The REAL First Rule of Fight Club 

(Credit unknown)

Life in the United States of Algorithms has me thinking about Fight Club again — reading snippets, posting quotes, and watching YouTube clips until I finally gave it a re-watch. Such is the power of Fight Club. I saw it in the theater when it came out in 1999. It was love at first sight. Like the well-programmed white male “radical” I was, I swooned at the anarchy [sic] and anti-corporate virtue signaling and dutifully memorized Tyler Durden’s pithy one-liners. Over the ensuing years, I read the book a few times and re-watched the film version more than a few times.

Eventually, as I became “woke” to the once-invisible-to-me influences of patriarchy, I saw Fight Club quite differently. It suddenly appeared as a horrifying homage to male pattern violence, misogyny, and white supremacy. Middle-class white males were the “real” victims and the path to redemption was, of course, soaked in blood. I donated my copy of the book to the local library and stopped quoting Tyler Durden (at least, in public) lest I be accused of not being the “right” kind of feminist ally. The long relationship (I thought) was over and I was at a loss (I thought) — embarrassingly unsure what I ever saw in him in the first place.

More recently — identifying now as something along the lines of “ex-everything” — I re-visited my old crush. What I saw with my latest set of new eyes was astonishing. Fight Club is now a cautionary tale. Please allow me to introduce my final [sic] take on a piece of pop culture more than two decades old.

Robots in Uniforms

The Narrator (a.k.a. Edward Norton-Tyler) is an unhappy, unfulfilled, order-following corporate drone who seeks emotional emancipation by waging war against his cubicle and tie. In the process, he transforms into an unhappy, unfulfilled, order-following anti-corporate drone who misses the entire point of liberation. He’s a robot who switches uniforms without addressing his robot-ness.

Some of Brad Pitt-Tyler’s quotations are revolutionary and inspiring. Others are just as mundane, predictable, and banal as the corporate-speak Narrator-Tyler encounters while going through the motions of his job. The book’s author and film’s director weren’t (I hope) attempting to position the two versions of Tyler Durden as opposites. We aren’t being asked to choose sides in some kind of epic showdown. Instead, we are being implored to recognize and subsequently abandon groupthink.

The road to self-realization and deeper connections with others does not include trading one soul-crushing hive mind for another. It doesn’t mean we merely aim our strident arrogance in a new direction and label it evolution or revolution. And it probably doesn’t require us to punch anyone into submission as a recreational way to reconnect with our inner child and/or display our psychological independence.

Fight Club is a parable. It warns us about the seductiveness of conformity, the urge to surrender and delegate the hard work of emotional labor. Sure, the 9-to-5 grind is utterly inhuman. It requires us to compromise on far too many levels and it must be avoided at all costs. But the same can and must be said about all “activist” echo chambers — from MAGA to BLM and beyond.

Tyler DGAF

Despite all this, there is still value in modern men tuning into our own inner Durden. Brad Pitt-Tyler can teach us to clearly define what’s important to us, fashion a mission to guide our actions, have some laughs along the way, and not give too many fucks about contorting oneself into any societal box (especially if that box reads: IKEA). Call it, “the ability to let that which does not matter truly slide.”

Edward Norton-Tyler tries to reign in the ugly and unnecessary aggression, delusion, and arrogance. To do so, he goes as far as shooting himself in the face just to stop Brad Pitt-Tyler’s misguided machinations. Edward Norton-Tyler teaches us that we can be truly decent people — even as we strive to vigorously reject the mainstream formula and embrace the subversive pleasure of critical thought. In the end, it’s Edward Norton-Tyler who reaches for Marla’s hand and offers an apology (of sorts) as the violent virtue-signaling plays out all around them.

We all have multiple personalities, contradictory ideals, and competing desires within us. They do not have to be labeled good or bad. What matters is how we manage such juxtapositions as they translate into daily behavior. In other words, the first rule of Fight Club is… balance.

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Greenwashing the Tokyo Olympic Games

The gap between rhetoric and reality is a persistent one when looking at the sustainability of commitments of Olympic Games hosts.
— Martin Müller, European Urban and Regional Studies, 2015

The organisers of the Olympics have always been into appearances and grand theatre.  And the International Olympic Committee has always been keen in keeping them up, from the barely credible notion of political neutrality to the now popular goal of carbon neutrality.  In 2015, the IOC decided to fully hop on the sustainability bandwagon, though it claimed to have been “an important topic for the IOC for many years”.  Indeed, in the 1990s, the body echoed the sentiments of the UN’s sustainable development plan Agenda 21 by publishing Olympic Movement’s Agenda 21, though that report displays, rather prominently, the company logo of the oil behemoth Shell.  Sustainable development was, according to the then IOC chief Juan Antonio Samaranch, “totally in conformity with the goal of Olympism, which is to place everywhere sport at the service of the harmonious development of man.”

In its Olympic Agenda 2020, the IOC sets out recommendations for three “spheres of responsibility”.  The first: that the IOC adopt sustainability principles and include them “in its day-to-day operations.”  The second: that the organisation “take a proactive and leadership role on sustainability and ensure that it is included in all aspects of the planning and staging” of the games.  The third, as being the “leader of the Olympic Movement”, the IOC will engage and assist the movement’s “stakeholders in integrating sustainability within their own organisations and operations.”

As with other organisations of scale, problematic strategies such as carbon offsetting are embraced. Much is made of making sure that such “efforts” are communicated both internally “via workshops or by circulating infographics” and externally.  Get the public interested, let them visit “a dedicated webpage, creating interactive tools or apps (carbon footprinter)” or have “non-site activities at Games-time to raise public awareness.”

In its Carbon Footprint Methodology for the Olympic Games, the IOC extols the “golden rules” of “transparency and honesty” in communicating sustainability efforts “to avoid any risks of greenwashing or overstatement.”  With a propagandist’s care, attention is given to separating functions lest misunderstanding emerge.  Emissions arising from preparations and operations are to be distinguished from permanent infrastructure emissions and those arising from “associated activities”.  “A clear explanation must be given for any excluded categories.”

The quest for acquiring a sufficient number of carbon credits for the Tokyo games has been advertised, or communicated, as a success.  A member of the Tokyo Olympics sustainability committee, Masako Konishi, tells us that “more than enough carbon credits, more than 150 per cent of what was needed”, has been obtained.  “These carbon credits follow robust guidelines, which I think could be a role model for future Olympics.”

Such credits do nothing to remove existing emissions in the way that soil carbon sequestration or direct air capture does, giving an accountant’s version of carbon neutrality.  But they give the IOC a chance to boast about carbon offsetting practices with Dow, which has been in a “carbon partnership” with the organisation since 2017.  In doing so, the committee holds on to a tradition that fails to address the harm caused by mega events, infrastructure projects and large numbers of spectators while promoting the credentials of environmental citizenship.

Specifically to Tokyo, the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games are advertised as “the most innovative in history” garlanded with meaningless platitudes such as “Achieving Personal Best”, “Unity in Diversity”, and “Connecting to Tomorrow”.  The Tokyo Organising Committee emphasises four sustainable development principles with the enthusiasm of a university manager (stewardship, inclusivity, integrity and transparency – all in capitals, of course), “harmonized with the Games vision, while embracing the sustainability concept of the Games: ‘Be better, together – For the planet and for the people.’”

Sustainability box ticking involves decarbonisation with renewable energy and “maximum energy savings”; “zero wasting” with the Tokyo Games “aiming to suppress deforestation and land devastation caused by resource exploitation”; restoring biodiversity and creating “a rich ecological network” and “new urban system that will improve comfort and resilience”.

The opening ceremony was also signatured with tokens of greenish sustainability. The white T-shirts and trousers worn by the torchbearers of the Olympic flame used recycled plastic bottles gathered by Coca-Cola.  The hydrogen-fuelled torch, by Japanese designer Tokujin Yoshioka, was the product of construction waste from temporary housing used for victims of the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

Athletes will also bear witness to the IOC sustainability doctrine.  Japanese bedding company Airweave has created 18,000 beds using recycled cardboard, 8000 of which will be repurposed for the Paralympics.  Winners can know that the 5000 medals for the games are made from metal extracted from donated mobile phones and other electronic devices.  The 3D-printed podiums upon which such medals will be received are sourced from 24.5 tonnes of discarded household plastics.

Behind such an extensive show of environmental soundness is an uglier truth.  In an April study in Nature Sustainability, the authors evaluated the sustainability credentials of 16 Olympic Games, both summer and winter versions, between 1992 and 2020.  The model used by the researchers found that sustainability had never been the event’s strong suit and had actually decreased over time.  Salt Lake City 2002 was the best; Sochi 2014 and Rio de Janeiro 2016, the worst.

The study suggests three actions in the short term to improve the poor score card, all of which make environmentally good sense but would scandalize IOC officialdom. Future events should be reduced in size, meaning that fewer resources would need to be consumed.  (It followed that the revenue base would also shrink.)  “It will diminish the carbon emissions by visitors and bring down the ecological and material footprint by reducing the size and cost of the new infrastructure required.”  Sports content of the immersive type could be provided in digital form.

The games could also be rotated among the same cities.  There would be no need to build more infrastructure, as it would already be in place, minimising cost and social and ecological disruption. Finally, to achieve this would require an independent body “to develop, monitor and enforce credible sustainability standards” and would overcome the problem of having individual cities hosting the games to dedicate their own sustainability goals.

David Gogishvili, one of the co-authors of the study, was politely scathing of the IOC.  “The efforts the International Olympic Committee is making are important but they are limited and not enough.  From my perspective, unless they heavily limit the construction aspect and the overall size of the event, they will always be criticised for greenwashing.”  Those IOC communicators will be working around the clock.

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Going to Hell and Back: Fighting Our Worst Nightmare

Theatrical poster

Interrogate the devil; he will tell you that beauty is a pair of horns, four claws and a tail.
Voltaire’s Philosophical Dictionary

Bullets of Justice is a gritty 2019 film made by Valeri Milev and Timur Turisbekov, which takes place in the United States during the Third World War. The story centres around Rob Justice, an ex-bounty hunter who is fighting a mixture of half humans and half pigs (human bodies and pig heads). They were bred under an American government secret project to create super soldiers called Muzzles. The project goes awry and years later the Muzzles are at the top of the food chain and are farming the remnants of the human race. Rob Justice is trying to find their source to eliminate the Muzzles once and for all. The film is shot with bleak scenes in very bleak colours and has quite explicit sexual and violent scenes. However, it also has a very dry sense of humour and can be very funny without intentionally playing for laughs.

Screenshot from Bullets of Justice (2019)

The whole premise of the film is based on the symbolic reversal of our treatment of animals as food products, and shown in all its horror. Muzzles fatten up humans in cages, kill them upside down in factories and throw corpses on to conveyor belts. Their meat is even tinned and sold (“Human Meat, Always Fresh, Steak from a well fed male”). The idea that humans are somehow ‘special’ and superior to animals is ‘debunked’. In an early scene the Grave-digger unearths a human skull and says to his kids: “See, they don’t go nowhere. They just turn into dirty old bones. God is a human mistake. We die ‘cos of some shit and we die full of shit.”

Screenshot from Bullets of Justice (2019)

There is an apocalyptic feeling to the film as humans are dying out and some strange human oddities form a resistance to the Muzzles (a woman with a prominent moustache, a fighter who can stop bullets with his chest, and a female leader who talks as if using a home-made speech synthesizer). However, we get the feeling that their resistance is pointless and the Muzzles are the strongest of the two opposing sets of monstrosities.

Screenshot from Bullets of Justice (2019)

The portrayal of human monsters is not new in culture as the depictions of the Golem, Frankenstein’s monster and Zombies makes apparent: representations of humans that cannot really live or reproduce, the symbols of anti-nature. Our anxieties about our position in the natural order of things and our treatment of animals have always been reflected in our beliefs and depictions of ourselves as a higher order and created by an omnipotent being.

However, our relations with animals has always been fraught, as Yuval Noah Harari writes:

About 15,000 years ago, humans colonised America, wiping out in the process about 75% of its large mammals. Numerous other species disappeared from Africa, from Eurasia and from the myriad islands around their coasts. The archaeological record of country after country tells the same sad story. The tragedy opens with a scene showing a rich and varied population of large animals, without any trace of Homo sapiens. In scene two, humans appear, evidenced by a fossilised bone, a spear point, or perhaps a campfire. Scene three quickly follows, in which men and women occupy centre-stage and most large animals, along with many smaller ones, have gone. Altogether, sapiens drove to extinction about 50% of all the large terrestrial mammals of the planet before they planted the first wheat field, shaped the first metal tool, wrote the first text or struck the first coin.

The Golden Age

These realities contrast wildly with our mythical story-telling of a Golden Age when humans lived in “primordial peace, harmony, stability, and prosperity. During this age, peace and harmony prevailed in that people did not have to work to feed themselves, for the earth provided food in abundance.”  And as Richard Heinberg has stated: Dicaearchus of the late fourth century BCE noted “of these primeval men […] that they took the life of no animal”.1

Roman Orpheus mosaic, a very common subject.  He wears a Phrygian cap and is surrounded by the animals charmed by his lyre-playing.

However, as the Golden Age declined through the Silver Age, the Bronze Age, the Heroic Age, to the Iron Age, the dire warnings got direr. As men moved from the wondrous cornucopia of nature to the wars of extractivism, they paid a heavy price for their bloodlust. Pythagoras (c. 570 – c. 495 BC) wrote: “As long as Man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings, he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.” Much later, Ovid (43 BC – 17/18 AD) follows up with similar sentiments:

Not so th’ Golden Age, who fed on fruit,
Nor durst with bloody meals their mouths pollute.
Then birds in airy space might safely move,
And tim’rous hares on heaths securely rove:
Nor needed fish the guileful hooks to fear,
For all was peaceful; and that peace sincere.
Whoever was the wretch, (and curs’d be he
That envy’d first our food’s simplicity!)
Th’ essay of bloody feasts on brutes began,
And after forg’d the sword to murder man.
— Ovid (43 BC – 17/18 AD) Metamorphoses Book 14

As Christianity took hold and changed the reverence for nature to the reverence for a monotheistic god, nature itself became demonised as the heavenly was substituted for the earthly. It is interesting to note the similarities between the Devil (“a pair of horns, four claws and a tail”) and the animal-like god of nature, Pan, “the god of the wild, shepherds and flocks, and connected to fertility and the season of spring. Pan’s goatish image recalls conventional faun-like depictions of Satan.”

Hell

In medieval depictions of Hell, the Devil and his helpers torture humans. Hell, as Sartre has said “is other people” and, like packed trains and buses, always seems to have an awful lot of people crammed into very small places. Moreover, the animal-like Devil and his helpers seem to be like animals getting their revenge on humans by killing them and cooking them in the same way that humans kill and eat animals, by hanging them upside down (blood draining?), roasting over a fire on a spit, boiling in large vats, or baking in a fiery oven.

The Torments of Hell, French book illumination, 15th century. Illustration for Augustinius’, De civitate Dei, Bibliotheque de Ste. Genevieve Ms. 246, vol. 389.

It seems that deep in our psychology, the more we brutalise animals the more we fear that one day the animals will rise up and brutalise us. However, in some sense it is already happening. As Mike Anderson writes, they do get their revenge but in a slower, but just as deadly, way:

As far as eating is concerned, humans are the most stupid animals on the planet. We kill billions of wild animals to protect the animals that we eat. We are destroying our environment to feed to the animals we eat. We spend more time, money and resources fattening up the animals that we eat, than we do feeding humans who are dying of hunger. The greatest irony is that after all the expenses of raising these animals, we eat them; and they kill us slowly. And rather than recognise this madness, we torture and murder millions of other animals trying to find cures to diseases caused by eating animals in the first place.

In his article ‘Industrial farming is one of the worst crimes in history’, Yuval Noah Harari wrote:

The fate of industrially farmed animals is one of the most pressing ethical questions of our time. Tens of billions of sentient beings, each with complex sensations and emotions, live and die on a production line. Animals are the main victims of history, and the treatment of domesticated animals in industrial farms is perhaps the worst crime in history. The march of human progress is strewn with dead animals.

At least in recent years, in tandem with the ever increasing herds and flocks of domesticated animals for human consumption, there has been the development of movements against the slaughter in animal rights activism. Peter Singer wrote about it in the 1970s in his book Animal Liberation and, inter alia, in the 2000s Joaquin Phoenix told us about this slaughter in two truly difficult-to-watch documentaries: Earthlings (2005)  and Dominion (2018).

Colonialism and Genocide

Our attitude towards animals, our bloodthirstiness, has unfortunately carried over into our historical and current treatment of our fellow human beings in the form of colonialism and neo-colonialism. Joseph Conrad expressed it succinctly in his novel Heart of Darkness (1899) where Mr Kurtz (making a report for the International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs) reveals his true colonial mentality when he writes ‘Exterminate all the brutes’. The colonial mindset that sees ethnic groups as not much better than animals (brutes) is predicated on the idea that the coloniser is somehow ‘superior’ and ‘civilised’ despite the fact that nowadays and ecology-wise, it is realised that these ‘primitive’ groups generally live in tune with nature rather than destroying it, as the ‘civilised’ West does. Sven Oskar Lindqvist (1932 – 2019) a Swedish author of mostly non-fiction, took Mr Kurtz’s exclamation as the title of his book on the history of colonialism and genocide, Exterminate All the Brutes (1992). The title was subsequently used again for a harrowing four part documentary series (2021) directed and narrated by Raoul Peck who worked with Lindqvist.

Punch (1881)

Furthermore, even in our more ‘enlightened’ era, our attitude towards animals as our fellow ‘earthlings’ has run into other, more serious problems, as Michael Cronin writes:

In more recent times, it is fears around what is seen as the neo-Malthusian pathology of deep ecology that prompts a reticence around stressing the animal nature of humans. In this reading of ecology, treating humans as one species among others leads inevitably to the conclusion that the only way to deal with human overpopulation is through the mass elimination of humans. As they would not enjoy higher ontological status than other species, such genocidal practices could be justified by the overall flourishing of species on the planet.2

Once again, our fears of our brutal selves lead us to try and characterise ourselves as more important than ‘mere’ animals in a self-defeating vicious cycle. Which brings us back to the point that Pythagoras made (‘as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other’). In other words, as long as we treat animals like ‘animals’ (brutes) we will treat each other like ‘animals’ too.

  1. Richard Heinberg, (1989) Memories and Visions of Paradise: Exploring the Universal Myth of a Lost Golden Age, Wheaton, Ill.: Quest Books, p. 48.
  2. Michael Cronin, (2016) Eco-Translation: Translation and Ecology in the Age of the Anthropocene (New Perspectives in Translation and Interpreting Studies), London: Routledge, p. 74.
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Mobilising Against the Corporate Hijack of Agriculture and the UN Food Systems Summit

The UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS), including a ‘pre-summit’, will take place in September 2021 in New York. The Italian government is hosting the pre-summit in Rome from 26–28 July. The UNFSS claims it aims to deliver the latest evidence-based, scientific approaches from around the world, launch a set of fresh commitments through coalitions of action and mobilise new financing and partnerships.

Despite claims of being a ‘people’s summit’ and a ‘solutions’ summit, the UNFSS is facilitating greater corporate concentration, unsustainable globalised value chains and agribusiness leverage over public institutions. As a result, more than 300 global organisations of small-scale food producers, researchers and indigenous peoples will gather online from 25-28 July to mobilise against the pre-summit.

The Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism (CSM) for relations with the United Nations Committee on World Food Security is working to eradicate food insecurity and malnutrition. According to the CMS, the UNFSS – founded on a partnership between the UN and the World Economic Forum (WEF) – is disproportionately influenced by corporate actors, lacks transparency and accountability and diverts energy and financial resources away from the real solutions needed to tackle the multiple hunger, climate and health crises.

The CMS argues that the UNFSS is not building on the legacy of past world food summits, which resulted in the creation of innovative, inclusive and participatory global food governance mechanisms anchored in human rights, such as the reformed UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS).

Promoting industrial agriculture

It seems the UNFSS is now dominated by corporate front groups and corporate-driven platforms, including the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), the International Agri-Food Network, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the EAT Forum as well as the Rockefeller Foundation and the Gates Foundation. The President of AGRA, Agnes Kalibata, was even appointed as UN Special Envoy for the summit.

According to the CMS, those being granted a pivotal role at the UNFSS support industrial food systems that promote ultra-processed foods, deforestation, industrial livestock production, intensive pesticide use and commodity crop monocultures, all of which cause soil deterioration, water contamination and irreversible impacts on biodiversity and human health.

The industrialised food system that these corporations fuel does not even feed the world, despite corporate claims to the contrary. For example, the 2021 UN Report on the State of Food Security and Nutrition indicates that the number of chronically undernourished people has risen to 811 million, while almost a third of the world’s population has no access to adequate food. Furthermore, the Global South is still reeling from Covid-19 related policies which have laid bare the inherent fragility and injustices of the prevailing food system.

Those who contribute most to world food security, smallholder producers, are the most threatened and affected by the corporate concentration of land, seeds, natural and financial resources and the related privatisation of the commons and public goods.

And these processes are accelerating: the high-tech/data conglomerates, including Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and Google, have joined traditional agribusiness giants in a quest to impose a one size fits all type of agriculture and food production on the world. Digitalisation, artificial intelligence and other technologies are serving to promote a new wave of resource grabbing and the restructuring of food systems towards a total concentration of power.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is also heavily involved, whether through buying up huge tracts of farmland, funding and promoting a much-heralded (but failed) ‘green revolution’ for Africa, pushing biosynthetic food and new genetic engineering technologies or more generally facilitating the aims of the mega agrifood corporations.

Under the guise of saving the planet with ‘climate-friendly solutions’, helping farmers and feeding the world, what Gates and his corporate associates are really doing is desperately trying to repackage the dispossessive strategies of imperialism wrapped in the language of ‘sustainability’ and ‘inclusivity’.

Through various aspects of data control pertaining to soil quality, consumer preferences, weather, and land use, for example, and e-commerce monopolies, corporate land ownership, seed biopiracy, patents, synthetic food and the undermining of the public sector’s role in ensuring food security and national food sovereignty, global agricapital seeks to gain full control over the world’s food system.

Smallholder peasant farming is under threat as the big-tech giants and agribusiness impose lab-grown food, genetically engineered (GE) soil microbes, data harvesting tools and drones and other ‘disruptive’ technologies. The model being promoted desires farmerless industrial-scale farms being manned by driverless machines, monitored by drones and doused with chemicals to produce commodity crops from patented GE seeds for industrial ‘biomatter’ to be processed and constituted into something resembling food.

The CMS notes that these are false ‘solutions’ that seek to bypass and undermine the peasant food web which currently produces up to 70% of the world’s food, working with only 25% of the resources. Moreover, these false solutions do not address structural injustices such as land and resource grabbing, corporate abuse of power and economic inequality. They merely reinforce them.

Towards food sovereignty

More than 380 million people belong to the movements protesting against the UNFSS. They are demanding a radical transformation of corporate food regimes towards a just and truly sustainable food system. They are also demanding increased participation in existing democratic food governance models, such as the UN Committee for World Food Security (CFS) and its High-Level Panel of Experts. The UNFSS threatens to undermine CFS, which is the foremost inclusive intergovernmental international policy-making arena.

There is an intensifying fight for space between local markets and global markets. The former are the domain of independent producers and small-scale enterprises, whereas global markets are dominated by increasing monopolistic large-scale international retailers, traders and the rapidly growing influential e-commerce companies.

It is therefore essential to protect and strengthen local markets and indigenous, independent small-scale producers and enterprises to ensure community control over food systems, economic independence and local food sovereignty. With this in mind, the CMS is calling for a radical agroecological transformation of food systems based on food sovereignty, gender justice and economic and social justice.

Agroecology is practised throughout the world. As numerous high-level (UN) reports have argued over the years, this approach improves nutrition, reduces poverty, contributes to gender justice, combats climate change and enriches farmland. With no need to purchase proprietary inputs (chemicals, seeds, etc) and its outperforming of industrial agriculture, agroecology represents a shift towards genuine food sovereignty and thus a direct threat to corporate agribusiness.

During the online mobilisation against the pre-summit, participants will share small-scale food producers and workers’ realities and their visions for a human rights-based and agroecological transformation of food systems. In doing so, they will highlight the importance of food sovereignty, small-scale sustainable agriculture, traditional knowledge, rights to natural resources and the rights of workers, indigenous peoples, women and future generations.

More information about the online mobilisation from 25-28 July can be found on the FoodSystems4People website .

The post Mobilising Against the Corporate Hijack of Agriculture and the UN Food Systems Summit first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Tokyo’s Pandemic Games Open

The auguries are not good for the Tokyo Olympic Games.  Resignations have filled the ledger, including Japanese composer Keigo Oyamada, organising committee president Yoshiro Mori and the creative director Hiroshi Sasaki.  Then there is the lamentable behaviour of the authoritarian International Olympic Committee and the obsequious conduct of the Suga government.  The continued prospect of COVID-19 infections in the Olympic camp and public, have all been marked off as manageable.

It will not matter that athletes suffer infections.  It will not matter that they will be spread. It will be irrelevant that the Japanese public do not want these games. The IOC will throw money and a range of threats to make sure that officials comply. Some of this was on show with the curt remarks by IOC official John Coates to an Australian state premier, Queensland’s Annastacia Palaszczuk, who was visiting Tokyo to receive news that the city of Brisbane had been awarded the 2032 Olympic Games.

As Australian Olympic President, Coates wished to impress upon the Queensland Premier that she had to attend the opening ceremony in Tokyo and learn the ropes.  “You are going to the opening ceremony,” he berated Palaszczuk.  “I’m still the deputy chair of the candidature leadership group and so far as I understand, there will be an opening and closing ceremony in 2032 and all of you are going to get along there and understand the traditional parts of that, what’s involved in an opening ceremony.”  Gruffly, he issued an instruction.  “So none of you are staying behind and hiding in your rooms, alright?”

While much hot air has been made about Coates, this vulgar episode served to show that the IOC is a body that dictates rather than advises. The dictatorial behaviour by Coates may well have been unintended, but was symbolically potent.  Used to years of giving directions, he slipped into his comfortable norm of chastisement.  The direction to an elected politician superbly captured the problems associated with an organisation that has done its best to warrant abolition.

To justify Tokyo 2020, the IOC has opted for a specially minted rhetoric that focuses on the human spirit and global solidarity in times of crisis, ignoring its own bullying and money hungry ways.  Think of the athletes and their challenges, the body tells us, a celebration that supposedly signals a halt to hostilities of countries as their sporting folk participate.  Forget the ballooning costs and resources that fall into ruin after the tournament.

This has been the special approach of IOC president Thomas Bach, who misspoke by calling the Japanese “Chinese people”.  He stated on July 15, with an almost contemptuous air, that there was “zero” risk of athletes passing on the virus to residents of the Olympic village or to the Japanese populace in general.  The Mainichi newspaper put paid to that assertion, noting how athletes arriving in the country’s airports were doing so in a state of “disarray” with some “coming close to general travellers and fans asking for autographs”.  The idea of maintaining hermetic “Olympic bubbles” is already proving spurious.

Bach has become a despot in full form, dominating the IOC even more so than such predecessors as Juan Antonio Samaranch.  In this, he keeps good company with Coates, who lectured Japan by insisting that the games go ahead despite the pandemic and continuing state of emergency.  All health requirements and prescriptions outlined in the organisation’s health playbooks were sound, and opposition to the staging of the games, he confidently observed, would wane as vaccination rates improved.  “I think that there’s a correlation between the numbers who are concerned about their safety with the numbers who have been vaccinated in Japan.”

As it happens, Japan’s vaccination rate continues to be poor, as is the general public impression of the games.  Major sponsors such as Fujitsu, Asahi and Panasonic have turned up their nose at the opening ceremony.  Toyota has joined them and is refusing to run advertising connected with the games “out of sensitivity to the COVID-19 situation.”

Public health specialists are beside themselves with worry, though a contribution to the New England Journal of Medicine earlier this month could still praise the games as connecting “us at a time of global disconnect.”  Despite such enthusiasm, the authors were damning in claiming that the IOC playbooks were “not built on scientifically rigorous risk assessment, and they fail to consider the ways in which exposure occurs, the factors that contribute to exposure, and which participants may be at highest risk.”  According to one of the authors, Michael Osterholm, the planning had focused on dealing with respiratory droplets prevention.  “The science is now convincingly showing that this is an airborne virus, largely, which means it’s like cigarette smoke, it will float wherever.”

Japan’s officials also find themselves in a bind.  Japanese Olympic Committee board member Kaori Yamaguchi was brutally frank in writing that the games had “already lost their meaning and are being held just for the sake of them.”  The organisers had “been cornered into a situation where we cannot even stop now. We are damned if we do, and damned if we don’t.”  The opportunity to cancel had passed.  This mad, costly pandemic experiment is upon us.

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Urgent Plea by Doctors to India’s PM: Halt Roll-Out of COVID-19 Vaccines Now

Indian Doctors for Truth (IDT) have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressing the importance of an urgent need to stop the overzealous universal vaccination drive against COVID-19.

Twenty doctors have signed the letter and highlight numerous scientific data about immunity achieved by the Indian population among both adults and children in light of the latest sero-survey done by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi along with the World Health Organization.

Based on the evidence, IDT urges the PM to immediately stop the drive for vaccination of the entire population and limit it to voluntary vaccination of only those above 60 years and/or people with severe degree of comorbidity.

The letter itself runs to five pages but the signatories enclosed 21 pages of references and evidence in support of their claims. What is presented below is a summary of some of the key points made in the five-page letter. The full letter and list of signatories can be read on the Awaken India Movement website.

The doctors argue that the first principle of medicine is to do no harm and to benefit patients. They point out that the vaccination drive is doing more harm than any good for the people of India and present the PM with scientific facts about SARS-CoV-2 related immunity and vaccination.

Those who have recovered from COVID-19 develop robust and long-lasting immunity against SARS-CoV-2, even after mild or asymptomatic infections. The chances of reinfection among these people, including from the emerging variants of the same virus, are extremely rare or non-existent. The WHO in its interim guidance released on 2 July 2021 has also recognised the fact of acquired immunity in all those who have had previous infection with SARS-CoV-2.

There is no evidence to show that those who have recovered from the infection will get any additional benefit from vaccination.

The epidemiology of COVID-19 in India is very different from other countries and varies much within the country itself: there are differences between urban and rural communities and between socioeconomic strata. There is therefore a need for policies that address prevention of COVID-19, including the policy on vaccination, which account for the situation in India.

According to available reports, the percentage of the population infected in the US, UK and similar countries is at 1-23%. In India, recent sero-surveys at Delhi and Mumbai have reported a positivity of 50-70%, indicating that a significant proportion of Indians have already been infected and will therefore not need the vaccine.

A number of reports have been published stressing that India has already achieved herd immunity. Mathematical models have explained what percentage of a population is required to be infected and varies for different populations: the disease-induced herd immunity level can be as low as 43%.

The case fatality rate (CFR) is usually reported by the government: the number of deaths per 100 confirmed cases as detected by antigen or rt-PCR test. But as renowned epidemiologist Dr John Ioannidis shows, the proper way of counting death rate in diseases with a CFR less than five is infection mortality rate.

Therefore, considering the fact of high level of infections in India, near herd immunity and very low levels of infection fatality rates, vaccinating the entire population will not serve any purpose. Moreover, given the negligible risk to children from COVID-19, trial of the vaccines for them or even consideration of approval is highly unethical.

Four recent studies indicate that almost 99.9% of the population have immune system memory from previous coronavirus infections and that, whether the actual coronavirus infection or the vaccine, the immune system gets activated and vaccines, in fact, can be more harmful in an already immune population.

Rapid and efficient memory-type immune responses occur reliably in virtually all unvaccinated individuals who are exposed to SARS-CoV-2. The effectiveness of further boosting the immune response through vaccination is therefore highly doubtful. Vaccination may instead aggravate disease through antibody-dependent enhancement.

The Indian government’s own operative guidelines have mentioned that “COVID-19 vaccines have limited safety data”. Moreover, adverse effects of the vaccine are found the world over. For example, as per the EUDRA report dated June 19, more than 1.3 million people in EU countries have had vaccine adverse effects and 13,867 people have died following vaccination. Furthermore, as in many countries, in India also, the death rate from COVID-19 seems to have increased with the increase in the vaccination drive.

The number of deaths per thousand population did not increase much, if at all, in most countries in 2020. Even in India, deaths per thousand increased 0.5% in 2019 but 0.49% in 2020. However, they seem to have increased after the vaccine drive.

Considering all the above, IDT strongly urge that the overzealous universal vaccination drive, with widespread incidences of coercion and vaccination being made mandatory for jobs and student exams, must be stopped immediately.

The doctors also call on the government to offer people above the age of 60 and those with severe comorbidities vaccination on a voluntary basis with full disclosure of warnings about side effects and the lack of safety data – as mentioned in the government’s operative guidelines for COVID-19.

They call for a stop on all trials on children for the vaccine and urge the government to institute detailed studies to analyse the observation that there has been a surge in cases and deaths due to COVID-19 in India since March-April 2021, coinciding with the roll out of the vaccination drive.

A glaring omission from the IDT letter is any focus on vaccinating pregnant women. This, too, should be addressed.

The post Urgent Plea by Doctors to India’s PM: Halt Roll-Out of COVID-19 Vaccines Now first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Three Guys and a Podcast Questioning the SOP of the ‘traditional’ Left

I was asked to appear on What’s Left?, a podcast put on by three fellows, all identifying as socialist, and all concerned about the shut down of critical thinking, the shuttling of alternative narratives and censoring of plain old questioning paradigms and authorities of any ilk. Their concern covers why questioning the scientism of today’s Corona Craziness is somehow verboten, or why we can’t discuss what the Lockdowns do and do not do, or worse, how the censoring of medical treatments (like ivermectin) — life saving ones — by mass media, left media and by so-called leftists has killed thousands.

They have a more far-ranging repertoire, and in these various podcasts, they take on sacred cows and traditional paradigms coming from “the left.” What is Left; i.e. What’s Left, is something that has been tackled here at DV:

What Is Progressivism? by Kim Petersen

This Is the Left? by Steve Church

Don’t Confuse the Left with the Right But Beware of the False Left by Kim Petersen

What Is (and Is Not) Left-Wing? by Kieran Kelly

The Left: Sleepwalking among the Workless Class by Kim Petersen

A great idea — self-reflective, rhetorical, didactic — turned into a regular twice-a-month discourse with a guest (many times) and these three dudes — Eduardo, Kenny and Andy. Sometimes it’s just the three of them grappling with modernity and history, the collision of left with consumerism, how capitalism is a disease but one we live with or under. Many times, the shows are awakenings, as the three of them come at the respective topics from very defined and diverse backgrounds. Connotation versus denotation, and then all the heralded processed of analytical thinking, and discourse and debate (they do not always agree on issues or spins).

There is a refreshing openness to what the three do, and how many times the topics are picked out of a bucket one week while then the three go about researching each topic to bring some construction to the podcast. They lean into discovery, and how their own more or less generalized collective social justice ethos dovetails into the realities of Xenophobia, Colonizing minds, collective delusion, and, yes, why leftists in general have a slew of topics they just will not venture toward, or worse, topics for which leftists will not entertain multiple discourses and perspectives around, albeit, what we see now, a cancelling, or censoring of discussion and debate, de facto or overtly pronounced. Like a house of cards, lies and ameliorating toward some cherished false balance or invented purity come tumbling down.

Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. Not respecting anyone, he ceases to love, and having no love, he gives himself up to the passions and coarse pleasures, in order to occupy and amuse himself, and in his vices reaches complete bestiality, and it all comes from lying continually to others and to himself.

— Zosima makes this speech to Fyodor Pavlovich in Book II:  Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov

Here, recent shows:

  • JUL 17, 2021 — Biden’s Sleight of Hand in Afghanistan
  • JUL 10, 2021 — Abolish the Police! I Mean, Defund the Police! Never mind, Fund the Police!
  • JUL 3, 2021 — Haeder’s Reimagining Sanity – Batty Bioweapons, 5G, Star Wars
  • JUN 26, 2021 — The Lowdown on Higher Ed
  • JUN 19, 2021 — Secret Societies and the New World Order
  • JUN 13, 2021 — What is the New World Order?

Even Kenny was interviewed a while back on the show — What’s Left? interviews Kenny Zepeda on his journey from Guatemala to the United States and from liberal reformist to socialist revolutionary. Previous What’s Left? Episodes Kenny on revolts in Chile and Latin America, Kenny on Climate Change Nicaragua and Fake Socialism, What’s Left? Kenny Z.: The Revolutionary Road

Their first episodes dealt with myriad of issues — beginning August 2018

  • Sacrificing Everything for Nike
  • Prison Strike 2018!
  • Interview with a Pro-Capitalist Anarchist
  • What’s Left of Abortion Rights?
  • Is the U.S. Turning to Fascism?

As teachers, Andy and Eduardo have been dealing with lockdowns and Zoom doom rooms for educating (sic) youth. They are dealing with fellow teachers who have taken the Covid-19 pill that has turned them into Covidians.

They are concerned about the censorship of leftists who might question the bioweapon theories, or promulgate them, citing USA DARPA and other nefarious actors in higher ed, industry, etc.

The Jab, Star Wars, and the Bubble Net of Digital Gulags

In the new world, it is not the big fish which eats the small fish, it’s the fast fish which eats the slow fish. — Klaus Schwab

That was May 22, 2021. The episode was great, far-ranging and with my own brand of frenetic fervor, and, alas, it was taken down from YouTube:

Pulled from YouTube”: Mantra of Our Age by Paul Haeder,  July 13th, 2021

I am of the opinion that people have the right to decide whether to accept vaccines or not, especially since these are experimental vaccines … My concern is I know there are risks but we don’t have access to the data … We don’t really have the information we need to make a reasonable decision.

— Dr. Robert Malone, “Inventor of mRNA Interviewed About Injection Dangers“

Now, I will give readers the entire interview I did with them, via email, here, to give the reader a decent look at three very different men and their narratives, their avocations, their work now, and what makes them tick as socialists-Marxists.

Hear no Evil, See no Evil, Speak no Evil by Gavin Mayhew

They have moved into the Fourth Industrial Revolution to what is a new world order.

For me, I was asked to handle the ungainly topics of Covid-19 as a bioweaponized monster, possibly put into the world intentionally by USA, and then 5G and 6G, what that means to public and environmental health, and then tying in the militarization of space as part and parcel of the pogrom.

What's Left? (podcast) - Eduardo Abarca & Andy Libson | Listen Notes

Now, I believe Andy at first gravitated to me because I am an unapologetic communist, and that is a refined term in some sense since I’m not espousing a communism that has been bastardized by USA, by the media, even by some history.

Tolerance is another buzzword, and for all those gigs I worked where I questioned the management, the deans, the presidents, provosts, the managers, the editors, et al, well, this country is propaganda central, wink and a nod, smoke and mirrors, and triangulating those who doubt the goals of management and the leadership — triangulating us out of the discussion, the discourse, hence, the death of critical debate/thinking/questioning.

Now, I don’t see on What’s Left?, 163 episodes, a deep look at some of these shenanigans, in the world, and not just Rogue State USA. Israel.

That in a nutshell is the death knell:

Here, a far-ranging discussion on Israel and on the Covid program:

Listen to  Julianne Romanello, Gilad Atzmon, and Jason Bosch go deep into “ideological and spiritual thoughts that have turned our world into an open air prison.” This sort of show, well, scrubbed, and right along the lines of looking at this concept of “chosenness, and then at the work of Leo Strauss, Athens & Jerusalem, Noahide fundamentals, the origin of Zionism and many other crucial topics most intellectuals insist to avoid…”

Better Dead Than Red Sticker & Decal - Ballistic Ink

These are the times, but they were the times for me a long time ago, when I was 13, questioning cruise ships knocking over coral reefs, or bulldozers destroying the Sonora, or the Vietnam War narratives, and it just continued every place I ended up as a worker: the people “in power” are lunatics, for the most part. On one level, sure, let’s do some trauma informed care, but in the end, this society’s underbelly  — USA, Canada, UK, Europe and Australia — has to be questioned!

Education, since all of us are educators, that is, with the What’s Left? reference, is amazingly entrenched in indoctrination and deadening of critical thinking:

Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher's Journey Through The Dark World of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto

And, the narrative around Israel and what’s happening globally, well, that is shut down all the time:

ESSENTIAL READING:

  • Microsoft, Google join Whatsapp lawsuit vs. Israeli spyware developer
  • Stuxnet: The Israeli-American Computer Virus That Started Cyber-Warfare

RELATED READING:

  • Snowden: Israeli technology may have helped Saudis kill journalist
  • Israeli Spying on US, Perfecting 24/7 Surveillance Tech
  • Why did Microsoft fund an Israeli firm that surveils West Bank Palestinians?
  • Israel Launches Internet “Command Center” to Monitor Social Media
  • Julian Assange exposed the crimes of powerful actors, including Israel
  • Israel advocate Ravich named to senior intelligence post, planned US-Israel cyber project against BDS

VIDEOS:

  • ADL to Build Silicon Valley Center to Monitor & Fight “Cyberhate” [Video]
  • Israel is Training U.S. Police

Check out more here — If Americans Knew and Palestine News:

Identified by Google, an Israeli spyware company has enabled government hacking of social media and email accounts of over 100 journalists, activists, and others.

Israeli Hackers

The American Federation of Teachers, all those colleges and universities, and K12 ordering everyone to get an mRNA experimental treatment (sic), they will use the tools of oppression, from Google to Israel’s hacking and tracking and ripping up tools. Andy did a live event, with social distancing (sic), even masks, outside, with parental permission, on circuits. The honchos at his school in the Mission District of San Francisco came down hard on him. We know the feeling, Andy, we being the royal “we.”

Check out an interview of Andy on Left Lockdown Skeptics —  “Fighting lockdown in California: A US teacher speaks

Q & A for Paul Haeder

Paul Haeder: What is “What’s Left?” and how did it come about?

Eduardo: Oh, golly… I think, for me, it started back in 2017 in the aftermath of the “Unite the Right rally” in Charlottesville as I was attempting to politically make sense of the times and debate a childhood friend of mine on a public social platform. I had watched many Oxford debates before and wanted to do something similar. I really thought my friendship was on the line. Fortunately, Andy had come along at that time and shared with me he was interested in taking our own café political discussions online. So, we had a long conversation about the idea of “What’s Left?” and its intention. Something we both agreed on early on was to have open, honest discussions about our personal politics and ideas. We wanted to create a space for alternative points of view that challenged the mainstream Left. We had noticed there was a growing tribalistic way of thinking on the Left that seemed to cancel all deviant political discourse. Hence, “What’s Left?” came into being.

Andy: Eduardo and I started “What’s Left?” 3 years ago.  For me, I had been politically frustrated at not having an outlet for discussing my own political ideas and thoughts that came up as events happened.  At the same time, I watched YouTube channels on groups of friends who would get together and review movies or video games.  They seemed to have fun doing that and I approached Eduardo about trying to do the same thing but with politics.  I have always enjoyed talking with Eduardo and I trusted him to be passionate and honest about his beliefs (just as I was trying to be).  It has been both rewarding and fun despite YouTube’s censorship nonsense.

Kenny: I joined the show a couple years ago. I first joined Andy and Eduardo in a conversation about the events unfolding in Nicaragua in 2018. From then on, I participated as an occasional contributor regarding Latin America related topics until I was approached to contribute on a weekly basis.

PH: “What’s Left?” is composed of three hosts. Can each of you share your background?

Kenny: I’ve been a restaurant worker and a manager at a small mom and pop restaurant in San Francisco, CA. most of my working age life. I grew up in Guatemala until the age of 12 when we emigrated to California. Much of what has informed my road to Marxism has to do with lived experiences such as migration from Guatemala to the U.S. A , my father’s dealing with immigration and eventual  deportation, attending public school in San Francisco, entering and dropping out of UC Berkeley, growing up around sex work, growing up in a U.S. backed military dictatorship in Guatemala among other things. The search for answers that actually make sense has shaped my life and led me to Marxism.

Eduardo: I was a “cross cultural kid” having lived in México with all of my tías/tíos, abuelitos and primos, then as I got older went to public school in San Francisco, CA. I would study in San Francisco then spend my rather long summers back home. It was an atypical Latino experience of back and forth. I cannot say I had the common undocumented Latino experience for most families in the USA. I mean most families are not crossing the border over skies multiple times a year. So, it shapes one in a way. But I would say my 18 years as a Jehovah’s Witness had the most impact in my life. I would read forbidden literature late into the wee hours, be curious of all things deprived of me and learned never to trust ANY person, organization or ideology claiming to be the “right way.” I will say it fulfilled my desire to be of service to others. It was just an awful sort of service of conversion. Although, I did teach many illiterate people how to read over that time. I found another way to fulfill that void when I witnessed the massive anti-war protests of 2003 and joined the school walkouts. From there it was joining many Lefty movements and campaigns, such as supporting progressive candidates. I think my skills as an organizer and activist of rallies and protests, though, were sharpened by Occupy Wall Street and protests against GMO companies. Those experiences have influenced the way I think and do things. If I had to label myself, I would say I am anarchist-leaning-syndicalist-Leftist-libertarian. If you have an issue with that mouthful, too bad.

 Andy: I am a school teacher in San Francisco (who lives in Oakland).  I have been teaching science (physics and chemistry) for over 20 years.  I have been a Marxist for that long as well.  I have been in socialist organizations and active in my union over that time.  Currently, while still active in my union, I am pretty much a solo communist trying to find a political community to work with.  “What’s Left?” has been a big part of rebuilding that community.

PH: What for you are some of the more compelling topics and issues you all have covered?

Andy: I think the one episode that stands out for me is our interviews with Eric Lerner (part 1 and part 2) challenging the notion of the Big Bang as a theory that explains our current universe.  This was such a surprising issue for me and uprooted a core premise of my beliefs in an area that caught me completely off guard.  At the same time, it explained the nagging sense I had that there was some real problems with these things like dark matter and dark energy.  So these episodes, for me, symbolize the way my world has been continually shifted and uprooted as I take this political journey with Eduardo and Kenny.  It also symbolizes my attempt to use truth as my North Star, not ideology.

Eduardo: Oh, there are so many. But I think I’ll go with what has recently changed me in many ways. The topics around the Internet of Things with Alison McDowell, and, what I call “my COVID journey”, the reopening schools debate as well as the vaccines. It’s been a rollercoaster and re-traumatising being rejected and attacked on a personal level from friends on the Left who disagree with everything we have recently discussed. I also realize we have to discuss unpopular topics or say more than “We oppose Trump!”.

Kenny: For me, the show has been instrumental in processing and dissecting a number of topics, but most especially everything related to the pandemic. I’ve been particularly captivated by the fast encroachment of tech into our lives and the implications it will have for dissenting working class voices.

PH: What topics would you like to cover in the future on “What’s Left?”

Kenny: I’d love to continue covering relevant topics to fellow workers, in ways that are accessible and not elitist, in the hopes that we can spark interest in thinking outside the parameters chosen by our ruling class. I would definitely love to continue tracking the implementation of the techno-fascist world being built in the name of social justice with rhetoric of inclusion. I’d love to continue processing the implications of current events outside the mainstream manufactured narratives.

Andy: “What’s Left?” has really been a labor of love, and we have pretty much been able to interview the people and cover the subjects we want. I would say that I hope that it can increasingly become a locus of organizing for me as I try to build a community of parents, teachers, activists and even students who are prepared to join me in fighting the implementation of the 4th industrial revolution in education.

Eduardo: We have to continue covering on-the-ground workers’ experience and any significant mobilization. However, if it’s slow and there isn’t much going on currently, I’d like to delve into more labor history and revolutions. Hopefully that will inspire more workers to organize.

PH: Your channel has experienced a lot of censorship with YouTube taking many of your videos down and threatening you with “community strikes”. How has this affected your channel? How has it affected you personally?

Eduardo: The ruthless censorship of YouTube and big social media platforms is outrageous. I don’t understand how we can criticize China and North Korea for their censorship when we have it going on here as well. The recent strikes on our channel have been eye-opening. I just don’t get why it hasn’t been for others. I wish our channel could reach more people. Unfortunately, we started at a time when the play of algorithms has been used against us. On a personal level, sometimes it feels discouraging because I imagined we would reach more people. Andy and I discussed from the beginning, though, that our intention wasn’t to gain “followers” or “subscribers” for popularity contests. I just hope our political conversations reach more folks as we see people really relieved to have found us when they write to us on our blog. They feel connected and not so alone anymore.

Kenny: I suspect that regardless if we are straight up taken down, the algorithm gods will manage our content’s diffusion. In my perspective, this is only the beginning of the even more dystopian doctored sense of ‘reality”. YouTube’s censorship hasn’t affected me personally in any significant way. At least not now. I expected it in some form or another. It does shed some light into the fast approaching dystopian future. The censorship and political isolation in my community is another story.

Andy: YouTube’s censorship is bullshit. It has definitely been a disruption to getting our message out on YouTube, but from what I understand, even without the censorship, YouTube’s ‘algorithm’ has kept our channel in check. But, I think one good thing about it (if you can call it that) is that it has forced me to really challenge my beliefs in pushing me to speak my beliefs in the face of censorship or isolation. Of course, I want our channel to be seen by more people, but not at the expense of us staying true to our vision of “What’s Left?” is a place where people can speak honestly. So, I am going to stick with honesty and let YouTube decide for themselves if we can do so there. If not, I am content with the idea that we will find other places to have our discussions.

 PH:  Given the sort of culling of discussion and debate and information flow back and forth being by the elites, what would you tell students who might ask you why all the websites and podcasts and videos are coming down?

 Andy: As a teacher, my political focus has always been on organizing and talking with other adults (co-workers and parents). The best way to help students organize is to be a model for them in my pursuit of getting us adults to wage a fight for our collective liberation. I have found this road a difficult one, but I do not think I can teach my students anything about the fight for our own liberation unless I engage in that pursuit with my fellow workers right now. I do talk with students who ask me about my beliefs but I rarely use the classroom as a vehicle for getting my politics out there, although I will facilitate discussions when they come up to see what students’ ideas are.

Eduardo: I think there are enough great episodes from Black Mirror to ease the conversation into the idea that we are increasingly approaching a dystopian future if we don’t organize to intervene. From there, I would share and facilitate discussions around the culling of our political freedom of speech. But I think it goes beyond the classroom. So many educators want to contain or effect change within the confines of the classroom. We have to organize together alongside them to create the change we want to see.

Kenny: I’m not a teacher/educator. I’ll sit this one out.

PH: If you were stuck with a stranger on an elevator and could only talk briefly, how would you describe the core of your political beliefs?

Kenny: I’m highly suspicious of power and strongly believe in the power of community. I think capitalism rewards antisocial behavior and it’s inherently coercive. Capitalism cannot be contained  with legislative reform as advocated by liberal ideology. I think we live in a world technologically capable of sustaining organized human life and only a socialist revolution can and must take over the wealth workers create for the good of the masses and away from the truly privileged few. Capitalism, through its inherent violent and competitive nature, cannot bring about a world of peace and abundance for the masses. Only a revolution that suppresses wage slavery and other coercive and destructive mechanisms of capitalism can change the course of the cataclysm ahead of us. The profit motive must be obliterated out of production. What we produce must serve life, NOT  profit.

Andy: I am a Communist. I believe the collective working class is the only force that can make a revolutionary change of our current system, Capitalism. Capitalism is the organized theft of our labor by a minority and is at the root of virtually all the problems we see in society today —  war, racism, sexism, environmental destruction and the deep isolation and alienation all workers feel. The only way out of this is a socialist revolution that eliminates the profit motive for production and establishes worker’s rule through mass working class democracy.

Eduardo: I am an anarchist-syndicalist-Leftist-libertarian-anti-capitalist. I don’t claim to have the answers. I don’t know what is the best approach. I am skeptical of many things. But what I do know is that the current system that we are living in isn’t working for us. It’s detrimental and we are going to suffer greatly if we don’t put a stop to this system. I believe we have to organize as workers and see that the Leftist identity politics isn’t getting us anywhere. We can’t be shutting down or shutting out other people because of their political positions. We have to challenge them and we have to continue sorting it out together… but by working together.

PH: Are you a pacifist, and if so, why, and if not, then what, and why?

Eduardo: I want to say yes. I dream of a world where our revolution could be achieved in such a way. Unfortunately, I am struggling seeing how that could become possible. The capitalist class and all people with power have waged violence on us. They have started this fight and are willing to massively destroy us if we don’t defend ourselves. I still have a lot of conflicting feelings over this topic.

Kenny: “For the oppressor, peace is the absence of a response to their violence.” I think history has been sanitized to make us believe fundamental change arrives through Disneyfied slogans and appealing to the morality of the oppressor. Capitalism is inherently violent, and it attempts to have a monopoly of violence in the hands of the police/military  and other coercive institutions. If we pretend to rattle the cage of power, we have to be ready to respond to the unleashing of the institutions built to protect a violent system. We have to be able to contend with their monopoly of violence. My mother taught me to exhaust all the means necessary to avoid violence, but she also taught me some abusers can only be pushed out of the way by punching them in the face when you must.

Andy: No. I believe we will ultimately need to be armed to liberate ourselves from Capitalism. A class war will be necessary and I do believe violence has a role in workers’ experience of liberation (such as anti-colonial struggles or anti-occupation resistance).  We live in a system where two great classes are in opposition to each other (Capitalist and Worker), and we live under their violent boot every second of every day that Capitalism exists.  This system will require violence to uproot it.  The better we are organized, the less violence required, but we must recognize our struggle as a war if we are to understand both the stakes and the seriousness of the struggle we are engaged in.

PH: Where do you see the world in 20 years?

Andy: I believe in the possibility of working class revolution, but currently I don’t believe we will make it happen in time.  I think Capitalism is headed to its 3rd global war which will embroil China, United States, Russia, Europe, and India as the major players in a life and death struggle to see who will control the globe (and secure maximum profits, resources and markets for itself).  Unless stopped (and I believe working class revolution is the only way to stop this inevitability), we will have a war that will go nuclear and kill billions and likely destroy the world enough to push all of us back into feudal existence at best.  I think some of the sci-fi depictions we see in “The Road” or “Mad Max” are pretty good descriptors of where things are headed.  That’s what I see for us in the next 20 years unless we do something to stop it.

Kenny: I think we need a global workers’ socialist revolution with the most decisive battle happening in the economic north. The U.S., the world’s dominant hegemon, is being challenged and will continue to be challenged as it overextends itself. All empires suffer a violent end. The U.S. threatens to bring the entirety of organized human life down with it. Cooperation in capitalism is only a tenuous illusion. The illusion of cooperation will be exposed as the major powers come into a competitive clash under the pressures of dwindling resources and markets.

Eduardo: It’s unfortunate that I don’t think the world will get any better if we don’t do something about it now. My view is quite grim. Alison McDowell has been on our show many times and has shown us how fast the fourth industrial revolution is accelerating. I fear we are losing a part of ourselves, our humanity. But I think we each have to continue this lucha one step at a time.

PH: Define what it means to be a human?

 Eduardo: To be human is to be of service, to think, to understand we are linked and interconnected. In the USA there is a strong selfish individualistic culture. Where I am from people live together communally as families and neighbors for years, if not forever. I fear we have lost that in many ways here. I think we can only come to an understanding by building those long-term relationships to understand such values as compassion, care and love beyond our immediate selves.

Andy: Being human means being free to both express yourself, be yourself and through that find out who you truly are.  But humans are social, so society must be free to have free associations so that a community can likewise be free to find and express itself through the free participation of its individual members.  At the root of being human is being free to be yourself and free to associate with whomever best fits your true self.

Kenny: Being human is the ability to understand processes beyond our individual survival. Being human is the ability to understand how our destinies are inter-connected with other life forms. Being human is the recognition that we are social beings and that our individual well being rests on the well being of our communities and our environment both locally and globally.

PH: What does community mean to you?

Kenny: Community is a pillar of humanity.

Eduardo: Bees come to mind. I mean I can think of many animal examples we could admire for their systems of communities. We can be more than that. I think we would not allow much of what is happening, such as the destruction of our environment, the occupation of lands and other profit-driven acts if we felt that pull and tie to one another. If we work together, if we think of all our comrades/companions, we would build a stronger and brighter future.

Andy: A community is a set of people I trust enough to be my true self with.  A community is a collection of people who make worthwhile the sacrifice of my time and abilities to make that community stronger and more able to bring the best out of all of its members.  A true community celebrates and strengthens its individual members and is strengthened and celebrated by the individuals who compose it.

PH: What have been some of your biggest influencers in your life to have gotten you where you are now? And, exactly where are you now?

Andy: Politically, my development as a Marxist who tries to blend my ideas (theory) with practice, I would say my friend, Brian Belknap, has been the most significant influence.  Personally, there are many people I could cite, but I think I would put my decision to engage in counseling over the last 15 years as the most significant decision to help me integrate my current self with my past self and integrate my political self with my personal self.  In terms of historical political influences, I would put the major ones as Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, and Rosa Luxemburg as the biggest influences who help me orient myself as I try to make my way in the confusing journey of trying to change the world.

Kenny: My mother has always advocated for the marginalized by putting her well being in harms ways. She influenced me by showing up for others and for justice. My mother inspired me to speak against inhumane and despicable acts and to side with the weak and abused while advocating for myself. Even though she never engages in theory, my mother has always been a communist in practice. A passionate enemy of maliciousness.

Eduardo: Oh so many… Noam Chomsky helped me make sense of world politics. How wars, greed and power trips make these empires run the world. Christopher Hitchens gave me a way to leave my former Jehovah’s Witness life. Subcomandante Marcos, from the Zapatista movement, was an inspiration early on and provided the hope that class/native action can happen. Though small, they have achieved something that you won’t find anywhere in the USA. I think these are the top three figures that have paved the way for me.

Note: We’d like to thank Paul Haeder for the opportunity to share our story and our thoughts on Dissident Voice.  If you like what we have to say and want to talk to us on “What’s Left?” feel free to contact us at:  what’s left? 

https://www.elcohetealaluna.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Cuba-resiste.jpg

At a 1969 Students for a Democratic Society conference, a 27-year old graduate of the University of Chicago’s Law School, Bernardine Dohrn, proposed:

The best thing that we can be doing for ourselves, as well as for the Panthers and the revolutionary black liberation struggle, is to build a fucking white revolutionary movement.

The post Three Guys and a Podcast Questioning the SOP of the ‘traditional’ Left first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Washington Beats the Drum of Regime Change, but Cuba Responds to Its Own Revolutionary Rhythm

Préfète Duffaut (Haiti), Le Générale Canson, 1950.

In 1963, the Trinidadian writer CLR James released a second edition of his classic 1938 study of the Haitian Revolution, The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. For the new edition, James wrote an appendix with the suggestive title ‘From Toussaint L’Ouverture to Fidel Castro’. In the opening page of the appendix, he located the twin Revolutions of Haiti (1804) and Cuba (1959) in the context of the West Indian islands: ‘The people who made them, the problems and the attempts to solve them, are peculiarly West Indian, the product of a peculiar origin and a peculiar history’. Thrice James uses the word ‘peculiar’, which emerges from the Latin peculiaris for ‘private property’ (pecu is the Latin word for ‘cattle’, the essence of ancient property).

Property is at the heart of the origin and history of the modern West Indies. By the end of the 17th century, the European conquistadors and colonialists had massacred the inhabitants of the West Indies. On St. Kitts in 1626, English and French colonialists massacred between two and four thousand Caribs – including Chief Tegremond – in the Kalinago genocide, which Jean-Baptiste Du Tertre wrote about in 1654. Having annihilated the island’s native people, the Europeans brought in African men and women who had been captured and enslaved. What unites the West Indian islands is not language and culture, but the wretchedness of slavery, rooted in an oppressive plantation economy. Both Haiti and Cuba are products of this ‘peculiarity’, the one being bold enough to break the shackles in 1804 and the other able to follow a century and a half later.

Osmond Watson (Jamaica), City Life, 1968.

Today, crisis is the hour in the Caribbean.

On 7 July, just outside of Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince, gunmen broke into the home of President Jovenel Moïse, assassinated him in cold blood, and then fled. The country – already wracked by social upheaval sparked by the late president’s policies – has now plunged even deeper into crisis. Already, Moïse had forcefully extended his presidential mandate beyond his term as the country struggled with the burdens of being dependent on international agencies, trapped by a century-long economic crisis, and struck hard by the pandemic. Protests had become commonplace across Haiti as the prices of everything skyrocketed and as no effective government came to the aid of a population in despair. But Moïse was not killed because of this proximate crisis. More mysterious forces are at work: US-based Haitian religious leaders, narco-traffickers, and Colombian mercenaries. This is a saga that is best written as a fictional thriller.

Four days after Moïse’s assassination, Cuba experienced a set of protests from people expressing their frustration with shortages of goods and a recent spike of COVID-19 infections. Within hours of receiving the news that the protests had emerged, Cuba’s President Miguel Díaz-Canel went to the streets of San Antonio de los Baños, south of Havana, to march with the protestors. Díaz-Canel and his government reminded the eleven million Cubans that the country has suffered greatly from the six-decade-long illegal US blockade, that it is in the grip of Trump’s 243 additional ‘coercive measures’, and that it will fight off the twin problems of COVID-19 and a debt crisis with its characteristic resolve.

Nonetheless, a malicious social media campaign attempted to use these protests as a sign that the government of Díaz-Canel and the Cuban Revolution should be overthrown. It was clarified a few days later that this campaign was run from Miami, Florida, in the United States. From Washington, DC, the drums of regime change sounded loudly. But they have not found find much of an echo in Cuba. Cuba has its own revolutionary rhythms.

Eduardo Abela (Cuba), Los Guajiros (1938).

In 1804, the Haitian Revolution – a rebellion of the plantation proletariat who struck against the agricultural factories that produced sugar and profit – sent up a flare of freedom across the colonised world. A century and a half later, the Cubans fired their own flare.

The response to each of these revolutions from the fossilised magnates of Paris and Washington was the same: suffocate the stirrings of freedom by indemnities and blockades. In 1825, the French demanded through force that the Haitians pay 150 million francs for the loss of property (namely human beings). Alone in the Caribbean, the Haitians felt that they had no choice but to pay up, which they did to France (until 1893) and then to the United States (until 1947). The total bill over the 122 years amounts to $21 billion. When Haiti’s President Jean-Bertrand Aristide tried to recover those billions from France in 2003, he was removed from office by a coup d’état.

After the United States occupied Cuba in 1898, it ran the island like a gangster’s playground. Any attempt by the Cubans to exercise their sovereignty was squashed with terrible force, including invasions by US forces in 1906-1909, 1912, 1917-1922, and 1933. The United States backed General Fulgencio Batista (1940-1944 and 1952-1959) despite all the evidence of his brutality. After all, Batista protected US interests, and US firms owned two-thirds of the country’s sugar industry and almost its entire service sector.

The Cuban Revolution of 1959 stands against this wretched history – a history of slavery and imperial domination. How did the US react? By imposing an economic blockade on the country from 19 October 1960 that lasts to this day, which has targeted everything from access to medical supplies, food, and financing to barring Cuban imports and coercing third-party countries to do the same. It is a vindictive attack against a people who – like the Haitians – are trying to exercise their sovereignty. Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez reported that between April 2019 and December 2020, the government lost $9.1 billion due to the blockade ($436 million per month). ‘At current prices’, he said, ‘the accumulated damages in six decades amount to over $147.8 billion, and against the price of gold, it amounts to over $1.3 trillion’.

None of this information would be available without the presence of media outlets such as Peoples Dispatch, which celebrates its three-year anniversary this week. We send our warmest greetings to the team and hope that you will bookmark their page to visit it several times a day for world news rooted in people’s struggles.

Bernadette Persaud (Guyana), Gentlemen Under the Sky (Gulf War), 1991.

On 17 July, tens of thousands of Cubans took to the streets to defend their Revolution and demand an end to the US blockade. President Díaz-Canel said that the Cuba of ‘love, peace, unity, [and] solidarity’ had asserted itself. In solidarity with this unwavering affirmation, we have launched a call for participation in the exhibition Let Cuba Live. The submission deadline is 24 July for the online exhibition launch on 26 July – the anniversary of the revolutionary movement that brought Cuba to Revolution in 1959 – but we encourage ongoing submissions. We are inviting international artists and militants to participate in this flash exhibition as we continue to amplify the campaign #LetCubaLive to end the blockade.

A few weeks before the most recent attack on Cuba and the assassination in Haiti, the United States armed forces conducted a major military exercise in Guyana called Tradewinds 2021 and another exercise in Panama called Panamax 2021. Under the authority of the United States, a set of European militaries (France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom) – each with colonies in the region – joined Brazil and Canada to conduct Tradewinds with seven Caribbean countries (The Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago). In a show of force, the US demanded that Iran cancel the movement of its ships to Venezuela in June ahead of the US-sponsored military exercise.

The United States is eager to turn the Caribbean into its sea, subordinating the sovereignty of the islands. It was curious that Guyana’s Prime Minister Mark Phillips said that these US-led war games strengthen the ‘Caribbean regional security system’. What they do, as our recent dossier on US and French military bases in Africa shows, is to subordinate the Caribbean states to US interests. The US is using its increased military presence in Colombia and Guyana to increase pressure on Venezuela.

Elsa Gramcko (Venezuela), El ojo de la cerradura (‘The Keyhole’), 1964.

Sovereign regionalism is not alien to the Caribbean, which has made four attempts to build a platform: the West Indian Federation (1958-1962), Caribbean Free Trade Association (1965-1973), Caribbean Community (1973-1989), and CARICOM (1989 to the present). What began as an anti-imperialist union has now devolved into a trade association that attempts to better integrate the region into world trade. The politics of the Caribbean are increasingly being drawn into orbit of the US. In 2010, the US created the Caribbean Basic Security Initiative, whose agenda is shaped by Washington.

In 2011, our old friend Shridath Ramphal, Guyana’s foreign minister from 1972 to 1975, repeated the words of the great Grenadian radical T. A. Marryshow: ‘The West Indies must be West Indian’. In his article ‘Is the West Indies West Indian?’, he insisted that the conscious spelling of ‘The West Indies’ with a capitalised ‘T’ aims to signify the unity of the region. Without unity, the old imperialist pressures will prevail as they often do.

In 1975, the Cuban poet Nancy Morejón published a landmark poem called “Mujer Negra” (“Black Woman”). The poem opens with the terrible trade of human beings by the European colonialists, touches on the war of independence, and then settles on the remarkable Cuban Revolution of 1959:

I came down from the Sierra

to put an end to capital and usurer,
to generals and to the bourgeoisie.
Now I exist: only today do we own, do we create.
Nothing is alien to us.
The land is ours.
Ours are the sea and sky,
the magic and vision.
My fellow people, here I see you dance
around the tree we are planting for communism.
Its prodigal wood already resounds.

The land is ours. Sovereignty is ours too. Our destiny is not to live as the subordinate beings of others. That is the message of Morejón and of the Cuban people who are building their sovereign lives, and it is the message of the Haitian people who want to advance their great Revolution of 1804.

The post Washington Beats the Drum of Regime Change, but Cuba Responds to Its Own Revolutionary Rhythm first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Washington Beats the Drum of Regime Change, but Cuba Responds to Its Own Revolutionary Rhythm

Préfète Duffaut (Haiti), Le Générale Canson, 1950.

In 1963, the Trinidadian writer CLR James released a second edition of his classic 1938 study of the Haitian Revolution, The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. For the new edition, James wrote an appendix with the suggestive title ‘From Toussaint L’Ouverture to Fidel Castro’. In the opening page of the appendix, he located the twin Revolutions of Haiti (1804) and Cuba (1959) in the context of the West Indian islands: ‘The people who made them, the problems and the attempts to solve them, are peculiarly West Indian, the product of a peculiar origin and a peculiar history’. Thrice James uses the word ‘peculiar’, which emerges from the Latin peculiaris for ‘private property’ (pecu is the Latin word for ‘cattle’, the essence of ancient property).

Property is at the heart of the origin and history of the modern West Indies. By the end of the 17th century, the European conquistadors and colonialists had massacred the inhabitants of the West Indies. On St. Kitts in 1626, English and French colonialists massacred between two and four thousand Caribs – including Chief Tegremond – in the Kalinago genocide, which Jean-Baptiste Du Tertre wrote about in 1654. Having annihilated the island’s native people, the Europeans brought in African men and women who had been captured and enslaved. What unites the West Indian islands is not language and culture, but the wretchedness of slavery, rooted in an oppressive plantation economy. Both Haiti and Cuba are products of this ‘peculiarity’, the one being bold enough to break the shackles in 1804 and the other able to follow a century and a half later.

Osmond Watson (Jamaica), City Life, 1968.

Today, crisis is the hour in the Caribbean.

On 7 July, just outside of Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince, gunmen broke into the home of President Jovenel Moïse, assassinated him in cold blood, and then fled. The country – already wracked by social upheaval sparked by the late president’s policies – has now plunged even deeper into crisis. Already, Moïse had forcefully extended his presidential mandate beyond his term as the country struggled with the burdens of being dependent on international agencies, trapped by a century-long economic crisis, and struck hard by the pandemic. Protests had become commonplace across Haiti as the prices of everything skyrocketed and as no effective government came to the aid of a population in despair. But Moïse was not killed because of this proximate crisis. More mysterious forces are at work: US-based Haitian religious leaders, narco-traffickers, and Colombian mercenaries. This is a saga that is best written as a fictional thriller.

Four days after Moïse’s assassination, Cuba experienced a set of protests from people expressing their frustration with shortages of goods and a recent spike of COVID-19 infections. Within hours of receiving the news that the protests had emerged, Cuba’s President Miguel Díaz-Canel went to the streets of San Antonio de los Baños, south of Havana, to march with the protestors. Díaz-Canel and his government reminded the eleven million Cubans that the country has suffered greatly from the six-decade-long illegal US blockade, that it is in the grip of Trump’s 243 additional ‘coercive measures’, and that it will fight off the twin problems of COVID-19 and a debt crisis with its characteristic resolve.

Nonetheless, a malicious social media campaign attempted to use these protests as a sign that the government of Díaz-Canel and the Cuban Revolution should be overthrown. It was clarified a few days later that this campaign was run from Miami, Florida, in the United States. From Washington, DC, the drums of regime change sounded loudly. But they have not found find much of an echo in Cuba. Cuba has its own revolutionary rhythms.

Eduardo Abela (Cuba), Los Guajiros (1938).

In 1804, the Haitian Revolution – a rebellion of the plantation proletariat who struck against the agricultural factories that produced sugar and profit – sent up a flare of freedom across the colonised world. A century and a half later, the Cubans fired their own flare.

The response to each of these revolutions from the fossilised magnates of Paris and Washington was the same: suffocate the stirrings of freedom by indemnities and blockades. In 1825, the French demanded through force that the Haitians pay 150 million francs for the loss of property (namely human beings). Alone in the Caribbean, the Haitians felt that they had no choice but to pay up, which they did to France (until 1893) and then to the United States (until 1947). The total bill over the 122 years amounts to $21 billion. When Haiti’s President Jean-Bertrand Aristide tried to recover those billions from France in 2003, he was removed from office by a coup d’état.

After the United States occupied Cuba in 1898, it ran the island like a gangster’s playground. Any attempt by the Cubans to exercise their sovereignty was squashed with terrible force, including invasions by US forces in 1906-1909, 1912, 1917-1922, and 1933. The United States backed General Fulgencio Batista (1940-1944 and 1952-1959) despite all the evidence of his brutality. After all, Batista protected US interests, and US firms owned two-thirds of the country’s sugar industry and almost its entire service sector.

The Cuban Revolution of 1959 stands against this wretched history – a history of slavery and imperial domination. How did the US react? By imposing an economic blockade on the country from 19 October 1960 that lasts to this day, which has targeted everything from access to medical supplies, food, and financing to barring Cuban imports and coercing third-party countries to do the same. It is a vindictive attack against a people who – like the Haitians – are trying to exercise their sovereignty. Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez reported that between April 2019 and December 2020, the government lost $9.1 billion due to the blockade ($436 million per month). ‘At current prices’, he said, ‘the accumulated damages in six decades amount to over $147.8 billion, and against the price of gold, it amounts to over $1.3 trillion’.

None of this information would be available without the presence of media outlets such as Peoples Dispatch, which celebrates its three-year anniversary this week. We send our warmest greetings to the team and hope that you will bookmark their page to visit it several times a day for world news rooted in people’s struggles.

Bernadette Persaud (Guyana), Gentlemen Under the Sky (Gulf War), 1991.

On 17 July, tens of thousands of Cubans took to the streets to defend their Revolution and demand an end to the US blockade. President Díaz-Canel said that the Cuba of ‘love, peace, unity, [and] solidarity’ had asserted itself. In solidarity with this unwavering affirmation, we have launched a call for participation in the exhibition Let Cuba Live. The submission deadline is 24 July for the online exhibition launch on 26 July – the anniversary of the revolutionary movement that brought Cuba to Revolution in 1959 – but we encourage ongoing submissions. We are inviting international artists and militants to participate in this flash exhibition as we continue to amplify the campaign #LetCubaLive to end the blockade.

A few weeks before the most recent attack on Cuba and the assassination in Haiti, the United States armed forces conducted a major military exercise in Guyana called Tradewinds 2021 and another exercise in Panama called Panamax 2021. Under the authority of the United States, a set of European militaries (France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom) – each with colonies in the region – joined Brazil and Canada to conduct Tradewinds with seven Caribbean countries (The Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago). In a show of force, the US demanded that Iran cancel the movement of its ships to Venezuela in June ahead of the US-sponsored military exercise.

The United States is eager to turn the Caribbean into its sea, subordinating the sovereignty of the islands. It was curious that Guyana’s Prime Minister Mark Phillips said that these US-led war games strengthen the ‘Caribbean regional security system’. What they do, as our recent dossier on US and French military bases in Africa shows, is to subordinate the Caribbean states to US interests. The US is using its increased military presence in Colombia and Guyana to increase pressure on Venezuela.

Elsa Gramcko (Venezuela), El ojo de la cerradura (‘The Keyhole’), 1964.

Sovereign regionalism is not alien to the Caribbean, which has made four attempts to build a platform: the West Indian Federation (1958-1962), Caribbean Free Trade Association (1965-1973), Caribbean Community (1973-1989), and CARICOM (1989 to the present). What began as an anti-imperialist union has now devolved into a trade association that attempts to better integrate the region into world trade. The politics of the Caribbean are increasingly being drawn into orbit of the US. In 2010, the US created the Caribbean Basic Security Initiative, whose agenda is shaped by Washington.

In 2011, our old friend Shridath Ramphal, Guyana’s foreign minister from 1972 to 1975, repeated the words of the great Grenadian radical T. A. Marryshow: ‘The West Indies must be West Indian’. In his article ‘Is the West Indies West Indian?’, he insisted that the conscious spelling of ‘The West Indies’ with a capitalised ‘T’ aims to signify the unity of the region. Without unity, the old imperialist pressures will prevail as they often do.

In 1975, the Cuban poet Nancy Morejón published a landmark poem called “Mujer Negra” (“Black Woman”). The poem opens with the terrible trade of human beings by the European colonialists, touches on the war of independence, and then settles on the remarkable Cuban Revolution of 1959:

I came down from the Sierra

to put an end to capital and usurer,
to generals and to the bourgeoisie.
Now I exist: only today do we own, do we create.
Nothing is alien to us.
The land is ours.
Ours are the sea and sky,
the magic and vision.
My fellow people, here I see you dance
around the tree we are planting for communism.
Its prodigal wood already resounds.

The land is ours. Sovereignty is ours too. Our destiny is not to live as the subordinate beings of others. That is the message of Morejón and of the Cuban people who are building their sovereign lives, and it is the message of the Haitian people who want to advance their great Revolution of 1804.

The post Washington Beats the Drum of Regime Change, but Cuba Responds to Its Own Revolutionary Rhythm first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Israel: Racist, violent policing is at the heart of apartheid

Police made sweeping arrests of Israel’s large minority of Palestinian citizens after protests rocked the country in May during Israel’s 11-day attack on Gaza. Officers were documented beating demonstrators, and in some cases torturing them while in detention. Police also failed to protect the Palestinian minority from planned, vigilante-style attacks by far-right Jewish extremists.

This was the damning verdict of an Amnesty International report published last week. The findings indicate that Israeli police view the country’s Palestinian minority, a fifth of the population, as an enemy rather than as citizens with a right to protest.

The report echoes what Palestinian leaders in Israel and local human rights groups have long said: that the default policing of the Palestinian community in Israel is racist and violent. It reflects the same values of Jewish supremacism seen in the Israeli army’s brutal treatment of Palestinians under occupation.

The contrast between how police responded to protests by Palestinian citizens and supportive statements from their leaders, on the one hand, and to incitement from Israeli Jewish leaders and a violent backlash from the Jewish extreme right, on the other, is stark indeed.

More than 2,150 arrests were made following May’s inter-communal violence. But according to reports cited by Amnesty, more than 90 percent of those detained were Palestinian – either citizens of Israel or residents of occupied East Jerusalem.

Most face charges unrelated to attacks on people or property, despite how their demonstrations were widely portrayed by police and the Israeli media. Rather, Palestinian protesters were indicted on charges such as “insulting or assaulting a police officer” or “taking part in an illegal gathering” – matters related to the repressive policing faced by the Palestinian minority.

‘Torture room’

Amnesty cites repeated examples of unprovoked police assaults on peaceful protesters in cities such as Nazareth and Haifa. That contrasts with the continuing indulgence by police of provocations by the Jewish far-right, such as their march through Palestinian neighbourhoods of occupied East Jerusalem on 15 June, during which participants chanted: “Death to Arabs” and “May your village burn.”

Amnesty also documents testimony that Israeli police beat bound detainees in Nazareth’s police station – setting up what the local legal rights group Adalah has described as an improvised “torture room”.

In addition, a protester in Haifa appears to have been tied to a chair and deprived of sleep for nine days, using torture techniques familiar to Palestinians in the occupied territories.

In contrast, Israeli police were alerted in real time to messages from Jewish far-right groups about precise plans to smash up “Arab” shops and assault Palestinian citizens on the street. And yet, police either ignored those warnings or were slow to respond. An investigation by Haaretz has further suggested that police subsequently failed to use film footage to identify these Jewish vigilantes and, as a result, made few arrests.

This picture of police turning a blind eye to planned Jewish violence echoes scenes from the time of the protests. Footage showed police officers allowing armed Jewish thugs – many bused in from settlements – to wander freely around Palestinian neighbourhoods during a curfew on the city of Lod. There was even footage of police and Jewish far-right extremists conducting what looked like joint “operations”, with police throwing stun grenades as Jewish extremists threw stones.

Jewish politicians who incited against the Palestinian minority – from Israel’s former president, Reuven Rivlin, and Lod’s mayor, Yair Revivo, to far-right legislator Itamar Ben-Gvir – have faced no consequences.

Charged with ‘terror acts’

Instead, police arranged what amounted to a provocative, entirely unnecessary assault by special forces on the home of a Palestinian community leader, Kamal al-Khatib, to arrest him. The deputy head of the northern Islamic Movement was charged with supporting terrorism after he expressed pride at what he called the minority’s solidarity with the people of Gaza and occupied East Jerusalem.

And last week, apparently too late for inclusion in the Amnesty report, Israel’s racist policing moved in new directions.

Small numbers of Palestinian citizens suspected of attacking Jews were charged with “terror acts”, in some cases without any physical or DNA evidence tying them to the crime. In several cases, the defendants were indicted based on confessions made after prolonged interrogation by Israel’s secret police, the Shin Bet.

Israel’s legal system is treating inter-communal violence as an act of terror when Palestinian citizens are involved, and as an ordinary law-and-order issue – assuming it is dealt with at all – when Israeli Jews are involved.

Underlining this distinction is the decision to place Palestinian citizens of Israel under administrative detention, jailing them without charge and not allowing lawyers to see the supposed evidence against their clients. This draconian move – with one such order approved last week by Defence Minister Benny Gantz – is usually reserved for Palestinians under occupation, not Israeli citizens.

Settling scores

In its report, Amnesty pointed to public statements from Israeli police commanders indicating that the current harsh crackdown is really about “settling scores”. And in part, that is true.

Nearly two decades ago, a judicial-led public inquiry concluded that Israeli police treated Palestinian citizens as “the enemy”. Nothing has changed since. Police regard it as their primary job to protect the privileges of the Jewish majority by keeping the Palestinian minority crushed and obedient, as a subordinate community inside a self-declared Jewish state.

The eruption of protests in May, which caught police off-guard, was implicitly a sign that they had failed in that role. Police interpreted the demonstrations as a public humiliation for which “deterrence” needed to be urgently restored.

Israeli politicians, including the then-police minister, Amir Ohana, as well as the Jewish far-right, viewed the protests in much the same light. They argued at the time that police were being held back by legal niceties, and that it was the job of Jewish citizens to back police by taking the law into their own hands.

Yet, the “settling of scores” with the Palestinian minority relates to a separate matter. External observers, such as Amnesty, tend to notice Israel’s racist policing only when direct violence is used against Palestinian citizens. But the Palestinian minority’s experience of discrimination from police is much broader.

For years, the minority has been taking to the streets in large numbers to protest against not only the violent policing of dissent, but a complementary near-absence of policing towards Palestinian communities in Israel when it comes to tackling crime.

The harsh repression seen in recent weeks contrasts strongly with police inaction as a crime wave has swept Palestinian communities, with each year bringing a record number of violent deaths. Both Palestinian and Jewish criminal gangs have exploited the policing void in Palestinian towns and villages, knowing that they are free to act as long as the violence is “Arab-on-Arab”.

Even during the Covid-19 lockdowns, Palestinian community leaders kept up the pressure, leading go-slow convoys of dozens of cars along Israel’s busiest roads to draw attention to Israel’s racist policing priorities.

These presented a different kind of humiliation for police. Unusually, commanders were forced onto the back foot, swallowing unrelenting criticism and condemnation for failing to deal with crime in Palestinian communities. It even became one of the top issues for Palestinian parties in Israel’s string of recent elections.

Now, police are having their moment of revenge. “You want more active policing? We’ll give you more active policing. See how you like this!” seems to be the new message of the mass round-ups.

Jewish supremacism

The reality is that both kinds of policing towards Palestinian citizens – the violent policing of dissent, and the lack of policing of crime – are rooted in the same, ugly ideology of Jewish supremacism.

This is the same supremacism highlighted in a report early this year by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem. It broke new ground in the human rights community by explicitly identifying Israel as an apartheid state, one that treats Palestinians as inferior, whether in the occupied territories or inside Israel, and Jews as superior, whether in Israel or in the illegal settlements.

The new Amnesty report is the latest snapshot of a society where everything follows that apartheid logic, including policing. That should surprise no one, because apartheid is, by definition, systematic.

Most Jewish Israelis, whether they identify with the left or right, have shown little interest in the lethal crime wave that for years has washed over Palestinian communities near their own, despite the regular protest campaigns by the Palestinian minority.

And now – through their silence – most ordinary Jewish Israelis and their politicians have demonstrated that they support, or are at least indifferent to, the current crackdown by police on the Palestinian minority. The deeper causes of May’s protests, and the violent backlash from the far right, appear to have provoked little self-reflection.

The Israeli Jewish public seems equally unconcerned by the fact that Jewish far-right thugs have chanted “death to Arabs” on their streets, that videos show police cooperating with those thugs, or that police have been making mass arrests of Palestinian citizens for weeks on end, while failing to search for the Jews who were filmed attacking Palestinians.

Belligerent occupation

The truth is that Israeli police get away with racist, violent policing because wider Israeli Jewish society approves. Police regard themselves as defenders of a Jewish supremacism that many ordinary Jewish citizens see as their birthright.

The Palestinian minority hoped that it had opened a tentative conversation with Israeli Jews both about the responsibilities of police in a state claiming to be a democracy, and about the right of Israel’s 1.8 million Palestinian citizens to personal security.

There was much fanfare at Mansour Abbas’s United Arab List becoming last month the first party representing Palestinian citizens to enter an Israeli government coalition, ousting former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from power. Like other Palestinian parties, Abbas put changes to the racist police culture in Israel at the top of his platform.

But any signs of progress have been all too readily snuffed out by a reassertion of Jewish supremacism by police and their Jewish far-right allies, and by the silent complicity of wider Israeli Jewish society.

Israel had a chance to address its racist policing policies, but that would have required the difficult work of examining the much wider apartheid structures that underpin them. Instead, most Israeli Jews are happy to reassert the status quo – oppressing all Palestinians under Jewish rule, whether they are subjects of a belligerent occupation or third-class citizens of a Jewish state.

• First published in Middle East Eye

The post Israel: Racist, violent policing is at the heart of apartheid first appeared on Dissident Voice.