The author is well known essayist in Nicaragua on a wide array of topics. He is a sociologist and researcher who has published several books on migration, youth and gangs in Central America. This article addresses a key issue for the left in Latin America: the number of deaths caused by the Maduro and Ortega governments.
The human sacrifices of the left
By José Luis Rocha, Confidencial
Feb 14, 2019
During the Cold War Latin American thugs in the name of anti-communism murdered, disappeared and jailed citizens subjected under their boots. Now in the name of socialism and anti-imperialism the leaders of the left are massacring us, because the people must be punished when they are so stupid as to not recognize what is benefitting them, and for spitting on the hands of their liberators. Napoleon, that instrument of the budding bourgeoise order – progress , in the dominant narrative – imposed the principles of the French revolution at the point of sabers and on a volcano of cadavers. In a letter to one of his lieutenants, he is the one who best formulated the idea that progress comes with blood, “If the people reject their own happiness, the people are culpable of anarchy, and deserve to be punished.”
Maduro and Ortega are punishing the people who are insubordinate and out of line. They have more than enough bullets to make them pay a high cost for the ingratitude and lack of class consciousness. A cappella or with a large orchestra, Atilio Borón and Ignacio Ramonet applaud them. The politicians-consultants of Podemos in Spain join them, who hide from the treasury the petrodollars that Chavism pays them for their consultancies (let the prostration of Venezuela serve as a test of their skill and effectiveness). José Mujica places warm compresses on a bloody gash when he says that Ortega should realize that sometimes the moment to leave power arrives, and he does not say one word about the massacres and the hundreds of political prisoners. Looking toward Venezuela, he conjures the danger of a military intervention, but neither the voting with their feet by the millions who have migrated, nor the evidence of the repudiation of the millions who have demonstrated in the streets, pull out of him even a marginal comment. On the other extreme of Latin America, breaking in the eagle´s chair*, AMLO [Andrés Manuel López Obrador, newly elected president of Mexico] discredits the pluralistic and consensus (also dissensus) vision of the OAS as interventionist. Immediately after that he proposes himself as mediator. Concerning the deaths and the prisoners? Silence. AMLO wants to enter the negotiation (or is he just asking for dialogue?) in big steps to lessen the possibility of tripping over the cadavers.
All the people that I identified by their names or acronyms are intellectuals and politicians who deserve a certain amount of respect from me. Some more, others less, all have demonstrated having glimmers of lucidness in more than one episode of their lives, their speeches and texts. That it why it surprises me to see them underestimating, dismissing and even discrediting the demonstrations of repudiation of the regimes of Ortega and Maduro. In their judgement, they are not genuine rebellions, but skillfully conceived uprisings meticulously executed by imperialism. If the masses are participating, it must be because they were deceived. In the end these alienated masses were the ones who supported Bolsonaro. The masses can be mistaken. They tend to be mistaken. So, in whom does sovereignty reside? In inalienable principles, according to them. Sovereignty for the left is an impersonal entity. The people in the streets are not sovereign nor self determined. They are manipulated and dependent. Above all, if they are demonstrating against their buddies.
These analysts and politicians on the left have made a preferential option for everything that smells leftist. Their position is located on the polar opposites of what has been the tradition of the left since its beginnings. The French revolution had extreme expressions about what were the divisions among the left back then. The differences allowed us to know who were in favor of granting more social and political rights. Karl Marx invested a big part of his time and acuity in fighting those who he considered members of a false left, a satchel where he stuck idealists, radical activists, dreamers, sell-outs and coopted people. His most ferocious pages showed no mercy with Max Stirner and Bruno Bauer (idealists), Mijail Bakunin (anarchist), Karl Vogt (agent of Napoleon III), Ferdinand Lassalle (romantic socialist and eventually subject to Bismarck) and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (scientist). Most of them were beloved comrades in arms with whom Marx broke when they adhered to questionable creeds, repressive regimes or sterile adventures.
The regime of Luis Napoleon Bonaparte, that many greeted as the opportunity to return to the republic, and to that transmutation from solid to liquid of that bourgeoise that Marx commended so much in the Communist Manifesto, did not fascinate Marx with its mixture of romanticism, authoritarian liberalism and utopian socialism. Instead of invoking the defense of the established and prosperous order during most of the 17 years that it lasted, Marx studied and applauded the Comuna of Paris (1871) that snatched the control of capital from Luis Napoleon, before the invasion of the Prussian troops put an end to his regime.
Europe has been a persistent scenario for fights between different factions of the left. It appears that in Latin America it was enough to proclaim themselves leftists for their colleagues to extend to the caudillos of the socialism of the XXI century carte blanche to allow them to massacre their peoples without impairing their support. They don´t care that the leaders of that left suffer from intellectual poverty and represent small groups without arguments, accustomed to repeating slogans like litanies, and in the face of stressful predicaments, respond to arguments with violence. It does not matter to them, because they think that in the end it is the only left that we can aspire to here. Parodying the old saying, they seem to say, “each people gets the left they deserve.”
These analysts and politicians only have eyes for a movie where the empire is the principal protagonist and the leaders of the left are undermining it. The people are the extras in favor of one side and the other. If a regime is opposed to the empire (be it even rhetorically, and subject to its logic in everything else), they go there with their gold, incense and myrrh to render homage, and tend to leave with more gold or glitter than what they brought. This Roman narrative does not correspond with reality. The empire moves its pieces, the people move theirs. At times their movements overlap and tactical interests partially coincide. The peoples´ movements, which are varied, contradictory and at times erratic, do not quash the imperial interests that are in play. But the action of the empire does not cancel the strength of the people.
The empire rules, a friend with pragmatic realpolitik used to tell me. The empire is the unchanging variable. That is why it is ridiculous that, with eyes focused on those interests, some analysts pretend to discover as a new event, like a type of breaking news or finding, that they arrived at after arduous and incisive cogitation, that the United States is interested in Venezuelan oil! A fact that allows them later to snub the fact that the people are also moving their pieces, and that within the big story of the imperial strategy there are hundreds of small stories of surreptitious and open resistance, and that not everything that dazzles with leftist colors is emanicipatory.
There is no better example of what I am saying than the dual nature of the armed counterrevolution in Nicaragua in the 80s. The counterrevolution was a peasant movement that emerged because of the erroneous policies, urban option, and repression of the FSLN. The technical and financial support from the government of the United States gave them fuel to maintain themselves, perdure, and have a greater military and economic impact. But 150 Elliot Abrams and 200 Oliver Norths would not have been enough for the Reagan Administration to put together such a movement. The primal component was a discontented peasantry, that not only supplied the ranks of the counterrevolution, but also provided the basic elements that any guerrilla force must have: sympathetic population where it can hide, refresh itself, and mount ambushes. This version, which is open to multi-purpose interpretations by political actors – is discomforting to the narrative of the good and the bad – the white and the black, or red communists and black imperialists.
A large part of the left – like the old historians focused on the life episodes of emperors, princes and princesses – also exclude ordinary people from history, the little people, the “errant, municipal and dirty common people” that Rubén Darío used to say. In their two colored playing board, there are only two players: the empire and the coalition that opposes it. They forget or relegate to the box of third rate events the cries of those killed, the widows, the mothers, the children and political prisoners. Maybe they think “if they were not manipulated, they would complain less”. They also leave aside the fact that the left – above all, if it is an oil left or a left that sells adulterated gasoline, like the Nicaraguan left – gets their resources from the bloody imperial market. Or in what market would they think the Venezuelan oil is in?
There are loose ends that are difficult for me to digest in this indifference or willingness to deny the suffering of the Nicaraguan and Venezuelan peoples. I can leave to one side the fact that the left that supports Ortega does not consider it more than a minor peculiarity the fact that in Nicaragua the Vice President is the spouse of the President, a rarity that you will not find in any other country of the western hemisphere. I can pass over the fact that some analysts might be blind, indifferent or celebratory about the unbridled accumulation of capital that the Latin American left (Venezuelan, Nicaraguan and others) have mounted on the Venezuelan oil. I suppose that their confreres will think that it is better that this dough go to fatten the pockets of the leaders of the left, than fall into the coffers of the traditional domestic oligarchies and multinational corporations.
But I do not have any hermeneutical framework to explain the large number of analysts on the left willing to turn a blind eye to the fact that under the regime of Ortega mining has expanded as never before. Gold exports have grown at a dizzying rate from 99,400 troy ounces and $55.3 million dollars in 2006, to 236,000 troy ounces and $357 million dollars in 2016, precisely the period of government of Comandante Ortega. Silver exports in that same period went from 94,200 to 681,700 troy ounces. At the hands of the law creating the Nicaraguan Mining Company (ENIMINAS) in 2017, the territory ceded to mining concessions went from 12,000 to 26,000 square kilometers. All these data are official, available on the web site of the Central Bank.
And there is more, much more evidence of the current immolation and future costs that the socialism of the XXI century entails, that intellectuals and politicians celebrate, while they have their cocktail shaker stirred for them, preparing their Martini “Bond style”, with the comforting perspective that one gets from watching the bulls from the sidelines. Because that is what is occurring: the indifference of the many to two peoples who are resisting with their fingernails from being sacrificed at the altar of the noble causes of the left, now contaminated because for the outlaws who proclaim them in word only, they are nothing more than an excuse for stuffing their own pockets.
The theologian and economist Franz Hinkelammert some time ago wrote about these human sacrifices. Western society – he explains to us – “always talks about such an infinitely worthy man that, in pursuit of he and his freedom, real men have to be destroyed. That men might know Christ, their souls be saved, that they have freedom or democracy, that communism be built, are such ends in the name of which the simplest rights of specific men have been obliterated. From the perspective of these alleged values, those rights seem simply mediocre ends, materialistic goals in conflict with the high ideas of society. Obviously it is not a matter or renouncing any of these ends. What it involves is rooting ourselves in the simple and the immediate, which is the right of all men and women to be able to live.”
In the face of the left that blandishes the sacrificial knife, the multitudes who are opposed to Ortega and Maduro are unworthy and mundane, because they reject the socialism of the XXI century and prefer jobs, toilet paper, beans and that land that the interoceanic canal was going to swallow up. On that basis some politicians and analysts have taken the level of distortion of the debate to the point where the tradeoffs seem to be: the ideas or the people, the principles or the human beings. And this is a falsification of what is truly in play, but serves as a symptom of the fact that there are two value systems in conflict: those who are committed to the lives of real women and men, and those who immolate them at the altar of great ideals.
Perhaps being on the left today implies being a feminist and ecologist. This should not be exclusively leftist. The struggle against patriarchy, the looting of the wood mafias and the large corporation who pollute the environment and minds should be present in the agendas of all responsible politicians. Norberto Bobbio found a minimum common denominator about what it means to be leftist: the distribution of resources in accordance with needs, to decrease social inequalities and reduce natural inequalities. But the task of distributing has at least two pre-requisites: having resources to assign, and that the potential beneficiaries are not imprisoned or dead. How does the left that is indifferent or inclined to human sacrifice manage this scenario?
* Presidential chair of Mexico