Category Archives: Political Figures

Venezuelan President Maduro vows to “radicalize” revolution in face of right-wing violence

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The following article below was originally published by Fight Back! News, the news wing of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization

April 17, 2013

The streets of Avenida Bolivar turn red with supporters of Pres. Maduro, along with billboards in tribute to Chavez and declaring “they won’t return” (Alex Guzman / AVN)

On April 16, newly elected Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called on workers to resist the wave of right-wing violence that broke out after the recent presidential election. Speaking defiantly to a crowd of workers in Miranda state on Tuesday, April 16, Maduro said, “If they continue with violence, what we can do is to radicalize this revolution.”

In the two days since Maduro’s victory, the Venezuelan right-wing opposition has attacked supporters of the Bolivarian Revolution and resorted to violence to oust the democratically elected president. These confrontations left seven people dead and more than 60 people injured. Armed bands of opposition forces, angry at their defeat in the election, attacked Venezuelans who gathered to celebrate the victory of Maduro in several states. These dangerous attacks are part of a deliberate attempt by the U.S.-supported opposition to destabilize the revolutionary Venezuelan government.

Lacking any commitment to democracy in Venezuela, opposition gangs firebombed the United Socialist Party of Venezuela’s (PSUV) party headquarters in Anzoategui and Tachira while people worked inside, April 16. Elsewhere, upper class students led deadly confrontations with Venezuelan security forces. According to Russia Today, these opposition mobs attacked a government-run clinic in a central Venezuelan state.

Maduro denounced the opposition’s violent tactics in the harshest terms. He vowed to protect the will of the Venezuelan people, saying, “I will fight fascism and those who attack democracy with a firm hand. If they want to topple me, they can come get me.”

In the recent special presidential election, Maduro defeated opposition candidate Henrique Caprilles by a margin of 50.8% to 49.0%. Maduro, a member of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), succeeded the late President Hugo Chavez, who died just months after also defeating Caprilles in the 2012 election.

Maduro won by a narrow margin of about 270,000 votes. Despite the National Electoral Council (CNE) and at least 100 international observers affirming that the election was fair, Caprilles and the opposition are demanding a full recount. Venezuela’s election process is consistently rated by international observers, including former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, as one of the most democratic in the world.

Caprilles’ demand for a recount follows in a sinister tradition of U.S.-backed counter-revolutions in socialist and anti-imperialist countries. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) works closely with the rich and wealthy elites in these countries to delegitimize democratic elections and violate the will of the people. In 2002, the U.S.-backed a coup d’état in Venezuela that temporarily removed then-President Chavez from power. The workers of Venezuela and progressive elements in the military battled these U.S. puppets in the streets and eventually restored Chavez to power. A similar CIA-backed destabilization attempt took place in Iran in 2009, with the so-called “Green Revolution.”

This most recent election marks the second time that the people of Venezuela rejected Caprilles’ anti-worker, pro-corporate agenda at the ballot box. Caprilles currently serves as the face of the wealthy Venezuelan opposition. The corporate elites who funded Caprilles’ campaign lost much of their wealth and power because of the Bolivarian Revolution led by Chavez. They fear Maduro’s presidency will continue the trend towards a more just society.

Maduro indicated that the threat of a coup would open the opportunity to radicalize the Bolivarian Revolution. Even after the privately owned media and major corporations conspired to overthrow him in 2002, Chavez stopped short of outlawing or arresting most opposition leaders. This latest wave of counter-revolutionary violence may open the opportunity for Maduro and the Venezuelan people to break the power of the rich oligarchs once and for all.

Revolutionaries and progressives in the U.S. have an obligation to the Venezuelan people to oppose intervention by their own government in the conflict. Venezuela has a right to national self-determination and progressives in the U.S should support the ongoing national democratic process under the leadership of President Maduro. We should demand, “U.S. hands off Venezuela! U.S. hands off Latin America! Victory to the Bolivarian Revolution!”

Venezuela: Fascist violence met with revolutionary defense

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Maduro’s election victory sparks right-wing backlash

By Gloria La Riva
April 16, 2013

Nicolás Maduro

Longtime socialist Nicolás Maduro was elected president of Venezuela on April 14, in a crucial election held five weeks after the death of revolutionary leader and president Hugo Chávez on March 5.

Notwithstanding the close vote count—50.8 percent to 49 percent—Maduro’s presidency is a critical victory for the Bolivarian revolutionary process and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela’s ongoing struggle for socialism.

On April 19, Maduro will be inaugurated in a historic day for all Latin America and a reaffirmation of the great Bolivarian Revolution begun by Chávez.

Yet, as thousands of Venezuelans broke out in celebrations across the country after Maduro’s victory was announced, the defeated right-wing candidate, Henrique Capriles, refused to concede, following his script written in Washington.

Before Sunday’s vote, U.S. imperialism and the Venezuelan right wing crafted a plan of action to distort the electoral outcome and create violent chaos afterwards, knowing Capriles’ defeat was likely.

Sunday night, April 14, the violence was unleashed.

Seven pro-Maduro supporters were murdered after Capriles called for street actions, giving the green light to his fascist followers. TV and radio stations were destroyed, the homes of PSUV members burned down or vandalized, and people beaten in the streets by roaming right-wing gangs.

One right-wing reporter, Nelson Bocaranda, falsely claimed to his 1.2 million Twitter followers that Cuban doctors were hiding ballot boxes in CDIs, the free health clinics run by 38,000 Cuban medical workers. Several CDI clinics were suddenly attacked across Venezuela in actions obviously coordinated beforehand.

Two persons were murdered trying to defend a CDI clinic under attack.

The revolutionary government responds decisively

To prevent the danger of further fascist attacks, President Maduro Tuesday morning declared he would not permit a right-wing march to the National Electoral Council (CNE) called by Capriles for Wednesday, April 17: “The march to downtown Caracas will not be allowed. I will not permit it. I will impose a firm hand against fascism.”

Maduro is trying to prevent a massacre similar to what occurred on April 11, 2002. As a prelude to the coup against Chávez, the right wing led a similar march to downtown. There, fascist sharpshooters gunned down and killed 11 people, as a cover to justify the coup.

Tuesday, April 16, at the last moment, Capriles was forced to back down and announced the cancelation of his action.

The same day, a government Official Gazette announced that all police forces, national, state and local, are immediately suspended from active duty until Saturday evening, April 20, except by express permission. In their place, the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) are to provide public security.

The declaration also prohibits the carrying of arms in public for the same period, to prevent further violence.

National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello announced that the parliament will look to prosecute Capriles for violating the public order and peace. In one twitter message, Cabello wrote: “Pure fascism, they assaulted and destroyed the CDIs, persecute the doctors, burn homes. Irresponsible Capriles, you generated all this.”

U.S. imperialism directs the fascist campaign

The U.S. government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars since Hugo Chávez first took office in 1999 to destabilize the country, counter-organize and even stage a coup and carry out oil sabotage. Its campaign continues.

In Washington on Monday, April 15, President Obama’s press secretary, Jay Carney, insisted on a 100 percent audit of the vote, effectively refusing to recognize Maduro’s presidency. The next day, U.S. State Department spokesperson Patrick Ventrell repeated the demand.

In Caracas, National Electoral Council President Tibisay Lucena has rightfully refused Capriles’ 100 percent recount demand, declaring that 53 percent of the votes were audited, in a process recognized internationally for its exceptionally high standards. Her home was violently attacked afterward.

Meanwhile, Latin American governments across the board are sending congratulations to Maduro and backing Venezuela’s transparent electoral process. Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa has called on Latin American presidents to attend Maduro’s inauguration in a show of support.

The revolutionary masses take action

Hour by hour the people of the Revolution are responding with a combative will to defeat the right wing. Tuesday, April 16, more than 200 community defense units of a new Popular Front in Defense of the Bolivarian Revolution and Peace were created and announced on Venezuelan state television. Hundreds of community radio stations linked together to share information on the right-wing attacks and to help mobilize the people to defend the peace.

Across the country, the people are coming out into the streets through their collective councils, neighborhood groups, and permanent community mobilizations to warn the fascists, “No Pasarán!”

With the right-wing threat, it should be clear that the April 14 vote was much more than a contest between two individuals.

On one side is the Bolivarian Revolution process of 14 years. Huge transformations have been carried out in the economic and social realm: free health care, massive housing projects for the people, education, and the mobilization of millions of people committed to the ultimate objective of socialism.

On the other side is the counterrevolution, whose candidate Capriles—backed by the Venezuelan elite and U.S. imperialism—appealed to the wealthy and middle class and promised a return to the “free market.” He called for the dismantling of Cuban-Venezuelan cooperation.

Venezuela’s rising revolution is causing great consternation within U.S. ruling circles because it is building people’s power and inspiring all the people of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Maduro, the government and the people will now move ahead with the “Plan de la Patria”—the socialist plan for the nation—first unveiled by Chávez in his presidential run last fall.

The millions of Bolivarian supporters who have been mobilized in the streets for more than four months will now be decisive, to defend the Revolution, defeat the right wing and guarantee a life of dignity and peace for the Venezuelan people.

Source

RT Interviews President Lukashenko – ‘I have no resources to be a dictator’

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The following interview below was originally published by Russia Today

March 18, 2013

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko

His reputation precedes him: The long-time Belarusian leader Aleksandr Lukashenko has been often referred to in the Western media as ‘Europe’s last dictator’. But he insists he doesn’t have the means to be one as RT sits down with the President.

“In order to be a dictator and dictate one’s will one has to have the resources: economic, social, military, population, and so on. But we have none. And I am being objective about it,” Belarusian president told RT’s Sofiko Shevardnadze.

The 58-year-old former head of a state-owned farm told RT he has no intention to hand over power to any of his sons. “I swore I would never delegate the reins of power to any of my relatives, loved ones or children. It’s out of the question,” Belarusian leader emphasized.  “Who wins a fair election will have the power. Like I did when I won the race as a candidate from the opposition,” he added.

The Belarus leadership has repeatedly been the target of fierce criticism from the EU over its crackdown on the opposition and lack of respect for democracy and human rights. Up to 250 Belarusian officials, including President Aleksandr Lukashenko, and 32 companies are currently subject to travel bans and asset freezes within the EU.more

For more on this as well as Lukashenko’s view on relations with Russia and international community, his presidency and successors, and the overwhelming economic crisis and Belarus’ fate read the full interview below.

Read the rest of this entry

Historic speech by President Nicholas Maduro at Nat’l Conference of Communist Party of Venezuela

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The following article below was originally published by Partido Comunista de Venezuela. Translated into English. 

March 10, 2013

The XII National Conference of the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV).

The acting president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, stressed the need for the Venezuelan revolutionary forces to pool their strength to continue building the political model bequeathed by Commander Hugo Chavez Frias.

“We need strength in this hour of history to take the nation on our shoulders and deliver this historic task that Hugo Chavez has given to our people and that we assume fully,” Maduro said at the XII National Conference of the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV), which took place in the Teatro Cantaclaro in Caracas.

“We are looking for moral strength, spiritual strength, the historic power to jump-start the nation-building machine that our Commander has left,” said Maduro, who was supported by the PCV as a candidate for the presidential elections of April 14.

He noted that through the political project of President Chavez Frias all revolutionary struggles could be channeled in a big and correct way. “Over the centuries, the struggles of revolutionaries have incurred great sacrifices and pains, and the PCV is example of that,” he said.

He also announced that the PCV was asked to join the new Political-Military Steering Committee of the Bolivarian Revolution.

Maduro said that every March 5, the Venezuelan people will remember the legacy of the leader of the Bolivarian Revolution, Hugo Chavez Frias. “We will remember for years and decades the man who has left us physically, but continues between us as guardian spirit of our people, our beloved and eternal commander,” he said.

Venezuela: PCV supports presidential candidacy of Maduro

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The following article below was originally published by Partido Comunista de Venezuela. Translated into English. 

March 10, 2013

President Nicolas Maduro and the Secretary General of the PCV, Oscar Figuera, at the XII National Conference of the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV).

The Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV) expressed support for the candidacy of Nicolas Maduro for the elections next April 14.

The announcement was made during the XII National Conference of the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV) which hosted Maduro, president in charge of the Republic.

The general secretary of the Communist Party of Venezuela, Oscar Figuera, said the Venezuelan people will rise to the task set by the leader of the Bolivarian Revolution, Hugo Chavez: that Nicolas Maduro take the presidency.

“With the efforts of our people and the revolutionary and popular organizations, Nicolas Maduro will be elected Constitutional President on 14 April,” Figuera said.

At the beginning of the conference, two minutes of applause were offered to the memory of Chavez, who is honored by his people in the Military Academy.

This tribute was accompanied by the slogan “Chavez lives, the struggle continues.”

On arrival at the headquarters of the PCV at the corner of Jesus Faria, in Caracas, Maduro greeted the people concentrated around the place, who chanted: “With Chavez and Maduro, the people are safe.”

We Are Not All Mourning on the Inside

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The following article was submitted to The Prison Gates Are Open… by the author Professor Toad:

We Are Not All Mourning on the Inside

March 5, 2013

A wave of mourning is sweeping over Latin America and the world over the death of Hugo Chavez. The leader of the Bolivarian Revolution shattered the ossified and corrupt political structure of Venezuela, ushering the country into a new era in which it put the needs of its own people first and stood on its own feet in the world community. Beyond that, Chavez’s revolution inspired movements which brought about deep changes in many countries. Although the left is notoriously sectarian, the overwhelming sensation of leftists the world over is sorrow at the passing of a man who moved the struggle so far forward. However, as Chavez’s health deteriorated in recent months, it became obvious that there were a few among us who would have, at worst, mixed feelings about his death, seeing in it definite elements of opportunity for their own political programs. The question is how soon in this period of deep mourning these snakes will let their true feelings show.

On January 5, 2013, the website havanatimes.org ran an article by a certain Roberto Lopez entitled “Possible Policy Scenarios”. This article apparently originated on a Venezuelan Trotskyist website called laguarura.net, but has found echo as well at the website internationalviewpoint.org, which is apparently the official website of a small Trotskyist sect which pompously calls itself the Fourth International.

The article is a disgusting call for a civil war in the Partido Socialist Unitaria Venezolana, the political party founded and led by Hugo Chavez. Although the article recognizes that the death of Chavez will bring an attack by imperialism, it unbelievably declares that only a sharpening of the internal conflicts of the PSUV can protect the Venezuelan Revolution. The reasoning is fascinating in the way that a bad car crash is fascinating.

First, the article assures us that the vice-president of Venezuela and the speaker of the Venezuelan national assembly are simply incapable as leaders: “We can infer that the present pro-Chavez leadership headed by Maduro and Cabello will deteriorate as time passes. Causes: none of them have the leadership qualities of Chavez and therefore none of them are able to generate the consensus that existed when Chavez was in office.” How this evaluation was arrived at we are not told.

Worse, however, they are apparently “bureaucrats”, a Trotskyist term of art referring to people who hold back a revolution: “The errors of the bureaucracy will not be forgiven by the people, as occurred when Chavez firmly held the nation’s leadership.” In this line, of course, they count Chavez among the wicked bureaucrats undercutting the revolution… A revolution which Chavez began and led, from victory to victory, throughout its life.

Now that we know that the people who brought literacy, medicine, housing, and so forth to Venezuela are in fact enemies of the Venezuelan people, the question is what must be done about them. But, really, how much of a question can this be? “If this strengthening of alternative revolutionary leadership does not occur, it is likely that reformist trends will end up predominating within the Chavista bureaucracy, pushing for a general agreement with the local bourgeoisie and US imperialism as a way to ‘save and sustain’ the Bolivarian process.”

Indeed, in order to protect Venezuela from US imperialism – which the article concedes will soon undertake “a widespread conspiracy” – it is necessary that the left within the PSUV increase the struggle against the current leadership, which we are told will soon seek a league with the United States.

The article makes clear that the reason the new leadership will seek a league with the United States is not any actual change in their political stance – Chavez, the article implies, though, perhaps from cowardice, refrains from frankly saying, was as much a villainous bureaucrat as Maduro or Cabello – but rather their weakness.

So, in effect, we are being told that Chavez’s chosen heirs, those who are concededly of the same political stance as he, will soon deliver the country to the United States. This belief is only possible for those who ignore completely the entire history of Bolivarian Venezuela’s relations with the United States; Those who do not remember the American sponsored coup of 2002; Those who do not remember Chavez’s remarks about the smell of sulfur attending George Bush at the United Nations; Those who do not remember the solidarity that Venezuela has shown with Cuba and Bolivia. And so on.

The empire has never made any bones about who its enemies were in Bolivarian Venezuela. US Senator Robert Menendez, who chairs the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, took the opportunity of Chavez’s death to declare that the leader had “ruled with an iron hand.” Representative Mike Rogers, who heads the House Intelligence Committee, by way of eulogy for Chavez, called him an obstacle to progress. Meanwhile, the wealthy escualidos in Miami have turned out in the city’s streets alongside their Cuban gusano brethren to celebrate the hero’s death. Here, then, we have a touching unity between the section of the left represented by laguarura.net and the imperialists.

The politics of this is, of course, rotten. Whatever grounds there are for criticizing Chavez – or Maduro and Cabello, whose leadership is so far largely untested – the suggestion that the most effective anti-imperialist course will be to break the unity of the Venezuelan revolutionaries is laughable. While the article insists that “the recent and resounding electoral defeats suffered by the opposition in October and December place the post-Chavez political dispute within Chavismo itself,” the reality is that Chavez’s death forces the country to go to a new presidential election within thirty days. The election will pit Maduro, who was until very recently a relative unknown, against a right-wing contender who, in fact rather than fantasy, won more than 44% of the vote even against the immensely popular Chavez. It would be an act of obvious foolishness not to take the threat posed by this looming election seriously.

Beyond politics, however, we can see here a weakness which is, in itself, enough to prevent this brand of Trotskyism from ever posing a serious political threat to capitalism: The article is completely divorced from the real, human feelings of the Venezuelan working class. The authors of the article see Chavez’s death as their opportunity to seize the leadership of the revolutionary movement he built, and if they had to physically step across his corpse to do so, the only danger would be that they would stumble in their haste. The Venezuelan working class sees the death of their long-time leader as a national tragedy.

It seems that laguarura has the political sense to move slowly in firing the opening shots of this war. Although the January 5 article firmly located Chavez within the ranks of the bureaucratic traitors, the article actually announcing his death refers to him as “our companion Chavez.” Perhaps the force of the workers’ reactions will keep these rats mostly in their holes for the foreseeable future. But the question remains, ‘When they will strike?’, rather than if.

American Blowback: Cop-on-Cop Crime in LA

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By George Ciccariello-Maher and Mike King
February 9, 2013

Christopher Dorner

Yesterday was not simply a day like any other, and yet an entire system is grinding into motion to ensure that the peculiarities of the day be promptly forgotten: another crazy person lost it and committed unthinkable acts. The act of killing stands in and speaks for the person: look what he has done, of course he must be crazy. Case closed.

What they want you to see is just another Adam Lanza, just another inexplicable act, and when the act speaks for the assailant, words are secondary and there is no need to listen. But this is not, and has never been, a good way to understand reality.

What they want you to forget is the sheer strangeness of what is happening in Los Angeles. Christopher Dorner allegedly killed a police officer and two civilians. This was not a random shooting by a right-wing gun-nut mourning the loss of the “Real America.” Here is a man with good things to say about liberal democrats, a supporter of heightened gun control, a former LAPD officer and Navy reservist, targeting his own institution, which he accused of racism, violence, and corruption.

Dorner’s “Last Resort”

We know all of these things because what is most peculiar about this entire case is the written testament that Dorner has left us. In a letter titled only “Last Resort” and addressed to “America,” he makes clear his grievances, his objectives, and the rationale behind his actions – a chilling declaration of war on the Los Angeles Police Department.

The press is busy citing only those bits of the statement which make Dorner seem crazy: when he addresses Tim Tebow or Larry David, for example, or when he laments the fact that he will not survive to see The Hangover 3. (See for example, Buzzfeed’s “Everything You Need to Know,” which conspicuously says very little). But the vast majority of the letter paints a picture of someone who, while clearly undergoing some sort of mental break, is astonishingly lucid as to the causes and candid as to what he intends to do about it. These causes and these intentions, regardless of what you may hear on MSNBC or Entertainment Tonight(both will essentially carry the same message), begin and end with the LAPD.

The LAPD has long played a vanguard role in white supremacist policing in the United States. Whether it be the conscious recruitment of racist cops from the south in the 1960s under William Parker (sparking the 1965 Watts Rebellion) or the continuity of well-worn brutal methods under Darryl Gates (sparking the massive 1992 L.A. Rebellions), there has been little new under the sun. Even after 1992, when change seemed for a moment inevitable and when the Bloods and Crips had, themselves, laid down arms and put forth a plan to rebuild the city, this long-needed transformation didn’t materialize. Instead, South Central became South L.A., Gates was canned, and the LAPD forcibly destroyed the gang truce. Nothing had changed.

It wasn’t long before the next scandal. Toward the end of the 1990s, what many had already known became public knowledge: that the LAPD, and especially the Rampart Division, routinely brutalized suspects and planted evidence. As a result of this revelation, the LAPD was charged under the RICO Act (as a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization) and placed under the federal oversight of a consent decree that would only be lifted in 2009.

Not coincidentally, “Globocop” Bill Bratton, currently en route to advise the Oakland Police Department, amidst widespread public opposition, is credited with cleaning up the LAPD, and Dorner’s statement appears on many websites alongside a picture of the former officer beaming alongside Bratton (it has emerged that Dorner mailed evidence to Anderson Cooper last week, including a gift from Bratton, on which he wrote “Thanks, but no thanks Will Bratton”).

According to Dorner’s statement:

“The department has not changed since the Rampart and Rodney King days. It has gotten worse. The consent decree should never have been lifted. The only thing that has evolved from the consent decree is those officers involved in the Rampart scandal and Rodney King incidents have since promoted to supervisor, commanders, and command staff, and executive positions… Are you aware that an officer… seen on the Rodney King videotape striking Mr. King multiple times with a baton on 3/3/91 is still employed by the LAPD and is now a Captain on the police department? … As a commanding officer, he is now responsible for over 200 officers. Do you trust him to enforce department policy and investigate use of force investigations on arrestees by his officers?”

One indication of this is the fact that, during the course of more than a decade of investigation of the Rampart case, only five officers were terminated, which suggests just how shallow the investigation efforts were. Dorner ominously adds that “I will correct this error,” and deems his actions a “necessary evil” not only to clear his own name, but to force “substantial change” within the LAPD.

According to Dorner, he was suspended in 2008 after reporting a superior for use of excessive force against a suspect, and eventually terminated in 2009. Dorner goes on to describe the prevalence of white supremacy in the police force: from anti-Semitic taunting to openly anti-black sentiment. After one incident involving use of the n-word, Dorner recalls confronting other officers physically, for which he was reprimanded. In retrospect, he reflects, with regard to the speaker of the word, “What I should have done, was put a Winchester Ranger SXT 9mm 147 grain bullet in his skull.” On the day that his fellow officers were given what were effectively paid suspensions, “That day, the LAPD stated that it is acceptable for fellow officers to call black officers niggers to their face and you will receive a slap on the wrist.”

A Bloody Fight for Honor on the Other Side of the Blue Line

“I am an American by choice, I am a son, I am a brother, I am a military service member, I am a man who has lost complete faith in the system, when the system betrayed, slandered, and libeled me. I lived a good life and though not a religious man I always stuck to my own personal code of ethics, ethos and always stuck to my shoreline and true North. I didn’t need the US Navy to instill Honor, Courage, and Commitment in me but I thank them for re-enforcing it. It’s in my DNA.”

–Christopher Dorner

It is clear from Dorner’s communiqué that he feels that he is following a code of honor against an unlawful body that has sullied his name; his objective being to reclaim his honor. Through his spectacle of violence he is also overtly drawing attention to his self-identity – as a black man, as an “honest officer”/ conscientious worker, and as a veteran – counter-posed against institutions of corruption, deceit and abuse. In an effort that he clearly self-defines as terrorism, Dorner invokes old-West, rugged individualism: “Unfortunately, I will not be alive to see my name cleared. That’s what this is about, my name. A man is nothing without his name.” At length, Dorner goes through ideal-types of various officers’ grouped by race, and explicitly cites their role in reproducing white supremacy. He makes clear that he is patriotic and loves the government (and Chris Christie); his war is with the LAPD.

Not unlike many mass killers, Dorner’s writing exhibits a hyper-vigilant(e) feeling of betrayal and unwavering need for revenge. His writing reflects a self-conscious awareness of this role, a self-forged morality that invokes clear Zarathustra-like qualities of the Overman imposing his will on weak and vile petty tyrants. Dorner says:

“I am here to change and make policy. The culture of LAPD versus the community and honest/good officers needs to and will change. I am here to correct and calibrate your morale (sic) compasses to true north.”

Dorner’s writing also features a list of thanks to everyone from George H.W. Bush to Charlie Sheen. The following quote has extensively repeated in the press, and bears some interrogation: “If possible, I want my brain preserved for science/research to study the effects of severe depression on an individual’s brain.” To dismiss this as simple madness, is to individualize this man and his actions (however they are interpreted) as apolitical and random, another tragic coupling of broken people with fully-functional weapons. It is clear, through his chronicling of long-past slights un-avenged, interspersed with calls for more gun control and an endorsement for Hillary Clinton for President, that he is troubled. Dorner writes, “Ask yourselves what would cause somebody to take these drastic measures like I did. That’s what is important.”

This is surely a discussion the LAPD would not pine over if it did not happen. It is a discourse that is foreign to the press, even the likes of liberals like Chris Matthews, that Dorner lauds. Soldier-Officer Dorner sits, using his training against the force that trained him, waiting to unleash his next attack. The extent to which we go to Dr. Drew for helpful insights in the next few days and not victims of police brutality or whistle-blower cops or to analyses of race and policing in our cities, the extent to which we talk about gun control and not how and why the men who beat Rodney King got to run the LAPD instead of being run out of it, is the extent to which we sit and wait, feeding ammunition to the next Christopher Dorner.

A Defection in the Occupation Forces

Now Dorner has declared war on the LAPD and he has named targets: “The enemy combatants in LA are not the citizens and suspects, it’s the police officers.” To a list of different offenders, he adds the ominous promise: “You are a high value target.” The parameters of the violence he has seen meted out to everyday poor residents of Los Angeles structures his own response, such as when he urges:

“Citizens/non-combatants, do not render medical aid to downed officers/enemy combatants. They would not do the same for you. They will let you bleed out… don’t honor these fallen officers/dirtbags. When your family members die, they just see you as extra overtime at a crime scene and at a perimeter. Why would you value their lives when they clearly don’t value yours or your family members lives?”

He has studied the new counterinsurgency doctrine, as rewritten in 2006 by General David Petraeus, and he turns its language against its authors, comparing himself to insurgent forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. “I will bring unconventional and asymmetrical warfare to those in LAPD uniform whether on or off duty. ISR [Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance] is my strength and your weakness. You will now live the life of the prey.”

Frantz Fanon argued pointedly that exploitation, occupation, and colonization simply cannot exist without racism and torture of one form or another. As a result, it is useless to oppose the violence of occupation, or the torture made so palpable in Zero Dark Thirty, without opposing the occupation itself, of Iraq, of Afghanistan, of South Central L.A. Yes, something similar could be said of the LAPD, and here we begin to grasp why this most violent of institutions has so rigidly resisted change: because its historically brutal and terroristic tactics, the daily oppression and humiliation exerted most directly at poor black and brownAngelinos, are merely symptoms of the LAPD’s structural function.

When Fanon resigned his post as a psychiatrist to join the Algerian Revolution, he was merely putting into revolutionary practice what he had practiced in the analyst’s chair for years. For Fanon, mental neuroses, especially among people of color, were the result not of any inherent trait or familial trauma, but of the profound trauma imposed by white supremacist and colonial society. And since social structures generate many mental illnesses, we cannot hope to cure these without destroying the institutions that make people sick in the first place.

It was this imperative that led Fanon to throw himself into the armed struggle, and when he did so, he wrote that: “A society that drives its members to desperate solutions is a non-viable society, a society to be replaced.” There can be no more powerful symptom of desperation, no more direct indicator of the non-viability of existing institutions, than this hunted man named Christopher Dorner.

There’s nothing pretty about the desperate actions of a soon-to-be-dead man, but we owe it to ourselves, and to the world, to at least attempt to understand. To be clear: Dorner’s statement is not a revolutionary manifesto, and he certainly didn’t grasp the structural relationship between occupation and LAPD brutality, but his statement and his actions are deeply symptomatic of a social illness that it does not name. If the adage “you reap what you sow” were not already the slogan of the week when unrepentant Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, who embraced the murderous dehumanization of his profession, was killed at a Texas gun range last Saturday, this is now undeniable.

Shoot to Kill: Counterinsurgency and Collateral Damage

Given its social function, the LAPD simply cannot be anything but racist and brutal, and as though attempting to prove Dorner’s point, the response to his attacks has been as brutal as anything. The thin blue line of secrecy among officers has been replaced by a thick blue line, protecting officers and their families while unleashing unrestrained violence on southern California. In only the most infamous incident of yesterday, two women delivering newspapers were shot by trigger-happy officers who, it seems, mistook their royal blue truck for Dorner’s gray one. Dozens of bullet holes riddled the back of the pickup, their clusters suggesting a clear intent to kill without identifying. Within the context of legitimate, open threats to officers, the “shoot anything that moves” approach is perhaps an accentuation, but hardly an aberration, from the norm.

The application of a counterinsurgency model of urban policing in cities like Los Angeles is longstanding. In Los Angeles alone, from bulldozed houses in “Operation Hammer” and the invention of gang injunctions in the mid-late 1980s, to the racialized use of checkpoints, and the routine abuses Dorner points to today, the “War on Crime” is a war in every sense of the word. The LAPD gang unit trains troops headed to Afghanistan in how to develop informants and use counterinsurgency tactics to control “hostile” populations and spaces. The abuses that Dorner lists are the effects of this logic of occupation, a term officers themselves use to describe their work. As with criminal Ramparts officers getting promotions, Dorner sees the daily routines of abuse as morally wrong, but without seeing the logic of the broader structures in which those practices are embedded.

The violent overlap between modern warfare and domestic policing, of which Dorner is a strange byproduct of, is especially acute among police officers that are returning veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq. The increased levels of PTSD and violence among veterans in general, is amplified, not only by holding a job that empowers, and sometimes requires, the use of deadly force, but because the current methods of contemporary urban policing have become enmeshed with the overall objectives, strategic logic, and daily practice of counterinsurgency.

As Oakland brings on former LAPD Chief William Bratton to add a play or two to Oakland’s counterinsurgency manual, the OPD, City Council, and District Attorney continue to refuse to fire and criminally charge Miguel Masso, an Iraq veteran who had previously tortured a man in custody when with the NYPD, before shooting and killing 18-year old Alan Blueford in East Oakland last May, as he laid on the ground and cried “I didn’t do anything.” Despite Masso’s account of what happened seriously conflicting with the coroner’s report and witness accounts, Masso still has his job. Without pathologizing veterans it is clear that there are serious concerns here. For the time being, Masso is another one of those cops who gets paid leave, who gets to walk the streets, who may get a medal or a promotion down the line – though there are many people in Oakland continuing to try and see otherwise. It is the commonness of excuses for police abuse/murder, the erasure of the victims as collateral damage that should be highlighted when trying to make sense of this broken, rogue former-LA cop.

A Gravedigger in Uniform

“I am the walking exigent circumstance you created.”

– Christopher Dorner

Much like Dan Freeman, the main character in Stan Greenlee’s classic book and film, The Spook Who Sat By the Door, Christopher Dorner is the dialectical gravedigger of a dying system: armed, trained, and prepared by a system which prizes cop culture, which massively arms the police and unleashes them on the poor and racialized, and which in its late stages demands that black people do the work of white supremacy. In this circumstance, those skills are being utilized against the police. Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz said, “This is a somewhat unprecedented, or at least rare occurrence – a trained, heavily armed person who is hunting for police officers.”  LAPD Chief Charlie Beckadded, “Of course he knows what he’s doing; we trained him. He was also a member of the Armed Forces… It is extremely worrisome and scary.”

For Marx, capitalism would sow the seeds of its own destruction and produce its own gravedigger, the proletariat. Fanon recognized, however, that this gravedigger might be characterized more by the “desperate solutions” to which they turn than by their class consciousness. In the United States today, late capitalism is equally shot through with white supremacy and upheld by brute force by increasingly heavy-handed police. It should not surprise us when the gravediggers assume an ominously different form.

George Ciccariello-Maher is assistant professor of political science at Drexel University. He is the author of We Created Chávez: A People’s History of the Venezuelan Revolution and can be reached at gjcm(at)drexel.edu.

Mike King is a Ph.D candidate in sociology at UC Santa Cruz, and can be reached at mikeking0101(at)gmail.com. Both study policing and counterinsurgency.

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Once derided, Gaddafi’s warnings about jihadists now used to justify Mali intervention

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By Stephen Gowans
December 20, 2013

In today’s New York Times, Steven Erlanger justifies the French intervention in Mali on these grounds:

• It responds to “a direct request from a legitimate government.”
• It combats “the spread of radical Islamists, some of them foreign jihadists, strongly connected to terrorist groups like Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.”

Erlanger uses the word “legitimate” to describe Mali’s government. “Democratic” carries more weight, but the description doesn’t fit. Mali is governed by a military dictatorship, a truth one suspects Erlanger would prefer not to draw attention to. Being every bit a salesman, Erlanger presses “legitimate” into use as an inferior, though still high-sounding, surrogate for “democratic”. A military operation to help a legitimate government must be legitimate, right?

Wrong. How can a French military operation in a North African country be legitimate, when not too long ago France undertook what was then called a legitimate intervention in another North African country, Libya, with the opposite aims:

• Not to support, but to topple a legitimate government;
• Not to stop the spread of radical Islam, but to help radical Islamists, some of them foreign jihadists, strongly connected to terrorist groups like Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, overthrow a legitimate government?

In other words, the Mali operation is the very antithesis of the Libyan one. Yet, according to state officials in France, the United States and Britain and their jingoist Western mass media cheerleaders, both interventions are legitimate. Where the Mali intervention protects a legitimate government, the Libyan intervention toppled one. Where the Mali operation opposes radical Islamists, the Libyan operation aided them.

It can’t possibly be true that Western governments are against radical Islamists as a matter of principle, when the principal financial and ideological backer of militant Sunni Islamism, Saudi Arabia, is a treasured ally. Nor can it be true when Western powers backed radical Islamists against:

• The leftist Afghan government in the 1980s,
• Yugoslavia’s social democracy in the 1990s,
• Gaddafi’s economic nationalism in Libya,
• Assad’s secular nationalist government in Syria.

It can’t be true that Western powers are against despots, dictators, and absolutist monarchs, when they’ve backed so many of them in the past, and continue to back them in the present, from the potentates of the Gulf Cooperation Council to the military regime in Mali.

Neither are Western powers committed to backing struggles against tyrannies as struggles against tyrannies. On countless occasions, they’ve either stood idly by as tyrannies repressed democratic rebellions, or energetically aided their autocratic allies’ efforts to crush opposition. For a recent example, we need only turn to the crackdown on the rebellion in absolutist Bahrain, assisted by the same countries which supplied arms to misnamed “democrats” in Libya and equip the Muslim Brothers and foreign jihadists in Syria. Washington has done nothing to stop the crackdown in Bahrain, let alone vigorously protested it. The British, for their part, invited the offending tyrant to the royal wedding of Kate and William.

Erlanger notes that the Mali intervention “has been popular” and that it commands the support of three quarters of the French, according to one poll. This is a nod to the prowess of Erlanger’s cohorts in the trade of shaping public opinion, and the superficial attention most people pay to foreign affairs. It’s also an attempt to prop up his argument that the intervention is legitimate. After all, a military operation supported by a solid majority can hardly be a base affair, corrupted by hypocrisy and crass commercial interests, can it? And if you should happen to be against the French helping an ally defend itself against jihadists, Erlanger’s letting you know you’re on the wrong side of public opinion.

“The French people are ready to support a military operation as long as the objectives are clear and seem legitimate,” a French analyst told the Times’ reporter. Well, no, the French people are willing to support a military operation so long as no one calls upon them to risk their lives and pay higher taxes, what “support for war” used to mean. No longer. Today, support means feeling good about France and nothing more.

The French will continue to feel good about themselves so long as there are few French fatalities in Mali and so long as the connection between covering the costs of the war and higher taxes, is obscured. Payment must be deferred, and then concealed, preferably in tax hikes on the poor and middle class to cover (wink-wink) skyrocketing social welfare expenditures.

So here we are. Gaddafi was sneered at when he said that the rebellion that erupted against him in Benghazi was the work of radical Islamists, some of them foreign jihadists, strongly connected to terrorist groups like Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. He was just as contemptuously dismissed when he warned, “if he fell, chaos and holy war would overtake North Africa.” Now that chaos and holy war threaten to overtake a Western client, Gaddafi’s words are being treated with new respect. In death, the man once ridiculed as a buffoon has become a sage.

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