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Eye on Civil Society


British aid is helping agribusiness carve up Africa
Miriam Ross 20 April 2014

Shifting to production for export means relying on imported food, leaving people vulnerable to sudden price spikes. Food 'aid' is often the result. Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) under a Creative Commons Licence
Anxious to avoid the wrath of the anti-aid lobby, the British government has kept pretty quiet about finally meeting the target of spending 0.7 per cent of national income on international aid. Just as quietly, it is channelling millions of dollars of that aid money into a scheme to help the world’s most powerful agribusinesses carve up Africa.

What, really, did the ANC deliver? Tokenistic social policy
Patrick Bond 19 April 2014

What has the South African government delivered in 20 years? A massive welfare state with 16 million grant recipients (nearly a third of the population); 95 percent of the people served with clean water access; a rising rate of matriculation by 12th graders; a dramatic reduction in poverty?

Economia brasileira – dos “BRICs” aos “5 frágeis”
Marcus Kollbrunner 3 de Abril de 2014

O resultado do PIB (a soma de tudo que é produzido no país num ano) de 2013 registrou um crescimento de 2,3%, comparado com o 1% de 2012. Porém, vários outros indicadores apontaram para os piores resultados em uma década ou mais.

Privatization Is A Ramp For Corruption and Insouciance
Paul Craig Roberts 16 April 2014

Libertarian ideology favors privatization. However, in practice privatization is usually very different in result than libertarian ideology postulates. Almost always, privatization becomes a way for well-connected private interests to loot both the public purse and the general welfare.

Ikuphi ngempela okwenziwe nguKhongolose?
Ngaphandle kwemigomo yezenhlalakahle yokuthiba abantu
NguPatrick Bond Yahunyushwa nguFaith ka-Manzi 16 April 2014

Ikuphi okwenziwe nguhulumeni waseNingizimu Afrika eminyakeni engamashumi amabili? Izwe elikhulu elinabantu abathola imali yesibonelelo abayizigidi eziyishumi nesithupha (cishe ingxenye yesithathu kwizwelonke); abantu abafika kumaphesenti angu95 abathole amanzi ahlanzekile; ukunyuka kwamaphasa umatikuletsheni; ukwehla kakhulu kobuhlwempu?

China: 25 years since the mass democracy movement

China’s dictatorship is haunted by the prospect of a new mass revolt
Vincent Kolo (China Worker) 15 April 2014

On 15 April 1989 Hu Yaobang, the former General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, died of a heart attack. This became the start signal for one of the biggest mass movements in modern history, a movement that soon grew beyond the wildest expectations of its initiators and came close to toppling the dictatorial regime of the so-called ‘communist’ party.

South Africa’s Resource Curses and Growing Social Resistance
Patrick Bond 15 April 2014

The African National Congress (ANC), led during the 1990s by the late Nelson Mandela, is projected to be reelected in South Africa’s May 7, 2014 national election by a wide margin, probably with between 50 and 60 percent of the vote. But underneath the ruling party’s apparent popularity, the society is seething with fury, partly at the mismanagement of vast mineral wealth. The political and economic rulers’ increasingly venal policies and practices are so bad that not only did ANC elites play a direct role in massacring striking mineworkers in August 2012, but corporate South Africa was soon rated by PriceWaterhouseCoopers as “world leader in money-laundering, bribery and corruption, procurement fraud, asset misappropriation and cybercrime,” with internal management responsible for more than three quarters of what was termed “mind-boggling” levels of theft.1

From the Maidan to the Revolution?
Boris Kagarlitsky Translated by Renfrey Clarke 15 April 2014

In Ukraine, a genuine revolution is unfolding. This may seem strange, but it is something very characteristic of the history of that country. In Ukraine in 1918, workers’ protests by the “Reds” took place solely in response to actions by the nationalist authorities that had installed themselves in Kiev. The question of how progressive the regime established by the supporters of the Donetsk Peoples Republic and other movements in Ukraine’s south-east will prove remains unanswered for the present simply for the reason that the very survival of these movements is far from guaranteed. But it can already be said with assurance that there is no road back. The point of no return has been passed, not only in in the political but above all in the social sense.

Is India on a Totalitarian Path?

Arundhati Roy on Corporatism, Nationalism and World’s Largest Vote
Arundhati Roy interviewed by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now 14 April 2014

As voting begins in India in the largest elections the world has ever seen, we spend the hour with Indian novelist and essayist Arundhati Roy. Nearly 815 million Indians are eligible to vote, and results will be issued in May. One of India’s most famous authors — and one of its fiercest critics — Roy is out with a new book, "Capitalism: A Ghost Story," which dives into India’s transforming political landscape and makes the case that globalized capitalism has intensified the wealth divide, racism, and environmental degradation. "This new election is going to be [about] who the corporates choose," Roy says, "[about] who is not going to blink about deploying the Indian army against the poorest people in this country, and pushing them out to give over those lands, those rivers, those mountains, to the major mining corporations." Roy won the Booker Prize in 1997 for her novel, "The God of Small Things." Her other books include "An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire" and "Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers."

China eyes the Congo River
Baruti Amisi First Published in Pambazuka 14 April 2014

New development projects along the Congo River are bound to restore colonialist structures and looting of resources in the DRC. These will benefit elite companies and countries, but fail to prioritise poverty and access by the poor - serving only as a repressive tool to locals.
The Congo River watershed feeds not only Africa’s second longest river (after the Nile), but is also a vital site of struggle over BRICS’ role in Africa. In coming decades, both western and BRICS multinational corporations will use hydropower at what will be the world’s largest dam, financed by the World Bank, London markets and China, to fuel intensified mineral extraction.

Which way forward for the BRICS in Africa ?
Patrick Bond First Published in Pambazuka 11 April 2014

This week’s special issue takes a gloomy look at the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and their subimperialist extractive tentacles around the African continent. Social justice movements must start with a common critical analysis of the BRICS in order to intensify South to South resistance and solidarity

The Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa bloc met in Durban at the end of March last year, expressing both continental and global ambitions. But things have not gone well since then. Extremely challenging financial, geopolitical, military and environmental problems emerged over the subsequent year – in Africa and across the world.

Higher education is not a market place
Hugh Muir (Mail and Guardian) 9 April 2014

Tweet Britain is paying the price for its controversial student loan scheme.

The highly contentious British student loans system is unravelling. Many predicted that it would, but the surprise, given its high profile and political toxicity, is that it is falling apart so fast: hopelessly flawed, it seems to be falling under its own weight.

Africa’s Number One Economy, For Wealth Evaporation
Patrick Bond 9 April 2014

Jim O’Neill – the Goldman Sachs banker who in 2001 coined the idea of a Brazil-Russia-India-China ‘BRIC’ serving as “building bricks of the 21st century world economy” – has another bright idea. He recently announced a new fascination with the Mexico-Indonesia-Nigeria-Turkey countries, which “all have very favourable demographics for at least the next 20 years, and their economic prospects are interesting.” O’Neill is now completing a BBC series on the MINTs, and no doubt will profit handsomely from investments made in these countries’ financial assets, the way any scurrilous marketer does when, brandishing an insider-trading portfolio, he draws naïve consumers to a product with limited shelf life.

Indian Parliamentary Elections

More at The Real News

Indians go to the polls discontent with the 10 year rule of Indian National Congress Party
Vijay Prashad interviewed by Sharmini Peries on the Real News Network 9 April 2014

The bosses’ demand for 33.9% increase in mining profits
Pay the workers and stop promising too much, Mr Cutifani.
Dick Forslund 7 April 2014

The strike in the platinum mines might go on for a month or more without any resolution. The workers are determined to hold on. Many of the workers have a home that produces incomes in kind, as well as support and sympathy from families and friends. Indeed, the workers have the sympathy of the broad public. Half of the employees in South Africa are paid R3300 or less per month (StatsSA). They and their families have a life to gain from the mine workers being successful in leading a wage revolution.

Egypt: Massive strike wave poses dilemma for Al-Sisi
Hamid Alizadeh 4 April 2014

The class struggle is once more heating up in Egypt. Al-Sisi’s “popular” image is starting to fade as five union leaders are arrested after 50,000 post office workers came out on strike.

Co-operatives on rise, but beware bogus initiatives
Sipho Chris Gina 4 April 2014

South Africa appears to be witnessing a surge in the growth of co-operatives. In this regard, only 1 444 were registered in the 72-year period between 1922 and 1994, yet the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission is now registering more than this number a month.

Indeed, the Registrar of Co-operatives reflected a little more than 20 000 total registered as at 2009, but by 2012 and last year, more than 20 000 new co-operatives were being registered each year.

Rustbelt Republican Governors Trample Democracy
Roger Bybee 3 April 2014

The 2010 mid-term election, during which the Republican Party captured a stunning 63 congressional seats and 8 governorships, instantly illuminated the political landscape that we have been facing since that moment. Nowhere have the anti-worker and anti-democratic consequences been more visible than in the industrial Midwest, the traditional bulwark of industrial unionism, where the Republicans added four rightist governors—Scott Walker in Wisconsin, Michigan’s Rick Snyder, Ohio’s John Kasich, and Pennsylvania’s Tom Corbett—to the corporate-driven regime already established in Indiana, where Gov. Mike Pence, in 2013, succeeded the equally rightist Mitch Daniels, who signed “right-to-work” legislation in 2012 aimed at rolling back union rights. In each of these states, their actions have intensified the long-term trends for the highest levels of inequality in the U.S. since the Gilded Age.

Tuzla The unknown workers' capital of Europe
Hundreds participate in the democratic plenums.
Olivier Besancenot 1 April 2014

March 19, 2014 -- International Viewpoint -- Why does Bosnia-Herzegovina inspire so little interest and curiosity in the media and the political class when, on the contrary, Ukraine is front-page news? Is it because of its non-membership in the European Union? Is it because its name evokes the war that, 20 years ago, claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of men and women -- more than 200,000 dead and 600,000 exiles -- in the face of virtual indifference in the West as to what was happening one and a half hours by plane from Paris? Or because it often wakes up to the call of the muezzin?

Managing Disorder
Jérôme Roos 31 March 2014

When an Egyptian judge condemned 529 Muslim Brotherhood supporters to death this week, he underlined in one fell swoop the terrifying reality in which the world finds itself today. The revolutionary euphoria and constituent impulse that shook the global order back in 2011 have long since given way to a re-established state of control. Violent repression of protest and dissent — whether progressive or reactionary — has become the new normal. The radical emancipatory and democratic space that was briefly opened up by recent uprisings is now being slammed shut. What remains are dispersed pockets of resistance under relentless assault by the constituted power.

When social activists become politicians
Business Standard 29 March 2014

The choice before social activist Medha Patkar and her National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) was not easy. She and other members of the NAPM had to abandon their movement to merge with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). They decided instead to support the AAP from outside and gave all members the choice of formally joining the party if they wished. A large number have joined politics and Medha Patkar herself is contesting the Lok Sabha elections as the AAP candidate from the Mumbai North East constituency.

Taiwan:Ma government rocked by mass protests and occupation of parliament

Down with undemocratic Kuomintang rule – for a Taiwan-wide student strike as the next step!
Sally Tang Mei-ching in Taipei and Vincent Kolo 28 March 2014

Tens of thousands of protesters have filled the streets around the occupied Taiwanese legislature for the past week. The Wall Street Journal calls this “the biggest student-led protest in Taiwan’s history.” After six years in power, a succession of crises and top-level splits, and a collapse in opinion poll ratings to 12.8 percent, Taiwan’s beleaguered president Ma Ying-jeou is fighting for his political survival.

Brazil despises anti-Russian Western cliches
Lyuba Lulko (Pravda) 26 March 2014

Russia's BRICS partners (Brazil, India, China and South Africa) expressed understanding of Russia's position in Crimea and rejected sanctions against Russia. If the position of the people of China and India was mentioned by Vladimir Putin in his speech on March 18, Brazil and South Africa were in the background for a while. What are Brazil's and Pretoria's arguments in support of the Russian Federation?

Equality at the heart of popular struggle to decriminalise dagga
Dale T. McKinley First Published in Pambazuka 25 March 2014

Public opinion is fast shifting in South Africa about the use of marijuana, which is criminalised. A key legal argument in the debate is that prohibiting dagga use while allowing tobacco and alcohol amounts to discrimination, which violates equality as guaranteed by the Constitution
In the spirit of John Lennon, imagine this near-future scenario.

Who In Ukraine Will Benefit From An IMF Bailout?

More at The Real News

Economists Michael Hudson and Jeffrey Sommers discuss how provisions in an IMF deal like cuts to gas subsidies and pensions will hurt the average Ukrainian citizens and benefit kleptocrats

Hong Kong: The fight for women’s rights
Sexism, discriminatory laws and poverty hit women hard in China’s richest city
Sally Tang Mei-ching and Vincent Kolo 21 March 2014

For the fourth year in a row Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong) took the initiative to organise a public rally on International Women’s Day (IWD), Saturday 8 March, to gather women from different nationalities. While this event in Times Square, a busy shopping area, was modest in size with around 40 participants, it is important as the only truly international IWD event in Hong Kong. The aim was to bring women together from the territory’s many ethnic communities and struggles in different sectors to mark the need for united struggle against discrimination and the oppression of women.

PMANE ties up with AAP! Is the road ahead slippery or thorny?
Arun Kaliraja (Socialist Alternative) 19 March 2014

As the parliamentary elections are nearing, the political parties have dumped their ideologies in the backyard and are busy working out their coalitions all for the sake of power. For all these years the masses have seen the drama helplessly but with a hope that their lives will get better with a regime change, a ray of false hope that bourgeoisie democracy throws every now and then at the masses. 28th Feb saw a strange coalition being sealed when SP Udayakumar, who has been leading the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) against the Kudankulam nuclear plant (Southern Tamil Nadu), announced his decision to join the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

The Crisis of Croninism: A Response from the 9 COSATU Affiliates
Look in the Mirror Comrade Jeremy!
Numsa & Others 18 March 2014

Jeremy Cronin has once more done his masters bidding and published a further attack on the elected leadership of NUMSA entitled Irvin Gymnastics - the devious art of political contortionism. He has also attacked the Nine Affiliates calling for a Special National Congress. We are promised more from him to follow, and so we will wait to answer in detail, but cannot resist the opportunity to help clarify his muddled thinking on a few of the matters he raises.

The Strategy of the Venezuelan Opposition
Steve Ellner (Venezuelanalysis.Com) 17 March 2014

The strategy and tactics of the Venezuelan opposition is a replay of events that took place leading up to the coup against Hugo Chávez on April 11, 2002 and is similar (although in some ways quite different) from the script that has been used in the Ukraine and elsewhere. The blatant distortions and in some cases lies of the media (CNN in Spanish playing a lead role) represent an essential element in the strategy.

Brazil's World Cup and misplaced priorities

Antoinette Muller 13 March 2014

Just like South Africa back in 2010, unrest and panic continues to grow ahead of the World Cup in Brazil. In an economically divided country, there is increasing concern that public money being spent on satisfying Fifa is not going to benefit anyone in the long run.

When they come for you: Grassroots struggles and NGOs
Leila van Rinsum First Published in Pambazuka 14 March 2014

Civil society in Kenya is under pressure from the increasingly repressive regime of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto. But these groups are themselves fragmented, with well-funded elite NGOs disconnected from the concerns of the grassroots. The best way for the groups to find strength is by connecting their struggles

Recently I came across a cartoon by Kenya’s celebrated caricaturist Gado (2013) addressing the ‘draconian’ Public Benefit Organisations and Media bills. In Gado’s version of a famous analogy the headings in four pictures are: ‘First they came for the opposition, but I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t opposition. Then they came for the media, but I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a journalist. Then they came for the NGOs, but I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t NGO. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.’

Chile’s Student Movement Leads the Way
Ben Dangl 13 March 2014

“I want to pay special homage to my father and to all those who gave their lives in the fight to recover democracy,” an emotional Isabel Allende said upon taking office as the Senate President this Tuesday. Allende is the daughter of Salvador Allende, the former socialist president of Chile who died during a US-backed military coup in 1973. “I know he’d be proud to see his daughter in this role.”

In India’s Democracy Highway – Accidents of Justice are common
Arun Kali Raja Bangalore 11 March 2014

In a system where Soni Sori’s are raped in custody and waiting for justice; Modi’s aquitted of massacres due to lack of evidences; Sheethal Sathe’s branded as enemy of states and left in jail; judges issuing verdicts after discovering spirituality from seeing a monkey in the court room; Afzal guru’s hanged over night to satisfy the carefully constructed collective conscience, justice in India is a sheer accident!!!

Parti de Gauche leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon on Ukraine
Jean-Luc Melenchon (Translated by Dick Nichols
) 11 March 2014

I think it is useful to specify [my position on developments in Ukraine] in black and white. I’m doing it in broad brushstrokes so that the advanced minds in the newsrooms can understand. I’m doing it in their language, saying what “I support” and what “I condemn”. Please understand me: my comments here are an express warning sign for the Mickey Mouse minds of the media world.

Minister Gordhan, please splash water and financial relief on fast burning SA
Paterick Bond 9 March 2014

Within a year South Africa has degenerated from proud BRICS host to the leading basket case within the “Fragile Five” emerging markets. That leaves Pravin Gordhan very vulnerable this week: hounded not just by opposition politicians but also by bank economists, financiers, the international ratings agencies and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Ukraine Crisis Shows Urgency of Green Energy
Juan Cole 8 March 2014

Hawks are complaining that Europe has been insufficiently belligerent in its response to Russian moves in the Crimea, blaming the declining military budgets in most European countries. But this focus on military hardware is misleading, since there was never any prospect of a conventional military confrontation with the Russian Federation, given that France and Britain are nuclear powers and so is Russia. MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) rules here, and diplomacy and economic sanctions were always going to be the only realistic tools for resolution of the crisis.

The Emerging Global Perfect Storm
Jack Rasmus 7 March 2014

Much like a perfect storm at sea is the consequence of three converging bad weather fronts, three significant global economic trends have begun to intensify and converge in recent months: (1) a slowing of the China economy and a parallel growing financial instability in its shadow banking system; (2) a collapse in emerging markets currencies (India, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa, Indonesia, etc.), and their economic slowdown; (3) a continued drift toward deflation in the Eurozone economies, led by growing problems in Italy and economic stagnation now spreading to France, the Eurozone’s second largest economy.

Nigeria in Crisis: Perspectives for an Impending Revolution – Part 2
CWA (Campaign for a Workers’ Alternative) Nigerian section of the IMT 7 March 2014

The 2015 General election is expectedly taking the centre stage in the public discourse as the date approaches. For a significant section of the advanced layer of the youth and working class, the coming election is being awaited with lot of scepticism; but for the overwhelming majority of Nigerian masses, attention is being drawn gradually towards this electoral event, which has been slated to commence on February 14, 2015.

2015 General Election and the Crisis of Alternative
From all indications, it is going to be a battle between the ruling PDP and the new formed APC (from the mergers of most opposition parties), that is, an electoral battle between two wings of the Nigerian ruling elite. Having been in power for 15 years, which is the entire period of this bourgeois civilian rule, with 8 general strikes till date, coupled with the 2012 January uprising, the PDP has almost completely lost its social base and has suffered a major implosion that is getting more and more difficult for it to come out of. What is still sustaining the party is the lack of genuine working class political alternative for the mass of already restless Nigerians, and the fact that the APC is not fundamentally different from the PDP.

Massacre in Kunming risks new spiral of repression and violence

Shock and disbelief as 29 are hacked to death at railway station
China Worker Editorial Statement 5 March 2014

The massacre at Kunming’s railway station on March 1 –known as the ‘3.1 incident’ – must rank as one of the most shocking acts of terrorism in modern times. The media are calling this “China’s 9/11” and its clear the political impact will be huge. Using long knives and daggers a group of eight black-clad men and women went on a killing spree that lasted half an hour. “They were running and chopping whoever they could,” said a 16-year-old eyewitness. The smell of blood filled the air, according to another. In total, 29 people were killed and a further 143 injured.

Brazil’s World Cup State of Emergency
Renata Bessi and Santiago Navarro F 3 March 2014

More than 10,000 police with military training are poised to counter any disturbance or social unrest which may occur before and during this year’s World Cup.

On December 20, 2013, Brazil’s Defense Ministry published a manual entitled “How to Guarantee Law and Order.” It encourages using military action to ensure “public security.” It also lists individuals, groups, organizations, and movements considered “opposing forces”, highlighting those whose actions violate “public order or public security.”

Boris Kagarlitsky on Ukraine
These two commentaries were written in January and February 2014 – before the fall of the Viktor Yanukovich regime and subsequent events -- and have only just been translated into English. They are published at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal as they offer insights into the thinking of an important part of the revolutionary left in Russia.

India’s environmental crisis
Extreme weather events causing massive devastation
Pete Dickenson, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales) 1 March 2014

The effects of the environmental crisis are forcing workers and the poor to resist throughout the world, as the poorest states are hit hardest. This is particularly true in countries like India, where extreme weather events, most probably linked to climate change, are causing massive devastation. Data from the most recent report of the main climate science body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and others confirms this.

The western state of Maharashtra has been particularly badly affected suffering the worst drought since 1972. This has led to a rapid depletion of the water table in the worst-hit areas like Marathwada. The mangrove forest cover in Maharashtra has been reduced by 40%, causing a further twist to the cycle pushing up temperatures since the forest absorbs the greenhouse gases that drive global warming.

Development or fraud?
Another coastal paradise to die for big oil
Ali Noor 28 February 2014

LPA new 32 berth port, to ship South Sudanese oil to China, is planned for the Lamu archipelago, a stunning green field heritage site in northern coastal Kenya, teeming with rare species, coral reefs and marine biodiversity and, of course, people. But none of this richness, or the indigenous people for whom this is home, seem to matter to the Government of Kenya and private developers

In April 2013 the Kenya government granted a $484 million contract to a Chinese firm to put up the first three berths for the new Lamu Port in the first phase implementation process of the project. This followed the uprooting of prime mangrove trees in February, to pave the way for the construction of the first three berths and port administration office at Kilalana, a clearance that is nearly complete. The land was created from the felling of mangrove trees, comprising 30% of tree cover in Kenya.

However, the developers and their government cronies paid scant regard to an environmental impact assessment, while those who lost their land are still waiting for compensation a year later. Indeed, only fraudsters are getting rich, while the port development has already made thousands of families destitute and hungry. With another 100,000 people potentially in the way of the gigantic development, the first phase portends badly for the rest of the development, since neither project affected persons nor the natural capital and biodiversity have been give the respect they are due by right, and by international law and convention.


Venezuela Beyond the Protests
Eva Golinger 26 February 2014

For those of you unfamiliar with Venezuelan issues, don’t let the title of this article fool you. The revolution referred to is not what most media outlets are showing taking place today in Caracas, with protestors calling for the ouster of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The revolution that is here to stay is the Bolivarian Revolution, which began in 1998 when Hugo Chavez was first elected president and has subsequently transformed the mega oil producing nation into a socially-focused, progressive country with a grassroots government. Demonstrations taking place over the past few days in Venezuela are attempts to undermine and destroy that transformation in order to return power to the hands of the elite who ruled the nation previously for over 40 years.

The Emerging 3rd Phase of Global Economic Crisis?
Jack Rasmus 24 January 2014

Much like a perfect storm at sea is the consequence of three converging bad weather fronts, three significant global economic trends have begun to intensify and converge in recent months: (1) a slowing of the China economy and a parallel growing financial instability in its shadow banking system; (2) a collapse in emerging markets currencies (India, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa, Indonesia, etc.) and their economic slowdown; (3) a continued drift toward deflation in the Eurozone economies, led by growing problems in Italy and economic stagnation now spreading to France, the Eurozone’s second largest economy. The problems in these three critical areas of the global economy, moreover, have begun to feed off of each other.


UK floods expose Tory hypocrisy and social tensions
Felix Lighter 21 February 2014

As the rain continues to fall and the storm winds continue to blow, in what has proved to be the wettest winter for decades, the Tories have continued to shout and bluster in the face of a crisis to which they can find no solution.

Burning South Africa needs immediate water relief
Patrick Bond 20 February 2014

“Smouldering discontent is becoming institutionalized,” worries a recent lead Mercury editorial. Worse, “economic hardship – which fuels most of the protest – seems likely to intensify in the short term, with a continuing weakness of the currency on the international markets and with labour disputes in the mining sector doing nothing to help.”

Bosnia: New revolt of workers and unemployed
“I think this is a genuine Bosnian spring. We have nothing to lose...”
J. Hird, Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Spain) 17 February 2014

Seething anger at the dire economic situation, political corruption, mass unemployment and poverty has boiled over in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In three days of lightening-speed struggle by workers and youth, the government has been shaken to its foundations.

Mozambique's 2013 elections
The end of liberation movement politics?
Fredson Guilengue 14 February 2014

A third force has emerged in Mozambican politics, the MDM party that is causing powerful ripples, especially in urban areas and the regions until now marginalised by the ruling FRELIMO party. RENAMO, the main opposition party, is dying. MDM is likely to put a strong showing in October's presidential election because of growing disaffection for the ruling party. But MDM is unlikely to trounce the still well-entrenched FRELIMO

SA: Struggles intensify as election draws closer
Campaigning for WASP socialist alternative at May polls
Liv Shange, Democratic Socialist Movement (CWI South Africa) 13 February 2104

As South African President Jacob Zuma, last Friday, announced that the country’s next general elections will be held on May 7, this year, his regime was surrounded by dramatically intensifying class struggles. The same day, an AMCU (Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union – the union that replaced the ANC-aligned NUM in the platinum belt following the Marikana massacre in 2012) shop steward at Amplats’ Union Mine – was shot dead by police as workers were making their way to a mass meeting in the course of the strike for a R12 500 living wage which has shut down 40% of global platinum output for nearly three weeks. He became the latest on a long list of victims of extreme police brutality in the past few weeks alone.

Sochi Winter Olympics: Breaking all records!
Sporting excellence, yes...but also corruption, waste, atrocious workers’ conditions and anti-LGBT laws
Rob Jones, Moscow 12 February 2104

The 2014 Winter Olympic Games, held in Sochi, are being watched by millions around the world. Beyond the sporting excellence, however, the event is surrounded by controversy over corruption, huge waste, atrocious workers’ rights and anti-LGBT legislation.

Corruption: Escalating Habit of Neoliberal Savagery
Rolf Auer 11 February 2014

In Brazil, police have been going into poor neighbourhoods and murdering people. From 2003 to 2008, in Brazil’s two largest cities—Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro—more than 11,000 citizens were killed by police. Brazil’s leading cause of death for people aged 15 to 44 is homicide; many of those people were killed by police (1).

Propaganda: ‘The Dominant Grand Narrative Of Our Time’
David Cromwell 10 February 2014

'Propaganda' sounds like an old-fashioned word from a bygone era. It evokes images of the Nazis in WW2, particularly Reich Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda Joseph Goebbels, or Soviet leaders in the Cold War and dictators in 'Third World' countries. Propaganda is something spewed out by official enemies of the West, and surely not a vile practice indulged by 'our' politicians and business leaders. This is a convenient illusion that serves powerful Western elites very well indeed.

Dispelling the myths of national minimum wages
Neil Coleman (The Mercury) 7 February 2014

Today Business Report is launching a series called The Labour Report. This series will see contributions from key stakeholders from the South African and international labour scene, as well as from business. The primary objective of the series is to open a platform for an in-depth debate on labour matters – the world of work and the economy. Here is our first instalment in this series: The introduction of a legislated national minimum wage in South Africa would create an economy-wide wage floor below which no one could fall.

Flipping the corruption myth
Jason Hickel 5 February 2014

Transparency International recently published their latest annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), laid out in an eye-catching map of the world with the least corrupt nations coded in happy yellow and the most corrupt nations smeared in stigmatising red. The CPI defines corruption as “the misuse of public power for private benefit,” and draws its data from 12 different institutions including the World Bank, Freedom House, and the World Economic Forum.

Spain: popular resistance delivers results
Victory against Madrid’s hospital privatisation – and other recent struggles in Spain – shows popular resistance delivers results.
Esther Vivas 2 February 2014

“Resisting is pointless,” we hear endlessly repeated. “So many years of protest but the crisis continues, why bother?” insist others, inoculating us with apathy and resignation. “Protests could lead to something that’s even worse,” whispers the machinery of fear. They want us submissive, heads bowed. Dreams of change are forbidden. However, history rebels, indomitable. And it shows us, despite the naysayers, that struggle is worth it. The victories against the privatisation of the Madrid’s public health system, of the Gamonal neighbourhood standing up to speculators and the corrupt, of the cleaners in their battle for jobs in the capital and the struggle against evictions and the banks, are good examples.

France: The need for a combative political force
More and more tensions develop in the Left Front
Leila Messaoudi, Gauche Révolutionnaire (CWI in France) 1 February 2014

As economic crisis conditions hammer the lives of working people in France, a clear political alternative to the Socialist Party government in the local and European elections is vital. The alliance of the Communist Party of France (PCF) with the relatively new Left Party and some smaller forces is failing to build a cohesive, fighting force. carries an article by Leila Messaoudi, published in l’Egalite, the paper of Gauche Révolutionnaire.

No time for the masses when it comes to bucks
Patrick Bond Eye on Civil Society (The Mercury) 28 January 2014

SOUTH Africa’s “minerals-energy complex” keeps getting away with murder, including economic strangulation. Parliament is preparing to make matters worse.

The Infrastructure Development Bill could give fast-track approvals for mines, oil pipelines and refineries, coal-fired power plants, ports and new airports. Was the bill’s mention of water/sanitation, clinics and schools snuck in to make the mega-project bias more palatable?
The two types of project need to be separated, and the latter need a new sense of urgency, because installation of a R2 300 township sanitation connector pipe is rather easier than digging a R23 billion Durban to Johannesburg pipeline.

Tunisia: Three years on since the fall of Ben Ali

New ‘technocratic’ government no response to workers’ demands
Serge Jordan and CWI supporters in Tunis
31 January 2014

Three years ago, on the 14 January 2011, a new chapter opened in world politics. The overthrow of longtime dictator Ben Ali in Tunisia by a sweeping revolutionary movement marked the trigger and inspiration for mass movements across the world, and for a complete transformation of the political landscape of the Middle East and North Africa.

Forging a New Movement - Numsa and the Shift in SA Politics
Leonard Gentle ( 28 January 2014

The decision of the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) to cut ties with the African National Congress (ANC) has received poor analysis. Comment has tended to focus on the possibility of a new political party in 2019 or whether all this means that Zwelenzima Vavi will get his job back. As such, the greater significance of the biggest trade union in the country throwing in its lot with a growing movement in opposition to the neo-liberal order, and thus to the left of the ANC, rather than the line up to the right (which includes the newly merged Agang and Democratic Alliance who want more of the same), is being missed.

Thailand: Prolonged political crisis
Working class and rural poor need party of their own
Ravichandran, CWI Malaysia 28 January 2014

The present political crisis in Thailand has been ongoing since the 2006 military coup which ousted Thaksin Shinawat - the billionaire tycoon turned politician. It has consisted of a now open, subdued clash between his party and its supporters and another wing of the political elite around the Democrat Party. While there has been a call to postpone the elections on 2nd February, the crisis remains without any sign of ending.

The Fukushima Secrecy Syndrome
From Japan to America
Ralph Nader 27 January 2014

Last month, the ruling Japanese coalition parties quickly rammed through Parliament a state secrets law. We Americans better take notice.

Under its provisions the government alone decides what are state secrets and any civil servants who divulge any “secrets” can be jailed for up to 10 years. Journalists caught in the web of this vaguely defined law can be jailed for up to 5 years.

Amilcar Cabral, imperialism and neo-colonialism
Chimusoro Kenneth Tafira First Published in Pambazuka 26 January 2014

To Cabral, the liberation struggle was a revolution to overthrow the oppressive system of domination and exploitation of one human being by another. This has not been fully achieved in Africa, despite the end of formal colonialism. The liberation movements and current regimes lack an astute ideology grounded in the history and aspirations of their own people

2014: Redrawing of the political landscape underway
DSM/WASP 23 January 2014

The strike wave in the mining sector in 2012 – which came to international attention in the atrocity of the Marikana massacre – was the opening battle in a new phase of the class struggle which is redrawing the social and political landscape of South Africa. If Marikana was the earthquake, then the decision at the recent special congress of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) to withdraw support for the governing African National Congress (ANC) was an aftershock at least equal in intensity to the original tremor.

The need for real media transformation
Terry Bell 22 January 2014

Transformation of the media in South Africa is essential. But we should be very clear about what we mean by such transformation.

Pembani Coal: Misdirected benefit?
Franz Fuls First Published in Pambazuka 21 January 2014

Since opencast coal mining started on this farm ten years ago, the lives of the people have gradually deteriorated. The mine replaced the previous agricultural business that employed them. A villager said that only one person in the village has a full time job

Where is Venezuela’s Economy Headed? 19 January 2014

What did President Nicolas Maduro’s announcements during Wednesday’s state of the nation address tell us about the Venezuelan government’s economic agenda for 2014?

December US Jobs Report: ‘False Positives’ Revisited
Jack Rasmus 15 January 2014

In a blog post this past November 2013, this writer offered a contrarian analysis of the October 2013 government jobs report. That report indicated a jobs gain of 204,000 for October. While others heralded the number, claiming it was evidence that the US jobs market had (yet again) ‘turned the corner’, this writer forewarned the October job gains would prove temporary. My contrarian view was that the October job gains reflected a temporary surge in 3rd quarter U.S. GDP, which was itself based largely on a short term surge in business inventory accumulation that Qtr., with a lagged October hiring effect. The October jobs numbers were therefore “nothing to get excited about” and “can disappear quickly from the economy and may in fact do so by December should consumer spending come in well below expectations” (see my ‘False Positives’ piece on this blog, of November 12, 2013).

Ariel Sharon dead
Ariel Sharon – transforming a war criminal into a national hero
Alon Lessel in Israel 17 January 2006

Sharon is seriously ill and may never return to active politics. This has thrown the whole of the Israeli establishment into turmoil, as now a question mark is being placed above the party he founded a few weeks ago, Kadima. Society is so polarized that one man can balance at the top. Without him the balancing game may not hold for long.

NAFTA: 20 Years of Regret for Mexico
Mark Weisbrot 7 January 2014

It was 20 years ago that the North American Free Trade Agreement between the US, Canada, and Mexico was implemented. In Washington, the date coincided with an outbreak of the bacteria cryptosporidium in the city's water supply, with residents having to boil their water before drinking it. The joke in town was, See what happens, NAFTA takes effect and you can't drink the water here.

2014 and the ghosts of 1914
Alan Woods 7 January 2014

As the New Year dawns, memories are reawakening of another New Year, exactly a century ago, the dawn of 1914 when millions of people were drifting towards the abyss as if in a dream.

On that New Year’s Day few people imagined what lay in store. One hundred years had passed since the Battle of Waterloo and the memory of war had faded – at least in Britain. The war in South Africa had been a mere skirmish and had ended in victory. The Empire upon which the sun never set seemed assured in its worldwide supremacy.

CAR France intervenes yet again in an African country
Vast wealth should be taken into common, democratic ownership
Leila Messaoudi, Gauche Revolutionnaire (CWI in France) 7 January 2014

On Thursday 5th December 2013 President Hollande announced the deployment of French troops to the Central African Republic, under UN mandate, to reinforce the local military presence. This is the 40th time France has intervened militarily in an African country since independence. What are the reasons for this resumption of military activity in Africa by French imperialism ? And what role does Hollande envisage after the intervention in Mali?

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