The concept of necessity with respect to the fight for socialism has to do with a widespread view within the socialist movement of the “inevitability” of socialism and the consequent end of capitalism. At one time this led to the view that it really didn’t matter what people did or did not do since socialism was “fated” to eventually come about regardless of what anybody thought or did.
The problems associated with this view are often discussed within the context “Freedom versus Necessity,” or more generally as the problem of determinism.
Determinists generally hold that everything that happens happens because of a necessitating cause — itself also the result of a previous cause (all the way back to the “Big Bang”) so nothing could have happened differently than it did happen.
Restricting ourselves to social development and what Marx called “the natural laws of capitalist production” we can ask if Marxism is determinist in the above sense.
In one of the prefaces to Das Kapital we find these laws described as “tendencies working with iron necessity towards inevitable results.” But the use of the word “tendencies” seems to belie a strict determinist outlook on Marx’s part.
We also have Engels’ formulation from Anti-Dühring: “Freedom does not consist in the dream of independence from natural laws, but in the knowledge of these laws, and in the possibility this gives of making them work towards definite ends.”
This implies that Marx and Engels believe that human agency is not strictly determined since humans have the ability to “make” natural laws work in their interests. This view is fully consistent with Plekhanov’s observation, from The Role of the Individual in History, that “owing to the specific qualities of their minds and characters, influential individuals can change the individual features of events and some of their particular consequences, but they cannot change their general trend, which is determined by other forces.”
It appears that there is a dialectical relation between freedom (a characteristic of human “minds”) and necessity (general trends “determined by other forces”).
This Marxist view — deriving from Spinoza and Hegel — is a synthesis of the contradictory principles of absolute voluntarism (freedom) and absolute determinism (necessity).
In The Fundamental Problems of Marxism, Plekhanov attempts to delineate how the dialectic unfolds. Necessity is seen as the opposite of freedom. Freedom is when we can fulfill our desires, and necessity is when we are forced to act in ways we do not choose. To update Plekhanov, we can say that for the present day predatory capitalists who, for example, control the pharmaceutical markets of the world, to have to slash their prices on AIDS medications and other drugs for the underdeveloped world is a sad but necessary requirement that is being forced upon them by attendant circumstances. They are the victims of a social necessity they cannot control.
However, what is necessity to the capitalists is freedom to the people of the underdeveloped world. The new availability of cheaper drugs (as limited and inadequate as it may be) means better health and longer lives for millions of people — surely the same social forces that compel the capitalists empower and free their victims. This is an example of the synthesis of dialectical opposites.
In Socialism, Utopian and Scientific, Engels maintains that in order to bring about positive social change for the betterment of the people, it is necessary to understand the laws of social development and to utilize the actually existing historical conditions. To just dream up ideal solutions to problems and try to bring them about regardless of the real situation “on the ground” is simply a useless exercise in utopianism.
The quagmire in which the US imperialists found themselves in Iraq is a good example. Deluded by their own desires and wishful thinking they exercised their “freedom” to take over other people. But being ignorant of the actual social realities, the cultural conditions, and the anthropological and historical structures and how they have developed overtime in the regions they have invaded they were “forced” to deal with the situation in ways they had not anticipated nor planned for.
It is only by understanding necessity and learning how to work along with it that freedom can be exercised. Freedom is therefore a synthesis — the fusion of knowledge of necessity and the harnessing of untrammeled desire.
How we understand this dialectic in the context of the current political struggle in our own country will greatly influence the effectiveness of our actions in the coming months and years.
Many radical groups desire to see the establishment of socialism. The establishment of socialism requires a mass revolutionary consciousness ready to make a leap into a wholly new mode of social production and ownership — a leap even the barest glimmerings of which are just now becoming detectable.
What role would Marx and Engels suggest a revolutionary organization play in these circumstances? The answer Plekhanov gives is it should “contribute to the ‘gradual changes’ … try to bring about reforms. In this way both the ‘ultimate aim’ and reforms find their place, and the very contraposition of reform and ‘ultimate aim’ loses all meaning, is relegated to the sphere of utopian legends".
More concretely, this means for many revolutionary organizations to act on their desire to further the socialist cause (indeed, to be a bit melodramatic) to further the cause of the world revolutionary movement of which they are small components, it is necessary for them to focus not on revolutionary posturing but on a “reform” program, namely the defeat of the ultra-right and their allies on the electoral and propaganda fronts. Paradoxically, as dialectical opposites often are in their synthetic unity, the road to socialism leads, at this historical juncture, into working with ,among others, the “left” wing of the bourgeois Democrats. This means working with them against the right and ultra-right forces that are enabling racist and fascist elements to openly operate in the political arena- i.e., first and foremost the Republican Party and its ultra-right supporters in the Democratic Party— the right-wing Democrats and the so-called “moderates” (actually right-wing reactionaries).
At the same time we must put forth socialist demands and work to raise working class consciousness. This is a tactic forced upon us until the working class is mature enough to field its own political party and candidates. We should have no illusions on the political loyalties of “left-wing” Democrats and social democrats who are, in the last analysis, petty bourgeois radicals and dedicated to the reform of, not the abolition of, capitalism. In The Holy Family, Marx and Engels wrote, “With the thoroughness of the historical action, the size of the mass whose action it is will therefore increase”.
Plekhanov ends his work with this quote, and it is an appropriate note to conclude a commentary on necessity versus freedom by remarking on its significance. Progtresive organizations will grow only if they engage in significant actions that are thoroughly necessitated by the concrete struggles of the working-class and its allies against the oppression the capitalists, in exercising their freedoms, force upon them. In fighting back they fight for their rights and are, as Rousseau in another context observed, forced to be free.
Thomas Riggins is a retired philosophy teacher (NYU, The New School of Social Research, among others) who received a PhD from the CUNY Graduate Center (1983). He has been active in the civil rights and peace movements since the 1960s when he was chairman of the Young People's Socialist League at Florida State University and also worked for CORE in voter registration in north Florida (Leon County). He has written for many online publications such as People's World and Political Affairs where he was an associate editor. He also served on the board of the Bertrand Russell Society and was president of the Corliss Lamont chapter in New York City of the American Humanist Association.
US Marines in Somalia's Bakara Market during the 1992-93 "Operation Restore Hope" military intervention
Biden has reversed Donald Trump’s withdrawal of US forces from Somalia and will redeploy Special Operations Forces. It is just the latest move in a long history of destructive US-UK meddling in the Horn of Africa.
Almost as soon as the administration of President Joseph Biden announced a redeployment of US Special Operations Forces to Somalia on May 16, the Western media began to spin the intervention.
As the BBC framed it, Biden’s deployment would “support the fight against militant group al-Shabab” (sic). The intervention coincides with the re-election of former Somalian President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who governed between 2012 and ‘17.
Similarly, the New York Times (NYT) reported that “Biden has approved a Pentagon request for standing authority to target about a dozen suspected leaders of Al Shabab, the Somali terrorist group that is affiliated with Al Qaeda.”
But are these motives true? Does Washington really want merely to defeat al-Shabab? Is al-Shabab actually linked to al-Qaeda and, if so, to what degree? As usual, the mainstream state-corporate media reportage is missing context and reference to international law.
As we shall see, the context behind the US redeployment is naked imperialism using counterterrorism as the latest in a long line of excuses to interfere in the politics of the strategically-significant country on the Horn of Africa. In terms of international law, signatories of the UN Charter have legal responsibilities to gain authorization from the Security Council before launching military operations –– something the Biden administration and its predecessors have never done in Somalia, or anywhere else, for that matter.
It is also worth tackling the Trump-era propaganda, which is double-edged. Trump supporters claimed that their hero ended America’s “forever wars,” as he “bombed the shit out of ISIS,” in his words, which often meant dumping munitions on Iraqi and Syrian women and children, while blowing Somalis to pieces via drone operators in numbers greater than during Obama’s term. It is accurate that Trump withdrew US ground forces from Somalia, though it appears to have been both an America First PR stunt and a device to make things difficult for the incoming Biden administration.
On the other side, the pro-war, neoliberal, anti-Trump establishment sought to portray Trump’s withdrawal of ground troops as a sign of American weakness in the face of globalized “Islamic” terrorists. By demonizing Trump and inaccurately reporting the motives of his withdrawal, the NYT, BBC and company were essentially clamoring for US militarism in Somalia: Trump bad so militarism good. And as usual, their reporting was absent of any critical or skeptical voices.
The real agenda: “acquire and maintain the capability to respond to any military contingency that could threaten U.S. interests"
Billionaire-backed, self-appointed “fact-checkers” like Snopes, PolitiFact often rate what they call “fake news” as having “missing context,” yet mainstream state-corporate media operate almost entirely on an unspoken doctrine of propaganda-by-omission. Researchers are left to piece together the kind of coherent recent-historical narratives that MSM refuse to provide. Somalia’s “missing context” can be summarized as follows:
In 1997, the US Space Command (which is still operational, though its duties are largely second to the Space Force) committed the Pentagon to achieving “full spectrum dominance” of land, sea, air, and space by the year 2020, “to protect US interests and investment,” which means elite corporate interests. Since then, numerous oil-rich and strategically-important nations have been occupied by the US and its allies. Various Pentagon departments, including the Central Command and Africa Command, divide the world into self-appointed Areas of Responsibility, based on the given region and/or nation’s strategic relevance to the Pentagon. This follows Britain’s colonial model.
In the 1950s, the Colonial Office described Aden—the Gulf between Yemen and Somalia—as “an important base,” from which forces could rapidly deploy to the energy-rich Middle East. In those days, the so-called Scramble for Africa (which began in the late-19th century) was justified under the doctrine of the “white’s man burden”: the mission to civilize the backward black races, as their lands and resources were plundered.
But Somalia gained independence in 1960 before being governed by the one-time CIA-backed dictator Siad Barre, who ruled from 1969 to ‘91. At the time, US support for Siad—including his killing of tens of thousands of political rivals—was justified as part of American Cold War policy.
With the Cold War over and Siad deposed, successive US administrations tested new “interventionist” doctrines, the first post-Cold War ideology being humanitarian intervention. Operation Restore Hope was launched in 1992 by the outgoing George H.W. Bush administration, supposedly to provide humanitarian relief during the famine triggered by the civil war. But a Fort Leavenworth paper reveals a hidden agenda: “Throughout our involvement with Somalia, our overriding strategic objective was simply to acquire and maintain the capability to respond to any military contingency that could threaten U.S. interests in the Middle East, Northeast Africa and the Red Sea area.”
Under an umbrella of Islamic political parties, known as the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), most of them non-extremist, Somalia enjoyed a short period of peace, stability, and an increase in living standards. Branches of the UN, Amnesty International, and the British foreign policy think-tank Chatham House have acknowledged that the ICU prevented “piracy,” provided schooling for large numbers of children, and reduced malnutrition.
The US and UK wage proxy war on the ICU, infiltrate the movement with Al Qaeda extremists
The attacks of 9/11 in 2001 provided the George W. Bush administration an excuse to sanction Somali banks, even though the 9/11 Commission cleared the banks of wrongdoing. Since then, Somalia has become a testing ground for the imposition of cashless societies.
Convinced that the more right-wing elements of the ICU were “al-Qaeda” fronts, the Joint Special Operations Command and CIA operated covertly in Somalia. Failing to destroy the ICU from within, the US and Britain backed an opposition government in exile comprised of Ethiopian and other warlords.
In December 2006, Ethiopia invaded Somalia as a US-British proxy war. Hundreds of thousands of Somalis fled to neighboring Kenyan and Ethiopian refugee camps, while others made the perilous journey in rickety boats to Yemen. The so-called Transitional Federal Government was comprised of killers and torturers funded by the British taxpayer and given homes and citizenship in the UK. The war reversed the ICU’s social achievements and thousands starved in successive famines.
The frightening-sounding al-Shabab simply means “the Youth,” and was the young persons’ wing of the ICU. In 2007, with the non-violent ICU destroyed by a campaign of US-British terror, al-Shabab turned to violence to defend its country against Ethiopian aggressors and Somali collaborators. British intelligence agencies saw their chance to infiltrate al-Shabab with terrorists and transform it from a nationalist militia into an extremist group that could then be used as pretext for more Western aggression against Somalia. And indeed, some of the high-profile terrorists operating in Somalia post-9/11 were US-British intelligence assets.
It is well-known that the British and American militaries helped fuel the rise of what was later known as “al-Qaeda” to battle the Soviets in 1980s’ Afghanistan. One Afghanistan-based terror cell at the time was a Somali group called Al-Itihaad al-Islamiya, whose leader Ahmed Abdi Godane went on to lead al-Shabab after the ICU collapsed. In London, an MI5 double agent tasked with spying on mosques tried in vain to alert his handlers to the fact that Osama Bin Laden’s main UK connection, Abu Qatada, was training and sending fighters to half a dozen Muslim-majority countries, including Somalia. TIME had reported that Qatada was an asset of MI5.
A US puppet takes control in Somalia as drone war escalates
In 2010, with war still raging, US President Obama signed Executive Order 13536, describing Somalia — a country nearly 8,000 miles away with a GDP of less than $5 billion — as an “extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.” As you wipe tears of laughter away, notice the emphasis on “foreign policy”: non-compliant regimes in Somalia might threaten total US operational freedom along the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.
That year, the radicalized and infiltrated al-Shabab launched its first foreign attacks (in Uganda and later Kenya), prompting regional governments to join the US in “counterterrorism” operations. A year later, drone strikes against “al-Shabab” and other groups began, killing at least 300 people by 2017; tragedies small in comparison to the hundreds of thousands who died in multiple, human-made famines over the last decade.
In 2011, the group allegedly pledged allegiance to “al-Qaeda.” The 2012 election of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud provided the US with a client who was described by Obama’s National Security Council spokesperson, Caitlin Hayden, as committed to “strengthen[ing Somalia’s] democratic institutions and promot[ing] economic development.”
By 2016, Bush and Obama had launched a total of 41 confirmed strikes largely from the US base at Camp Lemonier in neighboring Djibouti. The Shabab leader, Godane, was killed in one such strike. His replacement is supposedly named Ahmad Umar, and is a shadowy bogeyman about whom little is known. By 2020, Trump alone had launched 40 drone strikes against Somalia, eliminating AFRICOM’s accountability protocols.
Exploiting “playgrounds for a new scramble in the Horn of Africa”
We cannot say that corporate-state media do not do their job. They have successfully kept the public ignorant and deluded on virtually every geopolitical issue of significance. Nor can we say that the “war on terror” has failed (i.e., that after 20 years terror groups still operate), because it is not designed to combat terrorism. It is designed to produce an endless cycle of tit-for-tat killings and to create extremist groups where none previously existed. Permanent counterterrorism is a thin smokescreen to justify “full spectrum dominance” to the voting and taxpaying American public whose purse is plundered to fund these wars.
As we see from recent history, professed justifications for bloody US interference in impoverished Somalia shift according to the political climate: countering the Soviets until the collapse of the USSR in 1991, preventing famine under the guise of 1990s’ humanitarian intervention, stopping “pirates” as European ships plunder the starving country’s fish stocks, and, for the last two decades, fighting endless hordes of post-9/11 terrorists; many of them incubated in London by protected intelligence assets.
Britain’s Ministry of Defence recently announced that 70 personnel are training 1,000 Somalis as part of the African Union’s so-called Transition Mission in Somalia, “protecting civilians from Al Shabaab and other terrorist groups.” A more plausible reason for the ongoing US-British involvement is offered by a policy paper published last year by the European University: “Strategic areas of the western shore and the Horn of Africa are being incorporated in the Red Sea geopolitical map and Sudan, Djibouti, Somalia and Eritrea have become playgrounds for a new scramble in the Horn of Africa.”
As excuses change, the geographies of power remain the same. These strategic interests are the real motivations for war. Ordinary people, as always, pay the price.
T.J. Coles is a postdoctoral researcher at Plymouth University’s Cognition Institute and the author of several books, the latest being We’ll Tell You What to Think: Wikipedia, Propaganda and the Making of Liberal Consensus.
This article was republished from The Gray Zone.
San Antonio mom Olivia Godden feeds her infant son, Jaiden, baby formula, Friday, May 13, 2022, at their home. Like desperate parents across the country, Godden has reached out to family and friends as well as other moms through social media in efforts to locate formula. | Eric Gay / AP
With store shelves stripped of baby formula, families across the country are getting desperate. Hungry babies cry, with bellies not quite full enough. Some parents report spending hundreds of dollars to ship a few precious cans from another state. Moms who live close enough to the northern border say they’ve been driving across to Canada, where stores were still well-stocked, at least until recently. But still, they can’t find enough.
Doctors and public health officials are encouraging moms to breastfeed and pump more, but that’s not a solution for everyone. Some mothers are unable to produce the amount of milk their babies need. Or a child’s particular health issues may mean they can’t take breast milk.
The immediate reason for the disappearance of baby formula from retailers is a bacterial outbreak at a Michigan factory belonging to Abbott Nutrition that makes the Similac line of products. Several babies became sick, and two later died. The plant was immediately closed and recalls ensued. Add in pandemic-induced supply chain problems and supposed labor shortages, and it was a formula for a baby formula disaster.
“It gets really scary,” Alabama mom Carrie Fleming told the New York Times. Only one brand of formula is tolerated by her three-month-old daughter Lennix, and it’s nowhere to be found in Birmingham, where they live. After telephoning stores across the country, Fleming managed to locate four small cans in New York. The cost to buy them and get them to Birmingham? $245. Private sellers online are making a killing with price-gouging.
Those without the cash or time to undertake a nationwide search—working-class moms and dads—have been reduced to watering down formula or rationing it. Carrie Fleming, for instance, has been putting a half-scoop less into every bottle. Or they search online for homemade formula recipes. They’re trying to stretch what they’ve got but are left with the terrifying guilt of wondering whether their baby is getting the nutrition they need.
“We tried Amazon. We tried every pharmacy in town. We called Similac to see if there was anything they could do. They just apologized for the inconvenience,” one mother, Heather Gliva, told the press. “I was so frustrated…I would just start crying because I didn’t know what else I could do.”
In San Antonio, Maricella Marquez told a reporter that she was down to the last can of the expensive special formula required by her 3-year-old daughter due to a rare allergic disorder. Her husband works at a grocery store, where health insurance covers 80% of the cost of the prescription-grade formula. But even then, the family is still spending $375 a month to feed their child—when the formula is available. Now, they’re sampling other products, hoping they don’t put their daughter in the hospital. “I have no other choice,” Marquez said.
In her Latino-majority city, the formula shortage rates are the highest in the country, with nearly 60% less supply available than normal. Many moms here lack health insurance, work at low-wage jobs with little time allowed for breastfeeding, and get a lot of the food their families need every month from food banks—including the formula for their babies.
Finding the reasons for this assault on families’ basic ability to survive requires looking beyond the typical explanations given for the “everything shortage” that defines the economy right now. More is at work than just logistics challenges or supposed worker shortages. Those issues were already facing formula producers before the current acute shortage.
The baby formula crisis is a monopoly problem, and it’s a capitalism problem.
The formula industry in the United States, like so many others, is highly concentrated. Just three companies—Abbott, Gerber, and Reckitt—account for nearly 100% of the formula consumed by American babies. Abbott, the owner of the Michigan bacteria-infected plant, alone accounts for around 40% of the market.
When that single Michigan plant went offline, it immediately shook the entire supply chain. The market for baby formula is extremely stable, with little fluctuations in the amount consumers purchase from year to year. That means manufacturers produce just at the level of what will sell, with no excess capacity in case of a problem at one plant or company.
And with a corporate trifecta controlling nearly the entire market, that means there are few other producers to pick up the slack when trouble arises.
Less competition for these monopoly manufacturers means the prices they charge parents are higher than they would be if capitalism lived up to its alleged “free market” rhetoric—moms and dads have no alternative. It also means they can keep the wages they pay workers lower.
“Abbott does not fear consumers will leave,” Sarah Miller of the American Economic Liberties Project told the Times. She and her organization want to revive the days of trustbusting and break up concentrated corporate power. Nor does Abbott really fear the government, which Miller says “has a pathetic track record when it comes to holding powerful corporations and executives accountable.”
In fact, government regulations have helped maintain the baby milk monopoly. Even though formulas manufactured and sold in other countries often exceed Food and Drug Administration nutritional requirements, they are kept out of the U.S. market through technicalities like labeling standards. Many formulas manufactured in Europe, for instance, may even be healthier for babies because cheap additives used in U.S. formulas like corn syrup are banned.
Former President Donald Trump’s tariff war over a new NAFTA also put up barriers to imports from Canada. That comes on top of the 17% tax that the U.S. government puts on imported formula.
Further insult to injury came on Wednesday night when Republicans in Congress tried to sink emergency legislation to tackle the formula shortage. The bill, called the Infant Formula Supplemental Appropriations Act, would speed $28 million to the FDA to respond to the scarcity. Democrats backed the bill, but 192 Republicans voted no. They were more concerned with trying to shift blame to President Joe Biden than with helping families.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., has proposed using the Defense Production Act—which was used during COVID to compel corporations to produce needed pandemic supplies—to issue orders to formula manufacturers to produce at set prices.
“Parents shouldn’t have to pay a price because Abbott has a contaminated product,” DeLauro said last week. “If there was a shortage, why weren’t we in the business of making sure that wasn’t happening? What did we do in times of crisis in the Second World War? We produced what we needed to produce.”
DeLauro says she’s looking into a proposal to include baby formula in the Strategic National Stockpile. The U.S. already keeps a huge stockpile of oil for times of shortage or national emergency. Surely the food needed to feed the babies of the nation qualifies as an essential good that should be always kept in reserve.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, has suggested a stronger planning role for the FDA, which would see the agency monitor all the components of the formula manufacturing process—aluminum packaging, vegetable oil, lactose, and such—to head off shortages before they happen.
All of these are things to be pursued before the next crisis, but what are parents to do for their hungry babies right now?
Capitalism’s answer is the same as it’s always been: You’re on your own.
C.J. Atkins is the managing editor at People's World. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from York University in Toronto and has a research and teaching background in political economy and the politics and ideas of the American left. In addition to his work at People's World, C.J. currently serves as the Deputy Executive Director of ProudPolitics.
This article was republished from Peoples World.
Members of the youth delegation during a recent trip to Cuba. (Photo: Courtesy of Danaka Katovich)
The American working class and Cubans both face an important task: demanding dignity from the imperial core that constantly works to undermine our right to life.
A week ago I returned to the United States from Cuba where I got to spend International Workers’ Day with 100 other young organizers from the U.S. alongside over 700,000 other people who celebrated in Havana that day. With the International People’s Assembly of North America, we spent a week learning about the Cuban socialist project and how the blockade imposed by the United States impacts life in Cuba.
For the conditions placed on the Cuban people, it is remarkable how successful their revolution is. One thing I want to emphasize is that Cubans, citizens or government officials, will rarely say that Cuba is a perfect place. I was astounded by the critical analysis that most people seemed to have. Our hosts never strayed away from the hard questions. We engaged in important discussions about a range of topics and they asked increasingly difficult questions of us too. So many people in the United States will tell you that we live in the best country in the world despite our streets being lined with unhoused people, our education system failing, our bridges collapsing, and our people dying because they can't afford healthcare. We are failing spectacularly—despite all we have access to in the United States—compared to many things Cuba does with only a tiny fraction of the resources.
Life is hard for the Cuban people. In the United States it is uncommon to encounter masses of people who are aware of the origins of their material conditions. Many people are taught to attribute our poor material conditions to meritocracy. Maybe we did not work hard enough to deserve the things that give every human dignity.
The Cuban people knew it was my country that was starving them. They understand because the U.S. government has publicly admitted that the only reason the blockade is in place is to punish Cuba for trying to build something outside of the global capitalist order. Still, they treated me with so much kindness. They fed me well despite not having much.
In the United States we would benefit a lot from gaining a better understanding of where our suffering comes from. We need to get much better at managing nuance, which is something the Cuban people do not lack. They understand their suffering comes from multiple avenues and I didn’t encounter many that said their economic system is one of them. Despite the embargo, the Cuban government has been able to efficiently allocate the resources they do have to keep people alive, housed, in school, and engaging in work and popular education. I believe very deeply that is what any society should strive to do. Without the embargo I believe Cuba would be able to prove to the people of the world who suffer under the neoliberal order that another reality is possible. That is exactly what the embargo is trying to prevent.
I went into the experience particularly interested in how unions and cooperatives exist in Cuba. The first day of our trip, I spent the morning and early afternoon with the auto mechanics union and cooperative, Autochapt. I was interested to see how workers in cooperatives saw themselves within the revolution and how they functioned within socialist society.
The leaders of the mechanics union were probably the most fervent communists I met on the entire trip. They saw their work as critical to sustaining the revolution. Cars get people to work. Farming equipment helps feed people. Buses get people to where they need to go. In a country that cannot import new parts, auto mechanics become more relevant. Many Cubans drive American cars that are decades old. The mechanics have no access to importing spare parts so they manufacture the parts themselves in some cases.
The union members have a solid democratic structure for decision making and their pride for their union was tangible. The mechanics found their work meaningful. They did not feel as though people were making decisions for them. They told us how they voted to give 10% of their salaries to the victims of the hurricane that hit Cuba last year. We danced and paraded around the cooperative together and we approached a wall at the entrance of the cooperative that had a mural of Cuba surrounded by little rings hanging off of nails. It was made by the cooperative to illustrate the blockade. Taking turns, the group from the US, other countries and members of the cooperative broke down the blockade together, tearing the rings off the wall and throwing them to the ground.
I was also curious to see how minority religions function in a socialist society. Religion did not play an important role in the early days of the Cuban revolution, but today religious communities find themselves a part of the revolutionary society and there is significant religious diversity. Various kinds of Christianity are present there, including Roman Catholicism. Many people in Cuba practice several African religions and spiritualities.
As for Islam, when people think of Muslims and Cuba, they may think of the U.S.-run torture blacksite that has incarcerated Muslims exclusively since the War on Terror began. Twenty years later there are still 39 Muslim men held without charge or trial at Guantanamo Detention Center by the U.S. military. I thought of them often while I was in Cuba, especially when I spent time during Eid at the only mosque in the country.
The Cuban Muslim community is small at about 4,000 people, not including Muslims from countries around the world who attend school in Cuba. The Cuban government has an entity that deals with and meets the needs of religious communities, including the Muslim population. The government built the mosque after three men came back from their pilgrimage to Mecca in 2015. In conversations at the mosque, I asked men and women how their religion relates to socialism. They said it would be disrespectful to compare Islam and socialism, but believe they run parallel to each other, both with the intention of raising people up and making life better for everyone. They said the socialist project has contradictions but Islam does not.
All the women I met there were converts, and all of them recounted stories of feeling incredibly welcome by the Muslim community and at the mosque when they were thinking of converting. One of the older women said she felt like the community at the mosque was her new family.
I also visited the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Center, which provides support to delegations like the one I went on. Our guides from the MLK center, Edelso and Izett, always took the time to answer our questions and be present with us for the entire week. Izett talked a lot about liberation theology as a means of freeing everyone, not just people who practice a certain religion. There was a small chapel in the heart of the MLK Center where Izett spent over an hour talking to us about the complexities of Cuban society. Many people in the United States say that the Cuban government doesn’t take kindly to religious diversity, but I can say confidently that is not the case. In fact I struggle to envision a government in the United States that would provide a fraction of support that the Cuban government does to religious minorities.
I cried a lot during the week I was there. One moment that stuck with me was when I found out that Cuba tried to send support to us after 9/11. Cuba was one of the first countries to call after they heard the news of the attacks on the World Trade Center. President Bush refused support not just after 9/11, but also after Hurricane Katrina. When Cuban doctors were turned away from assisting people in the United States they flew to Kashmir to help people affected by the earthquake that had just happened there. In the wake of horrible tragedies like 9/11 and Katrina, the world would be a much better place if more countries sought genuine international solidarity. Cuba was not expecting anything in return.
While we starved them, they tried to give us life. Tears streamed down my face as I heard Cubans tell me over and over again they stand with us. They feel for us because we don’t have healthcare, housing, democracy, or education for all. We have a surveillance state, police crackdowns, brutality, starvation student debt, unemployment and no meaningful way to engage in our governance. They want a better life for us as our government robs them of the opportunity to create something radically different.
I was eating dinner with our Cuban hosts when we got word that Roe could soon be overturned. The table went silent. The Americans were scared and the Cubans were afraid on our behalf.
The American working class and Cubans have much more in common than the dinosaurs in Washington would have us think. Both face an important task: demanding dignity from the imperial core that constantly works to undermine our right to life. In that regard, we can learn many things from Cuba. The U.S. has not achieved its goals in Cuba, a country that has been standing toe to toe with the neoliberal world order since 1959. The 100 young people who returned to the United States and Canada a week ago, including myself, are willing to go to bat for the Cuban people and meet their first and foremost demand: end the embargo.
This article was republished from Common Dreams.
Yet Another Effort, Spinozists, If You Would Become Marxists: Marxist Spinozism Against Enlightenment Spinozism. By: Jason ReadRead Now
Me at PAF talking about Spinoza and Transindividuality
(I am running out of Spinoza/Marx graphics)
In a recently published piece in Jacobin (which is a response to this piece in Viewpoint) we see the following statement:
"Precisely because of what we affirm in Spinoza, we view his French reception in the twentieth century skeptically. Thinkers such as Deleuze and Althusser largely reject Spinoza’s rationalism, monism, and determinism, reducing his substance to a swirl of anarchic forces, whether in Deleuze’s nomads or in Althusser’s aleatory materialism. These readings perform a kind of “substance abuse,” replacing Spinoza’s objective metaphysics with a Nietzschean play of forces.
But a different tradition of Marxist Spinozism doesn’t fall into this trap. Starting with Joseph Dietzgen and Georgi Plekhanov and proceeding with the Soviet Spinozists, A. M. Deborin and Evald Ilyenkov, these writers treat Spinoza as a dialectical thinker avant la lettre. They participate in the tradition of the left-Hegelians Heine, Feuerbach, and Hess, who hailed Spinoza as the real godfather of German Idealism. As such, they did not reject Spinoza’s humanism for a Heideggerian inspired antihumanism. Instead, they sought to affirm human power and dignity through an understanding of the material world."
It seems conspicuous who is missing from this list, namely Etienne Balibar, Pierre Macherey, André Tosel, Chantal Jaquet, Yves Citton, Frédéric Lordon, Antonio Negri, Vittorio Morfino, Hasana Sharp, Warren Montag, etc. most definitely, etc. I do not want to play the name game here, especially since I am trying to offer a friendly criticism. It still seems to me that there is a substantial difference to be made between a specifically Marxist Spinozism, a Spinozism that is not reducible to a play of forces or an enlightenment of materializing rational ideals. To be a materialist, to be a Marxist, at least as I understand it, is to accept that "life determines consciousness," that history in its complexity, overdetermination, and contradictions, always exceeds the rationality, objectivity, and communication of ideals.
Half of this blog, when I am not writing about monster movies or the monster movie that is American politics, is dedicated to this Marxist Spinozism, as is The Politics of Transindividuality, so it would be redundant to go over all of this here.
I would like to offer two Propositions from Spinoza as a point of illustration.
The first is Proposition 37 of Part IV. The proposition itself reads fairly simply, "The greatest good of those who seek virtue is common to all, and can be enjoyed by all equally." Where things get interesting, and deviate from a strictly enlightenment, is in the fact that Spinoza provides two different demonstrations of this proposition, one which proceeds from reason, the other from the affects and imagination. Common notions and ambition both compel us to create community. Étienne Balibar has dedicated most of his little Spinoza and Politics book to an interpretation of the proposition. Even offering a handy diagram here:
These two different foundations of the city, these two different genesis of sociality, one based on the affect of ambition and the other based on reason, are not two different options: there is not a city of affects and a city of reason supplanting each other as two different phases, two different orders. Spinoza’s text presents them as two different demonstrations of the same thing, suggesting the coexistence of these two different constitutions of society. As Balibar writes, ‘Sociability is therefore the unity of a real agreement and an imaginary ambivalence, both of which have real effects.’We are always dealing with both affects, with ambition, and reason, with a city founded on a projection of our ideas of man, and a city founded on our rational utility. While there is no telos, no necessary progression by which the city founded on reason, a democracy, necessarily displaces a city founded on founded on superstition and affects, that does no meant that the relation is entirely static. The particular combination of reason and affects defines the nature of a given city, and its particular history. There is no more one generic essence of the city’s striving than there is an essence of man’s singular striving. The striving, the particular relations that constitute the city, the collective, must be thought from the singular case, from the specific way it is affected and determined. There is thus a history, but this history must be thought from the singular case, from the particular way in which any given city combines ambition and reason, affects and knowledge. Etienne Balibar has argued that the Theological-Political Treatise offers a dialectical understanding of the constitution of society in which the abstract and indeterminate presentation of the ‘pact,’ the social contract, is concretized by the various affective investments and imaginary constitutions of society. Like desire, the social contract only exists in its concrete instances: ‘The pact only exists as specified by its historical circumstances: there are as many real states as there are forms of pact.’
From these two demonstrations, one affective one rational, Balibar derives an entire understanding of politics, and political belonging, one predicated on an "other scene." As Balibar writes elsewhere.
"It would be easy to conclude that Marx is basically unaware of the “other scene” of politics, the scene of communitarian affiliation, and therefore unaware of symbolic violence as well (although he names it or has bequeathed us with the word ideology, on of the aptest names for it); and to conclude that Spinoza, for his part, basically ignores the irreducible level of economic antagonism (doubtless because, at the economic level, where conatus can perhaps be conceived of as a “productive force,” Spinoza is basically an optimist and a utilitarian."
Marx is then the thinker of economic exploitation, with little to say about the conflict over symbolic identities, while Spinoza is the thinker of the ambiguity of political identities, with little to say about exploitation. As much as this is perhaps true, it does not entirely address the way in which their thought can be articulated with respect to these problems (as Balibar’s parenthetical statement reveals). It is a matter of tendencies rather than divisions. From Spinoza's proposition Balibar derives an entire political anthropology, one that is irreducible to rationality or irrational forces, but understands history as the interweaving of both.
The second proposition is the Scholium from Proposition 9 of Part Three of the Ethics. "From all this, then, it is clear that we neither strive for, nor will, neither want, nor desire anything because we judge it to be good; on the contrary, we judge something to be good because we strive for it, will it, want it, and desire it.”
It is this dimension that has been developed by Lordon and Citton. I am not going to rehash the entirety of their arguments here. I will just simply say that to the opacity and overdetermination of the social, they add the opacity and overdetermination of the individual, not only do we "see the better and follow the worse," but we often do not even know why. The driving forces of our innermost desires are often opaque to us, and we think that we are free at the moment that we are compelled by the history of our desires.
It is not just that Marxism/Spinozism is something other than another chapter of the Enlightenment, but that by grasping that difference we can come to terms with the irrationality of the present.
Jason Read is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern Maine. He is the author of The Micro-Politics of Capital: Marx and the Prehistory of the Present (SUNY 2003) and The Politics of Transindividuality (Brill 2015/Haymarket 2016) and a forthcoming collection of essays, The Production of Subjectivity: Between Marxism and Post-Structuralism (Brill 2022) as well as The Double Shift: Marx and Spinoza on the Politics and Ideology of Work (Verso 2023). He blogs on popular culture, philosophy, and politics at unemployednegativity.com.
This article was republished from unemployed negativity.
In April, the UN’s climate scientists warned it’s “now or never” to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. You can almost hear them screaming at their keyboards, desperate for governments to actually do something, when they outline the need for “rapid, deep and immediate” cuts in CO2 emissions. But their words are not just a warning about the future; they describe the present reality for billions of people.
South Asia is now into its third month of extreme heat, with temperatures soaring above 40 degrees Celsius day after day. And it’s not just South Asia that is sweltering. In March, both the Arctic and the Antarctic were 30 degrees Celsius and 40 degrees Celsius above their usual average temperatures, respectively. Ice is melting, and sea levels are rising. Thirty million people were displaced by climate shocks in 2020. And these shocks store up more strife to come by wrecking harvests.
The supply chains that connect the world’s farms, mines, factories, shipping lanes, ports, warehouses, delivery networks and consumers are already massively disrupted, even before the full effects of climate breakdown are felt. In the heavily integrated global capitalist economy, disruption spells disaster. Already, more than 800 million people—1 in 10 people of the entire world’s population—go to bed hungry.
The price of wheat has doubled already this year. And it could rise further as the effects of Russia’s criminal invasion of Ukraine and Russia’s resulting partial economic isolation are felt across the globe.
Wars lead to hunger, mental distress, misery and death for years after the fighting stops. There must be an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine, the withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukrainian territory and a negotiated settlement between the two countries.
If there isn’t, then not only will the Ukrainian people continue to face the horror of shells, tanks and air raid sirens; not only will Ukrainian refugees suffer uncertain futures and dislocation from their families and communities; not only will young Russian conscripts be sent off to be brutalized in the army and die in a foreign land for a war they don’t understand; not only will Russian people suffer under sanctions; not only will the people of Egypt, Somalia, Laos, Sudan and many others who rely on wheat from the belligerent nations continue facing rising hunger.
But everyone on earth faces the threat of nuclear Armageddon if the war in Ukraine continues. The threat of direct confrontation between Russian and NATO forces is a clear and present danger to all of us. That’s why it is so important that we support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which is now part of international law thanks to inspiring campaigning by countries in the Global South.
It will not be easy. Weapons companies do extremely well out of war. They fund politicians and think tanks. They have their many media mouthpieces. Those who strive for peace and justice are vilified because behind conflict stand the interests of the war machine. They threaten the ill-gotten wealth and power of the few.
We see it with painful clarity in the pandemic as Big Pharma refuses to share vaccine technology that was mainly developed with public funds. Who benefits? The pharma executives and shareholders. Who loses? Everyone else. More mothers and fathers die. More livelihoods are wrecked. And the threat of viral mutation hangs over everyone, vaccinated and unvaccinated alike.
The state is used to prop up the wealth of the richest. Central banks pumped in $9 trillion in 2020 in response to the pandemic. The result? Billionaire wealth went up by 50 percent in one year, when at the same time the world economy shrank. The billionaires and corporations claim to hate government action. In reality, they love it. The only thing they hate is governments acting in your interests. And so, they fight to keep governments in their pocket and try to overthrow those that aren’t.
When we step back and survey all of these dynamics, a truth dawns on us. We used to think that there were a series of distinct crises: the climate crisis, the refugee crisis, the housing shortage crisis, the debt crisis, the inequality crisis, the crisis of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. We tried to isolate each one and solve it.
Now we can see that we don’t face multiple separate crises. The system itself is the crisis. The global system is not in a crisis that can be resolved. The system is crisis and must be overcome, replaced and transformed.
The end of the world is already here—it is just unevenly distributed. The image of apocalypse—bombs and raids, oil spills and wildfires, disease and contagion—is a reality for people across the planet.
The periphery is the future, not the past. We were told that developed countries give the developing world an image of their future. But the periphery sits at the vanguard of history—where the crises of capitalism hit hardest, the consequences of climate collapse arrive the quickest, and the call to resist them rings the loudest.
That resistance is powerful and inspiring. The world recently witnessed the largest strike in history when Indian farmers and their worker allies resisted the neoliberal bills that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government wanted to force through their parliament. The farmers stood up for themselves, their livelihoods and the needs of the poor. And they won.
Or take Amazon, the world’s sixth-largest company, which has made record profits during the pandemic. Its greed and exploitation are being fiercely resisted by workers, communities and activists on every continent in the world. They have come together to make Amazon pay.
In Latin America, the people are rallying to support progressive political leaders to say no more to the domination by imperialism, the destruction of their communities and the abuse of their environments.
But it’s not enough to just resist. We have to build a new world brimming with life, bound by love and powered by popular sovereignty.
How do we do that? We strengthen workers and rural workers in their struggles against exploitation, support people and communities in their fights for dignity and join progressive forces to mobilize state power. And we bring them all together into powerful people’s alliances with the capacity to remake the world. If we do that, we will breed hope over despair.
So I want you to commit today: Double your efforts in the struggles you are involved in. Join that campaign you’ve been thinking about joining. Show that real solidarity.
I want you to be able to look back in a generation’s time and say, yes, I built the trade unions, the community organizations, the social movements, the campaigns, the parties, the international platforms that turned the tide.
I want you to be able to say, yes, we produced and distributed the food, homes and health care so no one endures poverty; preserved and shared the wisdom of the people of this planet; spread love between people and communities; built the energy system to decarbonize our planet; dismantled the war machine and supported refugees; reined in the power of the billionaires; and secured a new international economic order.
Will it be easy? Of course not. We will face enormous resistance. Of course we will.
But, as the great and wonderful Chilean poet Pablo Neruda once wrote, “You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot stop spring from coming.”
And spring, my friends, is coming.
Adapted from Jeremy Corbyn’s inaugural speech to the Progressive International’s Summit at the End of the World on May 12, 2022.
This article was produced by Globetrotter.
Swedish Minister of Foreígn Affairs Ann Linde poses for photographers as she signs Sweden's application for Nato membership at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Stockholm, Tuesday, May 17 2022
THE SWEDISH Communist Party (SKP) has slammed the decision of the ruling Social Democratic Party to back the country’s membership of the Nato military alliance announced on Monday.
It said the stunning policy reversal which ends 200 years of neutrality is linked to the aspirations of Swedish capital to secure its sphere of influence and defend its investments abroad.
“It is inevitable that the contradictions within the entire capitalist-imperialist system are intensifying and each country’s capital seeks the most profitable investments and the best conditions for its growth,” the communists said.
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson announced that her party had dropped its long-standing opposition to Nato membership in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and was seeking accession as soon as possible.
But the SKP said the decision was in breach of her own party’s Congress decisions, including a statement passed as recently as November 2021 which described military non-alignment as “a foundation of Sweden’s security policy.”
The SDP was resolute on the threat posed by Nato membership and firmly ruled out joining the imperialist bloc.
“Of course, the security policy situation has changed,” the communists said. “The Swedish investments abroad are now more threatened than 10 years ago because the contradictions have been sharpened.
“That is why Swedish politicians act to defend their own investments and they cannot do it by themselves. So, it's pretty simple: When the capital calls, congressional decisions mean nothing.”
Finnish communists voiced similar opposition to Helsinki’s plans to join Nato warning that it places the country at risk of war and would deepen regional militarisation.
However the membership aspirations of both countries are opposed by Turkey which is threatening to veto their accession.
Ankara accuses Sweden and Finland of harbouring terrorists, linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Turkey has demanded the extradition of a number of alleged PKK supporters, security guarantees and an end to an arms embargo in return for its support.
Steve Sweeney writes for the Morning Star, the socialist daily newspaper published in Great Britain. He is also a People's Assembly National Committee member, patron of the Peace in Kurdistan campaign, and a proud trade unionist.
This article was republished from Morning Star.
CENSORING PALESTINE: SWARMS OF ISRAELI BOTS ARE CRIPPLING PRO-PALESTINIAN TWITTER ACCOUNTS. By: Jessica BuxbaumRead Now
Feature photo | MintPress News | AP
OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM — On April 29, Inès Abdel Razek woke up to 80 new Twitter followers.
“These accounts were following the exact same people that were tweeting about Palestine, but from France or Francophone accounts that work on Palestine,” Razek said of her new followers.
The advocacy director of Rābet, the Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy’s digital platform, became wary of the issue after Abier Khateb, a grants manager at Open Society Foundations, reported mass followings as well.
Razek told MintPress News that she began individually reporting each account as fake but kept her own account open — lest she let the alleged bots win. But after a few days, Razek made her profile private. At the peak of the mass following, Razek had accumulated 400 fake followers.
From the end of April through the first few weeks of May, more than 40 pro-Palestine Twitter accounts reported mass followings. Digital-rights experts say acquiring huge amounts of fake followers triggers Twitter’s algorithm and can lead to the tech giant suspending an account, effectively censoring users by forcing them to make their accounts private.
These accounts included those belonging to human rights and activist organizations Adalah, Combatants for Peace, Breaking the Silence, and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights. They also included news publications and journalists, like The Palestine Chronicle, Ali Abunimah and Hind Al-Eryani; and politicians, such as Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Kingdom. Twitter did not respond to MintPress inquiries on the source of the suspicious accounts.
Dr. Marc Owen Jones, an assistant professor at Hamad bin Khalifa University, conducted an analysis that found more than 1,150 fake accounts. Twitter deleted approximately 1,090 of these accounts, according to Jones. His analysis determined that the average account-creation time was one to three per minute, suggesting these accounts were created using an automated process.
The profiles were in various languages, including French, Spanish, English and German, but usually had Arabic bios. They often had strange names — like Noble Betty Thomas — and zero followers.
“They had clearly made-up names,” Sarah Leah Whitson, who also experienced a large influx of new followers, told MintPress. “The vast majority of them had Israeli names and Israeli addresses. Some of them had made-up Arab names, which were mangled. It’s clear that they’re [using] stolen images of people.”
In response to the bulk followings, software developer Daniel Easterman created a free script to automatically report and block hundreds of these bots for users.
Easterman said the spamming problem has a censorship effect by forcing users to make their accounts private. “This means they won’t be able to distribute their messages widely as they would normally,” Easterman told MintPress News.
Another area of particular concern is how a flood of fake followers may cause Twitter to shut down an account. “When you see such a dramatic increase in followers, it’s usually somebody manipulating the system for commercial gain,” Easterman said. “So that could trigger Twitter to automatically flag that as suspicious activity and suspend the activist’s account.”
Using Twitter to target human rights defenders and journalists isn’t unusual. In 2017, journalist Iona Craig and others who report on Yemen were spammed with thousands of fake followers. Many speculated the culprits were state entities belonging to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The reason behind this particular mass following campaign remains unknown. Jones hypothesized it’s acting as a form of social media suppression, writing on Twitter:
"Some suggest it’s a means to degrade the algorithmic quality of a Twitter account so that it possibly gets suspended; some suggest it’s others trying to boost popularity of an account. When it’s unsolicited, as in this case, I tend to think it’s more of a targeting operation. I am naturally cynical, but most people who get a sudden influx of fake followers feel unnerved and uncomfortable. If that fact is widely known, it functions as a tool of surveillance and potentially intimidation (e.g., you are being watched). It also makes many people mute their accounts for a bit which has a censorship effect.”
Razek, Whitson, and others told MintPress that the flood of fake followers appears to be diminishing for them. However, a new operation has emerged.
In the past week, Jones found around 2,800 fake accounts following pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist accounts who have recently been tweeting on the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu-Akleh.
“This network is likely the same as the one found at [the] end of April, although now it is active,” Jones wrote on Twitter.
The accounts have between 0 to 20 followers, with the majority of bios written in English and simply stating the account location, which is Israel. Most accounts don’t have a banner picture and the profile pictures have purportedly been swiped from real people.
According to Jones, the accounts have begun liking and retweeting posts, without any real partisan regularity: they like both pro- and anti-Palestinian subject matter and follow both pro-Zionist and pro-Palestinian accounts but appear to target the pro-Palestinian side more. Accounts targeted include The Jerusalem Post; the government of Israel’s official state account; activist organization Jewish Voice for Peace; the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement; Israeli journalist Ilan Pappe; and former Palestinian Liberation Organization executive committee member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi.
Again, the reason for the bulk followers remains unclear. “Those who get followed understandably find it intimidating, as if a form of surveillance or a technique to try and degrade [the] quality of an account with low-quality follows,” Jones wrote on Twitter. “The fact remains, these are clearly fake accounts and ruin the experience of Twitter.”
CENSORSHIP OF PALESTINE, AN ONGOING PROBLEM
Palestinian digital-rights experts have long decried the increasing censorship of Palestinian content online. During Israel’s assault on Gaza and the upticks in Israeli attacks at Al-Aqsa Compound and in Sheikh Jarrah in May 2021, Palestinian activists reported social media companies were removing their content on Israeli violence and ethnic cleansing for violating community guidelines.
The social media censorship didn’t stop when tensions died down over the summer, though. Last month, social media users in Jordan said their posts related to Israeli violence at Al-Aqsa were taken down and their accounts blocked. Additionally, accounts belonging to Palestinian news publications covering the violence in occupied East Jerusalem and at Al-Aqsa were deactivated by Facebook.
In their recent monthly report on social media violations, Palestinian NGO Sada Social stated the deletion of Palestinian content “is in line with and in response to Israeli requests to tighten the screws on Palestinians and their media.”
Palestinian-American model Bella Hadid also accused Instagram of shadow-banning (having content viewership limited) her pro-Palestinian content during Ramadan.
Razek suggested the swarm of fake followers on Twitter may be an extension of Instagram’s alleged shadow-banning. “The purpose is to pollute our algorithms and make our accounts less visible. So in the way that Instagram is shadow-banning some content, this could be a way that Twitter shadow-bans our content,” she said.
While the identities behind the fake followers haven’t been revealed, many have pointed to Israel. The Israeli government’s targeting of Palestinian digital content is well-documented. According to 7amleh – The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media, the Israeli Ministry of Justice Cyber Unit sends content-removal requests aimed at Palestinian content to social media companies such as Facebook, Google, and YouTube. The Justice Ministry has boasted these corporations comply with 95% of their requests. And Israeli governmental organizations and NGOs also encourage their citizens to flag Palestinian content for removal.
ATTACKING FREE SPEECH
Tech billionaire Elon Musk’s pending purchase of Twitter came with a promise of securing free speech on the digital platform. “Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” the self-declared free-speech advocate said in a statement about his Twitter deal.
While digital-rights experts like Jones are wary of Musk’s potential Twitter takeover, Whitson, who’s experienced targeted attacks, harassment, and censorship threats for decades for speaking out against Israeli abuses, views the buyout positively. For the executive director of nonprofit Democracy for the Arab World (DAWN), the risk of corporate censorship is a bigger issue than online hate speech. Whitson said:
"I’m hopeful that Elon Musk will be true to his word to protect and promote free speech and to end concerted efforts to target and cancel speech that we don’t like. Seeing how Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have launched systematic efforts to silence pro-Palestine activist voices, I’m very wary of corporate moderators deciding what speech is and isn’t acceptable.”
Whitson doesn’t agree the bots are a form of censorship, but she does see them as an assault on free speech. “It’s a form of targeted harassment and bullying,” she said. “It’s a targeted attack on people who are speaking freely, including journalists and human rights activists.”
Jessica Buxbaum is a Jerusalem-based journalist for MintPress News covering Palestine, Israel, and Syria. Her work has been featured in Middle East Eye, The New Arab and Gulf News.
This article was republished from Mintpress News.
Climate change is the result of a deadly calculus: human lives are worth risking and even losing over the profits of global corporations.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recently dropped a bombshell announcement that should have garnered news headlines in the major global and U.S. media, but did not. New WMO research concludes that “[t]here is a 50:50 chance of the annual average global temperature temporarily reaching 1.5 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial level for at least one of the next five years.”
WMO Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas explained, “The 1.5 degree Celsius figure is not some random statistic. It is rather an indicator of the point at which climate impacts will become increasingly harmful for people and indeed the entire planet.”
In 2015, the likelihood of reaching that threshold within five years was nearly zero. In 2017 it was 10 percent, and today it is 50 percent. As we continue to spew greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in dizzying amounts, that percentage spikes with every passing year and will soon reach 100 percent certainty.
When average global temperatures hit the tipping point of 1.5 degrees Celsius, climate scientists predict that most of the Earth’s coral reefs will die off. At 2 degrees Celsius, all will die off. This is the reason why United Nations members coalesced around staving off an average global temperature rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius at the last global climate gathering in 2021.
The planet has already heated up by 1.1 degrees Celsius, and the consequences are dire across the globe.
India is experiencing its worst heat wave in 122 years, and neighboring Pakistan has broken a 61-year-old record for high temperatures. Dozens of people have already died as a result of the extreme heat.
In France, farmers “can see the earth cracking every day,” as a record-breaking drought has thrown the country’s agricultural industry into crisis mode.
Here in the United States, across the central and northeastern parts of the country, there is a heat wave so large and so severe that people from Texas to Maine experienced triple-digit temperatures in May.
Even the wealthy enclave of Laguna Niguel in Orange County, Southern California, is on fire, and dozens of homes have been destroyed. Although moneyed elites have far more resources to remain protected from the deadly impacts of climate change compared to the rest of us, occasionally even their homes are in the path of destruction, indicating that nowhere on Earth will be safe on a catastrophically warming planet.
Ironically, as extreme heat waves become more likely with global warming, humans will burn more fossil fuels to power the air conditioning they need to cool off and survive, thereby fueling the very phenomenon that leads to more extreme heat waves.
In such a scenario, it is a massive no-brainer for the world to quickly and without delay transition to renewable energy sources. Instead, President Joe Biden in April announced the sale of new leases for oil and gas companies to drill on public lands, reneging on his campaign platform’s climate pledges.
Biden did so apparently in order to increase domestic fuel supplies and thereby lower gas prices. He also raised the percentage of royalties that companies pay the federal government from 12.5 percent to 18.75 percent. But no amount of dollars saved by consumers or earned in royalties by the federal government can halt the laws of physics and protect the climate.
The New York Times’s Lisa Friedman explained, “The burning of fossil fuels extracted from public land and in federal waters accounts for 25 percent of the greenhouse gases generated by the United States, which is the planet’s second biggest polluter, behind China.” Here is one area where the federal executive branch has control, and yet financial considerations have been dictating responses rather than existential ones.
After climate activists vocally denounced the move, Biden did finally cancel the drilling leases for Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. The Interior Department cited a “lack of industry interest” and “conflicting court rulings,” rather than pressure from activists, as the reason for the cancellation. Regardless, it is a small measure of relief for a planet that is on its way to burning to a crisp.
While Biden (and other lawmakers) claim they are driven by rising inflation and the impact of high gas prices on voters’ pocket books, it turns out the public doesn’t actually want a glut of oil and gas to help lower costs.
A new poll by the National Surveys on Energy and the Environment found that there is no longer skepticism among the public that the effects of climate change are real, as 76 percent of respondents—the highest on record since the poll started—“believe there is solid evidence that temperatures on the planet have risen over the last four decades.”
The poll also notably concluded that “Americans continue to favor reducing greenhouse gas emissions as their preferred approach for staving off the worst impacts of climate change,” and that they “remain skeptical of any pivot from mitigation toward climate policy that prioritizes adaptation, use of geoengineering or subterranean carbon storage.”
So, rather than invest in mitigating climate change or adapting to it—which is what market-driven economies favor—people, sensibly, want to stop the planet from warming in the first place.
Still, there is growing concern among climate scientists that it may already be too late for a transition to renewables. In spite of energy sources like solar and wind becoming rapidly cheaper and more accessible, overall energy consumption is increasing about as fast, as per one recent study. Mark Diesendorf, the author of the study, explained, “it is simply impossible for renewable energy to overtake that retreating target. And that’s no fault of renewable energy. It’s the fault of the growth in consumption and the fact that action has been left too late.”
Because corporate profit-based considerations have constantly dictated our energy use and climate policies, we have effectively decided that major sacrifices of lives—most likely poor people of color—will be worth the pain of relying on fossil fuels for energy.
There is an analogy to be found in the COVID-19 pandemic. For months, scientists sounded the alarm over prevention, endorsing lockdowns, masks, and vaccines to stop the spread of the deadly virus, just as climate scientists issued warnings against global warming for decades. Both science-based campaigns faced uphill battles, each with its own challenges in recommending the most rational guidelines to maximize public safety in spite of financial sacrifices (closing down most businesses and restaurants and canceling major sporting and entertainment events, in the case of COVID-19; promoting solar power subsidies, switching to wind energy, and manufacturing hybrid and electric vehicles, in the case of the climate crisis). All the while, corporate interests and right-wing political opportunists successfully pushed their own agenda in the halls of power, insisting that economic growth was the most important consideration.
Today, even as COVID-19 infection rates are skyrocketing, with cases having risen by 58 percent in the last two weeks alone, mask mandates are being dropped all over the country and COVID-19-related restrictions are ending. This is not because the virus is under control—it is clearly not—but because it’s no longer financially viable for corporate America to sacrifice profits for lives. So, it will sacrifice lives for profit--just as is the case with the climate crisis.
It is worth spelling out this equation so that we know where we are headed.
As the climate changes, we begin to see where the bodies are buried—literally. Water levels in Nevada’s Lake Mead have fallen so dramatically that the remains of at least two human bodies were recently discovered. What other disturbing discoveries are in store for us?
Sonali Kolhatkar is the founder, host and executive producer of “Rising Up With Sonali,” a television and radio show that airs on Free Speech TV and Pacifica stations. She is a writing fellow for the Economy for All project at the Independent Media Institute.
This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.
I was asked by a few comrades to explain Marx’s concept of the fetishism of commodities, and with that, the main ways it has been misunderstood by both mainstream bourgeois academia and by well-meaning Marxists. The following short reflection attempts to do just that.
Marx begins section four of the first chapter of Capital by saying that “a commodity appears, at first sight, a very trivial thing;” however, “its analysis shows that it is, in reality, a very queer thing, abounding in metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties” (Marx, 71). I can imagine ‘bourgeois’ political economists reading this in 1867 wondering what the hell is ‘queer’ about a commodity? I can envision them asking “what in the world does a commodity, a category of political economy, have to do with metaphysics and theology?” Before I analyze what Marx means, let us look at some of the things he doesn’t mean, but which, as usual, people think he does.
There are a few ways the commodity fetish is misunderstood, but the most prominent misunderstanding describes the fetishism of commodities as a sort of ‘false consciousness’ which takes us over when we engage in the market; a sort of ‘illusion’ that occurs when we idealize the products we consume, or the products we are faced with the opportunity to consume. The commodity fetish is understood here as a sort of libidinal connection to products. It is as if one could watch Confessions of a Shopaholic and retrieve the same message Marx is proposing in this section.
This is not, in my view, what Marx means by the fetishism of commodities. It is not an illusion which functions as a filter to distort our view of the world. If that were the case, as Michael Heinrich notes, “false consciousness must disappear once the real conditions have been explained” (Heinrich, 71). This is not, however, the case. We don’t become immune to the ‘false consciousness’ of the commodity fetish after reading Marx’s Capital. Instead of thinking of the commodity fetish as a subjective experience of ‘false consciousness,’ Marx holds the fetish is in the world itself. It has an objective presence in the social relations of capitalist commodity production.
Marx uses the example of the construction of a table. When wood is formed into a table, there is no mystery present. We have a “common, every-day thing” (Marx, 71). However, “so soon as it steps forth as a commodity, it is changed into something transcendent” (Ibid – my italic). Notice here how he is very explicit that it is the object itself that is changed into something transcendent when it becomes a commodity. It isn’t, again, simply a matter of a mental illusion or false consciousness.
“The mystical character of a commodity,” Marx will go on to say, “does not originate, therefore, in their use-value” (Ibid). If it was simply a result of the use value of the good, all things – regardless of whether they were commodities or not – would have ‘metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties.’ Instead, what makes a commodity such a queer thing is the relation which makes a good into a commodity in the first place – its exchangeability. It is here where a good becomes a sinnlich übersinnliches ding (sensuous extrasensory thing). As Marx says: “whence, then, arises the enigmatic character of the product of labour, so soon as it assumes the form of commodities? Clearly from this form itself” (Ibid, 71-2).
For a good to carry an ‘exchange value’ means that the specific type of concrete labor and materials which were necessary to create that good have fallen to the background. What matters in exchange value is not the type of work, but the socially necessary time it takes for that work to produce its product. In essence, qualitatively different forms of work, producing objects with qualitatively different utilities, are all homogenized and differentiated only quantitatively, that is, by the amount of socially necessary labor time materialized in the work. The homogenization of the human element of the commodity creates the conditions where “the social relations of the producers… and the social character of their labour” takes “the form of a social relation between products” (Ibid, 72). The human source of the commodity disappears, it becomes absorbed and metamorphized into the thing itself, appearing “as an objective character stamped upon the product” (Ibid). In the commodity a “definite social relation between men” assumes “the fantastic form of a relation between things” (Ibid).
A good analogy to such a queer relation can be found in the religious fetish, wherein human creations (the Gods) are disconnected (in their being and in their qualities) from their human creators. The relationships are seen not as relations between human constructions, but relations between “independent beings endowed with life” (Ibid). A prominent example of this phenomenon can be seen in the religious alienation Ludwig Feuerbach depicts in The Essence of Christianity. Nonetheless, the point is that because this fetishism “attaches itself” to the “products of labor, so soon as they are produced as commodities,” in a system of commodity production, this fetish has an objective character (Ibid).
For instance, in the movie ‘They Live,’ the protagonist John Nada finds a box of glasses which when worn show the real message behind social symbols (e.g., advertisement for vacation reads ‘reproduce and consume,’ the dollar reads ‘this is your God,’ etc.). In his reaction to the film, Slavoj Žižek’s The Perverts Guide to Ideology provides a helpful analysis of these “ideology critique glasses,” which aids our understanding of how the commodity fetish has been misunderstood. Ideology, Žižek states, is usually thought of as a set of glasses distorting our view of the real world. Therefore, ideology critique is usually framed as the removal of these glasses, an act which allows a spontaneous and direct engagement with the real world. Similarly, the central misunderstanding of the commodity fetish is that it is merely an illusion we hold, once we remove the illusion from our understanding the fetish disappears. This way of thinking about ideology critique is, as Žižek notes, ideological as well.
Instead, as the movie rightly depicts, ideology is objectively in the world. The task of critique is beyond the commonsensical and spontaneous. Critique is an often-painful addition which mediates between us and the world in such a manner that provides us with insights into the objective limitations of the objective world. The commodity fetish is not a distorted view of the world. It is not ‘fixed’ through easy liberal consumptive practices; through knowing where your cow died and where your eggs came from. The commodity fetish is an objective reality in a world dominated by commodity production. It takes critique to see this, but a revolution to change it.
Karl Marx (1867), Capital Vol. I, International Publishers (1974).
Michael Heinrich (2004), An Introduction to the Three Volumes of Karl Marx’s Capital, Monthly Review (2012).
Note* I'd also highly recommend reading Thomas RIggins' article on the same topic, included as an afterward to his recent book, Reading the Classical Texts of Marxism, published by the Midwestern Marx Publishing Press.
Carlos L. Garrido is a Cuban American PhD student and instructor in philosophy at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale (with an M.A. in philosophy from the same institution). His research focuses include Marxism, Hegel, and early 19th century American socialism. His academic work has appeared in Critical Sociology, The Journal of American Socialist Studies, and Peace, Land, and Bread. Along with various editors from The Journal of American Socialist Studies, Carlos is currently working on a serial anthology of American socialism. His popular theoretical and political work has appeared in Monthly Review Online, CovertAction Magazine, The International Magazine, The Marx-Engels Institute of Peru, Countercurrents, Janata Weekly, Hampton Institute, Orinoco Tribune, Workers Today, Delinking, Electronicanarchy, Friends of Socialist China, Associazione Svizerra-Cuba, Arkansas Worker, Intervención y Coyuntura, and in Midwestern Marx, which he co-founded and where he serves as an editorial board member. As a political analyst with a focus on Latin America (esp. Cuba) he has been interviewed by Russia Today and has appeared in dozens of radio interviews in the US and around the world.
Yellow Journalism of the Hearst Era Is Alive and Well in the 21st Century
There is a wise old maxim that says, “The first step on the road to wisdom is to call things by their right names.” So, let’s do that.
“Fake News” has been around a long while: The New York Sun’s “Great Moon Hoax” of 1835 is a good (and amusing) example. An absolute falsehood and fantasy was published as fact to a credulous public who ate it up.
The Sun claimed that life existed on the Moon.
The practice of publishing false stories for financial or political motives has probably been around much longer than that, but today it has been elevated to a science and an art form, a black art form, that is truly one of the greatest threats to the future of Humanity in the world today. It is mass brainwashing on a global scale, abetted by science and technology, a war on human consciousness, a concentrated and deliberate attack on people’s ability to see reality and to discern fact from lies. It is a war against the truth.
It has been correctly said that a respect for the truth is the basis for all morality, so a war against the truth is a war against morality, against all that is good and decent. Without an ability to see reality and detect lies, without a moral compass, people are literally no more than dumb beasts, mules to be worked and exploited by their owners, or sheep to be led to the slaughter. “Fake news” is a term a bit too cute and cozy for the black art of intentionally erasing the very intellect and morality that makes us human. It seeks to dumb down and degrade Humanity to the point where people are no longer human. And that point is fast approaching and, for many, is already here.
I want to give three concrete and irrefutable examples of genuine Nazi propaganda, produced by the West (U.S. and EU), about the war in Ukraine in just the last month, which not only attempt to cover up the crime of intentional mass murder attacks on civilians, but go further still and attempt to blame the actual victims for the crimes of U.S., EU and Ukrainian Nazis. You will see by these three indisputable examples how disinformation is used as a truly evil weapon, how to defend against it, and how to destroy it with the truth.
Example #1 La Stampa (Italy) FRONT PAGE PHOTO – “THE CARNAGE”
The Italian newspaper La Stampa published the photo above on March 15, 2022, showing a horrific scene of mass murder of civilians by illegal cluster munitions delivered to a city center by a ballistic missile. Some 24 civilians (including an entire family with two kids) were murdered, and dozens more gravely injured.
The headlines in red across the top—“Russia kills 400 in Mariupol, Kiev prepares for Russian attack.”
Emblazoned across the photo, “The Carnage.” The photo is real, and while the headlines are intentionally misleading, they are not outright lies. They do not have to be. The liars at La Stampa do not have to actually lie; most Europeans, like most U.S. citizens, lead busy lives, don’t look beyond the headlines, and are easily deceived by nothing more than insinuations. And propagandists like those at La Stampa know it.
I could tell you that the photo actually shows the results of a Ukrainian Army war crime by a Tochka-U missile that was intentionally launched at Donetsk city center around 12:00 noon on Monday, March 14th, that in fact it was intended to kill many times more than the 24 civilians who were murdered.
La Stampa misled its readers by failing to report on the right city where the attacks were launched—a city, Donetsk, that Ukraine, and not Russia, has been shelling for eight years.
I could tell you that the weekend before, fake Ukrop (Ukrainian Association of patriots) troll accounts on Russian and other social media spread false stories that the Democratic People’s Republic (DPR) administration would be giving news about the status of DPR soldiers at 12:30 on March 14th at the Administration Building in central Donetsk, and wives, mothers, daughters of soldiers should come there then.
This message was also sent by text message to specific phones of female family members of soldiers by spoofed DPR Administration accounts. I can confirm it, the daughter of one of my friends serving at the Front showed me the exact message on her phone.
I could tell you that the missile was intercepted by DPR air defense, and only two cannisters of cluster bomb sub-munitions actually detonated when they hit about 500 meters from the Administration Building, on University Avenue in central Donetsk and, had the missile reached its target, the death toll would have been in the hundreds.
Maybe you would believe me, maybe some would not. But I can show you two photos that prove it.
Russell Bentley standing on the same spot as the grieving husband in the La Stampa photo. [Source: Photo courtesy of Russell Bentley]
The beret and scarf of the grieving man’s wife. She died here. I took this photo myself. [Photo courtesy of Russell Bentley]
Now what do you think of La Stampa’s work? Not only trying to cover up the intentional mass murder of civilians, but blaming the victims and their defenders for the very crimes of the Nazis that La Stampa and Italy support.
This is a black lie, a damned lie, literally the exact opposite of the truth. And the vast majority of Western citizens lap up these lies.
And FYI, the photographer who took the heart-rending photo La Stampa stole was neither paid nor credited, or even asked permission to use his photo for this Italian version of Nazi propaganda.
Well, you might say, it is an isolated incident, mistakes happen. It is neither isolated nor a mistake. The editors of La Stampa knew exactly where the photo was from and what it showed, and they used it intentionally to lie. And pseudo-journalists do the same thing in the USA.
EXAMPLE #2 NEW YORK POST – “RUSSIA CONTINUES BOMBARDMENT OF UKRAINIAN CITIES"
Again, but an even more blatant intention to mislead, to lie. The photo, again, is the aftermath of a Ukrainian missile attack on a civilian residential area of Donetsk, not far from my home in Petrovsky District.
Another terrorist attack by Ukrop Nazis against civilian targets, blamed by U.S. Nazi propagandists on DPR and Russian defenders of the very civilians the Ukrops attacked and murdered.
Can I prove it? Well, yes I can. Here I am, in front of the exact same apartment building, hit by the Ukrop Nazi missiles. An honest headline would read, “Ukraine Continues Bombardment of Donbas Cities.”
Russell Bentley in front of apartment building in Donetsk where he lives. The apartment was bombed by Ukraine which has been shelling Donetsk for eight years. The New York Post, however, did not specify the city where the building was located and suggested it had been bombed by Russia. [Source: Photo courtesy of Russell Bentley]
But these Nazi propagandists do not stop at simply blaming their victims for their own crimes, that dirty double-cross is not as low as they can go, not by a long shot. They even, in a trans-Atlantic quadruple-cross conspiracy, connive to discredit truthful reports by adding their own logo to honest news and then announcing to the world that the report is not theirs. Behold…
Example #3: Kramatorsk Railway Attack
On April 8, 2022, a Tochka-U ballistic missile (same type used in the University Avenue attack in Donetsk, three weeks before) was fired at the Kramatorsk railway station as four thousand local civilians waited to evacuate the city before fighting broke out.
Some 57 civilians were killed and 109 wounded, in another wanton attack that had no military purpose, but fit hand in glove with the usual false-flag terror attacks for which Ukraine has become well known.
The proof was and is overwhelming. There is zero doubt that the missile was a Tochka-U and that it came from Ukrainian-held territory. Ukraine continues to use Tochka-U missiles in the Donbas War while the Donbas Republics have none, and Russia retired the last of theirs years ago, in 2019, in favor of the much more effective and accurate Iskander, which Russia has used in Operation Z.
[Photo courtesy of Russell Bentley]
Written on the side of the missile, in Russian, were the words “За Детей,” “For The Kids.” How stupid would someone have to be to believe that the Russians would not only commit a war crime against the ethnic Russian-Ukrainian citizens from the pro-Russian part of Ukraine, but would blatantly add insult to injury and literally implicate themselves before the world by writing something so despicable, in Russian, for the world to see?
Furthermore, there are scientific methods of determining the direction a missile came from, including the shape of the crater and where the tail section lands in relation to the warhead. These methods are standard, simple, and used by all militaries around the world. And like the laws of physics, they apply everywhere, and in every situation the same. In the photo below, showing the trajectory of the missile fired at Kramatorsk, everything to the left of the red line is territory under the control of the Ukrainian Army.
For a full listing of all the evidence that proves the missile, S/N Ш91579 was fired by the 19th Ukrainian Missile Brigade, based near Dobropolia, some 45 kilometers from Kramatorsk, see this excellent article by former U.S. Marine officer and UN Weapons Expert Scott Ritter. There are plenty of other articles too, (HERE, HERE, and HERE) listing the proof and indications that it was a Ukrop false-flag attack on their own civilians. Here are some examples:
1 – The “Smell Test.” WHY would Russians attack ethnic Russian civilians in an area known for its broad support of Russia?
2 – The fake “For The Kids” inscription would be the LAST thing Russians would ever do. Rocket troops are among the most highly trained and disciplined in any army. If the Russians were going to commit a war crime against civilians, do you really think they would sign their work for the world to see?
3 – The physical evidence proves the trajectory of the missile, and that trajectory points directly to Dobropolia, deep inside Ukrainian-held territory, where the 19th Ukrainian Missile Brigade is based. It is impossible for the Russians to have fired a missile from there.
4 – The Russians retired their aged stock of Tochka-U missiles years ago in favor of the Iskander, which they now use.
5 – The Ukrainians still have and use Tochka-U missiles, and have done so on multiple occasions throughout the eight-year Donbas War.
6 – The serial number (S/N) of the Tochka-U fired at Kramatorsk is in the same series and numerically very close to S/Ns of other Tochka-U missiles also known to have been fired by Ukrainian armed forces during the Donbas War.
7 – The exact S/N found on the missile in Kramatorsk was recorded in official documents as having been transferred from the USSR to Ukraine in 1991.
8 – There is zero evidence that would support any theory other than a Ukrainian false-flag attack on the civilians of Kramatorsk. None.
That is a tough nut for the West’s pro-Nazi propagandists to crack. All the evidence proves they did it, beyond any reasonable doubt, and there is no credible evidence of any sort that would support an alternative theory. So what do they do? Simply make things up, of course, as usual, but with a twist. This time, they make up fake news about themselves, and try to palm it off as Russian-produced “disinfo.”
Thus, we see real, first-person, on-the-scene videos of the real aftermath of the Kramatorsk attack, video of the real S/N, all edited together, but with a fake BBC intro and logo added, and then spread all over the internet with the caption, “Look! The BBC finally told the truth for once!!!”
So the professional liars can subsequently “debunk” the fake “BBC video,” along with all the real facts the actual real videos contain. And then literally all Western propaganda outlets smear the story about the fake video all over the web. The search phrase “BBC fake video missile Kramatorsk” brings back 55,000 links on Google, 24 million on Bing, and a whopping 25 million results on Yahoo.
The Western propagandists claim the Russians added the fake BBC logo, but why would Russia discredit real proof of what happened by adding a fake BBC logo. The BBC has a well-earned reputation as one of the most mendacious media outlets in the world; their lies are legion. So why would Russia discredit itself and its own compelling evidence by adding a fake logo of known propagandists? Answer—they didn’t.
An understanding of the simple fact that modern Western media are the product and descendants of Joseph Goebbels and Ed Bernays is the appropriate foundation for regarding anything Western media presents as fact. Do not expect the BBC to “tell the truth for once;” do not expect paid and pathological liars to tell the truth, even once. Do not expect the leopard to change its spots. Understand they are the enemies of truth and morality, the enemies of Humanity, your enemies, who do everything in their power to deceive and confuse you, in order to enslave you. Respect for the truth is the basis of all morality. Respect and defend it!
The List of Logical Fallacies is also an excellent primer of modern propaganda techniques. But when used by professional liars—intentionally—they are no longer “fallacies” but, rather, lies, attacks on truth and reality, and on human consciousness.
Fritz Hippler explained the secret of modern propaganda, and he would know. He was the Chief of Filmmaking at the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda during the years of Nazi Germany. As he put it, “The secret of propaganda is to simplify complex or complicated things, to make them as simple as possible, so even less ingenious men can understand what I mean. And then, repeat it, repeat it, repeat it every day. That’s the secret of modern propaganda—simplify and repetition.” (Click on the link: hear and see him say it himself. He’s very convincing.)
Russell Bentley is a former Texan who holds passports from Russia, the USA and the Donetsk People’s Republic. Russell came to Donbass in 2014 and served in the VOSTOK Battalion and XAH Spetsnaz Battalion through 2015. He then transitioned into the Information War, as a writer and video reporter, countering Western propaganda about the situation in Ukraine and Donbass. He currently works as an accredited war correspondent in the DPR, is married and lives in a small house with a big garden, 5 Km from the frontline in the ongoing Donbass War. Russell can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
this article was republished from Covert Action Magazine.
2022 marks 100 years since fascism first came into power.(1) At the end of October, 1922, King Victor Emmanuel III ceded the Prime Ministership of Italy to Benito Mussolini, the head of the National Fascist Party, effectively passing political power on to the fascists.
Italian fascism began as a motley nationalist movement, with few definitive left or right features, united only in its support for Italy entering the First World War.
In the aftermath of the war, the fascist movement was shaped as a reaction to the development of a revolutionary left. With industrial workers occupying factories, rural workers rebelling against landowners, and revolutionary socialists vying for leadership of the workers’ movement, Italian capitalists and big landowners struck a deal with the fascisti to serve as a paramilitary assault force– squadristi— against the revolutionary left. The Bolshevik Revolution, as a recent historic social cataclysm, loomed over Italian elites, conjuring their worst nightmare.
Without the conjunction of a successful socialist revolution in a major country, a militant working class inspired by the example, and a ruling class desperate to forestall a Bolshevik-like revolution, Italian fascism might have remained a minor cult, dissipating with the restoration of a stable post-war liberal order.
No doubt the rich and powerful of Italy thought that they could use the fascists for their own purposes. But they were willing to deliver political power to the fascists and allow them to restructure the state for the prize of eliminating the revolutionary threat.
It was this desperate fear of both the reordering of property relations and the destruction of class dominance that created the unique moment in 1922 when fascism went from a movement to a political party to a ruling order.
And it was this historically new fusion of capital and other forms of property with a uniquely modern absolutism, nationalism, and populism that defined Italian fascism after 1922.
Of course, there were ultra-right, ultra-nationalist movements before the rise of fascism.
In France, for example, after the defeat in the Franco-Prussian War and the fall of the Paris Commune, many French elites sought a restoration of France’s “glory.” The burst of nationalism took many forms: revanchism (or revenge on Germany), anti-Semitism (blaming Jews for the tarnished “glory”), Bonapartism (the demand for a strong leader), and monarchism (the restoration of the monarchy).
The movement to restore an imagined glorious France coalesced around a military leader named Georges Ernest Boulanger, noted for his persistent devotion to going to war with Germany and settling accounts. Boulangisme thrived for a few years, adding elements of populism to its nationalist agenda, even attracting many former leftists.
Superficially, Boulangisme resembles later fascist movements, and a few bourgeois historians see it as such. But it lacked the two vital features that are characteristic of fascism and its time. First, there was no imminent anti-capitalist revolutionary threat posed to the existing order demanding a ruling class reaction. And second, the ruling class perceived no existential danger sufficient to discard republicanism– bourgeois democracy.
In January of 1889, Boulanger’s opportunity arose, but his hesitation and the opposition of most of the ruling class and its agency thwarted a coup.
It is instructive that Boulangisme has gone down in history as a footnote to the nineteenth century.
The Bolshevik revolution and the rise of revolutionary Communist and Workers’ Parties created the conditions for an extremist movement like National Fascism in Italy to be adopted by the Italian ruling class, while the Boulangisme movement is lost to historical obscurity. Reaction becomes fascism only when revolutionary socialism mounts an existential threat to capitalism.
The rise of Nazism fully underscores this dynamic that we came to generically call “fascism.” The rise of ultra-nationalist, revanchist sects led by World War I veterans was commonplace in post-war Germany. The Nazi phenomenon competed successfully in rising above others with its audacity and a significant element of populism captured in its name: national socialism.
As in Italy, the rise of Communism inspired some capitalists, including a group of leading industrialists, to sponsor Nazism’s activity as a hedge against an aroused working class and the prospect of revolution. Until the Great Depression struck Germany, its rulers successfully suppressed the Nazi Party (the party was banned and Hitler imprisoned in its effort to copy Italian fascism’s insurrectionary march on Rome) and the party received less than 3% of the vote in the 1928 federal election.
But the economic downturn stressed the German bourgeois parties that had no answer to the economic collapse, to the ensuing unemployment and worker militancy, and to a Communist Party growing in size and influence.
The Nazi Party, drawing greater support from a desperate ruling class and a déclassé petty bourgeoisie, was seen as a bulwark against revolution. As desperation rose, the bourgeois parties threw their support behind an aging ultra-nationalist former general friendly to Hitler, Erich von Hindenburg, electing him president of the republic.
It was only a matter of time before Hindenburg, no friend of republicanism, would hand the chancellorship to Hitler, following the example of the Italian king.
These two European examples of the rise of ultra-nationalist “saviors” of bourgeois rule constitute the template of classical fascism. Throughout Europe in the inter-war period, other responses to the revolutionary left led to other extreme-right regimes defending the ruling elites against an ascendant workers’ movement. Such rightist movements were led by Bonapartist figures like Mannerheim, Pilsudski, Horthy, Salazar, and Franco. While none follow strictly the route to power or the character of rule of classical fascism, they share the essential feature of defending bourgeois rule against the revolutionary left while disposing of bourgeois democracy to ensure their success.
Whether one chooses to call Francoism (1939-1975 in Spain) or Pinochetism (1973-1990 in Chile) “fascist” or “quasi-fascist” is a quibble, since they both share with classical fascism the destruction of bourgeois democracy in response to the perceived threat to the capitalist order.
Since the demise of the Soviet Union and the decline or dissolution of mass Communist Parties in most countries, ruling classes have neither sought nor supported the overthrow of bourgeois democracy because of an existential threat from the left. Nonetheless, a broad spectrum of leaders and commentators from right to left have attached the term “fascist” to other political figures or movements. In the extreme, “fascist” or “fascism” has simply become an epithet to demonize an opponent.
More subtly, “fascism” is said to be a right-wing, nationalist, and/or racist movement resembling some of the features of some of the fascist movements of the twentieth century. This approach is especially common with academics, liberals, center-left politicians, or others who refuse to concede the critical place of anti-Bolshevik, anti-Communist ideology at the core of classical fascist thinking and its operational utility in garnering the sponsorship of the bourgeoisie.
Typically, theoreticians– academic and otherwise– develop a checklist of features distilled from a superficial examination of Nazism ripped from its historical context. Chauvinism, political violence, conservative social values, a cult of personality, etc., are all contingent features of historical fascism; but none alone or taken together were incompatible with or absent from the preceding Weimar Republic or other prior historical eras that witnessed the rise of ultra-nationalist movements. It was the fear of revolution and a compliant bourgeois ruling order that served as the necessary elements to bring fascism to power.
Of course, it is important to recognize as extremely dangerous the nostalgia for historical fascism, as exhibited by the American Nazi Party, the National Socialist White Peoples’ Party, and the many other US “Nazi” organizations that have been spun off. In the same way, the current Ukrainian cult around 20th-century fascist Stepan Bandera is extremely dangerous. With the passage of time distancing the Ukrainian people from the sordid history of the OUN and Nazi collaboration, the promotion of ultra-nationalist groups by opportunist politicians and Western interventionists is not only dangerous, but criminal. They will occupy the same place in hell reserved for the US, NATO, and Israeli imperialists that unleashed fanatical, ultra-conservative jihadists on the world.
Misunderstanding fascism, its origins, and its logic can disable the left. Western leftists have drawn lessons– both good and bad– from the united, anti-fascist front adopted by the Communist International in the mid-1930s.
Communists then understood the nature of fascism, connecting it to the vulnerability of capitalism and its goal: “…to bury Marxism, the revolutionary movement of the working class…”. Led by the veteran anti-fascist Georgi Dimitrov, Communists resolved to put aside differences with other working-class organizations– principally social democracy– to combat the threat from fascism and the growing danger of world war. This became an elastic tactic, expanding to advocate unity with any non-working-class elements who stood staunchly against fascism:
…when the scattered proletarian detachments, at the initiative of the Communists, join hands for the struggle against the common enemy, when the working class, marching as a unit, begins to act together with the peasantry, the lower middle classes and all democratic elements, on the basis of the People’s Front program, then the offensive of the fascist bourgeoisie is confronted with an insurmountable barrier. (Dimitrov, G., Against Fascism and War, p. 103)
It is clear from this excerpt from Dimitrov’s essay People’s Front that a popular front is broad, indeed. But it is also clear that it is defensive and tactical, meant to stave off the fascist threat.
Yet, Dimitrov also intimates in other passages that the United Front tactic may be a transitional form leading to overthrowing capitalism and a corrective to Communist isolation from the masses.
It was this ambiguity that carried over into the post-World War II era and led many Communist and Workers’ Parties to adopt popular frontism as a strategic approach or as a stage in the transition to socialism. Whether it took the form of an anti-monopoly front or party, a broad labor party, or opportunistically, a “historical compromise” or “Common Program” with bourgeois parties, like the strategy of the self-destructed Italian Communist Party or the now nearly spent French Communist Party, popular frontism became a widely accepted strategy, especially with the Western left. The debate over this strategy continues to this day within the Communist movement.
But it was the application of the united-front tactic against fascism that has proven most problematic since the decline of the social democratic left and the rise of a new fundamentalist right after the economic crisis of the 1970s. In the US and the UK, Reagan and Thatcher were the embodiment of the right turn toward ultra-nationalism, chauvinism, vulgar individualism, deregulation and privatization. Given the gains made by the socialist countries, the victory in Indochina, the growing popularity of socialism in emerging countries, and even a revolution in the West (Portugal), some sensed a “whiff of fascism” in this rightward turn, a right reaction to a growing threat from the left.
After the fall of the Soviet Union– the bulwark of socialism– and the accompanying disarray of the Communist Parties, the rightward turn accelerated, realigning the Western bourgeois political parties. New Democrats, New Labor, New Social Democrats moved farther right to accommodate the rightward turn, rather than fight it.
Rather than rebuilding a vital left around the interests of working people, rather than standing apart from the rightward drift, rather than filling the void left by the capitulation of the tradition center-left, many leftists painted the right as fascist, seemingly justifying laying the socialist project aside and joining with the bourgeois parties in defeating the most extreme elements of the right. The historic left project of defeating capitalism and replacing it with a peoples’ economy was to be deferred until the right (the fascist right!) was dead and buried. This was sold as revisiting the 1930s United Front against Fascism.
With the rise of right-wing populist parties and toxic personalities like Orban, Trump, and Johnson, the “fight against fascism” reached its zenith. Much of the twenty-first-century reshuffled left embraced electoral alliances with bourgeois institutions and political parties against right-wing populism under the banner of uniting against the right. In every case, this strategy helped entrench insipid center-right politicians at a moment of political crisis and growing popular anger and alienation.
This analysis and strategy are wrong on many accounts.
Most importantly, it misrepresents fascism, ripping the ideology from its historical roots founded in a desperate life-and-death struggle with the revolutionary left. Today’s left is far remote from posing an existential challenge to the capitalist system and will remain so if it continues to organize against the phantasm of an imminent fascist threat.
Secondly, the current iteration of bourgeois democracy has been corrupted and drained of democratic content to the extent that while it presents a formidable obstacle to any popular revolutionary surge, it is a well-oiled pathway for the dictates of ensconced ruling classes. That is not to deny that all the bourgeois factions engaged in the electoral game “play” the system to retain power with little regard for the procedural “rules” heralded by bourgeois democratic institutions. It is not necessary to discard bourgeois democracy to thwart change in our corrupted political environment.
Thirdly, the populist right has made no serious effort to create the kind of ideologically-bound squadrista typical of historical fascism. As Diana Johnstone wrote recently in response to the charge that Marine Le Pen, the French right-wing populist, would “confiscate power” and never give it up:
And how would she do that? Her party is not very strong and entirely based on electoral politics. There is no militia organized to use force for political purposes (as in the case of real historic fascists). There are plenty of counter-powers in France, including political parties, hostile media, a largely left-leaning magistrature, the armed forces (linked to NATO), big business and finance which have never supported Le Pen, the entertainment industry, etc., etc.
No one could seriously compare the disorganized, fumbling crew that made an unwelcome visit to the Capitol on January 6, 2021 to the organized, disciplined 30,000 Blackshirts who marched on Rome a hundred years ago.
The exaggerated “threat of fascism” reflects a lack of confidence that the people of the advanced capitalist countries will embrace true, qualitative, revolutionary changes, that the anti-capitalist left can compete for the loyalty, votes, and actions of working people. Instead of building a bold movement for socialism, the timid, despairing left chooses an unrequited affair with center forces in a quixotic struggle against a far-off, hazy foe.
This is not to minimize the harm that the unrelenting rightward march of the bourgeois parties in the advanced capitalist countries has brought on working people over many decades. But that rightward push must be met in the battleground of ideas with bold, aggressive proposals that go beyond a rear-guard defense; it must advance the interests of working people; and it must provide a vision beyond the resignation that there is no alternative to the tune-up of a bankrupt capitalist system.
If we win working people to such a vision, a day will undoubtedly come when we will truly encounter the ugly face of fascism.
(1) For an entertaining, but remarkably sophisticated account of the rise of fascism and its logic, there is nothing better than to watch Bernardo Bertolucci’s film, 1900. This 5 ½ hour epic captures the class dynamics from Italian fascism’s roots to its defeat in 1944. Forgive the silly historical compromise ending that Bertolucci undoubtedly developed from the Italian Communist Party’s 1976 program.
This article was republished from Marxism-Leninism Today.
False Unity and Eroticism of Contemporary Super-Imperialism: The Tasks of the Anti-Imperialist Left. By: Fernando XimenesRead Now
The dreams of Western imperialism after World War II and the ‘end of history’ enigmatic-thesis after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 promised a more general happiness. A tolerant multicultural cosmopolitanism has oppositely led into a transcontinental alliance of imperial ethno-nationalism. Is this not reflecting in the peak of xenophobic, racist, white-supremacist of Euro-Atlantic modernity and recent intensification of NATO and AUKUS-directing process of identity and otherness toward Russia East and China’s south as archaic, ignorant, savage, backward that need to implanted Western democratic civility and free market neoliberal capitalism? – This all serves the goals of accumulation at world scale and empire-building.
Hence, the process of otherness, belonging, loyalty, duty or all the fascistic and authoritarian elements of culture has embedded within the essence of imperialism and manifested as a dominant form of its expansion across the world. Therefore, fascism and authoritarianism is not an extension of capitalism, outside of it, it is rather, an inherent essence of capitalist imperialism.
This all to said that, growing imperialist eroticism has fuelled their inflammatory passion to construct otherness and the inevitable needs to dominate. Behind all these madness lies the ‘erotic energies’ of capital required to settle and rule everywhere – narcissistic requirements of the ruling oligopolies of the center. The more expansionist, aggressive and global repression toward sovereignty state of the South is rooted in the over-expanding conflict and contradiction within the inter-imperial order itself. The long economic depression followed with hysterical frustration of the imperialist states that fomented permanent aggression and of course, growing risk to third global war. Thus, the ongoing US-lead global imperialism war on Russia and China was founded by long sustained relations of domination and subordination between the imperialist states. I referred to this case as false unity of imperialism.
Since the middle of twenty century, the US has not only waged war, pillaging, plundering, intervening, and dominating the third world of Latin America, Asia, and Africa, but also an economic war against Europe – for the current crisis in Ukraine, US has turned the allies to engage in war that will paid with the preservation of their submission to US command, and paid the prices for US strategy of empire-building.
The recent US-led NATO war against Russia aimed at China as well. The strategy of isolating China is not just simply by destabilizing and removing Russia from China in making a counter-hegemonic alliance, but it is also serving to block the EU from making a stable mutual trade with China and Russia. This will open the chances to prevent the greater Eurasian prosperity and multipolarity without US leadership, that’s including the prevention of further China-promoting Belt and Road Initiative.
In another, to destabilize Russia, to topple the existing regime in Kremlin, is to continue recycle it back into a client peripheral capitalist state serving the US-imperialist triad strategic goals, ways that will further isolate, weaken and again, turn China into a backward periphery status, complement US and western monopoly needs for capital accumulation and empire-building. In short, the anti-hegemonic coalition of China, Russia and the third world socialist democratic regime aims at creating an alternative non-neoliberal world without NATO and US central command.
It is important to note, Russia is not an imperialist state that engages in inter-imperialist war, or partitioned world territorial division. To label countries as imperialist simply with ‘exporting capital’ is flawed, very non-dialectic, since most of the countries, even poorer third world countries are also exporting capital. So in all, it is an inter-imperialist alliance of US-West Europe-Japan war against the anti-imperialist front of China-Russia and other global south countries.
In this, I would like to call for all the peace-loving anti-hegemonic countries, to all socialist states, and all the peoples of the Global South and working class struggle in the North to struggle in order to recover the popular and democratic sovereignty by delinking from imperialist neoliberal economic order and more importantly, to de-dollarize the economy. That’s because the international monetary system based on the dollar as a world reserve, its will to provide credit and taxing across the world, to impose austerity, sanction, or a more general economic line of Washington Consensus, is the foundation of US economic imperialism coupled with military form of imperialism.
To de-dollarize is critical to the international class of struggle among capital and labor, people of the South with the North monopolies. Since the US cannot run out of money, it can print all the money, and it can recycle all the dollars that it has pumped into the world economy. Once they can recycle back into the US treasury bonds as monetary and savings (foreign countries buying US treasury securities with US dollar) will ended up financing US spending abroad, its balance of payments deficit, in short, subsidizing the US global militarization by investing billions of dollars to military expenditure and military bases in all the continents. This historical facts is central to US imperialism since 1972, and it started to end since the US decided to seize the Russian assets, and we expect many more third world countries will decide to stop depositing or disinvesting in the US anymore, from now on.
That’s all because, US has moved from world ‘creditor-state’ to ‘debtor-state’ that makes all nations pay for its government policies abroad – that’s because we live in dollarized neoliberal imperialism. So by maintaining the dollar-based international monetary order, we are doomed to participate in US global war, intervention, occupation, proxies and domination toward the third world countries, to topple down the socialist state and sovereignty anti-hegemonic state such as Russia. We are participating in financing US continuing militarization of the world, its worldwide invention of fascistic and right-wing counter-revolutionary regime across the world. We are financing the military base and operations that keep us in check, subjugation.
For now, the US’s oil, agriculture, financial and arms-industrial monopolies has benefited more from the sanctions. The recent drop of production, supply or energies export by Russia will affect the ‘accumulation of world scale’, but it will underdeveloped many third world countries, a conditions that will enabled imperialist economic diplomacy to impose neoliberal austerity, structural adjustment, debts and so on. But now, it also led to blowback consequences, boomerang to the West. More countries are protesting and resisting western sanctions. In fact, the US has lost all wars it has initiated in the beginning of the twenty first century. Michael Hudson have claimed “the era of military occupation is over. The mode of control is financial”. That is why, alternative to build a world without the US dollar presented by China and Russia is untolerable.
Since 1932, 1972, and now in 2022, shows a continued march of US empire-building based on dollar hegemony, and Western imperialists have globalized its war of oppression, plunder and pillaging the third world more penetrative. We are living in the very dangerous time, and we have entered the most reaction time, a new cold war politics of war against all is reflected in the imperialist triad war of economy-ideology-military against China and Russia, a war between the forces of barbarity against socialism, between the most predatory, ‘vampire-like’ of neoliberal “financial capitalism” versus “industrial market socialism” led by China.
Comrades, we cannot have peace and socialism under financial imperialism, and to achieve both under the tyranny of imperialism is totally absurd. In addition, you also cannot have development and democracy without socialism – the democracy of the West aims to eternalize the regime of private property and endless accumulation for the 1%. It is a democracy that is empowering the minority financial tyranny in which few predatory oligarchies select the candidates for the masses to exercise their five minutes democratic power to elect the representative of industrial, oil and finance oligarchies for executive power. That is totally a false option, and that’s the essence of democracy in triad imperialist countries such as the US, Japan and Western Europe.
US, the guarding of world peace and democracy has almost a century, invent and arming the right-wing, fascist and Islamic jihadist to fight against the secular, people and proletarian state of East and South. From backing Suharto’s fascist war to crush PKI in Indonesia since 1965, and FRETILIN in East Timor in 1975, from financing extremist Jihadist against Soviet Union during the 1980s that gave birth to Al-qaeda and Taliban, to the recent ISIS against the Syrian regime, and so on. This has been continued in Ukraine against Russia, by utilizing the right-wing neoliberal regime and militia Nazism in Ukraine to play the US-NATO grand-strategy and oppressing the people.
Since the World War II, US military and intelligence operations has been directing to restore former Nazi elements and sustained a permanent Nazification of reactionary mass since the first decade of twenty century for it’s fight of destabilization against Russia. The Nazi and right-wing forces armed by US-NATO also oppressing the forces of socialist in Ukraine. They not only oppress the political left but also brutally sustained ethnically-based violence against Russian speaking people and people who resist Western and neoliberal in Ukraine. This reflects the total mechanism of the US war machine aimed at crushing the progressive mass popular movement and regime in the world by using the most reactionary, conservative and fascistic element in the society. So the war in Ukraine forced us to choose between anti imperialist-fascist camp, or to side with imperialist-fascist alliance co-opted with liberal lofty humanism and pseudo-critics of the most puritan western Leftist. I would like to quote my comrade Humberto Rodrigues in our email chat that, “Soon, everything will become more explicit and each one will adopt a side”
During the years, the dominant line and approach of US imperialism in Latin America and Asia is through economic aggression and domination, while the predominant form in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia is by militarism, either by military invasion, occupation, intervention, proxies, war, coup, covert intelligence operations, and nuclear deterrence etc. But to engage in both Russia and China, US approaches characterized as the mobilization of its total instruments and integral aspects of economic-military imperialism in its art of war. It is the ‘proxies war’ that serving the strategic economic interest of empire-building: that is by continuing destabilization and encroachment of anti-empire state of the East and South such as Russia and China; of reinforcing the accumulation of capital at world scale while sustaining austerity, privatization of common resources and underdevelopment across the Global South and internal colonization in the center; of protecting international capitalist property and business interest; preserving the US monetary imperialist order and reconstitution of its global hegemonic power: in short, preserving US’s unipolar world and illegitimate rule-based order marked with a generalized exploitation and permanent oppression of the people’s of the world, and not to count, despoliation of planetary ecology. It is also vice versa with the economic sanctions, of continuing war of economy against Russia and its ruble, to China Yuan, and to subjugated Euro in order to preserve the geopolitical advantages, militarization of the world and global apartheid under US military supremacy, so that the Pentagon will draw the world map “after its own image”, as Karl Marx has pointed out in the Communist Manifesto.
To end, I would like to quote Michael Hudson here. As he said “without such understanding (of 1932-1933 and 1972-1973 where the later, US using IMF, World Bank and its international economic, military and MNCs diplomacy to create a dollar standard, and turned allies to paid for US war, become a foundation of US imperialism modus operandi), no post-dollar can be created”. Since 1932, 1972, and now in 2022, shows a continued march of US empire-building based on dollar hegemony, and Western imperialists have globalized its war of oppression, plunder and pillaging the third world more penetrative. We are living in the very dangerous time, and we have entered the most reaction time, a new cold war politics of war against all is reflected in the imperialist triad war of economy-ideology-military against China and Russia, a war between the forces of barbarity against socialism, between the most predatory, ‘vampire-like’ of neoliberal “financial capitalism” versus “industrial market socialism” led by China.
The Ukraine crisis is not about Russia's war against Ukraine. It's a war of two systems, a war (economic war) that will not come to end in the next year or years to come. It is a war that will shape a new global economic system. World economic systems are facing ‘tectonic shifts’ and the transition has just started. Hence, in 1975, Nicolau Lobato, a leader of nationalist revolutionary movement of FRETILIN in Timor-Leste said “a great leap forward to our liberation is irreversible”. Hence, there is a radical shift in the world economic system, the horizon of world socialism is much closer to us now, decades ahead than ever.
My dear comrades, see you either in hell or communism!
Fernando Ximenes Member of Komite Esperansa, East Timor. The author can be reached at: email@example.com (Presentation at the Marxists Speak Out: Victory Day, against Nazism and Imperialism, yesterday and today, 14 May 2022)
This article was republished from Delinking.
Humanity finds itself at a crucial moment. It’s not only war and climate change that threaten life on our planet. Ideologies and some people do too.
We know that money and the production of wealth and well-being have created an ever greater and more profound gap between people, neighborhoods, cities and countries—a gap that has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
So, I’d like us (my fellow Bolivians and Indigenous peoples) to stop thinking of ourselves as the poor periphery of a process of globalization that has been unequal, colonial and racist.
In Bolivia, since the beginning of this century, we have battled some of the most important and decisive questions for the future of the human race: water, our sacred coca leaf, the goods we have which we can share thanks to the generosity of the Pachamama and, of course, the right to make decisions collectively about our lives.
Each battle, each sacrifice made, from places like El Alto and Cochabamba, has repeatedly confronted us with the owners of power and money.
At the core of each one of our struggles is our overriding need to stay alive, to finally construct a world fit for all of us to live with dignity.
Not tomorrow, today. Bolivia is the center of the world, as is North Dakota or Chiapas, or the poor neighborhoods of Caracas.
Yes, we are poor and far from the powerful centers of economic and political decision-making. But at the same time, we live in the center of the most important battles—battles fought from our smallest trenches, communities, neighborhoods, cities, jungles and forests.
What I’m describing to you isn’t merely a simple change in discourse. We want to think about ourselves differently, because if we do that at the core of the true struggle for survival, we can look at the world and at our sisters and our brothers with new eyes. If we are condemned to be at the margins, we will not get far.
It is by constructing in this way, from the hundreds and thousands of centers in which life is defined, that we fight for what is most essential: water, food, shelter, education and dignity—perhaps from this we can construct a new horizon. Weaving together our needs, our achievements, and even our errors, it’s possible to dismantle centuries of colonialism, the brutal pillaging of our territories, and the forced subjugation of our people.
In Bolivia, we have had to draw on our millennia-old Aymara and Quechua traditions and knowledge, for example, peoples who define much of what this country is. But it’s not only Indigenous peoples who have fought against imperialism, nor is it the obligation of one people to be the vanguard or the moral reserve for the human race.
We are what we are. We know, among ourselves, what our grandparents passed down to us. For that reason, from our lived experience, I invite you to begin this journey, firstly by reestablishing what is important so that we can begin to view ourselves like the people in the streets of Cochabamba were viewed after the Water Wars, knowing that it is possible and that there is another life waiting beyond the barricades, beyond the strikes and the roadblocks, and that is our common heritage.
This also happened to us in October 2003, when El Alto (near the capital city of La Paz) was converted, for a few moments, into the center of the world. With sticks and with stones, with their will, the Aymara rejected the selling off of our riches—a death prescribed by a corrupt and foolish president.
There, in this burning epicenter, everything that matters was at stake. The centers of power and global decision-making were our periphery. Without a doubt, I do not think we are the periphery. This mini-census is not intended to be paralyzing. Quite the opposite.
As a Bolivian, as an Aymara, as someone who has lived within one of the most decisive battles to change everything, I know that we can’t ignore the daily catastrophe we saw in Sri Lanka, in the boats filled with refugees in the Mediterranean, in that wall that separates North America from the rest of the Americas, in the Aboriginal territories of Australia, or in the famine experienced by the girls and boys in La Guajira in Colombia.
To be able to view the immensity of our horizon, to be able to daydream when we look upon the Andean Altiplano and its peaks, perhaps we should give ourselves a different perspective, a new center.
In Bolivia, like in so many other places, what’s at stake is not a set of goods or a piece of land, not even a government. We have fought to defend life itself, to nourish it, and to watch it grow with dignity. We do not know of anything more important to do in these difficult times.
We are the center of the world.
Adapted from Rogelio Mayta’s speech to the Progressive International’s Summit at the End of the World on May 12, 2022.
Rogelio Mayta is the foreign minister for the Plurinational State of Bolivia.
This article was produced by Globetrotter.
At first, there was an explosion. The six-story building vibrated, and a few wires snapped with the force of a whiplash. Immediately afterward, more than half of the facade collapsed without any warning, with each floor swallowing the one above as the ceiling crushed against the floor and the floor against the ceiling during the explosion, and a cloud of dust hid everything except the desperate screams of people. It seemed as if the ground had just opened and closed when two other buildings collapsed in the vicinity.
The causes of the incident at the Hotel Saratoga in Old Havana on May 6 were immediately known, although the investigation is still ongoing: it was a gas leak from a tanker truck servicing the hotel building, which was preparing to reopen during the second week of May. With no guests, the rooms were locked tight, and a simple click of the light switch would have been enough for the mass of accumulated gas to cause the shock wave that shattered the glass, marquetry and ornately decorated facade of green and white stucco, which was originally from the 19th century.
It is not the first time that Cuba has mourned tragedies like this. An accident like this might seem even minor in a country that has suffered more than 30 major hurricanes in half a century, dozens of deaths during the CIA sabotage of the steamship La Coubre in the port of Havana in 1960, the blowing up of a commercial airliner with 73 passengers in 1976, a chain of bombs in hotels and restaurants in the 1990s, the eternal blockade imposed by the United States government, a “rogue action,” as Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador calls it—that has naturalized the shortage of almost everything and made the pandemic more desperate, just to cite a few dramatic examples.
But no. The explosion at the Saratoga Hotel, with almost 100 injured victims—including 43 deaths as of May 11—is something else. What made this story in particular the big news story was not the explosion that was felt in Havana, nor the dense smoke that could be seen overhead, nor the feeling of vulnerability that it left us all experiencing, but rather it was the solidarity of the citizens who crowded around the area demanding a place to rescue the victims from the rubble, and donated their blood for the wounded or helped alleviate the anguish of the victims. Two hours after the accident, the line of volunteers in front of blood banks, polyclinics and hospitals exceeded thousands, and most of them were young people, the same ones who Miami’s propaganda says are leaving Cuba en masse.
While the government acts and the public press teaches immediacy and sensitivity, people from the streets, from all kinds of professions, continue to help their compatriots. We do not know the names of all those who were part of the rescue teams—many of them are volunteer firefighters—or of the teachers of the “Concepción Arenal” school that is right next to the hotel who protected their students, of the children who saved other children, of the passersby who helped the Saratoga workers and the families residing in the other two buildings that imploded in the neighborhood, nor the sniffer dogs that are still looking for the traces of at least two missing persons in the rubble.
When crashing, the buildings showed their viscera, their arteries, their nerves and their fragility, similar to ours. But they also exposed that kind of decent sentimentalists who are not in danger of extinction and who are the best of us all, the heroes who went out to save others, not realizing that another explosion and another collapse could have made them victims. And, at the same time, there is an anonymous army of health workers who have not rested for more than 100 hours since the accident.
In Soldiers of Salamis, the Spanish novelist Javier Cercas reminds us that “in the behavior of a hero there is almost always something blind, irrational, instinctive, something that is in their nature and from which they cannot escape.” They are the ones who look squarely at the absurdity and cruelty of life to make us more human, and they are the ones who warn us that struggle is born from despair.
And once again, death does not prevail.
Rosa Miriam Elizalde is a Cuban journalist and founder of the site Cubadebate. She is vice president of both the Union of Cuban Journalists (UPEC) and the Latin American Federation of Journalists (FELAP). She has written and co-written several books including Jineteros en la Habana and Our Chavez. She has received the Juan Gualberto Gómez National Prize for Journalism on multiple occasions for her outstanding work. She is currently a weekly columnist for La Jornada of Mexico City.
This article was produced by Globetrotter.