The weapon of criticism cannot replace the criticism of the weapon: What knowledge do we need for revolution against capitalism
A world in crisis
The ongoing pandemic has resulted in millions of death.1 Millions of people have been pushed to extreme poverty due to COVID-19. According to the World Bank, “The COVID-19 pandemic is estimated to push an additional 88 million to 115 million people into extreme poverty this year, with the total rising to as many as 150 million by 2021, depending on the severity of the economic contraction”.2 The consequences of the 2007 economic contraction have not been fully neutralized. Hundreds of millions are under- or unemployed: “Almost half a billion people are working fewer paid hours than they would like or lack adequate access to paid work” (ILO, 2020). And those who are lucky to be employed are subject to “a global wages scandal, with some countries even having a minimum wage that is lower than the poverty line”.
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Inequalities are shaping how we’re fighting the Pandemic — and how we’ll remember it
The first wave of the 1918-19 influenza pandemic did not have much impact in India; it was the second wave that was the most devastating.
It is now thought that 12 million people died in India during the flu pandemic, the equivalent of 4 percent of the population at that time. Most of these deaths were concentrated in a few short months from September to December 1918. This quote is from Punjab’s sanitary commissioner at the time:
The hospitals were choked so it was impossible to remove the dead quickly enough to make room for the dying….; the burning ghats (cremation site) were literally swamped with corpses; the depleted medical service, was incapable of dealing with more than a minute fraction of the sickness requiring attention.
Russia: Frustrating Foreign Wars
Russia admits that about a third of its population is living in poverty. Many Russians, and foreign economists, believe the real rate is nearly 70 percent. Russian living standards have suffered continuous disasters since 2013 when the price of the major export (oil and has) fell by more than half and has not recovered. In 2014 Russia declared it was at war with NATO and Ukraine. That resulted in economic sanctions that have gotten worse since then. When the current Russian government took power in 2000 it became very popular by keeping a key campaign promise; to reduce the poverty rate. The poverty rate fell from 29 percent of the population in 2000 to just under 12 percent in 2012.
India’s COVID-19 crisis: A call for people’s unity
There is no enmity between the working class people of each country. Rather than being duped by the bourgeoisie into stirring hostilities under the banner of “patriotism,” we should instead unite to mutually resist our capitalist oppressors.
In recent days, the pandemic in India has rapidly deteriorated. Without a doubt, it is India’s working class people who suffer the most.We have always advocated treating our neighbors with kindness, as indicated by the words “世界人民大团结万岁” (“Long Live the Great Unity of the World’s Peoples”) inscribed on the banner atop the Tiananmen gate tower.
So it is perplexing that some of our nation’s pundits took the opportunity to jeer at India in order to flaunt their own superiority.
Red Alert: Only one Earth
A new report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Making Peace with Nature (2021), highlights the ‘gravity of the Earth’s triple environmental emergencies: climate, biodiversity loss, and pollution’. These three ‘self-inflicted planetary crises’, the UNEP says, put ‘the well-being of current and future generations at unacceptable risk’. This Red Alert, released for World Environment Day (5 June), is produced with the International Week of Anti-Imperialist Struggle.
What is the scale of the destruction?
Ecosystems have degraded at an alarming rate. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report from 2019 provides stunning examples of the scale of the destruction:
Destitution, hunger and the lockdown
ON March 24, 2020, Narendra Modi had announced that the country would go into a lockdown after four hours! This nation-wide lockdown was to last till the end of May, after which there were local lockdowns but not a general one.
It brought acute hardship to millions of the working poor, among whom the migrant workers’ woes received global attention. What was striking about the Indian lockdown was that, in contrast to virtually everywhere else including the U.S. under Trump, no compensation was offered to the people (except paltry amounts to a few specific target groups) for their loss of incomes because of the lockdown. They were pushed into a situation of income loss, destitution and hunger, from which they had not recovered even months after the lifting of the lockdown.
Deadly Fungi Are the Newest Emerging Microbe Threat All Over the World
It was the fourth week of June in 2020, and the middle of the second wave of the COVID pandemic in the U.S. Cases had passed 2.4 million; deaths from the novel coronavirus were closing in on 125,000. In his home office in Atlanta, Tom Chiller looked up from his e-mails and scrubbed his hands over his face and shaved head.
Chiller is a physician and an epidemiologist and, in normal times, a branch chief at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in charge of the section that monitors health threats from fungi such as molds and yeasts. He had put that specialty aside in March when the U.S. began to recognize the size of the threat from the new virus, when New York City went into lockdown and the CDC told almost all of its thousands of employees to work from home. Ever since, Chiller had been part of the public health agency’s frustrating, stymied effort against COVID. Its employees had been working with state health departments, keeping tabs on reports of cases and deaths and what jurisdictions needed to do to stay safe.
Patents versus the People
ON October 2, 2020, even before any vaccines against COVID-19 had been approved, India and South Africa had proposed to the WTO that a temporary patent waiver should be granted on all such innovations. In the following months, 100 countries had supported this demand. And on May 5, the U.S., usually the most ardent defender of the patent system, agreed to a temporary patent waiver on anti-Covid vaccines, committing itself to “text-based negotiations at the WTO”.
The basic argument for such a move arises from the urgent need at present to expand vaccine production. A patent works by creating artificial scarcity so that prices are kept high for a longer period and the innovating firm can make profits that are large enough supposedly to recoup the investment made in developing the patented product, but the scarcity of vaccines is precisely what the world can ill-afford at present. When thousands are dying around the world, saving lives has priority over firms’ profits, for which patents on vaccines must be removed.
Climate Migration: An Impending Global Challenge
For months, we have watched the crisis at the Mexican border as migrants tried to enter the U.S. In March, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office estimated that there were 171,700 people attempting to cross the border—the highest number in 20 years. About 30 percent were families, of which one third were refused entry under Title 42, a public health statute.
The number of unaccompanied children arriving and being held in custody in U.S. border shelters hit over 5,700 in March. And this week, five unaccompanied girls between the ages of seven and 11 months were found at the Texas-Mexico border. While a migrant surge occurs every year as people come to the U.S. for seasonal work, the record number of children being sent by themselves is likely a sign of desperate conditions back home.
The Case Against a New Concert of Powers
Global politics today is a mess, and it can be tempting to turn to history for clues about how to clean it up, as Richard Haass and Charles Kupchan did recently in “The New Concert of Powers” (March 23). But one must be careful to learn the right lessons. Haass and Kupchan argue that the nineteenth-century Concert of Europe provides a model for managing great-power relations, avoiding major wars, and balancing an imbalanced world. These are worthy goals, but the Concert of Europe failed to achieve them—and so would any new organization inspired by it.
In 1815, Austria, France, Prussia, Russia, and the United Kingdom founded the concert to maintain their power and stabilize a continent roiled by wars and revolutionary uprisings. The concert is sometimes depicted as producing a golden age of diplomacy: a time when diplomats and statesmen fostered mutual respect, maintained a balance of power, avoided one another’s spheres of influence, and eschewed war in favor of joint sorties to the opera and late-night discussions over whiskey and cigars.