There was an interesting post on Booman Tribune about how few liberal blogs covered the anti-Bush protests in Argentina, that got me thinking because it pointed to some right wing blog posts about the protests that reminded me of and reinforced some ideas I’ve had for a long time. I’d have posted about it earlier, but it took the weekend to get my brain around this.
It wasn’t the lack of lefty blog posts that got me thinking. It was the content of the right wing blog posts. Like this one from, one of the usual suspects.
The protesters are, in effect, pro-poverty…The most vociferous opponent of hemispheric free trade is, of course, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. But there are other leftist leaders, in Argentina, Brazil, and a couple of other South American countries. It was reported today that the free trade agreement may go forward without them. If they really think that a self-imposed blockade is good public policy, they won’t mind. Somehow, though, I doubt that these officials are as dumb as the pro-poverty protesters now garnering headlines in Argentina. (emphasis added)
It occurred to me that I’d heard the kind of stuff before, most recently in the comments resulting from a brouhaha that recently broke out about the portrayal of certain black Republicans. It’s the same basic rhetoric I’ve heard in just about every discussion I’ve been involved in over why there aren’t more black republicans. My point has always been that Republicans — like other predominantly white organizations — spend more time asking why more black people aren’t joining them than they do asking themselves why they aren’t attracting more black supporters.
In other words, the avoid the reality that the reason they don’t attract more black supporters is because they don’t address — and aren’t seen as addressing — the needs and concerns of many in black communities. The analysis never gets further than that because it would probably undermine their current base of power. So every discussion I’ve had ends up with the other side’s argument boiling down to this: the reason more blacks don’t support the Republican party is because they don’t know what’s good for them.
That’s the nice way of putting it. The more blunt way of putting it would be much closer to the way the conservative blogger above put it. Because they are dumb. The blacks who don’t vote Republican are dumb. The anti-Bush supporters in Latin America — or anyone else in Latin America who doesn’t support the U.S. Agenda — is dumb. The folks marching against Bush and the U.S. agenda in Latin America just don’t know what’s good for them.
Or do they?
I’ve said before that I tend to be slightly influenced by what I happen to be reading at the moment, and at the moment I happen to be reading. Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky. I’m only a couple of chapters into it, so I can’t claim to be well versed in all things Chomsky, but I’ve already come across something he said that speaks directly to the protesters in Latin America and whether they know what’s good for them.
…the primary concern is to prevent interdependence, regardless of the ideology. Remember, we’re a global power, so we have to make sure all that all the various parts of the world continue servnig their assigned functions in our global system. And the assigned functions of the Third World are to be markets for American businesses, sources of resources for American businesses, to provide cheap labor for American businesses, and so on. I mean, there’s no big secret about that — the media won’t tell you and scholarship won’t tell you, but all you have to do is look at declassified government documents and all this is explains frankly and explicitly.
Here’s virtually a quote: the main commitment of the United States in the Third World, must be to prevent the rise of nationalist regimes which are responsive to pressures from the masses of the population for improvement in low living standards and diversification of production; the reason is, we have to maintain a climate that is conducive to investment, and to ensure conditions which allow for repatriation of profits to the West.
… If a country begins to pay attention to its own population, it’s not going to be paying adequate attention to the overriding needs of U.S. investors.
What can I say to add to that? Except to add (something else that Chomsky says in his book — particularly in his discussion about Reagan, the Contras, and the Sandanistas) we’ll support any governments that can deliver the above conditions in Latin America, military dictatorships and human rights violators included. As long as it keeps ’em in service to power. Our power.
So, if you ask me, the protesters in Argentina and elsewhere were marching precisely because they do know what’s good for them. And maybe, just maybe, that’s the same reason more black folks don’t vote Republican. More or less.