HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » "Collective Panic&qu...

Sat Jun 21, 2014, 03:37 PM


"Collective Panic" in VZ - great article on lies of the oligarchy [View all]

Most of you are aware that since 1998 democracy in Venezuela has been under heavy and near-continuous attack by that country's wealthy oligarchy, with ample overt and covert backing from the U.S. government.

It is a great tragedy of our time that our government still does not support the struggles of the people in Latin America, but continues to align with their ruling classes and in many cases the worst of their oppressors. In one of the greatest positive moments of the 21st century, however, the attempted CIA-backed military coup d'etat in 2002 was turned back by a massive uprising of the people.

More recently, the death of Chavez has encouraged the pro-oligarchic minority to renew their attempts at permanent social sabotage. As the oligarchs continue to lose elections, these violent outbreaks have had the sole aim of bringing down the elected government and reversing the achievements of the Bolivarian reform movement, which continues to be backed by the majority.

The lies of the oligarchs (who still control most of Venezuela's mass media) and related disinformation campaigns receive privileged treatment in the Western media. At times they have also been exposed. One example was when an "opposition" Twitter feed took famous pictures of protest and police brutality from around the world and falsely captioned these as being from Venezuela!

Though almost as clumsy, other lies persist, however, and are repeated on a frequent basis by New York Times and Reuters. They are also echoed by a small but very persistent grouping of left-liberal anti-communist ideologists who always seem to toe the State Department line, as is also evident on this site.

Here's an excellent rundown from Jacobin on one of the most pathological oligarchic myths, specifically the panic about the self-organization of the Venezuelan working class (also known as the colectivos).

"The dangers of this myth should not be understated," George Ciccariello-Maher writes. "By dehumanizing all those it broadly describes, the term colectivos legitimizes violence against them (just as the bizarre, racist rumor that the National Guard is infiltrated by Cubans no doubt serves to legitimize sniper attacks)."

It should also recall for you the Tea Party rhetoric against "collectivists" in the States. The "opposition" in Venezuela occupies much the same politics as the Tea Party, but they have grown far more extreme and more prone to use the organized violence that they project on to their opponents.


An Empty Signifier

On the surface, colectivos refers to the grassroots revolutionary collectives that make up the most organized element of chavismo. Beyond this, the term loses all clarity. On February 12, for example, it was widely claimed on Twitter that the student Bassil da Costa was shot by armed collectives. On February 19, videos were circulated claiming that colectivos were rampaging through the wealthy zone of Altamira in Caracas firing hundreds of live rounds. And when the young beauty queen Génesis Carmona was killed, her death was immediately blamed on the colectivos.

As it turns out, da Costa was almost certainly killed by uniformed and plainclothes Sebin (intelligence) officials who have since been arrested and charged.

(How often do you see that with police killings in the United States, by the way?)

Those present were not colectivos, even according to Altamira’s opposition mayor Ramón Muchacho and were not firing live rounds. According to both ballistics evidence and her own friends, Génesis Carmona was shot from behind, while the only Chavistas nearby seem to have been at least several blocks in the opposite direction. And yet these claims and many like them circulated instantly and tirelessly throughout social media, feeding a gullible mainstream and foreign media, often mediated by English-language blogs like Caracas Chronicles.

We could add to these examples both the many nonexistent, imagined aggressions as well as the overall death count from the protests. According to one detailed account, of those killed by “unidentified gunmen” — the category we would expect to correlate most directly to the fear of the colectivos — less than one-third were actually opposition protesters.

So how can we make sense of the spread of this shadowy concept? The label was certainly not taken on voluntarily. Like many similar terms — notably that of “Tupamaros” (created by the Metropolitan Police in the 1980s to describe urban militants) — colectivos emerged and gained its recent force as a denunciation invented by its enemies. In what Frantz Fanon would call “overdetermination from without,” individuals are identified as collective members prior to choosing that identity themselves. The term’s aspiration to reductive homogenization can be seen in how it is most often rendered with the definite article — the collectives. The colectivos are armed by the opposition’s definition. But only a small sector of revolutionary organizations are in fact armed, while most tarred with the term are not, making the choice of the term peculiar indeed. All of which leaves us with a well-worn set of markers that are simultaneously economic, political, and racial: being poor, dark-skinned, and wearing a red shirt is enough to be deemed a collective member these days.

24 replies, 1985 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 24 replies Author Time Post
Reply "Collective Panic" in VZ - great article on lies of the oligarchy [View all]
JackRiddler Jun 2014 OP
JackRiddler Jun 2014 #1
Comrade Grumpy Jun 2014 #2
JackRiddler Jun 2014 #3
hack89 Jun 2014 #4
JackRiddler Jun 2014 #5
hack89 Jun 2014 #6
JackRiddler Jun 2014 #7
hack89 Jun 2014 #8
socialist_n_TN Jun 2014 #10
hack89 Jun 2014 #12
socialist_n_TN Jun 2014 #19
hack89 Jun 2014 #20
msanthrope Jun 2014 #13
hack89 Jun 2014 #14
msanthrope Jun 2014 #16
hack89 Jun 2014 #17
msanthrope Jun 2014 #18
JackRiddler Jun 2014 #21
malaise Jun 2014 #9
socialist_n_TN Jun 2014 #11
JackRiddler Jun 2014 #15
JackRiddler Jun 2014 #22
woo me with science Jun 2014 #23
JackRiddler Jun 2014 #24