Quito’s streets tremble between aspiration and repression; the smell of tear gas and the shouts for freedom reverberating in equal measure from one part of the city to another. President Lenín Moreno’s State of Emergency (October 3) and curfew (October 12) give the men with guns more authority, but their violence has not broken the enthusiasm on the streets. The protests continue. Moreno’s options will soon run out. The oligarchy and the IMF – with a wink from the White House – might ask him to resign. They like their comprador to be credible. This is a triumph for the people. But now Moreno must go to the IMF. What pressure will it put on him? The battle continues. The IMF would do well to listen to leaders such as 19-year-old Argentinian militant Ofelia Fernández. Rather than promote austerity and a policy slate of regressive taxes on the poor, the IMF could urge more expenditure on public services such as transportation, health, and education. But this is not the temper of the IMF. Neoliberal policy and austerity are its contours.
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.
Since 1996, the South African indigenous community Xolobeni has 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 members 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.
On 12 September, thousands of people took to the streets across Sudan to call for the ouster of the chief justice and the attorney general. They have said that they want to see a more civilian character to the government. Faced with the determination and heroic continuation of the mass protest movement and the support of junior officers, the military junta has had to accept compromises. The military is not prepared to fully crush the movement because many junior, non-commissioned officers are sympathetic to its goals. This does not mean that the military has not used violence. It has. But the alliance has been resilient. For them, the revolutionary process has not ended.
The Industrial & Commercial Workers’ Union (ICU) – a trade union, rural peasant movement, and urban squatters’ movement – formed on the docks in Cape Town in 1919. Within a decade, the ICU had expanded across Southern Africa without regard for national borders and counted people from various African countries and the Caribbean in its leadership, as well as people who were Indian and mixed race. The largely forgotten history of the ICU is well worth recovering in a time of escalating chauvinism and xenophobia. Our Dossier #20 offers an introduction to this extraordinary popular movement.
Our first red alert — a brief two-page assessment of key crises that can be easily printed out and distributed — is on Kashmir to help shed light on the current conflict and human rights violations. Kashmir is fundamentally contested, each acre claimed by one or the other neighbouring country.