- Capitalism and Alternatives -


Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( DSA, MA, USA ) on November 11, 1999 at 15:09:35:

In Reply to: Define 'penalty' posted by Dr. Cruel on November 11, 1999 at 11:40:28:

: As in: Do you agree with the freedom to elect one’s representatives? Well then - the Sandanistas staged an election, then were forced by Reagan’s Central American policies to hold substantially fairer ones under U.N. supervision (which they incidentally lost). Therefore one ought to support them.

The 1984 election was not 'staged', it was pronounced free and fair by the UN, and it was far fairer than the 1990 electiosn which were held under duress by teh US. The US essentially said, "You can vote for who you want, and we'll continue to terrorize you and send murderous death squads into your country, and make your economy scream, or you can vote for whom we want, and we'll pour money in." The Nicaraguan peopel were essentially the victims of extortion. If a private individual did that, we would call it extortion. But when the US government does it, it's suddenly OK? Using terrorism to force another counrty into submission, as we did with Nicaragua, is absolutely teh most descipble act I can think of.
: : In spite of all this, you still claim that Nicaragua was not a democracy. (DC: No. Democracies do not need the "people’s army" to prop them up. Communist dictatorships do, however)

Nonsense. Only democracies rely on arming the people (as Nicaragua did) to form a people's army. If you were a dictator, woudl youtrust your people enough to give them teh emans to overthrow you? It is a professional, entrenched army taht is the sign of an authoritarian regime, one that fears the peopel and has to defedn itself from them. Almsot everything you're saying here is the precise opposite of the truth.

:: This is where I start saying "what's the point?" (DC: You’re not the only one) You ask for facts, but then after I've supplied some facts, you say "Nicaragua was a one-party state' and "voting in Nicaragua was mandatory". (DC: After clarifying your facts - a "fact" that simply goes unacknowledged) Now these simply contravene express facts which I supplied in a link a while back. (DC: I will repeat - it seems I am not being listened to…) I mean, you can disagree with an article's editorial content, but if seven parties contested the election, hwo can you possibly make teh argument that it was a one party state? (DC: These parties did not participate in the electoral process until U.S. pressure - and Contra aid - was brought to bear on the FMLN, et. al.)

Again, has all I said gone completely unackowledged? You're confusing teh 2 elections again. the seven-party elections, in which Conservatives, liberals, Marxist Leninists, Sandinistas, Socoial Christains, etc. gained seats were in the 'COmmunist' elections of 1984. There were no restrictions on who was allowed to participate. These were won by the Sandinista Front with 63% of the vote. Bear in mind, please, when I refer to Nicaraguan elections I'm referring to teh 1984 ones. So your statement that 'the seven parteis were only allowed to participate in 1990) is simply falsified by the facts. We can disagree over the interpretation, but even your revisionist hsitory cannot deny the objective fact that seven parties contested the 1984 elections- not unless you also contest teh established fact that, say, Jimmy Carter was president in 1979.

: If teh alws say "Voting is not mandatpory" how can you say that voting was mandatory? (DC: I believe that I’ve stated the communist revolutions have the nasty habit of justifying themselves via mandatory sham elections. That statement stands, and is eminently supported by the facts).

No, you said this in teh context of Nicaragua, and teh 1984 electiosn were neither sham (at least not according to any international observers who were on the scene)nor mandatory (look at the Nicaraguan contstitution, which was written by a communsit government with heavy input from Christian Democrats, conservatives, etc.)

:These aree facts. I don't understand how you can read them and then say something taht blatantly contradicts objective statements. (DC: I am trying to be nice here. What one might assume is that the speaker was deliberately lying…)

I'll repeat it again for your benefit. The Nicargauan elections of 1984 were far freer, fairere and more dmeocratic than teh US elections then or since. If I want to vote in America, I essentially have no one to vote for, no socialist party is given and government funding and are often prevented by electoral laws from getting on the ballot. In Nicaragua, there were far more parties to choose from, with afar broader range of ideologies. Obviosuly, I would have voted either froi teh sandinsiutas or maybe the Communists. But if I didn't like any of teh exoisting parties, in contrats to america,m I could very easily start my own. The Sandinistas would give me money, regardless of hwo tiny my party was; they woudl allow me free access to teh ballot, without making me 'qualify' (as in the US) and they woudl encourage my participation in writing teh constitution- REGARDELSS of my ideology. That is democracy, anything less is not. The Sandinistas had it. Teh Unietd States did not have that spirit of democracy. Hence my contention taht Nicargaua was far mroe democratic than the United States. Teh US isn't even a democracy, its supporters don't even call it that, tehy call it a republic. Well, i prefer a democracy to a republic.

: : Since you seem to greatly respect the US military, why don't you consult the writings of a certain John Stockwell (a high ranking officer, I forget his rank), former Marine and CIA agent who headed operations in teh Congo and Nicaragua before having a change of heart. John Stockwell is the one who first opened my eyes to what the United States had done in Latin America.

: DC: I met the man. His opinion seemed to be that the CIA was rather incompetent. From what I gathered at his presentation, the idea that the CIA is some sort of Machiavellian apparatus is patently ridiculous. What I concluded was that the involvement of our government in this realm needs to be better funded, coordinated more closely with our allies within and outside the region of involement, and that we ought to put a greater emphasis on efficiency and results in these foreign policy initiatives.

I'd love to meet John Stockwell. He's one of my personal heroes, along with men like Ortega, Sankara, Arbishop Camara, Gandhi, etc.

: We need a bigger and better foreign service. We need to be far more aggressive in our fight against tyrannies in the world.

Since when have we fought against tyrannies? i was udner teh imrpession that we CREATE tyrannies lal over teh place. Guatemala? Uruguay? Indonesia? Hello? A family friend once said to me,in all sreiousness, "America has never supported a single democracy anywhere in teh world". (He was referringto teh Third World only, of course). while I don't fully agree, I can see taht eh ahd a point.

:The Balkan initiative is an excellent example of what ought to be done. Similar plans should be considered I regards to Cuba, when that petty dictatorship goes belly up (likely sometime in the next 20-30 years or so - although I might be being too generous here…)

Cuba is not a dictatorship- at least, not in teh same wy as Uruguay, or Guatemala.

: : : : Nor was Jose Figueres perfect of course. Remember the bit baout hsi ties with a Nazi symptahizer, and his opposition to Calderon's expropriation fo German properties.

: : : Hmm.

: : : Again, as I’ve said before - capitalism has some serious defects. We, as capitalists, ought to see to them, because otherwise the Left will use whatever discord exists within market-based societies to foment revolt and hatred. Thus - even though the Costa Rican government is locally popular, it is still ‘tainted’ because it didn’t expropriate property (apparently I am not being listened to).

: : I'm going to pass over the ad hominem attacks on teh Left again, because it doesn't really matter; the left has the support of the majority, after all, which is all that really counts in a democracy...

: DC: Let me then ask a clear question. From the above statement, do you fault Figueres for not expropriating German property in Costa Rica? If he ‘ought to have’, what is the reasoning behind such a taking?

: : : When people like Fidel Castro and Daniel Ortega, or Yassar Arafat, or the Khmer Rouge, or virtually everyone presently serving in the upper echelons of the Vietnamese government are made to pay for their crimes,
: : What crimes? In the case of Mr. Ortega, teh criems you refer to are nonexistent. If I had a good bit of money I'd donate it to his pension fund. President Castro may have gone overboard with reprisalks at one time, but his errors pale in comparison with the good he accomplished, and also in comparison to the real crimes committed by D'Aubuisson, Rios Montt, Cerezo, Dan Mitrione, and teh whole squalid lot of reactionary murderers.

: DC: But, of course, the acts of ‘revolutionary’ murderers are quite justified. One almost wishes one had a Contra nearby, to protect our person against all the ‘good being accomplished’.

Ortega wasn't a murdere, nor was Sankara, allende, Basu, or any of the other communists I support.

: And that pension fund likely would go to buy arms. All this shooting might seem right and proper to you, but it is fairly expensive. Thus, the collection of funds from naïve college students, etc.

The pension fund would go to help teh Nicaraguans. I'm sure wyou're aware that msot communist leaders are frugal and ascetic in their personal lives, incontrats with msot luxury-loving politicians. Sankara? Jyoti Basu? Nyerere? Etcetera.

: : :I am quite sure the world will be a far better place. Not that such events are likely to occur - it is the Pinochets who often are made to ‘pay’; we often must look to the perfidious nature of the Left to sanction the butchers and ruffians amongst their own number (like Che Guevara,

: : I don't just 'defend' him, I admire him immensely. Che Guevara was one of the true heroes of the twentieth century; Sartre was right to call him 'the most complete human being of our age'. Ronald reagan, on the otehr hand, was a sordid war criminal.

: : I don't just 'defend' him, I admire him immensely. Ronald Reagan was one of the true heroes of the twentieth century;

Tell that to 350,000 Central Americans who were killed as a direct result of his policies, and to millions of others who were deprived of democracy and self-determination by his minions.

:Margaret Thatcher was also an excellent leader of her nation, full of integrity. Che Guevara, on the other hand, was a sordid war criminal. Were his acts to have been perpetrated in support of a more bourgeois movement, he would have been condemned as a mass murderer. Because his politics supported the policies of the Left intelligensia, however, they have nothing but praise for him.

He is not merely a hero for me, he's a hero for working peopel and teh oppressed all over the world. Go to India some tiem and see hwo highly even he's revered over there.

: : : The U.S.:

: : : 1) Through the Marshall Plan, has made social democracy an economic possibility.

: : The US didn't send much aid to Nicaragua, or Kerala, or Zimbabwe, or any of ther other successful examples of socialist democracy. They did, on the other hand, squash democratic governments in Guyana, Guatemala, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, the Congo, Italy, San Marino, Laos, and attempted to do the same in Bangladesh.

: DC: I don’t know what you’re talking about here. Our involvement in Italy seemed to have something to do with ousting Mussolini (?)

Mussolini had died several years previously. Were we trying to prevcent hsi dead corpse from walking the earth?

: and Laos is now a subject state of Vietnam - hardly our intention.

Well, even the most evil plans sometimes fail.

: Also, since the definition of "social democracy" seems to cover what existed in Nicaragua, and what presently exists in Cuba, one has a fair grasp of what is meant by "squashing". I’ll look into it, of course.

It does, but it also includes what existed in Guayna, Guatemala, Chile, etc. There can be no excuse fro routinely suppressing democracy and installing dictators, whatever the end.

: : On teh subject of postwar Europe; you are aware, I'm sure, of how the US rigged elections in Italy and france, and persisted in interfering in teh italian elections until the 1990s, paying politicians not to form coalitions with teh democratic Eurocommunists. When an individual does that, it's called extortion. When the US government does it, it's called hardnosed realism. Go figure.

: DC: I’ve also heard how we ‘rigged’ conditions in Russia. In any case, if the U.S. government was in the habit of bribing Italian officials, one would have thought it would be public knowledge by now.

It IS public knwoledge. Hwo else do you think I foudn out about it? the US rigged electiosn to prevent leftsits from coming to power. in every one of the 40-odd elections between 1945 and about 1990. in contarst to what you said about Mussolini, the US PAID MONEY to the Fascist National alliance to construct right-wing coalitions.

:: As for our influence in France … (the land of Baudrillard?)

: : : 2) After over half a century of war and sacrifice, have managed to preserve democratic institutions over the loud and often violent objections of Leftist activists, and such (the impatient Larks of the world, as it were).
: : : 3) Have given substantially more than two fecal droppings to the cause of alleviating poverty. America has, to date, the richest ‘poor’ of the world.

: : : Reread my post. I do NOT defend Sweden, which is rapidly turning into a basket case. I will say that, were Sweden a Central American ‘republic’, it would be the best nation in the region - "womb-to-tomb" or no. It would likely look good against Kerala as well …

: : No, Kerala stands on its own as THE example to follow. The Swedes still live better than we do, by the way. And the poor in Kerala live longer than the poorest in America.

: DC: Explaining the mass exodus of Americans to Sweden and the state of Kerala in India, no doubt.

: : : How ‘bout this pattern? A society develops; it tries to crawl out from under the burden of backwardness and ignorance. Soon, people start to think in terms of the future, rather than the day-to-day struggle for existence. Those who won’t, or can’t, contribute to this prosperity try to rob from it, or destroy it out of spite. If they are stopped early, the state prospers (South Korea, West Germany); if not, they tear down whatever was built up, lording over the poverty stricken people (North Korea, East Germany). Vietnam is a perfect case in point.
: : East Germany si a very bad case in point. Most East Germans today acknowledge that they were better off in the German Democratic Republic. As indeed they were. I hope Kohl and Reagan enjoy each other's company in hell- along with D'Aubuisson, Hitler, Trujillo, Cerezo, Tshombe, Suharto, Pinochet, and all the other right-wing scum.

: DC: Please. Don’t tell me you’re defending the old GDR. The Stasi? Oh God no …

Tell it to teh east Germans. By teh way, it's not 'Stasi', that's a pejoratoive neologism. teh crorect term is HVA. Please use it.

: I shall have Dante forward your warm regards to Mr. Reagan, Kohl, et. al. One would hope that your means of segregation would not be in order within the temporal realm, of course - this would lead to the uncomfortable situation of having to worship at the feet of such ‘saints as Guevara, Lenin, Castro, etc. These people professing atheism, I would find the position too similar to that of the modern college experience for my tastes. Enough for one lifetime, that.

: Incidentally - were Guevara and Hitler to enter into a temporary ‘non-aggression’ pact, would you allow that mustached fellow a reprieve? Just want to see if Party policies have changed in the last 50 years, is all.
: :
: : :This tendency is why the Left is so hated in Singapore, a place with very little poverty, and why I am so personally set against anyone who claims membership amongst their number.

: : : The track record just ain’t that good, bub. Gimme a Reagan anyday.

: : Gimme a thousand Danny Ortegas over a Reagan anyday. If another Reagan gets elected, I think I'm going to hightail it out of teh country before I get put up against a wall and shot.

: Hmm. Seemed that Reagan was the only one shot in regards his election. I believe it was some sordid affair involving the affections of one Jodie Foster. If Oliver Stone was a right-winger, we might have some far-fetched movie about an elaborate Hollywood conspiracy to do the old boy in. Luckily, of course, that is not in fact the case.

: Were such a situation to occur, you would not only be free of bullet holes, but be free to leave. A great deal better than the present situation in Cuba.

: : : : But let's be frank. We know this is not what happened in Nicaragua, nor in El Salvador, nor in Cuba. In El Salvador the violence committed by the left was entirely defensive, began after teh right wing death squads, killed far fewer people than teh right wing death squads, was more selective in its victims, punished people for crimes committed rather than to 'send a message' as the Right did, and ceased long before the right wing murders and violence did. I believe that the ARENA death squads are still active in Salvador.

: : : Let’s be frank. In El Salvador, the rebels were against the elections.

: : YEs, elections that (unlike those in Nicaragua) were neither free or fair, elections that (by the admission of Sen. Jesse Helms, notorious Communist sympathizer) were rigged by the CIA, electiosn where the left was prohibited from running any candidates, electiosn in which right-wing death squads patrolled the country openly and murderously, elections in which reading Marx could cost you your life. I'd be against thsoe electiosn, too. The elections in El Salvador, were by all accounts far less free and fair than teh Nicaraguan ones in that same year of 1984, won by teh Sandinista Front. Given this, why do you support the Contra terrorists in Nicaragua, yet oppose the freedom fighters who opposed the salvadoran junta.

: DC: Are you sure that the ‘rigging’ complained about was not in reference to the poor showing of the aforementioned Mr. D’Abuisson? The election that the FSLN refused to participate in (hardly being ‘prohibited from running’ candidates)? Elections where LEFT-WING death squads patrolled the country openly and murderously, right along with them? Elections where the simple act of making one’s way to a polling place might cost one a limb, or a life? Why indeed, do you support the FSLN, yet stand against the Contras? Soon we’ll see…

: : I've discovered as a general rule and guide to what's right and wrong, that this serves as a pretty good rule. If the Right is for it, I'm against it. In general, anything that is good, true and beautiful, you can count on the far right to hate and despise it. Remember how the story of Hiawatha the Indian peacemaker was censored under McCarthy as 'communist propaganda', as was teh civil rights movement. all I can say is, if that's communism, then give me more of it. Similarly, by all objective evidence the Contras were evil and the FMLN was good; guess where the Right fell on thsi onw, again....?

: DC: Well, that’s that then. One is, by virtue of nothing more than a label, a class enemy. One need not even bother with what I have to say; if I’ve said it, it is, de facto, a statement of utter blasphemy.

: Are you beginning to understand why countries unfortunately situated too near such a "people’s democracy" feel the need to arm themselves heavily? Egads.

: Perhaps Kennan was right - containment might be the only humane answer…

: : : The people went anyway. So the rebels decided to mine the roads leading to the polling places. Entirely defensive? They also liked to blow up dams and gasoline stations, and ‘defensively’ collected revolutionary taxes from passersby. In Nicaragua, the Sandanistas purged the Miskito Indians; I’ve heard this justified by their apologists.

: : Time for some reality again. Teh sandinistas committed LESS violence against their Native American population than almost any nation, especially teh US and Brazil (the latter murdered 84% of their native population in under 50 years). The Sandinistas, on teh other hand, gave the Indians control over Zelaya province, even though they were only a quarter of teh population. The reactionary fringe of teh Miskitos proceeded to lkill their own people by bombing hospitals, clinics and schools. Such terrorists were evil men who had to be dealth with.

: DC: I shall remind Mr. Dante to make that point in Custer’s defense. Slaughters below certain thresholds are excusable, given certain political necessities.

: Incidentally, it was my understanding that the Miskitos took control over the eastern region of Nicaragua by virtue of their force of arms; it was a disagreement over who was boss that led to the unfortunate ‘incidents’ of 1980, not some hospital/school/clinic bombings by some upstart ‘redskins’.

: The Sandanistas enjoyed a power derived from patronage, by being a distribution point for other people’s land - land that invariably would end up in the hands of party officials and supporters. This is a common tactic of left-wing "movements". By 1980, the available land had mostly been divvied up. Apparently it was time to get more.
: :
: : :A defensive move? In Vietnam, village leaders were executed in the night for cooperating with U.S. AID programs, or for being too popular and pro-American. Another ‘defensive’ move? Or were ‘mistakes made’?

: : Bear in mind that NONE of these people went on killing rampages to "spread fear" or somesuch,a s the Right has done only too often. The Vietnamese Communists cited acxtual crimes committed by their victims; now, while their reasoning was often flawed, and tehy often killed people for what we would not consider 'crimes' at all, at least they never engaged in random terrorism. Compare this to teh Contras, or teh ARENA death squads. And then note that teh Sandinistas in Nicaragua, dispensing with teh porinciple of collective guilt altogetehr, refsued to punsih Somoza's national guard for their foul cxrimes, and in fact abolished the death penalty.

: DC: Oh God. It’s as if I were listening to Noam Chomsky.
: :
: : Yes, both east Germany and Nicaragua got rid of teh death penalty during teh '80s, at a time when America was rushing to bring it back. Who is more humane? I think teh facts speak for themselves.

: DC: Leninist Russia had also abolished the death penalty. This did not stop them from shooting people WITHOUT a trial, of course. Incidentally, the reinstallation of judicially sanctioned death penalties is what caused the big rift between the Left SR and the Bolsheviks, leading many of the former to be some of the first to enjoy this particular socialist "benefit".

: I would have, being in the presence of Stasi officials, been somewhat reluctant to be too loud about bringing that certain fact up. Likewise, enemies of the people in Sandanistaland.

: There is a difference between saying you won’t do something, and actually not doing it. This confusion on the part of the Left seems to be another factor against their historical inevitability.

: "Doc" Cruel

: P.S. Sorry for the delay in my posting. Stoller’s post was fairly light stuff, and needed no more than a casual swat. Your missives, to be fair, need something with a bit more weight, befitting your more substantial credentials.

: Give the red devils my regards.

Follow Ups:


The Debating Room Post a Followup