Israel Kills Dozens in Gaza Airstrikes, Escalates Land Theft and Palestinian Expulsions. By: C.J. AtkinsRead Now
Mourners carry the bodies of Amira Soboh and her 19-year-old disabled son Abdelrahman, who were killed in Israeli airstrikes at their apartment building, during their funeral at the Shati refugee camp, in Gaza City, Tuesday, May 11, 2021. | Adel Hana / AP
At least 26 Palestinians have been killed—including nine children and women—by Israeli military forces in just the last 24 hours. Most were killed by bombs dropped on Gaza by Israeli jets. The airstrikes came in retaliation for rockets fired by militants belonging to the Islamist group Hamas. The rockets, in turn, were a response to Israeli police attacks on Palestinians protesting a Zionist march at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque.
Sparking the latest rounds of violence are Israel’s aggressive land grabs and stepped-up effort to expel Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem. The moves are widely seen as a prelude to Israeli ambitions to swallow up all of Jerusalem, blocking the formation of a Palestinian state with its capital in the city.
The expulsions have now been temporarily postponed by a decision of the Supreme Court of Israel to delay ruling on government plans to permanently move Israeli settlers onto the Palestinian lands in Sheikh Jarah.
Much of the mainstream press in Israel and in countries allied with the extremist right-wing government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have referred to the stealing of Palestinian land and homes by illegal settlers as “evictions,” but Palestinians and international human rights groups say the process is part of a long-running ethnic cleansing program aimed at driving Arabs out of Jerusalem.
Most of the families living in Sheikh Jarrah have been there since 1956. They moved to the area after being expelled from their previous homes during the land thefts that made way for the founding of the State of Israel in 1948—the events known as the “Nakba,” or the Catastrophe, by Palestinians. Approximately 750,000 Palestinians out of a population of 1.9 million were kicked off their ancestral lands to make way for new Jewish immigrants from 1947 to 1949.
Israel’s deadly airstrikes on Monday were preceded by hours of fighting outside the al-Aqsa Mosque, a site sacred to both Muslims and Jews. Palestinians had gathered at al-Aqsa to protest a plan by right-wing extremists to march through Palestinian neighborhoods for the annual Jerusalem Day parade, an Israeli national holiday celebrating the conquest of Jerusalem in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.
Israeli police attacked the protests with tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber-coated steel bullets. Ammunition was reportedly fired into the mosque itself, where people were praying as fighting raged outside. An estimated 300 or more Palestinians were hurt. Later that evening, Hamas fired rockets toward Israel in retaliation. Netanyahu then sent bombers into the skies above Gaza.
Smoke rises after an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, May 11, 2021. | Hatem Moussa / AP
The Israeli military claimed it would only target Islamist militants, but the Gaza Health Ministry reported heavy civilian casualties, particularly in targeted apartment buildings.
Ashraf al-Kidra, a spokesperson for the ministry, told the Associated Press that Israel’s “relentless assault” was overwhelming the health care system, which is already reeling from the fight against COVID-19.
Medical supplies are constantly in short supply due to an economic blockade by Israel, and a form of vaccine apartheid continues to restrict Palestinian access to coronavirus shots. Israel has vaccinated over 60% of its population, but by the end of April, Palestine had only been able to secure enough vaccines for 3.4% of its people. Most Palestinians must wait for supplies from the World Health Organization’s Covax program for poor countries, even as their wealthy neighbor speeds back to pre-COVID normality.
These events are unfolding in the wake of the release of a comprehensively stunning report from the internationally respected non-partisan group Human Rights Watch, which unequivocally calls Israel an “apartheid” state.
Mass protests against the Netanyahu government’s military moves, meanwhile, swept both the Palestinian territories and Israeli cities Monday night.
The Palestinian People’s Party issued a statement calling for the “largest possible popular movement and mobilization” to support the people of Sheikh Jarrah “in the face of the fascist attacks” of Israeli “occupation forces and settler gangs.” The left-wing socialist party urged Palestinian authorities to secure international aid to “stop the massacre of ethnic cleansing” in East Jerusalem.
Calls for resistance against Israeli aggression also came from within Israel itself. Muhammad Barakeh, chair of the Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, encouraged protests in all cities against the “terror of the occupation in Jerusalem.” Some 21% of the population of Israel proper is Palestinian. Barakeh is a member of the Communist Party of Israel and previously served as a member of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.
Relatives of 11-year-old Hussain Hamad, who was killed by an explosion, mourn during his funeral in the family home in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip, May 11, 2021. | Khalil Hamra / AP
Netanyahu’s militaristic actions are in line with his long-running stance of squeezing out Palestinians and expanding Israeli territory, but they are also wrapped up in Israel’s chaotic domestic political situation. Since inconclusive elections in March, Netanyahu has failed to hammer out a coalition arrangement with his hardline and ultra-Orthodox allies. He currently sits as a caretaker prime minister.
Heading up the defense ministry and overseeing the bombing of Gaza is one of Netanyahu’s rivals, Benny Gantz. The two share a desire for crushing Hamas, but the latest fighting may upset Gantz’s attempts to win the support of Arab parties in Israel in order to oust Netanyahu.
Though the highest organs of the Israeli state appear beset by division and confusion, in Sheikh Jarrah and across Palestine, the latest fighting appears to be uniting people. Muna al-Kurd, a 23-year-old woman living in Sheikh Jarrah, told the Al Jazeera network, “The size of the global solidarity has angered the [Israeli] government of the occupation, and the crackdown has increased. “But,” she defiantly said, “I believe in popular resistance.”
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 first published by People's World.
The neo-fascist moment of neoliberalism has proven to be extremely destructive for the working class of the world. Pervasive mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic by right-wing governments throughout the globe has proven to be extremely costly in terms of the number of lives lost to the infection. However, this political urgency of removing neo-fascist leaders from power has not translated into a deeper re-thinking of the strategies and tactics hitherto used by social justice movements.
Instead of critically reflecting on the rise of the Right, they have been busy denouncing the impact of their policies. While the latter is absolutely necessary, the absence of sustained thinking on the various reasons behind the re-emergence of neo-fascist-populist ideas will not allow one to move beyond moral outrage and angry reactions. Thus, what we need is honest introspection on how the various deficiencies of progressive politics played a role in propelling the Right to power.
The extension of the neoliberal logic of hyper-individualization into the spheres of social and cultural exchange has shaped the trajectory of progressive politics. In general, the marketization of the public sphere has eroded the bases of collective solidarity in two ways. First, it has personalized the causes of suffering into individual trauma, which can be self-managed. Second, it has relentlessly regurgitated the supposed importance of a unique, authentic, individual identity, thus weakening the foundations for the formation of shared experience. These neoliberal transformations have exerted influence on the recent directions of identity politics, accepted by many movements as a legitimate form of counter-hegemonic assertion.
Identity politics, like the neoliberal discourse of authenticity, has adopted a position which states that only those who have experienced an injustice can understand and thus act effectively upon it. This overly subjectivist theory of knowledge - labeled as “epistemology of provenance” - mimics the ideology of private property and of competition in bourgeois society. If the direct experience of oppression is the primary or the only condition for one to develop an insight into oppression and how to fight it, then the implication is that the insight into oppression as a form of cultural wealth is the monopoly of a few as if it is their private property.
Another consequence of the subjectivist theory of knowledge is that it perpetuates the individualist fallacy that oppressive social relationships can be reformed by particular subjects without the broader agreement of others who, together, constitute the social relations within which the injustices are embedded. This, again, closely corresponds to neoliberal concepts, namely the undue stress on personal efforts rather than collective struggle.
The atomistic tendencies engendered by identity politics’ espousal of an epistemology of provenance get exacerbated when it is complemented with the theory of “intersectionality”. While it is true that a multiplicity of identities are simultaneously acting on an individual, intersectionality’s depiction of identities as descriptive categories leads to the absence of an active interpretation of oppression. This gives rise to the framing of identities as freely floating in an undefined atmosphere of interpersonal relations.
Ascriptive identities (like race, gender, or sexual orientation) shift from being understood as, to use Stuart Hall’s formulation, modalities through which class is “lived” to attributes of individuals that attach to them. It becomes part of their “portfolio”, categorizing individuals on the basis of what they are rather than what they do. Thus, identity operates as a commodity, whereby the historical specificity of specific identities through and alongside a capitalist mode of production is mystified.
Insofar that intersectional theorists observe no meaningful links between different identities, there only exist many perspectives on oppression, all of which are partial perspectives (e.g. a gender perspective, a race perspective, etc.), and they are all competing, but there is no common ground among them. This situation leads to mere diversification within contemporary power structures as the only conceivable goal. The response to this intra-subaltern impasse has been confused. Ajay Gudavarthy and Nissim Mannathukkaren, while emphasizing that “progressive politics has to move towards affinity and an idea of shared spaces rather than focus on mere claims of essentialised identity”, fail to outline the basis on which this solidarity can be crafted.
Class: A Concrete Universal
According to identity politics, the cause of discrimination is rooted in the very identity of these groups and their difference from the discriminating group. The rectification of discriminatory attitudes involves the reaffirmation of the identity category, which is necessarily self-reproducing rather than transformative. This is Nancy Fraser’s case when she looks at “affirmative” redistributive remedies, arguing that the repeated surface re-allocations they involve have the effect not only of reinforcing the identity category but of generating resentment towards it; and Wendy Brown’s more general philosophical case when she argues that identity politics are a form of “wounded attachment”, which must reproduce and maintain the forms of suffering they oppose in order to continue to exist.
Contemporary identity politics is non-transformative in another dimension. The idea of simple “discrimination” presupposes a liberal understanding of civil and human equivalence as the desired norm, leading to the framing of oppression as a failure of the liberal creed. Liberalism, taken in its late 19th century American usage to mean the inclusion of all groups in a given social whole (workers, women, people of color, etc), does not guarantee equality, as a lack of equality is presupposed by a capitalist system for which inequality is constitutive. Hence, by asking to correct not inequality but differential inequality, identity politics does not end up abolishing inequality. Winning equivalence, identity politics universalizes inequality by distributing it more evenly among all without difference.
As we have seen, the struggle for recognition has turned into an arms race, in which cultural identities deploy the language of minority rights in their defense. The inflation of recognition as a political category has also led the displacement of material injustices, and the reification of reductionist identities, which could become increasingly insular. These factionalist cracks in subaltern politics can be plastered with the help of socialist politics which comprehends the centrality of class. However, this understanding should not be interpreted as degrading the significance of identities. As Martha Gimenez explains, “To argue…that class is fundamental is not to ‘reduce’ gender or racial oppression to class, but to acknowledge that the underlying basic and ‘nameless’ power at the root of what happens in social interactions grounded in ‘intersectionality’ is class power.”
When a class-based politics is practiced, the entire capitalist system becomes the excluded exterior of the subalterns’ discourse. By identifying a discourse in relation to its exteriority, the internal differences of that discourse are negated and it thereby, enters into a “logic of equivalence”. Logic of equivalence constricts the internal differences within a discourse and instead, describes its identity through a relation of exteriorization. But the construction of equivalential chains is not a smooth process. According to Ernesto Laclau, in a discourse trying to redefine itself according to an equivalential chain, “each difference expresses itself as difference; on the other hand, each of them cancels itself as such by entering into a relation of equivalence with all the other differences of the system.” This means that the parts of that discourse are constitutively split and are afflicted by an inherent ambiguity.
The Marxist model of class politics utilizes these productive tensions to generate a vibrant praxis of solidarity. It emphasizes the commonality of the subalterns’ enemies and then the particularity of their own interests and differences. In other words, it recognizes difference while stressing the concrete universality of class, based on the subject’s relationship to the means of production. Concrete universality, unlike the abstract universality of modern liberalism, with its human and civil rights that are so often little more than formulaic to those at the bottom of society, is rooted in social life, yet points beyond the sheer facticity of a complex reality. It is this dialectical feature of concrete universality that allows it to mold identity politics in a radical direction. The identitarian experience provides a point of entry to a potentially radical politics, but such potential will only be realized if its subjects move beyond that unfiltered immediacy to challenge the systems of oppression that generate the inequalities shaping not only their lives, but those of others too.
Yanis Iqbal is an independent researcher and freelance writer based in Aligarh, India and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. His articles have been published in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and several countries of Latin America.
Veteran combatant of Cuba’s revolutionary struggles, Comandante Víctor Dreke, in 2017.
Photo: Le Soir/Dominique Duchesnes.
Víctor Dreke, legendary commander of the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces, called for those defending the Revolution today to recognize that the battlefield of the 21st century is the media.
The comments were made at a conference held on Thursday, April 22, commemorating the 60-year anniversary of the Bay of Pigs—Playa Girón to the Spanish-speaking world. Comandante Dreke, now retired at age 84, spoke alongside author, historian, and journalist Tariq Ali; Cuba’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Bárbara Montalvo Álvarez; and National Secretary of Great Britain’s Cuba Solidarity Campaign, Bernard Regan.
“It is no longer about us, the over-80s,” said Dreke. “It is the next generation, those who are here, who are going to be even better than us. It will no longer be a case of combat… Right now, the media across the world has to defend the Cuban Revolution, and we and you have to be capable of accessing the media across the world to spread the truth about the Cuban Revolution. That is the battle we are waging today—to fight attempts to weaken the people, to soften the people, to try to take the country again. They have changed their tactics. We are ready, but we want to say to our friends in the Americas and around the world that Cuba, the Cuba of Fidel Castro, Raúl Castro, Juan Almeida, the Cuba of Che Guevara, will never fail, neither with us nor with the future generations.”
Dreke joined the 26 July Movement in 1954, fought under Che Guevara in the Cuban Revolutionary War and in Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1965, and commanded two companies in Cuba’s historic defeat of US imperialism at the Bay of Pigs. Dreke’s autobiography, From the Escambray to the Congo: In the Whirlwind of the Cuban Revolution, was published in 2002.
Cuba and Venezuela provide inspiration for Latin America and the world
Comandante Víctor Dreke drew a comparison between Cuba’s historic defense of the revolution and that of Venezuela, as both countries now face a common weapon in the arsenal of imperialism: the economic blockade.
“They block medicines for Cuba, they block aid for Cuba,” said Dreke. “They blockade the disposition of aid for Venezuela because of the principles of Venezuela, the principles of Chávez, the principles of Maduro, the principles of Díaz-Canel, the principles of this people, due to the historical continuity of this people.”
Regarding the failed 1961 US invasion of Cuba, Dreke remarked, “it was an example for Latin America that proved that the US was not invincible; that the US could be defeated with the morality and dignity of the people—because we did not have the weapons at that time that we later acquired. It had a meaning for Cuba, the Americas, and the dignified peoples of Latin America and around the world.”
Tariq Ali: we must see through ideological fabrications to defeat imperialism
Tariq Ali, esteemed author of more than 40 books, recalled the precursor of the US invasion of Cuba, the 1954 CIA coup in Guatemala in which President Jacobo Árbenz was overthrown and forced into exile. A young Ernesto Guevara was living in Guatemala at that time and bore witness to the multifaceted CIA operation PBSuccess, which included bombing campaigns with unmarked aircraft and a propaganda blitz of leaflets and radio broadcasts. Ali described the evolution of CIA tactics since then:
“Normally the way they choose is to occupy a tiny bit of territory, find a puppet president, and recognize the puppet president. They are doing that in the Arab world today, or have been trying to do it. They did it with Guaidó in Venezuela, except that the Venezuelan army would not play that game and it blew up in their face, their attempt to topple the Maduro regime. They are trying it in parts of Africa. The weaponry has changed, it is more sophisticated, but the actual method they use, ideologically, is the same. That’s why it always amazes me as to why so many people believe the rubbish they read when a war is taking place.”
Ali also weighed in with a forecast for US foreign policy under the Biden administration:
“We can be hopeful for surprises… But effectively, whoever becomes president of the United States, whether it is Obama, or Biden, or Trump, or Clinton, or Bush, they are presidents of an imperial country, an imperial state, and this imperial state is not run all the time by the Congress or the Senate or the Supreme Court. The military plays a very important role in the institutions of the state, and the National Security Council, the Pentagon, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the Central Intelligence Agency are in and out of the White House, so the president who decides to make a sharp shift—it can be done, I am not saying it cannot be done—would have to be very brave and courageous indeed.”
“Whoever from the Democrats gets elected—whatever their position—immediately comes under very heavy pressure,” Ali elaborated. “If you look at AOC [Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez]… initially very radical, but now she is totally on board… I have never heard her say sanctions should be lifted, and she certainly supports even the old Trump line on Venezuela.”
Hybrid warfare in the information age
“Direct warfare in the past may have been marked by bombers and tanks, but if the pattern that the US has presently applied in Syria and Ukraine is any indication, then indirect warfare in the future will be marked by ‘protesters’ and insurgents,” detailed Andrew Korybko in the publication Hybrid Wars: The Indirect Adaptive Approach To Regime Change. “Fifth columns will be formed less by secret agents and covert saboteurs and more by non-state actors that publicly behave as civilians. Social media and similar technologies will come to replace precision-guided munitions as the ‘surgical strike’ capability of the aggressive party, and chat rooms and Facebook pages will become the new ‘militants’ den.’ Instead of directly confronting the targets on their home turf, proxy conflicts will be waged in their near vicinity in order to destabilize their periphery. Traditional occupations may give way to coups and indirect regime-change operations that are more cost effective and less politically sensitive.”
Hybrid warfare, waged today by the US and its political allies in conjunction with transnational corporations that wield powerful influence over mass media and political institutions, comprises the fields of economic warfare, lawfare, conventional armed warfare, and the information war. This last and most important—according to Commander Dreke—element in turn includes the manipulation of the press to serve capitalist and imperialist interests, the manufacture of fake news stories out of whole cloth, and targeted attacks on individuals, parties, or peoples who speak out against the failings of the present order. Moreover, hybrid warfare extends to interference in the political field and in electoral processes, the mounting of media campaigns to drive public attention into particular channels, and myriad assaults on our consciousness that attempt to turn us against each other, prevent us from seeing our common interests, and confuse us as we try to overcome defeatism and work to build a better world.
Steve Lalla is a journalist, researcher and analyst. His areas of interest include geopolitics, history, and current affairs. He has contributed to Counterpunch, Monthly Review, ANTICONQUISTA, Hampton Institute, Resumen LatinoAmericano English, Orinoco Tribune, and others.
Originally published by Orinoco Tribune
Peter Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance Has Hidden Almost $40 Million In Pentagon Funding And Militarized Pandemic Science. By: Sam HusseiniRead Now
The Pentagon (Credit the Smithsonian)
“Pandemics are like terrorist attacks: We know roughly where they originate and what’s responsible for them, but we don’t know exactly when the next one will happen. They need to be handled the same way — by identifying all possible sources and dismantling those before the next pandemic strikes.”
This statement was written in the New York Times earlier this year by Peter Daszak. Daszak is the longtime president of the EcoHealth Alliance, a New York-based non-profit whose claimed focus is pandemic prevention. But the EcoHealth Alliance, it turns out, is at the very centre of the COVID-19 pandemic in many ways.
To depict the pandemic in such militarized terms is, for Daszak, a commonplace. In an Oct. 7 online talk organized by Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, Daszak presented a slide titled “Donald Rumsfeld’s Prescient Speech.”:
“There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns — there are things we don’t know we don’t know.” (This Rumsfeld quote is in fact from a news conference)
In the subsequent online discussion, Daszak emphasized the parallels between his own crusade and Rumsfeld’s, since, according to Daszak, the “potential for unknown attacks” is “the same for viruses”.
Daszak then proceeded with a not terribly subtle pitch for over a billion dollars. This money would support a fledgling virus hunting and surveillance project of his, the Global Virome Project — a “doable project” he assured watchers — given the cost of the pandemic to governments and various industries.
Also on the video was Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs. Sachs is a former special advisor to the UN, the former head of the Millennium Villages Project, and was recently appointed Chair of the newly-formed EAT Lancet Commission on the pandemic. In September, Sachs’ commission named Daszak to head up its committee on the pandemic’s origins. Daszak is also on the WHO’s committee to investigate the pandemic’s origin. He is the only individual on both committees.
These leadership positions are not the only reason why Peter Daszak is such a central figure in the COVID-19 pandemic, however. His appointment dismayed many of those who are aware that Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance funded bat coronavirus research, including virus collection, at the Wuhan Institute for Virology (WIV) and thus could themselves be directly implicated in the outbreak.
For his part, Daszak has repeatedly dismissed the notion that the pandemic could have a lab origin. In fact, a recent FOIA by the transparency group U.S. Right To Know revealed that Peter Daszak drafted an influential multi-author letter published on February 18 in the Lancet. That letter dismissed lab origin hypothesese as “conspiracy theory.” Daszak was revealed to have orchestrated the letter such as to “avoid the appearance of a political statement.”
Sachs for his part seemed surprised by Daszak’s depiction of Rumsfeld but Daszak reassured him. “It’s an awesome quote! And yes, it’s Donald Rumsfeld, Jeff, and I know he’s a Republican, but — what a genius!”
Following the EcoHealth Alliance’s money trail to the Pentagon
Collecting dangerous viruses is typically justified as a preventive and defensive activity, getting ahead of what “Nature” or “The Terrorists” might throw at us. But by its nature, this work is “dual use”. “Biodefense” is often just as easily biowarfare since biodefense and the products of biowarfare are identical. It’s simply a matter of what the stated goals are.
This is openly acknowledged [See below] by scientists associated with EcoHealth Alliance when talking about alleged programs in other counties — like Iraq.
For much of this year, Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance garnered a great deal of sympathetic media coverage after its $3.7 million five-year NIH grant was prematurely cut when the Trump administration learned that EcoHealth Alliance funded bat coronavirus research at the WIV.
The temporary cut was widely depicted in major media as Trump undermining the EcoHealth Alliance’s noble fight against pandemics. The termination was reversed by NIH in late August, and even upped to $7.5 million. But entirely overlooked amid the claims and counter-claims was that far more funding for the EcoHealth Alliance comes from the Pentagon than the NIH.
To be strictly fair to the media, Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance obscures its Pentagon funding. On its website EcoHealth Alliance states that “A copy of the EHA Grant Management Manual is available upon request to the EHA Chief Financial Officer at finance ( at ) ecohealthalliance.org”. But an email to that address and numerous others, including Peter Daszak’s, requesting that Manual, as well as other financial information, was not returned. Neither were repeated voicemails.
Even this listing is deceptive. It obscures that its two largest funders are the Pentagon and the State Department (USAID); whereas the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which accounts for a minuscule $74,487, comes before either.
Meticulous investigation of U.S. government databases reveals that Pentagon funding for the EcoHealth Alliance from 2013 to 2020, including contracts, grants and subcontracts, was just under $39 million. Most, $34.6 million, was from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), which is a branch of the DOD which states it is tasked to “counter and deter weapons of mass destruction and improvised threat networks.”
Most of the remaining money to EHA was from USAID (State Dept.), comprising at least $64,700,000 (1). These two sources thus total over $103 million. (See Fig).
Summary of EHA Grants and Contracts. Note this figure doesn’t count subcontracts so it undercounts USAID’s contribution, see footnote (1) below (Credit: James Baratta and Mariamne Everett)
Another $20 million came from Health and Human Services ($13 million, which includes National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control), National Science Foundation ($2.6 million), Department of Homeland Security ($2.3 million), Department of Commerce ($1.2 million), Department of Agriculture ($0.6 million), and Department of Interior ($0.3 million). So, total U.S. government funding for EHA to-date stands at $123 million, approximately one third of which comes from the Pentagon directly. The full funding breakdown is available here and is summarized by year, source, and type, in a spreadsheet format.
Pdf versions of this the spreadsheet are available to download. The summary is here and all Federal grants and contracts are here.
More military connections
The military links of the EcoHealth Alliance are not limited to money and mindset. One noteworthy ‘policy advisor’ to the EcoHealth Alliance is David Franz. Franz is former commander of Fort Detrick, which is the principal U.S. government biowarfare/biodefense facility.
David Franz was part of UNSCOM which inspected Iraq for alleged bioweapons — what were constantly referred to as WMDs or Weapons of Mass Destruction by the U.S. government and the media. Franz has been one of those eager to state, at least when discussing alleged Iraqi programs, that “in biology … everything is dual use — the people, the facilities and the equipment.” (NPR, May 14, 2003; link no longer available).
Just this year Franz wrote a piece with former New York Times journalist Judith Miller, whose stories of Iraqi WMDs did much to misinform the US public regarding the case for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Their joint article, “A Biosecurity Failure: America’s key lab for fighting infectious disease has become a Pentagon backwater,” urges more funding for Fort Detrick.
Miller and Franz are long-time associates. Miller co-wrote the book Germs, released amid the 2001 false flag anthrax attacks, which repeatedly quotes Franz. Miller at the time received a hoax letter with a harmless white powder, increasing her prominence.
Franz continued hyping the existence of Iraqi WMDs even after the invasion of Iraq. While she was still with the Times, Miller quoted him in a story “U.S. Analysts Link Iraq Labs To Germ Arms” on May 21, 2003 pushing the theory that Iraq had mobile biological WMD units. (This theory was debunked by the British scientist Dr David Kelly, who would die, apparently by suicide, soon thereafter.)
Four significant insights emerge from all this. First, although it is called the EcoHealth Alliance, Peter Daszak and his non-profit work closely with the military. Second, the EcoHealth Alliance attempts to conceal these military connections. Third, through militaristic language and analogies Daszak and his colleagues promote what is often referred to as, and even then somewhat euphemistically, an ongoing agenda known as “securitization“. In this case it is the securitization of infectious diseases and of global public health. That is, they argue that pandemics constitute a vast and existential threat. They minimize the very real risks associated with their work, and sell it as a billion dollar solution. The fourth insight is that Daszak himself, as the Godfather of the Global Virome Project, stands to benefit from the likely outlay of public funds.
Thanks to James Baratta and Mariamne Everett for researching the funding sources.
Republished from Independent Science News
Biden's National Security Guidance Document Reflects The Old Imperialist Foreign Policy. By: Alvaro RodriguezRead Now
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has indicated that when it comes to China and Russia he favors continuing the failed policies of confrontation with rather than cooperation with those countries. | Carolyn Kaster/AP
There was hope that after the world-wide pandemic, mutual cooperation and sharing would be the new normal among all the countries affected by the pandemic. And we have seen a few hopeful signs in this regard but there are serious concerns now that we may not see real international cooperation become the norm.
If we look at the Interim National Security Guidance document put out by the Biden Administration recently the indications are that in foreign policy, we are getting from this administration the same old U.S. imperialism and it will take a massive mobilization to turn that around.
While Trump’s slogan was “America First,” the Biden foreign policy might be characterized as “America is back.” There is a difference in tone but the foreign policy path the country is on is essentially the same.
Throughout the document, you see the word “strength” repeated constantly, 36 times. There are belligerent statements such as, “The United States will never hesitate to use force when required to defend our vital national interests.”
This document, even as it says it prefers to ditch confrontation, intends to continue a policy of strangling China’s technological advancement through “vigorous competition” which the administration has already shown involves lining up countries to help the US weaken China economically.
So far there is no rejection of the continued hot wars in the Middle East.
Biden calls Russia’s leader, Putin, a “killer” and threatens new sanctions against Russia, while only scolding “Bone-Saw Murderer” Mohamed bin Salman. MBS, as he is called, is the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, identified by Biden himself as authorizing the killing and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate. Khashoggi was a columnist for the Washington Post and a permanent resident of the United States. Biden refuses to call MBS a killer.
Why the belligerency?
The aim of U.S. imperialism is to make the world safe for U.S. finance corporations to maximize their ill-gained profits. Other aims include setting international rules suitable to U.S. extreme right class economic and military interests, keeping the U.S. dollar as the global reserve currency, protecting death merchants defending the fossil fuel industry, and defending the chemical/pharma industry’s assault on the health of the planet and our international working class.
These predatory aims require the invention of enemies. In the past, these used to be the Soviet Union and later, global terrorism. Now it is China, Russia, North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, and other countries trying to exercise their independence and their right to develop and choose their own economic paths.
This “national security” guidance document shows clearly who the main target will be – China. China is attacked at least 14 times. Russia is attacked five times. They are labeled as “biggest threats” and “antagonistic authoritarian powers.”
If we are to successfully achieve a world where everyone is cooperating to solve the problems of the planet these countries should be seen as partners rather than threats.
They are seen as threats because the U.S. security establishment sees them as an impediment to U.S. imperialism. As such these countries are described as enemies of “democracy” while the U.S. is held up as the epitome of democracy.
The reality is that the world is becoming more multilateral and U.S. imperialism is on the decline. That makes U.S. imperialism more dangerous. When the word “democracy” is mentioned, it is a code word for capitalism and imperialism. The U.S. intends to revitalize the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Indo-Pacific “Quad” Alliance – Japan, India, Australia, and the U.S., thus attempting to “contain” the rise of China and Russia.
In this document, Biden tries to connect the problematic foreign policy to the issue of “making life better for working families.” It is merely a cover for the promotion of imperialist policies, at odds with the true interests of the working class. Can we really have a progressive policy at home and an imperialist policy abroad? The answer is obvious. This is, in the long run, an impossibility.
In the document, Biden pretends to modernize the national security institutions while making life better for working families. It is the same old rhetorical argument made under Reagan, “Guns or Butter.” Reagan chose guns. It turns out that when this country promotes guns, little money is available for working families. What has happened to the income of working families since Reagan? There has been a significant drop in the working-class standard of life and more inequality!
More recently, a certain sector of the ruling class has decided that the higher level of inequality is an existential danger to the capitalist system itself. They are promoting a form of “inclusive capitalism” to avoid the pitchforks. “Inclusive capitalism” has no lasting substance, however, and cannot overcome the basic contradictions of capitalism.
During the pandemic, it has been easier to make the case for a Keynesian economic intervention to alleviate the worst of the pandemic-aggravated economic crisis (on top of the already existing capitalist crisis).
Underway are massive infusions of budgetary stimulus (fiscal stimulus) from the Federal spending budget plus a huge infusion from the Federal Reserve Bank (monetary stimulus). Combined between 2020 and 2021, they total about $6 trillion dollars.
The bottom line, however, is that imperialism has never been good for the country nor good for the working class. It has been very good for the stock market!
Biden’s interim national security strategic guidance, it turns out is a lot of smoke and mirrors!
Confrontation over values?
A populist leftist president in Latin America states that the main characteristic of conservatism (catchall phrase for capitalism and neoliberalist policy) is hypocrisy. By conservatism, he speaks of the ideology of resistance to change, of having to give up private unwarranted privileges and wealth. Most of this wealth is acquired through wage theft, corruption, tax avoidance, debt traps, and undemocratic practices.
While the national security guidance talks about “democracy”, “ U.S. values” and “universal” values, what they are really talking about is making the U.S. finance capital more profitable around the world.
The guidance document makes no mention of what happened during the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
No mention is made of passage of laws that essentially take away the right to vote in many states.
No mention is made of the lies used to justify the war on and killing of the people of Iraq, the Afghan people, the Syrian people, the people of Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, and many more nations.
No mention is made of the CIA rendition and torture programs around the world, including Guantanamo’s U.S. military base and Abu Ghraib in Iraq.
No mention is made in the “national security” strategic guidance document about U.S. “undemocratic” support for the coup that overthrew the elected President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, efforts to overthrow the elected president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, efforts to overthrow elected President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua or the U.S. supported coup that overthrew the elected presidents of Honduras, President Zelaya in 2009 (Biden was Vice- President then, nominated by Obama because of his foreign policy “expertise”).
Obviously, no mention is made of institutionalized racism in this country and the consequent political instability. No mention is made of the consequences of savage capitalism (neoliberalism) introduced in the 1980s under Reagan in the U.S. and Thatcher in the UK. This economic policy has resulted in the loss of good-paying jobs and a lower standard of life for the working class, not only in this country but around the world.
Confrontational meeting in Alaska
The U.S. and China had a joint meeting (March 18-19, 2021) between the U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, U.S. National Security adviser, Jake Sullivan, Foreign Minister of China, Wang Yi, and chair of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission Office of the Chinese Communist Party, Yang Jiechi.
The U.S. sanctioned 24 Chinese officials the day prior to the meeting. The U.S. State Department also came ready with preconditions to improved relations.
The summit turned into a posturing and recrimination session on China and U.S. human rights. The facts point to this public confrontation as the real purpose of the U.S.- requested meeting.
“China urges the U.S. side to fully abandon the hegemonic practice of willfully interfering in China’s internal affairs. This is a longstanding issue, and it should be changed.” Yang Jiechi urged “the abandonment of Cold War mentality and zero-sum game.”
No communique was issued after this Biden Administration meeting with the Peoples Republic of China.
Hopefully, this is not a lost opportunity to advance solution to common problems like the pandemic, climate change, nuclear proliferation, global economic recovery after the pandemic, and to engaging in cooperation to help solve issues affecting developing countries.
Take the issue of vaccination against the pandemic. Ten developed capitalist countries are hoarding 80% of the vaccines. Mexico’s President Obrador, during an online meeting with Biden, asked the U.S. to share its vaccine. The reply by the White House press secretary was that “Joe Biden would not consider sharing its coronavirus vaccines.”
U.S. vaccines were denied in spite of hypocritical talk about the enduring partnership between the U.S. and Mexico “based on mutual respect and the extraordinary bond of family and friendship.”
Would you deny vaccines to your own “family”? Now, the U.S. plans to “lend” some of its oversupply of the AstraZeneca vaccines to both Canada and Mexico. This comes after some vaccinated Europeans experienced isolated blood-clot issues and many European countries temporarily suspended the use of that vaccine.
Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa and African Union chairman has criticized this vaccine nationalism.
China, Russia, and other countries have sent their own vaccines to developing countries in Latin America, Africa, and other locations. Socialist Cuba has developed a new COVID-19 vaccine and, in contrast to developed capitalist countries, provided exemplary international health care solidarity. Mexico has received vaccines from Belgium, China, Russia, and India. Mexico also received the active ingredient for AstraZeneca from Argentina.
Later, under international pressure and condemnation, the U.S. pledged $4 Billion to the World Health Organization’s COVAX program.
If history is a possible indicator of future actions, the Biden administration intends to continue U.S. imperialist hegemony in a world that expects more multilateralism in foreign policy, respect for the national sovereignty of nations, and more international solidarity on common issues affecting the globe, such as pandemics, climate change, war prevention, labor migration, refugees, weapons control and global poverty alleviation.
There have been some positive moves made by Biden including extension of the New Start Treaty with Russia and willingness to rejoin the Non-Proliferation Treaty with Iran. It didn’t help that Biden bombed alleged Iranian assets in Syria, however.
There is an internal conflict between Biden’s foreign policy intentions and his domestic agenda. Biden plans to pursue infrastructure jobs, raising wages, student debt forgiveness, economic recovery, and other domestic issues. There is a growing domestic mass opposition and new coalitions created to oppose a confrontational foreign policy and a bloated military budget; its slogan is – Money for Jobs, Not for War!
If you agree with this slogan, you are encouraged to join the coalition at moneyforhumanneeds.org.
Biden says he wants to work with Mexico and Central American countries in a joint economic development program initiated by Mexico to alleviate the poverty and insecurity that is driving the labor migration from Central America and southern Mexico to the U.S. Nevertheless, Biden intends to keep Trump’s original 4,000 National Guard members on the southern border with Mexico, while continuing immigrant deportations and caging of 5,000 immigrant children. Biden only offers to help Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, all of which have right-wing governments allied with the United States. Countries left out include left-led Nicaragua plus Haiti. The main reason for the labor migration and refugee exodus is poverty, an effect of global imperialist policy. Other contributing factors include climate change, wars, and gang violence.
Biden’s regional commanders (North America and Southern Command) also cautioned in a recent press conference about possible terrorists coming through the southern border. Sounds a lot like Trump’s racist and unfounded rhetoric! These outrageous remarks are an insult to Mexico.
Martin Luther King warned, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
The military budget in the U.S. takes about half the discretionary spending of the national budget, leaving little money to meet social needs. The U.S. spends (~$741 billion budgeted for 2021) more on the military budgets of the next 10 countries combined.
Alvaro Rodriguez is a long-time labor and community activist. He writes from Texas.
This article was first published at People's World
On March 8, 2021, the Supreme Federal Tribunal (STF) - Brazil’s highest court - struck down all the criminal convictions against Brazil’s former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Monumental in its impact, this decision finally brought an end to a ruthless lawfare campaign against Lula.
Lula was imprisoned in April 2018 at the Federal Police headquarters in Curitiba as part of Operation Car Wash for alleged corruption. From the beginning, it was evident that Lula’s imprisonment was part of lawfare - the use of law for political motives. The Supreme Court ruled, on April 5, 2018 - after a threat from Brazilian Gen. Eduardo Villas Bôas - that defendants could be jailed even before their appeals had been exhausted. This regressive judgment allowed Judge Sérgio Moro to arrest Lula at a time when he was leading in all polls. In August 2018, the polls registered that 29% of the nation preferred Lula’s Worker’s Party (PT), while the political parties that were spearheading the anti-PT campaign were rapidly declining in terms of electoral strength.
The presence of political bias in Lula’s imprisonment was confirmed when a range of materials and private conversations released by “The Intercept” proved that judge Moro discussed the case with the lead prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol, to whom Moro gave advice about how to proceed with the case. Furthermore, the Car Wash prosecutors plotted to use the investigation to undermine the campaign of the PT in the 2018 election. In November 2018, Moro joined Jair Bolsonaro’s government as his Minister of Justice, thus leaving no doubts about the political nature of the judicial proceedings against Lula.
Lula was released in November 2019 after serving 580 days, when the SFT agreed to examine his case on the basis of the judicial principle that no one can serve a sentence before it can be reviewed by the country’s highest court.
Changing Political Tides
In a welcome move, the STF confirmed on March 23, 2021, the existence of misconduct by Moro in the cases involving Lula. According to Justice Carmen Lucia, the evidence that has emerged since 2018 “may indicate the infringement on the impartiality of the judge.” “What is being discussed here is something very basic: everyone has the right to a fair trial, that includes due process and also the impartiality of the judge…New information was presented to clarify doubts about evidence of the partiality of the judge overseeing the case.”
The legal affirmation of the biased nature of Operation Car Wash is reflective of Brazil’s changing political tides. Opinion polls suggest that Lula is the best-placed politician to challenge neo-fascist Bolsonaro in 2022 elections. This was expected. The Bolsonaro administration’s toxic mix of pandemic mismanagement and savage neoliberalism stands in sharp contrast to Lula’s social sensitivity.
At a press conference held at the headquarters of the ABC Metalworkers’ Union in São Bernardo do Campo in the metropolitan region of São Paulo after the annulment of convictions, Lula heavily criticized the Bolsonaro government: “I need to speak with you about the situation in this country. It would be an error on my part to not mention that Brazil did not have to go through this.” “Many people are suffering. This is why I want to express my solidarity with the victims of coronavirus and the healthcare workers. And above all, the heroes of the SUS [Unified Health System], that were even politically discredited. If it wasn’t for the SUS, we would have lost many more people to coronavirus.”
Lula’s remarkable ability to connect with the poor masses is a direct result of his sustained involvement in grassroots politics. Born in poverty in 1945 in the northeastern state of Pernambuco, Lula emerged on the national scene from the late 1970s as a confrontational union leader. On winning presidency in October 2002 after three failed attempts, he toured the country extensively, talking to the oppressed members of the society about his own life and the larger struggle for equality and justice. Today, it is highly likely that Lula - whether he runs for presidency or not - will help the Left to regain power in Brazil.
Yanis Iqbal is an independent researcher and freelance writer based in Aligarh, India and can be contacted at email@example.com. His articles have been published in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and several countries of Latin America.
Janine Wissler and Susanne Hennig-Wellsow were elected as new party leaders. LINKE
Things worked out quite differently than many in the Berlin media said they would at the congress of the LINKE, the country’s left-wing party.
The pandemic had forced postponements from June 2020 to October 2020 and from last October to March 2021, with most of the 580 delegates at home in front of a screen, microphone, and camera. Only the socially-distanced, masked leaders sat in a sparsely occupied hall in Berlin. Other political parties are meeting that way too.
The bitter, possibly fatal inner conflicts, greatly feared by some, greatly desired by others, simply did not happen. Unlike the angry quarrels, hostility, and near split-ups which troubled some earlier congresses, this time there was an amiable, friendly atmosphere throughout.
No surprise, at least for most members, was the choice of new party leaders. Their predecessors stepped down as required after two four-year terms (plus extra months due to the postponements). Only outsiders may have been surprised that both new co-chairs were women, Janine Wissler and Susanne Hennig-Wellsow, which was new.
But many were indeed moved to see the two so supportive of one another, each congratulating the other on her (separate) election and both assuring party members that they would get along very well while diving into the tough tasks ahead; a year full of elections in six states and, on September 26, in all Germany, and with the LINKE now polling at a worrisome 7 or 8 percent, too close to the 5 percent cut-off point below which a party is not entitled to seats in the country’s parliament.
Who are the two new leaders, no longer a male-female team but still the customary East-West duo?
Janine Wissler, 39, has led the LINKE opposition caucus in the legislature of the West German state of Hesse since 2014. She is known as a fighter. In the last election campaign, she covered her whole state by bicycle, speechmaking all along the route, and winning more LINKE votes than the party won in most of West Germany.
More recently, joining the protest against chopping down part of an ancient forest to build another highway, she stayed a while in one of the high tree huts aimed at holding off loggers and the police.
Susanne Hennig-Wellsow, 42, her co-chair, is also known to be plucky. Originally a speed skater, a very good one, she switched to educational issues in her East German home-town of Erfurt in Thuringia, and quickly climbed to a position equivalent to that of Janine Wissler’s just across the former East-West border, becoming chair of both the state party and its caucus in the legislature.
But unlike Wissler, she was not in opposition. Thuringia is the first and only German state with a LINKE leader, Bodo Ramelow, as minister-president (like a governor), because his party won the most seats. Since 2014 he has headed a shaky coalition with a small Social Democratic and even smaller Green caucus.
Hennig-Wellsow gained unusual fame last year after a conservative politician pushed Ramelow out as head of state, but only by accepting the votes of the neo-Nazi Alternative for Germany party (AfD), which, despite the leading role of the state’s Red, Red, Green coalition, is stronger and more rabid in Thuringia than anywhere else.
Tradition demanded that party-leader Hennig-Wellsow present the winner, any winner, with congratulatory flowers. She approached him, then suddenly let the bouquet fall to the floor. Impolite, but most anti-fascists rejoiced at what became a top YouTube hit. After a huge public outcry, the man had to step down three days later and Ramelow came back — with Hennig-Wellsow. Now, these two state leaders head the national party, and though they disagree sharply on some issues, they are in agreement on a host of others.
A striking feature of the LINKE congress that just ended was the age of the delegates. Among the delegates who spoke up electronically, with contributions strictly limited in time because so many wanted to speak, the number of young people and women was greater than ever before. This marked a change from the past when so many were aging, often male, and frequently former members of the old Socialist Unity Party, the ruling party in the GDR.
That generation is dying out. Ten years ago over 50% of Die Linke’s membership lived in the five smaller states of East Germany. Now they make up 38 percent of a total of 60,000.
With all due respect to these truly “Old Faithful,” the trend toward a new, younger generation is a greatly-needed cause for hope. And so is their militancy — which was reflected in the words and the spirit of Wissler and Hennig-Wellsow.
Most of these young members called energetically for more visible and militant action in all causes for which the party stands. A key theme was helping people recover from the pandemic, which is causing heavy debts, hardships, job losses, and bankruptcy for tens of thousands of small firms, retail shops, restaurants, and cultural workers while the biggies, from Amazon to Aldi, from Daimler-Benz to BMW rake in mountains of euros for their owners and stockholders. The LINKE demands genuine taxes on the wealthy, higher wages for the workers —a 15-euro minimum wage — and more for children and pensioners. It means much closer ties with the unions and their struggles. Some of the unions sent greetings to the congress, which still required a bit of courage.
Many stressed the related fight for the environment, too often neglected and left to the Greens. But the Greens, till now in second place in the polls ahead of the Social Democrats (SPD) but well behind the twin “Christian Union” parties, have moved ever closer to arrangements with big business, downplaying the needs of working-class people and even abandoning major principles in order to gain or keep cabinet positions, as in Hesse, where their coalition ministers concurred in sacrificing forest sectors to an unnecessary highway extension (where Wissler did some needed “tree-hugging.”)
Many delegates warned of further hospital privatization and supported the fight for affordable, publicly-owned housing to outpace the profit-based gentrification expanding through most cities.
There was praise for the LINKE in Berlin; it led local coalition partners SPD and Greens in pushing through a rent control law reversing the worst over-pricing and forbidding most increases. It also defied Green foot-dragging and SPD opposition to a referendum to buy out (or “confiscate”) Berlin’s biggest real estate giants.
Both of the two new party leaders and many delegates called for a constant, vigilant resistance to the growing menace of the fascists, some loosely bound up in local thug gangs and underground killer units, others organized on a party basis or embedded in the police, the armed services or as suspicious secret agents of the FBI-type Constitutional Defense Bureau.
There was also general agreement on re-directing billions spent on armament purchases and production toward the repair of decrepit schools, rutty roads, unsafe bridges, and all public facilities.
But general agreement on this edged onto questions dividing the party for years. Some members — and many in leadership — hope keenly that the LINKE can join with the Social Democrats and Greens in a national, governing “left-of-center coalition,” as in current state governments in Thuringia and Berlin. Former harsh rejection by the other two of any connection with the “former rulers of the GDR dictatorship” has now weakened, especially if the votes of LINKE deputies can help them over the 50% margin to victory. Since both the SPD and the LINKE adopted the color red as their symbol, this would be a Green-Red-Red coalition, or G2R, or RGR, depending on who would be top dog. Such an alliance, say its advocates, would be a bar against the right, meaning the Christian sister parties, the conservative Free Democrats, and the fascistic AfD.
The state and the national levels differ in many ways. Most important, only the latter deals with foreign and military policy, which erects big, important hurdles. Both SPD and the Greens insist on two conditions for an alliance: the LINKE must abandon its opposition to NATO and to sending Bundeswehr troops outside German borders, even on UN missions. That is their red line; No-NATO means No-go! And well-armed German troops must be able to flutter black-red-golden flags from Kabul to Bamako, from masts in the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, or any sea or coast where it serves German purposes. Roll up the tanks, drones, fighters, and armed frigates!
Some LINKE leaders call for compromises. A humanitarian mission for the UN now and then should not be a major hurdle, while replacing NATO with a Europe-wide security agreement, including Russia instead of threatening it, is currently pure fantasy, they say. In a highly controversial open letter, Matthias Höhn, a leading LINKE member, said that such matters can be agreed upon, Germany need not totally reject U.S. demands for 2% of its budget for military build-up but might cut it to 1%, with the other 1% diverted to development aid for countries of the south.
His opponents were quick to reply; they insisted that Germany was threatened by no one; the Bundeswehr was in essence an instrument of the same expansive powers which have determined bloody German policy for over a century. Bombing Belgrade and Afghanistan was also called “humanitarian,” they note, and any backsliding in these matters was really a foot in the door, a dangerous foot, and would cancel the basic claim by the LINKE to be the one and only party of peace in the Bundestag.
This question has implications for even more basic questions. Does the LINKE support or oppose Germany’s present capitalist social system? Many leaders in the East, often having experienced advantages attached to cabinet seats on a state level, insist that the LINKE can only exert political effect to improve life if it takes part on a governmental level. The other side claims that the LINKE, as a tolerated little brother in such a coalition, would be granted a few lesser cabinet ministries but be easily outvoted on important policy questions, foreign or domestic, with only two options — bow down or quit.
“No,” they say, the party wants improvements but sees the need for a full social switch. That means active opposition and not becoming part of “the Establishment,” a role which has cost it dearly in eastern Germany in poll results, elections, and reputation. Essentially, some say that support for socialism and being part of the so-called establishment contradict one another.
The dividing line also affected the two new leaders. Hennig-Wellsow from Thuringia is ready to consider a GRR coalition, even with a compromise or two. Isn’t that what realistic politics sometimes requires? Wissler from Hesse says No; she wants no cozy, weak-kneed cabinet seat for LINKE. Let the SPD and Greens change their position, she says, and adopt a genuine peace policy that abandons dangerous “east-west” confrontation.
The differing viewpoints were put to a test during the vote for six deputy chairpersons. Matthias Höhn, who sent that letter proposing a retreat on armaments and deployment, received 224 voters. Tobias Pflüger, a disarmament expert opposed to any dilution of peace positions, beat him out with 294 votes. And it was Pflüger’s views which were more frequently reflected by the overwhelmingly young speakers’ list.
Many note that the coalition question is purely hypothetical anyway. With Greens and SPD now polling at 17 percent each and the LINKE at 8 percent (but hoping to get back to double digits), reaching 50 percent is still a dream.
That explains why so many stressed instead the need to fight far less in parliaments or party meetings but far more in the streets, factories, and colleges, among machinists, teachers, medical personnel, supermarket employees, truck drivers, and all the places where those who do the country’s work must move in defense against current attacks on living standards and values. This must reach at least as many women as men, both young and old, all sexual orientations, and definitely, those hit hardest, the millions with immigrant backgrounds. Hopeful symbols were the hearty greetings from the Alevite Turkish community, from several major unions, and young activists in Fridays for Future.
Disagreement on key issues could not and will not be ignored. But the happy surprise was that this did not lead to a split, which would have meant LINKE if not general left-wing political demise! The sides agreed to disagree and now work together to win supporters — and votes — in the six state elections and the national election soon challenging the party.
There was one other aspect which surprised many and deserves attention: how many participants, especially the younger ones, dropped past shyness and stated that the current social system, now proving its decay and inhumanity more clearly than ever, must be replaced.
The goal was also named, without many former taboos; a socialist economy, no longer determined by a tiny cabal whose lust for unearned profit caused a huge, growing gap between billionaire luxury and billions facing deprivation and despair.
If this new fighting spirit and renewed orientation can be maintained, the LINKE party could play a far more potent role in strengthening opposition within Germany. And after the vicious defeat of Jeremy Corbyn’s fight in Britain and with the weakness of leftist parties in France, Italy, and elsewhere in Europe, a militant Left in central, powerful Germany could regain the importance it once possessed in the heyday of people like Rosa Luxemburg — who was born 150 years ago, on March 5, 1871!
Victor Grossman is a journalist from the U.S. now living in Berlin. He fled in the 1950s in danger of reprisals for his left-wing activities at Harvard and in Buffalo, New York. He landed in the former German Democratic Republic (Socialist East Germany), studied journalism, founded a Paul Robeson Archive and became a freelance journalist and author. His books available in English: Crossing the River. A Memoir of the American Left, the Cold War, and Life in East Germany. His latest book, A Socialist Defector: From Harvard to Karl-Marx-Allee, is about his life in the German Democratic Republic from 1949 – 1990, tremendous improvements for the people under socialism, reasons for the fall of socialism, and importance of today's struggles.
This article was first published in People’s World March 4, 2021.
Biden, at the time vice president, right, speaks to Putin, then the Russian Prime Minister, second left, during a meeting in Moscow, March 10, 2011. The two are now face each other as presidents of their respective countries. | Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP
I want to start this critique of Biden’s developing foreign policy by stating clearly and unequivocally that his $1.9 trillion rescue plan deserves total support from everyone in our country. It is nothing less than a dramatic disavowal of the right-wing era launched by Ronald Reagan some 40 years ago.
Although Biden deserves praise for his domestic policy so far, his characterization on national television of Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “killer” was just another indication of what is, unfortunately, turning out to be a dangerous trend in the foreign policy he is pursuing.
While his domestic policy radically departs from what we have seen in the U.S. over the last 40 years his, foreign policy—executed by stalwart representatives of the old establishment—is failed business as usual. And the unfortunate reality is that a continuation of the policy of military domination of the entire world will sooner or later require turning away from progressive domestic priorities.
As Biden begins his presidency, we are in a different and new world, one that did not exist in the Reagan-Bush-Clinton days of neoliberalism. The planet is in a very real climate emergency and is reeling under a global pandemic. Super recessions and depressions are crippling many countries economically. The wealth gap is growing day by day, and corruption in government, which has always been a problem, is even worse now, with scandals happening in almost every country in the world. Also worse than ever are the attacks on democracy happening in nations that have previously prided themselves as beacons of freedom.
Solutions for these unprecedented problems will require unprecedented international cooperation. This is not the time then for the president of the United States to be calling the president of Russia, the second-largest nuclear power on earth, a “killer.” There are indeed plenty of killers running plenty of countries these days, as there have been in the past, including in our own. But the crises of today require cooperation between the two largest nuclear powers.
Calling Putin a “killer,” however, reflects some real and far more dangerous trends in U.S. foreign policy. It reflects the control still being exercised by the old foreign policy establishment that played such a big role in bringing us the world-wide mess we have today.
The U.S., thanks to the old foreign policy establishment, has almost 800 military facilities around the world. The new domestic and worldwide realities of today require dismantling of that network of bases. That will require changing the thinking about what constitutes national security. That shift will have to be as big if not bigger than the change we have seen from the Biden administration when it comes to domestic policy.
For starters, the U.S. will have to stop military adventures around the globe, including the confrontational ones on Russia’s borders. Calling Russia’s leader a “killer” while the U.S. threatens that country with our troops along its frontiers is hardly helpful to the cause of re-ordering our priorities.
Likewise, U.S. military confrontation with China in the South China Sea will not be at all conducive to the necessary reordering of priorities. There is no real indication yet that Biden is moving in the direction of ending confrontation with either Russia or China.
In Afghanistan, the United States has been at war for more than 20 years. Trillions of dollars have been spent on that war. Many have died. Biden is now signaling U.S. troops will stay there beyond the date which Trump had claimed American forces would pull out. What amounts to institutionalized warfare, it seems, is something Biden is willing to continue. There is no hope of getting back what has been lost in Afghanistan. The only prudent course is to get U.S. troops out of there.
Biden, during his campaign for the White House, promised to revive the Iran nuclear deal he helped negotiate when he was vice president. He promised to also bring back the constitutional role of Congress in declaring war. But he instead ordered the bombing—over the objection of Democratic senators who called it a violation of the War Powers Act—of what he said was an Iranian-backed outpost in Syria.
In addition, he has delayed removal of 900 U.S. troops who are uninvited occupiers in Syria. He is maintaining troops in a sovereign country against its will and has ordered a bombing in that same country’s territory.
Biden said he is reviewing our drone policies, but so far, that review has resulted in more focused targeting and no indication that use of killer drones will be ended.
He is continuing U.S. support for regime change by continuing inhumane sanctions against Venezuela—sanctions clearly intended to overthrow its government. To no avail, the UN has called on the U.S. to end its cruel blockade tactics that deny medicine and food to the Venezuelan people.
And back to Russia, Biden is ratcheting up dangerous confrontation with that country. In the next few weeks, Biden said, in answer to a question on national television, that “we will see” how he retaliates for last year’s SolarWinds hack of U.S. cyberinfrastructure—for which Russia was allegedly responsible. Knowledgeable sources say the administration will approve still more sanctions on Russia and clandestine cyber actions against Russian state institutions.
Such an escalation is likely to trigger more and worse cyberattacks by both sides. Is that what we really want right now? In the long term, that will do no good at all for either the American or the Russian people.
On China, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has called relations with China “the biggest geopolitical test of the 21st century,” with the administration making a show of not just confronting China economically but also militarily in the South China Sea. U.S. naval maneuvers there continue.
As the administration does this, the Republicans put forward continued accusations in public congressional hearings that the “Chinese Communist Party” is responsible for both the pandemic and for economic problems in the U.S. resulting from the pandemic. Such anti-China rhetoric inflames the international situation while also fueling domestic anti-Asian hate crimes and attacks.
The United States cannot focus on and help solve the climate crisis, the pandemic, and worldwide economic disasters, including inequality and the wealth gap, by continuing institutionalized warfare, regime change, threats of military action, and maintaining 800 bases around the world.
No one pretends that the foreign policy of the U.S. can or will be radically changed overnight. The hope is there, however, that based on what we see happening in domestic policy, the Biden administration may yet begin to move in a better direction when it comes to foreign affairs.
You can start, Mr. President, by not grandstanding against the Russians. That’s so old, and it gets us nowhere.
John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union's campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and '80s he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.
Republished from Peoples World.
As with all op-eds published by People’s World, this article reflects the opinions of its author.
Due to Joe Biden appointing Ohio’s 11th Congressional District Representative Marcia Fudge to his cabinet, a special election will be held to replace Fudge, likely in August or September, 2021. Summer special elections are best known for ultra low voter turnout, perhaps 10% or lower. Since Nina Turner has announced her candidacy, leftists in America are thus faced with the question of whether or not to spend their second COVID summer in Cleveland, organizing for Bernie Sanders’ most visible African American supporter so she wins a splintered Democratic Party primary with a handful of votes. What’s a Marxist to do? Let’s ask Shaft.
In the landmark 1971 film Shaft, actors Richard Roundtree (the African American playing private eye Shaft) and Charles Cioffi (Italian American playing police lieutenant Vic Androzzi), talk about race after Shaft refuses to name names. “Warms my black heart to see you so concerned about us minority folks,” says Shaft. Androzzi responds by holding a black pen next to Shaft’s face to compare the colors. “Come on, Shaft, what is it with this black shit? Huh? You ain’t so black.” Shaft then holds a white coffee cup next to Androzzi’s face declaring, “You ain’t so white, baby!”
According to St. Xavier University professor and attorney Jacqueline Battalora, the racial concept of “white” was invented, by law, to prevent solidarity amongst slaves and indentured servants against land holding colonizers in Virginia in Maryland. Battalora argues in her 2013 book “Birth of a White Nation” that the very first appearance in law, “on planet Earth”, of the term “white” is the 1681 Anti-Miscegenation law of colonial Maryland, enacted in response to Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676. The 1681 law banned marriage between “white women” and “negro slaves”. Battalora notes in a 2014 speech on her book that the 1681 law was not an extension of English common law, but entirely new law for the purpose of colonies.
In fact, the “lawmakers” of colonial Maryland who invented the human genetic sludge category of “white” were completely illegitimate tools of imperial capitalism in every conceivable way. They did not enact a “law” so much as they amended their articles of incorporation. Obviously, an English king (James I) stole the land called “Maryland” from indigenous tribes. Whatever “government” King James and his successors created on that land was constituted exclusively by male “owners” of the stolen land under “royal charters”, i.e. corporations. Indeed, the mother ship corporation that created every colonial royal charter - from the East India Company, to the Plymouth Company, to the Virginia Company - exists even today. All trace their legal birth to the City of London Corporation, an entity at least a thousand years old, which itself has no document whatsoever establishing its existence. Today, the City of London Corporation (now lovingly called “the City” or “the Square Mile”) is the center of world finance, a medieval black hole through which the undead legal tendrils of the British Empire form the City’s tax haven archipelago across the Caymans, Bermuda, etc.
That Empire Strikes Back every time we utter the words “white” or “black”, because those words are corporate imperial insertions into the mind, designed by capital, solely for the benefit of capital. Here we see Antonio Gramsci’s cultural hegemony of capital at its most brutal core; the very words around which we structure our world, thus voluntarily enforcing the value system of capital, merely pop out of our mouths. No bother is made of their origin, nor why those words work their magic. They are just...there, like air we breathe. Much is groundbreaking about the 1971 movie Shaft, hailed as the first “Blaxploitation” film, but somehow lost is this incredible scene where an Italian and an African teach each other with one glimpse that none of us are actually black, nor white.
Ohio’s “black seat”, which Nina Turner is now running to fill, has been gerrymandered by both parties for decades to be one of Ohio’s safest Democratic Party districts. Because Cleveland has been hollowed out by capital for decades, what used to be a 90% African American district now must be rather larger on a map, so is today only 54% African American. Thus, OH11’s 2021 version is a serpentine masterpiece, snaking from Cleveland’s poorest inner city African American & Hispanic precincts, then weirdly south through some of Ohio’s most affluent Cleveland suburbs, then into a sprawling exurbian no mans land of McMansion dead zones, then back into impoverished inner city precincts in Akron, to collect Democrats.
OH11 is thus less a “black” seat, than a Democratic Party seat. Another assumption which capital’s cultural hegemony enforces through our acquiescence is that whoever wins the Democratic primary for OH11 will be elected to Congress. In fact, should Nina Turner win this summer’s Democratic Party primary and rise to Congress, she will join a Democratic Party establishment in Northeast Ohio Nina herself forged with her own hands in 2009 with the most consequential political act of her life. Nina Turner was the only African American elected official to endorse a thinly veiled corporate takeover of Cuyahoga County government in 2009, via a new county charter which left as the only remaining countywide elected official besides the chief executive, guess who...the county prosecutor. That prosecutor, Bill Mason, who wrote the 2009 charter himself to preserve his own seat specifically, remains as current county executive Armond Budish’s chief of staff. Thus, Congresswoman Nina Turner will reunite with Mason, 12 years after (quite literally) creating him, at the top of Cleveland’s wholly owned subsidiary of capital, the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party.
“It is what it is.” That’s the answer you get to such obvious grotesquery from activists supporting Nina Turner for the Democratic Party nomination to the OH11 seat. Why acquiesce to this? Further, why on earth should Nina Turner acquiesce to a Democratic Party primary structure that she knows full well, based on two Bernie Sanders primary catastrophes, is rigged to its core? Because now maybe, just maybe, she can rig it herself? No, Nina, it does not need to be “what it is.” Nina Turner must refuse acquiescence to this cultural hegemony, and run as an independent for OH11. Otherwise, leftists should refuse acquiescence to Nina’s enforcement of capital’s cultural hegemony, and refuse to support her campaign.
Good news being, the circumstances this summer could not be better for refusing acquiescence to this rotted value system. First, the ultra low turnout of this special election primary will outsize the importance of the voting bloc most likely to turnout in OH11, concentrated in the largest Jewish community in America outside New York City, which would not be in this district but for capital’s total destruction of the city of Cleveland. The Democratic Party’s establishment favorite, county chair Shontel Brown, has already signaled that her entire campaign will be focused on these votes, as if she’s running to represent Israel in Congress, not Cleveland and Akron. Upon one visit to her website, you’d be forgiven for thinking Shontel Brown is the world’s most delightful black Jewish lady practically signed up for a kibbutz in some West Bank settlement. AIPAC (which paid for Shontel’s obligatory sight seeing in Israel in 2018), Democratic Majority for Israel, all the usual suspects are lined up to unload hundreds of thousands of dark money dollars and countless whisper campaigns to smear Nina with the “anti-semitism” canard that was so effective against Jeremy Corbyn in the UK, rolled out against Bernie (a Jew, we must apparently remind everyone), and used last year against Ilhan Omar. In an ultra low turnout special primary, such weaponization of identity politics will be nearly impossible to overcome, no matter how much money Nina raises, especially since Nina has proven beyond doubt she can’t build an organization to manufacture turnout.
But if Nina runs as an independent, she faces Shontel Brown’s Congresswoman for Israel routine in November, when many localities in OH11 are holding (crucially) non-partisan municipal elections, including the city of Cleveland, where Nina needs the highest turnout she can get. And guess who is likely to be running for mayor of Cleveland in 2021 - incredibly, Dennis Kucinich. An “I told you so” comeuppance 40 years in the making, the prospect of Kucinich running for mayor already has Cleveland media targeting him in a catatonic panic. Cleveland turnout in November would dwarf the pro-Israel turnout and deliver Nina to Congress over any Corbyn-esque smear campaign. And a Dennis-Nina ticket would electrify leftists nationally, mostly because it would be a total rejection of capital’s cultural hegemony.
That is the power of saying no. All around us is a Gramscian experiment, the old world dying, the new one struggling to be born. This “time of monsters”, as the saying has been bastardized, was actually coined by Antonio Gramsci in the original Italian as “morbid phenomenon”. No phenomenon is quite as morbid as the undead zombie of Northeast Ohio Democratic Party politics in a special election for U.S. Congress in early 21st century late stage capitalism. Like Shaft telling Androzzi he ain’t so white, baby, nothing has been so ripe for refusal to acquiesce.
Tim Russo is author of Ghosts of Plum Run, an ongoing historical fiction series about the charge of the First Minnesota at Gettysburg. Tim's career as an attorney and international relations professional took him to two years living in the former soviet republics, work in Eastern Europe, the West Bank & Gaza, and with the British Labour Party. Tim has had a role in nearly every election cycle in Ohio since 1988, including Bernie Sanders in 2016 and 2020. Tim ran for local office in Cleveland twice, earned his 1993 JD from Case Western Reserve University, and a 2017 masters in international relations from Cleveland State University where he earned his undergraduate degree in political science in 1989. Currently interested in the intersection between Gramscian cultural hegemony and Gandhian nonviolence, Tim is a lifelong Clevelander.
Privatization and Winter Storms Kill Texans
*Midwestern Marx youth writer Sahil Siddiqi has compiled a list of links leading to mutual aid organizations in Texas. They can be found at the bottom of the article.*
An unprecedented winter storm has thrown the state of Texas into chaos. Texans have experienced freezing cold temperatures and multiple inches of snow. At face value, this may not seem like a big deal to a Midwesterner. To those of us accustomed to these conditions, winter weather simply means it’s time to break out the winter coat and boots. For most Texans however, grabbing the Winter apparel to protect from these conditions is not an option, as the storm they are currently experiencing is unlike anything Texas has seen in recent memory. 21 people have now died, and much of the homeless population is desperately looking for warmth.
Not only are people freezing, but the state’s infrastructure is completely unprepared to withstand a blizzard of this magnitude. Videos have spread around the internet of Texans filming their roofs caving in from buildup of snow. Reports from the Texas Tribune detail millions being left without power, and many now being forced to ration food. The storm, which scientists are telling us is climate change induced, is a warning of what’s to come if the US does not change course when it comes to production. Texas’ privately owned energy grid has failed millions, while continuing to rake in profits for their services. The crumbling homes are an example of how ill prepared US infrastructure is for the storms which will only increase as the climate worsens. The clear solution is to move to a system of planned production, and worker ownership of all major industries. Continuing to allow private companies to command production is suicidal for the working masses. Socialism and planned production must be implemented, or private interests will continue to destroy the planet, while apathetically watching us die in the climate storms of their own creation.
Local Texas news station KHOU 11 reports that the private utility company ERCOT met to discuss what should be done during this disaster. The conclusion was that electricity prices should be raised, due to an increase in the demand for power. There may have never been a clearer example of how little profit driven private entities care for anything besides profit itself. The very fact that companies are allowed to make a surplus profit off of something as essential as electricity, highlights the irrationality of a capitalist economy. However, in the face of an unprecedented storm, it becomes more clear than ever how the system incentivizes profit, and profit alone. Private companies like ERCOT look at a situation in which people are dying and being left without power, and see only an increase in consumer demand, which will allow for a hike in their prices. They care nothing for the human costs of their actions.
Privately owned utilities must be seized and made public. This is quite literally our only option. So long as private interests are in control of the major sectors of the US economy, they will continue to be apathetic towards the effect their production has on the climate, and they will continue to turn the climate change storms they create into profitable business opportunities. The solution is for the working masses to seize the major sectors of economic power, because workers are those who feel the negative effects of climate change. The capitalists are not struggling in Texas. On the contrary, they are thriving. Capitalists sit and watch the chaos of the storm on television from the comfort of million dollar electrified homes, plotting new avenues of exploitation, which can bring an increase in shareholder profits. Capitalism is, at its core, a system which incentivizes a group of greedy vultures to extract all they can from the masses of society. A fact which this storm in Texas has made apparent. It is as Rosa Luxemburg said many years ago, we must choose between socialism, or barbarism.
*Links to Help Texas Compiled by Sahil Siddiqi*
- North Texas Mutual Aid
- Austin Mutual Aid
- Ending community homelessness coalition (ECHO)
- get free lunches to homeless people
- Texas health and human services
- Texas COVID-19 Mutual relief
 Aguilar, Julián. “Texans Running out of Food as Weather Crisis Disrupts Supply Chain.” The Texas Tribune. The Texas Tribune, February 18, 2021. https://www.texastribune.org/2021/02/17/texas-food-supply-power-outage/.
 Staff, Author: KHOU 11. “ERCOT to Raise Texas Energy Prices, Blaming High Demand from Winter Storm.” khou.com, February 16, 2021. https://www.khou.com/article/weather/ercot-to-raise-texas-energy-prices-blaming-high-demand-from-winter-storm/285-76ea495b-b67b-4cb7-8f1a-47f0fb4b4234.
Edward is from Sauk City, Wisconsin and received his B.A. in Political Science from Loras College, where he was a former NCAA wrestling All-American, and an active wrestling coach. His main interest are in Geopolitics and the role of American imperialism with relation to socialist states, specifically China and Venezuela. He also worked for Bernie Sanders' campaign in 2020.
Egypt is one among the five countries in Middle East and North Africa (MENA) most affected by hunger during the COVID-19 pandemic. Widespread hunger in Egypt follows an international pattern. The World Food Program (WFP), the branch of the United Nations (UN) responsible for delivering food assistance, expects to need to serve 138 million people in 2021 - more than ever in its 60-year history.
The inability of the majority of countries of the world to effectively counter-act hunger is a result of decades-long neoliberal policies. These policies have either instituted import dependency or unleashed a process of export-oriented agro-industrialization, thus creating a highly unstable and deficient food regime. Egypt is not immune to these economic factors. Present-day hunger in the country is structurally situated in a pro-bourgeoisie paradigm intended to enrich the few at the expense of others.
The historical context for food insecurity in Egypt is provided by former President Anwar Sadat’s policy of economic liberalization, faithfully continued by Hosni Mubarak till 2011 and by Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi until today. In 1960, Egypt had a self-sufficiency ratio (domestic production in relation to consumption) for wheat of around 70%. By 1980, the self-sufficiency ratio had fallen to 23% as imports rose to massive levels. Food aid and grain imports performed two important functions for imperialist powers. First, they tightly integrated Egypt with the world market and hence exposed it to fluctuating global prices. Secondly, they paved the way for growing levels of indebtedness as access to foreign currency became a key determinant of whether a country could meet its food needs.
In Egypt, these developments were an important part of Sadat’s decisive turn toward the U.S. through the 1970s. The 1973 war was estimated to have cost around $40 billion, and the general fiscal squeeze caused by rising food and energy imports led Sadat to seek loans from U.S. and European lenders as well as regional zones of surplus capital such as the Gulf Arab states. The latter played a decisive role in bringing Egypt into the orbit of the American empire, with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, and Qatar forming the Gulf Organization for the Development of Egypt (GODE) in 1976 to provide aid to Egypt.
The condition for Gulf financial aid was the elimination of Soviet influence in Egypt (the Soviet-Egyptian Friendship Treaty was canceled in March 1976) and the implementation of a series of economic reforms prescribed by the US Treasury, IMF, and World Bank, which included an end to subsidies and a deregulation of the Egyptian pound (which would raise the cost of imports). As the Egyptian government moved to amend laws to allow repatriation of profits, free flows of capital, and attempted to lift subsidies, funds arrived from GODE.
With the arrival of neoliberalism in Cairo, the masses became increasingly poor. When they became poor, they were unable to buy food in adequate quantities. This was the natural outcome of an unending spate of privatization. In the 2000s, Egypt gained the dubious distinction of being the leader of privatization in the Arab world. The country’s privatization program was launched as part of a Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) agreed between the Egyptian government and the World Bank and IMF in 1991. The major focus of this SAP was Law 203 of 1991, which designated 314 public sector enterprises for sale.
By 2008, Egypt had recorded the largest number of firms privatized out of any country in the region and the highest total value of privatization ($15.7 billion since 1988). Unlike other states, in which just one or two deals made up the majority of privatization receipts, Egypt’s sell-off was wide-ranging - covering flour mills, steel factories, real estate firms, banks, hotels, and telecommunications companies.
To prepare state-owned companies for privatization, the Egyptian government terminated subsidies and ended their direct control by government ministries. In many cases, loans from international institutions were used to assist in the restructuring and upgrading of facilities prior to sale - burdening the state with debt while investors received newly retooled and modernized factories. The end result of privatization was a severe deterioration in labor rights and wages, facilitated by the growth in informal work conditions and the increasing exploitation of women in “micro” or small enterprises where minimum wage, social security, and other legal rights were not in effect.
Informal workers make up over 63% of Egypt’s estimated 30 million employed population, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO). Egyptian officials say the sector generates nearly 40-50% of the country’s economic output. Informalization of the labor market has systematically immiserated the workers. The poverty rate rose from 25.2% in 2010/2011 to 26.3% in 2012/2013 and 27.8% in 2015, then jumped to 32.5% in 2017/2018, which means that 32.5 million Egyptians are poor according to the “national poverty line” (EGP736 per month and person, about $45).
The World Bank pegs the poverty rate even higher, at 60% of the entire population. Inequality across regions is sharp; poverty levels in Egypt’s poorest villages are as high as 81.7%. The Severe Poverty Line also rose to 5.3% in 2015 and reached 6.2% in 2017/2018, which means that 6.2 million Egyptians - according to the national severe poverty line of 491 EGP (about US$25) per month and person - are extremely poor.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Egypt’s agricultural exports increased significantly. The country became the largest exporters of oranges in the world, as well as strawberries and among the largest in onions. Most of the Gulf countries lifted trade restrictions related to their import of Egyptian products. Egypt’s exports increased not due to a boom in production but because these countries were preparing for an impending crisis. This has greatly affected Egyptians’ access to goods since productivity did not increase but exports did.
The heavy focus on export crops rather than local staples is not new. Since the 2000s, rice, maize and wheat production has been pretty much stagnant. As a result, Egyptians are dependent on expensive food imports. In 2016/17, Egypt imported 12 million tons of wheat, over a million tons more than the average for the preceding 5 years. This coincided with 42% annual food price inflation, the highest for 30 years. The Egyptian Food bank, a large charity that feeds the poor, increased its “handouts” by 20%, extending their reach to “middleclass” families - an extent of the pervasiveness of food insecurity.
In the current conjuncture, Egypt needs to move beyond the neoliberal model of agriculture which only succeeds in increasing hunger. Liberalization, immiseration and agro-export industrialization - all of them serve to buttress the power of imperialism and facilitate the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few. While there was hope after the 2011 uprising that farmers would enjoy new freedoms and opportunities, it was not forthcoming. On the contrary, farmers have been harassed, they have seen their crops being damaged and there has been considerable police intimidation if farmers have had the courage to challenge aggression from agri-business firms. Small farmers have been bogged down in costly legal proceedings where big landowners have reclaimed land that they had lost during Gamal Abdel Nasser’s agrarian reforms in the 1950s. In addition, small farmers have had to bear the burden of increased rents and expensive farming inputs. An alternative model needs to be urgently established to replace Egypt’s current agricultural architecture which will end up in a seemingly endless “hunger pandemic”.
About the Author:
Yanis Iqbal is an independent researcher and freelance writer based in Aligarh, India and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. His articles have been published in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and several countries of Latin America.
Ecuador's leftist candidate Andrés Arauz has won the first round of the country's presidential elections held on 7 February, 2021, garnering 31.5% of the vote. An economist and former minister in socialist president Rafael Correa’s government, he has led the ticket for the Union for Hope coalition - what was Alianza País headed by Correa before the party split in 2017.
However, it appears that Arauz did not win by enough of a margin to avoid a second runoff, provisionally scheduled for April 11, 2021. The election has been marred by allegations of voter suppression, as Ecuadorians were forced to wait for hours in uncharacteristically long polling lines, especially in areas known to support Arauz.
Arauz faced two politicians - Guillermo Lasso and Yaku Pérez Guartambel. According to a quick count by the National Electoral Council (CNE), Pérez and Lasso took 20.04% and 19.97% of the votes, respectively.
Lasso is the candidate for the conservative alliance “Creating Opportunities” (CREO). He is also a member of Opus Dei, banker and businessman. A true representative of the Ecuadorian oligarchy, he served as a minister of economy in the Jamil Mahuad government in 1999, which fell in the winter of 2000 at the hands of 2 million peasants and poor workers who took over the streets in protest against dollarization.
Pérez is the candidate of the indigenous Pachakutik Party. While he portrays himself as an “eco-socialist”, many from the Correa camp have questioned his commitment to defend indigenous communities and remember that some factions of the Pachakutik Party have, in the past, opportunistically aligned with the right against Correa’s government. Moreover, he is also known for supporting US-backed right-wing coups in Latin America and wholeheartedly backing imperialism.
Arauz’s electoral hegemony is explained by the strength of Correismo - the ideology based on the policies of Correa’s government. Between 2007 and 2017, Correa undertook a series of post-neoliberal counter-reforms, strengthening the state, increasing its regulatory and economic planning power, and broadening its social influence.
Correa re-constructed Ecuador by way of a Constituent Assembly convened in 2007. In his inauguration speech on January 15 of the same year, he stated: “This historic moment for the country and the entire continent demands a new Constitution for the 21st century, to overcome neoliberal dogma and the plasticine democracies that subject people, lives, and societies to the exigencies of the market. The fundamental instrument for such change is the National Constituent Assembly”.
The Constitution set out a social agenda whose essential axes are: (1) social protection aimed at reducing economic, social and territorial inequalities, with special attention to more vulnerable populations (children, youth, elderly); (2) the economic and social inclusion of groups at risk of poverty; (3) access to production assets; (4) universalization of education and health. To this end, inter-sectoral cooperation was initiated among the Ministries of Education, Economic and Social Inclusion (MIES), Agriculture, Health and Migration.
The 2008 Constitution established the need to build a health system oriented toward comprehensive health care for the population, called the “Sectoral Health Transformation of Ecuador”, and created the “Model of Comprehensive Health Care”, which provided communal underpinnings to the approach toward healthcare. It is characterized by free health services for users, the deployment of sanitary infrastructure (hospitals and primary care centers) and training for health personnel.
The construction of the Ecuadorian State was based on “good living” (El Buen Vivir) - a conception which places life at the center of all social practices and includes the strengthening of the welfare state in order to guarantee it. Correa acolyte René Ramírez argues that buen vivir means: “free time for contemplation and emancipation, and the broadening or flourishing of real liberties, opportunities, capacities, and potentialities of individuals/collectives to bring that which society, territories, diverse collective identities, and everyone - as a human being or collective, universal or individual - values as key to a desirable life.”
An essential part of buen vivir is communal action. While there were many gaps in the achievement of this aim, the Corriesta administration did try to start the “citizenization of political control” - the election of institutional and control authorities not by the legislature, but by an ad hoc organizational structure called the “Council of Citizen Participation and Social Control”. These measures were intended to establish a framework for participatory governance.
Lenin Moreno assumed presidency in 2017, riding on the back of Correa’s support. Having served as vice president (2007-13) in Correa’s government, he was expected to continue the progressive agenda of a strong welfare state. Instead, Moreno chose to comprehensively break away from the previous paradigm of anti-neoliberalism, persecuting Correa and his supporters.
Moreno used a February 2018 referendum to destroy the CNE, the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, the Judiciary Council, the attorney general, the comptroller general, and others. With the assistance of the CNE, Moreno divided and took control of Correa’s party. When the Correistas tried to re-organize themselves in a new party, the state blocked them. They said that the proposed names were misleading or that the signatures collected were invalid. By 2019, the Correistas used the “Social Commitment Strength” platform to run for local elections in 2019. This platform was then banned in 2020.
The suppression of Correistas has occurred against a backdrop of a neoliberal onslaught. Moreno has followed laissez-faire economic policies, privatization, fiscal austerity, deregulation, free trade and state reduction promoted by the Washington Consensus. His initial actions aimed to incentivize private economic activity, including the elimination of advances on income taxes for firms and a move toward labor market flexibility. Further, Moreno introduced tax exonerations for firms that repatriated funds within the next twelve months.
In August of 2018, the National Assembly approved the “Organic Law for Productive Development, Attraction of Investment, Employment Generation, and Fiscal Stability and Equilibrium”. This law included amnesty for any outstanding interest, fines, or surcharges owed to a number of government agencies.
A 10-year income tax exemption was introduced for new investments in the industrial sector. Along the same lines, a 15-year exemption for investment in basic industries, and a 20-year exemption for investments located near the country’s border, were also specified in the bill. Exemptions were introduced to the tax on capital outflows for productive investments. These measures reduced the high-tax burden that private companies earlier faced.
Moreno has announced many austerity adjustments: reduction in the salaries of many government functionaries, elimination of bonus payments for state employees, overall reduction in the number of public sector workers, and the sale of state-owned companies. All this resulted in the “October 2019 uprising”.
Hope for Socialism
It is likely that Arauz’s socialist leanings will help him succeed in re-gaining presidential power. He is committed to rolling back Moreno’s neoliberal measures, standing firm against the ruthless demands of international capital, increasing public spending on education and healthcare, and imposing restrictions on capital flight. Arauz has conceived of a state model oriented towards selective economic interventionism for the benefit of the poor.
This model argues that the people-centric acceleration of economies is not a spontaneous phenomenon that results exclusively from market forces, but is the result of vigorous state involvement in strategic sectors through planning and structural reforms in the context of a mixed economic system. Considering the fact that absolute poverty has tripled during Moreno’s 4-year presidency, Ecuadorians will elect a leader who promises to provide them with dignified lives.
About the Author:
Yanis Iqbal is an independent researcher and freelance writer based in Aligarh, India and can be contacted at email@example.com. His articles have been published in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and several countries of Latin America.
Photo source: Andres Arauz' Instagram - @ecuarauz
For years NeoConservatives within the American Political Establishment have salivated over the idea of going to war with Iran. The last four years under Donald Trump have seen hostility towards Iran reach dangerous levels, as neocons within Trump’s administration such as Mike Pompeo and John Bolton have openly encouraged Trump to overthrow the Iranian Government. While not a socialist country, The Islamic Republic of Iran has long defied the economic interests of Western multinationals. The notoriously right wing, Koch brothers funded, Heritage foundation says, “Large numbers of state-owned enterprises and other firms controlled by Iranian security forces crowd out private-sector activity.”  Iran’s economy is largely driven by state run oil and gas industries, and the country is considered an “energy superpower.” This of course is the primary reason neoconservatives like John Bolton with deep ties to the private fossil fuel industry have long obsessed over regime change in Iran. If the Iranian Government is overthrown, while the country and its people will be thrown into violent chaos, US based multinationals will have unhindered access to Iranian oil.
While neocons like Bolton claim their advocacy for Iranian regime change is based on a desire to protect human rights, a look at recent history reveals their true motives. Almost 20 years after the invasion of Iraq, which Bolton staunchly defends, what we’ve seen is the destabilization of Iraq and the deaths of hundreds of thousands. This is a war which Noam Chomsky calls “the crime of the century”. Are we going to allow these bloodthirsty politicians to lie us into yet another war where they claim to be protecting human rights while murdering hundreds of thousands? At a time when people in the US are struggling to meet their basic needs, and the Covid pandemic continues to rip through the country, the last thing we need in this world is a war between Iran and the United States. Let us demand our public officials meet the needs of American workers, rather than send them to die in yet another disastrous oil war.
The United States has a long history of interfering in Iranian Politics. One of the first acts of the CIA following their inception in 1947 was to overthrow the secular, Democratically elected, Iranian Nationalist Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh. Declassified documents released over 60 years later have proved the CIA and UK collaborated to overthrow the Iranian Prime Minister and replace him with the pro-Western Shah. Mossadegh’s primary economic proposal was to nationalize the Iranian oil industry. He argued that Iran had a right to the resources produced in their own country. In 1951 Mossadegh would Nationalize the British controlled Anglo-Persian Oil company.  Effectively booting British multinationals from the country. The CIA and UK’s Secret Intelligence Service (m16), threw their support behind the Iranian Shah, Reza Pahlavi, and launched an anti-Mossadegh propaganda campaign, both in Iran and The United States. The first attempt to capture Mossadegh failed, however days later a second attempt would apprehend Mossadegh, leaving Iran in the hands of the Western backed Shah.
The 1953 coup would become a rallying cry 26 years later during the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Under the pro-Western Shah Reza Pahlavi, opposition parties were outlawed and suppressed. The opposition parties include The National Front, a combination of noncommunist left-wing groups, as well as the Tudeh Party, a party of pro-Soviet Communists. During the 1979 Revolution these parties would unite behind a shared desire to overthrow the oppressive Shah. Former philosophy professor Ruhollah Khomeini was gaining popularity in Iran through advocating the reduction of the authoritarian powers of the Shah, and a more populist economic program aimed at meeting the needs of the Iranian masses. Both the Tudeh and National Front parties would put their support behind Khomeini, eventually overthrowing the Shah, dealing a heavy blow to Western influence in Iran. 
Since the Revolution Iran has remained a theocracy with an economic program based on central planning and state ownership of large portions of the economy. Many in Iran heavily criticize their government, and advocate for the state to become more secular. Iran has a rich intellectual history, and many academics and student groups have organized to push for change recently, as many did in the 1979 revolution. While many in Iran are critical of their Government, the people are unified against intervention from the United States. Continued escalations against Iran from the Trump Administration have given Iranians a common enemy in the US, who has been unable to resist meddling in Iranian Politics for over 70 years now. The Conservative parties in Iran are now calling for breaking off all ties with the US, and to end the 24 hour a day monitoring of the Iranian nuclear program agreed to in the Iran deal.  Iran’s internal politics are complex, and belligerent US foreign policy threatens to push Iranians in a reactionary direction.
The Trump administration has made multiple escalations towards invading Iran. The decision to pull out of the Iran deal was one of the most belligerent foreign policy decisions of the century, and the justification from the State Department was truly incoherent. The Iran deal forced Iran to allow 24-hour a day surveillance of their nuclear program by the International Atomic Energy Agency.  While under this 24-hour surveillance not one time has Iran ever been accused of creating a nuclear weapon. The nuclear energy is used for power, while enriched uranium is used to create medical isotopes. However, despite no findings of wrongdoing, the US has put crippling sanctions on Iran. Including blocking medicine from entering the country.  US officials justify this action by calling Iran the number one state sponsor of terrorism. The media has yet to ask these officials if blocking a foreign nation from importing medicine in a pandemic qualifies as terrorism or not.
So, while Iran has never before sought to create a nuclear weapon, now many in the country are calling for that to change. The people of Iran got a great view of how the US invaded Iraq on false pretenses about nuclear weapons. Iran has seen the devastation and brutality of the United States empire on those who dare claim sovereignty over their natural resources. The Iranian people do not want their country to see the same fate as Iraq, and they are seeing the similar rhetoric from the US about their country. It is truly hard to blame Iranians for wanting their country to increase defense capabilities, especially following the US murder of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. A clear act of aggression, and a blow to the Iranian military. And now at the end of 2020 Israel and the US have assassinated Iranian nuclear scientists who the US media, of course, portrays as dangerous terrorists.  While Iran has never created Nuclear weapons before, US aggression may push them to.
So, now to my fellow Americans. Are we going to let them do this again? Are we going to allow our bloodthirsty Government to take hundreds of thousands of lives, in a war that is so clearly being waged for control of natural resources? How many US soldiers were killed in Iraq? How many died to stop the Iraqi nuclear program which never existed? Are we really going to allow this to happen again? Will we destroy a nation, and hundreds of thousands of lives, to maximize the Koch Brothers’ profits?
I for one stand against war with Iran and see through the lies of our corporate media. Remember how loudly the war drums were beating after 9/11, to stir up patriotic fervor, and manufacture support for the invasion of Iraq. They PROMISED YOU that it would be a short invasion to extract nuclear weapons. Nearly 20 years later the US still occupies Iraq, nuclear weapons were never found, and hundreds of thousands are dead. Do not fall for this again my friends. Tell the US Government that either they make peace with Iran, or face mass resistance.
Heritage Foundation. (2020). 2020 Index of Economic Freedom: Iran. Heritage.org. Retrieved 2020, from https://www.heritage.org/index/country/iran
 Chomsky, N. (2015, 10 28). Voices on Iraq: Noam Chomsky. Sputnik News. https://sputniknews.com/politics/201510281029239831-chomsky-us-iraq-invasion-crime-obama/
 Byrne, M. (2013, 8 19). CIA Confirms Role in 1953 Iran Coup. NSA Archive. https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB435/
 Wu, Lawrence, and Michelle Lanz. 2019. “How The CIA Overthrew Iran's Democracy in 4 Days.” NPR. https://www.npr.org/2019/01/31/690363402/how-the-cia-overthrew-irans-democracy-in-four-days.
 Afary, Janet. 2020. “Iranian Revolution.” Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/event/Iranian-Revolution.
 Karimi, Nasser. 2020. “Iran's parliament approves bill to stop nuclear inspections.” Associated Press https://apnews.com/article/iran-parlianment-bill-nuclear-inspection-e2f2225c1f91c5c09afaf776cf9e04e3
 IAEA. n.d. “Verification and Monitoring in Iran.” IAEA. https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/focus/iran.
Zakavi, Rasoul. 2019. “Economic Sanctions on Iran and Nuclear Medicine.” NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6352058/.
 “State Media Says Iran's Top Nuclear Scientist Killed In Ambush.” 2020. New York Times. Iran’s Top Nuclear Scientist Killed in Ambush, State Media Say.
About the Author:
My name is Edward and I am from Sauk City, Wisconsin. I received my B.A. in Political Science from Loras College, where I was a former NCAA wrestling All-American, and active wrestling coach. My main interest are in Geopolitics and the role of American imperialism with relation to socialist states, specifically China and Venezuela. I also worked for Bernie Sanders' campaign in 2020.
While Denver Homeless Out Loud awaits its December 15th court hearing for a lawsuit they recently filed against the city of Denver, DDPHE and Denver police are carrying on with what they call “cleanups,” widely known as homeless “sweeps.”
In the early hours of Monday November 30th, around 300 unhoused residents at Arkins Court were cleared out by DDPHE (Denver Department of Public Health and Environment) without any instruction of where they could move (except for shelters which, residents said, are filled to capacity, or have bed bugs—more on that later). Many residents of the camp shared that they moved to this camp after being swept from other areas in the city because police told them it would be a safe place for them to go. Police deployed pepper spray and pepper balls on protesters and arrested four people, three of them unhoused residents. Denver has been funding these sweeps for eight years since the urban camping ban was placed, performing a few sweeps per week on average.
This issue is part of an ongoing saga between the houseless community and the city government that began with the placement of an urban camping ban in 2012. The repeal of Denver’s urban camping ban failed in the municipal election of May 2019, but in September 2019 a federal judge approved a settlement between the two parties, ruling that houseless residents should be notified by city officials at least 48 hours prior to a planned “cleanup” or sweep. The current lawsuit claims that this settlement has been violated by the city. Per the lawsuit: “Over the past year, and in a blatant effort to skirt a settlement agreement entered into between Denver and a class of its homeless population, Denver officials have repeatedly showed up at homeless encampments without notice, flatly told homeless residents to move along (‘to where?’ is the obvious question to this nonsensical command), and seized their property (often discarding it).”
The suit also seeks to end the sweeps, at least during the pandemic, in accordance with CDC guidelines which have advised against the sweeps because of the high risk of virus infection they pose.
In December 2019, a Denver County judge ruled that the urban camping ban is unconstitutional. So why are the sweeps continuing?
The city appealed the ruling, and is awaiting a hearing. In the meantime, there is nothing in place to prevent them from sweeping encampments.
This time around, residents were pushed out of the encampment due to a zoning change proposal which was posted about in a notice on a fence near the Arkins encampment. As the notice explains, Tryba Architects seeks to change the zoning at Arkins Court and three other locations in Denver to allow “mixed use development between 110 and 250 feet in height,” in other words, more high-rise buildings.
The sweeps tend to gather protesters and supporters of the homeless population (some are both) who offer moving supplies, refreshments, and a helping hand in moving their camps. On the morning of the Arkins sweep, dozens of people showed up with Uhaul trucks as well as the usual supplies, including a pop-up table with coffee, hot chocolate, pastries, sandwiches, fruit, and more.
One supporter, Matilda March, who showed up in her van (which she lives in) to help people move their belongings, said she shows up to help regularly because “the cops don’t really give (them) a lot of time to move people out.”
“I haven’t even been able to do a load yet today. I’ve been here since 5 am and it’s 9:30 and I haven’t been able to move anyone because they wouldn’t let me in. Earlier, when they were putting up the fencing, I had my van outside the fence and I said, ‘Hey, I have someone on this corner that I already have planned to pick up their stuff and help them move, can I get through there?’ They told me I could when the fence was up. The fence was up by 7:30, it’s been two hours and they still haven’t let me through to even contact this person, communicate with them and let them know I’m here. They might let me later, but I’m already helping another person now,” March said.
March shared that there were supporters of houseless residents at the camp overnight before the sweep. “There were a lot of people here who got to know (the camp residents) better and who got to understand that the people here really did want to stay. By about 5 o’clock the cops started setting up fencing, and we had a line of about 20 people that they were pushing back while trying to set up the fence, because the residents here wanted to stand their ground. This is the place cops have been telling people to come when they get swept from other locations.” March sat parked outside the gated fencing, as a houseless resident carried their belongings from inside the encampment through the gate to her van.
“They (the police) won’t let me into the gated area to help get their stuff so they don’t have to push it all the way over here,” she said.
One woman, Samantha Hudson, who lived at the camp with her husband and two children, complained that her baby wipes, diapers, children’s clothing, and space heater were taken in the dump truck while she left the area to look for a different camp to move to.
“I asked the officers how long I had left, they said an hour to an hour and a half. How far was I going, I said about ten, twenty minutes away. I was gone not even 45 minutes when I came back to everything already put in a pile with everybody else’s belongings smashed on top. It’s in the back of their dump trucks. Officers knew, they said it was OK. This is getting ridiculous, just help us instead of putting up down… I’ve been asking for help, instead of seeing how much me and my husband have turned our lives around and changed, they don’t want to give us that chance… When we got to this spot, me and my husband picked up all (those) dirty needles.. Swept it...We cleaned the whole area. There were no hazardous materials anywhere near my belongings at all,” Hudson said.
When asked where they are supposed to go, Hudson said, “Everybody so far is in a parking lot on Stout Street downtown, but in a couple days they’ll be saying, ‘Go somewhere else, go somewhere else.’ It’s a constant thing. They got all this open property doing nothing but sitting here, for what? I understand some people are dirty. Give us more garbage cans, give us more bathroom facilities. I want the help, I need the help.”
“The majority of us get up and go to work. My kids spend 12, 15 hours in the car with me every day selling scrap metal and pallets just so we can make a living for our kids to buy diapers and wipes and make sure our kids can have a happy meal. They threw away everything that we struggled so hard to even get.”
Hudson said she chose to move into the encampment a few months ago when she could not afford a rent payment and did not want an eviction on her record, because it would ruin her chances of finding a new place to sign a lease. She was a participant in the CWEE (Center for Work Education and Employment) program and aimed to find HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) work before the pandemic caused her program to end.
Another resident of the camp, Garen Zamba, said he was in the process of moving into the Salvation Army Crossroads Center when he discovered there were bed bugs in the shelter. He bought bed bug spray to treat the area, but the building manager would not let him clear out the space long enough to use the spray. So he chose to stay at the encampment instead.
“I knew I was going to be infested, so I chose to be outside,” he said.
Zamba continued, “Other shelters are at full capacity right now. In order to be admitted into the shelter, you have to go through a lottery process. The shelters don’t have the means necessary in order to take care of everybody’s problem. Or maybe they do have the means, but they’re not utilizing it appropriately. The government should have city based camps or some portion of the land on vacated spaces where people can be lodged.”
Ana Cornelius, organizer with DHOL and former One-home Families Coordinator at Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, said that she and other DHOL organizers are documenting property damage and taking residents’ contact information to stay in touch and help them out. She also said they ask at every sweep where people are supposed to go.
“We ask where are people supposed to go, and they just say, ‘Not here.’”
“The city wrote the CDC to find out how they could get around their guidelines. In November, Governor Polis put out a new COVID order that states that he both authorizes and urges government entities to find shelter for people that are not congregate sheltering. Because of COVID, you need to find ways to house people that are not congregate settings. So when they're telling people, ‘We’re offering you shelter,’ they’re actually offering them COVID. Denver Health just did a study and they showed that staying in camps, the rate of COVID was something like .3 percent, and it was very high for shelters. It would’ve been so much easier and much more cost effective to put regular trash service and porta-potties and hand-washing stations here, and we could’ve kept this whole population safe.”
Cornelius said that DHOL has asked for meetings with DDPHE “numerous times and they refuse to give (them) one. We tried to provide porta-potties and then there was a permitting issue so we asked for the permit process and I was told by the permitting office that there is no permitting process for what we were trying to do, and then Charlotte Pitt said she would get back to us and we’ve been waiting nine months.” Pitt is Manager of Solid Waste Management for the City & County of Denver. An attempt was made to contact Pitt and she has yet to reply.
A policeman at the scene addressed the CDC guidance by saying, “It changes every day.”
On December 3rd, DHOL sent out an email announcing three more sweeps scheduled for next week.
Per DHOL’S email regarding the hearing: “There will be a call-in number where the public can listen to the hearing. Stay tuned for this number. We will also be holding a rally and press conference prior to the hearings at 8am outside the Alfred J. Arraj United States Courthouse (901 19th St - 20th and Champa) with safe distancing measures in place.” DHOL has since provided the call-in number.
This story is developing and will be updated periodically.
About the Author:
My name is Maddy. I am a journalist, writer, and thinker based in Colorado where I work as a stringer for a small-town newspaper and have some odd jobs on the side. I am a member of the Democratic Socialist of America and am interested in bringing a lens of intersectionality to journalism and "pushing the envelope" to make people think critically about social issues. I love animals, music, food, creative writing, and the outdoors. She/her.
“Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much higher consideration.”
This past 3rd of November the interest of capitalist class wasn’t just assured a win in the presidential election, but it also took a big win in California with the passing of Proposition 22. Proposition 22 was a ballot proposal to maintain the gig economy workers of companies like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Postmates, etc. under the status of ‘Independent Contractors’. A vote ‘yes’ would mean that the workers in these sectors would remain categorized as independent contractors, a vote ‘no’ would force these app-based gig companies to provide “basic protections to their workers”. After outspending the opposition 12 to 1 by pouring more than 200 million on the ballot initiative, gig economy companies like Uber, Lyft, and more, won.
The opposition to the bill was led by various labor organization, but at the head of it was the California Labor Federation (CLF). CLF understood that the passing of this bill meant boosting profits for these gig companies by “denying their drivers’ right to a minimum wage, paid sick leave and safety protections.”
Companies like Lyft advertised that the passing of prop 22 meant that workers in these industries would maintain their ‘flexibility’, and fearmongered by stating that up to 90% of drivers could lose their jobs if the bill did not go through. They also mentioned that a vote yes would give drivers “more benefits”, of course, without mentioning that the extra ‘benefits’ they would get are still nowhere near what they would be required to give them if they were considered as workers and not independent contractors. To urge a ‘yes’ vote, these companies went as far as showing videos of single moms saying they wouldn't be able to figure out how to make extra money for their family if the bill didn’t pass. This massive influx of advertisement money was what caused a vote that was polling in at 38% six weeks before its election, to rise 19 points and win.
While these gig economy app based companies have grown to be worth billions of dollars, the employees whose labor their growth has depended on have been partaking in worldwide protest because of their poverty wages. Taking this into consideration, and the fact that only 38% was in favor of the bill just six weeks before the vote, it is fair to say that the bill passed because more than $200 million was spent propagandizing people in favor of it. A nice exemplar of how our American Democracy works.
The core of the $200 million that was spent was aimed at convincing folks that this was the route that would prove to be the most beneficial for workers. Although not all working families fell for this, the outcome demonstrates quite a few did. The wealth of the owning class proved to be a sufficient engine for the ideologically coercing of workers into consenting against their own interests. What we have here is not the usual schematics of a working class who participates in electoral processes whereby both candidates represent the interest of their enemies; but a working class that when confronted with a clear dichotomous decision of advancing or regressing their interest as a class, was conditioned enough to overwhelmingly vote against their own interest.
These ideological tactics of coercing workers into consenting against their own interest are not new. In the days of child labor, the arguments for its maintenance usually presented the same form of cynical concern for workers and their families, stating that families would be unable to survive without the children contributing, and using analogies of child labor at the farm to naturalize and thus legitimate the continuation of such bruteness as having kids under 10 years old lose limbs or die working 10-12 hours a day for miserable wages.
In terms of relations of power between labor and capital, the neoliberal capitalism we see today is perhaps closer to the conditions in the time of Mother Jones, than it was after the second world war. Although child labor is not around, the hard-fought victories by unions and communists for workers are constantly attacked and defeated. The last four decades of neoliberal capitalism has been a continuous disempowerment of workers through the cutting of benefits, stagnating of wages, and repression of unionization efforts. The gig economy takes this even further, through an employer’s complete removal of responsibility for workers. By categorizing workers as ‘independent contractors’, the ‘flexibility’ they continuously speak of is one that is only for them. Flexibility for the capitalist entails the removal of responsibilities for his workers, and subsequently, increasing profits for him. But for the worker - regardless of how much the capitalist’s propaganda says they are now ‘flexible’ and ‘free’ – flexibility means insecurity, less pay, and less benefits. Like in sex, flexibility for the worker here only means he can get screwed more efficiently.
The passing of this bill in California entails that it will probably be the first domino in many to come. Soon, our working class will face an instability that has not been seen in the last two centuries. The question we must ask ourselves is not just 'what are we doing to prevent this?'; for this question takes a necessarily defensive approach. If we are only defending, although we might win some battles and lose others, those wins are not steps forward, but the prevention of backward steps. This puts us in a pickle between maintaining our position or taking steps backwards. Unlike in sports, were defense is the best form of offense, in the struggles of labor and capital offense is the best form of defense. We must be ready to counter the barbarities that neoliberal capitalism is taking us towards. This is something that cannot be down if our efforts are limited to protecting previous gains, we must be ready to affirm a socialist tomorrow. Our situation is at a crossroad, now more than ever does Luxemburg’s famous dictum ring true, it’s either “socialism or barbarism”.
 “What is Prop 22, the Uber/Lyft Ballot Measure?,” California Labor Federation, https://calaborfed.org/no-on-prop-22-faq/
 Sarah Jones, “Uber and Lyft’s Proposition 22 Win Is a Warning Shot to Democrats,” Intelligencer, last modified November 4, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/11/uber-lyfts-proposition-22-was-a-warning-shot-to-democrats.html#:~:text=In%20the%20weeks%20leading%20up%20to%20November%203%2C,of%20the%20measure%20regularly%20featured%20people%20of%20color.
 “What is Prop 22, the Uber/Lyft Ballot Measure?,” California Labor Federation,
 “What is Prop 22 | California Drivers | Vote YES on Prop 22 | Rideshare | Benefits | Lyft,” Lyft, October 8, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7QJLgdQaf4
 Suhauna Hussain, Johana Bhuiyan, Ryan Menezes, “Prop. 22: Here's how your L.A. neighborhood voted on the gig worker measure,” Yahoo!Finance, last modified November 13, 2020, https://finance.yahoo.com/news/uber-lyft-persuaded-california-vote-140036656.html
 Keith Griffith, “Uber drivers around the world go on strike to protest 'poverty wages' as the company prepares to go public at a valuation of $91billion” Daily Mail, last modified May 8, 2019, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7006975/Uber-drivers-world-strike-protest-low-wages.html
 Bill Kauffman, “The Child Labor Amendment Debate of the 1920's” The Journal of Libertarian Studies, last modified January 29, 2018, https://mises.org/library/child-labor-amendment-debate-1920s-0
 Mother Jones, “Civilization in Southern Mills” Industrial Workers of the World Historical Archives, March 1901, https://archive.iww.org/history/library/MotherJones/civilization_in_southern_mills/
About the Author:
My name is Carlos and I am a Cuban-American Marxist. I graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy from Loras College and am currently a graduate student and Teachers Assistant in Philosophy at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. My area of specialization is Marxist Philosophy. My current research interest is in the history of American radical thought, and examining how philosophy can play a revolutionary role . I also run the philosophy YouTube channel Tu Esquina Filosofica and organized for Bernie Sanders in 2016 and 2020.