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SearchPublished onFriday, November 08, 2019byTruthdig

Governments Beware: People Are Rising Up All Over the World

Free-market capitalism has proved time and again to be a failure. The promised riches are distributed far too unequally, and for most they never transpire.bySonali Kolhatkar

 1 Comments

The only way to preserve the current social and economic order is by force. And when people have had enough, they meet force with resistance and resilience. (Photo: by Martin Bernetti/AFP via Getty Images)

The only way to preserve the current social and economic order is by force. And when people have had enough, they meet force with resistance and resilience. (Photo: by Martin Bernetti/AFP via Getty Images)

Lately there seem to be an unusually large number of mass resistance movements unfolding in countries all over the world. Here in the U.S., Puerto Rico’s recent political turmoil upended the entire local government structure. In Latin America, there have been upheavals over the past few weeks in PeruBoliviaEcuador and Chile. In the Caribbean, Haiti is experiencing its worst political turmoil since the 2004 ouster of President Jean Bertrand Aristide. On the other side of the planet, Arab nations like Iraq and Lebanon have erupted into mass upheavals. Sudan just a few months ago toppled dictator Omar al-Bashir and now wants his party disbanded. And in Hong Kong, months of mass sustained protests have brought the nation to a standstill. What is happening?

There are common themes running throughout this widespread global uprising. The unrest is marked by a deep dissatisfaction with an economic order that benefits elites over others, combined with outrage against authoritarianism and the use of force to quell dissent. Often these are intertwined, as regimes use force to maintain the unequal economic order and demand public subservience and obedience. Then, a new proposed rule or law— seemingly innocuous at first—lights the spark of protest over long-simmering issues. In the internet age, activists organize with greater ease than before and are highly educated about their plight, giving them a greater ability to document and share abuses far and wide.

I spoke with three people to try to understand the common threads of protest in Chile, Lebanon and Hong Kong, and to explore why and how people have been rising up and organizing in the face of inequality and repression. Mia Dragnic is a sociologist from Chile and a doctoral candidate in Latin American studies at the University of Chile. Dragnic considers herself a “feminist militant” and, in the midst of her current tenure as a visiting scholar at University of California at San Diego, she explained to me in an interview that Chilean President Sebastián Piñera “has not attempted to dialogue with social movements nor changed any of the type of structural factors that have given rise to the current crisis.” Chileans rose up after the announcement of a hike in subway fares, but as is often the case, their response to the fare hike was symptomatic of a broader economic resentment. In fact, although Chile has been lauded for being an economic miracle, it experiences the highest level of inequality among OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) nations.

According to Dragnic, the protesters “are demanding social rights because the Chilean state has privatized those rights and converted itself into a guarantor of the rights of the private sector.” Those “social rights,” she says, include “education, health and housing.” Dragnic recently authored a statement titled “International Community Against the Militarization of Chile,” which was signed by thousands of academics, activists and others. The statement demands Piñera’s resignation and denounces his militarized response to the protests. So far, Piñera’s response has been to oust eight ministers, but he has resolutely refused to resign from his own position. Dragnic pointed out Piñera has “handed power to a military general to handle the protests.” Many fear that such a move is reminiscent of Chile’s violent past, when the U.S. backed a brutal 1973 coup against the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende and helped install the notorious dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Across the world in Lebanon, Prime Minister Saad Hariri was more responsive to dissent than Chile’s Piñera, resigning after just 13 days of sustained mass protests in cities all over the country that included the formation of a human chain. As with the subway fare incident in Chile, outrage among the Lebanese public was initially triggered by the announcement of a tax on the popular texting software WhatsApp, but it reflected a deeper economic discontent.

I recently spoke with Jackson Allers. In our interview, Allers explained to me that Lebanese people are fed up with their government because “the infrastructure has crumbled, [and] the currency, which is artificially pegged to the U.S. dollar, is in absolute disarray right now, and it mirrors what’s happened around the Arab world since 2012.” Allers was referring to the Arab Spring movements in many Middle Eastern nations that comprised a wave of pro-democracy movements demanding democratic reforms. “The final straw was on Oct. 17,” said Allers, “[which] was when the government imposed a tax on WhatsApp phone calls.”

Allers pointed out Lebanon’s crisis was centered on the failures of capitalism, calling the country “a perfect example of a free-market state,” and “crony capitalism gone rampant.” One of the positive hallmarks of this mass movement — unlike previous eras of dissent in Lebanon — is the cross-sectarian nature of protesters. People from nearly every socioeconomic, political and religious sector are joining together. They say Hariri’s resignation is not enough and want to see an overturning of the entire corrupt system.

Elsewhere on the globe, in Hong Kong, which has occupied international headlines for many months now, protesters are also sustaining their activism for the long haul. Although the protests were initially triggered by a controversial extradition plan with China, they are now a response to broader issues of control, authoritarianism and—just as is the case in many other sites of dissent—the economy. Economic inequality in Hong Kong has increased dramatically and is now the greatest it has been in 45 years.

brutal police response overseen by Chief Executive Carrie Lam has only hardened the resolve of the largely youth-led and seemingly leaderless movement. Joy Ming King is activist born and raised in Hong Kong and an undergraduate student at Wesleyan University. In an interview, he explained to me that activists marked an ongoing ban on face masks in the public realm by donning masks en masse on Halloween while defying authorities. King, who has been participating in the ongoing protests through organizing and direct action both outside and inside Hong Kong through his work in the Lausan Collective, explained that the creative action was an example of “collective enjoyment and rejuvenation, a way to sustain the movement, and that Hong Kongers are organizing largely through the use of digital technology in online forums and without leaders directing most of the actions. The anger that residents feel toward the government is aimed both at the local authorities and at China, which through its special relationship with Hong Kong has attempted to exert greater control over the semi-autonomous city.

The commonalities of why there are so many movements in disparate parts of the world are quite striking. Free-market capitalism has proved time and again to be a failure. The promised riches are distributed far too unequally, and for most they never transpire. The only way to preserve the current social and economic order is by force. And when people have had enough, they meet force with resistance and resilience. These are lessons not just for ordinary people suffering economic injustices, but for the governments that oversee them.

Sonali Kolhatkar

Sonali Kolhatkar is a columnist for Truthdig. She also is the founder, host and executive producer of “Rising Up With Sonali,” a television and radio show that airs on Free Speech TV (Dish Network, DirecTV, Roku) and Pacifica stations KPFK, KPFA, and affiliates. She is the former founder, host and producer of KPFK Pacifica’s popular morning drive-time program “Uprising.” She is also the co-director of the Afghan Women’s Mission, a U.S.-based non-profit solidarity organization that funds the social, political, and humanitarian projects of RAWA. She is the author, with James Ingalls, of “Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords, and the Propaganda of Silence” (2006).
© 2019 TruthDig

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Biden is NOT the answer

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SearchPublished onThursday, November 07, 2019byCommon Dreams

‘The Answer Is Not Joe Biden’: The Nation Magazine Issues Official Anti-Endorsement

“Stumbling through the primaries, Biden’s zombie campaign crowds out worthier challengers, handing Trump a free pass on the very issues that should be his Achilles’ heel.”byJon Queally, staff writer

 37 Comments

Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the Iowa Democratic Party Liberty & Justice Celebration on November 1, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa. Fourteen presidential are expected to speak at the event addressing over 12,000 people. (Photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the Iowa Democratic Party Liberty & Justice Celebration on November 1, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa. Fourteen presidential are expected to speak at the event addressing over 12,000 people. (Photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

While claiming it’s still too early to make a choice between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, The Nation—among the oldest amd most widely-circulated progressive magazines in the U.S.—went public early Thursday morning with its “anti-endorsement” of the third top-tier candidate in this year’s Democratic primary race: former Vice President Joe Biden.

“Biden’s long record of poor judgment—on everything from the 1994 crime bill that fueled mass incarceration to his botched handling of Anita Hill’s testimony against Clarence Thomas to his defense of Bill Clinton’s brutal welfare cuts to his support for the Iraq War to his role as cheerleader for Wall Street deregulation,” argues The Nation editorial, make the candidate a uniquely weak opponent to put up against President Donald Trump, “whose reelection poses a clear and present danger to America’s survival as a constitutional republic.”

“Stumbling through the primaries,” the editorial states, “Biden’s zombie campaign crowds out worthier challengers, handing Trump a free pass on the very issues that should be his Achilles’ heel.”

In 2016, The Nation was the first national publication to endorse Sanders in the Democratic primary. And while editor D.D. Guttenplan explained in a recent editorial why “We Don’t Have to Choose Between Warren and Sanders Yet,” the magazine believed it was time to take a firm position on Biden—running a campaign that is making “muddy what should be a devastatingly clear choice.”

Of course some readers responded by saying the call for Biden to withdraw is clearly undemocratic at this stage of the primary process.

But, according to The Nation, there’s a strong case to be made that Biden could help repeat history and allow Trump four more years in the White House.

Like Hillary Clinton in 2016, Joe Biden offers the promise of picking up where the Obama administration left off: a restoration of business as usual for the K Street lobbyists and Wall Street speculators whose prosperity the 2008 financial crisis did little to disturb. Indeed, as Joseph N. DiStefano reports in this issue, the man posing as “middle-class Joe” has built his career and his family’s wealth on an eagerness to serve not the many Americans crushed by credit card debt but the very banks whose hands are around their throats. The candidate who insists Medicare for All is too expensive for Americans is also the candidate who, like Clinton, endorsed NAFTA, China’s admission to the World Trade Organization, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership—all of which have savaged U.S. manufacturing and workers. Clinton’s record cost her the industrial heartland (Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan) and, with it, the election.

For these reasons and others, the editorial board calls on “Biden to put service to country above personal ambition and withdraw from the race.”

While Biden continues to lead most national polls, his grip on clear frontrunner status has slipped as both Warren and Sanders have gained ground.

A new national Monmouth poll released Wednesday showed Biden with the slimmest of leads overall at 23%, but in a statistical tie with Sanders and Warren who both received 20% in the survey with +/- of 5.3%.Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share widely.

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Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don’t survive on clicks. We don’t want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can’t do it alone. It doesn’t work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Won’t Exist.

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As Maine Goes

Maine’s election of Safiya Khalid as the first Somali-American on the Lewiston City Council made national news, as it should. But Khalid’s victory is just part of a heartening trend in the country’s whitest state, where “from away” once meant hailing from the next town. On Tuesday, nine brown and black immigrants also won office as “people who look different realizing we need a seat at the table.” Working together, says one, “we will all rise together.”Read More… More Further

About Common Dreams

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To ignite change for the common good.

Common Dreams has been providing breaking news & views for the progressive community since 1997. We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

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Portland, ME 04112-0443
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