analysisBy Horace Campbell
Progressives must brace for intensified struggles in 2012 because people in all continents are seeking alternatives beyond neo-liberal domination. The current European struggles will sharpen the struggles in Latin America and Africa.
From time to time in the history of society one event or a series of social struggles point to a new direction in world politics. At the beginning of 2011, the upheavals in Tunisia and Egypt were two such social and political struggles. By the end of the year the sustained struggle of workers to retain basic democratic rights of collective bargaining had placed the plutocrats of Wall Street on the defensive. When the spokespersons for the top one per cent met in Davos, Switzerland for the usual retreat of international power brokers in January 2012, there were clear signs that they had lost the political initiative.
Timothy Geithner, Treasury Secretary of the United States, warned of 'critical risks' while there were recriminations between the various European spokespersons on the outcome of the proposed 'austerity measures.' George Soros, ever vigilant to maintain a system where he has made billions of dollars, warned that the 'austerity Germany wants to impose will push Europe into a deflationary spiral, creating a 'very dangerous political dynamic.' Instead of pulling countries together, it would 'drive them to mutual recrimination.'
Tim Geithner, George Soros, French President Nicholas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron were exposing the deep divisions between the old traditional imperial overlords in the face of the sharp shift in the global order. Japan saw the 'conflicts between Germany and France on one side' and the other weaker states in Europe and is moving to escape the 'dangerous political dynamic' of the European project. Hence, we have witnessed the currency swap arrangements and new vigor to embrace China and other economic partners in Asia.
What should the progressive movement make of these changes and the journey towards a new distribution of global power?
Can a social democratic solution be reconstructed or are we on the verge of a 21st century form of fascism?
At the Davos meeting George Soros was calling for action to prevent a complete collapse where there will be need for strong arm tactics to maintain law and order which could lead to a 'repressive political system.' Overlooking the reality that he belonged to a class that has been at war against 99 per cent of humanity, Soros was warning other capitalists against a 'coming class war'. The call was for cooperation among the western European and US capitalist barons to avoid 'cataclysm in 2012.'
For billions, the depression and the repressive politics of neo-liberalism is not a future reality, but the lived experience over the past 30 years. The youth of Egypt and Tunisia have provided the torch to point towards the new road and Samir Amin has written on the theoretical and intellectual audacity needed for this new direction beyond the chronic crisis of capitalism.
I was in Beijing when the editor of Pambazuka News sent the notes from a debate inside the United States on 'worst case scenarios for 2012.' This comment was entitled 'Unrelenting Global Economic Crisis: A Doomsday View of 2012-The economic, political and social outlook for 2012 is profoundly negative'. It was written by the venerable anti-imperialist James Petras and ended with the statement that,
'All indications point to 2012 being a turning point year of unrelenting economic crises spreading outward from Europe and the US to Asia and its dependencies in Africa and Latin America. The crises will be truly global. Inter-imperial confrontations and colonial wars will undermine any efforts to ameliorate this crisis. In response, mass movements will emerge which will move over time from protests and rebellions, hopefully to social revolutions and political power.'
While I was digesting this 'doomsday view' from James Petras, I read another from Immanuel Wallerstein which was a discussion on the 'The World Left after 2011' and the possible position of progressives to the unfolding electoral cycle in the United States.
I want to use this commentary to present the African point of view on the changes of 2011 and the implications in the short term for 2012. Already the eruptions of the Nigerian workers of the most populous state in Africa have sent signals that working people will stand up and will not tolerate the breakup of the society so that the looters can unleash more violence. I draw the inspiration and optimism from C.L.R James and Walter Rodney who taught us that the African people and their progressive intellectuals must develop their independent position on social struggles and how these struggles in one region can have an impact on the rest of the world
Africans and progressives everywhere are this year celebrating 100 years of the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa. This ANC celebration is also another opportunity for progressive humans to learn from the sustained forms of struggle over generations and the reality that even after the coming to power of a black government, the struggle must continue to force the transformation of the present social system. In this regard, the Egyptian revolution has a lot to learn from the limited gains in South Africa. Yet it is the clarity of the tasks ahead that should guide us planning for prolonged organized activity for a new social system.
REVOLUTION AND WAR IN THE MIDST OF THE CAPITALIST DEPRESSION
When international media were broadcasting live video footage of Tunisians gathering in hundreds of thousands in front of the central office of the long terrifying Ministry of Home Security in Tunis, and chanting in one voice 'the people want to bring down the regime,' something had already changed and the world was not anymore the same. The Tunisian and Egyptian revolutionary processes pointed to the ability of the people to organise, resist and set in motion new political directions.
The recursive processes of self-organisation and self-mobilisation along with the new networking tools for political education had placed the initiative in the hands of the progressive forces internationally. Even reformist calls for regulations and for a financial transaction tax were being vigorously resisted because the ruling elements had believed the fiction of the unlimited possibilities of the 'free market.' By the end of the 2011 it became clear that the epicenter of the crisis was in Western Europe and that the old thinking about reconstructing capital could not salvage the outmoded forms of governance.
The blind faith about the rationality of markets had plunged Europe into the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The European project was exposed and it was no longer possible to plunder Africa as the colonial masters did during the 1930s and 1940s when the African villages were looted to save capital. Invading Libya in order to freeze and hold hostage the US $150 billion of the Libyan people only served to expose the European and US capitalists further in the face of international public opinion. Nicholas Sarkozy was so energetic in attempting to save French banks that his actions deepened the capitalist divide with open war of words with the Turkish capitalists who had their own designs on Africa.
From inside the United States, the workers of Wisconsin took up the challenge thrown up by the youths of Tunisia and Egypt, dramatically exposing the fact that political change cannot come simply through elections. At the end of 2010 the forces of racism, sexism, homophobia and chauvinism had rallied in the United States of America under the banner of the Tea Party. Financed by billionaires who grasped the dangers of popular mobilisation, these billionaires such as the Koch brothers wanted to revitalise whiteness as the central platform of political engagement in the United States. Winning large victories in the Congressional elections of 2010, these barons of capital were pumping millions into the political struggles on all fronts through entities called Super PACs (political action committees).
The conservative wing of US politics had mobilised to use the Congressional elections to elect leaders who stood ready to roll back the democratic rights of workers, especially the rights to collective bargaining. From Wisconsin to Ohio, the counter-revolution from the right energised workers in the United States so that there were new forms of mobilisation to the point where the Occupy Wall Street centralised itself as a political force of the future. Inside Western Europe the baggage of racism and xenophobia held back clarity from the left as the bankers and speculators removed governments at will in Greece and Italy. The specter of fascist rule in Greece loomed with warnings from writers who warned of 'Austerity and Fascism in Greece: the real 1 percent doctrine.'
Where in Africa the period of Structural Adjustment had attempted to roll back the gains of independence, in Europe the political leaders have registered their subservience to the bankers. It is from East Asia where the anchor of the world economy showed another dynamic. This was the potency of the planned economy and the ability of the Chinese society to withstand the vicissitudes of the capitalist depression. By the end of October 2011 with daily emissaries to China, it was clear that East Asia had become the centre of an evolving global order .The centre of the world economy shifted sharply from the Atlantic to the Asia Pacific region.
INTENSIFIED STRUGGLES IN CHINA
For the past 30 years the Chinese economy has registered an average of 10 per cent growth every year. This has been the most sustained transformation in any economy in the history of human societies and few of the western economists will accept the reality that it was the socialist foundations that guaranteed this impressive change and the ability of the society to lift hundreds of millions out of the crudest forms of exploitation (called poverty).
The relevant point about the Chinese transformation is that the building of socialism is still in its infancy and that there are many different twists and turns in the struggle to build socialism; there has been no prescribed roadmap. Whether this search takes the form of Great Leaps Forward, the four modernisations or the new experimentation of opening to western capitalism, the reality is that it is the strength and cohesion of the Chinese socialist system that is the firewall against complete collapse in this historical moment.
In the last years of the leader Deng Xiaoping, some of the Chinese leaders embraced the idea that China must become more open to the 'free market' and make strategic partnerships with western capitalists. This partnership is now manifesting in the growth of a vibrant capitalist class within China. It is this small capitalist class that projects itself overseas and extended aspects of Chinese capitalism to all continents.
These groups in China accepted the view that there was no alternative to capitalism. So when Lehman Brothers fell in 2008, these elements were seduced to purchasing worthless assets in the United States. The corporate forces in China, like their class allies in the West, were in denial and considered the crisis simply a cyclical downturn and were poised to 'bail out' European capitalists before there was an outcry inside the country that China had to bail out its own people before bailing out capitalists in Europe.
Moreover, when the Occupy Wall Street momentum reached the gates of China and took the streets of Asia, including Hong Kong, the top strategists of the Chinese Communist Party took a second look at the long term implications of the Occupy Wall Street Movement. By the end of 2011 there were new debates within China with President Hu Jintao repeating the official position that China was on the road to building socialism.
This restatement was a reflection of the intensified debates within the Communist Party as the evidence of class polarisation, corruption, environmental decay, political restlessness from the workers and outright political struggles of workers and farmers were erupting with the now publicised occupation and demonstration of Wukan. After months of demonstrating for their rights the Communist Party leadership in Beijing retreated, exposing to the Chinese poor that they can win victories if they stood up for their rights.
These social struggles in China strengthened the left forces in the society who never abandoned the task of building a new social system. It is from the province of Chongqing where the Left is now seeking to challenge the reverence for private property. There is a conscious effort to reverse expropriation of land from poor farmers.
This municipality is the weakest link in the chain of imperial planning. The capitalists have over extended themselves so there are rebellions all over the society. For the Communist party to remain relevant they will have to support the poor as they did in Zukan. This will strengthen the left that is now building an axis around Chongqing.
Our task in the anti-imperialist front is to know which China we are speaking to. Is it the China that is compromised by financialisation and their extension into Goldman Sachs and the overseas Chinese capitalists in Singapore, Hong Kong and the rest of Asia?
Internationally, the revolutionary forces will have to differentiate between the rising forces in China and be clear as to how our platform coincides with the desires of the Chinese working peoples. Our engagement with China through our networks will assist those inside China who want to understand the world beyond the idea of 'modernisation.' The African workers will have a lot to do to contribute to the consciousness of Chinese workers. It is this same consciousness that will push others just as the youth of Tahrir square became the forerunner to the present global resistance.
The internal political dynamics of the Chinese road to transformation is central to the current left strategy in the face of the growing information war against China by the most conservative militarists who are creating hype about Chinese military power in Asia. These conservative and anti-communist forces want to derail the pace of transformation in China by engulfing the world in war.
DEPRESSION AND WAR
There is a lot to be learnt from the last capitalist depression during the 1930s when some economists and political leaders believed, that militarism and investment in military capital could resolve the crisis. Indeed, some economists today credit the militarism of the German society with ending the crisis without mention of the huge price paid by humans in the Second World War. Between 1933 and 1939 the world witnessed trade wars, competitive devaluations and other protectionist measures that cascaded into open military confrontations.
The military triggers that started with the Japanese invasion of China (1931) and the Italian invasion of Abyssinia (now Ethiopia- in 1935) must be studied so that the same slow motion to war does not overtake humanity. In this regard, it would be in the best interest of progressives everywhere to heed the warning of those who note that there are capitalists internationally who want the pretext for war against Iran so that a wider conflict could cascade from Iran and the Middle East to Pakistan and wider afield.
Progressives everywhere must penetrate and fully understand the western media hype about the attempts by Iran to develop nuclear weapons. Progressives must instead call for the dismantling of the nuclear arsenal in Israel. One of the most relevant lessons to be learnt from the German capitalists of the thirties is the fact that certain sections of the capitalist classes will go to war in order to save capitalism.
However, the US military has been degraded by the humiliations in Iraq and the war of attrition that bogs down more than one hundred thousand military personnel in Afghanistan. These reversals for the US military did not come about by accident and although the US boasts the strongest military force in the world, the military has suffered massive morale problems compounded by the fact that in many communities where veterans come from now suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
With the rise in mental illness from veterans,young US citizens have no appetite for war. It is for these reasons why the peace and justice forces are not simply following the war drums over Iran and sinking into despair but clarifying to the peace forces the need for contingency planning to inspire the ordinary US soldiers to oppose the present drumbeat of war against Iran and send clear signs of refusing to fight if the militarists actually create incidents to precipitate war.
James Petras, in his commentary on the scenarios 2012, focused our attention on the Israeli lobby and their allies in the military. The military information operations of the mainstream media are part of the psychological warfare against US citizens while a full blown covert war against Iran gathers pace. The focus of Petras on Iran and Israel is appropriate and different from commentators such as Michael Klare who are already pointing to scenarios about the closing of the Straits of Hormuz as if the progressive forces are simply bystanders in the face of the right wing call for war and tightening sanctions against Iran.
Daily provocations against the people of Iran by the Israeli government continue with cyber-attacks, the assassination of scientists, threats against the leaders of Iran and a simmering war along with the same kind of information warfare against the citizens of the world that had been a prelude to the attack against Iraq. The major difference today is that the top sections of the US military are not on board with the vitriol that is emanating from the most conservative sections of the US military/financial complex.
If one follows closely the ravings of Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel, one can see that the ratcheting up of tensions against Iran is also part of a plan to suck in the political leadership in Washington and remove the presidency of Barack Obama. One writer for a Jewish newspaper explicitly commented that 'Israel could order President Barack Obama assassinated so that it would be free to act against Iran. Andrew Adler of the Atlanta Jewish Times laid out the scenario as one of three options Israel has to ensure it can protect itself from a nuclear Iran.'
Although this editor has since resigned, it is an indication of the depth of feeling in some quarters of the United States and Israel that Barack Obama is an impediment to the all- out war against Iran. Implementation of unnecessary sanctions and the vacillation of Obama is not enough for these conservative forces. For this branch of the ruling plutocrats, the John F Kennedy option is on the table and this option follows the path of sections of the military and security establishment who want war to protect the 'financialization of energy markets.'
ARE THERE MANY BRADLEY MANNINGS IN THE US MILITARY?
The progressive forces in all parts of the world must oppose the sanctions and militarism against Iran because this war has all of the hallmarks of escalating and cascading far beyond Iran. The interconnections between the Israeli lobby and those who are setting the belligerent tone of the US against China in the South China Sea can be seen from the output of some of the Washington think tanks, from the Inslamophobia forces, and from the branches of the armaments culture that thrive on war.
There is a definite link between the New York Police Department training their officers with a film called the 'Third Jihad' and the build- up for war in the Middle East. Yet, every such action serves to mobilize peace and justice forces and isolate those intent on whipping up anti-Islam sentiments in preparation for war.
Not even the allies of the United States such as India, Japan, Korea and Brazil, will follow this aggressive rush to all out war, so in reality, it is the Israeli government along with their allies who are being isolated and not Iran. Pepe Escobar in his article 'Banking on sanctions' spelt out the lunacy of the US sanctions scheme and drew attention to the fact that this diplomatic ploy will only strengthen China in the international system.
Far sighted elements of Wall Street understand this just as Pepe Escobar so they are working on two options. On one side they are seducing the children of the leaders of China to be partners of Global Sachs while on the other leg there is preparation for war.
During the wars against the people of Vietnam, the peace and justice forces matured and developed tactics to educate all sections of the society. These tactics survived to educate the population on the lies that were being peddled to embark on the occupation of Iraq. Despite the humiliation of wasting thousands of lives and expending trillions of dollars in useless war, the impetus for war is so ingrained that United States is being pushed on to another war.
The difference for the war planners at this moment is that the combined forces of peace and social justice forces are much stronger than the pessimists make out. So when George Soros is warning other billionaires to take preemptive action because financial collapse could bring clashes in the streets and lead to a crackdown and 'strong arm tactics to maintain law and order,' this is not a future scenario for black and brown peoples. This is the reality of the New Jim Crow and the prison industrial complex.
The progressive forces have inspired anti-war sentiments to the point that there are hundreds of Bradley Mannings in the US military. There are other veterans from the military who have served capital overseas only to see the reality at home. When ex-Marine, Scot Olsen was assaulted in the Bay area for expressing his right to participate in the Occupy Wall Street Movement, there were hundreds of serving Marines who listened to his interviews and took note that they will not fight to defend the banks. This assault further educated the rank and file of the military as to the true purpose of the military.
The existence of sympathy for the Bradley Mannings and Scott Olsen among the top officer class of the US military ensures that the top echelons of the US military will not go along with Israeli lobby. They know the pulse of the armed forces and want to avoid a situation of 1860 where the officer corps was divided. While the conservatives are putting pressures on the US public to go to war against Iran, the generals and the top brass are pushing back against any planned attack to the point that in January, Barack Obama cancelled planned military exercises between Israel and the United States.
I have already given one indication of the deep divisions in my contribution to understanding the differences between the Rocks and Crusaders. Those sections of the US military who believe in the US Constitution are reading the implications of voices such as Andrew Adler of the Atlanta Jewish Times.
This is not the place for progressives to spell out contingency planning to oppose wars, but our writings should not be of the doomsday type to demobilize our forces with 'worst case scenarios.' The plans to remove collective bargaining from workers and the drumbeat to war against Iran are two sides of the capitalist depression and progressives must continue to oppose austerity at home and war abroad.
THE SCRAMBLE IN AFRICA
Many on the left in the United States are now writing to oppose the war plans by the Israeli- lobby in the USA. However, because these writers excluded Africa there is no appreciation of how the revolution in Egypt has sharpened the alternatives in North Africa and Arabia. During the 20th century in every revolutionary situation capital fomented war to weaken the revolutionary forces.
The pace of change in Egypt has created nervousness in Israel and war is one option to inoculate the Israeli population against long term protests for peace and justice inside Israel. It is the alliance between the peace and justice forces in Israel and Palestine along with the revolutionaries in Africa that will be biggest constraint on Israeli action in Iran. In order to whip up diversions, Israeli actors are busy in the Sudan and East Africa covertly working with the remnants of the US petroleum companies and private military corporations who want to recreate the international conditions for a war in terror.
Already, there are some quarters in the USA seeking to deepen the militarisation of Kenya by identifying Lamu as a potential military outpost for the Chinese. Anti-imperialist and progressive forces on the ground in Kenya and even those involved in the political game will have to be strategic in their planning, just as our forces have been strategic in Nigeria.
There is a reason why we interred Tajudeen Abdul Raheem in Funtua, in the North of Nigeria. Tajudeen had worked tirelessly against the manipulation of religious differences and we should be publicising the book of the writings of Tajudeen in this revolutionary moment. We must keep his ideas alive as one part of our arsenal.
The objective conditions of real exploitation in Africa intensify social struggles for better conditions so that the contours of revolutionary change will expand. Thus while the media insists on delinking the Egyptian and Tunisian revolts from the wider African struggles by writing on the 'Arab spring,' worker protests enveloped numerous African states with those such as the struggles in Swaziland, Uganda, Burkina Fasso, Gabon, Kenya, Senegal, Mali, South Africa, Nigeria and Ethiopia percolating, awaiting the right moment for the maturation and regime intervention as in Egypt.
The contingency planners for international capital understand fully the implications of what Pambazuka has documented in the book, 'African Awakening: The Emerging Revolutions'. Hence, the US Africa Command is working overtime to build allies within certain social sections to prepare for these emerging revolutions while think tanks pontificate on possibilities of Egyptian style uprisings in other parts of Africa.
From Africa to Arabia the stirrings and eruptions from Yemen to Bahrain, Syria and Saudi Arabia have signaled that there will be no quick return to the old neo-liberal order. For the strategic planners, while the Israeli conservatives plan covert war in Iran, the nightmare continues to be fear of revolt by the poor and exploited in Saudi Arabia.
What if the people of Saudi Arabia changed the political calculus and started their call to enter the spaces of political participation and expression? The questions of the politics of inclusion can and will shift decisively from Iran to Saudi Arabia. Is the left preparing for this by working with our allies in the mosques who will be ready for this entry on the political stage?
THE PROGRESSIVES AND THE US ELECTIONS
While the talking heads of the western media are wallowing in despair, peoples in all continents are seeking alternatives beyond neo-liberal domination. The current European struggles will sharpen the struggles in Latin America and Africa. In all of these arenas, neo-liberalism has been discredited so they have no answer but to call for more austerity.
These calls also heighten the consciousness of workers. Black and indigenous persons in Latin America will push the democratic struggles to the point where the current content of the politics of Latin America will change considerably.
The consolidation of the limited democratic gains in Bolivia, Paraguay, Venezuela and Brazil will sharpen the choices before the peoples of Latin America. Haiti will remain a flashpoint of popular anti-imperial struggles and out of these struggles in the Caribbean, there will be pressures for the removal of the UN occupation forces.
At the same time, the peoples of South America are experimenting with new forms of economic relations while in East Asia there is no section of the political leadership (even the most avowed capitalists) that accepts neo-liberalism. In East Asia there are strong memories of colonialism and the prolonged wars of the 20th century. Subsequently, despite the propaganda against China there is no appetite for war in Asia.
It is from Africa where there is clarity on the tasks ahead. Reflecting on the challenges and opportunities, Samir Amin called for 'Audacity and more audacity.' His essay was the theoretical guide to support that mobilisation of the youths in the streets of Cairo and Wisconsin.
In calling for the socialization of the 'ownership of the monopolies,' Amin spelt out how 'the historical circumstances created by the implosion of contemporary capitalism requires the radical left, in the North as well as the South, to be bold in formulating its political alternative to the existing system.' While economists in North America continuously complain that the barons of Wall Street socialise losses while privatising profits, Samir Amin spelt out in great details for citizens of all continents,
'the alternative social project should be to reverse the direction of the current social order (social disorder) produced by the strategies of monopolies, in order to ensure maximum and stabilized employment, and to ensure decent wages growing in parallel with the productivity of social labor. This objective is simply impossible without the expropriation of the power of monopolies.'
If one reads an economist such as Samir Amin and others who are progressive (in the US context) such as Robert Reich, one can see that Amin is drawing from the depth of the oppression on the world scale to elaborate alternatives. The challenge of the left is to understand the outline of the alternative social project and translate this into practical day to day programs so that wherever one lives and works one should not succumb to despair and pessimism.
Robert Reich critiqued Geithner's view of critical risks by stating, 'the European debt crisis and Iran pose risks to the American economy in 2012. But they aren't the biggest risk. The biggest risk is right here at home - which most Americans will continue to languish.' The word languish is but a mild way to describe what millions are suffering.
It is in the midst of this suffering where the formal process of the US Presidential elections is taking place. The power of US imperialism dictates that in all corners of the world humans are paying attention to this election in the midst of a depression.
Because of the depth of the economic crisis there are divisions among the left about their engagement with this process. Immanuel Wallerstein in his review, The World Left After 2011, spelt out the reality that as long as the rank and file relate to the electoral process, the left must find ways to promote the issues that clarify to the working the people that the push to remove basic rights such as collective bargaining cannot be separated from war planning.
In short, I would agree with the position of Wallerstein and urge that the progressives be engaged in the electoral processes in the USA in the same way that Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass were engaged with Abraham Lincoln at the moment before the impending split in the military in 1860. Today, the progressives have better tools than Harriet Tubman, but with the kind of long term planning to isolate the racists.
With clarity the progressives can strengthen our access to cultural expressions and our links to the youth to sharpen the consciousness of the failures of Lloyd Blankfein, Corzine and Wall Street. Murdoch and the News Corp conglomerate will be weakened further. The planning of the insurgent internet revolutionaries who continue to inspire more Bradley Mannings and want the internet to be a highway for peace will challenge the subservient and fawning corporate media .
There is no reason why the Murdoch networks should be free to foment hatred and divisions when these corporate forces should be before the court of law. Even in the midst of the elections the platforms of cable Television bear the hallmarks of inter-capitalist rivalry. On the wider cultural level, cultural artists are now coming out and will be just as engaged as Michael Moore,
The right wing conservatives have been so demoralised and discredited that the Republican Party cannot come up with a viable candidate. They have no coherent argument other than to call for the same deregulation of financial markets that hastened the current crisis. From within the ranks of the Republican Party they have thrown up the most racist elements. Newt Gingrich, (one of the contenders for leadership and former Speaker of the House of Representative) wrote his doctoral dissertation on the Congo during the time of the genocide of the Belgians and believes that King Leopold brought progress to Africa.
Gingrich is supported by the most conservative Israeli forces and he has courted the most rabid anti Castro elements in Florida. It is here where I agree with Robert Reich that there must be total opposition to Newt Gingrich and one should not entertain even a 10 per cent chance of Gingrich becoming the US President.
Gingrich is attempting to win the hearts of white racists with a 21st century Southern Strategy, but the objective conditions of unemployment and insecurity have undermined old racist references for the mobilization of white supremacists. Mitt Romney, the standard bearer of Wall Street is so removed from the day-to-day reality of the lives of millions that he has openly boasted of his millions and offshore bank accounts. Romney openly stated that he does not care about the poor. The other two Republican candidates, Congressman Ron Paul and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, are public officials who have not been shy to express racist and misogynistic views.
With candidates such as Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney, the Democratic Party has remained smug hoping that the working people will have no choice but to vote for Barack Obama. It is in this discussion of politics where ideas such as those put forward by the Occupy Wall Street movement must be promoted to point out that real democracy will emerge from the day to day struggles so that progressives are not focused on the election circus with the millions of dollars being spent by the corporate elements.
We must define the issues and we must ensure that the idea of the one per cent dominating the political spaces becomes the number one issue in the electoral campaign.
The progressive forces in the US made their voices heard in Ohio, Wisconsin and in other places. We of the left cannot pontificate on elections per se, but on the issues that will strengthen labour and the global rights campaign. Capital is global and acts as such to defend its interests. Working people must continue to organize and the global rights initiative of Bill Fletcher and other Pan African revolutionaries in the USA holds the seeds of the creation of a new and strengthened network against international capitalism.
Small victories over questions of the Keystone pipeline from Canada to Texas and the struggles for environmental protection must be deepened so that the intellectual and political initiative remains with the progressive forces. In this way progressives will point the way that the election is not about the election of Obama but whether the society can be pushed into an unnecessary war abroad in order to implement austerity and political repression at home.
Progressives must brace for intensified struggles in 2012
In the final analysis we must go back to the Middle East where an alliance between women in Bahrain, Israel, Yemen, Iran and Saudi Arabia holds promise for a new platform. The women of Egypt gave us that notice when they mobilized to come out in forces across religious and class lines.
These women are opposed to fundamentalist who want women to cover up but will disrobe them and beat them if they fight for their rights.
Watch the Nigerian poor in 2012. In January of 2012, the baton had been taken from Cairo to Lagos with the Nigerian poor who were entering the new political stage. Their cultural artists such as Fela had led the way and the alliance between cultural workers and oppressed masses is creating a new dynamic in West Africa.
There will be skirmishes but no major war. Our forces should mobilise to ensure that if war comes the revolution that will shake the world will make 1917 look like the real Tea Party. We are culturally and intellectually prepared for that eventuality. Che Guevara, Walter Rodney and Mao inspired and prepared us for this capitalist depression. Now we need to go with Rosa Luxemburg, Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman who were clear that all social struggles, whether at home or at the work place are interconnected. We are in a revolutionary moment and revolutionaries cannot be pessimistic. Walter Rodney taught us well.
- Horace Campbell is Professor of African American Studies and Political Science at Syracuse University. He is the author of Barack Obama and Twenty First Century Politics: A Revolutionary Moment in the USA. Professor Campbell was a Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing for Fall 2011.See Horacecampbell.net.