by Ramin Mazaheri
Of course the biggest coup of them all is the American Deep State (now available for the first time ever!) against Trump.
After that the biggest coup was the one against Mohamed Morsi, because Egypt is more than double the size of Ukraine. Seems like Morsi’s problem was that his “Islamist coup” was approved by referendum and thus not a coup at all. What Erdogan learned from Egypt was that he had to go big with autocracy when it was his turn to make a coup. I mean, only after there was a coup against him….
Coups seem like a dime a dozen these days! There’s hasn’t been one in Iran and there isn’t going to be one (just sayin’), but what appears to be rarer are states of emergency.
For the West, all coups are obviously not created equal, and neither are states of emergency. Just take a look at Amnesty International – the West’s sainted NGO nonpareil. This is from their 2017 guidebook on human rights:
Amnesty begins their section on France: “In response to several violent attacks, the state of emergency was extended 4 times….”
Amnesty begins their section on Venezuela: “The government declared a state of emergency which was renewed 4 times.”
The problem, subtle though it may seem, is that the sweet, glorified secretaries who compiled this – with their oh-so-pure hearts, and their faces pretty enough to be considered out of your league, you bozo – decided that France merits context, but not Venezuela.
Furthermore, it implies that terrorism – the West’s bête noire,, or more honestly, their raison d’être – is a sufficient justification for extending a state of emergency four times, but Venezuela’s situation is not sufficient.
For romantic France the NGO do-gooders will rationalize away without concern for the calendar, even though the crisis in Venezuela drastically affects everyone, is not 99.9% paranoid nightmares, and even though the Venezuelan government is actually trying to grant more democratic power to the average person instead of decreasing their power.
Macron’s state of emergency hides a very real coup
Today, French Parliament began debating the series of decrees new President Emmanuel Macron and his governments intend to make the law (mainly to enforce another roll back to the labor code); parliamentarians can only vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’, and therefore…Macron has usurped their power to actually be a part of writing the laws.
To put it another way: Macron the monarch decides the labor code for us serfs. This is a coup of the executive branch against the legislative branch.
It is unacceptable, it is what Nicolas Maduro’s government is being vilified for in the West, and Macron is not being decried in sufficient numbers in the West; contrarily, it is being rationalized and encouraged in a much, much larger proportion.
French law, because Macron’s powers are technically found in the constitution (like Maduro’s), says this is not a coup. However, France’s constitution sucks, to put it crudely, and that is why their #4 presidential candidate got 20% of the vote this year – his main plan was to create a 6th Republic.
You can go on and on how the letter of the law is the same as the spirit of the law all you want, but when politicians take advantage of the inherent weaknesses of the society they are elected to defend and support, that is betrayal. Macron’s power grab shows the absolute failure of France’s “modern” democracy, which is why so many want a new, more democratic 6th Republic.
Creating a more democratic constitution is what Maduro is guilty of trying to do, but we can’t move on to that because this is not even media-darling Macron’s only coup!
Macron just extended the state of the emergency for a 6th time, and it will be the last. The appalling reason it will be the last is that a leaked bill shows that Macron intends to make all of the special police powers of the state of emergency common police practice – “warrantless ______ if national security is invoked” (fill in the blank).
This is the 2nd part of Macron’s coup: You cannot make the Interior Minister – the nation’s “top cop” or “top prosecutor” – into the “top judge” as well! The conflict of interest is obvious, and that’s why even the pro-imperialist autocrat General De Gaulle didn’t set up the 5th Republic that way – he couldn’t get away with it.
If Maduro tried to neuter BOTH branches in the way Macron is…no can one believe that the West would not be up in arms, with armies, paid mercenaries and cute NGO secretaries at the ready.
The Amnestys of the West will make tiny squeaks about Macron’s double coup, and then safely vent their little-girl PC indignation on big, bad, unromantic socialist darkies like Venezuela (no assembly-line love for them!).
This is the true context which I am unfortunately not permitted to add to Amnesty’s publications: “The West (the US-led “5 Eye Nations”, the EU and many of their allies) is repeatedly using terrorism to promote right-wing measures economically, politically and culturally.”
What Maduro is proposing is nothing even similar to what Macron has done: Maduro’s attempted coup is against the rich. And for that I should be damned for even proposing to give it context….
Rewriting a constitution – bad. Usurping a Constitution – good.
Maduro’s call to rewrite the constitution with a Constituent Assembly in August – how is that inherently illegal or terrible? Changes are what happen in life as well as politics – the only questions are the moral basis and outcome of those changes. The Venezuelan government is going to hold a referendum on the draft constitution, of course, so it may be democratically rejected – what on earth is the problem?
Fundamentally, the problem is that there can be no discussion of socialism, period, in the West. That is a Western cultural issue.
The political issue is: It is “anti-democratic” in that it grants more power to the People by reducing the power of the Rich Individual. This is also anathema in the Western view of democracy.
The proposed changes will learn from Cuba, where 50% of parliament comes not from election but from grassroots/communal organizations.
This is a far, far cry from the much-ballyhooed “civil society” which makes up half of Macron’s new Parliamentary majority – they are nothing but CEOs, bosses and lobbyists.
Macron’s PMs are tied to the elite and not to the grassroots anything, except for the fine fescue yards of their second homes in southern France. They are all for keeping those service jobs to keep that fescue green, of course, but heaven forbid those workers get a decent wage and try to move up the ladder – think of the difficulties the rich have in finding good servants, after all!
Maduro’s “sectorial” representation scheme is criticized as being a form of “indirect representation,” even by the right-wing Chavistas (alleged Chavistas, I would say). The must unamusing irony of this is that voting for parliament members is…indirect representation as well.
However, Latin American Socialism rejects this form of representative democracy as being insufficiently democratic for the reasons which are so clear in France today (betrayal of the Socialist Party on austerity, betrayal of Macron’s party to defend the historical powers of the legislative branch, etc.).
The West hates this idea of Venezuela’s, because they are not for direct representation – they are for the rule of the 99% by the 1%, as we all know.
The key, as usual with Maduro and his comrades, is two sides of this precious coin: A pillar of their method of governance is to make sure they operate on firm legal principles, but…they are an oil-rich, formerly colonized, emboldened leftist society which is the target of foreign nations which will work 100% illegally to ruin them.
Maduro and the ‘gradual revolution’ of the Bolivarian Movement
Can a revolution be “gradualist”? Venezuela is perhaps the best example of this question today.
This is why Maduro deserves enormous credit: he is obviously relying on the peoples’ support for the moral/political tenets of Chavismo because, amid major economic and political disruption, he is willing to move+ legally and methodically.
Venezuela’s grassroots model is – you guessed it – cribbed from Cuba. Maduro believes, rightly or wrongly amid $50/barrel oil, that Cuba has become so successful, normal and inevitable that the people will support following their model.
However, does Maduro realize that the West will employ the same warfare against him as they did and are still doing to Cuba? I’m sure he does, and that’s why he’s moving – not a revolutionary pace, but he’s moving, and the Constitutional Assembly begins on July 30.
The idea that Venezuela is “in no condition” to hold a constitutional referendum right now is pure nonsense. Westerners can’t have it both ways: that establishment made barely a squeak about the legality of Mali’s election in 2013, even though they were in the midst of a civil war and hundreds of thousands of voters were displaced. Why? Because new president Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is a neo-colonial puppet of France, of course. Maduro, thankfully for the Venezuelan people, is no Western puppet.
Any true leftist hopes that the food shortages and inflation problems result only in the targeted anger against the rich bourgeoisie, and in this case that is represented by the current National Assembly.
Let’s remember: Macron’s majority in the National Assembly will vote to grant Macron the power to rule by decree – they are willingly sidelining themselves! They are willingly sidelining the highest organ of representation granted to the collective/communal will in France: the voting district of a parliamentarian.
Obviously, on a theoretical level, Venezuela’s Western-influenced National Assembly can be expected to be no different from France’s National Assembly: it inherently prioritizes the influence of the individual (politician) over the group (grassroots organizations, unions, collectives, etc.).
Because the Venezuelan opposition is so clearly pro-Western and so supported by the West we must always remember that the West’s vision of revolution is totally bourgeois; even when they win, it is to go backwards to protect the 1%.
Any popular revolution must occur solely from within: 1917 had no foreign help, 1979 Iran had no foreign help, etc., – they succeeded because they were supported by the only group that matters: the citizens. Yet the opposition to the Maduro government is clearly in cahoots with innumerable foreign leaders and organizations.
Finally and to repeat: Maduro’s proposed changes can only be approved in a referendum. Therefore, the real attempted coup here is Venezuela’s legislative branch against the executive branch, a reversal of Macron’s coup (one of his two coups).
However, others say the rich bourgeoisie in Venezuela is not the parliamentarians, lobbyists and funders, but the boliburguesía: the top state officials/military class of Chavismo.
To be fair, all Socialist revolutions must guard against creating a rich bureaucratic class. It seems highly likely that the young in Venezuela look at the older (and thus inevitably more empowered) class, combines that with the current shortages and inflation, and thinks – “I can sure do better than this”. This is all quite logical, and it represents an opportunity, a danger and a reality to be accommodated.
Mao was well aware of this, and he led the extremely, extremely, extremely misunderstood Cultural Revolution, which saw a leader at the height of his power willingly refuse even more power and instead devolve it to the young in order to keep the Revolutionary ideals fresh. Thus you had students taking revenge on power-drunk teachers, etc…. And let’s note that support for Chinese support socialism remains unflagging today….
The “Gradual Revolution” makes one wonder if Venezuela can accommodate this reality? We can term this “the youth question”, which should stand right alongside other key socialist questions like “the nationalism question”. In the capitalist West, the solution to the “youth question” is: yoke them to as much debt as possible (university, housing) and make them willing, permanent serfs.
The USSR could not answer either the youth question or the rich bureaucratic class question, and their boliburguesía created a black market capitalist Second Economy which, unleashed by Gorbachev, devoured one of the world’s enlightened, intelligent, inspirational societies.
However, what is critical to theoretically understand is that the boliburguesía cannot be the main problem in Venezuela because the original bourgeoisie was never truly deposed: It has always been the “Bolivarian Movement”, after all – Venezuela never truly had a popular revolution, like Iran or the USSR, which swept them out.
There is no doubt that some members of Venezuela’s National Assembly and their supporters is obviously cahooting with foreign powers and rich foreign capitalists. The allegedly corrupt members of the boliburguesía have the very significant advantage of being at least not foreigners: Without sovereignty, there is no nation, only corporation – that is capitalism.
Nobody has said Maduro – for a host of reasons – has led the most effective government the world has ever seen, but he has indeed played by the rules. Playing by the rules requires a lot of faith in the people so, again, one should salute Maduro and his government.
But I would remind Maduro: Morsi’s constitution was passed in a referendum, yet look where he and Egyptian democracy currently are….
Whose state of emergency is more brutal: France’s or Venezuela’s?
Such a question is probably what Syrian government soldiers think of when they need something easygoing and peaceful to relax their mind after a hard day of defending…
Yes, more have died in Venezuela protesting than in France. However, the conversation cannot stop here, or else it is incomplete and thus misleading.
Of the 90 or so deaths so far, Venezuelan security forces are implicated in only around 20, full stop. The pro-Chavismo labor leaders, student leaders, security forces and protesters who have died at the hands of the opposition clearly must equal or even outweigh the crimes of the government.
This is critical, yet the West clearly asserts that only Chavismo is violent and that the opposition are all angels. That does not add up, and thus is morally reprehensible and intellectually unsatisfying.
And, over 20 members of Venezuela’s security forces have been arrested for actions taken against protesters. In France only 1 protester has been recently killed, and that cop was just exonerated (there always are over here – this protester was even White, but still…).
But the arrest numbers are nearly identical: In Venezuela it stands at 3,132, and in France it was at least 2,000 during last year’s protests.
Let me guess: You’re going to say that I’m comparing apples and bowling balls; or that I’m just looking at quantity (statistics) and not quality (necessary context to properly understand statistics).
I agree – the situation in Venezuela is far, far more intense on every side: opposition, government, citizen, foreign involvement, etc.
But I make the comparison not to whitewash the mistakes of the Venezuelan government, but to illuminate the disproportionate response of the French regime.
Amnesty – a day late and a dollar short, as usual when it comes to Western crimes – reported last month that of the 155 demonstrations banned by ex-president Francois Hollande, 90% were associated with last year’s labor code protest (how many more were strangled in the cradle from fear?). At least 650 pro-democracy activists were placed under house arrest. Of course, terrorism-rationalizing Amnesty did not include the 4,000+ terror-related house raids and house arrests…because they are 99% against Muslims.
Here is the “unaskable question” in the West: How is any of that justified in order to reduce a labor code in order to “restore economic growth”?!
That is the crux of the biscuit. The Venezuelan government appears far more justified in a state of emergency, of any level of intensity, because they have been nearly besieged by protesters whose leaders have literally supported armed coups in the recent past!
But brutality, we must concede, is not only about blood on the streets. Tens of thousands of people were killed by the Shah during the course of the Iranian Revolution, but I’ve never heard anybody mention that in English. (Of course, like Venezuela, Iran never merits context either….)
It is simply unmodern to pretend to not know about psychological warfare, as well as the brutal, dehumanizing and long-term effects it can have on a population.
Creating a legal police state dictatorship (the official term for France’s current state), gutting the labor code repeatedly, bailing out bankers and selling off France to the highest bidder – all of this is psychologically brutalizing to the French people.
Why? Because it reduces their security for work, lodging, education, health and all these things which humans need to live; these are things which human beings need to avoid thinking they live in a horrendous, animalistic scramble for resources.
Therefore, what else can you say but that people in France are being forced to live in a psychological brutal state of mind?
Venezuelans are facing psychological brutality because there are shortages of food and good. This problem is not only not being alleviated by foreigners but is being exacerbated. So, their government’s installation of a police state appears more reasonable. But France’s installation of a police state, and the plan to make it permanent?
Apples and bowling balls: not in terms of government responses, but in causes. And yet there is a very, very, very different treatment from the Western-dominated establishment.
Maduro’s faith in his people appear as boundless as Macron’s faith in himself
The most appalling thing is that France is so much richer than Venezuela: It is shameful for a rich country to have so many advantages and yet perform so less capably and ethically. Then, on top of it all, to claim moral superiority (and even be widely believed, because they are richer in media power as well).
And this is why we all hate Western rich people – they have no sense of responsibility, nor even of unity, in the individualistic West.
Venezuela’s National Assembly is an outdated outgrowth of the aristocratic sense of superiority, but in 2017 such aristocrats are simply rabidly competitive, Machiavellian, self-serving and narcissistic. All of these attributes have been fairly levelled against Macron, who has the gall to openly say that he aspires to a “Jupiterian presidency”. This appallingly godlike goal for himself should be enough for immediate recall in a true democracy….
You cannot say that “all politicians are the same” – Maduro has flaws, but does he openly aspire to rule in a godlike fashion? No, he is aspiring to get a better democratic model approved.
Chavismo is showing tremendous faith by going so slowly, by following the constitution, by freeing “political prisoners” who led and promoted foreign backed coups, etc.
However, taking a larger historical view for ourselves, we understand clearly that the Bolivarian Movement is not a revolution because they are following Cuba. Cuba was the revolution. The process in Venezuela is, therefore, simply the part of a historical trend. (Similarly, I have speculated that Syria could be a part of a historical trend sparked by the Iranian Revolution.)
In truth, only the opposition in Venezuela is trying to make a revolution of the existing order.
The Bolivarian Movement may not be a revolution, but that certainly does not mean it isn’t progress. And that doesn’t mean that foreign and reactionary forces won’t fight against it.
Maduro keeps playing by the rules in order to give more power to the disempowered individual; Macron takes advantage of the rules in order to grab more power for himself at the expense of the People.
“Coup” or not, but therein lies a world of difference.
Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television.