Vijay Prashad: How the imperialists couped the world in the 1960s

A far-reaching insight into the dirty wars waged by the imperialists to sustain their domination and keep the rest of the world in chains.

In this insightful interview with George Galloway on the Mother of All Talkshows (MoATS, on RT’s Sputnik Radio), anti-imperialist author and commentator Vijay Prashad outlines the significance of three key events in the 1960s: the coup in Congo and the murder of Patrice Lumumba, the massacre of millions of communists and the slow-motion coup in Indonesia, and the coup in Brazil.

The Indonesian coup has been in the news recently in the light of revelations that British security was deeply involved in inciting right-wing generals to carry out the full-scale slaughter of communists in the country, preventing the likelihood of them coming peacefully to power as widely expected in the upcoming elections.

As the Guardian put it in a recent article: “Newly declassified papers show shocking role played by Britain in slaughter … British officials secretly deployed black propaganda in the 1960s to urge prominent Indonesians to ‘cut out’ the ‘communist cancer’.” (Revealed: how UK spies incited mass murder of Indonesia’s communists, 17 October 2021)

The ensuing massacre, which began in 1965, left three million Indonesian communists and progressives dead and installed one of the world’s most brutal kleptocrats, General Suharto, who retained his grip on power for 30 years, much to the relief of the imperialists.

Patrice Lumumba, faithful disciple of the pan-Africanist Ghanaian president Kwame Nkrumah and one of the brightest stars of the African liberation movement, was murdered in 1961 by the combined efforts of Belgian, British and US imperialism, just a few months after being elected as the country’s first independent prime minister.

He, too, was replaced by a brutal kleptocrat, Mobutu Sese Seko, who was able to keep his grip on power thanks to the backing of the imperialists, who were happy to let him bleed the treasury dry so long as they were able to keep control of Congo’s vast and profitable resources.

Vijay points out that one resource in particular, plutonium, was on the mind of the USA, which was desperate to make sure that it controlled the world’s reserves of the nuclear fuel. From rubber in the nineteenth century to coltan today, Congo continues to be drowned in blood for the sake of its resources – resources that could and should have been used to lift up and enrich not only the people of Congo but those of all Africa.

The coup in Brazil in 1964 was planned and orchestrated by the regime of President John F Kennedy. US-backed generals overthrow the nationalist government of João Goulart, who was considered too independent-minded and too friendly with the left for comfort. Goulart was hardly a revolutionary, but the fact that he had visited Soviet Russia and People’s China and had refused to cooperate with a proposed US invasion of Cuba marked his cards.

In this way, three of the world’s most populous and significant countries – the largest in Africa, the largest in Latin America and the largest in Asia after China and India – were kept politically and economically subservient to the imperialists, against the will of their people, whose popular movements were drowned in blood.

Not only were their movements for liberation crushed, but the effects spread out across entire continents from these key locations. Rightly does Vijay point out that “we still haven’t come to terms with the true meaning of these events”, although they took place nearly 60 years ago.