In April, the UN’s climate scientists warned it’s “now or never” to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. You can almost hear them screaming at their keyboards, desperate for governments to actually do something, when they outline the need for “rapid, deep and immediate” cuts in CO2 emissions. But their words are not just a warning about the future; they describe the present reality for billions of people.
South Asia is now into its third month of extreme heat, with temperatures soaring above 40 degrees Celsius day after day. And it’s not just South Asia that is sweltering. In March, both the Arctic and the Antarctic were 30 degrees Celsius and 40 degrees Celsius above their usual average temperatures, respectively. Ice is melting, and sea levels are rising. Thirty million people were displaced by climate shocks in 2020. And these shocks store up more strife to come by wrecking harvests.
The supply chains that connect the world’s farms, mines, factories, shipping lanes, ports, warehouses, delivery networks and consumers are already massively disrupted, even before the full effects of climate breakdown are felt. In the heavily integrated global capitalist economy, disruption spells disaster. Already, more than 800 million people—1 in 10 people of the entire world’s population—go to bed hungry.
The price of wheat has doubled already this year. And it could rise further as the effects of Russia’s criminal invasion of Ukraine and Russia’s resulting partial economic isolation are felt across the globe.
Wars lead to hunger, mental distress, misery and death for years after the fighting stops. There must be an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine, the withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukrainian territory and a negotiated settlement between the two countries.
If there isn’t, then not only will the Ukrainian people continue to face the horror of shells, tanks and air raid sirens; not only will Ukrainian refugees suffer uncertain futures and dislocation from their families and communities; not only will young Russian conscripts be sent off to be brutalized in the army and die in a foreign land for a war they don’t understand; not only will Russian people suffer under sanctions; not only will the people of Egypt, Somalia, Laos, Sudan and many others who rely on wheat from the belligerent nations continue facing rising hunger.
But everyone on earth faces the threat of nuclear Armageddon if the war in Ukraine continues. The threat of direct confrontation between Russian and NATO forces is a clear and present danger to all of us. That’s why it is so important that we support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which is now part of international law thanks to inspiring campaigning by countries in the Global South.
It will not be easy. Weapons companies do extremely well out of war. They fund politicians and think tanks. They have their many media mouthpieces. Those who strive for peace and justice are vilified because behind conflict stand the interests of the war machine. They threaten the ill-gotten wealth and power of the few.
We see it with painful clarity in the pandemic as Big Pharma refuses to share vaccine technology that was mainly developed with public funds. Who benefits? The pharma executives and shareholders. Who loses? Everyone else. More mothers and fathers die. More livelihoods are wrecked. And the threat of viral mutation hangs over everyone, vaccinated and unvaccinated alike.
The state is used to prop up the wealth of the richest. Central banks pumped in $9 trillion in 2020 in response to the pandemic. The result? Billionaire wealth went up by 50 percent in one year, when at the same time the world economy shrank. The billionaires and corporations claim to hate government action. In reality, they love it. The only thing they hate is governments acting in your interests. And so, they fight to keep governments in their pocket and try to overthrow those that aren’t.
When we step back and survey all of these dynamics, a truth dawns on us. We used to think that there were a series of distinct crises: the climate crisis, the refugee crisis, the housing shortage crisis, the debt crisis, the inequality crisis, the crisis of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. We tried to isolate each one and solve it.
Now we can see that we don’t face multiple separate crises. The system itself is the crisis. The global system is not in a crisis that can be resolved. The system is crisis and must be overcome, replaced and transformed.
The end of the world is already here—it is just unevenly distributed. The image of apocalypse—bombs and raids, oil spills and wildfires, disease and contagion—is a reality for people across the planet.
The periphery is the future, not the past. We were told that developed countries give the developing world an image of their future. But the periphery sits at the vanguard of history—where the crises of capitalism hit hardest, the consequences of climate collapse arrive the quickest, and the call to resist them rings the loudest.
That resistance is powerful and inspiring. The world recently witnessed the largest strike in history when Indian farmers and their worker allies resisted the neoliberal bills that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government wanted to force through their parliament. The farmers stood up for themselves, their livelihoods and the needs of the poor. And they won.
Or take Amazon, the world’s sixth-largest company, which has made record profits during the pandemic. Its greed and exploitation are being fiercely resisted by workers, communities and activists on every continent in the world. They have come together to make Amazon pay.
In Latin America, the people are rallying to support progressive political leaders to say no more to the domination by imperialism, the destruction of their communities and the abuse of their environments.
But it’s not enough to just resist. We have to build a new world brimming with life, bound by love and powered by popular sovereignty.
How do we do that? We strengthen workers and rural workers in their struggles against exploitation, support people and communities in their fights for dignity and join progressive forces to mobilize state power. And we bring them all together into powerful people’s alliances with the capacity to remake the world. If we do that, we will breed hope over despair.
So I want you to commit today: Double your efforts in the struggles you are involved in. Join that campaign you’ve been thinking about joining. Show that real solidarity.
I want you to be able to look back in a generation’s time and say, yes, I built the trade unions, the community organizations, the social movements, the campaigns, the parties, the international platforms that turned the tide.
I want you to be able to say, yes, we produced and distributed the food, homes and health care so no one endures poverty; preserved and shared the wisdom of the people of this planet; spread love between people and communities; built the energy system to decarbonize our planet; dismantled the war machine and supported refugees; reined in the power of the billionaires; and secured a new international economic order.
Will it be easy? Of course not. We will face enormous resistance. Of course we will.
But, as the great and wonderful Chilean poet Pablo Neruda once wrote, “You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot stop spring from coming.”
And spring, my friends, is coming.
Adapted from Jeremy Corbyn’s inaugural speech to the Progressive International’s Summit at the End of the World on May 12, 2022.
This article was produced by Globetrotter.
Swedish Minister of Foreígn Affairs Ann Linde poses for photographers as she signs Sweden's application for Nato membership at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Stockholm, Tuesday, May 17 2022
THE SWEDISH Communist Party (SKP) has slammed the decision of the ruling Social Democratic Party to back the country’s membership of the Nato military alliance announced on Monday.
It said the stunning policy reversal which ends 200 years of neutrality is linked to the aspirations of Swedish capital to secure its sphere of influence and defend its investments abroad.
“It is inevitable that the contradictions within the entire capitalist-imperialist system are intensifying and each country’s capital seeks the most profitable investments and the best conditions for its growth,” the communists said.
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson announced that her party had dropped its long-standing opposition to Nato membership in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and was seeking accession as soon as possible.
But the SKP said the decision was in breach of her own party’s Congress decisions, including a statement passed as recently as November 2021 which described military non-alignment as “a foundation of Sweden’s security policy.”
The SDP was resolute on the threat posed by Nato membership and firmly ruled out joining the imperialist bloc.
“Of course, the security policy situation has changed,” the communists said. “The Swedish investments abroad are now more threatened than 10 years ago because the contradictions have been sharpened.
“That is why Swedish politicians act to defend their own investments and they cannot do it by themselves. So, it's pretty simple: When the capital calls, congressional decisions mean nothing.”
Finnish communists voiced similar opposition to Helsinki’s plans to join Nato warning that it places the country at risk of war and would deepen regional militarisation.
However the membership aspirations of both countries are opposed by Turkey which is threatening to veto their accession.
Ankara accuses Sweden and Finland of harbouring terrorists, linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Turkey has demanded the extradition of a number of alleged PKK supporters, security guarantees and an end to an arms embargo in return for its support.
Steve Sweeney writes for the Morning Star, the socialist daily newspaper published in Great Britain. He is also a People's Assembly National Committee member, patron of the Peace in Kurdistan campaign, and a proud trade unionist.
This article was republished from Morning Star.
CENSORING PALESTINE: SWARMS OF ISRAELI BOTS ARE CRIPPLING PRO-PALESTINIAN TWITTER ACCOUNTS. By: Jessica BuxbaumRead Now
Feature photo | MintPress News | AP
OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM — On April 29, Inès Abdel Razek woke up to 80 new Twitter followers.
“These accounts were following the exact same people that were tweeting about Palestine, but from France or Francophone accounts that work on Palestine,” Razek said of her new followers.
The advocacy director of Rābet, the Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy’s digital platform, became wary of the issue after Abier Khateb, a grants manager at Open Society Foundations, reported mass followings as well.
Razek told MintPress News that she began individually reporting each account as fake but kept her own account open — lest she let the alleged bots win. But after a few days, Razek made her profile private. At the peak of the mass following, Razek had accumulated 400 fake followers.
From the end of April through the first few weeks of May, more than 40 pro-Palestine Twitter accounts reported mass followings. Digital-rights experts say acquiring huge amounts of fake followers triggers Twitter’s algorithm and can lead to the tech giant suspending an account, effectively censoring users by forcing them to make their accounts private.
These accounts included those belonging to human rights and activist organizations Adalah, Combatants for Peace, Breaking the Silence, and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights. They also included news publications and journalists, like The Palestine Chronicle, Ali Abunimah and Hind Al-Eryani; and politicians, such as Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Kingdom. Twitter did not respond to MintPress inquiries on the source of the suspicious accounts.
Dr. Marc Owen Jones, an assistant professor at Hamad bin Khalifa University, conducted an analysis that found more than 1,150 fake accounts. Twitter deleted approximately 1,090 of these accounts, according to Jones. His analysis determined that the average account-creation time was one to three per minute, suggesting these accounts were created using an automated process.
The profiles were in various languages, including French, Spanish, English and German, but usually had Arabic bios. They often had strange names — like Noble Betty Thomas — and zero followers.
“They had clearly made-up names,” Sarah Leah Whitson, who also experienced a large influx of new followers, told MintPress. “The vast majority of them had Israeli names and Israeli addresses. Some of them had made-up Arab names, which were mangled. It’s clear that they’re [using] stolen images of people.”
In response to the bulk followings, software developer Daniel Easterman created a free script to automatically report and block hundreds of these bots for users.
Easterman said the spamming problem has a censorship effect by forcing users to make their accounts private. “This means they won’t be able to distribute their messages widely as they would normally,” Easterman told MintPress News.
Another area of particular concern is how a flood of fake followers may cause Twitter to shut down an account. “When you see such a dramatic increase in followers, it’s usually somebody manipulating the system for commercial gain,” Easterman said. “So that could trigger Twitter to automatically flag that as suspicious activity and suspend the activist’s account.”
Using Twitter to target human rights defenders and journalists isn’t unusual. In 2017, journalist Iona Craig and others who report on Yemen were spammed with thousands of fake followers. Many speculated the culprits were state entities belonging to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The reason behind this particular mass following campaign remains unknown. Jones hypothesized it’s acting as a form of social media suppression, writing on Twitter:
"Some suggest it’s a means to degrade the algorithmic quality of a Twitter account so that it possibly gets suspended; some suggest it’s others trying to boost popularity of an account. When it’s unsolicited, as in this case, I tend to think it’s more of a targeting operation. I am naturally cynical, but most people who get a sudden influx of fake followers feel unnerved and uncomfortable. If that fact is widely known, it functions as a tool of surveillance and potentially intimidation (e.g., you are being watched). It also makes many people mute their accounts for a bit which has a censorship effect.”
Razek, Whitson, and others told MintPress that the flood of fake followers appears to be diminishing for them. However, a new operation has emerged.
In the past week, Jones found around 2,800 fake accounts following pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist accounts who have recently been tweeting on the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu-Akleh.
“This network is likely the same as the one found at [the] end of April, although now it is active,” Jones wrote on Twitter.
The accounts have between 0 to 20 followers, with the majority of bios written in English and simply stating the account location, which is Israel. Most accounts don’t have a banner picture and the profile pictures have purportedly been swiped from real people.
According to Jones, the accounts have begun liking and retweeting posts, without any real partisan regularity: they like both pro- and anti-Palestinian subject matter and follow both pro-Zionist and pro-Palestinian accounts but appear to target the pro-Palestinian side more. Accounts targeted include The Jerusalem Post; the government of Israel’s official state account; activist organization Jewish Voice for Peace; the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement; Israeli journalist Ilan Pappe; and former Palestinian Liberation Organization executive committee member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi.
Again, the reason for the bulk followers remains unclear. “Those who get followed understandably find it intimidating, as if a form of surveillance or a technique to try and degrade [the] quality of an account with low-quality follows,” Jones wrote on Twitter. “The fact remains, these are clearly fake accounts and ruin the experience of Twitter.”
CENSORSHIP OF PALESTINE, AN ONGOING PROBLEM
Palestinian digital-rights experts have long decried the increasing censorship of Palestinian content online. During Israel’s assault on Gaza and the upticks in Israeli attacks at Al-Aqsa Compound and in Sheikh Jarrah in May 2021, Palestinian activists reported social media companies were removing their content on Israeli violence and ethnic cleansing for violating community guidelines.
The social media censorship didn’t stop when tensions died down over the summer, though. Last month, social media users in Jordan said their posts related to Israeli violence at Al-Aqsa were taken down and their accounts blocked. Additionally, accounts belonging to Palestinian news publications covering the violence in occupied East Jerusalem and at Al-Aqsa were deactivated by Facebook.
In their recent monthly report on social media violations, Palestinian NGO Sada Social stated the deletion of Palestinian content “is in line with and in response to Israeli requests to tighten the screws on Palestinians and their media.”
Palestinian-American model Bella Hadid also accused Instagram of shadow-banning (having content viewership limited) her pro-Palestinian content during Ramadan.
Razek suggested the swarm of fake followers on Twitter may be an extension of Instagram’s alleged shadow-banning. “The purpose is to pollute our algorithms and make our accounts less visible. So in the way that Instagram is shadow-banning some content, this could be a way that Twitter shadow-bans our content,” she said.
While the identities behind the fake followers haven’t been revealed, many have pointed to Israel. The Israeli government’s targeting of Palestinian digital content is well-documented. According to 7amleh – The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media, the Israeli Ministry of Justice Cyber Unit sends content-removal requests aimed at Palestinian content to social media companies such as Facebook, Google, and YouTube. The Justice Ministry has boasted these corporations comply with 95% of their requests. And Israeli governmental organizations and NGOs also encourage their citizens to flag Palestinian content for removal.
ATTACKING FREE SPEECH
Tech billionaire Elon Musk’s pending purchase of Twitter came with a promise of securing free speech on the digital platform. “Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” the self-declared free-speech advocate said in a statement about his Twitter deal.
While digital-rights experts like Jones are wary of Musk’s potential Twitter takeover, Whitson, who’s experienced targeted attacks, harassment, and censorship threats for decades for speaking out against Israeli abuses, views the buyout positively. For the executive director of nonprofit Democracy for the Arab World (DAWN), the risk of corporate censorship is a bigger issue than online hate speech. Whitson said:
"I’m hopeful that Elon Musk will be true to his word to protect and promote free speech and to end concerted efforts to target and cancel speech that we don’t like. Seeing how Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have launched systematic efforts to silence pro-Palestine activist voices, I’m very wary of corporate moderators deciding what speech is and isn’t acceptable.”
Whitson doesn’t agree the bots are a form of censorship, but she does see them as an assault on free speech. “It’s a form of targeted harassment and bullying,” she said. “It’s a targeted attack on people who are speaking freely, including journalists and human rights activists.”
Jessica Buxbaum is a Jerusalem-based journalist for MintPress News covering Palestine, Israel, and Syria. Her work has been featured in Middle East Eye, The New Arab and Gulf News.
This article was republished from Mintpress News.
Climate change is the result of a deadly calculus: human lives are worth risking and even losing over the profits of global corporations.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recently dropped a bombshell announcement that should have garnered news headlines in the major global and U.S. media, but did not. New WMO research concludes that “[t]here is a 50:50 chance of the annual average global temperature temporarily reaching 1.5 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial level for at least one of the next five years.”
WMO Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas explained, “The 1.5 degree Celsius figure is not some random statistic. It is rather an indicator of the point at which climate impacts will become increasingly harmful for people and indeed the entire planet.”
In 2015, the likelihood of reaching that threshold within five years was nearly zero. In 2017 it was 10 percent, and today it is 50 percent. As we continue to spew greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in dizzying amounts, that percentage spikes with every passing year and will soon reach 100 percent certainty.
When average global temperatures hit the tipping point of 1.5 degrees Celsius, climate scientists predict that most of the Earth’s coral reefs will die off. At 2 degrees Celsius, all will die off. This is the reason why United Nations members coalesced around staving off an average global temperature rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius at the last global climate gathering in 2021.
The planet has already heated up by 1.1 degrees Celsius, and the consequences are dire across the globe.
India is experiencing its worst heat wave in 122 years, and neighboring Pakistan has broken a 61-year-old record for high temperatures. Dozens of people have already died as a result of the extreme heat.
In France, farmers “can see the earth cracking every day,” as a record-breaking drought has thrown the country’s agricultural industry into crisis mode.
Here in the United States, across the central and northeastern parts of the country, there is a heat wave so large and so severe that people from Texas to Maine experienced triple-digit temperatures in May.
Even the wealthy enclave of Laguna Niguel in Orange County, Southern California, is on fire, and dozens of homes have been destroyed. Although moneyed elites have far more resources to remain protected from the deadly impacts of climate change compared to the rest of us, occasionally even their homes are in the path of destruction, indicating that nowhere on Earth will be safe on a catastrophically warming planet.
Ironically, as extreme heat waves become more likely with global warming, humans will burn more fossil fuels to power the air conditioning they need to cool off and survive, thereby fueling the very phenomenon that leads to more extreme heat waves.
In such a scenario, it is a massive no-brainer for the world to quickly and without delay transition to renewable energy sources. Instead, President Joe Biden in April announced the sale of new leases for oil and gas companies to drill on public lands, reneging on his campaign platform’s climate pledges.
Biden did so apparently in order to increase domestic fuel supplies and thereby lower gas prices. He also raised the percentage of royalties that companies pay the federal government from 12.5 percent to 18.75 percent. But no amount of dollars saved by consumers or earned in royalties by the federal government can halt the laws of physics and protect the climate.
The New York Times’s Lisa Friedman explained, “The burning of fossil fuels extracted from public land and in federal waters accounts for 25 percent of the greenhouse gases generated by the United States, which is the planet’s second biggest polluter, behind China.” Here is one area where the federal executive branch has control, and yet financial considerations have been dictating responses rather than existential ones.
After climate activists vocally denounced the move, Biden did finally cancel the drilling leases for Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. The Interior Department cited a “lack of industry interest” and “conflicting court rulings,” rather than pressure from activists, as the reason for the cancellation. Regardless, it is a small measure of relief for a planet that is on its way to burning to a crisp.
While Biden (and other lawmakers) claim they are driven by rising inflation and the impact of high gas prices on voters’ pocket books, it turns out the public doesn’t actually want a glut of oil and gas to help lower costs.
A new poll by the National Surveys on Energy and the Environment found that there is no longer skepticism among the public that the effects of climate change are real, as 76 percent of respondents—the highest on record since the poll started—“believe there is solid evidence that temperatures on the planet have risen over the last four decades.”
The poll also notably concluded that “Americans continue to favor reducing greenhouse gas emissions as their preferred approach for staving off the worst impacts of climate change,” and that they “remain skeptical of any pivot from mitigation toward climate policy that prioritizes adaptation, use of geoengineering or subterranean carbon storage.”
So, rather than invest in mitigating climate change or adapting to it—which is what market-driven economies favor—people, sensibly, want to stop the planet from warming in the first place.
Still, there is growing concern among climate scientists that it may already be too late for a transition to renewables. In spite of energy sources like solar and wind becoming rapidly cheaper and more accessible, overall energy consumption is increasing about as fast, as per one recent study. Mark Diesendorf, the author of the study, explained, “it is simply impossible for renewable energy to overtake that retreating target. And that’s no fault of renewable energy. It’s the fault of the growth in consumption and the fact that action has been left too late.”
Because corporate profit-based considerations have constantly dictated our energy use and climate policies, we have effectively decided that major sacrifices of lives—most likely poor people of color—will be worth the pain of relying on fossil fuels for energy.
There is an analogy to be found in the COVID-19 pandemic. For months, scientists sounded the alarm over prevention, endorsing lockdowns, masks, and vaccines to stop the spread of the deadly virus, just as climate scientists issued warnings against global warming for decades. Both science-based campaigns faced uphill battles, each with its own challenges in recommending the most rational guidelines to maximize public safety in spite of financial sacrifices (closing down most businesses and restaurants and canceling major sporting and entertainment events, in the case of COVID-19; promoting solar power subsidies, switching to wind energy, and manufacturing hybrid and electric vehicles, in the case of the climate crisis). All the while, corporate interests and right-wing political opportunists successfully pushed their own agenda in the halls of power, insisting that economic growth was the most important consideration.
Today, even as COVID-19 infection rates are skyrocketing, with cases having risen by 58 percent in the last two weeks alone, mask mandates are being dropped all over the country and COVID-19-related restrictions are ending. This is not because the virus is under control—it is clearly not—but because it’s no longer financially viable for corporate America to sacrifice profits for lives. So, it will sacrifice lives for profit--just as is the case with the climate crisis.
It is worth spelling out this equation so that we know where we are headed.
As the climate changes, we begin to see where the bodies are buried—literally. Water levels in Nevada’s Lake Mead have fallen so dramatically that the remains of at least two human bodies were recently discovered. What other disturbing discoveries are in store for us?
Sonali Kolhatkar is the founder, host and executive producer of “Rising Up With Sonali,” a television and radio show that airs on Free Speech TV and Pacifica stations. She is a writing fellow for the Economy for All project at the Independent Media Institute.
This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.
I was asked by a few comrades to explain Marx’s concept of the fetishism of commodities, and with that, the main ways it has been misunderstood by both mainstream bourgeois academia and by well-meaning Marxists. The following short reflection attempts to do just that.
Marx begins section four of the first chapter of Capital by saying that “a commodity appears, at first sight, a very trivial thing;” however, “its analysis shows that it is, in reality, a very queer thing, abounding in metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties” (Marx, 71). I can imagine ‘bourgeois’ political economists reading this in 1867 wondering what the hell is ‘queer’ about a commodity? I can envision them asking “what in the world does a commodity, a category of political economy, have to do with metaphysics and theology?” Before I analyze what Marx means, let us look at some of the things he doesn’t mean, but which, as usual, people think he does.
There are a few ways the commodity fetish is misunderstood, but the most prominent misunderstanding describes the fetishism of commodities as a sort of ‘false consciousness’ which takes us over when we engage in the market; a sort of ‘illusion’ that occurs when we idealize the products we consume, or the products we are faced with the opportunity to consume. The commodity fetish is understood here as a sort of libidinal connection to products. It is as if one could watch Confessions of a Shopaholic and retrieve the same message Marx is proposing in this section.
This is not, in my view, what Marx means by the fetishism of commodities. It is not an illusion which functions as a filter to distort our view of the world. If that were the case, as Michael Heinrich notes, “false consciousness must disappear once the real conditions have been explained” (Heinrich, 71). This is not, however, the case. We don’t become immune to the ‘false consciousness’ of the commodity fetish after reading Marx’s Capital. Instead of thinking of the commodity fetish as a subjective experience of ‘false consciousness,’ Marx holds the fetish is in the world itself. It has an objective presence in the social relations of capitalist commodity production.
Marx uses the example of the construction of a table. When wood is formed into a table, there is no mystery present. We have a “common, every-day thing” (Marx, 71). However, “so soon as it steps forth as a commodity, it is changed into something transcendent” (Ibid – my italic). Notice here how he is very explicit that it is the object itself that is changed into something transcendent when it becomes a commodity. It isn’t, again, simply a matter of a mental illusion or false consciousness.
“The mystical character of a commodity,” Marx will go on to say, “does not originate, therefore, in their use-value” (Ibid). If it was simply a result of the use value of the good, all things – regardless of whether they were commodities or not – would have ‘metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties.’ Instead, what makes a commodity such a queer thing is the relation which makes a good into a commodity in the first place – its exchangeability. It is here where a good becomes a sinnlich übersinnliches ding (sensuous extrasensory thing). As Marx says: “whence, then, arises the enigmatic character of the product of labour, so soon as it assumes the form of commodities? Clearly from this form itself” (Ibid, 71-2).
For a good to carry an ‘exchange value’ means that the specific type of concrete labor and materials which were necessary to create that good have fallen to the background. What matters in exchange value is not the type of work, but the socially necessary time it takes for that work to produce its product. In essence, qualitatively different forms of work, producing objects with qualitatively different utilities, are all homogenized and differentiated only quantitatively, that is, by the amount of socially necessary labor time materialized in the work. The homogenization of the human element of the commodity creates the conditions where “the social relations of the producers… and the social character of their labour” takes “the form of a social relation between products” (Ibid, 72). The human source of the commodity disappears, it becomes absorbed and metamorphized into the thing itself, appearing “as an objective character stamped upon the product” (Ibid). In the commodity a “definite social relation between men” assumes “the fantastic form of a relation between things” (Ibid).
A good analogy to such a queer relation can be found in the religious fetish, wherein human creations (the Gods) are disconnected (in their being and in their qualities) from their human creators. The relationships are seen not as relations between human constructions, but relations between “independent beings endowed with life” (Ibid). A prominent example of this phenomenon can be seen in the religious alienation Ludwig Feuerbach depicts in The Essence of Christianity. Nonetheless, the point is that because this fetishism “attaches itself” to the “products of labor, so soon as they are produced as commodities,” in a system of commodity production, this fetish has an objective character (Ibid).
For instance, in the movie ‘They Live,’ the protagonist John Nada finds a box of glasses which when worn show the real message behind social symbols (e.g., advertisement for vacation reads ‘reproduce and consume,’ the dollar reads ‘this is your God,’ etc.). In his reaction to the film, Slavoj Žižek’s The Perverts Guide to Ideology provides a helpful analysis of these “ideology critique glasses,” which aids our understanding of how the commodity fetish has been misunderstood. Ideology, Žižek states, is usually thought of as a set of glasses distorting our view of the real world. Therefore, ideology critique is usually framed as the removal of these glasses, an act which allows a spontaneous and direct engagement with the real world. Similarly, the central misunderstanding of the commodity fetish is that it is merely an illusion we hold, once we remove the illusion from our understanding the fetish disappears. This way of thinking about ideology critique is, as Žižek notes, ideological as well.
Instead, as the movie rightly depicts, ideology is objectively in the world. The task of critique is beyond the commonsensical and spontaneous. Critique is an often-painful addition which mediates between us and the world in such a manner that provides us with insights into the objective limitations of the objective world. The commodity fetish is not a distorted view of the world. It is not ‘fixed’ through easy liberal consumptive practices; through knowing where your cow died and where your eggs came from. The commodity fetish is an objective reality in a world dominated by commodity production. It takes critique to see this, but a revolution to change it.
Karl Marx (1867), Capital Vol. I, International Publishers (1974).
Michael Heinrich (2004), An Introduction to the Three Volumes of Karl Marx’s Capital, Monthly Review (2012).
Note* I'd also highly recommend reading Thomas RIggins' article on the same topic, included as an afterward to his recent book, Reading the Classical Texts of Marxism, published by the Midwestern Marx Publishing Press.
Carlos L. Garrido is a Cuban American PhD student and instructor in philosophy at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale (with an M.A. in philosophy from the same institution). His research focuses include Marxism, Hegel, and early 19th century American socialism. His academic work has appeared in Critical Sociology, The Journal of American Socialist Studies, and Peace, Land, and Bread. Along with various editors from The Journal of American Socialist Studies, Carlos is currently working on a serial anthology of American socialism. His popular theoretical and political work has appeared in Monthly Review Online, CovertAction Magazine, The International Magazine, The Marx-Engels Institute of Peru, Countercurrents, Janata Weekly, Hampton Institute, Orinoco Tribune, Workers Today, Delinking, Electronicanarchy, Friends of Socialist China, Associazione Svizerra-Cuba, Arkansas Worker, Intervención y Coyuntura, and in Midwestern Marx, which he co-founded and where he serves as an editorial board member. As a political analyst with a focus on Latin America (esp. Cuba) he has been interviewed by Russia Today and has appeared in dozens of radio interviews in the US and around the world.
Yellow Journalism of the Hearst Era Is Alive and Well in the 21st Century
There is a wise old maxim that says, “The first step on the road to wisdom is to call things by their right names.” So, let’s do that.
“Fake News” has been around a long while: The New York Sun’s “Great Moon Hoax” of 1835 is a good (and amusing) example. An absolute falsehood and fantasy was published as fact to a credulous public who ate it up.
The Sun claimed that life existed on the Moon.
The practice of publishing false stories for financial or political motives has probably been around much longer than that, but today it has been elevated to a science and an art form, a black art form, that is truly one of the greatest threats to the future of Humanity in the world today. It is mass brainwashing on a global scale, abetted by science and technology, a war on human consciousness, a concentrated and deliberate attack on people’s ability to see reality and to discern fact from lies. It is a war against the truth.
It has been correctly said that a respect for the truth is the basis for all morality, so a war against the truth is a war against morality, against all that is good and decent. Without an ability to see reality and detect lies, without a moral compass, people are literally no more than dumb beasts, mules to be worked and exploited by their owners, or sheep to be led to the slaughter. “Fake news” is a term a bit too cute and cozy for the black art of intentionally erasing the very intellect and morality that makes us human. It seeks to dumb down and degrade Humanity to the point where people are no longer human. And that point is fast approaching and, for many, is already here.
I want to give three concrete and irrefutable examples of genuine Nazi propaganda, produced by the West (U.S. and EU), about the war in Ukraine in just the last month, which not only attempt to cover up the crime of intentional mass murder attacks on civilians, but go further still and attempt to blame the actual victims for the crimes of U.S., EU and Ukrainian Nazis. You will see by these three indisputable examples how disinformation is used as a truly evil weapon, how to defend against it, and how to destroy it with the truth.
Example #1 La Stampa (Italy) FRONT PAGE PHOTO – “THE CARNAGE”
The Italian newspaper La Stampa published the photo above on March 15, 2022, showing a horrific scene of mass murder of civilians by illegal cluster munitions delivered to a city center by a ballistic missile. Some 24 civilians (including an entire family with two kids) were murdered, and dozens more gravely injured.
The headlines in red across the top—“Russia kills 400 in Mariupol, Kiev prepares for Russian attack.”
Emblazoned across the photo, “The Carnage.” The photo is real, and while the headlines are intentionally misleading, they are not outright lies. They do not have to be. The liars at La Stampa do not have to actually lie; most Europeans, like most U.S. citizens, lead busy lives, don’t look beyond the headlines, and are easily deceived by nothing more than insinuations. And propagandists like those at La Stampa know it.
I could tell you that the photo actually shows the results of a Ukrainian Army war crime by a Tochka-U missile that was intentionally launched at Donetsk city center around 12:00 noon on Monday, March 14th, that in fact it was intended to kill many times more than the 24 civilians who were murdered.
La Stampa misled its readers by failing to report on the right city where the attacks were launched—a city, Donetsk, that Ukraine, and not Russia, has been shelling for eight years.
I could tell you that the weekend before, fake Ukrop (Ukrainian Association of patriots) troll accounts on Russian and other social media spread false stories that the Democratic People’s Republic (DPR) administration would be giving news about the status of DPR soldiers at 12:30 on March 14th at the Administration Building in central Donetsk, and wives, mothers, daughters of soldiers should come there then.
This message was also sent by text message to specific phones of female family members of soldiers by spoofed DPR Administration accounts. I can confirm it, the daughter of one of my friends serving at the Front showed me the exact message on her phone.
I could tell you that the missile was intercepted by DPR air defense, and only two cannisters of cluster bomb sub-munitions actually detonated when they hit about 500 meters from the Administration Building, on University Avenue in central Donetsk and, had the missile reached its target, the death toll would have been in the hundreds.
Maybe you would believe me, maybe some would not. But I can show you two photos that prove it.
Russell Bentley standing on the same spot as the grieving husband in the La Stampa photo. [Source: Photo courtesy of Russell Bentley]
The beret and scarf of the grieving man’s wife. She died here. I took this photo myself. [Photo courtesy of Russell Bentley]
Now what do you think of La Stampa’s work? Not only trying to cover up the intentional mass murder of civilians, but blaming the victims and their defenders for the very crimes of the Nazis that La Stampa and Italy support.
This is a black lie, a damned lie, literally the exact opposite of the truth. And the vast majority of Western citizens lap up these lies.
And FYI, the photographer who took the heart-rending photo La Stampa stole was neither paid nor credited, or even asked permission to use his photo for this Italian version of Nazi propaganda.
Well, you might say, it is an isolated incident, mistakes happen. It is neither isolated nor a mistake. The editors of La Stampa knew exactly where the photo was from and what it showed, and they used it intentionally to lie. And pseudo-journalists do the same thing in the USA.
EXAMPLE #2 NEW YORK POST – “RUSSIA CONTINUES BOMBARDMENT OF UKRAINIAN CITIES"
Again, but an even more blatant intention to mislead, to lie. The photo, again, is the aftermath of a Ukrainian missile attack on a civilian residential area of Donetsk, not far from my home in Petrovsky District.
Another terrorist attack by Ukrop Nazis against civilian targets, blamed by U.S. Nazi propagandists on DPR and Russian defenders of the very civilians the Ukrops attacked and murdered.
Can I prove it? Well, yes I can. Here I am, in front of the exact same apartment building, hit by the Ukrop Nazi missiles. An honest headline would read, “Ukraine Continues Bombardment of Donbas Cities.”
Russell Bentley in front of apartment building in Donetsk where he lives. The apartment was bombed by Ukraine which has been shelling Donetsk for eight years. The New York Post, however, did not specify the city where the building was located and suggested it had been bombed by Russia. [Source: Photo courtesy of Russell Bentley]
But these Nazi propagandists do not stop at simply blaming their victims for their own crimes, that dirty double-cross is not as low as they can go, not by a long shot. They even, in a trans-Atlantic quadruple-cross conspiracy, connive to discredit truthful reports by adding their own logo to honest news and then announcing to the world that the report is not theirs. Behold…
Example #3: Kramatorsk Railway Attack
On April 8, 2022, a Tochka-U ballistic missile (same type used in the University Avenue attack in Donetsk, three weeks before) was fired at the Kramatorsk railway station as four thousand local civilians waited to evacuate the city before fighting broke out.
Some 57 civilians were killed and 109 wounded, in another wanton attack that had no military purpose, but fit hand in glove with the usual false-flag terror attacks for which Ukraine has become well known.
The proof was and is overwhelming. There is zero doubt that the missile was a Tochka-U and that it came from Ukrainian-held territory. Ukraine continues to use Tochka-U missiles in the Donbas War while the Donbas Republics have none, and Russia retired the last of theirs years ago, in 2019, in favor of the much more effective and accurate Iskander, which Russia has used in Operation Z.
[Photo courtesy of Russell Bentley]
Written on the side of the missile, in Russian, were the words “За Детей,” “For The Kids.” How stupid would someone have to be to believe that the Russians would not only commit a war crime against the ethnic Russian-Ukrainian citizens from the pro-Russian part of Ukraine, but would blatantly add insult to injury and literally implicate themselves before the world by writing something so despicable, in Russian, for the world to see?
Furthermore, there are scientific methods of determining the direction a missile came from, including the shape of the crater and where the tail section lands in relation to the warhead. These methods are standard, simple, and used by all militaries around the world. And like the laws of physics, they apply everywhere, and in every situation the same. In the photo below, showing the trajectory of the missile fired at Kramatorsk, everything to the left of the red line is territory under the control of the Ukrainian Army.
For a full listing of all the evidence that proves the missile, S/N Ш91579 was fired by the 19th Ukrainian Missile Brigade, based near Dobropolia, some 45 kilometers from Kramatorsk, see this excellent article by former U.S. Marine officer and UN Weapons Expert Scott Ritter. There are plenty of other articles too, (HERE, HERE, and HERE) listing the proof and indications that it was a Ukrop false-flag attack on their own civilians. Here are some examples:
1 – The “Smell Test.” WHY would Russians attack ethnic Russian civilians in an area known for its broad support of Russia?
2 – The fake “For The Kids” inscription would be the LAST thing Russians would ever do. Rocket troops are among the most highly trained and disciplined in any army. If the Russians were going to commit a war crime against civilians, do you really think they would sign their work for the world to see?
3 – The physical evidence proves the trajectory of the missile, and that trajectory points directly to Dobropolia, deep inside Ukrainian-held territory, where the 19th Ukrainian Missile Brigade is based. It is impossible for the Russians to have fired a missile from there.
4 – The Russians retired their aged stock of Tochka-U missiles years ago in favor of the Iskander, which they now use.
5 – The Ukrainians still have and use Tochka-U missiles, and have done so on multiple occasions throughout the eight-year Donbas War.
6 – The serial number (S/N) of the Tochka-U fired at Kramatorsk is in the same series and numerically very close to S/Ns of other Tochka-U missiles also known to have been fired by Ukrainian armed forces during the Donbas War.
7 – The exact S/N found on the missile in Kramatorsk was recorded in official documents as having been transferred from the USSR to Ukraine in 1991.
8 – There is zero evidence that would support any theory other than a Ukrainian false-flag attack on the civilians of Kramatorsk. None.
That is a tough nut for the West’s pro-Nazi propagandists to crack. All the evidence proves they did it, beyond any reasonable doubt, and there is no credible evidence of any sort that would support an alternative theory. So what do they do? Simply make things up, of course, as usual, but with a twist. This time, they make up fake news about themselves, and try to palm it off as Russian-produced “disinfo.”
Thus, we see real, first-person, on-the-scene videos of the real aftermath of the Kramatorsk attack, video of the real S/N, all edited together, but with a fake BBC intro and logo added, and then spread all over the internet with the caption, “Look! The BBC finally told the truth for once!!!”
So the professional liars can subsequently “debunk” the fake “BBC video,” along with all the real facts the actual real videos contain. And then literally all Western propaganda outlets smear the story about the fake video all over the web. The search phrase “BBC fake video missile Kramatorsk” brings back 55,000 links on Google, 24 million on Bing, and a whopping 25 million results on Yahoo.
The Western propagandists claim the Russians added the fake BBC logo, but why would Russia discredit real proof of what happened by adding a fake BBC logo. The BBC has a well-earned reputation as one of the most mendacious media outlets in the world; their lies are legion. So why would Russia discredit itself and its own compelling evidence by adding a fake logo of known propagandists? Answer—they didn’t.
An understanding of the simple fact that modern Western media are the product and descendants of Joseph Goebbels and Ed Bernays is the appropriate foundation for regarding anything Western media presents as fact. Do not expect the BBC to “tell the truth for once;” do not expect paid and pathological liars to tell the truth, even once. Do not expect the leopard to change its spots. Understand they are the enemies of truth and morality, the enemies of Humanity, your enemies, who do everything in their power to deceive and confuse you, in order to enslave you. Respect for the truth is the basis of all morality. Respect and defend it!
The List of Logical Fallacies is also an excellent primer of modern propaganda techniques. But when used by professional liars—intentionally—they are no longer “fallacies” but, rather, lies, attacks on truth and reality, and on human consciousness.
Fritz Hippler explained the secret of modern propaganda, and he would know. He was the Chief of Filmmaking at the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda during the years of Nazi Germany. As he put it, “The secret of propaganda is to simplify complex or complicated things, to make them as simple as possible, so even less ingenious men can understand what I mean. And then, repeat it, repeat it, repeat it every day. That’s the secret of modern propaganda—simplify and repetition.” (Click on the link: hear and see him say it himself. He’s very convincing.)
Russell Bentley is a former Texan who holds passports from Russia, the USA and the Donetsk People’s Republic. Russell came to Donbass in 2014 and served in the VOSTOK Battalion and XAH Spetsnaz Battalion through 2015. He then transitioned into the Information War, as a writer and video reporter, countering Western propaganda about the situation in Ukraine and Donbass. He currently works as an accredited war correspondent in the DPR, is married and lives in a small house with a big garden, 5 Km from the frontline in the ongoing Donbass War. Russell can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
this article was republished from Covert Action Magazine.
2022 marks 100 years since fascism first came into power.(1) At the end of October, 1922, King Victor Emmanuel III ceded the Prime Ministership of Italy to Benito Mussolini, the head of the National Fascist Party, effectively passing political power on to the fascists.
Italian fascism began as a motley nationalist movement, with few definitive left or right features, united only in its support for Italy entering the First World War.
In the aftermath of the war, the fascist movement was shaped as a reaction to the development of a revolutionary left. With industrial workers occupying factories, rural workers rebelling against landowners, and revolutionary socialists vying for leadership of the workers’ movement, Italian capitalists and big landowners struck a deal with the fascisti to serve as a paramilitary assault force– squadristi— against the revolutionary left. The Bolshevik Revolution, as a recent historic social cataclysm, loomed over Italian elites, conjuring their worst nightmare.
Without the conjunction of a successful socialist revolution in a major country, a militant working class inspired by the example, and a ruling class desperate to forestall a Bolshevik-like revolution, Italian fascism might have remained a minor cult, dissipating with the restoration of a stable post-war liberal order.
No doubt the rich and powerful of Italy thought that they could use the fascists for their own purposes. But they were willing to deliver political power to the fascists and allow them to restructure the state for the prize of eliminating the revolutionary threat.
It was this desperate fear of both the reordering of property relations and the destruction of class dominance that created the unique moment in 1922 when fascism went from a movement to a political party to a ruling order.
And it was this historically new fusion of capital and other forms of property with a uniquely modern absolutism, nationalism, and populism that defined Italian fascism after 1922.
Of course, there were ultra-right, ultra-nationalist movements before the rise of fascism.
In France, for example, after the defeat in the Franco-Prussian War and the fall of the Paris Commune, many French elites sought a restoration of France’s “glory.” The burst of nationalism took many forms: revanchism (or revenge on Germany), anti-Semitism (blaming Jews for the tarnished “glory”), Bonapartism (the demand for a strong leader), and monarchism (the restoration of the monarchy).
The movement to restore an imagined glorious France coalesced around a military leader named Georges Ernest Boulanger, noted for his persistent devotion to going to war with Germany and settling accounts. Boulangisme thrived for a few years, adding elements of populism to its nationalist agenda, even attracting many former leftists.
Superficially, Boulangisme resembles later fascist movements, and a few bourgeois historians see it as such. But it lacked the two vital features that are characteristic of fascism and its time. First, there was no imminent anti-capitalist revolutionary threat posed to the existing order demanding a ruling class reaction. And second, the ruling class perceived no existential danger sufficient to discard republicanism– bourgeois democracy.
In January of 1889, Boulanger’s opportunity arose, but his hesitation and the opposition of most of the ruling class and its agency thwarted a coup.
It is instructive that Boulangisme has gone down in history as a footnote to the nineteenth century.
The Bolshevik revolution and the rise of revolutionary Communist and Workers’ Parties created the conditions for an extremist movement like National Fascism in Italy to be adopted by the Italian ruling class, while the Boulangisme movement is lost to historical obscurity. Reaction becomes fascism only when revolutionary socialism mounts an existential threat to capitalism.
The rise of Nazism fully underscores this dynamic that we came to generically call “fascism.” The rise of ultra-nationalist, revanchist sects led by World War I veterans was commonplace in post-war Germany. The Nazi phenomenon competed successfully in rising above others with its audacity and a significant element of populism captured in its name: national socialism.
As in Italy, the rise of Communism inspired some capitalists, including a group of leading industrialists, to sponsor Nazism’s activity as a hedge against an aroused working class and the prospect of revolution. Until the Great Depression struck Germany, its rulers successfully suppressed the Nazi Party (the party was banned and Hitler imprisoned in its effort to copy Italian fascism’s insurrectionary march on Rome) and the party received less than 3% of the vote in the 1928 federal election.
But the economic downturn stressed the German bourgeois parties that had no answer to the economic collapse, to the ensuing unemployment and worker militancy, and to a Communist Party growing in size and influence.
The Nazi Party, drawing greater support from a desperate ruling class and a déclassé petty bourgeoisie, was seen as a bulwark against revolution. As desperation rose, the bourgeois parties threw their support behind an aging ultra-nationalist former general friendly to Hitler, Erich von Hindenburg, electing him president of the republic.
It was only a matter of time before Hindenburg, no friend of republicanism, would hand the chancellorship to Hitler, following the example of the Italian king.
These two European examples of the rise of ultra-nationalist “saviors” of bourgeois rule constitute the template of classical fascism. Throughout Europe in the inter-war period, other responses to the revolutionary left led to other extreme-right regimes defending the ruling elites against an ascendant workers’ movement. Such rightist movements were led by Bonapartist figures like Mannerheim, Pilsudski, Horthy, Salazar, and Franco. While none follow strictly the route to power or the character of rule of classical fascism, they share the essential feature of defending bourgeois rule against the revolutionary left while disposing of bourgeois democracy to ensure their success.
Whether one chooses to call Francoism (1939-1975 in Spain) or Pinochetism (1973-1990 in Chile) “fascist” or “quasi-fascist” is a quibble, since they both share with classical fascism the destruction of bourgeois democracy in response to the perceived threat to the capitalist order.
Since the demise of the Soviet Union and the decline or dissolution of mass Communist Parties in most countries, ruling classes have neither sought nor supported the overthrow of bourgeois democracy because of an existential threat from the left. Nonetheless, a broad spectrum of leaders and commentators from right to left have attached the term “fascist” to other political figures or movements. In the extreme, “fascist” or “fascism” has simply become an epithet to demonize an opponent.
More subtly, “fascism” is said to be a right-wing, nationalist, and/or racist movement resembling some of the features of some of the fascist movements of the twentieth century. This approach is especially common with academics, liberals, center-left politicians, or others who refuse to concede the critical place of anti-Bolshevik, anti-Communist ideology at the core of classical fascist thinking and its operational utility in garnering the sponsorship of the bourgeoisie.
Typically, theoreticians– academic and otherwise– develop a checklist of features distilled from a superficial examination of Nazism ripped from its historical context. Chauvinism, political violence, conservative social values, a cult of personality, etc., are all contingent features of historical fascism; but none alone or taken together were incompatible with or absent from the preceding Weimar Republic or other prior historical eras that witnessed the rise of ultra-nationalist movements. It was the fear of revolution and a compliant bourgeois ruling order that served as the necessary elements to bring fascism to power.
Of course, it is important to recognize as extremely dangerous the nostalgia for historical fascism, as exhibited by the American Nazi Party, the National Socialist White Peoples’ Party, and the many other US “Nazi” organizations that have been spun off. In the same way, the current Ukrainian cult around 20th-century fascist Stepan Bandera is extremely dangerous. With the passage of time distancing the Ukrainian people from the sordid history of the OUN and Nazi collaboration, the promotion of ultra-nationalist groups by opportunist politicians and Western interventionists is not only dangerous, but criminal. They will occupy the same place in hell reserved for the US, NATO, and Israeli imperialists that unleashed fanatical, ultra-conservative jihadists on the world.
Misunderstanding fascism, its origins, and its logic can disable the left. Western leftists have drawn lessons– both good and bad– from the united, anti-fascist front adopted by the Communist International in the mid-1930s.
Communists then understood the nature of fascism, connecting it to the vulnerability of capitalism and its goal: “…to bury Marxism, the revolutionary movement of the working class…”. Led by the veteran anti-fascist Georgi Dimitrov, Communists resolved to put aside differences with other working-class organizations– principally social democracy– to combat the threat from fascism and the growing danger of world war. This became an elastic tactic, expanding to advocate unity with any non-working-class elements who stood staunchly against fascism:
…when the scattered proletarian detachments, at the initiative of the Communists, join hands for the struggle against the common enemy, when the working class, marching as a unit, begins to act together with the peasantry, the lower middle classes and all democratic elements, on the basis of the People’s Front program, then the offensive of the fascist bourgeoisie is confronted with an insurmountable barrier. (Dimitrov, G., Against Fascism and War, p. 103)
It is clear from this excerpt from Dimitrov’s essay People’s Front that a popular front is broad, indeed. But it is also clear that it is defensive and tactical, meant to stave off the fascist threat.
Yet, Dimitrov also intimates in other passages that the United Front tactic may be a transitional form leading to overthrowing capitalism and a corrective to Communist isolation from the masses.
It was this ambiguity that carried over into the post-World War II era and led many Communist and Workers’ Parties to adopt popular frontism as a strategic approach or as a stage in the transition to socialism. Whether it took the form of an anti-monopoly front or party, a broad labor party, or opportunistically, a “historical compromise” or “Common Program” with bourgeois parties, like the strategy of the self-destructed Italian Communist Party or the now nearly spent French Communist Party, popular frontism became a widely accepted strategy, especially with the Western left. The debate over this strategy continues to this day within the Communist movement.
But it was the application of the united-front tactic against fascism that has proven most problematic since the decline of the social democratic left and the rise of a new fundamentalist right after the economic crisis of the 1970s. In the US and the UK, Reagan and Thatcher were the embodiment of the right turn toward ultra-nationalism, chauvinism, vulgar individualism, deregulation and privatization. Given the gains made by the socialist countries, the victory in Indochina, the growing popularity of socialism in emerging countries, and even a revolution in the West (Portugal), some sensed a “whiff of fascism” in this rightward turn, a right reaction to a growing threat from the left.
After the fall of the Soviet Union– the bulwark of socialism– and the accompanying disarray of the Communist Parties, the rightward turn accelerated, realigning the Western bourgeois political parties. New Democrats, New Labor, New Social Democrats moved farther right to accommodate the rightward turn, rather than fight it.
Rather than rebuilding a vital left around the interests of working people, rather than standing apart from the rightward drift, rather than filling the void left by the capitulation of the tradition center-left, many leftists painted the right as fascist, seemingly justifying laying the socialist project aside and joining with the bourgeois parties in defeating the most extreme elements of the right. The historic left project of defeating capitalism and replacing it with a peoples’ economy was to be deferred until the right (the fascist right!) was dead and buried. This was sold as revisiting the 1930s United Front against Fascism.
With the rise of right-wing populist parties and toxic personalities like Orban, Trump, and Johnson, the “fight against fascism” reached its zenith. Much of the twenty-first-century reshuffled left embraced electoral alliances with bourgeois institutions and political parties against right-wing populism under the banner of uniting against the right. In every case, this strategy helped entrench insipid center-right politicians at a moment of political crisis and growing popular anger and alienation.
This analysis and strategy are wrong on many accounts.
Most importantly, it misrepresents fascism, ripping the ideology from its historical roots founded in a desperate life-and-death struggle with the revolutionary left. Today’s left is far remote from posing an existential challenge to the capitalist system and will remain so if it continues to organize against the phantasm of an imminent fascist threat.
Secondly, the current iteration of bourgeois democracy has been corrupted and drained of democratic content to the extent that while it presents a formidable obstacle to any popular revolutionary surge, it is a well-oiled pathway for the dictates of ensconced ruling classes. That is not to deny that all the bourgeois factions engaged in the electoral game “play” the system to retain power with little regard for the procedural “rules” heralded by bourgeois democratic institutions. It is not necessary to discard bourgeois democracy to thwart change in our corrupted political environment.
Thirdly, the populist right has made no serious effort to create the kind of ideologically-bound squadrista typical of historical fascism. As Diana Johnstone wrote recently in response to the charge that Marine Le Pen, the French right-wing populist, would “confiscate power” and never give it up:
And how would she do that? Her party is not very strong and entirely based on electoral politics. There is no militia organized to use force for political purposes (as in the case of real historic fascists). There are plenty of counter-powers in France, including political parties, hostile media, a largely left-leaning magistrature, the armed forces (linked to NATO), big business and finance which have never supported Le Pen, the entertainment industry, etc., etc.
No one could seriously compare the disorganized, fumbling crew that made an unwelcome visit to the Capitol on January 6, 2021 to the organized, disciplined 30,000 Blackshirts who marched on Rome a hundred years ago.
The exaggerated “threat of fascism” reflects a lack of confidence that the people of the advanced capitalist countries will embrace true, qualitative, revolutionary changes, that the anti-capitalist left can compete for the loyalty, votes, and actions of working people. Instead of building a bold movement for socialism, the timid, despairing left chooses an unrequited affair with center forces in a quixotic struggle against a far-off, hazy foe.
This is not to minimize the harm that the unrelenting rightward march of the bourgeois parties in the advanced capitalist countries has brought on working people over many decades. But that rightward push must be met in the battleground of ideas with bold, aggressive proposals that go beyond a rear-guard defense; it must advance the interests of working people; and it must provide a vision beyond the resignation that there is no alternative to the tune-up of a bankrupt capitalist system.
If we win working people to such a vision, a day will undoubtedly come when we will truly encounter the ugly face of fascism.
(1) For an entertaining, but remarkably sophisticated account of the rise of fascism and its logic, there is nothing better than to watch Bernardo Bertolucci’s film, 1900. This 5 ½ hour epic captures the class dynamics from Italian fascism’s roots to its defeat in 1944. Forgive the silly historical compromise ending that Bertolucci undoubtedly developed from the Italian Communist Party’s 1976 program.
This article was republished from Marxism-Leninism Today.
False Unity and Eroticism of Contemporary Super-Imperialism: The Tasks of the Anti-Imperialist Left. By: Fernando XimenesRead Now
The dreams of Western imperialism after World War II and the ‘end of history’ enigmatic-thesis after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 promised a more general happiness. A tolerant multicultural cosmopolitanism has oppositely led into a transcontinental alliance of imperial ethno-nationalism. Is this not reflecting in the peak of xenophobic, racist, white-supremacist of Euro-Atlantic modernity and recent intensification of NATO and AUKUS-directing process of identity and otherness toward Russia East and China’s south as archaic, ignorant, savage, backward that need to implanted Western democratic civility and free market neoliberal capitalism? – This all serves the goals of accumulation at world scale and empire-building.
Hence, the process of otherness, belonging, loyalty, duty or all the fascistic and authoritarian elements of culture has embedded within the essence of imperialism and manifested as a dominant form of its expansion across the world. Therefore, fascism and authoritarianism is not an extension of capitalism, outside of it, it is rather, an inherent essence of capitalist imperialism.
This all to said that, growing imperialist eroticism has fuelled their inflammatory passion to construct otherness and the inevitable needs to dominate. Behind all these madness lies the ‘erotic energies’ of capital required to settle and rule everywhere – narcissistic requirements of the ruling oligopolies of the center. The more expansionist, aggressive and global repression toward sovereignty state of the South is rooted in the over-expanding conflict and contradiction within the inter-imperial order itself. The long economic depression followed with hysterical frustration of the imperialist states that fomented permanent aggression and of course, growing risk to third global war. Thus, the ongoing US-lead global imperialism war on Russia and China was founded by long sustained relations of domination and subordination between the imperialist states. I referred to this case as false unity of imperialism.
Since the middle of twenty century, the US has not only waged war, pillaging, plundering, intervening, and dominating the third world of Latin America, Asia, and Africa, but also an economic war against Europe – for the current crisis in Ukraine, US has turned the allies to engage in war that will paid with the preservation of their submission to US command, and paid the prices for US strategy of empire-building.
The recent US-led NATO war against Russia aimed at China as well. The strategy of isolating China is not just simply by destabilizing and removing Russia from China in making a counter-hegemonic alliance, but it is also serving to block the EU from making a stable mutual trade with China and Russia. This will open the chances to prevent the greater Eurasian prosperity and multipolarity without US leadership, that’s including the prevention of further China-promoting Belt and Road Initiative.
In another, to destabilize Russia, to topple the existing regime in Kremlin, is to continue recycle it back into a client peripheral capitalist state serving the US-imperialist triad strategic goals, ways that will further isolate, weaken and again, turn China into a backward periphery status, complement US and western monopoly needs for capital accumulation and empire-building. In short, the anti-hegemonic coalition of China, Russia and the third world socialist democratic regime aims at creating an alternative non-neoliberal world without NATO and US central command.
It is important to note, Russia is not an imperialist state that engages in inter-imperialist war, or partitioned world territorial division. To label countries as imperialist simply with ‘exporting capital’ is flawed, very non-dialectic, since most of the countries, even poorer third world countries are also exporting capital. So in all, it is an inter-imperialist alliance of US-West Europe-Japan war against the anti-imperialist front of China-Russia and other global south countries.
In this, I would like to call for all the peace-loving anti-hegemonic countries, to all socialist states, and all the peoples of the Global South and working class struggle in the North to struggle in order to recover the popular and democratic sovereignty by delinking from imperialist neoliberal economic order and more importantly, to de-dollarize the economy. That’s because the international monetary system based on the dollar as a world reserve, its will to provide credit and taxing across the world, to impose austerity, sanction, or a more general economic line of Washington Consensus, is the foundation of US economic imperialism coupled with military form of imperialism.
To de-dollarize is critical to the international class of struggle among capital and labor, people of the South with the North monopolies. Since the US cannot run out of money, it can print all the money, and it can recycle all the dollars that it has pumped into the world economy. Once they can recycle back into the US treasury bonds as monetary and savings (foreign countries buying US treasury securities with US dollar) will ended up financing US spending abroad, its balance of payments deficit, in short, subsidizing the US global militarization by investing billions of dollars to military expenditure and military bases in all the continents. This historical facts is central to US imperialism since 1972, and it started to end since the US decided to seize the Russian assets, and we expect many more third world countries will decide to stop depositing or disinvesting in the US anymore, from now on.
That’s all because, US has moved from world ‘creditor-state’ to ‘debtor-state’ that makes all nations pay for its government policies abroad – that’s because we live in dollarized neoliberal imperialism. So by maintaining the dollar-based international monetary order, we are doomed to participate in US global war, intervention, occupation, proxies and domination toward the third world countries, to topple down the socialist state and sovereignty anti-hegemonic state such as Russia. We are participating in financing US continuing militarization of the world, its worldwide invention of fascistic and right-wing counter-revolutionary regime across the world. We are financing the military base and operations that keep us in check, subjugation.
For now, the US’s oil, agriculture, financial and arms-industrial monopolies has benefited more from the sanctions. The recent drop of production, supply or energies export by Russia will affect the ‘accumulation of world scale’, but it will underdeveloped many third world countries, a conditions that will enabled imperialist economic diplomacy to impose neoliberal austerity, structural adjustment, debts and so on. But now, it also led to blowback consequences, boomerang to the West. More countries are protesting and resisting western sanctions. In fact, the US has lost all wars it has initiated in the beginning of the twenty first century. Michael Hudson have claimed “the era of military occupation is over. The mode of control is financial”. That is why, alternative to build a world without the US dollar presented by China and Russia is untolerable.
Since 1932, 1972, and now in 2022, shows a continued march of US empire-building based on dollar hegemony, and Western imperialists have globalized its war of oppression, plunder and pillaging the third world more penetrative. We are living in the very dangerous time, and we have entered the most reaction time, a new cold war politics of war against all is reflected in the imperialist triad war of economy-ideology-military against China and Russia, a war between the forces of barbarity against socialism, between the most predatory, ‘vampire-like’ of neoliberal “financial capitalism” versus “industrial market socialism” led by China.
Comrades, we cannot have peace and socialism under financial imperialism, and to achieve both under the tyranny of imperialism is totally absurd. In addition, you also cannot have development and democracy without socialism – the democracy of the West aims to eternalize the regime of private property and endless accumulation for the 1%. It is a democracy that is empowering the minority financial tyranny in which few predatory oligarchies select the candidates for the masses to exercise their five minutes democratic power to elect the representative of industrial, oil and finance oligarchies for executive power. That is totally a false option, and that’s the essence of democracy in triad imperialist countries such as the US, Japan and Western Europe.
US, the guarding of world peace and democracy has almost a century, invent and arming the right-wing, fascist and Islamic jihadist to fight against the secular, people and proletarian state of East and South. From backing Suharto’s fascist war to crush PKI in Indonesia since 1965, and FRETILIN in East Timor in 1975, from financing extremist Jihadist against Soviet Union during the 1980s that gave birth to Al-qaeda and Taliban, to the recent ISIS against the Syrian regime, and so on. This has been continued in Ukraine against Russia, by utilizing the right-wing neoliberal regime and militia Nazism in Ukraine to play the US-NATO grand-strategy and oppressing the people.
Since the World War II, US military and intelligence operations has been directing to restore former Nazi elements and sustained a permanent Nazification of reactionary mass since the first decade of twenty century for it’s fight of destabilization against Russia. The Nazi and right-wing forces armed by US-NATO also oppressing the forces of socialist in Ukraine. They not only oppress the political left but also brutally sustained ethnically-based violence against Russian speaking people and people who resist Western and neoliberal in Ukraine. This reflects the total mechanism of the US war machine aimed at crushing the progressive mass popular movement and regime in the world by using the most reactionary, conservative and fascistic element in the society. So the war in Ukraine forced us to choose between anti imperialist-fascist camp, or to side with imperialist-fascist alliance co-opted with liberal lofty humanism and pseudo-critics of the most puritan western Leftist. I would like to quote my comrade Humberto Rodrigues in our email chat that, “Soon, everything will become more explicit and each one will adopt a side”
During the years, the dominant line and approach of US imperialism in Latin America and Asia is through economic aggression and domination, while the predominant form in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia is by militarism, either by military invasion, occupation, intervention, proxies, war, coup, covert intelligence operations, and nuclear deterrence etc. But to engage in both Russia and China, US approaches characterized as the mobilization of its total instruments and integral aspects of economic-military imperialism in its art of war. It is the ‘proxies war’ that serving the strategic economic interest of empire-building: that is by continuing destabilization and encroachment of anti-empire state of the East and South such as Russia and China; of reinforcing the accumulation of capital at world scale while sustaining austerity, privatization of common resources and underdevelopment across the Global South and internal colonization in the center; of protecting international capitalist property and business interest; preserving the US monetary imperialist order and reconstitution of its global hegemonic power: in short, preserving US’s unipolar world and illegitimate rule-based order marked with a generalized exploitation and permanent oppression of the people’s of the world, and not to count, despoliation of planetary ecology. It is also vice versa with the economic sanctions, of continuing war of economy against Russia and its ruble, to China Yuan, and to subjugated Euro in order to preserve the geopolitical advantages, militarization of the world and global apartheid under US military supremacy, so that the Pentagon will draw the world map “after its own image”, as Karl Marx has pointed out in the Communist Manifesto.
To end, I would like to quote Michael Hudson here. As he said “without such understanding (of 1932-1933 and 1972-1973 where the later, US using IMF, World Bank and its international economic, military and MNCs diplomacy to create a dollar standard, and turned allies to paid for US war, become a foundation of US imperialism modus operandi), no post-dollar can be created”. Since 1932, 1972, and now in 2022, shows a continued march of US empire-building based on dollar hegemony, and Western imperialists have globalized its war of oppression, plunder and pillaging the third world more penetrative. We are living in the very dangerous time, and we have entered the most reaction time, a new cold war politics of war against all is reflected in the imperialist triad war of economy-ideology-military against China and Russia, a war between the forces of barbarity against socialism, between the most predatory, ‘vampire-like’ of neoliberal “financial capitalism” versus “industrial market socialism” led by China.
The Ukraine crisis is not about Russia's war against Ukraine. It's a war of two systems, a war (economic war) that will not come to end in the next year or years to come. It is a war that will shape a new global economic system. World economic systems are facing ‘tectonic shifts’ and the transition has just started. Hence, in 1975, Nicolau Lobato, a leader of nationalist revolutionary movement of FRETILIN in Timor-Leste said “a great leap forward to our liberation is irreversible”. Hence, there is a radical shift in the world economic system, the horizon of world socialism is much closer to us now, decades ahead than ever.
My dear comrades, see you either in hell or communism!
Fernando Ximenes Member of Komite Esperansa, East Timor. The author can be reached at: email@example.com (Presentation at the Marxists Speak Out: Victory Day, against Nazism and Imperialism, yesterday and today, 14 May 2022)
This article was republished from Delinking.
Humanity finds itself at a crucial moment. It’s not only war and climate change that threaten life on our planet. Ideologies and some people do too.
We know that money and the production of wealth and well-being have created an ever greater and more profound gap between people, neighborhoods, cities and countries—a gap that has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
So, I’d like us (my fellow Bolivians and Indigenous peoples) to stop thinking of ourselves as the poor periphery of a process of globalization that has been unequal, colonial and racist.
In Bolivia, since the beginning of this century, we have battled some of the most important and decisive questions for the future of the human race: water, our sacred coca leaf, the goods we have which we can share thanks to the generosity of the Pachamama and, of course, the right to make decisions collectively about our lives.
Each battle, each sacrifice made, from places like El Alto and Cochabamba, has repeatedly confronted us with the owners of power and money.
At the core of each one of our struggles is our overriding need to stay alive, to finally construct a world fit for all of us to live with dignity.
Not tomorrow, today. Bolivia is the center of the world, as is North Dakota or Chiapas, or the poor neighborhoods of Caracas.
Yes, we are poor and far from the powerful centers of economic and political decision-making. But at the same time, we live in the center of the most important battles—battles fought from our smallest trenches, communities, neighborhoods, cities, jungles and forests.
What I’m describing to you isn’t merely a simple change in discourse. We want to think about ourselves differently, because if we do that at the core of the true struggle for survival, we can look at the world and at our sisters and our brothers with new eyes. If we are condemned to be at the margins, we will not get far.
It is by constructing in this way, from the hundreds and thousands of centers in which life is defined, that we fight for what is most essential: water, food, shelter, education and dignity—perhaps from this we can construct a new horizon. Weaving together our needs, our achievements, and even our errors, it’s possible to dismantle centuries of colonialism, the brutal pillaging of our territories, and the forced subjugation of our people.
In Bolivia, we have had to draw on our millennia-old Aymara and Quechua traditions and knowledge, for example, peoples who define much of what this country is. But it’s not only Indigenous peoples who have fought against imperialism, nor is it the obligation of one people to be the vanguard or the moral reserve for the human race.
We are what we are. We know, among ourselves, what our grandparents passed down to us. For that reason, from our lived experience, I invite you to begin this journey, firstly by reestablishing what is important so that we can begin to view ourselves like the people in the streets of Cochabamba were viewed after the Water Wars, knowing that it is possible and that there is another life waiting beyond the barricades, beyond the strikes and the roadblocks, and that is our common heritage.
This also happened to us in October 2003, when El Alto (near the capital city of La Paz) was converted, for a few moments, into the center of the world. With sticks and with stones, with their will, the Aymara rejected the selling off of our riches—a death prescribed by a corrupt and foolish president.
There, in this burning epicenter, everything that matters was at stake. The centers of power and global decision-making were our periphery. Without a doubt, I do not think we are the periphery. This mini-census is not intended to be paralyzing. Quite the opposite.
As a Bolivian, as an Aymara, as someone who has lived within one of the most decisive battles to change everything, I know that we can’t ignore the daily catastrophe we saw in Sri Lanka, in the boats filled with refugees in the Mediterranean, in that wall that separates North America from the rest of the Americas, in the Aboriginal territories of Australia, or in the famine experienced by the girls and boys in La Guajira in Colombia.
To be able to view the immensity of our horizon, to be able to daydream when we look upon the Andean Altiplano and its peaks, perhaps we should give ourselves a different perspective, a new center.
In Bolivia, like in so many other places, what’s at stake is not a set of goods or a piece of land, not even a government. We have fought to defend life itself, to nourish it, and to watch it grow with dignity. We do not know of anything more important to do in these difficult times.
We are the center of the world.
Adapted from Rogelio Mayta’s speech to the Progressive International’s Summit at the End of the World on May 12, 2022.
Rogelio Mayta is the foreign minister for the Plurinational State of Bolivia.
At first, there was an explosion. The six-story building vibrated, and a few wires snapped with the force of a whiplash. Immediately afterward, more than half of the facade collapsed without any warning, with each floor swallowing the one above as the ceiling crushed against the floor and the floor against the ceiling during the explosion, and a cloud of dust hid everything except the desperate screams of people. It seemed as if the ground had just opened and closed when two other buildings collapsed in the vicinity.
The causes of the incident at the Hotel Saratoga in Old Havana on May 6 were immediately known, although the investigation is still ongoing: it was a gas leak from a tanker truck servicing the hotel building, which was preparing to reopen during the second week of May. With no guests, the rooms were locked tight, and a simple click of the light switch would have been enough for the mass of accumulated gas to cause the shock wave that shattered the glass, marquetry and ornately decorated facade of green and white stucco, which was originally from the 19th century.
It is not the first time that Cuba has mourned tragedies like this. An accident like this might seem even minor in a country that has suffered more than 30 major hurricanes in half a century, dozens of deaths during the CIA sabotage of the steamship La Coubre in the port of Havana in 1960, the blowing up of a commercial airliner with 73 passengers in 1976, a chain of bombs in hotels and restaurants in the 1990s, the eternal blockade imposed by the United States government, a “rogue action,” as Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador calls it—that has naturalized the shortage of almost everything and made the pandemic more desperate, just to cite a few dramatic examples.
But no. The explosion at the Saratoga Hotel, with almost 100 injured victims—including 43 deaths as of May 11—is something else. What made this story in particular the big news story was not the explosion that was felt in Havana, nor the dense smoke that could be seen overhead, nor the feeling of vulnerability that it left us all experiencing, but rather it was the solidarity of the citizens who crowded around the area demanding a place to rescue the victims from the rubble, and donated their blood for the wounded or helped alleviate the anguish of the victims. Two hours after the accident, the line of volunteers in front of blood banks, polyclinics and hospitals exceeded thousands, and most of them were young people, the same ones who Miami’s propaganda says are leaving Cuba en masse.
While the government acts and the public press teaches immediacy and sensitivity, people from the streets, from all kinds of professions, continue to help their compatriots. We do not know the names of all those who were part of the rescue teams—many of them are volunteer firefighters—or of the teachers of the “Concepción Arenal” school that is right next to the hotel who protected their students, of the children who saved other children, of the passersby who helped the Saratoga workers and the families residing in the other two buildings that imploded in the neighborhood, nor the sniffer dogs that are still looking for the traces of at least two missing persons in the rubble.
When crashing, the buildings showed their viscera, their arteries, their nerves and their fragility, similar to ours. But they also exposed that kind of decent sentimentalists who are not in danger of extinction and who are the best of us all, the heroes who went out to save others, not realizing that another explosion and another collapse could have made them victims. And, at the same time, there is an anonymous army of health workers who have not rested for more than 100 hours since the accident.
In Soldiers of Salamis, the Spanish novelist Javier Cercas reminds us that “in the behavior of a hero there is almost always something blind, irrational, instinctive, something that is in their nature and from which they cannot escape.” They are the ones who look squarely at the absurdity and cruelty of life to make us more human, and they are the ones who warn us that struggle is born from despair.
And once again, death does not prevail.
Rosa Miriam Elizalde is a Cuban journalist and founder of the site Cubadebate. She is vice president of both the Union of Cuban Journalists (UPEC) and the Latin American Federation of Journalists (FELAP). She has written and co-written several books including Jineteros en la Habana and Our Chavez. She has received the Juan Gualberto Gómez National Prize for Journalism on multiple occasions for her outstanding work. She is currently a weekly columnist for La Jornada of Mexico City.
On May 2, 2022, a statement was made by Mali’s military spokesperson Colonel Abdoulaye Maïga on the country’s national television, where he said that Mali was ending the defense accords it had with France, effectively making the presence of French troops in Mali illegal. The statement was written by the military leadership of the country, which has been in power since May 2021.
Colonel Maïga said that there were three reasons why Mali’s military had taken this dramatic decision. The first was that they were reacting to France’s “unilateral attitude,” reflected in the way France’s military operated in Mali and in the June 2021 decision by French President Emmanuel Macron to withdraw French forces from the country “without consulting Mali.” France’s military forces moved to nearby Niger thereafter and continued to fly French military planes over Malian airspace. These violations of Malian airspace “despite the establishment of a temporary no-fly zone by the Malian military authorities” constituted the second reason for the new declaration, according to the statement. Thirdly, Mali’s military had asked the French in December 2021 to revise the France-Mali Defense Cooperation treaty. Apparently, France’s answer to relatively minor revisions from Mali on April 29 displeased the military, which then issued its statement a few days later.
‘Neither Peace, Nor Security, Nor Reconciliation'
Over the past few years, French forces in Mali have earned a reputation for ruthless use of aerial power that has resulted in countless civilian casualties. A dramatic incident took place on January 3, 2021, in the village of Bounti in the central Mopti region of Mali, not far from Burkina Faso. A French drone strike killed 19 civilians who were part of a wedding party. France’s Defense Minister Florence Parly said, “The French armed forces targeted a terrorist group, which had been formally identified as such.” However, an investigation by the United Nations mission in Mali (the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, or MINUSMA) found that the French drone fired at a marriage celebration attended by about 100 people (which might have included five armed persons).
Two months later, on March 5, 2021, in the village of Talataye, east of Bounti, a French airstrike killed three teenage children and injured two others, who were all out hunting birds. The father of the three deceased children—Adamou Ag Hamadou, a shepherd--said that the children had taken their cattle to drink water and then had gone off to hunt birds with their two hunting rifles. “When I arrived at the scene of the airstrike,” Ag Hamadou remembered, “there were other people from this [hunting] camp. From 1 p.m. until 6 p.m., we were able to collect the pieces of their bodies that we buried.”
These are some of the most dramatic incidents. Others litter the debate over the French military intervention in Mali, but few of these stories make it beyond the country’s borders. There are several reasons for the global indifference to these civilian deaths, one of them being that these atrocities perpetrated by Western states during their interventions in Africa do not elicit outrage from the international press, and another is that the French have consistently denied even well-proven incidents of what should be considered war crimes.
For example, on June 8, 2019, French soldiers fired at a car in Razelma, outside Timbuktu, killing three civilians (one of them a young child). The French military made a bizarre statement about the killing. On the one hand, the French said that the killing was “unintentional.” But then, on the other hand, the French authorities said that the car was suspicious because the car did not stop despite warning shots being fired at it. Eyewitnesses said that the driver of the car was helping a family move to Agaghayassane and that they were not linked to any terrorist group. Ahmad Ag Handoune, who is a relative of those killed in this attack and who drove up to the site after the incident, said that the French soldiers “took gasoline and then poured it on the vehicle to set everything on fire so that nothing was identifiable.”
Protests against the French military presence have been taking place for over a year, and it is plausible to say that the May 2021 military coup, which installed the present military leadership of the country to power, was partly due to both the failure of the French intervention in Mali to bring about stability and its excesses. Colonel Assimi Goïta, who leads the military junta, said that the agreement with the French “brought neither peace, nor security, nor reconciliation” and that the population aspires “to stop the flow of Malian blood.”
No Way Forward
On the day that the Malians said that the presence of French troops on their soil was illegal with the ending of the defense accords, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres paid a visit to neighboring Niger. When France’s army withdrew from Mali, they relocated to Niger, whose president, Mohamed Bazoum, tweeted his welcome to these troops. Guterres, standing beside Bazoum, said that terrorism is “not just a regional or African issue, but one that threatens the whole world.”
No one denies the fact that the chaos in the Sahel region of Africa was deepened by the 2011 NATO war against Libya. Mali’s earlier challenges—including a decades-long Tuareg insurgency and conflicts between Fulani herders and Dogon farmers—were now convulsed by the entry of arms and men from Libya and Algeria. Three jihadi groups appeared in the country as if from nowhere—Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Movement for the Unification of Jihad in the African West, and Ansar Dine. They used the older tensions to seize northern Mali in 2012 and declared the state of Azawad. French military intervention followed in January 2013.
Iyad Ag Ghali, a Tuareg leader from Kidal, fought in Libya and Mali. In the early 2000s, Ag Ghali set up the Alliance for Democracy and Change, which advocated for Tuareg rights. “Soft-spoken and reserved,” said a 2007 U.S. Embassy cable about him. “Ag Ghali showed nothing of the cold-blooded warrior persona created by the Malian press.” After a brief stint as a diplomat to Saudi Arabia, Ag Ghali returned to Mali, befriended Amadou Koufa, the leader of the Macina Liberation Front, and drifted into the world of Sahelian jihad. In a famous 2017 audio message, Amadou Koufa said, “The day that France started the war against us, no Fulani or anyone else was practicing jihad.” That kind of warfare was a product of NATO’s war on Libya and the arrival of Al Qaeda, and later ISIS, to seek local franchise with local grievances to nurture their ambitions.
Conflicts in Mali, as the former President Alpha Oumar Konaré said over a decade ago, are inflamed due to the suffocation of the country’s economy. Neither did the country receive any debt relief nor infrastructure support from the West or international organizations. This landlocked state of more than 20 million people imports 70 percent of its food, the prices for which have skyrocketed in recent weeks, and could further worsen food insecurity in Mali. Part of the instability of the post-NATO war has been the military coups in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso. Mali faces harsh sanctions from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), sanctions that will only deepen the crisis and provoke greater conflict north of Mali’s capital, Bamako.
Anti-French sentiment is not the whole story in Mali. What France and other global leaders need to recognize is that there are many larger questions at the root of the issues Malians face—questions around their livelihood and their dignity, which need to be answered to secure a better future for the country.
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.
Inge Deutschkron, Holocaust survivor, author, and lecturer, was a force of nature. She died at the age of 99 on March 9, 2022, and was buried on April 8 in her hometown of Berlin, where she fought for justice against right-wing extremists.
She was honored by officials and political leaders from Berlin, few of whom knew her personally, at the funeral she planned at the Südwestkirchhof Stahnsdorf cemetery near Potsdam, Germany. It has architecturally striking tombs and burial places of famous people, but is difficult for friends to reach.
I happened to be in Berlin that day. I was not one of the invited guests but was told about it. Inge Deutschkron and I met in 1970 in Bonn, then the German capital. She worked out of the Reuters office for the Israeli paper Maariv and often stood over my shoulder, lecturing me as I struggled with news and the German language. We met over the years when I worked in and visited Berlin.
‘I Wore the Yellow Star'
Inge left Germany in 1968 for Israel where she worked in the foreign affairs section of Maariv. I had known she escaped the Nazis by living underground but not much more. When I was visiting Israel while working for Reuters, she gave me a copy of her book Ich trug den gelben Stern (German for “I Wore the Yellow Star”; Outcast is the English title), for which she became famous. It was her first of many books.
Inge wrote of the life-threatening experiences she and her mother faced while fleeing the Nazis—using a false identity, hiding in 22 places (backyards, garden sheds, and abandoned apartments), and constantly fearing capture. Her father, an educator and Social Democratic Party activist, fled to England before the war, but Inge and her mother were denied entry until after the war.
In one notable scene, when starved for food, she and her mother joined refugees fleeing to Berlin. Asked at a collection site her address, she said: “Giesen, Adolf Hitler Strasse, 2” (a guess she made that a town square had been named after Hitler in the village of Giesen), rightly assuming the Fuhrer was cited everywhere. She got the food.
Of the 200,000 Jews in Berlin before World War II, about 7,000 Berlin Jews had gone into hiding, and only 1,700 of them survived.
Among those who helped Inge survive was Otto Weidt, who hired her and other Jews (many of them blind and deaf) under false names for his factory that made brooms and brushes. He was the Oskar Schindler in her life, and she honored him by helping to resurrect his workshop into a museum. She told me how the blind Jews whom Weidt had harbored were finally ordered to a Nazi deportation site. They walked along streetcar tracks, single file, one by one.
A play based on her book, which is still performed in theaters in the German-speaking world, “Ab heute heist du Sara” (“From Now On, Your Name Is Sara”), depicted her odyssey during the war. I once joined the “Saras” at a party for Inge.
Why Did I Survive?
In 2013, 90-year-old Inge Deutschkron gave a speech in the German parliament on Auschwitz Memorial Day recalling those who had not survived the Holocaust: “At night, I saw them in front of me, and could not stop thinking of them. Where were they? What was done to them?… What right did I have to hide, to duck out of a fate that should have been mine as well? That feeling of guilt haunted me, it never let me go.”
In her speech, Inge also recalled the early postwar years in Bonn under Chancellor Konrad Adenauer. She said that Chancellor Adenauer “had claimed in a government statement in parliament that the majority of Germans had opposed crimes against the Jews” and that “many of them even helped the Jews escape their killers.” “Ah, if only that had been the truth!” she said.
Parliamentarians stood and applauded—except for delegates from the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AFD) party, who sat in stony silence.
Was Returning to Berlin a Wise Choice?
Inge Deutschkron returned to Berlin from Israel in 1988. Annette von Broecker, the former editor-in-chief of the Reuters German-language news service, thinks the move was a mistake and believes Inge thought so too. Annette mentored Inge during her last years.
“She could have gone back to Israel and had a nice life and even written about her own experiences as an exile,” Annette told me.
While in Israel, she and Annette often took holidays together. “She was interested in so many things and enjoyed life,” Annette recalled. But in Berlin, where Inge lectured in schools and elsewhere, “she was confined to one topic: the Holocaust.”
Inge Deutschkron had the potential to have done so much more in other areas, and yet she dedicated her life to the remembrance of the Holocaust and the rise of fascism. As the number of Holocaust survivors dwindles, it is remarkable that she made such a significant contribution to educating the public about a horrific history—one that could be repeated if its memory is left to wilt.
Evelyn Leopold is a writing fellow and correspondent for Globetrotter. She is an independent journalist based at the United Nations and the winner of a UN Correspondents Association gold medal for her reporting. She served at Reuters as a manager, editor and correspondent in New York, Washington, London, Berlin and Nairobi. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and head of the Dag Hammarskjöld Fund for Journalists.
The world wants to see an end to the conflict in Ukraine. The NATO countries, however, want to prolong the conflict by increasing arms shipments to Ukraine and by declaring that they want to “weaken Russia.” The United States had already allocated $13.6 billion to arm Ukraine. Biden has just requested $33 billion more. By comparison, it would require $45 billion per year to end world hunger by 2030.
Even if negotiations take place and the war ends, an actual peaceful solution will not likely be possible. Nothing leads us to believe that geopolitical tensions will decrease, since behind the conflict around Ukraine is an attempt by the West to halt the development of China, to break its links with Russia, and to end China’s strategic partnerships with the Global South.
In March, commanders of the U.S. Africa Command (General Stephen J. Townsend) and Southern Command (General Laura Richardson) warned the U.S. Senate about the perceived dangers of increased Chinese and Russian influence in Africa as well as Latin America and the Caribbean. The generals recommended that the United States weaken the influence of Moscow and Beijing in these regions. This policy is part of the 2018 national security doctrine of the United States, which frames China and Russia as its “central challenges.”
No Cold War
Latin America does not want a new cold war. The region has already suffered from decades of military rule and austerity politics justified based on the so-called “communist threat.” Tens of thousands of people lost their lives and many tens of thousands more were imprisoned, tortured, and exiled only because they wanted to create sovereign countries and decent societies. This violence was a product of the U.S.-imposed cold war on Latin America.
Latin America wants peace. Peace can only be built on regional unity, a process that began 20 years ago after a cycle of popular uprisings, driven by the tsunami of neoliberal austerity, led to the election of progressive governments: Venezuela (1999), Brazil (2002), Argentina (2003), Uruguay (2005), Bolivia (2005), Ecuador (2007), and Paraguay (2008). These countries, joined by Cuba and Nicaragua, created a set of regional organizations: the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America–Peoples’ Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP) in 2004, the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) in 2008, and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in 2011. These platforms were intended to increase regional trade and political integration. Their gains were met with increased aggression from Washington, which sought to undermine the process by attempting to overthrow the governments in many of the member countries and by dividing the regional blocs to suit Washington’s interests.
Because of its size and its political relevance, Brazil was a key player in these early organizations. In 2009, Brazil joined with Russia, India, China, and South Africa to form BRICS, a new alliance with the goal to rearrange the power relations of global trade and politics.
Brazil’s role did not please the White House, which—avoiding the crudeness of a military coup—staged a successful operation, in alliance with sectors of the Brazilian elite, that used the Brazilian legislature, judiciary system, and media to overthrow the government of President Dilma Rousseff in 2016 and to cause the arrest of President Lula in 2018 (who was then leading the polls in the presidential election). Both were accused of a corruption scheme involving the Brazilian state oil company, and an investigation by Brazil’s judiciary known as Operation Car Wash ensued. The participation of both the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI in that investigation was revealed following a massive leak of the Telegram chats of Operation Car Wash’s lead prosecutor. However, before the U.S. interference was uncovered, the removal of Lula and Dilma from politics brought the right wing back to power in Brasília; Brazil no longer played a leading role in either the regional or the global projects that could weaken U.S. power. Brazil abandoned UNASUR and CELAC, and remains in BRICS only formally—as is also the case with India—weakening the perspective of strategic alliances of the Global South.
In recent years, Latin America has experienced a new wave of progressive governments. The idea of regional integration has returned to the table. After four years without a summit meeting, CELAC reconvened in September 2021 under the leadership of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Argentine President Alberto Fernández. Should Gustavo Petro win the Colombian presidential election in May 2022, and Lula win his campaign for reelection to Brazil’s presidency in October 2022, for the first time in decades, the four largest economies in Latin America (Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and Colombia) would be governed by the center-left, notably supporters of Latin American and Caribbean integration. Lula has said that if he wins the presidency, Brazil will return to CELAC and will resume an active stance in BRICS.
The Global South might be prepared to reemerge by the end of the year and create space for itself within the world order. Evidence for this is in the lack of unanimity that greeted NATO’s attempt to create the largest coalition to sanction Russia. This NATO project has aroused a backlash around the Global South. Even governments that condemn the war (such as Argentina, Brazil, India, and South Africa) do not agree with NATO’s unilateral sanction policy and prefer to support negotiations for a peaceful solution. The idea of resuming a movement of the nonaligned—inspired by the initiative launched at the conference held in Bandung, Indonesia, in 1955—has found resonance in numerous circles.
Their intention is correct. They seek to de-escalate global political tensions, which are a threat to the sovereignty of countries and tend to negatively impact the global economy. The spirit of nonconfrontation, and peace, of the Bandung Conference is urgent today.
But the Non-Aligned Movement emerged as a refusal by Third World countries to choose a side in the polarization between the United States and USSR during the Cold War. They were fighting for their sovereignty and the right to have relations with the countries of both systems, without their foreign policy being decided in Washington or Moscow.
This is not the current scenario. Only the Washington-Brussels axis (and allies) demand alignment with their so-called “rules-based international order.” Those who do not align suffer from sanctions applied against dozens of countries (devastating entire economies, such as those of Venezuela and Cuba), illegal confiscation of hundreds of billions of dollars in assets (as in the cases of Venezuela, Iran, Afghanistan, and Russia), invasions and interference resulting in genocidal wars (as in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Afghanistan), and outside support for “color revolutions” (from Ukraine in 2014 to Brazil in 2016). The demand for alignment comes only from the West, not from China or Russia.
Humanity faces urgent challenges, such as inequality, hunger, the climate crisis, and the threat of new pandemics. To overcome them, regional alliances in the Global South must be able to institute a new multipolarity in global politics. But the usual suspects may have other plans for humanity.
Marco Fernandes is a researcher at Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research (a pillar of the International Peoples’ Assembly). He is a member of the No Cold War campaign and is a co-founder and co-editor of News on China (Dongsheng). He lives in Shanghai.
Image: Native Pride, Fibonacci Blue (CC BY 2.0); Map showing native lands, Native Land Digital (website).
The question has arisen: is the U.S. a settler colonial country? To begin with, the U.S. definitely was founded as a settler colonial state as well as a capitalist state. The most well-known of states in this classification besides the United States are New Zealand, Australia, and Canada. These present-day capitalist states all started as formations of settler colonialism, which was within the development of early-day imperialism. The age of imperialism is generally considered by some non-Marxist historians as beginning in the 15th century. Others advance a date of around 1760. However, I shall adhere to Lenin’s statement from his celebrated work, Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism: “Needless to say, of course, all boundaries in nature and in society are conventional and changeable, and it would be absurd to argue, for example, about the particular year or decade in which imperialism ‘definitely’ became established.”
It would also be “absurd” to argue as to the year or decade that capitalism was established. But the capitalism and imperialism that promoted and was responsible for settler colonialism within present-day U.S. borders did begin in the early 17th century. This of course was not monopoly capitalist imperialism but an early imperialism with many of the features of its early 20th-century counterpart.
Under the imperialist umbrella, what was settler colonialism? First, it was a form of imperialist development. It was the relocation of non-Indigenous people to new territory as permanent settlers. It was the invasion by foreign colonists of Indigenous land with the encroachment authorized by an imperial power and often sponsored by a corporate entity, such as were the Plymouth and Jamestown colonies. In a settler context the objective was commercial, with a search for land and resources to exploit for the benefit of the imperial and business entity. This was expressed by monopoly corporations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when imperialism went into full operation. Imperialism from its incipient stage to its most developed was always in search of new markets.
Settler colonialism preceded the most developed stage of imperialism by over 150 years. Settler colonialism was brutal and barbaric and accompanied by unspeakable atrocities. In this process the Indigenous people were either exterminated or so decimated and isolated as to be reduced to a minority, and the invading settlers became the majority as happened in the U.S. Again, the land was the key resource in this settler colonialism.
By the early 20th century, settler colonialism had done its “dirty work” in the U.S. by nearly wiping out the Indigenous population. From a pre-contact population estimated at over 60 million the numbers of the Native people had been reduced to 237,196 by 1900.
In his Imperialism, Lenin posited that the era of the most developed imperialism began in the early 20th century, with the combining of finance and industrial capital. This combination of capital resulted in the development of monopoly capitalism. Lenin maintained that this was the final stage of capitalism. Unfortunately, there is no telling how long this final stage will endure.
But before the rise of monopoly capitalist imperialism, settler colonialism was established in many areas of the world. A prime example was the Eastern seaboard of the present-day United States. European settlers had been invading this region for decades before the founding in 1776 of the U.S. as a capitalist state, which then embarked on a 100-year-plus campaign of genocide against the country’s Indigenous peoples.
Everywhere across the globe, settler colonialism from the 18th to the 20th centuries pushed Indigenous peoples to the edge of extinction and oftentimes over the edge. In Brazil settler colonization resulted in the genocide of millions of the Indigenous (this reportedly continues in the modern era in the Amazon region), in Newfoundland the Beothuk were no more by the 1820s, in Australia the Aborigines were hunted like wild game, in California genocidal massacres of tens of thousands of the Indigenous were settler organized and even state sponsored, and in Tasmania the Indigenous population was exterminated.
Settler colonialism is a formation of the past, although colonialism lives on. But its intergenerational legacy still resonates with exploitation and racism. This legacy is being combated in a myriad of struggles, all of which require the highest level of working-class unity for the ultimate and complete victory over these racist vestiges of the past that degrade and limit our future. The white component of the working class are no longer settlers, as settler colonial countries have developed into full-blown imperialist states which must see working-class unity for the transition to socialism.
The U.S. working class is very diverse, but a united proletariat of white and non-white workers is a necessary precondition for the overthrow of capitalism. This working class is the most multinational, multiracial strata of society and the most strategic layer capable of fostering revolutionary change. Also, this unity depends on substantial numbers of white workers joining in the struggle that will realize the transition to socialism.
In the book Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat, J. Sakai states that “the white proletariat cannot be revolutionary because they are settlers.” This statement reveals the author’s bias against working-class unity and plays into the hands of the ruling class. White workers are obviously not settlers but a part of the working class and natural allies of the nationally and racially oppressed. To regard them as “settlers” would be a blow against the struggle for unity and would only prolong capitalism.
As for Deb Haaland, Secretary of the Interior, and Sharice Davids, U.S. Representative from Kansas, their involvement in the government should be celebrated because the more progressive Indigenous voices to be heard the better. But working for the government can result in being in an awkward position, as with Haaland’s supporting Biden’s decision to sell new oil and gas leases. Haaland’s predicament had already been foreseen by many in Indian Country who realized that she would be hamstrung on certain decisions. Unfortunately, if she wants to keep her Cabinet position, acquiescence to wrong decisions is required.
As for decolonization as advocated by Indigenous activists, this concept is a legitimate expression of the struggle for Indigenous liberation. Decolonization is represented by the LandBack movement of Native American people.
In reference to the overall Indigenous approach to the Biden administration, I would characterize it as one of employing mass pressure, taking into account Biden’s flip-flops (again referencing his about-face on gas and oil) and foreign policy initiatives (his inflaming the Ukrainian conflict by a massive influx of weaponry). Mass pressure on Biden is required to get the most done. A good example is the Leonard Peltier campaign. To get the most done for Peltier, a march is being organized for his freedom that will begin in Minneapolis on September 1 and culminate on November 22, in Washington, D.C. So far, the mass pressure approach must be brought to bear on Biden to get results.
Albert Bender is a Cherokee Indian. He is a freelance reporter and political columnist for News From Indian Country, and other Native and non-Native publications. He is also a historian and attorney specializing in Native American law. Currently, he is writing a history of the Maya Indian role in the Guatemelan civil war of the late 20th century.
This article was republished from Cpusa.
The United States is hosting a Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, California, on June 6 – 10 to “focus on ’Building a Sustainable, Resilient, and Equitable Future’ for our hemisphere.” The irony of the US-hosted event could not be more in your face: in terms of sustainability, the US is the second largest CO2 emitter, with its pentagon alone ranking as the “world's 55th largest emitter;” in terms of inequality, in the US the “top 0.1 percent hold roughly the same share of our wealth as our bottom 90 percent;” and in terms of providing an ‘equitable future for the hemisphere,’ the US’s continued Monroe doctrine treatment of Latin America as “its own colonial territory,” where it has waged criminal regime change operations for over a century to protect its imperialist sphere of influence, would place it as the last country in the region with the right to talk about an equitable future for the hemisphere.
Nonetheless, the irony of the event is intensified by the US’s exclusion of Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. Apparently, besides blockades, covert terroristic campaigns, and the creation and funding of ‘dissident groups,’ part of the punishment nations face when they prevent US monopolies from owning their counties’ resources or superexploiting their people’s labor power, is also an expulsion from the geographical region their country is in. Like the British colonial ordinance surveys in Ireland, geography itself becomes a tool in the hands of imperialists; the US sees itself capable of determining who is, and who is not, American.
Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) threatened to personally boycott the event if Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua are excluded. He affirmed on May 10th that "If they exclude, if not all are invited, a representative of the Mexican government is going to go, but I would not."
Since AMLO’s statement was made, Bolivia, Honduras, and The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have joined in protest against the exclusion. Bolivian president Luis Arce said that “If the exclusion of our brother peoples persists, I will not participate in it.” Similarly, Honduras’ Xiomara Castro said that “If all our nations are not there, it’s not a summit of the Americas.”
As Fidel Castro once told Salvador Allende in their late 1971 meeting, "This continent has in its belly a creature called Revolution, which is on the way and that inexorably, by biological law, by social law, by the law of history has to be born. And it will be born one way or another." In the context of a returned socialist tide in the region, of the inclusion of various Latin American countries into China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and lastly, of the continued collective rejection of US imperialist narratives and exclusionary events, the grounds are being laid for a sovereign and united patria grande, a condition which is essential for the region’s birthing of the ‘creature called revolution.’
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