The Wretched of the Earth – Global Frontlines Bloc @ People’s March for Climate Justice and Jobs

I’ll be there. Let me know if you want to join.

“We charge Genocide.
We charge Ecocide.
We see that Climate Change is Colonialism.
We know that Black and Brown communities are the first to die, the first to fight and the first to march in this war against Corporotocracy.

It is clear that without war, mega-development and extractivism there is no crisis of forced displacement, migration, detention and deportation.
That without ideologies of white supremacy there is no basis for treatment of our third world family as sub-human via paramilitary and police.
It is impossible to section our struggles for justice, unless the fight for climate is intersectional and led by the Wretched of the Earth, it will fail.”

“The Global South is the main frontline of the uphill battle against climate change. From Colombia to Côte d’Ivoire, from the Philippines to Pakistan, people are already facing the furious impacts of environmental devastation through floods, droughts, landslides, and typhoons. Diverse forms of extractivism, carried out under the colonial logic of ‘‘Western development’, are wrecking communities and fuelling the planetary crisis through prolonged social and environmental conflict.

All our struggles for justice around the world – for equality, food security, economic fairness, human rights, decent work, environmental protection and more – are interco nnected and tied up in the struggle against runaway climate change.

For many of our communities, this is a question of survival. The climate talks in Paris are about who lives and who dies, about whose lives matter and whose are disposable.

So on the 29th we will be marching for life. We will marching to demand justice for impacted communities. We will marching to decry the impending genocide. We will be marching to demand “system change, not climate change”. We will be marching to denounce the UK government and British extractive companies, whose policies plunder and destroy lives. We will be marching in solidarity with refugees around the world, fleeing the colliding horrors of imperial war, persecution, chronic poverty and climate change.

Together, we are more powerful than they could possibly imagine. Whatever happens in Paris, we can, and we will, build the future from here. A more just, more equitable and better world for us all.”

Originally written by Black Dissidents.

Find out more about the March: here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1500302780295862/

See you there.

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World Women’s Movement: “a way of building alternatives”

In the context of the Fourth International Action of the World Women’s Movement a debate meeting was held between the members of the South Cone. A place for analysis of the international context, with the goal of encouraging reflection on the challenges that popular feminism faces and the strategies that the Movement can adopt.

During the days of August 22, 23 and 24, the Southern Cone subregional meeting of the World Women’s Movement (Spanish:Marcha Mundial de las Mujeres, MMM) with the participation of militants from Paraguay, Brazil, Colombia, Turkey, Chile, Uruguay and Argentina, in the Eva Perón Amphitheater of the union ATE National –State workers Association-.

The Movement begun in 1995, in a context where neoliberalism was strongly hegemonic and imposed a single line of thought that proposed individualist ways to emerge from the crisis. Opposing this logic, social and women’s movements proposed alternatives of collective construction and a state of permanent mobilization. It was so that, after a demonstration made in Canada by more than a thousand women that traveled 200 kilometers in a struggle for their basic rights, emerged the need of sharing and replicating this experience in a women’s movement.

There, women organized in the United Central of Workers (Central única de Trabajadoras y Trabajadores – CUT) of Brazil became aware of this initiative and, together with other organizations, they participated in the first meeting in 1998, in Quebec, Canada. In this context they elaborated the platform of the Movement, which comprises 17 demands that include the end to poverty and of violence against women. Since the year 2000, international actions are being carried out, which commence every March, 8th —Day of the Working Women— and finish every October, 17th —International Day Against Poverty—. In this way, they make visible the explicit relation between Capitalism and Patriarchy.

This March 8th begun with the Fourth International Action, with the goal of strengthening the regional areas of the MMM in face of the need to unify the struggle for the women’s territories: their own bodies as well as the lands in which their life, work, community and struggle are carried out. The Southern Cone subregional encounter was a place for reflecting and making balances upon the current situation. Organized in panels, talks and workshops,  different experiences were shared, and the meeting ended with a demonstration outside the headquarters of the transnational company Monsanto, which is a clear example of the transnational violence imposed by the capitalist and patriarchal system on the bodies and the territories.

After welcoming the internationalist comrades that were present, the meeting started by pointing out the “current continental challenges”, which were a core topic in the formative debate. There, at the beginning, Nalu Farías, regional coordinator of the MMM from Brazil, recognized the complexity that feminism faces in the current juncture, since “this is a moment that demands a lot from us, because we are perhaps the movement with the harshest critics against the hegemonic domination system”.

Farías expressed that, although nowadays feminism has regained a relevant place in political debates —which she considers a positive situation of recomposition of feminism—, paradoxically, there is also the risk of settling upon a “legitimated and watered-down version of feminism catered to the market”, far from the organized and politicized feminism that the Movement proposes. Instead, the market regurgitates a feminism disembodied from its political roots, from the class struggle, it is an individualist feminism, tinted with postmodern and queer ideology. What the Movement strives for is feminism as a collective struggle, as organization from below, from the bases. The spokeswoman said that the goal is to “build a common political project from the articulation with other political forces but integrating the feminist perspective”.

Claudia Korol, popular educator from the group Scarves in Rebellion (Spanish: Pañuelos en Rebeldía) described the meeting as a positive event for unity and a key to the construction of the “identity of what we call popular feminism”. She emphasized the importance of having opened the event with a hommage to the 12 comrades, especially the 4 women, that were executed by the military in the city Trelew, during the de facto government of Lanusse in Argentina between 1971 and 1973. Because, she said, “our memory is a piece in this political construction”, because there is continuity in the different revolutionary struggles. She expressed that “walking and marching on with the subversive memories of our whole continent and search for the same unity that existed” is similar to the kind feminism “that we try to embody”, because “each body that is imprisoned is a defeat for us all, as well as each victory in freedom is a victory for all of us”.

To conclude, the militant said that, in these days, “we have to think about a unified anti-capitalist, anti-patriarchal and anti-colonialist horizon, disarming the violence that support these systems”.

After the opening act, six simultaneous workshops were held, where the common challenges of popular feminism across the continent continued to be shared, but this time from the experience of each of the women present in the meeting. The topics were:

  • “Sovereignty over our territories and common goods: the struggle against mega-mining, fracking, hydrocarbon exploitations, mega-dams and shortages in power supply”
  • “The right to decide over our bodies and sexualities”, with the presence of members of the National Campaign for Legal, Safe and Cost-Free abortion, among others.
  • “Forms of violence against women: trafficking, sexual exploitation, femicide”, a struggle that had a very visible side a few months ago when a massive demonstration took place all across Argentina with the slogan “Ni Una Menos” (Not One Woman Less), in response to the many crimes against women committed in the country, of which the most vulnerable are trans women.
  • “Militarization, criminalization and judicialization in the face of the advance of extractivism and the hegemonic model in the region”, which was nourished by the participation of the comrades of the People’s Congress of Colombia and by Relmu Ñamku, Mapuche activist persecuted by the justice for defending her lands against an oil company. She called for solidarity with each comrade, and to understand that there is a dual nature of struggles: there is a the common, shared criticism towards the model which unifies them all, but at the same time each struggle is singular and has its needs, therefore it is essential to accompany those who carry the struggle forward with their own bodies, in every possible way.
  • “Women and work. Gender division of work, reproductive work, formal work and precarious work. The economy of care”, where the topics included the role of working women and the tension this generates between social organizations, unions and daily life.

The following day, the conclusions elaborated at the workshops were collectively shared and the exposition of singular experiences, initiatives and struggles continued, around the core topic of confronting the mercantilization of life. There was participation of the members of the National Campaign Against Violence Towards Women and members of the Women’s House of the Dignity Popular Movement (Movimiento Popular La Dignidad), Network of Abortion Assistants (Socorristas en Red), Neighborhoods on their Feet (Barrios de Pie) and the Union of Workers of Argentina (CTA).

Sunday ended with a plenary in which all of the statements of solidarity with criminalized comrades were read, and then a general debate was held about the discussions that had taken place over the weekend.

At the closing of the event, Nalú Farías, spokeswoman of the MMM, said to the media that the event was “very positive because we accomplished the goals we had set beforehand, which were, on one hand, to define the actions for the subregion, and on the other, to call and coordinate Argentinian woman”. She also celebrated the demonstration against Monsanto because “it states our position as a Movement and our struggle. This symbolic action was chosen to express our rejection towards transnational companies and the model that they represent”, and said “our people do not need Monsanto, they need food sovereignty”.

This news story originally appeared on The Dawn  on August 26, 2015 and was written by Camila Parodi. The original source of the story is: Marcha.org 

Video: Is Britain racist? #BESoM

Appearing on Frankie Boyle’s Election Autopsy 2015 back in May, rapper, poet and journalist Akala talks about Britain’s inherent xenophobia, touching on imperialism and colonialism and how that has bred and perpetuated racism and white-centricity in society today…

Akala starts speaking at 1.38…

“When we talk about race we often talk about individual acts of prejudice, which is why UKIP often come up because they overtly say stuff we find offensive. But unfortunately the issue of race if we understand it is a lot more insidious, and it takes a lot more of a historical view to understand the difference between individual bias and structural racism and privilege and the idea of Great Britain was intimately tied to the fact that Britain has invaded almost every country on the earth, literally. Literally there’s a map. You can Google it.  So the idea of our greatness was intimately tied to this idea of empire, which was intimately tied to what Rudyard Kipling calls ‘the white man’s burden’ – to go and  civilise all these stupid brown folks that have been writing and having civilisations for thousands of years but let’s forget about that.”

Let me know what you think – is Britain racist?

Dr Shashi Tharoor MP – “Violence and racism were the reality of the colonial experience”

Does Britain owe reparations? Dr Shashi Tharoor MP says yes, and it’s hard to disagree with the arguments he made when speaking at the Oxford Union earlier this year. You can watch his full speech below.

“As my colleague the Jamaican High Commissioners pointed out our railways and roads were really built to serve British interests and not those of the local people. But I might add that many countries have built railways and roads without having had to be colonised in order to do so. They were designed to carry raw materials from the Hinterland into the ports to be shipped to Britain, and the fact is that the Indian, or the Jamaican or the other colonial public – their needs were incidental… Britain made all the profits, controlled the technology, supplied all the equipment and absolutely all these benefits came at private enterprise – British private enterprise, at public risk –  Indian public risk.”

“…There have been incidences of racial violence, of looting, of massacres, of bloodshed, of transportation in India’s case, even of one of our last Mughal Emperor. Yes maybe  today’s Britains are not responsible for some of these deprivations, but some of the speakers have pointed with pride to their foreign aid. You’re not responsible for the people starving in Somalia, but you give them aid. Surely the principle of reparations for the wrongs that have been done cannot be denied. It’s been pointed, for example, the dehumanisation of Africans in the Caribbean, the massive psychological damage that has been done, the undermining of social traditions, of property rights, of the authority structures of these societies, all in the interest of British colonialism. And the fact remains that many of today’s problems in these countries, including the persistence, in some cases the creation, of racial and ethnic and religious tensions were the direct result of the colonial experience, so there is a moral debt to be paid.”

“With the greatest possible respect, it’s a bit rich to oppress, enslave, kill, torture and maim people for 200 years and then celebrate the fact that they’re democratic at the end of it. We were denied democracy so we had to snatch it, seize it from you. With the greatest reluctance it was conceded in India’s case after 150 years of British rule and that too with limited franchise.”

“The fact is very simply, we’re not talking about reparations to empower anybody. They’re a tool for you to atone for the wrongs that have been done.”

“We’re talking about the principle of owing reparations, not the fine points of how much is owed and to whom it should be paid. The question is, is there a debt? Does Britain owe reparations? AS far as I’m concerned,the ability to acknowledge a wrong that has been done, to simply say sorry, will go [much further] than some percentage of GDP in the form of aid. What is required is accepting the principle that reparations are owed.”

It’s time to rethink the British Empire State of Mind

“For in the last resort, the only important question is, Do you want the British Empire to hold together or do you want it to disintegrate?  And at the bottom of his heart no Englishman does want it to disintegrate.  For, apart from any other consideration, the high standard of life we enjoy in England depends upon our keeping a tight hold on the Empire, particularly the tropical portions of it such as India and Africa.  Under the capitalist system, in order that England may live in comparative comfort, a hundred million Indians must live on the verge of starvation – an evil state of affairs, but you acquiesce in it every time you step into a taxi or eat a plate of strawberries and cream.  The alternative is to throw the Empire overboard and reduce England to a cold and unimportant little island where we should all have to work very hard and live mainly on herrings and potatoes.”

–George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier (1937, p 159)

Today I am officially launching a new campaign – British Empire State of Mind – to challenge Britain’s continuing colonial mentality,  which I believe is the cause of increasing international inequality and xenophobia and racism in the UK. I hope you will join me in getting involved, taking part, or simply supporting the campaign.

Many argue that the British Empire ended in 1997 when the union flag came down in Hong Kong. However, the legacy of this empire lives on and with it a ‘British Empire State of Mind’.

Britain, a tiny island with a population of around 65 million, still holds a very privileged position of power and influence internationally, it has a very self-centric view of the world that continues to elevate it and its people as ‘civilisers’, ‘heroes’ and ‘saviours’, and traditional ‘British’ values, culture and norms as an ideal global standard.

Throughout history this ‘British Empire State of Mind’ and resulting actions has led to the suffering of people the world over, the pilfering of resources and the destruction of our planet. The result today is this: globally we are witnessing increasing political and economic inequality and borders that are closed to people but open to money, and at home in the UK there is a pervasive and growing fear of immigration and xenophobia and racism.

The context

I believe that (largely white) Brits are often (and sometimes unconsciously) ignorant of the inconvenient truth of the impact that Britain has had, and continues to have, on the world, and how this subsequently relates to the experiences of people of colour in the UK. I want to challenge this.

Throughout the media and in daily conversations between people in Britain it’s not uncommon to hear or read the following sentiments in discussions about society, politics and economics:

  • “Immigrants are coming to the UK and stealing our jobs”
  • “Immigrants and foreigners arrive here and dilute our culture with their own languages/food/religion/values”
  • “Immigrants are coming to the UK to live but they should sort out the problems in their own countries – there’s not enough room”
  • “People are poor in developing countries because of their corrupt leaders/lack of resources/lazy populations/fighting with one another”
  • “There’s nothing we can do about poverty in developing countries – it’s not our responsibility”
  • “We’re already doing enough sending them millions of pounds in aid money and sending in our army to help sort them out. It’s nothing to do with us. Charity begins at home.”

Putting to one side for a moment whether or not these statements are a) factually correct or b) patronising/unfair/selfish/racist etc, their foundations are often rooted in ignorance. There is a lack of understanding of the conditions that create global poverty and migration. And there is a lack of understanding of how the actions of the British Empire, with the complicity of British citizens, can be found at the root of a number of man-made global crises as the cause. By putting the problems we see in the world today into the context of our history, realising that these issues are interconnected and looking at them from a variety of different perspectives, we can (hopefully) start to develop a true understanding and empathy for others and realise actually how much influence Britain has had, and continues to have, in shaping these issues.

I’m very aware that information fed to us in the UK by the media/government/education etc often views people of colour and ‘developing countries’ and their inhabitants through a white/western-centric lens, marginalising and disempowering, silencing their voices, manipulating the truth and breeding ignorance.

I believe that achieving global equality will not only require the self-determined ‘development’ of developing countries, but also, in many ways, the underdevelopment and humbling of ‘developed’ nations, Britain included. This will start with examining our actions, our beliefs, what we’ve been told, our experiences and our thoughts.

Britain isn’t alone in this ‘state of mind’, or the influence it wields, it’s one shared by other western European countries, the US, and increasingly other developing global powers, but I’m British and this is my audience.

The event

As part of British Empire State of Mind I am hoping to help coordinate an event that’s not only educational, but transformational. One that fosters empathy and understanding and an ability for the audience to really put themselves in others’ shoes and call for change, rather than simply walking away feeling guilty, angry and helpless – not an easy task…

After an evening of sharing stories and some real listening I’d really like people to come away understanding:

History – The true history of Britain and the British Empire and how the country has benefitted from it (from colonialism and slavery etc).

Today – What’s going on in the world today in terms of global inequality and poverty and how Britain helped create the conditions that caused and continues to perpetuate it now (neocolonialism, war, weapons sales, unfair economics, stereotyping, racism, anti immigration).

How this plays out:

  • In the UK: Fear of immigration, racism and belief that individualism can be pursued without detriment to the global poor, lack of awareness about interconnectedness of countries
  • Around the world: Widening gap between rich and poor, increasing environmental instability, inhumanity, pursuing profit over people
  • To us as individuals: How are individuals are directly affected – including racism, forced migration, impact of climate change etc.

What’s possible? – What’s possible is a world where everyone is recognised as being of equal value and are treated as such, with equal access to opportunity. I believe true equality would, amongst other things, create balance, eradicate poverty, reduce conflict, end environmental destruction and build communities for a world that works for all.

What do we do to make it happen? – Listen, understand, learn, empathise, amplify, question, demand change, share stories.

Possible format

The way I have been thinking that this will work is through the power of stories. Ideally, it would be wonderful to host a series of events with active campaigners (challenging the idea of passive ‘victims’ in developing countries) from around the world and 1st/2nd/3rd/any generation ‘migrants’ in the UK who are or have been impacted by the actions of the UK and the British government and are able and willing to talk about it…

These are just my initial thoughts. I have lots more information and ideas, but I wanted to share the rough outline with you. I want this to be a collaboration and I am well aware that these aren’t my stories to tell – I just want to amplify them for a white, British audience. So far I have come up with concept, carried out research and started to look for, get in contact with and interview people who might have stories to tell (including half of Accra!). I really want to invite anyone who wants to jump on board, contribute, lead, influence and edit the course of the campaign – all feedback, suggestions criticism and input are more than welcome – I’d love to hear what you think. I’m not precious, I just believe that the ultimate end is important.

If this is something you’re passionate about and you want to get involved in in any way (or you know someone who might), or if you think I’m on the wrong track and should be doing something different (or nothing at all!) please do get in touch – you can do so on my Contact page.

You can also follow the campaign (for now) on Twitter – @devtruths and on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/developmenttruths using the hashtag #BESoM.

Trevor Noah reminds Britain of its colonial past…

Tonight I watched this clip of South African comedian Trevor Noah’s appearance on the John Bishop show in the UK back in May. His performance focuses on the arrogance and absurdity of British colonialism. His touch is light and deep, which is much needed in Britain where these issues and this history are widely ignored.

A few highlights:

“The British immigration officer says “Sir you’ve got to understand i’m not trying to be a hardass about this but I can’t just believe you’re here to do what you say you’re going to do – you could do something else.” I was like “well you know what, fair enough, fair enough, that’s a great attitude to have. That’s the attitude I wish we’d had in South Africa when the British first arrived – it would have saved us a lot of pain.””

“It’s a fun game colonisation, it really was. It’s the most arrogant form of patriotism when you think about it, you know. It must have been cool. Like I wonder what Britain was like back then, it was so great, that you guys wanted to go and make it somewhere else. It was like ‘this is wonderful, we should do it everywhere’. That’s exactly what it was, colonisation all over the world. What’s weird to me though, is like how people act like colonisation never happened, I don’t like that. Like it’s weird when people say ‘all these bloody foreigners coming into the UK, all these bloody foreigners..’ well it’s because YOU TOLD them about the UK! You’ve gotta understand, in the world we did not care for this place at all, noone knew about Great Britain. In India they were having a good time, the British went and told the Indians about Great Britain – they were having fun with elephants and spices, they had no need to come to this country…”

“It’s colonisation done right that’s what I truly enjoy, the British did it perfectly. Yeah. Cos’ now we’re friends; we all speak the same languages, we even have a games where we participate together – the Commonwealth Games. Ironically named. There was nothing common about it. The wealth was in one place. [It’s like] ‘Right, let’s forget everything that happened and let’s play some games together’.”

Accra calling

I’m writing from Accra, Ghana, where I will be spending the month of July writing, reading, learning and listening…

I’ve been here for five days already, dancing, eating, talking, watching and easing into Dumsor (lights out/power cuts).

It’s very easy to get caught up in how much I love Accra life and forget that, at the same, time as hanging out with friends and appreciating (IMO) some of the best music in the world, my time here is precious and I want to be speaking to Ghanaian activists, people, businesses and organisations in the who are passionate about and/or standing up to Western neoliberalism, colonialism and multinational corporations. We’re cooking up a platform in the UK for them to be heard more widely there (which I believe I’ve mentioned before – more details coming soon..).

If you know of anyone or organisations that might be willing to share their story – please let me know ASAP or put them in touch… You can reach me here, or send me a tweet (@devtruths).

I’m also interested in hearing from people in the UK and from around the world who would like to be involved in supporting our ‘campaign’, or just want to find out more.

While I’m here I will be sharing some of the conversations I have with people and some of the observations I make of the city and country.

First feelings

It’s not my first time in Ghana, but already I’ve been met with familiar feelings of indignation about the effects of neoliberalism and colonialism that are so evident here. I hope to delve into this in more detail in later posts, when I can share more from people who have the full experience of what’s going on. In summary, however, over the coming weeks, I will be exploring:

  • British influence here – exactly how much influence does Britain have over Ghana and where does it lie, both in terms of the UK government and British businesses? How is UK aid money being spent? What does this mean?
  • The colonial hangover – what effect has being a ‘former’ British colony had on Ghana and Ghanaians? ‘Whiteness’ in Ghana – what does it mean?
  • Neo-colonialism – how has Britain paved the way for neo-colonialism in Ghana from multinational corporations, the USA and China? How is this affecting the economy, governance and everyday life?  How much corporate power and control of the food system is there in Ghana?
  • Speaking truth to power – what do Ghanaians think of all of the above? Is it welcome? Do they feel they have agency over external influences? If not, who is standing up to it?
  • Why me? What right do I have? A little about responsibility, self-righteousness and why I’m doing this.
  • And whatever else I come across…

I’ll also be going wildly off topic, am madly open to suggestions and will (hopefully) be sharing lots of stories, that are often told, but less frequently heard in the Western world.

I will also be announcing further details of our upcoming event in the UK in October and how you can get involved…

Please do get in touch! And if you are in Ghana or know anyone who might be happy to talk to me, please do let me know. I have the opportunity to write for a couple of different outlets while I’m here, not just on the blog – so it would be wonderful to share important stories.