The promotion of the concept of privilege is spreading like wildfire. A class is being taught at Harvard, and everybody is talking about the privilege of being of a preferred group. Preferred by whom, is the issue.
The main thrust concerns privilege afforded within our society based on being white. If one is white and male one is considered even more privileged. Privilege manifests as being the preferred employee, the preferred representative, and the preferred voice. Greater wealth, not being discriminated against, not being profiled, and not having the law applied as stringently are just some of the benefits or advantages of being privileged.
Today, some degree of privilege is ascribed to almost every category. Given the concept of intersectionality, the overlapping of different social dimensions, one can be Black and poor, but still privileged because one is not gay or dark skinned. Today’s concept of privilege is a powerful construct, but powerful toward what end is the gnawing question.
The problem with the concept of privilege, as it is bandied about today, is not just that it is devoid of all class content. The problem is that today’s concept of privilege, instead of inspiring struggle against social ills, instigates a subtle affinity for the status quo and an insidious resentment toward those who are classified in one way or another as non-privileged. But, the Marxist concept of privilege is different.
Marx discussed bourgeois privilege as the power over the cultural, political, social, and economic realms afforded the ruling classes because of their ownership of society’s productive means. Lenin discussed the privilege of the ruling class of the oppressor nation and the elevation and domination of their language, culture, and nationality over all others. Critical to the point is Marx and Lenin’s call for the working class to recognize that the privilege of the ruling class is not shared by the working class, even if they are of the same race and nationality. Hence, the objective of Marx and Lenin was to explain that working class forces have an interest in struggling against bourgeois racist gendered privilege. Marx’s discussion of bourgeois privilege isolates them off from the rest of us. Lenin’s discussion of the privilege of the oppressor nation’s ruling class segregates them off from the rest of us.
Marx and Lenin were attempting to clear the path of struggle, identifying which side with which we should associate if we were not really owners of wealth producing property. In other words, if you are not part of the .01 percent, don’t be fooled into thinking and behaving as if you are.
To make a long story short, I would argue the concept of privilege as used today contributes to a lack of clarity and muddies the water. Anything that muddies the water is perfectly fine with the .01 percent.
To simply dismiss the discussion of privilege based on old arguments is not enough today. I use to make the argument that what passes as privilege for white workers is actually the absence of discrimination. Today, we are compelled to modify that formulation somewhat. It is not that discrimination is absent for white workers, but that discrimination is greater for non-white workers. Today especially, it needs to be exposed how white workers are in fact discriminated against culturally, socially, politically, and economically. Working class culture is debased, the working class style of life is shamed, few if any working class representatives hold political office, and economically, not only are white workers exploited, but in today’s economy the quality of life of white workers, as is true for all of us, has significantly declined.
The fact there still is a wealth and wage gap between white and black is less so true if one segregates out white workers, from the whole of white people, in comparison to Black people. The point is, there is more in common between white workers and the oppressed than there is between white workers and the ruling class, and it is in our collective interest to unmask the commonality while still recognizing disparities and elevating the importance of the fight for equity within the overall struggle against inequality, including class inequality. Oppression based on being non-white is real, and the struggle is to expose this form of inequality and win white workers in the first place to the fight for equality because they too are unequal.
Marxist consciousness seeks to disassociate not from the oppressed and exaggerate commonality with the oppressor. Marxist consciousness, because of the contribution of Lenin, seeks to unite workers of the oppressor race and nationality with all of the oppressed based on common interest against the oppressor. Even more, the point is to cultivate common struggle and not the lethargy of what ultimately is fictitious social status. Nothing about white workers is appreciated in this culture unless white workers completely prostrate themselves in service to the ruling circles. In service to the ruling circles, they are allowed, even encouraged, to believe and behave as if they are one of them instead of one of us.
The whole point of the ruling class, the .01%, is to win allies to itself and sow confusion and disunity among the masses. The concept of privilege as used today puts us in touch with a preferred status if one is so anointed.
The truth is the greatest privilege we have, as working class people, is to allow through a lack of consciousness the illusion, the appearance, of privilege to instigate our participation in our own oppression.
Privilege, as put forward today, is a powerful illusory camouflage, with material aspects, that turns those so labeled toward an association with the status quo. The concept is powerful because it has elements of truth. In an effort to nurture equality in meetings one can hear during the call to order the uttering of the expression, “leave your privilege at the door”.
Collectivity is a different response to the same concern. Collectivity is a fundamental organizational principle geared toward the complete involvement of the racially oppressed, women, youth, and workers in meetings, actions, and on all levels of leadership on the basis of full equality. Collectivity does not just happen; collectivity is consciously cultivated and intentionally struggled for and implemented.
A frontal attack on today’s concept of privilege is not my objective here. Many use and elaborate the concept in the attempt to contribute to an analysis of our society. But, our goal as Marxists is not just to produce an analysis of our society. Our goal is to construct an analysis that can contribute to the organization and mobilization of working class forces in the first place, along with all of the oppressed (women and youth included), who can change our society. Rather than a caustic attack on those who use the concept of privilege, we should want to wage a struggle to win them to a deeper analysis, a more Marxist analysis.
Dee Myles is chair of the Education Commission of the Communist Party USA and a member of its African American Equality Commission.
Republished from CPUSA with the following statement about the 2014 Convention Discussion:
The views and opinions expressed in the Convention Discussion are those of the author alone. The Communist Party is publishing these views as a service to encourage discussion and debate. Those views do not necessarily reflect the views of the Communist Party, its leading bodies or staff members. The CPUSA Constitution, Program, and all its existing policies remain in effect during the Convention discussion period and during the Convention.
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega (Right) and Nicaraguan Vice-President Rosario Murillo (Left). File photo.
Address by President Comandante Daniel Ortega during the celebration of the 43rd Anniversary of the Air Force of the Army of Nicaragua:
Nicaraguan brothers, families of this nation of Dario and Sandino, brothers, compañeros of the Nicaraguan Air Force, which is turning 43 today, an Air Force which, along with the Army, was born with the Revolution. That is why, 43 years ago, the Sandinista People’s Army was born and the Sandinista Air Force was born.
Then, with the passage of time, changes of government, a consensus was reached in the National Assembly so that both the Sandinista Popular Army and the Sandinista National Police were to be called the Nicaraguan Army and the Nicaraguan Police.
However, it is important to underline the origins of the Air Force that was born in the heat of the struggle for self-determination, for independence, for the sovereignty of Nicaragua. It was those flags that flew over the birth of the Nicaraguan Army and the Nicaraguan Air Force, and there was present and is present, the thought, the example of our General Sandino, present throughout Nicaragua, and of course present in the Nicaraguan Air Force…
Today is a day when we are honored to be commemorating the 43rd anniversary of the Air Force, and with it the 43rd anniversary of our army, the Nicaraguan Army, the People’s Army.
How much joy it gives us when we listen to the reports of the head of the army, General Avilés, summarizing the many tasks of the Air Force and the relations the Air Force maintains in the region. And we clearly see it is an Air Force with a role of service for peace, of service for integration.
Yes, because integration is something indispensable and something inescapable for our nations, and so the Army practices it, the Air Force practices it. Beyond political or ideological differences, there is a sense of responsibility that, united, fighting for the well being of our peoples, we do much more than we could do each on our own.
These are times that call for integration. Today more than ever they call for integration in Central America, here in Latin America and the Caribbean, and in that integration process, along the way, even before the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, there was ALBA.
The ALBA dawn was like a bridge that appeared, inspired by our Brother Comandante Hugo Chávez, by Fidel, the bridge that opens up with a spirit of solidarity, a spirit of developing collaboration, cooperation, taking into account the asymmetries between our countries.
At no time was ALBA considered as simply a trade project, but rather as a project full of humanism, full of solidarity, full of love, and naturally that did not go down well with imperialism. Since ALBA brings benefits to the most impoverished peoples of this region, with no conditions, both to Central America and to the sisters and brothers of the Caribbean, many benefit from it.
Then the empire trying to destroy ALBA, and in doing so, to affect the poorest people of our region; because the empire has not been able to provide the levels of unconditional cooperation ALBA has provided, made possible by the Bolivarian Revolution of our peoples, despite the empire being a thousand times more powerful in economic terms, in financial terms, than Venezuela [or] Cuba. And all of this undoubtedly has contributed, despite the blows that the empire has given against ALBA, to the benefits brought by ALBA, the fruits.
And here we cannot forget, we can never forget, that in 2006, when there was a third neoliberal government ruling in our country under the tutelage of the United States government, [that] illiteracy, poverty, [and] hunger had multiplied, education and health had been privatized, and the works that we had been developing since the triumph of the Revolution had been abandoned. They were simply governments that thought only about strengthening, enriching… a minority.
They also did not care about the country, they committed acts they did not understand, through their ambition they did not realize that they were putting the knife into themselves, when the energy services in our country began to disappear. Yes, it is incredible, but the energy services were disappearing because they were wanted to get wealthy at any cost, they neither sought to, nor did they, invest in the energy sector. And already by 2006, with the third neoliberal government in Nicaragua, we had blackouts every day, energy plants were paralyzed, economic activity affected… Everyone! In other words, if there is no energy, a country simply goes under.
And we were aware… that we were fighting for the government in the election battle of the year 2006. That was a terrible challenge, a huge challenge, because the country was without electrical power, and we were looking for how to get closer to people or governments that could contribute in that sector with Nicaragua, on the basis of which we hoped… to win those elections and get into government for the year 2007.
So, as a result of the relationship that had begun with President Chávez, we went on to propose some programs to bring energy to at least some sectors, such as municipalities, [by] twinning municipalities, looking for how to bring energy projects to the municipalities. And before we triumphed in the elections, the first agreement with Venezuela was already signed. We signed it in Caracas with Comandante Chávez. He was a light in the darkness at the time.
Well, we won the elections, we came into government, and we found that the problem was present there. It’s true, a first step had been taken in that agreement with Venezuela within the framework of Petrocaribe, it was the generous attitude of Venezuela to supply fuel for energy under very fair, favorable conditions.
No country, no capitalist government in the world offered us that kind of cooperation, not to their neighboring countries, nor to the African peoples who had been subjected and enslaved by them. And here in Latin America it was the same: there was no government, no great power—the United States with all its power was not willing to provide cooperation, to share bread. It was not willing to love others, the United States cared little about the tragedy our peoples were experiencing in Latin America and the Caribbean.
And we won the elections, and President Chávez came for the inauguration, and right there we signed up to ALBA and Petrocaribe. I remember speaking with him and saying “the big problem we have here is that there is no power, no power plants.” There was no investment in generating plants, and the power plants that existed were already outdated, and that was the big problem that we mentioned.
What was the answer he gave us? Immediately came some generating plants that had actually been contracted for Venezuela, part of a process in which Cuba and Venezuela were combining efforts to bring generating plants for Venezuela and for Cuba.
And Chávez told me, like a good brother and a good Christian, “we can solve this right now, we have plants going to Venezuela, we have them there in Cuba, we are going to bring them now to Nicaragua so you can count on having the energy to be able to guarantee the basic, minimum activities of this people.”
And so, from word to action, and it was incredible how the power plants arrived, and how the Nicaraguan people breathed a sigh of relief, and how the pro-imperialist capitalists who did not worry about investing in power plants breathed a sigh of relief after having been in government for 17 years, in power. And of course the United States was not willing to provide this cooperation to this people, only a revolution with a truly generous soul, a revolution like the Bolivarian Revolution, could behave in that way.
At that time, he didn’t ask us for money or guarantees, or for us to sign a contract to guarantee that the plants will be paid for later… No, they were just brought here! And the plants came, and that is what has allowed Nicaragua to make its way as it has been doing, so that Nicaragua could grow as it had been growing, totally in peace, such that Nicaragua achieved a great alliance between workers, people, [and] entrepreneurs.
Because it was possible to have that basic instrument enabling a country to get going, and that gave us the strength to be able to make that great alliance, to develop the country, to combat poverty, to strengthen the institutions of the Nicaraguan state, including the Army, the Police, the Air Force, the Navy, counting of course on the cooperation of other brotherly peoples already in those areas.
There has always been invaluable cooperation ever since the triumph of the Revolution, cooperation in all fields that we added to another Revolution: the October Revolution, the first revolution that occurred in the world and, in the midst of all the antagonisms, in the midst of the harassment, in the middle of the blockade, because with all the counter-revolution that had thrown itself against the October Revolution, we found ourselves together with the Soviet Union, led by Russia.
There a fraternal relationship was established, with no conditions, including cooperation so as to be able to have the basic tools for the Army, and thus too for the Air Force, for all the Armed Forces, for the various different forces of our Army, to have means for defense. They were not means to attack anyone, they were not means to attack any other country, it was simply to guarantee the defense of our country, which was then threatened again by the United States government.
There have been two extraordinary moments in our history: one being the invaluable cooperation of the Russian people, then part of the Soviet Union, and now in this new stage we have had the invaluable cooperation of the Revolutionary Bolivarian Republic led by Comandante Hugo Chávez. And now too, in this new stage, as one might expect, we have linked up again with the Russian Federation, we have linked up again, and it was normal that we should link up with a sense of cooperation, a sense of friendship.
When has the United States ever donated wheat? No, they sell it on the market. The brothers and sisters of the Russian Federation have donated wheat to this people.
Here, in those 17 years of neoliberal governments, the public transport vehicle fleet was never renewed and was totally destroyed. There too, the Russian Federation gave us cooperation, sharing with Mexico also in cooperation, for which we are ever grateful to the people and government of Mexico, and thus we reactivated with the Russian Federation, that earlier relationship, historic, respectful, fraternal, and naturally fighting both of us for peace in the world, fighting for the defense of the sovereignty of peoples, fighting for the rights of peoples, of nations.
And today, beloved sister and brother Nicaraguans, beloved families, in a world that goes from one explosion to another as we have seen, and as I said on one occasion, this has to do with birth of a new order being born into the world, one that is burying imperialism, burying the colonialists, and opening up a democracy of nations, a multipolar world that is becoming clearer in many ways.
We see initiatives springing up in different spaces, and we see another side to US imperialism, trying to maintain its hegemony at all costs, even at the risk of damaging its own economy; but in their arrogant attitude they need to feel they can still maintain their hegemony, that they can and must defend their hegemony, when what they are doing is sinking themselves, and they are going under, such that they are causing great harm to the United States’ people.
And with all the sanctions that have been imposed on the Russian Federation, which is waging a just war against fascism, against the Nazism installed as a result of the coup in Ukraine, they are destroying the European economy, and NATO too, as is clear with each aggressive action, with all the multiple decisions that have been taken in attempting to destroy the Russian Federation.
They also aim to try to destroy the People’s Republic of China, because they see those two countries as the two great powers that are already leaving them behind, in terms of development, in terms of science, in terms of technology. And so they have moved against the Russian Federation, and thus Russia is fighting gain the battle against fascism. Fascism did not disappear with the fall of the Reichstag, where the first to arrive were the soldiers of the Red Army who hoisted their flag there where the command of the tyrant Hitler had been.
Fascism left behind its roots and is entrenched in some European countries, and it is entrenched in American society, and it is entrenched there in Ukraine, yes, a fascist government. And even though there is a situation affecting the richest countries, affecting all of humanity, affecting the world economy, the American empire does not care, thinking that its strength is so great that it will manage to get ahead by overrunning and destroying the world.
And it is clear to all who can see in the insane way the US is launching aggression against the People’s Republic of China. What harm has the People’s Republic of China done to the United States? What harm has the People’s Republic of China done to the peoples of the world? What harm has the People’s Republic of China done to the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, of Africa, of Asia?
The self-same ideologues of imperialism state that what worries them is that they see the People’s Republic of China bringing benefits to these peoples and they feel that there they are losing the power to keep these peoples enslaved. They say it very clearly, namely they are upset, outraged, because the People’s Republic of China is making available billions in Africa, in Asia, in Latin America.
These are investments for the development of our peoples. Ah, they see that as bad for them, but why can’t they do the same? Why can’t they bring those investments? Why have they never brought investment with the same conditions that the People’s Republic of China is making available?
Instead, in a real act of madness, they launch themselves against the People’s Republic of China, simply because it is a power that is growing, without harming anyone, and the US mounts a challenge, a provocation, earlier today, when we saw a high official of the US State, the government of the United States, in an arrogant attitude of invasion… And it is an act of invasion!
That’s in the blood of the Yankee empire, the practice of invasion, and they announce, here I come! Here I come! They feel they have the right to invade a territory even knowing very well, because they were party to the agreements, party to the resolutions that were taken at the United Nations when they agreed on the existence of one China.
But they disagreed fundamentally, and the proof is that now we see them launching a provocation, and it is a provocation, because a power like the United States is invading, entering another country with its official plane, one of the highest ranking officials of the United States is entering, just because she decided to do so and government of the United States is endorsing that and applauding, since of course she is part of the government, that she set out in her plane, sure that the People’s Republic of China was not going to do what the United States does, launching a drone at them to destroy the plane. Because the US is accustomed to launching drones everywhere, killing people.
A drone was launched at our brother Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela during an event where all the ministers, officials, Army commanders who were with Nicolás presiding over the event, were going to get blown up. And that was the US.
And now they are launching drones again in Afghanistan and boasting that they sent a drone, killing a leader that they describe as a terrorist. After they left, fleeing Afghanistan, after they signed agreements right there that this practice was going to disappear, now they come along as if they need more blood now, so they launched the drone and the cowboy appears bragging about it.
And as I was telling you, they launched the plane knowing very well that the brothers and sisters of the People’s Republic of China are not terrorists and were not going to shoot down that plane or send a drone against it. An act of arrogance, of trying to reaffirm that they are the dominant power, and remain the dominant power setting out to destroy the Russian Federation when in fact they are destroying the countries of the European Union, destroying the economy, destroying trade and they are destroying the possibility even of living, because Winter comes and they may well have no heat. In other words, the situation exposes them to death.
And this step they have taken today, which of course we have condemned, is an act one can only describe as insane, of those who feel that their empire is collapsing; they are like the insane actions of Hitler, by people feel that they’re still an Empire, and so they look for ways to strengthen their positions lunging to challenge the People’s Republic of China, to invade, and it is an invasion, what occurred today, that is an invasion, it is an offense, a crime, both an offense and a crime, it is an invasion.
We are sure, indeed, that the strength, the age-old intelligence, of the Chinese People, and the experience there under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, prevails there, and we are sure that they will know how to give the right answer, one that will strengthen the People’s Republic of China even more and will weaken even more the hegemony that the US government is trying to maintain at all costs.
And here Nicaragua is a small nation, but they are always fighting with Nicaragua with their habitual arrogance, on the one hand they send us messages, though they are not interested in opening up communication, for several months now. But since we know them very well, which is why I keep recalling Sandino’s story, one of dialogue, peace, communication, for what? So they could murder him. So we have preferred to keep our distance from the messages that have been sent to us.
And indeed they sent a messenger who was here in Nicaragua, they did not do it officially, but a State Department functionary was here, who now wanted a meeting, and he was told that he would have to come through the official channels, it would have to be a communication via our Ambassador there in Washington and of course through the US Embassy here, so as to be able to receive an emissary but not in the way he came, since he came clandestinely.
Then they said they are going to appoint a new Ambassador, and they sent the proposal for who would be the new Ambassador… well, based on what one could read in the profile of the candidate to be Ambassador, we said, let’s give him the agrément.
So they went then to Congress with the agrément, because without that they could not take the proposal to Congress, but we had given the agrément for the candidate to be an ambassador in Nicaragua to present to Congress, and, well he started talking as if he was William Walker, as if he was going to be the governor of Nicaragua, coming here to put an end to the government of Nicaragua. Yes, speaking calmly as you like to the US Congress!
So then we immediately informed them we were withdrawing the agrément, because it is basic, we already know that any Yankee ambassador comes here with conspiratorial purposes, they are always conspiring, but really, as the song says, “outside, outside let them say what they like, but here on Nicaraguan soil, our flag is respected.”
These issues are basic, they are in the rules of the Vienna Accords as every ambassador knows, and however much they represent a government that wants to destroy the very government with which they are establishing communication, it behooves any ambassador to at least take care not to send aggressive, disrespectful messages to that country.
Of course, they conspire yes, in the embassies they conspire, they meet, they do what they do there, we know that perfectly well, but well, at least the principle is respected, but here was someone not yet come to the country and he has already started raving. Well, let him stay outside, outside, shouting whatever he wants, but here on Nicaraguan soil our flag is respected…Yes, our flag is respected!
Now, I don’t know to what extent, I can’t confirm the information, but they were reporting on Voice of America that they had interviewed a State Department official who said they are going to keep this fellow as ambassador. Are they going to want to put him in a little plane like they the one they sent to Taiwan? How far will the arrogance, the madness of these people go?
They have to learn respect, the United States has to learn to respect all the peoples of the world, if they want to be respected themselves; meanwhile, the struggle will continue.
And as I said, in the midst of all these explosions of violence that are present everywhere on our planet, the economic stress, the tensions around fuel, tensions around food, that is, all the major symptoms of stress in the world in these times, in the midst of all this, taking shape, a new world is being born and this new world is going to be a democratic world, where there will be respect between nations, where there will be cooperation between the nations, where there will be no threats among nations. I am certain, quite sure, that this world is being built, it is already being forged, it is being forged now, and that this world is going to bring peace, stability, to humanity.
Beloved brothers and sisters, beloved compañeros and compañeras, let us continue with our efforts, with the tasks that you carry out every day, contributing to the forging of this new world. Our grain of sand, yes, we offer it from Nicaragua, contributing to the forging of this new world.
Long live the 43rd Anniversary
of the Nicaraguan Air Force!
Long live the 43rd Anniversary
of the Nicaraguan Army!
And Long live blessed Nicaragua,
Remarks by Rosario Murillo, vice president of Nicaragua, after the celebration of the 43rd Anniversary of the Nicaraguan Air Force:
A very good evening, compañeras, compañeros, and a very good evening, beloved families of Nicaragua. An embrace to the households, the homes, the communities, the neighborhoods, where we know that you have been following this important and historic act. An embrace because we are together always, looking forward and making our future, the one we all deserve.
Today marks 43 Years of our heroic brilliant Air Force, part now of the Army of Nicaragua, an Army that is the people themselves in uniform, the Air Force of the people of Nicaragua. And it is true that when we say that the Air Force is a demand of our people, we know it, we feel it, we live it, especially in difficult times when we face climatic events, what we call natural disasters, when we work hard so that valuable Nicaraguan lives are not taken from us.
Comandante Daniel has taken us on a journey through these historic times, emphasizing in these historic times everything it takes for the new world to be born, and emphasizing the courage of those peoples who fight and who give of themselves, because we do fight and we do give of ourselves, so that this new world is born.
And as he said, Nicaragua, a small country but full of patriotism and conscious of the importance of defending sovereignty, national dignity, plays its part. That is why we are quick and eloquent in pronouncing our opposition in the face of aggression, interventions, invasions, as our Comandante Daniel said, because we have also suffered them, and when I say suffered, I mean faced, fought and defeated them, because here the imperialists of the Earth have always been defeated.
A small country, but great in spirit, great in courage, in honor, in honor, glory and victories! That is our historical memory and it has only been increasing, because, believe me, with every aggression of the imperialists out to destroy the world when the peoples do not allow it, that strengthens our souls every day, strengthens us because we know we must continue fighting… striving for peace!
We have fought and defended peace at all times, and we have always won. And, given a world that has fallen, destroyed by them, one where the very same imperialists of the Earth have buried their daggers, of avarice, greed, selfishness and eagerness to dominate, without even realizing it, because they really are insane, not even realizing how all of that is blowing back, how all of that is going against them, and how that is all very clearly seen in the everyday life of millions of poor people in the United States and in Europe, created by their system that devours human beings, destroys human beings.
Here we live a simple life, here we are used to hearing one thing said one day and something different another day, but here we are also well aware of the firmness, fierceness, love, passion, enthusiasm that we are familiar with and have ourselves.
How much love, how much passion, how much enthusiasm for life was bequeathed to us by the prince of peace, of love. Christ Jesus taught us to be great in love, courageous, and to defeat hatred, the hatred we still see today appear from time to time. And the most incredible thing, hate coming from mouths of people who are supposed to spread messages of love, of Christianity, of solidarity.
We can well believe it, because we have suffered, suffered and fought also those who have been vociferous, believing themselves to be “pastors”, against our people and families, and the right of families to live peacefully, working, prospering and achieving wellbeing.
That hatred still appears, but we are strong and powerful, because we are full of love, and with love we overcome hatred. Because love is stronger, love throughout our history, love for Nicaragua, love for the nation, love, respect for our sense of national dignity is what prevails and has prevailed. And the demons, those who are full of hatred, the sour, the acidic, the bitter, they fall by the wayside, they disappear, because the wind lifts them away, they are already part of what the wind carries away, and did carry away.
Here we are in a blessed Nicaragua, full of patriotism, full of idealism, full of values, always free, always one family, always aware that our strength is our faith, our spirit, and all we have inherited from great love. The love that is stronger than hate, the love that builds, that does not destroy.
So today, on the 43rd anniversary of the people’s Air Force of the Army of Nicaragua, we feel proud, content, pleased to be celebrating together with the strength of victories, and to be celebrating together with the vision of the future that characterizes us. We do not look back, but seek to build, and we look forward to continue building what we are: a brave people, a people of honor, glory and victories!
An embrace to all the compañeros and compañeras of the Air Force, of the Nicaraguan Army, an embrace to all those of the Naval Force that soon we will also be celebrating, and to the Army in general… the army of our people, an army that defends our national sovereignty as we all defend it, because we love our blessed and always free Nicaragua! And that phrase of Sandino that we say every day, “always further on”, illuminates us like the sun that never sets!
An embrace for all, compañeros and compañeras. Let us head onwards!
This article was republished from Orinoco tribune.
Chile’s Lithium Provides Profit to the Billionaires But Exhausts the Land and the People. By: Vijay Prashad & Taroa Zúñiga SilvaRead Now
The Atacama salt flat in northern Chile, which stretches 1,200 square miles, is the largest source of lithium in the world. We are standing on a bluff, looking over la gran fosa, the great pit that sits at the southern end of the flat, which is shielded from public view. It is where the major Chilean corporations have set up shop to extract lithium and export it—largely unprocessed—into the global market. “Do you know whose son-in-law is the lithium king of Chile?” asks Loreto, who took us to the salt flat to view these white sands from a vantage point. His response is not so shocking; it is Julio Ponce Lerou, who is the largest stakeholder in the lithium mining company Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile (SQM) and the former son-in-law of the late military dictator Augusto Pinochet (who ruled Chile from 1973 to 1990).
SQM and Albemarle, the two major Chilean mining companies, dominate the Atacama salt flat. It is impossible to get a permit to visit the southern end of the flats, where the large corporations have set up their operations. The companies extract the lithium by pumping brine from beneath the salt flat and then letting it evaporate for months before carrying out the extraction. “SQM steals our water to extract lithium,” said the former president of the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Atacameño, Ana Ramos, in 2018, according to Deutsche Welle. The concentrate left behind after evaporation is turned into lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide, which are then exported, and form key raw materials used in the production of lithium-ion batteries. About a third of the world’s lithium comes from Chile. According to Goldman Sachs, “lithium is the new gasoline.”
What Necessity Does
Ownership over the salt flat is contested among the state, Chile’s Indigenous communities, and private entities. But, as one member of the Lickanantay community—the Indigenous people who call the Atacama salt flat their home—told us, most of the owners of the land do not live in the area any longer. Juan, who raises horses and whose family were herders, tells us that people “live off the rents from the land. They do not care what happens to the area.” However, Juan knows that these rents are minuscule. “What they pay us as they mine our land is practically a tip,” he says. “It is nothing compared to what they earn. But it is still a lot of money.” For most Lickanantay people, Juan says, “lithium is not an issue because although it is known to damage the environment, it is providing [us with] money.” “Necessity drives people to do a lot of things,” he adds.
The negative environmental impacts of mining lithium have been widely studied by scientists and observed by tourist guides in Chile. Angelo, a guide, tells us that he worries about the water supplies getting polluted due to mining activities and the impact it has on the Atacama Desert animals, including the pink flamingos. “Every once in a while, we see a dead pink flamingo,” he says. Cristina Inés Dorador, who participated in writing Chile’s new proposed constitution, is a scientist with a PhD in natural sciences who has published about the decline of the pink flamingo population in the salt flat. However, Dorador has also said that new technologies could be used to prevent the widespread negative environmental impact. Ingrid Garcés Millas, who has a PhD in earth sciences from the University of Zaragoza and is a researcher at the University of Antofagasta, pointed out that the currently used of lithium extraction has led to the deterioration of the “ways of life of [the] Andean peoples” in an article for Le Monde Diplomatique. An example she provided was that while the underground water supply is used by the lithium industry, the “communities are supplied [with water] by cistern trucks.”
According to a report by MiningWatch Canada and the Environmental Justice Atlas, “to produce one ton of lithium in the salt flats in Atacama (Chile), 2,000 tons of water are evaporated, causing significant harm to both the availability of water and the quality of underground fresh water reserves.”
Meanwhile, there is no pressing debate in the Atacama region over the extraction of lithium. Most people seem to have accepted that lithium mining is here to stay. Among the activists, there are disagreements over how to approach the question of lithium. More radical activists believe that lithium should not be extracted, while others debate about who should benefit from the wealth generated by the mining of lithium. Still others, such as Angelo and Loreto, believe that Chile’s willingness to export the unprocessed lithium denies the country the possibility of exploring the benefits that might come from processing the metal within the country.
Before the presidential election in Chile in November 2021, we went to see Giorgio Jackson, now one of the closest advisers to Chile’s President Gabriel Boric. He told us then that Chile’s new government would look at the possibility of the nationalization of key resources, such as copper and lithium. This no longer seems to be on the government’s agenda, despite the expectation that the high prices for copper and lithium would pay for the much-needed pension reforms and the modernization of the country’s infrastructure.
The idea of nationalization was floated around the constitutional convention but did not find its way into the text of the proposed constitution, which will be put to vote on September 4. Instead, the proposed constitution builds on Article 19 of the 1980 constitution, which provides for “the right to live in an environment free from contamination.” The new constitution is expected to lay out the natural commons under which the state “has a special duty of custody, in order to ensure the rights of nature and the interest of present and future generations.”
In the waning days of the government of former President Sebastián Piñera, Chile’s Mining Ministry awarded two companies—BYD Chile SpA and Servicios y Operaciones Mineras del Norte S.A.—extraction rights for 80,000 tons of lithium each for 20 years. An appeals court in Copiapó heard a petition from the governor of Copiapó, Miguel Vargas, and from various Indigenous communities. In January 2022, the court suspended the deal; that suspension was upheld in June by the Supreme Court. This does not imply that Chile will roll back the exploitation of lithium by the major corporations, but it does suggest that a new appetite is developing against the widespread exploitation of natural resources in the country.
Until 2016, Chile produced 37 percent of the global market share of lithium, making the country the world’s largest producer of the metal. When Chile’s government increased royalty rates on the miners, several of them curtailed production and some increased their stake in Argentina (SQM, for instance, entered a joint venture with Lithium Americas Corporation to work on a project in Argentina). Chile is behind Australia in terms of lithium production in the world market presently, falling from 37 percent in 2016 to 29 percent in 2019 (with an expectation that Chile’s share will fall further to 17 percent by 2030).
Juan’s observation that “necessity drives people to do a lot of things” captures the mood among the Atacameños. The needs of the people of the region seem to only come after the needs of the large corporations. Relatives of the old dictators accumulate wealth off of the land, while the owners of the land—out of necessity—sell their land for a propina, a tip.
Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor, and journalist. He is the chief editor of LeftWord Books and the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He is a senior non-resident fellow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. He has written more than 20 books, including "The Darker Nations" and "The Poorer Nations." His latest book is "Washington Bullets," with an introduction by Evo Morales Ayma.
This article was produced by Globetrotter.
Former President of Bolivia Evo Morales. Photo: declassifieduk.org.
Evo Morales, former president of Bolivia (2006-2019), in an interview with British journalist Matt Kennard at his home in El Trópico, a small town four hours from Cochabamba in the heart of the Amazon rain forest, called for an international campaign to eliminate NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization).
According to Morales, this campaign should explain to people worldwide that “NATO is—ultimately—the United States. It is not a guarantee for humanity or for life. I do not accept—in fact, I condemn—how they can exclude Russia from the UN Human Rights Council. When the U.S. has intervened in Iraq, in Libya, in so many countries in recent years, why have they not been expelled from the Human Rights Council? Why was that never questioned?”
Morales continued: “We [in the Movimiento al Socialismo, MAS] have profound ideological differences with the politics implemented by the United States using NATO, which are based on interventionism and militarism. Between Russia and Ukraine they want to reach an agreement and [the U.S.] keeps provoking war, the U.S. military industry, which is able to live thanks to war, and they provoke wars in order to sell their weapons. That’s the other reality we live in.”
Coup against alternative economic mode
Morales is one of the most successful presidents in Latin American history who closed down a U.S. military base in Bolivia, expelled the CIA and DEA, and helped reverse half a millennium of colonial history by helping Bolivia to industrialize its economy.
In November 2019, Morales was ousted in a U.S./UK-backed coup that culminated with the army’s massacre of anti-coup protesters. Morales survived an assassination attempt only because Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, sent a plane to rescue him.
The beneficiary of the coup, Jeanine Áñez—a conservative Christian who lost the October 2020 election to Luis Arce of MAS—was sentenced to 10 years in prison in June after being convicted of terrorism and sedition.
Morales—who returned to Bolivia after Arce’s election in October 2020—believes that the coup was prompted by his move to nationalize Bolivia’s oil and gas reserves.
Morales told Matt Kennard that “I continue to be convinced that the empire, capitalism, imperialism, do not accept that there is an economic model that is better than neoliberalism. The coup was against our economic model…we showed that another Bolivia is possible.”
“All for lithium”
In 2021, the British Foreign Office released documents which showed that the British embassy in Bolivia had paid an Oxford-based company to optimize “exploitation” of Bolivia’s lithium deposits the month after Morales fled the country after being ousted in the coup.
The documents also showed the UK embassy in La Paz acted as “strategic partner” to Áñez’ coup regime and organized an international mining event in Bolivia four months after democracy was overthrown.
Bolivia possesses the world’s second largest reserves of lithium, a metal used to make batteries, which has been increasingly coveted due to the burgeoning electric-car industry.
Under the traditional imperial dynamic which had kept Bolivia poor, rich countries extract raw materials, send them to Europe to be made into products, and then sell them back to Third World countries like Bolivia as finished products at a mark-up.
With Bolivia’s lithium deposits, Morales was adamant this system was finished. Bolivia would not just extract the lithium; it would build the batteries too. He told Kennard,“We started with a laboratory, obviously with international experts that we hired. Then we moved on to a pilot plant. We invested around $20 million, and now it’s working. Every year it produces about 200 tonnes of lithium carbonate, and lithium batteries, in Potosí [the capital of the Spanish empire where the Spanish had undertaken silver mining in the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries.]”
Morales continued, “We had a plan to install 42 new [lithium] plants by 2029. It was estimated that profits would be five billion dollars. Profits! That’s when the coup came. The U.S. says China’s presence is not permitted but…having a market in China is very important. Also in Germany. The next step was with Russia, and then came the coup. Just last year, we found out that England had also participated in the coup—all for lithium.”
When Kennard told Morales that the UK Foreign office had denied that a coup took place, Morales responded that this was hard to comprehend and reflected “a totally colonial mindset. They think that some countries are the property of other nations. They think God put them there, so the world belongs to the U.S. and the UK. That’s why the rebellions and the uprisings will continue.”
With the people or the Evil Empire?
Morales has great admiration for Julian Assange whose detention, he said, “represents an escalation, an intimidation so that all the crimes against humanity committed by the different governments of the United States are never revealed. So many interventions, so many invasions, so much looting.”
Currently, Morales is working on building independent media in Bolivia, where he says that most of the media “belong to the empire or the right-wing.”
Optimistic about the recent victory of left-wing political forces in Peru, Chile and Colombia and Lula’s expected return to the presidency in Brazil, Morales told Kennard that, “in politics we must ask ourselves: Are we with the people or are we with the empire? If we are with the people, we make a country; if we are with the empire, we make money. If we are with the people, we fight for life, for humanity; if we are with the empire, we are with the politics of death, the culture of death, interventions, and pillaging of the people. That is what we ask ourselves as humans, as leaders: ‘Are we at the service of our people?’”
(Popular Resistance) by Jeremy Kuzmarov
This is the first part (of 5 ) of a paragraph by paragraph commentary on an article posing as journalism in the March 6, 2017 issue of The New Yorker. I hope to demonstrate that this article is basically a totally mendacious concoction of cold war US propaganda constructed out of unsubstantiated opinions expressed by US government officials and various journalists and others who are hostile to the current Russian government. There are a few paragraphs exempt from this characterization and they are duly noted. I have put a link to the article itself so that my commentary can be compared, paragraph by paragraph, to the original. However, the commentary can be read on its own. I contend it expresses the real meaning of the original paragraph and my evaluation of that meaning. The original is there for anyone to check to see if I have distorted rather than clarified what the paragraph’s actual meaning is. It is my position that this article is junk journalism which misrepresents the objective reality it purports to describe and that my commentary points out the misrepresentations and attempts to correct them. I hold that no self respecting journalist would write an article such as this New Yorker piece and palm it off on the public. My commentary is also an object lesson on how to distinguish between reportage that at least attempts to be unbiased and obvious nonobjective propaganda. You will know more about Trump, Putin and the New Cold War from the commentary than you will ever know from the original article.
We begin with section 1. “Soft Targets” composed of thirteen paragraphs.
1.This paragraph alleges that Yuri Andropov, the KGB leader in 1982, tried to negatively influence the election of Reagan (would that he had succeeded) by having his operatives infiltrate the DNC and RNC. The only “evidence” provided is some notes provided by a KGB defector to Great Britain. The notes were his own, hand written and typed, not original nor photo copies and there is controversy over their authenticity. [It maybe true but unproven.]
2. This paragraph mentions that both the Soviets and the US were engaged in activities against each other including subversive work in other countries: typical cold war activities. After the end of the Soviet Union the CIA requested that Russia quit spreading fake news about the US and the Russians agreed. No mention of a quid pro quo was made. In 2000 another Russian defector told the US the Russians didn’t keep their word — that nothing changed. [Probably goes for both sides but unproven]
3. Here we are told Putin often points out the interference of the US in other countries and accuses it of “hypocrisy.” Putin also believes the US has been behind the overthrow of the governments in some former soviet republics. The US has also funded Russian dissident groups and supported anti government demonstrations in Russia. The article doesn’t provide any proof either way. The article lists “nongovernmental” agencies that Putin says are used on behalf of fomenting “regime change.” The nongovernmental “agencies” mentioned are: The National Endowment for Democracy (funded by the US government), Human Rights Watch (independently funded but with many former US officials working for it), Amnesty International (independently funded but with some former US government officials working for it) and Golos (Russian independent election monitoring organization with some US government funding). [Falsely suggests nongovernmental “agency” is not government sponsored].
4. This paragraph tells us that some US government officials reject Putin’s criticism and don’t agree with his implication of moral equivalence. It’s true that the US has been so much more interventionist and ruthless in its foreign policy than anything the Russians have done since the collapse of the Soviet Union that it’s an insult to Russia to compare it morally to the US. [Falsely suggests the US is more moral than Russia.]
5. This next paragraph is just empty propaganda having nothing to do with the 2016 election. It uses loaded terms and tells us what Putin’s inner mental states were: he “loathed” Obama, Obama has an “Administration”, Putin has “cronies”, there was an “invasion” of eastern Ukraine rather than an “uprising” in eastern Ukraine (these are all loaded terms to subliminally nudge the reader towards the US point of view — it’s an excellent propaganda technique used throughout the article). The rest of the paragraph tells us Trump said nice things about Putin in 2007 and 2013, and in 2016 he said Putin was a more effective leader (for Russia) than Obama was (for the US) — probably true: he put his man in place and then came back to power and Obama left behind Trump. [Empty propaganda]
6. Neither the RNC nor the DNC had proper security measures on their computers but John Podesta, HRC’s campaign chairman, should have known better. [True]
7. Quotes from Podesta on how his team goofed and outsiders got into his email. [True]
8. This is a description of the current political divisions in the US and how they provide fertile ground for disinformation (they use the Russian word to seed the coming argument.) The “fractured media environment” seemed ripe for conspiracy theories; climate change = Chinese hoax, Obama’s fake birth certificate; they left out the one about Putin hacking the DNC and our elections. The first two are pretty lame but the author’s seem to favor the last one.
9. Some quotes from Oleg Kalugin a retired KGB general living in the US who wrote two books about Soviet spying and with William Colby, former director of the CIA, created a computer game Spycraft. He said Russia tries to take advantage of American weaknesses. No doubt and vice versa.
10. James Clapper, director of national intelligence, released a report in early January claiming Putin ordered an operation to support Trump, undermine HRC, and cast doubt on the US democratic process. The authors admit the report is “more assertion than evidence.”
11. This paragraph informs us that re the Iraq War the US intelligence agencies put forth assertions that were untrue but they argued over the extent of the untruth. This time they all agreed with the same assertion. This is supposed to make it more credible but it’s still, so far, just an assertion.
12. Clapper makes his assertions to Congress about Putin and adds that WikiLeaks was in on it spreading “fake news” [i.e., willfully spreading known falsehoods in order to deceive] and pro Trump “messages.” [ No proof of any of this was given, nor any information on WikiLeaks shown to be false. The authors fail to draw the obvious conclusion that publishing the truth about the DNC and HRC does not amount to being pro Trump!]
13. A long paragraph reveals that Trump first rejected Clappers’ unfounded assertions but later “grudgingly accepted ” them adding that the Russians had no effect on the election’s outcome. Then quotes are offered by an anti-Putin Russian journalist (Yevgenia Albats) about what Putin “probably” does or doesn’t believe, what he’s interested in and what he “wanted.” Such telepathic transmissions are, however, even less evidentiary than Clapper’s assertions.
This is the end of part one. From reading part one of The New Yorker Article you will not have learned anything at all about whether or not the Russian government or Putin had anything to do with the “hacking” of the DNC or if they interfered with our elections. Maybe we will learn something in part two.
Thomas Riggins is a retired philosophy teacher (NYU, The New School of Social Research, among others) who received a PhD from the CUNY Graduate Center (1983). He has been active in the civil rights and peace movements since the 1960s when he was chairman of the Young People's Socialist League at Florida State University and also worked for CORE in voter registration in north Florida (Leon County). He has written for many online publications such as People's World and Political Affairs where he was an associate editor. He also served on the board of the Bertrand Russell Society and was president of the Corliss Lamont chapter in New York City of the American Humanist Association. He is the author of Reading the Classical Texts of Marxism.
Delegates on the convention floor gathered before a debate that increased strike pay. Although the ruling caucus managed to get the strike pay increase reversed the following day, this year's convention—unlike any UAW convention in recent memory—featured real debate and some wins for reformers. Photo: Vail Kohnert-Yount
Reformers in the Auto Workers won day one strike pay at the union’s constitutional convention in Detroit last week. They also forced open debate on the top concession that has weakened the union in the last 15 years--tiered contracts that condemn newer workers to lower pay and benefits beside “legacy” workers doing the same job.
This was the first UAW convention since a leadership corruption scandal erupted, reformers won a member referendum last fall to adopt one-member-one-vote for top officers, and the auto industry began a serious transition to electric vehicles. Held every four years, the meeting has usually been a stale coronation of leaders. A newly organized reform movement turned the convention into a rowdy debate that, for moments, even overruled the top union leaders.
Again and again, members of the Unite All Workers for Democracy reform caucus (UAWD) and other delegates gathered the numbers to put their issues on the convention floor. (That is, in between endless speeches from politicians, glowing videos about top union officers, and other time-wasting snoozes.)
After debate, the dissenters were often voted down by loyalists of the Administration Caucus (AC) that has commanded every top office in the union since the 1950s. But reformers found enough new allies to rack up some remarkable victories.
Strike pay across the union will now start on the first day of a strike, instead of its eighth. This will make a huge difference in the ability of thousands of UAW members to start and sustain a strike.
Jessie Kelly, a skilled moldmaker at GM near Detroit, has seen the low-paid and the higher-paid ends of the auto workforce. She was a temp for three years and said, “Strike pay on day one was one of the most important issues to me coming in. We have a lot of low- and bottom-tier members who live paycheck to paycheck. It’s hard as hell for them to go a week with no pay.”
UAWD developed the day one strike pay resolution as a top priority, and the caucus passed it through locals representing more than 40 percent of the membership. Another part of the resolution included a strike pay raise from $275 to $400 a week, which top UAW officers chose to adopt before it hit the convention floor.
In campaigns for the union’s top officers, individual donations will be capped at $2,000 from 2026 on. The constitution committee had proposed no maximum. This was a spontaneous effort from the floor that passed with about 70 percent. Supporters spoke to the need to check the financial sway of top officers and staff, whose salaries are often triple what members make.
UAWD’s top priority was a constitutional amendment to block expansion of tiered contracts, and work towards ending tiers entirely. In a tiered contract, workers hired later do the same job as more senior workers at far lower pay and benefits. After hundreds of delegates supported bringing the amendment to the floor, it garnered nearly a third of the vote, much higher than dissidents’ numbers in the past.
AC supporters argued that bargaining was the place to deal with tiers, and that while they too despised tiers, they needed flexibility to keep them to avoid other concessions, and longer-term organizing to cut tiers out. Predictably, the next day newspapers reported that delegates had declined to repudiate tiers, while voting in a 3 percent raise for top officers.
Other key resolutions were forced to the floor for landmark debates. Yasin Mahdi, three months on strike at CNH Industrial, advanced a resolution from the floor to raise strike pay even more: “We need to come to bargaining with $500 a week, from day one, so they know we mean to stop the corporate fuckery.” The measure passed with a two-thirds majority before AC leaders organized to overturn it a day later.
UAW conventions have been notable for their intolerance of dissent, even when the number of reformers was small. In 2018 and some prior conventions, loyalists handed out noisemakers to drown out speakers who dared to dissent.
This year, whether due to the rising reform movement or because the union is under a federal monitorship, the tone was far more civil. Dissidents were rarely booed at the mic, and due process was largely followed. While frequent challenges and process points from delegates sometimes led to confusion and griping on the floor, they also showed a union convention that, for a few days, stepped beyond the top-down pageants of recent decades.
Willie Holmes is supporting incumbent president Ray Curry for re-election, but he said, “This is the best convention we’ve had. All this debate, all this questioning the people up at the front, it’s holding them to the fire. It might seem raucous. That’s what convention is supposed to be.
“Every time before, we’d show up and be told, here’s the slate. Then we’d wait around for three days for it to be over.”
Holmes is local union president at a General Motors axle and engine parts plant in Grand Rapids, Michigan. During the union’s 2019 strike at GM, International officers ordered his local to return to work to fill a military order. Instead, Holmes and his local decided to stay out on strike. After proving their crucial point in the supply chain, the local ended tiers in their plant’s contract.
A few days before the convention, the federal monitor overseeing the Auto Workers issued a report bemoaning union officers’ failure to cooperate with his investigations, or even to reply to his requests for information. The monitor has 19 investigations into corruption ongoing, on top of the 13 UAW officials already convicted and sent (briefly) to jail.
With the important exception of the raise in strike pay, stonewalling also seemed to be the AC policy for the convention. No UAWD resolution or constitutional amendment was put on the official docket for discussion, despite their support from many locals. The proposal to end tiers was not even printed in the “Submitted Resolutions” booklet. It was as if the AC expected to replicate past conventions where it presided with impunity.
Rebranding as the “Mass Caucus,” at least for now, the AC held daily meetings where leaders laid out the plans for the day. With future staff jobs and attention for their locals on the line, delegates were told to follow orders from the top in the name of “solidarity” and “respecting the union.” One reformer who attended described the caucus environment as a “captive audience meeting.”
A troubling sign came with a change approved for the union’s Membership Advisory Committee on Ethics. This oversight group was created in 2021 by a random, jury-style selection of eight of the 120 members who applied. A convention majority decided that instead, the union’s regional directors will now select the members who oversee their ethics. Without further changes or pressure, the foxes’ pups might be the ones to guard the coop.
REFORMERS GET ORGANIZED
UAWD is a reform caucus allying members from the union’s traditional blue-collar base in manufacturing with the higher education and legal workers who now make up a quarter of the 400,000-member union. Younger members’ tech savvy was on full display in the use of Whatsapp updates and chats, with delegates, alternates, and others able to discuss in real time next steps on the floor.
The caucus was founded just before the pandemic to fight to replace convention-based elections with one-member-one-vote, and it gained new traction when the federal government put the UAW under the monitor. With UAWD as the main organizers of a “yes” campaign for one-member-one-vote, last November members voted by almost two-thirds to adopt the new system, and for the first time this fall, officer candidates will have to face the membership.
Shunte Sanders-Beasley, vice president of a Detroit-area Stellantis local, said her plant went 89 percent for one-member-one-vote last fall and that “because of the things that happened over the last 40 years, there’s no connection between the administration and the rank and file. It’s been a dictatorship. Members want to feel that they’re involved.”
Perhaps reflecting that disconnect, turnout for the referendum was low. UAWD members—many of them new to union politics—have spent this year organizing their local members to pass convention resolutions and elect delegates on the platform “No Tiers, No Corruption, No Concessions.”
They are backing a slate called UAW Members United: Shawn Fain, a dissident international representative for president; Margaret Mock, a former local shop chair, for secretary-treasurer; and Lashawn English, a three-term local president, for director of Region 1, one of three regions in Michigan. Both Fain and English fought imposition of the dreaded 3/2/120 work schedule in their plants.
At a gathering for the slate held in a nearby bar Monday night, Fain referred to contract concessions the union made in 2009 when Chrysler and GM were in danger of bankruptcy and said, “Those [concessions] are still there, even though the companies are making money hand over fist… We have to set a standard that will make people want to be part of this union.” Mock mock-apologized for not handing out backpacks with her name on them, a reference to a recent scandal by her incumbent opponent giving out goodies for self-promotion.
Bob Bickerstaff, a 39-year member and president of a Toledo Stellantis (formerly Chrysler) local, thought one-member-one-vote had opened a new day. “It should have been like this all along,” he said. “We can’t grow the union without everybody having input to take on the companies.”
At their morning meetings, UAWD members cheered wins on strike pay and the hard-won openness of debate. Caucus co-chair Scott Houldieson said, “We made history yesterday. We passed an amendment from the floor. As far as I know, that hasn’t happened since the early 1980s.”
THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
On the convention’s final day, the Administration Caucus went on the attack. The daily opening prayer, by Herb Taylor from Local 31, sought to warn and divide reformers: “I have a message for the young people: Stop disrespecting this union.” The many older auto workers who had spoken for reform were apparently not worth mentioning. Some AC supporters broke from prayer to give a standing ovation.
Next came a charade of kissing up. AC supporters spent practically an hour nominating a union trustee candidate over and over from the floor, gleefully defying a rule allowing only two speakers per candidate.
To make up for lost time, a book of more than 20 resolutions from the leadership was then approved as a block, without debate. This included a resolution on electric vehicles (EVs) focused on backing politicians and tax rebates to steer this growing non-union sector into the UAW, with hardly a mention of organizing battery and assembly workers themselves. A UAWD resolution to drive worker-led organizing at EV plants never made the floor.
Finally, hours before adjourning, when some delegates had already left for the airport, AC delegates moved to rescind the $500 strike pay resolution passed barely a day before. Since that idea had been submitted by a lowly striking worker on the floor, establishment allies claimed the move had paid insufficient respect to the “highly educated men and women” of the leadership and how they chose resolutions in advance.
In the end, with debate cut off before any objections could be voiced, delegates voted 421-181 to lower strike pay from $500 back to $400 a week.
For all the let-downs at the end, Kelly celebrated the convention’s big step forward: “I was at convention in 2018. After the convention, I came home and felt sick. That was what I’d been organizing under, spending all my free time to build up?
“This year, there’s so much more debate. It’s more democratic. It’s beautiful to see.
“I really believe our membership is so intelligent. We can get so organized when we need to. But that’s not how we were treated. Now, you see one day of this, you see how smart we are.”
Keith Brower Brown is a member of UAW Local 2865 at the University of California and was a delegate to the convention. Jane Slaughter is a former editor of Labor Notes.
Keith Brower Brown and Jane Slaughter
This article was republished from Labor Notes.
Applicants wait in line to enter an Amazon hiring event at a fulfillment center. A leaked memo has revealed the company's strategy to hire vulnerable people more susceptible to its anti-union message. Los solicitantes esperan en fila para ingresar a un evento de contratación de Amazon en un centro logístico. | Elaine Thompson / AP
LOS ANGELES—Already known for spending millions on union-busting—with mixed success—the monster retailer and warehouse firm Amazon planned to go far beyond that to gear up against the Teamsters’ campaign to unionize it, especially in a key area, Southern California. Its target to exploit: “Vulnerable people.”
In a memo leaked to Recode, Amazon honchos said it would hire students from poor households and people just let out of jail after finishing their sentences. The implication is they would be desperate for jobs and join Amazon. Unable to afford advancement through college, for example, they would be trapped into remaining at Amazon. The memo says that those “vulnerable adult workers would become pro-company speakers.”
And for California the Amazon memo envisions a “school to warehouse pipeline”—their words—to funnel young L.A. high schoolers and community college grads into its monster facilities. Amazon also proposed eliminating its employment interviewers’ questions to job applicants about pot use. The racist implication is that minority youth using the drug would be even more vulnerable and prone to super exploitation.
The memo also calls upon Amazon to launch a PR campaign designed to ingratiate itself with community groups. And Amazon would shine up its image by supporting organizations that campaign for social change, such as better schools and job opportunities for ex-inmates.
It might even raise workers’ pay—to $18 an hour.
Amazon’s strategy doesn’t surprise Shane Gusman, the Teamsters Legislative Director for California, speaking for JC42, in a telephone interview with People’s World. The council’s unions represent workers at, among others, the nation’s busiest port, Los Angeles-Long Beach.
Including the PR effort and “buying off community groups,” Gusman said the memo outlines “classic corporate strategy to find any way to get around unionization.”
The council also covers the port of San Diego and, importantly, California’s “Inland Empire” of warehouses for storing goods delivered from the ports before transshipment eastwards via truck and train.
Walmart, Gusman added, has done the same thing. “It would traipse community groups through the legislature” to testify to the company’s good works while low-balling its workers on pay, benefits, and working conditions, and fighting unionization.
“We’ve seen it a thousand times,” said Gusman. And Amazon, like Walmart, “looks at the political climate and latches onto a do-gooder cause” to promote. “It’s totally outrageous.”
In the Los Angeles area, dropping the pot questions would let Amazon hire formerly incarcerated people whose past records would otherwise keep them out of jobs. The pay and the pipeline from the high schools and community colleges would appeal to the 80% of L.A. United School District kids who live in families below the poverty line, the memo contends.
Both groups called “vulnerable"
The memo characterizes both groups as “vulnerable people” open to an Amazon message of immediate jobs. According to the Amazon plan, they then become company defenders against the union.
The memo admitted Amazon began with two big disadvantages: Negative perceptions of its impact on communities and local businesses and its low pay. Though the memo did not say so, the negative impact resulted in civic defeats of Amazon warehouse construction projects not just in Southern California but in Colorado, New York City, and elsewhere.
In those cases, unions, including the Teamsters on the West Coast and Colorado and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union in New York, mobilized community and political support against the Amazon projects by pointing out how Amazon’s warehouses would disrupt neighborhoods, how its business tactics drive local firms broke, and its skimpy pay.
Amazon also worried about the Teamsters’ size, 1.2 million members, and clout, the memo says. Its honchos drew up the document in spring 2021. In 2020, both Teamsters presidential hopefuls declared Amazon, owned by Jeff Bezos, one of the three richest people in the U.S., is an “existential threat” to the union’s core of truckers and warehouse workers.
Amazon may face all it can handle as it takes on Joint Council 42. Council locals cover a lot of Amazon’s business area. The council’s locals not only cover Los Angeles-Long Beach, where many of its goods enter from China but workers in Inland Empire warehouses. In those, the goods—brought by rail or by port truckers—are stored before distribution.
And for years, JC42 and Teamsters headquarters in Washington have run a multi-step campaign to unionize those thousands of L.A.-Long Beach port truckers and to successfully alert surrounding communities to the negative economic impact of Amazon’s warehouses.
The first part of the L.A.-Long Beach drive was to campaign against pollution port trucking firms inflicted on working-class neighborhoods by forcing the truckers to idle, waiting hours on end, for freight. They got state and local environmental officials to crack down.
The second part was to alert the truck drivers, and the public, to port truck companies’ exploitation of the drivers by misclassifying them as “independent contractors,” and forcing them to buy their own gas, tires, insurance, and supplies while denying them decent pay and the right to unionize. Truckers would often go home with paychecks counted in pennies.
And while JC42 was busy organizing the port truckers and getting them onto informational picket lines—and occasional one-day strikes—the union and its allies went to court under California labor law, which is tougher on bosses than federal law, to win cases against the misclassification. Penalties included not just money but the right to organize.
Gusman pointed out that Teamsters can also take on Amazon’s economic arguments that it would use to entice the “vulnerable people” to work in its warehouses.
“There’s no reason why the formerly incarcerated can’t get a good union job” since union contracts often bar bosses’ questions about a worker’s past criminal offenses. Some also bar questions about pot use.
Young people targeted
“And the same thing with the young people” who can be attracted to high-paying union jobs, notably through building trades unions’ apprenticeships and training, he said. The Teamsters, a member of North America’s Building Trades Unions, run such apprenticeships.
Amazon’s memo does not discuss its tactics against independent grassroots unions springing up around the U.S. to organize its warehouse workers.
The leaked memo isn’t the first time Amazon tried PR tactics and other dodges to defeat unions, adding to the firm’s “normal” hiring of union-busters and frequent labor law-breaking, documented in unfair labor practices charges filed with the National Labor Relations Board.
Left Voice last year uncovered a prior Amazon memo recommending the company film and promote what it called an “inarticulate” Staten Island worker to downgrade the ALU.
That boomeranged. The worker Amazon pilloried was Chris Smalls.
Smalls, who is both very articulate and very organized, co-founded the Amazon Labor Union. It began after bosses illegally fired him in 2020 for leading a lunchtime walkout at JFK8. The workers protested Amazon’s refusal to protect them against the spreading coronavirus—or even tell them who got sick, so they could protect themselves by anti-virus tests.
The end result, after two years: ALU’s win at JFK8, 2,654-2,331.
Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.
This article was republished from People's World.
In Mwanza, Tanzania, Nairukoki Leyian-Naisinyai tells me that here, “Corporations come with papers from the government claiming that they have the right to our land.” She points to the large corporations that have entered the lands of the Maasai people to mine rubies and tanzanite. The Maasai can neither assert their rights to the land nor benefit from the mining of these precious resources.
The Maasai are a semi-nomadic pastoralist community that proudly practice an Indigenous way of life closely tied to their land and cattle. Their ancestral lands border the East African Rift Valley, the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The government aims to expand the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in northern Tanzania and plans to turn it into a game reserve.
“Every activity depends on the land,” says Rosa Olokwani-Mundarara, who—along with Leyian-Naisinyai—fights for the rights of the Maasai people to have greater control over their lives. The Maasai community, like other pastoralists, find themselves being marginalized by the capture of their lands for mining, tourism and conservation. According to the Legal Resources Centre and Oxfam, the globally recognized principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) can be extended to African human rights law and customary law, providing a legal basis to resist displacement. Joyce Ndakaru, who works at the nonprofit HakiMadini (or Right to Minerals), tells me that while FPIC offers important legal protection, the precarious situation of the Maasai land tenure—in particular women’s land tenure—rights poses challenges for women like Olokwani-Mundarara and Leyian-Naisinyai.
Conservation or Displacement?
Pastoralists, such as the Maasai community, have lost their land to mining, tourism and conservation as a result of unjust practices that are rooted in colonial processes. Desperate to provide water to their declining livestock herds (62,000 have been lost between December 2021 and January 2022 due to the drought in Tanzania), the Maasai have been excluded from areas reserved for tourism, trophy hunting and conservation.
For three decades, the Maasai of Loliondo have been resisting displacement by a game reserve that will be managed by Otterlo Business Corporation based in the United Arab Emirates, which has alleged ties to Dubai’s royal family. An attempt in June to demarcate 540 square miles of this land for the game reserve was met with protests. Many Maasai were injured by police. Twenty-four are currently facing charges for the murder of a police officer; their lawyer argues that this is a “politically motivated” trial. More than 2,000 Maasai, mostly women and children, have fled into Kenya, seeking medical care and protection. In a statement to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, the Maasai of Loliondo denounced the land grab as an existential threat.
Soon after Tanzania won its independence in 1961, Prime Minister Julius Nyerere argued that African socialism would be rooted within African traditional society (although traditions that marginalized women would still have to be overcome). Nyerere implemented village collectivization projects to restructure rural production systems. In Define and Rule (2012), Mahmood Mamdani explains that this restructure of the production systems was done to dismantle the legal and administrative arms of the colonial state to ensure that these structures served a different political vision of forging unity by overcoming differences under one legal regime. As the global economic crises in the late 1980s led to a shift toward neoliberal globalization, Nyerere’s approach was considered outmoded. Challenges with collectivization programs had devastating economic outcomes in Tanzania. The World Bank criticized Nyerere’s economic policies as overemphasizing equity rather than productivity.
Privatization under structural adjustment in the 1980s expanded mining, agriculture and tourism sectors. Land tenure reforms a decade later became a focus of contestation, with women’s groups aiming for statutory property rights, while pastoralist groups sought to protect customary rights. The former raised the threat of integration into markets on detrimental terms through titling, while the latter offered to protect communal rights (and remained steeped in patriarchal practices). Women pastoralists have remained locked into this harsh situation.
Struggles of the Maasai Women
“The challenge that women are facing is that we do not have the capital to engage in mining, and do not own livestock,” Olokwani-Mundarara tells me. We are talking about how women’s economic activity, particularly in Olokwani-Mundarara’s Maasai community, is controlled by men. “Men want women to go to the market and to provide food. Failure to do so results in beating,” Olokwani-Mundarara says. Any attempt by a woman to explore a livelihood strategy that cannot be controlled by men is also met with violence. Leyian-Naisinyai says, “Women are expected to do housework and care for the livestock… [owned by] men.” Meanwhile, climate change is only adding to the issues faced by women. A journal article published in Environmental Policy and Law (2021) highlights how the climate crisis is “exacerbating sexual and gender-based violence against women.”
When Olokwani-Mundarara decided to speak publicly about the need to resist corporations that are threatening to take their ancestral lands, the elders, who are all men, verbally humiliated her as “seeking [the] attention of men.”
Joyce Ndakaru of HakiMadini, who is also Maasai, explains how she had to overcome prejudice to secure her right to education and now organizes Maasai women to reflect on the conditions within which they live and learn about their rights to property and to consent to the development model that serves their interests.
Ndakaru tells me about the experience of being a Maasai woman in a deeply patriarchal society: “Maasai women are born, grow and live in a community where men make decisions [about] everything, including those… [related to] women’s needs.” Ndakaru makes it clear that Maasai women are not treated as equal to the men in their community, but are instead infantilized and are seen as sources of free labor. Ndakaru says, “Women are labeled as property, [childlike] and ignorant; hence, their participation in decision-making is very low.” Ndakaru further tells me that this prevents Maasai women from being able to build their own autonomy. She says, “This puts Maasai women in a pool of poverty, marginalization and oppression. Studies have proven that if women are empowered, given equal positions as men and their contributions are appreciated, they are really strong and genuine activists in the community.” To resist land grabbing, women must assert their rights to contest control and ownership over land and natural resources. Ndakaru concludes: “Land, leadership and strong income-generating activities are among key elements to ensure silent voices, including [those] of women, are brought up, respected and advocated [for].”
Reflecting on this reality, Olokwani-Mundarara and Leyian-Naisinyai affirmed that they aim to secure a title to resist land grabbing. A four-year study published in the Journal of Peasant Studies (2016) finds that Maasai women who have pursued individual titles still struggle to acquire formal titles due to prevailing patrilineal practices at village-level governance. Instead, according to the study, by being rooted in “collective action,” Maasai women can increase their “access to knowledge, social relations, collective identity, and authority” by asserting their rights to access land, which enables greater political control. As Ndakaru, Olokwani-Mundarara and Leyian-Naisinyai continue their journey in organizing against corporate-led land grabbing by asserting FPIC, and in pursuing land tenure titles, they have an uphill struggle ahead.
Hibist Kassa is the research coordinator at WoMin African Alliance. She is the author of “Ethiopia at the Crossroad: The Pitfalls of Narrow Nationalism” for the Agrarian South Network Research Bulletin (2021) and “Researching Women and Gender in Africa: Present Realities, Future Directions” in The Palgrave Handbook of African Women’s Studies (2021).
This article was produced by Globetrotter.
This article aims to reprise Marx's 1844 article on Hegel's philosophy of law which ends with the memorable prediction that the Germans will only become conscious of their revolutionary destiny when they respond to the "the ringing call of the Gallic cock." Well, the last time the Gallic cock was heard from was in 1968 and it was rather subdued compared to its noisy past (1789, 1830, 1848, 1871).
Fortunately for those who read this pre-Communist Manifesto work of the young Marx (he was 25 when he wrote it) it has many useful ideas packed into its 13 pages that are still of interest today even though no one is expecting the Gallic cock to make any ringing calls in the foreseeable future. Its greatest call remains that of 1789 which inspired the Russian, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese Revolutions as well as the Cuban and which is echoed today in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Now for Marx's ideas and how they relate to today's struggles. There are revolutionary movements at work in the contemporary world and some of the ideas expressed by Marx in relation to the French and German movements of the early nineteenth century can be applied to them. There are three areas where revolutionary ferment is currently occurring-- the Middle East and Africa where we see revolutions and counter revolutions breaking out in several different countries, Latin America where several countries are now led by pro socialist and/or progressive governments inspired by the Cuban revolution and threatened by US imperialism, and in south east Asia where both India and Nepal have active revolutionary movements based on exploited peasants and indigenous peoples.
Unfortunately in some of these areas, especially in the Middle East and Africa, there are armed groups and political organizations whose ideological roots are allegedly based in religion and a fanatical commitment to creeds which do not reflect objective reality (this is also true in Europe and especially the U.S. where dogmatically fundamentalist ideas fuel many in the Republican Party and the core of the anti-choice movement which rejects Roe vs. Wade and treats women as objects to be manipulated for political gain.)
This essay by Marx ("Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Law: Introduction") maintains that the fight to improve the world involves a fight to criticize religion since we will not be able to focus on the real world and its problems if we spend our time engaged with a false world such as the one conjured up by religion. This essay by Marx is admittedly dated but still of some interest today.
This work is justly famous as the source of the quote that "religion is the opium of the people." While opium may be able to supply some relief from an intolerable reality we can't expect people doped up on opium, spiritual or otherwise, to be involved in schemes for rationally based world improvement. We will get to the full quote in a minute. First, I want to note that in 1844 Marx thinks the basis of all criticism of the basic world order is the criticism of religion and that in his day this criticism has basically been completed-- at least in western Europe (Germany in particular). "Man makes religion, religion does not make man."
Marx is right of course for the Western world in general and large parts of Asia (China, Vietnam) religion is no longer a major factor in people's lives (except in a pro forma sense or within fringe groups or in backward areas). Unfortunately this battle has not yet been won, or even joined, in large areas of the Third World. Religion thrives on oppression and only by simultaneously fighting oppression, and furthering progressive education, will religion wither and the people flourish. The following is Marx's full quote on this issue:
Religion "is the fantastic realization of the human essence because the human essence has no true reality. The struggle against religion is therefore indirectly a fight against the world of which religion is the spiritual aroma."
He continues: "Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and also the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of spiritless conditions. It is the opium of the people."
Finally, he says: "To abolish religion as the illusory happiness of the people is to demand their real happiness. The demand to give up illusions about the existing state of affairs is the demand to give up a state of affairs which needs illusions. The criticism of religion is therefore in embryo the criticism of the vale of tears, the halo of which is religion."
These three quotes form the basis of the materialist outlook on religion. But what is the difference between illusory happiness and real happiness? If a person is experiencing "happiness" what more is there to say? If we take an example from current history and say that the members of the Moslem Brotherhood in Egypt, being at heart members of a religious organization, are living in an illusory world and the Egyptian people demanding their removal from power was an example of the demand to abandon illusions about the nature of the problems facing Egypt and the existing state of affairs then, it would seem, the only justification for this action would be to revolutionize the state of affairs (i.e., the social, economic, and political status quo) to such an extent that religious illusions would no longer have any traction in that society.
But who is to decide who is delusional? In the first place, rather than speaking of illusory versus real happiness, it would be better to speak of a feeling of happiness based on a false belief about the nature of reality and one based of a true belief about the nature of reality. You may feel (temporarily) happy taking your laetrile for that lump but you would be better off having it removed.
As for who decides, Marx was very specific (in 1844) as to whom this responsibility devolves. It is the role of philosophy in service to history. We will have to allow Marx to use this Hegelian way of expressing himself: while critical of Hegel he had not yet completely liberated himself from Hegelian ways of expressing his ideas. He says: "The task of history, therefore, once the world beyond the truth has disappeared, is to establish the truth of this world. The immediate task of philosophy, which is at the service of history, once the holy form of human self-estrangement has been unmasked, is to unmask self-estrangement in its unholy forms. Thus the criticism of heaven turns into the criticism of the earth, the criticism of religion into the criticism of law and the criticism of theology into the criticism of politics."
Marx may have thought this battle was over in the Germany of his day, but it is still raging here in the USA: one only has to read the the statements made by right-wing US politicians on the issues of a woman's right to choice, or on the food stamp program, or on sex education or on social welfare and "entitlement" programs to see how retrograde religious references are put forth to justify reactionary and even quasi-fascist social policies. And it is not just in the United States. Every day you can read in the papers how all over the planet religion is used to crush the human spirit, attack enlightenment, retard scientific understanding and further the goals of fascism, militarism, and imperialism. Although they are an important influence, all the religious progressives and pacifists in the world will not stem this backward tide of religious fanaticism without robust secular movements and political parties that are able to rally millions of oppressed people to fight against it.
Behind the religious facade stands a more this worldly enemy. Marx writes that once the other worldly illusion has been mastered we must focus on the reality of this world and the real roots of oppression and human self-estrangement. "The relation of industry, of the world of wealth generally, to the political world is one of the major problems of modern times." A 170 years isn't so long after all as our world today faces exactly this problem-- from the Koch brothers to the MAGA movement, to big oil and pollution, to the European economic crisis and the war against working people, to the world wide faltering of capitalism based on domination by banks and financial institutions, and third world exploitation-- it is all based on struggle over which countries and which classes are going to control industry and the world of wealth.
As this struggle intensifies we can expect the world to become a more and more violent place. The past century may have been only a prelude of things to come. We read in the papers that Japan plans to rebuild its military, the US is building up its forces in the Pacific (aimed at China) and moving into Africa, NATO is carrying on wars of aggression far from its home bases and preparing for interventions anywhere that may threaten Western dominance. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Honduras, Haiti, Libya, Egypt, Syria (to name just a few of the most recent examples) no country is safe from Western intrigue, drones, outside interventions, or externally manipulated civil wars whenever the economic interests of the US and its allies and puppets are seen to be at risk. Today we see the US and Russia engaged in a proxy war in Ukraine stemming from the US backed overthrow of the elected Ukrainian government in 2014 and the advance of NATO to the Russian borders.
Marx realized that journalism alone, philosophy and criticism alone, would never be able to change this situation or be able to overthrow the world system of human exploitation. "The weapon of criticism cannot, of course," he wrote, "replace criticism by weapons, material force must be overthrown by material force; but theory also becomes a material force as soon as it has gripped the masses." This is why Wiki-Leaks and people like Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden along with other whistleblowers and investigative reporters must be silenced, for governments and their toadies know that once the people are informed, once they realize that the theories of their own governments are that information and democracy must be restricted (fascist policies introduced) in order for them to carry out their repressive domestic and international policies, they will fight back (or so they think) to ensure their rights and livelihoods.
A revolution in thought must precede a revolution in deed. Marx thinks there must be a material basis for any revolution. "Theory can be realized in a people only insofar as it is the realization of the needs of that people." People around the world are becoming more and more aware of their real needs which are the exact opposite of those they are told about by capitalist governments and their hand kissing mainstream media. They need jobs, peace, education, housing and clean air and political parties and movements that truly represent working people and their allies, not bombs, drones, military interventions, no fly zones, fossil fuels, austerity and bank bailouts, and capitalist and fake socialist and labor parties that betray them.
A political revolution, such as we saw in Egypt, or the "Arab Spring" in general, was only a partial revolution. Marx's thinking here is conditioned by the experiences of 1789 and 1830 in France. What are these partial revolutions based upon Marx asks [a complete revolution would change the social relations and economic base of a country-- 1789 rather than 1830-- or even 1776.] His answer is that a "part of civil society emancipates itself and attains general domination; on the fact that a definite class , proceeding from its particular situation, undertakes the general emancipation of society."
In Egypt in 2011, for example, it was the middle class in alliance with the workers and peasants and some elements of the big national capitalists against the military dictatorship headed by Mubarak and representing compradore capitalists in alliance with US imperialism and its puppets (e.g., the EU).
"No class of civil society can play this role," Marx says, "without arousing a moment of enthusiasm in itself and in the masses, a moment in which it fraternizes and merges with society in general, becomes confused with it and is perceived and acknowledged as its general representative; a moment in which its demands and rights are truly the rights and demands of society itself; a moment in which it is truly the social head and social heart."
It was Mohammed Morsi and the political party affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood that emerged in 2012 as the general representative of the forces that brought down Mubarak-- it claimed to represent the incarnation of the most general (and contentless as it turned out) demand of the revolution: "Democracy" as incarnated in free and fair elections. Unfortunately for the Brotherhood its anti-democratic and dogmatic nature soon came to the fore as it tried to impose its sectarian doctrines on the rest of the revolutionary movement, of which it was only one component, while relying on the military to maintain it in power.
This is why a merely political revolution is only partial. In Egypt one "tyrant" was removed from power, and a would-be tyrant was also expelled from office-- both by the Egyptian military reacting to millions of people in the streets demanding rights and freedoms which are the norm in stable bourgeois democracies. The real rulers in Egypt remain the military-- the same military that installed Nasser-- and the economic and social relations remain the same. To what extent they will allow bourgeois democracy to take hold in Egypt remains to be seen. One thing we can count on is that all the forces of US imperialism will be marshaled against the Egyptian masses and their democratic aspirations, the current US supported military dictatorship is proof of this.
Marx, in this essay, thought a complete revolution would have to be led by a class whose emancipation would free both itself and all other classes-- by abolishing class differences. Of course, he is talking about 1844 Germany and the working class was very small and just beginning to develop so any coming revolutions would be bourgeois democratic in nature and not socialist. Yet Marx thought that only a full fledged socialist revolution, one demanding the abolition of private property, would actually be able to free human beings from exploitation and oppression. That day has not yet dawned but, if Marx was right about the role of criticism in the development of human self consciousness and the struggle for freedom, we can conclude that the role of religion and the religious consciousness will play an insignificant part-- indeed will be a negative rather than a positive ingredient in the self liberation of humanity from its self imposed fetishes and idols.
What then does Marx think will replace religion as the moving force in advancing historical progress. He said it would be philosophy. In his day what we call science was more or less considered a part of philosophy-- natural philosophy. So if we think of Marx as thinking that the road to liberation will be guided by a materialist philosophy based on scientific understanding we will not be misguided. The section of humanity that will traverse this road is that of the working people, including agricultural workers, and especially industrial workers who will finally be able to put the economic resources of the planet, the common property of all not the few, to work for the common good.
This day will come, following Marx, when scientific philosophy finds its material weapons in the working people and they find their spiritual weapons in scientific philosophy. But whether it will be the Gallic cock or some other whose ringing call proclaims this day remains to be seen.
Thomas Riggins is a retired philosophy teacher (NYU, The New School of Social Research, among others) who received a PhD from the CUNY Graduate Center (1983). He has been active in the civil rights and peace movements since the 1960s when he was chairman of the Young People's Socialist League at Florida State University and also worked for CORE in voter registration in north Florida (Leon County). He has written for many online publications such as People's World and Political Affairs where he was an associate editor. He also served on the board of the Bertrand Russell Society and was president of the Corliss Lamont chapter in New York City of the American Humanist Association. He is the author of Reading the Classical Texts of Marxism.
Former president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, on June 26, 2010. Photo: Fernando Llano/AP.
The commander of the Radiological, Chemical, and Biological Defense Troops of the Russian Armed Forces, Igor Kirillov, declared that Washington’s special services had been developing possible plans to eliminate the former Venezuelan leader since 2002.
The biological activities of the US are linked to the death of the former president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, said the head of the Radiological, Chemical, and Biological Defense Troops of the Russian Armed Forces, Igor Kirillov, at a press conference earlier today.
In particular, Kirillov referred to the words of the current president, Nicolás Maduro, who on July 18 spoke publicly about ” the involvement of the US in the assassination” of Chávez.
The senior Russian commander pointed out that the authorities of the Caribbean country have data indicating that since 2002, Washington’s special services have been developing possible plans to eliminate Chávez, the architect of “an active anti-imperialist policy.” In this regard, Kirillov said that multiple assassination attempts involving officials from the US embassy in Caracas were identified and foiled.
“In violation of international law, the US carried out activities to create drugs that, when administered to the body in the short term, cause chronic diseases and lead to the development of different forms of cancer,” Kirillov said. “According to data from the Venezuelan side, a similar drug was used to poison Chávez, by Claudia Diaz, who was a nurse and part of the presidential entourage.”
The senior military officer indicated that Díaz left Venezuela, and was subsequently transferred to the US, to prevent her collaboration with Washington’s special services from being revealed.
The indications of the forensic examination and the testimonies of Cuban doctors who treated Chávez —who drew attention to the “atypical” course of the illness and his resistance to the application of drugs—corroborate the cause–effect relationship between the death of the former Venezuelan leader and developments in the field of biological weapons by Washington, said the representative of the Russian Defense Ministry, who also mentioned the connection of US illegal biowarfare research around the world to COVID-19, and how information obtained on US financed biological labs in Ukraine has helped Moscow to have a better understanding about the reach of US terrorist plots.
The Russian commander provided some additional details about this Venezuelan nurse suspected to have played a part in this plot:
• Hugo Chávez died on March 5, 2013 from cancer that he had been fighting for more than a year.
• In May 2016, the then vice president of Venezuela, Aristóbulo Istúriz, suggested that the leader of the Bolivarian revolution was assassinated for wanting to end “the dictatorship of the dollar,” and suggested that the cancer that ended his life was induced.
• Claudia Díaz was extradited from Spain to the US in May of this year due to allegations of money laundering and criminal association. In addition, she is a fugitive from justice in Venezuela, where she is wanted for allegedly committing crimes of money laundering, illicit association, and embezzlement, but Spain avoided sending her to Venezuela, as an extradition request was filed by the US.
• In 2001, she joined the body of the Venezuelan presidential security. In 2003, she joined President Chávez’s medical team as a nurse, where she remained until 2011.
(Actualidad RT) with Orinoco Tribune content
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
Miguel Díaz-Canel President of Cuba and First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC). Photo: Prensa Latina.
Havana, Jul 28 (Prensa Latina)—The first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), Miguel Díaz-Canel, commented that unity among the world’s communist groups is necessary and urgent, Granma newspaper reported.
According to the newspaper, in a message to the International Forum of Marxist Parties, held virtually and organized by the Communist Party of China, the Cuban head of State expressed gratitude for the opportunity to exchange theoretical advances and practical experiences of these organizations.
In the text, read in front of representatives of 109 parties from all over the world by Rosario Penton, rector of the Ñico Lopez PCC Superior School, Díaz-Canel stressed that since its emergence, Marxism have provided the scientific foundation to the class struggles of the world proletariat and of the international working class.
He pointed out that the objectivity of its postulates is revealed in a particular way in times of crisis.
Diaz-Canel referred to the mistakes made in the name of the Marxist tradition, the setbacks and defeats. He also highlighted the ways in which Marxism in Cuba merged with the best of the revolutionary national tradition, which had among its highest exponents José Martí and Fidel Castro Ruz.
He affirmed that for Cubans, being a Marxist means constantly learning from practice to integrate the development of the social sciences.
Diaz-Canel highlighted the ideas, concepts and guidelines approved in the 8th PCC Congress, and pointed out the three main tasks that have become strategies for partisan work: the economic battle; unity and struggle for peace; and ideological firmness.
He emphasized that Cuba is working on the formation of a critical and transforming subject of prosperous, sustainable and democratic socialism, as part of the process of updating its development model.
“We are firmly convinced that socialism is the only path to development with social justice to creatively overcome capitalism, its unsustainable irrationality and the values that guide it,” he added.
Díaz-Canel recalled the positive and negative lessons of other countries that have previously embarked on this path and what it means to be close to and constantly being harassaed by an adversary as powerful as the United States government.
He denounced the growing aggressiveness of the US against Cuba, as well as the use of perverse instruments of unconventional warfare, the media indoctrination laboratories, the disinformation campaign, lies, double standards and hypocrisy, through social media.
“The reality of today’s world confirms that it is increasingly necessary and urgent for Marxist parties to unite to face the great challenges that lie ahead. Only unity in diversity will ensure victory,” Díaz-Canel concluded.
(Prensa Latina – English) by Juan M. García
Juan M. Garcia
US forces involved in at least 23 proxy wars across the world, new documents suggest. By: Morning StarRead Now
The Pentagon Photo: David B. Gleason / Creative Commons
UNITED States Special Operational forces have been involved in at least 23 secretive proxy wars across the world on a scale far greater than previously known, new documents indicate.
A report published by US website The Intercept detailed the secretive 127e Pentagon programme with at least 14 operations across the Middle East and Asia Pacific region as recently as 2020.
In total, US commandos conducted 23 clandestine proxy wars across the world at a total cost of $310 million between 2017 and 2020, according to documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act.
Retired army general Joseph Votel, who headed both Special Operations Command and Central Command, confirmed the existence of previously unrevealed 127e “counterterrorism” efforts in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.
He told The Intercept that the 127e in Lebanon was codenamed Lion Hunter.
Mr Votel also acknowledged previously unknown 127e programmes in Syria; Yemen, known as Yukon Hunter; and Egypt, codenamed Enigma Hunter.
In Lebanon, the US entered a partnership with the G2 Strike Force, or G2SF, an elite special unit of the Lebanese military, the documents show.
A former senior defence official, who requested anonymity to discuss a classified programme, confirmed that an earlier version of the 127e programme had also been in place in Iraq.
Another secretive US mission was carried out in Tunisia under the code name Obsidian Tower which allied with local proxy forces in 2017.
The clandestine programme comes from the US Code Section 127e and was previously known to have been in operation across Africa, using “surrogate teams” in direct action and reconnaissance missions.
Under its auspices the Defence Secretary can spend up to $100 million during a fiscal year to support “foreign forces, irregular forces, groups, or individuals” combatting terrorism.
The obscure funding authority allows US commandos to conduct so-called counterterrorism operations “by, with and through” foreign and irregular partners across the world.
According to The Intercept, basic information about these missions — where they are conducted, their frequency and targets, and the foreign forces the US relies on to carry them out — are unknown even to most members of relevant congressional committees and key State Department personnel.
The Pentagon and Special Operations Command refused to comment on the 127e authority.
“We do not provide information about 127e programmes because they are classified,” Socom spokesman Ken McGraw said.
Critics of the 127e programme have warned that the operations could be unlawful and lack the congressional authorisation for overseas military operations required by the US Constitution.
Morning Star Online
This article was republished from Morning Star.
Election posters of Gustavo Petro, the new president of Colombia. Photo: Mauricio Dueñas Castañeda/EFE.
The alliance known as the Historic Pact (PH, or Pacto Historico) —a coalition of political forces, each with its own political and organic autonomy and independence— was formed for the purpose of winning the elections in order to defend the six following principles of their program:
At first, the PH was made up of seven parties: Humane Colombia, the Patriotic Union-Communist Party, Alternative Democratic Pole, the Alternative Indigenous and Social Movement (MAIS), the Workers Party of Colombia, Democratic Unity, and We Are All Colombia. The alliance’s first participation in legislative elections occurred on March 13, 2022.
The establishment of the National Congress is a key step that this alliance, which just found itself at the helm of the Colombian government, will have to take in order to deliver on its promises and guide the country towards addressing the problems which social movements in Colombia have been trying to solve for many years.
For the first time, since the formation of the new congress on the July 19, 16 victims of the armed conflict in Colombia are occupying six seats in the Chamber of Representatives, which have eight-year terms. These seats do not include the posts designated in both chambers for members of the Commons (Comunes) party, which is stipulated by the peace agreement and will expire in 2026.
The alliances for a national agreement
Once the results of the legislative elections were released, a number of dialogue sessions between the Historic Pact and other movements and political parties took place in order obtain more support for the alliance and thus be able to form a majority in Congress. The party led by the recently elected president, Gustavo Petro, obtained 20 seats in the Senate and 28 in the Chamber of Representatives, failing to obtain a majority. As a result of the negotiations, it now has the support of 64 of the 108 senators (59%) and 106 of the 188 representatives in the Chamber (56%).
The U Party recently joined the PH alliance, bringing with it 27 congresspeople (10 senators and 17 representatives), despite the fact that it is widely known that this party was founded to aid with the reelection of former President Álvaro Uribe in 2005. Furthermore, it is common knowledge that the U Party supported the peace agreement promoted by former President Santos, and that in 2018 they lent their support to Iván Duque.
For the first time in Colombia, the victims of the country’s internal armed conflict will have a voice and will be able to vote in Congress, thanks to the 16 newly appointed representatives, who come from the regions historically most affected by the violence (photo: AP Photo).
The alliance also managed to win over the support of both the Conservative Party, adding another 15 senators and 27 representatives in the Chamber, as well as the Radical Change party, bringing with it 11 and 18 senators and representatives, respectively. Despite the fact that the recently elected vice president, Francia Márquez, once called former President César Gaviria a “neoliberal,” the Colombian Liberal Party, which Gaviria represented, has also joined the PH bloc, adding another 14 senators and 33 representatives. The centrist Green Alliance, with 8 senators and 12 members of the Chamber, also followed suit.
Furthermore, the Independent Social Alliance (ASI), Commons, and other Indigenous and Afro-centered parties brought with them another 11 seats in the Senate and 7 in the Chamber of Representatives, while the Citizen’s Force and People in Movement party added another 2 senators, and 9 of the 16 representatives stipulated by the peace agreements.
In the meantime, the party of the outgoing government, Democratic Center (CD), founded by Uribe, obtained 13 and 16 senators and representatives, respectively. They have declared their opposition to “government policies that raise taxes” and have claimed they will defend the agricultural sector from expropriation and confiscatory taxation.
The former presidential candidate and business magnate Rodolfo Hernández, defeated by Petro, has stated via social media that “he is committed to the opposition.” In a meeting with the recently elected president of Congress, Roy Barreras, Hernández spoke of the creation of a new commission dedicated to promoting anti-corruption measures which, according to Barreras, will be presided over by Hernández, who is being investigated for corruption.
Starting off with an agenda of reforms
One of the first initiatives announced by the new congress is that of reforming the legislative branch itself. The PH bloc will try to lower the salary of congresspeople, reduce vacation time, widen the list of causes for which a congressperson may be dismissed from their post, and limit the term of congresspeople to three legislative periods. In the past, 13 attempts which sought to lower the wages of congresspeople have failed to be passed, not to mention the 4 unsuccessful attempts to modify their vacation time and the other 5 which were drafted to penalize absenteeism.
The congresspeople promoting these reforms are still discussing how much salaries should be lowered and when the project should be presented. The salary of a congressperson is currently $7,800 a month, more than 30 times the minimum salary in Colombia.
Before taking office, Senator Humberto de la Calle, a former commissioner of the Peace Accords, declared that the Colombian congress would be “progressive” due to the reforms promoted by the Petro administration in areas such as taxation, agriculture, politics, and many others. De la Calle and Daniel Carvalho, chosen by the Green Oxygen party, have announced that they will maintain an independent position with respect to the elected government of Gustavo Petro, specifying that they will support him on some legislative issues after the expulsion of his party for disagreements with the party founder, Ingrid Betancourt.
This past Monday, July 25, the Commons party, formerly known as FARC, pushed for several legislative projects to “promote peace agreements and to protect fundamental rights.” These proposals range from political and electoral reform to enable the construction of stable and long-lasting peace, to the differential legal treatment of small farmers who are, or were at some time, growing illegal crops.
Youth who have been reinserted into the labor force after forming part of the FARC, the ELN, and the AUC are being trained to be fruit growing technicians in the Valle del Cauca through a government-supported plan in conjunction with private companies and organizations from abroad (photo: Pixabay).
Similarly, these proposals attempt to work towards reforms, together with farm workers, in the fields of politics, electoral law, electoral oversight, differential penal treatment, guarantees of the right to protest, agrarian jurisdiction, and national parks. During a press conference, they evoked the 333 signatories of the Peace Accords who were later murdered as evidence of the lack of humanitarian guarantees in the country, and doubled down on their intention of solving the humanitarian crisis affecting farm workers, former guerrilla fighters, indigenous communities, afro-descendant peoples, and urban areas during the Iván Duque government, which ignored these social problems.
Another item on the agenda, passed on Tuesday, July 26, is the ratification by Congress of the Escazú Agreement, signed by the Colombian state. It was very difficult to push this agreement forward, due to the doubts and objections of various factions, such as the Democratic Center and Conservative Party congresspersons, as well as other sectors, with regards to its possible effects on development projects in Colombia.
The agreement is designed to fight against inequality and discrimination while guaranteeing the rights of everyone to a healthy environment and to sustainable development, with special attention paid to ethnic groups and civil society. Three key aspects are emphasized in the struggle for these goals: access to public information, the participation of citizens in decisions which pertain to them, and environmental justice.
In response, CD Senator María Fernanda Cabal, herself the object of many scandals, retorted that “just like they did in Chile, in Colombia, Petro will pass the Escazú Agreement, which will put an end to judicial sovereignty and juridic order. The 2030 agenda is starting to be implemented, it destroys everything, under the disguise of just causes.”
The key to stage managing this government
When there were still doubts about whether or not the economist [Petro] could govern as the first leftist president, when his links to guerrilla organizations, the distrust in the barracks, the market, the press, and the balance in Congress, all seemed like bad omens, certain recent developments in Colombian politics are indicative of something else.
Petro’s popularity is on the rise, his approval rating rose to 64% after the July 19 elections, the highest of a Colombian head of state since 2005; more than Uribe, with his landmark wins in 2002 and 2006, and almost the same as Juan Manuel Santos in 2010. Petro has kept his two allies, the congressmen Roy Barreras and David Rocero, as presidents of the Senate and Chamber of Representatives, respectively.
In spite of this, the tension has disappeared: during the taking of office of the new congress this past July 20, the senators and representatives brought signs with them displaying their demands during the next four years, and which were also directed at the outgoing government. The Historic Pact thus recalled all of the social leaders and murdered former combatants, while the Uribismo factions, the only opposition party, showed images of dead members of the public armed forces and posters with the message “two visions, one country,” alongside with images of the destruction which resulted from last year’s protests.
Outgoing President Iván Duque was booed by the opposition, which also showed posters with the faces of murdered social leaders, while Duque gave the welcoming speech to a Congress whose majority were opposed to his government (Foto: Juan Pablo Pino/AFP). All in all, there are indicators that point to the possibility of Petro managing to maintain a stable government during the next four years. He has made symbolic and meticulously announced appointments to ministries and embassies, some of which are:
With these measures, Petro is trying to reactivate the peace process, which was partially put on the back burner by Iván Duque, and to moderate his image as a leftist. In this regard, some of his appointments have cast doubt on the authenticity of the promises made by the Historic Pact.
Relations with the US are another key factor that will determine the future of this government. On the 23 of July, Petro, Murillo and Leyva met, in Colombia, with officials from the Biden Administration to review the free trade agreement and other issues such as peace, migration and climate change.
The way in which the political panorama has unfolded before Petro foreshadows a period of stability for his government, yet the future of his project will also be determined by the economic conditions left by the current government. The opening of the so called “Petro coalition” to a wide spectrum of political, social, academic, and intelectual “forces” has made the country more confident in him and has smoothed over the negative perceptions which surrounded his political image.
The rolling out of a Great National Agreement has helped these distinct perspectives, which could easily have fallen into the role of the opposition, to integrate themselves into this diverse coalition without fusing them into a homogeneous mass, while still maintaining common goals. The words of Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, spoken in 1946, are more relevant than ever:
“In Colombia there are two sides of the country: a political side and a national one. The political one thinks about its employees, its mechanics and its power, the national side things about work, health, and culture, things that are neglected by the political side. These two sides have different paths. What a drama in the history of a people!”
The Historic Pact is calling for a peace obtained through the collective will of the people and the renovation of the system at a moment when the current model and the political class are exhausted. The PH has put all of its chips on reaching a consensus in order to address these issues, but it will be anything but easy in Colombia.
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
Misión Verdad is a Venezuelan investigative journalism website with a socialist perspective in defense of the Bolivarian Revolution
Life expectancy in Swaziland, in southern Africa, is the world’s seventh lowest; its HIV/AIDS prevalence is the world’s highest, at 26%. Unemployment is 41%, and wages for 80% of workers are less than $2 per day. Swaziland is an autocracy headed by a king, and it’s social and economic indicators show that the people are suffering under royal rule.
A Communist Party has existed in Swaziland since 2011, even though political parties are illegal there. Many activists, including Communists, are forced to live abroad, mainly in South Africa. What follows in this article is information about the Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS), its activities and goals, aspects of Swazi history, and current realities. The CPS urgently needs international solidarity.
Its recent story begins in early May 2021 with the mysterious death, presumably at police hands, of law student Thabani Nkomonye. The police violently disrupted his memorial services.
The National Union of Students mobilized masses of young people, and the police retaliated repeatedly with tear gas and bullets. Amid the uprising, the CPS called for legalization of political parties, overthrow of the “tinkhundla system” of control by chiefs in rural areas, and removal of the king.
During May and into June, the National Union of Students organized additional marches; 3,000 students advancing on a police station were met with tear gas and arrests. Anti-government protesters prevented 30,000 textile workers from entering their factories. The government responded by banning demonstrations.
The CPS called for a National Democracy Conference at which “a common minimum program could be achieved for transform[ing] the state from a monarchy into a republic.” Due to government repression an opposition division, no conference materialized. Writing a year later, analyst Joseph Mullen explains:
“In this moment…the anti-monarchy forces were themselves deeply divided. While the CPS represented the radical force pushing for the abolition of the monarchy and the prosecution of the King, some opposition forces expressed willingness to settle for a constitutional monarchy with an elected government…. They afforded too much power to bourgeois forces, who sought simply to reform the monarchy.”
Anti-government protests, continuing for weeks, climaxed on June 29, 2021. Swazi police and soldiers initiated violent repression. Within days, 70 people were dead and hundreds wounded.
Nationwide agitation returned almost a year later as opposition groups prepared for the one-year anniversary of the massacre. The CPS, playing a leading role, was targeted early. The police captured and tortured member Bongi Nkumbula on March 23. On July 13, they were again surrounding and approaching his house, but he escaped.
CPS cadres organized weekly “sunset rallies.” They urged communities to form “security councils” to protect against police incursions and organized “welfare councils” to deal with unmet housing, food, education, and healthcare needs.
In cooperation with the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) and the Multi-Stakeholder Forum, “a platform of political parties, trade unions, civil society and other groups,” the CPS carried out vigils, set barricades, and called for schools and businesses to be closed on June 29, the anniversary day.
Police attacks continued. Security “forces shot live bullets at CPS members and activists” on June 26. Descending on sections of Mastapha municipality on June 28, they raided two houses CPS members were using as organizing centers.
The anniversary passed without killings, as was the case with an earlier period of turmoil connected to the party’s experience. In 2011, days of anti-government agitation by students, unions, and democracy organizations anticipated the fateful day of April 12. That was the day in 1973 when King Sobhuza II, father of the present king, banned political parties and repealed the constitution the British colonial power had granted in 1968. He ruled thereafter by decree. The CPS chose April 11, 2011, as the day for announcing its presence in Swaziland.
King Sobhuza II officially ruled from 1899 until he died in 1982, though he only assumed full powers in 1921, as he was only four months old at the time he assumed the throne. His reign is the longest of any monarch in human history. On becoming king in 1986, his son, Mswati III, reinstated parliament. His government devised a constitution that went into effect in 2006 and continues. It gives the king power to appoint the prime minister, cabinet, all judges, two thirds of the upper-house members, and 12% of lower-house members. The remaining legislators require approval from tribal chiefs, who are themselves appointed by the king. A harsh Suppression of Terrorism Act took effect in 2008.
A writer in 2011 summarizes: The Swazi monarchy “crushed the ambitions of all Swazis, [except for] a small parasitic elite based within the monarchy. The ambitions of the middle classes were curtailed by banning political parties and those of the working classes by suppressing the labor movement. The monarchy also enhanced its power grip…by controlling mineral royalties, business, and land administration.”
According to MRonline.org, “the royal family receives a 25% cut of all the mining deals…and as of 2016 has a budget of $69.8 million. The King, Mswati, has a net worth of $200 million and he controls a trust worth $10 billion.”
The Swaziland monarchy has enjoyed absolute power for centuries, even during the period of European colonial domination during the late 19th century. A British commissioner governed Swaziland from 1902 until Swazi independence in 1968. Even so, the monarchy exercised complete control over 33% of Swaziland known as the “native reserve.” On April 19, 2018, the 50th anniversary of Swazi independence, King Mswati III renamed Swaziland. Now, officially, it’s “the Kingdom of Eswatini.”
The People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), formed in 1983 and a member of the Socialist International, plays a major role in Swazi opposition politics. Others are: the Political Parties Assembly, the Ngwane National Liberatory Congress, the Economic Freedom Fighters of Swaziland, and the Swaziland Liberation Movement.
The United States, Taiwan, and a few other nations provide the monarchy with military supplies. Two Taiwan-supplied and U.S.- built helicopters were used for firing upon protesters in June 2021. The United States annually hosts 15 Swazi police officers at its International Law Enforcement Academy in Botswana and trains security personnel in the United States. The U.S.-based World Bank and Taiwan have provided Swaziland with generous loans. Swaziland is the only African country that recognizes Taiwan diplomatically.
South Africa’s government loaned 355 million euros to the cash-strapped monarchy in 2011 and maintains supportive relations. Swaziland looks to South Africa for 85% of its imports and 60% of its exports. The Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party have expressed support for democracy efforts in Swaziland.
CPS goals and strategies are evident in the statement the party issued on its first appearance in Swaziland in 2011. These sections are revealing:
“We join Swaziland’s mass democratic movement for change and pledge our full support to building that movement, led by PUDEMO, to bring about a National Democratic Revolution in Swaziland…. [But] We do not want see the monarchic autocracy reformed or dressed in democratic trappings to appease the liberal sensibilities of any interest group or the imperialist international community.”
The CPS calls for the “ending of the monarchic autocracy and the transfer of much of its wealth to the immediate tasks of fighting disease and the worst aspects of poverty (such as access to water and sanitation) [and] the confiscation of all crown property.”
Also: the “demand for democracy [as] a first step in an ongoing struggle to set our country on a totally different development path towards meeting all the needs of our people and creating a socialist system.”
In a statement appearing on Solidnet.org on July 6, 2021, the CPS urged Communist Parties of the world to pay attention to “news of what is happening in our country, to pressure the authorities in your respective countries to condemn the Mswati regime, … to lobby South Africa … to take more decisive positions against the lack of democracy and human rights in Swaziland.”
Our concluding emphasis is on Swaziland’s youth. They are many. Of 1.18 million Swazi people, 36.6% are less than 15 years of age. Young people have loomed large in opposing the regime, especially activist youth organizations like the National Union of Students and the Swaziland Youth Congress, PUDEMO’s youth group.
A report appearing on the CPS website highlights the plight of young people. Students had refused to take university exams. They claimed inability to study due to economic hardship. University authorities postponed the exams, but backtracked. Students protested, the police attacked, and the students sat for the exams on July 4. Afterwards, student Sphelele returned to his room and killed himself. The report notes that eight Swazi university students have recently committed suicide.
The CPS reporter cites the Condition of the Working Class in England (1845), written by “Comrade Frederick Engels.” He quotes:
“[O]nce a system has placed the working class under conditions in which they can neither retain health nor live long, and thus gradually undermine the vital force of the working class, little by little, and so hurry them to the grave before their time, such is nothing but social murder.”
W.T. Whitney Jr. is a political journalist whose focus is on Latin America, health care, and anti-racism. A Cuba solidarity activist, he formerly worked as a pediatrician, lives in rural Maine. W.T. Whitney Jr. es un periodista político cuyo enfoque está en América Latina, la atención médica y el antirracismo. Activista solidario con Cuba, anteriormente trabajó como pediatra, vive en la zona rural de Maine.
This article was republished from People's World.
Former CIA director James Woolsey Photo: Christopher Michel / Creative Commons
FORMER CIA director James Woolsey has admitted that the US “interferes” in elections in other countries to protect its interests.
He made the candid remarks during an interview with Fox News presenter Laura Ingraham on Saturday.
Asked whether the US “meddles in other countries elections,” the former CIA chief replied: “Oh probably, but it was for the good of the system in order to prevent the communists from taking over.”
Mr Woolsey cited Greece and Italy in the years following World War II as examples of how the US has intervened to prevent communist parties from coming to power.
“We don’t mess around,” he told the Fox News host.
Nazi collaborators known as the Holy Bond of Greek Officers were handed $1 million (worth approx £13.7m today) annually by the CIA to prevent the country coming under the influence of the Soviet Union.
Greece was an integral part of the Nato military alliance, with the Mountain Raiding Companies acting as part of its so-called stay-behind teams which crushed leftist groups across Europe.
The Greek Communist Party was banned and the country was ruled by right-wing dictatorships for decades until an uprising finally overthrew the military junta in 1974.
When pressed on whether the US continues to interfere in elections today Mr Woolsey laughed and said: “Only for a very good cause and in the interest of democracy.”
The former CIA chief’s admission comes a week after former US national security adviser John Bolton confirmed Washington’s involvement in coups, including plans to overthrow the Venezuelan government.
Venezuela branded the former Trump aide “a psychopath.”
This article was republished from Morning Star.