A Reader Comments
These comments - from a reader, JR - were sent to us before we had the comments thread function added, so we are reproducing them here as an article. We invite others to comment. JR asserts that there is no popular uprising going on in Syria, and raises two issues in his second comment - what happened in Chile in 1973 and what the relationship is between coercion, the loss of legitimacy, bribery (power of the purse), and persuasion.
Loo's response to these (posted 1/20/12) appear at the end of JR's comments.
.......As is apparent from popular struggles that are currently
underway in the world (e.g., in Syria.....
No, there is no popular struggle in Syria.
Your site came to my attention because you've written some quality
"In Chile in 1970, a socialist president, Dr. Salvador Allende, was
elected—the first Marxist to assume power through the electoral
process. Allende proceeded to nationalize industries that had
previously been dominated by foreign businesses. The US government in
conjunction with multinationals such as Anaconda Copper conspired to
overthrow the Allende government. The coup’s approach in the weeks and
months before it happened on September 11, 1973, was apparent to
everyone in Chile. The masses demanded of Allende that they be armed
in order to defend the government and to have a chance to fight off
the coup. Allende wavered and ended up staking his hopes on the
military upholding the Constitution, declaring repeatedly in public
pronouncements that the army was “patriotic” and would not participate
in a coup. Why would he do this when it was clear that this was
foolish in the extreme? To a significant extent, Allende did so
because he adhered to the USSR’s political line—securing a compromise
with the US imperialists for a piece of the action, but not a genuine
revolution. Allende and thousands of Chileans paid for this halfway
version of socialism with their lives."
There is a compelling and evidence based alternative narrative of that
Review of the book on Allende and modern Chilean history:
A topical article by one of the above authors:
A terse discussion about the subject matter with the author in the
comments section here:
(it can be found nowhere else )
"This highlights a critical point. In Mao’s pithy phrase: “Political
power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” Or, as one American
Congressional member in 2007 said candidly when asked by some of his
constituents why he was not moving to impeach Bush and Cheney: “They
have the guns.”[iv]
“Any serious attempt at structural and dramatic political change must
confront this reality. You can elect all of the sympathetic
politicians you want, but if you do not command the coercive
apparatus, you will lose the (political and economic) war sooner or
later. A gun placed against one’s temple, after all, makes a very
persuasive argument. An amply equipped and trained military force
facing a larger, unarmed, untrained, and relatively unorganized mass
assemblage nearly always carries the day.” (Globalization and the
Demolition of Society, pp. 245-247)"
It's an important point, but I'm not sure if I should completely
agree. There is the power of physical coercion, and there are at least
two other powers, quite separate from it: the power of the purse, and
the power to change the minds of other people. The Scheherazade legend
illustrates the latter.
From Dennis Loo:
Thanks for your comments. I appreciate it that you have linked to sources that you offer as evidence for your assertions. That is very helpful for any dialogue.
As to the first point, that there is no popular uprising in Syria: I see that the sites you provide claim that there is no popular uprising, but the evidence is overwhelming that there is indeed a popular uprising in process in Syria. Here is a link, for example, to al-Jazeera's coverage. The photos alone, leaving aside the interviews and signs from the participants, would indicate that this is no engineered uprising. While foreign interests can be and are engaged in trying to manipulate local forces, there is no question that Syria is a legitimate part of what the world knows as "Arab Spring."
As to the second point about what happened in Chile circa 1973: I truly admire much of what my friend Paul Craig Roberts writes and it is a very good thing that he is willing to say what he says because there are not enough people from his background and prominence who are willing to call out the horrid moves being made by our policy-makers. But I do have to say that his characterization of Allende and the Left in Chile (what he describes in his book as "Marxist terrorists"), his view that the fascist Augusto Pinochet's coup and iron-fisted rule were a move towards human rights, that Allende wasn't elected, that it was Allende who provoked the coup plotters into their bloody coup, and his much too rosy assessment of the role of the "Chicago Boys" (Milton Friedman et al) are the very reverse of what occurred in Chile. Roberts, according to his comments in the thread you cite, doubts that the CIA was a sponsor of the 1973 fascist coup. But this is not only contradicted by what people such as Henry Kissinger have admitted about their role, it is contradicted by what those who have paid much attention to how the CIA operates know about it and about how the U.S. government goes about its foreign affairs - when a government or leader provides an obstacle to their plans in a country or region, they have repeatedly moved to oust them with coups and when necessary, assassinations. See, for example, this passage from Wikipedia about Kissinger, Nixon, and Chile:
"A document released by the CIA in 2000 titled "CIA Activities in Chile" revealed that the CIA actively supported the military junta after the overthrow of Allende and that it made many of Pinochet's officers into paid contacts of the CIA or US military, even though many were known to be involved in notorious human rights abuses, until Democratic challenger Jimmy Carter defeated President Gerald Ford in 1976.
"On September 16, 1973, five days after Pinochet had assumed power, the following exchange about the coup took place between Kissinger and President Nixon:
As to your third point about the relationship between coercion, legitimacy, and bribery (the power of the purse):
The passage that you cite from my book is making the point that many people, especially in the U.S., overlook or underestimate the role of force, and the coercive force employed by the state in particular. That is the main thrust of that passage and a very important one to make to especially Americans. You are correct that the state's use of violence is not the only form of power that it exercises. That is a point that I make in many places throughout the book. So I think that we agree that the state uses both persuasion and coercion, with persuasion taking the form of offering people incentives such as money to comply and using its powers of persuasion ideologically and politically as well.