News of struggles and conflicts from Africa, Asia and Latin America is not always easy to find. A general strike in India is not reported in the corporate press, neither is the murder of a human rights activist in Central America nor indeed is news of great humanitarian interest from the multilateral organisations (such as the agencies of the United Nations). As the world’s media gets more and more homogenised by the interests of corporate ideology, more and more news about the world’s peoples vanish. There is so little basic information, for instance, about world hunger and about the fights to feed the hungry. We are not interested merely in the conflicts and the suffering. We are equally interested in the struggles of people to address these broad challenges.

We, at the Tricontinental, will send out a weekly newsletter, a curated note with information from one part of the world, that will offer a window into some of the struggles and conflicts of our time. The newsletter will be available by subscription – and it is free.

To find out more about the newsletter, or to send us stories that you believe we should cover in it, please write to [email protected]. We do not promise to use each and every one of your suggestions, but we do welcome them. If you have objections to anything we run, please let us know. There might be times when we might publish your criticism as part of our mandate to stimulate debate.

 


There is a geography to human suffering; one that subordinates the well-being of the majority of the world’s people to the interests of a small handful billionaires. In this world, the powerful not only control social wealth; they also control the public policy discussion — and what counts as intellectually correct. In this world, solutions to prevent human death and suffering are forgone in order to invest in developments that further the wealth and comfort of the few. Over the past few decades, pressure from institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank as well as from commercial banks has narrowed the scope for State intervention against poverty. The general theory is to hope that poverty can be made history through philanthropy and charity. All eyes turn to the billionaires, hoping that they will donate their wealth to eradicate the imbalances in the world. But these donations are meagre, their impact inconsequential. Above all, this theory fails to ask why people are poor, precisely because it is the poverty of the masses that generates the wealth of a handful of billionaires.


Relations between Russia and China have reached an ‘unprecedented level’, in the words of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Why have Russia and China cemented this new arrangement? First, they have been brought together by the long-term push by the United States and its allies to prod at the sovereignty of both China and Russia. Second, the United States has attempted to get China to surrender its economic advantages to US firms, which has led to the ongoing trade war. Following the expulsion of Russia from the G8 and sanctions on the country, Russia, which had sought to be part of Europe since the fall of the USSR, turned Eastwards. Seeking to break from this reliance on Western markets, China experimented with transfer payment schemes within the country in order to increase domestic demand and began to develop new markets. For the past two decades, China has openly called for the creation of a multilateral world order to balance out the unilateral order produced by the West after the fall of the USSR. In this context, a US-led hybrid war continues to attempt to impose its dominance in the region, only bringing Russia, China, and its regional allies closer together.


The chains shackled around the working class are not merely material. These chains also creep into the mind, suffocating the ability of most human beings from having a clear understanding of our world. Suffocated, the workers (who were formerly adherents of socialist and communist movements) move towards fascism. In the early twentieth century, Antonio Gramsci would write that they came to the fascist parties not because of clarity, but because of their contradictory consciousness. We are in difficult times, with the scales of history favouring the far-right – including forces that have divided our societies along these social hierarchies, such as caste and race, nationality, and religion. What is the antidote to these ideologies and institutions of social hierarchy? To build institutions of the people – including trade unions and community organisations. In the midst of the global rise of neo-fascism, which has succeeded in exploiting such divisions, K. Hemalata of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions talks forcefully about the need for trade unions to take up issues of social hierarchy (patriarchy, caste, and fundamentalism) and to organise workers where they live, not just where they work.


In a bunker in the White House, US President Donald Trump fiddles his thumbs. His advisors – John Bolton and Mike Pompeo – want him to annihilate Iran. He agrees with them but cannot decide. On Twitter, he has declared war; but his hand hovers over the orders, which he has not yet signed. But he could – at any moment. The recent escalations unfold in a context in which US has been waging a hybrid and informational war against Iran for over a decade— a war that seeks to strike at the confidence of a people. It is to cause dissension and chaos, raise the level of fear and paralyse the country. But, in the midst of accusations that seek to portray Iran as an aggressor, we would do well to remember the tales of history, from the CIA-backed coup (1953) to more recent US interventions across the region in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon.


Recent evidence has emerged about the collusion of the lead judge and the lead investigator in the prosecution of Lula thanks to excellent reporting from The Intercept. The political motivations are now on the record: they, on behalf of the oligarchy, did not want Lula – who remains hugely popular – to be the 2018 presidential candidate of the Workers’ Party (PT). Clarity now emerges around the political persecution of Lula. But what is still blurry for many is the actual case against him. The details of his case remain murky, with many who sympathise with Lula unsure of how to understand the corruption charges and his apparent conviction. This newsletter is dedicated to providing a primer on Lula and the case against him. The persecution of Lula is a story that is not merely about Lula, nor solely about Brazil. This is a test case for the way oligarchies and imperialism have sought to use the shell of democracy to undermine the democratic aspirations of the people. It is the methodology of democracy without democracy, a Potemkin Village of liberalism.