Ebola is a problem that will not be solved, because it isn’t profitable to do so.
The Onion (a satirical newspaper in the US — ed.), as ever, is on point with its “coverage” of the worst recorded outbreak of Ebola, and the first in West Africa, infecting some 1,779 people and killing at least 961. “Experts: Ebola Vaccine At Least 50 White People Away,” read the cheeky headline of the July 31 news brief.
Our shorthand explanation is that if the people infected with Ebola were white, the problem would be solved. But the market’s role in both drug companies’ refusal to invest in research and the conditions on the ground created by neoliberal policies that exacerbate and even encourage outbreaks goes unmentioned.
Racism is certainly a factor. Jeremy Farrar, an infectious disease specialist and the head of the Wellcome Trust, one of the largest medical research charities in the world, told the Toronto Star: “Imagine if you take a region of Canada, America, Europe, and you had 450 people dying of a viral hemorrhagic fever. It would just be unacceptable — and it’s unacceptable in West Africa.”
Caribbean nations which ignore the human and civil rights of the citizenry will never be able to access reparations. Visiting Barbados economic historian Hilary Beckles, campus principal of Cave Hill and Pro Vice Chancellor of UWI, made this comment at a public lecture and launch of his book Britain’s Black Debt at Daaga Auditorium, St Augustine Campus, on May 23. Among those present were St Augustine campus principal Prof Clement Sankat, Prof Funso Aiyejina, dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Education, literary icon Earl Lovelace and head of the department of history Dr Heather Cateau.
Beckles dedicated his book to the late eminent historian and T&T’s first prime minister Dr Eric Williams, author of the seminal work Capitalism and Slavery. Beckles said his book should be seen as a sequel to Williams’ work and dedicated it to him. His narrative revolved around a cover photograph of a young queen Elizabeth of England taking a stroll with her cousin, the 7th Earl of Harewood on his sugar plantation (the Belle) in Barbados in 1966. It was bought by the earl’s ancestor in 1780 and there were 232 slaves. Before delving into the post pan-African conversation, Beckles said he had to “purge himself” by writing this book which he deemed to be a case study of the need for reparations for the descendants of enslaved peoples. He felt Britain had a case to answer, which the Caribbean should litigate. Beckles said he believed there would be no social justice until the matter of reparations was addressed. Continue reading
[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.]
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
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
[The basic law of capitalism is “expand or die” — and quickly so, as the threat of being crushed or swallowed by competing exploiters also grows without a break. Maximizing profits through ruthless exploitation of labor, manipulation of trade, and wholesale plunder of resources, all drive at immediate returns, and threaten and cause the destruction of the long-term survival of peoples across the planet. The article below details how the inherent malevolence of the capitalist-imperialist system, is driving billions of people in despair and into struggle against it. — Frontlines ed.]
25 February 2013. A World to Win News Service. The planet is facing a serious food crisis. The unsustainable use of resources, from the land to the sea, due to the violent rush for profit, poses a great threat to humanity and the planet. But rivalry for control of food production and distribution under the profit-driven capitalist system is still sharpening, taking new forms and causing greater misery for the world’s people. The land-grab going on in Africa and other parts of the world is part of this trend.
Africa, whose people were kidnapped by the millions for the slave trade and ground down and bled under colonialism and since, a continent whose resources has been sacked for centuries and which has suffered so much from wars spurred by big-power rivalry, faces a new form of looting today. Corporations, private banks, pension funds and many multinational companies have grabbed fertile land all over the continent. With the connivance of corrupt and client governments dependent on foreign investment, they have secured long leases by paying as little as half a U.S. dollar per hectare per year.
Although this kind of land acquisition is far from new, there has been a spectacular jump since 2008. In the following year, investors bought or leased more than 56 million hectares in Asia, Latin America and especially Africa, roughly 15 times more land that the yearly average in the preceding half century. (Farah Stockman, Boston Globe, 24 February 2013) Continue reading
[The revolutionary people of Nepal are once again being set aside as capitalist interests in China and India compete for control of tourism in Nepal, and former revolutionary leader Prachanda reaches for the most lucrative strings of comprador puppetry to hang from. — Frontlines ed.]
Days after reviving a controversial project to develop Buddha’s birthplace in Lumbini, Nepal, with the aid of a China-backed non-profit organization, the former leader of Nepal’s Maoist rebellion has invited India, too, to join in creating what some have derided as “Disneyland for Buddhists.” Continue reading
Part Two, titled “Arab Uprisings: Progress, But Not Yet a Revolution”, was posted at https://revolutionaryfrontlines.wordpress.com/2012/05/05/arab-uprisings-progress-but-not-yet-a-revolution/
By: Hisham Bustani
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Since the Arab uprisings were not class-based, have no philosophical backbone, and lack a leading revolutionary party to drive the movement towards defined socio-economic and political change, the ground was set for the rise of institutionalized currents that already had a substantial presence, chiefly the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist factions.
Historically, political Islam served as a close ally to Arab despotic regimes, especially in the 1950s and 1960s when it was used as a tool to confront the expansion of nationalist and leftist currents. In Jordan, for example, the Islamists were allowed to stay legally active during the period of martial law (1957-1989) while all other parties were banned. They were permitted to establish institutions, associations, banks, hospitals, schools, universities, and a huge network of social support organizations, in addition to their leading of Friday prayers and their activities in key government institutions like the Ministry of Education. The Salafi movement was completely nurtured and backed by the US and its subservient ally Saudi Arabia during the Cold War. It was used primarily in Afghanistan against the Soviets and later spread throughout the world.
It was only when Islamist groups grew too strong for government manipulation and became a possible threat that the regimes unsuccessfully tried to move against them. It was too late. The Islamists had already opened channels with the US administration, and began to present themselves as a possible, more efficient and more popular replacement for the Arab regimes.
by Anonymous on October 25, 2011
To all those in the United States currently occupying parks, squares and other spaces, your comrades in Cairo are watching you in solidarity. Having received so much advice from you about transitioning to democracy, we thought it’s our turn to pass on some advice.
Indeed, we are now in many ways involved in the same struggle. What most pundits call “The Arab Spring” has its roots in the demonstrations, riots, strikes and occupations taking place all around the world, its foundations lie in years long struggles by people and popular movements. The moment that we find ourselves in is nothing new, as we in Egypt and others have been fighting against systems of repression, disenfranchisement and the unchecked ravages of global capitalism (yes, we said it, capitalism): a System that has made a world that is dangerous and cruel to its inhabitants. As the interests of government increasingly cater to the interests and comforts of private, transnational capital, our cities and homes have become progressively more abstract and violent places, subject to the casual ravages of the next economic development or urban renewal scheme.
An entire generation across the globe has grown up realizing, rationally and emotionally, that we have no future in the current order of things. Living under structural adjustment policies and the supposed expertise of international organizations like the World Bank and IMF, we watched as our resources, industries and public services were sold off and dismantled as the “free market” pushed an addiction to foreign goods, to foreign food even. The profits and benefits of those freed markets went elsewhere, while Egypt and other countries in the South found their immiseration reinforced by a massive increase in police repression and torture. Continue reading
[Occupy Wall Street–an amorphous, programmatically undefined, and politically leaderless movement expressing the anger and discontent of millions of people, continues to grow in size and, in some places, militancy–and in debate over many issues and steps forward, while political predators hover, seeking ways to pull this massive energy into the electoral fold. This despite the fact that this movement has largely emerged from the sense that the economic and political system has shown no solutions to the ever-deepening crisis. — Frontlines ed.]
Tuesday, October 4, 2011 by Associated Press
NEW YORK – Protests against Wall Street entered their 18th day Tuesday as demonstrators across the country show their anger over the wobbly economy and what they see as corporate greed by marching on Federal Reserve banks and camping out in parks from Los Angeles to Portland, Maine.
Demonstrations are expected to continue throughout the week as more groups hold organizational meetings and air their concerns on websites and through streaming video.
In Manhattan on Monday, hundreds of protesters dressed as corporate zombies in white face paint lurched past the New York Stock Exchange clutching fistfuls of fake money. In Chicago, demonstrators pounded drums in the city’s financial district. Others pitched tents or waved protest signs at passing cars in Boston, St. Louis, Kansas City, Mo., and Los Angeles.
A slice of America’s discontented, from college students worried about their job prospects to middle-age workers who have been recently laid off, were galvanized after the arrests of 700 protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge over the weekend.
Some protesters likened themselves to the tea party movement — but with a liberal bent — or to the Arab Spring demonstrators who brought down their rulers in the Middle East. Continue reading
By Shamus Cooke
Information Clearing House July 02, 2011
With revolutions sweeping the Arab world and bubbling-up across Europe, aging tyrants or discredited governments are doing their best to cling to power. It’s hard to over-exaggerate the importance of these events: the global political and economic status quo is in deep crisis. If pro-democracy or anti-austerity movements emerge victorious, they’ll have an immediate problem to solve — how to pay for their vision of a better world. The experiences thus far in Egypt and Greece are proof enough that money matters. The wealthy nations holding the purse strings are still able to influence the unfolding of events from afar, subjecting humiliating conditions on those countries undergoing profound social change.
This strategy is being ruthlessly deployed in the Arab world. Take for example Egypt, where the U.S. and Europe are quietly supporting the military dictatorship that replaced the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. Now Mubarak’s generals rule the country. The people of Egypt, however, still want real change, not a mere shuffling at the top; a strike wave and mass demonstrations are testing the power of the new military dictatorship.
A strike wave implies that Egyptians want better wages and working conditions; economic opportunity was one of the central demands of the revolutionaries who toppled Mubarak. But revolutions tend to have a temporarily negative effect on a nation’s economy. This is mainly because those who dominate the economy, the rich, do their best to sabotage any social change.
One defining feature of revolutions is the exodus of the super-rich, who correctly assume their wealth will be targeted for redistribution. This is referred to as “capital flight.” Also, rich foreign investors stop investing money in the revolutionary country, not knowing if the company they’re investing in will remain privately owned, or if the government they’re investing in will strategically default and choose not to pay back foreign investors. Lastly, workers demand higher wages in revolutions, and many owners would rather shut down — if they don’t flee — than operate for small profits. All of this hurts the economy overall.
The New York Times reports:
The 18-day [Egyptian] revolt stopped new foreign investment and decimated the pivotal tourist industry… The revolution has inspired new demands for more jobs and higher wages that are fast colliding with the economy’s diminished capacity…Strikes by workers demanding their share of the revolution’s spoils continue to snarl industry… The main sources of capital in this country have either been arrested, escaped or are too afraid to engage in any business… (June 10, 2011).
Understanding this dynamic, the rich G8 nations are doing their best to exploit it. Knowing that any governments that emerge from the Arab revolutions will be instantly cash-starved, the G8 is dangling $20 billion with strings attached. The strings in this case are demands that the Arab countries pursue only “open market” policies, i.e., business-friendly reforms, such as privatizations, elimination of food and gas subsidies, and allowing foreign banks and corporations better access to the economy. A separate New York Times article addressed the subject with the misleading title, Aid Pledge by Group of 8 Seeks to Bolster Arab Democracy:
Democracy, the [G8] leaders said, could be rooted only in economic reforms that created open markets…The [$20 billion] pledge, an aide to President Obama said, was “not a blank check” but “an envelope that could be achieved in the context of suitable [economic] reform efforts.” (May 27, 2011).
The G8 policy towards the Arab world is thus the same policy the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank have pursued against weaker nations that have run into economic problems. The cure is always worse than the disease, since “open market” reforms always lead to the national wealth being siphoned into the hands of fewer and fewer people as public entities are privatized, making the rich even richer, and social services are eliminated, making the poor even poorer. Also, the open door to foreign investors evolves into a speculative bubble that inevitably bursts; the investors flee an economically devastated country. It is no accident that many former IMF “beneficiary” countries have paid off their debts and denounced their benefactors, swearing never to return.
Nations that refuse the conditions imposed by the G8 or IMF are thus cut off from the capital that any country would need to maintain itself and expand amid a time of social change. The rich nations proclaim victory in both instances: either the poorer nation asks for help and becomes economically penetrated by western corporations, or the poor country is economically and politically isolated and punished and used as an example of what becomes of those countries that attempt a non-capitalist route to development.
Many Arab countries are especially appetizing to foreign corporations hungry for new investments, since large state-run industries remain in place to help the working-class populations, a tradition begun under the socialist-inspired Egyptian President, Gamal Abdel Nasser that spread across the Arab world. If Egypt falls victim to an Iraq-like privatization frenzy, Egypt’s working people and poor will pay higher prices for food, gas, and other basic necessities. This is one reason, other than oil, that many U.S. corporations would also like to invade Iran.
The social turmoil in the Arab world and Europe have fully exposed the domination that wealthy investors and corporations have over the politics of nations. All over Europe “bailouts” are being discussed for poorer nations facing economic crises. The terms of these bailout loans are ruthless and are dictated by nothing more than the desire to maximize profits. In Greece, for example, the profit-motive of the lenders is obvious to everyone, helping to create a social movement that might reach Arab proportions. The New York Times reports:
The new [Greece bailout] loans, however, will only be forthcoming if more austerity measures are introduced…Along with faster progress on privatization, Europe and the [IMF] fund have been demanding that Greece finally begin cutting public sector jobs and closing down unprofitable entities.” (June 1, 2011).
This same phenomenon is happening all over Europe, from England to Spain, as working people are told that social programs must be slashed, public jobs eliminated, and state industries privatized. The U.S. is also deeply affected, with daily media threats about the “vigilante bond holders” [rich investors] who will stop buying U.S. debt if Social Security, Medicare, and other social services are not eliminated.
Never before has the global market economy been so damningly exposed as biased and dominated by the super-wealthy. These consciousness-raising experiences cannot be easily siphoned into politicians promising “democracy,” since democracy is precisely the problem: a tiny minority of super-rich individuals have dictatorial power due to their enormous wealth, which they use to threaten governments who don’t cater to their every whim. Money is given to subservient governments and taken away from independent ones, while the western media never questions these often sudden shifts in policy, which can instantly transform a longtime U.S. ally into a “dictator” or vice-versa.
The toppling of dictators in the Arab world has immediately raised the question of, “What next”? The economic demands of working people cannot be satisfied while giant corporations dominate the economy, since higher wages mean lower corporate profits, while better social services require that the rich pay higher taxes. These fundamental conflicts lay just beneath the social upheavals all over the world, which came into maturity with the global recession and will continue to dominate social life for years to come. The outcome of this prolonged struggle will determine what type of society emerges from the political tumult, and will meet either the demands of working people or serve the needs of rich investors and giant corporations.
by Derek Rosin – BASICS Issue #20 (July/Aug 2010)
16 June 2010
The British graffiti artist known as Banksy recently paid his first visit to Toronto, hitting our city with some of his signature stencil pieces. The visit coincides with the release of a new film about the artist, Exit Through the Gift Shop.
Stylistically, Banksy’s work is quite different from the culture of hip-hop graffiti that has been the dominant form of street art for the past few decades. But like the paintings of his hip-hop cousins, Banksy’s work retains its subversive quality, partly because the very act of making this type of art is considered to be a crime.
Banksy is believed to have left this piece near Dundas and Manning.
Of course, Banksy combines the underground nature of his medium with explicitly radical themes. One of his more famous works is on the wall that separates the West Bank from Israel in Palestine. Because of the wall’s effect of halting free movement, encroaching on land and breaking up communities, the people of the West Bank refer to it as the “Apartheid Wall” – a reference to South Africa’s former racist separation of blacks and whites. His response was a painting that made it look like a hole had been blasted through the wall, revealing a beautiful sunny beach on the other side. This is typical Banksy – funny, thought-provoking, dream-like, and clearly on the side of oppressed people.
His work has aroused considerable controversy, invariably raising the debate on whether he is an artist or a vandal. He is clearly both, and couldn’t be one without being the other.
(Worsening conditions of work and life have pushed the working class in China into motion. Many forms of struggle and resistance have emerged: job actions, protests, suicides driven by despair, independent union organizing efforts, networking of activists in many industries and locales, and open questioning of the post-socialist capitalist state. Along with this, foreign investors worry about how long cheap labor will be reliable in China).
The Guardian (UK)
11 June 2010
Honda Lock strike and labour unrest suggest era of cheap manufacturing in China coming to end
Chinese workers marched out on strike at a Honda parts supplier today as the swelling wave of labour unrest in the workshop of the world raised the prospect of fairer wages for local employees and an end to cheap products for western consumers. Continue reading