The Political Economy of Ebola

[Arrogant claims that “there is no alternative” to capitalism explode when held up to stubborn facts like the spread of Ebola in Africa–a disease whose most damning feature is that the racist profit system requires that an entire continent be kept in a state of permanent vulnerabilty, because the resources which could solve the scourge of this disease are tightly held for profitable pursuits and issues closer to the hearts of the privleged.  The people deserve, and, in time, will create a system based on our common interests and needs, (which will put the profit-oriented inhumanity of today in museums for generations of bewildered people to study.)  —  Frontlines ed.]
Ebola is a problem that will not be solved, because it isn’t profitable to do so.

Joseph Ferdinand Keppler / Library of Congress

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.”

Continue reading

West Indies: Economic Historian Hilary Beckles on the Struggle for Justice, Rights and Reparations

Sunday, June 9, 2013

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

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

The global rush to grab land and other resources

[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

Update: Nepal’s Buddha-“Disneyland” project amid regional contention of India and China

[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.]

Nepal’s Prachanda wants India in on development of Buddha’s birthplace

“Nepal, China and India should come together and form a strategic partnership” through $3 billion tourism initiative, says Maoist leader.
, Global Post, November 9, 2012
 
Buddha birthplace
[Boudhanath, one of the world’s largest stupas, is shown illuminated on the occasion of the 2547th Buddha Jayanti, or Buddha’s birthday, May 16 in Lumbini, Nepal. Stupas are dome-shaped structures that serve as a Buddhist shrines. The village of Lumpini is known to the world’s Buddhists as the Buddha’s birthplace. (Paula Bronstein/AFP/Getty Images)]

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

The Islamist Complex: Will the Left Rise to the Challenge?

“So why fear the Islamist rise? Let the Islamists rule, and fail. Let the Islamists expose their opportunist positions on imperialism and Israel. Let the Islamists contradict their double speech on liberties by suppressing social freedoms, arts and literature. Let the Islamists maintain the capitalist model which will leave impoverished Arab populations with no hope. Exposing the Islamist shortcomings will aid the formation of a true unashamed secular, leftist, and anti-capitalist current, which will be forced to present theoretical arguments, confront reality and deliver answers and programs.”
This is Part Three of a series by Hisham Bustani, “One Year After the Arab Uprisings.”
Part One, titled “The Failure of the Arab ‘State’ and Its Opposition” was posted on revolutionary frontlines at https://revolutionaryfrontlines.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/the-failure-of-the-arab-state-and-its-opposition
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/

A young boy waves a black flag inscribed with Islamic verses at a rally of Tunisian Salafi Islamists in the central town of Kairouan 20 May 2012. (Photo: Reuters – Anis Mili)

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.