War is the logical outcome of a system premised on structured inequality. If the vast majority of the world’s people are not permitted to make lives of dignity, then they will rebel against their conditions. Even the most modest protests (a march) for what appear to be reasonable demands (land reform) are met by what Franz Fanon called ‘the old granite block’ and by asymmetrical violence. It is far more expensive to manage a state of repression than to create a state of equality, but for the oligarchy – the old granite block – money spent on war is far more efficacious than money spent on peace. In his monumental notes – Grundrisse (1857) – Karl Marx wrote, ‘The impact of war is self-evident, since economically it is exactly the same as if the nation were to drop a part of its capital into the ocean’. From the standpoint of society, war and repression are illogical; from the standpoint of the capitalists, war prevents social revolution and war-making produces opportunities for profit. A synonym for capitalism is the ‘permanent war economy’, whose goal is not to create security but to freeze class relations in perpetuity.
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.
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.
Since mid-September, an intense wave of protests has cascaded across Haiti. Roughly five million people – half of Haiti’s population – have participated in road blockades and marches. They demand the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse, reject any foreign intervention, and call for a resolution of the energy and economic crisis. Lack of fuel on the island is the spur. The government’s response has been to send in the police. Our Red Alert #4, sent to us by our comrades in Haiti, offers a fuller assessment of the situation on the ground.
Since 1996, activists in Xolobeni, a coastal region in South Africa, have been fighting a foreign mining conglomerate that learned that their ancestral lands happen to be rich in titanium. The anti-mining activists of Xolobeni, who have lost many comrades to hit squads, continue to struggle against this foreign company and its partners in the South African government. Given that their land is located in a global biodiversity hotspot, their struggle is the struggle of us all: it is the fight for water, soil, food, and air.
This dossier features two stories on India’s agrarian crisis. The first story is about the harsh impact of the changing climate on top of an already battered rural economy in Andhra Pradesh, where farmers are growing for seed companies in the most adverse conditions. The second story takes us to Kerala, where we find the Kudumbashree women’s cooperative, which has resiliently resisted the devastation of the worst floods in the state in nearly a century. These stories not only document the ugly side of history; we are keen as well to detect the initiatives that breathe life into a future for the planet.
At the United Nations General Assembly, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro opened the proceedings with the rather bizarre comment that the Amazon – which has been on fire for weeks – is ‘practically untouched’ and that a ‘lying and sensationalist media’ had been fanning the flames of fake news. The Amazon, 60% of which is inside Brazil, is not – Bolsonaro said – the ‘heritage of humankind’. It is Brazilian territory, he said, and if Brazil wants to cut it down, then so be it. Protests have taken place around the world against the Amazon fires, since it is well-recognised that the Amazon is one of the major carbon sinks on the planet. If there is 25% deforestation of the Amazon, then the rainforest would have reached a point of no return. At that point, the vegetation loses its capacity to regenerate and would likely devolve from a rain forest into a savannah. We are in the age of madness again, on the edge of the destruction of the Amazon, an age that calls to be brave and to be bold.