|Posted on June 4, 2020 at 9:33 PM||comments (437)|
Don't wanna hear one more talk show host confess what they're just learning now about oppression against people of colour. They can be heard telling "us" (?ASSUMPTIONS!) that we have to pay more attention and be more sensitive. Making pledges to (finally) use "their platforms" (very rich and privileged) to listen to black and brown people and help making change happen. Really? They didn't know about the difficulties facing working people of colour and migrant workers before? Just had dinner and hope I can keep it down.
Understanding racism in North America and Europe takes adopting a historical perspective to understand European colonialism. especially the master of racist doctrine, bureaucratic rule, force against "the other" and forced assimilation, British colonialism. Leaders must acknowledge this history if they are to make changes. Some have begun to here in Canada and a few other locations, such as New Zealand, but it is not enough.
I also object to racialized intepretations of events and behavior, from any angle. Racism is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it is a tool of the oppressor to keep people divided and diverted. Relations are so extensively racialized in some loci such as the USA that it is hard to propose non-race explanations. Whatever one's colour, racism is often an excuse or a cited cause for things not working out. People generally have learned it from a variety of sources. It is deeply ingrained in the consciousness. On the other hand, not recognizing the history and not seeing that age-old oppression bearing down on certain sectors because of their place of origin, language, colour and class position is damaging. Race is not real but racialization is. Racist policy and discourse are real. Socially, race is relevant even though genetically it is not. The power relations, the history of one sector beating down others so as to raise themselves up, is true. It does not just happen in the West. Forms of chauvinism, whether religion or nation-based, is a reality of any imperial system, whether monarchical or corporate, colonial or neo-colonial.
Racism should not and cannot be addressed as a separate problem from the problem of imperialism and oppression against gender and class. There are elements actually complicit in the oppression who may have a black or brown identity but are very happy to have achieved, by hook or by crook, high status and privilege. They want to talk about their oppression as people of colour or a family history originating in Africa. Feminism poses the same problem. True, violence and discrimination cut across class and unity among the sufferers can be achieved to make certain points. All the same, a social analysis that does not see class and admit to empire will fail.
Why hasn't more legislation to reduce police brutality against people of colour and alleviate the oppression of the most oppressed in the rich countries been realized despite the decades of abuse? If it is a systemic problem, then it cannot be solved by tweaking the law. If it is a systemic problem then it is about democracy, attaining state power and taking the reins of power to reconfigure society and its teachings.
Why to the racial tensions linger, despite all the talk, changes in law, rise of role models, sharing of knowledge...? The answer is the same in the case of women and the poor: there is a lack of (1) political knowledge and orientation and (2) organization. The people need political education informed by experience on the ground, grass roots organization and mobilization in appropriate actions designed for the time and place and means.
We all need fundamental change to resolve many problems, racism being one, and others being exploitation of working people, inequality and poverty, plunder of indigenous lands, war and destruction of culture and heritage, etc. Systemic change takes political awareness and organization by the people for a new way.
|Posted on June 1, 2020 at 1:30 PM||comments (14)|
Empires are always calling upon the people to make sacrifices of themselves for the empire. The demand is framed as a duty. It appeals to the altruistic tendencies of people and good people find themselves complying out of concern and to feel good.
I question the ideal of sacrifice of both old empires and new. An underlying assumption of it is that many people are dispensable, which is itself grounded in the premise of inequality. From this perspective, inequality is a necessity and even natural. In this world view, there is a desrving elite who merit privilege and subservience from the rest of the population. I say nuts to the whole vision!
Sacrifice is a key word in Armistice Day ceremonies, dubbed Remembrance Day in the British Commonwealth, the network of former and lasting colonies conquered and run by the British Empire into the 20th century and longer. We are to remember and honour the sacrifice of soldiers and other military personnel who have done their duty for the state and a "way of life." Coloured in comforting hues of "democracy" and "freedom", "way of life" is the norms and rules of empire. They express shallow gratitude for sacrifices of the past and call for further sacrifices.
Today empires are private holdings that seek exponential growth of wealth for a smaller and smaller strata that claim the right and ownership of the most enjoyment, materials, status and respect. They enslave others in one way or another: force, debt, starvation, threats, deals and favours, They protect themselves with armies, massive weaponry, technology, spin doctors, lies, murder and intimidation. Their systems are suffocating and confining webs that hold back social progress by greed and bullying and snuff out joy with pain.
Austerity measures that cut and deny health, education and social welfare services are deemed economic necessities. The people must sacrifice their bodies, families, rights and pleasures for their economy, which they describe as the greater good. It is as if there is only one kind of economy, the kind wherein they rule and oppress others to maintain their rule. However, the labour, production, land, culture and reproduction of all is the whole economy; it is not just some dominating corporations that suck up investments from smaller contributors and state treasuries while workers and nature are plundered and exploited. There are other models, ones in which production is planned according to priorities of life, and surplus is distributed equitably, according to need and merit.
The management of the coronavirus pandemic is done with the same approach. The people are to accept that health care systems are inadequate, that there is no disaster planning and under-stocked supplies and under-paid and insufficient staff to meet all the peoples' needs. Right away, authorities laid the bulk of responsibility on the people, demanding that we either lock ourselves down or face grave illness and death for the good of this society. It has been described as a moral imperative. Of course, without adequate health care materials and services, the safest thing has been to stay home. Those working in the designated essential services have been described as heroes because they are willing to sacrifice themselves. Is so much sacrifice necessary? No. Countries with well developed public services and emergency management plans have demonstrated that risk of infection and incidence of death as a result of this virus could be low everywhere, were such services and plans available everywhere.
|Posted on May 27, 2020 at 3:45 PM||comments (11)|
OPPOSE THE US IMPERIALIST STRATEGY OF REGIME CHANGE!
ORGANIZE TO STOP US IMPERIALISM AND BUILD A BETTER WORLD!
The global scenario: acute crisis and inter-imper contradictions. The COVID-19 pandemic has conflagrated it ILPS studies of state responses to the pandemic conffirm the disasters wrought by neo-liberal austerity and privatization policies which have crippled health care systems and put workers in even greater peril around the world. The military-industrial complex, the engine of monopoly capitalism, including big pharma, seek to exploit the crisis, destroy progress and steal more resources from state, natural environment and labour to keep profits flowing. They demand that the workers sacrifice themselves for the well-being of a few, to give up their livelihoods or risk direct contamination on the job in conditions which have been underpaid and unsafe all along. As usual, the most oppressed, poor and vulnerable populations are suffering the most.
Meanwhile, tensions among the imperialist states run high and the US keeps punishing states that do not comply with the US imperialist model and policies by maintaining cruel sanctions, depriving whole populations of medicine and food. Neither has the US and its allies relented its militarization, threats and active military engagements from Syria to Venezuela. It continues to support the most reactionary regimes such as those of the Philippines, Israel and India in order to attain their narrow and anti-social goals.
The situation is driving working people to organize community systems to cope while they raise more questions, voice objections and act politically. The ILPS has called for a week of anti-imperialist activities as one step in uniting and building the anti-imperailst movement for a better way. This follows the development of its international and chapter-wide education programs to discuss and enhance understanding of the crisis informed by Leninist analysis and organization principles in this year of Lenin’s 150th birthday.
Commission 4 operates on the principle of just peace, which is peace with guarantees of social, economic and political justice. The peoples resist imperialism and reactionary, oppressive regimes, rightfully refusing to give up until their demands for land, political and social reforms are properly addressed. In fact, we urge that the people step up their education, organization and mobilization to stop imperialism and win just peace according to local conditions and in whatever ways are currently at their disposal.
Though its own society is crumbling, its people rising in anger and its global influence waning, the US is still the biggest military force charged with defending the monopoly capitalist system. It is the center of the world arms trade. It has a nuclear warhead stockpile of over 6,000 and has produced some 70,000 since 1945. Its rivals, Russia and China, have likewise kept and produced thousands. The US has at least 700 military bases around the world and sharing or visiting agreements in more locations. It has proxies and satellites such as Australia, Canada, Turkey and Colombia provide resources and act on its behalf. With a 2020 military budget of some $800 million, robbing its people of guaranteed public services and decent living conditions, it demands other states give up funds and other resources and put their own people in harm’s way to supply its war machinery, for which inhumane domestic austerity programs have been intensified.
The context of all-sided crisis of the global system and the major imperialist powers has inspired the US to adopt a multi-faceted, aggressive strategy, often dubbed “hybrid war, ”often cloaking these destructive practices in terms such as 'counterinsurgency' or 'overseas contingencies operations.' That is the fierce and relentless repertoire of tactics including WMD, bio-weapons, xenophobia, economic coercive measures, cultural assault, media and psy-war, cyber warfare, espionage, deals with crooks and murderers, and political interference and manipulation. Politically, the US and company are leaning further to the Right, away from bourgeois democracy, social development, law and science. In desperation, they are collaborating with reactionary, fascist and terrorist elements while they try to bend the law and the truth.
In a recent webinar hosted by activists in the US, Carlos V. Ron Martinez, Vice-Chancellor of Venezuelan Foreign Affairs for North America, spoke about “why the US is obsessed with Venezuela.” He explained the two main reasons for the US’ desire for regime change in Bolivarian Venezuela: the nationalization of its oil industry and its independent foreign relations with states such as China, Russia and Cuba. Bolivarian policies rub against the geopolitical norms and policies that the US imperialists and its allies prefer. [Notes from a webinar entitled “An Inside View of Venezuelan Resistance to US Imperialism and How to Build International Solidarity” recorded on April 23, 2020 and uploaded to the Facebook page “Stop the Machine! Create a New World!”]
The Bolivarian government uses the oil industry as the “motor of its economy” to help the people. The late President Hugo Chavez revived OPEC discussions independently and began reversing privatization by renationalizing its oil industry in 2001. He renegotiated the terms of contracts with big private players such as EXXON in 2007. When world oil prices were dipping in 2013, President Nicolas Maduro reopened OPEC discussions. That is when US President Obama started imposing coercive economic measures against Bolivarian Venezuela by Executive Order. These sanctions have since intensified. Today some $5 billion are frozen in various banks out of allegations of corruption and $30 billions of revenues have been lost from the Venezuela state corporation’s sister company in the US, Citco, which the US overtook. Thus, the capacity of the renewed state to provide and build services for the people has been drastically reduced. The people cannot acquire daily necessities because of the sanctions. It makes coping with COVID-19 especially hard. [ibid.]
Vice-Chancellor Martinez describes this “bizarre context” wherein the US is employing a “maximum pressure strategy” to force the Bolivarian government to change. It has tried to take advantage of the switch in government and COVID-19. It is backing the most reactionary elements lead by Juan Guaidó who block discussions with all the opposition parties in the Venezuelan national assembly, while the US is threatening military intervention unless President Maduro accept its “transition plan” to have Maduro step down and a coalition government chosen by the US take over. It has even proposed this plan to the UN . It also continues its provocations, such as the outrageous, baseless indictment against the Maduro government for supposedly trafficking narcotics. “This [strategy] is basically overthrowing a government,” says Martinez. The US will not rule out a full scale, all-out military intervention. He describes “the biggest military mobilization in 30 years” going on in the waters surrounding Venezuela, in addition to land border incursions by mercenaries. This scenario of “hybrid war” poses a “very dangerous situation” for the peoples in Venezuela and the whole region. His government is calling for the US to step aside and allow parliamentary discussions to proceed in order to smooth out internal conflict. [ibid.]
West Asia (aka Middle East) is rife with conflict because of the long and brutal history of British colonialism, which the US inherited. The US and its partners in crimes against humanity including local reactionary leaders want to ensure that (1) transnational corporations have access to the oil and other industries, and (2) national independence and social liberation are thwarted. They are hostile to nationalized industry and social reforms, not just socialism. The Turkish state enjoys the support of its NATO allies in its barbaric campaigns to subdue labour and crush Kurdish self-determination movements in Turkey and Syria. Iraq remains in turmoil with Islamic state and NATO forces actively present trying to frustrate Iraqi independence. The US is constantly challenging Iran for its independent policies. The US, Canada and European states support Saudia Arabia’s attacks on Yemen, which is destroying Yemeni society and causing famine. (Canada has made deals to supply the Saudi military.) Since at least 2011, the US supported by its allies and mercenaries, and Islamic state terrorists have been assaulting Syria. Today part of Syria is occupied by Turkey and Israel. Millions of displaced Syrians have fled and are languishing in refugee camps with little protection from COVID.
Despite the US’ hypocritic claims about democracy, human rights and international law, US imperialism and reaction oppose Syria’s struggle for sovereignty and independence. Speaking in a webinar hosted by Sanctions Kill on May 9, 2020, the Syrian Ambassador to the UN, Bashar Ja’afari, explained that the “punitive and unlawful,” “unilateral, coercive measures” (i.e. sanctions) impede the Syrian government’s functions to support the health care sectors and finance responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Never endorsed by the UN Security Council, the illegal sanctions have been blocking bank transfers and freezing Syria funds abroad. Price inflation has resulted. Trade and humanitarian assistance is greatly restricted, except that the US has allowed aid to reach terrorist factions in the west and north. Also, the EU refused entry to a Syrian aircraft sent to retrieve Syrians in Europe on May 9. Ambassador Ja’afari sums up the multi-pronged strategy of US-led imperialism as being “health terrorism,” “financial terrorism,” “education terrorism,” and “media terrorism” in addition to military action. [Click on the Facebook or Youtube video link on https://sanctionskill.org/resources-2/]
“All Arab lands are under some form of colonialism today,” said Palestinian activist and writer Khaled Barakat during a webinar broadcast on May 16. The webinar was hoted by ILPS member Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network [https://www.facebook.com/SamidounPrisonerSolidarity/]. After invading and destroying Iraq society, the US wants Iraq, an intersection of various nations and conflicts, to also serve as a second control in the region. Barakat elaborated that Israel, far from having evolved as a nation-state historically, was manufactured by British colonialsm and maintained by US neo-colonialism (aka present-day imperialism) expressly to serve capitalism and Western imperialism. It is a settler colonizer. US-led imperialism supplies Israel with the arms and technology for it to be the strongest power in the region capable of protecting capitalism and maintaining reactionary rule, said Barakat. “Israel is a deathtrap,” asserted Barakat, one that desires to perpetuate conflict. Israeli reactionary and US imperialist discourse fog up the reality that Israel occupied Palestine. Religion is not the source of the conflict, as three religions have always existed in the Palestinian population. The Israel state always gets in the way of dialogue and cooperation in the region. Peoples’ self-determination movements, such as those in Egypt, Lebanon and Tunisia, have really just begun recently, claimed Barakat, with the only measure of success so far being Tunisia.
The region is a pivotal arena of international struggle. It is important to work together to build the anti-imperialist struggle and aim to build socialist societies that do not oppress the peoples. This way, anti-imperialists can push national liberation movements, at their own pace and according to each set of circumstances, unite with sectoral struggles, and march forward towards freedom and peaceful co-existence with social justice.
On August 5, 2019, India clearly unmasked its imperialist face to the world. The Modi government in India revoked Article 370 of its constitution that had allowed the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOK) a certain amount of autonomy: their own constitution, a separate flag and freedom to make laws. From that day onwards, the IOK has been under siege of the Indian military. More than 700,000 Indian troops have been deployed to the region, with the people of IOK facing a fresh onslaught of brutal killings, harassment, and persecution. The region has been completely cut off from all types of communication including mobile, and internet services.
Kashmiri activists believe that the fascist Indian government is now following Israeli Zionist strategies to subjugate Kashmiri freedom fighters, which is well proven by statements by Indian officials. A Muslim majority area, the IOK faces fresh waves of killings with the ultimate goal of bringing in Hindu Indian settlers to change the demography as is happening in Occupied Palestine. There have been blatant statements about purchasing land in Kashmir and diverting foreign investments to the region. As part of the multi-polar world where imperialist powers are vying to annex and occupy territories, the fresh onslaught on IOK is part of the open race for control of raw materials, labor and markets. Rich in its natural bounty, the Kashmir is a key target for many reasons including its geo-political positioning.
There is little doubt that India is simultaneously flexing its muscles towards China, which also claims territorial rights to parts of IOK. This is also part retaliation to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) agreement between China and Pakistan, the starting point of the corridor being Gilgit, and is considered by India to be part of the disputed territory of Azad Jammu and Kashmir that is supposed to be under Pakistani control.
India’s imperialist policies in IOK cannot be viewed solely on their own merit and need to be understood in the light of the current strong ‘bonding’ between fascist regimes of United States of America and India. Trump’s trip to India was an open acknowledgment of their combined political and economic ambitions in the Asia region, referred to as the Asian Century, which is where the future growth lies. No doubt, it’s the US hegemonic agenda and military power which India is counting upon for its aggressive posture in South Asia.
The struggle between capitalist and people movements not only in Kashmir but across South Asia is rising where the various states, through nation-state lenses, are trying to divide the people’s movements and nullify their aspirations of national liberation. The test of time is not to fall sway to the slogans created by fascist regimes that foster religious and national divides, but to come together on the basis of collective peoples’ solidarity demanding social justice and long-lasting peace. This is no doubt only possible by engaging in resistance against monopoly capital.
CALLS TO ACTION
The imperialist system is the root of most of the major problems facing the people. It is imperative that the people rise together against it with a vision to constructing a new way, according to the people’s will and present regional conditions.
Organize, unite and mobilize to stop imperialism! Deactivate all WMD! Oppose the arms trade!
End all general economic coercive measures! End the occupations now!
Down with fascism and militarization! Just peace!
|Posted on May 17, 2020 at 6:03 PM||comments (16)|
I have been thinking about the perspective of working at home and spending more time at home. For some three centuries, Westerners have gotten used to working mostly outside the home. The distinction between private and public has widened, as a consequence. Even farming has been industrialized and monopolized, so that farm work is often outside of one's home and for someone else. Work has been for somebody else or at least for a business rather than a central activity of the home from an employee or business person's perspective.
This transformation has coincided with the devolution of communities. Aware of the loss of benefits associated with community, some citizens have been making efforts to restore communities or build new ones. This helps local economies, culture, relations and health.
Of course, the home has remained central for the caregivers, the spouses or hired personnel making the home life and nurturing children, disabled and elders. The roles of caregivers has thus been perceived as in the background of mainstream life and not central to the economy. This, too, has required some reality checking and consciousness-raising.
It is interesting to observe how people recently persuaded or forced to stay at home have received and interpreted the change. Largely, it seems to be have been difficult for many, so difficult their health is in jeopardy. It is a psychologically frustrating and confounding adjustment. Identities have been based so much on the idea of an employee or business person living mostly externally to their home life that people are uncomfortable.
In tandem with the external work life has been the notion of "going out," socializing and seeking entertainment outside the home. This is hard for the petit-bourgeois and bourgeois mindset who have been used to real or imagined petit-bourgeois or bourgeois budgets. (Actually, acting out the delusion had weighed down many such folks down with huge debt loads before the pandemic.) Either because venues are boarded up or incomes inadequate, this aspect of the lifestyle, with exercise at fitness centers and seminars at institutions and performances at auditoriums, is missed by many of those socio-economic strata. Their identity is apparently bound to such activities.
For myself, a semi-introverted personality with a set of circumstances causing me lots of time at home while studying, working part-time or being unemployed, remaining at home for much of the time is normal. I have not had much of a budget or desire to do the big shows or fancy programs regularly. Except for all the meetings on the internet by use of the computer, this situation has not been so tough or alienating.
I wonder how many people feel that way. It seems some may have come to prefer work at home: it must be a financial relief as long as income generating work can be done at home, since the commute adds costs and time.
|Posted on May 12, 2020 at 2:33 PM||comments (7)|
Good tips for staying positive and on course in life.
9:252020-04-06 · 13 THINGS MENTALLY STRONG PEOPLE DON'T DO by Amy Morin
|Posted on May 6, 2020 at 4:07 PM||comments (6)|
Statement of the VenezuelaPeaceandSolidarityCommittee of Vancouver
DEFEND VENEZUELA AGAINST MERCENARIES ATTACKS!
The Venezuela Peace and Solidarity Committee of Vancouver (VPSC) steadfastly defends the Venezuelan Bolivarian government's swift action to put down a contingent of armed mercenaries on May 3. It has the right to defend its borders and territories, and act against attacks on its people and space.
The foreign affairs ministry of Venezuela reports: "In the early hours of May 3, 2020, the Venezuelan Armed Force and the National Bolivarian Police repelled the incursion of a group of armed mercenaries into the coastal state of La Guaira. The mercenaries travelled from Colombia in speedboats and were planning, together with local accomplices, to initiate terrorist operations aimed at government institutions and state officials, according to testimony given by those captured." It states that eight of the mercenaries were killed and two captured in a battle. Venezuelan forces remain on high alert.
The Foreign Affairs desk further reports that the renegade retired Venezuelan, General Cliver Alcalá, is probably connected to this mercenary action as its intelligence has been learning that Alcala has been commanding the training of mercenary groups for months with the explicit aim to launch terrorist attacks including assassination attempts inside Venezuela. He is tied to Juan Guaido's and Leopoldo Lopez' coup attempt on April 30, 2019 and other conspiracies.
It is well known and accepted that the US government supports Guaido and other reactionaries and encourages destabilization efforts and coups. Colombia is a NATO ally. A repressive regime that is often responsible for extrajudicial killings of civilians, Colombia is viciously intent upon snuffing out labour organizing while it engages in war with guerrilla revolutionaries within its borders. It also plays a role as a platform for US militarization and interference in the region, in it shared interest in destroying socialist formations and advances in Latin America.
VPSC thoroughly denounces US interference and demands it demilitarize and leave the region. VPSC also condemns the cruel regime of Colombia for its murders of labour and other peoples' organizers, its complicity in narcotics production and trafficking and mobilization of paramilitary and military forces against its own people while it blatantly supports transnational corporations that rob the resources. It is suspected that drug money is funding mercenary operations and coup attempts against Venezuela.
VPSC supports the Bolivarian movement and the social advances that help and protect the majority of the people in Venezuela. We join in calling for an end to the unlawful and devastating economic measures that are blocking trade and freezing Venezuela state assets. These measures cause suffering and death to Venezuelans and are especially despicable in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Long live the Bolivarian movement for social progress and human rights for Venezuelans! Down with US imperialism! US troops, go home! Down with the repressive and reactionary regime of Colombia!
|Posted on April 22, 2020 at 11:20 PM||comments (61)|
Given that the source of the COVID-19 pandemic could well be live animal markets in China, especially those selling wild animals, I have been playing a small part in discouraging wild animal markets.
There are many good reasons to close them down. First of all, numerous zoonotic diseases can easily sprout from them. In conditions of such markets are on the whole deplorable, with multiple, acutely stressed animals stacked into small cages without proper cleaning, that probability is heightened. Just do a simple "Google" to check and see images of these horrid sights yourself.
Another thing is there typical location in the center of crowded cities where foot traffic is heavy, and passersby may frequently touch the animals and the cages, accelerating the passage of viruses from animals to humans. The vendor on duty may be holding a creature to lure customers.
In addition, the wild animals languishing in these terrible markets have probably been poached and imported clandestinely. The collectors and shippers are no doubt criminals robbing innocent creatures, even endangered ones, from prohibited areas. They steal from nature carelessly and treat the terrified beings roughly, packing them into vehicles, containers and ships or rail cars to haul them long distances. They thus enter foreign countries illegally and, of course, without proper shots and quarantine. Anything could happen in this scenario. It is to invite catastrophe as much as it is inhumane.
Finally, it is about time that human societies change their relationships with nature, both plants and animals. We need to treat them better, in an informed and kind way. People need to to conserve nature and protect life and biodiversity.
For all the above reasons, I have been commenting here and there on this topic, mostly on social media and in private conversations, to advocate against the poaching, trafficking and trading of wild animals. I have also made a Facebook page, after being shocked that no-one had done it before.
I am also concerned for livestock on display in traditional street markets. The conditions and treatment of fowl, swine, etc. at these types of places need to be vastly improved in many of them. There should be more space, hygiene, care, respect and sense. They are also sources of viruses transferred from critters to people.
|Posted on April 16, 2020 at 10:53 PM||comments (114)|
THE MONROE DOCTRINE REMAINS A THREAT TO THE WORLD
-still the basis for US foreign policy regarding Europe and the Americas
Established by the US Congress over 196 years ago, the Montroe Doctrine still justifies the US' self-assigned right to dominate the Americas. It was mainly implemented to threaten European states with war should any of them attempt anew to expand their power over the Americas. However, it has great implications for all peoples of the Americas, mainly that the US assumed it ought to dominate and run the Americas.
The ambitions of the ruling elites in the US intensified throughout the 19th century into the 20th. They were keen on expanding and in direct competition with Western European powers to do so. Wrote M. Waxman about the MD in 2018, "This was drawing a red line—with an implicit war threat—even though the United States at the time lacked the military power to back it up. The United States was counting on Britain, which too wanted to keep continental European powers out of Latin America, to also intervene if necessary."(1)
Although the John Kerry, Secretary of State for the Obama administration, declared it defunct in 2013, President Trump has restored the Montroe Doctrine (MD) as a guide to ruling the Americas today. Max Friedman of American University (2017) wrote that Trump was especially keen on implementing it to keep China and the Russian Federation at bay. He is also interested on intervening in the Americas as deemed required.
While the US maintained a stance of isolationism with regards to Europe, it left a long legacy of interventionism in South and Central America and the Caribbean region. Explains Friedman, "Even in the 'isolationist' period in the early 20th century, the United States was vigorously engaged in military intervention and outright occupation of several countries in Latin America. The Marines were in Nicaragua (1912-33), Haiti (1915-34), and the Dominican Republic (1916-24)." (2)
Reuters recently reported on Trump's intention to enforce the MD (March 2, 2020). " 'Here in the Western Hemisphere we are committed to maintaining our independence from the intrusion of expansionist foreign powers,' Trump stated at the United Nations General Assembly in New York in 2018. 'It has been the formal policy of our country, since President James Monroe, that we reject interference by foreign nations in this hemisphere and in our own affairs,' he added cynically." (3) This statement reflects the high tensions between Europe and the US. It also implies its aggressive attitude toward all the Americas.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration is busy making deals with right-wing and corporate factions in Latin America and the Caribbean in order to clear a path for US-based corporations and monopoly capitalism in general by weeding out communist and socialist-leaning elements there. It has repeatedly attempted to stage coups in Nicaragua and Venezuela. It was successful in accomplishing a military coup despite the results of democratic elections against Evo Morales in Bolivia. It has operated to help orchestrate putting the Right in power in Brazil and Ecuador, while it supports right-wing terrorist governments of Colombia, El Salvador and Honduras. Canada, the junior imperialist and lackey of the US, has functioned to manage the rogue group of right-wing state leaders known as the Lima Group, because the US and its pals cannot get its way with the legitimate Organization of the American States.
However, the peoples of the Americas including the people in the US are organizing and demanding just peace. They are resisting war and the right-wing wave, despite some setbacks. In fact, several anti-imperialist and human rights conferences have been taking place. Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela offer just peace, model leadership and hope.
(3)Reprinted in the March 2020 Newsletter of the Canadian Cuban Friendship Association ("From Monroe to Trump" page 7.
(Draft article prepared for the next ILPS Commission 4 Newsletter)
|Posted on April 6, 2020 at 2:10 PM||comments (29)|
"World Turned Upside-Down" is a modern adaptation of the 17th century protest song about the Diggers' movement for land rights. The lyrics convey the assumption that a society in which the deprived majority must provide service to the privileged majority is an upside-down world much in need of righting.
It seems that the pandemic is shaking up the global system and turning things over. Suddenly, human needs have been made a priority and non-productive and destructive activities assigned lower priority.
The pandemic has made the lack of support for health care, food distribution, housing and income assistance obvious. The situation has abruptly forced a shift in social structures and state mandates. Suddenly, many activities have been made to stop to give these causes priority. The least productive economic activities are on pause, such as "cultural industries" from luxury travel and professional sports, to pop music, from beauty care and movie-making to fashion. Industries related to war have had to slow down, including aerospace development by corporations such as Boeing and Bombardier.
The present context is resulting in reduced air pollution as use of fossil fuel-powered vehicles has dropped to a minimum. Motor vehicle manufacturing and petroleum production, both big problems, have been undermined. While the price of gas at the pump has plummeted, to favour the average consumer, car manufacturing plants are starting to switch to the production of more useful items, such as medical gear.
Another affect of this crisis is the recognition of the service provided by workers in certain sectors that have suffered the lowest respect until now: janitors and housekeepers, food distributors and packers, cooks and grocery store clerks, and drivers, for example. Of course, the important roles of emergency service and health care providers has been amplified.
Social responsibility to the collective rather than individual right and privilege is taking a front seat nowadays. In this context, governments are actually working hard to govern and take care of everyone. Media has an enhanced role to supply information, rather than "conversational journalism" which has more systematically manufactured speculation and carried propaganda.
Long-time issues are glaring, such as the need to provide more support to the workers and poor in times of emergency or calamity, the need for people to consume more wisely and efficiently without depending so much on debt, building health preparedness.
Some already lucrative industries are benefiting and growing in this situation: industries such as communications technologies, medical supplies and pharmaceutical products, financing, internet shopping and food delivery industries. However, the ethos of having compassion and helping others is stronger, which they have to express. Some services and products are being volunteered and provided without charge because of this atmosphere.
If the people remain vigilant and engaged with what is happening, raising and discussing questions, and keep intervening in state affairs and media broadcasts, they will have a chance to keep some of the positive developments from this global mobilization to address the pandemic.
|Posted on April 5, 2020 at 6:39 PM||comments (275)|
I've stayed home almost all the time for a month. I began getting dreary last month, especially because of persistent dark, cold, rainy weather, the kind of which we say most days from October to February. However, I have not been bored, really.
I have been tutoring a variety of students online, which takes a lot of messaging and prep for each session. Some of my groups have been communicating a lot; we had several meetings over the past two weeks, resulting in the need for more messaging and writing of documents. I've also been taking more phone calls than usual.
Both my mobile phone and laptop showing their age lately, I knew I had to shake it to replace them before they stopped operating altogether. It turned out smoothly. I found a refurbished computer online and it was delivered by post soon after. Today I bought a phone and it is functioning well after a quick switch of SIM cards and a few steps for set-up. I feel accomplished at the success of these purchases and reboots, especially since I have never bought a gadget without getting tech service at the place of purchase. System changes and start-ups seem to be simplified nowadays.
On Thursday, I handled three hours total of teaching and phone calls with an employer, then prepared for and opened up an online meeting. We talked for 90 minutes.
The weekend is no different in terms of time and energy spent at chores, communications and maintenance. It was necessary to send out some documents I had initiated, discussed and written a few days prior. Although a morning tutoring session was canceled, I had one to give in the early afternoon. Everything seemed to happen at once, during that 1.5-hour tutorial. The computer arrived. I received work-related text messages and phone calls. A parent arrived with a pay-cheque. After the tutorial, I went to deposit the cheque and run a couple of other errands. Queues stretched for about a half a block outside the food stores and bank. People appeared frightened and tense. Medical clinic staff refused my offer of precious N95 masks, which I had been keeping for emergencies at home.
Wanting to hear the latest about the COVID-19 pandemic, I tune into the state briefings and media questioning each morning. However, all the repetitive information and questions, plus all the speculation and alarm, make me feel stressed. I have been turning off these broadcasts earlier and earlier after no further new information is announced. I can only take so much.
I resigned myself to another food run on Saturday, but vowed to hike to the supermarket during "seniors time" early in the day, when there is no line-up and plenty of stock can be found on the shelves. Mission accomplished there, I returned home to push through a load of laundry. Then it was time to turn on the new computer and, fingers crossed, activate it and the servers and other apps I most frequently use. It took nearly three hours, but went remarkably smoothly. I am using the new laptop at this moment; it is faster and more convenient than my older one, and it does not over heat like the older one.
Finally I got a chance to relax yesterday afternoon. Avoiding the news programs, I sought documentaries on Youtube. Subsequently, as dinner was heating up, I searched for CBC films. CBC has opened up its "Gem" online streaming channel for use free of charge. I found a gem of a flick, indeed: "The Red Violin", a joint project of Montreal and European film makers with Canadian stars Colm Feore and Sandra Oh among many others, as well as Samuel L. Jackson in a surprising role, and multilingual European actors of whom I have know nothing before. I recommend this movie. It follows the path of a violin from the circumstances of its creation in the 17th century to its purchase at a monastery for musical orphan boys, from its theft by Romas to its transfer to a famous and eccentric soloist in the 18th century, and from the soloist's butler transport to China where he sold it and a wealth family adopted it, through the Mao revolution and, finally, included in a recovery of old, European instruments in China and transported to an auction house in Montreal. The intriguing diversion was most welcome. I felt quite relaxed after viewing it.
I chose today, Sunday, to go for a lengthier bike ride. The weather turned fair and the rich boughs of cherry blossoms beckoned. I set out after breakfast. That's when I collected the N95 masks from a cupboard and slipped them into a backpack to give to a local nursing home. I also planned to shop for a new phone, without intending to make a purchase on this day. The intensive care nursing home and hospice lie on the other side of a school and park, an easy distance from my place. I rang the bell at the door and held out the bag with the box of masks using long tongs. The person who opened the door was very glad to get them.
At the big box "drug" store, I locked up my bike to a fence, wrapped my face in a silk scarf, and joined the queue inside the mall. I quickly spotted the Britta tap filter cartridges and picked up a couple of food items, then made my way to the electronics department. Gazing around at the fare on display, I did not think I would buy anything today. Despite my reticence at making an immediate purchase, the sight of a friendly service rep eased my trepidation enough to permit me to inquire about the phones on hand. The helpful staff assured me that switching phones would be relatively easy, without necessitating a trip to the phone network service provider; all I'd have to do was put my old SIM card into the new gadget. While I talked to the engaging fellow, a younger staff member dug around and came up with a lowish-priced model of a reliable make. I bought it.
It took under an hour to glance at the manual, plug in the new device, and install the old SIM card. (Gosh! I almost pried open the wrong slot. I started to excavate the on switch but stopped in the nick of time when I realized it was not a card port!) I have made one call and received one call; it is working fine.
The next task was getting back to this blog. I have been receiving many requests to keep writing. Thanks for all your positive comments and encouragement.
When I opened up this blog page, I had envisioned sharing some insights about the significance of this health crisis but got into an account of my last few days in "isolation." I will follow that with some observations and reflections of the crisis next time.