update + sneak peek at a post i’m working on

I got a political analyst job at a start-up so I’ve put my blog on the backburner for awhile, I was about 1/3 way through a comprehensive analysis of the ISO’s position on Syria and how it evolved over time, but I want to give a sneak peek into one of the most disgusting things I’ve seen so far in the ISO’s coverage of Syria

In late December, al-Qaeda terrorists suicide bombed government buildings and an orphanage with two car bombs, killing 44 people including a child at the orphanage. A couple weeks later, the ISO reported on the incident, saying:

With the prospect of a revolutionary movement that cut across religious and ethnic lines, the regime tried to reassert its role as the protector of minorities–most recently pointing to bombings in the capital of Damascus as the work of al-Qaeda and Sunni fundamentalists. Revolutionary activists claim that the regime itself planted the bombs as a pretext for further repression.

The ISO’s media strategy has been to downplay the vicious sectarianism by the opposition and to portray all sectarianism as coming from the government. As Asad AbuKhalil pointed out, the Syrian government has been steadfastly refusing to make sectarian claims, even when doing so would make the opposition look bad. During the protests where “Christians to Beirut, Alawites to the grave” was one of the most common protest chants, the ISO refused to report on anything critical of the  protests, reserving all their criticism for the Syrian government. They refused to report the case of foreign FSA fighters kidnapping 500 Alawites and blaming the government when the FSA decided to massacre their hostages. In the context of the ISO’s and bourgeois media’s propaganda campaign against Syria, portraying the Bad Guys as saying one thing and the Good Guys as saying another will naturally make their readers believe the Good Guys.

The ISO’s Good Guys, however, are al Qaeda terrorists. Being a partner in the imperialist propaganda war isn’t enough to satisfy the ISO, they also white wash terrorism by al Qaeda.

Pan-African News Wire – Gaddafi’s Libya: Africa’s Best Democracy

http://panafricannews.blogspot.com/2013/01/gaddafi-libya-africa-best-democracy.html
CONTRARY to popular belief, Libya, which western media described as “Gaddafi’s military dictatorship”, was in actual fact one of the world’s most democratic States.

In 1977, the people of Libya proclaimed the Jamahiriya or “government of the popular masses by themselves and for themselves.” The Jamahiriya was a higher form of direct democracy with ‘the People as President.’ Traditional institutions of government were disbanded and abolished, and power belonged to the people directly through various committees and congresses.

The nation state of Libya was divided into several small communities that were essentially “mini-autonomous States” within a State. These autonomous States had control over their districts and could make a range of decisions including how to allocate oil revenue and budgetary funds. Within these mini autonomous States, the three main bodies of Libya’s democracy were Local Committees, People’s Congresses and Executive Revolutionary Councils.

In 2009, Gaddafi invited the New York Times to Libya to spend two weeks observing the nation’s direct democracy. Even the New York Times which was always highly critical of Colonel Gaddafi, conceded that in Libya, the intention was that “everyone is involved in every decision…Tens of thousands of people take part in local committee meetings to discuss issues and vote on everything from foreign treaties to building schools.” The purpose of these committee meetings was to build a broad based national consensus.

One step up from the Local Committees was the People’s Congresses. Representatives from all 800 local committees around the country would meet several times a year at People’s Congresses in Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte, to pass laws based on what the people said in their local meetings. These congresses had legislative power to write new laws, formulate economic and public policy as well as ratify treaties and agreements.

All Libyans were allowed to take part in local committees meetings and at times Colonel Gaddafi was criticised. In fact, there were numerous occasions when his proposals were rejected by popular vote and the opposite was approved and put forward for legislation.

For instance, on many occasions Gaddafi proposed the abolition of capital punishment and he pushed for home schooling over traditional schools. However, the People’s Congresses wanted to maintain the death penalty and classic schools, and ultimately the will of the People’s Congresses prevailed. Similarly, in 2009, Colonel Gaddafi put forward a proposal to essentially abolish the central government altogether and give all the oil proceeds directly to each family. The People’s Congresses rejected this idea too.

One step up from the People’s Congresses were the Executive Revolutionary Councils. These Revolutionary Councils were elected by the People’s Congresses and were in charge of implementing policies put forward by the people. Revolutionary Councils were accountable only to ordinary citizens and may have been changed or recalled by them at any time. Consequently, decisions taken by the People’s Congresses and implemented by the Executive Revolutionary Councils reflected the sovereign will of the whole people, and not merely that of any particular class, faction, tribe or individual.

The Libyan direct democracy system utilised the word ‘elevation’ rather than ‘election’, and avoided the political campaigning that is a feature of traditional political parties and benefits only the bourgeoisie’s well-heeled and well-to-do.

Unlike in the West, Libyans did not vote once every four years for a President and local parliamentarian who would then make all decisions for them. Ordinary Libyans made decisions regarding foreign, domestic and economic policy themselves.

Several western commentators have rightfully pointed out that the unique Jamahiriya system had certain drawbacks, inter alia, regarding attendance, initiative to speak up, and sufficient supervision. Nevertheless, it is clear that Libya conceptualised sovereignty and democracy in a different and progressive way.

Democracy is not just about elections or political parties. True democracy is also about human rights. During the NATO bombardment of Libya, western media conveniently forgot to mention that the United Nations had just prepared a lengthy dossier praising Gaddafi’s human rights achievements.

The UN report commended Libya for bettering its “legal protections” for citizens, making human rights a “priority,” improving women’s rights, educational opportunities and access to housing. During Gaddafi’s era housing was considered a human right. Consequently, there was virtually no homelessness or Libyans living under bridges. How many Libyan homes and bridges did NATO destroy?

One area where the United Nations Human Rights Council praised Gaddafi profusely is women’s rights. Unlike many other nations in the Arab world, women in Libya had the right to education, hold jobs, divorce, hold property and have an income. When Colonel Gaddafi seized power in 1969, few women went to university. Today more than half of Libya’s university students are women. One of the first laws Gaddafi passed in 1970 was an equal pay for equal work law, only a few years after a similar law was passed in the U.S. In fact, Libyan working mothers enjoyed a range of benefits including cash bonuses for children, free day care, free health care centres and retirement at 55.

Democracy is not merely about holding elections simply to choose which particular representatives of the elite class should rule over the masses. True democracy is about democratising the economy and giving economic power to the majority.

Fact is, the west has shown that unfettered free markets and genuinely free elections simply cannot co-exist. Organised greed always defeats disorganized democracy. How can capitalism and democracy co-exist if one concentrates wealth and power in the hands of few, and the other seeks to spread power and wealth among many? Gaddafi’s Jamahiriya however, sought to spread economic power amongst the downtrodden many rather than just the privileged few.

Prior to Colonel Gaddafi, King Idris let Standard Oil essentially write Libya’s petroleum laws. Gaddafi put an end to all of that. Money from oil proceeds was deposited directly into every Libyan citizen’s bank account. One wonders if Exxon Mobil and British Petroleum will continue this practice under the new democratic Libya?

Democracy is not merely about elections or political parties. True democracy is also about equal opportunity through education and the right to life through access to health care. Therefore, isn’t it ironic that America supposedly bombarded Libya to spread democracy, but increasingly education in America is becoming a privilege not a right and ultimately a debt sentence. If a bright and talented child in the richest nation on earth cannot afford to go to the best schools, society has failed that child. In fact, for young people the world over, education is a passport to freedom. Any nation that makes one pay for such a passport is only free for the rich but not the poor.

Under Mr. Gaddafi, education was a human right and it was free for all Libyans. If a Libyan was unable to find employment after graduation the State would pay that person the average salary of their profession.

For millions of Americans health care is also increasingly becoming a privilege not a right. A recent study by Harvard Medical School estimates that lack of health insurance causes 44,789 excess deaths annually in America. Under Gaddafi, health care was a human right and it was free for all Libyans. Thus, with regards to health care, education and economic justice, is America in any position to export democracy to Libya or should America have taken a leaf out of Libya’s book?

Muammar Gaddafi inherited one of the poorest nations in Africa. However, by the time he was assassinated, Libya was unquestionably Africa’s most prosperous nation. Libya had the highest GDP per capita and life expectancy in Africa and less people lived below the poverty line than in the Netherlands. Libyans did not only enjoy free health care and free education, they also enjoyed free electricity and interest free loans. The price of petrol was around $0.14 per liter and 40 loaves of bread cost just $0.15. Consequently, the UN designated Libya the 53rd highest in the world in human development.

The fundamental difference between western democratic systems and the Jamahiriya’s direct democracy is that in Libya citizens were given the chance to contribute directly to the decision-making process, not merely through elected representatives. Hence, all Libyans were allowed to voice their views directly – not in one parliament of only a few hundred elite politicians – but in hundreds of committees attended by tens of thousands of ordinary citizens. Far from being a military dictatorship, Libya under Mr. Gaddafi was Africa’s most prosperous democracy.

For those of you concerned about the rights of women in Syria if the FSA wins

NOMAS branch of Aleppo

The Aleppo branch of NOMAS

The ISO tells us that fighting in a NATO/GCC-backed rebellion will lead to people gaining a class essentialist anti-sexist political stance

http://socialistworker.org/2011/07/14/womens-liberation-and-socialism

So in Egypt, Syria, Greece and other recent sites of revolt and rebellion, women and men mobilized and organized together in unprecedented ways. During struggles on this scale, workers’ ideas change–men’s ideas about women, and women’s ideas about men and also about themselves. In the process of confronting their shared and powerful enemy, such as the state and its police, men and women workers come to see their potential power as a united force.

Ideas like sexism are exposed for what they are–useless and destructive–not only because they are wrong, like misconceptions about what women are capable of, but because they divide the working class. They are exposed for their real purpose–to keep those at the top in power by dividing the masses below.

Libya was just a fluke, right?

JMP demolished this kind of vulgar class essentialism in a fantastic post everyone should read

Capitalist media coverage on indigenous issues should not be trusted

The first world left has sometimes failed to be critical of media coverage of indigenous issues because they come from countries with long histories of colonialism, settler-colonialism, and imperialism. This lack of skepticism is based in good intentions, as the first world non-colonized left has long been complicit in colonialism and imperialism, but this lack of skepticism provides openings for reactionary propaganda to go completely unchallenged.

On August 29, 2012, Survival International, a British NGO run by Stephen Corry, a Free Tibet board member, began a propaganda campaign against the Venezuelan government claiming that they received reports that Brazilian gold miners massacred over 80 members of the Yanomami tribe by shooters from helicopters. This was immediately picked up by the capitalist and leftist media organizations, with nearly every article opening with vivid writing about charred bodies. This came at an opportune time, a little over a month before the Venezuelan elections. However, this massacre never actually happened. This Telegraph article is representative of most of the media coverage:

The charred remains of dozens of Yanomami Indians were discovered inside the village “shabono” in the remote community of Irotatheri on the southern Venezuelan border with Brazil.

A shabono is a circular hut that typically houses dozens of tribesmen and women.

Three survivors were found walking in the jungle after the attack, having fled at the sound of gunshots, explosions and the sound of a helicopter while they were out hunting.

The massacre is believed to have happened sometime last month but due to the remoteness of the village, information had to be relayed from village to village until it reached Yanomami tribal leaders who alerted the Venezuelan authorities.

Luis Shatiwe Ahiwei, a leader of the Horonami Yanomami Organisation, said the number of people killed in the attack could not be certain but witnesses had said about 80 people lived there.

The next day, the Venezuelan government immediately launched an investigation, and on September 2th, announced that they had not found any evidence of a massacre after an in-depth investigation. Survival International responded with the scathing accusation that the Venezuelan government was whitewashing the massacre.

http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/8644

Survival has denounced the Venezuelan government’s repeated denials of a massacre against Yanomami Indians, calling on President Chávez to evict all illegal goldminers from indigenous territory and conduct a proper, on-site investigation.

The President is the latest senior Venezuelan official to insist there is no evidence of an attack on the Irotatheri community, in a remote part of the Amazon, close to the border with Brazil.

[…]
Stephen Corry, Survival’s Director also said today, ‘If the Venezuelan government had the welfare of its indigenous peoples at heart it would be taking action to remove the miners from Indian land, rather than taking pains to deny there was a violent confrontation between the miners and the Indians. It’s behaving just like Latin American governments always have, putting the protection of its own reputation above the lives of its Indians. Next we’ll be hearing that we’re part of a capitalist conspiracy to destabilize the government in its election year, just as we’re part of a left-wing conspiracy when we denounce this kind of violence in rightist countries. Indigenous peoples have been treated equally badly by both right and left, for generations. President Chávez should get all those invading indigenous territory kicked out throughout Venezuela, and make sure this particular incident, where murders have been reported, is subject to an immediate and proper investigation.’

[…]

Witnesses of the attack’s aftermath reported finding ‘burnt bodies and bones’.

This accusation of whitewashing was picked up by leftist bloggers and liberal internet media organizations like CommonDreams and Truth-Out. Less than a week later, Survival International published a very short statement admitting that the massacre never took place, then immediately began attacking the Venezuelan government and its supporters for their conduct.

http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/8659

Having received its own testimony from confidential sources, Survival now believes there was no attack by miners on the Yanomami settlement of Irotatheri. Yanomami from the area – in which many illegal gold miners are currently operating – had heard stories of a killing in July, and this was reported, by some, as having occurred in this settlement.

We currently do not know whether or not these stories were sparked by a violent incident, which is the most likely explanation, but tension remains high in the area.

The Venezuelan government’s reaction remains shameful. It has not said, even now, that it will remove the miners, and it immediately denied having found ‘evidence’ of killings, before even concluding its own investigation. Its supporters have gone further and accused its critics of being part of a right-wing conspiracy etc.

The Venezuelan authorities should continue to investigate this incident and, most importantly, must evict those invading the Yanomami and other Indian territories in the country.

In another media interview, Stephen Corry had this to say:

“The most appalling aspect of the Venezuelan government reaction is that its initial stance seemed to be disbelief,” he said. “Some sectors of government were denying this had happened even before people had reached the site, which does nothing to encourage one’s faith in the government.”

If doubting unverified reports from British NGOs doesn’t encourage faith in the government, one has to wonder what Stephen Corry thinks the effect of this propaganda campaign will have on his own credibility. His work with the Free Tibet movement has likely taught him that it matters far less what you say and far more who you are saying it about. Attacking progressive countries which take a stand against imperialism and neoliberal capitalism never requires much credibility, all that it requires is a headline that can be published.

CommonDreams and Truth-out never published the admission that there never was a massacre, in fact, the only articles that exist on this issue on both of their websites claim that the massacre happened.

This progression of events should be familiar to all of those who’ve learned about the propagation of disinformation through the media. False, sensationalistic stories hit the front pages and are spread like wildfire, then corrections come weeks later in the marginalized sections of newspapers. This strategy preserves the integrity of news organizations while having the full propaganda effect, as people remember the initial story far more vividly than the corrections.

The pro-Chavez left-wing and liberal organizations in the first world largely didn’t report the massacre, which is an appropriate action to take considering the unreliability of the sources, but they also didn’t provide any analysis of the propaganda coup carried out by Survival International. Propaganda like this has to be challenged and exposed to create a habit of critical media analysis.

The best piece of writing I’ve found on this issue comes from Les Blough writing for Axis of Logic, it takes an in-depth look at Stephen Corry’s past and the actions of Survival International. Rather than being an indigenous rights organization, it makes a compelling case for it being one complicit with imperialism.

Excerpt from Faux Internationalism and Really Existing Imperialism

http://monthlyreview.org/2012/04/01/faux-internationalism-and-really-existing-imperialism

The problem with the conceptual framework of humanitarian interventionism is related to its abstraction from geoeconomics and geopolitics as well as disregard for the disparity of power and influence in the world. Notwithstanding the appeal of this discourse, the international system is not a level playing field. In a world where “might makes right,” the acceptance of Responsibility to Protect as the norm in inter-state relations gives the hegemonic powers ideological legitimization for intervening in weaker countries against noncompliant regimes.

Historical experience shows that there are good reasons to doubt the prevalence of humanitarian concerns as the foreign policy motivation of most nation-states. Not the least of which is the tendency of the big powers to cloak their foreign policy behind high-sounding moralistic discourses. The mixing of humanism and war on the part of an imperialist power is, and remains, an oxymoron. “Humanitarian” bombing and occupation are not measures to further peace, and military destruction is neither environmentally friendly nor energy saving.

How Afghanistan’s Radicals Became Moderates

I deleted my tumblr a couple days ago, I’ve been dealing with some offline stuff so I’m taking some time to do some self-care. I’m still following a handful of people’s tumblrs on rss, thanks for everyone’s kind and funny words.

With over a decade being spent in Afghanistan, the Obama administration’s policy has been to reach out to so-called moderates within the Taliban. However, who is a moderate and who is a radical is decided by their level of opposition to US occupation rather than their views on women, religion, and law. Often, it is the most socially reactionary leaders who are willing to compromise on foreign occupation in order to achieve their social goals.

What is the “Taliban”?

In the US media, anyone who fights back against the NATO occupation is a member of the Taliban. This has the effect of making the entire anti-occupation effort in Afghanistan seem less organic and disguises the true nature of the anti-imperialist resistance. Most of the resistance isn’t being coordinated by the Taliban organization, it is locally-organized militias which oppose foreign occupation. These anti-occupation fighters are the radicals to the Obama administration, they’re not taking orders from the Taliban leadership but are instead dedicated to opposing the Karzai puppet government and neocolonialism. James Petras, in a fantastic article, said:

http://petras.lahaine.org/?p=1812

On the military front, the Pentagon launches one “offensive” after another, announcing one success after another, followed by a retreat and return of the Resistance fighters. The US campaigns disrupt trade, agricultural harvests and markets, while the air assaults targeting “Taliban” and militants, more frequently than not end up killing more civilians celebrating weddings, religious holidays and shoppers at markets than combatants. The reason for the high percentage of civilian killings is clear to everyone except the US Generals: there are no distinctions between “militants” and millions of Afghan civilians since the former are an integral part of their communities.

The key and ultimately decisive problem facing the US occupation is that it is a colonial enclave in the midst of a colonized people. The US, its local puppets and its NATO allies are a foreign colonial army and its Afghan military and police recruits are seen as mere instruments perpetuating illegitimate rule. Every action, whether violent or benign, is perceived and interpreted as transgressing the norms and historical legacies of a proud and independent people. In everyday life, every move by the occupation is disruptive; nothing moves except by command of the foreign directed military and police. Under threat of force, people fake co-operation and then provide assistance to their fathers, brothers and sons in the Resistance. The recruits take the money and turn their arms over to the Resistance. The paid village informants are double agents or identified by their neighbors and targeted by insurgents.

The outcome of making a power-sharing deal with the most socially reactionary has very clear effects, it shifts the war from being between occupiers and nationalists to being against women.

http://www.thenation.com/article/157713/why-peace-business-men-shouldnt-be#

Most hot wars of recent memory, little and big, have been resolved or nudged into remission through what is called a power-sharing agreement. The big men from most or all of the warring parties—and war is basically a guy thing, in case you hadn’t noticed—shoulder in to the negotiating table and carve up a country’s or region’s military, political, and financial pie. Then they proclaim the resulting deal “peace.”

But as I learned firsthand as an aid worker in one so-called post-conflict country after another, when the men in power stop shooting at each other, they often escalate the war against civilians—especially women and girls. It seems to be hard for men to switch off violence, once they’ve gotten the hang of it. From Liberia to Myanmar, rape, torture, mutilation and murder continue unabated or even increase in frequency. In other words, from the standpoint of civilians, war is often not over when it’s “over,” and the “peace” is no real peace at all. Think of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the notorious “rape capital of the world,” where thousands upon thousands of women are gang-raped again and again, although the country has officially been at “peace” since 2003.

[…]

And what has President Karzai done for the rest of the women of Afghanistan? Not a thing.

That’s the conclusion of a recent report issued by the Human Rights Research and Advocacy Consortium (HRRAC), an association of prominent aid and independent research groups in Afghanistan, including such highly respected non-governmental organizations as Oxfam, CARE and Save the Children. The Afghan researchers who did the study conducted extensive interviews with prominent male religious scholars, male political leaders, and female leaders locally, provincially, and nationally.

The report notes that President Karzai has supported increasingly repressive laws against women, most notoriously the “Taliban-style” Shia Personal Status Law, enacted in 2009, which not only legitimizes marital rape but “prevents women from stepping out of their homes” without their husband’s consent, in effect depriving them of the right to make any decisions about their own lives. The report points out that this law denies women even the basic freedoms guaranteed to all citizens in the Afghan Constitution, which was passed in 2004 as part of a flurry of democratic reforms marking the start of Karzai’s first term as elected president. The democratizing spasm passed and President Karzai, sworn to defend that constitution, failed to do the job.

In fact, Karzai’s record on human rights, as the HRRAC report documents, is chiefly remarkable for what he has not done. He holds extraordinary power to make political appointments—another indicator of the peculiar nature of this Afghan “democracy” our troops are fighting for—and he has now had almost ten years in office, ample time to lead even the most reluctant traditional society toward more equitable social arrangements. Yet today, but one cabinet ministry is held by a woman, the Ministry for Women’s Affairs, which incidentally is the sole government ministry that possesses only advisory powers. Karzai has appointed just one female provincial governor, and thirty-three men. (Is it by chance that Bamyan—the province run by that woman—is generally viewed as the most peaceful in the country?) To head city governments nationwide, he has named only one female mayor. And to the Supreme Court High Council he has appointed no woman at all.Karzai’s claim that he can’t find qualified women is a flimsy—and traditional—excuse. Many of his highest-ranking appointees to government offices are notorious war criminals, men considered by the great majority of Afghan citizens to have disqualified themselves from public office. The failure of many of his male appointees to govern honestly and justly, or even to show up for work at all, is a rising complaint of NATO commanders who find upon delivery of “government in a box” that the box is pretty much empty.

The current plan from the Obama administration is to start substantially reducing the number of foreign occupation soldiers in 2014, and with the Afghan National Army and police in total shambles, bigger and bigger concessions to the most socially reactionary segments of Afghanistan will be given. Imperialism is inherently antithetical to women’s rights and dignity, its goal is subjugation, not empowerment. The economic and political subjugation of imperialism meshes perfectly with the desires to subjugate women.

Marxism and Feminism: The Synthesis for Radical Social Change

Marxism, at the most basic level, is an analysis of the opposing forces within and the connections between capitalism and the sociopolitical system. Feminists and pro-feminists can gain a huge amount from an understanding of Marx’s criticism of capitalism.  This post isn’t a primer on Marxism or feminism, but is intended to show some of the practical ways a Marxist analysis adds to feminist theory and practice.

Patriarchy and capitalism are separate, but connected, oppressive social systems. Patriarchal oppression often relies on the logic and needs of capitalism, especially the need to maximize profits and the accumulation of investment funds. Women are denied jobs and promotions under “neutral” market forces, it becomes easier to justify misogyny when someone can blame the lower productivity from a potential pregnancy and kids for denying someone a promotion. These same “neutral” market forces are used to justify gender wage gaps.

Capitalism thus has a strong interest in preserving patriarchy, since women make up such an important part in recreating daily life. Women, regardless of whether they work or not, are almost mandated to bear the majority of the burden of housework and child care. The role of women in creating the necessary social conditions for the continuation of capitalism makes them not only important, it makes their oppression beneficial to the stability of capitalism.

A Marxist analysis adds depth to feminist analysis of world events, one of the most important is economic and military imperialism.

Many liberal feminist groups supported the war against Afghanistan, one group that still supports escalation is the Feminist Majority Foundation:

it was so discouraging to learn that the Feminist Majority Foundation has lent its good name — and the good name of feminism in general — to advocate for further troop escalation and war.

On its foundation Web site, the first stated objective of the Feminist Majority Foundation’s “Campaign for Afghan Women and Girls” is to “expand peacekeeping forces.”

However, any serious analysis of patriarchy can understand why this is neoliberal bullshit

http://www.thenation.com/article/157713/why-peace-business-men-shouldnt-be#

Most hot wars of recent memory, little and big, have been resolved or nudged into remission through what is called a power-sharing agreement. The big men from most or all of the warring parties—and war is basically a guy thing, in case you hadn’t noticed—shoulder in to the negotiating table and carve up a country’s or region’s military, political, and financial pie. Then they proclaim the resulting deal “peace.”

But as I learned firsthand as an aid worker in one so-called post-conflict country after another, when the men in power stop shooting at each other, they often escalate the war against civilians—especially women and girls. It seems to be hard for men to switch off violence, once they’ve gotten the hang of it. From Liberia to Myanmar, rape, torture, mutilation and murder continue unabated or even increase in frequency. In other words, from the standpoint of civilians, war is often not over when it’s “over,” and the “peace” is no real peace at all. Think of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the notorious “rape capital of the world,” where thousands upon thousands of women are gang-raped again and again, although the country has officially been at “peace” since 2003.

An analysis based on class power and structure brings a greater understanding to these conflicts. If we take the DRC as an example:

http://www2.pslweb.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5191

The Congo was among the most brutally oppressed of the African colonies. It was also one of the richest, abounding with mineral wealth like diamonds and copper.

Belgian King Leopold II’s colonial rule of the Congo, from 1885 to 1909, was infamous for its brutality. Belgian troops massacred whole villages. Workers’ hands were cut off for “stealing” that which belonged to their land or not reaching work quotas. An estimated 10 million people were killed during Leopold’s reign.

Following World War II, countries under the yoke of imperialism struggled for independence. This was the setting in which Patrice Lumumba began political organizing. Beginning as a trade union leader in 1955, he helped found the Congolese National Movement (MNC) in 1958, which became a leading force for independence from Belgian rule. The MNC won elections in December 1959 with a plurality of the votes. Running on a non-regional, non-tribal platform for a unified Congo, the MNC emerged ahead of the middle-class-based Abako party of Joseph Kasavubu. Lumumba became the first prime minister.

Lumumba’s main contribution to the Congolese struggle was his articulation of the idea of a united Congo. This vision sought to build a united nation across all ethnic and tribal divisions, despite fierce European opposition. Lumumba’s national vision paralleled his Pan-African sentiment of African unity. Both ideals were unacceptable to the imperialist powers, which sought a Congo and Africa riven with internal strife in order to be held in submission.

[…]

On Sept. 5, the pro-imperialist president, Kasavubu, illegally removed Lumumba from office. Lumumba brought his case directly to the parliament, which reaffirmed his post. In response, Kasavubu dismissed the parliament.

UN General Secretary Dag Hammarskjold publicly endorsed Kasavubu’s move. UN forces had earlier hampered Lumumba by closing a radio station he was using to plead his case with the people.

Amid the struggle, Col. Joseph Mobutu took power in a CIA-backed coup d’etat on the side of Kasavubu and the United States. Lumumba was placed under house arrest, “protected” by UN troops actively intervening against his rule.

We can clearly see the ways that transnational corporate interests are protected by governments and international bodies. Due to the logic of capitalism, these transnational corporations benefit most from a weak, destabilized government where transnational corporations can have the most influence.

http://www2.pslweb.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=11845&news_iv_ctrl=1801

The price of gold recently rose to over $1,000 per ounce. Yet in the super-rich goldmines of the Democratic Republic of Congo 1.5 million workers, including young children, trudge through chemical-infested soil for little or no pay. They are subjected to tuberculosis epidemics.

The miners receive no pay, only a daily pail of toxic sludge, the contents of which they may keep. On a good day, a pail may contain $30 worth of gold. On most days, it contains none.

As expected whenever the capitalist game of stocks and bonds implodes, speculators have turned to gold—the “safe” commodity. The profiteers are capitalists in imperialist countries, who benefit by exploiting the mine workers. The mines of the DRC are run by U.S., British, Canadian, Australian and South African companies.

“We are working so hard. … But who is really winning? We are not profiting. The real money is being made by other people outside this country,” stated Luc Likambo, a union leader.

An analysis of class power and structure is useful for examining issues in our communities, like prostitution. A radical feminist analysis recognizes that 90-95% of prostituted women in canada and the US would get out if they could, and that this is rape on a massive scale. When we use a Marxist analysis, then we recognize that the capitalist system itself brings about the conditions for this atrocity.

http://votepsl.tumblr.com/post/25932443990/great-infographic-from-the-latest-issue-of

It needs to be emphasized that white supremacy runs through all of these issues. What we face is not just a capitalist patriarchy, but an imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. White supremacy eases liberal support for “civilizing” Afghanistan, it ensures that liberal feminists will overlook the fact that 92% of Native American prostituted women are raped, and it encourages liberal feminists to attack anyone who criticizes the white supremacy of Slutwalk.

If you want to learn more about Marxism:

http://davidharvey.org/ – a guided reading of capital vol 1 with David Harvey

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-e8rt8RGjCM – a quick rundown of marxism and economic crisis

http://www.youtube.com/user/brendanmcooney – he has a bunch of cool videos on marxist stuff