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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-19-10 11:50 AM
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The Future of the South American Left
January 19, 2010

The Future of the South American Left
Chile's New Right

For those who believe that South America is in the grip of some kind of left revolutionary fervor, this weeks election in Chile may have come as a surprise. With partial results from 60% of the countrys polling stations now available, it appears that conservative billionaire Sebastian Piera has ousted the ruling center left Concertacin, 52% to 48%. It is a stunning upset in light of the fact that the right has not won an election in Chile for fifty years.

Its an ironic and difficult pill to swallow for the governing coalition, made up of Socialists and Christian Democrats. Current president Michelle Bachelet, herself of the Concertacin, is enormously popular. Chiles first woman president, she enjoys an approval rate of nearly 80%. Unfortunately, Chilean law prevents immediate reelection and so Bachelet will have to wait until 2014 if she wants to run again.

As a result of the legal restrictions, Concertacin ran lackluster candidate and former president Eduardo Frei who pledged to uphold modest continuity of Bachelets welfare programs. Its a big setback for the Concertacin, which has ruled Chile since the end of the Pinochet military dictatorship in 1990. Despite Bachelets personal popularity, the coalition has become synonymous with corruption.

Piera, a kind of Chilean Berlusconi who owns a television channel amongst other business holdings, and who piloted his private helicopter around the country to make campaign stops in isolated regions, is one of the words 700 richest people. The politician opposes human rights prosecutions for military and police officers implicated in abuses during the Pinochet military dictatorship, and as such represents a political step backwards for Chile.

Piera also stands against reform of the Chilean constitution, a relic of the Pinochet era. Moreover, some members of Pieras coalition served in General Pinochets cabinet, and Pieras brother was the generals labor minister and an architect of the dictators neo-liberal economic strategy.

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Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-19-10 08:08 PM
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1. I am not recommending this article because of Kozloff's fuzzing thinking,
though the topic he writes about needs discussion--i.e, the implications for the Latin American region of this rightwing billionaire becoming president of Chile, and the overall political/economic/social picture.

Let me tell you what I was thinking about Kozloff as I read it, and try to explain why this article bothers me--seems so out of focus and also skewed toward being depressing and disempowering.

I was thinking: If you could imagine a left-seeming writer for Time magazine or Newsweek, and if they published a kind of leftist-tinged article like this, that's where it would be, i.e., a once-over lightly, slick, trendy, highly superficial run-down of the political scene, based on nothing more than what you could glean from corporate 'news' monopolies.

Also, under the surface of this article--and of a number of Kozloff articles on Latin America that I've read--I feel like something else is going on,--hostility to the left, almost seething hostility. I will get to that in a minute, but first, note that Kozloff extensively consults Newsweek and the Washington Post (seethingly anti-left publications), as if their views have any credibility:

"In a recent Newsweek feature entitled 'Latin America isnt tilting left, its tilting right,' Mac Margolis writes that many voters throughout the region are experiencing incumbent fatigue coupled with the fallout of the economic downturn.

"Juan Forero, no friend of the Chvez regime in Venezuela, has also chimed in. Writing in the Washington Post, he remarks that while the right is not making a comeback pragmatists are on the upswing. 'Voters,' he says, 'are showing a preference for moderates rather than firebrand nationalists who preach class warfare and state intervention in the economy.'

We're supposed to believe the, the Washington Post, on what Latin American voters prefer??? That's like quoting George Bush on what the Iraqi people prefer. WaPo and Newsweek are egregiously unreliable sources on Latin America. Why does he use them?

He is not consulting Newsweek and the Washington Post to criticize their rightwing, corpo-fascist bias. He is summarizing and quoting them as evidence to support his thesis that the left is on the wane. The only criticism he makes is this: "Theres a bit of smug self satisfaction here.."--but then he goes on to endorse these assholes' viewpoint.

Then he goes on to cite Newsweek again--and this one really enters the "black hole" in corpo-fascist publications where information should be, and isn't. Get this:

'To the Latin left,' remarks Mac Margolis of Newsweek, 'there is no leader more reviled than the Colombian president lvaro Uribe.' Nevertheless, there is no denying that Uribe, who has clamped down on FARC guerrillas and revamped bullet-ridden cities like Bogot, Medelln and Cali, enjoys huge popularity." --Kozloff

"...there is no denying..."??? No mention of the thousands of rightwing death squad killings of political leftists, union leaders, community organizers, human rights workers, campesinos, journalists and others in Colombia who have dared to speak out against Colombia's narco-thug, fascist government! No mention of the narco-thug operatives running Colombia's so-called 'elections.' No mention of the threats, intimidation, vast displacement of peasant farmers (2-3 million!) or any of the other conditions that make fair elections NOT POSSIBLE IN COLOMBIA. Nor are opinion polls reliable in these conditions.

So, we have a writer, Kozloff, with pretensions to being a "leftist" writer, quoting Newsweek on how "popular" a fascist, narco-thug leader is, some 60 of whose closest associates (including family members) are under investigation, indicted or in jail for their ties to rightwing death squads and narco trafficking! And not mentioning a word about it!

Thus, Kozloff helps Newsweek put the rest of us to sleep about what is really happening in Colombia, and furthermore helps them palm off a fascist like Pinera in Chile as a "pragmatist."

Now consider this Kozloff paragraph:

"Such pragmatism and political conservatism is bad enough in Chile, but what is really distressing is the possibility that such a trend could spread into neighboring countries and thereby derail the left within the wider region. Indeed, 2010 is fast shaping into an anti-incumbent year which could water down and dilute many recent political gains."--Kozloff

There is an undercurrent in this article--something that is hard to nail down, but that I think is hostility -- that reverses the meaning of the above first sentence--that is, that it's not "bad" that Chile voted for a "pragmatist" and a "political conservative" (ahem, fascist); it's actually good, in Kozloff's under-the-surface view. In other words, he is trying to compensate for his underlying hostility to the left by this awkward statement that pragmatism/conservativism is "bad enough in Chile." The article has been breezy, Newsweeky, fake objective to this point. Then suddenly Kozloff is a leftist partisan. It doesn't ring true.

Another example--toward the thesis that this article is very superficial, that its sources of info consist of a brief scanning of corpo-fascist headlines and hit pieces on the left in Latin America, and that Kozloff himself seems to be faking sympathy with the left, and actually has an anti-left agenda--and that is his treatment of Hugo Chavez. It starts with this:

"Just a few years ago it seemed as if the left was sweeping across South America, but the question on many observers minds right now is whether this tide may be turning. Already, the mainstream media is salivating over the prospect that Hugo Chvez and his ilk may have hit a road block." --Kozloff

"...Hugo Chavez and his ilk..."? Could be an attempt to characterize how "the mainstream media" views Chavez. And if not, it is perhaps an unimportant insult. But it gets worse...

"If the opposition (in Venezuela) can unite for legislative elections in December, 2010, it could win a majority as recession, inflation and mismanagement erode Chvezs support." --Kozloff

This is a litany taken right from the corpo-fascist press in its relentless 'Big Lie' campaign about Chavez, which stumbles into yet another "black hole"--the absence of any mention in the corpo-fascist press of any of the significant achievements of the Chavez government--and they are quite astonishing, and they are fully documented with hard numbers. Neither does Kozloff--an alleged leftist writer--mention them. He, too, includes this big black hole, where information should be: The impressive social and economic achievements of the Chavez government--the 5 straight years of sizzling economic growth, and the low debt, good credit and high cash reserves with which the Venezuelan economy was able to face the Bushwack worldwide depression, and come out with only 7% unemployment, full funding of social programs in tact and many other positives, and many social achievements like a 45% increase in high school and higher education enrollment (1999-2006) and cutting poverty in half.

The corporate narrative is "recession, inflation, mismanagement," Kozloff just repeats it, doesn't even examine it, doesn't present--and doesn't seem to know about--evidence to the contrary. Inflation, true enough (but why?--it is an inevitable product of big, fast economic growth). Recession--Venezuelans have been well-buffered against the Bushwhacks 'recession.' And "mismanagement" is arguably a total lie. Most evidence contradicts it.

Kozloff in addition says that Chavez is "mentally unhinged"! (--because of his comment about Idi Amin). So--as for one of the strongest leftists in Latin America, and a leader, along with his government members and the Venezuelan people, of the leftist democracy movement in Latin America, Kozloff regurgitates the worst pile of crap from the CIA, the US State Department, the corpo-fascist press and the coup plotters, killers and thieves of the Latin American far right.

He also characterizes the Marina Silva's green party in Brazil as "fringy," and calls Ollanta Humala in Peru (who almost won the last election in Peru) a "dubious leftist populist."

This is all SUPERFICIAL crap--with absolutely no effort to counter obvious lies, to provide deeper information, to evaluate the work of the USAID and CIA in Latin America and the corpo-fascist press in Latin America. It's as if he had lunch with the editors of Newsweek and the Washington Post, and they batted some topics around and he went home and put some "leftist" spin on it.

I have to mention one more thing--another black hole--because it is so profoundly unfair:

"In any case, Chvez has already lost some ground in Central America with the toppling of ally Manuel Zelaya." --Kozloff

He has been talking about elections. And this is all he says about Honduras: "the toppling of ally Manuel Zelaya." As if he lost an election or something--as if people had voted against him. The whole thing is put into a passive construction: Chavez "lost some ground" because somehow or other Mel Zelaya got "toppled.' The superficiality of this is a journalistic crime. And at this point I have to say that what we are getting in this article is what the US government and our corporate rulers want us to know about Latin America--that is, nothing of what they have done to make "fascists" appear to be "pragmatists," and to destroy democracy in Honduras and throughout the region, and to sell this as a political "trend." Kozloff gives us what appears to me to be a phony "leftist" version of that narrative--leaving all the black holes uninvestigated.
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-29-10 10:50 AM
Response to Reply #1
3. The war against democracy has hard driving mouthpieces, trying all forms of attack.
It's also interesting to see their bogus "progressives" appearing in the midst of progressive, liberal people who seek out progressive message boards to communicate with OTHER progressives to exchange information, etc.

As we see them in action now, the rabid, furious drive to interfere, to interrupt, disrupt, it's possible to see it has followed in an unbroken pattern for decades, deteriorating and hampering every step forward our own country has taken.

Kozloff's own brand of posturing, and misdirection is unique. What a miserable waste of a man's dishonestly lived life.
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bebedorconocido Donating Member (1 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-29-10 09:06 AM
Response to Original message
2. Something Kozloff may not have considered
Perhaps the most baffling aspect of Mr. Kozloffs assessment is his hostility towards what he calls uninspired pragmatism. Im sure that most voters who are finally coming to their senses in opposition to Chavez Bolivarian Revolution would prefer the term grounded realism. Mr. Kozloff, along with the rest of the American Left seem incapable of accepting that starry-eyed nostalgia for a failed philosophy is not the best way to run a country.

He laments that Unlike Venezuela for example, Chile has no television station that espouses the views of the left. This is the same baloney that we hear from American, sorry, Estadounidense Democrats who want to impose the un-fairness doctrine to try and muzzle successful conservative (sorry for being redundant) radio commentators. Im sure that they would love to impose the Venezuelan model where the president simply shuts down any kind of political media opposition.

With the exception of students and Mapuche Indians who have been fighting for land rights, Chile has not seen the emergence of dynamic social forces in recent years that could move the political agenda forward. Move the agenda forward towards what? Chile has always been a problem for the left because it has become the success story of South America due to its embrace of free-market capitalism. Maybe the reason that the only political agitators in Chile are Mapuches and delusional students who will rebel against anything is that people are happy with the system. Chile is stable, democratic, and has a thriving middle class, all due to economic liberalism.

Success stories are always a problem for the left. Look at the reviled Uribe who has lifted his country, with the support of the Bush administration, out of the spiral of cocaine-funded leftist political violence that plagued Colombia for decades. He is rightly hailed as a hero by everyone except for leftist university professors with three copies of The Motorcycle Diaries on their bookshelves.

It is always funny to see the colonial mindset that takes over liberals when foreigners decide that what they want is not what the left wants. You can see it in the cultural hegemony at Copenhagen. You can see it in the Episcopal Churches attitudes towards Africa. And you can see it in Kozloffs article when he vainly looks for explanations for why Chileans elected Piera instead of accepting the possibility that an informed electorate picked the candidate that they trusted would lead their country in the direction they want it to go in. Much as the election in MA has become a national referendum against Obamacare, the election in Chile is a rejection of Chavez, Morales and Ortegas redistributive socialism.
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