CORANA VIRUS PANDEMIC – 25

In ‘CORANA VIRUS PANDEMIC 24’ in July on this blog, it was suggested that ending the Covid-19 lock-down in most countries in that month was far too soon. As predicted, the virus was allowed to continue circulating by populations some not willing (some not able) to resist the urge to congregate together. Consequently, senior governing elites are again informing their citizens that ‘the virus is not yet under control‘, or similar words to that mistaken effect. In fact it is people who are not exercising sufficient long-term self-control and presenting the virus with an alternative to dying out.

During the first wave of contagion, we had the spectacle of governing elites who were soon more anxious to preserve the capitalist system than they were to preserve human life. With their later ‘relaxation’ and encouragement, we then had large numbers who were more anxious to preserve their entitlement to go to bars, disco’s, parties and eating out, than to preserve the lives of their neighbours and family members.

All this incompetence and indifference for the welfare of others, presents a dismal prospect for any early end to the daily Covid-19 death toll.

Many countries are now having to reintroduce legal measures to try to restrict the spread of contamination before it again overwhelms their still underfunded and under-resourced health services. Although stopping short of the full national lock downs of the first wave of Covid-19, (Spring 2020) nevertheless governments are now well on a path leading to that probability.

Moreover, the dismal strategy they propose is still essentially the same in September as it was in March. First; wash hands, keep a distance, wear a mask, don’t congregate in numbers more than six. Second; outsource the important process of testing and tracing to private companies who are more concerned with cutting corners and making profits than providing an efficient and effective service. How reassuring is that?

It has become something of a cliché that – to keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result – is a form of madness. Be that as it may, it is at least a level of irrationality – bordering on stupidity – to keep attempting to implement the same half-baked strategy and expecting it to succeed. But then, from a humanist standpoint, stupidity has been the defining characteristic of the governing elites from the very outset of the pandemic.

Governing elites, the world over, knew a pandemic was coming and had documented strategic plans to deal with it, only to stupidly ignore their own documents and strategies when it arrived. Still they weren’t stupid enough to allow their own incomes and lives to suffer from the pandemic – were they?

They, like many other sections of the elite have remained on full pay, conditions and pension rights, paid for from the public purse! Think for a moment what a brilliant idea that is for the lucky ones. It keeps self and family together and allows income secure shielding during any major catastrophe now and in the future. It makes one wonder why it hasn’t caught on generally.

Indeed, with regard to stupidity, an alternative one-sided level of it seems to have permeated the general population and the left, as well as the governing elites. We now have considerable numbers of people in some countries holding demonstration – not demanding to be taken on to the same secure economic footing as the elite – but to be allowed to go back to the precarious positions they held before lock-down! And with the added danger of catching and passing on the virus to each other. How irrational is that?

Not quite as irrational as those who think that the virus doesn’t exist and is just a conspiracy invention, or those who think some imaginary, invisible male super-being located in an imaginary heaven will protect them from it. But it does represent a fairly high level of irrationality, particularly among nations and peoples that officially champion equality. Why not demand such equality now rather than settle for continued inequality?

The elite must be counting their blessings that the multi-ethnic workers around the world are more focused upon propping up a bar, or the outcome of present and future elections or re-educating their already well schooled law enforcement officers, rather than demonstrating and campaigning for everyone to be on a guaranteed income pitched at a level deserving of the contribution they make to society. And what about the so-called left vanguard in 2020?

Presented with the plain to view social class situation revealed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the left in general seem to be avoiding the one reform worth fighting for and the only one which would have a chance of uniting all working people, irrespective of all identities, ethnicities and political affiliations. Reforms in periods of revolutionary upheavals, need to be those which, in the circumstances, are seen by most people to be necessary, reasonable and fair.

If the governing elite claim ‘we are all in this together’, then they should be held accountable to that claim. If elites carry out a temporary furlough of a percentage salary or wage payment to workers, as many have, workers would be wise to campaign for it to become a full remuneration and a permanent feature. In a new epoch of wildfires, droughts, floods, hurricanes and pandemics, any ruling elite refusing a request/demand that everyone in a disaster should be as securely paid as the elite are, would be further exposed as deserving to be overthrown.

In the crisis and episodic collapse of modes of production, there are ‘peace, bread and land‘ moments as well as ‘no taxation without representation’ moments. Radical and revolutionary changes occur when such moments are seized and populations become galvanised into going beyond dreaming that ‘another world is possible‘ and start actively creating it.

There is no question that the fabric of the capitalist mode of production, globally is crumbling fast. The relationship between human labour and economic production, was previously dislocated by automation and advanced computerised techniques. It has now been profoundly stopped in its tracks by the inability to cram as many bottoms onto seats as will create profits – without spreading viral death and destruction.

The same technology has also profoundly dislocated the relationship between humanity and nature as ecology and environments have been gouged and trashed on land, sea and air to provide obscene levels of wealth for a relatively small elite. At the same time creating petty entitlement distractions for a large number and poverty for the increasing millions left out.

The capitalist system is not fit for humanity in general and this is recognised by the elite who have embraced the security of public service and in crisis engineered regular public handouts for their cronies. The system is well overdue for a radical change but it will need a radical change in thinking among greater numbers, before such change occurs.

There is no going back to a previous (imaginary) healthy stage of capitalist development, or no possibility of stabilising the current neo-liberal stage. There is only going forward to something fit for humanity as a whole. Readers, in or out of lock-down, dare to think, speak and do things differently – you have nothing to lose but your chains – to this terminally destructive system of exploitation and oppression.

Roy Ratcliffe (September 2020)

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THE 2020 US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

The USA presidential election in November 2020, is set to occur at a time when the capitalist mode of production will be in the throes of the most severe crisis it has ever faced. As the competing Democratic and Republican sides verbally arm themselves, for the electoral contest, that global fact has been consistently ignored. Most of the America media also seems to have decided that the defining issue of 2020 is not the disintegrating condition of the planet, the profound economic dislocation in the US or even the huge Covid-19 death toll there, but Donald Trump.

Democrats are vehemently against Trump, Republicans are vehemently for him. Both sides are pretending to see each other as the primary cause of the deep divisions, within US society, when actually they know they are but two sides of the same governing class. In fact it is the decades-long economic divisions working deep within US capitalism, which have given rise to this mostly sham contest between toxic Donald and sleepy Joe.

It is a sham contest because, despite small differences – hyper exaggerated purely for campaign purposes – most Democrats and Republicans (and their leaders) are dedicated supporters of the capitalist mode of production. Historically, both Democrats and Republicans have put the needs of capital and the pro-capitalist elites ahead of every other consideration. For the elites of both US parties, the present capitalist system comes first, second and never last.

Despite the vitriolic rhetoric on both sides, this fact has recently been verified by those such as Republican Jeff Flake et al. These right-wing Republicans, finally disillusioned by Trumps repeated paranoia and unpredictability, have decided to back Biden on the basis that Biden is right-wing enough and a better bet than Trump to guarantee the existing system will be protected.

Indeed, the real differences between Trump and Biden are far more to do with personal style, than substance, for both sides understand the capitalist system is in a complete mess and needs saving. They only differ in how this can be achieved. Both know there will be huge class struggles ahead and that working people will need to be divided against each other in order to weaken their struggle against the increasingly dysfunctional socio-economic system. How best to do that is what really divides them.

The Democrats in particular see the importance of accepting and encouraging political positions based upon the identities of gender, disability, sexuality and the falsified one of race. The representatives of these identities are promised reforms in return for peaceful assimilation (of a few) into the hierarchy of the existing and future capitalist system.

The essence of current Democratic electoral strategy is to represent US diversity by creating a Rainbow Coalition of legal, peaceful and loyal competing sectional interests (identities) which will redeem America’s dark Antebellum Slavery past. They hope the creation of a facade of ‘tolerance’ will ‘Make America Moral Again’. This strategy, if successful will serve to obscure and negate a class based campaign against all forms of exploitation and discrimination, thus ensuring the capitalist system has enough compromised supporters to survive the coming crisis.

In contrast, the Trump influenced Republicans, see re-establishing American ‘greatness’ in terms of aggressive internal and external measures. Consequently they put more emphasis upon directly playing off sections of the working class against each other. Blame for job losses are attributed to competition from other workers (and identities) not the deliberate decisions of capitalist enterprises to seek sources of cheap labour at home or abroad.

The future Trump (and prior Tea Party) defence strategy for the capitalist mode of production in America is to harness a coalition of dissatisfied workers who have internalised a nationalist agenda and identity and who judge their future well-being to lie with supporting a nationalistic Republican elite.

They hope these non-state nationalistic workers, currently with little viable alternative, will be drawn to the Republican political side and when the crisis eventually matures, act in concert with the capitalist states armed bodies of paid men (and women). Dress rehearsals of such joint reactionary activities against protests are already taking place in many states.

These two, state and non-state armed constituencies, are practical expressions of Trumps dream to ‘Make America Great Again’ which is ultimately a political strategy for stamping out opposition to the rule of capital. The two Biden/Trump political strategies are merely different views of how to defend the ‘establishment’ elites from the consequences of the coming financial, economic, ecological and medical crises facing humanity. But it is important to note that both of these visions are views of the world seen upside down.

The world seen upside down.

In the upside down optics of the representatives of capital, (and those who think like them), the bulk of humanity (working people) are born to serve the capitalist economic system. They imagine the capitalist system is unchallengeable. They think this way because they currently live in the world which superficially appears to be firmly set in that way. Moreover, their dualistic ideology assumes that a future economy adjusted to serve humanity rather than one adjusted to serve them – is neither possible or desirable.

Consequently, all politicians think that the form of politics determines the form of economics. In fact it is almost totally the opposite. The form of economic developments determines, to a greater or lesser extent, the form of politics. For example, the effects of the financial and economic collapse during and after 1929, determined the new-deal social welfare politics of the US for several decades as it did in Europe and elsewhere.

The economic effect of the Second World War (1939-45) also perpetuated a reform-based welfare based politics in the US and elsewhere. Economics more frequently dialectically determines politics, than the opposite. Furthermore, for those who work and live predominantly within one sphere of the mode of production, it is almost inevitable that the ideas dominating that section also dominate and cloud their individual thinking.

Thus those totally embedded in finance tend to think money makes the world go round; those immersed in religion, that some divinity is guiding the universe; educators, that the pen is mightier than the sword; and politicians, that politics determines what occurs in all other areas of life. The professional thinkers and writers within these super-structural spheres of human activity also influence and often dominate those who are sufficiently attracted to these disciplines.

This second layer of ‘disciples’, particularly those on the left, also begin to see the world turned upside down or inside out. They too think politics solves everything. The lefts general assumption of ‘Get rid of Trump and most problems will be solved‘, is an example of such inverted dualistic thinking. Those in the other spheres previously noted also tend to think, that money, god, learning or politics are the things which directly determine the production of the essentials for living – until!

Until a general crisis severely interrupts the flow of essentials. Then if food, water, clothing, shelter, and a number of other essential foundations to modern life, are not reliably delivered, money will be shown to be next to useless, prayer ineffective, knowledge unable to satisfy hunger, and politics a quickly evaporating cloud of hot air. In the current and future global Covid-19, economic, financial and ecological crisis period, we are nearer to such a general crisis, than many actually suspect given the widespread focus on the politics of entitlement and the politics of identity.

For in the USA, as elsewhere, those socio-economic identities which are currently deemed most important have arisen during the neo-liberal phase of entitlement capitalism and are invariably based upon politicised surrogates and lack a serious class analysis. In other words, in a world viewed upside down, symptoms of economic oppression are not seen as having fundamental causes – they are their own causes! Racism is seen as the cause of racism; sexism the cause of sexism; homophobia the cause of homophobia etc.

From such upside down perspectives on capitalist symptoms, solutions to serious problems of social distress are somehow to be magically spun out of themselves. Yet it is clear that politics is the problem not the solution to widespread social distress. Anyone who has seriously studied, the rise of authoritarian politics during the 20th century collapse of capitalism in Italy, Germany and Spain, will recognise that the above noted 2020 street fighting between different sections of the US working class over secondary issues and common problems, can be a prelude to a tragic set-back for humanism and humanity in general.

Furthermore, anyone, familiar with the outcomes of the Arab Spring uprisings, in Egypt, Syria, Yemen (among others), will recognise that even in the 21st century, political understanding can still misdirect general humanitarian struggles and steer them into political (or religious) sectarian cul-de-sacs. These are ancient dead ends down which lie tragic outcomes for all identities – including ones based upon class. Failing to learn from past experiences – particularly when 20th century history is so vividly and comprehensively recorded – is itself a tragedy, let alone the practical consequences of such repeated failures.

Roy Ratcliffe ( September 2020)

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2020: STILL THINKING INSIDE THE BOX?

Early in the year 2020, the dysfunctional socio-economic system we are all trapped in (ie the capitalist mode of production) was given its most profound shock ever. Within weeks the whole system of global production, distribution and consumption was exposed by a virus as being unfit for ensuring the health and safety of humanity as a whole. The ‘normal’ working of the capitalist economic system not only released the dangerous Covid-19 pathogen into commercial networks, but rapidly transported it into every corner of the globe. But by thinking within the box (ie within the existing ‘mode of production’) practically everything the systems governing elites did, made the situation worse.

A too-late lock-down, a too-soon ending of lock-down, a botched supply of PPE, testing, etc., the list of incompetent and omitted actions is considerable. The government support for salaries and wages during lock-down was a rare exception of alternative thinking. Yet knowing the virus needed human to human transmission, within a few months, the pro-capitalist elites everywhere began suggesting (in some cases compelling) working people to go back to work and socialise. In other words the capitalist form of ‘business as usual’ thinking required the calculated spreading of the deadly virus among communities – again!

These outcomes (including second Covid-19 waves) were predictable. Capitalist-centred elites could do no other than what they have done! The whole shape and purpose of the global economic system is a product of the capitalist mode of production, guided by its male-orientated elites. Consequently, their way of thinking and acting in any crisis reflects no other practical purpose than conserving the existing system. The socio-economic structure of capitalism, including the language and thinking they (and we) we have been taught to use, is based upon what is best for the elite males in production, commerce, governance and politics.

To expect them to think differently and act upon what is best for humanity as a whole is at best naive.

A crisis of the magnitude triggered by Covid-19, requires a different way of acting and thinking, but this change will not come from those who currently dominate capitalist societies. Historically, the elite male-centred view we are conditioned to accept, is most glaringly expressed in patriarchal religions, where the real world is considered an imperfect copy of the perfect creation of an all powerful male god. If the reader has never seriously questioned religion (or any other aspect) of our male-dominated cultures, that merely indicates that the critical thinking circuits of our brains have been seriously neglected. Yet the reader knows that the human brain is excellent at imagining things which could never actually exist or ever existed outside of the human brain.

Hence, an invisible male super being – who must be worshipped and served – is a taken for granted god, not simply an intellectual reflection of the socio-economic status of men.

It is clear that ideas and perceptions – even obviously false ones – can take on a permanence even when reliable, independent evidence for them is completely lacking. Without a shred of independently confirmed evidence, humans can be conditioned to believe practically anything – providing there is sufficient incentive or authoritative pressure. Yet, now more than ever, everything promoted by all elites needs to be questioned.

The danger of borrowing our thinking from within a male-focussed capitalist system is obvious. When women and men have been educated to think along male-determined, rather than humanist lines, it becomes easier to be led down paths which are detrimental to humanity in general. During 20th century socio-economic crisis periods, for example, people were persuaded to follow, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini and Mao – just to mention a few of the many examples. The path these ruthless male-centred, dualistic thinking men led people down ended in genocidal brutality.

Challenging Dualism.

Dualism, is a typical male-determined way of thinking. It views the physical and intellectual world via a series of fixed opposites. In dualistic thinking, opposed distinctions are everywhere. Thus for dualistic thinkers there are good and bad people. Good people are never bad and bad people are never good and no one moves between. Most of us know that reality renders that view false, but that doesn’t mean it is no longer used. Good and bad categories are common ‘borrowed‘ ways of viewing contemporary social reality and are rarely challenged. Take the example of the dualistic opposites of black and white and their frequent prejudiced association with good and bad.

Leaving aside paint pigments, very few things in the real world are actually black or white and that includes the skin colours of human beings. Yet that does not mean that these false (and now highly politicised) opposites, including their associated dualisms of good and bad are avoided. The associated idea of ‘race’, as a further example, stems from a dualistic male-centred view of humanity. Racist ideology was invented and used mainly by men to convince both the enslaved and the enslavers that slavery was logical and just. Of course the ideology was not universally convincing, but it convinced enough to become a significant strand of the framework of empires and their subject people’s.

In the 21st century, it is still possible to hear comments such as; ‘I am proud of my race‘; ‘you are disrespecting/oppressing my race’, etc. Even 20th century European legislation forbidding discrimination, utilises the term as in ‘race relations’, ‘racial discrimination‘, etc. The continued use of the concept of race – no matter who perpetuates it – denies two important realities. First, it contradicts the real existence of our common humanity and second, it ignores the fundamental features of human biology.

The success of racial ideology – as a contemporary social force – is not down to fundamental evidence in support of it, but to the fact that – a sufficiently large number of people have accepted it as ‘fact’ and acted upon it.

On this elite male-invented foundation was erected a shaky intellectual scaffolding of black and white races and the idea that power over other humans is a product of skin colour. Yet in fact the real tap root of human power over other humans is obviously not a persons skin colour, but the prevalence of male domination. Male power over females and children and over people’s, communities and nations (ie patriarchy) is the defining characteristic of all human ‘civilisation’ – so far! And this ‘power’ is exercised irrespective of differences in skin pigmentation. So too in the case of the patriarchal development of capitalism and the power that provides. Male power over women and children is universal and exists among all skin shades.

Likewise, capitalists – of all skin shades – along with their ‘law enforcers’, are employed precisely to consolidate economic and social power over their wage-slaves – and do so.

In the present crisis, to criticise only one form of oppression and avoid challenging the ubiquitous existence of male and capitalist oppression in general, suggests a failure to escape bourgeois patriarchal ways of thinking. It also represents a failure to understand and reject the entire content of the box labelled ‘the capitalist mode of production‘. Yes ‘dark – skinned lives matter’ is an important rallying call for an end this particular form of human discrimination, but unless we (and its advocates) make it an integral part of a wider revolutionary-humanist movement – where we assert that all lives (animal and human) matter – whatever their skin colour – it will remain a one-sided demand to be ignored or watered down by the very ‘male power elite’, to whom it is addressed.

Roy Ratcliffe ( August 2020)

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THE DANGERS OF SECTARIANISM.

Sectarianism.

There has long been a phenomenon within struggles for unity against ruling elites which is the intellectual equivalent of cancer in the human body. It attacks individual units of struggle and breaks down internal group solidarity. The phenomenon is called sectarianism. It is derived from the examples of small religious (and political) groupings known as ‘sects’. Nevertheless, it is not a group which determines the existence of sectarian characteristics, but the existence of sectarian characteristics which determine the nature of a group. The characteristics (outlined in the following section) can also exist in single individuals as well as multiples

First some general points. Members of a sect are primarily preoccupied with external and internal issues. External issues concern problematic economic or political relationships within a given society, which members seek to solve or escape. Internal concerns generally orbit around group leadership and group cohesion. Cohesion is maintained by adherence to a particular set of ideas and practices.

Leadership in such sects is gained by those who convince group members (either democratically or forcibly) that he or she is the best representative of the sects ideas and practices. However, it is the numerous characteristics of sectarianism that are important to understand not who they emanate from. If the following characteristics are identified then whoever personifies them will be the carrier of this fatal disease.

The characteristics of sectarianism.

1. Sectarians claim only they have the correct solution or answer to any problems the movement faces. This claim can be in the form of a doctrine, a set of principles or through special insights and abilities.

2. The reason the sect exists as a separate entity, is because it’s leaders and members consider themselves superior (in some self-identified way) to the general movement they seek to influence and lead.

3. Sectarians have an unshakeable belief in their abilities despite any obvious particular failures and shortcomings they demonstrate in practice.

4. Sectarians can (and do) carry out serious internal or external struggles against rival sects or rival leaders within their own sect.

5. Sectarians often elevate trivialities to the level of principles in order to create disputes between rivals and then create splits within movements.

6. Sectarians frequently call for unity but only unity around their own ideas, practices or leadership.

7. Sectarians frequently distort the positions and efforts of others with whom they disagree. In this way they ‘poison’ any efforts at constructive discussions.

8. Sectarians are often boastful about their own abilities, whilst disrespectful and bitter in relationship to those who differ.

9. Sectarians generally use intellectual abstractions and logical deductions to ‘win’ arguments which bear little or no relationship to immediate reality.

10. Sectarians often explicitly demand that everyone subordinate their thinking and activity to those ideas promoted by them or their sect.

It is obvious that the above characteristics are manifestations of individual and collective forms of supposed superiority over the rest of humanity (point 2 above) The ten characteristics can be used to assess the sectarian nature of any individual religious or political leader of whatever denomination or political persuasion.

Within left-wing politics, sectarians are in many ways, mirror images of the alleged superiority of right-wing elites. They represent micro-sect elites who are ambitious to become national or international leaders. Hence, the phenomena of small group sectarians, after being promoted to power in various ways, becoming new ruling elites. (eg. Bolsheviks, Nazi’s, Maoists, Islamists, Zionists, ANC etc.) Conversely, if sectarians fail to dominate movements, they invariably atrophy slowly or destroy themselves quickly. (eg. WRP, IMG, CP, WF, BP, etc.).

It is rare for all ten characteristics to be displayed at any one time, but any single one of the above characteristics may be enough to start the destructive invasion.

Because, the capitalist mode of production exploits and oppresses the mass of people for the benefit of the few, the oppressed majority are extremely diverse. On the global scale, the mass of humanity dominated by capitalism, comprise of different cultures, genders, ages, skin colours and sexual orientations. To imagine that such diversity does not create a variety of needs and ways of thinking is to ignore both logic and reality. Yet that is exactly what sectarians do when telling everyone what they must (their favourite word) do.

They imagine that such human diversity can be consolidated behind a set of ideas produced by such self-promoted sectarian elites. However, that is a fantasy equal to that of imagining a male super-being occupying a beneficial heaven and patiently awaiting our final ascent. Neither scenario is going to happen. Any movement wishing to seriously challenge the power of a united and powerful elite to negatively determine what happens to the rest of us will need to unite around not just one form of oppression – no matter how abusive that is – but around multiple issues of oppression and abuse.

Like elites of all historical periods, sectarians also imagine that working people need leadership (their leadership) to be able to challenge existing elites and to create productive communities. In sectarian ideology, real-world socio-economic reality is inverted. In fact it is leaders which need workers to support them economically and socially. Without workers producing goods and services, elites could not survive.

Workers may need co-ordination for many economic activities, but they can do that for themselves. However, given their lengthy economic, social and intellectual subordination to the dominant class, working people, need to challenge the false ideas of human superiority and inferiority. In particular, those ideas which are embodied within the ideologies of religion, racism, sexism and nationalism.

Those who have already done so for themselves can help facilitate the challenging of these pro – capitalist ideologies by working people, but only if they have done so thoroughly. Criticism and self-criticism of methods and evidence is important in this regard. It is easy to criticise obvious surface symptoms, but without a thoroughgoing criticism of underlying systemic causes, that criticism leaves the capitalist system as a whole unchallenged and intact.

Roy Ratcliffe (July 2020)

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CORONA VIRUS PANDEMIC – 24.

Victims and perpetrators.

Recent media references to catching the virus have been more often than not couched in terms of, ‘it hasn’t gone yet’; ‘it’s not over’; ‘it is still there’! Its as if they imagine Covid-19 was actively seeking to infect people like some invisible ninja assassin lurking around  to get us. In fact the only active agents we can blame in the actual transmission of a virus – is ourselves.

A viruses success in invading human bodies is in direct proportion to human failure to avoid spreading it. Viruses do not spread themselves and kill or damage the health of those it infects. It is we who spread it to our families, friends, neighbours, contacts and strangers. We – and our current way of living – are the main problem in ending this or any other pandemic.

So the real tragedy of the high numbers of deaths, now in the tens and hundreds of thousands in each country, is that this biological weapon of mass-destruction hasn’t been delivered by an enemy – but by our own side! Although not intentionally, many of us have spread viruses around communal environments as well as to family, friends and strangers.

Prior to the current Pandemic scientific panels of those specialising in contagious diseases and viruses had produced documented strategies for avoiding or minimising the risks of us spreading the virus. These were duly noted, shelved and largely ignored by the political elite who had their own pecuniary interests to concentrate upon.

A too-late lock-down was all they could think of, which in effect meant the ordinary citizens not the elite, had to stop the virus from spreading – by hiding away from each other. Thus overall responsibility was evaded and handed over to the community. Our tax-funded elites then sent out mixed messages, ignored their own advice and joined in the ‘we are all in this together’ nonsense by clapping once a week.

Meanwhile, the doctors, nurses and other ‘essential’ workers staffing the hospitals and care homes were left to improvise and do their best not to pass the virus on.

But despite, the general confusion and mixed messages, by hiding away from each other most ordinary people succeeded in not passing it on to their fellow citizens. Consequently the contagion slowed and the rate of Covid infections and deaths continued to reduce. That is until the political and capitalist elites realised their mode of production was collapsing. Hardly any wage-slaves were at work supplementing their profits and investments.

So – to save their economy – elites globally have urged everyone to get out and start infecting each other again. They know ordinary people have not got the right equipment and resources, nor sufficient information to make fully informed decisions on how to keep each other safe. The elite know that many are caught in the decades long economic poverty trap deliberately created for them by successive pro – capitalist elites.

They also know that sending working-class kids to school and their parents out to work is a risk the elite will not have to take.

A mixture of confusion, boredom and financial need along with allowing businesses to open up again is creating another round of the virus being handed on like an invisible but deadly relay baton. A second wave of contagion is well on its way in practically all the countries that encouraged their populations to end lock-down and help capitalist economic activity to start up again.

Despite hopes to the contrary, the finishing line for many more people in this race to create a new capitalist normal has been (and will be) an intensive-care bed or a coffin.

Hope versus probability.

Hope 1. Those who catch it will only get it in a mild form and soon recover. That is the Trumpian and Johnsonian hypothesis, but it also the hope of many who gather on beaches, in bars, cinemas, shops and restaurants. However, since this virus is new, clutching at such straws is based upon evidence which may prove unreliable. We know Covid-19 can be fatal for some in vulnerable categories but evidence is emerging that when the lungs have ceased to be dangerously infected, Covid-19 can still be damaging other internal organs.

It may turn out that recovery from Covid-19 could be followed by long-term, debilitating, damage for some of the population. It may be the case that the amount and frequency of the viral load internalised has a bearing upon the lethality of infection. Furthermore, it cannot be assumed that the virus will not mutate and infect yet again.

Hope 2. That at least a partial return to normality can soon be achieved and some of the activities (eating out, holidays abroad, night clubs, etc.) we have come to think a right to can be resumed. For many people this is never going to happen. The coming economic collapse will be so great that much of what some have come to consider as entitlement will be unaffordable under the current mode of production. In all probability there will be mass unemployment in advanced, poor countries and middle – income countries. What many of us did before Covid-19 – will never return.

Hope 3. That a successful vaccine will be soon be developed which will allow a nearly full return to the pre-Covid-19 capitalist normality. This is not going to happen soon enough to ease the economic and the many health problems which are now unfolding. And of course, like the hope for many other vaccines, it may never happen.

Moreover, does anyone think the neo-liberal regimes of the globe, are capable of ensuring the development of a safe, effective vaccine, along with a fair and equitable mass inoculation procedure? They have not even ensured plastic aprons, masks, gloves and swabs were available in sufficient quantities and qualities. Their promise of effective universal testing and tracing procedures – still unfulfilled!

Hope is no substitute for initiating direct community action aimed at ending; poverty, homelessness and virus transmission.

[For a more detailed projection of the coming economic crisis, see Rob Urie article at https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/07/17/economic-crisis-and%5D

R. Ratcliffe (July 2020)

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CAPITALISM’S WAR AGAINST NATURE.

The reason why capitalism is the first mode of production to threaten the future survival of many forms of life is difficult to understand if the detailed complexities of nature and capitalism are approached separately. However, if one accepts that the abstract concept of ‘nature’ can be considered as covering all life-forms, then the matter is somewhat simplified. That way, after an initial stage of analysis, it is possible to introduce both sets of complexities to reach a more developed understanding.

Thus, we know that all forms of life utilise the materials of the planet and the energy contained within it or from outside it (ie via the sun) to reproduce and sustain themselves. Living things are the planets organic assemblies of inorganic materials, continuously inter-connecting. When life-forms die, those materials return initially to the surroundings where death takes place.

Even before organisms die they ingest material from nature to support their growth and energy and they secrete any unused or unneeded material back to nature. In short everything – including all the mineral and bio-chemical ingredients involved in this ‘cycle of life’ – is connected and re-cycled to be used again.

In other words, recycling is not just a modern ‘feel-good’ obsession but an essential process of the ‘connected’ cycle of all life on our planet, and has been for millions or billions of its annual orbits around the sun.

However, this natural process, was significantly interrupted when the capitalist mode of production became more than just a fringe activity within and between some Mediterranean maritime communities. As large-scale capitalist forms of agricultural production encroached upon inland farming, the essential recycling process of organic and inorganic nature was progressively dis-connected and distorted at all such locations.

When local human populations were separated from direct production of the land to make way for large-scale agri-farming, the land had taken from it the above-noted natural form of recycling local waste products. Much residual material of those things assembled by nature (plants, animals, birds, insects) and from the fecal waste of all living things, went elsewhere and all the essential elements donated by nature to life went with them. Capitalist agriculture thus disconnected nature from its local, natural and human metabolic processes.

Consequently, intensive capitalist agriculture also quickly exhausted the microbiology of the soil. Since profits required continuous production, soil fertility then needed replenishing from external sources. This necessity created another form of profitable activity in the form of foreign-sourced elements such as guano (bird poo) and other material (bones of people and animals) which were used on intensive farms.

As dispossessed peasants and others were cleared off the land they gravitated to towns and cities taking their poo and pee with them. Night soil – as excreta was designated during the Victorian era – was sometimes taken from cities and large towns and used on fields and farms, but much was dumped in rivers and seas. Overall, this meant the soil was being denied much of it’s natural cycle and eventually when guano and bones ran out, chemical substitutes had to be found to keep capitalist farming productive.

This capitalist type of agricultural production amounted to a five-fold robbery of nature – just for the profit of a few! The soil of increasingly mechanised farms, was robbed (1) of their basic nutrients in order to overproduce crops for sale and (2) the soil was therefore separated from its natural local waste-product fertilisers. The peasants and cottagers were separated from their small-holding livelihoods (3) and foreign lands were separated from natural resources such as guano (4). But this capitalist robbery by separation of nature – for profit-led extraction – did not end there. Crops grown by chemical fertiliser methods were not as nutritious as those organically grown. So food was robbed (5) of its natural nutrition and taste.

Even before considering capitalism’s ‘Robber Land Barons’ and the consequent land-clearances, unemployment and low pay, the bodies of working people were being robbed of nourishing food to sustain and replenish their own bodily cells. When capitalist industry and agricultural also instituted long hours, poor conditions, unemployment and low pay these symptoms were added to food poverty and to a diet of less nutritious and chemical contaminated food. It was then that ill health and disease (including epidemics) became disproportionately the lot of working people, both blue-collar and white.

For when people have a diet deficient in certain natural elements, then the micro – organisms and cells that make up the human immune system and body structure are also starved of the elements they need to function properly. It got so bad that vitamin and mineral supplements were produced in tablet, powder and liquid form (for those who could afford them), in order to attempt to make up for what had been lost in naturally grown food.

Fast forward to the modern capitalist (and neo-liberal) era and the problem has intensified and gone global. Ask yourself where the excrement and urine from global cities numbering millions of citizens is going – each day – and what a loss much of this is to soil. Then think about what an imposition it is on nature when tons of it go into the differently based eco-systems of rivers, lakes and seas. Also ask yourself where the chemical fertilisers and pesticides used in huge agri-business farming are extracted from and what effect this has on the quality of food produced, the pollution of nature’s soil, and the consequence of its run-off into rivers and seas.

If we add to this distortion of the intimate food connection between nature in its human and non – human forms, the effects of non-food mass-production of industry and it’s effects upon the air and water quality that all land-based life-forms breath and drink, then certain conclusions follow. Capitalists are not only at war with rivals, for markets and raw materials, but effectively at war with humanity and nature as a whole.

Roy Ratcliffe (July 2020)

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HAS SLAVERY REALLY ENDED?

Domestic Slavery.

Domestic forms of slavery are mostly founded on the example of the ancient patriarchal family. A male owns or controls the household and exercises power over the skills and labour of all the family members. Any economic activity, including its type, pace and duration will be directed by the patriarch. The family members will be persuaded or compelled to also do domestic labour as instructed by the ‘head of the house‘ – on threat of punishment or promise of future benefits.

The patriarch (kind or cruel) determines the amount and type of food, clothing, shelter and entertainment appropriate, for each family member. In the domestic economy he will decide the allocation of any surplus-production the family generates. Although, the biological members of the patriarchal family are not ‘bought‘, their socio-economic circumstances are analogous to those of indentured or purchased slaves. They cannot escape; for there may be nowhere to escape to; they can be whipped or beaten, locked away, deprived of food and have little or no control over their private lives.

Within the Abrahamic influenced communities of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, many features of the ancient patriarchal family were still prevalent in the 19th and 20th centuries. Wives and children could be brutally beaten, forced to hand over personal wealth, do household chores, locked in their rooms, denied food and even killed. Wives could be forced to have sex and domestic servants could be sexually exploited by the male head of the family.

Moreover, domestic violence, mainly by men against women and children has still not been entirely eradicated from 21st century domestic life around the planet.

Absolute slavery.

What I call absolute slavery is the form extensively developed in ancient times but resurrected in the 17th, to 20th centuries. In warfare and conquest in the ancient world, some enemies were captured rather than killed. They were then ransomed or sold as household slaves or as forced-labour in agricultural or mining activities. But the economic aim was (and is) essentially the same for all forms of slavery; the slave-owner obtains all the value the slave produces that is greater than the value the slave consumes in living. Obtaining this ‘surplus-production‘ (or its equivalent in ‘value’ once these products are sold) is the purpose of all forms of slavery.

In the ‘middle ages’ serfdom became a modified form of slavery in the agricultural districts of Europe and surrounding areas. The serfs worked some days to feed and clothe themselves and were compelled to work for the owner of the land for the remaining days of the week. The latter days supplied surplus-production. However, It was with the development of huge, labour-intensive plantations in the new world of the Americas that human beings became commodities – on a vast scale. Slaves laboured to produce cotton, sugar, tobacco, coffee and other agricultural products.

In plantation forms of slavery, the aim was also to extract more value from the labour of the slaves, than the value they cost to purchase (their intrinsic or potential value) and keep alive. The value difference of plantation slave-labour over its costs was often large and their numbers considerable so the surplus-production in monetary terms was frequently huge. Centuries of accumulated profits by plantation based capitalists were used to fund the industrial revolution in Britain, Europe, North America and the world.

The industrial stage of capitalist development quickly became more productive and more dominant than slave-based agriculture. Consequently, absolute slave-labour became less productive than wage-slave labour and returned less capital to the capitalist elite. Absolute slaves had to be fed, housed, clothed, monitored and disciplined 24/7, whether engaged productively or not. If worked too hard they had short lives and replacing them was costly. In effect, wage-slavery increased the surplus-production value going to capitalists and eliminated many of the costs associated with absolute slavery.

Wage Slavery.

In contrast to the absolute form of slavery, wage-slavery (described by the elite as ‘freedom’) meant the capitalist only had to pay for the work actually done and only when that work was needed. Thus the employer saved capital by not purchasing the worker outright and by not housing or feeding them when unemployed. Wage-slaves therefore, had no intrinsic value to capitalists and so were ‘free‘ to starve and even become homeless between jobs. Moreover, the compulsion to work hard for wage-slaves was not via a paid overseers whip, but via their own existential ‘need‘ for the wage or salary.

Better still (from the capitalist perspective), the subsistence level wage was only paid to the worker – after the work was done! Then the wage money was used to purchase food, clothing, housing and entertainment – from other capitalists! So capitalists got the surplus-production created by the wage-slaves during their employment period and got the wage-money back when these were used to purchase essentials for living. Isn’t such ‘freedom‘ wonderful?

The abolition of plantation slavery is often presented as resulting from elite moral conviction. In actual fact there was a strong economic dimension to abolition. Slavery had been considered immoral down through the ages and during the 200 year history of plantations. However, it was only ended, when the advantages of wage-slavery became obvious. When industrial capitalists became more powerful than plantation capitalists they began to impose their methods of exploitation on all other modes of production.

So in fact, the civil war between the North and South in the USA, was fundamentally a conflict between the wage-labour based industrial capitalism of the North and the slave-labour based agricultural capitalism of the South. Politics and morality at the time, was already largely determined by the process of global commodity production, and it was rapidly being shunted in the direction of wage-labour by the steam-driven power of industrial capitalism.

Moreover, on a world scale, all three forms of slavery still exist and still await abolition. In the meantime the bulk of humanity go – job application in hand – to those who only employ us when it suits them. 

Roy Ratcliffe (July 2020)

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SLAVERY AND RACIST IDEOLOGY.

The entire structure of modern capitalism has been built upon the backs of wage-slavery and slavery as organised by capitalist elites and their agents. Beyond the natural world, practically everything that now exists has been sweated out of the efforts of those compelled by circumstances to labour long and hard to create the wealth and well-being of the elite.

In addition to the material world (which is demonstrably ruining the ecological balance of the planet) the capitalist class and their supporters have also constructed an ideological world. It is one moulded to fit their imagined superiority and serves to mask their inhumanity. Neither, the material or ideological results of capitalism ensure a harmonious or sustainable future.

Nowhere is the deficiency of the pro-capitalist elite (of all complexions) more clearly demonstrated than in the abstractions – ‘freedom’ and ‘race’. Freedom, for capitalists, has never meant more than their own freedom to exploit, oppress and consume. The ideology of race was created to justify the exploitation of foreign peoples.

Slavery and the ideology of race.

The first trading contacts between European merchant capitalists and African tribal leaders were largely focused on commodity exchanges. African Gold, Ivory and spices were traded for European cottons, silks and guns. This and subsequent sea-born trading took place between European elites and African tribal elites.

Furthermore, at first contact, discrimination and slavery already existed within African tribal communities. Although some African slaves were accepted in initial exchanges by British and European Atlantic coast traders, slaves were not the initial motive. That came later when the plantation crops of cotton, sugar and tobacco were developed in the Caribbean islands, North America and Brazil. It was then that African slaves became the all-important profit-making commodity and a 200 year, triangle of trade, commenced

1. Goods from Europe were taken to Africa and exchanged for slaves. 2. Slaves were transported to the New World and exchanged for cotton, tobacco or sugar. 3. Sugar, cotton, tobacco were carried to Europe and exchanged for cash.

An estimated 11 million African slaves were ‘transported’ by Europeans to the Americas. Surplus-value was usually extracted on each of the three journeys, thus creating massive profits for the merchant capitalists. Although fictions about human difference existed in many places, it was this transition from regular trade to Atlantic plantation-based slave-trade that motivated a more biologically based form of prejudice.

The ideology of race required two fictions to be dogmatically asserted as fact. African skin was asserted as Black and European skin asserted as White. Neither assertion depicted reality, but they served as metaphors for ideas justifying extreme prejudice. The labels also reflected prejudiced notions of clean and unclean along with pagan backwardness and Christian perfection. The other fiction – also asserted as fact – was that humanity consisted of biologically different races.

Consequently, some human beings were considered superior and should rule, whilst others were inferior and should serve. This type of discrimination (extreme intolerance of human variation) wedded to the 19th century economic incentive to profit from trade, led European capitalists to feel entitled to exploit much of the known world.

Political fictions concerning ethnic identity and human difference became so embedded in European language and thinking that these racist ideas infected practically everyone educated in Western elitist values. Hume, Kant, Gobineau etc., provided extra intellectual backing to forms of racist ideology which reached its abhorrent peak (or depths) in the Aryan ideology of 20th century Fascism.

Once the fiction of race was accepted as fact, a further erroneous assumption followed. The brutality and discrimination epitomised by racial ideology and the slave trade, was viewed – as a product of biology and skin colour. This one-sided version of reality perpetuated the racist assumption that biology, not economic structures, ultimately determine social attitudes.

The continued assumption of a biological motivation for prejudice and discrimination, ignores the actual socio-economic foundations of the capitalist mode of production – wage-slavery – and full slavery! Biological determinism, begat a crude and counter-productive dualism.

Yet the entire history of ‘civilisation‘ prior to and during the Atlantic slave trade, indicates that brutal discrimination of the ‘other’ and enslavement is not a product of skin pigmentation. In fact, during the period that the obnoxious ‘Atlantic Slave Trade’ developed, millions of Africans were captured, held in chains (often for months) by other Africans until European slave-ships arrived. The ‘captives’ were then transported to the Slave Coast (or Gold Coast) with the assistance of Africans having various skin hues.

In other words, indigenous Africans entered into capitalist commercial commodity-exchanges with European elites – by choice. Much Western/European stereotype prejudice has viewed African tribal people as incapable and uncultured savages. Not so. Such prejudice ignored the fact that before the 16th century trading expeditions, many African societies, like European ones, were segmented into nobles, artisans, field workers, herders and – yes – domestic slaves.

Indeed, indigenous Africans had previously developed and ruled sizeable empires – including Kush and ancient Egypt. Central African kingdoms we’re also highly developed as evidenced by 17th century travellers to markets in Ceuta and Timbuktu. Africa – the cradle of early humanity – has nurtured actively intelligent participants during many modes of production – millennia before Europeans ‘scrambled’ to colonise it.

A fuller understanding of economic history such as above moves the struggle against modern economic and biologically-determined discriminations from those primarily defined by skin colour, gender, disability, sexuality etc., to one based upon capitalist economic activity and its resulting class structure which gives rise to multiple forms of prejudice.

Of course, prejudice and discrimination against those with dark skin is still extreme and needs to be energetically combated, however, it is not the only form. The way to fight it is not by denial (or affirmative action for a few) but by solidarity with all oppressed and exploited people. The revolutionary-humanist solution to discrimination and oppression is not through a more multi-ethnic, gender-inclusive, capitalism, but via an egalitarian, sustainable, post- capitalist mode of production.

Roy Ratcliffe (June 2020)
[For further evidence that; “…races do not exist in humans” See ‘R W Sussman. ‘The Myth of Race’][For a lengthy discussion of race and class see http://www.counterpunch.org/2020/07/03/class-race-%5D

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CORONA VIRUS PANDEMIC – 23.

It may not yet be absolutely clear to most people that the present mode of production based upon capitalism is structurally falling apart. Even as it re–opens, its socio-economic foundations are continuing to crack and disintegrate. The current situation facing most working people – isolation and reduced income – is being blamed entirely upon a virus. However, Covid-19, is a symptom of capitalist crisis, not a cause. The causes are economic not biological and lie deeper within the system, so symptoms of disintegration will continue.

Capitalism can no longer provide meaningful and secure livelihoods and environments for the vast majority of the people who live within the countries dominated by it. By a combination of computerised automation and outsourced production the number or workers needed by capitalist industry, commerce and finance has been drastically reduced along with their incomes. The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated that trend and the super-rich one percent (and the fairly rich ten percent), continue to render human beings economically redundant.

They protect their investments by shedding workers and dis-investing from businesses which have ceased to be profitable. They seek alternative ‘opportunities’ which will provide better returns during the rest of 2020 and on into 2021. Dis-investments will result in increased levels of unemployment, poverty, hardship and homelessness for working-class populations. Even middle-classes businesses are experiencing a precarious existence as fewer working class customers purchase goods or services from their shops, cafes, hotels and entertainment venues.

More and more people, white-collar and blue, will be faced with the problem of how to guarantee access to food, clothing, heating and housing. Already food banks and charities are stretched to breaking point, and rough street sleeping has reached unprecedented numbers. As things worsen, charities will not be able cope with the demand placed upon them. Furthermore, from within this growing pool of human poverty, discontent and desperation will emerge the various forms of individual coping activity classed by the elite as deviance and petty ‘crime’, which the system likes to punish.

Crime and Punishment.

Even though only a relatively small proportion of any population actually turn to ‘crime’ all the poor and impoverished come under suspicion by the elite and their law enforcement agencies. Rather than blame the system of capitalism, for this situation of desperate poverty for millions alongside untold wealth for hundreds, the systems elites invariably blame the victims. The latter are therefore treated as individually deficient and deviant. Indeed, the most impoverished sections of capitalist societies are frequently classed as the most problematic and therefore, get the most brutal policing.

Historically, in capitalist Europe and the West, ‘sturdy beggars’, ‘Irish’, ‘Scot’s’, ‘Indians’, ‘Gypsies’, ‘Africans’ and ‘Chinese’, at various times have been the most impoverished and desperate and therefore in receipt of the most prejudiced and brutal treatments by law enforcement. In other places, where capitalism has conquered in colonial form, those classed as ‘aboriginal’, ‘half – caste’, ‘untouchable’ or ‘enslaved’, have been similarly treated. The human victims of extreme elite prejudice have differed from place to place and over periods of time.

This recurrent phenomena of extreme prejudice is a product of the system and is not specific to an individual, gender or ethnicity. A survey of post-colonial reality demonstrates that when those previously at the bottom of the capitalist pyramid, rise to the top, they will exhibit the same ruthless disregard for those relegated to the bottom of the system. Class-based socio-economic systems in general, and capitalist ones in particular, always create ‘haves and have nots’, and the latter are always viewed as individual or collective threats to the existing elites – because they actually are.

For however they try to rationalise it, existing or new elites know they are getting far more wealth than they deserve, and the impoverished of all ethnicities know they are getting less than they need. In this regard, elites are often far more aware of the potential for individual discontent to take on a collective dimension. Rebellions, uprisings and even revolutions are never far from their minds. Hence, they reason the ‘have not’s’ need to be controlled, bribed or ruthlessly stamped upon. Their police agents – secret or not – are trained to absorb this ‘culture’ of blaming the victims and defending the system – at any cost.

Reform and Revolution.

The category of deviant will be extended to those working people (of whatever gender, sexuality or ethnicity) who recognise that it is the ‘system’ which is the problem and unite to collectively improve the situation for themselves and others. Those oppressed will invariably pursue change by campaigning to reform bits of the existing socio-economic system. Few will suggest radically transforming the whole system by revolution. Existential struggles created by modes of production that no longer fulfill the needs of millions, have – in practice – never started from a choice of revolution.

All such struggles for radical change begin as limited requests for reforms directed at the ruling elites by the victims of the system. So in 2020 and 2021, demonstrations, rallies, petitions, etc., for jobs, benefits, housing, schools, health provision, clean environments, dignified end of life-care and less prejudiced policing, are likely to develop. It will be a refusal by elites to institute serious and lasting reforms, that will begin to transform the coming struggles, from a form of collective pleading to be ‘saved’ from the effects of economic crisis to a movement wanting to replace the system.

It is only when circumstances become desperate enough, that victims move from requests or demands to actually seizing control of the mode of production to transform it. The theoretical proposition of a large quantity being transformed into a new quality, will eventually, assert itself in practice. Pushed too far, populations can turn from passive, submissive and sheep-like responses, to bold and assertive re-births of their essential humanity. However, to achieve individual rights of meaningful existence, working people globally will need to unite to free all humanity from the virus-like economic activity of capital.

Roy Ratcliffe (June 2020)

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SELF-PROTECTING COMMUNITIES!

HPC-09-edit

HPC- Community safety in Rojava.

Hawzhin Azeez, writes:

“In Rojava, Asayish (Internal Security Forces) and HPC (Civil Defense Forces) forces work together in a symbiotic relationship to provide safety and security to the community.”

“The Asayish work as traffic controllers, arrest criminals, protect victims of domestic violence, serve as security guards at main governing buildings and control the movement of people and goods from one canton to another. The HPC in contrast, are people trained in basic security who only patrol their own neighborhood. The purpose of both forces is explicitly to protect the people from outside threats such as terrorist forces. It is always the HPC that protects a neighborhood, never the Asayish. The Asayish protects the city while the HPC protects the community. Both organizations have a gender quota of at least 40 percent women, if not more.”

“Through this alternative method, the possibility of instituting hierarchies of power and authority are considerably reduced. The people are protecting themselves. Security forces protect those who they live with and interact with daily in the neighbourhood. This proximity ensures that violations occur only rarely. When they do occur, the neighbourhood communes immediately activate community mechanisms of justice, honor and restoration.”

“The social ecology of this system is protected by promoting women’s participation, a deep respect for multiculturalism and recognizing the sacredness of nature. It is not enough to create alternative institutions without significant educational efforts to undo patriarchal, socio-political, economic and cultural hierarchies. This system is established through concerted efforts toward democratization, education and unlearning within society. This is the only way that meaningful, long-term and organic change can occur.”

“In order to re-educate society, people in Rojava enter academies for one, two or even three months at a time. This is done on a volunteer basis but also involves government institutions. For example, the Ministry of Education rosters groups of up to thirty teachers at a time to enter academies. During this process, workers continue to be paid. Women with children can take their children along and have free childcare as they spend weeks learning about civic duties, democratic rights, gender liberation, ecological sustainability, the history of capitalism and more.”

“While at the academies, everyone participates in the daily cleaning, cooking and management of the education center. Such communal co-existence is promoted as a conscious effort to re-organize and reformulate society. These people then return to their communities and join the Asayish, the HPC, as well as the communes, cooperatives and local councils.”

“One of the foundational values of democratic confederalism is an anti-hierarchical approach to communal structures and co-existence. Essentially, for this anti-hierarchical system to work, it must be based on the active promotion of equality across ethnic, religious and decision-making processes. This approach starts with the difficult task of promoting women’s liberation and participation throughout the public arena. A quota of 40 to 60 percent women’s participation exists across all administrative and decision-making structures.”

“Rojava’s co-chair system requires that all leadership positions are held by one male and one female. This system is based on the fundamental recognition that political institutions with high degrees of women’s participation tend to be more inclusive and democratic in nature.”

“In a democratic confederalist system, people are encouraged to participate in civil society so that people’s interests and needs are expressed through mechanisms other than through ethno-religious positions and preferences. This civic re-orientation only works when people do not feel threatened because of their cultural identities. In this way, colonial alienation, fragmentation and anxieties are avoided while new, interlinked avenues of belonging and political expression are created. Likewise, political and civic participation is encouraged and expected. De-politicization, apathy and non-involvement are seen as the anti-thesis of a democratic society.”

[The above extracts and photo on community alternatives to state forms of policing are reproduced from an article by the Kurdish academic, poet and activist, Hawzhin Azeez and is published with her permission. The full article (recommended) appears in ROAR at;

http://roarmag.org/essay/police-abolition-and-other-lessons-from-rojava

or on her own blog –  http://hawzhin.press

Roy Ratcliffe (June 2020)

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