Saturday, 2 April 2011


What is the political meaning of the word 'reactionary'? A term that became popular during the French Revolution and attributed to Edmund Burke among others, 'reactionary' is one who wishes to bring back the status quo ante. Given that society is in a constant state of change as are the needs of human beings, institutions need to adjust to the needs of people. 
The desire to preserve the status quo makes is what make someone a conservative, which in my view really entails opposed to recognizing that change is vital for the survival of society itself. The wish to return to the status quo ante is a romantic dream usually of those who wish to restore lost privileges of owing to change in the social order. Examples of reactionaries: monarchists, Fascists, religious groups that want to bring back a Medieval theocratic society.
A rebel movement trying to overthrow a regime that is more progressive than the one rebels wish to install, then the rebel movement is indeed reactionary. This was the case with the Nicaraguan Contras and the Taliban in the 1980s where in both cases the regimes were more progressive than the ones rebels wished to replace them. In both cases the US was behind reactionary rebel movements.
Do I believe that at least some of the rebels in Libya are reactionary in their goals, and do I believe the same for the CIA, MI-6 and French Intelligence that has been collaborating with them? There is some evidence so far that indicates rebels in Libya include al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and other Islamic militants. NATO Supreme Commander has stated for the record that the identity of rebel groups and leaders needs investigation to determine if indeed there are such elements as I mentioned. 
Gaddafi initially said that al-Qaeda was behind the rebel movement, and now there is more and more circumstantial evidence that the US may have been collaborating with al-Qaeda in Libya, while fighting against it in Iraq and Afghanistan. Is al-Qaeda reactionary? Absolutely because it wants to create a Medieval theocratic society! What is the US doing collaborating with rebels whose identity it has yet to ascertain, as NATO commander acknowledged? Obama is no better than Reagan during the Iran-Contra scandal, and he is no better than Bush who blatantly lied about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

One may argue, well that is just the way the 'real world' is, the world of mass criminals projecting an image of honor, freedom, and democracy, right? Perhaps one could justify it all by arguing that it is part of the international relations theory of 'neo-realism'. I cannot recall that I ever believed in the tooth fairy when I was a child because nightmarish societal conditions were far too ominous to allow me the luxury of such pleasant dreams, but I did view Christianity as Socialism. Perhaps my commitment to social justice has Christian roots after all, as has been the case with so many before me whether they called themselves Socialists or something else.

Does Socialism and a commitment to social justice exist in North Korea and Burma? No, and neither is it a model I would consider appropriate for any country, including those currently practicing it. As far as Venezuela, in previous postings I have made my position known, and I doubt that repeating myself would make any difference to those who have made up their minds one way or the other. 
Those who think Hugo Chavez is the devil in disguise should read 19th and 20th century history and compare the current regime with those of the past that were tyrannical toward the majority of the people and served the domestic landed and business elites and foreign business interests. Romulo Betancourt tried modest reforms in the 1940s, only to have pro-US dictator Marcos Perez Jimenez pursue anti-labor, anti-reformist policies that kept most people poor and oppressed.

Finally, the central argument before us is not the tooth fairy or socialism that are thrown out there as distractions and distortions of the facts. The central issue is about the crimes against humanity by regimes operating under the existing political economy, invariably wearing a veil of 'freedom and democracy' today and in the past century. Socialism has had a very short interlude in history and no doubt under certain regimes it bloodied its hands and has its share of shortcomings. 
By contrast, capitalism has existed for roughly five centuries and the crimes that have been committed in its name are an ocean in comparison with Socialism that was once a small pond now almost dried up. I sincerely hope that people will always strive to move away from reactionary or conservative paths for there can be no anthropocentric progress along such paths. I hope that people never abandon their endeavors for a more humane and socially just society, no matter what label one wants to attach to such a society, no matter how far from ideal it will always be.

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