- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Nicaragua's abolition of the death penalty

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( DSA, MA, USA ) on November 09, 1999 at 10:42:22:

In Reply to: You may keep the extraneous persiflage. posted by Dr. Cruel on November 09, 1999 at 00:19:13:

: Do you think that people ought to live where they wish? That people ought to enjoy the benefits of their culture? Should the Japanese be forced to take on immigrants, at the point of a gun?

: Good. Then you agree with Nazism, then. And so on.


: Costa Rica is a nice country. The nation isn't perfect, but it is preferable to the various and sundry 'banana republics' presently in place. The fact that they've nationalized their banks does not justify the murder and mayhem perpetrated by the various 'liberation movements' of the area. Indeed; you neglect to mention that Costa Rica saw fit, early in the Sandanista 'movement', to harbor and (surreptitiously) aid the Contras.

Yes, and that's why they are very, very far from perfect. regardless of your ideological bent, if you are in favor of democracy as you claim to be, then you cannot justify aiding the contras. The FLSN won an election that was acknowledged as free and fair by the UN, by nonpartisan observers, and by most unbiased American observers as well. Seven parties won seats in those elections, ranging from the Conservatives (the party of Chamorro), the Liberals (the fascist party of Somoza) to the hardline Marxist-Leninists who detested the Sandinistas. that is more parties than appearon teh ballot in America. Nicaragua's electoral laws actually made it much easier for small parties to get on teh ballot then in America. It si for tehse reasons that i say tehy were substantially more democratic than teh US> Read Salman Rushdie's book about his experiences in Nicaragua, including interviews with Ortega, Cardenal, lady Chamorro, and other figures. Especially read the interview with Lady Chamorro. She does not come of well, I can assure you.

In spite of all this, you still claim that Nicaragua was not a democracy. This is where I start saying "what's the point?" 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". Now these simply contravene express facts which I supplied in a link a while back. 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? If teh alws say "Voting is not mandatpory" how can you say that voting was mandatory? These aree facts. I don't understand how you can read them and then say something taht blatantly contradicts objective statements.

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.

: It is this sort of thing that makes me doubt the 'honesty' of the other side. It's as if I'm constantly involved in a bait-and-switch; if I agree that orphans ought not to be left to starve in the streets, then I must agree to give up my property rights, and thus, my right to own. If I agree that the public has some say in how I handle my personal affairs, I must thus surrender to the 'dictatorship of the proletariat'. And so on.
: :
: : : In regards to Costa Rica - I must admit a weakness in my knowledge of the place, in regards to Mr. Figueres. I had heard that an important figure had abolished the national army, and enjoyed a high popularity for it; he also had stepped down from office in the process. He and Mr. Figueres are likely one and the same. In any case, he was by your own admission a planter, and thus, a capitalist.

: : No, I didn't say that. He was a businessmen, but not a philosophical capitalist. His actions were opposed to capitalist ideology. Therefore it doesn't matter what his identity was, only his ideas. There are black people who think that slavery benefited their race, namely the talk show host Walter Williams. Obviously he is an racist, in spite of the fact taht the race he despises is his own.

: There were some ‘black people’ whom slavery most certainly benefited; if only the slavers, who were (and are) renumerated quite handsomely for their efforts. But I digress. The point is that a businessman, a boss, came up with these ‘reforms’. So also, Nelson Mandela has seen fit to traffic with capitalists as well. Both seem to have benefited from the experience.

Yes, but my point is that he was a socialist in terms of his ideology.

: : Jose Figueres was a 'capitalist' who stood for nationalization of banks and industries and a state welfare system. If that's 'capitalism', then I wouldn't have a problem with it. The problklems arise when you get to men liek Ronald Regan or Roberto D'Aubuisson. I tend to think that they are more fll-blooded capitalists than Jose....

: : 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...

: : Actually, I once had an exchange with Red Deathy where I agrued that there were many capitalists who were good men. It's not individual capitalists that I have a problem with, it's the injustices in teh system. I certainly think that capitalists, no elss than any otehr group, cannot be held collectively responsible for collective crimes. Men like that mining owner who flew down to Colombia and offered himself as a hostage in place of his kidnapped engineer ought to be rewarded in a revolutionary society. But companies like Union Carbide, General Motors, and men like Ronald Reagan and Roberto D'Aubuisson, guilty of killing many innocent people and causing the lievs of many otehrs to consist of unbearable suffering, should be made to pay for their crimes. Note, I said 'should'. I have little hope that justice will find the guilty, in this lifetime anyway. Still, one can hope.

: 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.

: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.

:or the Bolsheviks {the Cheka in particular}, and so on).

: : : By European standards, the economy is similar to that of Sweden - an overzealous state control over the economy, coupled with large expendiatures on social programs, have stagnated the Costa Rican economy until recently. By Central American standards, of course, the place is a paradise - or, rather, as close to a paradise as one is likely to see in these parts anytime soon. Whatever it is, most people who do business in the region feel perfectly safe in storing their money there. Most of them are capitalists.

: : : If this is your idea of 'socialism in action', I'm all for it. Were socialism to live side by side with capitalism, were a concern for the freedom to own and trade be leavened with a concern for the welfare of the whole community, there would be little need for debate. It is my impression that the U.S. has done the best in achieving this sort of balance.

: : No way! The United States, which strangled socialist democracy all over the world? Which has the least compassionate welfare state of any welathy country,and less even than some of the poorest Third World states? Where people tend not to give two shits about kids who are going to bed hungryor adults who are forced to sleep on the streets? Youcan either be in favor of at leats soem welfare sttae or you can oppose it. If you believe even in liberal welafre capitalism, then the US can't be your model, not in this regard. I'm confused. you just were defending Sweden, now you're defending the US? What gives?

: 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.

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.

: 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.

: : : If I thought that this was the sort of thing that gentlemen like Fidel and Danny were after, you'd have no argument from me. It's the nepotism, and the violence, and the lies, and all the other unacknowledged crimes of the 'revolutionary struggle' that make you so many enemies.

: : This is where you begin to lose me. Things tend to follow this pattern; the poor begin to lay a claim to some of the wealth in society, ro begin to claim what they need to survive and live a decent life. The rich draw in the big guns and start shooting priests while they're in teh process of saying Mass. Sometimes, though not always, the poor recat with defensive violence, and sometimes they wreak excessive revenge, and sometiems rveenge becomes its own parent, and those who began by liberating people begin to develop a simple bloodlust.

: 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.

: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.

: : 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.

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....?

: 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.

: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.

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.

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