Raúl Zibechi on State Coups and Extractivism

To Clip the Wings of Coup D’Etats One Must Get Rid of Extractivism

By: Raúl Zibechi

This week the strategy of tension and chaos that United States agencies promote to destabilize governments was in evidence. If we take into account the most recent experiences, including the “Arab Spring,” we are able to conclude that State coups are just one of the various paths possible for evicting disturbing governments. Neither the Pentagon nor the White House bet on just one strategy for obtaining their ends, but they rather put into play a fan of converging and complementary actions.

The global economic crisis and the necessary contention for military expenditures (apparently the Southern Command saw its budget reduced by 26 percent, but it can have hidden entries) grant priority to “soft power;” in other words, mechanisms not so apparent as tanks and bombarding of government palaces. The communications media, legal and semi-legal action, including the masses in the streets, which always serve to legitimate unnamed projects, are some of the tools in use.

In the case of Venezuela and the destabilizing escalation that was staged hours after the publication of the electoral results, a group of messages emerge that time will permit completely unveiling, but that show the appearance of new and more refined strategies. To show not just the negative aspects of the juncture, one would have to mention that the almost unanimity of the Unasur members showed their support to Nicolas Maduro, including a rapid recognition on the part of Colombia’s President, Juan Manuel Santos.

In the South American region only the Paraguay of Federico Franco, who has only been in charge for a short time, is aligned with the United States. That is relevant because it shows Washington’s isolation and the growing autonomization of governments like Colombia. It seems evident that the destabilizing strategy is not convenient for anyone in this part of the world, very particularly a government that seeks peace que with the guerrillas with the opposition of the best ally of the warmonger George W. Bush, ex president Álvaro Uribe.

The consolidation of the regional institutions and alliances, as much the Unasur as the Mercosur, is proving to be an efficient barrier against the North’s interference in the South American region. Nevertheless, just like we establish that some governments don’t mechanically follow United States policy (Ollanta Humala and Sebastián Piñera don’t add themselves to Washington either), it is very probable that we are facing a relative autonomization if the laws of those same power centers.

I want to say that the laws do their own reading of the global reality and they also play their own game; above all when the tendencies toward a multipolar world are intensified. Five of the world’s 10 principal economies no longer use the dollar in their exchanges with China (Russia Today, April 14, 2013); among them, Russia, India and Brazil, but also Japan, an important US ally. Australia, another Washington ally, is the last country to set the dollar aside in its trade with China. India and Japan also started to effectuate transactions in their respective national currencies.

The new global reality hits in such a way at the imperial center that even its military expenditures fell, for the first time in 20 years. The United States has a 40 percent smaller participation of global military expenditures, which in 2012 alone fell 6 percent, while the military expenditure of NATO members in Europe contracted 10 percent (SIPRI, April 15, 2013). In contrast, military expenditures of the emerging nations grew continuously, although they are very far from the Pentagon’s defense budget.

Nevertheless, other less visible forces operate but just as destabilizing or more than the ones that we have known for a long time. I refer to the extractive model or “extractivism.” “With the extractive model of mega-mining and agro-businesses one cannot deepen democracy,” assures Diego Montón, a member of the Union of Rural Workers Without Land of Mendoza (Argentina) and the new continental coordinator of CLOC-Via Campesina (Página 12, April 17, 2013).

Extractivism is much more than a productive model and a model of accumulating capital. Strictly speaking, it forms part of the complex financial speculation that now dominates the world. It has predatory effects in our countries: it is creating a new power block, politically corrupting, polarizing, socially exclusive and environmentally predatory.

In the political, the extractive model needs a group of agents that feed on their immense profits (soy, open pit mining and several mono-crops), which hide their interests (universities, national or local governments, media and intellectuals). Hardly exaggerating, extractivism plays a disintegrating role similar to drug trafficking, because it destroys the social fabric, expels campesinos from their lands, swells cities to unsupportable limits and kills people, particularly the poorest, who don’t have access to a quality health care system.

In all the countries of our region, extractive paradises of global speculative capital or of expansionist interests of emerging countries like China, a long decade of extractivism has done nothing but strengthen the (political) right. I do not refer only to political parties or conservative politicians, but to a diffuse right, social and cultural, which promotes individualism, an atrocious and predatory consumerism with social links, almost fascist behavior towards the poor; in other words, against the youth of the popular barrios, in particular the people of the color of the earth.

Denouncing the coup d’etat is indispensible. Defending oneself from the Pentagon is urgent. Increasing militancy is key (not just declarations and deployments); but the extractive model continues breeding and creating gangs of conservative young people that seek ultra-right leaders.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Translation: Chiapas Support Committee

Friday, April 19, 2013

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2013/04/19/opinion/025a1pol

One Comment on “Raúl Zibechi on State Coups and Extractivism

  1. Pingback: Radio Autonomía: November 2013 SHOW | radio autonomia

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