The last time I was in Haiti was in 2006. Before that, I’d been to Haiti twenty-one times, including once as an imperial occupation soldier in 1994. I even took two of our kids there once. I was there for the 1994 US invasion, and I was there when the US was staging the 2004 coup orchestrated by the Bush government. A lot of people know Haiti simply as “the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere,” because that’s the reductive and racist tag that American journalists reflexively use in the grand old tradition of portraying Haiti as somehow inherently degraded and incapable of self-governance — a white supremacist trope since the 1804 Revolution that scared the pants off of American slaveholders. Black people had defeated Napoleon’s armed forces!
Haiti is still occupied. But that’s not our topic today. Today, we are going to talk about how Haiti relates to the presidential campaign of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
Haiti has a complex class dynamic. Until recently, peasants outnumbered urban dwellers who were forced into sweat shops to survive. Every piece of land had a peasant family on it, but every peasant did not have land. The land was/is owned by grandons, big land owners who hold the peasants in a kind of bondage as sharecroppers — a semi-feudal social form. The urban dwellers are controlled by a class of landlords, foreign employers, moneylenders, and international traders, called compradors. Grandons and compradors are separate parasitic and ruling classes with distinct and sometimes antithetical interests. Grandons — the class that was the wind under the wings of Francois Duvalier’s (Papa Doc) regime — are highly nationalistic and provincial, and they make their money by selling what is produced by peasants on their land. Compradors are cosmopolitan (often lighter skinned for historical reasons) and make their money through those various exploitations described above, as well as import-export. This is the class that is closest to neoliberals in the US. Conflicts between compradors and grandons are frequent, even sometimes deadly.
Beneath these two parasitic classes are peasants, marketeers, service workers, sweatshop laborers, and a tremendous mass of the urban unemployed. Combined, they outnumber the compradors and grandons together by about a jillion to one. One thing that will consistently reconcile the grandons with the compradors is the threat of mobilized mass movements. Such a movement elected ex-President Jean Bertand Aristide, twice; and each time the US set up coups to rid itself of the “meddlesome priest.” It wasn’t Aristide they feared. Their hatred of Aristide was incidental to their naked fear of mass movements. What Aristide did was provide a focal point for mass action, and the solidarity that was forged, as well as the organizing experience, was the real and terrifying threat to the parasitic classes.
What’s this to do with the Sanders campaign?
In recent days, the American parasitic ruling class fraction, which controls the Democratic National Committee and the monopoly press, has exposed itself as a version of this same dynamic and this same terror of mobilized masses. We are mobilized around a project aimed at peeling away their power, a movement now focused on seizing the Executive Branch of the Federal Government, the Bernie Sanders campaign.
The parasitic class’s hatred of Sanders is only incidental. It’s the movement — you and me — that gives them nightmares. As their broadsides against the Sanders campaign scores only partial hits against Sanders and his movement continues to march toward the nomination, they are now attacking the movement itself and the people — you and me — who are in it.
Not surprisingly, this attack is coming from the monopoly media, because the Sanders campaign and attendant social movement has bypassed them with the creative and agile tactical employment of social media. The monopoly media hegemony, their grip as the nation’s epistemological gatekeepers, is flagging, and this enrages them. That’s why the attack — joined now by Elizabeth Warren as she foolishly listens to her loser neoliberal strategist Joe Rospars — is directed at the social movement’s online presence.
Chuck Todd, an arrogant, self-important MSNBC hack whose hatred of Sanders borders on psychotic, recently compared Bernie Sanders’ supporters to Nazi brownshirts. That’s right, he compared the supporters of a Jewish candidate who had substantial numbers of his family wiped out by the Third Reich’s killing machine . . . to Nazis.
Like everything else we’ve seen with the establishment’s fight-or-fright reaction, this new attack on Sanders supporters as “toxic” is simultaneously slimy and ripe for ridicule.
In addition to resuscitating the Bernie-bro slander, they are now calling Bernie supporters are terrible bullies. Mike Figueredo, one of those indie outlets on the movement train, did a good piece on this recently, with great clips and commentary that demonstrate just how idiotic this Bernie-bullies narrative is already. Cable media is calling Bernie supporters to are fighting for their candidate online “the swarm,” because every time their bullshit is repeated, a lot of us will challenge them. To my mind, this is not only a good thing, but an eminently necessary one; but they cherry picked the worst examples from a tiny handful of people to tar the whole movement. But the funniest gambit in this smear the movement campaign (always designed to tell others that joining the movement will result in social contamination) is the weapon of choice of said bullies . . . emojis. Like snake and rat emojis.
Hope that pic doesn’t trigger anyone.
As Mike Figueredo says, “If you are that fragile, how are you going to go against Donald Trump?” Then he points out that in the 2016 study done of offensive interactions online by various candidates, the most aggressive, apart from Trump cultists, were Hillary Clinton supporters with 30% very aggressive and 52% non-aggressive, whereas Sanders supporters were 16/68 . . . far less aggressive.
This smear tactic is not only designed to make Sanders supporters social outcasts, it’s designed to blunt the necessary aggressive edge of the Sanders campaign. No, I don’t condone doxxing (except in very specific situations), or attacking other candidates’ supporters as stupid (this is itself a very stupid practice), or using sexist slurs, etc. etc. etc. But there oughtn’t be nor will there be some kind of unilateral disarmament by the movement. We are fighting the richest, most powerful parasitic class in history that wants us back in those mental and financial chains.
That’s why this tactic of smearing Bernie’s supporters requires a very aggressive response . . . a swarm. Because it’s a cynical and slimy as everything else they’ll do to stay in power. Anything less than a full-on swarm would be irresponsible. We are not swarming other people’s supporters; we are swarming this class of parasites and their rat-like media stenographers and publicists.
They are afraid of us. That’s why if we let up for a second, they will destroy us. Expose them. Shine the light. Make the rats run for cover. Swarm!