The night the French Revolution died

Dora Longo Bahia, Liberdade (project for Avenida Paulista II), 2020 Acrylic, water-based pen and watercolor on paper 29.7 x 21 cm
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By MARTIN MARTINELLI*

Preface to the book by Guadi Calvo

Guadi Calvo is a prolific journalist and author, translated into more than ten languages, whose interests add varied nuances to his works.

We could say that he uses a color palette with a wide range of tones and inserts them into his worldview. With a deep interest in cinema and photography, and the diverse latitudes of the world, he condenses and connects themes with a level of detail, helping the reader to cross the borders of skillful hegemonic narratives. The reader is faced with a political, geopolitical, cultural, religious and historical framework, from a journalistic point of view and beyond.

Although the title of the book is about the French Revolution, it is to state that it is dead. The intention seems to be to bring to light less well-known global cases than this, such as the Algerian Revolution and its National Liberation Front. And so, in the city of Light, an obscure, or rather fateful, racist and violent fact is revealed, which it tried to hide for decades. This is the intention of the book, to establish a dialogue with different environments and populations directly affected by the Euro-American expansion in the world. That they have something to say and that the writer synthesizes, being and becoming part of them.

In his new book, Guadi Calvo takes twenty photos of the world's most important painting. An exhaustive work that addresses a series of themes and thus shows a common thread, which seems not to be perceived at first glance. However, with accessible and bearable journalistic prose, he introduces perspectives from remote places in some cases, but which have been on the mainstream news pages at different times.

The titles of his articles have stylistic appeal and denote an artistic selection. Dismantle the entire journalistic apparatus whose intention is to generate fog and confusion. It has the ability to give literary images to the reader, and even to spread a taste for the themes in which it guides and immerses them.

This writing demonstrates historical and spatial depth by analyzing current cases. It displays the terrible consequences of wars and violence throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, and it does so encompassing a kind of multispatiality, a Aleph if we refer to one of the writers cited in your manuscript.

Passion for writing and transmitting, telling, reporting journalistic facts and above all, a detailed approach to different human realities. It recognizes the use of journalism as a weapon of war and propaganda, and that is why it keeps its point of view as far from prejudice as possible regarding these phenomena.

For example, this journalist evokes the Vietnam Syndrome as a gigantic shadow that affects the new invasions undertaken by the North American power. And he restores the leadership role to Ho Chi Min's men in this great heroic and historic feat. Thus he claims, in that photograph of the war and in other passages, the first victim of the war as truth, and manages to contradict this usual logic.

With subtle irony, he takes jabs at the dominant narratives of the Anglosphere, demystifying their sugar-coated versions of history. It shows the fragile mask of the “largest democracy in the world” used as a cover for human rights violations of all kinds.

It crosses Afghanistan as a strategic place par excellence where, between its mountain ranges and its resilient inhabitants, empires of all types perished. And it starts from a temporal depth, and reconstitutes all the actors involved in the conflict that ended up helping to implode the Soviet Union, as well as later expelling the greatest contemporary military power.

It crosses landscapes from Nigeria to India, passing through Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and laterally through the most famous European capitals and the impact of their colonialist and imperialist impact, in the face of the most varied forms of resistance. Your book brings an incredible exposition of geographies, characters and peoples, a kind of One thousand and one nights of recent history. With two characteristics, the history of having previously focused on Our America or Latin America, and the unveiling and summarizing great stories of ways of life, generally hidden, distorted by the mainstream media.

Due to the circumstances explained and described, it refers to hundreds of country names, perhaps if we count, it refers to almost all those located in Afro-Eurasia. From Argentina, his gaze covers regions of the world and specific locations with a great level of detail and precision in the names and breadth of the subjects photographed. This invites the reader to connect them as the author does.

It invites you to travel the streets and passages of distant yet close places. From interacting in repressions and invasions of passers-by and entire cities. His text helps to understand and know, but above all to know how to position yourself in the face of currents of information that often obscure rather than transmit reality.

Its interest lies in demonstrating how the powers of fact and the powers of the day lie and hide, and how journalism is used in this attempt at cognitive control and the battle of ideas or culture. From the tricks of the Safari Club, an organization of “democracies” created to stop the “advances” of communism, nationalist and revolutionary movements during the turbulent middle of the 20th century. Until the “Asia Minor Agreement”, known as “Sykes-Picot” of 1916, that is, the Anglo-French pact for the division of the Middle East, extendable with differences to large parts of Africa, Asia and in another period to Latin America. In this historic essay, a phrase resonates: “Countries created artificially, without historical foundations…”.

The chronicle of their stories, wars, armed clashes or unrestrained torture, unmasks American pseudo-democracy, in their words, in the case of prisons in Iraq, such as Abu Ghraib where prisoners were photographed by marines in the most humiliating situations.

The history of these forms of torture serves to unmask and publicize shocking stories that reveal the actions of a force as oppressive as it is expansive, as the US Army is and has been. It thus confirms the forms of “terrorism” and torture, in the euphemism “enhanced interrogation techniques” that could be called “multiple forms of dehumanization and ill-treatment at the worst human levels”, used in the supposed “War on Terror”. A smaller copy of the Nazi death factories.

Also in the chapters on Saudi Arabia or Nigeria in particular, he again delves into topics that overlap or are less known to the general public. It does the same with India, “Baluchistan” in Pakistan or the Taliban. Thus, it once again shows an analytical capacity and a display of information that completes the “big picture” or big picture of world reality, without which information is deafening, or rather, difficult to organize and, therefore, to analyze.

There he deals with poverty and marginality, generated in these countries, from the great powers and global geopolitics, and the visual framework that this produces, observed as a whole. As an example of such a detailed mosaic: India's current strength, contrasted with the enormous inequality within it and in a particular area.

Faced with the sowing and reaping of wars by the Military-Industrial Complex of the United States and its allies, the author invites you to take a tour of places in the world that he has been interested in for years, and that, due to the changes and tensions in the current scenario, sooner or later they will be on the front pages. Even so, it refers to names, places, political parties and organizations little known by the form of global information that has functioned until today, ignoring 88% of humanity and exaggerating the actions of the minority elite of the Euro-American world.

Margins are a matter of crucial consideration for the author. From poverty in India, to the problems of wars, dictatorships, terrorism and epidemics experienced by the countries of the Horn of Africa: Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Djibouti, together with Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula. Insert themes and regions with surgical precision. He begins the chapters with a descriptive, geographic, and historical overview of each chosen location he writes about.

Another of the book's objectives appears, although hidden on the page, when talking about Balochistan in Pakistan: “it makes it essential to understand and articulate not only the general features of regional policies, particularly those of India and Iran, but it is also essential in the balance of the three great powers countries, China, Russia and the United States, together with their smaller partners in the European Union (EU).”

When talking about Balochistan, a region that is part of Iran and Pakistan, he completes regions and thus systematizes the information and highlights the intrinsic relevance along with the multifaceted conditions of the region. He explains here about Gwadar Port, China’s “New Silk Roads” and its “String of Pearls”.

This is why we see a path from the initial investigations of Afghanistan and Iraq (even others that do not appear in this book about many other countries) to the most recent, in part due to global power struggles. But, above all, how this is reflected in the societies most affected by these transformations. Poverty and inequality are also a constant in the book, he names capitalism all the time without naming it.

The book investigates Saudi Arabia, madrasas (religious training and social assistance schools) and Pakistan, and returns to Afghanistan. So much so that, returning to one of its subtitles “Wars, wars and more wars until the end”, it reveals in the Arab rebellions a closure of the cycle, but with continuities. The range of regions covered in this book/trip takes us back to One thousand and one nights, therefore contradicting the usual homogeneous views of these territories.

Thus, this writing articulates vast regions of the world that have become increasingly interconnected in recent centuries. And in a sense, it introduces the reader to start questioning other living conditions and other regions that are largely forgotten, intentionally by the mainstream media. That is why they are necessary to understand geopolitical tensions and that the world does not begin and end with what we know about it.

The question of national identities and current nation-states also collides in many places with different views of the world, but it also explains large unresolved aspects that still cause or allow the survival of instability. To delve into a work full of stimuli and realities, contemporary and historical, this book contains reflections and notes, largely from the south, seen and told from that part of the world.

We could say that the book goes from 2001 to the present day, but it would be greatly abbreviated due to the references it covers. The same happens with the cities and places visited. This trip invites you to read and learn more, and follow Guadi Calvo's usual writings.

*Martín Martinelli Professor at the Department of Social Sciences at the Universidad Nacional de Luján (Argentina).

Reference


Guadi Calvo. The night that killed the French Revolution: Writings on hypocresy.


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