Monday, January 4, 2010
Post-democracy and the new dictators
In this post-democratic age any politician who defends democracy is denounced as a tyrant or dictator. Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, Athmadinejad of Iran and many others have consistently been demonised in the Western press for their ‘anti-democratic’ politics. The reason for this is simple: All three leaders defend economic policies which favour the poor over the rich. This is their biggest crime. Now, before you shout me down, I should say that there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that Athmadinjad ‘stole’ the presidential election this year. I have pointed out in other articles that the so-called Green revolution agenda in Iran is part of a US-funded regime change project to replace Athmadinejad with a leader propitious to US interests in Iran. It was in reality an anti-democratic agenda.
There is no doubt that most of the young people in Iran want change but this desire for change is more cultural rather than political. I spoke to many students in my last visit to Iran a few months ago. What struck me about many of them was their deeply confused reasoning on international issues. Many students I spoke to admired Israel and the United States as paragons of democracy and progress, flagrantly denying the fact that these are two of the most aggressive states on the planet, both guilty of war crimes and genocide abroad as well as deep corruption at home.
The opponents of Athmadinejad have fallen from the Scylla of Islamic theocracy into the Charybdis of Western pseudo-democracy.The problem with the Iranian opposition groups is that their opposition to the cultural politics of the Islamic Republic has thrown them back into the hands of CNN and propaganda radio stations from Israel. Moreover, many of them express views of Arabs and in particular Palestinians that amount to racism. But in the west racism against Arabs is the norm. Every time the newspapers and TV channels refer the Israeli Defence Forces combating Palestinian ‘terrorists’, they are guilty of racism as they deliberately ignore the fact that the Israeli occupied territories are in breach of international law and if you defy the law you are a de facto criminal. Therefore, the Israeli state is as such a criminal entity. Moreover, Israel’s insistence on describing itself as a ‘Jewish’ state is outright racism, as it favours one ethnic community over others. Hamas is one of the only democratically elected organisations in the Middle East and in view of the fact that Israel chooses to ignore international law, their military struggle with Israel does not constitute terrorism. Hamas and the Lebanese Hezbollah are no less unlawful than the IDF, they are simply combatants in a protracted conflict.
President Athmadinejad of Iran has also been demonised for his statements concerning Israel. But his statement was as usual taken out of context. He did not call for the destruction of the Jews. On the contrary, he called for an end to Zionism. There are many anti-Zionist Jews both in Iran, Israel and throughout the world. Athmadinejad has Jewish ancestry himself and is supported by a majority of the Jewish community in Iran, the biggest Jewish community in the Middle East outside Israel. He also has support from anti-Zionist rabbis in Israel itself.
As for Hugo Chavez, here the vitriol, lies and anti-democratic propaganda reaches dizzying proportions. Hugo Chavez is a democratically elected president. Since he has come to power, he has provided free schooling for the country’s poor, free health care through generous help from Cuba and a free press for the first time in the country’s history. He has given hope to millions of the country’s poor and has overcome a US backed fascist coup against him and an international campaign to demonise him. Human Rights Watch and Reporters without Borders are the most notorious examples of mendacious propaganda against Chavez. I will reserve discussion of Venezuela and an exposé of the lies and propaganda of Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders for another article. But before I finish, it is important to debunk one of the biggest lies propagated throughout the world concerning Chavez. Unlike the US-backed dictators the ‘human rights’ activists in the opposition promote, Hugo Chavez has consistently promoted freedom of expression and freedom of the press in Venezuela. 95 percent of the media in Venezuela is privately owned by right-wing pro-us moguls. When the ‘human rights’ opposition supported the CIA-backed coup d’etat against the democratic Chavez in 2002, the Venezuelan media applauded the re-installed fascists. Since then, they have spread the most atrocious propaganda against the president, accusing him of mental illness, among other calumnies. As the media in Venezuela refuses to recognise the democratic leader of the country, Chavez has been forced to open his own TV programme where he answers calls from Venezuela’s poor. In this Orwellian world, leaders who side with the poor, oppose imperialism and favour the interests of their people over those of the US,EU and the international cabal of capitalist hawks are subject to the most callous and outrageous calumnies. It is a deeply worrying sign of how inhuman and decadent Western societies have become when we attack the democrats and freedom fighters and defend the tyrants. The problem is now ubiquitous in this post-democratic age.