As land grabs by firms linked to multinationals drive small-holder farmers out of business, a group behind a February bid for compensation by 100 farmers says rights violations and environmental degradation are also at stake.
The outbreak of Ebola in West Africa had everything to do with logging, deforestation and the disruption of traditional agro-forestry by large scale industrial agriculture, writes Rob Wallace. The only long term solution to this terrible disease may lie in forest conservation, the restoration of agroecological farming systems, and the exclusion of agribusiness investment.
‘Land grabs’ stands tall as a major development challenge in Africa. Millions of agriculture dependent families are forced to leave their fertile lands for multinational companies who occupy the lands for business purposes.
Hicham Tiflati (HT): In my research on identity formation and the sense of belonging of young Muslims in Quebec, I have been finding that most of my participants deny their Quebecness and insist on being only Canadians. However, some of them cannot ...
In recent years, Amnesty International has issued meticulously documented, legally unflinching human rights reports on the Israel-Palestine conflict, for example, Operation “Cast Lead”: 22 days of death and destruction, a searing indictment of Israel’s 2008-9 assault on Gaza. But this has not always been the case. For many decades, this venerable human rights organization effectively gave Israel a free pass on its pervasive torture practices in the occupied Palestinian territories. Judging by the reports it issued after Israel’s summer 2014 assault on Gaza, Operation Protective Edge, Amnesty is regressing to its earlier apologetics. For those who have come to rely on and cite Amnesty as a source of accurate human rights reportage, this development is troubling and deeply frustrating. The primary purpose of this monograph is not to account for Amnesty’s apparent backpedaling, although some speculations on this score will be ventured in the conclusion, but to thoroughly document it, focusing in particular on Amnesty’s comprehensive indictment of Hamas, Unlawful and Deadly: Rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinian armed groups during the 2014 Gaza/Israel conflict.
A new report by Italian researchers shows that the controversial Senhuile project in Senegal is on the verge of collapse. The project, initiated by Italian and Senegalese investors four years ago to produce biofuels, has provoked fierce resistance from affected communities in which six people have died. Its investors claim to have secured the rights to 45,000 hectares of land, though the company has cultivated only a fraction of this; to make matters worse, Senhuile's disgraced former CEO is counter-suing the company on a variety of charges.
Greece is not being asked to swallow many bitter pills in exchange for a realistic plan of economic revival, they are asked to suffer so that others in the European Union can go on dreaming their dream undisturbed.by Slavoj Žižek
Why aren’t the great, qualified women already in tech being hired or promoted?
Should people who don’t fit in seek to join an institution that is actively hostile to them?
Does the tech industry deserve women leaders?
The split between the stated ideals of the corporate elite and the reality of working life for women in the tech industry—whether in large public tech companies or VC-backed start-ups, in anonymous gaming forums, or in Silicon Valley or Alley—seems designed to crush women’s spirits. Corporate manifestos by women who already fit in (or who are able to convincingly fake it) aren’t helping. There is a high cost for the generation of young women and transgender people currently navigating the harsh realities of the tech industry, who gave themselves to their careers only to be ignored, harassed and disrespected.
“The Young Lords had a defining influence on social activism, art, and identity politics, but the lasting significance of their achievements has rarely been examined,” said The Bronx Museum’s Executive Director Holly Block. “In ¡Presente! The Young Lords in New York, The Bronx Museum is partnering with El Museo del Barrio and Loisaida Inc. to explore the Young Lord’s cultural impact in New York and the country at large. The issues the Young Lords struggled with are still timely, and their aesthetic and cultural vision still inspires both artists and community leaders today. We’re pleased to work with our partner institutions to bring this story to the public.”
What do the struggles of the Greek people have in common with those of the Haitian slaves at the end of the eighteenth century or those of the Algerians in the middle of the twentieth century? Of course, these struggles are incomparable in many ways, but there is one important parallel that can be drawn. Both moments of anticolonial resistance compelled ruling power to show its true face and managed to shatter the myths informing that power’s universal claims and its so-called humane intentions. The Greek people are now doing the same thing with the myth of the “European Compromise.” The clear-cut rejection of European austerity policies in the recent referendum is yet another stage in the process in which the Greek resistance opens the eyes of the world, and brings the people of Europe face to face with what they are really up against.
Mary Prince was born in 1788, to an enslaved family in Bermuda. She was sold to a number of brutal owners and suffered from terrible treatment. Prince ended up in Antigua belonging to the Wood family. in December 1826, she married Daniel James, a former slave who had bought his freedom and worked as a carpenter and cooper.
For this act, she was severely beaten by her master. In 1828, she travelled to England with her owners. She eventually ran away and found freedom, but only in England and she could not return to her husband. Mary campaigned against slavery, working alongside the Anti Slavery Society and taking employment with Thomas Pringle, an abolitionist writer and Secretary to the Anti-Slavery Society.
She became the first woman to present an anti-slavery petition to Parliament and the first black woman to write and publish an autobiography, ‘The History of Mary Prince: A West Indian Slave '. The book was a key part of the anti slavery campaign. It made people in Britain aware that, although the Slave Trade had been made illegal, the horrors of life on the plantations continued for so many people. Extracts from Mary Prince's account are provided below.
Carlos Nuno Castel-Branco and Fernando Mbanze have been charged with crimes against the security of the state in relation to a Facebook post on poor governance in Mozambique. Help us guarantee that their right to freedom of speech is protected!
Carlos Nuno Castel-Branco is also the co-founder of Social and Economic Studies Institute (IESE), one of Mozambique's leading research institutions. He is accused of defaming the former Head of State of Mozambique and was charged under article 22 of the State Security Law (Law 19/91) on 11 June in relation to a Facebook post he made in November 2013. In the Facebook post, he questioned the manner in which former President Armando Guebuza had governed Mozambique. The charge against Carlos Nuno Castel-Branco is termed as a crime against the security of the state and carries a penalty of up to 2 years in prison and a corresponding fine. His trial has been set for 31st August.
Fernando Mbanze is the editor of the Mozambican newspaper MediaFax. He is charged with abusing freedom of the press under article 42 of Press Law (Law 18/91) in conjunction with the State Security Law. He published Carlos Nuno Castel-Branco’s Facebook post as an open letter in MediaFax.
A Wider Bridge’s programs seek to transform perceptions of Israel by portraying it as a “gay friendly” place. A Wider Bridge organizes speaking tours for Israeli activists working on LGBT issues, tours for LGBT people to go to Israel, and screenings of films that portray Israel as gay-friendly. It also works with campus-based Israel advocacy organizations to produce programming that portrays Israel as gay-friendly. Not surprisingly, A Wider Bridge partners with other Israel advocacy organizations like Hillel and Stand With Us. A Wider Bridge programming receives funding from the Israeli government and conservative foundations. A Wider Bridge’s talking points mirror the talking points that Israel advocacy organizations and the government of Israel have used for the past decade or so, portraying Israel as modern, diverse, democratic, an innovative.
The project of inventing the future of Africa in the world raises multiple issues, challenges and questions that will be dealt with by this panel. In what way does this project, understood as a preoccupation of the early 21st century, differ from and is similar to grand plans for social transformation that characterized the work of early pan-Africanists at the dawn of independence across the continent? Does this activity represent a return to the future? Should the future be essentially imagined as one or as a plurality? What are the foundational principles on which the society to come should be grounded? What are the unique contributions of various disciplines to imagining and constructing this future and what roles do interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary work stand to play in this process? What are the epistemological challenges and opportunities inherent in processes of imagining and thinking the future? Chair/Président: Mahmood Mamdani, Columbia University & Makerere Institute of Social Research; former President of CODESRIA Speakers/Intervenants: Adam Habib, University of Witwatersrand, (South Africa); Adebayo Olukoshi, former Executive Secretary of CODESRIA; Yang Guang, Institute of West Asian and African Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; Benjamin Soares, Afrika-Studiecentrum/African Studies Centre (The Netherlands)
Under its newly launched African Diaspora Support to African Universities program, the Council for the Development of Social Science research in Africa (CODESRIA), is pleased to invite interested African scholars in the Diaspora to submit proposals for visiting professorships to African Universities.
Outside the Middle East, the name of the Egyptian city Alexandria evokes images of the city’s lighthouse, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world or the ancient library of Alexandria. Both are symbolic of a golden age of culture and knowledge. ...
I was interviewed recently by La Decroissance Magazine (http://www.ladecroissance.net/?chemin=journal&numero=121) about my views about degrowth, climate change and the environment. The magazine has been printed but the content is not available online. For those who might be interested, here is the text of the interview.
La Décroissance: Faced with global warming, the upholders of green capitalism promote the acceleration of the deployment of technologies and advocate for “sustainable” development. Why has this strategy failed since the beginning of climate negotiations?
Firoze Manji: The failure is partly due to the promotion of false solutions but it is also due to the fact that the dynamics of neoliberal capitalism actually exacerbate the problem.
We are living in a period of a major crisis of capitalism characterized by the generalized decline of the rate of profit. It is also a period of unprecedented concentration and centralization of capital, with a few hundred corporations controlling every aspect of life, and an unprecedented financialization of capital. The falling rate of profit in production encourages capitalist speculation in credit, property and stock markets -- the unproductive sectors of the economy. We are in an era of ‘take, don’t make’. Under such conditions, accumulation by dispossession is the order of the day – anything to get a faster rate of return: land grabbing that results in the dispossession of millions of a means of livelihood; elimination of jobs and the reduction in the value of the living wage; natural resource extraction (amputation of non-renewable resources); commodification of nature so that it too can be a source of profit through speculation; forced opening of territories for exploitation (if necessary through the use of military force). And all of this is making our governments more accountable to corporations, banks and financial institutions than they are to citizens.
Neoliberalism, in a word, is the policy promoted by capital as the solution to the crisis of capital. Capitalism has produced global warming, serious loss of biodiversity, alarming increase in deforestation and desertification, toxicity and pollution of air, water and the soil. With growing public concern about climate change, capital has been desperate to ensure that its thirst for higher rates of profit is cloaked under a ‘green’ mantle. But that green has nothing to do with the conservation of nature: rather it is the green of the US dollar bill.
Resolving the problems of climate change requires long-term and carefully thought-out interventions. But the current desperation of capital for profits militates against such an approach. ‘The rules are short-termism, asset- stripping, rent-seeking, stealing, resource-grabbing, forced distribution from poor to rich, accelerated enclosure and all sorts of new swindles perpetrated under the rubric of “shareholder value”.’.
In keeping with the prevailing neoliberal ideology, the ‘solution’ promoted as ‘green capitalism’ involves increasing the commodification and financialization of nature, of living things and of ecosystems. ‘Green capitalism’ assumes that everything has a market price, even the regulation of the climate. Green capitalism’s ‘solutions’ include REDD (Reducing Emissions through Deforestation and Forest Degradation), privatization of water, the promotion of industrial agriculture, chaining small farmers to the domination of the agro-industrial complex, investment and promotion of geo-engineering and genetically modified organisms, nanotechnology and so on. Far from reducing emissions, the evidence suggests that these solutions are only exacerbating the problems associated with global warming. This is hardly surprising. As Einstein put it, you cannot solve problems with the same thinking used to create them. At heart, the so-called ‘green economy’ is only a variation of business as usual, that is to say, the drive for economic growth to increase the rate of profit by any means and as fast as possible.
La Décroissance: In Africa, the consequences of climate change are more substantial than in Europe: desertification, water scarcity, food problems etc. What are the main threats?
Firoze Manji: The continent of Africa is one of the most vulnerable of all continents to the impact of climate change. This is due not only to the fact that temperature rises on the continent are expected to be several degrees higher than elsewhere, but also to the economic, social and political devastation that African countries have faced over the last 30 years as a result of the imposition of neoliberal policies. These have left the populations impoverished, vulnerable and already severely impacted by global warming. The wide-scale privatization of the commons, the flooding of African markets with commodities produced in the advanced capitalist countries, the dramatic decline of value-added manufacturing, the removal of subsidies to farmers, the leasing or selling off of vast quantities of the most productive land to transnational corporations for speculation, have resulted in unprecedented levels of landlessness and unemployment. Large regions of marginal agriculture have been forced out of production. With projections of a reduction in yield of food in some countries by as much as 50%, the continent faces serious food insecurity. Even without climate change, it is estimated that more than 25% of the population of Africa (200 million people) already experience ‘high water stress’. Diminishing water tables are already being poisoned by effluents from mineral extraction and industrial agriculture operated by transnational corporations. With current projections of global warming, it is estimated that a further 600 million people are likely to face increased water stress over the next 20 years or so. Low lying lands on the coasts and the small islands are already facing inundations with rising sea-levels, and the situation will get worse over the coming years. Changes in weather patterns have already resulted in unpredictability of growing seasons. Ecological stresses as a result of climate change are contributing to conflicts as desertification forces communities to move into more fertile areas imposing on established and settled people, a factor that contributed, for example, to the crisis in Darfur.
La Décroissance: Must we decrease production, consumption, transportation, and reconsider our needs and our economic organization? Do you think that we have to opt for degrowth?
Firoze Manji: When people talk about ‘we’, to whom are they referring? Seen from the perspective of Africa, ‘we’ have suffered from a devastating period of degrowth over the last 30 or more years since the adoption of neoliberal policies by our governments. And what little is produced in Africa – primarily agricultural products, oil and minerals – is virtually all destined for transformation and consumption in the advanced capitalist countries. There is precious little local production to fulfill the needs of the majority of the people of our countries.
To resolve our situation, we need in Africa to increase production and improve transportation and communication so we don’t have to starve, so we don’t have to live in cardboard shacks, so that we have access to clean water and sanitation, so that we can build schools, hospitals and health centers, so that we have decent employment and affordable drugs, food, clothing, housing, to mention only some of the human needs that we currently lack. We need to invest in the infrastructure and means of production of human and social needs to break Africa’s historical and current subordination to the needs of industrialized North. In effect, we need to break with the domination of our economies by transnational corporations and financial institutions.
So in Africa we need growth: not the mythical one measured by GDP growth that reflects the enrichment of the few and the pauperization of the many. We’ve had enough of degrowth.
The choice of ‘degrowth’ may be an option for those, including our elites and middle classes in Africa, who have been brought up with the over-indulgences of advanced capitalism. It is not a choice available to those impoverished by the same system.
The overproduction of commodities, destructive extraction of natural resources, and fierce accumulation by dispossession are symptoms of a system that is desperate to stave off the declining rate of profit. It doesn’t make sense then to treat only the symptoms (degrowth) without addressing the underlying causes (capital accumulation).
La Décroissance: Do you think that there is an elemental opposition between economic growth and ecology?
Firoze Manji: I think there is a fundamental opposition between growth of the capitalist economy and maintaining a balance with the ecosystem of which humans are a part. Ever since its origins, growth of the capitalist economy has always been achieved at the expense of that ecosystem. It has involved enslavement of millions, genocide, colonization, amputation of non-renewable resources, pillage, piracy, militarization, theft, poisoning of ecosystems, loss of species of animals and plants, dispossessions and imprisonment of cultures and societies within capitalist social relations of production, all in the interest of accumulation of capital by a few. The growth of capital has always required enforced degrowth, and resultant impoverishment, of the vast majority of the peoples and economies of the Third World. Many people are finally becoming aware of the cumulative effect of this destructive mode of production on the ability of the ecosystem to renew itself in a sustainable manner, and of the impending threat to the viability of the planet as a living system.
I don’t believe that there is an ‘elemental opposition’ between economic growth and ecology per se. An economy based on meeting the needs (not just material) of all of humanity and of ‘mother earth’ need not necessarily result in disequilibrium within the ecosystem. Having a system in equilibrium – homeostasis – need not necessarily mean that there would be no growth in any part of that system. It may be that a system that is geared towards fulfilling human needs and towards maintaining the equilibrium of the planet’s ecosystem would require some degree of degrowth. But the system we have today is not open to the possibility of equilibrium because its very nature is to use every means possible to allow a minority to accumulate by dispossession and destruction. It is this logic that results in the serious disequilibrium within the ecosystem that threatens its very existence.
La Décroissance: How could we re-organize our societies and our way of life towards simplicity and solidarity? What political actions could we take to massively reduce our energy consumption and abandon the obsession for economic growth?
Firoze Manji: This is not the place for outlining a ‘manifesto’, but let me make some suggestions for discussion. The problems we face have been created and perpetuated by a system that has a voracious appetite for profits without regard to ecological impact. What is frequently forgotten is that this ecology includes human societies. The solution cannot therefore be considered in technological or even technical terms, but rather we need to consider it in social and political terms.
The precondition for the solution to re-establishing an ecological equilibrium has to be the encouragement and nurturing of popular movements, especially amongst those most disenfranchised and impoverished by the system. Without the active participation of the popular masses, we cannot arrive at a solution that overcomes the democratic deficit of the current system.
Perhaps the first step requires public discussion about how do we democratize the economy and the ways decisions are made. Who decides what is produced? Who decides why it is produced, how much is produced, and for whom it is produced? Who benefits from the production that takes place? And what is done with the value so created? Currently a minority makes these decisions without any accountability or even reference to citizens. Public debate on such questions are needed to challenge the ‘right’ of that minority to make decisions that affect the majority. Democratization of every aspect of life – be it about production, distribution, healthcare, housing, sanitation, education, etc. – is fundamentally necessary.
A billion people are considered today to be ‘hungry’ not because there is not enough food in the world but because people, even those who labour in agriculture, are unable to afford the price of basic foods due to speculation on food on the stock markets. This calls for an ending of speculation on food and other basic necessities.
Similarly there is an urgent need for democratization of the management of natural resources. There has already been massive extraction (or more correctly, amputation) of non-renewable resources which are then stockpiled for speculative reasons. Is there a need to continue extraction of non-renewable resources? To what extent can we “Keep the oil in the soil; the coal in the hole” as Nnimmo Bassey has proposed? Similarly, we need to consider what needs to be done about democratization of energy, food production and resource management and so on.
But all these aspects of life are currently controlled by transnational corporations who are backed by the armed might of the imperialist triad – US, Europe and Japan. The struggle for the democratization is inevitably, thus, an anti-imperialist struggle.
Nairobi, June 2015.
 Firoze Manji is the founder and former editor-n-chief of Pambazuka News. He is currently director of the Pan-African Baraza and is based in Nairobi, Kenya.
 Boko, M., I. Niang, A. Nyong, C. Vogel, A. Githeko, M. Medany, B. Osman-Elasha, R. Tabo and P. Yanda, 2007: Africa. Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, M.L. Parry, O.F. Canziani, J.P. Palutikof, P.J. van der Linden and C.E. Hanson, Eds., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK, 433-467.
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