Thursday, 1 April 2021

Resurrecting Bernstein in Portugal

Surprisingly, or not given that left-wing publishing in Portugal has been pretty much literati and scholars connected to the Communist Party, Anarchism or other assorted far-left intellectuals and academics since the mid 1970's, Eduard Bernstein has yet to be reprinted in Portugal, the only available copies of Evolutionary Socialism available are imported from Brazil (Socialismo Evolucionário, Zahar, 1997) and hard to find 2nd hand books from the original Portuguese edition (Os Pressupostos do Socialismo e as Tarefas da Social-Democracia, Universidade Moderna, 1976).

In 2020 we have decided that Libertária would me more financially viable as a website and a book publisher and not as much as a journal given that the sales of our latest issue were nothing short of depressing. The goal was to devote ourselves to become a digital publication instead and start a Socialist Library book series.

The first volume will be a fresh translation of Evolutionary Socialism by yours truly, while Jorge Matias will be translating l'Arnachie by Elisée Reclus and Tiago Silveira will glue together Sergey Nechayev's Catechism of a Revolutionary with Mikhail Bakunin's Revolutionary Catechism so we can print both texts on a single volume titled as Revolutionary Catechisms.

Eduard Bernstein, 1930

Due to pressure by the pro bono writers of the journal and a few readers, we ended up organizing a GoFundMe campaign and raised enough funds to cover part of the costs for a 4th issue of our print journal, but that's another story. We have decided this will be a turn point edition, after devoting the first three issues to Eduard Bernstein, Karl Kautksy and August Bebel, we have rewritten the Editorial Statute of the journal and from now on instead of a Socialist Party unofficial publication we decided to become a broader left publication, multipartisan of sorts inspired by the previous arrangement of the Socialist Party with The Green Party, the Portuguese Communist Party and the Left Bloc in the parliament.

We will be pushing for a more openly Libertarian Socialist agenda focusing on decentralization, cooperatives and municipalism while still giving space to other Democratic Socialist ideas, as stated on our last editorial virtual gathering: "we will be applying Eduard Bernstein's method to Libertarian Socialism". The major Anarchist bookstore in Portugal so far has refused to sell our journal, claiming they do not sell "partisan publications" and we were openly a publication founded and funded by members and sympathizers of the Socialist Party, we're pretty sure they will hate even more our new Revisionist approach towards Anarchism. 

Be it the Democratic Party in the USA, the Labour Party in the UK, PODEMOS in Spain, Die Linke in Germany, Left Libertarian political currents have always been active within mainstream, fringe and mainstreamish parties, the original Portuguese Socialist Party founded in 1875 was Anarchist in nature, inspired by both Bakunin and Proudhon, its History has been included in the only book devoted to the history of the current Socialist Party (O Socialismo e o PS em Portugal by Fernando Pereira Marques, Âncora Editora, 2017) and back in 1975 posters and medals were issued alongside a circle of conferences to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the original Socialist Party.

Gabriel Feitor wrote a great piece on the Left Libertarian roots of the current Socialist Party original platform in 1974 for this 4th issue, including some of its MPs with a background in radical and Anarchist politics. 

We are devoting this cover to Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and we are trying to expand our distribution to at least 10 independent bookstores spread across the country since so far the journal is only available in Lisbon and Oporto. Let there be heresy! 

Saturday, 16 January 2021

Dictatorship of the Righteous, The Best Far-Right Money Can Buy

 


Unlike his European counterparts, André Ventura - leader of the Portuguese far-right CHEGA - has not been all that shy on his goals and so far has already claimed such human rights violations such as physically castrating sex offenders, chopping off the hands of burglars and creating a new Portuguese Constitution that would implement a "dictatorship of the righteous". In the above picture his campaign slogan: "President of the Righteous Portuguese".

The (not so) invisible American hand

On April, 2019, CHEGA had just been freshly founded and amongst accusations of presenting over 2,600 fake signatures to the Constitutional Court, with under aged and even dead signatories that had to be replaced before the party could be legally registered to run for elections, the news were that the United States embassy in Lisbon had already summoned André Ventura for a meeting one month earlier, in March.

Ventura has also opposed Steve Bannon's prosecution claiming it was just a political witch-hunt that showed how the justice system can be influenced by politics, although so far no evidence has surfaced that Bannon's The Movement has funded CHEGA truth is that another American millionaire has done such: Caesar DePaço.

Caesar DePaço has been in the process of founding the DePaço Foundation and the cadre of the foundation includes several members of CHEGA, Mr. DePaço is the owner of Summit Nutritionals that claims average earnings of 3 million euros every year just in Portugal, enough to feed his philanthropy of donating half of it to USA's law enforcement, via patrol cars or K9 units training. The Executive Director of the Foundation is none other than José Lourenço, vice-president of CHEGA with ties to several boxing clubs in Oporto city, whose sportsmen act as André Ventura's bodyguards, and to Fernando Madureira, the leader of the ultra Super Dragões that was investigated under drug dealing charges back in 2015.

The best far-right money can buy


Visão weekly so far has dedicated 3 covers to CHEGA's funders

Unlike previous fringe far-right unsuccessful parties here in Portugal, CHEGA being born from top to bottom via professional politicians that made a career for themselves within the Social-Democrat Party (PSD, where André Ventura originates), the Democratic Center Party (CDS/PP) and even the Socialist Party (PS) had the benefit of being supported by many businessmen, evangelical churches and bankers, making it a perfect Deep State asset.

One of them and the one that stands out is the owner of SODARCA, the NATO certified leading seller of weaponry, technology and ammunition to the Portuguese police and military, João Maria Bravo. Bravo has contracts of nearly 33,3 million euros with the Portuguese government just in the last 5 years. 

Other names worth mentioning are Miguel Félix da Costa (former Castrol Oil, currently SLIL real estate and tourism), Carlos Barbot (Barbot paints empire), Paulo Mirpuri (former Air Luxor, current Mirpuri Investment and Hi-Fly), João Pedro Gomes (BSGG law firm), Francisco Sá Nogueira (BES bank), Francisco Cruz Martins (BANIF and BES banks), Salvador Posser de Andrade (BES bank) and Jaime Nogueira Pinto (Geopolical Intelligence Services), and its own inhouse millionaire Diogo Pacheco de Amorim. This in addition to the above American millionaire Caesar DoPaço.

Mainstream news darling: André Ventura

Alongside mainstream politics, a minor interest of André Ventura before founding CHEGA in 2019, Ventura was already a very popular television star debating football matches on tabloid television and newspaper Correio da Manhã, here he took part on two weekly shows, one where he would debate with representants of rival football clubs late at night and one where, as a lawyer, he would comment violent real crime on morning television.

This made him very familiar with show business, on how to best manipulate club identity emotions - that he masterfully uses on his debates with political opponents and publish speeches - and also very familiar with the crime rates and which minorities trigger the most among the Portuguese audience.

None dare call it hate

So far the Portuguese far-right had wasted its rare occasional appearance on mainstream media to criticize the usual rubbish: Islamic invasion via refugees (even parading chopped pork heads in grounds set for the construction of a new mosque), connecting the crime rate to immigration, White replacement, whatever, the usual empty rhetoric that sounded as alien to the Portuguese voter as David Icke's theories. Keep in mind that the Portuguese quality of life hit such a low point that when the Portuguese government tried to offer asylum to refugees from the wars in the Middle East, those refugees declined and prefered to stay in a Greek concentration camp instead of coming to Portugal. 

Ventura tried something different, as a member of local government in Loures and as a true crime commenter on television he played the Gipsy card: he understood that gipsies were universally unliked, had a very negative perception in the eyes of the average voter - that links them to crime, undeserved government welfare and positive discrimination when dealing with law enforcement. Portuguese don't view their prejudices against the Roma minority as racism but as self-defense, they are feared not hated, and that has been CHEGA's road to success. 

The mainstream media also discovered that mentioning Ventura attracted tens of thousands of clicks, be if from his supporters or of the outraged mainstream left-wing and fringe Antifa types spending their days arguing and attacking his views. While other far-right parties like PNR (National Renovation Party) or PSN (National Solidarity Party) had been met with zero media space dealing with mostly left leaning journalists that chose to ignore them, more recently the news rooms in Portugal fired most veteran journalists and started employing content creators and interns fresh out of college, the main purpose of news bosses these days is to entertain and attract clicks and shares that turn into online ad revenues, and Ventura has been God sent: for the first time ever the far-right became a basic staple on the news.

Enter the Iranian opposition

This one was a surprise, it's on the public record that Iranian opposition gave 800,000€ to the Spanish far-right VOX, but so far in portugal that support had been directed to MEPs of the mainstream parties, but when André Ventura was debating with Ana Gomes, the former MEP of the Socialist Party also running in the presidential election, he made a point of linking her to the Iranian government. I decided to check what was behind that strange attack.

What I discovered was two media attacks by other CHEGA supporters, one of them by João Lemos Esteves on the right-wing weekly newspaper Nascer do Sol and by José Dias in the official website, both attacking the Iranian government and defending the Iranian opposition. So, why is CHEGA attacking who they view as enemies of the Iranian opposition? No idea, but keeping in mind what happened with VOX we can only speculate. 

Conclusion

It becomes apparent that CHEGA and André Ventura have all the features of the traditional Deep State asset, plenty of space in mainstream media, heavy funding from American and Capitalist sources, the support of the military industrial complex and unlike its European counterparts Le Pen and Salvini it has been very vocal that his aim is indeed a new dictatorship and laws that violate human rights. 

With most Portuguese confined at home and probably too scared to vote on January 24, the presidential elections, Ventura is set to have a huge proportion of the vote both because people don't care all that much with the presidential election - the President of Portugal holds close to zero political power - and there's a plague of Covid-19 denialism among the Portuguese far-right and even some sectors of the Conservative and Liberal rights, that makes them more likely to go out and vote and many are upset with how sympathetic the current right-wing president has been towards the Socialist Party governments. We will just have to wait and see.


Saturday, 9 January 2021

Why it took so long for Portugal to have a successful far-right?


Portugal and Spain had right-wing dictatorships that lasted through decades, yet both countries were the last to have successful far-right parties electing MPs when compared to the rest of Europe, why is that? The following analysis has rendered me many hates in Portugal, but it is quite factual.

It’s quite simple actually, for most part the MPs that on April 24 of 1974 were part of the authoritarian National Union party went to bed after the April 25th Carnation Revolution of 1974 as members of the Social-Democratic Party (PSD), of the Social Democratic Centre (CDS) and of the Socialist Party (PS), even the secret police (PIDE) had a place on the democratic regime that followed training the newly founded border police and staffing the already previous existing Judiciary Police, those not crazy enough to have fled to South Africa or South America.

Throughout the years these people were all very content on being public servants or even MPs and members of staff of the new democratic parties, for my experience having met quite a few over the years you could say they were democratic by day, while collecting New State dictatorship memorabilia, and even Nazi and Fascist memorabilia, by night. You see, the Portuguese dictatorship of Salazar was not all that ideological, it pretty much preached that the elites ruled, and the others followed, and that politics was a nuisance and something on the reach of only a few enlightened folks, those of military and academic background or preferably both.

So, for most of the former National Union members and MPs all they needed to do was learn the new rules and keep their jobs, no fuss, no mess, just business as usual. And that worked just fine for decades, until Antonio Costa´s Socialist Party failed at winning the election in 2015, but for the first time ever decided it would take advantage of the left-wing majority of MPs (the right-wing PSD won the election but had less MPs than the whole left-wing MPs combined) and would break the gentleman’s agreement that had been in place since 1974: the party with most votes’ forms government, even if it has no majority in Parliament.

The Communist Party, The Greens and the Left Bloc were invited to support a Socialist Party government and for the first time ever a party that had not won the elections would rule, plus the Socialist Party broke a wall that since 1974 blocked the centrist parties from alliances with the fringe parties, the Communist Party and the Socialist Party ceased being rivals for the course of four years, that sadly ended last year – much to my regret.

The side effect was that those that were “Fascist” at heart, using the common word for the far-right these days although the New State was not Fascist per si and even prosecuted and incarcerated real Fascists, no longer felt comfortable within CDS, PSD and PS as the minimum they had always expected of the democratic establishment was its anti-Communism and to hold the unwritten gentleman’s agreement, most mainstream right-wingers joined them screaming this was a coup d’état of sorts by the left, and since 2015 the ground became fertilized for a new form of politics, the far-right CHEGA (ENOUGH) was born on April of 2019 and elected its first MP.

The party claims to have over 25,000 members and most of its local sections were formed by former members of CDS, PSD and PS that no longer felt comfortable in their own parties, and it has attracted fringe far-right Identitarians and Neo-Nazis looking for a new home after decades of unsuccessful ventures (CHEGA has been trying to detect these and expel them over the last months, or at least so it claims).

The other factors were Andre Ventura's craftmanship as a TV star before CHEGA, a particular hate/fear pretty generalized amongst the Portuguese population that no previous far-right party had dared explore, an apparent support from the embassy of the USA in Lisbon and the Iranian opposition, that I will leave to a follow up article. In a single year CHEGA has elected one MP to the National Assembly and two MPs to the Regional Assembly of the Azores, that are already supporting a surprise right-wing coalition government. 

Meanwhile, in the midst of the elections for the President of Portugal (January 24) and while I write this, Ventura is parading around Lisbon with Marine Le Pen and is polling on 3rd place if the National Elections were held today...

Pictures taken from CHEGA's Facebook page.

Short note on my health


Sorry for the ghosting, but as I had mentioned here I'm going through some health issues and both the bad news and the heavy use of corticosteroids have left pretty much on a mind state that rendered me unable to write, translate or even function properly some days - I've been on corticosteroids for 11 months now and the mood swings became unmanageable and the other side effects for taking corticosteroids for so long are utterly scary. So, it's not an infection, it's not a tumour, it's TWO tumours luckily with only a 10% probability of being malign, problem is with the pandemic in Portugal the surgery to remove it can be delayed and my current weight being 140kg after spending nearly a year with zero exercise (I used to do one hour 5km walks everyday before the Covid-19 outbreak) anaesthesia will be an increased risk and it will have to be done in a private hospital in February or March, meaning there will be a heavy bill to pay.

The reason I have trouble breathing is due to the extension of the tumour, goes from my upper jaw all the way up near my right eye and has grown into my nose, blocking it, hence my trouble breathing. The tumour on the left side of my jaw is tiny, not sure if the doctor wants to remove both right away or see how it progresses, I have an appointment with him on the 14th to talk those things over. My wife is in panic, we have been living as a couple for 15 years but we never actually got married - only a De Facto Union for tax purposes - so we're getting our affairs in order trying to get marry before the surgery so she has the right to my pension if anything goes wrong and I'm pretty mad for sitting on my life insurance for a year, I got the papers for it in January 2020 but just left it on my desk.

Up to November I was taking 4 puffs of corticosteroids a day, now I'm taking only 2, but it still clouds my mind and, some days, my eyes - as cataracts and glaucoma are side effects of using it for so long. And I'm all swollen up, it's even hard to look at the mirror. Sleeping is an issue, most days I have to sleep sitting on the couch to avoid apnea since when I lay down in bed the tumour and the gooey slime it produces on my sinus blocks my air ways. Everyday I wake up and I'm just grateful I can still see and walk.

Saturday, 21 November 2020

Azores: far-right agrees to support new government coalition!


It's official: the Social-Democrat Party (PSD, Liberal/Centre-Right), the People's Party (CDS/PP, Liberal-Conservative) and the Monarchic People's Party (PPM, Conservative/Royalist) have signed an agreement with the far-right ENOUGH (CHEGA) and with the Liberal Initiative (IL, Libertarian/Neoliberal) so it can form a governmental coalition and rule the Azores after 23 years of Socialist Party rule. CHEGA and IL will not be part of the government, but signed an agreement compromising to support it in the Azorean Parliament voting favorably on all Confidence votes and yearly Budgets and opposing all motions that would force new elections. 

This was another major fail for the mainstream pre-electoral polls that predicted a majority win for the Socialist Party, the doubt was only how big would this majority be and if the Socialist Party would have to make some sort of parliamentary agreement with the Portuguese Communist Party (which lost his last MP in the Azores), the Left Bloc (BE, Democratic Socialist) and the People, Animals, Nature (PAN, Animalist) parties to assure it would have a quiet rule for the next four years. 

Instead of that scenario, it was a major win for all the right-wing parties, with the far-right entering the Azorean Parliament for the first time ever with two MPs, the IL electing one MP and the PPM electing two MPs after years with a single MP, Paulo Estêvão. Panic is becoming a major issue, since a major payback is expected.

The first known measures are nothing short of scary, the Azores being the poorest region of Portugal, 10% of its population depends of welfare and food banks and the government is the main contractor since jobs are scarce in the nine islands, generations upon generations - like mine - have emigrated to Canada and the United States or continental Portugal and even so job creation has been something rare, other than tourism focused options that I have since long criticized in local newspapers when I lived there and even now, living in Lisbon, as the national government was also overwhelmed with tourism until the so predictable crash brought by Covid-19.

The first two measures announced by the PSD Azores headed government are those imposed by the far-right and its own Neoliberal wing: cutting in half all welfare aid and "degovernmentalize" the region, meaning that the new government will privatize all it can - like the national PSD did privatizing everything from the national airlines to the postal services - and will fire a lot of people currently working for the public sector.

Like in Brazil, the local right-wing parties have long sustained that the Socialist Party remained in power purchasing votes through welfare and food banks, making sure all those 'lazy' people voted Socialist. This is even more absurd if we look at viral fake news campaigns online stating that RSI (welfare) recipients get thousands of euros, when the truth is that that the Azorean RSI is the lowest in Portugal, we are talking about a welfare check of 86,11€ every month. Yes, under ninety euros just to cover basic costs with water, gas, electricity and part of the food expenses (10% of the local population depends of this monthly check and food bank deliveries to avoid starving).

Picture by Dan Fador, standing in Pico mountain, Azores

Sunday, 15 November 2020

A personal update on my health


I know I promised a follow up article on the large right-wing coalition in the Azores, that includes an agreement with the far-right (yes, it happened), but I'm struggling with a few health issues, taking some heavy medication that leaves me on a zombie like situation and mood, it's harder than usual to concentrate, I have migraines, abdominal pain and nausea all the time and I would appreciate any tips to attenuate the secondary effects of cefuroxime.

I have a huge sinus infection that has been persistent for over a year now (started October 2019) and my CT scan report suspects it might be an inverted papilloma, I'm taking two daily doses of cefuroxime for 16 days to dry the sinus, then I'll wait 5 days to see if all the mucus is cleared out and take another CT scan - this time the physician made sure I will not be reading the CT scan report before he does to avoid any panic attacks on my end, like what happened this week when I had the irrational thought of reading the report the night before our appointment and freaked out when it mentioned a tumor as the likely cause of my persistent sinusitis. 

This time he scheduled the CT scan so he can read it a few minutes before my appointment with him on December 7, I will be going from the CT room directly to his office a floor up. That sounded like a red flag to me, but I'm rather paranoid at this time. He is very confident it will not be a papilloma, just a neglected infection and that the lab was just being extra careful before ruling out any causes, hence the report stating it might be a papilloma (when I started to have trouble breathing I went to my pneumologist suspecting it was asthma, turns out the medication treated the symptoms but not the cause, and now here we are).

But hey, at least it's not Covid-19 - although the side effects of cefuroxime mixed with the shortage of air mimic the same symptoms, except for coughing and fever. Luckily for me I live in a country where healthcare is very affordable (an average of 15€/U$20,00 per hospital visit or medical appointment). It's a Neoliberal hell just the same, but I guess having Medicare for All/National Health Service will label us as a Communist country on the American mindset. 

Tuesday, 3 November 2020

Tiny update on the Azorean elections


So far the Libertarian (Iniciativa Liberal) party said it would not support a right-wing government, taking for granted that the Animalists (PAN - Pessoas, Animais, Natureza) will support the Socialists in the Regional Parliament as they have done in the National parliament, there is a deadlock: 28 MPs for each government option... each side will be wrestling for that IL MP vote very hard this week.

Since the two far-right (CHEGA) MPs until recently were part of other right-wing parties, my sources claim that on the backstage there are negotiations for them to resign from CHEGA and become independent MPs as soon as they assume their seats, evidence of that is that yesterday the Azorean vice-president of CHEGA, Orlando Lima, resigned from his position demonstrating the turmoil within the party.

Saturday, 31 October 2020

The Weaponisation of Labour Antisemitism

The Labour Party is losing it, completely. Those delusional centrists suspended Jeremy Corbyn!!!!

Dear British Labour Party member: please remember that denouncing Israeli racism and war crimes against Palestinians and comparing the current far-right course of its government to Fascism is for practical purposes considered as anti-Semitism that could get you suspended and expelled... even if you have a decades long record of fighting racism and anti-Semitism.