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.

 


On November 10, Bolivia’s President Evo Morales Ayma was removed from office. Technically Morales resigned, but the conditions for his resignation had been set by the Bolivian oligarchy. A team from the openly hostile Organisation of American States arrived and provided legitimacy for the coup with a report on the elections that was long on accusations and short on facts. Using this OAS report – fully backed by the United States – as justification, the police mutinied, and then the army (which had remained neutral) told Morales he had to resign. There was no choice. The aims of the coup are many, though none center around a concern for democracy. Rather, the coup seeks to reverse Morales’s nationalisation policies, to remove one more pole of the ‘turn to the left’ in South America, and to gain control of Bolivia’s natural resources. Such events as a coup are merely events of a longer-term structure, a long struggle between the forces of imperialism and of decolonisation. Better to let the Generals do the dirty work, while the US embassy remains unblemished, and as the aims of international capital are eventually met.


In the early years of the Soviet Republic, after the people had overthrown the Tsar and his Empire, Anatoly V. Lunacharsky wrote an essay. This great victory had to be celebrated, but – Lunacharsky warned – the tentacles of the old culture would push past the revolutionary current and continue to try and suffocate human progress. The people had to respond with their new-found power but also with joy, the energy that gives people confidence. One of Lunacharsky’s great insights is that it is in the domain of culture that revolutionary movements flounder, for it is the rigidities of old cultural hierarchies that resist revolutionary change. It is important for revolutionaries to sharpen their understanding of these rigidities and learn to overcome them, to laugh our way to a new world. In today’s world, the challenges that we face are many. How can we celebrate a “Green Revolution” that exacerbates inequality and leaves intact the social relations of production? How can we allow food to be thrown away when more than 820 million people in the world go hungry every day? We allow it because the system says that only those with money can eat. The system – capitalism – is inhumane to its core. It suffocates laughter.


One hundred years ago, M. K. Gandhi offered a simple measure for civilisation – ‘the test of orderliness in a country’, he said, ‘is not the number of millionaires it owns, but the absence of starvation amongst its masses’. Today the phrase remains electric, with only one emendation – not millionaires, but billionaires. According to Gandhi’s simple formula, the world fails its test. In the last week, however, we have seen electoral victories of left-leaning governments from Bolivia to Argentina and massive resistance in the streets from Chile to Iraq. These victories will face the pressure of imperialism, which narrows the ability of a left-leaning government to admit the desires of the people into the logic of governance. While – even with the narrowed ‘policy space’ – several important instruments remain with governments, these instruments are often blunted by the ‘priorities’ set by multinational organisations such as the IMF and the World Bank, by a lack of financing, and by sanctions and other threats if left-leaning governments go their own way.


On 14 October, frustrated middle school students began a protest that targeted the fee increases and, more broadly, Chile’s structural corruption. The protests have since spread both in the scope of their demands and in the size of the demonstrations. It is impossible to anticipate the spur for rebellion. In Lebanon, it was a tax on the use of WhatsApp; in Chile, it was the rise in subway fares; in Ecuador and in Haiti, it was the cut in fuel subsidies. Each of these conjunctures brought people to the streets and then, as these people flooded the streets, more and more joined them. It is important to ask why people have taken to the streets, to ask about their political orientation. In each of these cases – Chile, Ecuador, Haiti, and Lebanon – the core issue is that the people of these countries have been defrauded by their own bourgeoisie and by external forces (pointedly, multinational corporations).


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.