Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Water and reconstruction in Africa: an agenda for transformation

What is hidden from the Wise and Prudent will be revealed to babes and sucklings.

In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight. Luke 10:21 –

Islam ascribes the most sacred qualities to water as a life-giving, sustaining, and purifying resource. It is the origin of all life on earth, the substance from which God created man (Qur’an 25:54). The Qur’an emphasizes its centrality: "We made from water every living thing"(Qur’an 21:30). Water is the primary element that existed even before the heavens and the earth did: "And it is He who created the heavens and the earth in six days, and his Throne was upon water". (Qur’an 11:7).

REVELATION: HUGE WATER RESOURCE FOUND IN AFRICA

I have quoted from the Bible and the Koran because once one begins to deal with water one is dealing with the fundamentals of life. In all major religions and forms of spiritual reflection, water plays a central role. Whether it is the religion of the African ancestors or the newer religions such as Christianity or Islam, water is presented in real or symbolic forms. Water as a symbol of life as well as a means of cleansing or purification is of particular importance in the traditions of Africans. In nearly every African society, the water spirit is one of the most positive and forceful spirits in the community. It is because of the importance of this spiritual energy that the external exploiters always wanted to control this resource, bot at the spiritual level and at the material level. The lakes and water resources served as a spiritual and ritual space for the peoples in so far as the importance of water was understood in spiritual terms of giving life.

Those who believed in the ‘mami wata’ spirit were accused of witchcraft and oftimes cast out of communities. Those who remember the imperial partitioning of Africa will recall that for the dominant imperial force at that historical moment, the race was to reach the source of the Nile. The conquest of the peoples in the Nile valley was always central to imperial objectives in Africa. After using the water to support colonial mining, agriculture and industrial uses to the detriment of the vast majority of the peoples, colonial overlords left schools of engineering and hydrology that repeated discourses about “Global water crisis.” It was in Southern Africa where this was most obscene. Settler colonialists consumed vast amounts of water for irrigation, sprinkling elegant gardens and for their swimming pools while there was water shortage for the majority. Irrigation schemes had been established by the settlers to provide water for the farms and the political and economic power of settler colonialism had been stamped in the building of the Cabora Bassa and Kariba dams. During the period of apartheid, the minority government in cooperation with the World Bank invested in the Lesotho High Water Dam to dispossess the people of Lesotho for industries and big corporate entities in South Africa. As in South Africa, so all over Africa these schemes benefited the rich while there were books and papers on the “Global Water Crisis in Africa.” International relations experts then produced reams of papers on future water wars.

Today we are now being told the truth about the abundance of water resources in Africa. In reality, the publication last week by the British on the large underground supplies of water is only news to those in the West who had built an industry out of consultancies on water shortages in Africa. The peoples of Africa always knew of the tremendous wealth but we will use the publication of the British Geological Survey and University College London (UCL) to reflect on the tasks of building the kind of infrastructure of canals and water systems for the unification and for the health and well-being of the peoples of Africa.
As reported on the BBC web page, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17775211,

'Huge water resource exists under Africa ... Scientists say the notoriously dry continent of Africa is sitting on a vast reservoir of groundwater. They argue that the total volume of water in aquifers underground is 100 times the amount found on the surface. The team have produced the most detailed map yet of the scale and potential of this hidden resource.’ Read more

Africa and the BRICS formation: What kind of development?

The fourth BRICS Summit met in New Delhi, India, on 29 March 2012 under the theme, ‘BRICS Partnership for Global Stability, Security and Prosperity.’ From the press reports coming out India, we have learnt that the leaders of Brazil, Russia India, China and South Africa signed two pacts to stimulate trade in their local currencies and agreed on a joint working group to set up a South-South Development Bank that will raise their economic weight globally.

The participating banks for this new international financial struggle include the Export Import Bank of India, Banco Nacional de Desenvolimento Economico e Social (BNDES) of Brazil, State Corporation Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs of Russia, China Development Bank and Development Bank of South Africa. At the end of the meeting the five leaders issued the 50 point Delhi Declaration declaring their intention to further strengthen “our partnership for common development and take our cooperation forward on the basis of openness, solidarity, mutual understanding and trust.” [1]

In our commentary this week we reflect on the seismic changes in the global economy and the reality that Europe has suffered so much from the capitalist crisis that the major capitalist corporations are making preparations for the collapse of the Euro. [2] With each passing day there are reports in the financial press that ‘investors are taking huge sums out of eurozone bonds. [3] Where the BRIC leaders had started a formation to facilitate their expanded trading relationships, the collapse of the dollar zone and the Eurozone has accelerated so fast that the policy makers are now improvising without a clear road map as to a project of real international solidarity. To their credit, the BRICS leaders have seen concretely that there is no alternative to moving from a unipolar world to a multipolar world in the 21st Century that is based on mutual respect and an end to hierarchies. Yet, as we will argue in this extended commentary, the focus of the planning of the peoples of the South should no longer be on the basis of bargaining for better terms with western capitalist states. We will maintain that for genuine social and economic transformations to take place in these countries representing 45 per cent of the world’s population, it will be necessary to make a clean break with the ideas of ‘historic capitalism.’ [4] Whether the BRICS formation will be the embryo of a ‘new wave of independent initiatives from the South’ or based on regional hegemons will be dependent on the extent to which the forces of social justice and emancipation engage the political and ideological struggles around BRICS. A 17 point action plan focused on issues relating to finance, health, population, food security and multilateral energy cooperation within the BRIC’s framework provides spaces for a new research and policy agenda that could strengthen and consolidate the goals of a new framework for economic cooperation. In this way progressive scholars can give meaning to the call for the expansion of the channels of communication, exchanges and people-to-people contact amongst the BRICS, including in the areas of youth, education, culture, tourism and sports. [5]

The current leaders of India aspire for a BRICS and the ‘development bank’ to be an auxiliary institution of the World Bank. Read more

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Trayvon Martin’s murder sparks remobilization


Trayvon Martin was shot and killed on February 26, 2012 in Sanford Florida while walking from a neighbourhood store. The murder and the clumsy attempts by the police to cover up the real circumstances have exposed the callous and deep racism of sections of the criminal justice system. The information on the circumstances of the murder has sparked a new phase of mobilization against racism, racial profiling and hate crimes in the United States as details of the nature of his death becomes more widely known.

Trayvon Martin was targeted because he was a black youth and his murder highlights the structural and open violence in the United States. This murder reminded all who were talking about post-racial USA of the deep entrenched racism. Blacks face this racism in all areas of life, from kindergarten, in the school system, on the streets, where they live and in this case how they end their lives. Whether it was the case of Amadou Diallo who was shot with 41 bullets by the New York Police, James Bryd (chained in Texas and dragged through the streets), Anthony Hill (lynched in Mississippi) or the thousands of other innocent black males who have been killed in cold blood, these murders expose the dangers of living and walking while black in the United States.

The killer of Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman, admitted that he had killed the young 17-year-old, claiming that he shot Trayvon in self-defense. Decent people all across the USA have been outraged as many parents have identified with the parents of Trayvon who lost their son. The remobilization has taken the form of protests, demonstrations, teach-ins, prayer vigils, marches and other forms of expressions that are calling for the arrest of George Zimmerman. The media is going overboard linking this episode to one person, but this killing has brought out in the open the depth of the issue of racism in the United States. We will agree with Frantz Fanon,

‘Racism is not the whole but the most visible, the most day-to-day, the crudest element of a given structure....We must look for the consequences of this racism on the cultural level. Racism, as we have seen, is only one element of a vaster whole: that of the systematized oppression of a people.’

In our commentary we draw attention to the escalation of hate crimes and violence in the United States in the past five years. For the oppressed forces, the killing of Trayvon Martin is serving as on inspiration for those who want to speak out against the demagoguery and hatred that has been spread in the United States in the midst of the capitalist depression. This case is again bringing attention to the world that 21st century racism and violence against the black people in the United States is still rampant. More

Friday, March 23, 2012

Kony2012: militarization and disinformation blowback


INTRODUCTION

In any major disinformation campaign, the minimum requirement for success is to at least be credible. Invisible Children, Inc. is not a credible basis for information on Uganda and Africa. Joseph Kony is not in Uganda and cannot be compared to Hitler, Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. This group that is called the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has in the past kidnapped children and turned them into child soldiers and has exploited young girls. However, this LRA is not the military threat to Africa which is portrayed in this massive campaign called Kony2012. At this moment, to mobilize millions around the world around a campaign that Joseph Kony is a major military threat in Uganda and Central Africa is disinformation.

This is the act of deliberately spreading inaccurate information. The campaign, Kony 2012, is a classic example of military disinformation. The success in tapping into the emotions of 80 million young persons has exposed its linkages to the disinformation and cyber warfare capabilities of the US defense infrastructure. Ugandans have already responded with clarity to this manipulation of the war in their society. I think that it is important to examine the wider context of the ‘invisible hand’ behind the production of Kony2012 and the current campaign calling for a day of Action on April 20. This campaign raises deeper issues about the contemporary moment in global politics and the intense competition for imperial domination of Africa.

Disinformation and Ideological coercion of US citizens to support the military-industrial complex has been most manifest in the propaganda war over terrorism. However, this war on terror only served to isolate the United States, weaken the society and bog down its military in quagmires such as Afghanistan. Yet, despite this ideological coercion and decline, planners of the military information operations have been studying social media and information warfare in order to neutralize the growing opposition to militarism in the United States. This social media event must be examined thoroughly because the Kony2012 video broke records to become the fastest-spreading online video in history. This fact of the breaking of records alone requires deeper understanding. I will argue that the barrage of media coverage which ensured this record was not accidental. The massive promotion of this on-line can now be understood in the wider context of full spectrum warfare. in which combat operations are reserved for the last resort. Psychological warfare and disinformation operations are crucial to weaken populations both at home and in ‘enemy’ territory. I am contending that the Kony2012 was a test to intercept the social media capabilities of the youths in the USA in this revolutionary moment. Kony2012 with its ambition to ensnare millions has already been exposed with millions debunking the assertions of the film. Pambazuka has published the response of Mahmood Mamdani. The Association of Concerned Africa Scholars has published their statement addressed to the U.S. Government about the Lord’s Resistance Army and Central Africa.

A special Africa Focus bulletin has pulled together reflections of videos, blog posts, and articles with Ugandan voices and other commentaries. This record is important in that it gives a comprehensive list of resources so that young students who are organizing rebuttals can find resources to counter the planned April 20 manifestations to support the call for the US military to intervene in Africa.

In the face of this massive grassroots opposition to the manipulation by Invisible Children, even the New York Times has now joined in with its Opinion Page article that ‘Kony is not the problem.’

If Kony is not the problem, then what should peace and progressive forces do to ensure that campaign such as these are nipped in the bud? Read more

Pan Africanists and the International Criminal Court: What lessons for the future of peace and justice?


The recent news of the prayer meetings being held across Kenya by aspiring presidential candidates and the genocidal language being used in these political rallies are so morally repulsive that decent human beings in all parts of the world must pay attention. If abusing the idea of prayer and spiritual reflection was not bad enough, the inflammatory language is coming from individuals who have been ordered to stand trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague on charges of crimes against humanity. These charges stem from the crimes committed against the peoples of Kenya after the 2007 elections and fraud when more than 1,100 people are believed to have been killed in organised attacks and more than 300,000 were driven from their homes or fled in the violence.

The violence in Kenya was only one manifestation of the wider economic terrorism against the people committed by a cabal that has been associated with numerous forms of primitive accumulation since the peoples of Kenya fought for their independence. There is a ‘mafia-like cartel’ that has become rich in Kenya and these forces see themselves as above the law. Numerous reports exist on the relationship between fraud, money laundering, drug trafficking, violence, phony pharmaceutical products and a deformed financial sector. Kenyans are conscious of these crimes and the struggles against impunity reached a high point in 2010 when Kenyans ratified a new constitution. Kenyans understood that there must be an end to impunity and that the Kenyan judicial system had to be cleaned up in order to shut down the cartel of accumulators who use violence to stay in power. These Kenyans who want peace and social justice must be supported by progressive Pan Africanists everywhere.

That the judicial system in Africa and the African Union has been unable to prosecute those who carry out crimes against humanity is one of the weaknesses of the AU at this historical moment; but, as I will argue this week, Pan Africanists ought to be at the forefront at the prosecution of crimes against humanity. Pan Africanists from the grassroots cannot await the legal processes of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to organize against criminality and genocide in Africa. Justifiably, there are voices in Africa who have pointed out how the ICC has been used against Africa at present. I will maintain in this contribution that peace and justice activists must take the lead to ensure that those who commit genocidal violence and crimes against humanity must be tried in the court of public opinion and isolated in every way. In this way all of the resources available within the Pan African Movement must be deployed to ensure that the members of criminal syndicates involved in drug running, gun running and money laundering cannot use these resources to corrupt the political processes. I will argue that the form and content of the discussions of Pan Africanists and the International Criminal Court cannot distract peace and social justice forces from the need to develop networks of peace, justice and social solidarity. Read more

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Drumbeats of war: Israel’s dangerous brinkmanship


As the capitalist depression deepens, there are militarists in the United States who are now openly championing war so that the US government would embark on another massive investment for missile defense, rather than discussing reduced military spending. The drumbeat of war is so loud that it is becoming deafening. Accompanying this drumbeat is the unstated idea that there are too many non-white people in the world and that a limited nuclear war can be managed and won. Underlying the call for war is also the racist fear of a world where whites are in the minority and in such a war the racists can eradicate millions of non-whites and non-western people from the planet. The immediate plans for war are now concentrated in the Persian Gulf, with the escalating propaganda war about the nuclear capabilities of Iran. However, at the present moment Iran does not possess Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) so the discussion is really about war with contingency planning for the escalation beyond Iran. This is because the strategic analysts know full well that war with Iran will escalate beyond the borders of Iran. Already Pakistan has warned that it will come to the defense of Iran if it is attacked.

Decent humans everywhere must pay attention, actively mobilise and raise their voices against the present mobilisation for warfare. There is a debate on Ballistic Missile Defense among specialists. This struggle is part of a larger context where every day there are reports of the preparations by Israel to strike Iran. Inside the United States, those sections of the financial-military complex that are gearing up for new wars are stepping up the military information operations (psychological warfare to implant fear) against citizens of the United States. In short, the plans for war can be seen as a major propaganda war against the citizens of the United States. There is desperation by sections of the financial oligarchy who are afraid of the November elections and that Barack Obama may win a second term. In this planning for war the interests of the militarists merge with the present political leadership in Israel.

Report after report continues to come out that the Israelis will attack to prevent Iran from developing nuclear capabilities. This is the same Israeli state that possesses between 200 and 300 nuclear weapons. Israel is already involved in electronic warfare, cyber war and other forms of low intensity war against Iran.

In our contribution this week we will underscore the point that this is a very dangerous situation. This is brinkmanship and is designed to intervene in the politics of the United States to push the society towards a global war in order to secure the regional military monopoly of Israel. This military monopoly perpetuates the status of Israeli military occupation and illegal settlements in the homeland of the Palestinian people. Next week the Prime Minister of Israel will visit the United States and through the lobbying organisation, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Prime Minister will seek an advantage by manipulating the dangerous situation which can take humanity into nuclear war. The brinkmanship is so dangerous that even Cold Warriors such as Zbigniew Brzezinski (former National Security Advisor under President Jimmy Carter) have suggested that President Obama should make it clear to Israel that if they attempt to attack Iran's nuclear weapons sites the US Air Force will stop them. It is not usual to read statements such as these in the US media, “Obama Administration Should Tell Israel U.S. Will Attack Israeli Jets if They Try to Attack Iran”.

Brzezinski had appealed to Obama three years ago, long before the propaganda war reached this precipitous stage. Brzezinski, who considers himself a strategic thinker, said today that if Israel attacked Iran, the state of Israel would not survive in its current form. In short, it is possible that we are entering a period of catastrophic warfare. Read more

Mega-super star Madonna's campaign for world peace


On Sunday February 5, 2012 one of the biggest spectacles in the US entertainment and sports world took place, Super Bowl XLVI, the annual championship game of American football. It was during the half time show when over 111 million spectators watched when the world famous songstress, Madonna unveiled her statement of World Peace. These two words were released as a puff of smoke after she sang one of her more well-known songs, “Like a Prayer.”

The Super Bowl half time show is one of the most coveted slots in the United States’ entertainment calendar. Remarkably, this artist was able to sing a medley of 8 songs in ten minutes. In these ten minutes Madonna brought out a performance that must have taken months of rehearsing, using the most advanced technology and working with the circus entertainment company, Cirque du Soleil. Drawing on the talents of other younger radical and anti-imperialist artist M.I.A, the unclear Nicki Minaj along with others such as LMFAO and Cee Lo Green, Madonna brought out collaboration. With her “World Peace” statement, she intended the halftime show was to make a statement to the US society to get off its militaristic path. There are sections of the militaristic wing of the United States which is currently in a fever pitch of discussion about ‘Will Israel Attack Iran’?

There is not a day where there is not speculation in the media whether the Israelis will blackmail Obama into joining Israel in an attack on Iran. Ira Chernus in his submission, “New York Times Hypes Israeli Attack On Iran” has drawn attention to how mainstream newspapers such as the New York Times and the Washington Post are hyping the question of war against Iran. The Madonna message was presented in the midst of this media pressure for war. Read more

Friday, February 24, 2012

Abdoulaye Wade, are you a fraudulent Pan-Africanist?


Abdoulaye Wade is 85 years old. Or is it 86? Or 87? Who Knows? He is campaigning for a third term as the president of the Republic of Senegal. Wade won the elections to be president in 2000 and won another six-year term in 2007. There will be elections on Sunday, February 26, 2012. Under the Constitution of Senegal, Wade is not eligible to run for a third term. A questionable panel of judges tampered with the interpretation of the Constitution so that Wade could be ‘given’ permission to stand for a Third term. The people of Senegal have responded and have said that they have not given him permission and have been making daily manifestations against the potential third term presidency of Wade. It is likely that he will come through the elections on Sunday over the dead bodies of many Senegalese. For the past fifty years Wade represented himself as a Pan-African fighter for dignity and unity.

During the presidency of Leopold Senghor, the first president of Senegal after independence, Wade campaigned to form a political party and unsuccessfully ran against the next leader of the Socialist Party, Abdou Diouf. The Socialist Party of Senghor had dominated Senegalese politics for some 40 years but in the era of structural adjustment, this party started implementation of the ‘reforms’ to deepen capitalist exploitation. The ‘reforms’ of structural adjustment involved the strengthening of the local capitalist class in Senegal and included the privatisation of financially sound state-owned entities. In the process new social forces came into being while the majority became impoverished. Hundreds of young Senegalese started to leave the country with the exodus increasing daily. Abdou Diouf was defeated in the elections of 2000 because Wade campaigned on behalf of the people, calling himself the ‘Street President’.

Twelve years later the impact of the ’structural adjustment reforms’ are being felt even more and the people want a government that can respond to their needs. The opposition in Senegal is divided, but this is one of the most sophisticated countries in Africa with a long history of popular struggles. During the colonial period, it was the scene of one of the most protracted strikes for better living conditions. Wade had ridden on this history and had proclaimed himself as a progressive Pan-Africanist. For a short while, he was one of the few leaders calling for the immediate unification of the peoples of Africa and the building of the infrastructure for the United States of Africa. Today, as he turns the weapons of this state against the people, we are calling on Mr. Wade to step aside or go down in history as a fraudulent Pan Africanist. It is not too late to listen to the people.

PAN AFRICANISM AND DIGNITY: DEEP PAN AFRICAN TRADITIONS IN SENEGAL AND WEST AFRICA

The basic creed of Pan-Africanism is the dignity of human beings, especially the dignity of Africans. This concept of dignity has gone through many phases. At one moment it was the struggle against colonialism; at another moment, it was s struggle against apartheid. It was a struggle against Jim Crow and racism. In the 21st century, the Pan-African struggle combines the anti-colonial and the anti-racist history with a new thrust for dignity and renewal of the African person. Increasingly, as the poor people of Africa suffer the brunt of the capitalist crisis, it is clearer that the present state structures in Africa cannot be the basis for freedom and dignity. Africa cannot be free with the structures of the Berlinist state along with the institutions of exploitation and domination.

The peoples of Senegal understood this basic dictum of Pan-African unity and freedom and the ordinary workers, traders and cultural workers from Senegal claimed African and international spaces. They do not respect colonial borders. They do not respect the barriers to the free movement of people. This Pan-Africanism at the grassroots is most evident among the women who are the connective corridor between the Pan-African trade networks across Africa. Whether it is Angola, Zambia, South Africa, Ghana, one will find these traders, crafts persons who do not allow language, currencies or political forces to prevent them from carrying out their day to day existence.

It is this culture of freedom in Senegal that produced some of the greatest Pan-African thinkers and Cheikh Anta Diop stands heads and shoulders over many. Diop’s work and his contributions on the cultural unity of Africa remains one of the foundation documents for the building of the union of the peoples of Africa. Younger Pan-Africanists will do well to read his writings on Pan-Africanism and the need for one government in Africa. Diop was also aware of the need for a special place for women in this united Africa so he suggested a bicameral arrangement with special deliberative bodies for women. It is also Cheikh Anta Diop who wrote and spoke of the vibrant African optimism that will take Africa out of the barbarism of capitalism. Senegal also produced the top film maker and writer, Ousmane Sembène, whose Pan-African writings have lifted the hearts and spirits of peoples everywhere. Sembene wanted humans to have dignity. Then, there are the hundreds of cultural voices who use different mediums to bring across their message. Senegalese rappers are now joining the traditions of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and other Pan-African in singing songs of freedom and emancipation. Read more

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Dudley Thompson: A fighter for socialism and African unity


‘Not only are they wicked for enslaving our ancestors but, worse, they have stubbornly and consistently refused to confess their crime against humanity….’ - Dudley Thompson

INTRODUCTION

On 20 January 2012 Dudley Joseph Thompson, the indefatigable fighter for African Unity, reparative justice and socialism joined the ancestors. Born in Panama, raised in Jamaica and serving as a frontline activist for African Liberation, Thompson spent the past 70 years of his life working to end domination and exploitation of the African people at home and abroad. He was 95 years old. After graduating from Oxford University, Thompson moved to East Africa (Tanzania) and from there worked tirelessly for the liberation struggles in that region, acting as one of the coordinators of the defense team for Jomo Kenyatta and other leaders of the Kenyan independence struggles. Thompson returned to Jamaica in 1955 where he participated in the political movement for decolonisation. He could not escape the poisonous political atmosphere existing in the Caribbean during this period of the 1970s and thus he worked to promote anti-imperialist positions. He was a member of the government of the People’s National Party (PNP) led by Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley.

This was a moment when the Jamaican political leadership articulated a program of democratic socialism. The United States government and its Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) intensified the latent violence and murder of that former slave society. After the popular rebellions of the pre-independence period, both political parties had organised thugs in their ranks. The CIA exploited the basic political mechanisms of the two-party divide and introduced a global connection between guns politics and trafficking of illegal substances. Because of the depth of violence and thuggery of that political system, Thompson was one branch of this political divide. During the period of CIA destabilisation of Jamaica he was the minister of national security and his reputation was permanently tainted by a massacre at Green Bay in 1978. He lived to regret this killing of youths by the Jamaican military. After serving in the Jamaican government (1974 to 1980), he was appointed as the ambassador for Jamaica to Nigeria, West Africa. He worked within the Global Africa reparations movement and from Nigeria strengthened the forces of reparative justice in that society. When Thompson sought to work with leaders such as Nigerian historian Professor J. F. Ade Ajayi and President-elect Chief M.K.O Abiola, the US and Britain were alarmed. Read more

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Transformation of China’s diplomacy: New discipline, new paradigm and new strategy


INTRODUCTION

On 17 December 2011, there was the 11th annual conference on Chinese diplomacy organised by the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy held at Tsinghua University with two parallel meetings. Under the title of ‘New Discipline, New Paradigm and New Strategy’, the dominant question in this conference was the changed international situation, especially the new internationalisation of the issues of the South China Sea. Many themes emerged, and I want to identify two. The first was the articulation by various specialists that China will have to be creative and to define new strategies for a foreign policy that will guarantee peace and international stability. The second theme was the reaffirmation by China’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs that China was on the road to build socialism and that its foreign policy was one path in this road.

In relation to the first overriding theme, I was intrigued to hear from one international presenter, Robert Kaplan, that the Chinese involvement in Kenya and the building of a new town in Lamu was part of a wider strategy for the projection of Chinese naval power in the Indian Ocean, linking new port facilities from Kenya to Sri Lanka to Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. Meetings such as these reconfirmed the necessity for peace activists to have a global view in order to grasp how rivalries between particular societies can negatively affect the pace of transformation in other societies. On the second theme, there was a basic contradiction between this reaffirmation of the tasks of building socialism and the current intellectual culture at the highest levels, which is subservient to western and realist principles of politics and economics. In my recent work among scholars of international relations at the mainstream universities in China it was rare to encounter a scholar who was familiar with ideas of South–South relations as a theoretical framework. The Marxism of the party cadres was so caricatured that it had no appeal for the young. It was the environmentalists and activists for the landless who were pushing for a new conception of politics. Read more

African world view on revolutionary ruptures and pace of change in 2012: ‘Egypt's popular revolution will change the world’


INTRODUCTION

From time to time in the history of society one event or a series of social struggles point to a new direction in world politics. At the beginning of 2011, the upheavals in Tunisia and Egypt were two such social and political struggles. By the end of the year the sustained struggle of workers to retain basic democratic rights of collective bargaining had placed the plutocrats of Wall Street on the defensive. When the spokespersons for the top one per cent met in Davos, Switzerland for the usual retreat of international power brokers in January 2012, there were clear signs that they had lost the political initiative. Timothy Geithner, Treasury Secretary of the United States, warned of ‘critical risks’ while there were recriminations between the various European spokespersons on the outcome of the proposed ‘austerity measures.’ George Soros, ever vigilant to maintain a system where he has made billions of dollars, warned that the ‘austerity Germany wants to impose will push Europe into a deflationary spiral, creating a ‘very dangerous political dynamic.’ Instead of pulling countries together, it would ‘drive them to mutual recrimination.’

Tim Geithner, George Soros, French President Nicholas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron were exposing the deep divisions between the old traditional imperial overlords in the face of the sharp shift in the global order. Japan saw the ‘conflicts between Germany and France on one side’ and the other weaker states in Europe and is moving to escape the ‘dangerous political dynamic’ of the European project. Hence, we have witnessed the currency swap arrangements and new vigor to embrace China and other economic partners in Asia.

What should the progressive movement make of these changes and the journey towards a new distribution of global power?

Can a social democratic solution be reconstructed or are we on the verge of a 21st century form of fascism? Read more

China and Japan currency swap: A nail in the coffin of the U.S. Dollar


On 25 December 2011, the government of Peoples Republic of China and Japan unveiled plans to promote direct exchange of their currencies. This agreement will allow firms to convert the Chinese and Japanese currencies directly into each other, thus negating the need to buy dollars. This deal between China and Japan followed agreements between China and numerous countries to trade outside the sphere of the US dollar. A few weeks earlier, China also announced a 70 billion Yuan ($11 billion) currency swap agreement with Thailand.

After visiting China, the Prime Minister of Japan Yoshihiko Noda went on to India and signed another currency swap agreement with the government of India. These currency agreements in Asia came in a year when the countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) were seeking to deepen ways to strengthen their firewall to protect their economies from the continued devaluation of the US dollar. In the year of the ‘Eurozone crisis’ when the future of the EURO as a viable currency was fraught with uncertainty, many states were reconsidering holding their reserves in the US dollar.

Moreover, in the face of the neo-liberal orthodoxy of the Bretton Woods institutions (especially the IMF) swap agreements were proliferating in all parts of the globe. The Latin Americans established the Bank of the South and are slowly laying the groundwork for a new currency, the SUCRE. As in Asia, the Bank of the South will be one of the fundamental institutions of the Union of South American Nations that has been launched in Latin America in order to guarantee the independence of the societies of Latin America. Not to be left as the only region holding dollars, the leaders of the oil rich states of the Gulf Cooperation Council have been buying gold while announcing as long ago as 2009 the intention to establish a monetary union with a common currency. In Africa there are plans for the strengthening of the financial basis of the African Union but so far there has not been the same kind coordinated regional plans for financial independence. During the period of the debate on the debt crisis in the USA, the Nigerian central bank governor Lamido Sanusi announced that Nigeria plans to invest 5 to 10 percent of its foreign exchange reserves in the Chinese currency - the Yuan also known as the renminbi (RMB). Read more