In recent years, the concept of white supremacy has been associated with extreme racist groups and ultranationalists, as well as high profile acts of associated racial terrorism, particularly in Western countries. Some examples are: the massacre of nine African-American worshippers at Mother Emmanuel AME Church in South Carolina (USA), the violent white nationalist march in Charlottesville, Virginia (USA), the mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand that killed 51 people and injured 49, the Hanau, Germany attack that killed nine people and wounded six others, and the shooting deaths of eleven congregants in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (USA), among many others. There has also been a renewed rise of right-wing movements, politicians, and governments who espouse and advocate for ethno-nationalist and white supremacist policies.
On the heels of last week’s North America Trilateral Summit, from which not much changed within the migratory system, today’s episode will focus on migration as a for-profit industry which has turned migrating humans into commodities. Our guest Adrienne Pine is co-editor of the book Asylum for Sale: Profit and Protest in the Migration Industry published by PM Press in November 2020. Here is brief description: Through essays, artworks, photographs, infographics, and illustrations, Asylum for Sale: Profit and Protest in the Migration Industry regards the global asylum regime as an industry characterized by profit-making activity: brokers who facilitate border crossings for a fee; contractors and firms that erect walls, fences, and watchtowers while lobbying governments for bigger “security” budgets; corporations running private detention centers and “managing” deportations; private lawyers charging exorbitant fees; “expert” witnesses; and NGO staff establishing careers while placing asylum seekers into new regimes of monitored vulnerability. Humanity is not for sale, and no one is illegal.
Much has been made of the New International Economic Order (NIEO) since its formal announcement in the UN General Assembly on May Day nearly fifty years ago. As the most sustained attempt to reconfigure international relations since the establishment of the United Nations and Bretton Woods systems after the Second World War, the project served as a lodestone for a remarkably wide range of debates about the law, politics, and political economy of decolonization during the 1970s and into the 1980s. At its core lay a series of demands for greater aid, debt-relief and technology transfer, as well as a desire to facilitate rapid industrialization, secure strong rights to nationalize assets of foreign investors, normalize preferential treatment in international trade for developing countries, institute mechanisms to regulate the activities of multinational corporations, and provide restitution for resources depleted through colonialism and occupation.
John Thackara is one of the brilliant irregulars exploring how humankind can make the transition to a climate-friendly, relocalized, post-capitalist world. You can't pigeonhole him in any occupational category or disciplinary tradition because he is so effortlessly transversal. He blends his broadly international and nonsectarian perspective with the many particular projects that are Building the New. This helps explain why Thackara's work is so appealing: It speaks to us as whole human beings where we live, in distinctive local circumstances. While rigorous and empirical, Thackara isn't constrained by the jargon and norms of a particular discipline or theory. Like so many designers, he lives on the messy creative edge where interesting new things are always emerging. (Check out his website at thackara.com.)
On Friday, December 23, the M23 rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) officially handed over its positions in Kibumba, in North Kivu province, to the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF), citing the recommendations of the summit held in Luanda, Angola, in November. However, days after M23 announced its withdrawal from its seized positions in Kibumba, displaced communities have still not been able to return amid reports that rebel fighters are still present in the area. Meanwhile, fighting between M23, Congolese troops (FARDC), and an anti-M23 ‘self-defense’ militia continued on Monday, December 26, in the settlements of Bishusha and Tongo in North Kivu’s Rutshuru territory.
The US China relationship has become the dominant influence on the overall dynamics of international relations. China’s rise counters US hegemonism; it challenges the system of imperialist rule-making; at the same time China’s socialist orientation shows there is an alternative to capitalism. These three intertwined contradictions are fundamentally antagonistic but as Mao suggested antagonistic contradictions can also be handled in a non antagonistic way – of course depending on the circumstances. Today it is amidst the increasingly complex context of polycrises – of climate change, the pandemic, debt and economic recession, and now the Ukraine war – that we see the US and China engaged in a sharpening trial of strength.
In today’s political climate, the word racism has become taboo. Some on the “Left” take issue with the term because of how it has been co-opted by the neoliberal elite. This is understandable, since the neoliberal Democratic Party has indeed exploited race relations in the United States to forward a “lesser evil” but no less dangerous brand of U.S. imperialism. Racism is thus increasingly viewed as an ideological weapon of liberalism rather than a material force of oppression. So-called “conservatives” have pounced on the limitations of neoliberal racial politics to strengthen their own brand as crusaders against the “woke” politics of the Democrats. The problem with all of this is that racism is a very real manifestation of class struggle. Racism isn’t merely the hateful words and behaviors acted out by individuals. It isn’t simply a set of “institutional” problems that can be reformed away at the workplace or the criminal justice system, either. Some on the liberal “left” say that racism is “systemic,” but even this is misleading. Failing to name the system, U.S. imperialism, decontextualizes racism from its roots in class and power.
In this episode, Clearing the FOG brings back excerpts of a discussion from November 2018 with the now-deceased Glen Ford, the co-founder and Senior Editor of Black Agenda Report, and Kevin Zeese, the co-director of Popular Resistance, about fascism in the United States. This interview covers the origin of fascism in the United States and how it was emulated by European Nations and brought to Latin America through US intervention as well as how fascism is manifest today with support by some who would consider themselves on the Left. Ford and Zeese talk about the rise of fascism in Brazil and how consent for war with Russia and aggression toward China was manufactured. They end with suggestions for what we need to do now that is just as true today as it was four years ago.
The following commentary was written by Marxist economist, politician and former Finance Minister of Greece Yanis Varoufakis. He follows the first part of the debate “Ecological Catastrophe, Collapse, Democracy and Socialism” between the renowned American intellectual Noam Chomsky, the Chilean exponent of the new ideology of Collapsist Marxism Miguel Fuentes and climate scientist Guy McPherson. One of the main characteristics of Varoufakis’ comment (who describes himself as a “Libertarian Marxist”) is offering a balanced review of some of the main ideas expressed earlier in this debate. The latter from the perspective of the implications of current geopolitical events such as the Russo-Ukrainian war and what Vafourakis has defined as the beginning of a new Cold War. Varoufakis’ commentary thus constitutes both a necessary update and an informed closure of the first part of this ongoing discussion.
First it was the “Great Resignation.” Then it was “nobody wants to work anymore.” Now it’s “quiet quitting.” Yet it seems like no one wants to talk about what I see as the root cause of America’s economic malaise – work under contemporary capitalism is fundamentally flawed. As a political philosopher studying the effects of contemporary capitalism on the future of work, I believe that the inability to dictate and meaningfully control one’s own working life is the problem. Democratizing work is the solution. What can be said about the malaise surrounding work under capitalism today? There are at least four major problems: First, work can be alienating.
The story of essential workers during the pandemic is part of the long unraveling of the New Deal. The destruction of the welfare state, the attack on unions, and the rise of neoliberalism provide the historical backdrop for the pandemic labor unrest. As workers’ fortunes came under renewed attack in the early 1970s, the historic gains of the New Deal were rolled back decades. Inequality became the defining feature of our economy as we arrived at a second Gilded Age. This was more than unfair — during the pandemic it had deadly consequences. A 2020 study found that in over 3,000 U.S. counties, income inequality was associated with more cases and more deaths by the virus.
The COP27 meet is underway at Sharm el-Sheikh. Although the Ukraine War and mid-term elections in the United States shifted our immediate focus away from the battle against global warming, it remains a central concern of our epoch. Reports indicate we are not only failing to meet climate change goals but falling short of the targets by a large margin. Worse, methane greenhouse gas emissions have grown far faster than we knew, and pose as much of a climate change threat as carbon dioxide. Methane lasts for a shorter time in the atmosphere, but seen over a 100-year period, it is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. The result is we are almost certain to fail in our target to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees centigrade.