Hi. Here's the best article I've seen on the Mexican election,
the major factor not discussed being the connection with the
Tiger of the second essay. Seeger is on point, just a click away.
A New Revolution (Mexico)
September 6, 2006 12:41 PM
Mexico moved one step closer to a social explosion with
the Federal Election Tribunal's decision to crown
conservative Felipe Calderon as the victor in the hotly
contested presidential elections of July 2. The
tribunal acknowledged Calderon's campaign had "violated
the norms of public order," particularly with the role
played by the business associations in airing rabid TV
ads attacking leftist candidate Andres Miguel Lopez
Obrador. But it refused to question the fundamental
legitimacy of the elections or to recount all the votes
as demanded by the leftist opposition.
Lopez Obrador immediately rejected the tribunal's
ruling, declaring that a "privileged minority" has
seized control of Mexico's institutions, "keeping the
country in ruins and the majority in poverty". He
called for the convening on September 16 of a National
Democratic Convention "to form a government that has
the legitimacy to reestablish the Republic and
As he spoke tens of thousands of his supporters
retained control for the 37th consecutive day of the
centre of Mexico City around the Zocalo, the country's
main historic plaza. The rest of Mexico is also gripped
with unrest, particularly the city of Oaxaca to the
south. There some 350 popular organizations have staged
a virtual insurrection, taking control of the city and
demanding the ouster of the state's governor. While not
directly tied to the presidential election, the
movement reflects the profound discontent in recent
years that has led to similar uprisings in Chiapas,
Mexico's southern most state, and in San Salvador
Atenco, a city that borders on the capital.
Some political observers, like Denise Dresser of
Mexico's Autonomous Technical Institute, recognize the
legitimacy of much of the political and economic
platform of the left, but lament the "refusal of Lopez
Obrador to move to the centre, to modify his demands.
He says 'to hell with the institutions' and this could
tear the country apart".
But the real problem of Mexico runs much deeper. The
entrenched political classes along with the Electoral
Tribunal, and the Federal Electoral Institute before
it, will not make any concessions to Lopez Obrador
because they are afraid the entire system of privileges
will collapse if they make even modest concessions.
The campaign slogan of Lopez Obrador was
straightforward: "For the good of all, the poor first."
His program during the campaign was actually quite
reformist. In a country where half the population lives
below the poverty line Lopez Obrador pledged to provide
a stipend to the elderly and healthcare for the poor.
Millions of jobs would also be created, particularly by
undertaking large construction projects to modernize
Mexico's dilapidated transportation system. He also
promised to renegotiate the North American Free Trade
Agreement with the United States, particularly the
clauses that allow the importation of cheap subsidized
grains that undermine Mexico's peasant producers.
More importantly Lopez Obrador pledged to break up the
corrupt economic relationship that exists between the
business class and government bureaucrats. Everyone in
Mexico knows that bribes and kickbacks are commonplace
throughout Mexico as much of the country's wealth is
skimmed off at the expense of the workers and the poor.
This system existed under the previous governments of
the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). It became
particularly insidious under the incumbent President
Vincente Fox and his National Action party (PAN)
because it more than the PRI, is the party of an
entrenched business elite. And not only is Lopez
Obrador threatening to break up the system of inside
favours and corruption, he is also proclaiming that the
rich will have to pay the income and business taxes
that they routinely avoid.
All this is too much for the dominant classes. They
cannot countenance a thorough review of the election
process or the opening of the ballot boxes to recount
all the votes in an election that was fraught with
innumerable irregularities. It is this privileged
minority that has radicalized Lopez Obrador and the
Mexico has had two major social upheavals in its
history. One came with the independence movement in
1810, and the other with the revolution that began in
1910 with a fraudulent election staged by a dictator.
On September 16, the same day on which a military
parade will take place in Mexico City, a massive
popular assembly will be held to discuss the creation
of an authentic democracy and the possible formation of
a parallel government. This could very well be Mexico's
next revolution, four years before the century mark.
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1st Sep 2006
The Tiger at Bay: Scary Times Ahead
by Immanuel Wallerstein
When many years ago, some of us said that the decline of United States
hegemony in the world-system was inevitable, unstoppable, and already
occurring, we were told by most people that we ignored the obvious
overwhelming military and economic strength of the United States. And there
were some critics who said that our analyses were harmful because they
served as a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Then the neo-cons came to power in the Bush presidency, and they implemented
their policy of unilateral macho militarism, designed (they said) to restore
unquestioned United States hegemony by frightening U.S. enemies and
intimidating U.S. friends into unquestioned obedience to U.S. policies in
the world arena. The neo-cons had their chance and their wars and have
spectacularly failed either to frighten those regarded as enemies or to
intimidate erstwhile allies into unquestioned obedience. The U.S. position
in the world-system is far weaker today than it was in 2000, the result
precisely of the very misguided neo-con policies adopted during the Bush
presidency. Today, quite a few people are ready to talk openly about U.S.
So what happens now? There are two places to look: inside the United States,
and in the rest of the world. In the rest of the world, governments of all
stripes are paying less and less attention to anything the United States
says and wants. Madeleine Albright, when she was Secretary of State, said
that the United States was "the indispensable nation." This may have been
true once, but it is certainly not true now. Now, it's a tiger at bay.
It's not yet fully the "paper tiger" of which Mao Zedong spoke, but it's
certainly on its way to being exposed as a tiger crouching in self-defense.
How do other nations treat a tiger at bay? With a great deal of prudence, it
must be said. If the United States is no longer capable of getting its way
almost anywhere, it is still capable of doing a great deal of damage if it
decides to lash out. Iran may defy the United States with aplomb, but it
tries to be careful not to humiliate it. China may be feeling its oats and
sure that it will get still stronger in the decades to come, but it handles
the United States with kid gloves. Hugo Chavez may openly tweak the tiger's
nose, but older and wiser Fidel Castro speaks less provocatively. And
Italy's new Prime Minister, Romano Prodi, holds Condoleezza Rice's hands
while pursuing a foreign policy clearly aimed at strengthening a world role
for Europe independent of the United States.
So why are they all so prudent? To answer that, we must look at what is
going on in the United States. The de facto chief executive, Dick Cheney,
knows what needs to be done from the point of view of the macho militarists,
whose leader he is. The United States must "stay the course" and indeed
escalate the violence. The alternative is to admit defeat, and Cheney is not
someone to do that.
Cheney does however have an acute political problem at home. He and his
policies are clearly losing support, massively, within the United States.
The scare speeches about terrorists and the accusations of treason launched
at his critics no longer seem to be as effective as they once were. The
recent victory of war critic Ned Lamont over war defender Joe Lieberman in
the Democratic senatorial primary in Connecticut has rattled the U.S.
political establishment of both parties. Within days, a very large number of
politicians seemed to move some distance in the direction of closing down
the Iraq operation.
If, as seems quite possible now, the Democrats win control of both houses of
Congress in the November 2006 elections, there risks being a stampede to
withdraw, despite the hesitancy of the Democratic congressional leadership.
This will be all the more sure if, in various local elections, prominent
antiwar candidates win.
What will the Cheney camp do then? One can't expect that they will
gracefully acknowledge the coming of a Democratic president in the 2008
elections. They will know that they have probably only two years left to
create situations from which it would be almost impossible for the United
States to retreat. And since they would not, with a Democratic congress, be
able to get any important legislation passed, they will concentrate (even
more than now) on trying to use the executive powers of the presidency,
under the docile front man, George W. Bush, to stir up military havoc around
the world and to reduce radically the sphere of civil liberties within the
The Cheney cabal will however be resisted, on many fronts. The most
important locus of resistance will no doubt be the leadership of the U.S.
armed forces (with the exception of the Air Force), who clearly think that
the current military adventures have greatly overextended U.S. military
capacity and are very worried that they will be the ones held for blame
later by U.S. public opinion when Rumsfeld and Cheney have disappeared from
the newspaper headlines. The Cheney cabal will be resisted as well by big
business who see the current policies as having very negative consequences
for the U.S. economy.
And of course they will be resisted by the left and center-left within the
United States who are feeling reinvigorated, angry, and anxious about the
course of U.S. policy. There is a slow but clear radicalization of the left
and even the center-left.
When that happens, the militarist right will retaliate very aggressively.
When Lamont won the primary, a reader of the Wall Street Journal wrote a
letter saying that "we have reached a tipping point in this country -- if we
allow the left to govern as the majority our country is finished." He calls
Republican leaders "inept." He, and many others, will be looking for fiercer
Everyone worries about civil war in Iraq. How about in the United States?
Scary times ahead!
Immanuel Wallerstein, Senior Research Scholar at Yale University, is the
author of The Decline of American Power: The U.S. in a Chaotic World (New
Copyright C2006 Immanuel Wallerstein, distributed by Agence Global
Sent: Thursday, September 07, 2006 4:37 AM
Subject: Listen to Pete Seeger's New 60-Second Recording
Give a listen to this.
Frank and Mary Hamilton
Listen to Pete Seeger's New 60-Second Recording
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