Posts Tagged ‘Zapatistas’

Book on Anti-Capitalism

May 29, 2021

Simon Tormey, Anti-Capitalism: A Beginner’s Guide (London: One World, revised edition 2013).

Like many people, I’ve been doing some reading during the lockdown. I found this in one of the mail order book catalogues I get, and ordered it as it looked interesting. I got through the post the other day. It was first published in 2004 and was republished in a revised edition nine years later. The blurb for it on the back runs

The financial crisis, bank bailouts, and the dash to austerity have breathed new life into protest movements across the globe, and brought anti-capitalist ideas into the mainstream. But what does it mean to be anti-capitalist? And where is anti-capitalism going – if anywhere?

Simon Tormey explores these questions and more in the only accessible introduction to the full spectrum of anti-capitalist ideas and politics. With nuance and verve, he introduces the reader to the wide variety of positions and groups that make up the movement, including anarchists, Marxists, autonomists, environmentalists, and more. Providing essential global and historical context, Tormey takes us from the 1968 upsurge of radical politics to the 1994 Zapatista insurrection, the 1999 Seattle protests, and right up to Occupy and the uprisings across the Eurozone.

This is a fascinating and bold exploration of how to understand the world – and how to change it.

A biographical note states that Tormey is a political theorist based in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Sydney. He was the founding director of the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice at the University of Nottingham.

The book has an introduction and the following chapters:

  1. The Hows and Whys of Capitalism
  2. Anti-Capitalism after the ‘End of History’
  3. A ‘movement of movements’1: ‘reformism’, or ‘globalisation with a human face’
  4. A ‘movement of movements’ II: renegades, radicals and revolutionaries
  5. The Future(s) of Anti-Capitalism: Problems and Perspectives

There is a timeline of contemporary anti-capitalism, a glossary of key terms, thinkers and movements, and a list of resources.

Although the book was published eight years ago, I think it’s still going to be very relevant. The world may have been in lockdown for the past year with governments supporting their economies, but the Tories have neither gone away nor changed their stripes. It’s been pointed out that they never let a crisis go to waste. Once the lockdown is lifted, they’ll revert back to cutting the welfare state, privatising the NHS and with further attacks on workers’ rights, increasing job insecurity and lowering wages. We will need to organise again and resist them. The book’s short at 181 pages, excluding the index, but it looks like a very useful and necessary contribution to combating neoliberalism and the poverty and misery it is inflicting on working people across the globe.

William Blum on the Naïve Trust of Countries Invaded by US

September 14, 2016

William Blum, in issue 4 of his Anti-Empire Report, published in December 2003, discussed how the Iraqis tried to prevent the US invasion of their country by offering to let American troops enter and show them that they very definitely didn’t have Weapons of Mass Distraction. Blum notes that the Iraqis weren’t the only country, who trusted America, and believed that if they simply gave in and acceded to the US’ demands, or demonstrated their good faith in another way, the US wouldn’t invade or try to overthrow the government. There’s a long list of such nations, which then also included Syria. Blum writes

We now know that Iraq tried to negotiate a peace deal with the United States to avoid the American invasion in March. Iraqi officials, including the chief of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, wanted Washington to know that Iraq no longer had weapons of mass destruction and offered to allow American troops and experts to conduct a search; full support for any US plan in the Arab-Israeli peace process, and handing over a man accused of being involved in the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 were also offered. If this is about oil, they said, they would also talk about US oil concessions.

What is most surprising about this is not the offers per se, but the naivete – undoubtedly fueled by desperation – on the part of the Iraqis that apparently led them to believe that the Americans were open to negotiation, to discussion, to being somewhat reasonable. The Iraqis apparently were sufficiently innocent about the fanaticism of the Bush administration that at one point they pledged to hold UN-supervised free elections. Surely free elections is something the United States believes in, the Iraqis reasoned, and will be moved by.

Other countries have harbored similar illusions about American leaders. Over the years, a number of Third-World leaders, under imminent military and/or political threat by the United States, have made appeals to Washington officials, even to the president in person, under the apparently hopeful belief that it was all a misunderstanding, that America was not really intent upon crushing them and their movements for social change. Amongst others, the Guatemalan foreign minister in 1954, Cheddi Jagan of British Guiana in 1961, and Maurice Bishop of Grenada in 1983 all made their appeals. All were crushed. In 1961, Che Guevara offered a Kennedy aide several important Cuban concessions if Washington would call off the dogs of war. To no avail. In 1994, it was reported that the leader of the Zapatista rebels in Mexico, Subcommander Marcos said that “he expects the United States to support the Zapatistas once US intelligence agencies are convinced the movement is not influenced by Cubans or Russians.” “Finally,” Marcos said, “they are going to conclude that this is a Mexican problem, with just and true causes.” Yet for many years, the United States has been providing the Mexican military with all the training and tools needed to kill Marcos’ followers and, most likely, before long, Marcos himself.

Syria today appears to be the latest example of this belief that somewhere in Washington, somehow, there is a vestige of human-like reasonableness that can be tapped. The Syrians turn over suspected terrorists to the United States and other countries and accept prisoners delivered to them by the US for the clear purpose of them being tortured to elicit information. The Syrians make it clear that they do these things in the hope of appeasing the American beast; this while the United States continues speaking openly of overthrowing the Syrian government and imposes strict sanctions against the country.

The “mystique” of America lives on.

This can be read on the Report’s site at https://williamblum.org/aer/read/4

I wonder how long it will be before the nations of the world decide that America and its allies, including Britain, are irredeemably treacherous, and that no deal can be made with us. Saddam Hussein’s Iraq is a case in point. Hussein at one point was an assassin for America, who tried to kill one of Iraq’s leading politicians after a coup in the 1950s overthrew the Iraqi prime minister installed by us. He was also armed and funded by us during the Iran-Iraq War, as part of our attack on the Islamic Republic. Then, having served his purpose, and with Big Oil demanding the Iraqi oil reserves, and Israel demanding his overthrow because he was funnelling arms to Palestinians – he was discarded and his country invaded and looted. The attacks on Iraq have been responsible for some of the radicalisation of Muslims in this country. Other Black and Asian groups have become disaffected because of the treatment of their peoples and nations by Britain, America and the West. And unfortunately, they’ve got a point. And as long as America goes on leading its allies cynically to break treaties as soon as they see the least advantage, the more this radicalisation will continue.