Progressive Calendar 06.13.08
From: David Shove (
Date: Fri, 13 Jun 2008 20:12:28 -0700 (PDT)
              P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   06.13.08

1. Peace walk     6.14 9am Cambridge MN
2. Peace island   6.14 10am
3. Bannering      6.14 10:15 am
4. NWN4P Mtka     6.14 11am
5. GP/endorse/BBQ 6.14 12noon
6. Ntown vigil    6.14 2pm
7. Poor march/CTV 6.14 9pm
8. Alt violence   6.14 Faribault MN

9. ArtCar         6.15 12noon
10. Africa        6.15 12:15pm
11. Stlwtr vigil  6.15 1pm
12. Amnesty Intl  6.15 3pm
13. RNC/rights    6.15 3pm
14. Bannering     6.15 3pm
15. GLBT/ch17     6.15 6pm
16. Fix bike flat 6.15 7pm
17. KFAI's Indian 6.15 7pm

18. James Petras - Separatism and empire building in the 21st century
19. ed           - Pupating for fun & profit (poem)

--------1 of 19--------

From: Ken Reine <reine008 [at]>
Subject: Peace walk 6.14 9am Cambridge MN

Every Saturday 9AM to 9:35AM
Peace walk in Cambridge - start at Hwy 95 and Fern Street

--------2 of 19-------

From: "wamm [at]" <wamm [at]>
Subject: Peace island 6.14 10am

Peace Island Preview
Saturday, June 14, 10:00 a.m. to noon Black Bear Crossings in Como Park,
Michael Donald Glass Room, 1360 North Lexington Parkway, St. Paul. Susu
Jeffrey presents a preview of "Hope in a Time of Crisis--Peace Island--a
Solutions-Driven Conference" to be held at Concordia University, parallel
to the Republican National Convention in September. Free and open to the
public. Sponsored by: Women's International League for Peace and Freedom,
MN Metro Branch (WILPF). FFI: Email <susujeffrey [at]> or visit

--------3 of 19--------

From: "wamm [at]" <wamm [at]>
Subject: Bannering 6.14 10:15 am

Flag Day Bannering Vigil
Saturday, June 14, 10:15 a.m. to Noon Pedestrian Overpass at 40th Street
Over 35W. Be part of a large bannering in honor of Flag Day by filling the
40th Street footbridge over 35W with newly painted red, white and blue
banners which say things like "Support the Constitution - End the War" and
"Not Another 100 Years!"  And, of course, there will be flags planted in
between each banner. In order to cover the footbridge about 15 to 20
volunteers are needed to hold banners and flags. If you have any of the
new banners, bring them but otherwise you don't need to bring anything
except yourself, your patriotic zeal and sun protection (canceled for
rain).  FFI or to RSVP: Call Ross, 952-465-2866.

--------4 of 19--------

From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at]>
Subject: NWN4P Mtka 6.14 11am

NWN4P-Minnetonka demonstration- Every Saturday, 11 AM to noon, at Hwy. 7
and 101.  Park in the Target Greatland lot; meet near the fountain. We
will walk along the public sidewalk. Signs available.

--------5 of 19--------

From: Eric Gilbertson <aleric [at]>
Subject: GP/endorse/BBQ 6.14 12noon

A special summertime 5th CD Green Party of Minnesota endorsement meeting
and BBQ will be held on Saturday, June 14th at Phelps Park (between Park
and Chicago, and 39th and 40th Streets). The meeting will be outside if
weather permits, inside the rec center if not.

The 5CDSC will be serving vegan brats and burgers, with sides and
beverages - please feel free to bring food or drink to share.

Farheen Hakeem's campaign will be doorknocking in the neighborhood
before and after the meeting, contact Dan Dittman at 952-454-2377 to
connect with and help out our endorsed candidate.

12:00 - 12:30 - Informal discussion and BBQ
12:30 - 1:15 - Endorsement of Adri Mehra for 5CD US Rep
1:15 - 1:30 - Announcements
1:30 - 2:00 - Informal discussion and BBQ

--------6 of 19--------

From: Vanka485 [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 6.14 2pm

Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday

--------7 of 19--------

From: Eric Angell <eCric-angell [at]>
Subject: Poor march/CTV 6.14 9pm

Magnificent Minneapolis Television Network (MTN 17) viewers:
"Our World In Depth" cablecasts on MTN Channel 17 on Saturdays at 9pm and
Tuesdays at 8am, after DemocracyNow!.  Households with basic cable may

Sat, 6/14, 9pm and Tues, 6/17, 8am "March for Our Lives" On Sept 2nd in
downtown St. Paul, the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign will
"March For Our Lives".  Cheri Honkala, the campaign's national coordinator
is interviewed by host Karen Redleaf.

--------8 of 19--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Alt violence 6.14 Faribault MN

Saturday, 6/14, Alternatives to Violence workshop at Faribault Minimum
Custody prison.  FFI: Contact Friends for a Non-Violent World, 1050 Selby
Ave, St Paul.  info [at] or 651-917-0383.

--------9 of 19--------

From: Julie Bates <julie [at]>
Subject: ArtCar 6.15 12noon

The 14th Annual "Summer of ArtCar"

Intermedia Arts is pleased to present the ArtCars at a number of community
events and celebrations throughout the summer.  Due to lack of funding,
the traditional parade will not take place this year.  However, there are
still many opportunities to create, participate, and enjoy these
one-of-a-kind mobile creations. ArtCars, often humorous, are a symbol of
the right to freedom of expression and the yearning to express
individuality.  ArtCars encourage people to express themselves on a daily
basis.  These works of art open up dialogues and create community
connections.  Every day is a parade when art comes out of the gallery and
rolls into your neighborhood!

Saturday, June 15, 12pm-5pm: Join ArtCar artist Damon Cuccia at the Stone
Arch Festival of the Arts to create a paint-by-number ArtCar with the

--------10 of 19--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Africa 6.15 12:15pm

Sunday, 6/15, 12:15 to 2 pm, ELCA peace and justice committee presents
Wolday Gebremichael of the Eritrean Community Center speaking on
"Struggles in the Horn of Africa," Central Lutheran Church, 3rd Ave and
12th St, Mpls.  (Next to the Mpls Convention Center.) Validated parking
available at the ramp on the south side of the church.  $7 lunch
available.  dhilden [at] or 612-825-1581.

--------11 of 19--------

From: scot b <earthmannow [at]>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 6.15 1pm

A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2
p.m.  Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song
and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be
positive.  Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers.

If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it.
Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to

For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560

--------12 of 19--------

From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at]>
Subject: Amnesty Intl 6.15 3pm

Join us for our regular meeting on Sunday, June 15th, from 3:00 to 5:00
p.m. Our speakers this month will be Kristin Antin and Maha Hilal from the
Center for Victims of Torture's New Tactics for Human Rights Project.

Kristin serves as the Online Community Builder for the New Tactics
Project. She has been with the project since January 2008. Ms. Antin is
responsible for maintaining the project's website and building the New
Tactics online community. Through the project's interactive web site, she
works to disseminate New Tactics material and ideas to a large audience of
over 900 human rights practitioners. Furthermore, she promotes the sharing
of tactical experiences and information among these practitioners. Ms.
Antin received her Masters in Arts in Human Rights from the University of
Essex, where she focused on International Human Rights Law and
International Relations. She has worked with Center for Victims of Torture
on the International Capacity Building Project in Minnesota and in Uganda
as a field consultant. Ms. Antin has worked with an indigenous torture
treatment center in Uganda where she worked on several human rights
advocacy campaigns. Maha Hilal, an AI Reebok fellow new to the New Tactics
Project, will also attend.

In our second hour, we will share actions on human rights cases around the
world and get updates on the work of our sub-groups.
All are welcome, and refreshments will be provided.

Location: Center for Victims of Torture, 717 E. River Rd. SE, Minneapolis
(corner of E. River Rd. and Oak St.). Park on street or in the small lot
behind the center (the Center is a house set back on a large lawn).

--------13 of 19--------

From: James Mayer <info [at]>
Subject: RNC/rights/AM950 3pm

AM 950

OF THE PEOPLE: This Sunday, june 15TH, 3 p.m. AM 950-Air America
Minnesota's new name; call letters: ktnf-with Host James Mayer.

When the city of St. Paul courted the Republican National Convention did
they agree to suppress constitutional rights as part of the package? That
might make the Republican elite feel right at home, insulated from the
consequences of their actions.  But it should motivate "we the people" TO
JOIN the Resistance.

Join us on Of the People this Sunday at 3 with the leadership of "The
Coalition to March on the R.N.C. and Stop the War" Join our conversation
on Of the People this Sunday at 3. Of the People's on-air call-in number
is 952-946-6205.

--------14 of 19--------

From: "wamm [at]" <wamm [at]>
Subject: Bannering 6.15 3pm

Father's Day Bannering Vigil

Sunday, June 15, 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. Meet at the Footbridge, just West of
Snelling Over 94. In honor of Father's Day, the hope is to get enough
fathers (and others with fathers) to fill at least two, if not three, of
the footbridges that span 94. The three best footbridges over 94 are at
Aldine (the one just west of Snelling); Grotto Street (exit 240 near Dale)
and St. Paul Central-Mackubin Street (between Dale and Western). The
footbridges are all about a mile apart from each other in St. Paul. If
there are enough volunteers, each footbridge would have its own color
theme, with the red, white and blue on the footbridge just west of
Snelling. In order to give out all the banners, instructions, and divide
into groups, please meet at 3:00 p.m. at the footbridge just west of
Snelling. If you have any of the new banners, bring them but otherwise you
don't need to bring anything except yourself, your patriotic zeal and sun
protection (canceled for rain). FFI or to RSVP: Call Ross, 952-465-2866.

--------15 of 19--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: GLBT/ch17 6.15 6pm

SUN. JUNE 15, 6pm on TPT channel 17
review by Lydia Howell, KFAI Radio

This is a moving look at parents of faith coming to terms with their young
adult children coming out as gay and lesbian. Mormons, Catholics,
Baptists. Diversity of ethnic identities - African-American,
Japanese-American, Puerto Rican - proving that all GLBT people are not
white and all people of color are not heterosexual. Parents get involved
in P-FLAGd - Parents and Friends of Lesbians & Gays - the organization
that offers support, information to combat ignorance and ultimately,
activism in support of equality for GLBT people. One young gay man starts
a Gay-Straight Alliance at his school.  Another young Gay man is homeless
for a time.

Wonderfully edited, showing the real struggles to understand, the losses
through estrangement of some relatives who reject their gay and lesbian
grandchildren or nieces/nephews and the power of love. What is really
amazing how many of these parents of gay men and lesbians challenge
religious institutions to accept and affirm their gay and lesbian

Watch this film with someone you know who has continued to deny GLBT
people their equal rights under ther law and their right to love. Often
the only path to change a mind is through touching the heart. This film
does that many times over.

--------16 of 19--------

From: Do It Green! Minnesota <Do_It_Green_Minnesota [at]>
Subject: Fix bike flat 6.15 7pm

Fix-A-Flat  - Hands-on bike Workshop,
Sun, June 15th   7-9pm
Hub Bike Co-op (3020 Minnehaha Ave. S., Mpls)

Come to this hands-on workshop to find out the basics of fixing a flat
tire on your bicycle. A bike mechanic will share the tricks and tools that
make this dreaded task a little easier. There will be a chance for you to
practice on your own bike, so make sure to bring it along!

A suggested donation of $5 can be made online or at each workshop. Do
It Green! Minnesota is a volunteer-run nonprofit organization, so we
greatly appreciate your support!

Sign up online, email ami [at] or call 612-345-7973 to
reserve your spot at the workshops!

--------17 of 19--------

From: Chris Spotted Eagle <chris [at]>
Subject: KFAI's Indian 6.15 7pm

KFAI's Indian Uprising, June 15, 2008 from 7:00 - 8:00 p.m. CDT #270

Rape and Sexual Violence.  "Native American and Alaska Native women in the
United States suffer disproportionately high levels of rape and sexual
violence, yet the federal government has created substantial barriers to
accessing justice, Amnesty International asserted in a 113-page report,
Maze of Injustice: The failure to protect Indigenous women from sexual
violence in the USA.  Justice Department figures indicate that American
Indian and Alaska Native women are 2.5 times more likely to be raped or
sexually assaulted than women in the United States in general."

The Minnesota Indian Women's Sexual Assault Coalition ( is
a unique Coalition funded in October of 2001, through the US Department of
Justice, Violence Against Women Office and is one of 16 Tribal Coalitions
around the Country formed to address domestic and sexual violence in
American Indian Communities. The Coalition is the only sexual assault
coalition in the state of Minnesota that is specific to American Indian
Women.  Guests are:
 Nicole Matthews (Ojibwe), Director, Minnesota Indian Women's Sexual
Assault Coalition
 Guadalupe Lopez (Ojibwe/Purepecha), Membership/ Outreach Coordinator,

Indian Uprising is a KFAI Public & Cultural Affairs program relevant to
Native Indigenous people, broadcast each Sunday on 90.3 FM Minneapolis and
106.7 FM St. Paul. Producer & host is Chris Spotted Eagle.

For internet listening, visit, click Play under ON AIR NOW or
for listening later via their archives, click PROGRAMS & SCHEDULE > Indian
Uprising > STREAM.  Programs are archived for two weeks.

--------18 of 19--------

Separatism and Empire Building in the 21st Century
by James Petras
June 9th, 2008
Dissident Voice

              Introduction: The Historical Context

Throughout modern imperial history, "Divide and Conquer" has been the
essential ingredient in allowing relatively small and resource-poor
European countries to conquer nations vastly larger in size and
populations and richer in natural resources. It is said that for every
British officer in India, there were fifty Sikhs, Gurkhas, Muslims and
Hindus in the British Colonial Army. The European conquest of Africa and
Asia was directed by white officers, fought by black, brown and yellow
soldiers so that white capital could exploit colored workers and peasants.
Regional, ethnic, religious, clan, tribal, community, village and other
differences were politicized and exploited allowing imperial armies to
conquer warring peoples. In recent decades, the US empire builders have
become the grand masters of "divide and conquer" strategies throughout the
world. By the 1970's, the CIA made a turn from promoting the dubious
virtues of capitalism and democracy, to linking up with, financing and
directing, religious, ethnic and regional elites against national regimes,
independent or hostile to US world empire building.

The key to US military empire building follows two principles: direct
military invasions and fomenting separatist movements, which can lead to
military confrontation.

Twenty-first century empire building has seen the extended practice of
both principles in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Lebanon, China (Tibet),
Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Somalia, Sudan, Burma and Palestine - any
country in which the US cannot secure a stable client regime, it resorts
to financing and promoting separatist organizations and leaders using
ethnic, religious and regional pretexts.

Consistent with traditional empire building principles, Washington only
supports separatists in countries that refuse to submit to imperial
domination and opposes separatists who resist the empire and its allies.
In other words, imperial ideologues are neither "hypocrites" nor resort to
"double standards" (as they are accused by liberal critics); they publicly
uphold the "Empire first" principle as their defining criteria for
evaluating separatist movements and granting or denying support. In
contrast, many seemingly progressive critics of empire make universal
statements in favor of the "right to self-determination" and even extend
it to the most rancid, reactionary, imperial-sponsored "separatist groups"
with catastrophic results. Independent nations and their people, who
oppose US-backed separatists, are bombed to oblivion and charged with "war
crimes". People, who oppose the separatists and who reside in the "new
state", are killed or driven into exile. The "liberated people" suffer
from the tyranny and impoverishment induced by the US-backed separatists
and many are forced to immigrate to other countries for economic survival.

Few if any of the progressive critics of the USSR and supporters of the
separatist republics have ever publicly expressed second thoughts, let
alone engaged in self-critical reflections, even in the face of decades
long socio-economic and political catastrophes in the secessionist states.
Yet it was and is the case that these self-same progressives today, who
continue to preach high moral principles to those who question and reject
some separatist movements because they originate and grow out of efforts
to extend the US empire.

Washington's success in co-opting so-called progressive liberals in
support of separatist movements soon to be new imperial clients in recent
decades is long and the consequences for human rights are ugly.

Most European and US progressives supported the following:

1. US-backed Bosnian fundamentalists, Croatian neo-fascists and
Kosova-Albanian terrorists, leading to ethnic cleansing and the conversion
of their once sovereign states into US military bases, client regimes and
economic basket cases - totally destroying the multinational Yugoslavian
welfare state.

2. The US funded and armed overseas Afghan Islamic fundamentalists who
destroyed a secular, reformist, gender-equal Afghan regime, carrying out
vast anti-feudal campaigns involving both men and women, a comprehensive
agrarian reform and constructing extensive health and educational
programs. As a result of US-Islamic tribal military successes, millions
were killed, displaced and dispossessed and fanatical medieval
anti-Communist tribal warlords destroyed the unity of the country.

3. The US invasion destroyed Iraq's modern, secular, nationalist state and
advanced socio-economic system. During the occupation, US backing of rival
religious, tribal, clan and ethnic separatist movements and regimes led to
the expulsion of over 90% of its modern scientific and professional class
and the killing of over 1 million Iraqis - all in the name of ousting a
repressive regime and above all in destroying a state opposed to Israeli
oppression of Palestinians.

Clearly US military intervention promotes separatism as a means of
establishing a regional "base of support". Separatism facilitates setting
up a minority puppet regime and works to counter neighboring countries
opposed to the depredations of empire. In the case of Iraq, US-backed
Kurdish separatism preceded the imperial campaign to isolate an adversary,
create international coalitions to pressure and weaken the central
government. Washington highlights regime atrocities as human rights cases
to feed global propaganda campaigns. More recently this is evident in the
US-financed "Tibetan" theocratic protests at China.

Separatists are backed as potential terrorist shock troops in attacking
strategic economic sectors and providing real or fabricated "intelligence"
as is the case in Iran among the Kurds and other ethnic minority groups.

                           Why Separatism?

Empire builders do not always resort to separatist groups, especially when
they have clients at the national levels in control of the state. It is
only when their power is limited to groups, territorially or ethnically
concentrated, that the intelligence operatives resort to and promote
"separatist" movements. US backed separatist movements follow a
step-by-step process, beginning with calls for "greater autonomy" and
"decentralization", essentially tactical moves to gain a local political
power base, accumulate economic revenues, repress anti-separatist groups
and local ethnic/religious, political minorities with ties to the central
government (as in the oppression of the Christian communities in northern
Iraq repressed by the Kurdish separatists for their long ties with the
Central Baath Party or the Roma of Kosova expelled and killed by the
Kosova Albanians because of their support of the Yugoslav federal system).

The attempt to forcibly usurp local resources and the ousting of local
allies of the central government results in confrontations and conflict
with the legitimate power of the central government. It is at this point
that external (imperial) support is crucial in mobilizing the mass media
to denounce repression of "peaceful national movements" merely "exercising
their right to self-determination". Once the imperial mass media
propaganda machine touches the noble rhetoric of "self-determination" and
"autonomy", "decentralization" and "home rule", the great majority of US
and European funded NGO's jump on board, selectively attacking the
government's effort to maintain a stable unified nation-state. In the name
of "diversity" and a "pluri-ethnic state", the Western-bankrolled NGO's
provide a moralist ideological cover to the pro-imperialist separatists.

When the separatists succeed and murder and ethnically cleanse the ethnic
and religious minorities linked to the former central state, the NGO's are
remarkably silent or even complicit in justifying the massacres as
"understandable over-reaction to previous repression". The propaganda
machine of the West, even gloats over the separatist state expulsion of
hundreds of thousands of ethnic minorities - as in the case of the Serbs
and Roma from Kosova and the Krijina region of Croatia - with headlines
blasting - "Serbs on the Run: Serves Them Right!" followed by photos of
NATO troops overseeing the "transfer" of destitute families from their
ancestral villages and towns to squalid camps in a bombed out Serbia. And
the triumphant Western politicians mouthing pieties at the massacres of
Serb civilians by the KLA, as when former German Foreign Minister
"Joschka" Fischer (Green Party) mourned, "I understand your (the KLA's)
pain, but you shouldn't throw grenades at (ethnic Serb) school children".

The shift from "autonomy" within a federal state to an "independent state"
is based on the aid channeled and administered by the imperial state to
the "autonomous region", thus strengthening its "de facto" existence as a
separate state. This has clearly occurred in the Kurdish run northern Iraq
"no fly zone" and now "autonomous region" from 1991 to the present.

The same principle of self-determination demanded by the US and its
separatist client is denied to "minorities" within the realm. Instead, the
US propaganda media refer to them as "agents" or "trojan horses" of the
central government.

Strengthened by imperial "foreign aid", and business links with US and EU
MNCs, backed by local para-military and quasi-military police forces (as
well as organized criminal gangs), the autonomous regime declares its
"independence". Shortly thereafter, it is recognized by its imperial
patrons. After "independence", the separatist regime grants territorial
concessions and building sites for US military bases. Investment
privileges are granted to the imperial patron, severely compromising
"national" sovereignty.

The army of local and international NGO's rarely raise any objections to
this process of incorporating the separatist entity into the empire, even
when the "liberated" people object. In most cases the degree of "local
governance" and freedom of action of the "independent" regime is less than
it was when it was an autonomous or federal region in the previous unified
nationalist state.

Not infrequently "separatist" regimes are part of irredentist movements
linked to counterparts in other states. When cross national irredentist
movements challenge neighboring states which are also targets of the US
empire builders, they serve as launching pads for US low intensity
military assaults and Special Forces terrorist activities.

For example, almost all of the Kurdish separatist organizations draw a map
of "Greater Kurdistan" which covers a third of Southeastern Turkey,
Northern Iraq, a quarter of Iran, parts of Syria and wherever else they
can find a Kurdish enclave. US commandos operate alongside Kurdish
separatists terrorizing Iranian villages (in the name of
self-determination; Kurds with powerful US military backing have seized
and govern Northern Iraq and provide mercenary Peshmerga troops to
massacre Iraqi Arab civilian in cities and towns resisting the US
occupation in Central, Western and Southern regions. They have engaged in
the forced displacement of non-Kurds (including Arabs, Chaldean
Christians, Turkman and others) from so-called Iraqi Kurdistan and the
confiscation of their homes, businesses and farms. US-backed Kurdish
separatists have created conflicts with the neighboring Turkish
government, as Washington tries to retain its Kurdish clients for their
utility in Iraq, Iran and Syria without alienating its strategic NATO
client, Turkey. Nevertheless Turkish-Kurdish separatist activists in the
PKK have lauded the US for, what they term, "progressive colonialism" in
effectively dismembering Iraq and forming the basis for a Kurdish state.

The US decision to collaborate with the Turkish military, or at least
tolerate its military attacks on certain sectors of the Iraq-based Kurdish
separatists, the PKK, is part of its global policy of prioritizing
strategic imperial alliances and allies over and against any separatist
movement which threatens them. Hence, while the US supports the Kosova
separatists against Serbia, it opposes the separatists in Abkhazia
fighting against its client in the Republic of Georgia. While the US
supported Chechen separatist against the Moscow government, it opposes
Basque and Catalan separatists in their struggle against Washington's NATO
ally, Spain. While Washington has been bankrolling the Bolivian
separatists headed by the oligarchs of Santa Cruz against the central
government in La Paz, it supports the Chilean government's repression of
the Mapuche Indian claims to land and resources in south-central Chile.

Clearly "self-determination" and "independence' are not the universal
defining principle in US foreign policy, nor has it ever been, as witness
the US wars against Indian nations, secessionist southern slaveholders and
yearly invasions of independent Latin American, Asian and African states.
What guides US policy is the question of whether a separatist movement,
its leaders and program furthers empire building or not? The inverse
question however is infrequently raised by so-called progressives,
leftists or self-described anti-imperialists: Does the separatist or
independence movement weaken the empire and strengthen anti-imperialist
forces or not? If we accept that the over-riding issue is defeating the
multi-million killing machine called US imperialism, then it is legitimate
to evaluate and support, as well as reject, some independence movements
and not others. There is nothing "hypocritical" or "inconvenient" in
raising higher principles in making these political choices. Clearly
Hitler justified the invasion of Czechoslovakia in the name of defending
Sudetenland separatists, just like a series of US presidents have
justified the partition of Iraq in the name of defending the Kurds, or
Sunnis or Shia or whatever tribal leaders lend themselves to US empire

What defines anti-imperialist politics is not abstract principles about
"self-determination" but defining exactly who is the "self"; in other
words, what political forces linked to what international power
configuration are making what political claim for what political purpose.
If, as in Bolivia today, a rightwing racist, agro-business oligarchy
seizes control of the most fertile and energy rich region, containing 75%
of the country's natural resources, in the name of "self-determination"
and autonomy, expelling and brutalizing impoverished Indians in the
process - on what basis can the left or anti-imperialist movement oppose
it, if not because the class, race and national content of that claim is
antithetical to an even more important principle - popular sovereignty
based on the democratic principles of majority rule and equal access to
public wealth?

   Separatism in Latin America: Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador

In recent years the US backed candidates have won and lost national
election in Latin America. Clearly the US has retained hegemony over the
governing elites in Mexico, Colombia, Central America, Peru, Chile,
Uruguay and some of the Caribbean island states. In states where the
electorate has backed opponents of US dominance, such as Venezuela,
Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua, Washington's influence is dependent on
regional, provincial and locally elected officials. It is premature to
state, as the Council for Foreign Relations claims, that "US hegemony in
Latin America is a thing of the past". One only has to read the economic
and political record of the close and growing military and economic ties
between Washington and the Calderon regime in Mexico, the Garcia regime in
Peru, Bachelet in Chile and Uribe in Colombia to register the fact that US
hegemony still prevails in important regions of Latin America. If we look
beyond the national governmental level, even in the non-hegemonized
states, US influence still is a potent factor shaping the political
behavior of powerful right-wing business, financial and regional political
elites in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Argentina. By the end of May
2008, US backed regionalist movements were on the offensive, establishing
a de facto secessionist regime in Santa Cruz in Bolivia. In Argentina, the
agro-business elite has organized a successful nationwide production and
distribution lockout, backed by the big industrial, financial and
commercial confederations, against an export tax promoted by the
"center-left" Kirchner government. In Colombia, the US is negotiating with
the paramilitary President Uribe over the site of a military base on the
frontier with Venezuela's oil rich state of Zulia, which happens to be
ruled by the only anti-Chavez governor in power, a strong promoter of
"autonomy" or secession. In Ecuador, the Mayor of Guayaquil, backed by the
right wing mass media and the discredited traditional political parties
have proposed "autonomy" from the central government of President Rafael
Correa. The process of imperial driven nation dismemberment is very uneven
because of the different degrees of political power relations between the
central government and the regional secessionists. The right wing
secessionists in Bolivia have advanced the furthest - actually organizing
and winning a referendum and declaring themselves an independent governing
unit with the power to collect taxes, formulate foreign economic policy
and create its own police force.

The success of the Santa Cruz secessionist is due to the political
incapacity and total incompetence of the Evo Morales-Garcia Linera regime
which promoted "autonomy" for the scores of impoverished Indian "nations"
(or indianismo) and ended up laying the groundwork for the white racist
oligarchs to seize the opportunity to establish their own "separatist"
power base. As the separatist gained control over the local population,
they intimidated the "indians" and trade union supporters of the Morales
regime, violently sabotaged the constitutional assembly, rejected the
constitution, while constantly extracting concession for the flaccid and
conciliatory central government of the Evo Morales. While the separatists
trashed the constitution and used their control over the major means of
production and exports to recruit five other provinces, forming a
geographic arc of six provinces, and influence in two others in their
drive to degrade the national government. The Morales-Garcia Linera
"indianista" regime, largely made up of mestizos formerly employed in NGOs
funded from abroad, never used its formal constitutional power and
monopoly of legitimate force to enforce constitutional order and outlaw
and prosecute the secessionists' violation of national integrity and
rejection of the democratic order.

Morales never mobilized the country, the majority of popular organizations
in civil society, or even called on the military to put down the
secessionists. Instead he continued to make impotent appeals for "dialog",
for compromises in which his concessions to oligarch self-rule only
confirmed their drive for regional power. As a case study of failed
governance, in the face of a reactionary separatist threat to the nation,
the Morales-Garcia Linera regime represents an abject failure to defend
popular sovereignty and the integrity of the nation.

The lessons of failed governance in Bolivia stand as a grim reminder to
Chavez in Venezuela and Correa in Ecuador: Unless they act with full force
of the constitution to crush the embryonic separatist movements before
they gain a power base, they will also face the break-up of their
countries. The biggest threat is in Venezuela, where the US and Colombian
militaries have built bases on the frontier bordering the Venezuelan state
of Zulia, infiltrated commandos and paramilitary forces into the province,
and see the takeover of the oil-rich province as a beach-head to deprive
the central government of its vital oil revenues and destabilize the
central government.

Several years into a Washington-backed and financed separatist movement in
Bolivia, a few progressive academics and pundits have taken notice and
published critical commentaries. Unfortunately these articles lack any
explanatory context, and offer little understanding of how Latin American
"separatism" fits into long-term, large-scale US empire building strategy
over the past quarter of a century.

Today the US-promoted separatist movements in Latin American are actively
being pursued in at least three Latin American counties. In Bolivia, the
"media luna" or "half-moon" provinces of Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando and
Tarija have successfully convoked provincial "referendums" for "autonomy"
- code word for secession. On May 4, 2008 the separatists in Santa Cruz
succeeded, securing a voter turnout of nearly 50% and winning 80% of the
vote. On May 15, the right-wing big business political elite announced the
formation of ministries of foreign trade and internal security, assuming
the effective powers of a secession state. The US government led by
Ambassador Goldberg, provided financial and political support for the
right-wing secessionist "civic" organizations through its $125 million
dollar aid programs via AID, its tens of millions of dollar "anti-drug"
program, and through the NED (National Endowment for Democracy) funded
pro-separatist NGOs. At meetings of the Organization of American States
and other regional meetings the US refused to condemn the separatist

Because of the total incompetence and lack of national political
leadership of President Evo Morales and his Vice President Garcia Linera,
the Bolivian State is splintering into a series of "autonomous" cantons,
as several other provincial governments seek to usurp political power and
take over economic resources. From the very beginning, the Morales-Garcia
regime signed off on a number of political pacts, adopted a whole series
of policies and approved a number of concessions to the oligarchic elites
in Santa Cruz, which enabled them to effectively re-build their natural
political power base, sabotage an elected Constitutional Assembly and
effectively undermine the authority of the central government. Right-wing
success took less than 2 years, which is especially amazing considering
that in 2005, the country witnessed a major popular uprising which ousted
a right-wing president, when millions of workers, miners, peasants and
Indians dominated the streets. It is a tribute to the absolute
misgovernment of the Morales-Garcia regime, that the country could move so
quickly and decisively from a state of insurrectionary popular power to a
fragmented and divided country in which a separatist agro-financial elite
seizes control of 80% of the productive resources of the country - while
the elected central government meekly protests.

The success of the secessionist regional ruling class in Bolivia has
encouraged similar "autonomy movements" in Ecuador and Venezuela, led by
the mayor of Guayaquil (Ecuador) and Governor of Zulia (Venezuela). In
other words, the US-engineered political debacle of the Morales-Garcia
regime in Bolivia has led it to team up with oligarchs in Ecuador and
Venezuela to repeat the Santa Cruz experience - in a process of "permanent
counter-revolutionary separatism".

                   Separatism and the Ex-USSR

The defeat of Communism in the USSR had little to do with the "arms race
bankrupting the system", as former US National Security Adviser Zbigniew
Brzezinski has claimed. Up to the end, living standards were relatively
stable and welfare programs continued to operate at near optimal levels
and scientific and cultural programs retained substantial state
expenditures. The ruling elites who replaced the communist system did not
respond to US propaganda about the virtues of "free markets and
democracy", as Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton
claimed: The proof is evident in the political and economic systems, which
they imposed upon taking power and which were neither democratic nor based
on competitive markets. These new ethnic-based regimes resembled despotic,
predatory, nepotistic monarchies handing over ("privatizing") the public
wealth accumulated over the previous 70 years of collective labor and
public investment to a handful of oligarchs and foreign monopolies.

The principle ideological driving force for the current policy of
"separatism" is ethnic identity politics, which is fostered and financed
by US intelligence and propaganda agencies. Ethnic identity politics,
which replaced communism, is based on vertical links between the elite and
the masses. The new elites rule through clan-family-religious-gang based
nepotism, funded and driven through pillage and privatization of public
wealth created under Communism. Once in power, the new political elites
"privatized" public wealth into family riches and converted themselves and
their cronies into an oligarchic ruling class. In most cases the ethnic
ties between elites and subjects dissolved in the face of the decline of
living standards, the deep class inequalities, the crooked vote counts and
state repression.

In all of the ex-USSR states, the new ruling classes only claim to mass
legitimacy was based on appeals to sharing a common ethnic identity. They
trotted out medieval and royalist symbols from the remote past, dredging
up absolutist monarchs, parasitical religious hierarchies, pre-capitalist
war lords, bloody emperors and "national" flags from the days of feudal
landlords to forge a common history and identity with the "newly
liberated" masses. The repeated appeal to past reactionary symbols was
entirely appropriate: the contemporary policies of despotism, pillage and
personality cults resonated with past "historic" warriors, feudal lords
and practices.

As the new post-USSR despots lost their ethnic luster as a consequence of
public disillusion with local and foreign predatory pillage of the
national wealth, the leaders resorted to systematic force.

The principle success of the US strategy of promoting separatism was in
destroying the USSR - not in promoting viable independent capitalist
democracies. Washington succeeded in exacerbating ethnic conflicts between
Russians and other nationalities, by encouraging local communist bosses to
split from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and to form
"independent states" where the new rulers could share the booty of the
local treasury with new Western partners. The US de-stabilization efforts
in the Communist countries, especially after the 1970's did not compete
over living standards, greater industrial growth or over more generous
welfare programs. Rather, Western propaganda focused on ethnic solidarity,
the one issue that undercut class solidarity and loyalty to the communist
state and ideology and strengthened pro-Western elites, especially among
"public intellectuals" and recycled Communist bosses-turned "nationalist

The key point of Western strategy was to first and foremost break-up the
USSR via separatist movements no matter if they were fanatical religious
fundamentalists, gangster-politicians, Western-trained liberal economists
or ambitious upwardly mobile warlords. All that mattered was that they
carried the Western separatist banner of "self-determination".
Subsequently, in the "post Soviet period", the new pro-capitalist ruling
elites were recruited to NATO and client state status.

Washington's post-separatism politics followed a two-step process: In the
first phase there was an undifferentiated support for anyone advocating
the break-up of the USSR. In the second phase, the US sought to push the
most pliable pro-NATO, free market liberals among the lot - the so-called
"color revolutionaries", in Georgia and the Ukraine. Separatism was seen
as a preliminary step toward an "advanced" stage of re-subordination to
the US Empire. The notion of "independent states" is virtually
non-existent for US empire builders. At best it exists as a transitional
stage from one power constellation to a new US-centered empire.

In the period following the break-up of the USSR, Washington's subsequent
attempts to recruit the new ruling elites to pro-capitalist, client-status
was relatively successful. Some countries opened their economies to
unregulated exploitation especially of energy resources. Others offered
sites for military bases. In many cases local rulers sought to bargain
among world powers while enhancing their own private

None of the ex-Soviet Republics evolved into secular independent
democratic republics capable of recovering the living standards, which
their people possessed during the Soviet times. Some rulers became
theocratic despots where religious notables and dictators mutually
supported each other. Others evolved into ugly family-based dictatorships.
None of them retained the Soviet era social safety net or high quality
educational systems. All the post-Soviet regimes magnified the social
inequalities and multiplied the number of criminal-run enterprises.
Violent crime grew geometrically increasing citizen insecurity.

The success of US-induced "separatism" did create, in most cases, enormous
opportunities for Western and Asian pillage of raw materials, especially
petroleum resources. The experience of "newly independent states" was, at
best, a transitory illusion, as the ruling elite either passed directly
into the orbit of Western sphere of influence or became a "fig leaf" for
deep structural subordination to Western-dominated circuits of commodity
exports and finance.

Out of the break-up of the USSR, Western states allied with those
republics where it suited their interests. In some cases they signed
agreements with rulers to establish military base lining the pockets of a
dictator through loans. In other cases they secured privileged access to
economic resources by forming joint ventures. In others they simply
ignored a poorly endowed regime and let it wallow in misery and despotism.

    Separatism: Eastern Europe, Balkans and the Baltic Countries

The most striking aspect of the break-up of the Soviet bloc was the
rapidity and thoroughness with which the countries passed from the Warsaw
Pact to NATO, from Soviet political rule to US/EU economic control over
almost all of their major economic sectors. The conversion from one form
of political economic and military subordination to another highlights the
transitory nature of political independence, the superficiality of its
operational meaning and the spectacular hypocrisy of the new ruling elite
who blithely denounced "Soviet domination" while turning over most
economic sectors to Western capital, large tracts of territory for NATO
bases and providing mercenary military battalions to fight in US imperial
wars to a far greater degree than was ever the case during Soviet times.

Separatism in these areas was an ideology to weaken an adversarial
hegemonic coalition, all the better to reincorporate its members in a more
virulent and aggressive empire building coalition.

             Yugoslavia and Kosova: Forced Separatism

The successful breakup of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact alliance encouraged
the US and EU to destroy Yugoslavia, the last remaining independent
country outside of US-EU control in West Europe. The break-up of
Yugoslavia was initiated by Germany following its annexation and
demolition of East Germany's economy. Subsequently it expanded into the
Slovenian and Croatian republics. The US, a relative latecomer in the
carving up of the Balkans, targeted Bosnia, Macedonia and Kosova. While
Germany expanded via economic conquest, the US, true to its militarist
mission, resorted to war in alliance with recognized terrorist Kosova
Albanian gangsters organized in the paramilitary KLA. Under the leadership
of French Zionist Bernard Kouchner, the NATO forces facilitated the ethnic
purging, assassination and disappearances of tens of thousands of Serbs,
Roma and dissident non-separatist Kosova Albanians.

The destruction of Yugoslavia is complete: the remaining fractured and
battered Serb Republic was now at the mercy of US and its European allies.
By 2008 a EU-US backed pro-NATO coalition was elected and the last
remnants of "Yugoslavia" and its historical legacy of self-managed
socialism was obliterated.

  Consequences of "Separatism" in USSR. East Europe and the Balkans

In every region where US sponsored and financed separatism succeeded,
living standards plunged, massive pillage of public resources in the name
of privatization took place, political corruption reached unprecedented
levels. Anywhere between a quarter to a third of the population fled to
Western Europe and North America because of hunger, personal insecurity
(crime), unemployment and a dubious future.

Politically, gangsterism and extraordinary murder rates drove legitimate
businesses to pay exorbitant extortion payments, as a "new class" of
gangsters-turned-businessmen took over the economy and signed dubious
investment agreements and joint ventures with EU, US and Asian MNCs.

Energy-rich ex-Soviet countries in south central Asia were ruled by
opulent dictators who accumulated billion dollar fortunes in the course of
demolishing egalitarian norms, extensive health, and scientific and
cultural institutions. Religious institutions gained power over and
against scientific and professional associations, reversing educational
progress of the previous seventy years. The logic of separatism spread
from the republics to the sub-national level as rival local war lords and
ethnic chiefs attempted to carve out their "autonomous" entity, leading to
bloody wars, new rounds of ethnic purges and new refugees fleeing the
contested areas.

The US promises of benefits via "separatism" made to the diverse
populations were not in the least fulfilled. At best a small ruling elite
and their cronies reaped enormous wealth, power and privilege at the
expense of the great majority. Whatever the initial symbolic
gratifications, which the underlying population may have experienced from
their short-lived independence, new flag and restored religious power was
eroded by the grinding poverty and violent internal power struggles that
disrupted their lives. The truth of the matter is that millions of people
fled from "their" newly "independent" states, preferring to become
refugees and second-class citizens in foreign states.


The major fallacy of seemingly progressive liberals and NGOs in their
advocacy of "autonomy", "decentralization" and "self-determination" is
that these abstract concepts beg the fundamental concrete historical and
substantive political question - to what classes, race, political blocs is
power being transferred? For over a century in the US the banner of the
racist right-wing Southern plantation owners ruling by force and terror
over the majority of poor blacks was "States Rights" - the supremacy of
local law and order over the authority of the federal government and the
national constitution. The fight between federal versus states rights was
between a reactionary Southern oligarchy and a broader based progressive
Northern urban coalition of workers and the middle class.

There is a fundamental need to demystify the notion of "autonomy" by
examining the classes which demand it, the consequences of devolving power
in terms of the distribution of power, wealth and popular power and the
external benefactors of a shift from the national state to regional local
power elites.

Likewise, the mindless embrace by some libertarians of each and every
claim for "self-determination" has led to some of the most heinous crimes
of the 20-21st centuries - in many cases separatist movements have
encouraged or been products of bloody imperialist wars, as was the case in
the lead up to and following Nazi annexations, the US invasion of Iraq and
Afghanistan and the savage Israeli invasion of Lebanon and breakup of

To make sense of "autonomy", "decentralization" and "self-determination"
and to ensure that these devolutions of power move in progressive historic
direction, it is essential to pose the prior questions: Do these political
changes advance the power and control of the majority of workers and
peasants over the means of production? Does it lead to greater popular
power in the state and electoral process or does it strengthen demagogic
clients advancing the interests of the empire, in which the breakup of an
established state leads to the incorporation of the ethnic fragments into
a vicious and destructive empire?

James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University,
New York, owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser
to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina, and is co-author of
Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books). Petras' forthcoming book, Zionism and
US Militarism, is due from Clarity Press, Atlanta, in August 2008. He can
be reached at: jpetras [at] Read other articles by James, or
visit James's website.

This article was posted on Monday, June 9th, 2008 at 5:00 am and is filed
under (Ex-)Yugoslavia, Bolivia, Caribbean, Ecuador, Empire, NGOs, Original
Peoples, Russia, South America, Venezuela. Send to a friend.

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