All posts by Yanis Iqbal

The Logic of Hegemony

On September 8, 2021, at least five media houses and six offices of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI (M)) were vandalized in three of Tripura’s eight districts by the ruling Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP). These instances of violence come after a growth in the intensity of the Left’s political activity.   While the center-right Congress Party is in a freefall and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) is busy in the reconstruction of its state unit, CPI (M) has been consistently engaged in building a strong social base. Through sustained protest campaigns against neoliberal policies, it has been highlighting the basic grievances of Tripura’s population.

The attacks against CPI (M) – in a crucial conjuncture of political struggle – reveal the inherent contradictions of liberal democracy. In §48 of Notebook 1, the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci proposed an important distinction between two modalities of modern-day governance. On the one hand, “the ‘normal’ exercise of hegemony on the now classic terrain of the parliamentary regime is characterized by a combination of force and consent which balance each other so that force does not overwhelm consent but rather appears to be backed by the consent of the majority, expressed by the so-called organs of public opinion”.

On the other hand, there are situations in which “the hegemonic apparatus cracks and the exercise of hegemony becomes ever more difficult. The phenomenon is presented and discussed in various terms and from different points of view. The most common are ‘crisis of the principle of authority’, ‘dissolution of the parliamentary regime’. Naturally, only the central manifestations of the phenomenon on the parliamentary or governmental level are described, and they are explained by the failure of the parliamentary ‘principle,’ of the democratic ‘principle,’ etc., but not the authority ‘principle’…Practically, this crisis manifests itself in…the ever greater instability of the governments”.

The interpenetrative interaction between force and consent corresponds to the texture of the distinction between political society and civil society respectively. In §38 of Notebook 4, Gramsci wrote that “[this] distinction is purely methodological and not organic” because it does not find actual confirmation “in concrete historical life”. As an example of this intertwined relationship, he speaks of “what is called ‘public opinion’” in § 83 of Notebook 7, noting that it “is tightly connected to political hegemony, in other words, it is the point of contact between ‘civil society’ and ‘political society’, between consent and force”.

Since hegemony is the specific linkage between civil society and political society, the moment of consent and the moment of force, civil society – far from being a sphere of freedom beyond the state, as is endlessly maintained by bourgeois commonsense – is an integral element of the hegemonic relations that structure the contemporary state. To establish and preserve the oppressed masses’ subalternity – their lack of historical personhood and political autonomy – the bourgeois state restricts mass activity in civil society to particular levels of passivity.

In §90 of Notebook 3, Gramsci argued: “The historical unification of the ruling classes is in the state and their history is essentially the history of states and of groups of states. This unity has to be concrete, and thus the result of relations between the state and civil society. For the subaltern classes unification does not occur: their history is intertwined with that of ‘civil society’, it is a disaggregated fraction of it”. In other words, the active production and reproduction of subalternity for some social groups is the structural foundation for any bourgeois ruling order, be it a liberal administration or a fascist dictatorship.

A system of political elites and passive citizenry is generated by the exigencies of legitimacy, which require that the dominant and leading class incorporate increasingly broader strata of its society in the national-popular framework – with the process of inclusion occurring in forms that definitively neutralize any threat of a graduated de-subalternization of the lower classes and their consequent transition to hegemonic politics. Thus, while subaltern social groups are present on the terrain of civil society, they occupy insignificant roles and positions, which led Gramsci to remark in §5 of Notebook 25 that “the subaltern classes, by definition, are not unified and cannot unify themselves until they become the ‘state’”.

Left parties are the social organisms that are responsible for the unification and historical subjectification of the subalterns – the process in which subaltern social groups stop being mere objects of contemplation for the discourses of the dominant classes and enact their self-representation through the formation of their own strata of organic intellectuals. This hegemonic project is the synthesis of political society and civil society, dedicated toward ending the unilateral determination of the latter by the former. When both the levels of society are unified in a political strategy, tactics are dialecticly dictated by the structural struggle for state control and the cultural-educational struggle for de-objectification.

The two aspects of the Left’s political strategy are a direct result of the objective mechanisms which determine consciousness – the material interests and articulated identities produced by social structures, arising through the practice and lived experience of subaltern agents. These agents are involved in relations, both with each other and with social structures and practices. The presence of structural determinations – primarily in the form of the restrictions imposed by civil society and political society – means that the Left’s political practices deploy a limited set of instruments upon certain kinds of raw material in a historically specific context against institutional resistance.

Hence, the Left’s hegemonic project is an articulated attempt to transform the existing structures and relations, to combine ethical-ideological goals of civil society with the strategic necessities of political society. Achieving dominance in political society crucially involves the objective elaboration of the independent position of the proletariat. In § 44 of Notebook 1, Gramsci said:

A class is dominant in two ways, namely it is ‘leading’ and ‘dominant’. It leads the allied classes, it dominates the opposing classes. Therefore, a class can (and must) ‘lead’ even before assuming power; when it is in power it becomes dominant, but it also continues to ‘lead’.

There can and there must be a ‘political hegemony’ even before assuming government power, and in order to exercise political leadership or hegemony one must not count solely on the power and material force that is given by government.

In other words, political dominance can only be grasped concretely in terms of the unity between state power (a relation of power, the domination of one social class over another), and the state apparatus (the institutional machinery in which the relation of state power is crystallized). The logic of the aggregation and disaggregation of class alliances – with the potential to determine the predominance of one form or the other in the course of the revolutionary transformation – should be directed by this ultimate objective; i.e., political leadership of the revolutionary movement of the people as a whole.

Considering the dialectic between force and consent, political society and civil society, it becomes clear that the CPI (M) in Tripura is engaged in a popular-democratic struggle aimed at the construction of the broad-based hegemony of progressive forces. The orientations of this dynamic are defined by a commitment to proletarian self-emancipation – the operation in which the antithesis of subalternity is forged and sustained not through a purely pedagogical and abstract assertion of working class independence but through political struggle embedded in determinate organizational forms. These movements are undergirded by the politically concrete formulations of relations of classes as constitutive components of a new historical bloc, as opposed to their perception as mere structural connections between sociological objects. How these developments will play out depends on the future amalgamation of forces in complex, uneven and contradictory conjunctures.

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Modern Monetary Theory and Anti-capitalist Strategies

The pandemic-induced disruption of the global economy of neoliberal capitalism has strengthened the appeal of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). The fundamental idea of this policy prescription is that state spending, a national budget deficit, can be used to combat recession. Raising overall demand in a given country will facilitate a recovery insofar as there is the disposable productive capacity (unemployed workers, stocks of raw materials, machines working below capacity). These unused resources are mobilized by the additional purchasing power created by the budget deficit.

While governments generally fund their deficit spending by selling interest-bearing bonds and owing their debts to bondholders, MMT suggest that the central bank buy up these bonds with money that it has the power to create. In this way, the central bank becomes the one to whom the government owes money. Since no central bank has any need to insist on a government ever paying off a debt created with money it simply printed, the government debt to the central bank is of no real significance. Central bank money creation does not actually involve “printing money”; it involves an expansion of the figures in the electronically-recorded central bank balance sheet, and a corresponding growth in the bank account balances of the government.

A number of criticisms can be made of MMT. First, it is inapplicable to the poorer countries. MMT does not convincingly address the constraints upon fiscal deficit imposed by the financial markets, current account imbalances and exchange rates, thus making it mostly inapplicable in the context of a financially globalized, open economy. As Neville Spencer writes: “Printing money in countries with less favored currencies risks those currencies being dumped in preference to what are seen as more reliable currencies. This can potentially put the local currency into a hyperinflationary spiral. There are also governments that don’t have their own currency, such as members of the Eurozone. For them, MMT simply isn’t an option.”

Monetarily non-sovereign countries have open capital markets which are subject to the inflows and outflows of globally mobile “hot money” — financial capital that travels freely and quickly around the world looking to earn the best rate of return or to exploit interest rate differentials. Surges in hot money are associated with increased liabilities on the balance sheets of local borrowers, instability in exchange rates, and difficulties managing liquidity conditions. Such inflows can often lead to overvalued exchange rates, current account deficits, and rapid capital outflows, leaving local financial institutions and businesses with increasing debts that are hard to service and repay.

Within the confines of capitalism, a strong assertion of monetary independence by poorer countries would alarm the financial oligarchy, leading to an economic crisis. Capitalists would either move their money out of the country or carry out a strike of capital; the currency would become worthless, leading to rampant inflation – heavily impacting the real wages of workers. To bring an end to this turmoil, the government would be forced to hike up interest rates in order to attract investors, leading to a strong restriction on investments of capital in the productive economy. Now, most of the money the state would collect through the bonds would be used to repay the interest rather than to fund social welfare programs or public infrastructure. While proving to be catastrophic for the working class, this profit scheme would enrich bankers.

Even in the limited context of the US, which enjoys a great amount of latitude to pursue fiscally expansionary policies, thanks to the special status enjoyed by the dollar (“as good as gold”), there are institutional constraints on monetization of fiscal deficits imposed through the autonomy granted to the Federal Reserve vis-à-vis the Treasury. Second, while a sovereign state can generate simple fiat money in the domestic economy, this power is structurally circumscribed by the realities of production and exchange. While the state can create money, it cannot guarantee that this money has any value. Without a productive economy behind it, money is meaningless. Money, as the universal equivalent of the values of the commodities, is the counter-value of quantities of socially necessary labour.

This means that real value is created in production, as a result of the application of labour-power. As Fred Paterson — a popular Australian communist — succinctly put it:

Some people think that all you have to do to solve the economic and money problem is to print money and keep on printing it, and everything will be satisfactory. I, for one, as a member of the Communist Party, suggest that is absurd…Everyone knows that no matter how much money you issue by the printing press you could not produce an extra gun or an extra tank, or an extra plane, or produce an extra bushel of wheat or maize, unless you have available resources of manpower and materials…On the basis of production we get the amount of goods and services at our disposal. Once we have the goods and services there is the question of the creation and issue of money: therefore, that is a secondary matter.

The money that a state creates, therefore, will only be of any worth in so far as it reflects the value that is in circulation in the economy, in the form of the production and exchange of commodities. Where this is not the case, destabilizing inflation will set in. In other words, money-financed deficit spending is at best a temporary free lunch. Once the economy reaches full employment, taxes become necessary to restrain aggregate demand and prevent inflation. Even MMT proponents acknowledge this. In the words of Stephanie Kelton: “Can we just print our way to prosperity? Absolutely not! MMT is not a free lunch. There are very real limits, and failing to identify – and respect – those limits could bring great harm. MMT is about distinguishing the real limits from the self-imposed constraints that we have the power to change.”

Insofar government programs ultimately have to be paid for via taxes, an appropriate form of class politics needs to be developed for taxation. Tax outcomes are ultimately shaped by class conflict and depend on power relations, which in turn are determined by the economic mechanics of capitalism. Instead of paying adequate attention to these issues, prominent representatives of MMT spend their time convincing the rich that they don’t need to pay taxes. In 2019, Kelton wrote:

My wealthy friend doesn’t want to pay for your child care. He doesn’t want to help pay off your student loans. And he sure as heck doesn’t want to shell out the big bucks for a multi-trillion-dollar Green New Deal…consider what happens if we simply invest in programs to benefit the non-rich…without treating the super-rich as our piggy bank.

Kelton’s pro-rich proclivity raises the following question: who must give up portions of their incomes so that we can meet collective needs? If income is expropriated from the working masses of taxpayers, the efficacy of deficit-financed government spending would decline as the propensity to consume is much higher for those with lower incomes. To avoid the negative effects of a pattern of distribution skewed toward top earners, the government can tax companies. Capitalists will primarily react to it by postponing investment. Furthermore, disposable wages can drop even if the government taxes firms, since firms can offload taxes onto prices, thus negatively affecting real wages. Hence, it is the state’s dependence on the private sector which erodes its economic power. As Costas Lapavistas and Nicolas Aguilla argue:

[T]he state does not produce output and value (nationalised industries aside) and merely claims those of others. It is true…that the state can boost aggregate demand through its own expenditures and thus support, and even expand, the overall production of output and value. Yet, the creation of output and value also follows its own internal logic summed up by the profits of private producers, which depend on far more than aggregate demand…capitalism is about accumulation through the extraction of surplus-value in production. The state can protect and support accumulation by boosting aggregate demand but cannot direct accumulation without radical supply reforms.

If the government increases the workers’ wages to counteract price increases, a cost-push inflationary spiral would be initiated, with money wages and prices chasing one another; this would inevitably happen because any increase in the “relative wage” – defined by Rosa Luxemburg as “the share that the worker’s wage makes up out of the total product of his labor” – cuts into the capitalist’s share of profits. If deficit-driven inflation is to be decelerated through the taxation of the bourgeoisie, then pricing of products cannot be left to capitalist enterprises (for that would cause a wage-price spiral). There must then be state intervention in the form of an incomes and prices policy. The state in such an economy must then not only carry out demand management; it must also engage in distribution management.

As is evident, the maintenance of monetary financing and an economy at near-full employment requires increasing intervention by the state which undermines the social legitimacy of the capitalist system and which therefore is impossible to sustain within the barriers of the capitalist system. When the unutilized capacity has been eliminated, governments wanting to sustain a people-centered economy have no other choice than to resolve such problems through radical measures, such as prices and incomes policies, nationalizations, workers’ management of factories etc. As Michal Kalecki said, if capitalism cannot maintain full employment, “it will show itself as an outmoded system which must be scrapped”.

It is important to note that the employment policies envisioned by MMT — employer of last resort (ELR) — are not up to the mark. According to the ELR scheme, the government should “buy up” any excess stock of workers by offering employment to “surplus” labour during downturns, so that the government effectively acts as an employer of last resort. Government-employed “stocks” of workers are then released to the private sector on demand, whenever the economy picks up. The buffer stock employment wage must be less that the private sector employment wage in order to avoid incentivizing buffer stock employment and thus effectively converting the public sector into an employer of first resort.

Through the decoupling of the hiring process from productivity and skill, ELR creates a population that is distinct from both public and private sector workers. Whereas public and private sector workers face a competitive job market and need to match their skills to a relevant job, ELR workers get hired on-the-spot to do work that is by its nature temporary and low-skill. The poor nature of these jobs means that the ELR population is ready and waiting to be hired by capitalists. In this way, a “reserve army of the employed” is created, which is made up of workers who, occupying a position in the working class separate from those who are employed in the private and public sector, constitute a threat to the traditionally employed.

As David Sligar states, “compared to the regular unemployed, participants in a job guarantee are more likely to be the sort of compliant job-ready eager beavers that are attractive to employers. Thus they pose a greater threat to those in employment than the unemployed when wage bargaining is underway.” In addition, the job guarantee pay rate is fixed – participants have no right to collectively bargain in the manner of conventional employees – so its effect on labour markets is same as an unemployment benefit. Summarizing these contradictions, Hugh Sturgess writes of an “impossible quadrilateral” which “expects the JG [job guarantee] to eliminate involuntary unemployment through jobs that are accessible to all regardless of skill, but are of social value, yet not currently done by the private or public sectors, and can be started and stopped at any time”.

To conclude, MMT remains hesitant to take the decision-making on investment and jobs out of the hands of the capitalist sector. As long as the bulk of investment and employment remains under the control of capitalism, government expenditure can’t be raised permanently since deficit-financed spending ultimately meets its limits in the contradictions at work in the sphere of private production. In the long run, the concentrated dominance of big business and private monopolies needs to be broken down if the effects of monetary financing are to be sustainably continued even after the exhaustion of unused resources. In short, MMT provides an anti-neoliberal opening but does not reach the socialist conclusion that a radical reconstitution of the system is not only desirable but necessary. As Sam Gindin says:

At bottom, how societies determine the allocation of their labour and resources – who is in charge, what the priorities are, who gets what – rests on considerations of social power and corresponding values/priorities. Transforming how this is done is conditional on developing and organizing popular support for challenging the private power of banks and corporations over our lives and with this, accepting the risks this entails. Controlling the money presses is certainly an element in this, but hardly the core challenge.

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The Crisis in Tunisia

On July 25, 2021, Tunisian President Kais Saied dismissed Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi, froze the parliament, suspended the legal immunity of parliament members and took control of the general prosecutor’s office. He warned against any armed response to his actions: “Whoever shoots a bullet, the armed forces will respond with bullets.” In the hours after Saied’s announcement, huge crowds gathered in his support in Tunis and other cities, while the military blocked off the parliament and state television station.

The popularity of Saied’s decisions stems from the legitimate anger of Tunisians against their country’s parliament, which has become very unpopular. When the president sacked the health minister after a botched handling of vaccine walk-in centres and ordered the army to take control of the pandemic response, popular protests took place against the government, culminating in the present-day power shifts. These conjunctural changes are embedded in a structural framework which has permanently characterized Tunisia after 2011.

Neoliberalism

On December 17, 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi – a Tunisian street vendor – set himself on fire following yet another instance of harassment and humiliation at the hands of local police and municipal officials.  Within hours of his self-immolation, protests began erupting across the town, rapidly gathering pace and spreading outwards to other urban centres. Bouazizi’s death was long and agonizing; when he finally died on January 4, 2011, the conflagration sparked by his act roared into the national capital. In a matter of days, dictator Ben Ali was forced into exile.

Tunisia’s people did not only oppose the political authoritarianism of the Ali administration, but also the neoliberal policies under his rule which created massive inequality, unemployment and widespread misery. The ruling elites completely ignored the latter dimension, choosing to impose further neoliberalism in the aftermath of the revolution. Tunisia’s current ruling party, the Islamist Ennahda, garnered votes as it had been outlawed under the Ali regime. Many people perceived it as revolutionary.

However, governments led by Ennahda implemented free market reforms in return for loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Fuel subsidy cuts, price rises and the dismantlement of public sector hiring synchronized with the enrichment of the bourgeoisie. Now, 10 years after the revolution, the rate of unemployment in Tunisia is nearly 18%. Max Ajl, Bassam Haddad, and Zeinab Abul-Magd note:

The state has absorbed the political effects of mass immiseration, distributing subsidies to popular classes to absorb social unease. Its primary role has been to contain the discontent by the carrot of subsidies and the stick of state violence while serving as a mechanism for increasing integration of Tunisia into the international division of labor: by increasing subjugation to the global law of value through currency devaluation, deepening trade agreements with the EU [European Union], and opening agriculture for foreign investment…Unrest has intensified. The government has become almost entirely a mechanism for ever-continuing accumulation.

Caesarism

Tunisian society – like any other society – is a totality structured in dominance. Among the various structural instances, one instance will have the dominant role: contradictions at other levels will find themselves displaced to this instance (thereby averting a revolutionary rupture) or many contradictions may become condensed in this instance (producing the possibility of a revolutionary rupture). The dominant instance will vary according to the social formation, but in all cases its role is determined – in the last instance – by the economy. In other words, the economy often exercises its effects indirectly by determining the specific efficacy of other instances.

Saied’s victory in the October 2019 presidential election displaced the economic limits of Tunisia’s post-revolutionary system to the level of politics. Disillusioned with the dysfunctional rules of status quo, Tunisians elected someone who sought to portray himself as an anti-politician. Running as an independent and nicknamed “Robocop” for his stern, monotonous character, Saied promised to crack down on corruption among the political class. His anti-corruption discourse steadily morphed into a wide-ranging narrative of anti-systemic populism; a desire for greater power soon made itself felt.

In April 2021, Saied declared, “The president is the supreme commander of the military and civilian armed forces. Let this matter be clear to all Tunisians”. A month later, Middle East Eye revealed the existence of a secret document, in which the president’s advisers invited him to carry out a “constitutional coup”. Thus, from the beginning, Saied’s presidency had the character of what Antonio Gramsci called “Caesarism” – a phenomenon in which an individual breaks the stasis in a socio-economic system by operating as an equilibrating factor between classes, demagogically representing the interests of the subaltern masses. Gramsci elaborates:

[T]he content is the crisis of the ruling class’s hegemony, which occurs either because the ruling class has failed in some major political undertaking for which it has requested, or forcibly extracted, the consent of the broad masses (war, for example), or because huge masses (especially of peasants and petit-bourgeois intellectuals) have passed suddenly from a state of political passivity to a certain activity, and put forward demands which taken together, albeit not organically formulated, add up to a revolution…The traditional ruling class, which has numerous trained cadres, changes men and programmes and, with greater speed than is achieved by the subordinate classes, reabsorbs the control that was slipping from its grasp. Perhaps it may make sacrifices, and expose itself to an uncertain future by demagogic promises; but it retains power, reinforces it for the time being, and uses it to crush its adversary and disperse his leading cadres, who cannot be very numerous or highly trained … When the crisis does not find this organic solution, but that of the charismatic leader, it means that a static equilibrium exists (whose factors may be disparate, but in which the decisive one is the immaturity of the progressive forces); it means that no group, neither the conservatives nor the progressives, has the strength for victory, and that even the conservative group needs a master.

In Tunisia, the hegemonic capacities of the post-2011 historical bloc gradually weakened as a neoliberal orientation came to be eagerly embraced by both Islamist and secularist political forces. The sporadic and inorganic nature of popular movements proved incapable in radically superseding this moribund conjuncture. Hence, Tunisians were gifted with Saied, who overcame the impasse by unleashing the Caesarist logic of delegation to a strongman. His ideological project has ended up with the current events, wherein Tunisians have been demobilized through a reconfiguration of the political arena. What should be the attitude of progressive sectors toward these transformations?

The leftist Workers’ Party of Tunisia (PCT) released a statement on July 26, 2021, condemning Saied’s moves and calling them a violation of the constitution. While acknowledging that the government has led the country into a deep economic crisis, PCT stated that Saied’s actions are not a solution to the problems facing the people as they threaten the country’s young democracy and have “launched a path towards re-establishing the system of absolute autocracy again.” The party has asserted that the way out of the crisis is “the work of the Tunisian people to establish a popular democracy based on the civil state, the power in the hands of the people, with sovereignty over the country’s capacities, resources and independent political decisions, and social justice and equality among all men and women.”

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The Contemporary Importance of National Liberation

In today’s world, the principal contradiction is between imperialism and humanity. Giant multinational corporations are fleecing the globe for their own interests, forming international networks of monopoly capital through the geographic expansion of corporate power. This has involved transferring parts of production, commercial, and financial service to peripheral countries in search of cheap labor. Super-profits are being reaped through a production system based on the enormous wage differentials that persist between the Global North and the Global South. If these rules of exploitation are broken by any country, imperialist powers use a discourse of humanitarianism to justify: military buildups and threats of war; the carrying out of actual military interventions; economic sanctions and blockades; political interference in the elections of other countries; and the launching of “color revolutions”.

Taking into account the pervasiveness of imperialist power arrangements, national liberation in the Third World continues to be an indispensable process. As Anouar Abdel-Malek writes in Nation and Revolution: Volume 2 of Social Dialectics:

The central problem in social dialectics is the problem of the combination of scope, intensity and continuity, that is, the problem of finding the largest possible front of allied forces aiming at the most intensive possible action rallied around the issues most capable of achieving maximal intensity of action. And such is, specifically, the privileged role of national movements, throughout the various phases of their unfolding. Here, and here alone, do we witness the greatest possible concentration of different social groups, classes, forces, trends, united broadly to achieve the fundamental tasks of liberation and socio-economic transformation.

In contrast to the reactionary nationalism of the developed countries – which involves xenophobia and expansionist perspectives – national liberation is the struggle against dependency which has as its objective, beyond the clearing of the national territory, the independence and sovereignty of the state and the comprehensive eradication of the deeply entrenched social force of imperialism. In other words, national liberation is the reconquest of the power of decision in all domains of national life, a process of renaissance undertaken on the basis of fundamentally national demands, and a struggle for sovereignty. These ideas are crystallized in the concentrated concept of “self-reliance”. Abdel-Malek writes:

Self-reliance is…to be seen as the assertion of national independence within the interdependence of nations, regions and areas, with the emphasis always on the national position of the problem, and not vice versa.

The stress on the national element was similarly formulated by Antonio Gramsci in the following way:

The international situation should be considered in its national aspect…the line of development is towards internationalism, but the point of departure is ‘national’.

Thus, socialist thought must root itself in the concrete context in which it is situated; i.e., it should develop on the basis of a national position, not from any a priori cosmopolitan vision under the mask of internationalism. When the global Left confronts diverse national soils, it is bound to face the deep structures of national formations, the historical specificity of each society.

Hence, leftists need to respect the peculiarity which the revolutionary creativity of the peoples of the former colonies and semi-colonies tends to introduce into national liberation movements because of the specific conditions in the countries themselves and also in consequence of the specific features of the present-day international situation. The national movements’ struggle for independence, national liberation and social revolutions asserts itself as a struggle for the recovery of national identity, sovereignty and socio-economic clout against imperialist hegemony. It thus follows that national movements are bound to exhibit a potent density of explicit specificity-content – precisely in as much as this specificity lies at the very heart of their liberation struggles and revolutions. In effect, national liberation arrives at the proclamation of socialist goals not through the class-based negation of capitalism, but through anti-imperialist nationalism.

In this respect, they recapitulate to a definite extent the social logic of the revolutionary process. If national unity is now placed “above” class struggle, the “nation” and “national unity” at issue is as a rule understood in a new way – as excluding the “forces of reaction” (usually feudal landlords and the big bourgeoisie). If the nationalism puts national interest above all else, the class factor is already represented in this interest (in a specific, nationalist way, of course). The use of nationalism as a key political grammar for anti-systemic struggles is necessary because – in the words of Max Ajl:

The core uses its own states’ mechanisms to reshape, if not shatter, state mechanisms in the periphery to protect and expand the gap between such zones, either turning the state against the nation or ripping the state from the nation.

It would be odd to suggest that national and nationalist logics for organizing struggles for human emancipation and structures for human social reproduction and flourishing should be abandoned as imperialism seeks precisely that abandonment through the political shattering of states by the dismantling of institutions and dissolution of ideas of state and nation.

The core component of national liberation movements – the establishment of national productive forces under sovereign and national control – has proven to be a strong counter-balance to the influence of imperialism. As Ajl elaborates:

[National liberation was a successful attempt to] break the patterns of primitive accumulation, secured by colonial violence and manifest in ongoing colonial drain and unequal exchange, through which the core countries continued to extract wealth from the periphery. National liberation’s limited achievements were still achievements, something missed in chatter eager to assimilate one nationalism to the next, one set of capitalist contradictions to the next, and one passel of elites to their successors…Gains for human dignity occurred because decolonization was seldom just about hoisting a flag over an alabaster statehouse….decolonization…put a stop to colonial income deflation… Colonial famines ceased…Investment in enhancing agricultural productivity by national governments was one of the harvests of decolonization, and it arrested and reversed secular declines in food-grain availability, and stopped deindustrialization… Public health networks spread and per capita food-grain absorption gradually increased…This occurred by putting the “process of development of the productive forces under the control of petty bourgeois elements that tended to the basic needs of the formerly colonized population.

The Third World’s national elaboration of a general line – directly linked to the transformation of actual societies in the real world of our times – has involved the institution of repressive measures. Criticized by many as authoritarian, these actions are necessary to protect the gains made under their chosen development model; to protect against regime change operations being organized, sponsored, armed and financed by an imperialist world that will stop at nothing to dismantle sovereign nations and to assert hegemony. Abdel-Malek notes:

Autocratic power…which so often seems to be necessary during the first phase of nationalitarian construction…revolts those who restrict themselves to seeing it in itself, as a structure so to speak, instead of locating it within the framework of historical evolution – instead of conceiving liberty within the framework of necessity.

Moreover, the maintenance of a strong state means actively and substantively defending national sovereignty as the carapace within which to resolve internal contradictions.

The indispensability of national liberation processes in the current conjuncture can’t be emphasized enough. Intensified neo-colonial strangulation of the Global South necessitates the opening of socialist, anti-imperialist fronts which can effectively stanch the flows of value from the periphery and semi-periphery to the core and the uneven accumulation such flows forge and reinforce. In November 1919, after the establishment of the world’s first workers’ and peasants’ state, Vladimir Lenin said:

The socialist revolution will not be solely, or chiefly, a struggle of the revolutionary proletarians in each country against their bourgeoisie – no, it will be a struggle of all the imperialist-oppressed colonies and countries, of all dependent countries, against international imperialism.

This clear statement serves as a forceful clarion call for the mobilization of the Third World people in a national liberation struggle against imperialism and capitalism.

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The Long Crusades of Western Imperialism

In late April 2021, US President Joe Biden announced  a withdrawal from Afghanistan. In other words, the US has been trounced in Afghanistan by its very own jihadist Frankenstein, the Taliban. The defeat of USA is covered with the ugly debris of history. The dirty war on Afghanistan was part of a disastrous process of occupying and controlling large swathes of the world. On September 16, 2001, President George W. Bush vowed to “rid the world of evil-doers,” then cautioned: “This crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take a while.” The word “crusade” comes from the Latin for the cross, crux, and implies the warlike march of Christianity against the infidel, recalling one of the most shameful blots on the medieval maps of Western imperialism. The new Crusade by the American empire was waged in defense of a different professed faith, not Christianity but rather liberal democracy. But this belief also concealed less noble designs.

Like the original Crusaders, the US and its European partners have been concerned with geopolitical advantage in a strategically important area of the world. For the Crusaders, Jerusalem was an important site of pilgrimage but also a vital trade route. Today’s Crusaders have been more concerned about energy sources, whether the oil of Iraq or the natural gas pipelines that pass through Central Asia. To realize these more mundane goals, the West has made certain tactical alliances with actors in the Muslim world – the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, Sunni fighters in Iraq, and the illiberal governments of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Yemen. Hard-headed strategies aimed at gaining imperialist dominance translated into the infliction of calculated barbarity upon the people of Muslim majority countries. Slowly and steadily, the Crusade against terrorism spawned the monstrous machine of Islamophobia as the warmongers of the West deployed racist narratives and tropes against Muslims. This ideological idiom of anti-Muslim hatred is historically rooted in the Crusades of the late 11th and 14th centuries.

Emergence of Islam

Islam emerged in the 7th century in the Hijaz region of Arabia, which includes the cities of Mecca and Medina. The area was a major hub for trade activity, and the Arabs who lived there were in constant contact with their Christian Byzantine and Persian Sassanid neighbors. These economic and cultural linkages formed the context in which Muhammad, a trader by profession, began to devote time to spiritual matters. Muhammad worked for his wife, whose caravans traded with Syria. It is believed that in the year 610, while Muhammad was in the hills near Mecca, the angel Gabriel appeared to him to deliver a message from God. Over the course of the next two decades (610-32 CE), Muhammad had several such revelations, and on that basis he propagated a new religion called Islam. In the beginning there were very few converts to Islam. The people of Mecca greeted Muhammad with hostility. This was partly due to the welfarist message he preached – God expects people to share their wealth with those needier than them.

In 622, Muhammad and his followers left Mecca to travel to Medina, a journey referred to as the Hijra. Here, Muhammad became a spiritual and a political leader, creating a strong and growing community of believers; by the time of his death in 632, Islam had spread beyond the Hijaz and into other parts of Arabia. Within twenty years of Muhammad’s death in 632, his followers had laid the foundations of the first Islamic empire in the Fertile Crescent. Arab armies not only defeated the Sassanid dynasty (which had ruled Persia and the neighboring regions for centuries) but also took over parts of the Byzantine Empire’s territories. These victories were no doubt possible only because the Persian and Byzantine Empires had been engaged for almost a 100 years in a war that had enfeebled both sides, alienated their populations and opened a possibility of new conquests. Syria and Egypt were part of the Byzantine Empire; Iraq was ruled by Sassanid Persia. All three now fell to the force and ardor of a unified tribal force.

Impressed by these successes, entire tribes adopted the new religion. Mosques began to appear in the desolate deserts, and the army was augmented. Islam’s swift triumphs were seen as a sign that Allah was both omnipotent and on the side of the Believers. The expansion of Islam continued under the Umayyad dynasty (661–750 CE) into North Africa, and then into Europe in the early eighth century. Their conquests began in Spain, continued through the entire Iberian Peninsula (Portugal, and parts of southern France), and reached into Italy. Numerical strength and military strategy only partly accounted for these victories. The ability of the Muslim generals to maneuver their camel cavalry and combine it with an effective guerrilla-style infantry confused an enemy used to small-scale nomadic raids. However, much more important was the active sympathy which a significant minority of the local people demonstrated for the Muslims. A majority remained passive, waiting to see which side would triumph, but they were no longer prepared to fight for or help the old empires.

As the rest of Europe endured a period of cultural stagnation known as the Dark Ages, al-Andalus – as the Iberian Peninsula came to be known under Muslim rule – saw the growth and development of human knowledge. The works of various great societies, from the Greeks to the Persians, were translated into Arabic in the many libraries created by Muslim rulers (not only in al-Andalus but also in Baghdad under the Abbasid dynasty). One great site of learning was Córdoba in Spain. Here, as elsewhere, tremendous advances were made in the fields of philosophy, medicine, astronomy, architecture, and even urban development. While Europe was socially paralyzed, the citizens of Córdoba enjoyed streetlights and running water. Europe finally began the process of moving out of the Dark Ages in the early 12th century, and intellectuals visited the diverse libraries of the Muslim empires to regain lost knowledge. This period saw the retranslation of various works from Arabic back into European languages. Through this process, European intellectuals came to absorb the profound contributions made by Eastern thinkers.

Translated Arabic writings on medicine, mathematics, astronomy and other sciences were for centuries used as textbooks in medieval Europe, while the writings of Muslim philosophers like Ibn Sina (980-1037, known in the West as Avicenna) and Ibn Rushd (1126-98, known as Averroes), and Jewish philosophers who wrote mainly in Arabic like Maimonides (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, 1135-1204), were eagerly read and discussed and influenced several generations of medieval Christian philosophers and theologians. The period of European intellectual growth in the 11th century was accompanied by growth in commerce and trade. Markets and towns began to spring up. At this point, Muslims were one of the major obstacles to European expansion; the pagan raiders (such as the Normans and Magyars) that had relentlessly invaded Christian Europe in the 9th and 10th centuries had been converted and assimilated. The only enemy that remained was the Muslims.

Christian Offensives

Islam became a convenient “other” to mobilize support for the territorial ambitions of different rulers. In Spain, Christian rulers in the north began a war to retake the Iberian Peninsula from the “Muslim enemy” in what came to be known as the Reconquista (reconquest). In the East, the Christian Byzantine Empire (or Eastern Rome) suffered a series of defeats at the hands of the Muslim Seljuq Turks. The emperor wrote to Pope Urban II to seek Europe’s help against the Turks. His call was heeded. On November 27, 1095, Urban launched a holy war (known as the Crusades) and called upon all Christians in Europe to unite and fight against the “enemies of God.” This charge wasn’t simply about religion. For the Pope, the call to the defense of the faith and Jerusalem provided an ideal opportunity to cement the papal authority’s role in legitimating temporal rulers, and to reunite the Eastern (Greek) and Western (Latin) churches. Religion became the screen behind which social and economic conflicts were played out.

European rulers took up the clarion call of the Holy War for multiple reasons. Christian rulers, knights, and merchants were driven by the political, military, and economic advantages that would result from the establishment of a kingdom in the Middle East. Moreover, Europe consisted of a number of rival feudal regimes that constantly fought each other. The Crusades served as a means to reduce this intra-European conflict and to deflect attention onto an external enemy. Using religion to solidify identity and loyalty, the papacy sought to create a united Christian Europe over which it could hold spiritual authority. Those who responded to Urban’s declaration and joined the Crusader armies, however, were motivated by everything – from religious zeal to the rewards of plunder. A great feudal army entered Syria in 1097, captured Antioch in 1098, and then entered Jerusalem. In 1099, after a 40-day siege, the Crusaders took Jerusalem. The scale of the massacre traumatized the entire region.

The killing lasted two whole days at the end of which most of the Muslim population – men, women and children – had been killed. The Jews had fought side by side with the Muslims to defend the city but the entry of the Crusaders created a sense of panic. In remembrance of past ritual, the elders instructed the entire Jewish population to gather in the synagogue and in its surrounds to offer a collective prayer. The Crusaders surrounded the perimeter of the synagogue, set fire to the building and made sure that every single Jew was burnt to death. To maintain their dominance, the Crusaders needed to consolidate their military capabilities. This was accomplished through intensified accumulation. The result was: a) extreme exploitation of the Arab peasantry; and b) routine plundering of trade-caravans. Crusaders’ successes were primarily a result of internecine warfare within the Arab world. Sectarian schisms, notably a 30-year war between the Sunni and Shia factions, had weakened the Islamic camp.

Key rulers, politicians and military leaders on both sides had died in the years immediately preceding the First Crusade. “This year,” the historian Ibn Taghribirdi wrote in 1094, “is called the year of the death of caliphs and commanders.” The deaths sparked off wars of succession in both Sunni and Shia sects, further debilitating the Arab world. These sectarian divisions were exacerbated by the political disunity of the Islamic world. At first, the vast area the Arabs had conquered remained a single geopolitical entity under the Umayyad caliphs of Damascus. But the geography of the new Arab world contained several natural economic units in which separate ruling classes with interests of their own quickly developed. Distance limited the effectiveness of Umayyad rule. Nor was this the only problem. The Umayyads represented the Arab warrior aristocracy who had carried out the initial Islamic conquests and had settled in the ancient cities of Syria.

Their rule was increasingly resented by other sections of the population. The result was a revolution led by Abbasids – the cosmopolitan Persian faction within Islam. Rebels from Iran led by a descendant of the Prophet raised an army, overthrew the Umayyad caliphate, established a new dynasty, and laid down a wider and more secure base for continued Arab rule. However, the victory of the Abbasids disrupted the political cohesion of the Islamic world. During the 9th and 10th centuries, three centers of power emerged: the Abbasid caliph in Baghdad, the Fatimid caliph in Cairo (belonging to the Shia tradition, which claimed descent from the fourth caliph, Ali, and his wife Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet) and the Umayyad caliph in Cordoba, established by the last remaining prince of the Umayyads, Abdel Rahman, who managed to escape to al-Andalus. Conflicts between and within these entities overstrained state power, drained national treasuries, and further weakened the rulers. During the 11th century the Abbasid caliphate effectively collapsed. The caliph’s Seljuk Turkish mercenaries seized power for themselves.

Islamic Resistance: Resurgence and Decline

As the Crusaders incurred the anger of large swathes of Muslim population, the Islamic states began regrouping. Northern Syria and Northern Iraq were united in 1128. Edessa was recaptured and added to the growing Islamic state in 1144. The Second Crusade of 1146-1148, organized in response to the Islamic resurgence, was an utter failure. Damascus and Southern Syria were added to the new state, and the Crusader Principality of Antioch shrank to a small coastal enclave. In 1183, Egypt was merged with the new Syrian super-state. The fusion of Egypt and Syria under the leadership of Saladin, a Kurdish warrior, greatly invigorated Muslim resistance. Saladin answered the Crusade with a call for popular jihad. On July 4, 1187, at the Battle of Hattin, Saladin, at the head of 30,000 men, destroyed the entire army of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. The recapture of the holy city followed soon after. There was nothing to compare with the wholesale massacres at Antioch and Jerusalem during the First Crusade.

Of the prisoners taken at Hattin, only one was executed (by Saladin himself), along with the Templar and Hospitaller knights, barbaric warriors who had waged a war of bigotry and genocide. Despite further expeditions, the Crusaders never recovered. Though it took a century to complete the process, their castles were reduced one by one, their territory gradually stripped away. Saladin’s victories had temporarily halted the Crusades, but the internal structures of the caliphate were permanently damaged, and new invaders were on the way. A Mongol army from Central Asia led by Hulagu Khan laid siege to Baghdad in 1258, calling on the caliph to surrender and promising that if he did so, the city would be spared. The caliph refused. The Mongol armies carried out their threat, laid waste to the city and executed the last Abbasid caliph. An entire culture perished as libraries were put to the torch.

The inglorious exist of the caliphate segued into the destruction of the Iberian Peninsula. The Christian kingdoms in the north of Spain had already been engaged in a tug-of-war with the southern Moorish states; the religious frenzy of the First Crusade turned this belligerent peace into a full-blown Crusade. In 1085, the city of Toledo in central Spain was taken by the Catholic kings, and by 1250 the Moorish empire was reduced to the emirate of Granada on the coastal strip in the south of Spain. In 1492, Ferdinand and Isabella, the Catholic monarchs of Spain, took control of Granada, thus completing the ethnic cleansing of Muslims and Jews from the Iberian Peninsula. It is important to note that during the period of Muslim rule over the Iberian Peninsula, Christians and Jews were tolerated as “people of the book” and were allowed to practice their religion if they paid a fee.

In the 14th and 15th centuries, as Europe began to come out of the Middle Ages and into the modern era, its relationship with Islam changed. There was a slow abatement in the discursive construction of Islam as an acute threat to the existence of the West. This shift was the result of a number of processes. First, the incomplete project of a united Christian Europe started to break down around this time due to the rise of nationalism. The emergence of proto-nationalist currents internally fragmented Europe and prevented any attempts aimed at forging a common front against Islam. Second, the renaissance of European culture further weakened the authority of the Church. The key source of anti-Muslim religious hatred, the Church, was no longer able to drum up holy wars; the Crusades came to an end. Third, the Mongols had now entered the picture and posed a threat to Europe. This recognition of lands beyond Europe, and of threats beyond the Muslims, put an end to the Manichean division of the world into Christianity and Islam.

The Crusader mentality continued in the 21st century as US Presidents used interventionist tactics in pursuit of the American empire’s economic interests. While Bush considered himself a noble Crusader, Osama bin Laden compared himself to Saladin. As Karl Marx noted, “all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice…the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.” The dualistic schema of Crusader-Saladin – and the Islamophobia it promotes – will not end soon. America’s morbid fixation with a perpetual 11th-century battle of “us” against “them” is a hideous way of motivating soldiers, ennobling the otherwise bloodthirsty and fattening the pockets of the rich. To put it in other words, the binarizing discourses of the contemporary world are materially engraved in imperial structures; we are witnessing a clash of civilizations not on the ground but only in the violent jihadist visions of warriors in the East and neo-colonial West. As long as the US believes that it has the absolute right to destroy and imperialistically intervene in the affairs of any country, this cycle of hatred and prejudice will go on in an excruciating and endless manner.

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USA’s Sordid Role in Afghanistan

The situation in Afghanistan remains bleak. In late April 2021, US President Joe Biden announced  an apparent withdrawal from the Central Asian country. However, the facts on the ground indicate that America’s longest war has merely been downsized. 16,000 military contractors and more than 1,000 US troops will stay in Afghanistan; aerial bombardments, drone strikes and Special Forces missions will continue.

Meanwhile, Taliban has been intensifying its attacks on provincial capitals, districts, bases and checkpoints across the nation. In the period of June 4-10, 2021, 263 Afghan security forces and 56 civilians were killed by the Taliban; at least 11 districts were captured by the group. The Pentagon is already considering seeking authorization to carry out airstrikes to support Afghan security forces if Kabul or another major city is in danger of falling to the Taliban.

Amid all the bloodshed and chaos, a central question arises: how did Afghans get caught between two exceedingly lethal military forces – one that uses suicide bombers and the other employing pilotless, heavily-armed drones? Responses to this issue are fraught with historical amnesia. People generally ignore the fundamental role of the American empire in giving rise to the current reality in Afghanistan.

Communist Revolt

In 1964, King Zahir Shah attempted to contain growing resistance against his monarchical rule with a constitution, initiating a process called “New Democracy.” This gave rise to three different political actors: (1) the communists, organized in the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), which split into two factions in 1967, Khalq (masses) and Parcham (flag); (2) the Islamists, with Burhanuddin Rabbani’s Jamiat-i-Islami becoming the main organization from 1973; (3) constitutional reformers (such as Muhammad Daoud, cousin of Zahir Shah, whose coup of July 1973 abolished the monarchy).

Daoud’s repression of theocratic elements pushed them into exile where they collaborated with the Pakistani Jama’at-i-Islami and the Saudi Rabitat al-Alam aI-lsiami, to topple Afghanistan’s secular regime. Domestic instability, corruption and an unwillingness to implement land reforms led to a communist coup in 1978. The immediate trigger was the police’s decision to act against a huge protest march; left-wing officers in the military – on the asking of the PDPA – stopped the police and turned over the government to Noor Mohammed Taraki, a communist professor who became the President of the Revolutionary Council of Afghanistan. These developments – which were extensively supported by USSR – came to be known as the Saur Revolution.

Imperialist Destabilization

The communists’ policies of secularization and economic modernization soon incurred the wrath of reactionary mullahs and feudal landlords. The anti-communist revolt that began at Herat in western Afghanistan in March 1979 originated in a government initiative to teach girls to read. The fundamentalist Afghans opposed to this were supported by a triumvirate of nations – the US, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. In July 1979, Jimmy Carter administration decided to aid forces fighting the Soviet-backed government, with the goal, as National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski put it, of “giving the USSR its Vietnam War.”

Pakistani weaponry and training, Saudi financing and American political backing strengthened the mujahedeen attacks. By midsummer 1979, the PDPA government controlled perhaps no more than half the country. Growing territorial loss was exacerbated by the resurfacing of the longstanding split within the PDPA between the Khalq (led by president Taraki and his minister of national defense, Hafizullah Amin) and the Parcham (led by Vice-president Babrak Karmal). Prominent Parchamites were sent as ambassadors to various far-flung countries, and many lower-ranking ones were shot.

Throughout 1979, the Afghan government repeatedly requested the USSR to intervene militarily to save the communist government from a reactionary, US-backed uprising. The Soviet leadership was not keen to get directly involved since this would have meant a significant loss in diplomatic clout. The turning point came when an intense power struggle erupted between the leading Khalq members, Taraki and Amin.

Amin gained the upper hand, removing Taraki from power and ordering his death on September 14, 1979. This instance of infighting within the Left forced to Soviets to reassess their strategy vis-à-vis Afghanistan. They had considered Taraki more reliable than Amin, and were justifiably afraid that the internal fragmentation of the PDPA was damaging the efforts to defeat the jihadist insurgency. Thus, on December 25, 1979, the first Russian troops crossed the border into Afghanistan. This was exactly what Brzezinski had been hoping for.

The Russian leaders fell headlong into the trap. The entry of Soviet troops into Afghanistan transformed an unpleasant civil war funded by Washington into a jihad, enabling the mujahidin (“holy warriors”) to appear as the only defenders of Afghan sovereignty against the foreign, infidel army of occupation. Brzezinski soon appeared posing for photographs in a Pathan turban on the Khyber Pass and shouting “Allah is on your side”, while Afghan fundamentalists were being feted as freedom-fighters in the White House.

Rise of Taliban

After the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, the alliance of states that had backed different factions of the mujahedeen fragmented. Islamabad did not want any socially representative government of reconstruction, preferring – with US and Saudi support – to impose its own pawn, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, on the country. The result was a cycle of civil wars, punctuated by ephemeral ceasefires. Hazaras (backed by Iran), Ahmed Shah Masud (backed by France), and the Uzbek general Dostum (backed by Russia) resolutely opposed Pakistani plans.

When it became obvious that Hekmatyar’s forces were incapable of defeating these varied forces, the Pakistan Army shifted its backing to the students it had been training in religious schools in the North-West Frontier since 1980. These students eventually became the Taliban. Formed in 1994 under the tutelage of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (lSI) and General Naseerullah Khan (Pakistan’s Interior Minister), the Taliban comprises southern Pashtun tribes who are united by a vision of a society under Wahhabism which extols a form of Islam (Tariqa Muhammadiya) based on an ultra-dogmatic interpretation of Quran.

On September 26, 1996, the Taliban conquered Kabul. The Clinton administration endorsed its takeover as the best prospect for restoring “stability.” The next day Taliban killed the communist President Mohammed Najibullah, expelled 8,000 female undergraduate students from Kabul University, and fired a similar number of women schoolteachers. As the mujahedeen closed in on his palace, Najibullah told reporters: “If fundamentalism comes to Afghanistan, war will continue for many years. Afghanistan will turn into a center of world smuggling for narcotic drugs. Afghanistan will be turned into a center for terrorism.” His comments prove all too accurate today.

By the time the American establishment woke up, at the end of the 1990s, Taliban had established its government in Kabul. Recognized only by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, it granted Osama bin Laden – himself funded and supported by the CIA in the 1980s – freedom of action and offered him protection from American efforts to capture or kill him. Angered by Taliban’s insubordination, the US invaded Afghanistan and then occupied it for decades, resulting in the current situation.

The US’s partial pullover from Afghanistan forcefully foregrounds the futility of imperialist interventions. In its quest to mold Afghanistan according to its own desires, America has left a murderous legacy – the creation of a jihadist Frankenstein, the conversion of an entire country into a charnel house, the rising toll of civilian casualties and the imposition of a government of thieves, embezzlers, and neoliberal functionaries. A decisive end to these brutalities does not seem to be on the cards for Afghanistan.

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The Political Tempest in Lebanon

The Israeli bombing of Gaza has generated ripples in Lebanon’s political atmosphere. Palestinian refugees and Lebanese civilians have travelled to the border with Israel, proudly waving Palestinian flags and banners of the Hezbollah and Amal movements. However, the field of Palestinian discourse in Lebanon is not an uncontested one.  Lebanese Forces – a Christian political party – has burned the flag of Palestine, vehemently conveying the existence of an anti-Palestine camp within Lebanon. These ideological fault lines need to be looked at in the evolving context of a charged conjuncture which has prompted Lebanon’s Christian forces to further radicalize themselves.

On April 28, 2021, Christian parties in Lebanon called for the collective resignation of Parliament, accusing Hezbollah of dominating the country. The Maronite-dominated Independence Movement, the Lebanese Forces, Kataeb (Phalange) Party and the National Liberal Party spoke with one voice about the necessity of “neutrality”, decrying “the prevailing state of chaos…which is aimed at turning Lebanon into a failed state, dragging it into agendas that serve foreign interests at the expense of the country’s identity and historic role, and isolating it from countries that can help it overcome the current crisis in order to further stifle it.”

The increasingly chauvinistic stance of Christian forces reeks of inflammatory civil war rhetoric. Their recent initiatives hearken back to the days of the Lebanese Front – a coalition of parties formed in 1976 in response to Muslim challenges to Maronite supremacy. The immobilism advocated by the Lebanese Front is best expressed in the following statement addressed to the French envoy Couve de Murville: “The New Lebanon the Lebanese Front wants is the original and millennial Lebanon with its 6,000 years’ continuous heritage… and including its miraculous achievements.”

Opportunism

Today, the Christian parties in Lebanon are attempting to resuscitate and sharpen the edges of a long-existing socio-political conservatism. The context for this kind of sectarian revivalism is provided by the economic turbulence being experienced by Lebanon. Due to the highly unstable material conditions prevailing in the country, opportunistic political forces have been re-orienting themselves to capture the discontent of the masses with a totally unresponsive system. The Kataeb (Phalange) Party has been at the forefront of this endeavor – attempting to use the crisis in Lebanon to place itself in a prime position for forming a new government.

The leader of the Kataeb Party, Nazar Najarian, was killed in the Beirut blast. Using this opportunity, three party MPs stepped down from parliament, with Party President Samy Gemayel stating – like his predecessors – all should join them in the birth of a “New Lebanon.” Such was the extent of Phalangist propaganda that even the slogans of the Kataeb began infiltrating the movement against Lebanon’s neoliberal-clientelistic system. In particular, the slogan of “Disarm Hezbollah” or “Beirut is a city free from weapons” was used by some protestors. This echoes the Kataeb demand that Hezbollah relinquish all weapons under the cover of “democracy” and “constitutionalism”.

This is all a charade, and a distraction. The Kataeb Party is not interested in helping the people. This is the party that perpetuated multiple massacres alongside the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) against Palestinians and Arab socialists in the Lebanese civil war. The motive for these moves is to shift the people’s movement away from demanding the fall of the entire system towards simply a shift of government. The Kataeb Party is no doubt hoping that Hezbollah will be brought down, allowing them to get elected. These are the same sectarian games that the Lebanese people have seen time and again. It is precisely these maneuvers and divisions that in the past led to a civil war, where the poor masses paid the price.

Political Arena

While the meltdown of Lebanon’s neoliberal economy has acted as the immediate impetus for the political opportunism of Christian forces, the deeper roots of such acts can be found in the emergence of a new political arena from 2005. On February 14, 2005, the Sunni business magnate and politician Rafiq Hariri was assassinated, the victim of a truck bomb explosion as his motorcade passed along the Beirut seafront. Prime minister for 10 of the 15 years since the end of Lebanon’s civil war in 1990, Hariri had established himself as the dominant figure of Lebanese politics. His death signaled the slow breakdown of the system in which he had thrived – one based on a clear division of the spoils of post-war Lebanon between Lebanese politicians and Syria, whose troops had been present in Lebanon since 1976, and which emerged as the country’s de facto ruler after 1990.

Hariri – who had made his wealth as a building contractor in Saudi Arabia and continued to benefit from the support of that country’s royal family – initiated a programme of liberalization, which sought to transform the country into a regional hub for transport, tourism, and banking, a place where wealthy Gulf Arabs could feel comfortable spending their holidays. While free to do what he wanted on the economic front, his political decisions were constrained by the powerful presence of the Syrian security apparatus. Ghazi Kanaan, the head of Syrian military intelligence in Lebanon until 2002, and his successor, Rustum Ghazali, examined electoral candidates, approved appointments, and kept a tight watch on dissent, using their Lebanese minions as local enforcers.

Hariri chafed at this architecture of indirect rule; he expressed his displeasure at moves such as the decision to extend by 2 years the term of the Lebanese president, Emile Lahoud – an underling of Damascus, and one of his most bitter rivals. For many at the time, the detonation that killed Hariri could only have been the work of the Syrian security services. Within days, crowds began to gather in Martyrs’ Square, in central Beirut, chanting slogans laying the blame for his death squarely on the Syrian Baathist regime and its Lebanese allies. Slowly, these protests crystallized the anti-Syrian sentiments of a section of Lebanese civilians.

Week by week, the demonstrations in Martyrs’ Square grew larger, culminating in a massive gathering on March 14 – a month to the day after Hariri’s death. As a sea of people filled Martyrs’ Square, the immediate withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon became a central issue. Meanwhile, diplomatic pressure on Damascus to withdraw intensified – from the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), which had passed Resolution 1559 in September 2004 calling for the withdrawal of all “foreign forces” from Lebanese territory; the US, eager to weaken Syria’s sphere of influence; Saudi Arabia, which had seen Hariri as one of its own; and France, whose president, Jacques Chirac, and Hariri had been friends. By late April, Assad was ready to put an end to Syria’s military involvement in Lebanon. On April 26, the last Syrian troops left Lebanon.

Animosity toward Damascus was not uniform throughout Lebanon. On March 8, hundreds of thousands gathered in central Beirut at the behest of Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s secretary general. In an impassioned speech, Nasrallah thanked Damascus for its role as the protector of Lebanon, and condemned attempts to fracture the relations between Lebanon and Syria. The two states, he insisted, were bound together by fraternal ties, and nobody but their own governments could pronounce on the terms of their future relationship. As for Resolution 1559, which had called for the “disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias” – a phrase widely interpreted as targeting Hezbollah’s armed wing, which had held on to its weapons after the end of the civil war: 2 years after the occupation of Iraq, this was but another instance of American intervention in the Middle East, and had no other purpose but to weaken resistance to Western imperialism and Israel.

The battle lines were drawn in these March days between the two alliances that would come to define the political arena after 2005. On the one hand is the March 14 alliance. Its nucleus is the Future Movement, established by Hariri as an electoral tool within the Sunni community. The major Christian parties yearning for the re-monopolization of power belong to this alliance. The grouping presented itself as the guarantor of the country’s stability and sovereignty, adopting a discourse of state-building which emphasizes the need to bring all armed groups under the umbrella of the Lebanese government.

March 14 cultivated cozy ties with the US, the European Union, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. This naturally entailed a hostile stance to the perceived enemies of these benefactors. Thus, Hezbollah was traduced, Iran was vilified and the jihadist opposition against Assad was supported. The substantive content of the current discourse about “neutrality” is composed of these imperialist linkages. Instead of univocally proclaiming their liking for a Lebanon subordinated to the diktats of imperialist countries, the member parties of March 14 have been duplicitously raving about “sovereignty”.

On the other hand are ranged the forces of March 8 – Hezbollah, its Shia rival and partner Amal and, since February 2006, the Free Patriotic Movement of the Christian leader General Michel Aoun. March 8 has portrayed itself as part of a regional “axis” against the forces of Western imperialism, Zionism, and Wahhabist jihadism. In this view, it stands firm alongside Iran and the Syrian regime in its opposition to external plans for the division and destruction of the Middle East.

As the economic crisis in Lebanon will intensify, the dirty skirmish among the political class to get access to the levers of power will accelerate. Unconcerned about the basic demands of the Lebanese populace, the political elite is hermetically sealed in its own murky land, where wads of cash are the driving thrust for each and every action. In this ever-increasing quest for money, politicians will try their best to displace questions of class exploitation with sectarian identities. As usual, ordinary people will suffer the most in this corrupt competition.

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Brazil’s Perfect Storm

Lula da Silva has confirmed that he wants to be a presidential candidate in Brazil’s 2022 election. This was expected. After being freed from a process of lawfare intended to curtail his political career, Lula has reemerged on the national scene with full force. The Datafolha Institute has published a poll according to which Lula would win the first electoral round with 41% of the votes and the second round with 55% of the ballots. On the other hand, if neo-fascist President Jair Bolsonaro seeks re-election, he would only obtain 32% of the votes in the second round.

Abysmal statistics about Bolsonaro fail to convey the depth of the crisis being faced by his regime. The ruling administration’s toxic mix of pandemic mismanagement and savage neoliberalism has generated cracks in Bolsonaro’s “bull, bullet and bible bloc” – a coalition based on connections with the agribusiness sector, military and police forces, and the evangelical religious Right. In addition to the internal fragmentation of the top-level governing caste, there has been a groundswell of grassroots resistance to the right-wing agenda of neoliberal fascism.

Callousness

In spite of the growing pressures, the ruling dispensation has remained steadfast in its commitment to callousness. The Bolsonaro-headed political class continues its anti-science virus denialism, now perceiving the pandemic not as a public health issue but as a biological or psychological weapon created by China to gain competitive advantages in the global market and expand communist domination. This view has resulted in a strategy of herd immunity, ensuring that the free-market economy would keep working without any hassles and the internal enemies linked to international communism would also be defeated.

By downplaying the disease’s severity, preventive measures have been interpreted as arbitrary authoritarian acts. The deaths among risk groups have been accepted as casualties of war that would have the corollary effect of natural selection in the population, thus reducing the social security deficit and streamlining the country’s economic mechanisms.

Bolsonarist doctors have backed the thesis that Covid-19 is a much less serious disease than the World Health Organization (WHO) is portraying in ostensible collusion with China. They have also defended a cheap and accessible medicine kit with no proven efficacy for the treatment of Covid-19 infection. According to them, this medicine kit has not been officially recommended against the disease because it would go against the interests of big pharmaceutical companies.

Rising Hysteria

With no arrows left in his quiver, Bolsonaro is increasingly resorting to hysteria to somehow consolidate his hegemony. On May 6, 2021, the state police entered the favela of Jacarezinho in Rio de Janeiro and opened fire, killing at least 25 people who appeared to surrender before the guns fired. A day later, Rupert Colville, Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said:

This appears to have been the deadliest such operation in more than a decade in Rio de Janeiro, and furthers a long-standing trend of unnecessary and disproportionate use of force by police in Brazil’s poor, marginalized and predominantly Afro-Brazilian neighborhoods. We…urge a broad and inclusive discussion in Brazil about the current model of policing in favelas – which are trapped in a vicious cycle of lethal violence, with a dramatically adverse impact on their already struggling and marginalized populations.

Growing violence is a natural extension of the tendencies inherent in a specific component of Bolsonaro’s power alliance, namely, the bullet bloc. Firstly, a pro-armament stance performs a cultural function, attempting to symbolically suture the economic disempowerment suffered by Brazilian men under neoliberalism through a hyper-masculine code of violence. Secondly, members of the bullet coalition promote deregulation in terms of gun sales and fund Bolsonaro’s campaign with money coming from the arms industry.

Strengthening of the combative capacity of the police and the armed forces has proven to be lethal. State squadrons involved in the federal government’s ongoing operations against drug traffickers have become dangerously violent. Countless civilians, mostly those who are Black and poor, have been killed in such operations, including many children.

As Brazil’s human travail increases due to the criminal negligence of the ruling elite, Bolsonaro will go hammer and tong against in his efforts to shore up support through hysterical means. This will include a deepening of an obnoxious crusade against the rising left-wing camp and a possible increase in repression. However, the desire among the Brazilian masses for a better future can’t be defeated easily. It will keep increasing in tandem with worsening existential conditions.

The post Brazil’s Perfect Storm first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Colombia’s Rebellion against the Capitalist System

Colombia has been burning with the flames of resistance ever since a national strike began on April 28, 2021. The initial impetus for the large-scale demonstrations came from a regressive tax reform. The tax bill came into being due to the necessity of the Colombian state to push down the rising fiscal deficit, which could reach 10% of GDP this year. On top of this, the tight integration of the Colombian economy into the architectures of imperialism has resulted in an external debt of $156,834,000,000 (51.8% of GDP, projected to come up to 62.8%).

Someone had to pay for this crisis and the ruling class had no interest in doing so. This was demonstrated when the finance minister ignored the recommendations made by the state-appointed expert committee to tax the highest earners first. The attempt to make the workers and the middle layers pay for the crisis was the spark that ignited the masses’ accumulated rage.

The movement has slowly spread into the larger questions of political economy, openly confronting the structural barbarity of a glaciated plutocracy. This plutocracy has blood on its hands; it has amassed obscene amounts of wealth by relentlessly mowing down the resistance of the oppressed masses.

Entrenched Violence

The modern history of Colombia is enveloped in vapors of violence. Between 1948 and 1958, the country was the scene of one of the most intense and protracted instances of widespread violence in the twentieth century. In this period, there was a civil war called “The Violence” between Liberal and Conservative parties which took 200,000 lives. In order to bring an end to civil war, the Conservatives and Liberals made a political pact in 1958, known as the National Front (NF) which established that the presidency would alternate between the two parties for a period of 16 years and all positions in the three branches of government would be distributed evenly between them. Despite this, violence continued until 1966.

NF barred the Colombian Communist Party (PCC) from conventional political process in 1955 to ensure that its rising popularity was curtailed. In this way, NF helped in the alternation of power between the different factions of the Colombia elite while strengthening the armed forces to suppress popular reforms. After the civil war, capital accumulation consolidated, agri-business interests grew stronger and land concentration increased. Suffocated by the brutal vehemence of blood-tainted profit-making and hamstrung by the closure of traditional channels of opposition, PCC formed the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP) on May 27, 1964, as its armed wing.

Between 1984 and 1988, the FARC-EP agreed to a ceasefire with then President Belisario Betancur and many of its militants opted for electoral politics by forming a mass-based political party, the Patriotic Union (UP).  In all, UP gained 12 elected congressional members, 21 representatives to departmental assemblies, 170 members of city councils and 335 municipal councilors. Before, during, and after scoring these substantial electoral victories in local, state, and national elections, the military-backed death squads murdered three of the UP’s presidential candidates.

Over 5,000 legal electoral activists were killed. The FARC-EP was forced to return to armed opposition because of Colombian regime-sponsored mass terrorism. Between 1985 and 2008, tens of thousands of peasant leaders, trade unionists, human rights activists, and neighborhood leaders as well as journalists, lawyers, and congress people were killed, jailed, or driven into exile. As is evident, whenever ordinary Colombians have stood up for life, the governing political caste and the ruling economic class have systematically tapped into the vast power of state terror to chop off any hope for a better future.

Even today, the same practice of deploying ever greater amounts of violence continues. The director of Human Rights Watch believes that the protests in Colombia have seen a level of police violence previously unknown in Latin America. He claims that on this continent he has never seen “tanks firing multiple rounds of tear gas projectiles, among other things, horizontally at demonstrators at high speed. A most dangerous practice”.

US Support

The Colombian elite’s construction of repressive apparatuses has been fundamentally aided by the American empire. Colombia has been witness to a US-sponsored counter-insurgent nation-building project aimed at contesting the rapid expansion of rural guerrillas on Colombia’s endless coca frontier, its mining and energy frontiers, its agro-industrial frontiers, and into most of its towns and even cities. This project has turned out to be purely destructive.

By the end of the 1990s, there were more than 400 paramilitary massacres annually. Enter US-backed Plan Colombia, ostensibly designed to cut cocaine production in half: 80% of it went to the Colombian police and armed forces, who worked with the paramilitaries against the FARC, or, more often, against the Colombian people who lived in areas where guerrillas were active. From 2006 to 2010, the Colombian armed forces disappeared more than 10,000 civilians and disguised them as guerrilla kills to boost the body count.

Propped up by a bloated, national security state, the political class became totally dysfunctional, making no move to implement the 1991 Constitution, whose provisions on indigenous autonomy became dead letters. Such was the mockery of the electorate’s existence that the passage of the constitution was preceded by record numbers of indigenous deaths.

The war machine’s dispossession, disappearance, torture, and massacre of indigenous people left no community untouched. The Afro-Colombians in the Pacific, who had secured provision to collective land title in 1993, following the indigenous model of autonomy through communal land tenure, suddenly found themselves in the thick of death and destruction as their lands were coveted by mining and logging companies as well as drug traffickers-cum-ranchers-cum-paramilitaries.

Today, Colombia continues to be the stooge of USA, being the largest recipient of American foreign aid in Latin America, and the largest outside of the Middle East. In 2020, Congress appropriated over $460 million in foreign aid, with most of the funds being directed towards “peace and security,” which includes providing training and equipment to security forces. This has translated into the build-up of massive police and military forces that are unleashed against the civilian population whenever the need comes to enforce the neoliberal model.

Continued Resistance

On November 24, 2016, the Government of Colombia and FARC-EP signed a peace agreement, the “Final Agreement for Ending the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace”. However, this promise of peace has proven to be full of contradictory tensions. Insecurity and inequality continue unabated, despite the promise of stability, inclusiveness and state responsiveness. There can be little prospect of a meaningful or sustainable peace if large sections of society remain vulnerable to violence, insecurity, injustice and other harms.

However, an entirely elitist architecture of governance has been a part and parcel of Colombia’s history.  Whether it is conflict or “peace”, all types of political periods have been utilized by the agribusinesses, extractive industries, large-scale landowners and rural elites to enrich themselves. Meanwhile, the marginalized have been exposed to further violence and insecurity. The calcified cruelty of this system reached such a level that the subjugated pole could no longer keep quiet; it had to take to the streets to reassert its right to live with dignity.

Since Duque came to power in 2018, Colombians have led fierce social struggles: student-led demonstrations against corruption and state terror over three consecutive months in 2018; a nationwide strike of teachers, students, farmers and pensioners in support of public education and pensions in April 2019; “March for Life” demonstrations by students and teachers in response to escalation in assassinations of activists and opposition politicians by neo-paramilitaries and police in July 2019; nationwide general strikes against austerity policies and the cover-up of a military-headed bombing campaign that killed at least eight children in the department of Caquetá; and the mass demonstrations that erupted during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in September 2020 against police violence. In the current conjuncture, resistance will continue as the heavy fist of neoliberal authoritarianism disrupts the existence of the majority of the people.

The post Colombia’s Rebellion against the Capitalist System first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Colombia’s Rebellion against the Capitalist System

Colombia has been burning with the flames of resistance ever since a national strike began on April 28, 2021. The initial impetus for the large-scale demonstrations came from a regressive tax reform. The tax bill came into being due to the necessity of the Colombian state to push down the rising fiscal deficit, which could reach 10% of GDP this year. On top of this, the tight integration of the Colombian economy into the architectures of imperialism has resulted in an external debt of $156,834,000,000 (51.8% of GDP, projected to come up to 62.8%).

Someone had to pay for this crisis and the ruling class had no interest in doing so. This was demonstrated when the finance minister ignored the recommendations made by the state-appointed expert committee to tax the highest earners first. The attempt to make the workers and the middle layers pay for the crisis was the spark that ignited the masses’ accumulated rage.

The movement has slowly spread into the larger questions of political economy, openly confronting the structural barbarity of a glaciated plutocracy. This plutocracy has blood on its hands; it has amassed obscene amounts of wealth by relentlessly mowing down the resistance of the oppressed masses.

Entrenched Violence

The modern history of Colombia is enveloped in vapors of violence. Between 1948 and 1958, the country was the scene of one of the most intense and protracted instances of widespread violence in the twentieth century. In this period, there was a civil war called “The Violence” between Liberal and Conservative parties which took 200,000 lives. In order to bring an end to civil war, the Conservatives and Liberals made a political pact in 1958, known as the National Front (NF) which established that the presidency would alternate between the two parties for a period of 16 years and all positions in the three branches of government would be distributed evenly between them. Despite this, violence continued until 1966.

NF barred the Colombian Communist Party (PCC) from conventional political process in 1955 to ensure that its rising popularity was curtailed. In this way, NF helped in the alternation of power between the different factions of the Colombia elite while strengthening the armed forces to suppress popular reforms. After the civil war, capital accumulation consolidated, agri-business interests grew stronger and land concentration increased. Suffocated by the brutal vehemence of blood-tainted profit-making and hamstrung by the closure of traditional channels of opposition, PCC formed the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP) on May 27, 1964, as its armed wing.

Between 1984 and 1988, the FARC-EP agreed to a ceasefire with then President Belisario Betancur and many of its militants opted for electoral politics by forming a mass-based political party, the Patriotic Union (UP).  In all, UP gained 12 elected congressional members, 21 representatives to departmental assemblies, 170 members of city councils and 335 municipal councilors. Before, during, and after scoring these substantial electoral victories in local, state, and national elections, the military-backed death squads murdered three of the UP’s presidential candidates.

Over 5,000 legal electoral activists were killed. The FARC-EP was forced to return to armed opposition because of Colombian regime-sponsored mass terrorism. Between 1985 and 2008, tens of thousands of peasant leaders, trade unionists, human rights activists, and neighborhood leaders as well as journalists, lawyers, and congress people were killed, jailed, or driven into exile. As is evident, whenever ordinary Colombians have stood up for life, the governing political caste and the ruling economic class have systematically tapped into the vast power of state terror to chop off any hope for a better future.

Even today, the same practice of deploying ever greater amounts of violence continues. The director of Human Rights Watch believes that the protests in Colombia have seen a level of police violence previously unknown in Latin America. He claims that on this continent he has never seen “tanks firing multiple rounds of tear gas projectiles, among other things, horizontally at demonstrators at high speed. A most dangerous practice”.

US Support

The Colombian elite’s construction of repressive apparatuses has been fundamentally aided by the American empire. Colombia has been witness to a US-sponsored counter-insurgent nation-building project aimed at contesting the rapid expansion of rural guerrillas on Colombia’s endless coca frontier, its mining and energy frontiers, its agro-industrial frontiers, and into most of its towns and even cities. This project has turned out to be purely destructive.

By the end of the 1990s, there were more than 400 paramilitary massacres annually. Enter US-backed Plan Colombia, ostensibly designed to cut cocaine production in half: 80% of it went to the Colombian police and armed forces, who worked with the paramilitaries against the FARC, or, more often, against the Colombian people who lived in areas where guerrillas were active. From 2006 to 2010, the Colombian armed forces disappeared more than 10,000 civilians and disguised them as guerrilla kills to boost the body count.

Propped up by a bloated, national security state, the political class became totally dysfunctional, making no move to implement the 1991 Constitution, whose provisions on indigenous autonomy became dead letters. Such was the mockery of the electorate’s existence that the passage of the constitution was preceded by record numbers of indigenous deaths.

The war machine’s dispossession, disappearance, torture, and massacre of indigenous people left no community untouched. The Afro-Colombians in the Pacific, who had secured provision to collective land title in 1993, following the indigenous model of autonomy through communal land tenure, suddenly found themselves in the thick of death and destruction as their lands were coveted by mining and logging companies as well as drug traffickers-cum-ranchers-cum-paramilitaries.

Today, Colombia continues to be the stooge of USA, being the largest recipient of American foreign aid in Latin America, and the largest outside of the Middle East. In 2020, Congress appropriated over $460 million in foreign aid, with most of the funds being directed towards “peace and security,” which includes providing training and equipment to security forces. This has translated into the build-up of massive police and military forces that are unleashed against the civilian population whenever the need comes to enforce the neoliberal model.

Continued Resistance

On November 24, 2016, the Government of Colombia and FARC-EP signed a peace agreement, the “Final Agreement for Ending the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace”. However, this promise of peace has proven to be full of contradictory tensions. Insecurity and inequality continue unabated, despite the promise of stability, inclusiveness and state responsiveness. There can be little prospect of a meaningful or sustainable peace if large sections of society remain vulnerable to violence, insecurity, injustice and other harms.

However, an entirely elitist architecture of governance has been a part and parcel of Colombia’s history.  Whether it is conflict or “peace”, all types of political periods have been utilized by the agribusinesses, extractive industries, large-scale landowners and rural elites to enrich themselves. Meanwhile, the marginalized have been exposed to further violence and insecurity. The calcified cruelty of this system reached such a level that the subjugated pole could no longer keep quiet; it had to take to the streets to reassert its right to live with dignity.

Since Duque came to power in 2018, Colombians have led fierce social struggles: student-led demonstrations against corruption and state terror over three consecutive months in 2018; a nationwide strike of teachers, students, farmers and pensioners in support of public education and pensions in April 2019; “March for Life” demonstrations by students and teachers in response to escalation in assassinations of activists and opposition politicians by neo-paramilitaries and police in July 2019; nationwide general strikes against austerity policies and the cover-up of a military-headed bombing campaign that killed at least eight children in the department of Caquetá; and the mass demonstrations that erupted during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in September 2020 against police violence. In the current conjuncture, resistance will continue as the heavy fist of neoliberal authoritarianism disrupts the existence of the majority of the people.

The post Colombia’s Rebellion against the Capitalist System first appeared on Dissident Voice.