José Antonio Gutiérrez D.
The USA: imposing its own dictatorships, imposing its own “democracy”
In one of its frequent acts of “generosity” towards the unfortunate people living in its orbit, the US government has decided to donate $20 million to Tunisia for, among other things, assisting the formation of political parties, strengthening “civil society”, help in drafting a new constitution, drawing up a timetable for “free and fair” elections, establishing communications media and supporting an economic reform programme .
We cannot overlook the shameless interventionism of the United States, which in this way is demonstrating what Chomsky has called the USA’s chronic fear of “democracy”, due to the fact that democracy can produce undesirable results. Particularly when the people of Tunisia and other Arab peoples decided to extend the narrow limits of bourgeois democracy and implemented forms of direct and participatory democracy during their fight against the remnants of Ben Ali’s dictatorial regime. Even more so when they decided that the concept of “democracy” cannot be separated from the economic reality of the working class and the people in general. In fact, since its very outset, the struggle has been centred on the quality of life of the masses, and this demand is becoming increasingly clear. All of this horrifies the USA because it represents the risk that the people will become the architects of their own destiny, which clearly puts US economic and geopolitical interests at risk .
The dictator is gone, the dictatorship goes on
The struggle in Tunisia has not stopped: the demonstrations, protests and strikes continue and acquire greater depth. In telecommunications, mining, services and other sectors related to the oil industry, we have seen the formation of workers’ committees to begin to reclaim control of their company and who through pressure, have managed to establish some control in practice, even expelling executives — demonstrating that the concept of “democracy” must also apply to work. The radical implications of this development are all too evident.
The Left too, even more than political Islam, has experienced a significant increase in its fortunes among the masses and has begun to agitate the demand for a constituent assembly as one of its main points. A constitution that incorporates the most pressing demands of the popular movement or one that institutionalizes forms of popular power that the Tunisians have built spontaneously is a possibility that can only cause the “disinterested” North American benefactor to lose sleep.
The “generous” US offer must be seen in the light of these facts. It is their way of controlling the movement, of moulding it to suit their own interests (interests that are opposed to those of the majority of the Tunisian people) and bringing it to a standstill. Like influencing the legal, political and economic make-up of the new Tunisia so that it is as close as possible to the old Tunisia. Cosmetic change but nothing substantive. The counter-revolution, embodied by the interim “transition” government, is responsible for this dishonourable task. One popular slogan in Tunis sums up the farce of the transition and the real agenda of the USA and its Tunisian partners: “The dictator is gone, the dictatorship goes on”.
Imperial interests as denominator of the “common good”
In its role as the true imperial master of the world, the USA reserves the right to finance presidential campaigns, draft Constitutions and decide economic policy worldwide. But at the same time, the slightest comment from Iran on the Middle East crisis is cause for an immediate outcry and accusations of “interventionism”! In Latin America too. Remember during the last presidential campaign in Colombia, when Venezuela’s President Chavez expressed his opposition to the ultra right-wing candidate Juan Manuel Santos (his objections to whom were quickly forgotten after he had won the election), both the USA and its lapdog, the former Colombian president Uribe, were pulling their hair out over this “interventionism”. Talk about hypocrisy...
But the hypocrisy and double standards are not new. It is precisely the way the USA thinks and runs its empire, because it ascribes to itself an exclusive right that is denied to everyone else in order to maintain its absolute supremacy. And in the end, its politics is not defined by or around principles or ideals, but based on the utter sordidness of its economic elites.
That is why its foreign policy often seems to be erratic and contradictory. While it hands over $25 million to Internet activists in Iran and Syria, it harasses Wikileaks and even sends open death threats to Julian Assange; while it bombs Libya in order to “liberate” the people, it turns a blind eye to the massacres in Yemen and Bahrain by its lackeys; while it criticizes Iran for using tear gas against demonstrators (taking the opportunity to point out that Ahmadinejad should learn from Mubarak who retired from power “peacefully”), it turns a blind eye to the 400 dead people that the peace-loving dictator left littering the streets of Cairo; while it complains about the lack of democracy in Syria, it denies that same democracy to the people of Haiti, Honduras, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia; while it condemns Tehran for allegedly intervening in the Arab protests, it allows the invasion of Bahrain by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and not only that: it is going ahead with the biggest military deal in its history with the feudal, theocratic, reactionary and dictatorial monarchy of Saudi Arabia — an agreement worth $60 billion that will be used for future invasions and massacres against its own people.
But these contradictions are only apparent: what does not change is that the interests of those economic elites who lead the US multinational corporations are never touched and they benefit as much as possible.
Meanwhile, the real face of the transitions to “democracy” that the USA is sponsoring begins to itself cruelly: on the 23rd of this month, the Egyptian junta passed a law that penalizes and expressly prohibits the organization of protests and strikes. At the same time, they have strengthened the State of Emergency which the country has been in since 1981. It is a measure that violates even the most basic (bourgeois) democratic principles.
Dictatorships and Democracies “Made in the USA”: the lesson of Chile
While visiting Latin America, Obama said that the “transition to democracy” in Chile was a model for the Arab countries. Naturally. Chile is a successful example of US interventionism, at least compared to Haiti or El Salvador. When things were getting out of hand during Allende’s social-reformist experiment, Pinochet’s dictatorship was imposed with blood and fire. And when things threatened to get out of hand again after a cycle of mass popular struggles in 1983–1986, like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat, a project for vigilated democracy materialized and was imposed on the Chilean people.
They imposed their dictator on us, then they imposed their democracy democracy — a democracy based on the USA’s own economic model, where its interests are fully safeguarded at the expense of the vast majority, a model whose political stability is based on a dictatorial anti-terrorism law and a repressive apparatus with enough gas, batons and bullets to stifle the slightest sign of discontent, a two-party political system which prevents the emergence of alternatives that could question the regime (the political blocs and alliances in effect function like a two-party system, not unlike the Americans’ own). A formal democracy with no substance, where the people are not organized, where there is no pressure from below, a sanitized form of democracy. The happy copy of the Garden of Eden.
Chile’s experience should be studied by the Arab peoples as it is the best example of how the USA first imposes dictators and then its own “democracy” — in every case claiming that it is acting out of generosity, but barely able to conceal its pathological selfishness. This should serve as a warning, so that the Arab peoples do not allow their wings to be clipped in their historic drive for liberation.
Long live our Arab brothers and sisters!