All posts by BabakJoy2014

Another article I wrote on the 2014 protests in Hong Kong in response to Assadist & libertarian accusations that the millions of protesting Chinese were stooges of the CIA & National Endowment for Democracy–the same fundamentally racist accusation they used against the Egyptian Arab Spring.

October 19, 2014
Many articles insist the Hong Kong democracy movement is orchestrated by the US State Department, because the National Endowment for Democracy (NED)–which is a US government agency likely chock full of CIA operatives–fed money to some organizations & activists. Those who make these allegations have read too many John LeCarre novels or listened too much to Alex Jones–& have participated in politics too little. Of course the US government is involved; they have vested interests in the outcome. But suggesting these protests are CIA street theater rather than a profound social movement for democracy is politically shabby & plays into the hands of reaction.

The CIA & other US agencies have a long-standing policy of intervening in political movements all over the world. There are volumes written on this, some books now decades old. All the most important social movements (including the US Civil Rights, women’s, labor, antiwar, & socialist movements) are/were infiltrated by provocateurs using bribery, blackmail, & other corrupting practices. It’s what undercover operatives do. That does does mean the entire movement is compromised nor does it render the entire movement bankrupt.

Too much has been written by conspiracy thinkers claiming the Arab uprisings are a sting operation of Mossad & the CIA; many circulated rumors that the Brazil anti-World Cup protests of millions were taken over by fascists; competing political forces have made a cacophony of dissenting analyses of Syria & the Ukraine. Now, based on a shred of evidence & massive speculation, some are on a band wagon denouncing the Hong Kong movement because the NED dished out dough to some participants. Does it surprise anyone that Beijing is making the exact same claim?

Some people who make these claims about the Hong Kong protests are Maoists, shamelessly attempting to cover for the undemocratic regime in China. Many are libertarian thinkers who have no respect for working people as the agents of social transformation & think they are only pawns in international espionage. Where will this nonsense end!? Those who don’t recognize the compelling realities of a mass social movement demanding democracy need to get out of the game & take up crocheting. Conspiracy models of social uprisings serve reaction, not justice. In many ways it’s just a shade away from the Zionist claim that Hamas rockets are the problem in Gaza rather than Israeli apartheid & ethnic cleansing.

In 1968, the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia to suppress the movement for democracy called the Prague Spring. Both Soviet & capitalist media reported the movement as anti-socialist–of course because that deceit served the interests of both. It justified suppression for the USSR & it discredited socialism for the US. But what the movement was demanding was democracy; they wanted democratic freedoms & the end of a police state. The point of the comparison is that misrepresenting & discrediting progressive movements is an old game that always plays into the hands of reaction, undercuts solidarity, & buttresses continued tyranny.

So who are these protesters in Hong Kong? They’re students, union organizations, & unaffiliated working people. Likely a section of them are even anti-communist & identify capitalism as democratic. Call it heresy, but that doesn’t invalidate their struggle for democratic suffrage one iota. They’ve been out on the street now for nearly three weeks (since Sept. 28th), setting up an Occupy encampment in Admiralty, the central business district & venue of financial institutions & government buildings. They also set up encampment in Mong Kok, a major commercial district with high end retailers & catering to the tourist & entertainment industry, particularly the sex industry, with brothels, massage parlors, nightclubs, & bars run by criminal cartels.

Democracy activists paralyzed commerce & traffic in both districts with makeshift metal, bamboo, & umbrella barricades. Since billions of dollars of business are transacted in Hong Kong & at least 44 banks were closed due to protests, business analysts are worried about the negative economic impact of the protests. Some alarmists speak of the need for financial markets to move to Singapore to escape the instability; some are concerned foreign investors will shy off. A few expressed indignation at the illegal character of the protests which defy a local ordinance that protests of more than 50 people must have police permits. It’s a good thing those analysts are good are making money because they stink at politics.This could be taken as a petulant & pissy complaint. But of course, it’s because they answer to the capitalist tycoons who run Hong Kong like a mafia. What’s regrettable is they differ so little from the Chinese “socialist” regime.

The People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese government, issued a condemnation on October 1st which also calls the movement “an illegal gathering” which is “disrupting social order & harming Hong Kong’s economic livelihood.” It goes on to threaten that if the protests continue the “consequences will be unimaginable.” When you have the untenable situation of Hong Kong called “one country, two systems” & you can’t tell the difference between the two political systems, & when you have ostentatious wealth juxtaposed to thousands living in basement chicken coops, you gotta ask, ‘just where does the socialist side of that equation manifest’? And you have the cauldron that foments revolution.

It’s not certain which of the two systems governs Hong Kong’s riot cops because they act just like the ones at Tiananmen Square in 1989 & those we’ve experienced in all the political uprisings around the world. Starting last Tuesday, police using pepper spray & tear gas moved on the Admiralty & Mong Kok encampments, drove out the protesters, & armed with bolt cutters, chainsaws, & sledgehammers, dismantled the barricades.

Media has been reporting about scuffles between democracy activists & disgruntled local residents or supporters of the Beijing regime who counter-protest, attempt to remove the barricades blocking the streets, & attack the protesters. Let’s get real! They’re more likely to be goon squads hired by the brothel owners or bouncers at the local strip clubs than neighborhood people or political reactionaries. Multinational businesses can’t ply potential clients with booze & prostitutes if they have to traverse barricades & encampments to get to the brothels.

Protesters using the umbrellas that have come to symbolize their movement as weapons & shields against pepper spray & tear gas battled with riot cops & retook Mong Kok on Saturday morning. They retook Mong Kok, but do the protesters stand a chance of forcing the regime’s hand? Will political power in Hong Kong remain in the hands of a tiny elite of capitalist tycoons in league with the undemocratic regime in Beijing? Maybe for now they will only squeak out minor concessions; maybe Beijing will continue to let capitalist tycoons run the place. But a movement has emerged, the forces of social transformation have assembled. If that wasn’t making Beijing & the tycoons sweat bullets, Beijing would not have put up an internet firewall to prevent millions of discontent Chinese on the mainland from witnessing the undoing of the monstrosity called “one country, two systems.”

For our part, we salute the protesters in Hong Kong & extend our fullest solidarity.

Photo is an activist without umbrella or other defenses standing alone against the socialist-capitalist riot cops in a scene reminiscent of Tank Man in Tiananmen Square.

(Photographer unknown; from the FB wall of Gregor Benton)

Since influential creeps like Max Blumenthal & Jonathan Cook are casting aspersions & contempt at the Hong Kong protests involving at least seven-million Chinese, I am reposting two articles I wrote during the equally remarkable 2014 protests in Hong Kong.

September 30, 2014
One of the most famous & regrettable quotes of Mao Zedong comes from a speech he gave to the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party in 1938: “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” He went on to say: “All things grow out of the barrel of a gun. According to the Marxist theory of the state, the army is the chief component of state power.” And again: “In this sense we may say that only with guns can the whole world be transformed.” You gotta ask yourself where the hell Mao learned his Marxism. But we sure now know where the current Chinese regime learned theirs.

There have been several days now of spectacular, massive protests in Hong Kong over the democratic right of suffrage; that is, residents of Hong Kong want Beijing to drop its schemes to control elections in Hong Kong in order to install the same kind of politics they maintain on the mainland where one party backed by a mighty army determines who’s in charge & there is no electoral democracy.

Those in countries where parliamentary democracy prevails well know that popular democracy does not grow out of elections. More & more, elections are jockeying over figures from competing parties with identical politics or political programs only distinguished from bad to worse. More & more, we see maneuvers using elections to outsmart popular demands for democracy & the end of tyranny (as against the Egyptian uprising). More & more elections are a swindle because in one way or another the nominating process is controlled & election laws so prohibitive that only millionaires can afford to run. In most countries people tolerate this outrage & express their cynicism by boycotting elections & becoming politically passive. In Hong Kong, the democracy movement is taking a stand against these electoral manipulations & represents a fight for genuine electoral democracy.

Hundreds of thousands in Hong Kong are protesting China’s proposed electoral scam & will be doing so at the ceremony tomorrow marking the 65th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Protesters are occupying government buildings & the central business district of Hong Kong blocking traffic & closing down banks & businesses. That business district is where billions of dollars in Chinese trade & commerce transpires.

This year is also the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre which the active democracy movement in Hong Kong commemorates with annual protests demanding justice for those murdered & incarcerated. Tiananmen was an event where the Chinese regime tried to demonstrate Mao’s assertion that “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” The annual protests are held to counter that repugnant assertion with a demand for accountability by the regime for its crimes in Tiananmen.

There have been concerns expressed that China would in fact sic the army on Hong Kong protesters. Such an option can never be excluded but China would have hell to pay if it took that route. The stench & stigma of the Tiananmen massacre still has not politically dissipated. For now, Hong Kong riot cops are using extreme violence against protesters, including indiscriminate use of tear gas. Protesters, familiar with police brutality prepared for that eventuality with training exercises in how to handle tear gas attacks. Many showed up dressed in plastic, makeshift gas masks, & other equipment & are using umbrellas they used for a rain storm to defend themselves against tear gas attacks.

In a very real way, the struggle for democracy in Hong Kong is a struggle for the soul of socialism. If Mao is right that military repression is necessary for socialism, who in their right mind would want it!? If ‘only guns can transform the world’, who but criminal cartels & the National Rifle Association would want any part of it!? As the Hong Kong protesters show, as the Arab uprisings & anti-austerity protests & Occupy movement showed, social transformation is driven by the human demand for freedom & justice & peace. It is not political power that grows out of the barrel of a gun but tyranny.

Our fullest solidarity with our brothers & sisters in Hong Kong. May they shove those umbrellas where the sun don’t shine–up the keister of Chinese tyranny that still has Tiananmen to answer for.

(Photo of protest in Hong Kong on Sept 28th by Apple Daily/AP)

Because his politics are rooted in social climbing, Max Blumenthal is morphing right before our eyes into a rightwing propagandist hack. That Verso press, known as a publisher of radical literature, would publish Blumenthal’s latest book (about Islamophobia, no less) only speaks to a lack of political discernment among its editors–or possibly corruption .

There is a pattern to Blumenthal’s political corruption. Expressing his elitist & deeply undemocratic impulses, he always, without exception, champions repressive regimes & vilifies protesters struggling against those regimes for democracy as “Wahhabi-Salafi jihadi terrorists” although there is no evidence Blumenthal knows a damn thing about any religion, let alone Islam. He courts controversy as a way to keep himself the center of attention. But he has no political commitments except to self-aggrandizement & sucking up to state power.

After vilifying protesters against government repression in Nicaragua & Venezuela, after plagiarizing Vanessa Beeley in a scurrilous attack on the White Helmet rescue workers, now he has published a new attack on the Syrian Network for Human Rights, an NGO which monitors the Arab Spring uprising, including the civilian death toll, from the point of view of the protesters & in opposition to Assad. Blumenthal faults them for bias against Assad even though he says in the article there is “little doubt that the Syrian government presides over a harsh police state apparatus.” Knock-knock Maxie! There’s a revolution going on in Syria & in revolutions people usually choose sides: either for dictatorship or for democracy. His assertion about Assad’s brutalities has not made Blumenthal welcome in Assadist propaganda circles nor has Assad been willing to put him on the payroll with Beeley & Bartlett who regard Assad as the second coming of Jesus. Assad likes to be deemed a god & won’t truck with being called a brute. So Blumenthal is left, albeit with a considerable trust fund, to scrounge for a living as a ‘journalist’ & is ending up writing hack for whoever will take him.

Not content to leave bad enough alone, Blumenthal just posted a Mint Press (an Iran-based Assadist journal) article denouncing the 7-million protesters in Hong Kong opposing the Chinese government’s proposal to extradite criminals & arrested political protesters to the mainland for prosecution. Blumenthal, who is corrupt enough but not committed enough to be a Maoist apologist for the Chinese government, vilifies the protesters as stooges of the west. The first time we heard such a charge was against the Egyptian Arab Spring uprising; the last time was against Hong Kong protesters in the 2014 uprising involving millions. To the mind of a stinking elitist, working people are incapable of thought but only adept at violence.

Blumenthal has fellow travelers in his idiotic attack on the Syrian Network for Human Rights. Ali Abunimah, the editor of Electronic Intifada, plays an important role in Palestinian solidarity but is reactionary on everything except Palestine. Abunimah’s father Hasan Abunimah was a diplomat for the Jordanian monarchy & has written several pieces supporting Assad. His son parrots his views & promotes Blumenthal, a role which does not serve Palestinians, especially those incarcerated in Assad’s gulag.

The question, like the proverbial elephant in the room, is why Blumenthal is not putting his less than remarkable talents to exposing how that “US regime-change operation” is functioning in Syria? We don’t expect him to denounce Syrian & Russian bombing of civilians. He’s incapable of human empathy if it conflicts with self-promotion. But it you build your career on exposing “US regime-change operations,” wouldn’t you think he’d mention how it’s going at least once in a while?

(Posting photo of White Helmet & child injured in Syrian & Russian bombing. After he vilified them both as terrorists, I didn’t want Blumenthal’s smug face on my wall.)

Articles referenced in this post:

Sylvester Thomas Scully (1914-1984): electrician, champion gymnast, ballroom dancer, undocumented immigrant, father of 19. May he Rest In Peace.

My dad was a conservative, very religious Catholic. The best thing about him is that he absolutely would not tolerate racist comments or ever ridiculing someone else for any reason.

How could we forget that corrupt antiwar activists, like those who lead Women Against Military Madness in Minneapolis, now claim that Syrian & Russian bombing of civilians is not their concern, but only US bombing? It’s a damn good thing the millions around the world who protested the Vietnam War didn’t share that corrupt, racist, xenophobic point of view.

Idlib has so preoccupied my attention that I have not paid proper attention to the momentous events in Sudan nor to the massive pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong which numbered one-million last weekend & seven-million this weekend. That inattention will be corrected this week but meanwhile it is wondrous to see these phalanxes of Chinese activists again playing such a leading role in human history & in our struggle for democracy & equality.

This small girl being treated in a field hospital is one of the lucky children who has, at least for now, survived the relentless barrel bombing of Syrian & Russian war planes over Idlib. We really hope the fat-headed socialists (like the ones from the cult Socialist Action) who support this bombing to defend ‘self-determination for the Assad dictatorship’ will send another delegation, like the one they sent to kiss Assad’s ass, to explain to these men, women, & children that bombing them to smithereens, killing tens of thousands of them, & forcing millions into exile is the price they have to pay for an antiwar & socialist movement that is in the final stages of terminal decay.

Stop the bombing. Stop the war on the Syrian Arab Spring uprising.

(Photo from Bivi#Rise4Idlib on Twitter)

This is baby Zahiaan Uddin, a Rohingya newborn whose grandparents were born in Burma & stripped of citizenship. His parents were both born in Bangladeshi refugee camps without citizenship. Baby Zahiaan, whose parents found asylum in Ireland, was born in Ireland “as equal as everyone born on this island.”

We join with Rohingya activists in working for the day when that will be true for all their children wherever they are born, including in Arakan/Rakhine state, Burma.

(Tweeted by Rohingya Action Ireland)

This little girl Lana Fadel did not survive Syrian & Russian bombing of Idlib. May she Rest In Peace.

(Photo from Syrian source)