Five years after the Great Financial Crisis of 2007–09 began there is still no sign of a full recovery of the world economy. Consequently, concern has increasingly shifted from financial crisis and recession to slow growth or stagnation, causing some to dub the current era the Great Stagnation. Stagnation and financial crisis are now seen as feeding into one another.… To be sure, a few emerging economies have seemingly bucked the general trend, continuing to grow rapidly—most notably China, now the world’s second largest economy after the United States. Yet, as [IMF Managing Director Christine] Lagarde warned her Chinese listeners, “Asia is not immune” to the general economic slowdown, “emerging Asia is also vulnerable to developments in the financial sector.” So sharp were the IMF’s warnings, dovetailing with widespread fears of a sharp Chinese economic slowdown, that Lagarde in late November was forced to reassure world business, declaring that stagnation was probably not imminent in China (the Bloomberg.com headline ran: “IMF Sees Chinese Economy Avoiding Stagnation.”)
The governments of almost all developing countries are facing the long-term twin problems of capital shortages and high fiscal debts, resulting from their attempts to modernize the state forms and economic and financial relations left by colonialism or copied from western political culture. Whether they claimed to be of the left or the right ideologically, they almost invariably undertook policies to attract foreign investment and encourage domestic private investors to join the global industrialization competition during the twentieth century…. Continental China, the biggest developing country, with the largest population (but also with significant natural resource constraints) has close to 20 percent of the world’s population, but only 9 percent of its arable land and a mere 6 percent of its fresh water. Over the centuries, China had its share of drought- or flood-induced famines. But if not for a 6,000-year history of irrigated agriculture, with its related “village rationality” based on traditional indigenous knowledge—which internalizes risks by its multifunctional rural cultures of sustainable self-reliance—China would have been a land of perpetual hunger.
Chinese interest in ecological Marxism has grown increasingly in the past twenty years. Amazingly, it has even become, to some extent, an important part of contemporary Marxism in China. But why has it been so well received? This paper will offer some reasons for this and also point out the challenges now facing ecological Marxism in China.
One of the enduring myths about capitalism that continues to be perpetuated in mainstream economic textbooks and other pedagogic strategies is that labor supply is somehow exogenous to the economic system. The supply of labor is typically assumed, especially in standard growth theories, to be determined by the rate of population growth, which in turn is also seen as “outside” the economic system rather than in interplay with it. The reality is, of course, very different: the supply of labor has been very much a result of economic processes, not something extraneous to it. Throughout its history, capitalism has proved adept at causing patterns of labor supply to change in accordance with demand…. But nowhere has this particular capacity of capitalism to generate its own labor been more evident than in the case of female labor.
In April 2011, the Wall Street Journal‘s South Asia columnist Sadanand Dhume published a piece entitled “It’s Time to Re-Align India.” Meeting in Hainan, China, the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) called for a multipolar world (i.e. one no longer dominated by the Atlantic powers, led by the United States) and for a less militaristic approach to common problems—with special reference to the imbroglio in Libya, fast becoming the twenty-first century’s Yugoslavia. Focusing on India, Dhume wrote in response: “Like a monster in a B-grade horror film, India’s love affair with non-alignment refuses to die…. The end of the Cold War should have ended this approach to foreign policy. Unfortunately, it hasn’t.”
In July 2009, workers at the state-owned Tonghua Steel Company in Jilin, China organized a massive anti-privatization protest. Then, in the summer of 2010, a wave of strikes swept through China’s coastal provinces. These events may prove to be a historic turning point. After decades of defeat, retreat, and silence, the Chinese working class is now re-emerging as a new social and political force.… How will the rise of the Chinese working class shape the future of China and the world? Will the Chinese capitalist class manage to accommodate the working-class challenge while maintaining the capitalist system? Or will the rise of the Chinese working class lead to a new Chinese socialist revolution that could, in turn, pave the way for a global socialist revolution? The answers to these questions will, to a large extent, determine the course of world history in the twenty-first century.
The men who executed Bin Laden did not act on their own: they were following orders from the US Government. They had gone through a rigorous selection process and were trained to accomplish special missions. It is known that the US President can even communicate with a soldier in combat.… A few hours after accomplishing that mission in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, home to the most prestigious military academy of that country as well as important combat units, the White House offered the world’s public opinion a carefully drafted version about the death of Osama Bin Laden, the chief of Al Qaeda.… Of course, the world and the international media focused their attention on the issue, thus pushing all other public news into the background.
Those persons who deal with these issues know that on September 11 of 2001 our people expressed its solidarity to the US people and offered the modest cooperation that in the area of health we could have offered to the victims of the brutal attack against the Twin Towers in New York.… We also immediately opened our country’s airports to the American airplanes that were unable to land anywhere, given the chaos that came about soon after the strike.… Although we resolutely supported the armed struggle against Batista’s tyranny, we were, on principle, opposed to any terrorist action that could cause the death of innocent people. Such behavior, which has been maintained for more than half a century, gives us the right to express our views about such a sensitive matter.
I was reading abundant materials and books to make good my promise of continuing writing on the Reflection of April 14 about the Battle of Girón when I had a look at the recent news that came yesterday, which were also as abundant as they are everyday. You could pile up mountains of news on any given week ranging from the earthquake in Japan to the electoral victory of Ollanta Humala over Keiko, the daughter of Alberto Fujimori, ex President of Perú.
Perú is a major exporter of silver, copper, zinc, tin and other minerals. It has huge reserves of uranium that powerful transnationals are hoping to exploit. Enriched uranium can be used to produce the most terrible weapons ever known by humankind as well as the fuel of electronuclear power stations which, despite every warning by the ecologists, was being manufactured at an increasing pace in the United States, Europe and Japan.
Of course, it would not be fair to blame Perú for all this. Peruvians did not invent colonialism, capitalism or imperialism. Neither can we blame the people of the United States, who are also victims of the system that has begotten the craziest politicians ever known in the planet.
On April 8 last, the masters of the world published their traditional annual report about “human rights violations”, which led to a thorough analysis on the website ‘Rebelión’ by the Cuban Manuel E. Yepe, based on a response given by the Council of State of China. The document lists several facts that show the disastrous situation of such rights in the United States.
“…the United States is the country that attacks human rights the most both inside its own territory and in the entire world. Is one of the nations that offers less guarantees to the life, property and personal security of its inhabitants.
“Every year one out of every five people is a victim of a crime in the United States. No other nation on Earth has a rate that is higher. According to official figures, persons above the age of 12 have suffered from 4.3 million violent actions.
“Crime has surged in an alarming way in the four most important cities of the country (Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York). Notorious increases as compared to the previous year have also been reported in other big cities (Saint Louis and Detroit).
“The Supreme Court has ruled that the possession of firearms for self-defense purposes is a constitutional right that can not be ignored by state governments. Ninety million persons -out of the 300 million inhabitants in the country- have 200 million firearms.
“A total of 12 000 homicides caused by firearms were recorded in the country, while 47 per cent of robberies were equally perpetrated with the use of firearms.
“Under the “terrorist activities” section of the Patriot Act, torture and extreme violence to obtain confessions from suspicious persons are common practices. Unjust sentences are evidenced in the 266 persons -17 of them are already on death row- who have been acquitted thanks to the DNA tests.
“Washington advocates for freedom in the Internet to turn the network of networks into an important diplomatic tool of pressure and hegemony, but imposes strict restrictions in cyberspace within its own territory and tries to put up a legal siege to deal with the challenges posed by Wikileaks and its leaks.
“With a high unemployment rate, the number of US citizens living in poverty sets new records. One out of every eight citizens resorted to the food stamp program last year.
“The number of families welcomed in homeless shelters increased by 7 per cent. Those families had to stay longer in those shelters. Violent crimes against these homeless families are increasing nonstop.
“Racial discrimination is permeating every aspect of the social life. Minority groups are discriminated against at their work places; they receive a humiliating treatment and are not taken into account for promotions, benefits or any labor selection process. One third of blacks suffered discrimination at their work place although only 16 per cent dared to submit a complaint.
“Unemployment rate among whites is 16.2 per cent, among Hispanics and Asians is 22 per cent and among blacks is 33 per cent. Afro-Americans and Latin account for 41 per cent of the inmate population. The rate of Afro-Americans serving life sentences is 11 times higher that that of whites.
“Ninety per cent of women have suffered some type of sexual discrimination at their work place. Twenty million women are victims of rape. Almost 60 000 female inmates have suffered some kind of sexual assault or violence.
One fifth of female university students are sexually assaulted and 60 per cent of rapes at the university campus occur at the ladies dorms.
“Nine out of every 10 homosexual, bisexual or transsexual students are harassed at schools.
“The report devotes one chapter to remind us of the human rights violations that the US government is responsible for outside its borders. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, led by the United States, have produced sky-rocketing figures of victims among the civil population in these countries.
“The US anti-terrorist actions have included serious scandals of abuses against prisoners, indefinite detentions without any indictment or trial in detention centers like that in Guantánamo and elsewhere in the world, which were created to interrogate the so called “high value detainees”, where the worst tortures are applied.
“The Chinese document also reminds us that the United States has violated the Cuban people’s right to exist and develop in disregard of the world’s opinion, expressed by the United Nations General Assembly during 19 consecutive years regarding the “necessity to put an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba”.
“The United States has failed to ratify several international human rights conventions such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“The data contained in the report by the Chinese government show that the nefarious performance of the United States in this field disqualifies it as “judge of human rights in the world”. Its ‘human rights diplomacy’ is sheer double standards hypocrisy to the service of its strategic imperialist interests. The Chinese government advises the government of the United States to take concrete measures to improve its own human rights situation examine and rectify its activities in that field and stop its hegemonic actions whereby it uses human rights to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.”
In our view, the important thing about this analysis is that such denunciation is contained in a document issued by the Chinese government, a country of 1 341 million inhabitants, whose monetary reserves amount to two trillion dollars. Without China’s commercial cooperation the empire would sink. I though it was important for our people to know the accurate data contained in the document issued by the Chinese Council of State.
Had Cuba said this, it would not be so important. We have been denouncing those hypocrites for more than 50 years.
Martí had said in 1895, 116 years ago: “…the road that is to be closed, and is being closed with our blood, annexing our
American nations to be brutal and turbulent North that despises us…”
“I have lived inside the monster and I know its entrails.”
Fidel Castro Ruz
April 23, 2011
Today I had the pleasure of greeting Jimmy Carter, who was President of the United States between 1977 and 1981 and the only one, in my opinion, with enough equanimity and courage to address the issue of his country’s relations with Cuba.
Carter did what he could to reduce international tensions and promote the creation of interest sections in Cuba and the United States. His administration was the only one to take a few steps to moderate the criminal blockade imposed on our people.
The circumstances were certainly not propitious in our complex world. The existence of a truly free and sovereign country in our hemisphere could not be reconciled with the ideas of the fascist extreme right wing in the United States, doing everything it could to ensure the failure of his proposals, which made him worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize. Not an honor awarded to him for nothing.
The Revolution always appreciated his valiant gesture. In 2002, I received him warmly. Again I reiterate respect and appreciation for him.
Might the oligarchy which governs that superpower really renounce its insatiable desire to impose its will on the rest of the world? Might a system which generates presidents like Nixon, Reagan and W. Bush, with increasingly more destructive power and less respect for the sovereignty of others, honor such a purpose?
The complexity of the current world situation does not allow much attention to even relatively recent memories. Carter’s departure, today Wednesday, coincided with disturbing news about the nuclear accident caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which continues to arrive and cannot be ignored, not only given its importance, but also for the practical and almost immediate repercussions felt in the world economy.
Today the news agency AP reported from Japan, “The crisis in Japan’s earthquake and tsunami damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, worsened Wednesday when experts logged the highest radiation yet in nearby seawater.
“In Fukushima, radiation leaking from the plant has seeped into the soil nearby and made its way into produce, raw milk and even tap water as far as Tokyo, 240 kilometers to the south.
“In the meantime, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited a group of evacuees in Tokyo for about an hour.”
Reuters reported from Tokyo, “Japan ordered an immediate safety upgrade at its 55 nuclear power plants on Wednesday in its first acknowledgement that standards were inadequate when an earthquake and tsunami wrecked a facility nearly three weeks ago, sparking the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986.
“The announcement was made after the government conceded that there was no end in sight for the crisis and a jump in the levels of radioactive iodine in seawater added to the evidence of leaks from the reactors in the area around the complex and beyond.
“The discovery of highly toxic plutonium in soil at Daiichi had raised alarm over the disaster, which has overshadowed the humanitarian calamity triggered by the earthquake and tsunami, which left 27,500 people dead or missing.
“Before the disaster, Japan’s nuclear reactors had provided about 30% of the nation’s electric power. The percentage had been expected to rise to 50% by 2030, among the highest in the world.
“New readings show an increase in radioactive iodine to 3.355 times the legal limit, the country’s nuclear safety agency indicated, although the organization minimized its impact, saying that residents had left the area and fishing had stopped.
“Hundreds of engineers have been toiling for nearly three weeks to cool the plant’s reactors and avert a catastrophic meltdown of fuel rods, although the situation appears to have moved back from that nightmare scenario.
“Jesper Koll, director of equity research at JPMorgan Securities in Tokyo, said a drawn-out battle to bring the plant under control and manage the radioactivity being released would perpetuate the uncertainty and act as a drag on the economy.
“The worst-case scenario is that this drags on not one month or two months or six months, but for two years, or indefinitely,” he said.
“A byproduct of atomic reactions which can be used in nuclear bombs, plutonium is highly carcinogenic and one of the most dangerous substances on earth, experts indicated.”
A third agency, DPA, from Tokyo, “Japanese technicians are still unable to control the nuclear crisis three weeks after the accidents at the Fukushima power plant. The Japanese government has begun to consider extraordinary measures to contain the release of radiation.
“The idea is to cover the reactors with a kind of fabric. The recent high readings of iodine 131 in the ocean are an indication of the increasing radiation. The environmental organization Greenpeace has also warned of serious danger to the health of residents after making its own studies.
“Experts believe that the process required to definitively eliminate the possibility of a meltdown could take months. TEPCO has promised to improve the working conditions of technicians who are growing more concerned and exhausted all the time.”
While these events are taking place in Japan, the Bolivarian President of Venezuela has visited Argentina, Uruguay and is headed for Bolivia, promoting economic accords and strengthening ties with countries in our hemisphere determined to be independent.
At the University of La Plata, where the dictatorship supported by the United States eliminated, among thousands of Argentines, more than 700 students – 40 in the school of journalism – Chávez was awarded the Rodolfo Walsh Prize, in honor of one of the heroic revolutionary journalists assassinated.
Now, it is not Cuba alone, there are many peoples prepared to struggle, to sacrifice their lives for their homeland.
Fidel Castro Ruz
March 30, 2011
In these bitter days we have seen pictures of an earthquake that reached 9 on the Richter Scale with hundreds of strong after-shocks, and a tsunami 10 metres high whose waves of dark waters dragged tens of thousands of people between cars and trucks over homes and 3 and 4 storey buildings.
Sophisticated mass media has been saturating our minds with the news of civil wars, arms trade associated with drugs that in just five years have killed more than 35,000 people in Mexico, climatic changes in various countries, asphyxiating heat waves, mountains of ice melting at the poles, torrential rains, shortages and growing prices for foods. We really need some consolation and this has just reached us via that life-saving angel of our species, the United Nations Security Council and its colossal invention: good conduct certificates. (more…)
IF the speed of light didn’t exist, if the closest star to our sun weren’t four light years away from Earth, the only inhabited planet in our solar system, if UFOs truly existed, imaginary visitors to the planet would continue their journey without understanding much of anything about our long-suffering human race.
Just a few centuries ago in the long history of humanity, no one knew what happened on the other side of the globe. Today we can find out instantaneously and, sometimes, they are events of great importance which affect all of the world’s peoples. (more…)