This is the first in an ongoing series intended to peel back the glossy facade of ideology and intellectual fancy to show the all-to-human faces of agents of power. It’s true that the processes and practices now ravaging the planet are driven by the extinction circuits of technocapitalist production, yet at every juncture these wayward war-machines remain dependent upon deliberations and decisions made by elite managers, bureaucrats, and high level influences whose private interests are installed as organization imperatives within major institutions. Here we will name these agents and give space to the forgotten truth of personalized power. [*submissions welcome]
Elliot Abrams once more makes an appearance on the world stage as the Trump administration’s special envoy to Venezuela. Mike Pompeo’s latest statement “Watch the noose tighten around Maduro’s neck” is a restatement of one of Abrams threats. The Trump administration has become emboldened by the emergence once again on the American continent of right wing puppet regimes eager to implement American foreign policy across the continent.
It was Abrams who presided over the vicious imperialist assault on the people of Latin America from the seventies on, implicated in campaigns of repression, assassination and genocide in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatamala. Exposed during the Iran-Contra scandal and facing multiple felony counts he was later pardoned by Bush senior and went on to pursue a career as the quintessential up-to-the-neck-in-blood apologist for American Imperialism’s bloodthirsty rampage across the globe.
This is the man appointed by Trump to “restore democracy to Venezuela”, in the process allowing American capitalists to once again plunder the natural resources of an oil rich country and reduce it’s population to the status of outright vassals of American interests. Leave aside the failings of the Chavez/Maduro regime, – its croneyism, top down hierarchy, corrupt officials, stifling of criticism, and narrow vision of what constitutes radicality. Its successes in the areas of health, literacy, income distribution, local democracy and empowerment of indigenous and marginalised populations cancel out its failings, all of which pale into insignificance against the murderous record of American policy in Latin America -coups against democratically elected governments, the arming and financing of right wing murder squads, the support for military regimes, and a general willingness to turn a blind eye to torture, assassination, kidnapping and extermination when it suits them.
Contrast the so called sins of the Maduro regime with, for example, the Saudis, who preside over a regime of systematic repression. Saudi repression is endemic affecting everything from women’s rights to the rights of migrant workers, including public beheading for the crime of witchcraft and apostasy. At the moment many rights activists, including women who have been tortured in custody, are facing the death penalty or life in prison for online criticism of the regime. And lets not forget Yemen, where American and European arms exports have enabled the systematic destruction of that country’s infra structure, the murder of almost 15000 of it’s citizens and the imposition of a state of famine on the rest of the population. The Saudi regime has waged a forensic war on agricultural infrastructure and farming livelihood over a period of almost three years, in direct contravention of the Geneva convention and with the collusion of American and European governments.
So it goes. Same old same old.
The planet is heading towards an ecological catastrophe of unimaginable proportions but imperialist machination continue unabated. Expect more of the same in the coming decade. American Imperial power will try to subjugate those in its “sphere of influence” and make them pay for the coming crisis in a last bid attempt to shore up it’s military, economic and political hegemony. Opposing powers will respond in like manner. As America withdraws from existing non-proliferation treaties the possibility of nuclear conflict increases, a fact not lost on Abrams, who has long been an advocate of the selective use of nuclear weapons at a “local” level, in Iran and north Korea, for example. Nor is Abrams adverse to the sort of agricultural war favoured by the Saudi’s. He himself presided over a decade of systematic destruction of agricultural infrastructure and traditional land use in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatamala, making America’s “backyard” fertile for the imposition of an a system of farming dependent on American agribusiness interests, supply chains and seed monopolies and which in the long term undermined ecologically sustainable land use in return for cash cropping, with all the vulnerabilities for local populations that brought.
Can we overcome and survive this nefarious system? It’s hard not to be pessimistic.
Some accelerationists on the left think we shouldn’t even try. In an ironic “Landian” twist, they put their faith not in human agency but in the acceleration of an extra human material force-of-capital reified as an agent-in-itself, that very process which, they claim, somehow got us to where we are. So that, for example, the very identifiable and human face of the perpetrator of such horrors, the face of Abrams himself, is erased from theory and replaced by a quasi-material entity with a faceless but real life of it’s own.
But that’s another story.
Meanwhile, yet again, another Latin American country comes under Abrams dark shadow. Fear for it’s leftists, union and rights activists, indigenous populations, urban and landed poor. His hand is steeped in blood.