Sunday, April 16, 2017

“African Arguments” series from Zed Books

 
















Zed Books (London) has a series of publications under the rubric, “African Arguments,” that I enthusiastically recommend to those with even the slightest interest in what has (recently) happened, is happening, and might happen on the African continent. I have several books in the series and plan on getting more (provided Di will indulge me!). They are published in conjunction with the International African Institute, the Royal African Society, and the World Peace Foundation. There is a diverse and stellar group of editors. The webpage for books published to date is here. 

What follows below is a taste of one of the books pictured above.

“The overarching question in the economic growth literature has been about why Africa has grown relatively slowly. This question has overshadowed other more important questions, such as how African economies have grown. If the question had been about how African economies are developing, there would have been more to explain and the literature could have given policy makers something useful to work with. Unfortunately, this question was not asked.

We currently have an economic growth literature that explains why bad policies mean that there is no growth in Africa. The trouble with this model is that the current explanation problem is not one of a lack of growth but rather of how to interpret rapid economic growth. With the help of the historical data sets on slaves, colonial settlers, and linguistic mapping, economists have been able to find different variables that can explain why African states have ‘bad’ institutions, have failed and are stuck in zero-growth traps. The difficulty with this analysis is that, despite all their shortcomings and despite all their institutional differences from their European counterparts, African states have experienced periods of economic growth.

The fact that mainstream economics continues to get this wrong is of great importance. This is not just an academic disagreement. International financial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) give economic models and economists a central role in the decisions they make. Because of this, economists’ mistakes spill into the policy world. Indeed, the story of how economists explain economic growth in Africa is strongly linked to the history of policy making in Africa, and particularly to the role of external policy advice and policy directives.

The question ‘Why is Africa is growing slowly?’ appeared in the late 1970s and the early 1980s. The most influential answer was given in what is known as the Berg report, a World Bank report that firmly placed the blame for the slow growth in Africa with African policy makers. According to the report, African state intervened too much in markets, gave too low a priority to agriculture, and otherwise pursued misguided policies. The economic growth literature … went to considerable lengths to affirm this orthodoxy, and, despite empirical evidence to the contrary, has managed to present a history of African economic growth that finds a correlation between ‘bad’ policy—defined as state intervention in markets—and slow growth. The literature has thereby provided empirical ‘proof’ that the mainstream diagnosis and prescription for poor countries were correct and that there was a relationship between ‘good policy’—as embodied in the liberalization package termed the ‘Washington Consensus’—and positive economic performance. 

Yet the economic record tells us rather clearly that the liberalization policies of the 1990s failed in many ways, and that state intervention in the 1960s and 1970s was not always catastrophic. It is important to remember that state intervention does not always equate to states suppressing markets. Sometimes states substitute for nonexistent markets or they nudge economic actors to engage in markets. Therefore liberalizing agricultural marketing simply by closing down a state –run agricultural marketing board does not mean that a free market and fair market that organizes fertilizer, seeds, advances, purchases, transportation, forecasting and information will suddenly appear. It is not safe to assume this will happen. Economic growth did not revive after liberalization policies were implemented. Instead, the economic—and particularly the political—crisis deepened and arguably persisted for two decades.

Instead of engaging in wholesale reconsideration of the diagnosis made in the 1990s, with its emphasis on ‘good’ policies and the market mantra of ‘getting the prices right,’ the economics literature shifted its focus in the 2000s. In the second-generation growth literature, the emphasis of scholarly work changed from investigating relations between policy and growth to linking current development outcome with historical events such as colonialism and the slave trade. Instead of introspection about whether ‘bad’ policy was actually to blame for slow economic growth, some economists determined that advising ‘good’ policy was not enough. The root cause was not enough. The root cause was not ‘bad policy,’ it was ‘bad governance’ and ‘poor institutions.’

The second-generation growth literature focused on policy makers and policy implementation as the sources of the problem with economic growth. The refrain that it was ‘getting the prices right’ that mattered changed: now governance and institutions mattered. This is when the idea that some places were destined to fail at development was born, and this provided the foundation for the question and the answer in The Economist ten years ago. Do African states have a character flaw that makes them incapable of development? ‘Yes,’ said The Economist (and the economists on whom the magazine relied).

But while that analysis coheres well with the consensus in the economics literature, it does not match what is going on in the economies concerned. Some even say that Africa is rising. This book shows that there is nothing surprising or new about that.

This emphasis on finding what was wrong with the history and politics of Africa meant that ‘Africa’ itself was launched as an explanatory category. [….] African states were misdiagnosed and dismissed as being incapable of development based on observations made during the 1980s and early 1990s, a period when most African economies were experiencing the deepest recession of the twentieth century. The characteristics they exhibited during this period were not representative of longer trajectories. It is true that most states have not been perfectly efficient for the past five decades, but it is equally evident that their dealings have not been perfectly disastrous either. Herein lies the crucial error of comparison. The verdict about the quality of these states, or ‘governance,’ was made by comparing actual states in the Africa of the 1980s with idealized perfectly functioning states that do not exist.* While it is true that African states have fallen short of these kinds of expectations, such comparisons have not told us how serious these relative shortcomings have been in terms of economic growth.

[….] The question is not ‘Why has Africa failed?’ but ‘Why did African economies grow and then decline only to grow again?’ It is important to get the history of economic growth in Africa right, but perhaps it is more important to know that the right history fundamentally changes the policy implications for future growth on the African continent. The pessimism about policies and institutions in Africa has been overstated. In most cases, a wholesale change of institutions or governance is not necessary for economic growth.”—From the Introduction to Morten Jerven’s “highly readable and absolutely devastating critique,” Africa: Why economists get it wrong (London: Zed Books, in association with the International African Instituted, Royal African Society, and the World Peace Foundation, 2015): 6-8. **

* The “idealization” cited here by Jerven is symptomatic of a methodological approach that afflicts both neoclassical and heterodox economics (e.g., post-Keynesian economics) in general. As Anwar Shaikh explains in his recent book, Capitalism: Competition, Conflict, Crises (2016), the two prevailing “schools” of economics

“end up viewing reality through an ‘imperfectionist’ lens. Neoclassical economics begins from a perfectionist base and introduces imperfections to the underlying theory. Heterodox economics generally accepts the perfectionist vision as adequate to some earlier stage of capitalism but argues that imperfections rule the modern world. In either case, such approaches actually serve to protect and preserve the basic theoretical foundation, which remains the necessary point of departure and primary reference for an ever-accreting list of real-world deviations. After all, how can the basic theory ever be wrong if there is a particular ether for every troublesome result?”

Shaikh elaborates an alternative theoretical structure whose “object of investigation is neither the perfect nor the imperfect but rather the real,” that is, “the actual operation of existing developed capitalist countries.” 

** A helpful theoretical backdrop to Jerven’s argument is found in the discussion of “growth-mediated [socio-economic] security” and “support-led [socio-economic] security” in Jean Drèze and Amartya Sen, Hunger and Public Action (Oxford University Press, 1989): passim (see the subject index for the precise pages). 

[Please note: I am not being paid by Zed Books, I did not receive a (or any) free book(s) from the publisher, and I was not asked to promote the series.] 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Marx, Marxists, Marxians … and (democratic) socialism

I do not think the following is generally true: “Economists who follow Karl Marx in adopting a labor theory of value or in other ways but do not share the political ideology of communism typically call themselves ‘Marxians’ to distinguish their views from the views of political ‘Marxists.’” This remark was but a small if not incidental part of a larger blog post by Michael Dorf (‘Advice to Conscientious Originalists: Rebrand’) and is probably not crucial to its main argument. Nevertheless, I felt compelled to respond both to this and a few related comments by Professor Dorf.

The Marxist economists I am familiar with, by and large, are at the same time “political Marxists” (and there are economists who are not afraid to learn and cite from Marx who are not avowedly ‘Marxist’ or ‘Marxian,’ like Amartya Sen), and those same (at once economic and political) Marxists do not believe the various “Communist Party-State regimes” of the twentieth-century that were nakedly authoritarian and thus in many respects anti-democratic (hence, for instance, the need to label your regime ‘the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea,’) could lay claim to being “Marxist” (the regimes themselves frequently preferred the epithet, ‘Marxist-Leninist’) in any meaningful sense (yes, it is true, that there were some self-described Marxists who came, for example, to a distressingly belated recognition of the horrors of Stalinism, or acknowledgement of the Chinese famine of 1959-1962, or the cruelties associated with the Cultural Revolution), as messianic historical determinism and authoritarian politics cannot accurately or charitably be ascribed to any halfway credible interpretation of Marx’s work in toto. These Marxists are often political in the wider sense that they identify, say, with the critique of capitalism and the ideals of socialism and communism, or cherish Marx’s writings on alienation and exploitation, or, like Jon Elster, hold views that are “true and important” that “can [be] trace[d] back to Marx,” including “methodology, substantive theories, and, above all, values.” In other words, Marx’s views (and sometimes his political work as well) has a significant and conspicuous effect on their own political views and actions related to same. The distinction between “Marxist” and “Marxian” is rather intended as follows: “a Marxian belief is one that can safely be attributed to Marx himself. A Marxist belief may also be a Marxian one, but not necessarily. A Marxist belief is one held by anyone, academician or political stalwart, who thinks or can persuade others that the belief in question is in accordance with Marx’s intellectual or political legacy.” As Paul Thomas also notes, “We have today a galaxy of different Marxisms, within which the place of Marx’s own thought is ambiguous.”

In short, I do not think the distinction between “Marxian” and “Marxist” is correctly characterized or canalized as arising out of “the need to distance oneself from real-world political communism.” To be sure, and especially in this country, the need to rhetorically distance oneself from being associated with or held retroactively responsible for (?!) “real-world political communism,” finds many of us on the Left (which may have liberal components but is not synonymous with ‘Liberalism’) refusing to speak in public fora of socialism simpliciter, compelled to add—what should be—the redundant adjective “democratic.” And yet around the globe, Marxists and Marxians alike well appreciate, with such luminaries on the Left as G.A. Cohen, Michael Harrington and Eric Hobsbawm that, in the words of the latter, more than “150 years after Marx and Engels’ manifesto [socialism] … is still on the agenda.” As to the probable or possible implications for Michael Dorf’s “admittedly imperfect analogy” (i.e., those different from the reasons he listed for why the analogy is ‘imperfect’), I’ll leave that to our esteemed professor and his devoted reader

Finally, I think the proposition that “the influence of Marxian economists on the real world is negligible,” is also not true (it may be partially or largely true of the Anglo-American world, but it is eminently arguable outside that provincial domain), especially (but not only) if one is able to assess this influence in “indirect” or second-order terms, and thus the willingness of economists and policy makers to be seduced by the appeal of Keynesian and neo-Keynesian ideas and the peculiar form of “New Deal” or “social security” capitalism (the golden years of which were from 1946 to 1973); and their demise suggesting the limits of Keynes’ legacy and the value of a Marxist approach (see, for example, the respective works of Meghnad Desai and Anwar Shaikh), or the singular historical and comparative achievements of social democratic welfare regimes. (None of this is to deny or ignore the impressive economic achievements of capitalism, achievements which Marx himself well understood before they came to full fruition.) Marxist economists and Marxists generally remind us that,

“by subordinating humanity to economics, capitalism undermines and rots away the relations between human beings which constitute societies, and creates a moral vacuum, in which nothing counts except what the individual wants, here and now. At the top, men sacrifice entire cities to profitability, as in the film Roger and Me, which shows what happened to the town of Flint when General Motors shut down its works. At the bottom, teenage boys kill others for their sheepskin jackets or fashionable trainers, as happens every day in New York. [….] Socialists are there to remind the world that people and not production come first.”

Indeed, socialists today are here to make imperative the ideal if not idea that people are capable of living lives worthy of (self-realizing in the Marxist sense) human beings: “not just in comfort, but together, and in dignity” (Eric Hobsbawm) 
Addendum: absolutely none of this has anything whatsoever to do with “rebranding.”

References & (and a select list of) Further Reading:

  • Bahro, Rudolf. The Alternative in Eastern Europe. London: NLB, 1978.
  • Blackburn, Robin, ed. After the Fall: The Failure of Communism and the Future of Socialism. London: Verso, 1991.
  • Bottomore, Tom, ed. A Dictionary of Marxist Thought. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2nd ed., 1991.
  • Bourguignon, François (Thomas Scott-Railton, tr.) The Globalization of Inequality. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015.
  • Carver, Terrell, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Marx. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1991.
  • Cohen, G.A. History, Labour, and Freedom: Themes from Marx. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.
  • Cohen, G.A. Self-Ownership, Freedom, and Equality. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
  • Cohen, G.A. Karl Marx’s Theory of History: A Defense. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, expanded ed., 2000 (1978).
  • Cohen, G.A. If You’re an Egalitarian, How Come You’re so Rich? Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000.
  • Cohen, G.A. Why Not Socialism? Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009.
  • Desai, Meghnad. Marx’s Revenge: The Resurgence of Capitalism and the Death of Statist Socialism. London: Verso, 2002.
  • Drèze, Jean, Amartya Sen and Athar Hussain, eds. The Political Economy of Hunger. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1995.
  • Eagleton, Terry. Why Marx Was Right. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2011. 
  • Eatwell, John, Murray Milgate, and Peter Newman, eds. The New Palgrave: Marxian Economics. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1990. 
  • Elson, Diane, ed. Value: The Representation of Labour in Capitalism. New York: Verso, 2015 ed.
  • Elster, Jon. Making Sense of Marx. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1985.
  • Elster, Jon and Karl Ove Moene, eds. Alternatives to Capitalism. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
  • Esping-Andersen, Gøsta. The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. Oxford, UK: Polity, 1990.
  • Esping-Andersen, Gøsta. Politics Against Markets: The Social Democratic Road to Power.  Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1985.
  • Goodin, Robert E. Reasons for Welfare: The Political Theory of the Welfare State. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1988.
  • Goodin, Robert E., et al. The Real Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
  • Harrington, Michael. Socialism: Past and Future. New York: Arcade/Little, Brown & Co., 1989.
  • Harvey, David. Limits to Capital. London: Verso, 2006 ed. (first ed., 1982).
  • Hobsbawm, Eric. How to Change the World: Reflections on Marx and Marxism. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2011.
  • Luntley, Michael. The Meaning of Socialism. La Salle, IL: Open Court, 1990.
  • Milanovic, Branko. The Haves and the Have-Nots: A Brief and Idiosyncratic History of Global Inequality. New York: Basic Books, 2011.
  • Nussbaum, Martha C. Creating Capabilities: The Human Development Approach. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011.
  • O’Connor, James. The Fiscal Crisis of the State. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1973.
  • Offe, Claus. Contradictions of the Welfare State. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1984.
  • Offe, Claus. Disorganized Capitalism: Contemporary Transformations of Work and Politics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1985.
  • Prashad, Vijay. The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South. London: Verso, 2012.
  • Przeworski, Adam. Capitalism and Social Democracy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1985.
  • Przeworski, Adam and John Sprague. Paper Stones: A History of Electoral Socialism. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1986.
  • Roemer, John, et al. (Erik Olin Wright, ed.) Equal Shares: Making Socialism Work. London: Verso, 1996.
  • Saad-Filho, Alfredo. The Value of Marx: Political Economy for Contemporary Capitalism. London: Routledge, 2002.
  • Schweickart, David. Against Capitalism. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1996.
  • Shaikh, Anwar. Capitalism: Competition, Conflict, Crises. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.
  • Therborn, Göran. The Killing Fields of Inequality. Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2013.
  • Wolff, Richard D. and Stephen A. Resnick. Contending Economic Theories: Neoclassical, Keynesian, and Marxian. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012.
  • Wright, Erik Olin. Interrogating Inequality: Essays on Class Analysis, Socialism and Marxism. London: Verso, 1994.
  • Wright, Erik Olin. Envisioning Real Utopias. London: Verso, 2010.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Beyond Agribusiness: Toward Agroecology & Food Justice

I’ve made a fair amount of additions to this bibliography: The Sullied Science & Political Economy of Hyper-Industrial Agriculture (Or: ‘Toward Agroecology & Food Justice’). In a future post at the Agricultural Law blog I aim to provide an introduction to agroecology, providing several definitions as well as references (online and otherwise) to some of the best literature on the subject. At its best, agroecology is in part utopian (in a non-pejorative sense) insofar as it embraces concerns with “food sovereignty” and “food justice” (and social justice generally) while attempting to transform—or at least enlist—contemporary science and technology into—or on behalf of—emancipatory tools for “the people,” that is, something intrinsically tied to (participatory and representative) democratic principles, values, and practices that are not deformed, distorted, or trumped by capitalist imperatives. It is also “utopian” in the sense that it aims to be interdisciplinary with respect to both the natural and social sciences. More on this anon.  

Monday, April 03, 2017

The Moral & Political Economy of Poverty, Hunger, and Famine



“In his famous treatise on politics, diplomacy, and political economy called Arthaśāstra (roughly translated as ‘instructions on material prosperity,’ in contemporary terms, perhaps best translated as ‘political economy’), Kautilya, the ancient Indian political theorist and economist … included among his famine relief policies the possibility of raiding the provisions of the rich. In fact, he wrote with some eloquence on ‘the policy of thinning the rich by exacting excess revenue [karśanam], or causing them to vomit their accumulated wealth [vamanam].’”—Jean Drèze and Amartya Sen, Hunger and Public Action (Oxford University Press, 1989): 4.

The Moral & Political Economy of Poverty, Hunger, and Famine: Suggested Reading

  • Anrée, Peter, et al. Globalization and Food Sovereignty: Global and Local Change in the New Politics of Food. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014. 
  • Aoki, Keith. Seed Wars: Controversies and Cases on Plant Genetic Resources and Intellectual Property. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2008.
  • Bardhan, Pranab. Scarcity, Conflicts, and Cooperation: Essays in the Political and Institutional Economics of Development. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004.
  • Bardhan, Pranab. Awakening Giants, Feet of Clay: Assessing the Economic Rise of China and India. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013 (with new afterword).  
  • Bardhan, Pranab, Samuel Bowles and Michael Wallerstein, eds. Globalization and Egalitarian Distribution. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press/New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2006. 
  • Barry, Christian and Thomas W. Pogge, eds. Global Institutions and Responsibilities: Achieving Social Justice. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005.
  • Bennett, Jon (with Susan George). The Hunger Machine. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 1987. 
  • Bernstein, Henry. Class Dynamics of Agrarian Change. West Hartford, CT: Kumarian Press, 2010.
  • Bernstein, Henry, et al., eds. The Food Question: Profits versus People. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1990. 
  • Brighouse, Harry and Ingrid Robeson, eds. Measuring Justice: Primary Goods and Capabilities. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010.
  • Burbach, Roger and Patricia Flynn. Agribusiness in the Americas: The Political Economy of Corporate Agriculture. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1980.  
  • Chang, Ha-Joon. Reclaiming Development: An Alternative Economic Policy Manual. London: Zed Books, 2004.
  • Chang, Ha-Joon. Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism. New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2008. 
  • Charles, Daniel. Lords of the Harvest: Biotech, Big Money, and the Future of Food. New York; Basic Books, 2002.
  • Chatterjee, Deen K., ed. The Ethics of Assistance: Morality and the Distant Needy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004. 
  • Clapp, Jennifer. Hunger in the Balance: The New Politics of International Food Aid. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012.
  • Clapp, Jennifer and Doris Fuchs, eds. Corporate Power in Global Agrifood Governance. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009. 
  • Cotula, Lorenzo. The Great African Land Grab? Agricultural Investments and the Global Food System. London: Zed Books (in association with the International African Institute, the Royal African Society and the World Peace Foundation), 2013.
  • Crocker, David A. Ethics of Global Development: Agency, Capability, and Deliberative Democracy. Cambridge University Press, 2009. 
  • Cullity, Garrett. The Moral Demands of Affluence. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
  • Dasgupta, Partha. An Inquiry into Well-Being and Destitution. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. 
  • De Greiff, Pablo and Ciaran Cronin, eds. Global Justice and Transnational Politics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001.
  • Devereux, Stephen, ed. The New Famines: Why Famines Persist in an Era of Globalization. New York: Routledge, 2007. 
  • Drèze, Jean and Amartya Sen. Hunger and Public Action. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1989. 
  •  Drèze, Jean and Amartya Sen. An Uncertain Glory: India and Its Contradictions. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013.
  • Drèze, Jean, Amartya Sen and Athar Hussain, eds. The Political Economy of Hunger. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1995. 
  • Farmer, Paul. Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2003.
  • Farmer, Paul, Jim Yong Kim, Arthur Kleinman, and Matthew Basilico, eds. Reimagining Global Health: An Introduction. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2013. 
  • Frankel, Francine R. India’s Green Revolution: Economic Gains and Political Costs. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1971. 
  • Frankel, Francine R. India’s Political Economy: 1947-2004. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2nd ed., 2005. 
  • Godoy, Angelina Snodgrass. Of Medicines and Markets: Intellectual Property and Human Rights in the Free Trade Era. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013. 
  • Goodin, Robert E. Protecting the Vulnerable: A Reanalysis of Our Social Responsibilities. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1985.  
  • Gosseries, Axel, Alain Marciano, and Alain Strowel, eds. Intellectual Property and Theories of Justice. Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.  
  • Griffin, Keith. The Political Economy of Agrarian Change: An Essay on the Green Revolution. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1974. 
  • Houtart, Franҫois. Agrofuels: Big Profits, Ruined Lives and Agricultural Destruction. London: Pluto Press, 2010. 
  • Kloppenburg, Jack Ralph. First the Seed: The Political Economy of Plant Biotechnology. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2nd ed., 2004.
  •  Kugelman, Michael and Susan L. Levenstein, eds. The Global Farms Race: Land Grabs, Agricultural Investment, and the Scramble for Food Security. Washington, DC: Island Press, 2013. 
  • Magdoff, Fred, John Bellamy Foster, and Frederick H. Buttel, eds. Hungry for Profit: The Agribusiness Threat to Farmers, Food, and the Environment. New York: Monthly Review Press, 2000.
  • Magdoff, Fred and Brian Tokar, eds. Agriculture and Food in Crisis: Conflict, Resistance, and Renewal. New York: Monthly Review Press, 2010. 
  • Mayerfield, Jamie. Suffering and Moral Responsibility. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
  • Meyers, Diana Tietjens, ed. Poverty, Agency, and Human Rights. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. 
  • Mgbeoji, Ikechi. Global Biopiracy: Patents, Plants, and Indigenous Knowledge. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2006.
  • Miller, Richard W. Globalizing Justice: The Ethics of Poverty and Power. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. 
  • Mintz, Sidney W. Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. New York: Penguin Books, 1985.
  • Mooney, Pat R. Seeds of the Earth: A Private or Public Resource? Ottawa, Ontario: Inter Pares, 1979. 
  • Murdoch, William W. The Poverty of Nations: The Political Economy of Hunger and Population. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980.
  • Nazarea, Virginia D., Robert E. Rhoades, and Jenna Andrews-Swann, eds. Seeds of Resistance, Seeds of Hope: Place and Agency in the Conservation of Biodiversity. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 2013. 
  • Nussbaum, Martha C. Women and Human Development: The Capabilities Approach. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
  • Paige, Jeffrey M. Agrarian Revolution. New York: The Free Press, 1975. 
  • Paige, Jeffrey M. Coffee and Power: Revolution and the Rise of Democracy in Central America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997.
  • Patel, Raj. Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System. Brooklyn, NY: Melville House, 2008. 
  • Pearse, Andrew. Seeds of Plenty, Seeds of Want. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980.
  • Perkins, John H. Geopolitics and the Green Revolution: Wheat, Genes, and the Cold War. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. 
  • Pogge, Thomas W., ed. Freedom from Poverty as a Human Right: Who Owe’s What to the Very Poor. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. 
  • Roseberry, William, Lowell Gudmundson, and Mario Samper Kutschbach, eds. Coffee, Society, and Power in Latin America. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995.  
  • Ryan, Órla. Chocolate Nations: Living and Dying for Cocoa in West Africa. London: Zed Books, 2011. 
  • Santilli, Juliana. Agrobiodiversity and the Law: Regulating Genetic Resources, Food Security, and Cultural Diversity. New York: Earthscan, 2012. 
 
  • Santos, Boaventura de Sousa, ed. Another Production is Possible: Beyond the Capitalist Canon. London: Verso, 2007.
  • Santos, Boaventura de Sousa, ed. Democratizing Democracy: Beyond the Liberal Democratic Canon. London: Verso, 2007. 
  • Schefer, Krista Nadakavukaren, ed. Poverty and the International Legal Economic System: Duties to the World’s Poor. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2013.
  • Sen, Amartya. Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation. New York: Oxford University Press, 1981. 
  • Shaikh, Anwar, ed. Globalization and the Myths of Free Trade: History, Theory, and Empirical Evidence. New York: Routledge, 2007. 
  • Therborn, Göran. The Killing Fields of Inequality. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2013.  
  • Unger, Peter. Living High and Letting Die: Our Illusion of Innocence. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
  • Venkatapuram, Sridhar. Health Justice: An Argument from the Capabilities Approach. Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2000.  
  • Warman, Arturo. Corn and Capitalism: How a Botanical Bastard Grew to Global Dominance. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2003.
  • Warren, D. Michael, L. Jan Slikkerveer, and David Brokensha, eds. The Cultural Dimension of Development: Indigenous Knowledge Systems. London: Intermediate Technology Group, 1995. 
  • Watts, Michael J. Silent Violence: Food, Famine, and Peasantry in Norther Nigeria. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2013 ed.
  • Winders, Bill. The Politics of Food Supply: U.S. Agricultural Policy in the World Economy. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009. 
  • Wolff, Jonathan and Avner de-Shalit. Disadvantage. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
 
I have two bibliographies with titles directly relevant to this subject: (1) on the ethics, economics and politics of global distributive justice, and (2) the sullied science & political economy of hyper-industrial agriculture (or: ‘toward agroecology & food justice’). And I have a handful of bibliographies indirectly related but no less relevant to this material, only several of which I cite here: contemporary democratic theory; health: law, ethics, and social justice; and Marx & Marxism.

Friday, March 31, 2017

César E. Chávez: March 31, 1927 – April 23, 1993

Shepard Fairey painting Workers’ Rights/César Chávez Mural in San Francisco

My bibliography for César Chávez & the United Farm Workers … and the Struggle of Farm Workers in the U.S., is here.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Ahmed Mohamed—“Kathy”—Kathrada (21 August 1929 – 28 March 2017)

Twenty Congress Alliance leaders of the Defiance Campaign (a series of mass actions involving more than 10,000 protesters) appear in the Johannesburg Magistrates Court on charges of contravening the Suppression of Communism Act, August 26, 1952. Ahmed Kathrada is in the upper row, second from the right. 

Please see my post at Religious Left Law

Monday, March 27, 2017

“Corky” Gonzáles and the first National Chicano Youth Liberation Conference

On this date in 1969, the first national Chicano youth conference was held in Denver, Colorado by Crusade for Justice, the civil rights organization founded by former boxer Corky Gonzáles. “Rodolfo ’Corky’ Gonzáles (June 18, 1928 – April 12, 2005) was a Mexican American boxer, poet, and political activist. He convened the first-ever Chicano youth conference in March 1969, which was attended by many future Chicano activists and artists. The conference also promulgated the Plan Espiritual de Aztlán, a manifesto demanding self-determination for Chicanos. As an early figure of the movement for the equal rights of Mexican Americans, he is often considered one of the founders of the Chicano Movement.” 

According to Carlos Muñoz, Jr.,   

“[The conference] brought together for the first time activists from all over the country who were involved in both campus and community politics. The conference was also significant because it brought together young people of all types—students, non-students, militant youth from the street gangs (vatos locos), and ex-convicts (pintos)—to discuss community issues and politics. The majority in attendance, however, were student activists, and most of them were from California. The conference emphasized themes that related to the quest for identity as popularized by Gonzáles and [Luis] Valdez, which were eagerly received by students searching for an ideology for the emerging student movement. 

Corky Gonzáles and his followers in Denver had developed the image of the Crusade for Justice as ‘the vanguard’ of the rapidly growing Chicano Power Movement. The Crusade, originally a multi-issue, broad-based civil rights organization oriented toward nonviolence, came to symbolize Chicano self-determination and espoused a strong nationalist ideology that militant youth found extremely attractive. [….] 

During the week-long conference, Gonzáles and his followers stressed the need for students and youth to play a revolutionary role in the movement. Conference participants were told that previous generations of students, after completing academic programs and becoming professionals, had abdicated their responsibility to their people, to their familia de La Raza. This abdication of responsibility was attributed to the fact that Mexican American students had been Americanized by the schools, that they had been conditioned to accept the dominant values of American society, particularly individualism, at the expense of their Mexican identity. The result had been the psychological ‘colonization’ of Mexican American youth.”  

A brief biography of Gonzáles: 

[….] “During his final year in high school and the subsequent summer, Corky worked hard to save money for a college education. With a keen interest in engineering, Corky entered the University of Denver, but after the first quarter realized that the financial cost was insurmountable. Rodolfo then pursued a career in Boxing. An outstanding amateur national champion Rodolfo became one of the best featherweight (125 lbs.) fighters in the world. Even though Ring Magazine ranked Corky number three in the world, he never got a justly deserved title shot. 

In the mid-1960’s, Rodolfo Gonzáles founded an urban civil rights and cultural movement called the Crusade for Justice. Soon he became one of the central leaders in the Chicano movement and a strong proponent of Chicano nationalism. In the late sixties and early seventies, Corky Gonzáles organized and supported high school walkouts, demonstrations against police brutality, and legal cases. He also organized mass demonstrations against the Vietnam War. 

In 1968 Gonzáles led a Chicano contingent in the Poor People’s March on Washington, D.C. While there, he issued his ‘Plan of the Barrio’ which called for better housing, education, barrio-owned businesses, and restitution of pueblo lands. He also proposed forming a ‘Congress of Aztlán’ to achieve these goals. 

One of the most important roles played by Gonzáles was as an organizer of the Annual Chicano Youth Liberation Conference, an ambitious effort to create greater unity among Chicano youth. These Conferences brought together large numbers of Chicano youth from throughout the United States and provided them with opportunities to express their views on self-determination. The first conference in March 1969 produced a document, “Plan Espiritual de Aztlán,” which developed the concept of ethnic nationalism and self-determination in the struggle for Chicano liberation. The second Chicano Youth Conference in 1970 represented a further refinement in Corky Gonzáles’s efforts toward Chicano self-determination, the formation of the Colorado Raza Unida Party. 

During this time Corky and his wife, Geraldine Romero Gonzáles, raised a family of six daughters and two sons…. Corky is proud of his family, especially the twenty-four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Recently celebrating his fifty-sixth wedding anniversary, Corky attributed the closeness and strength of his family to his beloved wife, Geraldine, who has been his most enthusiastic and ardent supporter.

In many ways, Corky Gonzáles has greatly influenced the Chicano movement. His key to liberation for the Chicano community is to develop a strong power base with heavy reliance on nationalism among Chicanos. His contributions as a community organizer, youth leader, political activist, and civil rights advocate have helped to create a new spirit of Chicano unity.” [….]   

An introduction to the Crusade for Justice by James Mejia (for La Voz, October 14, 2015): 

[….] “Emerging from a non-partisan group called Los Voluntarios, the Crusade for Justice was born out of frustration of living in a system that did not serve the residents of Denver equitably. A former Democratic political captain had been fired from his patronage job working with area youth for protesting racist coverage by the Rocky Mountain News. When Denver Mayor, Tom Currigan, handed Rodolfo ‘Corky’ Gonzáles his walking papers from the Neighborhood Youth Corps, he catalyzed the movement toward an independent organization serving the Chicano community and gave the Crusade for Justice its leader, and personification of the entire Chicano movement in Colorado. ‘They didn’t buy me when they gave me this job,’ was Corky’s retort when asked how a City of Denver employee could organize a protest, according to Corky’s son, Rudy Gonzáles.

Corky was the natural chair of the organization given his status as suddenly available, his passion for serving his community, the reflection on the recent death of his father, and his notoriety for athleticism in the boxing ring – once winning the National Amateur Athletic Union bantamweight title in 1946. What César Chávez and Dolores Huerta were to California and Reies Lopez Tijerina was to New Mexico, Corky Gonzáles was to Colorado – the face and leader of the movement – brash, determined, independent, and decidedly moving toward self-determination of the Chicano community.

The founding board of the Crusade for Justice is a ‘Who’s Who’ in early Chicano activism and achievement, all leaders in their own right and all achieving positions of prominence in their fields of interest to give weight, professionalism and political influence to the positions that would be taken by the Crusade. From boxer, Ralph Luna, to entrepreneur, John Haro, and from War on Poverty representative, Charlie Vigil, to Democratic Party captain, Eloy Espinoza, the board was steeped with talented bootstrappers achieving in a system stacked against them. Their individual standing and unity as a board led the Crusade to Justice to almost immediate prominence and provided the ability to meet with local or national politicians and policy makers.

Founding Crusade for Justice board member, Desi DeHerrera, held a position investigating police brutality. Originally from the San Luis Valley, he, like many others came to Denver for work. What he found upon arrival was discouraging, ‘So many places didn’t hire Latinos. Coors, the Post Office, local utilities… When the Crusade started to question these practices, at least some of them started to open up. It took boycotting others to make change.’

The Crusade for Justice would hit their stride in the late 1960s when they protested against the Vietnam War, held demonstrations against racist media and police brutality toward youth of color, organized legal cases in employment discrimination and organized and supported high school walkouts across the state, most notably the Denver West High School walkout. The Crusade had a prominent place in the national movements of the day including the Poor People’s March on Washington, and the United Farm Workers protests and pickets in California. Closer to home, the Crusade produced ‘El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan’ outlining self-determination of the Chicano community and gave birth to the Colorado Raza Unida Party.

At its peak, the Crusade for Justice was a movement but also a substantial holder of property used to provide services for the Chicano community in Denver – job training, a food bank, book store, dance troupe, a Chicano-centric school, and the first Chicano art gallery in Denver founded by renowned artist and sculptor, Carlos Santisteva.

In the mid-1970s the Crusade for Justice disbanded. There are several versions as to why including a standoff with Denver Police over a jaywalking incident in front of Crusade headquarters where injuries on both sides seemed to cool momentum and prosecution of Crusade members on weapons charges took important players off the field. Other versions include Corky’s disagreement with board members on how the physical assets of the organization were to be operated and financed.

For Rudy Gonzáles, now Executive Director of Servicios de la Raza, the Crusade hasn’t ever died, ‘The Crusade for Justice was never about bricks and mortar, it is a movement, a behavior and a belief system. It was ingrained in us to continue the philosophy and the action. If anything, the issues facing our community have become more pronounced and our work continues.

Recommended Reading:

  • Castro, Tony. Chicano Power: The Emergence of Mexican America. New York: Saturday Review Press, 1974. 
  • Chávez, Ernesto. “¡Mi Raza Primero!”— Nationalism, Identity, and Insurgency in the Chicano Movement in Los Angeles, 1966-1978. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2002.
  • Elam, Harry J., Jr. Taking It to the Streets: The Social Protest Theater of Luis Valdez and Amiri Baraka. Detroit, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2001. 
  • Esquibel, Antonio, ed. Message to Aztlán: Selected Writings of Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzáles. Houston, TX: Arte Público Press, 2001.
  • García, Alma M., ed. Chicana Feminist Thought: The Basic Historical Writings. New York: Routledge, 1997. 
  • García, Ignacio M. United We Win: The Rise and Fall of La Raza Unida Party. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 1989.
  • García, Mario T. Memories of Chicano History: The Life and Narrative of Bert Corona. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1994. 
  • García, Mario T. and Sal Castro. Blowout! Sal Castro and the Chicano Struggle for Educational Justice. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
  • Gomez-Quiñones, Juan. Mexican Students por la Raza: The Chicano Student Movement in Southern California, 1967-1977. Santa Barbara, CA: Editorial La Causa, 1978. 
  • Marin, Marguerite V. Social Protest in an Urban Barrio: A Study of the Chicano Movement, 1966-1974. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1991. 
  • Mariscal, George. Brown-Eyed Children of the Sun: Lessons from the Chicano Movement, 1965-1975. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 2005. 
  • Mariscal, George, ed. Aztlán and Vietnam: Chicano and Chicana Experiences of the War. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1999. 
  • Muñoz, Carlos, Jr. Youth, Identity, Power: The Chicano Movement. London: Verso, 1989. 
  • Navarro, Armando. Mexican American Youth Organization: Avant-Garde of the Chicano Movement in Texas. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1995. 
  • Navarro, Armando. The Cristal Experiment: A Chicano Struggle for Community Control. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1998. 
  • Navarro, Armando. La Raza Unida Party: A Chicano Challenge to the U.S. Two-Party Dictatorship. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2000. 
  • Oropeza, Lorena. ¡Raza Si! ¡Guerra No!: Chicano Protest and Patriotism during the Viet Nam War Era. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2005. 
  • Rendon, Armando B. Chicano Manifesto: The History and Aspirations of the Second Largest Minority in America. New York: Macmillan, 1971. 
  • Rosales, Francisco Arturo. CHICANO! The History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement. Houston, TX: Arte Público Press, University of Houston, 2nd ed., 1997. 
  • Vigil, Ernesto B. The Crusade for Justice: Chicano Militancy and the Government’s War on Dissent. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1999.
 I have a separate bibliography for César Chávez & the United Farm Workers.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Rodolfo Walsh: revolutionary Argentine journalist

March 24, 1977: On this date Rodolfo Jorge Walsh (January 9, 1927 – March 25, 1977) an Argentine writer, journalist and revolutionary of Irish descent, published his “Open Letter from a Writer to the Military Junta” (excerpts from which are below) accusing them of disappearing thousands of Argentines. The next day he was murdered. 

“In 1976, in response to censorship imposed by the military dictatorship, Walsh had created ANCLA, (Clandestine News Agency), and the ‘Information Chain,’ a system of hand-to-hand information distribution whose leaflets stated in the heading: 

Reproduce this information, circulate it by any means at your disposal: by hand, by machine, by mimeograph, orally. Send copies to your friends: nine out of ten are waiting for them. Millions want to be informed. Terror is based on lack of communication. Break the isolation. Feel again the moral satisfaction of an act of freedom. Defeat the terror. Circulate this information.

While US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger congratulated Argentina’s military junta for combating the left, stating that in his opinion “the government of Argentina had done an outstanding job in wiping out terrorist forces,” fulfilling Kissinger’s earlier wish for the military junta to stamp out “terrorism.” As Christopher Hitchens writes in The Trial of Henry Kissinger (New York: Twelve, 2012/ first published by Verso, 2002),

“When Kissinger and [Admiral] Guzzetti first met, the number of ‘disappeared’ was estimated at 1,022. By the time Argentina had become an international byword for torture, for anti-Semitism, for death-squads and for the concept of the desaparecido, a minimum of 15,000 victims had been registered by reliable international and local monitors. In 1978, when the situation was notorious, Kissinger (by then out of office) accepted a personal invitation from the dictator General Videla to be his guest during Argentina’s hosting of the soccer World Cup. The former Secretary of State made use of the occasion to lecture the Carter administration for its excessive tenderness concerning human rights. General Videla … has since been imprisoned for life. One of the more specific charges on which he was convicted was the sale of the children of rape victims held in his secret jails. His patron and protector, meanwhile, is enjoying a patriarchal autumn that may still be disturbed … by the memory of what he permitted and indeed encouraged.”

Hitchens also reminds us that Argentina’s “Dirty War” was but one component of Operation Condor, “a machinery of cross-border assassination, abduction, torture and intimidation, coordinated between the secret police forces of Pinochet’s Chile, Stroessner’s Paraguay, Videla’s Argentina, and other regional caudillos.” Among the objectives of this “campaign of political repression and state terror,” “nominally intended to eradicate communist or Soviet influence and ideas,” was the suppression of “active or potential opposition movements against the participating governments’ neoliberal economic policies, which sought to reverse the economic reforms of the previous era.” The U.S. government under several successive presidential administrations provided technical assistance, intelligence information, and military aid to the participating governments in South America: Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and Brazil.

*           *           *          

From the “Open Letter:”

The first anniversary of this Military Junta has brought about a year-end review of government operations in the form of official documents and speeches: what you call good decisions are mistakes, what you acknowledge as mistakes are crimes, and what you have left out entirely are disasters. [….]

Illegitimate since birth, your government could have legitimized itself by reviving the political program that 80 percent of Argentines voted for in the 1973 elections, and that continues to be an objective expression of the people’s will—the only thing that could possibly be denoted by the ‘national being’ that you invoke so often. You have gone instead in the completely opposite direction by returning to the ideas and interests of defeated minority groups, the ones who hold back workforce development, exploit the people, and divide the Nation. This kind of politics can only prevail temporarily by banning political parties, taking control of unions, silencing the press, and introducing Argentine society to the most profound terror it has ever known. [….]

Fifteen thousand missing, ten thousand prisoners, four thousand dead, tens of thousands in exile: these are the raw numbers of this terror.

Since the ordinary jails were filled to the brim, you created virtual concentration camps in the main garrisons of the country which judges, lawyers, journalists, and international observers, are all forbidden to enter. The military secrecy of what goes on inside, which you cite as a requirement for the purposes of investigation, means that the majority of the arrests turn into kidnappings that in turn allow for torture without limits and execution without trial.

The refusal of this Junta to publish the names of the prisoners is, moreover, a cover for the systematic execution of hostages in vacant lots in the early morning, all under the pretext of fabricated combat and imaginary escape attempts.

Extremists who hand out pamphlets in the countryside, graffiti the sidewalks, or pile ten at a time into vehicles that then burst into flames: these are the stereotypes of a screenplay that was written not to be believed, but to buffer against the international reaction to the current executions. Within the country, meanwhile, the screenplay only underscores how intensely the military lashes back in the same places where there has just been guerrilla activity.

Seventy people executed after the Federal Security Agency bombing, fifty-five in response to the blasting of the La Plata Police Department, thirty for the attack on the Ministry of Defense, forty in the New Year’s Massacre following the death of Colonel Castellanos, and nineteen after the explosion that destroyed the Ciudadela precinct, amount to only a portion of the twelve hundred executions in three hundred alleged battles where the opposition came out with zero wounded and zero forces killed in action.

Many of the hostages are union representatives, intellectuals, relatives of guerrillas, unarmed opponents, or people who just look suspicious: they are recipients of a collective guilt that has no place in a civilized justice system and are incapable of influencing the politics that dictate the events they are being punished for. They are killed to balance the number of casualties according to the foreign ‘body-count’ doctrine that the SS used in occupied countries and the invaders used in Vietnam. [….]

These events, which have shaken the conscience of the civilized world, are nonetheless not the ones that have brought the greatest suffering upon the Argentine people, nor are they the worst human rights violations that you have committed. The political economy of the government is the place to look not only for the explanation of your crimes, but also for an even greater atrocity that is leading millions of human beings into certain misery.

Over the course of one year, you have decreased the real wages of workers by 40 percent, reduced their contribution to the national income by 30 percent, and raised the number of hours per day a worker needs to put in to cover his cost of living from six to eighteen, thereby reviving forms of forced labor that cannot even be found in the last remnants of colonialism.

By freezing salaries with the butts of your rifles while prices rise at bayonet point, abolishing every form of collective protest, forbidding internal commissions and assemblies, extending workdays, raising unemployment to a record level of 9 percent and being sure to increase it with three hundred thousand new layoffs, you have brought labor relations back to the beginning of the Industrial Era. And when the workers have wanted to protest, you have called them subversives and kidnapped entire delegations of union representatives who sometimes turned up dead, and other times did not turn up at all.

The results of these policies have been devastating. During this first year of government, consumption of food has decreased by 40 percent, consumption of clothing by more than 50 percent, and the consumption of medicine is practically at zero among the lower class. There are already regions in Greater Buenos Aires where the infant mortality rate is above 30 percent, a figure which places us on par with Rhodesia, Dahomey, or the Guayanas. The incidence of diseases like Summer Diarrhea, parasitosis, and even rabies has climbed to meet world records and has even surpassed them. As if these were desirable and sought-after goals, you have reduced the public health budget to less than a third of military spending, shutting down even the free hospitals while hundreds of doctors, medical professionals, and technicians join the exodus provoked by terror, low wages, or ‘rationalization.’

You only have to walk around Greater Buenos Aires for a few hours before quickly realizing that these policies are turning it into a slum with ten million inhabitants. Cities in semi-darkness; entire neighborhoods with no running water because the monopolies rob them of their groundwater tables; thousands of blocks turned into one big pothole because you only pave military neighborhoods and decorate the Plaza de Mayo; the biggest river in the world is contaminated in all of its beaches because Minister Martinez de Hoz’s associates are sloughing their industrial waste into it, and the only government measure you have taken is to ban people from bathing.

You have not been much wiser it comes to the abstract goals of the economy, which you tend to call ‘the country.’ A decrease in the gross national product of around 3 percent, a foreign debt reaching $600 dollars per inhabitant, an annual inflation rate of 400 percent, a 9 percent increase in the money supply within a single week in December, a low of 13 percent in foreign investment—these are also world records, strange fruit born of cold calculation and severe incompetence.

While all the constructive and protective functions of the state atrophy and dissolve into pure anemia, only one is clearly thriving. One billion eight hundred million dollars—the equivalent of half of Argentina’s exports—have been budgeted for Security and Defense in 1977. That there are four thousand new officer positions in the Federal Police and twelve thousand in the Province of Buenos Aires offering salaries that are double that of an industrial worker and triple that of a school principal—while military wages have secretly increased by 120 percent since February—proves that there is no salary freezing or unemployment in the kingdom of torture and death. This is the only Argentine business where the product is growing and where the price per slain guerrilla is rising faster than the dollar.

Martinez de Hoz’s 1976 policy was similar to the formula prescribed by the IMF that Walsh mentions here. The general idea was to restructure the States economic program, cutting down on domestic spending and any State regulation, to allow for growth through the international economy. The old ranchers’ oligarchy (‘oligarquia ganadera’) refers to cattle-ranching families that owned Argentine land and gained high social status starting in the nineteenth century. De Hoz himself came from such a family.

The economic policies of this Junta—which follow the formula of the International Monetary Fund that has been applied indiscriminately to Zaire and Chile, to Uruguay and Indonesia—recognize only the following as beneficiaries: the old ranchers’ oligarchy; the new speculating oligarchy; and a select group of international monopolies headed by ITT, Esso, the automobile industry, US Steel, and Siemens, which Minister Martinez de Hoz and his entire cabinet have personal ties to.

A 722 percent increase in the prices of animal products in 1976 illustrates the scale of a return to oligarchy, launched by Martinez de Hoz, that is consistent with the creed of the Sociedad Rural as stated by its president, Celedonio Pereda: ‘It is very surprising that certain small but active groups keep insisting that food should be affordable.’ [….]

These are the thoughts I wanted to pass on to the members of this Junta on the first anniversary of your ill-fated government, with no hope of being heard, with the certainty of being persecuted, but faithful to the commitment I made a long time ago to bear witness during difficult times.

Rodolfo Walsh—I.D. 2845022

Buenos Aires, March 24, 1977