclaimed for the United States the right to intervene in the affairs of another country because it considered the quality of its sovereignty unworthy of recognition. ‘Today, we are … living in historic times,’ he said, ‘a time when a great principle is spreading across the world like wildfire. That principle, as we all know, is the revolutionary idea that people, not governments, are sovereign.’”

But which people, Einaudi? Aye, there’s the silent rub at the black heart of all liberal abstraction. The capitalist state exclusively protects that sovereignty distributed globally by market power, with discretionary allowances for useful justice exceptions on the left tail of the distribution. The “New Constitutionalism” Stephen Gill and Isabella Bakker called it back in the 90s. The imperial JS Mill liberal state.

It’s time to talk about the maldistribution of sovereignty across people. That is the way that we will get back to recognizing what Latin Americans recognized: A democratic distribution of sovereign agency requires a state, embedded in a regional coalition, that can both protect citizenship and facilitate working-class (peasant/indigenous) internationalism.

The justice distinction has to be whether and to what extent border controls and citizenship rights turn immigrants into a disadvantaged underclass, or continue to provide them enabling, if graduating positive rights. We need to clarify, in the case of European countries, whether there is a distinction between the treatment of European migrants and semi-permanent immigrants. Like usual, there’s no appreciable analysis of this central distinction in Jacobin’s recent mystifying reporting on Denmark. Just an assumption that if we aren’t centering the justice of the exception (eg. capitalists, migrants, etc.), we are committing injustice. It takes a real conservative to believe that the justice of the average has to exclude the justice of the left-tail exception.

‘Hostile attitudes toward multiculturalism are presented as legitimate concerns (by the Danish Soc Dems): “you are not a bad person because you don’t want to see your country being fundamentally transformed.”’

Was this written for Jacobin by a Laclau-Mouffe Gramscian or by a moonlighting Davos PR staff member? No one could tell, and that’s a problem. Why reduce resistance to the absolutely-undeniable accretion of top-down transformation to nothing more than a “hostile attitude toward multiculturalism” unless you’re an already-co-opted part of a deep bullshit problem? There is something truly, deeply, madly wrong today with our 100% elite-position/interest understanding of internationalism strictly as cosmopolitanism.

Why is no one concerned about working class reproduction? Why are we directed to pour our charitable hearts like a blessing of syrup over capital reproduction via population disruption and mobilization? If the Danish government can figure out that Africa is biologically reproducing, then it can be pushed to figure out how to circulate wealth to solidaristically support working class reproduction in Africa.

Don’t tell me physical movement is the greatest freedom, Thomas Hobbes. I have never met an African immigrant would wouldn’t prefer to return to and live in Africa if non-elite social reproduction were not being essentially fucked with there by our governments, economists, militaries, and bosses. I meet way more African immigrants, and listen to them, than most other people. They don’t want our junky lives. They just want to be in the calmer eye of the storm. Founded on conservative European philosophy centering the justice of the exception, culturalist interpretations of state border politics magnify political symbolism, fail to contextualize politics, misidentify immigrants and migrant interests with capitalist interests, and misplace egaliberte solidarity.

Voting rights for non-residents is not a great achievement for democracy. A great achievement for democracy would be if residents had the right to vote, which they do not have in Canada. Democratic countries, like Sweden, protect voting rights for residents, not for expat capitalists.

Voting rights for non-residents is a great achievement for financial metropoles and Treasure Islands, global capitalism, or, technically speaking, Herrenvolk democracy, which is only democracy in the thin, dubious sense that property rights for slavers is “democracy,” and political patronage = “free speech.” This is what you would expect out of a liberal country, where the sine qua non is absolute private property right.

“The combination of exclusive union representation, mandatory agency fees, no-strike clauses and “management’s rights” (were) the foundation of (the peculiar and now dismissed) American labor laws…

“It reward(ed) the unions with a guaranteed right to exist and a reliable base of fee-paying membership. But it reward(ed) employers with the far more valuable guarantee of the right to direct the uninterrupted work of the enterprise while union leadership has to tamp down rank-and-file gripes and discord for the length of the contract.” –Shaun Richman. 2018. “If the Supreme Court rules against unions…” The Washington Post, March 1.

The US Constitution no longer applies in the areas in which 2/3 of the US population resides. –ACLU, “The Constitution in the 100-mile Border Zone.”

 

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Venezuelan Media

“On April 12 (2002), Venezuelans awoke to television personality Napoleon Bravo, host of Venevision’s ’24 Horas’ morning show, declaring ‘Good morning Venezuela–we have a new president!’ During this extraordinary television moment, the guests thanked the private media channels for their integral role in making the coup happen and explained in detail the plans leading up to the coup. They specifically underlined the key role of the private media in broadcasting the images that justified the coup…Later on that same program, bravo hosted Rear Admiral Carlos Molino Tomayo, Leopold Lopez, Victor Manuel Garcia, and other coup participants who gave an in-depth account of the coup plotting and plans.”

Gollinger, Eva. “The Chavez Code 73”. Cited in Monthly Review 59(3) 2007: 142.

Note to CIA: When attempting to overthrow democratically elected presidents outside of US, (1) make sure they don’t have functional military connections, and (2) stifle the boorish braying of the local elite co-conspirators. Just in case you assholes fail.

Chavez ousts US missionary

Because of their alleged connections to the CIA, US Christian evangelical missionary group New Tribes Mission has recently been ousted from Venezuela. “They will leave,” Chavez announced. “No more colonialism!”

While Mr. Chavez’s oppositions to Washington manoeuvers are generally portrayed by American elites in politics and the media as aggressive and instrumentally designed to appeal to what is depicted as the Latin American mob, the Venezuelan President appears not to have cornered the market on either aggression or demogoguery.

The CIA was complicit in a failed coup against Mr Chavez in 2002. An investigation by The Observer that year indicated that Washington had sanctioned the attempted overthrow. Sparring between Caracas and Washington intensified this year when Republican US spokesman Pat Robertson advocated that Mr Chavez be assassinated. Last month Chavez told ABC News’ Ted Koppel that he had seen evidence of US plans to invade Venezuela.

Also last month, a ruling by a US immigration judge in Texas to block the deportation of Luis Posada Carriles prompted fierce condemnation from Mr Chavez. Posada had been a lifelong right wing operative, often employed by the CIA. He is wanted in Venezuela for trial, as he had been a terrorist in a Cuban airliner bombing that killed 73 people in 1976. The Texan judge, William Abbott, explained his decision to protect the right wing terrorist, claiming that Posada faced the threat of “torture” in Venezuela. Chavez responded by drawing attention to verified, actually-existing US human rights violations and torture at Guantanamo Bay.

At the UN summit in New York recently, Mr Chavez delivered an unflinchingly critical speech against Bush’s imperial administration.

Reported with an imperial Anglo-American slant as “Chavez bans missionary group” in The Guardian News Blog, Friday, October 17, 2005.

Chavez staying true to pledge for U.S. poor

Edited from the article by Estanislao Oziewicz:

When Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on the weekend that he was going to open the taps on subsidized heating oil for poor folks in the United States, many assumed it was a drive-by comment aimed at raising the ire of his frequent critics in Washington.
But, as it turns out, Mr. Chavez is a man of his word.
Officials at Citgo Petroleum Corp. — the Houston-based company that is wholly owned by Venezuela’s state-owned energy company — say they are scrambling to put the fine points on Mr. Chavez’s promise to supply some of the poorest neighbourhoods in the United States with cheap heating oil this winter.
“The idea is to work with communities in need, with schools, and we’ll have to work through not-for-profit organizations that will serve as intermediaries,” public affairs manager Fernando Garay said.
The Venezuelan leader’s program is scheduled to begin next month in the Mexican-American community in Chicago, followed by the South Bronx, and then Boston.
Bradford University scholar Julia Buxton said Mr. Chavez’s action is “quite unprecedented but consistent with the influence the oil has in the world economy.”
“When Mr. Chavez first came to power nearly seven years ago, oil was at $9 a barrel and it’s now above $60. That’s given him huge fiscal leverage.”
That is clearly not lost on Mr. Chavez’s foes in the U.S. administration. Only days before Mr. Chavez took his message directly to Americans after speaking at the United Nations, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice complained — hypocritically, in the eyes of many Venezuelans — that oil was “warping” international politics. “It gives certain power and leverage to certain countries and not to others,” she said in a meeting with The New York Times editorial board. “We’re experiencing it with Venezuela, for instance, where the oil profits are being put to use across the region to, you know, push forward Chavez’s particular view of the world.”
One thing that sticks sharply in Washington’s craw is Mr. Chavez’s close collaboration with Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Under Chavez, Venezuela has been moving toward social democracy.
Venezuela is the fifth-largest oil exporter in the world and the fourth-largest supplier of oil to the United States after Canada, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. Last year, PDVSA accounted for nearly 12 per cent of U.S. imports. Citgo has eight petroleum refineries in the United States as well as nearly 14,000 gas stations.
Ms. Buxton said that Mr. Chavez’s U.S. foray was borne of pragmatism and ideology. “He’s been deeply, deeply frustrated by coverage in the U.S. media and the attitude of the U.S. government, and he’s trying to counter a very Republican-directed vendetta,” she said, a vendetta that included a call by U.S. evangelist Pat Robertson for his assassination.
“He clearly needed to build constructive alliances with more liberal sections of American society and open a way to insulate himself against Washington enemies.”
On the weekend, Mr. Chavez, of mixed African and native Indian ancestry, toured the heavily black and Latino-populated Bronx and was treated like a rock star.
Ms. Buxton said Mr. Chavez’s pledge to help poor Americans may have been ad hoc but follows a recent pattern to provide subsidized oil to 13 Caribbean countries — including Cuba, in exchange for the long-term loan of about 20,000 Cuban health workers.
“He does have an interest in providing oil to the poorest in the Americas, including North America,” she said.

This article was reproduced in the rad-green news listserve. The original article can be found at:

EZ23/International/Idx
Globe and Mail Friday, September 23, 2005 Page A22

telesur

In Venezuela, the war for the hearts and minds of its citizens is now in full swing. With the imminent launching of the government-sponsored Televisora del Sur (Telesur), network control of the country’s existing media, including Univisión and CNN en Español, might sorely be put to the test. According to plans, the network will start transmitting in late June or early July and will offer news and opinion programming 24 hours a day. For journalists now being recruited by Telesur, the creation of the network is long overdue. “Telesur’s reason for being is the need to see Latin America with Latin American eyes,” said Aram Aharonian, its new director. “It’s our right to have our own vision of what happens in Latin America, and not what Europeans or Americans, or whoever, tell us about how we are, who we are.”

It is hardly surprising that this new project is being launched by the Hugo Chávez administration. The Venezuelan leader has been particularly concerned with increasing his country’s political and cultural independence from Washington.

Production Reform in Venezuela

Head of the Ministry of Basic Industry in the Chavez Administration, Victor Alvarez, has set up procedure for the reform of some state-owned businesses. In an effort to root out corruption and ineffeciency, the managers of some state businesses, such as those at an aluminum processing plant in the southeastern state of Bolivar, are being let go. They are to be replaced with a new mangement program designed by the workers, in which workers are elected to the position of manager. Current plans include a flat salary for workers and managers, in an effort to discourage the kind of corrupt, self-maximizing behavior that plagued the previous management.

From Monthly Review, May 2005, v. 25 no. 1.