Wednesday 27 February 2019

How Big Is Your Army?

Prone To Failure: Proclaiming class war without a large force of armed citizens at your back is a very dangerous thing to do. Just ask Juan Guaido, Venezuela’s CIA-trained “Interim President”, how much luck he’s having overthrowing his country’s democratically-elected president without the support of either the Police or the Armed Forces.

POLICE NUMBERS just topped 13,000. Forty years ago there were fewer than half that number – considerably fewer. Astonishingly, we now have almost as many cops as we do soldiers. At last count the New Zealand Defence Force numbered 14,921. Put those numbers together and the state’s coercive potential turns out to be not far shy of 30,000 highly-trained and fearsomely-equipped men and women. Those who allow expressions like “revolution” and “class war” to trip so merrily off their tongues should be required to explain where their 30,000 highly-trained and fearsomely-equipped men and women are currently hiding – just waiting for the word.

Proclaiming class war without a large force of armed citizens at your back is a very dangerous thing to do. Just ask Juan Guaido, Venezuela’s CIA-trained “Interim President”, how much luck he’s having overthrowing his country’s democratically-elected president without the support of either the Police or the Armed Forces.

Guaido can call the Venezuelan middle-class on to the streets and encourage his far-right student supporters to throw stones at the riot cops, but so long as President Maduro’s police officers and soldiers remain loyal, Guaido’s coup d’état will remain a busted flush. In the aftermath of this past weekend’s concerted campaign to force open Venezuela’s borders with Columbia and Brazil, Guaido’s only real hope of success lies in the USA and its reactionary allies lending him some armed men and women of their own.

Holding back all that stock-piled US “aid” and preventing all those Venezuelan emigres from flooding into the country is, therefore, crucial to the survival of Maduro’s Chavista regime. If the borders are forced open, then the way will be clear for the US equivalent of Russia’s “little green men” to slip across and start doing to Venezuela what Vladimir Putin’s soldiers-in-mufti (fighting alongside local rebel groups) did in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. If you’ve been wondering why Maduro is going to such lengths to prevent the breaching of his country’s borders, then wonder no more.

Not that you’ll hear the scores of journalists dispatched to cover the “liberation” of Venezuela from its socialist “dictator” talk about any of this. There has, to date, been almost no coverage of the fact that neither the Red Cross nor the United Nations’ relief agencies will have a bar of Guaido’s “humanitarian” effort. Again and again these organisations have attempted to alert the Western media to the fact that by so thoroughly politicising the delivery of humanitarian aid, the US and its allies have betrayed their real (and far from humanitarian) agenda.

Had these journalists been sent to cover the Trojan War, they’d have loudly insisted that the citizens of Troy were morally obliged to haul the departing Greeks’ giant wooden horse inside the city walls. Twenty-four hours later, as Troy’s temples burned, and its inhabitants were put to the sword, these same journalists would invite the watching world to join them in celebrating the “restoration of Trojan democracy”.

Beware of Americans bearing gifts.

The story is very similar with France’s Gillets Jaune. In spite of weeks of at times violent confrontations with the French authorities, and thousands of arrests, the “Yellow Vests” are no closer to their goal of evicting President Emmanuel Macron from the Élysée Palace. Notwithstanding their profound distaste for the job they’ve been given, the French Police continue to obey the brutal orders of their political masters.

A revolution without arms does not remain a revolution for very long. Just ask the unfortunate Chileans who fell under the killer blows of General Augusto Pinochet in 1973. They may have elected Salvador Allende, a self-described Marxist, as their President. Their Popular Unity Coalition may have won election after election. But, as a democratic government, they were obliged to persuade the unconvinced half of the Chilean electorate that the revolutionary changes the Left was seeking were worthy of their support. Not to simply impose them regardless. This they did not do.

As Ariel Dorfman, a leading left-wing intellectual of the tumultuous Allende years, later recalled in his bitter-sweet autobiography, Heading South, Looking North:

“It was difficult, it would take years to understand that what was so exhilarating to us was menacing to those who felt excluded from our vision of paradise. We evaporated them from meaning, we imagined them away in the future, we offered them no alternative but to join us in our pilgrimage or disappear forever, and that vision fuelled, I believe, the primal fear of the men and women who opposed us … [T]he people we called momios, mummies, because they were so conservative, prehistoric, bygone, passé … [W]e ended up including in that definition millions of Chileans who … should have been with us on our journey to the new land and who, instead, came to fear for their safety and their future.”

Our own progressive coalition government could benefit hugely from reading Dorfman’s memoir. Proposing measures that cause a large number of voters “to fear for their safety and their future” is never a wise course of political action. And those who urge the government to simply ignore and/or roll over the top of the “greedy fucks” who raise objections to its policies should be required to answer the question which veteran left-wing organiser, Matt McCarten, always asks of those demanding revolution and class war:

“How big is your army?”

To be followed immediately by: “And will it defend your revolutionary cause with the ferocity of 13,000 police officers and 14,921 members of the New Zealand Defence Force fighting to protect the status-quo?

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Tuesday, 26 February 2019.


The Veteran said...

Chris ... for the record your 14,921 for the NZDF includes 2,612 Reservists and 2,954 civilians while the 13,000 'police' includes just over 3,000 unsworn staff (civilians).

NZDF active duty personnel are outnumbered by the police. Their numbers have progressively reduced over the years while police numbers have increased substantially.

Tom Hunter said...

This is just getting embarrassing Chris. Watching you defend Maduro and the Venezuela socialist thugs and morons is starting to look worse than Bush defenders babbling on about WMD's in Iraq.

Jorge Ramos, well known reporter and interviewer with Univision, probably the largest Latino TV station in the USA, vaunted hater of all things Trump, and most things Republican and Right-Wing, was granted an interview with Maduro.

Except Maduro is so thick and sealed up in his wealthy little Socialist bubble that he did not realise that Ramos might actually ask real questions. In the interview things go badly, especially when Ramos shows Maduro video that Ramos himself had taken, of three starving kids looking for garbage off the back of a truck.

Maduro loses it so completely that he actually detained Ramos and his entire crew. Saner, wiser voices must have prevailed because they were released after a few hours and returned to the USA.

You can watch for yourself, and then tell me that Ramos is also a "CIA-trained" person.

Oh - and keep using the word "aid" in quotes. That's a crdibility keeper.

Andrew Nichols said...

Tom Hunter...Ever read Chomsky's "Manufacturing Consent"?
Read it if you havent and be embarrassed at how easily you've been conned into supporting yet another US selected regime change. Vietnam, Iraq, Libya, Syria...where does it end?
To think the US complains about some alleged Russian interference in its affairs!

Chris, Wrt the media omission of the Red Cross denunciation of the "aid" stunt, why should we be surprised? The corporate media dont exist to inform us and never have.

David Stone said...

@Tom Hunter
Those look like young men not kids Tom , and they don't look like they'r starving. Looks like a stage set-up to me.

Tom Hunter said...

Oh Gawd.... Chimsky - again. And yeah, I read the old fraud decades ago. My fave was always "What Uncle Sam Really Wants", which reads like most of the rest of his stuff. "Consent" was a bit different because it was his desperate get-out-of-jail-card for refusing to believe the worst of the Khmer Rouge after he'd hailed earlier as being "real" reformers - or as close to his Anarchist wet dream as possible.

I guess the Far Left had to have some sort of counter-attack, after decades of swallowing whole every piece of Communist propaganda there was from the likes of Walter Duranty, the trick was to project your gullibility onto your ideological enemies. What's next: Howard Zinn? John Pilger? Pete Seager? Woody Guthrie?

And in that manner, you did not of course address the actual reporter Jorge Ramos. You probably don't even know who he is, but I guess "Corporate Media" covers anybody who's not The Nation, Mother Jones or Z-Magazine - even a US Latino famous for lambasting the USA about all the same evils you undoubtedly do.

Looks like a stage set-up to me.
Of course, of course, of course. Has to be! The fact that it matches countless reports from literally thousands of Venezuelans, Human Rights groups, reporters, etc over the last decade.....

Nah - David Stone and Andrew Nichols will still slap their hands over their ears and scream "Manufactured Consent". BTW - haven't read or watched an MSM piece of shit for two decades. For all your yammering about "Corporate Media" it's strange how such a huge part of the Right Wing has dumped them and curses them more than you do.

As with all the rest of this, you old Far Lefters are behind the times, the world has turned upside down on you, and all you can do is reach into the ancient past and scream "Chomsky". One aspect I'm really enjoying about this is how all the Russia-Putin supporters are on your side with this one - including the same claims, only direct from RussiaTV.

Funny - and yet pathetic.

Anonymous said...

Are the old Ministry of Transport included in the total number of Police currently ?

I do agree though, there has been a huge growth off numbers over the years, and a lot of the blame can be attributed to how crime gets highlighted just before each election with the lock em up mentality, which makes headlines.

Hence, more, and more cops.

The Veteran said...

Anon 19.58 ... yes, they are sworn police staff.

Tom Hunter said...

Geoff Fischer said...

Chris wrote: "Those who allow expressions like “revolution” and “class war” to trip so merrily off their tongues should be required to explain where their 30,000 highly-trained and fearsomely-equipped men and women are currently hiding".
There are a few misconceptions here.
First, "revolution" is not synonymous with the very dangerous and destructive notion of "class war". Enough said on that point.
Second, revolution is not primarily about the seizure of state power.
A revolution is marked by a new way of being and of relating to others or a reversion to an older way of being and more natural social relations built on values of compassion, generosity, personal freedom of action and social responsibility. The magnitude of the coercive forces employed by an existing regime have no material bearing on the fortunes of a revolution thus conceived.
So true revolutions proceed by degrees, a cumulative process with small beginnings that at a certain point in its development may extend to the eclipse of the established political regime by a revolutionary alternative.
Third, it is possible for a nascent revolutionary movement to successfully defend itself against the established state even given a disparity of forces. Many tomes have been written on the strategy and tactics of "asymmetric warfare" by which small groups can effectively defend themselves against superior forces, and both recent and ancient history is littered with examples. In our own case, it would not require "30,000 highly trained and fearsomely-equipped" fighters to withstand and ultimately overcome the forces of the colonial state. We would not need one tenth, or even one hundredth of that number.
Ssying this to leftists familiar with history of the Chinese and Cuban revolutions should be akin to teaching grandma to suck eggs. Success, however, requires more than a plausible military strategy. The kind of "revolutionary Marxist" that Matt McCartney was presumably talking to would have known the Maoist theory of "peoples war" and therefore may have understood that his argument was fundamentally flawed.
Marxists, however, fail to take the logic of people's war to its conclusion. They believe that even if success does not depend on numeric equivalence of forces, it still requires a minimum ratio of revolutionary to state forces, and in practice they almost invariably deem that their own "forces" are inadequate to the task, which puts them squarely back in McCarten's camp, in practice if not in theory. They struggle with the idea that one person, with no others beside or behind him or her, can successfully defend a revolution.
Yet the only way in which a revolution can be defended and advanced is by individuals acting alone and saying "Here I stand. Even if the whole world be against me I can do no other". At some point several such persons will find themselves together in the same time and place, and at that point the conventional wisdom would have it that we are witnessing "the birth of a revolutionary movement".
That perception, however, is based on a misconception. A revolution is born of individuals who, singly and alone but for God, are so committed to an ideal that they will give all they possess and sacrifice their very lives in its defence.
As for Venezuela, I am not competent to judge, but would not choose to describe either Maduro or Guaido as revolutionary.

Nick J said...

Did not the Soviet Union with a huge military and police fail? They imploded by weight of moral bankruptcy. They lived the lie for too long, and eventually nobody could live with the lies any longer. We in the Wesr are following the same trajectory. No need to protest or arm yourselves.

Geoff Fischer said...

Nick J:
The Soviet Union may have failed through moral bankruptcy, but the Russia of the oligarchs, Putin's Russia, which has taken the place of the Soviet Union falls short of the utopian ideal, and many Russians would assert that it is no better than the system that it replaced.
We do not wish to follow "the same trajectory" and therefore we will not wait for the colonial system to implode, and then accept whatever regime arises to fill the vacuum.
The answer is not to "protest" against the colonial order, but to establish anew or strengthen existing institutions and communities which embody our collective values as a people, and which therefore sustain our lives in a positive and meaningful way.
Should we need to arm ourselves to do that?
No, except for the fact that our life depends on three things - our God, our people and our land.
We cannot be deprived of God, but we can be deprived of our land, and without the means to sustain ourselves, to cultivate gardens and orchards, to hunt game, to fish and to cut firewood, and do all the other things necessary to our life we cannot sustain our communities and thus our culture and our values.
So arms are only needed where and when there is a direct threat to our right to work the land. When that threat is removed, arms will serve no purpose beyond their use in hunting.

Nick J said...

Geoff, some interesting points re Russia. Agree they are an oligarchy, just like the West. No better than the Soviet? Actually immeasurably better, no gulags for class or thought" crimes", nor 2 million incarcerated as in the USA. Not perfect but look closely at the "free" West for a more realistic comparison.

On our colonial system you agree we are an economic colony of the "empire". You talk about strengthening our collective institutions, communities and shared values. I don't disagree, what your comment lays bare is the clash between liberal internationalism and a conservative parochialism. The latter I'd suggest is our insurance policy in a world in turmoil.

With regards to defending the ability to work our fields, arms help, however if we get to that point it won't be against our colonial masters or their stooge political class, they like the Roman legions will have long departed. The arms will be needed to ensure we can rebuild a cogent polity.

Will the "Empire" depart our shores? Two points. All empires fail eventually. The "Western" imperiums have been built and sustained by fossil fuels that are finite. Ergo......