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Author Topic: War Provocations and Peace Actions  (Read 3240 times)

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Re: War Provocations and Peace Actions
« Reply #240 on: June 18, 2018, 07:31:38 pm »
I just took this quiz and did pretty well with it. This quiz is valuable because is shows how little the average American actually knows about why these wars happen and who gets killed in them. What I got right has a "✔" and what I got wrong has a red asterisk *.  The correct answer(s) are in bold.

Quiz: Beyond War 🕊

What tends to be present where war is? (Check all that apply.)

a) resource scarcity

b) human rights violations in need of response

c) raw fossil fuels

d) Islam  * (I picked this one too and should not have  :-[)

See documentation of c here.

See documentation of not a here.

B and D are non-plausible propaganda.


Nations are more likely to wage war if . . . (Check all that apply.) [THIS QUESTION NOT USED IN FACEBOOK VERSION DUE TO HAVING MULTIPLE ANSWERS]

a) they have militaries * (I didn't pick this one  :-[)

b) they spend more than other nations on their militaries ✔

c) their people accept that war is a legitimate tool of public policy

d) theyíre great

See documentation of c here.

See evidence for a and b here.


The United States sells weapons to this percentage of the worldís dictatorships.

a) 0%

b) 12%

c) 52%

d) 73%

See documentation of d here.


The majority of those killed in modern wars are . . .

a) members of a military

b) terrorists

c) evil demons

d) civilians

Itís not even close. Some examples are here.


The majority of those killed with missiles from drones have been . . .

a) criminals

b) terrorists

c) suspect profiled individuals

d) unidentified

See documentation of d here.


What percentage of suicide terrorist attacks are aimed at getting a military to cease occupying a foreign country?

a) 4%

b) 27%

c) 39%

d) 95%

See documentation of d here.


What percentage of military bases on foreign soil are U.S. military bases?

a) 49%

b) 68%

c) 81%

d) 96%

See documentation of d here.


What percentage of global military spending could end starvation globally?

a) 1.5%

b) 3% *

c) 18%

d) 62%

See documentation of a here.


What percentage of the top 4 weapons dealers in the world are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council?

a) 0%

b) 25%

c) 50%

d) 100%

They are the United States, Russia, China, France. The U.K. does not always clearly hold fifth place, though it is always in the top 6 or 7. See documentation of d here.


People have signed World BEYOND Warís pledge to help end all war in how many countries?

a) 6

b) 44

c) 107

d) 158

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if it has not works, is dead, being alone.


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Re: War Provocations and Peace Actions
« Reply #241 on: June 18, 2018, 09:12:14 pm »
Far-Right 🦀 Wins Presidency in Colombia: ĎA Frightening Resultí 😨

June 18, 2018

Ivan Duque, who is the candidate of former president Alvaro Uribe, won a solid victory for Colombiaís presidency and will probably take Colombia back towards civil war and internal repression, with the help of the US and other conservative governments, argues Manuel Rozental, of PueblosEnCamino.org

Manuel Rozental

Emmanuel Rozental is a Colombian activist, physician, and practicing surgeon with more than 40 yearsí involvement in grassroots political organizing with youth, indigenous peoples, and urban and rural movements. He has been exiled several times to Canada for political activities. Academic in social and political sciences, strategist with social movements throughout the Americas and beyond.

SNIPPET from video interview:

So our fear is now that Colombia is the spearhead of the U.S. policy for this continent. And the U.S. policy for this continent in economic terms is this: war actually is not a means to an end. The resources and territories that are needed are not only a means to an end. War is the end in itself.

The Middle Eastern wars have activated the economy and have improved the economy in the U.S. [Inaudible] that Colombiaís role is one of the Israel of Latin America. And what comes here is a model and a new phase, neoliberalism is left behind.

The new phase such as Colombia and Mexico for capital from the U.S., and pushed by, promoted by U.S. corporations and the Pentagon, is actually a, letís call it a mafia-type capitalism which is, on the one hand, drug trafficking and drug mafias together with governments and corporations, and launching all types of wars constantly.

I am not trying to generate fear. Iím just showing the type of movements weíre seeing developing here.

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Re: War Provocations and Peace Actions
« Reply #242 on: July 11, 2018, 08:07:09 pm »
Growing Up in the USSR Ė RAI with A. Buzgalin (1/12)

July 11, 2018

Prof. Alexander Buzgalin joins Paul Jay on Reality Asserts Itself; born two years after the death of Stalin, he talks about growing up in the Soviet Union

Related Bios

Aleksandr Buzgalin

Aleksandr Buzgalin is a Professor of Political Economy at Moscow State University. He is also editor of the independent democratic left magazine Alternatives, and is a coordinator of the Russian social movement Alternatives, author of more then 20 books and hundreds of articles, translated into English, German and many other languages.

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Re: War Provocations and Peace Actions
« Reply #243 on: July 13, 2018, 09:24:59 pm »
Communism and Consumerism Ė RAI with A. Buzgalin (3/12)

July 13, 2018

On Reality Asserts Itself, Prof. Alexander Buzgalin says that ďmarket fetishismĒ, the hunger for commodities, became a major obstacle to building socialism Ė with host Paul Jay

Aleksandr Buzgalin is a Professor of Political Economy at Moscow State University. He is also editor of the independent democratic left magazine Alternatives, and is a coordinator of the Russian social movement Alternatives, author of more then 20 books and hundreds of articles, translated into English, German and many other languages.

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Re: War Provocations and Peace Actions
« Reply #244 on: July 13, 2018, 09:51:36 pm »
Congressional Progressive Caucus Challenge Party Leadership and Congress on Militarism and Foreign Policy

July 13, 2018

The little known Congressional Progressive Caucus🕊 is the largest caucus within the Democratic Party and has an important track record in calling attention to the highly interventionist and harmful foreign policy of the US, says CEPRís Mark Weisbrot


Story Transcript

SHARMINI PERIES: Itís The Real News Network. Iím Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore.

As president Trump concluded his participation in a NATO summit this week, he called for a doubling of NATO membersí military spending, from a target of 2 percent of GDP by 2024, to 4 percent of GDP. In effect, Trump is proposing even greater militarization of world affairs, both at home and within NATO.There are, however, members of Congress who have recently been pushing back against the militarization and interventionism of US foreign policy. People such as Representatives Ro Khanna, Mark Pocan, Keith Ellison, Raul Grijalva, Barbara Lee, among many others. They are all members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, or CPC. This caucus is generally not that well known, but with 78 members, ( including Bernie Sanders in the Senate) it is the largest Democratic Party caucus. It was founded in 1991 and has grown steadily in size since then. It takes positions on both foreign and domestic policy that tend to be significantly to the left of the party as a whole.Joining me to discuss the foreign policy work of Congressional Progressive Caucus and its individual members is Mark Weisbrot. Mark is the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research and is the author of the book, ďFailed: What the ĎExpertsí Got Wrong About the Global Economy.Ē Thanks for joining us again, Mark.

MARK WEISBROT: Thanks, Sharmini, and thanks for doing this show. I think itís a very important institution that hasnít really gotten much attention.

SHARMINI PERIES: Thanks for that endorsement, Mark. Letís start off by defining the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Who are they?

MARK WEISBROT: Yes. Well, itís 70, around 76-77 members of Congress, all from the House except, as you mentioned, Bernie Sanders in the Senate. And they were formed to provide something of an alternative to a lot of the policies, both domestic and foreign policy, of some of the leadership of the Democratic Party, and turn it to the left of that.

SHARMINI PERIES: And Mark, what are the kinds of things that they are engaged in, and their past policy positions that are significant?

MARK WEISBROT: Well, theyíve taken a lot of positions on domestic issues that were always ahead, you know, on the budget, the monetary policy, the Federal Reserve and fiscal policy. What I think is most striking now, because weíre in a period where most of the foreign policy discussion is kind of retrograde, you know, even by U.S. foreign policy discussion standards, and theyíve taken consistently progressive positions on a whole variety of foreign policy issues. And I think thatís really important to see that there is this pull, because, you know, otherwise you could be really discouraged where you look. You know, you turn on the television and you look in the newspapers here, and all the debates are about various enemies around the world. And even, and you have this special period now where I think, because so much of the leadership and a significant part of the base of the Democratic Party, which would normally be taking a less-hawkish position on foreign policy, has become the more aggressive and interventionist part-.

SHARMINI PERIES: Mark, the Caucus has taken some really important positions that weíve covered here at The Real News, like that of Yemen, and Brazil, and Syria. Give us some of those policy positions that-. You have actually worked on some of them, on the Hill.

MARK WEISBROT: Yes. Well, the issue of Yemen and the war in Yemen led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and supported militarily by the U.S., you know, in terms of refueling Saudi planes and selecting targets. And this is an actual participation of the United States in the war, and itís unconstitutional. Itís against the law. You know, Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution reserves to Congress the power to decide on U.S. military intervention. It isnít just declaring war, as you might, as some people read it. It actually, if you look at the legislative history, it really is any kind of military or paramilitary intervention, for that matter. Thatís what the framers of the Constitution were describing when they put that in.

And so the Congress has that power, and it just hasnít asserted it enough. This is the law of the land. And so this war is unauthorized and illegal under the Constitution. So what the Progressive Caucus and various members of the Progressive Caucus did in November of last year is they invoked the 1973 War Powers Resolution, which didnít, you know, reinterpret the Constitution, but gave the Congress another way, a procedural way, of enforcing the constitutional power that they have. So it said that they could any member of Congress, when the U.S. was involved in hostilities overseas without the authorization of Congress, they could actually demand a debate and vote on that military involvement, and that the leadership of the House couldnít block it. And so thatís what they did. And in the House there was some negotiation, but a resolution did pass. And it didnít say that the U.S. had to withdraw, but it did recognize that the participation of the United States in this war was unauthorized.

And then they came back to the Senate in February. And it was a resolution-. By the way, these resolutions were sponsored not only by progressive members of Congress and Bernie Sanders in the Senate, but also by more conservative legislators who just believe in the Constitution, like Mike Lee of Utah in the Senate, and in the House there was Walter Jones and Thomas Massie. And so in the Senate, that vote was defeated, but they got, they got 44 votes for it. And it was the first time that the War Powers Resolution of 1973, which came out of the Vietnam War, was used to force that vote.

And I think this is very important for several reasons. First of all for this war, because this is the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. You have a million people who have gotten cholera from the destruction of water supplies in the bombing. And you had thousands of people die from that. And you have 8 million people on the brink of starvation. And so this isnít over. And in fact, thereís negotiations going on right now with a U.N. envoy, and thereís some hope that there actually will be a settlement. And some more conservative members of Congress like Steny Hoyer and Eliot Engle, more conservative Democrats, they have even moved, and said to the Saudis in a letter recently that, you know, this is enough, and this has to stop, and you should negotiate a solution. And thatís because of this effort, because they use this power that the Congress has always had, but not used, to actually, you know, stop the, to try and stop this U.S. intervention. And they know, these other legislators know that this actually can be done. They can keep coming back with this, and theyíre going to. Theyíre going to come back, and they can get a vote.

And the final thing Iíll say about this, because I think itís so important, is itís a structural change that the Progressive Caucus and people like Ro Khanna, Rep. Ro Khanna from Silicon Valley in California, that are leading this effort. Mark Polkan from the Progressive, co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. This, if they continue this, down this path, which Iím very certain they will, this will be a structural change. Because this will now, if you look at the whole history of the United States, there are very few wars where the Congress was leading the charge. Itís, you know-. So this will help prevent a lot of wars in the future as the Congress reasserts its constitutional authority. So thatís very, very big.

SHARMINI PERIES: Now, Mark, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, or CPC, as itís known, is currently the largest Democratic Party caucus with 78 members, which includes Bernie Sanders from Senate. Now, however, only about-. This only constitutes 15 percent of all the 535 members of the House and Senate. Now, given the size, just how much impact can they have, how effective can they possibly be?

MARK WEISBROT: Well, the example I gave was very important because theyíre changing the rules of the game. Theyíre actually, theyíre just enforcing the rules of the game, and therefore changing, changing them. But also on other issues they have a voice where nobody can really push back against. And so when it gets in the news and it gets in the news in other countries-. So for example, thereís a letter circulating in Congress now from progressive members on Brazil, because of, you know, in Brazil theyíve got the leading presidential candidate, former President Lula da Silva is in jail right now. And itís become more and more obvious that this is because, not because he committed a crime for which they did not present material evidence at his trial, but also, but really because heís the leading candidate and he would win in October. And you know, you get very little real information about this in the news. But these kind of letters, they make the news. If the reporters ignore them here, which they donít always, they make the news in Brazil. So they have an influence there, and it shows that there is this force that really is, is pushing for a different foreign policy.

And theyíve had similar letters, you know, for other countries, as well. A number of letters on Honduras, for example, when they, with the help of the United States and support of the United States, the Honduran government stole the election in November, and they came out with letters and statements about that. If you look at the election of AMLO in Mexico that just happened, the statement on that was very positive, and it went against the, all the punditry and the most of the media coverage by agreeing with AMLO on his foreign policy, where he wants a more peaceful and non-interventionist foreign policy in the hemisphere. In other words, theyíre not going to support like they did, theyíre not going to support the United States like they did in the Honduran election, where they came out in favor of recognizing their election, then the U.S. pretended to follow them, after the U.S. had already asked them, the U.S. government had already asked them to do that.

Now, those are the kind of things that theyíre not going to do. And the Progressive Caucus will be supporting them while everybody, you read all the opinion leaders in the newspaper are worried, and saying bad things about AMLO, because heís not lining up with U.S. foreign policy in the hemisphere. And I think what they can do is provide a progressive vision, but not just a vision like an intellectual or a professor can do, but a vision that theyíre actively implementing. So itís far outsized in relation to its percentage of the Congress, because this is, after all, these are positions that the vast majority of Americans would agree with and do agree with, and theyíre not represented because of the hegemony of this foreign policy establishment, which includes the government and the media. And this is especially true in Latin America where you see almost no dissent at all, so itís almost monolithic.

SHARMINI PERIES: All right, Mark. Now, to tie all of this back to my introduction, which was about Trumpís presence at NATO, and calling for more spending on the part of NATO members, just a few weeks ago the U.S. House passed the 2019 Defense Authorization Bill, allocating $717 billion to the Pentagon. What is the Congressional Progressive Caucusí position regarding military spending, particularly given just yesterday the House actually reinstated their commitment to NATO?

MARK WEISBROT: Well, the caucus members, I mean, the people that are leading this effort, especially in the Progressive Caucus, are definitely for less military spending. Bernie Sanders has, of course, said this publicly, but also Ro Khanna and other members of the Progressive Caucus. So theyíre definitely on the record on this issue, and they are also against, you know, what a lot of the military spending is used for, which is regime change. And thatís a very important position that theyíve taken, as well. Even in Venezuela, for example, where you donít have any, very little dissent at all against the regime change effort that is currently underway led by the U.S. government. You have opposition, again, from the Progressive Caucus.

So yeah, theyíre presenting a consistent view of a positive foreign policy. Itís not isolationist, but itís against the destructive things that our foreign policy is doing around the world.

SHARMINI PERIES: All right, Mark. Great discussion. I thank you so much for joining us today.


SHARMINI PERIES: And thank you for joining us here on The Real News Network.
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Re: War Provocations and Peace Actions
« Reply #245 on: July 16, 2018, 08:07:21 pm »
Growing Up in the USSR Ė RAI with A. Buzgalin (1/12)

Success and Mutation in the Soviet Union Ė RAI with A. Buzgalin (2/12)

Communism and Consumerism Ė RAI with A. Buzgalin (3/12)

Turning Power into Money, the End of the Soviet Union Ė RAI with A. Buzgalin (4/12)

ďI Returned from Vacation to Find the Soviet Union had CollapsedĒ Ė RAI with A. Buzgalin (5/12)

July 16, 2018

On Reality Asserts Itself, Prof. Alexander Buzgalin says that he returned from a vacation in the countryside to find Gorbachev was arrested, Yeltsin was leader and the Soviet Union was no more Ė with host Paul Jay

Aleksandr Buzgalin is a Professor of Political Economy at Moscow State University. He is also editor of the independent democratic left magazine Alternatives, and is a coordinator of the Russian social movement Alternatives, author of more then 20 books and hundreds of articles, translated into English, German and many other languages.

Story Transcript

PAUL JAY: Welcome back to Reality Asserts Itself on The Real News Network. Iím Paul Jay, and weíre continuing our discussion with Professor Alexander Buzgalin. Thanks for joining us again.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Iím glad to be here and to talk with you.

PAUL JAY: I should say, weíre in New York City, this is not our normal studio. One more time, Professor Buzgalin teaches political economy and is Director of the Center for Modern Marxist Studies at Moscow State University. So, we got ourselves up to- youíre now on the Central Committee in your early thirties-

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: And the Soviet Union is nearly collapsed.

PAUL JAY: And theyíre blaming you for it. Well, they certainly did blame Gorbachev for it, and weíre talking about, you were saying that thereís a rise within the party and within the party leadership of people who want to get rich, who had kind of given up on the socialist ideals. I guess they either decided it isnít working or didnít matter because they want to get rich. And while the internal factors may have been the most important, the Americans are very active in all this. Their dream is to bring down the Soviet Union. Talk about that period, and you have a very unique viewpoint, being on the Central Committee.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: So, first of all, it was really an extremely contradictory situation, because from one hand, we had the growth of social creativity from below. We had the first attempts to build self-management in the enterprises. And the most that did it were people in big scientific production complexes. We had, in Soviet Union, like corporations, where we had research centers, production, social infrastructure, and so on. And typically, these groups, these classic corporations, had very skilled people and they had big intentions. And it was all Soviet Union council of workerís collectives. A very interesting structure. And the last Congress, with one thousand delegates, where they participated, was very strong and important. And itís not a well-known part of the story of the Soviet Union.

We had good interest in initiative of the young generation to build, on a cooperative basis, new houses for the life. It was very interesting initiatives in the Green Movement, which appeared from below, and so on and so forth. At the same time, from another hand, we had terrible growth of contradictions because criminal business, which existed in Soviet Union, became stronger because of the whole destruction of the institutional system. Weak institutions led to the growth of shadow economy and criminal business. A lot of former directors of state enterprises were waiting, that it will be privatization, and were trying to steal as much as possible of the resources.

PAUL JAY: This is before-

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Just before collapse of the Soviet Union.

PAUL JAY: People see it coming. Whatís Gorbachev doing about this? Or does he want this to-

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Yeah, and- he was talking. And this is one of the problems. You know, there is this definition of revolutionary situation by Lenin, and he wrote very important things. Revolution came when those who are on the top cannot be rulers more, according to the old model. So, this is a crisis of the top. And we had crisis.

PAUL JAY: Not fit to rule.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Yeah, not fit to rule. And people were trying to find another solution. And what was important, we had a lot of myths created with assistance of the West, but not by the West. One of them was a myth about market. And market, for majority of Soviet people, was associated with supermarket, with a lot of commodities. It was the strikes of the miners, a very interesting initiative from below, who wanted to change the situation. I participated in the Congress and the leader of the minerís strike said, ďWe want to have capitalism, the factories will belong to the workers and not the Party and nomenklatura. We want to have capitalism, where we will have resources to buy whatever we want. We want to have capitalism, where everybody will have good apartments, and it will be no privileges of people who are rulers. We want to have capitalism where workers will decide what to do.Ē

PAUL JAY: They want to have capitalism without capitalists.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Yeah, without capitalists, without unemployment, without social stratification, and so on. It was an illusion. And unfortunately, it was created by many contradictions inside Soviet Union, which we discussed before. And main contradiction was interconnected with concentration of the power in the hands of bureaucracy, and the money of social creativity of the masses, and attempts to build consumer society, conformist society. Socialism cannot be conformist, consumer society. Socialism must move in the direction of self-organization, social creativity, anti-conformism, if you want. It should be disalienation, but not conservation of alienation in consumerist form. Iím sorry for this professorís language, but I cannot express this in any other terms. So, thatís why we had internal contradictions as main factor of self-destruction of this system. And we had chances for the changes, but here, a subjective factor could play a decisive role. 

PAUL JAY: How do you get to a point, after years of bureaucratization- but something new enters the picture, because itís not just bureaucratized, some mutation, of socialism. Now, people want to get rich and now people within the Party leadership and sections of the enterprises, within the elite, people have said enough, now we just want to cash in. How do you get to that?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: You already gave the answer, so I can say yes, you are right. And it was predictable. In the beginning of the Soviet Union, in writings of different people, from Mensheviks to Leon Trotsky, was made prognosis that if bureaucracy will have more and more power, and the control from below will be weak, social creativity will go down, the transformation of bureaucracy will be inevitable. They will have intention to transform themselves into the class of private owners who has both political power and economic power and no limitations, no frameworks.

Because even in bureaucratic period, in Brezhnev period of the Soviet Union, officials at the top had relatively small privileges. They had a lot of limits for their power and they had strong rules of the game. And so, the new generation who came, they wanted to have the same living standards as billionaires, as presidents and leaders of bourgeois countries. And that was main reason. Plus, as I said, decline, degradation of social creativity, led to the consumerism and conformism of majority of Soviet people. And conformism creates atmosphere where market system, capitalist system, is coming. Itís like a swamp where itís impossible to have beautiful trees, where there will be only dirty grass and frogs.

PAUL JAY: So, talk about that period, the rise of Yeltsin and the last days of the Soviet Union.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: So, still this is a big question mark. What happens, why we had this artificial coup díťtat, what was the role of Gorbachev, who was behind? I am not a person who has secret information, so I will not give special commands.

PAUL JAY: And weíre in 1991?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: It was August, 1991.

PAUL JAY: Where are you, what are you doing?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: I was in the vacation, so unfortunately, I could not participate in this process. I was in the countryside, in the forest, just to relax a little bit. It was my mistake. I didnít think that it will be so quickly-

PAUL JAY: So, most of our audience doesnít really know this story at all.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: So, in August, leaders of KGB and some other officials from the top said that Gorbachev is no more president of the Soviet Union. We have a special committee in emergency situations, and Gorbachev was formally arrested in his dacha in Crimea, where he was also on a rest. But then, they did nothing.

PAUL JAY: So, itís essentially a coup.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: It was coup, but leaders of the military coup must arrest the opposition, after all. But they did nothing. Yeltsin came to the house where there was Parliament of Russian Federation, people were walking in the streets with protests.

PAUL JAY: And who is Yeltsin, why all of a sudden, Yeltsin? Whatís the power behind Yeltsin?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Okay, so thatís another story. One year ago, he was elected as president of Russian Federation inside Soviet Union. Soviet Union had like states in the U.S., but with more powerful structure. It was republics, fifteen republics, and Russia was the biggest and in the center. And Yeltsin was elected as president of Russia. So, informally, he has not too big power, because republics inside Federation were not so powerful as central government. But when Gorbachev was arrested, Yeltsin became in Moscow a key person, according to official status. And all opposition came to Yeltsin to protect against coup. And it was both really democratic forces and pro-bourgeois, quasi-democratic forces.

PAUL JAY: To protect against a coup from whom?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: To protect Yeltsin against those who organized the coup díťtat. KGB leaders organized-

PAUL JAY: To protect Yeltsin from the KGB?


PAUL JAY: What did the KGB want?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: KGB wanted to stop transformation led by Gorbachev to rebuild Soviet Union. Itís also important to say that in Caucasus and in Baltic states, republics in that period, was growth of nationalism and ideas to become separate states, not states in the Soviet Union. So, the idea was, ďwe will use military force, we will keep Soviet Union, and all Gorbachev experiments, we will stop.Ē They said, ďwe will keep freedom of speech, but with limitations,Ē these organizers of the coup, ďwe will continue some market reforms.Ē

PAUL JAY: And this was mostly driven out of the KGB?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Some military leaders and a few people from- top officials from the Central Committee.

PAUL JAY: And they want to try to retain whatís left of the Soviet state.


PAUL JAY: Yeltsin represents these ďletís get richĒ factions inside.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Yeah, but these guys did nothing. They didnít arrest Yeltsin.

PAUL JAY: Why? KGB knows how to arrest people.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Yes, but they did nothing. There are different explanations. Again, I cannot explain this phenomenon, myself. One of the explanations was that Gorbachev decided to play a role of the person who is not responsible for this, and then came to power again with the assistance of the KGB, simply to beat Yeltsin, who became leader of opposition in that period. Another explanation was that they did not have a final agreement of what has to be done, these leaders of the coup. But really, nobody knows. Itís a very strange story, very strange.

PAUL JAY: So, this famous photograph and videos of Yeltsin on the tanks, what is that, then, what goes on there?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Yes, it was a few tanks and some soldiers in Moscow. But they did nothing. They were standing in the streets and did nothing. And the two guys who were killed-

PAUL JAY: This is outside the parliament buildings?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Outside, yes. And two guys who were dead, officially, because tanks killed them- really nobody knows what happened in reality- but I think the tanks were going back from Moscow and they accidentally were- because it was crowded, and when they decided to move from the square, two persons were really killed. And then they were transformed into heroes.

PAUL JAY: So, the section of the KGB and army that arrested Gorbachev, they allowed Yeltsin to come to power. Why? Did they say, okay, we might as well get rich too?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Really, I donít have an explanation, as I said. For me, this is still a big question mark, whatís happened. No idea. Only what I can say is itís a total crisis of the power. And the only person who was decisive and aggressive was Yeltsin.

PAUL JAY: Youíre on the Central Committee. Do they have an emergency meeting, or the Party just starts to fall apart?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: I didnít have time to come back from this village. Itís Russia, itís not so simple, even for a member of the Central Committee. When I was back, all was solved. And the Party also was paralyzed. It was total paralysis of legislative and executive organs. It was self-destruction of the elite.

PAUL JAY: So, youíre sitting in your cottage, on vacation- this is what, is it playing out for you on T.V.? I mean, do you know whatís going on?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: First of all, I didnít have any information. On T.V., it was on barely. The whole time only barely and nothing else. When I received- telephone was not working. It was a real village, and it was one telephone three kilometers from this place. So, when I found this telephone, I could not reach anybody in Moscow. So, after one day, I went to the regional center and received, more or less, information. But when I was back in Moscow, it was nothing.

PAUL JAY: Were you surprised or expecting it?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: No, I was very surprised, of course. And I was afraid that something like that can happen, but not coup. I was afraid that it will be coup organized by republican leaders, Yeltsin and leaders of the Baltic Republics, Caucasus Republics, and so on.

PAUL JAY: And you donít think the KGB was actually in cahoots with Yeltsin?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: I donít think so. I think what was real- the only hypothesis which I can propose is the following; it was informal, indirect, not final agreement with Gorbachev, and Gorbachev, it was his personal problem. He was not decisive. He could not make exact decisions, he was changing decisions very often. And he doesnít know what has to be done. And he was a very weak leader, and for such periods, itís necessary to have a strong leader, because personality, in the period of revolution, plays a big role, bigger than usual. In a stable system, personality is not important, or nearly not important. In the period of revolutions, strong personality and strong political organization is very important if this personality is on the top.

PAUL JAY: Well, in the next segment, weíll pick up. You come back from vacation, and itís not the Soviet Union, itís Russia.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Yeah, the Soviet Union is absent, the Communist Party is absent, and the whole situation is completely new, yes.

PAUL JAY: All right, so join us for the next segment of our interview with Professor Buzgalin on The Real News Network.

Leges         Sine    Moribus     Vanae   
if it has not works, is dead, being alone.


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Re: War Provocations and Peace Actions
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Is Putinís Rule a Dictatorship? Ė RAI with A. Buzgalin (8/12)

July 22, 2018

On Reality Asserts Itself, Prof. Alexandr Buzgalin says while Putin heads a powerful state, this is not a system of one man rule; more than 100 billionaires and a stratum of top bureaucrats have political power Ė with host Paul Jay

Story Transcript

PAUL JAY: Welcome to the Real News Network, welcome to Reality Asserts Itself, Iím Paul Jay. As you can see, weíre continuing our discussion in a new studio, but weíre still in New York City with Dr. Alexander Buzgalin.


PAUL JAY: Professor Buzgalin teaches political economy and is director of the Center for Modern Marxist Studies at Moscow State University. So, weíre going to pick up where we left off. You go on vacation for a lovely little August and you get away from it all, and you come back, youíre on the central committee, youngest member, I guess, maybe in history, I donít know, of the communist party. Youíre amongst the most powerful people in the county. And certainly, for decades and decades, the Soviet State looked like it would never go anywhere. And you come back from vacation and thereís no more Soviet Union.

The Communist Party, I think, is probably illegalized at this point. Yeltsin is the president, and so thatís kind of where we left off the story. We went a little bit further, we talked about the story of the next decade and the grab for cash, the emergence of the oligarchs and the many who came from the party itself and from the state bureaucracy. And we get to the end of the Ď90s with a fairly established class of now billionaires or becoming billionaires, and a very chaotic state. And Putin becomes the new leader, and thatís sort of where we left off.

The sort of common narrative of this period after Putin becomes leader is that this is the story of the rise of a one- man dictatorship. And this is what the story of this whole next period of the Russian state is. What do you make of that?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: First of all, we do not have, and we didnít have from the very beginning, dictatorship of Putin. In the beginning of his epoch, in the beginning of twenty-first century in our country, we had another style of life. It was continuation of the power of oligarchs with top officials. It was partnership and friendship with the West in the beginning, by the way. Partnership with NATO, partnership with the United States, even later, Putin was main advocate for joining to WTO. In Russia, we had very big opposition.

PAUL JAY: World Trade Organization.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Yeah, World Trade Organization. Majority of Russian, even business people- not majority as far as money was concerned, but in terms of businessmen. Is concerned. So, majority of even business people we against joining to WTO, to World Trade Organization.

PAUL JAY: So, Putin advocated more of an integration with the Western capitalism.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Yeah, Putin advocated, he became- I would say, in the modern sense of this word. Only after crisis, 2007, 2009- before, it was only some elements, some trends, maybe. And about democracy and dictatorship. In that period, we had growth of statism, but mainly in ideology, growth of Russian conservatism, but mainly in ideology, and it was not so strong. It was domination of liberal ideas before crisis, world crisis, 2007-2010. That was the trend. And it was, I want to remind, period when we had enormously high prices on oil and gas. It was up to one hundred fifty dollars per gallon. And Russia had an enormous amount of dollars for really nothing. And it came, it led to the enormous enrichment of oligarchs, but also some resources came to workers in budget sector, education, healthcare, to bureaucracy. It was enormous growth of bureaucracy and a little bit for ordinary workers and peasants.

PAUL JAY: And we talked earlier, in the previous segment, about even most of the oligarchs, as in medieval times, realized there needed to be a king because the competition between the oligarchs would threaten the systems of the oligarchs, and they needed a state to play that kind of role. In terms of Putin and the role of that state, thereís a perception, again, in the West, that it kind of gets used in a way that enhances Putinís power in a sense that he can favor these oligarchs, and disfavor those, and a sense the state becomes more important than the oligarchs.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Itís true and not true. If any oligarch, and billionaire- and in Russia, we have hundreds, more than one hundred owners of more than one billion dollars.

PAUL JAY: More than one hundred billionaires.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Yeah, and the country is not so rich as the United States or China, itís ten times, maybe, not less than ten times- many times less than the United States or China. So, if any from these oligarchs will decide to attack rules of the game or personally, president and his team, he will be in prison or he must immigrate, and so on. But that doesnít mean state became more important than class of oligarchs and top bureaucrats. First of all, it is not even class, it is strata inside class of bourgeoisie. We have very diversified class of bourgeoisie, very different types of bourgeoisie. And inside ruling strata, new nomenklatura is name which Voslenski used for Soviet bureaucrats. And now itís very similar. A few thousand people with families, kids and so on, who are real rulers who concentrate economic and political power.

PAUL JAY: Because they control ministries, regulation-

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Yeah, executive power. They control ruling party, administration of president, and they control main part of wealth of Russia. Seventy percent of Russian wealth is concentrated in the hands of less than one percent of population.

PAUL JAY: We know that number here.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: And key resources in the hands of a few families, one hundred, two hundred families. So, the problem is that they have common interests, but they have clans, like in, I donít know, court of Louis XIV or XV in France, different clans of aristocracy fighting between themselves. But generally speaking, it is one power, one strata of aristocrats who has power. The same in Russia. We have different clans, regional clans, clans that have connected with military-industrial complex, with oil and gas, with small difference between state gas and oil corporations and private gas and oil corporations. But difference is small because top managers of state corporation are also oligarchs. And the private owners of private corporations are in the control of bureaucracy.

So, in Russia, state and private means not too much. Itís not very big difference, unfortunately. And they have common interests. And these common interests led to stagnation of the economy because the development can be realized only if big money from this capital, oligarchic capital, bureaucratic capital, will be used for investments in high-tech technologies. And it will be redistribution of power, not simply of money, but redistribution of power. It will be new, active class. Class of engineers, creators, business people, but business, productive business people, not speculators and those who take land from the oil. And they will lose their power. So, if we have not simply growth, but development, new quality of development, this strata will lose their power.

Thatís why for them, itís not profitable to change economic, social, tendrils of life, of rules of the game, better to say. And for other population, this is stagnation, and stagnation on the low level with very big social differentiation. During last decade, we had more or less the same. After crisis, 2007-2010, it was ten percent decline of production. Then, we had small growth after five years, more or less the same level as 2007, then minus two percent plus one percent, zero plus two percent, near zero. And then finally, after twenty- I will finish on this. After twenty-five years of transformation from so-called inefficient economy of Soviet Russia inside Soviet Union, we have only plus fifteen percent, twenty-five years and only plus fifteen percent.

PAUL JAY: In productivity.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: In production, yeah, gross national product. Less than one percent per year during twenty-five years, all zig zags. And the quality is another.

PAUL JAY: Well, thatís kind of a dramatic number because, given computerization and such, productivity and gross national product in the West has gone far, far higher than that.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: And if you compare with China, which had similar problems, but China had minimum seven percent per year, and an average eight point five.

PAUL JAY: So, what does this mean in terms of the life of working people and what their expectations were? Remember, in an earlier segment you were saying everyone thought, ďGet rid of the Communist Party and socialism,Ē and everyone was going to have ďcapitalism without capitalists,Ē the utopia.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Utopia, unfortunately. So, first of all, as I said, during first years of so-called market reforms, shock without therapy, we had terrible decline of production, incomes, and social differentiation. We received real poverty. And before, it was impossible. And poverty for not only lazy people, liberal dogma, but intelligentsia became extremely poor, workers became extremely poor. After this, high prices on oil, life became a little better. But what we have now- letís move to modern situation. As I said, twenty million people from one hundred fifty, little less, in Russia, are living under the poverty level. And poverty level is ten thousand rubles. Ten thousand rubles is one hundred-

PAUL JAY: Say that again?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Ten thousand rubles is poverty level.

PAUL JAY: And how many people below that?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: We have twenty million people who has less than ten thousand rubles.

PAUL JAY: At this time?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: At this time. And this is continuation. Before, it was sometimes little less, sometimes little worse, but more or less the same. What is ten thousand rubles? It is one hundred sixty dollars per month. Of course, purchasing power of dollar is high, but if you want to buy normal equipment, you will pay even more than in the United States. If you want to buy bread, it will be a little less. So, thatís why it is poverty. Wage of majority of Russians, working Russians, is less than thirty thousand rubles per month. This is five hundred dollars. This is not poverty, but still, country is rich with oil.

PAUL JAY: The majority of people earning that wage.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Fifty percent has less than five hundred dollars per month. And in the same time, we have one of the best, second or so place as far number of billionaires is concerned. Billions, not of rubles, but billions of dollars. And they are buying football teams, palaces, two hundred thirty meters long yachts, and so on. It is a country with such situation.

PAUL JAY: So, Putin is the face of this system, whether he has as much power as people think he has or not, heís powerful and the state is powerful. But heís the face of this system. Why, if in fact heís running at seventy percent or so popularity, if thatís true, why?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: This is big question.

PAUL JAY: So, weíll talk about why Putin seems to remain so popular in spite of tremendous inequality of the society. So, please join us for the continuation of Reality Asserts Itself with Professor Buzgalin on The Real News Network.

Leges         Sine    Moribus     Vanae   
if it has not works, is dead, being alone.


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