With legislative and presidential elections coming up in Colombia, the supposedly “oldest democracy in Latin America” will see if it can consolidate the most precarious and recent peace on the continent.
The Latin American and Caribbean electoral calendar for 2022 promises to be no less hectic than that of the previous year. Among the upcoming elections and referendums that are slated for this year—Costa Rica, Mexico, Chile, Peru, perhaps Haiti—two contests that are expected to attract the most attention, due to the specific geopolitical weight of these respective countries, are the general elections in Brazil, which are supposed to take place in October, and the Colombian parliamentary and presidential elections, slated for the first half of 2022.
After 20 years of governments that have supported the Uribism movement—named after Álvaro Uribe Vélez, who was president of Colombia from 2002 to 2010—and with the eternal backdrop of the armed conflict, Colombia is not only playing for change but also for the future of an unfinished peace process.
What Will the Electoral Process in Colombia Look Like?
The electoral agenda in Colombia will begin with the parliamentary election on March 13, in which citizens will have to elect a total of 108 senators and 188 members of the House of Representatives. In the Senate, 100 seats will be chosen by national constituency; two by the special constituency for Indigenous peoples; one will go to the presidential candidate who gets the second-highest number of votes—the so-called “opposition statute”; and five will automatically correspond to the political representation of the Comunes party—which was created in 2017 by members of the former FARC party (Common Alternative Revolutionary Force) following the 2016 Havana peace accords.
As for the House of Representatives, 161 seats will be elected by territorial constituencies in the 32 departments of the country and in Bogota, the capital district. One seat will go to the vice presidential candidate who receives the second-most votes under the opposition statute; two will go to Afro-Colombian peoples; one will be for the Raizal community of the archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina; one will go to Colombians living abroad—estimated to be around 4.7 million people according to the 2012 figures provided by Colombia’s Foreign Ministry; one seat will be for Indigenous peoples; five seats will again be for the Comunes party; and 16 seats will be for the special constituency for peace, by which 167 rural municipalities will participate to elect candidates who will represent the 9 million victims of the internal armed conflict officially recognized by the state.
In addition, coinciding with the parliamentary election on March 13, the various parties in Colombia will also elect the presidential candidates during the internal consultations of the coalitions that will go to the polls, in a scheme that seems to increasingly blur the traditional liberal-conservative bipartisan scheme present throughout Colombian history. Elections for the positions of president and vice president, both of whom will hold office until 2026, will take place on May 29. If no ticket wins more than 50 percent of the votes, there will be a second round of voting on June 19.
The Crisis of Uribism and the Favoritism of the Historic Pact
In Parliament, the ruling Democratic Center, which is the party formed by former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe Vélez, could lose its present first minority in the Senate, with 19 seats, and second minority in the House, with 32, due to the high disapproval ratings for President Iván Duque (whose disapproval ratings reached 75 percent, according to an Invamer survey of September 2021) and for his mentor Uribe (who had a disapproval rating of 68 percent). The latter is accused of being responsible for a notorious case of witness tampering that led to a judge placing him under house arrest for two months in August 2020. And he has also been associated with the “alleged electoral corruption” scandal also called “ñeñepolítica,” according to which the renowned drug trafficker José “Ñeñe” Guillermo Hernández had contributed drug money for the purchase of votes in the 2018 presidential election in Colombia, as was revealed by journalists Julián Martínez and Gonzalo Guillén of La Nueva Prensa.
But the fact that best explains the electoral panorama in Colombia, which was unthinkable just a couple of years ago, is the national strike of 2021, accompanied by a series of massive protests in rural areas and in some of the main cities of the country, such as Bogotá and Cali, in rejection of the tax reform bill presented by Duque. The escalation of repression by the Armed Forces, the ESMAD (Colombia’s Anti-Disturbance Mobile Squadron) and even the deployment of paramilitary groups in several departmental capitals contributed to the crisis and provided visibility to these protests at the international level.
According to the nonprofit organization Temblores—which “[documented] practices of police violence” during the national strike in Colombia—between April 28 and June 26, 2021, there were 44 homicides allegedly at the hands of the security forces (another 29 homicides remained undetermined with regard to the exact cause of death); 1,617 victims of physical violence; 82 cases of violence resulting in eye injuries to the victims; 28 victims of sexual violence; and 2,005 arbitrary detentions against the demonstrators. Providing varying figures, Human Rights Watch, Indepaz and the Ombudsman’s Office, along with other nonprofits and agencies, also validated the numerous cases of human rights violations during the demonstrations that took place in Colombia.
In the midst of this crisis, and after a long dance of seduction and rejection with the right wing that was not associated with Uribe, the candidate chosen by the ruling party, former Minister of Finance Óscar Iván Zuluaga, stated in January 2022 that he will run alone on behalf of the Democratic Center, a move that will most likely diminish the electoral prospects of the Democratic Center.
In addition to the governing party, there will be three other coalitions that will “aim to define single candidates among different political forces” on March 13. From the left to the center-left is the Historic Pact Coalition, which brings together “presidential pre-candidates,” such as former mayor of Bogotá Gustavo Petro for the Colombia Humana and Afro-Colombian social leader Francia Márquez for the Soy Porque Somos (“I am because we are”) movement. Other “political movements” that form part of the Historic Pact Coalition are Patriotic Union—a party that has survived the “genocide for political reasons” of more than 5,000 of its militants and leaders in the 1980s; the Colombian Communist Party; the Alternative Democratic Pole; the Indigenous and Social Alternative Movement (MAIS); the People’s Congress; and the party of former Congresswoman Piedad Córdoba, Movimiento Poder Ciudadano, among others. Even figures who used to be part of Uribe’s Democratic Center party, such as Roy Barreras and Armando Benedetti, have come out in support of the Historic Pact.
Few doubts remain about the favoritism of Petro, the coalition’s main builder, who started his electoral campaign on January 14 in the locality of Bello, in the department of Antioquia—a historic bastion of Uribism—under the slogan “if Antioquia changes, Colombia changes.” Petro, a former militant of the guerrilla group known as the April 19 Movement in the 1970s and 1980s, built his political capital as a senator when he was elected in 2006 and as a denouncer of the so-called “parapolitics”—the collusion of politicians and paramilitaries during the demobilization process of the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC)—during Uribe’s first term as president. Petro revalidated his capital later, in his tenure as mayor of Bogotá, until his removal by Attorney General Alejandro Ordóñez in 2013, in one of the region’s first lawfare cases. As a presidential candidate, Petro received promising poll numbers from Invamer: 48.4 percent of voting intention, very close to victory in the first round, and a comfortable 68.3 percent in the second round.
In second place is a centrist group, the Hope Center Coalition, which includes the Dignity Party, the Revolutionary Independent Labor Movement or MOIR, New Liberalism and Citizens’ Commitment, the party of the best-positioned candidate of the coalition, the former mayor of Medellín and former governor of Antioquia, Sergio Fajardo.
Lastly, and to the right of the political spectrum, is the Coalición Equipo por Colombia (Team for Colombia), a league of former mayors and governors of conservative orientation. The coalition consists of Creemos Colombia, the party of the former mayor of Medellín Federico Gutiérrez; País de Oportunidades, the party of Alejandro Char, the powerful politician and businessman of Syrian and Lebanese descent who was formerly the governor of Atlántico and mayor of Barranquilla, in Colombia’s Caribbean coast region; the Partido de la U, who declined the candidacy of its president Dilian Francisca Toro and will support the former mayor of Bogotá Enrique Peñalosa; and finally, with less competitive candidacies, the traditional Colombian Conservative Party and the MIRA Movement Party.
The Armed Conflict and the Absence of Political and Electoral Guarantees
Due to the multicultural approach of the pioneering 1991 Constitution, Colombian electoral law provides for special ethnic representations, according to local considerations. In addition to the political and economic exclusion of Indigenous, Black, Afro-Colombian, Raizal and Palenquero communities, and the postponement in the inclusion of entire regions in Colombia, such as the Pacific, the Orinoco and the Colombian Amazon, there is an urgent need for the representation of victims and former combatants of a conflict that only seems to be worsening, despite the partial and formal achievement of peace five years ago under the Havana peace accords.
The worst consequences of the “decades of conflict” in Colombia have been the death of more than 600 social leaders and human rights defenders since the Havana agreements, according to the 2020 figures provided by the United Nations; the 6,402 so-called “false positives,” a state crime that involved the murder of civilians presented as guerrillas killed in combat; the continued armed activity of FARC dissidents, the National Liberation Army (ELN) and, above all, of numerous paramilitary formations such as the Gulf Clan; the more than 90 massacres committed in 2021 and 14 massacres that have been reported so far this year, according to the Institute of Development and Peace Studies (Indepaz); and, finally, the rising tensions on the Colombian-Venezuelan border, particularly in the Colombian departments of Norte de Santander and Arauca. In the latter area, the Ombudsman’s Office established that 33 people were killed and 170 families were displaced by the actions of irregular groups.
The continuity of the conflict in Colombia, and the fact that the so-called “anti-subversive” policy has historically been the main workhorse of Uribism, explain some of the uncertainty that governs the Colombian political and electoral panorama. The same happens in relation to electoral guarantees, as seen during the allegations of fraud and vote-buying in 2018. And even in relation to the personal safety of the candidates, considering the death threats that the paramilitaries of the Águilas Negras-Bloque Capital made to Petro on December 4, 2021, or to the contemporary history of a country in which, in the last century alone, seven presidential candidates have been assassinated.
It remains to be seen if arguably the “oldest democracy in Latin America” can, in the times to come, manage to consolidate the most precarious and recently achieved peace in the continent.
Lautaro Rivara is a sociologist, researcher and poet. As a trained journalist, he participated as an activist in different spaces of communications work, covering tasks of editing, writing, radio broadcasts, and photography. During his two years in the Jean-Jacques Dessalines Brigade in Haiti he was responsible for communications and carried out political education with Haitian people’s movements in this area. He writes regularly in people’s media projects of Argentina and the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean including Nodal, ALAI, Telesur, Resumen Latinoamericano, Pressenza, la RedH, Notas, Haití Liberte, Alcarajo, and more. Find him on Twitter @LautaroRivara.
Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov speaks at a news conference in Moscow. The CPRF Zyuganov leads has pushed a resolution through the Russian parliament urging the government to recognize the independence of the Russian-speaking breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics in eastern Ukraine. | Pavel Golovkin / AP
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article is an edited version of an opinion piece written by Gennady Zyuganov, leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. It was published on Feb. 14, 2022, the day before the State Duma, Russia’s Parliament, voted on a CPRF resolution calling on the government to officially recognize the independence of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic.
In recent weeks, the situation around Ukraine has sharply escalated. There are accusations of Russia’s intention to act as an occupier. In fact, the cause of the crisis is that the Washington puppeteers of the Kiev leadership and the fascist forces there are persistently trying to organize a massacre in the Donbass region. For the sake of solving their geopolitical tasks, they are ready to arrange another large-scale bloodshed.
The Pentagon and even the leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine declare that they see no signs of impending aggression from Russia. American intelligence, having lived through the shame of lies about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, does not seem to want a new humiliation. But this does not stop Western politicians who habitually ignore the obvious: A “hybrid war” is being continued against Russia using lies, fraud, and disinformation.
Yes, Russia has interests concerning the former Soviet republics on its borders, including Ukraine. These are the interests of peace and good neighborliness, a calm and dignified life for citizens, economic development, and cultural cooperation.
Meanwhile, the West has demonstrated its readiness to rely on the most reactionary circles to pursue its interests. The predecessors of the current fascist groups in Ukraine—Stepan Bandera’s Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, which collaborated with Hitler—are directly guilty of the genocide of the Russian, Belarusian, and their own peoples.
It was their punitive detachments that carried out the most brutal reprisals against the population of the partisan regions of Belarus during the Great Patriotic War [World War II], burning the inhabitants of hundreds of villages alive. Today, their vile successors in the fascist organizations inside the Ukrainian army, with their aggressive Russophobia and anti-Semitism, are welcomed by Western politicians.
More than 600,000 residents of the DPR and LPR have already received citizenship of the Russian Federation. Our country is directly responsible for their safety and lives. We cannot allow any fascist reprisal against these people. Russia has already seen enough of these deeds. As a result of the barbaric shelling of cities and villages of the DPR and LPR, more than 15,000 civilians have been killed. Tens of thousands of men and women, the elderly, and children were injured. Hundreds of thousands became refugees.
The Communist Party of the Russian Federation and our allies have firmly defined our political line in this situation…. We firmly know that the peoples of Russia and Ukraine do not want a war. Such a war would also run counter to the fundamental interests of Europe. But the ruling powers of the United States appear to want it.
Washington has been defeated in every war in recent decades. Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan are just some of the countries in which the United States has unleashed wars and ingloriously lost. This time, its leaders are eager to fight by proxy in Ukraine. The Washington “hawks” have set out to turn Ukrainians into cannon fodder. Political cover, the supply of weapons, the activities of Western military instructors—all this openly pushes the authorities in Kiev toward a bloody military adventure.
U.S. imperialists’ task is not to protect Ukraine, but to crawl out of the acute crisis of capitalism. It is extremely important for them to score new profits by torpedoing the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline [between Germany and Russia] and hooking the EU economy on the needle of expensive liquefied natural gas from the U.S. This is part of the true rationale behind the current military crisis in Ukraine.
Russia is finally moving away from the pernicious idolatry of the West…. It’s time to show our character in the Donbass. We are surrounded by a chain of unfriendly states. It is impossible to retreat further. The West must feel Russia’s determination to defend itself and its friends.
Of course, only a fundamental change in the path of Russia’s development will ensure a truly effective protection of the rights of the broad masses of the people in our country. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation does not accept the ongoing socio-economic course of the Putin government and offers the working people a program of transformation and a path toward socialist revival. But there are also issues that need to be addressed immediately.
Western governments and their minions in Kiev trampled on the Minsk agreements [which would have guaranteed autonomy for the DNR and LNR]. At this extremely alarming and crucial moment in our history, we call on the deputies of the State Duma, regardless of party affiliation, to show their will and support our initiative for the Russian Federation to officially recognize the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics.
Dangerous provocations can no longer be tolerated. Russia cannot allow the capture of the cities and villages of the two People’s Republics by fascist forces in Ukraine; it cannot ignore the threat of a massacre of the civilian population by brutal forces with the blessing of NATO. Warmongers must remember the truth that comes from the depths of centuries: “He who lives the sword perishes by the sword.”
The cause of peace on our planet will always be under threat as long as the supporters of aggression have their hands on the sword. The time has come to fulfill the mission Russians know all too well by experience and firmly say “no” to any international war.
Gennady Andreyevich Zyuganov has been the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and served as Member of the State Duma since 1993. He is also a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe since 1996.
This article was produced by People's World.
“Profit is always a social theft of value produced by workers, a value that workers produce but never receive. Capitalism is, at its core, a system based on unpaid labour.”
A few days ago, I bought a dress from H&M which cost around £15 from the sale, and the label read, ‘made in Pakistan.’ There was another dress which I bought from Zara, (£24) and the label said, ‘made in Myanmar’. My trajectory of thoughts made me ask these questions, I am here in the developed world wearing clothes made by factory workers from the developing world and even my own home country, Pakistan, do these workers really know anything about these brands such as Zara and H&M? do they know the products they create are sold in high end markets in the developed countries bought by the privileged class who have little or no idea who the real creators of those products are and in which working conditions these beautiful clothes are made? This observation inspired me to write about the conditions of factory workers from Asian markets who are the real producers of these global apparel brands. This essay is an attempt to analyze the concept of ‘work from the perspective of the global majority for whom waged employment is not the norm’ through a case study of factory workers based in Asian markets, who faced ‘wage theft’ during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Recently an extensive report was published by the ‘Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA)’, which is a pan-Asian labor rights group. The report titled ‘Money Heist Covid-19 Wage Theft in Global Garment Supply Chains’- explored the impact of ‘wage theft’ during the Covid-19 pandemic in the six major Asian countries -India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Bangladesh, where factory workers are the major producers of garments for the world’s largest fashion brands (H&M, Zara, Adidas, Next, etc.,). Wage theft’ is a term used in global garment supply chains- where there is an in-balance of power between multinationals, suppliers and workers, consequently, it enables extreme exploitation of the labor in the global South. Legal complaints are being filed against these multi-national clothing brands for violation of human rights during the pandemic – many factory workers in these Asian countries were either denied access to their wages or there was a shortfall and gap in the wage delivery, due to cancelation of orders by these multinationals who subcontract their production to the suppliers in the Asian markets (global commodity chains). According to the report generated by AFWA, this resulted in poverty and precarity of millions of garment workers across Asia. The report suggests- these global apparel brands along with their suppliers in the Asian markets, should be considered joint employers of these factory workers under international law, legal complaints have already been filed in India and Sri Lanka. The core takes away from that report emphasizes on the fact that these global fashion brands have total economic control over the whole production process, thus they should take joint liability of their workers and be tried for alleged ‘wage theft’ in major garment producing countries.
One could then argue, how this abstract macro level process of the world economy is related to the precarity and suffering of factory workers from the global South- stitching clothes for these multinational clothing brands? These multinationals from the global North often put strict conditions and unreasonable demands to their suppliers from the global South who cater to multinationals that produce high end consumer goods. These conditions result in creating difficulty in supplier’s production process which in turn put factory workers at the disadvantaged end- over time work and exploitation of the labor. This systematic exploitation of the factory workers is a direct result of the conditions put forth by multinationals, often in the form of international business standardizations – one of the conditions is the imposition of delivery on demand by global brands which suppliers are bound to implement- known as ‘buffering policy’. On demand delivery condition means- the finished product should be ready and stored in the warehouses at the supplier’s end, only to be sent when the customers of these global brands require them. Moreover, suppliers from the global South created a policy to accommodate up-to twenty percent increase and decrease to their client’s demand, and the cost of this twenty percent margin rests on the suppliers’ shoulders, even in case of storage or waste of the finished product and raw material. This is how multinationals make huge profits, through outsourcing their production, they externalize the costs which could incur from the fluctuating market demands, putting all risk burden on the supplier’s end, which disrupts their internal working and production efficiency in case of any loss. When we look at the global supply chain mechanism- and if we combine the measurement of wages and productivity, the countries who are the major participants in global labor value chains (India, Indonesia, and China) have very low labor costs. Low labor costs and high productivity is observed in the data from these countries from the global South- which implies higher profit margins for the global North apparel brands, there is an unequal exchange.
The question arises- why do the suppliers from the global South, provide production services to the multinationals, when there is an asymmetrical power relation between them? With lack of business opportunities in their own country (no social security or benefit from state) they had no option but to get exploited and make money even by remaining at the disadvantaged end. The paradox of precarity under neoliberal capitalism is that “the only thing worse than being exploited is not being exploited” (Denning 2010). Asian garment production countries have relied on global apparel supply chains as a pathway to economic growth and development for the past several decades to generate employment and provide wages that would lift millions of wage dependent populations in Asia out of poverty.
Focusing on the report of Covid-19–related wage theft in the global garment supply chains released by the ‘Asia Floor Wage Alliance’
“Factory owners in Pakistan denied more than $85 million in wages to 244,510 workers from a sample of 50 industrial units in the name of order cancellations and non-payment for existing orders from global brands. About 81pc of the workers were pushed below the World Bank-determined poverty line, measured at $3.20 a day on a purchasing power parity basis, between March and May of 2020.”
Similar statistics were observed in the rest of the countries from the global South, the table below indicates the impact of wage theft by global fashion brands on poverty and debt across Asian garment production countries like Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Sri-Lanka.
Image source: Asia Floor Wage Alliance
These workers with an average five years of work experience- they couldn’t even sustain for a month without reducing consumption, taking debts, or selling their own assets. One garment worker at a Tesco supplier factory in Pakistan said, “They were given 2000 PKR (12 USD) as a compensation after being laid off, later she worked in a retail shop which gave them 5 PKR (0.032 USD) per piece, her kids were taken out of school to work with her.”
Another man who worked for an Adidas supplier factory in Faisalabad Pakistan said “I worked in a factory for three years, after I was terminated in May (2020), no social security or severance benefits were provided by the factory. I started working as a daily wage worker in another garment factory, which pays around 500 PKR (3 USD) for a 10-hour work shift. He took debt to pay the medical bills of his ailing father, later he sold his cow to pay back the debt”.
“I tried to commit suicide soon after I was laid off in May, as I was four months pregnant and had no money to feed myself or my two other children. I have removed my children from school, as I could not pay for their books or their school fees. In October, I had to take on more debt to meet my pregnancy related expenses. As repaying this debt became difficult, I asked my 15-year-old son to find work in some neighbourhood shops.” - pregnant worker who was laid off without wages from a Levi’s supplier factory in Pakistan
“I have been buying food on credit since April, so that I can save some cash to send to my family. I also pawned the only gold necklace I have in July… At least, if the company paid us for our overtime work, life would not have been this difficult.” - worker from a Next supplier factory in Sri Lanka who was forced to perform unpaid overtime work
On similar accounts of exploitation by global clothing brands- Uniqlo one of the largest apparel maker by their value, the wealth of the company’s CEO had reached $25 billion in 2018, within same period when the company made huge profits, two thousand workers from Indonesia who produced Uniqlo products were laid off without giving any sort of severance benefits or wages. Uniqlo suspended their contract with the supplier in Indonesia due to quality issues as stated by the brand, which reinforces the idea on “how the global production manipulates and reconfigures difference” (Shakya, 2018). Zara or its parent brand Inditex sells one of its product ‘Respect’ hoodies at an average price of 27 euros, it profits approximately 4.20 euros (pre-tax) on each hoody. “The wages of all the workers involved in production – from the cotton fields in India to the spinning mill in Kayseri, central Turkey, to the factories in Izmir where the hoodies are sewn and printed – totaled an estimated 2.08 euros which is less than half of the profit that Zara makes.”
There is a need to deconstruct the restrictive frameworks of ‘commodification’ and ‘Third world’ - that position certain populations at the forefront of ‘development’ and ‘progress’ and confine others to the waiting room of history. These global fashion brands when confronted about the ‘wage theft’ often deny that they have a joint legal obligation to compensate the losses incurred by the factory workers who sew their garments, that put workers from the global South at a vulnerable position. This asymmetrical process in which corporations from the global North exercise control over the global South labour, reinforces that the ‘decentralization of power’ within global supply chain is a fallacious claim. Our present global economic system thrives on the inequality between the global South and global North with later in a commanding position, this pattern is not an organic consequence of ‘globalization’ rather a new form of imperialism.
What if labour costs become high in these Asia markets, would the living standards in the global North remain maintained? This reminds me of the words by one of my Marxist professors. “England is rich because India is poor.” Lastly, going back to the argument at the start of this essay, buying from these apparel brands like Zara and H&M, I feel equally complicit in the exploitation of the labor from the global South, however I am working on reorienting my choices with a hope to come out of this vicious cycle of commodification.
Campbell, Stephen. 2018. Border capitalism, disrupted: Precarity and struggle in a Southeast Asian industrial zone. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Millar, Kathleen. 2018. Reclaiming the discarded: Life and labour on Rio’s garbage dump. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Shakya, Mallika. 2018. Death of an industry: The cultural politics of garment manufacturing during the Maoist Revolution in Nepal. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Smith, John. 2016. Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century: Globalization, Super-Exploitation, and Capitalism’s Final Crisis. United States: Monthly Review Press.
Standing, G. 2016. The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class. London: Bloomsbury Academic
“Money He$t Covid-19 Wage Theft in Global Garment Supply Chains”, Asia Floor Wage Alliance, July, 2021.
Sonia Gulzeb Abbasi is originally from a superb village of KPK Province in Pakistan, she was also born in a mountainous city known as Murree -which was a former British Administrated summer resort (1876). From Bioinformatics to International Relations to Anthropological research - the curiosity to find puzzled pieces of our colonial past and maybe add a wee bit of contribution from a native’s perspective. Sonia finds time in her busy schedule to climb mountains, nowadays she is in London, dismantling the white privilege at school with grace (literally).
The Western Allied Nations Bully the World While Warning of Threats From China and Russia. By: Vijay PrashadRead Now
On January 21, 2022, Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach attended a talk in New Delhi, India, organized by the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses. Schönbach was speaking as the chief of Germany’s navy during his visit to the institute. “What he really wants is respect,” Schönbach said, referring to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. “And my god, giving someone respect is low cost, even no cost.” Furthermore, Schönbach said that in his opinion, “It is easy to even give him the respect he really demands and probably also deserves.”
The next day, on January 22, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba summoned Germany’s ambassador to Ukraine, Anka Feldhusen, to Kyiv and “expressed deep disappointment” regarding the lack of German weapons provided to Ukraine and also about Schönbach’s comments in New Delhi. Vice Admiral Schönbach released a statement soon after, saying, “I have just asked the Federal Minister of Defense [Christine Lambrecht] to release me from my duties and responsibilities as inspector of the navy with immediate effect.” Lambrecht did not wait long to accept the resignation.
Why was Vice Admiral Schönbach sacked? Because he said two things that are unacceptable in the West: first, that “the Crimean Peninsula is gone and never [coming] back” to Ukraine and, second, that Putin should be treated with respect. The Schönbach affair is a vivid illustration of the problem that confronts the West currently, where Russian behavior is routinely described as “aggression” and where the idea of giving “respect” to Russia is disparaged.
U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration began to use the word “imminent” to describe a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine toward the end of January. On January 18, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki did not use the word “imminent,” but implied it with her comment: “Our view is this is an extremely dangerous situation. We’re now at a stage where Russia could at any point launch an attack in Ukraine.” On January 25, Psaki, while referring to the possible timeline for a Russian invasion, said, “I think when we said it was imminent, it remains imminent.” Two days later, on January 27, when she was asked about her use of the word “imminent” with regard to the invasion, Psaki said, “Our assessment has not changed since that point.”
On January 17, as the idea of an “imminent” Russian “invasion” escalated in Washington, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov rebuked the suggestion of “the so-called Russian invasion of Ukraine.” Three days later, on January 20, spokeswoman for Russia’s Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova denied that Russia would invade Ukraine, but said that the talk of such an invasion allowed the West to intervene militarily in Ukraine and threaten Russia.
Even a modicum of historical memory could have improved the debate about Russian military intervention in Ukraine. In the aftermath of the Georgian-Russian conflict in 2008, the European Union’s Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Conflict in Georgia, headed by Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini, found that the information war in the lead-up to the conflict was inaccurate and inflammatory. Contrary to Georgian-Western statements, Tagliavini said, “[T]here was no massive Russian military invasion underway, which had to be stopped by Georgian military forces shelling Tskhinvali.” The idea of Russian “aggression” that has been mentioned in recent months, while referring to the possibility of Russia invading Ukraine, replicates the tone that preceded the conflict between Georgia and Russia, which was another dispute about old Soviet borders that should have been handled diplomatically.
Western politicians and media outlets have used the fact that 100,000 Russian troops have been stationed on Ukraine’s border as a sign of “aggression.” The number—100,000—sounds threatening, but it has been taken out of context. To invade Iraq in 1991, the United States and its allies amassed more than 700,000 troops as well as the entire ensemble of U.S. war technology located in its nearby bases and on its ships. Iraq had no allies and a military force depleted by the decade-long war of attrition against Iran. Ukraine’s army—regular and reserve--number about 500,000 troops (backed by the 1.5 million troops in NATO countries). With more than a million soldiers in uniform, Russia could have deployed many more troops at the Ukrainian border and would need to have done so for a full-scale invasion of a NATO partner country.
The word “respect” used by Vice Admiral Schönbach is key to the discussion regarding the emergence of both Russia and China as world powers. The conflict is not merely about Ukraine, just as the conflict in the South China Sea is not merely about Taiwan. The real conflict is about whether the West will allow both Russia and China to define policies that extend beyond their borders.
Russia, for instance, was not seen as a threat or as aggressive when it was in a less powerful position in comparison to the West after the collapse of the USSR. During the tenure of Russian President Boris Yeltsin (1991-1999), the Russian government encouraged the looting of the country by oligarchs—many of whom now reside in the West—and defined its own foreign policy based on the objectives of the United States. In 1994, “Russia became the first country to join NATO’s Partnership for Peace,” and that same year, Russia began a three-year process of joining the Group of Seven, which in 1997 expanded into the Group of Eight. Putin became president of Russia in 2000, inheriting a vastly depleted country, and promised to build it up so that Russia could realize its full potential.
In the aftermath of the collapse of the Western credit markets in 2007-2008, Putin began to speak about the new buoyancy in Russia. In 2015, I met a Russian diplomat in Beirut, who explained to me that Russia worried that various Western-backed maneuvers threatened Russia’s access to its two warm-water ports—in Sevastopol, Crimea, and in Tartus, Syria; it was in reaction to these provocations, he said, that Russia acted in both Crimea (2014) and Syria (2015).
The United States made it clear during the administration of President Barack Obama that both Russia and China must stay within their borders and know their place in the world order. An aggressive policy of NATO expansion into Eastern Europe and of the creation of the Quad (Australia, India, Japan and the United States) drew Russia and China into a security alliance that has only strengthened over time. Both Putin and China’s President Xi Jinping recently agreed that NATO’s expansion eastward and Taiwan’s independence were not acceptable to them. China and Russia see the West’s actions in both Eastern Europe and Taiwan as provocations by the West against the ambitions of these Eurasian powers.
That same Russian diplomat to whom I spoke in Beirut in 2015 said something to me that remains pertinent: “When the U.S. illegally invaded Iraq, none of the Western press called it ‘aggression.’”
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.
The newcomer to Bob Garrou’s high school wrestling program had won his first match, and was growing in confidence, when he abruptly quit the team.
It sickened Garrou to learn why. A local store summarily fired the teen when he balked at working more than the 16 hours he already put in each week, leading the dejected youth to conclude he had to give up sports so he’d be available to cater to his next employer’s every whim.
Rather than provide the decent wages and health care needed to hire adults, more and more employers prefer to line their pockets on the backs of vulnerable teenagers like the young man who left Garrou’s team.
The abuse skyrocketed as employers cut corners in the COVID-19 economy. A Walgreens in South Carolina flouted child labor laws by hiring a 12-year-old. Alabama chicken plants exploited migrant teens to keep production going. A 16-year-old boy tripped and fell 11 stories to his death after a contractor illegally put him to work on the roof of a Tennessee hotel.
Other callous employers assigned teens prohibited work like operating potentially lethal machinery, climbing ladders and working as deckhands, while chains like Wendy’s and Chipotle drove youths to work ever longer hours, often past legal limits. And if all of that isn’t bad enough, some Republicans want to make it even easier for bosses to take advantage of young workers.
Garrou said he’s grateful that Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on February 4 vetoed a bill, passed by the GOP-controlled legislature, that would have let some employers dramatically extend working hours for 14- and 15-year-olds across the state.
Wisconsin law mandates quitting times of 7 p.m. during the school year and 9 p.m. during the summer for workers in that age group. But the Republicans’ bill--opposed by the Child Labor Coalition—would have allowed smaller businesses to work them until 11 p.m. as long as schools were closed the following day.
“They’re trying to hold these kids hostage because they don’t want to pay adults a real wage,” noted Garrou, who in addition to coaching wrestling and other youth sports is the president of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 248 and safety coordinator at a Packaging Corp. of America facility in Wisconsin.
As COVID-19 raged, millions of adults quit their jobs, fed up with greedy employers who not only failed to pay decent wages but also refused to provide the health care and sick leave they needed to survive the pandemic. Struggling to remain open, yet unwilling to meet adult workers’ needs, employers set their sights on teenagers.
One restaurant chain CEO who’s hired dozens of teens put it this way: “We need bodies.”
“I think it’s a shame,” Garrou said. “Kids need to focus on being young because they’ll work the rest of their lives.”
Garrou worked on a strawberry farm when he was a teenager and credits the job with helping him develop a strong work ethic.
But he didn’t work during the school year, so the job never interfered with the sports and other character-building activities that benefited him just as much.
It isn’t just the number of hours employers demand of teens that bothers Garrou today. Just as maddening is how inflexible they are with youths trying to juggle multiple responsibilities, with some managers demanding that young workers arrive “by 3:30” and “stay until close” no matter what else goes on in their lives.
Because of the way the store treated the young wrestler, Garrou said, he’ll never spend a dollar there again.
“They wouldn’t even talk to him,” Garrou said. “They said he chose wrestling over work and didn’t want to have anything to do with him anymore.”
Garrou, calling 16 hours a week a demanding workload for a high school student, tried to reason with one of the managers. He offered to let the teen leave practice early if the manager would compromise as well.
“Can’t we work together?” he asked.
“She said no. She said, ‘You don’t know what it’s like to be a boss these days.’”
A desire to enable this kind of employer, at the expense of young workers, drove a recent upending of Indiana’s child labor law.
Among other changes, the Republican-controlled legislature eliminated special rest breaks for teenage workers and abolished the work permits that schools had to issue in order for minors to hold jobs. That system enabled educators to ensure students had good attendance and academic records before starting jobs while also providing schools a ready means of monitoring young workers.
Now, employers merely have to go onto a state database and register the teens they hire, a process the state boasts is much faster and more convenient for bosses.
State officials claimed work permits are no longer required to protect children’s academic progress because the problem has been solved.
“I think that’s baloney,” said Dorine Godinez, president of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR) Chapter 31-1, noting the change addresses “corporate wants” while putting teens’ futures at risk. “They need to focus on their education so they can get family-sustaining jobs.”
Lawmakers not only sold out teen workers but also tried to put a positive spin on the betrayal, even giving the Bureau of Child Labor a new deceptively feel-good name.
It’s now called the Bureau of Youth Employment. “Sounds a little better,” declared Republican Rep. Randy Lyness.
“It seems like Republicans always have misnomers for what they’re doing,” observed Godinez, who worked as a safety coordinator at what’s now Cleveland-Cliffs’ East Chicago, Indiana, complex, recalling the GOP’s countless attacks on workers’ rights.
As employers increasingly look to prey on adolescents, the teens will need more protection rather than less.
Garrou worries about youths walking into dark parking lots at night and falling asleep at the wheel driving home. He knows teens’ rash judgment, along with their eagerness to please, can kill them.
“A 14-year-old will rush in,” Garrou said. “A 20-year-old will ask why.”
This article was produced by the Independent Media Institute.
Under bourgeois democracy, there prevails a specific kind of interrelationship between political society and civil society, between the moment of force and the moment of consent. Governmental apparatuses are tasked with penetrating the masses from without, in order to impose capitalist ideologies on them and organize people in the forced, artificial unity of intermediate bodies. The consent thus obtained is overdetermined by coercion. As Antonio Gramsci writes in §47 of Notebook 1: “Government by consent of the governed, but an organized consent, not the vague and generic kind which is declared at the time of elections: the State has and demands consent, but it also “educates” this consent through political and trade-union associations which, however, are private organisms, left to the private initiative of the ruling class.”
While the ruling class does shape and maintain consent in civil society, the latter also possesses a relative autonomy from political society. This derives from the internal mechanisms of the bourgeoisie’s hegemonic project: to gain consent, the ruling class has to interact with the many demands arising from the class conflicts that are constitutive of capitalist society. In this process, the collective structures of civil society are given a bivalent character. On the one hand, they serve as the instruments through which the elite exercises consensual power. On the other hand, insofar that the bourgeoisie has to maintain a power equilibrium through the extension of concessions to subalterns, the organisms of civil society also function as the principal vehicle for the actions of these oppressed classes. The specific composition of this duality can change depending on the course of class struggle.
Alan Shandro writes: “[their] contrasting approaches to the struggle for hegemony yielded opposing readings of the soviets: both Mensheviks and Bolsheviks knew them as organizing committees for a general strike, but where the former conceived of them as the site of a kind of proletarian model parliament, Lenin attributed to them the potential of embodying an alliance of workers and peasants and assuming state power. Thus in 1905, where the Bolsheviks sought to organize insurrection through the soviets, the Mensheviks supposed that a focus on insurrection would undermine the process of working-class self-education”. In other words, Bolsheviks gave a concrete character to proletarian education by considering it as part of the contestations involved in the bourgeois-democratic revolution, which could either result in the destruction of Tsarism or a transition dominated by a landlord-bourgeois coalition.
The Russian experience explains that civil society is intimately tied with relations of force. It can’t be understood as a “battle of ideas” in which the working class has to merely present its own ideology to bring about a revolution. On the contrary, civil society has to be considered as an unequal terrain of ideological war, constituted by the ruling class with the help of various hegemonic apparatuses. Consent, in other words, in an effect of the materiality of state institutions. The structural presence of these material apparatuses is ignored by those socialists who vainly search for an external vantage point from which they can launch a struggle for the educational emancipation of the proletariat. In contrast, Lenin – to use Shandro’s words – “conceived the “self-knowledge of the working class” …as inherently bound up with a theoretical-practical understanding of every class and stratum in society; he situated the hegemonic political project, correspondingly, in the context of a strategic matrix of struggle around state power. The independent activity of the working class is expressed by impressing its interests upon the course of class struggles.”
Since civil society is an extension of the state - conditioned by the exigencies of the mode of production – it can’t be considered as an unproblematic area of socialist struggle. Instead, we need to comprehend how the private ensembles of civil society are internally linked to the politically confined system of the modern state; a viewpoint that overlooks these linkages will eventually come up against the limits of the bourgeois state. These limits are established by the many institutional complexes possessed by the state. In §83 of Notebook 7, Gramsci notes: “Public opinion is the political content of the public’s political will that can be dissentient; therefore, there is a struggle for the monopoly of the organs of public opinion – newspapers, political parties, parliament – so that only one force will mold public opinion and hence the political will of the nation, while reducing the dissenters to individual and disconnected specks of dust.”
A viable socialist perspective has to recognize the fact that unless the state is taken over by the proletariat, elements of resistance and mass movements in civil society will remain embryos, susceptible to fragmentation and dispersion. So, while the consciousness of the subaltern is contradictory, split by the diverse rhythms of the opposing class projects found in civil society, the coherence and submissiveness of the subject is ultimately guaranteed by the juridical-political practices of the state. The Left, instead of trying to escape from this reality of state power, has to sap it through a concrete movement of contradictions that identifies the vulnerabilities of the state. As Peter D. Thomas argues:
“It is…not a question of subtracting the deformations of the existing political society in order to reveal a hard core of ‘politics’ in the Real, be it in social antagonism, civil society or an indeterminate place beyond it. On the contrary, in so far as the hypostatized forms of the bourgeois political really do determine the conceptual space in which politics in this social formation can occur…it is much more a case of determining the particular forms of practice, even and especially in their conditions of subalternity to or interpellation by the existing political society, that are capable of rupturing its material constitution from within.”
To sum up, if full-fledged consent is to be gained for the socialist project, the proletariat must occupy and transform political society. In one of his articles for the Italian socialist weekly “The New Order”, Gramsci said that a revolution ceases being an “empty bladder of demagogic rhetoric…when it embodies itself in a type of State, when it becomes an organized system of power…the guarantee of permanence and of the success of every social activity”. But this focus on the seizure of power should not reach excessive proportions. Otherwise, the Left will lose sight of the need to engage in pedagogical work on the terrains of civic, social and cultural life. Therefore, the struggle for the control of political society has to be combined with the cultural struggle in civil society.
Yanis Iqbal is an independent researcher and freelance writer based in Aligarh, India and can be contacted at email@example.com. His articles have been published in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and several countries of Latin America.
Fossil Fuel Companies and Their Mouthpieces Offer Net-Zero Logic on Climate Change. By: Sonali KolhatkarRead Now
Oil and gas CEOs were too chicken to show up to a recent congressional hearing—perhaps fearing that their climate pledges will be revealed as nothing more than slick PR.
Everywhere around us there is evidence of climate change, from the increase in winter storms such as New England’s late January blizzard, to California’s recent record-breaking winter heat wave. Meanwhile, the world’s biggest oil and gas companies such as ExxonMobil, Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell, and BP, whose products directly fuel global warming, have done little to counter the disastrous trend. While they have made promises that sound constructive on the surface, a cursory examination reveals them to be hollow. Perhaps worried about their deception being exposed, the executives and board members of these fossil fuel companies snubbed members of Congress at a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on February 8, 2022.
The hearing was entitled “Fueling the Climate Crisis: Examining Big Oil’s Climate Pledges.” Lawmakers were interested in whether companies were actually enacting their widely touted climate actions and were following up from a hearing last fall organized by the same committee which focused on the corporate cover-up of the climate crisis. The top oil executives did show up to that hearing in what was considered a historic appearance, and were subjected to a rare level of interrogation during which they generally refused to take responsibility for their actions.
We can only assume they did not want a repeat of such harsh scrutiny at the February hearing. Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) explained in her opening statement that these companies “have spent millions to advertise these plans [to combat climate change] and greenwash their images.” Surely, they would want to publicize the work they were supposedly doing to mitigate the climate crisis. But, according to Maloney, “when the committee invited board members of these companies to come in today and explain their pledges, they declined to appear on the date we requested.” She added, “[n]one of them showed up today. Not a single one.”
For decades, oil and gas companies engaged in outright denial, saying there was no such thing as global warming. ExxonMobil in particular was caught having buried its own internal research. Now that the game is up, the company has recast itself as a leader on the climate by claiming to support the Paris Accord and embracing the idea of “net-zero emissions.”
To promote the fantasy of how it will curb climate change, ExxonMobil launched a slick-looking website featuring a quote by CEO Darren Woods, saying, “We respect and support society’s ambition to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, and continue to advocate for policies that promote cost-effective, market-based solutions to address the risks of climate change.” This sentence could only have been written by a committee of lawyers and public relations experts.
First, in Woods’ worldview, society is aiming for reduced emissions, not his company, which apparently sees itself as above society.
Second, “net-zero emissions” is a pie-in-the-sky goal that looks really good on paper, until it becomes apparent that it is based on entirely unproven, untested, emerging technologies that may or may not work. The idea is akin to saying that it’s okay to litter all over your neighborhood if you also pick up trash elsewhere in the future because the net amount of trash you will have thrown onto the street will someday be zero. Oh, and the technology for picking up trash is only now being invented, so we just have to wait and see if it works.
Third, Woods says that ExxonMobil wants “cost-effective, market-based solutions”—this in spite of the fact that the predictable outcome of a cost-effective, market-based solution to meeting energy demands was climate change. Why would a market-based solution give us anything different this time around?
Fourth, the CEO says he is interested in “solutions to address the risks of climate change,” not to actually ensure that the climate doesn’t change. He also doesn’t specify whose well-being is at risk (ours) and who is risking our well-being (ExxonMobil).
Woods’ entire statement can be summed up as “net-zero” logic, spewing enough sincere-sounding fallacies about fixing climate change while balancing them out with just enough vagueness so as to provide legal cover for doing absolutely nothing.
It was this sort of trickery that the recent congressional hearing was aimed at exposing. Since the oil and gas executives were too chicken to show up and face the music, the committee instead invited climate experts such as Dr. Michael Mann, a professor of atmospheric science at Pennsylvania State University, and Tracey Lewis, climate and energy policy counsel with Public Citizen, to answer questions about the climate pledges. Over the course of three hours, lawmakers including Ro Khanna of California and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan delved deep into the various euphemisms that companies like ExxonMobil employ to gloss over their inaction.
The most egregious example was revealed to be ExxonMobil’s accounting trick to hide its carbon footprint. Not only is the idea of net-zero emissions an unrealistic diversion, but the company also wants to apply it only to the production side of its operations, not to the oil and gas it sells. Representative Khanna said it was “like an automaker pledging to eliminate emissions from their manufacturing but doing nothing to improve their cars’ fuel efficiency.”
Conservatives have risen to the defense of fossil fuel companies. Although oil and gas company executives were absent (by their own choice), Republican lawmakers such as Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and a witness named Katie Tubb from the Heritage Foundation were eager mouthpieces for the industry. The only defenses left in the face of certain climate catastrophe are couched in imperialist thinking—such as, “the industry’s health is a measure of American prestige, and curbing it will mar the U.S.’s global standing”—and false equivalencies, like, “given all the beneficial outcomes of oil and gas products, curbing fossil fuels will destroy civilization.” Congresswoman Foxx and Ms. Tubb employed both.
Foxx raised the favorite Republican idea of the United States achieving “energy independence” or “energy freedom,” which is code for gobbling up fossil fuel resources more quickly and cheaply than competitor nations, no matter what the consequences.
And Tubb bizarrely cited how her contact lenses that are made from fossil fuel products are a gift. She said, “I’m very thankful for that; it’s improved the well-being and productivity of my life,” as if to say that if we want the convenience of contact lenses, we need to embrace ExxonMobil’s profit-driven desire to destroy our planet. In Tubb’s view, if it’s her lenses or life on earth, she chooses lenses.
This is exactly the logic employed by former President Donald Trump, who deftly relied on his supporters’ ignorance of how wind energy works when he claimed that the television wouldn’t work as soon as the wind died down.
There was a time when the likes of Trump, Foxx and Tubb simply cast doubt on the science of climate change. Now that that doesn’t work—given how apparent the change is to most of us—the response has morphed into a version of “So what? Should we live like barbarians?”
The pro-fossil fuel view is that if we want to embrace Western living standards, climate catastrophe is the price we must pay. Otherwise, we relegate ourselves to living like those unfortunate residents of third world nations who routinely live without electricity or contact lenses.
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.
On February 8, 2022, UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Fund) Afghanistan sent out a bleak set of tweets. One of the tweets, which included a photograph of a child lying in a hospital bed with her mother seated beside her, said: “Having recently recovered from acute watery diarrhea, two years old Soria is back in hospital, this time suffering from edema and wasting. Her mother has been by her bedside for the past two weeks anxiously waiting for Soria to recover.” The series of tweets by UNICEF Afghanistan show that Soria is not alone in her suffering. “One in three adolescent girls suffers from anemia” in Afghanistan, with the country struggling with “one of the world’s highest rates of stunting in children under five: 41 percent,” according to UNICEF.
The story of Soria is one among millions; in Uruzgan Province, in southern Afghanistan, measles cases are rising due to lack of vaccines. The thread to the tweet about Soria from UNICEF Afghanistan was a further bleak reminder about the severity of the situation in the country and its impact on the lives of the children: “without urgent action, 1 million children could die from severe acute malnutrition.” UNICEF is now distributing “high energy peanut paste” to stave off catastrophe.
The United Nations has, meanwhile, warned that approximately 23 million Afghans—about half the total population of the country—are “facing a record level of acute hunger.” In early September, not even a month after the Taliban came to power in Kabul, the UN Development Program noted that “A 10-13 percent reduction in GDP could, in the worst-case scenario, bring Afghanistan to the precipice of near universal poverty—a 97 percent poverty rate by mid-2022.”
The World Bank has not provided a firm calculation of how much of Afghanistan’s GDP has declined, but other indicators show that the threshold of the “worst-case scenario” has likely already passed.
When the West fled the country at the end of August 2021, a large part of the foreign funding, which Afghanistan’s GDP is dependent on, also vanished with the troops: 43 percent of Afghanistan’s GDP and 75 percent of its public funding, which came from aid agencies, dried up overnight.
Ahmad Raza Khan, the chief collector (customs) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan, says that exports from his country to Afghanistan have dropped by 25 percent; the State Bank of Pakistan, he says, “introduced a new policy of exports to Afghanistan on December 13” that requires Afghan traders to show that they have U.S. dollars on them to buy goods from Pakistan before entering the country, which is near impossible to show for many of the traders since the Taliban has banned the “use of foreign currency” in the country. It is likely that Afghanistan is not very far away from near universal poverty with the way things stand there presently.
On January 26, 2022, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that “Afghanistan is hanging by a thread,” while pointing to the 30 percent “contraction” of its GDP.
Sanctions and Dollars
On February 7, 2022, Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen told Sky News that this perilous situation, which is leading to starvation and illness among children in Afghanistan, “is not the result of our [Taliban] activities. It is the result of the sanctions imposed on Afghanistan.”
On this point, Shaheen is correct. In August 2021, the U.S. government froze the $9.5 billion that Afghanistan’s central bank (Da Afghanistan Bank) held in the New York Federal Reserve. Meanwhile, family members of the victims who died in the 9/11 attacks had sued “a list of targets,” including the Taliban, for their losses and a U.S. court later ruled that the plaintiffs be paid “damages” that now amount to $7 billion. Now that the Taliban is in power in Afghanistan, the Biden administration seems to be moving forward “to clear a legal path” to stake a claim on $3.5 billion out of the money deposited in the Federal Reserve for the families of the September 11 victims.
The European Union followed suit, cutting off $1.4 billion in government assistance and development aid to Afghanistan, which was supposed to have been paid between 2021 and 2025. Because of the loss of this funding from Europe, Afghanistan had to shut down “at least 2,000 health facilities serving around 30 million Afghans.” It should be noted here that the total population of Afghanistan is approximately 40 million, which means that most Afghans have lost access to health care due to that decision.
During the entire 20-year period of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, the Ministry of Public Health had come to rely on a combination of donor funds and assistance from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). It was as a result of these funds that Afghanistan saw a decline in infant mortality and maternal mortality rates during the Afghanistan Mortality Survey 2010. Nonetheless, the entire public health care system, particularly outside Kabul, struggled during the U.S. occupation. “Many primary healthcare facilities were non-functional due to insecurity, lack of infrastructure, shortages of staff, severe weather, migrations and poor patient flow,” wrote health care professionals from Afghanistan and Pakistan, based on their analysis of how the conflict in Afghanistan affected the “maternal and child health service delivery.”
Walk Along Shaheed Mazari Road
On February 8, 2022, an Afghan friend who works along Shaheed Mazari Road in Kabul took me for a virtual walk—using the video option on his phone—to this busy part of the city. He wanted to show me that in the capital at least the shops had goods in them, but that the people simply did not have money to make purchases. We had been discussing how the International Labor Organization now estimates that nearly a million people will be pushed out of their jobs by the middle of the year, many of them women who are suffering from the Taliban’s restrictions on women working. Afghanistan, he tells me, is being destroyed by a combination of the lack of employment and the lack of cash in the country due to the sanctions imposed by the West.
We discuss the Taliban personnel in charge of finances, people such as Finance Minister Mullah Hidayatullah Badri and the governor of the Afghanistan central bank Shakir Jalali. Badri (or Gul Agha) is the money man for the Taliban, while Jalali is an expert in Islamic banking. There is no doubt that Badri is a resourceful person, who developed the Taliban’s financial infrastructure and learned about international finance in the illicit markets. “Even the smartest and most knowledgeable person would not be able to do anything if the sanctions remain,” my friend said. He would know. He used to work in Da Afghanistan Bank.
“Why can’t the World Bank’s Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) be used to rush money to the banks?” he asked. This fund, a partnership between the World Bank and other donors, which was created in 2002, has $1.5 billion in funds. If you visit the ARTF website, you will receive a bleak update: “The World Bank has paused disbursements in our operations in Afghanistan.” I tell my friend that I don’t think the World Bank will unfreeze these assets soon. “Well, then we will starve,” he says, as he walks past children sitting on the side of the street.
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.
The demarcation of monetary value controls the way people act in social settings and can explain much about current social tensions. For instance, it is profitable for employers to suppress a workers’ right to organize, stopping them from demanding higher wages. One way these elites stay in power is by manipulating how people learn about the history of capitalism. George Orwell once wrote that “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.” Here, Orwell recognizes that those who have authority over how history is taught can dictate how people perceive capitalists for generations. History is inherently political and cannot be divorced from the present day, because how historical figures are portrayed, paints different narratives for accountability. By portraying history as something that is separate from present-day political and economic issues, capitalists mask the amount of violence that wealthy elites have sanctioned in the past.
The political importance of history is evident in three ways. First, dissecting the way that capitalists aimed to pacify revolutionary figures like Martin Luther King Jr. to encourage other protestors to become passive acceptors of capitalism reveals how history is currently controlled. Additionally, investigating the historical brutality of corporations undercuts the flattering depiction of capitalism and clarifies who is responsible for cruelty against the working class. Analyzing the way that anti-capitalist agitators instigated change through civil disobedience, for example, demonstrates that passive and obedient tactics for change fail. Finally, Karl Marx’s historical materialism spotlights the large role of history and how to deconstruct the violent forces that propel capitalism. Suppressing the violent exploitative power that corporations have historically had over the working class allows capitalist elites to hold on to their authority in shaping debates about workers’ rights and continue their oppressive practices.
Corporations are the enemy of the working class; however, history still portrays them in a positive light. Andrew Carnegie is painted as a philanthropist that ignited the steel mill industry and helped boost local economies. However, the perpetuation of this philanthropist image ignores how Carnegie exploited labor and played a significant role in countering labor movements. Carnegie remained neutral and tolerated wage demands until they threatened his profits. His focus then shifted. Carnegie began eliminating all forms of industrial competition to maximize profits. Once other corporations could not compete with Carnegie, he then denied demands for better-compensated labor. Corporation owners like Carnegie worked with the police and judicial forces to influence legislation and enforcement in ways that would benefit them and only them.
For example, in 1892, the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers (the AA) organized a lockout strike to protest the way Carnegie’s steel business empire treated workers. Carnegie hired counter agitators called the Pinkertons to break up the protest, authorizing them to use violence. By the end of the protest, nothing substantial had changed and a handful of people died. Any lingering support for the AA dissolved because the loss gave them a lousy reputation for making progress and they went bankrupt. Without funding or a robust central organizer, the AA was fractured and couldn’t organize in a meaningful way. However, pro-capitalist history does not spotlight these details. Deliberately obscuring the way that wealthy elites orchestrated the downfall of labor unions allows the system of capitalism to continue functioning as it always has without taking accountability for a history of violence. Additionally, it creates misleading information that these corporations were somehow beneficial for workers and that labor protests often fail.
Capitalist-shaped history falsely suggests that conforming to a form of peaceful protest that is idealized by white society is effective. Leading up to the civil rights movement, there was little progress made until agitational tactics were employed. Prior to the civil rights movement, black people had no institutional allies and gained little from isolated, passive protests. The fact that there were only a few legal victories from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) shows that non-disruptive survival strategies were not enough. Phillip Randolph was a socialist organizer who suggested that people of color should band together to form a labor strike. This was an explicit call for civil disobedience. These strikes included but were not limited to sit-down strikes near white businesses and boycotts. These strategies eventually cornered businesses into accepting hiring agreements that helped put money in the hands of black people who were otherwise unemployed. The tangible success of these strikes had a substantial impact on the momentum for black people in the U.S. to galvanize for civil rights because the protests' successes showed that there was hope to defeat their oppressors.
The civil rights era clearly shows that agitational organizing has been a more effective method for resistance. Another earlier example of anti-capitalist agitation succeeding is found in the stories surrounding the union called the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) around the twentieth century. The union was fractured and lacked organization to apply any pressure to push back against exploitative practices. Vincent Saint John was a miner turned activist who eventually joined the IWW. John was a known socialist who opposed exploitative capitalist practices and saw the electoral process as ineffective and only served as a mechanism to benefit corporations. By leading strikes on mining camps, John was able to push mining conglomerates to adopt a standard minimum wage for miners. John was unfortunately killed a few years later, however, his actions show historic precedent that agitational strategies work to empower those at the fringes of society.
Agitational protests are a productive form of enacting change, however, a common argument is that Martin Luther King Jr. is an example of why protests ought to remain peaceful. Contemporary historical depictions that portray King as a pacifist without mentioning his anti-capitalist upbringing are misleading. For instance, during his academic career, he was primarily influenced by socialists such as Adam Clayton Powell. Powell steered King in the direction of anti-capitalist theory, introducing him to Marx’s critique of capitalism and the idea that money was the root of all evil and fueled racism. King documented his thoughts on these influences, drawing upon personal experiences and addressing education's role in people's lives. King personally experienced how capitalism and money can become mechanisms for anti-black violence during a summer job. King observed that black employees were paid substantially less than their counterparts, preventing them from accessing material luxuries.
After becoming more involved in academia, King wrote essays opposing the idea that education should be a tool to trample on others and instead advocated that education is a tool for critical thinking and understanding the implications of our actions. It was this analysis that put King at the head of the civil rights movement because the fight for civil rights required the willingness to critique anti-black laws that had become normalized. King’s strategy was peaceful at the start of the civil rights movement, but towards the end, he abandoned the strategy in favor of agitational protests. For example, on several occasions, King used guns to protect him and his family from white supremacists. King’s nonviolent resistance was not meant to replace self-defense from the violence incited by white civil society. However, capitalist educators have rewritten history in a way that masks agitational and anti-capitalist ideologies in order to convince marginalized people that they ought to act like pacifists and fight for social improvement in specific ways. However, this modeling relies on false conceptions of agents like King, it also ignores how “ideal” forms of protesting failed.
Every movement has to start somewhere. To resist blindly accepting capitalism which pacifies and obscures historical figures and revolutionaries, one can utilize Marx’s concept of historical materialism. Marx’s historical materialism encourages deep analysis of the way that the material conditions of the oppressed are shaped by historical events. By adopting a critical consciousness of historical trends, people can better understand how capitalism portrays history to reify structures of bourgeois society. However, the working classes’ circumstances change dramatically over time, meaning that experiences from the 19th century and the 20th century cannot necessarily be equated. Historical materialism does not aim to equate every experience but rather create the foundation upon which better movements can be built.
This form of analysis connects the dots between historical events and the social conditions of the present day to better identify the mechanisms of power used by the wealthy—Historical analysis identifies who and what plays a role in suppressing the working class.  Put simply, to try to be politically active in today’s world with only a capitalist view of history would be like taking a midterm without studying. The capitalist understanding of history purposefully aims to dilute class tensions by depicting anti-capitalist agitators as pacifists. By tranquilizing the image of historical figures like Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement, capitalist history turns political subjects into economic subjects in order to exploit vulnerable people. Only by understanding the way that pacifism has historically failed to challenge a system built upon the exploitation of the marginalized people, can activists take meaningful action to dismantle oppression.
Capitalism sets up social systems that exist only for monetary profit, resulting in the exploitation of the working class. The violent effects of capitalism are not just physical, they also involve subtle distortions in how people understand history. By promoting a history informed by capitalist propaganda, corporations can wash away accountability and deceive people into protesting in a certain way that stalls progress. The capitalist lens of history masks how Carnegie enabled violence against unionized workers under the guise that he was a philanthropist, which takes away any accountability.
The stories revolving around agitators like Philip Randolph demonstrate the success of civil disobedience to enact change. Finally, diving into the nature of Martin Luther King Jr.’s upbringing breaks down the pacifism model that capitalist anti-agitators desire to suppress the will of the oppressed. Marx’s work on historical materialism sets the philosophical framework for understanding historical analysis as an instrument to prevent an ever-adapting bourgeois state. Reorienting our education around historical materialism will give a more comprehensive and equitable picture of history which is key for effective engagement to improve the lives of the most vulnerable. Readers and writers alike can become equipped with the knowledge necessary to make progress during dark and turbulent times in politics.
 “CUL - Main Content,” Philanthropy of Andrew Carnegie | Columbia University Libraries, accessed November 12, 2020, https://library.columbia.edu/libraries/rbml/units/carnegie/andrew.html.
 Madeleine Adamson and Seth Borgos, This Mighty Dream: Social Protest Movements in the United States (Boston: Routledge et Paul, 1985), 47
 Ibid., 46
 Adamson and Borgos, This Mighty Dream: Social Protest Movements in the United States, 71
 Ibid., 72
 Ibid., 76
 Ibid., 73
 Dara T. Mathis, “King's Message of Nonviolence Has Been Distorted,” The Atlantic (Atlantic Media Company, April 3, 2018), https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/04/kings-message-of-nonviolence-has-been-distorted/557021/.
 Carson, Clayborne. "Martin Luther King Jr.: The Morehouse Years." The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, no. 15 (1997): 122.
 Ibid., 123
 Mathis, “King's Message of Nonviolence Has Been Distorted,”
 Ellen Meiksins Wood, Democracy against Capitalism: Renewing Historical Materialism (London: Verso, 2016), 3.
 Wood, Democracy against Capitalism: Renewing Historical Materialism, 21
 Ibid., 36
Will White recently received a bachelor of arts in history from UCLA. They spent lots of time in forensics during undergrad dedicated to researching political theory from authors like Bataille, Baudrillard, Nietzsche, and Marx. Will is currently applying to grad programs in hopes to continue investigating how to use Marxism to study rhetoric.
How a Cooperative Run by the Formerly Incarcerated Is Reshaping Chicago’s Food Industry. By: April M. ShortRead Now
Megacorporations tend to dominate food contracting with schools and other large facilities in America. In Chicago, Black formerly incarcerated people are prepping locally sourced meals for schools, nursing homes and transitional housing facilities.
If you went to public school in the U.S., chances are good that you remember school lunch as tater tots, chicken nuggets, corn dogs, burgers with fries and pizza slices so soaked through with oil that kids would pad them with napkins in attempts to soak up the grease. Then there were the chocolate milk cartons, a variety of soda choices, giant cookies, Hostess brand baked goods, many types of candy, and Frito-Lay brand chips of all varieties, among other unhealthy snacks and beverages schools regularly served.
These school meals were supplied by megacorporations like PepsiCo Inc., Tyson Foods Inc., Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation, Cherry Meat Packers Inc., Central Valley Meat Co. Inc., American Beef Packers Inc. and Jennie-O Turkey Store LLC. As detailed in a 2020 article by Jennifer E. Gaddis in the professional journal for educators Phi Delta Kappan, 95 percent of U.S. public schools participate in the government-subsidized National School Lunch Program, and this program is made up almost entirely of contracts by giant corporate food brands. Gaddis writes:
“Since the 1970s, Big Food has colonized the school cafeteria. From signing lucrative food service contracts to promoting their corporate brands and dishing out chicken nuggets and other mass-produced, heat-and-serve items, the food industry has done quite well for itself by selling goods and services to schools across the United States…
“In recent years, Big Food companies—and their industry associations—have spent millions of dollars lobbying the federal government to weaken or change its nutritional standards, and these efforts have paid off handsomely. It happened in 2014, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) caved to industry pressure and made it easier for schools to serve French fries and pizza. It happened in 2018, when the USDA loosened restrictions on the amount of sodium, flavored milk, and refined grains that could be served in school meals.” It happened again in 2020 when the Trump administration proposed making the rules more flexible, Gaddis adds.
Megacorporations do not just supply food to schools. Big companies, including Aramark Corporation, provide much of the food served in hospitals, long-term care facilities, prisons and other places in the U.S. that offer large-scale prepared meals.
In addition to nutritional shortcomings, foods mass-produced through large corporations tend to be put together by undervalued and underpaid employees, cheaply and unsustainably sourced and produced, then shipped over thousands of miles, creating a significant environmental footprint. The Big Food industry is unhealthy, environmentally disastrous and lacking in innovation. Furthermore, as demonstrated by the many supply chain interruptions throughout the pandemic, and the exacerbation of food insecurity across the country, these mass food systems are frayed at best. They do not have us covered in a pinch. It is clearer than ever that there is a widespread need to rethink and relocalize food systems.
The Chicago worker cooperative ChiFresh Kitchen is working on doing just that for the food contracting industry in Chicago. They are modeling a new, locally grown-and-sourced way of supplying food to local schools, nursing homes, and transitional housing facilities.
Owned and operated primarily by Black formerly incarcerated women, ChiFresh prepared healthy, culturally relevant meals with food that is grown or raised at nearby farms. They are 100 percent employee-owned and operated, and all employees are eligible for ownership stake after 18 months on the job, after which they can start paying toward a $2,000 membership share.
Of their first day of operation in May 2020, they made jerk chicken strips and red beans and rice, with onions and peppers, as a practice run for friends and family, and as founding member-owner Edrinna Bryant told NextCity.org that week:
“‘We were so excited about the fact we were going to cook our first meal together and people can taste it,’ Bryant says. ‘That’s so exciting to me as a young Black mom who was incarcerated. For my child to know that his mom was in a situation that felt like the end of the world and look at her now… Ain’t no food going to go wasted here. … Each day each of us will pick somewhere on the South Side or West Side and bring some food to people who need it.’”
In addition to providing an alternative food contracting option to local facilities by introducing a locally sourced and prepared food option, they are also providing jobs, agency and ownership stakes to one of the most commonly marginalized groups in the country.
ChiFresh Kitchen is part of a growing BIPOC-led movement, via urban farms, food operators, worker centers, policy advocates and other community organizations in Chicago focused on food sovereignty, racial justice and equitable food access.
While the business planning for ChiFresh began in 2018, the business became operational just prior to the pandemic. They’d initially planned to launch in the summer of 2020, but launched earlier than planned in March 2020 via a contract with the Urban Growers Collective, which had received funding to address pandemic-related food insecurity in their communities. Less than a year into operations they were prepping 500 meals per day.
The demand for what ChiFresh offers has only grown since, and in December of 2020, they bought a 6,000 square-foot building (their current space is about 600 square feet), which they are working to renovate, funded through a series of grants. They plan to move into the new space in the spring of 2022, and expand their capacity so that they are able to prepare 5,000 or more meals per day.
ChiFresh Kitchen founder Camille Kerr—a workplace democracy/worker ownership/solidarity economy consultant—says the project began when a small group of people, herself included, were looking into the ability of worker cooperatives to create a “liberatory, dignified workplace for formerly incarcerated people, and specifically Black women.”
April M. Short of the Independent Media Institute spoke with Kerr about ChiFresh Kitchen and future potentials of local, worker-owned food sovereignty projects like this one to bring the food industry up to date with the real, current food needs of communities across the U.S. and beyond.
April M. Short: How did the idea for ChiFresh Kitchen come about, and how did you get involved?
Camille Kerr: I co-founded ChiFresh Kitchen… and at first it was just me and Joan Fadayiro and Angela Yaa Jones, who are local organizers [in Chicago]. We were looking into whether it was possible here in Chicago to create a liberatory, dignified workplace for formerly incarcerated people, and specifically Black women. We started out by bringing together an advisory board of other local community organizers, specifically people who were formerly incarcerated themselves and had deep relationships in the formerly incarcerated community. And then we brought on other local collaborators and entrepreneurs who could support us.
We went through a yearlong business planning process where we tried to figure out what kind of business might be able to create those jobs in a worker co-op context. Because I’m a workplace democracy/worker ownership/solidarity economy consultant, I had a client at the time in Boston, City Fresh Foods. They’re a Black-owned social enterprise and they were interested in becoming worker-owned, and their business model was to provide fresh, wholesome, local meals to childcare centers, schools and rehabilitation programs. And so we thought, “What if we tried that here [in Chicago]?”
This model that City Fresh Foods demonstrated seemed like it could work, so we kind of built a business plan around their model. Then, we recruited potential members through our advisory board member Colette Payne, who is an incredible advocate for formerly incarcerated Black women, and a formerly incarcerated woman herself. She recruited Kimberly Britt to come to our first member meeting in December of 2019, and Kim recruited three of her friends. Colette also gave the flyer to her younger brother, and her brother showed up too. Those five people who showed up for the meeting became the five founding members of ChiFresh, who have stayed on to this day.
AMS: Why was it important to the founders of ChiFresh to create a worker cooperative specifically for formerly incarcerated Black women?
CK: Why specifically formerly incarcerated Black women? It’s just the barriers. What I look at as a worker co-op developer interested in building the economy we want to see in the world is who is facing the highest obstacle to thriving in our current society. Let’s demonstrate to the world that, if you go out of your way to take the barriers down, people thrive.
People say things like, “It’s hard to work with this population; it might be easier for you to do this or that.” And it’s like: No. You work where the barriers are the highest, and you work to remove those barriers. If you start with that as your center, then you can demonstrate that we can create an economy that works for all of us. But you start with the folks who it works for the least right now, the people who’ve been the most shut-out, and then you go from there, and that’s how you build.
And their voices have to be centered the entire time, and they have to develop it. It has to be their design and their work, because they know what they need and they know what works. The only thing that we need to do is navigate the incredible bureaucracy and barriers that capitalism creates.
So, they say what they need, we play capitalism liaison and navigate the barriers, and then they can get delicious food out to their own communities.
In a thriving society, that’s something they should be able to do anyway, and they should be able to have a living wage doing it. The only thing that gets in between that happening is that you have to write intensive RFPs [requests for proposals] and build relationships with people who have money and power. You have to navigate all these other systems instead of just being able to feed your own people because that’s the right thing to do. Those are man-made barriers, and so our role is to take them down.
AMS: Typically, who are the people who receive ChiFresh Kitchen’s meals?
CK: It’s students in Chicago, mostly South and West Side students, and their families as well. Our food has gone to nursing homes. Our food has gone to transitional homes and churches. We’ll work with the Chicago Help Initiative, Night Ministry, and [during those events] we’ll get 150 meals out to folks who are experiencing homelessness. It’s a wide range of people, but all in our community, and all folks who are in need of a good meal.
AMS: You mentioned you launched ChiFresh early because of the pandemic, as members were facing unemployment delays, and simultaneously food insecurity in the local community was exacerbated. Will you share a little more about how the pandemic played a role in ChiFresh’s formation and expansion?
CK: We just had to make the choice to launch, and it was risky because we weren’t planning to open quite yet. I personally invested funding into the organization to buy the initial equipment we needed. We signed leases with the Hatchery, which is a food incubator. We ran a small GoFundMe that brought in some money. Then we’re like: All right, let’s just try it. Let’s see how it goes, because our folks need work, and these folks need food, and we can be the connection between the two.
We did all that between March and April of 2020. We were in the kitchen by April 26 or 27, and then we got our first meals out by May 11, because it took some time to get all the equipment and put it in place and put together a menu and all of the things that we wanted to do. It was risky. We knew this was the thing that we needed to be doing. And it really worked out for us.
AMS: Will you share a little more about the food itself, and the idea that the quality of food is integral to food justice and reshaping the local food economy?
CK: We’re part of the larger movement for food sovereignty and food justice in Chicago. And what that means to us is that we should be growing our own food, feeding ourselves and partnering with other like-minded organizations outside of Chicago. Sometimes you have to source food outside of Chicago, since it’s frigid here [through the winter months], but to the extent that we can rely on local farms, urban farms, and for us, people of color-led farms, we do. We buy from local farms and incorporate that produce into our meals. Kids can visit these farms and see where their food is grown, so food that they’re eating is tangible, and it’s local, and they can see the hands that nurtured it into being.
A big part of what we’re trying to do is not just bring food, and not just redefine the type of food you get, but rethink the food ecosystem. We’re here as a demonstration of how we can do food differently everywhere. Food is so much more important than the mass production that [our dominant systems have] created. In terms of what our meals are like, we’re trying to bring it back to familiarity and warmth, so when you look at the meal, you smile immediately, like, “I know what this is; I’m so excited.” For example, we have our fried fish—which reminds people of going to fish fries—and then we have spaghetti, and greens. These are homey meals, and they’re also so full of nutrients because the greens came from a farm like two days ago.
Part of our approach to food is balancing nutrient-dense food with food that people just love. We’re making sure that the nutrients are in there, but you don’t get nutrients if people throw the food away. You can’t do quinoa salad every day; people will be like, “What is this?” It’s not familiar and it’s not ours, necessarily, you know? Not that we won’t experiment or push the limits with people, but also the base is in the cultural familiarity that people have with their food, plus lovingly grown and harvested produce.
AMS: Has there been resistance at, for example, schools or other places that ChiFresh has looked to contract with, to changing contractors and moving to a local vendor instead of maybe a larger corporation?
CK: It’s always hard breaking into the market because there are existing vendors, so our clients right now are folks who didn’t have vendors before or were trying to do it in-house. We’re just slowly breaking into the market and demonstrating what we can do. I think the biggest thing is that you have to step your way in and demonstrate that you can do larger and larger jobs. You have to demonstrate that you can do the volume that these different institutions need.
It is hard being competitive on price just because the way that food is priced right now really doesn’t take into account the true cost of food or labor. It doesn’t take into account that every hand that touches the food should be cared for and that the food itself should be really high quality and not mass-produced. We are competitive on price generally, but there’s going to be the big players with the big factories that can mass produce at a cheaper level.
But the other side of it is we’re not trying to skim off the top for outside shareholders either. We’re not trying to make huge profits. We’re just trying to make sure our people have a living wage and that our communities have good food. There’s no extra player there that’s trying to take stuff off the top and keep it so that they can take a flight to space or whatever they’re trying to do with their time. There’s no extraction in our system, so that helps. Because the current way that food is typically priced is designed to extract from everything and then make sure there’s enough margin off the top to go to a particular owner or shareholder. It’s a hard system to work within.
AMS: What are ChiFresh Kitchen’s plans once you move into the new space and have a larger capacity?
CK: One thing that comes with our new space is a new line of business, because we’ll have a little bit of a retail space as well. We’ve never done retail before—we’ve just been doing institutional contracting—so we’ll have both, which the members are really excited about. We’re hoping to have a little marketplace that has our meals as well as some other products from local vendors, including local produce and cottage products.
Also, we are expanding operations. With our capacity right now, we can turn out a thousand meals in a day out of Hatchery, but it’s hard. There’s not a lot of space. In our new space, we’ll be able to do about 6,000 meals per day. We’re looking at long-term partnerships with local charter schools, and especially ones that serve South and West Side communities. We’re looking at relationships with churches that feed their communities. We’re looking at private schools as well, but also local nonprofits that have programming where they provide food. We’ve worked with YMCA and organizations like that before, to provide daily meals. With our new facility, we have the capacity to meet some of these larger institutional needs.
Our priority is not only getting delicious food to people—we want to redefine institutional food. We don’t want the idea of an institutional food to be fried cardboard and mystery meat. We want it to be familiar and lovingly prepared and delightful and nutritious food. We’re working to partner with institutions that share that vision, that food is more than just a requirement, or a box that we need to check, but it’s part of building community and care and love and culture with one another. Our plan is to try to just expand that mission to more and more folks, especially through the institutions that serve the daily meals that people need.
AMS: If someone wanted to create a similar organization in their local area, how would you recommend they go about getting started?
CK: One of the things that was really important about our approach is having organizers at the table from the onset, and having organizers hold us accountable to our values throughout the process. Having organizers who have deep relationships with the communities that are going to be running the organization, and are the people who it is for, and who are the leaders and drivers of the cooperative—that part’s really critical.
I would say number one: make sure either you’re really deeply connected to the communities that you’re serving, or that on the core decision-making team are people who are accountable to, and in relationship with, folks who will be owning the business.
And then number two: I think it really benefited us to replicate an existing business model that happened to flourish in another place, and to have a relationship with that organization. It’s hard starting from scratch. We were able to call up City Fresh and be like: What equipment do we need on day one? Or: How do you do compliance for these federally funded meals? Or: What kind of spreadsheet do you keep for this? Having someone to call is really critical to the success of the organization.
Those two things I think are the two main ingredients for a successful project.
April M. Short is an editor, journalist and documentary editor and producer. She is a writing fellow at Local Peace Economy, a project of the Independent Media Institute. Previously, she served as a managing editor at AlterNet as well as an award-winning senior staff writer for Santa Cruz, California’s weekly newspaper. Her work has been published with the San Francisco Chronicle, In These Times, Salon and many others.
This article was produced by Local Peace Economy, a project of the Independent Media Institute.
Argentina is trapped in $44 billion of IMF odious debt taken on by corrupt right-wing regimes. Seeking alternatives to US hegemony, President Alberto Fernández traveled to Russia and China, forming an alliance with the Eurasian powers, joining the Belt and Road Initiative.
The United States constantly intervenes in the internal affairs of Latin America, organizing coups d’etat, destabilizing independent governments, trapping nations in debt, and imposing sanctions. Washington sees the region as its own property, with President Joe Biden referring to it this January as “America’s front yard.”
Seeking alternatives to US hegemony, progressive governments in Latin America have increasingly looked across the ocean to form alliances with China and Russia.
Argentina’s President Alberto Fernández did exactly that this February, taking historic trips to Beijing and Moscow to meet with his counterparts Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin.
Fernández signed a series of strategic agreements, officially incorporating Argentina into Beijing’s international Belt and Road Initiative, while expanding economic partnerships with the Eurasian powers and telling Moscow that Argentina “should be the door to enter” Latin America.
China offered $23.7 billion in funding for infrastructure projects and investments in Argentina’s economy.
In the meetings, Fernández also asked for Argentina to join the BRICS framework, alongside Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Xi and Putin reportedly both agreed.
“I am consistently working to rid Argentina of this dependence on the IMF and the US,” Fernández explained. “I want Argentina to open up new opportunities.”
The Argentine president’s comments and meetings with Putin and Xi reportedly angered the US government.
Argentina is trapped in odious debt with the US-controlled IMF
Argentina is a Latin American powerhouse, with significant natural resources and the third-largest economy in the region (after Brazil and Mexico, both of which have significantly larger populations).
But Argentina’s development has often been weighed down by debt traps imposed from abroad, resulting in frequent economic crises, cycles of high inflation, and currency devaluations.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) – a de facto economic arm of the United States, over which Washington alone has veto power – has significant control over Argentina, having trapped the nation in huge sums of odious debt.
In 2018, Argentina’s right-wing President Mauricio Macri requested the largest loan in the history of the IMF: a staggering $57.1 billion bailout.
Macri was notorious for his corruption, and this was no secret at the time. By agreeing to give such an enormous sum of money to Macri’s scandal-plagued government, the IMF knew it was ensnaring Argentina in debt it would not be able to pay off. But this was far from the first time the US-dominated financial instrument had trapped Argentina in odious debt.
In December 2021, the IMF published an internal report admitting that the 2018 bailout completely failed to stabilize Argentina’s economy.
But when Argentina’s center-left President Alberto Fernández entered office in December 2019, his country was ensnared in $44.5 billion in debt from this bailout that the IMF itself admitted was a total failure. ($44.5 billion of the $57.1 billion loan had already been disbursed, and Fernández cancelled the rest.)
The Argentine government has tried to renegotiate the debt, but in order to do so the IMF has imposed conditions that severely restrict the nation’s sovereignty – such as appointing a British economist who “will virtually be the new economic minister,” acting as a kind of “co-government,” warned prominent diplomat Alicia Castro.
Seeking ways around these US debt traps, Fernández decided this February to turn to the two rising Eurasian superpowers.
Argentine President Fernández travels to Russia to meet with Putin
On February 3, Argentine President Alberto Fernández travelled to Russia to meet with President Vladimir Putin.
“I’m certain Argentina has to stop being so dependent on the [International Monetary] Fund and the United States, and has to open up to other places, and that is where it seems to me that Russia has a very important place,” Fernández said, explaining his motivation for the trip.
Fernández added that, for Russia, Argentina “should be the door to enter” the region, telling Putin, “We could be a venue for the development of your cooperation with Latin American nations.”
The two leaders discussed Russian investment in the Argentine economy, trade, railroad construction, and energy technology.
Fernández also thanked Moscow for collaborating with his country in the production of its Sputnik V covid-19 vaccine. Argentina was the first country in the western hemisphere to do so.
The Argentine president even pointed out in their meeting that he has received three doses of the Sputnik V vaccine. Putin added, “Me too.”
Putin said the two countries agree on many issues, calling Argentina “one of Russia’s key partners in Latin America.”
Argentine President Fernández travels to China to meet with Xi
Just three days after meeting with Putin, President Alberto Fernández travelled to China on February 6 to meet with President Xi Jinping.
In this historic trip, Argentina officially joined Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, a massive global infrastructure program.
Fernández and other top Argentine officials signed agreements for $23.7 billion in Chinese financing, including investments and infrastructure projects.
The funding will be disbursed in two parts: one, which is already approved, will provide Argentina with $14 billion for 10 infrastructure projects; the second, for $9.7 billion, will finance the South American nation’s integration into the Belt and Road.
There are three joint Chinese-Argentine projects that were reportedly at the top of Fernández’s list: creating 5G networks, developing Argentina’s lithium industry, and building the Atucha III nuclear power plant.
Fernández also discussed plans for Argentina to produce China’s Sinopharm covid-19 vaccine, in addition to Russia’s Sputnik V.
Argentina and China signed a comprehensive memorandum of understanding, including 13 documents for cooperation in areas such as green energy, technology, education, agriculture, communication, and nuclear energy.
Fernández and Xi discussed ways to “strengthen relations of political, commercial, economic, scientific, and cultural cooperation between both countries,” according to an Argentine government readout of the meeting.
The two leaders apparently hit it off very well, with Fernández telling Xi, “If you were Argentine, you would be a Peronist.”
Argentina’s incorporation into the Belt and Road comes mere weeks after Nicaragua joined the initiative in January, and Cuba in December.
Latin America’s growing links with China and Russia show how the increasingly multipolar international system offers countries in the Global South new potential allies who can serve as bulwarks against and alternatives to Washington’s hegemony.
While right-wing leaders in Latin America keep looking north to the United States as their political compass, progressive governments are reaching across the ocean to the Eurasian powers of China, Russia, and Iran, building new international alliances that weaken Washington’s geopolitical grip over a region that the US president still insists is its “front yard.”
Benjamin Norton is a journalist, writer, and filmmaker. He is the founder and editor of Multipolarista, and is based in Latin America. // Benjamín Norton es un periodista, escritor, y cineasta. Es fundador y editor de Multipolarista, y vive en Latinoamérica.
This article was republished from Multipolarista.
CIA veteran hosting anti-China ‘Uyghur diaspora’ podcast funded by US government. By: Benjamin NortonRead Now
The “WEghur Stories” podcast claims to speak on behalf of “the Uyghur diaspora,” and uses intersectional feminist rhetoric to demonize China. But it’s co-created and hosted by an ex CIA agent, with funding from the US embassy in France.
The US embassy in France is funding an anti-China podcast that purports to speak on behalf of the Uyghur Muslim community, but was in fact co-created and is co-hosted by a non-Uyghur CIA veteran.
WEghur Stories describes itself as “the first podcast entirely about the Uyghur diaspora,” and says it is “working to create a conversation within and about the global Uyghur diaspora.”
The co-creator, co-host, and producer of WEghur Stories, John Bair, describes himself on the podcast’s official website merely as an “American writer who specializes in helping other people tell their stories.”
But Bair is much more than that; he is a CIA veteran who specializes in information warfare.
It is not difficult to find ties between Bair and the notorious spy agency, which has organized anti-democratic coups d’etat around the world and has been complicit in targeted assassinations, torture, and drug trafficking.
Bair is a member of the board of directors of a Washington, DC-based advocacy group called Foreign Policy for America (FP4A).
The text of Bair’s biography on the FP4A website is completely different from his WEghur Stories bio, although both use the same photo.
The FP4A page reveals that Bair “is an alumnus of the CIA, where he served as an intelligence analyst, chief of staff, and public communications officer.” It adds that Bair “works at the intersection of national security and communications.”
The shady past of this co-host of a “Uyghur diaspora” podcast was first reported on Twitter by Arnaud Bertrand, a computer engineer and businessman who lives in Shanghai, China.
Bertrand was also quick to notice that the show is funded by the US government.
The bottom of the WEghur Stories website discloses that this “podcast is made possible with support of the Embassy of the United States of America, France.”
The US embassy in Brussels has likewise paid Facebook to post ads promoting the podcast.
The US government has spent millions of dollars funding Uyghur secessionist groups in China’s western Xinjiang province, which is geostrategically located at the heart of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, a massive global infrastructure program that Washington has desperately tried to disrupt.
Uyghur separatist organizations in the diaspora that admit to seeking the “fall of China” have also been bankrolled by the US government’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a CIA cutout created by the Ronald Reagan administration.
In an effort to demonize and destabilize China, the US government has accused China of supposedly committing “genocide” against the Uyghur minority – even while the State Department’s own lawyers concluded that “there was insufficient evidence to prove genocide,” Foreign Policy magazine reported.
Intersectional imperialism: Using liberal feminist rhetoric to push US foreign-policy interests against China
The WEghur Stories podcast reflects how US government-sponsored groups and intelligence agencies are increasingly appropriating identity politics to advance Washington’s foreign-policy interests.
One of the most cynical examples of this strategy is an episode titled “Being Uyghur Women,” which exploits liberal feministic rhetoric to push anti-China propaganda.
This episode, which is co-hosted by Bair – the non-Uyghur white male CIA veteran – opens with a monologue on the importance of “empowering our women,” stating that “women should not be the entrusted and passive guardian of culture under the shadow of the male or state gaze.”
The episode condemns the government in Beijing as a violent patriarchal regime, declaring that, “In China, gender equality by engaging women in the workforce has never been achieved in any meaningful way,” and that Chinese women suffer from “rampant discrimination.”
Denouncing “the Chinese government’s brutality,” the episode proclaims, “We need to engage and critique patriarchy, stand tall against violence towards women and the queer community.”
“We should allow ourselves to be angry to grieve, and fight the Chinese state’s violence against us,” the podcast insists.
This rhetoric is very reminiscent of a recruitment advertisement the CIA published in 2021, in which an employee of the infamous spy agency proudly declared that she is an intersectional feminist.
In the video, the CIA agent describes herself in a poetic monologue as “intersectional,” a “woman of color,” and “a cis-gender millennial whose been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder.”
“I refuse to internalize misguided patriarchal ideas of what a woman can or should be,” the CIA officer proclaimed.
Art as a political weapon that advances US foreign-policy interests
WEghur Stories is produced by a “multidisciplinary art lab” called The New Wild. Like the podcast, this company creates art that coincidentally coincides with US foreign-policy interests.
Other projects produced by The New Wild include “Everybody Is Gone (Or, the Happiest Muslims in the World),” which the lab describes as “a large-scale art installation and performance whose process and outcomes are centered around offering reparative spaces to the Uyghur community, an ethnic Muslim minority group that is currently experiencing extreme oppression at the hands of the Chinese government.”
CIA veteran Bair served as director of communications for “Everybody Is Gone,” and The New Wild openly admits that the project “seeks to draw widespread public attention to the crisis, facilitate collective action to end it, and counteract the Chinese government’s objectives by providing a platform and resources for Uyghur art and culture to be preserved, perpetuated, and celebrated.”
In short, this art is a propaganda tool that explicitly aims to “counteract the Chinese government’s objectives” (and, by sheer coincidence, advances the US government’s objectives in the process).
Another The New Wild production, called “Tear a Root from the Earth,” is a musical that tells the story of how the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in the 1980s hurt an Afghan family. The book for the dramatic work was written by John Bair, the CIA veteran.
The New Wild likewise produced a multimedia solo performance, “Letters From Home,” which focuses on “Cambodia suffering through the genocide perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge,” and “the hope inherent in immigration and the American dream.”
WEghur Stories and similar productions show how art and media can be repurposed to serve as a political weapon – one that just so happens to advance US foreign-policy objectives.
Benjamin Norton is a journalist, writer, and filmmaker. He is the founder and editor of Multipolarista, and is based in Latin America. // Benjamín Norton es un periodista, escritor, y cineasta. Es fundador y editor de Multipolarista, y vive en Latinoamérica.
This article was republished from Multipolarista.
The first edition of Ulysses / Geoffrey Barker (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0).
On James Joyce’s 40th birthday, Sylvia Beach in Paris published his now most famous work, Ulysses, written in Trieste, Zurich, and Paris, 1914-1921. That was on February 2, 1922. Excerpts had appeared in the U.S. magazine The Little Review between 1918 and 1920. But deemed obscene, it was banned in the English-speaking world. The modernist novel immortalizes in its nearly one thousand pages a single day in Joyce’s home town of Dublin—June 16, 1904, the day he met Nora Barnacle, then a chambermaid from Galway, working in Dublin. Bloomsday, named after the main hero Leopold Bloom, has been celebrated in Dublin and the world over ever since Ulysses was published.
Joyce was born in 1882, the eldest of ten children, into a lower middle-class family in Dublin, which rapidly became impoverished due to his alcoholic and financially inept father. A turbulent youth was followed by language studies and first literary attempts, as well as efforts to gain a foothold in Paris. After the death of his mother in 1903, the family fell apart, and Joyce persuaded Nora to leave Ireland with him a few months after they met. Following their own odyssey, Joyce found employment teaching English mainly to naval officers in Pola, an Austro-Hungarian naval base, now Croatia. He gave up this post soon afterwards in favor of employment at the Berlitz language school in Trieste, in 1905. From Trieste (then Austro-Hungary), where by 1915 he was considered an enemy alien, as a British citizen, he moved to neutral Zurich. In 1920, the family moved to Paris, where they lived until 1940. After the invasion by the Wehrmacht, the Joyce family hoped to return to Zurich, but this was only possible in December 1940 after months of great effort. Joyce died just weeks later, on January 11, 1941.
At its most succinct, Ulysses is about how three characters, the advertising seller Leopold Bloom, the teacher Stephen Dedalus, and the singer Molly Bloom, spend the day. Stephen Dedalus teaches in the morning and gets paid for it; in the afternoon he attends a discussion at the National Library; in the evening he gets drunk and goes to a brothel. Leopold Bloom prepares breakfast for his wife, goes to a funeral, worries about selling an advertisement, wanders around town, and also ends up in a brothel. At night, Stephen and Leopold go to Bloom’s house together and have a drink. Then Stephen leaves and Bloom goes to bed. Molly, who had received her lover during the day, lies in bed thinking.
Joyce’s acquaintance with the Odyssey came via English translations based on the Latin version (Ulysses), hence this title. A thorough knowledge of Homer’s text is unnecessary to understand Joyce’s book. He alludes to the Homeric epic in the light of an archetype, a symbolic expression of human experience, and uses the contrast between a heroic past and an unheroic present ironically. The setting is dilapidated Dublin, Ulysses is not a king but an advertisement seller for a newspaper, and he returns home not to a loyal queen but to a woman he knows has cheated on him that day. Bloom is no Greek hero. He passively accepts Molly’s/Penelope’s infidelity. This puts both past and present into perspective. In addition to the Ulysses epic, other myths are invoked, that of the Wandering Jew (Bloom is a Hungarian Jew), the Eternal Feminine (Bloom is a man with many feminine qualities), as well as Jesus’s love of humanity (Joyce himself was an atheist).
Joyce’s image of Dublin paints a society in hopeless decay, exploited and ruined by the Catholic Church and the British Empire. There is a lack not only of heroism, but of productivity in general. There is hardly a worker in the book. Despite its setting in the colonial backyard of Britain, however, Joyce, writing in the years of World War I, creates the peaceful life 10 years before the outbreak of that war, in which three characters of the petty bourgeoisie simply go about their day. The plot remains set in the (partially impoverished) petty bourgeoisie.
One of the novel’s leitmotifs, Stephen’s refusal to pray at his mother’s deathbed, is related to his rejection of “The imperial British state…and the holy Roman catholic and apostolic church.” He rejects both England and colonial Ireland. Casualties of the Boer War are seen in the streets, as is the representative of the English Crown, Viceroy Dudley.
Taking Chapter 10 as an illustration, the opening and closing scenes with Father Conmee and the Viceroy not only add to the richness of the Dublin milieu, but also have symbolic significance: they represent the Church and the State, both of which Stephen refuses to obey. The chapter provides a cross-section of Dublin life between 3 and 4 p.m. Most of the episodes concern minor characters who appear in other episodes in the book. Father Conmee notices the stately smile on Mrs. McGuiness, who has in her pawnshop a large part of the Dedalus household; Dilly Dedalus meets her brother at a bookstall; a one-legged sailor is blessed by Father Conmee and receives money from a corpulent lady in the street as well as from Molly Bloom, who tosses a penny out of the window as she prepares for her lover Blazes Boylan’s visit. In the final section, the Viceroy makes his only appearance.
Random, unnamed characters such as the sandwich-board men who turn up throughout the book also make an appearance. There are references to the past and the future: the flushed young man Father Conmee sees emerging from a gap in the hedge with his girl will reappear as the medical student Vincent in the hospital scene; Stephen notices a “sailorman, rustbearded,” who will resurface late at night in the cabman’s shelter.
Seemingly unrelated phrases link this episode to others, at once evoking and reminding us that characters continue to exist in the background, even if they are not present at that moment. Thus, in the middle of Mulligan and Haines chatting over a snack and tea, there is a sentence about the one-legged sailor and the words “England expects….” There is more here than a mere reminder of the seemingly unrelated existence of the sailor hobbling down Nelson Street. It also points to the Viceroy. Thus, on the surface, a feeling of crowded Dublin life emerges in this chapter, and at the same time a sense that a reality exists independently of individual consciousness.
Joyce’s style is at pains to recreate the thought processes of the characters. Here Bloom leaves his house in the morning:
“On the doorstep he felt in his hip pocket for the latchkey. Not there. In the trousers I left off. Must get it. Potato I have. Creaky wardrobe. No use disturbing her. She turned over sleepily that time. He pulled the halldoor to after him very quietly, more, till the footleaf dropped gently over the threshold, a limp lid. Looked shut. All right till I come back anyhow.” There is an unusual multi-layered interweaving of first and third person narration.
Etching of James Joyce by Josepha van den Anker, 2000. | Courtesy of Eric Gordon
The famous Molly soliloquy in the last chapter is different. By dispensing with punctuation altogether, Joyce attempts to reproduce actual stream of consciousness. The thoughts are now no longer interrupted by a third person narrator, but move into each other. The long soliloquy ends:
“O and the sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire and the glorious sunsets and the figtrees in the Alameda gardens yes and all the queer little streets and pink and blue and yellow houses and the rosegardens and the jessamine and geraniums and cactuses and Gibraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around Him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.”
As well as ironizing the epic, the novel also contains humor, such as Bloom’s thoughts at the funeral:
“Lots of them lying around here: lungs, hearts, livers. Old rusty pumps: damn the thing else. The resurrection and the life. Once you are dead you are dead. That last day idea. Knocking them all up out of their graves. Come forth, Lazarus! And he came fifth and lost the job. Get up! Last day! Then every fellow mousing around for his liver and his lights and the rest of his traps.”
Anyone planning to tackle this work—which is, after all, Jeremy Corbyn’s favorite book—should read uninhibitedly and simply skip the passages that seem difficult on first reading.
Onward to Ulysses’ second century!
Dr. Jenny Farrell was born in Berlin. She has lived in Ireland since 1985, working as a lecturer in Galway Mayo Institute of Technology. Her main fields of interest are Irish and English poetry and the work of William Shakespeare. She writes for Culture Matters and for Socialist Voice, the newspaper of the Communist party of Ireland.
Originally Published in People's World.
Martin Heidegger isn't a philosopher that progressives are likely to consider worthwhile reading. After all, he was an anti-Semite, a follower of Hitler, and most hideous of all, someone who likened the mass extermination of human beings to the excesses of factory farming.
Nevertheless, his fame and influence continue to grow. His collected works have weighed in at 90 volumes, more than enough to keep generations of graduate students at work on their PhDs well into the next century. Most of them, I am happy to say, will not be graduate students in philosophy.
Heidegger's greatest influence is with students of the arts and of literature who, shame to say, perpetuate his baneful Nazi influence into the future. So let me give a preliminary rundown on some important writing on Herr Heidegger. A book by Daniel Morat came out in Germany several years ago: Von der Tat zur Gelassenheit: Konservatives Denken bei Martin Heidegger, Ernst Junger und Friedrich Georg Junger 1920-1960. This 592 page work on conservative thought (the conservative movement is welcome to all three of these men but I am only going to discuss Heidegger) was reviewed by George Steiner (Cambridge University) in the June 27, 2008 issue of the Times Literary Supplement.
Steiner tells us some interesting things about Heidegger studies. That 80+ edition of his works I mentioned above, for instance, "continues to generate disturbing uncertainties as to editorial method." There are questions about the integrity of the German text. There is fear it is being "cleaned up" so that overt Nazi expressions or ideas will be eliminated. Since English translations will be made from this edition, the fear is that unsuspecting students in the USA and elsewhere will be infected with a subtle form of Heideggerian fascism without knowing it. Even worse, or at least just as bad, the next generation of German students will not realize the overt Nazi sympathies of Heidegger.
Outside of his disciples, who practically worship him, Heidegger's reputation among professional philosophers is mostly negative. Marxists don't like him, and the English speaking philosophers in the Analytic and Positivist movements (Wittgensteinians, Carnapians, etc,) consider him, Steiner points out, "an impenetrable, loquacious, charlatan... [whose] hectoring verbiage [is] fatally tainted by and interwoven with his politics."
What is morally hideous about Heidegger is that even after WW2 and the actions of the Nazis were public knowledge, Steiner reminds us that "he never renounced his idealization of the National Socialist movement [and] refused to condemn the Final Solution...." How is it possible that this man remains an intellectual light to many Western intellectuals and academics?
Steiner asks just what is the relation of Heidegger's philosophy to Nazism? His critics, such as Karl Löwith (1897-1973) Karl Jaspers (1883-1969) and Habermas, find "a fundamental organic link" in his philosophical views [Sein und Zeit for example] "and his involvements with Hitlerism." His supporters, Derrida (1930-2004) and others "in the deconstructionist ambit,” ”have denounced this very question as an impertinent vulgarity." It seems that Heidegger was such a great thinker it would have been impossible for him to really be a Nazi at heart. Steiner quotes the philosopher Gadamer (1900-2002) as calling him "the greatest of thinkers." Nevertheless, as the review makes clear, "Heidegger's strategic silences and self-justifications after 1945 can be held to put in doubt any claims to intellectual integrity and philosophical seriousness."
Steiner points out that other books have documented Heidegger's relations with Ernst Junger (1895-1998) and Carl Schmitt (1888-1985) and how they "sympathized with Nazism and attempted various apologetic manoeuvres after the debacle." What Morat brings to the table with his new book is the role of Freidrich Georg Junger (1898-1977) Ernst's younger brother-- an important member of the "conservative revolution." All of these men were allied in their contempt for "sickly bourgeois-liberal values" (let alone Marxism!).
As I said above, I am dealing with Heidegger so I will not go into the role of the Jungers. Heidegger, in the true Nazi spirit, saw Western civilization in intellectual and cultural decay (for different reasons than Marxists) and in need of rebirth along the lines of Mein Kampf. Heidegger with his commitment to the concept of "destiny" blames the decline of the West on Plato (427-347 BC)! That is how far back we have to go to find how our understanding of "destiny" had been "deflected." In more modern times the "rationalism of Descartes” (1596-1650) was also to blame and would have to be overcome for a "genuine rebirth."
So, Hitler was the tool "chosen", as it were, by destiny to bring about the rebirth of our degenerate civilization. Steiner tells us why 1945 was "a disaster of virtually cosmic proportions" for Heidegger. It was because Heidegger thought the only language that real philosophy could be done in (other than ancient Greek) was the German language and that German culture was "the elect carrier of supreme philosophical illumination." With the downfall of the noble Germans only the American-Soviet hegemony was left-- both members of which represented materialistic technological scientism when compared to the great spiritual values of the Reich.
Steiner ends his review saying that there are at least four questions that remain unanswered with regard to Heidegger. The origin of his "mesmeric" style, his claim that his works are "provisional" for "a time in which men have not yet learned to think" [choosing Nazism indicates there was no thinking going on] his belief that "salvation lies with the poets" Holderlin (1770-1843) and Sophocles (496-405 BC) and finally the connection between Sein und Zeit and its stress on "Sorge" (concern) and his Nazism.
Finally a question "that really matters" even more than these four. How did Heidegger and others, "of such stature", let themselves "become enmeshed in the politics of the inhuman?"
A preliminary answer may be that people really don't understand the latent Nazism in Heidegger's thought so his "stature" is undeserved. Also, maybe Nazism is not as "inhuman" as we like to think. It is rather one of the possible outcomes of capitalism under stress. The attempted extermination of the Native Americans, slavery, the holocaust, Vietnam, Apartheid, the Taliban's, and others, treatment of women, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine were all done and are being done by humans-- not just by Nazis. The problem is humans motivated by racism and/or greed for the lands and wealth of others due to an economic system predicated on profit and financial conquest. To understand Sein und Zeit we must first understand Das Kapital. Only in the socialist future, when we are fully human, will we understand what was "inhuman" in our past.
Thomas Riggins is a retired philosophy teacher (NYU, The New School of Social Research, among others) who received a PhD from the CUNY Graduate Center (1983). He has been active in the civil rights and peace movements since the 1960s when he was chairman of the Young People's Socialist League at Florida State University and also worked for CORE in voter registration in north Florida (Leon County). He has written for many online publications such as People's World and Political Affairs where he was an associate editor. He also served on the board of the Bertrand Russell Society and was president of the Corliss Lamont chapter in New York City of the American Humanist Association.
Book Review: Friedrich Engels and the Dialectics of Nature. By: Kaan Kangal. Reviewed By: Carlos L. GarridoRead Now
Kaan Kangal, Friedrich Engels and the Dialectics of Nature (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020), 213 pages, $59.99, paperback.
Friedrich Engels’ Dialectics of Nature has been arguably the most polemic ‘book’ within the corpus of classical Marxist literature. It is fair to say that since its initial 1925 publication in German and Russian, one can infer a ‘Marxists’ political orientation based on their assessment of Engels’ text. However, the centrality of the ‘text’ in the debate between the artificial bifurcation of ‘soviet’ versus ‘western’ Marxism has been detrimental to a critical reading of the text and its intentions; “dismissive attacks, rather than seasoned arguments, shaped much of the polemical character of this literature” (203). Against this backdrop of readings from pro and anti-Engels Marxists, Kaan Kangal’s Friedrich Engels and the Dialectics of Nature serves as a “prolegomenon for reading Engels anew” (7).
The ”Engels debate,” as Kangal coins it, has for one of its central questions the relationship of Engels to Karl Marx (17). The anti-Engels crowd, disenchanted by their homogentisic interpretations of the Marxisms that arose in former socialist states (specifically the USSR), hold that “the primary suspect in contaminating Marx’s theory” is Engels (11). Against this ‘Engelsian’ distortion, these theorists postulate that the ‘rational kernel’ of an authentic Marx can be recaptured if only Engels and the Engelsites (those who agree with Lenin on the “full conformity” of Engels and Marx) could be cast aside (13). To borrow from Husserlian phenomenology, if only Marx could be ‘bracketed’ out of Engelsian contamination, then the residuum of this phenomenological reduction would allow us to know the ‘real Marx.’
V.I. Lenin states that “only ‘a sworn enemy of Marxism’ can use philosophical views to open ‘a direct campaign against Engels’” (Ibid). Further, Teodor I. Oiserman argues that “no true scholarship but a hidden anti-communism is behind those who come up with charges against Engels and separate him from Marx” (Ibid). Critics like Herbert Marcuse, Tom Rockmore, Terrell Carver, Leszek Kolawoski, Alfred Schmidt, Frederic Bender, Norman Levine, and others who purport the Engels ‘betrayal’ thesis have the burden of proof on their side, they are the ones that “need to demonstrate convincingly, [in the face of overwhelming textual evidence for the contrary], that Engels’ ‘going beyond’ and ‘following’ were not encouraged, supported and enabled by Marx” (15). If unable to do this, there is little reason to believe, like Lenin and Oiserman, that they are anything more than a political version of little red riding hood’s false grandmother – an anti-communist wolf wrapped in Marxist clothing.
As Kangal’s research shows, the critics have been unable to provide anything close to substantial proof to back their preposterous declarations. In the case of Carver and Levine, their argumentative poverty reaches the level of speculating on the psychological reasons why Marx and Engels maintained their relationship. This amounts to little more than the anti-communist projection of their evidence-less hypothesis onto the psychology of Marx. As Kangal amusingly states, “pretending to have a privileged access to author’s subconsciousness from an Archimedean point of view is not a very modest way to make a point” (34).
Considering that Marx and Engels collaborated on more than 100 texts; that regarding Engels’ positions in philosophy and natural science Marx told him “I invariably follow in your footsteps;” and that Marx praised, promoted, and wrote a chapter for Engels’ Anti-Dühring (a text whose first part on philosophy greatly overlaps with Engels’ positions on dialectics in Dialectics of Nature), the Leninist collaborationist perspective is virtually indubitable from the standpoint of any honest assessment of the available textual evidence (16, 30-31). Carver, Levine, and the other Marx-Engels bifurcators must admit that “all the problems [they] associated with Engels may be found within Marx and Marxism rather than between Marx and Engels” (19).
In addition to demolishing the ‘Engels contamination’ thesis of the contextual Engels debate, Kangal also provides a genealogy of the debate itself, and shows that the “controversy over natural dialectics is much older than the posthumous publication of Dialectics of Nature or even the publication of Anti- Dühring in 1878-1879” (198).
Hungarian Marxist philosopher Georg Lukács (1885-1971)
For most Marxist scholars, the ‘break’ between ‘western’ and ‘soviet’ Marxism (and hence, the beginning of the ‘Engels debate’) occurs first in Georg Lukács’ famous sixth footnote of the first chapter in his 1923 History and Class Consciousness. Here, Lukács states that “Engels – following Hegel’s mistaken lead – extended the [dialectical] method also to knowledge of nature” (43). Instead, argued Lukács, the dialectical method should be limited to “historical-social reality” (ibid).
What those who bank on this footnote forget, or are unaware of, is that Lukács comes to reject his own position to the point of “[launching] a campaign to prevent the reprints of his 1923 book” (55). Lukács had argued that his book was ‘outdated,’ ‘misleading,’ and ‘dangerous’ because “it was written in a ‘transition [period] from objective idealism to dialectical materialism’” (ibid). Additionally, he was quite explicit in arguing that “’[his] struggle against… the concept of dialectics in nature’ was one of the ‘central mistakes of [his] book’” (56). Further, in the posthumously published A Defense of History and Class Consciousness: Tailism and the Dialectic, Lukács says that “the dialectic could not possibly be effective as an objective principle of development of society, if it were not already effective as a principle of development of nature before society” (Ibid).
Lukács’ rectification should also show that he was the one that was following G. W. F. Hegel’s lead, for Hegel held that “organic nature has no history” (162). Therefore, “contra Hegel and Lukács, Engels is on the right track because he advances the view that nature has a history, and that it is a self-grounded totality,” i.e., that “dialectics applies to nature” (201-2).
Notwithstanding, Kangal argues that “the novelty of Lukács’ claim is overrated” (44). Before, during, and after the lives of Marx and Engels, debates concerning dialectics in general, and dialectics in nature in particular, had already been taking place in socialist theoretical circles across Europe. Instead of the orthodox origin story of the debate in Lukács’ footnote, Kangal “offer[s] an alternative history of the origin” of the debate which “goes back to the critical readings of Hegel among his pupils, most notably Adolf Trendelenburg and Eduard von Hartmann” (44).
German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831)
After situating the origin of the Engels debate in the Hegel debate of the early 1840s with Trendelenburg, and the late 1860s with Hartmann, Kangal shows how this debate was rekindled during Marx and Engels’ lives in their debates with Eugen von Dühring and their friend Friedrich Albert Lange. Concerning the former, Engels “jokingly complained” to Marx while writing Anti-Dühring that
You can lie in a warm bed studying Russian agrarian conditions in general and ground rent in particular, without being interrupted, but I am expected to put everything else on one side immediately, to find a hard chair, to swill some cold wine, and to devote myself to going after the scalp of that dreary fellow Dühring (37).
Marx appreciatively noted in a letter exchange with Wilhelm Liebknecht the “great sacrifice” Engels made, “[postponing] an incomparably more important work [i.e., Dialectics of Nature],” to provide a comprehensive criticism of Dühring (31).
Concerning their friend Lange, he argued in 1865 that the “Hegelian system [was] a step backward towards scholasticism,” and that Hegel’s views on mathematics and natural science were a substantial “weak spot” (47). In the same year Engels sent him a letter defending “the titanic old fellow” and argued that Hegel’s “true philosophy of nature is to be found in the second part of the ‘Logic,’ in the theory of essence, the authentic core of the whole doctrine” (ibid). To this he added that the “modern scientific doctrine of reciprocity of natural forces [was] just another expression or rather the positive proof of the Hegelian development on cause & effect, reciprocity, force, etc.” (ibid). Kangal notes that Lange’s latter work shows he took “Engels’ comments on Hegel seriously,” to the point of having developed in the posthumously published Logical Studies a “dialectical theory of probability” (48).
In addition to the debates during the lifetime of Marx and Engels, Kangal also covers the debates that took place in the interlude between Engels’ death and the Russian 1917 revolution. For instance, he presents the arguments of the Russian Khaim Zhitlovskii (1896), who was the first to attempt a divide between Marx and Engels on the subject of natural dialectics; the arguments from the German revisionist Edward Bernstein (1921), who argued that “the great things which Marx and Engels achieved, they accomplished in spite of, not because of, Hegel’s dialectics”; the critical reply from the Austrian Marxist philosopher Karl Kautsky (1899), who in seeing and affinity between Bernstein and Dühring rhetorically asked (quoting Engels), “what remains of Marxism if it is deprived of dialectics that was its best ‘working tool’ and its ‘sharpest weapon?’”; and lastly, the debates between Austrian-Marxist Max Adler (1908) and the Russian Marxist Georgii Plekhanov (1891) over the former’s attack, and the latter’s defense, of philosophical materialism and dialectics (49-52).
Kangal also provides a thorough study of the debates and contradictions that arose in the Soviet Union concerning the relationship of Marxism to Hegel, Marxism to philosophy, and of dialectics to nature. Focusing on the debates between the Deborinites and the Mechanists, Kangal brilliantly shows the plurality and heterogeneity of Marxist thought that existed in the Soviet Union. He says, “it is no exaggeration to say that the Soviet debates accumulated an astonishing variety of contradictions, even if some figures embodying those ambiguities, or later historians narrating them, would not openly admit this” (60).
In journals like Pod Znamenem Marksizma (“Under the Banner of Marxism”), Vestnik Kommunisticheskii Akademii (“Bulletin of the Communist Academy”), Bolshevik, and Dialektika v Prirode (“Dialectics in Nature”) these debates would openly take place between scholars and party theoreticians (ibid). The research Kangal does of these Soviet debates lucidly depicts the monumental ignorance of ‘western’ Marxists’ dogmatic critiques of what they labeled as ‘Soviet Marxism.’ Such homogeneity never existed, plurality and debate were always present. Only in the anti-communist plagued minds of western Marxists did such homogeneity exist in Soviet philosophy.
German polymath and co-developer of Marxism, Friedrich Engels (1820-1895)
One of the novel points Kangal stresses is that the “197 manuscript fragments” contained in the “four folders” that would be made into the book we now know as Dialectics of Nature (or Dialectics and Nature for the 1927 German edition), has its “completeness and maturity… editorially imposed” (58, 3). This is something that has been mostly ignored by both sides of the Engels debate, each which assumed that, although incomplete, the book had a single and consistent intention it aimed to carry out. In response to this historical misreading of Engels’ intentions, Kangal states that,
There is not necessarily a single overriding intention, a single goal, and a single argument in his entire undertaking; Engels’ readers do not appear to be prepared to accept the fact that some of his intentions, articulated or otherwise, might be incomplete, or incongruent with his other intentions, goals and arguments (184).
Considering the former, Kangal argues that Engels’ “work in progress… remained incomplete” (124-5). This “incompleteness theorem,” as Kangal names it, states that “it is by no means self-evident that Engels’ project was ‘not finished’” (125). As he notes, a work can be “completed without being published” (ibid). A good example of this is The German Ideology, which although left to the “gnawing criticism of the mice,” nonetheless completed its “main purpose – self-clarification.”
One must ask, then, – why did Engels embark on such a momentous project? After providing a magnificent Marxist analysis of the function of theory and its relationship to practice, of the role of intellectuals in the workers’ struggle for socialism, and of the role of philosophy in relation to theory and practice, Kangal postulates four main motives behind Engels’ project: 1) “the political goal was to win over all (potentially) progressive forces, including natural scientists, to the socialist cause”; 2) to provide the natural sciences – who although think themselves to be free of philosophy are actually, according to Engels, always “under the dominion of philosophy” – the “methodological indispensability of philosophical dialectics”; 3) to consciously incorporate into the theoretical sciences the only method capable of comprehensively understanding the results derived from scientific studies – the Marxist materialist dialectics; and 4) to move beyond Ludwig Feuerbach’s insufficient discarding of Hegel, and instead sublate Hegel by showing that his revolutionary method is confirmed in nature and its historical development (something which Hegel rejected) (111-13).
In addition, after Marx’s death, Engels realized that Marx had never written the “2 or 3 sheets” he promised to him and Joseph Dietzgen where “the rational aspect” of Hegel’s method would be made “accessible to the common reader” (108). This, argued Kangal, was also an “occasion” (instead of a “direct reason”) for Engels’ undertaking in Dialectics of Nature (110).
After covering the Engels debate both contextually and genealogically, and providing a textual history of Dialectics of Nature and the multiple purposes behind it, Kangal dives into the most philosophically dense part of the book – his critical assessment of dialectics in Engels’ text. It is important to remember that although the critiques are directed at Engels and his Dialectics of Nature, the flaws Kangal points to are in Marx as well, for their perspectives on these were waged jointly. Here are some of the most important critiques Kangal provides of Engels’ “philosophical ambiguities” (125).
1- There are quite a few ambiguities and loose ends with Engels (and Marx’s) treatment of Hegel. First, Engels incorporates Hegelian categories (primarily from the first two sections of Hegel’s Science of Logic and Shorter Logic – the “Logic of Being” and the “Logic of Essence”) without an explanation for the differences in order and prioritization in how they appear in his and Hegel’s work. In Engels’ treatment, for instance, the categories from Hegel’s chapter “The Essentialities or Determinations of Reflection” (quantity/quality, identity/difference and its development into the categories of opposition and contradiction), are conjoined with the category of sublation (aufhebung) which Hegel introduces at the beginning of the “Logic of Being”, and are raised to the status of being ‘dialectical laws,’ that is, “the most general laws” of the “history of nature and human society.” These are, of course, the famous three – the “law of the transformation of quantity into quality and vice versa, the law of the interpenetration of opposites, [and] the law of the negation of the negation.”
Why he chooses these to be ‘laws’ over other Hegelian categories he uses throughout his work (like force/manifestation, coincidence/necessity, causality/reciprocity, shine/essence, nodal line, etc.) is unclear. Similarly, why some of Hegel’s categories are fully discarded with is also left unexamined. In addition, the treatment of Hegel’s Logic (which he primarily uses the Shorter Logic for) contains no consideration for Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, which Hegel argued his Science of Logic was the “first sequel” of. With the exception of his critiques of Hegel’s philosophy of nature (which is part two of the Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences), Engels leaves what comes before and after the first division of Hegel’s Logic[s] (the sections in Objective Logic) largely unexamined.
The problem here is that it was Engels who, against Feuerbach, argued that Hegel couldn’t just be discarded, that his philosophy had to be “sublated in its own terms” (113). By discarding such a large amount of Hegel’s work, and further, by leaving largely unexplained the reasons for using those parts of Hegel which he does, Engels replicates (in a more advanced form) the Feuerbachian discarding of Hegel and fails to fully meet his own standards.
2- There are two central bifurcations Engels is engaging with in this text: dialectics and metaphysics, and idealism and materialism. As every Marxists knows, dialectics and materialism are supposed to be the ‘good guys’ and metaphysics and idealism the ‘bad guys.’ However, as Kangal shows, what allows for this neat separation is a synecdochal understanding of idealism and metaphysics on the part of Engels. Contrary to the common Marxist understanding, Kangal shows that there is a “compatibility rather than divergence between materialism and ‘a specific sort of) idealism, and between dialectics and (a specific sort of) metaphysics” (6).
Surely, Engels rejects Hegel’s depiction of the “realization of Spirit” or the “externalization of the Idea” by postulating the “primacy of nature over logic.” But this ‘inversion’ of what Hegel calls in his Philosophy of History a “true Theodicy” is not in itself a rejection of idealism en toto, but of a specific aspect of a particular philosopher’s (Hegel) objective idealism. As Kangal states,
Hegel and Engels diverge in the following respect: materialism regards nature as a self-grounded totality with its own history, while this is denied by idealism. Idealism presupposes a ‘Spirit’ that precedes nature into which it ‘externalizes’ itself. Engels has no reason to commit himself to Hegel’s religious mysticism, but this, in turn, is no sufficient reason to discard ‘idealism’ in Hegel’s sense of the term (194).
This wholesale discarding of idealism is shown to be even more absurd by the fact that part of Engels’ critique of the natural sciences, specifically his appeal for a conceptually realist understanding of ‘real infinities,’ is itself an argument for what Hegel would call ‘idealism’ (126). Idealism (in Hegel specifically) argues that,
Singular finite entities have no veritable being without collective dependence and mutual interaction among each other; mutual interdependence of finite parts is an infinitely self-developing totality within which the singular parts play the role of individual moments of the whole (157).
With this Hegelian definition of idealism Engels would be in full accord. The only thing he would disagree with is the characterization of the above mentioned as ‘idealism’. However, “the infinite stands and falls within the area of idealist investigation insofar as it is not subject to finite empirical observations of particular natural sciences” (194). Hence, it would be superfluous to come up with another term for the investigation of the infinite. The term ‘idealism’ is sufficient here.
Engels’ unorthodox and synechdochal understanding of idealism (as it appears in the Hegelian tradition at least) is at the core of his (and Marx’s) artificial bifurcation of materialism and idealism. Instead, Kangal argues, we must realize that a “local materialism” and a “global idealism” are perfectly compatible (195). Kangal adds that he “wouldn’t be surprised if it had been a similar conclusion that prompted Lenin’s emphasis on the ‘friendship’ between materialism and idealism” (205).
‘Before the sunrise’ (Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels walking in night London) by Mikhail Dzhanashvili
3- Engels’ treatment of metaphysics suffers from the same setbacks as his treatment of idealism. For instance, in Anti-Dühring he argues that “to the metaphysician, things and their mental images, ideas, are isolated, to be considered one after the other and apart from each other, fixed rigid objects of investigation given once for all.” However, this definition of metaphysics synecdochally depicts what Immanuel Kant and Hegel would call ‘old metaphysics’ as metaphysics en toto. As Kangal notes, “Kant and Hegel famously attack the flaws of ‘old metaphysics’, but Engels takes the anti-dialectics of the old metaphysics to represent the defects of metaphysics as a whole” (195).
Metaphysics, in the Hegelian tradition specifically, understands that,
Rational foundations of sciences demand a rigorous inquiry into the fundamental structures of reality and our understanding of them; in order to conduct such an inquiry, we need to construct a categorial framework that explicitly formulates and self-critically revises the conceptual tools in use in order to improve our command of the ways we experience and think of the world (157).
Once again, Engels’ text is littered with examples which depict his agreement with the above-mentioned propositions. The only disagreement here is terminological, that is, Engels would only reject the term metaphysics being used to describe the former perspective. This rejection, however, is grounded on his stinted understanding of metaphysics qua old metaphysics. There is, then, no contradiction at all between dialectics and metaphysics as described above. In fact, as Kangal rightly states, “Engels’ defense of philosophy against positivism is a defense of ‘metaphysics’’’ understood in these terms (195). For Hegel – who Engels and Marx praise and consider as the point of departure for Marxist materialism – one cannot escape metaphysics, human beings are “born metaphysicians”; all that matters is “whether the metaphysics one applies is of the right kind” (161).
Kangal’s text also explores how the ambiguities present in Engels’ understanding of the relationship of idealism and materialism, and metaphysics and dialectics, are reflected and refracted into further confusions and knots concerning his association with Aristotle and his disassociation and critique of Kant. His text additionally traverses how these ambiguities are intensified by the variances between Engels’ Plan 1878, Plan 1880, and his four folders for Dialectics of Nature (165-176).
It is impossible to do justice, in such limited space, to such a wonderful work of Marxist scholarship. What I can say is this, any reader of Kangal’s book will surely appreciate its abundance of letter references and its resuscitation of texts which have been largely obscured in anglophone Marxist scholarship over the last half a century. Even in the most philosophically muddy places of Kangal’s text, he does an exceptional job at clarifying things for the reader. In contrast to what a recent critical reviewer of Kangal’s text argued, the difficulties found in the philosophically densest section of the text are not the fault of Kangal, but of Engels (and Marx, who shares Engels’ flaws), who uses unorthodox and synechdochal definitions of idealism and materialism, and dialectics and metaphysics, to position himself in relation to Aristotle, Kant, and Hegel. If anything, Kangal must be thanked for untangling, in his comparative and critical analysis of the aforementioned thinkers, knots set by Marx and Engels’ philosophically unorthodox usage of the previous concepts.
 Two essays withing the Dialectics of Nature manuscript collection had already been published before by Eduard Bernstein, “The Part Played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man” (1895/6) and “Natural Science in the Spirit World” (1898).
 All numbers cited in the review article come from Kangal’s text: Kaan Kangal (2020), Friedrich Engels and the Dialectics of Nature, Palgrave.
 Edmund Husserl (1913), Ideas I, Hackett (2014)., pp. 109.
 Paul Blackledge article for Monthly Review (May 2020) “Engels vs. Marx?: Two Hundred Years of Frederick Engels,” also does a splendid job at countering the ‘betrayal’ or ‘corruption’ thesis of the Marx-Engels bifurcators.
 Karl Marx (1859), A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, International Publishers (1999)., pp. 22.
 Friedrich Engels (1964), Dialectics of Nature, Wellred Books (2012)., pp. 63.
 G. W. F. Hegel (1812), The Science of Logic, Cambridge (2015)., pp. 11.
 G. W. F. Hegel (1837), The Philosophy of History, Dover Publications (1956) ., pp. 457.
 Friedrich Engels (1879), Anti-Dühring, Foreign Language Press (1976)., pp. 20.
 It is also important to note that this ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’ approach taken to idealism and metaphysics was never applied to the flaws they both saw in various parts of the materialist and dialectical tradition.
Carlos L. Garrido is a Cuban American graduate student and instructor in philosophy at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. 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.