Saturday, April 25, 2015

Gaza Open Port: new Freedom Flotilla to challenge the genocidal siege

A new Freedom Flotilla aims to open the waters of Gaza and challenge the genocidal siege imposed by Zionists and its reactionary Arab allies (Egypt particularly). The first President of Tunisia after the 2011 Revolution, Moncef Marzouki, has announced he will be there. He's obviously not the only one, artists of international renown such as Manu Chao or Xabier Muguruza are also supporting the initiative

The list of members of the 2015 Freedom Flotilla is:

Other collaborators:
Lifeline to Gaza – Jordan
Miles of Smiles
Palestine Solidatiry Alliance – South Africa

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Fukushima killing hundreds of millions of animals, driving species to extinction, in Pacific Ocean

There's been some time since I last dedicated time to the Fukushima catastrophe but nothing has improved at all: the "China syndrome" has been confirmed, the situation is absolutely out of control and the effects are becoming more and more serious and widespread. 

Two snippets from EneNews (published today) illustrate how bad it is, but remember that these are just a couple of details in a continuous flood of very bad news:

1. Hundreds of millions of animals dead in North Pacific Ocean in the last two years, dozens of species annihilated → LINK

2. Power outage at Fukushima NPP and new mass discharge to the Ocean of radioactive water → LINK

Monday, April 20, 2015

On the upcoming elections in the Southern Basque Country

As municipal and regional Southern Basque elections loom (one month to go), I've grown somewhat curious about what do the opinion polls tell, what to expect?

The most interesting scenario is that of Navarre, where radical political change is very much anticipated after almost 40 years of Twin Party regime, in which UPN (Navarrese branch of the PP, conservatives) and PSOE (social-liberals) have supported each other against the Basque Nationalist Left, the only real opposition force (along with the much smaller United Left, now just The Left in Navarre). The corruption scandals particularly have taken a major toll for the pseudo-regionalist UPN, but also for the PSOE, who have supported them and rejected snap elections, extending the agony unnecessarily. 

We have two different polls both from March 2015. In one the Ancien Régime collapses, in the other the Ancien Régime miraculously survives albeit in a very fragmented form. What to believe?

A peculiarity of the Navarrese system is that, much as happens in municipal corporations, the party or list with the largest number of seats may form government unless another majority is formed by coalition, so it is still possible that UPN manages to form government if opposition forces can't agree to something better or if they don't reach the threshold of 26 seats. 

source: Electrograph

source: Electrograph

Legend or who-is-who:
  • UPN (Navarrese People's Union): reactionary unionist pseudo-regionalist party allied to all-Spain PP, dramatically shattered by corruption scandals in the last years.
  • EH Bildu (Rally the Basque Nation): Basque Nationalist Left, coalition of four parties around Sortu (Create), which represents continuity with former incarnations of the Basque Nationalist Left.
  • Podemos (We Can): new Spanish radical-reformist party, whose performance in European elections and opinion polls threatens the establishment.
  • PSOE (Spanish Worker Socialist Party): unionist social-liberals who rally the working class for the benefit the banksters. In clear decline for that very reason.
  • Geroa Bai (Yes to the Future): residual leftover of the Nafarroa Bai coalition, which still retains some backing because of its independent leader Uxue Barkos, in spite of most component parties migrating to EH Bildu.
  • PP (People's Party): reactionary unionist all-Spain party, currently in power in Madrid, also shattered by many corruption scandals.
  • n (Izquierda-Ezkerra: The Left): Navarrese branch of all-Spain United Left, a federalist, eco-communist coalition around the Communist Party of Spain.
  • C's (Ciudadanos: Citizens): Le Pen with a shallow make-up. A xenophobic Spanish nationalist conservative party that is dangerously climbing in the opinion polls in the last months.

So which scenario will take place in Navarre after the May elections? Truth is that I do not know but I do hope for something like the first one, where a coalition of EH Bildu, Podemos, Geroa Bai and Izquierda-Ezkerra can save the battered Old Kingdom and revitalize it. 

If something like the second scenario is the final result, we can only expect more of the same. That would be very sad.

In the Western Basque Country instead change will most likely be minor. The January poll gave a very strong performance to Podemos but the March poll shows a quite weaker implementation of this new party, something that is in agreement with opinion polls from Spain in general. 

Here in Biscay, we will continue stuck with the tiresome hegemony by the petty-bourgeois Basque Nationalist Party, being the only Basque region where they retain a clear dominance. They do suffer some erosion but not enough to challenge their dominant position. So more of the same, although no doubt there will be a stronger opposition with the irruption of Podemos as third force, at the expense mostly of the Spanish unionist Twin Party. 

In Gipuzkoa, where EH Bildu has ruled the last four years, everybody seems to keep their positions but all them eroded to greater or lesser extent by the irruption of Podemos. It's safe to think that EH Bildu will continue governing from an even stronger position and with the same general line, which can well be labeled as classical social-democrat, thanks to a predictable coalition with the maverick Spanish party. 

In Araba the only predictable thing is that there will be a hung parliament with five forces (used to be four) each getting a sizable fraction of it. Most likely the Basque Nationalist Party, occupying the de facto center position (which in the Basque case is not just about right-left but also about unionism-independentism) will be the one holding the scales and grabbing the seat of Deputy General therefore. But we better wait for the results anyhow. 

The iron hand of the Aranist sect

The Basque Nationalist Party (EAJ-PNV), in spite of belonging to the Ancien Régime as much as any of the other parties being shattered by the political storm spearheaded by Podemos, has somehow managed to remain relatively untouched by corruption scandals. It is not that the scandals do not exist but rather that the raison-d'état of the state- or bourgeois-held media and the NATOist coalition of political muppets hides them systematically. 

The Basque Nationalist Party is the last line of Spanish unionism in the Basque Country (or rather its Western and most populated third) and the Spaniards know it so they won't even dare to expose the many dirty affairs in which the Aranist force is sunk deep to the eyebrows.

But part of the blame must also fall on the Basque Nationalist Left, which hopelessly hopes for a day in which the Aranists wake up and decide to join them in a push for the independence of the Basque Country. The overall drift of the Basque Nationalist Left has been for much more moderate positions, still very radical for the Ancien Régime but not at all radical enough for a growing sector of its bases, who feel alienated by the new course.

Its continuous vacuous pleas to EAJ-PNV to join forces for independence, its rather pathetic attempts to compete with them for the center of the Basque nationalist political spectrum instead of properly rallying the multicultural Basque worker class and the weakness of its participative structures are taking a serious toll. Toll that may not yet be too apparent in electoral results but is clear in the street and online talk.

The failures of Podemos

Podemos arose with the pretense of being a radical participative new party but has since then drifted dramatically to personalism and centralism. The main exceptions are a handful of regional formations, including Navarre, Aragon, etc., where the officialist lists have not been able to rally the bases in clear but not yet admitted defeat of the Iglesias clique. 

This centralization of the party has obviously disenfranchised many potential voters. The extremely challenging declarations of their leaders against the independence of Catalonia have necessarily also alienated many possible voters, not just in Catalonia but also in the Basque Country, Galicia, etc. 

Disappointment is growing inside and outside the party even before they can rule for all these reasons that exclude key potential supports: anticapitalists and independentists, as well as those focused on true participative democracy. In the end it's not too clear what Podemos stands for or how is it different from other parties.

They still manage to rally many of the discontents but they seem to have touched their ceiling of growth. Additionally the regime has very actively promoted a xenophobic reactionary party (Ciudadanos), which masks itself under a pretense of renovation and an anti-corruption populist discourse, eroding various parties but also Podemos. Of course the media attacks against Podemos have been systematic, using lesser accountancy errors of one of their leaders as if it'd be a clear example of corruption within the new party and accusing them of being pro-Venezuela, which the media systematically characterizes as a dictatorship in spite of being a very respectful and inclusive democracy. 

Probably the weakness of the stand of Syriza before the EU (less weak than it may seem but not radical enough quite clearly) and internally has also affected Podemos somewhat because both parties are seen as similar (although Syriza has no doubt a much more solid team and militancy than its Spanish counterpart).

But in my understanding the greatest weakness of Podemos is it relative low level of internal democracy in spite of the discourse, something that in the end makes it similar to other parties and is a major systematic weakness of the real Left parties, affecting, as I mentioned above, also EH Bildu or its core party Sortu, what alienates much of its grassroots support sooner than later.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Death of two literary giants: Eduardo Galeano and Günther Grass

In the very same day, yesterday April 13th, two of the greatest writers of our time left us. 

Eduardo Galeano (Montevideo, 1940) is arguably the greatest author in Spanish language in the second half of the 20th century. His masterpiece Open Veins of Latin America[full PDF text at e-reading club] is a must read, so "must" that Hugo Chávez gifted it to Barack Obama in 2009. It is not just a literary masterpiece but also a most valuable history work, quite comparable to Zinn's A People's History of the United States but surely better in its truly amazing literary quality.

It begins this way:

The division of labor among nations is that some specialize in winning and others in losing. Our part of the world, known today as Latin America, was precocious: it has specialized in losing ever since those remote times when Renaissance Europeans ventured across the ocean and buried their teeth in the throats of the Indian civilizations.

Update (Apr 20th): 10 Galeano books freely available online in Spanish (BGD).

Günther Grass (Danzig/Gdansk, 1927) was certainly less radical initially (he was for long an SPD member) but his work is nevertheless very enjoyable. However he did evolve towards more determined positions in the anti-war movement of the 1980s and was hostile to reunification of Germany in 1991, fearing that it could only lead to a renewed German imperialism, which he opposed.

In 2012 he published the poem What must be said, against the German military support of the Zionist terrorist state and its overly dangerous nuclear capacity.

His most famous work is The Tin Drum. He got the Nobel Prize in 1999.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The first Communism, 144 years later.

These weeks we commemorate the 144th anniversary of the Paris Commune, the first ever Communist regime, radically democratic and the reference that Marx and Engels adopted as model for the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Naturally the reference work is Marx' The Civil War in France, including the very insightful prologue by F. Engels.

But for those with the inclination for the video format and the patience to watch a long movie, a most interesting take is Peter Watkins' La Commune (Paris, 1871), which, using the anachronistic narrative device of introducing television in the 19th century, reenacts the events:

Also, for those who understand Spanish, I believe that this debate in Escuela de Cuadros (Cadres' School, TeleSur program) is a very interesting complement:

Now, maybe more than ever before we need to retake the concept of Communism and restore it to its originally radical democratic nature, democracy that cannot be just restricted to elections every X years but that, as in the Paris Commune, must imply the election of all offices and their revocable nature. It also cannot be restricted to mere political democracy but must imply economic democracy, that is the collectivization of all means of production and livelihood - property is an unbearable privilege that must be abolished in favor of true democracy.

We shall prevail because Capitalism is unable to face the catastrophe it has created, only an organized and conscious People, Humankind, can do that. Revolution or extinction!

Monday, March 30, 2015

EH Bai rallies Northern Basque left vote in second round of department elections

The Basque Nationalist Left coalition Euskal Herria Bai (Yes to the Basque Country) achieved amazing records of support in the second round of the departamental elections, where they were the only left-leaning force remaining in five cantons for the second round of the vote, whose first round was last week.

EH Bai lists only managed to win in the Errobi-Aturri canton, where they run against the French fascist party FN. In that district they collected 78% of the vote in this second round (was 34% in the first one). 

However, even where they ultimately lost to cocky Sarkozy-strikes-back lists, they achieved record backing never before gathered, for example 45% in Donibane-Lohitzune (Saint-Jean-de-Luz), what caused their conservative and unionist rival Philippe Juzan to acknowledge publicly that the Basque patriots are rallying the youth much better than their party, wowing to learn a lesson from that. 

In the other three cantons the performance of the Independentists was also excellent and without precedent: 44% in Ustaritze-Errobi-Urdazuri, 43% in the Basque Mountain and 38% in Bidaxune-Amikuze-Ostibarre

Overall the French right won in most cantons but the social-liberals of Hollande managed to win three (Baiona-2, Baiona-3 and Hendaia). Abstention was very high (48%) suggesting that the people is not satisfied with the rather undemocratic seat assignment method, which strongly favors the Twin Party system and denies the right of representation to weaker but still important currents.

Source: Gara[es].

North of the Adur...

Overall in the French Residual Empire voters backed Darth Vader, oops, I mean: Nicolas Sarkozy. The population seems extremely disappointed about right wing politics by Hollande, demonstrating that terms should be much shorter, in order to impede the breach of electoral promises for too long. In brief:
  • Sarko's likely backers:
    • UMP: 1105
    • Various right: 893
    • UDI: 358
    • MoDem: 46
  • Hollande's usual backers:
    • PS: 912
    • Various left: 384
    • PCF: 118
    • PRG: 62
  • Fascists:
    • FN: 64
    • Various far-right: 4
  • Real Left:
    • EE-LV: 29
    • FDG/PG: 20
  • Independentists: 7
  • Miscellanea: 46
Source: Twitter.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Saudi intervention in Yemen: a major step in the direction of total chaos

Religion in Arabia
Yemen is not Bahrain. Bahrain is a small urban island while Yemen is larger than Spain or Thailand, a largely rural and impoverished country with large mountainous areas. 

Conquering Yemen, as the Saudis and their North American allies seem to hope is pretty much impossible (much less for a mercenary army as the Saudi one, which lacks the ideological motivation and will be easily demoralized). So this attack is a very risky move that allows the troubles of Yemen to split across the border, particularly to 'Asir, which has a very large Shia population which is also ethnically akin to Yemenis.

As we can see in the map, Saudi Arabia is made up of two vast desertic areas in the North and South, plus three more populated areas, primarily the Southwest (largely Sunni but also Shia), then the central "oasis area" (stronghold of the fundamentalist Wahabbi ideology that shapes the theocracy) and finally the Eastern Shia region that used to be part of Bahrain. While an extension of the conflict to the central region can be surely discarded in the short run and the Eastern Shia uprising was quelled in blood (although it is still latent and tightly associated to the developments in Bahrain, where protests continue in spite of brutal repression), a Houti advance in Eastern Arabia, particularly into 'Asir but potentially even threatening Mecca should not be discarded at all. In fact I can't but foresee it as the more natural development of the Saudi invasion in the short run. 

The weakness of Saudi power

Another thing to consider is who rules Saudi Arabia and how solid is their power. The recently crowned King Salman, 79, is widely believed to suffer from Alzheimer disease or some other sort of incapacitating dementia so there is a shadowy junta actually ruling the state and clear fractures in the ruling family are known to exist in spite of the secrecy that governs the Islamist state.

In other words: Saudi power is, in spite of oil revenues, at its weakest point ever, suffering intestine dynastic disputes, facing major dissidence from that 50% of the population that are women (whose condition under Wahabbism is surely one of the worst on Earth) and from the majority of the population in the Eastern Province. Now add to all that a powerful and consolidated Shia militia spawning from Yemen. The only pillars of Saudi power are the more and more questioned totalitarian religious police and a mercenary army, with good equipment and salaries but without the "soul" of a really compromised force, as it lacks of nationalist or otherwise ideological motivation of any sort. 

We are talking after all of a mere feudal state: a pre-modern residue stagnated on oil wealth and international alliances, heavily relying on an immigrant workforce with slave-like conditions, and almost certainly unable to withstand any serious turmoil. 

What can we expect

Yemen conflict (from Al Yazeera)
I foresee short-term Pyrrhic victories of the invaders (high sustained cost, low gain) followed by backslash in both Yemen and SW Saudi territory. Backslash that might well threaten Mecca. The boundaries are artificial and the intervention just made them meaningless: now it's an all-Arabian conflict and not anymore one just circumscribed to Yemen.

I also foresee increased unrest in Saudi Arabia as such: both from the people, for which Wahabbi totalitarianism is not anymore a valid option in this globalized and secularized age, but also from important segments of the dominant elite which have been apparently excluded from power with the still fresh crowning putsch of Salman the Ailing. 

It is probable that the intervention in Yemen is seen by the current shadow junta as a way to reinforce their power: nothing like a glorious military campaign, right? But there is a major problem: the campaign won't succeed and it will be painful and dirty, spilling into Saudi territory, so eventually its promoters will gain only increased weakness and not increased strength from it.

Finally there is another and very serious danger that can't be understated: that the besieged Sunni Islamists in Yemen will join the Islamic State, as those in Libya and Nigeria have done, and roll over Saudia from both Iraq and Yemen with likely opportunist support (as in Iraq) from inside the military. They would offer the rotten Saudi elites the "best" (worst!) of both worlds: a continuation of totalitarian Sunni Islamism and a modernizing fascist regime apparently more capable than the rotten Saudi dynasty. 

No need to say that such a development would dramatically alter the geostrategy of the region and the whole World. I is not unlikely though.

What I wonder at this stage is how controlled does the Pentagon has the situation. Isn't the risk of the Islamic State (effectively supported by Turkey, the USA and Israel but apparently not by Saudi Arabia) going out of control getting too big? This seems more and more like a repetition of the Hitler experiment: we (the Anglo-Saxon Empire) put a dictator in power and a few years later we have no choice but to wage war against him because he's become too independent and is challenging the status quo beyond what we can put up with. 

Obviously the IS is not your usual military junta or old-fashioned fossilized monarchy: they literally know no bounds in their brutal religious madness and are extremely ambitious. They have also shown to be very efficient at taking over weakened states, at least large chunks of them. And Saudi Arabia is one of those.

I wonder if that is what the USA wants and, if so, why? How do they plan to retain hegemony in the middle of such chaos and consolidated state of war? Conquering it in some sort of WW3? Will they be able to rally the masses around such a major imperial campaign in the midst of the worst socio-economic crisis in the history of Capitalism? I don't think so. All this can only backfire, even if I feel unable to foresee the details of the near-future developments.

Update (Mar 29):
06:48 GMT: Houthi rebels are moving artillery units closer to the border with Saudi Arabia, RIA Novosti cited Al Jazeera as saying (from RT live updates blog on the crisis). What did I say about the war spilling to Saudia?

Other details from the same source:
  • Yemeni forces (army or rebels) can hit Saudi targets up to 500 km away (Iranian source)
  • Saudia has massed up 150,000 troops at the border with Yemen. It is unclear if they plan to invade or just defend the border. Analyst suggest that a land invasion would be a disaster, however it is unclear how can the operation succeed without ground occupation, more so when the Houtis are clearly redirecting their efforts against the Saudi aggressor.
  • While Egypt has joined the Saudi-led coalition with 16 airplanes and one frigate, Pakistan has remained uncompromising.
  • The official Yemeni President (with almost no support inside the country) seems to have left the country for Riyadh and then for Egypt to attend an Arab League summit. 

Update 2 (Mar 29): Israel may be an active partner in the coalition bombing Yemen, according to sources in Sanaa mentioned by Fars Agency.