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The Red Review | Issue #2 (October 2023)
Editorial: 9/11, 50 years ago. The Lessons of the Allende Popular Front
Fifty years ago, in September 1970, the people of Chile elected a popular front government that ended up leading to disaster. Salvador Allende won a narrow plurality in the presidential election. He was the candidate of Unidad Popular (Popular Unity), yet another alliance between the Stalinist and social democratic parties with various other forces on the Left and parties that represented the liberal wing of the Chilean bourgeoisie.
Allende’s election as president was secured when another bourgeois party, the Christian Democrats, decided to vote in favour of his candidacy when the election was thrown to the Chilean National Congress.
In power, the Popular Unity government of Allende pursued “la vía chilena al socialismo” (the Chilean way to socialism), nationalizing some large-scale industries and redistributing some land. Big landowners balked. Financiers began to agitate against the government. The Catholic Church expressed its opposition to educational reforms that lessened its role in the country’s schools. As the Christian Democrats and other bourgeois components of the popular front abandoned ship, the situation for the Chilean working class grew more and more ominous
On September 11, 1973, Allende was overthrown and murdered in a bloody military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet, backed by the U.S. government and largely organized and funded by the CIA. The junta butchered some 30,000 workers and peasants, particularly targeting leftists of all stripes. Close to 100,000 people were forced to flee to other countries, where for years they were hunted down and murdered by Pinochet’s secret police as part of a terror campaign organized by the CIA — Operation Condor. In the meanwhile, the Chilean junta imposed brutal economic austerity that decimated the standard of living of the Chilean people as the country’s ruling class enriched itself at their expense.
Allende’s popular front in Chile had sown the seeds of its own destruction at the hands of the generals, who, working on behalf of the ruling class, launched a coup that paved the way for the bloody defeat of the working class. To win confirmation in the Congress, Unidad Popular succumbed to the demands of the class enemy that would ensure that the institutions of capitalist rule were maintained and that bourgeois order would persist. One of the most important of these demands made it easy for the military to slaughter the people: a prohibition on the creation of “private” (that is, workers’) militias and a firm agreement that no police or military officers would be appointed who had not been trained in the bourgeoisie’s established academies.
Allende’s cabinet put the most right-leaning, class-collaborationist of the alliance’s “Left” forces, the social democrats, in charge of internal security. The liberal Radical Party got the ministry of national defense. The die was cast.
Democracy vs. the NDP
by Barry Weisleder - Democratic is the middle name of the New Democratic Party. It derives from two ancient Greek words that mean power of the citizens. So, you might ask, why is the power of NDP members so little evident inside the only labour-based political party in North America?
Permit me to share a short story, in three parts.
The first part is about Bob Rae, who famously said “I am the Premier of all the people, not just NDP members.”
The second describes how top party officials routinely rescind or block the nomination of NDP candidates who express radical opinions, especially in support of the rights of the Palestinian people.
The third piece relates to how time for the debate of policy at convention was systematically reduced, and leftist policies were prevented from coming to the party convention floor for discussion. And, when rarely radical policy was debated and approved, such policy would be promptly ignored.
Shame on NDP for supporting US Empire over humanity
As developments in Ukraine, Libya and Niger highlight, the US destroys other nations with little remorse. And some Canadian “leftists” go along for the ride.
Establishment media have increasingly reported that Washington’s aim is to use Ukraine as a tool to weaken Russia and further subordinate Europe to its geostrategic objectives. For example, Washington Post editor and columnist David Ignatius recently explained, “for the United States and its NATO allies, these 18 months of war have been a strategic windfall, at relatively low cost (other than for Ukrainians). The West’s most reckless antagonist has been rocked. NATO has grown much stronger with the additions of Sweden and Finland. Germany has weaned itself from dependence on Russian energy and, in many ways, rediscovered its sense of values. NATO squabbles make headlines, but overall, this has been a triumphal summer for the alliance.”
A Tale of Two Economies
By Florencia Schade
In today’s world of media consolidation and corporate monopoly, propaganda plays a vital role in maintaining the economic status quo. Similar to the “Bidenomics” phenomenon in the US, the Canadian state is attempting to browbeat workers into believing that “the economy is good, actually”. This claim is propped up by problematic metrics designed to uphold a neoclassical economic model that safeguards the elites by cooling class antagonism.
While the problem of economic statistics is widespread and rampant throughout current modelling, chiefly misleading among these is the metric of aggregate GDP. Cherry picked data points are meant to create the illusion that the ‘economy is booming’ without critically answering the question: for who? As heterodox economists such as Michael Hudson and Clara Mattei point out, the central flaw of this model is the assumption of a naturalized ‘market equilibrium’ which sidesteps the real machinations of political economy (including the use of debt and interest) that drives the distribution and allocation of real resources along class lines.
NATO: An Instrument for Democracy and Freedom, or US Domination?
Over its 74 years of existence NATO has never won freedom or democracy for anyone, ever, anywhere. A secretive alliance Canadians never voted to join, that requires this country to defend faraway lands and funnel ever greater resources to warfare is presented as a tool of democracy. And pro-NATO propagandists ignore how the alliance once helped oust a Canadian government and its ties to undemocratic regimes.
As a result of a decision made at a private NATO get-together a decade ago, Canadians have been told incessantly that we must spend ever more public resources on the war machine. At the demand of the US, NATO has determined the 2% of GDP threshold should now be considered the “floor” for military spending. Why should a war alliance dictate Canada’s spending priorities?
Canada's Bloody Role in Ukraine
by Gary Porter
“At the end of the day, we want to be able to provide a form of stability, predictability, to what is being done by different countries,” she said. “Because even when the war ends, and basically Ukraine wins, I think that in order for reconstruction to happen, we need to be able to provide these formal assurances.” So said Canada's Global Affairs Minister Melanie Joly.
But Canada's role has been the opposite; it is a source of instability and unpredictability in Ukraine, a source of war and provocation of Russia. Canada has been a close ally of the United Kingdon and the United States in the overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically elected government in 2014 and the installation of the Nazi-coloured coup government bent on suppressing Russian speakers in Ukraine and on becoming a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) base for war against the Russian Federation.
Niger: The Emerging Anti-Colonial Resistance in French West Africa
By Gary Porter
On July 26, the African continent was rocked by news of a military coup in Niger, the fourth in West Africa since 2020. Cooperation between the US and Nigerien militaries has been suspended. The Niger government has withdrawn from its military agreements with France. The over 1,000 US troops in Niger have been restricted to their bases. France has evacuated 600 nationals from the country, while in a veiled threat, President Emmanuel Macron grandly declared he “would not tolerate any attack against France and its interests.” In response the French ambassador and French troops have been ordered out of Niger.
Meanwhile, a rift has emerged in West Africa, with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) led by Nigeria’s Bola Tinubu on one side, and the military governments of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger on the other. ECOWAS is threatening an invasion to restore former President Mohamed Bazoum to power. But the divisions are deep and the Nigerian Senate refused to support an intervention proposed by the President. Mali and Burkina Faso have announced that they will consider an operation against Niger to be an attack on them and respond accordingly. The Organization of African States has come out against intervention by anyone. At the same time, rallies have brought thousands of Nigeriens out in support of the military government that removed Bazoum. It is clear that an invasion of Niger would provoke a regional war.
Singh Sells Out for Liberal Sunny Ways
by Gary Porter and Barry Weisleder
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh found a way to avoid a federal election, and to gain a vague promise of health service reforms – likely at the cost of huge increases in military spending. The Liberal-NDP deal paves the way for Justin Trudeau to stay in power until 2025, at least. That goes to serve capitalist political ‘stability’ in the relentless march to climate catastrophe, growing social inequality and the horrors of inter-imperialist war.
Interim Conservative Party Leader Candice Bergen made the absurd claim that the Liberal-NDP deal hands the reins of government to the NDP — claiming that Jagmeet Singh is “basically” deputy prime minister. Bergen seems to be confused about the difference between a coalition and a mere agreement in which no member of the NDP will have a cabinet post.
No Market Solution to the Housing Crisis
by Yener Kara
Canada’s housing crisis has reached catastrophic proportions and is only worsening. There is less affordable housing available, and homelessness is on the rise, all while the federal and provincial governments prioritize profit over people’s human right to housing.
There is no market solution to the chronic shortage of affordable housing. Instead, what is needed is for the federal government to build sufficient, publicly-owned, high-quality, environmentally sustainable, union-built housing in liveable, walkable communities, available on an affordable, rent-geared-to-income basis, as stated by the NDP Socialist Caucus. Also needed is a Social Investment Bank to fund co-ops, and to work diligently to eradicate homelessness in the first mandate of an NDP government. The provision of shelters should focus on oppressed communities – and especially women and LGBTQ folks – where victims are fleeing violence, abuse and discrimination. This public housing effort can only be possible if the federal government commits to adequately funding the construction and operations of such housing indefinitely as a human right. The funds necessary for this can be allocated from the wasted public expenditure on national defence, including the 88 F-35 fighter jets that the government procured at a cost of over $70 billion.