Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mika Etchebéhère , POUM Militia Captain

Abridged and roughly translated...

It has been 16 years since the death Micaela Feldman de Etchebéhère , an Argentinian woman who commanded a column of POUM militia in the Spanish Civil War. A friend of Julio Cortazar, Alfonsina Storni, Andre Breton and Copi, her extraordinary history is little known. She not only fought in this war but also lived through all the ideological adventures of the 20th Century.

A child of Russian Jewish immigrants, she grew on the stories of those revolutionaries who had escaped the pogroms and jails of Tsarist Russia. Born in 1902 in Moises Ville, she became an anarchist at age 15 in Rosario. Later in 1920 while at university she encountered Hipólito Etchebéhère, who became her compañero. Together, their lives were committed to militant action. They were first involved in the group “Insurrexit” influenced by both Marxism and anarchism. Then they joined the Communist Party, but were expelled two years later for their disagreement with the party leadership and their support for Trotsky, although they did not join or form a Trotskyist group. Mika then traveled through Patagonia collecting first-hand reports of the massacre of peasants and gauchos by the army. (see Patagonia Rebelde LG)

1931 saw them in Europe, first to Spain,, 1932 in Germany where they witnessed the rise of Nazism, then in 1933 to Paris where they were involved with the revolutionary group, Que Faire. Three years later they were back in Spain where they joined a POUM motorized column. Hipólito was given command. One month later he was killed at Atienza. Because of the machismo, at first Mika had difficulties being taken seriously. The militia men protested that In other companies the women wash and mend the men's socks. Mika replied The women who are with us are militia members. We fight together, men and women, equal, and nobody better forget it! And we are all volunteers!

Little by little, she overcame her lack of knowledge of military strategy and assumed the commanding role in the column. She crawled through the trenches on her hands and knees through the mud, gathering arms, keeping the revolutionary spirit alive among the militia as she fought beside them. She was then made Capitan and fought on the fronts of Sigüenza, Moncloa, Pineda de Húmera. With the defeat by the fascists she fled to France, but returned to Argentina before she could be arrested by Vichy.

Mika returned to France in 1946. In Paris in 1968, Mika was seen getting students to wear gloves as they dug up paving stones to throw at the cops, since their hands would be clean and there would be no evidence if they were arrested. The policeman who later escorted her to her house had no idea that the handbag of this 66 year old, elegantly dressed lady was stuffed full of dirty gloves.

Taken from the Venezuelan anarchist blog Initiativa Communista

It has been brought to my attention that the original article was written by Elsa Osorio and published in Página 12el 30.7.2008

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What's Behind the War in Georgia


Mikhail Saakashvili and his dextrous National Movement were brought to power in Georgia on the wave of a "pink revolution" in 2004. In these last four years, Georgia has strengthened its links with NATO and the EU, but has had to put up with a tough embargo on its goods from Russia, which props up the two secessionist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both effectively out of Georgian control. ---- Saakashvili as president has not kept his promises. At least a third of the Georgian population is living below the poverty line; unemployment is officially at 16% but is actually much higher; the monthly pension is €16. Current employment legislation permits employers to fire workers without just cause. Popular discontent exploded on the occasion of last January's presidential election, called following the huge demonstrations of November 2007: poverty had been growing at the same rate as the economy.

Saakashvili won for the second time, but in order to do so was forced into

repressing tens of thousands of demonstrators in the capital, Tbilisi, who were protesting against vote-rigging, corruption, athoritarianism and economic disaster.

But so what?! The strategic control of Georgia is worth much more than the state its people live in. And that de facto Russian-guaranteed autonomy that exists in South Ossetia is no little worry to US and European interests in the area. Georgian entry into NATO would justify an international military presence with the aim of protecting and controlling two enormously important strategic corridors for the West: the famous Baku-Tbilisi-Cehyan (BTC) corridor bringing gas from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean and the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzerum corridor bringing gas from the Caspian to Turkey, where it is planned to link up with the TIG ("Nabucco") corridor which will link Turkey to Greece and Italy. But both these oil and gas pipelines pass too outrageously south of Russia and too near Ossetia. Russia (and Gazprom) will certainly not be sitting around doing nothing! As long as there is tension in the Caucasus, there will be no room for NATO and Europe will be
forced to deal with Russia if it wants Caspian oil and gas.

Italy's Foreign Minister is worried that the conflict will spread to Abkhazia...
but in reality his fears are more for the interests of ENI (which has a 5% stake in the BTC) and Edison (BTE), and he is already offering to send an Italian "peacekeeping" mission to the Caucasus on a European mandate.

Along the 21st-century Silk Road, the lives of 70,000 South Ossetian inhabitants (for whom independence is denied, unlike Kossovo) are worth nothing; as are the lives of the people of Georgia - two peoples apparently divided by ethnic conflict, but in reality hostage to the inter-imperialist conflict for the control of raw materials and corridors.

There will be no peace or stability in the Caucasus until its peoples obtain
full autonomy and self-determination of their own destinies and until they
cooperate in solidarity in the production and shipping of raw materials, against dictators and local ruling classes, against all forms of nationalism, against all forms of imperialism and against capitalism.

Permanent ceasefire. International solidarity with all workers in the Caucasus.


12 August 2008

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Are Women Smarter Than Men?

The gender gap in politics continues, and the difference between boys and girls in school continues to arouse interest in the media. And it is true that girls do better in school than boys and women are less likely to support the right-wing (i.e. the Stupid Party) than men. This would seem to indicate that women are smarter than men.

But I explain the political gender gap thusly;

The right-wing (1) is the war party, and youth, the children born of women are its chief victims.

The right-wing takes the short-term view, ie the quarterly profit rate, the next election – whereas women are more likely to think in terms of the life times of their children and grandchildren. And for women who do not have or want to have children, this attitude is still part of "women's culture."

The right-wing is highly ideological and willing to sacrifice large sections of the population in imposing its world view. Women and children are the chief victims of this sociopathology.

The right-wing seeks to destroy social services and throw the weaker and poorer sections of the populace to the dogs. Women, because of their historical disadvantage in terms of income and the plight of single mothers, are more likely to support such services, both out of self-interest and compassion grown of experience.

Impulsiveness and lack of empathy are two of the chief emotional characteristics of criminals. Around 90% of genuine criminals (2) are male and the vast majority of them are young. Young men, in particular, are noted for their impulsiveness.

Lack of empathy is also one of the chief characteristics of right-wingers.

An impulsive person is one who fails to take the long-term view and to take into account all the ramifications of his actions. In essence he does not think, chief characteristic of stupidity. As before mentioned, the short-term view is the one favored by righists. As well they fail to see connections, everything is seen in isolation. As well, a "black and white" world view. The latter is also an aspect of stupidity.

I would say that women are not necessarily "smarter" than men, but they are certainly a damn sight wiser, since wisdom consists largely of taking the long view and of attempting to see all the ramifications of one's actions. I would also say that in the end wisdom is the more important form of intelligence than the ability to manipulate facts and figures.

On the other hand, I am suspicious of the data that "proves" boys do more poorly in school or that boys are somehow innately less likely to read or take an interest in learning. Gender role specification starts at birth. As well, testosterone automatically will make boys more aggressive (and thus more impulsive, immature and as generations of ten year old girls will tell you, "stoopid!") Yet, rather than seeking to offset this biological tendency, the traditional patriarchal upbringing does the opposite. If a boy is rude, violent, destructive, obnoxious, these traits are dismissed as "just being a boy." Patriarchal upbringing tends to downgrade "intellectual" interests, good manners, non-violence and empathy as effeminate – the female being inferior, of course. Girls on the other hand, who because of patriarchy could do with some aggressiveness, are sat upon. Historically, this has resulted in neurosis among women and sociopathology among men.

Some boys certainly do shun books or do more poorly in class than girls. But these are boys raised in more traditional patriarchal ways. Boys raised by counter-cultural parents or the liberal educated professional classes, are no more likely to do poorly in school or reject "intellectual" activities than girls. Nor do they turn to delinquency. Indeed, you can virtually guarantee that a boy who reads a lot will not take up mugging old ladies as a pastime. (Though he might become a pacifist, a socialist or an anarchist, a worse fate in the eyes of the reactionaries.)

Attempts to improve boys standing in school by introducing male-only classes and "boy-oriented education" are simply attempts to re-introduce patriarchy by the back door and should be fought and defeated.

1."Right wing" does not refer to either "red" Tories or genuine free market libertarians. It refers to the right-wing nanny state, pro-corporate, pro-war, socially reactionary, authoritarian right, such as Bushites, Harpocrits, fundi theocrats, neo-liberals, neocons, etc and their brown shirt kissin' cousins.

2. Prostitution is a moral issue, not a criminal one, drug addiction is a medical problem, not a criminal one. Addicts steal to pay for their drugs, but would not if they could get them in a non-criminal manner. The use of harmless drugs like cannabis is a personal choice and the state should have no say in the matter. "Genuine criminals" are those who harm others or live by theft, fraud etc.

Articles on gender difference in intelligence and ability to succeed in school.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

More Proof of Polynesian Contact With the Americas

Tahitian Vanilla is a plant found only in Tahiti. But now geneticists have traced its origins to Central America. See

This is only the latest in a number of recent discoveries



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