GOVERNMENTS USE VIOLENCE TO PROVOKE HATRED
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May 22, 2021
CROATIA AND SERBIA
Many people know about the violence carried out by Serbs and Croats in what used to be Yugoslavia in the 1990s. The mass media told us that this violence was an eruption of centuries-long hatred of these ethnic groups for each other. This was a lie!
There is a wonderful book about this violence, The Myth of Ethnic War: Serbia and Croatia in the 1990s, written by V.P. Gagnon, Jr. who is a professor of politics at Ithaca College. Let's see what it says.
The flyleaf summary of the book says:
"V.P Gagnon Jr. believes that the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s were reactionary moves designed to thwart populations that were threatening the existing structures of political and economic power. [These structures were Communist Party governments--J.S.] He begins with facts at odds with the essentialist view of ethnic identidy, such as high intermarriage rates and very high percentages of draft resisters. These statistics do not comport comfortably with the notion that these wars were the result of ancient blood hatreds or of nationalist leaders using ethnicity to mobilize people into conflict.
"Yugoslavia in the lat 1980s was, in Gagnon's view, on the verge of large-scale sociopolitical and economic change. He shows that the political and economic elites in Beolgrade and Zagreb first created and then manipulated violent conflict along ethnic lines as a way to short-circuit the dynamics of political change. This strategy of violence was thus a means for these threatened elites to demobilize the population."
Gagnon, on page 178 in the Conclusion of the book, writes:
"The evidence shows quite clearly that the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s were the result of certain parts of the elite creating wars for their own purposes. As I have shown in this book, the violence was planned and carried out in very strategic ways by conservative elites in Belgrade [the capital of Serbia--J.S.] and Zagreb [the capital of Croatia--J.S.], working closely with allies in the war zones. But the violence was not the result of mass mobilization, nor was it a response to pressure from below to remove ethnic others from particular territories. Indeed, looking in detail at the places where wars were actually fought--places with the highest pre-war levels of positive coexistence--the violence almost without exception was imported into those communities as the result of strategic decisions on the part of leaderships in Begrade and Zagreb But the wars were not a means by which elites sought to mobilize their populations, and they did not draw on or appeal to the lived experiences or processes of identification of people in the communities most affected by the wars. Their sources lie elsewhere."
The governments of Croatia and Serbia were controlled by the old Communists from the days of Communist Yugoslavia before the breakup. These communist leaders feared the growing pro-democracy movements in both of these nations that aimed to remove them from power. This is the mobilization that the leaders of both Croatia and Serbia, working together, aimed to demobilize, by turning people's anger at anti-democratic rule into anger at the "other" ethnic group, with whom not long before they were enjoying peace and high intermarriage rates. Serbian and Croat government leaders launched extreme violence against each other's people in the name of "their own" people.
I witnessed the result of this violence when I went to the weekly demonstrations of Serbs in Boston, MA, against the massacre of Serbs by Croat violence and by president Clinton's bombing of Serb civilians. What I discovered at these demonstrations was extreme visceral hatred of Croats--all Croats without exception. Many of these Serbs had family members who, as innocent civilians, had been killed "by Croats" as they saw it. Their hatred was easy to understand. It was exactly what the violence was intended to produce. And it worked.
PALESTINE AND THE PART OF IT CALLED ISRAEL
Virtually the same thing, at least in regard to the origin and use of violence, that happened in Croatia and Serbia has been going on in Palestine and the part of it called Israel.
The Israeli ruling class of billionaires and the generals and politicians beholden to them fears the mobilization of the Israeli working class. An example of what the rulers fear happened in 2011.
In July of 2011 the people in Israel (mainly, but not only Jews) launched a huge wave of protests against the Israeli government over the issue of their economic impoverishment. The movement kept growing and growing, with mass demonstrations and people pitching tents on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv. “On Saturday, September 3, an estimated 450,000 people participated in several demonstrations which were held over various locations across Israel and which were referred to by protest organizers as ‘The March of the Million.” People were demanding basic economic things, such as affordable housing. Many Israelis could no longer afford to pay their rent.
“The cost of living in Israel is horrendous,” said Daniel Levy, a senior fellow and director of the Middle East Policy Initiative at the New America Foundation. “It’s hellishly expensive compared to what people earn and the inequality gap has only gotten wider.” [ http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/world-july-dec11-israel_08-19/ ]
What did Prime Minister Netanyahu do? Did he grant the demands of “his people”? No! He killed ("demobilized," to use Professor Gagnon's word) the movement by demanding that the people in it (the Jews, at least) act "patriotically," i.e., support their [billionaire- controlled] government in the fight against “the real enemy”: Palestinians in Gaza, some of whom had fired rockets into Israel (and thereby helped Netanyahu get out of a bad spot!) Netanyahu, in other words, killed the movement with Zionism, i.e., with governmental violence against Palestinians in the name of the Jewish people.
This is the purpose of Zionism, the purpose of the brutal and violent ethnic cleansing of non-Jews (Palestinians) from most of Palestine: to create a bogeyman enemy with which to frighten and control and thereby exploit and oppress working class Israeli Jews.
On the Palestinian side, Hamas plays along with the Zionists (as I show here) in keeping the violent conflict going because this helps Hamas leaders stay in power in the Gaza Strip.
Until Israeli Jews see that ordinary Palestinians are not their enemy but indeed their ally against their real enemy, they will continue to remain oppressed by the Israeli ruling class.
European Colonists and Native Americans
The Europeans who settled the New World in North America consisted of an upper class and a lower class that they oppressed. Consider the Mayflower settlers.
To start with, here's a Wikipedia paragraph just to refresh our memories about some key, but non-controversial, facts about the Mayflower colony:
The Mayflower was an English ship that transported the first English Puritans, known today as the Pilgrims, from Plymouth, England, to the New World in 1620. There were 102 passengers, and the crew is estimated to have been about 30, but the exact number is unknown. The ship has become a cultural icon in the history of the United States. The Pilgrims signed the Mayflower Compact prior to leaving the ship and establishing Plymouth Colony, a document which established a rudimentary form of democracy with each member contributing to the welfare of the community.
The Plymouth Company investors initially invested about £1200 to £1600 in the colony before the Mayflower even sailed. The colonists had to pay this money back over seven years by harvesting supplies and shipping them back to the investors in England to be sold.
Each investor in the Plymouth Company was issued shares worth £10 and each adult colonist received one share and were given options to purchase more shares later on. For the first seven years, everything was to remain in the “common stock” which was owned by all the shareholders....
The fur trade industry was the colony’s economic salvation. For the first few years that the colony existed, the colonists struggled to make enough money to pay the investors back. In fact, they had to ask for more money just to keep the colony running and by the mid to late 1620s, they were deeply in debt to the investors.
Now let's do a little arithmetic, taking into account how many colonists there were. With 102 passengers on the Mayflower and the crew estimated to be 30 in number, lets assume there were 132 colonists. But 31 of these colonists were children, leaving 101 adults. According to Brooks, the investments in the Mayflower colony included £1200 to £1600 by non-colonist investors and £10 each by the adult colonists, of whom there were 101. If we assume, conservatively for the argument I'm going to make, that the non-colonists owned £1200 worth of shares in the common stock, and the colonists owned 101 times 10 equals £1010 worth of shares in it, then this would mean that the total value of the common stock was at least £1200 plus £1010 equals £2210. And this in turn would mean that the percentage of the common stack that was owned by the colonists was 1010 divided by 2210 equals 46%. Even less (39% ) if the non-colonists had invested the larger amount Brooks gives of £1600. Equivalently, the investors back home in England owned 54% to 61% of the common stock.
The "common stock" was mostly owned not by the colonists but by investors back in England who were taking a hefty profit from the labor (under extremely harsh conditions!) of the colonists. Some of these colonists were closely allied with the investors "back home," probably because they were themselves investors, and were in charge of making sure that the poorer settlers kept working hard to keep the payments going to the investors.
Because life as a working class European in the New World was oppressive, many such people fled when they had the chance.
Ward Churchill, in Perversions of Justice: Indigenous Peoples and Angloamerican Law (one can google a text fragment to see it online) writes:
"Probably the earliest group of English to have simply melted into a native society were the inhabitants of Raleigh's 'lost colony' of Roanoak in 1590. A century later, there were literally thousands of 'white Indians'--mostly English and French, but Swedes, Scots, Irish, Dutch and others as well--who, displeased with aspects of their own cultures, had either married into, been adopted by, or petitioned for naturalization as member/citizens of indigenous nations. By then, the phenomenon had become pronounced enough that it had long-since precipitated a crisis among the Puritans of Plymouth Colony and figured in their waging of a war of extermination against the Pequots in 1637.
"The attraction of 'going native' remained so strong, and the willingness of indigenous peoples to accept Europeans into their societies so apparent, that it prevailed even among those captured in Indian/white warfare. During the 1770s, George Croghan and Guy Johnson, both acknowledged authorities on the native peoples of the mid-Atlantic region, estimated that the great bulk of the several hundred English prisoners of all ages and both genders taken by the Indians had been adopted by them rather than being put to death.
"The literature of the period is literally filled with observations. Virginia's Lieutenant Governor Francis Fauquier, for example, noted that whites 'recovered' from Indians had to be 'closely watched [lest] they will certainly return to the Barbarians.' Colonel Henry Bouquet, who headed a 1764 expedition to take charge of 'captives' returned under terms of a treaty with England by the Shawnees, Miamis and other peoples of the Ohio River Valley, issued orders that 'they are to be closely watched and well Secured [as] most of them, particularly those who have been a long time among the Indians, will take the first Opportunity to run away.' The Reverend William Smith, chaplain and chronicler of Bouquet's foray, noted that most younger whites seemed to view their 'liberators' as captors and 'parted from the savages with tears.'"
How can an oppressive ruling class prevent its working class people from escaping from its control and domination the way these European working class people were doing? The European upper class solution to this problem was to do whatever it took to create maximum hatred of Native Americans against all Europeans and vice versa. The genocidal violence by the European upper class against Native Americans did exactly this.
Chattel Slavery "To the Rescue"
The European upper class in the Virginia Colony also feared that its bonded laborers of European descent and of African descent would would unite to remove it from power, as they came close to doing in 1676 during Bacon's Rebellion.
In 1676-7 there was a rebellion of English and African descended bond laborers (indentured servants and slaves) against the ruling class of Virginia, known as Bacon's Rebellion. Few Americans have heard about this momentous event because the ruling class in charge of our education knows that if Americans knew about this event they would understand how racial discrimination is a weapon used by the rich against all working class people regardless of the color of their skin.
Nathaniel Bacon was a member of the ruling elite who launched a rebellion for aims that did not involve liberating bonded laborers from their bondage. Bacon, however, relied on bonded laborers for his armed uprising and in the course of it, in order to maintain the support of his followers, he was obliged to do the unthinkable: he "proclam'd liberty to all Servants and Negro's"* [this and the following account are from T.W. Allen's The Invention of the White Race, volume 2, pp 213-14].
"The Royal Commissioners noted that "sundry servants and other persons of desperate fortunes in Virginia during the late rebellions deserted from their masters and ran into rebellion on the encouragement of liberty...It became clear, in the words of one Virginia account, 'the name of Authority had but little power to [w]ring the Sword out of these Mad fellows hands.' Authority failing, [Captain Thomas] Grantham [of the thirty gun Concord] 'resalved to acoste them with never to be performed promises" of pardon for the freemen [former indentured servants] and freedom for the bond-laborers, English and Negroes, such as had constituted the rebel army from the time of the burning of Jamestown [by the rebels]...Grantham described the historic encounter:
'I went to Colonel West's house about three miles further, which was their Cheife Garrison and Magazine; I there mett about foure hundred English and Negroes in Armes, who were much dissatisfied at the Surrender of the Point, saying I had betray'd them, and thereupon some were for shooting mee, and others were for cutting mee in peeces; I told them I would willingly surrender myselfe to them, till they were satisfied from his Majestie, and did ingage to thr Negroes and Servants, that they were all pardoned and freed from their Slavery: and with faire promises and Rundletts of Brandy, I pacified them, giving them severall Noates under my hand, that what I did was by the Order of His Majestie and the Governor...Most of them I persuaded to goe to their Homes...except about Eighty Negroes and Twenty English which would not deliver Armes.'
"Grantham's testament has significance that is beyond exaggeration: in Virginia, 128 years before William Lloyd Garrison was born, laboring-class African-Americans and European-Americans fought side by side for the abolition of slavery. In so doing they provided the supreme proof that the white race [as a concept designed to achieve social control by the ruling class] did not then exist."
The solidarity between laboring-class African-Americans and European-Americans* fighting alongside each other against the upper class that exploited them both, demanding the abolition of bond labor, frightened the Virginia ruling class. It was precisely to prevent such solidarity--to destroy it!--and thereby secure their domination over all laboring people, that the ruling class did something drastic. They instituted overt racial discrimination in order to foment mistrust and resentment and even fear between the working class people of European descent and those of African descent.
They broke with centuries of English common law to create an entirely novel system of social control based on creating something that had not previously existed--a "white race" defined as people of European descent who, no matter how poor, would, by newly enacted law, hold a higher social position than absolutely every person of African descent, no matter how wealthy.
Thus when Virginia Governor William Gooch was asked in 1723 by the Lords of Trade and Plantations what were the reasons that induced the Assembly to pass an act that included an article that said '...no free negro, mulatto, or indian whatsoever, shall have any vote at the election of burgesses, or any other election whatsoever.' (which Attorney-General Richard West in Great Britain said "cannot be just") the Governor said that the racially discriminatory curtailment of the franchise was in order "to fix a perpetual Brand upon Free Negros and Mulattos." This "Brand" became the basis of chattel slavery.
Another break with centuries of prior English common law was also necessary to enforce white superiority. A child's social status had always heretofore been inherited from the father; now it was changed to be inherited from the mother so that the children of a slave would be a slave even if the father was "white"; otherwise the child of a slave owner father and a slave mother would have been both "white" and of African descent, which had to be made impossible. If a "white" woman ever had a child by a non-white man, then according to the law at the time the child would be both "white" and of African descent, which would again threaten the system of social control. This is probably the origin of the ruling elite's overwrought fear in the American South of a black man having relations with a white woman.
Chattel slavery, in other words, was extreme violence against black people carried out in the name of white people, for the purpose of destroying the solidarity between working class whites and blacks with mutual fear, resentment and mistrust. It was a way of "demobilizing" the working class, to use Professor Gagnon's word.
United States Drones against Muslims
The United States uses drones to make Muslims hate Americans, and to make Americans fear Muslims. Read the details here.
HOW LONG ARE WE GOING TO LET THE UPPER CLASS RULERS GET AWAY WITH THIS?
The world is filled with violence that we are told arises from the sad (supposed) fact that people of different ethnic groups or religions or races just naturally hate each other. But let's not fall for this Big Lie. Most of the time, if one looks closely, one discovers that the violence is instigated by ruling elites to demobilize "their own" people who otherwise would mobilize to create a more equal and democratic society, which is what ordinary people--no matter their race or religion or ethnicity--want most of all.
* Read here about bond labor versus slave labor at this time; the distinction had not yet become as sharp as it did later.