This is the translation from Kreol into English of a talk on the world situation given by Lindsey Collen to LALIT members on 2 February 2019:
We are living in an epoch of all instabilities.
And added to that is the new source of geo-political instability detonated two years ago by the coming to power, in the belly of the capitalist beast, of Donald Trump: his extreme right coalition seizing power is both a result of the wavering of the US as the world power and a cause of further wobbling.
But let us list some of the already-existing contradictions and conflicts in the world:
* Human society, as long as it is organized in the interests of capitalist profit rather than of humanity or nature, cannot prevent itself from destroying the very mother earth that nourishes us and all natural life. It is not only climate change that’s a major threat but there are some seven or eight other critical tipping points that approach, even as untrammeled industrial pollution worsens and approaches points where human society, or maybe even human existence, is threatened (1);
* There’s the particular instability when finance capital has again, one hundred years later, come to power for a second time – given that it is a form of gambling whereby money makes money, rather than a way of producing goods – over other sections of the capitalist class, as well as over the rest of us. Finance capital eats away at the foundations of its own measures of “value” – money is no longer linked either to gold or to the amount of labour in the product or service being exchanged. So, every economist on the planet predicts worse and worse crises. The US Dollar’s dual function as currency for a nation state, as well as reserve currency and instrument for international trade, adds an additional madness to the rule of finance capital.
* The class struggle is sharpening once again, on every continent, from Yellow Vests in France to the biggest ever workers’ strike in India. And it is this form of conflict that is potentially the most creative, and that might save humanity from the destruction capitalism threatens.
* As society gets more sophisticated, the human quest for freedom and emancipation from wage slavery increases. This collides with the very system that inspires this love of freedom and that fractures us, allowing a tiny minority of humans to buy from us our very “time” as living humans, in exchange for food for us and our families. The rebellion against this oppression in wage slavery boils underground most of the time. But inevitably, uprisings and mutinies break out – often in places and at times least expected. Who would have thought rural France would produce an on-going mutiny the size of the Gilets Jaunes even one week before it started? Who knew 200 million Indian workers would go on the biggest strike in human history for two days in January 2019?
* This tendency to separate people from their own work-power contains within it the lack of democracy that is so dangerous. The workers making parts of bombs do not even know what they are doing so are not responsible for what they are doing. But people, more and more, do want to control their own individual, and more important, collective destinies.
* There is increasing conflict between nation states, like the US and China, like Israel and Iran. At the same time, there is an internal contradiction between the logic of capitalist globalization and the logic of capitalist nationalism. So, we witness new alliances, new trade wars, new threats of invasion and war, and new bombardments provoking mass migration, failed states, and bands of armed men like ISIS and other war lords ready to move in; imperialism continues to enrage broad masses of people in oppressed countries. And even angers people in oppressor countries, as they insist on bringing troops home in the US, for example, or stopping bombing Yemen.
* The risk of nuclear war or nuclear accidents is greater than it has ever been; the privatization of war has increased all these risks. And at the same time, capitalism, whenever it is in crisis, relies on new orders for arms (and allied industries, including everything from spark plugs to boots and hamburgers for troops) in order to re-boot in any economic depression; more cynical still, capitalist firms rely on contracts and tenders for reconstruction – but only once destruction has taken place on a large scale, as in bombardments of bridges, power plants and roads by drones and aircraft.
* Robot technology raises the spectre that used to be science fiction of humans being ruled over by bits of steel-and-plastic. But, meanwhile, in a less predicted fashion, humans are made by capitalist society to resemble robots – as we react to stimuli set off by electronic devices, and as the big corporations, through manipulating data on humans via algorithms, trigger actions in us almost as predictably as in robots.
* This is the century of Data Wars, as well as real wars. In Mauritius have we not seen corporations from Singapore, Israel and China (Huawei) – all three very close to the State apparatus of their country – installing what are essentially “data mines”. These are even in key systems like the ID Card system, the jail system and the public ICTV invasion of 4,000 cameras?
* One of the collapses that the whole world might suffer is what is referred to as a collapse of civilization. This will be a collapse provoked either by economic mayhem or by a series of major technological breakdowns of some kind. A huge proportion of human beings is now ill-equipped to survive more than a month or so without a nearby supermarket.
* The population of humans (large mammals) on the earth has increased to a size that nears the unsustainable – for food, for the environment, and for virus control.
* Mass migrations (resulting from capitalism itself) destabilize and haunt the system that provoked them.
* We can expect the 21st Century to be the War to control water supplies.
So, the background to this paper on the world situation is this notorious instability of capitalism – now reaching new levels of unbridled disorder.
Now, after a short look over human history, we will look at the geo-political situation with a wide-angle view. To round up we will take stock of all the uprisings that there already are against the system. And at the kind of internationalism that will be necessary in our organizations in order to challenge the system itself. In other words, we’ll end by looking at our own will for freedom and emancipation from wage slavery, and our own capacity to act both consciously and collectively, at a world-wide level. This participation in our destinies is the very essence of our humanity.
History: the long view
It’s always worthwhile before looking at the “Now”, to look at what came before.
Most of human history is what used to be called “Pre-History”, a misnomer
Humans not only survived, but lived well, for 90% of our 3 million year history as homo sapiens – without being in different social and economic classes, without gathering all sorts of dead objects around us, and without organized war.
During the past 200,000 years (minimum estimate) as homo sapiens sapiens, humans lived and moved about, starting in Southern Africa until we populate the whole earth – after ongoing migrations. Relatively recent paleontological research proves there was no systematic war at all until some 6,000 years ago. There were not social classes, and thus no systematic inequality. There was no patriarchy. If these things did not exist for most of our history, it means, importantly, that in future they need not. For us in LALIT it’s important always to be aware of this. When people come and sprout the lines of the ruling class that, “Nothing can be changed, capitalism is eternal, war inevitable, and inequality natural”, we have a scientific reply. Everything has changed, is always changing, and we have just to understand its flow, and act politically so as to ensure that changes are for the better for us all, as humans when they happen.
Sedentary, Agriculturalist, Herders, Surplus, Class, War
Over the past, say, 6,000 years, different forms of class society emerged here and there on all five continents, out of agriculture, animal husbandry, and pre-capitalist production of woodwork, pottery, cloth, metals and so on. And it was then that the inequalities and the war began to be systematic.
Towards World Trade, Systematic Slavery, Capitalism
And then in the past, say 400 years, human society began a process of unification into a single system of trade and capitalist production and, at the same time, fractured into conflicting segments on a scale never known before. It is one tendency, the rise of capitalism, with two effects: unification into a single system, and at the same time, breaking us into bits. So, 400 years ago, world trade began this process of unifying the world, and then, from a mere 200 years ago, having accumulated masses of capital in the hands of private banks through slave labour, the capitalist class, and its concomitant or even intrinsic colonization, came to power in European and American countries, and then spread everywhere. And along with this unification came the following forms of inter-related fracture (not in chronological order):
(i) the formation of nation states with boundaries, each with a State apparatus (tax and army) based on these boundaries marking land and population;
(ii) a gradual unification/breaking of each society into just two predominant classes of capitalists (who get hold of the fruits of past collective human production and take all decisions) and workers (the vast majority, who sell their physical and mental labour power by the hour, week, month or on the basis of a piece of work);
(iii) a fracture of human society from what we are essentially part of i.e. mother earth. We are nature, as much as we live “in it”. And yet, by 2019, almost everywhere becomes “trespasses will be prosecuted” for almost everyone.
(iv) the two main types of accumulation of wealth by the capitalist class from human labour proceeded from 200 or so years of slavery to two hundred or so years of wage slavery. Bringing us to 2019. This brought a four-fold ongoing fracture: between workers and their labour power (which they can separate from “themselves”), between two classes of people (capitalists and working people), between people in oppressor countries and oppressed countries, and between people and mother earth.
(v) a fracture, more recent, whereby humans are separating from each other and attaching themselves increasingly to dead objects – devices.
Since capitalist’s recent globalization over the past 20-30 years, the two tendencies have amplified and worsened – the unification into a single world system coupled with all the fractures it entails. Over the past two or three years, there has been further fracture together with further unification.
There was a similar process in operation about 100 years ago, when capitalism was heading for massive dependence on the internal combustion engine and on electricity, and when finance capital reigned supreme until the 1917 Russian Revolution instilled the fear of the working class (which took power for two or three years) into the capitalist class world-wide, and the ruling classes then made concessions, like reigning in the banks and handing out some social security. These concessions lasted until Thatcher and Reagan began the violent process of unravelling them.
Globalization – taking as its birth date the symbolic moment in 1995 when the WTO was set up – re-took power with the triple-collapse (both simultaneous and inter-related) of Stalinist states in Eastern Europe (1991), the social democratic reign in Western Europe and even the pathetic social security in the USA (paid for by the 91% marginal tax now down to 37%), and the “Third World Socialism” typified by the regimes in India and Tanzania. And, the whole world retreated to the cruel rule of law, untrammeled finance capital. It was thus more united than ever into one system and simultaneously more fractured in the ways mentioned above. The 100-year reprieve that the Russian Revolution gave the world-wide working class from 19th Century “liberalism” (meaning freedom of finance capitalism to do what it wants) is back again for the 21st Century in the form of “neo-liberalism” (meaning the same thing it did 100 years ago, only worse).
In the last two or three years, finance capital is in open war-fare against the rest of the globe and against its people. Anything goes, so long as they rake it in.
Its control is now over a big majority of humans. The vast peasantries of Asia and Africa are finally being torn off the land and drawn into capitalism. So, for the first time, 170 years after Karl Marx described the working class, it is now a big majority world-wide. And it is threatened not only by finance capital (and all other sections of capital), but by robots replacing it.
So, it is the banks, the stock exchange, the insurance, the buyers and sellers of futures and hedge funds, who control the world – again. And with a vengeance.
It was very swift. No sooner had the three systems that cushioned working people from the cruelty of pure liberalism collapsed, than by 1999 (in the USA as in Mauritius) there was the tell-tale unification of the investment banks and the retail banks, coupled with the further privatization of central banks world-wide, most drastically in the dozens of countries that came out of the collapse of the USSR, Yugoslavia and the whole Soviet Block. With the increased power of finance capital over the State, Governments ended up writing themselves out of the equation that the working class had written them into by its enormous uprisings in 1917, and again in the 1940’s in the East.
In turn, the rule by Finance Capital has, of course, increased inequalities between rich and poor. The figures published in 2019 show 26 billionaires own more than half the people of the globe do put together. How is that for a fracture? 26 individuals have grabbed half the world.
And as finance capitalists dominate the other sections of capitalists in commerce and production, this by itself is unstable: money made just from borrowed money is not linked to production at all. And whereas finance capital is free to roam wherever its owners wish it to, the workers who produce all that is of value in the whole wide world, are increasingly restricted by boundaries, penned in. Just as the workers of Gaza or Mexico are to be penned in by walls, so we are all going to be, if we are not careful. This imprisonment within national boundaries of the people of the globe allows finance capital to move around to where we are cheaper, and thus increase the inequality even further.
A Legacy of Imperialist Wars
Today’s epoch lives with the legacy of past wars. We saw Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen bombarded from the outside. Most were societies of a high degree of organization, in terms of employment, housing, health services, transport, education and social security, in short civilization – but the USA (and/or its allies) found pretexts or all ilk to bombard them (“WMD”s, “regime change”, “humanitarian” bombing, whatever) barbarically, leaving them in literal ruins. Whole immensely civilized ancient cities reduced to rubble. And then there came the massive panic-migration into Europe, which the media often deplores, mimicking the right-wing parties, as if it were unrelated to the bombings. Take Libya. As well as its own working class, some 2.5 million workers from neighbouring countries in Africa and the Middle East were working there. Networks of job-contractors and transporter facilitators ran this migration. When Libyan society collapses under US bombs and is left to war lords to run, when all production is ruined, then obviously there will be panic migration – using the past networks, but now going on through the Mediterranean to Europe. Any African country with valuable metals, stones or oil, can be predicted to be the arena of war. It is always a war armed from the outside, and where war lords end up supplying the imperialist countries with raw materials for electronic gadgets in exchange for these arms.
And today? The Nationalist Right and Extreme Rights is on the Rise
From two years ago, we have seen the election of Trump in the USA, Modi in India, Duterte in the Philippines, and some like Orban in Hungary from 6 years before. Now there is Bolsanaro in Brazil. So this new phenomenon of division rises up even as finance capital unifies the world by taking it over. We have nationalism, neo-fascism and anti-rationality of all kinds rising up, and in some places even coming to power.
The Strong Men
The USA is still the strongest country in the world, economically speaking, although it holds on to this position by the skin of its teeth. Yet, militarily, it is massively, overly, completely, hegemonic. This is, in itself, a source of instability. The USA’s economic decline is inexorably taking place, even as its Dollar props it up. The US Dollar can only prop up the US economically for as long as it is the reserve currency and trading currency of well-nigh everybody else. (Hence, in passing the great worry for US hegemonists about the “trading instrument” being set up by Germany, UK, and France, in an attempt to maintain the Iran Treaty that the US has violated. And remember Iraq was bombed weeks before Saddam Hussein was due to introduce the Euro alongside the Dollar for its reserves, and Libya, too, was bombed just as it was set to launch its African Dollar alongside the US Dollar).
Trump is a strong man, thus, in a still-strong country. His foreign policy is not opaque:
* He aims to weaken his ally and traditionally friendly rival, Europe, relative to the USA.
* He also aims to weaken his neighbour-allies, Canada and Mexico, relative to the USA.
* He aims to severely handicap his new genuine rival, China. For this, he is press-ganging Canada and Europe to do the dirty work.
* He wants to finish the Maduro regime (to nip in the bud any regime in its American “back yard” that is not 100% obedient, or where working people got, under Chavez, the taste of power in the barrios, or working class estates).
* He wants to increase military presence in Africa – and preferably not pay for it.
* He aims to finish off any hope of a 2-state solution for Palestine, and implement the Grand Israel plan to take over the entire West Bank and Jerusalem, leaving Gaza imprisoned behind a massive wall, with no links outside, and no right even to a port in the Mediterranean.
* He aims to finish off the Iranian regime. For this, he intends to use Israel and Saudi Arabia.
* He wants to extricate the US/NATO from Afghanistan – perhaps he rightly sees that there was never any point being there anyway, except to be humiliated by one’s own brutality and impotence.
* He aims to end the long-time confrontation with North Korea (maybe so that China no longer has North Korea as an ally?)
The world in broad brush-strokes today:
It is always worth looking up the top 10 countries in terms of economy power and military power, and then looking at the projections for who will rule the roost economically in, say, 30 years in projections. (3) Clearly, the USA and Europe will cede place to Eastern countries, like China (that will be much, much bigger than the USA, India, Japan, and even Vietnam and Indonesia).
. But now, if you could make a mental map of the world quickly, so we can look at the regional blocks that have formed. Remember these were supposed to be, and are, to an extent, the building blocks of globalization. But, as we will see they are always in the process of forming, and fracturing, re-forming again splitting apart.
The USA leads this block, and also leads in a threesome USA + Canada + Mexico. But it also a whole Central and South American block, with a strong economic and political role from Brazil. The block has difficulty functioning as a block because of nationalism in the USA and anti-US sentiment that resurges regularly everywhere else. As the USA declines, we find an increase in the influence in the Americas of the big Eastern economies, Japan and China. The flashpoint for war or civil war in the Americas is today, obviously, around Venezuela, where the USA is building up a coalition to either attack the country or arm self-proclaimed President Juan Guaido in a civil war against President Maduro. By coincidence, countries the USA tries to gain control over often have reserves of oil (Iraq, Libya, now Venezuela). It is not clear why big European countries are supporting Trump in his adventurism. Gwynne Dyer puts forward the chilling idea that it is because they prefer Trump get militarily involved in South America, rather than closer to them, i.e. in Iran. Anyway, the Venezuela flashpoint is showing signs of a world-wide showdown, as China, Russia, India, Cuba, Iran, South Africa side with Maduro.
China + India + Japan + soon Indonesia and Vietnam + Australia + Pakistan + Bangladesh = a powerful block, and rising fast. China and India will soon be the biggest economies in the world. The main future flashpoint is North Korea, even as Afghanistan, on the Block’s Western end is still a war zone. Much of US policy aims to “contain China”. Imperial language like “containing” another country, or “vast tracts of territory” (as if it were terra nullius) is something to watch for, as a sign of impending aggression. Most of the large countries in the Asia-Pacific block are often at loggerheads with each other.
Europe is potentially a strong block economically, but it is politically still very fractured by nationalist tendencies that plague it – typified by Brexit. Since Europe’s massive expansion to absorb all the ex-USSR and ex-Yugoslav fragments, it had already become more unstable. It has a single currency, the Euro but not a single “economy”, thus producing the conflicts between Greece and the banks of Germany and France, for example. Europe is in a now-unstable Atlantic military alliance with the USA – NATO. Macron even threatened an independent military for Europe, following Trump’s insults. In addition, Europe which has, and still does, include the UK, which is in turn part of another block – one that exists for the purposes of espionage: the UK-USA-New Zealand-Australia-Canada – so-called “Five Eyes” (abbreviated as FVEY). It has been spying on the whole world for 75 years, including on Europe. Again, in Europe, we see all these conflicting tendencies to both unite and separate countries.
Russia – Turkey - Iran
Russia + Turkey + Iran = are firming up gradually into a block – a very unstable block, however. For a start, Turkey is a member of NATO. And secondly, Trump is very cozy with Putin’s Russia, while trying to annihilate Iran’s regime, which is close to Russia. The two flashpoints in the region: Crimea/Ukraine – and Iran, in particular the Straits of Hormuz. Iran’s irreducible enemies are Saudi Arabia and Israel. Trump intends to use them to somehow quell Iran.
Africa and the Middle East
Africa and the Middle East = make up either two blocks or a single one. Both are seen as the “spoils of war” for the likes of the USA, France, the UK, and increasingly, China, Russia, Israel and the capitalist class of South Africa. All the big powers are hungry for the rare metals so necessary for high-tech, which are available in African countries. The USA has been increasingly present in a military way over the past two decades. China’s presence is growing and represents an exchange of raw materials for infra-structure. There is a lot of Israeli-style “colonization” by land-grabs all over Africa, including in Mauritius with IRS and Smart City projects. The new (or re-newed) “normal” of the USA and its allies recognizing a rival President risks, if generalized, affecting Africa seriously.
Existing military flash-points already include:
1. Chad firstly, but also Northern Nigeria, Niger and Mali, where there is armed conflict between the State and Boko Haram and military presence of France and the USA.
2. Congo and Central African Republic.
3. Somalia (where there is the presence of Al Shabab and ISIS, and where the USA still bombs from drones and planes)
Other regions like Sudan-South Sudan and Ethiopia show signs of being less of flash-points than they have been.
But in general, the USA, also has its so-called “lily pads” (military bases that are relatively small and supposedly “temporary”) in Mozambique, Tanzania, Burundi, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Ghana, Senegal, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Egypt, of course, and Morocco.
The Middle East is still one big potential flash-point, with Israel as instigator. There is the Israel-US-Saudi Arabia plan against Syria, Iran, Yemen and Palestine. Trump and his son-in-law’s mad-cap-seeming plan to unite in a terrible trio the three right-wing regimes – Israel, the USA and Saudi Arabia – to once and for all dominate the Middle East, in particular Iran, and to impose a crushing defeat of some kind on the very idea of a Palestinian State, bumped into an unexpected wall: the cruel, barbaric murder in cold blood of a US-resident journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the US’s close ally in the new “trio”, Saudi Arabia, on the orders of Jared Kushner’s dear friend, the Prince Salman himself, was just too awful for even the most daring cover-ups that usually mask such acts by US actors or allies. This one could not be, and cannot be, covered up. The interests of the Turkish state where the murder and dismemberment took place, on the one hand, and the totality of journalists, on the other, could not, and cannot allow a cover-up. So far … So, that was a major set-back to the Trump plot.
In addition, Saudi Arabia’s plan to bring Qatar to heal, has also backfired.
All this to say, that each of these “regional building blocks of globalization” has the same tendency to unite and split apart. Unite, they must, in the interests of globalized capital, and split they must, in the interests of nation-state interests.
And now, the conflict is going beyond mother earth. There is an arms race beginning in space.
Present-day political narratives
Trump’s election as US President was both a result of the rising nationalism that globalized finance capitalism engenders, and also a cause of further nationalism. This nationalism represents the main challenge to capitalism’s globalization project. The challenge has not yet come as hard from the democratic forces nor from the working class. The extreme right, being easily whipped up, has risen against globalization first. This right-wing challenge comes from all manner of political currents that are nationalist, patriotic, white supremacist nationalist, high caste nationalist, fascist, colonial or imperialist. And they all gather around a strong leader, who is capitalism “last hope”. And this right-wing movement, world-wide, both weakens and strengthens the USA as global leader. This strange, but true, phenomenon is easily explained when we remember what we drew attention earlier in the article: the inexorable economic weakening of the USA, which co-exists alongside its massive military dominance.
Let’s look at how this simultaneous weakening and strengthening plays out. Trump, as far-right politician come to power as President of the USA, represents the will to stop the USA being considered, to quote Trump himself, the laughing stock of the world. So, the first thing Trump does is to weaken not his enemies, but his allies, i.e. NAFTA allies and European allies. This both strengthens and weakens the USA. It may strengthen the USA relative to its American and European allies, but it weakens the alliance he has with them. Then, when he confronts his main rival China, he is not as strong for the simple reason that he has less allies and/or allies who are less loyal. When Trump violates the UN Treaty with Iran known as the Nuclear Deal, he might cow European companies, but he annoys the State in those countries by humiliating it.
The USA, at the same time, to try to slow down the spectacular rise of the Chinese economy, declares trade war on China with the aim, and effect, of weakening China. But, there will be unintended consequences to his actions. The USA’s irrational reliance for supremacy on the US Dollar being everyone else’s trading instrument and reserves, while allowing dangerous over-spending by both the US as a country relative to other countries, and by the US Government in its budget, also exposes the US economy. Trump, in other words, is not heeding the motto: People in Glass Houses should not Throw Stones.
But Trump takes the coward’s route. He gets Canada to throw the stone, by calling for the arrest of the CEO and daughter of the founder-owner of China’s flagship, the Huawei company.
Similarly, precisely because the USA had lost so much influence in Latin America, it is over-keen to embark on a military action in Venezuela that might backfire.
And the USA’s economy, no matter what, is on a long-term downward trend relative to China and India, and if it stays united, Europe.
So, the capitalist class in the USA, as elsewhere, tries to profit from not just globalization, but also from nationalism. Here is a short list of the repressive regimes:
- The extreme right is in power in the USA, Philippines, Brazil and Hungary while there are autocratic monarchies in Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States; the army rules direct in Egypt after the coup, in Thailand and Myanmar, and there are repressive regimes in Turkey, Russia, China, and Singapore. Right-wing fascist parties are on the rise in Germany, Sweden, Holland, Spain and Italy.
Uprisings, Rebellions, Mutinies ... Revolutions?
As I mentioned at the start, there are all manner of instabilities inherent in capitalism and growing.
And, in addition, people constantly rise up in uprisings, rebellions, mutinies and revolutions.
After the last round of rebellions in the Arab Spring in 2010-11, following social media organizing to “come out on to the streets” or “come to the square” without any further idea of why or then what, most of the gains have been reversed. So that overthrowing Mubarak led to an election, which led to an army coup.
But, today there is a new wave of protests that looks further into the future:
- The Palestinians in Gaza have every Friday since 30 March 2018 protested on “March of Return to Our Land”. There is a clear demand in the call to the movement. Does this movement mean the beginning of the end of the two-state strategy, with Palestinians confronting the Israeli State direct, calling for land and democracy?
- The Yellow Vest movement has been on the streets for 13 weeks now. This is a totally new form of action. It has no leader or leaders. And it began, not in Paris, but in the countryside of France. From the start it had a demand: remove the tax on fuel. But with President Macron’s delays in responding and with the crying inequality in society, people then started “notebooks of demands”, an old revolutionary tradition. Macron, encircled, eventually said people should put their demands to their Mayors (France has 35,000 mayors), and is now preparing for a referendum to attempt to defuse the mutiny.
- Yellow Vests in Reunion, Mauritius’ neighbour in the Indian Ocean, were even more creative in some ways, and denounced colonization at the same time as class inequality (See two articles on our website on the Yellow Vests in France and Reunion (6).
- Anti-Slave Law Protests: There has been an ongoing protest movement begun in December 2018 by the Hungarian working class against new over-time laws called Slave Laws.
- Rebellion against Bread Prices and then for President Omar al-Bashir’s resignation began in December with the removal of bread subsidies. Here, like in France, the protests were born in the countryside – in Atbara – and only later became uprisings in Khartoum.
- South Africa: The working class and students have both been on strike in recent months.
- In the USA, the fall in strikes since the Reagan repressive laws has now at last begun to change. Teachers have had successful strikes. Women have mobilized against patriarchy and against Trump, and school children have mobilized by the tens of thousands against the bizarre US gun laws.
- Zimbabwe: demonstrations against fuel price rises quickly turned against President Mnagagwa.
- Ethiopia: The new leader of the existing government party, Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, has brought in amnesties for political prisoners, an end to the war with Eritrea, and an acceptation of women in all kinds of new roles. This is important because it shows that the people of a country, left to their own devices, can oust or, in this case, change the nature of a regime without the USA bombing the country.
- There were nearly 2,000 strikes in China over the past year. See China Labour Bulletin – interactive map.
- India saw the world’s biggest strike ever. 200 million workers participated in the two-day strike on a list of clear demands. (Green Left Weekly 16 Jan 2019.)
Internationalism, international links
Internationalism is important, not just as a moral imperative, but for political reasons. Socialism is not possible in just one country. Capitalism will not allow it. So, we need a dynamic towards socialism everywhere in the world – in combined and unequal leaps and bounds. This is why LALIT puts so much emphasis not just on a program for Mauritius, but also for a world-wide program for the working class. It is partly our responsibility to develop this movement. However difficult the task may seem, it is essential. Here are some of the things we are already working on.
1. LALIT exchanges publications with parties and left organizations in France, the USA, UK, Australia, India, Namibia, Japan. And we read these in our Documentation Centre, and then give them to branches to further read them.
2. LALIT also exchanges messages with political organizations abroad. Sometimes this involves translations – as with the Japanese organization we send messages to. It helps co-ordinate political work against US military bases. Then the messages are printed in the Japanese/Mauritian magazines as well.
3. We hold actions when necessary. Regularly, on Palestine – and we have two members who have been in international brigades in Palestine. We held protests for the freeing from US jail of Oscar Lopez Riviera from Puerto Rico. LALIT was at the head of the Mauritian anti-apartheid movement, led the anti-war movement over both Gulf Wars, and the anti-military-base movement.
4. Our members go to international political conferences and gatherings – last year two members went to the Lutte Ouvriere gathering, and one went to an anti-war gathering in Oxford, while another went to public meetings on the land question in Johannesburg. We have been to all kinds of political conferences in South Africa, Australia, France, Belgium, the UK, the USA and India, and to anti-base meetings in India and Ecuador.
5. We have international political visitors, and speakers at our conferences. For example, at our International Action Conferences on Diego Garcia in 2010 and 2016, and at our Symposium on the Phenomenon of NGOs. Most recently, we have had speakers from the Yellow Vests in Reunion and from South Africa. We also met a comrade from Cambodia this last year.
6. During campaigns like the one for Diego Garcia to be taken as an issue to the ICJ, by going through the UN General Assembly, LALIT has done everything from contacting left parties, to approaching and getting support from MPs, and interesting journalists in knowing the much-hidden truth, too.
7. Internationalism is also sometimes in our local campaigns. We once ran a poster campaign in his constituency calling for the late Minister of Trade Jayen Cuttaree not to offer services in education up for grabs to the WTO.
8. At once point we had a functioning Indian Ocean Network – with a regular publication and with meetings of parties in the region.
9. Our magazine Revi LALIT has started an international editorial, as well as a national one.
10. Our website keeps enough articles in English, and sometimes French, so give it an international readership – which it does have.
Decentralized Internationalism at party level
This year each of LALIT’s Regionals will be in charge of following world events and trends from the point of view of a different continent:
LALIT Curepipe-South – From the African perspective.
LALIT East – South-East Asia
LALIT Q. Bornes – Asia Pacific
LALIT Rose-Hill – American continent.
LALIT North – the Middle East
Port Louis – Europe
This will help us understand the push towards, on the one hand, unification and on the other hand, tearing asunder.
Our International Commission – a cross-branch open structure – will be being re-launched in March. We aim at more pro-active internationalist work.
So, that’s the world in 45 minutes.
Lindsey Collen 3 Feb 2019
(1) www.lalitmauritius.org/Pr/documents.html?p=2 and John Bellamy Foster’s work on this.
(2) Humanity: The World Before Religion, War & Inequality (2016) by Canadian journalist Barry Brown for what is a brief, popular outline of this 3 million year history.
(3) Original article has detailed footnotes on economic size, and projected size of top 10 countries, compared to their military size.
(4) [However, for USA drone and plane attacks see investigative journalist site: