Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Critical Analysis of America's Philanthropist Champion Poster Boys


In the eyes of Bono, Corporations are good because they donate money to philanthropy, and Capitalism by means of multinationals is on the verge of fulfilling its good-natured potential of eliminating poverty and rescuing the peoples of the underdeveloped world. The singer turned goodwill benefactor has a very simplistic and convenient view of the world, and of how he thinks it should be changed. He strongly believes that the West's self-righteous, hypocritical intentions towards the third world are actually sincere and altruist ones. Altruism; an arrogant term used by the industrial nations that attempts to glorify the "selflessness" and "generosity" of capitalism, and the naive cover of a confused and contradictory theory on how to transform the world. I drew my examles from Bono's foreword to a book entitled "The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time" by an American economist named Jeffrey Sachs, and from a few basic premises in the book's preface and introduction.

Collaborating with the Perpetrators

In this three page foreword, Bono quotes, of all people, Colin Powell. He highlights something that was said by Colin Powell, a statement very typical of a high ranking U.S. official, a simple-minded, speech-written, Bush doctrine emblematic declaration; "The war against terror is bound up in the war against poverty." And this is what Bono has to say about it: "Who said that? Not me. Not some beatnick peace group. Secretary of State Colin Powell. And when a military man starts talking like that perhaps we should listen." For the foreword to a book about saving humanity, Bono quotes one of the world's leading warmakers, a facilitator of imperialism, he chooses a statement that doesn't even have any real substance to it, and praises it as if it was a profoundly insighful notion. Moreover, he completely confuses and distorts Mr.Powell's statement by saying that "In tense, nervous times isn't it cheaper-and smarter-to make friends out of potential enemies than to defend yourself against them?" First of all, this last sentence has absolutely nothing to do with any type of development or theory on development, and secondly, it says the complete opposite of what was meant by Mr.Powell's statement, which is to make war as a first resort, and to negotiate and ask questions later. Mr.Powell's fatal logic is to utilise the elimination of poverty as just another pretext to legitimize the use of institutionalized military aggression in the war against "terror".

Maybe what Bono believed Mr.Powell was trying to say, is that the best way to avoid terrorism is to combat poverty first. The logical reality is exactly that; the seemingly unbreakable cycle of endless poverty is one of the root causes of anger motivated terrorism, and so it must be addressed first. Unfortunately, what Mr.Powell meant, and the way the United-States operates, is to focus on terrorism first, and to worry about poverty later. Today, the United-States spends a daily total of $200 million on the war in Iraq. President Bush has requested an additional $800 billion for war-spending in Iraq in 2008, $600 billion of which has already been approved. The cost of deploying one U.S. soldier for a year in Iraq is $390,000. These figures are for the war in Iraq alone, not considering involvement in Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia, or other military spending commitments in Turkey, Israel, Ethiopia, Mexico, and Colombia to name only a few. It is interesting to wonder what our world would look like if the U.S. were to use this money to fight poverty instead of making war.

Bono and Mr.Jeffrey D. Sachs are advocates of a new school of thought, one that is bent on the belief that our generation is the first to possess the potential and capacity to eliminate poverty and to change the world for the better. Bono writes, "we are the first generation that can unknot the whole tangle of bad trade, bad debt, and bad luck." On the contrary, every single generation of capitalists has always had the capacity, and the wealth, to make the world equitable, to alter "the whole tangle of bad trade" and "bad debt", they simply choose and strive to do the opposite. And, to blame severe international class disparity on bad luck is a dangerously ignorant, black and white conception of how the world works.

Whatever fraction of our world philanthropy manages to repair imperialism ravages and despoils tenfold. Just as it would be unreasonable to expect a murderous, corrupt druglord to be the social saviour of his neighbourhood at the same time, it would be just as futile an appeal to request that capitalism cease the plunder and exploitation of our planet. The relationship between Capitalism/Imperialism and philanthropy is much like that of a large mafia paying off the crooked police force to continue on with their activities unabated. An economy based solution to fix a human problem is simply not viable.

A Human-Human Misperception

As one of the opening statements in the preface to his book, Mr.Sachs writes, "When we fight poverty and disease in any impoverished part of the world, and thereby bolster the world's shared commitments to human dignity and survival, the lives we save may truly include our own and our children's in some future turn of fortune." To that we must respond that if "we fight poverty and disease" to "bolster the world's shared commitments" only because "the lives we save may truly include our own and our children's in some future turn of fortune", then we are simply doing it for all the wrong reasons. Saving humanity should be about a genuine desire to establish human dignity and entrenched equality, not about good karma. It is a very sad and unfortunate reality that westerners need natural disasters or genocide to slap them in the face in order for them to realize the equal value of all human life.

One of Mr.Sachs' closing remarks in the preface is this: "Our politicians, in the final analysis, will follow our lead, not vice versa." What Mr.Sachs fails to understand, however, is that in the final battle, we will follow our own lead; a proffessional paid class of bureaucrat politicians is not a part of the equation. We, the humans, are the managers of humanity. We do not need arrogant millionaires in suits and ties to try and tell us how to govern.

But perhaps the statement which best exemplifies the major contradiction in Mr.Sachs' philosophy is this: Bono asks, "Will we in the West realize our potential or will we sleep in the comfort of our affluence with apathy and indifference murmuring soflty in our ears?" Instead of waiting for capitalism-based initiatives to save the day, we should urge the working class and desolate masses of the world, and even the middle class beyond them to realize that the West and the whole idea of the "West" needs to be dismantled. We must realize that the notion of the "West" and the "East", the class nature of this world, is the undeniable cause of the persistant inequality and poverty which characterizes our planet in the first place. So it is not a question of the West fixing the rest of the world, rather it is a question of the rest of the World fixing the West.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Is CIDA Slowly Becoming an Instrument of Canada's Imperialist Policies?

Canada in the past has had a commendable reputation in terms of international aid and development. But in recent years as capitalist globalization is forced onto underdeveloped nations by the world's powers in response to the perpetually worsening crisis of capitalism, Canada's foreign policy spurred on in part by the ascendance of the Conservatives has taken on an increasingly imperialist agenda, and CIDA (The Canadian International Development Agency) has also been severely compromised as a result.

In an October 18th article in The Globe and Mail last week was revealed a report on CIDA which blames the organization's shortcomings mainly on political and government instability at home, and on its efforts being streched too thin throughout too many countries. "While CIDA is responsible both for policy and for implementing the major portion of Canada's development assistance, its mandate is weak, and its reports to parliament are not sufficiently development results-oriented." Interesting that CIDA's activities are not "sufficiently development results-oriented" since the one and only goal of a development agency should be, clearly, international development. CIDA's website clealy states that "the purpose of Canada's Official Development Assistance is to support sustainable development in developing countries, in order to reduce poverty and to contribute to a more secure, equitable, and prosperous world." It is also important to note that despite Canada's reputation for exceeding expectations in terms of funding for international development, and despite the fact that Canada increased its official development assistance to $3.7 billion last year, it still falls "well short of the UN goal of 0.7% of GDP." The report printed in The Globe and Mail also goes on to say that "CIDA is too heavily focused on its headquarters in Gatineau, Que., with less than 10% of its Canada hired staff actually working abroad." This begs the question that if the majority of CIDA staff are not actually working abroad creating tangible social development results, then what exactly are they doing? They are so heavily soaked with hefty bureaucratic processes, that their energy is being wasted at home rather than being more internationally oriented. This report was undertaken by the OECD(Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), a token organization of the capitalist world much like the World Trade Organization or the World Bank, and so the fact that it is speaking badly about one of its own players does not bode well for CIDA.

In August of this year, the Senlis Council released a report on CIDA's role in Afghanistan entitled; The Canadian International Development Agency in Kandahar: Unanswered Questions. The Good News highlights the great work that the International Committee of the Red Cross has accomplished. The Bad News reports on a wide range of failures in CIDA's missions. "Mirwais Hospital: We could not find evidence of CIDA work or of CIDA funded work at Kandahar Hospital that matched the information given to us by CIDA. We were not able to find the Maternal Waiting Home project at Kandahar Hospital listed by CIDA as one of their projects there, not did we see evidence that the funds CIDA states have been given to hospital had reached the hospital. The situation at the hospital remains desperate."

The report goes on to criticize CIDA's work in terms of food aid saying that "CIDA stated that through their funded partners on the ground in Kandahar, they have distributed thousands of tons of food to starving people throughout Kandahar. We were not able to obtain information on any specific food distribution points so as to validate this claim."

As far as infrastructure development goes, something the Canadian government frequently boasts about, this is what Senlis had to say: "CIDA stated that they have given 18.5 Million Canadian dollars towards Kandahar infrastructure development. We found evidence of 5 Million Canadian dollars having been transferred to Kandahar. During the period of this research we were able to visit one CIDA-funded project in this category: CIDA is funding the construction of a new bridge in Kandahar. Construction on the bridge began earlier this year and is expected to continue for just over two years. This is a potential example of important development progress that puts local Afghans to work. According to workers interviewed at the site however, there is no accident or medical insurance included for the workers so that if they are injured on the job, they are replaced without compensation. Also, children were seen as part of the construction work force."

In regards to refugees and displaced persons Senlis stated, "We had previously raised deep concerns and questions with regard to the large numbers of Afghans living in informal conditions through Kandahar province who had fled fighting, bombing, drought and crop eradication. It was confirmed that the largest refugees settlement in Kandahar province has not received food aid since March 2006. We were unable to find comprehensive programs for these groups of people. CIDA uses at least five different bureaucratic categories for hungry or starving people in Kandahar and if Afghans are unfortunate enough to fall into the wrong category, they go without aid. As stated above we were not able to validate any widespread CIDA food aid program in Kandahar."

Something else to consider is the role CIDA played in support of the coup to overthrow the democratically elected government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti in 2004. The American, Canadian, and French backed interim government of Gerard Latortue was qucik to seek a complete rehaul of the administration with the appointment of brand new ministers and the recall of ambassadors mainly from Caricom neighbour countries. The then Deputy Minister of "justice" in Haiti during the interim phase was Phillipe Vixamar, an employee of CIDA, who was given his position by CIDA, and oversaw the illegal arrest and detention of political prisoners, and the release of notorious right-wing paramilitary death squad leaders. I also found out from an Ottawa based activist from Haiti Solidarity group, that top CIDA officials in 2004 during the coup were pulling strings behind the scenes to urge the interim government to sign on to an IADB(Inter-American Development Bank) or IMF(International Monetary Fund) economic package. It is completely unconstitutional for an interim government to sign on to any sort of economic agreement, contract, or package, economic or otherwise, yet CIDA officials were actively pushing for this, evidence that in contrast to their lofty development goals, and contradictory to the agency's vocation of democratic governance, a people's right to self-determination is clearly not on CIDA's list of top priorities.

When talking about Canada's role in Afghanistan supporters of the mission are always quick to mention the crucial role Canada is playing in the development of infrastructure, the building of bridges, an aspect of the mission both Canadian soldiers and CIDA are suppossedly involved with. I had a conversation the other day with a Canadian soldier who had been stationed in Afghanistan, and he told me he strongly supported the mission, that he believed it was a good mission, "what about the bridges they're building?" he told me. These fantastic bridges are something I hear about quite often, but if that is the only thing they have to boast about, then there is reason to seriously question the human objectives of Canada's mission in Afghanistan. CIDA's official list of priorities in addition to poverty reduction, democratic governance, health, basic education, equality between women and men, and environmental sustainability, also includes PRIVATE SECTOR DEVELOPMENT. This is simply not compatible with CIDA's humanitarian principles because private sector development is not synonymous with human growth. The fact that Canadian efforts in Afghanistan have been very successful at building bridges to facilitate the implementation of neo-liberal policies, is very far from indicating that the mission is an honest and altruist one.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Unfair Slander and Criticism Towards a Genuinely Humanitarian Revolution


Every possible political insult in the book has been thrown at President Hugo Chavez and Venezuela’s Socialist Revolution; aspiring dictator, totalitarian, authoritarian, even juvenile, irresponsible stabs such as “oil-intoxicated autocrat” are heard or read regularly. But Mr.Chavez utilizes the name-calling game to his advantage to make the Bush administration, the imperialist world, and the western media look foolish time and time again. The war of words goes on and even reputed media such as The Economist continue to relentlessly attack the Bolivarian Revolution week after week, not granting any credit where legitimate credit is do, to the creation of arguably the most profoundly democratic nation in the world. This paper will expose the inaccuracies, contradictions, and aggressive slander printed in several articles on Venezuela in The Economist.


The western media and the Bush administration continuously attack and trash talk Venezuela’s programme of natioanalisation as undemocratic and violating the rights of private property. President Chavez is certainly not concerned, nor should he be, about expropriating capital from enormously wealthy multinationals, or about breaking a business deal, for example, between Verizon and giant magnate Carlos Slim, one of the richest men in the world who owns three quarters of Mexico. Also, Venezuela seems to have been nice enough so far to conduct nationalization ‘lawfully’, that is, within the imperialist superstructure of power, after the finance minister declared that any nationalisation would require compensation be paid. Despite even this, Venezuela should not have to compensate big business financially or otherwise, what is inside Venezuela rightfully belongs to the Venezuelan people, and even if to the West this is considered the pillage of capital, Robin Hood theory prevails because multinationals have been plundering Venezuelan wealth and resources for decades. It is also important to note that the proposed nationalizations are for industries such as telecoms, electricity, oil, and natural gas, key industries which should be in national hands in the first place, at the service of the Venezuelan proletariat.


In the same article, The Economist again cries undemocratic abuse at the fact that the Venezuelan government will not be renewing “the broadcasting license of RCTV, the largest opposition run television channel, meaning it will be off the air by June.” Because of this the Venezuelan oligarchy, the opposition, and the imperialists accuse President Chavez of authoritarianism, of undemocratic ways, of attempting to silence the opposition. In May and early June of 2007 the opposition organized a protest campaign proclaiming “No al Cierre”, no to the closure of RCTV, which is actually just a slander campaign in collaboration with western media to make Chavez and his government look like oppressive criminals. The Economist writes that “by closing RCTV, which he dislikes because it supported a coup against him in 2002, Mr.Chavez is sending a message to the rest of the media to toe the line, or else.” It is important to stress, first of all, that RCTV did not simply support the 2002 coup attempt, it actively participated, and this has been explicitly proven. In actuality the Venezuelan government is not being undemocratic by lawfully not renewing the broadcasting license of a delinquent television station with a slanderous agenda, which unlawfully participated in a coup to overthrow a democratically elected government. Neither is the government trying to send a message to the rest of the media, they are simply not tolerating criminal aspirations within their own borders and responding adequately as any country would do. Take for example if the Democrats in the U.S. tried a full-blown coup attempt against the Bush administration, with military and media involvement, and foreign collaborators, it is absurd to think the Republicans would stand by and do nothing, and I suppose President Bush would openly be labeled as an autocratic dictator in the international media for taking legal action against the coup conspirators.


In December of 2006 Hugo Chavez and his party won the presidential election again quite comfortably with 63 % of the electorate, an election which was fair and clean with the opposition candidate Manuel Rosales claiming 37 %. A few months later western media was still printing slander unwilling to admit that the election was without fraud, even though they know the result was completely legitimate, and despite the fact that even Mr.Rosales himself has stated on more than one occasion that the election process was impartial. A few days after the election The Economist printed : “a minority still believes Mr.Chavez can win only by fraud. Many Venezuelans distrust the government dominated electoral authority.” The article, however, immediately after goes on to say that in response to these allegations the government “has made efforts to accommodate its critics. Mr.Rosales’ aides say they will be able to detect any manipulation of the vote.” Also around the time of the election “Mr.Rosales quashed moves by radical anti-Chavez groups to take to the streets alleging a non-existent fraud.” clearly indicating there was no fraud to complain about, yet still the media continues to make unfounded claims that the election process may have been tampered with.

In the days following the election President Chavez elaborated on a set of new socialist measures the government has already set in motion, and will continue to establish during the next few years. Referring to the new measures with negative connotation, The Economist compares them to “a similar package in 2001, which sparked a three year opposition campaign to unseat the president that included a failed coup attempt and a two month general strike.” The coup attempt in 2002 failed because of massive protest demonstrations that overwhelmed the center of Caracas and the Presidential Palacio de Miraflores, frightening the opposition, and forcing them to return President Chavez to power. The two month “general strike” was in fact not a strike, but rather a bosses’ lockout with intentions to paralyze the Venezuela economy. These attempts also were eventually squashed by mass revolutionary support, and oil production resumed under workers’ control. This mighty opposition campaign culminated with a referendum in 2004 to option the removal of President Chavez from office, in which the Venezuelan public again voted confidently in favour of the Revolution. Since Hugo Chavez and the MVR were elected nearly ten years ago, they have won no less than 10 electoral processes, including elections and referenda. When all this is considered, the skepticism about the legitimacy of the December 2006 election begins to look even more ridiculous, and most certainly unfounded. For almost a decade now, every time the reactionary oligarchy and the helping hand of imperialism have attempted to ignite counter-revolution, the solidarity of Socialist Internationalism and the Venezuelan people have always responded with vigorous and impassioned support.

Dissident Accusations, Education, and the Military

Teodoro Petkoff, ex-editor of an opposition newspaper and supporter of Mr.Rosales’ presidential campaign accuses President Chavez of totalitarianism, he vigorously criticizes economic policy, and how Mr.Chavez handles domestic management. Shortly after the December election he accused the Revolution of “politicizing the armed forces” and of “using education as a tool for indoctrination.” Of course the armed forces are systematically politicized as they are in every single country in the world, and of course education is being used to instill genuine, truthful, and righteous socialist ideals and values, just as capitalist orthodoxy is preached through education in capitalist society. The imperialist armies of capitalism are politicized with extreme right-wing ideology, the notion that pre-emptive contingency aggression is ethically acceptable to forcefully bring about the ‘necessary’ structuring of neo-liberal globalization. Economic and military dominance and superiority becomes a ‘virtue’. The armed forces of socialist nations on the other hand are politicized as the guardians of humanity, as defenders against imperial and mercenary violence. They are instructed principles of aggression only in safeguarding their motherland or as freedom fighters in liberation of their exploited human brothers and sisters. They are taught the necessity and significance of economic independence and political sovereignty. In the Imperialist world there are public national armies of imperialism to serve private interests, and there are private mercenary armies of imperialism to serve private interests. In the world of Socialism there are only people’s armies to serve the interests of humanity.

Capitalist education indoctrinates children and adolescents with a few basic principles. The acceptance of a generic, standardized life, obedience to superiors and to the powers-that-be, a dangerously over-zealous sense of competition, and the dogmatic urgency of individual success and accolades. The “indoctrination” Mr.Petkoff speaks of, on the contrary, is simply children and adolescents being instilled with a strong Love of Humanity. They are educated to understand that respect, equality, and community must be the core values of our international family, and to utilize these pillars to become “the fullest, the most complete of human beings”, someone “who is never a stranger to the warmth of human contact.” This is the nucleus of values which is instilled and politicized into the Socialist children and armed forces of Venezuela and of the world, and achieved not only with education, but naturally through dialectical human interaction and experience, a method which is the complete opposite of conventional indoctrination as the West sees it.


The Imperialist camp and the western media are always quick to brand so called populist governments as authoritarian, totalitarian, etc., but they tend to forget that ‘populist’ governments are popular for a reason. Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution with 63% in the latest presidential election, and President Mbeki and his African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa win elections with about 70% of the electorate. These are two good examples. The fact that people’s governments are so convincingly victorious in landslide elections does not necessarily indicate a breach of democracy, on the contrary, unified nations which support a government with substantial majorities, and governments who genuinely listen to the people’s voices and demands, in fact manifest the best examples of democracy. The media tends to overlook the fact that Mr.Chavez’s government is popular because they have channeled billions in oil revenue to social programmes in healthcare, education, and food subsidies to a people neglected and decimated for a century by self serving puppet oligarchies and IMF economic packages. The Revolution is also proceeding with the nationalization of the economy in order to secure financial independence with complete political sovereignty for its people as the ultimate goal. All these ventures which favour the working class in a country whose populace is extremely hostile to neo-liberal policies due to decades of suffering and exploitation under Punto Fijismo and the heavy hand of Imperialism. That is why President Chavez’s government is popular.

The media tends to forget that ‘populist’ leaders such as Nelson Mandela and Ex-President Mbeki of the African National Congress are popular because they make great efforts to alleviate poverty, and are now lifting millions into the middle-class in a country that used to be majority poor and oppressed for decades under the apartheid regime. Because they platform around Black Economic Empowerment, (BEE), in a country with a population that is 80% Black.

Just because a party receives more than 55% of votes in an election does not immediately indicate fraud or authoritarian rule, as the neurotic, paranoid, double-standard logic of the west understands it. There is such a thing as a government with an overwhelming majority of people’s power, in a fully and uncompromised democratic country.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The One Track Mind of Canada's Conservative Government

The rampant poverty, homelessness, and drug abuse of Vancouver's downtown eastside is part of a larger story that says a lot about Stephen Harper's Conservative government in Canada. This past week United Nations special rapporteur Miloon Kothari was in Vancouver to adress the city's worsening social crisis, in reponse to calls from dozens of local activists and politicians. Mr.Kothari also took various testemonies from homeless people around the city. At a townhall meeting Tuesday, October 16th, Mr.Kothari claimed that "contrary to official statistics, which show poverty is decreasing as is homelessness, the evidence on the street is quite the contrary." Interesting to speculate as to why these official statistics do not paint an accurate picture of what is actually taking place on the city's streets.

Members of the advocacy group Carnegie Community Action Project trying to find solutions to Vancouver's street crisis face such an overwhelming task with no help or cooperation coming from the Canadian government. The group requested that the UN representative pressure all levels of government to spend more on subsidized housing. So desperate is the situation that when meeting with Mr.Kothari, the CCAP "asked him if there's another country that could donate housing for homeless people" in Vancouver. With the Conservatives recently announcing a nearly $18 billion budget surplus, it will be interesting to see how much of that, if any, the govenrment will allocate to spending on subsidized housing.

Recently I was told by a Venezuelan friend and fellow activit about an analogy given by Hugo chavez. Imagine the father of a household who has millions and millions of dollars in his bank account, he lives in a mansion, has beautiful cars, and enjoys the finest foods, yet his wife and children live in a seperate part of the house without adequate heating, no clean running water, and an essential lack of clothing and food. This sort of deplorable greed and inequality would not make sense to anybody, neither is it acceptable for the Government of Canada to castigate its working class and homeless population to misery. This is a clear indication of what the priorities of this government really are, the rollback of social security at home on the bottom layers of society, and the doling out of economic pivilege to the ruling class with the imperialist war drive in Afghanistan. The policies and actions of the Conservative government so far are a perfect example of the fatal glory of the contradictory development of capitalism. Canada is a very rich country, and it is absolutely ridiculous, and outrageous, that our people are forced to even consider looking elsewhere for financial help to solve our internal deficiencies. The Conservatives desperately want to extend Canada's military mandate in Afghanistan until 2011, they have enough money to appoint a five-member panel of "emminent" persons to investigate the future of Canada's mission in Afghanistan and to pay them each between $850-$1400 a day to do so, they have enough money to double military spending, they have enough money to spend on extravagant expeditions to extend Canada's sovereignty in the Arctic in order to provide real estate for Canadian corporations, yet they cannot even face the fundamental responsibility of taking care of their own people.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Building The Anti-War Movement

One of the main themes for Mobilization Against War and Occupation(MAWO) Vancouver which has been highlighted in our recent discussions has been the growth of the Anti-War movement, around the world, but especially in Canada and the United-States. The Anti-War movement of the late 60s and 70s in the United-States was, at its peak, a tremendous force, but like any other social justice movement it transformed itself over years of struggle and ups and downs. MAWO Vancouver is probably the most active anti-war organization in North America, but by no means is it the biggest, and the message which has been stressed by the veteran activists and revolutionaries of MAWO, is that the growth of the anti-war movement here in Vancouver and all accross North America and beyond requires first and foremost utmost patience. As was shown by the Anti-War Movement of the 60s and 70s, it will take years and years for the movement to grow from thousands to hundreds of thousands of active supporters, and along with those years of patience is required from the leadership the unwavering maintenance of a strong, grounded, and consistent position. Our position must never soften or shift giving any sort of concessions to the right, it must be one of militant and genuinely revolutionary committment, but we must also avoid the risk of alienating and losing the masses by going too far left.

One of the most common problems in the early stages of an anti-war movement is that our moral supporters are quick to doubt the effectiveness of our smaller numbers, and become impatient because they cannot see immediate tangible results. A few days ago myself and a copule of fellow revolutionaries were tableing and petioning at Simon Fraser University. I approached and began to speak with two women who both signed the petition. The older of the two told me she would gladly sign the petition, but that she thought it was all in vain, that she wasn't seeing any results from our efforts, and that our numbers are too small for us to make a difference. The unfortunate reality is that there are so many people out there, just like that woman, who believe in our cause, but think it is simply not worth making an effort. In response to that, the important thing to realize is that if we can convert all those moral supporters into active supporters, the Anti-War Movement will quickly swell from hundreds, to thousands, to tens of thousands, and beyond.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

CUPE 1004 Accept Deal with an Apologetic Leadership


On Sunday October 14th Vancouver CUPE Local 1004(outside workers) voted to accept a deal ending a nearly three month old strike, joining CUPE local 15(Inside workers) which also voted to end its strike just a couple of days earlier. Meanwhile CUPE local 391(library workers) with a more militant rank and file and so far loyal leadership rejected the most recent deal offered them. They took a principled stand in a strong show of solidarity with their union brothers and sisters in rejecting this opportunistic deal which attempted to buy off the votes of half the workers.

Mike Jackson, the president of Local 1004, was quoted as saying "I'm apologizing to the public...The city, they're just as much at fault." The Union leadership is completely out of line in apologizing for the workers' struggle. The attitude of the leadership should be that a few extra garbage bags is a very small price to pay compared to what the benefitless auxiliary workers, some of which have been essentially on call for over a decade, have to face. And, in saying that the workers were at fault, as if this was an administrative misunderstanding rather than a genuine working class issue, almost insinuating the strike action had been innapropriate. Mr.jackson should reconsider his position, or his choice of words.

Of course, with the end of the CUPE 1004 strike, the selfish, narrow-minded conclusion of West Vancouverites was relief that their garbage would finally be picked up. A woman was quoted as saying in the October 15th Globe and Mail, "I'm looking forward to living in a city that's working again." So according to this statement the fact that neglected, exploited city workers who struggle for humble dignity are striking in demand of basic social decency and job security while big-wig municipal bureaucrats are granted disproportionately high pay increases constitutes a dysfunctional city. On the contrary, the recent wave of strikes and labour activity in British-Columbia and elsewhere in Canada is a very positive and necessary sign. Canadian labour will have to strengthen itself in 2008 and beyond in the face of the Conservatives' increasingly neo-liberal agenda of imperial ambitions, and the consequent attack on social services in their war at home.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Significance of Ecuador's Revolution in Latin America and Slanders Against It


If traditionally the term "axis" denotes evil and if a group of nations who are "allied", on the other hand, are the representatives of altruism and the defenders of humanity, then the right-wing media needs to either completely reconsider these definitions, or to adopt the practice of being scrupulously selective with what countries it labels into the "axis" category. In an article of the September 1st-7th 2007 edition of The Economist (A Wannabe Chavez Short of Oil), Ecuador's Rafael Correa, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales in Bolivia, and Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega are reffered to together as forming a "radical anti-American axis." These countries are in fact radical, but they are so only in that they seek to create authentic and lasting change in their continent, and for that to happen they necesarily have to be anti-American. These four countries also do not have the interests of imperialism and multinationals at heart, and it seems that is justifiable grounds to slander their profoundly democratic realities. So if the Revolutionary socialist movement in Latin America because of its intentions on dismantling the imperialist superstructure of power in the continent is an "axis" of radical anti-Americanism, then U.S. imperialism along with the neo-liberal governments of Mexico, Colombia, and Peru can accurately be reffered to as a reactionry axis against humanity.

The article goes on to say that "Mr.Correa's political experience is limited to striking radical poses rather than engaging in the art of the possible." What The Economist condescendingly refers to as "striking radical poses" is in fact Mr.Correa's fiery words and virtuous courage to make substantial social promises to his people. He unhesitatingly engages in this national dialogue between leader and nation, a reciprocal dialectic confidence, because he knows that with the help of his people those promises can and will be accomplished. The second part of that statement, "rather than engaging in the art of the possible", suggests that what Rafael Correa and Ecuadoreans are trying to acieve through Socialism of the 21st Century (political sovereignty and economic independence) is impossible, or at least vey innappropriate in the eyes of U.S. imperialism. The only thing the West sees as "the art of the possible" for underdeveloped countries, is free market economies and the imposition of neo-liberal policies.

In the very next paragraph they continue their trivial attack on Mr.Correa by quoting a representative from a polling firm, who claims "people say he doesn't handle himself like a statesman...He doesn't call for dialogue, he argues and fights." This is said from the point of view of the sterile world of western politics, which refuses to acknowledge that Mr.Correa doesn't conduct himself like a good, compliant "statesman" because revolutionaries like himself, and Hugo Chavez, and Evo Morales don't play the same game as right-wing politicians, and so don't abide by the same rules. They also fail to understand that arguing and fighting is what genuine people's politicians must do in order t achieve tangible social results.

They go on to lament the initiative of the constituent assembly saying that "changing a constitution adopted only a decade ago is hardly the most effective way to address the problems of ordinary Ecuadoreans." Yet, they overlook the fact that the 80% of "ordinary" Ecuadoreans who voted in favour of the constituent assembly in April think that rewriting the constitution is exactly what is needed to address the country's problems.

They compare Ecuador's economy with what Alan Garcia has done for his country's economy, yet they say nothing of Peru's worsening social disasters after his first year in office. They mention only that Peru's annual rate of growth is twice that of Ecuador's. Cuba's Granma newspaper in a recent article refers to APRA's neoliberal policies in Peru as granting "exorbitant privileges for capital and foreign interests, and the deepening of social inequalities" and points to privatization schemes that "have left the country exposed to transnational impunity." While a high growth rate on paper is a nice statistic for the World Bank, the IMF, or the IADB, it doesn't necessarily mean improved conditions for poor working class majorities, and the amount of foreign investment in a country is not a measuring stick for national progress or development.

What The Economist's article and what the western media in general clearly demonstrate is that the imperialists are either terrified by the events unfolding in Ecuador, or completely in denial. The fact is that at present the Ecuadorean people and its leaders are in the right place, and doing the right things. Mr.Correa is so harshly criticized precisely because he is doing exactly what the imperialists don't want him to do. But, he must relentlessly continue on transcending the oppressive structure of the capitalist bureaucracy and the priviliges of the imperialist puppet oligarchy. He must do so alongside the Ecuadorean people by utilising tools such as the constituent assembly, and by creating a participatory socialism based on development and equality, to replace Ecuador's old procedural and individualistic "democracy" of exclusion and exploition. The examles of what exists in Cuba, and what is being built in Venezuela and Bolivia, serve not as carbon copies, but as sources of reference, support, and inspiration. With yet another oligarch domino of imperialism falling in Ecuador, the continental Revolutionary wave in Latin America keeps getting bigger and stronger, and with the U.S. and its lapdogs already bogged down in the Middle-East, neo-colonialism is showing it is not invincible. The flood is growing and the imperialists are running out of sandbags, and so we must invoke our hero in urging the peoples of the world to keep on creating many more Vietnams!!!