Mahavir Singh Bisht, Grafitti by Silo Shiv Suleman at Shaheen Bagh, New Delhi, 2020.

Scientists are wrong’, the Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano said with a warm smile on his face. ‘Human beings are not made of atoms; they are made of stories’. It is why we want to sing and draw, tell each other about our lives and our hopes, talk about the wonders in our lives and the wonders that we dream about. These dreams – this art – are what make us get up each day, smile, and go forward into the world. If you walk through the streets of Santiago (Chile) or Baghdad (Iraq) or Delhi (India), you will find that the walls and streets have become an art gallery, that the protest sites have become a music hall, that libraries have appeared on the streets, that pamphlets and leaflets are being clutched in the hands of the people as they brave the cold wind of this season. You will sing the poems, to shout out aloud, but not by yourself; that is the majesty of the protest – you will sing in a chorus of strangers who become comrades even if the notes are discordant and the lyrics are unfamiliar. Between 28 January and 2 February 2020, our Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research team and the International People’s Assembly held a Meeting on Art and Culture in People’s Struggles in Cuernavaca, México. This meeting builds on both the tradition of the art of national liberation and on the urgency of making art out of the popular struggles that now enfold the world.

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In the Ruins of the Present traces the challenges posed by globalization and what these challenges produce for our society. The first attempt to address the problems of globalization was neo-liberalism. It failed. Next came cruel populism, which expresses itself in narrow, hateful terms. It will also fail. The Left is weak – decomposed by globalization. The need of the hour is for the Left to recompose itself, to become a vital force for a fragile humanity.

Our second Notebook analyses the contemporary production process that results in Apple’s iPhone. We move from a look at the iPhone’s production to the inner workings of profit and exploitation. We are interested not only in Apple and the iPhone, but more particularly in the Marxist analysis of the rate of exploitation at play in the production of such sophisticated electronic devices. It is necessary, we believe, to learn how to measure the rate of exploitation so that we know precisely how much workers deliver into the total social wealth produced each year.

Raw minerals are needed for everyday life, but when that life is also the cost of our infrastructural needs it is time to start asking questions. Why do 60% of the world’s mining companies have their headquarters in Canada? In this briefing we provide the financial details of ten Canadian mining companies. This data becomes a corporate crime rap sheet when it is read alongside concise accounts of the most horrendous violations committed–globally–by these companies. Canadian wealth is deeply dependent on a depraved indifference to human life, an indifference seemingly shared by Canadian mining companies.

On 10 November 2019, a coup d’état took place in Bolivia. The commander-in-chief of the Bolivian Armed Forces asked President Evo Morales to resign. The police had already mutinied, and society had already been destabilised – this had been triggered by a presidential election whose results had not been recognised by the opposition and whose results had been suspiciously discredited by the Organisation of American States (OAS). Two days after Morales resigned, a largely unheard-of opposition politician, Jeanine Áñez, declared herself to be the interim president without the necessary quorum in the Plurinational Legislative Assembly, where Morales’ party, the Movement to Socialism (MAS) holds the majority of the seats.

The Indian Communist movement has experimented with various forms of people’s polyclinics, which provide free or reduced-cost health care to anyone. The epicentre of this initiative has been in the Telugu-speaking region of India, where the Nellore People’s Polyclinic alone treats 1,000 patients per day at rates 40% lower than corporate hospitals and has trained over five hundred doctors who now provide health care across the region. Our Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research Dossier no. 25 focuses on the history of the polyclinics in this region.

No such hatred marked US relations with Iran during the reign of the Shah (1941-1979). Only when an economic nationalist – Mohammed Mosaddeq – came to power between 1951 and 1953 and only when he threatened to nationalize Iran’s oil industry, did the CIA, the Shah, and the right-wing of the Iranian army – led by General Fazlollah Zahedi – move against him. But even then, they saw the communists as the threat and not the Iranian people. During that period, the Saudi kings and the Iranian Shah made common cause against popular movements and the communists; no Shia-Sunni divide bothered them.

The two terms that define our epoch are ‘crises’ and ‘protests’. The former are an outcome of a world system that has exhausted itself, while the latter are a cry towards the future. Our January dossier is dedicated to offering an assessment of the conjuncture – where is the world today? This year opens up with a detailed consideration of austerity, the bipolar world order, neoliberalism’s exhaustion, and a planet of protest.

National Indigenous March, May 2016

For Colombia and for the people of Latin America, a genuine and comprehensive notion of peace has become a central axis in the dispute between neoliberalism and popular aspirations. This dossier examines the structural causes of the social, political, and armed conflict in Colombia and how the country has come to play a key role in the regional geopolitical dispute that favors the interests of the United States.

Our dossier no 22 presents the challenges confronting popular movements in Latin America and the Caribbean in the face of a new advance of imperialism, the right-wing, and neoliberal projects in the region. These policies have grave consequences for the people and have corroded the legitimacy of the governments that propel them forward, developing new processes of popular struggle, mobilizations, uprisings, protests, and resistances. In this context, it is necessary for Latin American critical thought to reflect on the methods and capacity to promote an alternative anti-neoliberal, anti-racist, anti-patriarchal, anti-capitalist subjectivity.