My wife and I couldn't visit Argentina for the first few years we were married. Her passport was good everywhere but back home, yet Argentina lacked passport quality paper to make new passports, and so if she'd returned to Argentina she'd have been stuck there. She would have had to renew her passport there and it would have been months before they could do so. That is how dysfunctional Argentina was. She had no control over her own finances, her own money supply, etc...
...eventually we made it to Argentina. And I noticed there were folks picketing a bank. These were demonstrators with signs, drums, music, who marched almost like a military band back and forth in front of the bank. My Brother in law told me,
"Oh these are 'los piqueteros.' They are paid to demonstrate."
Who are Piqueteros?
The Piqueteros would demonstrate for the issues they were upset about, but mostly they'd demonstrate for anyone who paid them to.
Piqueteros, are, according to their own propaganda, a make work movement of the Communist party:
" The rise of the piquetero movement (piquetero in Spanish literally means "picketer"), which has united impoverished unemployed workers in an effort to secure a sustainable livelihood in Argentina, would suggest that such activism is possible. This is true even after the country's economic collapse in 2001, which left over 50 percent of those in the greater Buenos Aires area below the poverty line and more than two-thirds of the urban workforce jobless. This new social movement has not only helped to redefine the traditional idea of the "labor" movement, but also provides a new model for collective organizing in the regional struggle against unjust economic policies." [piketeros]
Unfortunately in reality, they serve whoever pays them. I suppose if you talk to Piquetero leaders and rank and file they'll tell you they are pursuing revolution, demonstrating against injustice, and fighting injustice in the process. But in reality movements like the Piqueteros become a distraction.
Looking at the left in the 2016 election, since, and looking back into the past. Our Left seems a lot more like the Piqueteros than I thought at the time. At the time I thought that was corrupt and the USA was such a better place to live. But since those days I've seen the USA look more and more like Argentina. The Russians have State controlled Opposition. The Piqueteros were controlled by whoever had the money to. Our left thinks they are independent, revolutionary and progressive, yet they constantly attack other progressives.
Like The Lost Patrol
American Piqueteros Are Like the Lost Patrol of the Crock Cartoons:
Looking at the Left attacking Democratic Progressives, undermining the Democrats, and turning Bernie Sanders into a hero, I can't help but think of those piqueteros I met. Marching eternally, and accomplishing little. What is effective about a movement when it becomes an institution with no real message and no real means of convincing others. People laugh at the Piqueteros. If Argentina becomes a dictatorship again, they'll be the controlled opposition of the new regime. Modern "Managed democracy" learned long ago how to use opposition to control message and destroy real potential opposition before it becomes real. This was the Theme of Orwell's 1984. The main character is recruited to join an opposition, managed by a man working for Big Brother. The FSB and modern incipient oligarchs are experts at controlled opposition and destruction.
Difference between Piqueteros and Effective Movements
The difference between an effective opposition and Controlled opposition, isn't the piqueteros, activists, marchers, it is the vision of the movement, it's ability to work with others and whether it works for and can reach all the people.
"The people of all great revolutions fight for true representation."
Of all classes, people, races, sexes. As Hannah Arendt said;
"And though many revolutions have ended in tyranny, it has also always been remembered that, in the words of Condorcet, “The word ‘revolutionary’ can be applied only to revolutions whose aim is freedom.” [Hannah Arendt]
And Freedom ==> a Society where people not only can move with liberty, but have access to the resources, tools and rights to enjoy that liberty. Things like Universal Healthcare. Revolution for its own sake is a waste of time. Revolution out of anger, or aimed at crushing others, will fail to provide liberty for everyone and will crush the freedoms of many.
Our Piqueteros are the Lost Patrol of Politics
Our Piqueteros are the lost patrol of politics. They may think they are serving a greater purpose, but their actions are twisted into subverting, degrading and undermining their allies. Piqueteros will turn on their allies, as the Communists did for Hitler during the 1940 when Hitler and Stalin were allies. Ineffective movements are ruthless, see the ends justify the means, and are heartless. When you want a movement to be "controlled opposition" just put ambitious, greedy or kompromat people in charge. Even if the revolution succeeds, the new leaders wind up being, "just another caudillo." Like Castro, or the current leaders of Venezuela. The fight winds up subverting the revolution. Fascism has the mindset of a mob.
Turning Anything into a Recruitment tool
If I look up controlled opposition I find dozens of Right Wing sites projecting the story of "Goldstein" onto Jewish People. But that was not the point of Orwell's story. And they pickup Fascist, Stalinist and Hitlerian messages when they use that theme to distort the message.
Use of "The Big Lie" to Indoctrinate
The message of 1984 is that organizations like Stormfront on the right or the Green Party on the left, may well be "controlled opposition, without any of their myriads of flying monkeys, dreamers, followers, and activists realizing they are being manipulated. Joseph Goebbels was preaching his own methodology, but to sell it to his followers, he had to project it onto his targets ("enemies"), the Jews, just as Stormfront projects the meme of "controlled opposition" onto their enemies:
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” [Goebbels]
They thus use the concept of controlled opposition to recruit and indoctrinate, and also to stop people from thinking. In the Goebbels quote I just shared he starts by projecting this method onto "the Jews." Just as Stormfront projects "controlled Opposition" as a tool of a nefarious cabal of Jewish Sages.
As Always, I've got more to say. But I'll stop here for now.
But I do suggest folks seeking deeper understanding read:
- Hannah Arendt on Revolution
- Hannah Arendt on Revolution Liberty and Freedom
Sources and Further Reading:
- Crock Cartoon
- Related Posts
- Are we Experiencing Controlled Opposition
- Hannah Arendt on Revolution
- Hannah Arendt on Revolution Liberty and Freedom
Well things got better and eventually we returned to Argentina, renewed her passport, and had a nice visit. I learned about the Black Community of Argentina, it's history, how it create Candombe, invented and gifted Tango to new immigrants. And how the Government there systematically sought to exterminate both the indigineous and black folks in that country. They ended Slavery before the USA did. But it was a tricky end. Blacks were drafted into the Argentine Army and used in it's intranecine civil wars and in wars with Brazil and other countries. By USA standards Argentina is still a mixed society. I met a lot of folks who by USA standards, would be considered black. During our attendance at the conference we attended at the time on Argentine Literature, we met a fine young man who could pass for a brother of the late Singer Prince. He considered himself "Italian." Later I'd see the same phenomena with people living in the Dominican Republic. It is a different kind of racism from the USA But it is still racism. I met some indigenous people. Like the Piqueteros, and our young people, they needed worthwhile, uplifting work, and to be paid for it.
We'd go back to Argentina several times. I love the place. Winter is in our Summer, and folks wear bathing Suits for Santa Claus. Light Menorahs in the heat of winter. The men sing on their way to work downtown at sun up.