A little over a month ago, I awoke to a PBS early morning segment concerning the struggle of the Palestinian people to liberate themselves and their land from Israeli occupation and oppression. In this documentary I witnessed personnel of the Israeli military serve eviction notices to Palestinian people in Palestinian housing on Palestinian land, claiming to be taking control of the housing under the authority of the state of Israel. I also witnessed the recently built Israeli settlements being moved into by Israeli civilians as flustered Palestinian fathers, seemingly not 100 yards away on the opposite side of some sort of security fencing, had to attempt to explain to their children how it was no longer their (Palestinian) land, one even pointing to where his store used to be. Imagine trying to explain imperialism to a child who is barely old enough to tie his own shoes.
The United States and Israel, the Middle East's neighborhood bullies, seem to think it acceptable to propose 'peace' and 'tolerance' while they exploit a people and their land. They seem to think the victims should 'get over' the loss of their lands and the heartless slaughter and oppression of their people. When the victims wage armed struggle the oppressors scream "foul/self-defense" as if to say "why do you hate us so?" And in keeping with the bully analogy, of course, when a bully has historically, and is continuously oppressing a people, the bully always has to worry about retaliation. Israel has no moral ground in this scenario, at all. You stole their land and oppress their people, therefore the Palestinian people reserve the moral right to liberate themselves when and how they see fit. Trip off of this: while the U.S. feeds Israel arms as Israel takes Palestinian land, the U.S. condemns Russia for absorbing Crimea. On behalf of New Afrikans, I declare solidarity with the righteous Palestinian people!
And, of course, some Zionist Jews shall read this and cry "anti-Semitic," because to them such a claim trumps truth. Well, let me remind them ahead of them proclaiming such a factoid, the Palestinians are semites too! The definition of semite is "a member of any group of peoples (as the Hebrews or Arabs) of Southwestern Asia."
Warmongering propaganda is at high levels in the United $tates, as it seems no positive lessons were taken from September 11, 2001. It took about a decade for Amerikans to lose interest in the U.$. occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq. This contributed to almost two-thirds of Amerikans opposing Obama's push to invade Syria less than a year ago. Yet already, about two-thirds of the population now agrees with Obama that they would rather control the government in Syria than keep Amerikan journalists' heads attached to their bodies.
Militarism is driven by an economic system that is built around arms production and requires war to keep up demand. Arms shipments have increased recently to I$rael, Ukraine, Syria and Iraq where the U.$. has resumed bombing campaigns that are destroying hundreds of millions of dollars worth of American military equipment now in the hands of the Islamic State. Every strike made by either side in that war is a boon to Amerikan business.
Meanwhile, Russia has been clear that they will not let Ukraine join NATO. The United $tates and Russia are the two biggest nuclear powers in the world. Yet Obama is pushing to have Ukraine join NATO, and Amerikan anti-Russian sentiment is on the rise in support of him. Open conflict with Russia would greatly increase the already unacceptable risk of nuclear catostrophe due to militarism.
The last 15 years have proven that U.$. militarism cannot be stopped by the Amerikan anti-war movement. Rather, revolutionaries in the United $tates must focus on pushing the national liberation struggles of the internal semi-colonies in solidarity with the Third World. Campaigns like the one in support of Palestine by California prisoners are good for building anti-militarism in the United $tates.
Currently the media and Western politicians are promoting the line that the Islamic State is the biggest threat to peace globally. They are way off the mark. That role has long remained in the hands of the United $tates and its military industrial complex.
On 5 August, President Obama announced plans to send $12 billion in aid to support an electrification program for six sub-Saharan countries in Africa. This is in addition to U.S. firms investing $14 billion in banking, construction and information technology in Africa.
Are these efforts really about helping the African nations, or is it just to protect the stake certain parties have in the region? I can't help but remind myself of the economic consequences that will befall an already impoverished nation. When it comes to the class divisions, I think this new effort will only push the proletariat into deeper starvation and exploitation. As I've read in MIM Theory 12, investment from an imperialist country like the United $tates usually comes with dire consequences. Funny, not once did I hear the U.$. imperialist president speak of self-determination of all African people. This is either lip service paid to the petty bourgeoisie or when it's all said and done the "pound of flesh" which the United $tates will eventually get will come at a greater cost to those held in oppression.
The puppet governments of southern Africa gained a large victory today, but as we all know, no amount of policy or investment will really benefit the most oppressed people. This is true until all peoples' needs are met, not just profit gained for a few. It looks like more economic imperialism to hold the already poor people in bondage with the illusion of expanding the Amerikan dream. Raise! Fight! Stop U.S. imperialism!
The solution should be what can be done to empower and enable the lower class and proletariat into rising up and controlling their own destinies. Only when this is pursued will conditions improve. People from the proletariat need to understand that they have the power to educate and engage in armed struggle to gain their rights.
It's now over a decade that U.S. military intervention has plagued the Middle East. U.S. imperialism invaded Iraq for supposedly having nuclear weapons, intervened in Lybia's civil strife blaming its government for mass murder, it sent troops into Afghanistan claiming it was a terrorist training camp for Al Qaeda, and it internationally denounced Syria for its use of chemical weapons against its own citizens and Russia for intervening in Ukraine's politics. U.S. imperialism has sharpened the antagonism in this region, intervening in one way or another in the pursuit of economic interests, disregarding this region's culture and these nationalities' own path of existence.
That's why it should come as no surprise that the United $tates has offered aid and assistance to Israel, while they are in the midst of committing genocide against the Palestinian people. Some people argue that it is one-sided to just criticize the U.S. and Israeli governments for the ongoing brutal aggression in Gaza, but this is the reality of the situation in which Palestinian people live under occupied rule, denied their right to self-determination. We must also hold accountable the Amerikan masses who give favorable opinion to these governments out of "patriotic duty." Wasn't this the reason some celebrities had to recant or water down their sympathetic statements on Palestine (Rihanna and Selena Gomez among others). This is what is called First World chauvinism: believing that everything concerning the United States is righteous, and in this case also Israel by proxy. The rights of humanity should come before government patriotism.
As a USW comrade I encourage all conscious revolutionaries to expose the hypocrisy in U.S. international policies, their cronies, and the oppression of the Palestinian people. Denounce the Israeli genocide of the Palestinian people.
Free Palestine! Long live the people of Palestine!!
MIM(Prisons) adds: This is just one of a number of statements we have received from conscious prisoners outraged by the Israeli attacks on Palestine. Some prisoners have initiated a petition campaign to demonstrate their solidarity with the Palestinian people. This demonstration of internationalism from behind the bars of Amerikan prisons serves as an inspirational example for all who oppose imperialism.
July 1, Murrieta, California - Residents of this southern California town blocked three buses carrying about 140 detained migrants from Central America from entering their town. The buses were diverted to other border patrol facilities for processing and supervised release pending appearance in immigration court. These flag waving Amerikans spouted racist slogans about the destruction of Amerika brought by these "illegal" additions to their precious white community as they attacked the buses. The migrants crossed the border in Texas and were flown to California to relieve the overcrowded processing facilities in Texas by the Department of Homeland Security.
The protests were instigated by Murrieta Mayor Alan Long who called on residents to oppose the federal government's decision to move the migrants to the facility in his city. He wants the federal government to deport these migrants immediately. The Obama administration responded to the outcry by promising to cut back on the "illegal" border crossings, attempting to get $2 billion from Congress and authority to return people home faster.(1)
Already this year Border Patrol agents have detained more than 52,000 unaccompanied minors crossing the U.$. border.(2) But in spite of the media reports, this isn't just about children migrants, and we do not believe that activists should attempt to stir up public sympathy by focusing on the children. The U.$. border is an artificial restriction, put in place to protect imperialist wealth from those people who create the wealth. Migrants cross the U.$. border to escape U.$.-backed militia violence, capitalist-corporate economic devastation, brutal regimes and devastating poverty. These are all conditions that secure cheap labor for exploitation by imperialist corporations which bring the wealth home to Amerika and protect it with militarized borders. The border crossers of all ages deserve access to this wealth more than the well-off residents of Murrieta. Anti-imperialists call for open borders, and support the rights of indigenous people everywhere to enforce immigration restrictions on the imperialists who invade and steal their land and resources.
As Brazil prepares for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, it has been trying to create an image of safety and prosperity for the world to show that Rio de Janeiro is an optimum destination for both events and tourism. However, on closer inspection, what is going on behind the official facade tells an entirely different story; less than half a mile away from the sparkling beachfronts and hotels is one of the biggest shanty towns in South America, filled with filth and squalor, violence and death.(1)
The disparity between a growing number of thousands of impoverished citizens in Rio struggling to find adequate housing, employment, health care and other basic necessities, and the record-setting expenditure of $11 to 13 billion on the World Cup alone triggered huge protests less than a month before the soccer tournament begins. Homeless workers in Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest city, formed a group of 2,000 protesters who left their immense squatter camp to demonstrate outside the stadium where the opening World Cup game will be played June 12. Similar protests occurred in Rio, Recife, and elsewhere.(2)
In Rio, violent clashes broke out between police and squatters when authorities dislodged thousands of families from a newly formed favela in a complex of abandoned commercial buildings. Poor workers and their families have increasingly moved into such structures as affordable housing is becoming a rarity and rents skyrocket, yet hundreds of abandoned buildings stand empty.(3) One member of such an occupation movement put it this way: "It is a way to force distribution of income." Rubber bullets and gas were used against the squatters. Elsewhere, police and quasi-military "pacification" squads move into poor neighborhoods and favelas ostensibly to wrest control from drug traffickers. It is an attempt to drive the lumpen organizations away from these communities and restore police authority ahead of the upcoming games. But the program is controversial and has fallen under heavy criticism for using excessive force, at times killing residents. Groups such as Amnesty International say some 2,000 people die every year in Brazil in careless and violent police actions.(4) The mercenary company formerly known as Blackwater is helping provide security training in Brazil, stoking fears that the "pacification" of the slums is akin to an Iraq-style military occupation.(5)
In addition to the increasing use of militant tactics and hardware being used to "pacify" the favelas, thousands of Federal Army troops are being deployed to occupy such areas, including Rio's sprawling Maré complex of favelas. The militias will remain until July 31, after the World Cup concludes.(5) Authorities are also now promising to "secure" the slums using an elite military police squad called BOPE, a shadowy organization of highly trained special forces whose logo is a dagger piercing a skull. Meanwhile clandestine police "body dumps" have been discovered.(1)
The Brazilian government is learning that they can only push people so far who have little to nothing left to lose, culminating in widespread uprisings against state sanctioned brutality and indifference. Military equipment, personnel and tactics are increasingly being unleashed against the residents of slums in the name of increased security for the World Cup/Olympic games, while little to no prior offer of economic or housing aid is offered to the impoverished residents. The solution for the regime in power simply seems to be more repression and violence while it spends millions on stadiums and aesthetics.
The World Cup soccer tournament, like the Olympics, is a bourgeois bread and circus distraction, minus the bread. If the organizations behind these games were at all concerned about social justice or economic equality they would refrain from awarding to nations that conduct violence and economic terrorism on the poorest of their citizens the privilege of hosting their games and subsequent benefits. But history has shown time and again that such organizations are merely bourgeois capitalist lapdogs whose only concerns are self-promotion and profits for their economic masters and investors. This was shown in the blatant corruption of the Olympic committee some years back in Utah and continues unabated to this day. There can be no justice in a world where the fetishization of an officially sponsored diversionist sport occurs at the same time the cost of a single official soccer ball could feed a starving family for a month, who are also being shot at and gassed less than a mile from where such games are to take place!
Further, such militant tactics are being carried out in the name of an official battle against dangerous drug gangs, but if we are to take such justifications seriously then one would need to ignore the fact that it is the decadent culture and corrupt "war on drugs" itself of the imperialist power to the north that is mostly responsible for creating the conditions for such traffickers to exist and thrive. Especially in light of the fact that very few economic alternatives are offered to the youth of the favelas. While the bourgeois population of the United $tates provides the largest customer base for narcotics in the world, its farcical war on drugs, which it also tries to force on other nations such as Brazil, drives the prices of drugs to ridiculous levels. It's no wonder many impoverished and disillusioned people turn to trafficking. Again, the resolution is economic equality, not militant oppression.
The brutal repression of the people in Brazil for the sake of the "security" of the World Cup needs to be exposed and opposed by all who champion the oppressed everywhere. It will only come and go leaving the poor in worse condition for the expenditure of billions on such games instead of desperately needed social/economic programs. Support the peoples struggle in Brazil!
Amerikans must condemn their government's meddling in Russia's backyard. Backing fascist political parties with nuclear ambitions on the border of Russia is a recipe for death and disaster.(1) Bloodshed has already increased as a result of imperialism's maneuvers as dozens have died in clashes between protestors/opposition forces and Ukrainian security forces controlled by the parties that came to power in the February coup d'etat (the second U.$.-backed coup in Ukraine in 10 years). Interestingly, we have not heard John Kerry call for sanctions against the new Ukraine government as we did last fall when the previous government roughed up protestors, once again exposing his hypocrisy (not to apologize for the now deposed Yanukovic regime, which later killed dozens of protestors in the streets of Kiev). Europeans should be even more worried about the violence being fomented in Ukraine. While the EU hopes to benefit from U.$. militarism in the form of trade relations with Ukraine, that same militarism could bring war to their region.
While statements from president Vladimir Putin on 7 May 2014 indicated a cooling off of Russian rhetoric in the conflict, talk of Ukraine joining NATO is a major threat to Russian security. Amerikan foreign policy experts, including Henry Kissinger, have condemned the idea of pulling Ukraine into NATO. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was formed at the end of WWII as a military pact between countries opposed to the then communist Soviet Union. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, NATO has been creeping into Eastern Europe, towards Russia.
The calming words from Putin indicate that the very limited Western sanctions succeeded in not fanning the flames of inter-imperialist rivalry too high. By targetting individuals, the United $tates and Germany avoided the types of trade barriers that led to open wars between the imperialist countries in the early 20th century. And while Russian financial markets have declined in the face of this threat, the hit remains moderate.
Another reason to worry is that the U.$.-backed regime has significant participation from far right fascist parties. It is ironic that fascism finds some of its broadest support today in the very peoples who destroyed fascism in the Soviet Union's great patriotic war against Germany in the 1940s. But our understanding of fascism explains why this is so. Fascism is led by an imperialist class that feels its existence is threatened and/or aspires to surge ahead of other imperialist powers, and its mass support is among the labor aristocracy who wants their nation to rise and reap more superprofits at the expense of other countries (see our fascism study pack). Russia remains an imperialist power at odds with the West that cannot provide the same benefits to its people as countries like the United $tates and those in Western Europe. While Ukraine is not an imperialist country, there is a small class of finance capitalists backing the fascist upsurge within the current regime. The fascists are mobilizing within the national guard and are behind the recent murders of local police and civilians in the east where opposition to the new regime is strong.
With all the aid and loans being offered to Ukraine from the West, we know that large chunks of money given in the past has gone to various political parties, "election reform," and media outlets(2); something worth keeping in mind when trying to parse out what is going on during political turmoil in client states. USAID, often marketed by the government as a humanitarian agency, is behind much of this political funding and campaigning. The United $tates and Germany are adament that the planned presidential election must go ahead on May 25 as they work behind the scenes to ensure its results.
U.$. militarism, which is defined by the Amerikan economy being dependent on war and military production, must be put to an end to stop the unneccessary killings such as those in Ukraine recently and in so many other parts of the world. USAID must be exposed and opposed as a tool opposing the self-determination of other peoples around the world. The anti-Russian sentiments rising among Amerikans and the support that Putin is getting in Russia do not bode well for preventing further conflict if the imperialists decide to step it up a notch. This is a warning for us to strengthen the movement against U.$. militarism.
In November 2013, the elected government of Ukraine caused a stir for rejecting a deal with the European Union citing the overly burdensome terms of the aid package offered by the U.$.-dominated International Monetary Fund (IMF). Since we last reported on Ukraine (see ULK 36), opposition forces with Western support have implemented a regime change, ousting president Viktor Yanukovich from the country. This put a deal with the IMF back on the table. Ukrainians once again face the prospect of more wealth being sucked from their country via imperialist loans and imposed economic policies.
While opposition to the oligarchy that has ruled Ukraine has united the Western imperialists with Ukrainian fascist parties, austerity measures imposed by the IMF will threaten this alliance shortly. The new offer from the IMF will require hiking energy prices that have been subsidized by the state, one of the deal breakers cited by Yanukovich in November.
The regime change was a loss for Russian economic interests. In response, on 27 February 2014, Russian forces seized control of the Crimean peninsula, a majority Russian region of the current Ukraine state. On 6 March 2014 Crimea's regional assembly voted to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. The next day leaders of the Russian Parliament said they would support this move. The decision calls for a referendum for the people of Crimea to vote on this, scheduled for 16 March.(1)
The New York Times has made much of the battle over the right to self-determination in recent strife between the United $tates and the Russian Federation. Struggles in the Black Sea region in recent decades have been primarily inter-imperialist battles, and there is no principle behind the imperialists' actions except for their economic interests to have access to more markets, natural resources and people to exploit. Meanwhile, the proletariat's interest is defined by putting an end to this exploitation. Therefore we support the side that most threatens the control and penetration of the imperialists over the oppressed nations.
The Amerikans are saying the Russian invasion of Crimea is totally different from their meddling in Libya, Venezuela, Syria, Iran... just to name a few. But this is all posturing and a question of tactics, and the United $tates often is able to use more subtle tactics because of its greater power. In all cases it is the continuation of imperialist war to maintain profits.
While the situation in Crimea is still unresolved and potentially volatile as we write this, Russian officials have been quoted recognizing Kiev has gone pro-West. At the same time, Russia is talking with the IMF to get in on the Ukraine bail out.(2)
The IMF was part of the Bretton Woods project, which was organized by the imperialist countries after World War II in an attempt to prevent the protectionism and trade barriers that led to the economic crisis in the capitalist core, and drove them to war in both WWI and WWII. Many sanctions and trade barriers are being threatened in the current conflict. But, if Russia is allowed to export some finance capital to Ukraine as part of the imperialist plan for the country, and Russia gets to keep Crimea under its sphere of influence, then a hot war between Russia and the West will likely be averted.
The IMF is basically run by the United $tates, which has 16.75% of the votes. Meanwhile the U.$.-led imperialist camp (U.$., Japan, Germany, France, U.K., Italy and Canada) has 43.74% of votes. Russia has only 2.39%.(3) In addition to the IMF loans, the United $tates has talked of unilateral aid, as long as Ukraine "takes the reforms it needs."(4) So Russia will see a significant loss in its economic interests in the Ukraine overall, but will likely see a small piece of the pie as serving its interests better than an all out war with the United $tates.
The framework developed at Bretton Woods has been a relatively effective solution to one of the inherent contradictions of the imperialist economic system. However, it does not eliminate inter-imperialist rivalry, it just manages it. While a war on North Amerikan or Western European soils is being avoided at all costs, it is not out of the question. It will certainly come before socialism can reach those lands. War is inherent to imperialism. And it is our position that World War III has been an ongoing low-intensity war against the Third World by the imperialists since the end of WWII.(5) In recent decades this war has been primarily waged by the United $tates. While inter-imperialist war has been secondary in this period, the struggle between different imperialist interests is an antagonistic contradiction that cannot be resolved without ending imperialism. As such conflicts heat up, those in the imperialist countries will be reminded that imperialism does not serve their interests when it comes to the threat of annhilation in war. These conflicts also create breathing room for the oppressed nations to develop their own political interests independent of imperialism. The key to the survival of the humyn species is to develop such movements before the imperialists kill us all.
Recently the small town of SeaTac, Washington passed a ballot measure to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Across the United $tates the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) labor union has led an effort to demand $15 per hour for all fast food workers. For a 28 November 2013 strike, organizers said that there were demonstrations in over 100 cities.(1)
In 2014 the minimum wage will be going up in many states. Leading the way are Washington($9.32) and Oregon($9.10), with New York making the biggest jump to $8.00 per hour. New York City was center to the recent fast food strikes. Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress have plans for a bill this year that would raise the federal minimum from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour.(2)
Another place that minimum wage struggles made a lot of noise in 2013 was the garment industry in Bangladesh. As we mentioned in the last issue of Under Lock & Key, those workers had a recent victory in the minimum wage being raised from $38 to $68 per month. In Cambodia, garment workers have been promised a raise in the minimum wage from $80 to $95 per month. Unsatisfied, the workers have joined recent protests against the current regime to demand $160 per month.(3)
With 48-hour work weeks, garment workers are making around $0.35 per hour in Bangladesh, and $0.42 in Cambodia. Believe it or not, these are the privileged workers who have special protections because they are in important export industries. The common Bangladeshi has a minimum wage of $19 per month, which is less than 10 cents an hour.
Now, the first cry of our chauvinist critics will be "cost of living, you forgot about cost of living." Our proposal for a global minimum wage would tie this wage to a basket of goods. That means the worker in the United $tates and the worker in Bangladesh can afford comparable lifestyles with their pay. Maybe the Amerikan gets wheat where the Bangladeshi gets rice, for example. But the Amerikan does not get a persynal SUV with unlimited gasoline, while the Bangladeshi gets bus fare to and from work. To maintain such inequality the Bangladeshi is subsidizing a higher standard of living for the Amerikan.
It happens that the World Bank has taken a stab at this calculation with their Purchasing Power Parity. Using this calculation, the minimum wage in Bangladesh, which appears to be $0.09 per hour, is really a whopping $0.19 per hour.(4) So, we must apologize to our critics. The proposed minimum wage of $10 per hour would only put the lowest paid Amerikans at 50 times the pay of the lowest paid Bangladeshi if we account for cost of living.
Recently the New Afrikan Black Panther Party (Prison Chapter) accused our movement of dismissing the possibility of revolutionary organzing in the United $tates because we acknowledge the facts above. Just because struggles for higher wages, and other economic demands, are generally pro-imperialist in this country does not mean that we cannot organize here. But revolutionary organizing must not rally the petty bourgeoisie for more money at the expense of the global proletariat. Besides, even in the earliest days of the Russian proletariat Lenin had criticisms of struggles for higher wages.
While we expressed doubts about Chokwe Lumumba's electoral strategy in Jackson, Mississippi, we remain optimistic about the New Afrikan Liberation Movement's efforts to mobilize the masses there. Organizing for cooperative economics and self-sufficiency is a more neutral approach to mobilizing the lower segments of New Afrika than the SEIU clamoring for more wages for unproductive service work. While our concerns rested in their ability to organize in a way that was really independent of the existing system, creating dual power, the SEIU's begging for more spoils from the imperialists does not even offer such a possibility. To really address the inequalities in the world though, we must ultimately come into conflict with the capitalist system that creates and requires those inequalities.
One agitational point of the fast food protests has been that 52 percent of the families of front-line fast food workers need to rely on public assistance programs.(1) One reason this is true is that most fast food workers do not get to work 48 or even 40 hours a week. Throw children and other dependents in the mix and you have a small, but significant, underclass in the United $tates that struggles with things like food, rent and utility bills. Most are single parents, mostly single mothers. Collective living and economic structures could (and do) serve this class and can offer a means of political mobilization. The Black Panthers' Serve the People programs and Black houses (collective living) are one model for such organizing. But state-sponsored programs and the general increase in wealth since the 1960s makes distinguishing such work from working with imperialism a more daunting task.
The campaign for a global minimum wage has little traction among the lower paid workers in the United $tates, because they do not stand to benefit from this. This is a campaign to be led by the Third World and pushed through international bodies such as the World Trade Organization. We support it for agitational reasons, but don't expect mass support in this country. It allows us to draw a line between those who are true internationalists and those who are not.(5)
Any campaign working for economic interests of people in the imperialist countries is going to be problematic because the best economic deal for them will require teaming up with the imperialists, at least for the forseeable future.