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D2. Socialism

London's climate rebellion surges on

New Internationalist - 5 hours 55 min ago
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Tobi Thomas reports on the climax to last week’s wave of mass action led by the now global Extinction Rebellion movement.

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Tobi Thomas reports on the climax to last week’s wave of mass action led by the now global Extinction Rebellion movement.

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Categories: D2. Socialism

La taxation des carburants renforce l’injustice fiscale

Systemic Alternatives - Fri, 11/16/2018 - 09:05
[Jean Gadrey, Dominique Plihon y Aurélie Trouvé/LIBERATION/15 de noviembre de 2018] Au-delà du 17 novembre, il faut sortir de l’alternative réductrice de «taxer ou pas». D’autres pistes restent à explorer sur la mobilité des personnes.

On n’évitera pas une catastrophe climatique dont les premiers effets sont de plus en plus visibles sans réduire très fortement le recours aux énergies fossiles dans leurs principaux domaines d’utilisation, dont le chauffage, les usages productifs et les transports routiers, maritimes et aériens. Le transport routier est le premier de ces postes d’émissions de gaz à effet de serre, et plus de la moitié de ses émissions incombe aux véhicules particuliers.

Plusieurs types de dispositifs devront être conjugués, pas seulement celui qui fait parler de lui actuellement à propos des carburants : la taxation. C’est ainsi que des campagnes visant le «désinvestissement» ou le blocage des projets des industries de l’extraction ont pris de l’ampleur dans plusieurs pays. Ou encore qu’un peu partout des mouvements citoyens se battent, parfois avec succès, pour des transports en communs accessibles ou gratuits, contre des projets d’autoroutes ou de tunnels dignes du siècle passé, pour faciliter l’usage du vélo en ville, relocaliser des activités comme celles des maternités, des services publics et des petits commerces de proximité, etc. Autant de luttes qui ne jouent pas sur la dissuasion par le prix mais sur la construction d’alternatives appréciées.

Faire monter les prix des énergies fossiles (qui sont dans tous les cas appelés à monter, taxes ou non) n’est donc pas la seule ni sans doute la plus importante façon de susciter des comportements moins polluants, mais cela peut faire partie des mesures à défendre, sous certaines conditions qui ne sont pas remplies aujourd’hui.

Pour les plus riches, les hausses sont indolores

Les écotaxes sur la mobilité des personnes posent en effet un problème dans une société qui, d’une part, s’est organisée en grande partie autour de l’usage de la voiture dans des espaces urbains ou périurbains à plusieurs vitesses, spéculation foncière oblige, et qui, d’autre part, est minée par des inégalités de plus en plus indécentes, par la pauvreté et la précarité à tous les âges. Quelles sont les catégories les plus touchées par les hausses de prix des carburants ? Ce sont, outre certaines professions qui en sont très dépendantes (par exemple les personnes qui exercent des services d’aides et de soins à domicile), les ménages pauvres ou modestes, pour qui il s’agit essentiellement de dépenses «contraintes». Pour les plus riches, ces hausses sont indolores et elles le resteront longtemps. Et ils sont plus nombreux à habiter dans des centres-villes exigeant moins de déplacements contraints.

En pourcentage du revenu des ménages après impôt, le poids des dépenses énergétiques est de 15 % en moyenne pour les 20 % les plus pauvres et de 6 % pour les 20 % les plus riches. Pour les carburants, ces chiffres sont respectivement de 4,6 % et 2,4 %. Il est certain que les 5 % ou les 1 % les plus riches dépensent bien peu pour ces postes en proportion de leurs revenus, même s’ils dépensent plus dans l’absolu et si, à l’arrivée, ils polluent nettement plus. Si les hausses des taxes sur les carburants sont ressenties par beaucoup comme injustes, c’est parce que l’injustice en général, et l’injustice fiscale en particulier, produisent de tels jugements négatifs car trop de gens ne s’en sortent pas alors qu’une minorité se gave, contre-réformes fiscales à l’appui (ISF, CICE, etc.). Comment inverser la vapeur pour trouver une voie socialement juste vers la «justice climatique», celle qui peut encore préserver l’avenir des générations présentes et futures?

On pourrait, dans le cas de la mobilité des personnes, suivre trois pistes :

1. D’abord, taxer à la fois ce qui détruit le climat (écotaxes carbone, pas seulement pour les voitures : les avions, les bateaux…) et ce qui détruit la société, c’est-à-dire retrouver une fiscalité des revenus et du patrimoine permettant, sans creuser la dette, d’améliorer nettement le pouvoir de vivre de ceux et celles qui, aujourd’hui font les frais d’une politique qui enrichit les riches en s’en prenant aux retraites, aux minima sociaux, aux salaires faibles et moyens et à la protection sociale.

2. D’autre part, investir massivement dans des alternatives, toutes connues, du local au global, par exemple dans des transports collectifs plus denses, moins chers et plus propres, comme il en existe dans plusieurs pays et de nombreuses villes du monde, mais aussi dans la multiplication des pistes cyclables et des parkings pour les vélos.

3. Enfin, agir à la fois sur la consommation, par le biais des mesures précédentes, et sur la production (les grandes entreprises), qu’il s’agisse des industries extractives, de celles de l’automobile, des transports et des travaux publics, de la grande distribution, et bien entendu de la finance pour qu’on cesse d’investir dans les grands projets «climaticides» et pour qu’on mette l’activité économique et le crédit au service de la transition vers une mobilité peu polluante. Il est particulièrement scandaleux que les 106 milliards d’euros des livrets d’épargne de «développement durable et solidaire» servent encore à financer les 200 entreprises «fossiles» ayant le plus de responsabilités dans le dérèglement climatique.

Au-delà du 17 novembre en France, des mobilisations pour le climat sont prévues partout à travers le monde, le 8 décembre, en pleine COP24. Nous espérons que ces mobilisations seront massives. Nous devons sortir de l’alternative réductrice «taxer ou pas» qui est agitée actuellement.

Jean Gadrey, Dominique Plihon et Aurélie Trouvé économistes et membres d’Attac France

Categories: D2. Socialism

Pakistan: censorship by stealth

New Internationalist - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 09:18
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Media independence in Pakistan is suffering, with the authorities using creative ways to silence journalists. Suddaf Chaudry explains.

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Media independence in Pakistan is suffering, with the authorities using creative ways to silence journalists. Suddaf Chaudry explains.

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Categories: D2. Socialism

Degrowth as a concrete utopia

Systemic Alternatives - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 08:19
[Riccardo Mastini/ Open Democracy/07 de noviembre de 2018]

The emergence of interest in degrowth can be traced back to the 1st International Degrowth Conference organized in Paris in 2008. At this conference, degrowth was defined as a “voluntary transition towards a just, participatory, and ecologically sustainable society,” so challenging the dogma of economic growth. Another five international conferences were organized between 2010 and 2018, with the latest in Malmo in August.

This year also saw the publication of Giorgos Kallis’ landmark book Degrowth, which opens with three bold statements. First, the global economy should slow down to avert the destruction of Earth’s life support systems, because a higher rate of production and consumption will run parallel to higher rates of damage to the environment. Hence, we should extract, produce and consume less, and we should do it all differently. Since growth-based economies collapse without growth we have to establish a radically different economic system and way of living in order to prosper in the future.

Second, economic growth is no longer desirable. An increasing share of GDP growth is devoted to ‘defensive expenditure,’ meaning the costs people face as a result of environmental externalities such as pollution. Hence, growth (at least in rich countries) has become “un-economic:” its benefits no longer exceed its costs.

Third, growth is always based on exploitation, because it is driven by investment that, in turn, depends on surplus. If capitalists or governments paid for the real value of work then they would have no surplus and there would be no growth. Hence, growth cannot reduce inequalities; it merely postpones confronting exploitation.

The growth paradigm.

Economic growth implies the acceleration of the production of goods and services.  But it is not only GDP that has grown exponentially in the twentieth century: all indicators of work, environmental impact and ‘social metabolism’ have also accelerated (the processes of energy and material transformation in a society that are necessary for its continued existence), because GDP growth involves an increase in work and investment, the extraction of resources, and the disposal of waste.

However growth isn’t only a material process; it’s also cultural, political and social. After first appearing in colonial and industrial centres in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it entrenched itself as a global ideology in the 1950s. Kallis calls this ideology “the growth paradigm:” the idea that perpetual economic growth is natural, necessary and desirable. This paradigm became the central concept of the geopolitical world order at a confluence of historical forces: the Cold War and the arms race, the end of colonialism and its indirect continuation under the guise of ‘development,’ and the failure of socialist projects for equality.

Even though growth is the child of capitalism, the pursuit of growth survived the abolition of capitalist relations in socialist countries. It is now easier to imagine the end of capitalism than the end of growth. Kallis argues that “every crisis leaves the idea of growth strengthened: the time when growth falters and seems to be coming to an end, when the costs of growth come to the forefront, is also when it becomes most necessary and is most ardently pursued, since without growth the system collapses.” The problem, however, is that economic growth is both increasingly harder to come by and is causing a planetary ecological breakdown.

Exiting the economy.

Degrowth evolved as much as a critique of the limits and costs of growth as a critique of economic reasoning. The problem isn’t only that economic growth is socially undesirable and environmentally unsustainable; it’s that the way economists frame reality is wrong. Kallis calls for “exiting the economy,” meaning de-centering the economy as a unit of analysis and a focus of political action. To do this it is necessary to mobilize different forms of knowledge and representations of reality.

Drawing from the work of Karl Polanyi, Kallis develops a critique of “economism:” the expansion under capitalism of the logic of commodity and market exchange to realms of life from which they were previously excluded. Indeed, what we today understand as ‘economic’ activities were once embedded in social institutions in pre-capitalist societies like rituals, kinship networks, and state or religious mechanisms of redistribution. Market activities were subordinate to politics and values.

Therefore the economy “is the instituted process of interactions between humans and their environments, involving the use of material means for the satisfaction of human values.” Societies develop institutions within which economic activities are embedded, so these institutions aren’t neutral; rather they order conflicting values and interests and are themselves a domain of power and struggle.

The economy is also part of the ‘social imaginary’ – how we organize our world based on certain foundational ideas that express what we think it should look like. Imaginaries rest on a system of symbols, “significations” and institutions like GDP and central banks. Kallis explains that “an imaginary provides a culture with the meaning that drives its actions. The imaginary of a market economy is imprinted in the institutions of a market economy, which in turn produce subjects who behave like the rational maximizers of market economics. Market economics is then validated by a world that it has helped create.”

But when a tension between these imaginaries and actual experience emerges, change becomes more likely through a process that is rife with conflicts, since the pursuit of new imaginaries is never shared by the whole of society. Those who hold power have an interest in things staying as they are, while the rest strive to unleash the social potential that can change the world.

In the case of degrowth the new imaginaries that we need revolve around the idea that there will never be enough until we share what there is; sharing and enjoying a limited planet is what degrowth is all about.

A concrete utopia.

Degrowth refers to a path where throughput, and in all likelihood output, shrinks while living conditions improve. Kallis frames this as a hypothesis: “subject to a radical and egalitarian social transformation, it is possible to sustain well-being and improve living and ecological conditions in an economy that unavoidably will contract. Seen as a research programme, the agenda is to find how, or under what conditions, this may become possible.”

Such a transformation is meant to re-embed the economy within society. And securing conditions that enable everyone to have enough will ensure that nobody faces scarcity – even if society produces less than today – by providing all the basic goods essential for human wellbeing free from payment.

Revisioning productivity is also important: taking resources and time out of the production circuit and devoting them instead to politics and leisure, or to spending time with family and friends. Unlike today, productivity would not be the final objective of public policies. Even if we are less productive, relational ‘goods’ increase and compensate for the loss of material goods. Furthermore, in degrowth, unpaid care work would be valued, and cooperatives or not-for-profits would become the dominant producers, employing most of the working population. As a consequence, the realm of production for profit would be radically reduced, and opportunities for accumulation – that is, investment for expansion and further profit – would be curtailed.

Even though the contraction of the economy is not the goal, in the long run this is inevitable. And it will happen either as a broader political project of social transformation (i.e. degrowth) or catastrophically through a series of crises. Kallis calls this project a “concrete utopia,” since there are concrete steps that can to help bring it closer.

To this end he discusses policy proposals including the replacement of GDP; a reduction in working hours to create employment in the absence of growth; a universal income or a guaranteed bundle of public services to ensure that everyone has enough to get by without depending on money; redistributive taxation to increase equality and the establishment of a maximum income to arrest competition for positional consumption; a redirection of public investments from the private sector to the public, and from infrastructure and activities that increase productivity to expenditures that green the economy and reclaim the commons; and the adoption of environmental caps.

It is worth noting that some of these policy proposals were included in a recent open letter signed by 238 scientists who called on the European Union to plan for a post-growth future in which human and ecological well-being is prioritised. Kallis concludes his book by arguing that, even though such policies may appear reformist compared with the utopian vision of degrowth, they are extremely radical when compared to where things currently stand. Borrowing the term ‘non-reformist reforms’ from André Gorz, he explains that if such reforms were to be implemented they “would require the very contours of the system to change radically to accommodate them. And simple and commonsensical as they are, they expose the irrationality of a system that makes them seem impossible and yet deems possible what in all likelihood will end in catastrophe.”

Categories: D2. Socialism

The prospect of indigenous self-government

New Internationalist - Wed, 11/14/2018 - 06:38
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The island of New Caledonia narrowly voted to stick with French rule, Nic Maclellan outlines the key reasons for this vote against indigenous self-government.

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The French-Pacific island of New Caledonia narrowly voted to stick with French rule, Nic Maclellan outlines the key reasons for this vote against indigenous self-government.

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Categories: D2. Socialism

Peace-building for the long haul

New Internationalist - Mon, 11/12/2018 - 08:02
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Samir Jeraj reports from Beirut on how Lebanese peacemakers are rebuilding a sense of communal life.

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Samir Jeraj reports from Beirut on how Lebanese peacemakers are rebuilding a sense of communal life.

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Categories: D2. Socialism

Illegitimate children denied British citizenship by ‘archaic’ law

New Internationalist - Mon, 11/12/2018 - 06:43
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Katie McQue exposes the legal loopholes used to discriminate against Caribbean citizens.

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Katie McQue exposes the legal loopholes used to discriminate against Caribbean citizens.

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Categories: D2. Socialism

How the UN unwittingly turned a profit from Israeli settlements

New Internationalist - Fri, 11/09/2018 - 03:36
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In an investigation for New Internationalist, Jack Davies reveals how UN pension funds are reaping returns in violation of international law.

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The United Nations is failing to do proper due diligence on where it puts its money, says Jack Davies.

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Categories: D2. Socialism

How to boycott Saudi Arabia

New Internationalist - Thu, 11/08/2018 - 08:11
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Husna Rizvi speaks to David Wearing, a Gulf-Anglo expert about how Britain could meaningfully withdraw from the Gulf states.

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Husna Rizvi speaks to David Wearing, a Gulf-Anglo expert about how Britain could meaningfully withdraw from the Gulf states.

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Categories: D2. Socialism

Victory then defeat for Pakistan’s persecuted

New Internationalist - Wed, 11/07/2018 - 03:19
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Aasia Bibi has just been acquitted for blasphemy charges. But Imran Khan’s government has now curtailed her human rights. Jahanzeb Hussain asks, ‘Where is the outrage?’

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Last week, Aasia Bibi had her death sentence for blasphemy overturned. But Imran Khan’s government has now curtailed her human rights. Jahanzeb Hussain asks, ‘Where is the outrage?’

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Categories: D2. Socialism

Did Brazil’s evangelicals put Jair Bolsonaro into office?

New Internationalist - Tue, 11/06/2018 - 02:08
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Bolsonaro, whose middle name is ‘Messiah’, was the perfect bait for Christians, says Pamela Machado.

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Bolsonaro, whose middle name is ‘Messiah’, was the perfect bait for Christians, says Pamela Machado.

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Categories: D2. Socialism

Fake news is not just a Western problem

New Internationalist - Mon, 11/05/2018 - 07:03
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Misinformation is rife, but it’s nothing new, writes Nanjala Nyabola.

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Misinformation is rife, but it’s nothing new, writes Nanjala Nyabola.

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Categories: D2. Socialism

The rise and fall of Patrice Lumumba

New Internationalist - Mon, 11/05/2018 - 06:05
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The tragic, heroic story of Congo’s first prime minister. By ILYA.

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Categories: D2. Socialism

¿Cuántas carreteras y aeropuertos más podemos construir mientras el planeta se colapsa?: Vandana Shiva

Systemic Alternatives - Thu, 11/01/2018 - 09:57

[Vandana Shiva/ DESINFORMEMONOS/ 27 de octubre de 2018]

Vanadana Shiva es autora, científica, activista y madre, como se describe en su página electrónica. Se inició en el ambientalismo con el movimiento eco-feminista Chipko, “Abrazadoras de árboles”, que evitaron importantes deforestaciones en Uttar Pradesh a inicios de los setentas. Como física, su especialidad son las variables ocultas de la teoría cuántica. Está involucrada en la defensa de la agricultura campesina en todo el mundo y en la crítica de tecnologías extremas que son fuente de negocio y no resuelven el fondo de los problemas climáticos, de hambre y pobreza. Vino a la Feria Internacional del Libro del Zócalo para dar una conferencia sobre los Derechos de la Tierra.

¿De qué hablamos cuando decimos que no se respetan los derechos de la Madre Tierra?

Hay que entender que los derechos de la Madre Tierra nos son abstractos, porque la Tierra no es abstracta. Es el fundamento de nuestra existencia y somos parte de ella. Las violaciones a los derechos de la Tierra comienzan principalmente al negar que está viva, y se originan con la Revolución Industrial y las revoluciones científicas que simplemente declararon con un plumazo que la naturaleza es una colección de partículas inertes y materias primas para ser explotadas, esa es la primera violación. Una vez que la declararon muerta, comienza a explotarse en formas que destruyen totalmente sus sistemas de reconstitución, renovación y sostenibilidad.

Yo me inicié a principios de los setenta, con el movimiento Chipko, en el que mujeres de mi región salieron a defender los bosques que nos protegen, que nos dan suelo, agua, y aire puro; y era la época en que la llamada “forestería científica” miraba los bosques como minas de tablones para ser extraídos, y las mujeres, que encabezan la subsistencia de los pueblos de los bosques, cambiaron ese paradigma.

En cada uno de los temas en los que he estado involucrada desde entonces el fondo es extraerle a la Tierra la riqueza de tal forma que los ecosistemas quedan destruidos. La sobre-explotación de los bosques deja inundaciones y sequías; la sobre-explotación de la fertilidad trae la desertificación, que es lo que provoca la agricultura industrial; la sobre-explotación de los combustibles fósiles, que la Tierra resguardó en sus entrañas, está destruyendo el ciclo del carbono y del nitrógeno y nos deja con el caos climático.

Así que cada aspecto de la crisis ecológica es resultado de algún tipo de extracción, y es una actitud que no conoce límites, porque hay tal reverencia a las herramientas y a las ganancias que a cualquiera que le demos una herramienta de pronto ya tiene todo el poder para destruir y enriquecerse con ello. En las manos de los poderosos, las herramientas y el desarrollo técnico sirven para destruir. Rompen los suelos, mutilan las comunidades, destruyen todo lo que los pueblos tienen, y eso hace que las violaciones a la Tierra se conviertan en violaciones a los derechos de la gente. No es casual que la mayoría de los asesinatos de activistas en el último año sean de defensores de la Tierra y los territorios. Esos activistas son vistos como una enorme amenaza al imperio económico basado en la explotación sin límites de la naturaleza, explotación que requiere destruir al mismo tiempo los derechos de la gente.

¿Cómo se utilizan las tecnologías extremas para agredir a la Tierra y a los pueblos, como en el caso de las manipulaciones del clima o los cultivos transgénicos?

Tanto las manipulaciones del clima, —lo que llamamos geoingeniería— como la ingeniería genética extrema, que manipula el genoma de las especies, vienen de una actitud arrogante. Quienes las desarrollan se sienten amos de la Tierra, que tienen todo bajo control, pese a que cada ejemplo previo de esta ciencia arrogante no ha dado los resultados que se esperaban: la Revolución Verde no funcionó, dejó a mi país en la ruina; los transgénicos, en vez de controlar las plagas, han creado súper malezas y súper pestes. La supuesta efectividad de estas tecnologías ha resultado en su contrario, de modo que con la edición genómica y las manipulaciones de geoingeniería no solo habrá fallas sino que sobrevendrán nuevos problemas. Hay científicos que ya reconocen que por cada manipulación en el nivel del genoma hay unos mil quinientos efectos no buscados.

Por años fui atacada por Monsanto, por denunciar lo que le hizo el algodón transgénico a mi país, India, incluyendo los suicidios en el cinturón algodonero. La variedad de algodón transgénico “BT”, junto con el cobro ilegal de regalías, las imprecisiones tecnológicas, la información falsa dada a los agricultores acerca de las condiciones necesarias para que el cultivo funcionara; todo el paquete de mentiras puso a los agricultores en crisis, y la crisis se forjó en torno a las mentiras sobre un cultivo “científico”, el algodón BT.

Fui atacada por mi lado activista, pero ahora hay científicos que están demostrando que la edición genómica y su nuevo producto, los impulsores genéticos,1 no son predecibles, que la ciencia que los sustenta no es definitiva y que tienen altísimos riesgos. ¿Quién está haciendo estas críticas? científicos puros, y también están siendo atacados.

El primer informe público sobre los impulsores genéticos fue de la DARPA, la Agencia de Proyectos de Investigación Avanzados de Defensa, del ejército de Estados Unidos, que se dedica a desarrollar tecnologías para usos hostiles. Así que no estamos solamente ante una actitud reduccionista de la ciencia y la tecnología, sino ante una actitud militar. Es la misma mentalidad de exterminio que creó las armas de guerra química que luego se transformarían en insumos para la agricultura industrial. De cierta forma estamos regresando a los campos de concentración de Hitler, donde se programaba el exterminio. El informe de la DARPA plantea usar impulsores genéticos para terminar con el amaranto, considerado una maleza en los monocultivos de maíz de Estados Unidos.

Ahora, cuando hablamos de geoingeniería, tenemos que pensar de qué se trata el cambio climático. Es la alteración de los sistemas climáticos resultado de una contaminación extrema. ¿Qué hace la geoingeniería? Seguir el mismo camino de ignorancia, actuar sin conocer la complejidad de los sistemas planetarios, y pensar que se puede provocar un enfriamiento con aerosoles en los cielos, o vertiendo hierro en los océanos, especulando que la flora marina atrapará la contaminación y la arrastrará al fondo del mar; o los intentos inverosímiles por rebotar la luz del sol de vuelta a la estratósfera.

Hay varias razones por las que esto es un equívoco. No se reconoce la fragilidad en que se encuentran los complejos sistemas de la Tierra. El cambio climático se debe a la industria de los combustibles fósiles y a la industria agroquímica, (una cantidad enorme de los gases con efecto de invernadero están relacionados con la agricultura industrial), y en este contexto, elegir conscientemente el camino de incidir en los sistemas planetarios no es buena ciencia, es llana irresponsabilidad. La geoingeniería se trata de violentar sistemas que tendrán impactos en otros sistemas vitales, sin forma alguna de controlar las consecuencias o de señalar responsables, y eso en sí mismo es una violación a los derechos de la Tierra y los derechos humanos. Que se hayan desarrollado tecnologías que pueden salirse de control no significa que no podamos asignarle responsabilidad a quienes lo hicieron.

Por siglos nos han dicho que los campesinos y los pueblos indígenas desaparecerán. Sin embargo, hay procesos de recampesinización, de retorno a la tierra y lucha por derechos indígenas que contradicen todas las predicciones. ¿Cómo lo ves en el mundo?

Hay una disputa entre dos visiones del mundo: de un lado, la de los millonarios, las corporaciones, que aseguran que el futuro de la agricultura será sin campesinos. Tractores sin conductor, drones que supervisan, nuevas semillas transgénicas, a las que podrán agregarse cantidades cada vez mayores de “aditivos” (herbicidas, plaguicidas, fertilizantes); o lo que se conoce como agricultura digital. Estas son las visiones de quienes condujeron y se beneficiaron con la Revolución Verde. Básicamente, la Revolución Verde se inventó para vender agrotóxicos. Los cultivos se volvieron los cargadores de los agrotóxicos, fueron el pretexto para la venta de fertilizantes y más. En India intentaron venderlos sin semillas para pero no pudieron, entonces se pusieron a inventar las semillas híbridas que aguantaran dosis más grandes de herbicidas y plaguicidas, lo que llamo el “coctel de veneno” en el libro La violencia de la Revolución Verde. Este coctel de veneno condujo directamente a la segunda Revolución Verde, la de los cultivos transgénicos, y con esa misma lógica se está construyendo la visión de una agricultura sin campesinos. Y sus patrones esperan que el mundo se cruce de manos y lo acepte.

En el otro lado, somos testigos de una profunda conciencia de que necesitamos más gente en los territorios. Necesitamos un regreso a la tierra. En 1993, antes de la firma del GATT, organizamos una gran movilización internacional campesina en Brasil, un océano 500 mil campesinos, y con varios compañeros tuvimos una discusión fascinante sobre porqué al poder le preocupan los campesinos. Y dijimos, porque las comunidades campesinas resuelven su existencia independientemente, tal vez sean los últimos que hagan eso, en su labor con la tierra. Todos los demás tienen que vender o comprar algo para obtener algo. Los campesinos, si no han sido arrinconados por la agricultura industrial, son independientes, y el poder tiene miedo de esa libertad.

En India hasta hace poco teníamos el 70% de población en la tierra, a pesar de que gobierno tras gobierno han insistido en que debemos ser como Estados Unidos, con únicamente el 2% de la gente en el campo. El punto es que no hay lugar para ir, están aún en el campo, aunque la agricultura es cada vez menos viable por las perversiones de la economía globalizada. En Navdanya, nuestra organización, hay cada vez más personas que llegan de trabajos bien pagados, gente que viene de los bancos, de la industria, o la academia; quieren aprender a sembrar, así que no se trata solamente de que los campesinos han persistido a lo largo del tiempo, sino que cada vez hay más gente que quiere campesinizarse. Sabemos con certeza que en Europa y Norteamérica el creciente movimiento de agricultura orgánica lo encabezan mujeres que no eran campesinas, que han decidido que cuidar la Tierra y producir buena comida es el papel más importante que pueden tener en sus vidas.

Los campesinos que luchan contra el nuevo aeropuerto en México estuvieron aquí conmigo en la Feria del libro. Trini me regaló un pañuelo. La vez anterior que visité México ellos me llevaron a sus tierras. Y como física tengo una pregunta muy simple: ¿cuántas carreteras y aeropuertos más podemos construir, cuántos autos y camiones más vamos a poner en esas carreteras, cuántos aviones más pueden volar, mientras el planeta se colapsa por la contaminación de los motores? Y una de las absurdas soluciones que proponen para resolver esto es convertir los cultivos en combustibles, para alimentar a los motores de una manera “verde”, entonces ¿cuánta más hambre se creará? Creo que es extremadamente importante en este momento en que la humanidad está al filo del precipicio no seguir el camino que lleva a que los ricos sean más ricos. La velocidad ha servido para alienar a la gente. Quienes pueden, corren de aquí para allá, vuelan, buscando algo que pueden tener en sus hogares: una vida buena cuidando la Tierra y sus comunidades, volviéndose creativos.

Entre más se mida el desarrollo de una sociedad por el dinero y la velocidad, más profunda será la soledad interior. Tenemos que cuestionar esta condición humana que clama por más vuelos y más aeropuertos, porque la Tierra tiene límites (no hay nada como el crecimiento ilimitado, siempre ocurre a expensas de alguien más) y este crecimiento no está beneficiando ni siquiera a quienes usan los aviones. Yo nací en Dehra Dun, en un valle a orillas del Ganges, y absurdamente, ahora hay 12 vuelos diarios para quienes visitan los campos de meditación y yoga. Es urgente que evaluemos en qué punto nos encontramos como humanidad y como ciudadanos de la Tierra, y no usar medidas externas para saber quiénes somos.

1 Impulsor genético se llama a una nueva herramienta de manipulación del genoma que puede usarse para engañar las leyes de la herencia e imponer un rasgo negativo a toda la descendencia de una especie. Con impulsores genéticos, es posible “programar” la extinción de toda una población o especie. Ver Los impulsores genéticos y el fin de la naturaleza: http://www.etcgroup.org/es/content/impulsos-temerarios-los-impulsores-geneticos-y-el-fin-de-la-naturaleza

Categories: D2. Socialism

La irresistible atracción del macho alfa

Systemic Alternatives - Thu, 11/01/2018 - 07:43
[Raúl Zibechi/LA JORNADA/26 de Octubre de 2018] Las elecciones brasileñas muestran una enorme diferencia de comportamientos entre varones y mujeres, tan amplia y profunda como pocas veces se registra en nuestras sociedades. Según la primera encuesta de Datafolha luego de la primera vuelta, existe un empate técnico entre las preferencias femeninas: 42 por ciento apoyaban a Jair Bolsonaro y 39 por ciento a Fernando Haddad, cuando el primero tiene casi 20 puntos de diferencia (goo.gl/B769dj).

Las preferencias masculinas se vuelcan en 57 por ciento por el candidato de la extrema derecha y sólo 33 por ciento por Haddad. La diferencia es tan grande que merece alguna explicación. Bolsonaro es un personaje machista, militarista y racista, que nunca ocultó sus opiniones y hasta se jacta de ellas, de modo que quienes lo apoyan es porque simpatizan con sus ideas y actitudes. Lo que debemos explicarnos entonces son las razones por las cuales la mayoría de la población brasileña se siente atraída por él.

La primera es la profunda crisis, tanto económica como social, con un aumento importante de la violencia. En 2017 se produjeron casi 64 mil muertes violentas, una cifra que aumenta de modo exponencial: al comienzo del periodo neoliberal en 1990 eran 14 mil y en 2002, cuando Lula ganó las elecciones, eran 49 mil personas muertes cada año (goo.gl/82jd9i). La violencia no deja de crecer y se ha llevado medio millón de personas en la reciente década.

Un aspecto central de la crisis es la disolución de los vínculos sociales y comunitarios. Mucho antes de la centralidad que adquirió Bolsonaro, las grandes ciudades se habían convertido en espacios de violencia desbordada. La principal diferencia desde 2013, es que ahora la violencia arraigó también en los barrios de clase media, cuando históricamente estuvo focalizada en las favelas y periferias urbanas, donde la sociedad más desigual del mundo descerrajaba sus armas contra la población negra.

La segunda es el clima de inseguridad imperante. Por curioso que parezca, en los barrios populares las cosas han cambiado poco. En la noche, en la Maré, la mayor favela de Brasil en Río de Janeiro, la gente continúa haciendo su vida en calles que siempre están atestadas. En los barrios nobles (así le llaman en este país a la ciudad formal), las calles están desiertas y los pocos peatones deambulan como fantasmas apurando el paso.

La inseguridad es cosa de clase media, ya que los más pobres nunca vivieron otra realidad que el temor a la Policía Militar y a sus aliados: políticos conservadores, traficantes y, más recientemente, iglesias pentecostales y evangélicas que persiguen con saña las religiones afro.

Son los miedos de las clases medias los que se vuelven noticias, sus paranoias ganan titulares y sus barrios se llenan de guardias privados, cuando pueden pagarlos. Con la crisis un sector muy amplio de las clases medias teme, además, perder el empleo y el estatus económico y social. En este punto, Bolsonaro promete acabar con la inseguridad, se ofrece como el gran protector, liberando el gatillo contra los pequeños delincuentes y prometiendo castración química a los violadores. Todo parece tan fácil que resulta poco creíble.

La tercera cuestión es que el macho alfa, en sus variantes duras o blandas, es el estereotipo conocido, tanto a derecha como a izquierda. Salvo el pequeño sector de universitarios exitosos, el resto de la población sigue creyendo en la mano dura y el hombre fuerte que la practique, desde la familia y el barrio hasta las instituciones estatales. Por algo las fuerzas armadas gozan de tan buena reputación, al punto que toda la campaña de Bolsonaro gira en torno a militares que no rechazan ni la tortura ni las soluciones represivas.

La cuarta cuestión se relaciona con el campo emancipatorio. Los partidos y movimientos, incluso los varones que nos decimos antipatriarcales, no hemos trabajado otros modelos masculinos diferentes a los que nos ofrece el sistema. Nuestra izquierda sigue apostando en caudillos, algo que parecía hasta cierto punto entendible hasta la revolución mundial de 1968.

Hemos hablado de leninismo, de peronismo y de castrismo. Ahora seguimos por el mismo camino: chavismo, lulismo y todos los ismos imaginables vinculados siempre a un caudillo que, naturalmente, remite al patriarcado. Somos tan grotescos que incluso cuando un movimiento cubre las caras de sus portavoces y los denomina subcomandantes para que se entienda que obedecen a las comunidades, incluso en este caso, los analistas creen que son Galeano y Moisés los que mandan.

Nuestra cultura política no deja de producir machos alfa. Vladimir Putin y Xi Jinping provocan suspiros de amor revolucionario entre no pocos intelectuales que, en tanto, se horrorizan cuando el macho resulta de signo contrario a sus ideologías.

Finalmente, creo que no debe confundirse la figura del guerrero/guerrera, necesaria para defendernos, con el macho alfa. Éste se manda solo y hace lo que su testosterona le indica. El guerrero obedece a su pueblo.

Categories: D2. Socialism

The buck stops here: ‘mass civil disobedience is the only way to reverse climate breakdown’

New Internationalist - Thu, 11/01/2018 - 04:06
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Husna Rizvi witnesses the launch of a bold environmentalist campaign: Extinction Rebellion.

Climate breakdownclimate changedirect actionprotestBritainParis agreementClimate breakdownClimate changedirect actionProtestBritainParis agreementContributor: Husna RizviAppears on front pageThumbnail image: Deck/standfirst: 

A new resistance movement is forming. Husna Rizvi speaks to Extinction Rebellion about why direct action is our last chance to phase-out carbon.

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Categories: D2. Socialism

4 songs for black liberation

New Internationalist - Tue, 10/30/2018 - 12:28
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Chanté Griffin offers up a short playlist of revolutionary melodies.

Black History Monthcivil rights movementapartheidBlack History MonthCivil Rights MovementApartheidContributor: Chanté GriffinAppears on front pageThumbnail image: Deck/standfirst: 

As Black History month draws to a close, Chanté Griffin celebrates the emancipatory power of music.

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Categories: D2. Socialism

Brazil: Can the Workers’ Party surmount its current crisis?

Systemic Alternatives - Tue, 10/30/2018 - 09:27
Walden Bello & Cecilia Lero, 04 November 2015, Published at Rappler The 13-year-reign of the Workers’ Party (PT) in Brazil hangs by a thread. More accurately, it hangs on 342 members of the lower legislative house, the number of votes needed to accept any one of a seemingly constant stream of impeachment requests, and begin the trial of President Dilma Rousseff.An impeachment trial would immediately suspend President Rousseff and place Vice President Michel Temer of the catchall, non-ideological Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) in power. As the PMDB also has the most members in the Senate, where the impeachment trial would take place, this would also almost certainly lead to a guilty verdict and the end of the PT in power.

Once the pride of the New Left in Latin America, the PT administration is buffeted by the worst economic crisis to hit Brazil since the country’s redemocratization in 1985, charges of abetting corruption at Petrobras, the state petroleum company, falsifying its electoral spending reports, and going back on its electoral campaign pledges by imposing austerity measures.

In 2010, President Inácio “Lula” da Silva left office with an 83 percent approval rating, something unprecedented in Brazilian history for a departing head of state. Today, his approval rating is down to 25 percent. Dilma, his successor, won her second presidential mandate in October 2014 with 52 percent of the vote. Just a year later, her approval rating is down to 7 percent.

“She dare not show herself in public,” said one irate cab driver, who remarked that the “PT government has shown itself to be as rotten as the rest.” Another said loss of income over the last few years had forced him to move his family from “adequate housing to a cramped apartment” owing to cuts in his income. These feelings are widespread.

Demonstrations involving thousands have backed the opposition’s call for her impeachment, with a fringe but vocal element calling for a return to military rule. PT partisans and the broader Left are not so much worried about these rallies mounted by what they consider an angry, but unorganized public. What really concerns them is the relatively much smaller numbers that have attended counter-demonstrations against what they are calling an anti-democratic coup.

Not surprisingly, members and allies of the party are asking themselves: What happened to us? PT programs lifted more than 30 percent of the people out of poverty and 40 percent into the middle class. Don’t people realize this? Why aren’t they grateful? “The PT rose to power as a party known for our militant stance against corruption,” said Gonzalo Berron, a civil society activist and PT supporter: “Now we’re made to look as if we invented corruption.”

The PT’s ‘Heroic Age’

The PT was formally established in 1980, as a discredited military dictatorship withdrew from the political scene and social movement actors sought a vehicle to ensure that democracy would address the concerns and interests of the working class.

In its beginnings, the PT was organically linked to the “New Unionism” that developed in the industrial belt of greater São Paulo. According to Emir Sader’s classic analysis, the party was a dynamic new force produced by the creative confluence of three streams: trade unionists independent of both the union networks of the old left and yellow union bureaucrats that emerged in the newer industries spawned by Brazil’s rapid industrialization in the sixties and seventies whose key figure was the charismatic Lula da Silva; the progressive wing of Catholic clergy and laity inspired by “Liberation Theology;” and the new left with its reinvigorated Marxism and enthusiastic young cadres.

By the mid-1980s, the PT, the New Unionists now organized into the Unified Workers’ Central (CUT), and the Landless Workers Movement (MST) were among the largest and best-known social forces pushing for the expansion of democratic space and a vision of a socialist Brazil.

Unlike the vanguardist and dogmatic old left parties, the PT was ideologically pluralistic and internal democracy and vigorous debate were seen as sources of strength. The establishment of a mass-based, internally democratic party in a system dominated by patronage and weak, personalistic political parties was heralded by academics and leftist observers as a game-changer for Brazil.

The PT’s pluralism was also key to its growth and electoral appeal. In the 1980s and 1990s, the allure of the PT’s open discourse, and the recent sting of dictatorship, reached beyond the working classes to attract middle forces.

Dynamic and ambitious, the PT sought nothing less than the presidency, which it managed to win in 2002 after four attempts. Lula’s 2002 presidential campaign caught international attention for how different it was from his first run. Whereas 1989 Lula was an outspoken t-shirt-wearing unionist, the 2002 Lula featured a trimmed beard, tailored suits, and noticeably more centrist discourse. Nevertheless, the infrastructure for the national effort was laid by the PT’s success winning and administering cities and states. Thus, even before it came to power at the national level, the PT had already made its mark as a party against corruption at the local level and with innovative policies, like the participatory budgeting that was successfully institutionalized in the city of Porto Alegre.

To Latin America, Lula and the PT were an example of “Gramscian politics,” of a way to power that combined gaining electoral dominance with a hegemonic discourse of social transformation that was meant to appeal to all social groups except Big Capital.

Indeed, the PT became the leading force of the Sao Paulo Forum, a continent-wide grouping that proposed the vision of a popular, egalitarian democracy as an alternative to neoliberalism. The Sao Paulo Declaration of 1990 confirmed the intent of the 46 parties that signed on to it to expose “the “nonexistent positive aspects of liberalism and capitalism” and “to renew the concept of the left and socialism, to reassert its emancipatory character, to correct erroneous conceptions, to overcome all manifestations of bureaucracy and to counteract the total absence of real social democracy for the masses.”

Social movements allied to the PT were also prominent in the international anti-globalization movement that took off in the 1990’s and were the central actors in the founding of the World Social Forum, which, among other things, became a vehicle for the popularization internationally of such PT and CUT-connected innovations like social movement unionism and participatory budgeting.

From class crusader to ruling party

The transition from a class crusader to a conventional electoral party was difficult enough, but the internal organizational challenge to the PT was magnified when Lula became president in 2002 and the PT became the ruling party.

The PT quickly learned that campaigning on a platform of anti-corruption and social justice was much easier than running a government with those goals. Brazil’s electoral system encourages the proliferation of multiple, weak parties. Although it was the top performer in both Legislative Houses following the 2002 elections, the PT held only 17 and 18 percent of the upper and lower houses, respectively.

PT operators promptly got the party in trouble in their attempts to bribe non-PT members of the Brazilian Congress to allow the passage of PT legislation benefiting the poor and marginalized. Though Lula was not accused of having a hand in the bribery, this scandal at the beginning of his term might be said to mark the beginning of the erosion of the PT’s image as a clean party. In later years, the PT accepted corruption-tainted candidates in order to try to maintain its numbers in the legislature.

Brazil’s mainstream media has also been a major contributor to the erosion of the party’s clean image. Brazilian media is an effective monopoly, with the Globo network reaching 99.5% market saturation. Globo has been widely criticized for its biased coverage against the PT, including exaggerating coverage of corruption allegations when PT members are involved and editing scandal and corruption coverage to imply the involvement of PT personalities without directly accusing them.

Perhaps most tragic, though, has been the deterioration of grassroots organization, on behalf of both the PT and allied social movements. Starting around 2005, the PT stopped organizing núcleos de base, the basic units of party organization. Iole Iliada, the PT’s Secretary for International Relations, considers this a major setback to party life, owing to the virtual elimination of the ideological and political debate that once took place in the núcleos, as well as the disappearance of the vision of a bottom-up, participatory party.

Social movements also slowed their organizing following Lula’s election. Various activists, from labor unions to urban housing and service movements, admitted that many movements lost their vigor, adopting instead a “wait and see” attitude. As João Stedile, a leader of the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) said in a 2007 interview, “We thought that a simple electoral victory would give a shock to the masses…We thought this was it, the time had come! And it hadn’t. It was really frustrating…This is the greatest challenge that we face today: we’re waiting around, seeing if the government will do this or that instead of just acting on our own.”

Squaring the circle

The Lula years from 2002 to 2010 exhibited a decrease in inequality (from a GINI coefficient of 0.59 in 2001 to 0.53 in 2012), income growth for low-wage earners (between 2001 and 2012, the income of the 5% poorest grew 550% faster than the 5% richest), as well as increased spending on education and health by the federal government (13% of GDP in 2003 to over 16% in 2011). But, these years were a far cry from breaking the hold of the ruling class over political and economic life.

Rather, the Lula years were marked by the implementation of orthodox foreign investment, trade, fiscal, monetary policies, indeed so orthodox that the neoliberal periodical Economist toasted Lula’s policies as providing a model for other big “emerging markets.”

Those years were also marked by declining poverty, despite the absence of the redistributive measures that both business and labor had expected the PT to put into effect. So how did Lula square the circle? In a long, illuminating article in the London Review of Books, the leading Marxist analyst Perry Anderson says that Lula’s innovation was to combine conservative macroeconomic policy and foreign-investment-friendly policies with an anti-poverty program, the Bolsa de Familia, that cost relatively little in terms of government outlays but produced socially and politically significant impacts. Bolsa, a program of cash transfers conditioned on parents keeping the family children in school and subjecting them to periodic health checkups, by some estimates, contributed to the reduction in the number of poor people from 50 million to 30 million — and made Lula one of the few contemporary political leaders who was more popular at the end of his reign rather than at the beginning.

One other factor was decisive: the expanding global economy. The first decade of the 20th century was marked by a rapid expansion of trade that benefited large emerging markets like Brazil, which grew by an average of five percent per annum between 2000 and 2012. Rapid growth meant that even with minimal redistributive policies, people’s incomes increased. Lula had the good fortune of being president at a time of a global commodities boom which also provided the resources that allowed Brazil to weather and then delay effects of the 2008 financial crisis.

Along with China, India, Russia, and South Africa, Brazil became part of the so-called BRICS, a group of big emerging markets that became key drivers of the world economy. The PT government’s representatives played a key role in advancing the BRICS as well as other developing countries’ agenda in the World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, and the United Nations.

Unfortunately, this sense of playing an historic role in the world stage also translated into a bread-and-circuses complex that led the Lula government to bid, successfully, to host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. The consequences of these decisions would come to roost during Dilma’s presidency, when the actual events would take place.

From triumph to crisis

While there were protests throughout the first ten years of the PT’s reign, the first really massive protests exploded in the run-up to the World Cup.

These were triggered by the displacement of urban poor communities by construction activities, the popular perception of corruption surrounding some construction deals, and the sense that the focus on the World Cup was leading to government neglect of transportation and other essential public services. These were not partisan political protests, says Iole Iliada, “but the Right noted that there was dissatisfaction with the government and that they might also be able to mobilize people by riding on the issue of corruption.”

The abandonment of basic organizing by both the PT and leftist social movements left a vacuum that steadily came to be occupied by Rightist forces. The rise of evangelical churches (61% between 2000 and 2010 according to IBGE) and the exercise of their political muscle (Evangelical legislators, who belong to different parties, doubled in the 2010 election and rose by another 30 percent in the 2014 election to comprise about 18 percent of the current lower House) has come with a resurgence of conservative social values that directly contend with the progressive identity politics of the PT and social movement militants. Rightist and opportunistic parties such as the Social Democratic Party of Brazil (PSDB) and the PMDB and the have taken advantage of the social frustration fomented by these churches, as well as their grassroots organization, to rally discontent with PT rule.

While tension has been building since Brazil’s economy began shrinking in 2011, a major opportunity for the Right came in 2014, when the Petrobras scandal broke out. Over 50 members of Congress and the Workers’ Party were implicated in a massive $3.7 billion kickback scandal, one of them being the national treasurer of the Workers’ Party. While Dilma has not been directly implicated in the affair, she was, in fact, head of the Ministry of Energy that oversaw Petrobras at the time of the kickbacks.

If corruption brought the middle class into the streets, Dilma’s shockingly quick turnaround from the pro-social services, pro-employment program she aggressively pushed in the last month of the hotly contested elections of October 2014 dampened support for the PT among the organized working class that has long served as the base of the party.

Expectations that keeping unemployment low, focusing on growth, and maintaining social programs benefiting the poor would be her priorities were punctured by her raising interest rates just three days after the elections and her appointment of Joaquim Levy, an aggressive fiscal conservative popularly known as “Mr. Scissorhands,” as finance minister. Also, the rural lower classes were affronted by the appointment as minister of agriculture of Katia Abreu, a senator known as a fierce defender of landowning interests who had displayed such disregard for the environment that she received Greenpeace’s “Golden Chainsaw” award.

The appointments of “Mr. Scissorhands” and “Mrs. Chainsaw” were seen as a strong indication that Dilma endorsed the neoliberal view that the way out of Brazil’s current recession lay in a strategy of cutting government costs while intensifying Brazil’s export drive, particularly of large agricultural products like soybeans and sugarcane. It is important to note that neither these appointments, nor the government’s fiscal austerity program, were decided in consultation with the PT membership.

One cannot avoid speculating, however, that if international commodity prices had not lurched into crisis, Dilma would not be in the pickle she is in today. Lula, in many ways, surfed on the wave of a growing global economy that benefited Brazilian exports, particularly soya exports to the burgeoning Chinese market. With the financial implosion of 2008, Brazilian exports to the US and Europe fell, but it seemed like the domestic economy would suffer nothing but a hiccup, especially since the Lula government put into motion a strong Keynesian spending program. By 2011, however, the global recession caught up with Brazil, with the economy growing by only 1.3 per cent over the last four years compared to 4-5 per cent during the Lula period. This year Brazil is in recession while inflation has reached a 12-year high.

One of the key beneficiaries of capitalist globalization over the last three decades, Brazil has now become a prime victim as the downside of that process – global contraction and long-term stagnation – has taken hold.

With massive opposition-inspired protests, the Dilma administration’s survival depends greatly on the moves of its supposed allies in the non-ideological PMDB. Wooed by the opposition PSDB to support its initiative to impeach the president, the PMDB, opportunistic as usual, is weighing whether to stick with Dilma in return for more positions or join the impeachment drive, which might have an even bigger payoff. Two things are giving it pause.

The first is that although the PMDB President of the Lower House, Eduardo Cunha, has openly split with the government and portrays himself as Dilma’s “archenemy,” he himself is politically vulnerable. In addition to being implicated in the Petrobras scandal, Cunha is currently facing money laundering charges by both Brazilian and Swiss government prosecutors in relation to several bank accounts discovered by the Swiss government and previously undisclosed to the Brazilian government. The Brazilian Attorney General alleges that the at least US$16 million Cunha had in the Swiss accounts was derived from bribes and partially laundered through an evangelical megachurch before ending up in Switzerland. Pushing for Dilma’s impeachment, Cunha fears, might provoke a fierce PT response that could threaten his own position.

The second is that the pro-impeachment lobby can’t make up its mind on whether to push for impeachment now or postpone it till later in Dilma’s administration. The rationale for the second strategy, which might be called dealing Dilma a “death by a thousand cuts,” is to get the PT government to make more social cuts and take the flak for them, with the strategic aim of discrediting Lula, who is expected to run again for president in 2018 and whose charisma cannot be underestimated.

PT militants fight back

Though much delayed, PT militants and leftist social movements are beginning to fight back.

A study, For a Just and Democratic Brazil, put out by the party’s Perseu Abramo Foundation, based on consultations with over 100 economists and other analysts, lays the blame for the economic crisis principally on the international crisis rather than wrong policies, as alleged by the Right.

Since it was based on the wrong diagnosis, the adjustment program pushed by the government and personified in Levy has merely worsened the situation, “reducing aggregate demand, blocking growth and incurring social costs.” The document claims that half a year into the second Dilma term, the fiscal retrenchment strategy has raised unemployment to 7.5 per cent in July, compared to 4.9 per cent a year earlier, a drop that represents the loss of nearly 500,000 formal sector jobs. In May alone, the PT study claims, average real income fell by five per cent.

In place of the fiscal retrenchment program, the document lays out in great detail a strategy of maintaining or increasing the levels of public investment to trigger increasing income economic growth, reducing interest payments, tax reform, revision of fiscal incentives, and combating tax evasion. The avowed aim of these measures is to preserve the PT legacy of social inclusion that is now under threat from the neoliberals.

What impact the alternative program will have remains to be seen. But the consensus among party members and sympathizers we talked to is that the problems of the PT government go much deeper and will require more fundamental solutions.

Back to the past?

Some of the more thoughtful progressive critics trace the problem to the erosion in internal party discourse and bottom-up participation, combined with the collapse of grassroots recruiting and organizing on behalf of both the PT and leftist social movements.

When the party gained power and, in some places, prioritized winning seats over the quality of candidates over the last 15 years, party cadres got absorbed into government, party life ossified, if not disappeared, and ideological debates on key issues were overshadowed by pragmatic adjustment to capitalism as a reformist force.

For some, regaining the party’s early identity and vigor as an anti-capitalist force linked to an insurgent labor movement and a dynamic civil society is the real answer to the PT’s troubles. In order to do this, the party faces the puzzling predicament of shaping a new generation of anti-establishment militants when it has been the face of the state for over a decade.

The question is, are the forces of renewal within the party strong enough to push the party back to its roots in its heroic era?

Cecilia Lero and Telesur columnist and TNI Associate Walden Bello, both belonging to the Philippine political party Akbayan, recently visited Brazil as guests of several civil society organizations and universities.

Categories: D2. Socialism

Remembering Una Marson: black feminist pioneer

New Internationalist - Tue, 10/30/2018 - 07:00
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Aditya Iyer looks at the legacy of black feminist poet, Una Marson.

Black History MonthJamaicaBlack FeminismwindrushBlack History MonthJamaicaBlack FeminismwindrushContributor: Aditya IyerAppears on front pageThumbnail image: Deck/standfirst: 

The Jamaican poet, editor and journalist added a vital feminist perspective to the male-dominated black internationalist movement. This Black History Month, Aditya Iyer looks at her legacy.

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Categories: D2. Socialism

Taxe « Gafa » européenne : vraie avancée ou cadeau empoisonné ?

Systemic Alternatives - Fri, 10/26/2018 - 07:15

Dans une tribune au Figaro et devant deux commissions parlementaires de l’Union européenne, Bruno Le Maire a plaidé, ce mardi 23 octobre, pour l’instauration d’une « taxe sur les géants du numérique ». Décryptage par Attac France, Anticor et Solidaires Finances Publiques.

Le constat ne souffre aucun débat : les systèmes fiscaux existants sont dépassés par la numérisation de l’économie. L’impôt sur les sociétés est largement contourné car il ne prend pas en compte la dimension numérique. Ceci laisse donc le champ libre à certaines entreprises d’exercer leur activité dans un pays en étant installées dans un autre pays, de préférence « à fiscalité privilégiée ».

Selon le cadre fiscal actuel, une société dont le siège est hors de France est imposable à l’impôt sur les sociétés en France lorsqu’elle y dispose d’un établissement stable, c’est-à-dire lorsque cette entreprise exploite en France un « établissement », y réalise des opérations par l’intermédiaire de représentants n’ayant pas de personnalité professionnelle indépendante, ou encore lorsque les opérations effectuées en France y forment ce que l’on nomme un cycle commercial complet. Si cette approche, qui est celle des textes standards internationaux, paraît logique, elle ne correspond plus aux activités économiques structurées par le numérique car leur localisation est difficile à établir, n’étant pas celle des activités traditionnelles.

Le contournement fiscal des grandes firmes numériques (les « GAFA ») a été chiffré : selon des estimations de la Commission européenne, leur niveau d’imposition ne représente en moyenne que 8,5 % à 10,1 % de leurs profits dans l’Union européenne, alors qu’il atteint entre 20,9 % et 23,2 % pour les sociétés dites « classiques ».

Dans un contexte où les affaires d’évitement de l’impôt, par voie d’optimisation agressive et/ou de fraude, se multiplient et choquent légitimement des opinions soumises à la rigueur budgétaire, la question de l’adaptation de la législation fiscale au numérique est posée. Elle n’est pas seulement politique, elle est de fait géopolitique : de longue date, les grandes firmes américaines ont largement bénéficié de l’inadaptation des règles et de la complicité de certains États pour conquérir les marchés européens, capter des richesses, les transférer dans des paradis fiscaux et, finalement, les rapatrier aux États-Unis avec la bénédiction de Donald Trump.

Initialement demandé par quelques États dont la France, le projet de taxation de ces entreprises au chiffre d’affaires annuel supérieur à 750 millions d’euros au niveau mondial et 50 millions d’euros au sein de l’Union européenne est désormais porté par la Commission européenne qui veut envoyer un signal politique aux citoyens… et aux Américains.

Concrètement, il s’agit d’imposer leur chiffre d’affaires au taux de 3 %, pour un rendement estimé à 5 milliards d’euros. Pour éviter une potentielle double imposition, cette taxe, additionnée à l’impôt sur les sociétés, ne pourra excéder l’impôt sur les sociétés (IS) normalement dû. Enfin, cette taxe devrait être « temporaire » dans l’attente d’une éventuelle harmonisation de l’IS avec l’assiette commune consolidée (ACCIS). Entre 120 et 150 entreprises seraient concernées pour une application éventuelle de cette taxe en 2020.

Cette taxe ressemble davantage à un « coup politique » du gouvernement français, qui a porté ce projet, qu’à une réforme fiscale, car elle pose plusieurs problèmes.

> Tout d’abord, son articulation avec l’IS la rendra moins efficace et rentable qu’annoncé.

> Elle complique les discussions sur une éventuelle harmonisation de l’IS au niveau européen, au risque de retarder son application.

> En outre, elle ne vise que quelques dizaines d’entreprises sans répondre de manière structurelle et durable au défi posé par la numérisation de l’économie.

> Enfin, elle focalise le débat sur un point certes important de l’évitement de l’impôt, mais néglige, voire oublie les autres formes de contournement de l’impôt (utilisations légales ou abusives des régimes préférentiels, prix de transfert etc.).

La taxation unitaire : seule solution globale et efficace

La méthode la plus classique de contournement de l’impôt consiste à créer une filiale dans un pays à la fiscalité très avantageuse, et d’y détourner artificiellement les profits réalisés là où l’entreprise réalise son activité via les prix de transferts. Comme ces prix concernent l’utilisation d’actifs immatériels qui ne sont pas vendus sur un marché concurrentiel, leur calcul est difficilement contestable, et les gros groupes internationaux en profitent [1]. Cela est d’autant plus aisé que les autorités des États ne sont pas regardantes sur les méthodes utilisées, ou sur l’origine des fonds.

Une solution pour lutter contre ces formes d’évasion fiscale consiste à considérer une entreprise comme une unité unique, et non une somme d’entités juridiques séparées. Les impôts auront pour base de calcul l’entreprise dans son ensemble. On parlera alors de « taxation unitaire ».

Plus précisément, on va utiliser trois indicateurs qui permettront de connaître l’activité réelle d’une entreprise dans un pays donné, rapportée au total de l’entreprise :

> un indicateur d’activité réelle (par exemple le nombre d’employés, ou les salaires versés),

> un indicateur des immobilisations matérielles (machines, locaux, etc.) qui ne tiendra pas compte des droits de propriété et brevets, qui sont aisément délocalisables,

> un indicateur de l’activité commerciale (par exemple le chiffre d’affaires).

L’objectif est simple : donner une image fidèle de la présence réelle d’une entreprise sur un territoire donné.

La taxation unitaire reste bien plus facile à mettre en place que l’ensemble des propositions qui ont été explorées. Elle répond notamment particulièrement bien à la problématique des prix de transfert, puisque ceux-ci seraient neutres dans le calcul de l’impôt. En outre, elle aurait l’avantage de diminuer considérablement le rôle des paradis fiscaux.

Cette méthode peut être appliquée par un seul pays, mais aurait beaucoup plus de sens si elle était appliquée par l’ensemble des pays du monde, a minima par les pays de l’Union européenne.

Categories: D2. Socialism

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