Frontlines of Revolutionary Struggle

where the lines are drawn and news is made

Western Moves to Isolate Russia Spurs China-Russia Energy Deal

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, right, and President Xi Jinping of China on Wednesday in Shanghai, where they signed a deal to send gas through a pipeline from Siberia to China. Credit Pool photo by Mark Ralston

BEIJING — China and Russia agreed to a major 30-year natural gas deal on Wednesday that would send gas from Siberia by pipeline to China, according to the China National Petroleum Corporation.

The announcement caps a decade-long negotiation and helps bring Russia and China closer than they have been in many years. The contract was driven to a conclusion by the presence of President Xi Jinping of China and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in Shanghai for the last two days. Continue reading

Should anti-Imperialists oppose only US imperialism?

[The world imperialist system today has entered a period of crisis, internal instability and disarray, growing internal conflict and inter-imperialist contention, conflict, and the beginnings of opposing bloc formations. It is a far-from-healthy and broadly discredited system, forcing the costs of its desperate wars and troubled (and false) bourgeois “recoveries” on the masses of people worldwide. Wave upon wave of resistance and rebellion has begun, sometimes toppling old imperialist puppets, though finding the path to create liberated societies very difficult. Fantasies that the US had, since WW2, successfully formed a system of efficient and unchallengable control of world imperialist domination, have fallen on hard times. Imperialist Russia and imperialist China have grown from the defeat of socialism and the seizure of power by capitalists, and have set upon an assertion of power and authority in regional, economic, political, military, monetary and financial affairs (though each is struggling to contain growing internal discontent). Anti-imperialists and revolutionaries who only think in the framework of decades-long opposition to US hegemony in the world system will look in vain, and to their own discredit, for friends or allies among the contending imperialists. The only path forward is to build revolutionary proletarian class-conscious parties and mass-based political forces with eyes wide open, independent of ties and influence by any and all imperialists.
Revolutionary Frontlines has recently received a new study from redpath.net, which examines the shape of the imperialist system today, with special emphasis on the still-debated role of China and Chinese imperialism. The introduction to this path-breaking study and analysis is posted here below. The entire document can be viewed at the website of http://www.red-path.net, where the document (produced by an independent research and writing group) was first posted. It can also be viewed and downloaded at http://www.mlmrsg.com/79-statements/82-is-china-an-imperialist-country-considerations-and-evidence. -- Revolutionary Frontlines]

IS CHINA AN IMPERIALIST COUNTRY?  by NB Turner, et al.

It has long been known and understood that the entire world has been under the control of capitalist-imperialism. For a time, a section of this world broke from it, beginning with the victory of socialism in Russia and continuing through the Chinese Revolution, constituting a socialist world. Yet, in time, the socialist countries, through internal class struggles in politics and economics, were seized by capitalist conciliators and advocates, and then by capitalists themselves, who were largely within the ruling communist parties themselves. First in Russia, and later in China, when these counter-revolutions and coups took place, there ensued a period of entry and integration into the world imperialist system. The Soviet Union, at first under the existing signboard of socialism, continued much of its established national and economic power relations into a new social-imperialist bloc (socialist in name, imperialist in reality). The Russian capitalist-imperialist attempt to maintain this bloc, or important sections of what had been part of this bloc, and its historic allies, has continued in the years since the “socialist” signboard was discarded. In China, the defeat of the proletariat and the capitalist capture of state power, after the death of the great revolutionary Mao Zedong, have also led to a period of integration into the world imperialist system. China still operates under a “socialist” signboard, but has conducted itself unambiguously as a capitalist power.
Before the last decade, especially since the demise of the “socialist bloc,” the US was commonly seen as the sole Superpower, to which all other powers had to defer. The system which the US had designed, at the end of WW2, was global in scope, and to some more “democratic” in appearance than the old colonial empires. But it was built around the elitist privilege of power and authority, meaning the US as Superpower was at the centerpiece of the controls.
But in the last decade the imperialist world system is not what it used to be. Throughout the world, corrupt and comprador regimes have faced significant and often unprecedented mass popular opposition movements which have revealed the deep instability of the old neo-colonial arrangements. Continue reading

Bangladeshi workers set fire to factories

Bangladeshi garment workers calling for a minimum wage increase clashed with police outside Dhaka. Source: AAP

Bangladeshi garment workers calling for a minimum wage increase clashed with police outside Dhaka. Source: AAP

The Australian, September 23, 2013

ANGRY Bangladeshi garment workers have blocked roads, set factories alight and clashed with police for a third day as protests demanding a minimum monthly wage of $US100 spread outside the capital Dhaka.

Abdul Baten, police chief of the Gazipur industrial district near Dhaka, which is home to hundreds of factories, said on Monday “up to 200,000 workers” had joined the latest demonstrations.

His deputy Mustafizur Rahman said about 300 factories, which make clothing for top Western retailers such as Walmart, were shut on Monday to contain the violence as protesting workers attacked plants that stayed open. Continue reading

Obama in South Africa: Washington tells Pretoria how to ‘play the game’ in Africa

Protesters greet Obama, June 28, 2013.

By Patrick Bond, Durban

July 1, 2013Links International Journal of Socialist RenewalUS President Barack Barack Obama’s weekend trip to South Africa may have the desired effect of slowing the geopolitical realignment of Pretoria to the Brazil-India-Russia-China-South Africa (BRICS) axis. That shift to BRICS has not, however, meant deviation from the hosts’ political philosophy, best understood as “talk left, walk right” since it mixes anti-imperialist rhetoric with pro-corporate policies.

Overshadowed by Nelson Mandela’s critically ill health, Obama’s implicit denial of a US imperial agenda could not disguise Washington’s economic paranoia. As expressed on June 25 by White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, “What we hear from our businesses is that they want to get in the game in Africa. There are other countries getting in the game in Africa – China, Brazil, Turkey. And if the US is not leading in Africa, we’re going to fall behind in a very important region of the world.”

Over a century earlier, another Rhodes – Cecil John – explained that very game: “We must find new lands from which we can easily obtain raw materials and at the same time exploit the cheap slave labour that is available from the natives of the colonies. The colonies would also provide a dumping ground for the surplus goods produced in our factories.” Although there is no longer formal slave labour within formal colonies, this sentiment readily links the neoliberal agenda of both the BRICS and the US.

Perhaps embarrassed, Obama himself retracted Ben Rhodes’ confession of inter-imperial rivalry when asked by the White House press corps: “I want everybody playing in Africa. The more the merrier. A lot of people are pleased that China is involved in Africa.”

This must have raised cynical eyebrows, because he added, “China’s primary interest is being able to obtain access for natural resources in Africa to feed the manufacturers in export-driven policies of the Chinese economy.” Continue reading

As China’s investments grow, Obama gives advice to Africans

[Obama speaks from the long experience of the US' empire in Africa, when he urges African caution when new investors come around.  These are not altruistic words; they come from the proverbial fox seeking to "guard and protect" the hen house from other predators.  Obama asserts that African development can only occur under his "trusted" US' tutelage.  But the pathbreaking writer Walter Rodney, author of the 1973 book "How Europe Undeveloped Africa," detailed those relations and concluded, "African development is possible only on the basis of a radical break with the international capitalist system.”--  Frontlines ed.]

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Ask questions on foreign investments, Obama tell Africans

Vanguardngr.com, PRETORIA, on June 29, 2013

US President Barack Obama urged Africans on Saturday to ask more questions about lop-sided deals with some foreign investors, while dismissing talk of a Chinese and US scramble for influence on the continent.

During a landmark visit to the continent of his father’s birth, Obama said he welcomed renewed interest from larger emerging markets.

“I actually welcome the attention that Africa is receiving from countries like China and Brazil and India and Turkey.”

But he urged African nations to make sure trade was not a one-way street.

“When we look at what other countries are doing in Africa, I think our only advice is make sure it’s a good deal for Africa.” Continue reading

Brazil Needs a Great Revolution!

[The statement by the Revolutionary Front for the Defense of the People - Brazil (Frente Revolucionária de Defesa dos Direitos do Povo - Brasil), has now been translated into English.  It provides important background on the current rebellion, as well as clarifying the revolutionary program and strategy to move forward. -- Frontlines ed.]

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Proletarians and oppressed peoples of the world, unite!
“The law of the people is to fight, fail, fight again, fail again, fight again until victory!” — Chairman Mao Tsetung

Massive protests explode across the country and a spontaneous mass movement  of hundreds of thousands takes the center of large cities and spreads everywhere, shaking and panicking all the old order. A new phase of the developments of the revolutionary situation is seen in protest and rebellion!Major storms are approaching.

The final straw was the brutal repression of the just and peaceful demonstration against the increase of the bus fares in the cities of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The outrage spread across the country and released popular anger no longer stifled by decades of political demagoguery and constant barrage of misleading government propaganda of a Brazil of great progress and improvement. When even television networks, radio and newspapers trumpeted the popularity of President Dilma as the one bringing full employment, creation of a new middle class, the development of the country with a sound economy against the global crisis that sinks the world’s largest economies – this suddenly exploded with the upheavals that arose as a tsunami.

Amid the deep and prolonged general crisis of the imperialist system that causes suffering worldwide, hitting hard working masses with mass unemployment, making brutal cuts in hard-won rights, pushing them to the streets by the millions, in a desperate fight for survival and resistance,  repression launched by the capitalist governments in client countries has been unrelenting.

As a direct result of the contradictions and weaknesses of the economy of our country, dominated and plundered by imperialism, the popular revolt is the release of decades of screams stifled by the ‘eternal’ deception of fraudulent elections and false left demagoguery (PT/Workers Party; PSB/Brazilian Socialist Party; PCdoB/Communist Party of Brazil, etc). What happened? A snap broke the charm of a truth found to be a lie repeated a thousand times, and backfired, no longer the social anesthetic of bread and circuses. Continue reading

South African Lawyers Call for Obama’s Arrest for war crimes, during his visit

[This is not the first effort at bringing imperialist "human rights" law against imperialists and the imperialist machinery, and once again it will fail, undoubtedly.  But it does have the educational benefit of highlighting the hypocritical "exemption" which bourgeois law grants the international bourgeoisie as a class.  Furthermore, the protest campaign against US imperialist foreign policy, while signed onto by the South African neo-colonial (some say sub-imperialist) Tripartite Alliance ruling class, is more a "faux anti-imperialist" fig leaf and a bid for mass confusion and nationalist credibility, than a genuine call to action.  It invokes the popular hatred of imperialism, but only for self-serving "populist" ends.  See the announcement of the South African "Campaign to Protest USA Foreign Policy" during the visit of President Barak Obama, below. -- Frontlines ed.]

by Christopher Gevers
On Friday a group of South African lawyers lodged a complaint with the country’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) calling for President Obama’s arrest for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide when he visits South Africa this month. More specifically, the group – the Muslim Lawyers Association – submitted a docket to South African authorities requesting that President Obama be “investigated, charged, arrested and tried in a South African Court for War Crimes, Crimes against Humanity and Genocide”. According to the group’s Press Release:

“The complaint, dubbed the “Obama Docket” encourages South Africa to take seriously its domestic and international obligations and to act against International War Criminals lest they consider South Africa a safe haven and travel here freely with impunity.

In terms of the ICC Act, diplomatic immunity is not a defence and a Head of State is not immune from prosecution for the aforementioned crimes. The Complaint asks for Obama’s arrest when he enters South Africa or the securing of his attendance at a trial by other lawful means.

In the alternative, the complaint requires South Africa as a State Party to the Rome Statute, to refer the case to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court at the Hague to exercise Jurisdiction in terms of the Rome Statute.

The Obama administration’s Drone programme which has resulted in massive losses of innocent lives in Pakistan, Yemen and Afghanistan. The programme is responsible for extra-judicial killings both innocent civilians as well as US citizens abroad. The drone strike policy has continued unabated with total disregard for territorial sovereignty and this is cited as the primary reason that Obama should be investigated and tried for War Crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

The large number of well documented civilian deaths are said to constitute international crimes and the complaint refers to numerous International Reports which have documented evidence on the USA drone policies. Other crimes cited include extra judicial renditions and torture.” Continue reading

Washington in Africa: Who will Obama ‘whack’ next?

[An important and detailed look at Washington's Obama-era African policy initiatives.  Lengthy, but well worth reading.  The conclusions drawn from the information provided are the author's, and do not necessarily imply Frontlines' perspective.  --  Frontlines ed.]

Graphic from The Economist

 

by Patrick Bond, Address to the Muslim Youth Movement 40th Anniversary Conference, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, September 30, 2012.  Article was posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author’s permission.

 

At a time when popular revolutions are sweeping the globe, the United States should be strengthening, not weakening, basic rules of law and principles of justice enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But instead of making the world safer, America’s violation of international human rights abets our enemies and alienates our friends. – Former US president Jimmy Carter, 25 June 2012, New York Times

US actions since 9/11 represent the final stage in the US’s century-long effort to complete the project of making US-led globalization a concrete reality across the world through three historical moments: 1) the attempted creation of a global Monroe doctrine between 1898 and 1919; 2) the Roosevelt administration’s creation of the Bretton Woods Institutions – the World Bank and IMF – and the UN; and 3) globalization – the US-led effort to establish a new global regime based on free trade, deregulation, and privatization. – Neil Smith, The Endgame of Globalization, 2005

The US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa and former three-time ambassador, Johnnie Carson, was feted by Brooks Spector recently at Daily Maverick, in an article entitled “America’s Mr Africa”. While it is always fitting to honour African-Americans who persevere to the top despite that country’s deep internal racism, Spector makes contentious political and economic claims about the “new” US Africa policy. “For some observers at least”, he says, “Barack Obama’s new partnership with Africa was announced in his speech in Accra [July 11, 2009], when he declared the era of the authoritarian African big man to be over – kaput!”[1] As described below, however, Washington has maintained extremely cozy relationships with a variety of African dictators.

Spector then endorses Carson’s claims that “US interests in the continent fundamentally stem from its interest in strengthening trade to help African states grow their economies and meet development needs”, and that “the US wants to work with African nations to strengthen democratic institutions, good governance and efforts to stamp out corruption [and] to spur economic growth through market-driven, free trade principles”. Sorry, but we recall Washington’s deregulatory support for Wall Street’s market-driven binge, which in 2008-09 contributed to the worst global economic crash in 80 years, resulting in around a million South African job losses. We know that only the wealthy recovered so far, and that in the US, the top 1 per cent received 93 per cent of all new income since 2009, because the system wasn’t fixed. And who can forget White House hypocrisy when it comes to vast and often illegal US agro-corporate subsidies which continue to thwart African production? And is there any capital city whose political system is more corrupted by corporate (especially banking) campaign contributions than Washington, resulting in such extreme malgovernance that Obama cannot even make an effort to convict a single banker for world-historic economic misdeeds?

Spector’s most flawed assumption is that by increasing trade with (and vulnerability to) the world economy, “Africa” grows. Although a few elites have certainly grown rich from extraction, the opposite is more true, if we make a simple, rational adjustment to GDP: incorporating the wasting of Africa’s “natural capital” (a silly phrase but one used increasingly by powerbrokers eyeing the ‘Green Economy’). Measuring this loss is something that 10 African leaders agreed to start doing so in May, in the Gabarone Declaration initiated by Botswana president Ian Khama and the NGO Conservation International. The adjustment entails counting the outflow of natural capital (especially non-renewable mineral/petroleum resources) not only as a short-term credit to GDP (via “output of goods” measuring the resources extracted and sold), but also as a long-term debit to the natural capital stocks, as non-renewable resources no longer become available to future generations. Number-crunch the resource depletion, and net wealth declines in Africa as well as the Middle East. Continue reading

Bangladesh: Neo-Colonial/Corporate-Terrorist Criminals on Damage Control, restoring Business as Usual

Bangladesh bosses plead to Western firms after tragedy

The heads of Bangladesh’s textile companies pleaded with foreign retail giants to keep doing business with them after a recent factory collapse that killed nearly 400 people. Bangladesh’s $20 billion garment industry is the second largest in the world behind China.

Bangladesh building collapse

[Bangladesh building collapse]

Bangladeshi textile bosses pleaded Monday with Western clothing giants to keep doing business with them after nearly 400 people died in a factory collapse as hopes of finding more survivors faded.

Organizers of the mammoth rescue effort ordered in cranes on Monday to clear the ruins of what was once an eight-story factory compound before it caved in five days ago while some 3,000 textile workers were on shift.

As Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid her first visit to the tangle of concrete, the confirmed number of dead stood at 382.

But the toll is expected to shoot up now heavy lifting equipment is being used. Rescuers had earlier been wary of using anything but hand-held drills, over fears that machinery could force more masonry to collapse onto survivors.

Emergency workers, who have been battling the stench of rotting corpses, were shattered by the death late Sunday of a female garment worker who had clung to life against the odds before being overwhelmed by a fire at the scene.

The tragedy has once again focused attention on the poor safety conditions in the $20 billion Bangladeshi garment industry, which is the world’s second biggest after China.

Britain’s Primark and Spain’s Mango have acknowledged their products were made in the block. Italy’s Benetton acknowledged having its clothes made in Rana Plaza recently, but claimed it was a “one-time order”.

Worried that Western firms could look elsewhere, manufacturers met with representatives of leading brand names on Monday in a bid to assure them about safety standards.

Shahidullah Azim, a vice president of the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association which represents more than 4,500 factories, said firms such as H&M, Gap, C&A and Li and Fung would be present at the meeting in Dhaka. Continue reading

May Day fury: Angry workers rally worldwide

Workers hold a banner that reads "If you want to have a future, resist and fight at the present time" during a May Day workers demonstration in Porto, Portugal Wednesday May 1, 2013. In Portugal, with unemployment at 17.5 percent in March, the government is seeking to agree new austerity measures after its Constitutional Court rejected as discriminatory cuts to civil servant salaries and pensions decided in response to demands by EU-IMF lenders. (AP Photo/Paulo Duarte) ( Paulo Duarte )

Workers hold a banner that reads “If you want to have a future, resist and fight at the present time” during a May Day workers demonstration in Porto, Portugal Wednesday May 1, 2013. In Portugal, with unemployment at 17.5 percent in March, the government is seeking to agree new austerity measures after its Constitutional Court rejected as discriminatory cuts to civil servant salaries and pensions decided in response to demands by EU-IMF lenders. (AP Photo/Paulo Duarte) ( Paulo Duarte )

ISTANBUL — Workers around the world united in anger during May Day rallies Wednesday — from fury in Europe over austerity measures that have cut wages, reduced benefits and eliminated many jobs altogether, to rage in Asia over relentlessly low pay, the rising cost of living and hideous working conditions that have left hundreds dead in recent months.

In protests, strikes and other demonstrations held in cities across the planet, activists lashed out at political and business leaders they allege have ignored workers’ voices or enriched themselves at the expense of laborers. In some places, the demonstrations turned violent, with activists clashing with police.

Many nations have been struggling with economic downturns for several years now, and workplace disasters in developing countries are nothing new, but the intensity of some of Wednesday’s gatherings suggested workers’ frustrations have grown especially acute, with many demanding immediate action to address their concerns.

The anger was painfully evident in Bangladesh, where the collapse last week of an illegally built eight-story facility housing multiple garment factories killed more than 400 in a Dhaka suburb. The building collapse followed a garment factory fire in November that killed 112 people in the country, and it has increased the pressure on the global garment industry to improve working conditions.

A loud procession of thousands of workers wound through central Dhaka on Wednesday. Many waved the national flag and demanded the death penalty for the now-detained owner of the doomed building. From a loudspeaker on the back of a truck, a participant spoke for the throngs gathered: “My brother has died. My sister has died. Their blood will not be valueless.” Continue reading

Margaret Thatcher’s death greeted with street parties in Brixton and Glasgow

Crowds shout ‘Maggie Maggie Maggie, dead dead dead’ during impromptu events

guardian.co.uk, Monday 8 April 2013

thatcherSeveral hundred people gathered in south London on Monday evening to celebrate Margaret Thatcher‘s death with cans of beer, pints of milk and an impromptu street disco playing the soundtrack to her years in power.

Young and old descended on Brixton, a suburb which weathered two outbreaks of rioting during the Thatcher years. Many expressed jubilation that the leader they loved to hate was no more; others spoke of frustration that her legacy lived on.

To cheers of “Maggie Maggie Maggie, dead dead dead,” posters of Thatcher were held aloft as reggae basslines pounded.

Clive Barger, a 62-year-old adult education tutor, said he had turned out to mark the passing of “one of the vilest abominations of social and economic history”.

witchHe said: “It is a moment to remember. She embodied everything that was so elitist in terms of repressing people who had nothing. She presided over a class war.” Continue reading

Corporate Thieves Run, but Cannot Hide

[An interesting exposure of the secret exemptions which large-scale capitalists and government officials have used to hide their monstrous accumulations of wealth in the midst of global hunger and poverty.  The embarassing (for capitalists and their state machineries) article and the responses to it, try to make it appear that these grotesque accumulations are exceptions, and not the rule, for the capitalist system.  And there are efforts to make it appear that capitalist governments can clean up these "blemishes" on their system.  The people will take note of these as the barely exposed "tips of the iceberg" of the crimes against humanity, requiring  the justice of people's socialist revolution--not the fantasy of justice from the perpetrators, co-conspirators, and mouthpieces, of the criminal capitalist system. -- Frontlines ed.]

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Leaks reveal secrets of the rich who hide cash offshore

Exclusive: Offshore financial industry leak exposes identities of 1,000s of holders of anonymous wealth from around the world

, The Guardian, Wednesday 3 April 2013
British Virgin Islands

[The British Virgin Islands, the world's leading offshore haven used by an array of government officials and rich families to hide their wealth. Photograph: Duncan Mcnicol/Getty Images]

Millions of internal records have leaked from Britain’s offshore financial industry, exposing for the first time the identities of thousands of holders of anonymous wealth from around the world, from presidents to plutocrats, the daughter of a notorious dictator and a British millionaire accused of concealing assets from his ex-wife.

The leak of 2m emails and other documents, mainly from the offshore haven of the British Virgin Islands (BVI), has the potential to cause a seismic shock worldwide to the booming offshore trade, with a former chief economist at McKinsey estimating that wealthy individuals may have as much as $32tn (£21tn) stashed in overseas havens.

In France, Jean-Jacques Augier, President François Hollande’s campaign co-treasurer and close friend, has been forced to publicly identify his Chinese business partner. It emerges as Hollande is mired in financial scandal because his former budget minister concealed a Swiss bank account for 20 years and repeatedly lied about it.

In Mongolia, the country’s former finance minister and deputy speaker of its parliament says he may have to resign from politics as a result of this investigation.

But the two can now be named for the first time because of their use of companies in offshore havens, particularly in the British Virgin Islands, where owners’ identities normally remain secret. Continue reading

NGOs’ Corporate/Foundation Mission–to Divert and Blunt Radical Movements–is Losing Sway

webready-Marcha-Revoluncionaria[The REVOLUTIONARY FRONTLINES blog focuses attention on revolutionaries and especially on revolutionary struggles that challenge the capitalist-imperialist world system and all reactionaries.  Revolutionaries work within a broad range of struggles as they gather and develop revolutionary forces.  Some such struggles are reform struggles, which are often engaged in debates between REFORMISTS, who seek to contain these movements in reforming the capitalist system, and REVOLUTIONARIES, who promote the growth of revolutionary forces to overturn capitalist state power and establish socialism.  In the debates over these directions and goals, NGOs have come to play a major role.

For many years, Maoist revolutionaries and many others have exposed the corporate and government project to put revolutionary grassroots organizers on the payroll, and turn them all into single-issue reformist policy wonks and advocates.  The corporate project aims  and acts to block multi-issue, internationalist advocacy and anti-systemic revolutionary organizing.  It is a project called NGO-ism (Non-Government-Organization) or, domestically, non-profit-organizing (NPOs), which ties the careers of organizers to limited reformist goals, for which they receive conditional funding (blocking revolutionary political organizing, and rewarding only limited reform and electoral objectives).

The funding for these projects (now millions of NGOs and NPOs, worldwide) comes directly from  corporate foundations, which hold a tight leash on NGO advocates and organizers.  Many such NGOs claim to have "democratic accountability," but in times of increasing mass discontent and rebellion, there is a wide, ever-growing programmatic gap between the reforms sought by corporate NGOs, and the sentiments and demands on the grassroots level.  So the NGO "project" is not only criticized and opposed by revolutionaries, but also by the purported "base"of the NGOs. And now, corporations and foundations are subjecting their vast project to a kind of "quality control" in which they measure their effectiveness in stemming the opposition to capitalism and imperialism.

At the start of the largely NGO World Social Forum, convening last week in Tunisia, the Guardian (UK) newspaper carried an interesting assessment of the loss of credibility, and effectiveness, of NGOs.  Though it takes some reading between the lines, and through the language of reform claims and hype, this becomes clear:  A lot has been invested by the bourgeoisie in these tools of reform and counter insurgency.  Serving two masters, that of financial corporate accountabilty, and of populist "democratic" credibility, has already proven to be a most difficult--indeed, impossible--challenge for the NGOs and NPOs, and for their World Social Forum.  -- Frontlines ed.]

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Are NGOs fit for the purpose of advocacy and campaigning?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development-professionals-network/2013/mar/26/world-social-forum-ngos-fit-for-purpose

As the World Social Forum begins, Jude Howell asks whether reliance on state funding has cost NGOs their independence

by Jude Howell, The Guardian, Tuesday 26 March 2013

The World Social Forum, which begins in Tunis today, is an important reminder of the pivotal role civil society organisations have often played in major social and political transformation.

The anti-slavery movement played a crucial part in bringing about legislation to end slavery in the 19th century. Across the world, the trade union movement has been the lynchpin behind achieving basic labour rights and improvements in working conditions. The anti-apartheid movement brought about the downfall of the racist apartheid regime in South Africa in the 1990s, while the women’s movement in different historical periods and contexts achieved landmark breakthroughs in law to push for gender equality.

Of course, not all movements achieve their objectives; nor can success be attributed solely to them – alliances with different economic and political interests, as well as getting the general public and media on board have also been crucial. Civil society and NGOs have long been key to challenging systems that would favour the few over the many, and give a voice to the voiceless – but is this the case today? Are they still fit for that purpose? Continue reading

Brazilian megaproject in Mozambique set to displace millions of peasants

UNAC, Via Campesina Africa, GRAIN | 29 November 2012

The Brazilian government and private sector are collaborating with Japan to push a large-scale agribusiness project in Northern Mozambique. The project, called ProSavana, will make 14 million hectares of land available to Brazilian agribusiness companies for the production of soybeans, maize and other commodity crops that will be exported by Japanese multinationals. This area of Mozambique, known as the Nacala Corridor, is home to millions of farming families who are at risk of losing their lands in the process.

brazil-mozambique-slide-1-638The Nacala Corridor stretches along a rail line that runs from the port of Nacala, in Nampula Province, into the two northern districts of Zambézia Province and ends in Lichinga, in Niassa Province. It is the most densely populated region of the country. With its fertile soils and its consistent and generous rainfall, millions of small farmers work these lands to produce food for their families and for local and regional markets.

But now ProSavana proposes to make these same lands available to Japanese and Brazilian companies to establish large industrial farms and produce low cost commodity crops for export. Through ProSavana, they intend to transform the Nacala Corridor into an African version of the Brazilian cerrado, where savannah lands were converted to vast soybean and sugar cane plantations.

Large numbers of Brazilian investors have already been surveying lands in northern Mozambique under the ProSavana project. They are being offered massive areas of land on a long-term lease basis for about US$1/ha per year.

GV Agro, a subsidiary of Brazil’s Fundação Getulio Vargas directed by the former minister of agriculture, Roberto Rodriguez, is coordinating the Brazilian investors.

Charles Hefner of GV Agro dismisses the idea that the project will displace Mozambican peasants. He says ProSavana is targeting “abandoned areas” where “there is no agriculture being practiced”.

“Mozambique has a tremendous area available for agriculture,” says Hefner.  “There is room for mega projects of 30-40,000 ha without major social impacts.”

But land surveys by Mozambique’s national research institute clearly show that nearly all the agricultural land in the area is being used by local communities.

“It is not true that there is abandoned land in the Nacala Corridor,” says Jacinto Mafalacusser, a researcher at the Instituto de Investigação Agrária de Moçambique (IIAM). Continue reading

The US War on Iraq: a Criminal Enterprise — But Where Will Justice be Found?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A decade after the US attempt to “shock and awe” humanity and usher in its new “American century” more than a million Iraqis are dead, and trillions of dollars have been squandered, while the high ranking architects and enablers of these monstrous crimes are still riding high…

War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity: The story of U.S. Exceptionalism in Iraq

by Ajamu Baraka, in Black Agenda Report

This month marks the tenth anniversary of the U.S. attack on Iraq, one of the most egregious expressions of naked power and imperial ambition since the Second World War. The attack defied both an outraged world opinion — expressed by global mass demonstrations — and the United Nations charter. It also marked a change from the previous veiled decorum of supposed adherence to international law that defined post-war international relations. The Bush administration, armed with the ultimate expression of the arrogance of U.S. exceptionalism – legislation passed by the U.S. Congress – unleashed a murderous assault on the people of Iraq dubbed “Operation Shock and Awe.”

Ten years later, the awesome consequences of that criminal assault are clear. More than a trillion dollars spent, almost five thousand American lives lost, more than 32,000 Americans wounded, estimates of a million dead Iraqis and almost five million displaced, an epidemic of Iraqi birth defects from “depleted” uranium, daily bombings, devastated public services and the dismemberment of the country. Yet, ten years later, no one, not one government official, has been held accountable. The obvious question is: how is it that, in light of one of the most heinous crimes ever committed by a State, there have been no investigations, prosecutions or convictions of the officials responsible for this assault?

The lack of accountability is even more incomprehensible in light of the fact that it is now widely acknowledged that the real reason for the Western invasion of Iraq had little to do with its concern about weapons of mass destruction and everything to do with its desire to steal Iraq’s oil. Continue reading