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Thread: In Memory of Antonio Conselheiro and the Canudos Soviet

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    Default In Memory of Antonio Conselheiro and the Canudos Soviet

    In the state of Bahia in north east Brazil, in the last quarter of the 19th century, a city was founded by poor people who wanted to live in hope and comradeship. They wanted to live by the principals of Christian Communism, as described in the Acts of the Apostles. Their leader was Antonio Conselheiro. They founded a Commune that consisted of 5,200 homes and involved 24,000 people. Everybody who could work, did work. Money was not needed, as everyone took what they really needed, but, in comradely spirit, took no more. There was no need for police.

    So, how did the ruling class take this Communist Utopia? They sent an army that burned every home to the ground, and slaughtered hundreds of people. They captured Conselheiro, and beheaded him in 1897.

    Today, the ruling class claim that such a Utopia is impossible. They say that human beings are naturally greedy and egotistical and could never live in peace and comradeship. As the people of Canudos showed in the 19th century, and the Zapatistas show today, the ruling class are liars

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    After reading the impressive Llosa novel on the subject 'War to End All Wars', I couldn't get Osama Bin Laden out of my mind when trying to picture this mixed up man and the suicide cult that emerged.
    Cael you forgot to mention his rather quaint devotion to the Brazilian Monarchy. If an unreformed Conselheiro was still around he'd probably have considered Lula the Devil incarnate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by StormWarning View Post
    After reading the impressive Llosa novel on the subject 'War to End All Wars', I couldn't get Osama Bin Laden out of my mind when trying to picture this mixed up man and the suicide cult that emerged.
    Cael you forgot to mention his rather quaint devotion to the Brazilian Monarchy. If an unreformed Conselheiro was still around he'd probably have considered Lula the Devil incarnate.
    That novel is a flight of fancy very very loosely based on the events themselves. Its a pretty grotesque novel at that, written by a fanatical neo-liberal if not crypto fascist, and mostly based on the tabloid account of one of the government supporters that took part in the attack on Canudos, i.e. Euclides da Cunha (hardly an objective source.) Here is an example of some of the purple prose that Llosa indulges himself in:

    Finally, one of the menfolk began to cry, out of helplessness or terror. Satan João thereupon plunged his knife into him and slit him wide open, the way a butcher slaughters a steer. This bloodshed had the effect of an order, and shortly thereafter the cangaceiros, crazed with excitement, began to shoot off their blunderbusses, not stopping until they had turned the one street in Custódia into a graveyard. Even more than the wholesale killing, what contributed to the legend of Satan João was the fact that he humiliated each of the males personally after they were dead, cutting off their testicles and stuffing them in their mouths.

    Da Cunha never said that anything like this took place. Its like the novelist is trying to warn us of the dangers of defying our masters - what dire result will come of it if we do. No doubt that is why Llosa is so popular with right wing prize commitees.

    Indeed, I would say that Llosa may well have been writing his own confession in this book. He was involved personally with the cover up of the massacre of an indigenous peasant village by the Peruvian army in the early 1980s. He headed up Peru's version of the Widgery Tribunal, which, needless to say, put the blame on the victims and not on their state killers. He is, in effect, Peru's Lord Widgery.

    Well, a chara, you certainly know that if the right wing elite are still trying to slander poor people over a hundred years later, they must have been excellent people.

    As for suicide cults, I have no idea what you are talking about. Antonio Conselheiro certainly didnt commit suicide anyway, nor did the hundreds of people murdered by the Brazilian army.

    In short, while this book may have some merit as highly imaginative fiction, or even personal confession or self justification, there is really no justification for mentioning it in the history forum.
    Last edited by Cael; 14th October 2010 at 06:45 AM.

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    By the way, if he considered Lula "the Devil incarnate," he wouldnt be too far wrong. A neo-liberal sockpuppet if ever there was one.
    Last edited by Cael; 14th October 2010 at 06:18 AM.

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    Here's a statue to Antonio Conselheiro. God bless him, he will be remembered with love long after the criminal hacks are forgotten like so much trash:

    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PN3LEO6ayA4&feature=related]YouTube - Antonio Conselheiro..[/ame]

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    Maybe you should start a thread on Llosa, bound to be alot of interest after the nobel prize, and your very controversial views.
    I actually thought the novel was very fair and showed how years of soul destroying poverty can make people resort to the ultimate sacrifice; and what a tragedy was.
    Beyond the novel which I consider a great work of 'art' I know very little of this historical episode, but again I'll repeat a juxtaposition can be made with Bin Laden AFPak region.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cael View Post
    In the state of Bahia in north east Brazil, in the last quarter of the 19th century, a city was founded by poor people who wanted to live in hope and comradeship. They wanted to live by the principals of Christian Communism, as described in the Acts of the Apostles.
    Interesting period of history and a very interesting character. Not sure though if the communist undertones are justified. Co-operative farming and co-operative communities had already existed for a very long time and were nothing really new.

    The reintroduction of the collective system by Conselheiro differed only from the accepted and then developed but failing model in Brazil. But it also seemed rooted in the same peasent concepts that preceeded it. Replace an absentee landlord with an idiological principle (pre-communist), and the transformation is complete, without having to invoke Marx once.

    Conselheiros adherance though to monarchist loyalties and the linkage between that and religon, to imbue the former with a 'godly mandate', seems again to hark back to the medieval collective ideal. That collective system or accepted idea and practice of it, with the persense of a landlord figure, was still common particularly in the Autro-Hungarian empire up until the early 20th century.

    But take the German model enforced by the Hohenzollern Monacrchy; put Conselheiro in the role of Elector or Burgermeister and the virtical monarchistic power structure pretty much matches. Peasent collective - Burgermseister/Elector - Emporer.
    Last edited by Thac0man; 14th October 2010 at 06:30 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by StormWarning View Post
    After reading the impressive Llosa novel on the subject 'War to End All Wars', I couldn't get Osama Bin Laden out of my mind when trying to picture this mixed up man and the suicide cult that emerged.
    Cael you forgot to mention his rather quaint devotion to the Brazilian Monarchy. If an unreformed Conselheiro was still around he'd probably have considered Lula the Devil incarnate.
    "The War at the End of the World" is an excellent nuanced novel. "The Feast of the Goat" is still my favourite though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cael View Post
    .
    Today, the ruling class claim that such a Utopia is impossible. They say that human beings are naturally greedy and egotistical and could never live in peace and comradeship. As the people of Canudos showed in the 19th century, and the Zapatistas show today, the ruling class are liars
    You need help.

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    Cael, if you object to the rightist tendencies of Vargas Llosa, then can I suggest you try to read a book called "Rebellion in the Drylands", can't remember the authors name offhand but he was an eminante Brazilian journalist in the late 1800/ early 1900s.

    Also, the whole subject of the agricultural underclass in old coastal rural areas (before the population and development of the Amazon region) is examined in a travelogue called "A Death in Brazil" by Peter Robb. Very good read.

    C

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