We are witnessing the rise of a unique brand of U.S. fascism, which has once again reared its ugly head and has made higher education one of its primary targets. This fascist attack on the university is made possible by the longstanding neoliberal withering of its institutions, which now rely mostly on underpaid contingent workers. The disempowerment of university labor runs hand-in-hand with a right-wing ideological front — rooted in rampant anti-intellectualism and rugged individualism — which seeks to control what knowledge universities can produce and teach. In order to counter this attack on higher education, faculty unions must scale up their organizing efforts against neoliberalism and the rising tide of fascism. It is not surprising that former President Donald Trump accused universities of “radical left indoctrination.”
All regimes based on class antagonism require a discourse to legitimise class oppression and this discourse in turn requires a vocabulary of its own. The neoliberal regime too has developed its own discourse and vocabulary and a key concept in this vocabulary is “populism”. This concept is given great currency by the media, which is peopled by members drawn from the upper middle class who have been major beneficiaries of the neo-liberal regime and have therefore developed a vested interest in its continuation. So pervasive is the reach of this concept that even well-meaning and progressive members of the literati have fallen victim to its abuse and employ the term with the pejorative connotation typically imparted to it by the corporate-owned media. The term “populism” of course is not an invention of the neo-liberal intelligentsia.
Lula da Silva has returned as president of Brazil, the world’s sixth-most populous country. This will cause a major geopolitical shift. Meanwhile, far-right former leader Jair Bolsonaro fled to Florida, fearing legal consequences for his corruption. Multipolarista spoke with Brazil-based journalist Brian Mier about what Lula’s third government means for Latin America and the world. In his speech before the congress at his January 1 inauguration, Lula he stressed that everyone has the “right to a dignified life, without hunger, with access to employment, health, education.” He said his “life mission” is to guarantee that every Brazilian has three meals a day. As president, Lula said he is a “representative of the working class” who “promotes economic growth in a sustainable way and to the benefit of all, especially those most in need.” He committed himself to the “widest social participation, including workers and the poorest in the budget.”
“What is it that people really want?” Stacy Mitchell, Co-Director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, posed at an event hosted by the Center for Political Economy, Columbia Law School, and the Financial Times. Humans have survived for millennia based on our ability to work together to serve each other’s needs. “Community,” Stacy posits, “is a deeply held biological and spiritual need.” The event, “Rethinking Globalization, Intermediation, and Efficiency,” gathered journalists, academics, and advocates to explore new paradigms for a post-neoliberal world. Stacy explained how neoliberalism has “actively demeaned and destroyed communities as self-conscious and self-governing places. It has stripped places of their economic and political power and it has rendered them subservient to distant entities,” namely powerful corporations.
The International Labour Organisation’s Global Wage Report 2022–23 tracks the horrendous collapse of real wages for billions of people around the planet. The gaping distance between the incomes and wealth of 99% of the world’s population from the incomes and wealth of the billionaires and near-trillionaires who make up the richest 1% is appalling. During the pandemic, when most of the world has experienced a dramatic loss in their livelihoods, the ten richest men in the world have doubled their fortunes. This extreme wealth inequality, now entirely normal in our world, has produced immense and dangerous social consequences. If you take a walk in any city on the planet, not just in the poorer nations, you will find larger and larger clusters of housing that are congested with destitution.
US and other western central banks – what Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega calls the “gang of assassins who control the global economy” – maintained low interest rates for much of the last decade which encouraged countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to take out large loans. Starting around 2021, interest rates were slowly raised. Coincident, the pandemic hit and developing countries were forced to go further into debt to fund Covid measures and cushion the effects of the economic dislocation. In these volatile times, the value of the US dollar has increased on international markets. For developing nations, this has meant higher interest payments coupled with capital flight to US financial markets in particular.
Latin America and the Caribbean have again began to take on a becoming pink complexion, all the more so with June’s historic electoral victory in Colombia over the country’s long-dominant US-backed rightwing and a similar reverse in Brazil in October. These electoral rejections of the rightwing followed left victories last year in Peru, Honduras, and Chile. And those, in turn, came after similar routs in Bolivia in 2020, Argentina in 2019, and Mexico in 2018. This electoral wave, according to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, speaking at the Climate Summit in November, “open[s] a new geopolitical age to Latin America.” This “Pink Tide” challenges US hemispheric hegemony, whose pedigree dates back to the 1823 Monroe Doctrine.
“He was my uncle. They killed him during the strike in the center of Puyo, here in Ecuador. He was my uncle, he was Oldemar Guatatoca Vargas.” Yolanda Vargas, a Shuar woman in her mid-30s, sits in her parked car in the remote jungle outpost of Palora, located within the province of Morona Santiago. She drove out there so she could get a cell phone signal to talk to me. The ride from her community takes roughly an hour over the dirt roads winding a narrow path through the Amazon. With everyone else in the community, besides her elderly and sick mother, in the capital of Quito taking part in El Paro Nacional—the National Strike—she’s had to bring her school-aged children with her, smooshed shoulder-to-shoulder in the front and back seats.
The agenda was set with the Lewis Powell Memorandum in 1971. Written at the request of the United States Chamber of Commerce, probably the most influential structure of capitalist rule at the time, the concern for the Chamber was the need to find a more coherent counter-offensive to the attacks against the system over the previous years. At the center of the anti-system attacks during the 1960s was, of course, the Black Liberation Movement and the Anti-War movement. Powell made the argument that the capitalist class had to recognize that their very survival was at stake and that meant capitalists had to understand that as a class their interests transcended their individual enterprises.
Mexico - The labor regime of the neoliberal period in Mexico is in full decline. It was already a degeneration of the successful corporatist system, a one-party political structure in which the state controlled the unions under the long-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party. Unions not only became state dependent under the PRI's corporatist system, but also entered a social pact with corporations to suppress wages and labor strife through “protection contracts,” so named because they protect employers from genuine worker organizing. This corporatist system was in full swing from the 1930s through the 1960s, when the Mexican economy grew rapidly—the fastest in Latin America—and workers organized in national industrial unions and confederations like the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM), the Revolutionary Confederation of Workers and Peasants (CROC), and the Regional Confederation of Mexican Workers (CROM) were rewarded with relatively good salaries and conditions.
On Saturday, November 5, over 15,000 people marched in London to protest the policies of the Tory government that have failed to tackle the soaring cost of living crisis and its attack on working class sections and social movements. The protest demonstration was called by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, trade unions, including the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), National Education Union (NEU), Communication Workers Union (CWU), Unite the Union, Trade Union Congress, and ASLEF, and groups such as Stand Up To Racism, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Just Stop Oil, Extinction Rebellion, and Keep Our NHS Public. Political parties including the Communist Party of Britain (CPB), Young Communist League (YCL-Britain), and MPs from the Labour Party also participated in the protest.
World-renowned linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, essayist, and political activist Noam Chomsky returns to The Chris Hedges Report to continue their discussion on contemporary fascism, the war in Ukraine, and the tasks of the left in a time of ecological and political crisis. Noam Chomsky is the author of more than 150 books on topics that include linguistics, the press, the inner workings of empire, and the war industry. He is a Laureate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Arizona and an Institute Professor Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His books include Hegemony or Survival, For Reasons of State, American Power and the New Mandarins, Understanding Power, The Chomsky-Foucault Debate: On Human Nature, On Language, Objectivity and Liberal Scholarship, The Fateful Triangle, and many others.
The IMF released a report today on the Bolivian economy in which it recommends adopting drastic neoliberal measures, including; reducing workers’ salaries, cutting public investments, and ending currency controls. These policies have turned Bolivia from one of the poorest countries in the region into it’s fastest-growing economy. The report takes aim at the government’s spending on development, saying, “The government must restrict spending, including eliminating the end of year wage bonus for workers, they must restrict the growth of wages for public sector workers, and limit the growth of public investment and subsidies.” The ‘end-of-year wage bonus’ for workers (in both the public and private sector) refers to a policy introduced under Evo Morales that requires employers to pay their workers a bonus equal to double their monthly wage, but only if annual GDP growth is over 4.5%.