Let’s cut to the chase. Most people, Western intelligentsia very much included, fail to grasp the nature of imperialism (see economics of imperialism and two minute guide to imperialism). This is understandable. We’ve been raised from infancy on the benignity of the West and its “values”, and on the presumption of a real democracy informed by independent media. The presumption too of the moral fitness of a US led West to act as disinterested global policeman. This despite its long, bloody and ruthlessly self-serving history in the global south: the Middle East and Latin America especially.
Given this, and the situation in Venezuela, the Facebook exchange below is instructive. A word, before I get to it, on two of the protagonists. Eric Kraus, an FB friend, is a Russian national and Russian nationalist with whom I disagree on a few things – most relevant here my finding him too quick to deem Nicolás Maduro and his ministers incompetent (how would we know, given (a) the combined weight of hostile media and (b) the very confounding variable of crippling sanctions?) – while agreeing wholeheartedly with his understanding of America as the world’s most dangerous state.
Margaret Holwill I do not know, not even virtually. But her faith in the essential truthfulness of corporate media, whose singularly coordinated message on Venezuela she has taken to heart, typifies that of so many others. I can’t find it in my own heart to blame her, not least because she debates with greater courtesy than does Eric, whose deployment of such choice phrases as “delusional … are you insane? … it doesn’t make a fucks bit of difference how many countries are backing an obviously illegitimate pretender sponsored by Washington … and a mystifying, you don’t even speak Spanish …” strike me as not entirely conducive to rigorous inquiry.
But while I don’t blame her for being brainwashed – and do blame Eric for gratuitous rudeness – the fact is, Eric is right (that prejudging of Maduro excepted) and Margaret entirely wrong.
Alas, she speaks for the many. Let me know what you think.
Oh Lord. How could someone dedicate so much effort and brainpower in securing so much information but not have the wit to question either the authenticity of the information (propaganda as we know it to be) or the well armed knowledge of murderous, devestating previous interventions in other countries affairs? If she were capable of this extraordinary compilation of facts gleaned from MSM, how could she be so mindless to the suffering of so many victims of US wars such as the Iraqi war, founded on MSM peddling Blair’s lies? I don’t understand the mindless repetition of supposed facts she has read and swallowed whole, hook and all, somehow lending credibility to her claims unless she really believes that if you say something often enough it becomes the truth, regardless of it’s provenance.
It’s very disheartening to realise that a woman, who obviously has a functioning brain, be reduced to a force fed parrot.
I wish I hadn’t read the exchange now.
Naughty Philip. My day was going so well.
That’s a good question in your second sentence. Yesterday I had my second quarrel with a friend over Venezuela. The first friend espoused views – of “failed Chavism” – similar to Margaret Holwill’s but Friend B emphatically does not. Indeed, Friend B takes me to task for wasting readers’ time with the views of Holwill, whom she described as ‘deranged’. More importantly she takes issue with my opening assertion, that in general the Western intelligentsia has a dire grasp of the nature of imperialism, so finds my post patronising. I don’t think she’s right on the first – Holwill is clearly sane and simply expresses the ignorance and naivety of the educated many. On the second I may be deluded in believing her wrong, and more deluded in thinking I can reach some of that Western intelligentsia and change a few minds. We all have to leave room for the real possibility we are just plain wrong, if not at the level of content then in our assumptions of who is reading us and what they already believe.
There’s another difference between the two spats. After an at times heated exchange over the phone, Friend B and I parted on excellent terms. We are still very good friends.
PS – Since penning my reply to you, Susan, I checked my inbox. There’s an alert to Caitlin Johnstone’s latest post. I haven’t read it yet but – I’m very perceptive on these things – can read a subtle clue in its title as to the line she takes in it.