Category Archives: Revolution

Not Just an Orchard, Not Merely a Field, We Demand the Whole World

Caption: Mallu Swarajyam (left) and other members of an armed squad during the Telangana armed struggle (1946-1951). Credit: Sunil Janah / Prajasakti Publishing House.

Sunil Janah, Mallu Swarajayam and other members of an armed squad during the Telangana armed struggle, 1946-1951.

When news of the revolution in the Tsar’s empire filtered into British-dominated India in 1917-1918, the reception was universal: if they could overthrow the Tsar, then we can overthrow the British Raj. But the temperature had risen beyond merely the removal of the British; the barometric pressure had increased in the direction of a social revolution. A liberal newspaper in Bombay wrote, ‘The fact is Bolshevism is not the invention of Lenin or any man. It is the inexorable product of the economic system which dooms the millions to a life of ill-requited toil in order that a few thousands may revel in luxury’. That economic system – capitalism – had created great wealth but it could not improve the condition of the billions of people who produced that wealth.

Spurred on by the October Revolution of 1917, Indian workers went on strike after strike, eventually creating the All India Trade Union Congress in 1920. The energy generated by the October Revolution and the strike wave produced the conditions for the creation of the Indian communist movement a hundred years ago. Revolutionaries in exile from Berlin to Tokyo and revolutionaries inside India looked towards Tashkent (in the Soviet Union), where their comrades formed the Communist Party of India on 17 October 1920.

Our dossier no. 32 (September 2020) is a tribute to the One Hundred Years of the Communist Movement in India. It is not easy – in this brief format – to summarise the sacrifices and challenges, the struggles and advances of the millions of Indian communists over these hundred years; this dossier provides an introduction to a complicated and resilient world of revolutionary activism in a country that recently had – in one day – more COVID-19 cases than China has had during the entire pandemic.

Introducing the role of communists into the conversation in our time can raises eyebrows, as some question the relevance of the tradition. Meanwhile, despite the pandemic, in factories and fields, in call centres and office buildings across India, workers continue to produce the goods and services under the same oppressive conditions. Capitalism dances between a major contradiction: between social production and private property. Capital – namely Money that thirsts to make more Money endlessly – organises all the forces of production into one effectively organised social process that generates maximum profits to the owners and minimum possible wages to workers. The remarkable network of social production ties workers in one part of the world to another, brings commodities from there to here. This network promised to link people together and to allow humans to enjoy the fruits of each other’s labour.

Caption: Members of the Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti headed by communist leader SS Mirajkar (third from right, wearing dark glasses) who was then the Mayor of Bombay, demonstrating before the Parliament House in New Delhi, 1958. Credit: The Hindu Archives.

Members of the Samyukta Maharasthra Samiti headed by communist leader SS Mirajkar who was then the Mayor of Bombay, demonstrating before the Parliament House in New Delhi, 1958.

The problem, however, is that the immense productivity of capitalism stands on the foundation of private property. Capital is restless and must always seek a profit. It is through the control of the production process that capital exploits labour and draws out surplus value. Private capital controls the system of social production, and appropriates the social wealth produced, with little share to the actual producers.

The control of capital over the production process prevents the flowering of the creative power of human labour; the pressure of profit, the fruit of private property, seeks to draw more and more from the workers whose own resourcefulness is stifled by the demands of routine, obedience, and conformity enforced by the social relations of production.

Poverty is not an unfortunate manifestation of this system, but its necessary product. To eradicate poverty – which is a shared human dream – requires us to do more than seek welfare and charity. Charity and welfare might lighten the immediacy of suffering, but they cannot do more than that. To the early Indian communists, it was not enough to remove the British from India and allow Indian capitalists to rule the country; their philanthropy would be insufficient against the reproduction of generations of poverty. The producing classes needed to be organised to overthrow the system of private property and to found a system based on socialist principles. That is what has motivated generations of Indian communists, whose story is in our dossier, and that is what motivates the left around the world in our time.

Caption: A page from Hungry Bengal (1945) by Chittaprosad. Copies of the book were seized and burnt by the British; this drawing is from the only surviving copy (reprinted in facsimile by DAG Modern, New Delhi, 2011). Chittaprosad's drawings on the Bengal Famine were published in the Communist Party of India's journal People's War, helping to intensify popular anger against the British colonial regime.

Chittaprosad, Hungry Bengal, 1945.

In July 1921, the Communist International formulated rules and advice for communists around the world. Most of these rules are straightforward. But one particular statement stands out: ‘For a communist party, there is no time in which the party organisation cannot be politically active’. This advice was useful seventy years later, when the USSR collapsed, and the world communist movement suffered greatly from its demise. History, it was said, is over: capitalism has proved that it is now eternal and cannot be superseded.

Since 1989, the capitalist system has lurched from crisis to crisis, unable to face its deeply rooted contradictions and unable to offer solutions to endemic social problems. Marxism remains an essential framework to analyse a system that continues to operate by its centuries old rhythms. Capitalism has no doubt changed in many different ways, developed a greater role for finance for instance; but it remains governed by the system of social production and private gain, by capital’s immense power over the system of production and accumulation. Harsh conditions of work and life, the fight over labour time and intensity, the pressures of unemployment and hunger illuminate the centrality of class exploitation in our social order. This situation calls upon the left to be ‘politically active’, to extend, to deepen, and to unify the myriad struggles for concrete demands into a larger, stronger movement. As each struggle develops, it provokes a response from the capitalists and the state. And each response – often violence by the police – has the potential, when combined with political education, to clarify the political fight that must be waged by the workers not for this or that reform alone but for the transformation of a system that continues to generate poverty. The capitalist system, by its nature, produces diabolical levels of poverty; the future does not seem possible within the system.

Caption: Circa 1946: Godavari Parulekar, leader of the communist movement and the All India Kisan Sabha, addressing the Warli tribals of Thane in present-day Maharashtra. The Warli Revolt, led by the Kisan Sabha against oppression by landlords, was launched in 1945. Credit: Margaret Bourke-White / The Hindu Archives.

Margaret Bourke-White, Godavari Parulekar addresses an All India Kisan Sabha gathering in Thane, 1945.

A better way has to be possible. That is the great possibility of socialism, the great hope that we can go beyond a system that immiserates billions of people. For the 1983 film Mazdoor (Worker), Hasan Kamal wrote a song that captures the essence of this sentiment:

Hum mehnat-kash is duniya se jab apna hissa maangenge
Ek baagh nahin, ek khet nahin: hum saari duniya maangenge.

When we labourers demand our share of the world.
Not just an orchard, not merely a field: we will demand the whole world.

The extradition hearing for Julian Assange opened in London on 7 September. Assange is wanted by the United States of America for ‘computer-related offences’; but the US government really wants him for exposing US war crimes in Iraq and elsewhere (as I detailed recently). The persecution of Assange has had a chilling effect on whistle-blowers and on investigative journalism. It is the outcome desired by the powerful.

Confidence does not return because of the courage of individuals. It is when people such as the communists of India take to the streets in the millions that ideas of peace become vital. That is why we stand with publishers and journalists who – given courage by the mass movements – reveal the terrible secrets of the powerful.

The post Not Just an Orchard, Not Merely a Field, We Demand the Whole World first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Cuba: From the Moncada to the Front Lines of the Pandemic

Santiago de Cuba. Photo: Bill Hackwell

Today Cuba celebrates the 67th anniversary of the assault on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes barracks that mark the beginning of the Cuban Revolution. From this beginning, Cuba’s altruistic view of making the world safer and healthier began.

It has developed into a society that gives everything it has without expecting credit. There are hundreds of examples of this; for instance, what took place in 1986, after the nuclear catastrophe of Chernobyl, when blockaded Cuba took in over 20,000 young cancer victims and their family members from 1989 to 2011 providing medical care, schooling, clothing, food, accommodation, playgrounds – all free of charge.

Another story worth remembering is one of forgiveness in 2007 when Mario Terán, the Bolivian sergeant who murdered Che Guevara on October 9, 1967, was operated on for free by Cuban doctors who restored his vision in a hospital donated by the Cuban government to Bolivia and inaugurated by President Evo Morales in the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

And now Cuba is on the world stage in the midst of this dangerous global Pandemic and Cuba is continuing to save lives, while the US government and its media, instead of being constructive in the battle, have intensified the campaign to discredit Cuba’s collaboration. The misinformation is not surprising from a country whose president’s main vocation is preaching an endless stream of lies.

Even Trump’s faithful followers must be starting to see that there is a contradiction in how the richest country in the world has not been able to put any brake on the virus, is accumulating the highest number of infections and deaths, with no end in sight, while attacking Cuba, a nation that not only has been able to control the pandemic but has extended their full solidarity to other nations.

Why the Trump administration puts priority on discrediting Cuba’s international missions abroad that save lives instead of focusing on the social and human cost in the US is mindboggling and criminal. Trump, his anti-Cuba friends in Florida, and the mainstream media are mixing up a concoction of ignorance with malicious intention, never mentioning that Cuba has flattened the curve of the virus and has had only one death in three weeks.

All the empty words we hear about the Cuban Medical Brigades going to other countries being forced labor is not only without proof but fails to explain why there are many more medical professionals who volunteer to go than openings. Furthermore, the White House, the State Department, and the media fail to mention one word about the 60-year-old US blockade and its impact against the island that causes unnecessary suffering for the Cuban people. As we have become accustomed, the Trump Administration likes to throw things at the wall to see what sticks.

A few days ago, Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, an organization with a long history of parroting the official line of the US,  jumped on the bandwagon with a tweet, “Cuban doctors deployed abroad offer valuable service but at the expense of their freedoms”. At least Mr. Roth admitted that Cuban doctors offered valuable services but Roth offered no proof about what he meant. He continues, “They can be disciplined for being friends w/ people who hold hostile or contrary views to the Cuban revolution and face prosecution if they “abandon” their jobs. This is the Executive Director of an international so-called human rights organization talking with no examples.

Cuba, with a little more than 11 million people, has more than 95,000 doctors, 9 for every 1,000 inhabitants, and more than 85,000 nurses that are part of the 492,000 Cuban health professionals according to the latest Statistical Yearbook at the beginning of 2019.

According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the first brigade of Cuba health professionals to provide services abroad was in Algeria in 1963. Since then, more than 400,000 professionals have served in 164 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and even Portugal.

These services, popularly known as “medical missions,” include sending health professionals to countries that officially request them from the Cuban government. And those who go do so voluntarily because they are part of a society that puts human lives at the center. They leave their families behind for a just cause but they also know that the Cuban government will take care of them.

Cuba is so respected around the world that recently eight Cuban Scientists were chosen as Advisors for the World Struggle against COVID-19 as part of an Inter-Academy Panel (IAP). In 2000, the IAP founded the Inter-Academy Council (IAC) and the Inter-Academy Medical Panel (IAMP).  Currently, membership includes 140 national and regional Academies of Science, including all branches of science, engineering, and medicine from around the world.

Despite the slander, Cuba continues to extend its solidarity with great pride. Currently, there are three thousand members of the Henry Reeve medical brigades (designed to fight pandemics and natural disasters) who are on the front lines of the pandemic in 37 countries with 43 brigades.

But the attacks never quit.  On May 8, 2020, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) added another $2 million to undermine the work of the brigades and a month later, head Cuba hater Marco Rubio joined other Republican Senators and presented a bill to “punish” countries that sign agreements with the Cuban government to receive this support. Rubio’s credibility has been suspect ever since he was caught in his own lies by claiming his parents ‘came to America following Fidel Castro’s takeover’ of Cuba when, in fact, they came to the US in 1956, three years before the revolution during the repression of the US-backed Bautista regime.

One would think that government officials in Florida like Rubio would be focused on containing COVID-19 in their state that has become an epicenter of infection rates and deaths instead of being fixated on tarnishing the success that Cuba is having in beating back the pandemic.

Some of the medical personnel are now returning to Cuba from their missions and have been telling their experiences in their own words to the people through video conferencing, welcomed by President Miguel Diaz Canel.

Dr. Edelsy Delgado, an Intensive Care specialist from the Gustavo Aldereguía Hospital in Cienfuegos, kept a journal during the three months he spent in Andorra. He said upon his return “Believe me, we represented Cuba at the highest level.”

Leidisbet Lopez Cantero, a nurse from Camaguey, was the flag-bearer who couldn’t hold back her tears when she got off the airplane that brought her to Havana and saw her mother and son speaking of her in the welcoming video.

Dr Michael Cabrera Laza, head of the group of five distinguished consultants in Nicaragua, was deeply moved as he spoke of traveling through all 17 regions of Nicaragua, and finding in absolutely all of them the marks left by some Cuban doctor or teacher or the presence of some community leader trained in Cuba. “And in every action that we carried out, Fidel was there.”

Nurses Francisco Gonzalez Prada of Sancti Spiritus, Liliana Martinez of Holguin, and Aldo Moreira of Camaguey, who were all part of the Antigua and Barbuda brigade testified about their own feelings when they saw the positive changes in how their patients felt when they found out they were being cared for by Cubans. “I didn’t make a mistake; I am right where I should be.”

Cuba is right where it should be without hesitation.

Shedding a Foreign Policy Based on Imperialism

Read Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, and Part V.

Is the U.S. ripe for a real revolution, where the disenfranchised and repressed overthrow the enfranchised and privileged?

Unfortunately, there are many weapons in the hands of the existing U.S. power structure. These include racism, control of the media, chauvinism, greed and more. These are all put into the service of weakening and dividing the population, and pitting them against each other, thus preventing the unity that might otherwise become the demise of the oligarchs and corporations.

It is encouraging to see apparently sincere support for Black Lives Matter and resistance against the police and other forces of suppression, but how deep does this sincerity run? How concrete and effective will it be? Or will it become largely cosmetic, as with past attempts to fight racism and change our society in fundamental ways? Many fear, based on experience, that the current uprising will be insufficient by itself to make more than a token difference, that the consciousness raised will be largely temporary and less than meaningful.

The present series of articles suggests a different – or at least complementary – approach. When the weak and disenfranchised attempt to take power, they need to be numerous, unified, determined and organized to succeed. That’s asking a lot, and few would argue that the movement in the U.S. possesses these traits at pressent.

An alternate approach is to strengthen, enfranchise, unify and organize the society first through other means, creating a stronger base upon which to redesign and reconstruct it. Rather than seizing power and then using it for social justice, we can empower the citizenry first or concurrently, thus enabling them to better press their demands and effectively alter their society.

One of the most pressing demands at present, voiced loudly and frequently in the demonstrations, is to tame police brutality, or even do away with the police altogether. Police brutality and endemic racism in the U.S. is in fact what motivated this series of proposals. Can we expect these demonstrations to have greater impact than previous movements, going back decades, generations and perhaps even centuries? What can we do to reach goals that continue to elude Blacks, Indigenous peoples and other disenfranchised populations?

Significantly, none of the installments of the manifesto has yet addressed the issue of policing, which will probably be the last installment other than a concluding one. This is because the other elements are all essential in doing away with a repressive and racist police force, and must be addressed first (in terms of explanation). In fact, all the elements are interrelated. They can be addressed separately to a certain extent, but they need each other in order to be fully successful, and therefore deserve to be demanded simultaneously.

A Foreign Po­­licy for the Masses

Part V proposed measures for taming the power and influence of the U.S. military, the main tool in imperialist ambitions that exhaust the resources of the U.S. population and enhance the power of its ultra-elite. Hand in hand with the military is a highly aggressive U.S. foreign policy, which is what drives an imperialistic use of the military. One is an extension of the other. Its basis is the Wolfowitz doctrine of 1992, the Project for a New American Century and other neoconservative formulations. World domination, the subservience of other nations and the weakening of noncompliant nations is its primary object, by means of bullying, threatening and ultimately sabotaging and destroying other nations in order to remain in complete control. It matters not what sacrifices the American people make in order to feed such megalomania, nor those made by the victims of this policy. Whether they are peaceful or not, they must die in their millions and become refugees in the tens of millions to feed the bloodthirst of this policy. Imperialism always targets the disempowered, and especially Black and Brown peoples.

Many of these traits of U.S. foreign policy may disappear or at least diminish in the absence of military projection, as discussed in Part V. Nevertheless, it is important to explicitly state how policy will change, which will in turn illustrate why the military is mostly superfluous to the welfare of the general population. A lot of the change is as simple as actually complying with international law, such as the Geneva Conventions and the UN Charter, to which the U.S. is already a signatory.

The central obligation of international law is that no nation will attack another or violate its sovereign territory except in response to a direct attack from that state, or a threat of immediate attack. Today the U.S. violates this obligation everywhere that it sends its drones to assassinate targets or even conduct surveillance without the permission of the nation in whose territory these missions are conducted. But of course, the U.S. goes well beyond such measures. It attempts “regime change” against countries that are not sufficiently loyal or compliant, and do not open their doors for exploitation of their economies for the benefit of U.S. corporations and interests, nor assist in enforcing U.S. global objectives.

Part of the problem is possibly that Congress has illegally abdicated its war powers under the U.S. Constitution. The Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) is unconstitutional because Congress cannot authorize modification of the Constitution by giving its power to the Executive branch of government, thereby abdicating its constitutional role. Only an approval by ¾ of the state legislatures can change the constitution. The AUMF must be abolished.

The use of economic, financial or other sanctions upon other nations is also a form of warfare, and potentially a cruel and devastating one. Such policies are therefore also illegal unless undertaken to counter a direct threat, and subsequent to a declaration of war by the Congress.

Other instruments of an imperialist foreign policy must also be dismantled. These include NATO, which is merely an association of gangsters, intended to enhance the ability of the U.S. to threaten and bully other nations. Similarly, the sole purpose of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation AKA School of the Americas is to assure that tiny power elites in countries that are under the domination of the U.S. will be able to suppress the rest of the population and thereby maintain their power for use in the service of the imperialist objectives of the U.S.

Similarly, the instruments of financial and economic coercion and exploitation must be disbanded. All international trade relations and commerce as currently upheld by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB) must be reformulated to protect the labor, human rights, economy, environment and domestic industry of partner and recipient nations so that the growth of local industry and agriculture has the advantage over foreign corporate domination. The WTO, IMF, and World Bank must be eliminated or replaced with new institutions that are democratic, transparent, and accountable to the citizens of all nations. All debts incurred by poor nations must be forgiven, and financial assistance structured so as to enhance a nation’s income and ability to provide for the welfare and prosperity of its people, rather than to provide income to the creditors.

Finally, all weapons development, sales and military aid must cease being used to dominate other nations and to further imperialist interests. Foremost among these are nuclear weapons. They are simply too dangerous to be put into the service of geopolitical strategic objectives. Furthermore, they are an expenditure that in no way contributes to the welfare and prosperity of the American people. They should be abolished and all nuclear powers should mutually reduce stockpiles to this end. The U.S. should sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and end the research, testing and stockpiling of all nuclear weapons of any size. The same should apply to chemical and biological weapons and land mines. In addition, the U.S. should reverse its withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and honor its stipulations.

In truth, the steps outlined in previous Manifesto installments, and especially number V (drastically reducing the role of the military) are likely to make the suggestions with regard to foreign policy relatively easy to implement. These effects will also become evident to a greater extent in the remaining installments.

“Optimism of the Will”: Palestinian Freedom is Possible Now

In a recent TV discussion, a respected pro-Palestine journalist declared that if any positive change or transformation ever occurs in the tragic Palestinian saga, it would not happen now, but that it would take a whole new generation to bring about such a paradigm shift.

As innocuous as the declaration may have seemed, it troubled me greatly.

I have heard this line over and over again, often reiterated by well-intentioned intellectuals, whose experiences in researching and writing on the so-called ‘Palestinian-Israeli conflict’ may have driven some of them to pessimism, if not despair.

The ‘hopelessness discourse’ is, perhaps, understandable if one is to examine the off-putting, tangible reality on the ground: the ever-entrenched Israeli occupation, the planned annexation of occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank, the shameful Arab normalization with Israel, the deafening silence of the international community and the futility of the quisling Palestinian leadership.

Subscribing to this logic is not only self-defeating, but ahistorical as well. Throughout history, every great achievement that brought about freedom and a measure of justice to any nation was realized despite seemingly insurmountable odds.

Indeed, who would have thought that the Algerian people were capable of defeating French colonialism when their tools of liberation were so rudimentary as compared with the awesome powers of the French military and its allies?

The same notion applies to many other modern historic experiences, from Vietnam to South Africa and from India to Cuba.

Palestine is not the exception.

However, the ‘hopelessness discourse’ is not as innocent as it may seem. It is propelled by the persisting failure to appreciate the centrality of the Palestinian people – or any other people, for that matter – in their own history. Additionally, it assumes that the Palestinian people are, frankly, ineffectual.

Interestingly, when many nations were still grappling with the concept of national identity, the Palestinian people had already developed a refined sense of modern collective identity and national consciousness. General mass strikes and civil disobedience challenging British imperialism and Zionist settlements in Palestine began nearly a century ago, culminating in the six-month-long general strike of 1936.

Since then, popular resistance, which is linked to a defined sense of national identity, has been a staple in Palestinian history. It was a prominent feature of the First Intifada, the popular uprising of 1987.

The fact that the Palestinian homeland was lost, despite the heightened consciousness of the Palestinian masses at the time, is hardly indicative of the Palestinian people’s ability to affect political outcomes.

Time and again, Palestinians have rebelled and, with each rebellion, they forced all parties, including Israel and the United States, to reconsider and overhaul their strategies altogether.

A case in point was the First Intifada.

When, on December 8, 1987, thousands took to the streets of the Jabaliya Refugee Camp, the Gaza Strip’s most crowded and poorest camp, the timing and the location of their uprising was most fitting, rational and necessary. Earlier that day, an Israeli truck had run over a convoy of cars carrying Palestinian laborers, killing four young men. For Jabaliya, as with the rest of Palestine, it was the last straw.

Responding to the chants and pleas of the Jabaliya mourners, Gaza was, within days, the breeding ground for a real revolution that was self-propelled and unwavering. The chants of Palestinians in the Strip were answered in the West Bank, and echoed just as loudly in Palestinian towns, including those located in Israel.

The contagious energy was emblematic of children and young adults wanting to reclaim the identities of their ancestors, which had been horribly disfigured and divided among regions, countries and refugee camps.

The Intifada — literally meaning the “shake off” — sent a powerful message to Israel that the Palestinian people are alive, and are still capable of upsetting all of Israel’s colonial endeavors. The Intifada also confronted the failure of the Palestinian and Arab leaderships, as they persisted in their factional and self-seeking politics.

In fact, the Madrid Talks in 1991 between Palestinians and Israelis were meant as an Israeli – American political compromise, aimed at ending the Intifada in exchange for acknowledging the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as a representative of the Palestinian people.

The Oslo Accords, signed by Yasser Arafat and Israel in 1993, squandered the gains of the Intifada and, ultimately, replaced the more democratically representative PLO with the corrupt Palestinian Authority.

But even then, the Palestinian people kept coming back, reclaiming, in their own way, their importance and centrality in the struggle. Gaza’s Great March of Return is but one of many such people-driven initiatives.

Palestine’s biggest challenge in the movement is not the failure of the people to register as a factor in the liberation of their own land, but their quisling leadership’s inability to appreciate the immense potential of harnessing the energies of Palestinians everywhere to stage a focused and strategic, anti-colonial, liberation campaign.

This lack of vision dates back to the late 1970s, when the Palestinian leadership labored to engage politically with Washington and other Western capitals, culminating in the pervading sense that, without US political validation, Palestinians would always remain marginal and irrelevant.

The Palestinian leadership’s calculations at the time proved disastrous. After decades of catering to Washington’s expectations and diktats, the Palestinian leadership, ultimately, returned empty-handed, as the current Donald Trump administration’s ‘Deal of the Century’ has finally proven.

I have recently spoken with two young Palestinian female activists: one is based in besieged Gaza and the other in the city of Seattle. Their forward-thinking discourse is, itself, a testament that the pessimism of some intellectuals does not define the thinking of this young Palestinian generation, and there would be no need to dismiss the collective efforts of this budding generation in anticipation of the rise of a ‘better’ one.

Malak Shalabi, a Seattle-based law student, does not convey a message of despair, but that of action. “It’s really important for every Palestinian and every human rights activist to champion the Palestinian cause regardless of where they are, and it is important especially now, ” she told me.

“There are currently waves of social movements here in the United States, around civil rights for Black people and other issues that are (becoming) pressing topics — equality and justice — in the mainstream. As Palestinians, it’s important that we (take the Palestinian cause) to the mainstream as well,” she added.

“There is a lot of work happening among Palestinian activists here in the United States, on the ground, at a social, economic, and political level, to make sure that the link between Black Lives Matter and Palestine happens,” she added.

On her part, Wafaa Aludaini in Gaza spoke about her organization’s – 16th October Group – relentless efforts to engage communities all over the world, to play their part in exposing Israeli war crimes in Gaza and ending the protracted siege on the impoverished Strip.

“Palestinians and pro-Palestinian activists outside are important because they make our voices heard outside Palestine, as mainstream media does not report (the truth of) what is taking place here,” she told me.

For these efforts to succeed, “we all need to be united,” she asserted, referring to the Palestinian people at home and in the diaspora, and the entire pro-Palestinian solidarity movement everywhere, as well.

The words of Malak and Wafaa are validated by the growing solidarity with Palestine in the BLM movement, as well as with numerous other justice movements the world over.

On June 28, the UK chapter of the BLM tweeted that it “proudly” stands in solidarity with Palestinians and rejects Israel’s plans to annex large areas of the West Bank.

BLM went further, criticizing British politics for being “gagged of the right to critique Zionism and Israel’s settler-colonial pursuits”.

Repeating the claim that a whole new generation needs to replace the current one for any change to occur in Palestine is an insult – although, at times, unintended – to generations of Palestinians, whose struggle and sacrifices are present in every aspect of Palestinian lives.

Simply because the odds stacked against Palestinian freedom seem too great at the moment, does not justify the discounting of an entire nation, which has lived through many wars, protracted sieges and untold hardship. Moreover, the next generation is but a mere evolution of the consciousness of the current one. They cannot be delinked or analyzed separately.

In his “Prison Notebooks”, anti-fascist intellectual, Antonio Gramsci, coined the term “pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.”

While logical analysis of a situation may lead the intellect to despair, the potential for social and political revolutions and transformations must keep us all motivated to keep the struggle going, no matter the odds.

Substance Matters More Than Symbols

The current wake-up call being experienced by more Americans about historic racism is leading to hopeful actions but if all that results is removal of symbolic remnants of a wretched past these may lead to very little substantial change of the present and future. The rush to remove statues, change street names, remove written distortions of history and denounce past individuals wont mean much if we don’t confront the debased political economic system that is the substance on which those symbols rest and which creates present reality that still only profits a small minority at increasingly dangerous cost to the great majority.

Building a monument to Martin Luther King or Malcolm X to replace those previously honoring slave owners among the original 1% might be wonderful but will only mean new places for birds to leave their droppings unless we make far more substantial changes in the system that makes good use of symbols, even profiting from their creation and service, while maintaining the social and environmental destruction of private profit capitalism.

Changing the name of Wall Street to Open Border Boulevard wont mean much if we maintain it as a citadel of billions for minority capital that comes from the backs, minds and pocketbooks of majority workers.

Renaming the Pentagon the Emma Goldman building won’t make a dime’s bit of difference if we continue using it as headquarters for spending more than 700 billion dollars a year on war and mass murder while raping language in calling that defense.


Tearing down a statue of Columbus might make a minority among us feel good but the majority of us need to understand that his voyage was not financed by mythological royalty but by early capital in its desire for spreading commerce to new markets. Those 15th century economic powers were on their way to becoming global and have grown tremendously since then, now ruling the planet with massive power and control in the 21st century. They will not be contested by tumbling a monument or burning a flag or taking a knee before it in more polite protest.

We need to learn real history in order to change the present and future, not simply destroy or rename symbols like statues and buildings and streets. The system that must be confronted and radically changed for the good of all people is the one that profited from slavery in the past, and massive bloody violence before and since slavery which continues up to the minute with more threatened as idiot servants of wealth claim villainy all around us with distractions that make their lies inaudible and our dangerous reality all but invisible. We may be helped inspirationally by destroying some symbols and even creating new ones, but the major work must be done on the substance of reality and not its representations and cosmetically false history lessons.

Symbols can play a vital role in many of our lives, whether national, religious or even more personal, but no one can pay the rent or mortgage by giving the landlord a flag or the bank a Koran, Menorah or four-leaf clover, nor feed a family by leaving a statue of Jesus at the CVS, Costco or Trader Joe’s checkout line. Until we change the political economic foundation of the society from a private profit first focus which approaches moral fanaticism to a humane placing of the public good as primary before any private gain, updating the books at a library or the art at a museum will only benefit those able to attend libraries and museums now, but we need to make a difference in the housing and feeding and health care of a population so that all can attend and benefit from libraries and museums in the future.

The anti-democratic political economics of war and injustice that are the foundation of capitalism must be radically changed from its roots, and confronting its history is not only important but critical to really changing the future in substance and not simply in its symbols. At the present moment of more glaring breakdowns in the economy reflected in a health care system that makes primitive societies look at least morally superior, and with national leadership idiotically lashing out at Russia, China and a growing global population finding the USA the most dangerous power in the world, a desire to confront historical lies is important. But of far greater consequence is the creation of a material truth that is a complete, and not only in specific but all circumstances, break with the inhuman aspects of reality that are leading to serious crises not only in health and markets but in planetary survival itself.

And attacks on speech and the labeling of too many things as “hate crimes” are hardly a healthy reaction to past disgraceful language and especially brutal treatment of humanity. In fact, such actions are in perfect keeping with the worst aspects of a society and culture the anti-speech crowds are supposedly against. Treating some nose-picking intellectuals as brilliant creators of self-lobotomies and some market hustlers as revolutionaries for gaining lucrative incomes by indulging in establishment acceptable speech and teaching are not just symbolic but substantial efforts to smother the demand for real change under a blanket of reactionary practice using language of the present to strengthen systems of the past.

What’s most important for sincere advocates of change to understand is the fact that during the current capitalist pandemic-economic crisis, more than 45 million Americans have filed for unemployment insurance and at the same time 29 Americans have become members of the billionaire brigade which now numbers nearly 700 people. That’s in a nation of nearly 350 million people. If that describes a democratic republic, then everyone having cancer describes a healthy public.

Those who find such incredible economic disparities tolerable will probably find the new markets for symbols to replace old ones lucrative forms of advancing their own class privileges. The rest of us need to join together in transforming every aspect of our political economy to one that works for peace, justice and humanity, and choose our symbols later, after we’ve seen to everyone’s right to food, clothing, shelter, and an environment assuring a healthy future for all and not just some. Chains, whether enclosing our bodies or our minds, need to be broken, in substance.

Why is this Ongoing American “Revolution” Bound to Fail?

Observed from outer space, the United States is in a revolutionary turmoil. Fires are burning, thousands of people are confronting police and other security forces. There are barricades, banners, posters, and there is rage.

Rage is well justified. Grievances run deep, through the veins of a confused and socially insecure population, in both cities and the countryside. Minorities feel and actually are oppressed. Indeed they have been disgracefully oppressed, since the birth of the country, over two centuries ago (see my latest report carried by this magazine).

There are some correct words uttered and written; many appropriate sentiments are expressed.

And yet, and yet… It looks like a revolution, it feels like a revolution, but it is not a revolution. It definitely is not! Why?

*****

An expert on Communist China, a man who spent many years living in, and writing books about, the most populous country on Earth, Jeff Brown, recently voiced something that immediately caught my attention. He described, accurately, on his China Rising Radio Sinoland, what has been taking place in his native country, United States:

Protests in the USA, land of Marlboro Man will come to nothing because there is no solidarity, no vision, nor guiding ideology to unite the people in the common struggle against the 1%. Just ask the Black Panthers and Mao Zedong.

This is precisely when ‘guiding ideology’ is desperately needed! But it is nowhere to be found.

For years and decades, the US (and European) elites and their mass media, as well as their educational plus ‘entertainment’ outlets, have been systematically de-politicizing the brains of their citizens. Pornography, consumerism, and sitcoms instead of deep, philosophical books and films. Massive – often booze and sex-oriented – travel, instead of roaming the world in search of knowledge, answers, while building bridges between different cultures (even between those of victims and victimizers).

Results are increasingly evident.

Citizens in the Western countries were told that the ideologies, particularly the left ones, became “something that belongs to the past,” “something heavy,” unattractive, and definitely not ‘cool.’ Western masses accepted it easily, without realizing that without the left-wing ideologies, there can be no change, no revolution, and no organized opposition to the regime, which has been plundering the world for several hundreds of years.

They were told that Democrats are representing left-wing, and Republicans, right-wing. Deep inside, many felt it is rubbish. There is only one right-wing political party in the US – Democrat-Republican one. But it was better for the great majority just to ignore its own instincts and swim with the flow.

*****

It went so far that most of the people in North America and Europe reached the point when they were not even able to commit themselves to almost anything, anymore, from the Communist movements to marriages and relationships. I recently described this occurrence in my book “Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism.”

There are many explanations for this. One of them: regime created society built on extreme individualism, selfishness, and shallow perception of the world. To organize, to commit, actually requires at least some discipline, effort, and definitely great dedicated effort to learn (about the world, a person, or a movement) and to work hard for a better world. It is not easy to become a revolutionary when one is positioned on a couch, or a gym, or while banging for hours every day into a smartphone.

The results are sad. Anarchism, consisting of countless fragmented approaches, is increasingly popular, but it will definitely not change the country.

When leaders of the ‘revolutionary commune’ in Seattle were approached by sympathetic journalists and asked about their goals, they could not answer. These were, undoubtfully, people with good intentions, outraged by racism, and by the killing of innocent people. But do they have plans, strategy, an organization to overthrow the system which is literally choking billions of lives on all continents? Definitely not!

On June 11, 2020, RT filed a report about the situation in Seattle:

A few different organizations have different demands, and no one speaks for everyone, but everyone’s trying to get together,” Simone clarified, implying that the much-discussed list of “demands” that have circulated for the past few days don’t represent the wishes of the entire community. However, there are a few lines of commonality running through the settlement.

Everyone’s upset. We all came here in unity, just over the fact that cops need accountability,” he said, declaring that his decision to join the demonstration was about “trying to send a message and get accountability held.”

Now we’re here – let’s get the dialogue going,” Simone continued, unwilling to commit to taking over other precincts, expanding the Zone, or any of the ambitious demands made by others in the group.”

*****

Russian Bolsheviks had it clear, and the same could be said about their followers. Before the 1917 Great October Socialist Revolution, they spent years and decades educating people all over their vast country. Some of the greatest thinkers and writers, including novelist Maxim Gorky and poet Vladimir Mayakovski, were participating in the “project.” Even simple peasants were easily grasping the reality of their dismal existence while getting inspired by some of the greatest minds of their nation. If not for the Cold War and West’s brutal interference, the Soviet Union would survive and thrive until this day.

The same could be said about the great revolutionary struggles of China, Vietnam, Laos, Cuba, Venezuela, where hundreds of millions of tremendous works of philosophy, fiction and poetry have been distributed, for free, to both peasants and workers, who easily understood and got inspired by them. In China, in the 1930s, the entire so-called “Shanghai School of Cinema” was born, a true socialist-realism movement that helped to educate the Chinese public about the state in which it was forced to exist.

Big and successful revolutions were constructed and then supported by the educated urban and rural poor, who were awakened and consequently outraged by their position in the society.

*****

Unfortunately, the rebellion in the United States is strategically shallow. There are no great leaders, no cultural figures leading it, no extraordinary educators.

Without any doubt, there are clear reasons for rage and resistance. Racism is one tremendous one.

And, there are other ones: US society, in general, is tired as it is depressed. As it is confused. The country is robbing, literally looting the entire Planet. It tortures people in various countries. Rainforests are burning in Indonesia, Brazil, and Congo to satisfy demands for more palm oil and other raw materials. US citizens are consuming as no other nation under the sun does. They entertain themselves, often living frivolous, empty lives. And yet, almost no one seems to be happy there; no one satisfied.

People know something went essentially wrong, but they are not sure precisely what it is. Or, who should really be blamed?

There is an acute lack of solidarity. And everything is happening impromptu.

Are the ‘members of the majority’ in the US truly kneeling because they are in unison with the oppressed minorities and the brutalized non-Western world? Or are they “trying to save their own skin,” and at the end, keep the status quo intact, as has happened in Australia and their basically insincere “We Are Sorry!” 2008 movement?

There is no strong “front,” there is no revolutionary program.

It appears that the country is not ready, not prepared, for a huge job of re-defining itself.

Insecurity is due to the lack of free medical care, education, and subsidized housing. Most of the people are in debt. Depression is, at least partially, due to overconsumption of intellectual and emotional junk. There is plenty of fundamentalist religions, but almost no discussion about how to improve life in this world.

Segregated, atomized, and otherwise, fragmented society seems to be unable to give birth to a truly compassionate, egalitarian national project.

Many US citizens see themselves as “victims.” Ethnic minorities definitely are. Are the others, too? Who is the victim, and who is the perpetrator? On which side of the scales sits a regular middle-class family, compliant and, by global comparison, heavily indulged in overconsumption? So far, there is no open discussion on this topic. In fact, it is being avoided by all means.

There seems to be at least some consensus that 1% of the richest is to blame, as well as the entire corporate and political system, and also banks. But what about the majority; those individuals who keep voting for the system, those who are making sure to ignore imperialism, racism, inequality?

Many questions should be asked, particularly now, but they are not. The very uncomfortable questions they are.

But without asking them, without searching for honest answers, there is no way forward, and no true revolution possible.

The neo-liberal system created entire nations that cannot think independently and creatively. US is definitely one of them. People were bombarded with propaganda slogans that they are free, enjoying liberties. But when the day to act arrived, there has been nothing substantial in terms of new, revolutionary ideas. Just one enormous void. Nothing that could inspire the nation and the world.

The outrage over the brutal police killing propelled millions of people to the streets. The mood has been truly rebellious, revolutionary, geared for big changes.

But then, nothing!

Revolution is being postponed. Opportunities lost. Postponed by how many years?

The truth is – there are no shortcuts. Those who sincerely want to change the United States will have to follow the revolutionary formula from other countries. The formula is mainly based on education, knowledge, and determined, selfless work for the country and the world, called “internationalism.”

Unless the US comes up with an absolutely new strategy, formula, but right now, frankly, it seems to be extremely far from coming up with it!

• First published by NEO – New Eastern Outlook (a journal of the Russian Academy of Sciences)

On Strawmen and Racism

Paul Craig Roberts, a staunch opponent of police brutality in his writings, seeks to deny white racism or argue that we are all racist. In a recent article, he writes, “If white people are racist, how was Obama twice elected president of the United States?”

With all due respect, the question is puerile. First, as it is worded, it posits that white people are a monolith, that all white people are racist. Second, it posits that the election was decided between being white and black and not between being Democrat and Republican. Third, and most egregiously, the question posits that the white racism, to any significant degree, does not exist.

His second question — “Are white people racist by nature?” — is a strawman. First skin pigmentation does not correlate with an inherited attitude. Obviously any racism is inculcated or otherwise learned. You are not born into the world a racist.

Then PCR asserts, based on the false premise, “Those who say whites are racist by nature simultaneously claim that hundreds of thousands of Lincoln’s soldiers died in order to free black people from slavery and that white people in the North carried on a relentless long war against white people in the South for the benefit of black people.”

PCR claims that the Civil War was simply “to free black people from slavery.” PBS.org framed it otherwise,

A common explanation is that the Civil War was fought over the moral issue of slavery. In fact, it was the economics of slavery and political control of that system that was central to the conflict.

At the time of the Civil War, PCR’s argument must be that northern whites were not racist, at least not by nature, but the southern whites must be racist since they practiced slavery or were insouciant to the practice around them. The argument (that whites are not racist) is becoming puzzling because whites are being divided up into those who are not racist because they are opposed to slavery and those who support slavery, hence they must be racist based on their behavior. As far as northern whites are concerned, the writer has answered his own question about whether slavery is a part of the white people’s nature. Or is PCR hypothesizing that such a nature can be overcome?

Moreover, if slavery equates with racism (and data indicates that it does because seldom was slavery imposed by whites on other whites in the US, and never chattel slavery), then PCR must by virtue of his argument agree that, prior to the Civil War when slavery was also practiced in northern states, the slave owners and those who were silent about slavery in their region were racist.

PCR continues to try and shoot down the notion of white-on-black racism: “It is these same racist white people who passed the 1964 Civil Rights Act 56 years ago and permitted the establishment of racial quotas and contract set-asides for blacks that gave blacks rights and privileges that white people do not have.”

Here PCR cherrypicks points to support his thesis that whites (and I maintain this must be understood as some whites) are not racist. However, the comparatively preponderant mass incarceration of blacks, the comparatively preponderant shootings of blacks by police, the comparatively preponderant homelessness of blacks and so much more points to racism being entrenched and systemic. Since whites rule the roost, these white roosters and the white bystanders bear responsibility.

The writer continues to press his viewpoint, “If white people are so racist, how can it be that many of them are upset about George Floyd’s death from police violence and some joined the protests? Either white people are racist by nature or they aren’t racist by nature.”

First, it was PCR who came up with the strawman argument that white racism is part of white nature. The premise, as already argued, is fallacious and to argue against one’s own fallacious premise is plainly illogical. Second, now the writer points out that “many [whites] are upset about George Floyd’s death from police violence”; ergo, there are some whites who are supposedly insouciant (or maybe even pleased) about the police killing. The conclusion is that not all whites are racist and certainly not by nature racist.

The writer asks, “So what is police violence against white people? Are white people murdered and brutalized by police because of their skin color? Is this structural violence against white people?”

The writer wants to look at a multifaceted issue with a black-and-white lens. Obviously that is a wrongheaded way to approach any issue. If one genuinely wants to understand an issue, one should consider all the possible causes related to the outcome in question, and not investigate only as an either-or issue; the latter being a path to bias and prejudice.

No reasonable thinker denies that there are factors beside racism that predispose police to brutality and killing. Peer pressure, the corrupting influence of power, militarization, media glorification of cops, etc. People know that some police run rackets, engage in the drug trade, sex trade, accept freebies, practice extortion, etc. Cops that do not participate but know of such criminality among their ranks are also bad apples. Although there are a plethora of bad apples in the police orchard, few would argue that all cops are bad apples. However, given the sordid side of policing and the militarization of policing in the USA, becoming a cop might not be the best career choice for a morally centered person. There may be some who enter a career in policing ignorant of the systemic racism and criminality and others who know but vainly hope that they can be part of bringing policing back to the role of serving the public.

PCR continues, “A multicultural racially diverse society, which the United States has become as a result of illegal immigration and the change in immigration law in 1965, cannot survive if race hatred is a feature of the society.”

No country can survive if race hatred is a feature of the country. As for “illegal immigration,” why frame it in terms of legality? Was it legal when Europeans slaughtered the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island and stole their land? Who is primarily responsible for the emergence of a multicultural racially diverse society (which I see as an enrichment of a tolerant society)? Was it not white people who violently inserted themselves into a continent of several Indigenous nations? Was it not white people who abducted Africans as chattel?

PCR criticizes the protestors; “None of those screaming racism are interested in stopping police violence.”

If they are not interested in stopping police violence, then why are people in the streets? As for “screaming racism,” a random sampling of the placards does not indicate racism as a motif of the protestors. The abundance of signs read “Black Lives Matter,” “I can’t breathe,” “Justice 4 George Floyd,” and “No Peace, No Justice.”

PCR raises another strawman: “Of course there are racists, but the assumption that these animosities exist only between skin colors is problematic. In modern times the most extreme manifestitions [sic] of racial violence are tribal between blacks themselves, such as the Rwandan genocide, the mass slaughter of Tutsi by the Hutu.”

Who assumes animosities exist only between skin colors? It seems that PCR argues this to attack black-on-black violence. He elides white-on-white extreme violence such as Nazi Germans against other Europeans, Jews, and Communists; the British-on-Irish violence; etc. PCR also is ignorant of the western (read white) world’s involvement in the Rwandan genocide.1

PCR raises another point of contention. “Indeed, the black slave trade is the product of blacks themselves and has its origin in 1600 in the slave wars fought by the black Kingdom of Dahomey…. It is as if it never was written.”

It is not down the memory hole. This is tu quoque argumentation by PCR. It is elementary morality that “we” are responsible for “our” crimes and atoning for those crimes. That blacks also practiced slavery does not make white slavery against blacks (or any other peoples) any more acceptable. All slavery is abhorrent, but “our” focus should primarily be on righting “our” wrongs.

PCR asserts, “Whites, of course, have committed far more violence against one another than they have against people of color.”

First, PCR verges on contradicting himself, as he wrote in the same article: “In modern times the most extreme manifestitions [sic] of racial violence are tribal between blacks themselves.” Second, PCR, too often, does not substantiate what he writes. According to professor David Stannard, “The destruction of the Indians of the Americas was, far and away, the most massive act of genocide in the history of the world.”2 ” After 1492, 95 percent of the Indigenous people were wiped out; maybe 100 million.”3 Third, the logic fails big time because no one denies inter-group violence. Does that mean that one cannot feel prejudice toward an out-group member? During the world wars, blacks and Indigenous peoples joined the military and fought (even though still experiencing discrimination and racism within the military) against the enemies of the US. Nationalism can often cause a coming together of different groupings within a country.

PCR complains, “Even white language is said to be racist. The banned n-word is said to be symbolic of white racism. But every white ethnicity has been called names that are slurs— dago, polack, frog, limey. The Irish are bog-trotters.”

White language!? What is white language? Is that English as is spoken by so much of the world that includes African countries, India, Hong Kong, etc? As for slurs, there are words better avoided because of the hurt and offense they can cause to others.4

PCR asserts that his questions do matter to a racially diverse multicultural society. “Such a society cannot survive the cultivation of racial enmity. When the goal is revolution, not reform, racial enmity is the weapon.”

I postulate that a great deal of the protests are because proposed reforms have led nowhere. The system perpetuates itself. It is the system that needs to be overthrown and replaced. That calls for revolution. As Mark Twain once said,

I am said to be a revolutionist in my sympathies, by birth, by breeding and by principle. I am always on the side of the revolutionists, because there never was a revolution unless there were some oppressive and intolerable conditions against which to revolute.5

  1. PCR’s depiction of the Rwandan genocide as against Tutsi by Hutu requires a note. Edward Herman and David Peterson cast doubt on the monopoly media narrative in their book Enduring Lies: The Rwandan Genocide in the Propaganda System, 20 Years Later. Also see Keith Harmon Snow, “Rwanda’s Secret War: U.S.-backed destabilization of Central Africa.”
  2. David E. Stannard, American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World (London: Oxford University Press, 1992): p. x.
  3. Stannard, p. 151.
  4. I dislike PC culture, especially as it does not take fully into consideration intentionality. Common sense should prevail and language should be avoided that demeans any persons.
  5. Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 3 (2015) Edited by Benjamin Griffin and Harriet Elinor Smith: 451.

Why the Left’s Case for Lesser Evil Sounds Hollow

We are entering the final stages of the election to decide who will head the most powerful nation on Earth. That inevitably means the progressive and dissident left in the US are again being deluged with arguments to vote for the lesser evil candidate.

It has become such a standard left argument at election time that lesser evil voting even has its own acronym: LEV. Anyone who opposes Donald Trump’s re-election come November must set aside their concerns about – and if necessary their principles against – voting for the other main candidate on offer for US president.

According to LEV, it is profoundly irresponsible and unethical for anyone on the left either to refuse to vote in November or to vote for a third, no-hope candidate because it risks aiding a Trump victory. Instead the left must cast a ballot – however uncomfortably – for the lesser evil candidate, which means Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic challenger.

This column is not going to make an argument for or against lesser evil voting, either in general or in the coming election. Everyone on the left must dig deep into their conscience and make a decision based on their assessment of how relatively evil Biden and Trump are, and whether that evil will be minimised by voting for Biden.

What I want to do instead is address why lesser evil arguments are sounding increasingly shrill and hollow to many on the left who fought so hard to earn Bernie Sanders the Democratic nomination rather than Biden, but were once again stymied by the fervent opposition of the Democratic party leadership. These are the people chiefly targeted in the current round of lesser evil arguments.

If the proponents of LEV are going to succeed in persuading the Bernie left to turn out for Biden, in order to stop Trump, they are going to need to address the concerns of the Sanders’ camp much more clearly and articulately than they have done so far.

Don’t wrestle with pigs

One thing that is clear already is that the appeal of lesser evil voting is becoming increasingly generational. Older leftists think it is self-evident that within an evil system you vote for the lesser evil candidate because small political differences can have big impacts, whether on domestic issues like social security, or on wars abroad, or on the future of the planet.

Their approach towards younger voters on the left who are not immediately impressed by this logic has often been to shame and insult them, labelling them as selfish, ideological purists or exemplars of white privilege. They have also indulged in what looks to many younger voters suspiciously like emotional blackmail, comparing Trump to Mussolini or Hitler.

To the younger left, things look a little more complex and paradoxical. They tend to see lesser evil voting as an example of the chicken-and-egg problem. After all, given that the older left has been trotting out the lesser evil argument for decades, it looks suspiciously like LEV may have actually contributed to the entrenchment of an evil political system that made Trump’s election possible. Are the proponents of lesser evil voting not creating the very conditions for political alienation that they then tout as a way to address the product – Trump – of that very political alienation?

If the US has a cynical political system, deeply corrupted by money, younger voters wonder whether adding to that cynicism – with the left always voting for one of two evil candidates – can actually ever change the system or simply reinforces it. The older left has failed politically. But might one of the reasons be that for decades it has acted so cynically? Younger voters want to break with cynical politics. If the left is ever going to start looking more attractive, they argue, it needs to stop engaging cynically with a cynical system.

George Bernard Shaw’s maxim comes to mind: “Never wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.”

Walmart or Costco?

Very much related to this is the concern that decades of voting for evil Democratic candidates mean the progressive left has not just failed to hold the line politically, election by election, but has actively lost ground, especially relative to the biggest problem facing humanity – the imminent end of most life on the planet. The clock is ticking fast, and it is evident that neither candidate is actually going to do anything substantive to save us from ecological catastrophe. The system is entirely owned and controlled by a plutocratic class, addicted to the expansion of its own wealth, even at the cost of our species’ survival.

Lesser evilism focuses on the candidates’ relative merits and depravities. But younger voters increasingly see that as misdirection. The two evil candidates reflect the depravities of the same evil plutocratic system. On this view, the candidates’ marginal differences are nothing more than exercises in marketing. Debating their merits in relation to the fundamental, existential questions facing us at the moment makes as much sense to younger voters as arguing whether Walmart or Costco offer a more ethical model of consumption.

Meanwhile, the two candidates on offer in this election are probably the most deficient and incompetent in US history: one is a fire-breathing, posturing, delusional narcissist; the other the dried-out husk of a once smooth-talking, delusional narcissist. Each is proof that the evil system they are there to obscure has grown so sclerotic, so debased, that it can no longer produce credible salesmen.

Echoing the establishment

The candidates’ qualities aside, the system sinks into ever greater depravity for reasons that seem obvious to the younger left: because the power-establishment knows that, however evil the two candidates on offer are, as long as one is ever so slightly less evil than the other it will be able to adduce mock-ethical arguments to strong-arm the left into legitimising its evil system. To younger voters, when the left’s veterans make the lesser evil argument, they repeat precisely the arguments the evil system wants echoing. It is not a great look.

The power-establishment knows that it can drag the system towards greater evil – towards more corporate greed, towards more horrifying global wars, towards more planetary destruction – and still the left will be expected to consent to the system as long as one candidate is slightly less evil. All the system has to do is offer a candidate who can market him or herself as less evil than the other candidate.

What the lesser evil argument has achieved over the past 40 years – entirely predictably – is the gradual shift in the centre of political gravity ever further rightwards, towards unconcealed rule by the corporate class, towards Donald Trump.

Left defeatism

The credibility of the older left’s lesser evil voting strategy is being severely tested right at this moment – and is being found disastrously wanting. With Biden the presumptive Democratic candidate, now is the time when the progressive left ought to be leveraging its electoral clout to get Sanders and his political allies positions inside a future Biden administration. This is the moment when the Sanders camp ought to be able to parlay their substantial voting bloc into influence over who is chosen as Biden’s vice-president and his senior cabinet ministers, as well as over the main planks of Biden’s platform.

But rather than seize this historic moment, the older left – including, tragically, Sanders himself – are using this period primarily to undermine the progressive left, by bullying them into submission to the Biden campaign whatever it decides to do.

This is a major reason the LEV strategy looks so discredited to the younger left. They know Biden has little chance of winning without their support. This should be the moment to play their hand with a poker-face, extracting as much as they can from Biden. But the older left is already throwing the left’s hand down, demanding at this critical juncture that the left get behind Biden, when Biden has offered nothing at all to the progressive left.

In these circumstances, lesser evil voting looks a lot like simple defeatism. It actually makes the older left, not the younger left, look like the selfish, privileged ones. They backed Sanders, and when he lost the nomination campaign they simply gave up mid-fight, as they have done decade after decade, putting the struggle off to another day. They behave as if there is all the time in the world (which may seem true to those who are in their twilight years). But the urgency of the deadline for radical change – maybe only a few years away – is hard for the younger left to ignore.

Is Trump the new Hitler?

Lesser evil proponents have traditionally made their case based on an assumption of modest differences between the two candidates – typically, one is marginally better on inequality and welfare issues. But with Trump, the stakes, it is said, have been raised considerably. Some supporters of LEV argue that Trump is a new Hitler. As a result, everything – including abandoning one’s political principles – must be done to stop him.

There is, as already noted, the problem that, if Trump really is Hitler, then it looks very much like decades of lesser evil voting may have contributed to the entrenchment of an evil system that produced this new Hitler. But there is a further difficulty.

If everything must be done to stop Trump, the progressive left finds itself vulnerable to exactly the same kind of bogus “resistance” politics that so discredited the liberal-left and has actually strengthened Trump rather than undermined him. If progressives and dissidents need to join the effort to do anything and everything to stop Trump, then why not also get on board with the next entirely evidence-free scandal against him, the next “Russiagate”?

In fact, if Trump is Hitler and must be stopped at all costs, how is the progressive left supposed to distinguish itself from the ridiculous, political energy-sapping, self-sabotaging posturing of the liberal-left? The danger is the progressive left gets subsumed within the phoney, Democratic-loyalist left rather than leading the left by example into a more effective politics of real resistance.

Refining the struggle

There is a final, consciousness-raising issue for younger leftists to consider when deciding whether to reject entirely the evil US system, even if it risks allowing Trump another four years. Many younger leftists wonder exactly what kind of evil system they live under and how they should best respond to it. Refusing to vote for one of the two evil candidates may be the only way they can decide for sure.

One possibility is that the US is a deeply flawed democratic system but still accountable to voters. If that is right, then withholding their consent from an evil Democratic candidate may finally serve as a corrective to the endless rightward shift of the political system towards greater evil.

If Sanders’ supporters reject voting for Biden, Biden is unlikely to win the election. The deeply corrupt Democratic Party leadership will then be forced into crisis. If it really wishes to win, it will have to accommodate the left meaningfully to win back its support.

Had the left chosen this course 30 years ago, rather than listening to calls to vote for the lesser evil candidate, they wonder, might the Democratic party have ever reached the nadir of foisting a cognitively challenged and morally compromised candidate like Biden on the party’s supporters?

If US democracy still functions, might the Democratic leadership faced with a real rebellion by the left be forced gradually to concede ground to a leftist political agenda, creating a genuine ideological contest between the two parties?

Labour threw an election

The other possibility is that the US system lost its democratic features in all but name some time ago and is instead a straightforward plutocracy serving a wealth-elite. The two parties pretend to compete for votes only to make the electorate think it is still in charge.

If the US is a plutocracy, the political system will be largely indifferent as to whether the left is prepared to vote for Biden or not. Because in a two-party plutocracy, both parties represent the same interests – the corporate elite’s. They are simply branded differently to delude voters into thinking the system is democratic.

Younger voters have increasing reasons to suspect that the latter assessment is right. They can, for instance, look across the Atlantic to the recent experience of the UK, which has a similar two-party system.

An internal report leaked last month revealed that Labour party bosses – Britain’s version of the Democratic National Committee – intentionally threw the 2017 general election to stop the party’s then leader, Jeremy Corbyn, winning power against an increasingly far-right Conservative party. The party bureaucrats felt compelled to sabotage their own candidate after they had failed two years earlier to prevent Labour members electing Corbyn – the UK’s version of Sanders – as leader.

In other words, the permanent bureaucracy of the supposedly left-wing Labour party felt it had more in common with the ultra right-wing Conservatives than with its own democratic socialist leader.

Is the Democratic party machine, which has now twice done everything in its power to stop Sanders, a democratic socialist, becoming the party’s presidential candidate, really so different from the UK Labour party machine?

Bogus political fights

If the US is really a two-party plutocracy, the Democratic party leadership will do everything it can to stop a candidate (Sanders) who might threaten plutocratic rule, even if that means installing a weak and incompetent candidate (Biden) who risks losing to an ostensible opponent (Trump). In this kind of system, voters’ attention must be channeled into bogus political fights over barely distinguishable candidates rather than a real struggle over ideology.

Does that not sum up rather precisely what we have watched unfold over the last six months in the US.

So for young leftists, not voting for Biden may help to resolve their own uncertainty about whether the US system is redeemable or not. It is the step they feel they need to take to educate themselves and their peers on whether their energies should be directed chiefly at fighting the Democratic establishment or abandoning the system entirely and taking to the streets.

The problem with lesser evil voting for them is that rather than clarify the next course of action it simply obfuscates. It leaves it unclear whether the political pendulum can be made to swing back towards the left or whether the system needs to be destroyed entirely.

UPDATE:

As I was about to hit the send button, a friend forwarded me this very interesting hour-long interview of Paul Jay, the leftist journalist and broadcaster. Jay makes a good case for lesser evil voting, though inevitably he cannot resist indulging in a little gaslighting, suggesting that the only reason the progressive left would refuse to vote for Biden is to feel ideologically pure or superior. That, he argues, simply isn’t an option when faced with the apparently ultimate evil of Trump. Four more years of this incumbent president, he says, risks unleashing the very darkest forces of capital in the US, echoing the situation of Europe in the 1930s. He draws an analogy with Italy under Mussolini.

Jay rightly observes that the US is a plutocracy (though I don’t think he uses that word). The choice at election time is between two parties representing different sections of capital, both with fairly fascistic leanings and both capable of destroying the planet. But, he adds, the section of capital represented by Biden is more willing to make political compromises – if only in an attempt to win legitimacy a little longer for the system from the American middle and working classes – than the more authoritarian, more aggressive section of capital represented by Trump. That is an analysis I can readily agree with.

The most interesting section of the interview begins at around the 30-minute mark. The interviewer asks Jay how he envisions the exit strategy from lesser evil voting. In other words, at what point does Jay imagine progressives can stop colluding with a system he readily acknowledges is evil? It is the one time Jay is clearly flummoxed. He has no obvious exit strategy.

His eventual response is revealing. At about 35 mins he says this: “We are in a new situation now. We may see the coming together of progressive sections of society into a broader, more unifying popular front that’s independent of the Democratic Party.”

Hold up a second. Why are we in a new situation where progressives can unify and may be ready to seek political solutions independent of the Democratic Party? Yes, the Covid-19 pandemic is leading to the collapse of the US economy, as Jay notes. But is the galvanising of the left, of the working and middle classes, of the unions, not happening precisely because Trump patently has no ability to handle the health and economic crises caused by the virus, or even to create the illusion that he can handle these crises? Is it not his very oafishness, his arrogance, his narcissism, his authoritarian instincts, his misreading of the situation, his detachment from the concerns of ordinary Americans at this pivotal moment that is creating the forces necessary to unify the left?

And equally is it not Biden’s very clear deficiencies as an alternative, as well as the patent ideological and bureaucratic sclerosis of the Democratic party, that is reinforcing the first signs in the US of a trend towards organising politically outside of the formal party system?

At the very moment when the US two-party political system may be beginning to break down, when it has no answers to the first wave of major global crises to hit western “civilisation”, Jay and many others on the progressive left continue to argue that it is imperative to engage with the system, for gradualism, for assisting with those who try to make the system seem better, look more humane.

Jay looks uncomfortable making what sounds like a contradictory case for containing, rather than releasing or accentuating, the forces for revolutionary change he elsewhere concedes are urgently necessary.

No one – least of all me – is denying that any form of political struggle at the moment is going to be very high stakes indeed. Political revolutions always have victims. They can fail. And those who rise to the top can be as bad as, or worse than, those that preceded them.

But the lesser evil argument rests on the false assumption that we are not already in a time of revolution – if not a political revolution, certainly an ecological one. The planet is about to throw up our house of cards, our civilisation, and violently reorder it for us.

In these circumstances, the left faces a very difficult choice indeed: between risking a delayed response by putting a better face on humanity’s plight by installing the slightly less evil candidate, and facing the present and the future directly, in all its terrifying, enervating depravity, in an almost-certainly violent struggle to take back into our own hands our fate as a species.

Which is the better course? There are no easy answers. To argue otherwise, as too many proponents of lesser evil voting do, may ultimately prove to be the more foolish option.

Revolution Is Inevitable and Necessary

None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. They feed them on falsehoods till wrong looks like right in their eyes.

— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Bk. II, Ch. 5; source: Die Wahlverwandtschaften, Hamburger Ausgabe, Bd. 6 (Romane und Novellen I), dtv Verlag, München, 1982, p. 397 (II.5).

I keep plotting a revolution no one else seems to be interested in having. So be it. I’ll have my solitary revolution. There will be no pink hats, guillotines, or marches, just me and a bitter jaded middle finger saluting towards the firmaments in utter rejection of most what this society represents. Although I hold no lasting contempt for anyone in this society because I understand we all have fallen into cultural traps and have done things that we believed we had to do so that we could be accepted, or just to be allowed to sleep indoors somewhere and be fed; we’ve had to commodify and sell out pieces of ourselves to serve the desires of those in a system of power who sanction and control the flow of money backed by military forces and institutions of incarceration, and this way of being was set into motion a long time ago, but it doesn’t have to continue if that’s not what we really desire, but for right now it’s close to all we know.

So, it does seem a revolution of sorts is inevitable due to inequality reaching grotesque heights of avarice where there is no longer any excuse for the wealthy to hide behind in order to explain why it is they have so much and others have so little. However, this just emphasizes the point that this population is largely not wise enough yet to create a revolution worth having, because a more enlightened culture would have taken a stand a long time ago before things became an emergency. Every second we acquiesce to power and don’t push for something radically better we compound an already grim situation. Globally there seems to be a majority who don’t understand what it is to be free, they merely fight to be better treated servants. So it’s highly likely their coming revolution will be a flailing inchoate attempt at something marginally better than what is here now and won’t set out to correct much, if any, of the underlying structural problems.

Consequently, the odds are the revolution we’ll end up with will circle directly back to where we are now or worse in no time at all. But my critiques and frustrations are mine, not a concern for the coming revolution. I must remember it’s their revolution, not mine. I’m not invited to theirs — well, that’s not entirely true.  I just have to ignore most of what I believe to be true, then I’m invited. As things are, I have only a single pathetic pity party scheduled as an event to prove my revolution ever existed, but I should be appreciative of what I have and cease bemoaning what I do not.

So this is where I will make my stand. The beginning and likely end of my revolution of one. In reality my revolution is simply a rough translation through the English language describing my light of truth within, which I’ve gone to great pains to keep safe, dry, and burning from a clean source of fuel. Probably all done in futility except to selfishly inoculate my own mind from the lurking darkness of the culture cave; still, a lingering desire remains to light a path out for others to follow who have become stuck watching dark Platonic shadows flicker across the walls.

With that said, here’s the path I’m lighting with argumentation and I believe it to be a solid one.  We, as in the we consisting of the global middle/lower classes of the entire planet, aka the 99%, are not a free people now nor have ever truly been free while living in the bounds of a social hierarchy. While many a winsome word has been applied to parchment declaring this or that people free, unfortunately soon thereafter the founding document is handed over to record keepers to energize the narratives of posterity while the same ole domination and ownership-driven society meters out the same ole grind. The reward and punishment operant conditioning culture is uniformly applied and chosen specifically to keep people compliant, reactive, and rutted into perpetual business as usual subservience to authoritative forces.

Constitutions supply grandiose ideas which are undermined by underlying conditional legislature where the original words are made into feckless futile notions that allows the ruling authority to do all the draconian bullshit they’ve always done with prettier sounding words. The powers that be couch authoritarian ideas in language that sometimes sounds reasonable on the surface but ultimately leads people to a deleterious state of believing they are free when they are nothing close to any working definition of freedom. Freedom is a condition which is now only possible within our own minds, but our physical bodies are fodder for the whims of a class of people who clearly believe themselves superior to just about everyone else.

Those causing the most damage are simply playing out a cultural role that’s a legacy of deceit passed down from one generation to the next, and each falling prey to traps of chasing after things; endless shiny carrots on shiny sticks. And not just chasing, but lusting, demanding, an obsessive hedonistic pursuit wanting total ego domination at any macabre cost. Pure obsession with the chase. While irony sits on many of their own bookshelves as Melville’s whale tale of wisdom lies fallow and ignored serving only as bookcase filler to give guests the impression they’re well read.

The ego-driven mind thinks primarily in the language of temporal imperatives. Short term must do this, must do that kind of thinking where all thought is disseminated through a lens of self importance with agendas to accomplish to validate that self importance. And if it thinks itself important enough it will eventually see itself as messianic. After they have assumed role of savior it’s just logically congruent that the ruling class allocate all the resources they desire for themselves so they can help all the people they will eventually save, and they need deep pockets to be the inspiration for the entire world.

Over time the ruling class creates rules and cultural dogmas that they claim are for the good of the people, but oddly enough their beliefs always result in making them richer and giving them more power. What an odd purported symbiosis they have dreamed up. The surest sign of being under an authoritarian power is when they make it really difficult to live independent of them. They demand you be hooked up to their electrical grid, pay taxes to live on the land, and hooked into the public water system. Total forced dependency on their system and it is barely noticed yet subtly removing choice and creating an artificial cage. Creating dependency is the best way to control people, and tyranny is then accepted under the umbrella of the common good, so the messianic ones can provide shelter from the storm while, of course, the common person sacrifices most of their free will in the process in a Faustian bargain which is the default role we are thrust into in this world of imperial forces.

Social hierarchies hold their grip on power in increasingly sophisticated ways. They’ve mostly advanced past public executions to keep people in line. They’ve learned it’s far more effective to manipulate minds into believing all are equals and free, and stoke the fear response towards something external that threatens that equality and freedom. It’s become understood by hierarchy that if the ruling power is perceived as the threat they are far more likely to be ousted from that power, so the engines of power must diffuse the blame of their actions lest they be held responsible for the tyranny they impose.

So semi-plausible sounding fears are brought to the forefront so they can provide you with adequate safety, which gives them the power to deprive you of the liberty they are telling you they are protecting, since you know they care so much about you. The gas-lighting of the masses creates reactionary conditioning that puts people in a state where they no longer trust their own mind and become prone to believing all the fears power claims are real. And fear is then used as a prod to move the human animal in a chosen direction power wishes.

Revolution of a real kind, one where our relationship to power radically changes, will be a series of progressions in pulling our minds out of this culture trap. Change will come in relation to how well we come to understand the implications of centralized power and ultimately integrate that knowledge into how we live. Further, how well we learn to work together cooperatively in a voluntary manner will correlate  directly to how likely it is our species survives past the next hundred years. But curing ourselves of  these brutal mental afflictions is not an easy path to traverse. However, I’ll argue a radical change is needed if we want to once again have human lives worth living with real choice and agency over our own mind, body, and time.

It Takes a Revolution to Make a Solution

I admit upfront that this is a hard newsletter to read. It is about debt. There is a bloodless quality to the way that we talk about the debt of the poorer nations. There is nothing poetic here. The numbers are alienating, their outcome shocking.

In mid-April, eighteen heads of government from Africa and Europe publicly urged the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the African Development Bank, and the New Development Bank as well as other regional institutions to announce an ‘immediate moratorium on all bilateral and multilateral debt payments, both public and private, until the pandemic has passed’. Meanwhile, these agencies – and others – were asked to ‘provide liquidity for the procurement of basic commodities and essential medical supplies’.

On 30 April, Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, wrote that the call for debt postponement is insufficient; what was needed was debt cancellation. In 2019, stunningly, sixty-four countries around the world (half of them on the African continent) spent more money to service their external debt than on health care; the governments in 121 low and middle-income countries spent 10.7% of their revenue on public health, while they drained 12.2% on external debt payments. Ethiopia, Ahmed wrote, ‘spends twice as much on paying off external debt as on health’. Last year, the IMF said that Ethiopia was one of the five fastest growing economies in the world; this is no longer going to be the case because of the impact of the novel coronavirus. Ethiopia, Ahmed noted, will slip into a coronavirus recession.

In late March, the IMF announced that it would provide a new facility worth $1 trillion to prevent countries from falling into a coronavirus recession (under pressure from the US Treasury, the IMF excluded Venezuela). Within a short period of time, more than a hundred countries appealed to the IMF for help. The IMF and the G20 either cancelled debt payments for the next six months or froze debts for the remainder of the year. The G20 said that $32 billion in debt servicing owed to official, private, and multilateral creditors would be suspended in 76 countries. The current debt stocks of the developing countries – by comparison – is over $8 trillion. The absence of any international debt authority means that these initiatives are insufficient. Private creditors are not bound to following through with these initiatives, which means that many of the highly indebted countries will have to continue to service their debt to them. There is talk of the creation of a ‘central credit facility’ developed within the World Bank, where the indebted countries could deposit their debt and let the World Bank deal with the creditors; after the coronavirus has gone, the situation of the debt would be reassessed.

Belén Marco Crespo, Who Sustains Life? 2020.

Far more ambitious is the proposal from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to establish an International Developing Country Debt Authority. This body would have a dual mandate: first, to oversee any temporary standstills in debt repayments in order to stave off such events as a coronavirus recession; second, to look carefully at the necessity of fundamental debt relief (including debt cancellation). UNCTAD has made similar proposals in 1986, 1998, 2001, and 2015; each time the powerful creditors and the wealthy nations have rejected this approach. In 1985, the Cuban government hosted the Havana Debt Conference, where Fidel Castro made a plea for a Third World Debt Strike to put pressure on the creditors to come to the table; immense pressure on the less confident states derailed that approach. Neither UNCTAD nor the Havana Debt Conference were able to move this agenda. It now returns to the table.

On April 16, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said bluntly that the US is against any of these more aggressive measures. The most that the US would accept was ‘time-bound suspension of debt service payments’ in the G20 and Paris Club (official creditors), while the London Club (private creditors) would be asked to act on a voluntary basis. Not only has the US put its foot down to prevent any proper immediate relief, but it has said that no long-term debt cancellation is going to be allowed. If there is a coronavirus recession in the countries of the Global South, then so be it.

Ezrena MarwanObjects and labour, 2020.

One of the countries that will slip into a coronavirus recession is Jamaica, where Minister of Finance and Public Service Nigel Clarke said that the ‘tourism sector is operating at zero utilisation and the prospect and timing of reopening remain unclear’. In November 2019, Jamaica completed its obligations to an IMF loan; the head of the IMF team, Uma Ramakrishnan, said that Jamaica was poised for a bright future. But these friendly words came at the end of a process of terrible austerity on the island.

Christophe Simpson, Chair of Jamaica Lands, spoke to Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research about the situation of debt and health care in Jamaica. Simpson emphasises that, in Jamaica, 90% of the population is descended from people who had been enslaved, whose labour was stolen by the British. When the people won their freedom, the British exchequer compensated the plantation owners for the ‘loss’ of their ‘property’; the loan that the British government took to pay the plantation owners was not paid off till 2015, when British Prime Minister David Cameron came to Jamaica to say that reparations for the formerly enslaved people and their descendants was off the table. Colonialism left Jamaica reliant upon tourism, with limited economic sovereignty.

‘We are in a never-ending cycle of debt’, Simpson said. ‘International institutions like the IMF set conditions on the money they lend, so that – for instance – we are not allowed to spend more than 9% of our GDP on public sector wages’. Health care and education face cuts, which means that nurses and teachers are underpaid. ‘Nurses and teachers are lured away from Jamaica by promises of higher wages in countries such as the United States, Canada, and Britain’. ‘They essentially benefit from our indebtedness’, Simpson explained. Jamaica’s people provide each other with free primary and secondary education and with half of the tertiary education costs; 80% of tertiary graduates leave the island to work abroad. Jamaica, which has been robbed for centuries now subsidises the health care sectors in the North Atlantic states.

Elean Thomas (1947-2004), a founder of Jamaica’s Workers Party, in her book Before They Can Speak of Flowers: Word Rhythms (1988) thought about how often she had been asked not to interfere in politics, or – as she put it in the clever Jamaican variation – in politricks. Neither hunger nor ill-health have to do with anything other than politics, since it is through political decisions that resources are stolen from people who then suffer the indignities of poverty.

How I fe no deal with politics?
when Politricks a deal with me.

Take for instance…
the good book says
‘By the sweat of your brow
you shall eat bread’

But don’t you know
whole heap of people
a sweat rivers
every day
and still can’t find no bread
to eat?

Politricks
is what decide that.

Vikas Thakur, ‘Home’, a distant dream for India’s migrant labourers, 2020.
Our Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research dossier no. 28 (May 2020) on CoronaShock: A Virus and The World is focused on the politics – or the politricks – of the moment. The virus of austerity and of enforced debt servitude produced a fragile world order in most of the world, which has crumbled in the wake of the global pandemic. The dossier traverses the political framework of neoliberalism, which has eroded the basic social institutions that provide health care and education, creating a world in which unproductive finance rules the roost and in which the vast platform or web-based firms have taken hold of a large part of the economy.

Along with the International People’s Assembly, Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research produced a 16-point declaration that includes immediate relief and long-term measures. In our most recent dossier, we look carefully at one of these policies, the call for a Universal Basic Income (UBI). We lay out our critical view of the UBI scheme, offering our assessment of why this must be an undiluted universal scheme and why it must be funded by taxes on the wealthy and on profits rather than merely by dismantling other social service schemes. We take a socialist approach to the UBI, insisting that it be a supplement to other social wages rather than perpetuate the myth of the ‘deserving poor’ to sift out who should qualify and who should not.

Dossier no. 28 is illustrated by eight artists from Cuba to Malaysia who came together to make images that depict the Great Lockdown. This newsletter shares some of their work.

A call for artists for Anti-Imperialist Poster Exhibitions.

Collaboration with artists is a central feature of our work. For that reason, we have partnered with the International People’s Assembly and the International Week of Anti-Imperialist Struggle to hold a poster exhibition featuring four different concepts – capitalism, neoliberalism, hybrid war, and imperialism. Please widely forward the call for this exhibition.

Dar Yasin (Associated Press), Srinagar, Kashmir, 9 August 2019.

Three AP photographers – Dar Yasin, Mukhtar Khan, and Channi Anand – won a Pulitzer Prize for their photography on the struggles inside Kashmir. Please see our Red Alert on Kashmir.