Indian communists on challenges for the Arab Spring and the American Autumn; Revolt of the 99 per cent
Placard at a Occupy Washington DC protest.
By the Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist) Liberation
November 7, 2011 -- ML Update -- It was Iraq in 2006. It is Libya today in 2011. In 2006, the administration of US President George Bush had celebrated the conquest of Iraq by exhibiting the mutilated body of Saddam Hussein as a prized trophy. The spectacle of celebration of Libya’s "liberation" is turning out to be remarkably similar. On October 20, 2011, the world came to know about the ruthless elimination of Libya’s deposed ruler Muammar Gaddafi. He was captured alive – and unlike in the Saddam case there was no pretence of a trial – only to be murdered brutally and his blood-streaked body was put on display in a commercial freezer at a shopping centre in Misrata. Around the same tIme his son, Mutassim, was also captured and killed in Sirte, reportedly the last stronghold of the Gaddafi regime. While Barack Obama's administration and NATO immediately hailed the "liberation" of Libya, US and French flags could be seen being waved on Libya’s streets alongside Libyan flags.
It is indeed a queer irony of history. On the one hand, the Arab Spring that had started in Egypt and brought an end to the three-decade-old reign of Hosni Mubarak has reached the US soil in the form of the Occupy Wall Street movement, on the other hand the US-NATO war campaign is desperately trying to subvert and subjugate the Arab Spring to its strategic objectives and calculations. Libya is strategically no less important than Iraq – both for its oil reserves and its standing as the geopolitical gateway of Africa. The post-Gaddafi transition in Libya will be as messy as post-Saddam Iraq, providing enough opportunities to the US and other NATO powers to tighten their grip on Libya and use it as a launching pad for a veritable invasion of Africa and for toppling other regimes in the Middle East.
There can of course be no denying the fact that in recent years the Gaddafi regime in Libya, like the Saddam regime in Iraq, had lost its legitimacy and momentum. There was a period in the 1970s and 1980s when Gaddafi led the building of modern Libya -– he nationalised the oil economy in the former British colony, built the infrastructure of a modern country, stood by Palestine against Zionist aggression and occupation, and extended full support to the anti-colonial anti-racist assertion all over Africa. But over the years Gaddafi earned increasing notoriety as a ruthless dictator. Meanwhile, the sanctions imposed in the wake of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing incident (in which Libya was falsely blamed) had also crippled the Libyan economy considerably. In the wake of the collapse of the USSR and, more recently, the US-led invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, Gaddafi was known to have developed a working relationship with Britain and other Western powers perhaps in the vain hope that Libya would be left alone.
Mired militarily in Afghanistan and Iraq, and faced with a stubborn recession at home, the US has been looking for a different tactic to cater to its strategy of global domination. It has chosen to ride piggyback on the Arab Spring. Using the local resistance and opposition to dictatorial and unpopular regimes in the Middle East, the US is seeking to effect regime changes and acquire greater economic and political control over the process of transition. The tactic seems to have worked quite effectively so far in Libya. Apart from gaining control over oil and gas and other key natural resources including land, the US also looks to counter the growing economic presence of China in Africa. It is well known that while the US is busy spreading its military tentacles all over the world, China has deepened its economic role in Africa through growing infrastructure projects and other related investments.
The "liberation" of Libya would surely encourage the US to intensify its scramble for Africa. Towards the end of the second term of Bush presidency, the US had established a unified military command called AFRICOM to direct the US military role in all the 54 countries of Africa. Fully operational since October 1, 2008, AFRICOM is aimed at protecting US national interests "from transnational threats emanating from Africa" and remaining ever prepared "to prevail against any individual or organization that poses a threat to the United States, our national interests, or our allies and partners". With Libya secured, the US is already busy strengthening its military role in Africa in the garb of "humanitarian intervention" and "peaceful engagement" in countries like Congo, Uganda, recently bifurcated Sudan and several other African countries.
This US-NATO game plan clearly poses a frontal challenge to the spirit of both Arab Spring as well as "American Autumn". While the Arab people want to run their countries independently and democratically, the Occupy Wall Street movement has come out against both corporate greed and plunder and US military bases and interventions across the world. The OWS movement is informed by a painful realisation that the working people of the US are reeling under the burden of not just economic recession and enormous bailout packages handed out to Wall Street but also the crushing weight of the Empire what with the growing cost of US military expeditions the world over. The spirit of the OWS movement is thus directed as much against Wall Street as the Pentagon. But while acknowledging the frustration of the US people and the stubbornness of the recession, the Obama administration continues to fuel the US war machine. The democratic aspiration underlying the Arab Spring and the American Autumn will therefore have to squarely challenge the US imperialism’s entire design of global domination.
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Occupy Wall Street: Revolt of the 99 per cent
By the Comminist Party of India (Marxist Leninist) Liberation
November 2011 -- Liberation -- After the Arab Spring and (south) European Summer, now it is the turn of the American Autumn to unfurl the banner of resistance. The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) or the “99 per cent” movement (a reference to the deprived Americans who find the going increasingly tough even as the top 1 per cent control 40 per cent of US wealth) is fighting, in the words of its website, “against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations. Inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, Spain, Greece, Italy and the UK, it aims to expose how the richest 1% of people who are writing the rules of the global economy are imposing an agenda of neoliberalism and economic inequality that is foreclosing our future.”
The protest was not planned by any political party or group, nor was it proposed by some charismatic personality. It had its origin in a suggestion mooted by a Canadian anti-consumerist online magazine that was endorsed by a group of computer hackers and then spread via Twitter and Facebook across America. The whole thing is run by consensus through a loose, horizontal system comprising a general assembly, a number of working/volunteer groups and a direct action committee comprising, for the most part, the original organisers of the protest and other full-time activists.
Given the fact that both Republicans and Democrats coddle Wall Street and rely on campaign contributions from top corporate honchos, and with hardly any organised left or consistently democratic political formation in sight, it is but natural that any genuine mass struggle against corporate power in the US would be avowedly independent, non-party (and also non-political, as many participants in the current movement insist). The spontaneous evolution from grassroots, the broad-based non-party character and the method of direct democracy have no doubt helped earn the trust of people from myriad political/apolitical trends and ensured their active and energetic participation.
At the same time, in the absence of a well-knit and ideologically coherent leading body, the OWS runs the risk of losing focus, failing to formulate specific demands and appropriate policies at different junctures. Thus, it is that the otherwise excellent declaration of the New York City general assembly does identify the class enemy –- which by itself is a very big thing, particularly in the US context –- and vividly expresses the grievances of broadest cross-section of people; but does not specify any immediate demands (say, higher taxes on the rich or a financial transactions tax or a cap on executive pay) nor declare how, through which steps or measures, the angry protesters propose to achieve their goal.
However, one should understand “the inevitable confusion of the first start” and “give the movement time to consolidate”, as Frederick Engels advised a comrade in New York way back in 1886, when the US working class was embarking on the path of organised agitation. Today’s multiclass popular struggle too is young and unique and needs time to learn from experience. We have reason to be hopeful, for the OWS has already proved itself the most sustained popular agitation since the one against Vietnam War and earned the support, according to a Time poll, of some 79% of the people of America and evoked tremendous international response.
Whatever be the immediate outcome of this particular battle, with the economic outlook darkening further the war will rage more fiercely on. Let us express warm solidarity to the American “99 per cent” exactly the way the people in Italy, Greece and other countries have done -– by intensifying our own ongoing battle against our increasingly unjust social order.