country:soviet union

  • The Tiananmen Square massacre, 30 years on - World Socialist Web Site
    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/06/08/tian-j08.html

    By Peter Symonds, 8 June 2019 - Thirty years have passed since heavily-armed Chinese troops, backed by tanks, moved through the suburbs of Beijing on the night of June 3–4, 1989, killing hundreds, probably thousands, of unarmed civilians. The military forces overwhelmed makeshift barricades with brute force as they made their way to Tiananmen Square—the site of weeks of mass protests by students and workers.

    Those barbaric events, which demonstrated the willingness of the Stalinist Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime to do anything to stay in power, have gone down in history as the Tiananmen Square massacre. Yet most of deaths during that murderous assault were of workers who courageously tried to halt the progress of troops to central Beijing. Estimates vary, but up to 7,000 were killed and 20,000 wounded.

    Moreover, in the reign of terror that followed throughout China it was the workers who received the harshest penalties, including lengthy jail terms and death sentences. Around 40,000 people were arrested just in June and July, mostly members of Workers Autonomous Federations that had sprung up in the course of the protests.
    Protesters in Tiananmen Square

    What is commonly depicted as the crushing of student protesters was in fact a wave of repression directed overwhelmingly against a mass movement of the working class. What had begun in April as student protests calling for democratic reforms had swelled into the millions as workers joined the demonstrations by mid-May, making their own class demands.

    The Beijing Workers Autonomous Federation was established on April 20 with a handful of workers and rapidly expanded to become a major organising centre by mid-May. On May 17, up to two million people marched through the centre of Beijing, the majority being workers and their families under the banners of their work units or enterprises. Reflecting the impact of events in Beijing, Workers Autonomous Federations were established in a host of major cities, including Changsha, Shaoyang, Xiangtan, Hengyang and Yueyang.

    While moderate student leaders were intent on pressing the CCP bureaucracy for concessions on democratic rights, workers were animated by concerns over deteriorating living standards, soaring inflation and a wave of sackings and closures. The regime’s embrace of the capitalist market since the 1970s had led to widening social inequality and rampant bureaucratic corruption and profiteering. Workers were bitterly hostile to the accumulation of privileges and wealth by the top CCP leaders, such as Deng Xiaoping, Li Peng, Zhao Ziyang, Jiang Zemin, Chen Yun and their family members, and were contemptuous of their claims to be communist and socialist.

    A statement by workers issued on May 25 expressed the rebellious currents in the working class. “Our nation was created by the struggle and labour of we workers and all other mental and manual labourers. We are the rightful masters of this nation. We must be heard in national affairs. We must not allow this small band of degenerate scum of the nation and the working class to usurp our name and suppress the students, murder democracy and trample human rights.” [1]

    Premier Zhao Ziyang had been sympathetic to the demands of student leaders and had counselled making small concessions to calls for basic democratic rights. However, no compromise was possible with the working class, whose unrest threatened the very existence of the regime. As the protest movement rapidly grew in size and confidence, paramount leader Deng Xiaoping removed his ally Zhao as premier, installed hardline Li Peng in his place and ordered the military to violently suppress the protests in Beijing and nationally.
    The crisis of Stalinism

    The resort to such extreme measures was bound up with the profound crisis of Stalinism, not only in China but internationally. In response to deepening economic and social crises, a turn was underway in China, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union toward the dismantling of centralised bureaucratic planning mechanisms, encouragement of private enterprise and establishment of market mechanisms.

    After assuming the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev introduced his keynote policies of perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness and transparency) that laid the framework for greater autonomy for enterprises outside the central planning mechanisms and, under the guise of democratic reform, sought to establish a base of social support for the regime among the petty bourgeoisie.

    Gorbachev’s pro-market restructuring also encouraged the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe in their plans for capitalist restoration, making desperate bids to resolve their mounting economic and political crises. These processes dramatically accelerated as Gorbachev signaled that the Soviet Union would not intervene militarily to prop up its Soviet bloc allies, as it had done in Hungary in 1956 to crush the workers’ uprising and in Czechoslovakia in 1968 to end liberal reforms. In December 1987, he announced the withdrawal of 500,000 Soviet troops from Eastern Europe.

    In a very short period of time, during 1989–90, the Stalinist bureaucracies in one Eastern European country after another moved to restore capitalism, dismantling what remained of nationalised property relations and centralised planning.

    In Poland, talks between the government and opposition Solidarity leaders resulted in a deal in April 1989 to hold limited elections. This paved the way for the installation in August of Solidarity leader Tadeusz Mazowiecki as prime minister. He unleashed sweeping pro-market restructuring.

    Similar negotiations in Hungary, where the processes of pro-market restructuring were already advanced, led to a new constitution in August 1989. Multi-party elections in May 1990 resulted in a government that junked what remained of centralised planning and carried out wholesale privatisation.

    Amid a mounting economic and political crisis, Gorbachev visited Berlin in October 1989 to urge the East German government to accelerate pro-market reforms. Erich Honecker resigned as leader two weeks later. On November 9, the government announced the end of all border restrictions and Berlin citizens tore down the hated Berlin Wall. Before the end of the month, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl unveiled a plan to integrate East Germany with capitalist West Germany—a process that was completed by October 1990.

    The collapse of the Stalinist regimes in Czechoslovakia, Romania and Bulgaria quickly followed. By the end of 1990, governments throughout Eastern Europe were giving full rein to the plunder of state-owned property, an influx of foreign capital and the dismantling of social services, leading to a precipitous deterioration in living standards.

    Gorbachev’s policies in the Soviet Union gave rise to intense pressures within the Stalinist bureaucracy and the emerging layer of entrepreneurs for a far speedier dismantling of all fetters on private ownership and market relations. This found expression in the installation of Boris Yeltsin in July 1991 and the implementation of pro-market “shock therapy.” In December 1991, the Soviet Union was formally dissolved.

    The break-up of the Soviet Union and collapse of the Stalinist states in Eastern Europe led to an orgy of triumphalism in the capitalist media proclaiming the end of socialism. Pundits, politicians and academics, who had foreseen nothing and could explain nothing, exulted over the triumph of the market, even going so far as to pronounce the end of history. In other words, capitalism supposedly represented the highest and final stage of human development. A new period of peace, prosperity and democracy would dawn, they all declared.

    The International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), based on the analysis made by Leon Trotsky of Stalinism, had rejected the universal adulation of Gorbachev and warned that his policies were rapidly leading to the dismantling of the gains of the first workers’ state. Its perspectives resolution entitled “The World Capitalist Crisis and the Tasks of the Fourth International,” published in August 1988, made clear that the breakdown of the Soviet Union was not a product of socialism, but rather of Stalinism and its reactionary autarchic conception of “socialism in one country”:

    The very real crisis of the Soviet economy is rooted in its enforced isolation from the resources of the world market and the international division of labour. There are only two ways this crisis can be tackled. The way proposed by Gorbachev involves the dismantling of state industry, the renunciation of the planning principle, and the abandonment of the state monopoly on foreign trade, i.e., the reintegration of the Soviet Union into the structure of world capitalism. The alternative to this reactionary solution requires the smashing of imperialism’s domination over the world economy by linking up the Soviet and international working class in a revolutionary offensive aimed at extending the planned economy into the European, North American and Asian citadels of capitalism. [2]

    In the aftermath of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the ICFI identified the root cause of the crisis of Stalinism in the processes of the globalisation of production that had been underway since the late 1970s, which had undermined all programs based on national economic regulation. While the crisis of Stalinism was the most immediate and acute expression, these same processes lay behind the international embrace of pro-market restructuring by Social Democratic and Labour parties, and trade unions, and their abandonment of any defence of the social rights of the working class.
    Capitalist restoration in China

    The events in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union had a profound impact in China, where processes of capitalist restoration had been underway since the 1970s. The CCP’s decision in June 1989 to use the military to brutally suppress the working class was in no small measure conditioned by its longstanding fear of a repetition in China of the mass strike movement in Poland in 1980–81 that led to the formation of the Solidarity trade union.

    China specialist Maurice Meisner explained that the involvement of masses of workers in the protests in Tiananmen Square on May 17 “did much to rekindle the ‘Polish fear’ among Party leaders, their decade-old obsession about the rise of a Solidarity-type alliance between workers and intellectuals in opposition to the Communist state. And that fear, in turn, contributed to their fateful decision to impose martial law.” [3]

    While Deng Xiaoping recognised the affinity of Gorbachev’s perestroika with the policies that he had already enacted, he did not embrace the political liberalisation of glasnost, fearing it would undermine the foundations of the CCP regime. When Gorbachev visited Beijing in mid-May 1989 to cement closer Sino-Soviet ties, the Chinese leadership kept him closeted from public view, anxious that his presence would give further impetus to the protests in Tiananmen Square. The rapid collapse of the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe only heightened the determination of the CCP bureaucracy to suppress any opposition.

    The roots of the crisis in China lay in the outcome of the 1949 Chinese revolution. The monumental events that brought the Chinese Communist Party to power ended more than a century of imperialist oppression that had mired the country of more than 500 million in squalor and backwardness. It expressed the aspirations of the vast majority of the population for economic security, basic democratic and social rights, and a decent standard of living. Decades of political upheaval and a war against Japanese imperialism from 1937 to 1945 had ravaged the country and left an estimated 14 million Chinese soldiers and civilians dead.

    Like the Soviet bureaucracy, however, the new CCP apparatus was based on the reactionary nationalist program of “socialism in one country,” which was a repudiation of socialist internationalism and Leon Trotsky’s theory of Permanent Revolution which underpinned the October Revolution in Russia in 1917.

    As a result, the course of the revolution and the subsequent evolution of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) proclaimed by Mao Zedong in 1949 was distorted and deformed by Stalinism, which dominated the CCP in the wake of Stalin’s betrayal of the Second Chinese Revolution of 1925–27. Stalin subordinated the very young CCP to the bourgeois nationalist Kuomintang, resulting in crushing blows to the Chinese Communists and working class in April 1927, and again in May 1927. CCP leaders and members who supported Trotsky’s analysis of the tragedy were expelled.

    In the wake of the 1949 Chinese Revolution, the pragmatic, nationalist ideology of Maoism led China rapidly into a blind alley. Mao’s perspective of a “New Democracy” sought to maintain a bloc with the national bourgeoisie, but the CCP government was driven, under conditions of the Korean War and the internal sabotage by bourgeois and petty bourgeois elements, to go further than intended. By 1956, virtually every aspect of the economy was nationalised and subject to bureaucratic planning along the lines of the Soviet Union, but the working class had no say through its own democratic organs.

    The organic hostility of the Maoist regime to the working class was expressed in its repression of Chinese Trotskyists, all of whom were jailed in 1952 amid the rising resistance by workers. As with the Eastern European states, the Fourth International characterised China as a deformed workers’ state, a highly conditional formula that placed the emphasis on the deformed, bureaucratic character of the regime.

    The national autarky of “socialism in one country” generated worsening economic and social turmoil, and crises for which the CCP bureaucracy had no solution, leading to bitter internal factional warfare. Mao’s fanciful scheme for a peasant socialist society, which underpinned his “Great Leap Forward,” ended in economic catastrophe and mass starvation. His factional opponents, led by Liu Shaoqi, followed the Soviet model of bureaucratic planning with its emphasis on heavy industry, but this provided no alternative.

    The economic crisis was greatly worsened by the 1961–63 split with the Soviet Union and the withdrawal of Soviet aid and advisers, as the two Stalinist regimes advanced their conflicting national interests. In a last desperate bid to oust his rivals, Mao unleashed the Cultural Revolution in 1966, which rapidly span out of his control, leading to confused and convulsive social struggles that threatened the very existence of the regime. Mao turned to the military to suppress workers who had taken literally his edict to “Bombard the Headquarters,” resulting in mass strikes in Shanghai and the formation of an independent Shanghai People’s Commune in 1967.

    Incapable of resolving the immense economic and social problems wracking the country, and facing a military confrontation with the Soviet Union, the CCP bureaucracy forged an anti-Soviet alliance with US imperialism that laid the basis for China’s integration into global capitalism. While Deng Xiaoping is generally credited with initiating market reforms, Mao’s rapprochement with US President Richard Nixon in 1972 was the essential political and diplomatic pre-condition for foreign investment and increased trade with the West.

    The process of “opening and reform” went hand-in-hand with the imposition of strict discipline and emphasis on boosting production in workplaces. Maurice Meissner noted: “Factory managers dismissed during the Cultural Revolution were restored to their former posts, accompanied by calls to strengthen managerial authority, labour discipline, and factory rules and regulations—and to struggle against ‘anarchism’ and ‘ultra-leftism.’ There were dramatic increases in foreign trade and in imports of foreign technology. Veteran party leaders attacked during the Cultural Revolution were ‘rehabilitated’ at an increasingly rapid pace; by 1973, it has been noted, ‘the pre-Cultural Revolution cadres were running the government ministries.” [4]

    From 1969 to 1975, the value of foreign trade increased from $US4 billion to $14 billion per annum. From the end of 1972 until mid-1975, China imported whole industrial plants, valued at $2.8 billion, mainly from Japan and western Europe.

    Deng Xiaoping who had been ostracised during the Cultural Revolution as the “No 2 capitalist roader,” was rehabilitated, appointed a vice premier of the state council under Zhou Enlai. Deng led the Chinese delegation to a special session of the UN in 1974 where he declared that the “socialist bloc” no longer existed and China was part of the Third World. In the factional power struggle that followed Mao’s death in 1976, Deng emerged as the dominant figure in the Stalinist bureaucracy. He embraced US imperialism ever more closely, formalising diplomatic relations in 1979, launching a border war against neighbouring Vietnam, and defending US allies such as the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

    From 1978, Deng greatly accelerated the “reform and opening” pro-market reforms. Four Special Economic Zones (SEZs) were established in 1979 in Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Shantou and Xiamen, where foreign entrepreneurs and joint ventures produced goods for export and enjoyed tax breaks and other concessions. A similar system was later implemented in key port cities such as Shanghai. In the countryside, the collectivised communes were dismantled and restrictions removed on the operation of private enterprises. Prices for agricultural produce were lifted. In the cities, moves were made to transform thousands of state-owned enterprises into profit-making corporations. Private enterprises were permitted, the market was increasingly allowed to determine prices for consumer goods, and a “labour market” was initiated, allowing the hiring and firing of workers.

    The pro-market reforms led to the rapid rise of social inequality. Millions of former peasants were left landless and forced to seek employment in the cities. In the SEZs, where the capitalist market was given free rein, corruption and criminal activity was rampant, including smuggling, bribery and the theft of state-owned property. The sons and daughters of the top party leaders took full advantage of their political connections to establish their own business empires. With the lifting of price restrictions, inflation rocketed to 18.5 percent in 1988, to which the regime responded by drastically reducing credit and re-imposing import restrictions. Hundreds of thousands of workers lost their jobs, as private enterprises reduced their workforces or closed down altogether. Unemployment, the loss of job security, as well as skyrocketing prices, combined with disgust at the corruption and enrichment of CCP bureaucrats, fueled the social unrest that erupted in the mass protests by workers the following year.
    Capitalist restoration following Tiananmen Square

    In the aftermath of the bloody crackdown in Tiananmen Square and the police dragnet throughout the country, the factional battle inside the CCP leadership sharpened in the next three years over Deng’s program of capitalist restoration. In ordering the troops against workers and students, Deng had removed his chief ally in pro-market restructuring, Zhao Ziyang, as premier. Former Shanghai party leader Jiang Zemin was installed as a compromise choice to the top post of CCP secretary general. The initiative shifted to the so-called hardliners—Li Peng and Chen Yun, who, in criticising Zhao, were also criticising Deng’s policies.

    However, in advocating restrictions on market relations, Li and Chen based their policies on the status quo ante and the nationalist perspective of “socialism in country,” which had already proven to be a dead-end. They were looking toward the Soviet Union, even as the deformed workers’ states in Eastern Europe were collapsing and Gorbachev’s policies were undermining centralised planning and nationalised property relations. Their so-called “Soviet faction” represented sections of the Chinese bureaucracy whose power and privileges resided in their control of key sections of state-owned industry and the central apparatus in Beijing.

    At the Fifth Plenum in November 1989, Li delivered the main report, based on the recommendations of a revived State Planning Commission. The adopted plan called for cutting inflation to 10 percent in 1990 and economic growth to 5 percent by maintaining tight controls on credit and balancing the national budget. Rural industries would not be allowed to compete with state-owned enterprises. While keeping the SEZs and “open door” policy in place, the new restrictions hit rural and provincial industries, particularly in the south of the country.

    While Deng no longer held any official party or state position, he still retained considerable political clout, especially in the southern provinces where the new profit-making industries were concentrated. Deng had sided with the hardliners in opposing any political liberalisation and, above all, supported the 1989 military crackdown, but he was adamant that the restrictions on private enterprises and foreign investment had to be completely dismantled.

    The snowballing crisis in the Soviet Union brought matters to a head. An attempted Stalinist putsch in August 1991 to oust Gorbachev and Yeltsin and wind back their program of pro-market restructuring ended in dismal failure. China scholar Michael Marti explained: “This one event changed the thinking about the political equation within the Chinese leadership, including that of Deng Xiaoping. The failure of the Soviet Red Army to support the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in its bid to regain control threw the CCP into a panic. The Chinese leadership feared that a precedent had been established.” [5]

    The factional battle lines were drawn. While the “Soviet faction” began to call into question the entire agenda of pro-market reforms, including the establishment of the SEZs, Deng insisted that the levels of economic growth were too low to maintain employment and social stability. “If the economy cannot be boosted over a long time,” he told a meeting of party elders as far back as late 1989, “it [the government] will lose people’s support at home and will be oppressed and bullied by other nations. The continuation of this situation will lead to the collapse of the Communist Party.” [6]

    Deng was also concerned that the crisis in the Soviet Union, following the collapse of Stalinism in Eastern Europe, would greatly change geo-political relations. Not only had Deng’s strategy sought to balance between the US and the Soviet Union, but his economic policies depended on a large influx of foreign investment, which could potentially shift to exploiting new opportunities opening up in the former Soviet republics.

    Along with provincial leaders in the southern provinces, Deng counted on the support of People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The generals had been shocked by the way in which US imperialism and its allies had deployed hi-tech weaponry in the 1990–91 Gulf War to rapidly destroy the Iraqi military. Their conclusion was that China had to invest heavily in modernising the PLA and only Deng’s policies could transform the economy and produce the growth needed to supply that investment.

    Deng set out on his “Southern tour” in January–February 1992, just 20 days after the formal liquidation of the Soviet Union in December 1991, accompanied by top generals, the state security chief Qiao Shi and party elder Bo Yibo. As he visited the SEZs and southern cities, he declared that there would be no reversal of economic policies in the face of the Soviet collapse. Dismissing concerns about growing social inequality, he is said to have declared: “Let some people get rich first.”

    In a showdown with Chen Yun in Shanghai, Deng reportedly shouted: “Any leader who cannot boost the economy should leave office.” Openly backing capitalist restoration, he declared: “We should absorb more foreign capital and more foreign-advanced experiences and technologies, and set up more foreign-invested enterprises. Do not fear when others say we are practicing capitalism. Capitalism in nothing fearsome.” [7]

    Deng prevailed, opening the door for wholesale capitalist restoration that transformed the whole country into a giant free trade zone for the exploitation of cheap Chinese labour. The crocodile tears shed by Western politicians over the Tiananmen Square massacre were rapidly cast aside as foreign investors recognised that the police-state regime in Beijing was willing to use any method, no matter how brutal, to discipline the working class. In 1993, the CCP proclaimed that its objective was a “socialist market economy,” giving a threadbare “socialist” disguise to its embrace of capitalism.

    In 1994, the CCP formally established a “labour market,” by legitimising the sale and purchase of labour power. State-owned enterprises were corporatised into companies run for profit. The unprofitable ones were restructured or shut down. The better equipped, in sectors not designated as strategic, were sold off or converted into subsidiaries of foreign transnationals. A small number were preserved as state-owned “national flagships.”

    Between 1996 and 2005, the number of employees in state- and collective-owned enterprises halved, from 144 million to 73 million workers. Along with guaranteed life-time employment, the “iron rice bowl” of cradle-to-grave services was also dismantled. Essential services that had previously been provided by state-owned enterprises—childcare, education, health care and pensions—were now left to individual workers.
    Chinese capitalism today

    The restoration of capitalism in China over the past 30 years has only exacerbated the underlying social tensions within Chinese society and compounded the political and geo-political dilemmas confronting the CCP apparatus.

    The extraordinary economic expansion of China to become the world’s second largest economy has rested, in the first place, on the immense gains of the 1949 Revolution that unified China for the first time in decades, created an educated and skilled workforce, and developed basic industries and essential infrastructure. The flood of foreign investment into the country transformed China into the sweatshop of the world and produced a massive 11-fold increase in the economy between 1992 and 2010. This rapid growth, however, did not reflect an inherent strength of the Chinese economy, but rather its role in the world economy, dependent on foreign investment and technology.

    The imperialist powers, above all the United States, were more than willing to exploit cheap Chinese labour as long as China’s economic expansion did not challenge their own established geo-political interests. However, the vast quantity of raw materials and energy that Chinese industries require from around the world have increasingly brought it into conflict with the US and other major powers, in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and internationally. Moreover, as China has sought to create its own hi-tech “national champions” such as Huawei and ZTE, the US, under the Trump administration, has declared economic war on Beijing, not just in matters of trade. It has openly opposed Chinese plans to develop and expand hi-tech industries and to more closely link Eurasia to China through massive infrastructure projects under Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.

    The delusion promoted by CCP leaders that China could, through a “peaceful rise,” become a world power on a parity with the US has been shattered. China’s expansion has brought it into conflict with the global imperialist order dominated by the United States. Under Obama and now Trump, the US has begun using all means at its disposal to ensure its continued global hegemony. Trump’s economic war goes hand-in-hand with a military build-up in the Indo-Pacific, escalating naval provocations in the South China Sea, under the guise of “freedom of navigation operations, and more open preparations for a war between the two nuclear-armed powers.

    The CCP leadership has no answer to the mounting danger of war, other than desperately seeking an accommodation with imperialism, while engaging in a frenetic arms race that can only end in catastrophe for the working class in China and internationally. Capitalist restoration, far from strengthening China’s capacity to counter the US, has greatly weakened it. The regime is organically incapable of making any appeal to the international working class, as that would inevitably lead to social struggles by the working class at home.

    Having abandoned even its previous nominal commitment to socialism and internationalism, the CCP has increasing relied on whipping up Chinese nationalism to try to create a social base in layers of the middle class. There is nothing progressive about Chinese chauvinism and patriotism, which divides Chinese workers from their class brothers and sisters internationally, and within China from non-Han Chinese minorities. Its repressive measures against Uighurs, Tibetans and other ethnic groups have provided an opening that the US is seeking to exploit. Under the bogus banner of “human rights,” Washington is promoting separatist groups as part of its ambition to fracture and subordinate China to its interests.

    Thirty years after the Tiananmen Square massacre, the CCP leadership is terrified of a renewal of working-class opposition, the first stirrings of which have been seen in the more numerous reports of workers’ strikes and protests, and, significantly over the past year, in a turn by a layer of university students to assist workers in their struggles. Since 1989, the working class in China has vastly expanded to an estimated 400 million and as a proportion of the population. One indicator is the growth of the country’s urban population from just 26.4 percent of the total in 1990, to 58.5 percent in 2017.

    The CCP leadership boasts of having lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty, using the UN’s very austere measures of poverty. Such benchmarks ignore the many factors that are fueling discontent among workers, including the common practice of late or unpaid wages, unhealthy and dangerous factory conditions, harsh corporate disciplinary practices, and the lack of basic social rights for tens of millions of internal migrants in the cities. All of these oppressive conditions are monitored and policed by the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, which functions as an arm of the CCP bureaucracy in workplaces.

    Capitalist restoration has produced a dramatic rise in social inequality: from one of the most equal societies in the world, China has become one of the most unequal countries. It is home to more dollar billionaires than any other country except the United States. While Chinese workers struggle to survive on the minimum wage of $370 a month, the wealthiest individual, Tencent chairman Pony Ma, has a personal fortune of almost $40 billion. These super-rich oligarchs, who in many cases have built their fortunes through naked corruption and the looting of state-owned property, are represented in the Chinese Communist Party and sit on powerful advisory bodies.

    The gulf between the super-rich and the vast majority of the workers and the poor is generating huge social tensions that, sooner rather than later, will explode on a scale that will eclipse the rebellion by workers and students 30 years ago. The lesson drawn by the Stalinist leadership from the 1989 events was that it had to suppress, through all available means, any expression of opposition that could become the focus of a broader movement against the regime. Incapable of meeting the pressing social needs of the majority of the population, the CCP has vastly expanded its police-state apparatus, now spending more each year on its internal security forces than it does on external defence.

    The working class must also draw the necessary political lessons from the defeat of that movement in 1989, which was rapidly assuming revolutionary dimensions. What was lacking was not determination, audacity and courage, nor numbers, which were rapidly swelling across China, but the essential problem facing the international working class in the 20th century—the absence of revolutionary leadership.

    James Cogan summed up the issue in his analysis “Ten years since the Tiananmen Square massacre,” stating:

    Inexperienced politically and lacking a political perspective outside of opposition to the existing regime, the workers’ leaders advanced no alternative to, and deferred to, the student bodies. The workers of China knew in their life experience what they were against—Stalinism and capitalism—but they were not able to articulate any perspective for an alternative social order.

    Decades of domination by Stalinism and the active suppression of genuine Marxism in China meant there was no revolutionary socialist, that is, Trotskyist, tendency in the working class. No organisation within the country could spontaneously advance the program that was implicit in the actions and sentiments of the Chinese working class—a political revolution to overthrow the Stalinist regime and introduce major reforms into the economy for the benefit of the working class. [8]

    The essential political task of building a Trotskyist leadership in the Chinese working class as a section of the International Committee of the Fourth International remains. None of the oppositional tendencies that emerged out of the 1989 protests offer a viable political perspective for the working class. Advocates of independent trade unions such as Han Dongfang, who was prominent in the Beijing Workers Autonomous Federation in 1989, have underscored the political bankruptcy of syndicalism by lurching to the right and into the arms of US trade union apparatus, in other words of US imperialism.

    A layer of youth, intellectuals and workers have turned to Maoism, and its banal “revolutionary” slogans, for answers. Capitalist restoration in China, however, was not a break from Maoism. It flowed organically out of the dead-end of “socialism in one country.” Maoism could aptly be termed Stalinism with Chinese characteristics, with its hostility to the working class, its emphasis on subjective will, and above all its putrid nationalism. It is diametrically opposed to genuine Marxism, that is the perspective of socialist internationalism, which alone was upheld by the Trotskyist movement, including the Chinese Trotskyists.

    The establishment of a genuinely revolutionary party in China, as part of the ICFI, requires the assimilation of the essential strategic experiences of the international working class, of which the Chinese revolutions of the 20th century are a critical component. The CCP leaders are petrified that workers and youth will begin to work over the lessons of history. They attempt to censor and black out any knowledge and discussion of the events of 1989, and continue to perpetrate the lies of Stalinism about the course of the 20th century.

    The crucial political lessons of the protracted struggle of Trotskyism against Stalinism are embedded in the program, perspective and documents of the International Committee of the Fourth International. Workers and youth should make a serious study of the political issues involved, beginning with the documents of the ICFI on the Tiananmen Square massacre, republished this week on the World Socialist Web Site. We urge you to contact the International Committee of the Fourth International, which is the first step toward forging a Trotskyist leadership in the Chinese working class.

    Footnotes:

    [1] Cited in “Workers in the Tiananmen protests: The politics of the Beijing Workers Autonomous Federation,” by Andrew G. Walder and Gong Xiaoxia, first published in the Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs, No 29, January 1993.

    [2] The World Capitalist Crisis and the Tasks of the Fourth International: Perspectives Resolution of the International Committee of the Fourth International, August 1988, Labor Publications, pp.30–31.

    [3] Maurice Meisner, Mao’s China and After: A History of the People’s Republic, The Free Press, Third edition, 1999, p.508.

    [4] ibid, p.389.

    [5] Michael Marti, China and the Legacy of Deng Xiaoping: From Communist Revolution to Capitalist Evolution, Brassey’s Inc, 2002, pp.47–48.

    [6] Cited in John Chan, “Twenty years since Deng Xiaoping’s ‘Southern tour’—Part 1”, 26 November 2012.

    [7] Cited in John Chan, “Twenty years since Deng Xiaoping’s ‘Southern tour’—Part 2”, 27 November 2012.

    [8] James Cogan, “Ten years since the Tiananmen Square massacre: Political lessons for the working class,” 4 June 1999.

    #Chine #4689

  • June 4 immunized China against turmoil - Global Times
    https://web.archive.org/web/20190603132822/http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1152903.shtml

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    Source:Global Times Published: 2019/6/3 13:09:54

    June 4 marks the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square incident. The Communist Party of China and the Chinese government have determined the nature of the incident. Chinese society has also made a comprehensive summary of it. Dropping the incident thereafter has been aimed at helping the country leave the shadow behind, avoid disputes, and help all Chinese people face the future.

    We consider such practice a political success, although some people have criticized it from the perspective of news governance. Merely afflicting China once, the incident has not become a long-term nightmare for the country. Neither has the incident’s anniversary ever been placed in the teeth of the storm. It has become a faded historical event, rather than an actual entanglement.

    The Chinese government’s control of the incident in 1989 has been a watershed marking the differences between China and former Eastern European socialist countries, including the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. Since the incident, China has successfully become the world’s second largest economy, with rapid improvement of people’s living standards. The policy of avoiding arguing has served as a contributor to the country’s economic take-off.

    Today’s China obviously has no political conditions to suddenly reproduce the riot of 30 years ago. Chinese society, including its intellectual elite, is now far more mature than it was in 1989. In those years, China’s reform was carried out prior to those of the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries. China was completely inexperienced, with an intellectual circle filled with idealism. Chinese society today has seen enough of the political tragedies that occurred in the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and some Arab countries.

    Having become politically mature, we now understand the significance of the country’s continuous development through evolutions instead of revolutions. We are also aware of the difficulties and complexity at the practical level.

    As a vaccination for the Chinese society, the Tiananmen incident will greatly increase China’s immunity against any major political turmoil in the future.

    We have noticed that every year around June 4, certain forces outside the Chinese mainland stir up public opinion and attack China. Such forces consist of two groups of people: student leaders and dissidents who fled abroad after 1989, and Western politicians and media outlets.

    The first group’s understanding of the incident remains fixed in 1989. They refuse to correct their understanding of China’s development and the changes that the world has been through. Their interests have been decoupled from the Chinese people and have merged with anti-China forces outside China. Their attitude toward the incident cannot represent those of today’s Chinese public.

    Western politicians’ discussions of the incident are mainly influenced by their countries’ relations with China. Due to the deterioration of China-US ties, US officials have launched fierce attacks against China that have focused on the incident since last year. But Chinese people are clear that those officials are not genuinely concerned about Chinese human rights, but are making use of the incident as a diplomatic tool to challenge China.

    However, all these noises will have no real impact on Chinese society. The actions of the external forces are completely in vain.

    RELATED ARTICLES:

    Speech at the 18th Shangri-La Dialogue by Gen. Wei Fenghe, State Councilor and Minister of National Defense, PRC

    #Chine #4689

  • Call immigrant detention centers what they really are: concentration camps

    If you were paying close attention last week, you might have spotted a pattern in the news. Peeking out from behind the breathless coverage of the Trump family’s tuxedoed trip to London was a spate of deaths of immigrants in U.S. custody: Johana Medina Léon, a 25-year-old transgender asylum seeker; an unnamed 33-year-old Salvadoran man; and a 40-year-old woman from Honduras.

    Photos from a Border Patrol processing center in El Paso showed people herded so tightly into cells that they had to stand on toilets to breathe. Memos surfaced by journalist Ken Klippenstein revealed that Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s failure to provide medical care was responsible for suicides and other deaths of detainees. These followed another report that showed that thousands of detainees are being brutally held in isolation cells just for being transgender or mentally ill.

    Also last week, the Trump administration cut funding for classes, recreation and legal aid at detention centers holding minors — which were likened to “summer camps” by a senior ICE official last year. And there was the revelation that months after being torn from their parents’ arms, 37 children were locked in vans for up to 39 hours in the parking lot of a detention center outside Port Isabel, Texas. In the last year, at least seven migrant children have died in federal custody.

    Preventing mass outrage at a system like this takes work. Certainly it helps that the news media covers these horrors intermittently rather than as snowballing proof of a racist, lawless administration. But most of all, authorities prevail when the places where people are being tortured and left to die stay hidden, misleadingly named and far from prying eyes.

    There’s a name for that kind of system. They’re called concentration camps. You might balk at my use of the term. That’s good — it’s something to be balked at.

    The goal of concentration camps has always been to be ignored. The German-Jewish political theorist Hannah Arendt, who was imprisoned by the Gestapo and interned in a French camp, wrote a few years afterward about the different levels of concentration camps. Extermination camps were the most extreme; others were just about getting “undesirable elements … out of the way.” All had one thing in common: “The human masses sealed off in them are treated as if they no longer existed, as if what happened to them were no longer of interest to anybody, as if they were already dead.”

    Euphemisms play a big role in that forgetting. The term “concentration camp” is itself a euphemism. It was invented by a Spanish official to paper over his relocation of millions of rural families into squalid garrison towns where they would starve during Cuba’s 1895 independence war. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered Japanese Americans into prisons during World War II, he initially called them concentration camps. Americans ended up using more benign names, like “Manzanar Relocation Center.”

    Even the Nazis’ camps started out small, housing criminals, Communists and opponents of the regime. It took five years to begin the mass detention of Jews. It took eight, and the outbreak of a world war, for the first extermination camps to open. Even then, the Nazis had to keep lying to distract attention, claiming Jews were merely being resettled to remote work sites. That’s what the famous signs — Arbeit Macht Frei, or “Work Sets You Free” — were about.

    Subterfuge doesn’t always work. A year ago, Americans accidentally became aware that the Trump administration had adopted (and lied about) a policy of ripping families apart at the border. The flurry of attention was thanks to the viral conflation of two separate but related stories: the family-separation order and bureaucrats’ admission that they’d been unable to locate thousands of migrant children who’d been placed with sponsors after crossing the border alone.

    Trump shoved that easily down the memory hole. He dragged his heels a bit, then agreed to a new policy: throwing whole families into camps together. Political reporters posed irrelevant questions, like whether President Obama had been just as bad, and what it meant for the midterms. Then they moved on.

    It is important to note that Trump’s aides have built this system of racist terror on something that has existed for a long time. Several camps opened under Obama, and as president he deported millions of people.

    But Trump’s game is different. It certainly isn’t about negotiating immigration reform with Congress. Trump has made it clear that he wants to stifle all non-white immigration, period. His mass arrests, iceboxes and dog cages are part of an explicitly nationalist project to put the country under the control of the right kind of white people.

    As a Republican National Committee report noted in 2013: “The nation’s demographic changes add to the urgency of recognizing how precarious our position has become.” The Trump administration’s attempt to put a citizenship question on the 2020 census was also just revealed to have been a plot to disadvantage political opponents and boost “Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites” all along.

    That’s why this isn’t just a crisis facing immigrants. When a leader puts people in camps to stay in power, history shows that he doesn’t usually stop with the first group he detains.

    There are now at least 48,000 people detained in ICE facilities, which a former official told BuzzFeed News “could swell indefinitely.” Customs and Border Protection officials apprehended more than 144,000 people on the Southwest border last month. (The New York Times dutifully reported this as evidence of a “dramatic surge in border crossings,” rather than what it was: The administration using its own surge of arrests to justify the rest of its policies.)

    If we call them what they are — a growing system of American concentration camps — we will be more likely to give them the attention they deserve. We need to know their names: Port Isabel, Dilley, Adelanto, Hutto and on and on. With constant, unrelenting attention, it is possible we might alleviate the plight of the people inside, and stop the crisis from getting worse. Maybe people won’t be able to disappear so easily into the iceboxes. Maybe it will be harder for authorities to lie about children’s deaths.

    Maybe Trump’s concentration camps will be the first thing we think of when we see him scowling on TV.

    The only other option is to leave it up to those in power to decide what’s next. That’s a calculated risk. As Andrea Pitzer, author of “One Long Night,” one of the most comprehensive books on the history of concentration camps, recently noted: “Every country has said their camps are humane and will be different. Trump is instinctively an authoritarian. He’ll take them as far as he’s allowed to.”

    https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-katz-immigrant-concentration-camps-20190609-story.html
    #terminologie #vocabulaire #mots #camps #camps_de_concentration #centres_de_détention #détention_administrative #rétention #USA #Etats-Unis
    #cpa_camps

    • ‘Some Suburb of Hell’: America’s New Concentration Camp System

      On Monday, New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez referred to US border detention facilities as “concentration camps,” spurring a backlash in which critics accused her of demeaning the memory of those who died in the Holocaust. Debates raged over a label for what is happening along the southern border and grew louder as the week rolled on. But even this back-and-forth over naming the camps has been a recurrent feature in the mass detention of civilians ever since its inception, a history that long predates the Holocaust.

      At the heart of such policy is a question: What does a country owe desperate people whom it does not consider to be its citizens? The twentieth century posed this question to the world just as the shadow of global conflict threatened for the second time in less than three decades. The dominant response was silence, and the doctrine of absolute national sovereignty meant that what a state did to people under its control, within its borders, was nobody else’s business. After the harrowing toll of the Holocaust with the murder of millions, the world revisited its answer, deciding that perhaps something was owed to those in mortal danger. From the Fourth Geneva Convention protecting civilians in 1949 to the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, the international community established humanitarian obligations toward the most vulnerable that apply, at least in theory, to all nations.

      The twenty-first century is unraveling that response. Countries are rejecting existing obligations and meeting asylum seekers with walls and fences, from detainees fleeing persecution who were sent by Australia to third-party detention in the brutal offshore camps of Manus and Nauru to razor-wire barriers blocking Syrian refugees from entering Hungary. While some nations, such as Germany, wrestle with how to integrate refugees into their labor force—more and more have become resistant to letting them in at all. The latest location of this unwinding is along the southern border of the United States.

      So far, American citizens have gotten only glimpses of the conditions in the border camps that have been opened in their name. In the month of May, Customs and Border Protection reported a total of 132,887 migrants who were apprehended or turned themselves in between ports of entry along the southwest border, an increase of 34 percent from April alone. Upon apprehension, these migrants are temporarily detained by Border Patrol, and once their claims are processed, they are either released or handed over to ICE for longer-term detention. Yet Border Patrol itself is currently holding about 15,000 people, nearly four times what government officials consider to be this enforcement arm’s detention capacity.

      On June 12, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that Fort Sill, an Army post that hosted a World War II internment camp for detainees of Japanese descent, will now be repurposed to detain migrant children. In total, HHS reports that it is currently holding some 12,000 minors. Current law limits detention of minors to twenty days, though Senator Lindsey Graham has proposed expanding the court-ordered limit to 100 days. Since the post is on federal land, it will be exempt from state child welfare inspections.

      In addition to the total of detainees held by Border Patrol, an even higher number is detained at centers around the country by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency: on a typical day at the beginning of this month, ICE was detaining more than 52,500 migrants. The family separation policy outraged the public in the 2018, but despite legal challenges, it never fully ended. Less publicized have been the deaths of twenty-four adults in ICE custody since the beginning of the Trump administration; in addition, six children between the ages of two and sixteen have died in federal custody over the last several months. It’s not clear whether there have been other deaths that have gone unreported.

      Conditions for detainees have not been improving. At the end of May, a Department of Homeland Security inspector general found nearly 900 migrants at a Texas shelter built for a capacity of 125 people. On June 11, a university professor spotted at least 100 men behind chain-link fences near the Paso del Norte Bridge in El Paso, Texas. Those detainees reported sitting outside for weeks in temperatures that soared above 100 degrees. Taylor Levy, an El Paso immigration lawyer, described going into one facility and finding “a suicidal four-year-old whose face was covered in bloody, self-inflicted scratches… Another young child had to be restrained by his mother because he kept running full-speed into metal lockers. He was covered in bruises.”

      If deciding what to do about the growing numbers of adults and children seeking refuge in the US relies on complex humanitarian policies and international laws, in which most Americans don’t take a deep interest, a simpler question also presents itself: What exactly are these camps that the Trump administration has opened, and where is this program of mass detention headed?

      Even with incomplete information about what’s happening along the border today and what the government plans for these camps, history points to some conclusions about their future. Mass detention without trial earned a new name and a specific identity at the end of the nineteenth century. The labels then adopted for the practice were “reconcentración” and “concentration camps”—places of forced relocation of civilians into detention on the basis of group identity.

      Other kinds of group detention had appeared much earlier in North American history. The US government drove Native Americans from their homelands into prescribed exile, with death and detention in transit camps along the way. Some Spanish mission systems in the Americas had accomplished similar ends by seizing land and pressing indigenous people into forced labor. During the 245 years when slavery was legal in the US, detention was one of its essential features.

      Concentration camps, however, don’t typically result from the theft of land, as happened with Native Americans, or owning human beings in a system of forced labor, as in the slave trade. Exile, theft, and forced labor can come later, but in the beginning, detention itself is usually the point of concentration camps. By the end of the nineteenth century, the mass production of barbed wire and machines guns made this kind of detention possible and practical in ways it never had been before.

      Under Spanish rule in 1896, the governor-general of Cuba instituted camps in order to clear rebel-held regions during an uprising, despite his predecessor’s written refusal “as the representative of a civilized nation, to be the first to give the example of cruelty and intransigence” that such detention would represent. After women and children began dying in vast numbers behind barbed wire because there had been little planning for shelter and even less for food, US President William McKinley made his call to war before Congress. He spoke against the policy of reconcentración, calling it warfare by uncivilized means. “It was extermination,” McKinley said. “The only peace it could beget was that of the wilderness and the grave.” Without full records, the Cuban death toll can only be estimated, but a consensus puts it in the neighborhood of 150,000, more than 10 percent of the island’s prewar population.

      Today, we remember the sinking of the USS Maine as the spark that ignited the Spanish-American War. But war correspondent George Kennan (cousin of the more famous diplomat) believed that “it was the suffering of the reconcentrados, more, perhaps, than any other one thing that brought about the intervention of the United States.” On April 25, 1898, Congress declared war. Two weeks later, US Marines landed at Fisherman’s Point on the windward side of the entrance to Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. After a grim, week-long fight, the Marines took the hill. It became a naval base, and the United States has never left that patch of land.

      As part of the larger victory, the US inherited the Philippines. The world’s newest imperial power also inherited a rebellion. Following a massacre of American troops at Balangiga in September 1901, during the third year of the conflict, the US established its own concentration camp system. Detainees, mostly women and children, were forced into squalid conditions that one American soldier described in a letter to a US senator as “some suburb of hell.” In the space of only four months, more than 11,000 Filipinos are believed to have died in these noxious camps.

      Meanwhile, in southern Africa in 1900, the British had opened their own camps during their battle with descendants of Dutch settlers in the second Boer War. British soldiers filled tent cities with Boer women and children, and the military authorities called them refugee camps. Future Prime Minister David Lloyd George took offense at that name, noting in Parliament: “There is no greater delusion in the mind of any man than to apply the term ‘refugee’ to these camps. They are not refugee camps. They are camps of concentration.” Contemporary observers compared them to the Cuban camps, and criticized their deliberate cruelty. The Bishop of Hereford wrote to The Times of London in 1901, asking: “Are we reduced to such a depth of impotence that our Government can do nothing to stop such a holocaust of child-life?”

      Maggoty meat rations and polluted water supplies joined outbreaks of contagious diseases amid crowded and unhealthy conditions in the Boer camps. More than 27,000 detainees are thought to have died there, nearly 80 percent of them children. The British had opened camps for black Africans as well, in which at least 14,000 detainees died—the real number is probably much higher. Aside from protests made by some missionaries, the deaths of indigenous black Africans did not inspire much public outrage. Much of the history of the suffering in these camps has been lost.

      These early experiments with concentration camps took place on the periphery of imperial power, but accounts of them nevertheless made their way into newspapers and reports in many nations. As a result, the very idea of them came to be seen as barbaric. By the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, the first camp systems had all been closed, and concentration camps had nearly vanished as an institution. Within months of the outbreak of World War I, though, they would be resurrected—this time rising not at the margins but in the centers of power. Between 1914 and 1918, camps were constructed on an unprecedented scale across six continents. In their time, these camps were commonly called concentration camps, though today they are often referred to by the more anodyne term “internment.”

      Those World War I detainees were, for the most part, foreigners—or, in legalese, aliens—and recent anti-immigration legislation in several countries had deliberately limited their rights. The Daily Mail denounced aliens left at liberty once they had registered with their local police department, demanding, “Does signing his name take the malice out of a man?” The Scottish Field was more direct, asking, “Do Germans have souls?” That these civilian detainees were no threat to Britain did not keep them from being demonized, shouted at, and spat upon as they were paraded past hostile crowds in cities like London.

      Though a small number of people were shot in riots in these camps, and hunger became a serious issue as the conflict dragged on, World War I internment would present a new, non-lethal face for the camps, normalizing detention. Even after the war, new camps sprang up from Spain to Hungary and Cuba, providing an improvised “solution” for everything from vagrancy to anxieties over the presence of Jewish foreigners.

      Some of these camps were clearly not safe for those interned. Local camps appeared in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1921, after a white mob burned down a black neighborhood and detained African-American survivors. In Bolshevik Russia, the first concentration camps preceded the formation of the Soviet Union in 1922 and planted seeds for the brutal Gulag system that became official near the end of the USSR’s first decade. While some kinds of camps were understood to be harsher, after World War I their proliferation did not initially disturb public opinion. They had yet to take on their worst incarnations.

      In 1933, barely more than a month after Hitler was appointed chancellor, the Nazis’ first, impromptu camp opened in the town of Nohra in central Germany to hold political opponents. Detainees at Nohra were allowed to vote at a local precinct in the elections of March 5, 1933, resulting in a surge of Communist ballots in the tiny town. Locking up groups of civilians without trial had become accepted. Only the later realization of the horrors of the Nazi death camps would break the default assumption by governments and the public that concentration camps could and should be a simple way to manage populations seen as a threat.

      However, the staggering death toll of the Nazi extermination camp system—which was created mid-war and stood almost entirely separate from the concentration camps in existence since 1933—led to another result: a strange kind of erasure. In the decades that followed World War II, the term “concentration camp” came to stand only for Auschwitz and other extermination camps. It was no longer applied to the kind of extrajudicial detention it had denoted for generations. The many earlier camps that had made the rise of Auschwitz possible largely vanished from public memory.

      It is not necessary, however, to step back a full century in American history to find camps with links to what is happening on the US border today. Detention at Guantánamo began in the 1990s, when Haitian and Cuban immigrants whom the government wanted to keep out of the United States were housed there in waves over a four-year period—years before the “war on terror” and the US policy of rendition of suspected “enemy combatants” made Camps Delta, X-Ray, and Echo notorious. Tens of thousands of Haitians fleeing instability at home were picked up at sea and diverted to the Cuban base, to limit their legal right to apply for asylum. The court cases and battles over the suffering of those detainees ended up setting the stage for what Guantánamo would become after September 11, 2001.

      In one case, a federal court ruled that it did have jurisdiction over the base, but the government agreed to release the Haitians who were part of the lawsuit in exchange for keeping that ruling off the books. A ruling in a second case would assert that the courts did not have jurisdiction. Absent the prior case, the latter stood on its own as precedent. Leaving Guantánamo in this gray area made it an ideal site for extrajudicial detention and torture after the twin towers fell.

      This process of normalization, when a bad camp becomes much more dangerous, is not unusual. Today’s border camps are a crueler reflection of long-term policies—some challenged in court—that earlier presidents had enacted. Prior administrations own a share of the responsibility for today’s harsh practices, but the policies in place today are also accompanied by a shameless willingness to publicly target a vulnerable population in increasingly dangerous ways.

      I visited Guantánamo twice in 2015, sitting in the courtroom for pretrial hearings and touring the medical facility, the library, and all the old abandoned detention sites, as well as newly built ones, open to the media—from the kennel-style cages of Camp X-Ray rotting to ruin in the damp heat to the modern jailhouse facilities of Camp 6. Seeing all this in person made clear to me how vast the architecture of detention had become, how entrenched it was, and how hard it would be to close.

      Without a significant government effort to reverse direction, conditions in every camp system tend to deteriorate over time. Governments rarely make that kind of effort on behalf of people they are willing to lock up without trial in the first place. And history shows that legislatures do not close camps against the will of an executive.

      Just a few years ago there might have been more potential for change spurred by the judicial branch of our democracy, but this Supreme Court is inclined toward deference to executive power, even, it appears, if that power is abused. It seems unlikely this Court will intervene to end the new border camp system; indeed, the justices are far more likely to institutionalize it by half-measures, as happened with Guantánamo. The Korematsu case, in which the Supreme Court upheld Japanese-American internment (a ruling only rescinded last year), relied on the suppression of evidence by the solicitor general. Americans today can have little confidence that this administration would behave any more scrupulously when defending its detention policy.

      What kind of conditions can we expect to develop in these border camps? The longer a camp system stays open, the more likely it is that vital things will go wrong: detainees will contract contagious diseases and suffer from malnutrition and mental illness. We have already seen that current detention practices have resulted in children and adults succumbing to influenza, staph infections, and sepsis. The US is now poised to inflict harm on tens of thousands more, perhaps hundreds of thousands more.

      Along with such inevitable consequences, every significant camp system has introduced new horrors of its own, crises that were unforeseen when that system was opened. We have yet to discover what those will be for these American border camps. But they will happen. Every country thinks it can do detention better when it starts these projects. But no good way to conduct mass indefinite detention has yet been devised; the system always degrades.

      When, in 1940, Margarete Buber-Neumann was transferred from the Soviet Gulag at Karaganda to the camp for women at Ravensbrück (in an exchange enabled by the Nazi–Soviet Pact), she came from near-starvation conditions in the USSR and was amazed at the cleanliness and order of the Nazi camp. New arrivals were issued clothing, bedding, and silverware, and given fresh porridge, fruit, sausage, and jam to eat. Although the Nazi camps were already punitive, order-obsessed monstrosities, the wartime overcrowding that would soon overtake them had not yet made daily life a thing of constant suffering and squalor. The death camps were still two years away.

      The United States now has a vast and growing camp system. It is starting out with gruesome overcrowding and inadequate healthcare, and because of budget restrictions, has already taken steps to cut services to juvenile detainees. The US Office of Refugee Resettlement says that the mounting number of children arriving unaccompanied is forcing it to use military bases and other sites that it prefers to avoid, and that establishing these camps is a temporary measure. But without oversight from state child welfare inspectors, the possibilities for neglect and abuse are alarming. And without any knowledge of how many asylum-seekers are coming in the future, federal administrators are likely to find themselves boxed in to managing detention on military sites permanently.

      President Trump and senior White House adviser Stephen Miller appear to have purged the Department of Homeland Security of most internal opposition to their anti-immigrant policies. In doing so, that have removed even those sympathetic to the general approach taken by the White House, such as former Chief of Staff John Kelly and former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, in order to escalate the militarization of the border and expand irregular detention in more systematic and punitive ways. This kind of power struggle or purge in the early years of a camp system is typical.

      The disbanding of the Cheka, the Soviet secret police, in February 1922 and the transfer of its commander, Felix Dzerzhinsky, to head up an agency with control over only two prisons offered a hint of an alternate future in which extrajudicial detention would not play a central role in the fledgling Soviet republic. But Dzerzhinsky managed to keep control over the “special camps” in his new position, paving the way for the emergence of a camp-centered police state. In pre-war Germany in the mid-1930s, Himmler’s struggle to consolidate power from rivals eventually led him to make camps central to Nazi strategy. When the hardliners win, as they appear to have in the US, conditions tend to worsen significantly.

      Is it possible this growth in the camp system will be temporary and the improvised border camps will soon close? In theory, yes. But the longer they remain open, the less likely they are to vanish. When I visited the camps for Rohingya Muslims a year before the large-scale campaign of ethnic cleansing began, many observers appeared to be confusing the possible and the probable. It was possible that the party of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi would sweep into office in free elections and begin making changes. It was possible that full democracy would come to all the residents of Myanmar, even though the government had stripped the Rohingya of the last vestiges of their citizenship. These hopes proved to be misplaced. Once there are concentration camps, it is always probable that things will get worse.

      The Philippines, Japanese-American internment, Guantánamo… we can consider the fine points of how the current border camps evoke past US systems, and we can see how the arc of camp history reveals the likelihood that the suffering we’re currently inflicting will be multiplied exponentially. But we can also simply look at what we’re doing right now, shoving bodies into “dog pound”-style detention pens, “iceboxes,” and standing room-only spaces. We can look at young children in custody who have become suicidal. How much more historical awareness do we really need?

      https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2019/06/21/some-suburb-of-hell-americas-new-concentration-camp-system

    • #Alexandria_Ocasio-Cortez engage le bras de fer avec la politique migratoire de Donald Trump

      L’élue de New York a qualifié les camps de rétention pour migrants érigés à la frontière sud des Etats-Unis de « camps de concentration ».

      https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2019/06/19/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-engage-le-bras-de-fer-avec-la-politique-migratoire-

  • BBC - Capital - The city in the shadow of an ageing nuclear reactor
    http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20190527-the-city-in-the-shadow-of-an-ageing-nuclear-reactor

    Metsamor has been described as one of the world’s most dangerous nuclear power plants because of its location in an earthquake zone.

    It sits just 35km (22 miles) from Armenia’s bustling capital, Yerevan, with distant views of snowy Mount Ararat across the border in Turkey.

    The plant was constructed around the same time as Chernobyl in the 1970s. At the time the Metsamor reactor provided energy for the growing needs of a vast Soviet Union, which once had ambitious plans to generate 60% of its electricity from nuclear power by 2000.

    #nucléaire #arménie #ex-urss #soviétisme #metsamor

  • Soviet Milk by Nora Ikstena review – a blistering Latvian bestseller | Books | The Guardian

    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/aug/31/soviet-milk-by-nora-ikstena-review

    Outre le fait que le livre a l’air d’être très intéressant, cette écrivaine nous fait l’honneur d’une visite sur notre île au milieu du fjord, nous pourrons discuter de cette œuvre.

    A century has passed since the Baltic state of Latvia officially became a nation, and for half that time it was part of the Soviet Union. It’s a bitter history and there’s a sense in Nora Ikstena’s bestselling novel, about women versus the state, of a hard-won creative reckoning.

    Running from the end of the second world war to the fall of the Berlin Wall, the novel – Ikstena’s 20th – is narrated in alternating sections by an unnamed mother and daughter. “My milk was bitter: the milk of incomprehension, of extinction. I protected my child from it,” says the mother, a fertility specialist whose medical career is blighted after she turns on the abusive husband of a childless woman who seeks her help during a research trip to Leningrad.

    #Littérature #soviétisme #ex-urss #nora_ikstena

    • Nora Ikstena’s ‘Soviet Milk’ - The White Review
      http://www.thewhitereview.org/reviews/nora-ikstenas-soviet-milk

      Soviet Milk by Nora Ikstena opens with two women who cannot remember. ‘I don’t remember 15 October 1969,’ says the first. ‘I don’t remember 22 October 1944,’ says the second, ‘but I can reconstruct it.’ They can only reconstruct what happened because these are the days on which they were born. Birth reminds us that we are always dependent upon another to know the truth of who we are, something few of us ever come to terms with. These two women are never named: the first, born in Riga in 1969 in the early years of Leonid Brezhnev’s rule over the Soviet Union, is the daughter of the second, born when Riga was liberated from the Nazis at the end of the Second World War. This mother is also a daughter, born to a woman who resolved to forget the independent Latvia of her youth, and a father who refused to forget that Latvia condemned him to the gulag. Soviet Milk consists of these two women telling their stories in short alternating sections, manifesting in its form the intimacy and distance of what the daughter calls their ‘two parallel worlds’.

  • #Elite gathering reveals anxiety over ‘class war’ and ‘#revolution’
    Financial Times 2 mai 2019

    The Milken Institute’s annual gathering of the investment, business and political elites this week featured big names from US Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin to David Solomon, chief executive of Goldman Sachs.

    [..,]

    Despite widespread optimism about the outlook for the US economy and financial markets, some of the biggest names on Wall Street and in corporate America revealed their anxiety about the health of the economic model that made them millionaires and billionaires.

    Mr Milken himself, whose conference was known as the predators’ ball when he ruled over the booming junk bond market of the 1980s, was among those fretfully revisiting a debate that has not loomed so large since before the fall of the Berlin Wall: whether capitalism’s supremacy is threatened by creeping socialism.

    Mr Milken played a video of Thatcher from two years before she became UK prime minister. “Capitalism has a moral basis,” she declared, and “to be free, you have to be capitalist”. Applause rippled through the ballroom.

    In the run-up to the conference, essays by Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Associates and Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase about the case for reforming capitalism to sustain it have been widely shared. Executives are paying close attention to what one investment company CEO called “the shift left of the Democratic party”, personified by 2020 presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and the social media success of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the democratic socialist elected to Congress last year.

    Former Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt issued his own rallying cry as he sat beside Ivanka Trump to discuss the conference theme of “driving shared prosperity”.

    “I’m concerned with this notion that somehow socialism’s going to creep back in, because capitalism is the source of our collective wealth as a country,” Mr Schmidt said, urging his fellow capitalists to get the message out that “it’s working”.

    Mr Milken asked Ken Griffin, the billionaire founder of the hedge fund Citadel, why young Americans seemed to have lost faith in the free market, flashing up a poll on the screen behind them which showed 44 per cent of millennials saying they would prefer to live in a socialist country.

    “You and I grew up in a different era, where the cold war was waking up and there was a great debate in America about the strengths and weaknesses of socialism as compared to the economic freedom that we enjoy in our country,” Mr Griffin replied, saying that they had “seen that question answered” with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

    The younger generation that support socialism are “people who don’t know history”, he said.

    Guggenheim Partners’ Alan Schwartz put the risks of rising income inequality more starkly. “You take the average person . . . they’re just basically saying something that used to be 50:50 is now 60:40; it’s not working for me,” he told another conference session, pointing to the gap between wage growth and the growth of corporate profits.

    “If you look at the rightwing and the leftwing, what’s really coming is class warfare,” he warned. “Throughout centuries what we’ve seen when the masses think the elites have too much, one of two things happens: legislation to redistribute the wealth . . . or revolution to redistribute poverty. Those are the two choices historically and debating it back and forth, saying ‘no, it’s capitalism; no, it’s socialism’ is what creates revolution.”

    There was less discussion of the prospect of higher taxes on America’s wealthiest, which some Democrats have proposed to finance an agenda many executives support, such as investing in education, infrastructure and retraining a workforce threatened by technological disruption and globalisation.

    One top investment company executive echoed the common view among the conference’s wealthy speakers: “ Punitive #redistribution won’t work.”

    But another financial services executive, who donated to Hillary Clinton’s US presidential campaign in 2016, told the Financial Times: “ I’d pay 5 per cent more in tax to make the world a slightly less scary place .”

    #capitalisme #anxiété #capitalistes

  • Syria Latest: Day-to-Day Life in War-Weary Damascus - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2019-04-26/waiting-19-hours-for-gas-in-a-lifeless-city

    Instead of a frenzy of reconstruction and the promise of revival, Syrians have found themselves fighting another battle. Weary and traumatized from the violence, they’re focused on trying to survive in a decimated economy that shows no signs of imminent revival and with no peace dividend on the horizon.

    [..,]

    Robert Ford, a former U.S. ambassador to Syria, said the Trump administration is much more aggressive than under Barack Obama, using more secondary penalties that target those doing business with sanctioned individuals or companies.

    In November, the U.S. Treasury Department added a network of Russian and Iranian companies to its blacklist for shipping oil to Syria and warned of significant risks for those violating the sanctions.

    “It is a conscious policy of the American government to try to strangle to death the Iranian government in Tehran and the Syrian government in Damascus,” said Ford, who’s now a fellow at the Middle East Institute. “They don’t want to fight a military war with the Syrian government, but they’re perfectly willing to fight an economic war.”

    Ford likened the situation in Syria to the one in Cuba after the economy collapsed in the Soviet Union in the late 1980s. Cuba had financial difficulties, “but the Castros are still there,” he said.

    #Syrie #sanctions #civils #etats-unis

  • An Interview with Ryszard Kapuscinski: Writing about Suffering
    https://quod.lib.umich.edu/j/jii/4750978.0006.107/--interview-with-ryszard-kapuscinski-writing-about-suffering?rgn=mai

    Wolfe:

    Were you trained as a journalist? Kapuscinski: No, never. I started in journalism in 1950 — I was 18, just finishing secondary school, and the newspaper people came to ask me to work. I learned journalism through practice.

    Wolfe: How would you describe your genre?

    Kapuscinski: It’s very difficult to describe. We have such a mixture now, such a fusion of different genres… in the American tradition you would call it New Journalism. This implies writing about the facts, the real facts of life, but using the techniques of fiction writing. There is a certain difference in my case, because I’m trying to put more elements of the essay into my writing… My writing is a combination of three elements. The first is travel: not travel like a tourist, but travel as exploration, as concentration, as a purpose. The second is reading literature on the subject: books, articles, scholarship. The third is reflection, which comes from travel and reading. My books are created from a combination of these three elements.

    Wolfe:When did the idea of Aesopian writing enter into the genre, the idea of putting layers into official texts?

    Kapuscinski: Well, this is not a new thing — it was a nineteenth-century Russian tradition. As for us, we were trying to use all the available possibilities, because there wasn’t any underground. Underground literature only began in the 70s, when technical developments made it possible. Before that, we were involved in a game with the censors. That was our struggle. The Emperor is considered to be an Aesopian book in Poland and the Soviet Union. Of course it’s not about Ethiopia or Haile Selassie — rather, it’s about the Central Committee of the Communist Party. The First Secretary at the time was named Gierek, and he was very much the emperor with his court, and everybody read the book as being about him and the Central Committee.

    Wolfe: But you didn’t write explicitly about the Central Committee.

    Kapuscinski: No, but of course the authorities knew what it was about, and so it had a very small circulation, and it was forbidden to turn it into a film or a play. Aesopian language was used by all of us. And of course, using this language meant having readers who understood it.

    Cohen: The other day we were discussing the crisis of readership, and wondering whether people were still capable of doing the double reading, of taking apart a text that has been written in a complicated way.

    Kapuscinski: The limitation of sources under the Communists had a very political effect on reading. People had just one book, and nothing else — no television or other diversions — so they just read the same book very carefully several times. Readership was high, and very attentive. It was people’s only source of knowledge about the world. You have to understand that the tradition of Russian literature — and Russians are great readers — is also an eastern tradition of learning poetry and prose by heart. This is the most intimate relationship between literature and its readers: they treat the text as a part of themselves, as a possession. This art of reading, reading the text behind the text, is missing now.

    Cohen: When did you first arrive on the African continent?

    Kapuscinski:My first trip to Africa came when the first countries south of the Sahara became independent, in 1958. Ghana was the first African country I visited. I wrote a series of reports about Nkumrah and Lumumba. My second trip was just two years later, when I went to cover the events surrounding the independence of the Congo. At that time, I was not allowed to go to Kinshasa — it was Leopoldville at that time — but I crossed the Sudan-Congo border illegally with a Czech journalist friend, since there was nobody patrolling it. And I went to Kisangani, which was called Stanleyville then.

    Cohen: Were you in Leopoldville during the actual transfer[1]?

    Kapuscinski:No, afterwards. It was a moment of terrible international tension. I remember the atmosphere of danger: there was the expectation that the Congo might begin a new world war. I say this today and people just smile. But that’s why everybody was so nervous: Russians were going there, Americans were going there, the French, the United Nations… I remember one moment at the airport in Kisangani, thinking that Soviet planes were coming — all the journalists were there, and we all expected it to happen.

    Cohen: At that time, in the early 1960s, there weren’t more than three regular American journalists covering Africa.

    Kapuscinski:There were very few, because most correspondents came from the former colonial powers — there were British, French, and a lot of Italians, because there were a lot of Italian communities there. And of course there were a lot of Russians.

    Wolfe: Was there competition among this handful of people?

    Kapuscinski: No, we all cooperated, all of us, East and West, regardless of country, because the working conditions were really terrible. We had to. We always moved in groups from one coup d’état to another, from one war to another… So if there was a coup d’état of leftist orientation in some country I took my Western colleagues with me and said “look, let them come in,” and if there was one of rightist orientation they took me, saying “no, he’s okay, give him a visa please, he’s going with us, he’s our friend,” and so on. I didn’t compete with the New York Times, for example, because the Polish press agency is a small piece of cake, not important. And because conditions were so hard. For example, to send the news out, there was no e-mail, nothing: telex was the only means, but telex was very rare in Africa. So if somebody was flying to Europe, we gave him correspondence, to send after he arrived. I remember that during the period leading up to independence in Angola in 1975, I was the only correspondent there at all for three months. I was in my hotel room when somebody knocked on my door - I opened it, and a man said, “I’m the New York Times correspondent.” The official independence celebration was going to be held over four or five days, and a group of journalists from all over the world was allowed to fly in, because Angola was closed otherwise. So he said, “I’m sorry, but I’m the new man here, and I heard you’ve been here longer, and I have to write something from Angola, and this is the article I have to send to the New York Times. Could you kindly read it and correct things which are not real?” And he brought a bottle of whiskey. And whiskey was something which was absolutely marvelous, because there was nothing: no cigarettes, no food, nothing…The difference at that time, in comparison with today, was that this was a group of highly specialized people. They were real Africanists, and not only from experience. If you read articles from that time in Le Monde, in the Times, you’ll find that the authors really had background, a knowledge of the subject. It was a very highly qualified sort of journalism — we were all great specialists.

    Woodford: Professor Piotr Michalowski[2] says that when he was growing up in Poland, people lived through your reports in a very special way: they were like a big, exotic outlet, given the state of world politics. People of all ranks and stations followed these adventures. When you went back, did regular Poles, non-educated people, also want you to tell them about what it was like to see these things?

    Kapuscinski:Yes, very much so. They were very interested in what I was writing. This was a unique source of information, and Africa held incomparably greater interest for them at that time than it does now. People were really interested in what was going on because of the international context of the Cold War.

    Wolfe: What did the Poles know about Africa?

    Kapuscinski: They had very limited knowledge. This was very typical of the European understanding of Africa, which is full of stereotypes and biases. Nevertheless, there was a certain fascination with Africa. Maybe it has something to do with our literature: we have Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, for example, and Conrad is considered in Poland as a Polish writer. The similarity between Africa and Poland - and this is an argument I have always had with people in Africa - is that we were also a colonized country. We were a colony for 130 years. We lost independence at the end of the 18th century, and only regained it in 1918, after the First World War. We were divided between three colonial powers - Russia, Prussia, and Austria. There’s a certain similarity of experience. I’ve often quarreled with African friends about this. I’ve asked, “How long were you colonized?” "Eighty years," they’ve answered, and I’ve responded, “We were colonized 50 years longer, so what can you say about colonialism? I’ll tell you what colonial experience is.” And they’re shocked. But though there is a similarity of experience, the common people are not conscious of this.

    Wolfe: At the end of the Copernicus Lecture, you said that you wrote Imperium because it was important to bring a Polish way of seeing things to your topic. How did you come to a sense that there was a Polish way of seeing things? Did it emerge from your experiences in Africa, or in relationship to Russia?

    Kapuscinski: It developed in relation to Russia in particular. Our history, the history of Polish-Russian relations, is very tragic, very harrowing. There has been a lot of suffering on our side, because Stalin killed all our intelligentsia. It wasn’t just that he killed 100,000 people, it was that he purposely killed the 100,000 who were our only intelligentsia… When I started writing Imperium, I had a problem with my conscience, because if I wrote strictly from the point of view of this Polish experience, the book would be completely unacceptable and incomprehensible to the Western reader…So I had to put aside our Polish experience, and to find an angle, an objective way of writing about Russia.

    Wolfe: Isn’t there something inherently difficult in writing about suffering? How does one go back and forth between a sense of causation in daily suffering on the one hand, and an understanding of the purges as a social phenomenon, on the other? How does one attempt to understand the cultural propensity of Russians to suffer?

    Kapuscinski: There is a fundamental difference between the Polish experience of the state and the Russian experience. In the Polish experience, the state was always a foreign power. So, to hate the state, to be disobedient to the state, was a patriotic act. In the Russian experience, although the Russian state is oppressive, it is their state, it is part of their fabric, and so the relation between Russian citizens and their state is much more complicated. There are several reasons why Russians view the oppressive state positively. First of all, in Russian culture, in the Russian Orthodox religion, there is an understanding of authority as something sent by God. This makes the state part of the sacred… So if the state is oppressive, then it is oppressive, but you can’t revolt against it. The cult of authority is very strong in Russian society.

    Wolfe: But what is the difference between Soviet suffering and something like the battle of the Marne, the insanity of World War I and trench warfare?

    Kapuscinski: It’s different. In the First World War, there was the sudden passion of nationalism, and the killing took place because of these emotions. But the Soviet case is different, because there you had systematic murder, like in the Holocaust. Ten or 12 million Ukrainian peasants were purposely killed by Stalin, by starvation, in the Ukrainian hunger of 1932-3…It was a very systematic plan… In modern Russia, you have no official, formal assessment of this past. Nobody in any Russian document has said that the policy of the Soviet government was criminal, that it was terrible. No one has ever said this.

    Woodford: But what about Khrushchev in 1956?

    Kapuscinski: I’m speaking about the present. Official Russian state doctrine and foreign policy doesn’t mention the Bolshevik policy of expansion. It doesn’t condemn it. If you ask liberal Russians - academics, politicians - if Russia is dangerous to us, to Europe, to the world, they say: “No, it’s not dangerous, we’re too weak, we have an economic crisis, difficulties with foreign trade, our army is in a state of anarchy…” That is the answer. They are not saying: “We will never, ever repeat our crimes of expansionism, of constant war.” No, they say: “We are not dangerous to you, because right now we are weak.”

    Cohen:

    When Vaclav Havel was president of Czechoslovakia, he was asked whether the state would take responsibility for the deaths, the oppression, the confiscations of the previous governments of Czechoslovakia, and he said “yes.” The same questions were asked in South Africa of the Mandela government. And I think Poland is now struggling with how much responsibility the government will have to take for the past. But the Russian official response has been that Stalin can be blamed for everything.

    Kapuscinski:This is a very crucial point: there is a lack of critical assessment of the past. But you have to understand that the current ruling elite is actually the old ruling elite. So they are incapable of a self-critical approach to the past.

    Polish-born journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski worked as an African correspondent for various Polish periodicals and press agencies from 1958 to 1980. In his book Imperium (Granta Books, 1994), he turns a journalist’s eye onto the Russian state, and the effects of authoritarianism on everyday Russian life. Kapuscinski delivered his November, 1997 Copernicus lecture: "The Russian Puzzle: Why I Wrote Imperium at the Center for Russian and East European Studies. During his visit, he spoke with David Cohen (International Institute); John Woodford (Executive Editor of Michigan Today ); and Thomas Wolfe (Communications). The following is an excerpted transcript of their conversation.

    Sei Sekou Mobutu seized control of the Congo in 1965. After the evolution, the name of the capital was changed from Leopoldville to Kinshasa, and in 1971 the country was renamed Zaire, instead of the Congo. return to text

    Piotr Michalowski is the George D. Cameron Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations and Languages at the Unversity of Michigan.

    Kapuscinski, more magical than real

    What’s the truth about Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski
    https://www.newstatesman.com/africa/2007/02/wrong-kapuscinski-african

    https://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryszard_Kapu%C5%9Bci%C5%84ski

    #presse #littérature #reportage

  • Rich Russians and Tax Havens: The Moscow Times Sits Down With Oliver Bullough
    https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2019/01/22/rich-russians-and-tax-havens-the-moscow-times-sits-down-with-oliver-

    What part does Russia play in Moneyland?

    Moneyland’s system was actually created by the United Kingdom during the Cold War, when the city of London was looking for a new role and invented offshores, in cooperation with the banks in Switzerland.

    But it was then very quickly discovered by the Soviet Union and later by Russians. They are among the most enthusiastic money launderers and users of this system. Russia is also one of the countries that is most affected by Moneyland.

  • World War II : Operation Barbarossa - The Atlantic
    https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2011/07/world-war-ii-operation-barbarossa/100112

    Operation Barbarossa : 9 popular myths busted - History Extra
    https://www.historyextra.com/period/second-world-war/operation-barbarossa-9-popular-myths-busted

    Mass surrenders by Soviet soldiers

    “The enemy is fighting with the utmost stamina and courage,” Heeresgruppe Mitte [German Army group centre] reported to the German Army High Command on 28 June. German 4th Army described the Soviet soldiers as “exceptionally tough and stalwart.” “White” émigres who had fled Russia after the October Revolution were used to try to convince the encircled Red Army troops to surrender and join the anti-Bolshevik side, but this was “categorically refused,” according to a German Army report. Another German account reads: “What has become of the Russian of 1914–17, who ran away or approached us with his hands in the air when the firestorm reached its peak? Now he remains in his bunker and forces us to burn him out, he prefers to be scorched in his tank, and his airmen continue firing at us even when their own aircraft is set ablaze. What has become of the Russian? Ideology has changed him!”


    Les atrocités contre les femmes commis par les soldats allemands ont changé les relations entre les sexes en Allemagne. Après la guerre les hommes n’étaient plus les mêmes. Ils s’étaient transformés en bombes à retardement pour toute femme qui les laissait trop approcher.
    J’en ai eu un echo récemment quand mon père mentionnait qu’il a été embauché comme assistant par une rédactrice du Ullstein Verlag parce qu’il était le seul homme qu’elle connaissait avec qui elle pouvait avoir des rapports de travail rapprochés sans qu’il prenne la situation comme invitation à des rapports sexuels.

    The unknown wave of mass rape on the Eastern Front

    Western writers have been quite successful in establishing the terrible wave of rapes committed by Soviet soldiers in Germany and Poland towards the end of the war as a general public knowledge. For instance, in his epic book on the battle of Berlin, historian Antony Beevor deals with the rape of German or Polish women by Soviet soldiers on 28 different pages. When dealing with rape, the victim’s perspective must of course dominate, and thus it is absolutely justified and a moral obligation to deal with these atrocities. What makes the whole matter even more tragic is that German rapes of Polish and Soviet women, probably on an even larger scale and definitely preceding these Soviet rapes, are ignored by nearly all Western historians. Although probably millions of Soviet citizens, primarily women and girls, became rape victims, the topic has been grossly understudied.

    There is also a widespread myth that Jews were not sexually assaulted by Germans. Evidence from all over Europe, including the occupied territories and the concentration camps, prove that this is not true. The Nazi laws against having sex with a Jewish woman only pertained in cases of consensual sex.

    Even in spite of their official military and racial laws and rules, Germans of the Wehrmacht, the SS, the police, the civilian administration and their allies engaged in mass rape, including gang rape on an enormous and routine scale, in the occupied territories of the Soviet Union and Poland. The victims were Jews as well as gentiles; women and girls as well as men and boys; and victims were from the youngest of ages. There are examples of a 90-year old female rape victim as well as nine- or eight-year-old girls.

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    #guerre #viol #URSS #opération_barbarossa #nazis

  • One sixth of world’s people want to flee their home countries - World Socialist Web Site

    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/12/31/pers-d31.html

    The world is pulsing with hundreds of millions of people desperate to flee their homes under the weight of the crisis of world capitalism. According to a recent Gallup study, a sixth of the world’s adult population—some 750 million people, not including children—want to flee their home countries to escape war, poverty, conflict and disease.

    The statistics expose the devastating impact of decades of imperialist war and corporate exploitation. In the more than quarter-century since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the ruling classes of the major powers, led by the United States, have unleashed an unprecedented wave of military plunder and social counterrevolution, killing millions and laying waste to broad swaths of the world.

    A third of the inhabitants of sub-Saharan Africa want to escape. The region, which is rich in minerals and oil coveted by French, Dutch, Belgian and American corporations, has a life expectancy of 46, while 70 percent of the population lives on less than $2 per day.

    #pauvreté #guerre #violence #migrations #réfugiés

  • Kampuchea, il diritto e le menzogne


    –-> document trouvé dans des archives en Italie par @wizo.
    Archives : Fondazione Avvenire à Côme (http://www.fondazioneavvenire.it)

    Il s’agit de la reproduction d’un article écrit par #Virgilio_Calvo, paru dans la revue « Tricontinental » en 1981.

    «Lo scritto di Calvo costituisce un appassionante appello alla comunità mondiale perché venga riconosciuta, da tutti i popoli, la Repubblica Popolare di Kambuchea, legittima rappresentante del popolo cambogiano, sollevatosi per abbattere la tirannia del genocida Pol Pot»

    #Cambodge #histoire #gauche #vérité #mensonge #journalisme #presse #médias #génocide #Pol_Pot #guerre_froide #impérialisme #ONU #Nations_Unies

    • #Tricontinental

      Tricontinental is a leftist quarterly magazine founded during the Tricontinental Conference. The magazine is the official publication of the Cuban organisation #OSPAAAL which also publishes it. It has its headquarters in Havana.

      From the founding of Tricontinental in August 1967 until the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which led to a rapid recession in the Cuban economy, propaganda posters were folded up and placed inside copies of the magazine, however, this was stopped, along with publication of Tricontinental, due to ink shortages and financial trouble.

      Tricontinental began to be printed again in 1995. In 2000, the decision was made to begin to reprint posters.

      The magazine is distributed around the world, and at its height, 87 countries received Tricontinental, and there were more than 100,000 subscribers, mostly students. At one time, it was very common for posters from issues of Tricontinental to be posted on the walls of student community centres.


      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tricontinental

  • After the Quake

    #Gyumri, the city symbol of the quake that 21 years ago struck Armenia. The stories of the homeless, the #domiks, the migrants, waiting for the opening of the borders with Turkey. Reportage.

    December 7, 1988, 11.41 am – An earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale hits northern Armenia, killing 25,000 and leaving many more homeless. Mikhail Gorbachev, then General Secretary of the Communist Party of the U.S.S.R. cuts short an official visit to the United States to travel to the small South Caucasus Soviet republic as news of the catastrophe makes headlines the world over. Poverty skyrockets as a nation mourned its dead.

    Hundreds of millions of dollars flooded into the country for relief and reconstruction efforts, but two other events of as much significance soon frustrated efforts to rebuild the disaster zone. In 1991, Armenia declared independence from the former Soviet Union, and in 1993, in support of Azerbaijan during a de facto war with Armenia over the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh, Turkey closed the land border with its eastern neighbor.

    Meanwhile, as corruption skyrocketed, the conflict as well as two closed borders and an economic blockade by Azerbaijan and Turkey only added to Armenia’s woes. Yet, despite strong economic growth in the mid-2000s, albeit from a low base, and promises from then President Robert Kocharyan to completely rebuild Gyumri, Armenia’s second largest city and the main urban center to be hit by the earthquake, the outlook appears as bleak as ever.

    Once Gyumri had been known for its architecture, humor and cultural importance, but now it has become synonymous with the earthquake and domiks – “temporary” accommodation usually amounting to little more than metal containers or dilapidated shacks. Hot in the summer and bitterly cold in the winter, others more fortunate found refuge in abandoned buildings vacated during the economic collapse following independence.

    Vartik Ghukasyan, for example, is 71 and alone. An orphan, she never married and now struggles to survive on a pension of just 25,000 AMD (about $65) a month in a rundown former factory hostel in Gyumri. However, that might all change as more buildings are privatized or their existing owners seek to reclaim them.

    According to the 2001 census, the population of Gyumri stands at 150,000 although some claim that it has since grown to 160-170,000. Nevertheless, few local residents take such figures seriously. Pointing to low school attendance figures, they estimate the actual population might be no more than 70,000. Even so, despite the exodus, there are as many as 4-7,000 families still living in temporary shelter according to various estimates.

    Anush Babajanyan, a 26-year-old photojournalist from the Armenian capital, is one of just a few media professionals who remain concerned by their plight. Having spent the past year documenting the lives of those still waiting for proper housing, the anniversary might have been otherwise low-profile outside of Gyumri, but Babajanyan attempted to focus attention on the occasion by exhibiting her work in Yerevan.

    “When I started this project, 20 years had passed since the earthquake and there were families still living in domiks who were not receiving enough attention,” she told Osservatorio. “ The government and other organizations promised to solve the issue of their housing, but their actions were not enough. Since then I have seen very little improvement.”

    “If this issue wasn’t solved in 20 years, it probably isn’t surprising that not much has changed in just a year. However, it has been two years since Serge Sargsyan, then Armenian prime minister and now president, said that the issue of these residents will be solved by now. But, although some districts are being reconstructed, this is not enough to resolve the issue.”

    As the center of Shirak, an impoverished region that most in Armenia and its large Diaspora appear to have largely forgotten, Gyumri suffers from unemployment higher than the national average. Travel agents continue to advertise flights from the local airport to parts of Russia. As elsewhere in the region, the only hope for a better life lies outside. But, with a global economic crisis hitting the CIS hard, there are now also fewer opportunities even there.

    This year GDP per capita has already plummeted by over 14 percent nationwide, far in excess of the decline registered in Azerbaijan and Georgia, while poverty and extreme poverty - already calculated with a low yardstick - has reportedly increased from 25.6 and 3.6 percent respectively in 2008 to 28.4 and 6.9 percent today. Local civil society activists claim that the figures might be twice as high in Gyumri.

    But, some believe, the city could benefit greatly from an open border with Turkey , transforming itself into a major economic and transit hub for direct trade between the two countries. Just 8 km away lies the village of Akhurik, one of two closed border crossings. Repair work had been conducted on the railway connecting Gyumri to the Turkish city of Kars prior to last year’s World Cup qualifying match with Turkey held in Yerevan.

    With Turkish President Abdullah Gül making a historic visit to Armenia for the match, villagers were once again given hope that a border opening would be imminent. “It will be very good if it opens,” one resident told RFE/RL at the time. “We used to work in the past — 40 families benefited from work related to the railway. Now they sit idle without work or have to choose migrant work in Russia. It will be good when the line is opened.”

    But, with pressure from Azerbaijan on Turkey not to sign two protocols aimed at establishing diplomatic relations and opening the border until the Karabakh conflict is resolved, such a breakthrough appears as elusive as ever while unemployment and poverty increases. Nowhere is that more evident than the city of Ashotsk, just 30 minutes outside of Gyumri. Karine Mkrtchyan, public relations officer for the Caritas Armenia NGO says conditions are typical.

    “Everywhere you will see abandoned places, especially public spaces,” she says. “They are ruined. There are no facilities, there is a lack of drinking water, and irrigation. People are on their own to solve their problems. We had a loss of life during the earthquake and then massive migration which stopped in the late 1990s before starting again in early 2000. Now there are even more people who decide to migrate.”

    Last week, on the 21st anniversary of the earthquake, the government attempted to counter criticism of what many consider to be inaction and a lack of concern with the socioeconomic situation in Gyumri. Opening a sugar refinery owned by one of the country’s most notorious oligarchs at the same time, the Armenian president visited Gyumri and promised that 5,300 new homes would allocated to those still without by 2013.

    The $70 million construction project has been made possible through a $500 million anti-crisis loan from the Russian Federation.

    However, whether such promises come to fruition remains to be seen and government critics remain unimpressed. Indeed, they point out, even if the apartments are built and allocated on time, it would have taken a quarter of a century to do so. Moreover, for Gyumri natives such as Mkrtchyan, the need for economic investment and development in the regions of Armenia remains as urgent as ever.

    https://www.balcanicaucaso.org/eng/Areas/Armenia/After-the-Quake-55719
    #tremblement_de_terre #post-catastrophe #Arménie #histoire #logement #réfugiés_environnementaux #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières

  • The Kaiser goes : the generals remain - Theodor Plivier
    https://libcom.org/history/kaiser-goes-generals-remain-theodor-plivier-1932

    Text entier en anglais : https://libcom.org/files/TheKaiserGoesTheGeneralsRemain.pdf https://libcom.org/files/TheKaiserGoesTheGeneralsRemain.mobi

    Du même auteur : Stalingrad (1945), Moskau (1952), Berlin (1954), une trilogie sur la guerre contre les nazis. Je n’ai pas encore trouvé de version en ligne.

    This is an amazing novel about the German Revolution, written by a participant. Republished here in PDF and Kindle formats.

    I’m republishing a novel about the German Revolution called The Kaiser Goes: the Generals Remain, written by a participant in the naval mutinies which kicked the whole thing off. But the novel doesn’t just concern rebellion in the armed forces, there’s all kinds of other exciting events covered too!

    I first became aware of the novel when I noticed some quotations from it in Working Class Politics in the German Revolution1, Ralf Hoffrogge’s wonderful book about the revolutionary shop stewards’ movement in Germany during and just after World War I.

    I set about finding a copy of The Kaiser goes..., read it, and immediately wanted to make it more widely available by scanning it. The results are here.

    Below I’ve gathered together all the most readily accessible information about the novel’s author, Theodor Plivier, that I can find. Hopefully, the sources referenced will provide a useful basis for anybody who wants to do further research.

    Dan Radnika

    October 2015

    THEODOR Otto Richard PLIVIER – Some biographical details

    Theodor Plivier (called Plievier after 1933) was born on 12 February 1892 in Berlin and died on 12 March 1955 in Tessin, Switzerland.

    Since his death Plivier/Plievier has been mostly known in his native Germany as a novelist, particularly for his trilogy of novels about the fighting on the Eastern Front in WWII, made up of the works Moscow, Stalingrad and Berlin.

    He was the son of an artisan file-maker (Feilenhauer in German) and spent his childhood in the Gesundbrunnen district in Berlin. There is still a plaque dedicated to him on the house where he was born at 29 Wiesenstraße. He was interested in literature from an early age. He began an apprenticeship at 17 with a plasterer and left his family home shortly after. For his apprenticeship he traveled across the German Empire, in Austria-Hungary and in the Netherlands. After briefly returning to his parents, he joined up as a sailor in the merchant navy. He first visited South America in 1910, and worked in the sodium nitrate (saltpetre) mines in 1913 in Chile. This period of his life seems to have provided much of the material for the novel The World’s Last Corner (see below).

    He returned to Germany, Hamburg, in 1914, when he was still only 22. He was arrested by the police for a brawl in a sailors’ pub, and was thus “recruited” into the imperial navy just as the First World War broke out. He spent his time in service on the auxiliary cruiser SMS Wolf, commanded by the famous Commander Karl August Nerger. It was he who led a victorious war of patriotic piracy in the Atlantic, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, seizing enemy ships and their cargo, taking their crews prisoner, and returning in glory to Kiel in February 1918. The activities of SMS Wolf are described in fictional form in the final chapter of Plivier’s The Kaiser’s Coolies (see below). The young Plivier didn’t set foot on land for 451 days, but while at sea he became converted to revolutionary ideas, like thousands of other German sailors. Nevertheless, he never joined a political party. In November 1918, he was in Wilhelmshaven and participated in the strikes, uprisings and revolts accompanying the fall of the German Empire, including the Kiel Mutiny. He also played a small role in the November Revolution in Berlin.

    He left the navy after the armistice (11 November 1918) and, with Karl Raichle and Gregor Gog (both sailor veterans of the Wilmhelmshaven revolt), founded the “Green Way Commune”, near Bad Urach. It was a sort of commune of revolutionaries, artists, poets, proto-hippies, and whoever turned up. Two early participants were the anarchist Erich Mühsam and Johannes Becher (see below), who was a member of the German Communist Party (KPD). At this time several communes were set up around Germany, with Urach being one of three vegetarian communes set up in the Swabia region2.

    It was the beginning of the anarchist-oriented “Edition of the 12” publishing house. Plivier was certainly influenced by the ideas of Bakunin, but also Nietzsche. Later he took on some kind of “individualist anarchism”, ensuring that he didn’t join any party or formal political organisation.

    In Berlin in 1920 he married the actress Maria Stoz3. He belonged to the circle of friends of Käthe Kollwitz4, the radical painter and sculptor, who painted his portrait. On Christmas Day 1920 he showed a delegation from the American IWW to the grave of Karl Liebknecht5. In the early ‘20s he seems to have associated with the anarcho-syndicalist union, the FAUD (Free Workers’ Union of Germany), and addressed its public meetings6.

    Plivier underwent a “personal crisis” and began to follow the example of the “back to nature” poet Gusto Gräser7, another regular resident of “Green Way” and a man seen as the leading figure in the subculture of poets and wandering mystics known (disparagingly at the time) as the “Inflation Saints” (Inflationsheilige)8. In the words of the historian Ulrich Linse, “When the revolutionaries were killed, were in prison or had given up, the hour of the wandering prophets came. As the outer revolution had fizzled out, they found its continuation in the consciousness-being-revolution, in a spiritual change”9. Plivier began wearing sandals and robes…10 According to the Mountain of Truth book (see footnote), in 1922, in Weimar, Plivier was preaching a neo-Tolstoyan gospel of peace and anarchism, much influenced by Gräser. That year he published Anarchy, advocating a “masterless order, built up out of the moral power of free individuals”. Supposedly, “he was a religious anarchist, frequently quoting from the Bible”11. This was not unusual amongst the Inflationsheilige.

    His son Peter and his daughter Thora died from malnutrition during the terrible times of crisis and hyper-inflation in 1923. A year later he began to find work as a journalist and translator. He then worked for some time in South America as a cattle trader and as secretary to the German consul in Pisagua, Chile. On his return to Germany he wrote Des Kaisers Kulis (“The Kaiser’s Coolies”) in 1929, which was published the following year. It was a story based on his days in the Imperial Navy, denouncing the imperialist war in no uncertain terms. At the front of the book is a dedication to two sailors who were executed for participation in a strike and demonstration by hundreds of sailors from the Prinzregent Luitpold12. Erwin Piscator put on a play of his novel at the Lessingtheater in Berlin, with the first showing on 30 August 1930. Der Kaiser ging, die Generälen blieben (“The Kaiser Goes: The Generals Remain”) was published in 1932. In both novels Plivier did an enormous amount of research, as well as drawing on his own memories of important historical events. In the original edition of Der Kaiser ging… there is a citations section at the end with fifty book titles and a list of newspapers and magazines consulted. This attention to historical fact was to become a hallmark of Plivier’s method as a novelist. The postscript to Der Kaiser ging… clearly states what he was trying to do:

    “I have cast this history in the form of a novel, because it is my belief that events which are brought about not by any exchange of diplomatic notes, but by the sudden collision of opposed forces, do not lend themselves to a purely scientific treatment. By that method one can merely assemble a selection of facts belonging to any particular period – only artistic re-fashioning can yield a living picture of the whole. As in my former book, The Kaiser’s Coolies, so I have tried here to preserve strict historic truth, and in so far as exact material was available I have used it as the basis of my work. All the events described, all the persons introduced, are drawn to the life and their words reproduced verbatim. Occasional statements which the sources preserve only in indirect speech are here given direct form. But in no instance has the sense been altered.”

    His second marriage (which didn’t produce any children) was to the Jewish actress Hildegard Piscator in 1931. When Hitler came to power as Chancellor in 1933, his books were banned and publically burnt. He changed his name to Plievier. That year he decided to emigrate, and at the end of a long journey which led him to Prague, Zurich, Paris and Oslo, he ended up in the Soviet Union.

    He was initially not subject to much censorship in Moscow and published accounts of his adventures and political commentaries. When Operation Barbarossa was launched he was evacuated to Tashkent along with other foreigners. Here, for example, he met up (again?) with Johannes Robert Becher, the future Culture Minister of the DDR! In September 1943 he became a member of the National Committee for a Free Germany (NKFD), which gathered anti-Nazi German exiles living in the USSR – not just Communist Party members, although there were a fair number of them involved. In 1945 he wrote Stalingrad, based on testimonies which he collected, with official permission, from German prisoners of war in camps around Moscow. This novel was initially published in occupied Berlin and Mexico, but ended up being translated into 14 languages and being adapted for the theatre and TV13. It describes in unflinching and pitiless detail the German military defeat and its roots in the megalomania of Hitler and the incompetence of the High Command. It is the only novel by Plievier that was written specifically as a work of state propaganda. It is certainly “defeatist”, but only on the German side – it is certainly not “revolutionary defeatist” like Plievier’s writings about WWI. The French writer Pierre Vaydat (in the French-language magazine of German culture, Germanica14) even suggests that it was clearly aimed at “the new military class which was the officer corps of the Wehrmacht” in an effort to encourage them to rise up against Hitler and save the honour of the German military. The novel nevertheless only appeared in a censored form in the USSR.

    He returned to Weimar at the end of 1945, as an official of the Red Army! For two years he worked as a delegate of the regional assembly, as director of publications and had a leading position in the “Cultural Association [Kulturbund] for German Democratic Renewal” which was a Soviet organisation devoted to changing attitudes in Germany and preparing its inclusion into the USSR’s economic and political empire. As with so much else in Plievier’s life, this episode was partly fictionalised in a novel, in this case his last ever novel, Berlin.

    Plievier ended up breaking with the Soviet system in 1948, and made an announcement to this effect to a gathering of German writers in Frankfurt in May of that year15. However, Plievier had taken a long and tortuous political path since his days as a revolutionary sailor in 1918… He clearly ended up supporting the Cold War – seeing the struggle against “Communist” totalitarianism as a continuation of the struggle against fascism (logically enough). What’s more, his views had taken on a somewhat religious tinge, talking of a “spiritual rebirth” whose foundations “begin with the Ten Commandments from Mount Sinai and end with the theses of the Atlantic Charter”! Although it can be read as a denunciation of the horrors of war in general, it’s clear that Berlin, his description of the collapse of Nazi Germany in 1945, is far more of a denunciation of Soviet Russia than anything else. The character Colonel Zecke, obviously a mouthpiece for Plievier’s views, even claims that Churchill and Roosevelt only bombed Dresden because they wanted to please Stalin. If you say so, Theo…! One virtue of Plievier’s single-minded attack on the Russian side is that he draws attention to the mass rape of German women by Russian soldiers. This was a war crime which it was not at all fashionable to mention at the time he was writing, despite the existence of perhaps as many as two million victims16.

    Berlin ends with one of the recurring characters in Plievier’s war novels being killed while participating in the East German worker’s revolt in 195317. Despite his conservative turn, Plievier obviously still has some of the spirit of Wilhelmshaven and can’t restrain himself from giving the rebellious workers some advice about how to organise a proletarian insurrection – seize the means of production! Another character says:

    “What use was it raising one’s fists against tanks, fighting with the Vopos [Volkspolizei – People’s Police], trampling down propaganda posters – one has to get into the vital works, to get busy at the waterworks, the power stations, the metropolitan railway! But the workers are without organisation, without leadership or a plan –the revolt has broken out like a steppes fire and is flickering away uncoordinated, in all directions at once.”

    He went to live in the British Zone of Occupation. He got married for a third time, in 1950, to Margarete Grote, and went to live next to Lake Constance. He published Moscow (Moskau) in 1952 and Berlin in 1954. He moved to Tessin in Switzerland in 1953, and died from a heart attack there in 1955, at the age of 63.

    His works – particularly the pro-revolutionary ones – are almost unknown in the English-speaking world (or anywhere else) today. The republication of The Kaiser Goes: The Generals Remain in electronic form is a modest attempt to remedy this!

    Finally, please read Plivier’s novels! Even the reactionary ones…

    #Allemagne #histoire #révolution #littérature

  • Communisme, Stalinisme, Socialisme, Fascisme, Collectivisme, Anarchisme

    Une fois n’est pas coûtume, je vais reproduire l’essentiel d’un débat qui s’est déroulé sur l’excellente liste de diffusion de géographie critique (dite liste des « crits »).

    From Dr Hillary J. Shaw
    Visiting Fellow - Centre for Urban Research on Austerity
    Department of Politics and Public Policy
    De Montfort University

    The problem with books is once you read them you can’t un-read them.

    European politics and history in the 20 C starts to look a little different once you read Hayek, F A (1971) The Road To Serfdom, Routledge, London UK From the first few pages of this book, "...Stalinism was described even by a friend of Lenin as ‘superfascist’, ‘more ruthless than fascism’, with similar opinions being expressed by British politician Chamberlain, and by British writer Mr F A Vogt (Hayek, 1971: 20-1). The vicious fighting in 1920s Europe between Fascists and Communists was precisely because ‘they competed for the support of the same type of mind and reserved for each other the hatred of the heretic’ (Hayek, 1971: 22). One thing that all Collectivists share is intolerance for any dissenting, therefore threatening, opinions, rather like the strong religious factions of 16 century Europe..."

    Communism - http://fooddeserts.org/images/000Russia.htm
    WW2 - http://fooddeserts.org/images/050FraGermany.htm

    Un certain Reed (pas d’autres infos) répond :

    One thing that all Collectivists share is intolerance for any dissenting, therefore threatening, opinions... Then, One thing that all vulgar individualists share is a perfectly immoral disregard for mutual obligations... I’d say capitalism — marked as it is by market imperatives rather than opportunities — `is “collectivist” in the extreme, which is probably related to its tendency to decay into fascism.

    I also find it interesting that the anti-fascism of partisans is, in your formulation, pitched as a Bad Thing. Meanwhile, the inertia (or complicity) of liberals goes unmentioned.

    But, sure, the uses of Hayek are endless, as every anti-democratic and reactionary movement in the U.S. has thoroughly demonstrated, especially the anarcho-capitalist types who (surprise!) fly their black and yellow flags at the same rallies where the Klansmen and neo-nazis gather to cheerlead genocide.

    Hillary J. Shaw again en réponse :

    1) yes, capitalism, especially when globalised, can easily become ’Collectivist’, Totalitarian, even., Renarkably, even Adam Smith, way back in 1755, spoke of this tendency. And look now at the oligopolies we have in e.g. supermarkets, banking.

    2) Collectivism, generally, DOES demand uniformity of opinion - that’s almost a circular tautology. Can you give any major examples where it hasn’t - I’d love to know. And it was Hayek who used the term ’Collectivist’ for both Stalinism and 1940s fascism, by the way, not me.

    3) I said nothing about anti-fascism of partisans here, such ’partisans’ are often Communist in ideology, but may be ’anarchist’ leaning (although anarchism has often evolved into a very Collectivist socialism, ironically). As fighters against Naziism in the 1940s, they wree a great thing, as was anything that helped end Hitler’s tyranny and WW2.

    4) On this Hayekian analysis, the Klansmen, as neo-nazis, would be portrayed as Collectivist too - so if you percieve me as anti-Collectivist 9and I am no admirer of Stalin), then I must be (and indeed am) anti Klansmen too.

    Yes Hayek can be ’used for many things’ - but doesn’t that apply to almost all significant researchers, academics, in the social sciences and indeed beyond? Including for sure Marx, and probably Aadam Smith too. Does that mean we should ditch them, and the rest of these thinkers too?

    Noel Cass, de l’université de Lancaster :

    “anarchism has often evolved into a very Collectivist socialism, ironically”

    – just, no, Hilary.

    After socialist revolutions, anarchism has been crushed by authoritarian socialists. Please desist from sweeping political generalisations that just get up people’s noses.

    Hillary J. Shaw répond :

    Well yes and no. Only Wikipedia but seems to be broadly correct here

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarchism

    While opposition to the state is central,[16] anarchism specifically entails opposing authority or hierarchical organisation in the conduct of all human relations.[17][18][19] Anarchism is usually considered a far-left ideology[20][21][22] and much of anarchist economics and anarchist legal philosophy reflects anti-authoritarian interpretations of communism, collectivism, syndicalism, mutualism, or participatory economics.

    However....
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarchism#Spanish_Revolution

    In response to the army rebellion, an anarchist-inspired movement of peasants and workers, supported by armed militias, took control of Barcelona and of large areas of rural Spain where they collectivised the land.[128] However, the anarchists were losing ground even before the fascist victory in 1939 in a bitter struggle with the Stalinists, who controlled much of the distribution of military aid to the Republicans cause from the Soviet Union. According to Noam Chomsky, "the communists were mainly responsible for the destruction of the Spanish anarchists. Not just in Catalonia—the communist armies mainly destroyed the collectives elsewhere. The communists basically acted as the police force of the security system of the Republic and were very much opposed to the anarchists, partially because Stalin still hoped at that time to have some kind of pact with Western countries against Adolf Hitler

    My point in the whole of this is that the Left is a very complex concept that can range from being as totalitarian as some fascist regimes (e.g in the case of Stalin) right through to more idealistic schemes that promote individual flourishing (e.g. some anarchists) - however those who create the latter such schemes, however well-meaning, must beware they do not lapse/evolve into/get taken over by the more collectivist / dictatorial ones.

    Antony Ince, géographe de l’université de Cardiff :

    First of all, Hillary, you are very nearly correct when you point out the Spanish Civil War. There was a faction among the anarchists who believed that it would be strategically useful to participate in the Republican government in order to enhance their influence, especially in the anti-fascist regions where they were less powerful.

    However, this did not necessarily involve a change of ideology; it was an effort - a flawed one, admittedly, spurred on by concerns of war - to instrumentally use state institutions to further the anarchist cause. As it happened, it didn’t end well.

    Second, I would like to emphasise that “collectivism” is not a singular term and is not owned by totalitarianisms such as Stalinism et al. To begin, fascism’s conception of collectivism is one of national unity, a cross-class alliance in the supposed interest of national ’renewal’ or ’renaissance’ that is only collective in the sense that a powerful central state is in control of the polity, and which often features some very crude forms of nationalisation. Soviet collectivism operates functionally in a similar way (as predicted by the anarchists long before 1917!), although its goal is oriented towards the elimination of class relations.

    Of course, in practice, it simply created a new class structure by occupying the same state institutions and relations of production as the old order and failing to eliminate capital when it had the chance.

    With regards to anarchism and collectivism, the story is different again. Aside from some streams of exclusively individualist anarchism influenced by the likes of Max Stirner, anarchism is more accurately described as “anarchist-communism”. It is a left-libertarian form of collectivism that seeks to respect individual agency while also promoting the virtues of co-operation (sometimes referred to as ’free association’).

    There are many examples of this, such as the regions controlled by the CNT in civil war Spain, the vast regions of Ukraine voluntarily collectivised along anarchist lines by the Makhnovists during the Russian revolution, and more recently the principles on which the Rojava region in Syria is managed. (Of course, there are the Zapatistas too, but interestingly it turns out that their form of agrarian anarchism emerged from libertarian Marxist ideas in the early 1980s). Anyway, for the most part, anarchist experiments have tended to end not by a drift towards authoritarianism but by annihilation at the hands of authoritarians.

    In Spain, of course the fascists were largely to blame, but also the USSR-backed Communist Party saw the anarchists as a greater threat to their prospects than Franco; for the Makhnovists, it was Trotsky’s Red Armies who ended their voluntary collectivism in the Ukrainian countryside. In Rojava, if their Bookchin-inspired libertarian municipalism doesn’t survive (which I sincerely hope it does!), it is likely to be at the hands of the proto-fascist Turkish state.

    So, let’s be a little more nuanced with the notion of ’collectivism’, what it means, and what values and organisational logics it embodies. There are multiple collectivisms, and they operate along as much an axis of authoritarian-libertarian as left-right.

    Noel Cass dans un dernier élan :

    I was tempted to shout “Remember Kronstadt!”, lob a grenade, and duck !!

  • #Fridtjof_Nansen, WWI, and the Beginning of the Modern Refugee Regime

    This week–on November 11–marked the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I. In terms of refugee law, the Great War is usually eclipsed by WWII, which gave rise to the Refugee Convention (in 1951). The Convention forms the basis for our international and domestic humanitarian law up until today.

    But the First World War was also foundational to our current refugee regime, and so it’s too bad that WWI developments in refugee law get short shrift. Upwards of 10 million people were displaced by the War and the subsequent rise of the Soviet Union. Many would never return home and would permanently resettle in other countries. This mass movement of civilians led to political, cultural, and social changes, and predictably, to a backlash against refugees (as a security, economic, and health threat) that sounds all-too familiar today.

    Probably the most prominent figure in post-WWI refugee resettlement was a Norwegian wunderkind named Fridtjof Nansen. Mr. Nansen was born in 1861. He was a record-breaking skater and skier. He studied zoology in university, and went on to become a world famous artic explorer. In 1888, he led the first expedition to cross Greenland, and in 1895, he came within 4 degrees of the North Pole, the furthest north anyone had traveled to date. After his career in the Artic, he turned to science, where he made important contributions to the fields of neurology and oceanography. Mr. Nansen served as a diplomat and advocated for separation of Norway and Sweden (which had been united since 1814). Norway became independent in 1905.

    Norway was neutral during the First World War, and during those years, Mr. Nansen was involved in organizing his nation’s defense. In 1917, he was dispatched to Washington, where he negotiated a deal to help alleviate a severe food shortage in his country.

    After World War I, Mr. Nansen successfully helped advocate for Norway’s involvement in the League of Nations, and he served as a delegate to that body. He became involved in the repatriation of prisoners of war, and between 1920 and 1922, led the effort to resettle over 400,000 POWs in 30 different countries. In 1921, Mr. Nansen became the League’s High Commissioner for Refugees and helped resettle two million Russians displaced by the revolution. At the same time, he was working to relieve a massive famine in Russia, but had trouble securing international aid (due largely to suspicion of the new Marxist government). He also assisted Armenian refugees after the genocide there, and devised a controversial population exchange between Turkey and Greece, which resolved a Greek refugee crisis, but also resulted in the expulsion (with compensation) of Turks from Greece.

    Mr. Nansen created the “Nansen” passports in 1922, a document that allowed stateless people to travel legally across borders. By WWII, 52 nations recognized the passport as a legal travel document. Nansen passports were originally created to help refugees from the Russian civil war, but over 20 years, they were used by more than 450,000 individuals from various countries (including a number of well-known figures, such as Marc Chagall, Aristotle Onassis, G.I. Gurdjiieff, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, and Igor Stravinsky). The passports served as a foundation for a clearly-defined legal status for refugees, and some scholars consider the creation of the Nansen passports as the beginning of international refugee law.

    In 1922, Mr. Nansen was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel Committee cited “his work for the repatriation of the prisoners of war, his work for the Russian refugees, his work to bring succour to the millions of Russians afflicted by famine, and finally his present work for the refugees in Asia Minor and Thrace.”

    Mr. Nansen continued his involvement in the League of Nations through the 1920s, and he flirted with Norwegian politics, though he seems to have no major ambitions in that direction. In 1926, Mr. Nansen came up with a legal definition for refugees from Russia and Armenia, and his definition was adopted by several dozen nations. This marked the first time that the term “refugee” was defined in international law, and it helped set the stage for later legal developments in the area of refugee protection.

    Fridtjof Nansen died on May 3, 1930. After his death, a fellow delegate from the League of Nations eulogized, “Every good cause had his support. He was a fearless peacemaker, a friend of justice, an advocate always for the weak and suffering.”

    Even after his death, Mr. Nansen’s work continued. The League of Nations established the Nansen International Office for Refugees, which helped resettle tens of thousands of refugees during the inter-War years. The Nansen Office was also instrumental in establishing the Refugee Convention of 1933 (now, largely forgotten), the first international, multilateral treaty offering legal protection to refugees and granting them certain civic and economic rights. The 1933 Convention also established the principle of “non-refoulement,” the idea that nations cannot return individuals to countries where they face persecution. To this day, non-refoulement is a key concept of international (and U.S.) refugee law. For all this work, the Nansen Office was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1938.

    Fridtjof Nansen’s legacy lives on in many ways. There are geographic features named after him in the Artic, Antarctic, and various places around the globe. In space, there is a crater on the moon named in his honor, as well as an asteroid. The oldest ski club in the United States is named for Mr. Nansen, and there is a species of fish that bears his name (Nansenia). A museum in Armenia documents his scientific and humanitarian achievements. And each year, the United Nations bestows the Nansen Refugee Award on an individual or organization that has assisted refugees, displaced or stateless people. For me, though, Mr. Nansen’s most enduring achievement is his pioneering work to help establish international refugee law, a legal regime which protects us all.


    http://www.asylumist.com/2018/11/13/fridtjof-nansen-wwi-and-the-beginning-of-the-modern-refugee-regime
    #Nansen #asile #réfugiés #histoire

  • Felicia Langer. Remembering Israel’s human rights law trailblazer, a Holocaust survivor who called to boycott Israeli products

    A communist labeled ’the terrorists’ attorney,’ Felicia Langer called her clients ‘resistance fighters.’ In 1990 she gave up and left for Germany, where she died over the summer

    Ofer Aderet SendSend me email alerts
    Nov 06, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-remembering-israel-s-human-rights-law-trailblazer-1.6632132

    After the Six-Day War, attorney Felicia Langer opened an office near the Old City in Jerusalem and began representing Arabs. Langer was a strange type in the local topography: a Jewish Holocaust survivor with a Polish accent who adhered to European manners and believed in the ideology of communism.
    “Her engagement with Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip was perhaps the strangest thing in the Middle East,” wrote attorney Michael Sfard. Her acquaintances saw in her a pathfinder in legal battles that advanced the human rights of Palestinians. Her enemies saw in her a traitor and accessory of terrorists.
    >> Holocaust survivor and Palestinians’ rights lawyer Felicia Langer dies in exile at 87
    She was born in the city of Tarnov, Poland in 1930 as Felicia Amalia White. In World War II she fled with her family to the Soviet Union, where her father died. After the war, she returned to the land of her birth and married Holocaust survivor Moshe Langer. In 1950 they immigrated to Israel – “not because of Zionist ideology,” according to her, but to live near her mother.
    Archival documents attest to the tense relationships between her and the Israeli establishment. In 1968 an intelligence officer in the military government in Hebron testified before the Legal Attaché of the West Bank that she “held extreme left-wing opinions.” In 1975, the Foreign Ministry reported that the Shin Bet security service viewed her legal activities as being guided by political motivations to harm “the state and the image of the state.” She faced threats to her life throughout her career. Occasionally, she felt compelled to hire a bodyguard.
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    Langer fought the expulsion of Palestinian leaders, housing demolitions of terror suspects, administrative detentions (imprisonment without charges), and torture. “She never hesitated to accuse the establishment of crimes and to represent her clients as victims of an evil regime,” wrote Sfard.

    When they called her “the defense attorney of terrorists,” she replied that her clients were not terrorists, but “resistance fighters.” “A people under occupation has the right to wage violent struggle,” she said. Among her famous clients was the mayor of Nablus, Bassam Shakaa, one of the leaders of resistance to the occupation, whose expulsion Langer succeeded in preventing. Other clients included the parents of the attackers of Bus 300, who sought to sue the state for killing their sons, and a young Dutch woman who was detained at Ben-Gurion International Airport after she gathered intelligence for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Langer maintained that she was just a “small cog.”
    In 1990, she immigrated to Germany, after handling what she estimated to have been 3,000 cases. “I could no longer help the Palestinian victims in the framework of the existing legal system and its flouting of international law, which is supposed to protect the people that I defended,” she said in an interview with Eran Torbiner. “It is forbidden to be silent; silence also can kill,” she said, in explaining her call for the boycott of Israeli goods. As a German citizen, she called on Germany to fight the occupation.
    Langer lived in Tübingen, teaching and writing books. Critics were angered by her comparison of Israel to the Nazis, and accused her of hypocrisy for ignoring the crimes of communist regimes. When she was asked once to describe her “love of homeland,” she answered: “Hatred of occupation.” In June, Langer died of cancer at age 87.

    Ofer Aderet
    Haaretz Correspondent

  • Russia’s only aircraft carrier damaged after crane falls on it | Reuters
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-military-ship/russias-only-aircraft-carrier-damaged-after-crane-falls-on-it-idUSKCN1N410U

    Russia’s only aircraft carrier was damaged while undergoing repairs in the north of the country after the floating dock holding it sank in the early hours of Tuesday and a crane crashed onto its deck, tearing a gash up to 5 meters wide.

    The Admiral Kuznetsov has seen action in Russia’s military campaign in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad with its planes carrying out air strikes against rebel forces.

    It was being overhauled on one of the world’s biggest floating docks in the icy waters of the Kola Bay near Murmansk close to where Russia’s Northern Fleet is based and was due to go back into service in 2021.

    Maria Kovtun, Murmansk’s governor, said in a statement that a rescue operation had been launched and 71 people evacuated after the floating dock holding the ship had begun to sink.

    The warship had been successfully extracted from the dock before it completely sank, she said.

    • Russian officials: Nope, we can’t finish fixing the carrier Kuznetsov | Ars Technica
      https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2018/11/russian-officials-nope-we-cant-finish-fixing-the-carrier-kuznetsov


      MURMANSK, RUSSIA - Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov at the PD-50 floating dry dock of Shipyard 82.

      Russian officials have now acknowledged that the October 29 accident involving Russia’s only aircraft carrier and largest floating dry dock has made continuing the refit of the ship impossible. The dry dock, the PD-50, was the only one available capable of accommodating the 55,000 ton Admiral Kuznetsov. As a result, the completion of the refit of the ship is now delayed indefinitely.

      The PD-50, built by a Swedish shipyard in 1980 for the Soviet Union, sank in an uncontrolled “launch” of the Kuznetsov and came to rest on the sloping bottom of the harbor at Murmansk. Two cranes collapsed during the sinking, with one crashing onto the Kuznetsov and leaving a large gash in its hull. And recovering and repairing the PD-50 could take as long as a year.

      We have alternatives actually for all the ships except for Admiral Kuznetsov,” United Ship-Building Corporation Chief Executive Alexei Rakhmanov told TASS. But the loss of the PD-50 dock “creates certain inconveniences” for future repairs on large capital ships, he acknowledged. “We hope that the issue of the docking of first-rank ships will be resolved in the near future. We are also preparing several alternatives, about which we will report to the Industry and Trade Ministry,” Rakhmanov said.

  • Premature Postcolonialists: the Afro-Asian Writers Association and Soviet Engagement with Africa | Lefteast
    http://www.criticatac.ro/lefteast/premature-postcolonialists-the-afro-asian-writers-association-and-soviet-

    In October 1958, over two hundred writers from Asia and the emerging African nations descended onto Tashkent, the capital of the Soviet Republic of Uzbekistan. Among the participants was W. E. B. Du Bois, who at age 90 had just flown in from Moscow (where he persuaded Nikita Khrushchev to found an Institute for the Study of Africa). Alongside leading Soviet writers and cultural bureaucrats, some of the major figures of the 1930s literary left outside of Europe or the Americas were in attendance: the Turkish modernist poet Nazim Hikmet and his Pakistani counterpart Faiz Ahmad Faiz, the Chinese novelist Mao Dun and Mulk Raj Anand. Though poorly known at the time, some of the younger delegates at that meeting would go on to become the leading literary figures of their countries: the Senegalese novelist-cum-filmmaker Sembene Ousmane, the Indonesian writer Pramoedya Toer, the poet and founder of Angola’s Communist Party Mario Pinto de Andrade, and the Mozambican poet and FRELIMO politician Marcelino dos Santos. By all accounts, Tashkent impressed visitors with its mixture of Western modernity and familiar “eastern-ness,”—an effect carefully curated by the Soviet hosts who sought to make it a showcase city for Third-World delegations.

    The gathering that brought all these writers together—the inaugural congress of what would later become known as the Afro-Asian Writers Association—represented the literary front of the Soviet Union’s return to the colonial question after a two-decade-long lapse. The Stalinist state’s geopolitical zigzags and the rumors, confirmed in Khrushchev’s 1956 Secret Speech, of oppressive practices at home had considerably dimmed the flame of the Russian Revolution by the mid-1950s. African and Asian intellectuals’ doubts over the Soviet state’s emancipatory promises were now partly made up by the resources of a world super-power, which interwar Soviet anti-imperialism had lacked. These resources exercised a powerful, if ambiguous, effect on black political life worldwide, resulting, on the one hand, in devastating proxy wars in Angola and Mozambique and, on the other, fueling emancipatory struggles against apartheid in South Africa and Jim Crowe in the US.1

    This article will be particularly interested in the cultural consequences of the Soviet engagement with the postcolonial world, namely, in its effect on African letters. As a heir to the literature-centrism of the revolutionary Russian intelligentsia of the late nineteenth century, the Soviet state, down to its very bureaucracy, believed in the capacity of literature to transform society and invested heavily in literary engagements even with societies very different from its own. By the reciprocal logic of the Cold War, the U.S. State Department and CIA, institutions not known as patrons of literature before or after the Cold War had to match those investments. The real beneficiaries of this competition were African writers, interest in whose work significantly increased, as well as readers in the first, second, and third worlds, who were given greater access to those writers.

  • Trentino and Yugoslavia narrated through a legend: roots of Marshal Josip Broz #Tito in #Vallarsa

    In Trentino there is a valley where the surname Broz is widely diffused. During the second half of the 20th century, a peculiar legend took shape among these mountains. We are in Vallarsa, a few kilometers from the town of Rovereto, where – according to many locals – the origins of Josip Broz, that history will remember as Tito, are to be found. The Yugoslav Marshal was one of the most peculiar and controversial figures of the 20th century: Partisan leader, head of the communist state that split with the Soviet Union, a prominent figure on the international political scene and, above all, leader and symbol of a country that disintegrated violently shortly after his death. The relationship between Marshal Tito and the Vallarsa Valley is being talked about for some time, and not only in Trentino, so that the page dedicated to Tito on the Italian Wikipedia refers to him as “the seventh of fifteen children of Franjo, a Croat who probably originated from Vallarsa”.
    A legend from Obra

    The story originates in the area around the village of Obra, in the Vallarsa Valley, where there is a small settlement called Brozzi. It is said that the Broz surname has been present in the area for centuries. Transmitted orally, the legend spread and evolved over time, assuming different shapes and contours. There is however a version which is more or less codified. It is narrated that a family of the future Yugoslav president lived in a place called Maso Geche, a bit isolated from Obra and nearby settlements. Valentino Broz, “Tito’s grandfather”, took over an old house, transforming it in a family cottage. Valentino had four children. One of them died at a tender age, while Ferdinando, Giuseppe and Vigilio started contributing to the household by working in the fields and as lumberjacks, integrating these activities, as much as possible, with other occasional jobs. Just like for all the other families in that area, emigration was always an option.

    Parochial registers confirm the structure of Valentino Broz’s family. What we learn from memories passed down through the generations is that Giuseppe (according to archives, Giuseppe Filippo Broz, born on August 29, 1853) and Ferdinando (Luigi Ferdinando Broz, born on April 13, 1848) – or, according to other versions of the story, Vigilio (Vigilio Andrea Broz, born on November 27, 1843) – emigrated from Vallarsa to Croatia between the 1870s and the 1880s, most probably in 1878 or 1879. At that time, both territories were part of Austria-Hungary, and in those years many people from Trentino emigrated in the eastern parts of the monarchy. The story of foundation of the village of Štivor, in Bosnia Herzegovina, is probably the best known. According to legend, the Broz brothers were driven to emigrate by the possibility of being engaged in the construction of railway Vienna-Zagreb-Belgrade. Indeed, in those years a new railway line, connecting Bosanski Brod to Sarajevo, was under construction. The first portion was completed in February 1879, and the last one in October 1882.

    Some time later, Ferdinando (or Vigilio) returned to Vallarsa, while Giuseppe married a Slovenian girl, and in 1892 they gave birth to Josip Broz, who became known to the whole world as Tito. The news about Giuseppes’s fate reached the valley, mainly thanks to the information his brother brought home.
    Tito between history and conspiracy

    The legend from Vallarsa is not an isolated case. Since the end of the Second World War in Yugoslavia, but not only, speculations began circulating that Tito might have (had) Russian, Polish, Austrian or Jewish roots. His life, marked from a young age by participation in illegal activities of the Communist Party, sudden movings and use of false names, offered an ideal breeding ground for speculations and conspiracy theories. The doubts about Tito’s true identity, particularly diffused during the 1990s, recently have been reactualized due to publication of declassified CIA document that puts in doubt Tito’s knowledge of the Serbo-Croatian language.

    Apart from dozens of newspaper articles and many publicistic texts, the question of Tito’s origins has never been the subject of proper historiographic research. None of the scholars who seriously occupy themselves with history of Yugoslavia has ever shown any particular interest in this issue. Even the most recent Tito’s biographies, written by world-renowned historians such as Geoffrey Swain and Jože Pirjevec, don’t contain any reference to different theories about his origins, only a traditional version whereby Tito was the son of Franjo Broz, a Croat from Kumrovec in Zagorje, and Marija Javeršek, originally from village of Podreda, in Slovenia. The only partial exception is represented by considerations made by Vladimir Dedijer in his monumental biography of Tito, published in 1981. A former member of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, sacked at the time of the Affaire Djilas, becoming a professional historian, in his book Dedijer attempts to refute speculations about Tito’s origins, reinvigorated after his death in May 1980.
    The birth and life of a legend

    In attempting to clarify the question, Vladimir Dedijer also makes reference to the Trentine case which, few months earlier, has been reactualized in Italy in an article appeared in the weekly Gente. The article has been published few days after Tito’s death, relying on a story transmitted orally over the years, according to some since the end of the Second World War, when the name of Josip Broz began to appear in the newspapers around the world. In addition to photos of the Vallarsa Valley and Maso Geche, the article contained statements of descendants of the family of Valentino Broz. Don Giuseppe Rippa, the then parson of Vallarsa, played an important role in defining the contours of the story, contributing to a process of consolidation of its credibility.

    It is possible that Vladimir Dedijer has come to know about the Trentin legend thanks to attention given to it in the newspapers of the Italian minority in Yugoslavia. Shortly after the publication of the above mentioned article on the weekly Gente, the weekly newspaper Panorama from Rijeka started showing interest in the story, sending a crew to Vallarsa to find out more details. After talking to Don Rippa and some other local personalities, such as writer Sandra Frizzera, and studying parish registers, journalists from Rijeka have come to a conclusion that there was no evidence of a relationship between Trentin and Yugoslav Brozes. Vladimir Dedijer reacted by publishing Tito’s family tree, compiled by Andrija Lukinović, archivist from the Historical Archive of Zagreb [now called the Croatian State Archive], on the basis of preserved parish registers. Using available data, Lukinović reconstructed the paternal-line geneaology of the Broz family from the beginning of the 17th century, when parish registers were started in Kumrovec. As far as the previous period is concerned, Dedijer remains cautious, nevertheless quoting different sayings whereby the Broz family originated in Bosnia, Herzegovina, Spain, Istria, France or even Italy. In any case, we are talking about the possible settlement in Zagorje more than four centuries ago.

    However, these information have not reached Trentino, where a word began to spread that in the whole Yugoslavia there have been no trace of the Broz surname. The descendents of the family of Valentino Broz continued releasing interviews, telling family stories and anecdotes. Also, it is narrated that representatives of Yugoslav government came to Obra, maybe even Tito himself. Many newspaper articles and reportage talked about physiognomic proximity, claiming that the Trentin Brozes bore a “remarkable resemblance” to Yugoslav leader.

    In 1984 it was decided to create a commission, as part of “The Popular Committee of Obra di Vallarsa”, composed of historians, journalists and the then major, with the aim of clarifying the question through meticulous researches and investigations. However, no definite answer nor concrete evidence has been reached. Did Tito have Trentin origins or not? Over the years, the same information continued to circulate, but the story became gradually consolidated.

    In the same period, the credibility of the story has been publicly recognized by some prominent personalities, such as politician Flaminio Piccoli, who has stated, on the occasion of a congress held in Rome in 1991, that Tito’s ancestors were from Trentino. Representative of the Italian Christian Democratic party (DC) in Trentino at the time, Piccoli asserted that he had “great respect” for Marshal Tito, because “his great grandfather was Trentin, originally from the region around Rovereto”. The story changes again – it was not Tito’s father, but rather his great grandfather who was from Trentino – but it is told by a prominent politician who met Tito personally.

    What also contributed to building credibility of the story were numerous publications dedicated to emigration from Trentino, an issue that, since the 1980s, has attracted increasing interest. Already in 1984, Bonifacio Bolognani – Franciscan friar and scholar originally from Trentino who moved to the United States – mentioned a legend from Obra in his book about emigration from Trentino, published in English. The local writers and historians are those who paid greatest attention to the story: Daniella Stoffella refers to it in her book about emigration from Vallarsa, while Renzo Grosselli mentions it in a study about emigrants from Trentino which is widely read. Remo Bussolon and Aldina Martini revived it in the most important work about the history of Vallarsa. The theory of Tito’s Trentin origins is also being mentioned in different academic essays published in other countries (Frédéric Spagnoli, 2009). We are talking about more or less precise publications, some of which treat the argument with caution, but that, often citing each other, contribute to strengthening the authoritativness of the legend.

    In the meantime, a local section of RAI [Italian public radio and television broadcaster] started to show an interest in the story, relaunching it periodically through tv reports. In 2008, a special program was dedicated to the legend of Obra, and on that occasion journalists from Trentino went to Croatia for the first time to hear the other side of the story. They went to Kumrovec, where they visited the birth house of Yugoslav leader and studied parish registers, trying to learn more about the history of Tito’s family and about his “Croatian father” Franjo Broz. But the question remained: Is it possible that Marija’s marriage with Franjo was her second wedding? Or rather, did she married Franjo after she gave birth to Tito and after Giuseppe Broz died?

    In the summer of 2015, a visit of Tito’s granddaughter Svetlana Broz to Vallarsa, invited to a culture festival to present her book about the Yugoslav wars, becomes the occasion to discuss the issue. Asked during an interview to comment on the theory about Tito’s Trentin roots, Svetlana Broz responded vaguely and compliantly, saying: “That theory is just a theory. I have documentation that proves that my grandfather was born in the Croatian village of Kumrovec, as stated in his official biography. However, I can neither confirm nor deny anything about his ancestors”. In such ambivalent spaces, the legend from Vallarsa continues to live. Narrated and repeated mostly in Trentino, from time to time it arouses the interest of a wider public.
    A story about Trentino and Yugoslavia

    Of all the legends about the origins of the Yugoslav president, the Trentin one is probably most closely related to the history and identity of a local community, unlike the others, often inspired by different conspiracy ideas. It evocates the history of the territory profoundly marked by the migration phenomenon and is paradigmatic of a broader history of emigration from Trentino at the end of the 19th century and of pervasiveness of collective memories in those valleys. Its diffusion beyond the borders of Vallarsa, began in the 1980s, followed a gradual opening-up of Trentino to the international processes and reinforcement of consciousness about its “place in the world”. Above all, it is an integral part of the process of ri-elaboration of the traumatic experience of migration which profoundly marked local community: discovery of illustrious ancestors can help in making a sense of loss.

    At the same time, this legend makes us think about the image socialist Yugoslavia projected abroad, about its perception in Italy and among inhabitants of one of the most remote valleys of Trentino. Considered a hostile country in the post-war period, over the following decades Yugoslavia was increasingly perceived by the Italian public as a close neighbor, so that relationships with the political leadership of socialist country were considered a question of public interest. It is narrated that inhabitants of the Vallarsa Valley had been deeply moved by Tito’s death in May 1980 and that a local parson “had recited the prayer for Josip Broz”. A few years later, when asked for his opinion about Marshal Tito, an inhabitant of the valley pointed out a change of perception: “There is no way to reconcile obscure and bloody events from his early years, ambition, will to power, sectarianism and violence of the first Tito with wise and prudent politician, magnanimous towards his enemies, which was the second Tito”.

    The Trentin roots of Yugoslav Marshal remain a legend. In all those years, no proof has emerged that confirms that Giuseppe Broz, who probably emigrated to Croatia and Bosnia in search of work, was Tito’s real father. On the other hand, the official version of Tito’s biography remains undisputed. But like all legends, regardless of their adherence to reality, the one about “Trentin” Tito immerse us in perceptions, imaginings and memories deposited at the intersection of personal life stories, local vicissitudes and the Great History.


    https://www.balcanicaucaso.org/eng/Areas/Italy/Tito-and-Vallarsa-The-history-of-a-legend-190146

    #histoire #légende #Trentino #Italie #ex-Yougoslavie #Yougoslavie #Obra

    #vidéo:
    https://www.balcanicaucaso.org/eng/Media/Multimedia/Marshal-Tito-and-Vallarsa
    #film

    ping @albertocampiphoto @wizo —> articolo disponibile anche in italiano: https://www.balcanicaucaso.org/aree/Italia/Compa-esano-Tito!-Storia-di-una-leggenda-190146

  • Visit a New Digital Archive of 2.2 Million Images from the First Hundred Years of Photography | Open Culture
    http://www.openculture.com/2017/05/visit-a-new-digital-archive-of-2-2-million-images-from-the-first-hundre

    Interested in photography? You’re in the right place. Over the years, we’ve compiled free classes on digital photography, hundreds of photography lectures, courses on photography appreciation, and documentaries on famous greats like Alfred Stieglitz, Diane Arbus, Edward Weston, and Henri Cartier-Bresson. You can learn the history of photography in “five animated minutes,” see the venerable art of tintype recreated, and visit archives from the Soviet Union, the collection of George Eastman, and the work of pioneering motion photographer Eadweard Muybridge (animated in 93 GIFs).

    Still not enough? How about a digital library of 2.2 million images from the history of photography? Europeana Collections just launched its “latest thematic collection,” Europeana Photography, which, notes Douglas McCarthy at the site’s blog, “includes images and documents from 50 European institutions in 34 different countries.”

    #Domaine_public #Photographie

  • For 11 Years, the Soviet Union Had No Weekends - HISTORY
    https://www.history.com/news/soviet-union-stalin-weekend-labor-policy

    The ordinary seven-day week now had a new bedfellow: the nepreryvka, or “continuous working week.” It was five days long, with days of rest staggered across the week. Now, the Soviet economist and politician Yuri Larin proposed, the machines need never be idle.

    The nepreryvka was supposed to revolutionize the concept of labor, set a match to productivity and make religious worship too troublesome to be worth the effort. But it failed on virtually every count. Adjustments were made and in 1931, the cycle was extended to last six days. After 11 years of trial and error, the project was axed in June, 1940.

  • Israël et ses expatriés : un rapport difficile
    22 septembre 2018 Par La rédaction de Mediapart
    https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/220918/israel-et-ses-expatries-un-rapport-difficile?onglet=full

    Plus de 15 000 Israéliens ont quitté l’État hébreu en 2017. C’est près de 6 300 de plus que d’Israéliens revenant dans le pays. Ce déficit tend certes à s’affaiblir, mais dans un pays qui se veut le refuge des Juifs du monde entier, ces expatriés soulèvent bien des questions en Israël. Le quotidien suisse Neue Zürcher Zeitung publie une enquête sur ce phénomène. Les raisons de partir sont nombreuses : elles peuvent être économiques, liées à la formation ou plus politiques, par rejet de la politique gouvernementale ou par désespoir de voir un jour la paix régner dans la région.

    Beaucoup en Israël estiment que ces départs nuisent à l’image d’un pays qui se veut performant sur le plan économique et à la pointe de la technologie. D’autres critiquent une forme de trahison vis-à-vis du seul État juif, d’autres encore redoutent la fuite des cerveaux. Mais les réactions de la société israélienne face aux expatriés sont complexes et paradoxales. Ainsi, la droite souhaitait accorder le droit de vote aux Israéliens de l’étranger sur leur lieu de résidence, pensant que ces derniers soutiendraient plutôt la politique de Benjamin Netanyahou. La gauche s’y opposait, estimant qu’il était injuste de donner le droit de vote à ceux qui ne subissent pas directement cette politique. Puis, la droite a fait marche arrière devant la crainte de voir les Juifs de gauche étasuniens, par exemple, faire un aliya par correspondance en demandant un passeport sans jamais résider en Israël, et en votant… à gauche.

    En lire plus dans la NZZ : https://www.nzz.ch/international/der-kampf-um-die-abgestiegenen-seelen-ld.1422166

    • nzz.ch, siehe oben

      [...]

      (Die) Bemerkungen lösten in Israel eine riesige Debatte aus. Und starker Tobak ist es fürwahr – auch hippe Israeli in Berlin werden nicht gerne pauschal beschuldigt, ihr Land «wegzuwerfen». Lapid wurde heftig angegriffen, aber in den sozialen Netzwerken ergriffen auch viele Partei für ihn und warfen den Expats Fahnenflucht, mangelnden Patriotismus und Schlimmeres vor. Die Linke schlug zurück und diagnostizierte einen andauernden Exodus, der Ausdruck von Verdruss und Verzweiflung über die dominierende Politik der Rechten sei. Joseph Chamie und Barry Mirkin, zwei amerikanische Wissenschafter, schrieben 2011 in der Zeitschrift «Foreign Policy» einen Artikel mit dem Titel «The Million Missing Israelis» und behaupteten, bis zu eine Million Israeli lebten im Ausland. Das seien rund 13 Prozent, ein für OECD-Länder hoher Wert. 1980 hätten lediglich 270 000 Israeli im Ausland gelebt.

      [...]

      ... das Wesentliche, die Begründung der Auswanderung. Für ... war es nicht nur das, was weglockte, die angeblich bessere Bildung im Ausland, die bessere Lebensqualität, das Einkommen und die tollen Berufschancen. Nein, sie fanden auch Faktoren, die die Menschen wegtrieben. Die Politik der Regierung. Der offene Rassismus in breiten Volksschichten. Die fehlenden Friedensaussichten. Die allgemeine Niedergeschlagenheit. «The question is not why we left, but why it took us so long to do so.» Und ahnungsvoll wurde festgestellt, dass viele Expats bereits Doppelbürger waren oder es werden wollten. Rund 100 000 Israeli hätten bereits den deutschen Pass, in den USA gebe es denselben Trend. Die Israeli im Ausland seien tendenziell gescheiter, gebildeter, wohlhabender, säkularer als der Durchschnitt, hiess es weiter. Angesichts dieses Exodus werde die Lage in Israel langsam schwierig. Die Emigration stärke die Ultraorthodoxen und die Araber. Damit gefährde sie das zionistische Projekt.

      [...]

    • The million missing Israelis | Foreign Policy 2011

      https://foreignpolicy.com/2011/07/05/the-million-missing-israelis

      [...]

      At the lower end is the official estimate of 750,000 Israeli emigrants — 10 percent of the population — issued by the Israeli Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, which is about the same as that for Mexico, Morocco, and Sri Lanka. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government places the current number of Israeli citizens living abroad in the range of 800,000 to 1 million, representing up to 13 percent of the population, which is relatively high among OECD countries. Consistent with this latter figure is the estimated 1 million Israelis in the Diaspora reported at the first-ever global conference of Israelis living abroad, held in this January.

      Current estimates of Israelis living abroad are substantially higher than those for the past. During Israel’s first decade, some 100,000 Jews are believed to have emigrated from Israel. By 1980, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics estimated some 270,000 Israelis living abroad for more than a year, or 7 percent of the population. Several decades later, the number of Israeli emigrants had swelled to about 550,000 — or almost double the proportion at the end of the 1950s.

      Of the Israelis currently residing abroad, roughly 60 percent are believed to have settled in North America, a quarter in Europe, and 15 percent distributed across the rest of the world. It is estimated that about 45 percent of the adult Israeli expatriates have completed at least a university degree, in contrast to 22 percent of the Israeli population. The Israeli emigrants are deemed to be disproportionately secular, liberal, and cosmopolitan. Furthermore, the emigrants are generally younger than the immigrants to Israel, especially those from the former Soviet Union, hastening the aging of Israel’s population.

      The often-cited reasons for Israeli emigration center on seeking better living and financial conditions, employment and professional opportunities, and higher education, as well as pessimism regarding prospects for peace. Consistent with these motives, one of the most frequently given explanations for leaving Israel is: “The question is not why we left, but why it took us so long to do so.” And recent opinion polls find that almost half of Israeli youth would prefer to live somewhere else if they had the chance. Again, the most often-cited reason to emigrate is because the situation in Israel is viewed as “not good.”

      Another important factor contributing to the outflow of Jewish Israelis is previous emigration experience. As 40 percent of Jewish Israelis are foreign-born, emigration is nothing new for many in the country. Moreover, as Israeli emigrants cannot yet vote from abroad, they are likely to feel marginalized from mainstream Israeli society, further contributing to their decision to remain abroad as well as attracting others to do the same. Whether the Netanyahu government’s effort in the Knesset to approve a bill granting voting rights to Israelis living abroad will slow the trend is uncertain.

      Adding to emigration pressures, many Israelis have already taken preliminary steps to eventually leaving. One survey found close to 60 percent of Israelis had approached or were intending to approach a foreign embassy to ask for citizenship and a passport. An estimated 100,000 Israelis have German passports, while more are applying for passports based on their German ancestry. And a large number of Israelis have dual nationality, including an estimated 500,000 Israelis holding U.S. passports (with close to a quarter-million pending applications).

      [...]