Featured image: The US may control a handful of Pakistani political and military officials, but PM Imran Khan owns the street. Photo Credit: The Cradle
Washington has reactivated old cronies in Islamabad to unseat PM Imran Khan, but the latter has sown seeds of immense dissatisfaction with the old guard and their US backers within the Pakistani public. And Khan’s domestic and foreign allies will not sit by idly either.
Last Wednesday, during a meeting with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the Tunxi city of eastern China’s Anhui province, China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi made the thoughtful remark that there was a need to “to guard against the negative spillover effects of the Ukraine crisis” in the Asian region:
“We can’t allow the Cold War mentality to return to the Asian region. It’s impossible to allow a repeat of camp confrontation in Asia. We mustn’t allow turning medium and small states in the region into an instrument or even a victim of the games of big powers. The Chinese side intends to move in the same direction along with Pakistan and neighbouring countries, play a constructive role in ensuring regional and global peace and make its contribution to Asia.”
Curiously, as it turned out, that was also Qureshi’s last tour abroad as Pakistan’s top diplomat. No sooner than he came back home, his government fell, engulfed in a murky situation of precisely the kind that Wang Yi warned against.
Did Wang Yi have a premonition? We may never know but it is inconceivable that he was unaware of the tensions in Pakistan’s domestic politics fueled from outside, which led to the regime change last weekend.
From all accounts, the coup attempt in Pakistan unfolded as per an Anglo-American script. Prime Minister Imran Khan claimed to have documentary evidence to show that the senior-most official in the US state department dealing with the region, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu, had sent to him a threatening message via the Pakistani ambassador in Washington that his time was up in Islamabad as prime minister.
Imran Khan also alleged that the US embassy in Islamabad had been fraternizing with local politicians who subsequently defected from his coalition government. Washington has been vaguely dismissive about the allegations.
According to Khan, it was his official visit to Moscow in February, which coincided with the launch of Russia’s special operation in Ukraine, that provoked Washington the most – apart from his independent foreign policies and stubborn refusal to set up US military bases in Pakistan.
On Saturday, against the backdrop of the tumultuous political developments in Pakistan, the powerful army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa waded into an unusual topic — Russia. He openly criticized Russia for its special operation in Ukraine, calling it a “great tragedy” that had killed thousands and made millions refugees and “half of Ukraine destroyed,” demanding that it must be “stopped immediately.”
He noted that Pakistan had enjoyed excellent defence and economic relationships with Ukraine since its independence but relations with Russia were “cold” for a long time because of numerous reasons, and that Pakistan had sent humanitarian assistance to Ukraine via Pakistan Air Force planes and would continue to do so.
Significantly, Bajwa also stated that “we share a long and excellent strategic relationship with the US,” and that Pakistan sought to broaden and expand relations with both China and the US “without impacting our relations with [either].”
Without doubt, the powerful general spoke with an eye on Washington, acutely conscious of the political transition in his country and taking care to place himself on the ‘right side of history.’
Bajwa’s message to Washington was three-fold: one, he didn’t share Imran Khan’s enthusiasm for close ties with Russia; two, nor did he share Imran Khan’s ‘anti-American’ foreign policies; and, three, he wouldn’t allow Pakistan’s alliance with China to overshadow his desire to deepen relations with the US.
Make no mistake, Pakistani generals are first and last seasoned politicians. That is why both China and Russia are acutely conscious of the geopolitical significance of the regime change event in Islamabad. Wang Yi’s prescient remarks find their echo in a report by the influential Russian daily Kommersant on Monday, based on expert opinion in Moscow:
“The dynamics of the current crisis indicate that Pakistan is at the threshold of a power change which may nullify many agreements with Moscow, considering that the new regime in Pakistan which will form in the next few months will be much more pro-American.”
According to the Director of the analytical center at the Moscow-based Russian Society of Political Scientists Andrey Serenko, “A special concern is caused by the fact that… Bajwa openly supported Russia’s adversaries. The drift of military-political heavyweights in Pakistan towards the US may have much more negative consequences for it [Russia] in the Central Asian region bordering Afghanistan. Belligerent and extremist elements in the Taliban, which are traditionally controlled by Pakistan’s special services, as well as the terrorist groups of the Islamic State and Jamaat Ansarullah have not lost interest in spreading jihad beyond Afghan borders.”
Equally, a member of the faculty of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Diplomatic Academy, Vadim Kozyulin, had this explicit warning to give: “Washington putting pressure on the Pakistani government inevitably leads to the complication of the security situation in the Central Asian region and the emergence of new risks for the CSTO countries.”
Succinctly put, Russian experts anticipate a reversal of Imran Khan’s friendly policies seeking Eurasian integration. China too will be apprehensive that one of the US’s top priorities is to undermine the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), of which Pakistan is a major hub. Certainly, the US will not want Islamabad to be a facilitator for the expansion of Chinese influence in Afghanistan. During a recent visit to Kabul, Wang Yi had proposed to the leadership of the Taliban Interim government the extension of the China-Pakistani Economic Corridor (CPEC), the flagship of the BRI, to Afghanistan.
From Iran’s perspective too, any surge in the US presence in Pakistan would have serious security implications, especially if US bases were to reopen. The negotiations in Vienna for the revival of the JCPOA are yet to come to fruition, and in any case, even with the lifting of US sanctions, Washington’s containment strategy against Iran is expected to continue in some newer form. The agenda of the recent conclave of the top Abraham Accords signatories, Egypt and the US [(hosted by Israel), was to build up a coordinated approach to countering Iran’s regional policies.
Pakistan has a history of aligning with the US’ Persian Gulf allies in their rivalry with Iran. Imran Khan deviated from that path and genuinely sought rapprochement with Tehran. To be sure, Washington will encourage the new regime in Islamabad to revert to the default position.
The broader US objective will be to roll back the Chinese presence in the Persian Gulf region. Thus, for a variety of reasons, while in the US strategic calculus, Pakistan always remained an important player, in the current context of global realignment, this becomes a pivotal relationship. The Pakistani military has an impeccable record of subserving American regional interests — and, it does have a rare capability and ‘expertise’ to do so — which no Muslim country is willing to perform in the current circumstances.
The US may be able to count on the Pakistani generals to ensure that Imran Khan does not ever again return to power. But the paradox is that his electrifying narrative — against corruption, for social justice and inclusion, Islamism and ‘anti-Americanism’ — has struck deep roots in Pakistani soil and will be difficult to vanquish. The main opposition parties stand hopelessly discredited in the public perception, given their track record of corruption and cronyism in office.
So, the big question is: Who will garner Imran Khan’s revolutionary rhetoric? A prolonged period of political turmoil can be expected. Now, in such a scenario, the role of the military becomes extremely crucial. The military leadership’s future intentions remain unclear. Traditionally, Pakistani military leaderships have been pro-US, and for its part, Washington always regarded the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi as its number one interlocutor.
The military denies involvement in civilian politics but the generals have in the past never hesitated to take advantage of political chaos to assume power. Of course, US backing for such a dispensation is indispensable and that is where Bajwa’s olive branch to Washington sets the agenda for politicking.
This article was produced by Orinoco Tribune.
Bernie Sanders Claims the Mantle of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Has He Earned It? By: Jeremy KuzmarovRead Now
[Collage courtesy of Steve Brown]
During the last election, The Nation magazine ran an interview with Bernie Sanders who spoke about the need for the Democratic Party to be as bold as it was in the days of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Henry Wallace.
Sanders specifically advocated for the reinvigoration of an economic bill of rights, which would guarantee a livable wage, free health care and affordable education.
This latter program is honorable; however, the boldness of Roosevelt and Wallace’s platform resided not only in their domestic policies but especially in their foreign policies.
It is there that Sanders fails to measure up.
Roosevelt and Wallace were both strong anti-fascists and advocates of peace with the Russians which Bernie—along with most other members of the progressive congressional caucus—is not.
In 1933, the Roosevelt administration had revived diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union and then provided lend-lease aid to the Soviets as they heroically fought back against the Nazi invasion.
After the Nazi eastern offensive was pushed back at Stalingrad, then at Kursk and the allied D-Day landing, Roosevelt initiated a series of post-war summits which included Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.
The most important occurred at Yalta in February 1945, in which the United States agreed not to interfere in Eastern Europe, where the USSR was seeking to establish a buffer against any renewed German aggression after the war, and return to it some islands that had been lost in the 1905 Russo-Japanese War.
In return, the Soviet Union agreed not to support left-wing guerrillas in Greece or to intervene in the Asia-Pacific where the U.S. was intent on establishing a network of military bases as a spoil of victory in the Pacific War.
Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin at Yalta conference in Crimea in 1945. [Source: iwm.org.uk]
According to his son James, FDR succeeded in restraining war hawks in the State Department such as W. Averell Harriman, a founding partner of Brown Brothers Harriman and Co. investment banking firm, who opposed Yalta and wanted to initiate hostilities with the Soviets. (Harriman was Joe Biden’s political mentor when he was in the U.S. Senate.)
W. Averell Harriman [Source: cfr.org]
Roosevelt’s vice president, Henry Wallace, was a particularly strong advocate for sustaining peaceful relations with the Soviets and averting a Cold War.
He traveled to the USSR numerous times and found that the population was not hostile toward the United States and was war-weary and wanted peace, as did the Soviet leadership of the time.
Henry Wallace dining in Alaska with Soviet and American airmen. The American airmen helped supply the lend-lease aid to help defeat the Nazis in World War II. Wallace had just returned from a trip to the USSR and China. [Source: prlib.ru]
Contrary to popular myth, Wallace was never an apologist for the abuses of the Soviet regime, but rather pointed out in his 1948 book, Towards World Peace, that it was seminally responsible for the defeat of Nazi Germany which should earn it the gratitude of everyone.
At the 1944 Democratic Party convention in Chicago, Wallace was ousted from his position on the Roosevelt ticket in a blatant coup d’état masterminded by Democratic Party powerbrokers and big business interests in the back rooms.
Wallace in turn took up the position of Commerce Secretary in the Truman administration after Roosevelt’s death, though he lost this job when he gave a memorable speech at Madison Square Garden in which he called on the United Nations to assume control of the strategically located air bases in which “the United States and Britain [had] encircled the world.”
According to Wallace, “nations not only should be prohibited from manufacturing atomic bombs, guided missiles, and military aircraft for bombing purposes, but also prohibited from spending on its military more than 15% of its budget.” The United States, he said, could ensure cooperation with the Soviet Union if it made clear that “we are not planning for war with her” and had “no more business in the political affairs of Eastern Europe than Russia has in Latin America.”
Wallace ended his speech by calling on Americans who “look on this war with Russia talk as criminal foolishness…[to] carry our message direct to the people—even though we may be called communists because we dare to speak out.”
Henry Wallace with folk singer Pete Seeger who was blacklisted during and after the McCarthy period. [Source: time.com]
Now where is Sanders to match the boldness of Wallace and to denounce a Democratic Party president who called quite explicitly for regime change in Russia? Or to stand up for those who have been persecuted and censored for challenging the dominant narrative about Ukraine and advocating for peace with Russia?
On March 29, after President Joe Biden released his proposed fiscal year 2023 budget calling for $813 billion in military spending, a $30 billion increase from the gargantuan 2022 budget, Sanders issued a statement: “At a time when we are already spending more on the military then the next 11 countries combined, we do not need a massive increase in the defense budget.”
In the past, Sanders had sponsored amendments calling for modest cuts to the defense budgets. However, in early March, Sanders supported a $13.6 billion emergency aid measure to Ukraine, at least half of which was appropriated for military weaponry.
Sanders singularly blamed Russia for starting the war—when strong evidence suggests that Ukraine started it eight years ago, or at the very least provoked it.
On February 24, Sanders issued the following statement on the Russian invasion:
“The Russian invasion of Ukraine that the world is witnessing today is a blatant violation of international law and of basic human decency. It may well kill thousands and displace millions. It could plunge Europe into long-term economic and political instability.
While legitimately concerned about the horrible human costs of the war, Sanders’ remarks whitewash not only the Ukrainian but also the American roles in precipitating it.
This includes through the U.S.’s a) promotion of NATO expansion in Eastern Europe and Ukraine; b) support for an anti-Russian coup in Ukraine in 2014 triggered by protests in Maidan Square; and c) arming of the Ukrainian Army as it terrorized the people of the Eastern Luhansk and Donetsk provinces for eight years after they voted to secede from Ukraine following the coup.
Mass graves in Luhansk caused by Ukrainian Army onslaught there. Sanders showed no concern for the victims, never once speaking out for them. [Source: covertactionmagazine.com]
Sanders also makes unsubstantiated claims that Putin is “one of the richest people in the world” who “stole billions from the Russian people.”
A lot of properties that supposedly make Putin rich are in fact ones that any Russian president has access to as long as he is president.
Andrei Nekrasov, a Russian filmmaker who attended the Maidan Square protests, told me that “there is simply no evidence of Putin’s excessive riches; not even a single [bit of] evidence of some bank accounts or a bribe he and his wife for example got from an industry or such thing whereas there was such evidence in [Boris] Yeltsin’s case, quite specifically and direct [Yeltsin was Russia’s president from 1991 to 1999).”
Andrei Nekrasov [Source: alchetron.com]
Bringing Left-Wing Progressives into NATO’s Fold
On March 18, Sanders repeated his accusations against Putin at an Atlantic Council webinar involving left-wing progressives in Great Britain and Germany who also adopted a strong anti-Russian position.
The Atlantic Council is considered to be “NATO’s think tank.” It has received funding from war profiteers and corrupt companies like the energy giant Burisma, which appointed Hunter Biden to its board along with CIA agent Cofer Black and may have provided a front for funding CIA black ops in Ukraine.
In the meeting, Sanders called the Russian invasion of Ukraine a “horror that almost embarrasses us all for being part of the human race to see a large country systematically destroy people of a strong democratic nation.”
See webinar here: https://www.c-span.org/video/?518801-1/senator-bernie-sanders-russias-invasion-ukraine.
While the destruction caused by the war is indeed heart-breaking, the fact is that Ukraine is not by any stretch a “strong democratic nation.”
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky—to whom Sanders gave a standing ovation when he appeared before Congress asking for more U.S. military aid—has banned eleven opposition parties—including Ukraine’s Socialist, Communist, and Progressive Socialist parties.
Zelensky addressing the U.S. Congress. Sanders was among those in the crowd cheering. [Source: bbc.com]
Zelensky has further a) jailed political opponents who are considered pro-Russian; b) shut down “pro-Russian” media without any court rulings; c) removed numerous officials whom he could not control; and d) centralized the intelligence agencies, placing an old school friend, Ivan Bakonov, as head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), and mafia figure known as “The Strangler” (Oleksandr Poklad) as head of counter-intelligence.
TV channels in Ukraine that went off the air owing to Zelensky’s decree. [Source: dw.com]
A neoliberal who accepted an IMF-loan contingent upon the slashing of public services and biggest post-Soviet privatization fire sale in a generation, Zelensky came to power as a result of the February 2014 coup that was heavily supported by the U.S. His career was bankrolled by a mob kingpin, Ihor Kholomoisky, with suspected ties to U.S. and Israeli intelligence who financed right-wing militias that committed the bulk of atrocities in Eastern Ukraine.
Kholomoisky and his puppet. [Source: euasianet.org]
According to CIA expert Douglas Valentine, the CIA took over many aspects of Ukraine’s government and civil apparatus after the 2014 Maidan coup and ran black ops into Eastern Ukraine–some coordinated out of Poland.
The Pandora Papers specified that Zelensky had set up off-shore bank accounts in 2004 with his old friend and TV business partner, Serhiy Shefir, who produced Zelensky’s hit show “Servant of the People,” and became his campaign manager and chief of staff.
Partners in Crime: Zelensky and Serhiy Shefir. [Source: occrp.org]
Zelensky in 2019 had campaigned on a peace platform; once in power, however, he expanded Ukraine’s deadly war in Eastern Ukraine while calling for the retaking of Crimea and amassing thousands of troops on the border of Donbass.
Sanders was silent about all this because it undercuts his narrative about the Russia-Ukraine conflict as a black-and-white struggle.
In his speeches Sanders has often compared Putin with Donald Trump as representatives of an oligarchic class bent on destroying democracy around the world. The implication is that a new Cold War crusade is morally justifiable—particularly when led by a Democratic Party administration said to be holding the line against pro-Trump fascists and Capitol rioters at home.
Shocking Statements About NATO
In the 1990s, then Congressman Sanders wisely opposed NATO expansion into Eastern Europe, seeing it as an unnecessary provocation of Russia.
Nevertheless, in a 2016 primary debate on PBS, Sanders said that we “have to work with NATO to protect Eastern Europe against any kind of Russian aggression.” Subsequently, Sanders called NATO “the most successful military alliance in probably human history.”
The latter was a shocking statement coming in the wake of the criminal NATO attacks on Libya, Syria, and Afghanistan, which Sanders largely supported.
NATO also has a long history of subversion, establishing neo-fascist stay-behind armies in Europe that carried out black-flag terrorist operations in an effort to turn public opinion against communism during the Cold War.
The Death of the Liberal Class
According to his website, Bernie has been consistent in supporting economic sanctions and international pressure on Russia in an attempt to isolate it; those are policies that Wallace and Roosevelt would have most certainly opposed.
The sanctions originally resulted from lobbying efforts by the kind of billionaire that Sanders purports to hate—William F. Browder, a hedge-fund manager who participated in the looting of Russia in the 1990s.
Browder concocted a story about his accountant, Sergei Magnitsky, being brutalized in a Russian jail after his company was robbed--when Magnitsky appears to have been helping him to evade paying taxes in Russia and to scam the Russian government.
While ludicrously accused of being supported by Russia, Sanders has for many years denounced Putin, whom he calls an “anti-democratic authoritarian,” who engaged in “military adventurism in Ukraine and the Crimea” and “interfered” in U.S. politics.
At a rally in Kansas in 2018, Bernie criticized President Donald Trump for his border policy and being weak against Putin by saying, “We say to Trump, instead of showing us your strength by tearing children from their families, where was your strength in standing up to Putin and Russia for undermining American democracy?”
These comments epitomize what Chris Hedges once called the “death of the liberal class.” The tearing of children from their families by Trump was indeed objectionable, but Sanders was criticizing the supposed fascist Trump’s foreign policy from the right while adopting accusations straight from the old John Birch Society playbook.
[The John Birch Society was an extreme anti-communist group that accused the USSR of subverting U.S. democracy during the Cold War.]
In July 2019, a Clinton-appointed judge dismissed a lawsuit by the Democratic National Committee [DNC] against the Trump campaign and Julian Assange for lack of evidence of election meddling, stating that the DNC’s accusations were “totally divorced from the facts asserted in the organization’s own complaint.”
Two years earlier, the group Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity [VIPS] found, based on the speed of communication, that a supposed Russian hack of Hillary Clinton’s emails was actually a leak carried out on the East Coast of the United States—findings that were ignored by the much-vaunted Mueller investigation and by Sanders himself.
In rebuking Putin’s alleged military adventurism in Ukraine and Crimea, Sanders ignores the fact that Crimea was historically part of Russia and that its population overwhelmingly voted to rejoin Russia after the Obama administration backed the 2014 coup in Ukraine.
A False Political Messiah
Sanders has had a remarkable political career casting himself as an heir to the Roosevelt-Wallace tradition. Unfortunately, he has betrayed that golden tradition in his attitude toward Russia—which is not uncharacteristic.
In the 1990s, the “Birkenstock bomber,” as Jeffrey St. Clair called Sanders, championed NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and evicted anti-war demonstrators at his office in Burlington much more quickly than his Republican predecessor, Jim Jeffords.
Sanders also waged a fierce bureaucratic battle with Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to bring F-35 production to the Burlington Air Base as the premier weapon of the Green Mountain Boys.
According to the website opensecrets.org, since 1989, Sanders has received $373,520 directly from the Pentagon, with another $401,570 from the U.S. Army, $386,165 from the U.S. Navy, and $383,885 from the U.S. Air Force, along with $341,193 from Boeing, a leading defense contractor.
These numbers may account for Bernie’s position on Russia and other limitations on foreign policy that make him fall well short of the Roosevelt-Wallace standard.
Jeremy Kuzmarov is Managing Editor of CovertAction Magazine. He is the author of four books on U.S. foreign policy, including Obama’s Unending Wars (Clarity Press, 2019) and The Russians Are Coming, Again, with John Marciano (Monthly Review Press, 2018). He can be reached at: email@example.com.
This article was produced by CovertAction Magazine.
I wholeheartedly appreciate the trust and support of the people, because without it, without the support of the people, we could not resist the onslaught of the corrupt conservatives or achieve (which is the most important thing) the beautiful ideal of continuing to transform the country. We are inspired by our exemplary history in the legacy left to us by our heroes, and in the cultures of deep Mexico, from which they demand the best lessons of work, freedom, justice, democracy, honesty, dignity, and love for others.
In the time that we have (two and a half years to go, a little less), I hope that, as has been the case up until now, with the support of the people, we continue walking towards a welfare state that allows us to eradicate hunger and live free from misery.
We have the task of guaranteeing social security from birth to death, that no one in Mexico is born condemned to poverty, without justice, without a future. May the widest opportunities open up to climb the social ladder through study and work, without abandoning our identity, the pride of our origin, and that the right to happiness become a reality.
I think there are two fundamental things, they continue to promote the revolution of consciences with words and deeds, which is the most effective way to confront the conservative and reactionary thinking of our opponents. And not only for that, so that the conquests of our times become irreversible, so that everything we achieve for the benefit of the people cannot be reversed. And the best guarantee, the best insurance, is a change in the mentality of our people, because the people will be in charge of defending these achievements for their benefit.
And do not forget that material well-being and also the well-being of the soul must be sought, because man does not live by bread alone. There is no doubt that human beings need well-being. We all need to live well, no one can be happy without work, food, health, housing, or any other basic satisfaction. A man in poverty thinks only how to survive before taking up political, scientific, artistic, or spiritual tasks.
Frederick Engels masterfully explained it in his speech at the grave of Karl Marx, arguing that “just as Darwin discovered the law of development of organic nature, Marx discovered the law of development of human history." "The fact so simple," according to Engels, "but hidden under the ideological undergrowth that man first of all needs to eat, drink, have a roof over his head, and clothe himself, before he can do politics, science, art, or religion."
But the meaning of life, I maintain, should not be reduced solely to obtaining the material, to what we possess or accumulate. A person without attachment to a code of principles, without attachment to an ideal, to a doctrine, hardly achieves happiness; in some cases he will succeed at all costs and unscrupulously leads to an empty life, an unhappy life.
Hence, the balance between the material and the spiritual should always be sought. Ensure that no one lacks what is essential for survival, and cultivate at the same time, the best feelings, and attitudes towards our fellow men. In short, let us never stop acting with mysticism in our public work, in our political work, nor let us ever put aside humanism and fraternity.
Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO): President of Mexico.
More than 100 years after World War I, Europe’s leaders are sleepwalking toward a new all-out war. In 1914, the European governments believed that the war would last three weeks; it lasted four years and resulted in more than 20 million deaths. The same nonchalance is visible with the war in Ukraine. The dominant view is that the aggressor should be left broken and humbled. Then, the defeated power was Germany. Some dissenting voices, such as John Maynard Keynes, felt that the humbling of Germany would be a disaster. Their warnings went unheeded. Twenty-one years later, Europe was back at war, which lasted six years and killed 70 million people. History neither repeats itself nor seems to teach us anything, but it does illustrate similarities and differences.
The hundred years before 1914 offered Europe relative peace. What wars took place were of a short-lived nature. The reason for this was the Congress of Vienna (1814-15), which brought together the victors and the vanquished from the Napoleonic wars to create a lasting peace. The chair of the conference was Klemens von Metternich, who made sure that the defeated power (France) paid for its actions with territorial losses but that it signed the treaty along with Austria, England, Prussia, and Russia to secure peace with dignity.
Negotiation or Total Defeat
While the Napoleonic wars took place between European powers, today’s war is between a European (Russia) and a non-European (United States) power. It is a proxy war, with both sides using a third country (Ukraine) to achieve geostrategic goals that go well beyond the country in question and the continent to which it belongs. Russia is at war with Ukraine because it is a war with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which is commanded by the United States. NATO has been at the service of U.S. geostrategic interests. Once a steadfast champion of the self-determination of peoples, Russia is now illegally sacrificing these same principles to assert its own security concerns, after failing to have them recognized through peaceful means, and out of an undisguised imperial nostalgia. For its part, since the end of the first cold war, the U.S. has striven to deepen Russia’s defeat, a defeat which in fact was probably more self-inflicted than brought about by any superiority on the part of its opponent.
From NATO’s perspective, the goal of the war in Ukraine is to inflict an unconditional defeat on Russia, preferably one that leads to regime change in Moscow. The duration of the war depends on that goal. Where is Russia’s incentive to end the war when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson permits himself to say that sanctions against Russia will continue, no matter what Russia’s position is now? Would it be sufficient for Russian President Vladimir Putin to be ousted (as was the case with Napoleon in 1815), or is the truth of the matter that the NATO countries insist on the ousting of Russia itself so that China’s expansion can be halted? There was also regime change in the 1918 humbling of Germany, but it all ended up leading to Hitler and an even more devastating war. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s political greatness could be construed as being either in recognition of the brave patriot who defends his country from the invader to the last drop of blood or in recognition of the brave patriot who, faced with the imminence of so many innocent deaths and the asymmetry in military strength, successfully enlists the support of his allies to negotiate fiercely to secure a dignified peace. The fact that the former construction is now the prevalent one probably has little to do with President Zelenskyy’s personal preferences.
Where Is Europe?
During the two world wars of the 20th century, Europe was the self-proclaimed center of the world. That is why we call the two wars world wars. About 4 million of Europe’s troops were in fact African and Asian. Many thousands of non-European deaths were the price paid by the inhabitants of remote colonies of the countries involved, sacrificed in a war that did not concern them.
Now, Europe is but a small corner of the world, which the war in Ukraine will render even smaller. For centuries, Europe was merely the western tip of Eurasia, the huge landmass that stretched from China to the Iberian Peninsula and witnessed the exchange of knowledge, products, scientific innovations, and cultures. Much of what was later attributed to European exceptionalism (from the scientific revolution of the 16th century to the industrial revolution in the 19th century) cannot be understood, nor would it have been possible, without those centuries-old exchanges. The war in Ukraine—especially if it goes on for too long—runs the risk not only of amputating one of Europe’s historic powers (Russia), but also of isolating it from the rest of the world, notably from China.
The world is far bigger than what you get to see through European or North American lenses. Seeing through these lenses, Europeans have never felt so strong, so close to their larger partner, so sure of standing on the right side of history, with the whole planet being run by the rules of the “liberal order,” a world finally feeling strong enough to go forth sometime soon and conquer—or at least neutralize—China, after having destroyed China’s main partner, Russia.
Seeing through non-European lenses, on the other hand, Europe and the U.S. stand haughtily all but alone, probably capable of winning one battle, but on their way to certain defeat in the war of history. More than half of the world’s population lives in countries that have decided not to join the sanctions against Russia. Many of the United Nations member states that voted (rightly) against the illegal invasion of Ukraine did so based on their historical experience, which consisted of being invaded, not by Russia, but rather by the U.S., England, France, or Israel. Their decision was not dictated by ignorance, but by precaution. How can they trust countries that created SWIFT—a financial transfer system aimed at protecting economic transactions against political interference—only to end up removing from that system a country on political grounds? Countries that arrogate to themselves the power to confiscate the financial and gold reserves of sovereign nations like Afghanistan, Venezuela, and now Russia? Countries that trumpet freedom of expression as a sacrosanct universal value, but resort to censorship the moment they are exposed by it? Countries that are supposed to cherish democracy and yet have no qualms about staging a coup whenever an election goes against their interests? Countries in whose eyes the “dictator” Nicolás Maduro becomes a trading partner overnight because the circumstances have changed? The world is no longer a place of innocence—if it ever was.
Boaventura de Sousa Santos is the emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Coimbra in Portugal. His most recent book is Decolonizing the University: The Challenge of Deep Cognitive Justice.
It has become fashionable for Marxists today to accept whatever radical bourgeois academia crops up for analyzing different forms of 'oppression,' e.g., intersectionality, critical race theory, etc. As I have argued before, however, all of these deviations are antithetical to the essence of Marxism - the class struggle. Some Marxists theorists such as G. A. Cohen and the school of analytic Marxism would lean towards the view that the development of productive forces is the motor of change in societies (also known as “Technological Determinism ''). Although this view would similarly reject these new bourgeois inventions, it is still a deviation from the class struggle. In our age, the central theoretician for the Marxist theory of class struggle is Domenico Losurdo. While many Marxists have the tendency to conceptualize class struggle in its idealized and pure form (e.g., proletariat vs. bourgeoisie), Lusordo’s novel contribution lies in his more concrete understanding of class struggle involving many different contradictions (social conflicts) beside class proper. The contradictions Losurdo observed beside class proper are national oppression and patriarchal oppression.
Losurdo believes that these contradictions are not incidentally related to class struggle, but rather their relationship to class struggle is as a species of class struggle. Losurdo explains that national oppression and patriarchal oppression both involve the contradiction between exploiters and exploited. National oppression tends to involve the oppressor nation exploiting the oppressed nation through colonization; the oppressed nation produces surplus goods expropriated by the oppressor nation. Patriarchal oppression tends to involve the dominant gender (man) exploiting the subordinate gender (women) by expropriating the surplus value of a woman’s domestic labor; such patriarchal oppression begins in the formation and perpetuation of the monogamous family in which the patriarch resembles the bourgeoisie and the mother (and her children) resemble the proletariat. Losurdo also discusses racial oppression, but in some contexts, he treats it as akin to national oppression and in other contexts he treats it as if it’s separate from national oppression.
Lusordo’s genus-species model is that different forms of oppression that seem independent of class struggle are actually species of class struggle. Class struggle is the genus that includes various forms of oppression as species. Why? Because these species of class struggle involve the same kind of contradiction as class struggle: exploiters vs. exploited. Losurdo proceeds to provide textual and historical evidence to support his claim that his theory isn’t entirely novel, but rather his theory can be supported by the writings and actions of Marx and Engels. The suggestion is that Marx and Engels’ theory of class struggle is basically the same as Lusordo’s, but unlike Losurdo they never formulated the theory of class struggle.
I won’t go into the details of Lusordo’s argument where he provides textual evidence to support his claim. Rather, I’ll proceed to outline a theory of class struggle based on Losurdo’s work. I’ll begin with Lusordo’s genus-species model of class struggle. While Lusordo’s model has strong merits, I want to add more to his model that I personally believe would improve it. In particular, while I agree with Losurdo that class contradictions like national oppression and patriarchal oppression are species of class struggle, I wish to add more. Each species of class struggle shouldn’t be understood in isolation from one another, but rather they bear multiple relations to one another. One of the relations is that one species of class struggle can generate another species of class struggle. Furthermore, a species of class struggle creates a system of oppression that maintains it.
Lusordo’s implicit explanation seems to be that national oppression and patriarchal oppression are species of class struggle because they essentially have the same kind of contradiction as that of class struggle: exploiter vs. exploited. An exploiter expropriates goods with surplus value produced by the exploited. This pattern appears in both national oppression and patriarchal oppression. I believe Losurdo is essentially correct here, but I believe more needs to be added. Specifically, species of class struggle bear complex relationships with one another in which they’re interrelated. One relation that will be the focus of my essay is that one species of class struggle can generate another species of class struggle.
Let’s consider patriarchal oppression first. Engels wrote a book Origin of the Family, Private Property, and State gives an account for how the patriarchal monogamous family emerged. To summarize Engels’s argument briefly (and crudely), Engels argues that the patriarchal monogamous family emerged due to the emergence of private property. A monogamous family functions as a social mechanism to pass on private property from one owner to a prospective owner through inheritance. This social mechanism privileged one gender (men) over another (women) by giving one gender property rights. This also subordinates women in the monogamous family to the patriarch because they depend on the patriarch’s property to live. Furthermore, women were used by their own family to marry the patriarch in order to acquire some property. Women are basically sold to patriarchs to engage in domestic labor for the patriarch. In exchange, a woman’s family receives some property from the patriarch and a woman is guaranteed a livelihood under the patriarch’s household.
Marx and Engels consider patriarchal oppression to be the first instance of class struggle. Why? Because the monogamous family dispossesses women of property while establishing private property relations for the male patriarch. The male patriarch owns his property including the tools and instruments of domestic labor that a woman uses. A woman produces some surplus value over and above necessary value expropriated by the male patriarch. The practice of the male patriarch’s property passing on to his male heir rather than a non-male heir reproduces the patriarchal social relation in which a male patriarch owns the property and his female counterpart remains perpetually dispossessed. This not only instantiates an exploiter vs. exploited dynamic in which the exploiter subjugates the exploited in order to expropriate surplus value produced by the exploited, but it is the first kind of exploiter-exploited contradiction. Marx and Engels argue that this first kind of exploited vs. exploiter contradiction is a germ for ancient slavery. This first species of class struggle generated another species of class struggle: slavery. Ancient slavery inherits the exploiter vs. exploited dynamic from the patriarchal exploitation.
Just as ancient slavey inherited the exploiter vs. exploited dynamic from patriarch exploitation, the same can be said for national oppression and racial oppression with regard to class struggle between social classes. The ruling class of the dominant nation wishes to expropriate more surplus value than they’re expropriating from laborers in their home country, so they use their exploited members of their nation to dominate other nations in order to expropriate more surplus value from newly subordinated nations. Such is the case for the relationship between the British Empire and Ireland. The British Empire, spearheaded by the aristocracy and bourgeoisie, used the English working class to subordinate the Irish people in order to expropriate their land and surplus value. Marx and Engels point out that this colonial relationship will continue as long as the English working class remain subordinated and manipulated by the English aristocracy and bourgeoisie. Notice that national oppression didn’t simply emerge independently of class struggle, but the mechanism of its emergence is class struggle. Since the English aristocracy and bourgeoisie already subordinate the English working class through class dominance, they are able to use this class dynamic to their advantage by expanding to Ireland in order to colonize it. The class contradiction in England generated another species of class contradiction, national oppression, which also inherited the exploiter vs. exploited dynamic from it.
Racial oppression is roughly similar. Racial oppression emerged in the context of class struggle. How? For instance, the ruling class needed more labor in order to maintain and grow their newly found colonies in colonial America. But they don’t have enough supply of such labor in Europe. At most they can acquire more European indentured servants, but the supply of indentured servants isn’t in abundance. Their alternative is to find a supply of labor in the existing slave market in West Africa. They bought slaves as well as captured slaves from West Africa to bring an abundant supply of labor to their new colonies through the transatlantic slave trade. This new supply of slaves preserved and strengthened their colonies as well as their class dominance. This is literally an instance of class struggle that involves a contradiction between one social class (bourgeois slave owners) and another social class (slaves). But this particular class contradiction gave rise to racial oppression. Originally, racial oppression in colonial America (and eventually United States before the abolition of slavery) almost completely overlapped with class struggle between the slave owners and slaves. It developed in the context of class struggle between slave owners and slaves and it was used to maintain this class dynamic (e.g. lynching, slave patrols, banning literacy, torture, and so on). But racial oppression acquired some relative (not absolute) independence from class struggle proper. Even after slavery was abolished, racial oppression no longer functions to maintain slavery, but rather to maintain super-exploitation and underdevelopment of black laborers. The overall point is that racial oppression can’t be separated from class struggle because it exists due largely in part to one form of class struggle (e.g. early bourgeoisie who own colonial territory including plantations vs. indentured servants and other laborers) generating another form of class struggle (e.g. slave owners vs. slaves).
So far I spoke about various forms of oppression: national oppression, patriarchal oppression, and racial oppression. I explained how they’re not only different species of class struggle, they either generate a new species of class struggle (e.g. patriarchal oppression generating ancient slavery) or they’re generated by a species of class struggle. But there are other forms of oppression that I haven’t discussed.
For instance, what about oppression of LGBTQ+ people? How does their oppression involve the exploiter-exploited contradiction and how does this contradiction emerge in the context of class struggle? Before I answer these questions, I like to remind my readers that this essay puts forward a rough outline of the theory of class struggle rather than a mature and developed theory. One possible answer (known among Marxist theoreticians) is that the function of the oppression of LGBTQ+ is to maintain the patriarchal monogamous family which in turn has an importance under capitalism. While the patriarchal monogamous family goes all the way back to slavery, it eventually acquired a new role under capitalism. In particular, its role was to provide a supply of a reserve army of labor through reproduction. A woman’s role in the monogamous family was to provide reproductive and domestic labor rather than to sell her labor power in the market while a man’s role was to provide for the family by selling his labor power in the market for a wage that can sustain his family. The monogamous family under capitalism continued to delineate gender roles that had to be maintained to replenish and grow the reserve army of labor through reproduction. One of the way this is maintained is to oppress LGBTQ+ people in order to “keep them in line.” But as the productive forces become advanced and automated such that a supply of labor power isn’t a high demand like it once a generation ago, the traditional monogamous family is slowly becoming obsolete and LGBTQ+ are experiencing an unprecedented degree freedom (though they’re still very much oppressed in a variety of of ways). Again, this is just one possible answer.
What about people with disabilities and elderly people? Again, like the previous oppression, there is no definitive answer to this yet, but one possible answer is that capitalism favors workers whose physical and mental labor power can produce or facilitate the production of commodities with embodied surplus value. The bourgeoisie has a standard of what constitutes a laborer being physically and mentally fit in order to buy mental & physical labor power the bourgeoisie consider to be reliable. This is not a perfect answer, but the purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the explanatory power of the theory of class struggle that I’m putting forward in this essay.
These different forms of oppression emerged in the context of class struggle proper. They inherited the exploiter-exploited relationship from class struggle proper. In this respect, class struggle is fundamental to various forms of oppression that we normally don’t classify as class struggle due to the dominant liberal ideology. What is this dominant liberal ideology? It presents various forms of oppression as more or less independent lanes that incidentally intersect with one another and inadvertently treats class as one among many lanes which intersect with them. Class under this dominant liberal model has no special place. A Marxist should reject the dominant liberal ideology in favor of the theory of class struggle. Why? Because it provides a theoretical and ideological basis for class solidarity among workers. The dominant liberal ideology insinuates a pessimistic message that workers are in a perpetual antagonistic relationship with one another which can’t be resolved. But there is a potential for class solidarity among them because they all are exploited in a variety of ways throughout the complex history of class struggle. Many of the social divisions that exist among them can be ultimately traced back to the long history of class struggle that even precedes industrial capitalism. These social contradictions exist ultimately to maintain the class dominance of the exploiters…in particular the imperialistic bourgeoisie who own cartels as shareholders.
The theory of class struggle I outlined so far is a rough outline. It is far from mature and well developed. I mostly wrote this essay as a starting point before it (hopefully) reaches the peak of its development and maturity. What prompted me to write this essay is that I realize many people who call themselves Marxists still underestimate the importance of class struggle in understanding various forms of oppression because of their implicit embrace of the dominant liberal ideology under the guise of social justice. So I thought it’s important to outline this theory to help my readers understand not only the importance, but also the theoretical and ideological necessity to displace liberalism with Marxism.
Paul So is a graduate student who studies philosophy in a PhD program at University of California Santa Barbara. While Paul’s research interests mostly lie within the tradition of Analytic Philosophy (e.g. Philosophy of Mind and Meta-Ethics), he recently developed a strong passion in Marxism as his newfound research interest. He is particularly interested in dialectical materialism, historical materialism, and imperialism.
Amazon Labor Union worker-organizers celebrated their 2,654-2,131 win today. Photo: AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez
It’s the magical stuff of Disney movies. But yesterday, the improbable became the most probable when the scrappy band of workers who make up the Amazon Labor Union took the lead in a union election at a warehouse in Staten Island, New York, putting within reach a historic labor win at the corporate behemoth.
Before the vote count most reporters had dismissed the independent union’s chances, treating the organizing as a curiosity at best. “I think we have been overlooked,” said ALU Treasurer Madeline Wesley Thursday night. “And I think that that ends tomorrow when we are victorious.”
The ALU clinched a decisive victory today, winning by a wide margin to create the first unionized workplace in Amazon’s extensive network of fulfillment, delivery, and sortation centers across the U.S. The company’s facilities are concentrated in metropolitan areas like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, opening a path for more organizing.
The vote at the Staten Island warehouse was 2,654 in favor of forming a union to 2,131 against. There were 67 challenged ballots, and 17 voided; 8,325 workers were eligible to vote.
“We want to thank Jeff Bezos for going to space, because while he was up there we were organizing a union,” said ALU President Chris Smalls after official results were announced.
Another warehouse at the same complex on Staten Island, LDJ5, will begin a vote to unionize with the ALU on April 25.
How We Did It
MAPPED OUT THE LEADERS
Thursday night in Brooklyn, after the first six of the 10 boxes of ballots had been counted, workers were giddy with excitement and disbelief, dancing to hip-hop and laughing.
“It seemed like a long shot,” said ALU Vice President Derrick Palmer outside the building in Bushwick, weighting each word for emphasis. “But we just went out there and did it—workers, unionizing the second-largest private employer in the country.”
The more Palmer spoke about what exactly they had done to accomplish the impressive feat, the clearer it became that neither magic nor luck had anything to do with the union’s victory; it was hardscrabble worker-to-worker organizing that got the goods.
Palmer has worked as a packer at Amazon’s sprawling warehouse complex for three years. He estimates that out of 100 people in his department, 70 percent were solid yes voters.
“I pretty much flipped my whole department,” he said. “What I’ll do is study a group of friends and go to the leader of the pack. Whatever the leader says, the rest of the group is going to do.”
Fellow ALU organizer Michael Aguilar agreed about the approach. For example, “Cassio [Mendoza] talks to all the Latino workers in the building,” he said.
“I knew that we would win because of Maddie [Wesley],” Aguilar added. “She’s so empathetic, so she can connect with a lot of people in the building. She was one of the key leaders.”
The independent union enlisted the support of volunteers from various unions and community groups to run a phone banking operation. Wesley tallied union support on the phones and in tabling outside the facility; it was during one such tabling that she recruited Aguilar to the organizing effort.
“Our data had about 65 percent support, which obviously has some margin of error because the people who are most likely to talk to us are most likely to be supporters,” said Wesley.
Most of the workers I spoke to didn’t use organizing lingo, but they had clearly mapped the warehouse. “We know in which departments, and on which shifts, we have strong support because of where our organizers are,” Wesley said.
ALU member Justine Medina credited Communist organizer William Z. Foster’s Organizing Methods in the Steel Industry for the group’s organizational acumen and bottom-up organizing approach. She and others on the organizing committee read and discussed it, giving it out to workers to read. (See sidebar.)
An Inside Job
The worker-led character of the organizing drive gave it credibility. When Amazon tried to portray the union as an outside “third party,” its highly paid consultants’ arguments would fall flat, because workers would take their questions to their ALU co-workers.
Meetings in the break room were decisive, Palmer said: “I was organizing in the break room on my days off like 10 hours a day, giving out food, talking to workers, and giving out information.”
Smalls said he urged co-workers, “Come have a conversation with me. Don’t just go off what you’re hearing from Amazon and the rumors.”
But collective actions were crucial too. “We showed them that we’re fearless,” said Smalls. “We did rallies in front of the building. We showed them, better than we can talk about it.”
Smalls led a walkout in March 2020 to protest the company's failure to keep workers safe from the pandemic. Amazon fired him afterwards, supposedly for violating Covid protocols. Vice reported that the company’s general counsel insulted Smalls in a meeting with top brass, calling him “not smart or articulate.”
These remarks have elevated the charismatic Smalls as the face of the union drive. But asked about the media attention, he points to the collective struggle and emphasizes that the ALU operates on democratic principles, with all decisions voted on. “I’m just the interim president,” he said. “I’m temporary. It’s not my union; it’s the people’s union.”
Plenty more Warehouses
Standing outside in a drizzle of rain Thursday night, he lifted his hand and pointed towards the Brooklyn apartment they’ve turned into their homebase: “That’s all I had was 20 core committee members, and a workers’ committee of over 100 people. We started with about four.”
Asked if ALU would consider affiliating with another union, he said, “I got to be with the people that was with me from day one. We want to stay independent, and it’s better that way. That’s how we got here.”
But, he adds, “whatever anybody is doing against Amazon, shiiiit, they got my support! There’s plenty of [Amazon] buildings. Pick one!”
He compared ALU’s culture to Money Heist, the Spanish Netflix series where a criminal mastermind known as “The Professor” brings a band of criminals together to take on the state and steal billions of euros from the Royal Mint. “Call me The Professor,” he jokes.
Smalls went from hip-hop hopeful to labor leader. “Life is crazy,” he said. “That’s all I can say. Who would have thought?”
This article was republished from Labor Notes.
Liberation School's new book Revolutionary Education is edited by Nino Brown.
Capital was a formidable book from the moment it was published in 1867. In an attempt to make the content more accessible, Capital's first French publisher published the book in multiple pieces.
Karl Marx wrote to the publisher and commended him for the new teaching method used to present Capital. "I applaud your idea of publishing the translation of Das Kapital as a serial," he wrote. "In this form the book will be more accessible to the working class, a consideration which to me outweighs everything else."
The first three chapters, however, had a unique structure that were harder to understand split apart. Despite this tradeoff, Marx approved of the approach since the most important metric for him was whether people would understand his analysis of capitalism.
So as in 1872, so today: Socialism must be understood to be accepted. Socialism is a system where the working class wields control over the productive forces of society, and the economy is planned in a scientific manner according to the needs of the people and planet. Socialism unleashes the potential of the highest creativity and flowering of the working class.
Although the demonization in recent years has faded, socialism remains a badly-misunderstood topic. Teaching, therefore, is a critical skill that socialist organizers can and must hone and master. Different situations calls for different teaching methods, or pedagogies. How do we know which method to use? How do we improve our own efficacy in presenting information?
Liberation School's fresh book, Revolutionary Education: Teaching and practice for socialist organizers, explores these questions from the viewpoints of history, theory, and practice. Edited by Nino Brown, the book compiles essays from educators, organizers, and journalists on revolutionary education and socialist educational methods.
Brown explains in his essay on building organizations and developing cadre that organizers have much to learn from the suffering, sacrifices and victories of our comrades in struggle all over the world. "We are all linked by our common oppression under imperialism," he writes. The job of a revolutionary is to help make the revolution. To do that, socialists need to make more revolutionaries.
How do socialists win people over? Socialists are actually in the most favorable moment for socialists in the U.S. in decades. Organizer Walter Smolarek explains that organizers have the opportunity to make connections with working people and build a base of support through different tactics, including provisioning direct services.
Provisioning direct services, commonly referred to as "mutual aid", can be a way to make inroads with communities. Even an inherently nonrevolutionary activity can be used as an opening to bring people into the political struggle for socialism, but the tactic itself cannot be confused with the strategy. When a current approach does not work, organizers must recalculate and find new tactics to reach people.
The goal of Revolutionary Education, after all, is the emancipation of humankind.
Guinea-Bissau's struggle for independence led by the liberator, theorist, and educator Amilcar Cabral is one such example.
Curry Mallot traces the history of how the small west African country became a world leader in decolonial education, in large part due to the leadership of revolutionary Amílcar Cabral. For more than 400 years Guinea-Bissau was a colony of the vicious Portuguese empire, Mallot writes, whose colonial mode of education was "designed to foster a sense of inferiority in the youth." Colonial educators set predetermined outcomes sought to dominate learners by treating them as if they were passive objects.
Militant historian Sónia Vaz Borges, the child of Cape Verdean immigrants, grew up in Portugal. Vaz Borges experienced firsthand the colonial education taught to the African diaspora in the colonial center. In an interview with Breaking the Chains, she recounts how the African community "does not see themselves reflected in official versions of Portuguese history." Political education is not abstract.
Socialists must be able to explain the class character of all events. Organizers know socialist revolution is the only path to survival, yet how do we convince others of its necessity? Revolutionary teaching has to give the person all of the keys needed to be able to interpret events. "Every event has an origin and a process of development," explains Frank González, director of Cuba's Prensa Latina news agency in a 2006 interview with Gloria La Riva.
Television overwhelms us with images, González notes, but the same media denies space to interpret events. The development of social media has only exacerbated these effects. In the end, bourgeois media leaves people with nothing but confusion.
In a separate essay, Mallott explores Soviet psychologist Lev Vygotsky's ground-breaking work that shows how people's development corresponds to their past and present experiences. Thought emerges from engagement with the concrete world. "While all of us have been shaped by this racist, sexist, capitalist society," Mallott writes, "we never lose the ability to grow, change and think differently."
Intelligence is an attribute but also a social construct. How do you tell children facing hunger, homelessness, and police brutality to be more "gritty", when in fact they already put in tremendous effort to survive? Organizer Jane Cutter in her essay on comradeship emphasizes that all progressive people must be willing to learn from experience and work in collaboration.
Revolutionary Education closes with two practical appendices for day-to-day organizing. "Formulating study and discussion questions" explains how to break out of a linear mode of education. The sample questions are in and of themselves instructive for the tactics they represent in addition to the thought that they provoke. Learning facts and timelines goes hand-in-hand with discussion with others, reflection on ideas and combining those with our own experiences.
Comprehension questions, for example, help distill dense texts down to their key points. Questions that focus on the identification of significance help people understand why the author themselves highlighted portions as key. For revolutionaries, perhaps the most important types of questions are those that apply and extend our knowledge of the world. How can revolutionary pedagogy sharpen our ability to educate and reach people?
The second appendix covers teaching tactics that can be applied in study groups or classrooms. Some material is best presented in a lecture form, while other situations call for more interactive engagement through having participants draw out concept maps.
How do we best reach people? How do we make sure that our message is getting across? Each situation calls for its own tactics. Revolutionaries must be flexible and adaptable according to the needs of the moment. Learning is an endeavor that requires effort on the part of both participant and teacher.
Marx closes his 1872 letter with an encouragement to work through such difficulties. "There is no royal road to science, and only those who do not dread the fatiguing climb of its steep paths have a chance of gaining its luminous summits."
Those in the struggle for socialism will find in Revolutionary Education a worthy climbing tool indeed.
Patricia Gorky co-hosted the podcast Reading Capital with Comrades.
This article was republished from Hampton Think.
In 1994, Miguel Díaz-Canel began a new position in Santa Clara, not far from his birthplace of Placetas, as the provincial secretary of the Cuban Communist Party. He set aside the air-conditioned car given to him and went to work each morning on his bicycle, his long hair and jeans defining him. Díaz-Canel organized rock concerts, spent time with his family at El Mejunje, the local LGBTQ cultural center, and roamed about talking to people on the streets. This closeness to the people defined his tenure at Santa Clara, which shaped the man who is now the president of Cuba.
In March, I spent a few hours talking to Díaz-Canel, who—born in 1960—has lived his entire life as Cuba struggled against the suffocating policies from Washington to shape its socialist path. Raised by a teacher and a factory worker, Díaz-Canel saw firsthand the Cuban Revolution’s comprehensive program of social justice in which millions of members of the working class, peasants, Black people, and women began to access for the first time on equal terms the right to work, study and live with dignity. Díaz-Canel’s generation grew up in a period under Fidel Castro’s leadership in which, despite the existence of a U.S. blockade, most Cubans saw their standards of living and quality of life rise significantly due to national development plans, favorable trade relations with the Soviet Union and a growing network of support in the nonaligned world. Díaz-Canel studied electrical engineering at the Central University of Las Villas, but early on in his career teaching engineering there, he devoted much of his time to local activism with the Young Communist League. That led him to an internationalist mission in Nicaragua where, along with thousands of Cuban doctors and teachers, he served among the poorest, often in remote corners of this Central American country that was then trapped under a U.S.-funded war of counterinsurgency.
Díaz-Canel returned from Nicaragua in 1989 as the USSR neared its final days and as the U.S. government seized the opportunity to tighten restrictions on Cuba. In 1991, Cuba entered a Special Period as trade fell by 80 percent. Cubans were eating less (caloric intake decreased by 27 percent from 1990 to 1996), long queues for food became common, electricity became a rare occurrence, and millions took to riding bicycles as the island faced a severe oil shortage under an intensified blockade. Díaz-Canel was one of those on a bicycle. Cuba’s resilience during the Special Period shaped his view of the world.
Special Period II
In 2018, Díaz-Canel was elected to be the president of Cuba. U.S. President Donald Trump had tightened the U.S. blockade on Cuba, with 243 new sanctions measures, the prevention of remittances from overseas Cubans coming to the island, and Cuba being placed back on the United States’ State Sponsors of Terrorism list. This campaign of maximum pressure has hurt the Cuban economy, which began to see fuel and food shortages that echoed the Special Period. The Biden administration has kept each and every one of these measures in place.
During the pandemic, the U.S. did not allow Cuba any relief from its unilateral blockade. The Cuban government spent $102 million on reagents, medical equipment, protective equipment, and other material; in the first half of 2021, the government spent $82 million on these kinds of materials. This is money that Cuba did not anticipate spending—money that it does not have because of the collapsed tourism sector. Despite the severe challenges to the economy, the government continued to guarantee salaries, purchase medicines, and distribute food as well as electricity and piped water. Overall, the Cuban government added $2.4 billion to its already considerable debt overhang to cover the basic needs of the population.
In this context, public discontent spilled onto the streets in 2021, notably on July 11. Díaz-Canel’s first instinct was to go to the heart of the matter and speak with the people. He went to great lengths not merely to dismiss their concerns but rather to understand them within the broader context of what Cuba was facing. Díaz-Canel said of the people that most of them are “dissatisfied,” but that their dissatisfaction was fueled by “confusion, misunderstandings, lack of information, and the desire to express a particular situation.” “Imagine facing that situation in a country that is attacked, blocked, demonized on social networks, and then COVID-19 arrives,” he told me. “Therefore, I am convinced that they [the U.S.] bet that Cuba had no way out: ‘They cannot sustain the revolution; they cannot get out of this situation.’”
Among the many creative responses to these many challenges was the decision by the Cuban government to develop its own vaccine. On May 17, 2020, Díaz-Canel called together Cuba’s scientists. “I told them, ‘Look, there is no alternative; we need a Cuban vaccine. Nobody is going to give us a vaccine. We need a Cuban vaccine that guarantees us sovereignty,’” he told me. Seven weeks later, in the second half of July, the first bottle of a Cuban vaccine candidate was ready. Soon after Cuba would have five vaccine candidates. Of these, three are already in use: Abdala, Soberana 02, and Soberana Plus. Two others are in the final stages of clinical trials and are quite promising, including one called Mambisa, which can be applied nasally. This is all short of a miracle considering that Cuba was only able to invest $50 million to develop these vaccines.
With the many economic problems that Cuba faces, President Díaz-Canel, in line with his predecessors Fidel and Raúl Castro, has renewed the principle of self-reliance. “We have to face the economic battle ourselves with the concept of creative resistance,” he said. With a growing number of workers in the non-state sector, the economy has encouraged small local businesses. A new energy has emerged between the state-led sectors of the economy and these growing new businesses.
In regular visits made by Díaz-Canel across the island, a great deal of emphasis is being placed on the local capacities of each municipality. He advocates a line of continuity with politics based on the ethics of José Martí and Fidel Castro, whose premise is to study the contradictions that exist in society, find the causes of those contradictions, and propose solutions that eliminate the causes. “We are defending the need to increasingly expand democracy on the basis of people’s participation and control in our society,” said Díaz-Canel. This approach has already opened the door to deep debates about how to eradicate the vestiges of racism that remain in society, the transformation of neighborhoods in disrepair, and a proposed legal code that would radically expand the rights of LGBTQ people, including marriage. In hundreds of meetings, many of which are recorded and televised, Díaz-Canel listens patiently to religious leaders, university students, artists, intellectuals, community organizers, social activists, and other sectors of Cuban society who have much to say. These meetings can quite often be tense. Díaz-Canel smiles and says, “We have learned tremendously, proposals are made, we can share criteria, we can clarify doubts, and then we all go out together to work.”
Cuba continues to face great challenges, and many problems remain to be solved.
Yet it’s clear that Díaz-Canel is leading a profound renewal of the Cuban Revolution in a process that seeks to face many complex challenges by empowering local leaders and citizens to become democratic problem-solvers within their communities. Those who continue to see the Cuban system as a repressive dictatorship refuse to come to terms with an evolving society that, despite the cruel violence from Washington, exists and is creating its own future.
Manolo De Los Santos is a researcher and a political activist. For 10 years, he worked in the organization of solidarity and education programs to challenge the United States’ regime of illegal sanctions and blockades. Based out of Cuba for many years, Manolo has worked toward building international networks of people’s movements and organizations. In 2018, he became the founding director of the People’s Forum in New York City, a movement incubator for working-class communities to build unity across historic lines of division at home and abroad. He also collaborates as a researcher with Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research and is a Globetrotter/Peoples Dispatch fellow.
Less than a week after the start of Russia’s military intervention, Juan Sebastian Gonzalez, senior director of Western Hemisphere affairs at the U.S. National Security Council, in an interview with Voice of America (a State Department asset), stated that “the sanctions against Russia are so robust that they will have an impact on those governments that have economic affiliations with Russia, and that is by design. So, Venezuela will start feeling the pressure; Nicaragua will start feeling the pressure; as will Cuba.” A recent article in Foreign Affairs magazine, which by way of the Council on Foreign Relations serves unofficially as a kind of discussion forum of the U.S. State Department, titled “The Eurasian Nightmare,” defended the thesis that Washington has no choice but to fight Russia and China at the same time. However, Gonzalez hints that the Biden administration’s strategy not only contemplates attacking the main front in the east (Moscow and Beijing), but also opens a front in the south—secondary, but important—against three Latin American countries that have challenged Washington the most in recent years (Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba). The southern front, however, may be broader than what the Colombia-born Juan Gonzalez makes clear.
On March 24, the commander of the U.S. Armed Forces Southern Command, General Laura Richardson, testified before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee. She said that although Russia is the “more immediate threat” in Latin America and the Caribbean, China would pose a diplomatic, technological, informational, and military challenge to the United States. Richardson had given similar testimony in the House of Representatives about two weeks earlier, where she also stated that without “U.S. leadership,” Chinese influence in the region could “soon resemble the self-serving predatory influence it now holds in Africa.” She refers to the advance of the Belt and Road Initiative across the African continent since 2013, responsible for unprecedented tens of billions of dollars in Chinese investment in basic infrastructure (energy, telecommunications, ports, railroads, highways, etc.) in exchange for the natural resources China needs to feed its industry, which is responsible for 28.7 percent of all manufacturing produced in the world and consumed globally.
General Richardson’s statements are based on two principles. First, that the United States views Latin America and the Caribbean as its “backyard,” expressed in the Monroe Doctrine since 1823 and put into practice in countless military invasions, coups, and, more recently, hybrid wars against peoples and governments not aligned with Washington. Biden recently said that “Latin America is not our backyard,” but rather that it is “America’s front yard.” Latin Americans do not want to be anyone’s yard, whether front or back. Second, that the United States believes that the foreign policy of the region’s governments should be defined by Washington.
China in Latin America
In 2000, the U.S. Congress set up the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, which offers Congress its assessment of China on U.S. national security. In November 2021, the commission’s report had an important chapter on the relations between China and the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean. The report worried about China’s support for what it termed “populist” governments from Argentina to Venezuela. It remarked on the increase in the region’s trade with China: from $18.9 billion (2002) to $295.6 billion (2020), in addition to its growing importance as a source of loans, financing ($137 billion from 2005 to 2020) and direct investments ($58 billion between 2016 and 2020). Due to this investment, China was able to assist the region in lessening the impact of the 2008 financial crisis; this investment created jobs (1.8 million between 1995 and 2016) and decreased poverty (falling from 12 percent in 2002 to 4 percent in 2018). Chinese vaccines rushed in during the pandemic, and Latin American commodity exports to China dampened the burden of the COVID recession.
The U.S.-China Commission worried about the increased connections between China and the region in telecommunications and transportation networks. Huawei’s leadership in 5G in the region as well as Sino-South American partnerships in the development of satellites (21 launched in joint ventures, most of which were with Argentina) are offered as examples. The commission also expressed alarm that China’s control or influence over ports in the region, particularly in the Caribbean, since these could—in the future—be used for military purposes (although there is no indication of any such military use by China or by the Latin American and Caribbean states).
Washington’s Cold War
Washington’s hard-right elements reacted to this report with speed. In February 2022, Senators Marco Rubio and Bob Menendez, both Cuban-Americans, introduced the Western Hemisphere Security Strategy Act of 2022 in Congress. This bill, drawing from the commission’s recommendations, proposes that the United States government directly challenge China’s role in the region. It characterizes the existence of China and Russia in the region as a “harmful and malign influence.” The bill is vague and short on details.
Dr. Evan Ellis, a professor at the U.S. Army War College whose testimony was part of the commission’s report, wrote a report in January 2022 for the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The report--“Preparing for Deterioration of the Latin America and Caribbean Strategic Environment”—points to the revival “of a particular model of leftist authoritarian populism” in Latin America and the Caribbean. The new governments, he writes, have developed links with China to help them over the COVID recession. The United States, Ellis argues, cannot mobilize sufficient resources for investment in the region because the U.S. Congress is divided and because the private sector is unwilling to take on this mission. He remains skeptical of U.S. policy in the region, particularly as Chinese state-owned companies have been effectively investing in sectors such as construction, mining, energy, and finance.
Ellis recommends four immediate actions, many of them part of what is known as “hybrid war.” First, he says that Washington should promote a media narrative that denounces the leftist governments and their relations with China. Second, the United States should support protest movements against these governments. Third, the United States must deepen its alliances with regional elites. Fourth, the United States must apply sanctions to these left-leaning governments.
Two elections in the coming months could make things more difficult for the United States. In Colombia (May), the main ally of the United States in the region, leftist candidate Gustavo Petro could push the right wing out of power. In Brazil (October), Lula leads the polls against President Jair Bolsonaro.
Ellis suspects that the arrest and imprisonment of Lula had “deepened the radicalism of his leftist populist orientation.” In May 2021, Lula told the Chinese website Guancha: “It’s not possible that every time a Latin American country starts to grow, there is a coup. And in this coup, there is always someone from the U.S., there is always the U.S. ambassador. It is not possible.”
Lula is not a radical, but if he is re-elected president of Brazil, he will bring a realistic attitude toward his country’s development. He has stressed the importance of rebuilding the Latin American and Caribbean regional bloc (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or CELAC) and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), both of which have been weakened in recent years. Chinese investment and trade are already a key part of Brazil’s plans for its future, but Lula also knows that this partnership must evolve, and Brazil needs to be more than an exporter of commodities to China.
Will the United States be able to roll back the influence of China and Russia on the region? Even Ellis does not feel confident about such an outcome. Along with Senators Rubio and Menendez, Ellis would prefer to destabilize the region than allow it to become a protagonist in a possible new world order.
The federal government has for years enabled the private market to make money off our housing needs. Now, as home prices and rents skyrocket, there is a simple solution: offer people a public option for housing.
Is housing a human right?
Or is it a privilege affordable only to those who have made it under our unfair system of market capitalism?
If you read CNBC’s recent financial advice column, you may come away believing the latter to be true. Economist and CNBC contributor Laurence J. Kotlikoff said Americans “are wasting too much money on housing,” and in order to be more financially savvy about housing he offered such innovative ideas as moving in with one’s parents, renting out part of one’s home to visitors through Airbnb, selling one’s home altogether in favor of a smaller, cheaper one, or—and this is my favorite—moving to a cheaper state.
These sorts of ludicrous solutions are typical of the corporate media’s answer to a housing crisis of epic proportions: if you can’t afford to live, just move.
The cost of homes is skyrocketing, putting homeownership out of the reach of most Americans. Reuters described how “strong house price inflation has combined to significantly increase the typical monthly mortgage payment.” And, as the Federal Reserve has started to increase interest rates, homebuyers are being stuck paying an increasing share of their mortgage as interest.
Another corporate media answer to spiking housing prices—one that Kotlikoff took for granted without articulating—is to simply let the market handle the crisis. Reuters quoted a corporate economist named Robert Frick, at Navy Federal Credit Union in Vienna, Virginia, who said, “We may be approaching a pivot point when higher home costs and higher mortgage rates cool both sales and price increases, but given the supply-and-demand imbalance, we may not hit that point this year.” Those waiting to purchase a home must apparently wait for the invisible hand of the market to balance out supply and demand and put their lives on hold in the meantime.
Rental costs are similarly skyrocketing. According to Realtor.com’s latest report, rents have jumped 17 percent from last year. The organization’s chief economist, Danielle Hale, had a similar response to Frick, saying, “With rents up by nearly 20 percent over the past two years, rental prices are likely to remain high, but we do expect some cooling from the recent accelerated pace.” In other words, at some point, rents will increase so much that people will stop being able to rent altogether, which will then lead to lower rents. Some day. Maybe.
Katie Goldstein, director of housing campaigns at the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD), explained to me in an interview that the current housing crisis is the result of “the corporate control of our housing system” where “for-profit investors and for-profit landlords are at the root of our country’s affordability crisis.” The federal government has enabled what she called “speculative behavior” in the housing market.
It’s not simply that the federal government is leaving it up to the private market to ensure all Americans are housed. It is going much further, by intervening to privilege corporate buyers of homes and rental units. For example, when the housing bubble burst in 2008 as a result of predatory lending practices, thousands of people lost their homes to foreclosures. Instead of helping people remain in their homes, the government sold many of these foreclosed properties to Wall Street investment firms at deep discounts.
These firms now control a significant portion of the rental market in the United States, raising rents in the service of turning profits. They continue to receive tax breaks and subsidies that are far greater than the amount of money the government spends on low-income housing. In other words, the federal government has adopted policies to ensure wealthy corporate interests trump housing needs—instead of the other way around.
We don’t have to live like this. And increasingly, government officials and lawmakers are being pushed to embrace the idea long championed by housing rights activists, that “Housing is a human right.”
Marcia Fudge, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), in a recent address to the National Low Income Housing Coalition declared that “If we are to fully achieve justice in housing, we must fully accept what that means: justice in housing is everyone realizing the fundamental truth—housing is a human right.”
It was the first time that a sitting head of HUD has made such a statement, and it represents a major shift in thinking that has yet to inform government policy or percolate into the corporate media’s world view.
With “over 500,000 people [who] are homeless across the country,” Goldstein sees every homeless person as “a policy failure.” This is a correct assessment, for if housing is a human right as Secretary Fudge says, the government should be enabling community control of the housing market, not corporate control. The so-called market can only be relied upon to prioritize profits, not human rights.
Although there is a public housing system in the United States, overseen by HUD, and intended to ensure that the most vulnerable Americans have homes, the problem is that “public housing has been underfunded for decades,” says Goldstein, “even though it has been the primary source of housing for low-income people.”
To ensure that the government brings federal housing policy in line with its stated ideal of “housing as a human right,” CPD has released a new report entitled “Social Housing for All: A Vision for Thriving Communities, Renter Power, and Racial Justice.” One prong of a multipronged solution to the nation’s housing crisis, as per the report, is to “provide $1 trillion over ten years to fund the construction of 12 million new social and public housing units.”
CPD wants the government to go further than merely investing in public housing and instead adopt a broader framework of “social housing.” Goldstein says her organization is calling for a “mass social housing program,” that will “not only repair the current public housing that exists, but actually create millions of new units for people… [who] actually need it.” Social housing, as per Goldstein, is “a public option for housing.”
In other words, if the private market is making housing out of reach for increasing numbers of people, there ought to be a public option provided by the government to meet the need that the market fails to meet.
Social housing, as per Goldstein, is “permanently affordable, protected from the private market, and publicly owned or under democratic community control.” CPD’s list of principles of social housing includes “deep affordability,” “tenant unions and collective bargaining,” and “quality and accessibility.” Given that the current housing crisis disproportionately impacts people of color and women, CPD’s vision for social housing is based on racial and gender justice such as requiring that people with criminal backgrounds or immigration violations are not disqualified from accessing housing.
There are existing models we can turn to. Finland has pioneered a “social housing” program, aiming to eliminate all homelessness by the year 2027. It is already on its way, with 16 percent of all housing in the nation being owned by municipal governments. CPD’s report points out that the capital, Helsinki, has “50,000 municipally owned housing units.” This is much higher than American cities of similar size and population, such as Detroit, which has 3,700 public housing units, and Portland, which has only 450.
If the federal government is currently fueling a system designed to benefit corporate America, surely it can intervene to benefit people instead. Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar has reintroduced a bill that invests $1 trillion into the housing system. Her “Homes for All” act is intended to “guarantee safe, accessible, sustainable, and permanently-affordable homes for all, create a true public option and affirm housing as a basic human right for every American.”
Social housing is hardly a radical idea. Goldstein, whose organization supports Omar’s plan, offers a simple basis for social housing, saying, “We think there ought to be an alternative to the corporate and for-profit system of housing.”
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.
Green Worker Cooperatives nurtures co-op startups in the South Bronx.
Mention a worker cooperative or a cooperatively owned business in casual conversation, and most people will be left scratching their heads and will need some elaboration on the concept, despite there being a 36 percent increase in the number of cooperatives operating in the United States between 2013 and 2019. In addition to their recent growth, businesses owned and operated by employees, or worker cooperatives, have a long history in the United States and beyond.
“The idea of worker cooperatives has been around for a long time in the United States and in New York City. For example, in the Bronx, there is one of the largest worker cooperatives in the country called Cooperative Home Care Associates, with about 2,000 members, and there are many [worker cooperatives] internationally that have a long history, like the Mondragon [Corporation] in Spain,” says interim director and co-op developer at Green Worker Cooperatives Danielle LeBlanc.
Green Worker Cooperatives is an environmentally focused cooperative business incubator founded in the South Bronx by social entrepreneur Omar Freilla during the economic downturn of 2008. Cooperative developers like LeBlanc and her colleagues at Green Worker Cooperatives facilitate a five-month-long workshop series called the Co-op Learning Institute. They also provide one-on-one coaching and pro bono legal assistance for nascent cooperative businesses through their partner organization TakeRoot Justice and provide access to non-extractive financing through another partner organization, the Working World.
“There is a strong need for this kind of work in New York City and outside of the city as well,” says LeBlanc. “Before the pandemic, we did the workshops in person and were constrained by the space we had. We would do two [workshops] a year and had a maximum of about 20 to 30 people who would fit in the space. After switching to virtual workshops [during the pandemic], we had more than 100 people who registered and about 75 people who committed to participate in the entire series.”
The workshop series begins with the world history of the cooperative model, which has its foundation in the seven principles of operating a cooperative business that were established in England by the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers in 1844. The series then examines the advantages that cooperative businesses have over other business models.
“This model can work for any sized business and even existing businesses where, for example, the owner wants to retire and sell [the] business to the employees, who can then transform it into a cooperative,” says LeBlanc. “The positive thing about a cooperative is that everyone has ownership and makes decisions, which is important especially now when [workplace] health and safety issues are so important. Think about the [incident in the] candle factory [in Kentucky in December 2021] where the workers were afraid to leave during a tornado [as they would have been fired]. Because the workers are owners [in a cooperative], they tend to find a balance between taking care of each other and making a profit.”
However, there are some real challenges inherent in the cooperative business model, according to LeBlanc. By definition, the owners of a cooperative business need to cooperate in order to get things done, and not everyone finds it natural to work well in a group.
“In life, we are not always used to working together to make collective decisions,” says LeBlanc. “We don’t have a lot of opportunities in life to make collective decisions, but that’s what a cooperative business is all about. You have to really think things through and learn how to deal with collective decision-making, which is why it’s one of the first topics we talk about in the… [Co-op Learning Institute]. You have to know yourself, and that can be a challenge sometimes.”
Green Worker Cooperatives has graduated a number of entrepreneurs from its institute over the years, and helped to form many cooperative businesses, such as the White Pine Community Farm, Revolutionary Seeds of Harlem, WE ARE EARTH and Solar Uptown Now Services.
“Solar Uptown Now Services was formed by a number of individuals who went through solar installation training [conducted] through a workforce development program, but couldn’t find jobs after they completed their training, so they decided to start their own solar installation company,” says LeBlanc. “They went through our [Co-op Learning Institute] program and started their own cooperative. Now they have a number of projects and are working to get their general contracting license so they can bid for work themselves.”
Green Worker Cooperatives received a grant from the New York Community Trust, which is a community foundation for the city, to work in collaboration with three doula cooperatives in New York City that graduated from the Co-op Learning Institute like the Uptown Village Cooperative. With the funds, the doula cooperatives established partnerships with local hospitals, and a mentorship and training program for future doulas. Through these doula cooperatives, more than 13,000 services have been provided to families in New York City.
“The funds allowed them [the doula cooperatives] to stay viable and move their services online during the pandemic. It also helped them to build out the doula network in the city, and it was a great success,” says LeBlanc.
Guiding entrepreneurs through the process of creating and growing a cooperative business into a viable enterprise is the most rewarding aspect of LeBlanc’s work, as the unique businesses that emerge from the Co-op Learning Institute may never have existed without the help of Green Worker Cooperatives.
“What’s the chance that some economic developer or someone from up high would come and try to start a cooperative business in Brooklyn that transforms shipping containers into community farms, or start a compost cooperative, or a doula cooperative? The people we help are so invested in their own communities, and just hearing them talk about their business is a joy as well.”
Moving forward, LeBlanc and her colleagues at Green Worker Cooperatives are looking to expand their resources. After seeing a rise in interest in their online workshops, they want to hire additional economic developers so they can offer more workshops and increase their outreach.
“Right now, we have about 75 people attending one Zoom meeting, and it would be great if we had the resources to offer classes more nights in the week or at different times of the year,” says LeBlanc. “Figuring out a way to spread the word to bring more resources to cooperative [business] building here in the city is my dream and goal.”
Aric Sleeper is an independent journalist whose work, which covers topics including labor, drug reform, food and more, has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle and other publications local to California’s Central Coast. In addition to his role as a community reporter, he has served as a government analyst and bookseller.
This article was produced by Local Peace Economy, a project of the Independent Media Institute.
The West’s actions against Russia since the war in Ukraine could signal an emerging new order that shuns the U.S. for weaponizing the dollar and Western control over the global financial system.
Do the Ukraine war and the action of the United States, the EU and the UK spell the end of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency? Even with the peace talks recently held in Turkey or the proposed 15-point peace plan, as the Financial Times had reported earlier, the fallout for the dollar still remains. For the first time, Russia, a major nuclear power and economy, was treated as a vassal state, with the United States, the EU and the UK seizing its $300 billion foreign exchange reserves. Where does this leave other countries, who also hold their foreign exchange reserves largely in dollars or euros?
The threat to the dollar hegemony is only one part of the fallout. The complex supply chains, built on the premise of a stable trading regime of the World Trade Organization principles, are also threatening to unravel. The United States is discovering that Russia is not simply a petrostate as they thought but that it also supplies many of the critical materials that the U.S. needs for several industries as well as its military. This is apart from the fact that Russia is also a major supplier of wheat and fertilizers.
Seizing Russia’s funds means that the faith in the United States as the world’s banker and in the dollar as the global reserve currency is in question. Why should countries maintain any trade surplus and bank it abroad if that surplus can be seized at will through sanctions imposed by the West? The promise of a dollar as the world’s reserve currency was that all surpluses in dollars were safe. With the seizure of the Afghan central bank’s $9.5 billion, and allocating $7 billion out of it, the United States has shown that it considers the dollar reserves of another country, held by the United States’ central bank, as its money. It may be an economic asset in the books for a country to maintain its currency reserves with the U.S. central bank. But it is effectively a political liability, as the U.S. government can seize this asset at will. The United States has earlier shown its capability of imposing sanctions against countries such as Iraq, Libya and Venezuela and seizing their assets that resulted in far-reaching negative impacts for these countries. The seizure of Russia’s foreign exchange reserves by a handful of Western countries--ex-colonial and settler-colonial states—shows that the so-called rules-based order is now based on weaponizing the dollar and the West’s control over the global financial system.
Economists--Prabhat Patnaik and Michael Hudson—and financial experts such as Zoltan Pozsar of Credit Suisse are now predicting a new regime in which another currency or some other variant system will emerge as the world’s new reserve currency. According to Pozsar, “When this crisis (and war) is over, the U.S. dollar should be much weaker and, on the flipside, the renminbi much stronger, backed by a basket of commodities.”
What has led to these predictions? After World War II, the Bretton Woods agreement led to the dollar becoming the world’s reserve currency. It replaced the British pound and was pegged to gold at a conversion value of $35 to an ounce of gold. In 1971, then-President Richard Nixon ended the Bretton Woods system and removed the “convertibility of U.S. dollars to gold,” which meant that the dollar was now backed only by the U.S. government (or U.S. Treasury) guarantees. The dollar as reserve currency had three things going for it in the postwar years: It was backed by the United States, which was the world’s largest industrial producer; the United States was the preeminent military power even if challenged by the Soviet Union; and it was backed by West Asian oil, the largest traded commodity, being priced in dollars.
The denomination of West Asian oil, particularly of Saudi Arabia, was critical to the United States and was determined by its military power. The coup in Iran against then-Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953, the 1958 coup in Iraq, and many other political events in West Asia can be understood more easily if the world understands the importance of oil for the United States. This was the basis of the Carter Doctrine, extending the Monroe Doctrine equivalent to the Persian Gulf region—and reflected the United States’ interest in the region and its lack of tolerance for interference by any outside power there. U.S. foreign policy in West Asia has been captured on bumper stickers and antiwar protest signs for decades with variations on the phrase, “Our oil is under their sand.” The United States’ control over West Asian oil combined with its industrial and military power ensured that the dollar remained as the world’s reserve currency.
The fall of the United States as the world’s industrial power has gone hand in hand with the rise of China. A measure of China’s industrial rise can be seen from a simple comparison provided by the Lowy Institute using International Monetary Fund data on global trade. In 2001, more than 80 percent of countries had the United States as their major trading partner as compared to China. By 2018, that figure had dropped to a little more than 30 percent--128 out of 190 countries “[traded] more with China than the United States.” This dramatic change has happened in fewer than 20 years. The reason for this change is industrial production: China overtook the United States in 2010 to become the largest industrial producer in the world. (India is the fifth-largest industrial producer but manufactures only 3.1 percent of the world output as against 28.7 percent of the manufacturing output produced by China and 16.8 percent produced by the United States toward the world’s industrial production.) It is not surprising that world trading patterns follow industrial production.
Two recent events are important in this context. China and the Eurasian Economic Union consisting of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus and Armenia seem to be moving toward a new international and monetary system. India and Russia also seem to be working out a rupee-ruble exchange based on India’s need to import Russian arms, fertilizer and oil. India had already created a similar system earlier for buying Iranian oil in rupees. This might also give a fillip to increasing India’s exports to Russia. Saudi Arabia has recently indicated that it might also designate its oil sales to China in yuan and not dollars. If this happens, this would be the first time since 1974 that Saudi Arabia would sell any oil in a currency other than the dollar. This would give an immediate fillip to the yuan, as more than 25 percent of all of Saudi Arabia’s oil is sold to China.
The United States dominates the services, intellectual property (IP) and information technology (IT) markets. But the markets for physical goods, unlike for services such as IP and IT, are based on a complex model of supplies and, therefore, have complex global supply chains. If the Western economic war means taking out Russia’s supplies from the global market, many supply chains are in danger of unraveling. I have already written about the energy war and how the European Union depends on gas piped from Russia to Europe. But many other commodities are critical for those sanctioning Russia and those who may now find it difficult to trade with Russia due to the West’s sanctions.
Strangely enough, one of the key elements in the supply chain for manufacturing chips depends on Russia. Russia is a major supplier of sapphire substrates (using artificial sapphires) that go into the manufacturing of semiconductor chips. The other critical item for chip makers is neon, of which the two major suppliers are located in the southern Ukraine cities of Mariupol and Odessa. They together produce “between 45 percent and 54 percent” of the global neon supply.
I have already highlighted earlier the danger posed to the EU’s climate change plans as a result of the Ukraine-Russia conflict, which could also jeopardize its plan to shift to gas as a bridge fuel. Using batteries as the key storage element in the renewable energy route also has a substantial Russian weakness. Nickel is critical for electric batteries, and Russia is the third-largest supplier of nickel in the world. With the United States and the EU imposing sanctions on Russia, this may lead to China, already emerging as the world’s largest battery supplier, rising to an even more dominant position in the world battery market.
The other supply chain issues that could come up as a result of the Russia-Ukraine war involve palladium, platinum, titanium and rare earth elements. All of these minerals are required by advanced industries and are likely to be caught up in supply chain bottlenecks worldwide. They are also on the list of 50 strategic minerals that the United States needs since they are critical to its security. A look back at how the global supply chains seized up during COVID-19 should provide the world with a sense of what the coming crisis could look like and why it could be a lot worse than what was witnessed during the pandemic. Sanctions are easy to impose, much harder to lift. And even after the lifting of sanctions, the supply chain will not come together seamlessly as it did before. Remember, these global supply chains have been incrementally configured over decades. Undoing them using the wrecking ball of sanctions is easy; redoing them is a lot harder.
The food supplies to the world will be hit even harder. Russia, Ukraine and Belarus produce a significant amount of fertilizers needed by farmers everywhere. Russia and Ukraine are among the biggest exporters of wheat. If Russian wheat is sanctioned and Ukraine’s harvest is hit due to war, the world will not find it easy to thwart a severe food shortage.
There is no question that the world is on the cusp of a major economic change. This turning point will either lead to the complete destruction of the Russian economy, even if Russia achieves a quick peace with Ukraine and there is no NATO-Russia war. Or it will reconfigure a new economic order that has been in the offing: a world order with cooperative solutions instead of military and economic wars for resolution.
Prabir Purkayastha is the founding editor of Newsclick.in, a digital media platform. He is an activist for science and the free software movement.
Labor and Workers’ Rights Are at the Heart of Chile’s New Constitutional Convention. By: Taroa Zúñiga SilvaRead Now
Even the workers in the Constitutional Convention process are themselves organizing a union.
On March 13, 2022, two days after Gabriel Boric was sworn in as the president of Chile, Minister General Secretariat of Government Camila Vallejo told 24 Horas during an interview that her duty is “to accompany and support the constitutional process,” when asked about the government’s priorities during 2022. These two processes—the formation of Boric’s government and the writing of a new constitution—run parallel to one another and are important to the shaping of a “new Chile.”
Both these processes have emerged out of a long period of mobilization by the Chilean people, who first put an end to the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, which lasted from 1973 to 1990, through the 1989 plebiscite and then fought in a cycle of protests—particularly during the student mobilization movements of 2006, 2011 and 2015 and the “social outburst” of 2019—to throw out the 1980 constitution introduced by Pinochet and end the status quo supported by the right-wing governments that followed the end of Pinochet’s dictatorship.
Chile has paid a high price during the Pinochet dictatorship and in the decades since then as the Chilean people fought for democracy in their country. In recent years, the repression against the demonstrators has been brutal. Vallejo acknowledged this during the interview with 24 Horas, saying, “there are many people who were left behind” in the process of ensuring democracy and a new constitution for Chile. “There are many people who lost their eyes, who were mutilated, who were victims of aggressions of different kinds, who died for this constitutional process… [and] then obviously we put our strength and our energy into winning the approval in the exit plebiscite [of 2020, and] we can say that from now on, we will have a constitution, [the writing of] which we will all participate in [equally]."
Building the Constitution
Chile voted on May 15 and 16, 2021, to elect the 155 members of the Constitutional Convention tasked with drafting the new constitution for the country. The convention began its work on July 4, 2021. Many of the members created volunteer networks to assist them in holding meetings and gathering input and feedback from citizens in their constituencies. Only around 50 of the Constitutional Convention members belong to political parties; the rest are independent members, a clear sign of the impact the popular movements have had on the constitutional process. Currently, following the resignation of one of its members, the convention has 154 members, 77 men and 77 women.
Úrsula Eggers is the president of the Plurinational Union of Workers of the Constitutional Convention, which was formed on November 4, 2021, and of the Providencia Human Rights Coordinating Committee. She knows about the violence against the demonstrators who fought for democratic reform in Chile because she participated in the 2019 demonstrations as a human rights observer. As part of her work, Eggers documented the human rights violations and then participated in the defense of the victims of police violence. “We know the cost that this [constitutional] process has had [for the people of Chile],” she tells me. She is not alone. There are 370 people who have been employed as advisers to the Constitutional Convention delegates. Many of those who work in the convention have formed or are part of various social movements, which for decades have been fighting for several causes in Chile, such as the water defense, housing and education, as well as unrestricted respect for human rights. These convention workers are sensitive to the violence inflicted by the state over the years against what they see as just demands.
Bringing their experience of social movements, the various workers in the Constitutional Convention who work for the delegates decided to form a union—the Plurinational Union of Workers of the Constitutional Convention. They accept Vallejo’s statement that the constitution must be written “with the participation of all.” The members of this plurinational union include the 370 advisers who are employed by a government ministry known as the General Secretariat of the Presidency (SEGPRES), and other members of the workforce employed by the convention, such as cleaners, security personnel, secretaries and volunteer workers, especially from the universities. The advisers, Eggers says, do work beyond what one might assume. “We do all the necessary administrative work, but also [do] research, writing, photocopying and buying food,” she says. “[We do] everything necessary, on a daily basis, to move the convention forward [toward achieving its goal]. We are the human resource that makes the convention work… the convention members play a political role, and it is good that this is so, but we are the ones who write the rules that are now being voted on, and we write them at 2 a.m., 3 a.m., or 4 a.m., with meetings [taking place] from 8 in the morning to 8 at night.”
The work is intense because the convention is working on a tight deadline, to finish writing the constitution in nine months (with the possibility of getting a maximum extension of up to 12 months). This has resulted in an increase in the workload for the workers, who have been putting in extra hours beyond their daily work schedule to meet the huge demand put forth by this deadline.
“What we hope for the new Chile,” Eggers tells me, “is [that it is a place] where a range of people are valued, where [a person can be] valued for their capacity and their experience, without the need for a professional degree.” The conservative sections wanted to “professionalize” the work of the advisers, setting requirements such as years of professional experience and university degrees. However, the views of workers such as Eggers finally prevailed. “We do not belong to the social sector that has large additional resources or a lot of savings or a large network to borrow from,” Eggers says. “Nor do we belong to the political sector that has large foundations behind it,” adds Eggers.
Of the 50 members of the Constitutional Convention who belong to political parties, 37 belong to right-wing parties that have their own think tanks, such as the Jaime Guzmán Foundation or the Cuide Chile Foundation, which are institutions that have defended the Pinochet dictatorship and have recently complained about being “censored” during the constitutional process. The progressive convention members, meanwhile, have staff who come from social movements and do not have access to outside money. “We do not identify ourselves as advisers but as workers, because we are working class,” Eggers tells me. The larger class struggle in Chile is mirrored in the struggle for better working conditions for the workers within the Constitutional Convention.
A Plurinational Union
The plurinational union was formed on November 4, 2021, because of “the multiple violations of labor rights such as the non-existence of contracts, unpaid salaries… the lack of spaces to work and eat, working hours from Monday to Sunday [for] 12 hours [a day] or more,” according to their press release. It is telling that the union members all come from the left and from popular movements. “Not because we have excluded the right,” says Eggers, the union president, “but because they usually solve their problems on their own.”
While “dignity” seems to be a word used frequently in the Constitutional Convention debates, some of the rights of its workers seem to have been overlooked during the constitutional process. “As we write the future social agreement for the country,” Eggers tells me, “we cannot do it by violating the rights of the workers.” For the first four months of their work, the advisers and other staff were not being paid. “We had to raise our voices,” Eggers says, “because we were not being valued.”
The union has managed to regularize the salaries of 93 percent of the workers, which was its first objective. Other issues, so central to the convention debates about safeguarding the interests of the wider society, seem to have been neglected when it comes to affording the same protection to their own workers. These include the provision of day care facilities for the workers and finding a place for the advisers to do their work. SEGPRES, the state agency responsible for “providing technical, administrative and financial support for the convention,” is now headed by Giorgio Jackson, a former student leader. This could mean a change.
When I spoke with Eggers about how it seemed unlikely that the workers will be successful in shortening the long working hours considering how tight the 12-month deadline to complete the new constitution is, I expressed doubt that there was any way out of the problem at this point. “With collective organization, there is always a way out,” she tells me. “At least we are not going to keep quiet.”
Taroa Zúñiga Silva is a writing fellow and the Spanish media coordinator for Globetrotter. She is the co-editor with Giordana García Sojo of Venezuela, Vórtice de la Guerra del Siglo XXI (2020) and is a member of the Secretaría de Mujeres Inmigrantes en Chile. She also is a member of the Mecha Cooperativa, a project of the Ejército Comunicacional de Liberación.
Bronx Apartment Fire
On a brisk Sunday morning in New York City, a low-income housing building in the heart of the Bronx was soon engulfed by smoke and flames causing, on what was originally an average Sunday morning, a tragic fire that soon became the worst in the city’s recent history. Smoke filled the halls of the 19-story building, carrying up like a chimney of death. On the surface, it seems like a freak accident caused by a faulty space heater, but on further investigation, the reality is much more nefarious. Can we really call this tragedy an accident in a city whose politicians cover up landlord neglect of building conditions? Where politicians take real estate money for campaigns , and put developers in charge of city urban planning committees ? Are these all accidents too? The reality is, under the dictatorship of the wealthy whose boot all in the United States live under, the facade of democracy and equity quickly fades to dust when you examine the depth of capital’s reach into every facet that determines the lives of New York City’s working and poor.
We can take the case of the low-income housing building in Tremont which caught on fire on January 9th as the prime example of how New York’s working and poor are left to pick up the pieces of their lives when the city fails to protect them. NYC Housing and Preservation Development (HPD) records  show that as recently as December 8th, nearly a month prior, tenants made multiple complaints of lack of suitable heat. According to the fire department, the cause of the fire of the Bronx building was a faulty space heater, often used when there is insufficient heat in the apartment to keep from freezing. NYC’s new Mayor Eric Adams lamented the fire could have been prevented from swallowing the building whole had the tenants, running out for their lives, remembered to close their apartment door, attempting to shift the blame on these workers . But according to NYC law §27-2041.1, the responsibility to install and maintain self-closing doors is on property owners, not tenants. Failure to do so is a C class violation, the most urgent tier, which once again was reported against this building’s management company which failed to fix the violations in accordance with city law. This evidence suggests that had the owners of the building followed the law, the building fire would have been totally preventable, as well as the fire’s spreading to other apartments. The fire took the lives of 17 people, 8 of whom were young children, and their lives were treated as mere casualties in the pursuit of profits for landlords, politicians, and developers.
To protect themselves from litigation, landlords often open Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs) and transfer their building’s deed to this company. This is with the aim to keep tenants and housing advocates in the dark, hiding behind company walls to avoid accountability. Such is the case of this Tremont building whose owner is listed as the joint venture Bronx Park Phase III Preservation, LLC. Thanks to the work of Justfix, NYC, through their Who Owns What tool we are able to access a compiled portfolio pulling from several NYC clerical databases to determine not only who owns the buildings, but the agents behind each company, the other buildings they own in the city, housing code violations, litigation and eviction history, and much more. Through this, it was discovered that the owner of Bronx Park Phase III Preservation, LLC is Crain’s New York Forty Under Forty Rick Gropper , who also conveniently sits on Mayor Eric Adam’s transition advice team on housing . A city notoriously known for its exorbitant rent prices and crippling homelessness crisis can rest assured that its new mayor will be getting the best advice on housing for the future of NYC’s working people. After all, who knows the poor better than a millionaire real estate developer?
But the fatal affairs in the Bronx are not an isolated event of an attack on the working via housing. The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic under the boot of U.S. capitalism has left thousands of households with the threat of eviction looming over their heads. Tenants and homeowners alike suffer through anxieties between both the possibility of losing their homes and of lifelong debt, taking a blow to their credit which will make it all the more difficult to find future housing. What a catch 22; can’t pay rent? You get evicted. You get evicted? Now you’re on the tenant blacklist. You’re homeless? Well, that’s your failure as a person.
Throughout the pandemic, Black and brown working-class neighborhoods all over the city were especially devastated as the virus turned NYC into the world’s COVID epicenter. As Friedrich Engels writes, “Modern natural science has proved that the so-called ‘poor districts’ in which the workers are crowded together are the breeding places of all those epidemics which from time to time afflict our towns.”  Many wondered why New York City became the world’s fastest breeding ground for the virus, some even suggesting that the city people were inherently unhygienic. According to the NYC Comptroller’s report  released in 2015, between 2005 to 2013 the city’s overcrowding rate in rentals and private houses increased by 15.8%, well over the national average. The severely overcrowded housing rate jumped even more egregious by 44.8%, accounting for 3.3% of homes in the city. Let us be clear, there is more than enough space for NYC residents to live comfortably. In keeping NYC rental costs high, landlords must create a false sense of scarcity. While many left the city returning to their hometowns when the pandemic hit, landlords refused to re-rent those vacant apartments to keep housing prices from driving downwards . In Manhattan alone, one in ten apartments is vacant , with some landlord advocates even suggesting there are 245,000 more unfilled units being ignored by the city to uphold rent stabilization laws .
The areas suffering with overcrowded conditions were once again the same working-class neighborhoods that were being decimated by the spread of the virus, primarily in the outer boroughs of the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens. As these workers lost their jobs and succumbed to fighting for their health, the burden of rent never ceased to fall upon them. New York State’s officials answered not with suspending rent, not with sending rental subsidies or payments, but by only temporarily pausing eviction cases in court. That was their answer: a pathetic pause of vicious attacks on humanity with no material help, one that enabled thousands all over the state to accrue an unimaginable debt. And worse for the city’s immigrant population ineligible for benefits, 37% of New Yorkers, a deafening silence.
Tenants’ Rights organizers and activists had been prompt since the very beginning of the pandemic urging city and state officials to cancel rent and forgive the debt. The Housing Justice for All Coalition had created a Cancel the Rent bill, which proposed a program with funding from the Federal CARES Act that would shift the burden of rent from tenants to landlords. The Cancel the Rent bill would have forgiven tenants of their rental burdens during the COVID period (considered March 2020 – Jan. 15, 2022) and instead created a grant assistance program for landlords to apply for. To apply, landlords would have had to provide evidence that they faced hardship from loss of rent to maintain their buildings, pay mortgages, taxes, and utilities and apply for an amount grant totaling their losses without profit. What does this mean, “without profit”? The components of rent that a tenant must pay include partial building/house maintenance, utilities, taxes, prospective amount for repairs, and profit for the landlord. For example, my landlord bought the building I live in for $52,500 in the 80s wholesale, no mortgage. However, he makes $201,600 a year in rent from just my apartment building alone, and he owns another four. According to the NYC Department of Finance, he pays $12,120 in property taxes a year for my building. Additionally, he puts out another $6,240/yr. for water and heat, costing him in total about $18,360 to maintain the building and our living conditions. The remaining roughly $183,240 is profit for my landlord, profit that he would not be able to recuperate under the Cancel the Rent bills, profit he earns off the back of his working tenants for simply owning our homes. So, it sounds like a sensible bill, right? Landlords still get assistance for their needs up to hardship without profit, tenants are eased with burdens and can then continue to work and pay ongoing rent with ease. In short, everybody gets the help they desperately need. Except there is one catch: real estate owns New York and New York politicians, and they want to profit from us. This is after all the point of capitalism. So, with the ease of cutting butter, the Cancel the Rent bill was killed. Instead, the state unveiled their shiny new $2.7 billion program called the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) that tenants will have to apply for which covers up to 1-year rent owed, with profit. Alas, the burden remains on working families. But in a city where the average rent is $3,955, $2.7 billion of taxpayer money can go by as fast as snapping your fingers, leaving you wondering if anyone even saw where the money went.
According to the ERAP reports published on NYS’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) , there were 296,511 applications statewide, with 76% of them being from New York City. As of January 18th, 2022, 36% of applications have been approved and payments to landlords have already been made. Another 52,889 applications remain approved with reserved but unpaid funding. Now, with no funding left in the ERAP program, the remaining 46% of household applicants fall in limbo with little hope for assistance foreseen. Sadly, the state has not released any reports on how many landlords were paid out by the Landlord Rental Assistance Program (LRAP), a program designed to assist landlords whose tenants moved out or refused to apply for ERAP yet left owing rent. And there went the $2.7 billion of taxpayer money, flushed away to subsidize landlord profits while 135,380 households fell through the cracks and into housing court.
But even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, in the financial epicenter, the heart of U.S. capitalism, 91,271 had been experiencing long-term homelessness on any given day, as reported by Continuums of Care to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) . As public school data reported to the U.S. Department of Education during the 2018-2019 NYS school years shows, an estimated 148,485 public school students experienced homelessness at different points of the year. Of that total, 5,460 students were unsheltered, and 40,822 were in shelters . This is all in the same state with a city declared as the home of the world’s wealthiest people .
Now that the eviction moratorium has expired, many are left wondering what are the next steps in the housing crisis in NYC. The future is what we make of it, and history has shown that despite the gravity of attacks on them, tenants have not sat idly by while the landlord class waged their war against them. No, throughout history proletarians, united in a struggle for their livelihood, have lashed out back at their oppressors. Such is the sentiment recalling the East Side Strike of 1904, NYC’s first known rent strike. Led by working-class Jewish and Eastern European migrant women, the rent strike was kicked off when 20,000 homes were displaced due to the construction of the Williamsburg Bridge. In their true parasitic nature, landlords sought to maximize profits by increasing rents 20-30% since there was a new housing shortage. This is as Engels predicted, writing, “the house owner in his capacity as capitalist has not only the right but, in view of the competition, to a certain extent also the duty of ruthlessly making as much out of his property in house rent as he possibly can. In such a society the housing shortage is no accident.” In response to these attacks, the women organized and conducted pickets and marches in front of the buildings of landlords who were increasing the rent. Some stories state that women beat up management agents as well. The landlords succumbed and rolled back their increases when the tenants withheld their rent. Some tenants were even able to win decreases and longer leases.
Throughout the Great Depression, the Communist Party USA was at the forefront of the housing struggle when nobody else was. The Communist Party organized seven mass rent strikes in 1931 and 1932 demanding that owners reduce rent in light of the mass unemployment rates . When evictions were ordered, the Communists fought back with Unemployed People’s Councils who would break into the evicted apartments, moving the tenants back into their old homes, or sometimes preventing marshals from conducting eviction processes altogether. Because of how expensive the Communists were making evictions for landlords, they were able to work out a deal in favor of the tenant remaining in the home . All over the city, the Unemployed People’s Councils were on fire invigorating the fed-up tenants. In 1933, 200 buildings in the Bronx alone went on rent strike demanding 15% rent decreases, for repairs, and for recognition of their Tenants Associations. Police were called in often for mass evictions against these striking tenants, and in one instance 4,000 tenants fought back and attacked the police. The 1934 Harlem Rent Strike led by the Black working class birthed one of New York’s largest tenant organizations, the Consolidated Tenant’s League.
In 1943, the city and the MetLife insurance company together constructed Stuyvesant Town on the southeastern end of Manhattan, intended to be a private middle-class village. But in its construction thousands of families were displaced, and instead of being rehoused in the new apartments, they were exiled by the whites-only policy. In retort, white communists would apply for housing and move in Black families while Black veterans sued MetLife and the city on the basis of racial discrimination in publicly subsidized housing. The struggle brought about the 1958 Brown-Isaacs law which bans discrimination in all publicly funded housing – a small reform, but nonetheless only possible through worker solidarity.
The tenant organizers of this time fought valiantly and won us tenants many of the rights we do have today. In return, they were met with state repression and targeted as reds, and soon enough the capitalist class regained its power and attacked the tenants back through redlining and infiltration of organizations. But to know where we are going, we must learn from where we have been.
So what is our answer? What is left for us to fight for, to do? On the question of housing, Engels wrote of the bourgeoisie, “As long as the capitalist mode of production continues to exist, it is folly to hope for an isolated solution of the housing question or of any other social question affecting the fate of the workers. The solution lies in the abolition of the capitalist mode of production and the appropriation of all the means of life and labor by the working class itself.” The crisis of housing under the dictatorship of capital is a necessary component of its existence. As long as we are under the rule of the capitalist class, the landlord class, we will find ourselves in the hamster wheel, gasping for air with no end in sight. In fact, there is no need for the parasitic class to exist at all. When removing the debilitating price of profit, housing is already affordable, as is the case in Venezuela, Cuba, and the former Soviet Union. A better world is possible when, as Karl Marx wrote, “The proletarian can free himself only by abolishing private property in general”. The necessity for housing for humans is as vital as water, as air. Without any sense of sanctuary, our health physically and mentally deteriorates. The ruling class is now short-sighted, looking over only at the shiny profits that lay ahead, forgetting we will bury them in the pits of debt they’ve dug for us.
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Kayla Popuchet is a Peruvian-American CUNY student studying Latin American and Eastern European History, analyzing these region's histories under a scientific socialist lens. She works as a NYC Housing Rights and Tenants Advocate, helping New York's most marginalized evade eviction. Kayla is also a member of the Party of Communists USA and the Progressive Center for a Pan-American Project.
This article was republished from Red Patriot.
Why the U.S. Culture of Colonial Extraction Is Making People Sick and Destroying the Planet. By: April M. ShortRead Now
Rupa Marya, a physician and musician, studies how social structures impact health. She says colonial capitalism fractures the critical relationships that keep us healthy.
A widespread culture of isolation and disconnection from our bodies, each other and the planet is negatively impacting the mental and physical health of people in America and beyond—and this was true long before the pandemic. Our relatively new human social structure that is work-obsessed and separated from nature and each other leaves us scant time to connect and relate to each other, and is not aligned with our natural rhythms. This way of living has grave impacts on people’s overall health, as well as the health of the planet.
Research professor and author Brené Brown wrote about a “crisis of disconnection” in the U.S., in a 2017 article in Fast Company. That same year, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who also held this position under the Obama administration, referred to the problem of loneliness as an “epidemic.” In a 2021 article, psychotherapist Colette Shade detailed the isolating effects of the life structures of capitalism, and researchers have been tracking the health impacts of isolation for decades. Recent studies have found that the health effects of loneliness rival obesity and smoking.
Loneliness is a symptom of our greater culture of disconnect, and toxic American individualism. And, as with many problems (like food and housing insecurity), the pandemic has exacerbated the preexisting issues of disconnect in our society.
The edges of culture, science and medicine are circling back to the roots to prove the overarching understandings Indigenous societies have long held about human health: the mind and the body do not function separately, and humans do not function separately from the planet. All are interconnected, and our overall well-being depends on this connection.
The impacts of the global climate crisis on our mental and physical health, and on planetary health, are a reflection of how intricately connected our personal wellness is with the wellness of the planet. Psychotherapists are overwhelmed with patients experiencing eco-anxiety relating to ecological collapse, fears due to extreme weather and planetary grief. Even the COVID-19 pandemic likely stems from human destruction of wild spaces and a loss of biodiversity, driven by unchecked capitalism. As detailed in a Nature article in 2020, deforestation, rapidly dwindling biodiversity and decline in wildlife increase the risk of disease pandemics such as COVID-19.
Rupa Marya, MD, an associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), whose research investigates the intersections of social structures and illness, says these issues of disconnect stem from the culture of colonialism. Indigenous knowledge and understandings of ourselves as part of the web of life have been co-opted by social structures built on domination, extraction and destruction of nature for profit, she says.
With New York Times bestselling author Raj Patel, Marya coauthored a new book, Inflamed: Deep Medicine and the Anatomy of Injustice, published in 2021 through Macmillan. The book explores connections between health and structural injustices prevalent in society. Inflamed also delves into the idea of “deep medicine,” which Marya says is a way of “…understanding how social structures are making us sick and working to redesign those structures—as opposed to shallow medicine, which is to always point at the cause and the locus of suffering inside one person or one individual.”
Marya says that the book was an opportunity for her and coauthor Raj Patel “to bring our minds together around food systems and land use, medicine and biology, and histories and cosmologies. Both of us work very closely with many different communities,” she says, and “those communities really informed the story that we told, which is that our bodies, our societies and our planet are being damaged through the same cosmology that has severed our relationships with each other and to the web of life that keeps us healthy.”
Marya is also the faculty director of the Do No Harm Coalition, “a group of more than 450 UCSF health workers and students dedicated to ending racism and state violence,” and her work has explored how social factors like racism and misogyny can predispose various groups to medical conditions. She serves on the board of directors at the Mni Wiconi Clinic and Farm at Standing Rock, situated at the South Dakota-North Dakota border, and works with health leaders from the Lakota and Dakota Indigenous tribes to create a space to practice decolonized medicine. Marya also serves on the board of Seeding Sovereignty, an international entity promoting Indigenous autonomy in the context of climate change.
In addition to her work in health care, Marya is a world-touring musician—the composer and frontwoman of the Oakland, California-based group Rupa and the April Fishes. She says that traveling the world for decades and getting to know various cultures through the lens of music have broadened her understanding of health and society. She has come to realize that healing is not about fixing one problem or another, but requires a more holistic approach of re-engaging with our bodies and each other, within the context of nature.
Her primary focus now is on the work she does with the Deep Medicine Circle, a women of color-led, worker-directed 501(c)(3) nonprofit focused on decolonizing farming and restoring relationships with nature through food. The Deep Medicine Circle is “a collective of farmers, physicians, healers, herbalists, lawyers, ecological designers, scholars, political ecologists, educators, storytellers and artists” in the San Francisco Bay Area. The collective is “dedicated to repairing critical relationships that have been fractured through colonialism,” as stated on the website, and formed around an understanding “of climate change as the end-stage of colonial capitalist destruction.”
April M. Short of the Independent Media Institute spoke with Marya about Deep Medicine Circle, the book Inflamed, her research and how healing our relationships with food, community and the planet can heal our bodies and minds.
April M. Short: How has touring the world as a professional musician influenced your outlooks on health care and overall wellness in society?
Rupa Marya: It’s everything. I’ve always worked in medicine, and right now I work as an associate professor of medicine at UCSF, but I’ve always made sure to work in the medical environment no more than 60 percent of my time. I used to call myself the best-paid musician and the worst-paid doctor in San Francisco. The rest of my time, especially before I had children, I would tour with the band, and we would play these big concerts and festivals around the world.… For me, music has always been a form of social investigation, a way to look at, learn from and interact with different cultures around the world. It’s a way to learn about how people are engaging in what Raj Patel and I call “deep medicine.”
Deep medicine really shows how we’re interrelated and how our health cannot be viewed through the lens of individuality, but must be understood as a system level-phenomenon that emerges when systems are interacting well together. This does not just refer to body systems, but social systems and ecological systems. The ways in which history and lines of power and dynamics interact with those [social and ecological] systems will shape a positive outcome or a terrible one. And what we’re living with after 600 years of colonial capitalism around the world is the suffering health of our bodies, our societies and our planet.
The band allowed me to see these things clearly, in ways that I couldn’t see by just being a doctor in a hospital. Being a doctor in a hospital, you’re on the bleeding edge of society. You see who’s getting sick, how people are getting sick and where the sickness is registering in the bodies. You see children of farmworkers from the Central Valley coming [into the hospital] with really bizarre cancers—young people getting sick, increasingly every year. You see that people are coming in with more advanced colon cancers, are younger every year, and are dying from them. You start to see these patterns over the years. But when you travel with music, people mix you into their homes. It’s a very different dynamic from if I were to show up with a stethoscope and a clipboard.
Doctors, historically, have also been part of that same legacy of colonial violence. Lands around the world were colonized by missionaries, medics and militaries, and the work of colonial medicine wasn’t really to keep those communities that were being conquered healthy. It was to keep the conquerors healthy enough to do the job of conquest, and to extract the wealth and the resources, subjugate the labor and steal the land. When we understand that, we understand the way in which we’re trained as doctors to see, understand and learn about patterns of diseases. What you see from that perspective on health is going to be very different from what you see if you go with an artist, or an engaged community member, and meet with people eye to eye as fellow humans, engaged in this desire to see a better world, not only for ourselves, but for our children and our great-grandchildren.
Touring 29 different countries over many years, going to different communities, I started to notice the emergence of patterns around who’s getting sick and how people are getting sick. That experience really led to the work that Raj [Patel] and I did in our book Inflamed, which looks at how history and power and all these exposures to worlds designed through colonial capitalism are making us sick.
AMS: Would you share a little on your book—how it came about and how you came to the conclusions inside it?
RM: The book came about because of these insights I had while traveling with my band. I would start to notice all these different groups who were marginalized or socially oppressed—or from communities that had been colonized through Western colonization—and were suffering. People in different places were suffering in very similar ways. I started to call it a “colonized syndrome.” That was 17 or 18 years ago, and now we know that all of those diseases that I was seeing, from autoimmune disease to inflammatory bowel disease to cardiovascular disease to cancer to Alzheimer’s to substance use disorders to depression and suicide—these are all diseases that include chronic inflammation as part of their origination.
I was giving a talk at UT Austin on Standing Rock and my work there, when I was invited out there to do a medic response in the face of increasing law enforcement violence toward the pipeline resistors [at Standing Rock], the Water Protectors. I also was doing work in the naming of racist police violence as a public health threat. Raj Patel, my great friend for many years, found me and invited me to write a book with him. It was such a great honor to bring our minds together around food systems and land use, medicine and biology, and histories and cosmologies.
Both of us work very closely with many different communities. Those communities really informed the story that we told, which is that our bodies, our societies and our planet are being damaged through the same cosmology that has severed our relationships with each other and to the web of life that keeps us healthy.
How can we resist those cosmologies and insist upon ones that are from our own traditions and from the traditions of the people whose land we occupy here in Turtle Island? Many of the Indigenous communities are working to reawaken their own remembering about those systems of knowledge and ways of living that were purposefully subverted and silenced through colonialism.
What we saw and cover in our book is that colonialism, and colonial capitalism specifically, is truly a system that has caused fractures and damages to critical relationships that keep us healthy, in the express interest of concentrating wealth in increasingly fewer hands, and extracting and exploiting the land and the people. To heal from that, we must repair those relationships and repair those ways of knowing that have been purposely silenced, which means bringing back languages, bringing back songs, bringing back ceremonies and bringing back cosmologies that actually allowed humans to live well together on land.
AMS: Would you share about Deep Medicine Circle (DMC) and the work you’re doing there?
RM: As Raj [Patel] and I were finishing up the book, and I was watching people get really sick from COVID, I felt like I couldn’t continue working in the same way, understanding now what I did about health—after reading thousands of papers, stories and accounts, and piecing them together in the way that we have [in the book]. I ended up creating Deep Medicine Circle with several close friends, and then bringing in a team of people who could help bring this work forward.
Our work through the Deep Medicine Circle is to heal the wounds of colonialism, specifically through food medicine, restoration, stories and learning. And the learning is an unlearning. We got ourselves started [in 2021] and we are in full-running mode, because it’s time.
Our farming as medicine work was the cornerstone of DMC’s first year, which is really reframing what farming is. Farming has been a very damaging practice, as practiced through a Western lens, and through extractive lenses. We are advancing systems of Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge and agroecology together, to heal not only the people but also the Earth.
That work has four components. The first one is giving land back to Indigenous people and asserting their sovereignty in their own homeland, and partnering with them to generate food for the people.
The second part is to assert that farmers are the stewards of our health, both in terms of how they steward the soil (which is the ecological engine of life) and water, and how they grow nutrient-dense food. We need to pay our farmers like we pay our doctors and lawyers.
The third part is decommodifying food. All the food we grow is liberated from the market system and given to the people who need that kind of food the most. For example, right now, organic, healthy food that won’t shatter your gut microbiome but will instead nurture it is only available to people who are wealthy. And those people tend to be predominantly white and South Asian in this [American] society.
The last thing we do is insist upon reawakening the way in which food and medicine have been co-extensive throughout our history. All people have food as medicine. It’s storied, it’s relational, it’s deep. It’s not just simply, “Oh, I have diabetes, let me eat this red carrot.” It’s not a prescription. It’s not a pharmaceutical intervention. It’s a real awakening of our relationships to these beautiful beings [plants] that have accompanied humanity for hundreds of thousands of years now.
We are on a 38-acre farm in Ramaytush Ohlone territory [in the San Francisco Bay Area]. We are working to move that land back to a Ramaytush Ohlone Indigenous land trust that’s also women-run, and that work is part of the medicine circle now. It’s called the Land Back Solidarity Program, and it’s run by our operations director, Hasmik Geghamyan, who also happens to be a lawyer who just wants to give land back. She’s been helping several California groups get their land back, and she wanted to internalize that into DMC and make it a core part of our work. She is helping to set up the land trust.
Land back efforts aren’t just reparations for what has happened here in California with the genocide of the Indigenous people, but it is also about how we get back into better ecological balance. We know that Indigenous groups who steward land around the world do better than private or public entities in nurturing biodiversity. That is because of their cosmologies, their relation and their moralities around the personhood of all entities that support life. So, the understanding that the water is a person, the soil is a person, the rocks are people, the animals are people.
The work of dismantling our care for one another came through the colonial capitalist cosmology of separation. When you think of the intellectual tools that were needed to justify murdering everybody and taking their land… that mentality required that those people didn’t have personhood, that they weren’t actually real people, or they weren’t sentient beings. Some of them were “three-fifths” of a human being legally, here in the United States. The violence that has been done to people of color around the world came with a set of intellectual tools employed by colonizers that have permeated every aspect of every social structure that has been made ever since.
So when we say “land back,” we’re saying: let’s bring that other system of cosmologies and understandings and relationships back into our consciousness as settlers, because we know that that will give us different outcomes. When we are honoring each other, honoring the water, honoring the soil, honoring the web of life and understanding how we are a part of all of it, then we get different outcomes, even as guests on somebody else’s land.
That work also then resituates the power dynamic of the farmers and the workers who are settlers, so that we are working under the Indigenous people of the land and working together with them. We are working with the understanding that their sovereignty is critical in the work that we’re doing. It has to start there, because the soil is alive. If we understand that the soil is made of the bodies and the beings that have been here for tens of thousands of years, which includes the Indigenous people, we understand that the soil knows what happened here. The soil is missing the language and the songs and the way in which it was honored. That is part of the musical work that we are doing. This is where being an artist is actually really critical, because what we’re doing isn’t simply looking at data points; it’s reawakening our relationships. Those relationships, to me, are very musical.
AMS: Could you expand a little on how the Indigenous way of relationship between humans and the Earth can extend to address the wider issues of societal health and the climate crisis?
RM: If we moved all the land back to Indigenous people and they could assert their sovereignty over all the land, just in the United States, we would probably have much more rapid action on climate change than we have right now. We definitely would. Indigenous grandmothers running pipeline resistance have cut greenhouse gases by 25 percent—which is way more than anything that any policy that has come out of the United States or Canada.
This is not to say that there are not problematic dynamics among different Indigenous groups or with specific people, but it’s to understand the systems of knowledge, which are primarily carried by women. This is why the work of rematriation is so important, which is reasserting the women’s places of authority in tending land, tending food, tending soil, tending water and caring for these things. Because these entities are critical for everybody’s health. When we tend to do something that’s good for everybody, good health emerges as a phenomenon. It is an emergent phenomenon. It’s not a characteristic of one person or one thing. It’s an emergent property of systems working well together. We know that especially in this land, it’s the Indigenous women who are really carrying that work forward.
AMS: You mentioned that DMC started last year in 2021. How did the pandemic affect or intersect with the beginnings of the work you’re doing there?
RM: For probably eight or nine years, these ideas have been sitting in me as something I knew we should do… and then with the pandemic it was like, “We need to do this right now. We absolutely need to do this.”
Sixty-seven percent of people who were coming into the ICU with severe COVID were malnourished when they hit the door. When we look at the injustices of who’s getting sick and how people are getting sick, we know that it’s Black and brown people. We know that it’s people who are suffering under the brunt of social oppression from colonial structures.
How can we create spaces where those structures are dissolved, dismantled and rearranged? That’s the work that we are doing with the Deep Medicine Circle.
AMS: I am curious to hear a little bit about your work as a co-investigator on the Justice Study, looking at the links between police violence and health outcomes, especially in Black and brown and Indigenous communities, as well as your other medical research looking into how social structures influence health.
RM: Well, first, racist police violence is an urgent public health crisis. When there is no justice for that violence, the community’s health suffers exponentially. That wasn’t a surprise. The surprise for me was that everyone is being traumatized by racist police violence. Whether you’re white, Black, brown or Asian, everyone was experiencing trauma through seeing these videos of state execution happening in the streets. It amounts to extrajudicial execution.
The police are causing widespread trauma. When you look at that, you think—what is a society that has chosen to prioritize private property? Say someone was stealing a car, or we thought they were going to steal something or do something illegal. There is an insistence on policing instead of providing mental health support and the resources people need to succeed and to thrive.
And it’s not just policing that’s the problem. If you look at Oakland right now, the school district board is trying to shut down eight schools and merge several more, and they’re predominantly Black and brown schools. These are the people who have been most impacted by COVID. These are the children who are missing their family members from COVID. These are the children of essential workers, who’ve been sickened and lost income from COVID. Those are the schools we’re going to close? Really? That’s the kind of ongoing racist violence that’s the problem. The lack of justice through all of these government and social institutions, created through colonial capitalism, is part of the same injury structure affecting people of color.
And it is not just people of color, but also poor white people—I say that, because the Black Panthers were wise enough to work together with poor white people, and to really identify the problem. The problem isn’t one person; the problem isn’t even a group of people. The problem is the racist and classist structures that were and are created to keep property in the hands of some people, and to withhold the rights of other people. That has been made no more obvious than during the COVID pandemic when the rhetoric is like, “Get yourselves back to work, get your kids back in school—and there are no masks and no air filtration.” We’ve seen who has gotten sick [and the racial disparities relating to access to social benefits and health care during COVID].
Unfortunately, it’s going to take us years to understand COVID. It is not an upper respiratory virus. It is a cardiovascular virus. It has affected the pancreas. It has affected the brain. It will take us years to understand what the exact impact of these infections is, especially on people who are already crippled through chronic social oppression in the United States.
This work is intersectional. It’s along all of these axes and requires understanding the roots of policing: the slave patrols, returning runaway slaves and keeping the natives under wraps. These are the roots of policing in the United States. Should we be shocked that we’re seeing disproportionate killing of Black and Indigenous people by the police? No, this is what they were designed to do.
Why do we tolerate it? That’s the question. Why do we accept that, rather than insist upon the Black New Deal, the Red Deal or the Green New Deal—which are frameworks of justice and reparations? They are frameworks of advancing an economy of care for one another and for the Earth. That’s really where we’re at right now. We won’t actually have peace until we all collectively demand it, until that’s where we want to go.
AMS: You’ve spoken about decolonizing food and wellness and our relationships with each other and the Earth. Could you expand a bit on your work around decolonizing medicine, and specifically your work with the Dakota and Lakota tribes at Standing Rock?
RM: When we understand that medicine was a part of the trifecta of colonization (as I mentioned: militaries, medics and missionaries), we have to understand that medicine itself is infected with the same racial and sexist craziness as the rest of our world.
There was a recent study that showed that women who were operated on by male surgeons were 32 percent more likely to die than women who had female surgeons. But when female surgeons operated on men or women, there was no difference in outcome based on the patient’s gender. Another way of framing this is: neglect on the part of male doctors is leading to the death of women, and not men. But no one is really talking about this or changing it.
It’s the same with Black women dying of perinatal complications. Black mothers giving birth in New York are 12 times more likely to die than their white counterparts. That’s not an error, that’s not a mistake. That is built and baked into the system.
If we want a medicine that is just, if we want a medicine that upholds our values and perspectives and traditions and is understanding of who we are and why we are sick, then we must decolonize the very structures of medicine. That work is happening in front-line communities, in the pipeline resistance camp with our Indigenous community members. It is also happening in farmworker communities. It’s happening in freedom clinics. It’s happening in many different spaces where the relationships that modern medicine has created are being put on trial and obliterated. This is because they’re not serving the people who are suffering the most under the violence that modern medicine has brought, which is colonialism.
AMS: Circling back to the Deep Medicine Circle: how can people support this work, and how might other communities use this example to launch similar work in their own regions?
RM: What we’re doing over the next three years is creating a toolkit. We’re identifying groups around the country and around the planet who could partner in the ways that we have with landowners, Indigenous people, farmers and municipalities to redefine the food system locally. We would like to convene those groups in 2025 down at our farm and do a sharing of this toolkit. It will include everything from policy, to training, to sharing how we overcame certain obstacles and hurdles and how this work has been growing.
Our hope is that this toolkit can spread like seeds. We don’t have any interest in being the organization that coordinates with people and organizations all across the country. We don’t want to colonize through this model. We want to share it as an example and have people locally adopt it and run with it.
In every urban and peri-urban environment around the country, this work can secure our climate and food systems. It can make seeds resilient to climate change. It can increase the sovereignty of food systems in those peri-urban and urban environments. It can bridge the urban-rural divide. It can get land access secured for Black, Indigenous and brown people who have historically been pushed off land and are limited in their access to it.
It can also reframe farming as an act of care, which would automatically make the fossil fuel-based input that conventional agriculture relies upon obsolete. We don’t need them. We don’t use them. It would give average, everyday people the experience of zero-barrier access to the most beautiful, healthy, organic food you could imagine. That medicine is something that’s available to all.
We’re definitely fundraising right now. We’re also looking and tapping into the policy work around how to get this funded, the way that our streetlights are funded, the way that our Muni drivers are funded, so that this becomes an expectation of civil society.
I think it starts with support from philanthropists, and we’ve been very grateful for the generous support we’ve received. We are continuing to raise funds for the work we do in DMC. When we get the toolkits out, then we start to really help people tap into those spaces of funding from a policy perspective. That will keep this work growing in scale. Not scale in terms of getting larger in scale, but in terms of staying small and replicating, which is what ecological farmers do around the world.
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.